Harvest.—Observations on the system of
husbandry.—Allusion to the general desertion of the country by men of
property on its being ceded to the British.—An evening scene.—A troop
of soldiers.—A moonlight scene.
A YEAR IN CANADA.
Soft is the touch of Habit’s fairy wand,But strong the spell that mystic touch
’Tis hers to mock the storm on Lapland’s strand,
Or blunt the fervours of the torrid blaze.
’Tis she that soothes the dull mechanic’s toil,
|For whom unseen the sweets of Nature
Who, scarcely conscious of the Summer’s smile,
Amid the city’s smoke and dust and gloom,
Bends o’er the sultry forge, or plies the tedious loom.
Yet, does his heart’s warm stream as purely flow,
|As that which circles in the peasant’s
Or can the never-varying task bestow
As sweet a charm to labour or to rest,
As round his sun-burnt brow the zephyr flings,
At morn’s gay dawn, or evening’s calm decline,
|As that which greets him when the
While skies, and fields, and woods, their charms combine,
And aye their changeful wreath the fleeting seasons twine?
Scarce the last ling’ring rose has left the spray,
When early harvest whitens o’er the plain,
|And, mid their sultry task, content
Spread o’er the waving field the reaper train;
And now beneath the sickle sinks the grain,
And now the swelling sheaves behind it rise,
Not long to linger on the stubble plain,
|Beneath the sunny beam of August’s
Fast on the zephyr’s wing th’ exhaling moisture flies.
And yet, fair Scotland! though thy hills and moors
At farther distance drink the genial ray,
Though oft unkindly blasts and chilling showers,
|In Winter’s livery shroud the
Full well thy ripen’d harvests may compare
With those which bask in Summer’s radiant smile,
For Industry has nursed Improvement there,
And Wealth and Art have nerved the arm of Toil,
|And charm’d the rugged clime and
tamed the stubborn soil.
Nor Wealth nor Art attended culture here,
When first from lillied France th’ advent’rous band,
O’er the wild Ocean held their bold career,
And raised their homes amid the sylvan land;
|For many an age the forest’s annual
Had swell’d the sod with vegetable mould,
The forest blazed, and o’er the kindly soil
Luxuriant harvests waved their rip’ning gold,
Wide o’er the half-till’d plains the tide of plenty roll’d.I
Successive harvests rose,—th’ exhausted fields,II
"One grateful mite of all they gave," demand;
Till, ill repaid, and earth reluctant
A scantier increase to the reaper’s hand;
Marking the change, yet heedless of its cause,III
|Father and son the self-same plan
Calm ignorance still bends to custom’s laws,
Nor change nor rest the wearied fields renew;IV
And light the wheat ear waves where
rich erewhile it grew.
And are there none who, versed in Nature’s lore,
|Might kindly stoop to guide the
Each fav’rite product of the clime explore,
And lend new vigour to th’ exhausted soil?
Proudly they fled who might have nobly staid,V
Lords of the rural dome and fair
|Have led the Muses through sylvan
And woo’d Improvement to the cultured plain,
Pride of the infant land, and patterns of the swain
Mould’ring beneath some tasteless peasant’s care,VI
Or waste and lone the Seigneur’s
|Sweet bard of Auburn! could’st thou
Ev’n thou might’st love to see the villas rise.
Yet ne’er may Grandeur stalk with giant stride,
And grasp with iron hand the wide domain,
To rear the dome of solitary pride,
|And " spurn the smiling cottage
from the plain,"
Lull’d to luxurious ease, or wrapt in cold disdain;
Or grinding Av’rice watch the time of need,
To seize with fox-like gripe the sacred soil,
(Heedless though Pity’s cherub accents plead)
To children hallow’d by their father’s toil;
Then bid the meads with fresher verdure shine,
The well-till’d fields with teeming plenty wave,
And—on his native plains the rustic pine
In vain, to share those stores his labour gave,
|Sigh at a tyrant’s pride, and sink
a cheerless slave.
For still his fields th’ unskilful toil repay,
Still swells the peasant’s heart to gladsome tone,
As the green blade salutes the vernal ray,
The labour his—the harvest too his own;
|He fears no rising rent—no landlord’s
And here perhaps might Av’rice frown in vain.
The wild deer flees to forests all his own,
Woods yet unknown, and fields untill’d remain,
And well the rustic race might spurn Oppression’s reign.
But tasks beyond her wasted plains demand
The hand of friendly aid and fost’ring care;
The lamp of knowledge dimly lights the land,
The years of childhood fleet neglected there;
Oh! is it Reason’s wish or Fancy’s dream,
|That hails the dawning of a lovelier
Where public-spirit blends its radiant beam
With Learning’s light and pure Religion’s ray,
Sweet as the blush of morn that gilds the wand’rer’s way!
When Worth and Taste shall grace the rural shade,
|And fan in vulgar breasts the patriot
To youthful eyes the page of knowledge spread,
And point to emulation merit’s claim;
And still with watchful eye and liberal hand,
Direct the stream of bounty where to flow,
|To lead Improvement o’er the
And bid the orphan’s grateful bosom glow,
Or cheer the heart of Age and Poverty and Woe.
And who each gen’rous aim shall dare arrest?
Blooms Science only for the cloister’s cell?
|Came Revelation to be wrapt in mist?
Oh! lift from Truth’s fair page th’ impending veil!
And lo, where Prejudice with squinting eye,
And Error limping from his shadowy cave,
And Ignorance, and Superstition fly,
|On sullen wing, beyond Ontario’s
There in congenial glooms to chaunt their spells, and rave.
Faded the splendid west—the breeze is still,
And silence slumbers on the vales around,—
When hark! at once, o’er echoing grove and hill,
|Rings on the ear the bugle’s
And nearer now, amid the twilight scene,
A passing troop wind o’er the hill’s steep brow,
Th’artill’ry’s wheels th’ attentive ear may ken,
And horses’ hoofs, with sounding pace and slow
|They pass the shadowy copse that
skirts the vale below.
Ye who have view’d assembled troops depart,
To seek their country’s foes from Britain’s shore,
Is there no soft emotion thrills the heart,
Or whispers, "Which of these returns no more?"
|Still where alarm has told of danger
And proud Invasion rear’d his threat’ning crest,
As on their route the guardian bands appear,
A keener feeling vibrates through the breast,
And swells the grateful tear of sadness unreprest
The fast-approaching scene of deathful strife,VII
A sanguine picture, rises on the view;
And something tells, "The flowery sweets of life
They leave to fight, to bleed, to die for you."
Uninjured still amid these smiling
|May patient Labour lead th’
But loud afar the sound of battle swells,
Nor guiltless waves the sabre of the foe,
Though Britain’s squadrons crowd to ward or meet the blow.
Full many a youth, th’ unconscious father’s boast,
|Stretch’d in the dust, shall bless
his sight no more;
And many a heart throbs high, on Albion’s coast,
For those who slumber on a foreign shore.
Oh! yet again return ye envied hours,
When faint as whispers of a distant stream,
|Amid these peaceful plains, and rural
Th’ alarm of war rung but in mem’ry’s dream,
The gossip’s wonder oft, and oft the old man’s theme!
Seen through the deep blue vault, thin sown and far,
Each spangling star its lonely lustre sheds;
|Floats not a cloud round Cynthia’s
Pure from her orb its mellow’d radiance spreads;
Soft round each painted cottage floats the beam,
Woods, hills, and vales reflect the checq’ring blaze;
Sparkles, in trembling light, the distant stream,
|And, frequent flashing on the
Bright o’er Heav’n’s farthest verge the lambent lightning
Is there an hour that boasts for Fancy’s child
A charm more soothing than the glare of day?
Is there a tranquil pleasure, chaste and mild,
|Beyond what Art could give or Pomp
Ye glades, where Mem’ry still delights to stray!
Scenes that full well might grace a loftier strain!
Oft have ye lured my wand’ring steps away,
Through the green copse or o’er the dewy plain;
|Sweet was the lonely hour—’tis
past—nor comes again!