« PreviousContinue »
"WHENCE this delay ?"—" Along the crowded street A funeral comes, and with unusual pomp." So I withdrew a little and stood still,
While it went by. "She died as she deserved,"
And with a shrug retreating as the tide
Flowed more and more. "But she was beautiful!"
As thou wilt say, or much my mind misleads,
A wail, a chant, louder and louder yet;
As 't were her nightly posture, through the crowd
Death, when we meet the spectre in our walks, As we did yesterday and shall to-morrow, Soon grows familiar-like most other things, Seen, not observed; but in a foreign clime, Changing his shape to something new and strange (And through the world he changes as in sport, Affect he greatness or humility),
Knocks at the heart. His form and fashion here To me, I do confess, reflect a gloom,
A sadness round; yet one I would not lose;
Oft, where the burial-rite follows so fast
Seen thus destitute,
His last great work; 240 when, entering in, they looked
Now on his face, lifeless and colorless,
Then on those forms divine that lived and breathed,
"ANOTHER assassination! This venerable city," I exclaimed, "what is it, but as it began, a nest of robbers and murderers? We must away at sunrise, Luigi."— But before sunrise I had reflected a little, and in the soberest prose. My indignation was gone; and, when Luigi undrew my curtain, crying, "Up, signor, up! The horses are at the gate!" "Luigi," I replied, "if thou lovest me, draw the curtain." 242
It would lessen very much the severity with which men judge of each other, if they would but trace effects to their causes, and observe the progress of things in the moral as accurately as in the physical world. When we condemn millions in the mass as vindictive and sanguinary, we should remember that wherever justice is ill-administered the injured will redress themselves. Robbery provokes to robbery; murder to assassination. Resentments become hereditary; and what began in disorder ends as if all hell had broke loose.
Laws create a habit of self-restraint, not only by the influence of fear, but by regulating in its exercise the passion of revenge. If they overawe the bad by the prospect of a punishment certain and well-defined, they console the injured by the infliction of that punishment; and, as the infliction is a public act, it excites and entails no enmity
The laws are offended; and the community for its own sake pursues and overtakes the offender,- often without the concurrence of the sufferer, sometimes against his wishes. 243
Now, those who were not born, like ourselves, to such advantages, we should, surely, rather pity than hate; and when, at length, they venture to turn against their rulers,24* we should lament, not wonder at, their excesses; remembering that nations are naturally patient and long-suffering, and seldom rise in rebellion till they are so degraded by a bad government as to be almost incapable of a good one.
"Hate them, perhaps," you may say, "we should not; but despise them we must, if enslaved, like the people of ROME, in mind as well as body; if their religion be a gross and barbarous superstition."-I respect knowledge; but I do not despise ignorance. They think only as their fathers thought, worship as they worshipped. They do no more; and, if ours had not burst their bondage, braving imprisonment and death, might not we at this very moment have been exhibiting, in our streets and our churches, the same processions, ceremonials, and mortifications?
Nor should we require from those who are in an earlier stage of society what belongs to a later. They are only where we once were; and why hold them in derision? It is their business to cultivate the inferior arts before they think of the more refined; and in many of the last what are we as a nation, when compared to others that have passed away? Unfortunately it is too much the practice of governments to nurse and keep alive in the governed their national prejudices. It withdraws their attention from what is passing at home, and makes them better tools in the hands of ambition. Hence, next-door neighbors are held up to us from our childhood as natural enemies; and we are urged on like curs to worry each other."