Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

. . . some shared writings from Wine Brook Cottage . . .

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Dawn by Edward Everett

(Upon the opening of the Dudley Observatory, at Albany, August 28, 1856, Everett gave an address on the Uses of Astronomy, containing this fine description of dawn. Notice that he is describing something so beautiful as to be worth going miles to see, yet so common that we can see it almost any morning.)

I had occasion, a few weeks since, to take the early train from Providence to Boston; and for this purpose rose at two o'clock in the morning. Everything around was wrapt in darkness and hushed in silence, broken only by what seemed at that hour the unearthly clank and rush of the train. It was a mild, serene, midsummer's night, - the sky was without a cloud, - the winds were whist. The moon, then in the last quarter, had just risen, and the stars shone with a spectral luster but little affected by her presence. Jupiter, two hours high, was the herald of the day; the Pleiades, just above the horizon, shed their sweet influence in the east; Lyra sparkled near the zenith; Andromeda veiled her newly discovered glories from the naked eye in the south; the steady pointers, far beneath the pole, looked meekly up from the depths of the north to their sovereign.

Such was the glorious spectacle as I entered the train. As we proceeded, the timid approach of twilight became more perceptible; the intense blue of the sky began to soften; the smaller stars, like little children, went first to rest; the sister-beams of the Pleiades soon melted together; but the bright constellations of the west and north remained unchanged. Steadily the wondrous transfiguration went on. Hands of angels, hidden from mortal eyes, shifted the scenery of the heavens; the glories of night dissolved into the glories of the dawn. The blue sky now turned more softly gray; the great watch-stars shut up their holy eyes; the east began to kindle. Faint streaks of purple soon blushed along the sky; the whole celestial concave was filled with the inflowing tides of the morning light, which came pouring down from above in one great ocean of radiance; till at length, as we reached the Blue Hills, a flash of purple fire blazed out from above the horizon and turned the dewy teardrops of flower and leaf into rubies and diamonds. In a few seconds the everlasting gates of the morning were thrown wide open, and the lord of the day, arrayed in glories too severe for the gaze of man, began his state.

I do not wonder at the superstition of the ancient Magians, who in the morning of the world went up to the hilltops of Central Asia and ignorant of the true God, adored the most glorious work of his hand. But I am filled with amazement when I am told that in this enlightened age and in the heart of the Christian world there are persons who can witness this daily manifestation of the power and wisdom of the Creator and yet say in their hearts, "There is no God."


Edward Everett 1794 - 1865

When Daniel Webster was studying law in Boston, he once helped his brother Ezekiel for a short time in the teaching of a private school. Among the pupils was a boy named Edward Everett, the son of a Dorchester clergyman; this boy became in later years an orator scarcely less distinguished than Webster himself, and was one of Webster's warmest personal friends.

Young Everett's father had recently died and the boy was working hard to obtain an education. He fitted for college at Phillips Exeter Academy, entered Harvard at thirteen, the youngest member of his class, and graduated four years later with the highest honors. Thinking to follow his father's profession, he then studied theology and in 1813 became pastor of the Brattle Street Church, where his eloquence and charm of manner attracted large congregations. After a two years' pastorate he was offered the professorship of Greek literature at Harvard and was allowed four years of foreign travel and study to prepare himself. This position he accepted, and while at Harvard lived for a time in the old Craigie house, later framed as the home of Longfellow. During his professorship he was also editor of the North American Review.

Everett was already known as a brilliant orator, and in 1824 was elected to Congress, where he served ten years. Then he was made governor of Massachusetts and three times re-elected, losing his fourth re-election by a single vote. President William H. Harrison next appointed him ambassador to England, and upon the conclusion of his term of office he returned to this country and was made president of Harvard University.

At the death of Webster in 1852 Everett succeeded him as Secretary of State, and upon retiring from that position entered the Senate. He was one of the Republican electors in 1864, and his last political act was to cast his electoral vote for Lincoln's re-election.

Everett did not have the natural gifts of Webster or Clay or Calhoun, but what he lacked in force he made up in scholarship, judgment, and good taste. He was the highest type of a cultured gentleman of the old school; and his fine face, his noble figure, his full, clear voice, were well fitted to the graceful style of oratory in which he excelled.


At Saturday, April 15, 2006 9:02:00 a.m., Blogger cyndy said...

Everett give such a beautiful description of the dawn...thank you for putting it up there, I probably never would have come across it otherwise...and it is quite fitting for Easter...


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