« PreviousContinue »
The Union! The Union! In God we repose !
The Power of Music and Verse as Incitements to
(EXTRACT FROM MR. MURDOCI'S LECTURES.)
DURING my association with the Army of the Cumberland, in Kentucky, and while I was suffering from a severe attack of neuralgia, I was compelled to exchange the saddle for an ambulance, in which I had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of Colonel Bumford, of the regular army, who had been severely wounded at the battle of Chaplin Hills, Kentucky. I, being the least afflicted, waited on him, and endeavored to while away the time for him by reading and reciting.
I remember one evening, several officers being present in our quarters, I was asked to recite Mr. Read's war lyric of “Our Defenders.” I complied; and as I turned in conclusion to the cot where the colonel lay, with his pale face and bright eyes turned towards me, he said, “Oh, Mr. Murdoch, if our brave fellows could only hear words like those on the eve of battle, how it would thrill their hearts and nerve their arms !'
He then related an incident of a charge made upon his regiment, in Mexico, in which the enemy came down upon
them with a kind of fierce chant, in which the words “God, Santa Anna, and Liberty !” were the burden. The effect was exciting and grand in the extreme.
“Even our own soldiers,” said he, “caught the enthusiasm, and fought with more determined valor, routing the enemy and driving him before them.”
Here, then, was a practical realization of the idea I have endeavored to develop and enforce in my patriotic readings and recitations. Let our poets continue to wreathe around the national banner the ideal beauty of heroism and self-sacrifice ; let them paint, in words of fire, those glorious sentiments which were promulgated and fought for in 1776, contended for anew in 1812, and which. aroused the patriotic enthusiasm of the nation, sweeping through the length and breadth of the loyal States, in 1861. Let music add its magic force to swell the mighty theme. Let our soldiers learn to chant and sing such glorious strains : then would their feet forget their weariness, their hearts. swell with renewed fervor, and their arms be nerved with tenfold vigor to strike in defence of government, laws, religious toleration, and universal freedom.
“Our Defenders" was written by Mr. Read, in the city of Rome, while there engaged in painting historical pictures for some of our art-loving citizens.
It was first recited by him at a dinner given by our minister, Mr. Cass, in Rome, on the Fourth of July following the attack on Sumter.
Mr. Read returned to this country in the following June; since which he has served as aid and secretary to one of our distinguished major-generals, and may yet be able to take part in a battle and afterwards describe it, as did Euripides, who, after leading the Grecian forces at Salamis, wrote the tragedy of "The Persians," in which he immortalized the heroic valor of the soldiers of that great republic.
BY T. BUCHANAN READ.
Our flag on the land and our flag on the ocean,
An angel of peace wheresoever it goes :
True to its native sky
Still shall our eagle fly,
Though bearing the olive-branch,
Still in his talons staunch
Hark to the sound! There's a foe on our border,-
· A foe striding on to the gulf of his doom ; Freemen are rising and marching in order, Leaving the plough and the anvil and loom.
Rust dims the harvest-sheen
Of scythe and of sickle keen;
Veteran and youth are out,
Swelling the battle-shout,
Our brave mountain eagles swoop from their eyrie,
Our lithe panthers leap from forest and plain;
Down from their Northern shores,
They march, and their tread wakes the earth with its jar;
Under the Stripes and Stars,
Each, with the soul of Mars,
Spite of the sword or assassin's stiletto,
While throbs a heart in the breast of the brave,
While the Gulf billow breaks,
Echoing the Northern lakes,
Yield we no inch of land
While there's a patriot hand
Poetry and Painting as Kindred Arts.
I WILL here take occasion, in connection with the subject of Mr. Read's patriotic services, which have been many and important during the rebellion, to thank him, as well as his brother poets, for the generous aid so freely tendered me, and by which I have been enabled to keep alive the public interest in my readings and lectures.
Especially am I indebted to Mr. Read for the use of his noble and patriotic poem, “The Wagoner of the Alleghanies;" the manuscript of which he placed at my disposal in 1862, with the exclusive privilege of employing it in my “patriotic readings" for a period of not less than one year,-in the mean time foregoing the right to publish it, although offers of considerable pecuniary importance had been made to him to induce him to give his poem to the public at an earlier period.
It was a just and grateful tribute to the sacred Union cemented by the blood of the fathers of 1776, to dedicate a work commemorative of their virtues and sacrifices to their heroic sons, who were fighting to defend the glorious legacy bequeathed to them by their sires.
The following is a beautiful tribute to Mr. Read's professional abilities. The language breathes the spirit of one fully alive to the impressions of poetry, as well as to the generous sympathy of friendship and kindred associations; and, judging from our knowledge of Mr. Murdoch's early professional experience, we should say that his friend's career is as dear to him as his own. This will account for the enthusiasm and warmth of eulogy expressed in the article.-EDITOR'S NOTE.
(EXTRACT FROM MR. MURDOCH'S LECTURES.)
A poet and a painter! The qualifications which accomplish distinction in either profession are possessed by few persons. Therefore, to attain to excellence in both is a rare achievement. Poetry and painting, these sister arts, are wedded to ideal passion and sublimity. They are the handmaids to the Loves and the Graces, and they are the recording spirits of history and fame.
The painter seizes upon all that is lovely, simple, and grand in nature, of form and color, transferring it to his canvas to charm the eye and delight the mind. He reproduces the rainbow hues, the mellowing tints, and sombre shades, which compose the grandeur and simplicity of earth and air, of sunshine and storm; and humanity owes to his pencil the pictured lineaments of heroes and martyrs designated by the finger of Fame for the admiration and emulation of man's latest posterity.
The poet, filled with that divine essence which pervades