Produced by Ben Beasley and PG Distributed Proofreaders
POETS AND POETRY
CECIL COUNTY, MARYLAND
COLLECTED AND EDITED BY
AUTHOR OF THE HISTORY OF CECIL COUNTY.
A verse may finde him whom a sermon flies, And turn delight into a sacrifice.
PUBLISHED BY THE EDITOR.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1887, by
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D.C.
This volume owes its existence to the desire of some of the teachers and pupils of the public schools in the northeastern part of Cecil county, to do honor to the memory of the late School Commissioner David Scott. Shortly after Mr. Scott’s death, some of the parties referred to, proposed to collect enough money by voluntary contributions to erect a monument over his grave, in order to perpetuate his memory, and also to show the high regard in which he was held by them. This project being brought to the knowledge of the editor, he ventured to express the opinion that the best monument Mr. Scott could have, would be the collection and publication of his poems in book form. This suggestion met the approbation of the originators of the project, who asked the writer to undertake the work of collecting the poems and editing the book. Subsequent investigation showed that Mr. Scott had not left enough poems to justify their publication in a volume by themselves; and the original plan of the work was changed, so as to include, so far as it has been practicable to do so, the writings of all the native poets of the county, and those who though not natives, have resided and written in it.
Owing to causes not necessary to state it was impracticable, in some cases, to make as creditable a selection as could have been made had it been possible to have had access to all the poetry of the different writers. In a few instances the book contains all the poetry of the different writers that it has been practicable to obtain. Herein, it is hoped, will be found sufficient apology, if any apology is needed, for the character of some of the matter in the book.
If any apology is needed for the prominence given to the poems of David Scott (of John.) it may be found in the foregoing statement concerning the origin of the book; and in the fact, that, for more than a quarter of a century, the editor was probably his most intimate friend. So intimate indeed were the relations between Mr. Scott and the writer, that the latter had the pleasure of reading many of his friend’s poems before they were published. The same may be said in a more extended sense, of the poems of David Scott (of James) to whose example and teaching, as well as to that of the other Mr. Scott–for he was a pupil of each of them–the writer owes much of whatever literary ability he may possess.
The editor is also on terms of intimacy with many of the other contemporary writers whose poetry appears in the book, and has striven to do justice to their literary ability, by the selection of such of their poems as are best calculated, in his opinion, to do credit to them, without offending the taste of the most fastidious readers of the book.
From the foregoing statement it will be apparent that the object of the editor was not to produce a book of poetical jems, but only to select the poems best adapted to the exemplification of the diversified talents of their authors. The work has been a labor of love; and though conscious that it has been imperfectly performed, the compiler ventures to express the hope that it will be received by a generous and discriminating public, in the same spirit in which it was done.
It is a remarkable fact that all the native poets of Cecil county except one or two were born in the northern part of it, and within about eight miles of the boundary line between Maryland and Pennsylvania. What effect, if any, the pure atmosphere and picturesque scenery of the country along the banks and romantic hills of the Susquehanna and Octoraro may have had to do with producing or developing poetical genius, cannot be told; but nevertheless it is a fact, that William P., and Edwin E. Ewing, Emma Alice Browne, Alice Coale Simpers, John M. Cooley and Rachel E. Patterson were born and wrote much of their poetry, as did also Mrs. Caroline Hall, in that beautifully diversified and lovely section of the county.
It is also worthy of note that Tobias and Zebulon Rudulph were brothers, as are also William P. and Edwin E. Ewing; and that Mrs. Caroline Hall was of the same family; and that Folger McKinsey and William J. Jones are cousins, as are also Mrs. James McCormick and Mrs. Frank J. Darlington, and Emma Alice Browne and George Johnston.
Owing to the fact that the size of the book was necessarily limited by the price of it; and to the fact that the poems of three of the writers were not obtained until after a large part of the book had been printed, it was impossible to give some of the writers, whose proper places were in the latter part of the book, as much space as was desirable. For the reason just stated, the editor was compelled to omit a large number of excellent poems, written by David Scott (of James,) and others.
DAVID SCOTT (of John.)
Lines Suggested by the Singing of a Bird An Eastern Tale
The Market-Man’s License
Lines on the death of Mrs. Elizabeth Scott My Schoolboy Days
The Donation Visit
Lines on the death of Miss Mary Hayes Lines on the death of Miss Eleanora Henderson Lines on the death of Mrs. Burnite
Stanzas read at the Seventy-second Anniversary of the birthday of Joseph Steele
Impromptu to Mrs. Anna C. Baker
Lament for the year 1877
Verses presented to my Daughter
Lines on the death of a young lady of Wilmington Youthful Reminiscences
Stanzas to a little girl on her birthday To Miss Mary Bain
Stanzas addressed to Mr. and Mrs. T. Jefferson Scott Birthday Verses written for a little girl on her ninth birthday Roll Call
In Memoriam Rensellaer Biddle
Stanzas written on the fly leaf of a child’s Bible Christmas Greeting, 1877
Anniversary Poem read at the anniversary of the Seventieth birthday of Mrs. Ann Peterson
Lines on the death of Jane Flounders What is Matter?
The Intellectual Telegraph
Lines on an Indian Arrow-Head
Acrostic to Miss Annie Eliza McNamee Minutes of the Jackson Hall Debating Society, Dec. 5, 1877 Retrospection
Acrostic to Miss Florence Wilson McNamee The Book of Books
The Lesson of the Seasons
John A. Calhoun, My Joe John
EMMA ALICE BROWNE.
My Father. In Memoriam, 1857
At the Nightfall
The Midnight Chime
The Old Homestead
In Memoriam. John B. Abrahams
Missive to —-
To My Sister
Measuring the Baby
The Light of Dreams
Ben Hafed’s Meed
At Milking time
The Singer’s Song
Aunt Betty’s Thanksgiving
In Hoc Signo Vinces
How Katie Saved the Train
Off the Skidloe
NATHAN COVINGTON BROOKS.
The Mother to her dead boy
To a Dove
Fall of Superstition
The Infant St. John the Baptist
The Fountain Revisited
Death of Samson
An Infant’s prayer
JOHN MARCHBORN COOLEY.
A Story with a Moral
Forty Years After
Loved and Lost
Death of Henry Clay, Jr.
Lines suggested on visiting the grave of a dear Friend
GEORGE WASHINGTON CRUIKSHANK.
New Year Ode
MRS. ANNIE McCARER DARLINGTON.
A Birthday Greeting
The Old Oak Tree
REV. WILLIAM DUKE.
Rejoicing in Hope
EDWIN EVANS EWING.
Death and Beauty
Take the Harp
Death of the Beautiful
WILLIAM PINKNEY EWING.
The Angel Voice
Then and Now
The Neglected Harp
Lay of the Last Indian
CHARLES H. EVANS.
MRS. SARAH HALL.
Sketch of a Landscape
With a Rose in January
MRS. SALLIE W. HARDCASTLE.
On Receipt of a Bouquet
Lines on the death of a Friend
MRS. MARY E. IRELAND.
At the Party
Mother and Son
The Missionary’s Story
Here and Hereafter
The Turtle’s Sermon
If You don’t believe it, try it
Bye and Bye
WILLIAM JAMES JONES.
JOHN HENRY KIMBLE.
His Last Tune
Advice to an Ambitious Youth
After the Shower
Tribute to the Memory of David Scott (of John) Spring
On the death of a Child
MRS. IDA McCORMICK.
My Fancy Land
With the Tide
The Old Fashion
My Baby and the Rose
Waiting their Crowns
Where Fancy Dwells
At Key’s Grave
The Eternal Life
MRS. ROSALIENE R. MURPHY.
Only A Baby
RACHEL E. PATTERSON.
The Christian’s Anchor
God Is Great
Selection from Tancred
Thoughts on the death of my grandchild Fanny The Decree
A view from Mount Carmel
MRS. ALICE COALE SIMPERS.
The Miller’s Romance
The Last Time
Only a Simple Maid
The Mystic Clock
Rube and Will
The Legend of St. Bavon
DAVID SCOTT (of James.)
The Forced Alliance
My Cottage Home
The Mighty One
The Surviving Thought
The Working-Man’s Song
Ode to Death
On the Mountains
Lines Written in St. Ann’s Cemetery Merry May
DAVID SCOTT (of John.)
David Scott (of John,) so-called to distinguish him from his first cousin David Scott (of James,) was the grandson of David Scott, who emigrated from Ireland in the latter part of the eighteenth century and settled not far from Cowantown in the Fourth district. His son John, the father of the subject of this sketch, was born in Ireland, but was quite young when his father came to this country.
David, the subject of this sketch, was born quite near to what was formerly known as Dysart’s Tavern, now Appleton, on the 2nd of September, 1817, and died near Cowantown, on the 14th of November, 1885.
All his life was spent within about two miles of the place of his birth, and most of it on the Big Elk creek at what was known while he owned them, as “Scott’s Mills.” His early life was devoted to farming, but upon reaching the proper age he learned the trade of augermaking, which at that time was one of the leading industries of this county, and at which he soon became an expert workman, as well as a skilful worker in iron and steel. The editor of this book has heard him remark that when he could find no one else capable of making odd pieces of ironwork for the machinery in his mills he would take the hammer and make them himself, and has also seen him make and temper the knives for a spoke machine which he used for a time in his bending mill.
He and the late Palmer C. Ricketts were intimate friends in boyhood and remained such during the lifetime of Mr. Ricketts. Mr. Ricketts being of a literary turn of mind, their friendship probably had much to do with forming the literary tastes and shaping the political opinions of Mr. Scott.
Mr. Scott was originally a Democrat, and when only about 23 years of age is said to have aspired to a seat in the General Assembly of his native State. But the leaders of the party failed to recognize his claims, and he shortly afterwards was instrumental in the formation of the first politico temperance organization in this county, and ran for the House of Delegates on the first temperance ticket placed before the people in 1845. For a few years afterwards he took no part in politics, his whole time and talents being engrossed in business, but in 1853 at the solicitation of his friend Ricketts, he consented to be a candidate for County Commissioner, and succeeded in carrying the Fourth district in which he lived, which was then known as the Gibraltar of Democracy, by a small majority, and securing his election by a majority of one vote over Griffith M. Eldredge, his highest competitor on the Democratic ticket.
In 1855 he ran on the American ticket, with the late Samuel Miller and Dr. Slater B. Stubbs, for the House of Delegates, and was elected by a handsome majority.
In 1859 Mr. Scott consented to run on the American ticket for the State Senate. His competitor was the late Joseph J. Heckart, who was elected. This was a memorable campaign on account of the effect produced by the John Brown raid upon the State of Virginia and the capture of Harper’s Ferry, which had a disastrous effect upon Mr. Scott’s prospects, owing probably to which he was defeated.
At the outbreaking of the war of the rebellion he espoused the Union cause and gave it his hearty support during the continuance of the struggle, and remained a consistent Republican until his death.
In 1864 he was a delegate to represent Cecil county in the Constitutional Convention, his colleagues being Thomas P. Jones, George Earle and the late Joseph B. Pugh. He was assigned to a place upon the Committee on the Elective Franchise and had more to do with originating that section of the Constitution which provided for the passage of a registration law than any other person on the committee–probably more than any other member of the Convention. He was an intimate friend of Henry H. Goldsborough, whom he had previously nominated in the Republican State Convention for the office of Comptroller of the State Treasury, which office he still held, and whom Mr. Scott also nominated for President of the Constitutional Convention in the Republican caucus, and, as was very natural, was often called upon by Mr. Goldsborough to preside over the Convention in his absence, which he did with that _suaviter in modo_ and _fortiter in re_ for which he was remarkable and with great acceptability to the members of both political parties.
During the invasion of the State in July, 1864, he was one of the most active members in urging upon the loyalists of Annapolis and the military authorities in that city and at Camp Parole the necessity of defending the Capital of the State. He held the handles of the plow with which the first furrow that marked the line of the fortifications around the city was made. It may not be out of place to say that the editor of this book, in company with Mr. Scott, walked along the line of the ditch the morning before, and that the former walked ahead of the team attached to the plow so that the person who led the team might know where to go.
Mr. Scott was also one of about a dozen members who remained in Annapolis for about two weeks, during much of which time the arrival of the rebel raiders was hourly expected, and kept the Convention alive by adjourning from day to day, without which, by the rules adopted for the government of the Convention, it could not have maintained a legal existence.
He was appointed School Commissioner in 1882, which office he filled with great acceptability to the public until incapacitated by the disease which terminated his life.
Mr. Scott, though one of the most amiable of men, was fond of argument when properly conducted, and from the time he was twenty years of age until nearly the close of his life was always ready to participate in a debate if he could find any person to oppose him; and thought it no hardship to walk any where within a radius of four or five miles, in the coldest weather, in order to attend a debating society. He was possessed of a large and varied stock of information and a very retentive memory, which enabled him to quote correctly nearly everything of importance with which he had ever been familiar. His ability in this direction, coupled with a keen sense of the ridiculous and satirical, rendered him an opponent with whom few debaters were able to successfully contend. But it was as a companion, a friend and a poet that he was best known among the people of his neighborhood, to which his genial character and kind and amiable disposition greatly endeared him.
Mr. Scott began to write poetry when about twenty-one years of age, and continued to do so, though sometimes at long intervals, until a short time before his death. His early poems were printed in “The Cecil Whig,” but being published anonymously cannot be identified. Like many others, he did not preserve his writings, and a few of his best poems have been lost. Of his poetic ability and religious belief, we do not care to speak, but prefer that the reader should form his own judgment of them from the data derived from a perusal of his poems.
In 1844, Mr. Scott married Miss Agatha R. Fulton, a most estimable lady, who, with their son Howard Scott and daughter Miss Annie Mary Scott, survive him.
In conclusion, the editor thinks it not improper to say that he enjoyed the pleasure of Mr. Scott’s intimate friendship for nearly thirty years, and esteemed him as his best and most intimate friend. And that while his friend was only mortal, and subject to mortal frailities, he had a kind and generous heart; a soul which shrank from even the semblance of meanness, and was the embodiment of every trait which ennobles and elevates humanity.
SUGGESTED BY THE SINGING OF A BIRD EARLY IN MARCH, 1868.
Sing on, sweet feathered warbler, sing! Mount higher on thy joyous wing,
And let thy morning anthem ring
Full on my ear;
Thou art the only sign of spring
I see or hear.
The earth is buried deep in snow;
The muffled streams refuse to flow, The rattling mill can scarcely go,
For ice and frost:
The beauty of the vale below
In death is lost.
Save thine, no note of joy is heard– Thy kindred songsters of the wood
Have long since gone, and thou, sweet bird, Art left behind–
A faithful friend, whose every word Is sweet and kind.
But Spring will come, as thou wilt see, With blooming flower and budding tree,
And song of bird and hum of bee
Their charms to lend;
But I will cherish none like thee,
My constant friend.
Like the dear friends who ne’er forsake me– Whatever sorrows overtake me–
In spite of all my faults which make me Myself detest,
They still cling to and kindly take me Unto their breast.
AN EASTERN TALE
ADDRESSED TO MRS. S.C. CHOATE.
A Persian lady we’re informed–
This happened long, long years before The Christian era ever dawned,
A thousand years, it may be more,
The date and narrative are so obscure, I have to guess some things that should be sure.
I’m puzzled with this history,
And rue that I began the tale;
It seems a kind of mystery–
I’m very much afraid I’ll fail,
For want of facts of the sensation kind: I therefore dwell upon the few I find.
I like voluminous writing best,
That gives the facts dress’d up in style. A handsome woman when she’s dressed
Looks better than (repress that smile) When she in plainer costume does appear; The more it costs we know she is more _dear_.
The story is a Grecian one,
The author’s name I cannot tell;
Perhaps it was old Xenophon
Or Aristotle, I can’t dwell
On trifles; perhaps Plutarch wrote the story: At any rate its years have made it hoary.
The Greeks were famous in those days
In arts, in letters and in arms;
Quite plain and simple in their ways; With their own hands they tilled their farms; Some dressed the vine, some plow’d the ocean’s wave; Some wrote, were orators, or teachers grave.
They were Republicans, in fact;
The Persians might have called them “black Republicans;” they never lacked
The power to beat a foeman back.
Thermopylae, so famed in Grecian story Is but another name for martial glory.
A busy hive to work or fight,
Like our New England bold and strong; A little frantic for the right,
As sternly set against the wrong;
And when for right they drew the sword, we know, Stopped not to count the number of the foe.
To me it is a painful sight
To see a nation great and good
Reduced to such a sorry plight,
And courtiers crawl where freemen stood, And king and priests combine to seize the spoil, While widows weep and beggar’d yeomen toil.
The philosophic mind might dwell
Upon this subject for an age:
The philanthropic heart might swell Till tears as ink would wet the page;
The mystery, a myst’ry will remain– The learning of the learned cannot explain.
The Persians were a gaudy race,
Much giv’n to dress and grand display; I’m grieved to note this is the case
With other people at this day;
And folks are judged of from outside attractions, Instead of from good sense and genteel actions.
The dame in question was a type
Of all her class; handsome and rich And proud, of course, and flashing like
A starry constellation, which
She was, in fact a moving mass of light From jewels which outshone the stars at night.
The tale is somewhat out of joint–
I’m not much given to complain;
‘Tis in a most essential point
A blank; I’ve read it oft in vain
To find one syllable about her size, The color of her hair, or of her eyes.
Or whether she was short or tall,
Or if she sung or play’d with grace, If she wore hoops or waterfall
I cannot find a single trace
Of proof; and as I like to be precise, My disappointment equals my surprise.
This Persian belle; (confound the belle) Excuse me, please; I won’t be rude;
She’s in my way, so I can’t tell
My tale, so much does she intrude; I wish I knew her age, and whether she
Was single, married, or engaged to be.
These are important facts to know,
I wonder how they slipped the pen
Of him who wrote the story, so
I wonder at the taste of men
Who wrote for future ages thus to spoil A tale to save time, paper, ink or oil.
Our Persian lady, as I said,
Decked out in costly jewels rare,
A visit to a Grecian made–
A lady of great worth, and fair
To look upon, of great domestic merit Which from a noble race she did inherit.
Puffed up with vanity and pride,
The Persian flashing like a gem,
Displayed her brilliants, glittering wide; The Grecian coldly looked at them:
“Have you no jewelry at all, to wear? Your dress and person look so poor and bare.”
She called her children to her side,
Seven stalwart sons of martial mien; “These are my jewels,” she replied,
“I’m richer far than you, I ween:
These are the glory and the strength of Greece, Which all the gems on earth would not increase,”
Let others shine in diamonds bright,
Or hoard their greenbacks, bonds or gold, You have your jewels in your sight,
And hearing, like the matron old;
And should they still continue to increase, You’ll beat the model mother of old Greece.
Then hail Columbia, happy land!
While California yields her ore,
May you increase your jewel band,
By adding every year one more;
And when you’re asked your jewels to display. Point to your score of sons saying “these are they.”
THE MARKET-MAN’S LICENSE,
OR THE FARMER’S APPEAL FROM A JACKASS TO THE MAYOR.
The following poem grew out of a misunderstanding between Mr. Scott and the clerk of the Wilmington market. In the winter of 1868, Mr. Scott was in the habit of selling hominy in the market, and the clerk treated him rudely and caused him to leave his usual stand and remove to another one. From this arbitrary exercise of power Mr. Scott appealed to the Mayor, who reinstated him in his old place. Mr. Scott soon afterwards had several hundred of the poems printed and scattered them throughout the market. In an introductory note he says, “the lines referring to Mayor Valentine are intended as a compliment to that officer, as well as a play on his official title of Mayor.”
I’ve horses seen of noble blood,
And stopped to gaze and stare:
But ne’er before to-day I stood
In presence of a Mayor.
I’ve talked with rulers, in and ex,
With working man and boss;
Mayor Valentine! they you unsex–
You surely are a horse.
For every blooded horse one meets,
Or clever mare he passes,
He finds in all the city streets
A score of brainless asses.
A Jackass, in the days of old,
Dress’d in a lion’s skin,
Went forth to ape the lion bold,
And raised a mighty din:
His ass-ship’s ears he could not hide; His roaring would not pass;
The startled beasts his ears descried, And recognized the ass.
The moral of this tale you’ll meet
Each market day in town,
With scales in hand, in Market street, Dress’d in the lion’s gown:
He roars, ’tis true, but scan him well Whene’er you see him pass;
Look at his ears and you can tell
He’s but a braying ass.
ON THE DEATH OF MRS. ELIZABETH SCOTT.
Ransom’d spirit, spread thy wings,
Leave thy broken house of clay;
Soar from earth and earthly things, To the realms of endless day.
Weary pilgrim, take thy rest,
Thine has been a tiresome road;
Aching head and tortur’d breast,
Added to thy galling load.
Patient sufferer, dry thy tears,
All thy sorrows now are o’er;
Foes without, or inward fears,
Never can afflict thee more.
Faithful soldier of the cross,
All thy conflicts now are done;
Earthly triumphs are but loss,
Thine is an immortal one.
Palms of vict’ry thou shall bear,
And a crown of fadeless light
Will be given thee to wear,
And a robe of spotless white.
Thou shalt join the countless throng, Which, through tribulation, came:
And repeat the angels’ song–
“Worthy! worthy is His name
Who hath conquered death and hell;
Captive led captivity;
Always doing, all things well;
Giving us the victory!”
MY SCHOOLBOY DAYS.
The following poem was read at the forty-fifth anniversary of the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. James Swaney, on January 11th, 1883. Mr. and Mrs. Swaney’s residence is not far from the site of the school house where Mr. Scott first went to school.
Dear friends and neighbors, one and all, I’m pleased to meet you here;
‘Tis fit that we should make this call Thus early in the year.
That time flies rapidly along,
And hurries us away,
Has been the theme of many a song,
And it is mine to-day.
I stand where in my childhood’s days, I often stood before,
But nothing meets my altered gaze
As in the days of yore.
The trees I climbed in youthful glee, Or slept beneath their shade.
Have disappeared–no trace I see
Of them upon the glade.
The school house, too, which stood near by, Has long since ceased to be;
To find its site I often try,
No trace of it I see.
The road I traveled to and fro,
With nimble feet and spry,
I cannot find, but well I know
It must have been hard by.
The pond where skating once I fell
Upon the ice so hard–
I lost my senses for a spell,
And hence became a bard–
Is dry land now where grain or grass
Is growing year by year;
I see the spot, as oft I pass,
No ice nor pond is there.
A barn is standing on the spot
Where once the school house stood; A dwelling on the playground lot,
A cornfield in the wood.
I mourn not for these altered scenes, Although it seems so strange
That all are changed; I know it means That everything must change.
I mourn the loss of early friends,
My schoolboy friends so dear;
I count upon my fingers’ ends
The few remaining here.
In early youth some found their graves, With friends and kindred by;
While some beneath the ocean’s waves In dreamless slumbers lie;
While many more, in distant lands,
No friends nor kindred near,
Are laid to rest by strangers’ hands, Without one friendly tear.
A few survive, both far and near,
But O! how changed are they!
Like the small band assembled here, Enfeebled, old, and gray.
Strange feelings rise within my soul, My eyes o’erflow with tears,
As backward I attempt to roll
The flood of by-gone years.
This honored pair we come to greet,
For five-and-forty years
Through winter’s cold and summer’s heat, Have worn the nuptial gears.
The heat and burden of the day
They honestly have borne,
Until their heads are growing gray, Their limbs with toil are worn.
In all the ups and downs of life–
Of which they’ve had their share– They never knew domestic strife,
Or, if at all, ’twas rare.
They now seem standing on the verge
Of that unfathomed sea,
Just waiting for the final surge
That opes eternity.
When comes that surge, or soon or late, May they in peace depart;
And meet within the shining gate,
No more to grieve or part.
THE DONATION VISIT.
The following poem was read upon the occasion of a donation visit by the Head of Christiana congregation to their pastor, Rev. James I. Vallandigham.
Fair ladies dear, and gentlemen.
I thought not to be here to-day:
But I’m a slave, and therefore, when My muse commands, I must obey.
I’ve struggled hard against her power, And dashed her yoke in scorn away,
And then returned, within an hour,
And meekly bowed and owned her sway.
I know the ground on which I stand
And tremble like an aspen when
I see around, on every hand,
Such learned and such gifted men,
Who really have been to college,
And know the Latin and the Greek;
And are so charged with general knowledge That it requires no little cheek
In an obscure and modest bard
To meet a galaxy so bright,–
Indeed, I find it rather hard
To face the music here to-night.
Dear friends, we’ve met, as it is meet That we should meet at such a time,
Each other and our host to greet,– Or guest, ’tis all the same in rhyme.
No king nor queen do I revere;
The majesty of God I own.
An honest man, though poor, is peer To him that sits upon a throne.
I long to see the coming day
When wicked wars and strifes shall cease, And ignorance and crime give way
Before the march of truth and peace.
That welcome day is drawing near;
I sometimes think I see its dawn;
The trampling of the hosts I hear,
By science, truth and love led on.
I see the murderous cannon fused,
With its death-dealing shot and shell, For making railway carwheels used,
Or civil railway tracks as well.
And small arms, too, will then be wrought Into machines for cutting wheat;
While those who used them will be taught To labor for their bread and meat.
God speed the day,–’tis bound to come, But not as comes the lightning’s stroke; But slowly, as the acorn dumb
Expands into the giant oak.
Now, reverend sir, I turn to you,
To say what all your flock well know; You, as a pastor kind and true,
Have led the way we ought to go.
You have rejoiced in all our joys,
And sympathised with us in trouble; You have baptized our girls and boys–
And often you have made them double.
With all your gifts and talents rare, You meekly take the servants place,
And guard the sheep with jealous care And hold the lambs in your embrace.
In all the ups and downs of life
We’ve found in you a constant friend; You’ve counselled peace, discouraged strife, And taught us all our ways to mend.
For eight-and-twenty years you’ve stood A watchman on the outer wall;
Repressing evil, aiding good,
And kindly watching over all.
Though age may enervate your frame
And dim the lustre of your eye,
No lapse of time can soil your name, For names like yours can never die.
ON THE DEATH OF MISS MARY HAYES.
Another star has left the sky,
Another flower has ceased to bloom; The fairest are the first to die,
The best go earliest to the tomb.
That radiant star, whose cheering ray, Adorn’d her quiet, rural home,
Went down, in darkness, at mid-day. And left that quiet home in gloom.
That lovely flower, admired so much,
In all its loveliness, was lost,
It withered at the fatal touch
Of death’s untimely, killing frost.
The mourners go about the street,
While children tell their tale of woe To every passer-by they meet,
In faltering accents, faint and low.
“Dear Mary Hayes is dead,” they say,
While tears roll down their cheeks like rain, “Her eyes are closed, she’s cold as clay,” And then their tears gush out again.
And stalwart men are dumb with grief, And sorrow pales the sternest cheek,
While gentler women find relief,
In tears–more eloquent than speech.
Surely there is some fairer land,
Where friends who love each other here Can dwell, united heart and hand,
Nor death nor separation fear.
Dear sister, dry thy flowing tears;
Fond father, raise thy drooping head; Kind brothers, banish all your fears;
Your Mary sleeps–she is not dead,
The care-worn casket rests in dust,
The fadeless jewel wings its flight To that fair land, we humbly trust,
To shine with ever glowing light.
For, on that ever-vernal shore,
When death’s appalling stream is cross’d, Your star will shine forevermore,
Your flower will bloom, untouch’d by frost.
ON THE DEATH OF MISS ELEANORA HENDERSON.
She is not dead, but sleepeth.
She is not dead, she’s sleeping
The dreamless sleep and drear;
Her friends are gathered weeping
Round her untimely bier.
She is not dead, her spirit,
Too pure to dwell with clay,
Has gone up to inherit
The realms of endless day.
She is not dead, she’s singing
With angel bands on high;
On golden harp she’s singing
God’s praises in the sky.
She is not dead, O mother,
Your loss you will deplore;
Kind sisters and fond brother,
Your Nora is no more!
No more, as we have seen her,
The light and life of home,
Of christian-like demeanor,
Which ever brightly shone:
Of youth the guide and teacher,
Of age the stay and hope–
To all a faithful preacher,
To whom we all looked up.
She is not dead, she’s sleeping,
Her loving Saviour said;
Then friends repress your weeping,
God’s will must be obeyed.
She is not dead, she’s shining
In robes of spotless white;
Why then are we repining?
God’s ways are always right.
She is not dead–O never
Will sorrow cross her track;
She’s passed Death’s darksome river, And who would have her back?
Back from the joys of heaven!
Back from that world of bliss!
Call back the pure, forgiven,
To such a world as this?
A world of grief and anguish–
A world of sin and strife–
In which the righteous languish,
And wickedness is rife,
She is not dead, she’s shouting,
Borne on triumphant wing,
“O grave, where is thy vict’ry,
O Death, where is thy sting?”
ON THE DEATH OF MRS. BURNITE WHO DIED FEBRUARY 2, 1878.
Thou, my friend, in dust art sleeping, Closed thine eyes to all below;
Round thy grave kind friends are weeping, Ling’ring, loath to let thee go.
Husband fond and children dear,
Crushed and stricken by the blow,
Banish ev’ry anxious fear,
While we lay the lov’d one low.
For the angel’s trump shall sound,
And the bands of death will break; Then the pris’ner in this mound
Shall to endless life awake.
Then the spirit which is gone
Will return and claim this dust,
And this “mortal will put on
Immortality,” we trust.
When that glorious day shall dawn,
And the bridegroom shall descend
With a gorgeous angel throng,
The glad nuptials to attend,
Oh, the rapture of that meeting!
We of earth can never know
Till we mingle in the greeting,
Of our lov’d, lost long ago.
Let me like the righteous die,
Let my last end be like his;
When I close, on earth, my eye,
Let me wake in realms of bliss.
Read at the celebration of the seventy-second anniversary of the birthday of Joseph Steele, Dec. 13, 1884.
Dear friends and neighbors, one and all, I’m pleased to meet you here to-day;
‘Tis nice for neighbors thus to call, In such a social way.
We meet to celebrate a day,
Which people seldom see;
Time flies so rapidly away
‘Tis like a dream to me;
Since I, a lad with flaxen hair
First met our friend, so gray;
We both were free from thought and care, But full of hope and play.
Well Joseph Steele, we may be glad
That we are here to-day,
Although it makes me somewhat sad
To think of friends away.
Of all our schoolboy friends but few
Alas! can now be found,
Not many but myself and you
Are still above the ground.
I count upon my fingers’ ends
About the half, I know.
Of all acquaintances and friends
With whom we used to go;
To _Humphreys_ and _Montgomery_
To _Cochran_ and to _Dance_,
And some, who slip my memory,
That used to make us prance,
Whene’er we missed a lesson
Or placed a crooked pin
Just where some one would press on
Enough to drive it in.
O, it was fun alive, I vow,
To see that fellow bounce
And hear him howl and make a row
And threaten he would trounce
The boy that did the mischief,
But that boy was seldom found,
And so, he had to bear his grief
And nurse the unseen wound;
But time and rhyme can never tell
The half our funny pranks,
And that we ever learned to spell,
We ought to render thanks.
Poor Dance! I always pitied him
For he was just from college,
And never having learned to swim,
Was drowned with all his knowledge.
Of Cochran, I but little knew,
He was a stranger here,
‘Twas always said he would get blue, And acted very queer.
Montgomery I knew right well,
He was rather kind than cross,
He taught the willing how to spell, And always would be boss.
He wrote a very pretty hand
And could command a school:
His appetite got the command,
And that he could not rule.
One day he took a heavy slug
Of something rather hot;
He took that something from a jug,
And shortly he was not.
Who “took” him, though, I never can
Nor need I ever say;
But when the Lord doth take a man,
‘Tis seldom done that way.
Poor Humphreys was a sort of crank
(Folks said his learning made him mad,) But this I know, he always drank,
And that will make the best man, bad.
Excuse this rather long digression,
My pen has carried me astray;
These schoolboy days make an impression From which ’tis hard to get away.
Then let me turn, and return too,
For I have wandered from my text,– Well, Mr. Steele, how do you do?
I hope you are not vexed.
‘Tis pleasant in our riper years
To have our children come
And bring their children–little dears, They make it seem like home.
An old man’s children are his crown,
And you may well be proud
When from your throne you just look down Upon this hopeful crowd.
But now my neighbors dear, adieu;
“The best of friends must part;”
I’ll often kindly think of you,
And treasure each one in my heart;
And if we never meet again
On this poor frozen clod,
O! may we meet to part no more
Around the throne of God.
The following lines suggested by the beautiful story of the sisters, Martha and Mary of Bethany, (Luke, 10:38-42,) were addressed to Miss Mary M., of Wilmington, Del.
In Bethany there dwelt a maid,
And she was young and very fair;
‘Twas at her house that Jesus stayed, And loved to stay, when he was there.
For Mary seated at his feet,
In rapture hung upon His word:
His language flow’d in accent sweet, Such language mortal never heard.
Her sister, cross in looks and word,
(The cares of life have this effect,) Came and accused her, to her Lord,
Of idleness and of neglect.
“Martha, Martha,” He kindly said,
Forego thy troubles and thy care– One needful thing, a crust of bread,
Is all I ask with thee to share.
“Mary hath chosen that good part,
To hear my word and do my will,
Which shall not from her trusting heart Be taken.” It shall flourish still.
Dear Mary, in this picture see
Thy own, drawn by a master hand;
Name, face and character agree
Drawn by Saint Luke, an artist grand.
TO MRS. ANNA C. BAKER.
Composed in the top of a cherry tree when the wind was blowing a gale.
In fishing for men, I should judge from your looks You’ve always had biters enough at your hooks. And whenever you dipp’d your net in the tide You had little need to spread it out wide. To encircle so many you wish’d for no more And like the old fishers sat down on the shore, Casting all the worthless and bad ones away– Preserving the good and the true to this day. May the promising youth, I saw by your side All blooming and beaming, your hope and your pride, Be a pillar of state, so strong and so tall As to make you rejoice, that you made such a haul.
LAMENT FOR THE YEAR 1887.
Read before the Jackson Hall Debating Society.
My tale to-night is full of woe,
I would that it were one of gladness; I would not thrill your hearts, you know, With notes of grief or sadness.
My friend and yours is near his end,
His pulse is beating faint and low, ‘Tis sad to lose so good a friend,
His time has come and he must go.
His life is ebbing fast away,
His mortal race is almost run,
He cannot live another day,
Nor see another rising sun.
While watching round his dying bed,
The tears we shed are tears of sorrow, We’ll close his eyes for he’ll be dead,
And carried hence before to-morrow.
His frame, so fragile now and weak,
Was late the seat of vital power,
But now, alas! he cannot speak,
He’s growing weaker every hour.
Old seventy-seven, your friend and mine, Has done his part by you and me,
Then friends, let us unite and twine, A bright wreath to his memory.
His reign has been a checker’d reign, While some have suffered loss and wrong, We have no reason to complain,
So come and join me in my song.
He found me in the lowly vale,
In poverty with robust health,
And sweet contentment in the scale, Outweighing fame and pomp and wealth.
Destroying war beneath his reign,
Has drench’d the earth with blood and tears, Which ever flow, but flow in vain,
As they have done through countless years.
When will the reign of peace begin?
When will the flood of human woe,
That flows from folly, pride, and sin, Subside, and ever cease to flow?
God speed the time when war’s alarms, Will never more convulse the earth,
And love and peace restore the charms Which dwelt in Eden at its birth.
Old seventy-seven, again adieu,
We’ll ne’er again each other see.
I’ve been a constant friend to you, As you have always been to me.
“Step down and out” you’ve had your day, Your young successor’s at the gate,
Let him be crowned without delay,
The royal stranger seventy-eight.
Presented to my daughter with a watch and a locket with a picture of myself.
Receive, my child, this gift of love, And wear it ever near thy heart,
A pledge of union may it prove,
Which time nor distance ne’er can part.
I’ve watched thy infant sleep, and prest My eager lips against thy brow,
And lingered near thy couch, and blest, Thy tender form with many a vow.
But O! the rapture of that hour,
None but a parent’s heart can know When first thy intellectual power
Began the germ of life to show.
I’ve marked the progress of thy mind, And felt a thrill of joy and pride,
To see thy youthful steps inclined
To wisdom’s ways and virtue’s side.
And when this fiery restless soul,
Has chafed the thread of life away And reached, or high or low, the goal,
And fought and won or lost the day,–
Then cherish this bright gift, my dear, And on those features kindly gaze,
And bathe them with a filial tear,
When I’m beyond all blame or praise.
ON THE DEATH OF A YOUNG LADY OF WILMINGTON.
Chill frost will nip the fairest flower; The sweetest dream is soonest pass’d;
The brightest morning in an hour,
May be with storm clouds overcast.
So Josephine in early bloom,
Was blighted by death’s cruel blast, While weeping round her early tomb,
We joy to know, she is not lost.
Fond mother, dry that tearful tide,
Your child will not return, you know: She’s waiting on the other side
And where she is, you too may go.
Their schoolboy days have form’d a theme, For nearly all the bards I know,
But mine are like a fading dream
Which happen’d three score years ago.
My memory is not the best,
While some things I would fain forget Come like an uninvited guest,
And often cause me much regret.
I see the ghosts of murdered hours,
As they flit past in countless throngs, They taunt me with their meager powers,
And ridicule my senseless songs.
‘Tis useless now to speculate,
Or grieve o’er that which might have been, My failures though they have been great, Are not the greatest I have seen.
In school I was a quiet child,
And gave my teachers little fash,
But as I grew I grew more wild,
And hasty as the lightning’s flash.
Of study I was never fond,
My school books gave me no delight, I patronized the nearest pond,
To fish or swim by day or night.
And when the frosts of winter came,
And bound the streams in fetters tight, It gave me pleasure all the same
To skate upon their bosom bright.
I was athletic in my way
And on my muscle went it strong,
And stood to fight or ran to play,
Regardless of the right or wrong.
In wrestling I did much excel
And lov’d to douse a boasting fop, Nor cared I how or where we fell
Provided I fell on the top.
I loved my friends with all my might, My foes I hated just as strong,
My friends were always in the right, My foes forever in the wrong.
A sportsman early I became,
A sort of second Daniel Boone,
And bagg’d my share of ev’ry game
From cony, up or down, to coon.
No tawny chieftain’s swarthy son,
Was ever fonder of the chase,
Than I was of my trusty gun,
Although I had a paler face.
I shot the squirrel near his den.
The silly rabbit near her lair;
And captured ev’ry now and then,
A pheasant in my cunning snare.
And many things I think of here,
Which time forbids me now to say,
That happen’d in my wild career,
To me, since that eventful day
When my fond mother wash’d my face,
And combed my flaxen hair,
And started me in learning’s race,
And breath’d to heav’n a silent prayer,
That I might grow to man’s estate,
And cultivate my opening mind;
And not be rich or wise or great,
But gentle, true and good and kind.
My mother’s face, I see it yet,
That thoughtful face, with eyes of blue, I trust I never shall forget
Her words of counsel, sage and true.
She left me, when she pass’d away,
More than a royal legacy,
I would not for a monarch’s sway,
Exchange the things she gave to me.
She gave me naught of sordid wealth,
But that which wealth can never be, Her iron frame and robust health,
Are more than diadems to me.
She left to me the azure sky,
With all its countless orbs of light, Which wonder-strike the thoughtful eye,
And beautify the dome of night.
The deep blue sea from shore to shore, The boundless rays of solar light,
The lightnings flash, the thunders roar– I hold them all in my own right.
And lastly that there be no lack,
Of any good thing by her given,
She left to me the shining track,
Which led her footsteps up to heaven.
TO A LITTLE GIRL ON HER BIRTHDAY.
My dear, the bard his greeting sends, And wishes you and all your friends,
A happy birthday meeting.
Let social pleasures crown the day, But while you chase dull care away,
Remember time is fleeting.
Then learn the lesson of this day,
Another year has pass’d away,
Beyond our reach forever.
And as the fleeting moments glide,
They bear us on their noiseless tide, Like straws upon the river,
Into that vast, unfathomed sea,
Marked on the map “eternity,”
With neither bound nor shore.
There may we find some blissful isle Where basking in our Saviour’s smile,
We’ll meet to part no more.
TO MISS MARY BAIN.
My cousin fair, dear Mary B,
Excuse my long neglect I pray,
And pardon too, the homely strain,
In which I sing this rustic lay.
My muse and I are sorted ill,
I’m in my yellow leaf and sere;
While she is young and ardent still And urges me to persevere.
She reads to me the roll of fame,
And presses me to join the throng, That surge and struggle for a name,
Among the gifted sons of song.
Of that vain stuff the world calls fame I’ve had I think my ample share.
At best ’tis but a sounding name
An idle puff of empty air.
For more than once I’ve been the choice Of freemen to enact their laws,
And patriots cheered me when my voice, I raised to vindicate their cause.
And more than this I’ve brought to pass, For I have made a lot of ground
Produce the second blade of grass,
Where formerly but one was found.
But now I love the calm retreat,
Away from tumult, noise and strife, And in the works of nature sweet
I learn her laws, the laws of life.
The monuments which I erect
Will hand my name for ages down,
While tombs of kings will meet neglect, Or worse, be greeted with a frown.
My trees will bloom and bear their fruit, My carp-pond glitter in the sun;
My cherished grape-vines too, though mute, Will tell the world what I have done.
Now lest you think that I am vain,
And that my trumpeter is dead,
I’ll drop this graceless, boasting strain, And sing of you, dear Coz, instead.
Of all my Cousins, old or new,
I love the prairie chicken best,
I see the rising sun in you,–
Although you’re rising in the west.
The picture you are working on,
I’d almost give my eyes to see,
I know it is a striking one,
For it is of the “deep blue sea.”
But how you ever took the notion
To paint a picture of the sea
Before you ever saw the ocean,
Is something that surprises me.
I’m glad you have the skill to paint, And pluck to labor and to wait;
And too much sense to pine and faint, Because the world don’t call you great.
True greatness is achieved by toil,
And labor for the public good,
‘Tis labor breaks the barren soil,
And makes it yield our daily food.
Then cultivate your talents rare,
And study nature’s lovely face,
And copy every tint with care;
Your work will then have life and grace.
When fame and fortune you attain,
And more than royal sway is sure,
‘Twill be the majesty of brain,
A majesty that must endure,
Till thrones of kings and queens shall tumble, And monuments of stone and brass,
Shall into shapeless ruin crumble,
And blow away like withered grass.
The world moves on with quickening pace, And those who falter fall behind,
Then enter for the mental race,
Where mind is pitted against mind.
While we are cousins in the flesh,
In mind I think we’re nearer still, Your genius leads you to the brush,
But mine inclines me to the quill.
And now, my cousin fair, adieu,
My promise I have somehow kept,
That I would write a line for you,
I hope you will these lines accept.
Addressed to Mr. and Mrs. T. Jefferson Scott, upon the occasion of the 24th anniversary of their wedding, March 2nd, 1882.
Kind gentlemen and ladies fair,
I have a word or two to say,
If you have got the time to spare,
Sit down, and hear my humble lay.
No tiresome homily, I bring,
To chill your joys and make you sad, I’d rather hear you laugh or sing,
Than see you solemn, dull or mad,
A bow that’s always bent, they say,
Will lose its force and wonted spring, And Jack’s all work and never play,
Makes him a dull and stupid thing.
Man’s greatest lesson is mankind,
A problem difficult to solve,
I’ve turned it over in my mind,
And reached, at last, this sage resolve:
That when I know myself right well,
I have a key to all the race,
Thoughts, purposes and aims that tell On me, are but a common case.
There is a time to laugh and sing,
A time to mourn and grieve as well; Then let your song and laughter ring,
This is no time on griefs to dwell.
We’ve met to greet our friend, T.J.,
And tender our congratulations,
Without forgetting Phebe A.,
In our most heartfelt salutations.
For four-and-twenty changeful years
They’ve worn the bright hymenial bands, And shared each other’s hopes and fears, And each held up the other’s hands.
He, like a stately, giant oak,
Has spread his branches wide and high, Unscathed by lightning’s fatal stroke,
Or tempest raving through the sky.
She, like a tender, trusting vine,
Twines round and through and o’er the tree; Her modesty and worth combine,
To hide what roughness there might be,
Beneath this cool, refreshing shade,
The wretched quite forget their woes, The hungry find the needed bread,
The weary wanderer, his repose.
Long live this honored, worthy pair!
May fortune come at their command! And may their sons and daughter fair,
Grow up to grace their native land!
And when their earthly toils are o’er, And they repose beneath the sod,
Theirs be a home on that bright shore, Illumined by the smile of God.
Written for a little girl on her ninth birthday.
In the morning of life’s day,
All before is bright and gay,
All behind is like a dream,
Or the morn’s uncertain beam,
Falling on a misty stream.
In the morning of thy youth,
Learn this sober, solemn truth;
Life is passing like a stream,
Or a meteor’s sudden gleam;
Like the bright aurora’s blaze,
Disappearing while we gaze;
Soon the child becomes a maid,
In the pride of youth arrayed,
And her mind and form expand
To proportions great and grand;
Then she changes to a wife,
Battling with the ills of life;
Thus we come and thus we go,
And our cups with joy and woe,
Oft are made to overflow.
Each returning bright birthday,
Like the mile-stones by the way,
Will remind you as you go–
Though at first they pass so slow
That behind there is one more
And, of course, one less before;
Watch the moments as they fly,
With a never tiring eye–
Since you cannot stop their flow,
O! improve them as they go.
Written on the death of William Sutton, a member of the order of Good Templars.
Call the roll! Call the roll of our band, Let each to his name answer clear,
There’s danger abroad, there’s death in the land, Call the roll, see if each one is here.
The roll call is through, one answers not, Brother Sutton, so prompt heretofore,
Has answered another roll call; the spot Which knew him shall know him no more.
He’s at rest by the beautiful river,
Which flows by the evergreen shore, Where the verdure of spring lasts forever, And sickness and death are no more.
O alas! that the righteous should die, While sinners so greatly abound,
In the world that’s to come we’ll know why, The latter incumber the ground.
This mystery we’ll then comprehend,
And all will be plain to our sight, Then dry up the tears which flow for our friend, In full faith that God doeth right.
A noble heart is sleeping here,
Beneath this lowly mound;
With reverence let us draw near,
For this is holy ground.
The mortal frame that rests below
This consecrated sward,
Was late with heavenly hope aglow,
A temple of the Lord.
His charity was like a flood,
It seemed to have no bound,
But reached the evil and the good,
Wherever want was found.
The poor and needy sought his door,
The wretched and distressed,
He blessed them from his ample store, With shelter, food and rest.
Giving his substance to the poor,
He lent it to the Lord;
While each returning harvest brought Him back a rich reward.
Thus passed his useful life away,
Dispensing good to all,
Till on the evening of his day,