Hence all vain thoughts and dreams of earthly joy,
While tears of sympathy profusely flow:
In mournful strains my Harp I will employ,
In musing o'er a Shipwreck Tale of woe;
For never since the burning of Old Troy,
Did company more sudden terror know,
Than those who in the Comet steam boat sail'd,
Where on that fatal night had mirth prevail'd
Twas midnight hour, the steamboat Ayr that gave
A death-stroke to the Comet, fled away;
Shrieks of despair; and piteous cries to save,
That pierc'd the rocks as Echo seems to say,
Touch'd not the stony hearts; two sailors brave
Had shown that hearts of human mould had they
In Deaths dread whirlpool the Comet's left,
Where ants people are of Hope bereft.
Confusion miserable, next ensues,
The yawl is crowded, ere it is unbound;
No ready hand its bridling to unloose,
No knife to cute the cords at once is found -
The Captain calls, the engine's power to use,
To run the steamboat (ere it fill) aground-
The sinking prow shows dire destruction nigh!
Terrific shrieks of anguish rend the sky
Then down, head foremost, sinks th'ill-fated Boat,
With all its Crew and Passengers! the Brave,
The Fair, the Old and Young one common lot,
They find, an undistinguish'd watery grave;
Save, here and there some to the surface float,
And gasp for breath, some strive their lives to save,
By-catching at the yawl, that was upset,
When/ only four a sanctuary get.
While seventy Human Beings sink in death;
Still some to fragments of the luggage cling,
And hear with gurgling noise the last sad breath
Of drowning Swimmers-Death is yet on wing,
Still sinking now and then the waves beneath,
One more is conquered by the ghastly king-
Some struggle yet for life-Will help appear?
Did none th' appalling shrieks of terror hear?
Yes, (the Destroyer hastily had fled
Far off, to warm Humanity untrue.)
Two Dames in Gourock while they lay in bed,
Heard, started up, and cloaks around them threw:
By tender sympathetic Feelings led,
With eager speed they through the village flew,
And rous'd the sleepers in the dead of night,
Then to the beach they swiftly bent their flight.
And these with more than female strength, impell'd
By Pity, soon they launch'd the Fishers' boats;
And while the oars, for pushing off, they held.
The men came running with unbutton'd coats ;
As by the breeze the waves had ruttier swell'd,
They unequivocally gave their votes,
That the two clever kisses who had lent
Such aid, to wait on shore must be content.
When many little boats are quickly mann'd,
With the sweet hope of saving human lives,
All Gourock's in alarm, and from the strand
Men launch more boats, assisted by their wives:
Our damsels indefatigable plann'd,
To walk the shore-their generous purpose thrives-
A weary sailor swam towards the beach.
But overspent, the land he could not reach.
The worthy Lasses, blessings on their head,
Rush in breast high! and seize him by the arms.
And lead him to the village, where a bed
And choice refreshments soothe his mind's alarms-
Some boats arrive, more rescued sufferers led
T' experience Hospitality's pure charms,
Give more intelligence of the extent
Of loss in this calamitous event.
Here are four men, who seiz'd upon the yawl,
When they were struggling Death and Life between-
Here's one who strives to walk, but gets a fall,
And here's a tender Girl of raw sixteen,
Supported by a pole, who doff'd her shawl,
When full of water; like a sail was seen
Her upper garment which had partly caught
The wind, and save[sic] ashore the damsel brought.
A dog sagacious in her company,
Had given a strange assistance to the wind,
By pushing 'gainst the pole; in swimming he
Increas'd her speed, and when ashore, we find,
He followed her, and glad appeared to be,
To see 'her housed-to stay he was inclined;
But ere his faithful services were known,
He to the street unwittingly was thrown.
Here's a despairing Mother, who was borne
Upon the waves, supported by a box,
But the strong surge has from her bosom torn
Her Infant-now she tears dishevell'd locks;
She ever and anon begins to mourn,
For ev ry [sic] child she sees her judgment shocks.
Oftimes, alas! in mange distraction wild
From pitying strangers she demands her child.
There's none among the sav'd so recollective.
As Sutherland. the Carpenter, the Bold,
The Hardy Sutherland, who still reflective
From long experience, could not quit his hold
Of life without an effort. thus effective
Were his endeavours, gratefully he told.
That twice in Shipwreck 'he was sav'd before.
While many perished, he came safe ashore.
But mid these life-preserving efforts, where
Has gone the fell Destroyer, that gave rise
To this calamity-the Steam-boat Ayr
With little hurt in Greenock harbour lies-
Strange as the tale may seem, it was the care,
Of some who heard Death's agonizing cries,
That none should strive, to lessen all this harm:
They for assistance would not give the alarm.
Some hearts are made of adamant, some tongues
Are like to wither'd leaves, and this I'll prove,
They stir as winds of interest blow, the wrongs
Of fellow mortals cannot make them move-
To Honour's doings candour still belongs.
To manly Courage kind-affection'd love-
But from the Steam-boat Ayr the word has gone,
'The Comet's lost, and people sav'd are none.'
But soon we'll hear, what Sutherland declares.
The Carpenter who sav'd his life by swimming,
Free from Duplicity's degrading snares,
He tells the tale of honest worth beseeming-
Say, could ye think, when suffering Anguish spares
Remarks on those, of 'many still dreaming,
That Isom the bottom of the sea we've known,
True Witnesses conic forth, as will be shown?
Where Sutherland refresh'd in Gourock lay,
Enquirers came, to give the man a hearing:
Quo he, when we sail'd forth from Rothsay Bay,
As we by moonlight pleasantly were steering,
The Youngsters call'd the Pipers up to play,
And some danc'd merrily, till we were bearing
Close on the Clough; the moon began to sink,
And some went down to sleep, and some to drink.
Some sat in little parties on the deck,
Conversing on their various affairs
Grave Men, to keep young Levity in check,
Commended quietness mid our Earthly cares;
And some, apparently the circumspect,
Walk'd singly fore and aft, and some in pairs,
But all seem'd, more or less, in spirits high,
As we our destin'd port were drawing nigh.
When lo! a Steam-boat was descried a-head,
Advancing swiftly straight against our tack,
Then helm a starboard, hoping to proceed,
We call'd aloud, and bade them keep aback;
The Steam-boat Ayr came on with wicked speed
Anti stav'd our starboard bow with thundering crack,
And on our larboard paddle box swung round.
An Ark of safety then we might have found.
Then instantly the fatal word was given,
'Set on the engine' : in the Steam-boat Ayr.
Our boat began to sink, the cries to Heaven
Asended from the People in despair!
1 never shall forget them while I'm living,
Their dreadfulness no tongue can e'er declare:
The Steam-boat Ayr lay near, their latest breath
Implored them, to avert their present death.
Alas! twas all in vain-but when I saw
Our vessel sinking at the shatter'd bow,
And heard the deafening cries with shuddering awe,
Half-strpt,[sic] myself into the waves I threw;
The Stem-boat Ayr was hastening to withdraw:
I called on them to save me-well I knew,
They heard my voice, indifferent they lay by,
When sunk our vessel and its company.
A rare assemblage sunk to watery graves,
While to assist them was not in my power-
Now, solitary left upon the waves,
I swam, I knew not where, for half an hour;
Yet fresh Remembrance on my heart engraves.
The goodness of that company, the flower
Of variousbranches of Society.
Adorn'd that interesting Company.
Sweet were the Children, who lay fast asleep-
Fine Gentlemen of worth and sense were there:
I saw them all descending to the deep,
With Ladies young and beautiful and fair-
Again.' must assert, that I will keep
In mind their shrieks, that rent the midnight air-
Their hearts are made of adamantine stone,
Who in the Steam-boat Ayr stood looking on.
At last a light upon the shore I spied.
And thitherward I bent my watery course,
Although benumb'd with cold, and weak, I tried,
To find my way, my strokes had little force;
And when I reach'd the shore, I would have died,
But for your generous aid, to me the source
Of gratitude and wonder, and humility,
I'll neter forget our Gourock folk's gentility.
Thus ended Sutherland-Maclellan next
Resumed the tale of that distressful night :
Quoth he, whene'er I saw our doom was fixt,
And people running aft in wild affright,
All ranks, o'erpower'd with terror, intermix'd,
And for assistance call'd. in woeful plight!
I, much dismayed, ascended by a rope,
To look for safety at the funnel's top.
The little yawl while crowds in terror seek,
I heard their groans, and wailings of despair:
The sprightly Captain Sutherland, still meek;
Was talking with his peerless Lady there.
The bow began to sink, the fearful shriek
I heard, will ring for ever in my ear;
This Lady's exclamation mov'd me most,
'My God, my God, she's sinking-we are lost! '
I shudder'd in my station up aloft,
As down she sunk, amid their cries, so dreadful,
That in mine ear they're yet repeated oft,
But most when I'm asleep, for ever heedful
Of that fine Company, when Slumber soft
Would seal mine eyes, although of rest I'm needful,
I'd rather any chance amusement try,
Than sleep, to hear the loud heart-rending cry.
Though with our Steam-boat sinking down I went,
I to the surface instantly arose,
And struck on something, there afloat, that sent
Me down again-I thought my life would close-
I rose once more - even then had aid been lent,
So, many would not their existence lose ;
Surrounded by the Passengers and Crew,
I found myself, their number not a few.
Some clung to boxes, trunks or one another-
Dire was the struggle-soon the crowd grew less-
I saw a youthful Lady and her Brother
In the deep agonies of Death's distress,
And Children grasping hard their drowning, Mother,
While many sank, in clustering crowds I guess:
I swam away, at first, I knew not whither,
Till turning with the wind, I thus came thither,
But my sensations I can never tell,
When the sweet Music of the Human Voice
I heard around, while those who us'd me well
Made me amid calamity rejoice-
I'll pray with fervour, while on earth I dwell,
That Gourock's People may have blessings choice-
May success all their eoterprizes crown,
And brisk Prosperity exalt their town.
END OF CANTO FIRST.
The day begins to dawn, the frith is clad
With boats, in all directions, trawling slow ;
While, now and then, another of the dead
Is lifted up-the northern breezes blow-
The noisy waves rush in, and then recede.
See corpses near the shore, a sight of woe:
Unwasted are their Countenances bright,
To take them hence, the gathering crowds unite-
To Gourock Church in decent order borne,
They're laid upon the seats, as if asleep-
Their number still increases, till, next morn
Their grieving Friends come there, to wail and weep-
Here lies a Wife, from tried Affection torn-
Alas! her Children yet ore in the deep:
With speechless agony, their Sire, bereav'd
Of Earthly joys, the doleful tale receiv'd.
The objects of his cares for many years.
Snatch'd from his view, have left him, to despond
In solitary sadness-it appears,
That of his children he was always fond
Now, melancholy, through this vale of tears,
He looks its dire calamities beyond.
And thinks, amid immeasurable grief,
The World's enjoyments ne'er can give relief.
A host of Mourners are assembled here-
A Mother fond deplores her lifeless Son;
A tender Sister mourns her Brother dear,
A new-made Widow weeps with piteous moan.
Spectators drop th' involuntary tear-
A lovely blooming Lass, in modest tone,
Bewails the promis'd Husband of her youth,
And tells his matchless worth and love of Truth.
Two handsome Brides are laid among the dead;
Their disappointed Bridegrooms mingle tears-
Mute are the tongues whose cheerful strains had shed
Joy through their hearts, and chas'd. the Lovers! fears:
Their hopes or warm Affection's joys have fled;
Alas; poor lads, they thought that many years.
Of happiness in life before them lay;
But now they droop, to cutting Grief a prey.
Here a young.Student, whose expanding mind.
A thirst for knowledge knew, the sight appals; '
He thitherward had sail'd, is hope to find
Bright Lore in Glasgow's academic Halls:
He, by his fond Relations, was design'd
A Teacher of Mankind-his fate recalls
To mind th' uncertainty of Earthly things,
And to the heart a striking lesson brings.
Beside him lies. his Sister fair and young,
Life's hue appears, to linger on her cheek,
She seems like one aseep the dead among,
With countenance expessive [sic], mild and meek-
So many lifeless Corpses in a throng
A serious warning to survivors speak:
More strikingly (than words can) they declare
Important truth, and show us what we are,
Here lies among the dead, the mortal part
Of one whose worth endear'd him to his friends;
John Herron was a man of friendly heart-
His eldest Son, it hopeful youth, attends,
And claims his Father-While his Mother smarts
Beneath this dire calamity, that rends
Her heart, a grieving Widow now she's left
With Children seven, and of their Sire bereft.
A lifeless -corpse, here lies th' accomplish'd Rollo,
Whose approbation flows from many a tongue;
He lov'd the paths of Rectitude to follow,
And to protect the poor from suffering wrong:
He could at once detect retentions hollow,
And vindicate the right by Reason strong;
He never us'd the quibbling points of Law,
The poor man's cash from scanty purse to draw.
Here lies the Piper of th' unlucky Boat,
Who tun'd his pipes on that eventful night,
Till he the thanks of all the youthful got.
As they danc'd briskly by the Moon's pale light;
Here lies a Lady, who was found afloat,
And had been brought ashore in life, but Fright,
Fatigue tad Cold had trench'd about her heart,
And made her spirit from its clay depart.
Here lies an aged Matron, who had been
Upon a visit to the western coast,
And had been gratified, to view the scene
Of early life (the country she had cross'd
That Oban, and Glenorchy lies between:)
But in returning She her life has lost:
Her Nephew lies beside her and a Lass
Who serv'd her long, and still respected was.
Here lies a hardy Sailor, who had oft,
Far o'er the Atlantic plow'd the watery way,
Who mid the storm had often gone aloft,
Drench'd with the rain, the sleet or flying spray:
He at the timid Landsmen oft had scoff'd,
Even in the face of threat'ning Danger gay;
Though he had weather'd many a stormy blast,
Near shore, though calm the sky, he's drown'd at last.
A Father here by yearning Grief constrained,
In silence drops a tear beside his Son,
His mind, by many recollections pain'd;
Regrets the loss, of one who had begun
So hopefully, and had experience gain'd
In Traffic, which has many fortunes won-
So far to see his parents, he had come
From Inverness, but never reach'd their home.
The remainder is missing