« PreviousContinue »
In behalf of all humanity, whose ideal is divine, whose first memory is Thine image lost, and whose last hope is Thine image restored, and especially of our own nation, whose history has been so favored, whose position is so peerless, whose mission is $a sublime, and whose future is so attractive, we thank Thee for the unspeakable patience of Thy compassion and the exceeding greatness of Thy loving-kindness. In eontemplation of Eden, Calvary, and Heaven, of Christ in the Garden, on the Cross, and on the Throne, nay, more, of Christ as coming again in all-subduing power and glory, we gratefully prolong our homage. By this Altar of Sacrifice, on this Field of Deliverance, on this Mount of Salvation, within the fiery and bloody line of these “munitions of rocks," looking back to the dark days of fear and trembling, and to the rapture of relief that came after, we multiply our thanksgivings, and confess our obligations to renew and perfect our personal and social consecration to Thy service and glory
Oh, had it not been for God! For lo ! our enemies, they came unresisted, multitudinous, mighty, flushed with victory, and sure of success. They exulted on our mountains, they revelled in our valleys; they feasted, they rested; they slept, they awaked ; they grew stronger, prouder, bolder, every day; they spread abroad, they concentrated here; they looked beyond this horizon to the stores of wealth, to the haunts of pleasure, and to the seats of power in our capital and chief cities. They prepared to cast the chain of Slavery around the form of Freedom, binding life and death together forever. Their premature triumph was the mockery of God and man. One more victory, and all was theirs ! But behind these hills was heard the feebler march of a smaller, but still pursuing host.
Onward they hurried, day and night, for God and their country. Foot-sore, wayworn, hungry, thirsty, faint,
but not in heart, they came to dare all, to bear all, and to do all that is possible to heroes. And Thou didst sustain them! At first they met the blast on the plain, and bent before it like the trees in a storm. But then, led by Thy hand to these hills, they took their stand upon the rocks and remained as firm and immovable as they. In vain were they
assaulted. All art, all violence, all desperation, failed to dislodge them. "Baffled, bruised, broken, their enemies recoiled, retired, and disappeared. Glory to God for this rescue! But oh, the slain! In the freshness and fulness of their young and manly life, with such sweet memories of father and mother, brother and sister, wife and children, maiden and friends, they died for us. From the coasts beneath the Eastern star, from the shores of Northern lakes and rivers, from the flowers of Western prairies, and from the homes of the Midway and the Border, they came here to die for us and for mankind. Alas, how little we can do for them ! We come with the humility of prayer, with the pathetic eloquence of venerable wisdom, with the tender beauty of poetry, with the plaintive harmony of music, with the honest tribute of our Chief Magistrate, and with all this honorable attendance : but our best hope is in thy blessing, O Lord, our God!
Father, bless us! Bless the bereaved, whether present or absent; bless our sick and wounded soldiers and sailors; bless all our rulers and people ; bless our army and navy ; bless the efforts for the suppression of the rebellion ; and bless all the associations of this day and place and scene forever. As the trees are not dead, though their foliage is gone, so our heroes are not dead, though their forms have fallen. In their proper personality they are all with Thee. And the spirit of their example is here. It fills the air ; it fills our hearts. And, long as time shall last, it will hover in these skies and rest on this landscape ; and the pilgrims of our own land, and from all lands, will thrill with its inspiration, and increase and confirm their devotion to liberty, religion, and God.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
STANDING beneath this serene sky, overlooking these broad fields now reposing from the labors of the waning year, the mighty Alleghanies dimly towering before us, the graves of our brethren beneath our feet, it is with hesitation that I raise my poor voice to break the eloquent silence of God and Nature. But the duty to which you have called me must be performed ;- grant me,
pray you, your indulgence and your sympathy.
It was appointed by law in Athens, that the obsequies of the citizens who fell in battle should be performed at the public expense, and in the most honorable manner. Their bones were carefully gathered up from the funeral pyre, where their bodies were consumed, and brought home to the city. There, for three days before the interment, they lay in state, beneath tents of honor, to receive the votive offerings of friends and relatives, — flowers, weapons, precious ornaments, painted vases, (wonders of art, which after two thousand years adorn the museums of modern Europe,) -- the last tributes of surviving affection. Ten coffins of funereal cypress received the honorable deposit, one for each of the tribes of the city, and an eleventh in
memory of the unrecognized, but not therefore unhonored, dead, and of those whose remains could not be recovered. On the fourth day the mournful procession was formed : mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, led the way, and to them it was permitted by the simplicity of ancient manners to utter aloud their lamentations for the beloved and the lost; the male relatives and friends of the deceased followed ; citizens and strangers closed the train. Thus marshalled, they moved to the place of interment in that famous Ceramicus, the most beautiful suburb of Athens, which had been adorned by Cimon, the son of Miltiades, with walks and fountains and columns, — whose groves were filled with altars, shrines, and temples, — whose gardens were kept forever green by the streams from the neighboring hills, and shaded with the trees sacred to Minerva and coeval with the foundation of the city, - whose circuit enclosed
“ the olive grove of Academe,
whose pathways gleamed with the monuments of the illustrious dead, the work of the most consummate masters that ever gave life to marble. There, beneath the overarching plane-trees, upon a lofty stage erected for the
for the purpose, it was ordained that a funeral oration should be pronounced by some citizen of Athens, in the presence of the assembled multitude.
Such were the tokens of respect required to be paid at Athens to the memory of those who had fallen in the cause of their country.
For those alone who fell at Marathon a peculiar honor was reserved. As the battle fought upon that immortal field was distinguished from all others in Grecian history for its influence over the fortunes of Hellas, — as it depended upon the event of that day whether Greece should live, a glory and a light to all coming time, or should expire, like the meteor of a moment; so the honors awarded to its martyrheroes were such as were bestowed by Athens on no other occasion. They alone of all her sons were entombed upon the spot which they had forever rendered famous. Their names were inscribed upon ten pillars erected upon the monumental tumulus which covered their ashes, (where, after six hundred years, they were read by the traveller Pausanias,) and although the columns, beneath the hand of time and barbaric violence, have long since disappeared, the venerable mound still marks the spot where they fought and fell,
" That battle-field where Persia's victim-horde
First bowed beneath the brunt of Hellas' sword.”
And shall I, fellow-citizens, who, after an interval of twenty-three centuries, a youthful pilgrim from the world unknown to ancient Greece, have wandered over that illustrious plain, ready to put off the shoes from off my feet, as one that stands on holy ground, — who have gazed with respectful emo