« PreviousContinue »
vanity or cruelty of the great hero, who has been so often historied? Such was the vanity of conquest then, such the animal pursuit of war, such the beastly triumph of victory. Will the world ever give hope of advancement, while such passions and their rewards mark distinction among the race? Sesostris conquered India, Napier the Scinde, and Russia the Hungarians. It is all the same; whether India, China, or Mexico;—a bas-relief, a painting, a statue—the conqueror sitting in "glory" the victim handcuffed at his feet, a priest of Thoth, or Isis, writing his victories on the tree, a Congress passing a "vote of thanks," an assembly "decreeing that he has deserved well of his country," a Parliament feeing a poet laureate, or a Queen giving a baronetcy, earldom, or the garter; it is all the same;—this is that "glory," which those who think of a Howard, in his labors of love, view as only the blood of history's shambles.
How beautiful to stand at sunrise before the statue of Memnon! Your fancies are so rich, and you can find music in your soul there at such an hour, if none come from Memnon. Here you see,—leaping from your horse's saddle upon the pedestal,—the testimonies of the lady friends of Hadrian, and many travellers, in Greek and Latin, who heard the voice. Perhaps you modestly cut a letter of your own name on the calf of the leg; perhaps, like Sir Gardner Wilkinson, you have the courage to climb to the breast, to see the rock where the priest concealed himself who kept up the sound, and the rock which sounds like struck brass. I contented myself with striking the leg, and fancying it had a ringing sound; but that is mere moonshine, for
"Hushed is that strain;"