The New Zealand Survey
Stanzas — To the Memory of Wm. Swainson, Esq., F.R.S. &c., — Departed hence, December 7, 1855
To the Memory of Wm. Swainson, Esq., F.R.S. &c.,
Departed hence, December 7, 1855.
Ye sons of science hear this humble strain,
A fellow of your brotherhood’s “no more;”
Your Swainson’s number’d with your sires of yore—
page 138 From earth recall’d to rest from labor’s pain;
Whose works still speak his worth, while ye encore
Their merits with your plaudits loud, all worthy such to gain!
HonourHe long has worn your laurels on his brow
Well earned, as worthy that esteem ye show’d
While by such honors paid , his bosom glow’d
As proud to share in your regards. But now
A higher place to him must be bestow’d>
By Him whose works he studied, much admiring, ye may trow.
Loss; Friendship; Joy; LoveThough ye may mourn his loss, ye must approve
Of his advancement to a brighter sphere!
Although such loss is worthy of a tear,
Yet his removal to those realms above
Where bliss prevails, your friendship, as sincere,
Will give congratulations due, as proof of social love.
Science; Nature; Religion; LoveOn earth the works of God he has explored,
To aid his fellows of mankind to love
The author of their beings, and approve
Hiswond’rous ways; and in His will accord
Though seeming strange to ignorance, that strove
To give the lie to truths, which Nature teaches of her Lord.
As when the bee would revel among flowers
Of richest fragrance and extract their sweets;
Science; NatureSo Nature’s secrets in her close retreats
He brought to light, drawn by his studious powers,
Expounding and comparing what were feats
Which else might have remained unknown till history’s latest hours.
Such were the pleasures that he most enjoy’d,
And such he sought more than earth’s richest gains,
Though much he toiled, yet heedless of such pains,
page 139 That might have scared another: unalloyed
With lucre’s thirst like that which oft obtains
In many, was his industry, which could not be destroyed.
How like the mirror his capacious soul,
Reflecting nature’s work where’er he trode,
With careful step communing with his God;
On these he traced, as on an ample scroll,
His glorious attributes, unknown abroad,
What earth and sea combined contain, yet part of nature’s whole.
That seeming endless chain that ever binds
All nature’s varied fam’lies into one,
He through its interwoven links could run,
And shew how each to either were inclined,
As he had seen creative power begun,
To do that work determined in the great Creator’s mind.
Air, earth, and sea, in ev’ry kind of clime,
To him was but one field for his employ;
The greater range but gave the greater joy!
Where many others would have lost their time
In doing nought, whose minds could not descry
Those pleasures that to him revealed their holiness sublime.
No other Fane could he with this compare,
No holier altar could be reared by man;
Here God he served, as Adam first began
To praise his Maker in the open air
With all the creatures round him, o’er whom ran
That fear which own’d him priest and prince, as they his subjects were.
Thus he amid the wonders he beheld
Could look to Heaven, ascribe Him mighty power;
page 140 His goodness trace in tree, and shrub, and flower,
Or the field herbage, or in birds that swell’d
The varied concert—insects of an hour,
Minute, to those of magnitude, gave reason that impell’d
Him more to praise; and call attention due
Of others him to join the nobler strain
Than worldly cares allow; but oft in vain—
For so it is ’mong many,—while how few
Can value place on what is real gain,
Though all approve such virtue, and own blessings thence accrue.
SocietyBut grov’lling cares, the worldlings’ grand pursuit,
Could no attractions yield him, or decoy
Attention from such studies, standing high
’Bove other pleasures his, while also mute
To politicians’ squabbles, which annoy
That peace beyond the ken of those, whose strifes themselves confute.
Youth, fortune, and the prime of manhood’s day
Have all devoted been in his career
Of scientific pursuits, as sincere
As any follower of pleasures gay
In search of earthly happiness, where’er
Such might be found; but his was such, few equals would essay.
ScienceThough many would attempt his steps to trace,
They seem’d as children wand’ring on the beach
Of science’ depths—he far beyond their reach
Would beckon them to follow in the chase
Of great researches, fondly them to teach
Such lessons of creative skill they might not soon efface.
Science; Nature; ReligionThough through all parts of nature, as a whole,
He could each labyrinth and nook survey,
As to him, darkness lighten’d were to day;
page 141 Yet versed was he in science of his soul
As much as of his animated clay
With all that certainty of truth, and hope, as to its goal.
Philosophy; Perception; MoralityUnlike to many a false philosopher
Who feign to search out knowledge in behalf
Of merely framing up some abject proof
That man can claim no more than the brutes’ share
Of immortality, condemning safe
Himself to the position of base degradations lair!
As through inverting optic’s they would view
The works of great Jehovah, ever good;
So moral darkness o’er such minds would brood!—
While he’d, as with a heav’nly light, pursue
His path, undoubtedly well understood,
Because he more enlighten’d was in oracles most true!
Nature; Religion; JoyThe page of Nature with revealed Truth,
To a relationship he well could bring,
As from one Author both at first did spring,
That one the other might expound forsooth;
While thus their harmonies his soul could sing,
Anticipating bliss above, he bore his heavenward growth!
When age stole on a pace, which said, “Retire
From all those arduous labors undergone.”—
He still, as wont, could seldom let alone
Such pleasing ploy; nor ceased he to admire
The beauties of creation! Round him shone
The halo of his early joys, that did his heart inspire.
Friendship; Joy; Peace; SufferingHis garden and his book, familiar friends!
With him, no other could their place supplant;
As these his sources were, whence ev’ry want
page 142 Of earthly joys supplied were; and whose ends
Were purest satisfaction! when descant
On heavenly themes he could with peace, which earthly cares transcends.
Thus, ’mid his garden of selected flowers,
Of every hue of beauty and of bloom,
As sweet memorials that cheer from gloom
The soul reflecting on his earthly powers
Decaying, while their sweetness of perfume
Inspired his mind with peace, to hail departures holy hour.
(Ye flowers, the objects of his daily toil,
Ye now might miss his tendings and his care,
As other hands might happen to be spare
In those attentions ye enjoy’d the while,
When freed from weeds, or having added soil
According to your natures, to repair
Your strength and beauty, as became your loveliness and smiles).
Home; ReligionThus made he earth agreeable, while he
But waited on until such time would come,
When he’d receive his welcomed summons home,
And be from earth’s absorbing cares set free;
When thus, exultingly beyond the tomb,
He’d reap fruitions of his hopes in immortality.
Joy; Religion; Love; PerceptionHe now must know, what oft he long’d to know—
“Whether our souls, amid the joys of heaven,
Would have to them a kind permission given,
To scan more perfectly God’s works below;*
Or range th’ extended universe, t’enliven
Extatic praise to love divine, for aye to overflow!”
His thirst for knowledge to exalt his lays
To bountiful Beneficence, no end
Could know, but rather would the more extend
page 143 The more he gather’d through his length of days;
And even hoped that Death would him befriend
In learning’s acquisitions more,—perfecting love to praise.
Friendship; Poetry; JoyHere let me close this poor imperfect strain—
Poor, when compared with his attainments high;
Imperfect, when contrasted to that joy
His friendship gave;—though late I such did gain,
And shortlived, yet it was worthy:—social tie!
That grateful feelings ne’er can sleight, but steadfast such retain!
October 1, 1856.
* Such was the theme of a discussion we had, which he advanced, a few days before his last illness.