Tuesday, 12 March 2013

John Dunning

John Dunning
[Freemason and mayor of Middlesbrough 1875, †1885, from

Hail to thee, Dunning! I have watched thee long,—
At first with some suspicion; for I heard
Thy name oft utter’d in a scornful mood
By men who might have known thy actions well,
And who, for aught I knew, judged thee aright. 5
A public servant thou, I knew full well
It was impossible thou couldst procure
The praise of all men, live where’er thou would,
And whatever thou might feel to be
The just and true. Yet I at times had doubt 10
Within my myself if thou wert the right man
In the right place. We met, and when I saw
Thy open countenance, I felt this man
May make mistakes, as men are prone to do,
And will be while they wear ‘this mortal coil’, 15
As Hamlet terms it; but he who owns that face
And cheery voice, is not the worst of men,
For there is not alone intelligence
To raise him from a humble sphere of Life,
But his the heart to feel another’s woe, 20
Like a true Mason; one into whose ear
The burden’d heart can pour its sufferings,
And not find mere relief, but sympathy.
And I rejoice, dear Brother of the Craft
We both do love, although it be not mine 25
To rise to wealth and honours, that for thou,
And such as thee, at times there is a road,
With patient plodding from the miller’s cart
Even to the civic chair. Thou art no fool,
Therefore can look with thankfulness, not pride, 30
Back on the gradual steps by which thou won
Thy present honours: and we value most
Those honours that our neighbours can confer,—
They who have known us from our infancy;
They who have play’d with us in boyish games;

They who in manhood have stood foot to foot
With us, or e’en against us, in the fight
For daily bread and other wants,
And who at last may bear us to the tomb.
Train’d in the peaceful principles of Friends, 40
With the pure precepts of Freemasonry,
With justice thou will mingle Mercy too,
Or thou art false to both.
To love thy friends
Is just; but so would any man who lives,
Not wholly base. To love and help thy foes, 45
This is still higher wisdom: yet wilt thou them
Accomplish it, or I mistake my man.
Prove, honest John! that thou canst bear the load
Of wealth and honours,—harder far to bear
Than poverty in humblest English cot. 50
Show that to friend and foe thou art the same
In thy strict justice and thy boundless love,
And men will ask, Is this the man we once
So far mistook? And evermore they may
Judge others with more justice.
Not to please 55
John Dunning’s ears pen I my simple lay,
But to encourage others from his rise
To droop not in despair, though men at times
May seem to do them wrong: for Nemesis,
Or soon or late, will make the rugged smooth, 60
Punish all guilt, reward all actions good,
And show the wrongs we have to bear in life
Are blessings in disguise, for some wise end,
Though we perceive it not when most we smart.
Thy life, John Dunning, will cheer many a one 65
To struggle on, through tempest and through sheen,
When thou and I repose beneath the sod.
Hence I rejoice to see the civic chair
Reach’d by a “Brother of the Mystic Tie,”
To whom the golden precepts of the Craft 70
Are nor merely random words, just learnt by rote,
A parrot could rehearse:* but things to do
To benefit mankind. So mote it be!
* “Words learnt by rote a parrot could rehearse,
But talking is not always to converse.” Cowper.

George Markham Tweddell
Blank verse [in M/S], pp. 67-70.

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