….Eleven. Welcome to the Sabbath bells !
A blessing and a welcome ! At this hour
One prays for me at home, two hundred miles
From where I lounge along the grassy knoll,
Far up upon this classic hill. The air
Hath a delicious feeling, as it breathes
Its autumn breath upon me ; air so calm,
One cannot feel the beat of Nature’s pulse.
No, not a throb. The heav’nly influences,
Hearing that maiden’s prayer, lean down and move
My being with their answerings of love.
The myriad-tinted leaves have gravely paused
To listen to the spheral whisperings —
The unvoiced harmonies that few can hear
Or feel, much less interpret faithfully ;
And the swift waters of the dizzy gorge,
Stunned with their recent plunge against the crags
That hide Niagara’s iris-circled feet,
And lashed to very madness as they wound
Their circling way past rocks and fretted banks,
Melt into calm in the blue lake beyond,
As starlight melts into the distant sea.
….Those ancient willows have a solemn droop ;
You scarce can see the dwelling they adorn :
Behind them rest the grain-denuded fields.
Here, to my left, an unpretending town ;
There, to my right, another ; like two friends,
Each thanking heaven for the Sabbath-pause,
And the brief respite from man’s curse of toil.
The church bells pealing now and then a note,
Swell the bless’d Pæan with their silver tongues.
The very tombstones yonder, near the church,
Look whiter for the eloquent Repose.
….A few short paces through the cedar trees,
Where the pert chipmunks chatter, and the birds
Select and melodize their sweetest notes,
And I have gained the level. Toward the lake,
The cloudlike points of land are seen
Blending with old Ontario, and the gorge
Hurries its whirling current past the banks
That glass their fair proportions in the stream.
….Here is the Monument. Immortal Brock,
Whose ashes lie beneath it, not more still
Than is the plain to-day. What have we gained,
But a mere breath of fame, for all the blood
That flowed profusely on this stirring field ?
‘T is true, a Victory ; through which we still
Fling forth the meteor banner to the breeze,
And have a blood-sealed claim upon the soil.
‘T were better than Defeat, a thousand times.
And we have rightly learned to bless the name
Of the Old Land, whose courage won the day —
We, the descendants of her Victor-sires.
But dearer than a hundred victories,
With their swift agony, the earnest Calm,
That, like a Blessing from the lips of God,
Rests on the classic plain, o’er which my feet
Tread lightly, in remembrance of the dead—
My Brothers all, Vanquished and Victors both.
And yet my heart leaps up, poor human heart !
As I lean proudly, with a human pride,
Against this pillar to a great man’s name.
Yet I would rather earn that maiden’s prayer,
Than all the fame of the immortal dead.
….There may be furrows still upon the field,
Ploughed up with the wild hurricane of war
On that eventful day. Here, certainly,
An angry missile grooved this honored rock.
Though nearly half a century has pass’d,
The fissure still is here, and here the rust
Left by the iron messenger of death,
As it sped forward like an angry fate,
Sending, perhaps, ten human souls to hell.
….There, there was pain. Here, where the wondrous skill
Of the mechanic, with this iron web
Has spanned the chasm, the pulse beats hopefully,
And thoughts of peace sit dove-like in the mind.
Heav’n bridge these people’s hearts, and make them one !
Source: Charles Sangster. The St. Lawrence and the Saguenay and Other Poems. Kingston, Ont.: J. Creighton & J. Duff, 1856
The sun had sunk beneath the western main, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And with a parting ray ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Bid adieu unto the day: ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡ Twilight drew nigh, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And purpled o’er the sky, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡While, smiling in the East, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The Queen of night arose, ‡‡‡‡Full orb’d;—in modest majesty ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Above the hills’ high head ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡She her silver lustre shed, ‡‡‡‡Mild as the evening taper’s blaze. ‡‡‡‡Sweet contemplative hour! ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Now let me stray,
Unseen by the observing eye of day, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡For mediation dear, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Where the purling rill
Its music breaks upon the listening ear.
Thoughtful I wandered o’er a blooming mead; ‡‡‡‡Reclined beneath a spreading tree, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And cast my eyes around. ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡ Full in my face ‡‡‡‡Fair Cynthia pour’d her silver beams, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And e’er I was aware ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The downy hand of sleep ‡‡‡‡Seal’d fast my eyes in pleasing slumbers; — ‡‡‡‡And something fell upon my soul ‡‡‡‡Which o’er my spirit seem’d to meet ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡ Sublimely soothing! ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And mellow down my feelings, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡O’er which the tremulous chords
Of plaintive sensibility were strung. ‡‡‡‡Then rose the visions of the night,
And, undisturb’d, their free dominion kept ‡‡‡‡Within the province of any brain. ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Methought the trump of war ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Was heard to sound no more; ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The soldier’s shining blade ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Was in his scabbard laid;
The cannon with reverberating roar,
Deep-sounding, shook the vaults of heaven no more;
No more it vomited destructive ire,
Or belch’d out death at each convulsive fire! ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡ The bleeding warrior’s sighs ‡‡‡‡No more to Heaven did arise; ‡‡‡‡The widow’s tears had ceas’d to flow, ‡‡‡‡The orphan had forgot his woe,
And Peace, sweet goddess of celestial birth, ‡‡‡‡Reassumed her reign on earth. ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Joy dwelt in every look; ‡‡‡‡Gladness sat on every face; ‡‡‡‡Thankful man the blessings took ‡‡‡‡As a reward for past distress. ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡QUEENSTON appeared to rise ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡At once before my eyes, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And wave full fields of grain ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Luxuriant o’er the plain.
The battery strong, where, late the cannon’s mouth,
Just pointing thro’ stood threat’ning — charg’d with fate,
Ready to hurl destruction on the foe,
And rival thunder with its dreadful voice,
Disgorging death’s commission! — these same mounds ‡‡‡‡Where mouldering down to common earth, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And, crown’d with grassy tops,
They spread their vests of Nature’s carpet green ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Besprent with op’ning flowers, ‡‡‡‡And the soft notes of warbling birds ‡‡‡‡Succeeded to the roar of arms. ‡‡‡‡Methought a train of youths I saw, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Each with a garland crown’d, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And on each breast was bound ‡‡‡‡A golden plate, on which engrav’d
Britannia sat, reclining on her spear. ‡‡‡‡At her right hand appear’d an urn ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Of gold beset with pearls, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Transmuted from her tears, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡With the inscription on it:
“Here are inclos’d the ashes of my BROCK.” ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡With solemn silent step, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡In order they advanc’d ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Towards a new-raised pile: — ‡‡‡‡It was a marble monument, — ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡A tribute to the chief, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Who fell upon the spot: —
‘Twas built in memory of our hero BROCK. — ‡‡‡‡And here these youths repair’d to pay ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The debt of gratitude ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Due from a generous mind, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Due from the virtuous brave,— ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Due to superior merit. ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡A youth whose graceful mien ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Was pleasing to behold,
When they were gather’d round the monument, ‡‡‡‡In words like these began to speak : — ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡“War was our country’s lot : — ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The enemy advanc’d, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And with unhallowed step ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Defil’d our peaceful shores. ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Our hero took the field, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And with him march’d a band ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Of generous hearted youths ‡‡‡‡Who, prompted by their country’s good, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The shock of war withstood. ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡BROCK led these heroes on; ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And, e’er they left the field,
The song of triumph flow’d from every tongue! ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Brave youths! can we forget ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Your efforts generous while ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Our hearts shall beat? — Ah no! —
Cold be those hearts in death that can forget you, —
That can forget your patriotic deeds! ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡“But ah! the fatal day ‡‡‡‡Which saw our country’s enemy ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Advance on Queenston Heights: — ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‘Twas then the hand of death ‡‡‡‡Fixt on our hero’s mortal part, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡With his cold gathering grasp, ‡‡‡‡And snapt the brittle thread of life! ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡He rush’d to meet the foe — ‡‡‡‡His bosom caught the shaft of death — ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡He fell — he soon expir’d! — ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The saddening news was heard, ‡‡‡‡“Since heaven hath given our country peace, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And still’d the storm of war, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And granted us the means ‡‡‡‡This pile of gratitude to rear; ‡‡‡‡Let us return our thanks to Heaven ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡For all these mercies given, ‡‡‡‡And then the tribute of a tear ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Pay to him whose dust lies buried here.
“Almighty God! supremely good and just,
To whom we look for help, in whom we trust,
Vouchsafe to hear the thanks our hearts would pay
To thine Eternal Majesty this day.
We own the power of thine extended hand,
Which drove invasion from our native land,
And bade contending powers from conflict cease,
And join their hands in mutual love and peace.
May peace continue, and concord abound,
Thou Sire of being! all the world around.” ‡‡‡‡He paus’d respectfully, — then broke ‡‡‡‡The solemn silence, and thus spoke: — ‡‡‡‡Each soldier’s bosom felt the stroke, ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And heaved in speechless woe! — ‡‡‡‡But gathering like a cloud the foe ‡‡‡‡Advanc’d and thicken’d on the field. ‡‡‡‡Ready for combat our brave band ‡‡‡‡Like lions rush’d amidst the fight, ‡‡‡‡Then ghastly death stalk’d hideous round ‡‡‡‡And fell’d his victims to the ground; ‡‡‡‡Amidst the rage of carnage stood ‡‡‡‡Grimly majestic, smear’d with blood! — ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡But e’er the rolling sun ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Sunk down the steep of night, ‡‡‡‡The deaf’ning cannon ceas’d to roar, ‡‡‡‡The clank of arms was heard no more, ‡‡‡‡The joyful tidings flew around, — ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‘The victory is ours!’ ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡“But sadness damp’d the joy in every breast; — ‡‡Sorrow sat heavy at each heart; — ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡’‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Alas, our chief was slain! — ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡’‡‡‡‡‡‡‡No more the generous smile — ‡‡No more commanding dignity ‡‡Shone in his countenance, — cold death — ‡‡Cold, icy death sat silent there! — ‡‡Yet still his memory blooms afresh, ‡‡The fragrance of his virtues rises ‡‡In grateful odours to the soul ‡‡That knows to value worth and merit, ‡‡Which he in measure large possess’d.
“When duty call’d him to the helm of th’ state,
He found our country on the brink of fate.
A treas’nous faction burning to display
Rebellion’s ensigns, in her bosom lay:
Without, a numerous and insulting foe,
Threat’ning to strike th’exterminating blow.
He saw the danger — mark’d — pursu’d his plan,
And magic influence with his measures ran:
O’er discord’s strings his master hand he threw;
Faction was silent, and her friends withdrew:
The undetermined bosom he inspir’d;
The lukewarm heart with patriot ardour fir’d;
He taught us conquest in th’unequal strife,
And seal’d us victory with his valu’d life.
“His mind was noble, — all his actions great;
Fitly he held the guiding reins of state;
Compassion, pity, justice moved his soul,
Nor e’er he swerved from their divine control.”
Thus spoke the youth, and with a melting heart
Each stander by sustain’d an equal part;
Tears following tears the soul’d emotions spoke,
While sighs responsive from each bosom broke.
In weeping charms the virgin band appear’d,
Which struck my soul with softness as I heard:
Involuntary tears began to flow;
I join’d in concert in the scene of woe,
‘Till, quite absorb’d in the heart melting theme,
Sudden I woke, and found it all a dream: —
Yet such our Brock, and such the patriot band
Who fought and conquered under his command.
Adam Hood Burwell published poems under the pen name Erieus, the “Pioneer Poet of Upper Canada.” Read about Burwell
On the laying of the corner stone of the Brock monument at Queenston Heights, and the final interment of the General who had fallen at the battle of Queenston, Oct. 13th, 1812. The remains of his Aide, Col. McDonald, [Lt.-Col. John Macdonell] were also deposited under the new tower.
A wail went o’er broad Canada,
When it was known a vile outlaw
Had at midnights awful hour,
With ruffian hand blown up the tower.
‘Neath which had slept the gallant Brock
Who bravely fell on Queenston’s rock,
But graceful column soon shall rise,
Its beauteous shaft will kiss the skies.
For from Queenston’s woody height
You may behold a pleasing sight,
The grim old veterans of the war,
Militiamen with many a scar.
Indian braves from each nation,
Grouped to pay their last ovation,
Round the remains of General Brock,
Who led them oft in battle’s shock.
Old heroes now again do rally,
Feebly they move along the valley,
Not as they rushed in days of yore
When torrent like they onward bore.
And swept away the foeman’s ranks
O’er Niagara’s rugged banks,
So indignant was their grief
On losing of their warrior chief.
Now, with triumphant funeral car,
Adorned with implements of war,
The sad procession slow ascends,
As round the hill its way it wends.
Marching to mournful, solemn note,
While grand old flags around it float,
And now may peace be never broken
‘Mong lands where Saxon tongue is spoken.
“For peace hath victories by far
More glorious than horrid war,”
England doth Longfellow revere,
And America loves Shakespeare.
Note by James McIntyre: The oration on the above interesting occasion was delivered by the late Hon. William H. Merritt, projector of the Welland Canal. He served at the battle when a young man. We witnessed the interesting ceremony and shall never forget it.
Source: James McIntyre. Poems of James McIntyre. Ingersoll, Ont.: The Chronicle, 1889
See J.A. Murphy’s Ode to a Bytown Youth for the story of how the giant flag was affixed to the remains of the first Brock’s monument.