It is certain that death is looked upon by many Canadians more as a matter of business, and a change of property into other hands, than as a real domestic calamity. I have heard people talk of the approaching dissolution of their nearest ties with a calm philosophy which I never could comprehend. "Mother is old and delicate; we can't expect her to last long," says one. "My brother's death has been looked for these several months past; you know he's in the consumption." My husband asked the son of a respectable farmer, for whom he entertained an esteem, how his father was, for he had not seen him for some time? "I guess," was the reply, "that the old man's fixing for the other world." Another young man, being asked by my friend, Captain —-, to spend the evening at his house, replied—"No, can't—much obliged; but I'm afear'd that grandfather will give the last kicks while I'm away."
Canadians flock in crowds to visit the dying, and to gaze upon the dead. A doctor told me that being called into the country to visit a very sick man, he was surprised on finding the wife of his patient sitting alone before the fire ill the lower room, smoking a pipe. He naturally inquired if her husband was better?
"Oh, no, sir, far from that; he is dying!"
"Dying! and you here?"
"I can't help that, sir. The room is so crowded with the neighbours, that I can't get in to wait upon him."
"Follow me," said the doctor. "I'll soon make a clearance for you."
On ascending the stairs that led to the apartment of the sick man, he found them crowded with people struggling to get in, to take a peep at the poor man. It was only by telling them that he was the doctor, that he forced his way to the bedside. He found his patient in a high fever, greatly augmented by the bustle, confusion, and heat, occasioned by so many people round him. With great difficulty he cleared the room of these intruders, and told the brother of his patient to keep every one but the sick man's wife out of the house. The brother followed the doctor's advice, and the man cheated the curiosity of the death-seekers, and recovered.
The Canadians spend a great deal of money upon their dead. An old lady told me that her nephew, a very large farmer, who had the misfortune to lose his wife in childbed, had laid out a great deal of money—a little fortune she termed it—on her grave-clothes. "Oh, my dear," she said, "it is a thousand pities that you did not go and see her before she was buried. She was dressed so expensively, and she made such a beautiful corpse! Her cap was of real thread lace, trimmed with white French ribbons, and her linen the finest that could be bought in the country."
The more ostentatious the display of grief for the dead, the less I have always found of the reality. I heard two young ladies, who had recently lost a mother, not more than sixteen years older than the eldest of the twain, lamenting most pathetically that they could not go to a public ball, because they were in mourning for ma'! Oh, what a pitiful farce is this, of wearing mourning for the dead! But as I have a good deal to say to sensible people on that subject, I will defer my long lecture until the next chapter.
"When is Youth's gay heart the lightest?— When the torch of health burns brightest, And the soul's rich banquet lies In air and ocean, earth and skies; Till the honied cup of pleasure Overflows with mental treasure.
"When is Love's sweet dream the sweetest?— When a kindred heart thou meetest, Unpolluted with the strife, The selfish aims that tarnish life; Ere the scowl of care has faded The shining chaplet Fancy braided, And emotions pure and high Swell the heart and fill the eye; Rich revealings of a mind Within a loving breast enshrined, To thine own fond bosom plighted, In affection's bonds united: The sober joys of after years Are nothing to those smiles and fears.
"When is Sorrow's sting the strongest?— When friends grow cold we've loved the longest, And the bankrupt heart would borrow Treacherous hopes to cheat the morrow; Dreams of bliss by reason banish'd, Early joys that quickly vanish'd, And the treasured past appears Only to augment our tears; When, within itself retreating, The spirit owns life's joys are fleeting, Yet, racked with anxious doubts and fears, Trusts, blindly trusts to future years.
"Oh, this is grief, the preacher saith,— The world's dark woe that worketh death! Yet, oft beneath its influence bowed, A beam of hope will burst the cloud, And heaven's celestial shore appears Slow rising o'er the tide of years, Guiding the spirit's darkling way Through thorny paths to endless day. Then the toils of life are done, Youth and age are both as one; Sorrow never more can sting, Neglect or pain the bosom wring; And the joys bless'd spirits prove, Far exceeds all earthly love!"
Wearing Mourning for the Dead
"What is death?—my sister, say." "Ask not, brother, breathing clay. Ask the earth on which we tread, That silent empire of the dead. Ask the sea—its myriad waves, Living, leap o'er countless graves!" "Earth and ocean answer not, Life is in their depths forgot." Ask yon pale extended form, Unconscious of the coming storm, That breathed and spake an hour ago, Of heavenly bliss and penal woe;— Within yon shrouded figure lies "The mystery of mysteries!" S.M.
Among the many absurd customs that the sanction of time and the arbitrary laws of society have rendered indispensable, there is not one that is so much abused, and to which mankind so fondly clings, as that of wearing mourning for the dead!—from the ostentatious public mourning appointed by governments for the loss of their rulers, down to the plain black badge, worn by the humblest peasant for the death of parent or child.
To attempt to raise one feeble voice against a practice sanctioned by all nations, and hallowed by the most solemn religious rites, appears almost sacrilegious. There is something so beautiful, so poetical, so sacred, in this outward sign of a deep and heartfelt sorrow, that to deprive death of his sable habiliments—the melancholy hearse, funeral plumes, sombre pall, and a long array of drooping night-clad mourners, together with the awful clangour of the doleful bell—would rob the stern necessity of our nature of half its terrors, and tend greatly to destroy that religious dread which is so imposing, and which affords such a solemn lesson to the living.
Alas! Where is the need of all this black parade? Is it not a reproach to Him, who, in his wisdom, appointed death to pass upon all men? Were the sentence confined to the human species, we might have more reason for these extravagant demonstrations of grief; but in every object around us we see inscribed the mysterious law of change. The very mountains crumble and decay with years; the great sea shrinks and grows again; the lofty forest tree, that has drank the dews of heaven, laughed in the sunlight, and shook its branches at a thousand storms, yields to the same inscrutable destiny, and bows its tall forehead to the dust.
Life lives upon death, and death reproduces life, through endless circles of being, from the proud tyrant man down to the blind worm his iron heel tramples in the earth. Then wherefore should we hang out this black banner for those who are beyond the laws of change and chance?
"Yea, they have finish'd: For them there is no longer any future. No evil hour knocks at their door With tidings of mishap—far off are they, Beyond desire or fear."
It is the dismal adjuncts of death which have invested it with those superstitious terrors that we would fain see removed. The gloom arising from these melancholy pageants forms a black cloud, whose dense shadow obscures the light of life to the living. And why, we ask, should death be invested with such horror? Death in itself is not dreadful; it is but the change of one mode of being for another—the breaking forth of the winged soul from its earthly chrysalis; or, as an old Latin poet has so happily described it—
"Thus life for ever runs its endless race, Death as a line which but divides the space— A stop which can but for a moment last, A point between the future and the past."
Nature presents in all her laws such a beautiful and wonderful harmony, that it is as impossible for death to produce discord among them, as for night to destroy, by the intervention of its shadow, the splendour of the coming day. Were men taught from infancy to regard death as a natural consequence, a fixed law of their being, instead as an awful pumshment for sin—as the friend and benefactor of mankind, not the remorseless tyrant and persecutor—to die would no longer be considered an evil. Let this hideous skeleton be banished into darkness, and replaced by a benignant angel, wiping away all tears, healing all pain, burying in oblivion all sorrow and care, calming every turbulent passion, and restoring man, reconciled to his Maker, to a state of purity and peace; young and old would then go forth to meet him with lighted torches, and hail his approach with songs of thanksgiving and welcome.
And this is really the case with all but the desperately wicked, who show that they despise the magnificent boon of life by the bad use they make of it, by their blasphemous defiance of God and good, and their unwillingness to be renewed in his image.
The death angel is generally met with more calmness by the dying than by surviving friends. By the former, the dreaded enemy is hailed as a messenger of peace, and they sink tranquilly into his arms, with a smile upon their lips.
The death of the Christian is a beautiful triumph over the fears of life. In Him who conquered death, and led captivity captive, he finds the fruition of his being, the eternal blessedness promised to him in the Gospel, which places him beyond the wants and woes of time. The death of such a man should be celebrated as a sacred festival, not lamented as a dreary execution,—as the era of a new birth, not the extinction of being.
It is true that death is a profound sleep, from which no one can awaken to tell his dreams. But why on that account should we doubt that it is less blessed than its twin brother, whose resemblance it bears, and whose presence we all sedulously court? Invest sleep, however, with the same dismal garb; let your bed be a coffin, your canopy a pall, your night-dress a shroud; let the sobs of mourners, and the tolling of bells lull you to repose,—and few persons would willingly, or tranquilly, close their eyes to sleep.
And then, this absurd fashion of wearing black for months and years for the dead; let us calmly consider the philosophy of the thing, its use and abuse. Does it confer any benefit on the dead? Does it afford any consolation to the living? Morally or physically, does it produce the least good? Does it soften one regretful pang, or dry one bitter tear, or make the wearers wiser or better? If it does not produce any ultimate benefit, it should be at once discarded as a superstitious relic of more barbarous times, when men could not gaze on the simple, unveiled face of truth, but obscured the clear daylight of her glance under a thousand fantastic masks.
The ancients were more consistent in their mourning than the civilized people of the present day. They sat upon the ground and fasted, with rent garments, and ashes strewn upon their heads. This mortification of the flesh was a sort of penance inflicted by the self-tortured mourner for his own sins, and those of the dead. If this grief were not of a deep or lasting nature, the mourner found relief for his mental agonies in humiliation and personal suffering. He did not array himself in silk, and wool, and fine linen, and garments cut in the most approved fashion of the day, like our modern beaux and belles, when they testify to the public their grief for the loss of relation or friend, in the most expensive and becoming manner.
Verily, if we must wear our sorrow upon our sleeve, why not return to the sackcloth and ashes, as the most consistent demonstration of that grief which, hidden in the heart, surpasseth show.
But, then, sackcloth is a most unmanageable material. A handsome figure would be lost, buried, annihilated, in a sackcloth gown; it would be so horribly rough; it would wound the delicate skin of a fine lady; it could not be confined in graceful folds by clasps of jet, and pearl, and ornaments in black and gold. "Sackcloth? Faugh!—away with it. It smells of the knotted scourge and the charnel-house." We, too, say, "Away with it!" True grief has no need of such miserable provocatives to woe.
The barbarians who cut and disfigured their faces for the dead, showed a noble contempt of the world, by destroying those personal attractions which the loss of the beloved had taught them to despise. But who now would have the fortitude and self-denial to imitate such an example? The mourners in crape, and silk, and French merino, would rather die themselves than sacrifice their beauty at the shrine of such a monstrous sorrow.
How often have I heard a knot of gossips exclaim, as some widow of a gentleman in fallen circumstances glided by in her rusty weeds, "What shabby black that woman wears for her husband! I should be ashamed to appear in public in such faded mourning."
And yet, the purchase of that shabby black may have cost the desolate mourner and her orphan children the price of many a necessary meal. Ah, this putting of a poor family into black, and all the funeral trappings for pallbearers and mourners, what a terrible affair it is! what anxious thoughts! what bitter heartaches it costs!
But the usages of society demand the sacrifice, and it must be made. The head of the family has suddenly been removed from his earthly toils, at a most complicated crisis of his affairs, which are so involved that scarcely enough can be collected to pay the expenses of the funeral, and put his family into decent mourning, but every exertion must be made to do this. The money that might, after the funeral was over, have paid the rent of a small house, and secured the widow and her young family from actual want, until she could look around and obtain some situation in which she could earn a living for herself and them, must all be sunk in conforming to a useless custom, upheld by pride and vanity in the name of grief.
"How will the funeral expenses ever be paid?" exclaims the anxious, weeping mother. "When it is all over, and the mourning bought, there will not remain a single copper to find us in bread." The sorrow of obtaining this useless outward show of grief engrosses all the available means of the family, and that is expended upon the dead which might, with careful management, have kept the living from starving. Oh, vanity of vanities! there is no folly on earth that exceeds the vanity of this!
There are many persons who put off their grief when they put on their mourning, and it is a miserable satire on mankind to see these somber-clad beings in festal halls mingling with the gay and happy, their melancholy garments affording a painful contrast to light laughter, and eyes sparkling with pleasure.
Their levity, however, must not be mistaken for hypocrisy. The world is in fault, not they. Their grief is already over,—gone like a cloud from before the sun; but they are forced to wear black for a given time. They are true to their nature, which teaches them that "no grief with man is permanent," that the storms of to-day will not darken the heavens to-morrow. It is complying with a lying custom makes them hypocrites; and, as the world always judges by appearances, it so happens that by adhering to one of its conventional rules, appearances in this instance are against them.
Nay, the very persons who, in the first genuine outburst of natural grief besought them to moderate their sorrow, to dry their tears, and be comforted for the loss they had sustained, are among the first to censure them for following advice so common and useless. Tears are as necessary to the afflicted as showers are to the parched earth, and are the best and sweetest remedy for excessive grief.
To the mourner we would say—Weep on; nature requires your tears. They are sent in mercy by Him who wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus. The man of sorrows himself taught us to weep.
We once heard a very beautiful volatile young lady exclaim, with something very like glee in her look and tone, after reading a letter she had received by the post, with its ominous black bordering and seal—"Grandmamma is dead! We shall have to go into deep mourning. I am so glad, for black is so becoming to me!"
An old aunt, who was present, expressed her surprise at this indecorous avowal; when the young lady replied, with great naivete—"I never saw grandmamma in my life. I cannot be expected to feel any grief for her death."
"Perhaps not," said the aunt. "But why, then, make a show of that which you do not feel?"
"Oh, it's the custom of the world. You know we must. It would be considered shocking not to go into very deep mourning for such a near relation."
The young lady inherited a very nice legacy, too, from her grandmamma; and, had she spoken the truth, she would have said, "I cannot weep for joy."
Her mourning, in consequence, was of the deepest and most expensive kind; and she really did look charming in her "love of a black crape bonnet!" as she skipped before the glass, admiring herself and it, when it came home fresh from the milliner's.
In contrast to the pretty young heiress, we knew a sweet orphan girl whose grief for the death of her mother, to whom she was devotedly attached, lay deeper than this hollow tinsel show; and yet the painful thought that she was too poor to pay this mark of respect to the memory of her beloved parent, in a manner suited to her birth and station, added greatly to the poignancy of her sorrow.
A family who had long been burthened with a cross old aunt, who was a martyr to rheumatic gout, and whose violent temper kept the whole house in awe, and whom they dared not offend for fear of her leaving her wealth to strangers, were in the habit of devoutly wishing the old lady a happy release from her sufferings. When this long anticipated event at length took place, the very servants were put into the deepest mourning. What a solemn farce—we should say, lie—was this!
The daughters of a wealthy farmer had prepared everything to attend the great agricultural provincial show. Unfortunately, a grandfather to whom they all seemed greatly attached died most inconveniently the day before, and as they seldom keep a body in Canada over the second day, he was buried early in the morning of the one appointed for their journey. They attended the remains to the grave, but after the funeral was over they put off their black garments and started for the show, and did not resume them again until after their return. People may think this very shocking, but it was not the laying aside the black that was so, but the fact of their being able to go from a grave to a scene of confusion and gaiety. The black clothes had nothing to do with this want of feeling, which would have remained the same under a black or a scarlet vestment.
A gentleman in this neighbourhood, since dead, who attended a public ball the same week that he had seen a lovely child consigned to the earth, would have remained the same heartless parent dressed in the deepest sables.
No instance that I have narrated of the business-like manner in which Canadians treat death, is more ridiculously striking than the following:—
The wife of a rich mechanic had a brother lying, it was supposed, at the point of death. His sister sent a note to me, requesting me to relinquish an engagement I had made with a sewing girl in her favour, as she wanted her immediately to make up her mourning, the doctor having told her that her brother could not live many days.
"Mrs. —- is going to be beforehand with death," I said, as I gave the girl the desired release. "I have known instances of persons being too late with their mourning to attend a funeral, but this is the first time I ever heard of it being made in anticipation."
After a week the girl returned to her former employment.
"Well, Anne, is Mr. —- dead?"
"No, ma'am, nor likely to die this time; and his sister is so vexed that she bought such expensive mourning, and all for no purpose!"
The brother of this provident lady is alive to this day, the husband of a very pretty wife, and the father of a family, while she, poor body, has been consigned to the grave for more than three years.
During her own dying illness, a little girl greatly disturbed her sick mother with the noise she made. Her husband, as an inducement to keep the child quiet, said, "Mary, if you do not quit that, I'll whip you; but if you keep still like a good girl, you shall go to ma's funeral."
An artist cousin of mine was invited, with many other members of the Royal Academy, to attend the funeral of the celebrated Nollekens the sculptor. The party filled twelve mourning coaches, and were furnished with silk gloves, scarfs, and hatbands, and a dinner was provided after the funeral was over at one of the large hotels. "A merrier set than we were on that day," said my cousin, "I never saw. We all got jovial, and it was midnight before any of us reached our respective homes. The whole affair vividly brought to my mind that description of the 'Gondola,' given so graphically by Byron, that it
'Contain'd much fun, Like mourning coaches when the funeral's done.'"
Some years ago I witnessed the funeral of a young lady, the only child of very wealthy parents, who resided in of Bedford-square. The heiress of their enviable riches was a very delicate, fragile-looking girl, and on the day that she attained her majority her parents gave a large dinner party, followed by a ball in the evening, to celebrate the event. It was during the winter; the night was very cold, the crowded rooms overheated, the young lady thinly but magnificently clad. She took a chill in leaving the close ballroom for the large, ill-warmed supper-room, and three days after, the hope of these rich people lay insensible on her bier.
I heard from every one that called upon Mrs. L—-, the relative and friend with whom I was staying, of the magnificent funeral would be given to Miss C—-. Ah, little heeded that pale crushed flower of yesterday, the pomp that was to convey her from the hot-bed of luxury to the cold, damp vault of St. Giles's melancholy looking church! I stood at Mrs. L—-'s window, which commanded a view of the whole square, to watch the procession pass up Russell-street to the place of interment. The morning was intensely cold, and large snow-flakes fell lazily and heavily to the earth. The poor dingy sparrows, with their feathers ruffled up, hopped mournfully along the pavement in search of food; they,
"In spite of all their feathers, were a-cold."
The mutes that attended the long line of mourning coaches stood motionless, leaning on their long staffs wreathed with white, like so many figures that the frost-king had stiffened into stone. The hearse, with its snowy plumes, drawn by six milk-white horses, might have served for the regal car of his northern majesty, so ghost-like and chilly were its sepulchral trappings. At length the coffin, covered with black velvet, and a pall lined with white silk and fringed with silver, was borne from the house and deposited in the gloomy depths of the stately hearse. The hired mourners, in their sable dresses and long white hatbands and scarfs, rode slowly forward mounted on white horses, to attend this bride of death to her last resting place. The first three carriages that followed contained the family physician and surgeon, a clergyman, and the male servants of the house, in deep sables. The family carriage too was there, but empty, and of a procession in which 145 private carriages made a conspicuous show, all but those enumerated above were empty. Strangers drove strange horses to that vast funeral, and hired servants were the only members of the family that conducted the last scion of that family to the grave. Truly, it was the most dismal spectacle we ever witnessed, and we turned from it sick at heart, and with eyes moist with tears not shed for the dead, for she had escaped from this vexatious vanity, but from the heartless mockery of all this fictitious woe.
The expense of such a funeral probably involved many hundred pounds, which had been better bestowed on charitable purposes.
Another evil arising out of this absurd custom, is the high price attached to black clothing, on account of the necessity that compels people to wear it for so long a period after the death of a near relation, making it a matter of still greater difficulty for the poorer class to comply with the usages of society.
"But who cares about the poor, whether they go into mourning for their friends or no? it is a matter of no consequence."
Ah, there it is. And this is not the least forcible argument we have to advance against this useless custom. If it becomes a moral duty for the rich to put on black for the death of a friend, it must be morally necessary for the poor to do the same. We see no difference in the degrees of moral feeling; the soul of man is of no rank, but of equal value in our eyes, whether belonging to rich or poor. But this usage is so general, and the neglect of it considered such a disgrace, that it leaves a very wide door open for the entrance of false pride.
Poverty is an evil which most persons, however humble their stations may be, most carefully endeavour to conceal. To avoid an exposure of their real circumstances, they will deprive themselves of the common necessaries of life, and incur debts which they have no prospect of paying, rather than allow their neighbours to suspect that they cannot afford a handsome funeral and good mournings for any deceased member of their family. If such persons would but follow the dictates of true wisdom, honesty, and truth, no dread of the opinion of others should tempt them to do what they cannot afford. Their grief for the dead would not be less sincere if they followed the body of the beloved in their ordinary costume to the grave; nor is the spectacle less imposing divested of all the solemn foppery which attends the funeral of persons who move in respectable society.
Some years ago, when it was the fashion in England (and may be it remains the fashion still) to give black silk scarfs and hatbands at funerals, mean and covetous persons threw themselves in the way of picking up these stray loaves and fishes. A lady, who lived in the same town with me after I was married, boasted to me that her husband (who always contrived to be a necessary attendant on such occasions) found her in all the black silk she required for articles of dress, and that he had not purchased a pair of gloves for many years.
About two years before old King George the Third died, a report got about that he could not survive many days. There was a general rush among all ranks to obtain mourning. Up went the price of black goods; Norwich crapes and bombazines rose ten per cent, and those who were able to secure a black garment at any price, to shew their loyalty, were deemed very fortunate. And after all this fuss, and hurry, and confusion, the poor mad old king disappointed the speculators in sables, and lived on in darkness and mental aberration for two whole years. The mourning of some on that occasion was real, not imaginary. The sorrow with them was not for the kings' death, but that he had not died. On these public occasions of grief, great is the stir and bustle in economical families, who wish to show a decent concern for the death of the monarch, but who do not exactly like to go to the expense of buying new clothes for such a short period as a court mourning. All the old family stores are rummaged carefully over, and every stuff gown, worn ribbon, or shabby shawl, that can take a black dye, is handed over to the vat; and these second-hand black garments have a more mournful appearance than the glossy suits of the gay and wealthy, for it is actually humiliating to wear such, as they are both unbecoming to the young and old. Black, which is the most becoming and convenient colour for general wear, especially to the old and middle-aged; would no longer be regarded with religious horror as the type of mortality and decay, but would take its place on the same shelf with the gay tints that form the motley groups in our handsome stores. Could influential people be found to expose the folly and vanity of this practice, and refuse to comply with its demands, others would soon be glad to follow their example, and, before many years, it would sink into contempt and disuse.
If the Americans, the most practical people in the world, would but once take up the subject and publicly lecture on its absurdity, this dismal shadow of a darker age would no longer obscure our streets and scare our little ones. Men would wear their grief in their hearts and not around their hats; and widows would be better known by their serious deportment than by their weeds. I feel certain that every thinking person, who calmly investigates the subject, will be tempted to exclaim with me, "Oh, that the good sense of mankind would unite in banishing it for ever from the earth!"
The Song Of Faith.
"House of clay!—frail house of clay! In the dust thou soon must lie; Spirit! spread thy wings—away, Strong in immortality; To worlds more bright Oh wing thy flight, To win the crown and robe of light.
"Hopes of dust!—false hopes of dust! Smiling as the morning fair; Why do we confiding trust In trifles light as air? Like flowers that wave Above the grave, Ye cheer, without the power to save.
"Joys of earth!—vain joys of earth! Sandy your foundations be; Mortals overrate your worth, Sought through life so eagerly. Too soon we know That tears must flow,— That bliss is still allied to woe!
"Human love!—fond human love! We have worshipp'd at thy shrine; Envying not the saints above, While we deem'd thy power divine. But ah, thy light, So wildly bright, Is born of earth to set in night.
"Love of heaven!—love of heaven! Let us pray for thine increase; Happiness by thee is given, Hopes and joys that never cease. With thee we'll soar Death's dark tide o'er, Where earth can stain the soul no more."
"Dear merry reader, did you ever hear, Whilst travelling on the world's wide beaten road, The curious reasoning, and opinions queer, Of men, who never in their lives bestow'd One hour on study; whose existence seems A thing of course—a practical delusion— A day of frowning clouds and sunny gleams— Of pain and pleasure, mix'd in strange confusion; Who feel they move and breathe, they know not why— Are born to eat and drink, and sleep and die." S.M.
The shores of the Prince Edward District become more bold and beautiful as the steamer pursues her course up the "Long Reach." Magnificent trees clothe these rugged banks to their very summits, and cast dense shadows upon the waters that slumber at their feet. The slanting rays of the evening sun stream through their thick foliage, and weave a network of gold around the corrugated trunks of the huge oak and maple trees that tower far above our heads. The glorious waters are dyed with a thousand changeful hues of crimson and saffron, and reflect from their unruffled surface the gorgeous tints of a Canadian sunset. The pines, with their hearse-like plumes, loom out darkly against the glowing evening sky, and frown austerely upon us, their gloomy aspect affording a striking contrast to the sun-lighted leaves of the feathery birch and the rock elm. It is a lonely hour, and one that nature seems to have set apart for prayer and praise; a devotional spirit seems to breathe over the earth, the woods, and waters, softening and harmonising the whole into one blessed picture of love and peace.
The boat has again crossed the bay, and stops to take in wood at "Roblin's wharf." We are now beneath the shadow of the "Indian woods," a reserve belonging to the Mohawks in the township of Tyendenaga, about twenty-four miles by water from Belleville. A broad belt of forest land forms the background to a cleared slope, rising gradually from the water until it reaches a considerable elevation above the shore. The frontage to the bay is filled up with neat farm houses, and patches of buck-wheat and Indian corn, the only grain that remains unharvested at this season of the year. We have a fine view of the stone church built by the Indians, which stands on the top of the hill about a mile from the water. Queen Anne presented to this tribe three large marble tablets engraved with the Ten Commandments, which, after following them in all their ramblings for a century and a half, now grace the altar of this church, and are regarded with great veneration by the Indian settlers, who seem to look upon them with a superstitious awe. The church is built in the gothic style, and is one of the most picturesque village churches that I have seen in Canada. The Indians contributed a great part of the funds for erecting this building. I was never within the walls of the sacred edifice; but I have wandered round the quiet peaceful burial-ground, and admired the lovely prospect it commands of the bay and the opposite shores.
One side of the churchyard is skirted by a natural grove of forest trees, which separates it from the parsonage, a neat white building that fronts the water, and stands back from it at the head of a noble sweep of land covered with velvet turf, and resembling greatly a gentleman's park at home, by the fine groups of stately forest trees scattered over it, and a semicircular belt of the original forest, that, sloping from the house on either side, extends its wings until it meets the blue waters of the bay, leaving between its green arms a broad space of cleared land.
The first time my eyes ever rested on this beautiful spot it appeared to me a perfect paradise. It was a warm, balmy, moonlight evening in June. The rich resinous odour of the woods filled the air with delicious perfume; fire-flies were glancing like shooting stars among the dark foliage that hung over the water, and the spirit of love and peace sat brooding over the luxurious solitude, whose very silence was eloquent with praise of the great Maker. How I envied the residents of the parsonage their lovely home! How disappointed I felt, when Mrs. G—- told me that she felt it dull and lonely, that she was out of society, and that the Indians were very troublesome neighbours! Now, I have no doubt that this was all very true, and that I should have felt the same want that she did, after the bewitching novelty of the scene had become familiar; but it sadly destroyed the romance and poetry of it to me at the time.
This part of the township of Tyendenaga belongs almost exclusively to the Mohawk Indians, who have made a large settlement here, while the government has given them a good school for instructing their children in the Indian and English languages; and they have a resident clergyman of the Establishment always at hand, to minister to them the spiritual consolations of religion, and impart to them the blessed truths of the gospel. The Rev. S. G—- was for some years the occupant of the pretty parsonage-house, and was greatly beloved by his Indian congregation.
The native residents of these woods clear farms, and build and plant like their white neighbours. They rear horses, cattle, and sheep, and sow a sufficient quantity of grain to secure them from want. But there is a great lack of order and regularity in all their agricultural proceedings. They do not make half as much out of their lands—which they suffer to be overgrown with thorns and thistles—as their white neighbours; and their domestic arrangements within doors are never marked by that appearance of comfort and cleanliness, which is to be seen in the dwellings of the native Canadians and emigrants from Europe.
The red man is out of his element when he settles quietly down to a farm, and you perceive it at a glance. He never appears to advantage as a resident among civilized men; and he seems painfully conscious of his inferiority, and ignorance of the arts of life. He has lost his identity, as it were, and when he attempts to imitate ihe customs and manners of the whites, he is too apt to adopt their vices without acquiring their industry and perseverance, and sinks into a sottish, degraded savage. The proud independence we admired so much in the man of the woods, has disappeared with his truthfulness, honesty, and simple manners. His pure blood is tainted with the dregs of a lower humanity, degenerated by the want and misery of over-populous European cities. His light eyes, crisp hair, and whitey-brown complexion, too surely betray his mixed origin; and we turn from the half educated, half-caste Indian, with feelings of aversion and mistrust.
There is a Mohawk family who reside in this township of the name of Loft, who have gained some celebrity in the colony by their clever representations of the manners and customs of their tribe. They sing Indian songs, dance the war-dance, hold councils, and make grave speeches, in the characters of Indian chiefs and hunters, in an artistic manner that would gain the applause of a more fastidious audience.
The two young squaws, who were the principal performers in this travelling Indian opera, were the most beautiful Indian women I ever beheld. There was no base alloy in their pure native blood. They had the large, dark, humid eyes, the ebon locks tinged with purple, so peculiar to their race, and which gives such a rich tint to the clear olive skin and brilliant white teeth of the denizens of the Canadian wilderness.
Susannah Loft and her sister were the beau ideal of Indian women; and their graceful and symmetrical figures were set off to great advantage by their picturesque and becoming costume, which in their case was composed of the richest materials. Their acting and carriage were dignified and queen-like, and their appearance singularly pleasing and interesting.
Susannah, the eldest and certainly the most graceful of these truly fascinating girls, was unfortunately killed last summer by the collision of two steam-carriages, while travelling professionally with her sister through the States. Those who had listened with charmed ears to her sweet voice, and gazed with admiring eyes upon her personal charms, were greatly shocked at her untimely death.
A little boy and girl belonging to the same talented family have been brought before the public, in order to supply her place, but they have not been able to fill up the blank occasioned by her loss.
The steamboat again leaves the north shore, and stands across from the stone mills, which are in the Prince Edward district, and form one of the features of the remarkable scenery of what is called the "high shore." This mountainous ridge, which descends perpendicularly to the water's edge, is still in forest; and, without doubt, this is the most romantic portion of the bay, whose waters are suddenly contracted to half their former dimensions, and glide on darkly and silently between these steep wood-crowned heights.
There is a small lake upon the highest portion of this table-land, whose waters are led down the steep bank, and made to work a saw-mill, which is certainly giving a very unromantic turn to them. But here, as in the States, the beautiful and the ideal are instantly converted into the real and the practical.
This "lake of the mountains" is a favourite place for picnics and pleasure trips from Northport and Belleville. Here the Sabbath-school children come, once during the summer, to enjoy a ramble in the woods, and spread their feast beneath the lordly oaks and maples that crown these heights. And the teetotallers marshall their bands of converts, and hold their cold water festival, beside the blue deep waters of this mysterious mountain-lake.
Strange stories are told of its unfathomable depth; of the quicksands that are found near it, and of its being supplied from the far-off inland ocean of Lake Huron. But like the cove in Tyendenaga, of which everybody in the neighbourhood has heard something, but which nobody has seen, these accounts of the lake of the mountain rest only upon hearsay.
The last rays of the sun still lingered on wood and stream when we arrived at Picton, which stands at the head of the "long reach." The bay here is not wider than a broad river. The banks are very lofty, and enclose the water in an oblong form, round which that part of the town which is near the shore is built.
Picton is a very beautiful place viewed from the deck of the steamer. Its situation is novel and imposing, and the number of pretty cottages that crown the steep ridge that rises almost perpendicularly from the water, peeping out from among fine orchards in full bearing, and trim gardens, give it quite a rural appearance. The steamboat enters this fairy bay by a very narrow passage; and, after delivering freight and passengers at the wharf, backs out by the way she came in. There is no turning a large vessel round this long half-circle of deep blue water. Few spots in Canada would afford a finer subject for the artist's pencil than this small inland town, which is so seldom visited by strangers and tourists.
The progress to wealth and importance made by this place is strikingly behind that of Belleville, which far exceeds it in size and population. Three years ago a very destructive fire consumed some of the principal buildings in the town, which has not yet recovered from its effects. Trade is not so brisk here as in Belleville, and the streets are dull and monotonous, when compared with the stir and bustle of the latter, which, during the winter season, is crowded with sleighs from the country. The Bay of Quinte during the winter forms an excellent road to all the villages and towns on its shores. The people from the opposite side trade more with the Belleville merchants than with those in their own district; and during the winter season, when the bay is completely frozen from the mouth of the Trent to Kingston, loaded teams are passing to and fro continually. It is the favourite afternoon drive of young and old, and when the wind, sweeping over such a broad surface of ice, is not too cold, and you are well wrapped up in furs and buffalo robes, a sleigh ride on the ice is very delightful. Not that I can ever wholly divest myself of a vague, indistinct sense of danger, whilst rapidly gliding over this frozen mirror. I would rather be out on the bay, in a gale of wind in a small boat, than overtaken by a snow storm on its frozen highways. Still it is a pleasant sight of a bright, glowing, winter day, when the landscape glitters like a world composed of crystals, to watch the handsome sleighs, filled with well-dressed men and women, and drawn by spirited horses, dashing in all directions over this brilliant field of dazzling white.
Night has fallen rapidly upon us since we left Picton in the distance. A darker shade is upon the woods, the hills, the waters, and by the time we approach Fredericksburg it will be dark. This too is a very pretty place on the north side of the bay; beautiful orchards and meadows skirt the water, and fine bass-wood and willow-trees grow beside, or bend over the waves. The green smooth meadows, out of which the black stumps rotted long ago, show noble groups of hiccory and butter-nut, and sleek fat cows are reposing beneath them, or standing mid-leg in the small creek that wanders through them to pour its fairy tribute into the broad bay.
We must leave the deck and retreat into the ladies' cabin, for the air from the water grows chilly, and the sense of seeing can no longer be gratified by remaining where we are. But if you open your eyes to see, and your ears to hear, all the strange sayings and doings of the odd people you meet in a steamboat, you will never lack amusement.
The last time I went down to Kingston, there was a little girl in the cabin who rejoiced in the possession of a very large American doll, made so nearly to resemble an infant, that at a distance it was easy to mistake it for one. To render the deception more striking, you could make it cry like a child by pressing your hand upon its body. A thin, long-laced farmer's wife came on board, at the wharf we have just quitted, and it was amusing to watch her alternately gazing at the little girl and her doll.
"Is that your baby, Cissy?"
"No; it's my doll."
"Mi! what a strange doll! Isn't that something oncommon? I took it for a real child. Look at its bare feet and hands, and bald head. Well, I don't think it's 'zactly right to make a piece of wood look so like a human critter."
The child good-naturedly put the doll into the woman's hands, who, happening to take it rather roughly, the wooden baby gave a loud squall; the woman's face expressed the utmost horror, and she dropped it on the floor as if it had been a hot coal.
"Gracious, goodness me, the thing's alive!"
The little girl laughed heartily, and, taking up the discarded doll, explained to the woman the simple method employed to produce the sound.
"Well, it do sound quite nataral," said her astonished companion. "What will they find out next? It beats the railroad and the telegraph holler."
"Ah, but I saw a big doll that could speak when I was with mamma in New York," said the child, with glistening eyes.
"A doll that could speak? You don't say. Oh, do tell!"
While the young lady described the automaton doll, it was amusing to watch the expressions of surprise, wonder, and curiosity, that flitted over the woman's brig cadaverous face. She would have made a good study for a painter.
A young relative of mine went down in the steamboat, to be present at the Provincial Agricultural Show that was held that year in the town of Buckville, on the St. Lawrence. It was the latter end of September; the weather was wet and stormy, and the boat loaded to the water's edge with cattle and passengers. The promenade decks were filled up with pigs, sheep and oxen. Cows were looking sleepily in at the open doors of the ladies' cabin, and bulls were fastened on the upper deck. Such a motley group of bipeds and quadrupeds were never before huddled into such a narrow space; and, amidst all this din and confusion, a Scotch piper was playing lustily on the bagpipes, greatly to the edification, I've no doubt, of himself and the crowd of animal life around him.
The night came on very dark and stormy, and many of the women suffered as much from the pitching of the boat as if they had been at sea. The ladies' cabin was crowded to overflowing; every sofa, bed, and chair was occupied; and my young friend, who did not feel any inconvenience from the storm, was greatly entertained by the dialogues carried on across the cabin by the women, who were reposing in their berths, and lamenting over the rough weather and their own sufferings in consequence. They were mostly the wives of farmers and respectable mechanics, and the language they used was neither very choice nor grammatical.
"I say, Mrs. C—-, how be you?"
"I feel bad, any how," with a smothered groan.
"Have you been sick?"
"Not yet; but feel as if I was going to."
"How's your head coming on, Mrs. N—-?"
"It's just splitting, I thank you."
"Oh, how awful the boat do pitch!" cries a third.
"If she should sink, I'm afeard we shall all go to the bottom."
"And think of all the poor sheep and cattle!"
"Well, of course, they'd have to go too."
"Oh, mi! I'll get up, and be ready for a start, in case of the worst," cried a young girl.
"Mrs. C—-, do give me something good out of your basket, to keep up my spirits."
"Well, I will. Come over here, and you and I will have some talk. My basket's at the foot of my berth. You'll find in it a small bottle of brandy and some crulls."
So up got several of the sick ladies, and kept up their spirits by eating cakes, chewing gum, and drinking cold brandy punch.
"Did Mrs. H—- lose much in the fire last night?" said one.
"Oh, dear, yes; she lost all her clothes, and three large jars of preserves she made about a week ago, and sarce in accordance!" [A common Yankee phrase, often used instead of the word proportion.]
There was an honest Yorkshire farmer and his wife on board, and when the morning at length broke through pouring rain and driving mist, and the port to which they were bound loomed through the haze, the women were very anxious to know if their husbands, who slept in the gentlemen's cabin, were awake."
"They arn't stirring yet," said Mrs. G—-, "for I hear Isaac (meaning her husband) breezing below"—a most expressive term for very hard snoring.
The same Isaac, when he came up to the ladies' cabin to take his wife on shore, complained, in his broad Yorkshire dialect, that he had been kept awake all night by a jovial gentleman who had been his fellow-traveller in the cabin.
"We had terrible noisy chap in t'cabin. They called him Mr. D—-, and said he 'twas t'mayor of Belleville; but I thought they were a-fooning. He wouldn't sleep himself, nor let t'others sleep. He gat piper, an' put him top o' table, and kept him playing all t'night."
One would think that friend Isaac had been haunted by the vision of the piper in his dreams; for, certes, the jovial buzzing of the pipes had not been able to drown the deep drone of his own nasal organ.
A gentleman who was travelling in company with Sir A—- told me an anecdote of him, and how he treated an impertinent fellow on board one of the lake boats, that greatly amused me.
The state cabins in these large steamers open into the great saloon; and as they are often occupied by married people, each berth contains two beds, one placed above the other. Now it often happens, when the boat is greatly crowded, that two passengers of the same sex are forced to occupy the same sleeping room. This was Sir A—-'s case, and he was obliged, though very reluctantly, to share his sleeping apartment with a well-dressed American, but evidently a man of low standing, from the familiarity of his manners and the bad grammar he used.
In the morning, it was necessary for one gentleman to rise before the other, as the space in front of their berths was too narrow to allow of more than one performing his ablutions at a time.
Our Yankee made a fair start, and had nearly completed his toilet, when he suddenly spied a tooth-brush and a box of tooth-powder in the dressing-case his companion had left open on the washstand. Upon these he pounced, and having made a liberal use of them, flung them back into the case, and sat down upon the only chair the room contained, in order to gratify his curiosity by watching how his sleeping partner went through the same process.
Sir A—-, greatly annoyed by the fellow's assurance, got out of bed; and placing the washhand basin on the floor, put his feet into the water, and commenced scrubbing his toe-nails with the desecrated tooth-brush. Jonathan watched his movements for a few seconds in silent horror; at length, unable to contain himself, he exclaimed.
"Well, stranger! that's the dirtiest use I ever see a toothbrush put to, any how."
"I saw it put to a dirtier, just now," said Sir A—- very coolly. "I always use that brush for cleaning my toes."
The Yankee turned very green, and fled to the deck, but his nausea was not sea-sickness.
The village of Nappanee, on the north side of the Bay, is situated on a very pretty river that bears the same name,—Nappanee, in the Mohawk language, signifying flour. The village is a mile back from the bay, and is not much seen from the water. There are a great many mills here, both grist and saw mills, from which circumstance it most likely derives its name.
Amherst Island, which is some miles in extent, stands between Ontario and the Bay of Quinte, its upper and lower extremity forming the two straits that are called the Upper and Lower Gap, and the least breeze, which is not perceptible in the other portions of the bay, is felt here. Passing through these gaps on a stormy day creates as great a nausea as a short chopping sea on the Atlantic, and I have seen both men and women retreat to their berths to avoid disagreeable consequences. Amherst Island is several miles in extent, and there are many good farms in high cultivation upon it, while its proximity on all sides to the water affords excellent sport to the angler and gunner, as wild ducks abound in this vicinity.
Just after you pass the island and enter the lower gap, there are three very small islands in a direct line with each other, that are known as the three brothers. A hermit has taken up his abode on the centre one, and built a very Robinson Crusoe looking hut near the water, composed of round logs and large stones cemented together with clay. He gets his living by fishing and fowling, and you see his well-worn, weather-beaten boat, drawn up in a little cove near his odd dwelling. I was very curious to obtain some particulars of the private history of this eccentric individual, but beyond what I have just related, my informants could tell me nothing, or why he had chosen this solitary abode in such an exposed situation, and so far apart from all the comforts of social life.
The town of Bath is the last place of any note on this portion of the Bay, until you arrive at Kingston.
A Morning Song.
"The young wheat is springing All tender and green, And the blackbird is singing The branches between; The leaves of the hawthorn Have burst from their prison, And the bright eyes of morn On the earth have arisen.
"While sluggards are sleeping, Oh hasten with me; While the night mists are weeping Soft showers on each tree, And nature is glowing Beneath the warm beam, The young day is throwing O'er mountain and stream.
"And the shy colt is bounding Across the wide mead, And his wild hoofs resounding, Increases his speed; Now starting and crossing At each shadow he sees, Now wantonly tossing His mane in the breeze.
"The sky-lark is shaking The dew from her wing, And the clover forsaking, Soars upwards to sing, In rapture outpouring Her anthem of love, Where angels adoring Waft praises above.
"Shake dull sleep from your pillow, Young dreamer arise, On the leaves of the willow The dew-drop still lies, And the mavis is trilling His song from the brake, And with melody filling The wild woods—awake!"
"I dare not think—I cannot pray; To name the name of God were sin: No grief of mine can wash away The consciousness of guilt within. The stain of blood is on my hand, The curse of Cain is on my brow;— I see that ghastly phantom stand Between me and the sunshine now! That mocking face still haunts my dreams, That blood-shot eye that never sleeps, In night and darkness—oh, it gleams, Like red-hot steel—but never weeps! And still it bends its burning gaze On mine, till drops of terror start From my hot brow, and hell's fierce blaze Is kindled in my brain and heart. I long for death, yet dare not die, Though life is now a weary curse; But oh, that dread eternity May bring a punishment far worse!"
So much has been written about the city of Kingston, so lately the seat of government, and so remarkable for its fortifications, and the importance it ever must be to the colony as a military depot and place of defence, that it is not my intention to enter into a minute description of it here. I was greatly pleased, as I think every stranger must be, with its general aspect, particularly as seen from the water, in which respect it has a great advantage over Toronto. The number of vessels lying at the different wharfs, and the constant arrival of noble steamers both from the United States and the Upper and Lower Province, give it a very business-like appearance. Yet, upon landing, you are struck with the want of stir and bustle in the principal thoroughfares, when contrasted with the size and magnitude of the streets.
The removal of the seat of government has checked the growth of Kingston for a while; but you feel, while examining its commanding position, that it must always be the key of the Upper Province, the great rallying point in case of war or danger. The market house is a very fine building, and the wants of the city could be supplied within its area, were it three times the size that it is at present. The market is decidedly one of the chief attractions of the place.
The streets are wide and well paved, and there are a great many fine trees in and about Kingston, which give to it the appearance of a European town. The houses are chiefly of brick and stone along the public thoroughfares, and there are many neat private dwellings inclosed in trim well-kept gardens. The road leading to the Provincial Penitentiary runs parallel with the water, and forms a delightful drive.
It is about three years ago that I paid a visit with my husband to the Penitentiary, and went over every part of it. I must own that I felt a greater curiosity to see the convicts than the prison which contained them, and my wishes were completely gratified, as my husband was detained for several hours on business, and I had a long interval of leisure to examine the workshops, where the convicts were employed at their different trades, their sleeping cells, chapel, and places of punishment. The silence system is maintained here, no conversation being allowed between the prisoners. I was surprised at the neatness, cleanliness, order, and regularity of all the arrangements in the vast building, and still more astonished that forty or fifty strong active looking men, unfettered, with the free use of their limbs, could be controlled by one person, who sat on a tall chair as overseer of each ward. In several instances, particularly in the tailoring and shoemaking department, the overseers were small delicate-looking men; but such is the force of habit, and the want of moral courage which generally accompanies guilt, that a word or a look from these men was sufficient to keep them at work.
The dress of the male convicts was warm and comfortable, though certainly not very elegant, consisting (for it was late in the fall) of a thick woollen jacket, one side of it being brown, the other yellow, with trowsers to correspond, a shirt of coarse factory cotton, but very clean, and good stout shoes, and warm knitted woollen socks. The letters P.P. for "Provincial Penitentiary," are sewed in coloured cloth upon the dark side of the jacket. Their hair is cut very short to the head, and they wear a cloth cap of the same colours that compose their dress.
The cells are narrow, just wide enough to contain a small bed, a stool, and a wash-bowl, and the prisoners are divided from each other by thick stone walls. They are locked in every night at six o'clock, and their cell is so constructed, that one of the keepers can always look in upon the convict without his being aware of the scrutiny. The bedding was scrupulously clean, and I saw a plain Bible in each cell.
There is a sort of machine resembling a stone coffin, in which mutinous convicts are confined for a given time. They stand in an upright position; and as there are air holes for breathing, the look and name of the thing is more dreadful than the punishment, which cannot be the least painful. I asked the gentleman who showed us over the building, what country sent the most prisoners to the Penitentiary? He smiled, and told me "guess." I did so, but was wrong.
"No," said he; "we have more French Canadians and men of colour. Then Irish, English, and run-a-way loafers from the States. Of the Scotch we have very few; but they are very bad—the most ungovernable, sullen, and disobedient. When a Scotchman is bad enough to be brought here, he is like Jeremiah's bad figs—only fit for the gallows."
Mr. Moodie's bailiffs had taken down a young fellow, about twenty years of age, who had been convicted at the assizes for stealing curious coins from a person who had brought them out to this country as old family relics. The evidence was more circumstantial than positive, and many persons believed the lad innocent.
He had kept up his spirits bravely on the voyage, and was treated with great kindness by the men who had him in custody; but when once within the massy walls of the huge building, his courage seemed to forsake him all at once. We passed him as he sat on the bench, while the barber was cutting his hair and shaving off his whiskers. His handsome suit had been removed—he was in the party-coloured dress before described. There was in his face an expression of great anguish, and tears were rolling in quick succession down his cheeks. Poor fellow! I should hardly have known him again, so completely was he humbled by his present position.
Mr. M—-y told me that they had some men in the Penitentiary who had returned three different times to it, and had grown so attached to their prison that they preferred being there, well clothed and well fed, to gaining a precarious living elsewhere.
Executions in Canada are so rare, even for murder, that many atrocious criminals are found within these walls—men and women—who could not possibly have escaped the gallows in England.
At twelve o'clock I followed Mr. M—- to the great hall, to see the prisoners dine. The meal consisted of excellent soups, with a portion of the meat which had been boiled in it, potatoes, and brown bread, all very clean and good of their kind. I took a plate of the soup and a piece of the bread, and enjoyed both greatly.
I could not help thinking, while watching these men in their comfortable dresses, taking their wholesome, well-cooked meal, how much better they were fed and lodged than thousands of honest industrious men, who had to maintain large families upon a crust of bread, in the great manufacturing cities at home.
Most of these men had very bad countenances, and I never felt so much convinced of the truth of phrenology as while looking at their heads. The extraordinary formation, or rather mal-formation, of some of them, led me to think that their possessors were hardly accountable for their actions. One man in particular, who had committed a very atrocious murder, and was confined for life, had a most singular head, such as one, indeed, as I never before saw on a human body. It was immensely large at the base, and appeared perfectly round, while at the crown it rose to a point like a sugar-loaf. He was of a dull, drab-coloured complexion, with large prominent eyes of a pale green colour; his expression, the most repulsively cruel and sinister. The eye involuntarily singled him out among all his comrades, as something too terrible to escape observation.
Among such a number of men, 448, who were there present, I was surprised at seeing so few with red or fair hair. I noticed this to my companion. He had never observed it before, but said it was strange. The convicts were mostly of a dull grey complexion, large eyed, stolid looking men, or with very black hair, and heavy black brows.
I could only account for this circumstance from the fact, that though fair-haired people are often violently passionate and easily excited, their anger is sudden and quick, never premeditated, but generally the work of the moment. Like straw on a fire, it kindles into a fierce blaze, but it is over in an instant. They seldom retain it, or bear malice. Not so the dull, putty-coloured, sluggish man. He is slow to act, but he broods over a supposed affront or injury, and never forgets it. He plans the moment of retaliation, and stabs his enemy when least prepared. There were many stolid, heavy-looking men in that prison—many with black, jealous, fiery-looking eyes, in whose gloomy depths suspicion and revenge seemed to lurk. Even to look at these men as they passed on, seemed to arouse their vindictive feelings, and they scowled disdainfully upon us as they walked on to their respective places.
There was one man among these dark, fierce-looking criminals, who, from his proud carriage and bearing, particularly arrested my attention. I pointed him out to Mr. —-. "That man has the appearance of an educated person. He looks as if he had been a gentleman."
"You are right," was his reply. "He was a gentleman, the son of a district judge, and brought up to the law. A clever man too; but these walls do not contain a worse in every respect. He was put in here for arson, and an attempt to murder. Many a poor man has been hung with half his guilt."
"There are two men near him," I said, "who have not the appearance of criminals at all. What have they done?"
"They are not felons, but two soldiers put in here for a week for disorderly conduct."
"What a shame," I cried, "to degrade them in this manner! What good can it do?"
"Oh," said he, laughing; "it will make them desert to the States the moment they get out."
"And those two little boys; what are they here for?"
"For murder!" whispered he.
I almost sprang from my seat; it appeared too dreadful to be true.
"Yes," he continued. "That child to the right is in for shooting his sister. The other, to the left, for killing a boy of his own age with a hoe, and burying him under the roots of a fallen tree. Both of these boys come from the neighbourhood of Peterboro'. Your district, by the bye, sends fewer convicts to the Penitentiary than any part of the Upper Province."
It was with great pleasure I heard him say this. During a residence of thirteen years at Belleville, there has not been one execution. The county of Hastings is still unstained with the blood of a criminal. There is so little robbery committed in this part of the country, that the thought of thieves or housebreakers never for a moment disturbs our rest. This is not the case in Hamilton and Toronto, where daring acts of housebreaking are of frequent occurrence.
The constant influx of runaway slaves from the States has added greatly to the criminal lists on the frontier. The addition of these people to our population is not much to be coveted. The slave, from his previous habits and education, does not always make a good citizen. During the last assizes at Cobourg, a black man and his wife were condemned to be hung for a most horrible murder, and their son, a young man of twenty years of age, offered the sheriff to hang his own father and mother for a new suit of clothes. Those who laud the black man, and place him above the white, let them produce in the whole annals of human crime a more atrocious one than this! Yet it was not a hanging matter.
I heard a gentleman exclaim with honest indignation, when this anecdote was told in his hearing—"If a man were wanting to hang that monster, I would do it myself."
But leaving the male convicts, I must now introduce my reader to the female inmates of this house of woe and crime. At the time of my visit, there were only forty women in the Penitentiary. This speaks much for the superior moral training of the feebler sex. My chief object in visiting their department was to look at the celebrated murderess, Grace Marks, of whom I had heard a great deal, not only from the public papers, but from the gentleman who defended her upon her trial, and whose able pleading saved her from the gallows, on which her wretched accomplice closed his guilty career.
As many of my English readers may never have heard even the name of this remarkable criminal, it may not be uninteresting to them to give a brief sketch of the events which placed her here.
About eight or nine years ago—I write from memory, and am not very certain as to dates—a young Irish emigrant girl was hired into the service of Captain Kinnaird, an officer on half-pay, who had purchased a farm about thirty miles in the rear of Toronto; but the name of the township, and the county in which it was situated, I have forgotten; but this is of little consequence to my narrative. Both circumstances could be easily ascertained by the curious. The captain had been living for some time on very intimate terms with his housekeeper, a handsome young woman of the name of Hannah Montgomery, who had been his servant of all work. Her familiarity with her master, who, it appears, was a very fine looking, gentlemanly person, had rendered her very impatient of her former menial employments, and she soon became virtually the mistress of the house. Grace Marks was hired to wait upon her, and perform all the coarse drudgery that Hannah considered herself too fine a lady to do.
While Hannah occupied the parlour with her master, and sat at his table, her insolent airs of superiority aroused the jealousy and envy of Grace Marks, and the man-servant, MacDermot; who considered themselves quite superior to their self-elected mistress. MacDermot was the son of respectable parents; but from being a wild, ungovernable boy, he became a bad, vicious man, and early abandoned the parental roof to enlist for a soldier. He was soon tired of his new profession, and, deserting from his regiment, escaped detection, and emigrated to Canada. Having no means of his own, he was glad to engage with Captain Kinnaird as his servant, to whom his character and previous habits were unknown.
These circumstances, together with what follows, were drawn from his confession, made to Mr. Mac—ie, who had conducted his defence, the night previous to his execution. Perhaps it will be better to make him the narrator of his own story.
"Grace Marks was hired by Captain Kinnaird to wait upon his housekeeper, a few days after I entered his service. She was a pretty girl, and very smart about her work, but of a silent, sullen temper. It was very difficult to know when she was pleased. Her age did not exceed seventeen years. After the work of the day was over, she and I generally were left to ourselves in the kitchen, Hannah being entirely taken up with her master. Grace was very jealous of the difference made between her and the house-keeper, whom she hated, and to whom she was often very insolent and saucy. Her whole conversation to me was on this subject. 'What is she better than us?' she would say, 'that she is to be treated like a lady, and eat and drink of the best. She is not better born than we are, or better educated. I will not stay here to be domineered over by her. Either she or I must soon leave this.' Every little complaint Hannah made of me, was repeated to me with cruel exaggerations, till my dander was up, and I began to regard the unfortunate woman as our common enemy. The good looks of Grace had interested me in her cause; and though there was something about the girl that I could not exactly like, I had been a very lawless, dissipated fellow, and if a woman was young and pretty, I cared very little about her character. Grace was sullen and proud, and not very easily won over to my purpose; but in order to win her liking, if possible, I gave a ready ear to all her discontented repinings.
"One day Captain Kinnaird went to Toronto, to draw his half-year's pay, and left word with Hannah that he would be back by noon the next day. She had made some complaint against us to him, and he had promised to pay us off on his return. This had come to the ears of Grace, and her hatred to the housekeeper was increased to a tenfold degree. I take heaven to witness, that I had no designs against the life of the unfortunate woman when my master left the house.
"Hannah went out in the afternoon, to visit some friends she had in the neighbourhood, and left Grace and I alone together. This was an opportunity too good to be lost, and, instead of minding our work, we got recapitulating our fancied wrongs over some of the captain's whisky. I urged my suit to Grace; but she would not think of anything, or listen to anything, but the insults and injuries she had received from Hannah, and her burning thirst for revenge. 'Dear me,' said I, half in jest, 'if you hate her so much as all that, say but the word, and I will soon rid you of her for ever.'
"I had not the least idea that she would take me at my word. Her eyes flashed with a horrible light. 'You dare not do it!' she replied, with a scornful toss of her head.
"'Dare not do what?'
"'Kill that woman for me!' she whispered.
"'You don't know what I dare, or what I dar'n't do!' said I, drawing a little back from her. 'If you will promise to run off with me afterwards, I will see what I can do with her.'
"'I'll do anything you like; but you must first kill her.'
"'You are not in earnest, Grace?'
"'I mean what I say!'
"'How shall we be able to accomplish it? She is away now, and she may not return before her master comes back.'
"'Never doubt her. She will be back to see after the house, and that we are in no mischief.'
"'She sleeps with you?'
"'Not always. She will to-night.'
"'I will wait till you are asleep, and then I will kill her with a blow of the axe on the head. It will be over in a minute. Which side of the bed does she lie on?'
"'She always sleeps on the side nearest the wall and she bolts the door the last thing before she puts out the light. But I will manage both these difficulties for you. I will pretend to have the toothache very bad, and will ask to sleep next the wall to-night. She is kind to the sick, and will not refuse me; and after she is asleep, I will steal out at the foot of the bed, and unbolt the door. If you are true to your promise, you need not fear that I shall neglect mine.'
"I looked at her with astonishment. 'Good God!' thought I, 'can this be a woman? A pretty, soft-looking woman too—and a mere girl! What a heart she must have!' I felt equally tempted to tell her she was a devil, and that I would have nothing to do with such a horrible piece of business; but she looked so handsome, that somehow or another I yielded to the temptation, though it was not without a struggle; for conscience loudly warned me not to injure one who had never injured me.
"Hannah came home to supper, and she was unusually agreeable, and took her tea with us in the kitchen, and laughed and chatted as merrily as possible. And Grace, in order to hide the wicked thoughts working in her mind, was very pleasant too, and they went laughing to bed, as if they were the best friends in the world.
"I sat by the kitchen fire after they were gone, with the axe between my knees, trying to harden my heart to commit the murder; but for a long time I could not bring myself to do it. I thought over all my past life. I had been a bad, disobedient son—a dishonest, wicked man; but I had never shed blood. I had often felt sorry for the error of my ways, and had even vowed amendment, and prayed God to forgive me, and make a better man of me for the time to come. And now, here I was, at the instigation of a young girl, contemplating the death of a fellow-creature, with whom I had been laughing and talking on apparently friendly terms a few minutes ago. Oh, it was dreadful, too dreadful to be true! and then I prayed God to remove the temptation from me, and to convince me of my sin. 'Ah, but,' whispered the devil, 'Grace Marks will laugh at you. She will twit you with your want of resolution, and say that she is the better man of the two.'
"I sprang up, and hastened at their door, which opened into the kitchen. All was still. I tried the door;—for the damnation of my soul, it was open. I had no need of a candle, the moon was at full; there was no curtain to their window, and it shone directly upon the bed, and I could see their features as plainly as by the light of day. Grace was either sleeping, or pretending to sleep—I think the latter, for there was a sort of fiendish smile upon her lips. The housekeeper had yielded to her request, and was lying with her head out over the bed-clothes, in the best possible manner for receiving a death-blow upon her temples. She had a sad, troubled look upon her handsome face; and once she moved her hand, and said 'Oh dear!' I wondered whether she was dreaming of any danger to herself and the man she loved. I raised the axe to give the death-blow, but my arm seemed held back by an invisible hand. It was the hand of God. I turned away from the bed, and left the room; I could not do it. I sat down by the embers of the fire, and cursed my own folly. I made a second attempt—a third—and fourth; yes, even to a ninth—and my purpose was each time defeated. God seemed to fight for the poor creature; and the last time I left the room I swore, with a great oath, that if she did not die till I killed her, she might live on till the day of judgment. I threw the axe on to the wood heap in the shed, and went to bed, and soon fell fast asleep.
"In the morning, I was coming into the kitchen to light the fire, and met Grace Marks with the pails in her hand, going out to milk the cows. As she passed me, she gave me a poke with the pail in the ribs, and whispered with a sneer, 'Arn't you a coward!'
"As she uttered those words, the devil, against whom I had fought all night, entered into my heart, and transformed me into a demon. All feelings of remorse and mercy forsook me from that instant, and darker and deeper plans of murder and theft flashed through my brain. 'Go and milk the cows,' said I with a bitter laugh, 'and you shall soon see whether I am the coward you take me for.' She went out to milk, and I went in to murder the unsuspicious housekeeper.
"I found her at the sink in the kitchen, washing her face in a tin basin. I had the fatal axe in my hand, and without pausing for an instant to change my mind—for had I stopped to think, she would have been living to this day I struck her a heavy blow on the back of the head with my axe. She fell to the ground at my feet without uttering a word; and, opening the trap-door that led from the kitchen into a cellar where we kept potatoes and other stores, I hurled her down, closed the door, and wiped away the perspiration that was streaming down my face. I then looked at the axe and laughed. 'Yes; I have tasted blood now, and this murder will not be the last. Grace Marks, you have raised the devil—take care of yourself now!'
"She came in with her pails, looking as innocent and demure as the milk they contained. She turned pale when her eye met mine. I have no doubt but that I Iooked the fiend her taunt had made me.
"'Where's Hannah?' she asked, in a faint voice.
"'Dead,' said I. 'What! are you turned coward now?'
"'Macdermot, you look dreadful. I am afraid of you, not of her.'
"'Aha, my girl! you should have thought of that before. The hound that laps blood once will lap again. You have taught me how to kill, and I don't care who, or how many I kill now. When Kinnaird comes home I will put a ball through his brain, and send him to keep company below with the housekeeper.'
"She put down the pails,—she sprang towards me, and, clinging to my arm, exclaimed in frantic tones—
"'You won't kill him?'
"'By —-, I will! why should he escape more than Hannah? And hark you, girl, if you dare to breathe a word to any one of my intention, or tell to any one, by word or sign, what I have done, I'll kill you!'
"She trembled like a leaf. Yes, that young demon trembled. 'Don't kill me,' she whined, 'don't kill me, Macdermot! I swear that I will not betray you; and oh, don't kill him!'
"'And why the devil do you want me to spare him?'
"'He is so handsome!'
"'Especially to you. Come, Grace; no nonsense. If I had thought that you were jealous of your master and Hannah, I would have been the last man on earth to have killed her. You belong to me now; and though I believe that the devil has given me a bad bargain in you, yet, such as you are, I will stand by you. And now, strike a light and follow me into the cellar. You must help me to put Hannah out of sight.'
"She never shed a tear, but she looked dogged and sullen, and did as I bid her.
"That cellar presented a dreadful spectacle. I can hardly bear to recall it now; but then, when my hands were still red with her blood, it was doubly terrible. Hannah Montgomery was not dead, as I had thought; the blow had only stunned her. She had partially recovered her senses, and was kneeling on one knee as we descended the ladder with the light. I don't know if she heard us, for she must have been blinded with the blood that was flowing down her face; but she certainly heard us, and raised her clasped hands, as if to implore mercy.
"I turned to Grace. The expression of her livid face was even more dreadful than that of the unfortunate woman. She uttered no cry, but she put her hand to her head, and said,—
"'God has damned me for this.'
"'Then you have nothing more to fear,' says I. 'Give me that handkerchief off your neck.' She gave it without a word. I threw myself upon the body of the housekeeper,—and planting my knee on her breast, I tied the handkerchief round her throat in a single tie, giving Grace one end to hold, while I drew the other tight enough to finish my terrible work. Her eyes literally started from her head, she gave one groan, and all was over. I then cut the body in four pieces, and turned a large washtub over them.
"'Now, Grace, you may come up and get my breakfast.'
"Yes, Mr. M—-. You will not perhaps believe me, yet I assure you that we went upstairs and ate a good breakfast; and I laughed with Grace at the consternation the captain would be in when he found that Hannah was absent.
"During the morning a pedlar called, who travelled the country with second-hand articles of clothing, taking farm produce in exchange for his wares. I bought of him two good linen-breasted shirts, which had been stolen from some gentleman by his housekeeper. While I was chatting with the pedlar, I remarked that Grace had left the house, and I saw her through the kitchen-window talking to a young lad by the well, who often came across to borrow an old gun from my master to shoot ducks. I called to her to come in, which she appeared to me to do very reluctantly. I felt that I was in her power, and I was horribly afraid of her betraying me in order to save her own and the captain's life. I now hated her from my very soul, and could have killed her without the least pity or remorse.
"'What do you want, Macdermot!' she said sullenly.
"'I want you. I dare not trust you out of my sight. I know what you are,—you are plotting mischief against me; but if you betray me I will be revenged; if I have to follow you to—for that purpose.'
"'Why do you doubt my word, Macdermot? Do you think I want to hang myself?'
"'No, not yourself, but me. You are too bad to be trusted. What were you saying just now to that boy?'
"'I told him that the captain was not at home, and I dared not lend him the gun.'
"'You were right. The gun will be wanted at home.'.
"She shuddered and turned away. It seems that she had had enough of blood, and shewed some feeling at last. I kept my eye upon her, and would not suffer her for a moment out of my sight.
"At noon the captain drove into the yard, and I went out to take the horse. Before he had time to alight, he asked for Hannah. I told him that she was out, that she went off the day before, and had not returned, but that we expected her in every minute.
"He was very much annoyed, and said that she had no business to leave the house during his absence,—that he would give her a good rating when she came home.
"Grace asked if she should get his breakfast?
"He said, 'He wanted none. He would wait till Hannah came back, and then he would take a cup of coffee.'
"He then went into the parlour; and throwing himself down upon the sofa, commenced reading a magazine he had brought with him from Toronto.
"'I thought he would miss the young lady,' said Grace. 'He has no idea how close she is to him at this moment. I wonder why I could not make him as good a cup of coffee as Hannah. I have often made it for him when he did not know it. But what is sweet from her hand, would be poison from mine. But I have had my revenge!'
"Dinner time came, and out came the captain to the kitchen, book in hand.
"'Isn't Hannah back yet?'
"'It's strange. Which way did she go?'
"'She did not tell us where she was going; but said that, as you were out, it would be a good opportunity of visiting an old friend.'
"'When did she say she would be back?'
"'We expected her last night,' said Grace.
"'Something must have happened to the girl, Macdermot,' turning to me. 'Put the saddle on my riding horse. I will go among the neighbours, and inquire if they have seen her.'
"Grace exchanged glances with me.
"'Will you not stay till after dinner, Sir?'
"'I don't care,' he cried impatiently, 'a —- for dinner. I feel too uneasy about the girl to eat. Macdermot, be quick and saddle Charley; and you, Grace, come and tell me when he is at the door.'
"He went back into the parlour, and put on his riding-coat; and I went into the harness-house, not to obey his orders, but to plan his destruction.
"I perceived that it was more difficult to conceal a murder than I had imagined; that the inquiries he was about to make would arouse suspicion among the neighbours, and finally lead to a discovery. The only way to prevent this was to murder him, take what money he had brought with him from Toronto, and be off with Grace to the States. Whatever repugnance I might have felt at the commission of this fresh crime, was drowned in the selfish necessity of self-preservation. My plans were soon matured, and I hastened to put them in a proper train.
"I first loaded the old duck gun with ball, and, putting it behind the door of the harness-house, I went into the parlour. I found the captain lyinig on the sofa reading, his hat and gloves beside him on the table. He started up as I entered.
"'Is the horse ready?'
"'Not yet, Sir. Some person has been in during the night, and cut your new English saddle almost to pieces. I wish you would step out and look at it. I cannot put it on Charley in its present state.'
"'Don't bother me, he cried angrily; 'it is in your charge,—you are answerable for that. Who the devil would think it worth their while to break into the harness house to cut a saddle, when they could have carried it off entirely? Let me have none of your tricks, Sir! You must have done it yourself!'
"'That is not very likely, Captain Kinnaird. At any rate, it would be a satisfaction to me if you would come and look at it.'
"'I'm in too great a hurry. Put on the old one.'
"I still held the door in my hand. 'It's only a step from here to the harness-house.'
"He rose reluctantly, and followed me into the kitchen. The harness-house formed part of a lean-to off the kitchen, and you went down two steps into it. He went on before me, and as he descended the steps, I clutched the gun I had left behind the door, took my aim between his shoulders, and shot him through the heart. He staggered forward and fell, exclaiming as he did so, 'O God, I am shot!'
"In a few minutes he was lying in the cellar, beside our other victim. Very little blood flowed from the wound; he bled internally. He had on a very fine shirt; and after rifling his person, and possessing myself of his pocketbook, I took off his shirt, and put on the one I had bought of the pedlar."
"Then," cried Mr. Mac—ie, to whom this confession was made, "that was how the pedlar was supposed to have had a hand in the murder. That circumstance confused the evidence, and nearly saved your life."
"It was just as I have told you," said Macdermot.
"And tell me, Macdermot, the reason of another circumstance that puzzled the whole court. How came that magazine, which was found in the housekeeper's bed saturated with blood, in that place, and so far from the spot where the murder was committed?"
"That, too, is easily explained, though it was such a riddle to you gentlemen of the law. When the captain came out to look at the saddle, he had the book open in his hand. When he was shot, he clapped the book to his breast with both his hands. Almost all the blood that flowed from it was caught in that book. It required some force on my part to take it from his grasp after he was dead. Not knowing what to do with it, I flung it into the housekeeper's bed. While I harnessed the riding-horse into his new buggy, Grace collected all the valuables in the house. You know, Sir, that we got safe on board the steamer at Toronto; but, owing to an unfortunate delay, we were apprehended, sent to jail, and condemned to die.
"Grace, you tell me, has been reprieved, and her sentence commuted into confinement in the Penitentiary for life. This seems very unjust to me, for she is certainly more criminal than I am. If she had not instigated me to commit the murder, it never would have been done. But the priest tells me that I shall not be hung, and not to make myself uneasy on that score."
"Macdermot," said Mr. Mac—ie, "it is useless to flatter you with false hopes. You will suffer the execution of your sentence to-morrow, at eight o'clock, in front of the jail. I have seen the order sent by the governor to the sheriff, and that was my reason for visiting you to-night. I was not satisfied in my own mind of your guilt. What you have told me has greatly relieved my mind; and I must add, if ever man deserved his sentence, you do yours."
"When this unhappy man was really convinced that I was in earnest—that he must pay with his life the penalty of his crime," continued Mr. Mac—ie, "his abject cowardice and the mental agonies he endured were too terrible to witness. He dashed himself on the floor of his cell, and shrieked and raved like a maniac, declaring that he could not, and would not die; that the law had no right to murder a man's soul as well as his body, by giving him no time for repentance; that if he was hung like a dog, Grace Marks, in justice, ought to share his fate. Finding that all I could say to him had no effect in producing a better frame of mind I called in the chaplain, and left the sinner to his fate.
"A few months ago I visited the Penitentiary; and as my pleading had been the means of saving Grace from the same doom, I naturally felt interested in her present state. I was permitted to see and speak to her; and Mrs. M—-, I never shall forget the painful feelings I experienced during this interview. She had been five years in the Penitentiary, but still retained a remarkably youthful appearance. The sullen assurance that had formerly marked her countenance, had given place to a sad and humbled expression. She had lost much of her former good looks, and seldom raised her eyes from the ground.
"'Well, Grace,' I said, 'how is it with you now?'
"'Bad enough, Sir,' she answered, with a sigh; 'I ought to feel grateful to you for all the trouble you took on my account. I thought you my friend then, but you were the worst enemy I ever had in my life.'
"'How is that, Grace?'
"'Oh, Sir, it would have been better for me to have died with Macdermot than to have suffered for years, as I have done, the torments of the damned. Oh, Sir, my misery is too great for words to describe! I would gladly submit to the most painful death, if I thought that it would put an end to the pangs I daily endure. But though I have repented of my wickedness with bitter tears, it has pleased God that I should never again know a moment's peace. Since I helped Macdermot to strangle Hannah Montgomery, her terrible face and those horrible bloodshot eyes have never left me for a moment. They glare upon me by night and day, and when I close my eyes in despair, I see them looking into my soul—it is impossible to shut them out. If I am at work, in a few minutes that dreadful head is in my lap. If I look up to get rid of it, I see it in the far corner of the room. At dinner, it is in my plate, or grinning between the persons who sit opposite to me at table. Every object that meets my sight takes the same dreadful form; and at night—at night—in the silence and loneliness of my cell, those blazing eyes make my prison as light as day. No, not as day—they have a terribly hot glare, that has not the appearance of anything in this world. And when I sleep,—that face just hovers above my own, its eyes just opposite to mine; so that when I awake with a shriek of agony, I find them there. Oh! this is hell, Sir—these are the torments of the damned! Were I in that fiery place, my punishment could not be greater than this.'
"The poor creature turned away, and I left her, for who could say a word of comfort to such grief? it was a matter solely between her own conscience and God."
Having heard this terrible narrative, I was very anxious to behold this unhappy victim of remorse. She passed me on the stairs as I proceeded to the part of the building where the women were kept; but on perceiving a stranger, she turned her head away, so that I could not get a glimpse of her face.
Having made known my wishes to the matron, she very kindly called her in to perform some trifling duty in the ward, so that I might have an opportunity of seeing her. She is a middle-sized woman, with a slight graceful figure. There is an air of hopeless melancholy in her face which is very painful to contemplate. Her complexion is fair, and must, before the touch of hopeless sorrow paled it, have been very brilliant. Her eyes are a bright blue, her hair auburn, and her face would be rather handsome were it not for the long curved chin, which gives, as it always does to most persons who have this facial defect, a cunning, cruel expression.
Grace Marks glances at you with a sidelong stealthy look; her eye never meets yours, and after a furtive regard, it invariably bends its gaze upon the ground. She looks like a person rather above her humble station, and her conduct during her stay in the Penitentiary was so unexceptionable, that a petition was signed by all the influential gentlemen in Kingston, which released her from her long imprisonment. She entered the service of the governor of the Penitentiary, but the fearful hauntings of her brain have terminated in madness. She is now in the asylum at Toronto; and as I mean to visit it when there, I may chance to see this remarkable criminal again. Let us hope that all her previous guilt may be attributed to the incipient workings of this frightful malady.
To The Wind.
"Stern spirit of air, wild voice of the sky! Thy shout rends the heavens, and earth trembles with dread; In hoarse hollow murmurs the billows reply, And ocean is roused in his cavernous bed.
"On thy broad rushing pinions destruction rides free, Unfettered they sweep the wide deserts of air; The hurricane bursts over mountain and sea, And havoc and death mark thy track with despair.
"When the thunder lies cradled within its dark cloud, And earth and her tribes crouch in silence and dread, Thy voice shakes the forest, the tall oak is bowed, That for ages had shook at the tempest its head.
"When the Lord bowed the heavens, and came down in his might, Sublimely around were the elements cast; At his feet lay the dense rolling shadows of night, But the power of Omnipotence rode on the blast.
"From the whirlwind he spake, when man wrung with pain, In the strength of his anguish dare challenge his God; 'Mid its thunders he told him his reasoning was vain, Till he bowed to correction, and kiss'd the just rod.