"The Land We Love." by Mrs. Mary L. Gaddess.
Publication: Eagle, Mary Kavanaugh Oldham, ed. The Congress of Women: Held in the Woman's Building, World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, U. S. A., 1893. Chicago, Ill: Monarch Book Company, 1894. pp. 221-226.
|MRS. MARY L. GADDESS.|
It has been asserted, next to the love of the Father of us all, the deepest, purest, grandest emotion the human heart is capable of experiencing is affection for their native land. In all centuries and climes this has been the incentive to deeds of daring, and has taught men to defy chains, dungeons and torture; has taken the agony from martyrdoms, shed undying luster over many a battleground and placed a halo above many a weary brow. Thousands of names are deeply graven upon history's pages. Switzerland sings of her Tell till the mountains reverberate from their fastnesses the remembered name; Scotland of a Wallace who bled, but left a memory which still lives in the hearts of his countrymen. America has her soul-stirring names, as every land beneath the sun; but there are myriads who will never be known till the great roll-call on the other side the river, who have worn no laurel wreath, and lie in nameless graves, who laid down their all for their country–and it is a land to be proud of.
With broad arms stretched from shore to shore,
The proud Pacific chafes her strand;
She hears the dark Atlantic roar,
And nurtured on her ample breast
How many a goodly prospect lies
In nature's wildest grandeur drest,
Enameled with her loveliest dies. [Page 222]
Rich prairies decked with flowers of gold,
Like sunlit oceans roll afar;
Broad lakes her azure heavens behold,
Reflecting clear each trembling star;
And mighty rivers, mountain born,
Go sweeping onward, dark and deep,
Through forest, where the bounding fawn
Beneath their sheltering branches leap.
And cradled mid her clustering hills,
Sweet vales in dreamlike beauty hide;
Dear land, we truly love thee well;
May happiness and peace abide;
Thank God for giving us this home,
This bounteous birthland of the free;
Surely it was His hand that led
The mariners across the sea.
In simplest language, then, I will tell the oft-told story of the finding, like a gem upon the bosom of the water, America, the land we love.
With piercing eye and vision clear
He waited long in doubt and fear.
Laughed, jeered at, both by friends and foes,
Poor, burdened by a weight of woes,
Yet still declared "across the sea
He knew another land must be."
They pointed to the ocean dark.
Told of its perils to their bark;
And soon the caravels would be
Engulfed beneath "that great black sea."
Then called him "mad, a dreamer wild,"
From common sense and ways beguiled.
From land to land he journeyed long.
Repeating still the same old song.
Till years had flown, and sad of heart
He saw the hopes of youth depart.
Did he despair? Thank Heaven, no!
After his wanderings to and fro
He found a friend to hear his plea
And listen to his "theory."
While wise men doubted or delayed,
A woman's heart was not dismayed,
But pledged her jewels to supply
The means when others would deny.
Nothing of good was ever done,
But at great cost was victory won;
Long hours of toil and days of pain
Succeed and fail, again, again.
Tis only he who will not yield
To any foe who wins the field.
The conqueror too often wears
The martyr's chaplet unawares.
'Twas even thus long years ago,
Columbus feared not friend nor foe,
But ever watched for "time and tide"
To bear him to the other side.
Fair India! was his destined goal–
The one great hope of his great soul.
And when at last as ever, "Fate
Will bring all things to those who wait,"
His dream came true, he murmured not
O'er the past trials of his lot.
When skies were fair, one August day
From old Palos he sailed away,
With compass set, and ropes all taunt,
(An argosy, with bright hopes fraught).
Days passed, with rudder broken, lost!
By angry seas and tempests tossed,
They anchored in Canaries Isle,
And rested there a little while.
Then off, across the treacherous main,
"Fearing they'd not see home again,"
This weary-hearted little band
Set out to find the "Western land."
From sun to sun, for many days,
The adverse winds blew different ways,
The crew in mutiny declared
"That no one his wild visions shared."
Alone he stood, with lifted eye!
And prayed for succor from on high!
(Still raged the storm), while o'er the wave
His cry went up, "Oh, hear and save!"
At length, when hope was almost dead,
And every buoyant dream had fled,
A light shone out across the sea–
The promised land it proved to be.
Four hundred years ago, 'tis true,
This happened I relate to you;
Yet down the cycles of the years,
That voyage made in hopes and fears,
'Mid dangerous seas, has proved to be
The greatest one in history.
Columbus year we celebrate!
What was it made the man so great?
Others had dreamed as he had done.
And yet no continent had won!
All who will read his life may see
The man's great faith and constancy!
Firm ever in his cause he stood
And waited, knowing it was good.
His way he trusted unto heaven.
And the reward at last was given.
To all the nations, near and far,
America, the guiding star,
Has proved to be a light indeed
To other lands in time of need.
Her grain has fed their starving poor,
And vessels carry from her shore
Abundance! for this fruitful land
Can scatter with a liberal hand.
God was the guide across the sea.
Or else a miracle 'twould be;
Those tiny caravels at last
Could anchor safe, all trials past.
Upon our shield we ever must
Inscribe our faith, "In God we trust."
As Bethlehem's babe was found afar,
By shepherds following a star:
So by that light shed o'er the sea,
(A little light 'twas said to be),
A wondrous land was opened wide
To shed great light on every side!
Today she stands both strong and free,
God's people and God's country.
Many followed where Columbus had opened the way, among the number one who published an account of his voyage, describing the lands visited; and this being the first written account, and the name of Columbus not even mentioned, it was named after him. Am-a-ree-go-ves pout-chee.
It would tax your patience to repeat the story we have heard so often of expeditions sent out from the Old World one after the other. We can only faintly imagine the trials and sufferings of the pioneers, hard work the lot of all, forests to be cleared, buildings for shelter and defense erected, and ever at their side a treacherous foe eager to turn the plowshare into an implement of warfare. Poor, miserable cattle, inferior implements, food of the poorest kind and frequently not sufficient of it, multitudes of wants and no means to supply them. Yet the perseverance and intelligent industry of the people, combined with their inventive genius, constantly smoothed the way by devising means to produce greater results with diminution of manual labor. Thus by degrees forests were converted into flourishing farms, villages into towns, towns into cities, and as they grew their founders began to question the utility of connection with the mother country which had proved a hard task mistress. Duties increased until the burden grew intolerable, and in 1774 a congress of thirteen colonies convened in Philadelphia, declared they would no longer remain under the control of England, and established principles of liberty in the New World, and on July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia, wrote the Declaration of independence, which stated: "We hold it self-evident that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Then giving an account of the various reasons which had led up to that issue, closes with these words: "And for the support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." Men starting out with such a platform could not fail; yet we know of the long years of strife that followed–wars within and without, mistakes many, failures and imperfections not a few. In many a campaign barefoot soldiers marked with blood the ground over which they marched. When the Revolution broke out there were nearly three millions of people in the colonies, but the government of the states was held very loosely together, and it was not [Page 225] until some years after the peace that a strong one was formed. And notwithstanding the terrible record various wars have left on the pages of her history, from that time it has been steadfast, solid progress in things material and immaterial, business, morals and intellect, until today, one hundred and seventeen years after, she stands a power among nations. Waves of sadness and billows of gladness have rolled alternately over human hearts, while threatening storm clouds have lowered, but the bright bows of promise and hope ever gilded the horizon, eloquent and prophetic of the magnificent future which has dawned already. Daniel Webster said with regard to it: "There is no poetry like the poetry of events, and all the prophecies of this land lay behind the fulfillment." We recall the parable of the grain of mustard seed, which is indeed the least of all seed, but it has become a tree so great the birds from all lands rest amid her sheltering branches, and her roots are deeply hidden in the century of strong, true hearts that open the ground, planted and nourished the seed. Their sons, honest, brave men, still safely stand with that same Declaration their bulwark and stay.
Well may we be proud of America, "the land we love," stretching from the blue Atlantic to the broad Pacific, from the Arctic to the Antarctic oceans. Snow-clad mountains towering three thousand feet above sea level, mighty cataracts, giant geysers, vast prairies, broad rivers flowing between fields heavy with golden grain.
And deep in the bowels of the hills
Is coal and mineral wealth untold.
New riches every year unfold
As nature opens wide her gate
That stood ajar so long, we wait
Expectant, thankful, glad to say
This is the land we love today.
Placid lakes that would bear on their bosoms the leviathans of the centuries, cities whose magnificence vies with those across the ocean, and sixty-five millions of people brave and true as ever God's sunshine smiled upon. On every sea her vessels float, and in every land her people are found. She is at peace with all the world, and plenty and prosperity and strength surround her.
To our great festival, this Columbian jubilee, from all lands visitors have come to rejoice with us. Welcome, welcome, welcome, one and all! Without doubt each heart and voice will unite in the Nation's Hymn and say:
"Long may the land be brightHow wonderful the discovery he had made Columbus never knew, for he believed it to be a part of India. The gold he sought in large quantities he never found, yet the land teems with mineral wealth. It has filled the coffers of many nations, and when famine gaunt and grim stalked among less favored people we could throw open immense granaries, and blessings of plenty and abundance bestow cheerfully and gladly, for are we not all brothers? So lavish is Nature from the Western prairies and Southern cotton fields, her Northern pines and Eastern granite hills, we can gather the richest products and bid all to come and share our abundance, while her starry flag floats proudly above them as an emblem of that country, able and willing to protect the stranger within her gates. The pulse and pace of this land has been so marvelously quickened during the last century, time will not permit me to even mention the thousands of noble ideas that have enriched the world and startled it into wondering applause, while as a manufacturing people we have won first rank. All forces seem to be at our bidding and the nations wait in awe, whispering what next?
With freedom's holy light,
Protect her by thy might,
Great God, her king!"
Steam and electricity, says one, have compressed the earth till the elbows of [Page 227] nations touch. We recognize with heartfelt joy the pleasant amenities of this occasion. Looking around we fancy old-time fairy tales have come to be true. The stories of Arabian knights no longer a myth, for nothing could be more wonderful than this reality. In the distance we hear the beating pulsations of the heart of the great city, which phœnix-like rose from its own ashes to become the eighth wonder of the world. Only a year and a half ago this place about us was a wilderness. The White City now standing before us, more beautiful than artist's dream or poet's fancy could portray, rivaling in dazzling glory the tales we have read of Babylon of old, wonderful in conception, no less magnificent in execution, it stands a completed picture, worthy of the land and the century of progress it so nobly demonstrates.
In New York harbor stands the colossal statue of "Liberty Enlightening the World," the largest ever erected in modern times; its total height is three hundred and five feet eleven inches. It cost over a million francs, which were paid in France by popular subscription and presented to the United States. Many of us have seen it standing as guard over the city. Beyond that we need not devote time now to describe it, wonderful and elegant in detail: although so large in size. A fitting emblem at the gateway all must pass to enter this free and happy land, ours by inheritance, as they would desire to make it theirs by adoption. The years have taught us many lessons, and to one and all we would say: Leave behind you Old World superstitions and ideas of anarchy and confusion. Liberty can never here mean license. Let all learn what Columbus began to teach four hundred years ago–that indomitable perseverance and courage, with faith, in the right, will at last bring success; and no better motto can we give to each man, woman and child who visits America this Columbian year, than that we bear on our nation's coin, "In God we trust."
Then nation and people and land shall be blessed,
Prosperity dwell with us ever a guest,
Each century add to the stars in her brow,
From thirteen they've grown up to forty-four now.
So bright is their luster that over the wave
They call us "the land of the true and the brave."
Long, long may the red, white and blue testify:
"America's honor was not born to die."
Proclaim far and near, from the lakes to the sea,
This national birthday, July Fourth, '93;
At peace with the world doth America stand,
To welcome the world as it comes to our land.
Then throw out your flags to the breeze, let it tell
The tale of this country we all love so well:
"The Star Spangled Banner, oh, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!"
"Columbia the gem of the ocean has proved,
And favored of God seems the land we love."
Mrs. Mary L. Gaddess is a native of Baltimore, Md. Her parents were, Oliver P. Merryman, of one of the oldest families in the state, and her mother a talented English lady. She was educated at Baltimore Female College, and after leaving school took special lessons from the best teachers, giving particular attention to elocution. She has traveled extensively. She married Virginius Gaddess, of Baltimore. Mrs. Gaddess is a contributor to numerous periodicals, and is a successful lecturer on literary subjects. Her principal literary works are Cantatas, and "Woman of Yesterday and Today." Her lectures number twenty-five. In religious faith she in a Methodist by birth and education, but for years a communicant in the Protestant Episcopal Church, a member in good standing in both. She is a member of Grace M. E. Church, Baltimore, and the Ascension Protestant Episcopal of the same city. Her postoffice address in 821 North Arlington Avenue, Baltimore, Md.
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