Friday, 23 December 2016


Spectator December 18, 1915


        Far up in the Kanawha valley, in West Virginia, near Camp Platt, an advanced picket of 167th Ohio was surprised by Jennings’ guerilla band, during the Civil War in the United States, some fifty years ago, and, for a couple of hours the conflict was brisk. The guerillas had the advantage, for they were fighting on their native heath and knew every foot of the valley. More than one fellow on both sides answered his last roll call, and many were wounded, none very seriously. Like all guerilla warfare, the fight was sharp and quick. The Jennings band was outnumbered and hastily withdrew from the conflict, which was a source of satisfaction to the Federal soldiers. No prisoners were taken, as it was one of the rules of guerilla warfare not to be hampered with prisoners. It was a might fall, yet cold and chilly, and Christmas was close at hand. Only a few more days and the families would gather in the home churches and sing the songs of “Peace on Earth; good will to men”, while husbands and sons were engaged in bloody war on the field of battle. The night after the skirmish all seemed peaceful and quiet, and one would never think that within a mile from the Federal camp, but a few hours before, the Federals and Confederates had been engaged in deadly strife. And for what? The soldiers in either army had no ill will toward each other, nor indeed had they ever met except to wound and kill. “War is hell!” sure enough, as German Sherman said. In the Federal camp, numerous fires were burning, the moving forms which surrounded them rising upon the vision of the distant spectator like giant shadows. The rain, that dripped and drizzled clammily, evoked no complaint from the hardy soldier’s lips. He recited not of the sights that had met his eyes during the hours before on the battlefield that day, nor of the unburied braves that lay but a short distance from his present bivouac, stiffening in the rain. He and his bunk-mate, the kindly-hearted Jake, had built for refuge a temporary habitation, and the big fire that hissed in the storm was solid comfort to their stiffened limbs. Frequently you might hear a boisterous laugh, a song of more mirth than melody, and the sounds of a mouth-organ or fiddle – no Stradivarius by nay means – or, see, now and then, looming up fantastically, the brawny forms of Uncle Sam’s jovial boys, in a reckless stag dance around the fires.

          It was well toward evening when the picket guard got back into camp. As far as the eye could reach, the white tents were visible. As the sky grew heavy and lowering, suggestive of tempestuous weather, the boys began to collect material from the neighboring fields for the erection of shacks for shelter or warmth. It does not take long for the veteran soldier to build a hut if there is material anywhere within a mile of the camp. When in the enemy’s territory, might makes right. The moving of Burnam Wood toward Dunsinane may have been an astounding spectacle in Macbeth’s opinion; but if that bloody Thane had risen from his grave on that cold December night and paid a ghostly visit to the vicinity of Camp Platt, he would have gone back to Scotland with a weakened estimate of General Macduff’s stratagem. Hundreds of acres of land lay under good fence. The corn was still standing in the shock; the wheat in the stack ; the hay in the rick. See how they disappear from their respective places, as if by magic. The air is alive with huge piles of cornstalks, hay, straw, rails and lumber of every description – all moving toward camp. Company A is sure to have its share of the good things. Corporal Jake is a stalwart, and anything that is within reach is not a bit too good for him and his bunk mate. Each man has, with mutual ambition, appointed himself commander-in-chief to order and furnish a shack and a fire for his companions and himself. Some seize upon the great oaken logs which the West Virginia farmer has cut into shape for the splitting out of staves. With a “Yo-heave-ho!” and “Altogether!” these are rolled to the summit of the ridge, and soon the fire is frisking about them cheerfully. The rails are arranged into frames for shacks; and the straw, hay and fodder are carefully piled on top and around the sides, to exclude the wind and rain, or are nicely laid on the ground for beds.


          With such an array as this, no great length of time is required to desolate the landscape. The soldier regards himself as a privileged character, and his own comforts and enjoyments are above those of the planter. Wherever his footsteps tread, woe to that land – be it the property of friend or foe! Recklessness and daring have been the characteristics of the soldier in all climes, and from time immemorial, no matter what flag, be it the Union Jack or the Stars and Stripes. His food and raiment are of the coarsest – he lives virtually “from hand to Mouth” – and the country through which he passes must pay custom to him nolens volens. It is well when he is so far advanced in the courtesies of civilization as to decently respect the personality of the inhabitants of an occupied country. The larders and granaries must necessarily pay tribute, in the best and politest ages, to the scarred warrior, as the prompt supplying by the government of the needs of an immense body of men constantly on the march is impossible. He should consider himself a happy patriot who has furnished the weary soldier a shelter from the wintry blast – the hungry one a yellow-legged chicken from the roost for his evening meal.


          It was the night before Christmas. The loved ones in our Ohio home had not forgotten the absent ones. That afternoon the steamer Annie Laurie came puffing up the Kanawha river and her siren had shrieked out a warning to the boys that the boxes of which they had been notified were coming. Every company in the regiment was remembered. Talk about your Christmas dinners !! Never was there the prospect of such a feast ! The soldiers were so anxious to investigate the contents of the boxes that they could hardly wait to get them up from the landing to the camp. Just fancy, after months of feeding on sowbelly and hard tack, and baked beans, and tomorrow it would be turkey, chicken, roast beef, plum pudding, mince pie – what is the use of giving the list of good things when we tell you that those boxes came from home, sweet home, and our wives and mothers knew just what we would like best! My, it makes the mouth of this old Muser water even now to go back in memory to that Christmas of more than half a century ago. The boys did not wait for old Pap Fisher to beat up the reveille the next morning, for they had tumbled out of their bunks long before the sun had sent his bright and frosty rays down the valley. Breakfast was but little thought of for everyone wanted a sharp appetite to do justice to the Christmas feast that was in store for him. The company cooks did themselves proud that day in warming up the turkeys and the chicken and geese, and as the mothers and wives had sent word to the cooks that they had only partially cooked the beef, the big fat roasts got their finishing touches over the log fires, and were pronounced fit for a feast for the gods. Corp. Jake, being a college professor back in Ohio, the superintendent of a Sunday school and the leader of a Presbyterian choir, was considered the proper man to invoke the divine blessing on the feast set before us, which he did reverently, and also prayed for the Girls We Left Behind Us in the old Ohio homes, to which the entire company responded with a hearty amen! And then the good mothers and wives had another think coming when they packed those boxes, and they remembered the cigars, and boxes of them, so that the smoke from the fragrant weed arose as sweet incense around the camp fire that Christmas night.


          The mountain ranges along the valley of the Kanawha were mines of wealth in Cannel coal, and all that was necessary to get at it was to scrape the earth a foot or two on the side of the hill and get an abundance of black diamonds. The boys had provided a supply, and along the front of the company quarters great roaring fires gave us summer warmth. The boys from other companies tempted by the cheerful blaze that rose from our coal and log fires, flocked to our cosy quarters and threw themselves into comfortable positions. As we began to grow more cheerful after feast and the fragrance of the cigars, conversation and storytelling, interspersed with song, made happy the passing hours. There is no soldier in an army I presume who has not had some pleasing incident – a reminiscence of march, carnage, or camp fire – that a trifling suggestion will call forth. Almost everyone at our bivouac fire that night, enlivened the hour with an interesting anecdote or broad witticism, and I wish I could now remember even a tithe of them. It seems to me that they would be interesting to readers of Saturday Musings in these days of war when the whole world is one vast battlefield. The program opened with the United States national anthem. Of course, being an American army, what might you expect for a curtain raiser? This was followed by marching through Georgia. This put Corp. Jake in mind of a story about the time when our regiment was called to Cincinnati to defend that city from the raid of Kirby Smith’s army. “Didn’t you remember the day at Camp King?” said the corporal, “when we were ordered into line of battle because Captain Dan was scared by four women and a coach dog on St. John’s Hill, south of Cincinnati? He thought that the innocent crowd was the advance guard of Kirby Smith’s army swinging over the brow of the hill. Well, by jove, I never saw an officer brandish his sword more heroically than Captain Dan did on that occasion. It seemed to me he was so furious and looked so terrible that if the enemy had appeared they must have been appalled into surrender. His looks were a whole park of artillery.”

          A grave-looking corporal, who was leaning against a tree, and roasting his shins at the fire, seemed interested in the conversation. He said : “I am from the Eighty-First, the regiment adjoining yours. Your cheerful fire attracted me here, and Corp. Jake’s story has somewhat fascinated me. Captain Dan was probably green in military matters. Give the old man a chance. The first fight doesn’t always show the soldierly character. One of the greatest captains of all time was panic-stricken in his first battle – Frederick the Great, you know. Macaulay tells the story. I’ve been in a few fights myself before this civil war began – in Mexico with Taylor; on the border with Johnston; in Missouri and Arkansas with Fremont, and, before that, with the British army in the Crimea, and chanced often to notice the conduct of both raw recruits and veterans. Soldiers need to be tested, boys. Many a fellow I have seen hide away, or turn ghastly, and even faint in his first scrimmage, who afterward became one of the bravest men in the army, and would risk the shot and shell of the enemy to carry off a wounded comrade from the firing line. It isn’t always those who look the strongest and speak the loudest that prove the best in the end, as I’ve found out. I suppose you have noticed that a good many volunteers, who seemed to be the toughest, and were really tough in camp – great, hulking chaps, with biceps like a hickory wart, and always itching for a row – have played out before many days’ marching, and have gone into the ambulance or the hospital, especially if there is a prospect of a fight with the enemy, while timid-looking fellows – counterhoppers or boys from whom you expected nothing – have bronzed into health and cheerfulness, always ready to find their place on the firing line, and passed through the hard phases of a soldier’s life with courage.”


          “That’s gospel!” said the Orderly Sergeant Langstroth. “There’s that big lubber of Co. H. with a fist like a triphammer and a leg like a weaver’s beam. On our first day’s march, he was away head of the regiment, applauded for his sturdiness, and swaggering grandly; on the second day, he had dropped down to the middle, and dropped his swagger a bit; on the third, he was among the tail-enders, with still less swagger; on the fourth, he was lolling in the ambulance, his face wrinkled with the blues, and guyed unmercifully by his comrades afoot. A few days later, he disappeared. When we next saw him, Billy was trudging wearily along with a rail tied to his back, and the swagger gone altogether. Some disgusted officer had caught him wandering about, like a chronic shirk, without gun or knapsack, and had subjected him to the disgraceful penalty of the rail and the derision of the whole army. Lord knows where Bill is now. A deserter maybe.

          The oldest genius , and one of the bravest I ever saw,” said the strange corporal, “was a little fellow who was killed at the siege of Atlanta, with a ‘coon on his shoulder. That little chap came from a farm near Clinton, Illinois, and had carried a pet ‘coon all the way from home. Jim Farnworth was his name.  Jim was a small, pale boy, as thin as a sandpiper, and looked as if he might give out in a day’s march. But men of apparently twice his size and muscle shed their overcoats, blankets and baggage along the line of march, while Jim swung along bravely, always in his place in the regiment, and carrying every shred of a soldier’s equipage, besides his ‘coon. He was a most tenderhearted lad, too; would go out of his way if he saw an insect on the ground to avoid treading on it, and cried as easily as a baby if anything went wrong with his ‘coon. The boys indeed called him Baby Jim. But Baby Jim, I’ll tell you, was no slouch when tough work was at hand. He was generally at the fore then, first in mounting an escarpment and in planting a banner of the enemy’s works – that pet ‘coon always on his shoulder, seeming to enjoy his master’s excitement. Poor Jim! He died in the van in Atlanta, while bearing forward the flag which a wounded color-sergeant had dropped. The boys of the Twentieth Illinois, his regiment, had begun to love and worship him long before he fell in battle. He was no longer Baby Jim, but our Bully Little Corporal. The shot that killed Jim also killed the ‘coon.


                   THEN YOU’LL REMEMBER ME

          “Come dick,” said Corp. Jake, “let’s sing that dear old song of Balfe’s, from the Bohemian Girl.” The corporal and this old Muser some ‘on the singing when we were young, and many an hour was whiled away around the camp fire in the valley of the Kanawha. The songs of half a century ago were altogether different from the ragtime we hear nowadays; they were full of heart sentiment, with music that thrilled the soul. “Then,” said the corporal, “tell us the story of the young musician and his wife away up in Hamilton, Canada, where you spent your boyhood days.”

          When other lips and other hearts

             Their tales of love shall tell,

          In language whose excess imparts,

             The pow’r they feel so well,

          There may, perhaps, in such a scene

             Some recollection be,

          Of days that have as happy been,

             And you’ll remember me.

          When coldness of deceit shall slight

             The beauty now they prize,

          And deem it but a faded light

             Which beams within your eyes,

          When hollow hearts shall wear a mask,

             ‘Twill break your own to see.

          In such a moment I but ask,

              That you’ll remember me.

          “Now, Dick, for the story,” said Corp. Jake.


          Once before we have told in these Musings the story we told that Christmas night at the campfire in the Virginia mountains. As the great army of readers of the Spectator has increased since that time, it may not be amiss to give it again in connection with our reminiscences of the days in the long ago when we carried a musket in Uncle Sam’s army.

          “The memories of the song that Corporal Jake and I have just sung,” said the Muser, “recall the long ago when I was emerging into young manhood in dear old Hamilton, where I spent many happy years as an apprentice at the printing business and preparing for the life of work before me. The incident has long since been forgotten save by one here and there who lives in the past. A young musician and his child wife came across the sea to make their home in Canada, and Hamilton, with its small population of not more than 10,000 seemed to hold out a friendly hand to the young foreigners and decided them to go no further. Both were accomplished musicians, but he excelled on the violin and guitar. The way opened to them as teachers, and the future promised a prosperous and happy home in the town of their adoption. Never of a robust nature, the severe climate of their second winter in Hamilton was too much for the delicate child wife, who had been born and raised in a foreign sunny clime, and she gradually faded away. How they hoped and prayed for the warm summer months that would bring healing in balmy air to the suffering one! She had to give up her work of teaching, but her love of music was so great that even when her voice was too weak for song, she would take a seat at the piano and play over the airs of her favorite opera, The Bohemian Girl. In the summer twilight, when the din and bustle of outside life seemed to be hushed around their humble cottage, the neighbors could hear husband and wife playing, he on the violin and she softly the accompaniment on the piano or guitar, from the songs they loved. Rarely did one of those recitals end without one or more selections from The Bohemian Girl.


          Death came slowly, but surely and silently, to that little cottage home, and with the blossoming of the summer roses, the child wife passed to the life of perpetual sunshine, music and flowers. Out in the cemetery on the heights overlooking the beautiful bay of Hamilton, neighbors and friends gently laid away the mortal remains of his loved one, and the bereaved husband took up his sad life among the kind neighbors who had known and ministered to his child wife. The sounds of music from the lonely corner in the cemetery attracted the attention of passersby in the lone hours of the summer nights. That was a superstitious age, and the sweet strains of the arias from the Bohemian Girl as they came floating through the sift summer night sounded uncanny to the listeners. One night when the moon was shining brightly, a party of young folks plucked up courage to visit the graveyard, and, secreting themselves on the side of the hill, to learn from whence came the songs they too loved so well, saw the young musician approaching the grave of his child wife. As he seated himself on the mound, and for a moment bowed his head as if in prayer, he took from its case his violin and began to play the arias from the opera that his wife loved so well and that had comforted her in many a lonely hour during the closing months of her life. Her favorite was Then You’ll Remember Me, and after playing through a score of the other songs he ended his midnight serenade with that tender heart song.


          On almost every pleasant night during the summer months was the midnight serenade repeated, and always the same songs. No one broke in on his vigil, although he was never alone, for those who had learned the story, rarely missed the privilege of being present, unknown, however, to the bereaved musician. It would have been a sacrilege to intrude upon his solitude. The cottage home was broken up, for the musician was without relatives in Canada. With the approaching winter, his health began to fail, and before the blooming of the spring flowers, he was compelled to give up his scholars. Gradually his gentle life ebbed away, and early in the summer months, strangers bore his remains to the grave and laid them beside his angel wife. One night the small company of young who had first discovered the musician in his midnight reverie, went out to the cemetery and, reverently kneeling at the grave of the musician and his child wife, sang the selections from The Bohemian Girl which both loved so well. It was a solemn hour for those who took part in the service of song.”


          When the boys were weaving recollections of the past, and interspersing the program with songs, the clouds gathered for a storm, and the wind developed a gale. Tenting Tonight could not be omitted, after which, as by one common impulse, the company rose to their feet, uncovered their heads and reverently sang that song of all songs, Home, Sweet Home. It was long past the hour of midnight, and no company of men ever enjoyed such a Christmas. By this time, the storm became a fury, whirled great sparks and cinders from the fires in wild and wide confusion. Our combustible shacks caught the flying embers and burned with alarming ferocity. The whole landscape was a scene of exciting conflagration. It was as grand as a battle. Before the great blaze had died down, old Pap Fisher’s drum corps was beating the assembly, the orderly sergeant’s command, “Fall in!” echoed far and wide, and the boys were once more on their winding way. But few of the old boys are left to answer roll call at the annual reunion.

          Religion has somehow come to be looked upon as sentiment, a something that is weak and valuable for the aged, or in case of sickness or death, but not needful or suited for the young or a strong life. And there has too often come into religion a softness and effeminacy that may well fail to satisfy the mind of a thoughtful man, if indeed it does not offend him. Religion needs to become more practical, more heroic, and to be carried more into the great fields of thought and activity where the young men live. They must have something more than to turn over the experiences in meeting and talk about saving their souls. They may be well; but they want to feel that they are in the grasp pf a powerful truth and under the inspiration of lofty motives, and charged with the dignity of men, and sent forth to save the world from darkness and sin. They want to feel that religion is not an exceptional thing – a something apart from life. And upon the ministry of today there is a weight of responsibility. The pulpit must not let the young men pass from its power. It cannot hold them by mere commonplaces, or by issues long dead and passed from living thought. Young men must be met on the battlefield of today’s duty. And, O young men, you owe much to home, to a mother’s prayers and a father’s love; much to the church and to society. They have helped you to be what you are. Come a step further; to take your places in the line of battle against sin; against the influence of the saloon; take your places in the field where the harvesters are bending to the ripened grain; take your places at the altars where hymns are chanted and paryers are offered; take your places in the great work of humanity – bring all your thought, your morality, your strength, your love, your heroism, and help mankind in the work, help your sisters and your mothers fight intemperance; help God save the world. If you have strayed from the path of right during the year that is now closing, remember that there is hope for you if you will begin the new year with a sincere determination to open up a clean chapter in life’s history. There are many pitfalls in the pathway of a young man – the saloon, the gambling den, evil companions of both sexes – and it is only by constant watch that temptation can be overcome. God bless the youth of today, and may brightness and happiness be theirs this blessed Christmas season.

Friday, 9 December 2016


Saturday Musings

Spectator December 31, 1915

        A man who loves boys and can sympathize and forgive many of their shortcomings, told the Muser a bit of his own history. He was born on a farm almost within sound of St. Paul’s chimes, and spent the first twelve years of his life clod-hopping on the Flamboro hills. He had a loving mother and a father whose idea was to bring up his children in the fear and admonition of the Lord and to put them at work on the farm as soon as they were old enough to pick bugs from the potato vines, or other work that a great healthy boy of six or seven years ought to be able to do. He was really a kind father in his way, but having been brought up from childhood to hard work (and he never spared himself), he was determined that his boys should be educated in habits of industry, even if they wasted but little time in the country school house. Well, that boy stood it till he was about 14 years of age, and then he determined to paddle his own canoe, and get an education. He was a husky boy and could plow and harrow, plant and sow, and make an ordinary hand in the field. He was just such a boy as the average farmer wanted, because he could hire his services cheaply, and get lots of work out of him. In telling his story, he said a house, despite the grandeur of its architectural proportions, never necessarily constituted a home. There are more boys living in what to them are cages rather than a home. He could not complain of lack of comforts in his father’s home, nor was anything grudgingly withheld from him; but, after all, there was something, he could hardly define what, that was missing. Being a country boy,  his experience had been confined to country life, and now that he had become the father of a family he felt that the country boy was more to be pitied in his home surroundings than the boy brought up in a village or a city. He has but few recreations compared with the town boy, and there are always the odd jobs on the farm requiring his early and late attention. The country boy has his daily duties to perform, and woe be unto him if he ever forgets or neglects them. The cows have to be brought up from the pasture field at night and driven back in the morning; the gaps in the fences must be repaired; weeds must be kept down, the plants hoed; potato bugs must not be allowed to get away with the potato crop; the water must be pumped for the cattle and feed prepared for them. These are the regular routine work on the farm, but the odd jobs are numberless, and by the time that his daily tasks are ended, his wearied body is ready for bed, just about the hour that the town boy is going to singing school or to some place of recreation in which to spend the evening hours. The country boy is even too tired to read a chapter in Baxter`s Saint`s Rest, or some such volume as may be found in the family library.

There is a trite saying that  ``all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy`.`The town boy has his share of odd jobs to perform, but he has also many opportunities for recreation that come not within the reach of the country boy. The father of the country boy rises early and works late because he feels the necessity of making hay while the sun shines; and he argues, if he must do this to make a home for his family, why should not his boys do their part ? He must take advantage of the short Canadian summer to make and gather his harvest. He was born and raised on a farm, and he proudly boasts that there is not a more independent life. He is his own master and is surrounded with every comfort, and can snap his fingers at the tax collector, for he has always the money ready when the time comes to pay his share of running the local government. However, his every effort is expended to accomplish the maximum amount of work in the shortest possible time. The father of the country boy was born and raised on a farm and forgets his boyhood days, since they contained for him some things that were always not pleasant. He is a good man in every sense of the word, but general conditions and surroundings have had a tendency to narrow his views of that which goes to make a happy boy life. He sees the necessity of continued and strenuous effort to accomplish the tasks that he has learned so religiously to respect. “Make hay while the sun shines” was drilled into him in his boyhood days, and he naturally feels that his boy should be brought up in the same way, and do his share from the time he is able to crush a potato bag between two stones.

          A colt born in springtime is pampered and petted for a couple of years because there is money value in the colt. But there comes a time when the colt is broken to harness, and now he must his share in the farm work, or is sold for a good price. He is a silky-nosed colt no longer, just a plain horse. The country boy is a boy only until the time he is big enough to be of service, then, like the colt, he is harnessed up for work, and he is a boy no longer. He is allotted tasks that may not be too much for his strength but they take the boy out of him and have a tendency to make him old before his time. He passes from a stripling in short pants, with freckled legs to the gosling class in long trousers, and the chances are ten to one that the father never notices the transition stage till the boy develops into young manhood. The father does not realize that he is no longer a boy, and that he should have certain liberties and a stipulated allowance for his labor. The boy is modest in his demands and does not ask the same pay that a hired man would get, even though his labor is more profitable, for he feels an interest in his father’s prosperity; but he would like to have some regular amount that he could call his own, so that when the young people in the neighborhood are getting up a garden party or a Sunday school picnic or an excursion, he can pay his share of the expenses. This all he asks, and the father looks in wonder at his audacity. Has he not reared the boy from infancy, clothed and fed him, and now to think he would ask for pay! The day comes when there is an election, and the stripling of only yesterday has now arrived at man’s estate. He announces that he is going to take a half day off and go and vote with his dad. It comes as a shock to dad. The father thinks of him only as a boy yet. Every farmer boy likes to own his own horse and buggy, and when he makes the modest request, the father tells him that boys are incapable of handling a horse, and that when he gets older, he will think about it.

          Our friend to whom we are indebted for this chapter on country boys is now a well-to-do business man in Hamilton. He said, in closing : “I do not intend to cast unworthy reflections upon the father of the country boy, but to make him think that he has other responsibilities than merely raising a boy to the slavish work on the farm when he should be a boy and have a boy’s enjoyment of life. I left home at 14 because I saw no other chance of being anything but a farm hand without pay. I am now a man of 35 years and have a boy of my own. He is no sluggard, but is being trained to usefulness in life. He is getting an education to fit him for the place he may occupy in the world’s activities. I occasionalkly go back to the old Flamboro home and enjoy the day on the farm. My father is still inclined to look upon me as an inexperienced youngster . The farmer should have no work that cannot be paid for and if it is worth paying for, who should deserve pay more than his own son? I have made it a rule to pay my boy when I take him from his boy pleasures. It has taught him industrious habits, and a thrift in saving money, and whenever an opportunity offers to run an errand for someone else, where a penny can be earned, he drops his play to go. This is work with some object in view, and that object is a pleasant one.”

Make men of your boys, but do not lose sight of the fact that in making men of them, you must treat them as such. If this were done, fewer boys would leave the country for city life. Instead of our boys seeking the too-often uncertainties of a city life, they would remain on the farm and be independent. Educate your boys to be business farmers instead of making them slavish farmhands. Never forget that you were a boy yourself, and if you were deprived of the pleasures of boyhood, see to it that your boy has a happy youth at least.


          To brighten the lives with the romance of love, especially of the younger generation, may not be out of the way, now and then, for an old Muser. The stories and songs of other days are full of love and romance. Were the boys and girls of the last century different to those of the present day, or were they brought up in a simpler atmosphere and surrounded by simpler influences? This is a problem hard to solve. Well, at a venture, we will say that the boys of sixty and seventy years ago did not indulge in the cigarette habit, nor did the girls expose the upper part of their upper bodies to the vulgar gaxe in the street. One of those plain, outspoken preachers in a western town said to his congregation, in the course of his sermon, that “Eve in the Garden of Eden never discovered she was naked till she had eaten of the apple; and,” said he, “I wish the young ladies of my congregation would eat more apples.” There are a great many ways for accounting for things now and then. Old-timers will remember the serenaders that made sweet melody at the midnight hour in singing to their lady loves. Hamilton always had a reputation for its singers and its musicians, and this talent was cultivated  in the singing schools which the young people of both sexes attended. One could hear the songs of Stephen Foster, Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming; The Evening Bells by Beethoven; Balfe’s Then You’ll Remember Me; Moore’s Oft in the Stilly Night, and, as a farewell, Hatton’s Goodbye, Sweetheart, Goodbye. Indeed, the jolly singers even attempted that difficult but sweet melody, Shubert’s Serenade, written in the early years of the last century, by the gifted composer as a farewell to the girl he could only love in secret, for in those days it was the height of presumption for the humble composer and teacher, the son of a peasant, to aspire to the hand of his pupil, the daughter of a nobleman.


          If you love the classical in music, attend one of the many recitals at the Conservatory of Music, on James street south, and the chances are Shubert’s Serenade will have a prominent place on the program. If you have not read the history of that masterpiece of Shubert’s, we will give it to you in brief as we found it in a magazine. Captious critics have protested against the popularity of this familiar Serenade, and would even now at this late day., though it was written one hundred years ago, rob the divine author of this graceful little gem. While, the critics say, it is by no means certain that Shubert is actually the author of the Serenade, yet they unwillingly concede that the air reveals many traces of the style of the great composer. The story, as we find it, tells us that  the year 1816 witnessed the beginning of an episode in Shubert’s life, quite different in many respects from what had preceded. He was engaged by a Hungarian count to teach music to his family, two daughters and a son. Shubert’s intercourse with this amiable family was very pleasant, and in the course of it seems to have occurred the nearest approach to a love affair that can be detected in his life. Caroline, the second daughter of Count Esterhazy, was only eleven years of age when she became his pupil. But as time elapsed and she became seventeen or eighteen, it is supposed Shubert manifested symptoms of having fallen in loive with her. Caroline asked him, in a moment of girlish coquetery, why he was dedicating so many delightful works to other people, and he had never dedicated any to her. Shubert is said to have replied, “Why should I?”Is not all that I have done been dedicated to you? How could a man who was never in love have written that Serenade in which all that is beautiful and scared for the love of a woman not come like a breath from heaven? Never was the voice of love so passionate and so pure. He was the son of a peasant, she was the daughter of a count.


          But here is the story as it has been told by one who admired Shubert, and it is so interesting that it will read by the students at the Hamilton Conservatory who have so often played and sung the Serenade. Toward the palace of the great Count Easterhazy a young musician walked rapidly through the streets of Vienna one morning more than a hundred years ago. Little had he slept that night, and with the sun he was up, brushing away at his worn coat, and all the while wondering if it were true, or only a dream, that he, the unknown Franz Shubert, was to have a nobleman’s daughter for a pupil.

          Still, his beloved master, old Master Heizer, often had said that sme day he would become famous as a teacher. Now he was standing in the splendid hall of the palace and to him the Count was saying, “This is my daughter, Caroline.”

She stood before him, that great count’s daughter, a child in years, in innocence. Her ees – what mirrored purities they were! She looked and gently pitied as she looked. She smiled and touched such spark of love that it would glow in song, in other centuries in a world grown old.

Ah ! how he lived for but that lesson after that ! The week was all too long a time to wait. How when he guided her dainty hands over the keys his own hands would tremble. How dumb were words that lay within his heart! Did she understand that day when she said, “Master, speak to me through the keys?”

His souls spoke then. His heart leaped forth as he played ! Could she know? Did she understand?

That evening came a note from her/ “In three days we leave for Hungary to stay till autumn,” it said.

Ah, could he but find a way to give her the message in his heart which his lips refused to utter!

It was the night before she was to leave. The air was still and the moon rode in the high heaven. All the world lay in a shining veil. Love had led the master’s feet till he stood beneath her chamber window, his head bowed to the jeweled sky, in his eyes the purity of love supreme. It was spring, and spring’s spirit spoke through the silver silence of the night, into his mind and heart and soul it crept – ihto a life made magic by its call.

“Nightingales for me imploring,

   Sing in notes divine,’

 Ev’ry tone of sweet lamenting,

   Breaches a sigh of mine.”

So Shubert sang his Serenade, in that, the velvet night of love. So voiced he there, poor lover, the magic of his immortal plea.

Softly it ceased, he had come to the end measure,  that final sighof the most perfect music of love. The Serenade – whose soul-satisfying loveliness has thrilled the hearts of all who since have heard it. When next a recital is announced in the Hamilton Conservatory, if Shubert’s Serenade is in the program, be there to listen to it. If you have not the words, here they are :


Tho’ leaves the night winds moving,

   Murmur low and sweet;

To thy chamber window roving,

   Love hath led my feet.

Silent prayers of blissful feeling

   Link us, though apart,

On the breath of music stealing

   To thy dreaming heart.


Moonlight on the earth is sleeping,

   Winds are rustling low,

Where the darkling streams are creeping,

   Dearest let us go!


All the stars keep watch in heaven,

    While I sing to thee,

And the night for love was given,

   Dearest, come to me.


Sadly in the forest mourning,

   Wails the whippoorwill;

And the heart for thee is yearning,

   Hit it, love, be still.



Saturday, 17 September 2016


On the 9th day of April, 18165, when General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox court house, the civil war in the United States substantially ended, though General Tecumseh Sherman and General Joe Johnson, General Canby and General Taylor, kept firing away at each other for a fortnight afterward, not knowing when or how to quit. Those old warrior generals had been fighting so long that it became second nature to them. Strange to say that there never was any celebration of the greatest day in American history. General Grant told the Confederates to take their horses and all their equipments and go home and settle down peacefully. There was no general hurrah by the Federal army over the victory that had been obtained through four long years of bloody strife, and the men who carried the muskets were only too glad to hear the welcome order to get back to their homes in the north, to their families and their farms and their workshops. In the fifty years that have passed, the generations that have been born since their fathers and grandfathers fought to preserve the nation know little or nothing about the civil war save what they read in story or history. Little do they think that in that war more than in the war the northern army sacrificed 100,000 men and not less than $10,000,000,000 of treasure. According to official reports, 2,772, 304 men fought in the ranks of the Union army, and on the Confederate side, it is estimated that about 950,000 men were enrolled. The boys who answered their first roll call in 1861 laid down their arms in 1865 seasoned veterans. And, mind you, it was no picnic they had been enjoying during those four long years from the time they left home until their return. It was a fair and square, manly war between the north and the south, with no savage atrocities and no barbarous excesses like we now read of in the present war; no murdering of women and children and the sinking of unarmed vessels. The old soldiers are being mustered out at the rate of ninety-six every twenty-four hours, or at the rate of four every hour. The American government has dealt liberally with its soldiers in the matter of pensions; and when the men have answered the last roll call, their surviving wives are generously provided for, receiving $32 a month, and upward. In Canada, there are 2602 men and women on the pension rolls, drawing in the aggregate $520,820 a year. In Hamilton, there were fifty-nine pension vouchers certified to last March, one half being for women. The civil war began on the 12th of April, 1861, when the Confederates fired the first hostile shot on Fort Sumpter, and the actual close was May 26, 1865, by the surrender of the Confederate forces under General Kirby Smith – fifty years ago last Wednesday.


          Where General John A. Logan, of Illinois, the greatest volunteer soldier of the nineteenth century, was commander-in-chief of the grand army of the republic, he had a day set apart once a year for the decoration of the graves of departed comrades – the 29th day of May. That celebration will be observed in Hamilton. Of the sixty pensioners who are always prompt about having their vouchers signed on pension day, how many will be at the cemetery tomorrow to pay this mark of respect to the memory of comrades who have answered the last roll call. There are not less than three thousand American-born citizens living in Hamilton. The writer hopes that, although they may be living temporarily or permanently in Hamilton, they will spend an hour tomorrow afternoon in helping the small remnant of the grand army post decorate the graves of their departed comrades. The committee on decoration will be thankful for contributions of flowers, and they will be at the Royal Templars’ new hall, corner of Main and Walnut streets, on Sunday morning, to receive them. The members of the grand army and all who will take part with them in the decoration services are requested to meet at the same hall at half-past one o’clocj, to proceed from there to the cemetery.



These vernal days of spring almost take the life out one with their easy temperatures. But we are never satisfied, and if we had the ordering of seasons and the weather, we would make a sorry mess of it. The soldiers out in the Carpathian mountains, who are trying to kill each other, would gladly exchange their weather for a few days of Hamilton sunshine, budding trees and flowers, and for the velvet carpet of green grass in the Gore. God help the soldiers who are fighting the battles of the right. The Hamilton men in the trenches, in the lonely watches of the night, are thinking of home and the loved ones, and those with wives and children are looking forward to a time when the last shot will be fired and they will come marching home to take up the old life in the workshop. That picture brightens the soldier’s life in the trenches and on the firing line. Only those who have stood on the firing line or spent the long, weary night on the outpost as a picket guard can enter into the thoughts of a soldier. There never was such a war as this one, and let us hope that never again will there be another of its kind. It is barbaric murder. Those who are old enough to remember the Chinese stinkpots fired into the camps of opposing forces will realize the brutality of the Germans with their poisonous gases in the present war. There will come a day of reckoning. It is bad enough to kill men in a square, stand up fight, but to poison them with noxious gases is little short of deliberate murder. No one would have suspected that the German people could be guilty of such atrocities, for we know them only as good citizens, kind and affectionate parents, and the most generous neighbors. During the civil war in the United Staes we had a counterpart of the brutality of the Kaiser in the person of Captain Wertz, who was in command of Andersonville prison. He was a German with a commission in the Confederate army. There was no species of cruelty that he was not equal to. A creek ran through the stockade in which the union prisoners were confine, into which the filth of that prison camp was emptied, and this creek was the only water supply for the camp. Across this creek was a stream of cold water, but the filthy creek was made the deadline, beyond which the Union prisoners were not allowed to pass under penalty of being shot by the Confederate guard. Captain Wertz took so much enjoyment of this cruelty that he used to watch the prisoners trying to steal across the deadline, for the pleasure of seeing them shot down by the guard. Many a man crazed from thirst would make a dash for the clear water beyond, to be shot to death


The other day the son of one of these Andersonville prisoners called upon the writer in a business way, and he told of his father, who yet has nightmares of the horrors of Andersonville prison and Captain Wertz. He remembers the shooting down of the men whose only crime was getting a drink of clear water to quench their burning thirst. Driven to desperation, the prisoners united in a prayer meeting one day, looking only to their Heavenly Father for relief from the brutality of Captain Wertz. While they prayed, a stream of pure water burst forth far enough from the deadline for the men to get it without the danger of being shot down by the sentries, and the last we heard of it, that spring was still flowing through the farm that was formerly Andersonville prison, and it is called the Miracle spring. The Buffalo veteran referred to in this paragraph has a picture of the old prison camp hanging prominently in his business office, with the Miracle spring designated.


By the stroke of his pen, the czar of Russia wiped out over $90,000,000 revenues that his government was realizing annually from a monopoly in the manufacture and sale of vodka., the favorite intoxicating drink of the Russians. The world laughed at what it deemed the folly of the czar in giving up so much revenue, and said it would be of no avail as far as the suppression of the drink habit was concerned. Probably in no other country could such an illustration of one man power be given. Here in Canada and in the United States and in Great Britain spasmodic efforts are made to check drunkenness by law, but there is always a string to the legislation, that ends in failure. No so with the czar of Russia; when he determined to put a stop to the sale of vodka in his country, there was no string to his proclamation. The nobles as well as the humblest Russians were included, and for the first time in the history of prohibitory laws, the world has been taught a lesson that prohibition has a meaning, and that manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors can be prohibited. And the best of all is, the proof comes from representatives of other governments who are stationed in Russia.

John H. Snodgrass, consul-general of the United States, stationed in Russia, sends a detailed report of the operations of the new prohibitory law to his government, from which we gather a few very interesting facts. He says that the prohibiting of selling brandy in the government monopoly stores was introduced throughout the empire from the beginning of the war, and now has been in force for over six months. One of the Russian papers has made inquiries concerning the results of this measure, and has published some of the statistical data that was collected. The following list shows the consumption of vodka in the city of Moscow in 1914 compared with the preceding year; July, 412,056 gallons in 1913 and 150,121 gallons in 1914; September, 729,947 gallons in 1913 and 1,312 gallons in 1914. During the first three months, vodka could be obtained at the first-class restaurants for the consumption in the same, the selling of vodka in bottles being prohibited under a fine of $1,500.

It is observed in the manufactory districts that labor has become much more productive than when intoxicating liquors were sold. Formerly at the Moscow mills many of the workmen would not appear on Monday, and a number of those who did were unfit for duty in consequence of their Sunday excesses. This is no longer the case; both the quality and quantity of labor have improved. What a blessing it would be for Canada if this same condition existed.


Mr. Respectability, who believes in the rights of his manhood to take a drink when he wants it, and is opposed to any law that will deprive him of that privilege, take off your hat to the unfortunate drunkard you meet in the street, for he is a man after your own heart. He has been doing his share of paying taxes through the internal revenue and the saloon-keepers taxes, and has for years been asserting his manhood. Probably there was a time when he would drink a social glass or let it alone. He has got beyond that stage now, and his bleary eyes tell the story. Evidently the Good Lord cannot help him, but this great country of Canada can help him by doing what the czar of Russia has done.


Sunday, 26 June 2016


Back in the year 1884, a couple of enterprising fellows got up an advertising pamphlet for a few of the leading business houses of Hamilton, and to make it spicy and readable, they devoted a number of pages to historical sketches of men who had done things in Hamilton, and whose enterprise should be handed down to future generations. Unfortunately, these paper-covered histories find their way to the wastepaper basket and are lost forever, except the parties interested may file them away never to be seen again till house-cleaning time, when the good wife bundles them off to the ragman. This old Muser feels that he is doing some good to the future historians in preserving  the sketches of these ancient Hamiltonians by reproducing them in this Great Family Journal. Senator Sanford, the founder of the great establishment  that bears his name, spent his early boyhood in Hamilton, and was fortunate that he had as a foster father a man of Edward Jackson’s large and generous heart, for he had not only the advantages of a good public school education, but when he was ready to begin the active duties of life, he had the large bank account  of Mr. Jackson to back him up. That he proved himself worthy was evidenced by his successful business career. Beginning in a small way, he was no loiterer by the way, for when his journey in life was ended, he left a handsome fortune and a business that keeps on making fortunes for his successors. As a recreation from business cares, he took an interest in the politics of his country and in the benevolent and local enterprise of his home city, and that he gave with a free hand to the church and benevolences was well-known. The sketch is worthy of being read even though it was written and published more than thirty years ago.


          This house was established in June, 1851 by W. E. Sanford and Alexander McInnes, under the firm name of Sanford, McInnes and company, with a capital of $20,000, and the senior member of the firm by his indomitable push and perseverance showing the samples of the manufactures of the house in every nook and corner of the provinces, built up a manufacturing trade, Mr. McInnes, taking charge of the office and warehouse.  At the date of the establishment of this house, no industry was at such a low standard as the readymade clothing business. The question of style and finish was not even thought of, price only was considered. Overcoats at from $2.25 to $5, any price beyond this excluded the goods from the market. Suits made up cheaply as possible were alone saleable, style and finish being altogether out of the question, goods were made up without reference to shape or form. Mr. Sanford, by his travels, having thoroughly felt the public pulse throughout the country, the firm realized that the day had come for a sweeping revolution in this department of trade. The firm set about in good earnest to fill the bill; they engaged the services of a number of skillful artisans from the neighboring republic, and from that day forward, Mr. Sanford’s chief study was to keep thoroughly up with the American standard of readymade clothing, and the standard of this house was universally accepted as being second to none in the world.

The warehouse in which the firm commenced business was the center of the three buildings now occupied by W. E. Sanford and Co.; it had a frontage of 25 feet, three stories high, and running back half the length of the lot, with a small extension in the rear. This small store has given way to a building of the first rank, with a frontage of 75 feet and 140 feet deep, four stories high, provides a commodious basement under the entire building. The partnership expired by limitation to 1871, and Mr. McInnes retired and joined his brother in the wholesale dry goods trade.

Mr. Sanford then invested two of his employees with a small interest in the business, which was carried on under the name Sanford, Vail & Riddley. The same indomitable pluck and perseverance which had in so marked a degree been displayed in the past continued, the business rapidly growing the next five years when Mr. Riddley retired in 1875. The business was then carried on for some years as Sanford, Vail & Co. Thus far we have given but a brief sketch of the business career of one of the most successful enterprises in the Dominion.

Whenin lies the secret of success? We shall see. As a good captain who is thoroughly skilled in navigation steers his shape safely past the shoals and rocks into port, so we shall find upon investigating the inner works going into the cabin as it were – that the man in command had mastered all difficulties and earned success as much as Wellington did in the field of Waterloo: read the rest of the story as see if the humble editors are correct. The chief of this great establishment, Mr. W. E. Sanford, being one of the men who, with a handful of others, have made Hamilton the thriving center of trade it is, the story of his life, briefly told, will be interesting. His birthplace was New York City; his father was an American and his mother English. But as both died during his childhood, the greater part of his early life was spent with his adopted father, the late Edward Jackson, who is mentioned in the historical sketch of Hamilton as one of the first men who opened business here.

As 16 years of age, young Sanford found employment in a wholesale publishing and stationery house in New York City, and now we shall shortly see the man in the boy as the old proverb has it. He continued in this house until his 21st year, and was to have an interest in the firm. Owing to the death of the senior member of the firm, and the consequent readjustment of the business, Mr. Sanford was thrown out. True worth finds its level, and the young Sanford’s abilities and talent as a commercial traveler were recognized by a rival house, and he was urged to make an engagement with them at a salary of $3,000 a year, which at the day was a figure seldom reached by the best men even in that city of large salaries. Young Sanford, however, feeling sore over his disappointment in not having secured an interest in the business of his late employers, thanked the gentleman who made him the generous offer, but declined, with the remark, “I am determined never again to accept a position of clerk in any firm.’ How doggedly he kept his resolution, the following lines will show. A week afterwards we find him in London, Canada, having entered the foundry business under the name of Anderson, Sanford & Co. Eighteen months later, Mr. Sanford withdrew from this firm and entered the wool business. In two years’ time, we find him in complete control of the wool market of the country, and generally known under the sobriquet of “the Wool King of Canada.”

Mr. Sanford, in connection with some gentlemen in New York, at this period, made the first shipment of 29 carloads of Canadian butter to the gold mines of Fraser river, British Columbia, which at this first were in full operation.

A few months later, Mr. Sanford entered on the business, where for 22 years he so successfully carried on in the spot where the elegant warehouse now stands. The history of such men comprises the history of a town. The growth of such a man’s business is the growth of the city. From a small beginning, with the first year’s sales of $32,000, this great house had grown until its sales for several years reached nearly a million a year. It employed nearly 2,000 people in the manufacture of clothing. , without doubt the largest and leading house in that branch of trade in the Dominion, and unquestionably almost, if not quite doubled the business of any other house in Canada. One has only to gaze through their vast warehouse to see the piles of manufactured and unmanufactured clothing, together with their system of working, to see the method, almost like music, by which every department works under its proper head, to be convinced of its magnitude. The whole establishment is a model of order. The office and staff, the Canadian and foreign buyers, the warehouses, the shipping room, the manufacturing department, the retailing room, the buttonhole department, are all worked under proper heads, who employ and discharge all help.

One of the advantages of the firm was the system adopted, in the early stages of its career, of employing a large number of German tailors. These men took the work by lots of 19 to 30 hands. Each man having some part of the work to perform secured to the firm a uniformity of style and finish impossible in any other system. The Canadian government felt the want of having their military goods manufactured in a uniform manner. Now, it is patent that no firm in the country are in a position to handle this trade anything near on an equality with Sanford and company.

An interesting fact in the cutting room was the cost of these curious cutting machines, amounting to $1,000 each, which, with their surplus arms, are capable, in the hands of an expert, of being run in any direction; of these, Mr. Sanford had two in constant operation. One of the troublesome bits of labor on the part of cutters by the old hand shears is the cutting of notches in the cloth at certain points for the guidance of the tailor. An ingenious inventor had provided a notcher about the size of an old-fashioned candlestick to do this work, but carefully made his fortune by fixing its price high – at 50 cents each. Mr. Sanford’s establishment was, of course, fully equipped with all that mechanical art can supply. In the matter of buttons, a machine button is used, which is stronger than any thread could attach, and placed on garments with the speed of the ticking of a clock.

As an example of the perfect working of this system, Mr. Sanford himself pointed to a young girl in charge of the cash desk of the work room, saying: “There is a young lady who has amounts from 70 cents to thousands of dollars a day in paying out wages, and while she has handled from $150,000 to $200,000, never yet has she made a mistake of a penny.” The precision and regularity is so uniform in every department that no losses are incurred. The goods are entered in the workroom, and all work going out is charged to the parties who handle it; then the receiving department is chargeable until the work is paid for, and if the goods are not in the proper department they must show up in the sales, so that there is no possibility of loss. Every garment, from the time it is cut is followed until it is shipped to the customer, so that when 500 garments have been cut, there must have been 500 in stock or else the sales must account for them.

A very large proportion of Hamilton industries have been born and nursed by a few leading pubic-spirited citizens. Mr. Sanford, with the few in the front rank, took an active part in the boards of insurance, banks and educational institutions, until quite recently but found his own business growing so rapidly and demanding his entire time, and was obliged to withdraw and devote his whole energies to the huge concern he has so successfully created.

The great work of establishing the trade of the house was mainly done by Mr. Sanford himself, who pushed his trade from the east to the west. Mr. Sanford was the first commercial representative to visit the Red River country in the days of Riel, and in the early days of confederation, when a Canadian was received with the greatest coldness in the Maritime provinces. Mr. Sanford was foremost in pushing his business in that section. At the request of the Great Western railway, he went to British Columbia when it wa received into confederation and arranged for the shipment of freight through in bond; and hs early, energetic efforts being ably followed up by competent representatives, the great increase of business in these later years is the natural result of his in dominatable energy in that province. The firm now employs an army of commercial travelers, who periodically push their weat throughout the length and breadth of our great Dominion, visiting every one of its thousands of villages, towns and cities in British North America.

A few more words and we have done. This great institution, the structure raised by the vigorous and prudent push and enterprise of W. E. Sanford himself, is itself the greatest tribute and testimony to his genius, and while working himself, he abled in making others successful. While his talents were developed by his own efforts, others caught the fire. Some very bright men occupying eminent positions are not ashamed to say they have been in Mr. Sanford’s employ. One of the greatest railway men of this continent,  John Muir, general manager of the Northern Pacific railway, began life, as the first office boy in this establishment. The constant tribute to this city’s business in the distribution of salaries to the hundreds of employees of such a firm is not the least of the benefits Hamilton receives from the house.