The following lines, which were written at S. Modeste, Labrador, August, 1865, are found, in the Bishop's own writing, on a spare sheet of paper in his journal. It is needless to add that they were never intended for publication, and were probably written to relieve his own mind amid the desolation that surrounded him.
O barren coast of Labrador!
Where poet never lived or sung.
O rocky, ice-encircled shore,
Where never harp or lyre was strung,
Where neither art nor nature please;
What mean these ships upon thy seas?
They come in search of fish and oil,
With net and line thy depths to try,
While fishermen with ceaseless toil,
By day and night their labours ply,
Intent on nothing but their catch,
To "make their voyage" with quick despatch.
Little care they for fog or foam,
Or floating ice of berg or field,
Soon to return to kindlier home
If ocean first its treasures yield.
Then waves may roll, and winds may blow,
Happy with laden ships they go.
Happy they go, the favoured crew,
With fifty quintals to a man,
But these are far between and few,
Many but empty vessels scan.
How then shall these their merchants meet?
How hungry wives and children greet?
Yet not alone for toil and pain,
'Mid rocks and ice, thro' fog and foam,
Not for hard labour spent in vain,
Returning "unfished" to their home,
Poor fishermen on Labrador
Succour and sympathy implore.
What though the sacred day of rest,
Remembered be, at God's command?
Never with public worship blest,
They can but sleep or idly stand;
No minister to pray or preach,
No means of grace within their reach.
PART II. VII.
But, lo! another ship in view appears;
The Hawk her name; yet sure no bird of prey,
For messages of peace and love she bears.
"Not without God" onward she speeds her way;
Fishers of men to fishermen she brings,
Grace and glad tidings ever on her wings.
A flag aloft is borne on either mast,
On either flag the sacred cross is seen,
The Church's glory in all ages past,
Now and shall be, as ever it has been.
Where never sign of Christ appeared before
The sacred cross floats o'er the Labrador.
True to their Church, true to her sacred sign,
Good fishermen with joy the Church ship hail.
Glad "for a spell" to leave both net and line,
Pressing alongside still with oar and sail.
Though squid and capelin fresh attempts invite
With promise of success by day and night.
Nor long they wait, bishop and priest are there,
Each vested in his sacred garments stands,
One speaking well-known words of Common Prayer,
The other blessing with uplifted hands,
Dear words to churchmen skilled to take their parts,
Dear blessings evermore to faithful hearts.
Not only these--not only prayer and praise,
And benedictions; other gifts are there.
Truths, which from earth to heaven the spirit raise,
From God's own book, God's ministers declare;
The Holy Table too is duly spread,
The cup of blessing and the broken bread.
Such gifts the Church ship brings to Labrador,
By charity of Christian friends supplied,
Friends in old England, caring for the poor,
Christ's poor, His gifts of grace too long denied;
May sevenfold blessings on their souls be poured;
All honour, praise, and glory to the Lord!