Page:The Bohemians (Czechs) In The Present Crisis.djvu/20

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Their action was spontaneous, it was the instinctive expression of the Bohemian national character, it was not instigated by any agitation, and it is the best proof possible of the fact that the Czech people can think for themselves; that they have reached maturity; that once again they are ripe for independence.

Unquestionably, these volunteers, with the troops who preferred to go over to the enemy, rather than to fight for a cause abhorrent to them, were heroes in the real sense of the term, and their memories will be preserved forever green and untarnished.

Theirs is the really sublime heroism. For self-effacement, for a similar sacrifice we should in vain seek in history for anything surpassing the heights these men reached; going to perhaps unmarked and unknown graves, all because they felt it their duty to stand along the side of those who fought for a higher civilization, and whose victory should and undoubtedly will result in the erection of a new and independent Bohemian state.

In speaking of these Bohemian volunteers, we may say with Walt Whitman:

"Those corpses of young men,
Those martyrs that hang from the gibbets, — those hearts pierc'd by the gray lead,
Cold and motionless as they seem, live elsewhere with unslaughter'd vitality.

They live in other young men, O kings!
They live in brothers again ready to defy you!
They were purified by death—they were taught and exalted.

Not a grave of the murder'd for freedom, but grows seed for freedom, in its turn to bear seed,
Which the winds carry afar and re-sow, and the rains and the snows nourish.

Not a disembodied spirit can the weapons of tyrants let loose,
But it stalks invisibly over the earth, whispering, counselling, cautioning.
Liberty! let others despair of you! I never despair of you"