Our varying days pass on and on,
Our hopes fade unfulfilled away,
And things which seem the life of life
Are taken from us day by day.
Our little dramas all may fail,
And naught may issue as we planned,
Our costliest ships refuse to sail,
Our firmest castles fall to sand.
But God lives on, and with our woe
Weaves golden threads of joy and peace,
And somewhere we will surely know
From sorrow and pain the glad release.
FOREGLEAMS OF IMMORTALITY.
This year of our Lord, 1886, brought an infinitely greater sorrow than the mere financial losses which pressed so hardly upon us in connection with our Florida endeavors. On Christmas morning, while alone in my room, I distinctly heard my father’s voice whisper: “James, James, good-bye,” and an hour later the telegraph flashed the news that he passed away at the exact time when I heard him bidding me farewell.
My father was an honest man, the noblest work of God; he had gained none of what the world calls the great prizes of life, but he had what was better far, a conscience void of offense towards God and man. In the words of Thoreau—“If a man does not keep pace with his fellows, perhaps it is because he hears a different drum beat; he should step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” This my father always did, though the music of his life-march came not from earth, but from the sky, and without a shadow of fear, sustained by a deathless faith, he passed within the gateway of eternal life.
The winter at last retreated sullenly and reluctantly to his arctic home, and when the first harbingers of spring appeared, singing the memorial songs of the Resurrection, the old country fever, inherited from many generations of farmer ancestors, seized me, and we bought a small plantation for $4,200, in N——, Mass., to which we moved April 28, 1887. Here, as usual, much money was expended on improvements and for horse, carriages, cow, pigs, hens, also for scanty harvests of vegetables, and our only returns therefor consisted of large crops of backaches, nasal hemorrhages, and rheumatism incurred in frantic attempts to coax from the reluctant soil, some slight compensation for excessive labor.
Here, as usual, I was busied with many cares, lecturing in various places on the subject of Florida and selling our private lands in that state. Like Mr. Pickwick, I was founder of many societies, notably the N—— club, which, with a fine orchestra and much dramatic talent soon became the social and literary attraction of the town; also the Republican club, which conducted a vigorous campaign for protective tariff and sound money, attracting large audiences by political debates. I was president of both these flourishing organizations, was chairman of the parish committee of the Unitarian Church, leading to its enlargement and extended usefulness, was a member of the congressional committee of the district which wrested a congressman from the Democrats, electing, after a desperate struggle, John W. Candler, to the National Legislature in place of Russell, “the sheepless Shepherd.”