New Bern-Craven County
Public Library

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About Our Mothers

[From: The Daily Journal, February 25, 1883]

We have been talking a long time about our fathers, and their acts would make a brilliant page in the history of any town, State or country. Now we want to say a word about our mothers.

In the “by-gone” we remember a lady that was accomplished in many ways—indeed in every way. In the saddle she was daring and graceful; if a little heavy she was lithe. In a boat she was not afraid of the broad waters of the Neuse. at the State Fairs her “Jersey Reds” would take the premium and her lace work and Afghans excelled—work of her own hands. We recollect another little boy and ourself were once sailing kites—we were near her residence, and, in fact, right by her boat house. She came on the wharf and brought us caramels in a cornucopia, made with white paper. Next to boarding school girls, boys love caramels, thus we enjoyed them, and remember them until this day. She was fond, too, of flowers. We can still recollect her lovely waiters of flowers, so tastefully arranged, sent to her neighbors. She could also paint. We have the evidence of her work—a beautiful painting of a water lily before me. We, on one occasion, sent her at Easter-time, a water lily, which was represented in oil and returned to us on satin—a painting we esteem. Our object is now to let our daughters know what their mothers could do and they, too, should, as we have before stated to our sons, improve the family inheritance. Each one should try to excel those who lived before them. After this prelude the music may not be misunderstood. Hear it.

To Mrs. C.E.S.
Now let the pretty Warren seek
The rippling Neuse and glassy creek,
The emerald marsh with fragrant air
From water-lily and jasmine there;
The clinging pea with ruby flower,
There nestles in its lonely bower;
The iris, too, like azure skies,
Peeps from the grass with golden eyes;
The cat tail, now, with dark brown hue,
Stands before us in the view—
Away, away, on the shimmering tide,
The pretty Warren so smoothly glide,
Through the bonnets makes her way,
Sprinkling them with silvery spray.
As on the shore her owner trips,
With grace the feathery oar she dips,
In flowery May and balmy Spring,
When robins bite and blackbirds sing;
When noisy martins soar so high,
And twittering swallows are darting by;
Now let us see the Warren rest
On mill pond creek or stir its breast,
While dainty fingers place the worm
On the hook—it can but squirm;
Cast the line; we hear the cry—
“A bite;” “skeeter?” “yellow fly?”
Watch the cork, a moment wait,
Some luckless fish will seize the bait;
The limber pole, see now ‘tis crooked—
The golden robin’s securely hooked;
It pulls and jerks in deadly strife
To free itself and save its life,
Till safely floundering in the boat
With outspread fins and glittering coat.
‘Tis even so with luckless men
When caught by women now and then;
They pull and run and splash the water—
How foolish when they ‘hadn’t oughter.’
The steel is hard, the cord is strong,
They might as well just come along,
And like the robin, too, be told
All that glistens is not gold—
That men and fish were made to catch,
As sure as eggs were made to hatch—
That men and fish oft make a stew
Is a fact ‘twixt I and you;
Unfair it is to hide the hook
With worms or smiles or charming look;
Yet if so foolish to risk the bite,
We say again, hold them tight.
But we must take another tack
And get the pretty Warren back;
The western sky is all aglow
With gold and purple—the sun is low;
Fast away from marsh and willow,
On the Neuse we meet the billow,
The Warren still so tight and sound
Is fleet as deer before the hound—
As graceful as the floating gull—
Such pretty lines, such perfect hull;
“Up,” we hear the cry, “the oar,”
Again we have reached the Newbern shore.
The fish must be cook’d, ‘tis true,
I leave that to your cook and you.
I help’d to catch ‘em, what more could I do
Than to beg to eat one or two—
Than to beg to eat one or two.

Return to The Writings of John D. Whitford