MacMillan's Reading Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 344 pages of information about MacMillan's Reading Books.

Let me ask you to follow me in spirit to the very home and birth-place of freedom, to the land where we need not myth or fable to add aught to the fresh and gladdening feeling with which we for the first time tread the soil and drink the air of the immemorial democracy of Uri.  It is one of the opening days of May:  it is the morning of Sunday; for men then deem that the better the day the better the deed; they deem that the Creator cannot be more truly honoured than in using, in His fear and in His presence, the highest of the gifts which He has bestowed on man.  But deem not that, because the day of Christian worship is chosen for the great yearly assembly of a Christian commonwealth, the more direct sacred duties of the day are forgotten.  Before we, in our luxurious island, have lifted ourselves from our beds, the men of the mountains, Catholic and Protestant alike, have already paid the morning’s worship in God’s temple.  They have heard the mass of the priest, or they have listened to the sermon of the pastor, before some of us have awakened to the fact that the morn of the holy day has come.  And when I saw men thronging the crowded church, or kneeling, for want of space within, on the bare ground beside the open door, and when I saw them marching thence to do the highest duties of men and citizens, I could hardly forbear thinking of the saying of Holy Writ, that “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”  From the market-place of Altdorf, the little capital of the Canton, the procession makes its way to the place of meeting at Bozlingen.  First marches the little army of the Canton, an army whose weapons can never be used save to drive back an invader from their land.  Over their heads floats the banner, the bull’s head of Uri, the ensign which led men to victory on the fields of Sempach and Morgarten.  And before them all, on the shoulders of men clad in a garb of ages past, are borne the famous horns, the spoils of the wild bull of ancient days, the very horns whose blast struck such dread into the fearless heart of Charles of Burgundy.  Then, with their lictors before them, come the magistrates of the commonwealth on horseback, the chief magistrate, the Landammann, with his sword by his side.  The people follow the chiefs whom they have chosen to the place of meeting, a circle in a green meadow with a pine forest rising above their heads and a mighty spur of the mountain range facing them on the other side of the valley.  The multitude of the freemen take their seats around the chief ruler of the commonwealth, whose term of office comes that day to an end.  The Assembly opens; a short space is first given to prayer, silent prayer offered up by each man in the temple of God’s own rearing.  Then comes the business of the day.  If changes in the law are demanded, they are then laid before the vote of the Assembly, in which each citizen of full age has an equal vote and an equal right of speech.  The yearly magistrates have now discharged all their duties;

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MacMillan's Reading Books from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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