AMHERST GAZETTE ELECTRIC POWER PRINTING HOUSE,
AMHERST, N. S.
The following poems were not written with a view to publication,—although some of them have appeared in newspapers—but were composed as a relaxation from other, and more prosaic, duties, and are not now printed for the public to criticise, but for more private, and the author trusts less critical, eyes.
O MIGHTY past! we fain would read the story, Since time first dawned, or sun did rise or set, Through centuries unknown, remote and hoary, Refusing to give up thy secrets yet. Long ere man trod this circling plant, Or Eve in Eden’s sunny bowers was placed, The earth existed, none but God to scan it, His eye alone then viewed the dreary waste. As age on age rolled on came many changes, The seas and oceans took their destined place, Dry land appeared, with towering mountain ranges, To rib the earth, so time could ne’er efface. Life now existed, though a low creation, Shell fish, or mollusk, in the slimy deep; On land where things of various fashion With legs and wings to walk, or fly, or creep. Time still rolled on, and after many ages New forms appeared of things till then unknown, A higher life, so read the rocky pages, The only record of those cycles gone. Thus on these leaves the story is recorded, With nature’s pen, of each successive change, In language universal, plainly worded, Revealing hidden secrets, passing strange. [unnumbered page] Convulsions shook the earth, upheaving strata, Volcanoes belched out liquid fire and smoke, Though when this time we have no certain data, But ’tis recorded in volcanic rock. This was an age when nature’s pent-up forces Their power displayed to shake the solid world, Rivers dried up, or took to other courses, And mountains were from their firm bases hurled. Huge scaly reptiles crawled the earth, most hideous, Or bathed their slimy lengths in stagnant pools, With mammoth great, and mastodon prodigious, Giants indeed, if gauged by modern rules. Then vegetation, too, was rank and ponderous, Trees mighty grew, ’twas the carbonic age, All nature seemed composed of giant wonders; Before nor since we read no similar page. ’Twas nature’s plan, its wisdom we discover, We bore the earth, and strike the sable mine, For man created,—stored with earthly cover, In wisdom placed by Architect divine. At length the time arrives, Man is created, The solitary lord of sea and land, The world his empire, but to ruin fated, He sadly fell!—Eve stretched the erring hand. The world is peopled,—tribes o’er earth are scattered, Man rules with iron hand and lordly sway, Towers rise, and mighty cities,—long since battered By time’s effacing forces to decay. Empires have come, and gone, with deeds of wonder, Of might, and power, and military fame; No more these ancient warlike captains thunder, Whose word obeyed, spreads ruin in their train. [page 9] Thus time shall be in its eternal flowing; Empires shall rise and fall, as in the past; We shall be ancients, none of us e’er knowing; How soon our glory crumbles into dust.
Lines Suggested on Visiting Greenwood Cemetery, near New York.
‘TWAS standing on a height ’mong Greenwood’s tombs, While just beyond the living city looms, Whose thousand spires each lifts its lofty head, That city peopling this one with its dead. I mused on man, his aims, his end, his fate, Myself within this ghastly city’s gate,— The day was bright, a lovely autumn sun On hill, and field, and pointed turret shone, Around were tombs which only wealth could build, The vaults beneath with human bones were filled. Some polished marble, crowned with urns antique, As Romans used, or other forms unique, Here, towering granite shaft some name records, Such costly art as only wealth affords; On every hand these monuments I view, As now the silent streets I wander through; Art rivals art in fashioning these stones In stately forms above these human bones, The winding pathways open to the gaze, Fresh works of arts, and tombs in every place. Tho’ death reigns here, yet ’tis a lovely spot, Rare flowers are planted, with forget-me-not, O’er graves they bloom watched by some skilful hand, The grassy mounds are shorn at wealth’s command, Or garland on some new-formed grave there lay, Placed by some loving hand, perchance, that day, The infants had its little, tiny tomb, The man of fourscore met the common doom. [page 10] I asked myself the question—what is death? Is it but to resign this mortal breath? An echo from the tombs I faintly heard, “Your only light is in God’s holy word.” I turned my eyes to yonder city, fair, The mart of nations; life was busy there, Her merchant princes palaces there rear, Tho’ soon their names will be recorded here. Each day that city here its tribute brings, The angel, Death, forever spreads his wings. Thus, one by one, they’ll meet the common lot, The proudest be to this lone city brought.
The Ecumenical Council,
at which the dogma of the Infallibility of the Pope was proclaimed. Soon after the adjournment of the Council in 1870, the Italian army occupied Rome, and declared it the Capital of the Kingdom of Italy, and in the following August the Emperor Napoleon, who had, for years, kept troops at Rome, to protect His Holiness, withdraw them, and the temporal power of the Pope was at an end.
POPE Pius the Ninth is a jolly old fellow, The head of the church universal, If you’re fond of a show, to Rome you must go, Where the farce is now under rehearsal. This pontiff declares he’s as good as St. Peter, His line of descent undisputed; To swallow this dose, you must shut your eyes close, His decision must never be doubted. Former popes may have been most notable sinners, Shedding blood, and fighting in battle; But they say thus was right, for popes thus to fight, Mowing down unbelievers like cattle. [page 11] So Pius concluded to summon a council, None like it for years near three hundred; The world was in doubt at some dogmas just out, If confirmed ’twill show he’s not blundered. His popeship tho’ recently shorn of much power, What is left by bayonets protected, Convened his great show at St. Peter’s, you know, And his new-fangled dogmas projected. He was very polite to outside dissenters, Invited them to the discussion; Some thought they would go to his holiness’ show; He replied, “You must come to confession.” As closing the door in their clerical faces, He said, “You must go the whole figure;” They replied with a vow, “We are coming just now, But will wait till our numbers grow bigger.” So the council commenced its regular sitting, Arrayed in their robes and their mitres, With jewels and laces, and clerical graces, In their looks much in contrast to Peter’s. But then says the pope, “We must keep up appearance, Make a show to attract the attention, Confirm my decrees, let me do as I please, Not a doubt of their truth you must mention. I have heard that some of my bishops are doubting, I hope that no truth there is in it;” The bishops replied, “We are sadly belied, We will kiss your great toe in a minute!” So saying they formed up in pious procession, And filed past his holiness,—solemn; He stuck out his toes to kiss as they’d go; They kiss,—every man in the column. [page 12] These dogmas must ne’er be disputed hereafter, They’re decreed in the orthodox manner. Thus the council is ended, the creed is amended, Who disputes is a heterodox sinner.
THE ancient prophet has foretold That wars on earth should cease; That swords to ploughshares should be turned, And nations live in peace. Two thousand years have rolled away Since this decree was given, Yet christian nations drench the earth, With blood, that cries to heaven. Contending armies take the field, As in those ancient times, And strew the earth with slaughtered dead, And other countless crimes. These christian rulers lead the van, Each blasphemously prays, That God may bless his arms again, As blessed in former days. O, when will that blest time arrive, When wars on earth shall cease, And swords be into ploughshares turned, And nations live in peace ? [page 13]
What is Religion?
(Suggested by a clergyman remarking to his wife, as a social gathering, that he thought it was time for them to leave, when some lively music was played, and an impromptu waltz indulged is, by a young couple in an adjoining room.)
WHAT is religion ? who the righteous ? and how told ? These questions from remotest centuries have rolled; A thousand answers to them have been given, As many avenues been opened up to heaven; And each believer thinks his pathway is the best, The surest, straightest, leading to that land of rest; All others are mistaken on some special point, Their minds benighted, and their doctrines out of joint. In Egypt crocodiles were worshipped,—scaly gods, Which took men straightaway up to heaven,—so what odds ? While others thought themselves securely on the way, By worshipping the moon, or else the god of day, Some hewed out gods of wood, some fashioned them of stone, Their light was dim, no higher power to them was known, Were they condemned, not knowing nature’s only God, Because they groped so blindly on the heavenly road Who, like the pharisee, will dare to judge these men, They used what light they had, their fate’s beyond our ken. The Jew had revelations from the Higher Power, On Sinai Moses talked with God,—‘O solemn hour! On stone His ancient laws were written for their guide, Commandments ten;—by them the Jews both lived and died. Though favored thus, they also needed bullocks slain, Or lambs on altars to atone the sins of men. The robed priest around his burning censer swung, The fragrant incense rising,—do we think this wrong? We must approve, this people was the chosen race, Their prophets talked with the Eternal, face to face. His angels guided them, as none but angels can, And often spake with them, as we do,—man with man, His presence then was manifest in many a place, [page 14] The Jewish ladder was the only road to grace. But then, a brighter day, by far, was yet to dawn, The Christian dispensation, now apace draws on; Shepherds by night, on Judah’s plains espied from far, O’er Bethlehem hanging a mysterious star. A heavenly messenger to announce to earth Another, brighter dispensation, now has birth. “Peace and good will,” the keystone of this noble arch, To span the world, and stay the warrior’s hostile march, The time when swords no more shall flash in bloody strife, But be to ploughshares turned, the spear to pruning knife. But is it so?—O, human nature, must I own, Thy good resolves like chaff before the wind are blown? What sin there is committed in religion’s name, How often bigots kindle the consuming flame, In savage, wordy war, they thrust the envenomed lance, And often widen breaches that might heal—perchance, Dispute and wrangle over non-essential forms, And bring round their devoted heads religious storms. One says: you must be dipt, clean under, in baptism; Unless you are, you’re doomed to heresy and schism; While others say: ’tis right to sprinkle, or to pour, This is the surest way to open heaven’s door. Some persons having less religion, per’aps, than sense, Say neither is required, ’tis of no consequence; These self-same wranglers on there points perhaps may say, ’Tis wrong to breathe the air of heaven on Sabbath day, To walk abroad o’er nature’s verdant, flowery fields, And drink the inspirations nought but nature yields, Tho’ Christ went to the fields one dewy Sabbath morn, Rebuked the pharisees, and sanctioned plucking corn; Or hold up hands, in pious horror, if, perchance, We join the young, and move in joyous mazy dance, And even music comes beneath religious ban, If played too quick,—dispute this solemn fact who can, The fiddle, yea, that sweetest instrument of strings. [page 15] Is now condemned, the very worst of wicked things, Though stringed instruments in Bible times were used, And, doubtless, David played fast music when he choosed. He also danced, we read it in God’s holy word, For when the ark was bought, he danced before the Lord; Some critics may this dancing was another kind, A solemn dance, indulged to ease his holy mind. I don’t pretend to say they are not in the right, But it is plainly said, “He danced with all his might,” Are we confined, then, to a rigid solemn creed, No relaxation granted to us when we need? Must man to reach the goal we all are seeking for, Live like a hermit, and against all pleasure war? Are not these blessings—granted sometimes to be used, Not to excess,—in moderation,—not abused ? Perhaps I’m wrong,—dogmatically I won’t say Which is the best, the safest, straightest, surest, way.
A Donation Visit.
O FOR the pen of Milton, or of Pope! That I might with this might subject cope, Describe this scene in solemn, measured verse, And each important incident rehearse.— The parson’s flock from all the country round, With one accord are to his dwelling bound, The object to divide their ample stores, With this intent they now besiege his doors. From East, and West, and North, and South they come, With corn, and oats, and flour, and dollars,—some With quilts, and sheets, and knick-knacks, not a few, Lamps, oil, and candles all around they strew, Like bees returning, laden, to their hive, Now swarm on swarm they through his portals dive, The old, young, the solemn and the gay, Join in the scene, and mingle in the fray, [page 16] The roar much like the heaving billow’s wave, As on some reek-bound coast its surges lave, Each room besieged, each nook with noisy group, While others round through halls and kitchen troop. As night approaches tea must be prepared, And when announced each pilgrim amply shared; No lack was there of coffee, tea, and cake, The viands all the best that each could make; If plum-cake did not with your taste agree, The spicy dough-nuts cried aloud, “try me!” The pleasant waiters ’round the dishes passed, To tempt the palate to the very last; The board still groaned beneath its ample load, And fragrant tea, and amber coffee flowed, The odds were all upon the tables’ side, So amply were they with good things supplied. At last, in sheer despair they rise and shout,— “It is no use to try and eat them out.” Almost a miracle I’m sure was wrought, As more seemed left than was in baskets brought. When now their appetites were thus appeased, They swarmed again, at random, as they pleased; Up stairs and down, in the bedroom and in hall, They flock around, or lean against the wall. Some courting on the sly, perchance, was done, If not in earnest, why, of course, in fun, A cash-box on a centre table sat, This mode preferred to passing round the hat; The generous donors as they neared the box, Dived in their pockets and produced the “rocks;” The jingling silver made a joyful sound, As grateful music, cheering all around. The evening wanes,—the time to leave has come, Each starts to reach a near or distant home; A very pleasant evening had been spent, And some regretted that they thither went. [page 17]
More About the “Heathen Chinee,”—The Chinaman’s Defence Against Bret Harte, and other Calumniators.
I’M a “Heathen Chinee,” Ah Sin’s brother, From Yang Ching in China I came ; I jumped the great wall and no other, With a view to a hand in some game. My brother you know plays at euchre, Of course with no eye to the lucre; I’m sure you can’t think me to blame. My brother advised me to travel, To leave the old land of my birth,— To come to the States to scratch gravel, And dig out the gold from the earth. So I took his advice and came over, Now I find myself feeding in clover, And cannot tell how much I’m worth. Some whisky I took just to try it, Needing something to wash down the rice, Which you know is out principal diet,— With such dainties as rats, and fat mice. The cooking done here I despise it, So does every Celestial that tries it, Besides,—we can live at half price. To refer to the whisky I spoke of, With my approbation or praise; Or even this subject to joke of, Might confirm me in heathenish ways. ’Tis a sign you are Christians,—such liquor, The sooner I name this the quicker; Besides, it’s a business that pays. My pig-tail or you may laugh at, Make fun of my almond-shaped eyes; [page 18] And the gods that I worship may scoff at, And our joss-house affect to despise. The god that you worship is Mammon, To say you do not is but gammon, And nothing but bunkum and lies. You swear, steal, gamble, and cheat us, Are guilty of lying and fraud; And turn up your nose when you meet us, Then on Sunday go worship your God. The most of you act more like heathen, Than any poor Chinaman breathin’, Or our forefathers under the sod. We work on your railroads at present, Make your shoes or dig in your mines, And do other work not quite pleasant,— Then get thrashed, which we think is hard lines. But you’re Christians, and this is the reason, To rebel would be murder and treason, So the heathen Chinee ne’er repines. So long as we live here among you, We intend to act honest and fair; Have no disposition to wrong you, We swear by our pig-tails of hair. By these cues we are drawn up to heaven, When we die, and our sins are forgiven, And by nothing more holy can swear. [page 19]
A Visit to a Skating Rink, and What I Saw.
THE Skating Rink some ladies think A paradise of pleasure, With “Acme” skates they choose their mates, And glide to music’s measure. With hand in hand, each looking bland, Not fearing any danger; They carve the ice, in strange device, Quite puzzling to a stranger. One pleasant day, I took my way,— Forgetting other duties; I could not skate, so ’twas my fate, To watch these skating beauties. As I stepped in, ’tis true as sin, I saw a gent a-squeezing A lady fair with flaxen hair, Who forthwith took to sneezing. The reason was, no doubt, because She just then was a-falling; The ice was cold, so he took hold, To keep his dear from sprawling. The act was kind, quite to my mind, I looked on much approving; But just to think, within the rink, To see a sight so moving. As I advanced, I felt entranced, To see these skaters gliding, Now circling round, now backwards bound, So joyous and confiding. [page 20] Just by me sat a lady fat, A gent her skate adjusted; Her ankle neat, and foot so sweet— He noticed,—I mistrusted. Away they glide, he by her side, His hand now clasps her digits,— How hard my fate, that I can’t skate, Which quite gives me the fidgets. A scream I hear!—a lady near Has come to grief, just yonder,— With curious eye, I now espy The scene,—and on it ponder. A lovely miss, too sweet to kiss, Lay on the ice extended; This little duck, her head first struck, Tho’ by false hair defended. Her steel-shod feet were very neat, Her ankles I won’t mention; To speak of these, excuse me, please, I have no such intention. As prone she lay, I moved away, Outside the cold enclosure,— And wondered why these girls should sigh For downfalls and exposure. [page 21]
The “Girl of the Period,” After Marriage.
THE girl of the period, said to relate, Is a subject of slander, gossip, and prate; The crusty old maid with the bachelor vies, To show up these damsels as seen by their eyes; They make no allowance for youth or for beauty, But run them all down as a Christian-like duty, Say they flirt and get married, as a matter of course, Then go to Chicago, and get a divorce, That is, is their husbands stay out after ten, Or go their club-room to talk to the men, Or are seen on the street to speak to a woman— Which latter offence, by the way, is quite common— Or don’t find the cash for sufficient new dresses, Or foot up their bills for paint, powder, and tresses. These charges are brought, with a great many more, Trumped up by the dozen, perhaps by the score, Of course this is all most villainous slander, The ravings of some green-eyed salamander. My object is not to defame, not traduce,— Such scandalous conduct is clearly no use;— For the more you vilify, scold, and refuse them, The more they cry out you but want to abuse them. Their way they will have, you may do as you please, So better surrender, and come to your knees. You had better “cave in” than act like a rebel, And always be steeped in hot water and trouble. ’Tis truly absurd for a man but to mention That a note in the bank requires his attention, That the funds he’s not got wherewith to “retire” it, And he fears he can’t beg, steal, borrow, or hire it, That bankruptcy stares him right square in the face, [page 22] And nothing left him but debt and disgrace. Why bother their brains by thus talking of lucre? Your dimes became her’s when in marriage you took her ; You may pay up your notes the best way you can ; She must have her new dresses, and drive out her span. Mrs. Shoddy, her neighbor, spends freely her money ; If you can’t do likewise she thinks it’s quite funny. Her “pa,” she says, gave her what money she wanted, Her “ma” to her neighbors this fact alway vaunted, Their daughter must dress in the height of the fashion, And have plenty of cash to handsomely dash on, ’Tho if starving to death her dinner can’t cook, Reads all the new novels, and no other book. The sweet little dears, notwithstanding, quite charm you, And if you complain, by some means disarm you. If to be more prudent you have no means to force her, You can go to Chicago, and there can divorce her.
O NATURE! Fain would I thy realms explore, And ever wander o’er thy boundless shore, And learn thy laws, extending through all space, Forever acting in mysterious ways. How gravitation with its mystic force Controls the planets in their circling course, Or to the earth attracts the needed rain. The sun in vapour draws from yonder main That subtle power which no one comprehends. We know it acts, but there our knowledge ends. The mighty universe is thus sustained, And countless rolling worlds in orbits chained. [page 23] With central suns dispensing heat and light, Without whose rays they’d course in endless night, And desolation ever reign supreme; No ray of light to shed its gladdening beam, No life existing—all a horrid gloom— Each planet sharing in the common doom. But Nature never labors thus in vain, She links her wonders in an endless chain, Her realms are lighted by those stars that roam, In countless numbers, through that azure dome, (Each one the centre of some system, far Beyond the influence of our solar star,) As on some cloudless night they seem to move, Projected onward by some power above, Illusion caused by our diurnal round Upon earth’s axis through yon space profound, Thus causing day and night upon our world, So every planet through vast space is whirled. Are all those suns and systems but as blanks, No living beings in their endless ranks? And earth the only highly-favored spot Where life exists? Our reason says, ’tis not. Analogy must point to yonder spheres, And own that life there marks the coursing years, We cannot think those worlds were made for naught, Without an object into being brought. No sentiment beings to adore that cause, That gave us breath, and nature all her laws. And if analogy in this holds good (We cannot see the reason but it should), There are intelligence exceeding far Man’s vaunted powers, as star outrivals star, Though nature governs on the grandest scale, Her laws in smallest matters never fall; The same great power that moulded countless suns The dew-drop forms, and through all nature runs. [page 24] What wondrous wisdom everywhere displayed In everything that Deity has made! He gives to birds their wings to soar away; The eagle mounts and dares the solar ray, The fishy shoals with fins are all supplied So they can through their native waters glide; The insect flits its hour upon the stage; Each living thing assigned its destined age; Some live their round of life within a day, Then into nothingness they melt away, While other forms exist for many years, But soon they pass. Thus all life disappears— The living forms which on our earth are seen Are but repeated from those which have been— A never-ending miracle of power; We know this much about it—nothing more. The sculptor chisels forms that almost breathe, And man around his brow the laurels wreathe, But when the mandate comes:—live, I command! The chisel then drops useless from his hand; ’Tis but a marble image, cold and dead, Like human clay when life from it has fled. The artist paints his forms with light and shade; In bold relief they seem—in beauty made— They glow in living colors—bright and fair— Alas, but shadows!—soul is wanting there What art can match the rose’s lovely bloom, Its leaves around dispensing sweet perfume, Or paint the lily in its native bed As in the field it lifts its modest head? Or who can catch the rainbow’s glowing tint That arches over yonder firmament! That man must be an infidel indeed Who can admit this doctrine in his creed, That nature all by merest chance exists, A lowing nothing to disperse those mists [page 25] That cloud his reason and benight his mind; A soulless skeptic—libel on his kind. Could suns burst into light, and systems make? Could worlds bring forth themselves and orbits take? Could man create himself with all his powers? Could roses bloom in Eden’s fragrant bowers, With no creator,—each its own “I AM”? The thought is senseless, and the creed a sham ; Our reason must a Higher Power own, His works the universe—He God alone.
The Old Bachelor.
A BACHELOR sat in his rickety chair While smoking his horrible pipe, The fumes of tobacco polluting the air; His brow he would now and then wipe. His stockings were out at the heels and the toes, His neck-tie was put on awry, The buttons were fast taking leave of his clothes, The look of despair on his eye. This bachelor mused on his terrible fate, He thought what a fool he had been To spend his existence, ne’er seeking a mate, Now given to sorrow and spleen. His thoughts wandered back to when he was young, To the girls that then he had known; They troop to his fancy, like pearls that are strung, But soon this fair vision is gone. [page 26] He sees his vain life is fast ebbing away, A petrified fossil is he; Let him smoke, sigh, and groan, as long as he may, His sin’s on his head,—let him be. This epitaph write o’er his mortal remains, When this wretch is done with this life, “He died as the fool, sadly wanting in brains; He lived without getting a wife.”
THE Seasons in their circuit slowly move And true to Nature’s laws forever prove. Twelve months compose this solemn yearly round, Like spokes in wheels that are by felloes bound. By moons some barbarous nations count the year, So thirteen months to their dull minds appear. The twelve divisions that by months we call But mark the yearly circuit of our ball, The seasons we divide in simply four, And see no reason we should make them more. WINTER, majestic in our climate reigns, In icy grasp he binds his wide domains ; December’s frosts congeal our many streams, Till Sol in April sheds his lengthening beams, With snowy carpet covers all the earth, Till Spring appears, when nature has new birth; The sun these frozen fetters then dissolves, As slowly round the season now revolves, The icy king retreats towards the pole, Again returns as other seasons roll. The balmy SPRING succeeds this frozen reign, And nature smiles thro’ all her vales again, [page 27] The earth is covered o’er with emerald green, Her myriad charms on every hand are seen. The farmer’s herds now graze upon the hills, The babbling brooks are fed by thousand rills ; These brooks go gliding onward thro’ the plain, Then mix with rivers that now seek the main ; The feathered songsters sing in leafy trees Their warbling notes are borne upon the breeze, Through all the laud their joyous accents ring, And tell how grateful is the season, Spring. Next, sultry SUMMER, with her lengthened days, Brings down upon us scorching solar rays ; The juicy berries now in fields abound, While flowers are strewed on all the hills around; The new-mown hay its pleasant odour sends, The growing fruit the spreading branches bends. The AUTUMN next beings forth its golden grain— The circling year is fast upon the wane, Now amply laden with her various stores Of ripened fruits, which she profusely pours On all who till the generous, yielding soil— A rich reward for al their anxious toil. The sun then backwards to the south retreats ; His slanting rays our earth obliquely meets ; The year has thus performed its wonted round, And where it started now again is found. The seasons thus forever come and go In one continual, never-ending flow. [page 28]
An Old Maid’s Lament
WHEN I was young,—about sixteen— I had my troops of beaux; I thought I’d flirt, and wait awhile, So turned my Roman nose. My faithful glass revealed the fact That I was young and pretty, Without a rival, so I thought, In country, or in city. So I concluded I would flirt, Till I was two and twenty, When I could marry whom I pleased, As beaux were then so plenty. David, we read, ten thousand killed, Sampson his thousand slew; A lady Sampson I would be, And slay my thousand too. The instrument don’t think the same (But let this trifle pass); I slew by flirting; David used The jaw-bone of an ass. When two and twenty had arrived I thought I still would flirt Till I was thirty—’twas so nice To kill—myself unhurt. When thirty came, my beaux, I found, Through killed and wounded, were Reduced—how hard ’tis to confess— To just one single pair. [page 29] And these, I must admit, were not Just suited to my mind,— John Brown was deaf, and somewhat lame, Jim Snodgrass partly blind. My looking-glass less faithful was, It showed that I was fading, Reflected crows’-feet round my eyes; I knew this false—yet jading. The roses, too, had left my cheeks, My hair was getting thinner; Of course, the glass was all to blame, And not this flirting sinner. Another decade soon was passed, The fleeting years ne’er tarried; John Brown is dead, and I am told, Jim Snodgrass has got married. So now, my friends, I have no beaux; The world shows me no pity; Next June I’ll be just forty-two; So ends my doleful ditty.
The Eastern Question
THE Eastern question seems to be A bone of great contention. We cannot touch on all its points, But some of them may mention. When France and Prussia went to war, The Russian Bear got plucky, [page 30] His solemn treaties said he’d break, And thought the war quite lucky. His neighbor, Turkey, now he hoped, Would be in such a hobble, That he could make a raid down south, And this old gobbler gobble. This ancient Turkey flapped his wings, And said: Don’t touch a feather ; The treaty shall remain intact, Or you’ll see stormy weather. The British Lion wagged his tail, And bid the Bear defiance ; The Austrian bird got his quills up And joined in this alliance. The Russian Bear now thinks it time To growl a little fainter, And don’t object to settle it By Congress, during winter. We don’t know how this row will end ; Each one is on his mettle ; We hope they may not come to blows, But amicably settle.
HOW strong is slavish prejudice in man, As potent now as when the world began, Tho’ boasting that we live in latter days, With light unerring to direct our ways. In our beliefs how plain this truth appears, Believing what we learned in tender years, Imbibed our doctrines with our infant food, And since have all vile heresies withstood, No matter what may be our faith or creed, Believe it true—no further proof we need— ’Tis all the same with Heathen, Christian, Jew, Their faiths’ inherited and must be true. And if you doubt, some miracle they quote That has been taught, as parrots learn, by rote. Mahomet’s coffin mounts towards the skies, Which proves his creed and all assaults defies. The angel Gabriel came to him one night, And led him up to heaven to prove his doctrines right. When he had through the seventh heaven passed, Which was the highest and the very last, He says he with the Great Eternal talked, And round His throne on blazing sapphire walked ; That hidden mysteries were there revealed, And thus was his prophetic mission sealed. All this the Mussulman through faith believes ; To doubt its truth he but himself deceives ; The faithful, too, must up to Mecca go, Or run the risk of everlasting woe, Tho’ thousands leave their weary bones to bleach, Before this place of pilgrimage they reach ; But ’tis their doctrine, and it must be done, If boxes are left to bleach beneath the sun ; ’Tis little use their doctrines to assail, To doubt or cavil is of no avail ; [page 32] Their fathers up to holy Mecca went, Believed Mahomet was God’s prophet sent, Could they be wrong? Impossible—absurd! The Koran doubt? what, God’s most holy word? O heretic, O infidel, thou doubly cursed! Of reprobates thou art the vilest—worst— Before their father’s holy faith they’ll leave, They’ll die as martyrs, but its truths believe. The wandering Jew, now scattered o’er the earth, Believes his creed denies Messiah’s birth ; A temporal prince expects to come and reign, Their scattered tribes restored to power again ; This mighty prince will then the world subdue And thus attest their ancient doctrines true. All christian nations have despised this race, And persecuted them from place to place. Was this the way to make the Jew believe That Christ had come, that he might ever live ? When so-called christians tracked him o’er the world, And flinched his gold, and curses at him hurled, Or in their rage their crimson heart’s-blood spilt, Their dagger plunging through them to the hilt, ’Twas quite enough to make them doubt He came, And hate and curse the christian’s very name. The heathen world still gropes in blackest night Bows down to idols, thinking they are right, With gods unnumbered scattered o’er the land, And pagan temples reared on every hand, The most disgusting rites they practise still, While heathen worshippers their temples fill, There spend their time in ribaldry and song, To please their gods, and thus their rites prolong; The learned Brahmin still his faith defends, And for its truth with wily art contends, Wards off all argument with subtle art, Determined never with his faith to part [page 33] ’Twas handed down for many thousand years, And nothing plainer to his mind appears. Now, in conclusion, we at Christians glance ; What various doctrines does each sect advance, They each the text to suit their views expound, And think they only have its meaning found, A gulf impassable they often fix Between themselves and all vile heretics ; They only are the holy and elect, No others need salvation o’er expect. Are not so many creeds a stumbling block ? How many souls have stranded on this rock ! Each pilot pointing out a different way, And each protesting none are right but they. What wonder that so many are inclined To doubt, when thus the blind but lead the blind. When shall we see that day of purer light, And cease to doubt, and know that we are right?
The Rose and Thistle
(On the occasion of the Marriage of the Princess Louise.)
THE Royal Rose and Scottish Thistle Now are twined together, The rose transplanted to the north, To bloom with Scottish heather. May gentle zephyrs fan the cheek Of this exotic flower, As it becomes the choicest plant In northern Scotia’s bower. [page 34] May Scotia’s soil receive this gift, A pledge of love intended, And may the Thistle and the Rose In unity be blended.
Ancient and Modern Toilets.
YOU little nymph of Venus, come, Till I arrange your toilet, And don’t let some unskilful chum Attempt, or they may spoil it. First, then, a tepid bath enjoy, And wash with nimble fingers, But don’t let laziness decoy, While any spot yet lingers. You’ll now stand forth as pure as Eve Did in that ancient garden ; No one could surely e’er believe You’d any sins to pardon. But since that time how things have changed ! Fig leaves are out of fashion ; A modern belle would go deranged, With but Eve’s dress to dash on. She now must have her flowing dress, Her satins, silks, and laces, Though she may think she’s born to bless, She sometimes has two faces. At least so say some crusty beaux, The matter never sifting, Who go through life unto its close, Like snags on rivers drifting, [page 35] Who never seek a rib to bless, Have no young child to dandle, No lovely Eve them to caress, So take to talking scandal. As I have said, the fashions change— I think ’tis for the better— The leaf would now appear so strange, I’m sure ’twould cause a titter. Some prudish miss might say she thought A modern dress much neater; But then, fair dames, it maters not, If bound by fashion’s fetter. It matters not what is the mode, From Eve’s to modern dresses; If but the goddess, Fashion, nod, The world at once caresses.
OUR life like a river flows on to the sea, The goal of our being,—whate’er it may be. Its source an enigma,—the future unknown, Each voyager must enter that ocean alone ; This swift flowing river is bearing us on, To-day is fast passing, and yesterday gone. But with “faith” for our pilot we safely will glide Down the stream of this life, with its turbulent tide, And the ocean before us our bark will receive, If we trust to our pilot, have faith, and believe. [page 36]
A Christmas Greeting.
ACCEPT this Christmas token, Emblem of faith unbroken, From your true, loving friend ; Tho’ distance doth us sever, May friendship endure, ever, And Christmas greetings blend.
The World is a Bubble.
THIS world is a bubble, And do as we may, We can’t avoid trouble, And always seem gay. This bubble we follow Till it melts in thin air And proves itself hollow, Tho’ it seems to be fair. Thus phantoms we’re chasing From childhood to age, And shadows embracing, Till we step from life’s stage. But “faith” points its finger To a better beyond, Where no phantom may linger And all is atoned. [page 37]
A New Year’s Greeting: to Miss Frances—
(In reply to a Christmas Card, with poems entitled “Chinese Christmas Feast of Lanterns.”)
FEAST OF LANTERNS, poem charming, Criticism quite disarming, Worthy of a Burns or Byron, Or a Hemans, sweetest siren. I wish to compliment the latter, But with no desire to flatter, For I like a lady poet, And I don’t care who may know it, Christmas, with its joyful greeting, Now is in the past retreating, While the New Year yet advances, May it dawn on you, Miss Frances, Every earthly blessing bringing, Ushered in by belles a-ringing, Door bells pulling, sleigh bells jingling, All in sweet confusion mingling ; Boys and girls—which not amiss is— Greeting with their New Year’s kisses ; No doubt you’ve a beau of promise, Charming, sweet, and dear Adonis, Who archly will be favors claiming (You know my meaning without naming), For rain-bows always heaven kiss, And never think of it, a Miss.
To Miss Rebecca—
WE read how Rebecca was found at the well, And made such good use of her pitcher, That Isaac was smitten, and deep in love fell, And made up his mind he would catch her. We know he succeeded, and happy they lived, Their example is oftentimes quoted, But if they had spats it must be believed, That mostly on “Becky” he doted. The moral is this : Your pitcher use right, And your Isaac you’ll hold with a spell, That time will not mar in its on rushing flight, Like Rebecca of old at the well.
A Paraphrase on the XIth Chapter of Ecclesiastes.
CAST thy bread upon the waters, It shall return in many days ; Give a portion to the needy, Seek not after human praise. If the clouds with rain are laden, It will fall upon the earth ; The tree remaineth where it falleth, Let it be to south or north. He that but the wind observeth, Shall his seed no longer sow, Or he that clouds regardeth, To reap his fields he need not go. [page 39] As thou knowest not the spirit How it works at nature’s call ; So his works thou never knowest, Of the God who formed us all. Sow they seed in early morning, At eventide stay not thy hand, Thou never knowest what shall prosper, This, or that, through all the land. Truly, light is sweet and pleasant, How good a thing to see the sun ; They eyes are gladdened by his shining As he his daily course doth run. But if man’s years, perchance, are many, And in them all he does rejoice ; Let him the darkness, too, remember, It to will come ; there is no choice. All is vain that ever cometh ; In thy youth rejoice young man, Let thy heart now always cheer thee, Walk in its ways thro’ youth’s short span. But know thou that the God who judgeth Will not fail to judgement bring ; All that thy young-eyes beholdest Is each a vain and useless thing. Therefore, put away thy sorrow, Put the evil far from thee ; All is vanity in childhood, And youth is also vanity. [page 40]
The Child in “Santa Claus” Believes.
THE child in “Santa Claus” believes, This fiction its young mind deceives, But, growing older, doubts invade, And soon within the tomb is laid, Which buries many a childish dream As we are carried down life’s stream. Thus, one by one, our idols perish, And age rejects what youth doth cherish; Will all our hopes like bubbles fair, Please for a time, then melt in air?
The Swell Loafer.
THE loafer is a nasty cus— Tomer, you often meet ; Go where you will, you’ll always find Him loafing round the street. He knows the news, is always up For gossip or to bore ; And if you turn a corner quick, He dodges round before. He likes a drink, is very fond Of smoking your cigar, Will tender you his sage advice On trade, finance, or war. A ladies’ man he often is, He struts and swings a cane ; His tailor’s bills, perhaps, unpaid, Tho’ dunned and dunned again. [page 41] His beaver just the angle is, His lady friends to please ; He thinks the most engaging cant Just forty-five degrees. This ani-mule I do detest, Perhaps this is not right ; Can you respect this cus— Tomer that loafs from morn till night ?
THERE is a class of women, In this enlightened land, Who say they’re born to govern, And now their rights demand; Declare they are degraded, By man’s unjust decree, Been kept behind the curtain, And now they will be free. Their number is increasing, Their banner is unfurled; “Womans Rights” their motto is, They flaunt it to the world. Their mode of dress is reckoned A symbol of their woes; Some don the “Bloomer” costume, While others want our clothes. [page 42] Miss Dickinson, their preacher, A female of renown, She stumps the great Republic, And lectures in each town: She says they want the franchise, So they can cast their vote. Or run for any office, And into power float. Their presence at elections, Would close the rowdy’s lips, Their wisdom in the Senate The other sex eclipse. Hurrah ! for rights of woman; Her banner is unfurled; Don’t dare to cross her pathway; She’s bound to rule the world!
IN Nature we see, o’er the wide world extended, The charms of its beauty in everything blended, The trees of the forest, the rivers in motion, Rolling their floods along to the ocean The beautiful women, the charming young ladies, Who dress in the “band,” which so good for our trade is, With panniers so ample, and skirts so extended. O, beautiful women! in dresses most splendid. Surely the ancients in chiseling a Venus, Didn’t know what addition dry goods to a queen is!
We Human Cards.
WE human cards are ever being shuffled, Each month and year is sure some change to bring; To-day we meet, each countenance unruffled, To-morrow’s round may snap life’s vital spring.
Lines for a Young Lady’s Album.
AN Album is a place where all Who think they have the talent, Their panegyric verses scrawl To show they’re each a gallant. The sense is lost to make the rhyme, A compliment is buried, In some discordant, senseless chime, For which its author worried. My muse is not upon the wing, Perhaps it is no pity, For I might do the self-same thing, And think myself quite witty. So I’ll lay down my prosy pen, Declare you are a beauty, There is more sense in this than when One rhythm from sense of duty. Pray don’t this declaration take As any part of rudeness; This plain confession which I make Accept, please have the goodness. [page 44]
Prologue, to a Temperance Concert.
TO-NIGHT we meet for music—not debate— Our choir will entertain you; if you’ll wait Till this brief prologue is addressed to you, To keep good order, hear the programme through, Don’t let applause o’erstep the bounds of reason, Advice now tendered at this proper season; We think it best to give this sage advice Before commencing, hoping ’twill suffice, And no disturbance mar our present meeting, These few remarks we make by way of greeting. We all should think the ladies of the choir For thus responding to the Club’s desire To give a concert and thus nobly aid The Temperance movement in our village made; These darling creatures, when they pull together, Can charm us out in fair or stormy weather, And, like the wand of some far-famed magician, Can rule our hearts and claim our meek submission; This frank confession we here make to-night And think such candor is but just and right; Who will not to their charms this tribute own, Should walk the dreary road of life alone. The fifteen cents you paid out at the door, You’ll get the worth of, and a good deal more; For music far outweighs in every sense So small a fee;—the choir will now commence. [page 45]
A New Dominion Song.
(As sung on a late festive occasion at Ottawa.)
A SONG I will sing of our fast rising nation, This terrible giant—to be—of the North, In war no doubt we can thrash all creation, Make Yankees surrender when our armies march forth. They can cage up their Eagle, quit their vain boasting, Our Canada Beaver, with a switch of his tail, Along with our Navy we’ll soon send a-coasting, Can destroy them on land, and sink every sail. In tactics of war we are all of us skilled, But we plume ourselves most on the art of retreat, In these masterly movements we are thoroughly drilled, And challenge the world our brave warriors to beat. Should the enemy dare our soldiers to follow, Then their fate would most surely be death and disgrace, Thro’ snow-banks they certainly never could wallow, We could take to our snow-shoes and win in the race. From proud Nova Scotia away to Vancouver, Our frontier is now a few thousand miles long, By railway our soldiers we now can send over, So fill up a bumper and join me in song. From Atlantic we stretch to the distant Pacific Away from Lake Erie to the frozen up pole, Our nation most surely will soon be terrific And the pride of each native possessing a soul. So hurrah for our flag, its emblem the beaver, This terror of nations we will fling to the gale, The crows of St. George waving with it forever, Stand aside when our beaver but switches his tail! [page 46]
The Maiden and the Rose.
I ASKED a sweet rose to answer me this, As I gazed on its beautiful bloom, With my maidenly lips I bestowed it a kiss, As its fragrance now spread thro’ the room. Canst tell me who was it that gave thee thy beauty, That made thee so lovely a rose, To watch thy unfolding considers its duty, Then trips off, as I come, I suppose. The rose answered back:—“To my Maker I trust, To grant me my beautiful bloom; He watches me always; so adore Him I must, ’Tis but incense I send thro’ the room.” This answer the blushes now brought to my cheek, My faith was then weak, I suppose, That through this sweet flower its Maker should speak, And I should thus learn of the rose.
Acrostic, to Miss Emma—
WHEN mother Eve the apple took, How foolish was old Adam, Oh, if he’d only cast a look, And said: “No thank you, madam.” Each girl would then an angel be, Much less the change in fashion, Most likely wings are all we’d see, A belle would have to dash on. [page 47]
Prologue, to a Masonic Supper.
(Given by the late T—W—, on the occasion of his being presented with a Past Master’s Jewel.)
AROUND the festive beard we meet again, To carve and eat these geese and turkeys slain, Prepared with highest culinary art, Each plump and savory in its every part, Each dish an altar from which smoke ascends, Our stomachs to appease, its fragrance lends, This unsubstantial air we sniff to-night, Which only whets our growing appetite. Not only geese and turkeys here abound, But every needed condiments is found, The choicest catsup and most spicy pickle Are here supplied, and will our palates tickle, With vegetables, too, in covered dishes, Will all be served to suit our varied wishes. The sideboard there its ponderous load reveals, And to our stomachs temptingly appeals; When this first course of meats is wholly through We’ll make a raid on those choice dishes, too, The knife and fork must conquer here to-night, If we remain till morning’s rosy light, A valley of Jehosaphat we’ll make it, And we can do so if we undertake it; The whitened bones shall strew this lengthy table, If every man but does what he is able; On your heroic courage we rely To nobly conquer or to nobly die. The flowing bowl shall go this table round With purest nectar in the fountain found, The crystal water must our deeds inspire And Adam’s ale our dropping courage fire. Our generous host who gives this sumptuous spread Sits like a hero at the table’s head; The English blood which courses through his veins [page 48] To strike his flag, or to succumb, disdains, A very Ajax in such battle fields, Will die in harness ere his spear he yields. Tho’ less in bulk we other warriors feel, We’ll meet the foe with polished, glittering steel, And metaphoric blood shall drench the plain, Ere we surrender or our vows profane. My prologue now is very nearly ended, I’ve said much more than I at first intended; To further tantalise your palates is a sin, Now to the charge ! with knife and fork—pitch in!
OUR Lives, what are they, but as empty dreams? Or flitting shadows soon to disappear? For quickly passes each revolving year, And looking backward but a vision seems, Yea, more than shadows, for the future gleams With radiant light from yonder rising sun, To guide us till our work on earth is done. With His effulgent and life-giving beams Our reason gives us but a feeble light, And boastful science cannot lift the veil, But leaves us groping in its rayless night, While all our hopes its votaries assail, But revelation sheds its light of glorious day, And drives these gloomy shadows all away. [page 49]
(On the Death of Longfellow.)
ANOTHER. Singer gone, and ‘round his bier The nations stand, and grateful homage pay, And lowly bending shed the mourners tear O’er the dead poet’s all unconscious clay, Who now is gone but yesterday was here, A noble singer of the deathless lay, Tho’ gone from sight, to mem’ry ever dear, His harp now tunnel in regions far away. But what is fame, and what is life at best ? A passing shadow or a soon told tale ; Awhile we mount the billow’s foaming crest, Or trim our sails to catch the fav’ring gale. How few there be who win a deathless fame, But of that few will be thy honored name.
THE Star of Empire rising in the East, Has westward through the ages slowly run, And now is hastening to the setting sun, With bones of nations strewn as from a feast, But our Dominion doomed not to be least, A mighty destiny has now begun, And half a continent to herself has won, And with the years her prestige is increased, Two oceans lave thy shores, and on thy brow The royal signet of our gracious queen [page 50] Who rules our hearts, and loyally we bow To noblest monarch that the world has seen ; The British drum is heard around the world, From East to West her glorious flag unfurled.
IN your Album, Miss Daisy, you ask me to write, With your wish I comply, but it bothers me quite To know what to say to a Daisy so fair, For what other flower with thee can compare? In chivalrous days the daisy was borne By ladies and knights in their tournaments worn, Of fidelity emblems and pledges of love ; May you, my dear Daisy, your faithfulness prove. As day follows night, and night succeeds day, And as years run their rounds and vanish away, May your thoughts to your “brother” in constancy run, As the daisy that watches the course of the sun. When spring-time is past and summer is gone, And autumn and winter creep stealthily on, May you, my sweet Daisy, continue to bloom, And may some fair daisy embellish my tomb. [page 51]
FAIR charmer, you ask an acrostic from me, And I fear you’ll be cross with the stick which you’ll see, No doubt but you think I’m a very cross stick, Now the subject is cross, so this subject I pick, I don’t mean you’re cross, ’tis the ’crostic I mean, Every one has some cross, as may plainly be seen. When across this fair page your name you may find, Be so good as to bear this cross stick in mind. Remember the stick I refer to aint you, I refer to the ’crostic so plainly in view. Now, with these remarks this Acrostic I’ll finish, Ever wishing your shadow may grow, not diminish.
The Queen’s Jubilee.
GOD bless our gracious queen, whose sea-girt throne, Three hundred million subjects shall defend, To thee they turn, from every clime and zone, And in this year their loyal greetings send. For Fifty years thy pure benignant reign Has shed its lustre, our devotion won, Thy path unsullied, and without a stain, From rising to the setting of the sun. Thou queen of monarchs, from whose lofty place How many tottering thrones hast thou surveyed, Rulers deposed, or vanquished in disgrace, And now within their narrow tombs are laid! Comment on greatness—in those fifty years No crown but thine now rests upon the brows [page 52] That ruled the world—when in thy maiden fears Thy prayers ascended with thy queenly vows. Those prayers are answered,—In thy people’s love The surest bulwark of thy throne is found, And round the world with loud acclaim will prove Thy empire in one brotherhood is bound. God bless our gracious queen, whose sea-girt throne Three hundred million subjects shall defend, To thee they turn from every clime and zone, And in this year their loyal greetings send.
Elegy on the Year 1888.
THE years, like mile-stones, which we pass, are gliding, But yesterday to Eighty-eight we bade adieu, The record which it carries is abiding, We cannot change it, whether false or true. Backward our faces may be turned, regretting, Perchance, how ill each one has done his part Within the year that just has had its setting, And left its record graven on each heart. The retrospect, to most, may not be pleasant, And but for future guidance vain must be ; The past is gone, we live but in the present, The future all is veiled in mystery. This century—now Eighty-eight—is waning, We write the figures Eighty-nine to-day, We cannot change them—vain is our complaining, And vain our wish the fleeting years to stay.
January 1st, 1889.
To Flossie—An Acrostic.
FROM small streams the rivers flow, Little girls to women grow, On the stream of life they’re borne, Some are happy, others mourn, Sunshine does not always last, In our path are shadows cast, Ere we know it, life is past.