The Emigrant.

by Alexander McLachlan





Land of mighty lake and forest!
Where the winter’s locks are hoarest;
Where the summer’s leaf is greenest;
And the winter’s bite the keenest;
Where the autumn’s leaf is searest;

And her parting smile the dearest;
Where the tempest rushes forth,
From his caverns of the north;
With the lightnings of his wrath,
Sweeping forests from his path;

Where the cataract stupendous,
Lifteth up her voice tremendous;
Where uncultivated nature,
Rears her pines of giant stature;
Sows her jagged hemlocks o’er,

Thick as bristles on the boar;
Plants the stately elm and oak,
Firmly in the iron rock;
Where the crane her course is steering;
And the eagle is careering;

Where the gentle deer are bounding,
And the woodman’s axe resounding;
Land of mighty lake and river,
To our hearts thou’rt dear forever!

Thou art not a land of story;

Thou art not a land of glory; [Page 11]
No tradition, tale, nor song,
To thine ancient woods belong;
No long line of bards and sages,
Looking to us down the ages;

No old heroes sweeping by,
In their warlike panoply;
Yet heroic deeds are done,
Where no battle’s lost or won;
In the cottage in the woods,

In the lonely solitudes;
Pledges of affection given,
That will be redeemed in heaven.
Why seek in a foreign land,
For the theme that’s close at hand;

Human nature can be seen,
Here within the forest green;
Let us wander where we will,
There’s a world of good and ill.
Poetry is every where,

In the common earth and air,
In the pen, and in the stall,
In the hyssop on the wall,
In the wandering Arab’s tent,
In the backwoods settlement;

Have we but the hearing ear,
It is always whispering near,
Have we but the heart to feel it,
All the world will reveal it. [Page 12]





Let us sit upon this stone,
With its gray moss overgrown;
And we’ll talk about the past,
For I’m left the very last,

Of that simple hardy race,

Who first settled in this place;
At whose stroke the forest fell,

And the sound of Sabbath bell
Startled desolation’s brood,
In the trackless solitude.



Half a century has rolled,
With its burdens manifold;
Since I left my home so dear,
And came a young adventurer here;
Many faces fortune wears,

In the space of fifty years,
Strange mutations, smiles and frowns,

Unexpected ups and downs.
Oh what crowds have crossed the path
To the rendezvous of death,

Men so mighty in their day,
Gone to nothingness away,

What great teachers and their schools,
Prophets time has proven fools. [Page 13]
Transcendental meteors high,

That have faded from the sky;
Tho’ the fashion of a day,
Gone like shadows all away.


Fifty years have passed away,
Fifty years this very day,

Since I left at fortune’s call,
Friends and fatherland and all;
I was then a happy boy,
Earth a scene of hope and joy;
I have now grown old and gray,

Yet it seems but yesterday;
Every circumstance comes back,
O’er that long and weary track;
Friends the loving and true hearted,
Who have long with death departed;

Crowd around me in the dell,
Where I bade them all farewell.


It was a lovely morn in spring,
The lark was high upon the wing,
The bonnie bells in clusters blue,

The gowan wi’ its drap o’dew,
The cowslip and the primrose pale,
Were forth in Cartha’s lovely vale;
Ah there they were so chaste and meek,
Not silent tho’ they did not speak;

It seemed to me as if they knew,
I came to bid them all adieu;
For we had been companions dear,
And could not part without a tear,
And Cartha had a mournful voice,

She did not as of old rejoice; [Page 14]
And vale and mountain, flower and tree,
Were looking sadly upon me;
For oh! there is a nameless tie,
A strange mysterious sympathy,

Between us and material things,
Which into close communion brings
Our spirits with the unseen power,
Which looks from every tree and flower.
There was the bonnie bush of broom,

Just opening into golden bloom,
Beneath whose tassels many a day,
I listened to the blackbird’s lay;
Yonder the mountains looming through,
Benlomond towering in the blue,

How kingly! tho’ his forehead wears,
The furrows of six thousand years.
Oh! how I loved those mountains gray,
Which pass not like man’s works away;
But are forever seated there,

Old monarchs on their thrones of air;
And were they not the first to draw
From out my soul the sigh of awe,
Till down the mighty shadows came,
And lifted me aloft to them;

And seated with the monarchs there,
Above this little world of care,
My spirit burst the bounds of time,
And revelled in the realms sublime;
And now it seemed they closer drew,

As if to bid me all adieu.


There are things in memory set,
Things we never can forget,
Still I see the very spot,
Close beside our lowly cot,

Where my grandsire old and gray, [Page 15]
Blessed be his memory,
While upon his staff he bent,
Thus he blest me ere I went.


“Your journey’s but beginning now,
While mine is nearly ending,
Thou’rt starting up the hill of life,
I to the grave descending;
With thee ‘tis bright and buoyant spring,
With me ‘tis dark December,

And my injunctions, O my son,
I’d have thee to remember.

“I’ve seen in three score years and ten,
    So many strange mutations,
So many sides of fortune’s face,

    To families and nations;
I’ve learned to know she can’t be caught,
    By whip, by spur, or bridle,
She is not caught by running fast,
    Nor yet by standing idle.


“While she within thy hopeful heart,
    Her wondrous tale rehearses,
In noting all be sure and leave,
    A margin for reverses;
Should’st thou be rich, trust not in wealth,

    From thee it may be taken,
But if you put your trust in God,
    You’ll never be forsaken.

“Men toil to reach the earthly heights,
    From which by death they’re hurl’d,

Be thine ambition what you’d not
    Exchange for all the world;
Should’st thou be poor sit not and sigh, [Page 16]
    Nor deem yourself neglected,
The kindest lift that ere I got,

    Was when I least expected.

“Grieve not at the decrees of fate,
    Though they may be distressing,
A blessing’s mixed with every woe,
    A woe with every blessing;

The hollow’s close beside the height,
    Whenever much is given,
Something or other is withheld,
    To bring the balance even.

“Look fate and fortune in the face,

    In that there’s worth and merit,
The greatest poverty on earth,
    Is poverty of spirit;
Have aye some object in your view,
    And steadily pursue it,

Nor grow faint?hearted come what may,
    But like a man stick to it.

“Hope not to find a good on earth,
    But what you’ll have to pay for,
The fruit that drops into the mouth,

    Is aye devoid of flavour;
If thou wilt lean on any man,
    All nature will upbraid thee,
Then trust but to thine own right arm,
    And to the God who made thee.


“Strive manfully in every strait,
    And after you have striven,
With clean hands and an upright heart,
    Leave the result to heaven.
Profess to be but what thou art,

    Avoid all affectation, [Page 17]
If thou art truth’s thou sitt’st upon
    A rock of deep foundation.

“Be guided by your sense of right,
    Where scripture may not aid you,
For that’s the ray from heaven direct,
    The light from Him who made you.
Philosophers are all afloat
    Upon a sea of troubles,
They dash like waves against the rock,

    To give but birth to bubbles.

“They cannot tell us whence we came,
    Or why we were sent hither,
But leave us hopeless in the end,
    To go we know not whither.

Trust not in knowledge, small indeed
    Is all that we can gather,
But always ask the guidance of
    The universal Father.

“There’s much which we must teach ourselves,

    Which is not taught at college,
Without a sympathetic soul,
    How vain is all our knowledge.
Be charitable when you speak
    Of man and human nature;

Who finds no worth in human hearts,
    Must be a worthless creature.

“If you would have your brother’s love,
    Then you must love your brother;
Heart leaps to heart the world o’er,

    Affections draw each other.
Then cherish still within your breast,
    Affection’s sacred blossom,
Strive to be rich enough to keep
    A heart within your bosom.
[Page 18]

“Farewell, my son, we meet no more,
    The angel death, which gathers
The green and ripe must shortly come,
    And take me to my fathers.
Farewell, may heaven be the height

    To which you would aspire,
And think at times, when far away,
    Upon your old grandsire.” [Page 19]




In the good ship “Edward Thorn,”
We were o’er the billows borne,
A motley company were we,
Sailing o’er that weary sea.
Many from their homes had fled,

For they had denied them bread;
Some from sorrow and distress,
Others from mere restlessness,
Some because their hopes were high,
Others for—they knew not why,

Some because they longed to see
The promised land of liberty.



There was doubting John the teacher,
Spouting Tom, nicknamed the preacher,
General John, the mechanician,

Lean lank Tom, the politician,
Lazy Bill, the bad news bringer,
Little Mac, the jocund singer.
There was Aleck the divine,
Bristly as the porcupine.

There was fighting Bill from Kent,
Always upon mischief bent,
Wives and children three or four,
With youths and maidens half a score, [Page 20]
And lastly tall orator John,

Always thoughtful and alone.
A motley crew as ever went
To form a backwoods settlement.


When the winds were all asleep
On the bosom of the deep,

Not a breath the sails to fill,
And the vessel lay as still
On the bosom of the deep,
“As a sea god fast asleep,”
Some would hang around the deck

Telling tales of storm and wreck,
Others through the smile and tear,
Talked of the land they loved so dear,
Or told the tale of deep distress,
Of hungry, hopeless, wretchedness,

Which made them ocean’s dangers brave,
To seek a home beyond the wave.
Then to singing Tom would start,
As he said to ease his heart,
In a rude and boisterous vein,

He would thunder out this strain.


Old England is eaten by knaves,
    Yet her heart is all right at the core,
May she ne’er be the mother of slaves,
    Nor a foreign foe land on her shore.


I love my own country and race,
    Nor lightly I fled from them both,
Yet who would remain in a place
    Where there’s too many spoons for the broth. [Page 21]

The squire’s preserving his game.
    He says that God gave it to him,
And he’ll banish the poor without shame,
    For touching a feather or limb.

The Justice he feels very big,
    And boasts what the law can secure,

But has two different laws in his wig,
    Which he keeps for the rich and the poor.

The Bishop he preaches and prays,
    And talks of a heavenly birth,
But somehow, for all that he says,

    He grabs a good share of the earth.

Old England is eaten by knaves,
    Yet her heart is all right at the core,
May she ne’er be the mother of slaves,
    Nor a foreign foe land on her shore.



Then little Mac would sing the lays,
Of Scotia’s bonnie woods and braes,
Of hoary hills, of dashing streams,
Of lone rocks where the eagle screams;
Of primrose banks and gowany glens,

Of broomy knowes and hawthorn dens,
Of burnsides where the linnet’s lay,
Is heard the lee lang summer’s day,
The scenes which many a simple song,
Still peoples with an airy throng;

And still we hear them tell their tale,
In every strath and stream and vale,
In swells of love, in gusts of woe,
Which thrilled my heart so long ago,
And mournful groups around him hung,

Sadly sighing as he sung; [Page 22]
And eyes grew dim, and hearts did swell,
While thus he sung his last farewell.

    Farewell Caledonia,
        My country farewell!

    Adieu every scarred cliff,
        And lone rocky fell,
    Your dark peaks are fading
        Away from my view,
    And I ne’er thought I loved you

        So dearly till noo;
    For fortune does chase me
        Across the wild main
    And the blue hills of Scotland
        I’ll ne’er see again.
    Farewell lovely Leven,
        Thou vale of my heart,
    ‘Twas hard frae the hame o’
        My childhood to part.
    Our lowly thatched cottage,
        Which stands by the mill,
    The green where we gambolled,
        The church on the hill;
    I loved you, sweet valley,
        In sunshine and rain,
    But oh I shall never
        Behold you again.

    How bright were my mornings,
        My evenings how calm,
    I rose wi’ the laverock,
        Lay down wi’ the lamb;
    Was blithe as the lintie
        That sings on the tree,
    And licht as the goudspink
        That lilts on the lee;
    But tears, sighs and sorrow
        Are foolish and vain, [Page 23]
    For the heart?light o’childhood
        Returns not again.

    O sad was the morning
        When I cam awa’,
    And big were the tears frae
        My e’en that did fa’;
    My mother was weepin’,
        My father was wae,

    And farewell, my laddie,
        Was a’ they could say;
    While the tears o’er their haffets
        Were fa’in like rain,
    For they thocht that they never

        Would see me again.

    Awa’ frae our cottage,
        I tried then to steal,
    But friens gathered round me
        To bid me fareweel;

    E’en Towser cam forth wi’
        A sorrowfu’ whine,
    And the auld women said
        ‘Twas a sorrowfu’ sign;
    It spak o’disaster,

        O’ sorrow and pain,
    And the blue hills o’ Scotland
        I’d ne’er see again.

    And then when I tarried,
        And mournfully took,

    Of all the loved scenes my
        Last sorrowfu’ look,
    The hills gathered round me,
        As if to embrace,
    And the bonnie wee gowans

        Looked up in my face;
    While the birds ‘mang the branches,
        In sorrowfu’ strain, [Page 24]
    Sang oh no, ye’ll never
        See Scotland again.
[Page 25]




The weary world of waters past,
In Canada arrived at last,
Pioneers of civilization,
Founders of a mighty nation;
Soon we entered in the woods,

On the trackless solitudes,
Where the spruce and cedar made
An interminable shade;
And the pine and hemlock stood,
Monarchs of the solitude,

And we picked our way along,
Sometimes right and sometimes wrong;
For a long and weary day,
Thus we journeyed on our way,
Picked a path through swale and swamp,

And at evening fixed our camp;
Where a lovely little spring,
Murmured like a living thing,
And like charity I ween,
Tracking all its path with green;

Underneath a birchen tree,
Down we sat right cheerfully;
Then of boughs a fire we made;
Gipsies in the greenwood shade,
Hunters in the forest free,

Never camped more cheerfully;
And the woods with echoes rung,
While in concert thus we sung. [Page 26]


O come to the greenwood shade,
    Away from the city’s din,

From the heartless strife of trade,
    And the fumes of beer and gin;
Where Commerce spreads her fleets,
    Where bloated luxury lies,
And Want as she prowls the streets,

    Looks on with her wolfish eyes.

From the city with its sin,
    And its many coloured code,
Its palaces raised to gin,
    And its temples reared to God;

Its cellars dark and dank,
    Where never a sunbeam falls,
Amid faces lean and lank,
    As the hungry-looking walls.

Its festering pits of woe,

    Its teeming earthly hells,
Whose surges ever flow,
    In sound of the Sabbath bells;
Oh! God, I would rather be
    An Indian in the wood,

And range through the forest free,
    In search of my daily food.

O rather would I pursue,
    The wolf and the grisly bear,
Than toil for the thankless few,

    In those seething pits of care;
Here winter’s breath is rude,
    And his fingers cold and wan,
But what is his wildest mood,
    To the tyranny of man?
[Page 27]
To the trackless forest wild,
    To the loneliest abode,
O! the heart is reconciled,
    That has felt oppression’s load;
The desert place is bright,

    The wilderness is fair,
If Hope but shed her light,
    If Freedom be but there.


Singing thus we circled round,
All beyond was gloom profound,

And the flame upon us threw,
Something of a spectral hue;
‘Twas a scene so wild and quaint,
Salvator would have loved to paint;
But ere long with sleep oppressed,

There we laid us down to rest;
With the cold earth for our bed,
And the green boughs overhead;
And again at break of day,
Started on our weary way;

Through morasses, over bogs,
Wading rivers, crossing logs,
Scrambling over fallen trees,
Wading pond holes to the knees;
Sometimes wandering from the track;

And to find it turning back;
Scorning ills that would betide us,
Stout hearts and the sun to guide us.


Then there came a change of scene,
Groves of beech and maple green,

Streams that murmured through the glade,
Little flowers that loved the shade, [Page 28]
Lovely birds of gorgeous dye,
Flitted ‘mong the branches high,
Coloured like the setting sun,

But were songless every one;
No one like the linnet gray,
In our home so far away;
No one singing like the thrush,
To his mate within the bush;

No one like the gentle lark,
Singing between light and dark;
Soaring from the dewy sod,
Like a herald up to God.
Some had lovely amber wings,

Round their necks were golden rings;
Some were purple, others blue,
All were lovely, strange and new;
But although surpassing fair,
Still the song was wanting there;

Then we heard the rush of pigeons,
Flocking to those lonely regions;
And anon when all was still,
Paused to hear the whip?poor?will;
And we thought of the cuckoo,

But this stranger no one knew.


Circling round a little lake,
Where the deer their thirst would slake,
Suddenly a lovely hind,
Started up and snuffed the wind;

Instantly bold Bill from Kent,
Through its brain a bullet sent;
The creature made a desperate leap,
With a cry so wild and deep,
Tried to make another bound,

Reeled and sank upon the ground
And the sound the rifle made, [Page 29]
Woke the herd within the shade,
We could plainly hear them rush,
Through the leaves and underbrush,

Fled afar the startled quail,
And the partridge with her fan-like tail,
Whirring past with all her brood,
Sought a deeper solitude.


There the gentle thing lay dead,
With a deep gash in its head,
And its face and nostrils o’er,
Spattered with the reeking gore,
There she lay, the lovely hind,
She who could outstrip the wind,

She the beauty of the wood,
Slaughtered thus to be our food.


Then we journeyed on our way,
And with the declining day,
Hailed with joy the promised lot,

Sat down on this very spot;
Saw Ontario wind her way,
Round yon still secluded bay;
Then it was a lonely scene,
Where man’s foot had never been.

Now it is a busy mart,
Filled with many a thing of art,
And I love to sit and trace,
Changes that have taken place;
Not a landmark does remain,

Not a feature seems the same;
My companions, where are they?
One by one they dropped away, [Page 30]
And of all I’m left the last,
Thus to chronicle the past.
[Page 31]




Then to work we blithely went,
And we soon got up a tent,
On a point round which the lake,
Wound like an enormous snake,
As if it would bind it fast.

Then it stretched away at last,
Till in the horizon lost,
Swallowed in its cloud built coast.


There our humble tent was spread,
With the green boughs overhead,

Such as wandering Arabs rear,
In their deserts lone and drear;
‘Twas a temporary thing,
Yet it made our hearts to sing.
And the wild duck floating by,

Paused, and with a startled cry,
Called her scattered brood to save,
Then she dived beneath the wave;
And the crane that would alight,
Screamed at the unlooked for sight,

And like a bewildered thing,
Lakeward bent her heavy wing;
And the stag that came to drink,
Downward to the water’s brink, [Page 32]
Showed his branching head, and then

Bounded to the woods again.

We were awkward at the axe,
And the trees were stubborn facts;
I mind a sturdy elm well,
‘Twas the first we tried to fell,

I could point you out I trow,
The very spot whereon it grew;
At it we together went,
‘Twas a kind of sacrament;
Like to laying the foundation,

Of a city or a nation;
But the sturdy giant stood,
Let us strike him as we would,
Not a limb nor branch did quiver,
There he stood as straight as ever.



While we laboured lazy Bill,
On a rotten log sat still,
There he sat and shook his head,
And in doleful accents said:
“Oh this chopping’s horrid work,

Even for a barbarous Turk,
Many a doleful day of gloom,
I have groaned upon the loom,
Oh, that was a weary curse,
But this chopping’s worse and worse!

Sleep will heal the wretch’s woes,
Longest days draw to a close;
Time and tide will hurry past,
Looked for long will come at last.
Whigs may wear a cheerful face,

Even when they’re out of place; [Page 33]
Tories cease to rule the roast—
Britain learn to count the cost;
Radicals may yet have power—
Britain perish in an hour;
Yankees cease their boasting, too,
Who can tell what time may do?
That would be a miracle,
Yet the thing is possible;
There is even room to hope

For the Devil and the Pope—
Changes strange we all may see,
But we’ll never fell that tree!“


He had just repeated never,
When the limbs began to quiver,

And a rent which made us start
Seemed to split the giant’s heart;
And the branches, one and all,
Seemed preparing for the fall—
Swayed a moment to and fro,

As in doubt which way to go,
Then his head he gently bent,
All at once away he went—
Down he came as loud as thunder,
Crushing limbs and brushwood under.



And we gazed upon the sight
With the consciousness of might;
And we cheered as when a foe
Or a tyrant is laid low.
Then the orator, elated,

On the stump got elevated,
And, without premeditation,
Thus began a long oration:—
[Page 34]


   “Invaders of the ancient woods,
These dark primeval solitudes,

Where the prowling wolf and bear,
Time unknown have made their lair,
We are God-commissioned here,
That howling wilderness to clear,
Till with joy it overflows

Blooms and blossoms like the rose!

   “Trees, of which the poet sings,
May be very pretty things;
And these green-arched solitudes
Where no traveller intrudes—
May be fine, I do not doubt,
Just to sit and sing about.
Sentiment’s for those at ease,
But, I fear, it fells no trees;
Not the sentimental tear,

The strong arm is needed here—
Stout hearts and determined will
Don’t give up like brother Bill;
Not by wringing of the hands
We will win the fertile lands,

But by honest manly toil,
Lords we shall be of the soil.
He who would in aught be great,
He must toil and he must wait.
Favors drop not from the skies—

Perseverance gains the prize;
Hear ye what the sages say—
‘Rome was not built in a day.’
With these giants bending o’er us
We have work enough before us;

Let us tramp on doubt and fear,
Work must be the watchword here.
[Page 35]

   “’Tis too soon to count the winning
Yet we’ve made a good beginning;
And, you know, the half is done

When a job is well begun,
Success crowns the persevering,
By and bye we’ll have a clearing.
There’s one giant overcast,
Stubborn, but he fell at last;
There he lies, like Cæsar slain,
And he’ll never rise again.
Cæsar’s mantle could not show
Half as many stabs I trow,
When stern Brutus o’er him stood

With the dagger dripping blood.
I’m no seer, yet I can see
From the felling of a tree,
Greater consequences rise
E’en than when a Cæsar dies!

He who’d be a patriot now,
Sweat, not blood, must bathe his brow;
Like a patriotic band,
Let us all join heart and hand,
Joying in each other’s success,

Winking at each other’s weakness.
Let us use but common sense,
With industry and temperance,
And God’s blessing can be got,
Even for the asking o’t;

And with these we’ll hardly miss
Health and wealth and happiness.”


When the speech drew to a close,
Slowly doubting, John arose,
Gave a quiet cough, and then

Saying, “Listen, fellow men, [Page 36]
Pay attention and I will
Speak to you a parable:—


   “In the days long, long ago,
Ere the world was filled with woe,

In a lone, retired place,
Lived a simple, honest race;
They were ignorant of art,
Yet they had far more of heart
Than the people now a days,

With their dark and crooked ways;
They gave power and place to no man,
And had every thing in common;
No one said this is mine own—
Money was a thing unknown;

No lawgiver and no pelf,
Each a law was to himself.
They had neither high nor low,
Rich nor poor; they did not know
Such distinctions ere could be,

Such was their simplicity.
Yea, they were a happy band,
Cultivating their own land;
Herds and flocks did fast increase,
And they ate their bread in peace.

Now my inference is plain,
What has been might be again.
Just compare their simple ways
With the doings in our days,
Every man is for himself,

Hunting after power and pelf;
Not a moment can he rest—
Grasping like a thing possessed;
Running, racing, here and there,
Up and down and everywhere,

Hunting for the root of evil, [Page 37]
Restless as the very devil—
He’ll do aught to gain his end,
Kiss a foe or stab a friend;
He’ll be either rude or civil,
Play the saint, or play the Devil.
Neither scrupulous nor nice,
He follows skinflint’s last advice;
It is short, and soon repeated,
Simply “cheat or ye’ll be cheated;

A’ moral creeds are strings o’ bleathers,
The world’s a goose, pluck ye her feathers;
Nae matter how ye rax and draw,
If ye aye keep within the law;
And ye may lie, and dodge and wheel,

A’s fair as lang’s ye dinna steal;
And be ye either saint or sinner,
A’s richt as lang as ye’re the winner:
But get cash if ye can come at it,
By fair means, but be sure and get it

   “Now, my friends, ‘tis clear as day,
If we choose the proper way:
Like the tree we’ve now laid low,
We might conquer vice and woe;
I can see no reason why

We might not unite and try,
Like those simple men of old,
To redeem the world from gold;
Each for all, and all for each,
Is the doctrine that I preach;

Mind the fable of the wands,
‘Tis a fact that always stands;
Singly, we are poor and weak,
But united, who can break.” [Page 38]



The little log cabin is far in the woods,
    And the foot of the wayfarer seldom comes there;
Around it are stretching the great solitudes,
    Where the deer love to roam, and the wolf makes his lair,
And the red man crawls on the surly bear,

    And the dead tree falls with a heavy crash,
And the jagged hemlock and pine are there,
    And the dismal swamp and the dreary ash,
    And the eagle sits watching the moment to dash.

And the roving son of the wilderness,

    While tracking the steps of the gentle deer,
The little log cabin will seldom miss,
    For the ringing sound of the axe he’ll hear,
And he comes to taste of its welcome cheer;
    And the children who once would gaze in affright,

When they see his shaggy wolf dog appear,
    Will run out to meet him with wild delight,
    And the heart of the savage is tamed at the sight.

The little log cabin is all alone,
    Its windows are rude, and its walls are bare,

And the wind without has a weary moan;
    Yet peace like an angel is nestling there,
And Hope with her rapt uplifted air,
    Beholds in the distance the eglantine,
And the corn with its silver tassel where

    The hemlock is anchored beside the tall pine,
    And the creeping weed hangs with its long fringing vine.
    [Page 39]

And close by the cabin tho’ hid in the wood,
    Ontario lies like a mirror of blue,
Where the children hunt the wild duck’s brood,

    And scare the tall crane and the lonely mew;
And the eldest has fashioned a light canoe,
    And with noisome glee they paddle along,
Or dash for the cliff where the eagle flew,
    Or sing in their gladness the fisherman’s song,

    Till they waken the echoes the greenwoods among.


  All was speed and bustle now,
Hurry sat on every brow,
Nought was heard upon the breeze,
But the sound of falling trees;

  Rough logs over streams were laid,
Cabins built and pathways made;
Little openings here and there,
Patches to the sun laid bare,
Growing larger every day;

  Merrily time sped away,
Troubles had we not a few,
For the work was strange and new;
Mishaps neither few nor small,
Yet we bore above them all.


  Then a change came o’er the scene,
The forest doffed her garb of green,
For a tawny brown attire,
Streaked with grey, and gold and fire.
The wind moaned like a thing bereft,

  And the little blue bird left;
And the wild fowl of the lake,
Sought the shelter of the brake;
The humming bird was seen no more, [Page 40]
And the pigeon southward bore.

  And the robin and the jay,
With the flowers had passed away;
Of a change all nature spoke,
And the heavens were swathed in smoke;
The sun a hazy circle drew,

  And his bloody eye looked through.
Thus the Indian summer ended,
And the sleety showers descended,
And the trees were stript at last,
And the snow fell thick and fast,

  And the lake with sullen roar,
Dashed her foam upon the shore;
And the wind in angry mood,
Swept the leafless solitude.


  Then the wolves their visits paid us,
  Nightly came to serenade us;
In the middle of the night,
I have started with affright,
For there were around my dwelling,
More than fifty demons yelling;

  I could plainly hear them tramp,
Round the border of the swamp;
I have looked into the dark,
Tried to make old Towser bark:
He would only fawn and whine,
  While the terror?stricken swine,
Ran around like things insane;
And the sheep, in fear and pain,
Huddled all within a nook—
How they trembled and they shook;

  And the frightened cattle bore
Close and closer to the door;
I could see the savage eyes,
Flashing there like fire-flies,— [Page 41]
Then I’d hear a long drawn howl,

  Then a little snappish growl,
Then a silence deep as death,
Till the furies drew their breath,
Then above the voice of boreas,
Fifty demons joined the chorus;

  Thus they’d keep till dawn of day,
Then they’d scamper all away.


  Tho’ winter was long and dreary,
We were hopeful, we were cheery,
We had many merry meetings,
  Social gatherings, kindly greetings;
To the wall the log was laid,
And a roaring fire was made;
Tho’ the storm might rave without,
We were blithe with song about;

  Then the youths would tell their stories,
With the maidens’ laugh for chorus:
Of the hunting of the ‘coon,
All beneath the Autumn moon;
Of the logging in the fall—

  Of oxen terrible to haul;
Of the mighty chopping match,
Gained but by a single natch.
Thus the time would steal along,
With the tale and with the song

  Little Mac would sit and sing;
Till the very roof would ring.


  I ask not for fortune,
    I ask not for wealth;
But give me the cabin,

      With freedom and health; [Page 42]
With some one to love me—
    Joy’s roses to wreathe;
With no one above me,
    And no one beneath.

Let tools be officious,
    And flatter the great;
Let knaves be ambitious
    To rule in the State:
Give alms to the needy,

      Give fame to the fool;
Give gold to the greedy—
    Let Bonaparte rule.

But give me the cabin,
    Tho’ far, far apart;

  I’ll make it love’s dwelling—
    The home of the heart.
With some one to love me—
    Joy’s roses to wreathe;
With no one above me,

      And no one beneath.


  Then we’d cheer him loud and long,
For the jolly hunter’s song;
Who, while roving in the shade,
Wooed and won the Indian Maid.



  O come my love! O come with me
    To my sweet home afar;
This arm will guard—no guide need we,
    Save yonder evening star.
I am not of thy clime nor creed,
[Page 43]
      But be not thence afraid:
Love makes these accidents, indeed,
    My pretty Indian Maid!

Thine eyebrow is the vault of night—
    Thy cheek the dusk of dawn;

  And thy dark eye a world of light—
    My pretty bounding fawn!
I’ll deck thy hair with jewels rare—
    Thy neck with rich brocade;
And in my heart of hearts I’ll wear

      My pretty Indian Maid!

Then come, my love, O come with me,
    And ere the braves awake,
Our bark will bound like arrow free
    Across the mighty lake;

  Where faces pale will welcome thee,
Sweet flow’ret of the shade,
And of my bower thou’lt lady be—
My lovely Indian Maid!


  Then the elder ones would tell
  Of the great things that befel;
Of the feats unsaid—unsung—
In the days when they were young;
Of the worth existing then—
Maidens fair and mighty men:

  Or they’d sing the ballad rhymes—
Histories of other times;
Of the manners past away,
Living in the minstrel’s lay:
Gil Morice, the Earl’s son;

  Chevy-Chase so dearly won.
It may be that I’m growing old,
Or that my heart is turning cold;[Page 44]
Or that my ear is falsely strung,
Or wedded to my native tongue;

  Yet those strains so void of art,—
Those old gushings of the heart,
Heaving, swelling, like the sea,
With the soul of poetry;

They must live within the breast,
  ‘Till this weary heart’s at rest;
And our tears would fall like rain,
List’ning to old Aunty Jane,
While in mournful tones she’d sing
The ballad of the Gipsy King:—



  “Lord Sempill’s mounted on his steed,
    And to the greenwood gane;
The Gipsy steals to the wicket gate,
    And whispers Lady Jane.
The lark is high in heaven above,
      But his lay she does not hear,
For her heaving heart is racked with love,
    With hope, with doubt, and fear.

“‘Thy father’s halls are fair and wide,
    The Sempill woods are green;

  But love can smile, O sweeter far,
    In a Gipsy tent, I ween;
The crawflower hangs by Cartha’s side,
    The rose by Elderslie,
The primrose by the bank of Clyde,

      The heather bell on Dee.

“‘But I’ve built our bower beside the Gryffe,
    Where hangs the hinny pear;
For I’ve seen no spot in my roving life
    To match the vale of Weir.’ [Page 45]

  The sweet flowers drink the crystal dew,
    The bonnie wee birds sing,
But she hears them not, as off she flies,
    Away with the Gipsy King!

“But the false page hurries to my Lord,

      And the tale to him doth bear;
He swears an oath, as he dashes off,
    And away to the vale of Weir.
The day fades o’er the Lomonds green,
    But gloamin’s hour is long;

  He lights him at the Gipsy’s tent,
    And mars the bridal song.

“‘You’ve stolen the pride of my house and heart,
    With thy spells and magic ring;
Thy head goes at my saddle bow,
      Wert thou thrice a Gipsy King.’”
“‘I used no spell but the spell of love?—
    And love knows no degree;
I ne’er turned back on a friend or foe,
    But I will not fight with thee.’”
“The Gipsy reels on the bloody sod,
    And the lady flies between;
But the blow that reddens her raven locks
    Was meant for the Gipsy King.
“‘Oh! what have I done,’ Lord Sempill cries,
      And his sword away doth fling;
“‘Arise, my daughter, oh! arise,
    And wed with your Gipsy King.’”

“He lifts her gently in his arms,
    And holds her drooping head;
  But the tears are vain, that fall like rain,
    For the Lady Jane is dead.
They laid her where the alder waves,
    With many a sigh and tear; [Page 46]
And the gray cairn still points out her grave,
      Adown the vale of Weir.

“And the maid of the hamlet points the spot,
    And loves the tale to tell;
And the Place of Grief is the name it bears,
    Adown the dreary dell.” [Page 47]




  It happened (I forget the year)
Shortly after we came here;
All upon a summer day,
I was busy with the hay.
While I paused to wipe my face,
  I could see with hurried pace,
Some one coming down the hill.
What! can that be lazy Bill?
Sure, there’s something in the blast,
When poor Billy runs so fast!

  Up he came, and down he sat,
Puff’d, and put aside his hat;
Wiped the sweat from off his face,
“Oh! my vitals, what a race:
Go, oh! go, and get your gun—

  Or we’re murdered every one!
All the Mohawks are upon us—
May the Lord have mercy on us!
They are as thick as pigeons, hush;—
Hear them yelling in the bush!

  Death in any shape is horrid,
But ‘tis awful to be worried.
Oh! to think that I came here
To be roasted like a deer;
Little did I think, oh dee!

  That would be the end of me.
Had I but a gun and sword,
I would dash among the horde; [Page 48]
On the cannibals I’d set—
I’d do something desperate!”


  Home we went, where all were arming,
And the thing looked quite alarming.
Children, with imploring looks,
Running into secret nooks;
Women, seeking hiding-places,

  With their terror-stricken faces;
Men were running here and there,
Hunting weapons everywhere;
Any thing which could be found—
Aught which would inflict a wound;

  For we all resolved we should
Sell our lives as dear’s we could.


  There was fighting Bill, from Kent,
(Bill was in his element,)
Stalking, like a soldier born,

  With his gun and powder horn;
Then there was old soldier Hugh,
With his sword and musket too,
Like a general, there he stood,
In his old commanding mood;

  Soon we mustered fifty men,
But of muskets only ten,
Seven pitchforks and a dirk,
They would help to do the work.
Each man had an axe at least,
  And a will to do his best.
Soldier Hugh assumed command,
And the line of battle planned,
Sent his scouts, that he might know,
The manœuvres of the foe. [Page 49]

  Muskets to the front, said he,
Keep your ranks, and follow me.


  Then with pulses beating high,
On we marched to do or die;
When we reached yon little height,
  Then we halted for the fight:
There we all in silence stood,
Looking down upon the wood,
Then there rose a fearful yell,
As of fiends let loose from hell,

  Which was answered by another,
From a little brushwood cover;
We could hear the arrows whirring,
And the very leaves seemed stirring.
“Now, my lads, be firm and steady,

  And at the command be ready,
Pikemen, you protect the rear,
Presently we’ll have them here.”
Not a whisper, not a breath,
In a silence deep as death,

  With grim faces, there we stood,
Looking down upon the wood;
Minute after minute passed,
And suspense grew great at last;
We would have given much to know

  The motions of our hidden foe;
Then at last a scout came in,
Saying, with a laughing grin,
We might safely all disarm,
For ‘twas all a false alarm.

  ‘Twas two tribes in war array,
That had fought since break of day,
And their chiefs, to end the quarrel,
Were preparing for a duel;
These were welcome news indeed;
[Page 50]
  From the fear of danger freed,
Off we started with delight,
To behold the coming fight.


  In the bosom of the wood,
With his tribe, each chieftain stood,

  An old windfall of level green,
Formed an open space between,
And the silence was unbroken,
Not a single word was spoken;
Yet anxiety and hope,

  In each bosom seemed to cope,
Hate, the horrid heritage
Handed down from age to age,
In their swarthy faces shone,
As the chiefs came slowly on.



  Eagle, tall and straight and daring,
Stept out with a lordly bearing,
Ease and grace were in his tread,
An eagle’s feather on his head.
Agile as the stag was he,

  Brave and beautiful to see,
Courage in his very walk.
In one hand a tomahawk,
And the other grasped a knife,
Thus he stalked on to the strife.


  Hemlock seemed much less in height,
Broader and of greater weight,
Shoulders of herculean strength, [Page 51]
Arms of an enormous length,
Muscular and firmly set,

  Strength and cunning in him met;
On his head a raven’s plume,
In his eye a savage gloom;
Many a war path he had walked,
Many a foe had tomahawked;
  A model savage dark and dun,
A devil if there e’er was one;
He approached with stealthy pace,
And the cunning of his race.


  Each stood still to eye his foe,
  Ere he’d make the fatal throw;
Hemlock seemed about to fling,
When Eagle gave a whoop and spring,
And seemed as if he taller grew;
Both upon the instant threw,

  Eagle wheeled, the weapon past,
Or that whoop had been his last;
Hemlock sunk upon the plain,
But got on his feet again;
I could see a stream of red,

  From a deep gash on his head;
There a moment he did stand,
Grasped the long knife in his hand,
Then he bounded on a pace,
Eagle met him in the race,

  Closing with a fearful yell,
Grappled, they together fell,
O’er each other there they rolled,
As if in a deadly hold,
And anon with seeming ease,

  Hemlock rises to his knees,
Still his foe is in his grasp,
Locked within his deadly clasp; [Page 52]
On his haunches like a bear,
Holds him for a moment there;

  In his eyes the blood is streaming,
I could see the long knife gleaming:
Ere the blow could fall amain,
He is rolling on the plain;
Sudden as the panther fleet,

  Eagle springs upon his feet,
Like the serpent in the brake;
Or the deadly rattle-snake,
With a quick unerring dart,
Strikes his victim to the heart,

  Leaps on him with deadly glare,
Twines his fingers in his hair,
And before his kindred’s eyes,
There he scalps him ere he dies.


  There the rival nations stood,
  Umpires of the deadly feud;
Silent yet with wild delight,
Watched the fortunes of the fight;
But the Hurons one and all,
When they saw their chieftain fall,

  Tho’ they seemed a moment crushed,
Like a tempest down they rushed,
When Eagle with triumphant cry,
Waved their chieftain’s scalp on high,
Then he bounded like a deer,

  To the Mohawks hastening near.
Then the Hurons stood at bay,
Bore their slaughtered chief away,
Far unto the woods they bore,
And were seen and heard no more. [Page 53]






  ‘Twas here upon this very spot,
    Where weeds so wildly grow,
Old Donald’s log built cabin stood,
    Full thirty years ago;
And he was tall and straight and fair,

      The perfect type of man,
And Highland bards had sung of him,
    As stalwart Donald Ban.*

He was a hunter in his youth,
    Had travelled far and wide,

  And knew each hill and vale and stream,
    From John o’Groat’s to Clyde;
And well he loved to sit and tell,
    As well I loved to hear,
Of feats of strength and daring, while

      He tracked the fallow deer.

The spirit of the mighty hills,
    Within his breast he bore,
And how he loved to sit and sing,
    Their balladical lore;
  For he had treasured in his heart, [Page 54]
    The legends and the lays,
The loves, the joys, the smiles and tears,
    The voice of other days.

The fields where heroes fought and fell,

      The graves wherein they sleep,
And many a mountain robbers’ hold,
    Where captives used to weep;
The mossy cairns by strath and stream,
    Renowned in Highland lay,

  A strange old world of shade and seer,
    Has with him passed away.

And he had gazed on nature’s face,
    Until his spirit caught
Some strange mysterious whispers from

      The inner world of thought;
He loved the things far deepest, which
    He could not understand,
And had a strange wild worship of
    The gloomy and the grand.

Each mountain had a heart and soul,
    A language of its own,
A great old monarch seated there,
    Upon his cloud-built throne,
The wailing of the winter winds,

      The whispers of the glen,
Were living and immortal things,
    Awatching mortal men;

And how the old man grieved to think,
    That he should hear no more,

  The earthquake wrestling with the hills,
    Nor Corybrechtan’s roar.
[Page 55]


  Ah, poor Donald, who can tell,
The heartbreak of thy last farewell,
When oppression’s iron hand,

  Drove thee from that mountain land,
Forced thee from the strath and fell,
From the hills you loved so well;
When you took your last adieu,
Of Benlomond in the blue,
  Looked upon Ben Nevis hoar,
Never to behold him more;
When you saw the old roof-tree,
That so long had sheltered thee,
Thee and all thy stalwart race,

  Set in flames before thy face;
And the tall, the lofty pine,
Emblem of thy honoured line,
Felled without remorse or shame,
Felled to feed the wasting flame,

  That consumed thine humble dwelling;
Who can blame thy heart for swelling,
Who condemn the blows you gave,
To the tyrant and his slave;
Who condemn the curse that sprung,

  Ever ready from your tongue;
Or the imprecations deep,
That from out thy heart would leap,
When you thought upon that day,
And the blue hills far away;

  Or the tears that would o’erflow,
When you told that tale of woe.


  Often at the close of eve,
He would sit him down and grieve,
Then he’d take his pipes and play, [Page 56]
  ‘Till his heart was far away;
On the spirit of the strain,
Wafted to the hills again,
Or while tears his eyelids wet,
Sing this sweet song of regret.



“Why left I my country, why did I forsake
The land of the hill for the land of the lake,
These plains are rich laden as summer’s deep sigh,
But give me the bare cliffs that tower to the sky;
Where the thunderer sits in the halls of the storm,

And the eagles are screaming on mighty Cairn-Gorm;
Benledi! Benlomond! Benawe! Benvenue!
Old monarchs, forever enthroned in the blue,
Ben Nevis! Benavin! the brotherhood hoar,
That shout through the midnight to mighty Ben More,

Though lovely’s this land of the lake and the tree,
Yet the land of the scarred cliff and mountain for me,
Each cairn has its story, each river its sang,
And the burnies are wimplin’ to music alang,
But here nae auld ballad the young bosom thrills,

Nae sang has made sacred thae forests and rills,
And often I croon o’er some auld Scottish strain,
‘Till I’m roving the hills of my country again;
And O may she ever be upright and brave,
And ne’er let her furrows be turned by a slave,

And ne’er may dishonour the blue bonnet stain,
Altho’ I should ne’er wear the bonnet again.”


  Hard was poor old Donald’s fate,
In a strange land desolate;
Scarcely had he crossed the sea,

  When his son, the last of three,
He the beautiful and brave, [Page 57]
Found an exile’s nameless grave;
Then his wife, who was his pride,
Down at Point St. Charles died,

  And he made for her a grave,
By the lone St. Lawrence wave;
And at last when all were gone,
Heartless, homeless, wandered on;
Still one comforter he found,
  In poor Fleetfoot, his stag hound,
They had climbed the hills of heather,
They had chased the deer together,
And together they would mourn,
O’er days never to return.



  After wandering far and near,
He built at last a cabin here,
‘Twas at least a kind of home,
From it he would never roam;
Hoped afflictions all would cease,

  And he’d end his days in peace.
Ah! poor Donald, ‘twas God’s will,
There was one affliction still,
That was wanting to fill up,
To the brim thy bitter cup;

  And it came in loss of sight,
Leaving thee in endless night,
Helpless on a foreign shore,
Ne’er to see “Lochaber more.”


  For a little while he pined,
  But becoming more resigned,
Then he wandered far and wide,
With poor Fleetfoot for his guide;
In the Highland garb arrayed, [Page 58]
On the Highland pipe he played;

  Ever at the welcome sound,
Youths and maidens gathered round;
More than fifty I have seen,
Dancing barefoot on the green,
Tripping it so light and gay,

  To the merry tunes he’d play;
While he blew with might and main,
Looking almost young again,
Playing up the old strathspeys,
With the heart of early days,

  O! to see him who could know,
He had ever tasted woe.


  Thus for many years he went,
Round each backwood settlement,
But wherever he might roam,

  This was still his house and home.

Always as the autumn ended,
Ere the sleety showers descended,
When the leaves were red and sere,
And the bitter days were near,

  When the winds began to sigh,
And the birds away to fly,
And the frost came to the ground,
Donald’s steps were homeward bound.
Long before he would appear,

  The loud note of his pipe we’d hear,
At the glad, the welcome sound,
All the neighbours gathered round,
Many a young heart leaped for joy,
Many a happy little boy,

  Bounded onward glad to meet,
Their old companion, faithful Fleet;
Then would Donald sit and tell, [Page 59]
Of the strange things that befel
At the places where he played,
  Of the friends his music made,
Of the hearts touched by his strains,
Of his triumphs and his gains,
Always ending with this song,
In the woods remembered long.



O sad was the heart of the old Highland piper,
    When forced from the hills of Lochaber away,
No never to look on the lofty Benlomond,
    Nor wander again on the banks of the Tay.

But still as sleep comes to my lone weary pillow,

    I hear Corybrechtan again in my dreams,
I see the blue peaks of the lone cliffs of Jura,
    And wander again by her wild dashing streams.

What tho’ I must roam in the land of the stranger,
    My heart’s ‘mong the hills of Lochaber the while,

Tho’ welcomed ‘tis but in the tongue of the sassenach,
    ‘Tis not the heart welcome they gie in Argyle.

They know not the heart of the old Highland piper,
    And little they think that it bleeds to the core,
When weary with mirth and the dance they invite me,

    To play them the wail of “Lochaber no more.”

They ne’er saw the tempest in Glen Avin gather,
    Nor heard the storm shrieking round Colansay’s shore,
Nor felt the cliffs quake ‘neath the tramp of the thunder,
    Nor heard the hills join in the mighty uproar.


And still as day fades o’er the weary Atlantic,
    To brighten the hills that looked lovely of yore, [Page 60]
I seek the lone lake beach and play till the waters
    And pine forests ring with “Lochaber no more.”


  Thus the years with Donald sped,
  Till his health and strength were fled;
Time had changed his flowing hair,
Furrowed deep his forehead fair;
But tho’ old, and blind, and maim,
Yet his heart was still the same;

  But ‘twas plainer every day,
He was wearing fast away,—
All his wanderings and his woes,
Swiftly drawing to a close.
Well I mind of all that passed,

  When I went to see him last,
On his bed I found him lying,
And the poor old man was dying,
With no one to soothe or guide him,
Not a living soul beside him;

  Only Fleetfoot-faithful hound!
Met me with a welcome bound,
Licked my hand, and led the way,
To where his dying master lay:
Placed his paws upon the bed,

  With a loving kind of dread—
Looked with the reverence of his race,
In his dying master’s face;
Asked me with his anxious eye—
Will he live, or will he die;

  When he saw me shake my head,
Down he lay beside the bed,
And he whined so long and low,
That mine eyes did overflow.

    “Down, Fleet, down,” the old man said,

  “Let us walk with noiseless tread, [Page 61]
Yonder herd of fallow deer
Know not that the hunter’s near.”

But his brain was wandering fast
From the present to the past;
  Now he talked of other times,
Singing snatches of old rhymes;
In a quick and hurried tone,
This disjointed talk went on.

    “Hush! the hills are calling on me,

  Their great spirit is upon me;
Listen! that is old Ben More,
Hush! that’s Corybrechtan’s roar;
See! a gleam of light is shed
Afar upon Bennevis head:

  There! ‘tis on Benlomond now,
The glory’s resting on his brow;
From his locks the gold is streaming,
And his purple mantle’s gleaming,
The crimson and the amber rest

  On the deep folds of his vest,
And still anon some isle of blue,
Is for a moment heaving through.

    “The clouds are rolling fast away,
The dark is dappling into day,

  Come my love we are aweary,
Of these woods so lone and dreary,
We have tarried far too long,
From the land of love and song.
Ah! they told me thou wert dead,

  By the lone St. Lawrence laid;
And our children, sons and daughters,
Gone like music on the waters;
Bring my staff, let us away,
To the land of mountains gray,

  Never, never more to roam,
From our “native Highland home.”
[Page 62]


  He seemed as if about to rise,
When suddenly he closed his eyes,
And his spirit passed away
  From its weary house of clay.


  After all thy toil and cumber,
Sweetly, Donald, may’st thou slumber,
And thy little tragedy,
Will not wholly pass away;

  For there were, even in thee,
Gleams of a divinity.
Longings, aspirations high,
After things which cannot die.
O! thy soul was like thy land,

  Stern and gloomy, great and grand,
Yet each yawning gulf between,
Had its nooks of sweetest green:
Little flowers surpassing fair,
Flowers that bloom no other where

  Little natives of the rock,
Smiling midst the thunder shock;
Then the rainbow gleams of glory,
Hanging from the chasms hoary,
Dearer for each savage sound,

  And the desolation round.


  Much remains still to be told,
Of those men and times of old,
Of the changes in our days,
From their simple honest ways;

  Of the quacks on spoil intent, [Page 63]
That flocked to our settlement;
Of the swarms of public robbers,
Speculators and land jobbers;
Of the sorry set of teachers,
  Of the bogus tribe of preachers,
Of the host of herb physicians,
And of cunning politicians.
But the sun has hid his face,
And the night draws on apace;

  Shadows gather in the west,
Beast and bird are gone to rest,
With to?morrow we’ll not fail,
To resume our humble tale.

    * Anglice Fair [back]