Billeder på siden

traitors and tyrants still. And though their monuments should reach the clouds, they would but serve as so many channels to draw the vengeance of heaven and earth upon their unhallowed ashes. On the contrary, when a name is connected by good deeds with history and song —and more than all, if it is embalmed in the affections of the people, no monument is his best monument.

For the tomb of one who has acted well his part in life seek the loneliest spot on earth. Let not the hum of cities intrude on its expressive silence. Let not the tramp of busy feet waken a listless echo where the good man sleeps. Let it be away from the noisy whirl of man's little play. Like that of our hero, in the wildness of nature, by the side of a sunny stream, where twilight falls earliest, where summer lingers longest, and where the eddying sound of the far-off church bell delights to linger. Let the soldier who falls in battle sleep on his battle-ground with his trusty sword beside him. But let the hero whom God preserves return, like one who has run a good race, to take his rest amid the scenes of his home. Here let the same lonely wild-flower which he loved in youth, when like him it first opened to greet the smiles of the joyous world, be an emblem still, and shake its fading petals over the bier.

Such is the tomb of the great father of his country. He rests on the green banks of his own loved river. No pyramid there to kiss the lightning. The small marble slab tells no boisterous tale, yet there is "a spell that holds the passenger forgetful of his way."

Do you ask why we invite you to go to the house of mourning. We answer, if you are a citizen, you go to strengthen your love of country. If you are a politician, you go to learn calm lessons on Government. If you are a soldier, you go to learn the mercies of war; and if you are a traitor, you go to shake and tremble. Lafayette left the bosom of his friends and his country, and fought the battles of freedom for us. Lafayette came also years afterwards to weep at the tomb of Washington.

When a friend whom we have followed and loved through life dies, we love to go to his tomb to meditate, to call to mind his kindness, and sorrow over our conduct if we have injured him. His virtues appear green as the sod that covers him, and though memory should remove the veil from some error that slumbers with him we are content to

"Weep over it in silence and close it again."

Many a lesson may be learned at the tomb of the departed. In the cities of the dead is the place to learn the language of another world. The very stones teach a deeper lesson than is written upon them. Their language is "dust to dust, ashes to ashes;" and the neglected wildflower that hangs over the bier its lonely head, speaks in language which cannot be misunderstood how soon the glow on beauty's cheek must fade and die. Ossian never breathes such sweet and mellow strains as when he sits sad and unfriended amid the wrecks of his country, and from the tomb of a fallen hero, teaches the note of grief to the silence of Morven.

Mount Vernon is the center point from which the nation's spirit evolves itself. In it is embosomed the nation's patriotism. It receives the voice of the nation and echoes it into the heart of every citizen. The spirit which actuated Washington does not sleep with him. It has become the life of the republic. The fountain at which the genius of Liberty

drinks the atmosphere in which she soars. The boasted republics of the olden time nourished the genius of their Liberty upon the tripodfeeding it upon the fumes of the Delphic Oracle-which made it rise towards Heaven in fitful starts to fall back more fearfully to earth. But Washington taught the eagle to soar into purer heavens. He found the rock of true freedom, and upon it he plumed the eagle's wing-and it rose successfully. It was not like the sky-lark of the Emerald Isle which had too much of the mists of ignorance on its wing; and when it did attempt its way towards heaven, the lion of England howled, it fell back bleeding to the earth, and again built its humble nest in the shamrock. Not so the eagle, which has its nest at Mount Vernon. Though the strong tower upon which it there had its ærie lies low, it has others rocks cut from that, for refuge throughout the nation. The lion once howled at New Orleans, unchained by Packingham; but the eagle flew to its ærie in the Hickory and mocked him. He howled again at Perrysburg and Tippecanoe, joined by the wild war-cry of the Red man, but the eagle perched upon the green Buckeye and was safe. Ever since it hovers for pastime over Mount Vernon; casting ever and anon a glance at the hero's tomb, and then at the people. Let no sneaking sycophant presume on its destruction; by decoying it with wily ruse from its citadel, as long as the Hickory and Buckeye are green on our shores.

Every nation, like an individual, must have a soul—must be a living organism. And though the soul of a nation lives in part in each individual citizen, yet it has a centre of activity from which it continually expresses itself. In a monarchy that centre is the throne and its minions of power. Its first expression is the promp and pride of kings. The second is that retinue of power which clusters around the court. The third is the aristocracy which are the branches of the kingly tree, spreading themselves over the whole country upon which, lastly, the laboring class is the fruit, subject to be plucked and shaken as the pleasure or wants of their lordly masters may demand. Such is the constitution of a monarchy. Its soul is composed of power built up of the ruins of man's dearest rights; its evolution is the wielding of that power by those to whom it does not belong for their own aggrandizement-and its perfect efflorescence is abject tyranny-a daring attempt to abrogate that eternal law of liberty by which God has constituted each individual within the sphere of his own will, a free and independent spirit.

In a republic like ours there is also a soul; but it lives in a different organism. It has a different centre-a different evolution-and different fruits. Its soul is composed of the proud spirits of Seventy-Six, who have fallen asleep; among whom Washington still wears the diadem, though it be in his lowly bed. True, he sits not on a throne with a kingly septre. His spirit sits upon a viewless throne at Mount Vernon, and sways, not one but millions of sceptres; for he sways one in the heart of every true American. There at the tomb of Washington sits the spirit of Liberty holding its mighty spell. There with mystic hand. she touches the thousand strings which make, throughout our Union, between heart and heart, a wonderous harmony. This explains the secret of the astonishing concord between the States. They are like an instrument of many strings played and kept in tune by that same unseen

but powerful hand.

South Carolina thought once it could play best upon its own string, but it was countermanded by a voice from

"The dead, but sceptered sovereign, who still rules
Men's spirits from his urn."

No doubt that voice came to many an one during that rebellion in all its power. And as that State had raised its hand to strike the blow which was to sever them from the Union, it was as if Washington himself was calling to them from heaven, like the angel to Abraham on Mount Moriah: Tear not that stripe from the banner upon which it has been painted by the blood of your fathers.

Such is the influence which flows from Mount Vernon into the minds of the people, which shows it to be without a figment the soul of the nation the patriot's Mecca, towards which every one who loves his country will direct his eyes. And especially in these days of political darkness and turmoil; when anarchy and misrule are sitting with brazen fronts in high places-when party spirit is shaking our institutionswhen the public press, like an adder's tooth, is transfusing both political and moral poison throughout every avenue of society-when those in whom the nation reposes its most sacred trust are ready for self-interest to betray their sacred trust, and the rights of the people often become, in the trust of their legislators, like sacred incense in the hands of devils-is it not time that we arouse our love of country, and our love for the simple power of truth and honesty, by which Washington steered the ship

"Not in the sunshine and the smiles of heaven,
But wrapt in whirlwinds and begirt with storms."

Let us learn at his tomb a lesson in silence from this great and good man. To make a pilgrimage to his tomb on the anniversary of our country's freedom, is the best celebration of it. Stand and look upon his sarcophagus. There is the eagle bending over his slumbers with its olive-branch, as if it would beckon to party spirit to cease its rankings lest it should disturb the old hero's repose. There lies the flag-nobly did he bear it up amid the storms of war-no stripe is soiled, no star is blotted out. There lies the sword-it made tyrants tremble, but never caused a widow or an orphan's tear; its motto was: "My conscience, my country, and my home." It has done its work well and lies at rest upon the arm that wielded it.

"After life's fitful fever he sleeps well."

He sleeps well, the hero-soldier. Should you ever be called to stand between the tyrant and your country in the fearful fight—should ever the drum which you now follow in peace become the tocsin to call you to meet the foe at the cannon's mouth, it will nerve your arm in peril's hour to think of the tomb of Washington.

He sleeps well, the Christian. Let the boasting infidel retire and ponder. He who would not bow before British minions did not hesitate to bow before his God. We are informed that when the army was encamped at Valley Forge, the hero was seen to pray in a retired grove. It is known that that was darkest time in all the conflict. The country

lay bleeding under the tyrant's lash; and the army which was to defend it was destitute, starving and mutinous. The stripes and stars seemed fading like blighted innocence; and the eagle which had hovered over the camp seemed ready, like Noah's dove, to take its flight back to its native heaven because it found not where to rest. At this dark and awful crisis Washington leaned upon the God of battles. It is said that a cherub never looks lovelier than when it bends, with veiled face, before the throne on high-and never was the father of his country greater than when he kneeled in the grove of Valley Forge. Think of it when you stand upon his tomb and see if it does not cast a brighter beam of glory on his laurels. Let the skeptic point you triumphantly to the names of Jefferson and Paine; tell him a greater than Jefferson or Paine is here. And when he holds up to you the "Age of Reason," and say this was Paine's creed, you can raise up your Bible and tell him this was Washington's creed. He leaned upon it in life. Upon its promises, in death, he "sleeps well;" and we know that if

"An angel's arm could not snatch him from the grave,
Legions of angels can't confine him there."


IN Life's vast field fulfil the work of duty,

Oh! ye who serve the one great power and true,
For Labor sheds on worth the bloom of beauty,
A flower unfading of celestial hue.

Whether to spread the truth thy sacred mission

Thro' darken'd hearts of ignorance and crime,
Nobly to strengthen faltering indecision,

And lead the erring soul to hopes sublime.

Whether from forge or workshop, echoes ringing
Of that dull music unattun'd by Love-
In all ye yet may hear sweet angels singing
The sacred melodies that float above!

Let your heart to them beat perfect measure,

'Mid hopes of time remembering Life's great aim, Work, ceaseless work, not for the cankering treasure, But for laurels of immortal fame.

A fame surpassing that of man's creation,

By angels trumpeted, by God bestowed,
Attends the spirit in its exaltation

With hymns of praise to Heavens unseen abode.

And toil with earnest faith; for faith to labor

Is as the spirits to the outward frame,
It ever vivifies, and prompts its neighbor,

And steadfast stands in storm or calm the same!

Else dead are all our acts; in self beginning,

With loftier purpose they shall never blend;
And whilst true faith the crown of Life is winning,
Unquicken'd deeds in Death eternal end!



To act always at the proper time and to do it with quick decision is a great virtue. This is something to be desired and sought after by every young man and woman. Begin any particular business promptly -answer letters promptly-answer questions promptly-pay your debts promptly-do your duty promptly. Look around you and think of those men whom you love to meet, and with whom you love to dealand who are they? Not your slow, sneaking drones who come to you by a process, and leave you by a process; but your frank, open, decided men-those on whom you can rely because you know that they are prompt and punctual. Porches before the house are pleasant, but they are for pleasure and liesure; so long introductions and drawling approaches, may answer when there is nothing else to do, but they are intolerably to earnest men, who do not sit on the porch but serve in the temple.

Be prompt. Do what you say, and do what you intend to do, quickly and with decision; then shall you be known, and called for, and depended upon, because it is known when and where you are to be found. There are few things which go so far to reduce a person in the confidence of others as want of promptness and punctuality. Men will not rely readily and with pleasure on their word or on them. There are hundreds in business, and social life, in church and in state, who have lost all their influence by a want of these virtues. A little item of business has been committed to them, and they have neglected it or put it off to the last moment, and then attended to it hastily and only half; and if they are unfaithful in that which is least, how shall men commit to them that which is great.

He that lacks in promptness keeps others in continual suspense, and subjects them to delay and disappointment in their work. Thus time is lost, and a great deal of vexation caused. He has an appointment with one or more others to transact certain business. The rest, or some of them, have made their arrangements so as to be able to spare only that time and no more; but Droney comes not at all, or comes half an hour after the time. They wait with impatience, and when their time is up, and another appointment is pressing them, behold he comes dragging himself along like a wounded snail. Perhaps part of the business has been dispatched; but now the whole matter gone over must be reviewed so that Droney may be posted up. What moral right, we earnestly ask, has any man to rob one or three, or half-dozen men of half an hour while they are waiting on him? What is the difference, in morals, between stealing a pen-knife and stealing a half hour, which is worth more than a pen-knife to him. Who has not seen a body of ten or more men waiting over an hour on one Droney to make a quorum? Here are ten hours of valuable time gone to waste, through the want of promptness of one Can one who is in the habit of doing this keep up respect for himself in the estimation of others? Never. The first offense, will cause


« ForrigeFortsæt »