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THE BATTLE OF BUNKER'S HILL. 139
And they have wrecked thee! But there is a shore,
With gusty strength, their roaring warfare wage;
LESSON LXVII. Incidents of the Battle of Bunker's Hill. Death and Character of Warren.
1. DURING the progress of this famous battle, which took place June 17th, 1775, a little incident occurred, in which General Putnam, and Major Small of the British army, were the parties concerned, and which throws over the various horrors of the scene a momentary gleam of kindness and chivalry. These two officers were personally known to each other, and had, in fact, while serving together in the former wars, against the French, contracted a close friendship
2. After the fire from the American works had taken effect, Major Small, like his commander, remained almost alone upon the field. His companions in arms had been all swept away, and, standing thus apart, he became immediately, from the brilliancy of his dress, a conspicuous mark for the Americans within the redoubt. They had already pointed their unerring rifles at his heart, and the delay of another minute would probably have stopped its pulses for
3. At this moment, General Putnam recognised his friend, and, perceiving the imminent danger in which he was placed, sprang upon the parapet, and threw himself before the levelled rifles. "Spare that officer, my gallant comrades," said the noble-minded veteran; 66 we are friends; we are brothers; do you not remember how we rushed into each others' arms, at the meeting for the exchange of prisoners?" This appeal, urged in the well-known voice of a favorite old chief, was successful, and Major Small retired unmolested from the field.
4. General Warren had come upon the field, as he said, to learn the art of war from a veteran soldier. He had
offered to take Colonel Prescott's orders; but his desperate courage would hardly permit him immediately to retire. It was not without extreme reluctance, and at the very latest moment, that he quitted the redoubt; and he was slowly retreating from it, being still at a few rods' distance only, when the British had obtained full possession. His person was of course in imminent danger.
5. At this critical moment, Major Small, whose life had been saved in a similar emergency by General Putnam, attempted to requite the service by rendering one of a like character to Warren. He called out to him by name from the redoubt, and begged him to surrender, at the same time ordering the men around him to suspend their fire. Warren turned his head, as if he recognised the voice, but the effort was too late. While his face was directed toward the works, a ball struck him on the forehead, and inflicted a wound which was instantly fatal.
6. Had it been the fortune of Warren to live out the usual term of existence, he would probably have passed with distinction through a high career of usefulness and glory. His great powers, no longer limited to the sphere of a single province, would have directed the councils, or led the armies, of a vast confederate empire. We should have seen him, like his contemporaries and fellow-patriots, Washington, Adams, and Jefferson, sustaining the highest magistracies at home, or securing the rights and interests of the country in her most important embassies abroad; and, at length, in declining age, illuminating, like them, the whole social sphere, with the mild splendor of a long and peaceful retirement. This destiny was reserved for them, for others.
7. To Warren, distinguished, as he was, among the bravest, wisest, and best of the patriotic band, was assigned, in the inscrutable decrees of Providence, the crown of early martyrdom. It becomes not human frailty to murmur at the will of Heaven; and, however painful may be the first emotions excited in the mind by the sudden and premature eclipse of so much talent and virtue, it may, perhaps, well be doubted, whether, by any course of active service, in a civil or military department, General Warren could have rendered more essential benefit to the country, or to the cause of liberty throughout the world, than by the single act of heroic self-devotion which closed his existence. The
blood of martyrs has been, in all ages, the nourishing rain of religion and liberty.
8. There are many among the patriots and heroes of the revolutionary war, whose names are connected with a greater number of important transactions; whose biography, correspondence, and writings fill more pages; and whose names will occupy a larger space in general history; but there is hardly one whose example will exercise a more inspiring and elevating influence upon his countrymen and the world, than that of the brave, blooming, generous, selfdevoted martyr of Bunker's Hill.
9. The contemplation of such a character is the noblest. spectacle which the moral world affords. It is declared by a poet, to be a spectacle worthy of the gods. It awakens, with tenfold force, the purifying emotions of admiration and tenderness, which are represented as the legitimate objects of tragedy.
10. A death like that of Warren, is, in fact, the most affecting and impressive catastrophe that can ever occur, in the splendid tragedy which is constantly going on around far more imposing and interesting, for those who can enjoy it, than any of the mimic wonders of the drama, the real action of life. The ennobling and softening influence of such events is not confined to contemporaries and countrymen. The friends of liberty, from all countries, and throughout all time, as they kneel upon the spot that was moistened by the blood of Warren, will find their better feelings strengthened by the influence of the place, and will gather from it a virtue in some degree allied to his own.
LESSON LXVIII. Contending Passions.
THIS scene from Shakspeare's play of the "Merchant of Venice," represents Shylock, a rich and covetous Jew, conversing with his agent Tubal, in respect to his daughter, who has eloped with Lorenzo, and gone to Genoa. He is distressed by the absence of his daughter, but still more at the loss of jewels she took with her; but his grief is soothed in some degree, by learning that Antonio, a rich Venetian merchant, to whom he owes a mortal grudge, has met with fatal misfortunes in his business.
Shylock. How now, Tubal, what news from Genoa? Hast thou found my daughter?
Tubal. I often came where I did hear of her, but cannot find her.
Shy. Why there, there, there, there! a diamond gone, cost me two thousand ducats in Frankfort! The curse never fell upon our nation till now; I never felt it till now; two thousand ducats in that, and other precious, precious jewels. I would my daughter were dead at my foot, and the jewels in her ear! Would she were hearsed at my foot, and the ducats in her coffin! No news of them? Why, so; and I know not what 's spent in the search. Why, thou loss upon loss! the thief gone with so much, and so much to find the thief; and no satisfaction, no revenge; nor no ill luck stirring, but what lights o' my shoulders; no sighs, but o' my breathing; no tears, but o' my shedding.
Tub. Yes, other men have ill luck too; Antonio, as I heard in Genoa,
Shy. What, what, what? ill luck, ill luck?
Tub. Hath an argosy cast away, coming from Tripolis. Shy. I thank God, I thank God. - Is it true? is it true? Tub. I spoke with some of the sailors that escaped the wreck.
Shy. I thank thee, good Tubal. - Good news, good news; ha ha! - Where? in Genoa?
Tub. Your daughter spent in Genoa, as I heard, one night, fourscore ducats.
Shy. Thou stick'st a dagger in me; I shall never see my gold again. Fourscore ducats at a sitting! fourscore ducats!..
Tub. There came divers of Antonio's creditors in my company to Venice, that swear he cannot choose but break.
Shy. I am very glad of it; I'll plague him; I'll torture him; I am glad of it.
Tub. One of them showed me a ring, that he had of your daughter for a monkey.
Shy. Out upon her! Thou torturest me, Tubal; it was my turquoise; I had it of Leah, when I was a bachelor. I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys.
Tub. But Antonio is certainly undone.
Shy. Nay, that 's true, that 's very true. Go, Tubal, fee me an officer; bespeak him a fortnight before. I will have the heart of him, if he forfeit; for were he out of.
BAFFLED REVENGE AND HATE.
Venice, I can make what merchandise I will. Tubal, and meet me at our synagogue; go, good Tubal; at our synagogue, Tubal.
LESSON LXIX. Baffled Revenge and Hate.
THIS scene is partly explained by the preceding lesson. Shylock, instigated by revenge, is determined to cause the death of Antonio, and seeks to effect it by claiming the literal fulfilment of a bond, the forfeiture of which is a pound of flesh near his heart, in case he, Antonio, is unable to pay the debt. Portia is the wife of Bassanio, disguised as a lawyer from Padua. The lesson taught by it is, that malice draws down evil on the head of him that designs it, be he Christian or Jew. It would convey a false moral, if it should be made to cast any reproach on a Jew, as such; for a Jew may be a good member of society; and, like every other man, ought to be judged according to his acts, and not according to any prejudice which current error or bigotry has established.
Duke. Give me your hand. Came you from old Bellario?
Duke. You are welcome; take your place.
Portia. I am informed thoroughly of the cause.
Shylock. Shylock is my name.
Portia. Of a strange nature is the suit you follow;
Antonio. Ay, so he says,
Por. Do you confess the bond?
Ant. I do
Por. Then must the Jew be merciful.
Shy. On what compulsion must I? tell me that.