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THE MAGAZINE OF POETRY
JOHN T. TROWBRIDGE.
When he was about fourteen he began to make
verses while he was at work in the fields with no IKE Whittier and like Charles Dudley Warner, companions but the steady-going horses at the
plow, and in the evening he wrote them down. was fourteen years old his father told him that he Some of his friends accused him of copying them could turn a furrow as well as any man.
out of books, but he silenced his detractors by born in a log cabin, which his father had built composing an acrostic on the name of one of them; eight miles west of the present city of Rochester, it did not seem probable that he could have found N. Y., and his boyhood was spent in farm labor, that in Byron or Pope. At last he got into print. varied during the winter by attendance at the dis- He had written some verses on “The Tomb of trict school. The site of the city was occupied by Napoleon," and either his father or the schoolmaster one house and a saw-mill, and crossing the Genesee sent them to the Rochester Republican, in which they River on the ice, his father had come from the east- appeared. But the glory of the event was tarnished ern part of the state to wrest a living from the by two untoward circumstances: his school-fellows wilderness beyond. The cabin was “ rolled” to- refused to believe that he had not“cribbed "them, gether: not a nail was used in it, and wooden pegs and his hypersensitive mind detected an attempt to took their place. The floor was of split chestnut extenuate the achievement in the fact that they logs, and the boards of the sleigh box, laid across were ascribed to “A lad of sixteen.” Why should poles under the roof, formed a loft. Such was the his age be mentioned ? His wounded feelings rebirthplace of the future poet, humbler even than volted against the imputation that they were not the cabin by the Doon in which Robert Burns was good enough for a full-fledged poet, and that inborn. Though primitive, it was not squalid or dulgence was asked for on account of the youth of mean, however; it was pervaded by that simple the writer. But from this moment, despite the dignity and refinement which the freedom and chagrin caused by the reflections upon him, he hopefulness of American life allow. His father loved to think that a literary career might be possible was a man of humor and imagination, and his for him. He still milked the cows, foddered the mother (both parents were natives of New England) cattle and sheep, rode the horses to water and was a woman of education and a sensitive tempera- shoveled paths through the snow, but between ment. Still it is not to be denied that the conditions whiles he was poring over his beloved books and were not those which would be chosen as a prepara- scribbling rhymes. The rainbow vista lost none of tion for that literary career which opened rainbow its allurements as he drew nearer to it and found vistas to the boy while yet very tender and green. that its arches and vistas were open to him.
His lessons in school did not interest him, The farm-work became more and more distasteful though he found them easy, but he was possessed to him, however, and when his father died he at with a desire to learn French and Latin, and with once availed himself of an opportunity that was great difficulty he acquired a knowledge of those offered him to attend a classical school at Lockport, languages sufficient to enable him to read works where he began the study of Greek and improved written in them. The pronunciation was another his French and Latin. In Lockport, too, he rething. "The grammar gave me no limits as to ceived the first money that he ever earned by his thai, and I did not know anybody who had the pen. The Niagara Courier offered a copy of slightest acquaintance with the language. But I Griswold's “Poets of America” for the bestsimplified the matter by pronouncing all words written “New Year's Address of the Courier to precisely as they were spelled.” We can well be- its Patrons," and Trowbridge “ took" the prize. lieve him when he tells us that the result was some- That is to say his verses were declared to be the times incredible. “I couldn't believe," he adds, best, and were issued and distributed. I shall " that any people really spoke in that way." All never forget how well it looked to me with a rising the books he could find he read, and no pleasure sun for a heading, over the large numerals, 1845!". with him equaled that of reading.
he says of his poem in a chapter of autobiography, Copyright, 1889, by CHARLES Wells Moulton. All rights reserved.
Crowds out the native virtues,
And soon usurps the breast.
Better the endless endeavor,
The strong deed rushing on, And Happiness that, ere we know her
And name her, smiles and is gone!
" and how well it read, too!" But the prize he had won was withheld. Three times he visited the editor's office, and on each occasion he was put off. Waxing wroth under such treatment, he insisted on having satisfaction, and as a last resort he accepted a dollar and a half, which the impecunious editor offered him in lieu of the book. Then he went back to farming, and then became a schoolmaster. But his heart was set on literature, and when he was only nineteen he started for New York with the intention of supporting himself by his pen. It was bread and cheese and an attic for a long time, and even the cheese was scarce now and then. But the haughty and capricious dame, Fame, discovered him at last, and alighting from her carriage one day, she dragged him down stairs from his sky parlor into the sunshine of the street. Trowbridge's work has been divided between verse and pure fiction. As a writer of prose he will be remembered by two or three novels, a group of extremely clever short stories and for more admirable books for boys. There is little danger of contradiction in describing him as the most popular boys' author in America. The natural critic finds him at his best in his poems, in which are blended loftiness of thought, catholicity of sympathy and lyrical simplicity.
W. H. R.
III. We wait for the welling of waters
That never pass the brink; We pour our lives in the fountain,
But cannot stay to drink.
To-morrow," says Youthful Ardor,
Twining the vine and the rose, “ I will couch in these braided bowers,
As blithe as the breeze that blows."
“To-morrow," says earnest Manhood,
Yet adding land to land, “I will walk in the alleys of leisure,
And rest from the work of my hand."
* To-morrow," says Age, still training
The vine to the trembling wall, Till the Dark sweeps down upon us,
And the Shadow that swallows all.
Man seeks the bourn of the blest; Youth yearns for the Fortunate Islands,
Age pines for the haven of rest.
IV. Ebb-tide chased by the flood-tide,
Night by the dawn pursued, And ever contentment hounded
By fresh inquietude!
And we say to ourselves, “Oh! surely,
Beneath some bluer skies, Just over our bleak horizon,
The land of our longing lies."
Not what we have done avails us,
But what we do and are; We turn from the deed that is setting,
And steer for the rising star.
Each seeks some favored pathway,
Secure to him alone;
With broken hearts is strown.
We may wreck our hearts in the voyage;
But never shall sail or oar,
Nearer the longed-for shore.
II. The Giver of Sleep breathed also,
Into our clay, the breath And fire of unrest, to save us
From indolent life in death.
In vain each past attainment;
No sooner the port appears Than the spirit, ever aspiring,
Spreads sail for untried spheres.
Fair is the opening rose-bud,
And fair the full-blown rose; And sweet, after rest, is action,
And, after action, repose.
Whatever region entices,
Whatever siren sings, Still onward beckons the phantom
Of unaccomplished things.
But indolence, like the cow-bird,
That's hatched in an alien nest,
EVENING AT THE FARM.
OVER the hill the farm-boy goes.
The early dews are falling;-
"Co', boss! co', boss! co'! co'!”
Into the yard the farmer goes,
With grateful heart, at the close of day; • Harness and chain are hung away;
In the wagon-shed stand yoke and plow;
The cooling dews are falling;
His cattle calling, -
“Co', boss! co', boss! co'! co'!"
Now to her task the milkmaid goes,
While the pleasant dews are falling;
Saying “So! so, boss! so! so!"
The heavy dews are falling.
The housewife's hand has turned the lock;
Singing, calling, -
Murmuring, So, boss! so!"
We are two travellers, Roger and I.
Roger's my dog.- Come here, you scamp! Jump for the gen:lemen,- mind your eye!
Over the table, – look out for the lamp! The rogue is growing a little old; Five years we've tramped through wind and
weather, And slept out-doors when nights were cold,
And eat and drank ---- and starved --- together.
We've learned what comfort is, I tell you!
A bed on the floor, a bit of rosin,
The paw he holds up there's been frozen),
(This out-door business is bad for strings), Then a few nice buckwheats hot from the griddle,
And Roger and I set up for kings!
No, thank ye, Sir,- I never drink;
Roger and I are exceedingly moral, --Are n't we Roger ? — See him wink!
Well, something hot, then,-- we won't quarrel. He's thirsty, too,- see him nod his head ?
What a pity, Sir, that dogs can't talk! He understands every word that 's said,
And he knows good milk from water-and-chalk.
The truth is, Sir, now I reflect,
I've been so sadly given to grog, I wonder I've not lost the respect
(Here's to you, Sir!) even of my dog. But he sticks by, through thick and thin;
And this old coat, with its empty pockets, And rags that smell of tobacco and gin,
He'll follow while he has eyes in his sockets.
There isn't another creature living
Would do it, and prove, through every disaster, So fond, so faithful, and so forgiving,
To such a miserable, thankless master!
Is there a way to forget to think?
At your age, Sir, home, fortune, friends, A dear girl's love,- but I took to drink; -
The same old story; you know how it ends. If you could have seen these classic features,
You need n't laugh, Sir; they were not then Such a burning libel on God's creatures:
I was one of your handsome men!
If you had seen HER, so fair and young,
Whose head was happy on this breast! If you could have heard the songs I sung When the wine went round, you wouldn't have
guessed That ever I, Sir, should be straying
From door to door, with fiddle and dog, Ragged and penniless, and playing
To you to-night for a glass of grog!
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE.
She likewise lifted woman,
All labors pure and human.
Rear children, dance cotillons:
- The Cabin.
SIN. Turn back, turn back; it is not yet ioo late: Turn back, O youth! nor seek to expiate Bad deeds by worse, and save the hand from
shame By plunging all thy soul into the flame.
- The Book of Gold.
TRUTH. When all is lost, one refuge yet remains, One sacred solace, after all our pains: Go lay thy head and weep thy tears, O youth! Upon the dear maternal breast of Truth.
She's married since,- a parson's wife:
'T was better for her that we should part,-Better the soberest, prosiest life
Than a blasted home and a broken heart.