"New" Poems of Adam Hood Burwell

Edited and Introduced by Mary Lu MacDonald

For those in search of early Canadian literature, C.F. Klinck's mimeo graphed edition of The Poems of Adam Hood Burwell, Pioneer Poet of Upper Canada1 is an invaluable resource. In 110 pages are gathered 27 poems, both long and short — collected from a half-dozen newspapers and periodicals.2 Recent research3 has uncovered twelve additional Burwell poems, dated between 1819 and 1827, plus a prospectus, published in 1819, for a volume of poetry. Since only two of the poems in Klinck's collection were dated before 1819, and since the proposed book was to be about 250 pages long, it is obvious that the poems at present known to us are only a small percentage of Burwell's total output. One can only hope that the remainder will eventually be discovered. I, personally, would give a great deal to read "The Gourlayad":


To be comprised in a Volume of about 250 Pages, octavo; printed with good Type, on fine Paper — The GOURLAYAD, a Poem in doggerel verse, with Notes, will form a constituent part of the Volume.

     This being the first attempt of the kind ever made in the Province, the author fondly hopes that his countrymen will evince their willingness to honour him with their countenance.

     Price 7s. 6d. Currency, in boards, to be paid for on the delivery of the Books.4

     The "new" poems support Klinck's carefully-tempered evaluation that ". . . the lines which describe the special scenery of the Niagara frontier and the Lake Erie shore, together with the history of Colonel Talbot's settlement, are attractive and valuable pieces of very early (Upper) Canadiana," while those devoted to the "common sentiments" of youth do not merit much attention.5 Three of the "new" poems are devoted to the War of 1812 and, particularly, to praise of General Brock. They thus add to the number of Burwell's works which deal with specific Upper Canadian experience, and add, as well, to our understanding of the esteem in which Brock was held by those who had lived through the war period. Five other poems lament the death of individuals, three of them infants. All show regret for the talent lost to the world, and all find consolation in Christian faith. In a wider social context they reflect the high mortality rate, particularly for children, which was a fact of Canadian life in the 1820s.

     Little additional information has come to light which can be added to Klinck's biographical introduction. The Montreal Gazette reported on March 2, 1829, that Burwell had married Sarah Bernard, daughter of Stephen Barnard of Melbourne, L.C., on February 22, 1829, at Troy N.Y., "at the close of Divine Service". In the 1831 census for Three Rivers he is listed as the proprietor of a home on Notre Dame Street. The household consisted of one married male, age 30-60, one married female, aged 14-45, one female under 14, and one unmarried female, aged 14-45. The first three, who it would appear were Burwell, his wife, and a daughter, were members of the Church of England. The other, probably a servant, was listed as Roman Catholic.

     There is at least one contemporary reference to him having "had the benefit of an English University education",6 but where and when remains to be discovered. Given the fact that he was born in 1790, it seems likely that it would have been before the poetry dated in Upper Canada began to appear in 1816. Between 1816 and 1827 at least one poem per year was published, except for the years 1817, 1820, and 1824, for which none have yet been uncovered. Burwell generally signed the poems which he published in newspapers with the date and place of composition as well as his pseudonym "Erieus". All but the earliest, dated at "Flamborough West", one dated at Niagara in August 1826, and an undated paraphrase of Job which appeared in a Toronto paper in January 1827, are signed from either "Port Talbot", "Talbot Road, Southwold", or "St. Thomas, Talbot Road". Burwell received Deacon's Orders in the Church of England in Quebec City on March 11, 1827.7 After that date, except for the two signed poems in The Christian Sentinel, there are no additional poems by Burwell known to us until the three long ones published in pamphlet form and in the Literary Garland in 1849, the year of his death.

     The young Burwell also wrote "letters" descriptive of events in the Talbot settlement to the editor of the Upper Canada Gazette and Weekly Register during 1822 and 1823.8 This had led one historian to suggest in Ontario History that he was also the author of the libellous letter of "A Spanish Freeholder", published in the Colonial Advocate on October 14, 1824.9

     In Klinck's edition, the text of "The Battle of Lundy's Lane", dated "Flamborough West, July 1816" is taken from the Scribbler of January 24, 1822. The editor has appended Burwell's note that the lines had been "a little altered" since they first appeared in the Niagara Gleaner. No copies of the Gleaner printed before 1818 have survived. The poem was also printed in the Montreal Gazette of February 2, 1820, under the heading "from the Gleaner". The Gazette's version does vary slightly from that published in the Scribbler, although whether or not it is the same as the Gleaner original we may never be able to ascertain. Apart from differences in punctuation and spelling, and what are probably typographical errors (i.e. stanza 7. Scribbler: The cannon's thunders peal no more". Gazette: "The cannon's thunder peals no more"), there are three minor and two major differences. In line 4 the Gazette refers to a "murky" rather than a "sable" canopy. In line 7 the Gazette text reads "resplendent bow", not "resplendent arch"; and in line 43 the Gazette's field is "bloodier", rather than "bloody" as in the Scribbler. A more major change is in the tenth stanza where, in the Scribbler version, the last two lines have been altered to remove any specific reference to victor and vanquished. In the Gazette these lines read:

Columbia yields! — the work is done! —
       Britannia shouts the victory!

The Gazette text also includes a final stanza, missing from the Scribbler.

Long may the trav'ler who has stood,
In wonder lost, beside yon flood,
Turn to behold this field of blood,
       Where fought the sons of chivalry.

The twelve "new" poems which follow are printed, where possible, in order of the dates as signed by Burwell. The spelling and punctuation are as originally printed.


Round the rosy lap of May
Incense breathes and Zephyrs play,
Fragrant blossoms yield their bloom,
And exhale their rich perfume.

On the grassy couch of May
Violets sip the morning spray,
Ope their little bells of blue
To receive the moist'ning dew.

To the genial warmth of May
Blooms the snow-white thorn so gay,
While it nectar'd steams distils,
And with health the breezes fills.


Flora calls her virgin train
To attend her on the plain; —
Forth they come adorn'd so gay,
Yielding all their charms to May.

May presents a robe of green
To the Earth, soft, sweet and clean;
Mother Earth once more looks gay,
Deck'd in all the pride of May.

Soft and balmy is the breeze
That comes rustling thro' the trees,
Fresh'ning — grateful as the rill
That descends the woody hill.

I delight to snuff the gale
Zephyr brings me from the vale,
For, for me he steals away
The ambrosial breath of May.

On his airy pinions he
Wafts the sweets of shrub and tree —
As he passes too he flings —
Scatters incense from his wings.


Humming round the od'rous vale,
While their palates they regale,
Bees hang at each flowret's bell
Gathering treasures for their cell.

While the gaudy butterfly
Flutters round the ambient sky,
Or descends with dainty lip
Honey from the flower to sip.

Flutt'ring round the bower of May
How the feather'd tribes do play,
With elated hearts do see
Leaves adorn the maple tree.

'Neath its umbrage they are blest —
There they build the downy nest —
Love and chirp in happy pairs —
Happy 'midst parental cares.

I could listen all day long
To their pleasing, artless song,
And delighted with them stay
Till they hymn the closing day.


The tall forest, leafless late,
Waves its boughs in sylvan state,
And along the op'ning glade
Stretches its inviting shade.

Sacred shade — that doth invite
Me and give my soul delight
While enraptur'd I survey,
The delightful reign of May.

Now, to crown the charming whole,
Love, the loadstone of the soul,
Roves at large thro' field and bower,
Binding all beneath his power.

LOVE! — the BEING who is love,
When his fiat, from above
Earth created — Love he bade
Bless the whole, and was obey'd.

Talbot-Road, Southwold,       ERIEUS10
May 4th, 1819.





Hast thou, sweet babe! gone to the cave of rest,
    There to enjoy an undisturbed repose,
A peaceful mansion, where none can molest,
    Freed from this toilsome life and all its woes!

Scarce could thy speech communicate the thoughts
    That sprung spontaneous from thy dawning soul;
Yet didst thou show an elevated mind,
    Its latent powers ambitious to unfold.

The seeds of evil lay inert and dead,
    Or heaven withheld them kindly from thy heart;
Whose every passion flow'd in purity,
    For nought but goodness there was known to start.


Meekness and gentleness smil'd in thy face,
    With sister passions lovely quite as they,
And 'midst the sweetness of gay blooming spring,
    Reason shot forth a pure, unclouded ray.

The eyes of heaven beheld thee, peerless child!
    A flower too fair to feel the blasts of time; —
The hand of heaven took thee full soon from hence
    To plant thee in a more congenial clime.

Ah, doubly blest! to join the angelic band,
    From this vile earth and its attractions free,
With soul unstain'd by sin's polluting hand,
    A grateful offering to the Deity.


     Port Talbot, U.C.




Poor offspring of shame! how short was thy stay
In the vale of sorrow; thy vital breath
Gave thee the power but to feel of this life,
       And taste, the next moment, of death.


Thy tender eye faintly op'd on the light,
And pained to meet the full glare of day;
But soon was closed in the silence of night,
Its transient, quivering, ray.


Thy mother beheld thy feeble frame;
Her ear received not thy imploring cry;
But ah! she regarded her innocent babe,
With a dark and malignant eye.



Thy piteous call awak'd not her heart;
'Twas harden'd for all that a mother should feel;
The demon of murder invaded her breast,
And bound it with bands of steel.



She kiss'd not the tear-drop away from thy cheek;
She press'd thee not to her bosom warm;
She placed not thy lips to the fountains of life,
Nor folded thee round with her arm.



Her soul refused to be touched with thy woes;
No kind emotion she felt within;
Her face she averted, and summoned her mind,
And strengthened herself in sin.


No mortal was there, to behold the dark deed,
Or stay the destroying stroke of the knife;
But she plunged the steel in thy innocent heart,
And feared not to take thy sweet life.


And she mangled thy limbs like a beast of prey,
And she shrunk not back when thy blood stream'd round:
Her hands and her garments were stain'd with thy gore,
And she left thee to rot on the ground.



No mortal was there, to record what was done;
But she thought not of HIM that beholds from the sky,
And she fled, but JEHOVAH, who judgeth thy cause,
Can trace all her steps with his eye.



But now sweet babe, am I sure thou art blest,
Where happiness dwells in the mansions above;
Where the FATHER of MERCY and TRUTH presides,
And glorifies all with his love. 40



For angels carried thy spotless soul
To the arms of the Saviour, who careth for thee;
And there thou shalt rest, a stranger to pain,
To endless eternity.


Port Talbot, 24th August, 1822.




At Port Talbot, on the 31st ult. MARY ANN,
the Daughter of Mr. I. MILES FARLAND, aged 5 Months.

She's gone! — no more her infant smile,
The smile of innocence, shall dart
Its power elective, to expand
And warm a tender parents heart.

No more the pleasing anxious care,
That gave the parent's love employ,
Shall now the parent's love engage, — —
No more the care —
no more the joy!

A transient passenger was she,
That paid the visit of a day,
And wept — yet smil'd with seraph's smile,
And pass'd on seraph's wing, away.—


No fixt, immutable decree
Consigns her to the abodes of woe;
But swift she rises to those fields
The vulture's eye can never know.

Fair as the light her spirit soars,
Unstain'd by sins polluting hand,
To join the disembodied forms
Of yonder bright, celestial band.

No frown of predetermined wrath
Arrests, in terrors dread, her eye;
But sweet the voice of mercy calls
The little stranger to the sky,

To joy forever in the smiles
Of him who cares for such as she,
Whose kingdom is of such—to wear
The spotless robes of purity.

Then weep — 'tis right those tears should dim
The eye, and stain the cheek of grief:
Affection calls, and while they flow,
They bring the balm of sweet relief.


Then weep, my friend—but not as one
Who sees no hopes beyond the grave;
Who death regards as only sent
To blast our joys, and to bereave.

For death is but the messenger
Of him who sits and rules above,
To call us hence to yonder world,
Where all is joy, and peace and love.



Port Talbot, 1st April, 1823



The Death of Brock.

Lines composed on seeing the Proposals of the Commissioners for erecting a Monument to the memory of the late MAJOR GENERAL SIR ISAAC BROCK. In imitation of the death of WOLFE.

CROWN'D with sad cypress Britannia sat mournful,
Where Queenston's bold heights overlook the broad
Her Garments were wet with the tears of Aurora,
And she mus'd on the deeds of her BROCK that was

Her soul was absorb'd in profound contemplation;
'Neath her feet roll'd the surge of its turbid career;
Now she gazed on the skies — now the dark deep
   before her,
While Niagara's thunders broke full on her ear.
"My BROCK!" she exclaimed — "did death here
   arrest thee!
Did thy gallant spirit here burst from its clay!
Ah! why was so short the bright path of thy glory!
Why cut down so soon in the noon of thy day?"


'Twas morn, — and sublime o'er the guiph of
On the dark folding cloud rising dense to the sky,
Sat the GENIUS of CANADA — round far below him,
Majestic he shot the quick glance of his eye.

He saw the disconsolate Queen of the Ocean
Reclin'd on the ground — in an instant was there
Before her the vision cloud built, and suspended,
It hung o'er the channel's rocks in mid the air.

She gazed with wonder—the genius refulgent
In glory, descended and stood at her feet: —
Ah! why, he exclaim'd dost thou sorrow, fair
And pour the sad sigh on the midnight retreat?

Thy BROCK is not dead,—for still fresh in his glory;
Unscathed remained the bright wreath of his fame;
And long shall posterity tell the proud story,
And kindle anew at the sound of his name.

When called to the council of state, by his wisdom
He banish'd discordance, uniting all hands
And all hearts into one, all their energies guiding
As one, to one object, his Sovereign's commands


The glory of Britain—the good of his country
United, stood firm in the views of his mind,
In battle a thunderbolt,—mild to the vanquish'd,
In council a sage,—and a friend to mankind.

His labors were ended, and ripe was his glory: —
The FATHER of all call'd him home to his rest;
Now a crown, never fading, encircles his temples,
And peace, gentle peace, reigns serene in his breast.

'Tis mine here below his fair fame to watch over;
His memory to guard from oblivion's dun shade;
And here on this ground will I raise his proud
Where he fell—where his last gallant act was dis

E'en now are my faithful Canadians preparing
The pile of affection to rear to his name.
The marble shall tell of his deeds to the stranger.
And ages unborn shall recount all his fame.


Port Talbot, Dec. 23, 1823



The sun had sunk beneath the western main,
             And with a parting ray
             Bid adieu unto the day:
                Twillight drew nigh,
             And purpled o'er the sky,
             While, smiling in the East,
             The Queen of night arose,
      Full orb'd;—in modest majesty
             Above the hills' high head
             She her silver lustre shed,
      Mild as the evening taper's blaze.
      Sweet contemplative hour!
              Now let me stray,
Unseen by the observing eye of day,
             For mediation dear,
             Where the purling rill
Its music breaks upon the listening ear.



Thoughtful I wandered o'er a blooming mead;
      Reclined beneath a spreading tree,
             And cast my eyes around.
                Full in my face
      Fair Cynthia pour'd her silver beams,
             And e'er I was aware
             The downy hand of sleep
      Seal'd fast my eyes in pleasing slumbers; —
      And something fell upon my soul
      Which o'er my spirit seem'd to meet
                 Sublimely soothing!
             And mellow down my feelings,
             O'er which the tremulous chords
Of plaintive sensibility were strung.
        Then rose the visions of the night,
And, undisturb'd, their free dominion kept
      Within the province of any brain.




              Methought the trump of war
              Was heard to sound no more;
              The soldier's shining blade
              Was in his scabbard laid;
The cannon with reverberating roar,
Deep-sounding, shook the vaults of heaven no more;
No more it vomited destructive ire,
Or belch'd out death at each convulsive fire!
               The bleeding warrior's sighs
      No more to Heaven did arise;
      The widow's tears had ceas'd to flow,
      The orphan had forgot his woe,
And Peace, sweet goddess of celestial birth,
      Reassumed her reign on earth.
              Joy dwelt in every look;
     Gladness sat on every face;
     Thankful man the blessings took
     As a reward for past distress.




             QUEENSTON appeared to rise
             At once before my eyes,
             And wave full fields of grain
             Luxuriant o'er the plain.

The battery strong, where, late the cannon's mouth,
Just pointing thro' stood threat'ning — charg'd with fate,
Ready to hurl destruction on the foe,
And rival thunder with its dreadful voice,
Disgorging death's commission! — these same mounds
      Where mouldering down to common earth,
              And, crown'd with grassy tops,
They spread their vests of Nature's carpet green
              Besprent with op'ning flowers,
      And the soft notes of warbling birds
      Succeeded to the roar of arms.
      Methought a train of youths I saw,
             Each with a garland crown'd,
             And on each breast was bound
      A golden plate, on which engrav'd
Britannia sat, reclining on her spear.
      At her right hand appear'd an urn
             Of gold beset with pearls,
              Transmuted from her tears,
             With the inscription on it:
"Here are inclos'd the ashes of my BROCK."




             With solemn silent step,
             In order they advanc'd
             Towards a new-raised pile: —
       It was a marble monument, —
             A tribute to the chief,
             Who fell upon the spot: —
'Twas built in memory of our hero BROCK. —
     And here these youths repair'd to pay
             The debt of gratitude
             Due from a generous mind,
             Due from the virtuous brave,—
             Due to superior merit.



            A youth whose graceful mien
            Was pleasing to behold,
When they were gather'd round the monument,
       In words like these began to speak : —
            "War was our country's lot : —
            The enemy advanc'd,
            And with unhallowed step
            Defil'd our peaceful shores.
            Our hero took the field,
            And with him march'd a band
            Of generous hearted youths
       Who, prompted by their country's good,
            The shock of war withstood.
            BROCK led these heroes on;
           And, e'er they left the field,
The song of triumph flow'd from every tongue!
           Brave youths! can we forget
           Your efforts generous while
           Our hearts shall beat? — Ah no! —
Cold be those hearts in death that can forget you, —
That can forget your patriotic deeds!





           "But ah! the fatal day
     Which saw our country's enemy
           Advance on Queenston Heights: —
           'Twas then the hand of death
     Fixt on our hero's mortal part,
           With his cold gathering grasp,
     And snapt the brittle thread of life!
           He rush'd to meet the foe —
     His bosom caught the shaft of death —
            He fell — he soon expir'd! —
           The saddening news was heard,
     "Since heaven hath given our country peace,
           And still'd the storm of war,
           And granted us the means
     This pile of gratitude to rear;
     Let us return our thanks to Heaven
           For all these mercies given,
     And then the tribute of a tear
            Pay to him whose dust lies buried here.




"Almighty God! supremely good and just,
To whom we look for help, in whom we trust,
Vouchsafe to hear the thanks our hearts would pay
To thine Eternal Majesty this day.
We own the power of thine extended hand,
Which drove invasion from our native land,
And bade contending powers from conflict cease,
And join their hands in mutual love and peace.
May peace continue, and concord abound,
Thou Sire of being! all the world around."



        He paus'd respectfully, — then broke
       The solemn silence, and thus spoke: —

        Each soldier's bosom felt the stroke,
               And heaved in speechless woe! —
        But gathering like a cloud the foe
        Advanc'd and thicken'd on the field.
        Ready for combat our brave band
        Like lions rush'd amidst the fight,
        Then ghastly death stalk'd hideous round
        And fell'd his victims to the ground;
        Amidst the rage of carnage stood
        Grimly majestic, smear'd with blood! —
              But e'er the rolling sun
              Sunk down the steep of night,
        The deaf'ning cannon ceas'd to roar,
        The clank of arms was heard no more,
        The joyful tidings flew around, —
               'The victory is ours!'



            "But sadness damp'd the joy in every breast; —
     Sorrow sat heavy at each heart; —
                        Alas, our chief was slain! —
                         No more the generous smile —
      No more commanding dignity
      Shone in his countenance, — cold death —
      Cold, icy death sat silent there! —
      Yet still his memory blooms afresh,
      The fragrance of his virtues rises
      In grateful odours to the soul
      That knows to value worth and merit,
      Which he in measure large possess'd.



"When duty call'd him to the helm of th' state,
He found our country on the brink of fate.
A treas'nous faction burning to display
Rebellion's ensigns, in her bosom lay:
Without, a numerous and insulting foe,
Threat'ning to strike th'exterminating blow.
He saw the danger — mark'd — pursu'd his plan,
And magic influence with his measures ran:
O'er discord's strings his master hand he threw;
Faction was silent, and her friends withdrew:
The undetermined bosom he inspir'd;
The lukewarm heart with patriot ardour fir'd;
He taught us conquest in th'unequal strife,
And seal'd us victory with his valu'd life.




"His mind was noble, — all his actions great;
Fitly he held the guiding reins of state;
Compassion, pity, justice moved his soul,
Nor e'er he swerved from their divine control."

Thus spoke the youth, and with a melting heart
Each stander by sustain'd an equal part;

Tears following tears the soul'd emotions spoke,
While sighs responsive from each bosom broke.
In weeping charms the virgin band appear'd,
Which struck my soul with softness as I heard:
Involuntary tears began to flow;
I join'd in concert in the scene of woe,
'Till, quite absorb'd in the heart melting theme,
Sudden I woke, and found it all a dream: —
Yet such our Brock, and such the patriot band
Who fought and conquered under his command.






The following lines were written upon contemplating the events and issue of the late War in Canada.

               Take, O take the martial lyre,
Boldly strike the deep toned wire,
Make its notes sublimely roll,
Kindle rapture in the soul,
Touch the secrets of the heart,
Bid its every life-thread start,
And with sympathetic sway
Lead it captive quick away.


    Ye that by the muses blest,
Know to move the dormant breast,
Wake, O wake, the song of praise,
Loudly sing in fitful layes
Glorious deeds by hero's done,
Laurell'd crowns by heroes won: —
Tell that freedom was their cause,
Liberty and equal laws,
Rights to freemen only known —
Freemen's heritage alone.



    Ye that boast a patriotic name —
Ye that feel a patriot flame
Ardent in your bosom glow,
Thro' your veins high mounting flow; —
You that rais'd a helping hand
To protect your native land,

When invasion stalking round
Half our country captive bound: —
Tell me, Patriots, for you know,
What should gratitude bestow,—
What award the virtuous brave
Who from three-fold dangers saved —
Saved the land when hope had fled
And desponding hung her head? —
You, who deep with wisdom fraught,
Harsh, discordant matter wrought,*
Mouldered from the seeds of strife
Form and order, union, life: —
You whose legislative sway,*
In the dark and trying day,
Gave the arm of power its force,*
Turn'd it to its proper course,
Dar'd to immolate a part*
To preserve the vital heart; —
Tell me, statesmen, for you know,
What should gratitude bestow, —
What award the wise and good
Who the raging storm withstood, —
Nobly braved it till the last, —
'Till the danger all was past?
Patriots, Statesmen, all you crave
Is your country's love;—to have
Affection's fond effusions tell
That you deserve its praises well








    Wake, O wake the trembling wire,
O'er it breathe extatic fire!
Strike the deep-toned chords and tell
The deeds of those who fought and fell!
Crown each ever honor'd name
With the laurell'd wreaths of fame.
Foremost in this glorious band,
Best and greatest, BROCK shall stand,
Followed by a patriot train
Who have dyed th'embattled plain.
They stood firm in freedom's cause,
To their country and its laws:—
They have left their name in trust,
And their country must be just.



    Wake then, wake the martial lyre,
Boldly touch th' obedient wire,*
Strike the deep-toned chords and tell
The deeds of those who for their country fell!


*It was chiefly owing to the energetic and decisive spirit of General Brock, that the Legislature of Upper Canada adopted those measures, which, firmly carried into effect, put down a seditious party, and produced unanimity in the country.



To the memory of the late Daniel Hagerman, Esq. *

Ah, noble youth! must we so soon lament thee,
Snatch'd from us in the early morn of manhood;
Lost to thy country, while her eyes weep o'er thee
                                        Tears of affection.
Like a fair plant cut e're the fragrant blossom
Drops from the stem, and shows the fruit maturing,
Cut in full bloom, and severed from its fellows;
                                        Such has thy fate been.

Thy country call'd thee to the post of honor,
Full were her hopes and high her expectations;
Because the fairest prospects of bright promise
                                        Reund thee attended.


In idea she beheld thee in her Senate,
Warm with the generous blood of a free Briton:
She heard thine eloquence — 'twas sound — 'twas splendid;
                                        Loud she applauded.

But ah, lov'd youth! — short was her expectation: —
The king of terrors sent his awful summons —
And she beheld thee fall an early victim,
                                        Shorne of thine honors.

Weeping she pays the tribute to thy virtues: —
But she must bear with christian resignation:
Our God hath given, and our God hath taken:
                                        'Tis His good pleasure.

The ties of blood shall hold thy memory sacred,
The bonds of friendship e'en in death entwine thee;
And round thy grave shall spring the fragrant roses
Of pure affection.

The youth who visits the green sod that hides thee
Shall catch the fire that burns e'en in thine ashes:—
'Twill warm his veins, and, like Elijah's mantle,
                                        Fail not t'inspire him.


Lamented youth! the rustic Bard who hails thee
Cold in death's arms, would trust the part immortal
That did inspire thee living now rejoices
                                        In God the Saviour.



*Mr. Hagerman was a native of Upper Canada, had practised at the Bar for two or three years, and gave promise of eminence in his profession; he had also been elected a member of the House of Assembly for the counties of Lennox and Addington, and died shortly after he should have taken his seat. In him the Province lost one of its brightest native ornaments.



Lines occasioned by the death of Mrs. Crysler,
     of Niagara

Death gazed on her charms with his pale greedy eyes,
    Tho' thousands were marching before her;
As seizing the hand of his beautiful prize,
From the arms of the Bridegroom he tore her.

Hell follow'd close in the footsteps of Death,
    For the precious immortal within her;
With fury he grasp'd when she sigh'd her last breath,
As it were for some perishing sinner.


But a bright band of Seraphin swift from the sky
    Was there in full time to relieve her;
The fiend started back as they fronted his eye,
And he fled as they came to receive her.


Fell murderer begone! for a Saviour hath died,
    They exclaim'd—the forlorn are defended;
And she bath'd in the fountain that flows from his side,
While the day of his grace was extended.


Her Judge is her Counsellor — who shall accuse!
    Her Saviour, her great Mediator,
Hath purchased her life with his own; — and his dues
He now claims of her Sovereign Creator.


Then rapid as thought they enrobed her in bright
    Flowing vestments of heavenly splendor:
Her charms are renewed, and shine pure as the light,
While a concert of angels attend her.

Then, to Death they replied: — Thou hast fail'd of thine aim:
    'Tis but clay thou hast gotten beside thee:
And the day draweth nigh when thy charnel-house game
Will spurn at thy rule and deride thee.


For the trumpet of Gabriel shall waken the dead
    When the journey of time is completed:
Then where is thy sting?—all its venom is fled,
    And the malice of hell is defeated.


The body that forms thy proud revel to day
    Shall be fill'd with yon Seraph to-morrow;
And glory immortal shall crown the poor clay
    That was once a frail mansion of sorrow.



Port Talbot, 12th June, 1826




O why should I muse on the days that are past,
   Since they bring to my mind disappointment and pain?
They once were my theme — but some rude ruffian blast
   Hurl'd darkness and sorrow along in their train.

They once were my theme!  I could dwell with delight,
   On the prospect of pleasure their vista display'd,
The hues of the rainbow were never more bright;
And I thought them too glorious ever to fade.

Young fancy had gilded those days with her beam:
   They were embryos then in futurity's womb:
They came — but their glory was naught but a dream:
They are numbered — and count on the score of my doom!


They are gone — but their ghosts, ever faithful to me,
   At noon and at midnight disturb my repose,
Like the spectres of crimes unforgiven: — I'd flee
But they trace all my steps with the malice of foes.

O! what was the blast that bowled over the sky
   That hung dark on those days? and why did their bloom,
That fancy had touch'd, fade so soon, and why,
Did they, hapless, count on the score of my doom?

And why do their ghosts, as the ghosts of crime,
   Still haunt the deepest abodes of my breast?
Or why do I fear to look back upon time,
Or feel that to me he has been unblest?
O draw not my thoughts from their dark retreat:
   The detail would be but a statement of shame,
Had folly or vice never guided my feet,
It were not my reproach those days to name.

This is my confession. — But why should you chide?
   Go search in the depths of your own proud heart,
And there you may find what will soften its pride —
Nay more — what will cause e'en yourself to start.


O! shrink not away! — for why should we shun
   The knowledge of what it were death not to know?
Why trifle, when every revolving sun
Takes one from our number of suns below?

We live to our pleasure, and count not the cost,
   Till bankruptcy thunders aloud at our gate:
Then we see every day — every hour that is lost
Falls heavy and dead in the scale of our fate.

With me then take the unsightly review —
   I would fain we were spar'd — but the dark account,
Unless brought forth in a statement true,
May sink our bark with its fearful amount.
Then why should I ponder the days that are past,
   Since bitterness only they bring to my mind?
It is this — that when summoned from hence at last,
A FRIEND to retrieve all my loss I may find.


Port Talbot, 24th September, 1826.




House of my Friend! — may no dishonoring stain
Pollute thy sacred walls: — may virtue bright
The blest direction of her course maintain,
And guide thy inmates in the ways of right:
May no intruding demon ever blight
Their mutual harmony, and love, and peace;
But meek Religion's pure, celestial light
Shine in each heart, — there grow, and never cease,
Till Heaven itself shall be the measure of increase.


Niagara, August, 1826.



Paraphrase on Job xx[??], 19, etc.

Hast thou endowed the horse with strength, or cloth'd
His neck with thunder? Canst thou make him fear
Before thee as a trembling worm, or lick
The dust because thou dost command? Lo! from
His glowing nostrils terror streams amain!
The valley trembles as he paws the ground,
Rejoicing in his strength, and on he goes
To meet the armed men. He mocks at fear,
Nor turns he back before the glittering sword.
The quiver rattles, — and he hears in scorn;
The spear and shield are stubble in his eye.
He spurns the ground in rage, nor yet believes
The hostile trumpet can awaken fear:
Ha! ha! he saith, is this the trumpets' voice?
He smells the distant fight — terrific joy
Beams from his eye, and swells his gladdened heart;
And, like the wind, he hastes to mingle in
The thunder of the captains and the shouting.






  1. Western Ontario History Nuggets, No. 30. Lawson Memorial Library, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario. May 1963. [back]

  2. Klinck did not include the devotional poems, published in The Christian Sentinel, a Church of England periodical which Burwell edited for the single year of its existence — September 1830 to September 1831— while serving in Three Rivers. Only two poems: "To Time" (January 7, 1831) and "The Votary of Dissipation" (February 18, 1831) are signed A.H. Burwell, but Klinck suggested that those signed "A Druid" were probably also by Burwell. (Introduction, viii). It may be that a number of unsigned poems written "For the Christian Sentinel", as well as the thirteen metrical paraphrases of Psalms, were also Burwell's. [back]

  3. All extant Upper and Lower Canadian periodicals published between 1817 and 1850 have been read. In addition, all surviving newspapers, listed in the Union List of Canadian Newspapers Held by Canadian Libraries, with a run of at least one year, published in the two colonies in the same time period, have been searched.[back]

  4. Niagara Gleaner, August 5, 1819.[back]

  5. op. cit., v.[back]

  6. Quebec Mercury, September 4, 1830.[back]

  7. Gore Gazette, March 31, 1827.[back]

  8. June 1 and July 11, 1822; April 24 and July 3, 1823.[back]

  9. Paul Romney, "The Spanish Freeholder Imbroglio of 1824: Inter-Elite and Intra-Elite Rivalry in Upper Canada", Ontario History Vol. LXXVI, No. 1 (March 1984), 32-47. While the unknown author of the letter was almost certainly associated in some way with Mahion Burwell, Adam's older brother, Romney's identification of Adam as the author is unconvincing on several counts.[back]

  10. Niagara Gleaner, August 5, 1819.[back]

  11. Weekly Register, August 1, 1822.[back]

  12. Ibid., September 12, 1822.[back]

  13. Niagara Gleaner, April 26, 1823.[back]

  14. Toronto Patriot, September 4, 1840. According to the Patriot, this poem originally appeared in the Weekly Register, January 1, 1824. It was also printed in the Canadian Review and Literary and Historical Journal, No. III (March 1825), over the signature "E". It is one of four poems, printed on pages 191-9, all with the same signature. Since there are also two poems by "Erieus" in the same number of the Canadian Review, one can only assume that six poems by the same author were deemed to be too many, so Burwell's well-known pseudonym was varied for some of them. The three poems which follow "The Death of Brock" in this text, signed "E", are from the Canadian Review.[back]

  15. The U.E. Loyalist, June 24, 1826.[back]

  16. Ibid., October 14, 1826.[back]

  17. Ibid., October 28, 1826.[back]

  18. Ibid., January 13, 1827. [back]