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5. “ Take thy banner! and if e'er
Thou shouldst press the soldier's bier,
Martial cloak and shroud for thee."
And it was his martial cloak and shroud!
SPEECH OF M. KOSSUTH. This is an extract of a speech delivered on being presented with a copy of Shakspeare's works, the product of a penny subscription by ten thousand of the working-class of England. Lord Dudley Stuart presided at the meeting for presentation.
1. My lord, there are associations of such comprehensive nature attached to this gift, that, though it were the gift of one single generous friend, it would deserve to be taken for a treasuro and valued as such. But the merit of this gift is not compassed within these: there is a point yet, the chief one, the sound of which will gladden many a sad heart on the banks of the Danube, in my far native land; and that point, my lord, is, that these works of Shakspeare, here, are the gifts of ten thousand English working-men!
2. My lord, the name of Shakspeare carries back my memory as far as 1837. For having dared to claim my lawful right, I was in prison till the voice of my nation's universal indignation released me. For months I was there in a damp, lonely chamber, seeing neither the sky nor the earth, with none of those inexhaustible consolations which bountiful nature affords to misfortune and sufferings. And there I was, without a book to read, with out a pen to write; there I was with God, with my tranquil conscience, and with meditation alone. But it is fearful to be thas alone, with nothing to arrest the musing eye. Imagination raises its dreadful wings, and carries the mind in a magnetic flight to portentous regions, of which no philosophy has ever dreamt.
3. I gathered up all the strength of my mind, and bade it stop that dangerous soaring. It was done, as I resolved, and I became afraid of myself: so I told my jailers to give me some. thing to read. “Yes,” answered they, “ but nothing political." “Well, give me Shakspeare, with an English grammar and a dictionary; that you will, I trust, not deem political." "Of course not,” answered they, and gave it to me; and there I sat musing over it. For months it was a sealed book to me, as the hieroglyphs long were to Champollion, and as Layard's Assyrian monuments still are. But at last the light spread over me, and I drank in full cups, with never-quenched thirst, from the limpid source of delightful instruction and of instructive delight. Thus I learned the little English I know.
4. But I learned something more. I learned politics. What! politics from Shakspeare? Yes, gentlemen. What else are politics than philosophy applied to the government of men ? and what is philosophy but the knowledge of nature and of the human heart? and who ever penetrated deeper into the recesses of these mysteries than did Shakspeare? He furnished me the materials; contemplative meditation wrought out the rest. Years passed over my head,-years full of strange vicissitudes, which, amid their incessant, comprehensive toils, left no time, and the subsequent exile in Turkey no opportunity, to renew acquaintance with that mute but eloquent teacher of mine.
5. I really thought I had long forgotten the little of your language I had learned from him, till on the very day when some foreign papers, with malignant scorn, told the world what a glorious task it would be for Lord Dudley Stuart to carry me, my arrival in England, from town to town like a strange beast, and to tire out his own eloquence in introducing me to the men of England, to whom I would bow expressly with a howling growl, like a full-blood Indian of the Far West, not being able to utter one English word: on that very day, I say, landing at Southampton, my kind and generous friend, Mr. Andrews, took me, yet half sea-sick, down to the Common Council Hall, and bade me answer to the welcome I was honored with.
6. I really shuddered at the task; . but the genius of my teacher had torn the veil from my memory,
and the generous forbearance of Englishmen bore with the unwieldiness of my ignorance. Since that, in one uninterrupted series of eight months here, and in America, from New York to St. Louis in the West, thence to New Orleans and Mobile in the South, and back to Massachusetts, glorious by the universality of the people's education and by the people's general welfare, I had to speak more than six hundred times. I had to speak to city magistrates, to delegations of cities and congregations, to the Congress of, and the Legislatures in, the United States, and to thousands of thousands of people here and there.
7. I had to answer many of the most eloquent speakers of our a ze, before the accomplished mastership of whom my orations
sank to atomic insignificance. I had to speak in academic halls, where, to use the words of an American orator, eloquence is made the business of life; in vast cities which poured out by hundred thousands their people, to hail me; in those great gathering-places where the rivers of people have their confluunce; and millions of freemen listened to my stammering voice, and millions of freemen listened to these, my stammering words, till at last, after all excitement long ago subsided, and I carefully avoided stirring it up again, ten thousand English working-men, with a delicacy nearly bordering on poetry, honor me with such a precious testimony of their friendship and regard.
8. Why, my lord, has all this occurred to me on account of the little English I know, or in compliment of the foreign accent which clashingly hurts the hearing of Englishmen? It is that I touched a chord to which there is a thrilling echo in the breast of every honest man.. It is because my theme was liberty, the very name of which is enough to electrify man's heart, and to bring tears of joy or tears of compassion to his eyes. It was because I spoke of my country's virtues, and of its unmerited misfortune, and held up its bleeding image to the world, -a theme which cannot fail to move man's heart, to make his blood boil up with execration against tyranny, and with hatred against injustice and despotism,-a theme sad enough to make the very stones in the street cry out for compassion and for sympathy.
9. The best thanks, in my opinion, are the pledge which I give you in the name of my beloved people, that, abiding our time, we will endure sufferings, persecution, oppression, but we will not despair. No adversities shall bend our resolution to have our country restored to its national rights, and to see it once more independent and free. Tyrants may rage in blind fury and decimate the patriots of Hungary; still, the day of retribution shall come.
10. Yes, my lord, the hangman's rope may stifle the curse on the oppressor's head, which is mingled with the dying victim's last prayer; but no power on earth can prevent that curse from falling down on the oppressor's head, because there is a God in heaven and there will be justice on earth. The blood from the patriot's heart spilt at the tyrant's command may deluge the soil of our fatherland, and dogs may lick up what there was mortal in that blood; but no power on earth can prevent its immortal atoms from mounting to Almighty God, as did the blood of Abel The bodies of the martyrs may rot in the cold grave, a meat for worms; but their immortal spirits will gather round the throne of the Eternal, praying for justice to their down-trodden native land.
ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD
BY THOMAS GRAY.
THOMAS GRAY was born in London, in 1716. He was a profound scholar, and possessed a refined taste in painting, architecture, and gardening. His poems are few, but elegant and sublime.
CURFEW, (from the French couvre-feu, cover-fire,) a bell rung at night as a signal to the inhabitants to cover their fires and retire to rest. This practice originated from an old English law, which required that, at the ringing of the bell at eight o'clock, every one should put out his light and
go to bed.
1. THE curfew tolls the knell of parting day;
The lowing herd winds slowly o’er the lea;
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
And all the air a solemn stillness holds;
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds.
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Molest her ancient, solitary reign.
Where heaves the turf in many a moldering heap,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
Or busy housewife ply her evening care;
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke :
How bow'd the woods beneath their steady stroke!
8. Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure,
The short and simple annals of the poor. 9. The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth, e'er gave,
The paths of glory lead but to the grave. 10. Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
If memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise. 11. Can storied urn, or animated bust,
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Or flattery soothe the dull, cold ear of death ? 12. Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.
Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er unroll,
And froze the genial current of the soul. 14. Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark, unfathom’d caves of ocean bear;
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
The little tyrant of his fields withstood,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood. 16. The applause of listening senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
And read their history in a nation's eyes, 17. Their lot forbade; nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined; Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind.