Spoken at the opening of the Theatre, Barkerville, Saturday, January
Twelve months ago-'twas on that social night,
When cares are buried, and when joys are bright-
When mirth and pleasure hail the new-born year,
And friends endeavour to provide good cheer,
Our first debut was made in scenic art-
With falt'ring accents, and with beating heart,
Like a young child, whose mother's arms were all
The feet he knew-now walks, yet fears to fall-
We came before you, nerves and feelings strain'd,
Till step by step your confidence we gain'd;
And when your plaudits struck the anxious ear,
Care trembling fled, pursued by tim'rous fear,
We called you friends, the friends we know you now;
Pleased when you smile, and gratified, we bow.
The year sped on! and many an hour we spent
In mutual pleasures, for our hearts were blent-
And spoke of more to come-the night was fix'd-
Man's cup of pleasure is with sorrow mix'd,
"He may propose, but One disposes all,
Without Whose will not e'en the sparrows fall"-
For ere the sun had risen on that day
Our city smould'ring in its ashes lay.
But not to linger on so sad a tale,
The storm is o'er, and past the scorching gale,
Our city stands rebuilt-tho' built in haste-
A credit to your energy and taste.
And here to-night, within this spacious hall,
Built by kind labour volunteered by all
We meet again-and by your beaming eyes
You're pleased once more to see the curtain rise.
Whom shall we thank, when thanks to all are due-
We'd rob the many, if we prais'd the few-
that man who nailed a board upon this frame,
Can say, "I built it," and he builds his fame!
And now kind friends we look for your applause,
Nor hide displeasure-when you see just cause
'Tis easy finding fault, but you will try,
To view our failings with a friendly eye.
If we afford you pleasure for an hour,
Our objects gained tho' critics may talk sour
We might say more but deeds are better far,
"Where still the waters, deep the channels are;"
Be you the laughing brooks 'mid sunny beams,
And we the fountains that supply the streams;
And may the current, bright, unsullied, flow,
In rills of pleasure to the house below.
by James Andersen (Bard of the Cariboo)