above the horizon, and turned the dewy tear-drops of flower and leaf into rubies and diamonds. In a few seconds, the everlasting gates of the morning were thrown wide open, and the lord of day, arrayed in glories too severe for the gaze of man, began his state.



A celebrated skeptical philosopher of the last century-the historian, Hume—thought to demolish the credibility of the Christian revelation, by the concise argument,—“It is contrary to experience that a miracle should be true, but not contrary to experience that testimony should be false.” Contrary to experience that phenomena should exist which we cannot trace to causes perceptible to the human sense, or conceivable by human thought! It would be much nearer the truth to say that within the husbandman's experience there are no phenomena which can be rationally traced to any thing but the instant energy of creative power.

Did this philosopher ever contemplate the landscape at the close of the year, when seeds, and grains, and fruits have ripened, and stalks have withered, and leaves have fallen, and winter has forced her icy curb even into the roaring jaws of Niagara, and sheeted half a continent in her glittering shroud, and all this teeming vegetation and organized life are locked in cold and marble obstructions, and after week upon week, and month upon month, have swept, with sleet, and chilly rain, and howling storm, over the earth, and riveted their crystal bolts upon the door of nature's sepulchre,—when the sun at length begins to wheel in higher circles through the sky, and softer winds to breathe over melting snows,—did he ever behold the long-hidden earth at length appear, and soon the timid grass peep forth; and anon the autumnal wheat begin to paint the field, and velvet leaflets to burst from purple buds, throughout the reviving forest, and then the mellow soil to open its fruitful bosom to every grain and seed dropped from the planter's hand,—buried, but to spring up again, clothed with a new, mysterious being; and then, as more fervid suns inflame the air, and softer showers distil from the clouds, and gentler dews string their pearls on twig and tendril, did he ever watch the ripening grain and fruit, pendent from stalk, and vine, and tree; the meadow, the field, the pasture, the grove, each after his kind, arrayed in myriad-tinted garments, instinct with circulating life; seven millions of counted leaves on a single tree, each of which is a system whose exquisite complication puts to shame the shrewdest cunning of the human hand; every planted seed and grain, which had been loaned to

the earth, compounding its pious usury thirty, sixty, a hundred fold,--all harmoniously adapted to the sustenance of living nature, the bread of a hungry world; here, a tilled corn-field, whose yellow blades are nodding with the food of man; there, an unplanted wilderness,—the great Father's farm, where He “who hears the raven's cry" has cultivated, with his own hand, his merciful crop of berries, and nuts, and acorns, and seeds, for the humbler families of animated nature; the solemn elephant, the browsing deer, the wild pigeon whose fluttering caravan darkens the sky, the merry squirrel, who bounds from branch to branch, in the joy of his little life,—has he seen all •this? Does he see it every year, and month, and day? Does he live, and move, and breathe, and think, in this atmosphere of wonder,-himself the greatest wonder of all, whose smallest fibre and faintest pulsation is as much a mystery as the blazing glories of Orion's belt? And does he still maintain that a miracle is contrary to experience? If he has, and if he does, then let him go, in the name of Heaven, and say that it is contrary to experience that the august Power which turns the clods of the earth into the daily bread of a thousand million souls could feed five thousand in the wilderness.

Address before the New York Agricultural Society, October 9, 1857.


Green be the turf above thee,

Friend of my better days! None knew thee but to love thee,

Nor named thee but to praise. Tears fell, when thou wert dying,

From eyes unused to weep;
And long, where thou art lying,

Will tears the cold turf steep.
When hearts, whose truth was proven,

Like thine, are laid in carth,
There should a wreath be woven,

To tell the world their worth ;

And I, who woke each morrow

To clasp thy hand in mine,
Who shared thy joy and sorrow,

Whose wcal and woe were thine,-
It should be mine to braid it

Around thy faded brow;
But I've in vain essay'd it,

And feel I cannot now.
While memory bids me weep thee,

Nor thoughts nor words are free;
The grief is tix'd too deeply
That mourns a man like thee.


Joseph RODMAN DRAKE was born in the city of New York, August 7, 1795. After a suitable preparatory education, he entered upon the study of medicine, obtained his degree in October, 1816, and soon after was married to a daughter of Henry Eckford, a wealthy merchant, and was thus placed above the necessity of laboring in his profession. It was well that it was so; for his health, always delicate, began to decline, and, in the winter of 1819, he went to New Orleans, in the hope that its milder climate would be of service to him. But he returned in the spring of 1520, not in the least improved, lingered through the summer, and died on the 21st of September, 1820.

Drake began to write verses when he was very young, and, before he was sis. teen, contributed, anonymously, to two or three newspapers. Some humorous and satirical odes, called the Croaker Pieces, were written by him for the “Evening Post,” in March, 1819; and soon after, his friend Halleck, the poet, united with him, and the pieces were signed "Croaker & Co.” The last one, written by Drake, was that spirited ode, The American Flag. But


is that on which the fame of Drake chiefly rests, and an ever-enduring foundation will it prove to be ; for a poem of more exquisite fancy--as happily conceived as it is artistically executed—we have hardly had since the days of Miltod's “ Comus." It opens with the gathering—“ in the middle watch of a summer's night”-of countless spirits of earth from their various homes.


They come from beds of lichen green,
They creep from the mullen's velvet screen;

Some on the backs of beetles fly
From the silver tops of moon-touch'd trees,

Where they swung in their cobweb hammocks high,
And rock'd about in the evening breeze;

Some from the hum-bird's downy nest,-
They had driven him out by elfin power,

And, pillow'd on plumes of his rainbow breast,
Had slumber'd there till the charméd hour;

Some had lain in the scoop of the rock,
With glittering ising-stars inlaid;

And some had open'd the four-o'clock,
And stole within its purple shade.

And now they throng the moonlight glade,
Above-below_on every side,

Their little minim forms array'd

In the tricksy pomp of fairy pride! They assemble for the following purpose :


For an Ouphe has broken his vestal vow;
He has loved an earthly maid,
And left for her his woodland shade;
He has lain upon her lip of dew,
And sunn'd him in her eye of blue,
Fann'd her cheek with his wing of air,
Play'd in the ringlets of her hair,
And, nestling on her snowy breast,
Forgot the lily-king's behest.
For this the shadowy tribes of air

To the elfin court must haste away :-
And now they stand expectant there,

To hear the doom of the culprit Fay.
The hapless creature is thus condemned:

Thou shalt seek the beach of sand
Where the water bounds the elfin land;

Thou shalt watch the oozy brine
Till the sturgeon leaps in the bright moonshine,
Then dart the glistening arch below,
And catch a drop from his silver bow.
The water-sprites will wield their arms

And dash around, with roar and rave,
And vain are the woodland spirits' charms,

They are the imps that rule the wave.
Yet trust thee in thy single might:
If thy heart be pure and thy spirit right,
Thou shalt win the warlock fight.


“If the spray-bead gem be won,

The stain of thy wing is wash'd away:
But another errand must be done

Ere thy crime be lost for aye;
Thy flame-wood lamp is quench'd and dark,
Thou must reillume its spark.
Mount thy steed and spur him high
To the heavens' blue canopy ;
And when thou seest a shooting star,
Follow it fast, and follow it far,-
The last faint spark of its burning train
Shall light the elfin lamp again.
Thou hast heard our sentence, Fay;

Hence! to the water-side, away!" The following description of his armor is one of surpassing delicacy and beauty :


He put his acorn helmet on;
It was plumed of the silk of the thistle-down:
The corslet plate that guarded his breast
Was once the wild bee's golden vest;
His cloak, of a thousand mingled dyes,
Was form’d of the wings of butterflies ;
His shield was the shell of a lady-bug queen,
Studs of gold on a ground of green;
And the quivering lance which he brandish'd bright,
Was the sting of a wasp he had slain in fight.
Swift he best rode his fire-fly steed;

He bared his blade of the bent grass blue;
He drove his spurs of the cockle-seed,

And away like a glance of thought he few,
To skim the heavens, and follow far

The fiery trail of the rocket-star.
Then away be goes,

Up to the vaulted firmament
His path the fire-fly courser bent,
And at every gallop on the wind,
He flung a glittering spark behind;
He flies like a feather in the blast
Till the first light cloud in heaven is past.


Up to the cope careering swift,

In breathless motion fast,
Fleet as the swallow cuts the drift,

Or the sea-roc rides the blast,
The sapphire sheet of eve is shot,

The spheréd moon is past,
The earth but seems a tiny blot

On a sheet of azure cast.
Oh! it was sweet, in the clear moonlight,

To tread the starry plain of even,
To meet the thousand eyes of night,

And feel the cooling breath of heaven!
But the Elfin made no stop or stay
Till he came to the bank of the milky way,
Then he check'd his courser's foot,
And watch'd for the glimpse of the planet-shoot.

[blocks in formation]

He is successful in his mission, and, on his return, the myriad joyous and dancing sprites—his merry companions— thus welcome him, and then all Tanish :

Ouphe and Goblin! Imp and Sprite!

Elf of eve! and starry Fay!
Ye that love the moon's soft light,

Hither-hither wend your way;
Twine ye in a jocund ring,

Sing and trip it merrily,
Hand to hand, and wing to wing,

Round the wild witch-hazel tree.
Hail the wanderer again

With dance and song, and lute and lyre,
Pure his wing and strong his chain,

And doubly bright his fairy fire.
Twine ye in an airy round,

Brush the dew and print the lea;
Skip and gambol, hop and bound,

Round the wild witch-hazel tree.
The beetle guards our holy ground,

He flies about the haunted place,
And if mortal there he found,

He hums in his ears and flaps his face;
The leaf-harp sounds our roundelay,

The owlet's eyes our lanterns be;
Thus we sing, and dance, and play,

Round the wild witch-hazel tree.
But, hark! from tower on tree-top high,

The sentry-elf his call has made :
A streak is in the eastern sky,

Shapes of moonlight! Ait and fade!
The hill-tops gleam in morning's spring,
The skylark shakes his dappled wing,
The day-glimpse glimmers on the lawn,
The cock has crow'd,--and the Fays are gon

« ForrigeFortsett »