There Is a Green Hill Far Away
Cecil Frances Alexander, 1848
What power is there in man to move heaven and earth, when he hardly has the power to know himself or the virtue to act upon that knowledge, even in the limited scope that human action enjoys? I do believe in the natural virtues.
When the old Roman general Regulus was captured by the Carthaginians, they sent him to Rome with a truce to propose, but only on condition that, if the Romans should reject it, he would return to Carthage. They knew that if Regulus gave his word, it was his bond. So he went to Rome, he set the truce before the senate, and then he persuaded them to reject it. They did, and he kept his word, and so did his captors at Carthage.
They shut him up in a case bristling with knives, so that he would slowly bleed to death. It is hard for me to call the virtue of that man no more than a splendid vice, or to suggest that he was motivated by pride, much less ambition. I don’t know. When the Persians at Thermopylae taunted the vastly outnumbered Spartans, boasting …
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial