CANADIAN WILD FLOWERS:
SELECTIONS FROM THE WRITINGS OF
MISS HELEN M. JOHNSON,
OF MAGOG, P.Q., CANADA
WITH A SKETCH OF HER LIFE
BY REV. J. M. ORROCK
Good thoughts spring from the human mind Like flowers out the ground: Attractive, fragrant, beautiful,— To make our joys abound
An observance of the hand of God in his providences, as well as of his Spirit in the written Word and in the human heart, has led to the publication of this book. Though more than twenty years hare passed since Miss JOHNSON died, her name is like "an ointment poured forth." Many who never knew her personally seem to know her well from her poetic writings: for "as fragrance to the sense of smell, music to the ear, or beauty to the eye, so is poetry to the sensibilities of the heart,—it ministers to a want of our intellectual nature; this is the secret of its power and the pledge of its perpetuity." A 16mo volume of her "Poems" was published in Boston, in 1855, but has long been out of print. In 1864 the Rev. E. H. Dewart published in Montreal a work entitled "Selections from Canadian Poets," in which ten of her poems were inserted and a very appreciative notice of her given. She also wrote for several papers, so that in various ways her thoughts have been widely disseminated. A desire has often been expressed to have them collected into one volume; but to have all thus republished would not be best. I have therefore attempted only what the title indicates —to make selections from her writings; and conclude to send them forth under a name which she herself chose at a time when she had thoughts of getting out a book. Let critics remember that they claim to be only "Canadian wild flowers"; yet we feel sure that some of them, for beauty of form and fragrance of truth, will not unfavorably compare with some of the cultivated productions of our classic poets. Miss JOHNSON was better known by her poetry than by her prose writings, yet in the latter are found so many grand thoughts that I have copied from them freely. The biographical sketch, it is hoped, will add interest to the book, especially as so many of her diary notes have been interwoven. Some of her pieces are here printed for the first time. The prize poem on "The Surrender of Quebec" is given in full. In the Preface to her "Poems" she said: "I have been cheered and encouraged by the thought that perhaps through my instrumentality the heart of some humble believer might be comforted, and some wretched wanderer, weary of the vanities of earth, be directed to the only source of life and happiness. Should such be the case, the brightest hopes of the authoress will be fulfilled, and she herself be amply compensated for her care and labor." With a sincere desire to aid in the direction thus indicated this little work is now sent forth.
J.M.O. Brookline, Mass., June 22, 1884.
Birth-place—The Forest (a poem)—Conviction of sin—Baptism and Resolutions—Experience—Diary notes in verse—Sufferings—Last poem— The One Name and The Adieu (poetry)—Death
The Walk in June.
An Evening Meditation.
The Bird's Nest.
To a Dandelion.
To a Robin.
God is There.
The Canadian Farmer.
The Old Sugar-Camp.
To a Rabbit.
The Old Man.
The Fading and the Unfading (prose).
On Receipt of some Wild Flowers.
The Sick Girl's Dream.
The Last Song.
An Evening Scene.
Autumn Teachings (prose).
The Surrender of Quebec.
Song of the English Peasant Girl.
A Nation's Desire.
Our Native Land.
I Love the Land where I was Born.
The World to Come.
A Welcome to a Temperance Picnic.
A Life-Scene—The Letter.
SIGHS ON MORTALITY:
What is Your Life?
The Silent Army.
The Dying Warrior.
On Seeing a Skull (prose).
Thoughts on Death.
Dead and Forgot.
On the Death of a Friend (prose).
The Heavenly Helper.
The Dead Christ (prose).
The Mixed Cup (prose).
I Shall Depart.
A Voice from the Sick Room (prose).
SONGS OF HOPE:
"He Giveth Songs in the Night."
The Last Good Night.
Retrospective and Prospective (prose).
Earth Not the Christian's Home.
"We Sorrow Not as Others Without Hope" (prose).
The Messenger Bird.
Our Ship is Homeward Bound.
Easter Sunday (prose).
The Risen Redeemer (prose).
Dost Thou Remember Me?
"'Tis I—Be Not Afraid."
The Only Perfect One (prose).
The Dying Christian.
Complete in Him (prose).
Trust in God.
A Paradox (prose).
"Thou Shall Know Hereafter."
Thine Eyes Shall See the King in His Beauty (prose).
All Is Well.
We Shall Meet.
What the Daughter of the Cloud Said (prose).
This is not Home.
The Soul's Consolation (prose).
"We See through a Glass Darkly."
Words of Cheer for Fainting Christians (prose).
The Dying Year.
Incomprehensibility of God.
The Star of Bethlehem.
God Made Me Poor.
The Stranger Guest.
A Long. Delightful Walk (prose).
"The Servant is Not Above his Master."
The Sacred Page.
Behold how He Loved Us.
Love Your Enemies.
Sententious Paragraphs (prose).
"Ye Did It Not to Me."
Hear and Help Me.
To a Mother on the Death of her Child.
In Goodness is True Greatness.
The Crucified of Galilee.
The Hebrew's Lament.
When Shall I Receive my Diploma? (prose).
Alone with Jesus.
The Lost Babe.
The Day of Wrath.
The Believer's Safety (prose).
The hill country of Judea, which furnished a home for the virgin mother of our Lord, is not the only rural region from whence have come women endowed with intelligence and integrity, philanthropy and religion, who by pen and tongue have brightened and blest the hearts and homes of thousands. Nurtured amidst the wilds of nature, instead of the bustle and bewildering attractions of city life, they have grown strong to do battle for the right and to bear testimony to the truth as it is in Jesus. Of this class is the one whose life and labors we are now to consider.
Memphremagog is an enchanting lake, two-thirds of which lie in the Eastern Townships of Canada, in the Province of Quebec, and the upper third in Vermont. Its extreme length from north to south is about thirty miles, its breadth varying from one to three miles. It is semi-circular in form and bestudded with islands; while on its western shore rise mountains of no ordinary attractions, among them Owl's Head, which towers about 2,500 feet above the surface of the lake, affording from its summit a panoramic view of surpassing loveliness. It was at "The Outlet" of this lake there was born, Oct. 27, 1834, Helen Mar, the youngest daughter of Abel B. and Polly JOHNSON; and there she spent—with the exception of the time devoted to attending or teaching school—almost her entire life. Of cities she knew nothing by experience; but as her reading was extensive she knew much of the world by mental surveys. The book of Nature was her delight. Its illustrations of stones and streams, lakes and rivers, mountains and forests, birds and flowers, were ever attractive to her. At an early age she began to exhibit rare poetic talent. Of "a number of short pieces, written between the ages of twelve and fifteen years," the following, entitled "The Forest," has been preserved. It appeared in the Stanstead Journal—a paper to which she afterwards frequently contributed. It was probably the first article she ever had printed.
"Let others seek sweet friendship's voice When grief the spirit bends, Let them find solace in the tones Of their beloved friends; But oh! when sorrow o'er me broods, Give me the dark, the dark green woods."
"When pleasure lights the sparkling eye, And swells with rapture proud, Let others spend their joyous mirth Within the giddy crowd; But when o'er me no clouds are seen, Give me the forest, dark and green."
"When pure devotion fills the heart, And breathes a yearning prayer, Let others wander to the church And pay their tribute there; But if o'er me such feelings steal, In the dark forest let me kneel."
"When death comes o'er the pallid brow To number with the dead, Let others choose some lovely grave, Where tears will oft be shed; But let me, let me find a tomb Deep in the forest's darkening gloom."
Her life was not one of thrilling adventure, hairbreadth escapes, and deeds securing worldly applause, but quiet, unobtrusive and useful. Her constitution was naturally weak—her brain too active for her body, and as a consequence much mental and physical suffering was her portion. To her studies—French, Latin and drawing, besides the English branches—she was very devoted. Nothing pleased her better than to be alone with books, pen and pencil, or to wander forth in garden or field. Being of a very bashful and retiring disposition she felt alone even in company. Her diary leaves give evidence of this. Under date of June 19,1852, for example, she writes:
"How lonely I feel to-day! and my rebellious heart will repeat the question, Why was I created thus? I stand alone, and why? I know it is my own self that makes me so; but how can I make myself otherwise? I have tried very, very hard to overcome my—what shall I call it? bashfulness? It seems as though it could not be wholly that. I have seen those the world called bashful, but they were not at all like myself. Oh, no; I am wretched at times on account of this ——. When I see myself all alone—different from those around me—I cannot stay the burning tear though I would gladly repress it. I cannot soothe the anguish that fills my heart, and yet I feel that this is wrong,—that it ought not to be thus. Why should I feel so keenly that I am alone? that I am strange? Earthly scenes will soon be over, and if I am only a Christian I shall never feel alone in heaven. Oh, glorious thought! there will be no strange being there. O God, prepare me for that blissful world and I will no longer complain of my loneliness on earth—no longer sigh that I am not like others."
At this time Miss JOHNSON was not a professed Christian. Her parents had endeavored to bring her up in the fear of the Lord and a belief of the gospel, and to attend the services of the sanctuary. Her life had been one of strict morality. She believed in God but had not taken Christ as her own personal Saviour and confessed him before men as she felt she should. Her conviction of sin however was deep and pungent. On another day in the same month, she says:—
"O Earth, thou art a lovely place, and some of thy inhabitants are as lovely and happy as thyself. See that beautiful bird, with shining plumage and brilliant crest, and hear the melodious notes that arise from its silvery throat! Its form proclaims beauty, and its song happiness. See those snow-white lambs skipping over the verdant grass,—now nestling sportively beside their bleating mothers, then springing forward, bounding from knoll to knoll, and filling the air with strains of joy and delight! See yonder butterfly weighing itself upon that brilliant flower: his gorgeous wings are expanded and glittering in the sun like sparkling gems! See those bright-eyed children! their glowing cheeks, their beaming eyes, and above all their clear and merry laugh proclaiming happiness pure and unbounded. Earth is truly lovely, but its inhabitants are not all happy. Oh no, not all, for one who loves the beauties of earth, rejoices in the loveliness of nature, and finds her chief pleasures in the spreading grove, by the babbling brook, among the brilliant flowers, is sad and unhappy. And why? Because she has learned too soon that there is no such thing as [real and abiding] happiness on earth, that the fairest plants wither, that pleasure is a deceitful phantom-false and fleeting. Truly she has learned all this, and will she never learn to raise her eyes to that bright world where true happiness only resides, and to trust meekly in Him who is the only Dispenser of peace and joy?"
Later we have another entry in which, after again referring to the beauties of nature, she exclaims:
"O life, life! I fain would read thy mysteries: I fain would draw aside every vail and behold for what purpose I was created. Was it to be an heir of sorrow? was it to live for myself alone, and then pass away and let my memory perish with me? No, I was born for a better—a higher and more holy purpose. I was not born to pass a few moments on the stage of life and then disappear forever.... With a shudder I turn away and would gladly forget to think. O thought, thought! thou wilt distract me,—thou hast almost hurled reason from her throne. Thou bitter tormentor! depart, if but for a moment, and let me once more find peace. But no; the more I seek to elude still nearer the demon pursues. O thought, thought! it rushes forth from my soul like the wild outpourings of the volcanic mountains and overwhelms me with its burning tide till body, mind and soul—all, all are exhausted and lie like a straw upon the roaring bosom of the deep. Oh, that I could arise, mingle with the gay, and forget my own deep and overpowering thoughts. But no; such thoughts, like the soul which gave them birth, can never die. O thought, what art thou? A blessing to angels, a curse to me. Distracted soul, sink into repose: others are happy, and wast thou born to be more wretched than they? Truly thou wast, and why? Because thou livest only in the regions of thought—thought which is burning my brain and piercing my lacerated heart. And yet a thought freighted with light beams through the dark clouds which its darker sisters have thrown around me, and the only inscription which it bears is, 'Live for others.' And another thought follows in rapid succession,—like a far-off echo it repeats the words of its predecessor, 'Live for others,' and then adds (while a vivid flash of the lightning of truth lights up the darkness of error), 'Live for God and for heaven.' A loud crash follows. Peals of thunder shake the atmosphere of my soul! Self has fallen: I will live for others, for God and for heaven."
This was a grand resolve; but not yet was the soul to be out of prison, the pilgrim to be freed from the Slough of Despond. Once more she has to write:—
"Everything is beautiful, and all nature is glad and rejoicing. Arise, my soul, and be thou glad likewise. Cast off thy gloomy fears. The God who made all the beautiful things by which thou art surrounded is not unmindful of thee. Oh, wondrous condescension! God is not forgetful of me. He gazes upon me with an eye of compassion; he pities my distress and my weakness. Amazing love! Oh, that I were more worthy of it; Oh, that I loved him as fervently as I ought! But my heart is callous, and I am nothing but a poor, cold, vile and helpless sinner: nothing but sin dwells hi my heart. It is the seat of every vice, every evil thought, and every depraved passion. [Jer. 17:9, 10; Mark 7:21-23]. Dark and gloomy clouds envelope my soul. A weight of sorrow presses upon my heart, and I vainly strive to free myself from its influence. Everything looks dark. 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me?' 'How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? forever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?' 'Mine iniquities are gone over my head: as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. Make haste to help me.' 'My soul fainteth for thy salvation, but I hope in thy word.' O my God, hear my cry, and answer my petition."
"Tuesday, June 29, 1852. The sultry fires of the day have yielded to the cool breezes of evening. A misty cloud hangs over the once azure sky, and the deep, heavy roar of thunder shakes the quiet air. Nearer and nearer still it rolls its deep-toned voice, and all nature seems to reply. The vivid lightnings flash. The fountains on high are opened, and the rain pours down in torrents. Wilder grows the storm: the winds are released from their 'prison-cave,' and armed with fury they rush madly forth; brighter the lightnings glare, louder the thunders roar. The whole fabric of nature seems in commotion! Oh, who can gaze upon such a scene without emotions of awe, wonder and admiration? Surely such an one must possess a stony heart and a cold nature. There is beauty for me in the lightning's glare—there is music in the thunder's peal! God grant that there may be beauty and glory for me in the day when the thundering notes of the last trumpet shall shake the heavens and awaken the sleeping dead,—when 'the elements shall melt with fervent heat,' and every soul of every tribe, and tongue and nation shall stand before the judgment-seat to receive their final doom! O grant that the Judge may be my friend, and that I—the poorest, the lowest, the vilest of sinners—may find a seat at his right hand; and the vaults of heaven shall forever ring with the praises of a redeemed sinner, saved only through the grace and blood of the crucified Saviour."
But the hour was at hand when there was to come such relief to the troubled soul as it had never before experienced,—when the divine Comforter was to take of the things of Christ and reveal them to the longing heart,—and this maiden avow herself before the world a disciple of Christ. How was this to be effected?
Sunday, July 25, I had an appointment to preach in Magog, and after the forenoon service expected to baptize a young lady who had been a schoolmate of Miss JOHNSON. In view of that arrangement I urged that they should both go together in the ordinance, but could get no encouragement that it would be so. We went to the church, where I preached from Col. 3:1-4, and after sermon announced the hymn,—
"Gracious Lord, incline thine ear, My request vouchsafe to hear; Burdened with my sins, I cry, Give me Christ, or else I die.
* * * * *
Father, thou hast given thy Son, Bruised for sins—that I have done; To that refuge now I fly; Christ is mine—I shall not die."
The effect and what followed I will allow her to relate in her own words:—
"Oh, the agony and the perfect peace that I have this day enjoyed! The agony in the morning was almost insupportable. It seemed then utterly impossible for me to take up so heavy a cross as to follow my Saviour in the ordinance of baptism. The very thought was dreadful, and yet I knew that it was my duty. I felt that the anger of God would be kindled against me,—that his Holy Spirit would not always strive with me. I threw myself upon my knees; but could find no peace there as long as I continued proudly obstinate. I started from my knees and seized 'the holy Book of God'; but there was nothing there to comfort me. I paced the room hurriedly, at every step exclaiming, 'What shall I do?' and yet I knew what to do, but would not do it. Thus the morning passed away, and trembling with emotion I entered the house of God. The sermon seemed designed expressly for me. At its close I grew more agitated. The last hymn was read, and after singing we were to repair to the water, where one happy being was to follow her blessed Saviour into a watery grave. Oh, I shall never forget that hymn,— never, no never. The closing line of each verse seemed as an echo from my own heart, 'Give me Christ or else I die'; but as the last line of the last verse fell upon my ear—'Christ is mine. I shall not die," —I think that then I did truly feel determined to come boldly forth and claim the precious promises of God as my own.
"We sought the water's side, when Josephine asked me in a trembling voice if I would be baptized. I thought she expected an answer in the negative—at least I knew that she might reasonably expect it, for I had told her plainly in the morning that I could not. My heart was too full to speak: I only bowed my head in token of assent. I shall never forget the look of joy that beamed in her countenance, nor the emotions that filled my own bosom. I saw Eliza enter the water. Oh, glorious sight! I never saw, never imagined so beautiful a scene. Every fear vanished, every cloud withdrew from my soul, and I longed to enter the waving flood. O my Saviour! I did not enter it alone. Surely it was nothing short of the almighty arm of God that supported me then. I never in all my life had so little fear of man: I had no fear then. Truly it was a foretaste of heaven. Oh, happy, thrice happy moment! it was worth a whole lifetime of sorrow. If I could always feel as I did then my heart would never again be bowed down with grief: but that very afternoon Satan began to whisper: 'You will not live up to your profession; you have deceived yourself and others; you are still a wicked creature; you are not a Christian'; and yet by the grace of God I was able, in some degree at least, to resist him.
"When I partook of the Lord's supper I felt a repetition of the happiness I had while obeying the command of my Saviour and following him into a watery grave. How vividly the last supper which Christ partook of with his disciples presented itself to my mind! and then I looked forward with joyful hope to the day when all the saints of God shall eat bread in his glorious kingdom,—when all of every age and clime shall be gathered around the table, and Jesus Christ himself be in their midst. It was a soul-inspiring thought, and for all the wealth of a thousand worlds like this I would not have been absent from that communion—from which I had so often absented myself. Yes; I had never before partaken of the Lord's supper; and it was my own wicked heart which had kept me away, for God had called loudly upon me, and his Holy Spirit had again and again striven with me. Oh, what a sinner I have been, and what a longsuffering God! I wonder that he did not cast me off forever. Oh, what mercy I 'Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.' And now, have I forsaken all for Christ? Have I thrown myself—body, soul, and spirit—upon the altar? I do want to sacrifice everything for Christ, and by the grace of God I will perform the following:—
"1. When my duty appears plain I will do it, whatever may be the consequences.
"2. I will never be ashamed to confess Christ before the world.
"3. I will consecrate my talents entirely to the Lord.
"4. I will never employ my pen in writing anything which I might regret at the bar of God.
"5. I will never permit any one of my compositions to be printed unless I can in sincerity ask the blessing of God to attend it.
"6. As I shall be brought into judgment for every idle word I say, I will endeavor never to engage in trifling conversation, but on every proper occasion to speak of the wondrous grace of God.
"7. I will, whenever a good opportunity occurs, warn my young companions to flee from the wrath to come.
"8. I will strive to set my affections on things above, not on things on the earth.
"9. By the assistance of the Holy Spirit I will endeavor to keep evil thoughts out of my heart, and to meditate upon the law of God.
"10. I will never pass a day without seeking some secret place at least twice a day, and pouring out my soul in prayer to God.
"11. I will study the Holy Scriptures, and endeavor to understand what I read.
"12. I will try to do all I can.
"O God, assist me to perform what I have written in thy fear and to thy glory. I am perfect weakness: but 'thou knowest my frame, thou rememberest that I am dust.' I know thou art merciful; Oh, give me a more exalted faith. Help me to come boldly forward and claim thy promises as mine. Humble my pride; keep me at thy feet; let not the temptations of Satan overcome me, but may I trust myself in thine arms. May I love thee fervently, above everything else—better, far than my own life. I can do nothing unless thou dost assist me. Oh, support me, and save me at last in thy kingdom, for Christ's sake."
In the evening of that ever memorable Sabbath she offered aloud a few words of prayer at the family altar, and next day (as she was then teaching) had prayer in her school: thus she "confessed with the mouth the Lord Jesus" while in her heart she believed that God had raised him from the dead (Rom. 10:9). Immediately after the Son of God himself was baptized, he was in the wilderness "tempted of the devil"; it need not be thought strange therefore if his followers soon after their baptism are also grievously assaulted by the same adversary. This young Christian did not escape him entirely; yet from that day until her death, though conscious of much weakness and imperfection, having many dark days and great sufferings, she never renounced her allegiance to the King of kings, who had bought her with his blood. A few more selections from her diary will show the working of her mind about this time.
"Aug. 7. A calm and quiet morning. A soothing calm steals over my soul. Faith, with triumphant wing, rises far above, the scenes of earth and points to that glorious world where Christ pleads for me before the throne of his Father. The doubts which have so long filled my heart are sinful and dishonoring to God, and I will no longer give place to them: I will look away from myself—from my sins—to the holy Lamb of God. I will trust wholly in him and in his merits alone for acceptance."
"Sunday, Aug. 8. What I have done to-day would once have seemed impossible, the cross that I have taken up would have seemed almost insupportable. I could not have believed the last time I attended the prayer-meeting that at the next one I should stand up as a witness for Christ. But thank God! my proud heart has in some degree been humbled, and the dearest hope I now cherish is, that Christ may not be ashamed to confess me before his Father and all the holy angels."
"Aug. 22. While standing this evening by the grave of one dearly beloved in life, and cherished more fondly now that death has taken her from my embrace, I could not stay the soaring flight of fancy, which would portray to my mind in vivid colors our meeting at the great Resurrection morn; and the thought that that meeting was so near—that in a very little while the grave should lose its power and that she would come forth robed in immortal beauty, filled my soul with transport and almost brought to my lips the yearning cry, 'Come, Lord Jesus, and come quickly.'"
On the 27th of August Miss JOHNSON closed her school, and after spending a few weeks at home went to the academy at Derby Centre, Vt. Under date of "Wednesday, Oct. 26," we have this entry in her journal:—
"Attended the exercises to-night and read a composition. They could not have liked it, for it was upon a subject which must be disagreeable to the world; and yet it is the subject nearest my heart—one that I love to dwell upon and to hear about: the coming of my blessed Saviour. When will the glorious morn appear! Loud and repeated cheers were given when Miss —— read her composition. Well, it was good; such as would suit the world, but not me—strange being that I am. But I shall not always be so: in heaven I shall not be a stranger. There I can converse with the saints dearly-beloved: for their conversation will be on the things of God; and my Saviour himself will deign to address me there! Why should I not then long, aye long to obtain that blissful state? And yet I sometimes fear that I shall fall far short of it, for I am so vile and polluted."
The "composition" referred to we do not find among her papers; but much that she has written shows that she was indeed deeply interested in "that blessed hope" (Tit. 2:13). She was a decided pre- millennialist, and stood identified in her church-membership with the Evangelical Adventists. On completing her eighteenth year (Oct. 27, 1852), she said:—
"This evening, while looking back through all the events of my life, what is there that rejoices me most? It is one that the past year has brought forth,—one that will ever be remembered with deep and powerful emotions: the day that consecrated me to the Lord, when I breathed forth with a fervent heart, 'Give me Christ, or else I die,' and I was enabled to take up my cross and follow my Saviour in baptism."
Here there is no regret expressed for the step she had taken, nor did she ever feel any, though she greatly deplored her weakness and unprofitableness in the Lord's service. And why not? Listen to her, under date of June 13, 1853:—
"How sweet, when the soul has no earthly support, to fly to the Rock of Ages! The Saviour is precious to the heart of the pardoned sinner. There is nothing like the love of Jesus. He is not like other friends —oftentimes wearied by our complaints and the repetition of our sorrows, but is always longsuffering and delighting to hear and answer every cry of the burdened spirit; smiling ever in the darkest of afflictions, and forever dropping the balm of consolation into the distracted breast. Oh, what a privilege to have such a friend—such a sure and steadfast friend—such a wise and omnipotent friend. And he is my friend? Yes; he is 'the sinner's FRIEND,' and therefore mine: for surely nothing but wondrous love could have led him to die a cruel and ignominious death for me, polluted as I am. O Jesus, thou art my friend and I will be thy friend; thou didst love me first and I do love thee, but not as fervently as I should, nor so much as I desire. O God, give me more of thy Holy Spirit; may it consume every unhallowed passion, tear every idol from my heart, and consecrate that heart entirely to thee."
The only journal notes of considerable length which Miss JOHNSON seems to have made were for the years 1852 and 1853. Those for 1855 and 1860 were entered in a "daily miniature diary." We find none for other years, though she always kept her pen and pencil busy in some way as long as she had strength to write. The diary for 1855 is in rhyme— usually six lines being allotted to each day. While some of the verses are playful and witty, most of them are religious and plaintive. The following are given as specimens:
"Arose at six o'clock today: How swift the moments sped away Engaged in household duties; Then Virgil claimed awhile my care, And Pope of time a larger share, With all his sweets and beauties."
"Mr. Goodenough and wife Came here yesterday; Through the changing scenes of life Onward be their way; And never may their path be rough So long as they are Good-enough."
"Received of Robinson to-day For my 'Address' a little pay: The first of cash I ever had For writing verses, good or bad. O Lord, whate'er my gains may be The tenth I dedicate to thee."
"I would not seek the haunts of mirth, For in the gayest scenes of earth Are hovering grief and care; But oft I find a soothing power, At twilight's calm and peaceful hour, In secret prayer."
"Jesus, oh, precious name! How sweet it sounds to me; Come want, come grief, come death or shame I'll cling, my Lord, to thee."
"I'd rather be distressed with doubts And find no sweet release, Than be content to settle down In false repose and peace; But, ah! I wish I knew my name In the Lamb's book a place could claim."
"While here distressed I lie, What joy my heart doth thrill At the enchanting thought, That Jesus loves me still!"
"Sweet Sabbath morn! to me it brings, As if on angel's airy wings, Visions of peace and rest: I seem to stand upon the plains Where an eternal Sabbath reigns, And dwell the pure and blest.
"I wept—when lo, my heart to cheer J—— sobbing whispered in my ear: 'Don't cry, for I will serve the Lord;' How sweet the sound! what great reward." [Psa. 126:5,6].
"How little comfort have I known In this dark vale of tears! For Sorrow marked me for her own In childhood's early years. And ever since, by night and day, Has hovered round my lonely way."
"'Twas nearly two—but sleep had fled My pillow for the night; I rose—but all was dark around, And I could find no light: And then I knelt and prayed for those Who, like me, found no sweet repose."
"Sick, sick, sick, And gloomy all the day; Sick, sick, sick, Thus life wears away."
"Murmur not, my troubled soul, At thy Father's dealings; Wild the billows round thee roll: Yield not to the feelings Of despair that gather round: Troubles rise not from the ground." [Job 5:6-8].
"How many souls around the throne Once suffered here like me,— Like me discouraged, tempted, tried, But now for ever free: They shout their griefs and trials o'er; Then let me fear and doubt no more."
"At home all day; I cannot pray, Can neither read nor think: O God, I cry; the waves roll high, Support me or I sink."
"Did I murmur that the rod Was so heavy, O my God? I forgot the cursed tree, I forgot Gethsemane, I forgot the grief and pain— May I ne'er forget again."
"Unworthy, wretched as I am I hope for mercy through the Lamb: His name, his glorious name prevails When every other passport fails; It opens Heaven's eternal gate; Then, doubting soul, why longer wait?"
"Sabbath after Sabbath comes; When will dawn the endless day? Swiftly roll the wheels of time, Swiftly pass the hours away; Brighter and brighter from afar View we now 'the Morning Star.'"
"And we, alas! are called to part: 'Farewell' is said, with aching heart; But God will watch o'er thee I ween, And guide thee through each trying scene, My dearest sister Josephine!"
"The glorious sun— His race has run, And sweetly sought repose: O that for me This life might be As bright—as calm its close!"
"What an awful peal of thunder! O my soul, be still and wonder; Yet another, and another— Each one louder than the other; God of heaven, I see thy power, May I feel it hour by hour."
"A thousand twinkling stars to-night Look down with soft and silvery light And tell the majesty divine Of Him who gives them leave to shine. Oh, what an atom must I be, And yet He loves and cares for me!"
"The wheels of Time-how swift they roll! Dost thou consider, O my soul, That it shall soon be said to thee: 'Time was, but time no more shall be'? Then seize upon the present hour; Improve it to thy utmost power."
In the fall of 1856 Miss JOHNSON was prostrated by disease, and nearly all the time afterwards confined to the house. So numerous and complicated were her difficulties as to baffle the skill of all the physicians who saw her, and no one knows the amount of suffering she endured. Her mind however was active and vigorous, and though there were seasons—sometimes quite protracted—when to her the heavens above seemed as brass and the earth iron, yet God did not forsake her: the sunshine succeeded the storm, and the peace that Jesus gives—was poured into her wounded heart. Referring to her afflictions in 1858 and the two following years she writes:—
"Those were days and nights of anguish, but I now look back to them with feelings of regret, for my feet had only touched the dark waters and my lips had only tasted the cup from which I was to drink the very dregs. Early in the spring of 1858 I was seized with fever and acute inflammation of the stomach, which brought me to the verge of the grave. I could feel the warm tears of beloved ones upon my cheeks, as they bent tenderly over me; I could see the dark vale just ahead (though there was a light amid the darkness), but my sufferings were not to be so soon terminated. Gradually my disease assumed a chronic form, and physicians said there was no hope. The little nourishment I could take distressed me so, terribly that the very thought of eating made me shudder, and my stomach became so sore that I could not be moved from one side of the bed to the other without uttering a cry of pain. Winter, spring, summer and autumn in turn visited the earth, and with each I thought, aye, longed to depart; but the great Refiner had his own purpose to accomplish,—there was a little fine gold but the dross rendered it useless. The ordeal through which I am passing is indeed a terrible one, but I know where peace and consolation are to be found, and there are times when I can say in sincerity, 'Thy will be done.'"
Thursday, Jan. 1,1863, she wrote:—
"Bright, beautiful day. Many people on the ice. Edwin [her brother] there. Over our dwelling is a shadow; it falls upon our spirits and we are sad. Will it never be removed? God grant we may be patient and grateful for the blessings we do enjoy, for are not friends—true, tender friends, the greatest and holiest of blessings? and while we have them God forgive us for murmuring at his dealings."
The last entries in her diary are: "Feb. 2. Very sick"; "Tuesday, 3rd. No better." It is uncertain when the following lines were written, but it might have been about this time:—
"I'm going home to that bright land of rest Where pain and grief and sickness are unknown; The year begins in sorrow, but will close In joys that never end—I'm going home! Last year the warning came on sunken eye And wasted cheek. I gazed and thought to spend My Christmas with the angels. God knows best; And here I linger, weary sufferer still. The morning comes long watched-for, long desired; The day drags on, and then the sleepless night: But this will have an end—it must be soon."
About six weeks before her death she was taken with nausea and vomiting: everything she took distressed her, and for the last twenty-three days she took no nourishment save what water contains. Her prayer—
"Close to the Cross, close to the Cross. God grant I may be found When death shall call my spirit hence, or the last trumpet sound,"—
was indeed answered. Her end was very peaceful and happy. For several weeks not a cloud seemed to pass over her mind; and though often in great distress there was no impatience manifested, nor did a murmur escape her lips. She said, "It is nothing to die: 'the sting of death is sin,' and when sin is taken away the sting is gone." On another occasion she remarked: "I have often heard the words sung—
'Jesus can make a dying bed Feel soft as downy pillows are'—
and thought they were not strictly true; but now I know that they are perfectly, perfectly so." Once as we stood by her bedside she observed her mother and sister weeping, and with a countenance beaming with joy (sufficient to remind us of 1 Pet. 1:8) she expressed surprise, remarking: "It seems to me I am only crossing a narrow brook, and as I look back I see you all coming—we shall soon meet." Her view of her own weakness and sinfulness was indeed clear, but she had such unwavering faith in her Redeemer as enabled her to say: "Dying seems to me like laying the head back and closing the eyes, just to open them in a few moments on the joys of paradise." The following lines, written with a pencil on the cover and blank leaf of her French Testament, were the last she ever wrote. They are dated March 3—just ten days before her death—and give indubitable evidence of the clearness of her intellect and the strength of her faith while passing through "the valley of the shadow of death":—
"Jesus, I know thou art the living Word! Each blessed promise to myself I take; I would not doubt, if I had only heard This—this alone, 'I never will forsake!'
I have no fear-the sting of death is sin, And Christ removed it when he died for me: Washed in his blood, my robe without, within, Has not a stain that God himself can see.
Wrapped in the Saviour's arms I sweetly lie; Far, far behind I hear the breakers roar; I have been dying—but I cease to die, My rest begins—rejoice forevermore!"
Having expressed a wish to be visited by all her acquaintances, many called to see her, with whom she conversed freely on the interests of their soul. With great composure she made arrangements for her departure—leaving books and other articles to her intimate friends. One day she made a request that I should preach her funeral sermon. For a moment I hesitated because of relationship (having married her sister Josephine), then remarked, that I supposed there would be no impropriety in doing so, as I recollected that Whitefield preached his wife's, to which she immediately added, "And Wesley preached his mother's." On asking if she had thought of any passage to be used as a text, she replied: "I first thought of the words, 'I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness'; but you know that is all about I, and now I feel that Christ is all—it is all Christ: so I have thought of his words in the 11th of John, 'I am the Resurrection and the Life.'" She also suggested to her sister that the following hymns (which were favorites with her) should be used on the occasion:
"Come let us join our cheerful songs With angels round the throne;"
"On Jordan's stormy banks I stand And cast a wishful eye,"—
"Joyfully, joyfully, onward I move, Bound for the land of bright glory and love."
The joyous character of the hymns will at once be noted; and this was the very reason why she selected them: she considered that they would be more expressive of her condition than the mournful ones which are so frequently used at funerals. Two of her poems seem so appropriate here that we insert them. The former was written in June, 1859, and the latter bears date "Nov. 30, 1861":—
THE ONE NAME.—ACTS 4:12.
"When round my dying bed ye stand, And kiss my cheek and clasp my hand, Oh, whisper in my failing ear The only Name I care to hear,— The only Name that has the power To comfort in the dying hour.
"Let neither sob nor sigh be heard, But still repeat that sacred word,— Until the solace it imparts Descends like balm upon your hearts, And I in triumph gladly sing: 'O dreaded Death, where is thy sting?'
"And when released from sin and clay My happy spirit soars away, And pauses at the heavenly gate, Where saints and smiling angels wait, And views the city bright and fair,— That Name shall be my passport there!
"Oh then, in calm and holy trust, Give my poor body to the dust— Assured that God will guard the clay Until the Resurrection Day, When he on whom my soul relies In thunder tones will bid me rise.
"Amid the earth-devouring storm, Made like my Saviour's glorious form, Redeemed from sickness, death, and pain, I shall awake to life again; And soul and body both shall be With Christ throughout eternity."
"You will miss me when I am gone— At morning, at night, and noon: I have needed your arm to lean upon, I shall need it no longer soon.
"I've been helpless for many years, 'No burden' you always said;— I have claimed your pity, your prayers and tears You will miss me when I am dead.
"How many a dreary night You have watched by my couch of pain, Till the streaming in of morning light— You will never watch again.
"God taketh not all away The bitter and sweet he blends, And I bless his name by night and day That he has not denied me friends.
"You have shared the heavy load, Which alone I could not have borne; I am going now to a bright abode, But I leave you, alas! to mourn.
"You will miss me when I am gone, As you never have missed before! I have needed your arm to lean upon But soon I shall need it no more.
"I lean on my Saviour's breast In this hour of mortal pain; Oh, strong are His arms! and sweet my rest! Farewell! till we meet again."
The expected hour though long of coming arrived at last. As long as she seemed to realize what was transpiring around her, and when too weak to converse, she would signify by a word or motion that she had peace and all was well. About a quarter past 11 o'clock Friday night, March 13, 1863, "the silver cord was loosed," and she sweetly fell asleep in Jesus, aged twenty-eight years, four months, and sixteen days. On the Tuesday following we buried her from the village church, where ten years before she had decided to come out openly on the Lord's side. It was crowded. Three ministers, from as many different denominations, assisted me in the services. Her mother and sister (the wife of Dr. G. O. Somers) were too feeble to attend. But we hope soon to greet her where—to use her own words,
"Earthly love is like the starlight lost In glorious sunshine, and the things of time Shrink into nothing: even death itself Fades like a shadow in the noontide blaze, And life—new, glorious, everlasting life— Expands the soul, and all it ever dreamed Of heavenly bliss becomes reality."
Above the stillness of death we hear the words of inspiration: "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints"; "Thy dead shall live again"; and in hope we wait. The weary pilgrim has reached her resting-place. She lies in the chamber of Peace, whose windows open toward the sunrising.
Thou King of kings, Almighty One! bend unto me the ear That listens to the music of every rolling sphere, And guide, oh guide my feeble hand to strike my slumbering lyre To strains harmonious and divine, and every thought inspire.
—Poems, p. 9.
THE WALK IN JUNE.
A walk in June, in early June, Our sweet Canadian June— When every tree is all in leaf, And every bird in tune; When laughing rills leap down the hills And through the meadows play, Inviting to their verdant banks The old, the young, the gay.
When not a cloud is in the sky, Nor shadow on the lake Save what the trees that line the shore And little islands make,— When every nook where'er we look, Is bright with dewy flowers, And violets are thickly strewn As though they fell in showers.
How sweetly on the balmy air The children's voices ring! And even I renew my youth With each returning spring. Oh, we may keep a fresh young heart Though outward beauty fade, If we but cherish there a love For all that God has made.
I do not call a happy man The man that's rich or great; Nor him, who stands with folded hands And says, "It is my fate!" But he is blest who cheerfully Endures or does his part, And looks on earth, and sea, and sky With an adoring heart.
He wanders by the pebbly beach. And by the summer brook, And thoughtfully he turns the leaves Of Nature's blessed book. In forest shade, on hill, in vale, Where'er he walks abroad, There goes an humble worshipper— A lover of his God.
The cares that trouble other men For him have little weight; He values glory at its worth, Nor cringes to the great. His simple pleasures never fail, Nor make his nature cold,— And though the years may come and go, He never can be old.
You call the picture overdrawn— But such a man I know; Whose presence, like the morning sun, Dispels each cloud of woe. And trustingly I cling to him As only true love can,— My comforter, protector, guide,— My love, thou art the man!
And you are teaching me to look On nature with your eyes; The pleasant change within my heart Each day I realize. The world is brighter now to me, A holier thing is life. Than even on that happy day When first you called me wife.
The trifles that perplexed me then Now leave my spirit calm,— An for the deeper woes of life I have a healing balm. I see the hand of God in all, I know that he is just; And where I cannot understand I've learned to wait and trust.
Oh, I remember well the day— 'Twas in the month of June, When every tree was all in leaf, And every bird in tune,— We walked together, arm in arm, As we are walking now, But I was young, and Time had left No traces on your brow.
I listened with a strange delight To every word you said, And then to hide the burning tears I turned away my head. I dared not trifle with your love, Though till that magic hour I had not cared for aching hearts If they but owned my power.
I never felt so vile before— So humbled in mine eyes; I wondered what you saw to love: I thought you must despise. For I was gay, and you were grave, And I was vain and proud: You loved the meadow and the grove, And I the laughing crowd.
I told you frankly of my faults, You would not hear me through; You said you were an erring man, And earthly angels few. But would I show my better side? And would I deign to bless? You held my hand—what could I do? And so I answered, "Yes."
Do I regret it? Nay, my love, For were I free as then The man I chose I still would choose Before all other men. And I would say, For life or death, For happiness or woe, Where'er you dwell there I will dwell, Where'er you go, I go.
That was a day, and that a walk To be remembered long: It changed the current of my life, And made each thought a song. There was a glory in the sky, A glory on the trees, And the perfumes of Paradise Were poured on every breeze.
I scarcely seemed to walk the earth, My spirit was so light; 'Twas easy then to shun the wrong, So easy to do right. New hopes began to bud and bloom Like blossoms in the spring,— My heart o'erflowed with tenderness For every living thing.
I was no more the thoughtless girl By idle fancy led; Life seemed to me reality, And yet I did not dread To walk along its roughest path: I should not walk alone,— Another and a better life Was blended with mine own.
One blessing more and then, you said Our joy would be complete; Your prayer was answered when I sat At the Redeemer's feet. And deeper, holier grew our love,— Our union was to be Not only for a lifetime here, But for eternity.
Thus peacefully we passed along Till that eventful day When all the labor of our hands Like chaff was swept away: We saw our home made desolate, Our pleasant cottage sold; Men called us poor, but we were rich In better things than gold.
For we had lived an honest life; We could look up and say: We never wronged a fellow-man, Nor turned the poor away. We held a treasure in our arms Which every care beguiled; He never sorrowed, never sinned— For Jesus took the child.
There is a little mound of earth Where, when the spring appears, We watch the budding violets, And water them with tears. Oh, it were more than earthly love That soothed a parent's woe When there we laid our darling down, Full twenty years ago!
Sometimes my heart grows sad and sick When to the past I turn, And for a sweet and gentle voice To call me mother yearn. I see the silver in my hair, The lines upon your brow,— And oh, I wish our boy had lived To be our comfort now!
One moment—then the wish is o'er: The sun begins to shine; I lift my heart in thankfulness, And say, "Thy will is mine." 'Tis true, of poverty and pain We both have had our share, But do you think in all the world There is a happier pair?
I know the harvest-time is near,— I know the Reaper stands Before us, and I tremble much Lest he unlock our hands But God will be our strength and shield, Our refuge in that hour; And he will join our hands again Beyond the Reaper's power.
Now let me wipe away those tears; Forget my gloomy talk, And with your own improve the scene And sanctify our walk: So that with Nature's melody Our hearts may be in tune, And send up incense like the flowers This pleasant day in June!
AN EVENING MEDITATION.
How softly yonder pale star beams above my head to-night! How beautiful it appears in the azure vault of heaven where twilight holds the connecting link between day and night. Oh, if my soul were freed from its clayey fetters how swiftly it would fly (if such a journey were possible) to the boundaries of that sweet star! Can that fair planet, seemingly so pure and spotless, be inhabited by beings as frail and erring as ourselves? Can there be any sad souls there to- night— any who are weeping over blighted hopes and blasted prospects? It may be so; and yet perchance such a thing as a pang of sorrow and a burning tear are unknown, for it may be sin has never entered there. Vain, useless conjectures! But will the veil which hides the scenes of other worlds from our eyes never be withdrawn? ... Surely it is because God is merciful that I have been spared through another day. I cannot forbear wondering that I have been spared so long,—that I have not been cut down as a cumberer of the ground. O God, according to thy loving-kindness preserve me. Grant that I may yet be an humble instrument in thy hand of doing something for the good of thy cause. Forgive my numberless sins and at last receive me to glory.—July 20, 1852.
It is a lovely scene; the sun has set, But left his glory in the western sky Where daylight lingers, half regretful yet That sombre Night, her sister, draweth nigh, And one pale star just looketh from on high; 'Tis neither day nor night, but both have lent Their own peculiar charms to please the eye,— Declining day its sultry heat has spent, And calm, refreshing night its grateful coolness lent.
The lake is sleeping—on its quiet breast Are clouds of every tint the rainbows wear, Some are in crimson, some in gold are dressed. Oh, had I wings, like yonder birds of air, How I would love to dip my pinions there, Then mount exulting to the heavenly gate,— A song of love and gratitude to bear To Him who gives the lowly and the great, In earth, and sea, and sky, so glorious an estate.
It is the time when angels are abroad Upon their work of love and peace to men,— Commissioned from the dazzling throne of God, They come to earth as joyfully as when The tidings ran o'er mountain and o'er glen, "A son is born, a Saviour and a King,"— For they have tidings glorious as then, Since tokens from our risen Lord they bring, That life has been secured, and death has lost its sting.
The twilight deepens; o'er the distant hill A veil is spread of soft and misty grey; And from the lake, so beautiful and still, The images of sunset fade away; The twinkling stars come forth in bright array, Which shunned the splendor of the noontide glare,— A holy calm succeeds the bustling day. And gentle voices stealing through the air, Proclaim to hearts subdued the hour of grateful prayer.
Hark! it is the robin crying, He has heard the voice of Spring; From the woods the crow is flying, And the jay is on the wing.
Slowly now the sun is ranging Each day nearer to the west; All things tell the year is changing, Nature wakens from her rest.
Lower sink the snow-drifts daily, Half the pasture lands are bare; And the little streams leap gayly From their chains to breathe the air.
While the barren earth rejoices, Care-worn mortal, come away,— Listen to the pleasant voices Of the resurrection day.
Dost thou understand the token? Nature should not teach in vain What its gracious Lord hath spoken— That the dead shall live again!
THE BIRD'S NEST.
Two robins came in early Spring,— When Winter's reign was o'er; And every morn I heard them sing Just by our cottage door.
They built their nest of moss and hay Within a maple-tree,— And thither every pleasant day, I went to hear and see.
At first whene'er I came they flew, Or eyed me in alarm; But soon my step familiar grew, I never did them harm.
One day a louder song I heard, With eager cries for food; And then I helped the mother-bird To still her hungry brood.
I always seemed a welcome guest; Both old and young I fed, Then settling down beneath the nest, Some pleasant book I read.
I watched them fondly day by day, Until their wings were grown; When suddenly they flew away, And left me all alone.
The bitter tears began to start, And full of sad regret I wondered in my simple heart, If birds could thus forget!
Ah! many summers have returned, And many changes wrought, Since I the mournful lesson learned, In early childhood taught.
And many hopes have taken wings On which my heart was set,— And I have found that many things As well as birds forget!
Gather violets white and blue, Where the southern zephyrs play; Bring them sparkling with the dew,— With the blessed dew of May.
Let me fold them to my breast, Emblems sweet of earthly bliss; Ha! they love to be caressed, For they give me kiss for kiss.
How my weary heart doth yearn, Touched as by a hand Divine, While their soft blue eyes they turn Full of sympathy to mine!
Do they know how much I sigh For the meadows where they grew? For the forest and the sky, Where they caught their azure hue?
There is One who knows it all,— To his loving arms I flee: Oh, he hears my feeblest call, And I know he pities me.
He ere long will take my hand Saying tenderly, "Arise!" He will lead me to the land Where no blossom ever dies.
TO A DANDELION.
Blessings on thy sunny face, In my heart thou hast a place, Humble Dandelion! Forms more lovely are around thee, Purple violets surround thee,— But I know thy honest heart Never felt a moment's smart At another's good or beauty,— Ever at thy post of duty, Smiling on the great and small, Rich and poor, and wishing all Health, and happiness, and pleasure, Oh, thou art a golden treasure!
I remember years ago, How I longed to see thee blow, Humble Dandelion! Through the meadows I would wander, O'er the verdant pastures yonder, Filling hands and filling lap, Till the teacher's rap, rap, rap, Sounding on the window sash Dreadful as a thunder crash, Galled me from my world ideal To a world how sad and real,— From a laughing sky and brook To a dull old spelling-book; Then with treasures hid securely, To my seat I crept demurely.
Childhood's careless days are o'er, Happy school days come no more, Humble Dandelion! Through a desert I am walking, Hope eluding, pleasure mocking, Every earthly fountain dry, Yet when thou didst meet mine eye, Something like a beam of gladness Did illuminate my sadness, And I hail thee as a friend Come a holiday to spend By the couch of pain and anguish. Where I suffer, moan and languish.
When at length I sink to rest, And the turf is on my breast, Humble Dandelion! Wilt thou when the morning breaketh, And the balmy spring awaketh, Bud and blossom at a breath From the icy arms of death, Wilt thou smile upon my tomb? Drawing beauty from the gloom, Making life less dark and weary, Making death itself less dreary, Whispering in a gentle tone To the mourner sad and lone, Of a spring-time when the sleeper Will arise to bless the weeper?
My Father made this beautiful world and gave me a heart to love his works. Oh, may I love Him better than all created things!
The little plat of ground around our house is a great field of instruction and amusement to me. How little do I comprehend of all contained within it! I am glad I was not born in some great city— where Nature had not been so kind and dear a friend.
TO A ROBIN.
Robin Red-breast on the tree, Do you sing that song for me?
"You are listening it is true, But I do not sing for you. Higher yet on tiptoe rise, Don't you see a pair of eyes Peeping through the pleasant shade Which the summer leaves have made? There they watch me all day long, Brightening at my cheerful song, Turning wheresoe'er I go For the evening meal below. Dearest mate that ever blest Happy lover—peaceful nest,— Guarding well our eggs of blue, All my songs I sing for you!"
GOD IS THERE.
When the howling winds are high, And the vivid lightnings fly Through the air;— When the deafening thunders roll, Peace to thee, O troubled soul— God is there!
When the dreary storm is past, And the promised bow at last— Bright and fair— In the cloudy sky appears, Smiling still through Nature's tears God is there!
When the tender buds unfold Bright with purple and with gold In the air,— Or, at twilight when they close Wrapped awhile in sweet repose God is there!
Where the robin chants her lay Sweetly at the dawn of day, Or with care Builds her soft and downy nest, Lulls her little brood to rest, God is there!
When the countless stars appear, Ever to the listening ear They declare: He who sees the sparrows fall Made us and supports us all; God is there!
When the youthful knee is bent, And to heaven is humbly sent Grateful prayer,— Bending from his throne above Full of tenderness and love God is there!
Though his arm sustains the spheres 'Tis the sweetest sound he hears— Child-like prayer; Seek then oft the peaceful shade: There our Blessed Saviour prayed— God is there!
THE CANADIAN FARMER.
How beautiful thou art, my native stream! Art thou not worthy of a poet's theme? The Po and Tiber live in ancient lays, And smaller streams have had their need of praise, Art thou less lovely? True, in classic lore Thou art unknown, and on thy quiet shore There are no monuments of other times, No records of the past—its woes or crimes. The roar of cannon and the clang of arms Have never shook thy bosom with alarms, And never has thy calm and peaceful flood Been stained to crimson with a brother's blood. The sportsman's rifle only hast thou heard Scaring the rabbit and the timid bird; Or may be in the savage days of yore The wolf and bear have bled upon thy shore. But rural peace and beauty reign to-night; The harvest moon illumes with holy light Each wave that ripples in its onward flow O'er rock concealed amid the depths below, And gives a strange, wild beauty to the scene On either shore, where trees of evergreen, Hemlocks and firs, their dusky shadows fling, Around whose trunks the heavy mosses cling, With maples clad in crimson, gold and brown, Bright like the west when first the sun goes down.
Here from this summit where I often roam I can behold my cot, my humble home; There I was born, and when this life is o'er I hope to sleep upon the river's shore. There is the orchard which I helped to rear, It well repays my labor year by year: One apple tree towers high above the rest Where every spring a blackbird has its nest. Sweet Lily used to stand beneath the bough And smiling listen—but she comes not now. A fairer bird ne'er charmed the rising day Than she we loved thus early called away; But she is gone to sing her holy strains In lovelier gardens and on greener plains.
There are the fields that I myself have cleared Of trees and brush, and where a waste appeared The corn just ready for the sickle stands, And golden pumpkins dot my fertile lands. There are the pastures where my cattle feed, My gentle kind supply the milk we need; Sweet cream and cheese are daily on our board, And clothing warm my snowy sheep afford. There are the flowers my Annie loves to tend,— How often do I see her smiling bend To pluck the weeds, or teach the graceful vine Around the string or slender pole to twine. How often when the toils of day are done, And I return just at the set of sun, She comes to meet me down the verdant lane— Sweet partner of my pleasures and my pain— With snow-white buds amid her sunny hair, To win my favor all her joy and care. How often does she wander forth with me And share my seat beneath the maple tree, And smile and blush to hear my ardent lays Recount her virtues and pour forth her praise.
Hark! 'tis her voice, sweet as the wildbird's song; She comes to tell me I have tarried long: I hear her now an old love ditty hum, And now she calls—I come, dear love, I come.
Grateful to our sleepless eyes, Lo, the beams of morn arise, And the mountain-tops are gray With the light of coming day,— And the birds are on the wing. With the happy birds we'll sing Bidding doubt and gloom be gone, Like the shadows at the dawn.
Yes, for eyes as bright as day Glance adown the shady way; Gentle voices with delight Whisper, "They will come to-night"; Hearts as fond and true as ours Wait for us in lovely bowers: Nor shall wait for us in vain, Faithful ones, we come again.
Where the bending willows weep, And the mosses slowly creep, We our harps neglected hung. Soon again they will be strung,— Forest, dell, and mountain stream Will take up the blissful theme When no longer doomed to roam We can chant the praise of home.
Lo, in yonder sky the sun Half his daily task has done; We will rest beside the spring, While the bird with folded wing Sits within his cool retreat, Shaded from the noontide heat, And the bees, with drowsy hum, Homeward, honey-laden come.
Homeward too our way we hold, Laden, not with paltry gold, But with treasures better far Than the richest jewels are: Simple, trusting hearts, content With the blessings Heaven has lent. Once within our love-lit cot, Rich and great we envy not.
Lo, the shadows lengthen fast; Now the well-known hills are past; Now the forest, dark and tall— Oh, how we remember all! Now the pastures strewn with rocks, Where we used to watch our flocks,— Farther down the winding road, See! it is our own abode.
Where the slanting sunbeams fall On the lowly cottage wall, Fancy can already trace Each belov'd, familiar face: One by one each form appears Till our eyes are dim with tears; If the foretaste be so sweet Soon our joy will be complete!
Here we are! But all is still Save the ever-murmuring rill,— Save the hooting of the owl, And the village watch-dog's howl, Slowly swings the cottage door— Shall we cross the threshold o'er? Empty and deserted all— Echo answers to our call!
Where the bending willow tree Oft has sheltered thee and me, Lo, the turf has been uptorn: We have come,—but come to mourn! Eyes are dim and lips are cold, And our arms we sadly fold Over hearts, till hushed and dead, Never to be comforted!
No; our hearts shall still be strong, For the journey is not long; In a holy, deathless land We shall meet our household band: In the fairer bowers above, They await the friends they love, Oh, what joy with them to dwell, Never more to say farewell!
THE OLD SUGAR CAMP.
[Whoever has attended a "sugaring off" in the woods will enjoy the reading of this poem—the description is so life-like and exhilarating. It is a home scene.]
Come let us away to the old Sugar Camp; The sky is serene though the ground may be damp,— And the little bright streams, as they frolic and run, Turn a look full of thanks to the ice-melting sun; While the warm southern winds, wherever they go, Leave patches of brown 'mid the glittering snow.
The oxen are ready, and Carlo and Tray Are watching us, ready to be on the way, While a group of gay children, with platter and spoon, And faces as bright as the roses of June, O'er fences and ditches exultingly spring, Light-hearted and careless as birds on the wing.
Where's Edwin? Oh, here he comes, loading his gun; Look out for the partridges—hush! there is one! Poor victim! a bang, and a flutter—'tis o'er,— And those fair dappled wings shall expand nevermore; It was shot for our invalid sister at home, Yet we sigh as beneath the tall branches we roam.
Our cheeks all aglow with the long morning tramp, We soon come in sight of the old Sugar Camp; The syrup already is placed in the pan, And we gather around it as many as can,— We try it on snow; when we find it is done We fill up a mold for a dear absent one.
Oh, gayest and best of all parties are these, That meet in the Camp 'neath the old maple trees, Renewing the love and the friendship of years,— They are scenes to be thought of with smiles and with tears When age shall have furrowed each beautiful cheek, And left in dark tresses a silvery streak.
Here brothers and sisters and lovers have met, And cousins and friends we can never forget; The prairie, the ocean, divide us from some, Yet oft as the seasons for sugaring come, The cup of bright syrup to friendship we'll drain, And gather them home to our bosom again.
Dear Maple, that yieldeth a nectar so rare, So useful in spring, and in summer so fair,— Of autumn acknowledged the glory and queen, Attendant on every Canadian scene, Enshrined in our homes it is meet thou shouldst be Of our country the emblem, O beautiful Tree!
TO A RABBIT.
Go to the green wood, go I oft shall sigh for thee,— And yet rejoice to know, That thou art sporting free.
Go to the meadows green, Where summer holds her reign; When winter spoils the scene Wilt thou return again?
A shelter thou wouldst find From every howling storm; The heart thou leav'st behind Would still be true and warm.
Why dost thou struggle thus? Does every balmy breeze That softly fanneth us, Tell of the waving trees?
Do yonder happy birds That sing for thee and me, For chorus have the words So precious—"I am free?"
Go then, as free as they, As light and happy roam With thy companions gay, Safe in thy forest home.
There—thou art gone; farewell! My heart leaps up with thine; And I rejoice to tell Thou art no longer mine.
I could not breathe the air Where pining captives dwell; My freedom thou wilt share, With joy then, fare-thee-well.
THE OLD MAN.
The old man's cheek was wet with tears, And his wrinkled brow was pale, As after a lapse of many years He stood in his native vale.
The warblers sang in the leafy bough, And the earth was robed in green; But the old man's heart beat sadly now While he gazed on the lovely scene.
The stream ran clear to the distant sea, The same as he saw it last; And sitting beneath an old elm tree, He thought of days in the past.
He thought how he climbed the verdant hill, Or roved through the forest wild, Or traced to its source the rippling rill, A gay and careless child.
And as he thought of the happy throng That around him used to crowd With the ringing laugh and the joyous song, The old man wept aloud.
For well he knew they would meet no more On the dreary shores of time,— But he looked away to a brighter shore, He looked to a deathless clime.
That moment a young and merry group Came bounding across the lea, With rosy cheek, with ball and with hoop They came to the old elm tree.
They paused awhile in their noisy play To gaze on the aged man, While he wiped his falling tears away And in trembling tones began:
"I would not cloud for the world your joy, Or have you less happy for me— For I have been like yourselves a boy Though I'm now the wreck you see.
"But let the words of wisdom and truth In your memories be enrolled,— And in the days of your sunny youth Be kind to the poor and old!"
The children wept as they heard him speak, And forgetful of their play They wiped the tears from his furrowed cheek, And they smoothed his locks of gray.
He laid his hand with a tender air By turns on each youthful head, Then lifting his faded eyes in prayer, "God bless you!" the old man said.
And the boys were blest:—for the angels flung Around them their wings of gold; So ever they do when the gay and young Are kind to the poor and old.
THE FADING AND THE UNFADING.
Once more the beautiful Spring has returned, and from my window I can behold the delightful places where I have so often roamed in childhood light-hearted and happy. But the lovely Spring brings no longer the same emotions as of yore. Oh no! for "a change has come over the spirit of my dream." Earth has lost its charms, and although I love the beauties of nature even better than before, still they cannot satisfy,—they are doomed to fade, and my soul yearns for those beautiful heavenly bowers which shall never wither; where God himself reigns in person and "chases night away." But, although I sigh for such things, am I prepared for them? Should I be ready at this moment to enter the paradise of God? Ah, my heart, why shouldest thou hesitate thus to return an answer? God is still able and willing to save, and though I have wandered so far from Him, if with an humble and penitent soul I confess my sins he is willing and able to forgive me.—June 4,1853.
ON RECEIPT OF SOME WILD FLOWERS.
I bedewed with tears those spring-time flowers, For they brought to my mind the happy hours When I roamed through the forests' and meadows green With a heart all alive to each beautiful scene.
I loved the flowers when my step was light, And my cheek with the glow of health was bright, Through forest and meadows, o'er plain and o'er hill I may wander no more—but I love them still!
I love the flowers, and I love them best When they first peep out from earth's snow-wreathed breast; For they tell, amid sorrow, and death, and gloom, Of a spring that shall visit the depths of the tomb!
And oh! could I roam through Fortune's bowers, I would twine a wreath of the sweetest flowers, Whose beauty and fragrance should ne'er depart— But brighten thy home and gladden thy heart!
But the flowers of earth are fragile and fair,— And the young brow must fade and be furrowed with care; But hast thou not heard of a wonderful clime That ne'er has been marred by the footsteps of Time?
There in gardens of bliss the weary repose; There the pale, sickly cheek wears the hue of the rose; There death never comes,—Oh, amid its bright bowers, May we twine for each other a garland of flowers!
THE SICK GIRL'S DREAM.
I heard the other night in dreams The early robin sing: The southern winds unlocked the streams, And warmed the heart of Spring.
The plum-trees wore their bridal dress, The willows donned their plumes, And to the zephyr's fond caress Gave forth their rare perfumes.
Through months of wintry frost and storm— Yet never harmed by them— A million germs had nestled warm, Close to the parent stem.
The happy spring-time broke their rest, They drank the morning dew, They clasped the sunbeams to their breast, And clothed the trees anew.
The clouds distilled the fertile rain And sent it forth in showers; The sunlight danced along the plain And painted it with flowers.
The butterfly went forth to play, The useful honey bee Kept up a hunt through all the day. Of cheerful industry.
The squirrel gamboled in the grove, The rabbit bounded by, The wary spider spun and wove, And trapped the careless fly.
From out the joyous, vocal wood The song of warblers came: The cuckoo, in a merry mood, Told and re-told its name.
And when behind the purple hill The sun went out of sight, The frogs began with hearty will Their concert for the night.
Such scenes had made, in brighter years, My heart with transport leap, But now they touched the spring of tears,— I sobbed aloud in sleep.
And is there not some balm, I cried, 'Mid nature's boundless wealth? "Behold"—a gentle voice replied— "Behold the Fount of health!"
Just then a torrent met my eye, Fresh from the rock it burst; I could have drained the fountain dry, So raging was my thirst.
Such deep emotions filled my soul I woke—the vision fled: The moonbeams through the curtain stole, Ah! 'twas a dream, I said.
But well I know there is a land Where flows the living stream; And when upon its banks I stand, Oh, then 'twill be no dream.
THE LAST SONG.
"Earth is fair, oh so fair,"— Sang a little, happy bird; Though a prey to grief and care, With a smile I heard. Sing again that blithesome strain, Precious little bird, I said; For the heart that throbbed with pain Thou hast comforted!
"Earth is fair, oh so fair," Louder sang the happy bird; "What have I to do with care, Or with hope deferred?" All the western sky was red With the beams of setting sun, As the sportsman homeward sped With the fatal gun.
"Earth is fair, oh so fair, And I love the green earth well,"— Death was in the balmy air, And the warbler fell! Earth is fair—but earth no more Wears its pleasant green for thee,— Cold and stiff and bathed in gore Underneath the tree.
Earth is fair, but alas! It hath many scenes of woe; Happy they who through them pass, Sweetly singing as they go,— Comforting some lonely heart, Making some weak spirit strong;— So may I, and then depart, On my lips a song!
AN EVENING SCENE.
How still and calm! what fairer scene e'er met The eye of mortal short of Paradise? The quiet lake is like a mirror set In richest green where sunset loves to see Itself arrayed in crimson, pink and gold. And e'en the proud old mountain bows his head Shaggy with hemlocks, and appears well pleased To view so grand a form reflected there. Hark! o'er the polished surface how the loons Call to each other, waking echoes wild From crag and cliff, and waking in my heart Sweet memories of other days and years When health was on my cheek, and hope and love O'er all the future wove one iris bright. Ah, little prophets, do you then predict A rainy morrow? By yon crimson west I doubt your warnings; so in truth it seems Does yonder farmer who, with shouldered scythe From meadows fragrant with the new-mown hay, Goes whistling homeward, glad to seek repose Until another sun shall call him forth, To gather into barns the winter's store Of food provided for the gentle king That faintly lowing from the pastures come Scented with herbage, giving promise fair Of pails o'erflowing with a sweeter drink Than ever gleamed in the inebriate's bowl.
Now o'er the landscape signs of twilight creep, And sounds that tell of night—sounds that I love: The hooting of the owl, the tree-frog's cry By distance mellowed; and—more distant still— I hear the barking of the village dogs. The breath of evening whispering 'mid the pines, And deepening shadows, bid me homeward turn; And yet I linger—for I seem a part Of lake and mountain, meadow, tree and sky,— And realize how sweet a thing it is To lay my heart so close to Nature's own That I can feel its throbbing, while each pulse Responsive beats, and o'er my being steals A rapturous calm like that out parents felt When to the bowers of Eden they repaired, And praised their Maker seen in all his works.
Author of nature! Source of life and light! Almighty Father! let me praise thee too. This lovely world is thine; yon moon and stars That now begin to usher in the night Are but the outposts of unnumbered spheres That march in order round thy dazzling throne, And chant thy praises in perpetual song. All these are thine, for thou hast made them all; And I am thine! I thank thee, Lord of lords, King of the Universe, Creator, God, That while in part I realize thy power I know it has an equal in the love Which bowed the heavens and consecrated earth When the Messiah came to save mankind, And in its proper orbit reinstate A fallen world, which shall one day become The fairest 'mid the sisterhood of orbs, The most renowned because the dearest bought,— The best beloved, because the ransom given Was all that God omnipotent could pay!
The howling winds rage around my casement. The summer is past, and everything indicates that winter will soon be here. The seared leaves are falling from their homes in the waving forests; the earth has thrown aside her gay mantle of green, and one scene of desolation presents itself to the eye. The decay of nature brings with it sad and solemn reflections, how much more the decay of the human form—of which autumn seems so striking an emblem. The days of man are few. Like the flower of the field he perisheth, and yet how few seem to realize it! O God, teach me to apply my heart unto wisdom. Help me to love and serve thee, that when "the heavens shall be dissolved and the elements shall melt with fervent heat" I may not be among those who shall take up the sad lamentation: "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved."—Oct., 1852.
[As Miss Johnson lived in the house with Dr. G. O. Somers, who would frequently in winter cross lake Memphremagog on the ice in visiting his patients, the following, written on a sick-bed, gives a graphic description of what her fears pictured might be a reality.]
Night comes, but he comes not! I fear The treacherous ice; what do I hear? Bells? nay, I am deceived again,— 'Tis but the ringing in my brain. Oh how the wind goes shrieking past! Was it a voice upon the blast? A cry for aid? My God protect! Preserve his life—his course direct! How suddenly it has grown dark— How very dark without—hush! hark! 'Tis but the creaking of the door; It opens wide, and nothing more. Then wind and snow came in; I thought Some straggler food and shelter sought; But more I feared, for fear is weak, That some one came of him to speak: To tell how long he braved the storm, How long he kept his bosom warm With thoughts of home, how long he cheered His weary horse that plunged, and reared, And wallowed through the drifted snow Till daylight faded, and the glow Of hope went out; how almost blind, He peered around, below, behind,— No road, no track, the very shore All blotted out,—one struggle more, It is thy last, perchance, brave heart! O God! a reef! the masses part Of snow and ice, and dark and deep The waters lie in death-like sleep; He sees too late the chasm yawn; Sleigh, horse and driver, all are gone! Father in heaven! It may be thus, But thou art gracious,—pity us, Save him, and me in mercy spare What 'twould be worse than death to bear. Hark! hark! am I deceived again? Nay, 'tis no ringing in my brain; My pulses leap—my bosom swells— Thank God! it is, it is his bells!
THE SURRENDER OF QUEBEC.
[Quebec is the oldest city in Canada, having been founded by Champlain, in 1608, near the site of an Indian village. It was taken from the French, by the English, under General Wolfe, in 1759, after a heroic defence by Montcalm. Both generals fell on the battle-field, mortally wounded. In 1853 the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec offered a prize medal for the best poem relating to the history of Canada. Miss Johnson (then in her eighteenth year) wrote the following, which took the prize.]
The orb of day upon his pathway pressed, Beaming with splendor, toward the shining west, Cast one long, lingering glance upon the scene, Lit up the river and the forest green, Left his last rays upon the lordly dome, And deigned to smile upon the peasant's home; Then 'neath the western hills he sought repose, And sank to rest as calmly as he rose: Bright at the dawn of day, but brighter now, When day had almost passed, and round her brow Hung the expiring beams of dazzling light, The certain presage of approaching night. Slowly his gorgeous train, like him, withdrew, Changing as they advanced in form and hue, Until one lovely tint of fairest dye Stole softly o'er the calm and cloudless sky; Day, gently smiling, left her gleaming throne, And evening fair came forth, and reigned alone. The twinkling stars the azure vault adorned; Like glistening gems, a glorious crown they formed, And proudly sat in splendor pure and bright Upon the pale and pensive brow of night; While in the midst of all, with tranquil mien, Mild Cynthia lent enchantment to the scene.
Beneath lay spreading pastures green and fair, And lofty hills and waving forests, where The human voice had never yet been heard, Or other sound, save when the depths were stirred By the loud screams of some lone midnight bird. But high o'er all the lofty city rose, Firm in its strength, sublime in its repose; On every hand by nature fortified, And strongly built; with air of conscious pride Gazed from its heights upon the scene below, And bade defiance to each lurking foe; Confiding in its bulwarks firm and sure, It calmly slept and deemed itself secure!
The river swept along; with surging roar Its waves dashed wildly on the rocky shore; While on its broad, expansive bosom lay The twinkling orbs in beautiful array; And every pearly drop shone clear and bright, Bathed in a flood of soft and silvery light. Scarcely a ripple stirred its quiet breast; For every sighing breeze was lulled to rest, And every sound was hushed on earth, in air, And silence held supreme dominion there.
Sleep sent his angels forth; with silent tread, From house to house, they on their mission sped; Watched by the couch of suffering and pain. Soothed the pale brow and calmed the throbbing brain, Eased the sad heart and closed the weeping eye, Bade care and grief with their attendants fly, Entered the chamber of the rich and great, Nor scorned to visit those of mean estate, But blessed alike the lofty and the low, Alike bade each forget their weight of woe. The proud and wealthy drew around their breast "The curtains of repose," and sank to rest; The pallid sons of want and hunger slept, And sorrow's sons forgot that they had wept.
The night wore slowly on; the dismal tower Had long since tolled the lonely midnight hour When a proud band, by daring impulse led, Approached the river with a cautious tread, With kindling eye and with an eager air, Unmoored the boats that waited for them there; In silence left the calm and peaceful shore, In sullen silence plied the hasty oar, In silence passed adown the quiet stream, While ever and anon a pale moonbeam, Sad and reproachful, cast a hasty glance On polished dagger and on gleaming lance.
The scene was mournful, and with magic art It acted strangely on each manly heart; No speedy action now, no rude alarm, Called forth their powers, or nerved the stalwart arm; No present danger used its strong control, To rouse the passions of the warrior's soul; But all conspired to place Thought on her throne, And yield the reins of power to her alone.
The past came slowly forth with all its train Of blissful scenes that ne'er might be again, Of mournful partings and convulsive sighs, Of pallid faces and of tearful eyes, Of aching hearts that heaved with sorrow's swell, And broken tones that sadly breathed, "Farewell!" And in the silence of that lonely hour, Which bade the sternest own its wondrous power, A small, still voice whispered in every soul, Although each sought to burst from its control: "To-morrow night the moon, as fair as now, May shed her beams upon your death-sealed brow! To-morrow night the stars may gild the wave While you, perchance, may fill a soldier's grave! To-morrow night your spirit may explore The boundless regions of an unknown shore! To-morrow night may find you with the slain, And weeping love watch your return in vain!"
And yet not long such gloomy thoughts might rest Within the soldier's brave and gallant breast; Not long the warrior, panting for the field And for the battle's horrid din, might yield His fearless spirit unto sorrow's sway, Or dread the issue of the coming day. The momentary sadness now was o'er, As with new hopes they neared the frowning shore, Landed in silence, and in stern array Pressed firmly forward on their dangerous way, Mounted the rugged rocks with footsteps slow, And left the murmuring river far below.
From cliff to cliff the gallant army spring, Nor envy now the eagle's soaring wing; They view their labors o'er, their object gain, And proudly stand upon the lovely plain; Gaze down upon the awful scenes they've passed, Rejoicing that they've reached the heights at last. Hope lights each eye and fills each manly breast, Where wild desires and aspirations rest; It bids each doubt and every shadow flee, And points them on to certain victory!
The morning dawned; the orient beams of light Fell on a strange and a romantic sight,— On glistening helmet and on nodding crest, On waving banner and on steel-clad breast. The city woke,—but woke to hear the cry, "To arms! to arms! the foe—the foe is nigh!" She woke to hear the trumpet's wild alarms— She woke to hear the sound of clashing arms— She woke to view her confidence removed— She woke to view her trusted safety proved; Her mighty bulwarks, long her pride and boast, All safely mounted by a British host— She woke to view her lofty ramparts yield, Her plains converted to a battle-field, Her gallant troops in wild disorder fly, The British banner floating to the sky, And proudly waving o'er the bloody plain, O'er heaps of dying and o'er heaps of slain.
Roused from their hasty dreams, with brows aghast, On every hand the soldiers gather fast, Bind on their armor, seize the glittering sword, Form in a line, and at a simple word, With hurried steps advance toward the shore, With hasty gestures grasp the trembling oar, Across the river's bosom swiftly glide And safely land upon the other side. Drawn up in battle order now they stand, Waiting in silence for their chief's command; Then onward move, with firm and stately tread, With waving plumes and ensigns proudly spread, With gleaming sword and with uplifted lance, Where brightly now the glistening sunbeams dance; But long before those sunbeams shall decline Streams of dark blood shall tarnish all their shine; Those beams shall strive to gild the steel in vain, For human gore the polished steel shall stain.
The sun rose clear that morn; with ardent glow He shed his beams alike o'er friend and foe. His golden hues the spreading fields adorn, Waving in beauty with the ripening corn; Give richer colors to the lofty trees, That gently rustle in the morning breeze; They gild the river's surface, calm and blue, And shine reflected in the sparkling dew.
Oh, ye, who stand prepared for deadly strife, Thirsting for blood and for a brother's life, Behold the glories that around you lie, The harmony pervading earth and sky! Behold the wondrous skill and power displayed In every leaf and every lowly blade; On every hand behold the wondrous love Of Him who reigns in majesty above,— Who bids for man all nature sweetly smile, And sends his rain upon the just and vile; His attribute is love; and shall ye dare To take the life mercy and love would spare? Shall ye destroy what he has formed to live, And take away what ye can never give? Shall puny mortal claim the right his own Belonging to Omnipotence alone? Rash man, forbear! and stay the ready dart That seeks to lodge within thy brother's heart. But, no; for mercy's voice, now hushed and still, No longer may the steel-clad bosom thrill; And hearts that melted once at other's woe— That kindled once with friendship's fervent glow— That once had felt and owned the soothing power Of tender love—are callous in the hour When savage War makes bare his awful arm And peals in thunder tones his dread alarm.
But there were some in those devoted bands O'er whom the blissful scenes of other lands Came rushing wildly; and with piercing gaze They looked an instant on their boyhood's days; Remembered well the hours that flew too fast, Remembered some with whom those hours were past; And, 'mid the group of dear companions gay, Remembered well some whom they saw that day; But sprang not forward with familiar grasp And friendly air, the proffered hand to clasp; But looked away, and with a pang of pain Regretted that they e'er had met again! For now they met, not as they met before— Not as they used to meet in days of yore Not arm in arm, like brothers fondly tried, Whom they could trust and in whose love confide; Met not as once with high and mutual aim, In classic halls to seek for future fame: But met as bitter foes, in deadly strife, Each wildly panting for the other's life; With armies proud and swelling, like the flood, To wreath their laurels in each other's blood!
They once were friends; but France and England rose In sounding arms and they are hostile foes! They once were friends; but friendship may not shield The warrior's breast upon the battle-field! They once were friends; but, hark! the cannon's roar Loudly proclaims that they are friends no more! From rank to rank the stunning volley flies, From rank to rank the groans of anguish rise; Rank after rank is numbered with the slain; Rank follows rank, and bleeds upon the plain.
Bravely they fought; with unabated zeal In human gore they dipped the shining steel; Pressed o'er the heaps of dying and of dead, Where warriors groaned, and gallant heroes bled; While from their lips, in quick and stifled breath Arose the cry of "Victory, or death."
Louder and louder still the awful roar Pealed from the heights, and shook the frightened shore. Thick clouds of smoke enveloped friend and foe; The volleyed thunder shook the depths below; Mountain and echoing forest joined the cry, And distant hills gave back the same reply. With animating voice and waving hand The British leader cheered his gallant band, Pressed firmly forward where one endless tide Of woe and carnage reigned on every side,— Where streams of blood in crimson torrents rolled,— Where death smote down alike the young and old; And where the thickest poured the deadly shot, The gallant WOLFE with daring valor fought.
The dead and dying in his pathway lie, Before him ranks divide and squadrons fly; With stalwart arm, and with unerring aim, He adds new glories to his former fame, Reaps the reward of all his toil: for now Fresh laurels twine around his youthful brow. But what avail they? for the fatal dart Of death has lodged within that hoping heart! The lofty head that wore the waving crest, Now sadly droops upon the bleeding breast; That mighty arm, upraised in power and pride, Falls feebly down, and casts its sword aside; The laurel wreath entwines that brow in vain, For, lo! the hero lies among the slain!
The French fought long with courage and with skill; With iron arms and with an iron will Rushed bravely forward 'mid the battle's din, Resolved to die, or else the victory win; Like soldiers true, fought firmly and fought well, And at their post like faithful soldiers fell.
Deeper and deeper now the conflict grows; Despair nerves these, and victory flushes those. 'Tis the last struggle; hark! "They fly! they fly!" Pierces the depths, and rends the vaulted sky. 'Tis the last struggle, for the beating drum Proclaims the conflict o'er, the victory won. The French in wild dismay and horror yield, And leave the British masters of the field.
Far in the rear a dying warrior lay, While from his breast the life-blood ebbed away; Attendants bent around to staunch the tide That flowed in torrents from his wounded side; With wild convulsions came each panting-breath, And those proud features wore the hue of death. His lips were sealed, his beaming eyes were dim, And strangely quivered every outstretched limb; Unconscious now he seemed of love or hate, Unconscious now his spirit seemed to wait The awful summons that should bid it fly To worlds unknown, unseen by human eye. He seemed like one already with the dead; When, lo! he started—raised his drooping head; With dying hand he grasped his trusty blade, With kindling eye the battle-field surveyed, Heard the triumphant shout, "They run! they run!" Knew that the field was gained, the victory won. "Who run?" he cried, with wildly throbbing heart, With gushing breast, and livid lips apart. "The French! the French!"—no more that warrior heard; It was enough for him, that single word; "I die contented!" and his youthful head Fell feebly back; the noble soul had fled.
Oh, gallant Wolfe! from o'er the dark blue sea There comes a wail—a bitter wail for thee; Thy country mourns her warrior, true and brave, And yearning love weeps o'er thy lowly grave, But nothing now may break thy tranquil rest, Nothing disturb thy calm and quiet breast; Nor clashing arms, nor cannon's deafening roar, Nor sorrow's wail, may ever rouse thee more. But, when a voice, far louder than them all, Shall bid thee rise, thou must obey the call, And stand, bereft of earthly pride and power, Before thy Judge. God shield thee in that hour!
Remoter from the scene, with drooping head And nerveless arm, another warrior bled! Death's seal upon that pallid brow was pressed; His icy hand lay on that heaving breast; But thoughts of victory lent no soothing balm To cheer the spirit of the proud Montcalm! He lived to see his bravest followers die; He lived to see his troops disbanded fly; Nor longer cared to live, but welcomed death, And with a smile resigned his fleeting breath; Stretched his proud limbs, without a sigh or groan, And death had claimed the hero for his own.
The strife was o'er, the dreadful combat past; The echoing hills had found repose at last; Carnage had done its work on every side, And even greedy death was satisfied! The sun went down; how changed from yester night! How changed his aspect, and how changed the sight On which he gazed! Then his last golden beam Fell on a landscape fair—a quiet scene— Where now destruction reared its standard dread O'er shattered bodies and o'er severed head.