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The TALES you probably never heard about




[Welland Tribune, 2 April, 1897]

Dear uncle, as your birthday comes in sight
I feel a strong desire some lines to write.
And, first of all, I wish you health and peace;
From every care God grant you sweet release;
May, He whose love has guarded all your days
Still guide and keep you thorough life’s devious way.

Although the psalmist, with inspired pen,
Has bounded life with three score years and ten,
Yet God in grace has given you seven beside;
And still, we pray, He’ll let you long abide
To cheer us in this world of care and woe,
From which we all must soon or later go.

My fancy’s flight now takes me ‘cross the seas
To Mellguards, nestling ‘neath o’erspreading trees
Where long ago you played, an artless boy.
And found on Petterill’s banks unending joy;
To that dear home you turned your wandering feet,
In winter’s cold and summer’s fervent heat.

Nut Syke, Cross Hill and Southwaite in those days
Were sacred to your merry games and plays,
In Broughton Gill, o’er wooded banks you’d stray,
And while away full many a summer’s day,
Till all the fields and lanes and plantings round
Become familiar and enchanted ground.

Soon came the time when you must go to school
And learn to master many a tedious rule;
That pleasant walk to Hescott oft you took,
With satchel holding dinner, slate and book,
Till perseverance and steadfast will
Conveyed you safe up Learning’s rugged hill.

Methinks I see you crossing Southwaite bridge,
And then ascending, step by step, the ridge;
Past Moorhouse Hill and Tally Ho you wend,
And on to Lingey Moor and Barney Ling ascend;
The turnpike gained, you travel more at ease
Past Toll Bar and the jerry house, Cross Keys.

Ascending still, past Salutation Inn,
Where neighbors met to quaff their ale or gin;
The hoary church and churchyard next you pass
Where all your fathers sleep beneath the grass;
And ere you reach the White Ox tavern grand
The modest school house on your right will stand.

Though many years since you those ways have trod
And schoolmates all may sleep beneath the sod,
Yet memory oft brings up each lovely scene
And views the fields in ever-changing green;
In dreams you have tread the well-known paths once more
And feel life’s joyance as in days of yore.

The vale through which the winding Petterill flowed
Dear lovely vale, your childhood’s first abode,
Is bound to you by many sacred ties.
At every turn a thousand memories rise;
For though in this fair land for years to roam,
We still are exiles yearning for our home.

How grandly rose the peak of Barrock Fell,
O’erlooking river, brook and woodland dell,
And fertile holms of never-fading green,
With winding Petterill flowing fair between, (sweet)
While woods and fields and flowering hedgerows
In wildest beauty and profusion meet.

Our dear loved home, around which mountains
Our picturesque old county, Cumberland, (stand)
Dear land of river, lake and towering fell,
Shall ever in our inmost memories dwell;
And though we tread its smiling fields no more,
We aye shall love it as we did of yore.

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