No man rendered greater service to the cause of freedom than Major Stearns in the great struggle between invading slave-holders and the free settlers of Kansas.
He has done the work of a true man,–
Crown him, honor him, love him.
Weep, over him, tears of woman,
Stoop manliest brows above him!
O dusky mothers and daughters,
Vigils of mourning keep for him!
Up in the mountains, and down by the waters,
Lift up your voices and weep for him,
For the warmest of hearts is frozen,
The freest of hands is still;
And the gap in our picked and chosen
The long years may not fill.
No duty could overtask him,
No need his will outrun;
Or ever our lips could ask him,
His hands the work had done.
He forgot his own soul for others,
Himself to his neighbor lending;
He found the Lord in his suffering brothers,
And not in the clouds descending.
So the bed was sweet to die on,
Whence he saw the doors wide swung
Against whose bolted iron
The strength of his life was flung.
And he saw ere his eye was darkened
The sheaves of the harvest-bringing,
And knew while his ear yet hearkened
The voice of the reapers singing.
Ah, well! The world is discreet;
There are plenty to pause and wait;
But here was a man who set his feet
Sometimes in advance of fate;
Plucked off the old bark when the inner
Was slow to renew it,
And put to the Lord’s work the sinner
When saints failed to do it.
Never rode to the wrong’s redressing
A worthier paladin.
Shall he not hear the blessing,
“Good and faithful, enter in!”