The Poets and Poetry of Cecil County, Maryland
Part 4 out of 7
That token a sublimer cause!
What say'st thou? Giant, young and strong,
What impulse heaves thy throbbing breast?
Shall warrior plumes bedeck thy crest?
Wilt whisper peace? Or shout for war?
Wilt plead for right, or bleed for wrong?
Wilt peal the bugle-blast afar
And urge the cannon's madd'ning roar?
Or wing the note through vale and glen:--
Hail! Peace on earth! Good-will to men!
Reason return:--let strife be o'er?
Thou speak'st not, giant, but I feel
Hope's roseate flush upon my brow.
Thy deeds will seal thy silent vow.
New aims thy glory will reveal.
Thou heed'st the anguished bosom's smart,
And thou wilt choose the better part.
Thou'lt live on hist'ry's brightest page
A monarch mighty, gentle sage:
Great, great for what thou wilt have done
And blest in all the course thou'lt run:--
Thy crown not carved in brass or wood,
To crumble or decay;
But be in endless day,
Emblem of grandeur, shrined in good.
And truth and peace will round thee weave
An amaranthyne wreath of love,
Its blessed motto ... trust--believe.
And thou wilt share the realm above,
Where bleeding hearts shall triumph meet,
Around one common mercy-seat.
All hail, then, beautiful New-Year!
Hero of promise, fraught with cheer!
Bright promise of the glad return
Of glowing fires that erst did burn
On hearths long desolate!
Thy stainless youth supports our faith
That thou wilt break the bonds of death
And snap the web of hate.
* * * * *
And thou farewell, grim tyrant old!
Who, who would call thee back!
Thou cam'st with bloody footstep, bold;
Thou leav'st a blood-stained track.
Go! Find a grave in the billowy surge
That ne'er can wash thee clean;
The wail of millions be thy dirge--
Thy judge--the Great Unseen!
And when the resurrection morn
Shall seek thy name to blot,
Ho! Heed the voice that asks in scorn,--
Thou liv'dst and reign'dst for what?
Passion unbridled, stubborn pride,
Avengers, thine to rue,
Of outraged virtue, truth defied,
Shall 'balm in blood thy due,
Lost eighteen sixty-two.
TO S---- 1864.
The night is strangely, wildly dark;
The thunders fiercely roll,
And lightnings flash their angry spark;
But thou absorb'st my soul.
I have no care for storm-king's cloud,
How black soe'er it be;--
No truant thought for earth's dark shroud:
I'm thinking, love, of thee.
To-night the God of battles views,
With deprecating eye,
A scene where demons wild infuse
A thirst for victory.
'Tis His, not mine to guide the storm;
'Tis His to calm the sea:
My spirit hovers 'round thy form.
I'm thinking, love, of thee.
Time's cycle once again has wrought
Its round:--I'm twenty six.
Another mile-stone's gained--sad thought--
Toward deep, silent Styx.
I count no laurels I have won;
Years bring no joy to me,
While yet alone I wander on
In timid thought of thee.
Years six and twenty have been mine
To journey on alone:
Shall I as many more repine,
Before I am undone?
Or shall the journey henceforth take
A brighter phaze for me?
Shall I next six-and-twenty make
My journey, love, with thee?
If so, good-bye grim doubt and fear:
Adieu to arid sand.
All Hail! Oh prospect bright and clear!
All Hail, oasis grand!
Hand joined in hand, heart linked with heart,
Come joy, come hope, come glee!
United, ne'er on earth to part,
I'll always think of thee.
If not, Good-bye! The spirit breaks;
The fountain soon must dry.
If not, good God! The temple shakes;
It totters! What am I?
A wreck of hope!--An aimless thing!
A helmless ship at sea
To whose last spar love still must cling,
And sigh:--Alas!--for thee.
MRS. ANNIE McCARER DARLINGTON.
Annie McCarer Darlington, the daughter of Charles Biles and Catharine
Ross Biles, was born July 20th, 1836, at Willow Grove, in Cecil county,
about four miles east of the village of Brick Meeting House, and near
the old Blue Ball Tavern. She is a cousin of Mrs. Ida McCormick, whose
poetry may be found in this book, their mothers being sisters. Miss
Biles was married November 20th, 1860, to Francis James Darlington, of
West Chester, Pa., and spent the next five years of her life on a farm
near Unionville, formerly the property of the sculptor, Marshall Swayne.
The family then removed to their present residence near Westtown
Friends' Boarding School, where they spend the Summer season. The
Winters are spent with their seven children, in a quiet little home in
the town of Melrose, on the banks of the beautiful Lake Santa Fe, in
Florida. Miss Biles began to write poetry when about eighteen years of
age, and for the ensuing five years was a frequent contributor to _The
Cecil Democrat_, under the _nom de plume_ of "Gertrude St. Orme."
A BIRTHDAY GREETING
TO MY LITTLE NEPHEW.
[JULY 4TH, 1886.]
I know a happy little boy,
They call him Charlie Gray,
Whose face is bright, because you know,
He's six years old to-day.
I scarce can think six years have passed
Since Charlie really came,
I well remember long ago,
We never heard his name.
But here he is, almost a man,
With knickerbockers on,
And baby dresses packed away,
You'll find them, every one.
And every year as time rolls on,
And Charlie's birthdays come,
The world goes out to celebrate
With banner, fife, and drum.
At sunrise on those happy days
The cannon's deaf'ning roar,
Reminded us that Charlie Gray
Was two, or three, or four.
But now those landmarks all are passed,
He's getting fast away,
The boy's a man, no baby now,
He's six years old to-day.
Just think of it, ye many friends
Who wish him worlds of joy,
That Charlie Gray is six to-day,
A patriotic boy.
And if he sometimes noisy grows,
What matter, if he's right?
Give me the boys that make a noise
And play with all their might.
I know 'tis whispered far and near,
That Charlie loves his way,
But I can tell of grown up men,
Who do the same to-day.
Who never yield or quit the field,
Can you blame Charlie then?
For most small boys will imitate
What's seen in grown up men.
And now good friends, I give you leave
To find him if you can,
Another boy, more glad with joy,
Than this brave little man.
Heigh ho! I still am in a maze,
To think he's six to-day,
Some other time I'll tell you more,
If--Charlie says I may.
Falling, falling--gently falling,
Pattering on the window pane,
Like a weird spirit calling
Come the heavy drops of rain.
Sweeping by the crazy casement,
Where the creeping ivy clings,
Sounds the wind in gustful musings
Loudly speaking bitter things.
Hush! the tones are sinking lower,
Sweetest strains of music roll;
Like Aeolian harps in Heaven,
Pouring incense o'er the soul.
But 'tis gone! a wilder wailing
Fills the air where music reigned,
Hoarsely groans the wild storm-demon,
Drowning all those sweeter strains.
And the tall pines shake and quiver
As the monarch rideth by;
Onward where the troubled river
Dashes spray-drops towards the sky.
But he pauses not to listen,
Onward with demoniac will;
Till Aeolian harps in Heaven
Softly whisper, "Peace, be still."
THE OLD OAK TREE.
Woodman, spare that tree!
Touch not a single bough:
In youth it sheltered me,
And I'd protect it now.
--George P. Morris.
'Tis living yet! Time has not dared
To mark it, as his own,
Nor claimed one bough, but kindly spared
This giant, firm and lone.
It stands, as stood in years gone by,
The chieftain in its shade,
And breathed the warning, ere the cry
Of war went through the glade.
The Council tires then brightly burned
Beneath its spreading bough,
But oh, alas! the scene has turned,
Where burn those fires now?
The old oak stands where it did then,
The same fresh violets bloom,
But far down in the narrow glen,
They deck the Indian's tomb.
Life then seemed bright and free from care;
When this old tree was young
The Indian maiden twined her hair,
And to her chieftain sung
A song, low, gentle, and sincere,
In pathos rich and rare;
The warrior-lover brushed a tear,
For thought was busy there.
Yes, busy was the fertile brain,
That bid him onward flee,
The Indian moon was on the wane
And drooped the hawthorne tree.
The light canoe of rounded bark
Scarce dared to skim the flood,
For they had come with meaning dark
To ravage lake and wood.
* * * * *
The conflict ended! but the bow
Which twanged across the plain.
Dealt its proud owner death's cold blow,
And laid him with the slain.
But to a better, happier home,
Have gone the Indian braves;
Where cruel white men cannot come,
To call their brothers--slaves.
Then let it stand, that aged oak,
Among its kindred trees;
Tho' now, no more the wigwam smoke
Will curl upon the breeze.
'Tis left alone--the last sad thing
That marks a nation vast,
Then spare it, that its boughs may sing
A requiem to the Past.
Beautiful Florida! land of the flowers,
Home of the mocking bird, saucy and bold,
Sweet are the roses that perfume thy bowers,
And brilliant thy sunshine like burnished gold.
Soft are thy rivulets, gentle thy water-falls,
Rippling so merrily toward the broad sea;
Fringed with bright daisies, which bloom on thy borders,
E'en Nature herself pays a tribute to thee.
Sweeter and lovelier than all thy fair sisters,
Thy gentleness surely hath fame for thee won,
While thy star, not forgotten, shines forth in a glory
That crowns the best flag that waves under the sun.
Thy name brings a scent of the dogwood and myrtle,
The jessamine, too, comes in for a share,
With great yellow petals so heavy with perfume,
That can with the tube-rose's only compare.
Tho' large be the family, there's room for the fairest;
No house is too small for a family with love:
So Florida, thou who art brightest and dearest,
The "Pet of the Household" forever shall prove.
Thy rivers are broad and thy lakes fringed with grasses,
The glint of the waves of the bright Santa Fe,
With her edging of cypress and long-floating mosses,
Forever are murmuring a sonnet to thee.
While high on a hill sits the Queen of the Villas,
Sweet Melrose! whose name is the least of her charms,
Waves a welcome to all, to come over the billows
And find a safe home 'neath her sheltering arms.
And so they are coming, the weak and the weary,
From near and from far, the strong and the brave,
All ready to drink of the life giving breezes,
The only Elixir that truly can save.
'Tis Evening! soul enchanting hour,
And queenly silence reigns supreme;
A shade is cast o'er lake and bower,
All nature sinks beneath the power
Of sweet oblivion's dream.
The Sun--the hero-god of day,
Has from this happier half of earth,
Passed on with sweet life-giving ray,
To smile on millions glad and gay,
In sorrow or in mirth.
While in his stead, the Heavens above
Are shaded with a silver light,
So soft, so pure--that angels rove,
To guard from evil those who love
The God, who made all bright.
Then soon that planetary sea
Is studded o'er with diadems,
Shining alike on land and sea.
High, high above the loftiest tree;
Proud Nature's priceless gems.
Who would not leave the crowded room,
The grand, but cold musician's art;
To wander 'neath the calm still moon.
When nature speaks 'mid wild perfume,
So sweetly to the heart.
Who would not shun proud Fashion's hall,
Escape her cold and torturings ways,
To calmly rest where dew-drops fall;
Perfumes that mind and soul enthrall,
Beneath fair Luna's rays.
Who would exchange a home of flowers,
Down in a pure and modest dell,
For palaces 'mid art-reared bowers,
Washed o'er by artificial showers,
Where naught but sorrows dwell.
Blest hour of thought! to thy pure scene
A mild and soothing charm is given,
When hearts to hearts in love convene,
And roses deck the silvered green
Of mingled Earth and Heaven.
The truth--that plainly proves a God,
Not chance, performed the better part
Which teaches us His Heavenly Word:
Breathes magic for the singing bird,
And links us heart to heart.
REV. WILLIAM DUKE.
The Rev. William Duke was born in the southern part of what is now
Harford county, but was at the time of his birth included in Baltimore
county, on the 15th of September, 1757, and died in Elkton on the 31st
of May, 1840. He became enamoured of the doctrines of Methodism in early
youth, and allied himself with that denomination before its separation
from the Protestant Episcopal Church, and was licensed to preach by Rev.
Francis Asbury when he was only seventeen years old. Mr. Duke's name
appears upon the minutes of the first Conference, held in Philadelphia
in 1774, as one of the seven ministers who were that year taken on
trial. The next year he was admitted to full membership, and remained in
connection with the Conference as a traveling preacher until 1779, when
he ceased to travel, and subsequently took orders in the Protestant
Episcopal Church; being impelled to do so by his opposition to the
erection of the Methodist Society into an independent Church.
Mr. Duke became Rector of North Elk Parish in 1793, but resigned the
charge three years later, and removed to Anne Arundel county, but
returned to Elkton about a year afterwards; soon after he removed to
Kent county, where he taught a parochial school for a short time, but
returned to Elkton again in 1799 and opened a school, and preached
during the three following years at North East, Elkton, and at the
Episcopal Church near New London, Pa.
In 1803 he was appointed Professor of Languages in St. John's College,
Annapolis, and had charge of St. Ann's Church, in that city, until 1806,
when he returned to Elkton, and the next year took charge of the Elkton
Mr. Duke remained in Cecil county until 1812, when he took charge of
Charlotte Hall, in St. Mary's county, and continued in charge of the
school at that place until 1814, when he returned to Elkton, where he
officiated as aforetime until the Spring of 1818, when he was appointed
Principal of the Academy. He continued to reside in Elkton until the
time of his death.
In 1793 Mr. Duke married Hetty Coudon, the daughter of the Rev. Joseph
Coudon, a former Rector of North Elk Parish, and the ancestor of the
Coudon family of this county. Mr. and Mrs. Duke were the parents of Miss
Hetty Duke, who was their only child, and who died in Elkton, February
Mr. Duke was a very learned man, and is said by the Rev. Ethan Allan,
the Historian of "The Old Parishes of Maryland," to have been more of
the student than the preacher. He was the author of a pamphlet published
in Elkton in 1795, entitled "Observations on the Present State of
Religion in Maryland," which is now of great rarity and value. He also
published a small volume entitled "Hymns and Poems on Various
Occasions," which was printed by Samuel and John Adams, of Baltimore, in
1790; and several other poems of considerable length, the most popular
of which was entitled "A View of the Woods," which was descriptive of
the adventures and experience of Western emigrants in the latter part of
the last century.
The following selections have been made from "Hymns and Poems on Various
And truly if they had been mindful of that country from whence they
came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned; but now
they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly.
Abr'am, the father of the Jews,
The servant, and the friend of God,
When call'd from heaven, did not refuse
To leave his Syrian abode.
His father's house and kindred dear
Plead, and dissuaded him in vain;
Neither could earthly hope nor fear
The noble enterprise restrain.
Nor he alone; a host of saints
Renounced the world, and nobly chose
That heavenly inheritance
Which neither death nor sorrow knows.
No intervening dangers check
Their ardent progress to the skies,
Well may they venture, who expect
An heavenly and immortal prize.
When faith to their delighted view
Their future blissful portion brings,
They, firm and cheerful, bid adieu
To sin, and self, and earthly things.
Happy to leave the world behind,
Their conduct speaks a noble aim;
They seek a city, and shall find
The promised new Jerusalem.
Nor yet does impotence or fear
Their sense of earthly bliss restrain,
Did they not heaven to earth prefer,
They soon might wed the world again.
In heaven their treasure is laid up
Beyond the reach of accident,
There shall their lively glorious hope
Receive its full accomplishment.
But yield yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead;
and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
My heart, the world forsake,
And every earthly toy;
The Lord of all thy portion make,
And in Him all enjoy.
May sensible delight,
Corrected and refined,
A thirst of nobler joys excite,
And urge the lingering mind.
Should ardent love impel
And actuate my soul,
Still may celestial fires prevail,
And every thought control.
Should glory stimulate,
And daring deeds propose,
That only fame I'd emulate,
To triumph in the cross.
Or should my yielding powers
Acknowledge pleasure's sway,
I'd think of sacred streams and bowers,
And sweets that ne'er decay.
Should soaring science me
Her votary avow,
My only excellence should be
Christ crucified to know.
Should wealth my mind impress,
With the desire of more,
In Christ the fullness I possess,
Of Heaven's exhaustless store.
With all that nature craves,
Fully from thence supplied,
No aching want my bosom heaves
No wish unsatisfied.
REJOICING IN HOPE.
Tost on the troubled sea of life,
On every side assailed,
Involved in passion's stormy strife,
In irksome suff'rance held.
The faithful word of promise cheers
And bears my spirits up,
Dispels my dark desponding fears
And stablishes my hope.
Hope that shall every toil survive,
That smoothes the rugged path,
That mitigates the ills of life,
And soothes the hour of death.
And when the storms of life are o'er,
And all our conflicts cease,
When landed on the heavenly shore
To enjoy eternal peace.
Hope at the last, her charge resigned,
Securely we dismiss,
And an abundant entrance find,
To the abodes of bliss.
Till then our progress she attends
To solace and relieve:
And waits till every conflict ends
To take her final leave.
Possessed of all we hoped below,
Our utmost wish attained,
Our happiness complete, we know
Our full perfection gained.
Thus may I cheerfully endure,
Till thus my warfare past;--
Suffice for me the promise sure,
I shall be crowned at last.
There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
Oh how I languish to possess,
A safe and permanent abode!
To rest in unmolested peace,
And cast my care on thee, my God.
In thee I joy, in thee I rest,
Though all inferior comforts fail;
No hopeless anguish heaves my breast,
And no tormenting fears assail.
To thee with confidence I look,
And calmly wait thy promised aid;
I rest securely on that Rock,
On which Almighty help is laid.
Oh may I on His firmness stand,
The ground of my immortal hope;
Or nobly rise, at his command,
To Pisgah's heaven-aspiring top.
That I may with ecstatic view,
My future heritage descry,
Where pleasures spring forever new,
And perfect love shall never die.
What racking fear, what painful grief
Ensue a pleasant sin!
In vain the world proffers relief
For maladies within.
Its blandishments and smooth deceit
No real succor bring;
Its remedies but irritate
And pleasure leaves a sting.
Confusion, shame, and slavish fear
O'erwhelm a guilty mind;
A burden more than I can bear,
My sins upon me bind.
Oh had I weighed the matter well
Ere my consent was given!
Avoided then the gates of hell
And urged my way to heaven!
Lord, give me strength now to resume
My former confidence;
Remove my terrors, bid me come
With hopeful penitence.
In mercy hear my humble cry,
Redeem my soul from sin,
My guilty conscience pacify
And speak the peace serene.
But now the dawn of day appears,
And now the dappled East declares
Ambrosial morn again arrived,
And nature's slumbering powers revived,
And while they into action spring
The infant breeze with odorous wing,
Perfumes of sweetest scent exhales,
And the enlivened sense regales,
With sweets exempt from all alloy
Which neither irritate nor cloy.
Nor less the calmly gladdened sight
Enjoys the milder forms of light,
Reflected soft in twinkling beams,
From numberless translucent gems.
But now Aurora dries her tears,
And with a gayer mien appears,
With cheerful aspect smiles serene,
And ushers in the splendid scene
Of golden day: while feeble night
Precipitates his dreary flight
Dispelled by the all cheering sway
Of the resplendent God of day,
Who, mounted in his royal car,
And all arrayed in golden glare
With arduous career drives on
Ascending his meridian throne:
From thence a Sovereign of the day,
His full-grown glories to display.
EDWIN EVANS EWING.
Edwin Evans Ewing, son of Patrick Ewing and brother of William Pinkney
Ewing, was born on his father's farm on the Octoraro creek, not far from
Rowlandville, in this county, on the 9th of January, 1824. His family is
of Scotch-Irish extraction, and settled on the Octoraro more than a
century ago. The family has long been distinguished for the
intellectuality and literary ability of its members, among whom were the
Rev. John Ewing, one of the most eminent scientists and Presbyterian
divines of his time, and his daughter Sarah, who became the wife of John
Hall, and whose biography is published in this volume.
The subject of this sketch spent his youth and early manhood, on his
father's farm. Recently when asked for a sketch of his life Mr. Ewing
replied: "I didn't have any life. I just growed like Topsy. I didn't
have any educating. I just picked it up; and as for poetry, I never
wrote any, only rhyme." Notwithstanding this assertion, Mr. Ewing being
unable to resist the prompting of the "divinity which stirred within
him," when quite young, began to write poetry. There seems to be a
subtle influence pervading the romantic Octoraro hills, which if not the
direct cause of poetic inspiration seems to encourage its growth, Mr.
Ewing being one of five poets who claim that region as their birthplace,
or who have profited by a residence therein.
When quite young Mr. Ewing wrote poetry which was published in the local
journals of Cecil and Lancaster counties, and subsequently contributed
poetry to the Philadelphia _Dollar Newspaper_, being a contemporary
contributor to that journal with his brother, William P. Ewing, and the
late David Scott (of James.)
In 1856 Mr. Ewing made a trip to the Southwest, traveling extensively on
horseback in Texas. He gave an account of his travels and a description
of the country through which he passed in a series of letters published
in the _Cecil Whig_, which were much admired.
In 1861, Mr. Ewing became the proprietor and editor of the _Cecil Whig_,
which was the Union organ of the county. Being a man of decided
convictions, and unflinching courage, he never lost an opportunity to
advocate the cause of the Union, to which he adhered with great
devotion, through evil and through good report.
In 1876 he disposed of the _Whig_ and the next year bought an interest
in the _Kansas Farmer_ and the _Juvenile Magazine_, published in Topeka,
Kansas. He subsequently became connected with the _Daily Capital_, and
eventually became sole proprietor of the _Kansas Farmer_. The climate of
Kansas not agreeing with him, he removed to Highlands, Macon county,
N.C., where in 1882 he established the _Blue Ridge Enterprise_ which he
soon afterwards disposed of, and in 1885 became the proprietor of the
_Midland Journal_, published in the village of Rising Sun, in this
Mr. Ewing is a brilliant and forcible writer. Like many others Mr. Ewing
kept none of his poems except one which is too lengthy to be given a
place in this volume. In consequence of this the compiler has only been
able to obtain the following specimens of his poetry after great labor
THE CHERUBIM--A VISION.
'Twas at that season, when the gloom
Of cheerless Winter's pass'd away,
And flowers spring up, with sweet perfume,
To scent the breeze and cheer our way,
Where'er we saunter--o'er the hill,
Or through the valley--warm and still,
Or broken only by the sound
Of tinkling rills, which softly flow,
And busy bees, that hum around
The flowers which on their borders grow,
That I, from life's turmoil had strayed
To spend an hour in solitude;
And where a sparkling fountain played,
I laid me down, in pensive mood,
To ponder o'er the fleeting day
Of youth, that hies so fast away
In golden dreams which quickly fly,
Like tints that deck a Summer sky.
Soon Fancy, on her airy wing,
Was sporting mid Elysian bowers,
Where flowers of sweetest odor spring,
And birds of golden plumage sing,
And wanton thro' the sylvan bowers.
There lakelets sparkled in the glow,
Wreathed round with flowers of many a hue,
And golden pebbles shone below
The wave that bore the swan of snow,
Reflecting, in its mirror true,
The flowers which o'er its surface grew,
The tints of earth--the hues of sky--
That in its limpid bosom lie.
And groups of happy children played
Around the verge of each cascade;
Or gambol'd o'er the flowery lea
In wanton mirth and joyous glee;
Pursuing, o'er the sparkling lawn,
The insect in its airy flight,
Which still eludes, but tempting on
From flower to flower, with plumage bright,
The hand that woos to stay its flight--
Till soaring high, on pinions wild
It leaves the charm'd and tearful child.
One maid there was, divinely fair,
Whose cheeks, beneath her peerless eyes,
Bloomed like the roses, rich and rare,
That yield perfume to summer skies;
Her shining locks of silky hair
Hung round her neck like grapes of gold,
And o'er her snowy bosom roll'd,
Hiding the blush that mantled there.
The brightest of the fairy throng,
She led the dancing group along
Through tangled brakes and fretted bowers,
Where grew the richest, rarest flowers,
That wooed the bee to banquet there,
Or yielded sweets to Summer air.
But she who moved with elfin pace,
And taught the infant throng to play,
Raised to heaven her cherub face,
While that bright celestial ray,
Which halos the throne of glory round,
Illumed her azure, orient eye,
That seemed to penetrate the sky.
Bending her gaze upon the ground,
Her gentle bosom heaved a sigh,
And anxious faces press around,
While pearls of pity dim each eye,
As tho' they'd weep again to rest
The troubled spirit of that breast.
"Weep not for me!" the cherub said,
While o'er her seraph beauty played
A smile like evening's parting beam,
That sparkles o'er the glassy stream,
Or lingers on a lucid lake--
Whose dimpling wave the zephyrs break.
"Far thro' yon skies, where orient day
Is shedding his last lingering ray,
Bright angels beckon me away;--
I go--I go--a last farewell!"
And as she spoke around her fell,
From heaven, a bright celestial ray,
Whose lustre dimm'd the light of day;
And 'mid that heavenly blaze unfold
Her glittering pinions tipp'd with gold.
While strains of sweet unearthly sound
Awoke their dulcet chime around,
She soared away on wings of light,
Like sparkling meteor of the night;
Still lessening, as she further drew
Amid the ether of heavenly blue,
Till lost within a blazing star
That above the horizon shown--
As if from Paradise a car
'Twere sent to bear the cherub home.
No more that happy throng is rending,
With gladsome shouts the summer air,
Nor songs of love to heaven ascending,
From hearts that know no guile nor care;
But on each peerless infant brow
The gloom of care is settling now;
While passion madly fires each eye,
And swells each bosom beating high;
And tongues that lisped an infant name,
Now speak in haughty tones of Fame!
While some, in senatorial pride,
With scorn their fellow-man deride;
And others, more sanguinary still,
From words of ire appeal to brands,
Nor scruple a brother's blood to spill--
Cain-like!--with ensanguined hands
Polluting the flowers which smile--in vain
Wooing the heart to love again.
Long o'er this painful scene I sighed,
Where licentious passion, unrestrained,
Was left to riot in her pride--
Spreading destruction where'er she reigned.
"And was this bright--this fair domain--
With all its beauty, formed in vain?
Where Nature, a paradise to grace,
Hath loved her every charm to trace,
That man, enamored of distress
Should mar it into wilderness?"
I raised my arm while thus I spoke,
And o'er Beauty's broken bowers sighed;
But with the effort I awoke,
And found myself by Hela's side.
DEATH AND BEAUTY.
On a lone sequestered mead,
Where silver-streamlets flow,
I saw a rose and lily twine,
And in love and beauty grow;
Again to that lone, peaceful spot,
From worldly cares I hied--
But the flowers that lately bloom'd so fair,
Had wither'd, drooped, and died!
Like love's young dream, they passed away,
With all their vernal bloom,
And they, who lately shone so fair,
Now moulder in the tomb!
But ere the minstrels left the bowers,
And to summer climes had fled,
They sang the dirge o'er fading flowers,
That by their stems lay dead.
Slumbering on its mother's breast
A beauteous infant lay,
The blush upon its dimpled cheek,
Was like a rose in May:
But the glow that tinged that cheek so fair,
Was but the transient bloom,
That brightens with the flitting breath--
A flow'ret of the tomb.
The infant oped its azure eyes,
And sweetly smiling, said,
"Mamma," its gentle spirit ebbing,
Was numbered with the dead;
It laid its throbbing temples on
The mother's heaving breast,
And its gentle spirit pass'd to Heaven,
With angels bright to rest!
Lovely as the morning flowers,
That bloom so fresh and gay,
I saw a beauteous fair one decked
In the bridal's bright array;
But she, who had, at morning rise,
Exulted in her bloom,
Was doom'd ere evening's sun had set,
To grace the silent tomb.
Alas! that things so beautiful,
So soon must pass away,
And all of earth that's loveliest
Must moulder in the clay;
But well we know those charms so bright,
Which Heaven hath form'd in love,
Tho' ravaged by death's icy hand,
Shall bloom again above!
TAKE THE HARP.
'Tis supposed the muses hang a harp by every stream, where it
remains till some lady arises to take it and sing the "loves and
joys, the rural scenes and pleasures," the beauty and grandeur of
Take the harp, nor longer leave it
Sighing on the willow tree;
Pass thy gentle fingers o'er it,
And awake its melody;
The streams tho' icy chains may bind them,
Still will murmur back thy trill,
And the roses wild, though blasted,
On thy cheeks are blooming still.
Then touch the harp, till its wild numbers
The lone groves and valleys fill;
And tho' winter's frosts have sear'd them,
Thou canst dream they're beauteous still--
Thou canst clothe their banks with verdure,
And wild flowers above them rise;
What tho' chilly blasts have strewn them,
Their fragrance lingers on thy sighs!
Take the harp, nor on it dirges
Longer let Eolus play;
Touch it, and those notes of sadness
Change to joyous rhapsody!
And tho' the grape, the gift of Autumn,
Has been prest to crown the bowl--
Still in thy tresses shine its clusters,
While down thy snowy neck they roll.
Take the harp, and wake its numbers
To thy sister planet's praise,
As up the eastern sky she blazes,
Followed by the morning rays;
Queen of starry heaven beaming,
From her azure realm afar;
So thou dost shine midst beauty's daughters,
Love's bright and glorious morning star.
DEATH OF THE BEAUTIFUL.
The following poem was written in 1850 on the death of Miss Sarah E.
McCullough, of Pleasant Grove, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. Miss
McCullough was a cousin of Mr. Ewing.
I saw thy form in youthful prime,
Nor thought that pale Decay
Would steal before the steps of Time,
And waste its bloom away.
And thou art dead,
The gifted, the beautiful,
Thy spirit's fled!
Thou, the fairest 'mong ten thousand, art no more!
Death culls the sweetest flowers to grace the tomb--
He hath touched thee--thou hast left us in thy bloom!
How oft amid the virgin throng,
I've seen thee, fairest, dance along;
And thine eyes, so brightly dark,
Gleaming like the diamond's spark;
But now how dim
Those orbs are left--
By Death bereft
Of their brightness,
And that neck of its whiteness,
Where once the curling tress descended,
Where once the rose and lily blended,
As the warm blush came and flew;
Now o'er all hath Death extended
His pallid hue--
Sallow and blue;
And sunken 'neath the purple lid,
Those eyes are hid,
Once so bright;
And the shroud, as thine own pure spirit white,
All that remains of what was once so lovely, holds!
In its snowy folds--
Then fare thee well, sweet one,
Thy bright, thy fleeting race is run,
And with the flowers thou art sleeping,
And o'er thy grave the friends are weeping
Of thine early day.
Thou wert lovely--aye, as Spring,
When birds and blossoms bloom and sing,
The happy, happy hours welcoming
Of gentle May.
In the past I see thee shining,
Like the star of tender morning,
A day of love and peace divining,
And the sky of Hope adorning.
Smiles--that dimpled mouth are wreathing;
Music--those rosy lips are breathing,
Like morn glancing through the sky,
Like the zephyr's softest sigh.
Ah, then, who'd dream that aught so fair,
Was fleeting as the Summer air?
Yet in that hour
Disease, so deceitful, stole upon thee,
As blight upon a flower;
And thou art dead!
And thy spirit's past away.
Like a dew-drop from the spray,
Like a sunbeam from the mountain,
Like a bubble from the fountain;
And thou art now at rest,
In thy damp, narrow cell,
With the clod heap'd o'er thy breast;
Fare thee well!
I'll think of thee, I'll think of thee,
When raging tempests wildly blow,
Mid storm and darkness--wond'rous powers!
Heaping the stainless, virgin snow
Above thy fragile form, that bowed
Beneath the blighting frost that fell,
Scattering o'er earth those gorgeous hues,
Thy grace and pride, sweet Asphodel.
I'll think of thee, I'll think of thee,
When dreary winter leaves the plain,
And smiling spring leads forth in state,
With vestal pride, her flow'ry train,
And vernal songs of love and hope,
In one harmonious concert swell--
Amid the floral throng I'll turn
To thee, alone, sweet Asphodel.
I'll think of thee, I'll think of thee,
When morning dawns upon the world,
And through the golden gates of Heaven,
Like fiery cars his beams are hurled,
Driving the shades of somber night,
Back to their caverned haunts to dwell--
Thou'lt come to me with charms renewed,
My peerless flower, sweet Asphodel.
WILLIAM PINKNEY EWING.
William Pinkney Ewing, son of Patrick Ewing, was born May 28, 1828, on
his father's farm near Rowlandville. He is a brother of Edwin E. Ewing,
a sketch of whose life is published in this book, and to which the
reader is referred for other information respecting the family. Mr.
Ewing's early life was spent on his father's farm. When about eighteen
years of age he commenced to write poetry, the first of which was
published in the Philadelphia _Dollar Newspaper_. He was subsequently a
frequent contributor to the _Ladies' Garland_, the _Cecil Whig_ and
_Cecil Democrat_. In 1848, Mr. Ewing commenced the study of the law in
the office of the late John C. Groome in Elkton, and was admitted to the
Elkton Bar, April 10, 1851. In 1853 he removed to Cincinnati, and became
connected with the editorial department of the _Daily Atlas_ of that
city, and contributed editorially and otherwise to several other papers
in Cincinnati, until the _Atlas_ was merged into the _Gazette_. He then
accepted a position on the _Southern Lady's Book_, published in New
Orleans and remained in that city until the magazine changed
proprietors. Mr. Ewing returned to Elkton in 1855, and resumed the
practice of his profession, but continued to write poetry occasionally
for some years afterwards. In 1871 Mr. Ewing removed to Ashtabula, Ohio,
and has since been connected with newspapers in Chicago, Topeka and
other western cities; and has corresponded occasionally with the New
York _Tribune_, New York _Evening Post_ and _Chicago Tribune_.
In politics Mr. Ewing was originally a Democrat, but in 1850 became a
member of the Free Soil party, and an elector on the Free Soil ticket in
1856. He was a delegate to the Chicago convention that nominated Lincoln
in 1860, and also an elector for the State of Maryland on the Lincoln
ticket the same year. In 186l Mr. Ewing was appointed United States
Naval Agent for the port of Baltimore, and held the position until the
office was abolished in 1865.
In September 1863 he married Mrs. Emma P. Smith, a lady of fine literary
taste and ability who is at this time the head of the cooking school of
the State Agricultural College of Iowa.
Like many other writers Mr. Ewing took no pains to preserve his poems
and it was only after the expenditure of great labor and much trouble
that the following meagre selection was made, which it is feared will
not do full justice to the ability of their author.
THE ANGEL VOICE.
"Oh mother, dear mother,
As calmly last night
I lay on my pallet
An angel in white
Hover'd o'er me, and softly
Said--'come, brother, come,
Away from this world,
To a heavenly home!'"
"Then let me die, mother--
Tho' sweet birds are singing,
And flowers in brightness
And beauty are springing
On hillside and mountain,
O'er meadow and lea,
They no longer possess
Any sweetness for me."
"For that angelic voice,
Ringing still in my ear,
Has attuned my heart
To a holier sphere;
And like a caged eagle,
My soul pines to stay
So long from its home--
Its redeemer away."
O, pale grew that mother,
And heavy her heart,
For she knew her dear boy
From her sight must depart,
And be laid, cold and stiff,
In the earth's humid breast,
Where the wicked cease troubling,
The weary have rest;
But she smoothed down his pillow,
And murmured a prayer,
For the Giver of mercies
Her loved one to spare;
But ere she had finished
Her pious request,
His spirit had flown
To the realms of the blest!
THEN AND NOW.
I love thee, Maude, as I ne'er loved before,
And as I feel I cannot love again;
And though that love has cost me much of pain,
Of agony intense, I would live o'er
Most willingly, each bitter hour I've known
Since first we met, to claim thee as my own.
But mine thou will not be: thy wayward heart
On one by thee deemed worthier is set,
And I must bear the keen and deathless smart,
Of passion unrequited, or forget
That which is of my very life a part.
To cherish it may lead to madness, yet
I will brood over it: for oh,
The joy its memory brings, surpasses far the woe.
"I love thee, Maude, as I ne'er loved before,
And as I feel I cannot love again;"
Thus wrote I many moons ago, and more
Devotedly I love thee now, than when
Those lines were written. But avails it aught?
Have I return? Hold I the slightest part
Within the boundless realm of thy confiding heart?
Or dost thou ever give to me one thought?
I dare believe so:--nor will soon resign
The dream I've cherished long, that some day thou'lt be mine.
THE NEGLECTED HARP.
I touch not that harp,
Let it slumber alone;
For its notes but awaken
Sad memories of one
Whose hand often swept
The soft wires along,
And aroused them to music,
To love, and to song.
But Death, the destroyer,
Ere grief threw a ray
O'er her flowery path,
Snatched her rudely away;
And the harp that resounded,
With loveliest tone,
To her delicate touch,
Has since slumbered alone.
Then awake not a strain--
Let it still repose there,
And be breathed on alone
By the sweet summer air;
For its numbers though lively,
Though joyous and light,
But cast o'er my spirits
A wildering blight.
Never, no nevermore,
Shall thy soft hand be pressed in mine,
Or on my breast thy weary head recline,
As oft of yore.
And though thou wert to me
Life's only charm, I yet can bear
A little while, since thou art free from care,
Alone to be.
For to my heart is given,
The cheering hope, that soon, where pain
And partings are unknown, we'll meet again--
In yonder heaven.
Leila, thou art resting well,
In thy lonely, narrow cell--
Dark and lonely, narrow cell,--
And I would with thee had died,
And was sleeping by thy side,--
In the graveyard by thy side,--
She who gave thee being, she
Who made life a joy to me,--
A blessing and a joy to me.
Were she with thee, I could bear
All life's agony and care,--
Bitter agony and care,--
But alas, she went astray
From the straight and narrow way,--
Virtue's straight and narrow way--
And, O misery, became
To her sex a thing of shame,--
A thing of infamy and shame.
Now, of her and thee bereft,
Naught have I to live for left,--
Naught on earth to live for left;--
And with bleeding heart I roam,
From a desecrated home,--
A broken, desecrated home,--
Looking, longing for the day
When my life shall ebb away,--
To its giver, ebb away.
For I feel, a God of love,
In the better land above,--
Brighter, better land above,--
To these yearning arms again,
With a soul all free from stain,--
Free from every earthly stain,--
Will the wanderer restore,
To be tempted nevermore--
LAY OF THE LAST INDIAN.
They are gone--They are gone,
From their green mountain homes,
Where the antelope sports,
And the buffalo roams;
For the pale faces came,
With insidious art,
And the red men were forced
From their homes to depart!
In the land Manitou
Bestowed on their sires,
Oh! never again
Round their bright council-fires,
Will they gather, to talk
Of the feats they have done,
Or, to boast of the scalps
By their prowess they've won.
For they've gone--they have passed,
Like the dew from the spray,
And their name to remembrance
Grows fainter each day;
But for this were they forced
From their ancestors' graves;
They dared to be freemen,
They scorned to be slaves.
CHARLES H. EVANS.
Charles H. Evans was born in Philadelphia, March 17, 1851,
and was educated in the public schools of that city. In 1866 his
father David Z. Evans, purchased a farm at Town Point in Cecil
county, and removed to that place taking his son with him.
Shortly after coming to Town Point Mr. Evans began to write
poetry, much of which was published in one of the local newspapers
under the signature of _Agricola_. In 1873 Mr. Evans married
Isabell R. Southgate, since deceased, of Christiana, Delaware.
For some years Mr. Evans has been engaged in business in
Philadelphia, but occasionally finds time to cultivate his acquaintance
with the Muses.
Drop follows drop and swells,
With rain, the sweeping river;
Word follows word, and tells
A truth that lasts forever.
Flake follows flake, like sprites,
Whose wings the winds dissever;
Thought follows thought, and lights
The realms of mind forever.
Beam follows beam, to cheer
The cloud a bolt would shiver;
Dream follows dream, and fear
Gives way to joy forever.
The drop, the flake, the beam,
Teach us a lesson ever;
The word, the thought, the dream,
Impress the heart forever.
Few the joys--oh! few and scattered--
That from fleeting life we borrow;
And we're paying, ever paying,
With an usury of sorrow!
If a bright emotion, passing,
Casts a sun-ray o'er our faces,
Plodding Time--the envious plowman--
Soon a shadowy furrow traces!
If a hope--ambition-nurtured--
Gilds our future, ere we've won it,
Vaunting Time--the hoary jailor--
Shuts his somber gates upon it!
If a heart our bosom seeking,
With a fond affection woos it,
Heartless Time--remorseless reaper--
Sweeps his ruthless sickle through it!
Things of earth, all, all, are shadows!
And while we in vain pursue them,
Time unclasps his withered fingers--
And our wasted life slips through them.
WRITTEN ON VIEWING TURKEY POINT FROM A DISTANCE.
Thou gray old cliff, like turret raised on high,
With light-house mingling with the summer sky,
How long in lonely grandeur hast thou stood,
Braving alike the wild winds and the flood?
What howling gales have swept those shores along,
What tempests dire have piped their dismal song.
And lightnings glared those towering trees among?
And oft, as now, the summer sun has shed
His golden glories round thy mountain head,
And tarried there with late and lingering hues,
While all below was steeped in twilight dews,
And night's proud queen, in ages past, as now,
Hung her pale crescent o'er thy beetling brow.
Soft lamp--that lights the happy to their rest,
But wakes fresh anguish in the hapless breast,
And calls it forth a restless ghost, to glide
In lonely sadness up the mountain side;
And couldst not thou, oh! giant of the past,
Some far off knowledge o'er my senses cast,
Sigh in the hollow moanings of the gale,
And of past ages tell mysterious tale--
Speak of those ages of primeval worth,
And all the hidden wonders of thy birth--
Convulsions strange that heaved thy mighty breast,
And raised the stately masses of thy crest?
Perchance the Indian climbed thy rugged side,
Ere the pale face subdued his warlike pride,
And bent him down to kneel, to serve, to toil,
To alien shrines upon his native soil.
It needs not thee, O mount! to tell the story
That stained the wreath of many a hero's glory;
But Nature's mysteries must ever rest
Within the gloomy confines of thy breast,
Where wealth, uncounted, hapless lies concealed,
Locked in thine inmost temple unrevealed.
MRS. SARAH HALL.
Mrs. Sarah Hall was born in Philadelphia October 30th, 1761, and died in
that city April 8th, 1830. She was the daughter of the Rev. John Ewing,
D.D., a member of the Ewing family of the Eighth district of this
county, and one of the most distinguished scholars and divines of his
time, and who was for many years Provost of the University of
Pennsylvania and pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of
Miss Ewing's early education was confined to learning to read and write,
and in acquiring a thorough knowledge of housewifery. In 1782 she
married John Hall, a member of the Hall family of the Eighth district,
and the newly wedded pair came to reside in the house near Rowlandville,
formerly owned by the late Commodore Conner, and now occupied by his son
It was while residing in this old mansion, surrounded by the picturesque
scenery of the Octoraro hills, that she wrote the poem entitled "Sketch
of a Landscape," which no doubt was inspired by the beauty of the
surrounding scenery and the fine view of the "Modest Octoraro," which
may be had from the porch of the old historic mansion in which she
After a residence of about eight years in Cecil county the family
removed to Philadelphia, where Mr. Hall successively filled the offices
of Secretary of the Land Office, and United States Marshal for the
District of Pennsylvania. The family returned to Maryland in 1805, and
resided on Mr. Hall's paternal estate for about six years.
Mrs. Hall's literary career commenced with the publication of her
writings in the _Port Folio_, a literary magazine published in
Philadelphia about the beginning of this century, and of which her son,
John E. Hall, subsequently became the editor. She soon attained high
rank as a magazine writer, and, until the time of her death, occupied a
position second to none of the female writers of this country.
Mrs. Hall is best known in the literary world by her book entitled
"Conversations on the Bible." It was written after she was fifty years
of age and the mother of eleven children, and was so popular as to
astonish its author by the rapidity of its sale.
SKETCH OF A LANDSCAPE
In Cecil county, Maryland, at the junction of the Octoraro creek
with the Susquehanna, suggested by hearing the birds sing during the
remarkably warm weather in February, 1806.
What joyous notes are those, so soft, so sweet,
That unexpected, strike my charmed ear!
They are the Robin's song! This genial morn
Deceives the feathered tribe: for yet the sun
In Pisces holds his course; nor yet has Spring
Advanc'd one legal claim; but though oblique
So mild, so warm, descend his cheering rays,
Impris'ning winter seems subdued. No dread
Of change retards their wing; but off they soar
Triumphing in the fancied dawn of Spring.
Advent'rous birds, and rash! ye little think,
Though lilacs bud, and early willows burst.
How soon the blasts of March--the snowy sleets,
May turn your hasty flight, to seek again
Your wonted warm abodes. Thus prone is youth,
Thus easily allured, to put his trust
In fair appearance; and with hope elate,
And naught suspecting, thus he sallies forth,
To earn experience in the storms of life!
But why thus chide--why not with gratitude
Receive and cherish ev'ry gleam of joy?
For many an hour can witness, that not oft,
My solitude is cheered by feelings such,
So blithe--so pleasurable as thy song
Sweet Robin, gives. Yet on thy graceful banks,
Majestic Susquehanna--joy might dwell!
For whether bounteous Summer sport her stores,
Or niggard Winter bind them--still the forms
Most grand, most elegant, that Nature wears
Beneath Columbia's skies, are here combin'd.
The wide extended landscape glows with more
Than common beauty. Hills rise on hills--
An amphitheater, whose lofty top,
The spreading oak, or stately poplar crowns--
Whose ever-varying sides present such scenes
Smooth or precipitous--harmonious still--
Mild or sublime,--as wake the poet's lay;
Nor aught is wanting to delight the sense;
The gifts of Ceres, or Diana's shades.
The eye enraptur'd roves o'er woods and dells,
Or dwells complacent on the numerous signs
Of cultivated life. The laborer's decent cot,
Marks the clear spring, or bubbling rill.
The lowlier hut hard by the river's edge,
The boat, the seine suspended, tell the place
Where in his season hardy fishers toil.
More elevated on the grassy slope,
The farmer's mansion rises mid his trees;
Thence, o'er his fields the master's watchful eye
Surveys the whole. He sees his flocks, his herds
Excluded from the grain-built cone; all else,
While rigid winter reigns, their free domain!
Range through the pastures, crop the tender root,
Or climbing heights abrupt, search careful out,
The welcome herb,--now prematurely sprung
Through half-thawed earth. Beside him spreading elms,
His friendly barrier from th' invading north,
Contrast their shields defensive with the willow
Whose flexile drapery sweeps his rustic lawn.
Before him lie his vegetable stores,
His garden, orchards, meadows--all his hopes--
Now bound in icy chains: but ripening suns
Shall bring their treasures to his plenteous board.
Soon too, the hum of busy man shall wake
Th' adjacent shores. The baited hook, the net,
Drawn skilful round the wat'ry cove, shall bring
Their prize delicious to the rural feast.
Here blooms the laurel on the rugged breaks,
Umbrageous, verdant, through the circling year
His bushy mantle scorning winds or snows--
While there--two ample streams confluent grace--
Complete the picture--animate the whole!
Broad o'er the plain the Susquehanna rolls,
His rapid waves far sounding as he comes.
Through many a distant clime and verdant vale,
A thousand springy caverns yield their rills,
Augmenting still his force. The torrent grows,
Spreads deep and wide, till braving all restraint
Ev'n mountain ridges feel the imperious press;
Forced from their ancient rock-bound base--they leave
Their monumental sides, erect, to guard
The pass--and tell to future days, and years,
The wond'rous tale! Meanwhile,
The conqueror flood holds on his course,
Resistless ever--sinuous, or direct.
Unconscious tribes beneath his surface play,
Nor heed the laden barques, his surface bear;
Now gliding swiftly by the threat'ning rocks,
Now swimming smoothly to the distant bay.
To meet and bring his liberal tribute too,
The modest Octoraro winds his way--
Not ostentatious like a boasting world
Their little charities proclaiming loud--
But silent through the glade retir'd and wild,
Between the shaded banks on either hand,
Till circling yonder meed--he yields his name.
Nor proudly, Susquehanna! boast thy gain,
For thence, not far, thou too, like him shall give
Thy congregated waters, title--all,
To swell the nobler name of Chesapeake!
And is not such a scene as this the spell,
That lulls the restless passions into peace?
Yes. Cold must be the sordid heart, unmov'd
By Nature's bounties: but they cannot fill,
That ardent craving in the mind of man,
For social intercourse,--the healthful play--
The moral gem--the light of intellect--
Communion sweet with those we love!
WITH A ROSE IN JANUARY.
Will you accept this bud my dear,
Fit emblem of the coming year:
The bud expands, the flower blooms,
And gives awhile its rich perfumes:
Its strength decays, its leaf descends,
Its sweets are gone--its beauty ends,
Such is the year.--The morning brings
The bud of pleasure in its wings:
Hope, health, and fortune, smile their day,
And charm each threat'ning cloud away:
But gathering ills increase their force,
And though concealed--make sure their course.
They come--they press--they stand confest,
And disappointment tells the rest.
SUGGESTED BY A SUMMER EVENING.
'Tis early eve--the sun's last trembling glance,
Still hovers o'er and gilds the western wild,
And slowly leaves the haunts of solitude.
Venus, bright mistress of the musing hour,
Above the horizon lifts her beck'ning torch;
Stars, in their order, follow one by one
The graceful movement of their brilliant queen,
Obedient to the hand that fix'd them all,
And said to each--Be this thy place.
Refreshing airs revive man's sinking strength,
And hallowed thoughts come rushing to the heart!
Now from her eastern clime the golden Moon,
Set in a frame of azure, lifts her shield,
And all creation wakes to life renewed!
Not long she holds supreme her joyous course;
Her foes in sullen vapors fitful rise,
And envious, hovering over her splendid path,
Now thin--now dense, impede her kindly ray.
In hasty, partial gleams, of light and shade,
She holds her purposed way.--Now darker clouds
Collect, combine, advance--she falls--'twould seem
To rise no more--sudden they break--they pass,
Once more she shines--bright sovereign of the skies!
Thus 'tis with life--it is not dubious hope
In early youth--'tis joy--joy unalloy'd;
Joy blooms within, all objects take the tint,
And glowing colors paint the vista's length.
Not long, life dances on the plastic scene,
Care's haggard form invades each flow'ry path;
Disease, with pallid hue, leads on her train,
And Sorrow sheds her tears in wasting showers!
But Pain and Grief pass on, and harrowing Care
Awhile put on some pleasing, treacherous shape;
Then hope revives, health blooms! love smiles--
And wealth and honors crown the distant day.
How long? Envenom'd ills collect all 'round,
And while short-sighted man his fragile schemes
Pursues--not grasps--blow after blow fall swift,
Fall reckless--and he sinks beneath their weight!
To rise no more? Like yon triumphant Moon,
That "walks in brightness" now, beyond the clouds,
Through patient suffering, man shall surely rise
To dwell above that orb, in light ineffable,
Where pain--where sin--where sorrows, never come!
MRS. SALLIE WILLIAMS HARDCASTLE.
Mrs. Hardcastle's maiden name was Sallie Williams Minter. She was born
in Bedford county, Virginia, June 19, 1841.
Reared in the shadow of the Peaks of Otter, whose lofty summits tower in
magnificent grandeur far above the wooded heights and billowy green
hills of the surrounding country, it is little wonder that the subject
of this sketch should have been early imbued with the spirit of poesy,
and led to the cultivation of tastes and the selection of themes which
the grand and picturesque in nature are apt to suggest. But in addition
to these favorable surroundings, a literary and thoughtful turn of mind
was inherited from her father and grandfather--the latter having been
eminent in his day as the author of a religious work, replete with keen
arguments and logical conclusions.
The former also was a writer of ability, and having a thorough knowledge
of the politics of his State, frequently discussed them in the local
journals with a ready and trenchant pen.
Mrs. Hardcastle was educated at Bedford Female College, but is indebted
to her father for her best and earliest tuition. At the age of fourteen
her first verses, written on the death of a little friend of her own
age, were published in the _Virginia Sentinel_. She was an occasional
contributor to the _Literacy Companion_, _Magnolia Weekly_, and other
Mrs. Hardcastle was married in 1863 to Dr. Jerome H. Hardcastle, then a
surgeon in the hospital at Liberty, Va. After the war they came to
Maryland, and subsequently, in 1876, to Cecilton, in this county, where
they have since resided. They are the parents of five daughters and one
Like many other persons, Mrs. Hardcastle neglected to carefully preserve
her poetical writings. And was so unfortunate as to lose most of the few
in her possession at the time of the evacuation of Richmond, in
consequence of which the following poems are all it has been practicable
to obtain, which is a matter of regret, inasmuch as they are by no means
the best of her writings.
ON RECEIPT OF A BOUQUET.
I thank thee, my friend, for thy delicate gift,
These fair and beautiful flowers,
They come to me now, like a boon from above,
To gladden my pensive hours.
All the brilliant bloom, of the summer days,
These lovely flowers restore;
And my childhood's home, with its fields and flowers,
Comes back to me once more.
How fragile and fair!--some pale, some blushing,
All breathing rarest perfume--
But brighter and fairer they seem, my friend,
Because from thee they come.
I know that this beauty is frail and brief--
That their fragrance and bloom must depart,
But like the mem'ry of thee, these flowers will live
Forever enshrined in my heart.
Oh, days of the lovely October,
How dear thou art to me;
Words are weak, when my soul would speak,
In language taught by thee.
Not alone do thy glorious sunsets,
Nor thy trees of a thousand dyes,
But all touch my heart with thy sweet spell,
Oh, earth, and air, and skies.
In the gardens that shone with beauty,
The flowers have faded, I know,
And here, by my favorite pathway,
The roses no longer may blow.
But the leaves are burning with splendor,
And I'll weave them in garlands bright,
As I did in the sweet days of childhood,
When my heart was aglow with delight.
I've ruby and sapphire, blended with gold,
And here's an emerald green,
A parting gift, for my coronet,
From summer's dying queen.
Oh, loveliest month of the year,
Too soon will thy glories depart,
But not the sweet faith thou'st wakened,
Within this worshiping heart.
For though, like all beauty of earth,
Thou'rt trammeled by earthly decay,
Yet my soul is lifted by thine,
To glories that fade not away.
TO MRS. ANNIE P----.
"Burn my old letters"--ah! for you
These words are easy to say,
For you, who know not the light they brought
To many a darksome day.
And, then, old letters to me are links
To those days forever gone;
For we cling to the past as age would cling
To youth, in its rosy dawn.
But the wintry air is chill without,
And the fire is faint and low,
So I'll gather them up--the page of to-day
With the date of long ago.
Gather them up and cast them in
Like trash, to the greedy flame;
And I marvel not that the world hath said,
"Friendship is only a name!"
For the human heart's a changeful thing,
And sometime we would borrow
The light, that other days have given,
To cheer us on the morrow.
And so, as I sit in the merry light
Of the blaze that upward flashes,
I think, like these, our dearest hopes
May come to dust and ashes.
What marvelous new-born glory
Is flushing the garden and lawn!
Hath the queen of all blossoming beauty
Come forth with the early dawn?
Like the first faint flush of morn,
To the watchers, aweary with night,--
Like treasures long hidden away,
Ye burst on my joyous sight.
Not e'en the "first rose of Summer,"
Could yesterday be seen--
Only a tint like the sea-shell,
Deep in a prison of green.
Did the lover-like kiss of the south wind,
While wand'ring o'er forest and lake,
Bid thee start in thy slumbering beauty,
And crimson with blushes awake?
'Tis long since the fragrant lilac
Flourished and drooped at thy side,
While many a frail young flow'ret since
Hath quietly blossomed and died.
And for days the pale, proud lily
In regal beauty hath shown,
Catching the sun's warm glances
Ere the young roses had blown.
But perfumed breezes are whispering:
"To-day the roses have come,"
And the cottage will rival the palace,
Decked in thy radiant bloom.
The spirit is often enraptured
With sweet tokens of love divine,
But seldom in language so plain
As spoken through music, to mine.
Then my soul flings wide her portals,
And visions of Paradise throng,
While I bow, in silent devotion,
To the Author of genius and song.
The pleasures of earth are but few,
And scarce for our sorrows repay,
But we catch, in sweet moments like this,
A glimpse of the perfect day.
When I reach the Celestial City
And gaze from her golden tower,
Methinks my freed spirit would turn
Far back, to this rapturous hour.
And as angels are harping their songs--
Sweet songs of a heavenly birth--
I'll listen to hear the same touch
That played us this prelude on earth.
ON THE DEATH OF A FRIEND.
We loved thee--yes, we loved thee,
But the angels loved thee too;
And so thou now art sleeping
'Neath the sky so bright and blue.
Sleeping now thy last long slumber,
In the low and quiet tomb,
Where life's ills can ne'er disturb thee--
Where sorrow ne'er can come.
What tho' our hearts are bleeding,
And our lonely spirits mourn,
That thou with Spring's sweet flow'rets
Wilt never more return,
We would not call thee back, dear friend,
To life's dull path again;
Where thorns amid the flowers,
Would often give thee pain;
But sweetly rest thee, dear one,
In thy long and dreamless sleep,
Nor heed the sighs above thee,
And the blinding tears we weep.
MRS. MARY ELIZA IRELAND.
Back to Full Books