Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE WRECK OF THE ARCTIC.

329

every morning it was still one night nearer home, and at evening one day nearer home! Eight days had passed. They beheld that distant bank of mist that forever haunts the vast shallows of New'foundland. Boldly they made it, and plunging in, its pliant wreaths wrapped them about. They shall never emerge. The last sunlight has flashed from that deck. The last

voyage is done to ship and passengers.

6. At noon there came noiselessly stealing from the north that fated instrument of destruction. In that mysterious shroud, that vast atmosphere of mist, both steamers were holding their way wifih rushing prow and roaring wheels, but invisible. At a league's distance, unconscious, and at nearer approach unwarned; within hail, and bearing right toward each other, unseen, unfelt, till in a moment more, emerging from the gray mists, the illomened Vesta dealt her deadly stroke to the Arctic.

7. The death-blow was scarcely felt along the mighty hull. She nēither reeled nor shivered. Neither commander nor officers deemed that they had suffered harm. Prompt upon humanity, the brave Luce (let his name be ever spoken with admiration and respect) ordered away his boat with the first officer, to inquire if the stranger had suffered harm.

8. As Gourley went over the ship's side, oh that some good āngel had called to the brave commander in the words of Paul on a like occasion," except these ăbide in the ship ye can not be saved." They departed, and with them the hope of the ship, for now the waters, gaining upon the hold and rising up upon the fires, revealed the mortal blow.

9. Oh, had now that stern, brave mate, Gourley, been on deck, whom the sailors were wont to mind-had he stood to execute efficiently the commander's will—we may believe that we should not have to blush for the cowardice and recreäncy' of the craw, nor weep for the untimely dead. But, apparently, each subordinate officer lost all presence of mind, then coŭrage, and so honor. In a wild scramble, that ignoble mob of firemen, engineers, waiters, and crew rushed for the boats, and abandoned the helpless women, children, and men to the mercy of the deep! Four hours there were from the catastrophe of the collision to the catastrophe of SINKING! 10. Oh, what a burial was here! Not as when one is borne

1 Rěc're an cò, a mean-spirited yielding; unfaithfulness.

from his home, among weeping thrõngs, and gently carried to the green fields, and laid peacefully beneath the turf and the flowers. No priest stood to pronounce a burial-service. It was an ocean grave.

The mists alone shrouded the burial-place. No spade prepared the grave, nor sexton filled up the hollowed earth. Down, down they sank, and the quick returning waters smoothed out every ripple, and left the sea as if it had not beens

HENRY WARD BEECHER,

SECTION XXX.

I.

141. NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS.

OT many generations' ago, where you now sit, encircled

,

thistle nodded in the wind, and the wild fox dug his hole unscared. Here lived and loved another race of beings. Beneath the same sun that rolls over your head, the Indian hunter pursued the panting deer; gazing on the same moon that smiles for you, the Indian lover wooed his dusky mate.

2. Here, the wigwam blaze beamed on the tender and helplèss, and the council-fire glared on the wise and daring. Now, they dipped their noble limbs in your sedgy lakes, and now, they paddled the light canoe along your rocky shores. Here they warred; the echoing whoop, the bloody grapple, the defying death-song, all were here; and when the tiger-strife was over, here curled the smoke of peace.

3. Here, too, they worshiped; and from many a dark bosom went up a fervent prayer to the Great Spirit. He had not written his laws for them on tables of stone, but he had traced them on the tables of their hearts. The poor child of Nature knew

i Gěn'erā' tion, the mass of peo- beautiful by ornaments; decorates ple living at the same time; the * Wig'wam, an Indian hut, or common length of time at which one cabin. class of persons follows another, or Sedgy, (sej' i), overgrown

with father is succeeded by child ; an age. a narrow flag or coarse grass,

· Em běl lish es, adorns; makes sedge.

called 1 U' ni verse, all created things as a whole; the world.

NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS.

831

not the God of Revelation, but the God of the universe' he acknowledged in ěvery thing around.

4. He beheld him in the star that sank in beauty behind his lonely dwelling ; in the sacred orb that flamed on him from his mid-day throne; in the flower that snapped in the morning breeze ; in the lofty pine that defied a thousand whirlwinds ; in the timid warbler that never left its native grove ; in the fēarlèss eagle, whose untired pinion was wet in clouds; in the worm that crawled at his feet; and in his own mătchless form, glowing with a spark of that light, to whose mysterious source he bent in humble, though blind adoration.'

5. And all this has passed ăway. Across the ocean came a pilgrim' bark, bearing the seeds of life and death. The former were sown for you; the latter sprang up in the path of the simple native. Two hundred years have changed the character of a great continent, and blotted forever from its face, a whole, peculiar people. Art has usurped the bowers of nature, and the anointed children of education have been too powerful for the tribes of the ignorant.

6. Here and there, a stricken few remain ; but how unlike their bold, untamable progenitors. The Indian of falcon glance and lion bearing, the theme of the touching ballad, the hero of the pathetic tale, is gone! and his degraded offspring crawls upon the soil, where he walked in majesty, to remind us how miserable is man, when the foot of the conqueror is on his neck.

7. As a race, they have withered from the land. Their ărrows are broken, their springs are dried up, their cabins are in the dust. Their council-fire has long since gone out of the shore, and their war-cry is fast fading to the untrodden west. Slowly and sadly they climb the distant mountains, and read their doom in the setting sun. They are shrinking before the mighty tide which is pressing them away; they must soon hear the roar of the last wave, which will settle over them forever.

? Ad'o rā' tion, the act of paying honors to a Divine being; worship paid to God.

* Pil' grim, one who slowly and heavily treads his way; a traveler who has a religious object. Pilgrim

bark, a vessel bearing pilgrims.

* Usurped, (yu zérpt'), taken and retained that which does not belong to us, or it.

Pro gěn' i tor, an ancestor in the direct line; a forefather.

• Băllad, a popular song in sim. ple, homely verses.

8. Ages hence, the inquisitive white man, as he stands by some growing city, will ponder' on the structure of their disturbed remains, and wonder to what manner of persons they belonged. They will live only in the songs and chronicles of their exterminators.' Let these be faithful to their rude virtues, as men, and pay due tribute to their unhappy fate, as a people.

CHARLES SPRAGUE

II.

142. THE DREAM.

I

HAD a dream—a strānge, wild dream

Said a dear voice at early light;
And even yět its shadows seem

To linger in my waking sight.
2. Earth green with spring, and fresh with dew,

And bright with morn, before me stood;
And airs just wakened, softly blew

On the young blossoms of the wood.
3. Birds sang within the sprouting shade,

Bees hummed amid the whispering grass,
And children prattled as they played

Beside the rivulet's dimpling glass.
4. Fast climbed the sun! the flowers were flown,

There played no children in the glen ;
For some were gone, and some were grown

To blooming dames and bēarded men.
5. 'Twas noon, 'twas summer ; I beheld

Woods darkening in the flush of day,
And that bright rivulet spread and swelled,

A mighty-stream with creek and bay.
6. And here was love, and there was strife,

And mirthful shouts, and wrathful cries,
And strong men, struggling as for life,

With knotted limbs and angry eyes. Pěn' der, to weigh in the mind; ranged in the order of time; a histo examine or dwell upon with long

tory; a record. and careful attention.

3 Ex ter mi nā'tor, one who, or * Chronicle, (krån’i kl), a histor- that which roots out, or destroys kcal account of facts or events ar- completely; destroyer.

THE WHITE STONE CANOE,

333

7. Now stooped the sun—the shades grew thin;

The rustling paths were piled with leaves;
And sunburnt groups were găthering in

From the shorn field its fruits and sheaves.
8. The river heaved with sullen sounds ;

The chilly wind was sad with moans ;
Black hearses passed, and burial-grounds

Grew thick with monumental stones.
9. Still waned the day ; the wind that chased

The jaggèd clouds blew chillier yệt;
The woods were stripped, the fields were waste,

The wintry sun was near its set.
10. And of the young, and strong, and fair,

A lonely remnant, gray and weak,
Lingered and shivered to the air

Of that bleak shore and water bleak.
11. Ah! age is drear, and death is cold!

I turned to thee, for thou wert near,
And saw thee withered, bowed, and õld,

And woke, all faint with sudden fear.
12. 'Twas thus I heard the dreamer say,

And både her clear her clouded brow; “For thou and I, since childhood's day,

Have walked in such a dream till now.
13. “Watch we in calmness, as they rise,

The changes of that rapid dream,
And note its lessons, till our eyes
Shall open in the morning beam."

WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.

III.

143. THE WHITE STONE CANOE.

TE
HERE was once a věry beautiful young girl, who died sud-

denly on the day she was to have been married to a handsome young man.

He was also brave, but his heart was not proof against this lõss. From the hour she was buried, there was no more joy or peace for him.

2. He went öften to visit the spot where the women had

« AnteriorContinuar »