« PreviousContinue »
Mingled clouds are now fast flying,
Holy sunbeams, shining strong,
And the bird renews his song.
A ROMANCE OF THE REVOLUTION.
Living under wholesome laws, and in the engagement of civil liberty, the present generation is apt to forget the hardships encountered by their forefathers. So long and uninterrupted has been our possession of freedom of thought and action, that it now seems a natural right, to which none would deny our claims. Yet reflection tells us it was not thus a century since. Ere that boon, compared with which all others are as naught, was granted, many a hard-contested battle was fought, much noble blood was shed. The battle-field bore witness to the reluctance with which others yielded to our just demands. All the tender ties, which unite heart to heart, were severed by the raging strife. Those were truly the days in which the metal of men was tested by the crucible of dangers. Although numbers acquitted themselves in the trial with honors, we only wish to mention the example of one, whose patriotism compelled him to make the greatest of human sacrifices--the object of his ardent love. Nor do we intend to portray a romance of fiction, but a romance of stern reality.
“Sunset was flinging the golden mantle of its sinking god on mountain, wave, and tree; the song of birds was dying as each sought his nest in the clustering foliage or scented bower," and the landscape, as far as the eye could reach, presented the tranquil and mellow appearance, anticipative of approaching twilight, when two riders issued from the park fronting the mansion of a Carolinian planter. The one was a handsome, prepossessing youth ; his companion a beautiful fair one, in whose rosy cheek and laughing eye might be traced the sweet innocence of girlhood. Onward they cantered, making the forest ring with their merry voices. Bright hope, and still brighter love, gladdened their youthful hearts. To them the present was a scene of bliss, and the future only appeared as the fulfillment of their bright dreams of wedded happiness. No dark cloud had as yet lowered over their sunny horizon. This young couple continued their ride, until low, ominous mutterings of thunder, accompanied with quick flashes of lightnings, warned them that it was time to return. Before reaching home, black clouds were sailing over their heads, and big drops of rain were descending. These fair equestrians were Alexander Hume and Ellen Lacy.
Young Hume had been for some time anxious to join his country. men in their contest for Liberty, but refrained from doing so at the solicitation of his father. Although he had not arrived at maturity, he
would not have been so easily constrained, had not other than paternal influences swayed his inclinations. He had frequently resolved to join Sumpter or Marion, but whenever he mentioned the subject to his lady-love, her tears and pleading looks melted his determination. But before the present evening, he had never expressed the wish nearest his heart. With a lover's eloquence he had made the fair Ellen confess her fondness, and consent to become his plighted bride. The eager lover was anxious for the marriage day to be appointed. The lady, while the tell-tale blushes mantled o'er her cheeks, finally consented. Amid such sweet communings and fond glances, the hours flew on unnoticed.
But they were suddenly awakened from their happy dreams. One of young Hume's family servants burst into the room, with the startling intelligence, that a band of tories had surrounded his father's mansion, and were committing the most horrible atrocities. The young man bade a hasty adieu to his betrothed, received a miniature of her charming features, and mounting his fiery steed, dashed off. His father's dwelling was some miles distant, but by application of his spurs, he soon arrived within sight of what was once his home. But now, alas ! all that could be seen was a smoking heap of logs. For several minutes he stood mute with astonishment and surprise. His manly soul was dismayed by the appalling sight. Even at the distance where he stood, he could perceive a body of terrified slaves grouped around some object which he could not distinguish. He hastened forward, and there, horrible sight for a son! he beheld his father hanging from the limb of a tree, with every muscle stiffened in the agonies of death. For some minutes he stood overcome with grief. He then cut the rope, and enfolded the cold corpse in his arms. The death of those we love is a source of sadness at all times, but when it occurs in such a terrible form, the sight almost pierces the brain. This was young Hume's only parent. His mother had been taken from him in infancy, and the father possessed all the affection, which would have been due to her. He now reproached himself for not taking arms and joining the defenders of his country. He saw how closely the chain of Love had entwined his heart. That cold, calm face seemed to reproach him with inactivity. He now made a vow to devote himself to his country, and avenge the murder of his parent.
Aster discharging the last duties to the dead, with a heart sad, but thirsting for vengeance, he joined the army on its march against Savannah. The prospect of fame or military advancement awakened no emotion of emulation within his bosom. His enthusiasm was tinctured with despair. The lightheartedness of his companions in arms sounded like mockery. The polite courtesy of the Count D’Es. taing, in granting the besieged twenty-four hours for deliberation, chafed his impetuous spirit. Instead of granting a delay, he would have immediately rushed on to the assault. While the pall of night hung over the slumbering army, he passed the sentinels and wandered in the neighboring woods. The cool breeze that fanned his cheek, in some degree tranquilized his mind. His thoughts would mount to the em
pyrean realms, from which he had so suddenly been precipitated. His imagination painted his betrothed in tears and disconsolate. A prophetic warning seemed to whisper, that the approaching day would be fatal to him. He endeavored to shake off his despondency, but without success. But he determined, if death should come, his lise should be sold as dear as possible.
The morning's reveille summoned him back to the camp. The commander selected him as a herald to bear the flag of peace to the enemy. In answer, he received their defiance. The soldiers were drawn up in battle-array, and the destructive cannonading commenced. Rank after rank was mowed down, and still others continued to advance, to share the same fate. The French were cut to pieces, or had already retreated. A few brave, invincible Americans still stood their ground. Alexander Hume, as a young lion, rushed where the fight was the most fierce. He heeded not the balls whizzing around him, the glistening swords, or the bloody corpses that obstructed his path. His little band was dropping off without hope of succor ; the only alternative was to retreat, or strike a bold stroke for a glorious victory or death. The latter was their choice. At their leader's command, as a foaming billow dashed against the stony breakers, they rushed up to the very cannon's mouth. The forked flames glared in their faces, but their dauntless hearts never flinched. Young Hume raised the flag staff, and with his reeking sword cut his way at the head of the little band who were determined to conquer or die. At length, hemmed in on all sides, and covered with wounds, they fell.
The battle was now over, and sorrowing friends were searching among the dead for their loved ones, when the stiff corpse of young Hume was discovered. The clotted blood showed where the sharp, mortal steel had entered. The funeral shroud was prepared, and the body was stripped, when a miniature, crimsoned with the blood of his now lifeless heart, was discovered. A few weeks more and he would have clasped the blushing bride to his bosom. That countenance, pale and frigid in the sleep of death, would have been wreathed with smiles of happiness. In sad array they bore him to the tomb of his fathers. The blow was too heavy for his plighted bride. Like the drooping lily, she gradually faded. The cord of Love was snapped, and that of life ceased to vibrate. Her grave was made by the side of her lover's, and there she sleeps. And their loving souls now commune in that bright land where all are happy.
PATRIOTISM AND PHILANTHROPY, DISTINGUISHED AND
The love of Country and the love of Mankind are two leading principles of action in the human heart. Each in its appropriate sphere is exalted in its aims, and well worthy the man and the Christian. And when properly blended in the same individual, they help to make up that beautiful symmetry of character, which at once adorns and elevates the fallen nature of man, and restores to view traces of its primeval excellence. Both are the offspring of Benevolence, and are nearly allied to that great principle of love, which alone distinguishes heaven from hell; and which, if universally acted upon, would make a paradise of earth. He who is destitute of these, or, in other words, who acts from mere selfishness, irrespective of the rights and happiness of others, is undeserving the name of man, and needs nothing but a removal of all restraint from his heart, to render him a fit companion for the spirits of the world below.
The love of Mankind is evidently an inherent principle in the beart, implanted in man by the hand of his Maker. And only by a long course of flagrant crimes, calculated to do violence to this principle, or by a series of successive injuries and disappointments, tending to alienate the heart from all feelings of sympathy with fellow beings, are its traces ever entirely obliterated.
It implies in its full force, the cherishing a kind regard toward the whole human family, and a disposition to promote, as far as in us lies, the happiness of every individual. It extends to the enemy as well as the friend. And not only demands that we spare our deadliest foe, when he has fallen into our hands, unless the attainment of some higher end requires the sacrifice of his life; but also bids us administer the healing balm to his wounds, and soothe his dying agonies. The treatment of Col. Ledyard and his gallant band by the British, was one of the most flagrant outrages against the principle of Philanthropy the world ever witnessed; while the rescue of Capt. Smith by Pocahontas, is a no less noted example of the triumph of that principle. The one cannot be too highly censured, the other elicits the unqualified approbation of all.
It may perhaps be a matter of some doubt, whether the love of Country, like Philanthropy, is an innate principle of the mind, or whether it is the result of cultivation merely. The roving disposition of men in the earlier ages of the world, and of many of the more rude and barbarous tribes of the present day, would seem to indicate that man, in his natural state, is a migratory being; and that a cultivated mode of life, a desire for mutual improvement and assistance, and an attachment to friends, have kindled up the fires of Patriotism in his breast. Whatever may have been its origin, the present constitution of society renders its existence essential to the highest good of the whole.
From the family circle up to those governments on whose domin
ions “the sun never sets ;" like so many wheels of a machine all subservient to the general plan, the complicated machinery of society tends towards one general result; and by this wise arrangement men are mutually bound to protect each other, and to assist in strengthening the common bond that unites them together. Patriotism does not demand that we hate our foes, in order that we may the more effectually defend our country; but it does require that we cherish so high a regard for our country, that when its safety demands it, we stand ready to take up arms in its defense ; just as it is the duty of a father or elder brother to protect the weaker members of a family from an enraged neighbor, while kind feeling may prompt him, at the very next hour, to deny himself for the sake of obliging that neighbor.
Patriotism may be carried too far. This fault was perhaps more common formerly than at present, especially among the Greeks and Romans. Love of Country with them was considered the first of virtues, and seems, in part at least, to have rooted out Philanthropy. This doubtless led them into wars that might in some cases have been avoided, had these two principles been more equally balanced. And yet we are constrained to believe, that a more ardent Patriotism was called for then, in order to secure the safety of their Country, than at the present time; and more now than will be when wars shall have ceased from off the earth. But some, in anticipation of that day, have proceeded faster than the progress of Christianization in the world would dictate; and as a consequence have erred on the side of Philanthropy. (Pardon the misnomer.) But that human governments will be entirely abolished, even in the glorious days of the millenium, remains yet to be shown.
Having thus briefly touched upon the origin of these two principles, we will next proceed to notice some of the points in which they differ. And, first, they differ in respect to the nature of the objects to which they relate. Patriotism seeks to guard the nation's honor and the nation's rights from outward assaults—to adopt that system of government which will result in the greatest present good to the country, and which will also perpetuate and secure the same to posterity--to enact, and execute on principles of justice, those laws, that will best protect the personal rights of all,
Philanthropy aims at both public and private happiness. It discards every system that would exalt one portion of community, by infringing upon the rights of another. It bids us extend the friendly hand of charity for the relief of the distressed, of whatever name or nation, color or condition. It only waits to know that the sufferer is one of the lost race of Adam, however degraded by iniquity or sunken in pollution; and like some angel of mercy it flies to his relief. In the language of scripture, “it comforts those who mourn, lists up those that are bowed down; strengthens the weak hands and confirms the feeble knees ; binds up the broken-hearted, proclaims liberty to the captive, and the opening of the prison-doors to those that are bound; feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, and visits the widow and the fatherless in their afflictions."