What are We Coming to?

{The following is the PRIZE POEM read at the County Fair. Composed by Mrs. E.S. KELLOGG, Janesville.}

WHAT ARE WE COMING TO?

BY DICK DOLEFUL.

Hark! whence that sound of chariot wheels,
Rumbling along like muttering peals
Of distant thunder?

Nearer and nearer the echo steals,
Earth, with the shock, like a drunkard reals,
As though the Book with the seven seals
Were rent asunder.

‘Tis the march of mind with the world in tow;
Through tickets for all — the high and the low,
Onward and upward, away we go
In wild commotion,

As when some sudden volcanic throe
Hurls burning rocks on the plains below
And rivers of lava quench their flow
In th’ boiling ocean.

No manual force can hold her back;
No moral suasion her speed can slack;
For ourself, alone, we could stand the rack
With stern endurance.

But oh! if some of the gear should crack,
and throw the engine off from the track,
Turning all upside down — alack,
Who’d pay the insurance?

‘Twill be in vain, when our race is run,
To wish we had still kept plodding on
Steady, sure, and slow,

As in the days when each duteous son
Finished the work his father begun;
And the daughters wove and carded and spun,
Just as their dear old mothers had done
Fifty years ago.

Each generation (in their own eyes),
As time progresses, become more wise;
(Mere self-deceivings,)

And thus the heir, when the father dies,
Begins to re-model, re-build, revise,
Till very soon he learns to despise
The old man’s leavings.

Plotting and planning, with all his might
He works away from morning to night,
At new inventions.

The precious models are locked from sight
Until he obtains a patent right;
Then, they are ushered into light
With great pretensions.

They chain the lightning, and harness steam;
“The one hoss shay” and the old ox team
In quiet slumber

Have passed away, like a poet’s dream;
And thus, in turn, what now we deem
Perfection’s hight, will float down stream
Like useless lumber.

Just take a peep at a County Fair,
You’ll find a medley collected ahere,
In proud array, sir.

Beasts of the field and birds of the air,
Fruits of the earth, and specimens rare
Of Yankee invention, everywhere;
But if you are verdant, friend, take care!
You may get shaved before you’re aware,
Without a razor.

An Agricultural show, they call
The exhibition at Floral Hall;
Take a turn around —

Examine those pictures upon the wall;
This milliner’s shop, that jeweler’s stall;
And do you suppose they raised them all
By tilling the ground?

Another improvement of the day —
The Ladies’ Equestrian Display;
Fearless and free they gallop away
Cheered by the million.

What would a modern Amazon say
To yielding the reins of her gallant grey,
And mounting behind a Cavalier gay,
On grand-mother’s pillion?

A flourish of trumpets from the band,
The crowd are assembling before the stand
To hear the address.

The speech abounds in sentiments grand —
“We live in a favored age and land;
Art, Science and Labor, hand in hand,
Are circling the earth with a three-fold band;
Nations are bowing to our command,
And Young America’s potent wand
The world will bless.”

‘Mid loud applause the speaker retires,
But, Phoenix like, from his smouldering fires,
Lo, a Poet ascends!

The Orator’s theme his muse inspires,
Rhyme piles on rhyme while the crowd admires,
And the critic’s brow, like spiral wires
Contracts or expands as the case requires,
But never unbends.

What though he pronounce the measure lame,
The subject trite, and the language tame,
The One Idea is ever the same —
Our Country’s Glory.

The Union is one stupendous frame;
Each state a pillar supporting the same;
Inscribed all over with honor and fame,
And none can boast a prouder name
Than Old Rock County, whose highest claim
Winds up the story.

Then let the Orator’s thoughts profound,
From Mount Parnassus again resound
In echoing verse.

But woe to the Muse! while riding around,
Unruly Pegassus starts off with a bound,
Throwing her ladyship flat on the ground;
But, nevertheless, the Poet gets crowned,
And the throng disperse.

Faster and faster the startled world,
Like Pelion from Olympus hurled,
Rushes through the air;

And Freedom’s car with banners unfurled,
Is over the neck of tyranny whirled;
While brooding Fear, in a corner curled,
Cries out in despair,

What are we coming to?

Janesville Daily Gazette (Janesville, Wisconsin) Sep 27, 1859

*****

NEW MUSIC. — We have received from the author, Mr. T. Martin Towne, of this city, two pieces of music just published — one entitled “Blue Eyed Jennie; or our Household Treasure,”” and the other, “O, Touch Not My Sister’s Picture; or the Confession of a Rebel Prisoner.” Both are songs with choruses. The words are also of home production; those to the first named piece are by Mrs. C.M. Stowe and to the other by Mrs. E.S. Kellogg, and are creditable to the authors. The music is very pretty — particularly “Blue Eyes Jennie” — and ought to meet with large sale.

Janesville Daily Gazette – Jan 21, 1864

NOTE: I believe Mrs. E.S. Kellogg was Electa S. Kellogg (Electa Stratton Washburn,) wife of Seth H. Kellogg, a fruit grower and nurseryman. She wrote the lyrics to several songs that were put to music by Mr. Towne. The link on his name goes to The Music of Thomas Martin Towne webpage, which has several of the songs by Mrs. Kellogg. There are music files as well as lyric files for the songs listed on the website.

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