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and from the faithful discharge of this duty he never swerved for a moment, either in thought or deed, through the whole period of his eventful career.
XXXI. - WASHINGTON'S GENIUS.
E. P. WHIPPLE.
EDWIN PERCY WHIPPLE was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, on the 8th of March, 1819. He has been for many years a resident of Boston. He is well known as a lyceum lecturer and a brilliant essayist. He has addressed various literary societies in a style of much beauty and power. His published works are remarkable for vigor of treatment and copious illustrations. They are as follows:
“ Success and its Conditions,” “Literature and Life,” “Essays and Reviews,” two volumes, “Character and Characteristic Men,” “The Literature of the Age of Elizabeth." In the year 1850, he delivered a Fourth of July oration before the city authorities of Boston, on the character of Washington.
the stern struggle in which our rights and liberties passed through the awful baptism of fire and blood, is eloquent with the deeds of many patriots, warriors, and statesmen;
but these all fall into relations to one prominent and commanding figure, towering above the whole group in unapproachable majesty, whose exalted character, warm and bright with every public and private virtue, and vital with the essential spirit of wisdom, has burst all sectional and national bounds, and made the name of Washington the property of all mankind.
This illustrious man, at once the world's admiration and enigma, we are taught by a fine instinct to venerate, and by a wrong opinion to misjudge. The might of his character has taken strong hold upon the feelings of great masses of men, but in translating this universal sentiment into an intelligent form, the intellectual element of his wonderful nature is as much depressed as the moral ele
ment is exalted, and consequently we are apt to misunderstand both. Mediocrity has a bad trick of idealizing itself in eulogizing him, and drags him down to its own low level while assuming to lift him to the skies. How
many times have we been told that he was not a man of genius, but a person of “excellent commonsense,” of “ admirable judgment,” of “ rare virtues”; and by a constant repetition of this odious cant we have nearly succeeded in divorcing comprehension from his sense, insight from his judgment, force from his virtues, and life from the man. Accordingly, in the panegyric of cold spirits, Washington disappears in a cloud of commonplaces; in the rodomontade of boiling patriots he expires in the agonies of rant.
The sooner this bundle of mediocre talents and moral qualities, which its contrivers have the audacity to call George Washington, is hissed out of existence, the better it will be for the cause of talent and the cause of morals : contempt of that is the beginning of wisdom.
He had no genius, it seems. O no! genius, we must suppose, is the peculiar and shining attribute of some orator, whose tongue can spout patriotic speeches, or some versifier, whose muse can “Hail Columbia," but not of the man who supported states on his arm, and carried America in his brain. The madcap Charles Townsend,* the motion of whose pyrotechnic mind was like the whiz of a hundred rockets, is a man of genius; but George Washington, raised up above the level of even eminent statesmen, and with a nature moving with the still and orderly celerity of a planet round its sun,
* Charles Townsend entered Parliament in 1747. He held various high offices during his life. He supported the Stamp Act and the taxation of the American Colonies. He had great parliamentary abilities and oratorical
he dwindles, in comparison, into a kind of angelic dunce !
What is genius? Is it worth anything? Is splendid folly the measure of its inspiration? Is wisdom its base and summit, - that which it recedes from, or tends towards? And by what definition do you award the name to the creator of an epic, and deny it to the creator of a country? On what principle is it to be lavished on him who sculptures in perishing marble the image of possible excellence, and withheld from him who built up in himself a transcendent character, indestructible as the obligations of Duty, and beautiful as her rewards ?
XXXII. - PAUL REVERE'S RIDE.
ISTEN, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
He said to his friend, « “ If the British march
Then he said good night, and with muffled oar
Then he climbed to the tower of the church,
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead
And seeming to whisper, “ All is well !”
Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height,
A hurry of hoofs in a village-street,