Project Gutenberg's Laura Secord, the heroine of 1812, by Sarah Anne Curzon This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org. If you are not located in the United States, you'll have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this ebook. Title: Laura Secord, the heroine of 1812 A Drama. And Other Poems. Author: Sarah Anne Curzon Posting Date: February 12, 2015 [EBook #7228] Release Date: January, 2005 First Posted: March 28, 2003 Language: English Character set encoding: ASCII *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK LAURA SECORD, THE HEROINE OF 1812 *** Produced by David Garcia, Juliet Sutherland, Charles Franks, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
AND OTHER POEMS.
BY SARAH ANNE CURZON
"And among them all move the majestic, white-robed bards, striking their golden harps, and telling the tales of the days of old, and handing down the names of the heroes for ever."—JUSTIN H. MCCARTHY
"The soul of the book is whatever beautiful and true and noble we can find in it."—KINGSLEY'S "HYPATIA."
TO ALL TRUE CANADIANS,
OF WHATEVER DERIVATION,
THIS VOLUME IS RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED
The drama of "Laura Secord" was written to rescue from oblivion the name of a brave woman, and set it in its proper place among the heroes of Canadian history. During the first few years of her residence in Canada the author was often astonished to hear it remarked, no less among educated than uneducated Canadians, that "Canada has no history;" and yet on every hand stories were current of the achievements of the pioneers, and the hardships endured and overcome by the United Empire Loyalists. Remembering that, as soon as she had conquered the merest rudiments of reading and grammar at school, she was set to learn English History, and so become acquainted with the past of her country, it seemed to the writer that there was something lacking in a course of teaching that could leave Canadians to think that their country had no historical past. Determined to seek out for herself the facts of the case, it was with feelings of the deepest interest that she read such of the contributions to the newspaper press as came in her way during the debate with regard to the pensions asked of Government for the surviving veterans of 1812 in 1873-4. Among these was incidentally given the story of Mrs. Secord's heroic deed in warning Fitzgibbon. Yet it could not pass without observation that, while the heroism of the men of that date was dwelt upon with warm appreciation and much urgency as to their deserts, Mrs. Secord, as being a woman, shared in nothing more tangible than an approving record. The story, to a woman's mind, was full of pathos, and, though barren of great incidents, was not without a due richness of colouring if looked at by appreciative eyes. Nor were the results of Laura Secord's brave deed insignificant. Had the Americans carried Beaver Dams at that juncture, the whole peninsula was before them—all its supplies, all its means of communication with other parts of the Province. And Canada—Upper Canada, at least—would have been in the hands of the invaders until, by a struggle too severe to be contemplated calmly, they had been driven forth. To save from the sword is surely as great a deed as to save with the sword; and this Laura Secord did, at an expense of nerve and muscle fully equal to any that are recorded of the warrior. To set her on such a pedestal of equality; to inspire other hearts with loyal bravery such as hers; to write her name on the roll of Canadian heroes, inspired the poem that bears her name. But the tribute to her memory would not be complete were it to omit an appeal to Canadians, especially to the inhabitants of this Province, who, in their prosperity owe to her so much, to do their part, and write her name in enduring marble upon the spot where she lies buried.
Nor does it seem asking more than a graceful act from the Government of the Dominion—a Dominion which, but for her, might never have been—to do its share in acknowledgment. One of her daughters still lives, and if she attain to her mother's age has yet nearly a decade before her.
The drama of "Laura Secord" was written in 1876, and the ballad a year later, but, owing to the inertness of Canadian interest in Canadian literature at that date, could not be published. It is hoped that a better time has at length dawned.S. A. CURZON.
LAURA SECORD, THE HEROINE OF THE WAR OF 1812
A BALLAD OF 1812
THE QUEEN'S JUBILEE
THE HERO OF ST. HELEN'S ISLAND
OUR VETERANS OF 1812. (A PLEA)
ON QUEENSTON HEIGHTS
NEW ORLEANS, MONROE, MAYOR
THE SONG OF THE EMIGRANT
TO THE INDIAN SUMMER
LIVINGSTONE, IN MEMORIAM
THE QUEEN AND THE CRIMEAN SOLDIERS
TO A CHILD
LOST WITH HIS BOAT
LIFE IN DEATH
INVOCATION TO RAIN
REMONSTRANCE WITH "REMONSTRANCE"
THE ABSENT ONES
THE SWEET GIRL GRADUATE. (A COMEDY)
THE TWO TREES Le May.
FABLE AND TRUTH Florian.
THE CALIPH Florian.
THE BLIND MAN AND THE PARALYTIC Florian.
THE HOUSE OF CARDS Florian.
THE BULLFINCH AND THE RAVEN Florian.
THE WASP AND THE BEE Florian.
IN MEMORY OF THE HEROES OF 1760 Le May.
THE SONG OF THE CANADIAN VOLTIGEURS Le May.
THE LEGEND OF THE EARTH Jean Rameau.
THE EMIGRANT MOUNTAINEER Chateaubriand.
FROM "LIGHTS AND SHADES" Hugo.
VILLANELLE TO ROSETTE Desportes.
It is at all times an amiable and honourable sentiment that leads us to enquire into the antecedents of those who, by the greatness of their virtues have added value to the records of human history. Whether such inquiry increases our estimation of such value or not, it must always be instructive, and therefore inspiring. Under this impression I have sought on every hand to learn all that could be gathered of the history of one of Canada's purest patriots. As Dr. Ryerson aptly says in his U. E. Loyalists and their Times, "the period of the U. E. Loyalists was one of doing, not recording," therefore little beyond tradition has conserved anything of all that we would now like to know of the heroism, the bravery, the endurance, the trials of that bold army of men and women, who, having laid strong hands on the primeval forest, dug wide and deep the foundations of a nation whose greatness is yet to come. In such a light the simple records that follow will be attractive.
Laura Secord came of loyal blood. She was the daughter of Mr. Thomas Ingersoll, the founder of the town of Ingersoll, and his wife Sarah, the sister of General John Whiting, of Great Barrington, Berkshire County, Mass. At the close of the War of 1776, Mr. Ingersoll came to Canada on the invitation of Governor Simcoe, an old friend of the family, and founded a settlement on the banks of the Thames in Oxford County. On the change of government, Mr. Ingersoll and his struggling settlement of eighty or ninety families found their prospects blighted and their future imperilled; Mr. Ingersoll therefore saw it necessary to remove to Little York, and shortly afterward settled in the township of Etobicoke. There he resided until some time after the War of 1812-14, when he returned with his family to Oxford County. Here he died, but left behind him worthy successors of his honourable name in his two sons, Charles and James.
Charles Ingersoll, with that active loyalty and heroic energy which alike characterized his patriotic sister, Mrs. Secord, held prominent positions in the gift of the Government and of the people, and was also a highly respected merchant and trader.
James Ingersoll, though of a more retiring disposition than his brother, was a prominent figure in Western Canada for many years. He was a magistrate of high repute, and occupied a foremost position in the militia, in which he held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel at the time of his death. This event took place on the 9th August, 1886, at which date he had been Registrar for the County of Oxford fifty-two years.
That Mrs. Secord should be brave, ready, prompt in action, and fervent in patriotism is not surprising, seeing that all the events of her childhood and youth were blended with those of the settlement of Upper Canada by the U. E. Loyalists, in whose ranks her family held so honourable a position, and whose character and sentiments were at all times to be depended upon.
The family of Secord, of which she became so distinguished a member, was also a notable one. Family documents exist which show that in the reign of Louis the Tenth of France a certain Marquis D'Secor was a Marshal of His Majesty's Household. A son of this Marquis embraced the Protestant religion, as did younger branches of the family. During the persecution of the Huguenots many of them suffered at the stake, and the family estates, situated at La Rochelle, were confiscated. The survivors escaped the massacre of St. Bartholomew by flight to England along with many other noble families, among whom were the Comte de Puys, the Baudeaux, and a Holland family, the Van Cortlandts.
Eventually five brothers emigrated to America where they settled in New Jersey, purchasing large tracts of land, founding New Rochelle and engaging in lumbering. On the breaking out of the Revolutionary War the family divided, the Loyalists changing their patronym to Secord by placing the prefix "d" at the end of their name. These brothers after, as King's men, losing, in common with all the Loyalists, their property and estates, emigrated to New Brunswick, again engaging in lumbering and milling operations, and; there certain of their descendants are to be found today. Some of these, and their sons, again removed to Canada West, where one of them, commonly called "Deaf John Secord," who married Miss Wartman, of Kingston, was known all along the coast from St. John to Quebec for his hospitalities. Among those who settled in the Niagara district were Stephen Secord, the miller of St. David's, Major David Secord, after whom the village was named, and James Secord, the husband of the heroine of 1812. Stephen Secord died before the War of 1812, leaving a widow and a family of seven sons. Of Major David Secord, the only record I have been able to procure is to be found in A History of the Late War between Great Britain and the United States of America, by David Thompson, late of the Royal Scots, as quoted for me by the kind courtesy of Miss Louisa Murray, of Stamford. It is as follows: "The Second Lincoln Militia, under Major David Secord, distinguished themselves in this action [the Battle of Chippewa] by feats of genuine bravery and heroism, stimulated by the example of their gallant leader, which are seldom surpassed even by the most experienced veterans. Their loss was proportionate with that of the regular army."
At the outbreak of the War of 1812, Mr. James Secord was living at Queenston, where he had a lumber mill and stores. He held the rank of Captain in the Lincoln Militia until close on the American invasion, but resigned in dudgeon at some action of his superior officer, and thus it is that in the relation of Mrs. Secord's heroic deed he is not designated by any rank. At the first call to arms, however, Mr. Secord at once offered his services, which were gladly accepted, and he was present at the Battle of Queenston Heights. Here he was severely wounded in the leg and shoulder, and lay on the field as one dead, until rescued by his brave wife. He never fully recovered from his wounds, and received an acknowledgment of his voluntary services to the Government in the appointment to the post of Collector of Customs at the Port of Chippewa, which he held until his death in 1841.
The married life of Mr. and Mrs. Secord was a most happy one. Their third daughter, Mrs. Harriet Smith, who still survives, a cheerful and vivacious lady of eighty-six, says that her father and mother were most devoted to each other, and lived in the closest mutual affection.
At the date of the Battle of Queenston Heights, the family consisted of four daughters and one son: Mary—with whom the great Tecumseh is said to have been in love—who was married to Dr. Trumbull, Staff-surgeon to the 37th Regiment, and died in Jamaica; Charlotte, "the belle of Canada," who, died during a visit to Ireland; Harriet—Mrs. Smith—who still survives and lives in great retirement with her eldest daughter at Guelph; and Appolonia, who died at the early age of eighteen. Charles, the only son, lived at Newark, and his surviving children are Mr. James B. Secord, of Niagara, and Alicia, Mrs. Isaac Cockburn, of Gravenhurst.
Two daughters were born to Mr. and Mrs. Secord subsequent to the war. Hannah, who was married to Mr. Carthew, of Guelph. and died in 1884, leaving several sons, and Laura, who was married to Dr. Clarke, of Palmerston, and died young, leaving one daughter, Laura.
Mrs. Smith relates that she very well remembers her mother setting off for St. David's, ostensibly to see her brother Charles, who lay sick at the mill, and her father's ill-concealed agitation during that trying day. What must the night have been to him? She also relates that during the short occupation of Queenston by the invaders, their soldiery were very tyrannical, entering the houses and stores to look for money and help themselves to plunder, and even destroying the bedding, by ripping it up with their swords and bayonets, in the search. Mrs. Secord who had a store of Spanish doubloons, heirlooms, saved them by throwing them into a cauldron of water which hung on a crane over a blazing fire. In this she unconsciously emulated the ready wit of one of her husband's Huguenot progenitors, a lady, who during the persecution that followed the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, at a period of domiciliary search for incriminating proofs of unorthodoxy, is said to have thrown a copy of the Bible—a doubly precious treasure in those days—into a churn of milk from whence it was afterwards rescued little the worse, thanks to heavy binding and strong clasps.
Envy having sent a shaft at even so warm and patriotic a breast as that of Mrs. Secord, Col. Fitzgibbon sent her a certificate, dated only a short time before his death, vouching to the facts of the heroic deed. It was evidently one of the cruel necessities of this hard life. The certificate runs as follows:
"I do hereby certify that Mrs. Secord, the wife
of James Secord, of Chippewa, Esq., did, in the month of June,
1813, walk from her house in the village of St. David's to Decamp's
house in Thorold, by a circuitous route of about twenty miles,
partly through the woods, to acquaint me that the enemy intended to
attempt by surprise to capture a detachment of the 49th Regiment,
then under my command; she having obtained such knowledge from good
authority, as the event proved. Mrs. Secord was a person of slight
and delicate frame; and made the effort in weather excessively
warm, and I dreaded at the time that she must suffer in health in
consequence of fatigue and anxiety, she having been exposed to
danger from the enemy, through whose line of communication she had
to pass. The attempt was made on my detachment by the enemy, and
his detachment, consisting of upwards of 500 men, with a
field-piece and fifty dragoons, was captured in consequence. I
write this certificate in a moment of much hurry and from memory,
and it is, therefore, thus brief.
"(Signed) JAMES FITZGIBBON,
"Formerly Lieutenant in the 49th Regiment."
It is well to consider this great achievement of Mrs. Secord carefully, that we may be the better able to realize the greatness of the feat. To assist in so doing, it will not be amiss to quote the following, from Coffin's Chronicles of the War, bearing on the prudential reasons of Proctor's retreat at Moravian Town. "But whether for advance or for retreat, the by-paths of the forest intermediate were such as the macadamized and locomotive imagination of the present day cannot encompass. A backwoodsman, laden with his axe, wading here, ploutering there, stumbling over rotted trees, protruding stumps, a bit of half-submerged corduroy road for one short space, then an adhesive clay bank, then a mile or two or more of black muck swamp, may, possibly,—clay-clogged and footsore, and with much pain in the small of his back,—find himself at sundown at the foot of a hemlock or cedar, with a fire at his feet, having done manfully about ten miles for his day's work." This was written of a time of year when the fall rains predict an approaching winter. Mrs. Secord's exploit was made on the 23rd of June, a time when the early summer rains that set the fruit and consecrate an abundant harvest with their blessing, nevertheless make clay banks slippery, and streams swift, and of these latter the whole Niagara district was full. Many have now been diverted and some dried up. I am happy to be able to give my readers the heroine's own simple account of her journey, as furnished me by the courtesy of Mr. Benson J. Lossing, author of the "Pictorial Field Book of the War of 1812," to whom the aged lady in 1862 recounted it in a letter (given in a note in Mr. Lossing's book), the historian, on his visit to Chippewa in 1860, having failed to see her. She was then eighty-five years of age.
"DEAR SIR,—I will tell you the story in a few words.
"After going to St. David's and the recovery of Mr. Secord, we returned again to Queenston, where my courage again was much tried. It was there I gained the secret plan laid to capture Captain Fitzgibbon and his party. I was determined, if possible, to save them. I had much difficulty in getting through the American guards. They were ten miles out in the country. [Footnote: The American sentries were out ten miles into the country; that is, at any point commanding a possible line of communication within a radius of ten miles from Fort George, Mrs. Secord might come upon an American sentry. The deep woods, therefore, were her only security. These she must thread to the best of her ability, with what knowledge she might possess of the woodman's craft, for even a blazed path was not safe. And by this means she must get out of American cover and into British lines. To do this she must take a most circuitous route, as she tells us, all round "by Twelve-mile Creek," whose port is St. Catharines, climbing the ridge that is now cut through by the Welland Canal, and thus doubling upon what would have been the straight route, and coming on Fitzgibbon from the back, from the way of his supports, for Major de Haren lay at Twelve-mile Creek, but not within several miles of where the heroine crossed it. And it was dark, and within a few hours of the intended surprise when she reached it. To go to De Haren, even though it might have been nearer at that point—it may not have been so, however—was a greater risk to Fitzgibbon, whose safety she was labouring to secure, than to send him aid which might only reach him after the event. Forgetting her exhaustion she proceeds, fulfils her errand, and saves her country. And shall that country let her memory die?] When I came to a field belonging to a Mr. De Cou, in the neighbourhood of the Beaver Dams, I then had walked nineteen miles. By that time daylight had left me. I yet had a swift stream of water (Twelve-mile Creek) to cross over on an old fallen tree, and to climb a high hill, which fatigued me very much.
"Before I arrived at the encampment of the Indians, as I approached they all arose with one of their war yells, which, indeed, awed me. You may imagine what my feelings were to behold so many savages. With forced courage I went to one of the chiefs, told him I had great news for his commander, and that he must take me to him or they would all be lost. He did not understand me, but said, 'Woman! What does woman want here?' The scene by moonlight to some might have been grand, but to a weak woman certainly terrifying. With difficulty I got one of the chiefs to go with me to their commander. With the intelligence I gave him he formed his plans and saved his country. I have ever found the brave and noble Colonel Fitzgibbon a friend to me. May he prosper in the world to come as he has done in this.LAURA SECORD.
Mr. Lossing further adds in his letter to me:
"When, in the summer of 1860, the Prince of Wales visited Queenston the veteran soldiers of the Canada side of the Niagara frontier signed an address to his Royal Highness; Mrs. Secord claimed the privilege of signing it. 'Wherefore?' was asked. She told her story, and it was allowed that she eminently deserved a place among the signers. Her story was repeated to the Prince. He was greatly interested, and learning that the heroine had not much of this world's goods, sent her $500 soon after his return home, in attestation of his appreciation of her patriotism."
Her sole surviving daughter at this date, says the gift was carried to her mother by ten gentlemen who had formed part of the Prince's suite.
A correspondent at Drummondville, to whom I am indebted for several Valuable particulars, says: "Mrs. Laura Second is remembered here as a fine, tall, strong woman. Strong, too, in mind, purpose, determination, and yet womanly and maternal withal. She is spoken of as indeed a brave woman, of strong patriotism and courage.
"The difficulties and dangers then, were those of anew, uncleared, pathless country increased by lurking foes, and by wandering, untaught Indians.
"In connection with her chief act of heroism the following anecdote has been told me:—Three American soldiers called at her log house at Queenston to ask for water. One of them said, 'You have a nice place here, missis, when we come for good to this country we'll divide the land, and I'll take this here for my share.' Mrs. Secord was so nettled by the thoughts expressed that although the men were civil and respectful, she replied sharply, 'You scoundrel you, all you'll ever get here will be six feet of earth!'
"When they were gone her heart reproached her for her heat, because the men had not molested her nor her property." (Yet her indignation was righteous, since they were invaders in the worst sense of the term, having no lawful cause for their invasion.) "Two days after two of the men returned. They said to Mrs. Secord, 'You were right about the six feet of earth, missis! The third man had been killed."
In speaking of the heroine, Mr. James B. Secord, of Niagara, says in a letter to me, "My grandmother was of a modest disposition, and did not care to have her exploit mentioned, as she did not think she had done any thing extraordinary. She was the very last one to mention the affair, and unless asked would never say any thing about it."
This noble-minded and heroic woman died in 1868, aged ninety-three years. She lies in Drummondville Churchyard, by the side of the husband she loved so well. Nothing but a simple headstone, half defaced, marks the place where the sacred ashes lie. But surely we who enjoy the happiness she so largely secured for us, we who have known how to honour Brock and Brant, will also know how to, honour Tecumseh and LAURA SECORD; the heroine as well as the heroes of our Province—of our common Dominion—and will no longer delay to do it, lest Time should snatch the happy opportunity from us.S. A. C.
NOTE.—The headstone of Laura Secord is three feet high, and eighteen inches wide, and has the following:
The headstone of her husband has the following:
THE HEROINE OF THE WAR OF 1812.
LAURA SECORD, the Heroine, wife of James Secord.
ELIZABETH SECORD, widow of Stephen Secord, the Miller at St. David's.
MARY, a girl of thirteen, daughter of James and Laura Secord.
CHARLOTTE, her sister.
HARRIET, her sister.
BABETTE, the maid at the Mill.
A WOMAN, the keeper of a roadside tavern at Beaver Dams.
JAMES SECORD, a wounded militia officer, home on sick leave, husband of Laura Secord.
LIEUTENANT FITZGIBBON, a British officer holding the post at Beaver Dams.
MAJOR DE HAREN, a British officer lying at St. Catharines with his command.
COLONEL THOMAS CLARKE, A Canadian militia officer.
SERGEANT GEORGE MOSIER, an old Pensioner, and U. E. Loyalist of 1776.
MISHE-MO-QUA (The Great Bear), a Mohawk Chief.
JOHN PENN, a farmer (Harvey's Quaker).
GEORGE JARVIS, a Cadet of the 49th Regiment.
A Sergeant of the 8th Regiment.
A Sergeant of the 49th Regiment.
JAMES CUMMINGS, a Corporal of Militia.
ROARING BILL, a Private in the 49th Regiment.
JACK, a Private in the 49th Regiment.
Other Soldiers of the 49th, 8th, or King's Own, and 104th Regiments.
Indians, British Allies, chiefly Mohawks.
TOM, a child of six, son of the Widow Secord.
ARCHY, a little Boy at St. David's Mill.
CHARLES, a boy of four, son of James and Laura Secord.
Other Boys of various ages from eight to sixteen.
COLONEL BOERSTLER, an American officer.
CAPTAIN MCDOWELL, an American officer.
PETE and FLOS, slaves.
A large body of American soldiers, infantry, dragoons and artillerymen.
John Penn, a Quaker, is seated on a chair tilted against the wall. Mr. Secord, his arm in a sling, reclines on a couch, against the end of which a crutch is is placed. Mrs. Secord, occupies a rocking-chair near the lounge. Charlie, a little fellow of four, is seated on her lap holding a ball of yarn from which she is knitting. Charlotte, a girl of twelve, is seated on a stool set a little in rear of the couch; she has a lesson-book in her hand. Harriet, a girl of ten, occupies a stool near her sister, and has a slate on her lap. All are listening intently to the Quaker, who is speaking.
Quaker. The midnight sky, set thick with shining
Hung watchingly, while from a band of gloom
That belted in the gloomier woods, stole forth
Foreshortened forms of grosser shade, all barred
With lines of denser blackness, dexter-borne.
Rank after rank, they came, out of the dark,
So silently no pebble crunched beneath
Their feet more sharp than did a woodchuck stir.
And so came on the foe all stealthily,
And found their guns a-limber, fires ablaze,
And men in calm repose.
With bay'nets fixed
The section in advance fell on the camp,
And killed the first two sentries, whose sharp cries
Alarmed a third, who fired, and firing, fled.
This roused the guard, but "Forward!" was the word,
And on we rushed, slaying full many a man
Who woke not in this world.
The 'larum given,
A-sudden rose such hubbub and confusion
As is made by belching earthquake. Waked from sleep,
Men stumbled over men, and angry cries
Resounded. Surprised, yet blenching not,
Muskets were seized and shots at random fired
E'en as they fled. Yet rallied they when ours,
At word from Harvey, fell into line,
And stood, right 'mid the fires, to flint their locks—
An awful moment!—
As amid raging storms the warring heaven
Falls sudden silent, and concentrates force
To launch some scathing bolt upon the earth,
So hung the foe, hid in portentous gloom,
While in the lurid light ours halted. Quick,
Red volcanic fire burst from their lines
And mowed us where we stood!
Full many a trembling hand that set a flint
Fell lifeless ere it clicked: yet silent all—
Save groans of wounded—till our rods struck home;
Then, flashing fire for fire, forward we rushed
And scattered them like chaff before the wind.
The King's Own turned their left; the Forty-ninth,
At point of bay'net, pushed the charge, and took
Their guns, they fighting valiantly, but wild,
Having no rallying point, their leaders both
Lying the while all snug at Jemmy Gap's.
And so the men gave in at last, and fled,
And Stony Creek was ours.
Mr. Secord. Brave Harvey! Gallantly planned and
The stroke is good, the consequences better.
Cooped as he is in George, the foe will lack
His forage, and perforce must—eat his stores;
For Yeo holds the lake, and on the land
His range is scarce beyond his guns. And more,
He is the less by these of men to move
On salient points, and long as we hold firm
At Erie, Burlington, and Stony Creek,
He's like the wretched bird, he "can't get out."
Mrs. Secord. You speak, friend Penn, as if you saw the
Not like a simple bearer of the news.
Quaker. Why, so I did.
Mrs. Secord. You did! Pray tell us how it was;
For ever have I heard that Quakers shunned
The sight of blood.
Quaker. None more than I.
Yet innate forces sometimes tell o'er use
Against our will. But this was how it happed:
Thou seest, Mistress Secord, I'd a load
Of sound potatoes, that I thought to take
To Vincent's camp, but on the way I met
A British officer, who challenged me; saith he,
"Friend, whither bound?" "Up to the Heights," say I,
"To sell my wares." "Better," saith he,
"Go to the Yankee camp; they'll pay a price
Just double ours, for we are short of cash."
"I'll risk the pay," say I, "for British troops;
Nay, if we're poor, I can afford the load,
And p'rhaps another, for my country's good."
"And say'st thou so, my Quaker! Yet," saith he,
"I hear you Quakers will not strike a blow
To guard your country's rights, nor yet your own."
"No, but we'll hold the stakes," cried I. He laughed.
"Can't you do more, my friend?" quoth he, "I need
A closer knowledge of the Yankee camp:
How strong it is, and how it lies. A brush
Is imminent, and one must win, you know
His manner was so earnest that, before
I knew, I cried, "Not if I know it, man!"
With a bright smile he answered me, "There spoke
A Briton." Then he directed me
How I might sell my load, what I should mark,
And when report to him my observations.
So, after dusk, I met him once again,
And told him all I knew. It pleased him much.
Warmly he shook my hand. "I am," saith he,
"Lieutenant-Colonel Harvey. Should it hap
That I can ever serve you, let me know."
Mrs. Secord. And then you stayed to see the end of it?
Quaker. Mistress, I did. Somewhat against my creed,
I freely own; for what should I, a Quaker,
E'er have to do with soldiers, men of blood!
I mean no slight to you, James.
Mr. Secord (laughing). No, no! go on.
Quaker. Well, when I thought how tired poor Dobbin
How late the hour, and that 'twould be a week
Before I'd hear how Harvey sped that night,
I thought I'd stay and see the matter out;
The more, because I kind o' felt as if
Whatever happed I'd had a hand in it.
Mrs. Secord. And pray where did you hide? for hide you
So near the Yankee lines.
Quaker. It wasn't hard to do; I knew the ground,
Being a hired boy on that very farm,
Now Jemmy Gap's. There was an elm, where once
I used to sit and watch for chipmunks, that I clomb,
And from its shade could see the Yankee camp,
Its straggling line, its fires, its careless watch;
And from the first I knew the fight was ours,
If Harvey struck that night.
Mr. Secord. Ha! ha! friend John, thine is a soldier's
Beneath that Quaker hat.
Quaker (in some embarrassment, rising).
No, no, I am a man of peace, and hate
The very name of war. I must be gone.
(To Mrs. Secord.) My woman longs to see thee,
Good-bye to all.
The Little Girls (rising). Good-bye, sir.
Mrs. Secord. Good-bye, John,
'Twould please me much to see my friend again,
But war blots out the sweet amenities
Of life. Give her my love.
Quaker. I will.
Mr. Secord (rising and taking his crutch). I'll
walk a piece with you, friend Penn,
And see you past the lines.
[His little daughter, HARRIET, hands him his hat.
Quaker. That's right, 'twill do thee good:
Thy wounds have left thee like an ailing girl,
So poor and pale.
[Exeunt Quaker and MR. SECORD.
Charlotte. Oh, dear, I wish I were a man, to fight
In such brave times as these!
Mary. Were wishing aught
Soon should another sword strike for the King,
And those dear rights now rudely overlooked.
Mrs. Secord. My child?
Mary. Oh naught, mamma, save the old tale: no nook
That's not invaded, even one's books
Borrowed without one's leave. I hate it all!
Mrs. Secord. We must be patient, dear, it cannot last.
Harriet. Oh, if we girls were boys, or Charles a man!
Mrs. Secord. Poor baby Charles! See, he's asleep; and
Dear girls, seeing we cannot fight, we'll pray
That peace may come again, for strife and blood,
Though wisely spent, are taxes hard to pay.
But come, 'tis late! See Charlie's dropt asleep;
Sing first your evening hymn, and then to bed.
I'll lay the darling down.
Charlotte. You start it, Mary.
|Softly as falls the evening shade,|
On our bowed heads Thy hands be laid;
Surely as fades the parting light,
Our sleep be safe and sweet to-night
Calmly, securely, may we rest,
As on a tender father's breast.
Let War's black pinions soar away,
And dove-like Peace resume her sway,
Our King, our country, be Thy care,
Nor ever fail of childhood's prayer.
Calmly, securely, may we rest
As on a tender father's breast.
Pete. O, mistis! Heh, mistis!
Mrs. Secord. What now, Pete?
Pete. Oh, mistis, dat yar sergeant ossifer—
Dat sassy un what call me "Woolly-bear."
An' kick my shin, he holler 'crass to me:—
"You, Pete, jes' you go in, an' tell Ma'am Secord
I'se comin' in ter supper wiv some frens."
He did jes' so—a sassy scamp.
Mrs. Secord. To-night? At this hour?
Pete. Yes, mistis; jes', jes' now. I done tell Flos
Ter put her bes' leg fus', fer I mus' go
An' ten' dat poo', sick hoss.
Mrs. Secord. Nay, you'll do nothing of the kind! You'll
And wait upon these men. I'll not have Flos
Left single-handed by your cowardice.
Pete. I aint a coward-ef I hed a club;
Dat poo', sick hoss—
Mrs. Secord. Nonsense! Go call me Flos, and see you play no tricks to-night.
Pete. No, mistis, no; no tricks. [Aside. Ef I'd a club!]
He calls from the door: Flos! Flos! Ma'am Secord wants ye.
Mrs. Secord (spreading a cloth upon the table).
God help us if these men much longer live
Upon our failing stores.
What have you got to feed these fellows, Flos?
Flos. De mistis knows it aint much, pas' noo bread,
An' two—three pies. I've sot some bacon sisslin',
An' put some taties on when Pete done tole me.
Pete. Give 'em de cider, mistis, an' some beer,
And let 'em drink 'em drunk till mas'r come
An' tell me kick 'em out.
Flos. You!—jes' hol' yer sassy tongue.
[Footsteps are heard without.
Pete. Dat's um. Dey's comin'. Dat poo', sick hoss—
[He makes for the door.
Mrs. Secord. You, Pete, come back and lay this cloth,
And wait at table properly with Flos.
Sergeant (striking Pete on the head with his cane). That's for your ugly phiz and impudence.
[Exit PETE, howling.
(To Mrs. Secord.) Your slaves are saucy, Mistress Secord.
Mrs. Secord. Well, sir!
Sergeant. None of my business, eh? Well, 'tis
You see. You got my message: what's to eat?
Mrs. Secord. My children's food, sir. This nor post-house
Nor inn, to take your orders.
[FLOS and PETE enter, carrying dishes.
Sergeant. O, bless you, we don't order; we command.
Here, men, sit down.
[He seats himself at the head of the table, and the others take their places, some of them greeting MRS. SECORD with a salute of respect.Boy, fill those jugs. You girl,
Mrs. Secord. 'Tis a child's pet.
Sergeant. O, pets be hanged!
[Exit MRS. SECORD.
Corporal. Poor thing! I'm sure none of us want the lamb.
A Private. We'll have it, though, and more, if Boerstler—
Corporal. Hold your tongue, you—
Second Private (drinking). Here's good luck, my boys, to that surprise—
Corporal (aside). Fool!
Sergeant (drinking). Here's to to-morrow and a cloudy
Fill all your glasses, boys.
Mrs. Secord (springing to meet him). Oh, James, where have you been?
Mr. Secord. I did but ramble through the pasture,
And round the orchard. 'Twas so sweet and still.
Save for the echo of the sentry's tread
O'er the hard road, it might have been old times.
But—but—you're agitated, dear; what's wrong?
I see our unasked visitors were here.
Mrs. Secord. Not that; yet that. Oh, James, I scarce can
The stormy swell that surges o'er my heart,
Awaked by what they have revealed this night.
Mr. Secord. Dear wife, what is't?
Mrs. Secord. Oh, sit you down and rest, for you will
All strength you may command to hear me tell.
[Mr. Secord sits down, his wife by him.That saucy fellow, Winter, and a guard
Mr. Secord. My God! and here am I, a paroled cripple!
Oh, Canada, my chosen country! Now—
Is't now, in this thy dearest strait, I fail?
I, who for thee would pour my blood with joy—
Would give my life for thy prosperity—
Most I stand by, and see thy foes prevail
Without one thrust?
[In his agitation he rises.
Mrs. Secord. Oh, calm thee, dear; thy strength is all to
Fitzgibbon shall be warned, or aid be sent.
Mr. Secord. But how, wife? how? Let this attempt
As well it may, and vain last year's success;
In vain fell Brock: in vain was Queenston fought:
In vain we pour out blood and gold in streams:
For Dearborn then may push his heavy force
Along the lakes, with long odds in his favour.
And I, unhappy wretch, in such a strait
Am here, unfit for service. Thirty men
Are all Fitzgibbon has to guard the stores
And keep a road 'twixt Bisshopp and De Haren.
Those stores, that road, would give the Yankee all.
Mrs. Secord. Why, be content now, dear. Had we not
This plot might have passed on to its dire end,
Like the pale owl that noiseless cleaves the dark,
And, on its dreaming prey, swoops with fell claw.
Mr. Secord. What better is it?
Mrs. Secord. This; that myself will go to Beaver Dam,
And warn Fitzgibbon: there is yet a day.
Mr. Secord. Thou! thou take a task at which a man might
No, no, dear wife! Not so.
Mrs. Secord. Ay, prithee, let me go;
'Tis not so far. And I can pass unharmed
Where you would be made prisoner, or worse.
They'll not hurt me—my sex is my protection.
Mr. Secord. Oh, not in times like these. Let them
A shadow wrong, and neither sex, nor tears,
Nor tenderness would save thy fate.
Mrs. Secord. Fear not for me. I'll be for once so
The sentries shall e'en put me on my way.
Once past the lines, the dove is not more swift
Nor sure to find her distant home than I
To reach Fitzgibbon. Say I may go.
Mr. Secord (putting his arm 'round her tenderly).
How can I let thee go? Thy tender feet
Would bleed ere half the way was done. Thy strength
Would fail 'twixt the rough road and summer heat,
And in some, gloomy depth, faint and alone,
Thou would'st lie down to die. Or, chased and hurt
By wolf or catamount, thy task undone,
Thy precious life would then be thrown away.
I cannot let thee go.
Mrs. Secord. Not thrown away! Nay, say not that, dear
No life is thrown away that's spent in doing duty.
But why raise up these phantoms of dismay?
I did not so when, at our country's call,
You leapt to answer. Said I one word
To keep you back? and yet my risk was greater
Then than now—a woman left with children
On a frontier farm, where yelling savages,
Urged on, or led, by renegades, might burn,
And kill, and outrage with impunity
Under the name of war. Yet I blenched not,
But helped you clean your musket, clasped your belt,
And sent you forth, with many a cheery word.
Did I not so?
Mr. Secord. Thou didst indeed, dear wife, thou didst.
I cannot let thee go, my darling.
Did I not promise in our marriage vow,
And to thy mother, to guard thee as myself.
Mrs. Secord. And so you will if now you let me go.
For you would go yourself, without a word
Of parley, were you able; leaving me
The while in His good hands; not doubting once
But I was willing. Leave me there now, James,
And let me go; it is our country calls.
Mr. Secord. Ah, dearest wife, thou dost not realize
All my deep promise, "guard thee as myself?"
I meant to guard thee doubly, trebly more.
Mrs. Secord. There you were wrong. The law says
Thou shalt regard thy neighbour."
Mr. Secord. My neighbour! Then is that all that thou
To me, thy husband? Shame! thou lovest me not.
Mrs. Secord. Why now, fond ingrate! What saith the
"THE GOOD, with all thy soul and mind and strength;
Thy neighbour as thyself." Thou must not love
Thyself, nor me, as thou must love the Good.
Therefore, I am thy neighbour; loved as thyself:
And as thyself wouldst go to warn Fitzgibbon
If thou wert able, so I, being able,
Thou must let me go—thy other self.
Pray let me go!
Mr. Secord (after a pause). Thou shalt, dear wife,
thou shalt. I'll say no more.
Thy courage meets the occasion. Hope shall be
My standard-bearer, and put to shame
The cohorts black anxiety calls up.
But how shall I explain to prying folks
Mrs. Secord. Say I am gone to see my brother,
'Tis known he's sick; and if I venture now
'Twill serve to make the plot seem still secure.
I must start early.
Mr. Secord. Yet not too soon, lest ill surmise
Aroused by guilty conscience doubt thy aim.
Mrs. Secord. That's true.
Yet at this time of year do travellers start
Almost at dawn to avoid the midday heats.
Tell not the children whither I am bound;
Poor darlings! Soon enough anxiety
Will fall upon them; 'tis the heritage
Of all; high, low, rich, poor; he chiefly blest
Who travels farthest ere he meets the foe.
There's much to do to leave the household straight,
I'll not retire to-night.
Mr. Secord. Oh, yes, dear wife, thou shalt not spend thy
On household duties, for thou'lt need it all
Ere thy long task be done. O, but I fear—
Mrs. Secord (quickly). Fear nothing!
Trust heaven and do your best, is wiser.
Should I meet harm,'twill be in doing duty:
Fail I shall not!
Mr. Secord. Retire, dear wife, and rest; I'll watch the
Mrs. Secord. No need to watch me, James, I shall awake.
Mr. Secord. I'd better watch.
Mrs. Secord. Well then, to please you! But call me on the
Of night, lest I should lose an hour or two
Of cooler travel.
Enter JAMES SECORD and his wife.
Mr. Secord. Heaven speed thee, then, dear wife. I'll try
The dreadful pangs of helplessness and dread
With calm demeanour, if a bursting heart.
Mrs. Secord. Then will you taste a woman's common lot
In times of strait, while I essay man's rôle
Of fierce activity. We will compare
When I return. Now, fare-thee-well, my husband.
(Fearful of being observed, they part without an embrace. Mrs. Secord walks down the garden slowly, and gathers a few clove pinks; a the gate she stops as though the latch were troublesome, raises the flowers to her lips, and makes a slight salute to her husband, who yet stands within the porch watching her. She then rapidly pursues her way, but soon encounters an American sentry, whom she essays to pass with a nod and a smile: the man prevents her by bringing his musket to the charge, and challenging.)
Mrs. Secord. Why do you stop me?
Sentry. Where is your pass?
You know that none may take the road without one.
Mrs. Secord. But surely I may go to milk my cow,
Yonder she is.
[A cow is seen in the clearing.She's wandered in the night.
Sentry. Keep you your kine at home, you've land enough.
Mrs. Secord. Why, that's our land, and those our barns and sheds.
Sentry. Well, pass!
[He suddenly observes the flowers.
But where's your milking pail?
I guess the bunch of flowers is for the cow.
Mrs. Secord (gently). You are too rough! The pinks
weep dewy tears
Upon my hand to chide you. There, take them;
[She offers him the flowers.
And let their fragrance teach you courtesy,
At least to women. You can watch me.
Sentry. Madam, suspicion blunts politeness. Pass.
I'll take your flowers, and thank you, too;
'Tis long since that I saw their fellows in
The old folks' garden.
(Mrs. Secord crosses the road, takes a rail out of the fence, which she replaces after having passed into the clearing, and proceeds to the barn, whence she brings an old pail, luckily left there, and approaches the cow.)
Mrs. Secord (aside). Could I but get her out of
sight, I'd drive
The creature round the other way, and go
My own. Pray Heaven the sentry watch me not
Too closely; his manner roused my fears.
[She waves her hand at the cow, which moves on.Co' boss! co' boss. Sh! Haste thee, poor cow;
[Both disappear in the bush.
Sentry (apostrophising the disappearing "enemy").
Well, mistress, were you gentle as your face,
The creature wouldn't run you such a race.
It serves you right! The cows my Anna milks,
Come at her call, like chickens. O, sweet voice,
When shall I hear you next? Even as I pace
With measured step this hot and dusty road,
The soft June breezes take your tones, and call,
"Come, Henry, come." Would that I could!
Would I had never joined!
But my hot blood o'ermastered my cool sense,
Nor let me see that always is not bought
Honour by arms, but often dire disgrace.
For so it is, as now I clearly see,
We let the animal within remain
Unbroke, till neither gyve nor gear will serve
To steady him, only a knock-down blow.
Had I, and others, too, within the ranks,
Haltered our coltish blood, we should have found
That hate to England, not our country's name
And weal, impelled mad Madison upon this war;
And shut the mouths of thousand higher men
It is a lesson may I learn
So as to ne'er forget, that in the heat of words
Sparks oft are struck that should be straightway quenched
In cool reflection; not enlarged and fed
With passionate tinder, till a flame is blown
That reaches past our bonds, and leaves behind
Black, sullen stumps where once the green trees grew.
If honour's what we want, there's room enough
For that, and wild adventure, too, in the West,
At half the cost of war, in opening up
A road shall reach the great Pacific.
(A step). Ha! Who goes there?
Mrs. Secord (looking in the direction of her
home). Gone! Gone! Quite out of sight! Farewell, my home,
Casket that holds my jewels! If no more
My happy eyes rest on thy lowly roof,
If never more my ears drink in the sounds
Of sweeter music, in your loving tones,
My darlings, than e'er was drawn from harp
The best attuned, by wandering Aeolus,
Then let my memory, like some fond relic laid
In musk and lavender, softly exhale
A thousand tender thoughts to soothe and bless;
And let my love hide in your heart of hearts,
And with ethereal touch control your lives,
Till in that better home we meet again.
(She covers her face with her hands, and weeps unrestrainedly for a few seconds, then recovers herself, and raises her hands in prayer.)Guard them and me, O Heaven.
[She resumes her journey, but still gazes In the direction of the Heights.
And Brock! McDonnell! Dennis!
All ye hero band, who fell on yonder Heights!
If I should fall, give me a place among ye,
And a name will be my children's pride,
For all—my all—I risk, as ye, to save
Widow. 'Tis pitiful to see one's land go waste
For want of labour, and the summer days,
So rich in blessing, spend their fruitful force
On barren furrows. And then to think
That over both the Provinces it is the same,—
No men to till the land, because the war
Needs every one. God knows how we shall feed
Next year: small crop, small grist,—a double loss
To me. The times are anxious.
(To Sergeant Mosier.) Have you news?
Sergeant. Not much, ma'am, all is pretty quiet still
Since Harvey struck them dumb at Stony Creek.
Along the Lake bold Yeo holds them fast,
And, Eric-way, Bisshopp and Evans back him.
Thus stand we now; but Proctor's all too slow.
O had we Brock again, bold, wise, and prompt,
That foreign rag that floats o'er Newark's spires
Would soon go down, and England's ensign up.
Widow. Ah, was he not a man! and yet so sweet,
So courteous, and so gentle.
Babette. Ah, oui, madame.
So kind! not one rough word he ever had,
The Général, but bow so low, "Merci, Babette,"
For glass of milk, et petit chose comme ça.
Ah, long ago it must be he was French:
Some grand seigneur, sans doute, in Guernsey then.
Ah the brave man, madame, cé hero la!
Widow. Yes, brave indeed, Babette, but English,
Oh, bravery, good girl, is born of noble hearts,
And calls the world its country, and its sex
Widow. You do not understand me, not; but you
Were very brave and noble-hearted when
You faced the wolf that scented the young lambs.
Babette. Brave! moi! Madame is kind to say it
But bravery of women—what is that
To bravery of man?
Tom. An' that's just what I said to Hatty, mother,
When she declared that Aunty Laura was
As brave as soldiers, 'cause she went an' fetched
Poor Uncle James from off the battlefield.
After the fight was over. That wasn't much!
Widow. You're but an ignorant little boy, my son,
But might be wiser were you not so pert.
Sergeant. I heard not that before, ma'am.
Widow. Did you not?
'Tis very true. Upon that dreadful day,
After Brock fell, and in the second fight,
When with the Lincoln men and Forty-first
Sheaffe led the attack, poor Captain Secord dropped,
Shot, leg and shoulder, and bleeding there he lay,
With numbers more, when evening fell; for means
Were small to deal with wounded men, and all,
Soldiers and citizens, were spent and worn
With cruel trials. So when she learned he lay
Among the wounded, his young wife took up
A lantern in her hand, and searched the field—
Whence sobs and groans and cries rose up to heaven
And paled the tearful stars—until she found
The man she loved, not sure that life remained.
Then binding him as best she might, she bore,
With some kind aid, the fainting body home,—
If home it could be called where rabid hate
Had spent its lawless rage in deeds of spite;
Where walls and roof were torn with many balls,
And shelter scarce was found.
That very night,
Distrustful lest the foe, repulsed and wild,
Should launch again his heavier forces o'er
The flood, she moved her terror-stricken girls—
Four tender creatures—and her infant boy,
Her wounded husband and her two young slaves,
'Neath cover of thick darkness to the farm,
A mile beyond: a feat even for a man.
And then she set her woman's wit and love
To the long task of nursing back to health
Her husband, much exhaust through loss of blood,
and all the angry heat of gunshot wounds.
But James will never be himself again
Despite her care.
Sergeant. 'Twas well and bravely done.
Yet oft I think the women of these days
Degenerate to those I knew in youth.
Widow. You're hasty, Sergeant, already hath this war
Shown many a young and delicate woman
A very hero for—her hero's sake;
Nay, more, for others'. She, our neighbour there
At Queenston, who when our troops stood still,
Weary and breathless, took her young babe,
Her husband under arms among the rest,
And cooked and carried for them on the field:
Was she not one in whom the heroic blood
Ran thick and strong as e'er in times gone by?
O Canada, thy soil is broadcast strown
With noble deeds: a plague on him, I say,
Who follows with worse seed!
(She rises and prepares for making pies. Babette clears off the table, and Sergeant George smokes his pipe, sitting close to the open chimney, now filled with fresh branches of spruce and cedar.)
Sergeant. Well, mistress, p'rhaps you're right; old folks
Old times the best; but now your words recall
The name of one, the bravest of her sex,
So far as e'er I saw, save, p'rhaps, the Baroness.
Tender of frame, most gentle, softly raised,
And young, the Lady Harriet Acland shared,
With other dames whose husbands held commands,
The rough campaign of 'Seventy-six.
But her lot fell so heavy, and withal
She showed such spirit, cheerfulness, and love,
Her name became a watchword in the ranks.
Widow. And what about her, Sergeant?
Sergeant. Well, mistress, as you ask I'll tell the
She was the wife of Major John Dyke-Acland,
An officer of Grenadiers, then joined
To Highland Frazer's arm of Burgoyne's troops.
At Chamblée he was wounded. Leaving the Fort,
His wife crossed lake and land, by means so rough
As tried the strength of men, to nurse him.
Recovered; next he fought Ticonderoga,
And there was badly wounded. Lake Champlain
She traversed to his aid in just a batteau.
No sooner was he better, than again
He joined his men, always the first to move,
And so alert their situation was,
That all slept in their clothes. In such a time
The Major's tent took fire, and he, that night,
But for a sergeant's care, who dragged him out,
Had lost his life. Twice saved he was;
For thinking that his wife still lay within,
Burning to death, he broke away,
And plunged into the fiery mass. But she,
Scarce half awake, had crept from out the tent,
And gained her feet in time to see him rush
In search of her—a shuddering sight to one
Loving and loved so well. But luckily,
Both then were saved. She also shared the march
That followed up the foe, action impending
At every step; and when the fight began,
Though sheltered somewhat, heard all the din,
The roar of guns, and bursting shells, and saw
The hellish fire belch forth, knowing the while
Her husband foremost in the dreadful fray.
Nay, more; her hut was all the shelter given
To dress the wounded first; so her kind eyes
Were forced to witness sights of ghastly sort,
Such as turn surgeons faint; nor she alone,
Three other ladies shared her anxious care:
But she was spared the grief they knew too soon,
Her husband being safe.
But when Burgoyne
At Saratoga lost the bloody day,
The Major came not back—a prisoner he,
And desperate wounded. After anxiety
So stringent and prolonged, it seemed too much
To hope the lady could support such sting
And depth of woe, yet drooped she not; but rose
And prayed of Burgoyne, should his plans allow,
To let her pass into the hostile camp,
There to beseech for leave to tend her husband.
Full pitifully Burgoyne granted her
The boon she asked, though loath to let her go;
For she had passed hours in the drenching rain,
Sleepless and hungry; nor had he e'en a cup
Of grateful wine to offer. He knew
Her danger, too, as she did,—that she might fall
In cruel hands; or, in the dead of night
Approaching to the lines, be fired on.
Yet yielding to her prayer, he let her go,
Giving her all he could, letters to Gates,
And for her use an open boat.
Thus she set forth, with Chaplain Brudenell
For escort, her maid, and the poor Major's man—
Thus was she rowed adown the darkling stream.
Night fell before they reached the enemy's posts,
And all in vain they raised the flag of truce,
The sentry would not even let them land,
But kept them there, all in the dark and cold,
Threatening to fire upon them if they stirred
Before the break of day. Poor lady! Sad
Were her forebodings through those darksome hours,
And wearily her soft maternal frame
Bore such great strain. But as the dark
Grows thickest ere the light appears, so she
Found better treatment when the morning broke.
With manly courtesy, proud Gates allowed
Her wifely claim, and gave her all she asked.
Widow. Could he do less! Yes, Sergeant, I'll allow
Old times show tender women bold and brave
For those they love, and 'twill be ever so.
And yet I hold that woman braver still
Who sacrifices all she loves to serve
The public weal.
Sergeant. And was there ever one?
Widow. Oh, yes—
[SERGEANT GEORGE is leaving the kitchen.
Mrs. Secord (curtesying). I'm glad to meet you, sir.
Sergeant (bowing low). Your servant, madam,
I hope your gallant husband is recovered.
Mrs. Secord. I thank you, sir, his wound, but not his
And still his arm is crippled.
Sergeant. A badge of honour, madam, like to mine,
[He points to his empty sleeve.
[Exit SERGEANT GEORGE.
Widow. That's right, girl, set it here. (To Mrs.
Secord.) Come eat a bit.
That ham is very nice, 'tis Gloucester fed,
And cured-malt-coombs, you know, so very sweet.
(To Babette.) Mind thou the oven, lass, I've pies to bake,
And then a brisket.
Mrs. Secord. I got no leave; three several sentries
With words of guile, have passed, and still I fear
My ultimate success. 'Tis not to see
Poor Charles I came, but to go further on
To Beaver Dam, and warn Fitzgibbon there
Of a foul plot to take him by surprise
This very night. We found it out last eve,
But in his state poor James was helpless,
So I go instead.
Widow. You go to Beaver Dam! Nineteen long miles
On hot and dusty roads, and all alone!
You can't, some other must.
Mrs. Secord. I must, no other can. The time is short,
And through the virgin woods my way doth lie,
For should those sentries meet, or all report
I passed their bounds, suspicion would be waked,
And then what hue and cry!
Widow. The woods! and are you crazed? You cannot go!
The woods are full of creatures wild and fierce,
And wolves prowl round about. No path is blazed,
No underbrush is cleared, no clue exists
Of any kind to guide your feet. A man
Could scarce get through, how then shall you?
Mrs. Secord. I have a Guide in Heaven. This task is
To me without my seeking. If no word
Reaches Fitzgibbon ere that murderous horde
Be on him, how shall he save himself?
And if defeat he meets, then farewell all
Our homes and hopes, our liberties and lives.
Widow. Oh, dear! oh, dear! and must you risk your
Your precious life? Think of it, Laura, yet:
Soldiers expect to fight; and keep strict watch
Against surprise. Think of your little girls,
Should they be left without a mother's care;
Your duty is to them, and surely not
In tasks like this. You go to risk your life.
As if you had a right, and thereby leave
Those who to you owe theirs, unpitied,
Desolate. You've suffered now enough
With all you've lost, and James a cripple, too,
What will the children do should they lose you
Just when their youthful charms require your care?
They'll blame you, Laura, when they're old enough
To judge what's right.
Mrs. Secord. I do not fear it.
Children can see the right at one quick glance,
For, unobscured by self or prejudice,
They mark the aim, and not the sacrifice
Widow. Did James consent to have you go?
Mrs. Secord. Not till he found there was no other
He fretted much to think he could not go.
Widow. I'm sure he did. A man may undergo
A forced fatigue, and take no lasting hurt,
But not a woman. And you so frail—
It is your life you risk. I sent my lads,
Expecting them to run the chance of war,
And these you go to warn do but the same.
Mrs. Secord. You see it wrong; chances of war to
Would murder be to these, and on my soul,
Because I knew their risk, and warned them not.
You'll think I'm right when tramp of armed men,
And rumble of the guns disturb you in your sleep.
Then, in the calmer judgment night-time brings,
You'd be the first to blame the selfish care
That left a little band of thirty men
A prey to near six hundred.
Widow. Just the old story! Six hundred—it's
Why, Were they tailors—nine to make a man—
'Tis more than two to one. Oh, you must go.
Mrs. Secord. I knew you'd say so when you came to
It was your love to me that masked your judgment.
I'll go and see poor Charles, but shall not say
My real errand, 'twould excite him so.
[Exit MRS. SECORD.
Widow. Poor Laura! Would to God I knew some way
To lighten her of such a task as this.
[Enter SERGEANT GEORGE.
Sergeant. Is it too early for the invalid?
The lads are here, and full of ardour.
Widow. Oh, no, his sister's with him.
[A bugle is heard sounding the assembly.
Mrs. Secord. What's that! What's that!
Widow. I should have warned you, dear,
But don't be scared, its Sergeant George's boys.
He's gathered quite a company of lads
From round about, with every match-lock, gun,
Or fowling-piece the lads could find, and drills
Them regularly every second morn.
He calls 'em "Young St. David's Yeoman Guard,"
Their horses, "shankses naigie." Look you here!
(Both ladies look through the open window from which is visible the driving shed: here are assembled some twenty lads of all ages and heights, between six and sixteen. They carry all sorts of old firelocks and are "falling in." They are properly sized, and form a "squad with intervals." In the rear stands a mash-tub with a sheepskin stretched over it for a drum, and near it is the drummer-boy, a child of six; a bugle, a cornet and a bassoon are laid in a corner, and two or three boys stand near.)
Sergeant George. Now, Archy, give the cadence in slow time. (To the squad.) Slow—march. (They march some thirty paces.) Squad—halt. (They halt, many of them out of line.) Keep your dressing. Steps like those would leave some of you half behind on a long march. Right about face—two—three. That's better. Slow—march. (They march.) Squad—halt. (They all bring up into line.) That's better. No hangers back with foe in front. Left about face—two—three. Keep up your heads. By the right—dress. Stand easy. Fall in, the band. We'll try the music.
(The band falls in, three little fellows have fifes, two elder ones flutes, one a flageolet; the owners of the cornet, bugle and bassoon take up their instruments, and a short, stout fellow has a trombone.)
Sergeant George (to the band). Now show your loyalty, "The King! God bless him."
[They play, the squad saluting.
Sergeant George (to band.) That's very well, but mind your time. (To the squad.) Now you shall march to music. (To the band.) Boys, play—"The Duke of York's March." (To the squad.) Squad—attention. Quick march. (They march.) Squad—halt.
[At a signal, the band ceases playing.Yes, that's the way to meet your country's foes.
(Plays Yankee Doodle with equal cleverness and spite, travestying both phrase and expression in a most ludicrous manner until the boys find it impossible to march for laughter; the Sergeant is evidently delighted with the result.)Ho! Ho! That's how you march to "Yankee Doodle."
Mrs. Secord. The Sergeant's bitter on the foe, I think.
Widow. He is, but can you wonder? Hounded out
When living peaceably upon his farm.
Shot at, and threatened till he takes a side,
And then obliged to fly to save his life,
Losing all else, his land, his happy home,
His loving wife, who sank beneath the change,
Because he chose the rather to endure
A short injustice, than belie his blood
By joining England's foes. He went with Moody.
Mrs. Secord. Poor fellow! Those were heavy times, like these.
Sergeant George. Now boys, the grand new tune, "Britannia Rules the Waves," play con spirito, that means heart! mind! soul! as if you meant it.
(He beats time, and adds a note of the drum at proper points, singing the chorus with much vigour and emphasis. Mrs. Secord betrays much emotion, and when the tune is begun for the third verse, she hastily closes the window.)
Shut, shut it out, I cannot bear it, Ellen,
It shakes my heart's foundations! Let me go.
Widow. Nay, but you're soon upset. If you must go,
Your bonnet's on my bed. I'll get a bite
Of something for you on the road.
[She busies herself in filling a little basket with refreshment, and offers MRS. SECORD cake and wine.
[She bursts into tears.
Mrs. Secord. Nay, sister, nay, be calm!
Send me away light-hearted,
Widow. I'll go with you a mile or two.
Mrs. Secord. No, no.
It might arouse suspicion.
[She opens the door, and the WIDOW SECORD joins her.
Widow. Times indeed
When every little act has some to watch!
[Points to a tree.
Mrs. Secord. I do.
Widow. There is a little path leads down
To a small creek, cross that, and keep the sun
Behind you half a mile, and then you strike
The bush, uncleared and wild. Good God, to think—
Mrs. Secord. Think not, but pray, and if a chance
Send aid to poor Fitzgibbon. Little help
Just in the nick of time oft turns the scale
Of fortune. God bless you, dear! Good bye.
[They embrace with tears. Exit MRS. SECORD.
Mrs. Secord. This spot is surely safe; here I will
For unaccustomed service tires my limbs,
And I have travelled many a weary rood
More than a crow-line measures; ups and downs
Absorb so many steps that nothing add
To distance. Faint am I, too, and thirsty.
Hist! hist! ye playful breezes that do make
Melodious symphonies and rippling runs
Among the pines and aspens, hear I not
A little tinkling rill, that somewhere hides
Its sweet beneficence 'mid ferns and moss?
[She rises and looks about.Ay, here it is: a tiny brilliancy
[She reseats herself, and contemplates the scene.
(She rises to proceed, and at the first step a rattlesnake rears up at her, hissing and springing its rattles. She recoils in fear, but remembering the cowardly nature of the creatures, throws sticks at it, and it glides swiftly away.)
Base as vile, and cowardly as base;
A straight descendant thou of him, methinks,
Man's ancient foe, or else his paraphrase.
Is there no Eden that thou enviest not?
No purity thou would'st not smirch with gall?
No rest thou would'st not break with agony?
Aye, Eve, our mother-tongue avenges thee,
For there is nothing mean, or base, or vile,
That is not comprehended in the name
[Exit MRS. SECORD.
Mrs. Secord. How quiet are the woods!
The choir of birds that daily ushers in
The rosy dawn with bursts of melody,
And swells the joyful train that waits upon
The footsteps of the sun, is silent now,
Dismissed to greenwood bowers. Save happy cheep
Of callow nestling, that closer snugs beneath
The soft and sheltering wing of doting love,—Like
croon of sleeping babe on mother's breast—No
sound is heard, but, peaceful, all enjoy
Their sweet siesta on the waving bough,
Fearless of ruthless wind, or gliding snake.
So peaceful lies Fitzgibbon at his post,
Nor dreams of harm. Meanwhile the foe
Glides from his hole, and threads the darkling route,
In hope to coil and crush him.
Ah, little recks he that a woman holds
The power to draw his fangs!
And yet some harm must come, some blood must flow,
In spite of all my poor endeavour.
O War, how much I hate thy wizard arts,
That, with the clash and din of brass and steel,
O'erpowers the voice of pleading reason;
And with thy lurid light, in monstrous rays
Enfolds the symmetry of human love,
Making a brother seem a phantom or a ghoul!
Before thy deadly scowl kind peace retires,
And seeks the upper skies.
O, cruel are the hearts that cry "War!" "War!"
As if War were an angel, not a fiend;
His gilded chariot, a triumphal car,
And not a Juggernauth whose wheels drop gore;
His offerings, flowers and fruit, and chaplets gay,
And not shrieks, tears, and groans of babes and women.
And yet hath War, like Juggernauth, a hold,
A fascination, for humanity,
That makes his vot'ries martyrs for his sake.
Even I, poor weakling, march in keeping-time
To that grand music that I heard to-day,
Though children played it, and I darkly feel
Its burden is resistance physical.
'Tis strange that simple tones should move one so!
What is it, what, this sound, this air, this breath
The wind can blow away,
Nor most intricate fetters can enchain?
What component of being doth it touch
That it can raise the soul to ecstasy,
Or plunge it in the lowest depth of horror?
Freeze the stopt blood, or send it flowing on
In pleasant waves?
Can draw soft tears, or concentrate them hard
To form a base whereon the martyr stands
To take his leap to Heaven?
What is this sound that, in Niagara's roar
Brings us to Sinai;
Or in the infant's prayer to Him, "Our Father?"
That by a small inflection wakes the world,
And sends its squadroned armies on
To victory or death;
Or bids it, peaceful, rest, and grow, and build?
That reassures the frighted babe; or starts
The calm philosopher, without a word?
That, in the song of little bird speaks glee;
Or in a groan strikes mortal agony?
That, in the wind, brings us to shipwreck, death.
And dark despair;
Or paints us blessed islands far from care or pain?
Then what is sound?
The chord it vibrates with its magic touch
Is not a sense to man peculiar,
An independent string formed by that breath
That, breathed into the image corporate,
Made man a living soul.
No, for all animate nature owns
Its sovereign power. Brutes, birds, fish, reptiles, all
That breathe, are awed or won by means of sound.
Therefore, it must be of the corporate, corporeal
And, if so, why then the body lives again,
Despite what sceptics say; for sound it is
Will summon us before that final bar
To give account of deeds done in the flesh.
The spirit cannot thus be summoned,
Since entity it hath not sound can strike.
Let sceptics rave! I see no difficulty
That He, who from primordial atoms formed
A human frame, can from the dust awake it
Once again, marshal the scattered molecules
And make immortal, as was Adam.
This body lives! Or else no deep delight
Of quiring angels harping golden strings;
No voice of Him who calls His children home;
No glorious joining in the immortal song
Could touch our being
But how refined our state!
How changed! Never to tire or grow distraught,
Or wish for rest, or sleep, or quietude,
But find in absence of these earthly needs
A truer Heaven.
O might I rest even now!
These feet grow painful, and the shadows tell
Of night and dark approaching, my goal
An anxious distance off.
[She gazes round.I'll rest awhile,
(She seats herself, and having removed her bonnet, partakes of the refreshment brought from the mill. As she eats, a grieved look comes upon her face, and she wipes away a tear.)The sun leans towards the west: O darlings mine,
[She proceeds towards the beech ridge, but is stayed at the foot by a rapid-running stream.Nor bridge, nor stone, nor log, how shall I cross?
(She climbs the hemlock root and reaches the trunk, across which she crawls on her hands and knees, and at last finds herself some yards up the beech ridge. After arranging her torn and dishevelled clothing she proceeds up the ridge, at the top of which she encounters a British sentry, who challenges.)
Sentry. Who goes there?
Mrs. Secord. A friend.
Sentry. What friend?
Mrs. Secord. To Canada and Britain.
Sentry. Your name and errand.
Mrs. Secord. My name is Secord—Captain Secord's
Who fought at Queenston;—and my errand is
To Beaver Dam to see Fitzgibbon,
And warn him of a sortie from Fort George
To move to-night. Five hundred men, with guns,
And baggage-waggons for the spoil, are sent.
For, with such force, the enemy is sure
Our stores are theirs; and Stoney Creek avenged.
Sentry. Madam, how know you this?
Mrs. Secord. I overheard
Some Yankee soldiers, passing in and out
With all a victor's license of our hearths,
Talk of it yesternight, and in such wise
No room for doubt remained. My husband wished
To bear the news himself, but is disabled yet
By those two wounds he got at Queenston Heights,
And so the heavy task remained with me,
Much to his grief.
Sentry. A heavy task indeed.
How got you past their lines?
Mrs. Secord. By many wiles;
Those various arts that times like these entail.
Sentry. And then how got you here?
Mrs. Secord. I left my home
At daybreak, and have walked through the deep woods
The whole way since I left St. David's Mill.
Sentry. 'Tis past belief, did not your looks accord.
And still you have a weary way to go,
And through more woods. Could I but go with you,
How gladly would I! Such deed as yours
Deserves more thanks than I can give. Pass, friend,
[MRS. SECORD passes the Sentry, who turns and walks with her.
Mrs. Secord. There's naught to fear, I hope, but natural
Lynxes or rattlesnakes, upon my way.
Sentry. There are some Mohawks ambushed in the wood,
But where I cannot quite point out; they choose
Their ground themselves, but they are friends, though rough,—
Some of Kerr's band, Brant's son-in-law. You'll need
To tell the chief your errand should you cross him.
Mrs. Secord. Thanks: for I rather fear our red
Is there a piquet?
Sentry. No, not near me; our men are all too
A link goes to and fro 'twixt me and quarters,
And is but just now left (he turns sharp about).
My limit this—
Yonder your road (he points to the woods).
God be wi' you. Good-bye.
Mrs. Secord. Good-bye, my friend.
[Exit MRS. SECORD.
Sentry. A bold, courageous deed!
A very woman, too, tender and timid.
That country's safe whose women serve her cause
With love like this. And blessed, too, it is,
In having such for wives and mothers.
Mrs. Secord. Gloomy, indeed, and weird, and oh, so
In such a spot and hour the mind takes on
Moody imaginings, the body shrinks as'twere,
And all the being sinks into a sea
Of deariness and doubt and death.
[The call of the death-bird is heard.Thou little owl, that with despairing note
[A prolonged howl is heard in the distance.
The wolves! the dreadful wolves!
they've scented me.
O whither shall I fly? no shelter near;
No help. Alone! O God, alone!
[She looks wildly round for a place to fly to. Another howl is heard.
O Father! not this death, if I must
My task undone, 'tis too, too horrible!
[Another howl as of many wolves, but at a distance; she bends to listen, her hand upon her heart.
Be still, wild heart, nor fill my
With thy deep throbs.
[The howl of the wolves is again heard, but faintly.
Thank God, not me they seek!
Some other scent allures the ghoulish horde.
On, on, poor trembler! life for life it is,
If I may warn Fitzgibbon.
[She steps inadvertently into a little pool, hastily stoops and drinks gladly.
Oh blessed water! To my parched
More precious than were each bright drop a gem
From far Golconda's mine; how at thy touch
The parting life comes back, and hope returns
To cheer my drooping heart!
(She trips and falls, and instantly the Indian war-whoop resounds close at hand, and numbers of braves seem to spring from the ground, one of whom approaches her as she rises with his tomahawk raised.)
Indian. Woman! what woman want?
Mrs. Secord (leaping forward and seizing his arm). O
chief, no spy am I, but friend to you
And all who love King George and wear his badge.
All through this day I've walked the lonely woods
To do you service. I have news, great news,
To tell the officer at Beaver Dam.
This very night the Long Knives leave Fort George
To take him by surprise, in numbers more
Than crows on ripening corn. O help me on!
I'm Laura Secord, Captain Secord's wife,
Of Queenstown; and Tecumseh, your great chief,
And Tekoriogea are our friends.
Chief. White woman true and brave, I send with you
Mishe-mo-qua, he know the way and sign,
And bring you safe to mighty chief Fitzgibbon.
Mrs. Secord. O thanks, kind chief, and never shall your
Want aught that I can give them.
Chief (to another). Young chief, Mish-e-mo-qua, with
And give her into care of big white chief.
She carry news. Dam Long-Knife come in dark
To eat him up.
Mishe-mo-qua. Ugh! rascal! dam!
[Exeunt MISHE-MO-QUA and MRS. SECORD.
Lieut. Fitzgibbon. 'Tis true, it seems, and yet most
More than five hundred thousand fighting men
Crossed with him o'er the front, and not a tenth
Remains. Rather than let him find a place
For winter quarters, two hundred thousand
Happy families had to forsake their homes
In dead of winter, and of the ancient seat
Of Russian splendour, Rotopschin made a pyre,
A blazing pyre of all its precious things:
Moscow is burned.
First Sergeant. So Boney could but toast his freezing
And march back home again: Fine glory that!
Fitzgibbon. Sad waste of precious lives for one man's
But this mishap will seal his fate. The Czar
Will see his interest is a strong alliance,
And all the Powers will prove too great a match,
Even for Buonaparte.
Second Sergeant. Where is he now, Lieutenant?
Fitzgibbon. In Paris, plotting again, I see; or was
Nine weeks ago.
First Private. Yon news coom quick.
Now when I were a bairn, that's forty year sin',
We heard i' York 'at Merriky refused
To pay the taxes, just three munth's arter;
An' that wur bonnie toime, fur then t'coaäch
Tuk but foive daäies ti mak' t' hull waai' doon,
Two hunner moile, fra Lunnon.
Fitzgibbon (still scanning the newspaper).
Well, Jimmy, here's a man, one Bell,
Of Greenock, can send a boat by steam
Against the wind and tide, and talks with hope
Of making speed equal to both.
He's tried it on the Clyde, so we may look
For news from England in a month, ere long.
First Private. Na, na, sir; noo doant 'e pooak fun at
Iver he doos ma' I go hang. Why neist
They scatterbrain 'ull mayhap send a shep
Jest whear tha' loike wi'oot a win' at all.
Or promise till 't. 'Twere pity Nelson, noo,
He'd noan o' sech at Copenháagen
Mebbe tha' cu'd ha' gott tha' grunded sheps
Afloat, an gett moor men to fe'ht them Dáans.
Fitzgibbon. The fewer men the greater glory, Jim.
Why, man, he got his title by that fight.
Second Sergeant. And well deserved it! A finer man
Never trod deck, sailor or officer;
His voice gave courage, as his eye flashed fire.
We would have died for him, and he for us;
And when the fight was done he got our rights,
Or tried at it. More than old Parker did.
First Sergeant. Parker was rich, and so forgot the
But Nelson forgot none.
Second Private. He was cliver, too. Dash't! how I
All i' my sleeve o' course. The fight was hot,
And getting hotter, for, gad, them Danes can fight!
And quite a quarter o' the ships was stuck,
The Admiral's among 'em. So Nelson held
The squadron at command. Up comes the word,
"The signal Thirty-nine is out, sir." Nelson turns,
His stump a-goin' as his arm was used
Afore he lost it, meets the officer, as says,
"Sir, Thirty-nine is out, shall I repeat it?"
"No, sir; acknowledge it." Then on he goes.
Presently he calls out, "What's flying now?"
"The same, sir." So he takes his glass
And puts it to his eye, his blind eye, mind you,
An' says he, "No signal can I see. No,
Ne'er a one." Winking to Ferguson, says he,
"I've but one eye, and may be blind sometimes.
What! strike off now and lose the day? Not so:
My signal keep for 'Closer battle,' flying.
That's how I'll answer. Confound the signal!
Nail mine to the mast." He won.
First Militiaman. Just touch and go for hanging, that.
Fitzgibbon. Success ne'er saw a scaffold, Jeremy.
A Cadet. Fine-looking fellow Nelson-was, I guess?
First Sergeant. To look at? No, a little, thin, pale
With a long queue, one arm, and but one eye,
But that a blazer!
Second Militiaman. These little uns has lots o'
Boney's a little un, I've heerd.
First Private. Just so: and Wellington ain't big.
Fitzgibbon (rising and drawing himself to his full
Come, boys, you're getting personal. See me!
If none but little men may win renown,
I hope I'm two in one, for your sakes.
And you forget the lion-hearted Brock.
All (interrupting him). No! no! no!
Fitzgibbon. A man of height exceeding any here,
And yet whose alt of metred inches
Nobly enlarged to full, fair, Saxon mould,
And vested in the blazonments of rule,
Shewed not so kingly to the obeisant sight
As was his soul. Who than ye better knew
His bravery; his lofty heroism;
His purity, and great unselfish heart?
Nature in him betrayed no niggard touch
Of corporate or ethereal. Yet I yield
That men of lesser mould in outward form
Have been as great in deeds of rich renown.
But then, I take it, greatness lies not in
The flesh, but in the spirit. He is great
Who from the quick occasion of the time
Strikes out a name. And he is also great
Who, in a life-long struggle, throws the foe,
And binds on hoary locks the laurel crown.
Each is a high exemplar.
One with concentrate vigour strikes a blow
That rings around the world; the other draws
The world round him—his mighty throes
And well-contested standpoints win its praise
And force its verdict, though bleak indifference—
A laggard umpire—long neglect his post,
And often leaves the wrestler's best unnoted,
Coming but just in time to mark his thews
And training, and so decides: while the loud shock
Of unexpected prowess starts him aghast,
And from his careless hand snatches the proud award.
But mark me, men, he who is ever great
Has greatness made his aim—
The sudden blow or long-protracted strife
Yields not its secret to the untrained hand.
True, one may cast his statue at a heat,
But yet the mould was there;
And he who chips the marble, bit by bit,
Into a noble form, sees all the while
His image in the block.
There are who make a phantom of their aim—
See it now here, now there, in this, in that,
But never in the line of simple duty;
Such will accomplish nothing but their shame:
For greatness never leaves that thin, straight mark;
And, just as the pursuit diverges from it,
Greatness evanishes, and notoriety
Misleads the suitor. I'd have you think of this.
All. Aye, aye, sir.
Fitzgibbon. Order the lights, for darkness falls
And I must write.
[Exit First Private.
Fitzgibbon (cutting the newspaper and handing the halves to the sergeants). There, read to the rest, and let me have them back when done with.
[A voice is heard in the next room, beginning to sing.Who's that?
First Private. It's Roaring Bill, sir; shall I stop him?
Fitzgibbon. No; let him sing.
It cheers our loneliness, and does us good.
First Sergeant. Another of his own, I guess; homespun
And rough, like country cloth.
Fitzgibbon. Hush! what is that he says?
[A Cadet gently pushes one of the folding doors a little wider open.
Roaring Bill. 'Tis but a doleful ditty, boys,
With ne'er a chorus; yet I'll be bound
You'll hardly quarrel with it.
A Comrade. Let's have it, Bill; we ain't red Injuns,
As likes palaver.
|October blasts had strown the wreaths that erstwhile hung so
Above the brows of Queenston Heights where we impatient lay;
Niagara fretted at our feet, as chafing at his post,
And impotence to turn the fleets that bore the aggressive host.
And gray the dawn and cold the morn of Rensselaer's attack,
But warm and true the hearts, though few, that leapt to beat him back.
"On, Forth-ninth! On, volunteers! Give tongue, ye batteries twain!"
Bold Dennis spake: the guns boomed forth, and down he rushed amain.
They sink! They fly! They drop down stream.—Ah, too delusive sight!
A long-abandoned path they find, and gain the wooded height.
The batteries now must guard the shore—above, our struggle lies;
But down they pour, like surging flood, that skill and strength defies.
Down, down, they press us, inch by inch, beyond the village bound,
And there, o'erwhelmed, but not o'ercome, we keep our sullen ground.
Short time we stand. A ringing cheer proclaims our hero nigh;
Our darling leader, noble Brock—hark to his gallant cry!
"Follow me, boys!" the hero cries. We double to the wall—
Waving his gleaming sword on high, he climbs, and follow all;
Impetuous up the mountain side he strides in warlike glee,
All heedless of the leaden hail that whistles from each tree:
For on and up proud Victory lures—we touch her laurel crown—
When by malign, deliberate aim the hero's stricken down.
He falls! We fire, but ah, too late—the murderous work is done.
No more that voice shall cheer us on, with "Vict'ry!" in its tone.
He falls: nor word nor look may cheer young Jarvis' anxious quest;
Among his stricken men he sinks, his hand but seeks his breast.
O, Death, could none but him suffice thy cold, insatiate eye?
Nor knewed'st thou how many there for him would gladly die!
Nor lonely speeds the parting soul, nor lonely stands the bier—
Two forms the bastion-tomb enfolds, two claim the soldier's tear.
"Avenge the General!" was the cry. "AVENGE!" McDonell cries,
And, leading madly up the Height, McDonell falls and dies.
[Several of the men pass their hands over their eyes; MR. JARVIS goes to the open window, as if to observe something without.
An 8th man. A mournful ditty to a mournful tune,
Yet not unworthy of the heroic theme,
Nor of a soldier's heart.
Mr. Jarvis (in a low voice). Indeed, you're right.
I thank the singer for his memories,
Though sad to me, who caught Brock's latest breath.
Fitzgibbon. I did not think there had been such a
Of genius in the lad. (Another voice.) But who's this, now?
Second Cadet. It's young Jack Kelley, sir; he has a
And emulates old Bill.
Jack Kelley (with the airs of an amateur.) Ugh!
ugh! I'm hoarse.
Now mind the coal-box, byes, and sing it up.
"The Jolly Midshipman's" the tune.
It was a bold Canadian boy
That loved a winsome girl;
And he was bold as ancient knight,
She, fair as day's own pearl.
And to the greenwood they must go,
To build a home and name,
So he clasped hands with Industry,
For fortune, wealth and fame.
| For fortune, wealth and fame,|
For fortune, wealth and fame;
So he clasped hands with Industry,
For fortune, wealth and fame.
And when the jocund Spring came in,
He crowned the wedded pair.
And sent them forth with hearts elate
Their wildwood home to share.
For he had built a snug log-house,
Beneath a maple tree;
And his axe had cleared a wide domain,
While store of goods spun she.
While store of goods spun she,
While store of goods spun she,
And his axe had cleared a wide domain,
While store of goods spun she.
The husband whistles at his plough,
The wife sings at her wheel,
The children wind the shrilly horn
That tells the ready meal.
And should you roam the wide world o'er,
No happier home you'll see,
Than this abode of loving toil
Beneath the maple tree.
Beneath the maple tree,
Beneath the maple tree,
Than this abode of loving toil
Beneath the maple tree.
A 49th man. Hurrah, Jack! that's a good tune,
Let's have the chorus again.
| Beneath the maple tree,|
Beneath the maple tree,
Than this abode of lov—
[The Sentry challenges, and a Corporal enters and salutes FITZGIBBON.
Fitzgibbon. Well, Corporal.
Corporal. Sir, here is Mishe-mo-qua and a woman.
They say they've news, and wish to speak with you.
Fitzgibbon. Then, Corporal, show them in.
Several Militiamen (in surprise, aside to each
other.) 'Tis Mrs. Secord, Captain Secord's wife;
What can her errand be? So tired, too,
And in rags.
Mrs. Secord (courtesying). You are the Captain, sir?
Fitzgibbon. At your service.
Mrs. Secord. I bring you news of great importance, sir.
Fitzgibbon. I am indebted, madam, for what I see
Has been no common task. Be seated, pray.
[A Cadet places a chair.
[He indicates a couch.
Mishe-mo-qua. No. Woman, she
Come far, to tell white chief great words.
Fitzgibbon. I thank her much.
Mrs. Secord. I came to say that General Dearborn
Of his inaction, and the narrow space
Around his works, he therefore purposes
To fall upon your outpost here, to-night,
With an o'erwhelming force, and take your stores:
Mrs. Secord. Five hundred men, with some dragoons and
Start e'en to-night, soon as the moon goes down;
Lieutenant-Colonel Boerstler in command.
A train of waggons, too, is sent for spoil.
Fitzgibbon. And may I ask on what authority
To trust such startling news? I know you not.
Mrs. Secord. My name is Secord, I'm Captain Secord's
Who fought at Queenston Heights, and there received
The wounds that leave him now a helpless cripple.
Some here may know him.
Fitzgibbon. I remember now.
Mrs. Secord. We live within the Yankee lines, and
By victor's right our home is free to them.
Last night a sergeant and his new-changed guard
Came in and asked for supper; a boy and girl
I left to wait on them, seeing the table set
With all supplies myself, and then retired.
But such their confidence; their talk so loud
And free, I could not help but hear some words
That raised suspicion; then I listened close
And heard, 'mid gibe and jest, the enterprise
That was to flout us; make the Loyalist
A cringing slave to sneering rebels; make
The British lion gnash his teeth with rage;—
The Yankee, hand-on-hip, guffawing loud
The while. At once, my British blood was up,
Nor had I borne their hated presence more,
But for the deeper cause. My husband judged
As I did, but his helpless frame forbade
His active interference, so I came,
For well we knew your risk, warning denied.
Fitzgibbon. Alone? You surely did not come alone?
Mrs. Secord. Sir, I have walked the whole way through the
For fear of spies, braving all other foes.
Nor, since at early morn I left St. David's Mill,
Until I met your sentry on the ridge,—
Who begged me tell you so, and said "all's well,"—
Spoke I, or saw, a soul. Since then, the chief,
Whose senior sent him with me for a guide,
Has been my kind protector to your post.
Fitzgibbon (to the chief). I thank you, Mishe-mo-qua, and your chief.
(To Mrs. Secord, bowing.) But you, oh; madam, how shall I
You have, indeed, performed a woman's part,
A gentle deed; yet at expense of more
Than woman's fitting means. I am not schooled
In courtly phrases, yet may I undertake
To thank you heartily, not on our part
Alone, but in our good King George's name,
For act so kind achieved. Knew he your care
For his brave men—I speak for those around—
Of whom some fought for him at Copenhagen,
He would convey his thanks, and the Queen's, too—
Who loves all nobleness—in better terms
Than I, his humble servant. Affliction
Leaves him in our hands to do him justice;
And justice 'tis, alike to him and you,
To thank you in his name, and in the Regent's.
The Soldiers. Hurray! hurray! hurray!
[They toss up their caps.
Mrs. Secord. Sir, you make quite too much of my poor
I have but done my duty; and I beg
Let me not interrupt your movements now:
I would not be an obstacle across
The path I made.
Fitzgibbon. You add an obligation, madam.
[At a signal the men from the next room file in.
(To the men.) We've hot work coming, boys. Our good
Has walked from Queenston, through the woods, this day,
To warn me that a sortie from Fort George
Is sent to take this post, and starts e'en now.
You, Cummings, mount—you know the way—and ride
With all your might, to tell De Haren this;
He lies at Twelve-Mile Creek with larger force
Than mine, and will move up to my support:
He'll see my handful cannot keep at bay
Five hundred men, or fight in open field.
But what strength can't accomplish cunning must—
I'll have to circumvent them.
(To Mishe-mo-qua.) And you, chief,
What will you do? You've stood by me so long,
So faithfully, I count upon you now.
Mishe-mo-qua. White chief say true: we good King George's
My warriors yell! hide! shoot! hot bullet fly
Like dart of Annee-meekee.
We keep dam Long-Knife back. I go just now.
Fitzgibbon (handing the chief a twist of tobacco, which he puts into his girdle with a grunt of satisfaction). A Mohawk is my friend, and you are one.
[FITZGIBBON shakes hands with the Chief, who retires well pleased.
(To Mrs. Secord.) Madam, how may I serve you to
Your safety? Refreshment comes; but here
Is no protection in our present strait.
Mrs. Secord. I thank you, sir, but will not tax you
Than some refreshment. I have friends beyond
A mile or two, with whom I'll stay to-night.
Fitzgibbon. I'll spare an escort; Mr. Jarvis here will—
[MRS. SECORD faints.
(The men run out and bring water, Fitzgibbon gets brandy from a buffet, and Mr. Jarvis unloosens her bonnet and collar. They bathe her hands with the spirit and sprinkle her face with the water, and at last MRS. SECORD sighs heavily.)
Fitzgibbon. She's coming to. Back, men; give her more air.
(MR. JARVIS and another Cadet support MRS. SECORD, while LIEUT. FITZGIBBON offers her coffee, into which he has poured a little brandy, feeding her with the spoon.)
An 8th man (aside). She'll never walk to reach her friends to-night.
A 49th man (to a comrade). Jack, thou an' me can do't.
'Tyent the fust time
We've swung a faintin' comrade 'twixt us two;
An' her's just like a babby. Fatch a pole
An' blanket, an' we'll carry her.
A Sergeant. You'll then be in the rear, for we're to move.
Second 49th man. We'll catch ye oop a foight'n'; its
To await o' sech as she.
Fitzgibbon (to Mrs. Secord). Are you better now?
Mrs. Secord (trying to stand). I think I am. Oh, sir, I'm
The time I tried to save! Pray leave me—
I shall be better soon, and I can find my way.
Fitzgibbon. Nay, be not anxious; we are quite
Sheathed though our claws may be, they're always sharp.
Pray drink again, nor fear the potent touch
That snatches back the life when the spent heart,
Oppressed by cruel tasks, as yours, can scarcely beat.
[MRS. SECORD drinks the coffee, and again rises, but can scarcely stand.
49th man (saluting). Sir, me an' Bill has here a hammock
An' volunteers to see the lady safe.
Among her friends.
Mrs. Secord. But I can walk.
Fitzgibbon. Madam, you cannot. Let these carry you;
An honour I do grudge them. I shall move
With better heart knowing you cared for.
Mrs. Secord. I'll go at once—
Fitzgibbon. Men, bring your hammock hither.
(The hammock is brought, and MRS. SECORD is assisted into it by LIEUT. FITZGIBBON, who wraps a blanket round her. The men fall into line, and salute as she passes. At the door she offers her hand to FITZGIBBON.)
Mrs. Secord. Farewell, sir. My best thanks for all your
Your hospitality, and this, your escort;
You do me too much honour.
Fitzgibbon. Should we not
Show our respect for one has done so much
For us? We are your debtors, madam.
[He points to the sky, set thick with brilliant stars, the moon having already set.
Mrs. Secord. And you to victory, sir. Farewell.
[Exeunt MRS. SECORD and her escort.
Fitzgibbon (to the men who have crowded round the door, and
are awaiting orders). Men, never forget this woman's noble
Armed, and in company, inspirited
By crash of martial music, soldiers march
To duty; but she, alone, defenceless,
With no support but kind humanity
And burning patriotism, ran all our risks
Of hurt, and bloody death, to serve us men,
Strangers to her save by quick war-time ties.
Therefore, in grateful memory and kind return,
Ever treat women well.
Men. Aye, aye, sir.
Fitzgibbon. Now, then, for action. I need not say,
Men, do your duty. The hearts that sprung
To follow Nelson; Brock; have never failed.
I'm proud, my men, to be your leader now.
Fitzgibbon. They must be pretty near by this time,
If they are come at all.
(Two American soldiers of the advanced guard rush out of the tavern and present their rifles. FITZGIBBON springs on them, and, seizing each man's weapon, crosses them in front of himself.)Not yet, my friends.
[They struggle, and one of the Americans draws FITZGIBBON'S sword and is about to plunge it in his shoulder.
Woman. Ye Yankee rogue! ye coward!
[She snatches the sword, and runs into the tavern with it.
Fitzgibbon. Take that! and that!
[He trips up one man, and knocks the other down, putting his foot on the man's breast.
[They give up their arms.
[They are marched into the tavern. Shots are heard.
Fitsgibbon. They're come! Quick—march, my lads.
Fitzgibbon. The Mohawks have done well; and I am glad
To have your help, sir, too. What is your strength?
Clarke. But twenty, sir, all told.
Fitzgibbon. And I but thirty. Too few to fight such
In open field. But Boerstler's lost his head:
Deluded by our calls, your fierce attack,
And Indian fighting—which to them has ghosts
Of their own raising—scalps, treachery, what not.
There is our chance: I mean to summon him
To a surrender.
Clarke (in great surprise). Sir!
Fitzgibbon. 'Tis a bold stroke, I grant, and if it
Why then I'll fight it out. Keep up the scare
Some moments longer, and we'll see.
Clarke. Good luck betide so brave a word;
I'll do my best.
[Exit COL. CLARKE.
(FITZGIBBON sends forward a flag of truce; the bugles sound "Cease firing;" an officer advances from the American lines and FITZGIBBON goes forward to meet him.)
Fitzgibbon. Sir, with my compliments to your
I am the leader of this large detachment,
Backed closely up by reinforcements
Larger still. Indians, our good allies,
Swarm in the woods around; and in your rear
A strong militia force awaits my orders:
Therefore, sir, to save a useless loss
Of brave men's lives, I offer you fair terms
Of full surrender.
American officer. I will report, sir,
To Colonel Boerstler.
Fitzgibbon (aside). And I will pray.
For after all in God's hand lies the day:
I've done the best I know.
American officer. Sir, with respect, our colonel bids me
That, seeing fate and fortune both unite
To mar success, he'll rather save his men
By fair surrender, than waste their lives
In useless struggle. He commissions me
To act in drawing up the terms.
I am McDowell, captain of a troop.
Fitzgibbon (bowing). Your humble servant, sir. We'll try
Your colonel; rejoicing we have met a foe
Who knows the bravery of discretion.
(The British officers consult, and then invite CAPT. MCDOWELLto join them. A drum is brought, Major De Haren produces writing materials; and terms of capitulation are drawn up, which are read to CAPT. MCDOWELL.)
Fitzgibbon. Our terms we make as light as possible:
I hope you'll find them so, sir.
Capt. McDowell (after reading). Terms generous and
I thank you. A noble foe is always half a friend.
I'll carry them to Colonel Boerstler,
With your consent.
[Exit CAPT. MCDOWELL.
Major De Haren. Why, what is this, Fitzgibbon, that I
That with your little handful you have caught
Five hundred enemy? A very elephant!
Fitzgibbon. A strait like mine required some strategy.
De Haren. My dear, brave fellow, you have surely won
The golden epaulettes! How glad I am
I was not here before. Such tact! such skill!
You are a soldier born. But who comes hither?
Fitzgibbon. These are the officers to sign our terms.
[The officers on both sides salute.
Boerstler (to Fitzgibbon). I thank you, sir, for
For vain it was to cope with force like yours.
But ne'er I thought to put my hand to such
[He takes up the pen.
Fitzgibbon. Fortune of war, sir, that we all may meet.
[Each officer signs the document in his order; MISHE-MO-QUA draws his totem—a bear—as his signature.
De Haren (to Col. Boerstler). Will you proceed on the third article?
Boerstler (to Capt. McDowell). Give you the order.
[Exit CAPT. MCDOWELL.
Fitzgibbon (to his men, who are drawn up across the road— De Haren's command forming their right and left wings). Forward—ten paces.
[Enter by companies the American force, who lay down their arms in front of the British officers and defile to the rear.
De Haren (to Fitzgibbon). A glorious day for you,
For this fair Canada, and British arms.
Fitzgibbon. Yes, thanks to a brave woman's glorious deed.
|Now hush the martial trumpet's blare,|
And tune the softer lyre;
Nor shrink lest gentler tones should lack
The high, heroic fire:
For many a valiant deed is done,
And great achievement wrought,
Whose inspiration knows no source
Save pure and holy thought.
Nor think some lofty pedestal,
Proud-lifted towards the skies,
The only plane where Worth can wrest
From Fame her highest prize:
For many a nameless nook and lone,
And many a tongueless hour,
Sees deeds performed whose glories shame
The pride of pomp and power.
Nor dream that to a noble deed
It needs a noble name;
Or that to mighty act achieved
Must link a stalwart frame:
For strung by Duty's steady hand,
And thrilled by Love's warm touch,
Slight forms and simple names may serve
At need, to avail for much.
Then lay the blaring trumpet by,
And tune the softer lyre
To songs of Woman's chivalry,
Of Woman's patriot fire.
O heard ye not of Queenston Heights,—
Of Brock who fighting fell,—
And of the Forty-ninth and York,
Who 'venged their hero well?—
And of the gallant stand they made—
What prowess kept at bay
The swelling foe, till Sheaffe appeared,
And won the glorious day!
Yet heard ye how—ban of success—
Till all our green peninsula
And border-land, were schooled
To bear, nathless all frowningly,
The yoke of alien power,
And wait in patience, as they might,
The dawn of happier hour.
Till Forty-mile, and Stony Creek,
Revived our waning hopes,
And round Fort-George a limit held
The Yankees as with ropes.
Yet, as do cordons oft enclose
The unwilling with the fain,
Our people, by forced parole held,
Could naught but own the rein.
Then heard ye how a little post.
Some twenty miles away,
A check upon proud Dearborn's hopes,
Was fixed upon for prey?
And how lest Britain's bull-dog pluck,
Roused by their isolation,
Should make these few, brave, lonely men,
Fight as in desperation,
And prove a match for thrice their odds,
They made them three times three,
And thrice of that, with guns to boot,
To insure a victory?
Then they would take the Night along
—No mean ally with odds,
As Stony Creek can testify:
But then she marched with gods!—
Yet blame ye not the silent Night
That she was forced to go,
For oft have captives been compelled
To serve the hated foe:
And oft with grave and quiet mien,
And Samson-like intent,
Have brought about such ends, as by
Their lords were never meant.
Then blame ye not the dark-eyed Night,
Of grave and silent mien;
Her whisper 'twas that foiled the foe,
And fired our patriot queen.
"And why, my husband, why so pale?"
'Twas Laura Secord spoke;
And when she heard his plaintive tale,
Then all the patriot woke.
"Thou knowest how Fitzgibbon holds
The post at Beaver Dams,
And Dearborn frets, and fumes, and chafes,
And calls us British shams:
"Because we will not, willing, give,
To feed an alien foe,
The substance, all too poor and sparse,
Our stinted fields may grow.
"So when the Night puts on her robes
Of sad and sable hue,
A host he sends, of shameful strength,
To oust that noble few.
"And who shall warn Fitzgibbon? Who?
My weakness is my bale;
At such an hour of pressing need,
O that my aid should fail!
"And yet, my country, if my blood,
Drawn from me drop by drop,
Could save thee in this awful strait,
'Twere thine,'twere thine, to stop
"This massacre, this horrid crime,
To baulk this wicked plot!
My parole given!—by Heaven I could—
I Would—regard it not.
"But here am I, a cripple weak;
Great Heaven! and must they fall
Because I, wretched I alone,
Know what will sure befall!"
"Calm thee, my husband, calm thee now.
Heaven ne'er points out a deed,
But to the creature by whose means
Its action is decreed:
"Thou, had'st thou not been sick and lame,
Would'st ne'er have learned this plot,
And had'st thou strength thou could'st not pass
The lines, and not be shot.
"Wherefore,'tis plain, 'tis not to thee
The careful task is given;
'Tis rather me; and I will go,
Safe in the care of Heaven."
"Thou go, dear wife! a woman soft,
And not too brave to shake
At sight of wolf or catamount,
Or many-rattled snake:
"Thou go!" "Nay, smile not, I will go;
Fitzgibbon shall not fall
Unwarned at least; and Heaven will guard
Scarce had Aurora backward drawn
The curtains of the night,
Scarce had her choristers awaked
The echoes with delight;
When Laura Secord left her home,
With holy message fraught,
And lone Fitzgibbon's distant post
With hasty footsteps sought.
She chides the harsh-tongued sentinel
Whose musket stops her way,
And hies her from his curious sight
In such sort as she may.
A second bars her forward path,
Nor will he be content;
And all her woman's wit she needs
Before his doubts are spent.
Beyond, a third the challenge gives;—
She almost gasps for breath—
"Oh, at the Mill my brother lies
Just at the point of death."
But he nor cares for death nor life:
Yet when she kneels and weeps,
He yields: for—in his rugged heart
A tender memory sleeps.
With beating heart and trembling limb,
Swift hastes she; yet in ruth
That even for her country's sake,
She needs must veil the truth.
And when a rise of ground permits
A last, fond, lingering look,
She, tearful, views her home once more—
A lowly, leafy nook.
For there her sleeping children lie
Unconscious of her woe;
Her choking sobs may not be stayed,
For oh, she loves them so!
And there she leaves her maiden choice,
Her husband, lover, friend.
Oh, were she woman could she less
To homely sorrows lend!
On altar of the public weal
Must private griefs expire,—
Her tender grief exhaled to Heaven
On wings of patriot fire.
The dew still glistened on the grass,
The morning breezes swung
The honeysuckle and the rose,
Above, whose sweetness hung.
The fritil' butterfly, the bee,
Whose early labours cheer,
And point the happy industry
That marks the opening year.
The cheerful robin's sturdy note,
The gay canary's trill,
Blent with the low of new-milked kine
That sauntered by the rill:
When Laura Secord stood beside
The doomed St. David's door,
Whose portals never closed upon
The weary or the poor.
"O sister," cries the widowed dame,
"What trouble brings you here?
Doth Jamie ail? Hath aught arisen
To mar your fettered cheer?"
"Nor aileth any at the farm,
Nor is our cheer less free,
But I must haste to Beaver Dam,
Fitzgibbon there to see.
"For many a foe this coming night,
To take him by surprise,
Is detailed, and he must be warned
Before the moon doth rise."
O pallid grew the gentle dame,
And tremulous her tone,
As Laura Secord, at the board,
Made all her errand known.
And oft her pallor turned to red,
By indignation fired;
And oft her red to pallor turned,
For Laura's sake retired.
And many a cogent argument
She used, of duteous wives;
And many more that mothers thus
Should never risk their lives.
And of the dangers of the way
She told a trembling tale;
But to divert a settled mind
Nor words nor woes avail.
And many a tear she let down fall,
And some dropt Laura too,—
But "'Tis my country!" yet she cried,
"My country may not rue."
A tender leave she gently takes
Of him all wounded laid
Upon his weary couch of pain,
But hides her errand sad.
And then, while yet the day was young,
The sun scarce quarter high,
She plunges 'mid the sheltering bush,
In fear of hue and cry,—
Of hue and cry of cruel foes
Who yet might learn her route,
And mad with rage of baffled aim,
Should spring in hot pursuit.
On, on she speeds through bush and brake,
O'er log and stone and briar;
On, on, for many a lengthening mile
Might stouter footsteps tire.
The hot sun mounts the upper skies,
Faint grows the fervid air,
And wearied nature asks for rest
Mid scenes so soft and fair.
The sward all decked with rainbow hues,
The whispering of the trees,
Nor perfumed airs of flowery June,
Can win her to her ease.
Ah, serpent in our Paradise!
In choicest cup our gall!
'Twas thou, distraught Anxiety,
Wrapped Beauty's self in pall;
And for that lonely traveller
Empoisoned those sweet springs,
To souls that languish, founts of life
Bestirred by angel wings.
Thou gavest each breeze an infant's cry,
A wailing, woesome tone;
And in each call of wildwood bird
Spoke still of freedom gone.
Nay now, why starts she in her path,
By yonder tangled brake?
'Tis at the dreaded menace sprung
By angry rattlesnake.
But know that fear is not the brand
That marks the coward slave;
'Tis conquered fear, and duty done,
That tells the truly brave.
With stick, and stone, and weapon mean
She drives the wretch away,
And then, with fluttering heart, pursues
Her solitary way.
And oft she trips, and oft she falls,
And oft her gown is torn,
And oft her tender skin is pierced
By many a clutching thorn.
And weariness her courage tries;
And dread of devious way;
And oft she hears the wild-cat shriek
A requiem o'er its prey.
And when the oppressive summer air
Hangs heavy in the woods,—
Though many a bank of flowerets fair
Invites to restful moods;
And though the ruby humming-bird
Drones with the humming bee;
And every gnat and butterfly
Soars slow and fitfully;
No rest that anxious messenger
Of baleful tidings takes,
But all the waning afternoon
Her morning speed she makes.
Over the hills, and 'mongst the brier,
And through the oozy swamp,
Her weary steps must never tire
Ere burns the firefly's lamp.
Oh, wherefore drops she on her knees,
And spreads imploring hands?
Why blanches that courageous brow?
Alas! the wolves' dread bands!
"Nay, not this death, dear Father! Not
A mangled prey to these!"
She faintly cries to Heaven, from out
The darkening waste of trees.
Fear not, O patriot, courage take,
Thy Father holds thy hand,
Nor lets the powers of ill prevail
Where He doth take command.
Away the prowling ghouls are fled,
Some fitter prey to seek;
The trembling woman sighs the thanks
Her white lips cannot speak.
Now wherefore halts that sentry bold,
And lays his piece in rest,
As from the shadowy depths below
One gains the beechen crest?
'Tis but a woman, pale and faint,—
As woman oft may prove,
Whose eagle spirit soars beyond
The home-flight of the dove.
How changes now the sentry's mien,
How soft his tones and low,
As Laura Secord tells her tale
Of an impendent foe!
"God bless thee, now, thou woman bold,
And give thee great reward."
The soldier says, with eyes suffused,
And keeps a jealous guard,
As onward, onward still she goes,
With steady step and true,
Towards her goal, yet far away,
Hid in the horizon blue.
Behind her grows the golden moon,
Before her fall the shades,
And somewhere near her hides the bird
Whose death-call haunts the glades.
The early dew blooms all the sod,
The fences undulate
In the weird light, like living lines
That swell with boding hate.
For she has left the tangled woods,
And keeps the open plain
Where once a fruitful farm-land bloomed,
And yet shall bloom again.
And now, as nears the dreaded hour.
Her goal the nearer grows,
And hope, the stimulus of life,
Her weary bosom glows.
Toward's lone Decamp's—whose ancient home
Affords Fitzgibbon's band
Such shelter as the soldier asks
Whose life hangs on his brand—
A steady mile or so, and then—
Ah, what is't rends the air
With horrent, blood-encurdling tones.
The tocsin of despair!
It is the war-whoop of the braves,
Of Kerr's famed Mohawk crew,
Who near Fitzgibbon ambushed lie
To serve that lonely few.
Startled, yet fearless, on she speeds.
"Your chief denote," she cries;
And, proudly towering o'er the crowd,
The chief does swift arise.
Fierce rage is in his savage eye,
His tomahawk in air;
"Woman! what woman want?" he cries,
"Her death does woman dare!"
But quickly springs she to his side,
And firmly holds his arm,
"Oh, chief, indeed no, spy am I,
But friend to spare you harm."
And soon she makes her errand known,
And soon, all side by side,
The red man and his sister brave
In silence quickly glide.
And as the moon surmounts the trees,
They gain the sentried door,
And faintly to Fitzgibbon she
Unfolds her tale once more.
Then, all her errand done, she seeks
A lowly dwelling near,
And sinks, a worn-out trembling thing,
Too faint to shed a tear.
Now let the Lord of Hosts be praised!
Cheer brave Fitzgibbon's band,
Whose bold discretion won the day,
And saved our threatened land!
And cheer that weary traveller,
On lowly couch that lies,
And scarce can break the heavy spell.
That holds her waking eyes.
No chaplet wreathes her aching brows.
No paeans rend the air;
But in her breast a jewel glows
The tried and true may wear.
And Time shall twine her wreath of bays
Immortal as her fame,
And many a generation joy,
In Laura Secord's name.
"Fitzgibbon and the Forty-ninth!"
Whene'er ye drink that toast
To brave deeds done a grateful land,
Praise Laura Secord most.
As one who from the charged mine
Coils back the lighted fuse,
'T was hers, at many a fearful risk,
To carry fateful news;
And save the dreadnought band; and give
To Beaver Dam a name,
The pride of true Canadian hearts,
Of others, but the shame.
Now wherefore trembles still the string
By lyric fingers crossed,
To Laura Secord's praise and fame,
When forty years are lost?
Nay, five and forty, one by one,
Have borne her from the day
When, fired by patriotic zeal,
She trod her lonely way:
Her hair is white, her step is slow,
Why kindles then her eye,
And rings her voice with music sweet
Of many a year gone by?
O know ye not proud Canada,
With joyful heart, enfolds
In fond embrace, the royal boy
Whose line her fealty holds?
For him she spreads her choicest cheer,
And tells her happiest tale,
And leads him to her loveliest haunts,
That naught to please may fail.
And great art thou, O Chippewa,
Though small in neighbours' eyes,
When out Niagara's haze thou seest
A cavalcade arise;
And, in its midst, the royal boy,
Who, smiling, comes to see
An ancient dame whose ancient fame
Shines in our history.
He takes the thin and faded hand,
He seats him at her side,
Of all that gay and noble band,
That moment well the pride:
To him the aged Secord tells,
With many a fervid glow,
How, by her means, Fitzgibbon struck
His great historic blow.
Nor deem it ye, as many do,
A weak and idle thing
That, at that moment Laura loved
The praises of a king;
And dwelt on his approving smile,
And kissed his royal hand,
Who represented, and should wield,
The sceptre of our land;
For where should greatness fire her torch,
If not at greatness' shrine?
And whence should approbation come
Did not the gods incline?
And when, from o'er the parting seas,
A royal letter came,
And brought a gift to recognize
Brave Laura Secord's fame.
What wonder that her kindling eye
Should fade, suffused in tears?
What wonder that her heart should glow,
Oblivious of the years?
And honour ye the kindly grace
Of him who still hath been
In all things kindly, and the praise
Of our beloved Queen.
| A Jubilee! A Jubilee!|
Waft the glad shout across the laughing sea!
A Jubilee! A Jubilee! O bells
Ring out our gladness on your merry peals!
O thou, the root and flower of this our joy,
Well may thy praise our grateful hearts employ!
Fair as the moon and glorious as the sun,
Thy fame to many a future age shall run.
"I WILL BE GOOD." 'Twas thus thy judgment spake,
When, greatness would allure for greatness' sake.
Thou hast been good: herein thy strength hath lain;
And not thine only, it hath been our gain:
Nor ours alone, for every people's voice,
Because thou hast been good, doth now rejoice.
Beneath the shelter of that fruitful vine—
Thy goodness—hath pure Virtue reared her shrine.
Freedom hath lift her flag, and flung it free,
Rejoicing in a god-like liberty.
Truth hath her gracious lineaments revealed
To humble souls, beneath Victoria's shield.
Mercy, whose message bore thy first command,
Hath carried festival to every land.
Justice hath worn his robes unsmirched of gold;
Nor longer strikes in vengeance, as of old.
Kind Pity, wheresoe'er the tried might be,
Widow, and babe, hath borne a balm from thee.
Valour hath drawn his sword with surer aim:
And Peace hath signed her treaties in thy name.
Honour hath worn his plumes with nobler grace:
And Piety pursued her readier race.
Learning hath pressed where ne'er she walked before:
And Science touched on realms undreamt of yore.
Commerce hath spread wide wings o'er land and sea,
And spoken nations glorious yet to be.
Before the light of Temperance' purer grace.
Excess hath veiled his spoiled and purpled face.
And never since the peopled world began
Saw it so strong the brotherhood of man.
Great glory thus hath gathered round thy name,—
VICTORIA. QUEEN. Goodness hath been thy fame,
And greatness shall be, for the twain are one:
As thy clear eye discerned ere rule begun.
O Queen, receive anew our homage free:
Our love and praise on this thy Jubilee.
| O the roaring and the thunder!|
O the terror and the wonder!
O the surging and the seething of the flood!
O the tumbling and the rushing—
O the grinding and the crushing—
O the plunging and the rearing of the ice!
When the great St. Lawrence River,
With a mighty swell and shiver,
Bursts amain the wintry bonds that hold him fast.
'Twas on an April morning—
And the air was full of warning
Of the havoc and the crash that was to be.—
A deed was done, whose glory
Flames from out the simple story,
Like the living gleam of diamond in the mine.
'Twas where St. Mary's Ferry
In sweet summer makes so merry,
'Twixt St. Helen's fortressed isle and Montreal,
There, on an April morning,—
As if in haughty scorning
Of the tale soft Zephyr told in passing by—
Firm and hard, like road of Roman,
Under team of sturdy yeoman,
Or the guns, the ice lay smooth, and bright, and cold.
And watching its resistance
To the forces in the distance
That nearer and yet nearer ever rolled,
Warning off who tempt the crossing,
All too soon so wildly tossing,
Stood a party of Old England's Twenty-Fourth.
While as yet they gazed in wonder,
Sudden boomed the awful thunder
That proclaimed the mighty conqueror at hand.
O then the fierce uplifting!
The trembling, and the rifting!
The tearing, and the grinding, and the throes!
The chaos and careering,
The toppling and the rearing,
The crashing and the dashing of the floes!
At such an awful minute
A glance,—the horror in it!—
Showed a little maiden midway twixt the shores,
With hands a-clasp and crying.
And, amid the masses, trying,—
Vainly trying—to escape on either hand.
O child so rashly daring!
Who thy dreadful peril sharing
Shall, to save thee, tempt the terrors of the flood
That roaring, leaping, swirling,
And continuously whirling,
Threats to whelm in frightful deeps thy tender form!
The helpless soldiers, standing
On a small precarious landing,
Think of nothing but the child and her despair,
When a voice as from the Highest,—
To the child he being nighest—
Falls "Quick-march!" upon the ear of Sergeant Neill.
O blessed sense of duty!
As on banderole of duty
His unswerving eye he fixes on the child;
And straight o'er floe and fissure,
Fragments yielding to his pressure,
Toppling berg, and giddy block, he takes his way;
Sometimes climbing, sometimes crawling.
Sometimes leaping, sometimes falling,
Till at last he stands where cowers the weeping child.
Then with all a victor's bearing.
As in warlike honours sharing,
With the child all closely clasped upon his breast,
O'er floe and hummock taking
Any step for safety making,
On he goes, till they who watch can see no more.
For both glass and light are failing.
As the ice-pack, slowly sailing,
Bears him onward past the shore of far Longueil.
"Lost!" his comrades cry, and turning.
Eyes cast down, and bosoms burning,
Gain the shelter of their quiet barrack home;
Where, all night, the tortured father
Clasps the agonizing mother.
In the mute embrace of hopelessness and dread.
O the rapid alternations
When the loud reverberations
Of the evening gun boom forth the hour of rest!
The suffering and the sorrow!
The praying for the morrow!
The fears, the hopes, that tear the parents breasts!
And many a word is spoken
At the mess, so sadly broken,
Of the men who mourn their comrade brave and true
And many a tear-drop glistens,
Where a watching mother listens
To the tumult of the ice along the shore.
And ever creeping nearer,
Children hold each other dearer,
In the gaps of slumber broken by its roar.
Twice broke the rosy dawning
Of a sunny April morning,
And Hope had drooped her failing wings, to die;
When o'er the swelling river,
Like an arrow from a quiver,
Came the news of rescue, safety, glad return;
And the mother, as from Heaven,
Clasped her treasure, newly-given;
And the father wrung the hand of Sergeant Neill:
Who shrunk from their caressing,
Nor looked for praise or blessing,
But straight returned to duty and his post.
And this the grateful story,
To others' praise and glory,
That the Sergeant told his comrades round the fire.
"Far down the swelling river,
To the ocean flowing ever,
With its teeming life of porpoise, fish, and seal,
There hardy, brave, and daring,
Dwells the habitant; nor caring
Save to make his frugal living by his skill.
Nor heeds he of the weather,
For scale, and fur, and feather,
Lay their tribute in his hand the year around.
On the sunny April morning,
That the ice had given warning
Of the havoc and the crash that was to be,
Stood Pierre, Louis, gazing,
Their prayers to Mary raising,
For a season full of bounty from the sea.
And when the light was failing,
And the ice-pack, slowly-sailing,
Crashing, tumbling, roaring, thundering, passed them by,
Their quick eye saw with wonder,
On the masses torn asunder,
An unfortunate who drifted to his doom.
"O then the exclamations!
The rapid preparations!
The launching of canoes upon the wave!
The signalling and shouting!—
Death and disaster flouting—
The anxious haste, the strife, a human life to save
Across the boiling surges,
Each man his light bark urges,
Though death is in the error of a stroke;
And paddling, poising, drifting,
O'er the floes the light shell lifting,
The gallant fellows reach the whirling pack:
And from the frightful danger,
They save the worn-out stranger.
And oh, to see the nursling in his arms!
And oh, the pious caring,
The sweet and tender faring,
From the gentle hands of Marie and Louise!
And the pretty, smiling faces,
As the travellers take their places
To return again to those who weep their loss.
And the Sergeant's story ending,
His head in rev'rence bending,
He cried "God bless for ever all noble souls like these!"
But cheer on cheer resounded,
Till the officers, astounded
At their mess, upon their sword-hilts clapped their hands.
And the plaudits rose still higher,
When they joined with martial fire,
In the cry "God bless the Twenty-Fourth, and its gallant Sergeant Neill!"
|Forget not, Canada, the men who gave,|
In fierce and bloody fray, their lives for thine.
Pause thou, Ontario, in thy forward march,
And give a tear to those who, long ago,
On this day fell upon those Heights where now
Their ashes rest beneath memorial pile.
And while those names, BROCK and MACDONELL, wake
A throb of emulative gratitude
And patriotic fervour in thy breast,
Forget not those—"the boys," the nameless ones,—
Who also fought and fell on that October day;
Nameless their ashes, but their memories dear!
Those grandsires at thy hearths who linger still;
Whose youthful arms then helped to guard thy peace,
Thy peace their own. And ere they go to join
Their ancient comrades of the hard-won fight,
Glad their brave hearts with one applauding cheer
In memory of the day. Comfort their age
With plenty. Let them find that sturdy youth,
Whose heritage they saved, bows rev'rent head,
And lends a strong right arm to ancient men,
Whose deeds of patriot prowess deck the silk
That waves so proudly from the nation's towers.
"The Loyalists having sacrificed their property to their politics, were generally poor, and had to work hard and suffer many privations before they could reap crops to support their families. In those early days there were no merchants, no bakeries, no butchers' shop's, no medical men to relieve the fevered brain or soothe a mother's aching heart, no public house, no minister to console the dying or bury the dead, no means of instruction for the young; all was bush, hard labour and pinching privation for the present, and long toil for the rising generations."
REV. G. A. ANDERSON,
Protestant Chaplain to the Reformatory, Penetanguishene.
|O Ye, who with your blood and sweat|
Watered the furrows of this land,—
See where upon a nation's brow
In honour's front, ye proudly stand!
Who for her pride abased your own,
And gladly on her altar laid
All bounty of the older world,
All memories that your glory made.
And to her service bowed your strength,
Took labour for your shield and crest;
See where upon a nation's brow
Her diadem, ye proudly test!
stood on Queenston Heights;|
And as I gazed from tomb to cenotaph,
From cenotaph to tomb, adown and up,
My heart grew full, much moved with many thoughts.
At length I cried:
"O robed with honour and with glory crowned,
Tell me again the story of yon pile."
And straight the ancient, shuddering cedars wept,
The solemn junipers indued their pall,
The moaning wind crept through the trembling oaks
And, shrieking, fled. Strange clamour filled the air;
The steepy hill shook with the rush of arms;
Around me rolled the tide of sudden war.
The booming guns pealed forth their dreadful knell;
Musketry rattled; shouts, cries, groans, were heard;
Men met as foes, and deadly strife ensued.
From side to side the surging combat rolled,
And as it rolled, passed from my ken.
A silence! On the hill an alien flag
Flies flaunting in the wind, mocking the gun.
Dark forms pour o'er the heights, and Britain's day
But hark! a ringing cheer peals up the height
Once more the battle's tide bursts on my view.
Brock to the rescue! Down goes the alien flag!
Back, back the dark battalions fall. On, on
The "Tigers" come. Down pours the rattling shot
From out the verdant grove, like sheets of hail.
Up, up they press, York volunteers and all.
Aha! the day is ours! See, where the hero comes
In conquering might, quick driving all before him!
O brave ensample! O beloved chief!
Who follows thee keeps ever pace with honour.
Shout Victory! Proud victory is ours!
Ours, noble Brock!
Ours? DEATH'S! Death wins; THE DAY IS HIS.
Ah! shudder still ye darkling cedars,
Chant yet your doleful monotone, ye winds;
Indue again your grey funereal pall,
Ye solemn junipers; for here he fell,
And here he lies,—dust; ashes; nothing.
Such tale the hill-side told me, and I wept.
Nay! I wept not! The hot, indignant thoughts
That filled my breast burned up the welling tears
Ere they had chance to flow, and forward Hate
Spake rashly. But calm Reflection
Laid her cool hand upon my throbbing brow
And whispered, "As up the misty stream
The Norseman crept to-day, and signals white
Waved kind salutes from yon opposing shore;
And as ye peered the dusky vista through,
To catch first glimpse of yonder glorious plinth,
Yet saw it not till I your glance directed,—
So high it towered above the common plane;—
So, towering over Time, shall Brock e'er stand.—
So, from those banks, shall white-robed Peace e'er smile.
October 12, 1881.
"The crowd flowed in from every direction and filled the street in a compact mass both above and below the square. They were silent, but angry and threatening. An open way was left in front of the hall, and their force being stationed, Captain Bell and Lieutenant Kantz passed across the street, mounted the hall steps and entered the Mayor's parlour. Approaching the Mayor, Captain Bell said: "I have come in obedience to orders to haul down the State flag from this building." ... As soon as the two officers left the room Mr. Monroe also went out. Descending the front steps he walked out into the street, and placed himself immediately in front of the howitzer pointing down St. Charles Street. There, folding his arms, he fixed his eyes upon the gunner who stood, lanyard in hand, ready for action. Here he remained without once looking up or moving, until the flag had been hauled down by Lieutenant Kantz, and he and Captain Bell reappeared.... As they passed out through the Camp Street gate, Mr. Monroe turned towards the hall, and the people, who had hitherto preserved the silence he had asked from them, broke into cheers for their Mayor."
MARION A. BAKER, in July (1886) Century.
|A noble man! a man deserving trust.|
A man in whom the higher elements
Worked freely. A man of dignity;
On whom the robes and badge of state sat well
Because the majesty of self-control,
And all its grace, were his.
I see him now—
Pale with the pallor of a full, proud heart—
Descend those steps and take his imminent place
Before the deadly piece, as who should say
"'Ware ye! these people are my people; such
Their inward heat and mine at this poor deed
That scarce we can control our kindled blood.
But should ye mow them down, ye mow me too.
O men for whose dear sake he stood
An offering and a hostage; on that scroll
Old Chronos doth unfold along the years
Are writ in gold names of undaunted Mayors,
Pepin and Charlemagne, and Whittington
And White. Did not your fathers know them?
And shall not he, your Mayor of 'Sixty-two,
Monroe, stand side by side with them?
No work, no home, no wealth have I,
But Mary loves me true,
And, for her sake, upon my knees
I'd beg the wide world through:
For her sweet eyes look into mine
With fondness soft and deep;
My heart's entranced, and I could die
Were death a conscious sleep.
But life is work, and work is life,
And life's the way to heaven,
And hand-in-hand we'd like to go
The road that God has given.
And England, dear old Motherland,
Has plenty mouths to feed
Without her sons and daughters fair,
Whose strength is as their need.
To Canada! To Canada!
To that fair land I'll roam,
And till the soil with heart of grace,
For Mary and a home.
Hurrah for love! Hurrah for hope!
Hurrah for industry!
Hurrah for bonnie Canada,
And her bonnie maple tree!
|And art thou come again, sweet Indian maid!|
How beautiful thou art where thou dost stand,
With step arrested, on the bridge that joins
The Past and Future—thy one hand waving
Farewell to Summer, whose fond kiss hath set
Thy yellow cheeks aglow, the other stretched
To greet advancing Winter!
Nor can thy veil, tissue diaphanous
Of crimsoned haze, conceal thy lustrous eyes;—
Those eyes in whose dark depths a tear-drop lurks
Ready to fall, for Beauty loved and lost.
From thy point gazing, maiden, let us, too,
Once more behold the panorama fair
Of the lost year. See where, far down yon slope
That meets the sun, doth quick advance gay Spring,
His dainty fingers filled with swelling buds:
O'er his wreathed head, among the enlacing trees,
The merry birds flit in and out, to choose
A happy resting-place; and singing rills
Dwell on his praise. Gladly his laughing eyes
Rest on fair Summer's zone set thick with flowers,
That chide their own profusion as, tiptoe,
And arm outstretched, she reaches to restore
The fallen nestling, venturous and weak:
While many a nursling claims her tender care.
Beneath her smile all Nature doth rejoice,
And breaks into a song that sweeps the plain
Where now the swarthy Autumn, girded close,
Gathers his yellow sheaves and juicy fruit
To overflowing garners; measure full,
And blest to grateful souls. Through the low air
A myriad wings circle in restless sort;
And from the rustling woods there comes a sound
Of dropping nuts and acorns—welcome store
To little chipmunk and to squirrel blithe:
Dependants small on Nature's wide largesse.
How doth the enchanting picture fill our souls
With faith! Sweet Indian maid, we turn with thee
And greet gray Winter with a trustful smile.
|I cannot sleep, and morning's earliest light,|
All soft and rosy, tempts my restlessness
To ask from Nature what of peace she gives.
I gaze abroad, and all my soul is moved
At that strange calm that floats o'er earth at rest.
The silver sickle of the summer moon
Hangs on the purple east. The morning star,
Like a late watcher's lamp, pales in the dawn.
Yonder, the lake, that 'neath the midday sun
All restless glows and burns like burnished shield,
Lies as a child at rest with curtain drawn.
The forest trees are still. The babbling creek
Flows softly through the copse and glides away;
And the fair flowers, that lie as thick and sweet
As posies at a bridal, sleep quietly.
No early breeze his perfumed wings unfolds.
No painted butterfly to pleasure wakes.
The bees, whose busy hum pervades the hours
Through all the sultry day, keep yet the hive.
And, save the swallow, whose long line of works
Beneath each gable, points to labours vast,
No bird yet stirs. Upon the dewy mead
The kine repose; the active horse lies prone;
And the white ewes doze o'er their tender lambs,
Like village mothers with their babes at breast.
So still, so fair, so calm, the morning broods,
That, while I know the gairish day will come,
And bring its clouds of gnat-like stinging cares,
Rest steals into my heart, and gentle peace.
|Sleep now and take thy rest, thou mighty dead!|
Thy work is done—thy grand and glorious work.
Not "Caput Nili" shall thy trophy be.
But broken slave-sticks and a riven chain.
As the man Moses, thy great prototype,
Snatched, by the hand of God, his groaning millions
From out the greedy clutch of Egypt's despot;
So hast thou done for Afric's toiling sons:
Hast snatched its peoples from the poisonous fangs
Of hissing Satan, veiled in commerce foul.
For this thy fame shall ring; for this thy praise
Shall be in every mouth for ever. Ay,
Thy true human heart hath here its guerdon—
A continent redeemed from slavery.—
To this, how small the other! Yet 'twas great.
Ah, not in vain those long delays, those groans
Wrung from thy patient soul by obstacle,
The work of peevish man; these were the checks
From that Hand guiding, that led thee all the way.
He willed thy soul should vex at tyranny;
Thine ear should ring with murdered women's shrieks,
That torturing famine should thy footsteps clog;
That captive's broken hearts should ache thine own.
And Slavery—that villain plausible—
That thief Gehazi!—He stripped before thine eyes
And showed him all a leper, foul, accursed.
He touched thy lips, and every word of thine
Vibrates on chords whose deep electric thrill
Shall never cease till that wide wound be healed.
And then He took thee home. Ay, home, great heart!
Home to His home, where never envious tongue,
Nor vile detraction, nor base ingratitude,
Nor cold neglect, shall sting the quiv'ring heart.
Thou endedst well. One step from earth to Heaven,
When His voice called "Friend, come up higher."
|Yes, go to them, the brave, the tried, the hurt—|
'Tis very fitting so! We cannot go—
Some scores of million souls—to tell them all
We think and feel:
To ease the burden of our laden hearts;
To give the warm grasp of our British hands
In strong assurance of our praise and love;
Of our deep gratitude, to them, our friends,
Our brothers, who for us toiled, suffered, bled:
And left, as we, their dead upon the field,
Their comrades tried and true, around Scutari.
Go to them, then, dear Queen,'tis very fitting so!
Thy hand can clasp for ours. Thy voice express
We send thee as our best, as so we ought;
We send thee as our dearest, as thou art;
We send thee our elect, perfect to fill
The office thou hast chosen for our sakes.
A gentle woman thou, and therefore tender:—
A loving wife, and therefore sympathetic:—
A mother, thou, and therefore patient:—
Is there a son among those wounded men
Has made his mother sad? Thy tear will soften him.
Is there a husband kept from wife and bairns?
Thy smile will comfort him.
Is there a lonely one with none to love?
He'll warm beneath thy glance, his dear Queen's glance;
And—soldiers all—they'll all forget their pains,
And long to fight again, even to fall, for thee.
And if for thee, for us; us, who would clasp
Their thin worn hands in ours, and smile our thanks,
And speak our praise of them, and heal their wounds
With gentlest care, each, for himself, if so
We might thus ease our o'er-full hearts.
Yet happy are we still in this, nay, happier,—
Thou being that our best; our dearest;
Our elect; perfect epitome
Of all we would—that thou dost go to them.
Great Western Hotel, Liverpool, June 9, 1880.
|Sing, little darling, sing,|
And may thy song be everlasting!
Not all the learning wits and sages boast
Can equal the sweet burden of thy song;—
Can yield such rest amid life's noisiest strife;—
Such peace to still the spirit's wildest wars;—
Such hope to stem the most tumultuous wave
May threat to overwhelm.
The love of Jesus,—
Sweet, having this thou risest far above
All this world's clouds, and catchest glimpse of Heaven.
Did He who blest
That infant band that crowded round His knee,
See, in a face like thine, a tender memory
Of that dear home He left for our sakes?
It may be; nay, it must: "Of such," He said,
"My Father's kingdom." And His great heart
Went out in fondest tones: His soft embrace
Encircling such as thou, thrilled out that love
That vibrates yet, and still enfolds so warm
His tender lambs.
Sing, little darling, sing,
And may thy song be everlasting.
|The morning sun shone soft and bright,|
The air was pure and clear,
My steady steps fell quick and light,
Nor knew my soul a fear.
For though the way was long and cold,
The end I knew not where,
Hope's vivid pictures made me bold
To wait, or do, or dare.
But ah, the change when evening gray
Curtained a cloudy sky,
And languid, I retraced the way
My feet could scarce descry!
By rugged care my heart was bruised,
Hope's rainbow tints were gone;
To this world's watch and ward unused,
I could but stumble on.
The rough wind's breath, the dark sky's frown
Fell like the stroke of wrath,
When—from above a star looked down—
A ray beamed on my path.
The light of Home—oh, blessed light—
To weary wanderers dear!
The light of Heaven, oh, glorious light
To souls that stumble here!
What matters now the weary road,
My toil shall soon be o'er;
And, oh, at last, at home with God
Life's cares shall cark no more.
Be this my hope! Be this my aim!
Though rough the road may be,
Thy feet, blest Jesus, trod the same,
And I would follow Thee.
|Alone—alone! I sit, and make my moan.|
The fire burns low, the candle flickers dim.
Alone—alone! I rock, and think of him.
Of him who left me in the purple pride
Of early manhood. Yestermorn he went.
The sun shone bright, and scintillant the tide.
O'er which the sea-mew swept, with dewy drops besprent.
Before he went he kissed me; and I watched
His boat that lay so still and stately, till
Automaton she seemed, and that she moved
To where she willed of her own force and law.
But I knew better: his was the will
That set the pretty sprite a-going.
His arms controlled her to obedience:
Those arms that lately clasped me.
Chilled my fond heart, nor dimmed my vision.
As I saw the fair white messenger move off
On fleecy puffs of cloud into the blue;
My nearest thought to trim my hearth, and make,
A dainty dish would please my darling's taste
On his return. And all day long, and through
The dreamy summer day, my thoughts were full
Of many a gay return; my ears reheard
The cheery word and joke were wont to mark them.
Nor when the sun went down in wrack and mist—
A mist that gathers who knows how or where?—
Feared I of aught. My little hearth burned bright.
The kettle sang, and pussy purred and napped;
And—rocking to and fro, as I do now,
I hummed a little song; one he, had sung
In other days, and with the manly tones
Had stolen my heart away.
The hearth burned low; I ate my meal alone,
And something like a fear I chased away,
Despite the deepening surges of the wind
That scurried round our cot.
I slept: and waked
What time the summer storm, that rose and fell
In sullen gusts, flew by; and slept again,
And dreamed a glad return. When morning broke
A glorious day begun. The storm was gone:
The sparkling waves toyed with the lilting breeze;
The merry sun shone bright; and all the blue
Was decked with tiny flecks of feathery white.
A gladsome morn! But I, I missed my love.
And now they say he's dead. Lost, with his boat,
In that short summer storm of yesternight.
Lost! lost! my love is lost! No more may I
Welcome his step, hear his glad voice, and kiss
His laughing lips. I may not even clasp
His cold dead form in one long, last embrace!
And here I sit alone.—
I drove them all away, their words but maddened me.
Alone I sit,
And rock, and think,—I cannot weep—
And conjure up the depths, those cruel depths
That chafe and fret, and roll him to and fro
Like a stray log:—he, whose dear limbs should lie
Peaceful and soft, in rev'rent care bestowed.—
Or in the sunken boat, gulfed at his work,
I see his blackened corse, even in death
Faithful to duty. O that those waves,
That with their gentle lullaby mock my wild woe,
Would rise in all their might and 'whelm me too!
Oh, love!—oh, love!—my love!
|On her pale bier the baby lay,|
And healthy children from their play,
With tip-toe awe and bated breath,
Came gently in to look on Death.
One touched the flowers that decked the bier;
Another dropped a little tear;
One stroked the cheek so waxy white;
And one cowered weeping with affright.
But one fair boy won Life from Death
By that quick faith that childhood hath;
And cried, with gaze past present things,
"P'raps baby's trying her new wings."
|O blessed angel of the All-bounteous King,|
Where dost thou stay so long? Our sad hearts pine,
Our spirits faint, for thee. Our weary eyes
Scan all the blue expanse, where not a cloud
Floats low to rest our vision. In vain we turn
Or East or West, no vap'rous haze, nor view
Of distant panorama, wins our souls
To other worlds. All, all is hard and scant.
Thy brother Spring is come.
His favourite haunts the sheltering woods betray—
The woods that, dark and cheerless yet, call thee.
Tender hepaticas peep forth, and mottled leaves
Of yellow dog's tooth vie with curly fronds
Of feathery fern, in strewing o'er his path;
The dielytra puts her necklace on,
Of pearly pendants, topaz-tipped or rose.
Gray buds are on the orchard trees, and grass
Grows up in single blades and braves the sun.
But thou!—O, where art thou, sweet early Rain,
That with thy free libations fill'st our cup?
The contemplative blue-bird pipes his note
From off the ridge cap, but can find no spot
Fit for his nest. The red-breast on the fence
Explores the pasture with his piercing eye,
And visits oft the bushes by the stream,
But takes no mate. For why? No leaves or tuft
Are there to hide a home. Oh what is earth
Without a home? On the dry garden bed,
The sparrow—the little immigrant bird—
Hops quick, and looks askance,
And pecks, and chirps, asking for kindly crumbs—
Just two or three to feed his little mate:
Then, on return from some small cunning nook
Where he has hidden her, he mounts the wires,
Or garden fence, and sings a happy song
Of home, and other days. A-missing thee
The husbandman goes forth with faltering step
And dull sad eye; his sweltering team pulls hard
The lab'ring plough, but the dry earth falls back
As dead, and gives nor fragrant fume, nor clogs
The plough-boy's feet with rich encumb'ring mould.
The willows have a little tender green.
And swallows cross the creek—the gurgling creek
Now fallen to pools—but, disappointed,
Dart away so swift, and fly so high
We scarce can follow them. Thus all the land
Doth mourn for thee.
Ah! here thou comest—sweet Rain.
Soft, tender Rain! benison of the skies!
See now, what transformation in thy touch!
Straight all the land is green. The blossoming trees
Put on their bridal wreaths, and veil their charms
From the too ardent sun, beneath thy gift
Of soft diaphanous tissue, pure and white
As angel's raiment. Little wood children
Deck all the path with flowers. The teeming earth
Offers rich gifts. The little choristers
Sing ceaseless hymns, and the glad husbandman
Adds his diapason. Bright fountains wake
And mingle with the swift roulade of streams.
The earth is full of music! Thou dost swing
Thy fragrant censer high, and dwellers in
The dusty city raise their toil-worn heads
From desk and bench, and cry "Summer is here!"
And straight they smell new hay and clover blooms;
And see the trout swift-darting in the brooks:
And hear the plover whistling in the fields.
And little children dream of daisy chains;
And pent-up youth thinks of a holiday;
A holiday with romps, and cream, and flowers.
O, Rain! O, soft, sweet Rain! O liberal Rain!
Touch our hard hearts, that we may more become
Like that Great Heart, whose almoner art thou.
|Why now, sweet Alice, though thy numbers ring|
Like silver bells, methinks their burden wrong.
For if 'tis right, then were the hermits right,
And all recluses. And He was wrong
Who gave to Adam, Eve: and leaned upon
The breast of John the loved. So was He wrong
To love the gentle home at Bethany.
The sisters, and their brother Lazarus.
So was He wrong to weep at Lazarus' grave,
Pity's hot tears for Sin, and Death, and Woe.
And in that awful hour when manhood failed
And God forsook, He still was wrong to think
With tenderest solicitude and care
Upon his mother, and leave her in the charge
Of John. And He was wrong who gave us hearts
To yearn, and sensibilities to meet
Those "clinging tendrils" thou wouldst have us cut.
If thou art right, sweet Alice,
There were no ties of infancy, or age;
Of consanguinity: or noble bond
Of wide humanity, or sacred home:
For without love,—e'en our poor earthly love,—
The world were dead.
Love is the silver cord, that, being loosed,
The fabric of humanity falls wide
In hopeless wrack. Well for us it is
That when our nature, hurt, falls, shrieking, down,
The Great Physician's hand may raise it up
And bind the wound. But what mad folly 'twere
Did we, like peevish child, beat down the hand,
And tear afresh the wound. And this we do
When of our morbid selves we idols make,
And cry "No sorrow like to mine."
O rather should we turn our tenderer hearts—
Made gentler by our griefs—to gentle cares
For weak Humanity, and, knowing what woe
Our sinful nature brings upon itself,
With God-like pity love it but the more.
|How I miss their faces!|
Faces that I love.
Where I read the traces
Heart and soul approve.
Traces of their father
Scattered here and there;
Here a little gesture,
There a twist of hair.
Brave and generous Bertie,
Sweet and quiet Fred,
Various, but true-bred.
How I miss their voices
Raised in laughter gay;
And in loving blessing
When they go to pray.
Even of their quarrels
Miss I now the noise,
Angry or disdainful,
(What are they but boys?)
Shouting in the garden,
Spurring on the game,
Calling a companion
By some favourite name.
How I miss the footsteps,
Lightsome, loud, or slow;
Telling by their echo
How the humours go.
Lagging when they're lazy.
Running when they're wild.
Leaping when they're gladsome,
Walking when they're mild.
Footsteps, voices, faces,
Where are ye to-night?
Father, keep my darlings
Ever in Thy sight.
|Oh, where are all the madcaps gone?|
Why is the house so drear and lone?
No merry whistle wakes the day,
Nor evening rings with jocund play.
No clanging bell, with hasty din,
Precedes the shout, "Is Bertie in?"
Or "Where is Fred?" "Can I see Jack?"
"How soon will he be coming back?
Or "Georgie asks may I go out,"
He has a treasure just found out."
The wood lies out in all the rain,
No willing arms to load are fain
The weeds grow thick among the flowers,
And make the best of sunny hours;
The drums are silent; fifes are mute;
No tones are raised in high dispute;
No hearty laughter's cheerful sound
Announces fun and frolic round.
Here's comic Alan's wit wants sport;
And dark-eyed Bessie's quick retort
Is spent on Nellie, mild and sweet;
And dulness reigns along the street.
The table's lessened numbers bring
No warm discussion's changeful ring,
Of hard-won goal, or slashing play,
Or colours blue, or brown, or gray.
The chairs stand round like rows of pins;
No hoops entrap unwary shins;
No marbles—boyhood's gems—roll loose;
And stilts may rust for want of use;
No book-bags lie upon the stairs;
Nor nails inflict three-cornered tears.
Mamma may lay her needle down,
And take her time to go up town;
Albeit, returning she may miss
The greeting smile and meeting kiss.
But hark! what message cleaves the air.
From skies where roams the Greater Bear!
"Safe, well, and happy, here are we,
Wild as young colts and just as free!
With plenteous hand and kindly heart,
Our hosts fulfil a liberal part.
Nor lack we food to suit the mind,
Our alma-mater here we find,
And in her agricultural school
We learn to farm by modern rule;
Professor Walter fills the chair,
But teaches in the open air.
And by his side we tend the stock,
Or swing the scythe, or bind the shock.
Nor miss we academic lore,
We walk where Plato walked before,
And eloquent Demosthenes,
Who taught their youth beneath the trees;
Here with sharp eyes we love to scan
The rules that point Dame Nature's plan,
We mark the track of bear and deer,
And long to see them reft of fear.—
Though well they shun our changeful moods,
Taught by our rifle in the woods.
Yet we may tell of mercy shown,
Power unabused, the birdling flown,—
When caught by thistly gossamer—
Set free to wing the ambient air.
Cautious we watch the gliding snake,
'Neath sheltering stone, or tangled brake,
And list the chipmunk's merry trill
Proclaim his wondrous climbing skill.
The bird; the beast; the insect; all
In turn our various tastes enthrall;
The fish; the rock; the tree; the flower;
Yield to quick observation's power.
And many a treasure swells our store
Of joys for days when youth is o'er.
Our glowing limbs we love to lave
Beneath the lake's translucent wave,
Or on its heaving bosom ride
In merry boat; or skilful guide
The light canoe, with balanced oar,
To yonder islet's pebbly shore.
Sometimes, with rod and line, we try
The bass's appetite for fly;
Well pleased if plunge or sudden dart
Try all our piscatorial art;
And shout with joy to see our catch
Prove bigger than we thought our match.
Oft when the ardent sun at noon
Proclaims his power, we hide full soon
Within the cool of shady grove,
Or, gathering berries slowly rove
And often when the sun goes down,
We muse of home, and you in town;
And had we but a carrier dove
We'd send her home with loads of love."
|He cannot dance, you say, nor sing,|
Nor troll a lilting stave;
And when the rest are cracking jokes
He's silent as the grave.
Poor Joe! I know he cannot sing—
His voice is somewhat harsh:
But he can whistle loud and clear
As plover in the marsh.
Nor does he dance, but he would walk
Long miles to serve a friend,
And though he cares not crack a joke,
He will the truth defend.
And so, though he for company
May not be much inclined,
I love poor Joe, and think his home
Will be just to my mind.
"I WISH YOU A HAPPY NEW YEAR."A happy year, sweet as the breath of flowers:
A merry year, glad as the song of birds,
A jocund year, gay as brown harvest hours;
A prosperous year, rich, as in flocks and herds.
THE LIFE-BOAT MAN.When the loud minute gun alarms the night,
And plunging waters hide the bark from sight,
When lurid lightnings threat, and thunders roll.
And roaring tempests daunt the trembling soul—
'Tis thine, O Life-boat Man, such fears to brave,
And snatch the drowning from a watery grave.
"I am learning the stitch," the lover said
As over her work he bent his head.
But the scene spake plain to the mother's eye
"I am watching these busy fingers ply."
And ever anon when a stitch she'd miss,
'Twas because he bent lower her hand to kiss.
Oh tender lover, and busy maid,
May the sweet enchantment never fade;
Nor the thread of life, though a stitch may miss,
Know a break that may not be joined by a kiss.
Kate (in much indignation). Refused! I knew
The crass ingratitude of haughty man,
Vested in all the pride of place and power,
Brooks not the aspirations of my sex,
However just. Is't that he fears to yield,
Lest from his laurelled brow the wreath should fall
And light on ours? We may matriculate,
And graduate—if we can, but he excludes
Us from the beaten path he takes himself.
The sun-lit heights of steep Parnassus
Reach past the clouds, and we below must stay;
Not that our alpen-stocks are weak, or that
Our breath comes short, but that, forsooth, we wear
The Petticoat. Out on such trash!
Mr. Bloggs. Why, what's the matter, Kate?
Kate. Not much, papa, only I am refused
Admission to the college. Sapient says
The Council have considered my request,
And find it inconsistent with the rules
Of discipline and order to admit
Women within their walls.
Mr. B. I thought they'd say so. Now be satisfied;
You've studied hard. Have made your mark upon
The honour list. Have passed your second year.
Let that suffice. You know enough to wed,
And Gilmour there would give his very head
To have you. Get married, Kate.
Kate. Papa, you vex me; Gilmour has no chance
And that I'll let him know. Nor have I spent
My youth in studious sort to give up now.
Mr. Bloggs. What will you do? They will not let you
For fear you'd turn the heads of all the boys.
And quite right, too. I wouldn't have the care
And worry of a lot of lively girls
For all I'm worth.
[He kisses her.
Kate. P'raps not, papa. But yet I mean to have
The prize I emulate.
If I obtain
The honours hung so tantalizingly
Before us by the University,
Will you defray the cost, as hitherto
You've done, like my own kind papa?
[She kisses him.
Mr. Bloggs. I guess I'll have to: they won't send the bills to you.
Kate. Ah, dear papa! I'll make you proud of me
As if I were a son.
Mrs. Bloggs. My dearest Kate,
How very late
You keep the breakfast things!
Kate. My dear mamma,
I had papa
To tell of lots of things.
Mrs. Bloggs. Your secret, pray,
If so I may
Be let into it also.
Kate. Oh, it was just this letter, mamma, from Mr. Sapient, telling me that the Council won't let me go to University College to share the education that can only be had there at a reasonable cost, because the young men would be demoralized by my presence.
Mrs. Bloggs. Kate, I am astonished at you! Have I not always said that women do not need so much education as men, and ought to keep themselves to themselves, and not put themselves forward like impudent minxes? What'll men think of you if you go sittin' down on the same benches at the colleges, and studyin' off of the same desk, and, like enough—for there are girls bold enough for that—out of the same books? And what must the professors think women are comin' to when they want to learn mathyphysics and metamatics and classical history, and such stuff as unfits a woman for her place, and makes her as ignorant of household work, managin' servants, bringin' up children, and such like, as the greenhorns that some people take from the emigrant sheds, though I wouldn't be bothered with such ignoramuses, spoilin' the knives, and burnin' the bread, for anythin'?
Kate. Now, mamma, you know we have gone all over this before, and shall never agree, because I think that the better educated a woman is, the better she can fulfil her home duties, especially in the care and management of the health of her family, and the proper training of her sons and daughters as good citizens.
Mrs. Bloggs. You put me out of all patience, Kate! For goodness' sake get married and be done with it. And that reminds me that Harry Gilmour wants you to go to the picnic with him on Dominion Day, and to the concert at the Gardens at night; and he said you had snubbed him so at Mrs. Gale's that he didn't like to speak about it to you without I thought he might. Now, that's what I call a real shame, the way you do treat that young man. A risin' young lawyer as he is, with no end of lots in Winnipeg, and all the money his father made for him up there; comes of a good old family, and has the best connections; as may be a member yet, perhaps senator some day, and you treat him as if he was quite beneath you. I do hope you'll just show a little common sense and accept his invitations.
Kate. Well, mamma, I think the real shame, as you call it, is that you, and other ladies, will allow your daughters to go, about to picnics, parties, balls, theatres or anywhere else, with any man who happens to ask them, and without even so much as a girl-companion, and yet you see nothing but impropriety in my desire to attend college, where all the opportunity of associating with the other sex is limited to a few lectures delivered by grave and reverend Professors, under conditions of strict discipline, and at which the whole attention of the students must necessarily be concentrated on the subject. As for unlimited opportunities for flirting, there are none; and the necessities of college life compel each student to attend to his duties while within the halls, and then go home; wherever that may be.
Mrs. Bloggs. It's no use talking, Kate, you won't alter my opinion. If they'd build another college specially for ladies, as I hear the Council is willin' to do, and put it under charge of a lady who would look after the girls, I wouldn't object so much, though, as I always say, I don't see the need of so much learnin' for women.
Kate. Well, mamma, how much would be gained by a separate building? The Council, it is true, offer a piece of ground, within a few minutes walk of the college, for a ladies' college, and promise to deliver lectures specially "altered to suit the female capacity." But if there was an intention of giddiness and flirtation on the part of the lady students, how much hindrance do you think the separate college would be? And if we can't understand the same lectures as our brothers, it is evident we can't understand the same books. Rather a hard nut to crack, isn't it?
Mrs. Bloggs. How rude you are, Kate! I am ashamed of you.
[Exit MRS. BLOGGS in a rage.
Kate. Poor mamma, she thinks her only child a very enfant terrible.
Orphea. What will you do, dear?
Kate. A deed without a name!
A deed will waken me at dead of night!
A deed whose stony face will stare at me
With vile grimace, and freeze my curdling blood!
Will make me quake before the eye of day;
Shrink from the sun; and welcome fearsome night!
A deed will chase my trembling steps by ways
Unknown, through lonely streets, into dark haunts!—
Will make me tremble if a child observes
Me close; and quake, if, in a public crowd,
One glances at me twice!
A deed I'll blush for, yet I'll do't; and charge
Its ugliness on those who forced me to't—
In short, I'll wear the breeks.
Orphea. Oh, Katie! You?
Kate. Yes, me, dear coz.
Orphea. But then your hair, and voice!
Kate. I'll train my voice to mouth out short, thick
As Bosh! Trash! Fudge! Rot! And I'll cultivate
An Abernethian, self-assertive style,
That men may think there is a deal more in
My solid head than e'er comes out.
My hair I'll cut short off.
[She looses down her abundant brown hair, and passes her hands through it caressingly.
Ah, woman's simple pride! these
Must all be shorn. Like to Godiva fair,
Whose heart, so true, forgot itself, to serve
Her suffering kind; I, too, must make
My hair an offering to my sex; a protest strong
'Gainst man's oppression.
Oh, wavy locks, that won my father's praise,
I must be satisfied to cut ye off,
And keep ye in a drawer 'till happier times,
When I again may wear ye as a crown:
Perchance a bang.
Orphea. 'Twould, perhaps, be best to wear some as moustache.
Kate. The very thing! then whiskers won't be missed.
Orphea. But oh, your mannish garb! How dreadful, Kate!
Kate. True; but it must be done, and you must help.
Kate. Not let me in! We'll see. I'll beat 'em yet.
To think that down in Canterbury, girls,
Like my poor self, have had the badge bestowed
That I so fondly covet. To think that they
Enjoy the rights I ask, and have received
The Cambridge University degree, B.A.
Not only wear the gown and cap
As college students, but the hood. The hood!
And shall Macaulay's proud New Zealander
Thus sit on me? Not if I know it. No!
I'll don the dreadful clothes, and cheat the Dons.
[She goes to the window.
The blinds are down, the shutters
closed, the slats
As well, surely no one can see.
[She takes up a man's coat and looks at it, then the vest, then the pants.
[Invests herself in the masculine apparel. A knock at the door. She starts and turns pale.
A Voice. Katie, dear!
Kate. Pshaw! 'tis only Orphea!
[She unlocks the door.
(In masculine tones.) Come in, dear coz.
[Attempts to kiss her, but receives a slap in the face.
Orphea. How dare you, sir! Oh! let me out.
Kate (in natural voice). Orphea, you goose!
Orphea Oh, Kate, you did so scare me!
Kate. And is it then a good disguise?
Orphea. 'Tis poor old Tom again.
Kate. But how essay it in the street and hall?
Orphea. Well, there's the gown to help. 'Twill cover all.
Kate. And then the cap? But that I do not mind;
My Derby hat has used me to a style
A trifle jaunty, and a hard stiff crown;
So if my hair prove not too trying
I yet may like to wear the "mortar-board,"
If still they wear such things.
Orphea. Oh, Kate, it is an awful risk!
Kate. Awful, my dear; but poor mamma
Thinks I'm an awful girl.
If she but knew—
Yet might I plead that men and women oft
Have done the same before; poor Joan of Arc;
Portia; and Rosalind. And I have heard
That once Achilles donned the woman's garb:
Then why not I the student's cap and gown?
Kate. Yes, nursey, I'll be quick, but mind your words
And looks, and do not make mistakes.
Nurse. Oh no, Miss Kate—or Mr. Christopher,
As that's the name you've chose, I'll not mistake.
Kate. And always mind and keep my room,
My time and liberty, intact, and so
You'll make it easier for me to obtain
By surreptitious means, the rights I should
Enjoy in happier sort.
Nurse. I'll do my best, Miss Kate.
Kate (in masculine attire, about to descend to the
breakfast table, turns once more to the mirror). Oh,
Hadst thou but taught the world
The beauty of thy new divided skirt
Ere I was born, this had not now been thus.
This blush, that burns my cheek, had long been past;
These trembling limbs, that blench so from the light,
Had gotten strength to bear me manfully.
Oh for the mantling night, when city fathers
save the gas, and Luna draws her veil!
[She sits down on a box.
Away, weak tears!
I must be brave and show myself a man,
Nay, more, a student, rollicking and gay.
Would I could feel so! (Sniffs at the air.) Somebody smokes,
And before breakfast; pah, the nasty things!
Would I could smoke! They say some women do;
Drink toddy, too; and I do neither:
That's not like a man; I'll have to learn.
But no! my soul revolts; I'll risk it.
Surely there are among a studious band
Some who love temperance and godly life.
That's the crowd I'll join. They will not plunge into
Those dreadful orgies that the Globe describes,
Of men half-tight with lager and old rye,
Who waylay freshmen and immerse them in
The flowing wave of Taddle,
Horrors! Why, I shall be a freshman!
If they touch me I'll scream! ah—ha, I'll scream!
Scream, and betray my sex? No, that won't do;
At Rome I'll have to be a Roman;
And, to escape that dread ordeal, I
Shall cringe and crawl, and in the presence of
A fourth year man step soft and bow,
And smile if he but condescend to nod.
Oh, yes, I'll do't. In tableaux once I played
Uriah Heep, and made the character
So "'umble" and so crawly, that for days
I loathed my hands, and slapped my fingers well
For having knuckles.
Thus will I to the tyrant play the slave.
An old antithesis.
[Some one calls at the door.
Yes, yes, I'm coming, Hannah.
Now for that dreaded step yclept the first,
Pray Heaven it may cost most; but that I doubt.
[Descends to the breakfast table.
"My Dearest Orphea—Congratulate me! me, your cousin, Tom Christopher, M.A., Gold Medallist.—Mathematics, and also Natural Sciences; Honours in Classics, and Prizeman in German again. You cannot think how queer I feel with all my blushing honours thick upon me, and more to come. Tuesday! my dear Orphea, Tuesday! Only think of it, Master of Arts, or more correctly Mistress of Arts! Now let the New Zealanders boast, and the Cambridge girls bite their tongues, Canada has caught them up! Ah, my dear Orphea, that is the drop of gall in the cup of your successful cousin—the Canterbury Antipodeans got their honours first. It reminds me of the saying that the nearer to church the farther from heaven, since it is evidently the nearer to the centre of civilization the farther from a University Degree, so far as we unfortunate women are concerned. But never mind! I've proved that Canadian girls are equal in mental power with Canadian boys, and I am only impatient to let the Dons know it.
"And now, my love, for the conclusion of the two years' farce. It has cost me a whole week's sleep to sketch a plan by which to declare my sex in the most becoming manner to my fellow students.
"Do you know, dear, when I look back upon the pleasures of the past two years—how soon we forget the pain!—I am not inclined to regret the step rendered necessary by my devotion to my sex, for use has made me quite at home in the—ah—divided skirt! How many lovely girls have I danced with through the rosy hours who will never more smile on me as they were wont to smile! How many flowers of rhetoric have been wasted on me by the irony of fate! How many billets-doux, so perfumed and pretty, lie in my desk addressed to my nether garment! And how many mammas have encouraged Mr. Christopher, who will forever taboo Miss Bloggs! And then the parties and the picnics! Ah, my dear Orphea, what do I not sacrifice on the altar of my sex. But a truce to regrets.
"I am longing to see the elegant costume in which I shall appear before the astonished eyes of the multitude as Miss Bloggs, M.A.
"You know my style, the latest out, which I find by the fashion books is Mignonette trimmed with Chinese Pheasant. Buttons up the back of the sleeves, with rubies and amethysts. Let the fichu be Eidelweiss; trim the fan and slippers with the same, and use dandelions and calla lilies for the bouquets. Not a button less than forty on the gloves, and don't forget my hair.
"Get yourself up to match by contrast, and come and help me make a sensation.
"The dinner is on the tapis. Webb will be caterer, Sells will supply the cider; Shapter and Jeffery the Zoedone, and I have entered into a contract with the Toronto Water Works for pure water on this occasion only. I have bought up every flower in Toronto, so that if the tariff does not prevent it, other folks will have to import their own roses; and I have engaged every boy in the public schools who has nothing better to do next Saturday to go to Lome Park and bring back as many maiden-hairs as he can find. Ferns are my craze, as you know, and I am quite a crank on maiden-hair, which I mean to adopt for my crest with "If she will, she will," as a motto. Ever your own,
A merry letter truly.
I'll to the dressmaker.
Mr. Biggs, B.A. (Tor. Univer.), on his feet.
Ah—ladies and gentlemen, here's
to our host,
And rising, as thus, to propose him a toast,
I think of the days which together
In shade, and in sunshine, as chums we have passed,
In love, and esteem, that forever must last,
Let happen what will to the weather.
In short, ladies and gentlemen, I have to propose the everlasting health and welfare of our host, who should have been our honoured guest but for that persistent pertinacity he exhibited in the matter, and which he does himself the injustice to call womanish. But I am sure, ladies and gentlemen, no one but himself ever accused our esteemed host of being womanish, and when we look upon the high standing he has achieved in our University, the honour he confers on his Alma Mater by his scholarly attainments and the gentlemanly character he has won among all sorts of students, I am sure, ladies and gentlemen, we should be doing great injustice to you all were we for one moment to admit that he could be other than he is, an honour to Toronto University, and a credit to his sex. I am quite sure the ladies are at this moment envying the happy woman whom he will at no distant date probably distinguish with his regard, and it must be satisfactory to ourselves, gentlemen, to know that it lies in our power, as the incumbents of academic honours, to be able to bestow that reversion of them on those who, having all the world at their feet, need not sigh for the fugitive conquests that demand unceasing toil and an unlimited amount of gas or coal-oil. Ladies and gentlemen, I call upon you to fill your sparkling glasses to the honour of our host and college chum, Mr. Tom Christopher. And here's with a hip, hip, hooray! and hands all round!
All.—Hip, hip! Hurrah!
[Tremendous cheering and clinking of glasses. Several are broken, and the excitement consequently subsides.
Mr. Tom Christopher.—Ladies and gentlemen, I thank
For these your loving words. A third year man,
I came upon you fresh from nowhere;
This in itself a warranty for cold
And hard suspicion; but you received
Me with some warmth, and made me one of you,
Chaffed me, and sat on me, and lent me books.
And offered pipes, and made inquiries kind
About my sisters; and Time, who takes
Men kindly by the hand, made us warm friends,
And knit us in a love all brotherly.
Many Voices.—Yes, brothers! brothers! we are brothers all!
A Voice.—And sisters!
Mr. Tom.—I would say sisters too, but that I
My lady guests would think I did presume;
But yet I know, and knowing it am proud,
That most men here to-night would welcome all
The sweet girl-graduates that would fill the list
Did but the College Council set aside
A foolish prejudice, and let them in.
And now, I know a girl who long has worked
To pass the exams, take the proud degree
I hold to-day, and yet her petticoat
Several Voices.—Name! Name! A toast! A toast!
Mr. Tom.—I will not name her, gentlemen, but
Her to your presence, if you so incline;
First begging that you will not let surprise
Oust self-possession, for my friend's a girl
Of timid temper, though she's bold to act
If duty calls.
Many Voices.—Your friend! Your friend!
Mr. Tom.—I go to fetch her, gentlemen; dear ladies
I beg your suffrages of gentle eyes
And kindly smile to greet my guest.
[Exit MR. TOM CHRISTOPHER.
Miss Blaggs.—My cousin! oh, my cousin!
[Rushes excitedly forward and falls into hysterics on Miss BLOGGS' neck. The company gather round in great surprise.
Miss B.—Dear Orphea! Orphea, my dear! oh, water,
Lay her upon the couch. See! see! she gasps!
Orphea, dear girl!
[The ladies are much alarmed, but Miss BLAGGS soon gives signs of recovery, and sits up.
Orphea (in tears).—Oh, Kate! it struck me so to see you once again as you were wont to be; those nasty ugly pants forever gone, and you a girl again.
Kate.—Dear friends, you look surprised.
Pray Heaven you'll not look worse when you know all.
I am indeed a girl, though you have known
Me hitherto as Thomas Christopher.
Four years ago I passed the exams, for
Us women, at your University.
Once more I passed. But when again I would,
I stumbled for the teaching that is chained—
Like ancient scripture to the reading desk—
Within your College walls. No word of mine
Could move the flinty heads of College Council.
Order and discipline forbade, they said,
That women should sit-side by side with men
Within their walls. At church, or concert, or
At theatre, or ball, no separation's made
Of sexes. And so I, being a girl
Of firm and independent mind, resolved
To do as many a one beside has done
For lesser prize, and, as a man, sat at
The feet of our Gamaliels until I got
The learning that I love. That I may now
Look you all in the face without a blush, save—that
Which naturally comes at having thus
To avow my hardihood, is praise, I trow,
You will not think unworthy; and to me
It forms a soft remembrance that will ever dwell
Within my grateful heart.
Can you forgive me?
Many Voices.—We do, we must. All honour to the
Speak for us, Biggs.
Mr. Biggs.—I cannot speak, except to ask the lady's
For our rough ways.
Kate.—No; pardon me.
Many Voices.—No! no! we ask your pardon.
Kate.—If that, indeed, as I must need believe
From all your looks, you do not blame me much,
Endue me with a favour. It is this:—
Let every man and woman here to-night
Look out for those petitions that will soon
Be placed in many a store by those our friends
Who in this city form a ladies' club,
And each one sign. Nay more, to show you mean
What I, with swelling heart have often heard
You strongly urge, the rights of women to
The College privileges, get all your friends
To sign. Do what your judgment charges you
To help so good a cause, and let the lists
Of 1883 have no more names
Set by themselves as women. Let us go
In numbrous strength before the Parliament,
And ask our rights in such a stirring sort,
They shall be yielded. Then I shall know
Your brotherly and pleasant words mean faith,
And shall no more regret a daring act
That else will fail of reason.
May I thus trust?
All.—You may! You may.
Kate.—Then hands all round, my friends, till break of day.
|As fragrant essences from summer flowers,|
Steal, on aërial pinions, to the sense,
So, on the viewless wing of rumour, sped
A word that set the aviary on flame.
"To-morrow comes the Prince," it said, "to choose
A bird of gifts will grace the royal bower."
O then began a fluttering and a fume—
A judging each of all! Pert airs and speech
Flew thick as moulted feathers. Little heads
Were tossed in lofty pride, or in disdain
Were turned aside. For each bird deemed his own
The merits that would charm. One only sang
To-day his daily song, nor joined the crowd
In envious exultation. To him spoke
Another of his kind. "Vain one, refrain
That everlasting pipe, fit for a cage
Behind some cotter's lattice, where thy gray
And thickset form may shun the cultured eye.
A word of warning, too—hide from the Prince."
"Dear brother," cried the gray, "be not annoyed;
Who sees your elegance of form, and depth
Of perfect colour, ne'er will notice me."
The morrow came,—the Prince. Each bird essayed
To please the royal taste, and many a meed
Of praise was won and given—this for his hue;—
That for his elegance;—another for
His fascinating grace. Yet something lacked,
'Twas evident, and many an anxious glance
Betrayed the latent fear.
"Yon little bird
In quiet gray and green courts not my praise,
Yet should a singer be," exclaimed the Prince,
As with a critical and searching eye
He scanned the small competitors for choice.
Obedient to his governor, the bird
Poured forth his song, oblivious of the crowd
Of vain and envious round him, in whose eyes
He stood contemptible. The Prince, entranced,
Broke forth at length: "Nor hue, nor elegance,
Nor fascination, can outvie the gift
Of genius. My choice is made."
And to the great offence
Of one bright bird, at least, the humble gray
Became the royal treasure.
|Tired of the narrow limits her assigned,|
Truth fled the earth; and men were fain to grope
In utter darkness. Blindly they blundered,
And were long distraught, till on the horizon rose
A luminosity, and in its midst
A form. They cried, "'Tis Truth! fair Truth returned!'
And though the light seemed dim, the form but faint
To that of other days, they worshipped it,
And all things went along much as at first.
Until, born none knew whence, a doubt arose;
Grew strong; and spake; and pondering, men began
To quest their goddess' claim. Then, too, was set
A secret watch, a covert test for proof;
And one fine day there rose a clamour, such
As cheated mobs will make, when cunning puts
A veto on their claim.
For this mob found that, in her stolen guise
Of softer beams, they had adored a cheat;
A make-believe; a lie.
Immense their rage! One aim inspired them all—
To punish. But while they swayed and tossed
In wrathful argument on just desert,
Fair Truth indeed appeared, clad in her robes
Of glorious majesty. "Desist, my friends,"
She cried; "the executioner condign
Of Insincerity, and your avenger,
Is Time, my faithful henchman."
|Two trees, amid whose leafy shade|
The warbling birds their vigils paid,
Stood neighbours—each as noble tree
In height and girth as one might see.
The one, sequestered in the vale,
All sheltered from the boisterous gale,
Had passed his days in soft repose;
The other from the cliff arose,
And bore the brunt of stormy wind
That lashed him oft in frenzy blind.
A day there happed when from the north
Aquilon drave his forces forth,
And hurled them headlong on the rock
Where, proudly poised to meet the shock,
Our bold tree stood. In gallant might,
He took the gage of proffered fight,
And though in every fibre wrung,
Kept every fibre still upstrung.
"Thou tremblest!" cried the sheltered tree,
"Thine own the folly! Come to me.
Here no wild tempest rocks our boughs—
Scarce may it bend our haughty brows—
Scarce may a breeze our branches kiss—
From every harm a shelter this."
No word replied the storm-tried tree,
But, wrestling for the mastery,
He bowed and straightened, writhed and shook,
And firmer of the rock he took
A tightening clutch with grip of steel,
Nor once the storm-fiend made him reel;
And when his weary foe passed by,
Still towered he proudly to the sky.
Then through the vale the wingèd blast
For the first time in fury passed,
As through ripe grain the sickles go,
Widespread he scattered fear and woe;
Prone fell the tree—so safe before—
'Mid ruin dire, to rise no more.
He cannot fall who knows to fight
With stern adversity aright.
But soon is laid the victim low,
That knows not how to ward a blow.
|Simply attired in Nature's strictest garb,|
Fair Truth emerged from out her sheltering well;
But Time so many of her charms had touched
That age and youth before her presence fled:
And no asylum showed an open door
Of welcome to the waif of shivering limb.
Sudden upon her sight a vision breaks—
Gay Fable richly robed, and pranked withal
In plumes and jewels—mostly false 'tis true,
But bright enough. "Ah, is it you, my friend?
How do?" quo' she, "but why upon the road.
"And all alone?"
"You see I freeze," says Truth,
"And yet of those who pass I but implore
A simple shelter, but I frighten them.
Alas! I see an aged woman gains
But small consideration!"
"Younger than I,"
Saith Fable, "are you? Yet I may aver,
Without conceit, that everywhere
I am received with joy. But Mistress Truth,
Why did you brave the light in such scant robe?
'Twas most ill-judged. Come, let's arrange for both,
Since the same end is aim for me as you;
Get 'neath my cloak, and we'll together walk.
Thus, for your sake, I shall not by the wise
Be buffeted; and for my sake, you shall
Be well received among the simpler sort.
Thus every one his proper taste may suit,
And by these means each shall her end attain,
Thanks to your sense, and my amusing speech.
And you will see, my sister, everywhere
We shall be well received, in company." —Florian.
|In ancient days the Caliph Almamon|
A palace built in Bagdad, fairer far
Than was the vaunted house of Solomon.
The portico a hundred columns graced
Of purest alabaster. Gold and blue
And jasper formed the rich mosaic floor.
Ceiled with the fragrant cedar, suites of rooms
Displayed a wealth of sculpture; treasures rare
In art and nature vied; fair flowers and gems,
Perfumes and scented myrtles; verdure soft
And piercing lustre; past the embroidered couch
The gushing fountains rolled on dancing wave.
And beauty reigned o'er all.
Near this abode, but just beyond the gate,
A simple cottage stood, old and dilapidate,
The home of a poor weaver. There, content
With little gain procured by labour long,
Without a debt and thus beyond a care,
The old man lived, forgotten perhaps, but free.
His days all peaceful softly wore away
And he nor envied was, nor envying.
As hath been told, his small and mean retreat,
Just masked the palace gates. The Grand Vizier
Would pull it down, without formality
Of law, or word of grace. More just his lord
Commands to buy it first. To hear is to obey;
They seek the weaver's bearing bags of gold;
"These shalt thou have."
"No; keep your lordly sum,
My workshop yields my needs," responds the man,
"And for my house, I have no wish to sell;
Here was I born, and here my father died:
And here would I die too. The Caliph may,
Should he so will, force me to leave the place
And pull my cottage down, but should he so
Each day would find me seated on the stone
The last that's left, weeping my misery.
I know Almamon's heart; 'twill pity me."
This bold reply the Vizier's choler raised;
He would the rascal punish, and at once
Pull down the sorry hut. Not so the Caliph:
"No; while it stands my glory lives," saith he,
"My treasure shall be taxed to make it whole;
And of my reign it shall be monument;
For when my heirs shall this fair palace mark
They shall exclaim 'How great was Almamon!'
And when yon cottage 'Almamon was just!'" —Florian.
|Kindly let us help each other,|
Lighter will our burden lie,
For the good we do our brother
Is a solace pure and high,—
So Confucius to his people,
To his friends, the wise Chinese,
Oft affirmed, and to persuade them,
Told them stories such as these:—
In an Asiatic city
Dwelt two miserable men,—
Misery knows nor clime nor country,
Haunts alike the dome or den—
Blind the one, the other palsied,
Each so poor he prayed for death;
Yet he lived, his invocations
Seeming naught but wasted breath.
On his wretched mattress lying,
In the busy public square,
See the wasted paralytic
Suffering more that none doth care.
Butt for everybody's humour,
Gropes the blind his devious way,
Guide, nor staff, nor helper has he,
To supply the light's lost ray;
E'en a poor dog's willing service,
Love, and guidance are denied;
Till one day his groping finds him
By the paralytic's side.
There he hears the sufferer's moaning,
And his very soul is moved.
He's the truest sympathizer
Who, like sorrow, erst has proved.
"I have, sorrows, thou hast others,
Brother, let us join our woes,
And their rigours will be softened,"
Thus the blind began propose.
"Ah, my friend, thou little knowest
That a step I cannot take;
Thou art blind; what should we gain then
Of two burdens one to make?"
"Why, now, brother, see how lucky,
'Twixt us both is all we lack:
Thou hast eyes, be thou the guide then,
Thee I'll carry on my back;
Thus without unfriendly question
As to which bears heaviest load,
I will walk for thee, and thou, friend,
Choose for me the smoothest road." —Florian.
|On a set day, fell Death, queen of the world,—|
In hell assembled all her fearful court
That 'mongst them she might choose a minister
Would render her estate more flourishing.
As candidates for the dread office came,
With measured strides, from Tartarus' lowest depth,
Fever, and Gout, and War—a trio
To whose gifts all earth and hell bare witness—
The queen reception gave them.
Then came Plague,
And none his claims and merit might deny.
Still, when a doctor paid his visit, too,
Opinion wavered which would win the day.
Nor could Queen Death herself at once decide.
But when the Vices came her choice fell quick—
She chose Excess. —Florian.
|How softly glide Philemon's happy days|
Within the cot where once his father dwelt
Peaceful as he!
Here with his gentle wife and sturdy boys,
In rural quietude, he tills his farm;
Gathers his harvest, or his garden tends.
Here sweet domestic joys together shared
Crown every evening, whether 'neath the trees
The smiling summer draws the table forth:
Or round the cosy hearth the winter cold
With crackling faggot blazing makes their cheer.
Here do the careful parents ever give
Counsels of virtuous knowledge to their sons.
The father with a story points his speech,
The mother with a kiss.
Of different tastes, the boys: the elder one,
Grave, studious, reads and thinks the livelong day;
The younger, sprightly, gay, and graceful, too,
Leaps, laughs incessant, and in games delights.
One evening, as their wont, at father's side,
And near a table where their mother sewed,
The elder Rollin read. The younger played:
Small care had he for Rome's ambitious deeds,
Or Parthian prowess; his whole mind was set
To build a house of cards, his wit sharp-drawn
To fit the corners neatly. He, nor speaks,
Nor scarce may breathe, so great his anxious care.
But suddenly the reader's voice is heard
Self-interrupting: "Papa, pray tell me why
Some warriors are called Conquerors, and some
The Founders, of an Empire? What doth make
The points of difference in the simple terms?"
In careful thought the father sought reply:
When, radiant with delight, his younger son,
After so much endeavour, having placed
His second stage, cries out, "Tis done!" But he,
The elder, harshly chides his brother's glee,
Strikes the frail tenement, and so destroys
The fruits of patient toil: The younger weeps:
And then the father thus: "Oh, my dear son,
Thy brother is the Founder of a realm,
Thou the fell Conqueror." —Florian.
|In separate cages hung, the same kind roof|
Sheltered a bullfinch and a raven bold,
The one with song mellifluous charmed the house;
The other's cries incessant wearied all.
With loud hoarse voice he screamed for bread and meat
And cheese; the which they quickly brought, in hope
To stop thereby his brawling tongue.
Did nought but sing, and never bawled and begged;
So they forgot him. Oft the pretty bird
Nor food nor water had, and they who praised
His song the loudest took the smallest care
To fill his fount. And yet they loved him well,
But thought not on his needs.
One day they found him dead within his cage,
"Ah, horror! and he sang so well!" they cry,
"What can it be he died of? 'Tis, indeed
A dreadful pity."
The raven still screamed on, and nothing lacked. —Florian.
|Within the chalice of a flower|
A bee "improved the shining hour,"
Whom, when she saw, a wasp draw near,
And sought to gain the fair one's ear,
With tender praise: "Oh, sister mine—
(For love and trust that name entwine)"
But ill it pleased the haughty bee,
Who answered proudly: "Sisters!—we?
Since when, I pray you, dates the tie?"
With angry warmth the wasp's reply
Came fuming forth—"Life-long, indeed.
In semblant points all eyes may read
The fact. Observe me if you please.
Your wings, are they not such as these?
Mine is your figure, mine your waist,
And if you used with proper taste
Your sting, as I do, we agree
"'Tis true," replies the bee,
"Each bears a weapon; in its use
The difference lies. For fierce abuse,
And insolence your dart doth serve.
Mine gives the chastisement that these deserve,
And while you irritate your dearest friend;
I take good heed myself, but to defend." —Florian.
|O ye who tread with heedless feet|
This dust once laid with heroes' blood,
A moment turn your backward glance
To years of dread inquietude:
When wars disturbed our peaceful fields;
When mothers drew a sobbing breath;
When the great river's hilly marge
Resounded with a cry of death.
Then, full of fire, the heroes sprang
To save our heritage and laws.
They conquered! 'twas a holiday.
Alas, the last in such a cause!
Bloody and shamed, the flag of France
Perforce recrossed the widening seas;
The sad Canadian mourned his hopes,
And cherished bitter memories.
But noble he despite his woe!
Before his lords he proudly bends,
Like some tall oak that storms may shake,
And bow, but never, never rend.
And oft he dreams a happy dream,
And sees a flag, with lilies sown,
Come back whence comes the rising Sun,
To float o'er landscapes all his own.
Oh when the south wind on its wings
Bears to his ear strange sounds afar,
To him they seem the solemn chant
Of triumph after clam'rous war.
Those echoes weird of gallant strife
E'en stir the coffined warrior-dead,
As stirs a nation's inmost heart
At some proud pageant nobly led.
O France, once more 'neath Western skies,
We see thy standards proudly wave!
And Mexico's high ramparts fall
Before thy squadrons, true and brave.
Peace shalt thou to the land restore;
For fetters shalt give back the crown;
And with thy shining sword shalt hurl
The base usurper from the throne.
Hear ye, how in their ancient urns
The ashes of our heroes wake?
Thus greet they ye, fair sons of morn,
For this their solemn silence break.
They greet ye, whose renown hath reached
Past star on star to highest heaven!
Ye on whose brow their halo sits,
To ye their altar shall be given!
Arise, immortal phalanxes,
Who fell upon a glorious day!
Your century of mourning weeds
Posterity would take away.
Arise and see! our woods and fields
No longer nourish enemies!
Whom once ye fought are brothers now,
One law around us throws its ties.
And who shall dare our homesteads touch,
That for our heritage ye gave:—
And who shall drive us from the shores
To which your blood the verdure gave?—
E'en they shall find the oppressed will rise
More powerful for the foe withstood;
And ever for such heinous crime
Shall pay the forfeit with their blood.
Ye, our defenders in the past,
Your names are still a household word!
In childhood's ear old age recounts
The toils your hardy youth endured.
And on the field of victory
Hath gratitude your memory graved!
In during brass your story lives
A glory to the centuries saved!
|Our country insulted|
Demands quick redress.
To arms, Voltigeurs!
To the struggle we press.
From vict'ry to vict'ry,
Brave, righteous, and just,
Ours the mem'ries that cling to
Our forefathers' dust.
Defend we our farm-lands,
Our half-crumbled walls!
Defend we our sweethearts,
Our hearths and our halls!
Our dear native tongue,
Our faith keep we free!
Defend we our life,
For a people are we!
No rulers know we, save
Our time-honoured laws!
And woe to the nation
That sneers at our cause.
Our fields and our furrows,
Our woods and our streams,
Should their columns invade,
Shall entomb their vain dreams!
To our foes, the perfidious,
Be war to the knife.
Intrepid, yet duteous,
We leap to the strife.
More terrible shewing
In danger's red hour;
We know to avenge,
And unbroken our power.
List the thunderous roar
As the shot rushes by!
To our war-song heroic,
The chorus of joy.
At the ring of the musket
To the battle we fly;
Come! come to the field,
See us conquer or die.
What! we become slaves
To an alien foe?
We bear their vile trammels?
Our answer is, No!
Assistance shall reach us
From heaven's lucent arch:
Come! seize we our muskets
And "double-quick march!"
|When the Creator had laid out the deeps,|
The great illimitable fields of sad-eyed space,
A weighty bag upon His neck He threw,
Whence issued sound confused of huddled stars;
And, plunging in the sack His mighty hand,
He traversed all the ether's wondrous plain
With slow and measured step, as doth a sower,
Sowing the gloomy void with many suns.
He tossed them—tossed them—some in fantastic groups,
And some in luminous; some terrible.
And 'neath the Sower's steps, whose grain was stars,
The furrows of the sky, ecstatic, smoked.
He tossed them—tossed them—out of His whirling hand,
Plenteous in every place, by full broad casts
Measured to rhythmic beat; and golden stars
Flew o'er the wide expanse like firefly swarms.
"Away! away!" cried He of worlds the Sower:
"Away, ye stars! spring in the wastes of heaven;
Broider its purple fields with your fair gems;
Tuneful, elated, gladsome, take your course.
"Go, wave of fire, into a darksome night,
And there make joy, and there the pleasant day!
And launch into the depths immeasurable
Quick, quivering darts of glowing light and love!
"I will that all within your bounds shall shine,
Be glad, be prosperous, happy, blest, content,
Shall sing for ever 'Glory be to Thee,
Creator, Father, Sower, who with suns
Hast filled infinity!'"
Thus He dismissed the stars, weighted with life,
Careering round their calm Creator's feet
As, in a desert place July has scorched,
The grains of sand may cloud the traveller's steps.
And glittered all, and sang; and, hindered not,
Upon their axes turned, constant and sure;
Their million million voices, strong and deep,
Bursting in great hosannas to the skies.
And all was happiness and right, beauty and strength;
And every star heard all her radiant sons
With songs of love ensphere her mother-breast;
And all blessed Life. And blessed the Highest Heaven.
Now, when His bag of stars he had deplete,
When all the dark with orbs of fire was strown,
The Sower found at bottom, 'twixt two folds,
A little bit of shining sun, chipped off.
And wondering, knowing not what sphere unknown
Revolved in crimson space all incomplete,
The great Creator, at a puff, spun off
This tiny bit of sun far into space;
Then, mounting high up to His scarlet throne,
Beyond the mist of thickly scattered worlds,
Like a great crowned king whose proud eye burns
At hearing from afar His people's voice,
And He hears
The mighty Alleluia of the stars,
The choirs of glowing spheres in whirling flood
Of song and high apotheosis,
All surging to His feet in incense clouds.
He sees eternity with rapture thrilled;
He sees in one prolonged diapason
The organ of the universe, vehement, roll
For ever songs of praise to Him, the Sower.
But suddenly He pales. From starry seas
A smothered cry mounts to the upper skies;
It rises, swells, grows strong; prevailing o'er
All the ovation of the joyful spheres.
From that dim atom of the chipped orb
It comes; from wretches left forsaken, sad,
Who weep the Mother-star, incessant sought
And never found from that gray point of sky.
And the cry said "Cursed! Cursed are we, the lost
By misery led, a wretched pallid flock,
Made for the light and tossed into the dark!
"We are the banished ones; the exile band;
The only race whose eyes are filled with tears.
And if the waters of our seas be salt,
'Twas our forefathers tears that made them so.
"Be He Anathema, the Sower of Light!
Be He Anathema whom worlds adore!—
If to our native star He join us not
Be He accursed, through all creation cursed, for aye!"
Then rose the God from His great scarlet throne,
And gentle, moved, weeping as we, He stretched
His two bright arms over the flat expanse,
And in a voice of thunder launched reply:—
"Morsel of Sun, calling thyself the Earth:—
Chrysalides on her grey bounds supine:—
Humanity—sing! for I give you Death,
The Comforter, he who shall lead you back
Safe to your Star of Light,
And this is why—lofty, above mishap,
The Poet, made for stars of molten gold,
Spurns earth; his eyes; fixed on the glowing heavens,
Toward which he soon shall take his freer flight.
|How doth fond memory oft return|
To that fair spot where I was born!
My sister, those were happy days
In lovely France.
O, country mine, my latest gaze
Shall turn to France!
Remember'st thou with what fond pride,
Our lowly cottage hearth beside,
She clasped us to her gladsome breast—
Our dearest mother;
While on her hair so white, we pressed
My sister, canst thou not recall
Doré, that bathed the castle wall,
And that old Moorish tower, war-worn
From whence the gong struck out each morn
The break of day.
The tranquil lake doth mem'ry bring,
Where swallows poised on lightest wing;
The breeze by which the supple reed
The setting sun whose glory filled
Rememberest thou that tender wife,
Dearest companion of my life?
While gathering wild flowers in the grove
Heart clung to heart, and Helen's love
Flew mine to meet.
O give my Helen back to me,
My mountain, and my old oak tree!
Memory and pain, where'er I rove,
Dear country, with my heart's deep love
Around thy shrine.
|When on the cliff, or in the wood|
I muse the summer evening by,
And realize the woes of life,
I contemplate Eternity.
And through my shadow-chequered lot
GOD meets my earnest, gazing eye;
As through the dusk of tangled boughs
We catch bright glimpses of the sky.
Yes, when, at last Death claims her own,
The spirit bursts the bonds of sense,
And—like a nestling—in the tomb
Finds pinions that shall bear her thence.
|In my absence, though so short,|
You, Rosette, had changed your mind:
Learning your inconstancy,
I, another mistress find.
Never more shall charms so free
Gain ascendancy o'er me.
We shall see, oh light Rosette,
Which of us will first regret.
While with tears I pine away,
Cursing separation drear;
You, who love by force of wont,
Took another for your dear.
Never vane all lightly hung,
To the wind more swiftly swung.
We shall see, oh vain Rosette,
Which of us will first regret.
Where are all those sacred vows,—
All those tears at parting wept?
Can it be those mournful plaints
Came from heart so lightly kept?
Heavens, that you so false could be!
Who shall trust you, cursed is he.
We shall see, oh false Rosette,
Which of us will first regret.
He who to my place has climbed,
Ne'er can love you more than I;
And in beauty, love, and faith,
You're surpassed I own with joy.
Guard your new love lest he range,
Mine, the darling, knows not change.
Thus we put to proof, Rosette,
Which of us will first regret.
The simple heroic story thus enlarged into dramatic form is not unknown to the Canadian muse, but has been sung by several of her votaries, notably by Miss Machar, of Kingston; Mr. John Reade, of Montreal; and Dr. Jakeway, of Stayner.
Dr. Jakeway's verse is not so well known as it deserves to be, not only for its literary merit, but also for its patriotic fervour, the fervour of a true and loyal Canadian: I shall therefore be pardoned if I quote the closing stanzas of his "Laura Secord":
| "Braver deeds are not recorded,|
In historic treasures hoarded,
Than the march of Laura Secord through the forest, long ago.
And no nobler deed of daring
Than the cool and crafty snaring,
By that band at Beaver Dam, of all the well-appointed foe.
But we know if war should ever
Boom again o'er field and river.
And the hordes of the invader should appear within our land,
Far and wide the trumpets pealing.
Would awake the same old feeling.
And again would deeds of daring sparkle out on every hand."
A 49th man thus writes to Auchinleck, p. 178:—"Sir,—To your, account of the battle of Stony Creek I would like to add a few particulars.... At eleven o'clock at night the Light Company and Grenadiers of the 49th were under arms; every flint was taken out and every charge was drawn. Shortly after we moved on in sections, left in front, the Light Company leading the way towards the enemy's camp. I had been driven in that afternoon from Stony Creek, and was well acquainted with the ground. The cautious silence observed was most painful; not a whisper was permitted; even our footsteps were not allowed to be heard. I shall never forget the agony caused to the senses by the stealthiness with which we proceeded to the midnight slaughter. I was not aware that any other force accompanied us than the Grenadiers, and when we approached near the Creek, I ventured to whisper to Col. Harvey, 'We are close to the enemy's camp, sir.' 'Hush! I know it,' was his reply. Shortly after a sentry challenged sharply; Lieutenant Danford and the leading section rushed forward and killed him with their bayonets; his bleeding corpse was cast aside, and we moved on with breathless caution. A second challenge—who comes there?—another rush and the poor sentinel is transfixed, but his agonized dying groans alarmed a third who stood near the watch fire; he challenged, and immediately fired and fled. We all rushed forward upon the sleeping guard; few escaped; many awoke in another world. The excitement now became intense; the few who had escaped fired as they ran and aroused the sleeping army. All fled precipitately beyond the Creek, leaving their blankets and knapsacks behind.
"Our troops deployed into line and halted in the midst of the camp fires, and immediately began to replace their flints. This, though not a very lengthy operation, was one of intense anxiety, for the enemy now opened a most terrific fire, and many a brave fellow was laid low. We could only see the flash of the enemy's firelocks while we were perfectly visible to them, standing as we did in the midst of their camp fires. It was a grand and beautiful sight. No one who has not witnessed a night engagement can form any idea of the awful sublimity of the scene. The first volley from the enemy, coming from a spot as 'dark as Erebus,' seemed like the bursting forth of a volcano. Then again all was dark and still, save the moans of the wounded, the confused click! click!—noise made by our men in adjusting their flints, and the ring of the enemy's ramrods in reloading. Again the flash and roar of the musketry, the whistling of the bullets, and the crash of the cannon. 'Chaos has come again.' The anxious moments (hours in imagination) have passed; the trembling excited hands of our men have at last fastened their flints; the comparatively merry sound of the ramrod tells that the charge is driven home; soon the fire is returned with animation; the sky is illumined with continued flashes; after a sharp contest and some changes of position, our men advance in a body and the enemy's troops retire. There were many mistakes made in this action, the two greatest were removing the men's flints, and halting in the midst of the camp fires; this is the reason why the loss of the enemy was less than ours, their wounds were mostly made by our bayonets. The changes of position by different portions of each army in the dark accounts for the fact of prisoners having been made by both parties. I must give the enemy's troops great credit for having recovered from their confusion, and for having shown a bold front so very soon after their having been so suddenly and completely surprised.
"Yours, A 49TH MAN."
Of this character, of whom the writer has made a somewhat free use, Col. Coffin says: "There is a tradition in the neighbourhood that Harvey himself having borrowed the garb and waggon of a Quaker"—of which sect there were many settled in Upper Canada at the time—"penetrated into the American lines, selling potatoes and 'taking notes.' Those who can recall the commanding stature and bearing of the gallant officer maintain that this was the very last disguise in which he was likely to succeed. It is not impossible that some patriotic 'Friend' really found a good market for his produce and valuable information for Harvey."
An air to this hymn has been composed.
That the rights of the slave-holder had legal recognition in 1812 is not to be doubted, and that nearly every family of any means or repute held slaves is certain. The Bill abolishing slavery in the British Dominions did not pass until 1832, when it was introduced by Lord Stanley (the late Earl of Derby). A strong feeling in favour of its abolition had however permeated society, in consequence of the powerful representations made on the subject, both in and out of the British Parliament, by Wilberforce and Clarkson, "who had successfully shown," says Hamilton in his "Outlines of the History of England," "that the effect of this iniquitous system was no less injurious to the moral condition of the people of England than it was to the physical well-being of the African race." That no ill-feeling towards their masters generally existed in Canada in the minds of the slaves may be fairly inferred from the fact that, at their own request, a coloured regiment was formed to assist in the defence of the country in 1812, and under Captain Runchey did good service at the Battle of Queenston Heights. In this connection it is also to be remembered that large numbers of freedmen were to be found both in England and Canada—men who for faithful or special services had received the gift of freedom from their grateful and generous masters.
That the Legislature of Upper Canada was free even at that early period to deal with its domestic questions is shown by the fact that in 1793 an Act was passed at Newark, "forbidding the further introduction of slaves into the province, and ordering that 'all slave children born after the 9th of July in that year should be free on attaining the age of twenty-five.'" To this Act is due the fact that Canada was as early as 1800 a city of refuge for escaped slaves, numbers of whom found their way hither from Baltimore and Maryland. (See also Appendix.)
It has generally been stated that Mr. Secord heard of the intended surprise of Fitzgibbon by accident. The facts of the case are, however, related in the poem, Mrs. Smith, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Secord, who yet survives, being the authority.
Mrs. Smith states that with the insolence of the victorious invader, Dearborn's men came and went, ordered, or possessed themselves of, whatever they chose, and took every form of familiarity in the homes of the residents within their lines, and that it was fast becoming an anxious question with the farmers and others, what they should do for supplies if Dearborn were not ousted within the season.
—and fell a-talking, loud,|
As in defiance, of some private plan
To make the British wince.
The ill-feeling of the Americans towards British subjects can scarcely be too strongly represented for the facts. A bitter antagonism was naturally the feeling of each side so lately in the deadly struggle of a civil war. To gloss over this state of things, deplorable as it was, and as its results have often been, is to belie history, and to no good or useful end. Had the contention been akin to a mere friendly tug-of-war, as some would have it represented now, lest a growing friendliness should be endangered, it would be necessary for the historian to re-write all that has been written, for otherwise the arguments of contention would have no meaning, no raison d'être; in fact, they could never have been formulated, for the premisses would have been wanting. "He is the best cosmopolite, who for his country lives." says some one, and it is to this truth that the peace of the world, which we all wish to see established, will be owing, not to any false representations in place of facts.
|That hate to England, not our country's name|
And weal, impelled mad Madison upon this war,
And shut the mouths of thousand higher men than be.
"The Democratic Party," says Col. Coffin (see "Chronicle of the War," pp. 30-1-3), "eager to humble Britain, accepted any humiliation rather than quarrel with France. They submitted to the capture of ships, the sequestration of cargoes, the ransom of merchandise, with a faint remonstrance. French war ships seized American merchantmen at sea—plundered and burnt them. They consoled themselves with the belief that the anticipated triumph of the French Emperor in Europe would ensure their supremacy on this continent. They were prepared to divide the world between them...." In the words of the historian Alison, "the ostensible object of the war was to establish the principle that the flag covers the merchandise, and that the right of search for seamen who have deserted is inadmissible; the real object was to wrest from Great Britain the Canadas, and, in conjunction with Napoleon, extinguish its maritime and colonial empire. Politicians, too, of this early American school had a notion that French connection and the conquest of Canada were synonymous terms. This was a great mistake ... but ... it had an unexpected good effect, for the very suggestion of a French policy, or the exercise of French influence, tested the British feeling still latent in the hearts of thousands of Americans. In the New England States a war with England was denounced.... Citizens of these States expressed an abhorrence of France, and of its rule, and protested against the contemplated introduction of French troops on this continent, which, under the pretext of subduing or seducing the French-Canadians, might prove to be subversive of their own liberties.
"It is probable that to this spirit of truthful independence may be ascribed the fact that during the whole of the ensuing war (1812-15) the immense extent of frontier between Lower Canada and the States of Vermont and New Hampshire and Maine was unassailed by an enemy.... No hostile irruption was attempted upon the Province from Lake Champlain to the ocean.... War was declared on the 18th June, 1812, by Act of Congress. Mr. Madison, then President, who had done all in his power to exasperate the existing ill-will, and to lash the popular mind to frenzy, eluded the responsibility of the fatal act, and made a cat's paw of the Legislature."
The people of the United States were disunited on the subject of the war.... The Legislature of Maryland openly denounced the war. The Governments of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island had refused the quota of militia demanded of these States respectively. Such men as Quincey declared in the House of Representatives at Washington that "since the invasion of the Buccaneers, there was nothing in history more disgraceful than this war." The same view of President Madison's action is also held by Auchinleck, Christie, and, indeed, by every trustworthy historian of the time.
In 1812 the vast promise of the West had begun to attract public interest. The discovery of the Columbia River in Oregon, including what is now Washington Territory, was made by Captain Gray, of Boston, in 1792, and upon this was based the general claim of the United States to the Territory. The British, however, held a prior claim of occupation and discovery. In 1804-6 Captains Lewis and Clarke explored the whole country from the mouth of the Missouri to the mouth of the Columbia, and in 1811 Fort Astoria was built. The Treaty of 1845 settled the question of claim to this Territory in common with other Western lands in favour of the United States. Although California was not largely settled by United States subjects until the Treaty of 1844, yet its reputation for being a gold-bearing country was well established, and had been increasing in public regard from the time of its first exploration by Sir Francis Drake in 1570, who expressed a strong opinion as to its auriferous character. Long before the famous expedition of Colonel Fremont across "the plains," numerous trails, too often marked by the white bones of their victims, bore testimony to the dauntless courage and sanguine enterprise that has opened up the great empire of the West.
It would be a work of supererogation to say anything of Major-General Sir Isaac Brock here, so completely is his name enshrined in Canadian history, literature, and tradition. I may, however, be pardoned if I quote a few descriptive sentences to be found in "A Chapter of the War of 1812," by Col. William Stanley Hatch, Acting Assistant Quartermaster-General of the army with Hull at Detroit.
"General Brock was an officer of distinction. His personal appearance was commanding; he must have been six feet three or four inches in height, very massive and large boned, though not fleshy, and apparently of immense muscular power. His Aides were elegant young men, very near, if not quite six feet in height, and in their splendid uniforms all three presented a brilliant appearance. But how transitory and evanescent the gratification of that day and that event!" [the taking of Detroit]. "In a few short weeks—less than two months—on the 13th October, 1812, two of these noble men and gentlemanly officers had fallen. At this distant day I feel it due to myself and to them to record the sentiment of regret which impressed itself upon my mind when the announcement came that General Brock and Colonel MacDonell, public enemies as they were, had terminated their earthly career at Queenston."
Lieutenant-Colonel MacDonell, A.D.C. to General Brock, was "one of five sons of a brother of MacDonell, Laird of Glengarry, who bore a prominent part in supporting Prince Charles, called the Pretender.... The family came out to this country shortly after the American Revolution, and settled in the County of Glengarry among other Scotch settlers, who had been located on lands in that county upon the disbanding of the regiment known as the Royal Highland Emigrants. Lieutenant-Colonel MacDonell came up to Toronto (then York) and studied law, and was appointed Attorney-General of the Province when a very young man, and afterwards accompanied, as aide-de-camp, General Brock at Detroit and Queenston," where he gloriously fell in the gallant charge that followed the fall of Brock.—Extract of private letter. (See also Appendix.)
"I have heard that he (Lieut.-Col. MacDonell) was brought up by the late Hon. Alexander MacDonell, who gave him a valuable piece of property in the then Town of York to start him in the legal profession. On his way up the Niagara River with General Brock, having a kind of presentiment of what might happen, the Colonel made his will, and bequeathed the land referred to, to James MacDonell, eldest son of the Hon. Alexander MacDonell. The land is now owned by the widow of James (Mrs. M. S. MacDonell, living at 305 Bathurst Street). It comprised the west side of Church Street, from Wellington Street to King Street, and went some distance west."—Extract of private letter.
Beside the lady above mentioned, several connections of Lieut.-Col. MacDonell reside in Toronto, among them W. J. MacDonell, Esq., French Vice-Consul; Angus D. MacDonell, Inland Revenue Department; and Alex. MacDonell, Esq., Osgoode Hall. The late Bishop MacDonell was also of this family, as were most of the MacDonells who grace the pages of Canadian histories of the War of 1812.
Captain James Dennis—the third of the trio whom Mrs. Secord apostrophises—then Lieutenant, had been among the wounded on board the Monarch man-of-war at Copenhagen, but recovered so as to accompany his regiment to Canada. In 1812 he was in charge of one of the two flank companies of the 49th, stationed at Queenston, and gallantly led the defence, directing the one-gun battery and holding the enemy completely in check until their discovery of a path to the summit of the Height turned the scale on the wrong side, where it stood until the arrival of General Brock. In the splendid charge up-hill Captain Dennis was wounded, and, it was supposed, killed; he, however, bravely kept the field until the day was won, despite pain and weakness. He was not related to the Dennises of York, and Buttonwood, near Weston; but two members of this family were in the York militia, and served at Queenston. The late Bishop Richardson, an uncle of theirs, also served in the navy on the lakes, where he lost an arm.
This lady was the widow of Stephen, an elder brother of James Secord, who, in conjunction with another brother, David, a major in the militia, and after whom the village was named, built and owned the grist mill at St. David's. Stephen Secord appears to have died some years previous to the war, leaving a family of several sons. With the wisdom and spirit of a sensible woman the widow carried on the business, and thereby brought up her family. During the war all her sons were variously engaged in it with the exception of the youngest, and in the absence of sufficient help the widow worked with her own hands, turning out flour for which the Government paid her twenty dollars a barrel. Many of the Secords who are to be found scattered through the Province at the present time are children of her sons.
This character is singular in being the only pure invention in the poem; and the name was chosen as being most unlikely to be borne by any one in the neighbourhood of Queenston. By one of those coincidences, however, that are not unknown, it appears that there was a Captain Mosier living at Newark in 1812, and commanding a vessel on Lake Ontario. Captain Mosier was of some service to the British Government, and on one occasion was able to be of special use in carrying off and concealing, until the mischievous effect was over, a somewhat hot-headed gentleman who in the ardour of his loyalty had thought it his solemn duty to cross the river and bayonet the sentinel at Fort Niagara.
—all is pretty quiet still|
Since Harvey struck them dumb at Stony Creek.
Along the Lake bold Yeb holds them fast,
And Erie-way, Bishopp and Evans back him,
"On the withdrawal of the British troops, the battlefield of Stony Creek was, as before said, for a short space re-occupied by the Americans under Colonel Burns, a cavalry officer, upon whom the command had devolved. He merely remained long enough to destroy the tents ... and stores. He then rapidly retired to the protection of the lines of Fort George, though in executing this manoeuvre he was intercepted and suffered much. On their advance the Americans had been accompanied all along the lake shore by a flotilla of boats and batteaux. Burns fell back upon this support, and embarked his wounded, and such of his men as had not yet got under cover, and was slowly creeping down the coast to the place from whence he came, when, on the 8th June, Sir James Yeo, who by this time had become master of his own movements, and had got out of Kingston, appeared in the offing; intelligence from the shore had apprised him of the state of things, and of the position of the enemy; and Richardson (the late James Richardson, D.D.) dwells with sailorly impatience on the perversity of a calm.... A breeze sprung up and the squadron closed in with the shore, cutting off the twelve rearmost boats of the American flotilla, laden with valuable supplies and stores. Perceiving an encampment in the woods on the beach, the Commodore disembarked in the ship's boats two companies of regulars under Major Evans of the 8th Regiment. This active officer landed, and in the evening having been reinforced by two companies from Burlington Heights under Colonel Bishopp, the second deserted American camp was entered. It was in a state of conflagration, ... but the captors saved from the flames 500 tents, 140 barrels of flour, 100 stand of arms.... Thus did this exploit of Harvey free the whole Peninsula from the invaders, and threw them back upon the mere edge of the frontier with a deep and dangerous river in their rear, between them and their supports and supplies."—Col. Coffin's Chronicles of the War of 1812. (See also Appendix.)
| She, our neighbour
This brave woman was Mrs. Maria Hill, a soldier's wife, who pitying the hungry condition of men who had been called out before day-break on a cold October morning, to meet a foe already in partial occupation and temporarily victorious, had no means of procuring or cooking supplies, and indeed could not even break their fast, except by the intervention of those whose property they, for the time, had been unable to defend. Mrs. Hill carried her little stores on to the field, and leaving her babe, who crowed and cheered, it is said, as though mightily diverted by the sight of the red-coats, under the shelter of a wood-pile, lighted fires, boiled water, and carried tea and food to as many of the men on the field as she could supply.
This lady was the daughter of Stephen, first Earl of Ilchester, and accompanied her husband, Major John Dyke-Acland, to Canada in 1776.
The story put into the mouth of Sergeant George Mosier may be found in the Saturday Magazine for May, 1835, and also in Burke's "Romance of the Aristocracy." Her beauty, bravery and tender love for her husband made the name of Lady Harriet Acland an honour and delight among the men of her husband's regiment, and thus it is that Sergeant Mosier is made her historian with great propriety.
In the Gentleman's Magazine for February, 1778, I also find the following note, p. 69, in "Extracts from the Congress Accounts of the Northern Expeditions":
"Oct. 11.—Some letters passed between the Generals, the first from Gen. Burgoyne, by Lady Acland, whose husband was dangerously wounded, recommending her Ladyship to the care and protection of Gen. Gates. Gen. Gates's answer, in which he expresses his surprise that his Excellency, after considering his preceding conduct, should think that he could consider the greatest attention to Lady Acland in the light of an obligation."
The Baroness Reidessel, the wife of one of the officers of the Hessians. This lady, together with the wives of Major Harnage and Lieutenant Reynell, was with Lady Acland during the painful march that preceded the action of the 19th September, 1777. They had followed the route of the artillery and baggage as being less likely of attack on the road, and when the engagement begun found themselves at a little uninhabited hut, from whence they could hear the roll of the guns that were carrying death to scores of brave men. Here they had to endure a great trial, for their only refuge was also the only place to which the wounded, who soon began to arrive in great numbers, could be brought for first care. Soon Major Harnage was brought in desperately wounded. Not long after the news arrived that Lieutenant Reynell was shot dead, and before the day was done Major Acland was a prisoner dangerously wounded. Herself saved for the present such terrible trials, Baroness Reidessel distinguished herself by her ministrations to her suffering companions, and to the dying and wounded around, thus gaining the affectionate remembrance of many a poor fellow who had no other ray of comfort in his anguish.
This, together with "The King: God bless him," and "The Duke of York's March" were at this period new and favourite tunes all over the British Empire. In the Times, Oct. 3, 1798, under the heading "Drury Lane Theatre," it is reported that "after the play the news of Admiral Nelson's victory (over the French under Admiral Brueys at Rosetta) produced a burst of patriotic exultation that has been rarely witnessed in a theatre. 'Rule Britannia' was lustily called for from every part of the house, and Messrs. Kelly, Dignum, Sedgwick, Miss Leak and Mrs. Bland came forward and sang it, accompanied by numbers of the audience. It was called for and sung a second time. The acclamations were the loudest and most fervent we have ever witnessed. The following lines, written for the occasion, were introduced by Mr. Dignum and Mr. Sedgwick:
|"'Again the tributary strain|
Of grateful Britons, let us raise;
And to the heroes on the main,
Triumphant add a Nelson's praise.
Though the "Great Nation" proudly boasts
Herself invincible to be,
Yet oft brave Nelson still can prove
Britannia Mistress of the Sea.'
"The audience was not satisfied with this repeated mark of exultation, but in the effusion of enthusiasic loyalty called for 'God Save the King,' which was received with reiterated plaudits."
In another column of the same issue it is told that, "A person last night in the gallery of Drury Lane House calling frequently in a boisterous manner for the tune of 'Britons, Strike Home!' was immediately silenced by the appropriate observation of another at some distance from him, 'Why, damn it, they have, haven't they?'"
The great popularity of "Rule Britannia" was owing to its entire consonance with the spirit of the nation, a popularity not even yet diminished. A further instance of its use in the celebration of a great national event is given in the Times, Nov. 7, 1805, in which is recorded the official account of the Battle of Trafalgar and the death of Nelson. At Covent Garden, where both the Kembles were then playing together with Mrs. Siddons, a "hasty but elegant compliment to the memory of Lord Nelson" was presented. It "consisted of columns in the foreground decorated with medallions of the naval heroes of Britain. In the distance a number of ships were seen, and the front of the picture was filled by Mr. Taylor and the principal singers of the theatre. They were grouped in an interesting manner with their eyes turned toward the clouds, from whence a half-length portrait of Lord Nelson descended with the following words underwritten, 'Horatio Nelson, Ob. 21st Oct.'" Mr. Taylor and the other performers then sang "Rule Britannia," verse and chorus. The following additional verse, written by Mr. Ashley, of Bath, was introduced and sung by Mr. Taylor with the most affecting expression. It was universally encored:—
|"Again the loud-toned trump of fame,|
Proclaims Britannia rules the main;
While sorrow whispers Nelson's name,
And mourns the gallant hero slain.
Rule, brave Britons, rule the main.
Revenge the God-like hero slain."
The cruel treatment of the Loyalists, or King's Men, by the Continentals, as they called themselves, is one of the features of this painful time, records of which abound: the story of Moody is well known: another as authentic may be here quoted. The Rev. G. A. Anderson, late Chaplain to the Reformatory at Penetanguishene, in writing to the press with reference to the U. E. L. Celebration in 1884, says:
"My grandfather, Samuel Anderson, was born of Irish parents, near Boston, 4th May, 1736.... He joined the King's forces, serving under General Abercrombie ... then under General Amherst, ... and was at the taking of Ticonderoga.... In 1775 he was offered a captaincy in the Continental service which he peremptorily refused. Some time after he was offered the command of a regiment; this he also refused. He was at once suspected of being a King's Man, taken prisoner, and with several others, confined in Litchfield gaol, where he suffered almost death for two years. One morning, having heard that he and his fellow-prisoners were to be shot the following day, being a powerful man he wrenched the iron bars from the windows, and, with his companions, escaped to Canada....
A quotation from the "Boston Confiscation Act," Sept., 1778, ch. 48, speaks volumes as to the attitude of the new Republic towards the Loyalists: "In Massachusetts a person suspected of enmity to the Whig cause could be arrested under a magistrate's warrant, and banished, unless he would swear fealty to the friends of liberty; and the select-men of towns could prefer charges of political treachery in town meetings, and the individual thus accused, if convicted by a jury, could be sent into the enemy's jurisdiction. Massachusetts also designated by name, and generally by occupation and residence, three hundred and eight of her people, of whom seventeen had been inhabitants of Maine who had fled from their houses, and denounced against any one of them who should return apprehension, imprisonment and transportation to a place possessed by the British, and for a second voluntary return, without leave, death, without the benefit of clergy. By another law the property of twenty-nine persons, who were denominated 'notorious conspirators,' was confiscated; of these fifteen had been appointed 'Mandamus Councillors,' two had been Governors, one Lieutenant-Governor, one Treasurer, one Attorney-General, one Chief Justice and four Commissioners of Customs."—Lorenzo Sabine, Historical Essay prefixed to Biographical Sketches of the American Loyalists. (See further, chapters 39 and 41, vol. 2, Ryerson's Loyalists of America and Their Times. See also Appendix.)
The name of Coffin is famous in the annals, military, naval and civil, of Canada, and is scarcely less marked in the history of the earlier United States of America. Two branches of the family came, U. E. Loyalists, to Canada in 1775-78. One established itself on the St. John, New Brunswick, the other in Quebec. "Twenty years after the landing from the Mayflower, the first of the name put in an appearance from Brixton, near Plymouth, South Devon, England, at Newbury Port, in New Hampshire." James Coffin, mentioned above, was the sixth son of John Coffin, who settled in Quebec, and did such good service at the Près-de-ville, when Montgomery and Arnold invaded the Province. Like all the Coffins, James was of a genial and kindly disposition, and his appointment as a Commissary Officer permitted opportunities for consideration and courtesy to people of all ranks, which he did not fail to avail himself of. He died Assistant Commissary-General in 1835, at Quebec.
"To the soldiers of this regiment (the 41st), as indeed to all others, every temptation had been presented to induce them to desert and enlist in their service, by money, land, etc. After it was found impossible to persuade any number of them to do so the American Government encamped them, for nearly two months, in a pestilential marsh near Sandusky without covering." (See Dr. Strachan's letter, as Treasurer of the Loyal and Patriotic Society of Upper Canada, to Thomas Jefferson, Esq., Ex-President of the United States of America.)
This was a ridge of high land clad with beeches which overhung a hollow in the road to Beaver Dam, and now forms the basin of the Welland Canal. "The spot," says Colonel Coffin, "which then rang with the outcries of the combatants now resounds with the hum of industry and the working-chant of the sailor."
This is Tengmalm's Owl, or Death-bird. "The Indians of North America," says Rev. J. G. Wood, "have a superstition that whoever hears the note of this bird must whistle in reply, and if the bird returns no answer the person will die within the year."
Decau's farm house at the Beaver Dam was British headquarters more than once during the War of 1812. Close to this famous spot the town of Thorold now stands, and the interested visitor may reach it by tram-car from St. Catharines. Decau's Falls, near by, preserve the memory of the ancient settler on the spot in less correct orthography, Decew and less euphonious form than the original, which is said to have been also, Decamps.
Another form of it may be found in "Loyalists of America," p, 243:
"In the summer of 1800 my mother had a very nice help as nurse. Jenny Decow had been apprenticed to a relative, and at the age of eighteen, she received her bed, her cow, and two or three suits of clothing (those articles it was customary to give to a bound girl) and she was considered legally of age, with the right to earn her own living as best she could. ... Jenny had a wooer, ... young Daniel McCall made his appearance."
This brave officer is thus described in the letter of "A Green 'Un," I have elsewhere quoted, and which was written in 1852, at which date Colonel Fitzgibbon was yet alive:—"Colonel Fitzgibbon has long been known in Canada, in both a civil and a military capacity, and if he was now present he would be able to give you much more interesting and valuable information. At the time of this attack" (Black Rock, July 12th, 1813), "he was a Lieutenant in the 49th, and his daring spirit and energy of character were well known to the whole army. General Vincent had placed him in command of a sort of independent company of Rangers. Volunteers from the different regiments were asked for, and strange to say so many men offered that it was difficult to decide who should be permitted to go. From the numerous young subs. desirous of joining him he selected his friend Lieutenant Winder of the 49th (now Dr. Winder, Librarian to the House of Assembly at Quebec), Volunteer D. A. McDonnell of the 8th, Volunteer Augustus Thompson of the 49th; and another youngster of the 49th (the late Judge Jarvis, of Cornwall) who were permitted as a great favour to join his corps." Colonel Coffin in his "Chronicles of the War of 1812," gives a very full account of Colonel Fitzgibbon's career, of which only a brief outline is proper here. Colonel James Fitzgibbon was the son of an English farmer, had a little early education, and acquired a fondness for reading; his passion for arms was irresistible. At seventeen he enlisted, and the same day, 25th, October, 1798, was made a sergeant. At twenty-one he was made Sergeant-Major. He served in Ireland and before Copenhagen, where the 49th acted as marines. He was appointed to an ensigncy and adjutancy, and came to Canada. In 1809 he succeeded to a lieutenancy; and resigned the adjutancy to command a small detachment in the field. His exploits at the Beaver Dam gave him his company. He thus rose by dint of meritorious service, at a time when commissions and promotions were not so freely given to deserving men as they are now. On this, and on all other occasions, during the war, Fitzgibbon made his mark.
"At the close of the war, he settled in Canada, and filled many offices of honour and emolument under the Government. His last appointment was that of Clerk to the Legislative Council. He retired on a pension, and returned to his native land, when, in just appreciation of his services, he was made a Military Knight of Windsor."
The first name of this great newspaper was The Daily Universal Register, but it had taken its latest title as early as 1801. An issue of that date containing the official accounts of the Battle of Copenhagen is in the writer's possession.
The 11th October had been first decided upon for the invasion of Queenston, but it proved one of those fierce October days that drench the earth with a cold rain, making roads into quagmires, and rivers into torrents, stripping the trees of their leafy honours, and not unfrequently tearing them up by the roots. The 13th opened cold and gray, but developed into a fine fall day, much to the convenience of the invaders. (See also Appendix.)
"And our gallant General fell on his left side within a few feet of where I stood. Running up to him, I enquired, 'Are you much hurt, sir?' He placed his hand on his breast but made no reply, and sunk slowly down."—Mr. G. S. Jarvis (the late Judge Jarvis, of Cornwall), in Auchinleck's History of the War of 1812, p. 105.
Mr. Jarvis was taken prisoner at Queenston, but was exchanged for a Captain of militia within a week.
The noble mind is always alert to see that he who cannot take care of himself shall be tenderly cared for, and that the more fully, the more he is exposed to injury by the prominence or delicacy of his position.
In 1812 the King's malady, which in 1805 is recorded to have affected his eyes to such a degree that "he had to wear a green shade ... after candle-light," and could not "distinguish any person unless he be very near," and by the assistance of a glass, had increased to such an extent that Prince George had to be appointed Regent, and there were not wanting those who chose the opportunity to laugh at and depreciate the King's character.
Annee-meekee is the Ojibway for the thunder; "dart of" consequently is the lightning.
The majority of the men with Fitzgibbon at Beaver Dam belonged to the 49th Regiment, to which Fitzgibbon himself belonged. It was also Brock's regiment. He had joined it in 1791 at Barbadoes. The regiment being removed to Jamaica, Brock was thence obliged to get leave of absence in 1793 on account of his health. On June 24, 1795, after doing recruiting service both in England and Jersey, he purchased his majority. Next year his regiment returned from Jamaica, and on the 25th October, 1797, he purchased his lieutenant-colonelcy, and soon after became senior lieutenant-colonel. In August, 1799, the 49th Regiment was ordered to Holland as part of the force under Sir Ralph Abercrombie. On the return of the expedition, the 49th was again quartered in Jersey until the spring of 1801, when it was despatched with the fleet for the Baltic under Sir Hyde Parker. The same year the 49th returned to England, and in the next spring was sent to Canada where it took up its quarters at York (Toronto). On the flag of the regiment is inscribed "Egmont-op-Zee," "Copenhagen," "Queenstown," and its colours and appointments bear the word "China" and the device of the Dragon.
Of the career of the 49th Regiment in Canada during the war of 1812-15, it is impossible to speak too highly. From their brilliancy of attack and energy in action the American soldiers dubbed them the "Green Tigers," and on the fatal day at Queenston, those of the wounded who had passed over "had described the charge of the 'Green Tigers' and militia in the morning, and had warned them what they might expect if they came in contact with troops infuriated by the loss of their beloved General" (Auchinleck, p. 106.) That the 49th revelled in the honour conferred by such a soubriquet is clear from the fact that Fitzgibbon's company dubbed themselves "Fitzgibbon's Green 'Uns," and one of them, the late Judge Jarvis, of Cornwall, then a cadet of eighteen, says, over the nom de plume' "A Green 'Un," in Auchinleck: "We were all dressed in green uniform made from clothing which had been taken from the enemy."
In a private letter to the writer Judge Jarvis says, under date Cornwall, 7th November, 1876: "The uniform of the 49th was, of course, of a scarlet colour with green facings, rather a light green. Around the edges of the cuffs and collar was a band of gold lace one inch wide, thus (a drawing is given).
"The militia had no uniform during the War of 1812; they were furnished with a blanket only." At the taking of Fort Detroit the militia are generally said to have been in uniform, but these were only a few and in the first engagement.
"The Americans wore coarse grey or blue cloth, mostly the former." Homespun; in pursuance of the line of action required by the blockade. "One regiment, the Irish Greens, wore dark green cloth, but they were not at either Stony Creek or Beaver Dam."
| —and the Queen's, too,|
Who loves all nobleness.
Queen Charlotte's intense admiration for all nobility of character is well exemplified by Sir Walter Scott in Jennie Deans ("Heart of Midlothian"), to whom she showed the most marked kindness and sympathy. This was but one instance out of many which were well known and duly appreciated by the British people.
James Cummings, of Chippewa, was engaged in the Indian trade. He accompanied Clark's plucky expedition on Black Rock, when they surprised the work, captured the guard together with several stand of arms, one brass six-pounder, and a large store of provisions. On Bishopp hearing of this exploit, he fired up, "Hang the fellow, he has got before me. By Jove, it was well done; we'll try it again." And he did, as history tells.
"The site of St. Catharines, formerly known as the Twelve-Mile Creek or Shipman's Corners, after the oldest inhabitant of the place, was first selected as a country residence by the Hon. Robert Hamilton, father of the Hamilton who gave his name to the flourishing and rising city which still bears it, so early as the year 1800, at which period he owned the mills afterwards known as the Thomas's Mills, upon the Twelve-Mile Creek, up to which point boats at that time ascended. But it was not until after the war, viz., in 1816, that the town-plot of St. Catharines was first purchased and laid out as a village by the Hon. W. H. Merritt and Jonathan H. Clendennen, and received the name of St. Catharines, in honour of Mrs. Robert Hamilton, whose name was Catharine."
—Anglo-American Magazine, vol. 3, p. 129.
These were the household of Miss Tourney, an intimate friend of Mrs. Secord, and owner of a large farm some three miles beyond Beaver Dam. To this house Mrs. Secord proceeded, accompanied by an escort furnished by Lieut. Fitzgibbon, but, it need hardly be said, not exactly in the manner described. Here "she slept right off, for she had journeyed on foot twenty miles, and safely, God be praised." Mrs. Secord returned to her anxious husband on the third day after having started on her perilous undertaking, but neither through the woods, nor on foot, thanks to her brave deed, and the success of British arms.
This incident, which Col. Coffin places as preceding the occupation of Beaver Dam by Fitzgibbon, is thus described by Judge Jarvis in a letter subsequent to the one already quoted, and which was apparently dictated by the awakening of did memories by the enquiries that led to the former letter: "Although I write with great labour and pain" [the result of rheumatism] "I cannot refrain from giving you the following incident. Lieut. Fitzgibbon, who always preferred going on any dangerous expedition to sending any other person, on receiving the information of the patriotic woman, went forward to reconnoitre. On approaching a small tavern two American soldiers came out of the door, and immediately presented their rifles. He seized the rifles, and crossed them in front of his person" [Col. Coffin says: He seized the musket of the more advanced man and by main strength threw him upon his fellow, whose musket he also grappled with the other hand'] "so that neither could fire without shooting his fellow-soldier. Here he held them until one of them drew Lieut. Fitzgibbon's sword, and held it up over his head, of course intending to stab him forthwith. The woman of the house saw the position, and rushed out and seized the sword, and got it from the soldier's hand. Fitzgibbon then tripped up one of the soldiers and felled the other with a blow, then took them both prisoners and marched them into the line occupied by his company."
It is a pity this brave woman's name cannot be discovered in order that it might be added to the roll of those patriotic women whose names adorn Canadian history.
Lieutenant-Colonel Clark, of the 2nd Lincoln Militia, was, says Colonel Coffin, "a Scotchman by birth." He "was an Indian trader and forwarder of goods to the Western hunting grounds; a member of the firm of Street & Clark.... From the first outbreak of the war Clark was foremost in frontier frail. He had acquired the confidence of his men, and obtained the cordial co-operation of those who, like Bishopp, understood volunteers, and could appreciate the merits of the extemporaneous soldier."
These were militia. "Old Isaac Kelly," says Colonel Coffin (Chronicles of the War of 1812), "born and raised on 48 Thorold, a septuagenarian, hale and hearty, who still [in 1864] lives not a mile from the spot, tells how, when he was a boy of eighteen, and was in the act of 'hitching up' his horses for the plough, he heard the firing in the wood, and outcries of the Indians; how he ran to his two brothers, both a-field; how the three got their muskets—they were all militiamen—men home to put in a crop; how, led by the sounds, they crossed the country to the beech grove, meeting eight or ten more by the way, suddenly roused, like themselves; how, from behind the trees, they opened fire on the American train, and on the guns which were then unlimbering to the rear, and how the Americans, more worried and bothered than hurt, changed their position, and took-up ground in David Millar's apple orchard."
Not altogether without reason. "We frightened the enemy," says Judge Jarvis, in a letter before quoted, "with our Indians, and from sounding the bugle on different positions to make them suppose we were numerous, and had them surrounded."
"Particulars of the capitulation made between Captain McDowell, on the part of Lieutenant-Colonel Boerstler, of the United States Army, and Major De Haren, of his Britannic Majesty's Canadian Regiment, on the part of Lieutenant Colonel Bishopp, commanding the advance of the British, respecting the force under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Boerstler:
"Article 1.—That Lieutenant-Colonel Boerstler and the forces under his command shall surrender prisoners of war.
"Article 2.—That the officers shall retain their arms, horses and baggage.
"Article 3.—That the non-commissioned officers and soldiers shall lay down their arms at the head of the British column, and shall become prisoners of war.
"Article 4.—That the militia and volunteers with Lieutenant-Colonel Boerstler shall be permitted to return to the United States on parole.
"Captain of the United States Light Artillery.
"Acceded to and signed,
"P. G. BOERSTLER,
"Lieut.-Col. commanding detachment United States Army.
"P. V. DE HAREN,
"Major Canadian Regiment."
—Auchinleck's History of the War, p. 175.
These were the insignia of a captain's rank in those days, and as Major De Haren is made to predict, Lieutenant Fitzgibbon won his company by the exploit of Beaver Dam.
Proctor's irresolution, timidity, or want of promptness, led to many disasters, notably that at Moraviantown, and at length was his own destruction.
James says, "No sooner had the American Army got possession of the Niagara frontier [27th May, 1813] than officers with parties were sent to every farmhouse and hovel in the neighbourhood to exact a parole from the male inhabitants of almost every age. Some were glad of this excuse for remaining peaceably at their houses, and those who made any opposition were threatened to be sent across the river, and thrown into a noisome prison."
|The substance all too poor and sparse|
Our stinted fields may grow.
The war was declared on the 18th of June, and at once every able male in the Provinces sprang to arms. The necessary absence from their farms thus forced upon them curtailed the sowing, and lessened the harvest, though the women and children of every rank did their utmost to countervail the losses thus threatened. The next year there was less to sow and less, consequently, to reap, notwithstanding the leave granted to the militia at all possible junctures, to attend to their work; but intermittent farming is not more successful than other occasionally prosecuted labour, and the war laid bare many previously fruitful clearings.
An extraordinary danger attended the bite of the rattlesnake in the case of a married woman. The Jenny Decow alluded to in Note 23 had become Mrs. McCall, and while working in the field with her husband was bitten. Her husband killed the snake, thinking, according to the ideas of the time, that by so doing he should save his wife's life; he also sucked the poison from the wound; but before he had carried her to her cottage the foot had burst. An Indian remedy was applied, but it was years before she recovered from the effects of that bite. In the meantime two children were born, each of whom turned spotted and sore, and then died. A third born after her recovery was strong and healthy, and grew to manhood.
|Oh, at the mill my brother lies|
Just at the point of death.
This was Mr. Charles Ingersoll, after whom Mrs. Secord named her only son. He had been wounded, and lay at St. David's Mill in a very precarious condition. He recovered, however, to fight again, and to become one of Woodstock's most prominent citizens.
This is the small fritillary, a beautiful little creature that may be seen flitting from blossom to blossom, or careering in the early summer air in the manner almost of a tumbler pigeon, before any other of its kind has left its winter's cradle. It is beautifully marked, of a golden brown, and the edges, of the wings are bordered with a narrow vandyking of pearly gray.
"Wolves were the pests of the country for many years, and even after they were partially expelled by the settlers, they used to make occasional descents upon the settlements, and many a farmer that counted his sheep by twenties at night would be thankful if he could muster half a score in the morning."-See Ryerson's Loyalists, p. 246.
Auchinleck says, "From the 8th of July" [Chippewa was fought on the 4th] "to the 23rd of the month, General Brown, with his enormous force, was content to remain without striking a blow, unless an occasional demonstration before Forts George and Mississaga, or the wanton conflagration of the village of St David's, be considered as such."
Of this atrocity an American officer, a Major McFarland, writes:—"The militia and Indians plundered and burnt every thing. The whole population is against us; not a foraging party but is fired on, and not infrequently returns with missing numbers. This state was to be anticipated The militia have burnt several private dwelling-houses, and, on the 19th instant, burnt the village of St. David's, consisting of about thirty or forty houses. This was done within three miles of camp, and my battalion was sent to cover the retreat, as they [the militia] had been sent to scour the country, and it was presumed they might be pursued. My God, what a service! I never witnessed such a scene, and had not the commanding officer of the party, Lieutenant-Colonel Stone, been disgraced" [he was dismissed the service by sentence of a court-martial for this deed] "and sent out of the army, I should have resigned my commission."
This disgust was not caused by any half-heartedness in the war on the part of Major McFarland, for he says in the same letter that "he desires no better fun than to fight the British troops."
So impossible did it appear to the Indian that a woman should be found traversing alone so strongly invested a section of the country, that it was with the greatest difficulty Mrs. Secord persuaded him of the truth of her story.
|Nay, five and forty, one by one,|
Have borne her from the day.
From 1813 to 1860, seven and forty. Five is, however, used as a division of equality.
|And when from o'er the parting seas,|
A royal letter came.
"When, in 1860, the Prince of Wales was at Niagara, he went to see the aged lady, and from her own lips heard the tale; and, learning that her fortune did not equal her fame, he sent her, most delicately and most gracefully, the sum of one hundred guineas. God bless him for that, is the aspiration of every true Canadian heart. He is his mother's true son."—Col. Coffin's Chronicles of the War of 1812.
The first act of the Crown which Her Majesty was called upon to perform was the signing of the death-warrant of a soldier who had been sentenced to be shot for desertion. The Queen took it keenly, and asked the Duke of Wellington if there was no possible plea on which the man could be respited: had he no good quality?
"Your Majesty, he is a very bad soldier, having deserted three times; but I believe he is a good husband."
"Oh, thank you," the Queen replied, and wrote "Pardoned" across the document.
This touching incident, bright example as it is of that fine sense of duty that has built up the renown of the British Army, is related in his charming volume, "The Emigrant," by Sir Francis Bond Head. The author, in introducing it, says: "In the different regions of the globe it has been my fortune to visit, I have always experienced great pleasure in pausing for a few minutes at the various spots which have been distinguished by some feat or other of British enterprise, British mercy, British honesty, British generosity or British valour.
"About the time I was in Canada a trifling circumstance occurred on the breaking up of the ice, which I feel proud to record.
"In the middle of the great St. Lawrence there is, nearly opposite Montreal, an island called St. Helen's, between which and the shore the stream, about three quarters of a mile broad, runs with very great rapidity, and yet, notwithstanding this current, the intense cold of winter invariably freezes its surface.
"The winter which I am speaking of was unusually severe, and the ice on the St. Lawrence particularly thick; however, while the river beneath was rushing towards the sea, the ice was waiting in abeyance in the middle of the stream until the narrow fastness between Montreal and St. Helen's should burst, and allow the whole mass to break into pieces, and then in stupendous confusion to hurry downwards towards Quebec." The story follows, and in winding up the account Sir Francis says: "Colour-Sergeant William Delaney, and Private George Morgan, of the 24th Regiment now at Chatham, were eye-witnesses of the above occurrence."
The dangers Sergeant Neill so bravely encountered are thus graphically depicted by Sir Francis B. Head on p. 42 of the same volume, in describing the breaking up of the ice of the River Humber, a stream not a tenth of the length or breadth of the St. Lawrence, so that the scene bears but a slight comparison to that witnessed on the larger river. "... As soon as the great movement commenced, these trees and the ice were hurried before my eyes in indescribable confusion. Every piece of ice, whatever might be its shape or size, as it proceeded, was either revolving horizontally or rearing up on end until it reeled over; sometimes a tree striking against the bottom would rise slowly up, and for a moment stand erect as if it grew out of the river; at other times it would, apparently for variety's sake, stand on its head with its roots uppermost and then turn over; sometimes the ice as it proceeded would rise up like a house and chimneys, and then rolling head over heels, sink, leaving in its place clear water.
"In a few hours the turmoil was completely at an end, the torrent had diminished, the stream had shrunk to its ordinary limits, and nothing. remained to tell of the struggle." (See also Appendix.)
The representations by Livingstone of the terrible condition among the inland peoples of Africa by slavery, tribe enslaving tribe, people making war upon people for the sake of prisoners to be sent to the slave market, and the horrors endured by the poor wretches, thus given over to a fate worse than death, by the greed of the Arabian and certain white merchants of the coast, led to action on the part of the British and other Governments, which has done much to break up the inhuman traffic, and will never cease "till that wide wound be healed."
This little comedy appeared in Gripsack for 1882, and was written at the request of the editor of Grip, who was, and is, in full sympathy with all efforts to secure the rights of women. At that date the Council of University College had refused to entertain the application of ladies to be admitted to the lectures of University College, and that such an adventure with its denouement did not become a fact is only to be credited to the wisdom that, on further consideration, withdrew the objection, for history affords many instances of woman's use of a disguise in order to attain her wishes, and the annals of co-education furnish numerous proofs of her equality with, and not unfrequently her superiority to, her rivals of the other sex in competitive examinations.
The circumstance here so mournfully quoted by Kate was a fact. The University of Canterbury, New Zealand, was open alike to men and women. The examination papers used were prepared by Cambridge University (England) on the same standing as their own, and were returned to Cambridge for adjudication thereon. In 1881 a lady took the degree of B.A., the first in the world, and was invested with the hood with some eclat.
The Toronto Women's Literary Club, incepted by Dr. Emily H. Stowe, of Toronto, and meeting at her house from 1876 until its resolution into the Canadian Women's Suffrage Association in 1883, was responsible for the public agitation of the right of women to admission to University College; and also for the circulation of the petition to that end, which, by the kind help of many of members of the Legislature, won from the Provincial Parliament a recommendation to the Senate of the University that women should be admitted. Several of the leading fourth year men of 1882 offered their assistance in circulating the petition among the students; and the greatest sympathy was shown by educators in every part of the Dominion.
[The following account of 13th Oct., 1812, written by Lieut.-Colonel Evans, of the Eighth or King's Regiment, Acting Brigade-Major to the Forces at that date, will be read with interest, and is doubly valuable as being a piece of well-attested history.]
GOVERNMENT HOUSE, Fort George. Oct. 15, 1812.
After dinner on the evening of the 11th inst., Major-General Brock handed me a note from Captain Dennis, commanding flank companies of the 49th Regiment at Queenstown. After perusing its contents, which were of an alarming nature, setting forth the highly mutinous state of his detachment, his men having deliberately threatened to shoot their officers, etc., the General said, "Evans, you will proceed early in the morning and investigate this business, and march, as prisoners, in here, half-a-dozen of those most culpable, and I will make an example of them. You can also cross the river and tell Van Rensellaer I expect he will immediately exchange the prisoners taken in the Detroit and Caledonia [two vessels coming from Amherstburgh cut out by Americans whilst at anchor at Fort Erie] for an equal number of Americans I released after the capture of Detroit."
I reached Queenstown early in the morning of the 12th, and finding many of the grenadier company confined, and the guard-house gutted, and Captain Dennis himself in apparent alarm at the state of things, I proposed proceeding at once to select those most prominent, for example. At this juncture, however, and when about leaving Hamilton's house [Captain Dennis' quarters] a scattered fire of musquetry from the American shore took place, and on a musket ball entering the room passing betwixt us, I inquired with surprise the meaning of such unusual insolence. Captain Dennis stating the practice to have existed more or less for some days, insomuch as to render ingress by the river door hazardous, I deemed it fitting first to cross the river, desiring Captain Dennis would prepare his men against my return. On passing along the river bank for Mr. T. Dickson, the enemy kept up an incessant fire of musquetry till I entered that gentleman's house, but happily without mischief. I now begged Mrs. Dickson kindly to, prepare a white handkerchief as a flag of truce, asking Mr. Dickson, who was a Captain of Militia, would he accompany me across the water; he had no objection, but both Mrs. Dickson and all present urged the danger of any attempt to cross, convinced as they were, in the enemy's then temper, the flag would not be respected. Feeling this to be no time for discussing about personal safety, I took Dickson by one hand and the flag in the other, then descending the precipitous steep to the water's edge, we launched our frail canoe amidst an unsparing shower of shot which fell all around us; nor did the firing cease till the canoe, become quite unmanageable, tossed about in the waters of the strong eddies; when, as if struck by shame at his dastardly attempt to deter us from our purpose the enemy gave the signal to cease fire. I was thus relieved (and enabled) on approaching the shore to observe more calmly all that was passing. On touching the ground, with water in the leaky canoe ankle deep, I was about, as was my custom, leaping ashore, when a sentinel from a guard brought to the spot, came to the charge with fixed bayonet, authoritatively commanding me not to leave the boat. To my enquiry for Colonel Solomon Van Rensellaer, (the Adjutant-General) with whom I usually conferred, I was told he was sick. I then stated having an important message from General Brock for their Commander, which if inconvenient for their General to receive from me personally, I begged an official person might be immediately deputed to convey it to him. After some delay, Mr. Toock, the General's Secretary, made his appearance, but his reply to General Brock's request being abrupt, and as I thought somewhat significant, "that nothing could be done till the day after to-orrow," I ventured to remind him of General Brock's liberality towards their people which the fortune of war had thrown into his hands, entreating that he would again consult his General, and enable me to carry to mine something more satisfactory. In compliance, as he stated, with my wishes, but as it appeared to me, more with the intent to consume my time, rendered precious from its being after midday, he detained me in my miserable position for more than two hours, and then returned expressing the General's regret "that the prisoners having been marched for Albany they could not instanter be brought back, but that might assure General Brock with his respects that all should be settled to their mutual satisfaction the day after to-morrow." I was now too anxious to depart to wish the parley prolonged, my mind being quite made up as to the enemy's intentions, and to the course it was most fitting for me to pursue under the circumstances. It had not escaped me that their saucy numbers had been prodigiously swelled by a horde of half-savage troops from Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, which evidently made it hazardous for their northern countrymen to show their accustomed respect for a flag of truce from a foe; but my most important discovery was their boats slung in the sides or fissures on the river bank covered only by the brush, with indeed many decided indications that an attack on our shores could not be prudently delayed for a single day. Under such impression the first thing on reaching our own side was the removal by Mr. Dickson of his family from his own house on the beach, the very site of the prospective struggle, and giving note of preparation to the few militia which, with the 49th flank companies, were all the immediate disposable force for the defence of Queenstown. Aware of the imminence and magnitude of the danger, the lateness of the hour, after three p.m., and distance from Fort George, Headquarters more than six miles, I hesitated not assuming the responsibility of liberating all the 49th prisoners, on the specious plea of their offence proceeding from a too free indulgence in drink, appealing to them for proof of their loyalty and courage, which they were assured would be severely tested ere another day dawned. Then, after a rapid but effective arrangement of the several points requiring attention, seeing to the re-supply of fresh ammunition, and infusing all the spirit and animation in my power to impart, I left Captain Dennis, exhorting his utmost diligence in keeping his charge on the alert for repelling the enemy's attempt, which I foresaw would not be deferred. Having to put the many posts on the line of communication on the qui vive, although I rode at full speed, it was past six p.m. ere I reached Fort George, and then from having been exposed for thirteen hours, under much anxiety, to wet feet and extreme heat, without refreshment of any kind, I was so exhausted as to be unequal to further immediate effort. Refreshed, I narrated to General Brock all that had occurred, the precautionary steps I had taken, and the responsibility I had assumed as to the 49th prisoners, which, under the stated circumstances, I trusted he would approve, and at once authorize my making preparations for coming events, so indispensably required. The General evidently doubting at first, hesitated, but seeing my earnestness in rebuking his attendants of charging my being over-sanguine, and chagrin at their proffered bets against my predictions, he became unusually grave, desired I would follow him to the office, where at his request I succinctly recapitulated the day's occurrences, adding my solemn conviction that a moment was not to be lost in effectually preparing for defence.
The General now thanked me, approved of all that I had done, and, returning to the dining room, directed officials to be immediately written and despatched by Provincial Dragoons, calling in the militia of the vicinity that same evening, those more distant to follow with all alacrity. I was directed to make all requisite preparations at Headquarters. In this work I was busied till near eleven p.m., with but few converts, however, to my convictions, when, worn down by fatigue, I stretched myself on my mattrass. After a slumber of a few hours I was aroused by a distant cannonade soon after two a.m., 13th October, but without surprise, well knowing the quarters where the ominous sound came. The General who, himself, had all in readiness at once mounted his horse and proceeded for the post attacked. His Aides-de-Camp were awoke, and soon followed. Major-General Sheaffe, second in command, assumed charge at Headquarters, but the impression on General Brock's mind being that the attempt at Queenstown would prove only a feint to disguise his (the enemy's) real object from the creek in rear of Fort Niagara, his apparent wish was that whilst all were held in readiness to act in any quarter, no decisive movement by the troops should take place till the enemy's intentions were fully developed. The Indians and regular Artillery were, however, promptly despatched, and the elite of the 41st with an equal number of well-drilled militia flank companies ready to follow on the first summons. As the day dawned, the scouts I had sent out reporting no symptoms of hostile movement in the quarter indicated, these troops all proceeded at double quick for the succour of Queenstown, the debouching of the head of which column on the main road appeared to be the signal for opening a brisk cannonade from Fort Niagara on the troops, the town, and Fort.
Soon after, the news of the gallant Brock's unhappy fall reached us, which, by necessarily removing General Sheaffe to Queenstown, the command at Fort George devolved on me as next senior officer. At this moment the scene around was awfully discouraging, the gaol and court house were suddenly wrapped in flames, which as containing many political prisoners, I at first imagined the act of an incendiary, but other buildings soon appearing in a similar state of conflagration left me no longer in doubt as to the new enemy of hot shot with which we had to grapple, and its easy distance, on wooden edifices I foresaw, must be attended with very destructive effect. Luckily, a posse of militia-men had now come in, which I distributed in separate bodies, collecting all the water-buckets and requisite implements from the inhabitants of the town.
This arrangement, though in part effective, from the energy and courage displayed in extinguishing the flames as they occurred, I felt to be insufficient in itself for our security; selecting therefore, all the old veteran militia artillerymen with two intelligent staff non-commissioned officers of the 41st, by bending our whole efforts to the attainment of one object, we at length succeeded in stopping the mischief by diminishing and crippling the enemy's guns, but not before he had burnt to the ground many buildings, amongst the number, beside the gaol and court house, the Chief Engineer's quarters; the more important ones, however, the "Royal Barracks," "Block House," "King's Stores" and other public buildings, though repeatedly fired were, by steady and untiring intrepidity, preserved. Thus temporarily relieved, I was enabled to attend to Capt. Derinzy's (commanding 41st Batt.) note, from which it appeared, he found on arriving at Queenstown, the enemy in possession of the opposite heights, and our heavy one-gun battery there:—that the enfilading on our side, too distant from the landing to be quite effective—then protected by his division—had been powerfully aided by Capt. Holcroft, of the Royal Artillery, who, unmindful of consequences, boldly dashed his gun through the valley into Hamilton's court-yard within point blank range, thus succeeding in sinking some of the enemy's crowded boats and damping the ardour of his troops for crossing. Seeing his critical position Capt. Derinzy had sustained him by a party of the 41st Regiment. He briefly mentioned that the spirited Brock finding on his arrival the 49th grenadiers and militia, though resolutely defending the landing-place, hard pressed, had called to their aid the 49th light company from the Height's summit, the key of the position. The enemy, profiting by this step, moved unperceived about 150 men—and over a precipitous steep it was deemed impracticable for a human being to ascend—who suddenly appeared to the astonished General just on the mountain summit, and the next instant in possession of the redoubt, putting its defenders to the sword. The gallant spirit of Brock, ill brooking to be thus foiled, with a courage deserving a better fate, hastily collected the weak 49th company and a few militia; debouching from a stone building at the mountain's brow, with these little bands, he spiritedly strove to regain his lost position, but in which daring attempt he was killed by a rifle ball entering under the left breast, passing out by the right shoulder. Capt. Williams by taking a wider range, made a second effort, but as the result proved with too inadequate a force, the A.D.C. (McDonell), being mortally wounded and Capt. Williams' head partially scalped by a rifle ball.
These circumstances convinced me General Sheaffe would be more circumspect than attack without a concentration of every disposable man. Under such impressions, after first despatching Lieutenant McIntyre, 41st Regiment, with about 140 men of his regiment and militia, and afterwards Wm. Martin with every regular soldier and a few active militia from Fort George, I hastened to forward, at all hazards, the most active of the men from the many posts on the line of communication. On starting those from Young's Battery, the enemy, as though by signal, re-opened his cannonade from Fort Niagara on Fort George and the town. However mortified by this unlooked-for occurrence, prudence required that whilst sending our whole effective force to Queenstown, Fort George and its dependencies should not be neglected, for what with the alien and prisoners in the Block House, with those set at liberty by firing the gaol, their number was little short of 300, with but a few raw militia left for their security, or that of the fort or town. I was, therefore, left no alternative but to gallop back and ascertain the enemy's power for further mischief. Well it was that I did so, for on reaching the gate of Fort George, I met a crowd of the militia with consternation in their countenances, exclaiming the magazine was on fire. Knowing it to contain 800 barrels of powder, with vent side-walls, not an instant was to be lost. Captain Vigoreux, of the Engineers, therefore, at my suggestion, was promptly on its roof, which movement was with alacrity followed by the requisite number of volunteers, when by the tin being stripped off the blazing wood was extinguished. Thus was confidence reassured. The enemy, taking advantage of a bend in the river, had brought a battery with hot shot to enfilade the barracks, magazine and King's stores, and despite all our efforts to dislodge him he had effectively consumed the store-houses with all the lower buildings, and repeatedly set on fire the barracks and magazine. Our success was perfect: the enemy's fire being again silenced and the necessary precautions taken to avert future disaster, I made another effort to reach Queenstown, when I met Captain Chambers, 41st Regiment, with the glad tidings that General Sheaffe, by a spirited and judicious movement away to his right, and crossing the vale high up with his collected forces, had approached—as to ground—his enemy on more favourable terms, and that his operations had resulted in the enemy's complete destruction. But, for the details of this brilliant success I must refer to the despatches of the distinguished officer who, with his gallant troops, achieved it.
(Signed) THOMAS EVANS,
Brigade-Major to the Forces.
[The statement made above by Lieut.-Col. Evans that in the 49th were still smouldering the fires of the insubordination that Brock himself had summarily dealt with several years before, is as remarkable as it is painful to those who would fain think a regiment famed for its brave achievements in so many engagements, and to which Brock had belonged for many years, could not be guilty of anything so disgraceful as is insubordination. It must, however, be remembered that of all duties, garrison duty is most trying to the soldier, and to these men, the greater part of whom were veterans who had fought at Bergen-op-Zoom and Copenhagen, where they had acted as marines, anything approaching to the spirit of the martinet in their superior officers must have been very galling.
To this want of tact on the part of certain officers is attributed, by those who have enquired most carefully into the matter, the uncomfortable state of the gallant 49th at and before the epoch of the war.
Even Brock himself was tired of garrison life at such a stirring time at home, and had applied for active service in Europe, and Major-General Sheaffe had actually been appointed to his offices, both civil and military, when the declaration of war by President Madison gave him the employment he was looking for.]
[From the other end of the Niagara Frontier comes an equally interesting account of that notable day—the 13th Oct., 1812, that of Lieutenant Driscoll of the 100th Regiment. (See Ryerson's "Loyalists of America and their Times." Vol. 2, pages 36-81.)]
"I was stationed at Fort Erie on the memorable 13th Oct., 1812. At daybreak, having returned with my escort as visiting rounds, after a march of about six miles in muddy roads through the forests, and about to refresh the inward man after my fatiguing trudge, I heard a booming of distant artillery very faintly articulated.
"Having satisfied myself of the certainty of my belief, wet and fatigue were no longer remembered; excitement banishes these trifling matters from the mind; and I posted off to my commanding officer to report the firing, now more audible and rapid.
"I found my chief, booted and spurred and snoring—lying, as was his wont, on a small hair mattrass on the floor in his barrack room, which boasted of furniture, one oak table covered with green baize, a writing desk, a tin basin containing water and a brass candlestick, which had planted in it a regulation mutton-dip, dimly flickering its last ray of light, paling before the dawn, now making its appearance through the curtainless window.
"The noise I made on entering the Major's sleeping and other apartment awoke him. As he sat up on his low mattrass he said, 'What is the matter?' 'Heavy firing down the river, sir.' 'Turn the men out.' 'All under arms, sir.' 'That'll do.'
"By this time he was on his legs—his hat and gloves on. His hutman was at the door with his charger, and his spurs in his horses' flanks in an instant—leaving the orderly, hutman, and myself to double after him up to the fort, some hundred yards off.
"As we reached it, the men were emerging through the gate in measured cadence, and we were on our way to the batteries opposite the enemy's station at Black Rock.
"Before we reached our post of alarm the sun was up and bright. We had not assumed our position long before an orderly officer of the Provincial Dragoons rode up, and gave us the information that the enemy were attempting to cross at Queenston, and that we must annoy them along the whole line, as was being done from Niagara to Queenston, by any and every means in our power short of crossing the river. Everything was ready on our part. The enemy all appeared asleep, judging from the apparent quiet that prevailed on their side the river.
"The command to annoy the enemy was no sooner given than bang! bang! went off every gun that we had in position.
"Now there was a stir. The enemy's guns were in a short time manned, and returned our fire; and the day's work was begun, which was carried on briskly the greater part of the day on both sides of the Niagara.
"About two o'clock, another Provincial Dragoon, bespattered, horse and man, with foam and mud, made his appearance, not wearing sword or helmet.
"Said an old Green Tiger to me: 'Horse and man jaded, sir; depend upon it he brings bad news.' 'Step down and ascertain what intelligence he brings.' Away my veteran doubles, and soon returns at a funeral pace.
"Light heart, light step," were my inward thoughts. I knew by poor old Clibborn's style of return something dreadful had occurred. 'What news, Clibborn? What news, man? Speak out,' said I, as he advanced towards the battery that was still keeping up a brisk fire. Clibborn walked on, perfectly unconscious of the balls that were ploughing up the ground, uttered not a word but shook his head.
"When in the battery the old man sat down on the platform; still no word, but the pallor and expression of his countenance indicated the sorrow of his soul.
"I could stand it no longer. I placed my hand on his shoulder. 'For Heaven's sake, tell us what you know.' 'In choking accents he revealed his melancholy information: 'The General is killed; the enemy has possession of Queenstown Heights.'
"Every man in the battery was paralyzed; the battery ceased firing.
"A cheer by the enemy from the opposite side of the river recalled us to our duty. They had heard of their success down the river. Our men, who had in various ways evinced their feelings—some in weeping, some in swearing—some in mournful silence—now exhibit demoniac energy. The heavy guns are loaded, traversed and fired, as if they were field pieces.
"Too much hurry for precision. 'Take your time, men; don't throw away your fire, my lads.' 'No, sir, but we'll give it to them hot and heavy.'
"All the guns were worked by the 49th men of my own company, and they wished to avenge their beloved chief. Brock, whom they knew and valued with that correct appreciation peculiar to the British soldier. They had all served under him in Holland and at Copenhagen.
"I had a very excellent reconnoitering glass; and as I kept a sharp lookout for the effect of our fire, and the movements of the enemy, I observed that powder was being removed from a large wooden barrack into ammunition waggons. The only man of the Royal Artillery I had with me was a bombardier, Walker. I called his attention to the fact I had observed, and directed him to lay a gun for that part of the building wherefrom the powder was being taken. At my request he took a look through my glass, and, having satisfied himself, he laid the gun as I ordered. I, with my glass, watched the spot aimed at. I saw one plank of the building fall out, and at the same instant the whole fabric went up in a pillar of black smoke, with but little noise, and it was no more—horses, waggons, men and building all disappeared; not a vestige of any was to be seen.
"Now was our turn to cheer; and we plied the enemy in a style so quick and accurate that we silenced all their guns just as a third dragoon came galloping up to us, shouting 'Victory! Victory!' Then again we cheered lustily, but no response came from the other side. Night now hid the enemy from our sight.
"The commissariat made its appearance with biscuit, pork, rum and potatoes, and we broke our fast for that day about nine p.m.
"How strange and unaccountable are the feelings induced by war! Here were men of two nations, but of a common origin, speaking the same language, of the same creed, intent on mutual destruction, rejoicing with fiendish pleasure at their address in perpetrating murder by wholesale, shouting for joy as disasters propagated by the chance of war hurled death and agonizing wounds into the ranks of their opponents! And yet the very same men, when chance gave them the opportunity, would readily exchange, in their own peculiar way, all the amenities of social life, extending to one another a draw of the pipe, a quid or glass; obtaining and exchanging information from one and the other of their respective services, as to pay, rations, etc., the victors with delicacy abstaining from any mention of the victorious day. Though the vanquished would allude to their disaster, the victors never named their triumphs.
"Such is the character of acts and words between British and American soldiers, which I have witnessed, as officer commanding a guard over American prisoners.
"Of the 100th Regiment."
[Lieutenant-Colonel Bishopp was a son of Sir Cecil Bishopp, Bart., afterwards Lord de la Zouche. He was an accomplished gentleman. He had served in the Guards. Had represented Newport, in the Isle of Wight, in Parliament. Had been attached to a Russian embassy. Had served with distinction in Flanders, in Spain, in Portugal and died full of hope and promise in Canada, gallantly "doing his duty," and not without avail, for his example still lives.]
"At two a.m. on the morning of the 11th July, 1813, accompanied by Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Clark, and Lieutenant James Cummings (both of the Lincoln Militia), backed by about 240 men—200 being regulars, and forty of the 2nd and 3rd Lincoln Militia, Bishopp swooped down upon Black Rock, the American naval depot on the River Niagara.
"The assault was a success; the work of destruction of the naval stores, chiefly by sinking them in the river, was complete. But Porter's force was aroused, and a speedy retreat on the part of Bishopp necessary. The men re-embarked unmolested, and Bishopp was the last to retire. Scarcely had they left the bank when the Indians who had crawled to the top commenced to fire. Part of Bishopp's men were landed and drove the enemy back into the woods.... Bishopp was everywhere commanding, directing, getting his men off. In the confusion of the moment some of the oars of his own boat were lost, and she drifted helplessly down stream exposed to an ever-increasing fire. Here Bishopp received his death-wound. He was borne back to his quarters, where, in a few days he expired at the early age of twenty-seven. 'Never was any officer, save always the lamented Brock, regretted more than he was.' His remains lie beneath a modest monument erected to his memory by the pious care of his sisters, the Baroness de la Zouche and Mrs. Pechall, in the churchyard at Lundy's Lane."—Coffin's Chronicles.
A tablet to his memory is also to be seen at the family burial-place, Parham, Sussex, England, with the following epitaph:—
|"His pillow—not of sturdy oak;|
His shroud—a simple soldier's cloak;
His dirge will sound till Time's no more—
Niagara's loud and solemn roar.
There Cecil lies—say where the grave
More worthy of a Briton brave?"
[Lieutenant-Colonel (afterwards General) Evans, Brigade Major, was one of the most valuable officers of the War of 1812. His cool head, sound judgment, energy, and capability in administration made him a tower of strength to his superiors, all of whom at various times, took an opportunity of testifying to his merits.]
On the 17th August, 1812, the day after the surrender of Detroit, General Brock wrote to him:—
"Dear Evans,—Detroit is ours, and with it the whole Michigan Territory, the American Army Prisoners of War. The force you so skilfully prepared and forwarded at so much risk, met me at "Point au Pins" in high spirits and most effective state. Your thought of clothing the militia in the 41st cast-off clothing proved a most happy one, it having more than doubled our own regular force in the enemy's eye. I am not without anxiety about the Niagara with your scanty means for its defence, notwithstanding my confidence in your vigilance and admirable address in keeping the enemy so long in ignorance of my absence and movements, etc. (Signed) I. BROCK."
There is no need here to allude to the events of the 13th October, 1812, at Fort George, since they are given in Lieut.-Col. Evans' own account of that day, to be found at Appendix No. 1, and show that his Generals had good reason for the esteem in which they held him. Suffice it to say that in the despatches of General Sheaffe from Queenstown; of General Vincent from Burlington Heights; of Deputy Adjutant-General Harvey, Burlington Heights, with reference to the successful attack on Forty-mile Creek by a wing of the 8th or King's Regiment under Lieut-Col. Evans; of General Riall, after Chippawa, Fort Erie, and Lundy's Lane; and of General Drummond, after Lundy's Lane, Lieut.-Col. Evans is always mentioned with special approbation. And the same feeling is evident in the public prints of the day, notably the London Gazette, the official organ, as well as in histories of the war.
Previous to his removal to Canada with his regiment, Lieut.-Col. Evans had been officially connected with the Government of Gibraltar in 1802, at the time that the Duke of Kent, as Governor, was trying to introduce some much-needed reforms, by doing which he brought a hornet's nest about his ears. In this affair the Royal Duke was ably backed by his subordinate, and in 1826, when Lieut.-Col. Evans was applying for a staff situation in Canada, his Royal Highness gratefully supported his request.
Brigade-Major Evans' local rank throughout the War of 1812 was that of Lieutenant-Colonel.
General Evans was an Englishman of Welsh ancestry. He married a daughter of Mr. Chief Justice Ogden, of Three Rivers, and after occupying several important appointments, returned to Canada, dying in Quebec in February, 1863, and was buried with military honours. His body was afterwards removed to Three Rivers, and lies by the side of his wife.
Major R. J. Evans, now resident in Toronto, to whom I am indebted for the above particulars, as also for the valuable paper to be found elsewhere, is a son of General Evans.
Guests from the 'Royal' stroll frequently to the grassy ramparts of old Fort George, whose irregular outlines are still to be traced in the open plains which now surround it. Here landed in 1783-84, ten thousand United Empire Loyalists who, to keep inviolate their oaths of allegiance to the King, quitted their freeholds and positions of trust and honour in the States to begin life anew in the unbroken wilds of Upper Canada.
"History has made us somewhat familiar with the settlement of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick by the expatriated Loyalists. Little has been written of the sufferings and privations endured by 'the makers' of Upper Canada.
"With the present revival of interest in American history, it is singular that writers do not awaken a curiosity about the Loyalists of the Revolution. Students and specialists who have investigated the story of a flight, equalled only by that of the Huguenots after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, have been led to admire the spirit of unselfish patriotism which led over one hundred thousand fugitives to self-exile. While the Pilgrim Fathers came to America leisurely, bringing their household goods and their charters with them, the United Empire Loyalists, it has been well said, 'bleeding with the wounds of seven years of war, left ungathered the crops of their rich farms on the Mohawk and in New Jersey, and, stripped of every earthly possession, braved the terrors of the unbroken wilderness from the Mohawk to Lake Ontario.'"—Jane Meade Welsh, in Harper's New Monthly for August, 1887.
"1812—like the characters on the labarum of Constantine—is a sign of solemn import to the people of Canada. It carries with it the virtue of an incantation. Like the magic numerals of the Arabian sage, these words, in their utterance, quicken the pulse, and vibrate through the frame, summoning from the pregnant past memories of suffering and endurance and of honourable exertion. They are inscribed on the banner and stamped on the hearts of the Canadian people—a watchword rather than a war cry. With these words upon his lips, the loyal Canadian, as a vigilant sentinel, locks forth into the gloom, ready with his challenge, hopeful for a friendly response but prepared for any other. The people of Canada are proud of the men, and of the deeds, and of the recollections of those days. They feel that the War of 1812 is an episode in the story of a young people, glorious, in itself and full of promise. They believe that the infant which, in its very cradle, could strangle invasion, struggle and endure bravely and without repining, is capable of a nobler development, if God wills further trial."—Coffin's Chronicles of the War, Chapter I., preamble.
[Mr. Le Moine, in "Quebec Past and Present," states that slavery was finally abolished in Canada in 1803.] "Near Fort George, less than a century ago, stood the first Parliament House of Upper Canada—a building rude in comparison with the massive pile, the Bishop's Palace, used for a similar purpose at Quebec—but memorable for one at least of the many liberal laws its homespun representatives enacted. Here, seventy years before President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, the first United Empire Loyalist Parliament, like the embattled farmers at Concord, 'fired a shot heard round the world.' For one of the first measures of the exiled patricians was to pass an act forbidding slavery. Few readers know that at Newark—now Niagara, Ontario—was enacted that law by which Canada became, not only the first country in the world to abolish slavery, but as such, a safe refuge for the fugitive slaves from the Southern States."—Jane Meade Welsh, in Harper's New Monthly, August, 1887.
[The Twenty-fourth or Second Warwickshire Regiment, now the South Wales Borderers, is of ancient and gallant fame. On its colours are inscribed "Egypt," "Cape of Good Hope," "Talavera," "Fuentes d'Onor," "Salamanca," "Vittoria," "Pyrenees," "Nivelle," "Orthes," "Peninsula"—a goodly show.]
To us, perhaps, the claims of the Regiment upon our admiration are eclipsed by those upon our pity when we remember the terrible disaster of Isandula in 1879, when six companies of the Regiment were cut to pieces, and as it was at first feared, the colours lost. But it was not so; several companies of the 1st Battalion had fought in the victorious affair of Rorke's Drift the day before, and "Lieutenant Bromhead" says the Daily News of Feb. 21, 1879: "1st Battalion, 24th Regiment, and Lieutenant Chard, R.E., left in charge of the Drift with a company of the 24th Regiment, first received intimation of the disaster [at Isandula] from fugitives making for the Drift. Lieutenant Coghill with others rode away to communicate with Helgmakaar, and were killed by Zulus in crossing the river."
With Lieutenant Coghill was Lieutenant Melville carrying the colours. The company holding the Drift was annihilated by the on-rushing savages, and no tidings of the colours could be gained until some days after when, behind a mound, were found the bodies of the two brave Lieutenants, one of whom grasped the pole with hands stiffened in death and around the other the precious flag was wound, "safe on the heart of a soldier."
The following touching lines will be welcome to the lover of noble deeds; it is to be regretted that the name of the poet cannot also be given:—
|Who said we had lost the Colours?|
Who carried the tale away.
And whispered it low in England,
With the deeds of that awful day?
The story was washed, they tell us,
Freed from a touch of shame—
Washed in the blood of those who died.
Told in their sacred name.
But they said we had lost the Colours,
And the Colours were safe, you see;
While the story was told in England,
Over the restless sea.
They had not the heart to blame us.
When they knew what the day had cost;
But we felt the shame of the silence laid
On the Colours they thought were lost.
And now to its farthest limit
They will listen and hear our cry;
How could the Colours be lost, I say,
While one was left to die?
Safe on the heart of a soldier,
Where else could the Colours be!
I do not say they were found again,
For they never were lost, you see.
Safe on the heart of a soldier,
Knotted close to his side,
Proudly lie on the quiet breast,
Washed in the crimson tide!
For the heart is silent forever,
Stirred by no flitting breath,
And the Colours he saved are a fitting shroud,
And meet for a soldier's death.
What more would they know in England?
The Colours were lost, they said;
And all the time they were safe, of course,
Though the soldier himself was dead.
The band was stiff, and the heart was cold
And feeble the stalwart limb;
But he was one of the Twenty-fourth,
So the Colours were safe with him.
The following which appeared in the Toronto World, Saturday, July 16, 1887, will also be found of interest to those whose sympathies have been awakened by the poem:
"In the London Graphic there have appeared lately several good articles headed 'Types of the British Army,' with excellent full-sheet coloured cuts, by eminent artists, of men in marching order or otherwise belonging to the corps on which the article is written. The last one is in the Graphic of April 30, being the fourth to appear, and the picture represents a soldier of the gallant 24th Regiment. Much has been said by old officers and soldiers in the press relative to the abolition of the time-honoured numbers of the old corps, and now this splendid old regiment is no longer the 24th, but since 1881 is called the 'South Wales Borderers.' And not only did the historical old number disappear from the Army List, according to the new system, but they lost their green facings, and now wear the white, which all regiments, English and Welsh, according to the territorial system, have to wear. The Irish wear green, the Scotch yellow, and all Royal regiments wear blue. The Artillery and 60th Rifles have red facings, and the Rifle Brigade black. Corps on the line now go by territorial titles. First and second battalions and many old regiments are joined to other old corps which formerly had nothing whatever to do with the county or province from which they now derive their title." In connection with this a former captain in the 46th writes to the Montreal Witness as follows:
"It may be interesting to many to know the reason why regiments now bear their new titles; and, as the writer was intimately acquainted with the 24th before the fearful calamity at Isandhlwana—where they were annihilated in 1879 by the Zulus—and was stationed with them in Brecon, South Wales, he can give the rather curious origin of their present title.
"Some time before the Zulu campaign, there were many sweeping changes made in the army, amongst them being the abolition of numbers, and an order was issued that all members of militia, yeomanry and volunteers at home should have their adjutants appointed from officers serving on full pay with the regiments of cavalry or infantry, and that the artillery, militia and volunteers, should have their adjutants from the Royal Artillery or Marine Artillery; the appointment to last for five years, and at the expiration of that time the officer to return to his corps, and another one to succeed him. The writer was at that time adjutant of the 46th Regiment, and the first to be thus appointed to the Royal Brecon Rifles, South Wales—a small corps of only four companies. There was another smaller corps of only two companies in the adjoining county, Radnorshire, and, perhaps for economy's sake, it was ordered that both of these corps should be made one regiment. Each wanted to retain its old militia designation, but it was decided by the officers to give them a totally new one, and they were christened the 'South Wales Borderers.'
"Brecon was made a depot centre, and the 24th Regiment were to recruit and have their depots there. Being then without a title they took that of the local militia, and are, therefore, now the '1st and 2nd Battalions South Wales Borderers.' But they will always be known as the time-honoured 24th, who lost one colonel, one major, four captains, fourteen lieutenants and seven entire companies, including band, buglers and drummer boys, at Isandhlwana. Lieutenants Melville and Coghill, on that occasion, seeing that all was lost, attempted to save the colours. Melville was first hit, and Coghill turned back to share his fate. The colours were afterwards found in the bed of the Buffalo River, and when brought home Her Majesty tied a small wreath of immortelles on the staff head at Osborn. They are still in the possession of the regiment, and the wreath presented by Her Majesty is preserved in a handsome hermetically-sealed oak box, mounted in silver."
[In his "La Littérature au Canada Français" M. Bender says of M. L. Pamphile Le May:]
"Le May sings in a clear and tender voice, reminding one of Alfred de Vigny, and approaching the elegance and polish of that poet.... In words of melody he celebrates the beauties of rural life and scenery. He is touching, pleasing and sympathetic. He knows his subject well; he has seen it, he has felt it, he has loved it; indeed he yields too much to inspiration, and does not sufficiently finish his verse, nor does he fully develop his idea so as to reap all its wealth.... His creations evince originality and beauty of form." In his preface to "Essais Poétiques," published 1865, M. Leon P. Le May tells his readers that his friends discouraged him in his worship of the Muse; they said verse-making did not pay, that it cost a man too much to devote himself to an art so little esteemed. But he sang nevertheless, and Canadian literature in the French language is the richer by much that is sweet, tender, beautiful and inspiring. We ought to thank M. Le May for being wiser than his advisers; and such of us as have not yet considered Canadian Literature worthy of especial regard would do well to hunt up the numerous volumes that lie all but unknown upon booksellers' shelves, and convince themselves that there is a field of intellectual enjoyment open to them of which they may be justly proud to be the heirs.