StJohnLegends

Legends of St Johns

Legends and Memories of St John’s Chapel
Addressed to R. A. Riddick
by Major John W. Moore

Part 1 – published in the Windsor Ledger June 22, 1899
Friend Robert, let me gossip
“Crack a wee” as Burns would say
Of that village and people:
Where as boys we used to play;
Of Ahoskie Ridge long famous
Both for men and women fair,
To recall much that we cherish,
Ere from memory it perish.

So I propose good neighbor
To tell in simple rhyme,
Something of the fate and fortunes
Of the men of olden times,
Who lived and loved and perished
In the ages lost and gone;
Where the chapel of St. John
In old times blessed and named the place
So long a shine of light and grace.

I tell an o’ar true tale sir,
Of the oldest of our towns
That had shrunk into a hamlet
Ere we wore our baby gowns;
Where in the last two hundred years,
Many spirits rich and rare,
Have walked beneath its great oak trees
That once grew so bravely there;
But alas, the trees and spirits
No more count among the merits.

St. Johns was made a village
At a time so long ago
I fear you’ll think my story
Is all fiction and untrue;
But good neighbor ‘tis recorded
That when Eden ruled the State,
And Blackbeard lived by pillage
‘Till he met his bloody fate.
Even then St. Johns was showing
How important it was growing.

You have surely heard Friend Bob,
How the big men fussed and fumed;
Old Spottswood in Virginia,
And our Mosely so well groomed;
How Virginians were claiming
Well nigh all of Albemarle;
But that Mosely was too wary,
And by help of Colonel Maule,
Kept St. Johns in Carolina
Where we joy this day to find her.

Edward Mosely was chief Lawyer
And the boss in politics,
Who often got the better
By good sense and sometimes tricks
Of those stately royal governors
Who would undertake to rule
Against the King’s own promises;
So this Mosely brave and cool,
Stood by his people like a man,
And left behind a record grand.

Sometimes this great man, neighbor,
Came to visit our St. Johns,
For he and Maule aforesaid
Were the closest sort of chums;
So they with two rich Beverleys,
Out at old Mulberry Grove,
Had merry times when court was o’er,
For these gentlemen did love
To tread in gladsome midnight dance,
When flying hours with joy advance.

When Mosely doffed his armor
And was sleeping with the just,
Ben Hill was next bell-wether
And assumed his noble trust,
Leading all Bertie in battle
‘Gainst both King and Governor;
For here he plumed his legions
For the contest long and sore;
Bloodshed never marred his courses,
As he led but peaceful forces.

Governor Gabriel Johnson,
And his policy he fought;
Armed treason and rebellion
Were never things that he sought;
For Hill, like Edward Mosely,
Would be free in church and state,
So bravely he defended them
Through long years of stern debate:
And all unmoved by bribe and threat,
He left a name we have to date.

Here were court-house and lawyers
For a good half hundred years;
A rector too in surplice
Woke the guilty sinners’ fears;
But the good man and his sermons
Never stopped the midnight reels,
When fiddlers and rum-toddies
Put fresh mettle in young heels;
Both maid and matron in those days
Were madly fond of balls and plays.

Twas a sad day for the town,
When the court-house was removed;
Bertie then lost Northampton;
So away the lawyers roved;
No more the great crowds quarterly,
As the circling years went by,
Would gather here at each assize
Both crown pleas and suits to try;
Robed Justices and Sheriffs grim
No longer kept affairs in trim.

Once there was a time of woe
In the Tuscarora war,
Crowds were slaughtered in a night
By the Indians near and far;
In Bertie, Tom Blount was friendly,
Holding his own braves in peace,
So long as he lived among our sires
When his own accursed race,
Had gone in Banishment away
Unto a northland stern and gray.

A tragic tale was told me
By the old men long ago,
Of an Indian squaw that perished
By a death of flaming woe;
For some horrid crime committed,
She here suffered death by fire
Only by such grim atonement
could be stayed the people’s ire,
And it was said her dying scream
Made hideous many a sleeper’s dream.

But St Johns saw fairer scenes,
When there came from Eden House
The Governor with coach and four,
To attend the gay carrouse;
When the Christmas ball was given
Old and young grew very gay,
A good Parson Brickell gave them
His best sermon on that day;
As Christmas came but once a year,
They filled as full as they could bear.

But alas for the changes
Time will work in our affairs,
St Johns was doomed to sorrow
In the lapse of passing years;
The court-house went to Wolfenden,
And yet later Winton rose,
To call away her citizens
And thus make themselves her foes;
And so it was by slow degrees
She came to lose her very trees.

Long the center of revels
Held for all the country round,
St Johns still kept her people
Till the struggle with the crown;
There were bridals in the chapel,
In the tavern feast and ball,
And its score of men and women
Set the fashions for them all,
Dwelling in that spacious plain
Which first has been Bertie’s domain.

It was still a jolly place,
This old village of St Johns.
Rousing times it had when Tories
Shouted for the King and Crown;
When Dick Caswell was a soldier,
And then governor by turn,
When he and the Whigs were swearing
By the peerless Washington;
Alack, a day for place so gay,
That soon was gone into decay.

note:
Bertie County Deed Book G-282
John Howell to John Brown, John Wynns, Thomas Mitchell, vestrymen,
March 1. 1749 5 sh. for 1 A. Vestrymen & Trustees appointed to build and erect a Chappell in Society Parrish‚ Land near the Main road‚ adj. the plantation whereon I now live and whereon St. John‚ Chappell is to be erected and built for the use and benifit and Service of Some Pariahioners of Society Parish and all other Christian Disposed persons for the use of a church.
Wit: John Rieusset, John Campbell. May Ct 1750. (abst. by Mary Best Bell)

Part II. published in the Windsor Ledger June 29, 1899
It was a time of peril
To our stalwart sires of yore;
It was no pleasant matter
Then to hear the Lion roar;
For their king was Lord and master
Of the broad and narrow seas,
And he had a mighty army
To enforce his stern decrees;
But all these things could not dismay
Brave men determined to be free.

The fierce and crafty Indians
Held the forest far and wide,
The slaves and bloody Tories
Too were thorns on every side,
But with these foes conjoining
They resolved to win or die;
So they joined the Continentals,
Fighting on as years went by;
Until King George no longer bore
The right to rule this happy shore.

Then Ahoskie Ridge was true
Unto itself and liberty;
For Captain Abner Perry,
With his gallant company:
With that of Irving Jenkins,
Went to face the British foes;
And Major Hardy Murfree
Unto deathless fame arose;
For men will ne’er forget his fight
At Stony Point, that bloody night.

This was a British fortress,
That arose grim, strong and high
Above the Hudson River,
With three English cruisers by;
But it rugged Scotch Highlanders,
Near a thousand men or more,
Were at midnight stormed and taken
Mid wild carnage and uproar;
And Hardy and his gallant set
Did all the work with bayonet.

All America was glad
O’er the victory then won;
All but a single kinsman;
This was stern old Major Brown,
Who had fought and was disabled
On Culloden bloody moor;
And he a royal pensioner,
Could in battle join no more;
So sore he mourned our fealty lost
To the land and king he yet loved most.

Then too, his own son-in-law,
Godwin Cotten, kind and mild,
Left his youthful bride and home,
And mid comrades rough and wild,
As aide-de-campe of General Howe,
Also went to do his part
In battling for the land he loved;
Weary limb and anxious heart,
Were their until god gave them peace,
And of their woes complete surcease.

Near St Johns, Rosllyn Castle
Stood with gables dark and quaint,
Where dwelt old Robin Sumner,
Who though warden, was no saint;
He was rich and long a leader
In the great affairs of state;
Then his balls were widely famous,
And his gaming high and late;
He had two hundred slaves or more,
And blooded horses by the score.

Just a league to the westward,
In his mansion fair then dwelt
His rival, Arthur Cotten,
Who had often known and felt
How the captain takes the battle
When he feels his good ship reel
Neath the foemal cannonading,
When with blood his scuppers fill;
Long had he sailed upon the seas,
Before he sought a life of ease.

His sire was friend and kinsman
Of the Lady Alice Lisle
That pure and gentle woman,
Who was brave and yet so mild
That she died as did he Savior,
For the mercy she had shown,
Helpless victim of a tyrant
Who was soon to lose his throne.
That bigot King our fathers made
The last who dared their rights invade.

Captain Arthur found a wife
Who was fair as he was grim;
She replaced his love of old
For his cruiser staunch and trim;
And his life on ocean waters,
For young Bessie Rutland bore,
So many graces in her mien
Kind alike to rich and poor,
That Arthur smoked his pipe at home,
No more on rolling seas to roam.

He and his neighbor Sumner
Were church wardens of St. Johns;
They two were mostly friendly,
But it happened more than once
That high words by both were spoken
And t’was said their gentle wives
Had to calm the troubled waters
And keep peaceful thus their lives;
How often thus our women bring
Some balm to soothe life sorest sting.

Their greatest quarrel happened
When the Baptist people sought
To use the ancient chapel
For a meeting, Cotten thought,
Was nothing more than just their right
As was the public own;
But Robin swore t’was sacrelege
If any such thing was done,
So Captain Cotten gave his home
And bade the people all to come.

After seven years of battle
And when peace had come again,
Freedom ruled in Church and State
There were mighty changes seen;
T’was then in spite of Robin wrath
The old chapel at St. Johns
Was free to all who love our Lord,
Yes to each and every one
The doors stood open free and wide,
And to the humblest not denied.

It was then that a Baptist,
Who was dwelling very nigh,
Came oft to wake the echoes
And to lift a warning cry
That resounded like a trumpet,
Heard in stillness of the night,
So he stirred the careless people;
Till he led them to the light,
And though a youth he foremost stood
Among the men who sought the good.

Nor from that day has other
Rose to bless and lift the State,
More than this Lemuel Burkitt
With his service long and great;
For as preacher and reformer,
And historian he made
A name still dear to myriads,
And bore them so clean a blade;
He dying, knew his life had been,
For only things that make us clean.

On the broad highway dwelt he,
Just two miles toward the west,
Close beside an old neighbor
Who of men he loved the best;
This was the gentle deacon Cotten
Who oft rode with him afar,
On long journeys undertaken
In times peaceful well as war;
For well they served our Lord
and land Battling for both with hear & hand.

Old St. Johns outlived the war
But when mourning long and sore,
For the gallant sons of hers
That would come to her no more;
From fatal Camden in the South,
Unto bloody Monmouth’s field,
They had so nobly borne their parts
Now and then a tear would steal
Down furrowed cheeks for comrades
But far abroad their fame was blown.

T’was a happy village still,
In those years so long agone,
But where are now the men and maides
And the many houses flown;
In mossy graves the people sleep
Not a single house remains,
Long ago I knew the chapel
With its many weather stains
It too had crumbled into dust,
The people gone to heaven I trust.

Part III  published in the Windsor Ledger July 6, 1899
And thus it was a village
That had been a guiding light,
Year by year did cease to be
The chosen home, clean and bright;
Of all the pure amenities,
Alas for her changed estate,
St Johns had now at last become
Of ignoblest trade a seat,
And for such paltry gathering
Of people as the day might bring.

Losing thus her precedence,
The old church was left alone
To maintain its hold upon
Men and women yet its own;
Then as the wasting years went by
Ruin came with steady stride;
No surpliced priest was ever seen
After Parson-Gurley died;
The good man slept with all the just,
His treasures safe from moth & dust.

In the loft no organ swelled
On the twilight ne’er a prayer,
Came as balm unto the weary,
No sweet music thrilled the air;
Bell and tower alike had fallen,
On lichened walls slow decay
Crept on until a shrine once fair,
Stood a ruin gaunt and gray;
No sound was heard, no steps came near,
God’s house became a thing of fear.

Thus the village passed away,
And a ruined hamlet stood
As sad token left behind
Of the beautiful and good;
I dearly loved to seek its shadows,
When I, in my sunny youth,
Rambled with my dear lost brother,
And young uncle bossing both,
To spend the long bright summer day
In our boyish romps and play.

Well I loved the old place then,
With its silence and its shade;
Loved the sunny nooks close by
Where the boys of old had played,
And the roads so broad and level,
Along which the bugles loud
Were blown by coachmen with the mail
When the people in a crowd
Passed North and South on this highway
Before the railroads came our way.

When Robert Montgomery
Gave way to General Wynn,
And when old Major Carter
Up in Raleigh first was seen,
There were many things to cheer them
The folks of Ahoskie Ridge;
For they had both peace and plenty,
From Bertie to Benthall’s Bridge;
And one and all for Major Carter,
Had always tricks and jokes to barter.

This Major Isaac Carter
Cut a figure in his day,
As justice and at musters
He a leading part did play;
But his courtship and marriage,
Told in humble rustic song
How he triumphed o’er his rival,
Will be remembered long;
For he won a belle and beauty
To win whom he thought his duty.

With lovely Winnie Mary
At the wedding feast we’re told,
He sat in state and glory;
But a rival late so bold
Stood there weeping in a corner
While still on the dancers sped,
And amid the flowing pleasure
Only wished that he was dead;
The old song adds that one and all
Remembered long that wedding ball.

Captain Cotten ever stern,
Had a son so kind and true
That all the country round him
Came to call him when they knew
His goodness all Uncle Godwin;
Two daughters had he both so fair
That soon their names were known afar
And toasted oft as beauties rare;
These both were wedded, but alas!
Their hour of sorrow followed fast.

This Godwin won a maiden
Who was winsome too and fair
But so youthful were the couple,
The bride’s father for a year
Kept them waiting on his pleasure,
That old war-worn Major Brown;
But the veteran relented;
When that time was haply gone
The Culloden hero pressed,
The happy Sarah to his breast.

Long ago in the twenties,
There was a wicked murder done,
By a bad man who already
Shame and infamy had won;
This fellow was one Aaron Moore
Who fit penalty paid;
But taint of blood hung on his house,
And the ghost could not be laid;
But both his sons fled from this land
And blood was on each guilty hand.

Twas told me of a couple
Who were wedded near St Johns;
How the bride and groom at midnight
Had unto their chamber gone;
For the revel all was over,
And the crowd had gone to rest;
When there came a sound of horror
Putting fear in every breast;
Men and maids in terror wild
Went screaming like some frantic child.

From a not distant grave yard
Came this cause of maddened fear,
My great-grandfather told it
After lapse of many a year;
How all parties swarmed upon him
As he roused to learn the cause;
But no one knew from that day on
What made them so dread a noise;
It came as if a whirlwind bore
Destruction in its fearful power.

The house shook to its bases,
Doors and shutters opened wide,
And it seemed some hugh body
Rushed against the Western side;
Showed no damage high or low;
So the source of so much terror
Not a man could ever know,
But lips grew pale and hearts felt chill
When they to friends the facts would tell.

Neighbor Bob, do you recall,
The oak tree beside the store?
Under which in days of yore,
Many a windy orator
Would address the gaping people,
And where ballots oft were cast,
What a grand old tree it was then?
The man should be an outcast
Who felled that monarch of the grove
That long had been our pride & love.

Many scenes still dear to me,
I recall from far-off-youth,
Many men I loved and valued
For their honesty and truth;
Men who cheered my sunny boyhood
Both in spoken word and deed,
And the hour when I forget them
Will be very late indeed:
God bless them in each humble grave
Those men I knew so true & brave.

With joy do I remember,
How my father often there
Would utter words of wisdom
Unto those who still revere Him,
who way back in the forties‚
Then with Kenneth Rayner ran
As candidate for congress,
Long before I was a man:
The knights are dust,
their good swords rust,
Their souls are with the saint we trust.

Tis a blessed thing neighbor
To recall a sire so true,
A man without a blemish
And the same to every view;
Just as gentle at his fireside
As when presiding over
Those vast assemblages of men
Which often so much bother
The greatest wits that would essay
To hold both bodies neath their sway.

Note: e-mail from my friend Dixie: Dear Sally, a belated thank you for printing the absorbing articles written by Mr. Moore. I have enjoyed them more than I can say. Remember his reference to the night everything trembled, about 1811-12? I’m sure he was referring to the New Madrid Earthquake centered in MO but felt great distances. I have read of the fright it caused in Edenton. This was the event which caused the Mississippi to flow backward. It is said church bells were rung in Boston.

Part IV – published in the Windsor Ledger July 13, 1899
[from Author’s draft in Southern Historical Collection, Chapel Hill, NC
– this particular issue missing from microfilm by NC Archives]

When old General Thomas Wynns
After serving long and well
In Raleigh and Washington
Died before it so befell;
That the long stretch of amity
Closed with President Monroe:
Boone Felton rose to leadership
Among us; and it was so,
That he was growing day by day
In riches and in public sway.

Then another tragedy
Came upon Ahoskie Ridge
– A man of fiery spirit
Mourned a violated pledge;
A maiden he had wooed and won,
Failed to ratify her vows.
Nor would she give one reason for
Changes that was the work of foes.
The lover almost crazed with grief,
In vain besought her for relief.

His sire had been a Tory,
Who had led a company,
In the late Revolution:
And had acted gallantly
Captain Fraser at the Cross Roads
Which are yet known by his name
As a merchant long had prospered
And outlived the olden blame.

Young Jack had scores of County friends
To aid him in his aims and ends
He brave as ee’r his father
Was an orator of power;
And though gay and fond of pleasure,
Was still free of taint or blame
And Felton dared not to face him–
Who had been his friend so long.
So Jack told the bitter story,
How this man had done him wrong.

The people too took up the fight –
– And Boone was beaten out of sight.
With his riches and position,
With escutcheon free of blame,
He could conjure up no reason
That his love was not the same
She had been when she had told him
All the tale of her young love
And he then fondly cherished hope
That she too would faithful prove

But now Alas his hopes were lost
And he but of himself a ghost.
By chance he learned in Raleigh
From extraneous sources there
The deeply hidden secret
That had brought him to despair.
Now the man that had been brother,
Who was then his colleague too,
Had abused a trusting maiden
And had made her items untrue

For she was sister to his wife
And thus his influence on her life.
You can’t imagine Robert
The wild rage that filled his soul,
Nor the tide of imprecation
That on guilty Felton rolled.
From every stump in Hertford
Jack told all his tale of wrong;
As his foe refused his challenge
Foulest scorn was on him flung;

So thus an object of disdain
He only sought to hide his pain.
Jack too was wounded sorely –
– For he rallied neer again.
He sought in wild revelry
That his hurt should not be seen.
But twas only making soil,
Worse with many a bitter liar;
For he that had been strong and ?
Died within a single year

Boon Felton too had gone the way
We all must go some future day.
John Hamilton Fraser
Deserved a far better fate;
So young and gay and comely
And so trew about in debate
He was an honor to the name
Of that Colonel who of yore,
So bravely faced our own good Whigs
On the fields well dyed with gore.

John Hamilton of Halifax
We honor yet for noble acts.
True he battled for the King
And old Scotland whener he roved
But he only followed well
The old banner he had loved
Ever since on dark Culloden
He had sworn the King to serve.
So, when our Sires had won the fight
Came again this man of nerve

And once again ‘ruid forever friend,
Was fore to work his aims and end.
This tale shows our forefathers
In a pure and noble light —
Driving out men like Forneir –
Who could murder in the night.
But for gallant, honest foe men,
Every door stood open wide –
– They were welcomed in the county,
For which great hosts bravely died,
Knitting again the ties of yore
And healing up each ancient sore.

There were many families
That of old resided here
And lost to human mention
Or their names we rarely hear.
Where are now the many Brickells?
Leaders once in church and state;
Gone along with Cottons, Carters,
Montgomeries, too till late –
– Were men and women widely known
Their lutest invoce with lows begone.

Part V – published in the Windsor Ledger July20, 1899
[from Author’s draft in Southern Historical Collection, Chapel Hill, NC –
this particular issue also missing from microfilm by NC Archives]

Dear old St Johns, we love thee
For the happy days of old
The World and all its charming
Can not make us now withold
Age is sure to wed its sorrow
While youth awaits the coming morrow.

So in this ruined hamlet
I find oft type of myself
Once my life seemed a Treck Nick
Now outworn and on the shelf
I can find now humbler baho,
In life’s spacious arena
As I recall many blessings
Ever growing scarcer
Wishing lowly for that great change
Which our future will soon arrange.

Like a stately water-oak
Which is growing broad and fair
Close beside my former home
And has been to me so dear
How we prized it with its vastly
Shaddows which the Pee Wee love
And twas secret to gaze up at Even
Upon limbs, which towered above
There still it stands, in magesty
Long may it shelter mine and me.

Here where eight generations
Of our family have dwelt
Was my birth place still beloved
Then imagine how I’ve felt
As I behold my home of yore
Standing closed and still and lost
Fitting place for the owls and bats
And a residence for ghosts
This world may be a fleeting show
But still we cower to find it so.

I still recall my mother
As I knew her first so fair
Old people often told me
That they never knew a pair
Like my parents in their youth
So loving and so gentle
If friend you can write the truth
They went through life lovingly
As if no fault could either see.

The old house thronged with children
And with visitors by scores
Indeed it did sometimes seem
That we lived with open doors
With horses in the stable
Bird and fox dogs in the yard
We had plenty of amusement
Would I were but such a bard
So I could write in proper lays
Some noble rhyme to give it praise.

Ah what Times we had when night
Shut out all the cares of day
When we went to the parlor
And the music came in play
Can I e’er forget that singing
When my sisters led the choir
And my soul on wings of gladness
Felt the sweetness and the fire
Of men who told in deathless, strain,
The Joy of heaven and sorrows pain.

And again there were the evenings
When we mingled in the dance
There were maidens all dainty
Wits wary at kindling glows
Ah those maids are now all malvou
Except those who sleep in graves,
And after their partners then so gay
Some on land, some on the wave,
Soon were battling against a foe
That ere long brought us all to woe.

It is then that times of sadness
Course on us like all the world
Now and then our flags of gladness
Were removed and closely furled.
There were children fair as angels,
That we buried out of sight.
There were tides of grief and anguish
As we walked awhile in night
But we left them with the Master
Who so cheer our worst disaster.

Part VI
And no country ever sent
A nobler array to the field
One more resolved to never yield
From little Hertford County
Seven companies were sent
Here you get some idea
Of the mighty achievement
That went from the calumned people
Perhaps in all Christendom
People who of all most peaceful
And averse to fife and drink
Who loved to live without offense
And thought all war oppose to sense.

We were five brothers, neighbor
To the array then went four
Tom resigned from the Navy
And with his southward home
A northern comrade, who strangly
Cash his fortunes all with us
Poor Tim Fiske how great a pitty
He mistook his interest
For he and Tom both went to sea
And stayed till all their league? did flee.

Old St John was dim good neighbor
Oft a scene of merriment
Downturn went frequent muster
And children we often went
To secure the men we needed
To fill out our muster roll.
And then old place overmore lively
Now at election polls,
Saw as many voters gathered there
So now were men to volunteer.

The whole county seemed a camp
For soldiers were everywhere
They swarmed in the village,
Was the weather foul or fair
The drill master still at dark
Work on with their raw recruits
And the battle field soon after
Shower what were the timely fruits
Of the slow disgusting trifles
That fit men to handle rifles.

In the wide opinion contagion
It was so that even girls
Were now and then seen drilling
In their furbelows and culls
And the mothers cries and looing
As sir, seen in any age
Were so moved with love of country
And that fire her in rage
That boys, they looed on everything
Then gladly made free offering.

It was a wonder neighbor
How our people who had been
So calm and free of passion
While a hope of peace was seen
Yet when the dreadful truth reached us
That at last war had begun
And that down in Charleston harbor
The first battle had been won
Then it was wonderous, sir, to see
That such a change could ever be.

The men who had been silent
Or opposed to Southern views
Became loudest mouthed seceeder
On reception of the news
And our women for God bless them
Were each and every one
So enthused with Southern ardor
And to such lengths were gone
That not a youth they disgust to hear
Until he was a volunteer.

Indeed I knew an instance
Of a toady gallant then
Who had been long a leader
Among the more modest men
With his many small attentions
To the damsels all around
But he wouldn’t be a soldier
So they sent him then a gown
The very girls he doted on
Sent him this token of their scorn.

It was wondrous then to see
How all parties sects and cues
Were aflowe with resolute
Determination for such deeds
As would show forth come weal or woe
How what we were but to all men
How a people who was fearless
Could their rights and houses defend
Leaving to God whatever might be
And fight until they shall be free.

When down in good old Bertie
Jaycocks and his merry men
Had barely got to Yorktown
Ere from Hertford we did send
Tom Sharp with his company
To meet down at Hatteras
The first onset of our foemen
When upon us there at last
They came with all their mighty mo?
And broke the good fence of our coast.

Then it was a stirring scene
From the mountains to the sea
The multitudes uprising
And resolving to be free
Fifteen myriads of soldiers
From our boarders gladly went
To uphold the Southern banner.

What a time they had Robert
Those good women in those days
How shall we ever pay them
Or give them such need of praise
As belonged to unselfish use
And the loss of all we prize
To execute what duty says
Though the soul in anguish lies
Such were those Apollee,
pure Southern wives
Who so adorn and bless our lives.

I shall never forget the time
When I left my own fair home
And after in the army
How often the thought would come
Of what there was to them befalling
The dear ones so far away
It was then I spent good neighbor
Many a dreary night and day
Till news would come that all was right
And then we turned to thought of fight.

I often looked upon these
On the many hundreds slain
Poor fellows lying silent
There upon the bloody plain
What madness could have bought us here
To this, take each others lives,
Good men perhaps, and at their homes
Had their children too and wives,
And yet are who had never met
Were there on bloody mission set.

I wished the war was over
And that never more again
I should see another battle
With heaps of good men slain.
That men of sense would conjure
Some other means of settlement
And leave unto brutish beasts
The falsely called arbitrament,
Which in the balance costs
Only the heaviest armament
Which oft the right to death is sent.

Part VII – published in the Windsor Ledger Aug 3, 1899

I was born and reared neighbor,
At the old Mulberry Grove,
The same place which Colonel Maule
Did so long ago approve,
When he, as the chief surveyor,
Had his choice in province wide,
And here it was in ancient days
That it pleased him to reside;
And so for many years it went
Under his own name, as “Maule’s Grant.”

He sold it to the Beverlys
And they held on ’till there came
That grim old Captain Cotten
He it was who changed the name;
For he planted two score saplings
Which grew into mighty trees
That withstood an hundred winters
And many a stormy breeze;
And it was so, they won such fame
They came to give the place its name.

When I was in my childhood
These giants were yet intact,
They were my father’s darlings
And for care they had no lack;
They bore full crops of fruitage then
And it was a battle drawn
Between us hungry boys and birds
High above the grassy lawn;
Full oft we perched on top most limb
I and my black-eyed brother Jim.

Thus the homestead got its name
And became a shrine of love;
Captain Arthur built anew
In his young mulberry grove
Those walls of brick still face the lawn,
But the last old tree had died.
The very year the mansion saw
The incoming of my bride;
Old homestead can you e’er forget
Those times that are so precious yet.

Not one of the retinue
Who were sleeping so close by
Had a sweeter face or soul
Than this maiden then so shy;
She and I would sometimes wander
In the garden where they slept,
Men and women, many children
Darlings for whom yet we wept;
All are resting where Love place them
After lives that only graced them.

Surely ’tis a record rare,
That for these two hundred years,
With all their thronging story;
Filled so full with smiles and tears,
That all the sons were gentlemen
And the daughters pure as snow,
The house was thus thrice blessed
Such escutcheon long to show;
God gives men no higher blessing,
Sure his help is worth confessing.

Captain Cotten gave his place
To his gentle, youngest son,
His two brothers and five sisters,
From the homestead all were gone,
His whole life was a benison
To the country all around,
For no tale of sad disaster
Came to him but surely found
A soul so tender and so true
He could not find enough to do.

Many tales of him were told,
Of his bounty and his love,
How he and Bishop Burkitt
On long journeys forth would rove,
Into new settlements afar
Toward the dark and distant West,
But amid so many dangers
Naught befell their holy quest;
Twas said his wise and witty wife
Was not o’er fond of such a life.

Never a pair better suited,
All his kindly gentle ways
Had their counterpart in her
Gay and sprightly in her grace,
Her archness, wit and repartee
Was a theme for many a year.
And still she had deep compassion
For all poverty and tears,
So each was found in allied sphere
Alike to friends & kindred clear.

They had only two grandsons,
And each widowed daughter bore;
These fair pledge of their love
To the home they knew of yore;
It was a rare and holy sight
To behold the tenderness
With which then their grandsire watched them
Growing up to usefulness;
Godwin wore his port and stature
While both inherited his nature.

Samuel Iredell Johnston was
Even as a boy so pure
That his life in after years
Seemed to all then safe and sure;
So gentle, kind, and true to trust
He won his grandsire’s loving heart,
But his wealthy near relations
Kept them after times apart;
And thus his cousin Godwin grew
Each day in favor sweet and new.

His gay father, James Wright Moore,
Perished ere he reached his prime,
Born and reared down on James river
In the habits of that clime;
He was fond of sports and pleasures,
And full of this hunting horn
Woke the echoes miles around him
At the first faint blush of morn;
Oh cavalier! so early gone.
From bride & home he just had won.

So it was Godwin C Moore
Won the highest warmest place
In the heart of his grandfather,
And its fullest, richest grace
Fell upon him, till its bounty
Culminated when that day
Chanced upon them when the old man
Would on earth no longer stay;
And the saint who had walked with God
Life’s weary paths no longer trod

Then he gave such a blessing
As spent Jacob poured of yore
On the head of patient Joseph
Down in Egypt’s foreign shore;
So with the homestead of their fathers
He give to his dear old wife
Who had sweetened his existence
Through a long and blessed life,
And the double truth then taken
Was in no wise e’er forsaken.

When the widow’s tears were dry
And old age was creeping on
She had many a loving talk
With this favorite grandson,
And she urged him oft to marry
And release her of her cares,
So he surveyed with the counting
Which in bounty ever bears
The loviest and sweetest maids
On Carolina hills or glades.

There was joy at the bridals
Down in Murfreesboro town
The young folks of the county,
With good friends from those around,
Swarmed the belles and beaux so bravely
That the old folks yet will tell
What a rarely winsome couple
Answered to that wedding bell;
Alas how few survive this day
Of all that throng, so young and gay.

mrswhler

I can well recall my mother
As I knew her first so fair
With her gentle hazel eyes
And her wealth of raven hair,
And the wealth she brought her husband
Was outweighed so very far
By her sweet and lovely nature
That seemed to me a star;
And my love and adoration
Have only swelled to admiration.

Part VIII  published in the Windsor Ledger Aug 10, 1899

I am fearing neighbor mine
That you have quite weary grown
Of my yarns so long and tough
And old chestnuts fully blown,
But I know sir, of your patience,
Under torture long and dire
And I know too how you value
Things that elevate and fire
Our souls to kindred thoughts and deeds
And tokens of heroic deeds.

You would not in dull Lethe,
Or in Stygean darkness lost,
Leave your name and fame of fathers
Unto dark oblivion lost;
So hear me my gentle neighbor,
As I plead for further room,
So the thread of my poor discourse
May be fitted for the loom
And woven into tapestry
To tell our tale eternally.

Who can know but what perchance,
We may build some deathless rhyme
To haunt the dim corridors
Of all future coming time;
For stranger things have happened sir,
As dear Love and Truth are strong,
And can make us both immortal
If we fitly sing our song;
So here’s to you my poet friend,
God grant our bays may ever blend.

You are not of such a bent
As the man who lives for self,
You are not content to live
In pursuit of dirty pelf;
But I’m proud to say ideals
Of the very noblest kind,
Lift your soul to higher yearnings
And adorn your ample mind;
You love the good and beautiful,
And thus your hours are rarely dull.

So, now good friend, I’ll revert
To our story of the past,
But as you so fully know
How averse I am to haste,
Let us pause and give a moment
To regrets for old names lost
Forever to that fair domain,
Which is still our pride and boast,
For those who left for other shores
And one who came back nevermore.

Roslynn Castle that had stood
So long in its pride of place,
Came at length to disaster
And the loss of former grace;
A grand-nephew of old Robin
Who ne’er did but one wise thing;
It so happened that he wedded
One whose praise I love to sing;
For he to reckless gambling went
And soon a noble fortune spent.

The wife lived in silent woe
Till her husband came to death,
No complaint or murmur hers,
Though of so much thus bereft;
I recall her still so gentle,
Midst her children meek and fair,
Bravely bearing altered fortunes

And refusing to despair;
Slow the years grew hard and harder,
And scanter were her barn and larder.

My father rescued for her
What he could of the estate;
And I happened long after
She had gone and left the State
To find a letter, written then
Telling him she often prayed,
If my mother e’er should lose him,
That then, just such noble aid
Might bless and soften such an hour
If sorrow made her feel its power.

Then at last the tale was told
How the widow no more dwelt
Midst the friends who loved her well
But whose hearts were soon to melt;
When they heard how journeying on,
She had died in Tennessee
With her slaves and children round her,
Stricken down so suddenly,
That the people were much a’feared
To have her then and there interred.

Our great Chief Justice Taylor
Was her highly honored sire,
And Judge Gaston her uncle,
Rose in fame still higher,
Yet her descent only adorned
One so gracious in her mien,
It was as if she had been born
For the station of a queen;
She was my mother’s cherished friend
No wonder we deployed her end.

Alas for poor John Louis!
Her own brother frail and fond,
Who was so far inferior
To his father dead and gone,
But a good fellow in his way,
In spite of all his weakness,
And as our county solicitor
Was content with little fees;
One of the many, who despite
All human aids ne’er reach the light.

Then lived your sire and grandsire,
Colonel Vann and Jimmy Knight,
Sheriff Perry and Eley Newsome,
And four Taylors, if I’m right;
Now Captain Lang alone is left
Of all those stalwart brothers,
Their places know them now no more
And some belong to others,
But Captain Lang’s himself an host,
And much atones for what we’ve lost.

The Littles and the Ridleys,
With the Powells and the Browns,
Like the Ushers and the Terrys
Have become but empty sounds
To the men who now replace them
Spite of all their wealth and blood;
So their names will soon be numbered
With those lost in Noah’s flood;
How fleeting is all human worth
That scarce survives its day of birth.

And then lived Abner Perry,
Worthy grandson of the man
Who had borne himself bravely,
And was wounded at Camden;
My old friend had been the Sheriff,
But was then plain citizen,
With his lordly port and stature,
I can see him now again
An honest man above reproach,
For whom his friends could all avouch.

His old grandsire, after peace
Had brought quiet to our land,
Very high in the affections
Of our people long did stand
For more than twenty thronging years
Both in Senate and the House,
He in Raleigh legislated;
Nor did Hertford county lose
Her trust in him until there came
His end of life if not of fame.

There were others of Hertford
Who were faithful in that war,
Who did survive long and well,
Both at home and then afar;
There was the surgeon, John Wheeler,
Who with bold Montgomery,
Went on fatal expedition
Against Quebec strong and high;
They stormed the city, but alas!
It was of fights, Montgomery’s last.

He was boldly leading on
When a bullet wounded sore
The brave and knightly leader,
Whom they all did so adore;
But it was so, as he was by,
Surgeon Wheeler stayed his fall,
And in his arms the chieftain died
Deplored by the country all;
On that same field where Wolfe had died,
Fell another our joy and pride.

The surgeon, a prisoner
Was thereafter many a day,
And hardships long and grievous
Were endured while he lay
A prisoner on Jersey ship,
And a stain on British fame
Was their treatment of such brave men,
Who it seems could justly claim;
All that soldiers here can hope for,
Though they be engaged in war.

Part IX – published in the Windsor Ledger Aug 17, 1899
Away back in the thirties
Friend Bob, long before your time,
When the Whigs were fighting Jackson
And when Clay was in his prime,
We used to go to the Chapel
And there watch the preacher stand
Beneath the ancient, sounding board
Not in surplice or with band,
For men of other creeds supplied
The pulpit since the rector died.

Then the house to ruin went,
And all souls were made a’feared
Within its wall to venture;
So no longer there was heard
The truth of God, and close beside
Wild orgies sometimes shamed the night
From out a store that stood hard by,
For at times the mornings light
Dispersed a bacchanalian rout
That had tippled the whole night out.

And the village too, neighbor,
Kept on shrinking with the years
When I first knew it well, Sir,
Just about the time when fears
Filled the foolish minds of many
Concerning the final end—
All things earthly, soon should perish;
Such a message did he send;
One Miller, who ventured to say
We soon should see the judgment day.

It so happened by mere chance,
Just about that very time,
That a prodigious falling
Of meters from heights sublime
Fell upon the startled people,
And great numbers felt assured
That the day of final judgment
Had come, and they thus endured
All the feelings that will be ours
When we shall see earth’s closing hours.

Did you ever know, neighbor,
Dorsey Pruden in his prime?
Or small Crawford Lassiter?
Staunch Whigs in the olden time,
But I and mine were Democrats;
And nigh everybody else
Who used to meet at Old St Johns
Where some waited curfew bells;
Ah ancient tipplers rest in peace
Your likes now never see the place.

There was still another wight
Whose brass buttons no more shine,
Who was a thing of wonder
To those childish eyes of mine,
For in his coat of blue broad cloth
He was always decked when e’er
From his little home he wandered;
It was so for many a year
God rest him in that collar high
That towered up toward the sky.

He was a man of such port
As awed the small boys greatly,
His big black eyes could look so
Each youngster ’round was ready
For a retreat from one so grim;
But laughed with his gay brother,
For Jimmy Rawles had not the soul
The smallest boy to bother;
Poor old Josiah, his magesty,
From earthly courts long since did flee.

It mattered not that fashions
Change with ever changing years
Josiah was sure to wear it,
The coat some of his forbears
Wore perhaps in the ages past;
Perchance ‘twas his wedding coat,
Howe’er it was for years before,
Did its long tails gaily float
On the air as he walked proudly
In his shoes that cracked so loudly.

Then there was Doctor Tarpley,
Down by Cutta Wiskie Swamp,
Where the owls held carnival
And the nights were dark and damp;
Alas for him and his stick gig,
His dire lancet and his pills,
He has vanished like his practice;
But the agues and the chills
That proved too strong for all his power
Still are laying too many lower.

It was like a death warrant,
Often then to have a chill
Four score out of a hundred,
Oft fell victims to the ill,
For the blessed bark of Peru
Had not shown the doctors how
To fight the demon of the Swamp
Which then laid so many low;
Not even the yellow death we know
Can scourge the land and blast it so.

I must not forget a friend
Whom my father valued high,
Old Mr. Samuel Maggett,
A good neighbor living nigh;
They were chums in countless fox hunts
And were brothers in the church,
And host of the manly virtues
On his hoary head did perch
I still can see him calm and still
Till time should come for him to yell.

I can see them yet as morning
Just begins to paint the East
With a score of hounds around
Riding each a gallant beast,
With clamor great of hound and horn
Seeming specters in the mist
Down the road and soon lost to sight
They join others at their tryst;
Ah, far off scenes of childhood’s dawn
When life seemed radiant as the morn.

Ah who can tell how gladly
Rode my brother Jim and I,
Along there with the huntsmen
Then our first fox chase to try;
How eager as the trail grew warm
Followed, by the wild hurrah
Which shook the air when reynard burst
Like a rocket from his lair;
With whip and spur we followed well
While hound and hunter jointly yell.

What a placid pair of friends
Were these gentlemen of old,
They had been boys together
And yet never grew they cold;
In the bond so early fashioned
Thus as years crept slowly by
They grew closer to each other,
Even when they came to die
They were like Saul and Jonathan,
These pure and modest gentlemen.

Alas now they both are gone
Sleeping in ancestral soil,
Every weary task is done
Rest they from all grief and toil;
But in neither ancient mansion
Are descendants of their own
And I fear that desolation
There will rear its dreary throne;
No children’s voices fill the hall
But brooding silence spreads her pall.

I knew another mansion
In a meadow fair and wide,
Where one hundred years ago
Wealthy people did reside;
I’ve watched its lofty walls of brick
From the road a mile away,
And wondered oft what kinds of folks
Were living there in their day;
But they have left but empty names
Now no one praises them or blames.

The chimneys rise gaunt and high
Over roof and couvice gone,
The porches have fallen down
And the night winds sigh and moan.
Across the halls and chambers wide
Where gay hearts once were beating,
But now not e’er a starving rat
Is heard behind the sheathing;
And so it is our proudest homes
With years and changes become but tombs.

‘Tis thus I’m pained to see it,
My old home I love so still,
Pained to watch its slow decay
And know empty silence fills
The halls where Love and Music dwelt,
And blessed all the country round
With sweetest of amenities
Will there not again be found
Such days as were its dower of old,
With Love and Beauty in its fold.

Part X – published in the Windsor Ledger Aug 24, 1899
Friend Bob, as I lonely sit
And think of the olden days,
My heart goes out to certain
Men deserving all our praise;
Men I knew well from my cradle,
Who went bravely through the fight
We all must wage down here below
In our search for the truth and light;
The light that leads from wrong and shame
And over-lives the slanderer’s blame.

You can well imagine Bob,
How my heart reverts to those
Who were ever true and faithful
When the wrath of angry foes
Sought our injury and sorrow,
But were balked before the end,
And are sleeping now in regions
Where their meanness ought to mend;
God rest them all both friend and foes
In land where Peace eternal flows.

Alas for all our quarrels,
And hatreds so easy born
When our party divisions
Have asunder widely torn
Neighbors who before were friendly,
But in madness go astray
And malign so their opponents,
And the things they do not say;
How empty now seem ancient heats
Calling each other fools and cheats.

But after all, liberty
Is only born of toil and strife,
For Lands forever peaceful
Have no freedom in their life;
The men who live untrammelled lives
Are like the waves upon the sea,
They roar and are tempestuous
Or they healthful cease to be;
Only in struggle, heat and fire
Are men and nations lifted higher.

So again my own good friend,
Let us resume my long tale
Of the men and things of old,
But I fear that you will fail
To preserve your kind attention
If I spin on much longer,
For while your gracious courtesy
Couldn’t possibly be stronger,
But each thing human has its limit
A tide too full no man could stem it.

But ’tis pleasant to recall
What we loved in former days
And we know that human hearts
Long to utter forth their praise
Of home and all its retinue,
When time and space have removed
Us from where in the days agone
We as boys were so well loved;
And so it is though far we roam
There’s after all no place like home.

Good friend, that old home of mine!
Can I tell how dear to me
Were those thronging youthful days
I can yet the picture see
Of Love and Peace and flowing ease
In every happy soul,
While plenty crowned the happy scene
As the years would onward roll;
Ah golden hours of childhood’s joy,
Who would not be again a boy?

There was always company
In that mansion old and fair,
Its many inmates made it
Such an home as then was rare;
For its resources were boundless
For recreation to all,
Who filled its spacious corridors
Whate’er weather might befall;
So one and all, we lived in peace
And watched our horizon on increase.

With horses in the stables,
And a pack of twenty hounds,
Besides of our guns and setters
Gave amusement with no bounds;
And when night had drawn the curtains,
Then delicious music ours,
With now and then a little dance
To beguile the passing hours;
Dear, happy scenes of vanished youth
How dear to me your grace and truth.

I can still recall my mother,
As I knew her ere the bloom,
Of her wondrous beauty faded I
n the years of age and gloom;
She was as radiant then to me
As the brightest star on high;
She watched me with such tenderness
That could hear my faintest sigh;
She brought her husband large estate
But in herself a prize more great.

My sire, in his placid ways,
And his larger trusts and care,
Had not in our lighter aims,
So much interest to share;
But nothing brought her more delight
Than to see us all enjoy
Those dear old pastimes, that of old
Brightened life for girl and boy;
And like the old Virginia Reels
Put life and mettle in young heels.

Yet he never was austere;
‘Twas only serenity
That clothed him o’er and made him
High above all levity;
And yet on rare occasions,
With his dearest only by,
Then his chaste and quiet humor
Shown in his own, kindly eye;
And then in his peculiar way
He was most charming if not gay.

His life was ever active,
Until age and growing pain
Had so impaired his forces,
That he ventured not again
To resume his works of mercy,
And his many trusts of yore,
But a charity unfailing
Still kept open wide the door–
– That ne’er was shut ganist friend or foe
Who my mischance had come to woe.

‘Twas perhaps “noblesse oblige”
Kept him from our lighter joys,
For he owed it to himself
That his growing girls and boys
Saw in all his mien and language
Not one thing in all their lives
That would make him less reverenced,
Or that matics could contrive
To twist into disparagement
And so unsulled on he went.

There were merry Christmas times
In those goodly days of old,
When friends and children gathered
Int the old familiar fold;
When fountain like o’er all the world
The yule-tide of gladness flowed,
And fuller love and rarer gifts
Upon us were then bestowed
When egg-nog and apple-toddy
Were relished by nigh everybody.

Have you forgotten neighbor,
Our Christmas hunts of yore,
Or the mistletoe suspended
O’er the unsuspected door?
And the kisses that we livied,
On those coy, sweet girls we loved
Ah how far from such demeanor,
Have we wiser people moved?
But I fear we’re little better
by convention’s sterne fetter.

It is true our grand children,
Still hang stockings by the fire,
Sweet maiden’s eyes are beaming,
And the boys as much desire
To kiss those ruby lips of theirs,
As did we the boys of old;
But Alas a colder custom
Holds us all within the fold;
We give too much to empty show
And thus forlorn we all must go.

Alas we shall never more
See such good times come again,
They passed away for ever,
When our good old South was slain,
With the life and forms that marked us,
Fled the simple faith and trust,
That so linked us all together,
But Alas both moth and dust
Have invaded our high places,
And expelled our tender graces.

Part XI  published in the Windsor Ledger Aug 31, 1899
Neighbor Robert well can I
Now remember that glad day,
Where I left behind me,
After a prolonged stay
With the tutors and professors
And hours of fret and fume
Working at the knotty problems
Of a long curriculum
But the last ‚’pons asinorum’
Was passed; and we didn’t deplore ’em.

Ahoskie Ridge in that day
Use to be great renown
For the beauty of its maids,
Far abroad their fame had gone,
And of all that beauteous bevy
There where some most rare to see
When with them we watched the glory
Of the moon and sleeping sea;
Alas that winter e’er should blight
The flowers a’bloom on such a night.

Then it was Baldy Capehart
And Jack Waddill so benign,
With two Wynnes, Wise and Peebles
Like a galaxy did shine
Then rarest fellows, every one
Full of gentlest courtesy;
All so fresh in manly beauty
But sad to tell, only three
Remain of all that stalwart band
Who on life’s threshold then did stand.

Poor Waddill went to Florida,
But he came back to his home
Only to fall a victim
In those early hours of gloom
Where he and hosts of other men
Getting ready for the fray,
Could not withstand the life in camp
And thus saw not that sad day,
When that world of preparation
Should lead to our exterpation.

E’re this another soldier
Down at stormy Haterass
Was forcing too our foeman,
In his youthful prime and grace,
He died like him who of the Greeks
Was fore doomed e’er fatal Troy
Was reached and fell like Loo damiaos lord
Brave John Wheeler is the joy
Of his sweet youth without a taint
Thus died a hero and a saint.

We had another crony
My lost brother Jim and I,
Whose antique cut and figure
Never fell upon your eye;
For old Riddick Griffin, neighbor,
Came to death so long ago
That you were barely born, before
The old place he use to know
As his, had passed to other hands
And he had ended all his plans.

He was a lonely stranger,
Born in other baliwick,
With no kith or kin around
But a sister fair and meek,
Old Tough was even ready
For such jaunts as I and Jim
By persistent agitation
Used, to well nigh force on him;
And we three would take our journey
At the expense of his old pony.

But Riddick had a boy
Who was also prized by us,
Not his son; for never a wife
Come along to share his crust.
And this Harvey, when poor Riddick
Had departed, became mine,
And no servant e’er a master
Found more faithful or benign,
Though a free man long ago
Still I his merit love to show.

Through long years of peace and war
He was with me, night and day,
And I found him always faithful
To each trust that on him lay.
In his charge were barn and cattle
Yet his ward was close and true
I ever found his words were truthful
And he did, as I said do,
And when in war the day was spent
He used to sleep in my own tent.

I have never known a man
Who was not of my own blood
Who showed me by word and act
The whole depth and amplitude
Of his affection unto me;
And all despite his servitude
Gave me every proof in reason
For me to know how we stood;
I though master was his friend
And so it was unto the end.

In all those years of battle
He was ever by my side
And between me and my horses
His attention would divide;
And it was a doubtful problem
As to which was better served;
For not even when in danger
Could we see that Harvey swerved
This noble man of nature true
Who did the things he ought to do.

I sent him with two horses
And with money quite a store
From down below Wilmington
Way up to Murfreesboro;
This was in eighteen sixty five
And he marched there all alone
With nothing but a written pass
To help him in getting on;
I told therein how he was sent
And prayed that aid to him be lent.

He got way up in Duplin
With his horse safe and sound
When lo! he and his purpose
Seemed at once to run aground,
For he found the yankees raiding
And the roads were full of them
Which ever way he safety sought
That, the for would surely hem,
So deep within a wood he stayed
Until our troops drove back the raid.

For five long days he lay there
All secure but famished,
He would for provisions go
That his helpless charge be fed
But he only had to meet them
The raiding foe, to be free
With two horses to recommend him
And some thousands in money;
But he promised me to go
To my good wife, and he did so.

I tell this simple tale
To show how noble and true
Were some of our colored friends,
And it is no more than due
That now when many things occur
To stir up feelings against them
That we should call to memory
And not allow to grow dim
The tale of how they served us well
In spite of wrongs that on them fell.

You know it is our duty
To be kindly unto those
Who hate and would defame us
and e’er treat us but as foes,
But this beautiful and holy
Disposition of our Lord
Is the hardest thing to mortals
To be found in all the word,
So mortal man can love his foe
Like some dear friend, or treat him so.

But noble is forgiveness:
Nothing in our human frame
So lifts us unto glory
Or the sooner brings to shame
The man who seeks to bring us harm
If he be but half a man,
None other but a demon true
Will persistently withstand
The sweet low voice and gentle eye
Deploring his low enmities.

Life is too short for hatred
But Love immortal strives
The one degrades our nature
As the other safely binds
Our soul to things that bless mankind
And lift us above evil
To Paradise fair love leads on
Hatred down to the Devil,
And oh my friend with life so short
Be sure to choose the one we ought.

Part XII  published in the Windsor Ledger Sept 7, 1899
You can’t imagine neighbor
The deep quietude we had,
When we were in the ‘Forties’
And the men of every shade
Of color, and opinion
Down here in Albemarle
We’re so blest with peace and plenty
And so happy one and all,
That never a land grew fair faster
As love returned ‘twixt slave and master.

True way down in Mexico
We had war upon our hands,
But only faintest echo
Crossed the intervening lands.
We read in the newspapers
How ‘old Rough and Ready’ fought
And Scott in proud Chapultepic
Things to such a pass had brought
That peace with California too
Were ours, with further gains in view.

The old feeling of the past,
Born of Nat Turner’s affray,
Had largely been forgotten
By the men of a new day.
And over the country wide
Came a spirit of repose,
That would not stop to darken life
With the thought of hidden foes,
But trusting God, and their sweet wives
Made broader still their aims and lives.

Then it was, country churches
Were first seen adorned with paint
And mere shells no more sheltered
From the storm sinner and saint.
Handsome comely stately buildings
Began with us to be the rule,
And about this blessed season
We had our first Sunday School
What a blessing these my neighbor,
Unto all who toil and labor.

In the dead unhappy past,
Many thousands were content
To bring up their poor children
All without enlightenment.
Saying School and books were trifles
Only fit to spoil a child.
And their scorn of wholesome knowledge
Might provoke a modern smile,
But for the dark sad legacy
Such ne’er entailed on Liberty.

It would seem to you and me
That there would not be man,
Who would be so mistaken.
In the shaping of the plan
For the future of his children,
And their place among their peers
When in after life, no fruitage
Should reward their toil and tears,
But doomed to one ignoble round
Be at last no higher found.

It was also at this time
That out State did first essay
To bring about, among us
A far better, brighted day.
When through our borders far and near
Free tuition awaited all,
When the humblest of her children
Might upon her, at last call;
For the means of rising higher
Toward the things all men desire.

I was then a little boy
But I well remember yet,
How the people in those days
Would on Sunday morning get
Themselves, unto country churches:
And ’twas rare that you would see
Any vehicles but their carts,
While perhaps it still might be
A few would come, in double gigs
A carriage was rarest of rigs.

Then well nigh, every bad
Dressed in their own homespun,
It was indeed but rarely
Did they for the store goods run,
Saving always my old crony
The afore said Mister Rawles,
Who stuck to his old broad cloth
Through so many springs and falls,
That like old friends linked close and fast
So clung he to it to the last.

It was a wonder, Robert,
How the preachers lived at all
So little did they pay them,
What ever might befall;
That a whole half hundred dollars
As a full years salary,
Was thought a sum prodigious
And the wonder then would be
How such a pile could e’er be raised
And if it was, then God be praised.

They thought it was the duty
Of the preacher in those days,
To have his farm and cattle
And a crop himself to raise;
And for five days, in every week
To work on like a Trojan,
And not to preach for filthy pelf.
Such was the common slogan
And said a man who preached for pay
Was never wanted down their way.

These old, godly gospellers
Were at best a feeble folk,
No blinding light of glory
On their darkened vision broke,
But they loved God and his people
And they preached the best they knew,
For God blessed their humble efforts.
And rich blessings, not a few
Come on a land, then steeped in sin
The devil bossing things therein.

We’ll never know it, Robert,
Never know the blessings wide,
That flowed from out such preahing
Like a mighty swelling tide,
And uprooted that fell poisin
Poor old France, had given back
As the price of her assistance,
When we were upon the rack;
When Britans heel was on our necks,
And dardanian skies all souls did vex.

So when the revolution
Ended all the tyranny,
And the last red coat departed,
And our fathers all were free;
Then the Atheists of Paris
Shipped their vile contagion here,
And it ruined hosts of young men,
Spreading wider year by year;
Fill like a tidal wave at last
The ‘Great Revival’ blew its blast.

A host of humble preachers
Did thus mighty work for us,
They traversed this vast country
Stopping not for rain or dust,
Toiling without compensation
Other than God’s promises,
Ne’er was seen a noblier crusade,
Or such grand unselfishness:
God bless and keep the memories
Of these dead Saints of former days.

That same era of ‘Forties’
Who yet famous otherwise,
And though its predecessor
Saw our railways first arise,
Yet so it was ’till forty-eight
That it was in our fair land,
Should any one by misfortune
Cease his action, to command,
Such lunitick was soon immured
In some dark jail and never cured.

But induced by love and ruth
We at last refuge made
For those poor helpless victims,
As good people long had prayed;
An Asylum, grand and stately,
Rose hard by our Capitol.
Now the jail no more detains them
In its dark and loathsome hold,
The hapless and unfortunate;
And mercy sooths their lost estate.

Our women too, God bless them,
Came at last to have some rights,
A brutal husband ere this,
In accordence with old lights
Could then whip her at his pleasure,
If she chanced to be his wife
Could dispose of all her property
And imbitter so her life,
That often home became a hell
But her sad tale she must not tell.

For there was then, no recourse,
Her appeal was unto God,
And in sorrowful silence
Endured his chastening sod,
But such hardships so in human
Were at last so rectified,
That now no good wife need to
With a scoundrel long abide,
Nor can he without her consent
Take her own goods, no not a cent.

Part XIII  published in the Windsor Ledger Sept 14, 1899
Let my fancy once again
Lead along the golden path
Of a bright and gladsome youth,
For the while the aftermath
Of war and bitter memories
Are forgotten all by me,
So once again I am at home
With the same old company
That helped me face the mover of life
With ne’er a fear of coming strife.

It is as if I lived o’er
Those times thronged with happiness
Once again life’s jocund mover
Makes existance full of bliss,
Can you wonder that I linger
Thus amid so many dear
Whom I have not seen so plainly
Now for many a weary year
Then let me dream a moment longer
And leave dull prose to others stronger

We use to be a people
That were bold and venturous,
And beside Captain Cotton
Others did themselves entrust
To the dangers of the Ocean,
And both Europe and the isles
Lying far down south below us
Saw the whiteness of their sails,
And many a goodly fortune rose
To men who faced stormy billows.

Captain Cotton was the first,
Then old Lewis Meridith,
Ben Wynns and Spencer Daniel
All were men of worth and pith,
And they all amassed such fortunes
That they left behind them names
Which remain still unforgotten
And should shame ends and aims
Of other men in this our day
Who neither thrive on work or play.

In the catalogue of those
Who were also mariners
And as captains and owners
Of their ships, left off in tears
Where faithful wives, when they would dare
To make venture once again,
Well knowing danger ever lurked
In the fearsome Spanish Main
But Spain and all her cruel might
Could not such souls with ease afright.

Like Drake and Hawkins were they,
So with spirit undismayed,
They sailed their ships where they could
Venture in their daring trade;
Then too pirates were swarming there
Within that fearful region
And the dangers multiplied
Until their names were legion
Still these brave men held on their way
In spite of every enemy.

They tell that James Anderson
Was another of these wights
Who would sail alike prepared
For sea traffick or sea fights;
And that he, and Spencer Daniel
Well kept up the story old
Of these daring navigations.
And their dangers manifold
Across the sea and far away
Where tropic palms the trade winds sway.

It was a tragic story
Which was told me of the last
Of these bold mariners
Who dared face the ocean blast,
This was gallant Lewis Petty
Who was noted far and wide
For his handsome form and manner
So he had become the pride
Of many friends where ere he went
So brave and full of merriment.

Lavish of his gifts and smiles,
Tis no wonder he was loved
But a certain fair haired maid
He above others approved,
And at last the daring rover
Was enchained by her sweet smile;
And no wonder that she his wife
Fearful grew of dangers wild
He faced when ere he sailed away
To be gone for many a day.

The young wife and his baby
Were very dear unto him,
In spite of his high spirit
Secret tears would oft bedim
The black eyes that would never blanch
When the ocean rose in wrath
But these loved ones he could nourish
Best upon his beaten path
He wished that they should riches gain.
And so he could not leave the Main.

But the wife grew not weary
In her pleas for other plans
And at last Lewis promised
He would yield to her demands
One more voyage then forever
He would leave the solemn seas,
And no more would be a Captain,
Dare the rage of stormy breeze;
But basking in her gentle smile,
Would rest through days serenely mild.

With this promise off he sailed,
And the Plow Boy, his good ship
Gaily crossed the plunging breakers,
Which mark well the fearsome Rip
Where Ocean’s waters meet with those
Flowing ever from the Sound;
Where the long swell combs in wrath,
That it here finds metes and bounds
And angry waves more angry grow,
When fell northeasters rage and flow.

The fair young wife and baby
Waited for his coming long;
And as he still was absent,
Sadder grew her look and song,
The soft cheeks lost their rosy bloom,
And the light within her eyes
Was like the latest gleam we see
When up on the Western skies,
We see the last pale gleam of day
Ere into night if fades away.

Far down amid the islets
Of the Carribean sea,
The Captain and the ‘Plow Boy’
Were as well as well could be;
His cargo had been all exchanged
For those dainties rich and rare,
Which the tropic islands ever,
In such wild profusion bear,
With good ship stowed from stem to stern,
The hour had come for his return.

The jolly eager seamen
Lifted anchor to its place
And then with sails distended,
Like some good steed in a race,
Swept the ‘Plow Boy’ swiftly homeward
With all her bellying sails,
Like a white cloud went off flying
Highly favored by the gales;
No fear of evil then had they,
As on they fled upon their way.

Well through the ‘Middle Passage’
They had left the Great Antilles
And passing the Bahamas,
Still the breeze their canvas fills;
Soon they neared the long green head land
Known among us as Cape Fear,
Then they knew that home and dear ones
Lay to North and very near;
If no mischance to them shall come,
In three more days they’ll be at home.

But Hatteras, the deadly,
Was yet waiting to be passed;
And well they knew its danger
And the fury of its blast;
But with hearts for home all hungry,
They still bent on every sail,
To bear them still faster onward,
For fear that the friendly gale
Should sink to some dead calm at last,
And step headway off Hatteras.

And as the Captain dreaded.
Just as they approached the coast,
The wind that long had served them
Veered round and there was lost;
The seas went down like some lake
Darkened waters all grew still,
And at that most dreadful moment,
Came a murmur that did chill
The boldest heart in all the crew,
For its dread import well they knew.

‘Twas piteous then to see them,
As they waited for the rush
Of the tidal wave fast coming,
Which they knew would surely sink
Every thing afloat before it,
With its over-powering weight
Then the air grew darker still,
Happened then, that surely night
Had shut the doors of life and hope
Soundly on the seaman grope.

Not one lived to tell the story
Of how these brave men met their fate
Or how that raging tempest
Came with wind and wave so great
That the good ship like a ba’- burst,
And there perished in its might
And not a soul of all the crew
Saw the blush of coming light
On the next day when peace again
Was on the face of all the Main

‘Twas a sad day in Hertford,
When at last the people knew
How gallant Captain Petty
Had perished with all his crew;
So the widow wept in silence
And grew weary with the years,
And long worshipping his image
Kept on weeping bitter tears,
As she recalled the days of yore
That would return to her no more.

Part XIV  published in the Windsor Ledger Sept 21, 1899
I am sure my good neighbor,
That you, very long ago,
Came unto the conclusion
That I draw so long a bow
As to worry you my good friend
And the many readers kind.
Who perchance have been so luckless
Their attention to confine
To these tales an old man tells you
Whose only merit is, they’re true.

And though much of them were best
Left unwritten and unsung,
Still you and other readers
Who by chance have clung
To the thread of my discoursing
Will excuse their emptiness,
Just because they are unto me
Like some darling’s sweet caress,
In that past that’s gone forever
With dear friends across the river.

I am very sure that you
Would in no wise e’er detract
From such high and noble things
That restrain and counteract
Men and women, all who wander
On life’s lonely pilgrimage,
And await the coming season
That shall be the Golden Age,
When a larger humanity
Shall then in truth make us all free.

Freed from bonds of prescription,
Loosing chains of custom old,
Rising out of narrow ruts
To a new and ample fold,
Where the people yet ascending
To a nobler, brighter sphere
With new hopes and expectations
Dawning on us then every year,
And with an increase of stature
Grow more Godlike in their nature.

He that kindles but a spark
Of low hatred in a heart,
Sows a seed that afterwards
Never from it may depart;
But expanding and infecting
Grow and widen with the years,
Till it poisons a whole nation
And results in blood and tears,
Which only cease when wiser men
Show all its folly and its sin.

Like him who on Carmel stood,
And looked out across the sea,
Doing what the prophet bade him,
And who ere long suddenly
Saw across the vast blue waters
Washing many a coast and land;
In the west a little cloudlet
Of the bigness of his hand;
But then that cloud so very small
Was soon to come and kings appall.

So with a truth once spoken
Feeble though may be its morn,
Ten thousand Herods watch it,
And as soon as it is born
They and a rabble brutalized
Build them crosses high and strong
To crucify another saint
While the mad and guilty throng;
To Barrababas sing hosannas
And find in hell their chosen banners.

Alas for poor humanity,
If it should be e’er the same
As it was in past ages
To thus wallow in the shame,
Despising every holy thing
And cleaving to the evil;
With eyes too blind the Lord to know,
Yet not even the Devil
Was more eager for the thing
That would to all swift ruin bring.

But take courage, oh my friend,
This conflict though enduring,
Is sure in the lapse of time
New and better ways to bring,
‘Truth crushed to Earth will rise again
The eternal years of God are hers
While error wounded writhes in pain
And dies amid her worshippers.’
And so we calmly wait on God
And find him best beneath the rod.

The ages in one grand trend,
Lift themselves toward the stars,
In mercy ever and anon,
God helps us break down the bars
Which shut us from the higher plain,
And we lift poor, blinded eyes
And through the rifts behold the King,
He still hears our feeble cries;
To all who give him heart and hand
He leads straight on to Beulah Land.

I was led, my good neighbor,
To indite the thoughts above,
Touching the new relations
Of our race to peace and love;
And the slow but ever widening
Growth of true humanity,
Which is to my apprehension
The surest, noblest test can be
Of how we stand with God on high
And love for him thus testify.

Our Lord has plainly told us
That our duty first and last
Is shown forth in simple words,
That the men of every caste
Should love God with all their power,
And their neighbors as their selves
And that these two great commandments
All the books upon our shelves
Could not amplify or alter,
If in these we do not falter.

But we grow with the ages
And of late a mighty stride
Has been made toward the goal
Promised us by Him who died
To lead on that great Jubilee
When the lion and the lamb
Shall consort by silent waters
And discord no longer damn
A race that God would only bless
And crown with perfect happiness.

A hundred years ago sir
Even our good fathers thought
That they and all their children
At that time certainly ought
To serve and obey forever
Him by grace of God their king
And all their rights and liberties
Could from him only spring,
That he was source of every right
Their royal master, hope and light.

We’ve slightly changed that Robert,
We say now, that all the law,
All rights and regulations,
From the people ever flow:
And that kings, at best are phantoms
Of the childish ages gone,
They never knew their power and rights
Til there had dawned forth better lights:

A hundred years ago sir,
And our jails were never free
Of good honest men, there pining,
Barred from hope and liberty;
For no other cause or reason,
Than their debts had some excess
Over available assets
They then happened to possess;
So often then the wisest, best,
For weary years in jail were cast.

If some sudden disaster
Fell on greatest prince in trade,
His life and views the noblest
No difference ever made,
If a creditor malignant
Closed the doors of mercy fast,
Then he looked on home and children
And that look was oft his last,
The murderer might his pardon get
But mercy never to a man in debt.

And thus it was friend Robert,
In too many other things,
But a man had best defer
When too long a lay he sings:
So we’ll wait a wee, mon ami
And will take some better time
To discuss a recent blessing;
So in homely, halting rhyme
For a week I’ll bid adieu
To other readers and to you.

Part XV  published in the Windsor Ledger Sept 28, 1899
Ahoskie Ridge good neighbor
Has not been without romance,
With so many pretty girls.
Rich in smile, and melting glance;
Tis no wonder, that our gallants,
Have been prompt to answer these,
So now, Robert, I will tell you
A short story, if you please,
Of how a winsome maiden once
Made a big man act like a dunce.

I am sure, that you have heard
Of the famous Colonel Brickell,
‘Twill serve to paint a model,
And to show how very fickle
Are the fairest maids,
too often In this wicked world of ours;
And also how wise men, sometimes
In spite of all their powers,
Out-witted are, then left forlorn
By maidens who their pleading scorn.

The Brickells had been leaders
For a good one hundred years,
In wealth, power, and culture
They were all along the peers
Of the proudest, and the wisest
In the country far around,
And never on Ahoskie Ridge,
Was there opposition found
To any schemes, or plans of theirs,
And long they bossed our good forbears.

This Colonel was the latest Man,
of all his ancient stock,
That were fifty years before
Living here is such a flock.
Sometimes the clan would send at once,
Three of the name to Raleigh
To legislate and greater grow,
And so it was but rarely
Public affairs were fixed up well
Without the help of a Brickell.

They were preachers and doctors
They were lawyers too and saints,
Some were even literary;
So the public had no wants
Which a Brickell could not manage
In some way to satisfy
And thus became the paragons
Of the lowly, and the high,
In very truth a noble breed
With many honors all their meed.

Many gracious things are told
Of the founder of the line,
He it was that came here first
Herald brave, in cause divine,
And the blessings he brought others
Were reflected on his race;
Worthy man, in times primeval,
Unto whom was given grace
To minister in holy things
And soften human sufferings.

But the greatest of the race
Was however Colonel Mat,
Who in our highest places
Long in honor, safely sat,
Leading lawyer at assizes
And church warden many years
Such a man, of course was potent
In Provincial affairs,
And so when e’re he would consent
To the assembly he was sent.

It was no wonder then sir,
That such a man should amass,
Outside of all his honors,
An estate for those days vast;
And his grandson inherited
Much the greater part of this,
Thus you see he soon was foremost
Mark for all amenities,
Which maid or matron could contrive
That such a man with her should wive.

So the colonel early saw
How such matters lay around,
But in an early marriage
He, in no way could be found,
And the floods of adulation
Turned his not capacious head,
So from every bait and banter
Had he so adoitly fled,
His friends and foes gave up the hope
That he in wedlock e’er should grope.

So rich and so cultured, Bob
So serene and handsome too,
There was sorrow around him,
And the fair romantic crew
Of sweet maidens, softly whispered
That the thing would never be,
For him a happy Benedick
Their eyes should never see,
But all things come to those who wait
And surely come, though they be late.

0n the shady side of forty
Had this fair Adonis gone,
And fatal crows feet, surely
On his face their work begun,
Ere he noticed the great beauty
Of an heiress, he had known
Ever since her dark eyes opened
To enchant each soul in town,
He had for once, too long been blind
To woman with her charms divine.

This all-conquering beauty
Was too much for even him,
She had won all others round
While his eyes were yet so dim
And her wonderous gifts and graces
Supplimented by her wealth,
Made her so entirely charming
That he was no more himself
But an humble suitor making
Oaths, his heart was well nigh breaking.

She could not treat such a man
With anything but courtesy,
But she minded from the first,
That she never would agree
To be the wife of a man so old,
But her mother had her say
Being charmed at such a prospect
Of the long expected day.
When this big men should change his life
And take at last himself a wife.

Prayer and tears were all vain
It would never, never do
For a maid, such chance to lose
And she dared not answer no,
And so the poor young girl was driven
Into act her soul abhorred
And she plighted him her promise
He should be her wedded lord
Alas; how many thus have done
And into sorrow swiftly run.

There was a youthful suitor,
Who had long, not in vain
Breathed softly to this maiden,
All the secret of his pain,
But her mother scorned the prospect
Of such son-in-law for her.
From this rooted resolution
Nothing had been found to stir.
A woman, proud and worldy wise,
Who riches thought were Paradise.

Great was the preparation
For the marriage feast to come,
The whole mansion was refitted,
Which would be their future home,
With a lavishness of splendor
Never seen before that day.
For the furniture and presents
The old people used to say,
Made all beholders, rub their eyes
O’er such display of luxuries.

The town was early crowded,
Still the people came till night
Would soon to be upon them,
And the evenings waning light
Warned the mother to see to it
If the bride was yet arrayed;
She found the room all empty,
And no one could find the maid,
She who was to have been a bride
In evening shades away had hied.

There was no wedding Robert
That night in the ancient town
But the feast the Colonel gave
Was a thing of wide renown,
It was a bitter lesson taught
A man who long had reigned
As a quasi monarch ever
‘Till like athlete over-trained
He had not the manhood left him
Such small misfortunes to condemn.

The Colonel never rallied
From this blow upon his pride,
The story of his jilting,
Grew a thorn within his side,
‘Till he left North Carolina
And hid way down in the South,
Where the story of his troubles
Was not heard in every mouth
And died he there in single state
Unwept by either child or mate.

I never knew the fortunes,
Of the lovers who thus fled
On the evening the maiden
Was expected to be wed,
But it happened that this suitor,
Managed at the latest hour
To bear away the girl he loved,
Far beyond the rich man’s power
And I suppose ’tis safe to say
Lived ever happy from that day.

Part XVI  published in the Windsor Ledger Oct 5, 1899
I am very thankful, neighbor!
That your book has come at last,
I’ve been waiting its appearance
For the weary three months past,
With my eager wish to see it,
And with it, also your face,
I can scarely make you know sir
How much gloom is or the place,
When to Ahoskie I have gone
And found the town still all forlorn.

I cannot forbear the tale
Of our sorrow and regret.
That amid the strangers, you
Find so many causes yet,
To retard you in returning
To true friends, who one and all
Now would crown your lofty brow,
And with joy, both great and small
Give thanks that you so worthily
Rank now among the literati.

Dear Sir: I can assure you
That your book a credit is,
To the powers of your mind
And your heart’s amenities,
The sweetness and the purity
Of a work so undefiled,
Make it welcome to the man
And as charming to the child
And in its rhythmic cadences
A wealth of subtile beauty lies.

The sweetness of its morals,
Leads it such a luring charm
That its teachings cannot bring
Any soul distress or harm.
So Robert: bless your happy stars
That a monument of love
You have built for after times
And reward, from realms above
Will still be yours when you and I
Shall under tender daises lie.

Your book will long outlive us,
And will well perserve your name
When the millons now living
Shall be lost to earth and fame;
Some pure souls, long hereafter
Will its unstained pages scan,
And across the gulf of ages
Will rise up and bless the man
We knew, so full of tenderness
To all who may be in distress.

Yes, souls alive to purity
Whether seen by eye or mind
Such a man too large for hatred,
Nor by prejudice confined
To narrow ruts or smaller creeds,
But with love to God and man
Finds broader vistas as he goes
And new friends on every hand
And dying leaves an honored name
Full well preserved in niche of fame.

My dear sir, I was thinking
That another little tale
I would tell e’re these legends
For sheer want of breath shall fail
All about a lonely stranger
Who in long dead days of yore,
Came from far across the ocean
Unto Carolina’s shore;
And he lived on so well and long
As thus to merit quite a song.

Thomas Blount was so fearless,
That he built his first rude home
Right among the Tuscaroras,
Then by far most troublesome
Of all the many Indian nations;
Found in Carolina then,
But with so much danger lurking
To all neighbors of this clan.
Young Thomas boldly built his home
With prayer unto his halidom.

This was but a little time
Ere the court house at St. Johns
Rose to give them aid and law,
They old England’s dauntless sons
Who were building slow and surely
The foundations wide and deep
Of our present Great Republic;
And we all, should proudly keep
Their names and deeds in memory
And thank the Lord, we still are free.

The Tuscaroras were a part
Of the mighty Iroquois,
Whose proud domain extended
From Niagara’s awful roar,
O’er the lonely lakes and valleys
In the greatest of our States.
And they long had been the masters
And controllers of the fates
Of all the tribes that roamed the plain
Between the Mountains and the Main.

The Tuscaroras left their homes
In the far off, chilly North,
Scare a hundred years before
Bertie County had its birth;
And in that time, lords paramount
Had ruled all the spacious lands,
‘Twixt the Alleghany Mountains
And the great seas gleaming sands
The proud unconquered victors, they‘er
all that had come in their way.

These Iroquois, from the first
Had been e’er the close allies
Of our brave British fathers,
And a thousand ancient ties
Had bound them in fraternity,
And together they had warred
Upon the French and Algonquins
Until then little was feared,
That pipes so ofter smoked in peace
Should ever see them enemies.

Thomas built his first dwelling
In that lovely region still
As ‘Indian Woods’ is known among us,
Where the eye can feast at will
Over prospects ever peaceful,
And where smiling plenty dwells.
Noble men, and fairest women
Grace its homes and till its fields
Where God and Nature bounty spread
And heroes sleep amid its dead.

He, the bold and fearless came
With no neighbor within call
Deep within the wood encamping
Many a stately tree must fall
Ere the building he’s erecting
Shall be fitted for some mate.
Though thus hidden ‘mong the heathen
Yet he recognized the state
Of the woman and the children,
Some future day might to him send.

He, and his negro bondsmen,
Had a loyal friend in need,
An Indian Chief and his tribemen
Were unlike their war-like breed,
And asisted long and loyal
As the great house stately rose,
Helping largely in the labors
And kept watch against all foes,
Till it was such friendship came
The Chief assumed e’en
Tom Blount’s name

At length the house was finished,
And a great expanse of fields
Stretched far toward the river,
Where the densely wooded hills
Over looked his smiling meadows.
With blue vistas, opening far
Through the distant western woodlands
Where the pensive evening star
Shown from heaven, as natures sign
That then, the weary rest shall find.

Thus he soon became leader
Both of Indian and Whites,
Ever faithful to his promise,
So regardful too of rights,
He was ere long so much trusted
And beloved far and near
That his influence but widened
With each lapsing busy year
Yet still in lonely state he dwelt
As need of bride was never felt.

It would seem that he never
Would exchange his loneliness
And some fair young maiden seek
His fourth-coming years to bless
Vain were the prayer and entreaties
From his closest, dearest friends,
Either his cared naught for women,
Or that hidden aims and ends
Were revolving in his bosom
Like roses waiting yet to blossom

Part XVII  published in the Windsor Ledger Oct 12, 1899
At Last he met his charmer
In the town of Edenton,
A fair belle of Williamsburg
On a visit there had gone,
He, one of the Royal Council
Would be there for weeks to come
And the Virginia beauty
Like some flower in fullest bloom
So won upon him day by day
That both agreed longer to stay.

He told of his lonely lodge
Far from civil neighborhood,
And so long she pondered o’er
His asking her to intrude
Upon that lonely seat of love;
That he well nigh desperate,
Gave up the hope that she would come
And sought home, where till of late
His happy days had all been sweet
But heavy then in sad defeat.

But true love is hard to kill;
He resolved not yet to yield,
There is ever hope of triumph
To the knight who keeps the field;
So unto the Old Dominion
He went armed from spur to plume
And confronted the proud beauty
Soon he made her change her tune.
So Christmas Day saw bride and groom
Safely ensconsed in their sweet home.

I can’t tell you neighbor, mine,
Of the festive scenes and joy
Old Christmas saw out-cropping,
Every man became a boy,
And women too went almost mad
In their wild festivities,
Showing how her new made neighbors
Wished the lovely bride to please;
Sir Toby Belch and Argue Cheek
Could not the record farily break.

Rarely in this world of our’s
Have a couple like them made
Friends of every soul in reach,
Yea, of every tint and shade,
And by linking closer ever
Bonds of love and interest,
Found their lives the brighter growing,
And not yet content to rest
With the good already round them,
Ere old age and care had found them.

So with such sweetness ever
In their bearing, unto all;
The white people, like the Indians,
All were bound in silken thrall,
Highest honors with their blessings
Gave they unto such a friend,
While their fevid love and praises
To his wife had never end
For once in human thinking
A man was found from foeman free.

But their joys culminated In a lovely family
God was pleased to allow them,
Already blest so bountifully;
And they watched their sons and daughters
As they grew in beauty there,
In the midst of savage neighbors
And wild beast in his lair,
Knowing He could well defend them,
And all who trust Him to the end.

For fifty years friend Robert,
There had been no trouble seen
‘Twixt the Indian and Whites,
And it still so would have been,
But one vicious Thomas Carey
Was by chance made Governor,
And from that day until his death
There was trouble and uproar;
Nothing would do but he again
As Governor once more should reign.

He cared not for King or men
Deaf to mercy and the law
Only Carey’s wealth and station
Valued he a single straw;
So when the king’s appointee came
Carey had to yield his place
But he got in so much trouble
And was sunk in such disgrace
He like some devil incarnated
With blood and war was only sated.

As fugitive from justice
He took refuge’mongst the tribes
The Indian mind he poisoned
And incited them by bribes
To rise in bloody massacre
And his helpless country-men
To slay at sight like folded sheep
Bound in slumber’s golden chain
And told them if they rose not then
The chance would never come again.

The Tuscaroras pondered
Very long and doubtingly
They and their buried fathers
Had been so honorably
Bound in a bond unbroken long
So’twas hard to strike a blow
On friends like these so trustful e’er
And who oft with them would go
As allies in the tented field
On battle’s front oft locking shield.

This Carey and his agents
Tried hard in old Bertie
To work his scheme of vengeance,
Which he found elsewhere easy;
But the Indian Chief had been too long
The dear friend of him who lay
In restful peace so closely by,
And where oft he spent the day;
Not only guest but honored friend
Whose sports with his would often blend.

He had taken too his name
And was also Thomas Blount,
Blood brothers in a covenant,
And should he all this surmount,
For he loved his lordly people
And their records of the past;
Bravest of the brave they had been,
Was it true that coming fast
Was the day when their proud station
Should come to utter desolation.

So said Carey and his crew
And they almost broke his heart,
Yet the stern old heathen king
Scorned to play such shameful part
All unmoved he was as of yore
But guarding night and day
And watching with his own true braves
Lest the foe should come that way
So stern and sorrowful he stood
To guard a friend he knew was good.

The oath that he had taken,
The dark secret well to keep
Kept him from plainly telling
What great danger on did sweep,
But his friend was warned in season
And such watch and ward he kept
That no foe would hope to heaven him
As he still in comfort slept;
The nights were wild with wind and snow
Yet sleepless all the watchers go.

It was a fearful trial
To the chief’s untutored soul,
When his brothers came around
And their mission fully told,
Of the white man’s vast agressions
On the land their fathers won
By long and bloody warfare
Whom they said would now disown
Their weak and craven children
Should they longer supine lie,
And see their last places taken
Without seeking once to try
What virtue yet was in their bows
Victorious so far o’er all foes.

Should the Great Spirit see them
Bowing down eternally,
Low before these new intruders
Upon men for ages free,
And so they wait in dumb submission
Till their last dear hunting grounds
Were all fenced in by the stranger,
And no room for them be found;
Why not then rise in freedom’s might
And for themselves and country fight.

The Chieftain loved his people
And traditions of the past
He loved the great wide forest
And the rivers flowing fast
But he’d sworn by the great spirit
That came ever weal or woe
His blood-covernant should bind him.
And God willing should be so
Whatever other chiefs might do
He and his men would still be true.

Part XVIII  published in the Windsor Ledger Oct 19, 1899
It will never be forgotten,
Till the Earth’s last day has come,
What a fearful season followed,
When in Winter’s deepest gloom,
A cry arose that reached the stars
And thrilled over all the land
Of the slaughtered, helpless people,
And of some fresh, furious band
Still bent on wiping out in blood
All traces of where white men had stood.

Helpless mothers with their broods,
Found no mercy in their eyes,
And the frenzied savages
Joyful grew to hear their cries,
Over many a plain and river
Flew the messengers of death,
And the butchery continued,
Scarely taking time for breath,
Until all south of Albemarle
Was wrapt in death and ruin’s pall.

Our fathers stood astounded,
Half-way ruined and appalled,
How should they meet their foemen,
From whence could help be called;
And too, the mighty Iroquois
Might upon them also come;
Surely never darker shadows
Brought on men profounder gloom;
But Thomas Blount down in Bertie,
Stood as true as true could be.

The broad expanse of the Sound
Guarded well their southern line,
And along the Roanoke
No ingress the foe could find;
King Blount with his hundred braves,
Supplemented comrades white,
And they slew each straggling band
Found therein by day or night,
Until a wall of fire no more
Had safety brought to Bertie’s shores.

We all know the story well,
Of old King Blount’s future days,
How our people honored him,
Filled his life with gifts and praise;
But they largely over-looked it,
Over looked how much his friend,
By his noble life of kindness
Made possible such an end;
When faith well-kept between the two
Became a shield for all the crew.

I do not know mon ami,
If you ever heard the name
Of old King David Braswell,
Who attained no little fame
By reason of his cognomen,
Likewise his huge proportions,
And in addition to these,
He had such ways and notions,
That the whole region round him bent
Unto his will as on he went.

A rare and ready talker,
Was King Davy in his day,
Whatever round him happened
He was sure to have his say,
And to say it with an unction,
That left ne’er a doubt behind,
As to how the subject matter
Might appear unto his mind,
And if perchance it stirred his bile,
All knew that fact within the mile.

For his voice was in keeping
With his tall, gigantic frame,
It was also wonderful
How in using of the same,
He could make it serve his purpose
To attract or to repell,
Rarely failed he to accomplish,
Every purpose kind or fell;
In fact Sir Giles Over-reach
Was not to him half a match.

He had a temper too, Sir,
That was swift to show its might,
Woe to the adversary
Who in daring to do right
Incurred King Davy’s hatred,
For it lasted many a day
As he gave unto his enmity,
An unbounded scope and play;
And thus he made both foes and friends
Subserve his purposes and ends.

His huge proportions made him
A thing of dread to many;
But there was a black-eyed maid,
Who did not care a penny
For all his loud and bitter words,
Nor for all his wrathful allies
She had a way of laughing down
His mountains into valleys
And making things that he held great
As undeserving of debate.

And thus this huge autocrat
Who had ruled the neighborhood,
Soon before this laughing minx,
In dumb subjection stood;
The wonder grew each passing day,
What might be the magic spell,
That thus upon his majesty,
So mysteriously fell,
And greater still it grew when he
Was known her suitor sure to be.

Long and racy was the tale,
Told of how the giant wooed
This mischievous vixen fair,
How she worried and subdued,
One whom all the folk beside her
Held in terror and in awe
Who has thus become so altered
As to take from her the law,
As to all he should be doing
While this maid he was pursuing.

After much tribulation,
His royal highness had his way,
Even with this perverse beauty,
And upon their wedding day,
Made feast and welcome unto all,
Known to him both far and near,
And the fame of his espousals
Lingered on from year to year;
For long and merry was the season,
Joyous almost beyond all reason.

For almost a full year,
Big King David held in check
The fierey ebulitions
Which his former peace did wreck,
The huge bride-groom waited on her,
On his wife with love and trust,
Even she became astonished
That he never raised a fuss,
And hoped the day would never come
To change their present halidom.

But sweet love with all its strength
Cannot restrain forever
The mighty throes of such a man,
Spite of his strong endeavor,
And though he was loving, kind and true,
At last it so befell him,
That he felt a foe had wronged him
And he must meet and quell him,
Such a duty he must tackle,
However women folk might cackle.

It appears King Davy’s sheep
Had been worried by the dogs,
Of an ancient enemy
Down in Cutta Wiska bogs,
And so far from making amends,
He insulting message sent
To his dethroned majesty
And unto such measures went
Because he thought David would bow
To almost any wronging now.

Robin Rix was sore mistaken,
The old ruler who of yore
All opposition round him,
So the earth so quickly bore
So his vengeance on his neighbor,
Was accomplished full and fast,
He was once again himself
And the glamour from him passed;
And from that time
King Davy’s way
Was intact to his dying day.

First he got legal damage
For the work of Rix’s dogs,
And one day when Rob was hauling
On the high way load of logs,
King Davy met him suddenly
And he then and there repaid
Any small amount still due him,
On account of canine raid;
And for insolence thereafter
Rix had made a theme of laughter.

Now ’twas not customary
In those days to prosecute,
Or to go to law for vengeance,
Even by bringing civil suit;
It was held a thing uncivil,
For a grown up man to do;
This appealing to the court house,
Thereby to help a fellow through
Any quarrel his own muscle
Should decide in such a tussle.

But Robin said his beating
Was not at all in reason;
Old King Davy had not stayed
His avenging hand in season,
But had striped his opponent
On that day from head to heel;
And a chastizement like to this
Outraged Rix could but feel
Cried aloud for measures fitting
To such an agravating beating.

Part XIX  published in the Windsor Ledger Oct 26, 1899
It was thus, that Robin went
For the first time into law,
And King Davy raised a rumpass,
When at last he plainly saw,
He now must stir his level best,
If he hoped at all to miss
Long confinement, in the prison,
And defeat at last confess,
Unless some unknown remedy
Should be found to set him free.

But two good lawyers told him,
After vain research for means
To deliver the big man,
That of all the many scenes,
In their long and varied practice,
Never a case like this was theirs,
They could see no hope of winning,
And they had the greatest fears,
That he would surely without fail
Spend weary months within the jail.

It was then a woudrous thing
Was concocted in the brain
Of King Davy’s handsome wife
Who conceived and put in train
All the wily schemes to fuddle
Judge and Jury both at court
And this her desperate resort.
I will to you, now report
How a shrewd and loving woman
Outwitted all her husbands foemen.

The lawyers knew his Honor
How his weakness always lay
In a long established habit
Of devoting his last day
At the court to deep libations
So they got their case postponed
At the eager wish of Council
As they stoutly each deposed
That earlier they could not be
Prepared for trial properly.

So early Friday morning
The old Judge received a call
And met a lady winsome
Who did not disclose at all
That she bore any relation
To the man who on that day
Was to be tried before him for
An outrageous affray
She told the Judge she wanted him
To help her troubles deep to stem.

Then a story pitiful
She told her bland listener
A long tale so sorrowful
That She could not but infer
That this trouble was a matter
Largely in expectancy
But that he and he alone then
Could her future life make free
So between her smiles and tears
He tried to calm her many fears.

She had two jugs of brandy
Which for thirty years or more
Had been slowly ripening
On King Davy’s cellar floor
Then the delicate aroma
Was like music in the air
And this presented as it was
By a woman bright and fair
Was far more than his Honor could
By any fair means have with stood.

She had seen the jury men
Long before the Judge she met
And they knew by whose kind help
Then their lips were often wet
And when they peeled the court house bell
It was plainly to be seen
That something more than ordinary
Soon would come to pass therein
The sheriff stood astounded all
As jurymen answered to his call.

Being an old bachelor
And gallant as he could be
The Judge was rather slow at first
Not feeling yet entirely free
To sample the big demijon
But she urged him to repeat
His estactic libations
Listning to her voice so sweet
That he forgot his place and duty
Overcome by so much beauty.

The sheriff and solicitor
Had his Honor not surveyed
Until he was in his seat
All without extraneous aid
So the case was called and given
To the jury e’re the State
Could fully realize affairs
So it was then much too late
To stop the trial for some day
When wiser wits should come in play.

Of course King Davy conquered
Like he did in every thing
And of course there were whispers
So to his mannouvering
But his scornful laugh was answer
And his strong right arm embraced
The dear handsome wily consort
Who helped him, as he outfaced.
The outraged law in all its might
And always was his life and light.

Part XX  published in the Windsor Ledger Nov 2, 1899
Once upon a time long ago
When there was a great demand
For the things brought from abroad
By the ships from foreign land,
In the midst of such privation,
When a little sugar cost
More than any honest farmer
Got for things he valued most,
There was tribulation far and wide
And scant the store that was supposed.

So down in Murfreesboro,
And Winton too the women,
Were all watching at that time,
And discussing each omen T
hat could foretell the weal or woe
Of the vessel gone to sea;
For upon the safe returning
Of the ships they could foresee
Depended all the coming show
Each girl would make before her beau.

The British cruisers watching
And blockading then out coast,
Made the boldest seaman ponder
And consider well the cost,
Ere he ventured into dangers,
Both of life and his good ship;
Only by good luck and sailing
Could he give such foe the slip,
And in the darkness find the cover
Needed by such dauntless rover.

Thus it was when Captain Wynns
For West Indian islands sailed,
Quite a catalogue of wants
Was upon him thus entailed,
And Captain Benjamin, was told
By a blue-eyed, laughing blonde
That she wanted him to fetch her
From across the great salt pond,
A bridal trouseau to surpass
All ever seen in seasons past.

This maiden was a beauty,
Such as come to us in dreams,
So gloriously fashioned
And with golden, shining gleams
On her long and heavy tresses,
Like rich mantle over all,
No wonder that the youth around
Should before her prostrate fall;
Yes, every one in all those parts
Agreed she was the queen of hearts.

This lovely Susan Manney
Had been seemingly averse
To all the many offers
Made to her in the short course
Of her eighteen happy summers;
And for some time it had been
That of all old Hertford’s daughters,
She was the accepted queen;
And ne’r since Grecian Helen swayed
The hearts of men, was fairer maid.

Far back in the past ages,
A rich young Englishman
Had come to Carolina
And bought the famous land
Lying in the peninsula,
‘Twixt Meherrin and Chowan;
Noble rivers both that bless us,
As they pass us flowing on,
Till broader waters gently fall
In wider wastes of Albemarle.

Thus we know it still, my friend,
In our day as Manney Neck,
Here, for a full century,
Wise, and ever circumspect,
Men of the Manney blood had been
Winning wealth and station e’er;
And of many winsome daughters
None as yet could compare
With this fair Susan, who did then
So move the hearts of all the men.

With a majestic stature
She had all the loviness,
Golden hair, and azure eyes,
Give to those who may possess
Those rarest of the many charms,
God has given to the few;
Who thus are armed and well equipped
Hearts of heroes to subdue;
Such rare and radient beauties are
The crowned of queens in Cupid’s war.

I have never told you, neighbor,
In these endless gossipings,
Of how this Susan Manney
Won the heart of Thomas Wynns;
They lived way back in the ages,
When our great grandfathers were
In the hey-day of their pleasure,
And the time was drawing near
When the fealty so long borne
To their king should be gone.

This Thomas was the youngest
Of four distinguished brothers,
And was then giving promise
To surpass them, and others,
For tho’ barely reaching manhood,
He had borne himself so well
That a career of prominence,
Every token did foretell;
With wealth and troops of loyal friends
He had large wit to shape his ends.

It was thus no wonder, sir,
That young Thomas was one
Of the many who were then,
By this peerless maiden won
But she was one of those who love
To use the magic power
Of her great beauty day by day
And would yet defer the hour
When she at last a wedded wife
Must lose such homage from her life.

In all the wide country round
Mothers looked upon him then
As to the most desirable
Match, their daughters fair could win,
And so with wealth, his youth, and grace,
Together, with manner sweet,
Gave to him troops of admirers,
And in every social fete
He was the leader and the life
The very man to win a wife.

It was then a wonder great
Among many good old folk
That Miss Susan Manney could
Decline such nuptial yoke
What! lose a husband such as this
Sure the girl has lost her wits
So said those wise old gossipers
Who went almost into fits
That Susan thus should throw away
The best chance, that could come her way.

Over and over pleading thus
He prayed her to consent
But she smiling, yet withheld
Loves last token of assent
He was loath to be despairing
And lose chance of such a prize,
Love so great is slow in giving
Up all hope before it dies
So in alternate joy and grief
He vainly sought of her relief.

So the lover determined
He would give her one more chance
To give him a certain answer
So at the last parting dance
Given just before the sailing
Of his brothers ship away
There in loves most earnest pleading
She heard all he had to say
With jewelled brows, that summer night
She stood full robed in spotless white.

It is true from beginning
Of his courtship Thomas won
Many tokens of her love
But she would not fully own
All he wished for, but like Felix
Would await a session when
She would tell him, all he wished for
And would thus make full amend
For keeping him so long in doubt
As to how his suite would turn out.

Vainly he o’re and over
Besought her, to make his hope
So assured that ne’er again
He in dismal doubt should grope
Looking love, no art could cover
With full many other things
Showing what her lips refused him
Still despite all his pleadings
She would not fix the happy day

Part XXI (A)- published in the Windsor Ledger Nov 9, 1899
But he was of such a bent
As hates to be defeated,
He’d calmly borne for months
This hard way to be treated,
But the last moment now had come
He would dally never more,
She must answer then, or never,
Or that he, some foreign shore
Would seek as refuge when he could,
No more upon her peace intrude.

He told her, all the story
Of his love, and new intent,
Standing there, in the moon light,
And she was so long silent
That he hoped her resolution
Had relaxed, for once, and all,
But she only asked him kindly
To be led back to the ball.
And they amid dancers parting
He was soon from them departing.

The very day thereafter,
His own brother, Captain Ben,
Would sail for the West Indies,
And fair Susan, trembled when
They told her that he, sure enough
To his word had been faithful,
And now was gone so far away T
hat with grief his cup was full;
She had not dreamed his words were true,
But now too late, she found them so.

‘Twas a great time, in Hertford;
In those days, when ships would sail
Across the great sea water,
And such voyage entail
Much concernment, into many,
Who were chief thus supplied
In many wants, that overwise
Would else be to them denied,
So Captain Ben, had endless orders
For such things, from foreign borders.

‘Twas not only coffee, then,
And the sugar, all would need,
But their dear Jamaica rum,
And all things, that foreign trade
Brought unto men, out in the woods,
Came to our sires thus, by the sea;
So friend Robert you understand,
How very, very anxiously,
Those good old folks, who flourished then
Watched the coming of Captain Ben.

Many good wives, whose dainties
For the coming Christmas times,
Would be largely what he brought;
Jellies, Cocas, Spices, limes,
And a hundred other matters,
Only to be ever found
Down in those enchanting islands,
Whose profusion finds no bound,
Where endless summer, holds its sway
And winters cold ne’er comes that way.

‘Twas long before Captain Ben,
Ventured out and on his return,
There were waiting enemies
Who might seize and quickly burn
His good ship, if once he started
And they caught him out at sea;
Only in the Spanish harbor
Could he then in safety be,
So he bided until he saw
How he could reach his home afar.

The young lover all this time
Had in silent sorrow borne
His affliction without hope,
‘Till by chance, it became known,
That a Yankee craft was going
Off for Europe the next day,
And on this, he taking passage
Started on his doubtful way
Steering o’er the ocean wide,
Ere long, a foeman was espied.

After an exciting chase
The Yankee was over hauled,
And for the skippers papers,
Soon the British Captain called.
There he saw it plainly stated
That one Thomas Wynns, Gent,
Was booked as going to Bourdeaux;
As supposed with some intent
Of thus procuring foreign aid,
To the rebellion lately made.

Thus it was by cruel fate
This unhappy youth was borne
As prisoner of state,
With a prospect all forlorn;
He was lodged in London Tower,
Until the Royal Government,
Should be able to discover
What was surely his intent,
In daring thus to cross the seas
When notes of war, filled every breeze.

There in those gloomy chambers
In the sad dark days of yore
Had lain the gallant Raleigh,
Lady Jane, and Thomas Moore,
Luckless Kings, and Princes many
And a host of noble men,
Had been led from out its portals,
Soon to meet a bloody end.
So Thomas waited patiently
To see what his own fate should be.

His youth, and simple bearing,
With his high-bred courtesey,
Added to a full confession,
Served to set the young man free,
The wise old statesman, saw at once
That no scheme of treachery,
Had led the youth to leave his home,
To cross the dangerous sea,
Seeking in far-off foreign lands
Release from Cupid’s cruel barbs.

When Captain Ben and his ship,
Haply once again reached home,
He found that many people
Were in the profoundist gloom,
Nigh despairing of this coming.
Christmas had already come
Not a single breath of tidings
Had told where, he yet did roam.
When lo! the good ship once again
Had safe returned from oe’r the Main.

But sad to tell, fair Susan,
Heard with auguish the sad tale,
That her lover came not back
But had sent a long farewell,
In a brief missive, telling her
She would see him never again;
As he then was sadly starting
For the lands beyond the main,
Where he in time might over come
A portion of his present gloom.

She had not thought a moment,
When he sailed from her away,
That longer than a voyage
Would he dare prolong his stay,
She was sure, that the long, long days,
Of his absence, would but find
Him, unto all the memories
Of their past, and he would find,
That after all; she would relent,
And to his suit at last consent.

It was then with aching soul
That she heard that he was gone
Far across the ocean waters
With no promise of return.
And withal, his hopeless letter,
Bidding her a long adieu,
Crushed her last fond expectation.
“Oh,” she cried, “what shall I do?”
And the long night watches found her
In piteous state to those around her.

She had never known her heart,
Had not dreamed of how she loved
Now she realized how well
She was prized, by him who roved
There was little outward showing
Of the greatness of her grief.
For two lives thus madly ruined
By her own mistaken doing.

Her father saw the pallor
Of her cheeks, that used to bloom,
And he watched her step unsteadily,
As she passed from room to room,
But no dream of why, or wherefore,
Filled his deeply anxious mind
He, only coupled his caresses,
More than ever grew so kind.
That in her dumb unhappiness,
She yearned the whole truth to confess.

Part XXI (B)- published in the Windsor Ledger Nov 16, 1899

Alas! this loving maiden
Had a goodly store of pride
Her dread of all things earthly
Was that people might deride
Her great jolly, in refusing,
One for whom, she now would die;
It was thus, she pined in silence,
As the days went sadly by,
She only moaned “the night is dreary”
Of day light, I’m still more weary.

At midnight, when her mother
Could not from anxiety,
Find accustomed balm of sleep,
It was then, all silently,
She stood o’er her sleeping daughter,
And the maiden in her dreams,
Murmured of her aching sorrow,
While by help of the moon beams
She saw her cheeks were wet with tears
And spoken words betrayed her cares.

Thus the long hidden secret,
Came at last to the light,
Yet, in dire perplexity,
Were her friends that summer night,
As to how they could recall him,
He who yet, was far away,
Pining in a foreign prison,
Where, the blessed light of day
Was barred from them confined therein,
And yet were guiltless of all sin.

But they were much mistaken,
For the lover long ago,
Had been freed from all restraint;
And in London it was so,
That spite of war and enmity
He was making many friends,
And being left unto himself
Followed his own views and ends;
But as the English were his foes,
He could not find with them repose.

He was in perplexity
As to what he next should do,
It was wrong to longer stay,
But where, then, had he to go?
It was thus, he stood debating,
When a letter came to him
Telling of his sweetheart’s sorrow;
How her eyes had grown so dim,
And all the love of days agone
Came back to make him all her own.

Then he sped across the sea,
Just as fast as wind and tide, T
hen could bear such a lover
To the presence of his bride;
Soon her damask cheek was blooming
Telling sorrow all was gone,
And the church bells, too were pealing;
To salute their wedding morn,
Northampton, Hertford, and Bertie
Were all on hand the fete to see.

At least the aristocracy
Of all these three balliwicks,
Were in Murfreesboro, seen,
There to see, the parson fix,
The marriage bonds, between the two;
And no couple ever yet,
Lived in wedlock more serene,
Or among our people met
More of reverence and love,
Or themselves, more worthy proved.

Hertford never had a man,
Who, so long her pulses swayed;
Every honor in her gift,
At his feet, she gladly laid.
All his manhood dedicated
To the nation, and the state,
Gave him place, and precedence,
Among men, who too were great
No statesman e’er had fewer sins
Than our general Thomas Wynns.

It was their only sorrow,
That no children blessed their home;
The great house down at Barfields
Had in this its only gloom
But we still have in old Hertford
Just a few, who worthily
Keep the name, and former virtues
Of this ancient family;
God bless us all, and make us too
To every plighted promise true.

In those far off years, neighbor,
Early in this century,
There was living, strong, and lusty,
In the County of Bertie,
A strange old man, with daughter fair,
Who for many miles around,
Was considered fairest, richest
Heiress to be therein found;
And this you see would certainly
Make many wish her mate to be.

They lived on a great wide farm,
Down beside the Roanoke,
Its broad fields, stretched far away,
To forests dark with ash and oak;
Across the river too, his vast
Expanse of lofty cypress rose,
From which at midnight often came
Sounds, that boldest spirits froze,
Where bullfrogs, wildcats, bears and owls,
Gave fourth their loudest screams and howls.

The lonely great house far away,
From the village of the slaves,
Stood upon a headland high
Close beside the river’s waves;
Here in state, like times primeval,
And the patriarchs of old,
Colonel Sutton, lived full lordly,
Having in his ample fold
Big herds of cattle, hogs, and sheep,
Which showed his careful ward and keep.

It was a treat to see his cows,
Night and morning stem the flood,
Swimming o’er the wide river,
There to graze just as they would;
Fair and stately was the mansion,
But a lonely solemn grace,
E’er with shadowy evening came,
And so clothed the ancient place
That eyes not blind, might plainly see;
Hung o’er the place some mystery.

There were tales of former vengeance,
Wrought by him for fancied wrong,
He, the lord of all this manor,
So ’twas whispered, oft among
Slaves and neighbors, that the two,
Man and wife ne’er spoke again;
He in sorrow still abiding,
In her grave long has she lain,
But oh! the bitter memory
From which he since could never flee.

He too had been such a boy
As every one, might expect
Would grow up, when every man
Gave a lad, so much, much respect
No wonder, that he rarely found
One to disregard commands,
When after years he grew to be
The barb of many folks, and handily
Swift to feel dishonors touch
No man e’er saw him yield or crouch.

How shall I hope in my rhyme
Now to tell you half the tale
Of Mary Sutton as they knew her,
Ah! good neighbor, I should fail,
For her beauty grace and goodness
Made her chosen belle and queen
Of a wide extended region
Which has ever famous been
Indeed, a fair, a gracious region
Those good things number by the legion.

Tall and most divinely fashioned,
She was full of gentleness,
And the grand queenly bearing,
Rich and poor alike could bless,
For she never let it happen,
To be anything below,
The benign and gracious lady,
They all loved and worshipped so,
One of those rare and radiant maids,
Angelic without fortune’s aids.

Her beauty and great fortune
Made her soon of wide reknown;
Many suitors sought her hand,
Yet with n’er a single frown,
She gently put aside all claims,
As she told them, one and all,
That ne’er within her father’s life,
Whatever thing might befall,
That she with him would still abide,
And leave him to be no man’s bride.

Part XXII – published in the Windsor Ledger Nov 23, 1899
So old and so unhappy!
How could she have the heart
To leave him there so lonely,
And from him thus to depart?
Was to rob him of the only
Pleasure now found in his home;
Surely they would not expect it;
Ah no! she would never roam.
But watch with Love’s devoted eyes,
The old man’s failing energies.

How ever stern to the world
To her naught but tenderness
Had been all her happy years;
He but lived her life to bless,
Aye: loved the very ground she trod,
Her smallest wish to him was law;
Only her beauty, love and grace,
The devoted father saw,
Then how could she so doubly dear
Forsaking him another cheer.

For it was plain unto her
That such were her father’s ways,
She could not hope to marry
And remain upon the place,
With all his love, toward his child,
Yet she knew full well no man
Could abide along with him,
And she had no hope or plan,
For he and son-in-law would soon
Be singing a discordant tune.

He too would droop in sorrow
At the mention of such thing,
And but, few were then so daring
As to him suggestion bring,
Of the duty he was owing
To this peerless child of his,
That it was his first and greatest
To consult her destinies,
And look into her after life
How she would fate on then no wife.

The old man pondered deeply
And tried hard to get consent,
Of his fondly loving nature,
And full sore his punishment,
Till at last the hardy fibres
Of his grand physique gave way,
And the dreaded truth dawned on him
That his prolonged earthly stay,
Was drawing near unto its close,
He soon would meet his last of foes.

Not alone his weakened frame
Failed at last to even walk,
He too, felt his feeble heart
Struggled hard to do its work;
One by one the springs of life
Each was drying at its source,
Life’s delicate machinery
Was swiftly losing all its force;
The moment could not distant be
When he of earth the last should see.

At last the father yielded
To his daughter’s prayer and tears;
A physican was consulted
To allay her anxious fears;
But alas he brought unto them
Little aid for the sufferer,
For the maid, a world of sorrow
He was doomed to bring on her,
It was of life, her darkest day
When he thus came upon her way.

The doctor was a stranger,
And had lately found his way
To the rising town of Windsor,
And so pleasant there his stay,
He had ceased to wander cross the world
Like so many of his craft,
And by skill and large assumption
Threw competitors abaft,
Another Cagliostro he
Prepared for all emergency.

Indeed a man of many sides
Was this learned Apollo,
Handsome as an old Greek God,
And his talk could ceaseless flow
Of many scenes in many lands,
Triumphs oft in art and love,
Large gifts and honors from the King
Less valued than some lady’s glove,
He’d show to prove that he had won
What e’er he’d set his heart upon.

Unto much real science
He too added that dread power
That so long enchained Trilby,
But it was at rarest hour,
He would deign to suffer others,
Know he held the power to sway
Very near every body,
He might meet upon his way;
A dark and dangerous man was he
From whom twas best at once to flee.

Having yielded to entreaties
Of his daughter, now at last,
Cagliostro was attending
Him, whose life was ebbing fast,
The old man now, in his present weakness,
Knew how futile was all aid,
But his darling must be pleasured,
Naught she wished must be gain-said;
And as he watched with all his eyes
This man of many mysteries.

From the first, the medico
Jarred upon his patient’s nerve,
His assumption and discussions
Were as such always deserve,
Scorned by one, to whom pretention
Was the vilest of all sins,
But discovered the deep learning,
That underlay vaporings
Of this rare braggart who was still
Physician of the rarest skill.

Day by day, low and lower
Sank the old man to his grave,
Day by day, came the doctor,
And the girl serenely brave,
By her wondrous beauty, o’er him
Seem to throw a magic spell,
As he watched her, in her service
To the one she loved so well,
And he resolved, that he would wed
The lovely maid e’er he was dead.

Slowly, as the tiger creeps
On his unsuspecting prey,
So this doctor, o’er the sick
Won more power every day,
Soon became, to do his bidding
As to each and every thing.
There was then no limitation
To the influence he could bring
One mind doing another’s will
And every prompting so fulfill.

But vain, were all his efforts
Then to bring within his charm
The fair lady he so worshipped,
Sure some high and lofty balm,
Yet preserved against his scheming
This sweet soul of purity,
She calmly met his gallantries
With more than usual dignity,
She rarely met his longing gaze,
And kept her maids with her always.

He was wary, and t’wan long,
Ere he told the father all,
Of how deep his longings were,
And what must soon befall
The daughter, when her sire was gone
Sad, would then be her estate,
Alone, in that great house and farm,
What could be a sadder fate?
But he would gladly give his life
If she would only be his wife.

The old man could not struggle
Long gainst the enchanter’s power,
And he, would lie entreating,
And beseeching her, each hour
To make him, and this gifted man
Wholly happy, ere the day
When he from her, he loved so well,
Should at last go far away,
O’er and over was he pleading
While the maiden’s heat was bleeding.

There was a youthful neighbor,
Whom she long, had deeply loved,
But as she declined betrothal
He in sorrow, far had roved,
It had been a long, long season,
Since she last had heard from him.
And full oft, since he had left her,
Bitter tears, would sometimes dim
Her star-like eyes, that ached to see
The lover who would not set her free.

Part XXIII – published in the Windsor Ledger Nov 30, 1899
It so happened, in her grief
She one day in Windsor town,
There met, that former lover,
And she fell into a swoon,
So sudden was this, their meeting,
And so unexpected, all,
That the maiden heavy laden
Had not time, for her to call,
Her soul, to arm itself, and bear,
So great a joy, in her dispair.

He clasped her, in loving arms,
Ere unto the earth, she fell,
And soon she came unto herself,
And she heard him softly tell
Of how he loved her, still as deeply
As he did in days of yore,
And he saw, her soft cheeks blooming,
As they always had, before
The coming of that fearful man,
Who marred her life, to suit his plan.

Gerald Howe, was as noble
As his mistress, then was fair,
And the lofty ideals
Of his young life, were so rare
That fair Mary, deep regretted
That obstacles, should arise,
And against her dearest wishes,
Seperate their destinies.
Now he, was once again returned,
The fires of love, the brighter burned.

No one had seen their meeting,
Nor her agitation then,
When she came so near falling,
Like some abdicated queen,
Then she told him, all the story
Of her troubles, out at home,
Of the sad, and monstrous changes,
Which upon her sire, had come,
And all the wicked, strangely vile
Schemes, against his own helpless child.

He had met the man abroad,
And he knew him, through and through,
All his skill and villany,
Were to Gerald nothing new;
So he told fair Mary that she
Might, in future, be content;
He would show her very shortly
How this schemer would be sent
To other scenes to vaunt his power,
Bertie would lose him from her shore.

A week later Gerald met
A small party of his friends,
Special chums who had ever
Aided all his aims and ends;
It so happened that the Doctor
Came along about that time
Hearing with them, sweetest music
Blending with delicious chime,
Then uninvited he came in,
Committing so a social sin.

Scornful of conventions law,
He despised its every fetter,
Trampling on all rule of right
In its whole scope and letter,
He would bend mankind and nature
To the shape that he preferred,
Careless of whose toes, he trod on,
Or the bee-hive, this disturbed.
One of those anarchists, who prey
On all, that comes within their way.

He like others of the breed
Had no faith in God or man;
Spewing cut his unbelief
In our blessed creed, and plan.
But like all such unfaithful souls
Truly brave, he was never
When darkness came, with gloomy pall,
Then would he shrink and shiver,
And dream, of apparitions dread,
Of those long numbered with the dead.

So without invitation,
He had come upon a crowd,
Who had for weeks been watching
This same doctor, vain and proud,
To learn the truth of some rumors
Touching his affairs of heart;
What he did, on the plantation,
As from thence they had their start.
That he so ruled, and over-awed
The old man, bound as with a cord.

Such dark murmurs there had been,
And the maiden’s paling cheek,
Seemed to them confirmation,
Of the things she would not speak;
They were telling Gerald of them,
When the Doctor came upon
This coterie, discussing low
The duties they felt resting on
The friends and neighbors of a man
Thus duped by a vile charlatan.

Of course, the whole discussion
Died upon the man’s approach,
For other subjects, now they felt,
They could far more safely broach,
And so they sat and talked and drank,
Until midnight long had gone,
And many topics weird and strange,
On the tapis, there was bourne
Wild stories of the ages past
That make the boldest feel aghast.

Gerald watched the Doctor close,
And he saw his face grow pale,
As the stories wilder grew,
Especially when a tale,
Of low malignant practices,
Pursued against a trusting soul,
Was told, and ere denudement reached
This man who had come in so bold
Was plainly in such sorry plight,
He could hear no more talk that night.

Gerald Howe, and the maiden
Had well settled in their minds,
On the happy day they met,
As to how low the deep designs,
Could be paried without hunting,
The fond loving heart of him
Whose lamp of life, only flickered
In its socket low and dim.
How she his wishes, countervailing,
Should show him still a love unfailing.

She had told him all the tale
Of her father over-awed
By some power, superhuman,
Hung on every look and word
Of this Doctor, who had gazed him,
And now held him at his will;
Told him, how her father practiced
To proceed yet further still,
To poison all her future life,
By forcing her to be his wife.

Many times had she already
Told him, it could not be;
Yet he was still not content;
But her father, constantly
Was dominating, so that he,
Far from being what of old,
Ever had been his kind habit,
Now would sometimes almost scold
Her becuase she would not do
The thing he always dreaded so.

Why should he trust this stranger,
More than all her suitors old,
Who for years their love, vainly
Had unto herself been told
She shuddered at the horrid thought,
That would come into her mind,
That this second Cagliostro
Was not merely human kind,
But some devilish, vagrant elf,
To bring perdition on herself.

Gerald tried to reassure her,
Told her, of his deathless love,
How he cherished her image,
When far away did rove
And that now, he would assure her,
Ere a fleeting month was gone,
She, with this unwelcomed doctor
Would soon be forever done,
If she only would but trust him,
And in better spirit seem.

On the evening, after that
Of the party afore said,
This doctor on his visit
Found, his patient at last dead.
There he supped in lonely state,
And talking, with the overseer,
Weeping Mary, kept her room,
And he thus could not see her.
With the housekeeper long he chatted
So twas late when off he started.

Part XXIV – published in the Windsor Ledger Dec 21, 1899
Cagliotras nerves were still
Thrilling with the ghastly tales
He had heard the night before
And his courage almost fails
As his good steed stands at the door
So his starting off at last
For Windsor’s town with flying feet
His fine horse trots high and fast
But sad to say with all his speed
He cannot meet the Doctor’s need.

He had just left his victims
One lay dead and shorn of life
And touching their relations
He knew rumors strong were ripe
And bitterly repented
All the sorrow grief and shame
He had brought on sire and daughter
They, so happy ere he came
Now all his plans were tempest tossed
He felt like one already lost.

The night was dim and dusky
O’er the moon a vagrant cloud
Was sailing, ever and anon
And it seemed as if a shroud
Was brooding o’er the silent night
With dying cadences, the wind
Had just enough movement left
To startle him when strident grind
Of limb ‘gainst limb would almost shriek
When e’er its breath, come full and quick.

Through the forest black and vast
Came the owlet’s mournful cry
And the doctor shivered o’er
As he caught the dying sigh
Of the great green eyed night hawk
Screaming at that dismal hour
As if some soul had lost all hope
And gone itself to Satan’s power
With throbbing heart and glaring eye
He shuddered at that fearful cry.

Roquest Chapel hove in sight
And the shadows dense before
In that vast wood it would seem
Sweet daylight would come no more
And as the Doctor reached the spot
Close beside a lonely grave
Stood horse and horseman, all in white
“Stop” it cried “a word I crave”
Ah! well I ween that poor man felt
As if his very soul would melt.

“Who are you, out here tonight”
Then the quaking Doctor cried
“Have you forgotten me so soon?”
The hoarse spectre then replied
“Why you have scarcely left my home
And for weeks you’ve doctored me
Look again my learned Doctor
Don’t you know me, can’t you see
The Sutton you have long attended
And whose ills you never mended.

With a shout the Doctor fled
Put his horse to head long flight
All along the way to Windsor
He the country filled with fright
By yells that echoed miles away
And the town was startled all
When his out cries on his entry
The roused citizens appalled
He was indeed in such sad state
They had to nurse him long and late

It was never surely known
Who, or what the phantom was
And he, most interested
And did as a brave man ever does
And showed his whereabouts so clear
That it could not possibly
Have been he, who justly exposed
Such false and assumed bravery
And thus to make good old Bertie
Too warm a place for treachery.

It only remains now to tell
Of the big and happy crowd
That attended the wedding
Of this maiden sweetly proud
Of the stalwart youth beside her
Who for many happy years
Filled her life so full of sunshine
She wept only happy tears
Till they in death, together went
To fairer land to pitch their tent.

Neighbor Robin suffer me
Once again a story old
Of the times long dead and gone
Now unto you to unfold
Ancient legends of my forbears
Who in those ancestral days
Were oft seen in St John’s Chapel
Joining in the prayer and praise

Of the good Lord who lovingly
Had led them there from over the sea.
Out on Cutter Wiskie Marsh
Dwelt in more than common state
Then an ancient gentleman
Who had waited until late
Before leaving home and people
He had known and cherished long
Merry England nurse of heroes
Kingdom small but yet so strong

That for a thousand years or more
No hostile foot has trod her shore.
Land of the leal and loving
God bless you world ruling realm
Mighty mistress of the seas
Still may wisdom hold the helm
And guide thee as in ages past
Cofering hope and liberty
Ever where her flag’s unfurled
Ah motherhood of mighty states
Be true to your immortal fates.

Be still guide for all the world
In the things that make us free
Ever be as you have been
Sternest foe to tyranny
Ah land from which we drew our blood
And the spirit just to be
Still for the future as the past
The God of nations prosper thee
And we who nursed at her great breast
Find likewise honor peace and rest

.Old Major Brown long had been
In the service of his King
Long had borne the battles brunt
And had heard all England ring
With praise of him and comrades brave
Who were often triumphing
On stricken fields where Marlboro led
And at the world his praise did sing
When Blenhiem and malplaquet
The might of France did melt away.

He was a subaltern then
But he led his grenadiers
Until dark Collodens moors
San the beaten Scots in tears
And tho he helped stern Cumberland
Gain that famous victory
Yet it was his last of battles
Wounded sorely in his knee
His service ended with that day
And he lived after on half pay.

Major Brown was stern and true
Unto all that he professed
Never swerved a single inch
From the way he thought was best
It mattered little if all the others
In the world against him stood
He was yet as firm and loyal
Unto things that he thought good
The crowd might rage and have say
But on he went in his own way.

Serving well his King and church
He would not abide a slight
Upon either of these two
But he would with all his might
Uphold that they were all and all
To the people of the land
That the two were linked together
By almighty God’s command
That jointly they must rise of fall
And sundered could not thrive at all.

Unto neither should a man
Ever offer resist
All his heart and love and strength
Should begin to resist
What ere the King and what the church
Said that people ought to do
Neither should they stop to question
For the thing was right and true
Non-resistance and submission
Was mans only proper mission.

Part XXV – published in the Windsor Ledger Jan. 11, 1900
Yet the man could not be found
Who more proudly would behold
What he called the rights of freeman
Yeomen that from times untold
Had swift broken the lines of battle
Winning days like Azincourt
Should be in immortal honor
Here and on the English shore
And be, Gods own anointed King
Would to them right and justice bring.

So he thought of all divines
Doctor Filmer ablest best
And in his every teaching
Full persuaded did he rest
Scorning every temptation
Whigs and the philosophers
Ventured in the vast upheaval
Of the fast forth coming years
When France got drunk to vomit Crime.
And never earth saw such a time.

Of books he had scant supply
Rarely reading ought beside
The Holy Scripture and Gazette
Or Vanbros, his greatest pride
Like Uncle Toby and his henchman
That incomparable Paine
He would fight his battles over
And with tears his eyes grow dim
As he recalled some comrade slain,
Whose like he ne’er should see again.

He loved the noble sacred past
Of the land that gave him birth
All the grandeur of its story
All the glory, wit and worth
Of its states men building slowly
Empire from the circling Seas
Heroes bearing forth her banners
Wherever blows the stormy breeze
And patriots giving life and blood
Libations to the public good.

No wonder such proud memories
Made the half pay Grenadier
Sorely chafe and sadly go
And there fell upon his ear,
Talk of many men around him
Touching hosts of troubles sore
When the King and ministers
With their measures harshly bore
Upon the freeborn colonists
These freemen of old English blood
Such measures they at once withstood.

But he had lived long enough
Midst his neighbors and good friends
For a host of kindly feelings
To create such potent bands
Of mutual love and confidence
Between men of kindred aims
Robert Sumner, Arthur Cotton
And staunchest whigs of other names
All loved him like a very brother
Though never found for weeks together.

He might have known these same men
Would ne’er sit below their peers
Having both the blood and spirit
Of the men of former years
Aye, of those heroic Barons
Who in hour of direst need
Made their land forever free
On the plains of Rumemede
And made old England from that day
A place where only freemen stay.

Ever since that holy day
Law had guarded life and right
He the lowest of the land
With his claim however slight
Safe from assessment, tax or fine
Save by verdict of his peers
Or by law of Parliament
Nothing could arouse his fears
For Judges had long ages said
Without consent no tax is laid.

But her many colonies
Had cost England sums untold
She had mighty forces sent
To secure her larger hold
Upon the pathless hills and plains
Of the great states manifold
To and past the Mississippi
Where its floods fast southward roll
A mighty debt was then incurred
Its payments all her statesmen stirred.

There were other troubles
Which our good old forebears had
Ever since the land was settled
He the king done as he said
When across the ocean wide
Puts utter wilderness
They had come to seek a home
He vouched should be free of stress
And blessings they had known at home
Would but the larger here become.

If in England they were free
Why not in America?
Had they lost in migrating
Any part of what they were?
So ‘gainst Major Brown disputing
Of things of long ago
Would good whigs say to the Tories
And distressed the old man so
That he wished a thousand times
He ne’er had come unto such climes.

How could he an officer
Of the crown, upon half pay
Join in such disloyalty
And in silence fail to say
What he believed was but treason
And deep down within his soul
There was not a single doubt
But disaster soon would roll
On all who thus in treason stood
Gainst King and government so good.

He would surely have returned
Old and feeble as he was
To the land from which he came
But he had a boy and a lass
Who, now were all in all to him
Who had also hearts and wills
So they pleaded long and tearful
With reverence that love instills
That he would such intent forego
And think no more of doing so.

Dark eyed Sarah arch and free
As the jayest of her sex
Ne’er before in all her life
Did a thing his soul to vex
But she with all her guilty
Had a tender link that bound
Her, unto the land she loved so
And she was unwilling found
To seek in realms beyond the seas
Another home her sire to please.

She and young Godwin Cotton
Had been loving since the days
When in Pinafores together
They as children had their plays
These old fellows o’er and often
Fought their battles o’er again
Major Brown at dire Rommillers
Captain Cotton the Main
Seaman and soldier thus once more
Heard sabers clash and cannons roar.

Thus a strong and tender link
Bound the two in tender bonds
Ancient veterans of days
Of which both were still so fond
When Hawks on Biscay raging wild
Triumphant in the midnight storm
And Wolfe on plains of Abraham
Laid down his own heroic form
And every where from East to West
Lord Chathams fame was at the best.

These lovers had not disclosed
Unto others what they felt
Only in their mutual trusting
Hoping they could some way meet
The stubborn will of Major Brown
When he knew how long and well
They had loved each other so
They were sure he would tell
Them, that he blesses with all his heart
These two, that held so large a part.

But the courses of true love
Have ever seemed doomed to be
Subjects to perturbations
Like all things that are earthly
These two who had been so fondly
Counting on their future bliss
Were told to meet no more forever
And the way it came was this–
– Major Brown and Captain Cotton
In a quarrel they had gotton.

Part XXVI – published in the Windsor Ledger Jan. 18, 1900
Sad, it is, to think of wrath
Coming on the best of friends,
Quarrels, that are so unseemly
Often finding never ends,
Riving wide apart, the loving,
Filling fond hearts full of woe;
So it was, When Captain Cotton
Offended his old crony so,
It was a sad, sad tale, to tell
With little hope of ending well.

The Captain though a churchman,
Once officer of the King,
Had been ever, well convinced
That the future yet would bring,
Larger lease of privileges
To the people, long oppressed
By a thousand petty evils,
Such as the religious tests;
In fact he was right loyal then,
To all that this day makes free men.

There is so sadder thing I ween,
Than two right noblemen
Who as brothers, long had been
Bound in friendships golden claim,
To thus part, in lasting passion,
And like sundered cliffs to frown
On each other, sad and hopeless,
both in torture from the wounds:
For true love never dies its death
Without a piteous aftermath.

Captain Cotton never could
Quite forgive the English Crown,
For the murder of his cousin,
By injustice, so profound
That loyal, as he had e’er been
Yet he swore, that Alice Lyle
Was as harmless, meek and gentle,
As the sweetest newborn child;
And yet this saintly bride of heaven
All England could not get forgiven.

She had given shelter to
Two gentle men, old and spent,
Flying from the brutal Soldiers,
And from death then imminent;
For they both had fought with Monmouth
And were flying from Ledgemoor,
In a plight so pitiful
She couldn’t drive them from her door,
Her mercy thus, her only sin
And with no futher end therein.

In vain England’s greatest. best
Besought pardon of the King,
That he would not take her life
For so innocent a thing;
Wholly without aim or purpose
Save to answer mercy’s call,
But the tyrant failed to hear them,
And let Jeffreys sentence fall,
On her whose portrait now is seen
In the Capitol, by Peer and Queen.

Cotton, said the royal tyrant
Well deserved his father’s fate,
And King George, if her possested
Should come unto like estate,
The Kings were only mortal men,
And had never right or power
Save that given by the people,
Not of God, this regal dower,
For he was King and by consent
And only so to that extent.

Major Brown, sad to tell,
Could not abide talk, like this,
He swore t’was all Whigish cant,
And might never he know bliss,
If such things were not treason vile:
More than that, the Lady Lyle
Suffered as every rebel should,
Here, and on Great Britain’s isle:
And that he had no further use
For man who would the crown abuse.

Captain Cotton grew so hot
As the crippled grenadier
“Yes” he cried, we two can part
Aye by all that’s good and dear
“I”ll never speak to you again!”
With such expletives that
I Can not very well report in
Word that would provoke a sigh
That so wise in other things,
Should lose themselves in bickerings.

It is difficult to say
Which of my good forbears, then
Made the welkin louder sing,
With the wrath that they were in,
And it invariably happened
That young Godwin Cotton, come
And these men who both were fathers,
In the height of passion flame
Alas for mediation then
It only added to the din.

Godwin pleaded earnestly
With the men he loved so well
To unsay their bitter words
And ’tis piteous all to tell
Major Brown took fresh offence
At a word unwary used
And asserted that poor Godwin
Had himself also abused
That he also might now well know
They ne’er again as friendly would go.

Sarah happened to be there
And the two young people thus
Had a chance to say farewell
Ere the Major still in fuss
Drove off from old Mulberry Grove
Swearing ne’er to come again
And nearer home he drew
Deeper grew fair Sarah’s pain
As weeping twain of long ago
How opt we love such useless woe..

The Major was full wretched
That same evening after tea
As he thought about the matter
In his lonely misery
Then he called for winsome Sarah
And requested that she would sing
Something to ease his heart ache
With the hope that it would bring
Perhaps surcease to sorrow deep
He felt that night would banish sleep.

She went unto her spinet
And vainly tried to sing
That song which of all others
Would the surest sorrow bring
For the maiden half heart broken
In her anguish deep and sore
In sweet low voice began for him
Dear old Lochnagar no Moor
Like some lost soul despairing wail
It the thrilled the old man stern and pale.

The old song ever plaintive
Never unto him before
Brought such floods of recollection
Of his youth and days of yore
And of those when he a stranger
Found this same Captain Cotton
Was so lavish in assistance
A thousand things forgotten
Came back to tell him of them all
As nights links shadows round him fall.

Then the news from Lexington
Came by going round the world
War and blood shed fired the land
Freedom banners were unfurled
And the great debate no longer
Rested on the statesman’s tact
The issues were not now of law
But the dark and doubtful fact
Whither colonists should yet be free
Or lose both life and liberty.

Major Brown was dumbfounded
But he still was as of yore
Under his own vine and figtree
He but listened to the roar
Of the hosts as tide of battle
Rolled across the struggling states
Watching e’er in breathless ardor
For the signs of coming fates
When America should ransomed be
Or victim of long tyranny.

For Albion in her ruling
Has scant mercy e’er for those
Of her tributaries daring
Her decretal to oppose
We doubtless should have gotten
Just such mercy at her hands
As has made her rule in Ireland
A stench in Christian body
They would have hanged George Washington
About the height that Haman won.

Part XXVII – published in the Windsor Ledger Jan. 25, 1900

Yet the lovers still would meet,
And no shadow ever came
On their perfect understanding
And still kept alive the flame,
Of their love that never waited
On what others did or said:
Major Brown might chafe and suffer
But they like the happy dead
Were yet in all the storm serene
He was her love, and she his queen.

She too was very happy
When he came back to her arms,
When with General Robert Howe
He took part in wars alarms,
Having driven back the foemen,
From Virginia’s ravaged soil,
He was put in a position
Largely free from death and toil
Still serving well the patriot cause
His part was to uphold the laws.

So it was, he often came
To his own ancestral farm,
Guarding well his aged sire,
And his neighbors from all harm,
In his way, it was not seldom
He met her, his spirit blessed,
She, that was doubly faithful
Unto him, and sire distressed;
The veteran so old and broken
Was then of sorrow but a token.

Old age and grief had their worst
Done upon him, when his boy
Too, was gone away forever
Who had been so great a joy,
He that once so sternly banished;
All his royal love and zeal,
Now in silence sat dejected,
As the heavy hours would steal
O’er him with no hope of pleasure
Now he’d lost his greatest treasure.

News come soon from Brandywine
Whereby, La Fayette’s own side
Jack like, he had glory won,
And alas there too, had died,
The noble Marquis, message sent
To the old man of his boy
Feeling how he bravely charging
War fame nothing could destroy
But then recurred the fatal thought
His son against his King had fought.

Everybody save a few
Men of evil lives and fame,
Felt the deeper sympathy
With the old man, weak and lame,
These pretending to be zealous
Were but plotting, how to loot
The fine house and big plantation,
So they started tales afloat
That he sent message, to those
Well known, to be our worst of foes.

This was done so secretly,
But few people were aware
Of those most wicked slanders
On the ancient grenadier,
There were scarce a half a dozen
Of these men of ill report
Like those ancient Thessalonians
“Lewd and of the baser sort
Men who could filch your life or name
Regardless of all law and shame.

Young Godwin was so kindly
That one of those evil men,
Gave him timely intimation
Of the things they did intend;
They, he said would kill this Tory,
And his dwelling o’er him burn;
For they said loyal traitors
Were deserving such a turn
His daughter might shift as she pleased
This land of Tories must be eased.

Godwin was at first appalled
He so gentle and so true,
Was so staggered at the tale
That he knew not what to do.
But caressed and so persuaded
His informant, that he told
More and more of their intentions,
Which grew daily still more bold
Until at last they fixed the night
In which to kindle such a light.

Three bold fellows, who had been
In the war with General Howe
Were at home, upon furlough.
And almost recovered now,
Of the wounds, so nobly gotten
In the fight at Stony Point,
They were men he knew would
never In sore trial disappoint,
The comrade who in danger dire
Would bravely go through blood and fire.

The lover saw his mistress
In the morning of the day
That was fixed to be the latest
Of her father’s earthly stay,
He told her of all the danger,
But besought her, not to tell
E’en her father of what she knew
Of those low-born sons of hell
To him not any mortal soul
Was she this secret to unfold.

The mansion of the Major
Stood midway a level field
Slightly overlooking meadows,
That for beauty, would not yield
To any in the broadest reach
Of the region anywhere
With their wealth of waving grasses
With an oak tree here and there
It was a scene that well might please
All honest men with souls at ease.

The shadows and the silence,
Of a wide and ancient grove,
Made the grounds around the house
Such as dreamers love to rove,
Almost hiding the wide mansion
From wayfarers passing by
When from the distant roadway
It fell faintly on the eye
Inquiring how it would compare
With some around so broad and fair.

The old man could but notice
The look of love and deep care
His daughter on that evening
More than ever seemed to wear,
Tender eyes ne’er shown before
With such wishful mournful gaze,
He thought her sweet soul was heavy
With her dreams of former days
Of him so lonely bent and gray
Who must soon cease with her to stay.

The old soldier, still erect
In his ample chair of State
Sat not silent in his place
As had been the case of late,
The sorrow and anxiety
In her plainly manifest
Showed the father that her feelings
Far from being all at rest
Were from cause most certainly
Disturbed almost beyond degree.

In his utter ignorance
Of great danger then so nigh,
Sat at first almost silent
But her anxious looks and sigh,
At last stirred him into asking,
Why she dropped so low that night,
Why the cheek, that should be blooming
Was become so ashy white
“Say, my daughter, if you love me
What can this fresh sad matter be?”

But her pledge unto one who knew
what was for the best
Had forbidden him that knowledge,
And she only could protest
That her health was never better,
But so great for him the love
She was only for him anxious
That she long could to him prove
How she loved so good a father
Whom bad men so much did bother.

But he was not satisfied,
Well, he knew, fresh sorrow deep,
Despite all her sweet protests
O’er her loving soul must creep
Then he thought that she was grieving
For young Jack, so far away
On the Brandywine low sleeping,
Then forever and a day
His noble boy so early gone
While life was yet but in its morn.

Part XXVIII – published in the Windsor Ledger Feb. 08, 1900

The moon held far down the sky
When the two retired for rest;
Soon the lights were extinguished
When slow, gliding from the West,
The young lover, with his comrades,
Came in silent secrecy,
Each one cautiously approaching,
Gliding up from tree to tree
Until at length securely they
Close to the house well-hidden lay.

All was silent as the grave,
Until the dogs at the front
Bayed them long savagely;
Never had they on a hunt
Woke wilder echoes on the night,
They soon disturbed Major Brown,
Who had scarcely fallen asleep,
As the dogs would give no ground;
At bidding of vilest men
Their lives and uproar soon found end.

The killing of his watch dogs
Roused the Major fully up;
This assault upon his castle
Was the filling of his cup;
All the slanders and reflections
He had yet in silence borne,
Now armed himself for battle
And blew a blast on his horn
As signal for his slaves to come
And help defend their master’s home.

But the sound of fire arms,
So much terror in them raised,
Only two of all his men
Were not stupified and dazed;
These two did as he had told them,
Coming with the overseer,
All soon got within the mansion,
Wishing much to make it clear,
For what earthly rhyme or reason,
Assault was made at such a season.

As the firing of the guns
Occurred at the front gate
With his feeble little band
Just awaked at hour so late;
That way did Major pass them,
Where the door was barred and locked
And but for his steadfast valor
He had surely there been shocked;
For dimly in the midnight air
He saw six men surely there.

Then the leader lifted voice,
And in haughty tones declared,
He had come upon a mission,
By which if they rightly fared,
No vermine like this vilest Tory
In the land would long be found,
And his death knell that very night
They assuredly would sound;
“So open door, you ancient curse,
Or with your gal prepare for worse.”

Then like an apparition
Robed entire in spotless white,
Came upon father breathless
She who was his soul’s delight;
Every curl upon her forehead,
Every feature in her dress
Were as if she deep had studied
To enhance her loviness;
She seemed a Norma, in new strife,
To plead again for throne and life.

In her hand a lamp she bore,
Showing all her queenly mien
And the old man was as troubled
At the strangeness of the scene,
Outside death and foul dishonor,
He believed awaited him,
Noisy shouts of wrathful challenge,
Showed a night so dark and dim;
Yet she stood there calm and serene,
As if she was some battle queen.

Swiftly to her father’s side
Went she then, as dazed he stood,
A few whispers in his ear
Seemed to thrill his very blood;
“God be thanked” he muttered,
He who rules this dastard world;
We will yet these scoundrels punish;
From my door they shall be hurled;
By all is that both just and right,
They all should die this very night.

Softly he unbarred the door,
Called his leigemen by his side,
Telling them to wait for signs
And in silence to abide;
Now he knew that Godwin Cotton
With his war tried veterans,
Lay waiting overt action
By these blood-stained partisans;
Men who slew and pilfered all
On whom they thought it safe to fall.

And thus it is, too, all alas,
Ever in the time of war,
Scoundrels far too cowardly
To confront the battle’s roar,
When contending columns reel
Back and forth upon the field;
But upon the weak and helpless
In secrecy crept and steal,
Like these vile wretches of that night
Thought that this old man could affright.

Being ignorant and low,
In the scale of social life,
And well knowing Major Brown,
In the progress of the strife,
Between the King and the Colonies,
Had offended certain men,
By the opinions he had held;
They could safely venture then,
To slay this rich and haughty Tory,
As few would ever hear this story.

But they made a great mistake,
Major Brown was yet so loved
By his neighbors one and all,
That their love had never moved,
Even though he differed largely
With them as to what the King
Owed them as his loyal leigemen,
Ere the war did first begin;
And since that time to very few,
Had he discussed the issues new.

Thus it was all his neighbors,
Still revered the lonely man,
One and all deep regretting
That he took so strange a stand;
But they always left each other,
To whatever faith they had
Disposed as to those who fought,
Some for the King beyond the sea,
Others for home and liberty.

Having made a great mistake,
Now they huddled in the dark,
Howling out their implications
And the most abusive talk;
All was still within the house,
And the light no longer flared,
That they ventured to draw nigher
Those that they previously dared;
The house so silent, big and grim,
It seemed in some way staggered them..

Then out-spoken the leader
Showing his accomplices;
“Are we afraid of shadows,
Or this ghostly edifice?
Then let two men hold fast the horses,
While we other four will go;
And with a rush against the door
Our weight will force us through;
For shame partners, more courage take!
We’ll through that door like lightning break.”

Then like a torrent rushing,
Came the robber to their work;
Once in the house’s deep shadow
All was hidden in the dark;
But they never reached that doorway,
They thought so easy done,
In the darkness four men met them,
And disabled every one;
Prostrate on the ground lay all,
While they for mercy loudly call.

The two men with the horses
Left at once at headlong speed,
Not a moment did they tarry
To enquire if any aid
Might be needed by their comrades
For they well knew by their cries
In what trouble dastards left them,
Careless of their destinies,
Though death requited many crimes
Committed then and other times.

[The end of the poem or at least its last published segment]

 

One thought on “StJohnLegends”

  1. I am descended from Robert Rogers b ca 1710 Nansemond.
    He moved from near Tunis, N.C. at Deep Creek on the W.S. of the Chowan and moved to western Bertie about 1740. I believe that his plantation was “near” that of Arthur Cotton. At Deep Creek ca 1730 Robert Rogers was adjacent to James Rutland, Lewis Williams,Peter West etc.
    Robert had a son, Daniel Rogers. the abstracts that include Arthur Cotton and Daniel suggest that they were VERY good friends. I think that it is possible Daniel married a Cotton. It was my deduction that Danilel rogers as buried just east of Mulberry Grove. Daniel Rogers died about 1778/9. The Hertford Co Tax Rolls of 1779 shows Arthur cotton paying his taxes and further states do. for 266 acres for the orphans of Daniel Rogers. Daniel Rogers is listed in acouple of abstracts Edgecomb, Pitt ca 1760 listed Daniel of Hert. or Hertford.

    Does your family know anything of Daniel Rogers ca 1710-1779 or his father Robert Rogers wife Mary .
    2ndly,did Arthur Cotton live at another place in Bertie Co/ Northampton Co. before the building of Mulberry Grove?

    cordially
    Rogers Smith Benjamin Rogers Smith
    Cordova, TN (Memphis Tn.)Age 72

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