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Ballads of Old New York

Ballads of Old New York

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Published by Jesse Loge

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Published by: Jesse Loge on Oct 15, 2011
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07/13/2014

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AMONG the general officers in the American

•**

army at the beginning of the Revolution

none was of greater promise than Richard Mont-

gomery, whose noble bearing, winning manners,

and splendid bravery were extolled alike by friend

and foe. Montgomery had been but two years

married to Janet Livingston at the commence-

ment of hostilities, but he at once offered his ser-

vices and was placed in command of the ill-fated

expedition to Quebec. In a bitter winter campaign

with but a small force he captured Montreal and

conquered, to quote Edmund Burke, two-thirds

of Canada, only to fall, December 31, 1775, lead-

ing a desperate assault on Quebec.

In 1818 the general's remains were removed and

convoyed down the Hudson to be reinterred in

St. Paul's Chapel, New York, near the monument

that had been ordered in Paris by Benjamin Frank-

lin. As the funeral barge, floating slowly down the

[274]

Hudson to the booming of minute guns, passed

Montgomery's home near Rhinebeck, his widow,

looking upon the bier, fainted away in the stress

of what she afterward said was the proudest and

saddest moment of her Hfe.

19

[275]

MONTGOMERY'S RETURN

How black the barge of trailing pall

And nodding sable plume

That Hudson bears by mountain wall

And fields of golden bloom
A cloud upon the azure flow,
A shadow in the sun,

To drumhead roll and church-bell toll

And boom of minute gun!

By night the ruddy beacons flame

On crested Kaaterskill.

Great heart that beat for Love and Fame

Why liest thou so still?

How blithe and brave he left his hall

Beside the Hudson's wave!

He heard his struggling country's call,

His uttermost he gave.

He bade his bonny bride farewell;

In wastes of nor'land snow

He battled, conquered, failed, and fell-

Full twoscore years ago

[276]

They've wrapped him in a noble sheath,

The flag without a fleck;

They've borne him from the grave beneath

The walls of old Quebec.

The land he left in doubtful strife

Has triumphed, free and blest;

And him that died to give it life

His people bear to rest.

The bride he kissed a blooming lass

Is wrinkled, old, and gray;

She hears the drums; she sees him pass;

She droops and swoons away.

Loud boomed the bell of high St. Paul's

From out the hollow dome;

And thus below those ivied walls

Montgomery came home.

[277]

A DREAMER

Here lies a little boy who made believe;

Who found in sea and city, hill and star.

What wise men said were not; who loved to weave

Dream warp and woof more fair than things that

are.

He made believe that heavy toil and stress

Were only play, and sang the while he wrought;

He made believe that wealth and fame are less

Than faith and truth—that love cannot be bought;

That honor lives; that far beyond the goal

That lures our eyes, to nobler ports we steer;

That grief was meant to forge the living soul.

And death itself is not for men to fear.

At last he made believe his play was played;
A kindly Hand the darkening curtain drew.

So well he made believe he nearly made

The world believe his make-believes were true.

[278]

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