William James Jones
The following biographical sketch of William James Jones, and a selection of his poetry, is excerpted from George Johnston, The Poets and Poetry of Cecil County, Maryland (Elkton, Maryland: The editor, 1887):
William James Jones was born in Elkton, August 25, 1829, and received
his education at the common school and Academy in that town. His youth
and early manhood was spent in mechanical pursuits and in the
improvement of his mind by a desultory course of reading, and in
perfecting himself in the knowledge of the Latin language.
In 1852, Mr. Jones purchased a half interest in the Cecil Whig and
became the editor of that journal for a short time, and until its
founder P.C. Ricketts, who was then editing the Daily News, of
Baltimore, returned from that city and resumed the duties of editor of
In 1853, Mr. Jones commenced the study of the law in the office of John
C. Groome, Esq., in Elkton and was admitted to the Bar, September 21,
In politics Mr. Jones was a Whig, but allied himself with the American
party when it was in course of formation and continued to be an active
member as long as the party lasted. In 1857 he was appointed State's
Attorney for Cecil county, to fill a vacancy, and in 1859 was elected to
the same office for the term of four years. At the outbreak of the war
of the rebellion Mr. Jones allied himself with the Union cause and was
elected to the House of Delegates by the Union party in 1863, and was
appointed two years afterwards, United States' District Attorney for the
district of Maryland, and held the office for about a year, and until he
was removed by President Andrew Johnson for opposing his policy of
reconstruction. In 1858 he married Miss Mary Jane Smith, of Connecticut.
They are the parents of one son and two daughters, the eldest of whom is
the wife of Rev. Walter E. Avery, of the Wilmington Conference.
Mr. Jones is one of the most earnest and successful members of the
Elkton Bar, and though not a voluminous writer, in early life
contributed poetry to the columns of the Cecil Whig, of which the
following poems are specimens.
The autumn winds are moaning round
And through the branches sighing,
And autumn leaves upon the ground
All seared and dead are lying.
The summer flowers have ceased to bloom
For autumn frosts have blighted,
And laid them in a cheerless tomb
By summer sun unlighted.
Thus all our "fondest hopes decay"
Beneath the chill of sorrow,
The joys that brightest seem to-day
Are withered by the morrow.
But there are flowers that bloom enshrin'd
In hearts by love united,
Unscathed by the autumn wind,
By autumn frost unblighted.
And there are hearts that ever thrill
With friendship warm and glowing,
And joys unseared by sorrow's chill
With hallowed truth o'erflowing.
In a quiet country churchyard
From the city far away,
Where no marble stands in mockery
Above the mould'ring clay;
Where rears no sculptured monument--
There grass and flowers wave
'Round a spot where mem'ry lingers--
My once-loved Mary's grave.
They laid her down to slumber
In this lonely quiet spot,
They raised no stone above her,
No epitaph they wrote;
They pressed the fresh mould o'er her
As earth to earth they gave–
Their hearts with anguish bursting,
They turned from Mary's grave.
She knew not much of grief or care
Ere yet by Death's cold hand,
Her soul was snatched from earth away
To join the spirit band:
Her mild blue eye hath lost its gleam,
No more her sufferings crave
The hand of pity, but the tear
Falls oft o'er Mary's grave.
I too would pay my tribute there,
I who have loved her well.
And drop one silent, sorrowing tear
This storm of grief to quell;
'Tis all the hope I dare indulge,
'Tis all the boon I crave,
To pay the tribute of a tear,
Loved Mary, o'er thy grave.
Anselmo was the nom de plume of David Scott, of James.
I know thee not, and yet I fain
Would call thee brother, friend;
I know that friendship, virtue, truth,
All in thy nature blend.
I know by thee the formal bow,
The half deceitful smile
Are valued not; they ill become
The man that's free from guile.
I know thee not, and yet my breast
Thrills ever at thy song,
And bleeds to know, that thou hast felt
The weight of "woe and wrong."
'Tis said the soul with care opprest
Grows patient 'neath the weight,
And after years can bear it well
E'en though the load be great.
And, that the heart oft stung by grief
Is senseless to the pain,
And bleeding bares it to the barb,
To bid it strike again.
I care not if the heart has borne
All that the world can give,
Of "disappointment, hate and scorn;"
In hope 'twill ever live,
And feel the barb'd and poison'd stings
Of anguish, grief and care,
As keenly as in years gone by,
When first they entered there.
The weary soul by care opprest
May utter no complaints,
But loaths the weight it cannot bear
And weakens till it faints.
Bring flowers for the youthful throng,
Of variegated glow,
And twine of them a gaudy wreath
Around each childish brow.
Bring flowers for the maiden gay,
Bring flowers rich and rare,
And weave the buds of brightest hue
Among her waving hair.
Bring flowers to the man of grief–
They hold the syren art,
To charm the care-look from his brow,
The sorrow from his heart.
Bring flowers for the sick girl's couch;
'Twill cheer her languid eye
To know the flowers have bloomed again,
And see them ere she die.
Bring flowers when her soul has fled,
And place them on her breast,
Tho' ere their blooming freshness fade
We lay her down to rest.
Life at best is but a dream,
We're launched upon a rapid stream,
Gushing from some unknown source,
Rushing swiftly on its course,
Save when amid some painful scene,
And then it flows calm and serene,
That we may gaze in mute despair
On every hated object there.
Fortune our bark and hope our chart,
With childish glee on our voy'ge we start,
The boat glides merrily o'er the wave.
But ah! there's many a storm to brave,
And many a dang'rous reef to clear,
And rushing rapid o'er which to steer.
Anon the stream grows wide and deep,
While here and there wild breakers leap,
O'er rocks half hidden by the flood,
Where for ages they have stood,
Upon whose bleak and rugged crest,
Many a proud form sank to rest,
And many a heart untouched by care
Laid its unstained offering there.
Ah! they have met a happier lot,
Whose bark was wrecked ere they forgot
The pleasing scenes of childhood's years,
'Mid that tempestuous vale of tears
Which farther on begirts the stream,
Where phantom hopes like lightning gleam
Through the murky air, and flit around
The brain with hellish shrieking sound
Conjuring up each mad'ning thought,
With black despair or malice fraught.
Swiftly, on in our course we go
To where sweetest flow'rs are hanging low
We stretch our hand their stems to clasp
But ah! they're crush'd within our grasp,
While forward th' rushing stream flows fast
And soon the beauteous scene is past.
At last we view another sight,
The shore with drifted snow is white,
The stream grows dark and soon we feel
An icy coldness o'er us steal,
We cast our eyes ahead and see
The ocean of Eternity.
When once amid its peaceful waves
No holier joy the bosom craves–
Ten thousand stars are shining bright
Yet one reflects a purer light–
No sooner does its glowing blaze
Attract the spirit's wand'ring gaze,
Than all is turned to joy we see–
That star is Immortality.