A View of the Landing . . .

The Waterfall of Niagara, . . .

From: Thomas Cary, Abram’s Plains: A Poem. Quebec, 1789. Ed. D.M.R. Bentley (London: Canadian Poetry Press, 1986).

Abram’s Plains : a Poem

[Epigraph]

 

Hœc studia adolescentiam alunt, senectutem oblectant, secundas res ornant, adversis perfugium ac solacium prœbent; delectant domi, non impediunt foris; pernoctant nobiscum, peregrinantur, rusticantur. TULL.

 

Preface

 

At a time when literature seems to be emerging from the closet to illuminate our horizon, I venture to usher into day the following little poem, the offspring of a few leisure hours; which I hope will not be unpleasing to the lovers of polite learning.

     If I may be allowed to judge from experience, I must pronounce descriptive poetry, that exhibits a picture of the real scenes of nature, to be the most difficult to excel in. To vary, harmonize, soften and add the necessary graces to description to make it palatable to a judicious and poetical reader requires no small genius and skill. I think far more than are requisite to any thing of the fabulous kind, whose fabric is the sole work of imagination and where the fancy has full play.

     Convinced of this difficulty, I cannot enough admire those writers who have excelled in this kind of writing. At the head of whom, amongst the moderns, Thomson, the harmonious Thomson stands unrivalled. Much as I admire that great refiner of English verse Pope, I cannot help feeling a preference for Thomson, so strikingly unparalleled and inimitable are the beauties of his numbers. It must be observed that it is only Pope’s descriptive poetry, such as his Windsor-Forest, that I here bring into comparison, Thomson having wrote nothing of the nature of his ethics or satires. It may be said that their comparative merits, even in description, cannot but with difficulty be ascertained, the one having wrote in blank verse the other in rime. It is true that Thomson has the advantage of not being fettered by rime, but to excel in blank verse, in my opinion, requires a far more poetical fancy as well as greater strength of imagination than are requisite to please in rime, where correctness of numbers often passes on the generality of readers for every thing. I cannot avoid making this avowal however it may operate against myself.

     Before I began this Poem I read Pope’s Windsor-Forest and Dr. Goldsmith’s Deserted Village, with the view of endeavouring, in some degree, to catch their manner of writing; as singers in country-churches in England, to use a simple musical comparison, modulate their tones by the prelusive sound of a pitch-pipe. How far I have succeeded I must leave to my readers to determine; trusting, however, for a favourable decision more to their good-nature than to my deserts.

 

         Quebec, 24th Jan.
             1789.

 

Abram’s Plains

Thy Plains, O Abram! and thy pleasing views,
Where, hid in shades, I sit and court the muse,
Grateful I sing. For there, from care and noise,
Oft have I fled to taste thy silent joys:
There, lost in thought, my musing passion fed,
5
Or held blest converse with the learned dead.
Else, like a steed, unbroke to bit or rein,
Courting fair health, I drive across the plain;
The balmy breeze of Zephyrus inhale,
Or bare my breast to the bleak northern gale.
10
Oft, on the green sod lolling as I lay,
Heedless, the grazing herds around me stray:
Close by my side shy songsters fearless hop,
And shyer squirrels the young verdure crop:
All take me for some native of the wood,
15
Or else some senseless block thrown from the flood.
Thy flood Saint Lawrence, in whose copious wave
The Naiades of a thousand riv’lets lave:
Through whom, fresh seas, from mighty urns descend,
And, in one stream, their many waters blend.
20
Thee, first of lakes1! as Asia’s Caspian great,
Where congregated streams hold icy state.
Huron, distinguish’d by its thund’ring bay,
Where full-charg’d clouds heav’n’s ord’nance ceaseless play.
Thee Michigan, where learned beavers lave,
25
And two great tribes divided hold thy wave.
Erie for serpents fam’d, whose noisome breath,
By man inhal’d, conveys the venom’d death.
The streams thence rushing with tremendous roar,
Down thy dread fall, Niagara, prone pour;
30
Back foaming, in thick hoary mists, they bound,
The thund’ring noise deafens the country round,
Whilst echo, from her caves, redoubling sends the sound.
’Twixt awe and pleasure, rapt in wild suspense,
Giddy, the gazer yields up ev’ry sense.
35
So have I felt when Handel’s heavenly strains,
Choral, announce the great Messiah reigns:
Caught up by sound, I leave my earthly part,
And into something more than mortal start.
Now, in Ontario’s urn, spacious they spread,
40
By added waters, from Oswego, fed;
Thence down the Cataraqui rolling on,
Or gliding gently to the Naiades’ song;
Who, in full chorus, vocal, join their lays,
To chant, in chearful carols, Ceres’ praise:
45
Whose yellow harvests, nodding, glad the shore,
Where Dryades, midst wild deserts, reign’d before.
Where prowl’d the wolf, the bear and fox obscene,
Now grateful kine, loud lowing, graze the green.
Such are thy blessings peace! superior far
50
To specious conquests of wild-wasting war.
Destructive war! at best the good of few,
Its dire effects whilst millions dearly rue.
How blest the task, to tame the savage soil,
And, from the waters, bid the woods recoil!
55
But oh! a task of more exalted kind,
To arts of peace, to tame the savage mind;
The thirst of blood, in human breasts, to shame,
To wrest, from barb’rous vice, fair virtue’s name;
Bid tomahawks to ploughshares yield the sway,
60
And skalping-knives to pruning hooks give way;
In Circe’s glass bid moderation reign,
And moral virtues humanize the plain!
Here, shelter’d from the storm of civil broils,
The loyal sufferer renews his toils:
65
Again, from the unclog’d responsive earth,
Calls a new patrimony into birth.
By British magnanimity repaid,
The foe triumphant dare no more upbraid:
But wish he had so lost so to have gain’d,
70
Pleas’d with the now, the past no more had pain’d.
Thus mariners wreck’d on some distant shore
Their homes, their all, sunk in the deep, deplore;
’Till with sad step, they inland bend their way
Where mines of gold their loss amply repay.
75
    Now, o’er rude rocks, rapidly rushing hoarse,
Or through some pent-up pass they speed their course:
Then to the Utawas in wedlock bound,
Thy city Montreal, the streams surround.
Great mart! where center all the forest’s spoils,
80
The furry treasures of the hunter’s toils:
Within thy walls the painted nations pour,
And smiling wealth on thy blest traders show’r.
And now the wedded streams, with blended force,
First canoniz’d, downward direct their course.
85
Thy waters Champlain, next augment the floods,
Champlain, renown’d for high aspiring woods—
Down thy wide stream the naked sylvans glide,
And, in tall masts, of navies swell the pride:
Thy navies Britain, who bid discord cease,
90
And awe ambitious monarchs into peace.
Next Masquinongi tyrant pikes rolls down,
To please the haut-gout of the high-fed town.
Now, spreading to a lake, they drown the soil,
Then to their wonted deep-worn bed recoil.
95
With added streams, still gath’ring as they run,
Their course directing to the rising sun,
’Till thy strong base, Quebec, they rapid lave,
Where British spirits, bold, oppose the wave:
For here the swelling far-projected quay,
100
Gains daily on the wave’s extended way:
Such is the ardour of the British breast,
If of that liberty it loves possess’d,
At their command floods back their billows heave,
And a bold shore their oozy bottom leave:
105
High flinty rocks descend to level plains,
Whence, on both sides, commerce a footing gains.
Tall forests their high-waving branches bow,
And yield, submiss, to lay their honors low;
The plowing keel the builder artist lays,
110
Her ribs of oak the rising ship displays;
Now, grown mature, she glides with forward pace,
And eager rushes to the saint’s2 embrace.
Then rising, Venus like, with gay parade,
Strait turns kept-mistress to the god of trade.
115
Thick-matted woods, where rank luxuriance shoots,
Where branch entwines with branch and roots with roots;
Where flies, in myriads, borne on filmy wings,
Unceasing teaze, with tumefying stings.
Where the dark adder and envenom’d snake,
120
In curling folds, lurk in the shelt’ring brake.
There, guileful, charm with fascinating eyes,
Or, fir’d to wrathful vengeance, rattling rise;
With crest erect, quick darting on the prey,
Swift as through ether speeds the solar ray.
125
Shocking to thought! but nature good and wise,
Where poison shoots its antidote3 supplies.
Deep hid in mists, eternal glooms where reign,
Nor once light enters but with utmost pain:
Tho’ hard the task, yet bare the soil shall lay,
130
And, unobstructed, shine the lamp of day.
Here sleepy Saint Charles, scarcely seen to flow,
His mazy current solemn yields and slow;
Whilst, a strong contrast strikingly to form,
His stream Montmorenci sends down in storm:
135
From the dread precipice foaming it pours,
High smoking round in clouds of silver show’rs.
Here might secure Britannia’s navy ride,
Nor danger dread from wind or swelling tide:
Here, like the ant, commerce, with pregnant sails,
140
Busy, of summer-months herself avails;
For long, too long, here dreary winter reigns,
And bars the liquid way with icy chains.
Hence, as they flow, they stretch their spacious bed,
And, here and there, an isle uplifts its head;
145
Whilst from Malbay, the mill’s remorseless sound,
And piteous groans of rending firrs, resound;
Within whose rind, I shudder while I tell,
Spirits of warriors close imprison’d dwell,
Who in cold blood, butcher’d a valiant foe,
150
For which, transform’d to weeping firrs, they grow:
Down their tall trunks trickling the tears distill,
’Till last the ax and saw groaning they feel.
Next the rough Saguenay, ’tween rosy4 shores,
From plenteous urns, his waters roaring pours;
155
The current of the master flood impedes,
Whilst Taddusac’s rich spoils he grateful cedes,
Where rules, gainsay it envy, if you can,
The best of nature’s works—an honest man.
Thence coursing on, the wide-spread Gulph they gain,
’Till lost, at length, they swell the distant main.
161
First laving on their way the fatten’d shore,
That butchery of seals, bleak Labradore;
Where dwar?sh Esquimaux, with small pig’s eyes,
At cook’ry sick, raw seal and rank oil prize.
165
Let city epicures their sauces boast,
And fancy excellence in boil’d and roast:
His culinary art let Dillon try,
In soupes and jellies with fam’d Horton vie;
Let, on the board, Le Moine’s ragouts high smoke,
170
Believe me friends, at best, ’tis all a joke.
Judgment in eating! where’s the standard plac’d?
Where but in each man’s fickle froward taste.
What then is luxury, ye lib’ral say,
What but to pamper each his sep’rate way?
175
Let cits on turtle gormandize and cloy,
The courtier ortolans and creams enjoy;
The first with heavy port crown his repast,
Whilst light champagne exhilarates the last:
Not with more gout dines citizen or beau,
180
Than on his seal and oil, our Esquimaux;
Nor less his stomach at their dainties turns,
Than each, with loathing, his strong viands spurns.
Habit forms all, taste, gesture, action, thought,
The man ripe rises as the stripling’s taught;
185
Ductile as soften’d wax the human soul,
Twig-like, insensibly stoops to controul:
By rules, but more by great example, led,
He rises Jew, Turk, Christian, as he’s bred.
Since then, we own, man is but moulded clay,
190
Life’s journey let each travel his own way.
And since heaven’s roofs beyond all limits rise,
And a free passage opens through the skies;
Why not suppose there’s ample room for all,
Be life resign’d with or without a call?
195
    What tho’ no mines their gold pour through thy stream,
Nor shining silver from thy waters gleam;
Equal to these, the forests yield their spoils,
And richly pay the skilful hunter’s toils.
The beaver’s silken fur to grace the head,
200
And, on the soldier’s front assurance spread;
The martin’s sables to adorn the fair,
And aid the silk-worm to set off her air.
Gems of Golconda or Potosi’s mines,
Than these not more assist her eyes’ designs.
205
The jetty fox to majesty adds grace,
And of grave justice dignifies the place;
The bulky buffalo, tall elk, the shaggy bear,
Huge carriboo, fleet moose, the swift-foot deer,
Gaunt wolf, amphibious otter, have their use,
210
And to thy worth, O first of floods! conduce.
For thee the sylvans of the forest bleed,
And, to the ax, their long-worn honors cede.
The sturdy oak, the lofty mountain-pine,
Their branching limbs and trunks mature resign;
215
Whilst Ceres, bounteous, from her gran’ries pours,
On craving realms, her grain in golden showers.
Nor is it want of climate or of soil
Thy shores not more the Muscovite’s yet foil:
Our infant world asks but time’s fost’ring hand,
220
Its faculties must by degrees expand.
Nor must thy own resources be past by,
Resources that within thy bosom lie;
The heavy porpus and the silly seal,
Their forfeit lives yield to the club or steel;
225
Soon of their skins and fat, reduc’d to oil,
The skilful fishers the dead victims spoil.
Here too the whale rolls his unwieldy form,
Laughs at the blust’ring winds and mocks the storm;
Gamesome, the billows far behind him throws,
230
And from his nostrils, a salt tempest blows:
Till, close beset, swift flies the barbed dart,
Down prone the monster dives to shun the smart;
The fishers, active, yield the smoking line,
The boats, like light’ning, cut the liquid brine;
235
Oft-times borne down beneath the briny wave,
Both boats and men share one wide watry grave:
His onward way, his doubles they pursue,
’Till, spent his strength, he panting floats in view;
Midst seas of blood wrathful his nostrils smoke,
240
An isle, his bare broad back lies to the stroke.
Now strong harpooners dart the iron death,
The monster force to yield his forfeit breath:
E’en while the waves he lashes into storm,
A monstrous mass floats motionless his form.
245
The grampus, of less bulk, stays his swift course,
Arrested on his way by iron force.
The fierce sea-cow, tho’ cloth’d in stoutest mail,
Finds, ’gainst man’s arts, his strength of small avail.
The salmon, cod, thy wave in myriads pours,
250
And, on far worlds, plenty redundant show’rs.
Next these the Naiades yield, for home supply,
Numbers, of various name and various dye.
The bass, rich flavor’d, high to pamper lust,
The pout or cat of no less luscious gust;
255
The speckled trout choice native of the lake,
’Tis thine the skilful angler’s art to wake.
Thee silver white,and thou bedropt with gold,5
The dusky eel, in circling volumes roll’d;
The bony shad, the poor man’s bounteous friend,
260
E’er summer-suns dry roads and plenty send.
The weighty sturgeon, rank with native oil,
High fed from the fat river’s slimy soil;
The autumn smelt, whose constant bite, tho’ small,
E’er fix’d the ice, relief affords to all;
265
The winter tomi-cod—when with feeble blaze,
From the bleak archer, Sol shoots oblique rays;
Then, from the ice-cot, on the frozen stream,
Through murky night, like meteors, fires gleam;
There, gather’d crouds, from the pierc’d solid flood,
270
With fleshy baits, attract the finny brood.
    Here hill and dale diversify the scene,
There pensile woods cloth’d with eternal green;
The russet plain with thorny brambles spread,
Where clust’ring haws deep blush a ruddy red;
275
The distant wood, wide-waving to the breeze,
Where shining villas peep through crowded trees;
Here babbling brooks gurgle adown the glade,
There rise mementos of the soldier’s spade;
Where on the green-sward oft incamp’d they lay,
280
Seen by the rising and the setting ray.
Here, in life’s vigour, Wolfe resign’d his breath,
And, conqu’ring, sunk to the dark shades of death:
When threatning Gallia, with incroaching sway,
With frowning forts, dar’d bar th’ Ohio’s way;
285
Hoping, alone, the chrystal nymphs to share,
And from their smiles the sons of Britain tear.
Presumptuous Gallia! rash was the design,
Britons not easily the fair6 resign.
This truth, Lake George, loudly thy shores resound,
290
When the brave Johnson7 was with laurels crown’d;
When smiling conquest hail’d him not less great
In fighting fields than in his peaceful seat:
That seat where Eden, transplanted arose,
Scene of the hero’s glorious repose.
295
His fame, in arms, let Dieskau’s ghost tell,
Who, to his sword, a bleeding captive fell.
Is worth hereditary? ask his heir—
Soft, muse—the cheek of conscious virtue spare.
     But chiefly here presumption’s price she paid,
300
And, in the dust, her faded honors laid;
When up the heights, great Wolfe his vet’rans led,
Panting, the level lawn they dauntless tread:
As bold they rise the broad battalion forms,
The gain’d ascent, for fight, their bosom warms;
305
When soon, in view, appears the num’rous foe,
With arms bright-flashing from the plains below:
With ardour glowing in his country’s cause,
His hostile sword the chief intrepid draws;
The troops, to conquest, now inspiring cheers,
310
High beat their breasts, strangers to abject fears:
A chief no more he leads on foot the line,—
Thus, with his soldiers’ fate, his hopes combine.
The deaf’ning drums the charge loud rattling sound,
The charge th’ opposing cliffs thund’ring rebound.
315
The battle rages, bullets, charg’d with fate,
The hungry soil, with human victims, sate.
Attending fate, grim death, with hasty stride,
Triumphs a victor over either side.
Too sure, alas! the leaden vengeance flies,
320
And on the chief its force repeated tries.
Heedless of wounds, he hides the purple flood,
His courage kindling with the loss of blood;
’Till spent, at length, nature’s oblig’d to yield,
He falls ere fix’d the fortune of the field.
325
Whilst, o’er his sight, spreads the thick veil of death,
And life suspended stays the struggling breath,
Anxious, he hears the shout— “they fly, they fly,”
“Who fly?” “The foe” — “contented then I die.”
Whilst death exulting triumphs o’er his clay,
330
His name fame echoes through the realms of day.
If so much praise to conquest then be due,
Can man less honor saving wisdom shew?
When here his tatter’d troops Montgom’ry led,
Of glorious spoils by hopes delusive fed;
335
Whose prudence, without rashness, wise maintain’d
What Wolfe, with loss of life, so bravely gain’d?
Praise, double praise, surely to him is due,
Who, tender, saves man’s blood and conquers too.
O never more may hostile arms distain,
340
With human gore, the verdure of the plain!
False is the fame on man’s destruction rais’d,
As well might famines, plagues, or storms be prais’d.
Not that I wish the patriot to restrain
The noble ardour of his boiling vein,
345
When rash ambition, soaring with high flight,
Studious alone of greatness, not of right;
By artifice, big threats, or thund’ring arm,
His bosom for his country, dares alarm:
Far, far be from me the degrading thought,
350
’Twere virtue, principle, to set at naught.
No, be of heav’n, of man, the wretch accurs’d,
Of grov’ling reptiles, void of soul, the worst,
Who his best blood, defensive, would not show’r,
To stay the torrent of incroaching pow’r!
355
    Lo! mortars, cannons, by the gallows side,
Jointly to do the work of death allied.
The last, ’tis true, of villains rids the world,
Whilst from the first on all destruction’s hurl’d:
Where flies the flaming shell or hissing ball,
360
Guiltless and guilty, undistinguish’d fall.
    South of the flood, lo! lonely cots arise,
Where unkind soils, thrifty, hard yield supplies.
The church, just peeping o’er the pointed shore,
Great less’ner of the little of the poor.
365
    The cross, erected by the highway side,
With all the passion’s implements supply’d;
The cock, the spunge, the crown of thorns, the spear,
The hammer, pincers, nails and other geer.
Here, hat in hand, the peasant humbly bows,
370
Persuaded wood and marble hear his vows.
    The hospital, kind shelter of disease,
When fevers burn or shivering agues freeze;
Sequester’d vestals humbly here attend,
And cordial comfort to affliction lend.
375
Poor compensation to their injur’d kind,
From man’s embrace, by oath, for life con_n’d;
Thwarting the impulse of great nature’s law,
Where sex to sex, by passion wisely draw.
Strange being, man! of contradictions made,
380
’Gainst heady will how weak is reason’s aid!
Hear him, this moment, solemnly award
Shedders of blood to the avenging cord;
His plea great nature’s law—who sheds man’s blood,
Man to shed his is with the right indu’d.
385
The next, behold him instituting laws
To bar fruition, life’s immediate cause.
Less sacred is the law that being gives,
Than that meant to preserve who actual lives?
Is it less criminal life to prevent,
390
Than to destroy, the blessing being sent?
To male and female God gives passions, pow’rs,
And on the contact mutual pleasures show’rs;
A stimulus, by all-wise heav’n design’d,
To all that live, to propagate their kind.
395
Presumptuous man, to thwart thy Maker’s will!
Equal’s the guilt life to prevent or kill.
    There, on thy banks, Saint Charles, rich meadows vie,
In vivid green, to ease the dazzled eye.
The slow meand’ring stream that tardy moves,
400
Dispenses fatness through the meads and groves:
Whilst rushing floods that downward eager drive,
The meadows of their needful dews deprive.
So, in life’s course, who with wise caution treads,
Tho’ slow, yet sure his influence widely spreads:
405
Whilst him who headstrong, thoughtless whirls away,
Of cheated views, useless, becomes a prey.
    Here milch-kine lowing leave the grazing field,
And glad to man their milky homage yield;
The feather’d game oft feel the leaden death,
410
And in the spaniel’s jaws resign their breath.
Thence, further left, as I incline my eyes,
Thy cottages, Lorette, to view arise;
Here, of the copper-tribes, an half tam’d race,
As villagers take up their resting place;
415
Here fix’d, their houshold gods lay peaceful down,
To learn the manners of the polish’d town.
Next Charlebourg, blest in a bounteous soil,
Where plenteous harvests pay the lab’ror’s toil.
Thy beauties, Beauport, open on mine eyes,
420
There fertile fields and breezy lawns arise;
Far as Montmorenci, thy pleasing stream,
Romantic as a love-sick virgin’s dream.
Beyond the vales, still stretching on my view,
Hills, behind hills, my aching eyes pursue.
425
’Till, in surrounding skies, I lose my way,
Where the long landscape fading dies away.
Now cross the flood, Muse, stretch thy roving flight,
And with green Orleans regale thy sight:
Orleans, the garden of the blue-eyed train,
430
Who wanton sport here e’er they seek the main.
Here corn and fruits, here herbage, roots, and flow’rs,
Plenty, from her rich cornucopia, pours.
Be thankful swains, Britannia’s conqu’ring sword,
Releas’d you from your ancient sov’reign lord,
435
Beneath whose sway small tyrants held the rod,
Each, in conceit, swell’d to some little god.
Then the poor pittance of the scanty soil,
Hard earn’d, became the prowling tyrant’s spoil.
The tawdry lord lawless the lash proud wields,
440
Lowly his back the peasant patient yields:
Such scenes no more disgrace the yielding soil,
Safe is the product of the peasant’s toil—
Protecting laws alike to all extend,
Not less the poor-man’s than the rich-man’s friend;
445
Tenant and lord, noble and peasant, all,
Within their influence undistinguish’d fall.
Hence smiling peace and laughing plenty reign,
And gay content, festive delights the plain.
Grateful, ye peasants, own your mended state,
450
And bless, beneath a GEORGE, your better fate.
    The peopled town next calls my wand’ring sight,
Whose cross-crown’d spires the distant eye invite;
But e’er the muse thy arched gates pass through,
Without the walls, still let her please her view;
455
There make a lodgment on the covert-way,
But let no secret mine her steps betray;
She comes no foe thy streets with blood to fill,
Her only weapon is a grey-goose quill:
With that her peaceful parallels she draws,
460
Or if she fights, perhaps some Trojan’s cause;
Or else some hero’s of renowned Rome,
E’er sunk to slav’ry, Csar seal’d her doom.
Be silent bastions, ye batt’ries then keep peace!
From the spread curtain, let the small arms cease:
465
For should she leap the wide-surrounding ditch,
She seeks not in thy walls to make a breach.
Tho’ thy extended works she curious scan,
She comes no spy to draw the secret plan.
    See where reposes, in its rocky bed,
470
The sleepy pool, with a green mantle spread;
Beneath whose shade, prescient, the croaking race
The future drought or rains unerring trace.
When spumy spawn round the pool’s borders lie,
For dropping clouds then trust the bounteous sky:
475
But if mid-way the green scum settled swim,
Fearful t’ approach the water’s less’ning brim,
Then dread the blaze of Sirius’ scorching ray—
Then, husbandmen, for rain devoutly pray.
    Led by the muse, whilst here my course I shape,
480
Let me steep Di’mond, mount thy rocky cape;
There list’ning hear the troubled waves wild roar,
That wrathful lash Cape-Rouge, thy sanguine shore.
There, stretching to the right, with oblique eye,
The villa of fair Dorchester I spy;
485
Where, from parade and crowds, she chearful flies,
The false, by royalty, taught to despise:
There, tranquil, tastes the tender sweets of life
That in the mother center and the wife:
There simple treads the breeze-inviting plains,
490
And all the glare of equipage disdains.
Thence glancing round with comprehensive view,
The varied landscape pleas’d my eyes pursue.
There waving woods from cloud-topt mountains rise,
And hide their green heads in surrounding skies;
495
First link of whose long chain is Torment’s cape,
Where pendent mists, sportive, oft change their shape.
Lawns, meadows, plains, a vivid verdure wear,
Flush’d with the spirit of the rising year;
When vig’rous suns compress the teeming earth,
500
A verdant world bursts into instant birth.
Delightful change! from scenes of endless snows,
When, with rude hand, his frosts bleak winter throws;
When, from far seas, Eurus with fleecy wings,
Fleak following fleak, his virgin nitre flings;
505
Or blust’ring Boreas, blowing from the pole,
Commands the floods no more their streams to roll:
Or more when Zephyrus, severely keen,
When not a cloud to skirt the sky is seen,
From Apalachian hills dry blows the breeze,
510
Fly, fly far south ye children of disease—
Then solid knit the yet disjointed parts,
And the fix’d flood into a plain _rm starts.
Then noisy Chaudiere, thy foaming fall,
Midway arrested, forms a chrystal wall.
515
’Twas by thy drear inhospitable stream,
Where ne’er, from cheering roofs, long fires gleam;
Far-beaming hope on the desponding wight,
Lost in deep glooms amidst the shades of night,
The hardy Arnold led his chosen few,
520
Who, braving hunger, dar’d their point pursue,
Through the long lonesome unfrequented way,
Midst thickest woods, where only wild beasts stray;
But all their efforts of how small avail!
Their object conquest, but their fate a gaol.
525
The statesman thus builds high his golden hope,
But finds his schemes end in an ax or rope.
Thus too the merchant grasps his fancy’d plumb,
But to a whereas lo! his prospects come.
The soldier, statesman, merchant, where’s the state
530
Exempt from the vicissitudes of fate?
Ye great, ye rich, by heart this lesson learn,
Nor, in the pride of pow’r, the wretched spurn:
Blind fortune’s fickle wheel perpetual whirls,
Those under lifts, those from the top low hurls.
535
    E’re from the lungs, in air, the breath is lost,
’Tis firmly fix’d a palpable hoar frost.
Of Icelanders hence travellers declare,
Their words, in winter utter’d, fix in air,
’Till spring’s warm sun the atmosphere unbinds,
540
Then bursts the jargon of a thousand minds.
The smooth firm flood Hyde-park’s gay scene supplies,
Where, hid in fur, the beau triumphant flies:
The mettled steed pants to the distant goal,
Whilst thund’ring follows the shod cariole.
545
In furrows the pois’d skater plows the ice,
In circles glides or onward swiftly flies.
But if, unhing’d, broad floating fields of glass,
In contest join’d, stubborn dispute the pass;
From the collision soar, with rattling crash,
550
Fragments that back the solar beams bright flash:
O’er the ploug’d plain rough ridges rudely rise,—
Vanish’d the skater’s scene of action flies.
So when the hurricane’s destructive blast,
With rage relentless, o’er the shores has past,
555
Roof, rafters, trees, torn by the furious storm,
The level surface of the meads deform.
Fearless, amidst the fragments, as they flow,
The skilful peasant guides his long canoe.
The trav’ller dauntless the snows depths disdains,
560
He stalks secure o’er hills, o’er vales and plains;
On the spread racket, whilst he safely strides,
Tales of Europeans lost in snow derides.
Here, (blush ye London fops embox’d in chair,
Who fear, tho’ mild your clime, to face the air)
565
Scorning to shrink at every breeze that blows,
Unaw’d, the fair brave frosts and driving snows.
    But see, far down the west, the God of day
Behind yon mountain’s brow, low sinks his ray:
The fleecy clouds, deep-fring’d with blushing red,
570
Calm on the soul, mild as their lustre, shed.
True emblem of life’s happy middle scene,
Where neither glare nor gloom once intervene:
Beneath the blaze of mad ambition’s fire,
Yet above want, where all our joys expire.
575
There easy labour keeps the soul serene,
Nor rais’d by vanity nor sunk by spleen;
Life’s clear smooth stream unruffled gently flows,
Nor one rude breeze to hurt its quiet blows.
    Now shade o’er shade steals gradual on the sight,
580
Darkness shuts up the scene and all is night.
Except, where darting cross the swampy marsh,
From shining fire-flies lucid lightnings flash.
When, from black sultry skies, long silver streams
Send through the atmosphere their forked beams;
585
With brighter glow then shoot the mimic fires,
Each insect, Csar8 like, to rival Jove aspires.

Finis.


     

  1. Lake Superiour.  One quality of whose waters is to be remarkably cold under the surface.[back]

  2. Saint Lawrence.[back]

  3. A striking instance of this, is the Rattle-snake plaintain; which grows where those reptiles abound.  When the bite of the snake is most venemous, which is in the dog-days, the plant is in its greatest perfection.  The person bit has but to chew the leaf and apply it to the wound, at the same time swallowing some of the juice.  This seldom fails of preventing every dangerous symptom.[back]

  4. A great number of wild roses grow on its banks.[back]

  5. The White-fish, and what the Canadians call the Poisson-dor or Gold-fish.[back]

  6. Besides the allusion to the water-nymphs the reader will recollect that the Ohio is called in English the Fair River.[back]

  7. Sir William Johnson[back]

  8. One of the Csars so constructed a bridge, that when his chariot passed over it, its noise might resemble thunder.[back]