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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.
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;
And wet of northern wilds in winter drear,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
“ Till spring we gave; and thou wast not to teach
Thy interdicted doctrines here the while,
The church regain, and quit thy errors vile;
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.
“ 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."
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.
Nor are my nerves in their robuster mood;
“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.
In health to bear a trial so severe,
“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!”
This said, he turned and hastily withdrew,
And all but Williams now were left in tears ;
Her nature yielding to her rising fears ;
She almost heard the blazing musketeers,
"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;
Yet there is one who is a friend indeed,
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,
That forth from Church within the State ensphered
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 ;