Page images

It came to making the list out

An error was made in the men.
Yet I think as I clasp my darling,

Would he still be here to-day
Had I shaken Nell's simple tenet,
“God listens when children pray.”



Robert Walker, b. 1844, poet, secretary to the Fine Arts Institute, Glasgow. The

author of many charming poems which have appeared in the leading magazines. [The speaker is supposed to be a railway labourer, and the story is founded on an in

cident which recently occurred on an English railway. The provincial dialect should be assumed throughout the delivery of the poem.)

Joe Smith? Yes, mates, .I knew him well

As rough as rough could be;
Yet, spite of all that parsons say,

There's worse on earth than he!
There wasn't much of the saint in him.

Only he never lied,
And few who've lived a better life

A nobler death have died.
His death? Ay, lads, I mind it well,

And how the sun did shine
On the level crossing that morn,

Athwart the railway line !
The gates were shut and fastened,

That no one might pass through;
A distant rumbling plainly told

The Scotch express was due.
On the hillside I was working,

While Joe sat on the grass,
Waiting alongside the rails below,

Until the train should pass.
The morn was cool, and bright, and still,

The lark sang shrill and clear;
I always think of Joe, poor lad,

Whene'er that song I hear.
He sat by the railway smoking,

Thinking of—who can say ?

Mayhap of last night's fun, mayhap

Of some one far away!
I wrought and listened, when sudden

There came a cry from Joe;
I turned ; oh, heav'n! how faint I felt

At what I saw below!

The gates, I said, were bolted fast;

But clamb'ring through the fence, On to the line, had strayed a child.

Heav'n help its innocence ! There came the engine tearing on,

With its exulting scream,
Ruthless it seemed and fiercely sped, like

A monster in a dream.
Right on the track the infant stood,

A primrose in its hand,
And on the coming death it smiled,

Too young to understand.
One moment more had been too late.

Joe bounded to his feet,
And on with some fierce word he dashed.

As any racehorse fleet.
I, on the hillside, saw him rush

Straight to the jaws of death,
And up the hillside seemed to come

The engine's fiery breath.
His strong hand seized and threw the child

Right there, beside the brook;
A few sharp stings from the thorny side,

Was all the harm it took !
But Joe, poor lad, 'twas worse for him-

The engine left him lying
Beside the rails, a ghastly heap-

Torn, bleeding, stunned, and dying !
We raised him up. I held him,

His head on my arm laid.
He spake but once again, brave lad

And this was all he said:

“ The chick's pulled through, I hope," and then

Lay closer to my breast.
I need not tell you more, my mates,

You all must know the rest.

[blocks in formation]

One day to make the matter worse,

Before our names were fixed,
As we were being washed by nurse,

We got completely mixed;
And thus, you see, by fate's decree,

Or rather nurse's whim,
My brother John got christened me,

And I got christened him.
This fatal likeness ever dogged

My footsteps when at school,
And I was always getting flogged,

When John turned out a fool.
I put this question, fruitlessly,

To every one I knew,
“What would you do, if you were me,

you were you?”

Our close resemblance turned the tide

Of my domestic life,
For somehow, my intended bride

Became my brother's wife.
In fact, year after year the same

Absurd mistakes went on,
And when I died, the neighbours came

And buried brother John.Henry S. Leigh.


David Macrae, Independent minister, Dundee, b. 1845. His works bear the charm

of simple diction, dry humour, and sound morality. Little Tiz, from which volume of stories the following humorous one is selected, is a charming and touching tale. Burke and Hare were two well-known murderers, the former of whom was executed at Edinburgh for a series of dastardly crimes, Hare having saved his neck by turning king's evidence.

We had a great public dinner in connection with the Charity School. When dinner was over and the toast-drinking commenced, I wish you could have been there to hear sone of the speeches. How, for instance, in proposing the health of the Governor of the School, our Chairman, who had never heard of the Governor before, said that he was sure we would drink this toast with the utmost enthusiasm.

“It is entirely unnecessary for me,” he said, “ to say a single word in regard to one whose name is so familiar to us all as the name of

-of” (a pause, Chairman trying to remember)—“as the name of Mr.”—(trying to find it now upon the programme)"the name of Mr.

“Duffy," whispered the gentleman on his right.

“Duffy,” repeated the Chairman with an air of relief—“so familiar to us all as the name of Mr. Duffy."

Then how poor Mr. Duffy, who had prepared an elaborate speech, but had forgotten it, got up with a face as if he were on his way to be hanged, to assure us that this was the happiest moment in all his life; which I was glad to hear Mr. Duffy say, for I should not have inferred it from his appearance.

The Rev. Mr. Maclacky rose next, and proposed, in a pulpit voice of appalling solemnity, the health of Mrs. Anderson, the matron of the Institution.

It was, he said, a wonderful Institution. We were living in a wonderful age. He might point abroad, and he might point at home. He might point to-to the Cattle Plague, which had proved itself of so destructive a character. He was not aware that that plague had extended itself to sheep, but amongst cattle of all kinds it had proved itself most destructive in its character."

As there seemed no likelihood of Mr. Maclacky getting off this singular tack, his next neighbour nudged him.

“Yes," said Mr. Maclacky, “it is time to be done. I must not detain you with any lengthened observations. But after what has been already said, I am sure that you will cordially join with me in drinking the health of Mrs. Anderson, the matron of this Institution.”

But the memorable speech of the evening was to come.

The Rev. Mr. Burke, our Episcopal minister, was there, of course; and M‘Swilling of M-Swilling was to propose the Clergy, coupling the toast with Mr. Burke's name. When the time came, however, M-Swilling was nowhere to be seen, being, as we afterwards discovered, asleep, in a rather fuddled condition, in the cloak-rooin, with an admirable speech on the progress of religion and morality in the tail-pocket of his coat.

As M‘Swilling bad disappeared, the Chairman pencilled a note hastily to my next neighbour, Rumbleton, asking him to propose the toast, and not forget, in winding up, to pay a compliment to the Episcopal clergyman, and refer to his connection with “the celebrated Burke”—meaning, of course, the famous orator and statesman. The last word, however, was indistinctly written, and Rumbleton, after staring at it for a while, nudged me and said, “What word is this?

- The celebrated B-n--k-e, Binkie! "The celebrated Binkie'Who was he?

“No," I said ; " that’s ‘Burke'—the same name as our clergyman. His family is related to the famous Burke."

"Oh, indeed !” said Rumbleton, apparently with some surprise. He paused awhile, and then said in a low voice, “Would he like that mentioned? Do you think Burke was a good man ?”

“Certainly,” I said. “Why not? His peculiar views may have gained him some bitter enemies; but there can be no doubt that, personally, Burke was both a good and a great man.”

Rumbleton looked rather dubious; but having his reputation to sustain as a crack speaker, he threw himself into the subject with his usual enthusiasm. Towards the close of his speech he paid a high-flown compliment to the Rev. Mr. Burke, and proceeded to refer to his family.

“Who has not heard a thousand times,” he said, “of his connection with the celebrated Burke? (Hear, hear.) I hold that Burke was a good man (hear, hear) yes, a good and a great man. (Cheers.)

« PreviousContinue »