Verse > John Greenleaf Whittier > The Poetical Works in Four Volumes
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892).  The Poetical Works in Four Volumes.  1892.
 
Appendix I. Early and Uncollected Verses
Mogg Megone
 
          This poem was commenced in 1830, but did not assume its present shape until four years after. It deals with the border strife of the early settlers of eastern New England and their savage neighbors; but its personages and incidents are mainly fictitious. Looking at it, at the present time, it suggests the idea of a big Indian in his war-paint strutting about in Sir Walter Scott’s plaid.

PART I.
WHO stands on that cliff, like a figure of stone,
  Unmoving and tall in the light of the sky,
  Where the spray of the cataract sparkles on high,
Lonely and sternly, save Mogg Megone? 1
Close to the verge of the rock is he,        5
  While beneath him the Saco its work is doing,
Hurrying down to its grave, the sea,
  And slow through the rock its pathway hewing!
Far down, through the mist of the falling river,
Which rises up like an incense ever,        10
The splintered points of the crags are seen,
With water howling and vexed between,
While the scooping whirl of the pool beneath
Seems an open throat, with its granite teeth!
 
But Mogg Megone never trembled yet        15
Wherever his eye or his foot was set.
He is watchful: each form in the moonlight dim,
Of rock or of tree, is seen of him:
He listens; each sound from afar is caught,
The faintest shiver of leaf and limb:        20
But he sees not the waters, which foam and fret,
Whose moonlit spray has his moccasin wet,—
And the roar of their rushing, he hears it not.
 
The moonlight, through the open bough
  Of the gnarl’d beech, whose naked root        25
  Coils like a serpent at his foot,
Falls, checkered, on the Indian’s brow.
His head is bare, save only where
Waves in the wind one lock of hair,
  Reserved for him, whoe’er he be,        30
More mighty than Megone in strife,
  When breast to breast and knee to knee,
Above the fallen warrior’s life
Gleams, quick and keen, the scalping-knife.
 
Megone hath his knife and hatchet and gun,        35
And his gaudy and tasselled blanket on:
His knife hath a handle with gold inlaid,
And magic words on its polished blade,—
’T was the gift of Castine 2 to Mogg Megone,
For a scalp or twain from the Yengees torn:        40
His gun was the gift of the Tarrantine,
  And Modocawando’s wives had strung
The brass and the beads, which tinkle and shine
On the polished breach, and broad bright line
  Of beaded wampum around it hung.        45
 
What seeks Megone? His foes are near,—
  Grey Jocelyn’s 3 eye is never sleeping,
And the garrison lights are burning clear,
  Where Phillips’ 4 men their watch are keeping.
Let him hie him away through the dank river fog,        50
  Never rustling the boughs nor displacing the rocks,
For the eyes and the ears which are watching for Mogg
  Are keener than those of the wolf or the fox.
 
He starts,—there ’s a rustle among the leaves:
  Another,—the click of his gun is heard!        55
A footstep,—is it the step of Cleaves,
  With Indian blood on his English sword?
Steals Harmon 5 down from the sands of York,
With hand of iron and foot of cork?
Has Scamman, versed in Indian wile,        60
For vengeance left his vine-hung isle? 6
Hark! at that whistle, soft and low,
  How lights the eye of Mogg Megone!
A smile gleams o’er his dusky brow,—
  “Boon welcome, Johnny Boniton!”        65
 
Out steps, with cautious foot and slow,
And quick, keen glances to and fro,
  The hunted outlaw, Boniton! 7
A low, lean, swarthy man is he,
With blanket-garb and buskined knee,        70
  And naught of English fashion on;
For he hates the race from whence he sprung,
And he couches his words in the Indian tongue.
 
“Hush,—let the Sachem’s voice be weak;
The water-rat shall hear him speak,—        75
The owl shall whoop in the white man’s ear,
That Mogg Megone, with his scalps, is here!”
He pauses,—dark, over cheek and brow,
A flush, as of shame, is stealing now:
“Sachem!” he says, “let me have the land,        80
Which stretches away upon either hand,
As far about as my feet can stray
In the half of a gentle summer’s day,
  From the leaping brook 8 to the Saco river,—
And the fair-haired girl, thou hast sought of me,        85
Shall sit in the Sachem’s wigwam, and be
  The wife of Mogg Megone forever.”
 
There ’s a sudden light in the Indian’s glance,
  A moment’s trace of powerful feeling,
Of love or triumph, or both perchance,        90
  Over his proud, calm features stealing.
“The words of my father are very good;
He shall have the land, and water, and wood;
And he who harms the Sagamore John,
Shall feel the knife of Mogg Megone;        95
But the fawn of the Yengees shall sleep on my breast,
And the bird of the clearing shall sing in my nest.”
 
“But, father!”—and the Indian’s hand
  Falls gently on the white man’s arm,
And with a smile as shrewdly bland        100
  As the deep voice is slow and calm,—
“Where is my father’s singing-bird,—
  The sunny eye, and sunset hair?
I know I have my father’s word,
  And that his word is good and fair;        105
  But will my father tell me where
Megone shall go and look for his bride?—
For he sees her not by her father’s side.”
 
The dark, stern eye of Boniton
  Flashes over the features of Mogg Megone,        110
  In one of those glances which search within;
But the stolid calm of the Indian alone
  Remains where the trace of emotion has been.
“Does the Sachem doubt? Let him go with me,
And the eyes of the Sachem his bride shall see.”        115
 
Cautious and slow, with pauses oft,
And watchful eyes and whispers soft,
The twain are stealing through the wood,
Leaving the downward-rushing flood,
Whose deep and solemn roar behind        120
Grows fainter on the evening wind.
 
  Hark!—is that the angry howl
    Of the wolf, the hills among?—
  Or the hooting of the owl,
    On his leafy cradle swung?—        125
  Quickly glancing, to and fro,
  Listening to each sound they go
  Round the columns of the pine,
    Indistinct, in shadow, seeming
  Like some old and pillared shrine;        130
  With the soft and white moonshine,
  Round the foliage-tracery shed
  Of each column’s branching head,
  For its lamps of worship gleaming!
  And the sounds awakened there,        135
    In the pine-leaves fine and small,
    Soft and sweetly musical,
  By the fingers of the air,
  For the anthem’s dying fall
  Lingering round some temple’s wall!        140
  Niche and cornice round and round
  Wailing like the ghost of sound!
  Is not Nature’s worship thus,
    Ceaseless ever, going on?
  Hath it not a voice for us        145
    In the thunder, or the tone
  Of the leaf-harp faint and small,
    Speaking to the unsealed ear
    Words of blended love and fear,
  Of the mighty Soul of all?        150
 
Naught had the twain of thoughts like these
As they wound along through the crowded trees,
Where never had rung the axeman’s stroke
On the gnarlëd trunk of the rough-barked oak;—
Climbing the dead tree’s mossy log,        155
  Breaking the mesh of the bramble fine,
  Turning aside the wild grapevine,
And lightly crossing the quaking bog
Whose surface shakes at the leap of the frog,
And out of whose pools the ghostly fog        160
  Creeps into the chill moonshine!
 
Yet, even that Indian’s ear had heard
The preaching of the Holy Word:
Sanchekantacket’s isle of sand
Was once his father’s hunting land,        165
Where zealous Hiacoomes 9 stood,—
The wild apostle of the wood,
Shook from his soul the fear of harm,
And trampled on the Powwaw’s charm;
Until the wizard’s curses hung        170
Suspended on his palsying tongue,
And the fierce warrior, grim and tall,
Trembled before the forest Paul!
 
A cottage hidden in the wood,—
  Red through its seams a light is glowing,        175
On rock and bough and tree-trunk rude,
  A narrow lustre throwing.
“Who ’s there?” a clear, firm voice demands;
  “Hold, Ruth,—’t is I, the Sagamore!”
Quick, at the summons, hasty hands        180
  Unclose the bolted door;
And on the outlaw’s daughter shine
The flashes of the kindled pine.
 
Tall and erect the maiden stands,
  Like some young priestess of the wood,        185
  The freeborn child of Solitude,
  And bearing still the wild and rude,
Yet noble trace of Nature’s hands.
Her dark brown cheek has caught its stain
More from the sunshine than the rain;        190
Yet, where her long fair hair is parting,
A pure white brow into light is starting;
And, where the folds of her blanket sever,
Are neck and a bosom as white as ever
The foam-wreaths rise on the leaping river.        195
But in the convulsive quiver and grip
Of the muscles around her bloodless lip,
  There is something painful and sad to see;
And her eye has a glance more sternly wild
Than even that of a forest child        200
  In its fearless and untamed freedom should be.
Yet, seldom in hall or court are seen
So queenly a form and so noble a mien,
  As freely and smiling she welcomes them there,—
Her outlawed sire and Mogg Megone:        205
  “Pray, father, how does thy hunting fare?
  And, Sachem, say,—does Scamman wear,
In spite of thy promise, a scalp of his own?”
Hurried and light is the maiden’s tone;
  But a fearful meaning lurks within        210
Her glance, as it questions the eye of Megone,—
  An awful meaning of guilt and sin!—
The Indian hath opened his blanket, and there
Hangs a human scalp by its long damp hair!
With hand upraised, with quick-drawn breath,        215
She meets that ghastly sign of death.
In one long, glassy, spectral stare
The enlarging eye is fastened there,
As if that mesh of pale brown hair
  Had power to change at sight alone,        220
Even as the fearful locks which wound
Medusa’s fatal forehead round,
  The gazer into stone.
With such a look Herodias read
The features of the bleeding head,        225
So looked the mad Moor on his dead,
Or the young Cenci as she stood,
O’er-dabbled with a father’s blood!
 
Look!—feeling melts that frozen glance,
It moves that marble countenance,        230
As if at once within her strove
Pity with shame, and hate with love.
The Past recalls its joy and pain,
Old memories rise before her brain,—
The lips which love’s embraces met,        235
The hand her tears of parting wet,
The voice whose pleading tones beguiled
The pleased ear of the forest-child,—
And tears she may no more repress
Reveal her lingering tenderness.        240
 
Oh, woman wronged can cherish hate
  More deep and dark than manhood may;
But when the mockery of Fate
  Hath left Revenge its chosen way,
And the fell curse, which years have nursed.        245
Full on the spoiler’s head hath burst,—
When all her wrong, and shame, and pain,
Burns fiercely on his heart and brain,—
Still lingers something of the spell
  Which bound her to the traitor’s bosom,—        250
Still, midst the vengeful fires of hell,
  Some flowers of old affection blossom.
 
John Boniton’s eyebrows together are drawn
With a fierce expression of wrath and scorn,—
He hoarsely whispers, “Ruth, beware!        255
  Is this the time to be playing the fool,—
Crying over a paltry lock of hair,
  Like a love-sick girl at school?—
Curse on it!—an Indian can see and hear:
Away,—and prepare our evening cheer!”        260
 
How keenly the Indian is watching now
Her tearful eye and her varying brow,—
  With a serpent eye, which kindles and burns,
  Like a fiery star in the upper air:
On sire and daughter his fierce glance turns:—        265
  “Has my old white father a scalp to spare?
  For his young one loves the pale brown hair
Of the scalp of an English dog far more
Than Mogg Megone, or his wigwam floor;
  Go,—Mogg is wise: he will keep his land,—        270
  And Sagamore John, when he feels with his hand,
Shall miss his scalp where it grew before.”
 
The moment’s gust of grief is gone,—
  The lip is clenched,—the tears are still,—
God pity thee, Ruth Boniton!        275
  With what a strength of will
Are nature’s feelings in thy breast,
As with an iron hand, repressed!
And how, upon that nameless woe,
Quick as the pulse can come and go,        280
While shakes the unsteadfast knee, and yet
The bosom heaves,—the eye is wet,—
Has thy dark spirit power to stay
The heart’s wild current on its way?
  And whence that baleful strength of guile,        285
Which over that still working brow
And tearful eye and cheek can throw
  The mockery of a smile?
Warned by her father’s blackening frown,
With one strong effort crushing down        290
Grief, hate, remorse, she meets again
  The savage murderer’s sullen gaze,
  And scarcely look or tone betrays
How the heart strives beneath its chain.
 
“Is the Sachem angry,—angry with Ruth,        295
Because she cries with an ache in her tooth, 10
Which would make a Sagamore jump and cry,
And look about with a woman’s eye?
No,—Ruth will sit in the Sachem’s door
And braid the mats for his wigwam floor,        300
And broil his fish and tender fawn,
And weave his wampum, and grind his corn,—
For she loves the brave and the wise, and none
Are braver and wiser than Mogg Megone!”
 
The Indian’s brow is clear once more:        305
  With grave, calm face, and half-shut eye,
He sits upon the wigwam floor,
  And watches Ruth go by,
Intent upon her household care;
  And ever and anon, the while,        310
Or on the maiden, or her fare,
Which smokes in grateful promise there,
  Bestows his quiet smile.
 
Ah, Mogg Megone!—what dreams are thine,
  But those which love’s own fancies dress,—        315
  The sum of Indian happiness!—
A wigwam, where the warm sunshine
Looks in among the groves of pine,—
A stream, where, round thy light canoe,
The trout and salmon dart in view,        320
And the fair girl, before thee now,
Spreading thy mat with hand of snow,
Or plying, in the dews of morn,
Her hoe amidst thy patch of corn,
Or offering up, at eve, to thee,        325
Thy birchen dish of hominy!
 
From the rude board of Boniton,
Venison and succotash have gone,—
For long these dwellers of the wood
Have felt the gnawing want of food.        330
But untasted of Ruth is the frugal cheer,—
With head averted, yet ready ear,
She stands by the side of her austere sire,
Feeding, at times, the unequal fire
With the yellow knots of the pitch-pine tree,        335
Whose flaring light, as they kindle, falls
On the cottage-roof, and its black log walls,
And over its inmates three.
 
From Sagamore Boniton’s hunting flask
  The fire-water burns at the lip of Megone:        340
“Will the Sachem hear what his father shall ask?
  Will he make his mark, that it may be known,
On the speaking-leaf, that he gives the land,
From the Sachem’s own, to his father’s hand?”
The fire-water shines in the Indian’s eyes,        345
  As he rises, the white man’s bidding to do:
“Wuttamuttata—weekan! 11 Mogg is wise,—
  For the water he drinks is strong and new,—
Mogg’s heart is great!—will he shut his hand,
When his father asks for a little land?”—        350
With unsteady fingers, the Indian has drawn
  On the parchment the shape of a hunter’s bow,
“Boon water,—boon water,—Sagamore John!
  Wuttamuttata,—weekan! our hearts will grow!”
He drinks yet deeper,—he mutters low,—        355
He reels on his bear-skin to and fro,—
His head falls down on his naked breast,—
He struggles, and sinks to a drunken rest.
 
“Humph—drunk as a beast!”—and Boniton’s brow
  Is darker than ever with evil thought—        360
“The fool has signed his warrant; but how
  And when shall the deed be wrought?
Speak, Ruth! why, what the devil is there,
To fix thy gaze in that empty air?—
Speak, Ruth! by my soul, if I thought that tear,        365
Which shames thyself and our purpose here,
Were shed for that cursed and pale-faced dog,
Whose green scalp hangs from the belt of Mogg,
  And whose beastly soul is in Satan’s keeping,—
This—this!”—he dashes his hand upon        370
The rattling stock of his loaded gun,—
  “Should send thee with him to do thy weeping!”
 
“Father!”—the eye of Boniton
Sinks at that low, sepulchral tone,
Hollow and deep, as it were spoken        375
  By the unmoving tongue of death,—
Or from some statue’s lips had broken,—
  A sound without a breath!
“Father!—my life I value less
Than yonder fool his gaudy dress;        380
And how it ends it matters not,
By heart-break or by rifle-shot;
But spare awhile the scoff and threat,—
Our business is not finished yet.”
 
“True, true, my girl,—I only meant        385
To draw up again the bow unbent.
Harm thee, my Ruth! I only sought
To frighten off thy gloomy thought;
Come,—let ’s be friends!” He seeks to clasp
His daughter’s cold, damp hand in his.        390
Ruth startles from her father’s grasp,
As if each nerve and muscle felt,
Instinctively, the touch of guilt,
Through all their subtle sympathies.
 
He points her to the sleeping Mogg:        395
“What shall be done with yonder dog?
Scamman is dead, and revenge is thine,—
The deed is signed and the land is mine;
And this drunken fool is of use no more,
Save as thy hopeful bridegroom, and sooth,        400
’T were Christian mercy to finish him, Ruth,
Now, while he lies like a beast on our floor,—
If not for thine, at least for his sake,
Rather than let the poor dog awake
To drain my flask, and claim as his bride        405
Such a forest devil to run by his side,—
Such a Wetuomanit 12 as thou wouldst make!”
 
He laughs at his jest. Hush—what is there?—
  The sleeping Indian is striving to rise,
  With his knife in his hand, and glaring eyes!—        410
“Wagh!—Mogg will have the pale-face’s hair,
  For his knife is sharp, and his fingers can help
The hair to pull and the skin to peel,—
Let him cry like a woman and twist like an eel,
  The great Captain Scamman must lose his scalp!        415
And Ruth, when she sees it, shall dance with Mogg.”
His eyes are fixed,—but his lips draw in,—
With a low, hoarse chuckle, and fiendish grin,—
  And he sinks again, like a senseless log.
 
Ruth does not speak,—she does not stir;        420
But she gazes down on the murderer,
Whose broken and dreamful slumbers tell
Too much for her ear of that deed of hell.
She sees the knife, with its slaughter red,
And the dark fingers clenching the bearskin bed!        425
What thoughts of horror and madness whirl
Through the burning brain of that fallen girl!
 
John Boniton lifts his gun to his eye,
  Its muzzle is close to the Indian’s ear,—
But he drops it again. “Some one may be nigh,        430
  And I would not that even the wolves should hear.”
He draws his knife from its deer-skin belt,—
Its edge with his fingers is slowly felt;—
Kneeling down on one knee, by the Indian’s side,
From his throat he opens the blanket wide;        435
And twice or thrice he feebly essays
A trembling hand with the knife to raise.
 
“I cannot,”—he mutters,—“did he not save
My life from a cold and wintry grave,
When the storm came down from Agioochook,        440
And the north-wind howled, and the tree-tops shook,—
And I strove, in the drifts of the rushing snow,
Till my knees grew weak and I could not go,
And I felt the cold to my vitals creep,
And my heart’s blood stiffen, and pulses sleep!        445
I cannot strike him—Ruth Boniton!
In the Devil’s name, tell me—what ’s to be done?”
 
Oh, when the soul, once pure and high,
Is stricken down from Virtue’s sky,
As, with the downcast star of morn,        450
Some gems of light are with it drawn,
And, through its night of darkness, play
Some tokens of its primal day,
Some lofty feelings linger still,—
  The strength to dare, the nerve to meet        455
  Whatever threatens with defeat
Its all-indomitable will!—
But lacks the mean of mind and heart,
Though eager for the gains of crime,
Or, at his chosen place and time,        460
The strength to bear his evil part;
And, shielded by his very Vice,
Escapes from Crime by Cowardice.
 
Ruth starts erect,—with bloodshot eye,
  And lips drawn tight across her teeth,        465
Showing their locked embrace beneath,
In the red firelight: “Mogg must die!
Give me the knife!” The outlaw turns,
  Shuddering in heart and limb away,—
But, fitfully there, the hearth-fire burns,        470
  And he sees on the wall strange shadows play.
A lifted arm, a tremulous blade,
Are dimly pictured in light and shade,
  Plunging down in the darkness. Hark, that cry
Again—and again—he sees it fall,        475
That shadowy arm down the lighted wall!
  He hears quick footsteps—a shape flits by—
  The door on its rusted hinges creaks:—
“Ruth—daughter Ruth!” the outlaw shrieks.
But no sound comes back,—he is standing alone        480
By the mangled corse of Mogg Megone!
 
PART II.
’T is morning over Norridgewock,—
On tree and wigwam, wave and rock.
Bathed in the autumnal sunshine, stirred
At intervals by breeze and bird,        485
And wearing all the hues which glow
In heaven’s own pure and perfect bow,
  That glorious picture of the air,
Which summer’s light-robed angel forms
On the dark ground of fading storms,        490
  With pencil dipped in sunbeams there,—
And, stretching out, on either hand,
O’er all that wide and unshorn land,
Till, weary of its gorgeousness,
The aching and the dazzled eye        495
Rests, gladdened, on the calm blue sky,—
  Slumbers the mighty wilderness!
The oak, upon the windy hill,
  Its dark green burthen upward heaves—
The hemlock broods above its rill,        500
Its cone-like foliage darker still,
  Against the birch’s graceful stem,
And the rough walnut-bough receives
The sun upon its crowded leaves,
  Each colored like a topaz gem;        505
  And the tall maple wears with them
The coronal, which autumn gives,
  The brief, bright sign of ruin near,
  The hectic of a dying year!
 
The hermit priest, who lingers now        510
On the Bald Mountain’s shrubless brow,
The gray and thunder-smitten pile
Which marks afar the Desert Isle, 13
  While gazing on the scene below,
May half forget the dreams of home,        515
  That nightly with his slumbers come,—
The tranquil skies of sunny France,
The peasant’s harvest song and dance,
The vines around the hillsides wreathing,
The soft airs midst their clusters breathing,        520
The wings which dipped, the stars which shone
Within thy bosom, blue Garonne!
And round the Abbey’s shadowed wall,
At morning spring and even-fall,
  Sweet voices in the still air singing,—        525
The chant of many a holy hymn,—
  The solemn bell of vespers ringing,—
And hallowed torchlight falling dim
  On pictured saint and seraphim!
For here beneath him lies unrolled,        530
Bathed deep in morning’s flood of gold,
A vision gorgeous as the dream
Of the beatified may seem,
  When, as his Church’s legends say,
Borne upward in ecstatic bliss,        535
  The rapt enthusiast soars away
Unto a brighter world than this:
A mortal’s glimpse beyond the pale,—
A moment’s lifting of the veil!
 
Far eastward o’er the lovely bay,        540
Penobscot’s clustered wigwams lay;
And gently from that Indian town
The verdant hillside slopes adown,
To where the sparkling waters play
  Upon the yellow sands below;        545
And shooting round the winding shores
  Of narrow capes, and isles which lie
  Slumbering to ocean’s lullaby,—
With birchen boat and glancing oars,
  The red men to their fishing go;        550
While from their planting ground is borne
The treasure of the golden corn,
By laughing girls, whose dark eyes glow
Wild through the locks which o’er them flow,
The wrinkled squaw, whose toil is done,        555
Sits on her bear-skin in the sun,
Watching the huskers, with a smile
For each full ear which swells the pile;
And the old chief, who nevermore
May bend the bow or pull the oar,        560
Smokes gravely in his wigwam door,
Or slowly shapes, with axe of stone,
The arrow-head from flint and bone.
 
Beneath the westward turning eye
A thousand wooded islands lie,        565
Gems of the waters! with each hue
Of brightness set in ocean’s blue.
Each bears aloft its tuft of trees
  Touched by the pencil of the frost,
And, with the motion of each breeze,        570
  A moment seen, a moment lost,
  Changing and blent, confused and tossed,
  The brighter with the darker crossed,
Their thousand tints of beauty glow
Down in the restless waves below,        575
  And tremble in the sunny skies,
As if, from waving bough to bough,
  Flitted the birds of paradise.
There sleep Placentia’s group, and there
Père Breteaux marks the hour of prayer;        580
And there, beneath the sea-worn cliff,
  On which the Father’s hut is seen,
The Indian stays his rocking skiff,
  And peers the hemlock-boughs between,
Half trembling, as he seeks to look        585
Upon the Jesuit’s Cross and Book. 14
There, gloomily against the sky
The Dark Isles rear their summits high;
And Desert Rock, abrupt and bare,
Lifts its gray turrets in the air,        590
Seen from afar, like some stronghold
Built by the ocean kings of old;
And, faint as smoke-wreath white and thin,
Swells in the north vast Katahdin:
And, wandering from its marshy feet,        595
The broad Penobscot comes to meet
  And mingle with his own bright bay.
Slow sweep his dark and gathering floods,
Arched over by the ancient woods,
Which Time, in those dim solitudes,        600
  Wielding the dull axe of Decay,
  Alone hath ever shorn away.
 
Not thus, within the woods which hide
The beauty of thy azure tide,
  And with their falling timbers block        605
Thy broken currents, Kennebec!
Gazes the white man on the wreck
  Of the down-trodden Norridgewock;
In one lone village hemmed at length,
In battle shorn of half their strength,        610
Turned, like the panther in his lair,
  With his fast-flowing life-blood wet,
For one last struggle of despair,
  Wounded and faint, but tameless yet!
Unreaped, upon the planting lands,        615
The scant, neglected harvest stands:
  No shout is there, no dance, no song:
The aspect of the very child
Scowls with a meaning sad and wild
  Of bitterness and wrong.        620
The almost infant Norridgewock
Essays to lift the tomahawk;
And plucks his father’s knife away,
To mimic, in his frightful play,
  The scalping of an English foe:        625
Wreathes on his lip a horrid smile,
Burns, like a snake’s, his small eye, while
  Some bough or sapling meets his blow.
The fisher, as he drops his line,
Starts, when he sees the hazels quiver        630
Along the margin of the river,
Looks up and down the rippling tide,
And grasps the firelock at his side.
For Bomazeen 15 from Tacconock
Has sent his runners to Norridgewock,        635
With tidings that Moulton and Harmon of York
  Far up the river have come:
They have left their boats, they have entered the wood,
And filled the depths of the solitude
  With the sound of the ranger’s drum.        640
 
On the brow of a hill, which slopes to meet
The flowing river, and bathe its feet;
The bare-washed rock, and the drooping grass,
And the creeping vine, as the waters pass,
A rude and unshapely chapel stands,        645
Built up in that wild by unskilled hands,
Yet the traveller knows it a place of prayer,
For the holy sign of the cross is there:
And should he chance at that place to be,
  Of a Sabbath morn, or some hallowed day,        650
When prayers are made and masses are said,
Some for the living and some for the dead,
Well might that traveller start to see
  The tall dark forms, that take their way
From the birch canoe, on the river-shore,        655
And the forest paths, to that chapel door;
And marvel to mark the naked knees
  And the dusky foreheads bending there,
While, in coarse white vesture, over these
  In blessing or in prayer,        660
Stretching abroad his thin pale hands,
Like a shrouded ghost, the Jesuit 16 stands.
 
Two forms are now in that chapel dim,
  The Jesuit, silent and sad and pale,
  Anxiously heeding some fearful tale,        665
Which a stranger is telling him.
That stranger’s garb is soiled and torn,
And wet with dew and loosely worn;
Her fair neglected hair falls down
O’er cheeks with wind and sunshine brown;        670
Yet still, in that disordered face,
The Jesuit’s cautious eye can trace
Those elements of former grace
Which, half effaced, seem scarcely less,
Even now, than perfect loveliness.        675
 
With drooping head, and voice so low
  That scarce it meets the Jesuit’s ears,
While through her clasped fingers flow,
From the heart’s fountain, hot and slow,
  Her penitential tears,—        680
She tells the story of the woe
  And evil of her years.
 
“O father, bear with me; my heart
  Is sick and death-like, and my brain
  Seems girdled with a fiery chain,        685
Whose scorching links will never part,
  And never cool again.
Bear with me while I speak, but turn
  Away that gentle eye, the while;
The fires of guilt more fiercely burn        690
  Beneath its holy smile;
For half I fancy I can see
My mother’s sainted look in thee.
 
“My dear lost mother! sad and pale,
  Mournfully sinking day by day,        695
And with a hold on life as frail
  As frosted leaves, that, thin and gray,
  Hang feebly on their parent spray,
And tremble in the gale;
Yet watching o’er my childishness        700
With patient fondness, not the less
For all the agony which kept
Her blue eye wakeful, while I slept;
And checking every tear and groan
That haply might have waked my own,        705
And bearing still, without offence,
My idle words, and petulance;
  Reproving with a tear, and, while
The tooth of pain was keenly preying
Upon her very heart, repaying        710
  My brief repentance with a smile.
 
“Oh, in her meek, forgiving eye
  There was a brightness not of mirth,
A light whose clear intensity
  Was borrowed not of earth.        715
Along her cheek a deepening red
Told where the feverish hectic fed;
  And yet, each fatal token gave
To the mild beauty of her face
A newer and a dearer grace,        720
  Unwarning of the grave.
’T was like the hue which Autumn gives
To yonder changed and dying leaves,
  Breathed over by his frosty breath;
Scarce can the gazer feel that this        725
Is but the spoiler’s treacherous kiss,
  The mocking-smile of Death!
 
“Sweet were the tales she used to tell
  When summer’s eve was dear to us,
And, fading from the darkening dell,        730
The glory of the sunset fell
  On wooded Agamenticus,—
When, sitting by our cottage wall,
The murmur of the Saco’s fall,
  And the south-wind’s expiring sighs,        735
Came, softly blending, on my ear,
With the low tones I loved to hear:
  Tales of the pure, the good, the wise,
The holy men and maids of old,
In the all-sacred pages told;        740
Of Rachel, stooped at Haran’s fountains,
  Amid her father’s thirsty flock,
Beautiful to her kinsman seeming
As the bright angels of his dreaming,
On Padan-aran’s holy rock;        745
Of gentle Ruth, and her who kept
  Her awful vigil on the mountains,
By Israel’s virgin daughters wept;
Of Miriam, with her maidens, singing
  The song for grateful Israel meet,        750
While every crimson wave was bringing
  The spoils of Egypt at her feet;
Of her, Samaria’s humble daughter,
  Who paused to hear, beside her well,
  Lessons of love and truth, which fell        755
Softly as Shiloh’s flowing water;
  And saw, beneath his pilgrim guise,
The Promised One, so long foretold
By holy seer and bard of old,
  Revealed before her wondering eyes!        760
 
  “Slowly she faded. Day by day
Her step grew weaker in our hall,
And fainter, at each even-fall,
  Her sad voice died away.
Yet on her thin, pale lip, the while,        765
Sat Resignation’s holy smile:
And even my father checked his tread,
And hushed his voice, beside her bed:
Beneath the calm and sad rebuke
Of her meek eye’s imploring look,        770
The scowl of hate his brow forsook,
  And in his stern and gloomy eye,
At times, a few unwonted tears
Wet the dark lashes, which for years
  Hatred and pride had kept so dry.        775
 
“Calm as a child to slumber soothed,
As if an angel’s hand had smoothed
  The still, white features into rest,
Silent and cold, without a breath
  To stir the drapery on her breast,        780
Pain, with its keen and poisoned fang,
The horror of the mortal pang,
The suffering look her brow had worn,
The fear, the strife, the anguish gone,—
  She slept at last in death!        785
 
“Oh, tell me, father, can the dead
  Walk on the earth, and look on us,
And lay upon the living’s head
  Their blessing or their curse?
For, oh, last night she stood by me,        790
As I lay beneath the woodland tree!”
 
The Jesuit crosses himself in awe,—
“Jesu! what was it my daughter saw?”
 
“She came to me last night.
  The dried leaves did not feel her tread;        795
She stood by me in the wan moonlight,
  In the white robes of the dead!
Pale, and very mournfully
She bent her light form over me.
I heard no sound, I felt no breath        800
Breathe o’er me from that face of death:
Its blue eyes rested on my own,
Rayless and cold as eyes of stone;
Yet, in their fixed, unchanging gaze,
Something, which spoke of early days,—        805
A sadness in their quiet glare,
As if love’s smile were frozen there,—
Came o’er me with an icy thrill;
O God! I feel its presence still!”
 
The Jesuit makes the holy sign,—        810
“How passed the vision, daughter mine?”
 
“All dimly in the wan moonshine,
As a wreath of mist will twist and twine,
And scatter, and melt into the light;
So scattering, melting on my sight,        815
  The pale, cold vision passed;
But those sad eyes were fixed on mine
  Mournfully to the last.”
 
“God help thee, daughter, tell me why
That spirit passed before thine eye!”        820
 
“Father, I know not, save it be
  That deeds of mine have summoned her
  From the unbreathing sepulchre,
To leave her last rebuke with me.
Ah, woe for me! my mother died        825
Just at the moment when I stood
Close on the verge of womanhood,
A child in everything beside;
And when my wild heart needed most
Her gentle counsels, they were lost.        830
 
“My father lived a stormy life,
Of frequent change and daily strife;
And—God forgive him! left his child
To feel, like him, a freedom wild;
To love the red man’s dwelling-place,        835
  The birch boat on his shaded floods,
The wild excitement of the chase
  Sweeping the ancient woods,
The camp-fire, blazing on the shore
  Of the still lakes, the clear stream where        840
  The idle fisher sets his weir,
Or angles in the shade, far more
  Than that restraining awe I felt
Beneath my gentle mother’s care,
  When nightly at her knee I knelt,        845
With childhood’s simple prayer.
 
“There came a change. The wild, glad mood
  Of unchecked freedom passed.
Amid the ancient solitude
Of unshorn grass and waving wood        850
  And waters glancing bright and fast,
A softened voice was in my ear,
Sweet as those lulling sounds and fine
The hunter lifts his head to hear,
Now far and faint, now full and near—        855
  The murmur of the wind-swept pine.
A manly form was ever nigh,
A bold, free hunter, with an eye
  Whose dark, keen glance had power to wake
Both fear and love, to awe and charm;        860
  ’T was as the wizard rattlesnake,
Whose evil glances lure to harm—
Whose cold and small and glittering eye,
And brilliant coil, and changing dye,
Draw, step by step, the gazer near,        865
With drooping wing and cry of fear,
Yet powerless all to turn away,
A conscious, but a willing prey!
 
“Fear, doubt, thought, life itself, erelong
Merged in one feeling deep and strong.        870
Faded the world which I had known,
  A poor vain shadow, cold and waste;
In the warm present bliss alone
  Seemed I of actual life to taste.
Fond longings dimly understood,        875
The glow of passion’s quickening blood,
And cherished fantasies which press
The young lip with a dream’s caress;
The heart’s forecast and prophecy
Took form and life before my eye,        880
Seen in the glance which met my own,
Heard in the soft and pleading tone,
Felt in the arms around me cast,
And warm heart-pulses beating fast.
Ah! scarcely yet to God above        885
With deeper trust, with stronger love,
Has prayerful saint his meek heart lent,
Or cloistered nun at twilight bent,
Than I, before a human shrine,
As mortal and as frail as mine,        890
With heart, and soul, and mind, and form,
Knelt madly to a fellow-worm.
 
“Full soon, upon that dream of sin,
An awful light came bursting in.
The shrine was cold at which I knelt,        895
  The idol of that shrine was gone;
A humbled thing of shame and guilt,
  Outcast, and spurned and lone,
Wrapt in the shadows of my crime,
  With withering heart and burning brain,        900
  And tears that fell like fiery rain,
I passed a fearful time.
 
“There came a voice—it checked the tear,
  In heart and soul it wrought a change;
My father’s voice was in my ear;        905
  It whispered of revenge!
A new and fiercer feeling swept
  All lingering tenderness away;
And tiger passions, which had slept
  In childhood’s better day,        910
Unknown, unfelt, arose at length
In all their own demoniac strength.
 
“A youthful warrior of the wild,
By words deceived, by smiles beguiled,
Of crime the cheated instrument,        915
Upon our fatal errands went.
  Through camp and town and wilderness
He tracked his victim; and, at last,
Just when the tide of hate had passed,
And milder thoughts came warm and fast,        920
Exulting, at my feet he cast
  The bloody token of success.
 
“O God! with what an awful power
  I saw the buried past uprise,
And gather, in a single hour,        925
  Its ghost-like memories!
And then I felt, alas! too late,
That underneath the mask of hate,
That shame and guilt and wrong had thrown
O’er feelings which they might not own,        930
  The heart’s wild love had known no change;
And still that deep and hidden love,
With its first fondness, wept above
  The victim of its own revenge!
There lay the fearful scalp, and there        935
The blood was on its pale brown hair!
I thought not of the victim’s scorn,
  I thought not of his baleful guile,
My deadly wrong, my outcast name,
The characters of sin and shame        940
On heart and forehead drawn;
  I only saw that victim’s smile,
The still, green places where we met,—
The moonlit branches, dewy wet;
I only felt, I only heard        945
The greeting and the parting word,—
The smile, the embrace, the tone, which made
An Eden of the forest shade.
 
“And oh, with what a loathing eye,
  With what a deadly hate, and deep,        950
I saw that Indian murderer lie
  Before me, in his drunken sleep!
What though for me the deed was done,
And words of mine had sped him on!
Yet when he murmured, as he slept,        955
  The horrors of that deed of blood,
The tide of utter madness swept
  O’er brain and bosom, like a flood.
And, father, with this hand of mine”—
“Ha! what didst thou?” the Jesuit cries,        960
Shuddering, as smitten with sudden pain,
  And shading, with one thin hand, his eyes,
With the other he makes the holy sign.
“—I smote him as I would a worm;
With heart as steeled, with nerves as firm:        965
  He never woke again!”
 
“Woman of sin and blood and shame,
Speak, I would know that victim’s name.”
 
“Father,” she gasped, “a chieftain, known
As Saco’s Sachem,—Mogg Megone!”        970
 
Pale priest! What proud and lofty dreams,
What keen desires, what cherished schemes,
What hopes, that time may not recall,
Are darkened by that chieftain’s fall!
Was he not pledged, by cross and vow,        975
  To lift the hatchet of his sire,
And, round his own, the Church’s foe,
  To light the avenging fire?
Who now the Tarrantine shall wake,
For thine and for the Church’s sake?        980
  Who summon to the scene
Of conquest and unsparing strife,
And vengeance dearer than his life,
  The fiery-souled Castine? 17
Three backward steps the Jesuit takes,        985
His long, thin frame as ague shakes;
  And loathing hate is in his eye,
As from his lips these words of fear
Fall hoarsely on the maiden’s ear,—
  “The soul that sinneth shall surely die!”        990
 
She stands, as stands the stricken deer,
  Checked midway in the fearful chase,
When bursts, upon his eye and ear,
The gaunt, gray robber, baying near,
  Between him and his hiding-place;        995
While still behind, with yell and blow,
Sweeps, like a storm, the coming foe.
“Save me, O holy man!” her cry
  Fills all the void, as if a tongue,
  Unseen, from rib and rafter hung,        1000
Thrilling with mortal agony;
Her hands are clasping the Jesuit’s knee,
  And her eye looks fearfully into his own;—
“Off, woman of sin! nay, touch not me
  With those fingers of blood; begone!”        1005
With a gesture of horror, he spurns the form
That writhes at his feet like a trodden worm.
 
    Ever thus the spirit must,
      Guilty in the sight of Heaven,
      With a keener woe be riven,        1010
    For its weak and sinful trust
    In the strength of human dust;
      And its anguish thrill afresh,
    For each vain reliance given
      To the failing arm of flesh.        1015
 
PART III.
Ah, weary Priest! with pale hands pressed
  On thy throbbing brow of pain,
Baffled in thy life-long quest,
  Overworn with toiling vain,
How ill thy troubled musings fit        1020
  The holy quiet of a breast
  With the Dove of Peace at rest,
Sweetly brooding over it.
Thoughts are thine which have no part
With the meek and pure of heart,        1025
Undisturbed by outward things,
Resting in the heavenly shade,
By the overspreading wings
  Of the Blessed Spirit made.
Thoughts of strife and hate and wrong        1030
Sweep thy heated brain along,
Fading hopes for whose success
  It were sin to breathe a prayer;—
Schemes which Heaven may never bless,—
  Fears which darken to despair.        1035
Hoary priest! thy dream is done
Of a hundred red tribes won
  To the pale of Holy Church;
And the heretic o’erthrown,
And his name no longer known,        1040
And thy weary brethren turning,
Joyful from their years of mourning
’Twixt the altar and the porch.
Hark! what sudden sound is heard
  In the wood and in the sky,        1045
Shriller than the scream of bird,
  Than the trumpet’s clang more high!
Every wolf-cave of the hills,
  Forest arch and mountain gorge,
  Rock and dell, and river verge,        1050
With an answering echo thrills.
Well does the Jesuit know that cry,
Which summons the Norridgewock to die,
And tells that the foe of his flock is nigh.
He listens, and hears the rangers come,        1055
With loud hurrah, and jar of drum,
And hurrying feet (for the chase is hot),
And the short, sharp sound of rifle shot,
And taunt and menace,—answered well
By the Indians’ mocking cry and yell,—        1060
The bark of dogs,—the squaw’s mad scream,
The dash of paddles along the stream,
The whistle of shot as it cuts the leaves
Of the maples around the church’s eaves,
And the gride of hatchets fiercely thrown,        1065
On wigwam-log and tree and stone.
Black with the grime of paint and dust,
  Spotted and streaked with human gore,
A grim and naked head is thrust
  Within the chapel-door.        1070
“Ha—Bomazeen! In God’s name say,
What mean these sounds of bloody fray?”
Silent, the Indian points his hand
  To where across the echoing glen
Sweep Harmon’s dreaded ranger-band,        1075
  And Moulton with his men.
“Where are thy warriors, Bomazeen?
Where are De Rouville 18 and Castine,
And where the braves of Sawga’s queen?”
“Let my father find the winter snow        1080
Which the sun drank up long moons ago!
Under the falls of Tacconock,
The wolves are eating the Norridgewock;
Castine with his wives lies closely hid
Like a fox in the woods of Pemaquid!        1085
On Sawga’s banks the man of war
Sits in his wigwam like a squaw;
Squando has fled, and Mogg Megone,
  Struck by the knife of Sagamore John,
Lies stiff and stark and cold as a stone.”        1090
 
Fearfully over the Jesuit’s face,
Of a thousand thoughts, trace after trace,
Like swift cloud-shadows, each other chase.
One instant, his fingers grasp his knife,
For a last vain struggle for cherished life,—        1095
The next, he hurls the blade away,
And kneels at his altar’s foot to pray;
Over his beads his fingers stray,
And he kisses the cross, and calls aloud
On the Virgin and her Son;        1100
For terrible thoughts his memory crowd
  Of evil seen and done,
Of scalps brought home by his savage flock
From Casco and Sawga and Sagadahock
  In the Church’s service won.        1105
 
No shrift the gloomy savage brooks,
As scowling on the priest he looks:
“Cowesass—cowesass—tawhich wessa seen? 19
Let my father look upon Bomazeen,—
My father’s heart is the heart of a squaw,        1110
But mine is so hard that it does not thaw;
Let my father ask his God to make
  A dance and a feast for a great sagamore,
When he paddles across the western lake,
  With his dogs and his squaws to the spirit’s shore.        1115
Cowesass—cowesass—tawhich wessa seen?
Let my father die like Bomazeen!”
 
Through the chapel’s narrow doors,
  And through each window in the walls,
Round the priest and warrior pours        1120
  The deadly shower of English balls.
Low on his cross the Jesuit falls;
While at his side the Norridgewock,
With failing breath, essays to mock
And menace yet the hated foe,        1125
Shakes his scalp-trophies to and fro
  Exultingly before their eyes,
Till, cleft and torn by shot and blow,
  Defiant still, he dies.
 
“So fare all eaters of the frog!        1130
Death to the Babylonish dog!
  Down with the beast of Rome!”
With shouts like these, around the dead,
Unconscious on his bloody bed,
  The rangers crowding come.        1135
Brave men! the dead priest cannot hear
The unfeeling taunt,—the brutal jeer;
Spurn—for he sees ye not—in wrath,
The symbol of your Saviour’s death;
  Tear from his death-grasp, in your zeal,        1140
And trample, as a thing accursed,
The cross he cherished in the dust:
  The dead man cannot feel!
 
Brutal alike in deed and word,
  With callous heart and hand of strife,        1145
How like a fiend may man be made,
Plying the foul and monstrous trade
  Whose harvest-field is human life,
Whose sickle is the reeking sword!
Quenching, with reckless hand in blood,        1150
Sparks kindled by the breath of God;
Urging the deathless soul, unshriven,
  Of open guilt or secret sin,
Before the bar of that pure Heaven
  The holy only enter in!        1155
Oh, by the widow’s sore distress,
The orphan’s wailing wretchedness,
By Virtue struggling in the accursed
Embraces of polluting Lust,
By the fell discord of the Pit,        1160
And the pained souls that people it,
And by the blessed peace which fills
  The Paradise of God forever,
Resting on all its holy hills,
  And flowing with its crystal river,—        1165
Let Christian hands no longer bear
  In triumph on his crimson car
  The foul and idol god of war;
No more the purple wreaths prepare
To bind amid his snaky hair;        1170
Nor Christian bards his glories tell,
Nor Christian tongues his praises swell.
 
Through the gun-smoke wreathing white,
Glimpses on the soldiers’ sight
A thing of human shape I ween,        1175
For a moment only seen,
With its loose hair backward streaming,
And its eyeballs madly gleaming,
Shrieking, like a soul in pain,
  From the world of light and breath,        1180
Hurrying to its place again,
  Spectre-like it vanisheth!
 
Wretched girl! one eye alone
Notes the way which thou hast gone.
That great Eye, which slumbers never,        1185
Watching o’er a lost world ever,
Tracks thee over vale and mountain,
By the gushing forest-fountain,
Plucking from the vine its fruit,
Searching for the ground-nut’s root,        1190
Peering in the she-wolf’s den,
Wading through the marshy fen,
Where the sluggish water-snake
Basks beside the sunny brake,
Coiling in his slimy bed,        1195
Smooth and cold against thy tread;
Purposeless, thy mazy way
Threading through the lingering day.
And at night securely sleeping
Where the dogwood’s dews are weeping!        1200
Still, though earth and man discard thee,
Doth thy Heavenly Father guard thee:
He who spared the guilty Cain,
  Even when a brother’s blood,
  Crying in the ear of God,        1205
Gave the earth its primal stain;
He whose mercy ever liveth,
Who repenting guilt forgiveth,
And the broken heart receiveth;
Wanderer of the wilderness,        1210
  Haunted, guilty, crazed, and wild,
He regardeth thy distress,
  And careth for His sinful child!
*        *        *        *        *
’T is springtime on the eastern hills!
Like torrents gush the summer rills;        1215
Through winter’s moss and dry dead leaves
The bladed grass revives and lives,
Pushes the mouldering waste away,
For glimpses to the April day.
In kindly shower and sunshine bud        1220
The branches of the dull gray wood;
Out from its sunned and sheltered nooks
The blue eye of the violet looks;
  The southwest wind is warmly blowing,
And odors from the springing grass,        1225
The pine-tree and the sassafras,
  Are with it on its errands going.
 
A band is marching through the wood
Where rolls the Kennebec his flood;
The warriors of the wilderness,        1230
Painted, and in their battle dress;
And with them one whose bearded cheek,
And white and wrinkled brow, bespeak
  A wanderer from the shores of France.
A few long locks of scattering snow        1235
Beneath a battered morion flow,
And from the rivets of the vest
Which girds in steel his ample breast,
  The slanted sunbeams glance.
In the harsh outlines of his face        1240
Passion and sin have left their trace;
Yet, save worn brow and thin gray hair,
No signs of weary age are there.
  His step is firm, his eye is keen,
Nor years in broil and battle spent,        1245
Nor toil, nor wounds, nor pain have bent
  The lordly frame of old Castine.
 
No purpose now of strife and blood
  Urges the hoary veteran on:
The fire of conquest and the mood        1250
  Of chivalry have gone.
A mournful task is his,—to lay
  Within the earth the bones of those
Who perished in that fearful day,
When Norridgewock became the prey        1255
  Of all unsparing foes.
Sadly and still, dark thoughts between,
Of coming vengeance mused Castine,
Of the fallen chieftain Bomazeen,
Who bade for him the Norridgewocks        1260
Dig up their buried tomahawks
  For firm defence or swift attack;
And him whose friendship formed the tie
  Which held the stern self-exile back
From lapsing into savagery;        1265
Whose garb and tone and kindly glance
  Recalled a younger, happier day,
  And prompted memory’s fond essay,
  To bridge the mighty waste which lay
  Between his wild home and that gray,        1270
Tall chateau of his native France,
Whose chapel bell, with far-heard din,
Ushered his birth-hour gayly in,
And counted with its solemn toll
The masses for his father’s soul.        1275
 
Hark! from the foremost of the band
  Suddenly bursts the Indian yell;
For now on the very spot they stand
  Where the Norridgewocks fighting fell.
No wigwam smoke is curling there;        1280
The very earth is scorched and bare:
And they pause and listen to catch a sound
  Of breathing life,—but there comes not one,
Save the fox’s bark and the rabbit’s bound;
But here and there, on the blackened ground,        1285
  White bones are glistening in the sun.
And where the house of prayer arose,
And the holy hymn, at daylight’s close,
And the aged priest stood up to bless
The children of the wilderness,        1290
There is naught save ashes sodden and dank;
  And the birchen boats of the Norridgewock,
  Tethered to tree and stump and rock
Rotting along the river bank!
 
Blessed Mary! who is she        1295
Leaning against that maple-tree?
The sun upon her face burns hot,
But the fixed eyelid moveth not;
The squirrel’s chirp is shrill and clear
From the dry bough above her ear;        1300
Dashing from rock and root its spray,
  Close at her feet the river rushes;
  The blackbird’s wing against her brushes,
  And sweetly through the hazel-bushes
  The robin’s mellow music gushes;        1305
God save her! will she sleep alway?
 
Castine hath bent him over the sleeper:
  “Wake, daughter,—wake!” but she stirs no limb:
  The eye that looks on him is fixed and dim;
And the sleep she is sleeping shall be no deeper,        1310
  Until the angel’s oath is said,
And the final blast of the trump goes forth
To the graves of the sea and the graves of earth.
  Ruth Boniton is dead!
 
Note 1. Mogg Megone, or Hegone, was a leader among the Saco Indians, in the bloody war of 1677. He attacked and captured the garrison at Black Point, October 12th of that year; and cut off, at the same time, a party of Englishmen near Saco River. From a deed signed by this Indian in 1664, and from other circumstances, it seems that, previous to the war, he had mingled much with the colonists. On this account, he was probably selected by the principal sachems as their agent in the treaty signed in November, 1676. [back]
Note 2. Baron de St. Castine came to Canada in 1644. Leaving his civilized companions, he plunged into the great wilderness, and settled among the Penobscot Indians, near the mouth of their noble river. He here took for his wives the daughters of the great Modocawando,—the most powerful sachem of the East. His castle was plundered by Governor Andros, during his reckless administration; and the enraged Baron is supposed to have excited the Indians into open hostility to the English. [back]
Note 3. The owner and commander of the garrison at Black Point, which Mogg attacked and plundered. He was an old man at the period to which the tale relates. [back]
Note 4. Major Phillips, one of the principal men of the Colony. His garrison sustained a long and terrible siege by the savages. As a magistrate and a gentleman, he exacted of his plebeian neighbors a remarkable degree of deference. The Court Records of the settlement inform us that an individual was fined for the heinous offence of saying that “Major Phillips’s mare was as lean as an Indian dog.” [back]
Note 5. Captain Harman, of Georgeana, now of York, was for many years the terror of the Eastern Indians. In one of his expeditions up the Kennebec River, at the head of a party of rangers, he discovered twenty of the savages asleep by a large fire. Cautiously creeping towards them until he was certain of his aim, he ordered his men to single out their objects. The first discharge killed or mortally wounded the whole number of the unconscious sleepers. [back]
Note 6. Wood Island, near the mouth of the Saco. It was visited by the Sieur de Monts and Champlain, in 1603. The following extract, from the journal of the latter, relates to it: “Having left the Kennebec, we ran along the coast to the westward, and cast anchor under a small island, near the mainland, where we saw twenty or more natives. I here visited an island, beautifully clothed with a fine growth of forest trees, particularly of the oak and walnut; and overspread with vines, that, in their season, produce excellent grapes. We named it the island of Bacchus.”—Les Voyages de Sieur Champlain, liv. 2, c. 8. [back]
Note 7. John Boniton was the son of Richard Bonython, Gent., one of the most efficient and able magistrates of the Colony. John proved to be “a degenerate plant.” In 1635, we find by the Court Records that, for some offence, he was fined 40s. In 1640, he was fined for abuse toward R. Gibson, the minister, and Mary, his wife. Soon after he was fined for disorderly conduct in the house of his father. In 1645, the “Great and General Court adjudged John Boniton outlawed, and incapable of any of his Majesty’s laws, and proclaimed him a rebel.” (Court Records of the Province, 1645.) In 1651, he bade defiance to the laws of Massachusetts, and was again outlawed. He acted independently of all law and authority; and hence, doubtless, his burlesque title of “the Sagamore of Saco,” which has come down to the present generation in the following epitaph:—
  “Here lies Boniton, the Sagamore of Saco;
He lived a rogue, and died a knave, and went to Hobomoko.”
By some means or other, he obtained a large estate. In this poem, I have taken some liberties with him, not strictly warranted by historical facts, although the conduct imputed to him is in keeping with his general character. Over the last years of his life lingers a deep obscurity. Even the manner of his death is uncertain. He was supposed to have been killed by the Indians; but this is doubted by the able and indefatigable author of the History of Saco and Biddeford.—Part I. p. 115. [back]
Note 8. Foxwell’s Brook flows from a marsh or bog, called the “Heath,” in Saco, containing thirteen hundred acres. On this brook, and surrounded by wild and romantic scenery, is a beautiful waterfall, of more than sixty feet. [back]
Note 9. Hiacoomes, the first Christian preacher on Martha’s Vineyard; for a biography of whom the reader is referred to Increase Mayhew’s account of the Praying Indians, 1726. The following is related of him: “One Lord’s day, after meeting, where Hiacoomes had been preaching, there came in a Powwaw very angry, and said, ‘I know all the meeting Indians are liars. You say you don’t care for the Powwaws;’ then calling two or three of them by name, he railed at them, and told them they were deceived, for the Powwaws could kill all the meeting Indians, if they set about it. But Hiacoomes told him that he would be in the midst of all the Powwaws in the island, and they should do the utmost they could against him; and when they should do their worst by their witchcraft to kill him, he would without fear set himself against them, by remembering Jehovah. He told them also he did put all the Powwaws under his heel. Such was the faith of this good man. Nor were these Powwaws ever able to do these Christian Indians any hurt, though others were frequently hurt and killed by them.”—Mayhew, pp. 6, 7, c. 1. [back]
Note 10. “The tooth-ache,” says Roger Williams in his observations upon the language and customs of the New England tribes, “is the only paine which will force their stoute hearts to cry.” He afterwards remarks that even the Indian women never cry as he has heard “some of their men in their paine.” [back]
Note 11. Wuttamuttata, “Let us drink.” Wee kan, “It is sweet.” Vide Roger Williams’s Key to the Indian Language, “in that parte of America called New England.”—London, 1643, p. 35. [back]
Note 12. Wetuomanit,—a house god, or demon. “They—the Indians—have given me the names of thirty-seven gods which I have, all which in their solemne Worships they invocate!”—R. Williams’s Briefe Observations of the Customs, Manners, Worships, etc., of the Natives, in Peace and Warre, in Life and Death: on all which is added Spiritual Observations, General and Particular, of Chiefe and Special use—upon all occasions—to all the English inhabiting these parts; yet Pleasant and Profitable to the view of all Mene: p. 110, c. 21. [back]
Note 13. Mt. Desert Island, the Bald Mountain upon which overlooks Frenchman’s and Penobscot Bay. It was upon this island that the Jesuits made their earliest settlement. [back]
Note 14. Father Hennepin, a missionary among the Iroquois, mentions that the Indians believed him to be a conjurer, and that they were particularly afraid of a bright silver chalice which he had in his possession. “The Indians,” says Père Jerome Lallamant, “fear us as the greatest sorcerers on earth.” [back]
Note 15. Bomazeen is spoken of by Penhallow as “the famous warrior and chieftain of Norridgewock.” He was killed in the attack of the English upon Norridgewock, in 1724. [back]
Note 16. Père Ralle, or Rasles, was one of the most zealous and indefatigable of that band of Jesuit missionaries who at the beginning of the seventeenth century penetrated the forests of America, with the avowed object of converting the heathen. The first religious mission of the Jesuits to the savages in North America was in 1611. The zeal of the fathers for the conversion of the Indians to the Catholic faith knew no bounds. For this they plunged into the depths of the wilderness; habituated themselves to all the hardships and privations of the natives; suffered cold, hunger, and some of them death itself, by the extremest tortures. Père Brebeuf, after laboring in the cause of his mission for twenty years, together with his companion, Père Lallamant, was burned alive. To these might be added the names of those Jesuits who were put to death by the Iroquois,—Daniel, Garnier, Buteaux, La Riborerde, Goupil, Constantin, and Liegeouis. “For bed,” says Father Lallamant, in his Relation de ce qui s’est dans le pays des Hurons, 1640, c. 3, “we have nothing but a miserable piece of bark of a tree; for nourishment, a handful or two of corn, either roasted or soaked in water, which seldom satisfies our hunger; and after all, not venturing to perform even the ceremonies of our religion without being considered as sorcerers.” Their success among the natives, however, by no means equalled their exertions. Père Lallamant says: “With respect to adult persons, in good health, there is little apparent success; on the contrary, there have been nothing but storms and whirlwinds from that quarter.”
  Sebastian Ralle established himself, some time about the year 1670, at Norridgewock, where he continued more than forty years. He was accused, and perhaps not without justice, of exciting his Praying Indians against the English, whom he looked upon as the enemies not only of his king, but also of the Catholic religion. He was killed by the English, in 1724, at the foot of the cross which his own hands had planted. His Indian church was broken up, and its members either killed outright or dispersed.
  In a letter written by Ralle to his nephew he gives the following account of his church and his own labors: “All my converts repair to the church regularly twice every day: first, very early in the morning, to attend mass, and again in the evening, to assist in the prayers at sunset. As it is necessary to fix the imagination of savages, whose attention is easily distracted, I have composed prayers, calculated to inspire them with just sentiments of the august sacrifice of our altars: they chant, or at least recite them aloud, during mass. Besides preaching to them on Sundays and saints’ days, I seldom let a working-day pass without making a concise exhortation, for the purpose of inspiring them with horror at those vices to which they are most addicted, or to confirm them in the practice of some particular virtue.”—Vide Lettres Edifiantes et Cur., vol. vi. p. 127. [back]
Note 17. The character of Ralle has probably never been correctly delineated. By his brethren of the Romish Church, he has been nearly apotheosized. On the other hand, our Puritan historians have represented him as a demon in human form. He was undoubtedly sincere in his devotion to the interests of his church, and not overscrupulous as to the means of advancing those interests. “The French,” says the author of the History of Saco and Biddeford, “after the peace of 1713, secretly promised to supply the Indians with arms and ammunition, if they would renew hostilities. Their principal agent was the celebrated Ralle, the French Jesuit.”—p. 215. [back]
Note 18. Hertel de Rouville was an active and unsparing enemy of the English. He was the leader of the combined French and Indian forces which destroyed Deerfield and massacred its inhabitants, in 1703. He was afterwards killed in the attack upon Haverhill. Tradition says that, on examining his dead body, his head and face were found to be perfectly smooth, without the slightest appearance of hair or beard. [back]
Note 19. Cowesass?—tawhich wessaseen? Are you afraid?—why fear you? [back]
 
 
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