Page images
PDF
EPUB

civilities by the high rank which he had lately held in his country, he soon finds his way to their hearts by the dignity and elegance of his demeanor, the light and beauty of his conversation, and the seductive and fascinating power of his address.

3. The conquest was not a difficult one. Innocence is ever simple and credulous; conscious of no designs of itself, it suspects none in others; it wears no guards before its breast; every door, and portal, and avenue of the heart, is thrown open, and all who choose it enter. Such was the state of Eden, when the serpent entered its bowers. The prisoner, in a more engaging form, winding himself into the open and unpracticed heart of the unfortunate Blennerbassett, found but little difficulty in changing the native character of that heart, and the objects of its affection. By degrees he infuses into it the poison of his own ambition; he breathes into it the fire of his own courage; a daring and desperate thirst for glory; an ardor panting for all the storms, and bustle, and hurricane of life.

4. In a short time the whole man is changed, and every object of his former delight relinquished. Greater objects have taken possession of his soul; his imagination has been dazzled by visions of diadems, and stars, and garters, and titles of nobility; he has been taught to burn with restless emulation at the names of Cromwell,* Cæsar,t and Bonaparte. His enchanted island is destined soon to relapse into a desert ; and in a few months we find the tender and beautiful partner of his bosom, whom he lately "permitted not the winds of summer to visit too roughly, - ” we find her shivering, at midnight, on the winter banks of the Ohio, and mingling her tears with the torrents that froze as they fell.

Cromwell, (Oliver,) called the Protector of the commonwealth of England. He lied in 1658. Cæʻsar and Boʻna-parte.

See notes on p. 87

5. Yet this unfortunate man, thus deluded from his interest and his happiness, thus seduced from the paths of innocence and peace, thus confounded in the toils which were deliberately spread for him, and overwhelmed by the mastering spirit and genius of another, - this man, thus ruined and undone, and made to play à subordinate part in this grand drama of guilt and treason, this man is to be called the principal offender; while he, by whom he was thus plunged and steeped in misery, is comparatively innocent — a mere accessory. Is this reason? Is it law ? Is it humanity ? Sir, neither the human heart, nor the human understanding, will bear a perversion so monstrous and alsurd; so shocking to the soul; so revolting to reason.

LESSON XXX.

DEFENCE OF ORR.- CURRAN.*

[The reader may determine the character of this piece, and tell how it should be read.]

I tell you, therefore, gentlemen of the jury, it is not with respect to Mr. Orr, that your verdict is sought. You are called upon, on your oaths, to say that the government is wise and merciful; that the people are prosperous and happy; that military law ought to be continued ; that the British constitution could not, with safety, be restored to the country; and that the statements of a contrary import, by your advocates in either country, were libelous and false.

2. I tell you, these are the questions; and I ask you, can you have the front to give the expected answer in the face of a community who know the country as well as you do?

He was

• Curran, (John Philpot,) was an eminent Irish lawyer and orator. born in the county of Cork, in 1750, and died in 1817, aged sixty-seven.

Let me ask you

how
you

could reconcile with such a verdict the jails, the tenders, the gibbets, the conflagrations, the murders, and the proclamations that we hear of every day in the streets, and see every day in the country? What are the processions of the learned counsel himself, circuit after circuit? Merciful God! what is the state of Ireland, and where shall you find the wretched inhabitant of this land ?

3. You may find him, perhaps, in a jail, the only place of security — I had almost said, of ordinary habitation; you may see him fleeing, by the conflagration of his own dwelling; you may find his bones bleaching on the green fields of his country; or he may be found tossing upon the surface of the ocean, and mingling his groans with those tempests,

than his persecutors, that drift him to a returnTess distance from his family and his home.

4. And yet, with these facts ringing in the ears, and staring in the face of the prosecutor, you are called upon to say, on your oaths, that these facts do not exist. You are called upon, in defiance of shame, of truth, of honor, to deny the sufferings under which you groan, and to flatter the persecution that tramples you underfoot.

less savage

LESSON XXXI.

EXTRACT FROM A SPEECH IN PARLIAMENT. — BURKE.*

[Before reading this piece, let the pupil determine the general character of the language, and tell how such language should be read. See Rule 12, p. 194.]

1. Since I had the honor, I should say the dishonor, of sitting in this house, I have been witness to many strange,

[blocks in formation]

many infamous transactions. What can be your intention, in attacking all honor and virtue ? Do you mean to bring all men to a level with yourselves, and to extirpate all honor and independence? Perhaps you imagine a vote will settle the whole controversy. Alas ! you are not aware, that the manner in which your vote is procured, is a secret to no

man,

2. Listen! for if you are not totally callous, if your consciences are not seared, I will speak daggers to your souls, and awake you to all the horrors of guilty recollection. I will follow you with whips and stings through every maze of your unexampled turpitude, and plant thorns under the rose of ministerial approbation. You have flagrantly violated justice and the law of the land, and opened a door for anarchy and confusion. After assuming an arbitrary dominion over law and justice, you issue orders, warrants, and proclamations against every opponent, and send to your Bastile, * all those who have courage and virtue to defend the freedom of the country.

3. But it is in vain that you hope, by fear and terror, to extinguish the native British fire. The more sacrifices, the more martyrs you make, the more numerous the sons of liberty will become. They will multiply like the hydra, and hurl vengeance on your heads. Let others act as they will; while I have a tongue or an arm, it shall be free. And, that I may not be a witness of these monstrous proceedings, I will leave the house. These walls are unholy, baleful, deadly, while a prostitute majority holds the bolt of parliamentary power, and hurls its vengeance only upon the virtuous.

Bas'tile, a castle in which criminals, or men condemned for political offenses, sre immured for life.

LESSON XXXII.

PREVALENCE OF POETRY.- PERCIVAL. 1. The world is full of poetry, — the air

Is living with its spirit; and the waves
Dance to the music of its melodies,
And sparkle in its brightness. Earth is veiled,
And mantled with its beauty; and the walls,
That close the universe with crystal in,
Are eloquent with voices that proclaim
The unseen glories of immensity,
In harmonies, too perfect, and too high,
For aught but beings of celestial mold, —
And speak to man in one eternal hymn,

Unfading beauty, and unyielding power. 2. The

year

leads round the seasons, in a choir Forever charming, and forever new, Blending the grand, the beautiful, the gay, The mournful, and the tender, in one strain, Which steals into the heart, like sounds, that rise Far off, in moonlight evenings, on the shore Of the wide ocean, resting after storms; Or tones that wind around the vaulted roof, And pointed arches, and retiring aisles Of some old, lonely minster, where the hand, Skillful, and moved with passionate love of art, Plays o'er the higher keys, and bears aloft The peal of bursting thunder, and then calls, By mellow touches, from the softer tubes, Voices of melting tenderness, that blend With pure and gentle musing, till the soul, Commingling with the melody, is borne, Rapt and dissolved in ecstacy, to heaven.

« PreviousContinue »