Dingle Cottage III.

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A Strange Dreeom.
 

AW conno tell thi gradely heaw it wer ’at aw should have such a strange dreeom; but seein’ ’at we’n noather on us mitch to do, if theau’ll just poo up to th’ feigher, aw’ll try an’ tell thi o’ abeawt it.

They’d bin rayther thrungish on at Owd Robin’s — that's th’ wife’s feyther — gettin’ in ther hay, an’ nowt ’ud do but th’ wife an’ th’ dowter must goo up an’ help ’em for two or three days wi’ ther weshin’, churnin’, an’ sich like.

Well, seein’ ’at it wer midsummer, an’ little Jim an’ Joe were spendin’ ther holidays wi’ ther Uncle Jacob, aw’d o’ th’ heawse to misel’; an’ if theau’ll believe me, Jack, th’ wife hadn’t bin gone above an heawr afore aw geet gradely lonely, for th’ heawse seawnded as empty an’ as hollow as a tunnel.  So I fotched a piece o’ candle eawt o’ th’ loomheawse, an’ aw ceawer’d mi deawn wi’ one o’ owd Ned Waugh’s books, an’ aw read one tale after another i’th’ “Chimney Corner,” till it wer time to go to bed.

Well, th’ neet after aw geet so lapt up wi’ Ben Brierley’s “Bundle o’ Fents” ’at aw ceawer’d readin till there werno a spark o’ fire laft i’th’ grate, an’ th’ last bit o’ candle ther wer laft i’th’ heawse flickered an’ blinked till it brunt itsel’ cleean eawt, an’ aw were laft to grope mi way upstairs i’th’ dark.

Th’ next neet aw ceawer’d readin’ Sam Laycock’s “Warblin’s” till mi een fair wartched, an’ aw could read no further, so aw put th’ book on th’ table.  Then aw begun o’ thinkin’ heaw folk used to enjoy thersel, an’ what fun they used to have when they had to mak’ it for thersel’, and what a lot o’ satisfyin’ they needed neaw they con afford to pay somebody else to mak’ it for ’em; an’ what wi’ thinkin’ fost abeawt one thing, an’ then abeawt another, aw went off fast asleep, an’ begun o’ dreamin’.  An’ aw do believe, mon, ’at aw booath seed an’ yerd moor in abeawt three quarters of an heawr nor ony livin’ mortal, wick an’ wide wakken, ever oather yerd or seed in a week.

Aw thowt aw’d getten in a reawm wheer ther were about thirty or forty moor chaps, a regular mixed up joram o’ farmers, quarry chaps an’ wayvers, an’ they wer everyone as merry as crickets.

Well, theau knows, fost one an’ then another geet up an’ sung gradely owd-fashioned ditties, sitch as one might ha’ yerd thirty or forty yer sin; but what took mi fancy wer two or three pikters ’at were hangin’ up close to th’ dur. Th’ fost o’ these pikters wer a  jackass wi’ a pair o’ panniers across its back, an’ a merry faced chap leeadin’ it bi th’ yed, whistlin’, wi’ a sprig o’ hawthorn blossom in his cap.

“Bi gum,” aw said, “aw know yo two,” but for th’ life on me aw couldn’t bring ’em to mind.

The next pikter were a chap nussin’ a child, an’ he were talkin’ to it as serious as if it had bin a groon-up body.  An’ aw said to misel’, “Thee an me’s met before, owd brid,” but aw couldn’t bethink misel’ who he wer.  Well, aw’ll be shot, if th’ last pikter wern’t th’ likeness ov a wayver, stondin’ at th’ eend of a fowt, wi’ a hawthorn hedge deawn one side an’ a row o’ owd-fashioned cottages at t’other, ’at favor’t as if they’d bin built when Adam wer a lad.  Aw looked at this wayver, an’ this pikter, an’ aw thowt to misel’, “Aw know thee, owd mon,” but for th’ life on me aw couldn’t tell who he wer.  Well, Jack!


 

BEN BRIERLEY

Born June 20th, 1825.  Died January 18th, 1896.

 

 

SAMUEL LAYCOCK

Born January 17th, 1826.  Died December 15th, 1893.

 

EDWIN WAUGH

Born January 29th, 1817.  Died April 30th, 1890.

 

The’re a chap i’th’ “Chimney Corner ”
    Then geet up on his feet;
His yure were gettin’ rayther gray,
    But his een were clear an’ breet;
He towd abeawt “Owd Pinder,”
    A regular drunken foo’,
An’ heaw “Owd Bodle,” for a quart,
    Crept up a chimney flue.
Then he towd about a steeamboat,
    An’ heaw o’ th’ folk were sick,
An’ heaw a chap i’ Albert Square
    Geet elected wi’ a brick;
Then his face went mild an’ tender —
    Th’ owd lad ’ud had his joke;
An’ a tear coom rollin’ deawn his cheek,
    When he towd abeawt “Eawr Folk.”
“It seems,” he said, “but yesterneet
    Sin’ aw were yung an’ gay,
‘Life’s Twilight’s’ fadin’ very fast,
    It’s ‘Time to be Joggin’ away.’
Mi lads,” he said, “ Aw’m Toddlin’ Whoam
    Aw’ve lung sin’ passed mi prime,
Th’ ‘Neet Fo’ll’ change to ‘Sunday Noon,’
    It’ll soon be ‘Sarvice Time.’
An’ then aw’ll sing wi’ ‘Gentle Jone’ —
    He’s watchin’ close to th’ door, —
An’ aw’ve yerd him softly whisper,
    ‘God bless thi silver yure.’”
Then he geet a glent so’ th’ pikters
    ’At wer hangin’ up o’ th’ wo’,
He sighed an’ shook his owd white yed,
    An’ his tears began to fo’.
Another look at th’ whistlin’ chap
    ’At stood bi’ th’ donkey’s yed,
He smiled, an’ whispered, “Besom Ben,”
    Then aw know’d it wer eawr Ned.


.    .    .    .    .


Then a little chap wi’ spectacles
    Said he’d like to sing a song,
But, as Ned had gone an’ laft ’em,
    He couldno’ stop so long.
So he towd o’th’ Cotton Panic,
    When times wer very hard,
An’ heaw th’ “Owd Bellman” fun a ceaw
    ’At he’d hud i’ their backyard;
Then his voice went soft an’ gentle,
    An’ he shook his owd white pate,
“Aw’st have to leeave yo’ lads,” he said,
    “It’s gettin’ rayther late;
Aw’ll goo an’ find th’ ‘Owd Pedlar,’
    An’ talk to ‘Gentle Jone,’
An’ tell heaw th’ little childer
    Neaw miss him deawn th’ green lone.
Aw want to see th’ ‘Owd Playmates ’
    ’At han met their just reward,
An’ shake hands wi’ th’ owd cobbler
    ’At lived i’ ‘Bowton’s Yard.’
An’ when aw meet Joe Livesey,
    That staunch teetotal limb,
If the Lord’ll nobbut let us,
    We’n sing a temperance hymn.
Good-neet, owd friends,” he sheawted eawt,
    “Just keep yo’re hearts i’ tune,
An’ while yo’re twitterin’ here below
    Aw’ll warble up aboon.”
Then he geet a glent o’ th’ pikters,
    An’ a tear coom in his ee,
“It seems but yesterday,” he said,
    “Sin’ aw took thi on mi knee;
Theau’s helped mi, lass, to sing mi song,
    Beawt oather cant or sham; ”
An’ when he whispered “Bonny Brid,”
    Aw know’d it wer eawr Sam.


.    .    .    .    .


Then a quiet-lookin’ chap coom up
    Fro’ t’other eend o’ th’ room,
He ’re like a hondloom wayver
    ’At had gaited up his loom;
An’ he towd us heaw Fause Juddie
    Set eawt to “Shoot a Thief; ”
An’ heaw a deead keaw wer kill’t
    To find ’em o’ chep beef;
Then his voice begun to tremble,
    An’ he took a glent reawnd th’ room,
“Aw conno’ wayve no moor,” he said,
    Aw’st ha’ to leeave mi loom.
Aw conno’ sing to th’ shuttle neaw,
    Mi heart’s fair eawt o’ tune;
Heaw con aw warble here below
    When Ned an’ Sam’s aboon?
Yo know mi sung’s bin raythur lung,
    But it hasno’ bin o’ sham;
Aw’ve awlus tried mi best to cheer —
    ’Twere th’ same wi’ Ned an’ Sam.
Aw’ll go an’ find ‘Owd Shadow,’
    An’ paw’ll look for ‘Little ]ack;’
An’ when aw meet ’em up aboon,
    Aw’st know ’em in a crack.
An’ then ther’s little ‘Humpy Dick,’
    He cost me monny a tear;
Aw’ll bet he’s getten fine an’t straight —
    There’ll be no crutches theer.”
Then he geet a glent o’ th’ pikters
    At were hangin’ up o’ th’ wo’,
He sighed, an’ shook his owd white yed,
    An’ his tears begun to flow.
“Poor owd Ab o’th’ Yate,” he said,
    “Aw deawt theau’s dropped thi pen;
Theau may bid good-neet to ‘Walmsley Fowt,’”
    Then aw know’d it wer eawr Ben.


――――♦――――

 
Spring.
 

OH, welcome, thrice welcome, to sweet verdant Spring!
Pure emblem of sunshine, what joy thou do’st bring!
The brook in its gladness flows merrily on,
For the ice and the snow are melted and gone;
And the snowdrops, so daring, succumb with a will
To the bow of the stately and proud daffodil;
Whilst the primrose so shy now ventures to look
At the fronds of the fern that peep at the brook;
And the buds on the hawthorn, long sought to be free,
Now burst forth in beauty, and hail thee with glee.

Oh, welcome, thrice welcome, to each tired wing
That has brav’d the broad ocean to tell us of Spring!
Now the swallow in gladness flits o’er the mill dam,
And the ewe in its glee sports with the wee lamb;
Whilst our hearts leap with joy, for the cuckoo is here,
With its sweet plaintive call, so distinct and clear;
And the proud homely blackbird, in the thorn bush,
Responds to the notes of the lark and the thrush.
Oh, welcome, thrice welcome! what joy thou do’st bring,
Pure emblem of sunshine, oh, sweet verdant Spring!


――――♦――――

 
Summer.
 

Oh, sweet smiling Summer, oh, fair month of June,
How we welcome thy sunshine, and deem it a boon
To roam through the meadows and scent the new hay,
Whilst the heart is enthralled by the skylark’s sweet lay;
And the bright tinted moth, and the e’er droning bee,
The sweet nectar sip on the gay posied lea.
The bold homely throstle is now in full song,
And the linnets and finches their music prolong;
Oh, void is the heart, and lost to all tune,
That fails now to greet thee, oh, sweet lovely June!

Oh, sweet smiling June, we shall miss thee anon,
When thy fair glowing face has languished and gone;
But now for a time we’ll roam through the dells,
Bedecked with gay foxgloves and bonny blue bells;
Whilst the brooklet’s soft music the soul will entrance,
For the birds will respond and the daffodil’s dance;
Green fronds from the fern now kiss the clear brook,
And the primrose peeps shyly from crevice and nook.
Bright month of gay flowers, glad days of sweet tune,
We will bask in thy sunshine, oh, fair sunny June!


――――♦――――

 
Autumn.
 

Oh, sweet kindly Autumn, we greet thee once more,
Thy fields are now smiling with bounteous store,
Whilst the fruits in the orchard and gardens now vie
With the bright golden sheaves of barley and rye;
Though the voice of sweet songsters are silent and still,
With joy we can list to the clack of the mill;
Whilst the gay tinted leaves in the sun’s beaming light
Like the hue of the rainbow are fair to the sight.
Blest season of harvest, we deem it a pleasure
To view with delight thy rich golden treasure.

Oh, bountiful Autumn, thou art now on the wane,
For the bleak eastern winds are fast in thy train,
And the tall stately trees that fair nature crowned
Are shedding their brown wither’d leaves to the ground;
And the migrating birds have gone for a time
To sing their sweet lay in some far distant clime;
And the sweet-scented flow’rets, with the bracken
            and fern,
Are lull’d now in sleep till spring shall return;
And the winter wind moans, whilst the brook babbles
            on,
And sings a sad requiem now Autumn is gone.


――――♦――――

 
Winter.
 

Oh, Winter, bleak Winter, relentless and bold,
With thy north-eastern winds so fierce, stern, and cold
Spring, Summer, and Autumn now yield to thy will,
How we list but in vain for the clack of the mill.
Gaunt trees in the woodland bend low with the blast,
And the brooklet’s sweet song for a season is past;
Whilst dark sombre clouds, and the thunder’s loud peal,
Foretell of the storm that the flash will reveal;
Whilst the cricket chirps loud in the bright ingle nook
Till dawn is proclaimed by the caw of the rook.

Oh, Winter, stern Winter, how majestic and proud,
With thy dark sombre sky and white crystal shroud!
For a time thou art monarch o’er mead, wood, and steep,
And nature is lulled ’neath thy mantle to sleep.
Now the birds in the woodlands have ceas’d to salute, —
Like the clack of the mill for a time they are mute;
But the brave little robin, on the rime-coated bough,
Reminds us that God in His wisdom somehow
These seasons arrange, that we mortals may learn,
Though stern Winter is rife, sweet Spring will return.


――――♦――――

 
Am I a Poet?
 

AM I a poet?  Well, no, I rather
        think not!
True poets, though dead, sir, are
        seldom forgot;
But a poor rhyming songster has scarce
        clos’d his eyes
Ere the fame he has sought for soon lingers
        and dies.
I’m right glad to own, and well pleased to
        know it,
There’s a gulf, sir, divides the rhymster
        from poet.

Am I a poet?  Come, now, don’t make me
        laugh,
I like a good joke, but I’m proof against
        chaff —
As to stringing my thoughts to homely put
        rhymes,
Why, then, I confess, I am guilty some-
        times;
Just to please my own fancy, in my leisure
        time,
I’ve formed the bad habit of trying to
        rhyme.

I’m lacking in grammar, I’m conscious of
        that,
And my sentiment, too, may seem rather
        flat;
But I try to express, in my feeble
        way,
In a rhyme, though crude, what I’d just
        like to say;
Though my rhythm and grammar I’ll own
        are not good,
By my neighbours and friends I’m well
        understood.

I can rhyme about friends — thank God
        there’s a few,
Through the turmoil of life, prov’d steadfast
        and true;
I am always well pleased, and I might do
        far worse,
Than toast my true friends in crude rhyme
        or blank verse;
And as to the faithless, I wish them no
        harm,
My heart from all malice I fain would
        disarm.

Now should I stroll out in the gay summer
        time,
My heart fills with rapture at nature
        sublime —
The hills and the valleys, the moorland and
        clough,
And the clear rippling streams are subjects
        enough;
Though lacking in poesy, I think it no
        crime
To tell what I feel in a simple crude
        rhyme.

I’m fond of good music — the sweetest I’ve
        heard
Salutes me in spring from the wild singing
        bird —
The blackbird so sweet, and the throstle so
        coy,
Respond to the notes of the lark in the
        sky;
And should it be winter, with snow or frost
        rime,
The voice of the robin compels me to
        rhyme.

I’m fond of wild flowers that grow in the
        dell —
The daisy so modest, and the bonny blue
        bell,
And the pale timid primrose, that peeps
        from its nook
At the foxglove so stately that bows to
        the brook;
Whilst the hawthorn so sweet, resplendent
        in bloom,
Fills the soft balmy air with fragrant per-
        fume.

Vain critics may blame for the license I
        take,
When I tell of sweet maids, with fork and
        hay rake,
And the reapers refrain so jolly and
        blythe,
Keeping time to the music of sickle and
        scythe;
Though lacking in poesy, and write but in
        rhyme,
To the sickle and scythe my heart’s keeping
        time.

I’m thankful to God for these bright sunny
        hours
Spent in the woodland ’midst birds and
        wild flowers;
For the cornfield and meadow, so plentious
        in wealth;
For raiment and food and a store of good
        health.
With a heart ever grateful, I think it
        sublime
To praise my Creator in blank verse or
        rhyme.


――――♦――――

 
On View.
 

HIE, you! hie, you!  Just step this way
        there’s a lot of things on view!
The auctioneer will soon be here,
        and the sale begins at two;
There s no fear of interruption, the old
        man’s joined his spouse,
They’re with the great majority, so we are
        selling up the house.

Here’s the likeness of a weaver, there’s
        another of his wife,
Taken forty years ago, when they started
        married life;
There’s a bobbin, wheel and basket, beside
        an empty loom;
Some tangled spool and three-legged stool
        lies in the other room.

A rocking chair with spindled back, which
        granny used to rock;
An old arm-chair in good repair, besides an
        ancient clock;
A table bought in “’35,” and quite as good
        as new—
Now step this way, there’s nought to pay,
        for everything’s on view.

Now here’s a splendid piccolo, besides a
        music stand,
’Twas presented to their leader by the
        members of the band;
Inscription, too, on silver plate, why its fit
        for any duke —
Just pass it quickly round, John, and let the
        people look.

Now there’s a copper kettle, I’m told that it
        was won
At the village wakes or festival, by Dick, the
        second son;
And here’s a willow-handled bat, presented
        by a sub,
When Dick performed the hat trick, whilst
        bowling for his club.

There’s a tiny box of trinkets which once
        belonged to Nell,
A bunch of faded violets she’d gathered in
        the dell;
A coloured sash and withered wreath
        suggests a brighter day,
When lads and lasses on the green proclaimed
        her Queen of May.


.    .    .    .    .    .


Alas, for Jack, that led the band, he now lies
        in a distant land,
Dick, the champion of the green, is fighting
        for our Gracious Queen;
And little Nell, the village pride, lies buried
        by her baby’s side;
Her wedding gown and trinkets too — well,
        all’s for sale and now on view.


――――♦――――

 
Old Squire Slocum’s Meet.


 

YOU have heard, no doubt, of sad mishaps
        occurring now and then
In feats of strength and games of skill
        pursued by gentlemen:
For downright dire disaster you would find it hard
        to beat
The doings last November in Old Squire Slocum’s
        Meet.

The Slocumites were soon astir on that eventful
        morn,
For once a year they longed to hear the huntsman’s
        shrilly horn.
Small bets were made, and odds were laid, that
        Reynard would defeat,
And win this game of Tally-ho in Old Squire
        Slocum’s Meet.

Fair ladies in their habits gay, and swells in green
        and red,
Each mounted on a charger bold, from cob to
        thoroughbred,
Came a-cantering and prancing, with courage quite
        replete,
Full bent on Reynard’s slaughter in Old Squire
        Slocum’s Meet.

Old Squire Slocum, hale and strong, just weighing
        sixteen stone,
Was mounted on a thoroughbred that looked like
        skin and bone;
Whilst Parson Sparem, tall and sleek, to join the
        grand elite,
Came jogging on fat Dobbin to old Squire Slocum’s
        Meet.

The huntsman blew a shrilly blast, then hunters,
        nags, and hounds,
Went off pell-mell to Hazel Dell with frantic leaps
        and bounds —
Right over Grundy’s turnip-field, then through a
        patch of beet, —
For there was great excitement in Old Squire
        Slocum’s Meet.

With ease they topp’d each gate and fence, no matter
        high or low;
There’s magic in the huntsman’s horn and cry of
        Tally-ho!
And Farmer Hodge’s furrowed land, prepared for rye
        and wheat,
Was ploughed again, “free gratis,” by Old Squire
        Slocum’s Meet.

A splendid run — such sport and fun they’d never
        known before;
For miles they went upon the scent, and still they
        longed for more;
But Reynard led right gallantly — of course he knew
        the beat, —
For thrice before he had bowled o’er Old Squire
        Slocum’s Meet.

But fate, alas! when near the pass that led to
        Peaty Bog,
The hunt became enveloped in a thick and dismal
        fog;
Then all was dire confusion, and disorder was
        complete,
For things were looking lively in Old Squire Slocum’s
        Meet.

The hounds then somehow lost the scent and scamper’d
        various ways;
The hunters, in their sorry plight, were in a perfect
        maze;
To add to their discomfiture they got both snow and
        sleet —
Quite enough to cool the courage of Old Squire
        Slocum’s Meet.

The atmospheric elements did not improve one
        jot,
So there they stood, near Beechy Wood, afraid to
        walk or trot;
To know that Peaty Bog was near was anything but
        sweet,
And all was consternation in Old Squire Slocum’s
        Meet.

The villagers turned out in force, in spite of sleet
        and fog;
Some said the hunt had lost its way and sunk in
        Peaty Bog.
They vow’d with torch and lantern to do a daring
        feat:
They’d seek and find the members of Old Squire
        Slocum’s Meet.

The crowd had scarce departed when the fog began
        to rise;
By two’s and three’s the hounds came back, with
        sorrow in their eyes;
They’d lost all hope of Reynard’s brush — his pace
        had been too fleet;
They sighed to think of Peaty Bog and Old Squire
        Slocum’s Meet.

At length the Squire and Parson came, and each his
        charger led —
I would not mention for the world what Old Squire
        Slocum said;
And just to hear the parson rave — well, it really was
        a treat
To hear his benediction on Old Squire Slocum’s
        Meet.

But by-and-by the rest returned, bespattered, cold,
        and wet;
That sleet and fog near Peaty Bog they well
        remember yet.
Should you desire to live in peace, you’d better be
        discreet,
And never mention Tally-ho, or Old Squire Slocum’s
        Meet.

Some wags put up a notice board in Old Squire
        Slocum’s grounds,
Suggesting that the wily fox had squared the Slocum
        hounds!
Now Reynard wags his brush with pride, secure in his
        retreat,
And sends his deepest sympathy to Old Squire
        Slocum’s Meet.


――――♦――――

 
The Coward with his Gun.
 

HIS slouching gait and furtive glance
    Suggest some foul intent;
With callous heart he wends his way
    His mind on slaughter bent;
The music of the purling brook
    Ne’er strikes his senseless ear;
His eyes are closed to all that God
    Would have him to revere.
Oblivious to the beautiful,
    From morn to setting sun,
He prowls all day in quest of prey,
    This coward with his gun.

Regardless of the bonny dell,
    Resplendent in its bloom,
He never notes the hawthorn gay,
    Or scents its sweet perfume;
The merry lark, with gleesome song,
    Is soaring to the sky:
He only notes with deep regret
    Its flight is far too high.
With lagging steps he prowls along,
    Intent on brutish fun,
With mind depraved and soul enslaved,
    This coward with his gun.

Anon there comes the sweetest strain
    That mortal ever heard, —
It comes at morn and eventide
    From wild unfettered bird;
Unconscious, in his joyful mood,
    Of danger lurking near,
His merry notes ring through the wood
    In accents sweet and clear.
A sudden flash, a loud report,
    The deed, alas, is done —
Slain near his nest by that foul pest,
    The coward with his gun.

With eager haste he drops the prey
    In his capacious bag:
Two linnets and the bleeding thrush
    Just constitute the swag.
Oh, for some just tribunal, that
    Would teach this fiend to hunt!
Could I but exercise my will,
    I’d send him to the front;
I’d place him in the foremost ranks,
    Lest he should try to run;
I’d teach this brute the way to shoot —
    This coward with his gun.


――――♦――――

 
I Won’t Tell.
 

THERES a little corner of my heart
    I like to keep reserved,
And in it there’s a store of love
    For every British bird;
I love them all, both great and small,
    From Owl to Jenny Wren,
And, oh, the pleasure I derive
    Can ne’er be told by pen!
To watch them rear their brood with care,
    It pleases me full well;
There’s those that know what I could
            show —
    But I won’t tell.

There’s a pair of owls go prowling
    For mice and voles each night,
But all the day they hide away,
    Afraid to come in sight;
They know that men are prowling then
    For wanton sport and fun,
So out of sight they keep till night,
    Lest they should hear a gun.
There’s a tree well clothed with ivy,
    I know it very well,
That I could show, — but then, you know
    That I won’t tell.

The urchins from the school near by
    Stand list’ning to the thrush —
Oh, how they peep with eager eyes
    In hedge and holly bush;
Whilst Bob keeps up his music sweet,
    In simple, plaintive mood,
He tries to cheer his little mate,
    Whilst she tends to her brood;
But they would rather seek his nest
    Than learn to write or spell;
Full well they know what I could show —
    But I won’t tell.

Boys will be boys, we know full well
    That boys will seek a nest, —
We once were young, so let us try
    To teach them for the best;
But I detest that horrid pest,
    That stalks with loaded gun,
To shoot our harmless little pets,
    And deem it passing fun.
I know of scarce and pretty birds,
    In meadow, wood, and dell,
That I could show, — but then, you know
    That I won’t tell.

God sent these little minstrels
    To cheer us on our way;
Their little lives are all too brief,
    Oh, let them sing their lay;
Just think of all those little broods
    That’s waiting for each mite,
Then think about your own wee bairns,
    And hide your gun from sight.
Were I to show all that I know,
    There’d be a passing knell,
Their merry song would not last long —
    So I won’t tell.


――――♦――――

 
A Tribute to Morely Park.
 

O tell me not of fairer lands
    That lie beyond the seas,
Where orange bloom and sweet perfume
    Waft in the balmy breeze;
But let me sing of Motherland,
    For mem’ry oft will hark
To rustic bowers and childhood’s hours,
    In dear old Morley Park.

Of coloured birds in far-off lands
    The poet’s praise will run;
Ofttimes he’ll write of plumage bright,
    More radiant than the sun;
But sweeter dear it is to hear
    The merry thrush and lark
Trill forth their tune in May or June,
    In dear old Morley Park.

There’s poets sing of blooms so rare,
    In Southern lands afar;
They vow their hue are equal to
    A rainbow or a star.
Could they but see our hawthorn tree,
    And its sweet fragrance mark,
Or view our rose that blushing grows
    In dear old Morley Park.

There’s cosy dells where sweet bluebells
    Vie with the golden broom;
There’s verdant fern that kiss the burn,
    Where foxgloves wave their plume.
The cuckoo’s voice bids hearts rejoice
    From early morn till dark;
There’s rippling rills from distant hills
    In dear old Morley Park.

Oh, let me dwell where father died,
    And mother breathed her last,
Where birds and flowers and rustic bowers
    Link mem’ry to the past!
Oh, who would roam from such a home,
    To foreign lands embark,
While Nature smiles and love beguiles
    Our home in Morley Park?


――――♦――――

 
Sister Jane’s Whistle.
(A story of Anncoats).
 

IVE often heard the old folk say, and I
    think they ought to know,
That mishaps will overtake you at
    whatever pace you go;
But a little gleam of sunshine oft becomes
    a glorious ray,
Just to brighten up the pathway and to cheer
    us on our way.

There had been a gleam of sunshine in the
    little town of Birch,
Its radiance was felt around, more especially
    in the Church;
But a black and sombre cloud obscured it
    for a season,
For Sister Jane was leaving them without
    giving any reason.

So they held a special meeting, and the
    Parson took the chair,
All the Wardens, with the Curate, and
    Sister Jane was there;
She had come to tell the Parson and the
    Wardens of the Church
The reason she was leaving them, and the
    little town of Birch.

“If I suggest some little scheme to benefit
    our church,
Or the welfare of the toilers in our little
    town of Birch,
The answer that you always give is enough
    to raise one’s ire —
‘You will think the matter over, then name
    it to the Squire.’

“When Widow Burns was sick and lame,
    I prayed beside her bed;
I chanced to notice, ere I left, she’d neither
    fire nor bread;
I suggested, sir, a concert, to provide both
    food and fire, —
You said the scheme seemed very good, but
    you’d name it to the Squire.

“My thoughts went to the children next;
    ah! now, I thought, here’s scope,
I’ll gather in the little ones, and commence
    a Band of Hope.
The scheme you said was feasible, but
    thought that I would tire;
However, just to please me, you would name
    it to the Squire.

“My next scheme was a Mission Band, in
    the little town of Birch;
I thought, perhaps, well, one or two might
    join, our little church.
Again the self-same answer came, again you
    raised my ire —
‘You would think the matter over, and
    name it to the Squire.’

“I have waited patiently and long for the
    Squire’s decision:
Alas I there’s been no Band of Hope, nor has
    there been a Mission;
Widow Burns is strong again — we begged
    both food and fire;
Now when you feel disposed, sir, please
    please name it to the Squire!

“And now, my friends, I’ve come to-night
    to bid you all adieu!
Ah! when I’m very far from here I shall
    ofttimes think of you;
And though I leave this rural spot, and
    friends I love most dear,
Fond memory will oft recall your sympathetic
    tear.

“And ofttimes in my fancy I shall hear the
    wild birds sing,
And listen to the merry brook whilst the
    church bells sweetly ring;
But there’ll be no little maidens to greet me
    in the lane,
With their tiny nosegays, fresh and sweet,
    for little Sister Jane.

“I’m going now to labour where there’s
    neither birds or flowers,
No running brooks nor cosy nooks, no
    hawthorn bloom nor bowers;
And when I tread the squalid courts, I’ll
    meekly kiss the rod,
I will do my best in Ancoats, — the rest I’ll
    leave to God.”

The Minister he stared aghast; the Curate
    heaved a sigh;
And brother Tomkins eye-glass fell from the
    corner of his eye.
Now had they heard the words aright, or
    was the girl insane?
How could she leave sweet rural Birch for
    dreary Ancoats Lane?

Then they told some awful stories about
    that dreadful place,
How horrid crimes were done at night the
    police could never trace;
How brutal fellows cursed and swore and
    carried loaded sticks,
And how disputes were settled with both
    stones and lumps of bricks.

“My friends,” said little Sister Jane, with a
    meek and modest smile,
“Where’er my Master bids me go, I am
    willing, friends, to toil.”
The roughest in the London slums respected
    Sister Jane,
And costers even touched their caps, away
    in Drury Lane.


.    .    .    .    .    .


Then the parson closed the meeting per-
    suasion was in vain,
So one and all “adieu!” exclaimed, to little
    Sister Jane;
But they held another meeting, these knowing
    men of Birch,
In a little snug across the way, right opposite
    the church.

Well, after much discussion, the Curate,
    Matthew Meek,
Said, “Friends, with your permission, I have
    a word or two to speak;
For it has been suggested by the landlord of
    ‘The Thistle,’
We each put down our little mite, and buy
    the girl a whistle.

“So if these Ancoats ruffians should attack
    the girl at night,
She can put the whistle to her mouth and
    blow with all her might.”
Well, Sister Jane, undaunted, went her long
    and tiresome ride,
With the whistle in her pocket and little
    else beside.


.    .    .    .   .    .


Now, did she need that whistle?  Why,
    bless you dear hearts, no!
The girl was almost idolized; well! I think
    I ought to know.
She soon won their warm affections, she’d
    a pleasant little trick,
’Twas begging from the well-to-do and
    finding out the sick.

She would scour each court and alley, or
    face a fever den;
She never seemed the least afraid of coarse
    or brutal men;
Always finding out the sick, you would never
    see her lag,
She carried comfort to the couch, and some-
    thing in a bag.

The lodgers in the padding kens showed her
    much respect:
“Now, careful, lads,” the boss would say;
    “no cursing, recollect;
Come, Sister Jane, just tell a tale that will
    make their hair bristle!
Oh, Sister Jane, just tell that wheeze about
    that blooming whistle! ”

And when Long Bill was dying, his body
    racked with pain,
They whispered, “Fetch the Parson; ” he
    murmured, “Sister Jane.”
She’d had the man teetotal, but Bill had
    broke his pledge,
He’d been mad drunk and fighting, and
    tumbled from a dredge.

But when the loathsome fever stole into
    Murphy’s cot,
When the man was raging mad and his
    blood ran thick and hot,
Who stayed and watch’d whilst others slept,
    and cooled his throbbing brain?
Who nursed the weak man back to strength?
    why, little Sister Jane.

She nursed the weak man back to strength,
    but oh! the sacrifice:
She caught the horrid fever; death claimed
    her as its price.
Ah! many a scanty blind was drawn, and
    many a tear was shed,
And children even whispered low: “Poor
    Sister Jane is dead.”

Poor Sister Jane is now at rest, her body’s
    ’neath the sod,
Her memory lives in Ancoats, but her soul
    has gone to God.
So now I’ve told you all I know, and, I think,
    rather plain,
About that tiny silver whistle, and little
    Sister Jane.


――――♦――――

 
Little Billy’s Crutch.


If little Bill was sick and ill, poor Nell
        would look so sad;
If feeble Nell did not feel well, then Billy
        too felt bad.

 

YOUVE never heard of Nelly, that
        pale-faced little one?
You’ve never heard of Billy?  Well,
        both are dead and gone!
Two little mites in Ancoats, marred by
        affliction’s touch,
For patient Nell was seldom well, and
        Billy used a crutch.

If little Bill was sick and ill, poor Nell
        would look so sad;
If feeble Nell did not feel well, then Billy
        too felt bad.
All the lads would fight for Nell, — they
        pitied her so much, —
But all the girls stood up for Bill, because
        he used a crutch.

Once they wandered far from town; when
        near a cosy dell
Bill raised his eyes towards the skies, and
        softly whispered, “Nell,
I think our parents up above must pity us
        so much,
When they know you’re cold and hungry,
        and see me with a crutch.”

At length, when both grew hungry, Bill
        spied a turnip field —
Oh, do not judge too harshly! ’twas hunger
        made him yield;
The farmer’s daughter dropped a tear, — the
        scene had been too much;
The farmer chuckled to his wife, “Confound
        that little crutch.”

Someone placed a bunch of flowers where
        little Nell lay dead;
Someone knelt and said a prayer beside her
        tiny bed;
No one saw him creep down stairs — it did
        not matter much:
No one saw him dry those tears, but they
        heard a little crutch.

Poor Billy grew so thin and pale when little
        Nelly died;
Too weak to venture out of doors, his crutch
        was laid aside;
To visit Nelly’s new-made grave, he longed
        so very much,
But little Bill was far too ill to hobble with
        his crutch.

The angels came one winter’s night, when
        all the world was still,
And told of wonders up above to comfort
        little Bill,
How the good Lord would make him strong
        by just a simple touch,
So that he could play with Nell without his
        little crutch.

The angels took his pure white soul from
        that dark cheerless room;
The guardians took his crippled form and
        laid it in the tomb;
But when he met his playmate Nell, she’d
        no consumptive touch,
She’d left her pain in Ancoats Lane, with
        little Billy’s crutch.


――――♦――――

 
Only for the Drink.
 

YOU need not be afraid, sir,
    I’m sensible enough,
I’ll speak to you with reason,
    But do not treat me rough,
I’ll scarcely move a muscle,
    If you’ll let me have my say ;
I pray, good sir, have patience,
    I’m sensible to-day.
A short respite from madness,
    Perhaps the last before I die,
With power of speech and reason,
    Granted from on high.
I know sometimes I’m dangerous —
    I know it very well,
When the sad past comes before me,
    And I think of poor Nell!
The past then comes to goad me,
    And I see her in the school,
With her hair all hung in ringlets, —
    Oh, how I’ve played the fool!
When I think of how I wooed her,
    As we came from church at night,
And walked thro’ lovely meadows,
    With a future fair and bright;
And, oh, how proud I felt that morn,
    When the bells sent forth a peal, —
The village rung with laughter,
    The neighbours in their zeal
Cried fervently, “God bless them,
    May their happiness increase!
May God’s providence attend them —
    May they live and die in peace!”

Her parents they were dead, sir;
    Would to God the lass had died
Before I wooed and won her,
    And took her for my bride.
I asked the girl to drink —
    I forced it on my wife, —
The day I led her from the church
    I blighted her young life.
She’d never tasted then, sir,
    But ’twas our wedding-day,
And I was mad with wine, sir,
    And would not have her nay;
’Twas the rock on which we struck,
    And our life’s frail peaceful bark
Sprung a leak that day
    That made our future dark.
I never thought of danger —
    What cared I to think? —
It was a kind of pleasantry
    To make my Nelly drink.
A few short years of bliss and peace,
    With scarce a care or sorrow,
No ling’ring cloud of doubt or pain
    To mar the coming morrow.
Alas! how little did I think
    That folly’s fondest dream
Had lured us from the path of truth
    To the black and swollen stream.
We glided with the giddy tide,
    And ere we paused to think,
The truth, alas! flashed o’er my mind —
    We’d grown to like the drink!
Ah, sir, we’d grown to like it,
    And went from bad to worse:
What we took at first for pleasure
    Soon grew to be a curse;
Then we tried to moderate,
    But our cravings they were such,
They would not let us draw the line,
    And, alas! we took too much.

“Ah, sir, tongue would fail
    To tell at what a pace
We slipped away from virtue’s path,
    And sunk to dire disgrace;
How our girl and boy were twitted
    Because their parents drank;
How I lost my place of trust,
    The highest in the bank;
Acquaintances soon cooled —
    I blamed it on my wife,
And in my fury struck her,
    For the first time in my life.
And the home the neighbours prayed for,
    On the morning we were wed,
Became a hell of discord,
    With the devil at its head!
O God! for one short hour,
    Of sweet domestic bliss:
A smiling wife, a peaceful home,
    And my children’s loving kiss.
O God! if I had sought Thy aid
    In our domestic strife,
I might have been a happy man,
    And Nell a loving wife.
Oh, why did I stand aloof,
    When all was dark and drear?
Thou, O God, could have stopped both
    In our mad and wild career;
But like a guilty culprit,
    Who feels that honour’s lost,
I sought relief in gambling —
    God knows at what a cost!
And, oh, the horrors of each night!
    For grimy things that creep,
And green-eyed vampires hovered round
    If I but chanced to sleep.
I never meant to harm my wife,
    When I threw that horrid glass, —
It was to scare the fiends away,
    And it struck my darling lass!

Did I kill my darling wife?
    Is my Nellie dead?
Where is my little girl and boy —
    My darling Kate and Fred?
Take me to my lonely room,
    Where I can rave and shout,
And tell the fiends of happy days,
    When there’s none but them about,
How I made my Nelly drink
    On the morning we were wed:
How they’ll laugh and shout and yell,
    When I tell of Kate and Fred!
Should I want the room myself,
    If only for a spell,
I dream about a village church,
    And I hear a sweet-toned bell;
I listen to the pastor’s voice,
    In fervent morning prayer;
I listen to the choir in white,
    And I see my Nelly there.
Should the fiends come back,
    I open wide a door,
And show them Nelly with the class
    She taught in days of yore.
Ah! you should see them run!
    I can always make them fly:
They never venture near me
    When the school and church are nigh
But I can bring them back, sir, —
    They never fail to come
If I dream about the dram shop,
    And simply whisper, “rum.”
Grant me one request, sir,
    The portrait of my Nell,
Bring my darling’s picture,
    And hang it in my cell;
I want to see her as of yore —
    Ah, sir, you may weep, —
I never see my Nelly now,
    Only in my sleep.
O God above! in tend’rest love,
    Drown my powers to think
Of what I might have been to-day,
    ONLY FOR THE DRINK!


――――♦――――

 
The Fun would all be O’er.
 

WHY don’t you give up business?
    Now why don’t you retire?
Why don’t you do a lot of things
    That other folks desire?
Their earnest style oft makes one smile, —
    I’ll own they’re not to blame,
For years ago, I’d have you know,
    I thought the very same!
Well, let them rant their useless cant,
    Until their throats are sore,
’Tween me and you, it would not do —
    The fun would all be o’er.

What! drop the reins and cease to steer?
    I would not if I could!
And stranger still, had I the will
    I could not if I would.
There’s a fascination in life’s race —
    Whilst God bestows good health —
That yields more joy than you could buy
    Had you a mine of wealth!
To yield the fight would not seem right
    With health and strength in store;
What! moor life’s boat, whilst one can float —
    The fun would all be o’er.

They will picture to your fancy
    Some quaint old-fashioned cot,
And vow and swear that country air
    Would suit you to a dot,
With a garden like an Eden,
    Where you could stroll at ease;
But active minds don’t feed upon
    Gay garden flowers and trees.
This quaint old cot and garden plot
    Would soon become a bore;
It would not fizz to give up bizz —
    The fun would all be o’er.

Now I like to view the country,
    Both near and far away,
But were I always on the spot
    It would not seem so gay;
I love to hear the merry birds,
    Their songs of praise repeat,
But were I always listening
    They would not sound as sweet.
I like to be close by the sea
    And hear the billows roar;
I’m sore afraid if I but stayed,
    The fun would all be o’er.

The time will come, I know full well,
    I’m conscious of it now;
My hair, alas, is turning grey,
    There’s wrinkles on my brow;
When called away I trust there may
    A fitter fill my place,
May he be just as prosperous
    In life’s uncertain race;
To act and think is meat and drink,
    Though verging on three-score,
When business pride has sunk and died,
    The fun will all be o’er.


――――♦――――

 
Why do I Retire?
 

WHY did I give up business? now, why
        did I retire?
Had greed for wealth unhinged my
        health and quenched ambition’s fire?
Go and ask my sons and daughters, or better
        still my wife,
Why I gave up my business, to lead a rural
        life.
Now, if my friendship you esteem, don’t try
        to raise my ire,
Just ask the family circle what induced me
        to retire.

Why did I give up business? persuasion
        did the trick:
Beset by my wife and daughters, by Harry
        Tom and Dick,
A kind of combination that felt so awful
        sorry
That father dear should still persist in all
        this useless worry;
My wife, of course, was leader in this grand
        domestic choir, —
It matters not who hatched the plot, they
        forced me to retire.

Well, I sold a splendid business to gratify
        the lot,
And bought a rustic cottage with a spacious
        garden plot;
Then I began to rusticate, and learn the
        names of trees —
How I marvelled at my ignorance of flowers,
        birds and bees.
Of course I bought a garden suit, it was my
        wife’s desire,
Such things, she said, were absolute when
        business men retire.

The spring had just departed, it was glorious
        summer time,
The garden in its varied hue looked perfectly
        sublime,
And the pretty little orchard showed signs
        of early fruit,
Whilst the blithe and merry songsters
        poured forth a grand salute.
In garden suit and smoking cap I felt so
        much at ease;
Well, I felt myself in Eden amongst the
        apple trees.

I had new laid eggs for breakfast, and the
        choice of many greens,
Then sauntered forth with can and hose to
        water peas and beans;
And in my little arbour I would lounge
        awhile and look
On names I did not understand, in a
        horticulture book;
And thus the glorious summer passed, and
        thus my time was spent,
’Midst birds and trees, flowers and bees,
        both happy and content.

At length the glorious autumn waned, the
        throstle ceased to sing,
The merry lark and blackbird sweet were
        silent now till spring;
Then thick November fogs arose, whilst
        eastern winds would blow,
And I was kept in durance vile through hail,
        rain, sleet and snow;
And the garden, once so charming, now
        looked both cold and dree,
For nights grew long, and days grew short,
        but both were long to me.

As for my favourite authors, I’ve read them
        through and though, —
The hardest work I found, alas, was having
        nought to do;
My interest then in rural life somehow began
        to wane,
I longed for strife and active life, and work
        for nerve and brain:
Then I thought of my friend Tomkins, how
        he vowed and swore
To give up bizz would never fizz — the fun
        would all be o’er.

I’m not an educated man, I’ve got old-
        fashioned ways,
In fact I’m rather rude in speech, and drop
        both g’s and k’s,
So when I joined the “Social” I got but
        scanty fare,
They did not seem to recognise or know
        that I was there;
You could scarcely call it insult, although it
        was a rub,
’Twixt superfluous etiquette and a decent
        little snub.

Now there was Brown, the architect, he
        looked both stern and sour,
He oft would call to have a chat and stay
        for half-an-hour;
Whilst Sidney Jones, a city clerk, stared at
        me through some glass;
His taper fingers, too, were weak, and
        hooped with rings of brass;
To seek this grand society, well, I must have
        been an ass,
Cash will not always do the trick: there’s
        such a thing as class.

The boys are busy courting now, the girls
        are looking out —
Their ma, you know, is anxious, and takes
        the dears about
To all the local functions — perhaps some
        grand bazaar,
She’s on the spot with all the lot, and keeps
        them up to par;
Whilst I am left lamenting, to vote myself
        a fool,
And mourn the day that I gave way on my
        repentant stool.

There’s a magnet seems to draw me to that
        quiet little town,
Just to have a friendly chat with my old
        neighbour Brown;
But if I seek my late abode it somehow does
        not fizz,
He really has not time to chat, for looking
        after bizz;
I envy him but like his pluck, and wish him
        lots of trade,
And hope that he will prosper with the bizz
        that I once made.

I’m rather old to start new bizz in these
        new-fangled days,
I could not bear to swell the rear with my
        old-fashioned ways;
When near three-score the day is o’er, I
        could not keep the pace —
’Tis useless starting off to run after giving
        up the race.
Ah, no, this rusticating style it somehow
        does not fizz,
I’d give one month of rural bliss for one
        good day of bizz.


――――♦――――

 
Mixed.

The Author’s favourite mule Diamond
from South Africa.


Am I a jennet or a mule,

        A mongrel or a mewt?

Now just resolve, the problem solve,

        And settle the dispute.


 

STAY, reader, stay! reflect, I pray,
        On this unhappy brute,
Whose ancestry and pedigree
        Are somehow in dispute;
Think of my sire, so full of fire,
        Think of my patient dam,
Then just resolve, this problem solve,
        And tell me what I am.

Now you must know long years ago
        My sire roamed the plains;
My dam, alas, like Baalam’s ass,
        Cull’d thistles in the lanes;
I’m not a horse, nor yet an ass,
        I’m crossed just like a T;
There’s no dispute, I’m but a brute,
        Without a pedigree.

Now if I neigh a dismal bray
        Is certain to obtrude,
And if I bray a feeble neigh
        Will somehow then intrude;
I feel quite sad, and ofttimes mad,
        And almost moved to tears,
When urchins cry, “I say, old boy,
        Why don’t they cut your ears?”

I sometimes feel quite full of zeal
        When I think of my sire;
My temper, too, is none too true,
        If they but raise my ire;
Then it’s my speed denotes the steed,
        I’m quite a sight to see,
With flashing eye I almost fly,
        In spite of pedigree.

At times I creep, and almost weep,
        When I think of my dam;
I feel betwixt and somehow mixed,
        And wonder what I am;
My pace is slow, I’d like to go,
        But feel so stupified,
I move along like one gone wrong,
        And feel quite donkey-fied.

You’ll own its true, between the two,
        I’ve got completely mixed;
Alas, for me my pedigree
        Can never now be fixed;
Am I a jennet or a mule,
        A mongrel or a mewt?
Now just resolve, the problem solve,
        And settle the dispute.


――――♦――――

 


When Gran’dad was a Boy.
 

OH for those good old days of yore,
    When gran’dad was a boy,
Those glorious days that fogeys praise,
    But cannot tell you why
When landed sire and country squire,
    Just for a meagre dole,
Could laugh and gloat, and count each vote
    Before they reached the poll.

Oh, for those good old days of yore!
    Tradition tells us then
Our nation’s laws were rank with flaws,
    And Parliament a den;
Where speech was made and plots were laid,
    ’Midst havoc, strife and storm,
Whilst earnest men, with voice and pen,
    Called loudly for reform.

Oh, for those good old days of yore,
    When boys of eight or nine
Would wend their way at break of day
    To work in mill or mine!
When baking days were hailed with praise,
    And voted quite a charm,
For bread would rise, in spite of sighs,
    Without the aid of barm!

Oh, for those good old days of yore,
    Of poverty and want,
When food was dear, starvation near,
    And work, alas, was scant!
Oh, peace be to their ashes,
    Oblivious may they lie,
Those good old days that fogeys praise,
    When gran’dad was a boy!


――――♦――――

 
Old Robin’s Grave.

ISAAC BARDSLEY.
Born May 24th, 1830.   Died February 5th, 1907.
 

ADIEU, thou genial songster,
    Thou hast left this world for aye,
We shall miss thy face of sunshine,
    And thy simple, plaintive lay;
But to know thee was to love thee,
    Thy sweet smile was ever dear,
Well we know it but reflected
    Promptings from a heart sincere.

Well might poets name thee “Robin,”
    For thy muse was ever sweet,
And each kindly chord responded
    To a life with love replete;
Step by step through sore affliction,
    Veteran of a gifted band,
Faithful, patient, meek and lowly,
    Thou hast gained the promised land.

Thou wert indeed a faithful teacher,
    Thy life’s mission one of love,
Meek and lowly was the preacher,
    Pointing us to realms above;
Kindly thoughts have ofttimes led thee
    To thy needy neighbour’s door,
For thy generous heart responded
    To the young and agèd poor.

Oh, how sweet it was to hear thee,
    When in lane or posied lea,
Blend thy voice with lark or throstle,
    With an accent sweet and free;
Even now thy friend the robin,
    On the rime and frosted limb,
In a cadence sweet and lowly,
    Warbles soft its vesper hymn.

Bards of old, replete with wisdom,
    Say the pure unfettered soul
Wafts its flight to fairer regions,
    “And the grave is not its goal.”
Well we know in that blest haven
    Thy sweet voice will never tire,
Singing praises with the ransomed,
    In the grand celestial choir.

Songsters sweet have longed to meet thee,
    Minstrel bards long gone before
Tuned-their harps with joy to greet thee,
    To that bright and peaceful shore;
Thou hast safely crossed the harbour,
    Faith sustained thee o’er the foam,
Angel voices rang out sweetly
    “Welcome to thy Father’s home.”


――――♦――――

 
In Loving Memory.
 

WHILST musing alone in my cottage to-night,
And watching the fire in the fast dying light,
My heart fondly yearns, as the shadows come on,
For voices remembered, now silent and gone.

There shines through the darkness my dear
        mother’s face,
Which oft beamed on me with a sweet saintly grace;
Her kindly affection all others surpassed,
And her love for ever and ever will last.

I think of my boyhood and sunshine of youth,
And I ofttimes recall those lessons of truth,
In that short simple prayer, so dear now to me
I lisped when a child at my fond mother’s knee.

Then my dear loving father comes next to my mind,
So homely, so constant, so true, and so kind;
His strong cheery voice seems to ring in my ear, —
Methinks in the darkness that he, too, is near.

Ah! that rich mellow voice, remembered so well,
So full in its cadence, with rapture would swell;
Now the homestead is drear, and yet do I dream
Of the mirth that’s now changed to silence supreme.

As memory still lingers, in fancy I scan
The form and the features of dear brother Dan;
And the days of our boyhood come back now to me,
When together we roamed the dell and the lea.

Ah! dear brother Dan, thy kind loving heart
Entwined like a tendril — ’twas hard thus to part;
The Lord, in His wisdom and infinite love,
But took thee to father and mother above.

Away with sad musings, for do I not know
They’re free from those cares that beset them below;
So why should I mourn at my Saviour’s decree
When I know they are watching and waiting for me?

The way may be long, and the journey be steep,
That will lead to that home where immortals ne’er weep;
Both father and brother my coming await,
And mother will greet with a kiss at the gate.


――――♦――――

 
A Greeting.
 

METHOUGHT, whilst slumbering one night,
There came an angel pure and bright,
And whispered low, “I’ll give to thee
Thy choice of wishes out of three.”

First she spoke of brilliant fame,
Of high estate, revered name;
She next recounted wordly pelf,
With comfort, ease, and boundless wealth.

When next she spoke her face shone bright,
And all the room seemed filled with light:
Then whispered sweetly, “Pray attend,
Wouldst thou not like a trusty friend?”

“Oh, angel fair,” I cried outright,
“Oh, what care I for wealth or might,
For have not men within an hour
Lost both wealth, estate and power?

“But I will choose, if ’tis thy will,
Let me retain true friendship still;
For gold will melt, and power end,
So I will choose a trusty friend.


――――♦――――

 
Our Heroes were there.
 

WHEN war was proclaimed by the great
        Russian Czar,
And our ships crossed the ocean with
        soldier and tar,
When a roar from the Lion, and a growl from the Bear,
Called men to stern action — our heroes were there.

At the call of the bugle, when Cardigan fell,
In that bold daring charge, through a fierce lurid hell,
Whilst shells burst asunder, and shots filled the air,
With that noble six hundred — our heroes were there

When Coolie and Sepoy refused to obey,
And rebellion was rife, and bloody the fray,
When scimitar reek’d with the blood of the fair,
To shield and defend them — our heroes were there.

In the workhouse there’s men who wear corduroy,
Who fought the fierce Russian, and the demon Sepoy,
But of our boasted freedom, how scanty they fare,
Whilst query oft wonders why our heroes are there.

After fifty long years we are willing to pay
To those gallant old men what we owe them to-day;
When staunch hearts were needed, and cries rent the
        air,
And the bugle piped forward — our heroes were there.

So pass round the hat, there are some living yet,
Let us pay them their due, lest we should forget;
When the roll is called o’er in regions more fair
Our gallant old heroes will muster up there.


――――♦――――

 
Angels in Disguise.
 

OFTTIMES one reads of noble deeds
    That you can surely trace
To some kind mortal filled with love
    And sweet angelic grace.
What makes you so assured, good sir,
    All angels dwell above?
Angels are ever present where
    There’s charity and love.
There’s loving spirits round God’s throne,
    Far up beyond the skies;
Ah, well I know there’s some below,
    That God sent in disguise.

Just think of all those city waifs,
    Breathing pure country air,
They are sent from slum and alley,
    From foetid court and square.
’Tis grand to see them at their play,
    With faces all aglow,
But how and where the funds were raised
    Their parents never know.
The public press, a brief appeal,
    For either cash or toys,
And both are sent with sympathy,
    By angels in disguise.

Imagine, sir, a battle field;
    Ah, many a feeble cry
Comes from some gallant warrior —
    Perchance a wounded boy;
Then think of all those sisters dear,
    Who flit with feeble light,
That seek to succour and sustain
    The wounded in the night.
They’ve left bright homes of luxury,
    And all their kindred ties,
Ignoring loss to wear the cross —
    Pure angels in disguise.

May God reward those sisters dear
    Who have no wish to roam,
That spend both wealth and labour to,
    In doing good at home;
You’ll see them in the foetid slums
    Pass coarse and brutal men,
With food for mind, and body too,
    Enter a fever den.
Ah, surely God in mercy sweet,
    With bountiful supplies,
To aid the weak and suffering,
    Sent angels in disguise.

Oh, angels in your heavenly home,
    Your sympathy bestow,
Let there be sweet communion
    With sisters here below;
You surely must have trod this earth,
    And gained your just reward,
But now you are in glory safe,
    For ever with the Lord.
God grant both strength and patience meek,
    Till ours go to the skies,
To dwell with their angel sisters,
    No longer in disguise.


――――♦――――

 
A Letter from the Front.
 

WELL, yes, the war is over, lass,
    Thank God I’m safe and sound;
They’ve nursed me through the fever,
    And brought me nicely round.
And now we’re through with fighting,
    I’d like to cross the foam,
To be with you and mother dear, —
    I’m longing now for home.

I have often thought of you, Nell,
    Whilst lying on the veldt;
I did not care to let you know
    What I have seen or felt;
And oft in midnight slumbers, lass,
    By river, rock, or stream,
I’ve seen both you and mother dear,
    And kissed you in my dream.

Ofttimes in fancy I can see
    A rough and wayward lad
Forsake his widowed mother,
    Both feeble, old, and sad;
I clench my teeth in anger then,
    And doubles up each fist;
Oh! don’t I give it two or three
    Who urged me on to ’list.

They helped to spend the bounty, —
    We melted every bob;
They did not mind your pleading look,
    Or heed a widow’s sob.
Suppose the ball that brought me down
    Had struck a vital spot,
Why, the workhouse then for mother —
    I’ve done with all the lot.

What did I think about those things,
    That comforter and socks?
You have heard of strange emotions,
    You’ve heard of sudden shocks,
A lump came rising in my throat, —
    Well, lass, to draw it mild,
I knew the hands that knit those socks
    Had rocked me when a child.

How did I feel when bullets came
    Like a shower of rain?
Did my wound distress me much? well,
    I never felt the pain.
The order came, we made the charge,
    With a fierce shout and yell
We went like fiends incarnate,
    Like devils out of hell.

You tell me that your mother’s gone,
    So you’re an orphan now;
Well, just you keep your spirits up,
    We’ll manage things somehow.
I know I left you shabby, lass,
    And treated mother bad;
Now, tell her on the quiet, Nell,
    That Jack’s a better lad.

Thank God, the war is over now,
    I know you’ll both rejoice;
This precious lump of Kruger Land
    Has cost an awful price:
I do not mean those millions; —
    They’ll raise them at a pinch,
I mean those lads we’ll leave behind —
    They’ve paid for ev’ry inch.

So get your streamers ready, lass,
    I’m coming home in May,
And when I draws my little pile,
    We’ll marry right away;
My work I know is all serene,
    So all looks bright and gay;
As for mother — well, bless me if
    She works another day!


――――♦――――

 
If we should ever Meet.
 

DEAR mother, you will see by this
        that I’ve been badly hit,
They’ve put me under canvas now,
        and stowed away my kit;
I’m like a tired waterman who’s resting on his
        oars,
Whilst my brave chums are fighting Paul
        Kruger and the Boers.
I’m badly wounded in the chest, the wires have
        cut my feet, —
I’ll tell you more when fighting’s o’er — if we
        should ever meet.

All tired, wet and weary, we reached the river
        banks,
With every stomach empty, from captain to
        the ranks;
Thoughts of home and loved ones caused many
        lips to quiver,
But not a murmur from the men when told to
        cross the river.
’Twas a second Balaclava, a glorious daring
        feat, —
I’ll tell you more when fighting’s o’er — if we
        should ever meet.

No doubt you’ve read of Spion Kop? well, mother,
        I was there;
You know the gallant Lancashires are seldom
        in the rear.
God only knows at what a cost we climbed that
        awful Kop;
God only knows the sight we saw long ere we
        reached the top.
The awful sight haunts me at night, ’twas
        slaughter and retreat, —
I’ll tell you more when fighting’s o’er — if we
        should ever meet.

A shell burst in our tent last night, amidst the
        sick and dying,
Though the Boers could plainly see our sacred
        flag was flying;
But not one single man was hit; ah, mother,
        what was worse,
A splinter from the bursting shell struck down
        our favourite nurse.
Well, what was said ’midst sobs and tears I’d
        rather not repeat, —
I’ll tell you more when fighting’s o’er — if we
        should ever meet.

A bugle boy lies on my right; oh, mother, you
        would weep
If you but heard the little chap when talking in
        his sleep.
He dreams about his dear old dad, his little sis
        and brother;
Oh, don’t I long to see your face when he calls
        out for mother!
He’s talking of his playmates now in tones so
        low and sweet, —
I’ll tell you more when fighting’s o’er — if we
        should ever meet.

Dear mother, I must now conclude; I’ll put aside
        my pen,
I want to cover up my face — they’re bringing in
        the men;
A sad and fearful blunder has now thinned our
        gallant ranks:
Both old and young lie side by side along the
        river banks.
Three times they’ve cross’d those waters deep,
        to suffer dire defeat, —
I’ll tell you more when fighting’s o’er — if we
        should ever meet.

There is still another river that you and I must
        tide,
I know you’ll find me waiting when you reach
        the other side;
This great and mighty river, that I pictured in
        my dream,
I am pleased to tell you, mother, is now a narrow
        stream,
And the music from its waters, so tranquil, low
        and sweet,
Now bids my spirit venture where we are sure
        to meet.


――――♦――――

 
A Year Ago to-night.
 

SHE heard the welcome joyful shout
    (A widow, sad, bereaved),
“Hip, hip, hurrah!” came from the
        crowd;
    Ladysmith s relieved!

She could not join the merry throng,
    Or give one little cheer;
She softly closed the cottage door
    And dropped a silent tear.

A year to-night her babe was born:
    That night a spirit sped
Where all was peace, and baby’s dad
    Lay numbered with the dead.

The pent-up tears make their escape,
    And roll down Nelly’s cheek;
She cannot see to do her task,
    Or trust herself to speak.

Poor little Bob does all he can
    To try and comfort mother;
If she will only rest awhile
    He’ll look to baby brother.

And little Tom stands at the door,
    Sporting a Union Jack;
He says the War is over now,
    And dad is coming back.

How well she notes each effort made
    To make her burden light,
But her heart is in the trenches
    A year ago to-night.

The stricken widow in her grief
    Offers up a prayer;
For grace and strength she supplicates
    Her heavy lot to bear.

Once more she hears the joyful shout,
    And views the banners bright:
They only tell of one who fell
    A year ago to-night.




THE END.


――――♦――――


HERBERT EVA & Co., PRINTERS,
MOSLEY PRESS,
ANCOATS, MANCHESTER.

 



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