American Poet, Critic, Editor
William Cullen Bryant
American Poet, Critic, Editor
So they, who climb to wealth, forget the friends in darker fortunes tried. I copied them -- but I regret that I should ape the ways of pride.
The earth may ring, from shore to shore, with echoes of a glorious name, but he, whose loss our tears deplore, has left behind him more than fame.
The right to discuss freely and openly, by speech, by the pen, by the press, all political questions, and to examine and animadvert (speak out) upon all political institutions, is a right so clear and certain, so interwoven with our other liberties, so necessary, in fact to their existence, that without it we must fall at once into depression or anarchy. To say that he who holds unpopular opinions must hold them at the peril of his life, and that, if he expresses them in public, he has only himself to blame if they who disagree with him should rise and put him to death, is to strike at all rights, all liberties, all protection of the laws, and to justify and extenuate all crimes.
There is a day of sunny rest for every dark and troubled night; and a grief may bid, and evening guest, bot joy shall come with early light.
To him who in the love of nature holds communion with her visible forms, she speaks a various language; for his gayer hours she has a voice of gladness, and a smile and eloquence of beauty, and she glides into his darker musings, with a mild and healing sympathy, that steals away their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts of the last bitter hour come like a blight over thy spirit, and sad images of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall, and breathless darkness, and the narrow house, make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;? go forth, under the open sky, and list to nature?s teachings, while from all around?earth and her waters, and the depths of air?comes a still voice?yet a few days, and thee the all-beholding sun shall see no more in all his course; nor yet in the cold ground, where thy pale form was laid, with many tears, nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim thy growth, to be resolved to earth again, and, lost each human trace, surrendering up thine individual being, shalt thou go to mix forever with the elements, to be a brother to the insensible rock and to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mold. Yet not to thine eternal resting-place shalt thou retire lone, nor couldst thou wish couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down with patriarchs of the infant world?with kings, the powerful of the earth?the wise, the good, fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past, all in one mighty sepulchre. The hills rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun,?the vales stretching in pensive quietness between; the venerable woods?rivers that move in majesty, and the complaining brooks that make the meadows green; and, poured round all, old ocean?s gray and melancholy waste,? are but the solemn decorations all of the great tomb of man. The golden sun, the planets, all the infinite host of heaven, are shining on the sad abodes of death, through the still lapse of ages. All that tread the globe are but a handful to the tribes that slumber in its bosom.?take the wings of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness, or lose thyself in the continuous woods where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound, save his own dashings?yet the dead are there: and millions in those solitudes, since first the flight of years began, have laid them down in their last sleep?the dead reign there alone. So shalt thou rest, and what if thou withdraw in silence from the living, and no friend take note of thy departure? All that breathe will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh when thou art gone, the solemn brood of care plod on, and each one as before will chase his favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave their mirth and their employments, and shall comeand make their bed with thee. As the long train of ages glide away, the sons of men, the youth in life?s green spring, and he who goes in the full strength of years, matron and maid, the speechless babe, and the gray-headed man? shall one by one be gathered to thy side, by those, who in their turn shall follow them. So live, that when thy summons comes to join the innumerable caravan, which moves to that mysterious realm, where each shall take his chamber in the silent halls of death, thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night, scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed by an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave, like one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
Truth gets well if she is run over by a locomotive, while error dies of lockjaw if she scratches her finger.
War, like other situations of danger and of change, calls for the exertion of admirable intellectual qualities and great virtues, and it is only by dwelling on these, and keeping out of sight the sufferings and sorrows, and all the crimes and evils that follow in its train, that it has its glory in the eyes of man.
All that tread the globe are but a handful to the tribes that slumber in its bosom.
Much has been said of the wisdom of old age. Old age is wise, I grant, for itself, but not wise for the community. It is wise in declining new enterprises, for it has not the power nor the time to execute them; wise in shrinking from difficulty, for it has not the strength to overcome it; wise in avoiding danger, for it lacks the faculty of ready and swift action, by which dangers are parried and converted into advantages. But this is not wisdom for mankind at large, by whom new enterprises must be undertaken, dangers met, and difficulties surmounted.
Poetry is that art which selects and arranges the symbols of thought in such a manner as to excite the imagination the most powerfully and delightfully.
The press, important as is its office, is but the servant of the human intellect, and its ministry is for good or for evil, according to the character of those who direct it. The press is a mill which grinds all that is put into its hopper. Fill he hopper with poisoned grain, and it will grind it to meal, but there is death in the bread.
Remorse is virtue's root; its fair increase are fruits of innocence and blessedness.