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A village rises soon---and from afar,
At briefer pauses comes the settler's car.---
And he that stands upon a hill may trace
In the vast forest many an opening space,
And many a cabin smoke that curls beside
Some navigable river's onward tide.
But not even yet has the fierce strife gone past ;---
Long will the savage war-whoop load the blast,
Long must they bleed on many a battle plain,
Ere the heroic Clarke---the headlong Wayne,
The chivalrous and gallant Harrison,
Have at their lives extremest peril won,
An empire's safe domain, where once the eye
But savage man and savage nature could descry.
But then like waves across a dyke's sharp edge,
They broke above the Alleghany's ridge;
And every pass that scams their lengthened crest,
Poured its vast surge of life into the West.
Felons below the law, and priestly feet
Bringing the gospel to their cabins, met.
Adventurers, that sought they knew not why,
A better fortune 'neath a friendlier sky-
The restless and the needy and the brave,
Such as with David thronged Adullam's cave-
Those beating 'gainst the bars of custom, here
Found for their lawless energies fit sphere.
And debt drove some, and idle fancy led,
Others, to lands so bountiful of bread,-
And some with swelling spirit came to find
A wider action for an ardent mind.
All countries and all classes--worst and best-
Sent tribute streams of life into the West.
The Frenchman lingers in the regions yet,
Where sleeps thy consecrated dust, Marquette!
The Swiss from his warm vales was lured away,--
And the grapes cluster o'er a new Vevay.
From many a cottage door at day's decline,
Thy native songs are heard, remembered Rhine.
The church-the school-house rose--the safest "towers
Along the steep," against barbaric powers.
And science mourns, and long will mourn the day,
That closed upon thy death, accomplished Say!
Lo! a new comer! In the forest where
The smoke hangs doubtful ere it melts in air,
Dwelt one in middle life, whom leagues of wood
Divided from a neighbor's brotherhood;---
A stern, hard visaged man---silent--severe---
Who deemed unmanly either smile or tear;-
Of Puritanic stock,-and nobler stem
Ne'er gave its children to a diadem.
And ever in his cabin, at the shut
And dawn of day, a prayer to heaven was put,-
His decent rule brought from Connecticut.
An honest, true conservative he was,
Of holy customs and of ancient laws;
Did fear his God---honor the Catechism--
Born for a ruling elder and the scourge of schism.
Whence round that forest home a garden's bloom?---
A rose bush so arranged that it may veil
The stump of a huge oak?---vines taught to trail
Around the window, throwing twilight gloom,
Which is not gloom, into the quiet room?---
The hand of woman hath been here;---and lo!
Forth from her door, as sinks the twilight slow,
She goes, her boy with the elastic glow
And step of earliest childhood at her side.
Unwillingly his steps for her's abide.
Now hastes he on before, in eager chase
Of the lithe squirrel startled from its place,---
Now hides behind some woodland covert---then,
Half seen---bounds, shouting to her side again.
His open features glow with changing smiles,
His joyous brain teems with all winning wiles;---
Yes, pluck the flower, sweet child! which heaven hath taught
Beside the oak's moss-covered roots to blow,
And give it to thy mother. Heed it not,
Although a tear may dim the sudden glow
Of smiles upon her face, when she shall lift
Her boy and bless his full heart-prompted gift.
And go and meet thy father as he comes,
Weary, out of the forest's lengthening glooms,
His axe laid on his arm---his labor done---
And looking onward to his wife and son.
Sweet is their evening meal,---the prayer at eventide---
And blessings like the heavens above their home abide.
But though the father's love be pure and strong,
Stern are his features towards his child and long.
A carnal pleasure would it be to smile,
When the young child with childhood's artless glee,
Bounds from the mother to the father's knee,
And makes him all forget his wasting toil the while.
Yet still his heart of hearts clings to the boy,
His morning's music and his evening's joy.
Unwitting, oft he blesses God for such
Deep love, but prays that he love not too much-
And oft with lectures grave will teach his wife,
Not in their boy to garner up her life.
With much of trust-more pride-within his mind, He deems himself to every lot resigned.
Alas! too soon the father's stoic pride,
Is in its testing, fiery, baptism tried.
Disease floats in the evening's grateful chill;-
His child exposed hath breathed it. Faint and still,
Its limbs so firm, elastic once-now lie,
And languish on the bed—and hot and high
The fevered pulses rush. His panting breast
Heaves with the breathings of unquiet rest.
The weeping mother leans o'er him and prays-
The father watches with a steadfast gaze,
But dares not pray-the father dares not think,
How near his child slides on life's icy brink.
Yet his hard hand grows tender as it moves
To raise the drooping head of one he loves.
With anxious looks which his own tongue denies,
He gives each drug his meagre skill supplies;
And the dawn finds him bent and watching yet,
Where he bent watching when the evening set.
But all in vain. The morning's sun may rise,
Shut are its splendours from the sick child's eyes.
The morning wind blows freshly-but its dim,
Fresh breath cools not the heat that parches him.
Slowly its waning life must fail and fade,
As fails the sick-lamp's glimmer-till their child is dead.
Frantic, the mother's sobs gush forth,-
The father's; he not yet hath felt the blow-
But calmly on the monumental sleep
Of that sole child so dear, can look, nor weep-
With his own hand can decently compose
Its limbs-kneel with his wife amid their woes,
And utter prayers resigned and calm;-then goes,-
No neighbor near to give his needful aid-
Into the neighboring forest with his spade,
And 'neath an ancient tree-a lonely place-
He digs his infant's grave with tearless face.
In its lone grave.--The father's hand must throw
The earth upon the coffin laid below.
With clasping hands they kneel above their child
And pray that God may make them reconcil'd.--
"Thy will be done."-Alas! the father's heart
Knew not how deep had struck the fatal dart.
In vain would he suppress them-sobs will choke
His struggling words-his human strength is broke.
At the volcanic anguish that outgushed
From one so self-sustained and stern,
From one so little apt to mourn,
With outward grief, the mother's grief was hushed.
Slowly his thoughts and feelings ever moved,
Till all was o'er he knew not how he loved.
But now the immeasurable sorrow rolled,
A deluge o'er him-dark and uncontrolled.
His child--his sole and only-is it gone!
One thought is in his heart-my son!-my son!
Would I had died for thee, beloved one!
Till now he knew not how the day was cheer'd
By his child's presence--how his home endear'd—
How every childish tone and playful wile
Sunk on his soul like heaven's own blessed smile.
Yet calmly from his manhood to his age,
He walks with faithful steps life's pilgrimage-
Faithful to life's great duties-quick to share
The sorrows or the joys that others bear.
And throngs of such,-the true world-builders-press,
To the retirements of the wilderness;---
And such the men, by life's great trials taught,
And with a calm and holy wisdom fraught,
Prepared, wisely, an empire's bounds to trace,
Safely, to lay a solid empire's base.
Still throngs the incoming crowd;---with busy axe
They mine the forest---turn the Indian tracks
To roads--and, toiling 'gainst the river's swell,
The weary boatmen tug at the cordelle..
The hills, whose sides the ripening harvest browns,
Are turreted with thick and shining towns.
On every hill, in every vale they rise,
And through them with his arklike wagon plies
The pedlar, with a richly various stock,
School-book, and bible, hat, tin-ware, or clock;
And trainbands gather in the grassy squares,
By titled captains marshalled for the wars.
Nor war alone into these haunts intrudes,---
Religion has her camps amid the woods.
Now that the leaves are greenest,---whence the light
That trembles through the forest and the night?
A little nearer!---and the gathering sound---
The voice of a great multitude ascends
Amid the old primeval silence round,
As incense to the heaven that o'er it bends.
Approach and join the forest worshippers.
The trees within the encircling tents uprise,
Mast-like, with straight, shorn shafts, towards the skies,
And in their broad and tufted summits stirs
The night breeze, "wandering at its own sweet will,"
Though all below, like ocean depths, is still.
Lamps in the leafy vaults are hung, whose light
Shuts out the moving moon and stars that go
Evenly along their way, obscured and white,
Shining with tranquil beam on all below.
And ranged in thick full ranks, with eager ear,
A thin, grayheaded man the people hear.
There in the midst of heaven's great works, his word
Is of their dying Saviour---risen, Lord.
No rhetorician's art taught him the tone,
That melts into each bosom, though 'twere stone.