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the land, Joshua built an altar to the Lord of whole stones upon Mount Ebal; and there he wrote upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written in the presence of the children of Israel. And all Israel, and their elders and officers, and their judges, stood on the two sides of the ark of the covenant, borne by the priests and Levites, — six tribes over against Mount Gerizim, and six over against Mount Ebal; and he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that was written in the book of the law.
Fellow-citizens, the ark of your covenant is the Declaration of Independence ; your Mount Ebal is the confederacy of separate State sovereignties; and your Mount Gerizim is the Constitution of the United States. In that scene of tremendous and awful solemnity, narrated in the Holy Scriptures, there is not a curse pronounced against the people upon Mount Ebal, not a blessing promised them upon Mount Gerizim, which your posterity may not suffer or enjoy from your and their adherence to or departure from the principles of the Declaration of Independence, practically interwoven in the Constitution of the United States.
Lay up these principles, then, in your hearts and in your souls; bind them for signs upon your heads, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes ; teach them to your children, speaking of them when sitting in your houses, when walking by the way, when lying down, and when rising up; write them upon the door-plates of your houses, and upon your gates ; cling to them as to the issues of life; adhere to them as to the cords of your eternal salvation ! So may your children's children, at the next return of this day of jubilee, after a full century of experience under your national Constitution, celebrate it again, in the full enjoyment of all the blessings recognized by you in commemoration of this day, and of all the blessings promised to the children of Israel upon Mount Gerizim as the reward of obedience to the law of God!
II. - TO A WATERFOWL
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT was born in Cummington, Massachusetts, November 3, 1794. He was admitted to the bar, but soon left the profession of the law, and has for many years resided in or near the city of New York, as one of the editors and proprietors of the “New York Evening Post," a daily paper which has a wide circulation and much influence. It is not necessary to point out, at any length, the merits of a poet whose productions were the delight of his own countrymen, and were well known abroad, long before the young persons for whose use this work is intended were born. It is enough to say that his poems are distinguished by the perfect finish of their style, their elevated tone, their dignity of sentiment, and their lovely pictures of American scenery. He is, at once, the most truthful and the most delightful of painters. We find in his pages all the most obvious and all the most retiring graces of our native landscapes, but nothing borrowed from books, - nothing transplanted from a foreign soil.
WHITHER, midst falling dew,
Thy solitary way ?
Vainly the fowler's eye
Thy figure floats along.
Seek'st thou the plashy brink
On the chafed ocean-side ?
There is a Power whose care
Lone wandering, but not lost.
All day thy wings have fanned,
Though the dark night is near.
And soon that toil shall end ;
Soon o'er thy sheltered nest.
Thou 'rt gone; the abyss of heaven
And shall not soon depart.
He who, from zone to zone,
Will lead my steps aright.
III. — THE BURNING OF MOSCOW.
N the 14th of September, 1812, while the rear-guard
of the Russians were in the act of evacuating Moscow, Napoleon reached the hill called the Mount of
Salvation, because it is there that the natives kneel and cross themselves at first sight of the Holy City.
Moscow seemed lordly and striking as ever, with the steeples of its thirty churches and its copper domes glittering in the sun; its palaces of Eastern architecture, mingled with trees and surrounded with gardens; and its Kremlin, a huge triangular mass of towers, something between a palace and a castle, which rose like a citadel out of the general mass of groves and buildings. But not a chimney sent up smoke, not a man appeared on the battlements or at the gates.
Napoleon gazed, every moment expecting to see a train of bearded boyars arriving to fling themselves at his feet, and place their wealth at his disposal. His first exclamation was, “ Behold at last that celebrated city!” His next, “ It was full time !” His army, less regardful of the past or the future, fixed their eyes on the goal of their wishes, and a shout of “ Moscow ! Moscow !” passed from rank to rank.
When he entered the gates of Moscow, Bonaparte, as if unwilling to encounter the sight of the empty streets, stopped immediately on entering the first suburb. His troops were quartered in the desolate city.
During the first few hours after their arrival an obscure rumor, which could not be traced, but one of those which are sometimes found to get abroad before the approach of some awful certainty, announced that the city would be endangered by fire in the course of the night. The report seemed to arise from those evident circumstances which rendered the event probable; but no one took any notice of it until at midnight, when the soldiers were startled from their quarters by the report that the town was in flames.
The memorable conflagration began amongst the warehouses and workshops in the bazaar, or general market, which was the richest district of the city. It was imputed to accident, and the progress of the flames was subdued by the exertions of the French soldiers.
Napoleon, who had been aroused by the tumult, hurried to the spot; and when the alarm seemed at an end, he retired, not to his former quarters in the suburbs, but to the Kremlin, the hereditary palace of the only sovereign whom he had ever treated as an equal, and over whom his successful arms had now attained such an apparently immense superiority. Yet he did not suffer himself to be dazzled by the advantage he had obtained, but availed himself of the light of the blazing bazaar to write to the Emperor proposals of peace with his own hand.
They were despatched by a Russian officer of rank, who had been disabled by indisposition from following the army ; but no answer was ever returned.
Next day the flames had disappeared, and the French officers luxuriously employed themselves in selecting out of the deserted palaces of Moscow that which best pleased the fancy of each for his residence. At night the flames again arose in the north and west quarters of the city.
As the greater part of the houses were built of wood, the conflagration spread with the most dreadful rapidity. This was at first imputed to the blazing brands and sparks which were carried by the wind; but at length it was observed that as often as the wind changed — and it changed three times in that terrible night - new flames broke out in that direction where the existing gale was calculated to drive them on the Kremlin.
These horrors were increased by the chance of explo