Alexander Campbell
William Baxter
Introductory Note
An Address (1849)






      THE Alumni of Bethany College have an address from some one or more of their fraternity every year, on the evening preceding the 4th of July. They were this year represented by Messrs. Joseph H. Pendleton, of Va., William Baxter, A. M., of Miss., and T. C. McKeever, of Pa. I had the pleasure of hearing these very interesting addresses. They were all creditable in their kind. The following one by Mr. Baxter, who furnishes us occasionally with an offering from his Muse, we judge worthy of being presented to our readers in the pages of the Harbinger. A number of his musings, which all breathe a good spirit and have a moral tendency, have found their way into the periodicals of different [533] denominations; and are very favorably regarded by the amateurs of good poetry, good sense and good manners. The following speaks for itself:--

A. C.      

A N   A D D R E S S

Written by WM. BAXTER, A . M., and read before the Alumni of Bethany College,
3d, 1849.

O, MIGHTY Past! I gladly turn to thee,
Exchanging hope for solemn memory,
For oh! I've learned that hope, though angel bright,
Sheds on our path a false, delusive light;
Bright in the distance her fair visions seem,
But oh! they're false and changeful as a dream
Which bears the sleeper to the bowers of bliss,
In brighter worlds, to wake again in this,
Thus making sadder ev'ry earthly scene
By contrast with the world where he has been.
In childhood, oh! how bright dies youth appear,
How slowly then moves each revolving year;
Life then seems bright, and oh! we long to stand
In that charmed circle traced by fancy's hand,
Yet soon as gained, we backward turn our gaze,
And softly sigh for childhood's happy days.
Then manhood's scenes attract the youthful eye,
For hope depicts no cloud upon its sky.
The youth beholds no threatening storm to fear,
Sees naught but proud ambition's high career,
Dreams not that he, like thousands more, may fail
And ne'er become the theme of Fame's proud tale,
That in the throng he may unnoticed be
A wave mid thousands on the human sea,
Which wave their crest with loudly swelling roar,
But soon, alas! are broken on the shore;
All these have taught my sad and pensive heart,
That future joys, as we approach, depart,
And in kind memory's pure and chastened light,
Departed scenes alone seem fair and bright,
And joy, that fleeting thing, I've found at last
Leaves the future to riot in the past;
Then to that past, while life's bright flame shall burn,
Oft shall my heart with fond affection turn,
To see again the scenes, the joys of youth
Recall my early friendship's changeless truth;
Call round me some now in their dreamless sleep,
Who once with me toiled up the rugged steep,
Which Learning's young democracy must mount,
To drink pure waters from her sparkling fount,
Or never quench man's noblest thirst below,
The thirst of mind, the soul's desire to know.
And as these rise to my delighted gaze,
Around me beam "the light of other days."
      Dear Alma Mater! what sweet visions rise,
When'er to thee I fondly turn my eyes,
Thy much loved scenes to my rapt fancy seem
Like traces of some dear delightful dream,
So sweet when wakened from it, I would fain [534]
Sink back and dream it o'er again.
Thy name, like some magician's mystic wand,
Brings to my view the noblest youthful band,
Who with me started for the noble prize
Which thou displayest to thy children's eyes;
With whom 'twas mine, to toil unwearied on,
Until the goal was reached, the prize was won.
But where are they who stood with me that day?
The noblest two, alas! have passed away;
Yet requiems more heartfelt were never sung,
Than those we breathed o'er Whitaker and Young.
Though dead, they speak:--let every tear be dry,
For their example calls us upon high.
The rest remain, and though we're severed far,
Our common mother, like some lonely star,
Still doth attract each wanderer's longing eye
To where she shines, in memory's cloudless sky.
      But mid the forms which to my gaze appear,
Is one whom you, whom I, whom all revere;--
I seem again to see his brow serene,
His piercing eye, his patriarchal mien,
To hear his voice, as when to listening youth,
He opened wide the stores of holy truth;
For though familiar every classic page,
Of Roman bard, or purer Grecian sage,
'Twas his delight to turn away from these,
Or Virgil's strains, or rapt Demosthenes,
And bid us list the hallowed strain which rang
From evangelic or prophetic tongue;
For sweeter far was David's tuneful lyre
Than all the muse of Rome did e'er inspire;
And naught e'er heard within proud Athens' wall,
Was lofty as the fervent words of Paul.
Beloved instructor of our early days,
Who taught our feet to walk in wisdom's ways;
All who have heard thy teachings must confess
Thy noblest aim was our young hearts to bless;
For like the eagle's, every lofty flight
Of thine was upward to the source of light;
Thy teaching and example both were given,
To bid us place our highest trust in heaven.
And oft for thee our fervent prayers ascend,
That God would thee, from every harm defend;
Give thee long years of usefulness in this,
And then receive thee to a world of bliss.
      But I were faithless, Memory, to thee,
In waking thus my humble minstrelsy;
Did I forget the charm that women lent--
No--with each scene familiar she is blent,
Each walk along the gently gliding stream,
Is consecrated by some pleasing dream;
There is no echo but to it belongs,
The sad sweet answer of her sweeter songs;
And there is linked, with every vine-clad bower,
Some pleasing memories, of the moonlight hour;
No scene of mirth did e'er our hearts beguile,
But it was sweeter for her cheering smile;
And honors then were never deemed a prize,
Unless she seated them with approving eyes. [535]
      My younger brethren, now to you I turn,
To tell the thoughts which in my bosom burn.
We ne'er have met upon life's busy stage,
But yet we claim a common parentage;--
Our minds have drunk as from a common spring,
We've fostered been beneath a common wing;
Yet we would take you to a warm embrace,
And see in each a younger brother's face;
For we are bound by ties which naught should break,
We love you, for our much loved parent's sake.
You now have put fair Truth's strong armor on,
Just turned your eyes, to fields which may be won;--
Remember now that Pleasure's day is past,
And life must be a conflict to the last;--
Battle for right, ne'er lay your weapons down,
Though fierce the strife, yet bright shall be the crown.
      Beloved classmates, brethren, loved, and true,
My ardent thoughts now fondly turn to you;
I think on days when we together stood
Within those walls, a loving brotherhood.
Past hopes, past fears, past joys, past sorrows rise,
And tears, delicious tears, suffuse my eyes.
My heart to all, I feel, is beating true,
And in my spirit I am now with you;
I seem again your welcome hands to clasp,
And feel mine tremble in your fervent grasp.
I see the smile that on each face now plays,
I hear the joyous tales of other days;
And though the future never can be bright,
As is the past in memory's chastened light;
We have a noble task:--let none recoil,
Before us spreads a noble field for toil;--
Give light to those whom ignorance doth blind;
Break off all fetters, from the prisoned mind;
Plead for the dumb, the orphan's cause defend,
Uphold the weak, and be the widow's friend;
Bid sorrow cease, and wipe the weeper's eyes;
Tell erring souls of mercy from on high,
Toil thus in hope, and you with joy shall see
The coming in of earth's glad jubilee.

[The Millennial Harbinger (September 1849): 533-536.]


      Alexander Campbell's Introductory Note and William Baxter's "An Address" were first published in The Millennial Harbinger, Third Series, Vol. 6, No. 9, September 1849. The electronic version of the note and poem has been produced from the College Press reprint (1976) of The Millennial Harbinger, ed. Alexander Campbell (Bethany, VA: A. Campbell, 1849), pp. 533-536.

      Pagination in the electronic version has been represented by placing the page number in brackets following the last complete word on the printed page. Inconsistencies in spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and typography have been retained; however, corrections have been offered for misspellings and other accidental corruptions. Emendations are as follows:

            Printed Text [ Electronic Text
 p. 535:    hearfelt [ heartfelt
            Athen's [ Athens'

      Addenda and corrigenda are earnestly solicited.

Ernie Stefanik
Derry, PA

Created 20 June 1998.
Updated 28 June 2003.

Alexander Campbell
William Baxter
Introductory Note
An Address (1849)

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