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Poems by George P. Morris

Part 6 out of 6

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great anxiety. "What is that to you?" was the blunt reply. "You are not going to
cut that tree down, surely?"--"Yes, but I am though," said the woodman. "What for?"
inquired my companion, almost choked with emotion. "What for? Why, because I think
proper to do so. What for? I like that! Well, I'll tell you what for. This tree
makes my dwelling unhealthy; it stands too near the house: prevents the moisture
from exhaling, and renders us liable to fever-and-ague."--"Who told you that?"--"Dr.
S---."--"Have you any other reason for wishing to cut it down?"--"Yes, I am getting
old; the woods are a great way off, and this tree is of some value to me to burn."
He was soon convinced, however, that the story about the fever-and-ague was a mere
fiction, for there never had been a case of that disease in the neighborhood; and
then was asked what the tree was worth for firewood. "Why, when it is down, about
ten dollars." "Suppose I make you a present of that amount, will you let it
stand?"--"Yes."--"You are sure of that?"--"Positive."--"Then give me a bond to that
effect." I drew it up; it was witnessed by his daughter; the money was paid, and
we left the place with an assurance from the young girl, who looked as smiling and
beautiful as Hebe, that the tree should stand as long as she lived. We returned to
the road, and pursued our ride. These circumstances made a strong impression upon
my mind, and furnished me with materials for the song I herewith send you.--Extract
from a Letter to Henry Russell, the Vocalist, dated New York, February 1, 1837.

The Chieftain's Daughter (page 78.)

"Every part of the brief but glorious life of Pocahontas is calculated to produce a
thrill of admiration, and to reflect the highest honor on her name. The most memorable
event of her life is this recorded: After a long consultation among the Indians,
the fate of Captain Smith, who was the leader of the first colony in Virginia, was
decided. The conclave resumed their silent gravity. Two huge stones were placed
near the water's edge; Smith was lashed to them, and his head was laid down, as a
preparation for beating out his brains with war-clubs. Powhattan raised the fatal
instrument, and the savage multitude with their blood-stained weapons stood near their
king, silently waiting the prisoner's last moment. But Smith was not destined to
thus perish. Pocahontas, the beloved daughter of the king, rushed forward, fell upon
her knees, and, with tears and entreaties, prayed that the victim might be spared.
The royal savage rejected her suit, and commanded her to leave Smith to his fate.
Grown frantic at the failure of her supplications, Pocahontas threw her arms about
Smith, and laid her head on his, her raven hair falling around his neck and shoulders,
declaring she would perish with or save him. The Indians gasped for breath, fearing
that Powhatan would slay his child for taking such a deep interest in the fate of
one he considered his deadliest foe. But human nature is the same everywhere; the
war-club dropped from the monarch's hand--his brow relaxed--his heart softened; and,
as he raised his brave daughter to his bosom, and kissed her forehead, he reversed
his decree, and directed Smith to be set at liberty! Whether the regard of this
glorious girl for Smith ever reached the feeling of love, is not known. No favor
was ever expected in return. 'I ask nothing of Captain Smith,' said she, in an
interview she afterward had with him in England, 'in recompense for what I have done,
but the boon of living in his memory.' John Randolph was a lineal descendant of this
noble woman, and was wont to pride himself upon the honor of his descent. Pocahontas
died in the twenty-second year of her age."--sketches of Virginia.

Song of Marion's Men (page 82.)

"Sallie St. Clair was a beautiful, dark-eyed Creole girl. The whole treasury of her
love was lavished upon Sergeant Jasper, who, on one occasion, had the good fortune
to save her life. The prospect of their separation almost maddened her. To sever
her long, jetty ringlets from her exquisite head--to dress in male attire--to enroll
herself in the corps to which he belonged, and follow his fortunes in the wars, unknown
to him--was a resolution no sooner conceived than taken. In the camp she attracted
no particular attention, except on the night before battle, when she was noticed bending
over his couch, like a good and gentle spirit, as if listening to his dreams. The
camp was surprised, and a fierce conflict ensued. The lovers were side by side in
the thickest of the fight; but, endeavoring to turn away a lance aimed at the heart
of Jasper, the poor girl received it in her own, and fell bleeding at his feet. After
the victory, her name and sex were discovered, and there was not a dry eye in the
corps when Sallie St. Clair was laid in her grave, near the river Santee, in a green,
shady nook, that looked as if it had been stolen out of Paradise."--Tales of Marion's

Janet McRea (page 83.)

"We seated ourselves in the shade of a large pine-tree, and drank of a spring that
gurgled beneath it. The Indians gave a groan, and turned their faces from the water.
They would not drink of the spring, nor eat in the shade of the tree; but retired
to a ledge of rocks at no great distance. I ventured to approach them and inquire
the cause of their strange conduct. One of the Indians said, in a deep and solemn
tone: 'That place is bad for the red-man; the blood of an innocent woman, not of
our enemies, rests upon that spot!--She was there murdered. The red-man's word had
been pledged for her safety; but the evil spirit made him forget it. She lies buried
there. No one avenged her murder, and the Great Spirit was angry. That water will
make us more thirsty, and that shade will scorch us. The stain of blood is on our
hands, and we know not how to wipe it out. It still rests upon us, do what we will.'
I could get no more from them; they were silent, even for Indians. It was the death
of Miss McRea they alluded to. She was betrothed to a young American by the name
of Jones, who had taken sides with the British, and become a captain of their service.
The lovers, however, had managed to keep up a correspondence; and he was informed,
after a battle in which he distinguished himself for his bravery, that his inamorata
was concealed in a house a few miles from Sandy-Hill. As it was dangerous for him
to take his horse to her residence and bring her to his tent in safety. He urged
her, in his letter, not to hesitate a moment in putting herself under their protection;
and the voice of a lover is law to a confiding woman. They proceeded on their journey,
and stopped to rest under a large pine-tree near a spring--the one at which we drank.
Here they were met by another party of Indians, also sent by the impatient lover,
when a quarrel arouse about her which terminated in her assassination. One of the
Indians pulled the poor girl from her horse; and another struck his tomahawk in her
forehead, tore off her scalp, and gashed her breast! They then covered her body with
leaves, and left her under the huge pine-tree. One of the Indians made her lover
acquainted with the facts, and another brought him her scalp. He knew the long brown
tresses of Miss McRea, and, in defiance of all danger, flew to the spot to realize
the horrid scene. He tore away the thinly-spread leaves--clasped the still-bleeding
body in his arms, and, wrapping it in his cloak, was about bearing it away, when he
was prevented by his superior officers, who ordered the poor girl to be buried on
the spot where she had been immolated. After this event a curse seemed to rest upon
the red-man. In every battle their forces were sadly cut up--the Americans attacking
them most furiously whenever they could get an opportunity. The prophets of the
Indians had strange auguries; they saw constantly in the clouds the form of the
murdered white woman, invoking the blasts to overwhelm them, and direction all the
power and fury of the Americans to exterminate every red-man of the forest who had
committed the hateful deed of breaking his faith and staining the tomahawk with the
blood of a woman, whose spirit still called for revenge. It was agreed among the
Indians in a body to move silently away; and by morning's light not a red-man was
to be found near the British troops. Captain Jones, too, was no more. In the
battle he led on his men with that fearlessness and fury that distressed minds
often do; but his men grew tired of following him in such perilous attacks, and
began to fly. As he returned to rally them he received a ball in the back. Burning
with shame, love, and frenzy, he tuned and threw himself on the bayonets of the
enemy, and at once closed his agonies and expiated his political offence. He was
laid by the side of her he had so ardently loved and deeply lamented."--Events of
the Revolution.

The Dog Star Rages.

They're gone with my last shilling. (Page 88.)
"This is a fact, and no poetic fable."--Byron

Florence's Saloon. (Page 88.)
A much-frequented restaurant in Broadway.

Sunny-Side. (Page 88.)
The country residence of Washington Irving.

The luxury of we. (Page 89.)

A wheel rigged for a tiller. (Page 90.)
A peculiarity of Commodore Christopher B. Miller's yacht, "The Ultra."

Long live the valiant Mayor. (Page 91.)
"If you want me," said His Honor, at the Astor-Place riots, on the evening of the
10th of May, 1849, "you will FIND ME--AT THE NEW-YORK HOTEL!"

The Prairie on Fire (page 131.)

This ballad is founded, in part, upon a thrilling story of the West, related by
Mr. Cooper, the novelist.

The Sweep's Carol (page 146.)

Written to be sung in character, for the purpose of introducing the wild, peculiar,
and well-known cry or carol of the sweeps of New York.

The Fallen Brave of Mexico (page 166.)

Written at the request of the Corporation of New York, for the funeral solemnities
to Lieutenant-colonel Baxter, Captains Barclay and Pierson, and Lieutenants Chandler
and Gallagher, of the New York Volunteers, who died upon the battle-fields of Mexico.
Sung by the members of the New York Sacred Music Society, on Wednesday, the 12th
day of July, 1848, in front of the City Hall.

The Champions of Liberty (page 169.)

Written, at the request of the Common Council of the city of New York, for the funeral
solemnities in honor of the gallant and lamented Major-General Worth, Colonel Duncan,
and Major Gates, late of the United States army. Sung by the Sacred Music Society
in the balcony in front of City Hall, Thursday, November 15, 1849.

The Rock of the Pilgrims (page 182.)

"The Mayflower having arrived in the harbor from Cape Cod, Mary Chilton entered
the first landing-boat, and, looking forward, exclaimed, 'I will be the first to
step on that rock.' Accordingly, when the boat approached, Mary Chilton was
permitted to be the first from that boat who appeared on the rock, and thus her
claim was established."--Thacker's "History of Plymouth," p. 30.

The Soldier's Welcome Home (page 184.)

Sung at the New York Tabernacle, on the evening of April 18, 1849, by Mr. Nash, with
a chorus of a thousand voices.

The Origin of Yankee Doodle (page 185.)

This jeau d'esprit was written for and sung by the Hutchinson Family.

New York in 1826 (page 189.)

This address, which has a local interest, is republished at the request of several
of the author's friends--one of whom "desires to preserve it as one of the curiosities
of rhyme;" and another "as a picture of New York, and its belongings, a quarter of
a century ago."

Stanza I (page 189.)
"S. W." are the initials of my much lamented friend, the late Samuel Woodworth, Esq.

She whispers of coaches,/And lockets and broaches--
refers to the holiday-presents in vogue at the time.

Stanza II (page 190.)
contains the name of an institution whose failure created great consternation on Wall

Stanza IV (page 190.)
Gas-light was introduced into New York about that period, and the gas-burners were
formed in the shapes here mentioned.

Stanza V (page 191.)

Seats on the Battery.
At the time alluded to there were none; and there was incessant warfare between the
press and the lessees of Castle Garden, which was finally settled by the interposition
of the Common Council, who caused seats to be placed on the Battery for the
accommodation of the public.

Stanza VI (page 191.)
This stanza contains the names of the fashionable poets and editors of the day.

Stanza VII (page 192.)
Lafayette visited New York during the administration of Governor Clinton. The stanza
also alludes to the then-recent completion of the Erie Canal, and to the troubles
in Greece, which occupied much of the public attention.

Stanza VIII (page 192.)
The Bowery Theatre was built in 1826.

Stanza X (page 193.)
The Garcia troupe were then performing at the Park Theatre, and they were the first
that produced Italian operas in this country. The Kean Riot had recently occurred.

Stanza XI (page 193.)
Names of the Museums and other shows, giants and Indians being then their principal

Stanza XII (page 194.)
Descriptive of the manner in which the New Year was ushered in.

Stanza XIII (page 194.)
The "New York Mirror" was one of the earliest periodicals devoted to American letters.

The Maid of Saxony (page 245.)

This Opera was first performed at the Park Theatre, on the 25th of May, 1842, and
ran fourteen successive nights. It was entirely and completely successful, being
nightly received with cheers.

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