On the day we're being encouraged to celebrate the bicentenary of our first prime minister's birth, something from the other end. This unusual piece of memorial verse, penned by Grit Grip cartoonist John Wilson Bengough is found in Motley: Verses Grave and Gay (Toronto: William Briggs, 1895).
Dead! Dead! And now before
The threshold of bereavèd Earnscliffe stand,
In spirit, all who dwell within our land,
From shore to shore!
Before that black-draped gate
Men, women, children mourn the Premier gone,
For many loved and worshipped old Sir John,
And none could hate.
And he is dead, they say!
The words confuse and mock the general ear—
What! can there yet be House and Members here,
And no John A.?
So long all hearts he swayed,
Like merry monarch of some olden line,
Whose subjects questioned not his right divine,
But just obeyed
His will's e'en faintest breath,
We had forgotten, 'midst affairs of State,
'Midst Hansard, Second Readings and Debate,
Such things as death!
Swift came the dread eclipse
Of faculty, and limb, and life at last,
Ere to the Judge of all the earth he passed,
With silent lips,
But not insensate heart!
He was no harsh, self-righteous Pharisee—
The tender Christ compassioned such as he,
And took their part
As for his Statesman-fame,
Let History calm his wondrous record read,
And write the truth, and give him honest meed
Of praise or blame!