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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 1838
AUTHOR: James Russell Lowell (1819–91)
QUOTATION: Careless seems the great Avenger; history’s pages but record
One death-grapple in the darkness ’twixt old systems and the Word;
Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,—
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.

New occasions teach new duties; Time makes ancient good uncouth;
They must upward still, and onward, who would keep abreast of Truth;
Lo, before us gleam her camp-fires! we ourselves must Pilgrims be,
Launch our Mayflower, and steer boldly through the desperate winter sea,
Nor attempt the Future’s portal with the Past’s blood-rusted key.
ATTRIBUTION: JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL,The Present Crisis,” stanzas 8 and 18, The Poetical Works of James Russell Lowell, p. 68 (1978). Originally published in 1844.