The Emigrant Mechanic: A Tale Of Humble Life Book 8 Poem by Thomas Cowherd

The Emigrant Mechanic: A Tale Of Humble Life Book 8

Hail, Hope! thou gem-decked Maid, with features fair!
Fairer than fabled goddesses of air.
I still regarded thee as sprung from God;
As sent to us from his divine abode,
With the sweet sisters, holy Faith and Love,
That favored mortals might your virtues prove.
Led on by thee, we pass through heavy trial,
Requiring ever constant self-denial,
Unscathed, yet ridded of defiling dross,
To find ourselves the better for its loss.
Prompted by thee, we scale vast mountain heights;
Or take to Earth's far bounds most rapid flights;
Face dreadful storms; yea, greatest dangers brave,
And, unappalled, view the deep, yawning grave!
In every age thy praise have Poets sung;
Throughout the world thy praise has loudly rung
So much and often, that I need not dwell
Upon thy worth: for it were hard to tell
The millionth part of good thou hast achieved;
By finite man it cannot be conceived!
Thy sovereign virtues WILLIAM deeply felt,
Howe'er engaged, and wheresoe'er he dwelt.
In constant toil, and chilled by Penury,
He knew 'twas blessed to be cheered by thee.
Thou madest him content in low estate,
And for Prosperity to patient wait;
Till some, who thought his course deserved much blame,
Were led to full approval of the same.

More weeks went past, and his kind patron bought
Both tools and stock; when he with vigor wrought
In a small shop, and did his best to give
Due satisfaction, and made out to live.

Throughout the country nothing now was heard
Save talk of Civil war; yet undeterred
Was he, by what was going on around,
From his employment; and kept gaining ground.
The village of brave Soldier's was quite full,
And they, alone, made business far from dull.
When he at first commended, he made a rule
For which some folks then deemed him quite a fool
To make good work and cheap, and have his pay
For all he sold; and this he did always.
He had been taught to look Honesty
As the best part of Business policy;
And his experience fully proved the truth
Of that old maxim learned in early youth.

Meanwhile, as worldly prospects brighter grew,
To marriage state he turned his thoughts anew,
And made proposals for that lovely maid;
Nor was disapprobation once displayed
By either parent, who gave full consent,
As she, to marry him, was quite content.
Though not a 'first love,' their's remained still true,
And smoothly ran-was ever fresh and new!

His humble home, and shop, were all in one,
And looked, to others' eyes, most woe-begone!
It was for business truly quite unfit;
Yet customers still found their way to it.
Back from the street-up some half dozen stairs-
Two boards, on barrels, held his shining wares!
On one side high-the other very low-
And all unplastered; it was quite a show!
At one end stood his bench, and close beside it
Lay his rude couch; let not the rich deride it!

At times, he rose from off that humble bed
With a fair snow-wreath close about his head!

One bitter night, some loyal Volunteers
Were quartered on him; and he told his fears,
That much of comfort could not there be found,
In such a room, with all his fixtures round.
One made reply which went to WILLIAM'S heart,
And proved that man had 'chosen the good part'-
''Tis better,' said he, 'than our Savior had;
Of such a lodging He would have been glad!'

Our hero, with his hand-tools got along,
At best, but slowly; and sometimes went wrong.
It was no easy thing to ascertain
What kind of goods a ready sale would gain.
His brother Tinsmith showed no friendly spirit;
He deemed him far too low in workman-merit!
And threatened vauntingly to drive him out:
But God's rich blessing compassed him about!
His patterns he contrived, as best he could;
And every month, as tradesman, firmer stood.
His constant visits to his future bride,
Much of sweet pleasure every time supplied.
Rare worth and beauty did the maid possess;
To see her was to taste of happiness!
She was too lovely, and too gentle, far,
For one whose mind was very oft ajar;
So humble, that she left her father's house,
With all its comforts, to become his spouse.
The home which he for that fair girl provided,
By most young lasses would have been derided.
'Twas just the farthest half of his rude shop,
Lined with planed boards on all sides, and the top;
Quite small in size, 'twas amply furnished,
With stove, three chairs, a table, box and bed!

In March, his natal month, through sleet and rain,
He bore his wife, who did not once complain.
No wedding jaunt could their small means afford,
Yet they had pleasure in true love's accord;'
And what they lacked in way of outward show,
Was quite made up by warm affection's glow.
They were a happy couple, with warm hearts:
Both striving eagerly to act their parts.
If ever twain were blended into one,
'Twas in their case, as all who knew them own.
He, working soon and late to rid his debt;
She taking care of all he chanced to get.
And, with sweet smiles upon her face,
Dispelling of despondency each trace.

Too soon, the place in which their bliss begun.
Was made too hot by our Canadian sun.
A Bakery below, Sol's rays above,
With heat from stove made them most glad to move.
They next obtained a shop which answered well;
For all he made, they could most freely sell.
This place, however, they were forced to quit
In three months after they had entered it.
More than one person had on it a claim,
And each law-suit fanned their litigious flame,
Until at length it went to Chancery,
And that sage Court could on this thing agree-
To have it closed forthwith! And thus our friends
Were forced to move, once more, to gain their ends.
Each move brought double rent; but this became
A thing remembered only by its name.
Trade still increased, as did Experience, too,
And WILLIAM now had more than he could do.
But by this time he had assistance found
In his wife's brother, as apprentice bound;
A youth most active, and good-natured, too,
Who took delight in what he had to do.
The shop to which they went-last on the street-
Was, as a residence, to them most sweet.
Almost in front, a river calmly flowed;
Close by, a plain wood bridge the stream bestrode.
There, he could stand at his shop door and view
A scene which called up feelings ever new.
Above the bridge, for nearly half a mile,
It is most lovely, clad in Summer's smile.
Tall trees, of various kinds, its margins grace,
While it flows on, with ever gentle pace,
Past two small islands; each one like a gem
Set in the stream so softly passing them.
There, often has he sat, on summer's eve,
With his fair bride, both loath the scene to leave.
Lit up by Luna's beams, 'twould larger seem,
And scope afford for sweet poetic dream.
One island he would picture as the site
Of a neat mansion, where he might, at night,
Retire from business cares to take a boat.
And on the surface of the river float
With his most charming-his most loving wife;
Content to leave behind all worldly strife.
Such freaks would Fancy play, when he inclined
To let her reign sole Monarch of his mind!
Yet, when the spell was broke, the sweets of home
Were such, that from them he ne'er wished to roam.
And thus days, weeks and months most smoothly passed,
Till Winter came, each beauteous scene to blast.
Now, with new hopes, alas! came fears as well,
The strength of which it is not mine to tell.
But those who once have fond, young husbands been,
May well conceive what hopes and fears I mean.
Scarce bad December sealed the Frost-King's reign,
Ere these true hearts a Love's-pledge did obtain.

Protracted labor, bringing sore distress,
Came nigh extinguishing their happiness!
This oft led WILLIAM to the Mercy Seat;
And, oh, his visits there were truly sweet!
Nor was it vain; two precious lives were spared,
And the young parents were, afresh, prepared
To grapple with their duties-growing large-
Conscious of weakness in their full discharge.
The babe proved cross and fretful; and, for years,
Frequent convulsive fits filled them with fears;
And quite unfitted her, in after life,
For bearing a just share of toil and strife.
This proved an exercise for faith and prayer,
Until the fully felt that God's kind care
Would be extended o'er their suffering child;
And this thought made their souls more reconciled,
To bear with patience this great, frequent trial,
Which called on them so much for self-denial.

A growing interest now in Church affairs
Filled that young father's mind with weighty cares.
At this my readers need not be surprised;
Nor should my notice of it be despised.
That Church on Scripture truth had ta'en its stand,
And wished to bend alone to God's command-
To copy, in their government, the plan
Marked out by Christ, when first His Church began.
Now they sought one well qualified to take
The Elder's office-not for lucre's, sake,
Nor 'as a lord o'er God's own heritage'-
But one who humbly would, with warmth, engage
To do His bidding, and bear peaceful rule
O'er that small Church-that it might prove a school
For Saints to grow in strict conformity
To God's just will-as they that will may see.

One soon they found, who had for years been tried:
Who by Paul's test was willing to abide;
Well knowing the advice which he had given
To Ephesian Elders; and how he had striven
To labor with his hands for the support
Of self and friends, oft made the worldling's sport.

Let none imagine that this flock obtained
Another's labor for some selfish end;
Large sums they raise to help the suffering poor,
And freely give of their superfluous store
To send the Bible into heathen lands-
And that while all are laboring with their hands.
This testimony I would bear of them;
'Tis strictly true, whoever may contemn.

As deacons they chose WILLIAM and another,
Who was regarded as a worthy brother.
In God's pure sight they viewed themselves unfit
For such high office; yet accepted it
In deference to their brethren, who made choice
Of them at once, without dissenting voice.
'Twas thus it came that he had many cares,
Beside his family's and trade's affairs.
In preaching now he took his regular turn,
And, though but weakly, did with ardor burn
To tell poor sinners of a Savior's love,
Or Saints instruct in lessons from Above.
He 'midst those labors found, with sore distress,
A constant warfare mar his happiness.
Dyspepsia-fell disease-his stomach seized,
And, like a demon, would not be appeased;
But made his temper, far too quick and warm,
By frequent outbursts often work him harm.
This grieved the heart of his beloved wife,
And might have led to constant family strife,
Had not the Lord to him his folly shown,
By greater chastisement than he had known.

And now our friends possessed sufficient means
To pay their debt, or purchase those machines
Which tinsmiths use; and WILLIAM asked his friend
If he, conveniently, could longer lend
What they were owing him? His kind reply
Led COOPER soon the needful tools to buy.
This was an era in their history,
And they most gladly work more actively
In manufacturing their humble wares,
Or giving to old things their due repairs.
While freely pushing their close labor through,
They still found plenty for the two to do;
Which called on them for greater thankfulness
To their kind God, who did their business bless.
While thus engaged, pray tell me where's the wrong,
If they should sing the following 'Tinsmith's Song?'


What though our bench labor rob us of the favor
Enjoyed by the farmer, 'midst fair Country scenes;
What though 'tis confining to make up tins shining,
There's naught in the trade which our conduct demeans,
Then ply the shears, since it appears
That our calling is honest and fair;
Yet take good heed, lest, in our speed,
We should send from our hands leaky ware!

In using the folder we then may grow bolder,
And form and groove pans with our consciences clear;
Drive each of the turners with skill beyond learners,
And put in stout wire with our hearts full of cheer.
Then take a burr and make it whirr,
As the bottoms spin round like a 'top;'
And fit these tight, which is but right
If we wish a good name for the shop.

In this case the setter will do the work better,
And strong double seams will repay all our pains;
But slight not the soldering, or customers ordering
Their work at our hands will begrudge us our gains.
This we can do and yet push through
Quite a good share of labor each day,
And in our sales of pans or pails
Boldly ask those who buy for our pay.

We thus may be working, no selfishness lurking
Within, though the weather be cloudy or cold;
And lawfully striving our trade still be driving
From far better motives than mere thirst for gold.
Then we may serve and never swerve
From strict duty's plain, straightforward path,
Our country's weal with fervid zeal
By skill which each artisan hath.

O! then our bench labor may bring us the favor
Of a jaunt now and then midst the forests and fields,
Which pleasure so joyous can never annoy us,
If health and contentment it constantly yields.
Then ply the shears, since it appears
That our calling is honest and fair;
Yet take good heed lest in our speed.
We should send from our hands leaky ware.

And now these parents' hearts were rendered glad
By a sweet babe as ever parents had;
A lovely boy, a precious first-born son,
An April flower ere Spring had well begun.
Thus were their family and cares increased
While pleasure was not lessened in the least.
But a few months were destined to disclose
A lengthy list of what some think are woes.
Three serious accidents that year befel
His aged father, and 'twere hard to tell
The weary months of suffering he endured
Ere loss of limb to him relief procured.
Their patron, too, was by sore sickness brought
Down to death's door, as all who saw him thought
WILLIAM at last was on a sick-bed thrown
For many weeks, and then was fully shown
The fervent love and patience of his wife
Increasing still through years of after life.
Bereft of reason, as his friends declared,
Rich consolation he at all times shared.
Death-man's 'last foe'-for him no terrors had,
His blighted prospects did not make him sad.
To leave his wife and babes he was resigned,
And this while all deemed him of unsound mind.
The tempter, true, his faith and feelings tried,
But his suggestions met 'God will provide.'
This simple text was strong enough to stay
Each wavering thought that rose from day to day.

The time when he fell sick was in the Fall,
When lively business made most pressing call.
And yet he was enabled to abide
Content with this, 'Jehovah will provide,'
Ev'n so he did, and that in wondrous way,
For his wife's brother worked both night and day,
A striking instance of unselfishness
But rarely seen in youths of such a class.

Though outward things looked dark, this chastisement
Was plainly from a loving father sent;
And they saw constant reason to rejoice
That what is painful might be made their choice.
For, while it weaned their thoughts from things of earth
It made them prize the more their heavenly birth.
And ev'n their fond affection for each other
Was purified from that which tends to smother
The noblest energies of Christian souls,
And far too often their best thoughts controls.
This sickness showed, and that most strikingly,
How good a nurse this faithful wife could be.
Through all her trials she was quite resigned,
And not one murmuring thought rose in her mind.
A more attentive or enduring nurse
I'm very sure ne'er shone in poet's verse.
When his recovery was manifested
Her love and patience were severely tested.
For calomel caused him such great distress
He was oft found in fits of fretfulness.
But yet she meekly bore with his caprice
And her self-sacrifice did never cease.

He, when restored again to perfect health,
Grew far more conscious of the store of wealth
By him possessed in having such a wife
To act as helpmate through the storms of life.
And not long after, when their lovely boy
Was very sick, he did his skill employ
To soothe her sorrows by an artless lay
Exhorting her to make God's love her stay;
And holding up to view Heaven's perfect bliss,
He aimed to show that naught can come amiss
To those who all their hopes on Jesus rest,
And 'seek through His Atonement to be bless'd.'

Their child restored, their joys again increase,
For God's sweet service yields them constant peace.
He, constantly employed in hard bench work,
Let not a thirst for wealth within him lurk,
And was enabled to preserve his mind
So free from care that, when he felt inclined,
He could with ease bring all his thoughts to bear
On Scripture truths, and each with each compare,
Or let his fancy take her random flight
To bring from Dreamland some new-coined delight.
At other times would raise his tuneful voice
And sing sweet hymns which long had been his choice,
Or else recite some charming poetry
With touch of skill and much of energy.
At times his spouse, too, did her sewing bring,
And joined harmoniously God's praise to sing.
Thus mostly passed their time for months and years
In bliss too great to last, as it appears.
Meanwhile their debt most honestly was paid,
By which then prospects were much brighter made.
Yet gratitude glowed brightly in each heart,
To him who acted such a friendly part
As to lend money and then wait for years
In patience for the payment of arrears.

About this time they visited 'The Falls,'
As business was not urgent in its calls.
WILLIAM felt joyful in no trifling measure
With such a wife to share so great a pleasure,
And gladly spent his money and his time
To view with her that scenery sublime.
This jaunt gave both the most heartfelt delight,
And furnished her the first and only sight
She ever had of wonders there displayed,
Which were in Spring's fresh beauty then arrayed.
They stood and gazed, or sat in shady place,
With glowing feelings pictured in each face.
He greatly longed to have a dwelling near,
That he might oftener view scenes grown so dear.
But family needs would force themselves on him,
And those bright visions very soon grew dim.
Yet he inquiry made of settlers round
To learn what prospects then might there be found
Of earning a just living at his trade;
But this quite threw the project in the shade.
Then he thought fit to let 'well be' alone
Till clearer light should on the scheme be thrown.
Hopes next arose that he might yet revisit
Once every year, with pleasure more exquisite,
Those grand, unrivalled Falls with her he loved,
More lovely still now that her love was proved.
The sequel shows how little we foresee
Of good or evil in our destiny.
'Tis right; and this should make us place our trust
In God, our Father, ever wise and just.
Since naught can happen without His permission
Who orders our affairs with wise precision.

At the appointed time they home returned,
While love for it more strongly in them burned.
One Winter and two Summers now had passed
Since a fine boy upon their care was cast.
Again stern winter came, with cloudy skies
And howling blasts like some fell demon cries.
Dark, chill November had been ushered in,
With much of elemental strife and din,
When came another daughter, bright and fair,
To charm the hearts of that still loving pair.
The new come love pledge, as time swiftly flew,
In sweetest bands their souls more closely drew.
Increasing means more household comforts brought,
Not greatly coveted if they were sought.
They asked God day by day for such supplies
Of worldly blessings as He deemed most wise,
Took those most thankfully He kindly sent,
And with their lot, for most part, were content.
'Tis true that COOPER wished to spend more time
For the improvement of himself in rhyme,
But greater duties had a higher claim,
Neglect of which would bring upon him blame.
He therefore kept his muse in close subjection,
And gained God's blessing and most kind protection.
Yet now and then his pent up feelings broke
Through all restraint, and his rude harp awoke
To pour forth numbers with intent to cheer
Parents or friends, who lent a willing ear
To his effusions, void of learning's grace,
But full of feeling, which supplied its place.

Another Spring and Summer passed away,
Then Autumn, too, and Winter held the sway;
While January, when half its course was run,
Brought to our friends a second infant son.
Two of each kind parental love now claim,
As sharers of their destiny and name;
While years of happiness might seem in store
For, prosperous still, they loved each other more.
That season was their best in way of trade,
And thus their prospects wore no darkening shade.

Satan-arch enemy of all mankind-
Beheld with envy their true peace of mind,
And most maliciously employed his skill
To work them woe-defiant of God's will.
Their worldly property he did not touch,
For loss of this would not be felt so much
As trouble with their brethren in the church,
Severed from whom they might be left in lurch.
His plan succeeded, as I know too well,
For some deemed wise were held as by a spell
In hands of strongest preconceived opinion,
While Ignorance held them in his dominion.
WILLIAM had seen this long, and mourned in soul,
With such emotion as scarce brooked control,
And, knowing that they held it just and right
For all to seek increasing Scripture light,
He, in the search for truth, gave up his mind,
And was well pleased some few choice pearls to find.
These lustrous gems he had no wish to hide,
So held them up to view, and earnest tried
To lead his brethren to approve their worth;
But such a course gave to contention birth.
Nor was it long before occasion came
For those opposed to lay upon him blame,
The end of which was that they did him sever
From sweet communion with their church forever!
Under this blow he tried to bear up well,
But all he suffered 'twould be hard to tell.
His spouse and parents with him sympathised
And broke the bands which each so long had prized.
Naught now remained for them but to unite
In holy fellowship with purer light.
Soon some few other friends who knew their case
Their humble cause did with much warmth embrace.
One with our hero labored in the Word
With what small skill and time he could afford.
Things went on smoothly for about a year,
And some success did much their hearts to cheer.
Ere long, however, troubles unforeseen
Burst on the little band with shafts so keen
That WILLIAM'S faith and strength were sorely tried,
And with his lot he was dissatisfied.
One of the flock was easily led astray,
And self-indulgence held him in its sway.
Two others left because a change of view
Made several seek to be baptized anew.

Slow passed another very trying year,
And thick gloom gathered, filling them with fear.
Our friend was sick from an unquiet mind,
While Comfort-wonted guest-he failed to find.
At last his loved, his idolized wife
In her accouchment left this mortal life.
Schooled long, he firmly bore this heavy stroke,
And bowed his head submissive 'neath God's yoke.
This brought him peace, and his sad muse ere long
Found utterance in the following mournful song:


Awake, my harp! give forth in solemn time
Thy sweetest numbers in harmonious rhyme.
'Tis time to bid my dormant powers arise,
Yet I would first dry up my weeping eyes.
My full charged bosom heaves, and oh, how slow
Conflicting thoughts in well timed numbers flow.
Cease, rebel feelings, cease your dreadful strife;
The theme's my love, the partner of my life.
Her portrait is before me, and that smile
Upon her features playing, shows no guile.
What were thy thoughts, my loved one, on that day
The artist's skill did our joint forms portray?
Thou wast not then so foolish as to deem
An early death a vain or idle dream.
We oft had converse on that mournful theme,
As oft looked forward to the solemn day
When death, grim monster! should tear one away.
I thought my time most surely first would come,
And thou, expected'st, first to reach thy home!
Thus were we apt to number out our days,
And oft together led to seek God's ways.
Most unfeigned pleasure did we take in this,
And gained as fruit sweet tastes of heavenly bliss.
Now, my belov'd one, thou art gone from me
And our dear little ones! Oh! can it be?
The sad reality comes o'er my mind.
Thou'rt gone indeed, and we are left behind.
Oh for that faith of which thou wast possessed,
As thy pure spirit strove to gain her rest.
Oh for that patience which thou didst display
Beneath our Father's hand to thy last day.
Methinks that thou art whispering in my ear:
'Let God's sure promises thy spirit cheer;
'Remember that our Jesus is the same
'To all whose trust is in His precious name.
'A few short days, perchance, or months, or years,
'May flee away; yet he will still thy fears
'And bear thee up as if on 'eagle's wings,'
'Far, far above the reach of earthly things.
'Remember what thou didst to comfort me;
'Thou hast God's word, the same it is to thee.
'Let fervent prayer ascend to God above;
'He'll deign to listen for He still is love.
'Rouse then, thy courage, let thy faith be strong,
'Let Hope, 'an anchor sure,' to thee belong.
'The time's not distant we again shall meet
'To part no more. This is a thought most sweet.
'But yet in patience do thy soul possess,
'And wait God's time, and then He will thee bless.'
Enough my loved one, I will haste away
To do my duties without more delay.
And trust in God who can fresh strength impart
To me to serve him with a perfect heart.

Here, then, kind reader, I must close my lay,
As other duties call me now away.
If you've had patience to go with me through
My lengthened tale, I bid you warm adieu.
If my small learning has called forth a sneer,
Know you from such things I have naught to fear.
For what is written I have this defense:
My song at least lacks not for common-sense.

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