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leader whom Heaven is preparing to conduct America through her approaching trial.
As we see him voluntarily relinquishing the enjoyments, and luxuries, and ease, of the opulent refinement in which he was born and bred, and choosing the perils and hardships of the wilderness; as we follow him, fording swollen streams, climbing rugged mountains, breasting the forest storms, wading through snow-drifts, sleeping in the open air, living upon the coarse food of hunters and of Indians, we trace, with devout admiration, the divinely-appointed education he was receiving to enable him to meet and endure the fatigues, exposures, and privations, of the war of independence. Soon he is called to a more public sphere of action, on the same theatre; and we again follow him in his romantic adventures, as he traversed the far-off western wilderness, a special messenger to the French commander on the Ohio, and afterwards when he led forth the troops of Virginia in the same direction, or accompanied the ill-starred Braddock to the blood-stained banks of the Monongahela. Every where we see the hand of God conducting him into danger, that he might extract from it the wisdom of an experience not otherwise to be attained, and develop those heroic qualities by which alone danger and difficulty can be surmounted, — but all the while covering him, as with a shield.
When we think of him, at midnight and in midwinter, thrown from a frail raft into the deep and angry waters of a wide and rushing western river, thus separated from his only companion through the wilderness, with no human aid for miles and leagues around him, buffeting its rapid current, and struggling through driving cakes of ice; when we behold the stealthy savage, whose aim as against all other marks is unerring, pointing his rifle deliberately at him, and firing over and over again; when we see him riding through showers of bullets on Braddock's fatal field, and reflect that never, during his whole life, was he wounded or even touched by a hostile force, - do we not feel that he was guarded by an Unseen Hand? Yes, that sacred person was guarded by an Unseen Hand, warding off every danger. No peril by flood or by field was permitted to extinguish a life consecrated to the hopes of humanity and to the purposes of Heaven. His military preparation was completed by being intrusted with the defence of the frontiers of Virginia and the neighboring colonies — a command which, in the difficulties and embarrassments with which it was crowded, in its general character, and more especially in the wide-spread and incessant oversight, and forethought, and prudence, and patience it required, most remarkably resembled, was indeed a precise epitome of, the service he afterwards discharged as commander-in-chief of the forces of United America.
The warrior is now ready, but the statesman remains to be prepared. He accordingly resigned his commission, and retired to private and civil life. Although not then quite twenty-seven years of age, he had won a splendor of reputation, and a completeness of experience, as a military man, such as had never before been acquired in America. For more than sixteen years he rested from his warfare, amid the shades of Mount Vernon, ripening his mind by reading and reflection, increasing his knowledge of practical affairs, entering into the whole experience of a citizen, at home on his farm, and as a delegate to the colonial Assembly; and when, at last, the war broke out, and the unanimous voice of the Continental Congress invested him, as the exigency required, with almost unbounded authority, as their commander-in-chief, he blended, although still in the prime of his life, — in the mature bloom of manhood, — the attributes of a sage with those of a hero.
A more perfectly fitted and furnished character has never appeared on the theatre of human action, than when, reining up his war-horse beneath the majestic and venerable elm, still standing at the entrance of the old Watertown road upon Cambridge Common, GEORGE WASHINGTON unsheathed his sword, and assumed the command of the gathering ar
mies of American liberty. Those who had despaired, when they beheld their chief, despaired no more. The very aspect of his person and countenance concurred with the history of his life in impressing their hearts with a deep conviction that God was with him, in the exercise of a peculiar guardianship, and that in his hands their cause
That wonderful book, while it obtains admiration from the most fastidious critics, is loved by those who are too simple to admire it. Dr. Johnson, all whose studies were desultory, and who hated, as he said, to read books through, made an exception in favor of the “ Pilgrim's Progress." That work, he said, was one of the two or three works which he wished longer. It was by no common merit that the illiterate sectary extracted praise like this from the most pedantic of critics, and the most bigoted of tories. In the wildest parts of Scotland the “Pilgrim's Progress” is the delight of the peasantry. In every nursery the “Pilgrim's Progress" is a greater favorite than “ Jack the Giant-Killer." Every reader knows the strait and narrow path, as well as he knows a road in which he has gone backward and forward a hundred times.
This is the highest miracle of genius -- that things which are not should be as though they were, that the imaginations of one mind should become the personal recollections of another. And this miracle the tinker has wrought. There is no ascent, no declivity, no resting-place, no turnstile, with which we are not perfectly acquainted. The wicket gate, and the desolate swamp which separates it from the City of Destruction; the long line of road, as straight as a rule can make it; the interpreter's house, and all its fair shows, the prisoner in the iron cage; the palace, at the doors of which armed men kept guard, and on the battlements of which walked persons clothed all in gold; the cross and the sepulchre; the steep hill and the pleasant arbor; the stately front of the House Beautiful by the wayside; the low green Valley of Humiliation, rich with grass and covered with flocks, all are as well known to us as the sights of our own street. Then we come to the narrow place where Apollyon strode right across the whole breadth of the way, to stop the journey of Christian, and where afterwards the pillar was set up to testify how bravely the pilgrim had fought the good fight.
As we advance, the valley becomes deeper and deeper. The shade of the precipices on both sides falls blacker and blacker. The clouds gather overhead. Doleful voices, the clanking of chains, and the rushing of many feet to and fro, are heard through the darkness. The way, hardly discernible in gloom, runs close by the mouth of the burning pit, which sends forth its flames, its noisome smoke, and its hideous shapes, to terrify the adventurer. Thence he goes on, amidst the snares and pitfalls, with the mangled bodies of those who have perished lying in the ditch by his side. At the end of the long, dark valley, he passes the dens in which the old giants dwelt, amidst the bones and ashes of those whom they had slain.
Then the road passes straight on through a waste moor, till at length the towers of a distant city appear before the traveller; and soon he is in the midst of the innumerable multitudes of Vanity Fair. There are the jugglers and the apes, the shops and the puppet-shows. There are Italian Row, and French Row, and Spanish Row, and Britain Row, with their crowds of buyers, sellers, and loungers, jabbering all the languages of the earth.
Thence we go on by the little hill of the silver mine, and through the meadow of lilies, along the bank of that pleas
ant river which is bordered on both sides by fruit-trees. On the left side branches off the path leading to that horrible castle, the court-yard of which is paved with the skulls of pilgrims; and right onward are the sheepfolds and orchards of the Delectable Mountains.
From the Delectable Mountains, the way lies through the fogs and briers of the Enchanted Ground, with here and there a bed of soft cushions spread under a green arbor. And beyond is the land of Beulah, where the flowers, the grapes, and the songs of birds, never cease, and where the sun shines night and day. Thence are plainly seen the golden pavements and streets of pearl, on the other side of that black and cold river over which there is no bridge.
All the stages of the journey, all the forms which cross or overtake the pilgrims — giants, and hobgoblins, ill-favored ones, and shining ones; the tall, comely, swarthy Madam Bubble, with her great purse by her side, and her fingers playing with the money; the black man in the bright vesture, Mr. Worldly-Wiseman, and my Lord Hategood ; Mr. Talkative, and Mrs. Timorous, — are all actually existing beings to us. We follow the travellers through their allegorical progress with interest not inferior to that with which we follow Elizabeth from Siberia to Moscow, or Jeanio Deans from Edinburgh to London.
AND thou hast walked about, - how strange a story!.
In Thebes's streets, three thousand years ago;