Page images
PDF
EPUB

And looks I met, like looks I'd lov'd before, “ Who would blush when I prais'd her, and weep And voices too, which, as they trembled o'er

if I blam'd, The chord of memory, found full many a tone “ How blest could I live, and how calm could I Of kindness there in concord with their own.

die ! Yes, - we

we had nights of that communion free, That flow of heart, which I have known with thee “ By the shade of yon sumach, whose red berry dips So oft, so warmly ; nights of mirth and mind, “ In the gush of the fountain, how sweet to reOf whims that taught, and follies that refin'd.

cline, When shall we both renew them ? when, restor'd“ And to know that I sigh'd upon innocent lips, To the gay feast and intellectual board,

“ Which had never been sigh'd on by any but Shall I once more enjoy with thee and thine

mine!”
Those whims that teach, those follies that refine ?
Even now, as wand'ring upon Erie's shore,
I hear Niagara's distant cataract roar,
I sigh for home, –alas ! these weary feet
Have many a mile to journey, ere we meet.

A CANADIAN BOAT SONG.

[blocks in formation]

And, “ Here in this lone little wood,” I exclaim'd Utawas' tide ! this trembling moon
With a maid who was lovely to soul and to eye,

Shall see us float over thy surges soon. "I wrote these words to an air which our boatmen sung to memorial of scenes or feelings that are past, the melody may, sus frequently. The wind was so unfavourable that they were perhaps, be thought common and trifling; but I remember obliged to row all the way, and we were five days in descend- when we have entered, at sunset, upon one of those beautiful ing the river from Kingston to Montreal, exposed to an intense lakes, into which the St. Lawrence so grandly and unexpectsun during the day, and at night forced to take shelter from edly opens, I have heard this simple air with a pleasure which the dews in any miserable hut upon the banks that would re. the finest compositions of the first masters have never given ceive us. But the magnificent scenery of the St. Lawrence me; and now there is not a note of it which does not recall to repays all such difficulties.

my memory the dip of our oars in the St. Lawrence, the flight Our soyageurs had good voices, and sung perfectly in tune of our boat down the Rapids, and all those new and fanciful together. The original words of the air, to which I adapted impressions to which my heart was alive during the whole of these stanzas, appeared to be a long, incoherent story, of this very interesting voyage. which I could understand but little, from the barbarous pro

The above stanzas are supposed to be sung by those voyaSunciation of the Canadians. It begins

geurs who go to the Grand Portage by the Utawas River.

For an account of this wonderful undertaking, see Sir AlexDans mon chemin j'ai rencontré

ander Mackenzie's General History of the Fur Trade, preDeux cavaliers très-bien montés ;

fixed to his Journal. And the refrain to every verse was,

2 " At the Rapid of St. Ann they are obliged to take out A l'ombre d'un bois je m'en vais jouer,

part, if not the whole, of their lading. It is from this spot the A l'ombre d'un bois je m'en vais danser.

Canadians consider they take their departure, as it possesses

the last church on the island, which is dedicated to the tutelar I ventured to harmonise this air, and have published it. saint of voyagers.” – Mackenzie, General History of the Fur Without that charm which association gives to every little Trade.

Saint of this green isle ! hear our prayers,
Oh, grant us cool heavens and favouring airs.
Blow, breezes, blow, the stream runs fast,
The Rapids are near and the daylight's past.

Where the blue hills of old Toronto shed
Their evening shadows o'er Ontario's bed;
Should trace the grand Cadaraqui, and glide
Down the white rapids of his lordly tide
Through massy woods, mid islets flowering fair,
And blooming glades, where the first sinful pair
For consolation might have weeping trod,
When banish'd from the garden of their God.
Oh, Lady! these are miracles, which man,
Cag'd in the bounds of Europe's pigmy span,
Can scarcely dream of, — which his eye must see
To know how wonderful this world can be!

TO THE

LADY CHARLOTTE RAWDON.

FROM THE BANKS OF THE ST. LAWRENCE.

:

But lo, — the last tints of the west decline,

And night falls dewy o'er these banks of pine. Not many months have now been dream'd away Among the reeds, in which our idle boat Since yonder sun, beneath whose evening ray Is rock'd to rest, the wind's complaining note Our boat glides swiftly past these wooded shores, Dies like a half-breath'd whispering of Autes ; Saw me wbere Trent his mazy current pours, Along the wave the gleaming porpoise shoots, And Donington's old oaks, to every breeze, And I can trace him, like a watery star, Whisper the tale of by-gone centuries ;

Down the steep current, till he fades afar Those oaks, to me as sacred as the groves, Amid the foaming breakers' silvery light, Beneath whose shade the pious Persian roves, Where yon rough rapids sparkle through the night, And hears the spirit-voice of sire, or chief,

Here, as along this shadowy bank I stray, Or loved mistress, sigh in every leaf. 1

And the smooth glass-snake 3, gliding o'er my way, There, oft, dear Lady, while thy lip hath sung Shows the dim moonlight through his scaly form, My own unpolish'd lays, how proud I've hung

Fancy, with all the scene's enchantment warm, On every tuneful accent! proud to feel

Hears in the murmur of the nightly breeze That notes like mine should have the fate to steal, Some Indian Spirit warble words like these :As o'er thy hallowing lip they sigh'd along, Such breath of passion and such soul of song.

From the land beyond the sea, Yes, I have wonder’d, like some peasant boy Whither happy spirits flee; Who sings, on Sabbath-eve, his strains of joy,

Where, transform'd to sacred doves, And when he hears the wild, untutor'd note

Many a blessed Indian roves Back to his ear on softening echoes float,

Through the air on wing, as white Believes it still some answering spirit's tone,

As those wondrous stones of light,5 And thinks it all too sweet to be his own!

Which the eye of morning counts

On the Apallachian mounts,
I dreamt not then that, e'er the rolling year Hither oft my flight I take
Had fill'd its circle, I should wander here

Over Huron's lucid lake,
In musing awe; should tread this wondrous world, Where the wave, as clear as dew,
See all its store of inland waters hurl'd

Sleeps beneath the light canoe,
In one vast volume down Niagara's steep,

Which, reflected, floating there, Or calm behold them, in transparent sleep,

Looks as if it hung in air.6

1

1 “ Avendo essi per costume di avere in venerazione gli stones, which glistened in the sun, and were called by the alberi grandi et antichi, quasi che siano spesso ricettaccoli di Indians manetoe aseniah, or spirit-stones.” – Mackenzie's i anime beate." - Pietro della Valle, part. second., lettera 16 Journal. da i giardini di Sciraz.

6 These lines were suggested by Carver's description of one 2 Anburey, in his Travels, has noticed this shooting illu- of the American lakes. “When it was calm," he says, “and mination which porpoises diffuse at night through the river the sun shone bright, I could sit in my canoe, where the depth St. Lawrence. – Vol. i. p. 29.

was upwards of six fathoms, and plainly see huge piles of stone 3 The glass-snake is brittle and transparent.

at the bottom, of different shapes, some of which appeared as 4 " The departed spirit goes into the Country of Souls, if they had been hewn; the water was at this time as pure and where, according to some, it is transformed into a dove." – transparent as air, and my canoe seemed as if it hung suspended Charlevoix, upon the Traditions and the Religion of the Savages in that element. It was impossible to look attentively through of Canada. See the curious fable of the American Orpheus this limpid medium, at the rocks below, without finding, bein Lafitau, tom. i. p. 402.

fore many minutes were elapsed, your head swim and your 5 " The mountains appeared to be sprinkled with white eyes no longer able to behold the dazzling scene."

Then, when I have stray'd a while
Through the Manataulin isle, 1
Breathing all its holy bloom,
Swift I mount me on the plume
Of my Wakon-Bird ?, and fly
Where, beneath a burning sky,
O'er the bed of Erie's lake
Slumbers many a water-snake,
Wrapt within the web of leaves,
Which the water-lily weaves.
Next I chase the flow'ret-king
Through his rosy realm of spring;
See him now, while diamond hues
Soft his neck and wings suffuse,
In the leafy chalice sink,
Thirsting for his balmy drink ;
Now behold him all on fire,
Lovely in his looks of ire,
Breaking every infant stem,
Scatt'ring every velvet gem,
Where his little tyrant lip
Had not found enough to sip.

Weary hunters of the way
To the wig-wam's cheering ray,
Then, aloft through freezing air,
With the snow-bird 6 soft and fair
As the fleece that heaven flings
O'er his little pearly wings,
Light above the rocks I play,
Where Niagara's starry spray,
Frozen on the cliff, appears
Like a giant's starting tears.
There, amid the island-sedge,
Just upon the cataract's edge,
Where the foot of living man
Never trod since time began,
Lone I sit, at close of day,
While, beneath the golden ray,
Icy columns gleam below,
Feather'd round with falling snow,
And an arch of glory springs,
Sparkling as the chain of rings
Round the neck of virgins hung,
Virgins7, who have wander'd young
O'er the waters of the west
To the land where spirits rest!

Then my playful hand I steep
Where the gold-thread + loves to creep,
Cull from thence a tangled wreath,
Words of magic round it breathe,
And the sunny chaplet spread
O'er the sleeping fly-bird's head, 5
Till, with dreams of honey blest,
Haunted, in his downy nest,
By the garden's fairest spells,
Dewy buds and fragrant bells,
Fancy all his soul embowers
In the fly-bird's heaven of flowers.

Thus have I charm'd, with visionary lay,
The lonely moments of the night away;
And now, fresh daylight o'er the water beams!
Once more embark'd upon the glitt'ring streams,
Our boat flies light along the leafy shore,
Shooting the falls, without a dip of oar
Or breath of zephyr, like the mystic bark
The poet saw, in dreams divinely dark,
Borne, without sails, along the dusky flood,8
While on its deck a pilot angel stood,
And, with his wings of living light unfurl'd,
Coasted the dim shores of another world!

Oft, when hoar and silvery flakes
Melt along the ruffled lakes,
When the gray moose sheds his horns,
When the track, at evening, warns

Yet, oh! believe me, mid this mingled maze Of nature's beauties, where the fancy strays

1 Après avoir traversé plusieurs isles peu considérables, 6 “L'oiseau mouche, gros comme un hanneton, est de Tous en trouvâmes le quatrième jour une fameuse nommée toutes couleurs, vives et changeantes: il tire sa subsistence l'Isle de Manitoualin. — Voyages du Baron de Luhontan, des fleurs comme les abeilles ; son nid est fait d'un cotton tom. i. let. 15. Manataulin signifies a Place of Spirits, and très-fin suspendu à une branche d'arbre.” Voyages aux this island in Lake Huron is held sacred by the Indians. Indes Occidentales, par M. Bossu, seconde part, lett. xx.

9 - The Wakon-Bird, which probably is of the same 6 Emberiza hyemalis. — See Imlay's Kentucky, p. 280. species with the Bird of Paradise, receives its name from the 7 Lafitau supposes that there was an order of vestals estaideas the Indians have of its superior excellence; the Wakon- blished among the Iroquois Indians. - Mæurs des Sauvages Bird being, in their language, the Bird of the Great Spirit.” Américains, &c. tom. i. p. 173. - Morse.

* The islands of Lake Erie are surrounded to a consider- & Vedi che sdegna gli argomenti umani; able distance by the large pond-lily, whose leaves spread

Si che remo non vuol, ne altro velo, thickly over the surface of the lake, and form a kind of bed

Che l' ale sue tra liti si lontani. for the water-snakes in summer. * * The gold thread is of the vine kind, and grows in

Vedi come l'ha dritte verso 'l cielo swamps. The roots spread themselves just under the surface

Trattando l'aere con l'eterne penne ; of the morasses, and are easily drawn out by handfuls. They

Che non si mutan, come mortal pelo. reserable a large entangled skein of silk, and are of a bright

DANTE, Purgator. cant. ii. yellow." - Morse.

к

From charm to charm, where every flow'ret's hue Oh! could we have borrow'd from Time but a day,
Hath something strange, and every leaf is new,- To renew such impressions again and again,
I never feel a joy so pure and still,

The things we should look and imagine and say So inly felt, as when some brook or hill,

Would be worth all the life we had wasted till Or veteran oak, like those remember'd well,

then, Some mountain echo or some wild-flower's smell, (For, who can say by what small fairy ties What we had not the leisure or language to speak, The mem'ry clings to pleasure as it flies ?)

We should find some more spiritual mode of reReminds my heart of many a silvan dream

vealing, I once indulg'd by Trent's inspiring stream; And, between us, should feel just as much in a Of all my sunny morns and moonlight nights

week On Donnington's green lawns and breezy heights. As others would take a millennium in feeling.

WRITTEN

ON PASSING DEADMAN'S ISLAND,

IN THE

GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE,
LATE IN THE EVENING, SEPTEMBER, 1804.

Whether I trace the tranquil moments o'er
When I have seen thee cull the fruits of lore,
With him, the polish'd warrior, by thy
A sister's idol and a nation's pride!
When thou hast read of heroes, trophied high
In ancient fame, and I have seen thine eye
Turn to the living hero, while it read,
For pure and bright’ning comments on the dead ;-
Or whether memory to my mind recalls
The festal grandeur of those lordly halls,
When guests have met around the sparkling board,
And welcome warm'd the cup that luxury pour’d;
When the bright future star of England's throne,
With magic smile, hath o'er the banquet shone,
Winning respect, nor claiming what he won,
But tempering greatness, like an evening sun
Whose light the eye can tranquilly admire,
Radiant, but mild, all softness, yet all fire ; –
Whatever hue my recollections take,
Even the regret, the very pain they wake
Is mix'd with happiness ; — but, ah! no more —
Lady! adieu — my heart has linger'd o'er
Those vanish'd times, till all that round me lies,
Stream, banks, and bowers have faded on my eyes!

SEE you, beneath yon cloud so dark,
Fast gliding along a gloomy bark ?
Her sails are full, - though the wind is still,
And there blows not a breath her sails to fill !

Say what doth that vessel of darkness bear ?
The silent calm of the grave is there,
Save now and again a death-knell rung,
And the flap of the sails with night-fdg hung.

There lieth a wreck on the dismal shore
Of cold and pitiless Labrador ;
Where, under the moon, upon mounts of frost,
Full many a mariner's bones are tost.

[blocks in formation]

· This is one of the Magdalen Islands, and, singularly pitality of my friends of the Phaeton and Boston, that I was enough, is the property of Sir Isaac Coffin. The above lines but ill prepared for the miseries of a Canadian vessel. The were suggested by a superstition very common among sailors, weather, however, was pleasant, and the scenery along the who call this ghost-ship, I think, “the flying Dutchman." river delightful. Our passage through the Gut of Cansa,

We were thirteen days on our passage from Quebec to with a bright sky and a fair wind, was particularly striking Halifax, and I had been so spoiled by the truly splendid hos- and romantic.

TO

ON

Oh! hurry thee on-oh! hurry thee on, And still as, with sympathy humble but true,
Thou terrible bark, ere the night be gone, I have told of each bright son of fame all I knew,
Nor let morning look on so foul a sight They have listen'd, and sigh'd that the powerful
As would blanch for ever her rosy light!

stream
Of America's empire should pass, like a dream,
Without leaving one relic of genius, to say
How sublime was the tide which had vanish'd away!
Farewell to the few — though we never may meet
On this planet again, it is soothing and sweet

To think that, whenever my song or my name
THE BOSTON FRIGATE,1

Shall recur to their ear, they'll recall me the same

I have been to them now, young, unthoughtful, LEAVING HALIFAX FOR ENGLAND,

and blest,

Ere hope had deceiv'd me or sorrow deprest.
OCTOBER, 1804.
Noστου προφασις γλυκερου. .

But, Douglas ! while thus I recall to my mind
PINDAR. Pyth. 4. The elect of the land we shall soon leave behind,

I can read in the weather-wise glance of thine eye, WITH triumph this morning, oh Boston ! I hail As it follows the rack flitting over the sky, The stir of thy deck and the spread of thy sail, That the faint coming breeze will be fair for our For they tell me I soon shall be wafted, in thee, flight, To the flourishing isle of the brave and the free, And shall steal us away, ere the falling of night. And that chill Nova-Scotia's unpromising strand 2 Dear Douglas ! thou knowest, with thee by my side, Is the last I shall tread of American land.

With thy friendship to soothe me, thy courage to Well - peace to the land ! may her sons know, at guide, length,

There is not a bleak isle in those summerless seas, That in high-minded honour lies liberty's strength, Where the day comes in darkness, or shines but That though man be as free as the fetterless wind, to freeze, As the wantonest air that the north can unbind, Not a tract of the line, not a barbarous shore, Yet, if health do not temper and sweeten the blast, That I could not with patience, with pleasure exIf no harvest of mind ever sprung where it pass’d, plore ! Then unblest is such freedom, and baleful its Oh think then how gladly I follow thee now, might, —

When Hope smooths the billowy path of our prow, Free only to ruin, and strong but to blight ! And each prosperous sigh of the west-springing

wind Farewell to the few I have left with regret ; Takes me nearer the home where my heart is inMay they sometimes recall, what I cannot forget, shrin'd ; The delight of those evenings,- too briefa delight! Where the smile of a father shall meet me again, When in converse and song we have stol'n on the And the tears of a mother turn bliss into pain ; night ;

Where the kind voice of sisters shall steal to my When they've ask'd me the manners, the mind, or heart, the mien

And ask it, in sighs, how we ever could part ? Of some bard I had known or some chief I had seen, Whose glory, though distant, they long had ador'd, But see !-- the bent top-sails are ready to swellWhose name had oft hallow'd the wine-cup they To the boat — I am with thee -- Columbia, farepour'd ;

well!

· Commanded by Captain J. E. Douglas, with whom I re- forty miles from Halifax, and I was indeed most pleasantly turned to England, and to whom I am indebted for many, surprised by the beauty and fertility of the country which many kindnesses. In truth, I should but offend the delicacy opened upon us after the bleak and rocky wilderness by of my friend Douglas, and, at the same time, do injustice to which Halifax is surrounded. - I was told that, in travelling my own feelings of gratitude, did I attempt to say how much onwards, we should find the soil and the scenery improve, and love to him.

it gave me much pleasure to know that the worthy Governor ? Sir John Wentworth, the Governor of Nova Scotia, very has by no means such an "inamabile regnum" as I was, at kindly allowed me to accompany him on his visit to the Col. first sight, inclined to believe. lege, which they have lately established at Windsor, about

« PreviousContinue »