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CXXXIV. - SPEECH OF RINGAN GILHAIZE.
(JOHN GALT was born in Irvine, Scotland, May 2, 1779, and died April 11, 1839. He was a voluminous writer, and among other things, author of a series of novels illustrating Scottish life and manners, of which the first in order of time, “ The Annals of the Parish,” became immediately and widely popular, They are unequal in style and structure, but none are without marked merit. He was for some time in Canada, and in one of the best of his novels,“ Lawrie Todd,” the scene is laid in this country.
The following extract is from “Ringan Gilhaize," a novel so called from the name of one of the principal characters. The scene is laid in Scotland, during the time of the religious persecutions under Charles II, and James II. The speech is by Ringan Gilhaize, a patriotic and religious enthusiast, in reply to Mr. Renwick, a clergyman, who had counselled moderation.)
MODERATION ! - You, Mr. Renwick, counsel moderation — you recommend the door of peace to be still kept open -- you doubt if the Scriptures warrant us to undertake
revenge, and you hope that our forbearance may work to 5 repentance among our enemies. Mr. Renwick, you have
hitherto been a preacher, not a sufferer; with you the resistance to Charles Stuart's government has been a thing of doctrine — of no more than doctrine, Mr. Renwick —
with us it has been a consideration of facts. Judge ye 10 therefore between yourself and us, - I say, between your
self and us; for I ask no other judge to decide, whether we are not, by all the laws of God and man, justified in avowing that we mean to do as we are done by.
And, Mr. Renwick, you will call to mind that in this 15 süre controversy the cause of debate came not from us.
We were peaceable Christians, enjoying the shade of the vine and the fig-tree of the gospel, planted by the care and cherished by the blood of our forefathers, protected by the
laws, and gladdened in our protection by the oaths and the BO covenants which the king had sworn to maintain. The
Presbyterian freedom of worship was our property, — we were in possession and enjoyment, no man could call our right to it in question, — the king had vowed, as a condition before he was allowed to receive the crown, that he would
pieserve it. Yet, for more than twenty years, there has been a most cruel, fraudulent, and outrageous endeavor instituted, and carried on, to deprive us of that freedom
and birthright. 5 We were asking no new thing from government; we were
taking no step to disturb government; we were in peace with all men, — when government, with the principles of a robber and the cruelty of a tyrant, demanded of us to
surrender those immunities of conscience which our fathers O had earned and defended; to deny the gospel as it is writ
ten in the evangelists, and to accept the commentary of Charles Stuart, a man who has had no respect to the most solemn oaths, and of James Sharp, the apostate of St. An
drews, whose crimes provoked a deed, that but for their 15 crimson hue, no man could have doubted to call a most
foul murder. The king and his crew, Mr. Renwick, are, to the indubitable judgment of all just men, the causers and the aggressors in the existing difference between his
subjects and him. In so far, therefore, if blame there be, 20 it lieth not with us nor in our cause.
But, sir, not content with attempting to wrest from us our inherited freedom of religious worship, Charles Stuart and his abettors have pursued the courageous constancy
with which we have defended the same, with more animos25 ity than they ever did any crime. I speak not to you, Mr.
Renwick, of your own outcast condition, — perhaps you delight in the perils of martyrdom ; I speak not to those around us, who, in their persons, their substance, and their
families, have endured the torture, poverty, and irreme30 diable dishonor, — they may be meek and hallowed men,
willing to endure. But I call to mind what I am and was myself. I think of my quiet home, – it is all ashes.
I remember my brave first-born, — he was slain at Bothwell-brigg. Why need I speak of my honest brother; the 35 waves of the ocean, commissioned by our persecutors, have
triumphed over himn in the cold seas of the Orkneys; and
as for my wife, what was she to you? Ye cannot be greatly disturbed that she is in her grave. No, ye are quiet, calm, and prudent persons; it would be a most indiscreet thing
of you, you who have suffered no wrongs yourselves, to 5 stir on her account; and then how unreasonable I should
be, were I to speak of two fair and innocent maidens. It is weak of me to weep, though they were my daughters.
O men and Christians, brothers, fathers ! but ye are content to bear with such wrongs, and I alone of all here 10 may go to the gates of the cities, and try to discover which
of the martyred heads mouldering there belongs to a son or a friend. Nor is it of any account whether the bones of those who were so dear to us, be exposed with the re
mains of malefactors, or laid in the sacred grave. To the 15 dead all places are alike; and to the slave what signifies
who is master. Let us therefore forget the past, – let us keep open the door of reconciliation, — smother all the wrongs we have endured, and kiss the proud foot of the
trampler. We have our lives, we have been spared; the mer20 ciless blood-hounds have not yet reached us. Let us there
fore be humble and thankful, and cry to Charles Stuart, O King, live forever ! — for he has but cast us into a fiery furnace and a lion's den.
In truth, friends, Mr. Renwick is quite right. This 25 feeling of indignation against our oppressors is a most
imprudent thing. If we desire to enjoy our own contempt, and to deserve the derision of men, and to merit the abhorrence of Heaven, let us yield ourselves to all that
Charles Stuart and his sect require. We can do nothing 30 better, nothing so meritorious, nothing by which we can
so reasonably hope for punishment here and condemnation hereafter. But if there is one man at this meeting, - I am speaking not of shapes and forms, but of feelings, — if
there is one here that feels as men were wont to feel, he 55 will draw his sword, and say with me, Woe to the house of
Stuart! Woe to the oppressors! And may a just God look with favor on our cause.
CXXXV. - ALCESTIS AND PHERES.
TRANSLATED BY MRS. HEMANS. (VittoRIO ALFIERI was born in Asti, in Piedmont, in 1749, and died in 1803 Born of a rich and noble family, his early education was defective, and his youth was passed without any bonorable object in life, but at the age of twenty-seven, he resolved to become a tragic poet, and with this view began a laborious course of study, in order to acquire the knowledge he had failed to obtain in his boyhood and youth. He wrote twenty-one tragedies, six com edies, besides several poems and translations from Greek and Latin. The plots of his plays are simple, the verse is unmusical, and the style dry and hard, but they have great energy of expression and fervor of sentiment, and never fail to produce a strong effect upon an audience.
The following scene is from “ Alcestis," one of the last tragedies Alfieri composed, and marked by a tenderness of feeling not found in his earlier plays. The plot is founded upon a Greek legend. Alcestis is the wife of Admetus, the son of Pheres. Admetus has died, and an oracle had declared that he might be restored to life if another person would consent to die in his place. Alcestis, in this dialogue, announces her purpose of devoting herself to death, in order that her husband might return to life.]
ALCESTIS. Weep thou no more. O monarch, dry thy tears,
What mean thy words? 5 Hath then Apollo — is there then a hope ?
ALCESTIS. Yes, hope for thee, hope, by the voice pronounced
For thee to hear from mine. 10 PHERES.
But say, oh! say,
He shall, to these
Confirms the oracle; be thou secure.
But not for thin;
PIIERES. Can there be grief when, from his bed of death, 20 Admetus rises ? What deep mystery lurks
Within thy words? What mean'st thou ? Gracious heaven!
Thou, whose deep love is all his own, who hearest
The gods :0 Themselves have limitations to their power,
Impassable, eternal ; and their will
Of thy restored Admetus. 15 PHERES.
In thy looks There is expression more than in thy words, Which thrills my shuddering heart. Declare what terms Can render fatal to thyself and us
The rescued life of him thy soul adores ?
To keep that fearful secret from thine ear,
And since too soon, too well, it must be known, 25 Hear it from me.
PHERES. Through all my curdling veins
Strive many deep affections. Thee I love, 30 O fair and high-souled consort of my son !
More than a daughter; and thine infant race,
High, holy, and unalterable love
Dwells pure and perfect yet. Bethink thee, then,