Eclectic School Readings: Stories from Life eBook

Orison Swett Marden
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 151 pages of information about Eclectic School Readings.

And where is that band, who so vauntingly swore
  That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more? 
  Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution. 
No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
From the terror of death and the gloom of the grave,
  And the star spangled banner in triumph shall wave
  O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
  Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation,
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven rescued land
  Praise the power that has made and preserved us a nation. 
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just,
And this be our motto, “In God is our trust”
  And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
  O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

II.  AMERICA

    “And there’s a nice youngster of excellent pith;
    Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith! 
    But he shouted a song for the brave and the free—­
    Just read on his medal, ‘My Country of Thee.’”

In these lines of his famous Reunion Poem, “The Boys,” Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes commemorated his old friend and college-mate, Dr. Samuel Francis Smith, author of “America.”

Samuel Francis Smith was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 21, 1808.  He attended the Latin School in his native city, and it is said that when only twelve years old he could “talk Latin.”  He entered Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1825, and graduated in the famous class of 1829, of which Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Freeman Clarke, William E. Channing, and other celebrated Americans were members.

Dr. Smith, like so many other noted men, “worked his way through college.”  He did this principally by coaching other students, and by making translations from the German “Conversations-Lexicon” for the “American Cyclopedia.”

After graduating from Harvard, he immediately entered Andover Theological Seminary.  Three years later, in 1832, he wrote, among others, his most famous hymn, “America,” of which the “National Cyclopedia of American Biography” says, “It has found its way wherever an American heart beats or the English language is spoken, and has probably proved useful in stirring the patriotic spirit of the American people.”

Dr. Smith himself often said that he had heard “America” sung “halfway round the world, under the earth in the caverns of Manitou, Colorado, and almost above the earth near the top of Pike’s Peak.”

The hymn, as every child knows, is sung to the air of the national anthem of England,—­“God Save the King.”  The author came upon it in a book of German music, and by it was inspired to write the words of “America,” a work which he accomplished in half an hour.  Many years after, referring to its impromptu composition, he wrote:  “If I had anticipated the future of it, doubtless I should have taken more pains with it.  Such as it is, I am glad to have contributed this mite to the cause of American freedom.”

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Eclectic School Readings: Stories from Life from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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