ODE ON THE LOSS OF THE STEAMSHIP "Pacific," November 4th, 1875.
Nanaimo, British Columbia: Printed by Geo. Norris, Free Press Office, 1875 [but actually 19--]. Unidicated reprint. 32mo, 13.2 x 10 cm. 4 pp, stapled, in beige wrappers. Printed on laid paper. Soft crease to front cover, else fine. "A poem commemorating Victoria's greatest maritime tragedy. The Pacific steaming out of Victoria and carrying 280 passengers and crew, collided with a large sailing ship and sank off Cape Flattery. Only two lives were saved." - Whale, Hudson's Bay to Haro Strait 990. Lowther, Bibliography of British Columbia 484. Watters p. 137 (BVaU only). Rev. Mason, an Anglican clergyman, was a graduate of Oriel College, Oxford. He came to British Columbia in 1873 to join Bishop Hills, serving in New Westminster 1873-79, and in Nanaimo 1875-79. He was at the time of original publication Rector of St. Paul's Church, Nanaimo, and he returned to England in 1881. While in British Columbia he published this and one other verse chapbook - LO, THE POOR INDIAN (Victoria, 1875). The original of the present little pamphlet appears to have been the third literary book published in British Columbia, and the first in Nanaimo. The only "poet" to have previously been published in BC was obscure Scottish prospector James Anderson, who had printed a broadside SAWNEY'S LETTERS: OR, CARIBOO RHYMES, in Barkerville in 1866 (no copy of the first printing is known). LO, THE POOR INDIAN, was read before the Mechanics' Literary Institute, Victoria, 28 October, 1875 (Lowther 485), and I assume it preceded the present title. A small stash of these turned up out west about 20 years ago and were thought at the time to be "real". Subsequently, it has been learned that this unindicated reset reprint was done sometime in the earlier half of the 20th century. These copies used period typefaces, but are a bit different typographically from the genuine article. Also, the real ones are a bit taller (14 cm per Lowther). The old bookseller had already thanked whatever gods there may be when he found this little gem and was only saved from sin when he pondered the freshness of the staples, combined with the usual worry when an old pamphlet is too clean, and he thus went sniffing down the trail. The real thing, by the way, is pretty rare.