A WREATH OF VIRGINIA BAY LEAVES
A WREATH OF VIRGINIA BAY LEAVES
JAMES BARRON HOPE
James Barron the elder organized the Virginia Colonial Navy of
which he was commander-in-chief during the Revolution and his sons
Samuel and James served gallantly in the United States Navy. It was
from these ancestors that James Barron Hope derived that unswerving
devotion to his native state for which he was remarkable and it was
at the residence of his grandfather Commodore James Barron the
younger who then commanded the Gosport Navy-yard that he was born
the 23d of March 1829.
His mother Jane Barron was the eldest daughter of the Commodore
and most near to his regard. An attractive gentlewoman of the old
school generous of quick and lively sympathies she wielded a
clever ready pen and the brush and embroiderer's needle in a
manner not to be scorned in those days and was a personage in her
Her child was the child not only of her material but of her
spiritual being and the two were closely knit as the years passed
in mutual affection and confidence in tastes and aspirations.
His father was Wilton Hope of "Bethel" Elizabeth City County a
handsome talented man a landed proprietor of a family whose acres
bordered the picturesque waters of Hampton River.
He gained his early education at Germantown Pennsylvania and at
the "Academy" in Hampton Virginia under his venerated master John
B. Cary Esq.--the master who declares himself proud to say
"I taught him"--the invaluable friend of all his after years.
In 1847 he graduated from William and Mary College with the degree
From the "Pennsylvania" upon which man-of-war he was secretary to
his uncle Captain Samuel Barron he was transferred to the
"Cyane" and in 1852 made a cruise to the West Indies.
In 1856 he was elected Commonwealth's attorney to the "game-cock
town of Virginia" historic and picturesque old Hampton which was
the centre of a charming and cultivated society and which had
already claimed him as her "bard." For as Henry Ellen he had
contributed to various southern publications his poems in "The
Southern Literary Messenger" attracting much gratifying attention.
In 1857 Lippincott brought out "Leoni di Monota and Other Poems."
The volume was cordially noticed by the southern critics of the time
not only for its central poem but also for several of its minor ones
notably "The Charge at Balaklava" which G.P.R. James--as have
others since--declared unsurpassed by Tennyson's "Charge of the
Upon the 13th of May 1857 he stood poet at the 250th anniversary
of the English settlement at Jamestown.
As poet and as the youthful colleague of Henry A. Wise and John R.
Thompson he stood at the base of Crawford's statue of Washington
in the Capitol Square Richmond Virginia the 22d of February 1858.
That same year these recited poems together with some miscellaneous
ones were published.
Congress chose him as poet for the Yorktown Centennial 1881 and
his "brilliant and masterly poem was a fitting companion piece to
the splendid oration delivered upon that occasion by the renowned
orator Robert C. Winthrop."
This metrical address "Arms and the Man" with various sonnets was
published the next year. As the flower of his genius its noble
measures only revealed their full beauty when they fell from the
lips of him who framed them and it was under this spell that one of
those who had thronged about him that 19th of October cried out:
"Now I understand the power by which the old Greek poets swayed the
men of their generation."
Again his State called upon him to weave among her annals the
laurels of his verse at the laying of the cornerstone of the
monument erected in Richmond to Robert E. Lee. The corner-stone was
laid October 1887 but the poet's voice had been stilled forever.
He died September the 15th as he had often wished to die "in
harness" and at home and Death came swift and painless.
His poem save for the after softening touches had been finished
the previous day and was recited at the appointed time and place by
Captain William Gordon McCabe.
"Memoriae Sacrum" the Lee Memorial Ode has been pronounced by many
his masterpiece and waked this noble echo in a brother poet's soul:
'Like those of whom the olden scriptures tell
Who faltered not but went on dangerous quest
For one cool draught of water from the well
With which to cheer their exiled monarch's breast;'
'So thou to add one single laurel more
To our great chieftain's fame--heedless of pain
Didst gather up thy failing strength and pour
Out all thy soul in one last glorious strain.'
* * * * *
"And when the many pilgrims come to gaze
Upon the sculptured form of mighty Lee
They'll not forget the bard who sang his praise
With dying breath but deathless melody."
"For on the statue which a country rears
Tho' graven by no hand we'll surely see
E'en tho' it be thro' blinding mists of tears
Thy name forever linked with that of Lee."
--_Rev. Beverly D. Tucker_.
His genius had flowered not out of opulence or congenial occupation
but out of the tread-mill of newspaper life and under such
conditions from 1870-1887 he delivered the poem at Lynchburg's
celebration of its founding; at the unveiling of the monument raised
to Annie Lee by the ladies of Warren County North Carolina;
memorial odes in Warrenton Virginia in Portsmouth and Norfolk
and at the Virginia Military Institute. He was the first commander
of Norfolk's Camp of Confederate Veterans the Pickett-Buchanan but
through all his stirring lines there breaks no discordant note of
hate or rancor. He also sent into print "Little Stories for Little
People" and his novel "Madelon" and delivered among various
masterly addresses "Virginia--Her Past Present and Future" and
"The Press and the Printer's Devil."
During these years he had suffered a physical agony well-nigh past
the bearing but which he bore with a wonderful patience and
fortitude and not only bore but hid away from those nearest to him.
He had brought both broken health and fortunes out of the war; for
when in 1861 the people of Hampton left the town "Its men to
join the Southern army and its women to go in exile for four long
weary years returning thence to find their homes in ashes James
Barron Hope was among the first who left their household gods behind
to take up arms for their native State and he bore his part nobly
in the great conflict."
When it ended he did not return to Hampton or to the practice of
his profession. Instead of the law he embarked in journalism in
Norfolk Virginia and despite its lack of entire congeniality
made therefrom a career as brilliant as it was fearless and unsullied.
[Footnote: A: "They themselves applying the torch to their own homes
under the patriotic but mistaken idea that they would thus arrest
the march of the Invaders." ("Col. Cary's address at unveiling of
monument to Captain Hope.")]
He was a little under six feet in height slender graceful and
finely proportioned with hands and feet of distinctive beauty. And
his fingers were gifted with a woman's touch in the sick-room and
an artist's grasp upon the pencil and the brush of the water-colorist.
It was said of him that his manner was as courtly as that of
"Sir Roger de Coverly." Words which though fitly applied are but as
the bare outlines of a picture for he was the embodiment of what
was best in the Old South. He was gifted with a rare charm. There
was charm in his pale face which in conversation flashed out of its
deep thoughtfulness into vivid animation. His fine head was crowned
with soft hair fast whitening before its time. His eyes shone under
his broad white forehead wise and serene until his dauntless spirit
or his lofty enthusiasm awoke to fire their grey depths. His was a
face that women trusted and that little children looked up into with
smiles. Those whom he called friend learned the meaning of that name
and he drew and linked men to him from all ranks and conditions of
Beloved by many those who guard his memory coin the very fervor of
their hearts into the speech with which they link his name.
"A very Chevalier Bayard" he was called.
Of him was quoted that noble epitaph on the great Lord Fairfax:
'Both sexes' virtues in him combined
He had the fierceness of the manliest mind
And all the meekness too of woman kind.'
'He never knew what envy was nor hate
His soul was filled with worth and honesty
And with another thing quite out of date called modesty.'
No sketch could approach justice toward Captain Hope without at
least a brief review of his domestic life.
In 1857 he had married Miss Annie Beverly Whiting of Hampton. Hers
were the face and form to take captive his poet's fancy and she
possessed a character as lovely as her person; a courage and
strength of will far out of proportion to her dainty shape and an
intellect of masculine robustness. Often the editor brought his work
to the table of his library that he might avail himself of his
wife's judgment and labor with the faces around him that he loved
for their union was a very congenial one and when two daughters
came to bless it as husband and father he poured out the treasures
of his heart his mind and soul. To his children he was a wise
teacher a tender guide an unfailing friend the most delightful of
companions. His sympathy for and his understanding of young people
never aged and he had a circle of dear and familiar friends of
varying ages that gathered about him once a week. There beside his
own hearth his ready wit his kindly humor sparkled most brightly
and there flowed forth most evenly that speech accounted by many
well worth the hearing. For his was also the art of listening; he
not only led the expression of thought but inspired it in others.
His own roof-tree looked down upon James Barron Hope at his best and
down upon a home in the sacred sense of the word for he touched
with poetry the prose of daily living and left to those who loved
him the blessed legacy of a memory which death cannot take from them.
I have said that in his early years Old Hampton claimed him. He
became the son of the city of his adoption and sleeps among her dead.
Above his ashes rises a shaft fashioned from the stones of the
State he loved so well which proclaims that it is "The tribute of
his friends offered to the memory of the Poet Patriot Scholar and
Journalist and the Knightly Virginia Gentleman."
JANEY HOPE MARR
The Charge at Balaklava
A Short Sermon
A Little Picture
A Reply to a Young Lady
A Story of the Caracas Valley
Three Summer Studies
The Washington Memorial Ode
How it Fell Calm on Summer Night
A Friend of Mine
The Jamestown Anniversary Ode
An Elegiac Ode
The Cadets at New Market
Our Heroic Dead
The Portsmouth Memorial Poem--The Future Historian
Arms and The Man
The Dead Statesman
The New England Group
The Southern Colonies
The Old Dominion
The Oaks and the Tempest
The Embattled Colonies
Welcome to France
The Allies at Yorktown
The Ravages of War
The Lines Around Yorktown
The French in the Trenches
Nelson and the Gunners
The Beleaguered Town
Storming the Redoubts
The Two Leaders
The Beginning of the End
The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis
Our Ancient Allies
The Ancient Enemies
The Splendid Three
The War Horse Draws the Plough
Heroes and Statesmen
The Flag of the Republic
The South in the Union
To Alexander Galt the Sculptor
To the Poet-Priest Ryan
Sir Walter Raleigh
Captain John Smith
Sunset on Hampton Roads
A King's Gratitude
Under One Blanket
The Lee Memorial Ode
A WREATH OF VIRGINIA BAY LEAVES.
THE CHARGE AT BALAKLAVA.
Nolan halted where the squadrons
Stood impatient of delay
Out he drew his brief dispatches
Which their leader quickly snatches
At a glance their meaning catches;
They are ordered to the fray!
All that morning they had waited--
As their frowning faces showed
Horses stamping riders fretting
And their teeth together setting;
Not a single sword-blade wetting
As the battle ebbed and flowed.
Now the fevered spell is broken
Every man feels twice as large
Every heart is fiercely leaping
As a lion roused from sleeping
For they know they will be sweeping
In a moment to the charge.
Brightly gleam six hundred sabres
And the brazen trumpets ring;
Steeds are gathered spurs are driven
And the heavens widely riven
With a mad shout upward given
Scaring vultures on the wing.
Stern its meaning; was not Gallia
Looking down on Albion's sons?
In each mind this thought implanted
Undismayed and all undaunted
By the battle-fiends enchanted
They ride down upon the guns.
Onward! On! the chargers trample;
Quicker falls each iron heel!
And the headlong pace grows faster;
Noble steed and noble master
Rushing on to red disaster
Where the heavy cannons peal.
In the van rides Captain Nolan;
Soldier stout he was and brave!
And his shining sabre flashes
As upon the foe he dashes:
God! his face turns white as ashes
He has ridden to his grave!
Down he fell prone from his saddle
Without motion without breath
Never more a trump to waken--
He the very first one taken
From the bough so sorely shaken
In the vintage-time of Death.
In a moment in a twinkling
He was gathered to his rest;
In the time for which he'd waited--
With his gallant heart elated--
Down went Nolan decorated
With a death wound on his breast.
Comrades still are onward charging
He is lying on the sod:
Onward still their steeds are rushing
Where the shot and shell are crushing;
From his corpse the blood is gushing
And his soul is with his God.
As they spur on what strange visions
Flit across each rider's brain!
Thoughts of maidens fair of mothers
Friends and sisters wives and brothers
Blent with images of others
Whom they ne'er shall see again.
Onward still the squadrons thunder--
Knightly hearts were their's and brave
Men and horses without number
All the furrowed ground encumber--
Falling fast to their last slumber--
Bloody slumber! bloody grave!
Of that charge at Balaklava--
In its chivalry sublime--
Vivid grand historic pages
Shall descend to future ages;
Poets painters hoary sages
Shall record it for all time;
Telling how those English horsemen
Rode the Russian gunners down;
How with ranks all torn and shattered;
How with helmets hacked and battered;
How with sword arms blood-bespattered;
They won honor and renown.
'Twas "not war" but it was splendid
As a dream of old romance;
Thinking which their Gallic neighbors
Thrilled to watch them at their labors
Hewing red graves with their sabres
In that wonderful advance.
Down went many a gallant soldier;
Down went many a stout dragoon;
Lying grim and stark and gory
On the crimson field of glory
Leaving us a noble story
And their white-cliffed home a boon.
Full of hopes and aspirations
Were their hearts at dawn of day;