In 1899, Arthur E. Leslie, a coloured man, was a music and mathematics teacher in Savannah Sound, Eleuthera. Leslie was an accomplished pianist and poet. By 1905, he was appointed a Justice of the Peace.
In 1905, Arthur E. Leslie was appointed Justice of the Peace for Savannah Sound, Eleuthera——- The Nassau Guardian and Bahama Island’s Advocate and Intelligencer SATURDAY 24 JUNE 1905
The 20th Century would give birth to the Modern Bahamas
As those last few hours of the year 1899 came to an end, Arthur E. Leslie penned ‘THE NEW YEAR’.
To be alive, during a year in which a century changes, was once considered a very lucky thing indeed. Much hope placed in a coming new year; even more is anticipated for a new century.
For The Bahamas, a new 20th century brought tumultuous change. New industries would be formed. Incredible wealth would be made. Personalities will be born, who would come to wield unimaginable power and influence in the Islands. Substantial infrastructural expansion would lead to new communities, population growth, immigration and the creation of a modern tourist economy. Political independence would dawn. Education became accessible. A new middle class would be emerge, while an economic gap creates a permanent poverty underclass. The Bahamas would begin a long search for itself, as it tried to define its place in a new modern century.
All of it began, in those last few hours, of 1899
THE NEW YEAR
Another year is nearly gone,
Its close is almost here;
Sadly I watch the sun’s last rays,
Watch out the dying year.
And now the sun has sunk to rest,
Behind the distant hills;
How, as I gaze, that glorious sight,
My heart with wonder fills.
Now o’oer the shore, now o’er the sea,
His purple mantle falls;
And far-off objects, one by one,
Melt into tiny balls.
As darkness falls on all around,
When all is hushed and still,
Then, visions rise before by sight,
They come and go at will.
Dear faces that I long to see
Smile on me from the past,
And in their smiles how I forget
The shadows round me cast.
Sweet music that I love to hear,
Floats through the silent air;
Again I am a little child
Without a single care.
Alas! the waking comes too soon
These are but little dreams;
In real life, a little spark
That for a moment gleams.
But courage, heart! tho’ dreary here
Thy lonely path may be,
Though all unknown the future lies
In dim obscurity.
A Hand shall lead you if you will
Shall guide your feet aright,
An Arm support you when you faint,
Defend you in the fight.
Then take this Hand this opening year,
And to it surely cling;
‘Twill make this life no more to you
A vain and aimless thing.
With heart made grateful by the thought
That I have much to cheer,
I’ll bid adieu to all that’s sad,
And welcome this New Year.
A. E. L.