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(So tight he kept his lips compressed,
Scarce any blood came through)
Was all but shot in two.
" “Well,” cried he, “Emperor, by God's grace
We've got you Ratisbon!
And you'll be there anon
To see your flag-bird flap his vans
Where I, to heart's desire, Perched him!” The chief's eye flashed; his plans
Soared up again like fire.
The chief's eye flashed; but presently
Softened itself, as sheathes
“You're wounded” “Nay,” the soldier's pride
Touched to the quick, he said: “I'm killed, Sire!" And his chief beside,
Smiling, the boy fell dead.
Ratisbon (răt'-is-bằn) : town in Bavaria, Germany.
Questions for Study 1. Why did the rider come "in smiling joy''! How can you account for his enthusiasm? What caused the smile he fell dead?
THE NATIONAL FLAG
HENRY WARD BEECHER
From the earliest periods nations seem to have gone forth to war under some banner. Sometimes it has been merely the pennon of a leader, and was only a rallying signal. So, doubtless, began the habit of carrying banners, to direct men in the confusion of conflict, that the leader might gather his followers around him when he himself was liable to be lost out of their sight.
Later in the history of nations the banner acquired other uses and peculiar significance from the parties, the orders, the houses, or governments that adopted it. At length, as consolidated governments drank up into themselves all these lesser independent authorities, banners became significant chiefly of national authority. And thus in our day every people has its peculiar flag. There is no civilized nation without its banner.
A thoughtful mind, when it sees a nation's flag, sees not the flag, but the nation itself. And whatever may be its symbols, its insignia, he reads chiefly in the flag the government, the principles, the truths, the history, that belong to the nation that sets it forth. When the French tri-color rolls out to the wind, we see France. When the new-found Italian flag is unfurled, we see resurrected Italy. ... When the united crosses of St. Andrew and St. George, on a fiery ground, set forth the banner of Old England, we see not the cloth merely; there rises up before the mind the idea of that great monarchy.
This nation has a banner, too; and until recently wherever it streamed abroad men saw daybreak bursting on their eyes. For until lately the American flag has been a symbol of Liberty, and men rejoiced in it. Not another flag on the globe had such an errand, or went forth upon the sea carrying everywhere, the world around, such hope to the captive, and such glorious tidings. The stars upon it were to the pining nations like the bright morning stars of God, and the stripes upon it were beams of morning light. As at early dawn the stars shine forth even while it grows light, and then as the sun advances that light breaks into banks and streaming lines of color, the glowing red and intense white striving together, and ribbing the horizon with bars effulgent, so, on the American flag, stars and beams of many-colored light shine out together. And wherever this flag comes, and men behold it, they see in its sacred emblazonry no ramping lion and no fierce eagle, no embattled castles or insignia of imperial authority; they see the symbols of light. It is the banner of Dawn. It means Liberty; and the galley-slave, the poor, oppressed conscript, the trodden-down creature of foreign despotism, sees in the American flag that very promise and prediction of God,—“The people which sat in darkness saw a great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.”
Is this a mere fancy? On the 4th of July, 1776, the Declaration of American Independence was confirmed and promulgated. Already for more than a year the Colonies had been at war with the mother country. But until this time there had been no American flag. The flag of the mother country covered us during all our colonial period; and each State that chose had a separate and significant State banner.
In 1777, within a few days of one year after the Declaration of Independence, and two years and more after the war began, upon the 14th of June, the Congress of the Colonies, or the Confederated States, assembled, and ordained this glorious National Flag which now we hold and defend, and advanced it full high before God and all men, as the Flag of Liberty. It was no holiday flag, gorgeously emblazoned for gayety or vanity. It was a solemn national signal. When that banner first unrolled to the sun, it was the symbol of all those holy truths and purposes which brought together the Colonial American Congress!
Consider the men who devised and set forth this banner. The Rutledges, the Pinckneys, the Jays, the Franklins, the Hamiltons, the Jeffersons, the Adamses,—these men were all either officially connected with it or consulted concerning it. They were men that had taken their lives in their hands, and consecrated all their worldly possessions—for what? For the doctrines, and for the personal fact, of liberty,—for the right of all men to liberty. They had just given forth to the world a Declaration of Facts and Faiths out of which sprung the Constitution, and on which they now planted this newdevised flag of our Union.
If, one, then, asks me the meaning of our flag, I say to him, It means just what Concord and Lexington meant, what Bunker Hill meant; it means the whole glorious Revolutionary War, which was, in short, the rising up of a valiant young people against an old tyranny, to establish the most momentous doctrine that the world had ever known, or has since known,—the right of men to their own selves and to their liberties.
In solemn conclave our fathers had issued to the world that glorious manifesto, the Declaration of Independence. A little later, that the fundamental principles of liberty might have the best organization, they gave to this land our imperishable Constitution. Our flag means, then, all that our fathers meant in the Revolutionary War; it