Abbildungen der Seite

forms were the most beautiful in nature. Such is the tale of human feelings---so rolls the tide of human enjoyments. Whilst the river rushes to the ocean, and the winds to their appointed resting place — whilst the wild bird seeks the cloud, and the fox its den-whilst a stone remains on the hills, or a flower in the vallies,- our affections still cling to our native land: one generation cometh, and another passeth away, but our country endureth for ever.

Genius is essentially patriotic, and were it not so, we should deem the existence of patriotism a fable ; for what is genius but an exalted sympathy with all that is great and noble! In the beautiful mythology of the ancients - that noble monument of the unilluminated wisdom of the heathen the benefactors of their country ranked next to the gods in human estimation. For them the poet tasked his loftiest energies; for their honor the painter, and the masters who wrought in stone, stamped on the breathing statue, or the glowing canvas, the impress of a beauty which nature never bestowed on her most favored children. All things were eloquent in their praise :

They fell devoted, but undying ;
The very gale their names seem'd sighing;
The waters murmured of their name,
The woods were peopled with their fame;
The silent pillar, lone and grey,
Claim'd kindred with their sacred clay;
Their spirits wrapt the dusky mountain ;
Their memory sparkled o’er the fountain ;
The meanest rill, the mightiest river,
Roll’d mingling with their fame for ever.”

The great secret of ancient superiority lay in the unity of purpose, the brotherly association of all ranks and orders of genius. All were devoted to the attainment of one common good, all co-operated in its accomplishment, all participated equally in its advantages. The poet shared the immortality which he gave ; Achilles and HomerHomer and Achilles so runs the tide of classic recollections. Not a vestige of their existence remains on the earth, yet their histories are familiar to us as household


[ocr errors]

“ Not a stone o'er their turf, not a bone in their graves,

But they live in the verse that immortally saves.”

Of the patriotism of genius, our own glorious Shakspeare, the mightiest of the mighty, affords a beautiful example. In a hundred passages he has forcibly displayed the patriotism of his nature. It is as if the bard had looked upon futurity with a prophet's eye, foreseeing the time, when Englishmen would feel an additional inducement to the love of their country, as they reflected that it was the land of Shakspeare, and that millions of souls yet unborn would live to hail him as the greatest human benefactor of his race. As we listen to the music of his thoughts, we fancy that it is a mother caressing her favorite child. It is as if he could wear his own dear England beneath his vest, next unto his heart, for fear the yinds of heaven should visit it too roughly. He calls it

“ This royal throne of kings ! this sceptre'd isle !

This earth of majesty! this seat of Mars,
This other Eden ! demi-paradise !
This fortress built by nature for herself,
Against infection and the hand of war !
This happy breed of men ! this little world !
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands !

[ocr errors]

This blessed plot ! this earth! this realm ! this England !
This nurse! this teeming womb of royal kings,
Fam'd for their breed, and famous by their birth ;
Renowned for their deeds so far from home,
For christian service, and true chivalry,
As is the sepulchre in stubborn Jewry,
Of the world's ransom, blessed Mary's son !
This land of such dear souls ! this dear, dear land !
Dear for her reputation through the world.”

But perhaps a more striking example of the inherent existence of patriotism in the breast of a man of genius, will be afforded by a glance at the character of the late Lord Byron. All' who are acquainted with the life and writings of that extraordinary man, are well aware of the strenuous efforts which he made to renounce all active connection and sympathy with his native land. Long and successfully did be wrestle with the better feelings of his nature; but this he was not always to do. In that best and noblest of his works, which was hailed by all good men as the promise and the dawn of a purer intellectuality, he has trampled on the chains of that false philosophy; and in the proud exultation of conscious genius, flung himself and his fame into the scale of his country's glory. Thus does he boast of his birth :

“ Yet was I born where men are proud to be,

Not without cause; and should I leave behind
The inviolate island of the sage and free,
And seek me out a home by a remoter sea.

“Perhaps I lov'd it well, and should I lay

My ashes in a soil which is not mine,
My spirit shall resume it, if I may
Unbodied choose a sanctuary; I twine
My hopes of being remembered in my line

With my land's language. If too fond and far
These aspirations in their scope incline :-
If my fame should be, as my fortunes are,
Of hasty growth, and blight, and dull oblivion bar

'My name from out the temple, where the dead

Are honored by the nations ; let it be,
And light the laurels on a loftier head;
And be the Spartan's epitaph on me
• Sparta hath many a worthier son than he.''

[ocr errors]

Rest thee, perturbed spirit! That thou mayest have found the peace in heaven which was denied thee on earth, is the prayer of every worshipper of true genius!

One more example! It is that of the Tyrtæus of modern days—the German poet Körner. When the Germans, wearied of the yoke of Napoleon, rose as one man to assert their country's freedom, the youthful Körner was amongst the first to raise the standard of resistance; and, whilst his spirit-stirring appeals to the patriotism of his countrymen rang far and wide through the land, he proved, by his example, that the tongue which could sing the praise of valour, only obeyed the promptings of a heart which was ready to dare all things to obtain it. On the morning of a day not to be forgotten whilst genius and patriotism are dear to mankind — at the very moment of joining in the deadly strife—in that hour which the bravest shrink from, when memory calls up the spirits that have made life a paradise or a tomb, and the gates of eternity are opened to the view — the soul of Körner, as if in anticipation of its glorious destiny, poured forth, like the dying swan, a strain of melody which still lingers on the ear like sweet music heard on the waters. It will repay the reader for its perusal, even in its English dress :


“ Thou sword upon my belted vest,
What means thy glittering polish'd crest,
Thus in my ardent glowing breast

Raising a flame ?-Hurrah !
""A horseman brave supports my blade,

of a freeman made For him I shine-for him I'll wade

Through blood and death-Hurrah!' “Yes, my good sword, I still am free,

And fond affection bear to thee,
As if thou wert betrothed to me,

My first dear bride-Hurrah !
« • Soldier of Freedom, then I'm thine !
For thee alone my blade shall shine
When, soldier, shall I call thee mine,

Joined in the field ?-Hurrah!'
“Soon shall our bridal morn arise !!
When the shrill trumpet's summons flies,
And red guns flash along the skies,

We'll join our hands-Hurrah !
«« sacred union! Haste away,
Ye tardy moments of delay-
I long, my bridegroom, for the day

To be thy bride-Hurrah!'
“Then why cling to the scabbard—why!
Thou messenger of destiny-
So wild, so fond of battle-cry,

Why cling'st thou there?-Hurrah !
Though fond in battle-fields to serve,
I hold myself in dread reserve,
The cause of freedom to preserve

For this I stay-Hurrah!'
“ Then still in narrow compass rest-
Ere a long space thou shalt be blest,
Within my ardent grasp comprest,

Ready for fight-Hurrah !

« ZurückWeiter »