« PreviousContinue »
or organs, or faculties, by which to exert itself hereafter in the pursuit of that prosperity and happiness.
Other misfortunes may be borne, or their effects overcome. If disastrous war should sweep our commerce from the ocean, another generation may renew it; if it exhaust our treasury, future industry may replenish it; if it desolate and lay waste our fields, still, under a new cultivation, they will grow green again, and ripen to future harvests. It were but a trifle, even if the walls of yonder Capitol were to crumble, if its lofty pillars should fall, and its gorgeous decorations be all covered by the dust of the valley. All these might be rebuilt. But who shall reconstruct the fabric of demolished government? Who shall rear again the well-proportioned columns of constitutional liberty? Who shall frame together the skilful architecture which unites national sovereignty with State rights, individual security, and public prosperity? No, if these columns fall, they will be raised not again. Like the Coliseum and the Parthenon, they will be destined to a mournful, a melancholy immortality. Bitterer tears, however, will flow over them than were ever shed over the monuments of Roman or Grecian art; for they will be the remnants of a more glorious edifice than
Greece or Rome ever saw, the edifice of constitutional American liberty.
But let us hope for better things. Let us trust in that gracious Being who has hitherto held our country as in the hollow of his hand. Let us trust to the virtue and the intelligence of the people, and to the efficacy of religious obligation. Let us trust to the influence of Washington's example. Let us hope that that fear of heaven which expels all other fear, and that regard to duty which transcends all other regard may influence public men and private citizens, and lead our country still onward in her happy career. Full of these gratifying anticipations and hopes, let us look forward to the end of that century which is now commenced. A hundred years hence, other disciples of Washington will celebrate his birth, with no less sincere admiration than we now commemorate it. When they shall meet, as we now meet, to do themselves and him that honor, so surely as they shall see the blue summits of his native mountains rise in the horizon, so surely as they shall behold the river on whose banks he lived, and on whose banks he rests, still flowing on toward the sea, so surely may they see, as we now see, the flag of the Union floating on the top of the Capitol; and then, as now, may the sun in his course visit no land more
free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country!
EDWIN GORDON LAWRENCE
Edwin Gordon Lawrence, teacher of oratory and dramatic art, and author of "The Power of Speech" and "The Lawrence Reader and Speaker," was born in Philadelphia, Pa., November 1, 1859. The following is an extract from a lecture delivered in New York during 1906 and 1907.
F William Shakespeare, the man, I have very
little to say, as almost nothing is known concerning him. That he lived and died we know, for the evidence that proves these facts exists, and is at the disposal of all who seek it, but the events of his life, except for some trifling details, are shrouded in mystery. Even the dates of his birth and marriage, and the spelling of his name, are uncertain. He was born in April, 1564, but on what day we do not know. He was, however, baptized on the twenty-sixth of that month, and as it was customary to take the child to the font when it was three days old, we conclude he was born on the twenty-third. He was educated at the grammar school of his native town, which he attended for about six years, during which time he studied the usual English branches, and gained a smattering of
Latin. This was all the schooling he is known to have received, although there was a period of about five years in his life, when he first went to London, which he is supposed to have devoted to broadening his education generally, and particularly to gaining a knowledge of French and Italian.
William Shakespeare was born, as is supposed, on April 23, 1564, at Stratford-on-Avon, and died there, exactly fifty-two years later, on April 23, 1616. We know little more than this concerning the man, but the dramatist has left to us inexhaustible fountains of knowledge that will be a source of enjoyment, inspiration, and benefit to mankind until time shall be no more.
When nineteen years of age he married Ann Hathaway, a woman eight years his senior, by whom he had three children, two only reaching maturity, Susanna, who married John Hall, a physician, by whom she had a daughter named Elizabeth, the only grandchild of the poet's to grow to maturity, and as she died without issue the direct line of descent from the great dramatist ceased with her death, and Judith, the wife of Thomas Quiney, whose three children died before reaching man's estate.
So you see we do not know the exact date of his birth, neither the date when the religious cere
mony was performed which united him to Ann Hathaway, nor the date of his leaving Stratford, nor what he did with himself for five years after reaching London, nor even the correct way of spelling his name. And all that the many com
mentators can tell us of the life of this remarkable man, beyond the few facts I have stated, is that it is "supposed" to have been "such and such," it is "believed" he did "so and so," and thus it goes through chapters and volumes devoted to legends, surmises, and guesses which give us no knowledge, but only tend to confuse us, concerning the earthly career of the man to whom God entrusted the greatest mind that ever dwelt within a mortal sphere, and which left children of its creation to live long after all issue of his corporeal frame had passed into oblivion.
Some claim that we can know Shakespeare the man by means of the characters he created, that as they are the children of his brain they consequently reflect his feelings and desires. This I consider erroneous, because Shakespeare was primarily a dramatist and depicted men and things as he saw them and not, like the poet, as he fancied them. He knew man and nature as no other writer has known them, and he tells us only of the men and things he knew except, as in "The Tempest