Dallhousie College Library
JOHN JAMES STEWART
BY JOHN ALLISON BELL
(FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION)
HALIFAX, N. S.
PRINTED BY JAMES BOWES & SONS, 125 HOLLUS STREET.
To my numerous friends and relatives, who may, perhaps, for old acquaintance sake, attach some value to them, these little pieces, the occasional recreations of a busy life, are respectfully dedicated by
Halifax, N. S. 10th Sept., 1890.[unnumbered page]
The Argument.—Local Scenes and Associations. The Fisherman. Chebucto Harbor. The Mic-Mac. Discovery of America. Wars of the French and English. Expulsion of the Acadians. Britannia.
CHEBUCTO! from thy fort-crowned Hill, once more, With loving eyes I greet each well-known scene, Sea-ward, far-off, the lone, surf-beaten shore, The time-scarred cliffs—the groves of fir-trees green; Simple thy charms, yet oft their power, I ween, In distant lands the cent’urous exile feels, When thoughts of home and friends crowd thick at’een; Soft through his heart the pensive fondles steals And each remembered spot with vivid force reveals.
Home of my youth! by strangers long defamed, Thy soil called sterile and they climate drear; Of thee, my country, naught am I ashamed, To me thou art and ever wilt be dear; The peasant born of thee no slavish fear Of tyrants frown o’er-awes, nor social brand Degrades, with laws unrighteous and severe; With gifts profuse hath Heaven endowed our land And plenty rarely fails the striving, thrifty hand. [unnumbered page]
How blest on yonder slopes at Spring’s return, The school-boy rambles thy free glades along; More apt than rules of syntax, he, to learn, The robins warbling note or linnet’s song; And how, in after years, shall memories throng The anxious days to wearying care fore-doomed; Recalling fresh, with recollection strong, The haunts where violets unheeded bloomed, Sequestered deep in dells by breathing pines perfumed.
Or hap’ly, midst thy vales in Summer time, Beside some wood-fringed lake or low-voiced stream, The loi’tring angler leaves his rod to rhyme Or sits upon the rocks, mid-day—to dream; The universe, perchance, his won’dring theme; Th’intelligence of man—his nicest skill, His works of products art—how poor they seem, Compared with His by whose Almighty will, This beauteous world was framed and moves harmonious still.
The o’drous woods that cap the breezy hills, The winsome flowers that bloom in vallies fair, The ceaseless music from unnumbered rills That murmur ever, soft as child-hood’s prayer,— The living tribes of use or beauty rare,— Say, what for these can Art or Luxury shew? What Nature gives, she gives to each a share, Her gifts to all with liberal bounty flow And heart-felt joys are theirs who seek her laws to know. [page 6]
Beneath yon crags, precipitous and bare, The white-walled cottages lie snug and warm, When wild commotion reigns o’er sea and air And shattered barks drive helpless in the storm; Quick to observe—courageous to perform— Manly of frame—deep-learned in boatman’s lore, The Fisherman pursues the tinny swarm; With sinewy arm he plies the bending oar, Hoists the trim sail and hopeful leaves the fading shore.
Ye watchful Fates that shape the ends of man, To the brave fisherman award good cheer! His chequered lot provoke him not to scan, His gains uncertain and his toils severe; Bright is his home and free the welcome there When Fortune smiles,—but should she, luckless, frown And baffled hopes forebode privation drear,— Not his heart to sink desponding down Or coldly turn from need still greater than his own.
O estuary fair!—the circling years, That change all else, shew naught of change in thee; A char-mèd life thy heaving bosom wears; Flow, as at first, thy restless tide-waves free; Thou claimest kinship with the Living Sea; With echoes of the Deep thy surges ring, As Time doth echo dim Eternity; To thee a solemn mystery doth cling, Hushing the lips with awe thy praise that feebly sing. [page 7]
Beautiful Haven! the great sea doth love Within thy coves his wand’ring waves to rest; The storm-tossed shallop hies like wearied dove To fold her wings upon thy tranquil breast; Hither the sea-mew, by the gale hard pres’t With clam’rous scream conducts her tireless brood, And burdened ships by vexing winds distres’t, When Hope allures to dare th’ Atlantic rude, Thy roadstead gained—depart, with heart and strength renewed.
Fain would I pierce th’ oblivious veil that hides The unrecorded past from mortal gaze; Would fain depict, of good or ill, the tides That cheered or marred the Red-man’s aimless days; Basked he indeed in Pleasure’s sun-bright rays? Was his the envied life by poet’s sung? Oh Truth! how oft aside in polished lays, Or gay, romantic, tomes hast thou been flung, While thousands, soul-entranced, o’er Fiction’s page have hung.
Has the swarth Indian suffered, then, no wrong? Deny it they who can with conscience clear; And if to Britain aught of shame belong, Let not the wrong be glossed by fraud or fear; Shall Justice grave, he silenced with a sneer? Behold you abject form in motley garb arrayed, His hair bedraggled and his eye-balls blear, Nor deem it just misfortune to upbraid, But think thou then what ruin, lust and greed have made. [page 8]
Ere foreign keel had touched the lonely strand, Or sail was spread th’ Acadian breeze to woo, The Mic-mac roamed, the lord of all the land, Or skimmed the waters in his light canoe, And all his wants were met—for wants were few; Beneath th’ embowering woods, a streamlet near, The wigwam stood; frail home! where warriors grew; Learned th’ unerring use of bow and spear, And all the dex’trous arts to Indian manhood dear.
Through the long years while empires waxed and waned, In climes beyond the intervening flood; While Babylon, Egypt, Greece, by turns attained To power imperial, won too oft by blood, How vast the realms that here undreamed of stood; Undreamed of, save by wild enthusiasts vain! Till he, the Great Italian, wise and good, With bold adventure crossed the dreaded main, And added new renown to Ferdinand and Spain.
Yet seek not I the causes to unfold, Why races differ—why and whence their hue; Why some are weak and some, resistless, bold, Have wrought such deeds as weaklings ne’er could do; How nations, erst renowned, shrank deep from view, While barb’rous hordes their nerveless legions smote; How vandals rude to might unbounded grew, And crossing sea gained rule o’er wilds remote;— Large space to themes like these—‘twere needless to devote. [page 9]
Nor be it mine to weigh, with well-poised scale, The rights by jealous-eyed contestants claimed; Too wearisome the oft-repeated tale, While Gaul and Britain at the mastery aimed, Though both for high emprise were justly famed; Nor would I gild with bright mendacious glare Dark acts of each that calmer times have blamed; O War! that dost such hideous offspring bear, What heart for Heaven-born Peace would e’er refuse a prayer.
But Peace, long-sought—Aeadia! came to thee, War’s clarion blew at length with feebler blast; Proud Gallia, shorn of half her strength at sea, Saw D’Anville’s fleet to dire destruction east, And Louisburg her rival’s prize at last; On Abraham heights, with final victory crowned, The dying Wolfe saw Gaul’s dominion past; Saw Britain’s standard float on conquered ground, And rest and safety bought to regions all around.
Yet must I pause one moment ere I close, One moment linger o’er the historic page; I would not, if I could, forget the woes That wrang the Norman, stripped of heritage; Adown the hoary years, from age to age, Shall pass the story—growing evermore— Nor will it pity or regret assuage, To know the troublous times such fruitage bore, And drove the fated exiles from their native shore. [page 10]
Across thy pleasant meads, fair Gaspereaux— The mothers and the children hand in hand— I see the long procession moving slow, While speeds from cot to cot the flaming brand, And household goods lie scattered on the strand; Yet would I not the painful strain prolong Or yield to Sentiment, stern Truth’s demand; Are reasons challenged? reasons thickly throng, And hard Necessity condones the seeming wrong.
But long disorder ceased: Then dwelt secure, Through all the land the hardy pioneer; Of rule benign and strong protection sure, No lurking for—no vengeful savage near, The settler throve and flourished year by year; Then rose Chebucto, by thy gleaming tide, The marts of busy trade, the homesteads dear; Long years in happiness may these abide, And o’er thy broad expanse the fleets of commerce ride.
Let Right, not Might, Britannia, be thy choice; To govern justly be thy constant aim; So shalt thou have the world’s approving voice, So shalt thou add new lustre to thy name, Thy off-shoots everywhere uphold thy fame; Lo! on yon mast the grand old emblem waves; I would that flag be never trailed in shame! Be thine, Old Land! the righteousness that saves, And though shalt keep the place that truest glory craves. [page 11]
THE Old Flag waves on tower and steep, Above th’ embrasured wall, In every land, or on the deep, Still prompt at duty’s call. Time-honored Flag! beneath thy folds We fain would long repose; The tie that loyal freemen holds, With years but stronger grows. We glory in Old England’s fame, The theme of poet’s lays, Her deeds of arms—her arts that claim A world’s unstinted praise: With all her faults we’ll love her yet, Great mistress of the main, Pray we her sun may never set, Its splendour never wane! But more to us than Mother-land, Than Britain’s power or fame, We count our own dear native strand, Our own Acadia’s name! We prize the homes our fathers loved, The soil that shrines their dust; The fruitful fields their hands improved We deem a sacred trust. [page 12] Though cheerless fogs invade our coast, Though long be Winter’s reign, What land a brighter sun can boast When Summer smiles again? How sweet in Spring the glades to tread When Mayflowers scent the breeze, What glorious skies doth Autumn spread Above the tinted trees! The blust’ring airs from Ocean blown A healthful clime ensure, The British laws that mould our own Our liberties secure. Than let us join—Long live the Queen! May Britain flourish still,— And may her banner long be seen, To wave above the Hill!
THE SETTLEMENT OF HALIFAX.
TUNE—“In the days when we went Gipsying, a long time ago.” In days of old, when George was King, On Britain’s honored throne, Our fathers came to seek the land, We fondly call our own; A hundred years ago, and more, Their ships came over sea, But we will keep a place for them Alive in memory. And every year the day we claim More dear to us shall grow, In the month of June, when our fathers came, A long time ago; In the month of June, when our fathers came, A long time ago. From Albion’s white-cliffed shores they came, And verdant Erin’s strand, From Scotia’s heathered hills, and some, From German father-land; A stalwart host of artisans, And vet’rans fresh from war, With sturdy limbs and hopeful hearts They sought their home afar. And every year, &c. [page 14] We boast not of the deeds they wrought, To justify car pride; We know that in the land they chose, They lived, and toiled, and died; They left us all a heritage Of institutions free, Time-honored laws and equal rights, The fruits of liberty. And every year, &c. And England’s Rose will bloom for us, By Erin’s Shamrock green, And Scotland weave her Thistle leaves, Their friendly stems between; But for herself, Acadia’s sons, A garland shall produce, Entwined of emblems all her own The Mayflower and the Spruce,— And every year, &c. June 1850
SONG OF THE HAYMAKERS
WRITTEN FOR THE COLD WATER ARMY.—1852.
Come rouse from leaden sleep boys, the light proclaims the day, On rocky peak and gleaming flood, the purple sunbeams play; ’Tis time to mow the hay boys, before the sun is high, While sparkling yet on earth’s green breast, the jewel dew-drops lie. The hay, the hay, sweet as the flowers of May; The happiest time of the summer’s prime, Is the time we make the hay. Before the sun gets up boys, before the breeze goes down, For fields and meadows blossoming, we’ll quit the dusty town; Afar from dust and din boys, while the dew is on the spray, And all the birds are carolling, we’ll make the fragrant hay. The hay, the hay, &c. We’ll make the hay till noon boys, and then together dine, Our table and our seat the turf, beneath the spreading pine; Beneath the spreading pine boys, while the linnet sings above, And cheerful Humor sits a guest, with Temperance and Love, The hay, the hay, &c. For rural joys we’ll stand boys, the joys unbought by care, The flowers that deck the mountain side, the water and the air; The types of bounteous Heav’n boys, as sinless and as true, As old as Eden’s paradise and still forever new, The hay, the hay, &c. Then rouse from leaden sleep boys, the light proclaims the day; On rocky peak and gleaming flood, the purple sunbeams play; Tis time to mow the hay boys, before the sun is high, While sparkling yet on earth’s green breast, the jewel dew-drops lie The hay, the hay, the new, the fragrant hay; The sweetest time of the summer’s prime, Is the time we make the hay. [page 16]
To the memory of a Brother, who died at the Island of Mauritius, on board the brig “Ann,” of Halifax, 5th April, 1845, at the early age of 22 years.
WHERE India’s ocean rolls its tide, Beneath the orient sky, A rock-bound islet lifts with pride Its rugged cliffs on high. Lone mountain-isle, scant thought I ween, The great world gives to thee; But Earth’s broad continents between Are not so dear to me. For thee where Hope would fondly seek, That boon no wealth can buy, With wasted form and hectic cheek, A brother came to die. And there where boats the torrid sun, In manhood’s budding prime, They gave to dust that wand’ring one, To wait the end of time. Sleep on, dear brother,—though thy bier By strangers’ hands was borne, Thy spirit saw the loved ones near That still survive to mourn. And though no friend may train the rose About thy tomb to creep, Nor sister come at day’s bright close To read thy name and weep; [page 17] Yet Nature, still, as ever, true, While distant kindred grieves, Shall bid the zephyrs gently strew Thy bed with od’rous leaves. The Agathis its milk-white flowers, For thee each year shall spread,— The Blue Liana fall in showers Of blossoms o’er thy head; The Plantain and the fragrant Lime Above the spot shall wave, And tow ‘ring high the Palm-tree climb To shade thy humble grave. And hap’ly there, at fervid noon, When wearied groups shall stray, Shall oft be said, “alas! how soon That youth was called away.” And should, perchance, with awe draw near, Some traveller like thee, He’ll think of home and drop a tear, For those beyond the sea.
ODE TO THE PUMP.
WRITTEN FOR THE COLD WATER ARMY.—1846.
While midnight rev’llers praise the vine, While lights and glasses gaily shine, While time flies by with catch and glee, And healths go round with three times three, While thunder forth from bloated throttle, The glories of the oblivious Bottle; Be mine the pride to mount the stump, To pay the debt we owe the Pump. Through hail and rain, through sleet and fog. Let times go dull, or briskly jog, By day, by night, throughout the year, Dispensing streams, salubrious, clear; For rich, for poor, for proud, for humble, For garments soiled by gutter tumble, For lordly halls, for lowly sheds, For toiling hands, for aching heads, For tea, for soup, for physic drear, For chocolate, coffee, ginger beer; To scrub the floor, to boil the fish, To mix the pudding, wash the dish; Why worthy Pump, ‘twould take a week, Of all your various calls to speak; And he indeed were bold detractor, Who hails you not a Benefactor. [page 19] Ah! honest Pump, would you but tell, What humorous pranks might you reveal! How oft at midnight, staggering home, Bewildered gents to you have come, Confounding you with lamp-post bright With hiccough grave to ask “a light.” Were you on worthy cits to “blow,” Their nightly peccadilloes shew, ‘Twould strip the plumes from honoured crests, And plant sharp thorns in loving breasts; But proudly scorning such mean part, ’Tis yours to cheer, not wound his heart, You kindly hide from searching light, The deeds you witness in the night; And what you see to night with sorrow, You’ll do your best to mend to-morrow. But time is short, and space is small, So let me urge you topers all, Before I leave the spouter’s stump, To quit the Bottle for the Pump; Forsake a fiend, a devil blue, And trust a friend, long tried and true, The Pump and Truth together dwell, For Truth lies hidden in a Well. [page 20]
While midnight rev’llers praise the vine, While lights and glasses gaily shine, While time flies by with catch and glee, And healths go round with three times three, While thunder forth from bloated throttle, The glories of the oblivious Bottle; Be mine the pride to mount the stump, To pay the debt we owe the Pump. Through hail and rain, through sleet and fog. Let times go dull, or briskly jog, By day, by night, throughout the year, Dispensing streams, salubrious, clear; For rich, for poor, for proud, for humble, For garments soiled by gutter tumble, For lordly halls, for lowly sheds, For toiling hands, for aching heads, For tea, for soup, for physic drear, For chocolate, coffee, ginger beer; To scrub the floor, to boil the fish, To mix the pudding, wash the dish; Why worthy Pump, ‘twould take a week, Of all your various calls to speak; And he indeed were bold detractor, Who hails you not a Benefactor. [page 19] Ah! honest Pump, would you but tell, What humorous pranks might you reveal! How oft at midnight, staggering home, Bewildered gents to you have come, Confounding you with lamp-post bright With hiccough grave to ask “a light.” Were you on worthy cits to “blow,” Their nightly peccadilloes shew, ‘Twould strip the plumes from honoured crests, And plant sharp thorns in loving breasts; But proudly scorning such mean part, ’Tis yours to cheer, not wound his heart, You kindly hide from searching light, The deeds you witness in the night; And what you see to night with sorrow, You’ll do your best to mend to-morrow. But time is short, and space is small, So let me urge you topers all, Before I leave the spouter’s stump, To quit the Bottle for the Pump; Forsake a fiend, a devil blue, And trust a friend, long tried and true, The Pump and Truth together dwell, For Truth lies hidden in a Well.
SMILES AND TEARS.
In answer to Miss M—R—’s Lines on the same subject. BUT smiles alas! though bright and sweet, May still belie the guile they cover; The smile that charmed—the friend may cheat, The smile that won—betray the lover. And still distrust Experience saith, Eve’s weeping yet most witching daughter; The lightning’s flash may scatter death, Through glistening drops of harmless water. But since ’tis fate, that man must yield To Woman’s smiles and tears for ever; Love’s sceptre still let Woman wield, Shall subject man rebel?—ah never! He knows the heart that Truth inspires, No feign-ed smiles or tears will borrow; The smile will beam when joy requires, And tears respond to melting sorrow. [page 22]
TO A YOUNG LADY ON HER BIRTH-DAY, 1853.
Dear Mary, with thy winsome ways And thoughtful manners mi’d, I scarcely know which most to praise The woman or the child. Not woman yet,—nor yet a child, But both,—at sweet sixteen;— Thou hast of each some charm beguiled, To suit the age between. A jubilant young summer’s day, Advancing into noon; The tender, blossom-covered May, Just bursting into June; A lily floating daintily Whose lips the waters meet; All these are images of thee, So bright, so fresh, so sweet. But more than fleeting charms of sense And higher would I prize, The radiant intelligence, That lights those earnest eyes. For beauty is at best but frail, The gold soon turns to clay; The loveliest cheeks grow quickly pale, The glossiest, tresses—grey. [page 22] But Goodness, Mary—Truth, and Love, Like gentle dews of ev’n Have each their origin above And all return to heaven. Then be those graces ever thine, As ever they have been, That happiness and hev’n may shine About thy path serene; That wafted safe, from shore to shore Of life’s uncertain sea, The king that ruleth evermore To bliss may welcome thee.
TO HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS
ALBERT EDWARD, PRINCE OF WALES,
On his visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia, 31st July, 1860.
PRINCE of a Royal race—Victoria’s Son, We give thee Welcome, hearty and sincere; Born to inherit Britain’s stately throne, The right was thine to claim due fealty here; Not the base homage paid by servile fear, But such as freemen, prizing freedom, owe, Pay we to thee; may all that men hold dear, Friendship and love, and health’s perpetual glow, And loyal hearts, be thine, throughout life’s onward flow.
Five centuries since, a kinsman, like in name, A gallant youth, left home to cross the sea; On Cressy’s field he won undying fame, And chose the Ostrich Crest still worn by thee; Old England, even then, was great and free, Foreshadowing the glory since attained; And bravely has she wrought her destiny, The wrong repented, and the right maintained, And by her stirring deeds, her high pre-em’nence gained.
And other Edwards, born of kindred blood, In later days, have left their native shore; Ill-fated Charles,* on fancied right, who stood, Who battled for the crown his fathers wore, Then fled in sorrow, to return no more; And later still, was Royal Edward sent, As Royal Prince was seldom sent before; Not, as of old, on war’s dread mission bent, He came, as thou hast come, on peaceful ends intent.
*Charles Edward, the Pretender, 1745. [page 24]
Grey-headed sires, again this joyous day, Unlocking mem’ry’s stores, shall proudly tell, “ ’Tis sixty years since Royal Edward’s stay; In such, or such, a house, did Edward dwell; We mind his tall, commanding, presence well;” And happily, among the bright-eyed throng,* Whose touching anthem rose with heaven-like swell, May some, perchance—should time reprieve so long— Be left, to greet thy heir, with cheers, and Welcome Song.
Illustrious Prince! at thought of thee and thine, What crowding fantasies spontaneous rise; All the long record of thy Royal Line, All the grand future that before thee lies, Flits like a dream before our waking eyes; What hopes, what fears, in thee concentre now! How great thy earthly trust! how vast the prize! May Heaven, with highest wisdom thee endow, And ev’ry grace befitting Kings enwreathe thy brow.
GOD of the Empires, hear a people’s prayer, Prayer for the Queen—prayer for her household band; Her life from ill, Her throne from evil spare, And Them preserve by thy Almighty Hand; And grant to Britain—glorious Mother Land— That she may use her growing power aright; So, like a beacon, she shall ever stand, On struggling nations shedding steadfast light, And pointing them to good, by her example bright.
* The children of the Public Schools, gathered on the Parade. This prophecy was fulfilled in the visit of the Prince’s eldest son some
twenty years afterwards. [page 25]
TO THE MEMORY OF ALEXANDER J. RITCHIE,
Editor of the “Sun” newspaper, who came to a sudden and melancholy death by drowning, on the evening of Thursday 5th September, 1867.
Cold in his shroud to-day he lies, Who yesterday was warm with life, Now all is o’er—the fret, the strife, And sundered short are earthly ties. Ah! fatal slip—from Life to Death, No parting word with wife, or friend, The goal where human friendships end, He reached, the treacherous wave beneath. We conjure up the days of yore, The hours we ne’er shall spend again; They wring us now with keenest pain But he, we trust, hath pain no more. We bow our heads beside his grave, The words in solemn cadence fall; “As fades the flower, so fade we all,” ’Twas His to take the life He gave! The mystery awes—for we are blind, We grope in darkness, stretching out Our feeble hands in wondering doubt; He gone!—the worthless left behind. The manly Truth—the pleasant Wit— The virtues the endeared him here, Are these transferred to higher sphere? Ours not to question, but—submit. For us the grief, the rending tear, Our friend no more on earth we greet, But when on that far shore we meet, To vision purged, shall all be clear. [page 26]
THE FISHERMAN OF CHEBUCTO BAY.
ON the brow of a headland, closed round by the sea, Roof and gable o’erhung by the old willow tree; With a patch for a garden, and another for hay, Stands the Fisherman’s Cottage, looking out on the Bay. There are dwellings of neighbors, hard by in the Cove, Little cots like his own, with a church just above; Very quaint seem the tenements, seen from below, Perched here and there one, like the nest of a crow. Low down on the beach are the Fisherman’s sheds, You may see him there now, with his lines and his leads; He is landing his nets—but his work is not done, Till the catch has been salted, or spread in the sun. Riding light near the flakes, are the Fisherman’s boats Each a picture to look at, so buoyant it floats; So roomy amidships, so shapely in bow, Not a cleaner built craft, rides the billows, I trow. By the dawn of to-morrow, the fleet, all away, Like a flock of great sea-birds will whiten the Bay; Good luck to the Fisherman, breasting the wave! Who follows such calling, had need to be brave. Success to the Fisherman, hardy and bold! Toiling oft to no purpose, in heat and in cold; To be caught now and then in the darkness and storm, While landsmen are sleeping, all cosy and warm. [page 27] A prayer for the Fisherman, tossed in the foam! A prayer for the watcher, by the cradle at home! Ah! times there will be when the night lamp grows dim, While his true wife sits rocking and waiting for him. But a shout she well knows, comes at length from the show And the wife overjoyed, will bound up to the door; Now thanks be to Heaven, that rules the fierce blast, With her husband beside her, all trouble is past. Let us honor the Fisherman, worthy of song, Like his own native cliffs, he is rugged and strong; And his sons will be like him,—what else could they be! To be born in that cottage, looking out on the sea. October, 1868.
My days are weary, sad and lone, And like a dismal nigh-mare, Care, Has made my heart his special throne, And haunts me, always—everywhere. I miss the hand that smoothed my brow; I miss the voice that eased my pain; Would I could press that soft hand now, Would I could hear that voice again! Nor would I selfishly forget, My love has sorrows all her own; I know what griefs her life beset, I know she bears her griefs—alone. But distance parts me from my love, And Fate all unpropitious seems; In joyless round my duties move, I pass my days in aimless dreams. Yet dream I must, and dream I do, Of joys, perchance, that yet may be; Nor can I doubt—I know ’tis true, My loved one dreams and thinks of me. The happy hours I oft recall Which memory keeps—a precious store, With fond delight recount them all And miser-like, still sigh for more. Thus from the Past doth Hope evolve Sweet augury, despite of Fate; So from my dreams I pluck resolve, To bear my burdens, and—to wait. [page 29]
THE WIDOW AND HER LOVER.
Widow Simper was rich and her daughter was fair, And the widow was soft on a handsome young man; Mr. Jones was his name, and his languishing air, Quite equalled the widow’s when courtship began. The widow was loving but wary as well, And she thought she was wise in the ways of the world So she deemed it but prudent—whatever befel, To question her suitor with locks so well curled. Like a worm in the rose, Suspicion each day, Ate the heart of the widow, disturbing her joy; Just when it’s least wanted, is always the way, Some pestering worry is sure to annoy. Quoth the widow, all smiling, I fear, Mr. Jones, That you think of my money and not much of me; Oh! why do you doubt me?—in sweetest of tones Said the handsome young fellow—the husband to be. If you cherish such doubts—so unworthy, my dear; If you dream for a moment my views are of pelf, I have thought of a plan that shall make it all clear, That my truest devotions are due to yourself. May I beg to suggest, that you part with your gold; That you give it to science, the church or the poor; Or if you prefer it—I humbly make bold, To ask for your daughter your plentiful store. Ah! my dear Mr. Jones, you have quite hit the nail, Said the gushing old charmer, and flew to his arms; And she lay on the breast of that wicked young male, While he soothed with his whiskers her bosom’s alarms. So the widow assigned by a deed squarely drawn, Not doubting the whiskers so trimmed for heart-slaughter And Jones and the maiden now sit on their lawn; Jones cozened the widow and—married the daughter. [page 30]
TO THE MEMORY OF
THE HONORABLE THOMAS DARCY McGEE,
Who was shot by an assassin when returning from the House of Commons, Ottawa, on the morning of April 7th, 1868.
SAD, by the River’s turbid stream, Slow moves the long funeral train; Mark, how each breast is wrung with pain, Ah, me! it seems a ghastly dream. Would that it were a baseless dream! Then might we hap’ly wake to find, Naught but a phantom of the mind, And Grief were spared such a piteous theme. Young Nation; where his Peer? Oh where!— Never—by Patriot Victim paid— Upon thine altar shall be laid, A sacrifice, of cost more rare. Curs’d be the wretch—too vile to name, Whose fiendish vengeance brought this woe; What floods of tears must vainly flow, For one foul murder’s deed of shame. From list’ning crowds his voice no more, Shall nightly draw the raptu’rous cheer; No more, his pen, to nicest ear, Attune the lays that charmed of yore. Fondly his record we retrace, Through error struggling on to light, Till Wisdom purged his inner sight, And noblest deeds to dreams give place. [page 31] High on his country’s proudest scrolls, Shall stand, henceforth, his honored name; ‘Twas more than genius gave him fame— More than his words that stirred our souls. His was the warm, Milesian blood, The teeming fancy,—flashing wit— And gifts that largest minds befit, But gifts, devoted, most to Good. Untainted he, by lust of greed, He loved to act th’ unselfish part: Wide was the room in that wide heart; Mankind, to him, was more, than Creed. When factions, maddened, rushed to war, When rane’rous sects stood face to face, ’Twas his to lift, with matchless grace, From Reason’s path, th’ opposing bar; With kindly eye the Wrong to scan, To point to Right—the truer course; To Justice—better far than Force, And Charity, from man to man. Ah! Glorious Work—cut short to soon, The Workman claimed, too soon, O Grave! Yet thank we God, to us who gave— And gave the world—so rich a boon. Illustrious Martyr! through all Time,— Thy great examples looming high, From sordid aims shall purify, And lead men up to acts sublime. [page 32]
Sung at the Promenade Concert, given at the Public Gardens, Halifax, in honour of the visit of H. R. H. Prince Arthur, 24th August, 1869.
GOD save our Gracious Queen, Long live our noble Queen, God save the Queen! Monarch of people free, Proudly we claim to be, Sprung from her kingdoms three, God save the Queen!
God bless her Royal Son, Her children every one, God bless them all! Not for themselves alone, But for the Crown and Throne, And Britain’s weal we own, On Heaven we call.
God keep our Mother-land, May Britain ever stand, Pride of the world! Her flag on the land and sea, Symbol still may it be, Of mighty and majesty, Where ‘er unfurled!
Welcome! young Prince to thee! True to the Empire, we Have ever been: The changes time may bring, Far from our thoughts we fling, Join we this day to sing, God save the Queen! [page 33]
TO MY DAUGHTER BERTHA—6 Months Old.
LAUGHING Bertha, fat and fair, Thou for me canst’ banish care, Though with arch, bewitching, rule Bid’st me think myself a fool. Who taught thee, sprite, such, cunning ways? That winsome, open, won’dring gaze, Stretching wide those orbs of blue That seem to read one through and through; Who taught that chirp—so like a bird’s That speaks of joy more plain than words, Tears and smiles each other chasing, Each the other fast erasing; Thou to reach my inmost heart, Has’t a trick more deep than art! Wherefore use we speech or books? Thou can’st better speak by looks, I, with all my gathered store, Experience, thought, and fancied lore, Cannot my emotions tell, Half so quick or half so well. Gleesome Bertha, bright and fair, Thee should Heaven kindly spare, Should to opening charms impart Graces of the mind and heart— Dare I then for thee presage Naught but joy thine heritage? Ah! sweet Bertha, know I well, Love itself dare not foretell Days that see no cloudy morrow, Life that knows no touch of sorrow: But, at least, for thee I may Fondly hope, and humbly pray, All thy future years may prove Years of virtue, truth and love, Years of wisdom riper growing Acts of goodness ever showing— Years that gently lead thee through, Brightening towards the Kingdom New Till at last thy pulse be stilled Life and all its ends fulfilled. [page 34]
TOWER WOODS, HALIFAX, N. S.
THE old Pine Woods are dark and sere, And sighing winds around them sweep; Over the tree-tops—out in the clear, Just as it has for many a year, Stands the Old Tower, crowning the steep. Stands as of yore—the grey old Tower; Massive and firm; as doth belong To Empires and to world-wide power; Strong to defend should danger lower, Recalling times renowned in song. Guarding the coast, around, beneath, Crouched each in green embankment trim, Lie messengers of woe and death; Silent, yet fierce—holding their breath, The dogs of war, wide-mouthed and grim. Long may they wait, these guards of ours, On distant perils, watchful bent; In mock engagements waste their powers, The ponderous toys of peaceful hours, Their roars in harmless thunder spent. Be tuned my lay to gentler themes, Nor thought intrude of war’s alarms, Sacred these groves to holiest gleams Of friendship pure; to lover’s dreams, And commune sweet with Nature’s charms. [page 35] Down the long past a glory shines, And like a lingering sunset dwells, Among the paths, O cone-tipped pines, Where crept through moss the tangled vines, We gathered in your odorous dells. And still at touch of buoyant Spring, The welcome Mayflowers bud and blow; With merry shouts the hollows ring, And trooping maidens, wreath-crowned, sing, Their cheeks the while with health aglow. Musing I sit, this Autumn day, To outward eye, outspread, the shore, The cliffs, the islands, and the Bay; To inward sight, a sad array; Faces and forms that come no more. And yet with sadness,—not with pain, Is tinged the record of the years; In Life’s mysterious round, the gain Transcends the loss; its joys remain, And live in memory more than tears. Hither in summer’s fervid prime, A noisy throng, we hired from school; At ball or leap-frog passed the time, Drew molluscs from the weedy slime, Or gambolled in the surf-waves cool. Then boyhood left, and grown more grave, With friends of riper years we roved; To earnest ends our converse gave, Talked much of men—the wise, the brave; But chiefly, of the books we loved. [page 36] Or hap’ly, on some knoll reclined, We watched the sea-birds, glancing, play; While annals, direful, rose to mind, How, in the storm-god’s fury blind, Our home-bound ships were cast away. Perchance rehearsed the *“Tribune’s” fate, When dashed on Thrum-cap’s treacherous shoals, In manhood’s pride of strength elate, Went down, th’ Archangel’s trump to wait, Twelve score of gallant human souls. Yet pausing oft, from harrowing tales We turned, to fix our loving gaze, On cloud-land’s peaks and rifted vales; The flashing main, white-flecked with sails; The headlands wrapped in dreamy haze. But times are changed, and while I sit, Come thoughts of present needs and cares; Across the Bay the shadows flit, In Sherbrook Light the lamps are lit, For shrouding night the world prepares. From ruthless axe, from fire, decay, Our old Pine Woods good angels keep! Adown these glades while soft winds play, Be green the paths where friends shall stray, The Old grey Tower, still crown the steep.
*The British Frigate “La Tribune” (captured from the French) was wrecked on Thrum Cap Shoals in Nov., 1797, with a loss of 240 men. [page 37]
ODE OF WELCOME.
Public Reception of National Division S. T., Halifax, N. S., July 9th, 1884.
A WELCOME warm dear friends we give; Though cool our climate be, Cold hearts, believe us, do not live With us beside the sea. From North, from South, we count our men, From prairies rich with grain; The Old Bay State—the land of Penn— And “hundred-harbored Maine.” Our aids, the Fair, we hail with pride, And yield them honored place; Their counsels wise our own shall guide, Their presence lend a grace. Though different flags allegiance claim, To President or Queen, We meet with undivided aim, Man’s good alone we mean. A bloodless warfare still we rage, But not for lands or pelf; The subtle foe our hosts engage Is man’s besetting self. Ambition ours, to lessen sin; With Satan’s wiles, our strife: From habits base, mankind to win And rouse to nobler life. [page 38] The toils of other years and men Have not been spent in vain; The scathing speech, the pliant pen, Have brought the world true gain. Have gained to right what once was wrong; Have raised what erst was low; In homes depressed by misery long, Made hearts with joy to flow. Be it our task to labor still, Though scoffers jeer and frown; Our Cause is just, and Stubborn Will Shall beat all barriers down. God speed the Right, and haste the day, The day foretold to be, When Righteousness shall point the way To Earth’s Grand Jubilee.
Fortieth Annual Session National Division S. T., Halifax, July, 1884.
OUR Conference ended, friends, we part, And, parting, fain would keep The kindly thoughts that in each heart Have found a lodgement deep. Together we have talked and planned, And, aiming still at good, Have wrought united, heart and hand, A willing Brotherhood. If views diverse at times provoked Sharp conflict, mind with mind, The wordy tilt no ill evoked; It left no sting behind. The friendships formed, we trust, will last; To each a cherished gain; A light to cheer Life’s chequered Past, A joy to sooth its wane. Our lives, alternate, flit in gleams, Now sunshine, and now shade; And brightest all of sunlit beams, Shine those by kindness made. By honor guided, every one, Let each befit the claim, To be a true Consistent Son, In worth as well as name. [page 40] Our goal be this, whate’er befalls, By deeds our creed to prove; Fidelity to Duty’s calls, With Purity and Love. Though oft defamed, and,—Argus-eyes,— Our foes denounce our ways, Yet heed we not, howe’er decried Persist we—blame or praise. That Cause is surely most alive And lives to greatest length, That trusts for aid whereon to thrive, Its own inherent strength. And now that Home, Sweet Home, invites, By river, lake or dell, Commend we each to Home’s delights, And so, dear friends, FAREWELL!
THE NEW YEAR TO THE OLD
SPAKE low in the door-way, the sprightly Young Year, And fain would have entered, but dared not go in; For Time with his seythe-blade and Death with his spear, Kept a watch by the sick one, all pallid and thin. You are sinking, Old Year, and your pulse it runs slow, I fear me, Old Year, you are nigh to the end, By your lustreless eye and your breathing—I know, How few are the hours that are left you to spend. I am dying New Year, I know it full well, I breathe but with pain, and my pulse it beats slow, This dimness and faintness—they surely foretell, The end of the journey you also must go. You have travelled Old Year, over mountain and plain, You have seen the Earth’s beauty—its groves and its flowers, Its fruits of ripe summer, and harvests of grain; That the world is so happy—should soothe your last hours. I have travelled, young friend, the great Earth around, I have seen its rich beauty, at morn and at eve, but a heart without sorrow, never one have I found, That the world is not happy—I am forced to believe, You have listened, Old Year, to the lettered and wise, You have marked how the thoughtless give heed to their lore, The secrets of knowledge they are learning to prize, The world, if not happy, is more wise than of yore. [page 42] I have listened, Young Year, to the lore of the Sage, The secrets of science I have heard him unfold, But sages are countless in history’s page, That the world has grown wiser, I must not be told. You are witness, Old Year, how the poor have been fed, The vile and the erring sought out by the pure; That Goodness is active, can truly be said; The world if not wiser, is better I’m sure. I have noted young friend, holy Charity’s deeds, How the poor have been cared for—the erring reclaimed; But for crimes I have counted, my heart it still bleeds; That the world is no better—I am sadly ashamed. I fear me, Old Year, you are cynical grown, The Earth and its glories—they fade from your view; That you once were more helpful, I am sure you will own; I am sorry to think it—the fault is in you. The fault may be mine—I confess it New Year, The world and its trifles, they charm me no more; But to you—as to me—they will doubtless appear, When the next coming year shall have knocked at your door. I have wearied my friend—I have spoken too long, But hark! the clock strikes—Ah! there, it is done; The Old Year may be right—but I trust he is wrong; Farewell, my old mentor—poor fellow! he’s gone.
Read at the gathering of the Public Schools, 21st June, 1887.
GOD save our gracious Queen, Long live our noble Queen, God save the Queen; From climes remote and near, From each broad hemisphere, Rings out the anthem clear, God save the Queen.
With rev’rent hearts we sing, To Thee, of kings the King, Whose guiding hand Hast lengthened out her days, Hast ever kept her ways, And made our Queen a praise In every land.
We mark the rule benign, That strict to Duty’s line, The wrong withstood; A life and walk we trace, That, born to highest place, Gave more than regal grace To Womanhood. [page 44]
In gravest calls of state, Or ministries that wait Her gentler sway; Never, in ages gone, The blaze that lights a throne, With more effulgence shone, Or purer ray.
Through honours firmly worn, Through sorrows bravely borne, What forces shine! If dear to Britain’s heart, Her Science and her Art, The glory is in part, Victoria, thine.
Nor him may we forget, Who dead, still liveth yet, The Consort wise; For him, in joy or gloom, The nation’s heart finds room, And wreathes with her the tomb Where Albert lies.
Continue, Lord, thy care, Preserve from every snare Our Queen and Throne, Our own Dominion bless, Thy favour ne’er be less, Our homes for righteousness Be ever known. [page 45]
What ‘er our future fate, Be held in inviolate, The Past we share; Be never brought to shame The heritage we claim, Or tarnished aught the name We proudly bear.
God keep the British Isles, Subvert the piotter’s wiles, Uphold the good; For all thy bounties choice, The while we now rejoice, Accept a people’s voice Of gratitude.
To Britain’s utmost marge, Howe’er her bounds enlarge, Give noblest aim; With ever-growing might Give ever-bright’ning light, And zeal to do the right, Unheeding blame.
O Land our fathers loved, O Land by actions proved Worthy of Love; Be thou in Honor’s view All tests and trials through, To thine own greatness true, Nor thence remove.
So shall thy offspring still, With widening circles, fill New realms to be; So shall thy old renown, Through mellowing years go down, And with fresh lustre crown Each Jubilee. [page 46]
VIVACIOUS, vicious, nipping Flea, Veriest imp in entomology, Long yers each other we have known, Your kin I mean—not you alone; And so, for old acquaintance sake, A chatty rhyme I’ll try to make. I cannot promise thee much praise, For, sooth to say, I hate thy wars: So full of tricks, so stealthy, sly, That sorely thou dost patience try; So savage and bloodthirsty too, You’d make a saint as bad as you; The saint, indeed, were extra good, Who would not hunger for your blood. But how to catch you—that’s the point That puts one’s nose quite out of joint. Last night I had you fairly fixed, My finger and my thumb betwixt, At least I thought so, till I found My slippery friend had changed his ground, Had swiftly made a fresh attack, And left my neck to bite my back. But though thou set me all afire In spite of rage, I do admire The strength that marks thy bold escapes And gets thee through so many scrapes. If I could only jump like thee, Zounds! what a wonder I would be; The nimblest athlete I have known, A length not more than thrice his own, With utmost force that he could bring, Was all the space that he could spring; But thou, and with the greatest ease, When one attempts thy pelt to seize, [page 47] Cans’t vault in air, and cut an arc, In glare of sun or in the dark, That straightened out would make a line Five hundred times a length of thine. Could I perform such feats as that, Were such a peerless acrobat, No wall or house I’d walk around But simply take them at a bound. Were I disposed the Park to view, Or woodland haunts to ramble through, With conscious power I’d scorn a hack, Just take one jump and then jump back; For such small work not care a fig, But do it all without fatigue, Nor slit my pants or burst my liver, To clear a navigable river. Why Life should teem with fleas and flies, Is one of Nature’s mysteries, Yet doubt I not, in Nature’s plan, Both have their place as well as Man; I must believe, my impish friend, Thou wer’t devised for some wise end, But still,—if all the same to you, I trust you’ll keep this hint in view, And do, I pray thee, thy good service On someone else’s epidermis. But I must end my rambling song And as before, must scratch along; ’Tis true, I make, if thou go free, A virtue of necessity, And only spare your hide because You deftly slipped between my claws; But that’s the way things mostly go, And virtue oft is but a show. So fare thee well, my agile flea The world has room for me and thee. [page 48]
THE TRAVELLER’S REST.
Somewhat back from the road, years agone, stood the Inn,
With its long straggling front, its verandah and vine;
While behind and adjacent, each neat as a pin,
Were the stables and coach-houses all in a line.
An old-fashioned place was the “Traveller’s Rest,”
Many-windowed and doored and its sign swinging high;
For man and for beast it provided the best,
And its fame for true comfort not one could deny.
A well-mated pair were the hostess,—still hovering near,
What attention and care would she promptly devote;
How leisurely then could we test the good cheer,
And sip the hot coffee without scalding one’s throat.
How perfect the rolls were! And the butter how sweet;
The napkins so snowy—so delicious the cream,
That chronic dispeptics perforce had to eat,
And a peep at the bedrooms disposed one to dream.
At mid-day in summer, all panting and blown,
How the four-in-hand roadsters dashed up with a bound,
And how like a monarch vacating his throne,
The coaches descending looked proudly around.
Then, in winter, at night-fall—storm-caught in the snow,
How the lights afar-gleaming shone pleasantly bright;
As we leaped from our sleigh-robes how heartsome the glow
Of the wood-fire blaze where we sat half the night. [page 49]
Ah! These were the glories of old coaching days,
And a glamour hangs o’er them of golden-hued sheen,
And sometimes I doubt whether modernized ways
Are anywise better than those that have been.
But the train sweeps along through the valley below,
With a rush and a scream and a thunder-like roar;
O’er the roofless old hostel the green mosses grow,
And the guests it once welcomed, it welcomes no more.
Not a gun-shot remote from the spot they loved best,
In a white-railed enclosure just over the hill,
Sleep the host and the hostess of Traveller’s Rest;
But the world it moves onward and never stands still.
LINES WRITTEN IN A LADY’S ALBUM.
Since thou, my friend, has’t bid me write Some thought among these treasures bright, I dare not such command refuse, Though hard it be fit words to choose; Be simple then, my humble line, A reminiscence and a sign, That thus it chanced in days gone by, We met and parted—thou and I, But so the parting—there and then, It left the wish to meet again. September, 1888. [page 50]
Rev. David Honeyman, D. C. L., F. S. A., F. R. S. C., &C,. who died very suddenly 17th October, 1889. Aged 75 years.
Dread King of terrors, thy fell dart, All unexpected, pierced a heart Veracious, rev’rent, loving, strong, Incapable of guile,—of wrong. Devoted heart! To knowledge lent, High-aimed, self-poised, on progress bent. O Death, thou can’st not hold thy prize, Nor thou, O Grave, though low he lies. Enquire we not; not where, nor how, Yet sure, O Lord, the while we bow Most humbly, to Thy holy will, A trust we have, Thou keepest still, No lesser niche for him to fill. Halifax, October 20, 1889.
(As liberty seems to be generally allowed to Sonneteers to depart somewhat from the strictly classical or Petrarchian model, the writer, it will be seen, has availed himself of that liberty.)
A voice is in the air,—a mingled sound, Of winds and swaying trees and loosened floods; The pinken May-flower scents the deep pine woods; Young grass-blades, spiry, pierce the steaming ground; With conscious joy all nature beams around! Oblivious of the winter’s frosts, loud sings, At earliest dawn, the grey bird to his mate; Now Betty, open wide the casement flings; Her mistress seeks for moss to deck the grate; Prepost’rous haste! The storm-begotten brood Of Boreas, all wild and eager wait To waste our fields with sleet and hailstones rude; Be patient, yet good wife! Nor scorn the fires; Acadia’s Spring their genial warmth requires.
Season beloved! a gladsome life is thine, Each morning from thy meadows pearled with dew, To mark the glowing concave’s changeful hue To feast thine eye on beauty; to incline Thy ravished ear to melodies divine; Anon, recumbent in a latticed bower, Of honeysuckle and sweet eglantine, To take voluptuous ease at noontide hour; Or, by the shore, at eve, to watch the sea, While a’morous winds flit softly whispering by: O summer! who so born to joy as thee? Or who, so born, would ever wish to die! But thou art frail; ev’n now comes Autumn brown With sickle keen, prepared to cut thee down. [page 52]
How fresh the fields this fair October day, How calm above, yon glorious, azure sky, How rich beneath, the maple’s crimson dye And varied woods with green and orange gay; Can tints so gorgeous indicate decay? Or is it, Autumn, midst thy falling leaves, That Memory recalls thy garnered sheaves, And Earth, heart-glad, wears holiday array: Or is it Hope that lights thy beaming eye, That, wreathed with flowers, afar, sees coming Spring, O’er heath and mountain, health and beauty fling, While heaves with joy Old Ocean’s bosom high. Ah! blessed Memory, of Time well-spent; Ah! blissful Hope, on Spring, eternal, bent.
Fierce is thy aspect, grim and bearded King, Wrapped in a cheerless robe of sheeted snow; Checked by the breath, the rivers cease to flow; Touched by thy hand the flowerets shrink and fling Their charms away. But yet, O monarch stern, Thy brow of icicles doth shade an eye For beauty; thou with magic wand canst turn Gaunt trees to things of fairy fantasie; Thou art a lover too of mirth, when in the air Rings sharp and clear the sleigh-bells merry chime, Or o’er the glassy lake, foresworn of care, The whirling skaters pass the jocund time. But best, O King, thy fireside joys, and nights Of Home and intellectual delight. [page 53]