Scottish Poets in America
Sturoc, Hon. William Cant
general voice Sounds him for courtesy, behavior, language,
And every fair demeanor, an example ;
Titles of honor add not to his worth,
Who is himself an honor to his title.
William Cant Sturoc was born in the old town of Arbroath in the year 1822.
He was the twelfth child of a family of thirteen, and as his parents
circumstances in life were not of the best, it became necessary to put him
to work at a comparatively early age. His education therefore while not
altogether neglected, can truly be said to have been of a limited
description. During the short time however that he remained at school it is
interesting to note that he was credited with being a persistent, dogged,
unconquerable boy, with a sharp, inquisitive turn of mind, bold and
self-reliant, and a leader among his schoolmates. He learned the trade of a
wheel-wright with his father, but so determined was he during those early
years of his life to better his education and to push himself forward in the
world, that before he had reached the age of twenty he had read through and
studied as carefully as possible nearly all of the English classics. To-day
he can pause and look back with complacent satisfaction on the heroic and
laudable struggles of his youth, and he may feel proud of the fact that
apart from the honors which his merits have won for him in various fields,
he now stands prominently before the world as one of the finest specimens of
the self-made men of the present century. In 1846 he resolved to emigrate to
Canada. He arrived in Montreal in May of that year, and while supporting
himself during the succeeding four years by his trade, eagerly embraced
every opportunity that presented itself whereby he could add to the
knowledge which he had already acquired. He became a frequent contributor to
Canadian newspapers and magazines, and many of his articles written at this
date show that he possessed considerable literary ability, besides a sound
Canada however soon failed to please him. In 1850 he crossed over to the
United States and took up his abode in Sunapee, N. H. Here he became
acquainted with the late Hon. Edmund Burke, and by him was induced to
commence the study of law. Zealously applying himself to his new task he was
rewarded in 1855 by being admitted to practice as an attorney in the courts
of New Hampshire. Since that time he has made Sunapee his home, and while
attaining the highest degree of eminence in his profession, has also
acquired an honorable reputation as an orator, a poet and one of the ablest
statesmen in New Hampshire. By his gentle demeanor, his genial disposition
and his numerous acts of Christian kindness he has gained the respect and
the love of all classes. His home and surroundings are thus described in a
recent issue of the Granite Monthly Along the banks of Sugar River, on the
shore of the lake, and crowning surrounding hillsides cluster fifty or sixty
dwelling-houses, interspersed among which rise the spires of three church
edifices, the roofs of a hotel, post-office, five stores, school-house, and
the town hall. Some of the residences are elegant and commodious and compare
favorably with the same class of structures in larger villages. The oldest
and one of the best-looking dwelling-houses is the one owned by the Hon.
William Cant Sturoc, in the heart of the village. We found that gentleman at
home in his library, a man fifty-seven years of age, looking what he is, the
educated, hospitable, ardent Scotchman. The blood of Bruce and Wallace is in
his veins, the fire of Burns and Scott in his brain. Next to his adopted
country he loves Scotland, and he has often breathed that affection in
exquisite verse. It is a pleasure to hear him read Burns and other Scotch
poets. As a lawyer and politician, he has no little distinction. He was the
democratic candidate for State Senator in district number ten in 1876. His
proudest title, however, is that of the Bard of Sunapee. The following is
his well-known descriptive poem entitled
my muse! from rest of many a year,
Come forth again and sing, as oft of yore;
Now lead my steps to where the crags appear
In silent grandeur, by the rugged shore,
That skirts the margin of thy waters free,
Lake of my mountain home, loved Sunapee!
invocation! to the pregnant scene,
Where long ere yet the white mans foot did roam,
Strode wild and free the daring Algonquin;
And where, perchance the stately Metacom
Inspired his braves, with that poetic strain
Which cheerd the Wampanoags, but cheerd in vain.
mountain mirror! who can tell but thou
Hast borne the red man, in his light canoe
As fleetly on thy bosom as een now
Thou bearst the pale face oer thy waters blue;
And who can tell but natures children then
Were rich and happy as the mass of men?
Granite Katrine of this mountain land!
Oh jewel set amid a scene so fair!
Kearsage, Ascutney, rise on either hand,
While Grantham watches with a lovers care,
And our dark Ben to Croydon sends in glee,
A greeting oer thy silvery breast, Lake Sunapee!
upon a moonlit eve, to glide
Upon thy waters, twixt the mountains high
And gaze within thy azure crystal tide,
On trembling shadows of the earth and sky;
While all is silent, save when trusty oar
Awakes an echo from thy slumbering shore.
lake, I would commune with thee!
For in thy presence naught of ill is found;
That cares which wed the weary world to me,
May cease to harass with their carking round.
And I a while midst Natures grandeur stand,
On mount of rapture twixt the sea and land.
shall mortals holier ground espy,
From which to look where hope doth point and gaze,
Than from the spot that speaks a Diety,
In hoary accents of primeval praise?
And where shall man a purer altar find,
From which to worship the Almighty Mind ?
is curtained by as deep a veil
As shrouds the secrets which we may not reach;
And then, twere wisdom, when our quest doth fail,
To read the lessons which thou now
dost teach ;
And in thy face, on which we look to-day,
See hopes to cheer us on our onward way.
sweet lake ! and if perchance thy form
Laves less of earth than floods of Western fame;
Yet still we love thee, in the calm or storm,
And call thee ours
by many a kindly name.
No patriot heart but loves the scenes that come,
Oer memorys sea to breathe a tale of Home.
the winter in its frozen thrall
Binds up thy locks in braids of icy wreath,
Forget we not thy cherishd name to call,
In fitting shadow of the sleep of death!
But morn shall dawn upon our sleep, and we,
As thou in spring-time wake, sweet Sunapee!
Sturoc has been an ardent and successful wooer of the muses since his
earliest years. He has given to the world many excellent poems and lyrical
pieces, which have been awarded the highest praise from the press and
literary men in general, but his extreme modesty and unwillingness to
exhibit his talents in this respect before the public, has in a great
measure retarded his popularity as a poet, both in America and in Great
Britain. The little fugitive crumbs, he says, which I have cast
carelessly upon the waters have been received on both sides of the Atlantic
with more favor than they really deserve, yet, though owre the seas an far
awa, I always take a warm and hearty interest in all that concerns
Scotland. There is however, a notable difference between his early poems
and those of a more matured period of his life. Take for instance one cf his
pieces which appeared in the Glasgow Citizen
in 1845. begins,
is a winsome flower,
As ever bloomed in cot or ha,
An heaven forbid its dewy leaves,
Should ere untimely fade or fa, etc.
hardly a line in this production that is in any way worthy to stand beside
the beautiful lines which he gave to the world later on under the title of
Mary and which we herewith append. An American paper noticing this poem at
the time of its first publication very justly remarked that It stamped its
author, not only as a ripe scholar, but as possessing rare poetic gifts.
I saw a
vision in my boyish days,
So bright, so pure, that in my rapturd dreaming,
Its tints of emerald and its golden rays
Had more of heavenly than of earthly seeming;
The roseate valley and the sun-light mountain
Alike, enchanted as by wand of fairy,
Breathed out as from a high and holy fountain,
On flower and breeze, the lovely name of Mary.
youthful vision, time has not effaced,
But year by year the cherishd dream grew deeper,
And memorys hand, at midnight hour oft traced,
Once more, the faithful vision of the sleeper;
No chance or change could ever chase away
This idol thought, that oer my life would tarry,
And lead me, in the darkest hours, to say
My better angel is my hoped-for Mary.
was fix'da fact of fates recording
And swayed by magic all this single heart;
The strange decree disdained a novel wording,
And would not from my happy future part ;
As bright twas writ, as is the milky way
The bow of promise is a sky unstarry
That sheds its light and shone with purest ray
Through cloud and tempest round the name of Mar}-.
hymnd his Mary when her soul had passd
Away from earth, and all its sin and sorrow;
But mine has been the spirit that hath cast
A gleam of sunshine on each blessed morrow;
And crownd at last, this trusting heart hath been,
With fruits of faith, that nought on earth could vary,
For I have lived until my eyes have seen
The vision real, in the form of Mary.
feature of Mr. Sturocs poetry is the simplicity of language used by him. He
places his thoughts before us in a clear and concise style, and his words,
beautiful and appropriate in each instance, seem to flow as naturally from
him as do the streams and rills down the sides of the mountains and the
glens of his native land. Take the following song as a specimen of this:
gin the lanesome birds,
When winters snaws fa dreary, O.
Forget their canty summer hames
In woods and glens sae cheery, O.
But weel I
ken this heart'o mine,
Tho fortune gars me wander O,
Beats leal to ilka youthfu scene
An distance makes me fonder, O.
For in my
dreams, by day or nicht,
Tho wealth and beauty bind me O,
Im wafted far owre sea an land,
To friends I left behind me O,
I see ilk weel-kent face,
An hear sweet voices many O.
But dearest'still the smile and word
O charming, winsome Jenny O
all of our authors poetry we find an underlying reference and
unquestionable love for the land of his boyhood.
more to be wondered at when we take into consideration the fact that it is
now more than forty years since he left Scotland. Time however has in no way
changed her to him; and her history, traditions, scenery and people are ever
before his mind. In some cases his enthusiasm for the fatherland becomes
uncontrollable, and his muse bursts forth into patriotic strains as noble
and as grand as those which emanated from Henry Scott Riddell and others.
The following poem, for instance, written not very long since, will always
be accorded a prominent place in Scottish minstrelsy :
cold and bleak my native land,
Thoughjwintry are its looks,
The mountains towering, dim and grand,
Though ice-bound are its brooks;
Yet still my heart with fondest pride,
And deepest passions thrills,
As, gazing round tne,
far and wide,
I miss my native hills !
spreading prairies of the West
May field their richest store;
And other tongues may call them blest,
And chant their praises oer;
But I shall sing, in humble song, .
Of mountains, lochs and rills
The scenes my childhood dwelt among
My native Scottish hills.
land ! Oh cherished home,
Ive sailed across the sea,
And, though my wandering steps may roam,
My heart still turns to thee!
My thoughts and dreams are sweet and bright
With dew which loves distills;
While every gleam of golden light
Falls on the Scottish hills.
my mortal race is run,
And earths vain dreams are oer,
And, far beyond the setting sun,
I see the other shore
Oh, may my resting place be found
Secure from all lifes ills,
Some cheerful spot of hallowd ground
Among the Scottish hills.
religious sentiment, well worthy of note, also pervades many of Mr. Sturocs
musings. However much his public career may have brought him in contact with
the world there is no misdoubting the Christianity of the heart that can
So what we
have of gifts and graces given,
Are only lent us for lifes little day;
Nor shall we do the high behest of heaven
If gifts are hidden, or be cast away;
And whom the hand of.destiny hath sealed,
As seer and singer for his fellows all,
Tis his to scatter oer earths fertile field '
The seeds that drop at inspirations call'
* ' * * *
me sing! O. worldlings, let me sing!
Mayhap my warblings with their notes of-cheer
Will heal some heart that cherishes, a sting
Or wake the hopeless from their sleep of fear!
And thus I give what first to me is given; .
My heart still grasping at the good and true,
And trust the rest to high and holy heaven,
Which measures doing by the power to do.
The Manchester Daily Mirror
and American, in an article describing our author
says: He has many of the elements of the genuine orator. He is one of the
best debaters in the legislaturebetter than a majority in Congress whose
names appear daily in the papers during the sessions of that body. He is
deliberate in utterance, makes himself heard by all the house, and speaks
with earnestness and to the point. In July, 1867, he received from Dartmouth
College the honorary degree of Master of Arts. He holds &
commission as Justice of the Peace and as Notary Public from the Governor of
N. H. His democracy is of the Jeffersonian type and his faith in
constitutional liberty as firm as the granite hills. Mr. Sturoc keeps up a
regular correspondence with his many literary friends, both in this country
and Scotland, and frequently receives a rhyming epistle from some of his
poetical contemporaries. The following brief but complimentary one is by Mr.
Duncan MacGregor Crerar, and is addressed
WILLIAM CANT STUROC, ON RECEIVING HIS PORTRAIT.
warm I waft to thee,
Beloved bard of Sunapee!
I prize, and will as years roll on,
Perhaps, dear friend, when thou art gone,
This welcome gift, this portrait true
Of thee, taen at three score and two;
Those kindly eyes and locks of gray
Will call up many a byegone day
Made glad by letters charmed from thee,
Beloved bard of Sunapee!
Heaven grant thee strength and spare thee long
To sing thy tunesome woodland song,
Till dell and dingle, lake and corrie,
Join in the strain and sound thy glory!
Sturoc, while getting on in years, is still hale and hearty. His intellect
is as clear to-day as it has been in years gone by, and we trust as he
gradually lays aside the cares of public life that he will continue to charm
us with more of that genuine poetry which he has already produced, and which
he is still capable of producing.
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