Barton was Britain’s counterpart to American John Greenleaf Whittier. Like
Whittier, he was called the "Quaker Poet."
Born: January 31, 1784, Carlisle, Cumberland, England.
Died: February 19, 1849, Woodbridge, Suffolk, England.
Some verse-writers of earlier date, and, at one time or another, of
wider appeal, may now be mentioned, though they need not occupy us
long. The quaker poet Bernard Barton has so many pleasant and
certainly lasting literary associations -- the friendship of
Lamb and of
Southey and of
FitzGerald, the presentation of
Byron in his most
sensible, good-natured and
un-Satanic aspect, and, in fact, numerous
other evidences of his having possessed the rare and precious qualities
"please many a man and never vex one" --
that it would be a pity
if anyone (except at the call of duty)
ran the risk of vexation by reading
his verse. He wrote, it is said, ten volumes of it, and there is no
apparent reason, in what the present writer has read of them, why he or
any man should not have written a hundred such, if he had had the time.
Some of his hymns are among his least insignificant work.
The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes
Volume XII. The Romantic Revival,
V. Lesser Poets, 1790-1837.
So that you may judge for yourselves:
Bruce and the Spider
FOR Scotland's and for freedom's right
The Bruce his part had played,
In five successive fields of fight
Been conqured and dismayed;
Once more against the English host
His band he led, and once more lost
The meed for which he fought;
And now from battle, faint and worn,
The homeless fugitive forlorn
A hut's lone shelter sought.
And cheerless was that resting-place
For him who claimed a throne:
His canopy devoid of grace,
The rude, rough beams alone;
The heather couch his only bed, --
Yet well I ween had slumber fled
From couch of eider-down!
Through darksome night till dawn of day,
Absorbed in wakeful thought he lay
Of Scotland and her crown.
The sun rose brightly, and its gleam
Fell on that hapless bed,
And tinged with light each shapeless beam
Which roofed the lowly shed;
When, looking up with wistful eye,
The Bruce beheld a spider try
His filmy thread to fling
From beam to beam of that rude cot;
And well the insect's toilsome lot
Taught Scotland's future king.
Six times his gossamery thread
The wary spider threw;
In vain the filmy line was sped,
For powerless or untrue
Each aim appeared, and back recoiled
The patient insect, six times foiled,
And yet unconquered still;
And soon the Bruce, with eager eye,
Saw him prepare once more to try
His courage, strength, and skill.
One effort more, his seventh and last!
The hero hailed the sign!
And on the wished-for beam hung fast
That slender, silken line;
Slight as it was, his spirit caught
The more than omen, for his thought
The lesson well could trace,
Which even "he who runs may read,"
That Perseverance gains its meed,
And Patience wins the race.
We Journey Through a Vale of Tears
We journey through a vale of tears,
By many a cloud o’ercast;
And worldly cares and worldly fears,
Go with us to the last.
Not to the last! Thy Word hath said,
Could we but read aright,
"Poor pilgrim, lift in hope thy head,
At eve it shall be light!"
Though earthborn shadows now may shroud
Thy thorny path awhile,
God’s blesséd Word can part each cloud,
And bid the sunshine smile.
Only believe, in living faith,
His love and power divine;
And ere thy sun shall set in death,
His light shall round thee shine.
When tempest clouds are dark on high,
His bow of love and peace
Shines sweetly in the vaulted sky,
A pledge that storms shall cease.
Hold on thy way, with hope unchilled,
By faith and not by sight,
And thou shalt own His Word fulfilled,
"At eve it shall be light."