Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

if they did these things, the Great Spirit would be angry with them, and would not prosper them, but bring trouble on them. On the contrary, if they were careful to refrain from these evils, then would he love them, and prosper them, and speak peace to them. And when the interpreter expressed these things to them in their own language, they wept till tears ran down their naked bodie

“ They manifested much love towards me in their way, as they did mostly to upright, plain-dealing Friends; and whilst I was amongst them my spirit was very easy: nor did I feel that power of darkness to oppress me, as I had done in many places amongst people calling themselves Christians.Journal of John Richardson, one of the early Frends.

They read of rapine, war, and woe,

A party by an English fire, Of Indian warfare in the wood,

or stern and ruthless ire. They read of turture worse than death

Of treachery dark- of natures base Of women savage as the beast

Of the red Indian race. “ Hold!" said the matron of the hearth,

A woman beautiful in age ; “ And let me of the Indian speak;

Close, close that faithless page!

“ My father was the youngest born

In an old rural English hall;
The youngest out of five stout sons,

With patrimony small.
“ His boyhood was in greenwood spent;

His youth was all a gylvan dream; He tracked the game upon the hills;

He angled in the stream. “Quiet was he, and well content,

With naught to fret, and none to chide ; For all that his young heart desired

The woods and streams supplied. “Small knowledge had a youth so trained,

College or school ne'er knew his face; And yet as he grew up, he grew

Superior to his race. “ His brethren were of sordid sort,

Men with coarse minds, and without range ; He grew adventurous and bold,

Inquisitive of change. "And, as he grew, he took to books,

And read whate'er the hall supplied ; Histories of admirals, voyages old,

And travel far and wide. "He read of settlers, who went forth

To the far west, and pitched their tent Within the woods, and grew, ere long,

To a great, prosperous settlement.

“He read of the bold lives they led,

Full of adventure, hardy, free ; Of the wild creatures they pursued,

Of game in every tree. “ And how the Indians, quaintly gay,

Came down in wampum-belt and feather, To welcome them with courteous grace; How they and the free forest race

Hunted and dwelt together. “ And how they and their chosen mates

Led lives so sweet and primitive: Oh! in such land, with one dear heart,

What joy it were to live! “So thought he, and such life it were

As suited well his turn of mind ; For what within his father's house

Was there to lure or bind ?
“Four needy brothers, coarse and dull;

A patrimony, quite outspent;
A mother, long since in her grave;

A father, weak and indolent!
“At twenty he had ta'en a mate,

A creature gentle, kind, and fair; Poor, like himself, but well content

The forest-life to share. “She left an old white-headed sire ;

A mother loving, thoughtful, good ; She lett a home of love, to live

For him, within the wood. " And that old couple did provide,

Out of their need, for many a want Else unforeseen; their daughter's dower

In gifts of love, not scant. “ His father with cold scorn received

So dowered a daughter, without name; Nor could his purposed exile win

Either assent or blame. “All was a chill of indifference;

And from his father's gate he went, As from a place where none for him

Had kindred sentiment. “And in the western world they dwelt;

Life, like a joyous summer morn, Each hope fulfilled ; and in the wild

To them were children born. "All that his youth had dreamed he found

In that life's freshness; peril strange; Adventure; freedom; sylvan wealth ;

And ceaseless, blameless change. “And there he, and his heart's true mate,

Essay'd and found how sweet to live, 'Mid Nature's store, with health and love,

That life so primitive!
" But that sweet life came to an end.

As falls the golden-eared corn
Before the sickle, earthly bliss
In human hearts is shorn.

* Sickness – bereavement - widowhood

Oh, these three awful words embrace A weight of mortal woe that fell

Upon our sylvan dwelling-place! " It matters not to tell of pangs,

of the heart-broken, the bereft; I will pass over death and tears, I will pass on to other years,

When only two were left! "I and a sister ; long had passed

The anguish of that time, and we Were living in a home of love,

Though in a stranger's family. “Still in the wilderness we dwelt,

And were grown up towards womanhood ; When our sweet life of peace was stirred

By tales of civil feud. * By rumours of approaching war,

Of battle done, of armed bands; Of horrid deeds of blood and fire,

Achieved by Indian hands. "We heard it first with disbelief;

And long time after, when had spread Wild war throughout the land, we dwelt

All unassailed by dread. “For they with whom our lot was cast,

Were people of that Christian creed Who will not fight, but trust in God

For help in time of need. * The forest round was like a camp,

And men were armèd day and night; And every morning brought fresh news

To heighten their affright. * Through the green forest rose the smoke

Of places burn'd the night before ; And from their victims, the red scalp

The excited Indian tore. « This was around us, yet we dwelt

In peace upon the forest bound; Without defence, without annoy,

The Indian camp'd all round. “The door was never barr'd by night,

The door was never closed by day; And there the Indians came and went,

As they had done alway. « For these of Onas are the sons,'

Said they, the upright peaceful men! Nor was harm done to those who held

The faith of William Penn. “But I this while thought less of peace,

Than of the camp and battle stir; For I had given my young heart's love

Unto a British officer.
“ Near us, within the forest-fort,

He lay, the leader of a band
Of fierce young spirits, sworn to sweep
The Indian from the land

“ The native Indian from his woods

I deem'd it cowardly and base ; And, with a righteous zeal I pled

For the free forest-race. u But he, to whom I pled, preferr'd

Sweet pleading of another sort; And we met ever 'neath the wood

Outside the forest-fort. “The Indian passed us in the wood,

Or glared upon us from the brake ; But he, disguised, with me was safe,

For Father Onas' sake. “At length the crisis of the war

Approach'd, and he, my soul's beloved, With his hot band, impatient grown,

Yet further west removed. “There he was taken by the foe,

Ambush'd like tigers 'mid the trees : You know what death severe and dread

The Indian to his foe decrees, “A death of torture and of fire

Protracted death ; I knew too well, Outraged and anger'd, as of late

Had been the Indian spirit, fell Would be their vengeance, and, to him,

Their hate implacable. “When first to me his fate was told,

I stood amazed, confounded, dumb; Then wildly wept and wrung my hands,

By anguish overcome. « « Wait, wait!' the peaceful people said ;

•Be still and wait, the Lord is good!' But when they bade me trust and wait, I went forth in my anguish great,

To hide me in the wood.
“ I had no fear; the Indian race

To me were as my early kin:
And then the thought came to my brain,
To go forth, and from death and pain,

My best-beloved to win.
"With me my fair, young sister went,

Long journeying on through wood and swamp: Three long days' travel, ere we came

To the great Indian camp. “We saw the Indians as we went,

Hid ’mong the grass with tiger ken; But we were safe, they would not harm

The daughters of the peaceful men. “In thickets of the woods at length

We came to a savannah green; And there, beneath the open day,

The Indian camp was seen.
“I turned me from that scene of war,

And from the solemn council-talk,
Where stood the warriors, stern, and cold,
War-crested, and with bearing bold,
Listening unto a sachem old,
Who held aloft a tomahawk.

“I knew they were athirst for blood;

That they had pity none to spare ; Besides, bound to a tree, I saw

An English captive there.

" I saw his war-plume, soild and torn;

I knew that he was doom'd to die; Pale, wounded, feeble, there he stood; The ground was crimson'd with his blood; Yet stood he as a soldier should

Erect, with calm, determined eye.

“ I would not he should see me then,

The sight his courage had betray'd ; Therefore unseen we stepp'd aside,

Into the forest-glade.

" Long looked she on the pictured face,

Which from my neck I took and gave;
Long looked she ere a word was spoke,
And then she slowly silence hroke,
•The hatchet is not buried yet;
The tomahawk with blood is wet;

And the great chief is in his grave! « • Yet for the father Onas' sake

For their sakes who no blood have shed; We will not by his sons be blamed For taking life which they have claimed ;

The red man can avenge his dead! “ So saying, with her broken heart

She went forth to the council-stone;
And when the captive was brought out,
'Mid savage war-cry, taunt and shout,
She stepp'd into the fierce array,
As the bereaved Indian may,

And claim'd the victim for her own.
• He was restored. What need of more

To tell the joy that thence ensued! But sickness followed long and sore, And he for a twelvemonth or more,

With our good, peaceful friends abode.

“ An Indian woman there was set,

We knew her, and to her were known; The wife of a great chief was she, Deck'd in her Indian bravery ;

Yet there she sat alone.

«• Woman,' I said, the silence breaking,

• Thou know'st us — know'st that we belong To peaceful people, who have ne'er

Done to thy nation wrong.

* * Thou know'st that ye have dwelt with us,

As friend upon the hearth of friend; When have ye ask'd and been denied,

That this good faith should end ?

« The Indian did not raise her head,

As she replied in accents low, •Why come ye hither unto me,

When I am sitting in my woe?

“But we, two plighted hearts, were wed;

A merry marriage ye may wis;And guess ye me a happy life In England here, an honoured wife, Sweet friends, ye have not guess'd amiss ! “But never more let it be said,

The red man is of nature base ; Nor let the crimes that have been taught, Be by the crafty teachers brought

As blame against the Indian race !"

**Woman,' I said, 'I ask for life

For life, which in your hands doth lie; Go bid thy tribe release the bands

Of him now doomed to die!

THE DOOMED KING.

"Go, Indian woman, and do this,

For thou art mighty with thy race!' The Indian made me no reply,

But looked into my face.
· Mighty! said'st thou ?' at length she spoke,

• Mighty! -- to one no longer wife !
The hatchet and the tomahawk
Lie by me on the forest-walk;
The great chief in my hut lies low,
The ruthless pale-face struck the blow -

And yet thou com'st to me for life!'

The voice of an archangel spake

“A dark one draweth near, Covered with guilt as with a robe;

Wherefore doth he appear?” And another answered solemnly

He comes for judgment here!" Through myriad, myriad shapes of bliss,

On went the Spectre King,
And stood before the judgment-seat,

A guilty, trembling thing!
“I was an earthly king last night,"

With a hollow voice he spoke ; “I drank the wine, I sank to sleep

Oh! how have I awoke !

« * By that chief's memory,' I cried,

Whom ne'er the peaceful men gainsaid ; To whom the peaceful men were dear;

Rise, though thou stricken be, and aid ! «« Crave not REVENGE,' and with my words

My tears flow'd fast, though hers were dry; • But look upon this pictured face,

And say if such a one shall die !

“ Alas! my life has been a dream

A sinful dream : 't is o'er! And through eternity, my soul Shall slumber never more!

“The first, he died a dreadful death,

or lingering, horrid pain ; I saw him as a stealthy spy

His soul had broke my chain; “ Therefore I gave him to a power

More fell than death, — and he
Was racked for crime he had not wrought ;-

And so died cruelly.
“The second had a feebler soul ;

A gentle, timid thing;
A child in spirit, to whose heart,

Good never ceased to cling. "T was vain I crushed him, scorned him, spurn'd;

His was a truth unchanged : Fallen as he was, his steadfast love

Kept with me unestranged !

“ And, in my after misery,

When evil days came down, He saved me; and my coward life

He ransomed with his own!

** Back through the past my soul is urged ;

Back through each guilty stain ;
And every thought, and word, and deed,

Unperished lives again!
“ For, as a leaf before the storm

Is bowed and borne away,
Some mighty power compelleth me,

And it must have its way ;
Though every word condemn my soul,

I dare not disobey!
" I see a white, low village-home;

I see a woman there;
And a little child kneels at her knee,

And murmurs out its prayer.
“It is the first-born of her love -

Fairest, and most caressed ; Heaven only has a second place

Within that woman's breast. “ Mother, dear mother! by thy love,

Thy sorrowings, and thy truth,
Plead for me in my hour of need!

Think on my sinless youth!
Ah, no! thou canst not plead for me!

A dark and fearful time
Hath parted us, and death hath oped

The mystery of my crime!
“I made thy nights a weary watch ;

I gloomed thy days with shame; And a dark word by which men are cursed,

I made my father's name! “I was the eldest of our house ;

Beside me there were three;
And pure and simple had they lived,

Had it not been for me!
But now their blood unto my soul

Doth cleave like leprosy!
« [ stood as in a father's place,

As the sun before their sight, Beloved of all; and in their eyes

Whate'er I did was right.
“ Alas! my heart was a cursed thing!

I lured them on to sin,
I lured them to a dark abyss,

And plunged them headlong in! “ Bodies and souls I ruined them;

Yet in men's sight I kept
My name unstained on their's alone

The infamy was heaped.
“They were my tools, and subtly

I wrought them to my will;
A tyrant to the wretched slaves

I bound to me for ill!
“ No, no! for me thou canst not plead !

I spoke not for the three;
And in thy broken-heartedness,

I kept them far from thee,
With cruel, specious lies ! - no, no,

Thou canst not plead for me!

“ Brothers ! why rise ye not, each one,

Upon this judgment-day;
The bitter wrongs I heaped on you,

Had power my soul to slay!
“The third, a spirit like to mine ;

The nearest to my heart;
The only one I counselled with,-

Who in my power had part: “ He sate with me at the board last night,

He took from me the wine; Traitor, there's blood upon thy hand,

And judgment will be thine ! “Ah, no! the guilt is mine - is mine!

I drew the three from Heaven; I sold them to work wickedness,

And may not be forgiven! “ Talents and time — the noblest gifts

Ever on man bestowed, Were mine ; a soft and winning speech,

And beauty like a god! “ All, all were passion's vilest slaves ;

All ministered to crime; And now a dark eternity

Doth make account with time. "I had a power, an awful power

Over men's minds ; I wove, Base as I was, around all hearts

A chain, half fear, half love. “They were as clay ; I moulded them

With the light words of my tongue ; Old men and wise alike obeyed :

And thence ambition sprung. “The sin of angels was my sin ;

And, bold as was my thought, Men, weak and willing instruments, They gave me what I sought!

211

“ Then woke the tyrant stern and proud;

And, as unto the three,
I did to them, - I raised myself

On weak humanity.
“ Rapine and outrage, and despair,

Over the land spread wide;
And what was wrung from poverty

My luxury supplied.
"The little that the poor man had,

In vain he guarded well ; Mine eye was as the basilisk's,

That withered where it fell. "My sceptre was an iron rod!

The suffering people's groan, Like sullen thunders heard afar,

Was echoed to the throne : “To me it was a mockery!

I scoffed at wise men's lore; And to the madness of my power

I gave myself still more. “Of seven dark and deadly sins,

Like plague-spois on the past – Of seven dark and deadly sins,

I must recount the last :“There was a maid - a fair young thing

High-born, and undefiled
By thought of sin; so meek, so wise;

In heart so like a child !
“In the beauty of her innocence,

She had no earthly fear:
The blackness of my evil Heart

I masked when she was near. “With subtle mockery of good,

Her pure soul did I win; And fervent, lying vows I paid,

Ere she was lured to sin. "I brought destruction on her house

The blameless and the brave ! And its grey-headed sire went down

Dishonoured to the grave. “ This was the triumph of my art;

This gave her to my power; Poor slave to passion's tyranny,

The idol of an hour! “Vain was her passionate despair,

My callous heart to wring i I left her to her misery —

A lorn, heart-broken thing! “I took of her no further thought

My life was in its prime; And in a wild carouse I lived

Of luxury and crime.
« 'T was, staggering from a long debauch,

From some impure retreat,
At midnight, in a dark disguise,

Along the city street,

" And I and my companions saw,

Amid our shameless mirth,
A small train of poor men, who bore

Some child of clay to earth. " A thought of mad impiety

Rushed through my drunken brain; I seized the foremost by the arm,

And stopped the funeral train. " Let's look upon the dead!" I cried ;

No answering word they said ; But gazed on me upbraidingly,

And then unveiled the dead !
“The dead! yes, on the dead I looked !

Oh! sight of woe to me!
The one I drew as down from heaven,

And cast to infamy!
“ Not in her beauty was she laid,

As for the higli-born meet; The coarsest garb of poverty

Was her poor winding-sheet! "The drunken frenzy of my brain

Was gone - and through my soul A wild, remorseful agony,

Like a fierce weapon stole! “From that night, life became a pang:

A dark, upbraiding sprite Seemed ever nigh, for that one sin

Reproaching day and night,
“The gnawing sense of evil done,

Was as a desert beast
Above its prey – my living soul

Its unconsumed feast !
“I plunged into yet madder guilt,

To hush the ceaseless cry;
I matched my strength against remorse,

And sinned more recklessly! “Vain, vain! through war, through civil strife;

Kept with me in each place, The broken-hearted wretchedness

Of that dead woman's face!
“So, doomed to hopeless misery,

I loathed the light of day;
I loathed the sight of human eye,

And gave the passion way! " It grew a cruel moodiness ;

The tyrant's jealous sense,
To which the joy of other hearts

Becomes a black offence.
“ Thus I was hated, feared, and shunned;

And hatred filled my mind
For all my race; and long I lived

In warfare with mankind.
“The cup I drained was a poisoned cup –

'T was red wine at the brim; I took it from my brother's handI had no fear of him!

« ElőzőTovább »