Page images
PDF
EPUB

brace. The assassin enters, through the window already prepared, into an unoccupied apartment. With noiseless foot he paces the lonely hall, half lighted by the moon; he winds

up the ascent of the stairs, and reaches the door of the chàmber. Of this he moves the lock, by soft and continued pressure, till it turns on its hinges; and he enters and be. holds his victim before him. The room was uncommonly open to the admission of light. The face of the innocent sleeper was turned from the murderer, and the beams of the moon, resting on the gray locks of his aged temple, showed him where to strike. The fatal blow is given! and the vic. tim passes, without a struggle or a motion, from the repose of sleep to the repose of death. It is the assassin's purpose to make sure work, and he yet plies the dagger, though it was obvious that life had been destroyed by the blow of the bludgeon. He even raises the aged arm, that he may not fail in his aim at the heart, and replaces it again over the wounds of the poniard ! To finish the picture, he explores the wrist for the pulse! he feels it, and ascertains that it beats no longer! It is accomplished. The deed is done. He re. treats, retraces his steps to the window, passes out through it as he came in, and escapes. He has done the murderno eye has seen him, no ear has heard him. The secret is his own, and it is safe!

Ah! gentlemen, that was a dreadful mistake. Such a secret can be safe no where. The whole creation of God has neither nook nor corner, where the guilty can bestow it, and say it is safe. Not to speak of THAT EYE which glances through all disguises, and beholds every thing, as in the splendor of noon, -such secrets of guilt are never safe from detection, even by men. True it is, generally speaking, that 6 murder will out." True it is, that Providence hath so or. dained, and doth so govern things, that those who break the great law of heaven, by shedding man's blood, seldom suc. ceed in avoiding discovery. Especially in a case exciting so much attention as this, discovery must come, and will come, sooner or later. A thousand eyes turn at once to explore every man, every thing, every circumstance, connected with the time and place, a thousand ears catch every whisper; a thousand excited minds intensely dwell on the scene, shed. ding all their light, and ready to kindle the slightest circum. stance into a blaze of discovery. Mean time, the guilty soul cannot keep its own secret. It is false to itself, or rather it feels an irresistible impulse of conscience to be true to itself. It labors under its guilty possession, and knows not what to do with it. The human heart was not made for the residence of such an inhabitant. It finds itself preyed on by a torment, which it does not acknowledge to God nor man. A vulture is devouring it, and it can ask no sympathy or assistance either from heaven or earth. The secret which the mur. derer possesses soon comes to possess him ; and, like the evil spirits of which we read, it overcomes him, and leads him withersoever it will. He feels it beating at his heart, rising to his throat, and demanding disclosure. He thinks the whole world sees it in his face, reads it in his eyes, and al. most hears its workings in the very silence of his thoughts. It has become his master. It betrays his discretion, it breaks down his courage, it conquers his prudence. When suspi. cions, from without, begin to embarrass him, and the net of circumstance to entangle him, the fatal secret struggles with still greater violence to burst forth. It must be confessed, it will be confessed, there is no refuge from confession but suicide, and suicide is confession.

CLXXII.-A SENSE OF DUTY EVER WIIH US.

Extract from the same Argument.

Gentlemen of the Jury,—Your whole concern, in this case, should be to do your duty, and leave consequences to take care of themselves. You will receive the law from the court. Your verdict, it is true, may endanger the prisoner's life ; but then it is to save other lives. If the prisoner's guilt has been shown and proved, beyond all reasonable doubt, you will convict him. If such reasonable doubts of guilt still re. main, you will acquit him. You are the judges of the whole

You owe a duty to the public, as well as to the prison. er at the bar. You cannot presume to be wiser than the law. Your duty is a plain, straight forward one. Doubtless, we would all judge him in mercy. Towards him, as an indi.

case.

vidual, the law inculcates no hostility ; but towards him, if proved to be a murderer, the law, and the oaths

you

have taken, and public justice, demand that you do your duty.

With consciences satisfied with the discharge of duty, no consequences can harm you. There is no evil that we can. not either face or fly from, but the consciousness of duty disregarded.

A sense of duty pursues us ever. It is omnipresent, like the Deity. If we take to ourselves the 'wings of the morning and dwell in the utmost parts of the seas, duty performed, or duty violated, is still with us, for our happiness, or our misery. If we say the darkness shall cover us, in the darkness as in the light, our obligations are yet with us.

We cannot escape their power, nor fly from their presence. They are with us in this life, will be with us at its close ; and in that scene of inconceivable solemnity, which lies yet farther onward-We shall still find ourselves surrounded by the consciousness of duty, to pain us wherever it has been violated, and to console us so far as God may have given us grace to perform it.

CLXXIII. -THE INFLUENCE, UPON AMERICA, OF THE INSTITU.

TIONS AND THE LITERATURE OF ENGLAND.

Extract from the Speech of John Randolph, delivered in the House of

Representatives of the United Sta December 10, 1811, upon the Bill for increasing the Army.

Mr. Chairman,- I would ask against whom are the unjust charges of British attachments brought? Against men, who, in the war of the revolution, were in the councils of the na. tion, or fighting the battles of your country. And by whom are they made? By runaways chiefly from the British do. minions, since the breaking out of the French troubles. It is insufferable. It cannot be borne. It must and ought, with severity, to be put down in this House, and out of it, to meet the lie direct. We have no fellow-feeling for the suffering and oppressed Spaniards! Yet even them we do not reprobate! Strange! that we should have no objection to any other people or government, civilized or savage, in the whole

arms.

can

world ! The great autocrat of all the Russias receives the homage of our high consideration. The Dey of Algiers and his divan of pirates are very civil, good sort of people, with whom we find no difficulty in maintaining the relations of peace and amity. Turks, Jews, and infidels, barbarians and savages

of

every clime and color, are welcome to our With chiefs of banditti, negro or mulatto, we treat and can trade. Name, however, but England, and all our antipathies are up in arms against her. Against whom? Against those whose blood runs in our veins : in common with whom, we claim Shakspeare, and Newton, and Chatham for our countrymen; whose form of government is the freest on earth, our own only excepted; from whom every valuable principle of our own institutions has been borrowed—representation-jury trial-voting the supplieswrit of habeas corpus- our whole civil and criminal juris. prudence—against our own fellow-protestants, identified in blood, in language, in religion with ourselves. In what school did the worthies of our land, the Washingtons, Hen. rys, Hancocks, Franklins, Rutledges of America, learn those principles of civil liberty, which were so nobly asserted by their wisdom and valor? American resistance to British usurpation has not been more warmly cherished by these great men and there compatriots ; not more by Washington, Hancock, and Henry, than by Chatham and his illustrious associates in the British parliament. It ought to be remembered, too, that the heart of the English people was with us. It was a selfish and cori

orrupt ministry, and their servile tools, to whom we were not more opposed than they were. knowledge the influence of a Shakspeare and a Milton upon my imagination, of a Locke upon my understanding, of a Sidney upon my political principles, of a Chatham upon qualities which, would to God, I possessed in common with that illustrious man!' of a Tillotson, a Sherlock, and a Portėus, upon my religion. This is a British influence which I can never shake off. I allow, indeed, much to the just and honest prejudices growing out of the revolution. whom have they been suppressed when they ran counter to the interests of my country? By Washington. By whom, would you listen to them, are they most keenly felt? By felons escaped from the jails of Paris and Newgate, since

I ac

But by

ers.

the breaking out of the Frenoh revolution ; who, in thi abused and insulted country, have set up for political teach

These are the patriots, who scruple not to brand wit. the epithet of Tory, the men by whose blood your libertie have been cemented. Ask these self-styled patriots where they were during the American war, and you strike then dumb; their lips are closed in eternal silence. If it were allowable to entertain partialities, every consideration of blood, language, religion, and interest, would incline us to wards England.

CLXXIV.---ODE-LIEERTY TO ATHENS.

Percival.

The flag of freedom floats once more
Around the lofty Parthenon;
It waves, as waved the palm of yore,
In days departed long and gone;
As bright a glory from the skies,
Pours down its light around those towers,
And once again the Greeks arise,
As in their country's noblest hours;
Their swords are girt in virtue's cause,
Minerva's sacred hill is free-
O! may she keep her equal laws,
While man shall live, and time shall be.

The pride of all her shrines went down ;
The Goth, the Frank, the Turk, had reft
The laurel from her civic crown;
Her helm by many a sword was cleft:
She lay among her ruins low-
Where grew the palm, the cypress rose,
And crushed and bruised by many a blow-
She cowered beneath her

savage
But now again she springs from earth,
The loud awakening trumpet speaks ;
She rises in a brighter birth,
And sounds redemption to the Greeks.

foes ;

« PreviousContinue »