Lancashire Songs (3)
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OWD SMOOR PIG.


    The classical locality of Grimshaw Park, in Blackburn, has long been famous for the production of heroic and eccentric specimens of the genus homo, not the least notorious of whom was a late tackler at a firm not more than 100 miles from Oscroft Mill.  He was popularly known by the amiable sobriquet of Owd Smoor Pig; some people were polite enough to call him Fred Fotchem; but how that appellation originated, or by what means it was merited, is not within the scope of this narrative to inquire.  His probity was never the theme of adulation among his shopmates, and it has more than once been hinted that pickers, picking-bands, shuttles, &c., have often mysteriously disappeared from other tacklers' benches, while Fred's bench was always a sort of little store-house for the above much-coveted and very useful little articles.  Having no lack of self-esteem, and taciturnity being by no means one of his vices or virtues, as the reader may deem it to be (for we are uncertain in which category to put it) the public-houses and beershops of Grimshaw Park have often rung with his eloquent eulogiums of his own deeds and doings.

    A short time ago this redoubtable Knight of the Screw-key "axed-off" his work to see his brother Sam off to America.  A gentleman of some insight in such matters offered Fred £2 towards the payment of his passage, if he, too, would go to the New World, possibly thinking that the Old Country would manage to get along tolerably well without him, and that even Grimshaw Park might eventually recover from the terrible shock it must inevitably sustain by his sudden departure.  He took the offer, and can now boast that he is the third on record for making a quick passage both ways, having actually outstripped the famous voyage of Jack Neville, who, be it remembered, is a Knight of the same Order; for Fred was only just ten weeks from leaving the shores of Old England to being back again and in bed at his old domicile in Grimshaw Park.

    We defer for the present the narration of his career and extraordinary exploits in America, and some ludicrous incidents in his homeward voyage, to give a description of the "House of Lords."  This noble edifice is a unique specimen of the skill of some unknown architect, who no doubt was famous in his day, and stands about equidistant from Christ Church, Jack Croft, T—— Nook, and Frozen Row.

    Here Fred's shopmates and others of the tackling fraternity have assembled to have—

What in Grimshaw Park phrase is termed, "a good shuttings,"
When a bad man's gone, an' a better pays his "footings."

    Everybody seemed to feel a little timidity at first on being asked to take part in these proceedings, until they had been thoroughly assured that Fred had really "mizzled," for he was never understood to have more than an ordinary share of the milk of human kindness, nor was he supposed to be over scrupulous as to whom he molested.

    Supper was served, and after the gormandising was over and guzzling had commenced, Scotch Sam called on Two-heads and "Lord Derby" to give a faithful account of their Trip to London, and the Derby Races.  "Derby" said he would rather sing, and began as follows—

We're rayther dark i' Grimshaw Park,
Bud neaw an' then we shown a spark,
        An', when id flashes eawt,
We letten 'em know, an' nod so slow,
        Wod bizness we're abeawt.

"Chorus, chaps."

There's nowt con touch t' tacklers, bi th' mass,
        Sin Two-Heads an' me
        Went to Lundun on t' spree,
        Wher he hed to stop,
        Lock'd up into th' pop,
Whol aw coom to Blegburn fur brass.

    This was greeted with loud applause from all parts of the room, and uproarious laughter in which his "lordship" joined most heartily.  Two-Heads tittered till his "toppin" almost touched his knees, and Deeof Tummy roared out, "Ay, an' true too!"

    "Just hearken thad, Pickup," rang a voice from the farthest end of the room, but it was not very certain to which of the party the said voice belonged.  Bill Hogden said "Id wur Owd Bob Ridley;" Deeof Tummy shouted "Id wur Owd Fourpenny;" but Buck declared "Id wur nob'dy else bud Dick O'Molls."

So they all laid it on one another, 
And all sat grinning " toan at tother."

    The evening passed on with supping, singing, and speech­making, and reciting such sublime productions as "Turn an' Dick," "Red Turn," "Owd Knowles hes flit," "I'm a tackler, and Sly Little Fred's my name," &c.  Among other matchless efforts of oratory, "Lord Derby" and Two-Heads gave a staggering account of all their trials, troubles, mistakes, and "mislorryments" when going to Derby Races; how they borrowed "brass" before they went, and how they found themselves without that needful article before they came back again ; how they bought sixpenny billycocks, and put blue ribbons on them—

To let the whole world know,
An' Grimshaw Park an' o,
As they wer off to th' Derby,
            To Derbee O!

how they overran their means, and how the trains overran them —we don't mean ran over them, as trains have such a propensity for doing now-a-days,—no, but how, while there, they—

Contracted some debts which they could not pay,
Till one, as a hostage, was destined to stay,
"Whol t' tother fotcht money" to fetch him away.

    The night being now far advanced, the proceedings were brought to a close with tackler-like tact by the whole company singing—


We'll nod goo whooam till mornin.


    It has, however, been suggested that probably the meeting was only adjourned till Monday morning, in the Looming room, where, it is said, the remainder of the speeches were delivered.

    We now return to our hero, Fred, who by this time had got work and performed sundry other feats in America ; for in a letter which reached his wife, he boasted he had "bested the two biggest feighters in America!" and his employer said he was the "best workman of any Britisher that had crossed the Atlantic."

    But Fred appears to have had one chronic complaint, usually styled "home sickness."  Now, travelling is good for some people; for instance, those who are afflicted with a bad wife, a bastard child, or a bundle of debts; but in a case of home sickness, the farther you go the worse it becomes ; and so it was with Fred.  The first time he saw a Blackburnian on the other side of the water, he threw down his screw-keys, rolled down his shirt sleeves, and, as they say in home phrase, began "booin like a babby."


No more work for poor Uncle Ned,


after that, in America.  He only waited till the week end to get his wages.

    In the meantime the two Grimshaw-Parkers ate, drank, and slept together—

But the other missed Fred
Every night from his bed,
    And wondered what could be the matter ;
So he lay awake

Determined to make
    A discovery sooner or latter.

Fred thought his mate slept,
So downstairs he crept,
    And opened a window full soon,
Which fronted the East,
Then, bearing his breast,
    Fixed his envious eyes on the moon.

Fred's mate in a crack
Gave a slap on the back,
    And asked him, with eyes full of wonder,
Whatever he meant?
Fred gave his heart vent—
    Saying, "Old England lies over yonder."

"Just yer tho, bod," rejoined his friend, "tha gred maunderin foo; wod dus ta meon to do? Ger up t' stairs witho, an' ged to bed, an' ger up i'th' morning an' gooa an' ged thi wage, an' be off to th' wife at wonst, for iv tha carries on like thad, bi t' mon, thal be gooin mad."

    At length poor Fred,
    Was laid in his bed,
But his sleep it was peopled by dreams
    Of what he'd done amiss,
    And how many a "siss"
Had been smuggled by somebody's schemes.

    Morning came in due course, and Fred was up early as the sun and as brisk as a bee,


Thinking of home and the dear ones there,


until he had dressed, breakfasted, and ultimately presented him­self at the lodge gates of the mill for his money.

    Bud his place was shopp'd
    And his money was stopp'd,
Bud this Fred did'nt much goam;
    So he went to New York,
    Determined to work
His pass back again home.

    We next find him safely stowed away on board a Royal Mail steamer far out at sea, and on its way to England, having clandestinely secreted himself among some flour sacks down in the hold till the vessel had cleared out of harbour, and made such progress that—

They could not put back again,
When once they were afloat.

    As luck would have it, a fireman had accidentally been disabled, and Fred was set to the task of feeding the furnace in his stead-­

    Where he sweat like a bull,
    Till the hair on his skull
Was as crisp and as curled as a negro's wool.

    At length the ship landed at Liverpool, and Fred lost no time in taking

The way of the crow
To the Frozen Row ;
It was Sunday also,
When he found his way back,
And his face was as black
As a soot-man's sack,

While his beard was besmeared with slaver and slack,

As he made his way
On that Sabbath day
To the back of his house,
As sly as a mouse,
The school boys all in a fright ran home
And told their mammas the devil had come.

    Fred ran upstairs and smothered himself up in the bedclothes.  Some said the parson should be fetched; some said the police would be likelier; at length female curiosity prevailed over all their fears, and the women went sticking hold of hands upstairs and tore off the bedclothes, when Fred's wife exclaimed, "It's noather mooar nor less nor my owd Smoor Pig comed back fro America!"

 

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POEMS AND SONGS.

THE BIRD'S NEST.


One moody April even,
    That month of smiles and tears,
When Iris up to heaven
    Her arch of raindrops rears;
By bright Apollo's gilding,
    When shade and shower had gone,
Slant roof and slated building
    Like sheeted silver shone.

The meads and groves more greenly
    Were glowing after rain,
And Flora smiled more queenly
    On hill and flowery plain;
My beautiful, my fairest,
    My heart's own blooming bride,
My loveliest and dearest
    Was walking by my side!

The muse with rapture glowing—
    Brink full of boundless bliss,
My heart was overflowing
    With maddening ecstasies;
I seized a sprig of ash
    Which March winds off had torn,
And wielding it would dash
    The raindrops from the thorn,—

When, flash! and out there came
    A parti-coloured bird—
A spirit wing'd with flame
    Which my flusht spirit stirred.
Like rustling harvest sheaves,
    Shook many a leafy spray—
The queen her palace leaves
    For danger threats her stay.

Deep, darkling in the shade,
    By green leaves overgrown,
A dainty nest was made
    Of mingled moss and down;
And eggs warm, polished, bright,
    Lay in that downy bed,
With shells of Parian white
    Sprinkled with specks of red.

"Alas! alas!" said I,
    "That men should still despair
With happiness hard by—
    'Mong tenants of the air;
See all that luscious love,
    Undashed by doubt or fear,
Which wedded hearts should prove
    Sweetly secluded here!"

For there, in unison
    With Nature's simple plan,
Life's brightest thread is spun
    Nor soiled, except by man.
I looked upon my wife
    With love too deep for words,
And sighed that human life
    Should lessons learn from birds.

1862

 

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BLACKBURN AS IT IS.


'Tis morn, 'tis Spring!   The bard, 'mid blooming fields,
Holds dalliance with the Muse, while Flora flings
Her mantle over all the season yields;
The winds fly forth with odours on their wings,
Each babbling stream its cheerful music brings
To soothe the ear, the landscape to the eye
Speaks love, the lark flies heavenward and sings,
The little stars are fading from the sky,

Whilst, from the deep'ning vales, night's darkling
            shadows fly.


Aurora, rising from her purple bed,
Salutes the earth with radiant rosy cheeks;
The floor of heaven is dappled o'er with red,
And bordered low with blue and amber streaks;
O'er seas and rivers, hills, and mountain peaks,
The sun just winks, well-nigh concealed from view;
Through crimson clouds his golden splendour breaks,
Turning to diamond every drop of dew,

As if on every bush bright silver blossom grew.


The moon, waxed dim in distance, doth retire
Before the sunny smile of new-born Day;
Apollo waves his locks of crystal fire,
Green earth is bathed in his all-gilding ray;
The loud-tongued throstle sings a joyous lay;
The flowers, like stars in heaven, that stood the field,
Bedecked with all the vernal bloom of May,
With all their blushing beauties unconcealed,

With heads upraised in joy do their mute homage yield.


And yet, alas!  I cannot choose but sigh,
Though all around be glorious and glad;
The blooming earth beneath, the blushing sky
Above, but make the drooping soul more sad;
All objects take the spirit's hues—are clad
In gloom or glory as the gazer's mind
Is clear or clouded, else this season had
Dried up those tears, whose torrents all but blind

The bard that still must sorrow for his suffering kind.


While standing on that base of Billinge-hill
Which fronts the flaming Orient, and throws
Its giant shadow in the evening still
O'er the half-buried burgh of Blackburn, whose
Thick forest of tall chimneys sleeping glows
In stainless ether, not as wont in cloud
And smoke enveloped, save where winding flows
Blakewater's sable stream amid a crowd

Of close-crammed cottages, veiled in its vap'rous shroud.


Huge blocks of building press the scanty space,
Like massive rocks in rugged mountain range,
Which lend a savage aspect to the place,
Scarce softened by surrounding grove and grange;
A silent, solemn air—a stillness strange,
Yet strong as strange, holds empire o'er the scene;
You feel as if some dark and deadly change
Had recently been wrought, kindling the keen

And anxious glance of care where laughter late had been.


A home of happiness, a world of wealth,
Where try and triumph signified the same,
Where sturdy labour led to stalwart health,
Where work and worth were one in all but name,
Where pith and pluck, and that which you call game
In chanticleer, was boundless rich and rife;
Where native talent burned with steady flame,
Where modest maiden, chaste and frugal wife

With rosy children shed a lustre upon life—


Such Blackburn was!  And such she will be yet
When Time takes off this pressure from her breast,
When daily wants by daily work are met,
When trade returns-that ever welcome guest;
When those who now by penury opprest
Have learnt the lore which want alone can teach,
And with that learning shall be wise and blest;—
No sermons equal those our sufferings preach,

For Sorrow ever is the soul's most skilful leech.


"The darkest hour is on the verge of day,"
As hath been sung, and, "sunshine follows rain,"
And after dreary Winter mirthful May,
While time shall last, will bud and bloom again;
The frost prepares the field for golden grain;
The fight must come before the victory still;
The sweetest flowers of bliss from beds of pain
Will ever shoot, while good is linked with ill;

The bottom of the valley is the basement of the hill!


Then let us bear the present as we may,
Nor be the golden past yet all forgot;
Hope lifts the curtain of the future day,
Where Peace and Plenty smile without a spot
On their white garments, where the human lot
Looks lovelier and less removed from heaven;
Where want, and war, and discord enter not,
But that for which the wise have hoped and striven—

The wealth of happiness, to humble worth is given.


The time will come, as come again it must,
When Lancashire shall lift her head once more;
Her suffering sons, now down amid the dust
Of indigence, shall pass through plenty's door;
Her commerce cover seas from shore to shore;
Her arts arise to highest eminence,
Her products prove unrivalled as of yore;
Her valour and her virtue, men of sense,

And blue eyed beauties, England's pride and her defence!


No place like England in this ample world;
In England, none like brave old Lancashire;
And Blackburn, when truth's map shall be unfurled,
Will as the heart of Lancashire appear;
Her sons and daughters truthful and sincere,
In hardihood and independence bred,
By honest labour earning homely cheer,
When needy strangers o'er their thresholds tread,

Prove they have Howard's heart, well yoked to Franklin's
            head.

1862.

 

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THE CRY OF THE CROWD.


God of the suffering, yet the silent crowd,
    Whose misery magnifieth day by day,
Who droop, though not by sin or sorrow bowed,
    But prematurely mingling clay with clay;
Like Flora's children, doomed to quick decay,
    We faint and fail for lack of sustenance,
And life and virtue wither on his way
    As fiercely fatal Famine doth advance,

Declaring crime or death our only choice or chance.


We suffer sore, but would not for the world
    Do deeds to cause a blush or call for blame;
Though headlong down the steeps of Danger hurled,
    We welcome death, but dare not sin; we claim
To carry to the tomb a spotless name,
    In spite of wrongs most rude and unredressed.
O, men are mad! else would War's bloody game
    No more be played, nor Famine more molest

The lowly labouring poor, by want of work oppressed.


Have we not been a pillar to uphold
    The world of wealth which crowned our cotton
        kings?
But when our service ceased to gain them gold,
    Were we not cast aside as useless things?
How, like that fabled fool with waxen wings,
    Men spurn the earth—aspire to Diety!
Can rivers run, if fountains fail whence springs
    Their wealth of waves?   O, blind cupidity!

Thus blasting every bud of social sympathy.


Have we not suffered?   Let the weary ground
    Bear witness how we pace with painful feet
Earth's barren bosom; but no fruit hath crowned
    Life's budding spring of blossoms, once so sweet;
Pale Poverty now dwells in every street,
    Fair Freedom taketh back the boon she gave,
Brown Health and Vigour wear the winding-sheet,
    Grim Want's fell finger points us to the grave:

From this deep hell of ills, Thou, Lord, alone canst save!


Wilt Thou not save the suppliant that kneels
    Petitioning Thy pardon and Thy power,
To soothe the pangs that patient Hunger feels,
    To make our daily bread Thy daily dower,
To grant Thy grace an unimpeded shower,
    Descending on this bleak and barren bed,
Where wan and withered falls the human flower,
    Or lowly drooping hangs its humble head?

Wil't Thou not shield, dread Sire, the dying and the
             dead?


For both have prayed, and both are near me now,
    And both have borne what faith alone can bear:
Bright Beauty, with the death-damp on her brow,
    Lies struggling in the arms of dark Despair.
There is enough—would all might have a share!—
    To make this mournful earth a Paradise;
But when red Mammon makes the millionaire,
    Ten thousand paupers pay the penal price

Which God, in justice, sets on man's most grovelling vice.

1862.

 

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THE SPINNER'S HOME.


        I can easily fling
            Common cares to wind,
For every heart hath its grief,
        And merits the sting,
            Every soul having sinn'd,
But mine may not hope for relief.

        I am loth to complain,
            Though I might have had cause,
For hunger is hard to endure;
        Yet I will not arraign
            Either Heaven or the laws
Of my country because I am poor.

        I have battled with Want,
            For a terrible term,
And been silent, till silence seemed crime;
        Yet I mean not to rant,
            But will yield you a germ
Of plain truth in an unpolished rhyme.

        My health—that is good;
            My family—few;
Accustomed to labour withal,
        'Tis a marvel we should,
            Yet alas! it is true, 
Either starve or be stinted—but call

        At the cabin I live in
            And see for yourselves;
The walls and the windows are there,
        But the fire has ceased giving
            Its light, and the shelves
And the table are foodless and bare.

        These walls once were hung
            With the triumphs of Art,
This pantry with plenty was stored,
        And Happiness flung
            Her rich light on the heart
Of the dear ones who sat at this board.

        Those dear ones are dead—
            Though it cost me a tear
To tell how they drew their last breath—
        Be it so!—want of bread
            Brought on fever—severe!
And fever and famine brought death.

        And now my lone heart,
            Like a plummet of lead
That is dropt in the sea's sullen wave,
        Droopeth far, far apart
            From its owner; its bed
Is down deep in our little ones' grave.

        The loud-prattling tongue,
            The sweet simple look,
Little feet patt'ring, over the floor
        To the past must belong,
            And the heart that must brook
Their deep loss is indeed rendered poor!

        Long years may roll on,
            Good times may return,
And life seem as sweet as of yore;
        But our loved ones are gone,
            And their beauties will burn
In our desolate dwelling no more!

1863

 

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TIME IS ON THE WING.


My lot is cast amid the lowly masses
    Whose joys and sorrows I full oft have sung,
And through the glooms which cloud the working
        classes
    Some feeble gleams of sunshine may have flung;
But whether this be fact or fancy, lo!
    Once more my lowly harp I humbly string
To teach them what they each full well must know,
    But oft forget, that Time is on the wing!

Life is not made of days alone, but duty,
    And they that would its greatness gauge aright
Must measure by its merit; moral beauty
    Alone is lovely in the angel's sight!
Then, as a stately barque when outward bound
    Doth to the breeze of heaven her canvas fling,
Spread we our spirit-wings and spurn the ground,
    Nay, scale the sky, for Time is on the wing!

Those master spirits who have won success
    And gained the goal for which they strongly strove,
Great souls, who breathed their brotherhood to bless,
    Or snatched the thunder from immortal Jove
And blasted empires, warrior, poet, sage,
    Around whose names such fadeless glories cling
Rendering refulgent history's ample page,
    Like Time, were workers, ever on the wing.

When we contemplate death without a name—
    To leave no light among the sons of men,
Are we not sorely tempted to exclaim,
    "Would God I could my time begin again!"
Then keen reflection cutteth like a knife;
    And deep and deadly as the scorpion's sting,
While Memory murmurs of a wasted life,
    Smites Conscience, whispering, "Time is on the
        wing."

We barter and we build, we plot and plan,
    As though we had a lease of life from fate;
We drink with vice, and drain another can,
    With death's dark angel rapping at the gate;
We run the race of ruin, flushed with hope!
    Our boldness from our blindness still doth spring
Till age, and ills with which we cannot cope,
    Remind us rudely—Time is on the wing!

True Happiness hath Virtue for her guide,
    And walketh but in wisdom's peaceful path,
Apart from hatred, envy, pomp, and pride,
    Unsoiled by sin, and hence unscarred by scath;
She leans to neither high nor low degree,
    But holds the beggar equal to the king!
With hopeful heart, and purpose pure, shall we
    Not tread her track, while Time is on the wing?

The tide recedeth swiftly from the shore;
    The sand falls briefly through the brittle glass;
Occasion gone, returneth nevermore;
    The days are dead that deedless we let pass;
Each moment hath its opportunity;
    Each hour its field for action still doth bring;
We wait, debate, and hesitate, but we
    Forget that Time is ever on the wing:

How many idle hours had busy been,
    How many evil deeds had been undone,
How many sinful souls been saved, I ween,
    How many god-like labours been begun,
How many more had mounted up to fame
    And joined their hands in glory's golden ring,
Had they but kenned, and kept in view the same,—
    That men may lag, but Time is on the wing!

The present, ever golden with the gay,
    As evening rainbow bright, doth fade as fast;
The brave to-morrow, like the brief to-day,
    Soon peeps within the portals of the Past;
But pace ye through her dim and shadowy bower,
    And, seated, hear that ancient sibyl sing—
"Tho' scaled and certain, none may know the hour
    When Death shall come, but Time is on the wing."

1863.

 

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THE SINGER.

A poet's birth is a people's boon.


A singer there dwelt in a city of yore—
    A populous city and proud!
And his spirit was love, and his speech lit with lore,
But, bashful and timid, he trembled before
    The gaze of the gaping crowd;
And he sang like a seraph at heaven's blue door,
And his aim and his hope were to sing and to soar
    Like a lark in the heart of a cloud.

That city grew rich with the sound of his praise,
    And the wealthy, soon, everyone
Seemed hanging with rapture and love on his lays,
And would wish him—God-speed, ever fanning the blaze
    Of his fame, which so brightly had shone;
And they called him our singer and poet always,
Little deeming how fleeting and few were his days,
    And how soon would the singer be gone.

He wove in his life with the woof of his lay,
    And that good city gave him its breath,—
Its emptiest homage, the poet's sure pay;
From its loftiest spire, in the sun's golden ray,
    He suspended an evergreen wreath,
Far out of the reach of those sleepless and gray
Destroyers, Old Time and his kinsman, Decay,
    And too high for the arrows of Death!

One morning, as wont, when the world had awoke,
    And the people were prying for news,
The blue, bending heavens were dimmed by the smoke
Which in dark wreathing columns rose threatening to
        choke
    The pure air from a forest of flues;
On the ear of that city a rumour there broke,
Like the autumn wind sighing through forests of oak,
    'Twas the death of that son of the muse.


        On clay-cold ground
        A corpse was found,
Its garments fring'd with frost,
        Pale, golden-tress'd,
        White lips compress'd,
Eyes blue, and half unclosed!
        "When did he die?"
        The quid nuncs cry,—
"How did he come by this ill?
        What was the cause?"
        Nobody knows,—
The world wags merrily still!


Yes, merrily moved this old world with them
    Until strangers came there from afar;
As out of the East unto Bethlehem,
In the days of King Herod the wise men came,
    Thither led by the light of its star;
Some kingdoms did cross, others oceans did stem,
For the honour of kissing his garment's hem
    Whose glory time never should mar.

That city then draped it in mourning most deep,
    And said, "Since our light, which hath shone
Like a midnight lamp from a castled steep,
For the guidance of travellers bound by that keep,
    Through the desert where path there is none,
Hath faded too soon, it is meet we should weep,
For alas! many ages may over us sweep
    Nor behold such a Luminous One!

"Our bard was our brightest and daintiest dower,
    But the richest robes soonest will soil!
O that we had but the magical power
To rekindle our lamp, even but for one hour,
    Whatever the cost or the toil!
It should flame on the top of our regalest tower,
Secure from the wind, from the wintery shower
    And the storm, nor be stinted of oil."

Thus ever the Christ hath been crucified,
    Our chalice of joy ever split!
Our hearts are with Evil so strongly allied,
Until they through the Curtains of Death are descried
    Our Gods must be branded with guilt!
The grave yawns before thee, deep-throated and wide,
Sweet poet, enthroned on the heavenward side
    Sitteth Fame: freely choose which thou wilt.

 

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A SUMMER MORNING.


The sky above like banner brave unrolled,
    Of richest blue and stainless, save that here
A streak of fire and there a bar of gold,
    To warm and gild the bright cerulean sphere,
    Bespeaks boon Summer's reign.   'Tis morn—
        God near!
Go miser, gloat o'er heaps of glittering treasure,
    Go bacchanal, and drain the brimming bowl,
Go libertine, pursue thy sordid pleasure;
    Let where it list the wheel of fortune roll!
    There is a pleasure to the poet's soul
Than these delights more dear; that pleasure is,
    From sunrise, on a summer's morn to stroll
Through flowery fields and witness scenes like this,
And wander where he will,—I ask no higher bliss.

 

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BE BRAVE IN THE BATTLE OF LIFE.


    Stand firm in the phalanx of life,
    Where many must faint and some fail;
Though mighty the meed of good fortune and
        skill,
Yet more is the merit of courage and will;
    'Tis persistence alone can prevail.

    Bear up in the battle of life,
    Though myriads fall at thy feet;
Though darkness and danger, and ruin and
        wrath,
May be shedding their gloom to o'er-shadow
        thy path,
    Let hope in thy heart ever beat.

    Be bold in the battle of life;
    Great deeds were by Doubt never done;
'Tis faith in the heart lendeth force to the hand;
The castle of Wrong but is built upon sand—
    Feel this, and the victory's won!

    Be brave in the battle of life!
    Stars tremble at Jupiter's nod;
Just purpose is power with the angels of light;
Fate loseth its fixity, right becomes might
    To a knight in the army of God.

 

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HYPOCRISY.


Hypocrisy, thou hollow-hearted fiend,
    Deceitful king of many kinds of evil;
Bright blinds by which all deeds of hell are screened
    Thy pious garments are.   Fair-favoured devil,
Thy saintless soul hath to religion leaned
    For sake of selfish gain.   Thou'rt supercivil
To the most sordid end—smooth, moral mien'd—
    That trade may kiss thy mercenary hands.
    Thine agents Shams and Shows rule many lands;
While Truth and Honesty in bondage grieve.
    Thy victims walk the earth in countless bands.
    Thy sins are numberless as the sea sands.
Thou art not what thou wouldst have men believe,
False charmer!   Sneaking snake, 'twas thou that
        tempted Eve.

 

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EVEN SO.


        The wind must blew
        And the wave must flow,
But the lark still soars and sings;
        And the skies will blush—
        And its fountains gush
While the earth in its orbit swings.

        Though earthquake break
        The mountain peak,
And cities sink under the ground;
        Bright stars will burn
        And the earth still turn
On her axis merrily round.

        Though monuments tall
        And turrets may fall,
The tempest may not be stayed:
        Fate's planet but winks
        While the war-vessel sinks—
God's fiat must be obeyed.

        Though virtue bleeds
        And vice succeeds,
Heaven limits the Evil One's might:
        Though many may err
        In the whirl and the stir,
The world, as a whole, goes right.

        Let man ever plod
        After Nature and God
And bow to their binding laws;
        He meets with a grave
        Who faces the wave,
Where the tide of Destiny flows.

        While sorrow and bliss,
        On a planet like this,
Are chasing us out of breath,
        Our hands let us clasp,
        In a brotherly grasp,
Right over the gulf of Death.

 

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SPRING.


When rosy-fingered Morning bright
Unbars the golden gates of light,
And heralds in the peerless king
Of day, who leads the blooming Spring,
His dearest daughter, o'er the land,
Who flings from her celestial hand
The gladsome moments, glowing hours,
The diamond dews and rainbow showers,
And sprinkles upland, copse and dell,
With cowslip, rose, and pimpernel—
When blossoms break from bush and tree,
Why should man not blithesome be?
When mountains doff their wintry white
And don a garment green and bright,
Roll from their breasts the vapours dun
And bare their foreheads to the sun;
When fields put on a fresher green,
And birds in brighter plumes are seen;
When gardens sunset hues assume,
And orchards seem ablaze with bloom;
When skies glow with a deeper blue,
And nature all is robed anew—
Let man, "the noblest work of God,"
Upon the path of nature plod,
And let his nobler part the mind,
Be roused to homage, raised, refined,
In truth and love and duty drest,
To bloom and bourgeon with the rest!

 

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TO THE MEMORY OF MR. JAMES HUFFMAN,

THE PRESTON REFORMER,

WHO DIED FEBRUARY 13th, 1863.


Drape deep the hearse that bears the honoured dead!
    Proud Preston, thy Apostle of Reform
Hath truly triumphed in the life he led,
    Whose lesson lives to mock the mould and worm
Which rot and riot in the human dust.
Firm in that faith, and trustful to that trust
Philanthropy is ever prone to place
In golden futures for our suffering race—
In spite of labour long with scanty speed—
His hopes ran high.   Though danger tracked the deed,
Undaunted still in freedom's sacred cause,
His spirit knew no barrier but the laws—
The changeless laws of justice, truth, and right,
Which filled his soul with fire, and nerved his arm for
        fight—

For fearless fight with tyranny and wrong,
    Such as hath been maintained from age to age
By martyr-souls, till Pen, and Press, and Tongue
    Have beaten bannered Falsehood from the stage,
Hurled those grim idols, Cant and Custom, down,
Unscared by Persecution's fiery frown,
Snapt the strong fetters forged for Thought and Speech,
Placed Truth's bright beacon light on Time's broad beech,
And for our England won the fairest name
That beams upon the burning list of fame!
Yes!   Huffman was true sample of the good
Old Radical Reformers, who withstood
Oppression openly, marched in the van
Of Freedom, spent their lives to serve their fellow-man.

 


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TO THE DEPARTING EMIGRANTS.


True hearts beat high when friends depart from friends,
    And time but tells a tale of mutual loss;
Whilst boding fancy with the future blends
    Strange perils on the seas which you must cross;
But dangers will not—distance must not daunt
The hopeful spirit of the Emigrant.

Farewell! sweet friends, a long adieu! and yet,
    While still the bounding wave and buoyant wind
Are bearing you far from us, ever let
    Our souls be linkt—our hearts of hearts entwined!
For, far or near, wherever you may be,
Your good or evil fate is life or death to me.

May that good land which lies beyond the sea,
    In truth a Land of Promise prove to you,
Where want is never known, but where the free
    And fruitful soil to labour lends a new
And nobler life, increasing evermore
In moral health and wealth as well as worldly store.

Though many weeping ones, alas! are left
    In this dear own old land of wealth and woe,
'Tis blissful sorrow to be so bereft,
    When those we love to happier regions go:
The mother's heart, whose babe's beneath the sod,
Is healed to think—"My child's in heaven with God."

 

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CONFIDENCE CARRIES THE KEYS OF SUCCESS.


Hope is an angel, but Fear is a fiend;
Doubt is a demon from nethermost hell;
Courage is conquest—determine and do—
Confidence carries the keys of success.

Captains command and armies obey;
Faith plants his foot on the waves of the sea—
The waters grow solid, their wrath is assuaged—
Confidence carries the keys of success.

Never be daunted, though dangers appear—
(Puny the spirit that peril can fright)—
Face them and foil them; retreat is defeat—
Confidence carries the keys of success.

Distance alone makes the mist appear dense;
Stars are not fire but green worlds, were you there;
Hills lose their altitude, seen from above—
Confidence carries the keys of success.

Fortune still frowns on the timid and frail;
Swimmers are buoyed up by beating the wave;
Virtue and valour will vanquish all foes—
Confidence carries the keys of success.

Turn to the truth, like the earth to the east;
Light bringeth life, as the summer brings fruit;
"Dauntless and deathless" our motto must be—
Confidence carries the keys of success.

 


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GARFIELD.


Once more the world, by one of those dread crimes
Which prompt the thought, "we've fall'n on evil times,"
Is startled.   Garfield shot!—though death was meant—
Not dead.   'Twas his high place to represent
The growth of Freedom in the Occident,
Whose strength of fifty millions stamps its worth.
A cyclone of deep sorrow, o'er the earth,
This dastard deed of darkness hath made flow.
In every nation, all! all! high and low
Accept the sorrow and resent the blow:
Thus sympathy the world hath linked, and we,
In this, of future good an augur see.
The blow was aimed at Office, and beyond,
At Man, and nobly did mankind respond.

1881.


[Ed.: President Garfield, 20th U.S. President, was born
 November 19, 1831, in Orange, Ohio. He died
September 19, 1881, in Elbberon, New Jersey after being
shot on July 2 in Washington D.C.]

 

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WEEPING MAY ENDURE FOR A NIGHT, BUT JOY
COMETH IN THE MORNING.


Though weeping may endure the livelong night
    And darkness make more deep the mental gloom,
Joy cometh smiling with the morning light,
    When skies are bright and fields ablaze with bloom:
And thus it is, and this will ever be,
The shell before the egg—the bark before the tree.

'Tis written that the Roman Cæsar wept,
    Then open threw his coffers to the poor;
Great Alexander, who with war had swept
    The world, did weep that he could quell no more;
But gleaming through the deluge of his tears
The Ararat of joy eftsoons appears.

The Israelites in darksome bondage dwelt—
    Egyptian—and endured captivity
In Babylon; but those dark nights did melt
    In joyous day, when God saw fit to free
His people, and His promises renew:
Enduring winter renders summer due.

The bitter ever cometh first—the sweet
    Succeedeth.   Work's the antecessor—Wage
The guerdon gained.   While under Labour's feet,
    The very dust turns gold.   The pilgrimage
Leads to the shrine.   Our toils and troubles teach
That sorrow is the soul's most skillful leech.

Our pains impel our brains until we find
    What purblind men nor dream of nor expect,
For countless ills, a cure within the mind;
    Go earn and have—deserve and then select!
The trial comes before the triumph still;
The valley forms the basement of the hill.

The grain endures its night in murky mould,
    Like genius birth'd in dull obscurity,
Then leaps to light and dons its garb of gold,
    As mind assumes the mantle of the free;
From lowly life thus Burns and Shakespere came;
The blackest coal emits the reddest flame.

The diamond on the surface may not shine,
    For merit ever hides itself from view,
But down within the dusk and miry mine
    Are nuggets gained and diamonds dug.   'Tis true
The cross must come before the crowning wreath;
Life's Palace stands beside the Gates of Death.

Build firm the base if tall the spire at top,
    A maxim not unworthy wary thought;
So hard to rise, so easy 'tis to drop
    Inverted nature ever comes to nought.
To climb the lofty altitude of Art
The tourist from the valley still must start.

Sufficient for the day the evil is,
    And perils here with patience should be borne,
Though pain and pleasure, misery and bliss
    Seem hardly balanced in this earth-sojourn;
The wrong as 'twere its shadow haunts the right,
The darker shade cast by the brighter light.

That child of Error, Evil, oft is found
    Companion of, or counterfeiting good,
And vice and virtue strangely interwound,
    Like snakes and stems of flowers in tangled wood:
Elysian lights still burn through stygian gloom;
The truth prevails—Christ riseth from the tomb!

Though weeping make the lingering night forlorn,
    As frost and snow once filled her wintry bowers,
Yet joy will greet us with the opening morn,
    As Spring the earth with light and floods of flowers;
Thus helplessness makes hopefulness more strong,
And sorrow's branches blossom into song.

Then fear not, faint not, falter not, sad heart,
    Though blind with weeping grasp this truth and
        grope,
Faith feels her way where Reason fails.   The part
    Of wisdom is to tread the path of hope.
Although its roots are buried in the sod,
The flower looks up to sunlight and to God.

Of all the flowers that bloom in mental mould
    The fairest one is white humility;
The daffodil may flaunt its flag of gold,
    The modest daisy better pleaseth me;
And simple goodness wins this soul of mine,
Where greatness fails, and talents vainly shine.

The tops that spin the swiftest seem to sleep;
    Things are not as, nor what they seem to be;
From darkest cloud the brightest lightnings leap;
    The Ark of Hope floats o'er unfathomed sea:
And, though they walk in darkness and in awe,
They bear God's Lamp who keep the moral law.

In fine, to mark the moral of my lay,
    Be gentle, earnest, hopeful, patient, brave,
And work, and wait with joy the coming day;
    By Faith's bright feet, when planted on the wave,
The sea is found as solid as the shore—
The crust conceals, but still contains the core.

 

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THE PILOT MAXWELL.


As down the western welkin rode
Day's cloud-illuminating god,
And, bathed in his all-gilding ray,
The valleys green and mountains grey
Smiled farewell to departing day,
And welcomed the autumnal eve,
Of Scotland Maxwell took his leave.
    Clydesdale, his fleet-wing'd gallant ship;
Upon the waters seemed to skip,
Kissed with her keel the ebbing tide
That lingered in the mouth of Clyde,
As though she pressed a fond embrace
Upon the lambent billows' face;
Then with a swift though gentle motion
Glided on the peaceful ocean.
Unto the west of Ireland bound,
Swift flew the plunging paddles round;
The gentle zephyrettic gale
With easy vigour swelled the sail;
Thus, forth impelled by steam and wind,
She left the shores of Clyde behind.
On heaven's blue margin in the west
The clouds in burnished gold were drest.
Low sank the fiery orbèd sun.
Dim Night drew down her curtains dun,
Inviting all to seek repose—
Enjoining sleep all eyes to close.
    Soon all on board retired to sleep
Save those that must the night-watch keep:
The Captain, the chief Engineer,
The Pilot—his the task to steer—
These on deck must stay perforce
To guide and guard their nightly course.
    Well rode the bark till night's pale noon!
High towered the silver-mantled moon
And o'er the ocean's surface blue
A softly trembling radiance threw!
The glowing planets rolled on high
Like globes of fire along the sky;
The star-bespangled Milky Way
Illumined heaven's arches gray;
And many a mildly-twinkling star
Shot its pale rays through distance far,
Whilst o'er the wide expanded main
Tranquility and silence reign,
Save that the ever-falling spray,
While speeding on her liquid way,
Made music by the vessel's prow,
Sings evermore "God speed the plough."
    But O! how brief is earthly bliss!
What scene must now succeed to this!
"What fume is that which taints the air
With fiery stench?  Ah! whence or where
Issues this choking sulphurous smell?"
The Captain cried ; but none could tell.
"Whence may this burning odour come!"
Exclaimed the Pilot,—all were dumb.
    Then with a calm, collected air
To heaven he breathed a fervent prayer,
Which scarce was ended ere a flame
Wing'd with resistless fury came,
Sweeping the decks, firing the shrouds,
Like lightning bursting from the clouds,
From either paddle-box—dread flaws—
As Hell had ope'd her fiery jaws
And in the red, terrific gape
Presented Death with no escape!
"Fire! fire!"   Loud—louder rings the cry!
Affrighted Sleep fled—every eye
Is open!   At the Captain's word,
Are quickly seen "All hands aboard."
At every pump the seamen strain—
The flame withstands their efforts vain,
As Etna would the fall of rain.
Despair is heard from every tongue;
Now on the prow the people throng,
A momentary safe retreat
Free from the blaze, but not the heat;
The rapid motion and the wind
Cast all the streaming flames behind!
Yet, see the gallant Maxwell stand,
With burning rudder in his hand,
The still-determined hero guides
And hurls the vessel through the tides!
    Swift o'er the surge the ruin flies;
High Heaven is pierced with shrieks
        and cries
Of passengers in wild dismay,
Who fall upon their knees and pray
To all the Powers above, to save
From a fiery death or watery grave!
    The flames that issue from the wreck
Are roasting Maxwell on the deck;
But, O! not this his heart dismays,
He calmly stands amid the blaze
With hope depicted in his eyes,
As on the burning vessel flies,
Till Galloway's rocky coast appears,
Whose summits seem to threat the spheres.
    Three times a cloud of lurid hue,
Of intermingled red and blue,
Concealed the Pilot from their view,
And thrice shrill groans of deep despair
With terror mingled rent the air.
    By turns, as they a glimpse could catch
Of Maxwell on his dreadful watch,
Who, like a martyr at the stake,
Stood self-devoted for their sake,
His wife, his mother, and his child
Would wring their hands with horror wild
And agony, and oft exclaim
For help, on their Redeemer's name.
    And whether by chance it was, or God
Stretched forth his all-protecting rod,
To charcoal burnt, the towering mast
Fell prone into the watery waste,
And with a crash of thunder sent
Broad-gleaming to the firmament
A cloud of embers, which the wind
From divers points of heaven joined,
To strew in scintillation bright ;
Which seen through all the gloom of night
Alarmed the natives on the coast,
And, ere a moment's time was lost,
In hopes that some might yet be saved,
A hundred flaming torches waved.
What hopes were kindled by their light!
To Maxwell, what a welcome sight!
He understood the signal right
Like lightning shot along the deep
She clove the surf—with deathful sweep
The vessel bore full on the rock—
The pilot shunned that fateful stroke,
And ran her alongside the strand,
Thus all in safety reached the land.
    But Maxwell, O! how altered now,
The fire hath singed his manly brow;
His handsome, young, athletic form
Hath shrunk like age.   In that dread storm
Of one brief night, O God, to say!
His coal-black locks were turned to gray;
His limbs disabled, too, for life;
His child, his mother, and his wife,
On him dependent for their bread,
Must now on public alms be fed:
And is this all the hero's claim?—
Proud Scotland's glory and her shame.

 

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THE INDIAN FAMINE.


A death wail from the dusky sons of Ind,
    Smiting on England's ear, hath touched her heart;
She sees the lineaments of human kind
    Though rags of race and creed, thus rent apart;
The doors of self no longer may shut in
That sympathy which makes all nations feel akin.

She steps nigher Heaven when standing on this fact
    "I own a heart that keenly feels for others;"
Britannia now as ever scorns to act
    As though God's children could be less than brothers;
Here Labour from his frugal board doth spare,
That they who have not, may, at least though scantly,
        share.

We wear the honours, and will pay the price
    Ungrudgingly, of Empire in the East;
We plead most guilty to that God-like vice—
    Ambition—which hath so our soil increas'd
That yon bright Sun, through earth's diurnal round,
Forever sheddeth light on Queen Victoria's ground.

Then let us bear the burden of the time;
    May Englishmen prove equal to their task!
Go feed the famine of a foreign clime—
    Give meat unto the million mouths that ask!
Let England's wealth be bountifully given,
And freely, as if rained down from benignant Heaven.

1877.

 

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FESTAL CHRISTMAS.


                Festal Christmas
                As an isthmus
In the Sea of Time appears,
                From brink to brink
                To bridge and link
The archipelago of years.

                Man, the tourist,
                As a florist,
Halt's to gather, on this spot,
                Love and beauty,
                Truth and duty,
Flowers to cheer and charm his lot.

                O may the path
                Life's pilgrim hath
Thick strewn with such sweet flowerets be,
                Whose scent and bloom,
                Beyond the tomb,
Will fragrant light eternity!

1877.

 

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NIGHT.


Mysterious Night! dark-featured solemn queen,
Around whose swarthy brow the radiant planets roll
What language shall essay to paint the scene
Of all thy burning glories, viewed from pole to pole.
The moon, an ark of light, seems floating on a sea
Of snowy clouds, which wave-like spread 'neath the
Expanse of heaven's dim, shadowy dome;
And pouring thence a flood of silvery sheen,
All mildly radiant, full upon the green
And stilly bosom of this half-illumined sphere,
Where thou dost reign in silence solemn as the tomb
Diffusing o'er the soul a deep but lovely gloom.
    And now the aspect of the sky is changed—
The horizontal line is lost in shade,
The crowding stars are in such order ranged,
Their mingled blaze a mighty arch hath made,
Which, like a bridge, doth span this nether globe;
And, stretching where the wheeling planets fade,
Seems like a belt of silver round thy sable robe.
    Now, on her circling journey round thy throne, swart
        Night,
Behold yon lofty arch scaled by the Moon—
Heaven's highest arch, the zenith of the sky!
Where fiery Phœbus glowing sits at noon
On Summer's day, to scan the earth with ardent eye,
Shed on the blue-topt hills his lustrous light
And make deep glens and vales with streaming glory
        bright.
    Now murky vapours flit by Phœbe's face
And fling their shadows through th' illumined space,
Like loose leaves floating on a limpid stream,
Or eagles soaring in the sun's bright beam,
Whose images through dimming distance flow
In chequered beauty on the ground below.
    The gloomy train is gone!
And now the sky is clear
As beauty's cloudless brow
When sweet contentment sits thereon.
    Behold the welkin now!
A shower of fire and gold
Is hanging in the midnight firmament,
Save where the fleecy drapery of clouds
In flowing sheets resplendently is rolled
Around the amber circle of the moon.
    Now, by the skyey zephyrs quickly rent,
Like sun-illumined billows tossing roll
Those bright-wing'd vapours from the sheeny orb,
And, ranged in tufted crowds,
Hang o'er the southern pole,
With majesty superb,
Which morning's sun will melt to dewdrops soon.
Oh! who would sleep upon a night like this,
When thus he might enjoy the kindling bliss
Of looking nature fairly in the face,
Where rolling planets sparkle through the boundless
        space;
While Poesy bids fancy quit the sod
And climb yon steep of stars, which leads to God.

 

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THE OLD STYDD, RIBCHESTER.


Lonely as some proud pyramid
    That mystery maketh more sublime,
    Through the grey welkin of dull time
Dim gleams thy sacred form, Old Stydd.

Thy ancient altar-fires lie hid
    Beneath a load, piled through the past;
    And thou the sway no longer hast
O'er saints who sought thy shrine, proud Stydd.

The age of chivalry hath slid
    Down Time's declivity, alas!
    No more is heard the solemn mass
Within thy cloistered walls, dark Stydd.

The present shrouds as with a lid
    Of adamant thy holiness,
    Yet fervent spirits, through the stress
Of centuries, feel its force, blest Stydd.

Thou dost the years defiance bid—
    By moss and ivy overgrown,
    Simplicity hath fixed her throne
On thy rude structure, ancient Stydd.

'Tis fabled that the Earthquake did
    Not thee molest when once it came
    Engulphing all; and hence thy name
Tradition holds derived, charmed Stydd.

But, truth or fable, Death could rid—
    Thou mocker of mortality—
    The world of them, but not of thee—
Thy worshippers—and builders—Stydd.

Though Mutilation chafed and chid
    And strongly smote thy changeless form,
    Like some stout ship, through calm and storm,
Eight hundred years thou'st braved, grey Stydd.

Through the dim future may'st thou thrid
    Thy lonely pathway down the days,
    Till, bathed in the millennial rays,
Thy dark form shall grow bright, weird Stydd.



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