Loss of Steamship “Pacific,” November 4th, 1875

Loss of the Steamship “Pacific,” November 4th, 1875.

By Rev. Geo. Mason, M. A., Rector of St. Paul’s Church, Nanaimo


Speed on thy course, Leviathan of art !

Thou boast of modern science ! Safely speed

From port to port with all thy living freight

Of human souls, more precious than thy load

Of earthly dross, exhumed from mountain depths,

Or washed with anxious toil from mingled sand

On river beds. Speed on in proud disdain

Of wind and storm ! Obedient to thy will

The waves of ocean bear thee on thy way,

And lift in vain their crests of angry foam

To harm thy guarded bulwarks, or affright

The careful pilots of thy destiny !


The dark November clouds may low’r, the sun

Shroud its meridian brightness ’neath a veil

Of threat’ning mist:—dreaming of joys to come

In the gay City of the Golden Gate.

They heed not nature’s frowns who crowd thy deck,

Thou spoiler of old Neptune’s vaunted sway !

The happy children gaze with laughing glee

For the last time on their forsaken homes;

The merchant heaves a sigh of glad relief,


Expectant of his holiday from care;

With fondly ling’ring thoughts the maiden waves

Her ’kerchief flag of tender, mute farewell,

While on the chilly breeze floats soft and low

Her parting strain—“Good-bye, sweetheart,   good-

bye! ”

Soon shall Columbia’s snow-capt mountains fade

In evening shadows from their home-turn’d view,

Soon shall fond mem’ry’s mirror of the past

Lose its reflections ’mid imagin’d scenes

Of unknown pleasures in the coming time;—

And all our winter gloom dissolving change

For the bright sunshine of the balming West.


Hush!—did’st thou hear?—was it the death-shriek


The midnight slumbers of that silent home?

Hush!—it is nought!—nought but the watch-dog’s


Of melancholy omen, boding ill;—

Or screech of night-bird hooting to the gale

In fiendish mockery of man’s distress.

Sleep on, beloved ones! for a while sleep on

And gather up your strength for morning light!

A day of sorrows waits you! gird yourselves

With prayer, and lean upon th’ Eternal love,

“Though He destroy, yet will I trust in him!”

Be this your motto! and your quivering souls

Shall bear the shock uninjur’d, and along

The course of life shall presently sail on

In calmness to the haven, where they rest.


But—hush—again! the news! the dreadful news

Has reached our shores! has paralyzed the hearts

Of all!   Oh! say, it is not true!   What! lost!

All lost!   All!   All! but one snatch’d from the deep,

A solitary messenger of woe,

Left on the cruel waters to recount

His tale of misery, the fatal crash,

The rush, the panic—accents of despair,—

The infant’s wail,—the Mother’s piercing cry,—

The brave man’s fight with death, and chivalry

Unselfish even to his latest gasp.

And now another, rescued from the waves

But to confirm the tidings of their fate,

Pants forth fresh horrors from the awful wreck.

All lost!   No!   No! the agony is o’er

The dark, cold waters of destruction past,

And on the tearless shore they rest, God grant,

In peace, awaiting now perennial bliss,

Purg’d from all earthstains in th’o’erwhelming tide

By God’s consuming Love, wash’d in the blood

Of Him whose dying pangs outweigh’d the sum

Of mortal agonies, who tasted death

For all, that all, who will, might never die

But only sleep—Mother! she is not dead.

Tho’ she return not, thou shalt go to her

In the far land ; when sea shall be no more,

And from its depths are yielded up the dead—

Pitiless Ocean! thou hast done thy worst !

We ask not this of thee,—to hurl us back

In ruthless scorn the forms of those we loved ;

Harrowing our souls with hideous spectacle

Of marr’d remains, relinquish’d—but in vain.

Hide them!—Oh! hide beneath thy briny pall

Corruption’s spoils until the day of doom!

Thou can’st not rob us of th’ immortal part!

Beyond the utmost fury of thy storms

The Spirit soars, and holds Communion still

With kindred hearts in voiceless sympathy.


‘Tis said the Royal Dane in olden time

Bade his obsequious courtiers place his throne

Before the advancing tide; with solemn pomp

He gave his sovereign mandate to the waves;

Rebellious to this delegate of heaven,

But to th’ Almighty ruler loyal still,

Th’ unconscious turf roll’d on and heeded not

The impotent usurper’s futile word.

Thus in his wisdom did the prince rebuke

The idle flatt’rers of his earthly power,

And vindicate His Majesty, who “holds

The waters in the hollow of His hand.”

Well might we learn in these presumptuous days

A lesson from this simple tale of Eld.

Ye launch your monster vessels on the deep,

With scarce a thought of the Omnipotent ;

The forces of the Universe obey

The magic scepter science proudly wields.

Flush’d with your triumph Nature is defied—

Danger despised, till danger’s self has come,

And finds you unprepared with all your arts

Against the common accidents of life!

The untamed billows mock your pigmy toys,

When mercilessly rushing on their prey

They gain their vantage, and the stricken ship

Sinks neath the paean of their roar, an hopeless wreck.

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