Another MS. of Mr. Cheever’s is in the possession of the Massachusetts Historical Society. It is a book six by eight inches in size, of about four hundred pages, all well filled with Latin dissertations, with occasionally a mathematical figure drawn. One turns over the old leaves with affectionate interest, even if the matter written upon them is beyond his comprehension. It certainly is a pleasure to read on one of them the date May 18, 1664.
Verily, New England should treasure the memory of Ezekiel Cheever, the man who called himself “Schoolmaster,” for she owes much to him.
* * * * *
By E.H. Goss.
Longfellow may well be called the Poet of the Bells; for who has so largely voiced their many uses as he, or interpreted the part they have taken in the world’s history. That he was a great lover of bells and bell music is evinced by the many times he chose them as themes for his poems; nearly a dozen of which are about them, containing some of the sweetest of his thoughts; and allusions to them, like this from Evangeline,—
Anon from the belfry
Softly the Angelus sounded,”—
are sprinkled all through his longer poems, as well as his prose. The Song of the Bell, beginning,—
“Bell! thou soundest merrily
When the bridal party
To the church doth hie!”
was among his earliest writings; and The Bells of San Blas was his last poem, having been written March 15, 1882, nine days only before he died:—
“What say the Bells of San Blas
To the ships that southward pass
From the harbor of Mazatlan?”
And this last stanza must contain the last words that came from his pen:—
“O Bells of San Blas, in vain
Ye call back the Fast again!
The Past is deaf to your prayer:
Out of the shadows of night
The world rolls into light;
It is daybreak everywhere.”
One of his latest sonnets is entitled Chimes.
“Sweet chimes! that in the loneliness
Salute the passing hour, and in the dark
And silent chambers of the household mark
The movements of the myriad orbs of light!”
“Half-way up the stairs it stands”
in his mansion at Cambridge, by so many thought to be the one referred to in The Old Clock on the Stairs. But no; that one was in the “Gold House” at Pittsfield, and is now in disuse; while this one is a fine piece of mechanism, striking the coming hour on each half hour, and on the hour itself sweet carillons are played for several moments, so familiar to the poet that it is no wonder that to hear it he says,—
“Better than sleep it is to lie awake.”