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WHATCHEER.

CANTO FIRST.

[Scenes.

The Fireside at Salem-The Wilderness-The Wigwam.)

I SING of trials, toils and sufferings great,

Which FATHER WILLIAMS in his exile bore, That he the conscience-bound might liberate,

And to the soul her sacred rights restore ; How, after flying persecution's hate,

And roving long by Narraganset's shore, In lone Mooshausick's vale at last he sate, And gave soul-liberty her Guardian State.

II.

He was a man of spirit true and bold ;

Fearless to speak his thoughts whate'er they were ; His frame, though light, was of an iron mould,

And fitted well fatigue and change to bear;
For God ordained that he should breast the cold

And wet of northern wilds in winter drear,
And of red savages protection pray
From Christians, but--more savage still than they.

III.

Midwinter reigned ; and Salem's infant town,

Where late were cleft the forests' skirts away, Showed its low roofs, and, from their thatching brown

Sheeted with ice, sent back the sun's last ray;

The school-boys left the slippery hillock's crown,

So keen the blast came o'er the eastern bay; And pale in vapors thick the sun went down, And the glassed forest cast a sombre frown.

IV.

The busy house-wife guarded well the door,

That night, against the gathering winter storm Did well the walls of all the cot explore

Where'er the snow-gust might a passage form ; And to the couch of age and childhood bore

With anxious care the mantle thick and warm ; And then of suel gathered ample store, And bade the blaze up the rude chimney roar.

V.

That night sate Williams, with his children, by

The blazing hearth — his consort at his side ; And often did she heave the heavy sigh

As still her task of needle-work she plied ; And, from the lashes of her azure eye,

Did often brush the starting tear aside; For they at Spring the savage wilds must try, 'Twas so decreed by ruthless bigotry.

VI.

Beside the good-man lay his Bible's fair

Broad open page upon the accustomed stand, And many a passage had he noted there,

Of Israel wandering o'er the desert's sand, And each assurance he had marked with care,

Made by Jehovah, of the promised land ; And from the sacred page had learned to dare The exile's peril, and his ills to bear.

VII.

And, while the holy book he pondered o'er,

And often told, to cheer his consort's breast, How, for their faith, the blest apostles bore

The exile's wanderings and the dungeon's pest, A heavy foot approached his humble door,

And some one, opening, instant entrance prest : A well-known elder was he, strict and sour, Strong in a church ensphered in civil power.

VIII.

"I come,” he said in accents hard and stern,

“ The Governor's and Council's word to bear : They are convened, and hear, with deep concern,

That thou abusest their indulgence fair; Ay, with resentment and abhorrence learn

That still thou dost thy specious tenets share With visitors, who, smit therewith, discern Strange godliness in thee, and from us turn.

IX.

“ Till spring we gave; and thou wast not to teach

Thy interdicted doctrines here the while,
But curb thy tongue, or with submissive speech

The church regain, and quit thy errors vile;
Of which condition thou committest breach,

And dost her saints from Salem's church beguile; And plan, 'tis said, to found in easy reach A State where Antichrist himself may preach.

X.

“ From such a State our blessed elders see

The church may, even here, the infection share ; And therefore have the Council made decree,

That to the wilderness thou shalt not fare;

But have their mandate hither sent by me,

That thou to Boston presently repair ; Where waits a ship now ready for the sea, To carry back thy heresy and thee."

XI.

Williams replied, “Thy message is unkind, —

In sooth, I think it even somewhat rude ; The snow falls fast, and searching is the wind

And wildly howls through the benighted wood.
The path to Boston is a little blind,

Nor are my nerves in their robuster mood;
My soul has seldom at her lot repined,
But to submission now she's disinclined.

XII.

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A voyage to England, and to start to-night

And brave the ocean at this season drear ? 'Twould scantly give the hardy tar delight,

Much less my consort and these pledges dear.
Go, and the Council tell, that we're not quite

In health to bear a trial so severe,
That if we yield 'twill be to lawless might,
And not to their kind feelings or their right."

XIII.

“Much do I grieve,” the elder then replied,

“ To bear this answer to the Governor; 'Twill show that thou hast Church and State defied,

And will I ween make not a little stir; And should a pinnace, on the morn espied

O'er yonder waters speeding, bring with her A squad of soldiers, Underhill their guide, Be not surprised, but — Williams, quell thy pride!”

XIV.

This said, he turned and hastily withdrew,

And all but Williams now were left in tears ;
His wife, still comely, lost her blooming hue,

Her nature yielding to her rising fears ;
A giddy whirling passed her senses through,

She almost heard the blazing musketeers,
And trembling to her couch retired to sigh,
And seek relief in prayer to God on high.

XV.

"0! for a friend,” still as he paced the floor,

Sire Williams cried, a friend in my sore need, To help me now some hidden way explore,

By which my glorious purpose may succeed;
But closed to-night is every cottage door;

Yet there is one who is a friend indeed,
Forever present to the meek and poor
I will thy counsels, mighty Lord, implore."

XVI.

Here dropt the friend of conscience on his knees,

And prayed, with hand and heart to Heaven upreared; “0, thou, the God who parted Egypt's seas,

And cloud or fire in Israel's van appeared,
Send down thine angel now, if so it please,

That forth from Church within the State ensphered
He guide my steps, to where there yet may be
A Church not ruled by men, but ruled by Thee."

XVII.

Our Father ceased. — The tempest roared around

With double fury at this moment drear, The cottage trembled, and the very ground

Did seem to feel the element's career ;

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