Cried Age to Youth: 'Abate your speed!
The distance hither's brief indeed.'
But Youth pressed on without delay
The shout had reached but half the way
A Year's Casualties
Slain as they lay by the secret, slow,
Pitiless hand of an unseen foe,
Two score thousand old soldiers have crossed
The river to join the loved and lost.
In the space of a year their spirits fled,
Silent and white, to the camp of the dead.
One after one, they fall asleep
And the pension agents awake to weep,
And orphaned statesmen are loud in their wail
As the souls flit by on the evening gale.
O Father of Battles, pray give us release
From the horrors of peace, the horrors of peace!
Fly, heedless stranger, from this spot accurst,
Where rests in Satan an offender first
In point of greatness, as in point of time,
Of new-school rascals who proclaim their crime.
Skilled with a frank loquacity to blab
The dark arcana of each mighty grab,
And famed for lying from his early youth,
He sinned secure behind a veil of truth.
Some lock their lips upon their deeds; some write
A damning record and conceal from sight;
Some, with a lust of speaking, die to quell it.
His way to keep a secret was to tell it.
Because that I am weak, my love, and ill,
I cannot follow the impatient feet
Of my desire, but sit and watch the beat
Of the unpitying pendulum fulfill
The hour appointed for the air to thrill
And brighten at your coming. O my sweet,
The tale of moments is at last complete
The tryst is broken on the gusty hill!
O lady, faithful-footed, loyal-eyed,
The long leagues silence me; yet doubt me not;
Think rather that the clock and sun have lied
And all too early, you have sought the spot.
For lo! despair has darkened all the light,
And till I see your face it still is night.
One Of The Unfair Sex
She stood at the ticket-seller's
Serenely removing her glove,
While hundreds of strugglers and yellers,
And some that were good at a shove,
Were clustered behind her like bats in
a cave and unwilling to speak their love.
At night she still stood at that window
Endeavoring her money to reach;
The crowds right and left, how they sinned-O,
How dreadfully sinned in their speech!
Ten miles either way they extended
their lines, the historians teach.
She stands there to-day-legislation
Has failed to remove her. The trains
No longer pull up at that station;
And over the ghastly remains
Of the army that waited and died of
old age fall the snows and the rains.
'The world is dull,' I cried in my despair:
'Its myths and fables are no longer fair.
'Roll back thy centuries, O Father Time.
To Greece transport me in her golden prime.
'Give back the beautiful old Gods again
The sportive Nymphs, the Dryad's jocund train,
'Pan piping on his reeds, the Naiades,
The Sirens singing by the sleepy seas.
'Nay, show me but a Gorgon and I'll dare
To lift mine eyes to her peculiar hair
'(The fatal horrors of her snaky pate,
That stiffen men into a stony state)
'And die-erecting, as my soul goes hence,
A statue of myself, without expense.'
Straight as I spoke I heard the voice of Fate:
'Look up, my lad, the Gorgon sisters wait.'
Raising my eyes, I saw Medusa stand,
Stheno, Euryale, on either hand.
I gazed unpetrified and unappalled
The girls had aged and were entirely bald!
Something In The Papers
'What's in the paper?' Oh, it's dev'lish dull:
There's nothing happening at all-a lull
After the war-storm. Mr. Someone's wife
Killed by her lover with, I think, a knife.
A fire on Blank Street and some babies-one,
Two, three or four, I don't remember, done
To quite a delicate and lovely brown.
A husband shot by woman of the town
The same old story. Shipwreck somewhere south.
The crew, all saved-or lost. Uncommon drouth
Makes hundreds homeless up the River Mud
Though, come to think, I guess it was a flood.
'T is feared some bank will burst-or else it won't
They always burst, I fancy-or they don't;
Who cares a cent?-the banker pays his coin
And takes his chances: bullet in the groin
But that's another item-suicide
Fool lost his money (serve him right) and died.
Heigh-ho! there's noth-Jerusalem! what's this:
Tom Jones has failed! My God, what an abyss
Of ruin!-owes me seven hundred clear!
Was ever such a damned disastrous year!
At The Eleventh Hour
As through the blue expanse he skims
On joyous wings, the late
Frank Hutchings overtakes Miss Sims,
Both bound for Heaven's high gate.
In life they loved and (God knows why
A lover so should sue)
He slew her, on the gallows high
Died pious-and they flew.
Her pinions were bedraggled, soiled
And torn as by a gale,
While his were bright-all freshly oiled
The feathers of his tail.
Her visage, too, was stained and worn
And menacing and grim;
His sweet and mild-you would have sworn
That _she_ had murdered _him_.
When they'd arrived before the gate
He said to her: 'My dear,
'Tis hard once more to separate,
But _you_ can't enter here.
'For you, unluckily, were sent
So quickly to the grave
You had no notice to repent,
Nor time your soul to save.'
''Tis true,' said she, 'and I should wail
In Hell even now, but I
Have lingered round the county jail
To see a Christian die.'
A Countess (so they tell the tale)
Who dwelt of old in Arno's vale,
Where ladies, even of high degree,
Know more of love than of A.B.C,
Came once with a prodigious bribe
Unto the learned village scribe,
That most discreet and honest man
Who wrote for all the lover clan,
Nor e'er a secret had betrayed
Save when inadequately paid.
'Write me,' she sobbed-'I pray thee do
A book about the Prince di Giu
A book of poetry in praise
Of all his works and all his ways;
The godlike grace of his address,
His more than woman's tenderness,
His courage stern and lack of guile,
The loves that wantoned in his smile.
So great he was, so rich and kind,
I'll not within a fortnight find
His equal as a lover. O,
My God! I shall be drowned in woe!'
'What! Prince di Giu has died!' exclaimed
The honest man for letters famed,
The while he pocketed her gold;
'Of what'?-if I may be so bold.'
Fresh storms of tears the lady shed:
'I stabbed him fifty times,' she said.
'O son of mine age, these eyes lose their fire:
Be eyes, I pray, to thy dying sire.'
'O father, fear not, for mine eyes are bright
I read through a millstone at dead of night.'
'My son, O tell me, who are those men,
Rushing like pigs to the feeding-pen?'
'Welcomers they of a statesman grand.
They'll shake, and then they will pocket; his hand.'
'Sagacious youth, with the wondrous eye,
They seem to throw up their headgear. Why?'
'Because they've thrown up their hands until, O,
They're so tired!-and dinners they've none to throw.'
'My son, my son, though dull are mine ears,
I hear a great sound like the people's cheers.'
'He's thanking them, father, with tears in his eyes,
For giving him lately that fine surprise.'
'My memory fails as I near mine end;
How _did_ they astonish their grateful friend?'
'By letting him buy, like apples or oats,
With that which has made him so good, the votes
Which make him so wise and grand and great.
Now, father, please die, for 'tis growing late.'
As sweet as the look of a lover
Saluting the eyes of a maid
That blossom to blue as the maid
Is ablush to the glances above her,
The sunshine is gilding the glade
And lifting the lark out of shade.
Sing therefore high praises, and therefore
Sing songs that are ancient as gold,
Of earth in her garments of gold;
Nor ask of their meaning, nor wherefore
They charm as of yore, for behold!
The Earth is as fair as of old.
Sing songs of the pride of the mountains,
And songs of the strength of the seas,
And the fountains that fall to the seas
From the hands of the hills, and the fountains
That shine in the temples of trees,
In valleys of roses and bees.
Sing songs that are dreamy and tender,
Of slender Arabian palms,
And shadows that circle the palms,
Where caravans out of the splendor,
Are kneeling in blossoms and balms,
In islands of infinite calms.
Barbaric, O Man, was thy runing
When mountains were stained as with wine
By the dawning of Time, and as wine
Were the seas, yet its echoes are crooning,
Achant in the gusty pine
And the pulse of the poet's line.
The Yearly Lie
A merry Christmas? Prudent, as I live!
You wish me something that you need not give.
Merry or sad, what does it signify?
To you 't is equal if I laugh, or die.
Your hollow greeting, like a parrot's jest,
Finds all its meaning in the ear addressed.
Why 'merry' Christmas? Faith, I'd rather frown
Than grin and caper like a tickled clown.
When fools are merry the judicious weep;
The wise are happy only when asleep.
A present? Pray you give it to disarm
A man more powerful to do you harm.
'T was not your motive? Well, I cannot let
You pay for favors that you'll never get.
Perish the savage custom of the gift,
Founded in terror and maintained in thrift!
What men of honor need to aid their weal
They purchase, or, occasion serving, steal.
Go celebrate the day with turkeys, pies,
Sermons and psalms, and, for the children, lies.
Let Santa Claus descend again the flue;
If Baby doubt it, swear that it is true.
'A lie well stuck to is as good as truth,'
And God's too old to legislate for youth.
Hail Christmas! On my knees and fowl I fall:
For greater grace and better gravy call.
_Vive l'Humbug!_-that's to say, God bless us all!
'Why, Goldenson, you're looking very well.'
Said Death as, strolling through the County Jail,
He entered that serene assassin's cell
And hung his hat and coat upon a nail.
'I think that life in this secluded spot
Agrees with men of your trade, does it not?'
'Well, yes,' said Goldenson, 'I can't complain:
Life anywhere-provided it is mine-
Agrees with me; but I observe with pain
That still the people murmur and repine.
It hurts their sense of harmony, no doubt,
To see a persecuted man grow stout.'
'O no, 'tis not your growing stout,' said Death,
'Which makes these malcontents complain and scold
They like you to be, somehow, scant of breath.
What they object to is your growing old.
And-though indifferent to lean or fat
I don't myself entirely favor _that_.'
With brows that met above the orbs beneath,
And nose that like a soaring hawk appeared,
And lifted lip, uncovering his teeth,
The Mamikellikiller coldly sneered:
'O, so you don't! Well, how will you assuage
Your spongy passion for the blood of age?'
Death with a clattering convulsion, drew
His coat on, hatted his unmeated pow,
Unbarred the door and, stepping partly through,
Turned and made answer: 'I will _show_ you how.
I'm going to the Bench you call Supreme
And tap the old women who sit there and dream.'
High Lord of Liars, Pickering, to thee
Let meaner mortals bend the subject knee!
Thine is mendacity's imperial crown,
Alike by genius, action and renown.
No man, since words could set a cheek aflame
E'er lied so greatly with so little shame!
O bad old man, must thy remaining years
Be passed in leading idiots by their ears
Thine own (which Justice, if she ruled the roast
Would fasten to the penitential post)
Still wagging sympathetically-hung
the same rocking-bar that bears thy tongue?
Thou dog of darkness, dost thou hope to stay
Time's dread advance till thou hast had thy day?
Dost think the Strangler will release his hold
Because, forsooth, some fibs remain untold?
No, no-beneath thy multiplying load
Of years thou canst not tarry on the road
To dabble in the blood thy leaden feet
Have pressed from bosoms that have ceased to beat
Of reputations margining thy way,
Nor wander from the path new truth to slay.
Tell to thyself whatever lies thou wilt,
Catch as thou canst at pennies got by guilt
Straight down to death this blessed year thou'lt sink,
Thy life washed out as with a wave of ink.
But if this prophecy be not fulfilled,
And thou who killest patience be not killed;
If age assail in vain and vice attack
Only by folly to be beaten back;
Yet Nature can this consolation give:
The rogues who die not are condemned to live!
A Poet's Father
Welcker, I'm told, can boast a father great
And honored in the service of the State.
Public Instruction all his mind employs
He guides its methods and its wage enjoys.
Prime Pedagogue, imperious and grand,
He waves his ferule o'er a studious land
Where humming youth, intent upon the page,
Thirsting for knowledge with a noble rage,
Drink dry the whole Pierian spring and ask
To slake their fervor at his private flask.
Arrested by the terror of his frown,
The vaulting spit-ball drops untimely down;
The fly impaled on the tormenting pin
Stills in his awful glance its dizzy din;
Beneath that stern regard the chewing-gum
Which writhed and squeaked between the teeth is dumb;
Obedient to his will the dunce-cap flies
To perch upon the brows of the unwise;
The supple switch forsakes the parent wood
To settle where 'twill do the greatest good,
Puissant still, as when of old it strove
With Solomon for spitting on the stove
Learned Professor, variously great,
Guide, guardian, instructor of the State
Quick to discern and zealous to correct
The faults which mar the public intellect
From where of Siskiyou the northern bound
Is frozen eternal to the sunless ground
To where in San Diego's torrid clime
The swarthy Greaser swelters in his grime
Beneath your stupid nose can you not see
The dunce whom once you dandled on your knee?
O mighty master of a thousand schools,
Stop teaching wisdom, or stop breeding fools.
A Social Call
Well, well, old Father Christmas, is it you,
With your thick neck and thin pretense of virtue?
Less redness in the nose-nay, even some blue
Would not, I think, particularly hurt you.
When seen close to, not mounted in your car,
You look the drunkard and the pig you are.
No matter, sit you down, for I am not
In a gray study, as you sometimes find me.
Merry? O, no, nor wish to be, God wot,
But there's another year of pain behind me.
That's something to be thankful for: the more
There are behind, the fewer are before.
I know you, Father Christmas, for a scamp,
But Heaven endowed me at my soul's creation
With an affinity to every tramp
That walks the world and steals its admiration.
For admiration is like linen left
Upon the line-got easiest by theft.
Good God! old man, just think of it! I've stood,
With brains and honesty, some five-and-twenty
Long years as champion of all that's good,
And taken on the mazzard thwacks a-plenty.
Yet now whose praises do the people bawl?
Those of the fellows whom I live to maul!
Why, this is odd!-the more I try to talk
Of you the more my tongue grows egotistic
To prattle of myself! I'll try to balk
Its waywardness and be more altruistic.
So let us speak of others-how they sin,
And what a devil of a state they 're in!
That's all I have to say. Good-bye, old man.
Next year you possibly may find me scolding
Or miss me altogether: Nature's plan
Includes, as I suppose, a final folding
Of these poor empty hands. Then dropp a tear
To think they'll never box another ear.
Lucifer Of The Torch
O Reverend Ravlin, once with sounding lung
You shook the bloody banner of your tongue,
Urged all the fiery boycotters afield
And swore you'd rather follow them than yield,
Alas, how brief the time, how great the change!
Your dogs of war are ailing all of mange;
The loose leash dangles from your finger-tips,
But the loud 'havoc' dies upon your lips.
No spirit animates your feeble clay
You'd rather yield than even run away.
In vain McGlashan labors to inspire
Your pallid nostril with his breath of fire:
The light of battle's faded from your face
You keep the peace, John Chinaman his place.
O Ravlin, what cold water, thrown by whom
Upon the kindling Boycott's ruddy bloom,
Has slaked your parching blood-thirst and allayed
The flash and shimmer of your lingual blade?
Your salary-your salary's unpaid!
In the old days, when Christ with scourges drave
The Ravlins headlong from the Temple's nave,
Each bore upon his pelt the mark divine
The Boycott's red authenticating sign.
Birth-marked forever in surviving hurts,
Glowing and smarting underneath their shirts,
Successive Ravlins have revenged their shame
By blowing every coal and flinging flame.
And you, the latest (may you be the last!)
Endorsed with that hereditary, vast
And monstrous rubric, would the feud prolong,
Save that cupidity forbids the wrong.
In strife you preferably pass your days
But brawl no moment longer than it pays.
By shouting when no more you can incite
The dogs to put the timid sheep to flight
To load, for you, the brambles with their fleece,
You cackle concord to congenial geese,
Put pinches of goodwill upon their tails
And pluck them with a touch that never fails.
'Twas a serious person with locks of gray
And a figure like a crescent;
His gravity, clearly, had come to stay,
But his smile was evanescent.
He stood and conversed with a neighbor, and
With (likewise) a high falsetto;
And he stabbed his forefinger into his hand
As if it had been a stiletto.
His words, like the notes of a tenor drum,
Came out of his head unblended,
And the wonderful altitude of some
Was exceptionally splendid.
While executing a shake of the head,
With the hand, as it were, of a master,
This agonizing old gentleman said:
''Twas a truly sad disaster!
'Four hundred and ten longs and shorts in all,
Went down'-he paused and snuffled.
A single tear was observed to fall,
And the old man's drum was muffled.
'A very calamitous year,' he said.
And again his head-piece hoary
He shook, and another pearl he shed,
As if he wept _con amore.
'O lacrymose person,' I cried, 'pray why
Should these failures so affect you?
With speculators in stocks no eye
That's normal would ever connect you.'
He focused his orbs upon mine and smiled
In a sinister sort of manner.
'Young man,' he said, 'your words are wild:
I spoke of the steamship 'Hanner.'
'For she has went down in a howlin' squall,
And my heart is nigh to breakin'
Four hundred and ten longs and shorts in all
Will never need undertakin'!
'I'm in the business myself,' said he,
'And you've mistook my expression;
For I uses the technical terms, you see,
Employed in my perfession.'
That old undertaker has joined the throng
On the other side of the River,
But I'm still unhappy to think I'm a 'long,'
And a tape-line makes me shiver.
The New Enoch
Enoch Arden was an able
Seaman; hear of his mishap
Not in wild mendacious fable,
As 't was told by t' other chap;
For I hold it is a youthful
Indiscretion to tell lies,
And the writer that is truthful
Has the reader that is wise.
Enoch Arden, able seaman,
On an isle was cast away,
And before he was a freeman
Time had touched him up with gray.
Long he searched the fair horizon,
Seated on a mountain top;
Vessel ne'er he set his eyes on
That would undertake to stop.
Seeing that his sight was growing
Dim and dimmer, day by day,
Enoch said he must be going.
So he rose and went away-
Went away and so continued
Till he lost his lonely isle:
Mr. Arden was so sinewed
He could row for many a mile.
Compass he had not, nor sextant,
To direct him o'er the sea:
Ere 't was known that he was extant,
At his widow's home was he.
When he saw the hills and hollows
And the streets he could but know,
He gave utterance as follows
To the sentiments below:
'Blast my tarry toplights! (shiver,
Too, my timbers!) but, I say,
W'at a larruk to diskiver,
I have lost me blessid way!
'W'at, alas, would be my bloomin'
Fate if Philip now I see,
Which I lammed?-or my old 'oman,
Which has frequent basted _me_?'
Scenes of childhood swam around him
At the thought of such a lot:
In a swoon his Annie found him
And conveyed him to her cot.
'T was the very house, the garden,
Where their honeymoon was passed:
'T was the place where Mrs. Arden
Would have mourned him to the last.
Ah, what grief she'd known without him!
Now what tears of joy she shed!
Enoch Arden looked about him:
'Shanghaied!'-that was all he said.
A Study In Gray
I step from the door with a shiver
(This fog is uncommonly cold)
And ask myself: What did I give her?
The maiden a trifle gone-old,
With the head of gray hair that was gold.
Ah, well, I suppose 'twas a dollar,
And doubtless the change is correct,
Though it's odd that it seems so much smaller
Than what I'd a right to expect.
But you pay when you dine, I reflect.
So I walk up the street-'twas a saunter
A score of years back, when I strolled
From this door; and our talk was all banter
Those days when her hair was of gold,
And the sea-fog less searching and cold.
I button my coat (for I'm shaken,
And fevered a trifle, and flushed
With the wine that I ought to have taken,)
Time was, at this coat I'd have blushed,
Though truly, 'tis cleverly brushed.
A score? Why, that isn't so very
Much time to have lost from a life.
There's reason enough to be merry:
I've not fallen down in the strife,
But marched with the drum and the fife.
If Hope, when she lured me and beckoned,
Had pushed at my shoulders instead,
And Fame, on whose favors I reckoned,
Had laureled the worthiest head,
I could garland the years that are dead.
Believe me, I've held my own, mostly
Through all of this wild masquerade;
But somehow the fog is more ghostly
To-night, and the skies are more grayed,
Like the locks of the restaurant maid.
If ever I'd fainted and faltered
I'd fancy this did but appear;
But the climate, I'm certain, has altered
Grown colder and more austere
Than it was in that earlier year.
The lights, too, are strangely unsteady,
That lead from the street to the quay.
I think they'll go out-and I'm ready
To follow. Out there in the sea
The fog-bell is calling to me.
Substance Versus Shadow
So, gentle critics, you would have me tilt,
Not at the guilty, only just at Guilt!
Spare the offender and condemn Offense,
And make life miserable to Pretense!
'Whip Vice and Folly-that is satire's use
But be not personal, for _that's_ abuse;
Nor e'er forget what, 'like a razor keen,
Wounds with a touch that's neither felt nor seen.''
Well, friends, I venture, destitute of awe,
To think that razor but an old, old saw,
A trifle rusty; and a wound, I'm sure,
That's felt not, seen not, one can well endure.
Go to! go to!-you're as unfitted quite
To give advice to writers as to write.
I find in Folly and in Vice a lack
Of head to hit, and for the lash no back;
Whilst Pixley has a pow that's easy struck,
And though good Deacon Fitch (a Fitch for luck!)
Has none, yet, lest he go entirely free,
God gave to him a corn, a heel to me.
He, also, sets his face (so like a flint
The wonder grows that Pickering doesn't skin't)
With cold austerity, against these wars
On scamps-'tis Scampery that _he_ abhors!
Behold advance in dignity and state
Grave, smug, serene, indubitably great
Stanford, philanthropist! One hand bestows
In alms what t'other one as justice owes.
Rascality attends him like a shade,
But closes, woundless, o'er my baffled blade,
Its limbs unsevered, spirit undismayed.
Faith! I'm for something can be made to feel,
If, like Pelides, only in the heel.
The fellow's self invites assault; his crimes
Will each bear killing twenty thousand times!
Anon Creed Haymond-but the list is long
Of names to point the moral of my song.
Rogues, fools, impostors, sycophants, they rise,
They foul the earth and horrify the skies
With Mr. Huntington (sole honest man
In all the reek of that rapscallion clan)
Denouncing Theft as hard as e'er he can!
In Upper San Francisco
I heard that Heaven was bright and fair,
And politicians dwelt not there.
'Twas said by knowing ones that they
Were in the Elsewhere-so to say.
So, waking from my last long sleep,
I took my place among the sheep.
I passed the gate-Saint Peter eyed
Me sharply as I stepped inside.
He thought, as afterward I learned,
That I was Chris, the Unreturned.
The new Jerusalem-ah me,
It was a sorry sight to see!
The mansions of the blest were there,
And mostly they were fine and fair;
But O, such streets!-so deep and wide,
And all unpaved, from side to side!
And in a public square there grew
A blighted tree, most sad to view.
From off its trunk the bark was ripped
Its very branches all were stripped!
An angel perched upon the fence
With all the grace of indolence.
'Celestial bird,' I cried, in pain,
'What vandal wrought this wreck? Explain.'
He raised his eyelids as if tired:
'What is a Vandal?' he inquired.
'This is the Tree of Life. 'Twas stripped
By Durst and Siebe, who have shipped
'The bark across the Jordan-see?
And sold it to a tannery.'
'Alas,' I sighed, 'their old-time tricks!
That pavement, too, of golden bricks
'They've gobbled that?' But with a scowl,
'You greatly wrong them,' said the fowl:
''Twas Gilleran did that, I fear-
Head of the Street Department here.'
'What! what!' cried I-'you let such chaps
Come here? You've Satan, too, perhaps.'
'We had him, yes, but off he went,
Yet showed some purpose to repent;
'But since your priests and parsons filled
The place with those their preaching killed'
(Here Siebe passed along with Durst,
Psalming as if their lungs would burst)
'He swears his foot no more shall press
('Tis cloven, anyhow, I guess)
'Our soil. In short, he's out on strike
But devils are not all alike.'
Lo! Gilleran came down the street,
Pressing the soil with broad, flat feet!
Hard by an excavated street one sat
In solitary session on the sand;
And ever and anon he spake and spat
And spake again-a yellow skull in hand,
To which that retrospective Pioneer
Addressed the few remarks that follow here:
'Who are you? Did you come 'der blains agross,'
Or 'Horn aroundt'? In days o' '49
Did them thar eye-holes see the Southern Cross
From the Antarctic Sea git up an' shine?
Or did you drive a bull team 'all the way
From Pike,' with Mr. Joseph Bowers?-say!
'Was you in Frisco when the water came
Up to Montgum'ry street? and do you mind
The time when Peters run the faro game
Jim Peters from old Mississip-behind
Wells Fargo's, where he subsequent was bust
By Sandy, as regards both bank and crust?
'I wonder was you here when Casey shot
James King o' William? And did you attend
The neck-tie dance ensuin'? _I_ did not,
But j'ined the rush to Go Creek with my friend
Ed'ard McGowan; for we was resolved
In sech diversions not to be involved.
'Maybe I knowed you; seems to me I've seed
Your face afore. I don't forget a face,
But names I disremember-I'm that breed
Of owls. I'm talking some'at into space
An' maybe my remarks is too derned free,
Seein' yer name is unbeknown to me.
'Ther' was a time, I reckon, when I knowed
Nigh onto every dern galoot in town.
That was as late as '50. Now she's growed
Surprisin'! Yes, me an' my pardner, Brown,
Was wide acquainted. If ther' was a cuss
We didn't know, the cause was-he knowed us.
'Maybe you had that claim adjoinin' mine
Up thar in Calaveras. Was it you
To which Long Mary took a mighty shine,
An' throwed squar' off on Jake the Kangaroo?
I guess if she could see ye now she'd take
Her chance o' happiness along o' Jake.
'You ain't so purty now as you was then:
Yer eyes is nothin' but two prospect holes,
An' women which are hitched to better men
Would hardly for sech glances damn their souls,
As Lengthie did. By G--! I _hope_ it's you,
For' _(kicks the skull)_ 'I'm Jake the Kangaroo.'
The Lost Colonel
''Tis a woeful yarn,' said the sailor man bold
Who had sailed the northern-lakes
'No woefuler one has ever been told
Exceptin' them called 'fakes.''
'Go on, thou son of the wind and fog,
For I burn to know the worst!'
But his silent lip in a glass of grog
Was dreamily immersed.
Then he wiped it on his sleeve and said:
'It's never like that I drinks
But what of the gallant gent that's dead
I truly mournful thinks.
'He was a soldier chap-leastways
As 'Colonel' he was knew;
An' he hailed from some'rs where they raise
A grass that's heavenly blue.
'He sailed as a passenger aboard
The schooner 'Henery Jo.'
O wild the waves and galeses roared,
Like taggers in a show!
'But he sat at table that calm an' mild
As if he never had let
His sperit know that the waves was wild
An' everlastin' wet!-
'Jest set with a bottle afore his nose,
As was labeled 'Total Eclipse'
(The bottle was) an' he frequent rose
A glass o' the same to his lips.
'An' he says to me (for the steward slick
Of the 'Henery Jo' was I):
'This sailor life's the very old Nick
On the lakes it's powerful dry!'
'I says: 'Aye, aye, sir, it beats the Dutch.
I hopes you'll outlast the trip.'
But if I'd been him-an' I said as much
I'd 'a' took a faster ship.
'His laughture, loud an' long an' free,
Rang out o'er the tempest's roar.
'You're an elegant reasoner,' says he,
'But it's powerful dry ashore!''
'O mariner man, why pause and don
A look of so deep concern?
Have another glass-go on, go on,
For to know the worst I burn.'
'One day he was leanin' over the rail,
When his footing some way slipped,
An' (this is the woefulest part o' my tale),
He was accidental unshipped!
'The empty boats was overboard hove,
As he swum in the 'Henery's wake';
But 'fore we had 'bouted ship he had drove
From sight on the ragin' lake!'
'And so the poor gentleman was drowned
And now I'm apprised of the worst.'
'What! him? 'Twas an hour afore he was found
In the yawl-stone dead o' thirst!'
Fame [one Thousand Years I Slept Beneath The Sod]
One thousand years I slept beneath the sod,
My sleep in 1901 beginning,
Then, by the action of some scurvy god
Who happened then to recollect my sinning,
I was revived and given another inning.
On breaking from my grave I saw a crowd
A formless multitude of men and women,
Gathered about a ruin. Clamors loud
I heard, and curses deep enough to swim in;
And, pointing at me, one said: 'Let's put _him_ in.'
Then each turned on me with an evil look,
As in my ragged shroud I stood and shook.
'Nay, good Posterity,' I cried, 'forbear!
If that's a jail I fain would be remaining
Outside, for truly I should little care
To catch my death of cold. I'm just regaining
The life lost long ago by my disdaining
To take precautions against draughts like those
That, haply, penetrate that cracked and splitting
Old structure.' Then an aged wight arose
From a chair of state in which he had been sitting,
And with preliminary coughing, spitting
And wheezing, said: ''T is not a jail, we're sure,
Whate'er it may have been when it was newer.
''T was found two centuries ago, o'ergrown
With brush and ivy, all undoored, ungated;
And in restoring it we found a stone
Set here and there in the dilapidated
And crumbling frieze, inscribed, in antiquated
Big characters, with certain uncouth names,
Which we conclude were borne of old by awful
Rapscallions guilty of all sinful games
Vagrants engaged in purposes unlawful,
And orators less sensible than jawful.
So each ten years we add to the long row
A name, the most unworthy that we know.'
'But why,' I asked, 'put _me_ in?' He replied:
'You look it'-and the judgment pained me greatly;
Right gladly would I then and there have died,
But that I'd risen from the grave so lately.
But on examining that solemn, stately
Old ruin I remarked: 'My friend, you err
The truth of this is just what I expected.
This building in its time made quite a stir.
I lived (was famous, too) when 't was erected.
The names here first inscribed were much respected.
This is the Hall of Fame, or I'm a stork,
And this goat pasture once was called New York.'
I'd long been dead, but I returned to earth.
Some small affairs posterity was making
A mess of, and I came to see that worth
Received its dues. I'd hardly finished waking,
The grave-mould still upon me, when my eye
Perceived a statue standing straight and high.
'Twas a colossal figure-bronze and gold
Nobly designed, in attitude commanding.
A toga from its shoulders, fold on fold,
Fell to the pedestal on which 'twas standing.
Nobility it had and splendid grace,
And all it should have had-except a face!
It showed no features: not a trace nor sign
Of any eyes or nose could be detected
On the smooth oval of its front no line
Where sites for mouths are commonly selected.
All blank and blind its faulty head it reared.
Let this be said: 'twas generously eared.
Seeing these things, I straight began to guess
For whom this mighty image was intended.
'The head,' I cried, 'is Upton's, and the dress
Is Parson Bartlett's own.' True, _his_ cloak ended
Flush with his lowest vertebra, but no
Sane sculptor ever made a toga so.
Then on the pedestal these words I read:
'_Erected Eighteen Hundred Ninety-seven_'
(Saint Christofer! how fast the time had sped!
Of course it naturally does in Heaven)
'_To_ --' (here a blank space for the name began)
'_The Nineteenth Century's Great Foremost Man_!'
'_Completed_' the inscription ended, '_in
The Year Three Thousand_'-which was just arriving.
By Jove! thought I, 'twould make the founders grin
To learn whose fame so long has been surviving
To read the name posterity will place
In that blank void, and view the finished face.
Even as I gazed, the year Three Thousand came,
And then by acclamation all the people
Decreed whose was our century's best fame;
Then scaffolded the statue like a steeple,
To make the likeness; and the name was sunk
Deep in the pedestal's metallic trunk.
Whose was it? Gentle reader, pray excuse
The seeming rudeness, but I can't consent to
Be so forehanded with important news.
'Twas neither yours nor mine-let that content you.
If not, the name I must surrender, which,
Upon a dead man's word, was George K. Fitch!
An Unmerry Christmas
Christmas, you tell me, comes but once a year.
One place it never comes, and that is here.
Here, in these pages no good wishes spring,
No well-worn greetings tediously ring
For Christmas greetings are like pots of ore:
The hollower they are they ring the more.
Here shall no holly cast a spiny shade,
Nor mistletoe my solitude invade,
No trinket-laden vegetable come,
No jorum steam with Sheolate of rum.
No shrilling children shall their voices rear.
Hurrah for Christmas without Christmas cheer!
No presents, if you please-I know too well
What Herbert Spencer, if he didn't tell
(I know not if he did) yet might have told
Of present-giving in the days of old,
When Early Man with gifts propitiated
The chiefs whom most he doubted, feared and hated,
Or tendered them in hope to reap some rude
Advantage from the taker's gratitude.
Since thus the Gift its origin derives
(How much of its first character survives
You know as well as I) my stocking's tied,
My pocket buttoned-with my soul inside.
I save my money and I save my pride.
Dinner? Yes; thank you-just a human body
Done to a nutty brown, and a tear toddy
To give me appetite; and as for drink,
About a half a jug of blood, I think,
Will do; for still I love the red, red wine,
Coagulating well, with wrinkles fine
Fretting the satin surface of its flood.
O tope of kings-divine Falernian-blood!
Duse take the shouting fowls upon the limb,
The kneeling cattle and the rising hymn!
Has not a pagan rights to be regarded-
His heart assaulted and his ear bombarded
With sentiments and sounds that good old Pan
Even in his demonium would ban?
No, friends-no Christmas here, for I have sworn
To keep my heart hard and my knees unworn.
Enough you have of jester, player, priest:
I as the skeleton attend your feast,
In the mad revelry to make a lull
With shaken finger and with bobbing skull.
However you my services may flout,
Philosophy disdain and reason doubt,
I mean to hold in customary state,
My dismal revelry and celebrate
My yearly rite until the crack o' doom,
Ignore the cheerful season's warmth and bloom
And cultivate an oasis of gloom.
To The Fool-Killer
Ah, welcome, welcome! Sit you down, old friend;
Your pipe I'll serve, your bottle I'll attend.
'Tis many a year since you and I have known
Society more pleasant than our own
In our brief respites from excessive work
I pointing out the hearts for you to dirk.
What have you done since lately at this board
We canvassed the deserts of all the horde
And chose what names would please the people best,
Engraved on coffin-plates-what bounding breast
Would give more satisfaction if at rest?
But never mind-the record cannot fail:
The loftiest monuments will tell the tale.
I trust ere next we meet you'll slay the chap
Who calls old Tyler 'Judge' and Merry 'Cap'
Calls John P. Irish 'Colonel' and John P.,
Whose surname Jack-son speaks his pedigree,
By the same title-men of equal rank
Though one is belly all, and one all shank,
Showing their several service in the fray:
One fought for food and one to get away.
I hope, I say, you'll kill the 'title' man
Who saddles one on every back he can,
Then rides it from Beersheba to Dan!
Another fool, I trust, you will perform
Your office on while my resentment's warm:
He shakes my hand a dozen times a day
If, luckless, I so often cross his way,
Though I've three senses besides that of touch,
To make me conscious of a fool too much.
Seek him, friend Killer, and your purpose make
Apparent as his guilty hand you take,
And set him trembling with a solemn: 'Shake!'
But chief of all the addle-witted crew
Conceded by the Hangman's League to you,
The fool (his dam's acquainted with a knave)
Whose fluent pen, of his no-brain the slave,
Strews notes of introduction o'er the land
And calls it hospitality-his hand
May palsy seize ere he again consign
To me his friend, as I to Hades mine!
Pity the wretch, his faults howe'er you see,
Whom A accredits to his victim, B.
Like shuttlecock which battledores attack
(One speeds it forward, one would drive it back)
The trustful simpleton is twice unblest-
A rare good riddance, an unwelcome guest.
The glad consignor rubs his hands to think
How duty is commuted into ink;
The consignee (his hands he cannot rub
He has the man upon them) mutters: 'Cub!'
And straightway plans to lose him at the Club.
You know, good Killer, where this dunce abides
The secret jungle where he writes and hides
Though no exploring foot has e'er upstirred
His human elephant's exhaustless herd.
Go, bring his blood! We'll drink it-letting fall
A due libation to the gods of Gall.
On second thought, the gods may have it all.
A Ballad Of Pikeville
Down in Southern Arizona where the Gila monster thrives,
And the 'Mescalero,' gifted with a hundred thousand lives,
Every hour renounces one of them by drinking liquid flame
The assassinating wassail that has given him his name;
Where the enterprising dealer in Caucasian hair is seen
To hold his harvest festival upon his village-green,
While the late lamented tenderfoot upon the plain is spread
With a sanguinary circle on the summit of his head;
Where the cactuses (or cacti) lift their lances in the sun,
And incautious jackass-rabbits come to sorrow as they run,
Lived a colony of settlers-old Missouri was the State
Where they formerly resided at a prehistoric date.
Now, the spot that had been chosen for this colonizing scheme
Was as waterless, believe me, as an Arizona stream.
The soil was naught but ashes, by the breezes driven free,
And an acre and a quarter were required to sprout a pea.
So agriculture languished, for the land would not produce,
And for lack of water, whisky was the beverage in use-
Costly whisky, hauled in wagons many a weary, weary day,
Mostly needed by the drivers to sustain them on their way.
Wicked whisky! King of Evils! Why, O, why did God create
Such a curse and thrust it on us in our inoffensive state?
Once a parson came among them, and a holy man was he;
With his ailing stomach whisky wouldn't anywise agree;
So he knelt upon the _mesa_ and he prayed with all his chin
That the Lord would send them water or incline their hearts to gin.
Scarcely was the prayer concluded ere an earthquake shook the land,
And with copious effusion springs burst out on every hand!
Merrily the waters gurgled, and the shock which gave them birth
Fitly was by some declared a temperance movement of the earth.
Astounded by the miracle, the people met that night
To celebrate it properly by some religious rite;
And 'tis truthfully recorded that before the moon had sunk
Every man and every woman was devotionally drunk.
A half a standard gallon (says history) per head
Of the best Kentucky prime was at that ceremony shed.
O, the glory of that country! O, the happy, happy folk.
By the might of prayer delivered from Nature's broken yoke!
Lo! the plains to the horizon all are yellowing with rye,
And the corn upon the hill-top lifts its banners to the sky!
Gone the wagons, gone the drivers, and the road is grown to grass,
Over which the incalescent Bourbon did aforetime pass.
Pikeville (that's the name they've given, in their wild, romantic way,
To that irrigation district) now distills, statistics say,
Something like a hundred gallons, out of each recurrent crop,
To the head of population-and consumes it, every drop!
The Van Nessiad
From end to end, thine avenue, Van Ness,
Rang with the cries of battle and distress!
Brave lungs were thundering with dreadful sound
And perspiration smoked along the ground!
Sing, heavenly muse, to ears of mortal clay,
The meaning, cause and finish of the fray.
Great Porter Ashe (invoking first the gods,
Who signed their favor with assenting nods
That snapped off half their heads-their necks grown dry
Since last the nectar cup went circling by)
Resolved to build a stable on his lot,
His neighbors fiercely swearing he should not.
Said he: 'I build that stable!' 'No, you don't,'
Said they. 'I can!' 'You can't!' 'I will!' 'You won't!'
'By heaven!' he swore; 'not only will I build,
But purchase donkeys till the place is filled!'
'Needless expense,' they sneered in tones of ice
'The owner's self, if lodged there, would suffice.'
For three long months the awful war they waged:
With women, women, men with men engaged,
While roaring babes and shrilling poodles raged!
Jove, from Olympus, where he still maintains
His ancient session (with rheumatic pains
Touched by his long exposure) marked the strife,
Interminable but by loss of life;
For malediction soon exhausts the breath
If not, old age itself is certain death.
Lo! he holds high in heaven the fatal beam;
A golden pan depends from each, extreme;
This feels of Porter's fate the downward stress,
That bears the destiny of all Van Ness.
Alas! the rusted scales, their life all gone,
Deliver judgment neither pro nor con:
The dooms hang level and the war goes on.
With a divine, contemptuous disesteem
Jove dropped the pans and kicked, himself, the beam:
Then, to decide the strife, with ready wit,
The nickel that he did not care for it
Twirled absently, remarking: 'See it spin:
Head, Porter loses; tail, the others win.'
The conscious nickel, charged with doom, spun round,
Portentously and made a ringing sound,
Then, staggering beneath its load of fate,
Sank rattling, died at last and lay in state.
Jove scanned the disk and then, as is his wont,
Raised his considering orbs, exclaiming: 'Front!'
With leisurely alacrity approached
The herald god, to whom his mind he broached:
'In San Francisco two belligerent Powers,
Such as contended round great Ilion's towers,
Fight for a stable, though in either class
There's not a horse, and but a single ass.
Achilles Ashe, with formidable jaw
Assails a Trojan band with fierce hee-haw,
Firing the night with brilliant curses. They
With dark vituperation gloom the day.
Fate, against which nor gods nor men compete,
Decrees their victory and his defeat.
With haste, good Mercury, betake thee hence
And salivate him till he has no sense!'
Sheer downward shot the messenger afar,
Trailing a splendor like a falling star!
With dimming lustre through the air he burned,
Vanished, nor till another sun returned.
The sovereign of the gods superior smiled,
Beaming benignant, fatherly and mild:
'Is Destiny's decree performed, my lad?
And has he now no sense?' 'Ah, sire, he never had.'
The Legend Of Immortal Truth
A bear, having spread him a notable feast,
Invited a famishing fox to the place.
'I've killed me,' quoth he, 'an edible beast
As ever distended the girdle of priest
With 'spread of religion,' or 'inward grace.'
To my den I conveyed her,
I bled her and flayed her,
I hung up her skin to dry;
Then laid her naked, to keep her cool,
On a slab of ice from the frozen pool;
And there we will eat her-you and I.'
The fox accepts, and away they walk,
Beguiling the time with courteous talk.
You'd ne'er have suspected, to see them smile,
The bear was thinking, the blessed while,
How, when his guest should be off his guard,
With feasting hard,
He'd give him a 'wipe' that would spoil his style.
You'd never have thought, to see them bow,
The fox was reflecting deeply how
He would best proceed, to circumvent
His host, and prig
The entire pig
Or other bird to the same intent.
When Strength and Cunning in love combine,
Be sure 't is to more than merely dine.
The while these biters ply the lip,
A mile ahead the muse shall skip:
The poet's purpose she best may serve
Inside the den-if she have the nerve.
Behold! laid out in dark recess,
A ghastly goat in stark undress,
Pallid and still on her gelid bed,
And indisputably very dead.
Her skin depends from a couple of pins
And here the most singular statement begins;
For all at once the butchered beast,
With easy grace for one deceased,
Upreared her head,
Looked round, and said,
Very distinctly for one so dead:
'The nights are sharp, and the sheets are thin:
I find it uncommonly cold herein!'
I answer not how this was wrought:
All miracles surpass my thought.
They're vexing, say you? and dementing?
Peace, peace! they're none of my inventing.
But lest too much of mystery
Embarrass this true history,
I'll not relate how that this goat
Stood up and stamped her feet, to inform'em
With-what's the word?-I mean, to warm'em;
Nor how she plucked her rough _capote
From off the pegs where Bruin threw it,
And o'er her quaking body drew it;
Nor how each act could so befall:
I'll only swear she did them all;
Then lingered pensive in the grot,
As if she something had forgot,
Till a humble voice and a voice of pride
Were heard, in murmurs of love, outside.
Then, like a rocket set aflight,
She sprang, and streaked it for the light!
Ten million million years and a day
Have rolled, since these events, away;
But still the peasant at fall of night,
Belated therenear, is oft affright
By sounds of a phantom bear in flight;
A breaking of branches under the hill;
The noise of a going when all is still!
And hens asleep on the perch, they say,
Cackle sometimes in a startled way,
As if they were dreaming a dream that mocks
The lope and whiz of a fleeting fox!
Half we're taught, and teach to youth,
And praise by rote,
Is not, but merely stands for, truth.
So of my goat:
She's merely designed to represent
The truth-'immortal' to this extent:
Dead she may be, and skinned-_frappe
Hid in a dreadful den away;
Prey to the Churches-(any will do,
Except the Church of me and you.)
The simplest miracle, even then,
Will get her up and about again.
The Passing Show
I know not if it was a dream. I viewed
A city where the restless multitude,
Between the eastern and the western deep
Had reared gigantic fabrics, strong and rude.
Colossal palaces crowned every height;
Towers from valleys climbed into the light;
O'er dwellings at their feet, great golden domes
Hung in the blue, barbarically bright.
But now, new-glimmering to-east, the day
Touched the black masses with a grace of gray,
Dim spires of temples to the nation's God
Studding high spaces of the wide survey.
Well did the roofs their solemn secret keep
Of life and death stayed by the truce of sleep,
Yet whispered of an hour when sleepers wake,
The fool to hope afresh, the wise to weep.
The gardens greened upon the builded hills
Above the tethered thunders of the mills
With sleeping wheels unstirred to service yet
By the tamed torrents and the quickened rills.
A hewn acclivity, reprieved a space,
Looked on the builder's blocks about his base
And bared his wounded breast in sign to say:
'Strike! 'tis my destiny to lodge your race.
''Twas but a breath ago the mammoth browsed
Upon my slopes, and in my caves I housed
Your shaggy fathers in their nakedness,
While on their foemen's offal they caroused.'
Ships from afar afforested the bay.
Within their huge and chambered bodies lay
The wealth of continents; and merrily sailed
The hardy argosies to far Cathay.
Beside the city of the living spread-
Strange fellowship!-the city of the dead;
And much I wondered what its humble folk,
To see how bravely they were housed, had said.
Noting how firm their habitations stood,
Broad-based and free of perishable wood-
How deep in granite and how high in brass
The names were wrought of eminent and good,
I said: 'When gold or power is their aim,
The smile of beauty or the wage of shame,
Men dwell in cities; to this place they fare
When they would conquer an abiding fame.'
From the red East the sun-a solemn rite-
Crowned with a flame the cross upon a height
Above the dead; and then with all his strength
Struck the great city all aroar with light!
I know not if it was a dream. I came
Unto a land where something seemed the same
That I had known as 'twere but yesterday,
But what it was I could not rightly name.
It was a strange and melancholy land,
Silent and desolate. On either hand
Lay waters of a sea that seemed as dead,
And dead above it seemed the hills to stand.
Grayed all with age, those lonely hills-ah me,
How worn and weary they appeared to be!
Between their feet long dusty fissures clove
The plain in aimless windings to the sea.
One hill there was which, parted from the rest,
Stood where the eastern water curved a-west.
Silent and passionless it stood. I thought
I saw a scar upon its giant breast.
The sun with sullen and portentous gleam
Hung like a menace on the sea's extreme;
Nor the dead waters, nor the far, bleak bars
Of cloud were conscious of his failing beam.
It was a dismal and a dreadful sight,
That desert in its cold, uncanny light;
No soul but I alone to mark the fear
And imminence of everlasting night!
All presages and prophecies of doom
Glimmered and babbled in the ghastly gloom,
And in the midst of that accursèd scene
A wolf sat howling on a broken tomb.
The Weather Wight
The way was long, the hill was steep,
My footing scarcely I could keep.
The night enshrouded me in gloom,
I heard the ocean's distant boom
The trampling of the surges vast
Was borne upon the rising blast.
'God help the mariner,' I cried,
'Whose ship to-morrow braves the tide!'
Then from the impenetrable dark
A solemn voice made this remark:
'For this locality-warm, bright;
Barometer unchanged; breeze light.'
'Unseen consoler-man,' I cried,
'Whoe'er you are, where'er abide,
'Thanks-but my care is somewhat less
For Jack's, than for my own, distress.
'Could I but find a friendly roof,
Small odds what weather were aloof.
'For he whose comfort is secure
Another's woes can well endure.'
'The latch-string's out,' the voice replied,
'And so's the door-jes' step inside.'
Then through the darkness I discerned
A hovel, into which I turned.
Groping about beneath its thatch,
I struck my head and then a match.
A candle by that gleam betrayed
Soon lent paraffinaceous aid.
A pallid, bald and thin old man
I saw, who this complaint began:
'Through summer suns and winter snows
I sets observin' of my toes.
'I rambles with increasin' pain
The path of duty, but in vain.
'Rewards and honors pass me by
No Congress hears this raven cry!'
Filled with astonishment, I spoke:
'Thou ancient raven, why this croak?
'With observation of your toes
What Congress has to do, Heaven knows!
'And swallow me if e'er I knew
That one could sit and ramble too!'
To answer me that ancient swain
Took up his parable again:
'Through winter snows and summer suns
A Weather Bureau here I runs.
'I calls the turn, and can declare
Jes' when she'll storm and when she'll fair.
'Three times a day I sings out clear
The probs to all which wants to hear.
'Some weather stations run with light
Frivolity is seldom right.
'A scientist from times remote,
In Scienceville my birth is wrote.
'And when I h'ist the 'rainy' sign
Jes' take your clo'es in off the line.'
'Not mine, O marvelous old man,
The methods of your art to scan,
'Yet here no instruments there be-
Nor 'ometer nor 'scope I see.
'Did you (if questions you permit)
At the asylum leave your kit?'
That strange old man with motion rude
Grew to surprising altitude.
'Tools (and sarcazzems too) I scorns-
I tells the weather by my corns.
'No doors and windows here you see-
The wind and m'isture enters free.
'No fires nor lights, no wool nor fur
Here falsifies the tempercher.
'My corns unleathered I expose
To feel the rain's foretellin' throes.
'No stockin' from their ears keeps out
The comin' tempest's warnin' shout.
'Sich delicacy some has got
They know next summer's to be hot.
'This here one says (for that he's best):
'Storm center passin' to the west.'
'This feller's vitals is transfixed
With frost for Janawary sixt'.
'One chap jes' now is occy'pied
In fig'rin on next Fridy's tide.
'I've shaved this cuss so thin and true
He'll spot a fog in South Peru.
'Sech are my tools, which ne'er a swell
Observatory can excel.
'By long a-studyin' their throbs
I catches onto all the probs.'
Much more, no doubt, he would have said,
But suddenly he turned and fled;
For in mine eye's indignant green
Lay storms that he had not foreseen,
Till all at once, with silent squeals,
His toes 'caught on' and told his heels.
The King of Scotland, years and years ago,
Convened his courtiers in a gallant row
And thus addressed them:
'Gentle sirs, from you
Abundant counsel I have had, and true:
What laws to make to serve the public weal;
What laws of Nature's making to repeal;
What old religion is the only true one,
And what the greater merit of some new one;
What friends of yours my favor have forgot;
Which of your enemies against me plot.
In harvests ample to augment my treasures,
Behold the fruits of your sagacious measures!
The punctual planets, to their periods just,
Attest your wisdom and approve my trust.
Lo! the reward your shining virtues bring:
The grateful placemen bless their useful king!
But while you quaff the nectar of my favor
I mean somewhat to modify its flavor
By just infusing a peculiar dash
Of tonic bitter in the calabash.
And should you, too abstemious, disdain it,
Egad! I'll hold your noses till you drain it!
'You know, you dogs, your master long has felt
A keen distemper in the royal pelt
A testy, superficial irritation,
Brought home, I fancy, from some foreign nation.
For this a thousand simples you've prescribed
Unguents external, draughts to be imbibed.
You've plundered Scotland of its plants, the seas
You've ravished, and despoiled the Hebrides,
To brew me remedies which, in probation,
Were sovereign only in their application.
In vain, and eke in pain, have I applied
Your flattering unctions to my soul and hide:
Physic and hope have been my daily food
I've swallowed treacle by the holy rood!
'Your wisdom, which sufficed to guide the year
And tame the seasons in their mad career,
When set to higher purposes has failed me
And added anguish to the ills that ailed me.
Nor that alone, but each ambitious leech
His rivals' skill has labored to impeach
By hints equivocal in secret speech.
For years, to conquer our respective broils,
We've plied each other with pacific oils.
In vain: your turbulence is unallayed,
My flame unquenched; your rioting unstayed;
My life so wretched from your strife to save it
That death were welcome did I dare to brave it.
With zeal inspired by your intemperate pranks,
My subjects muster in contending ranks.
Those fling their banners to the startled breeze
To champion some royal ointment; these
The standard of some royal purge display
And 'neath that ensign wage a wasteful fray!
Brave tongues are thundering from sea to sea,
Torrents of sweat roll reeking o'er the lea!
My people perish in their martial fear,
And rival bagpipes cleave the royal ear!
'Now, caitiffs, tremble, for this very hour
Your injured sovereign shall assert his power!
Behold this lotion, carefully compound
Of all the poisons you for me have found
Of biting washes such as tan the skin,
And drastic drinks to vex the parts within.
What aggravates an ailment will produce-
I mean to rub you with this dreadful juice!
Divided counsels you no more shall hatch
At last you shall unanimously scratch.
Kneel, villains, kneel, and doff your shirts-God bless us!
They'll seem, when you resume them, robes of Nessus!'
The sovereign ceased, and, sealing what he spoke,
From Arthur's Seat confirming thunders broke.
The conscious culprits, to their fate resigned,
Sank to their knees, all piously inclined.
This act, from high Ben Lomond where she floats,
The thrifty goddess, Caledonia, notes.
Glibly as nimble sixpence, down she tilts
Headlong, and ravishes away their kilts,
Tears off each plaid and all their shirts discloses,
Removes each shirt and their broad backs exposes.
The king advanced-then cursing fled amain
Dashing the phial to the stony plain
(Where't straight became a fountain brimming o'er,
Whence Father Tweed derives his liquid store)
For lo! already on each back _sans_ stitch
The red sign manual of the Rosy Witch!
The Royal Jester
Once on a time, so ancient poets sing,
There reigned in Godknowswhere a certain king.
So great a monarch ne'er before was seen:
He was a hero, even to his queen,
In whose respect he held so high a place
That none was higher,-nay, not even the ace.
He was so just his Parliament declared
Those subjects happy whom his laws had spared;
So wise that none of the debating throng
Had ever lived to prove him in the wrong;
So good that Crime his anger never feared,
And Beauty boldly plucked him by the beard;
So brave that if his army got a beating
None dared to face him when he was retreating.
This monarch kept a Fool to make his mirth,
And loved him tenderly despite his worth.
Prompted by what caprice I cannot say,
He called the Fool before the throne one day
And to that jester seriously said:
'I'll abdicate, and you shall reign instead,
While I, attired in motley, will make sport
To entertain your Majesty and Court.'
'T was done and the Fool governed. He decreed
The time of harvest and the time of seed;
Ordered the rains and made the weather clear,
And had a famine every second year;
Altered the calendar to suit his freak,
Ordaining six whole holidays a week;
Religious creeds and sacred books prepared;
Made war when angry and made peace when scared.
New taxes he inspired; new laws he made;
Drowned those who broke them, who observed them, flayed,
In short, he ruled so well that all who'd not
Been starved, decapitated, hanged or shot
Made the whole country with his praises ring,
Declaring he was every inch a king;
And the High Priest averred 't was very odd
If one so competent were not a god.
Meantime, his master, now in motley clad,
Wore such a visage, woeful, wan and sad,
That some condoled with him as with a brother
Who, having lost a wife, had got another.
Others, mistaking his profession, often
Approached him to be measured for a coffin.
For years this highborn jester never broke
The silence-he was pondering a joke.
At last, one day, in cap-and-bells arrayed,
He strode into the Council and displayed
A long, bright smile, that glittered in the gloom
Like a gilt epithet within a tomb.
Posing his bauble like a leader's staff,
To give the signal when (and why) to laugh,
He brought it down with peremptory stroke
And simultaneously cracked his joke!
I can't repeat it, friends. I ne'er could school
Myself to quote from any other fool:
A jest, if it were worse than mine, would start
My tears; if better, it would break my heart.
So, if you please, I'll hold you but to state
That royal Jester's melancholy fate.
The insulted nation, so the story goes,
Rose as one man-the very dead arose,
Springing indignant from the riven tomb,
And babes unborn leapt swearing from the womb!
All to the Council Chamber clamoring went,
By rage distracted and on vengeance bent.
In that vast hall, in due disorder laid,
The tools of legislation were displayed,
And the wild populace, its wrath to sate,
Seized them and heaved them at the Jester's pate.
Mountains of writing paper; pools and seas
Of ink, awaiting, to become decrees,
Royal approval-and the same in stacks
Lay ready for attachment, backed with wax;
Pens to make laws, erasers to amend them;
With mucilage convenient to extend them;
Scissors for limiting their application,
And acids to repeal all legislation-
These, flung as missiles till the air was dense,
Were most offensive weapons of offense,
And by their aid the Fool was nigh destroyed.
They ne'er had been so harmlessly employed.
Whelmed underneath a load of legal cap,
His mouth egurgitating ink on tap,
His eyelids mucilaginously sealed,
His fertile head by scissors made to yield
Abundant harvestage of ears, his pelt,
In every wrinkle and on every welt,
Quickset with pencil-points from feet to gills
And thickly studded with a pride of quills,
The royal Jester in the dreadful strife
Was made (in short) an editor for life!
An idle tale, and yet a moral lurks
In this as plainly as in greater works.
I shall not give it birth: one moral here
Would die of loneliness within a year.
Goddess of Liberty! O thou
Whose tearless eyes behold the chain,
And look unmoved upon the slain,
Eternal peace upon thy brow,-
Before thy shrine the races press,
Thy perfect favor to implore-
The proudest tyrant asks no more,
The ironed anarchist no less.
Thine altar-coals that touch the lips
Of prophets kindle, too, the brand
By Discord flung with wanton hand
Among the houses and the ships.
Upon thy tranquil front the star
Burns bleak and passionless and white,
Its cold inclemency of light
More dreadful than the shadows are.
Thy name we do not here invoke
Our civic rites to sanctify:
Enthroned in thy remoter sky,
Thou heedest not our broken yoke.
Thou carest not for such as we:
Our millions die to serve the still
And secret purpose of thy will.
They perish-what is that to thee?
The light that fills the patriot's tomb
Is not of thee. The shining crown
Compassionately offered down
To those who falter in the gloom,
And fall, and call upon thy name,
And die desiring-'tis the sign
Of a diviner love than thine,
Rewarding with a richer fame.
To him alone let freemen cry
Who hears alike the victor's shout,
The song of faith, the moan of doubt,
And bends him from his nearer sky.
God of my country and my race!
So greater than the gods of old-
So fairer than the prophets told
Who dimly saw and feared thy face,-
Who didst but half reveal thy will
And gracious ends to their desire,
Behind the dawn's advancing fire
Thy tender day-beam veiling still,-
To whom the unceasing suns belong,
And cause is one with consequence,-
To whose divine, inclusive sense
The moan is blended with the song,-
Whose laws, imperfect and unjust,
Thy just and perfect purpose serve:
The needle, howsoe'er it swerve,
Still warranting the sailor's trust,-
God, lift thy hand and make us free
To crown the work thou hast designed.
O, strike away the chains that bind
Our souls to one idolatry!
The liberty thy love hath given
We thank thee for. We thank thee for
Our great dead fathers' holy war
Wherein our manacles were riven.
We thank thee for the stronger stroke
Ourselves delivered and incurred
When-thine incitement half unheard-
The chains we riveted we broke.
We thank thee that beyond the sea
Thy people, growing ever wise,
Turn to the west their serious eyes
And dumbly strive to be as we.
As when the sun's returning flame
Upon the Nileside statue shone,
And struck from the enchanted stone
The music of a mighty fame,
Let Man salute the rising day
Of Liberty, but not adore.
'Tis Opportunity-no more-
A useful, not a sacred, ray.
It bringeth good, it bringeth ill,
As he possessing shall elect.
He maketh it of none effect
Who walketh not within thy will.
Give thou more or less, as we
Shall serve the right or serve the wrong.
Confirm our freedom but so long
As we are worthy to be free.
But when (O, distant be the time!)
Majorities in passion draw
Insurgent swords to murder Law,
And all the land is red with crime;
Or-nearer menace!-when the band
Of feeble spirits cringe and plead
To the gigantic strength of Greed,
And fawn upon his iron hand;-
Nay, when the steps to state are worn
In hollows by the feet of thieves,
And Mammon sits among the sheaves
And chuckles while the reapers mourn:
Then stay thy miracle!-replace
The broken throne, repair the chain,
Restore the interrupted reign
And veil again thy patient face.
Lo! here upon the world's extreme
We stand with lifted arms and dare
By thine eternal name to swear
Our country, which so fair we deem-
Upon whose hills, a bannered throng,
The spirits of the sun display
Their flashing lances day by day
And hear the sea's pacific song-
Shall be so ruled in right and grace
That men shall say: 'O, drive afield
The lawless eagle from the shield,
And call an angel to the place!'
Mr. Fink's Debating Donkey
Of a person known as Peters I will humbly crave your leave
An unusual adventure into narrative to weave
Mr. William Perry Peters, of the town of Muscatel,
A public educator and an orator as well.
Mr. Peters had a weakness which, 'tis painful to relate,
Was a strong predisposition to the pleasures of debate.
He would foster disputation wheresoever he might be;
In polygonal contention none so happy was as he.
'Twas observable, however, that the exercises ran
Into monologue by Peters, that rhetorical young man.
And the Muscatelian rustics who assisted at the show,
By involuntary silence testified their overthrow-
Mr. Peters, all unheedful of their silence and their grief,
Still effacing every vestige of erroneous belief.
O, he was a sore affliction to all heretics so bold
As to entertain opinions that he didn't care to hold.
One day-'t was in pursuance of a pedagogic plan
For the mental elevation of Uncultivated Man
Mr. Peters, to his pupils, in dismissing them, explained
That the Friday evening following (unless, indeed, it rained)
Would be signalized by holding in the schoolhouse a debate
Free to all who their opinions might desire to ventilate
On the question, 'Which is better, as a serviceable gift,
Speech or hearing, from barbarity the human mind to lift?'
The pupils told their fathers, who, forehanded always, met
At the barroom to discuss it every evening, dry or wet,
They argued it and argued it and spat upon the stove,
And the non-committal 'barkeep' on their differences throve.
And I state it as a maxim in a loosish kind of way:
You'll have the more to back your word the less you have to say.
Public interest was lively, but one Ebenezer Fink
Of the Rancho del Jackrabbit, only seemed to sit and think.
On the memorable evening all the men of Muscatel
Came to listen to the logic and the eloquence as well
All but William Perry Peters, whose attendance there, I fear.
Was to wreak his ready rhetoric upon the public ear,
And prove (whichever side he took) that hearing wouldn't lift
The human mind as ably as the other, greater gift.
The judges being chosen and the disputants enrolled,
The question he proceeded _in extenso_ to unfold:
'_Resolved_-The sense of hearing lifts the mind up out of reach
Of the fogs of error better than the faculty of speech.'
This simple proposition he expounded, word by word,
Until they best understood it who least perfectly had heard.
Even the judges comprehended as he ventured to explain
The impact of a spit-ball admonishing in vain.
Beginning at a period before Creation's morn,
He had reached the bounds of tolerance and Adam yet unborn.
As down the early centuries of pre-historic time
He tracked important principles and quoted striking rhyme,
And Whisky Bill, prosaic soul! proclaiming him a jay,
Had risen and like an earthquake, 'reeled unheededly away,'
And a late lamented cat, when opportunity should serve,
Was preparing to embark upon her parabolic curve,
A noise arose outside-the door was opened with a bang
And old Ebenezer Fink was heard ejaculating 'G'lang!'
Straight into that assembly gravely marched without a wink
An ancient ass-the property it was of Mr. Fink.
Its ears depressed and beating time to its infestive tread,
Silent through silence moved amain that stately quadruped!
It stopped before the orator, and in the lamplight thrown
Upon its tail they saw that member weighted with a stone.
Then spake old Ebenezer: 'Gents, I heern o' this debate
On w'ether v'ice or y'ears is best the mind to elevate.
Now 'yer's a bird ken throw some light uponto that tough theme:
He has 'em both, I'm free to say, oncommonly extreme.
He wa'n't invited for to speak, but he will not refuse
(If t'other gentleman ken wait) to exposay his views.'
Ere merriment or anger o'er amazement could prevail;
He cut the string that held the stone on that canary's tail.
Freed from the weight, that member made a gesture of delight,
Then rose until its rigid length was horizontal quite.
With lifted head and level ears along his withers laid,
Jack sighed, refilled his lungs and then-to put it mildly-brayed!
He brayed until the stones were stirred in circumjacent hills,
And sleeping women rose and fled, in divers kinds of frills.
'T is said that awful bugle-blast-to make the story brief-
Wafted William Perry Peters through the window, like a leaf!
Such is the tale. If anything additional occurred
'Tis not set down, though, truly, I remember to have heard
That a gentleman named Peters, now residing at Soquel,
A considerable distance from the town of Muscatel,
Is opposed to education, and to rhetoric, as well.
Three Kinds Of A Rogue
Sharon, ambitious of immortal shame,
Fame's dead-wall daubed with his illustrious name
Served in the Senate, for our sins, his time,
Each word a folly and each vote a crime;
Law for our governance well skilled to make
By knowledge gained in study how to break;
Yet still by the presiding eye ignored,
Which only sought him when too loud he snored.
Auspicious thunder!-when he woke to vote
He stilled his own to cut his country's throat;
That rite performed, fell off again to sleep,
While statesmen ages dead awoke to weep!
For sedentary service all unfit,
By lying long disqualified to sit,
Wasting below as he decayed aloft,
His seat grown harder as his brain grew soft,
He left the hall he could not bring away,
And grateful millions blessed the happy day!
Whate'er contention in that hall is heard,
His sovereign State has still the final word:
For disputatious statesmen when they roar
Startle the ancient echoes of his snore,
Which from their dusty nooks expostulate
And close with stormy clamor the debate.
To low melodious thunders then they fade;
Their murmuring lullabies all ears invade;
Peace takes the Chair; the portal Silence keeps;
No motion stirs the dark Lethean deeps
Washoe has spoken and the Senate sleeps.
Lo! the new Sharon with a new intent,
Making no laws, but keen to circumvent
The laws of Nature (since he can't repeal)
That break his failing body on the wheel.
As Tantalus again and yet again
The elusive wave endeavors to restrain
To slake his awful thirst, so Sharon tries
To purchase happiness that age denies;
Obtains the shadow, but the substance goes,
And hugs the thorn, but cannot keep the rose;
For Dead Sea fruits bids prodigally, eats,
And then, with tardy reformation-cheats.
Alert his faculties as three score years
And four score vices will permit, he nears
Dicing with Death-the finish of the game,
And curses still his candle's wasting flame,
The narrow circle of whose feeble glow
Dims and diminishes at every throw.
Moments his losses, pleasures are his gains,
Which even in his grasp revert to pains.
The joy of grasping them alone remains.
Ring up the curtain and the play protract!
Behold our Sharon in his last mad act.
With man long warring, quarreling with God,
He crouches now beneath a woman's rod
Predestined for his back while yet it lay
Closed in an acorn which, one luckless day,
He stole, unconscious of its foetal twig,
From the scant garner of a sightless pig.
With bleeding shoulders pitilessly scored,
He bawls more lustily than once he snored.
The sympathetic Comstocks droop to hear,
And Carson river sheds a viscous tear,
Which sturdy tumble-bugs assail amain,
With ready thrift, and urge along the plain.
The jackass rabbit sorrows as he lopes;
The sage-brush glooms along the mountain slopes;
In rising clouds the poignant alkali,
Tearless itself, makes everybody cry.
Washoe canaries on the Geiger Grade
Subdue the singing of their cavalcade,
And, wiping with their ears the tears unshed,
Grieve for their family's unlucky head.
Virginia City intermits her trade
And well-clad strangers walk her streets unflayed.
Nay, all Nevada ceases work to weep
And the recording angel goes to sleep.
But in his dreams his goose-quill's creaking fount
Augments the debits in the long account.
And still the continents and oceans ring
With royal torments of the Silver King!
Incessant bellowings fill all the earth,
Mingled with inextinguishable mirth.
He roars, men laugh, Nevadans weep, beasts howl,
Plash the affrighted fish, and shriek the fowl!
With monstrous din their blended thunders rise,
Peal upon peal, and brawl along the skies,
Startle in hell the Sharons as they groan,
And shake the splendors of the great white throne!
Still roaring outward through the vast profound,
The spreading circles of receding sound
Pursue each other in a failing race
To the cold confines of eternal space;
There break and die along that awful shore
Which God's own eyes have never dared explore
Dark, fearful, formless, nameless evermore!
Look to the west! Against yon steely sky
Lone Mountain rears its holy cross on high.
About its base the meek-faced dead are laid
To share the benediction of its shade.
With crossed white hands, shut eyes and formal feet,
Their nights are innocent, their days discreet.
Sharon, some years, perchance, remain of life
Of vice and greed, vulgarity and strife;
And then-God speed the day if such His will
You'll lie among the dead you helped to kill,
And be in good society at last,
Your purse unsilvered and your face unbrassed.
The Town Of Dae
Swains and maidens, young and old,
You to me this tale have told.
Where the squalid town of Dae
Irks the comfortable sea,
Spreading webs to gather fish,
As for wealth we set a wish,
Dwelt a king by right divine,
Sprung from Adam's royal line,
Town of Dae by the sea,
Divers kinds of kings there be.
Name nor fame had Picklepip:
Ne'er a soldier nor a ship
Bore his banners in the sun;
Naught knew he of kingly sport,
And he held his royal court
Under an inverted tun.
Love and roses, ages through,
Bloom where cot and trellis stand;
Never yet these blossoms grew
Never yet was room for two
In a cask upon the strand.
So it happened, as it ought,
That his simple schemes he wrought
Through the lagging summer's day
In a solitary way.
So it happened, as was best,
That he took his nightly rest
With no dreadful incubus
This way eyed and that way tressed,
Featured thus, and thus, and thus,
Lying lead-like on a breast
By cares of State enough oppressed.
Yet in dreams his fancies rude
Claimed a lordly latitude.
Town of Dae by the sea,
Dreamers mate above their state
And waken back to their degree.
Once to cask himself away
He prepared at close of day.
As he tugged with swelling throat
At a most unkingly coat
Not to get it off, but on,
For the serving sun was gone
Passed a silk-appareled sprite
Toward her castle on the height,
Seized and set the garment right.
Turned the startled Picklepip
Splendid crimson cheek and lip!
Turned again to sneak away,
But she bade the villain stay,
Bade him thank her, which he did
With a speech that slipped and slid,
Sprawled and stumbled in its gait
As a dancer tries to skate.
Town of Dae by the sea,
In the face of silk and lace
Rags too bold should never be.
Lady Minnow cocked her head:
'Mister Picklepip,' she said,
'Do you ever think to wed?'
Town of Dae by the sea,
No fair lady ever made a
Wicked speech like that to me!
Wretched little Picklepip
Said he hadn't any ship,
Any flocks at his command,
Nor to feed them any land;
Said he never in his life
Owned a mine to keep a wife.
But the guilty stammer so
That his meaning wouldn't flow;
So he thought his aim to reach
By some figurative speech:
Said his Fate had been unkind
Had pursued him from behind
(How the mischief could it else?)
Came upon him unaware,
Caught him by the collar-there
Gushed the little lady's glee
Like a gush of golden bells:
'Picklepip, why, that is _me_!'
Town of Dae by the sea,
Grammar's for great scholars-she
Loved the summer and the lea.
Stupid little Picklepip
Allowed the subtle hint to slip
Maundered on about the ship
That he did not chance to own;
Told this grievance o'er and o'er,
Knowing that she knew before;
Told her how he dwelt alone.
Lady Minnow, for reply,
Cut him off with 'So do I!'
But she reddened at the fib;
Servitors had she, _ad lib.
Town of Dae by the sea,
In her youth who speaks no truth
Ne'er shall young and honest be.
Witless little Picklepip
Manned again his mental ship
And veered her with a sudden shift.
Painted to the lady's thought
How he wrestled and he wrought
Stoutly with the swimming drift
By the kindly river brought
From the mountain to the sea,
Fuel for the town of Dae.
Tedious tale for lady's ear:
From her castle on the height,
She had watched her water-knight
Through the seasons of a year,
Challenge more than met his view
And conquer better than he knew.
Now she shook her pretty pate
And stamped her foot-'t was growing late:
'Mister Picklepip, when I
Drifting seaward pass you by;
When the waves my forehead kiss
And my tresses float above-
Dead and drowned for lack of love-
You'll be sorry, sir, for this!'
And the silly creature cried
Feared, perchance, the rising tide.
Town of Dae by the sea,
Madam Adam, when she had 'em,
May have been as bad as she.
_Fiat lux!_ Love's lumination
Fell in floods of revelation!
Blinded brain by world aglare,
Sense of pulses in the air,
Sense of swooning and the beating
Of a voice somewhere repeating
Something indistinctly heard!
And the soul of Picklepip
Sprang upon his trembling lip,
But he spake no further word
Of the wealth he did not own;
In that moment had outgrown
Ship and mine and flock and land
Even his cask upon the strand.
Dropped a stricken star to earth,
Type of wealth and worldly worth.
Clomb the moon into the sky,
Type of love's immensity!
Shaking silver seemed the sea,
Throne of God the town of Dae!
Town of Dae by the sea,
From above there cometh love,
Blessing all good souls that be.
The Birth Of The Rail
LELAND, THE KID _a Road Agent_
COWBOY CHARLEY _Same Line of Business_
HAPPY HUNTY _Ditto in All Respects_
SOOTYMUG _a Devil_
_Scene_-the Dutch Flat Stage Road, at 12 P.M., on a Night
My boss, I fear she is delayed to-night.
Already it is past the hour, and yet
My ears have reached no sound of wheels; no note
Melodious, of long, luxurious oaths
Betokens the traditional dispute
(Unsettled from the dawn of time) between
The driver and off wheeler; no clear chant
Nor carol of Wells Fargo's messenger
Unbosoming his soul upon the air
his prowess to the tender-foot,
And how at divers times in sundry ways
He strewed the roadside with our carcasses.
Clearly, the stage will not come by to-night.
LELAND, THE KID:
I now remember that but yesterday
I saw three ugly looking fellows start
From Colfax with a gun apiece, and they
Did seem on business of importance bent.
Furtively casting all their eyes about
And covering their tracks with all the care
That business men do use. I think perhaps
They were Directors of that rival line,
The great Pacific Mail. If so, they have
Indubitably taken in that coach,
And we are overreached. Three times before
This thing has happened, and if once again
These outside operators dare to cut
Our rates of profit I shall quit the road
And take my money out of this concern.
When robbery no longer pays expense
It loses then its chiefest charm for me,
And I prefer to cheat-you hear me shout!
My chief, you do but echo back my thoughts:
This competition is the death of trade.
'Tis plain (unless we wish to go to work)
Some other business we must early find.
What shall it be? The field of usefulness
Is yearly narrowing with the advance
Of wealth and population on this coast.
There's little left that any man can do
Without some other fellow stepping in
And doing it as well. If one essay
To pick a pocket he is sure to feel
(With what disgust I need not say to you)
Another hand inserted in the same.
You crack a crib at dead of night, and lo!
As you explore the dining-room for plate
You find, in session there, a graceless band
Stuffing their coats with spoons, their skins with wine.
And so it goes. Why even undertake
To salt a mine and you will find it rich
With noble specimens placed there before!
LELAND, THE KID:
And yet this line of immigration has
Advantages superior to aught
That elsewhere offers: all these passengers,
If punched with care-
It opens up a prospect wide and fair,
Suggesting to the thoughtful mind-_my_ mind-
A scheme that is the boss lay-out. Instead
Of stopping passengers, let's carry them.
Instead of crying out: 'Throw up your hands!'
Let's say: 'Walk up and buy a ticket!' Why
Should we unwieldy goods and bullion take,
Watches and all such trifles, when we might
Far better charge their value three times o'er
For carrying them to market?
LELAND, THE KID:
Put it there,
You take the cake, my dear. We'll build
A mighty railroad through this pass, and then
The stage folk will come up to us and squeal,
And say: 'It is bad medicine for both:
What will you give or take?' And then we'll sell.
Enlarge your notions, little one; this is
No petty, slouching, opposition scheme,
To be bought off like honest men and fools;
Mine eye prophetic pierces through the mists
That cloud the future, and I seem to see
A well-devised and executed scheme
Of wholesale robbery within the law
(Made by ourselves)-great, permanent, sublime,
And strong to grapple with the public throat-
Shaking the stuffing from the public purse,
The tears from bankrupt merchants' eyes, the blood
From widows' famished carcasses, the bread
From orphans' mouths!
LELAND, THE; KID:
_(They tear the masks from their faces, and discharging their
shotguns, throw them into the chapparal. Then they join hands,
dance and sing the following song:)_
Ah! blessed to measure
The glittering treasure!
Ah! blessed to heap up the gold
That flows in a wide
And deepening tide-
Rolled, rolled, rolled
From multifold sources,
Converging its courses
LELAND, THE KID:
Just wait a bit, my pards, I thought I heard
A sneaking grizzly cracking the dry twigs.
Such an intrusion might deprive the State
Of all the good that we intend it. Ha!
_(Enter Sootymug. He saunters carelessly in and gracefully
leans his back against a redwood.)_
My boys, I thought I heard
Some careless revelry,
As if your minds were stirred
By some new devilry.
I too am in that line. Indeed, the mission
On which I come-
Here's more damned competition!