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For 'twas alone the bravest

Of those who nobly shed Their lifeblood in the battle

Whose wrists were bound with red.

And when they thus had graced them

Who fell before the foe,
They hurled their lifeless bodies

Into the plain below.,
The earth did ne'er imprison

Those hillsmen brave and free, The sky alone should cover

The warriors of Trukkee.

There came a time of conflict,

And a great armed throng Of England's bravest soldiers,

Avengers of the wrong, Marched through the gloomy gorges,

Forded the mountain rills, Vowing that they would vanquish

Those robbers of the hills.

The road was strange and dubious;

Easy it was to stray ;
And of those English soldiers

Eleven lost their way.
Led by a trusty leader,

They reached a fearful glen, And saw a mountain stronghold

Guarded by forty men.

Guarded by forty veterans

Of that fierce robber band, In every face defiance,

Weapons in every hand.

“ Back !" cried the trusty leader ;

The soldiers would not hear,
But up the foe-crowned mountain

Charged with their English cheer.

With loud huzzas they stormed it,

Nor thought to turn from death,
But for Old England's honour

Yielded their latest breath.
Short was the fight but deadly,

For, when our last man fell,
But sixteen of that forty

Were left the tale to tell.

But those sixteen were noble :

They loved a brave deed done ;
They knew a worthy foeman,

And treated him as one.
And when the English soldiers

Sought for their comrades slain,
They found their stiff, stark corpses

Prostrate upon the plain :
They lay with blood-stained faces,

Fixed eyes, and firm clenched fists,

Was twined around their wrists.

I soon discovered that this ballad was a favourite with Pelican;

and it was one of the very few of his own effusions he could ever be prevailed upon to recite. He told me once that it always maintained its hold upon his imagination, and that he never came to the last verse without all his blood stirring within him. It was given by an acquaintance of his at a public reading in the neighbourhood, and he was obviously very much pleased at the interest which it excited. “I don't pretend to wonder at it,” said he. “The poem may be bad or it may be good ; but I will maintain to the last that the story is grand. It is the finest example of non-Christian chivalry I ever heard of."

The following little study is one of the numberless records of natural phenomena and their accompanying moods which I found among Pelican's verses, and of which I dare say I shall be tempted to give other specimens in some chapter of these reminiscences. The hour of sunset had always a singular charm for him ; indeed, he had a decided sunset mania, and after a hard day's work would often walk three or four miles to a little bit of rising ground where he could enjoy what he called his evening feast. Alexander Smith in one of those charming essays on which, I think, his fame will ultimately rest, asks, “Who remembers the sunsets of last year?" If Smith had known Pelican, this question would never have been put. He remembered them; and would sometimes say when looking at a picture, “ This reminds me of a sunset I saw at such a place five summers ago.” He had a curious system of classification, and spoke of sunsets religious, passionate, contemplative, demoniac, and so forth. The sunset of the poem seems to belong either to the religious or the contemplative species.


The sun is sinking slowly in the west,

A broadening silver light is on the sea,
The calm which evening brings reigns in the breast,

And gentle voices seem to speak to me.

Those voices come, but why will they not stay?

Why has the bird of calm such wandering wings?
Why do these tranquil moments pass away

So quickly? They should not be transient things.

They should not go could I detain them here;

I would have evening always with its balm';
The noon-tide weariness, the nightly fear,

Should never mar the spirit's blissful calm.

And yet, perchance, if calm could thus be made

Eternal here it would be calm no more ;
I might grow weary of the evening shade,

And of the sunset light upon the shore.

I might sigh longingly for starry night,

Or languish for the fresh life-giving morn,
Or even say, “Oh for the noon-day light,

Had I but it the heat might well be borne.”

So it is best this soft, sweet light should go,

And day die gorgeously across the sea
In red and amber_robes—a glorious show,

And that this calm should pass away from me.

And yet not wholly pass: the life once known

But for a moment lives in us for aye,
The joy we once have grasped and made our own

No years nor ages can take quite away.

The next poem I quote is of a very different order. I call it a poem rather than two poems, because the connection of the sonnets is evidently not arbitrary but vital. I could not believe when I first read them, and I cannot believe now, that there was not some love-story behind them-a love-story which was not altogether a comedy but had certain tragic threads woven into the centre of its fabric. Whether there were really such a story, and if there were, what part Pelican had played in it, whether actor or spectator, were questions which often suggested themselves to me; but I never got from him even a hint that could give me a clue to an answer. Of course it is possible that I am altogether mistaken, and that they were only written as a semi-lyric, semidramatic exercise. But I doubt.



Dearest, a dreadful fear clouds my sad soul,
A fear that I have striven to put away
From me, and yet it grows from day to day.
Hourly I hear a bell that seems to toll
The knell of my great bliss. Over me roll
Dark waves of terror. O God, can it be
That I, who with sweet tears have praised Thee
For his deep love, have lured him to a shoal
And wrecked his life! I would not have thee waste
Thy days, O dear one; I would have thee taste
Life's cup of blessing; for thou knowest well
How little I can give thee; thou dost lose
By love that brings but sorrow, therefore choose
The fuller life, the joys that in it dwell.

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