Tuesday 25 January 2011

Lisburn Writers from The Poets of Ireland, 1912. (part 4)



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(Oxford University Press, 1912.)


Twenty-seven names of writers of verse, of local interest, from "The Poets of Ireland," have been selected -- these will be extracted and given here with the relative notes from the volume on each writer. The notes will be given in full and verbatim. Where possible the notes from "The Poets of Ireland" will be supplemented and augmented by additional and new matter gathered from other sources.
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Dobbs, Francis. (See notes, Article XIV.). -- On June 7th, 1800, he delivered a long address in the Irish House of Commons in which he predicted the Second Coming of the Messiah. "Memoirs of Francis Dobbs, Esq.," were published in 1800. " Millennium" -- a poem in four books -- was published by him, also "A History of Irish Affairs, 1779 to 1782 " The "History of Irish Affairs" refers to the Ulster Volunteer movement of 1780. From "Poems, by Francis Dobbs, Esq.," Dublin, 1788, the following extracts are taken:--


On the Death of the Rev. JOHN DOBBS,

Who died at Lisburn, in Ireland, at the age of 22 years, the Author being then in England.

Ah me! what means that shriek of woe?
     From yonder oak, why screams the owl?
Why do these tears unbidden flow?
     And whence this anguish of the soul?

Too well this mournful seal declares,
     Some valu'd friend, for ever fled:
Some darling of my earliest years,
     Doth now lie mingl'd with the dead.

Oh! 'tis too much! art thou no more --
     Am I for ever robb'd of thee?
Must I in vain thy loss deplore?
     And ne'er again, my brother see?

My brother! oh too cold the name!
     Poor are the ties bf blood alone:
To join our hearts, sweet friendship came,
     And virtue, my affection won.

How oft, with transport did I view,
     Thy worth, expanding, with thy days:
Thy virtues with thy stature grew,
     And honor nurtur'd, all thy ways.

Benevolence adorn'd thy heart --
     Philanthropy, thy soul inspir'd:
Sincere thou wert, and knew not art,
     For no disguise, you e'er requir'd.

Ah! why! thus distant did I roam,
     When sickness lurk'd within thy frame?
Why absent, from my native home,
     When this, last fatal arrow, came.

Why was I not at hand to pour,
     The balm of friendship round thy head?
To watch by thee, the midnight hour,
     And sooth the pangs disease had bred.

Why was I not at hand to pay,
     The last sad duties of a friend?
To wait upon thy honor'd clay,
     And all its solemn rites attend.

Methinks, that I should less have griev'd,
     Had I, thy dying hand possess'd --
Had I, one last farewell receiv'd,
     And with a fond adieu been bless'd.

For oh! a thousand thoughts arise,
     That in thy life time dormant lay:
My language rude -- my tart replies --
     Now glare, in all the blaze of day.

Hear this, ye living brothers, hear!
     'Tis not enough that we approve.
Each word -- each gesture -- still should bear.
     The stamp of friendship, and of love.

Ah cruel death! could'st thou not find,
     Some hateful object for thy aim?
Some wretch abhorr'd -- whose tainted mind,
     Disgrac'd his kindred, and his name.

Is all that's lovely, most thy choice?
     Do'st thou the vicious longest save?
Do'st thou in human woe rejoice?
     Doth goodness hast'n to the grave.

But whither doth my frenzy stray?
     How dare I chide th' Almighty's deed?
Oh pardon! pardon what I say,
     And to my sorrows lend thy aid?

Reason proclaims, that God is just --
     That virtue's his peculiar care --
I bend submissive in the dust,
     And from my mournful theme forbear.

An ELEGY on the death of Lieutenant WILLIAM DOBBS.

The circumstances attending his loss, were I peculiarly honorable, and melancholy. He happened to be at Belfast, when Paul Jones in the Ranger Privateer appeared off the mouth of the harbour. The Drake sloop of war, was then at anchor in the bay, and her only Lieutenant was buried a few days before. Lieutenant DOBBS, whose ship was at Portsmouth, in this situation, thought it his duty to go on board the Drake, and in the engagement that followed, was mortally wounded, but the Drake being taken, and carried to France, his death was not known for some time after. He had been privately married only three days, when he voluntarily undertook this danger.

At length, thy mournful fate's disclos'd --
     No more can fancy life bestow.
To hope -- is certainty oppos'd --
     And expectation's lost in woe.

Too well thy naval pride was known --
     Thy love of glory, too -- too plain --
To let me think, the day was gone,
     And thou in safety, did'st remain.

Yet still I hop'd -- still fondly thought,
     My much lov'd friend, again to see.
Oft in idea, wert thou brought,
     Again to bless, thy home, and me.

Oft did my fancy, lead thee forth,
     'Midst crowds, whoso breasts with friendship glow'd;
Where ev'ry tongue proclaim'd thy worth --
     And ev'ry heart, with joy o'erflow'd.

Oft have I view'd thy rising days --
     Thy certain prospects of reward.
Blest with a grateful country's praise,
     And honour'd with thy king's regard.

Oft have I painted the dear scene,
     When I, my Will's return should greet --
When after separation's pain,
     I should again my brother meet.

Alas! no thronging crowds shall now,
     With loud applause, declare thee here --
Thy friends with heavy sorrow bow,
     And shed, the unavailing tear.

No more shall flow, the sparkling wine,
     Thy heart-felt welcome to declare
No more the transport shall be mine,
     Thy lov'd society to share.

Why would'st thou risk, a life so dear --
     And court those dangers, thou could'st shun?
No loss of honour thoud'st to fear
     No duty left, by thee undone.

How could'st thou leave a weeping bride --
     The dearest object of thy choice?
Scarce had thy nuptial knot been tied,
     When thou wert caught by glory's voice.

Oh where was then the God of love!
     When thus invaded was his sway?
Why not at hand, his power to prove,
     And banish glory, far away.

But thou art gone -- and all is o'er --
     And all that's of thee's but a name.
No earthly bliss, hath heav'n in store,
     But thou hast sacrifie'd to fame.

Hear this ye lining sons of war,
     Like him, belov'd -- if such there be! --
Oh! let not spirit urge too far,
     But live from needless dangers, free,

Do not, like him, all fear disdain --
     All thoughts but glory thus despise.
Hear not like him, a bride in vain,
     But learn, your safety more to prize.

What tho' no praise mankind bestow,
     You he not in a wat'ry grave:
But live t' enjoy, what's worth below --
     Nor friends, nor wife, to sorrow leave.

Oh thou dear youth! that thou wert here!
     Thus undistinguish'd, living now.
That I could raise thee from thy bier!
     And tear such laurels from thy brow.

Forbear -- forbear -- his shade exclaims!
     To wish that deed thou mourn'st undone.
Rather rejoice, at what proclaims,
     Immortal fame, and bright renown.

It is not life, merely to live --
     For length of time, to breathe unknown
This, to the vilest, fate may give --
     By merit only glory's won.

Short is the life of oldest age --
     Where worthless years unnotic'd fly,
Their days are long, in wisdom's page,
     Who live belov'd -- lamented die.

The inhabitants of Lisburn, where Lieutenant DOBBS was born, have erected a very beautiful Monument to his memory, on which is the following Epitaph, written by counsellor JOHN DUNN.

This marble is sacred to the memory
Of Lieutenant William Dobbs,
A Naval Officer.
Who terminated his career of virtue,
By an illustrious display of valour.
On board one of his Majesty's sloops of war;
Where endeavouring to snatch Victory from Fortune,
In opposition to superior force,
He fell a self-devoted victim to his country.
His body rests in that element,
On which Great-Britain has long rode triumphant,
By the exertions of men like him.
His afflicted townsmen
By strewing laurels over his empty monument,
Derive honour to them-selves,
They can add nothing to his fame.

He was born at Lisburn, on the 22nd day of September, 1746, and died of his wounds on board the Drake, the 26th of April, 1778.

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Jones, William Todd. (See notes, Article XIV.) -- In 1803, Dublin, was published the "Case of William Todd Jones, a prisoner in the County Gaol of Cork, upon a charge of High Treason." Dublin, 1792, "Letter to the Societies of United Irishmen of the Town of Belfast." Dublin, 1802, "Authentic Details of an Affair of Honour between William Todd Jones and Sir Richard Musgrave." Jones shot his man through the body.

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Hancock, Thomas, M.D. (See notes, Article XIV.) -- In 1844, London, was published by him a lengthy treatise entitled "The Principles of Peace, exemplified in the Conduct of the Society of Friends in Ireland during the Rebellion of 1798, with some preliminary and concluding observations."

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Cowan, Samuel Kennedy. -- POEMS. London, 1872; THE MURMUR OF THE SHELLS, etc. (short poems), Belfast, 1879; A BROKEN SILENCE AND SOME STRAY SONGS, Belfast and London, 1883; PLAY, a picture-book, verses by S. K. C, London, 1884; LAUREL LEAVES, Belfast, 1885; JEMIMA JENKINS AND OTHER JINGLES, Newry, 1892; ROSES AND RUE, Newry, 1894; VICTORIA THE GOOD, Newry, 1897.

Born at Lisburn, Co. Antrim, August 13, 1850. B.A., T.C.D., 1871; M.A., 1874. Is represented by two pieces in "Lyra Hibernica Sacra," at the time of whose publication he was living at Glenghana, Bangor, Co. Down. Contributed to "Kottabos," and is included in J. M. Dowry s "Book of Jousts." "Kottabos" was a celebrated literary magazine published, at intervals from Trinity College, Dublin.

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Major Cowan's mother was a sister of Mrs. Barbour, wife of William Barbour, Hilden, Lisburn, who died in 1875. He married in 1881 Miss Reilly, a niece of the late John D. Barbour, Hilden. Shortly after his marriage he went to reside at Drenta, Dunmurry. Since 1898 he has been living in Belgium and Holland. In Anahilt Parish Church are some fine brasses to the Cowan family.

In 1872 Major Cowan wrote his first lyric, which was set to music by Alfred Scott Gatty. It was entitled "The Old Sweet Story," and proved a great success. Acting on the composer's advice, he adopted literature as a profession, and has since written many and various works. His poems, set to music, number over a hundred: among the most popular being "Anchored," "Out on the Deep," "The Haven Aloft," "The Sentry," "One Love Alone," "Weather Permitting," and "Quaker Cousins" (set by James L. Molloy), "Just Because (Pinsuti), "Old Love-Letters" (Sir Arthur Sullivan), "Soldier Jack" (Theo. Bonheur), "My Darling's Dream" (Virginia Gabriel),. "Farewell, Dear Erin," specially composed for Madame Titiens, and sung by her at Queenstown on her departure for America; "The Song of the Irish Eight" (written for the winners of the Elcho Shield), and in July last "The Charge of the Ulster Division at Thiepval," He has also written many poems for recitation, which have become popular, notably "Becalmed," "In the Old Canteen," "Round the Bivouac Fire," and "Lame Jim." "On the Battlefield" was specially written for and recited by the late J. F. Warden, Theatre Royal, Belfast. For him he also composed an Ode on the death of Barry Sullivan, which was recited by Mr. Warden at the burial of the great actor in Glasnevin Cemetery and moved many of those present to tears. For a number of years he has been writing largely for several fine art house, including Messrs. Raphael Tuck & Sons, Eyre & Spottiswoode, Birn Brothers, and Hilderheimer & Faulkner, his average output of booklets, Christmas cards, birthday, wedding, and other cards being about 500 annually. He contributed pieces to "The Girl's Own Paper," "The Theatre Magazine," "The Sunday at Home," "The Book of Helen's Tower," "Garry's Elocutionist," "Poets at Play," "What to Read at Entertainments," Padrig Gregory's collection of Irish poems, etc, etc. His volume of parodies on Tennyson, entitled "Laurel Leaves," has been favourably received. His last volume was published in 1913, and is entitled From Ulster's Hills." It was produced by M'Caw, Stevenson & Orr, Limited, Belfast, and has had a wide circulation.

As a specimen of his work three pieces from his pen may be quoted:


There lies, unseen, before us
     A goal of Love and Glory,
          Whereto we journey day by day:
Singing, in solemn chorus,
     Life's never-ending story
          Of Rue and Roses on the way.

Whatever Time be weaving
     Out of the Rue and Roses --
          The bitter Rue, the Roses sweet --
Fare bravely on, believing
     A vien of gold reposes
          In every stone that wounds your feet!

Brook not Regrets, but brave them,
     And cherish Faith more dearly
          For every Hope whose light has fled:
'Tis by the tears that lave them
     Our eyes perceive more clearly
          The glory of the goal ahead!

Guiding -- consoling -- giving --
     Make every man your debtor,
          As you fare onward, day by day:
Life were not worth the living
     If someone were not better
          For having met you, on the way!


Coronation Day, 22nd June, 1911.

What is the Crown of England? Are its gems
Costlier than other Kingly diadems?
More precious stones -- or purer gold -- than they?
What is its wondrous worth, whereof the fame
Hath won, to-day, the whole vast world's acclaim?

What is the Crown of England? It is fraught
With vaster worth than wealth hath ever bought!
The gems, therein, are Loyalty and Love,
And Virtue is the virgin gold thereof!
Its precious stones are Light and Liberty,
And Truth and Justice are its jewelry!

This is its worth that wins the world's renown!
This is the wondrous wealth of England's Crown!
This is the Crown of England, that to-day
Girds our King's head, as with an aureole's ray!
This is the Crown of England, that doth now
Gleam? like a Glory, on our Monarch's brow,

And whispers: "Wake up, England, to the Light!
Lo! thro' mine Empire it is never Night:
Awake! the brave Sun -- somewhere -- never dies
Where the Old Flag of Merrie England flies!
Awake! Where Britain's Banner is unfurled,
Morning is always shining on the World!"


July 1st, 1916.

Was ever a Charge in the world like this?
Shall ever a son of Ulster miss
A fame that is wholly and solely his --
     A fame of sublimest splendour?
The lads who laughed in the face Death!
Above the roar of the cannon's breath
Singing their sacred shibboleth
     Of "The Boyne" and "No Surrender!"

Giant-strong, with the strength of Right --
Fired, by the soul of their sires, to fight --
What cared they for the foeman's might,
     Or how many cannons thundered?
Face to face with a hundred Huns,
Half-a-score of Ulster's sons
Silenced the thunder of the guns --
     Ten -- a match for a hundred!

Nought could stay them: nought them stop:
A thirst for blood to the last red drop,
Charging along on the topmost top
     Of the waves of Fire that bore them!
On, with a thirst that nought could quell,
Thro' a hurricane-shower of shot and shell,
To fight -- or fall, as their Fathers fell,
     In the doughty days before them!

Merrily -- every mother's son --
Laughing, as tho' they fought for fun,
With a song and a cheer they charged the Hun,
     Marring his Maker's image!
Chaffing, as tho' each shell might be
The whistle-call of a Referee!
And the bloodiest tussle in History
     Only -- a Football scrimmage!

Into the Hell of "No Man's Land,"
Thro' poisoned air, at their soul's command,
And a shrapnel-storm that none could stand,
     Charging, in wild derision.
Past Sentry Death, who, wondering, kept
His vigil there -- on, on they swept,
Where never a man could live -- except
     Ulster's Divine Division!

Flinging his fun in the face of Death --
Above the roar of the cannon's breath
Singing his sacred shibboleth
Of "The Boyne" and "No Surrender!"
Wherever a son of Ulster is,
Honour and Glory shall aye be his!
Was ever a fight in the world like this,
Or a charge of sublimer splendour?

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Further Extracts from the "Poets of Ireland" next week.

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 26 January 1917 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week through 1917. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

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