« PreviousContinue »
CXLVII. — THE DEPARTURE OF LEATHER STOCKING.
(JOAN GARDNER CALKINS BRAINARD was born in New London, October 21, 1796, was graduated at Yale College in 1815, and died September 26, 1828. Most of his poems appeared originally in the Connecticut Mirror, a weekly journal published at Hartford. He had a rich fancy, and much delicacy of feeling. His poetry flowed from him naturally and easily; and while its excellence is unstudied, it sometimes betrays marks of haste.
The following lines were called forth by Coopor's novel of The Pioneers, in which his well-known character uf Leather Stocking is for the first time introduced. At the close of the story, the scene of which is laid in the interior of New York, Leather Stocking shoulders his rifle, and announces his purpose of departing to the remote and unknown solitudes of the west. These verses are addressed to him.)
away from the hill-side, the lake, and the hamlet, The rock, and the brook, and yon
meadow so gay; From the footpath that winds by the side.of the streamlet,
From his hut, and the grave of his friend far away ; He has gone where the footsteps of man never ventured, Where the glooms of the wild tangled forest are centred, Where no beam of the sun or the sweet moon has entered,
Nor bloodhound has roused up the deer with his bay.
Light be the heart of the poor, lonely wanderer,
Firm be his step through each wearisome mile ;
Far from the track of the mean and the vile!
And light up the cold touch of death with a smile.
And there shall the dew shed its sweetness and lustre;
There, for his pall, shall the oak leaves be spread ;
And o'er him the leaves of the ivy be shed.
And mourn o'er the spot where the hunter is laid.
CXLVIII. - OLD IRONSIDES.
LOLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, M. D., was born in Cambridge, in 1809, was graduated at Harvard College in 1829, and commenced the practice of medicine in Boston in 1836. He has been for many years one of the professors in the medical department of Harvard College, and he is understood to be highly skilful both in the theory and practice of his profession. He began to write poetry at quite an early age. His longest productions are occasional poems which have been recited before literary societies, and received with very great favor. His style is brilliant, sparkling, and terse; and many of his heroic stanzas remind us of the point and condonsation of Pope. In his shorter poems, he is sometimes grave and sometimes gay. When in the former mood, he charms us by his truth and manliness of feeling, and his sweetness of sentiment; when in the latter, he delights us with the glance and play of the wildest wit and the richest humor Every thing that he writes is carefully finished, and rests on a basis of souud senso and shrewd observation.
The following spirited lines were called forth by a rumor that the frigate Constitution was about to be broken up as unfit for service.]
Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
Long has it waved on high,
That banner in the sky;
And burst the cannon's roar;
Shall sweep the clouds no more.
Her deck, once red with heroes' blood,
Where knelt the vanquished foe,
And waves were white below,
Or know the conquered knee;
The eagle of the sea.
O, better that her shattered hulk
Should sink beneath the wave;
And there should be her grave;
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
The lightning and the gale.
CXLIX. - APRIL.
(JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, in 1808. He has written much in prose and verse; and his writings are characterized by earnestness of tone, high moral purpose, and energy of expression. His spirit is that of a sincere and fearless reformer; and his fervid appeals are the true utterances of a brave and loving heart. The themes of his poetry have been drawn, in a great measure, from the history, traditions, manners, and scenery of New England; and he has found the elements of poetical interest among them, without doing any violence to truth. He describes natural scenery correctly and beautifully; and a vein of genuine tenderness runs through his nature.]
“The Spring comes slowly up this way." - Coleridge. 'Tis the noon of the spring time, yet never a bird In the wind-shaken elm or the maple is heard ; For green meadow grasses,
wide levels of snow, And blowing of drifts where the crocus should blow; Where wind-flower and violet, amber and white, On south-sloping brook-sides should smile in the light, O’er the cold winter beds of their late waking roots, The frosty flake eddies, the ice crystal shoots; And longing for light, under wind-driven heaps Round the boles of the pine wood the ground laurel creeps, Unkissed of the sunshine, unbaptized of showers, With buds scarcely swelled, which should burst into flowers! We wait for thy coming, sweet wind of the south, For the touch of thy light wings, the kiss of thy mouth, For the yearly evangel thou bearest from God, Resurrection and life to the graves of the sod! Up our long river valley, for days have not ceased The wail and the shriek of the bitter north-east, –
Raw and chill, as if winnowed through ices and snow,
CL. — THE STUDY OF NATURAL HISTORY.
(WILLIAM B. ROGERS, a native of Philadelphia, was appointed professor of natural philosophy in the University of Virginia, in 1835, and held that office till 1853; since which time he has resided in Boston. He is distinguished as a man of science, and writes upon scientific subjects with grace and clearness.
The following passage is from an address delivered before the Lyceum of Natural History of Williams College, in August, 1855.]
But it is not through the allurements of ambition, even of that noble kind which aims at enlarging the boundaries of knowledge, that the cultivators of natural science are led to the purest enjoyment and the truest success in their pursuits. A higher, more spiritual sensibility must nourish their enthusiasm. The love of truth for its own sake; the power of deriving exquisite satisfaction not only from the discovery of new relations among objects, but from contemplating them in the light of known facts as subordinated to harmonies and laws; a loving appreciation of beauty in external characters, and of that subtler beauty of structure and affinities, akin to the most delicate perceptions of the artist and poet, but which discloses itself only to the penetrating eye of the naturalist, - such are some of the impulses and tastes that qualify us for enjoying the pursuits of natural history, and for giving them their highest usefulness.
In speaking of the delights of knowledge as compared with other pleasures, Lord Bacon has eloquently said, “In all other pleasures there is satiety; but of knowledge there is no satiety, but satisfaction and appetite are perpetually interchangeable.” Surely of no kind of knowledge can this be more truly said than of that which unfolds to us the characters, structure, and mutual dependences of the endless variety of organic and inorganic objects with which natural science has to deal.
It was once the fashion with poets to decry the growth of positive science, as unfriendly to poetical and spiritual conceptions of the material world, and to lament, although we may trust only for the sake of the verse, “the lovely views” which have been forced to “ yield their place to” what they please to call “cold, material laws.” But, thanks to a juster knowledge of the spirit, objects, and results of physical inquiries, now generally diffused among scholars, such complaints are no longer likely to find sympathy with them. From the known laws of the intellect, what more certain conclusion can be drawn, than that thought becomes exalted and suggestion quickened in proportion as they embrace a wider and more varied field of objects and relations. Who that, gazing on the vault of the sky, thinks of the innumerable multitude of worlds which the sure demonstrations of astronomy there point out to him, - measures in imagination their dimensions, and the vast distances which separate them, — follows the planets in their stately march, and watches the whole solar system, as, like a majestic fleet of argosies, it moves sublimely on its voyage of circumnavigation among the stars,
and while witnessing in thought this grandest of Nature's spectacles, reflects on the profound adjustment of forces and motions