網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

habitual contemplations, his opportunity for preparation had been most inconsiderable, for the argument of his accomplished opponent had been concluded but the day before the reply was to be made. 5 I sat an hour and a half with Mr. Webster the evening before this great effort. The impassioned parts of his speech, and those in which the personalitiesof his antagonist were retorted, were hardly indicated in his prepared brief.

10 So calm and tranquil was he, so entirely at ease, and free from that nervous excitement which is almost unavoidable, so near the moment which is to put the whole man to the proof, that I was tempted, absurdly enough, to think him not sufficiently aware of the magnitude of the

15 occasion. I ventured even to intimate to him, that what he was to say the next day would, in a fortnight's time, be read by every grown man in the country. But I soon perceived that his calmness was the repose of conscious power. The battle had been fought and won within, upon

20 the broad field of his own capacious mind; for it was Mr. Webster's habit first to state to himself his opponent's argument in its utmost strength, and having overthrown it in that form, he feared the efforts of no other antagonist. Hence it came to pass that he was never taken by sur

25 prise, by any turn of the discussion.

Besides, the moment and the occasion were too important for trepidation. A surgeon might as well be nervous, who is going to cut within a hair's-breadth of a great artery. He was not only at ease, but sportive and full of

30 anecdote; and, as he told the senate playfully the next day, he slept soundly that night on the formidable assault of his accomplished adversary. So the great Conde slept on the eve of the battle of Rocroi; so Alexander slept on the eve of the battle of Arbela; and so they awoke

SO to deeds of immortal fame.

As I saw him in the evening, (if I may borrow an illustration from his favorite amusement,) he was as unconcerned and as free of spirit as some here have seen him, while floating in his flshing-boat along a hazy shorf, gently rocking on the tranquil tide, dropping his line here and 5 there, with the varying fortune of the sport.

The next morning he was like some mighty admiral, dark and terrible, casting the long shadow of his frowning tiers far over the sea, that seemed to sink beneath him; his broad pendant streaming at the main, the stars and 10 stripes at the fore, the mizzen, and the peak; and bearing down like a tempest upon his antagonist, with all his canvas strained to the wind, and all his thunders roaring from his broadsides.

XCVIL —THE WIDOW OF GLENCOE. Aytoun. [In the month of February, 1692, a number of persons of the clan of Maodonald, residing in Glencoe, a glen on the western coast of Scotland, were cruelly and treacherously put to death, on the ground that their chief had not taken the oath of allegiance to the government of King William within the time prescribed by his proclamation. A full and interesting account of the massacre may be found in Macaulay's " History of England." The following poem is supposed to be spoken by the widow of one of the victims. The captain of the company of soldiers by whom the massacre was perpetrated, was Campbell of Glenlyon. "The dauntless Graeme *' was the Marquis of Montrose.]

Do not lift him from the bracken, leave him lying where he fell—
Better bier ye cannot fashion: none beseems him half so well
As the bare and broken heather, and the hard and trampled sod,
Whence his angry soul ascended to the judgment-seat of God!
Winding-sheet we cannot give him — seek no mantle for the dead,
Save the cold and spotless covering showered from heaven upon his head.
Leave his ' -oadsword as we found it, rent and broken with the blow
That, befu.j he died, avenged him on the foremost of the foe.
Leave the blood upon his bosom —wash not off that sacred stain;
Let it stiffen on the tartan, let his wounds unclosed remain,
Till the day when he shall show them at the throne of God on high,
When the murderer and the murdered meet before their Judge's eye.

Nay — ye should not weep, my children! leave it to the faint and weak;Sobs are but a woman's weapons—tears befit a maiden's cheek.
Weep not, children of Macdonald! weep not thou, his orphan heir;
Not in shame, but stainless honor, lies thy slaughtered father there.
Weep not — but when years are over, and thine arm is strong and
sure, And thy foot is swift and steady on the mountain and the muir,
Let thy heart be hard as iron, and thy wrath as fierce as fire,
Till the hour when vengeance cometh for the race that slew thy sire!
Till in deep and dark Glenlyon rise a louder shriek of woe,
Than at midnight, from their eyry, scared the eagles of Glencoe;
Louder than the screams-that mingled with the howling of the blast,
When the murderers' steel was clashing, and the fires were rising
fast;When thy noble father bounded to the rescue of his men,
And the slogan of our kindred pealed throughout the startled glen;When the herd of frantic women stumbled through the midnight
snow, With their fathers' houses blazing, and their dearest dead below!
Oh, the horror of the tempest, as the flashing drift was blown,
Crimsoned with the conflagration, and the roofs went thundering
down!Oh, the prayers, the prayers and curses, that together winged their
flight From the maddened hearts of many, through that long and woful
night! — Till the fires began to dwindle, and the shots grew faint and few,
And we heard the foeman's challenge only in a far halloo:
Till the silence once more settled o'er the gorges of the glen,
Broken only by the Cona plunging through its naked den.
Slowly from the mountain summit was the drifting veil withdrawn,
And the ghastly valley glimmered in the gray December dawn.
Better had the morning never dawned upon our dark despair!
Black amidst the common whiteness rose the spectral ruins there:
But the sight of these was nothing more than wrings the wild dove's
breast, When she searches for her offspring round the relics of her nest.
For in many a spot the tartan peered above the wintry heap,
Marking where a dead Macdonald lay within his frozen sleep.
Tremblingly we scooped the covering from each kindred victim's
head, And the living lips were burning on the cold ones of the dead.

And I left them with their dearest—dearest charge had every one—
Left the maiden with her lover, left the mother with her son.
I alone of all was mateless — far more wretched I than they,
For the snow would not discover where my lord and husband lay.
But I wandered up the valley, till I found him lying low,
With the gash upon his bosom, and the frown upon his brow —
Till I found him lying murdered where he wooed me long ago!

Woman's weakness shall not shame me — why should I have tears to shed?Could I rain them down like water, O my hero! on thy head —
Could the cry of lamentation wake thee from thy silent sleep,
Could it set thy heart a-throbbing, it were mine to wail and weep!
But I will not waste my sorrow, lest the Campbell women say
That the daughters of Clanranald are as weak and frail as they.
I had wept thee, hadst thou fallen, like our fathers, on thy shield,
When a host of English foemen camped upon a Scottish field—
I had mourned thee, hadst thou perished with the foremost of his name,
When the valiant and the noble died around the dauntless Grseme l
But I will not wrong thee, husband, with my unavailing cries,
Whilst thy cold and mangled body, stricken by the traitor, lies;
Whilst he counts the gold and glory that this hideous night has won,
And his heart is big with triumph at the murder he has done.
Other eyes than mine shall glisten, other hearts be rent in twain,
Ere the heath-bells on thy hillock wither in the autumn rain.
Then I '11 seek thee where thou sleepest, and I '11 veil my weary head,
Praying for a place beside thee, dearer than my bridal-bed:
And I '11 give thee tears, my husband, if the tears remain to me,
When the widows of the foeman cry the coronach for thee!

XCVIIL — THE SWISS PATRIOT.

KSOWlES.

[james Sheridan Knowles was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1784, and died In 1862. He was the author of " The Hunchback," " Virginius," "William Tell," " The Wife," and several other plays, some of which have been highly successful. He was originallyan actor and teacher of elocution, but in his latter years he was a zealous and eloquent preacher of the Baptist denomination.

The following extract is from " William Tell," a play founded on the leading

Incidents in the life of the Swiss patriot of that name. Gesler, (pronounced GeVler,) is the Austrian governor of Switzerland, and Sarnem one of hia officers.]

[WILLIAM TELL, ALBERT, AND GESLER.]!

Gesler. What is thy name?Tell. My name?
It matters not to keep it from thee now: —
My name is Tell.
5 Ges. Tell!—William Tell?Tell. The same.

Ges. What! he so famed 'bove all his countrymen
For guiding o'er the stormy lake the boat?
And such a master of his bow, 't is said
10 His arrows never miss! — Indeed — I 'll take

Exquisite vengeance ! — Mark! I 'll spare thy life—
Thy boy's too — both of you are free — on one
Condition. Tell. Name it.
15 Ges. I would see you make

A trial of your skill with that same bow
You shoot so well with.

Tell. Name the trial you
Would have me make.
20 Ges. You look upon your boy

As though instinctively you guessed it.

Tell. Look upon my boy! What mean you? Look upon My boy as though I guessed it! — Guessed the trial You'd have me make ! — Guessed it 25 Instinctively! You do not mean — no — no — You would not have me make a trial of My skill upon my child ! — Impossible! I do not guess your meaning. Ges. I would see 30 Thee hit an apple at the distance of A hundred paces.

Tell. Is my boy to hold it?

« 上一頁繼續 »