Historical Happenings
Glendale, Montana



ACROSS THE LAST RANGE

HENRY W. BROWN


Note:

It is not known at this time, when Henry W. Brown wrote “Across The Last Range” or to whom he was likely paying last respects to. It was graciously published by the editor of the  Dillon Tribune, in Dillon, Montana, in their November 13, 1891 edition. The response to the editor and gratitude expressed by Mr. Robert Bason, followed a couple of weeks later, and is also included as a part of this memory. (Ed. Note: It was common practice in bygone years, to pay epitaphic homage to departed loved ones, and it was frequently accomplished by publishing in the local newsprint, prose or poetry, expressing that honor. It seems to have been especially common in the providences north of us and our native United Kingdom and other British Isles. Since Henry Brown was of Canadian nativity, it is not unusual that he would pay special tribute to someone who had gained his respect and admiration.)
 

[In the form of a special newsclip, the following letter was published by the editor of the Tribune.]

  Appreciated.

------

Indianapolis, Ind., Nov.26, ’1891.

For the Dillon Tribune.

 
Dear Sir:

Please send us two more copies of the Dillon Tribune of November 13. Find amount enclosed therefore. A few of us in this city have had the pleasure of reading about “Ben of 49,” in the poem published in the Tribune of above date, entitled “Across the Last Range.” We feel sure it will be appreciated and read with pleasure by all who are fortunate enough to get the Tribune, and as this is the day set apart for giving thanks, we feel our thanks are due to the author of said poem, also to the editor of the Tribune for giving it to the world, and our kind friends at Glendale for sending us the Tribune occasionally. It is a welcome visitor at our home in Indianapolis.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Bason

{Late of Glendale, M.T.}



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1891 November 13

Published in Dillon Tribune

ACROSS THE LAST RANGE


By  Henry  W.  Brown


In a miner’s humble cabin lay

A brave old mountaineer;

To him, indeed, the close of day

Was drawing very near.


Two comrades nursed him day and night,

While fever burned his brain,

And Sam to Seth said, “Eve’s twilight

Will ease him from all pain,

 

“He’s climbed a-many a lofty peak,

He’s crossed o’er many a range,

But the aspiring spirit soon shall seek

A grander, vaster change!

 

Then Ben awoke from soothing sleep

And said, “I’ve had a dream

Which led me to the vasty deep

Of death’s relentless stream!”

 

“I stood upon a lofty range,

Whose crest was crowned with snow,

And there I met – it seems so strange! -

Old boys of long ago.


“They shook me warmly by the hand,

Rejoiced to find me there,

And said, ‘You’re near a Golden Land,

That’s free from earthly care.

 

“Life’s rugged range you’ve climbed at last,

You’re on it’s  summit now –

The slippery trail of Time you’ve passed

Which furrowed deep you brow.

 

“Your river, Ben, that’s winding free,

Away!  Far out of sight!

Is the crystal stream of Eternity –

You’ll reach its source to-night.

 

The claims o’er there are rich, old boy,

They’ll pan out well, you’ll find:

The golden wealth of unmixed joy

Beats that you’ve left behind.

 

But now you shall, for a brief respite,

Return to earth once more,

To bid ideu to friends to-night

And join your friends of yore.

 

Then we again shall meet you -

You will not cross alone;

Your warmest friends shall greet you

And guide you safely home.

 

The vision vivid ended there,

But still I feel impressed.

“T’was more than dreamland vision fair

And hints of final rest

 

“Their leader, Sam, I think you knew.

His claim was next to mine:

He proved a zealous friend and true

In the days of ’49.

 

He crossed the last range years ago,

I saw him when he died.

But little thought he’d meet me so

Upon the Great Divide!


“The other boys I met by chance,

Along life’s weary way,

And oft did aid the weak advance

As faint and sore they lay,

 

But one by one they left my view,

To explore another range.

And now return to cheer me through

The cold, bleak pass – how strange!

 

“I feel I’m going Over There!

Oh, comrades, do not sigh!

We’ll surely meet in lands more fair

When you sluice-head here runs dry.

 

“But when by Time I’m panned-out fine.

And you bear this form away,

Then place it  ‘neath that aged pine

Where oft in life I lay.

 

“Enraptured by the rich, bright scene

That cheered my longing eyes -

The crystal pond, the rippling green

Sward, mountains and bright skies.

 

“There let it rest through eternal years,

While I – the soul – shall be

Released from all-its pains and tears,

From all its woes set free.

 

“But ere I pass from earthly scenes,

Please bear me where I’ll view

The verdant vale, the lulling streams,

And mighty mountains, too.”

 

At Ben’s request they bore him

Out by the cabin door,

Where stretched the vale before him,

And hills he’d oft ranger o’er.

 

The Eastern range was gilded

By the sinking god of day,

But all between was shielded

From that bright, golden ray.

 

“Ah, boys!” he whispered lowly,

For he had weaker grown:

“Life’s sun is sinking slowly –

The shadows oe’r me thrown.

 

“In memory’s landscape I behold

Youth’s lovely range gilt o’er,

It shines more bright in sunset gold

Than e’er it shone before.

 

“But darksome shadows lie between -

The shades of bitter care!

And soon I’ll view a grander scene!

No dismal shadows there!”

 

Then hopeful smiles beamed in his eye,

As firm he clasped Sam’s hand:

“T’is sweet in comrade’s arms to die!

I see the Golden Land!

 

“Dear Friends, don’t mourn so when I’m gone!”

He murmured low and sighed,

Then gasped for breath, one moment! One!

As in their arms he died.

 

 Next day the “boys” from gulches round,

All gathered in to see

Their friend’s remains laid in the ground

Beneath his favorite tree.

 

No preacher there to sing and pray

Above the solemn dead.

But Sam, arising slowly,

He softly sighed and said:

 

“Old Ben and I were comrades

For twenty years or more,

And such a firm and faithful friend

I ne’er had known before.

 

“With him I’ve cheerily ranged the hills

On many a pleasant tour.

And panned or dust in mountains rills,

Not quite from ‘Rods’ secure.

 

‘But now he’s left this gulch of care

And ‘crossed the last range o’er;

He’s got a prospect over there,

Beats all he had before.

 

“Now friends! While in Time’s narrow gulch,

Let’s work the diggings well;

I fear thus far we’ve wasted much –

The last ‘clean up’ will tell!

 

“Life’s greatest boulders we’ll remove

With lever of firm will,

And though the ground be rough or smooth,

Clean honor’s bedrock well.

 

We’ll run down in the tailings, too.

The follies of the past;

But golden truth and friendship true,

In memory’s ‘riffles’ cast.

 

“And when we’re all united, boys,

Across the great ‘Main Range’,

T’will fill our cup with sweetest joys,

Where Truth and Friendship reign.”

 

Sam’s sermon o’er, the “boys” all bade

Unto Ben’s quiet face,

A last farewell! – long, lingering, sad –

Then to his resting place,

 

They bore him, ’neath a tree that stood

Majestic and alone

Upon a flowery mountain-side,

From which the landscape shone.

 

There digged his grave and laid him low,

Beneath that sturdy pine,

And graved in letters deep to show

‘T’was “Ben of ’49.”

 

                                                                 Henry W. Brown

                                                              November 13, 1891



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