The New Zealand Survey
A Retrospective Reverie. — On receiving the “Hamilton Advertiser” a provincial newspaper, sent from “Home,” 1859
A Retrospective Reverie.
On receiving the “Hamilton Advertiser” a provincial newspaper, sent from “Home,” 1859.
See all these represented towns,
And hamlets, which seem’d once unworthy
Of being noticed in the “news;”
Now they have tidings to diffuse,
And have an influence, now deem’d worthy!
Joy; Change; Memory; HomeMy heart rejoices in the thought
That all are active in progression!—
page 162 Though here within my mountain home,
Or through New Zealand wilds I roam,
My mem’ry holds each old impression.
Yes, Stra’ven, foremost scene of youth,
Where boyhood had of joys its measure;
There, schoolmates fondly I’d recount,
Participating, as of wont,
Their happy fellowships with pleasure.
I see on some bland Fortune smiles,
As worthy of her gifts imparted;
Colony; Imagination; HomeAnd some, like me, have wandered far,
As led by Fancy’s guiding star,
And homely scenes of youth deserted.
But like the ship that rides the wave,
Held by the anchor’s sturdy cable,
Though each must brave stern fortune’s tide,
Associations old have tied
Affections there, once much unstable!
And some I loved, are now no more;
Ev’n such, whom one could meet but rarely;
But I observe another race,
As in succession, takes their place,
Who would in virtue promise fairly!—
Young Giffen imitate my friend,
Thy rev’rend relative departed;
Employ the measure of thy days,
In perfecting thy Saviour’s praise,
Though youthful, be thou noble hearted!—
Education; Change; LoveAnd those soirees of Sunday Schools,
Detailed within this “Advertiser,”
While reading such, I feel as there,
And learn in happy smiles this pray’r,
“Oh! let the rising race grow wiser
And now improvement’s onward strides,
I fancy, gracing old Strathaven,
I hail with joy! Could now I there
Myself betake, how I would stare
A lonely stranger wonder-graven!
Full twenty years could not go past,
Without imparting much improvement;
What then was new, has now grown old,
While fresh additions manifold
Must have resulted in the movement!
Change; Prosperity; SocietyWell, bless improvement’s work, I say,
Though there I’d look a lonely stranger;
And may prosperity attend
The people!—The most High defend
Them, from all ills that might endanger
See each has something to relate
Of interest, and worth recording!—
May still advancement’s work be found
In active service, and abound
In blessings rich, them joy affording!
Ev’n Chapelton and Larkhall once
Were, without law and gospel, faulted,
page 164 Now what a change in both for good;
The Gospel lamp of cheering mood,
T’ enlighten, is in truth exalted!
And Millheugh nestling in a glen,
As from the busy world retiring;
Once far from public ken or care,
Amid embow’ring orchards fair
Of plenteous promise, bless inspiring:
This cannot miss improvement’s touch,
As it were proof against such infection;
Where lovely scenery abounds,
There rise might villas, spread might grounds
Of pleasure laid to much perfection.
ChangeAll such small villages of old
In public scarce had got a footing;
Now in this “Advertiser;” these
Have got a voice—are heard to please,
Or plead their various claims, transmuting
The dross of silence to the gold
Of special worth,—they, long precluded
From urging on improvement’s car,
With social intercourse, by far
The best of brotherhood!—included
And thou, Rosebank, dear to my heart,
A source of special reminessence!
Here let me linger, and review
Of pleasures there enjoyed, a few,
Full oft affording comfort’s essence.
Who could have thought thy name would shine,
As now, in a provincial paper?
But as thy name would still disclose
The beauties of the blooming rose,
So mayst thou still display thy taper
In men of worth; such as I’ve found
Of old in thee. As thou art rising
To some importance in the world,
Be not of stinted growth—unfurled
Be all thy energies premising
FriendshipCan I forget the friendships there,
Which were to me in truth accorded?—
How like the rising of the sun
Above the dusky cloud, when won
Were laurels fair, such joy afforded!
To me ’tis but like yesterday,
While thus I’m former days reviewing;
page 166 But Oh! what changes must have been
From Time’s great budget dealt, I ween,
While he his onward course pursuing!
ChangeNow other names I read, than those
I left, which tell of change, consigning
Some to the dust!—Some gone t’ explore
Earth’s utmost bounds,—some frail and hoar
I left in prime, with strength combining!
And what of pupils? yet methinks
I see around me their bright faces!
They to maturity have grown,
And must have families of their own,
Some struggling,—some in easy places!
Aye, such the events of life! But be
Ye energetic in your callings;
Use moderation; on your toil
God’s blessing ask; so shall He smile
On you His peace, and cheer your dwellings!
Memory; PerceptionRosebank, your scenes are photographed
Upon my heart; in retrospection,
These, oft enjoy’d, make cares a void,
As Milton, Maulslee, Haughs of Clyde,
Rise beautiful in each reflection;
Nature; JoyThese woodland heights in summer garb,
And verdant flowery leas forthspreading;
And sunny slopes where cottage bowers,
Amid their orchard shades, and flowers,
Look beautiful, an influence shedding,
But ah! how otherwise would seem
The fortunes of thy parent village!
Dalserf, how like one in decline!
Oh! what a contrast has been thine,
O’er thee old age makes fearful pillage!
Thy tales of yore I’ve heard from eld,
Whose eyes the while with tears did sparkle;
How in his youth the village had
Its hundred homes with fam’lies glad—
But now they’re gone, as fate would darkle*
Thy history with contempt! Thy name
As yet is left, and church remaining
Memento sole of times that were,
Aristocratic pride must spare
’Mid ruins made, some whim sustaining!
May yet amid those times of change
Improvement with its grand achievements
Be on thee wrought; though thou the dead
Must have in charge, as thou wert wed
To ev’ry kind of sad bereavements!
The ancient village sires, beneath
Thy sod, who lived in times unreckon’d,
Could little dream each happy home
A desolation would become
In other times, then, unbetoken’d!
Still may thy name survive, as do
The old fruit trees those sires have planted;
All such memorials ever true,
In season yield abundance due,
As virtue ne’er should be supplanted!
But here, adieu!—Now Braidwood calls,
As claiming share of my rememb’rance;
A little village, too, forsooth!
As to the world, a hidden truth
Is now brought forth from ’neath much cumbrance!
“Why pass Cossford and Nethanfoot,
Both on your way, as them you slighted:”—
I fain would stand and speak with both,
But time is urgent, and I’m loath,
To linger, lest I get benighted.—
“Our Church, you knew, in early days,
When it no gall’ry had provided:”—
I see it added now, as proof
Of large attendance in behoof
Of “wisdom’s ways,” for good decided!
“And see the bridge that spans the Clyde,
Supplanting the obnoxious ferry:”—
A noble structure ’tis I trow,
Some five and twenty years old now!—
To Braidwood bound—don’t make me tarry!
Lo here I’ve had attraction sweet,
Of which rememb’rance cheer have tender’d;
Can langsyne quickly be forgotten,
As if one’s faculties were rotten,
Or leaky-tub-like, useless render’d?
His lot with grief or joy! Does yet
Exist those missionary meetings?—
Such wont to be presided o’er
By good old Morton, long “no more,”—
Where friends have met with social greetings:
Now may I hope some mission friend,
Still takes the chair with circumspection;
As changes come—still for the best
May they be guided as some test
Of onward, heavenward direction!
Old friends, perhaps, are scattered far,
Like me from scenes of youth’s enjoyments
Or disappointments like a snare,
Fond hopes while checking, unaware
Have o’er them cast their sad annoyments,
Such as might rend one’s heart in twain;
But Oh! I hope it is far other;
That every happiness is [unclear: theire]
God’s blessing freeing them from cares,
With prospects bright, of kind another
Than all this world affords!—May they
Enjoy that peace which passeth knowledge!
[unclear: ...] such own’d by each pardon’d one,
[unclear: A...] to Heav’n on earth begun,
Rich in good fruits, beyond good foliage!
Should I revisit fatherland
Those scenes anew I’ll seek, and ponder
O’er all the changes time has wrought,
And those improvements famous, brought
With generations new, as grander
Than all the past have known!—How good
Though spectacled, and on staff leaning
page 170 To meet old friends! Thus sunder’d long,
How would we then sing youth’s old song,
Nor let old age be overweening!
But here the muse may cease; though fain
I other places in reflection,
Would visit, with regards to all,
Not treating with mere passing call,
But fondly with full retrospection.
ChangeWould time and space allow! For lo!
Those towns which erst had small probation,—
For instance, Shots, Curluke, Belshill,
And Motherwell,—all with good will,
Seem aiming at a higher station!
E’en Wishaw, whose importance once,
From its distillery arising,
Methinks has now a greater aim,
To quell the pride of Britain’s shame
While better means of fame devising!
Now, here may I my thanks repay,
To this provincial “Advertiser!”
As it to me has filled a measure
Of langsyne joys reviewed with pleasure,
As Retrospection’s prime adviser.
Heaven bless you all, and ev’ry one,
As being virtue’s grand unfolder;
To cheer, as in the darksome night,
Be each a burning shining light;
Such is the prayer of William Golder!
* This expressive verb is not found in any dictionary, but its present participle is; why not the principal word? Let lexicographers consider.