The Emigrant Mechanic: A Tale Of Humble Life Book 7 Poem by Thomas Cowherd

The Emigrant Mechanic: A Tale Of Humble Life Book 7

O, Memory! What art thou? Whence thy power?
Thy wonders are displayed from hour to hour
Of my existence. By thy powerful aid
Sweet Childhood's scenes most truthfully are made
To pass before me in such vividness,
I stand amazed, and thy great skill confess!
By thy assistance, things long lost to view
Spring forth surprisingly-both fresh and new.
I travel back through more than thirty years,
With all their toils and pleasures, griefs and fears.
Go where I may, thou ever art with me,
As Counsellor and Friend, dear Memory!
Thy secret depths I would again explore,
And must draw largely ere my task be o'er.
Be thou no ignis fatuus to allure
Me from the paths of truth, nor it obscure,
While I attempt to paint the coming scenes,
Which COOPER passed through with such slender means,
'Tis early Spring-time, and the opening buds
Bestud the boughs of trees through all the woods.
The snow and frost remain till rather late;
But Sol's great power for this will compensate.
He, aided by soft winds and copious rain,
Will melt the snow, and break stern Winter's chain.
The Frost-King, thus so suddenly dethroned,
May vent his rage, as if a giant groaned;
Or muster scattered forces and come back
Once and again, to the repulsed attack!
And when he finds his efforts all in vain,
May hurl defiance on Spring's beauteous train;
And, from his region of eternal snow,
Send rude North winds to strike a deadly blow;
To nip the fairest blossoms in the bud,
And blast, in spite, the gardener's prospects good.
Yet One, Almighty, will his rage control;
His fiat has gone forth, 'Let Seasons roll
In quick succession, while the Earth endures!'
And this, great benefits to us secures.

The birds begin to pair; the grass to spring;
And Maple sap is scarce worth gathering;
Yet, when it won't make sugar, some prepare
Syrup, and vinegar, of flavor rare.
On every hand the brightly green-robed trees
May hear their finery rustling in the breeze;
And pleased, like mortals, with their gay attire,
May feel a strong, vain-glorious desire
To have a glass in which to view their charms,
Or mark the effect of each rude blast's alarms.
Some, far more highly favored than the rest,
Have such a mirror as may suit them best.
Of these are they which grow beside a stream,
And, all day long, of their own beautv dream;
Or those that grace the margins of a lake,
Whose face reflects the grand display they make.
Ah, these imaginings are far from just;
Fair Nature would much rather sink to dust
Than thus dishonor her great Maker's name!
And we, vain sinners, should be filled with shame,
To be so far behind in praises meet-
Neglecting duty that should still be sweet.
Up to this time our Emigrants contrived
To keep from debt, though they themselves deprived
Far, far too often, of substantial food-
Which, in the end, did them but little good.
Yet day by day they toiled with eagerness,
In hope that God would their joint efforts bless.

To build a barn of logs they now prepare;
This gives them much hard labor, and some care.
To put it up they call a 'Raising Bee;'
And, wishful to prevent ebriety,
They buy no whisky; but, instead of it,
Have cakes and coffee, which are far more fit.
The work was gone through in true Bush-man style,
Although a few assumed a scornful smile,
And would, no doubt, have been well satisfied
To have the liquor-jug still by their side.
This job completed, Spring work next came on,
And, truly, there was plenty to be done!
The man from whom they bought their 'Indian lease'
Had made brush fences, and there was no peace
From 'breachy' cattle, breaking through with ease,
To eat the crops as often as they please!
To cut down trees, and split them into rails
For laying fence, is work which seldom fails
The new Bush farmer, who must ever be
Upon the move, and used to industry.
Such was their case; and. Oh! the aching limb,
And sinking heart, as prospects grew more dim!

Anon, the sun shoots down such powerful rays,
As seems to set the air almost a-blaze!
They felt the previous Summer very hot;
But that, through Winter's cold, was quite forgot.
Besides, as yet 'twas Spring; then why this heat?
Their strength was small from lack of proper meat.
'Tis true, they did not want for daily bread;
But Bush-life should with stronger food be fed.
In lieu of tea, they used root sassafras
So much and often, that they all, alas!
Not only cleansed their moderate share of blood,
But thinned it far too much to do them good!
WILLIAM, especially, became so weak
He could scarce bear to work, or e'en to speak.
When he essayed to stoop, his back seemed broke;
And courage failed beneath the heavy stroke.

The different remedies which friends advised,
All failed to bring the health he so much prized.
His fond hopes crushed, he tried to bow his head,
Submissive to the will of Him who bled
For such poor sinners, on the 'cursed tree;'
And found some comfort in his misery.
One day his spirits sank extremely low-
And Faith, herself, fled from him in his woe;
When, like a flash of lightning, to his mind
A passage came, sent by his FATHER kind!
'Fight the good fight of Faith,' with magic worth
Rang through his soul, and very soon gave birth
To a most lively, energetic Song,
On Christian Warfare-in which he was long.
I give the verses, with an earnest prayer
That all my Readers may their spirit share,
And seek for grace to help them still to fight
The 'Fight of Faith,' as in their Maker's sight!

'Fight the Good Fight of Faith.'

Soldiers of Jesus! say-Where is your armor?
The word has gone forth; you are called on to fight!
Still doth the conflict grow warmer and warmer;
Then trust in your Captain for wisdom and might!

Soldiers of Jesus! mind well your behavior;
See those proud foes, how undaunted they stand!
Hark well to the words of your loving Savior:
'Be ye also ready!' Regard this command.

Soldiers of Jesus! O, be not alarmed!
Your glorious Captain has conquered them all!
Rouse, then, your courage! Be never disarmed!
Your enemies seek to accomplish your fall.

Soldiers of Jesus! Immanuel's banner-
Most glorious of Ensigns-is reared up on high;
Fight ye! O, fight ye! in soldier-like manner;
Jehovah, to help you, forever is nigh!

Soldiers of Jesus! the foes you contend with
Are subtle, expert, they are many and great;
Your armor's so tempered, that it will ne'er bend with
Being used well against them; nor early, nor late.

Take Breastplate of Righteousness-take Shield of Faith!
By which you are able to quench all the darts
Of your great Antagonist! For, so He saith
Who styles Himself 'Faithful,' and who strength imparts.

To these be there added 'Salvation's bright Helmet,
And Sword of the Spirit-the Word of your God.'
That God who your Foes with destruction o'erwhelmeth,
And rules both the Heavens and Earth with his nod.

Still praying 'with prayer and great supplication,
In the spirit of Truth, and watching thereto,
With all perseverence, for the edification
Of Brethren-the Saints,' who are Soldiers like you.

Soldiers of Jesus! now fight with all ardor
Beneath that bright Banner now high and unfurled!
O, doubt not but Jesus will be your Rewarder,
When from their proud standing your foes He has hurled!

Soldiers of Jesus! your Captain is waiting
To give you a Crown-a most glorious reward!
Forward! press forward! success contemplating;
He'll give you the Victory; this promise regard.

Soldiers of Jesus! behold Him descending
Upon a White Throne, His bright Angels around!
The 'glorified throng' are upon Him attending;
Before Him all Nations and Kindreds are found.

Hear those glad words, 'Come, ye bless'd of my Father!
Inherit the Kingdom prepared long for you!'
Then glory to Him and the Father together;
With the blest Holy Spirit, to whom it is due!

The composition of these lively verses,
Was made to him one of his greatest mercies;
They roused his courage by their warlike tone,
And made him feel he was not left alone
To fight against a host of watchful foes:
For One was with him who felt all his woes;
Who had Himself through every trial been,
And still is with his people, though unseen!
Such sweet reflections had this good effect
Upon his mind: they led him to respect,
More than he yet had done, pure Bible truth;
And thus he learned to bear Christ's yoke in youth.
His soul-so sensitive-was led, at last,
Her every grief, her every fear to cast
Upon her God, with simple faith-unfeigned;
And found His promise true; she was sustained.

His body still was weak; and on the farm
He could not work without receiving harm.
To be a clerk he was not now inclined-
'Twas not a life congenial to his mind;
To work at his own trade he thought was best,
Which thought to several friends he then expressed.
These all agreed it would be right to try
To find employment in the Village nigh.
In it was one who carried on the trade,
Who, to appearance, had a fortune made.
To him he then applied, with some success,
To get a job, and wrought with eagerness.
Alas! it only lasted for a week,
And he was thus compelled fresh work to seek.
That Brother, who before had stood his friend,
Now kindly offered ample means to lend
To start in business on his own account;
But COOPER dreamt he never could surmount
The difficulties which beset him round,
So inexperienced as he should be found.
The work required, to him, was mostly new,
And made up by machines, as well he knew.
To work with these must be his chief concern;
But where was he to go such work to learn,
Unless he made too great a sacrifice
Of Christian privilege? This, in his eyes,
Was of such moment, that he rather chose
To struggle with chill Want, and other woes,
Until such time as God saw fit to show
To him the path in which he ought to go.

Meanwhile, as tinker, he two irons took,
With solder, rosin, and the Christian's Book!
Equipped in this way 'mongst his friends he went,
And happy hours in work and trav'ling spent.
Of mending tins he had enough to do;
And got good board, and decent wages, too.
Ere long he visited more distant farms,
And found his calling not devoid of charms.
On Nature's varied face he still could gaze,
And each new scene presented fresh displays
Of God's Omnipotence and boundless love,
Which raised his thoughts from Earth to things above.
While, ever and anon, he found a friend
To give him work, and press on him to spend
The night, in comfort, 'neath his friendly roof;
And thus afford the most substantial proof,
That Human-kindness in its warmest glow
Wants but Occasion, its full worth to show!
Sometimes a Settler viewed him with suspicion,
And paused ere he would give the least permission
For him to enter his small, rude, log dwelling,
While WILLIAM'S heart was with keen feelings swelling.
Anon, a gentle word would turn the scale-
The man would list the youthful tinker's tale;
Would give a hearty welcome to his house,
And introduce him to his thrifty spouse;
Would bid her bring; that leaky pail, or pan,
Which had been tinkered by 'that other man,'
Who got from her the pewter spoons, and lead,
His supper, breakfast, and a nice clean bed;
Then took the metal every bit away,
Saying he got not half enough for pay!
When WILLIAM heard such things he did not wonder
That farmers, sometimes, looked as black as thunder
When he applied for work, or lodging sought
With earnestness, which fear of want had taught.
All he now earned went to the family store,
And thus he kept 'as poor as heretofore.

About this time, an invitation came
To their small Church, to spread Christ's glorious name.
Two Brethren were deputed each Lord's Day
To do the work, but not for worldly pay.
They tried to carry out the Lord's command,
Which few, in this our day, can understand:
'Freely ye have received-so freely give;
More blessed 'tis to give than to receive.'

On one of these occasions COOPER went
With a dear Brother, who to preach was sent.
That Brother was ta'en sick, and could not preach;
WILLIAM, in public, was not wont to teach.
But He, whose sacred name they bore, was there;
On Him the youth now strove to cast his care.
The school-room-such it was-was crowded quite,
Yet he felt nothing daunted at the sight.
'Twas well, perhaps, that every face was new
To him, and all the future hid from view;
For in that very room two maidens sate,
Both destined to be his in marriage state.
And greatly influence his future fate!
Had he known this-so sensitive was he-
It might have him unmanned to such degree,
As to prevent completely the discharge
Of duties which, to him, looked very large.
But as it was, he saw before him there
The old and young, whose looks bespoke some care
For their salvation. That most precious theme,
Of whose great worth the worldly-wise ne'er dream,
He with strong feelings urged upon them all;
And there were hearts responding to the call!
Such deep attention never had he seen
In any Meeting, in his life, I ween!
It thrilled his very soul, and made him speak,
In glowing language, of the Savior meek-
Whose love to sinners moved him to lay by
His own great Glory, and come here to die!
The good accomplished on that Sabbath day,
Ten thousand fold his labor did repay.
His unpremeditated preaching went
Home to some hearts-a Heavenly message, sent
By God's good Spirit, as a proof to be
Of Grace most wondrous to Eternity!

The simple service reached at last its close;
When the sick Brother to some hearers goes
To learn their welfare, and his own impart,
With strongest tokens of a friendly heart.
Those persons were both English-man and wife-
Who knew, for years, the toils of Bush-farm life.
To them was introduced the new-made preacher,
Just then mistaken for an older teacher.
Due explanations made, they him invite
To call and see them, and stay over night.
He, nothing loath, the invitation kind
At once accepted, with delighted mind.
The two return, and with their Brethren meet
To join in worship-simple, pure and sweet.

The incidents of that blest Sabbath day
Haunted his mind, till he could not delay
A visit to his new-made, kindly friends,
In hopes that it might tend to make amends
For great privations, every day endured,
Whilst but a mere subsistence was secured.
He therefore took his bag and tools once more,
To call at places never seen before.
He, in his wanderings, to a Village came,
Which had, for water-power, acquired some fame;
There he found work that did a day employ,
And learned what gave to him much greater joy-
How some five miles would bring him to the farm,
Where he might hope to meet a welcome warm.
Fatigued, he reached the house in strangest plight-
For sweat and dust made him a sorry sight.
The mother was engaged in converse there
With her first-born-a daughter blithe and fair.
These knew him not-so different his array
From What it was upon that Sabbath day.
And though he gave to each a friendly greeting,
It might have proved a rather chilly meeting,
Had not the youngest daughter whispered thus;
''Tis the young preacher come to visit us.'
This was enough; apologies were made,
And perfect welcome speedily displayed.
In sweet discourse they sat a little while,
When tea was served, in most superior style,
Cooper of such a meal had never tasted,
Since he from his dear native land had hasted.
This o'er, the conversation they resume,
While truth's clear rays afresh their minds illume.
This was to him a most important day;
For gloomy clouds then broke and fled away.
His future, once so dark, now brighter grew,
And filled his soul with gratitude anew.

That mother's care assigned him the 'best bed,'
On which to lay his weary limbs and head.
Most sweetly did the Wanderer sleep and rest,
As though by grief he ne'er had been oppressed,
He rose, refreshed, soon after break of day,
And thankfully his 'Orisons did pay.'

While these dear folks the breakfast were preparing,
He to mend leaky tins no pains was sparing.
For what he did he would not make a charge-
His Independence was a trait too large;
But that kind mother would not be repaid
In work or money for her love displayed.
She fixed the price-a very liberal one-
And paid the cash for all that he had done.
Perhaps my readers think this matron's eyes
Saw, in the tinker, a most likely prize
To win, as husband, for her daughter fair;
But surely they must be mistaken there!
This family's standing was considered good;
WILLIAM, amongst the very poorest stood:
And, in his tinkering garb, was not a match
For that fair girl, whom many strove to catch.
Let this be as it might; he left the house
Without proposing to make her his spouse.
Yet not without the strongest inclination
To make short intervals of separation.

Their daughter, Jane, was in her twentieth year,
And did to him a lovely maid appeal.
He knew her soon as skilled in house affairs,
But ever lacking vain, coquettish airs.
Her form was graceful, and of medium size,
And sweet good nature beamed in her bright eyes.
Her face, for most part, wore a pleasant smile,
While her dear heart ne'er harbored aught of guile.
Her charms were such that COOPER'S heart, ere long,
Could not resist their influence so strong.
Nor need we wonder much, for soon he learned
She had good offers, in great plenty, spurned,
Before she knew the Tinsmith-so forlorn-
Whose poor appearance ne'er drew forth her scorn.

Phebe, the youngest girl, was quite a lass,
Who might not yet have used a looking-glass.
Possessed of bright brown eyes and cheerful face,
On which, of sorrow, none could find a trace-
Unless her paleness might be viewed as such;
Yet all who read her eyes would doubt it much.
Of lively spirits, and most active turn,
Still fond of work, she could not fail to learn
Such household duties as her mother thought
Best that her girls should, in their youth, be taught.
To be a favorite, Phebe scarce could fail;
And parents rightly named her, 'Nightingale!'
For, while asleep, she oft would sing at night
Some lively tune, and always sing it right.
Between these two, in age and temperament,
Another girl was to that couple lent.
She, than her sisters, always seemed more shy,
At least, if strangers happened to be nigh.
All three grew up good-looking, and became
As faithful wives as e'er were known to fame.
One chubby babe, and three more sprightly boys,
Ranked 'mongst the number of this family's joys.

Meanwhile a curious incident occurred,
To mention which may harmless mirth afford.
Our hero long had wished to take a tour
Still further North, 'mongst farmers far from poor;
And when returning-say on Friday night-
To hold a meeting, if his friends thought right.
The place agreed upon was their 'large room'-
One large enough, if neighbors all should come.
This, settled, off he went for several days,
Toiling and sweating under Sol's strong rays.
Sometimes with Christians of most generous souls;
Anon, with those whose conduct him appals,
Till the important day at last came round;
When at a house, hard by, he tinkering found.
The work all done, they ask him to partake
Refreshment with them, for pure kindness' sake.
He thankfully complied with their request,
And found their cheer was of the very best.
The meal was served beneath a pleasant shade,
And he, to each good thing was welcome made.
Soon there rode by a gentleman well dressed,
And the host's daughter thus herself expressed:
'Most likely that's the Preacher just gone by;
He's dressed in black, and wears a white neck-tie.'
'Perhaps so,' said the father; ''tis the night
The Meeting's held, and they did us invite.'
WILLIAM, meanwhile, beheld the mother's eyes
Cast oft upon him; and, with some surprise,
She asked, 'Did you not preach a month ago
At the Plains School House?' He replied, ''Twas so.'
'And is it you that's going to preach ere long
At our near neighbors?' He asked, 'Is it wrong?'
'No; only-' There's the rub! O contrast great,
Betwixt the well-dressed man, and tinker's state!
To do them justice, 'tis but right to add-
They went to hear him, and for it were glad.

Ere many weeks he is prevailed upon
To take that kind friend's offer, and has gone
To Buffalo for tools; and on his way
Makes for Niagara, without delay.
Years he had longed to see that splendid sight,
And now this journey took with great delight.
'Twas in the month of August; when, he found
Himself for Lewiston, by steamer, bound.
The night he reached that was a sultry one-
And such excitement he had never known.
The room in which he tried to get some sleep
Had six poor drunkards in it! [Footnote: Fact] 'So, at peep
Of early dawn, he rose; then washed his face;
Paid off his bill, and strove his nerves to brace
By walking o'er the seen remaining miles,
With glowing feelings, and face clad in smiles.
O, what a morn was that! A cooling breeze
Blew from Ontario, and just moved the trees.
Around, no clouds obscured the bright, blue sky;
Yet o'er the Falls a mist was rising high!
He clomb the 'Mountain's' rugged, stony height,
And often turned to gaze with fond delight
Upon the scene before him. The blue Lake
One sheet of golden splendor! Sol, awake,
Had sent his rays athwart that inland Sea,
Ere He rose high, in glorious majesty!
On either hand lay woods, and fields of grain,
Stretched out, for miles, in one vast fertile plain.
Upon his left rose BROCK'S plain Monument;
By 'sympathy'-false named-now sadly rent!
The genuine fruit of murderous Civil war,
Whose dogs-let loose-stop not at Virtue's bar;
But oft, by their vile deeds, dare to pollute
What men most sacred deem as worth repute.
May thou, my dear, my own Adopted Land!
Ne'er hear again the tramp of hostile band;
Whether poured forth from neighboring foreign shore,
Or fruit of thy own sons' deep thirst for gore!
WILLIAM, arrived upon the mountain top,
Pauses not long; he had scarce time to stop.
He took the River bank, and there, below,
The wondrous rapids for the first time saw.
His thoughts and feelings would be hard to tell,
While he stood there-bound as by magic spell.
Ere long he felt a very strange desire
To brave that Water-Spirit's foaming ire!
And once or twice essay'd e'en to descend
The precipice's front, to gain his end!

'O for a bathe'-thought he-'in that pure stream!
Is it reality? or do I dream?
Am I now standing on Niagara's brink?
O that I could of its pure waters drink!'
Soliloquizing thus, a thundering sound
Broke on his ear, and noise of Rapids drowned!
Aroused by this, he hurried faster on-
The veil of mist his guide-until, anon,
He reached a bend, which brought before his view
The mighty Cataract's wonders, ever new;
Yet at such distance he could not well trace
The varied beauties of that matchless place!
Most eagerly he took the road again;
Nor paused to seek the company of men,
Who, reared amid these wonders, seldom feel
The deep emotions, or the fervid zeal
Which he then felt, as nearer still he drew,
And found his dreams of the Great Falls all true.
At last he stood there; and, in earnest, gazed
As though he could not weary: quite amazed
At the vast grandeur of the beauteous scene,
And half inclined to look on all as mean
That he had viewed before! Musing, he stood
Still as a statue, while the mighty flood
Dashed madly onward, as if eager still
To take the leap, obedient to God's will!

Again he's roused by shout, away below,
'Twas from a Boatman, anxious now to know
If he would cross to the Canadian side?
COOPER obeyed, with Fancy for his guide;
And soon was bouncing o'er the heaving deep,
Whose current forced the boat to take a sweep;
While, ever and anon, a dash of spray
Made wet his clothes, as would a rainy day.
They reached the landing; and he now has gone
To Table-Rock, and muses still alone.
The song which follows does express in part
The strong, warm feelings of his raptured heart:


Niagara! I hail thy magnificent wonders,
The work of my Father-the maker of All!
His voice 'tis I hear, in thy earth-shaking thunders,
As 'Deep unto Deep' every moment 'doth call!'
Waters rushing, always pushing
Over the ledge of crumbling rocks;
Ever leaping, never sleeping,
Sound His praise in ceaseless shocks.

Thy mist to my mind seems a Pillar enshrining
His All-glorious Presence, by day and by night!
Thy rainbows bespeak Him to Mercy inclining-
Though none who gaze on thee are clean in His sight!
Colors blending, mist ascending;
All are displaying His great power!
Rapids roaring, are adoring
Him-their Maker-every hour!

The myriads of pearls, and bright emerald glories,
Encircling thy brow, 'midst the foam and the spray,
Unite in presenting the most vivid stories
Of splendor and riches which He can display!
Pearls descending, without ending,
Down that giddy precipice,
Seem deriding our vain pride in
Works which can't compare with this.

The trees on thy banks look like worshippers standing,
To pay at Thy shrine their just tribute of praise;
And loudly, indeed, are their voices demanding,
That man unto God his sweet anthems should raise!
Each tree growing, oft is bowing,
Lowly its tall majestic head;
Man, still scheming, 's seldom dreaming
Of this feast before him spread!

My soul, quite enraptured, could stay here forever,
And drink in thy beauties with constant delight;
But something within me is whispering, 'Never
Be so taken up with sublunary sight!'
Paths of Duty should have beauty
More than what I find in thee;
For thy glories tell no stories
Of some things worth much to me.

But yet I can gaze on thy dazzling brightness-
Thy rainbows, thy pearls, thy clear emerald green;
On rapids still toss'd into foam of pure whiteness;
On falls the most glorious that Earth has e'er seen!
Strength acquiring, in admiring
All as the matchless work of God;
Can, with pleasure, leave such treasure,
And my journey onward plod.

Around the Falls he lingered till past noon,
And still felt grieved to have to leave thus soon.
So loath was he a single charm to miss,
He oft went down and up the precipice,
By means of spiral stairs which constant shook,
As if by palsy-fit they had been struck.
The engine's whistle warns him now to go,
And take the cars for rising Buffalo.
In that new City he arrived ere night,
Which gave to him but very small delight.
Tools soon he found-sold only by the set;
And with his funds, the price could not be met.
Here was a fix! Naught for him now remained
But to return, with just his pleasure gained!
This, as an offset, stood against the debt
He had incurred, and kept him from a fret.
Once more I pause, but with a hope quite strong,
That I may soon resume my simple song.

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