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Behold! in front, a spreading radiance gleams!
Wide glowing, ruddy and immense it seems,
Such as the rising moon's broad orb bestows,
When up night's starry vault she solemn goes,
Each moment brightening, lo! to our amaze,
The woods on fire in ardent fury blaze;
Dark trees before us, of gigantic size,
In deeper shades and gloomy pomp arise ; .
The flames beyond, ascending with them bear
Thick clouds of sparkling smoke that fill the air.
Approaching near, it opes in dread display,
Diffusing round th' effulgency of day;
Where, glad to view each other's looks again,
We stand contemplating this furious scene: 1
Here piles of logs like furnaces appear,
The rows of underbrush rage far and near;
Huge tow'ring oaks amid this sea of fire,
Descend in thunders, and in flames expire ;
Or, blazing high, with burning gaps imprest,
Rain showers of fire, infectious on the rest,
Loud roar the flames, the crackling branches fly,
And black behind the smoking ruins lie.
Thus some fair city, pride of many an age,
Gleams with the light of war's devouring rage,
Through its high domes the flaming torrents pour,
And naked turrets o'er the burnings lour;
The midnight sky reflects the dreadful blaze,
The foe, at distance, with enjoyment gaze,
Exult to find their vengeance well employ'd,
The works of ages in one night destroy'd.
So look'd the woodman, who behind us stood,
Begrimm'd with soot, in tatter'd garments rude,
On pitchfork leaning, hail'd with “ How d'ye do ?”
And look'd like Lucifer just risen to view ;
At Duncan's voice, advancing, stood amaz'd,
And each on other for a moment gaz'd,
“What Johnny!" “ Duncan !" Bless my heart, so near!
“ How glad our folks will be to see you here!"
Kind invitations now, were not forgot,
And through corn-fields we followed to his cot,
There “ O's!” and “ Dears !” and salutations o'er,
The ponderous knapsacks sunk upon the floor;
Seats, quickly rang'd, our weary limbs invite,
And kind inquiries all our toils requite ;
And while our meal a young brunette prepar'd,
The ancient father's humorous jokes we shar'd;
Though ninety years had silver'd o'er his head,
Yet life's green vigor seem'd but little fled ;
The burning woods, that late before us blaz’d,
His axe had levell’d, and his handspike rais'd;
None laugh'd more hearty, sung with livelier glee,
Or jok’d, or told a merrier tale than he;
Kind, cheerful, frank; in youth a sailor brave,
“Now bound for brighter worlds beyond the grave."
Two favourite sons, obliging, open, mild,
With wild wood anecdotes the hours beguil'd;
Produc'd their rifles, sedulous to please,
Describ'd their farm, their horses, harvest, bees,
While a whole hive, the crowded garden's boast,
Crown'd our repast, and spoke the generous host.
To Johnny's joke succeeded William's tale,
Sweet Mary serv'd with many a witching smile,
And thou, Devotion, wert a kindred guest,
Of all our joys the noblest and the best;
Around, conven'd with David's holy lays,
In solemn strains awoke our evening praise ;
The kneeling father's fervent prayers ascend,
“O be the strangers' comfort, guide and friend;
Their trust, their guardian, wheresoe'er they go,
To view thy greatness in thy works below;
O leave them not ! but their Director be,
To that last stage that leads them home to Thee !"
Such pious goodness, aged worth so dear,
The trembling voice that spoke the soul sincere,
With thoughts unspeakable my mind opprest,
Till tears reliev'd the tumult of my breast :
And all to rest retir'd, and silence deep,
To lose the hardships of the day in sleep.
By bawling calves and jumbling bells awoke ;
We start amaz’d to see the morning broke,
Such blest oblivion balmy sleep bestows
Where toil-worn Industry and Peace repose.
Geese, turkeys, ducks, a noisy numerous brood,
Mingle their gabblings with the echoing wood,
Through whose tall pillar'd trees, extending blue,
The lake Cayuga* caught our ravish'd view.
Soon on its oak-crown'd banks sublime we stood,
And view'd, from right to left, its lengthen'd flood,
Of vast extent, pure, glassy and serene,
Th'adjacent shores and skirting huts were seen,
The eye could mark the whiten'd frames, the ear
Faint sounds of barking dogs remotely hear.
Hither, before, our liberal friends had sent
Whate'er of stores we voyagers might want,
Fill’d all our wallets, prest us to take more,
And, side by side, convey'd us to the shore;
There the good father grasp'd each traveller's hand,
His sons and family mingling o'er the strand,
“Farewell!” “Goodbye!” “God bless you!" was the cty,
The tears of friendship swelling in each eye.
Charm'd with a love so free, so nobly shown,
His clubb'd fuzee across his shoulder thrown,
Our pilgrim bard the parting group address’d,
And thus his gratitude and ours express'd.
“For all your goodness, hospitable friends!
We gladly would, but cannot make amends.
All that we can we humbly offer here,
Our dearest wishes, ardent and sincere,
Long with success may all your toils be blest,
And each rich harvest rival all that's past;
Long may your glittering axe, with strength apply'd,
The circling bark from massy trunks divide,
Or wheeld in air, while the wide woods resound,
Bring crashing forests thundering to the ground ;
Long may your fires in flaming piles ascend,
And girdled trees their wint’ry arms extend ;
Your mighty oxen drag the logs away,
And give the long-hid surface to the day,
While fields of richest grain, and pasture good,
Shall wave where Indians stray'd, and forests stood,
• This lake is about thirty-eight miles long, and from two to three and four miles in breadth. It is nearly parallel with, and about eight or ten miles east from the Seneca lake. The bed of the former is said to be thirty or forty feet lower than that of the latter, which flows into the Cayuga nearly at its outlet, and forms what is usually called Seneca River. The waters of both these lakes are extremely clear and transparent; are much frequented by wild ducks, and contain abundance of various kinds of fish, particularly salmon, and also suckers of a very large size. One of these last, which we purchased from a party of Indians encamped on the shore, measured upwards of two feet in length.
And as you sweat the rustling sheaves among,
Th’adjoining woods shall echo to your song,
These are the scenes of truest joys below,
From these health, peace and independence flow;
Blest with the purest air, and richest soil,
What generous harvests recompense your toil!
Here no proud lordling lifts his haughty crest;
No tinsel'd scoundrel tramples the distrést;
No thief in black demands his tenth in sheaves;
But man from God abundantly receives.
In rustic dress you range the echoing wood,
Health makes you gay, and simple manners good ;
Society's best joys your bosoms know,
And plenty's smiling cup without its wo. .
Farewell, good friends! be virtue still your guide,
Still scorn injustice, cruelty and pride,
Whate'er be your pursuits, whate'er your care,
Let temperance, peace and industry be there ;
From these want, pain, and care and ruin fly,
And half the ills that teach mankind to sigh.
Fear not success! though one attempt should fail,
Fate yields when strength and constancy assail ;
Store up your harvests, sow your winter grain,
Prepare your troughs the maple's juice to drain,
Then, when the wintry north outrageous blows,
And nought is seen but one wide waste of snows,
Ascend the fleeting sleigh, and like the wind,
Scour o'er the hills and leave the woods behind,
Along the drifted swamps and mountains high,
O'er rocks and narrows* make your horses fiy,
Shoot o'er the Susquehannah's frozen face,
And bleak Wyoming's lofty hills retrace;
Nor let the hunter's hut, or venison stale,
Or his lov'd bottle, or his wond'rous tale,
Of deer and bear your lingering steeds detain ;
But swift descend, and seek the southern plain ;
There where the clouds of Philadelphia rise,
And Gray's flat bridge across the Schuylkill lies;
There shall your grateful friends with choicest store,
And hearts o'erflowing welcome you once more;
• These are passes on the high steep sides of the mountains overhanging the Susquedias aal, and in some places will scarcely admit more than one person abreast,
There friendship's purest joys will crown the whole,
The feast of reason and the flow of soul.”
Our boat now ready and our baggage stor’d,
Provisions, mast, and oars and sails aboard,
With three loud cheers that echo'd from the steep,
We lanch'd our skiff Niagara to the deep;
The shores recede-the oars resounding play,
Fleet through th’unruffled flood we scour away,
Till Evening sweet suspends her starry veil,
And all around her sparkling orbs prevail.
There, high in front, the Bear's bright splendors glow,
His answering glories gild the deep below.
Profound and vast, and, as we onward glide,
Dance on the bosom of the dimpling tide.
Lone Night and listening Silence seem to sleep
On the smooth surface of the glistening deep;
Save where the ducks in rising thousands soar,
Leaving the dark expanse with lengthen'd roar,
That like a cataract bursts from legions near,
And dies in distance on the vacant ear.
Meantime young Duncan, as the oar he plies,
With voice melodious bids the song arise,
The theme COLUMBIA, her sublime increase,
“ Blest land of freedom, happiness and peace,
Far, far remov'd from Europe's murderous scene,
A wide, a friendly waste of waves between,
Where strangers driv'n by tyranny to roam,
Still find a nobler and a happier home.
Hail blest asylum! happy country hail !
O'er thee may truth; but never foe, prevail.”
From neighbouring shores, and cliffs that o'er thein rise,
The listening spirit of the lake replies,
And in responses sweet, and accents plain,
Repeats each period of th' inspiring strain.
Now like dull stars the lighted bridge* appears,
Beneath it soon our little vessel steers,
Where, snugly moor'd we pass'd away the night,
And weigh'd next morning by the peep of light.
. This bridge extends across the lake, which at this place is about a mile in width. It is built of wood; is laid o, two hundred and fifteen trustles, each consisting of three posrs, connected by girths and braces. 'I hi posts are sank to hard gravel, which is generally about thirty feet from the surface. The expense was twenty thousand dollars.