Inscription For My Little Son's Silver Plate
When thou dost eat from off this plate,
I charge thee be thou temperate;
Unto thine elders at the board
Do thou sweet reverence accord;
And, though to dignity inclined,
Unto the serving-folk be kind;
Be ever mindful of the poor,
Nor turn them hungry from the door;
And unto God, for health and food
And all that in thy life is good,
Give thou thy heart in gratitude.
I ain't afeard uv snakes, or toads, or bugs, or worms, or mice,
An' things 'at girls are skeered uv I think are awful nice!
I'm pretty brave, I guess; an' yet I hate to go to bed,
For, when I'm tucked up warm an' snug an' when my prayers are said,
Mother tells me "Happy dreams!" and takes away the light,
An' leaves me lyin' all alone an' seein' things at night!
Sometimes they're in the corner, sometimes they're by the door,
Sometimes they're all a-standin' in the middle uv the floor;
Sometimes they are a-sittin' down, sometimes they're walkin' round
So softly an' so creepylike they never make a sound!
Sometimes they are as black as ink, an' other times they're white -
But the color ain't no difference when you see things at night!
Once, when I licked a feller 'at had just moved on our street,
An' father sent me up to bed without a bite to eat,
I woke up in the dark an' saw things standin' in a row,
A-lookin' at me cross-eyed an' p'intin' at me - so!
Oh, my! I wuz so skeered that time I never slep' a mite -
It's almost alluz when I'm bad I see things at night!
Lucky thing I ain't a girl, or I'd be skeered to death!
Bein' I'm a boy, I duck my head an' hold my breath;
An' I am, oh! so sorry I'm a naughty boy, an' then
I promise to be better an' I say my prayers again!
Gran'ma tells me that's the only way to make it right
When a feller has been wicked an' sees things at night!
An' so, when other naughty boys would coax me into sin,
I try to skwush the Tempter's voice 'at urges me within;
An' when they's pie for supper, or cakes 'at 's big an' nice,
I want to - but I do not pass my plate f'r them things twice!
No, ruther let Starvation wipe me slowly out o' sight
Than I should keep a-livin' on an' seein' things at night!
Ballad Of The Jelly-Cake
A little boy whose name was Tim
Once ate some jelly-cake for tea--
Which cake did not agree with him,
As by the sequel you shall see.
'My darling child,' his mother said,
'Pray do not eat that jelly-cake,
For, after you have gone to bed,
I fear 't will make your stomach ache!'
But foolish little Tim demurred
Unto his mother's warning word.
That night, while all the household slept,
Tim felt an awful pain, and then
From out the dark a nightmare leapt
And stood upon his abdomen!
'I cannot breathe!' the infant cried--
'Oh, Mrs. Nightmare, pity take!'
'There is no mercy,' she replied,
'For boys who feast on jelly-cake!'
And so, despite the moans of Tim,
The cruel nightmare went for him.
At first, she 'd tickle Timmy's toes
Or roughly smite his baby cheek--
And now she 'd rudely tweak his nose
And other petty vengeance wreak;
And then, with hobnails in her shoes
And her two horrid eyes aflame,
The mare proceeded to amuse,
Herself by prancing o'er his frame--
First to his throbbing brow, and then
Back to his little feet again.
At last, fantastic, wild, and weird,
And clad in garments ghastly grim,
A scowling hoodoo band appeared
And joined in worrying little Tim.
Each member of this hoodoo horde
Surrounded Tim with fierce ado
And with long, cruel gimlets bored
His aching system through and through,
And while they labored all night long
The nightmare neighed a dismal song.
Next morning, looking pale and wild,
Poor little Tim emerged from bed--
'Good gracious! what can ail the child!'
His agitated mother said.
'We live to learn,' responded he,
'And I have lived to learn to take
Plain bread and butter for my tea,
And never, never, jelly-cake!
For when my hulk with pastry teems,
I must expect unpleasant dreams!'
Apple-Pie And Cheese
Full many a sinful notion
Conceived of foreign powers
Has come across the ocean
To harm this land of ours;
And heresies called fashions
Have modesty effaced,
And baleful, morbid passions
Corrupt our native taste.
O tempora! O mores!
What profanations these
That seek to dim the glories
Of apple-pie and cheese!
I'm glad my education
Enables me to stand
Against the vile temptation
Held out on every hand;
Eschewing all the tittles
With vanity replete,
I'm loyal to the victuals
Our grandsires used to eat!
I'm glad I've got three willing boys
To hang around and tease
Their mother for the filling joys
Of apple-pie and cheese!
Your flavored creams and ices
And your dainty angel-food
Are mighty fine devices
To regale the dainty dude;
Your terrapin and oysters,
With wine to wash 'em down,
Are just the thing for roisters
When painting of the town;
No flippant, sugared notion
Shall my appetite appease,
Or bate my soul's devotion
To apple-pie and cheese!
The pie my Julia makes me
(God bless her Yankee ways!)
On memory's pinions takes me
To dear Green Mountain days;
And seems like I see Mother
Lean on the window-sill,
A-handin' me and brother
What she knows 'll keep us still;
And these feelings are so grateful,
Says I, 'Julia, if you please,
I'll take another plateful
Of that apple-pie and cheese! '
And cheese! No alien it, sir,
That's brought across the sea,-
No Dutch antique, nor Switzer,
Nor glutinous de Brie;
There's nothing I abhor so
As mawmets of this ilk-
Give me the harmless morceau
That's made of true-blue milk!
No matter what conditions
Dyspeptic come to feaze,
The best of all physicians
Is apple-pie and cheese!
Though ribalds may decry 'em,
For these twin boons we stand,
Partaking thrice per diem
Of their fulness out of hand;
No enervating fashion
Shall cheat us of our right
To gratify our passion
With a mouthful at a bite!
We'll cut it square or bias,
Or any way we please,
And faith shall justify us
When we carve our pie and cheese!
De gustibus, 't is stated,
Non disputandum est.
Which meaneth, when translated,
That all is for the best.
So let the foolish choose 'em
The vapid sweets of sin,
I will not disabuse 'em
Of the heresy they're in;
But I, when I undress me
Each night, upon my knees
Will ask the Lord to bless me
With apple-pie and cheese!
I'd not complain of Sister Jane, for she was good and kind,
Combining with rare comeliness distinctive gifts of mind;
Nay, I'll admit it were most fit that, worn by social cares,
She'd crave a change from parlor life to that below the stairs,
And that, eschewing needlework and music, she should take
Herself to the substantial art of manufacturing cake.
At breakfast, then, it would befall that Sister Jane would say:
"Mother, if you have got the things, I'll make some cake to-day!"
Poor mother'd cast a timid glance at father, like as not--
For father hinted sister's cooking cost a frightful lot--
But neither she nor he presumed to signify dissent,
Accepting it for gospel truth that what she wanted went!
No matter what the rest of 'em might chance to have in hand,
The whole machinery of the house came to a sudden stand;
The pots were hustled off the stove, the fire built up anew,
With every damper set just so to heat the oven through;
The kitchen-table was relieved of everything, to make
That ample space which Jane required when she compounded cake.
And, oh! the bustling here and there, the flying to and fro;
The click of forks that whipped the eggs to lather white as snow--
And what a wealth of sugar melted swiftly out of sight--
And butter? Mother said such waste would ruin father, quite!
But Sister Jane preserved a mien no pleading could confound
As she utilized the raisins and the citron by the pound.
Oh, hours of chaos, tumult, heat, vexatious din, and whirl!
Of deep humiliation for the sullen hired-girl;
Of grief for mother, hating to see things wasted so,
And of fortune for that little boy who pined to taste that dough!
It looked so sweet and yellow--sure, to taste it were no sin--
But, oh! how sister scolded if he stuck his finger in!
The chances were as ten to one, before the job was through,
That sister'd think of something else she'd great deal rather do!
So, then, she'd softly steal away, as Arabs in the night,
Leaving the girl and ma to finish up as best they might;
These tactics (artful Sister Jane) enabled her to take
Or shift the credit or the blame of that too-treacherous cake!
And yet, unhappy is the man who has no Sister Jane--
For he who has no sister seems to me to live in vain.
I never had a sister--may be that is why today
I'm wizened and dyspeptic, instead of blithe and gay;
A boy who's only forty should be full of romp and mirth,
But I (because I'm sisterless) am the oldest man on earth!
Had I a little sister--oh, how happy I should be!
I'd never let her cast her eyes on any chap but me;
I'd love her and I'd cherish her for better and for worse--
I'd buy her gowns and bonnets, and sing her praise in verse;
And--yes, what's more and vastly more--I tell you what I'd do:
I'd let her make her wondrous cake, and I would eat it, too!
I have a high opinion of the sisters, as you see--
Another fellow's sister is so very dear to me!
I love to work anear her when she's making over frocks,
When she patches little trousers or darns prosaic socks;
But I draw the line at one thing--yes, I don my hat and take
A three hours' walk when she is moved to try her hand at cake!
I 'm going to write a letter to our oldest boy who went
Out West last spring to practise law and run for president;
I 'll tell him all the gossip I guess he 'd like to hear,
For he has n't seen the home-folks for going on a year!
Most generally it 's Marthy does the writing, but as she
Is suffering with a felon, why, the job devolves on me--
So, when the supper things are done and put away to-night,
I 'll draw my boots and shed my coat and settle down to write.
I 'll tell him crops are looking up, with prospects big for corn,
That, fooling with the barnyard gate, the off-ox hurt his horn;
That the Templar lodge is doing well--Tim Bennett joined last week
When the prohibition candidate for Congress came to speak;
That the old gray woodchuck 's living still down in the pasture-lot,
A-wondering what 's become of little William, like as not!
Oh, yes, there 's lots of pleasant things and no bad news to tell,
Except that old Bill Graves was sick, but now he 's up and well.
Cy Cooper says--(but I 'll not pass my word that it is so,
For Cy he is some punkins on spinning yarns, you know)--
He says that, since the freshet, the pickerel are so thick
In Baker's pond you can wade in and kill 'em with a stick!
The Hubbard girls are teaching school, and Widow Cutler's Bill
Has taken Eli Baxter's place in Luther Eastman's mill;
Old Deacon Skinner's dog licked Deacon Howard's dog last week,
And now there are two lambkins in one flock that will not speak.
The yellow rooster froze his feet, a-wadin' through the snow
And now he leans ag'in' the fence when he starts in to crow;
The chestnut colt that was so skittish when he went away--
I 've broke him to the sulky and I drive him every day!
We 've got pink window curtains for the front spare-room upstairs
And Lizzie's made new covers for the parlor lounge and chairs;
We 've roofed the barn and braced the elm that has the hangbird's nest--
Oh, there 's been lots of changes since our William went out West!
Old Uncle Enos Packard is getting mighty gay--
He gave Miss Susan Birchard a peach the other day!
His late lamented Sarah hain't been buried quite a year,
So his purring 'round Miss Susan causes criticism here.
At the last donation party, the minister opined
That, if he 'd half suspicioned what was coming, he 'd resigned;
For, though they brought him slippers like he was a centipede,
His pantry was depleted by the consequential feed!
These are the things I 'll write him--our boy that 's in the West;
And I 'll tell him how we miss him--his mother and the rest;
Why, we never have an apple-pie that mother does n't say:
'He liked it so--I wish that he could have a piece to-day!'
I 'll tell him we are prospering, and hope he is the same--
That we hope he 'll have no trouble getting on to wealth and fame;
And just before I write 'good-by from father and the rest,'
I 'll say that 'mother sends her love.' and that will please him best.
For when I went away from home, the weekly news I heard
Was nothing to the tenderness I found in that one word--
The sacred name of mother--why, even now as then,
The thought brings back the saintly face, the gracious love again;
And in my bosom seems to come a peace that is divine,
As if an angel spirit communed awhile with mine;
And one man's heart is strengthened by the message from above,
And earth seems nearer heaven when 'mother sends her love.'
The Ballad Of The Taylor Pup
Now lithe and listen, gentles all,
Now lithe ye all and hark
Unto a ballad I shall sing
About Buena Park.
Of all the wonders happening there
The strangest hap befell
Upon a famous Aprile morn,
As I you now shall tell.
It is about the Taylor pup
And of his mistress eke
And of the prankish time they had
That I am fain to speak.
FITTE THE FIRST
The pup was of as noble mien
As e'er you gazed upon;
They called his mother Lady
And his father was a Don.
And both his mother and his sire
Were of the race Bernard--
The family famed in histories
And hymned of every bard.
His form was of exuberant mold,
Long, slim, and loose of joints;
There never yet was pointer-dog
So full as he of points.
His hair was like to yellow fleece,
His eyes were black and kind,
And like a nodding, gilded plume
His tail stuck up behind.
His bark was very, very fierce,
And fierce his appetite,
Yet was it only things to eat
That he was prone to bite.
But in that one particular
He was so passing true
That never did he quit a meal
Until he had got through.
Potatoes, biscuits, mush or hash,
Joint, chop, or chicken limb--
So long as it was edible,
'T was all the same to him!
And frequently when Hunger's pangs
Assailed that callow pup,
He masticated boots and gloves
Or chewed a door-mat up.
So was he much beholden of
The folk that him did keep;
They loved him when he was awake
And better still asleep.
FITTE THE SECOND
Now once his master, lingering o'er
His breakfast coffee-cup,
Observed unto his doting spouse:
'You ought to wash the pup!'
'That shall I do this very day',
His doting spouse replied;
'You will not know the pretty thing
When he is washed and dried.
'But tell me, dear, before you go
Unto your daily work,
Shall I use Ivory soap on him,
Or Colgate, Pears' or Kirk?'
'Odzooks, it matters not a whit--
They all are good to use!
Take Pearline, if it pleases you--
Sapolio, if you choose!
'Take any soap, but take the pup
And also water take,
And mix the three discreetly up
Till they a lather make.
'Then mixing these constituent parts,
Let Nature take her way,'
With which advice that sapient sir
Had nothing more to say.
Then fared he to his daily toil
All in the Board of Trade,
While Mistress Taylor for that bath
Due preparation made.
FITTE THE THIRD
She whistled gayly to the pup
And called him by his name,
And presently the guileless thing
All unsuspecting came.
But when she shut the bath-room door,
And caught him as catch-can,
And hove him in that odious tub,
His sorrows then began.
How did that callow, yallow thing
Regret that Aprile morn--
Alas! how bitterly he rued
The day that he was born!
Twice and again, but all in vain
He lifted up his wail;
His voice was all the pup could lift,
For thereby hangs this tale.
'Twas by that tail she held him down,
And presently she spread
The creamy lather on his back,
His stomach, and his head.
His ears hung down in sorry wise,
His eyes were, oh! so sad--
He looked as though he just had lost
The only friend he had.
And higher yet the water rose,
The lather still increased,
And sadder still the countenance
Of that poor martyred beast!
Yet all the time his mistress spoke
Such artful words of cheer
As 'Oh, how nice!' and 'Oh, how clean!'
And 'There's a patient dear!'
At last the trial had an end,
At last the pup was free;
She threw aside the bath-room door--
'Now get you gone!' quoth she.
FITTE THE FOURTH
Then from that tub and from that room
He gat with vast ado;
At every hop he gave a shake,
And--how the water flew!
He paddled down the winding stairs
And to the parlor hied,
Dispensing pools of foamy suds
And slop on every side.
Upon the carpet then he rolled
And brushed against the wall,
And, horror! whisked his lathery sides
On overcoat and shawl.
Attracted by the dreadful din,
His mistress came below--
Who, who can speak her wonderment--
Who, who can paint her woe!
Great smears of soap were here and there--
Her startled vision met
With blobs of lather everywhere,
And everything was wet!
Then Mrs. Taylor gave a shriek
Like one about to die:
'Get out--get out, and don't you dare
Come in till you are dry!'
With that she opened wide the door
And waved the critter through;
Out in the circumambient air
With grateful yelps he flew.
FITTE THE FIFTH
He whisked into the dusty street
And to the Waller lot,
Where bonnie Annie Evans played
With charming Sissy Knott.
And with those pretty little dears
He mixed himself all up--
Oh, fie upon such boisterous play--
Fie, fie, you naughty pup!
Woe, woe on Annie's India mull,
And Sissy's blue percale!
One got that pup's belathered flanks,
And one his soapy tail!
Forth to the rescue of those maids
Rushed gallant Willie Clow;
His panties they were white and clean--
Where are those panties now?
Where is the nicely laundered shirt
That Kendall Evans wore,
And Robbie James' tricot coat
All buttoned up before?
The leaven, which, as we are told,
Leavens a monstrous lump,
Hath far less reaching qualities
Than a wet pup on the jump.
This way and that he swung and swayed,
He gambolled far and near,
And everywhere he thrust himself
He left a soapy smear.
FITTE THE SIXTH
That noon a dozen little dears
Were spanked and put to bed
With naught to stay their appetites
But cheerless crusts of bread.
That noon a dozen hired girls
Washed out each gown and shirt
Which that exuberant Taylor pup
Had frescoed o'er with dirt.
That whole day long the Aprile sun
Smiled sweetly from above
On clotheslines flaunting to the breeze
The emblems mothers love.
That whole day long the Taylor pup
This way and that did hie
Upon his mad, erratic course,
Intent on getting dry.
That night when Mr. Taylor came
His vesper meal to eat,
He uttered things my pious pen
Would liefer not repeat.
Yet still that noble Taylor pup
Survives to romp and bark
And stumble over folks and things
In fair Buena Park.
Good sooth, I wot he should be called
Buena's favorite son
Who's sired of such a noble sire
And dammed by every one!