Saturday, March 19, 2011

Merrow Churchyard By Moonlight

This is a Poem by 
my Great, Great Grandfather & Poet
FRANK JOHNSON, English born poet
September 2. 1810 - February 17, 1892
The Village Of Merrow
Scene, England,
-- a county bordering on the mouth of the River Thames.
Time, --towards the end of the first half of the present century.
Merrow Churchyard by Moonlight
Now  Dian’s  orb was hung on high,
And all so sunk in rest,
A stranger to the world had deemed
Its habitants were blest.
Who, with the sorcery around
Of a night so calm, so clear,
Could have borne to think that its least content
Could have ever known a tear?
A night indeed! -- so hushed, serene,
Scarce a dead leaflet stirr’d;
If, in the far, a cry, a chime,
Who would not such have heard.
The snowy moon that lives aloft
Seemed all alone to bide,
As if the only thing awake,
And watching all beside.
I could but think of day’s bight orb
Were made alone for light,
Man might have done without the sun,
For the sake of such a night.
Imagine my surprise while researching my
Family Tree a few short years ago to learn that my
Great, Great Grandfather was a published
writer and poet!  Frank Johnson…
author of Lashed to the Mizzen,Giles and Janey, or
The Kindly Gentleman, and The Village Of Merrow,
It’s Past and Present.  I was thrilled the day I received
a 1st edition copy of,The Village of  Merrow printed
by Lovell Printing and Publishing Company. 1876.

FRANK JOHNSON, English born poet, emigrated to LennoxVille, Quebec
The Magazine of Poetry and Literary Review - Page 421
edited by Charles Wells Moulton - American poetry - 1892

FRANK JOHNSON was born September 2nd, 1810, in London, Eng. He had barely entered upon his third year when he was sent to a preparatory school at Hampstead. From thence having completed his eighth year, he was transferred to a classical school in London, where after a seven years' training in Greek, Latin, French, Italian and mathematics, he was sent to Edinburgh University. Here, however, his ambition to be an actor, brought his studies in Edinburgh to a close. It was now that his naturally good constitution began somewhat to fail him, through too close an application to his self-directed studies, and with a view to recruit him, he was sent by his father, a medical practitioner, into Hertfordshire. It was here that he betook himself to the study of the flora of the fields, and it was during his rambles in the lanes and wastes of Hertfordshire, that he familiarized himself with the poverty and struggles of the underpaid labourers on the soil, a familiarity which, some years afterwards, he turned to good account in his "Village of Merrow. "

It was in his twenty- fifth year that, again with a view to thoroughly establish his health, and to wean him from his still lingering ambition to be an actor, his father proposed to him an extended course of travel, a proposition which was embraced with enthusiasm. In less than a month he embarked in a small South seaman, bound for a lengthened cruise in the Indian and Pacific oceans. It was thence that he acquired the terrible experience that enabled him to write his "Lashed to the Mizzen." After a cruise of upwards of two years, unbroken by a single night on shore, Mr. Johnson, on the vessel touching at New Zealand, abandoned her and resided along with the cannibals, thirty miles up the Hokiawga river, on the lookout for a chance passage to Australia, whence after a further detention, he embarked in a brig for Valparaiso, eventually reaching Buenos Ayres, by crossing with a guide the Andes and the Pampas. This was followed by extensive travel in the leading countries of Europe. Thus far his life appears to liave been one that few would have quarrelled with, but now the picture was about to change.

He invested quite a little fortune, bequeathed him during his travels by his grandfather, in the New Zealand Land Company's unfortunate Cook Straits Settlements. It would be a long story, but one by no means dishonouring to Mr. Johnson to show how, for upwards of eight years, the principal share in upholding the Port Nicholson Settlement, fell to him. It must suffice to say, that after almost incredible trials and disappointments, he had finally to retire with the loss of two-thirds of his capital and fearfully worn, into the bargain.

After his return to England, he farmed for a few years in Pembrokeshire, whence at the suggestion of his then still surviving mother, he removed with his four boys to Lower Canada, now the Province of Quebec. He is still living on the farm near Lennox Ville, acquired by him some thirty years since, with his eldest son who looks after the cultivation of the land. He still continues to be a welcome contributor to the local press, and his writings are regarded with favour. As a citizen and colonist Mr. Johnson holds a high rank.


  1. Hi Helena

    I thought that you might enjoy the article at:

    Incidentally, do you have an e-copy of 'Lashed to the Mizzen' that you could let me have? I will be writing an article soon about Frank on my website 'Keith Johnson Wellington NZ' at

    You can contact me by email at:

    Best regards Keith

  2. Wonderful, Helena, I enjoyed reading that very much!
    My Great grandfather took the first cinema-graphic to India, where my grandfather was then born.
    He was also an inventor, and invented, among other thing, the Mirror-ball, also known now as the Disco ball.
    It's fascinating learning about the past endeavors of our ancestors, isn't it!!


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