Of ancient birth we sing of one,
A son of Jersey Isle,
Of Norman stock, a French Teuton,
A widow's only child.
Whate'er might be his natal name,
with accents French and sounds,
Soon Eli Beede here became
On English speaking grounds.
What tempted him, this stalwart son
To no base deed inclined,
To leave his mére, than better none,
An ocean wide behind?
T'was in his blood, this son of sires
Whom priests could not control,
But scorned their persecution fires
For freedom of the soul,
To feel the stir of instincts true,
Ingrained with grit and grace,
To fly beyond the ocean blue,
To find his trysting place:
Where larger life and freer air
'Mid wilds of wood and fen,
The hunting grounds for wolf and bear
Invited daring men.
So we'll forgive his escapade,
His French leave of his mére;
For French he was, in French he prayed,
And spoke French everywhere.
But why suppose he quit his home
Without a sigh or tear,
And left his mother all alone,
And had nor care, nor fear?
Nay, rather we'll believe him leal,
So loving, true and kind,
That years it took his heart to heal
For leaving her behind.
That visions filled his mental view,
Agleam 'neath shaggy brow,--
Of weal and wealth in lands then new
Untamed by axe and plow.
And that his frame on conscious strength
And mind of vigor too,
His will reluctant, forced at length,
This painful thing to do.
And so he left his island home,
Its vine-clad hills and vales,
And stole a passage all alone,
Far 'neath the ship's gunwales.
Behold him now in courage strong,
Immured by wood and wave,
'Mid hideous creaking waiting long
'Ere shouts from his dark cave!
The captain's stern and with'ring gaze,
Soon broke by oath and curse,
This stowaway had now to face
For better or for worse.
But when the captain met his eye,
So clear, so bright, so true,
He laid his angry feelings by,
To hear him parlez-vous.
To get his pay for tack and beef,
Salt as it could be brined,
Doled out each day this honest thief,
Engaged the captain's mind.
'Twas found ere long, the fingers grimed,
Were on no scapegrace hands,
But trained to work the most refined,
And nimbly at command.
For moth-holed hose, by English dames
Knit for colonial trade,
In boxes big to his hands came,
And good as new were made.
So thus he paid his passage 'oer,
And gained renown as well,
For then he landed on the shore,
His fame apace did swell.
"Tho' poor, yet rich, of heroes born,
Of blood the bluest blue,
A Huguenot in face and form,
Who anything could do!"
Tradition summoned to the stand,
Has diff'rent stories told,
One makes his ship at Boston land,
And one, at Portsmouth old.
It matters not; for urban life
For Eli had small charms,
His nature teemed with instincts rife,
For wilderness and farms.
He loved the woods, their whispering leaves,
Their solitude, their air;
He loved the carpets nature weaves,
He loved to stand on hill-top high
"And view the landscape o'er,"
As clouds chased 'neath the ambient sky,
And shadowed hill and moor.
The birds for him had sweeter tune
Than violin or fife,
Their love notes vibrant with the rune
Of reproductive life.
The arching sky alive with stars
On moonless nights and cold,
The northern lights dissolving bars
Athwart the heavens rolled,
The resting earth enrobed in snow,
White as a bridal gown,
Asleep beneath this nightly glow
O'er rural homes, and town.
Nowhere seemed do grand, so weird,
Nor thrilled his soulful gaze,
As in the country they appeared,
To awe, to charm, amaze.
The shiv'ry lonesomeness of night,
Mid spaces undefined,
Nor man nor beast, nor bird in sight,
In distances outlined,
Its solemn stillness magnified
By sounds unearthly, strange,
From distant woods or far hillside
Where beasts of prey might range,
Somehow appealed to Eli's sense
Of curious love of fear,
Diffused with thrills the more intense
Of courage, hope and cheer.
And so our lusty son of toil
Across the country strides,
And binds himself upon the soil
And some years there abides.
(A rumor floated down the years
Since Eli ceased to be,
Says his indenture paid arrears
For passage o'er the sea.)
His time expired, his calling learned,
He fears nor fate nor chance,
Assured that both to friends are turned
Well courted in advance.
He'll earn his wage by faithful work,
With scythe and hoe and spade,
His nervy hands no task shall shirk,
E'en tho' he's poorly paid.
Let pay be good, let pay be poor,
He'll eat no idle bread,
His work shall pay his living sure
Till he can get ahead.
And get ahead he surely did,
As such ones always will,
For Fortune makes her highest bid
For push and pluck and skill.
In Kingston, a New Hampshire town,
In parish second then,
Young Eli came to settle down
And take his place with men.
'Twas long ago, when George First reigned,
That bad and cruel king,
Long scores of years have waxed and waned
Since times of which we sing.
And yet the very house still stands,
A monument of yore,
Which Eli built on virgin lands
That crops and cattle bore.
'Twas here his savings acres bought,
Untilled and rough and new,
'Twas here he stones and brambles fought,
And here he forests slew.
Here blackened soil with ashes fed,
Where fires had raged and roared,
With beauty soon itself o'erspread
In growths of grain and sward.
The ditches dug, the stone walls laid,
The fences board and brush,
The stumps uptorn, the rock heaps made,
The fields with harvests flush,
Bore witness to uncertain work
With strong, courageous hands,
To well-planned tasks that nothing shirks,
That one's success withstands.
Thus Eli gained in lands and gold
As struggling years wore on,
And came at length ere he was old
Renowned for triumphs won.
The Eighteen farms, three towns record,
And left unto his hiers,
Came to his hands as just rewards
Of brains and brawn and prayers.
For Eli was a pious man,
Rare mixtures in him blent,
His strenuous life confluent ran
With prayers to heaven sent.
No Darwin then dared to teach
Man's anthropoidal birth,
Nor Moses' story impeach,
His Genesis of earth.
But Eli's Bible was inspired,
God guided every pen,
His trustful heart alone enquired,
What saith the Word to men?
Unlike his prototype of old,
He ruled his household well;
His children, all of noble mould,
Showed how good blood will tell.
His flocks and herds for which he cared,
That mutely trusted him,
His kindly eye watched how they fared,
And caught their every whim.
He had o'er these hypnotic power,
A Rarey in his day,
The wildest would before him cower
And own his magic sway.
Those ill or hurt his heart would touch;
For them he's fondly care,
And gained a skill in curing such
That in those days was rare.
We would not hide historic view
Of her who gave her life
To spin and weave, to bake and stew,
As Eli's loving wife.
Where first her charms sealed Eli's fate,
Her winsome face and smiles,
Her buxom form, her graceful gait,
Her innocence of wiles,
No chronicler will ever tell,
Nor do we care to know,
Suffice to say Mahitabel
Took Eli for her beau.
Now "Hittie" Sleeper was a prize,
The first girl born in town,
A cynosure in young men's eyes
The country up and down.
How Eli won her, there now,--well--
The same with wise and fools,
Each won the other by a spell
That aye defies all rules.
We proudly sing our closing lay,
Their nuptials were much blessed,
their offspring even to this day
Have many 'mong the best.
Written by Dr. Joshua Wm. Beede about 1890.
Born Fremont, N.H. in 1832
Physician in Auburn, Maine
Joshua-6, Phineas-5, Phineas-4, Phineas-3, Hazekiah-2, Eli-1