Archive for October 25th, 2017

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Aaron Burr’s Wooing by Edmund Clarence Stedman

From the commandant’s quarters on Westchester height
The blue hills of Ramapo lie in full sight;
On their slope gleam the gables that shield his heart’s queen,
But the redcoats are wary—the Hudson’s between.
Through the camp runs a jest: “There’s no moon—’t will be dark;
‘T is odds little Aaron will go on a spark!”
And the toast of the troopers is: “Pickets, lie low,
And good luck to the colonel and Widow Prevost!”

Eight miles to the river he gallops his steed,
Lays him bound in the barge, bids his escort make speed,
Loose their swords, sit athwart, through the fleet reach yon shore.
Not a word—not a plash of the thick-muffled oar!
Once across, once again in the seat and away—
Five leagues are soon over when love has the say;
And “Old Put” and his rider a bridle-path know
To the Hermitage manor of Madame Prevost.

Lightly done! but he halts in the grove’s deepest glade,
Ties his horse to a birch, trims his cue, slings his blade,
Wipes the dust and the dew from his smooth, handsome face,
With the ‘kerchief she broidered and bordered in lace;
Then slips through the box-rows and taps at the hall,
Sees the glint of a waxlight, a hand white and small,
And the door is unbarred by herself all aglow—
Half in smiles, half in tears—Theodosia Prevost.

Alack for the soldier that’s buried and gone!
What’s a volley above him, a wreath on his stone,
Compared with sweet life and a wife for one’s view
Like this dame, ripe and warm in her India fichu?
She chides her bold lover, yet holds him more dear,
For the daring that brings him a night-rider here;
British gallants by day through her doors come and go,
But a Yankee’s the winner of Theo Prevost.

Where’s the widow or maid with a mouth to be kist,
When Burr comes a-wooing, that long would resist?
Lights and wine on the beaufet, the shutters all fast,
And “Old Put” stamps in vain till an hour has flown past—
But an hour, for eight leagues must be covered ere day;
Laughs Aaron, “Let Washington frown as he may,
When he hears of me next, in a raid on the foe,
He’ll forgive this night’s tryst with the Widow Prevost!”

From: Stedman, Edmund Clarence, “Aaron Burr’s Wooing” in The Harpers Monthly, October 1887, pp. 666-667.

Date: 1887

By: Edmund Clarence Stedman (1833-1908)