Hail, Rural Life! from whom such pleasures spring,
That I invoke my Muse thy charms to sing.
Whether I view thee in my native land,
Where Science lends to Industry her hand,
To make her cornfields yield a double store,
Or beautify her landscapes more and more-
Where wealth immense is very freely spent,
By those who on thy weal are still intent;
Or here, in Canada, thy face I view
On well-cleared farms, or those which are quite new;
However rude thy features, or despised-
Though in Town-life, thy charms by me are prized.
A sense of these still urges me along,
As I proceed with my unlettered song;
And every line which I may write on thee,
I trust will evidence sincerity.
The new-come settlers now with speed prepare
To log the fallow they have cleared with care.
For Summer, with her heat intense, has fled,
And fruit-crowned Autumn has come in her stead.
The brush, well dried, is burnt; and all around
Logs, black and charred, are lying on the ground.
These into heaps must every one be drawn,
By means which to all Bush-men are well known.
Have they not strength or time the work to do?
They ask their neighbor's help, and oxen, too.
And fellow-feeling, sprung from their own need,
Leads these the summons to obey with speed.
Should the set day be fine, they start from home
Without regret, and to the fallow come.
One looks so pale, he seems not fit for work;
Has had the Ague, and it still doth lurk
In his poor frame, and may again appear
A dozen times before he's closed the year!
Some others, also, wear quite sickly looks,
As though they had run deep in Doctors' books;
Or are reduced, by heat and toil intense,
Till work, with them, would seem, but mere pretence.
But let us not pre-judge them; they have hearts
Brave as a lion, and will act their parts.
The 'fixings' ready, some experienced hand
A 'Come, boys! Let's to work!' gives as command.
This said, their strength and numbers they divide;
'Haw, Buck!' 'Gee, Bright!' is heard on every side.
'Boys, bring your handspikes; raise this monster log
Till I can hitch the chain-Buck! lazy dog!
Stand o'er, I say! What ails the stupid beast?
Ah! now I see; you think you have a feast!'
Buck snatches at a clump of herbage near,
And deems it is, to him, most savory cheer;
But thwack, thwack, thwack, comes from the blue-beech goad;
He takes the strokes upon his forehead broad
With due submission; moves a little piece,
That those unwelcome blows may sooner cease.
The chain is hitched; 'Haw, now!' is loudly heard,
And the half-buried log is disinterred.
'Get up! Go 'long?' vociferously shouts
Every ox-teamster, at these logging bouts.
The heap is reached; now list the loud 'Whoa-ay!'
Louder and louder, till the oxen stay.
The chain's unhitched; 'Now, boys! your handspikes seize;
Lift! Altogether! Rest it on your knees;
There; roll him over. Ah! 'twas nobly done!
The fire will dry his coat, as sure's a gun!'
And thus, to lighten toil, they pass the joke,
Or stand a moment to have serious talk.
One of some accidents his neighbors tells,
Till each warm bosom with emotion swells;
How Jack Maguin was logging at a 'Bee,'
And got his right leg broke beneath the knee;
How he, through careless treatment, was laid up
For full two months, and had scarce bite or sup.
Or how Will Sims was chopping near his house,
And his best ox was feeding on the 'browse,'
When all at once the quivering tree descended
Upon the beast, and thus his life was ended!
Anon we notice that each smutty face
Beams with good humor, and the cause we trace
To the supply of whisky just parta'en-
A thing which often proves the settler's bane.
Again they work with stimulated strength,
And, 'midst more noise, the log-heaps rise at length.
The dinner hour arrives; the horn is blown
To make the fact to all the loggers known.
The teams to some near pasture now are led,
Or with new hay most plentifully fed.
The men make for the house with decent haste-
None are inclined to let time run to waste.
But this does not prevent the laugh and jest,
At the black face by every one possessed.
To wash is needful, and refreshing, too,
So all go at it without more ado.
This task performed, which all should take delight in,
They to the feast prepared need no inviting.
Their heavy labor gives an appetite,
And they can eat with relish and delight.
But first their host, if he's a Christian man,
Gives thanks to God with all the warmth he can.
Then all the workmen ample justice do
To those good things so tempting to the view.
Dear Reader, have you seen a logging feast?
No? Wait a while, and I will place at least
The chief ingredients before your eyes;
Here's a huge prime ham; there are pumpkin pies;
Mealy potatoes next our notice claim-
The bread and butter we need never name,
They must be there of course; and here's a dish
Of no mean size, well filled with splendid fish.
That's boiled, fresh mutton; those are nice green peas;
This huckleberry pie is sure to please!
And now I'll cease-no, three things yet remain;
Tea, cream and sugar, might of slight complain!
There, will this do? Or is there something more
Which you would think it right to set before
Such worthy eaters? I am satisfied
It can't be bettered in our Bush-land wide!
Good as it is, and hungry as they are,
They cannot from good jests themselves debar.
One sees his neighbor cast a longing glance
Toward that berry pie; and, rare good chance!
'Tis nearest him, he chuckles with delight,
And is about to whip it out of sight;
But Fortune, still capricious, gives the No;
His nearest neighbor does an interest show
In this proceeding, and the pie has snatched,
Quite in good humor, ere the scheme's well hatched!
The disappointed couple sympathise,
And signal to each other, with their eyes.
The third one, quite unselfish, deems the jest
Gone far enough, and now resolves 'tis best
To help himself, and hand round to the rest.
Another to the fishes takes a notion,
With more of selfishness than wise precaution.
His work-mate spies this, and removes the prize
A leetle further from his longing eyes.
Such jokes pass free; and no great wrong is done
To real good-fellowship by harmless fun.
'Tis o'er at last, when most of them partake
The pipe delicious, for its own dear sake.
They rest and smoke, and smoke and rest again,
Until the 'Come, boys!' sounds in loudest strain.
Once more to work, with fresh alacrity,
They reach the fallow, pleased as men can be.
The teamsters call their cattle, not far strayed,
But chewing cud beneath some green tree's shade.
'Co' Buck! Co' Bright!' throughout the woods resound,
And each trained ox moves forward at the sound.
Again the work goes forward, as before.
Till nearly night-fall, when their task is o'er.
Naught now remains but scattered chips and sticks,
Which their host's hopeful son at leisure picks,
And lays upon the heaps-some here, some there-
The burning to assist, which needs due care.
'Tis supper time; again the horn is heard,
And its deep tones has woodland echoes stirred.
Most charming sound to my poetic ear;
And every time 'tis heard still far more dear!
They hear the sound, but yet seem loath to go;
And when they do, their steps are very slow.
They are well tired; no wonder; such a day
Of work laborious would some tire for aye!
Once more they wash; once more they freely eat;
Then light their pipes; and now each other greet
With warm 'Good night!' but, ere they have departed,
Their host thanks them, from gratitude warm-hearted.
Now all are gone, save two, who skulk behind,
Of the younger son; and, if I am not blind,
A couple of bright girls I failed to mention,
Are not quite unaware of their intention.
But this is not my business, so I'll pass
To other things, and let each court his lass.
Should next day prove a fine one with a breeze
So strong as just to move surrounding trees,
The Settler may his new-raised log-heaps fire,
And see them burn to suit his heart's desire.
The fire is placed; where, think you? Not below,
But on the top, and burns at first but slow.
See, now, the wind has blown it to a flame;
And soon the log-heap fire's no longer tame!
Dry sticks and chips, in all the openings placed,
Will prove the time spent on them was not waste.
The embers, falling, make these soon ignite;
And now the heap, from end to end, is bright!
With pale or ruddy flame; the smoke ascends
Thick, black and curling, as its way it wends
Toward the sky. Now twenty heaps are fired
And form a sight I often have admired.
The heat becomes intense; for Sol's warm rays
Uniting with the wood-fire's fiercest blaze,
Make it past bearing; yet the Settler bears
The heat and toil, and smiling aspect wears,
Because the work progresses to his mind.
Let us draw nearer, then-'twill seem more kind-
And watch him with the handspike thrust the brands
Closer together. He a moment stands
To wipe the perspiration from his face,
Which streams fast forth again, and leaves its trace
In his pale looks and daily shrinking frame.
Now, every pile's a mass of glowing flame!
The wind, increasing, whirls the fire about,
And makes the workman, if he's wise, look out
For stacks and fences-dangerously near.
He knows the risk; he deems there's cause for fear;
So keeps his eyes still wandering all around,
To mark the rising smoke where'er 'tis found.
Neglect might very soon cause damage great,
In that which should, his labor compensate.
Hence his wise caution as the wind grows stronger,
Until the 'burning' needs his care no longer.
This o'er he drags the ground, and sows his grain,
And of the toil required does not complain.
He 'sows in hope;' and, if he take due care,
A splendid crop sill soon be growing there.
In view of this, let us suppose him singing
The LOGGER'S SONG, while peaceful thoughts are springing.
THE LOGGER'S SONG.
Come, Boys, to the Logging be cheerfully jogging,
A day's work's before us, I trow;
The Fall is advancing, Sol's mild beams are dancing
On the brook, in the Fallow below.
Cheerily, cheerily, cheerily, O!
Let's log in the Fallow below.
The oxen are waiting, they need no fresh baiting,
Till dinner-time come for us all;
Now, while we are pushing, our work the new Bush in,
Let none into carelessness fall.
Steadily, steadily, steadily, O!
Let's work in the Fallow below.
The logs, thickly lying, our strength seem defying;
But forward, Boys! true courage show!
With hand-spikes unbending, this day we will spend in
The capture of each charred foe.
Speedily, speedily, speedily, O!
We'll capture each black, charred foe.
Now, lads, in your teaming, let's have no blaspheming!
Your oxen are patient and strong;
Our logging laborious need not be uproarious,
Nor lead us to anything wrong.
Decently, decently, decently, O!
Let's act, as the huge log-heaps grow.
When dinner-horn sounding, calls all that are found in
The Fallow to come to the Feast,
Let's guard 'gainst satiety-eat with sobriety-
So shall our joys be increased.
Soberly, soberly, soberly, O!
We'll eat what our friends may bestow.
When day is departing, and we are all starting
For Home, with its sweet earthly bliss,
May thoughts of wives smiling be still reconciling
Our minds to hard labor, like this.
Then freely, most freely, still freely, O!
To all neighbors' loggings we'll go.
Such work as that I have described above,
And holding plow, kept WILLIAM on the move.
Of active turn, he worked beyond his strength-
And felt the sad effects, in full, at length.
Yet at this season, in Canadian woods,
He could not well refrain from musing moods.
Nor was it any wonder, when each day
Added fresh charms to Nature's grand display.
The once-green leaves, struck by the early frost,
Made up in gorgeous tints what they had lost!
He felt that never in his life before
Had he e'er seen such hues as those trees wore.
Some that were shaded still preserved their green,
While others near were decked in golden sheen.
Some in deep crimson robes were gaily drest,
Others in shades of brown, as seemed them best;
While not a few, of pride in dress were fuller,
And had their robes of every splendid color!
The weather, too, was of that balmy kind,
So suited to a dreamy state of mind;
For mighty Sol felt his yet powerful rays
Subdued, being wrapped in a thin, blue haze.
'Tis true, there came the oft-recurring thought,
That all these beauties were too dearly bought;
That soon, too soon, tempestuous winds would rise,
And murky clouds veil those bewitching skies!
That Winter but delayed his coming now
To gather blackness on his cold, knit brow,
That he might rush with tenfold furious rage,
And all the elements in war engage,
To strip the trees of all their splendors bare
And make sweet Nature a stern aspect wear!
Such thoughts at times filled him with melancholy,
Which then, shook off, were looked upon as folly
And after-thoughts brought in their joyous train
Pleasures prospective, during Winter's reign.
The fleecy snow's wild dancing through the air;
The clean, white sheet, wove for the soil to wear,
To guard the plants designed for next year's food
From Frost's attacks, when in a vengeful mood.
The sleighing, too, in prospect, had delights
For one like he-so used to Fancy's flights.
He heard already, in imagination,
The jingling bells, producing sweet sensation.
And 'midst such dreaming Time flew swiftly by,
While he, to stay its course, wished not to try.
His Sabbath days met with observance due,
For he to Christian ways continued true.
The family with loving Brethren met,
Some miles from home, as oft as they could get.
With them 'broke bread,' and joined in praise and prayer,
Or heard Christ's doctrine read, or preached, with care.
This they continued every Sabbath day,
And found much benefit from it always.
Meanwhile their worldly means grew less and less,
And fear of debt led them through some distress.
At last their circumstances were made known
To a dear friend, who did a kind heart own.
He WILLIAM took, to help him in his store,
And gave good wages-which endeared him more
To those, thus favored, who by this perceived
He carried out, in practice, truths believed.
In this employment WILLIAM staid not long,
His sensitiveness soon made things go wrong.
He therefore back returned into the Bush,
Where Want stood ready his fond hopes to crush.
Ere this, dread Winter had set in with rigor,
Yet he his bright axe took again with vigor.
Throughout the woods the snow lay very deep,
And Nature's face betokened death-like sleep.
Few sounds were heard to break the stillness round,
Yet in those few our hero pleasure found.
The loud report of Indian hunter's gun,
Which sometimes made the cattle homeward run;
The beauteous woodpecker's quick rap-tapping
At girdled trees, that long since had no sap in;
Besides, the chopper's almost constant stroke
Rang through pure air, and louder echoes woke;
While ever and anon a tree would fall
With thundering crash, which might some minds appal.
These all were sounds which he loved well to hear,
For they, 'mid hard employ, his heart did cheer.
Severe the Bush-man's life, and full of danger,
While, to most scanty fare he is no stranger.
It needs good eyes, strong arms, and courage, too,
To live the life which most new settlers do.
The elder COOPER'S sight was very bad,
Which came nigh bringing him a fate most sad.
They were both chopping at a basswood tree-
Stroke followed after stroke most rapidly-
When, lo! a sudden blast of wind arose,
WILLIAM perceived it, and withheld his blows;
Looked up, saw danger, bade his father fly!
Reached a safe place himself, which was near by;
The tree came down; he quickly then returned,
And stood amazed as soon as he discerned
His father's near escape from tree-crushed fate;
He quite unconscious of his danger great.
There rested, just a foot above his head,
A huge crook'd branch, that might have struck him dead,
Had it not been for God's most watchful care,
So plainly manifested to him there.
This wondrous mercy called forth gratitude,
And Love's warm glow fresh in their hearts renewed.
In cutting logs for barn, and drawing lumber,
Our hero spent of days a goodly number.
Amongst deep snow, and with a slow ox-team,
One thinks 'twould prove a damper to his dream.
Not so, however; though his food was scant,
Of liking for the Bush he felt no want.
He and his brother scoured the woods around,
Where'er 'twas likely straight logs could be found.
These cut, were left till snow had 'settled down,'
When to the barn-site they with speed were drawn.
Thus passed the hardest months of that hard season,
And Sol's increasing warmth was hailed with reason.
The more, because that Sugar-time drew near,
With its romantic scenes, to WILLIAM dear
From what he heard the older Settlers say,
So, for it he prepared without delay.
South of their home there grew a splendid lot
Of noble maples, in a sheltered spot.
Convenient to this place, there also grew
Some good black-ash, of which he chose a few
From these he made small troughs to catch the sap,
Whene'er the time should come the trees to tap.
A good pine tree he sought, with eager eyes,
To form a store-trough, of most ample size.
Obtained a gouge, and next his spiles prepared;
For all the toil required he little cared.
'Good axe-men fifty small troughs make per day;'
So said old Woods-men, in a boasting way.
This roused ambition in his youthful breast,
And he worked hard, scarce taking time for rest.
His pride was somewhat humbled when he found
That he could make but thirty each day round.
Yet courage took from this, that their's were made
Of soft pine wood, which did their smartness aid.
'Tis March, and now the snow has settled down
To half its former depth; Sol's beams have grown
Sufficiently direct to make clear days
Feel warm enough to raise the sap, which plays
With life-renewing power, through all the trees;
And yet, at night, 'tis cold enough to freeze.
The Sugarer knows no time must now be lost
To be successful; so he takes his post
About the centre of the 'Sugar-Bush,'
Whence he his labors can most freely push.
If wise, in lieu of gash he bores a hole
With auger, at right height, in each tree's bole;
Drives in his gouge a-slant, inserts his spile,
Places a trough-fast lessening thus his pile.
At first, perhaps, the sap will scarcely flow;
He heeds this not, but onward still doth go,
Till every tree that he intends to tap
Is quite prepared to yield its share of sap.
This done, without delay he now will fix
His boiling place, and get two strong, forked sticks;
These, well secured, with pole to reach across,
For hanging kettles he is at no loss.
By this time, if the day continue warm,
His work assumes a more than common charm.
The huge store-trough conveniently is placed,
And he, to gather sap, begins in haste.
With pail upon each arm he moves along,
O'er the soft snow, the noble trees among.
If tunable, perhaps a song he sings
Of 'Auld lang syne,' or some more serious things,
Which tends to make his work more easy seem,
Or drive away some foolish, waking dream.
The Bush, if large, will need another band
To tend the fire; and this one must command
Sufficient knowledge of the Sugaring feat
To guard the syrup from too great a heat.
He must mind, too, to fill the boilers up;
And if he choose, he may ev'n take a sup
Of maple-honey, whose delicious flavor
More than repays their outlay and hard labor.
It now has reached that point when constant watch
Must be kept o'er it, lest they spoil the batch.
New milk, or eggs, are used to clarify
The saccharine juice, that it may truly vie
For purity, with any sugar made,
By those who have been brought up to the trade.
'Tis read now for straining; and as Eve
Draws her dark curtains, we the Bush may leave,
And follow him who bears his precious load,
Well pleased, but tired, to his rude log abode.
Let's enter, unperceived, that we may see
The Sugar take its next and last degree.
Through flannel bag the syrup now they strain,
And the close texture does the dregs retain.
Now it is placed o'er quite a gentle fire,
Till it assume that state which they require.
This, b repeated trial, they discover;
When cool, it will 'grain' well, and boiling's over.
I've now gone through this sugar-making process
In business form; not giving, more or less,
A hint of frolics which the young folks play,
In sugaring-time, and after close of day.
My readers may imagine, if they choose,
The fun that from such gatherings ensues;
While I proceed to frame a harmless Song,
Expressive of the Sugarer's feelings strong,
As he his most delightful work pursued,
Midst leafless trees, in deepest solitude.
THE SUGAR-MAKER'S SONG.
Sol's warmth is increasing, the Frost-King is ceasing
His hold on the sap of the trees;
And having wrought steady, my troughs are all ready,
So now I will eagerly seize
My few rude tools, ere ardor cools,
Nor heed the melting snow.
Some days of toil will never spoil
The pleasure before me, I know.
I need no inviting, to work I delight in;
Of such I have plenty to-day;
The soft blush of Morning the scene is adorning,
Then why should I longer delay?
The Maple tree will give to me
Its bounty most profuse;
One huge sweet cake I hope to make
Each day, from the saccharine juice!
Last night's splendid freezing as truly most pleasing
To those who the Sugar-Bush love;
This morn's indications' need no explanations,
As the day will abundantly prove!
Then haste, comrade, and bring your spade;
To clear away the snow,
That our wood-fire may soon acquire
A beautiful, bright, ruddy glow.
Now, whilst I am tapping the trees with sweet sap in,
Prepare you a good stock of wood;
Be watchful in boiling, run no risk of spoiling
By carelessness, prospects so good!
O, as I tap, out flows the sap
In a small crystal stream!
I feel as gay, on this fine day,
As I have in some youthful dream!
Now, comrade, each kettle of cast-iron metal
Is full enough quite for a start;
Pray keep the fire going, but yet not too glowing,
For thus you will best act your part.
While I am off, guard the store-trough
From cattle browsing near;
This splendid 'run' may soon be done-
The north wind is coming, I fear!
The syrup needs skimming. 'Leave it to the women?'
Ah, comrade, it never will do!
They may mind the straining without much complaining,
Yet think it is quite enough, too.
Now eventide, and frost beside,
Bid us our labor cease;
For home we'll make, and syrup take
To them, as an offering of Peace!
The lively strain which I have just indulged,
Must change full soon, if facts were all divulged.
For darker shades come o'er my hero's dream;
But we must pause, ere we resume the theme.
And trust this sketch of rude Bush-life may prove
Acceptable to those who Nature love.
Such retrospect has charms for one like me,
Who has passed through such scenes most happily.
Pardon me, Reader, if my unlearned song
Should seem to you quite dull, and much too long;
The good of all I would most gladly seek,
From purest motives, and with spirit meek-
Not counting Fame, so dazzling to men's eyes,
But God's approval, as my wished-for prize.
Should this be mine, I shall be quite content,
And deem my time and labor wisely spent.