Song by T. S. Arthur
"DEAR father," said Mary Edwards, "don't go out this evening!" and
the young girl, who had scarcely numbered fourteen years, laid her
hand upon the arm of her parent.
But Mr. Edwards shook her off impatiently, muttering, as he did so,
"Can't I go where I please?"
"O! yes, father!" urged Mary, drawing up to him again,
notwithstanding her repulse. "But there is going to be a storm, and I
wouldn't go out."
"Storm! Nonsense! That's only your pretence. But I'll be home
soon—long before the rain, if it comes at all."
And, saying this, Mr. Edwards turned from his daughter and left the
house. As soon as she was alone, Mary sat down and commenced weeping.
There had been sad changes since she was ten years old. In that time,
her father had fallen into habits of intemperance, and not only wasted
his substance, but abused his family; and, sadder still, her mother
had died broken-hearted, leaving her alone in the world with a drunken
The young girl's trials, under these painful circumstances, were
great. Night after night her father would come home intoxicated, and
it was so rare a thing for her to get a kind word from him, that a
tone of affection from his lips would move her instantly to tears.
Daily the work of declension went on. Drunkenness led to idleness,
and gradually Mr. Edwards and his child sunk lower and lower in the
scale of comfort. The pleasant home where they had lived for years
was. given up, and in small, poorly furnished rooms, in a narrow
street, they hid themselves from observation. After this change, Mr.
Edwards moved along his downward way, more rapidly; earning less and
Mary grew old fast. Under severe trials and afflictions, her mind
rapidly matured; and her affection for her father, grew stronger and
stronger, as she realized more and more fully the dreadful nature and
ultimate tendency of the infatuation by which he was led.
At last, in the anguish of her concern, she ventured upon
remonstrance. This brought only angry repulse, adding bitterness to
her cup of sorrow. The appearance of a storm, on the evening to which
we have alluded, gave Mary an excuse for urging her father not to go
out. How her remonstrance was received has been seen. While the poor
girl sat weeping, the distant rolling of thunder indicated the
approach of the storm to which she had referred. But she cared little
for it now. Her father had gone out. She had spoken of it only with
the hope that he might have been induced to remain with her. Now that
he was away, the agitation within was too great to leave any concern
for the turbulent elements without.
On leaving his home, Mr. Edwards, who had not taken any liquor for
three or four hours, and whose appetite was sharp for the accustomed
stimulus, walked quickly in the direction of a drinking-house where
he usually spent his evenings. On entering, he found that there was a
little commotion in the bar-room. A certain individual, not over
friendly to landlords, had intruded himself; and, his character being
known, the inmates were disposed to have a little sport with him.
"Come now, old fellow!" said one, just as Edwards came in,—"mount
this table and make us a first rate temperance speech."
"Do; and I'll treat you to the stiffest glass of whisky toddy the
landlord can mix," added another. "Or perhaps you'd like a mint julep
or gin cocktail better? Any thing you please. Make the speech and call
for the liquor. I'll stand the treat."
"What d'ye say, landlord? Shall he make the speech?" said another,
who was eager for sport.
"Please yourselves," replied the landlord, "and you'll please me."
"Very well. Now for the speech, old fellow! Here! mount this
table." And two or three of the most forward took hold of his arms.
"I'm not just in the humor for making a speech," said the
temperance man, "but, if it will please you as well, I'll sing you a
"Give us a song then. Any thing to accommodate. But come, let's
"No!" said the other firmly, "I must sing the song first, if I sing
it at all."
"Don't you think your pipes will be clearer for a little drink of
some kind or other."
"Perhaps they would," was replied. "So, provided you have no
objection, I'll take a glass of cold water—if such a thing is known
in this place."
The glass of water was presented, and then the man, who was
somewhat advanced in years, prepared to give the promised song. All
stood listening attentively, Edwards among the rest. The voice of the
old man was low and tremulous, yet every word was uttered distinctly,
and with a pathos which showed that the meaning was felt. The
following well-known temperance song was the one that he sung; and
while his voice filled the bar-room every other sound was hushed.
"Where are the friends that to me were so dear,
Long, long ago—long, long ago?
Where are the hopes that my heart used to cheer,
Long, long ago—long ago!
Friends that I loved in the grave are laid low,
Hopes that I cherished are fled from me now,
I am degraded, for rum was my foe
Long, long ago—long ago!
"Sadly my wife bowed her beautiful head,
Long, long ago—long, long ago.
Oh! how I wept when I knew she was dead!
Long, long ago—long ago.
She was an angel! my love and my guide!
Vainly to save me from ruin she tried;
Poor, broken-hearted! 'twas well that she died
Long, long ago—long ago.
"Let me look back on the days of my youth,
Long, long ago—long, long ago,
I was no stranger to virtue and truth,
Long, long ago—long ago.
Oh! for the hopes that were pure as the day!
Oh! for the joys that were purer than they!
Oh! for the hours that I've squandered away
Long, long ago—long ago."
The silence that pervaded the room when the old man's voice died,
or might rather be said, sobbed away, was as the silence of death. His
own heart was touched, for he wiped his eyes, from which tears had
started. Pausing scarcely a moment, he moved slowly from the room,
and left his audience to their own reflections. There was not one of
them who was not more or less affected; but the deepest impression
had been made on the heart of Edwards. The song seemed as if it had
been made for him. The second verse, particularly, went thrilling to
the very centre of his feelings.
"Sadly my wife bowed her beautiful head!"
How suddenly arose before him the sorrow-stricken form of the wife
of his youth at these words! and when the old man's voice faltered on
"Poor, broken-hearted! 'twas well that she died!"
the anguish of his spirit was so great, that he only kept himself
from sobbing aloud by a strong effort at self-control. Ere the spell
was broken, or a word uttered by any one, he arose and left the
For many minutes after her father's departure, Mary sat weeping
bitterly. She felt hopeless and deserted. Tenderly did she love her
parent; but this love was only a source of the keenest anguish, for
she saw him swiftly passing along the road to destruction without the
power to save him.
Grief wastes itself by its own violence. So it was in this
instance. The tears of Mary were at length dried; her sobs were
hushed, and she was about rising from her chair, when a blinding flash
of lightning glared into the room, followed instantly by a deafening
jar of thunder.
"Oh, if father were home!" she murmured, clasping her hands
Even while she stood in this attitude, the door opened quietly, and
Mr. Edwards entered.
"I thought you would be afraid, Mary; and so I came home," said he
in a kind voice.
Mary looked at him with surprise. This was soon changed to joy as
she perceived that he was perfectly sober.
"Oh, father!" she sobbed, unable to control her feelings, and
leaning her face against his breast as she spoke—"if you would never
Tenderly the father drew his arm around his weeping child, and
kissed her pure forehead.
"Mary," said he, as calmly as he could speak, "for your mother's
sake—" but he could not finish the sentence. His voice quivered, and
Solemnly, in the silence of his own heart, did the father, as he
stood thus with his child in his arms, repeat the vows he had already
taken. And he kept his vows.
Wonderful is the power of music! It is the heart's own language,
and speaks to it in a voice of irresistible persuasion. It is a good
gift from heaven, and should ever be used in a good cause.