Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

But, as tenderly before him, the lorn Ximena knelt,
She saw the Northern eagle shining on his pistol-belt.

With a stifled cry of horror straight she turned away her head; With a sad and bitter feeling looked she back upon her dead : But she heard the youth's low moaning, and his struggling

breath of pain, And she raised the cooling water to his parched lips again.

Whispered low the dying soldier, pressed her hand, and faintly

smiled, Was that pitying face his mother's ? did she watch beside her

child? All his stranger words with meaning her woman's heart supplied ; With her kiss upon his forehead, “Mother!” murmured he,

and died.

“A bitter curse upon them, poor boy, who led thee forth, From some gentle, sad-eyed mother, weeping lonely in the

North !” Spake the mournful Mexic woman, as she laid him with her dead, And turned to soothe the living, and bind the wounds which bled.

Look forth once more, Ximena! “Like a cloud before the wind Rolls the battle down the mountains, leaving blood and death

behind ; Ah! they plead in vain for mercy; in the dust the wounded

strive; Hide your faces, holy angels ! O thou Christ of God, forgive !”

Sink, O Night, among thy mountains ! let the cool, gray shad

ows fall; Dying brothers, fighting demons, drop thy curtain over all ! Through the thickening winter twilight, wide apart the battle

rolled, In its sheath the saber rested, and the cannon's lips grew cold.

But the noble Mexic women still their holy task pursued, Through that long, dark night of sorrow, worn and faint and

lacking food; Over weak and suffering brothers, with a tender care they hung, And the dying foeman blessed them in a strange and Northern

tongue.

Not wholly lost, O Father! is this evil world of ours;
Upward, through its blood and ashes, spring afresh the Eden

flowers; From its smoking hell of battle, Love and Pity send their prayer, And still thy white-winged angels hover dimly in our air !

LXVIII. — VOICES OF THE DEAD.

CUMMING.

JOHN CUMMING, D. D., is the pastor of a Scotch Presbyterian church in the city of London. He is a popular and eloquent preacher, and the author of many works which are favorably known in this country as well as in Europe. Among them are “Apocalyptic Sketches,” “ Lectures on the Parables,” and “Voices of the Night.”

WE

E die, but leave an influence behind us that sur

vives. The echoes of our words are evermore repeated, and reflected along the ages. It is what man was that lives and acts after him. What he said sounds along the years like voices amid the mountain gorges ; and what he did is repeated after him in ever-multiplying and never-ceasing reverberations. Every man has left behind him influences for good or for evil that will never exhaust themselves. The sphere in which he acts may be small, or it may be great. It may be his fireside, or it may be a kingdom ; a village, or a great nation; it may be a parish, or broad Europe: but act he does, ceaselessly and forever. His friends, his family, his successors

in office, his relatives, are all receptive of an influence, a moral influence, which he has transmitted and bequeathed to mankind; either a blessing which will repeat itself in showers of benedictions, or a curse which will multiply itself in ever-accumulating evil.

Every man is a missionary, now and forever, for good or for evil, whether he intends and designs it or not. He may be a blot, radiating his dark influence outward to the very circumference of society, or he may be a blessing, spreading benedictions over the length and breadth of the world ; but a blank he cannot be. The seed sown in life springs up in harvests of blessings or harvests of sorrow. Whether our influence is great or small, whether it is good or evil, it lasts, it lives somewhere, within some limit, and is operative wherever it is. The grave buries the dead dust, but the character walks the world, and distributes itself, as a benediction or a curse, among the families of mankind.

The sun sets beyond the western hills; but the trail of light he leaves behind him guides the pilgrim to his distant home. The tree falls in the forest; but in the lapse of ages

it is turned into coal, and our fires burn now the brighter because it grew and fell. The coral insect dies; but the reef it raised breaks the surge on the shores of great continents, or has formed an isle in the bosom of the ocean, to wave with harvests for the good of man. We live and we die; but the good or evil that we do lives after us, and is not “buried with our bones.”

The babe that perished on the bosom of its mother, like a flower that bowed its head and drooped amid the death-frosts of time, - that babe, not only in its image, but in its influence, still lives and speaks in the chambers of the mother's heart.

The friend with whom we took sweet counsel is removed visibly from the outward eye; but the lessons that he taught, the grand sentiments that he uttered, the holy deeds of generosity by which he was characterized, the moral lineaments and likeness of the man, still survive, and appear in the silence of eventide, and on the tablets of memory, and in the light of morn, and noon, and dewy eve; and, being dead, he yet speaks eloquently, and in the midst of us.

Mahomet still lives in his practical and disastrous influence in the East. Napoleon still is France, and France is almost Napoleon. Martin Luther's dead dust sleeps at Wittenberg, but Martin Luther's accents still ring through the churches of Christendom. Shakespeare, Byron, and Milton all live in their influence, for good or evil. The apostle from his chair, the minister from his pulpit, the martyr from his flame-shroud, the statesman from his cabinet, the soldier in the field, the sailor on the deck, who all have passed away to their graves, still live in the practical deeds that they did, in the lives they lived, and in the powerful lessons that they left behind them.

“None of us liveth to himself”; others are affected by that life: “ or dieth to himself”; others are interested in that death. Our queen's crown may molder, but she who wore it will act

upon
the
ages

which are yet to come. The noble’s coronet may be reft in pieces, but the wearer of it is now doing what will be reflected by thousands who will be made and molded by him. Dignity and rank and riches are all corruptible and worthless; but moral character has an immortality that no sword-point can destroy, that ever walks the world and leaves lasting influences behind.

What we do is transacted on a stage of which all in the universe are spectators. What we say is transmitted in echoes that will never cease. What we are is influencing and acting on the rest of mankind. Neutral we cannot be. Living we act, and dead we speak; and the whole universe is the mighty company forever looking, forever listening, and all nature the tablets forever recording the words, the deeds, the thoughts, the passions, of mankind !

Monuments and columns and statues, erected to heroes, poets, orators, statesmen, are all influences that extend into the future ages. “The blind old man of Scio's rocky isle” * still speaks. The Mantuan bard + still sings in every school. Shakespeare, the bard of Avon, is still translated into every tongue. The philosophy of the Stagirite I is still felt in every academy. Whether these influences are beneficent or the reverse, they are influences fraught with power. How blest must be the recollection of those who, like the setting sun, have left a trail of light behind them by which others may see the way to that rest which remaineth with the people of God!

It is only the pure fountain that brings forth pure water. The good tree only will produce the good fruit. If the center from which all proceeds is pure and holy, the radii of influence from it will be pure and holy also. Go forth, then, into the spheres that you occupy, the employments, the trades, the professions of social life ; go forth into the high places or into the lowly places of the land; mix with the roaring cataracts of social convulsions, or mingle amid the eddies and streamlets of quiet and domestic life; whatever sphere you fill, carrying into it a holy heart, you will radiate around you life and power, and leave behind you holy and beneficent influences.

+ Virgil.

. Aristotle.

* Homer.

« PředchozíPokračovat »