Heap upon heap the pallid victims lay, Of racking pain and scorching thirst the prey; In anguish rolled upon the bloody ground, And wider still they tore each gaping wound; In concert joined their agonizing cries, Gnashed with their teeth and rolled their blood-shot eyes; With feeble groans they drew each painful breath, And racked with torments called aloud for death! Far o'er the field in wild confusion rose Piles of the ghastly dead—of friends and foes— In death stretched side by side, mangled and cold While over all the sulphurous war-clouds rolled, In dark, dense columns mounted up on high, Tainting the air, polluting all the sky.
Quebec was won; and o'er each lofty tower The British banner streamed in pride and power; Where the French eagle once her wings had spread The British lion reared his haughty head, And shook the conquered country with his roar; The eagle flew in terror from the shore. With drooping plumage skimmed the western main, And, trembling, sought her native France again; While England, proud and potent, took the sway And waved her sceptre over Canada.
SONG OF THE ENGLISH PEASANT GIRL.
[The marriage in 1858 of Prince Frederick William of Prussia to Victoria Adelaide Mary, eldest daughter of the Queen of England; and the visit of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, to Canada, in 1860, were events of sufficient magnitude to arouse the patriotism of our Canadian poetess, and we find reference made to them in this and the two following pieces.]
I am but a rustic maiden Dwelling by the river side, But I'm happy as the Princess Who today becomes a bride.
I am but a peasant's daughter, All his life in toil is spent, But he loves me as Prince Albert Loves his child, and I'm content.
Though the Queen of many nations, Centre of each Royal scene, Better than I love my mother, Does the Princess love the Queen?
Are Prince Leopold and Arthur, Though within a palace bred, Dearer than my little brothers Playing 'neath the cottage shed?
There's a group of Royal sisters Clustering round the English throne, But I know they are not truer, Better sisters than mine own.
Hark! it is the trumpet sounding; At the Prince of Prussia's side Standeth now her Royal Highness; Oh, I would not be the bride!
For a manly voice hath whispered, "Dearer than my life thou art!" What care I who rules a kingdom If I rule in Jamie's heart?
I am but a peasant's daughter, And the wealthy pass me by,— But there's not in merry England A happier maid than I.
A NATION'S DESIRE.
God hear our fervent prayer, God bless the royal pair, God save the Queen! Guide them in all their ways, And may their wedded days Be ordered to thy praise; God save the Queen!
The waves will soon divide Thee and thy home, young bride; God save the Queen! But over land and sea Warm hearts will follow thee, First rose of England's tree; God save the Queen.
A nation's hearty welcome take, Heir to a mighty throne; Thrice welcome! for old England's sake, Thy mother's, and thine own.
From crowded street, from hillside green, From fair Canadian vales, The prayer goes up—God bless the Queen! God bless the Prince of Wales!
The rich and poor, the great and small Their voices join as one; Victoria's name is dear to all, So is Victoria's Son.
Their tribute other queens have laid Upon the land and sea; But never earthly monarch swayed So many hearts as she.
And for her young and gallant heir A kindred love prevails; God hear a nation's fervent prayer! God bless the Prince of Wales!
OUR NATIVE LAND.
[This was probably written in the early part of the year 1861, before Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation had given deliverance to the captives, and when "the north star" was an object dear to many a slave who longed to breathe the free air of Canada. The Rev. E. H. Dewart says of it: "This spirited lyric is alike creditable to the talents, patriotism, and independence of its author. Its loyalty is an intelligent attainment, free from blind prejudice and crouching adulation."]
What land more beautiful than ours? What other land more blest? The South with all its wealth of flowers? The prairies of the West?
Oh no! there's not a fairer land Beneath yon azure dome— Where Peace holds Plenty by the hand, And Freedom finds a home.
The slave who but her name hath heard, Repeats it day and night, And envies every little bird That takes its northward flight.
As to the Polar star they turn Who brave a pathless sea: So the oppressed in secret yearn, Dear native land, for thee!
How many loving memories throng Round Britain's stormy coast! Renowned in story and in song, Her glory is our boast.
With loyal hearts we still abide Beneath her sheltering wing,— While with true patriot love and pride, To Canada we cling.
We wear no haughty tyrant's chain,— We bend no servile knee, When to the Mistress of the main We pledge our fealty.
She binds us with the cords of love,— All others we disown; The rights we owe to God above, We yield to him alone.
May He our future course direct By his unerring hand; Our laws and liberties protect, And bless our native land.
[It will be remembered that 1861 closed with an alarming prospect of war between England and the United States, growing partly out of the arrest of Mason and Slidell on board the British steamship Trent. Of course had war been declared Canada would have been involved. On Christmas of that year therefore Miss JOHNSON wrote this appeal, which was published in a Canadian paper.]
To prayer! to prayer! O ye who love Your country's peace, your country's weal, To Him who rules supreme above, In this dark hour of peril kneel. To prayer! to prayer! before the cry "To arms!" shall make your spirit quake,— And ere ye dream of danger nigh The dark portentous war-cloud break.
So long hath Peace o'er hill and vale Waved her white banner to the breeze, We thought her smiles would never fail, And only heard from o'er the seas The murmur of an angry host, The clang of arms, the cannon's roar,— How false our hope! how vain our boast! War threatens our beloved shore.
Great God! to whom the nations seem Like dust that gathers on the scales, A drop within a mighty stream, A breath amid the northern gales, We pray, the hearts of men dispose So that the sounds of war may cease, And nations who should ne'er be foes Embrace, and pledge themselves to Peace.
I LOVE THE LAND WHERE I WAS BORN.
[The following poem appeared in the Sherbrooke (P. Q.) Gazette, sometime in the winter of 1863, and was the last article prepared by Miss JOHNSON for the press. It is of special interest for having been written during the dark days of the war in the United States, and when the sympathy of England and Canada for the North was by many questioned.]
I love the land where I was born, 'Tis a noble land and good; It has many a field of wheat and corn Where once the forest stood; It has many a town and city grand, Where the Savage used to roam; To the poor of every other land It offers a peaceful home.
I'm proud of the land where I was born, I'm proud of the Parent Isle, Whose banners float at the gates of morn, And the gates of eve the while. And my pulses leap with a joyous thrill, Wherever they take the lead, And join their hands with a hearty will In doing a noble deed.
There's another land that's dear to me, For it speaks the English tongue; Like a shoot that springs from an old oak tree, From the English race it sprung. It has gained a mighty place on earth, And a mighty name has won; It has given to sage and hero birth, And it boasts of Washington.
But a blot, a dark and loathsome blot, Polluted that fair young land; God waited till his wrath was hot, And he took his sword in hand! He had heard the bitter wail of woe, He had heard the clanking chain— He rescued a nation years ago, He will rescue one again!
There's a gathering darkness in the sky, There's a tramp of hurrying feet; There's a clang of arms, and a battle cry, And two hostile armies meet. They meet! they charge! 'tis a dreadful sight! They wade through a gory sea; It is life or death, it is wrong or right, It is freedom or slavery!
The nations stand with a wondering look, And list to the roar and din; While History bends o'er an open book And steadily writes therein. And what will she say of my native land? And what of the Parent Isle? To the North, or South, did they give their hand, To which did they grant a smile?
God speaks in the wind and earthquake now, And those who have ears may hear: To the King of kings let monarchs bow, And let all the earth draw near. Let the nations mark his holy laws, For though he keeps silence long, With fire and sword He will plead the cause Of the weak against the strong.
Take heed and beware, my native land,— To thy ways and words take heed! On the side of right and freedom stand, And say to the truth, "God speed!" Let England herself a lesson learn, And let her take warning too; Let her judge as she would be judged in turn, Let her nobly speak and do.
THE WORLD TO COME.
[Dear as Canada was to our authoress, dearer still to her heart was the true Father-Land, "the heavenly country" for which the children of faith in the olden time looked. Being born again she bore such a relationship to the world to come that we may say of her, as she does of "the bride of Christ": "The Cross was infinitely dearer to her than ten thousand worlds. It was twined around her heart with ties that nothing could ever loose. She wept, but they were mingled tears of joy and sorrow: sorrow, for she mourned that her sins had cost the life of the Son of God; joy, for she knew that that sacrifice had made a perfect atonement for her. She knew that the Father had forgiven her iniquities, and that he would no longer remember her sins. As she clung to the Cross, a bright beam of glory shone around her; she raised her tearful eyes, and a crown of everlasting beauty met her admiring gaze: she knew that crown was reserved for her, and that on her bridal day her Lord would place it on her own brow." With such an experience and such a hope, we are not surprised that she should thus discourse:]
The earth renewed presents a glorious scene: Mountains and valleys of perpetual green; Delicious plains, and odoriferous bowers, Unfading forests, never-dying flowers; Fruits that on fragrant trees immortal grow, Rivers that murmur sweetly as they flow, And gardens decked with everlasting spring, And shining warblers on the tireless wing. No howling tempest breaks the sweet repose, No piercing thorn surrounds the blushing rose, No sultry heat parches those blooming plains, No night is known where day forever reigns; No thunder's roar, no lightning's vivid glare, No darkened sky, disturbs the beauty there.
The royal city, the divine abode Of ransomed men and their eternal God, Rises 'mid blooming bowers and lofty trees, And waves its banners to the gentle breeze. Upon its pearly gates and shining walls A flood of everlasting glory falls, And tinges with its own delightful glow The lovely river murmuring below. That river from the living fountain springs, And, guided by the mighty King of kings, It wanders through the saints' celestial home, Where, robed in white, the ransomed nations roam Through golden streets, and gardens fair and free; And on its banks stands life's unfading tree. All, all is bliss, and love, and glory there; No pain, no sickness, no corroding care, No grief, no aching hearts, no tearful eyes, No broken bands, and there no severed ties; For, o'er those broad and beautiful domains The Prince of peace, the great Immanuel reigns. The good have met, of every age and land, Around the throne a glorious throng they stand; The crown of life, the blood-washed robes they wear, The conqueror's palms of victory they bear; They bend the knee, they raise the joyful eye; And hark! Oh, hark! that vast assembly cry: "Worthy the Lamb to be exalted thus, Worthy the Lamb, for he was slain for us!" And angels with the ransomed millions sing, "Glory and honor to our God and King!"
A WELCOME TO A TEMPERANCE PICNIC.
Old and young are welcome here To the banquet we have spread: It will cause no bitter tear When the festal hour is fled; It will break no mother's heart, For the deadly bowl we shun! Welcome then—and when we part Blessings go with every one.
[The following lines were also written by Miss JOHNSON for a temperance picnic, held in a grove near her father's house. They were read by her brother Edwin, now a lawyer in Stanstead, P. Q.]
From north and south, from east and west They come with banners gay; Hope lights each eye and fills each breast, And all are friends to-day.
The fairest of the sister band— With greeting most sincere,— Magog extends an eager hand, And bids you welcome here!
Hail, brothers in a noble cause, 'Tis well we thus should meet: For every meeting closer draws The bonds of union sweet.
And we who battle for the right, And breathe the solemn vow To win or perish in the fight, Should be united now.
Up, brothers, up! to arms! to arms! The sword must needs be drawn: These are indeed no vain alarms, The foe is marching on!
And shall he blight our happy land With his polluting breath? And scatter woe on every hand, And infamy and death?
By yonder mountain and by lake Which their approval show,— For each beloved Township's sake, We boldly answer—No!
Then let our banners be unfurled, 'Mid scorn or 'mid applause; We dare proclaim to all the world We love the temperance cause!
A LIFE-SCENE—THE LETTER.
"I'm at work upon the railroad"— So the brother's letter ran,— "I'm at work upon the railroad, With the wages of a man.
"I am up at peep of morning, And I only stop to eat; But I bear it all extremely well Except the noon-day heat.
"I do not feel much homesick, Though I think of other scenes, And what you have for dinner When I eat my pork and beans!
"'Tis the time for pies and dumplings, Currant jelly and all that, For an hour in mother's pantry I'd give my bran-new hat.
"You wrote about the chickens, About the crops and hay; But not a word about the colts— The black one or the gray.
"Tell father not to worry About that note at all: I shall have a hundred dollars I can send him in the fall.
"You cannot think how proudly It makes my bosom swell, To think that I am toiling For those I love so well.
"Tell mother I remember Her parting words to me; And all that she has prayed for I hope I yet may be.
"The workmen bring the bottle, They say, 'Just take a sip;' But, mother, not a single drop Shall ever touch my lip.
"Here's a kiss for brother Charley— The little roguish elf, I hope he'll not forget me,— And another for yourself.
"How much I want to see you I will not try to tell; I never knew I loved my home And all my friends so well!
"My lamp is burning dimly, So, sister dear, good-night; Think often of your brother, And don't forget to write."
The sister read the letter With a look of pride and joy; And the father and the mother said, "God bless the darling boy!"
[Whether the following is a real or a supposed case we know that in this fallen world of ours there have been many sadder scenes than the one depicted; for "who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.... At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder."—Prov. 23: 29-35.]
All day the snow came silently to earth, Until the branches of the apple trees Bent lower than in autumn 'neath their weight Of glossy fruit: the youthful pines that stood, With leafless beech and maple interspersed, To speak of summer when all else that laughed In balmy air with summer should depart, Were robed in white, save where some little twig Of deepest verdure timidly looked forth, Like gentle Spring reclining in the arms Of stern old Winter. Silence reigned abroad; There was no sun, no sky, but over all A dense dark mist which hid the blue beyond.
The cottager had tarried long that day Within the village inn, and night drew near And found him at his glass; then rose the wind And hurled the snow against the window pane. "Come, father, come;" a little hand was laid Upon the father's arm, and into his A pair of pleading eyes looked gently up. "Come, father, come; the wind begins to blow, And mother waits and watches all alone." He heeded not the warning; to the bar He gaily turned, and cried, "Another glass!" The glass was drained, and yet another filled,— And still the pleader cried, "Come, father, come."
"The night is cold," one thoughtless comrade said "And you have far to walk; here, drink, my boy." The child pushed back the tempter's hand, a glow Of indignation mantling cheek and brow,— "My mother says there's poison in the cup, And I will never drink," he firmly said. The father gave him an approving smile, Patted his rounded cheek, and stroked his curls, Then heaved a sigh—while o'er his manly face, Which had been handsome ere the fatal wine Disfigured it, a mournful shadow crept And darkened all his soul. "Come, father, come:" This time he listened, clasped the little hand, And they went forth together in the storm.
The wind blew fiercely from the north and east, And called its forces from the neighboring hills; They heard the summons, eager to obey, And swept along in one continuous roar. They caught the snow new-fallen from the earth And wove a sheet with which to blind the eyes Of those two wanderers on the frozen waste. Then night came on; dark night came suddenly, And hid within its bosom bush and tree, And all that stood as waymarks to their home. The little winding path they trod that morn Was now a path no more; yet had his brain Been clear as on the morn, his step as firm, The father might have found his homeward way. But oft the earth seemed reeling 'neath his feet, And once he fell, then nerved himself anew To struggle with the storm.
"How long the way! Dear father, are we almost home at last?" Through teeth that chattered came the words half-formed, And drops of dew stole from his anxious eyes And turned to pearly ice-drops where they fell. And then the father took the patient boy Within his arms; he hugged him to his breast And tried with steady gaze to pierce the gloom If he might catch a glimpse of friendly lights, Or haply of the lamp that burned for him In his own cottage, fed by one who watched, And wept, and prayed, and turned the cottage door Upon its frosty hinges, till her fair cheek Grew purple with the cold; he thought of this, And anguish and remorse smote heavily. But deeper grew the night; and hours that seemed Like years to that distracted father passed. Nearer and nearer to his aching breast He held the child—for hope grew faint within; Yet with that precious burden at his heart He could not quite despair. "If I have sinned, If I am seen in Heaven's all-searching light Black and polluted, yet my child is pure, And for the father's sin he should not die. Guard him, ye angels! Save him, O my God!" Thus in the depths of his own soul he prayed, And chafed again the little trembling hands, And kissed the cheek so cold it spoke of death.
"Let me kneel down, dear father; let me pray, For I am weary—I will sleep awhile; But ere I sleep, dear father, let me pray." And round his father's neck he twined his arms, And faintly whispered half his evening prayer. O wretched father! O polluted man! Is it the wind that makes thee shiver thus?
All day the snow came silently to earth, Until the path before the cottage door Was even with the drift on either side. No foot disturbed the mass of crystals white, But when the wind began to roar and shriek, And Night descended, with her sable wing Darkening the scene around, a pallid face Which had been pressed against the window pane For half an hour, came forth into the gloom. As looks the moon upon some stormy night When every star is quenched, and she alone Through rifted clouds peers forth and keeps her watch: So looked that wife and mother as she stood Upon the threshold gazing down the road With chattering teeth, and limbs that quaked with cold, Imagining she heard in every gust The voice and footfall of the man she loved.
The hearth was piled with blazing logs that shed A cheerful glow upon the cottage walls; The table spread for three before it stood, And yet the bread was all unbroken there,— And from the cottage to the garden gate A shivering form went flitting to and fro. Despair was on her cheek—and in her eye A mother's anguish: "But they might have seen How fierce a storm was gathering—might have stayed." And while the hope was fresh within her heart She hurried in, but only to return And take her station at the door again.
* * * * *
The moments slowly lengthened into hours, The air grew chilly—for upon the hearth A few decaying embers smoked alone; And pale with midnight vigils and with grief The watcher knelt to find relief in prayer. Then hark! a sound—a footstep—and she starts! Her heart leaps to her throat, and with a bound She gains the cottage door—it opens wide.
A cry of joy is trembling on her lips, For there the husband and the father stood. She stretched her eager arms to take the boy, But in the movement caught the father's eye Where horror sat, and told the dreadful tale He dared not trust his quivering lips to speak. "My boy is dead," she cried; "my boy, my boy!" And caught him wildly to her bursting heart. Cold on her bosom fell the little head Which had been pillowed there so oft in sleep,— And as she raised the frosty lid which veiled The violet eye beneath that lately laughed, So deep a groan escaped her pallid lips The guilty husband shuddered as he heard. "Too late," he muttered in a husky tone, And like an image of despair he stood, Until she called him weeping to her side, And murmured in a voice half choked with sobs: "Nay, not too late, my husband, not too late: God takes the child in mercy and in love, To save the father. Shall it not be so? Say by the love we bore this precious child, Our own no longer—shall it not be so?" The answer came, so low she scarcely heard, But 'twas enough, and she looked up and smiled!
SIGHS ON MORTALITY.
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE?
Why do we mourn? why do we sigh? We who may to-morrow lie With folded hands and death-sealed eye?
A brave and gallant heart I knew: Like some young sturdy oak he grew Nursed by the sun, refreshed by dew.
His hopes were bright and high their aim: Above reproach or fear of shame None ever lightly spoke his name.
He left our cottage blithe and gay, And as he left we heard him say, "I will return at close of day."
We watched him as he passed along, He was so manly, brave and strong, Oh, was the pride we cherished wrong?
We thought of him as one designed To bless and elevate mankind,— And it was well that we were blind!
We did not see the gathering frown,— But long before the sun went down, A dreadful rumor filled the town.
They told us gently he was dead,— I would not credit what they said: But when I knew it reason fled.
I woke to real life once more; My dream of happiness was o'er— I stood upon a desert shore.
All day I heard the billows moan, All night I answered groan with groan, For I was desolate and lone.
There came no message o'er the sea, No message from the lost to me, And I repined at God's decree.
The bolt was spared—and o'er my head The bow of mercy shone instead, And I at last was comforted.
Now when the billows rage and roar, I think it shortly will be o'er,— 'Tis calm upon the other shore.
I look at Time as one who sees A pale leaf floating on the breeze Amid a grove of noble trees.
It fills awhile a little nook; To-day it is—to-morrow, look! The great white Throne! the open Book!
We stand upon a narrow space, Eternity rolls on apace— Where next shall be our resting-place?
As when the graceful bark, with spreading sails, Glides from the port into the open sea, Wafted along by soft and prosperous gales, Just as the rising sun bids darkness flee; So, like that bark, in early youth are we, When first we launch upon the sea of life— Our hopes as bright, our youthful souls as free, The scene around with love and beauty rife. And all unknown to us its griefs, its cares and strife.
The bark glides on; but, see, the azure sky With dark and angry clouds is soon o'ercast; The thunders roar, the forked lightnings fly, The billows beat, and howls the midnight blast! The trembling vessel, with dismantled mast, The maddened waves have in their fury tossed, Until she lies a helpless wreck at last, Her plans all thwarted, and her hopes all crossed, Her guiding star obscured, and her direction lost.
'Tis thus with life; at times deemed most secure, When all seems calm, and beautiful, and fair, Dark rocks concealed, the easier to allure, The fragile bark in youth's bright morn ensnare; And storms arise, and fierce the lightnings glare, And wild and high the raging billows roll, While sinks the heart a wreck in deep despair, Till, brightly o'er the dark and dreary pole, The Morning Star appears to the benighted soul!
It guides the bark across life's troubled sea,— It points the way unto the destined shore, Till, anchored in a blest eternity, It buffets with the howling storm no more. Be ours that star to guide us safely o'er! To us, oh, may its precious light be given! And though the tempests beat and billows roar, And though we now by adverse winds are driven, We'll safely anchor soon in the blest port of Heaven!
THE SILENT ARMY.
Life is the road to death. No one can lose the way—'tis sure and plain. Whatever paths we take all end the same. Some walk in sunshine, and some beneath a cloud; some gather flowers and some the thorn; but at the gate all stand alike: nor poverty, nor wealth can enter there.
To those who smile, and those who weep, To those who sing, and those who sigh, There comes the same long final sleep,— There comes the time when each must die.
We watch the faces as they pass— We say of some, "How very fair": Nor think how soon the churchyard grass Will thrive upon the beauty there.
The objects of our love we take Close to our hearts and call them ours! They are the gods we ne'er forsake, But crown them every morn with flowers.
We dip them o'er and o'er again In love's immortal fount; but when We find that all has been in vain, God shield us in our anguish then.
The Death-drum beats, the roll is called, New names are on the list to-day: Some answer calm and unappalled As if 'twere pleasure to obey.
For life to them was full of pain, Death opened wide the only door, While others weep and plead in vain For just one little moment more.
Through all the springs that come and go, At noon, at night, at early dawn, Through summer's heat and winter's snow, That silent army marches on!
On, on forever to the tomb! They pitch no tents along the way; On, on, it is the common doom, There's no return and no delay.
They take no purse nor scrip with them However rich they were before; The brow of beauty wears no gem, And slaves are men—and kings no more.
From every land, and sea, and clime, Through all the ages that are gone, Through all the years of future time, That host has marched—will still march on.
And shall we of to-morrow boast? This very night may seal our doom And find us with that shadowy host, Whose line of march is for the tomb!
Death and the tomb! our hearts rebel, And wonder why such things should be; Great God, who doeth all things well, We leave these mysteries with Thee!
Thou knowest why, and we shall know When raised in triumph from the grave, Redeemed from death, and sin, and woe, Through Him who hath the power to save.
THE DYING WARRIOR.
A warrior lay, with a heaving breast, On the field of the dying and dead; His cheek was pale and his lips compressed, And the fading light from the distant west Shone o'er his gory bed.
The night came on, and the moon arose With her soft and tremulous glow; She shed her light o'er friends and o'er foes, All sleeping together in dull repose On the battle-field below.
The warrior gazed with a mournful sigh On the blue and the star-spangled dome; While tears shone bright in his sunken eye, And vivid thoughts like the lightning fly To his childhood's distant home.
He thought of the mother who used to bend O'er his couch, when in sorrow and pain— Who to his complaints an ear would lend; But alas! he knew that that dearest friend Would never bend o'er him again.
He thought of the scenes where once he strayed With his brothers in days of yore; He thought of the stream, the peaceful glade, The cottage that stood in the dark green shade, With the vines around the door.
He thought, with a pang of dark despair, 'Twas the hour they all used to meet With grateful heart for the evening prayer; He thought of the group that were gathered there; He thought—of a vacant seat.
He knew that a fervent prayer would rise For the loved and the long-absent one; He knew that the tears would flow from their eyes, And his father's voice would be choked with sighs, As he prayed for his erring son.
He knew for him they would all implore A renewed and a sanctified heart; That when the toils of this life were o'er They all might embrace each other once more, Never, no never to part!
One trembling hand to his brow he pressed, And the tears of contrition he shed; He implored for pardon, a home with the blest; Then he wrapped his cloak round his gory breast, And the warrior's spirit fled!
ON SEEING A SKULL
This morning while examining a skull strange emotions took possession of me—such as I never before experienced. That senseless skull had once been the seat of deep thought and powerful passions; beaming eyes once glistened brightly where now there was only a hollow space; that head was once proudly erected, and the form that supported it once mingled in the busy scenes of life. But now what a change! His very name is forgotten—himself but a handful of dust. O mortals! behold, and learn a lesson. His body has long since mouldered away and mingled with the parent earth,—this skull alone remains; and yet the time will surely come, and cannot be far distant, when "the bones shall come together—bone to his bone"; when the sinews and the flesh shall come upon them, the skin cover them, and the breath entering the body the dead shall live! Will this skull come forward at "the resurrection of the just," or ——? Oh, what an awful thought! My very blood runs cold, and a shudder steals over me. O thou great Mediator of mankind, intercede for me before thy Father's throne, that ere it is everlastingly too late my unworthy name may be written in the Lamb's book of life. (July 5, 1852.)
THOUGHTS ON DEATH.
A bride but yesterday—all hope and love,— Flowers at her feet and cloudless skies above, Bright buds of promise twining round her brow, Approach—approach and gaze upon her now! Come not in festal robes as once ye came, The bride is here but she is not the same As when ye saw her to the altar led, And called down blessings on her fair young head. The cheek is pale that with the rose could vie, There is no lustre in that rayless eye, Upon those pallid lips there is no breath, And she alas is now the bride of Death! Henceforth what soul will ever dare to trust In things that crumble at a breath to dust? And who would dream of earthly joy and bliss Taught by a lesson terrible as this?
Short-sighted mortal hastening to the tomb, Gaze on the scene, and realize thy doom! All tongues and nations mingle with the clay; Art thou less subject unto death than they? The conquerors of the world have left their throne Before a mandate mightier than their own,— Rank, pride and power have sunk into the grave, And Caesar moulders with the meanest slave. Canst thou escape his all-destroying breath And bid defiance to the victor Death? What strange enchantment has allured thine eyes? Shake off the spell! immortal soul, arise! Oh, burst thy fetters ere it be too late, Regain thy freedom and thy lost estate,— A thousand angels hover round thy track, They plead with thee, they long to lead thee back.
The sacrifice too great? bethink thee, soul! A few more suns above thy head may roll, A few at most and thou wilt trembling stand Just on the borders of the spirit land. Who ever stood there calm and undismayed, And smiled to see all earthly prospects fade? Not he who lived for things of time alone, Who won a name, a fortune or a throne; Who added field to field, and store to store, And cried at last, "Oh, for one moment more!" But he whose eye could pierce the dreary tomb, He who could say amid the gathering gloom,— "There is my home and there my Saviour stands With smiling brow and with extended hands!" Would'st thou depart with that exulting cry, In glorious hope of immortality? Thy heart all joy, and praise thy latest breath? The holy life insures the happy death! Oh, thou wilt wonder in that trying hour.
When home, and love, and friendship lose their power To cheer and comfort, thou could'st ever prize What then will sink to nothing in thine eyes— Time for repentance then? beware! beware! How many souls are yearly shipwrecked there! Like him of old they cry—"Go now thy way"— And keep repentance for their dying day; But God is jealous of his honor still, He asks a ready mind, a hearty will, And those who through a life-time break his laws, Despite his mercy and his glorious cause, Who seek their own enjoyment and their ease, And only yield when death demandeth these,— May find too late they were deceived at last, And mourn the summer and the harvest past!
There's not in heaven itself a lovelier sight, Nor one which angels view with more delight, Than youthful soldiers of Immanuel's cross, In life's glad morning counting all as loss, Since they have proved a dying Saviour's love, And placed their treasures and their hearts above. Let pleasure woo them with her syren voice, They heed her not—they've made a nobler choice; Let others walk the shining path of fame, They dare to suffer poverty and shame, And turning from the world's enchanted bowers, To consecrate their youth and all their powers To Him they serve, and even here they find More real pleasure than they e'er resigned.
The best they have in early life they bring A free-will offering to their God and King; And in that hour when heart and flesh shall fail, Their song of triumph ringing through the vale, Will mingle with the anthems of the blest, Who wait to hail them to their heavenly rest. Would'st thou depart with that exulting cry In glorious hope of immortality? I read an answer in that beaming face, Behold thy Saviour—fly to his embrace!
Strewn on the battle-plain, After the fight was done, And the bloody victory won, Were a thousand heaps of slain. Rider and horse there lay, But the war-steed neighed no more, And the gallant form he bore Upon that eventful day, Shattered, and marred, and ghastly pale, Had fallen beneath the deadly hail.
Prince and peasant were there! Rich and poor, master and slave, Wise and simple, timid and brave; Old men with snow-white hair, Young men of noble birth, Boys just from their native shore, And the homes they shall see no more, Stretched on the cold, damp earth; And mother and sister may watch in vain, They never shall press those lips again.
Clasped in a fond embrace Was a young and gentle pair, And the love that was pictured there Made holy that dreadful place. Near by a chieftain bled, While his faithful dog still kept A mournful watch where he slept, And mourned above the dead, Then gazed on the pallid lips and brow: It is death—does he comprehend it now?
Just as they fell they lay— Struck down in the dreadful strife; And the latest look they wore in life Death had not taken away: Some with a pleasant smile, Foeman with foemen at peace, Croat, and Frank, and Tyrolese, All in one ghastly pile, From the Seine, the Po, and the Land of Song, Oh, where were the souls of that countless throng?
Gone to the bar of God! Gone from the battle's din, Gone with their weight of sin, To the solemn bar of God! Woe to ambition and pride! Woe to the tyrant king Who dares from his subjects wring What God has never denied! Aye, woe to him, for the record stands, And the blood of the slain is on his hands.
DEAD AND FORGOT.
Dead and forgot! How sad the lot When wintry tempests blow To lie all cold 'Neath the churchyard mould, And in a year or so To have our very name unsaid, Unless it chance to fall From careless lips that say, "She's dead,"— She's dead, and that is all!
But sadder still That one should fill The place we thought our own: That a form more light, And an eye more bright Should guard our dear hearth-stone; That where we strayed another's feet At morn and eve should roam, And another's voice—perchance more sweet— Make music in our home!
That where we locked Our hands and talked Amid our chosen flowers, The lips we pressed Should be caressed By other lips than ours,— That other eyes should watch for him, And other arms embrace, Until our image growing dim Yield to another's face.
And this is love! O injured Dove! Thy wings have many a stain: But pure and white In the Land of Light They shall be spread again; The deep, true love our spirits crave Earth has never supplied; Nor till we leave the dreary grave Shall we be satisfied.
Dear Emily, sweet Emily! So early gone to rest, I love to think of thee as one Among the good and blest,— No shadow on thy radiant eye, No sorrow in thy breast.
Dear Emily, sweet Emily! I cannot call thee dead: 'Tis true I do not see thy face Nor hear thy gentle tread; Yet in my heart of hearts, sweet friend, Thou never canst be dead.
When by the solemn stream of death We parted long ago, How little of the world we knew! But I have lived to know How friendship fades, how love decays, How all things change below.
Time changes some, and absence some, And envy—oh, the shame! Of those who played together once Some rise to wealth and fame, While in the vale of poverty The rest remain the same.
But nothing now can come between Thy heart and mine, sweet friend! With every image of the past Thy memory will blend, And what thou wast in early life Thou wilt be to the end.
I love to think—oh, call it not A fancy wild and vain— That thou hast seen and pitied me Through all these years of pain; But I shall know how that has been When we two meet again.
My bleeding feet have left their mark Wherever they have passed; But now the sun is getting low, The shadows lengthen fast, And Emily, dear Emily, All will be well at last!
ON THE DEATH OF A FRIEND.
She sleeps the quiet sleep of death and I survive. But for what purpose? why was not I called first to explore the untried regions of eternity? 'Tis known only to Him whose mighty arm often spares the humble flower while the waving trees that stand around it are torn from their roots by the roaring tempest. She has gone before me, and yet how long may it be ere I shall follow her? O solemn thought!—well might it sink deeply into my heart, and taking root there spring forth yielding fruits of repentance. Soon may Death, the great enemy of mankind, add one more ghastly victim to the lifeless piles that lie heaped together in every clime and on every shore; and when my death- knell shall sound will it be the signal of a spirit wailing in the regions of the lost, or rejoicing in the bright realms of everlasting bliss? It is for me, and me alone to decide. Perhaps it is for this that my life has been spared—that I might make a firm and decided choice; and shall I still draw back? shall I still hesitate and remain inactive? No, no; for "now is the accepted time, and now is the day of salvation."
THE HEAVENLY HELPER.
What strange lessons I am every day learning! Thank God for them. They are very unpleasant to human nature, but they are leading me to place less confidence in earthly love and more in heavenly. I have leaned too much upon an arm of flesh, and it is right I should suffer for it. Sweet Saviour, fold me in thine arms; comfort me with thy love; and as soon as thou seest best let me go and live with thee forever.
All earthly hopes have passed away, Stay with me, O my Saviour, stay: Thy blessed smile is all the light That breaks upon my dismal night.
I cling to thee—thou must not go; Oh, let me tell thee every woe And whisper in thy ready ear What other friends would frown to hear.
Distressed in body and in mind, Diseased and wretched, poor and blind, I only care to see thy face,— I only sigh for thy embrace.
I droop, I faint beneath the rod, It is so heavy, O my God! Spare me, I cry, in mercy spare— But thou refusest still the prayer!
Sometimes I murmur and repine, Prefer my stubborn will to thine, And doubt if love or anger deal The dreadful anguish that I feel.
Then suddenly before me stands,— With bleeding side, and feet, and hands,— The Lamb that groaned and died for me, That I might live eternally.
Such love o'erwhelms me, and with shame I call upon thy holy name; Forgive me, O thou blessed One, And let thy will, not mine, be done.
O my Redeemer, Friend and Guide, Take health, take what thou wilt beside, But let me see the lovely face That makes a heaven of every place.
Nay, turn not from my earnest prayer! Thy smile can save me from despair; The shadows deepen round my way, Stay with me, O my Saviour, stay.
Who save thee, O God, knoweth the human heart? Pity me, for thy rod is heavy. My earthly hopes are all torn and crushed,—oh, may they turn heaven-ward and there find support and nourishment. This is Father's discipline, shall I murmur? Nay, but rather rejoice that he does not leave me to myself but deals with me as a child—chastening, rebuking, scourging and refining: preparing me by all these afflictions for the "rest that remaineth for the people of God." And sweet the rest will be after such a weary journey! How I shall fold my hands upon the bosom that shall never again be troubled, and say in all sincerity: I thank thee, O God, for the sweet that was mingled in my earthly cup, but more do I thank thee for the bitter.
"In early life I'm called to part With all I hold so dear; Strong tendrils bind my yearning heart, But cannot keep me here.
"I am resigned; yet tears will fall, Sad thoughts steal over me; And dost thou know that with them all Are mingling thoughts of thee?
"We have been friends in hopes and fears In joys and griefs the same— Since first we learned in childhood's years To lisp each other's name.
"In quiet grove, in lonely dell, In meadows green and fair, Beside the stream we loved so well, If one then both were there.
"Together we our plans have laid With hopeful brow and heart,— When roving 'neath the summer shade, But never thought to part.
"The spring will come, the trees will wave As when we saw them last, But thou wilt linger by my grave, And muse upon the past.
"Beyond the portals of the tomb I look with joyful eye: A glorious light dispels the gloom, 'Tis not so hard to die.
"There is a home of rest divine— A home prepared for me; But hours of darkness will be thine, For this I cling to thee.
"Hark! 'tis the angel choirs above; I've but one earthly care,— Oh, promise me by all our love That thou wilt meet me there."
That earnest look—I see it still, That voice—I hear it yet; And death this aching heart shall chill Before it can forget.
The flowers have faded one by one, The summer birds are flown, And 'neath a cold autumnal sun I wander forth alone.
The yellow leaves are falling fast Along the river side,— I watch them borne upon the blast, And on the swelling tide.
I think how all things earthly fade, Then wipe the tears that flow, As memory brings the promise made So many years ago.
THE DEAD CHRIST.
The last expiring groan was hushed; the beaming eye was closed—it wept no longer over the sins of a perverse race. Those gentle and lovely features were robed with the pallid hue of death, and the heart that melted at the sorrows of mankind beat no longer. The grave, the cold grave, rejoicingly closed its dreary portals upon his sacred form; and he, the lowly and despised Nazarene, who found no resting- place for his weary head, slept quietly in a borrowed sepulchre.
Ah! many springs have come and gone, And called me forth in vain; Now winter folds the winding-sheet Round nature's breast again.
Young hands have gathered bright, wild flowers, Young feet have trod the grass, But I have watched in solitude The mournful shadows pass.
Young hands have gathered brighter flowers From wisdom's pleasant tree— But darker still the shadows fall, There are no flowers for me!
No flowers! where shadows deepest lie Amid the wint'ry gloom, Thank God, I see with kindling eye The Rose of Sharon bloom!
It is enough—my earthly hopes Are fading one by one; My God and my Redeemer lives, And may his will be done.
I know that in a better world I shall look back and say I never could have reached my home By any other way.
And such a home! no frightful dreams, No wakings to despair— No cries of—God remove the cup, Or give me strength to bear!
No pillows wet with burning tears,— No longings wild and vain To wander in the pleasant fields, Or dear old woods again!
But love and peace, and endless joy, And rest to me how strange! Lord give me patience to await The happy, happy change!
THE MIXED CUP.
Joy and sorrow, are they not mingled in every cup? We call some happy, others unfortunate; and so they appear to us. But could we draw aside the curtain that conceals the mysteries of the human heart what problems would be solved, and how often we should be lead to exclaim, "God dealeth justly: pain and pleasure are more equally distributed than we imagined"! But this may not be. We judge according to appearances, and this is one great source of misery; for, in our grief, we imagine others are more favored than we, and for the blessings we do enjoy we are not thankful. Oh, the great mercy of God! What a wonder it is that he does not smite us to the earth when we dare murmur at his dealings!
I SHALL DEPART.
When the flowers of Summer die, When the birds of Summer fly, When the winds of Autumn sigh, I shall depart.
When the mourning Earth receives Last of all the faded leaves,— When the wailing forest grieves, I shall depart.
When are garnered grain and fruit, When all insect life is mute, I shall drop my broken lute; I shall depart.
When the fields are brown and bare, Nothing left that's good or fair, And the hoar-frost gathers there, I shall depart.
Not with you, O songsters, no! To no Southern clime I go,— By a way none living know I shall depart.
Many aching hearts may yearn, Many lamps till midnight burn, But I never shall return, When I depart.
Trembling, fearing, sorely tried, Waiting for the ebbing tide, Who, oh! who will be my guide When I depart?
Once the river cold and black Rolled its waves affrighted back,— I shall see a shining track When I depart.
There my God and Saviour passed, He will be my guide at last,— Clinging to his merits fast, I shall depart.
—Written in 1858.
Tears are coming, years are going, Be they fraught with joy or pain,— Like a river they are flowing To the everlasting main!
On the banks are thorns and roses, And we take of both a share Till the ocean round us closes, And we drop our anchor—where?
If the future were uncertain, If across the mighty deep, Brushing back the misty curtain Angel pinions did not sweep,—
If there were no bright to-morrow For our day of toil and strife, Burdened with its weight of sorrow, What a curse were human life!
Locks are whitening, cheeks are paling, With each month and year that flies; Youth and vigor both are failing, But the spirit never dies!
Short indeed is our probation, Dark and certain is the tomb,— But the Lamp of revelation Dissipates the fearful gloom.
Oh, we take our life too sadly, Ever grieve and mourn too much, Turn to ashes what would gladly Turn to gold beneath our touch.
'Tis because that in our blindness We imagine God is blind,— 'Tis because we doubt his kindness, That we cannot be resigned.
Nature cries amid the trials That beset our thorny path: "God outpoureth all the vials Of his anger and his wrath!"
Such complaints are more surprising Since the declaration runs: "If ye be without chastising, Then indeed, ye are not sons."
All our future course He seeth Better than we see our past, And whatever he decreeth We shall understand at last.
Let us then in our affliction Meekly trust our gracious Lord,— Well assured his benediction Will ere long be our reward.
Let us beautify the present,— There is much we all can do That will make the year more pleasant, For ourselves and others too.
A VOICE FROM A SICK-ROOM.
[At one time Miss Johnson seems to have entertained the idea of writing for publication a series of articles entitled "Voices from a Sick-room." Whether she ever wrote more than one or not I cannot say. The following is the only one we can find among her manuscripts, and it is so thrillingly interesting as to make us wish for more. It is dated Sept. 5, 1859.]
Draw the curtains—shut out the light of heaven; the inner world is so full of darkness that the sunshine of the outer world becomes painful by contrast. Hush, little bird! don't sing to-day. There—all is dark and still. Now, O wretched heart, exult in thy wretchedness; draw the dark, heavy curtains of despair around thee; shut out the light of hope and love; hush the voice of praise and thanksgiving. Think of all thou hast suffered; think of thy present misery; crowd the future with black-robed phantoms; people every nook and corner with horrible faces, and over all let the thunder crash and bellow, and the winds moan and shriek, as they moan and shriek only when the great are dying.
Ah, what sad havoc do sickness and pain make of the poor body; but sadder still when they trample on the bright inhabitant within, and make it a slave to tremble at their bidding! "Bring chains—bring chains," cries the fell destroyer; and ere she has time to rally her forces around her, or even think of resistance, the poor Soul has become a helpless captive, and Disease wears a smile of triumph upon her ghastly cheek, and again lifts up her voice to shout "victory." And a complete victory it is: Self-control, Pride, Ambition—all are humbled; Hope is shrouded in sackcloth, and if she ever speaks it is only to whisper: "There is one secret passage by which thou mayest yet escape, but it winds through the kingdom of Death and the Grave." Reason herself grows pale and trembles, lest she lose her throne; for the thousands of obedient servants, which have never before disputed her authority, are all up in arms against her. Every nerve begins to quiver and vibrate; the whole body is in commotion; and no wonder the trembling Soul sits down amid the ruins of her former self and makes the whole place doleful with her cries and lamentations.
Don't chide her: she is no criminal waiting the demands of justice, but a prisoner of war, and therefore should be dealt kindly with. Don't gaze at her through her prison bars, as though she were a wild beast caged, or some curious object kept only for a show; but go to her enveloped in the mantle of love, upon your lips the honey-dew of human kindness, and in your heart the melting tenderness of Christian affection. Don't tell her she is escaping many trials and temptations to which she would be exposed if she came in contact with the busy world around her. Go to the imprisoned eagle, and, as he looks up longingly into the deep blue sky and beats his wings in agony, comfort him with the assurance that his wants are provided for, and he himself safe from the arts of the fowler! Aye, tell this to the free-born eagle, but disgust not the ever-yearning, restless Soul with such mockeries. She may listen, but she laughs you to scorn in secret and prays Heaven to be delivered from such comforters. She knows her struggles and temptations are inward; and she knows too, for that very reason, they are more terrible. There greater battles have been fought than the blood-dyed fields of Europe ever witnessed. Magentas and Solferinas fatten with the blood of heroes, but she carries on a never ending warfare "with principalities and powers"—the numberless host of hell—and legions of native passions.
Deal gently with her. Would you win her confidence? There is but one passage to her affections. Speak that word—bolt and bar fly open: she takes you by the hand and welcomes you to her most sacred and secluded retreat. That word is sympathy: let her feel it in your tender embrace, see it in the glance of your eye, hear it in the modulation of your voice. It is for this she yearns and sighs, and refuses to be comforted where it is not.
Bring her flowers—sweet, beautiful flowers. They are meet companions for her solitude. Gather blossoms from the whitening apple-bough, violets from the meadow, dandelions from the wayside. She will fold them more tenderly to her bosom than the rarest plants, for their faces are old, familiar ones, and she imagines they wear a look of pity.
But there are more precious things than human sympathy; there are sweeter flowers than violets or roses. They bloom on the prayer-consecrated mountains of Judea, amid the ancient olives of Gethsemane, along the Dolorous Way trodden by the Man of Sorrows, beneath the shadows of the Cross, and around the borrowed Sepulchre. Oh, gather them with no sparing hand: there are enough for you and her—enough for every sorrowing heart in the universe. Take them to the poor sufferer. Their fragrance will make the lonely chamber like a garden of spices; the tearful eyes will turn heavenward, and the pale lips—tremulous with contrition will whisper, "Father; forgive me, for I knew not what I did when I murmured at thy dealings." Then a solemn hush will follow—a holy twilight of the soul,—as if the sorrows of earth were blending with the joys of heaven, the pains of mortality with the blessedness of the angelic bards. Oh, these are the flowers for a sickroom! How dreary and desolate does it seem without them! The strong and healthy may live on, careless and irreligious, but what would become of the poor, grief-stricken, despairing Soul if she could not repose quietly in the bosom her Beloved, and say with child-like simplicity, morning and evening, "Our Father who art in heaven!"
SONGS OF HOPE
"HE GIVETH SONGS IN THE NIGHT."
Gloriously the sun sinks behind the western hills. Half the sky seems on fire, and the other half wreathed with light fantastic clouds. All nature is beautiful—can I be sad? Nay; away with sadness, away with sorrow; I will forget everything my strangeness, my blasted hopes, and seek for happiness where happiness only is to be found, in the sacred Oracles of God.—July 14, 1852.
God sometimes speaks in earthquake and in storm, But oftener in the "still small voice" of love: He urges men as loving fathers plead. God is our Father, yet we shun his face And hide ourselves when at the cool of day He walketh in the garden!
How sweet the thought that God, our heavenly Father, is omniscient. Our griefs are not hidden from him. He knows our hearts, and with all this knowledge he is good—so tender, so pitiful! Oh, to love him as he deserves! Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing his praises! Tell the sick, tell the sorrowing, tell the broken-hearted of this God; tell the wretched, the guilty, the wayward prodigal of this gracious Father.
THE LAST GOOD NIGHT.
[In the day of health and prosperity everybody feels like singing, but "in the night" of adversity grace must produce the song of holy confidence and hope. Such a song is the following, which has probably been printed oftener than any other of Miss JOHNSON'S poems. It has appeared in several papers; finds a place in Dewart's "Selections from Canadian Poets"; was set to music by George F. Root, and appears in his "School for the Cabinet Organ." With many it has been a favorite.]
Mother, good night! my work is done,— I go to rest with the setting sun: But not to wake with the morning light, So, dearest mother, a long good night!
Father, good night! the shadows glide Silently down to the river's side,— The river itself with stars is bright, So, dearest father, a long good night!
Sisters, good night! the roses close Their dewy eyes for the night's repose— And a strange, damp mist obscures my sight, So, dearest sisters, a long good night!
Brothers, good night! the sunset flush Has died away, and a midnight hush Has settled o'er plain and mountain height, So, dearest brothers, a long good night!
Good night! good night! nay, do not weep: I'm weary of earth, I long to sleep— I shall wake again with the dawning light Of eternal day—good night, good night!
RETROSPECTIVE AND PROSPECTIVE.
I remember the time when we went forth arm in arm over the newly mown fields, scaring the grasshoppers from our pathway, with our baskets on our arms, to gather the blueberries that hung in clusters on their slender stalks. But thou art gone now to the fairer fields of paradise, to pluck sweeter fruit than ever ripened here. Thou art gone! The blueberry bushes have fallen long ago before the scythe; the field has changed its appearance; and as for me, the breezes woo me forth in vain—I cannot go. Sickness and sorrow have come between me and the love of earth; they have cast a dark shadow over what I once thought fair. But as there can be no shadow without a light beyond it I have caught bright glimpses of a better home—a land of life and glory.
[We have no clue to the time when this was written. It is imperfect: the second verse is not complete in the copy. But is it not true to life so far as earthly hope is concerned? Of "the hope of the gospel" our songstress would speak differently.]
What a syren is Hope—what a charming deceiver! She whispers so blandly you can but believe her; The garments of Truth and of Reason she stealeth And every deformity thus she concealeth.
When down in the valley I'm talking with Sorrow She comes with a song—all its burden to-morrow; She mocks my companion....
Then she beckons me up to the top of a mountain; She brings me a draught from a clear, sparkling fountain, And talks of the beautiful prospect before us Till ere I'm aware, the dark night settles o'er us.
Sometimes in my anger I try to elude her; I call her a jade and an idle intruder; But she kisses, caresses, and coaxes, and flatters Till I build me a castle the next zephyr shatters.
When I firmly resolve I will listen no longer, Than my will or my reason somehow she is stronger: I chide her, deride her, despise her and doubt her, And yet it is true I can't live without her!
EARTH NOT THE CHRISTIAN'S HOME.
Earth, with all thy grief and sorrow, And thy changes of to-morrow; With thy woe and with thy parting, With thy tears of anguish starting, With thy countless heart-strings breaking, With thy loved and lost forsaking, With thy famished millions sighing, With thy scenes of dead and dying, With thy graveyards without number, Where the old and youthful slumber; Earth, oh, earth! thus dark and dreary, Cold, and sad, and worn, and weary, Thou art not my home!
Earth, oh, earth! with all thy slaughter And thy streams of blood like water O'er the field of battle gushing, Where the mighty armies rushing, Reckless of all human feeling, With the war trump loudly pealing, And the gallant banners flying, Trample on the dead and dying; Where the foe, the friend, the brother, Bathed in blood sleep by each other; Earth, oh, earth! thus dark and gory, Blood and tears make up thy story, Thou art not my home!
Earth, with all thy scenes of anguish, Where the poor and starving languish, To the proud oppressor bending, And their cries for mercy blending; Where the slave with bosom swelling, Which despair has made its dwelling, And the scalding tear-drops falling— Sight to human hearts appalling— Strives, but strives in vain to sever Fetters that must bind him ever; Earth, oh, earth! with each possession Sold to tyrants and oppression, Thou art not my home!
Earth, oh, earth! thy brightest treasures, Like thy hopes and like thy pleasures, Wintry winds are daily blighting; Pain, and woe, and death uniting, Youth and love and beauty crushing, And the sweetest voices hushing; Rich and poor, and old and blooming, To one common mansion dooming; While the cries of every nation Mingle with those of creation; Earth, oh, earth! thus dark and dreary, Cold, and sad, and worn and weary, Thou art not my home!
Earth, oh, earth! though dark and gory, In thy pristine state of glory! Angels came upon thee gazing, Songs of love and rapture raising; For thou then wast bright and beaming, With the sunlight on thee streaming, With thy crystal waters laving Shores with fadeless forests waving; With thy plains and with thy mountains, With thy ever-gushing fountains; Earth, oh, earth! once fair and holy, Fallen, fallen, and so lowly; Thou art not my home!
Earth, oh, earth! bowed down by sorrow, Cheer thee, for there comes a morrow; Night and clouds, and gloom dispersing, And thyself, O earth, immersing In a flood of light undying; When the curse upon thee lying, With its thousand woes attending. Death, and pain, and bosoms rending, Partings that the heart-strings sever, Will be banished and forever,— Earth, oh, earth! renewed in glory, Love and joy make up the story; Oh, be thou my home!
Earth, although thou seem'st forsaken, Yet a note of praise awaken; For the angels, lowly bending Round the throne of light unending, Gaze upon thee, sad and groaning, Listen to thy bitter moaning; Thou hast scenes to them amazing, While on Calvary's mountain gazing; And they smile on every nation Purchased with so great salvation,— Earth, oh, earth! renewed in glory, Angels shall rehearse thy story; Oh, be thou my home!
Earth, the morn will soon break o'er thee, And thy Saviour will restore thee; Far more bright and far more blooming, And more glorious robes assuming Than when first, o'er Eden ringing, Angel-voices were heard singing; For thy King himself descending, Heaven and earth together blending, With his saints a countless number, Those who live and those who slumber, Over thee will reign victorious,— Earth, oh, earth, thus bright and glorious, Be thou then my home!
"WE SORROW NOT AS OTHERS WITHOUT HOPE."
While looking over an old manuscript, written by one who is long since passed from time into eternity, I met with the following lines: "It is six years to-day since my Elsa died, and five months since my Amanda left me forever. They sleep in the grave, and there they will remain through endless years." He then went on, in strains mournful and tender, and with all a father's sorrow deplored his loss. I could not wonder that he wept the tears of anguish and despair if, as he said, they are to remain in the dark tomb through endless years. The glorious Resurrection morning was unknown to him. He saw only the tomb, and considered not that there is One who holds the keys of the grave, and who will soon burst the icy bars of death and bring forth the righteous to immortality. Truly that morning has charms for the Christian. God grant that if I am called to slumber for a while I may "have part in the first resurrection."—June 22, 1852.
THE MESSENGER BIRD.
Oh, fly away to the better land, Thou bird of the snowy wing! Oh, fly away to the blood-washed band, And hear the songs they sing!
But bear a message from us, O dove, To that bright and happy throng; For we have friends whom we dearly love, Who swell the Conqueror's song.
Oh tell them our hearts are sad and lone, Our homes not bright as of yore; For we miss the soft, the soothing tone Of the friends we loved before.
Oh tell them we sigh for the better land, For earth has grown sad and chill; And we long rejoicing with them to stand On the heights of Zion's hill.
Oh tell them we long to share their rest, Afar from all earthly strife; We long to lean on our Saviour's breast, And roam by the tree of life.
Oh tell them our fondest hopes are there, For our earthly hopes are o'er; And we sigh for the land all bright and fair— We sigh for the deathless shore.
Then fly away to the better land, Thou bird of the snowy wing! Oh fly away to the blood-washed band, And hear the songs they sing.
And then return with the speed of love, When the night grows dark and chill, And tell us, oh, tell us, thou white-winged dove! Do they love, do they love us still?
We know there is One, in that blissful home, Who loves and remembers us yet; Though weary and sorrowful now we roam, We know that he will not forget.
We'll trust him then, the great and the strong; By his own almighty hand He'll bring us soon with the blood-washed throng To the bright, the better land.
OUR SHIP IS HOMEWARD BOUND.
What though the angry waves are high, And darkness reigns around? Let hope be bright in every eye, Our ship is homeward bound!
What though nor moon nor stars appear Amid the gloom profound, Why should we yield a place to fear? Our ship is homeward bound!
What though the lightnings glare above, And deaf'ning thunders roar, When with the eye of faith and love We view the distant shore?
We know that friends are waiting there We loved in life before; And angel forms all bright and fair Line the eternal shore.
We've often longed with them to bow At our Redeemer's feet,— He loved us first, we love Him now, Then let the billows beat!
And let them bear our hopes away, Although they once were sweet, We catch a glimpse of coming day— Oh, let the billows beat!
The coward peers with trembling form Into the gloom profound, But we can smile to view the storm, Our ship is homeward bound!
And though for us on life's dark wave No anchorage be found,— Oh, let our hearts be true and brave, Our ship is homeward bound!
Shades of night have gathered round, 'Tis the hour of gloom profound; 'Tis the hour when many sleep, 'Tis the hour when many weep, Over pleasures buried deep.
Faces smiling through the day, Lips that told a spirit gay, Eyes that beamed as with delight, Now concealed from human sight, Put aside the mask to-night.
Tossing on the couch of pain, Seeking rest but all in vain, With the dark and dreary tomb Oft appearing through the gloom, Weary sufferers wait their doom!
Bright and golden dreams have some: On their airy wings they come, Giving fancy leave to soar To the happy scenes of yore,— Or to some untraveled shore.
By the hearth he holds so dear, Softly ringing in his ear Gentle voices, faces bright Bursting on his gladdened sight,— Sits the wanderer to-night.
Clasping hands in holy trust Long since mouldered into dust,— Gazing into death-sealed eyes, With a look of sweet surprise, Every tear the mourner dries.
From some rugged mountain high Making journeys through the sky, Or in amaranthine bowers Talking with the birds and flowers, Poets spend the midnight hours.
Phantoms that by day elude, Flying ever when pursued,— Like the desert mirage bright, Filled with joy and with delight Dreamers fondly clasp to-night.
Oh, that morning's early beam Should dissolve the blissful dream! Oh, that love and hope should fly Like the mist in yonder sky, When the burning sun is high!
There's a morning yet to break, When the sleepers shall awake From the couch and from the grave, From the mountain and the cave, From beneath the ocean wave.
Then the dream of life is o'er, Then they wake to sleep no more; Then all earthly hopes shall fly Like the mist in yonder sky,— And that morning draweth nigh!
The old, the young, and the middle-aged all meet to-day in the house of prayer. From a thousand churches in our own and other lands the voice of praise and thanksgiving goes up to heaven—"The Lord is risen!" Oh glorious tidings! "The Lord is risen indeed," and hath appeared to Peter! aye, and to Mary also,—the poor sinner whose touch would have been profanation to the Pharisees of our own times. And still more wonderful, He hath appeared to Thomas—to Thomas the infidel, who laughed at the story of the resurrection!
THE RISEN REDEEMER.
Rejoice now, O sorrowing bride, for he sleeps no longer. Let thy glad songs of praise and adoration reach the skies, for the Lord is not among the dead—he is risen. "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!" for thy Savior has burst the iron bands of death and come forth a mighty conqueror. For thy sins he laid himself down in the icy tomb; he rises again for thy justification. For thy iniquities he suffered, died and was buried: he comes forth again that thou mayest be a sharer of his glory. He has hallowed the dreary tomb by his own dear presence, and now he has ascended to his Father and your Father, to his God and your God. He has taken his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high, and there, despairing soul, trembling under the burden of sin, he pleads for thee (Heb. 7: 25). He points to the cross on Calvary, dripping with his own precious blood, and in a voice of tender compassion exclaims: "Father, I died for that wretched sinner; spare, oh spare him for my sake!" He has entered into the holy place by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption for thee, O daughter of Zion.
DOST THOU REMEMBER ME?
O Thou whose footsteps are unknown, Whose path is on the sea,— Whose footstool earth, and heaven whose throne, Dost Thou remember me?
O Thou whom winds and waves obey, At whose supreme command The shining worlds pursue their way, Or in their orbits stand,—
Thou at whose touch the hills disperse, And burning mountains flee, Thou Ruler of the Universe, Dost Thou remember me?
This world though fallen still is thine, And dearer far to-day Than all the countless orbs that shine But never went astray.
For here the blessed Son of God Was born, and wept, and died; Our valleys and our hills he trod, And they are sanctified.
On Him my guilty soul relies, Through him I come to thee; Thou dost accept my sacrifice, Thou dost remember me!
'T IS I—BE NOT AFRAID.
Dark hung the clouds o'er Galilee; A lonely bark was on the sea, Where wild the billows played; Deep terror filled each trembling frame, When suddenly the accents came, "'T is I—be not afraid!"
A martyr stood with tranquil air; He saw the stake, the fetters there, The fagots all arrayed; But, though such darkness reigned around, He caught the sweet, the cheering sound, "'T is I—be not afraid!"
A weary pilgrim roamed alone; For him was breathed no friendly tone, No friendly hand brought aid; But through the gloom so dark and drear, A gentle whisper reached his ear, "'T is I—be not afraid!"
A mother knelt in anguish wild Beside a loved, a dying child, And tears in torrents strayed; A soothing voice breathed to her heart, In tones that bade despair depart, "'T is I—be not afraid!"
Upon a bed of pain and death A Christian faintly drew his breath, With spirit half dismayed; He heard a soft, a tender voice— It caused that spirit to rejoice— "'T is I—be not afraid!"
A penitent with streaming eye Raised unto heaven his doleful cry, And fervently he prayed; A brilliant light around him shone, And with it came a heavenly tone, "'T is I-be not afraid!"
And when the trump from yonder skies Shall bid the silent dead arise; When suns and stars shall fade; When thunders roar, and mountains fall; The saints shall hear above them all, "'T is I-be not afraid!"
THE ONLY PERFECT ONE.
I have just finished "D'Aubigne's History of the Reformation." How many noble characters are here brought to light! how many fervent Christians—how many lofty souls—how many holy hearts! The firm and undaunted Luther, the gentle Melancthon, the brave and courageous Zwingle, the mild Ecolampadi—us, the zealous and fiery Farel—and a host of others equally noble in the Master's cause. And yet they all had their faults; not one of them was perfect. Though we may sometimes feel to deplore their failings, yet surely it is a comfort to the poor Christian, beset with temptations and wandering daily from the straight and narrow path, to look back upon the lives of the best of earth's sons—the noblest and the holiest,—and behold that even they sometimes went astray. It buoys up his soul with new hope and courage. It bids it cast aside every thought of justification save by faith in Jesus Christ. It increases that faith, and directs the weary pilgrim to the feet of Him who alone is holy and perfect.—June 30,1852.
THE DYING CHRISTIAN.
I have heard music from a far-off land, Where sighs and sad laments are never heard; Where friends can meet and clasp each other's hand, But ne'er give utterance to that dreadful word Which has wrung hearts, and like a funeral knell Has tolled for our departed hopes—"Farewell!"
I have had visions of that blessed clime, Where fadeless flowers and fruits immortal grow— Far, far beyond the troubled waves of—Time, Where streams of living waters sparkling flow; And while a pilgrim here I sadly roam, I love to call that blissful land my home.
And often with the passing breeze I hear A sweet, a sad, perchance a warning tone: "Heaven calls for thee," falls on my willing ear; Oh! can the glorious message be mine own? Can it be mine, unworthy child of clay, To win the realms of everlasting day?
Through Him who died, through Him who rose again, Through Him who lives, and lives forevermore, I may at last that blissful rest obtain, And I may stand upon the lovely shore Where youth and health on every cheek shall bloom, Beyond the reach of death and of the tomb.
Then hail sweet voice! sweet message to my heart! Hail, land of love and home of endless peace! Ye ties that bind me here, oh! quickly part, And shout, my soul, for joy to find release, With angels meet and sing in sweet accord, Forever blest, forever with the Lord!
Come sit here close beside me and take my hand in thine, And tell me of the happy home I think will soon be mine; Oh, tell me of the river and of the garden fair, And of the tree of life that waves its healing branches there!
And tell me of the love of God who gave his only Son To die and suffer on the cross for deeds that I have done; And tell to me the holy words the blessed Jesus spake When from the courts of Heaven he came, an exile for my sake.
I love to hear how Mary sat at the Redeemer's feet,— I wish I could have been there too, I would have shared her seat; I envy much the little group that met at Martha's board To listen to the gentle voice of him whom they adored.
I envy those rude fishermen who rowed him o'er the sea, Who walked with him and talked with him as I now talk to thee; I envy those who brought their sick, just at the close of day, That they might be restored to health when Jesus passed that way.
Had I been living then I know I would have joined the crowd— "Have mercy, oh have mercy, Lord!" I would have cried aloud. Thou sayest that I still may go and tell him all my grief, And go I will; "Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief."
I know my heart is very hard, I feel the load within; But in the blood of Jesus Christ I wash away my sin; I lay my burden at his feet while to his cross I cling; I do so long to hear him speak death seems a blessed thing.
Now kneel here close beside me and lift thy voice in prayer That I may say his will be done whatever I may bear, Oh, I should love to work for him, if that could be his will, But pray that I may be resigned—may suffer and be still.
COMPLETE IN HIM.
Does not the blood of Jesus alone cleanse from all sin?-who but sinners are invited to the great Fountain? Are my robes filthy?—where can they be made white but in the blood of the Lamb? Is my heart obdurate and unbelieving?—who can soften and subdue it save the Almighty One who listens to its throbbings and knows all its trouble? Am I tempted, sorely tempted?—who can pity like Him who in the wilderness met face to face the great enemy, the great tempter of mankind? Ah, my poor heart aches when I think of all that is in the past and of all the future may have in store for me. But is there no balm in Gilead? is there no physician there? Will He not take me by the hand and whisper, "Be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee"? Will He not heal thy wounds by pouring into them the oil of consolation? He has promised to do this—yea, much more than this; and will he for the first time in the history of mankind fail to perform what he has spoken? Nay, nay, and I will doubt no longer.... O Jesus, my Mediator, my Redeemer, have compassion upon me, and declare thyself to the Father as THE LORD MY RIGHTEOUSNESS.—Sept. 1860.
TRUST IN GOD.
Trust in God! He will direct thee, He will love and will protect thee; Lean upon his mighty arm, Fear no danger, fear no harm. Trust him for his grace and power; Trust him in each trying hour.
Trust in God whate'er betide thee! Trust him though he sometimes chide thee: 'Tis in love to lead thee back When thou turnest from the track. Trust him, cling to him forever, And he will desert thee—never.
Trust in God, the Rock of ages! Louder still the tempest rages, Earthquakes heave and thunders roar, Mountain surges lash the shore, Nations tremble—hark! the warning, "Comes the night, and comes the morning."
Watchmen on the walls of Zion Catch a glimpse of Judah's Lion! Man of sorrows, Lamb once slain, Comes as King of kings to reign, And from long oppressed Creation, Break the anthems of salvation.
Trust in God! the morn awaits thee, And while such a hope elates thee, Wilt thou fold thy hands in ease? No, the golden moments seize! Lay thy gift upon the altar, Thou hast duties—do not falter!
Alone, and yet not alone am I; sad, and yet not sad. No human form intrudes upon my solitude, and yet He who fills creation with himself is surely with me; sad I am, for there are many earthly thoughts that contribute to cast a shade upon my soul, and yet heavenly thoughts soon dispel such mournful ones. Oh, that my whole affection might be placed upon things above, and not on things on the earth! Why should my heart be gloomy when such a glorious prospect opens before me?—a world of immortal beauty, enlivened by the presence of God himself, and a glorious city, even the New Jerusalem. "Fly, lingering moments, fly away, and bring that long expected day" when Christ shall appear in glory to take his weary children home.
"THOU SHALT KNOW HEREAFTER."
The wind has ceased—how still and tranquil all! The ghastly moon still shines upon the wall; While other eyes are closed why do I weep? Begone, ye phantoms, welcome, balmy sleep! And bear me to the shadowy land of dreams Where yesternight I roamed by crystal streams, And gathered flowers methought would never fade, Or talked with angels 'neath the pleasant shade!
It was a dream; ah, yes, and life to me Was once a dream—smooth as the placid sea When all is calm, and on its bosom lies The golden radiance of the summer skies. There came a storm—the thunder's dreadful roar, The angry waves that beat against the shore Awakened me—oh, I had lived too long In the bright realms of fancy and of song.
Perhaps 'twas well the storm swept o'er the sea, Perhaps 'twas well the tumult startled me, 'Twas well I learned there's much to do and dare, Much to be suffered, much to meekly bear, But when I found the real though unsought, And thought of life and trembled as I thought,— When like the leaves in autumn day by day The hopes I cherished hastened to decay, And hopeless, helpless in my great despair I turned to earth but found no solace there, 'Twas well for me that in the darkened skies I saw the Star of Bethlehem arise!
I know not why, though nature craves to know, That all my dreams of happiness below Should be thus blighted, yet the time is near When I, poor voyager, often shipwrecked here, Shall reach the port, and safely moored at last Review the scenes and sufferings of the past,— Beholding where the shadows darkest lay The dawning glory of immortal day, And all along the path that seemed so drear Leaving this one memorial—God was here!
"THINE EYES SHALL SEE THE KING IN HIS BEAUTY."
The thought is ever present, Shall these eyes indeed see the Maker of the universe? shall these feet indeed walk the Golden City? shall these hands wave the palm of victory and strike the chords of the glorious harp whose music shall be sweeter than that of David's? Can this be possible, and do I weep and mourn because of present affliction? Oh, the future, the future! what has it not in reserve for me? Glories of which mortal never dreamed: eternal life—eternal happiness—perpetual youth—knowledge unbounded, yet ever increasing! Fly, fly, fly, days of pain and sorrow! Hail, all hail! bright morn of deliverance. It will come; and I—oh, the thought overpowers me—I, poor and wretched and sinful, shall be blessed forever, forever, FOREVER.
ALL IS WELL
Dark the future yawns before me, Bitter griefs my bosom swell; But a light is breaking o'er me, And a voice—"All, all is well!"
Sad and lone has been my journey, Sad and lone my way must be:— Care and sorrow, pain and sickness, Long have been allotted me.
Sunshine—that o'er youthful bosoms Flings a bright and magic spell, Seldom breaks upon my pathway, Yet I know that all is well!
If the Hand that guides the planets Feeds the ravens when they cry, Can it be that I'm unnoticed By a Father's loving eye?
He has thoughts of mercy toward me, His designs I cannot tell; 'Tis enough for me to trust Him, He knows best—and all is well!
Many doubts and many shadows Oft have flitted through my mind, And I've questioned, sadly questioned, But no answer could I find.
Earth was silent to my pleading, Nature taught me to rebel; But when I recall the promise "I am with thee"—all is well!
Many things I can't unravel; Many winding mazes see; But I'll go with faith unshaken, For the Lord is leading me.
And when beams of endless glory The mysterious clouds dispel, Grateful shall I tell my story, Grateful say that all was well!
WE SHALL MEET.
We have wandered oft together At the hour of setting sun; Shall we wander thus together, When the toils of life are done?
Many hours we've spent together Scenes of joy and grief have known; Shall we spend the hours together When the joy will be alone?
Sad indeed would be our parting If we hoped to meet no more, But although the tears are starting, Look we to a brighter shore.
Dark indeed would be the morrow When, apart we sadly roam, If beyond this world of sorrow We could see no happier home.
But we've heard a joyful story Of a land that's bright and fair, And we hope to share its glory, And to meet each other there.
Swiftly onward to the ocean Roll the troubled waves of time, Bearing us with every motion Nearer to the blessed clime.
Soon the tears that now are starting With their causes will be o'er; Soon the hands now clasped in parting Will be joined forevermore.
We have shared one home together, We have sat around one board; And we'll find a home together In the Paradise restored!
WHAT THE DAUGHTER OF THE CLOUD SAID.
Down the spout a torrent gushed, to be pent up in an old, dark tub, and made the slave of the washerwoman. Would it not have been better for thee, O water, to have fallen in the beautiful forest? to lie in the bosom of the lily, or become a looking glass for the many colored insects? "I would be useful," whispered the daughter of the cloud, "therefore I have stooped to an humble action—I left the abode of the lightning. My lot is a lowly one; my life full of sorrow and humiliation. I must pass through a fiery ordeal; I must be cast out and despised by those whom I have served. But then will be the time of my exaltation: the blessed Sun will take pity upon me, and make me a gem of beauty in the angels' highway!"
[Though no application has been made of this similitude, yet the truth designed to be taught is easily gathered: The Christian may be called to many a lowly act—to a ministration which will subject him to reproach and suffering here, but the day of exaltation is sure to come. "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted." The day hastens when from the heavens the Saviour will descend, "who will transform the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory."—Phil. 3:21 (Am. Bible Union Trans.). How glorious will the humble workers of earth appear when they are beautified by the Sun of righteousness in the resurrection morning! That will be all Easter day of surpassing loveliness.]
THIS IS NOT HOME.
This is not home! from o'er the stormy sea Bright birds of passage wing their way to me; They bear a message from the loved and lost Who tried the angry waves and safely crossed, And now in homelike mansions find repose Where billows never roar nor tempest blows.