Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

And you have slander'd nature in my form;
Which, however rude exteriorly,
Is yet the cover of a fairer mind
Than to be butcher of an innocent child.

K. John. Doth Arthur live? Ob, haste thee to the peers,
Throw this report on their incenséd rage,
And make them tame to their obedience !
Forgive the comment that my passion made.
Upon thy features; for my rage was blind,
And foul, imaginary eyes of blood
Presented thee more hideous than thou art.
Oh, answer not; but to my closet bring
The angry lords, with all expedient haste :
I conjure thee but slowly; run more fast.

LESSON CXLIX.
THE IRISH DISTURBANCE BILL.

BY DANIEL O'CONNELL. 1. I do not rise to fawn or cringe to this House. I do not rise to supplicate you to be merciful toward the nation to which I belong,—toward a nation which, though subject to England, yet is distinct from it. It is a distinct nation': it has been treated as such by this country, as may be proved by history and by seven hundred years of tyranny. I call upon this House, as you value the liberty of England, not to allow the present nefarious bill to pass. In it are involved the liberties of England, the liberty of the press, and of every other institution dear to Englishmen.

2. Against the bill I protest, in the name of the Irish people, and in the face of Heaven. I treat with scorn the puny and pitiful assertions, that grievances are not to be complained of, that our redress is not to be agitated; for, in such cases, remonstrances cannot be too strong, agitation cannot be too violent, to show to the world with what injustice our fair claims are met, and under what tyranny the people suffer.

3. There is a frightful clause in this bill, which does away with trial by jury, and substitutes what you call a court martial, -a mere nickname, but what I stigmatize as a revolutionary tri bunal. What in the name of Heaven is it, if it is not the establishment of a revolutionary tribunal? It annihilates the trial by

22

jury; it drives the judge from his bench, the man who, from experience, could weigh the nice and delicate points of a case, who could discriminate between the straightforward testimony and the suborned evidence, who could see, plainly and readily, the justice or injustice of the accusation.

4. It turns out this man who is free, unshackled, unprejudiced, —who has no previous opinions to control the clear exercise of his duty. You do away with that which is more sacred than the throne itself; that for which your king reigns, your lords deliberate, your Commons assemble. If ever I doubted before of the success of our agitation for repeal, this bill,—this infamous bill, the way in which it has been received by the House, the manner in which its opponents have been treated, the personalities to which they have been subjected, the yells with which one of them has this night been greeted,-all these things dissipate my doubts, and tell me of its complete and early triumph.

5. Do you think those yells will be forgotten? Do you suppose their echo will not reach the plains of my injured and insulted country,—that they will not be whispered in her green valleys, and heard from her lofty hills? Oh, they will be heard there! yes, and they will not be forgotten. The youth of Ireland will bound with indignation: they will say, “We are eight millions; and you treat us thus, as though we were no more to your country than the Isle of Guernsey or of Jersey!”

6. I have done my duty. I stand acquitted to my conscience and to my country. I have opposed this measure throughout; and I now protest against it, as harsh, oppressive, uncalled-for, unjust, -as establishing an infamous precedent, by retaliating crime against crime,--as tyrannous, cruelly and vindictively tyrannous!

LESSON CL.

THE OLD CLOCK ON THE STAIRS.

BY 1. W. LONGFELLOW.

1. SOMEWHAT back from the village street

Stands the old-fashion'd country-seat;
Across its antique portico,
Tall poplar-trees their shadows throw;

And from its station in the hall
An ancient time-piece says to all,

“Forever-never !
Never-forever !"

2. Half-way up the stairs it stands,

And points and beckons with its hands
From its case of massive oak,
Like a monk, who, under his cloak,
Crosses himself, and sighs, alas!
With sorrowful voice to all who pass,

“Forever-never!
Never-forever!

3. By day its voice is low and light;

But in the silent dead of night,
Distinct as a passing footstep’s fall,
It echoes along the vacant hall,
Along the ceiling, along the floor,
And seems to say, at each chamber-door,

"Forever-never !
Never-forever!

4. Through days of sorrow and of mirth,

Through days of death and days of birth,
Through every swift vicissitude
Of changeful time, unchanged it stood,
And as if, like God, it all things saw,
It calmly repeats those words of awe:

“Forever--never !
Never—forever!"

5. In that mansion used to be

Free-hearted hospitality;
His great fires up the chimney roar'd;
The stranger feasted at his board;
But, like skeleton at the feast,
That warning time-piece never ceased :-

“Forevernever!
Neyer—forever!”

8. There groups of merry children play'd;

There youths and maidens, dreaming, stray'd;
Oh, precious hours! Oh, golden prime,
And afluence of love and time!

Even as a miser counts his gold,
Those hours the ancient time-piece told:-

“Forever-never !

Never-forever!"
7. From that chamber, clothed in white,

The bride came forth on her wedding-night;
There, in that silent room below,
The dead lay in its shroud of snow;
And in the hush that follow'd the prayer
Was heard the old clock on the stair:

“Forever-never!

Never-forever!"
8. All are scatter'd now and fled: :

Some are married; some are dead;
And when I ask, with throbs of pain,
“Ah! when shall they all meet again? !
As in the days long since gone by?”.
The ancient time-piece makes reply,-

“Forever-never!

Never—forever!”
9. Never here, forever there,

Where all parting, pain, and care,
And death, and time, shall disappear!
Forever there, but never here!
The horologe of eternity
Sayeth this incessantly :-

“Forever-never!
Never-forever!”

LESSON CLI.

EMMETT’S VINDICATION. ROBERT EMMETT, the Irish patriot, was born in 1780. Having taken an active part in the rebellion against the Government which broke out in Dublin on the 23d of June, 1803, he was tried and found guilty of high-treason September 19th of the same year. He asked that the judgment of the court might be postponed until the next morning; but, this being denied him, he made the eloquent and touching speech in selfvindication, which is comprised in this and the following lesson. He was executed on the 20th of September, 1803.

1. WHAT have I to say why the sentence of death should not be pronounced on me, according to law? I have nothing to say, that can alter your predetermination, or that it would become me to say with any view to the mitigation of that sentence which you are here to pronounce, and which I must abide by. But I have that to say which interests me more than life, and which you have labored—as was necessarily your office in the present circumstances of this oppressed country—to destroy. I have much to say, why my reputation should be secured from the load of false accusation and calumny which has been heaped upon it.

2. I do not imagine, that, seated where you are, your minds can be so free from impurity as to receive the least impression from what I am going to utter. I have no hopes that I can anchor my character in the breast of a court, constituted and trammeled as this is. I only wish—and it is the utmost I expect—that your lordships may suffer it to float down your memories, untainted by the foul breath of prejudice, until it finds some more hospitable harbor, to shelter it from the storms by which it is at present buffeted.

3. Were I only to suffer death, after being adjudged guilty by your tribunal, I should bow in silence, and meet the fate that awaits me without a murmur. But the sentence of the law which delivers my body to the executioner will, through the ministry of that law, labor, in its own vindication, to consign my character to obloquy; for there must be guilt somewhere,whether in the sentence of the court or in the catastrophe, posterity must determine. A man in my situation, my lords, has not only to encounter the difficulties of fortune, and the force of power over minds which it has corrupted or subjugated, but the difficulties of established prejudice: the man dies, but his memory lives. That mine may not perish, that it may live in the respect of my countrymen, I seize upon this opportunity to vindicate myself from some of the charges alleged against me.

4. When my spirit shall have been wafted to a more friendly port, when my shade shall have joined those bands of martyred heroes who have shed their blood on the scaffold and in the field, in defence of their country and of virtue, this is my hope: I wish that my memory and name may animate those who survive me, while I look down with complacency on the destruction of that perfidious government, which upholds its domination by blasphemy of the Most High; which displays its power over man as over the beasts of the forest; which sets man upon his brother, and lifts his hand, in the name of God, against the throat of his fellow who believes or doubts a little more or a little less than the government standard,-a government which is steeled to barbarity by the cries of orphans, and the tears of the widows which it has made. (Here Lord Norbury said,

« AnteriorContinuar »