Conclusion of Winter.—Draining the maple juice.—The quick and luxuriant vegetation of Spring.—Commencement of Summer.—A band of Indians.— Squaws.—Their dress and appearance described.—Indian mother and child.—Apostrophe to the Indian child.—Reflections on the disposition and attainments of the Indians contrasted with those of civilized nations.—A religious procession.—Character of the Canadian peasantry.




Pilgrim on earth! although the book of Fate
Thy page of life in gloomy hues pourtray,
Mourn not.—Its summer days, how short their date!
Its winter nights, how fast they fleet away!
Lo! from yon azure arch the orb of day

A downward beam o’er arctic regions throws,
Trembles the faithless ice beneath his sway,
Reflected from the wide expanse of snows,
Keen on the dazzled eye the bright effulgence glows.


Now while the frost still hangs on evening’s train,

And mild at morn the melting south-wind blows,
’Tis time the maple’s luscious juice to drain;
Sweet through the new-made wound the liquid flows.
The trees are pierced,—the vessels placed below,
Slow o’er th’ inserted wedge the sap distils,
Beneath the cauldron crackling faggots glow,
And thick’ning o’er the fire the sugar boils,
Guiltless its sweets, for here no wretched Lybian toils.



O’er the dark mead the eager cattle bend,
Where Autumn’s pale grass specks the melting snows,

The ice gives way,—the softning showers descend;
Wide o’er the land the genial moisture flows.
Fann’d by the southern breeze’s softest wing,
Beneath the ardent sun’s refulgent glow,
At once the various verdure of the Spring
Spreads o’er the vales, and bursts from every bough;
Gay in luxuriant white th’ extended orchards blow.


And ere the dawn of June’s resplendent morn
Has Nature’s hand her sweetest chaplet wove,
Mingled the lilac with the milk-white thorn,

And hung with op’ning blooms the wildest grove;
The yellow marshflower paints the swamps with gold,
O’er violet tufts the wood’s pale lilies blow,
The creeping strawberry its buds unfolds,
The wild vine winds around the poplar’s bough,
Th’ uncultured plum-tree spreads its wreaths of flowering snow.


Scenes gaily wild—though there the vernal bloom
With fleeting fragrance vanish’d from the eye;
Though fierce the radiance of the summer’s noon,
Sweet was the blush that tinged its orient sky,

As o’er the river’s undulating breast
The bright-hair’d Morn her dawning lustre threw,
And woodland isles in azure waves embraced,
Hill, spire, and cottage met the wand’ring view,
And fields where fragrance breathed, impearl’d with glist’ning dew.


While haply doom’d to see no second Spring,
The unconscious lamb the juicy herbage prest,
And the gay humming-bird on radiant wing
Hung o’er the towering sunflower’s golden breast,
And Labour, waking to his glad employ,

View’d with elated heart the prospect fair,
While Nature teem’d with life, and Love and Joy
Play’d o’er the earth and warbled in the air,
And still’d the throb of grief and chased the gloom of care.


Hark! ’tis their shout—and lo, in wild costume

The roving Indians’ tawny forms appear!
Waves through their sable locks the gaudy plume
Painted and arm’d—perchance the foe to dare,
And see—along the dusty road they pass—
Behind the warrior band a female train!
Daughters of Europe! though uncouth their guise,
Though they must bear the load and till the plain,
Yet look not,—gaze not here with undeserved disdain.


What though no zone in graceful folds confine
The short dark vest that hides her bosom’s swell,

Yet may that form a gentle heart enshrine,
Where spotless faith and mild affection dwell;
Though born to toil beneath an ardent sky,
No sweet vermilion blush her cheek adorn,
Yet feeling lightens in the Squaw’s dark eye;
Haply her bosom nobly knows to spurn
Your pity, should it blend th’ ungen’rous glance of scorn.



A while beneath an elm their steps they staid,
Then two approaching claim’d a nearer view,
Each in her hand her spell-wove wares display’d,

The box and basket dyed of various hue;
The one—her blanket thrown across her arm,
Her hat’s dark band a blushing wild rose stay’d,
Gay beam’d her glance with youth’s attractive charm,
Gay on her lip the smile of candour play’d;
Sedate the other’s mien beneath a beaver’s shade;


An olive blanket almost hid from view
Her form, yet well beneath its folds were seen,
The scarlet leggins edged with darker blue,
The tinsel fringe and pliant mocasin;

Back o’er her shoulders from her forehead hung,IV
What seem’d a basket deck’d with gaudy taste;
Gently her hand the leathern band unswung,
And gently on the floor the burden placed,
Shaded with flowing silk—with azure ribbon graced.


Softly aside the crimson veil she lays,
Removes the muslin deck’d with tinsel toy,
Still, still, unconscious of a stranger’s gaze,
He smiles through guiltless dreams, her slumbering boy!
Not on the cradle’s downy bed composed,

Nor softly pillow’d on his mother’s breast!
By thongs suspended, and with hoops inclosed,
Prison’d his little limbs,—his moveless waist
Close to th’unpliant board with circling fillets braced!



Ah! seldom hast thou known the sweet caress,

Clasp’d in the arms or dandled on the knee;
Yet if that eye’s dark glance her heart express,
With all a mother’s love she looks on thee.
Child of the hut! shall philanthropic breast
Lament thy present lot or future doom?
Peaceful thy bosom now and sweet thy rest;
But through the storms of passion yet to come,
What star shall gild thy path? what beam thy soul illume?


Shall mild Religion woo thee to be blest,
And chase the shades of Superstition drear,

Insidious Murder’s lifted arm arrest,
And drown Revenge in Mercy’s hallow’d tear?
Or civil life with all its soothing art,
The sweets of comfort round thy mansion strew?
Or Science ev’n her simplest truths impart,
To tell thy soul how former ages flew,
Or guide through Nature’s realms thy fond inquiring view?


Yet if to thee Heav’n’s noblest gift denied,
Not thine the guilt to cast that gift away;
Nor shalt thou at the shrine of Wealth or Pride,

For sordid int’rest, Friendship’s cause betray;
Nor learn to lock from Want’s imploring eye
The glitt’ring hoard by fav’ring fortune giv’n;
Nor in the cause of Infidelity,
By Passion’s voice from Truth to Error driv’n,
Strive in the mist of Doubt to veil the light from Heav’n.



And ah! though sad the doom their victims prove,
Yet Truth shall give thy forest race their due,
The praise of fearless courage, kindred love,
And patient fortitude, and friendship true.

And sure ungentle is the heart that e’er
Could to the wand’rer of these tribes deny
The welcome draught in Summer’s parching air,
Or nightly shelter from the wint’ry sky,
Or aught that Want can ask and Kindness well supply.


For through their woods if Europe’s sons have stray’d,
When falling night her shadowy curtains drew,
As deep’ning gloom involved the forest’s shade,
And thick around them rose the chilling dew;
Then,—if an Indian’s lowly hut appear’d

Has not its tenant’s hospitable care,
Soon as the ent’ring stranger’s voice was heard,
Renew’d the blaze, and bid the white man share
The wigwam’s shelt’ring roof—the hunter’s forest fare?


Yet "Europe’s race, and wild Columbia’s train,

Are haply creatures of a diff’rent mould."
Shame to th’ ungen’rous thought!—Has Heav’n in vain,
Told whence the spreading waves of Being roll’d?
Blest be th’ enlighten’d soul, in Lybia’s child,
Who sees a ruder form of kindred earth;
Nor spurns the tawny wand’rer of the wild;
Nor scorns to mark in form of forest birth,
The spark of native wit, or unembellish’d worth!



Unloose the band of fond fraternal love,
And who for Afric’s sable sons shall plead?

Or should the blood-hound scour yon western grove,
Who, who shall rise to bar the barb’rous deed?
Ages long lost return! in Britain’s isle
Hark! ’tis the human victim’s dismal groan,
See! ’tis the frantic Druid’s lurid smile,
Mark the wild native,—cheerless and alone,
The ties of civil life and all its joys unknown!


Rise, sons of Doubt!—the sacred page denied,
Say "These are beings of ignobler race."
Go with Expediency’s presumptuous pride,

And sweep the savage tribe from Nature’s face!
Truth sought the land, and Industry, and Art,
And Social Order in her train appear’d;
Reason the soul, and Rapture claim’d the heart,
Her guarded banner bright-eyed Freedom rear’d,
And Learning trimm’d her lamp, and Fancy’s harp was heard.


So where Columbia’s red-plumed warriors roam,
Rude and uncultured as their wildest grove;
As bright a beam may gild the forest’s gloom,
And Justice reign, and Art and Science rove.

Yes,—the bright vision of the hallow’d sage,
The loveliest form by poet’s pen pourtray’d,
Comes on the wings of Time—the blissful age,
When Peace and Love in lucid robes array’d,
Shall reign from Hoogly’s banks to Indiana’s shade.


The orient’s blush is lost, the air serene,
Th’ ascending sun has drunk the spangling dew,
And scarce a milk-white cloud is wand’ring seen,
To speck the face of Heav’n’s ethereal blue;
Tired of the blaze the cattle seek the stream,

Or crowd to rest beneath the spreading shade,
The breeze is hush’d;—but hark where chaunted hymn
And murmur’d prayer the list’ning ear invade,
And lo! a simple band wind slowly round the glade!


O thou! whose faith embraced a purer creed,

To whom a ray of clearer light was giv’n,
Firm in the hallow’d path of truth proceed,
And bless the kind mysterious care of Heav’n:
But though thy heart’s indignant feelings glow,
To trace the crimes of Rome’s tyrannic day,
While yet her power annull’d the dearest vow,
Wrested the sceptred monarch’s rightful sway,
Mock’d at the martyr’s groans, and bade a world obey:


Yet frown not here as the Canadian kneels,
Or joins the white-robed priest’s attendant train,

As past his fields the slow procession steals,
To thank th’ all-bounteous God, and bless the rising grain.
Nor with thy harshest censure brand the rite,
Perhaps their hearts with gratitude expand;
Who but the power that dwells in viewless light,
Can mark the chain of thought’s mysterious band?
’Tis His to hold the scales that suit no mortal hand.


Though still th’ enlighten’d soul may sigh to trace
The dark remains of fear, with error twined,
And all the dictates of the cloister’d race,

Stamp’d on th’ undoubting, unresisting mind;
Yet calm the peasant’s life, and dear his home,
Amid those scenes he pass’d life’s gayest day,
Roved o’er yon vales, and in that wild wood’s gloom,
Where now, perchance, his rambling children stray,
First pluckt the blushing plum and stript the nut-tree’s spray.


There too, when Winter spread the whit’ning shower,
And piercing frosts confirm’d his iron reign,
Braced round his warm capot the gay ceinture,
And led with infant pride his mimic traine;

And well I ween can Mem’ry paint the day,
When first his scythe assail’d yon flowery mead;
And how he sought, with evening’s twilight ray,
Her father’s bower, by youthful fancy led,
And woo’d, and won the fair that shares his rural shed.


Pleased as he views the moon’s nocturnal rays,
He knows not, dreams not, man of mortal birth
Has e’er explored the planet’s mystic maze,
Measured the sun’s bright orb, or spann’d the earth;
And as at wintry eve, or festal day,

The song, the game amuse his simple mind,
He joins the dance, he joins the choral lay,
To thoughtless mirth or vacant ease resign’d,
Sighs for no scene more gay, no pleasure more refined.


Nor may the tenant of these vallies vieIX

With the bold cossack, or the fierce hussar,
Nor all their ardour kindle in his eye,
Should martial glory woo to distant war;
Yet here when peals Invasion’s shrill alarm,
Her hostile squadrons still may meet the brave,
Nor fear nor sloth shall chain the peasant’s arm,
Summon’d his laws, his rights, his land to save,
Firm shall his step advance and keen his weapon wave.