The self-same irritating stress Distinguishing his former yes.
And still demurely as a mouse He twirled the key to that Upper House.
Then Stephen, seeing his bluster vain Admittance to those halls to gain,
Said, neighborly: "Pray tell me. Pete, Does any one contest my seat?"
The Saint replied: "Nay, nay, not so; But you voted always wrong below:
"Whate'er the question, clear and high You're voice rang: 'I,' 'I,' ever 'I.'"
Now indignation fired the heart Of that insulted immortal part.
"Die, wretch!" he cried, with blanching lip, And made a motion to his hip,
With purpose murderous and hearty, To draw the Democratic party!
He felt his fingers vainly slide Upon his unappareled hide
(The dead arise from their "silent tents" But not their late habiliments)
Then wailed—the briefest of his speeches: "I've left it in my other breeches!"
A POLITICAL VIOLET
Come, Stanford, let us sit at ease And talk as old friends do. You talk of anything you please, And I will talk of you.
You recently have said, I hear, That you would like to go To serve as Senator. That's queer! Have you told William Stow?
Once when the Legislature said: "Go, Stanford, and be great!" You lifted up your Jovian head And everlooked the State.
As one made leisurely awake, You lightly rubbed your eyes And answered: "Thank you—please to make A note of my surprise.
"But who are they who skulk aside, As to get out of reach, And in their clothing strive to hide Three thousand dollars each?
"Not members of your body, sure? No, that can hardly be: All statesmen, I suppose, are pure. What! there are rogues? Dear me!"
You added, you'll recall, that though You were surprised and pained, You thought, upon the whole, you'd go, And in that mind remained.
Now, what so great a change has wrought That you so frankly speak Of "seeking" honors once unsought Because you "scorned to seek"?
Do you not fear the grave reproof In good Creed Haymond's eye? Will Stephen Gage not stand aloof And pass you coldly by?
O, fear you not that Vrooman's lich Will rise from earth and point At you a scornful finger which May lack, perchance, a joint?
Go, Stanford, where the violets grow, And join their modest train. Await the work of William Stow And be surprised again.
THE SUBDUED EDITOR
Pope-choker Pixley sat in his den A-chewin' upon his quid. He thought it was Leo Thirteen, and then He bit it intenser, he did.
The amber which overflew from the cud Like rivers which burst out of bounds— 'Twas peculiar grateful to think it blood A-gushin' from Papal wounds.
A knockin' was heard uponto the door Where some one a-waitin' was. "Come in," said the shedder of priestly gore, Arrestin' to once his jaws.
The person which entered was curly of hair And smilin' as ever you see; His eyes was blue, and uncommon fair Was his physiognomee.
And yet there was some'at remarkable grand— And the editor says as he looks: "Your Height" (it was Highness, you understand, That he meant, but he spoke like books)—
"Your Height, I am in. I'm the editor man Of this paper—which is to say, I'm the owner, too, and it's alway ran In the independentest way!
"Not a damgaloot can interfere, A-shapin' my course for me: This paper's (and nothing can make it veer) Pixleian in policee!"
"It's little to me," said the sunny youth, "If journals is better or worse Where I am to home they won't keep, in truth, The climate is that perverse.
"I've come, howsomever, your mind to light With a more superior fire: You'll have naught hencefor'ard to do but write, While I sets by and inspire.
"We'll make it hot all round, bedad!" And his laughture was loud and free. "The devil!" cried Pixley, surpassin' mad. "Exactly, my friend—that's me."
So he took a chair and a feather fan, And he sets and sets and sets, Inspirin' that humbled editor man, Which sweats and sweats and sweats!
All unavailin' his struggles be, And it's, O, a weepin' sight To see a great editor bold and free Reducted to sech a plight!
"BLACK BART, Po8"
Welcome, good friend; as you have served your term, And found the joy of crime to be a fiction, I hope you'll hold your present faith, stand firm And not again be open to conviction.
Your sins, though scarlet once, are now as wool: You've made atonement for all past offenses, And conjugated—'twas an awful pull!— The verb "to pay" in all its moods and tenses.
You were a dreadful criminal—by Heaven, I think there never was a man so sinful! We've all a pinch or two of Satan's leaven, But you appeared to have an even skinful.
Earth shuddered with aversion at your name; Rivers fled backward, gravitation scorning; The sea and sky, from thinking on your shame, Grew lobster-red at eve and in the morning.
But still red-handed at your horrid trade You wrought, to reason deaf, and to compassion. But now with gods and men your peace is made I beg you to be good and in the fashion.
What's that?—you "ne'er again will rob a stage"? What! did you do so? Faith, I didn't know it. Was that what threw poor Themis in a rage? I thought you were convicted as a poet!
I own it was a comfort to my soul, And soothed it better than the deepest curses, To think they'd got one poet in a hole Where, though he wrote, he could not print, his verses.
I thought that Welcker, Plunkett, Brooks, and all The ghastly crew who always are begriming With villain couplets every page and wall, Might be arrested and "run in" for rhyming.
And then Parnassus would be left to me, And Pegasus should bear me up it gaily, Nor down a steep place run into the sea, As now he must be tempted to do daily.
Well, grab the lyre-strings, hearties, and begin: Bawl your harsh souls all out upon the gravel. I must endure you, for you'll never sin By robbing coaches, until dead men travel.
A "SCION OF NOBILITY"
Come, sisters, weep!—our Baron dear, Alas! has run away. If always we had kept him here He had not gone astray.
Painter and grainer it were vain To say he was, before; And if he were, yet ne'er again He'll darken here a door.
We mourn each matrimonial plan— Even tradesmen join the cry: He was so promising a man Whenever he did buy.
He was a fascinating lad, Deny it all who may; Even moneyed men confess he had A very taking way.
So from our tables he is gone— Our tears descend in showers; We loved the very fat upon. His kidneys, for 'twas ours.
To women he was all respect To duns as cold as ice; No lady could his suit reject, No tailor get its price.
He raised our hope above the sky; Alas! alack! and O! That one who worked it up so high Should play it down so low!
THE NIGHT OF ELECTION
"O venerable patriot, I pray Stand not here coatless; at the break of day We'll know the grand result—and even now The eastern sky is faintly touched with gray.
"It ill befits thine age's hoary crown— This rude environment of rogue and clown, Who, as the lying bulletins appear, With drunken cries incarnadine the town.
"But if with noble zeal you stay to note The outcome of your patriotic vote For Blaine, or Cleveland, and your native land, Take—and God bless you!—take my overcoat."
"Done, pard—and mighty white of you. And now guess the country'll keep the trail somehow. I aint allowed to vote, the Warden said, But whacked my coat up on old Stanislow."
THE CONVICTS' BALL
San Quentin was brilliant. Within the halls Of the noble pile with the frowning walls (God knows they've enough to make them frown, With a Governor trying to break them down!) Was a blaze of light. 'Twas the natal day Of his nibs the popular John S. Gray, And many observers considered his birth The primary cause of his moral worth. "The ball is free!" cried Black Bart, and they all Said a ball with no chain was a novel ball; "And I never have seed," said Jimmy Hope, "Sech a lightsome dance withouten a rope." Chinamen, Indians, Portuguese, Blacks, Russians, Italians, Kanucks and Kanaks, Chilenos, Peruvians, Mexicans—all Greased with their presence that notable ball. None were excluded excepting, perhaps, The Rev. Morrison's churchly chaps, Whom, to prevent a religious debate, The Warden had banished outside of the gate. The fiddler, fiddling his hardest the while, "Called off" in the regular foot-hill style: "Circle to the left!" and "Forward and back!" And "Hellum to port for the stabbard tack!" (This great virtuoso, it would appear, Was Mate of the Gatherer many a year.) "Ally man left!"—to a painful degree His French was unlike to the French of Paree, As heard from our countrymen lately abroad, And his "doe cee doe" was the gem of the fraud. But what can you hope from a gentleman barred From circles of culture by dogs in the yard? 'Twas a glorious dance, though, all the same, The Jardin Mabille in the days of its fame Never saw legs perform such springs— The cold-chisel's magic had given them wings. They footed it featly, those lades and gents: Dull care (said Long Moll) had a helly go-hence!
'Twas a very aristocratic affair: The creme de la creme and elite were there— Rank, beauty and wealth from the highest sets, And Hubert Howe Bancroft sent his regrets.
Sweet Spirit of Cesspool, hear a mother's prayer: Her terrors pacify and offspring spare! Upon Silurians alone let fall (And God in Heaven have mercy on them all!) The red revenges of your fragrant breath, Hot with the flames invisible of death. Sing in each nose a melody of smells, And lead them snoutwise to their several hells!
TO ONE DETESTED
Sir, you're a veteran, revealed In history and fable As warrior since you took the field, Defeating Abel.
As Commissary later (or If not, in every cottage The tale is) you contracted for A mess of pottage.
In civil life you were, we read (And our respect increases) A man of peace—a man, indeed, Of thirty pieces.
To paying taxes when you turned Your mind, or what you call so, A wide celebrity you earned— Saphira also.
In every age, by various names, You've won renown in story, But on your present record flames A greater glory.
Cain, Esau, and Iscariot, too, And Ananias, likewise, Each had peculiar powers, but who Could lie as Mike lies?
THE BOSS'S CHOICE
Listen to his wild romances: He advances foolish fancies, Each expounded as his "view"— Gu.
In his brain's opacous clot, ah He has got a maggot! What a Man with "views" to overwhelm us!— Gulielmus.
Hear his demagogic clamor— Hear him stammer in his grammar! Teaching, he will learn to spell— Gulielmus L.
Slave who paid the price demanded— With two-handed iron branded By the boss—pray cease to dose us, Gulielmus L. Jocosus.
A MERCIFUL GOVERNOR
Standing within the triple wall of Hell, And flattening his nose against a grate Behind whose brazen bars he'd had to dwell A thousand million ages to that date, Stoneman bewailed his melancholy fate, And his big tear-drops, boiling as they fell, Had worn between his feet, the record mentions, A deep depression in the "good intentions."
Imperfectly by memory taught how— For prayer in Hell is a lost art—he prayed, Uplifting his incinerated brow And flaming hands in supplication's aid. "O grant," he cried, "my torment may be stayed— In mercy, some short breathing spell allow! If one good deed I did before my ghosting, Spare me and give Delmas a double roasting."
Breathing a holy harmony in Hell, Down through the appalling clamors of the place, Charming them all to willing concord, fell A Voice ineffable and full of grace: "Because of all the law-defying race One single malefactor of the cell Thou didst not free from his incarceration, Take thou ten thousand years of condonation."
Back from their fastenings began to shoot The rusted bolts; with dreadful roar, the gate Laboriously turned; and, black with soot, The extinguished spirit passed that awful strait, And as he legged it into space, elate, Muttered: "Yes, I remember that galoot— I'd signed his pardon, ready to allot it, But stuck it in my desk and quite forgot it."
Now Lonergan appears upon the boards, And Truth and Error sheathe their lingual swords. No more in wordy warfare to engage, The commentators bow before the stage, And bookworms, militant for ages past, Confess their equal foolishness at last, Reread their Shakspeare in the newer light And swear the meaning's obvious to sight. For centuries the question has been hot: Was Hamlet crazy, or was Hamlet not? Now, Lonergan's illuminating art Reveals the truth of the disputed "part," And shows to all the critics of the earth That Hamlet was an idiot from birth!
A SOARING TOAD
So, Governor, you would not serve again Although we'd all agree to pay you double. You find it all is vanity and pain— One clump of clover in a field of stubble— One grain of pleasure in a peck of trouble. 'Tis sad, at your age, having to complain Of disillusion; but the fault is whose When pigmies stumble, wearing giants' shoes?
I humbly told you many moons ago For high preferment you were all unfit. A clumsy bear makes but a sorry show Climbing a pole. Let him, judicious, sit With dignity at bottom of his pit, And none his awkwardness will ever know. Some beasts look better, and feel better, too, Seen from above; and so, I think, would you.
Why, you were mad! Did you suppose because Our foolish system suffers foolish men To climb to power, make, enforce the laws, And, it is whispered, break them now and then, We love the fellows and respect them when We've stilled the volume of our loud hurrahs? When folly blooms we trample it the more For having fertilized it heretofore.
Behold yon laborer! His garb is mean, His face is grimy, but who thinks to ask The measure of his brains? 'Tis only seen He's fitted for his honorable task, And so delights the mind. But let him bask In droll prosperity, absurdly clean— Is that the man whom we admired before? Good Lord, how ignorant, and what a bore!
Better for you that thoughtless men had said (Noting your fitness in the humbler sphere): "Why don't they make him Governor?" instead Of, "Why the devil did they?" But I fear My words on your inhospitable ear Are wasted like a sermon to the dead. Still, they may profit you if studied well: You can't be taught to think, but may to spell.
AN UNDRESS UNIFORM
The apparel does not proclaim the man— Polonius lied like a partisan, And Salomon still would a hero seem If (Heaven dispel the impossible dream!) He stood in a shroud on the hangman's trap, His eye burning holes in the black, black cap. And the crowd below would exclaim amain: "He's ready to fall for his country again!"
THE PERVERTED VILLAGE
Sweet Auburn! liveliest village of the plain, Where Health and Slander welcome every train, Whence smiling innocence, its tribute paid, Retires in terror, wounded and dismayed— Dear lovely bowers of gossip and disease, Whose climate cures us that thy dames may tease, How often have I knelt upon thy green And prayed for death, to mitigate their spleen! How often have I paused on every charm With mingled admiration and alarm— The brook that runs by many a scandal-mill, The church whose pastor groans upon the grill, The cowthorn bush with seats beneath the shade, Where hearts are struck and reputations flayed; How often wished thine idle wives, some day, Might more at whist, less at the devil, play.
Unblest retirement! ere my life's decline (Killed by detraction) may I witness thine. How happy she who, shunning shades like these, Finds in a wolf-den greater peace and ease; Who quits the place whence truth did earlier fly, And rather than come back prefers to die! For her no jealous maids renounce their sleep, Contriving malices to make her weep; No iron-faced dames her character debate And spurn imploring mercy from the gate; But down she lies to a more peaceful end, For wolves do not calumniate, but rend— Sinks piecemeal to their maws, a willing prey, While resignation lubricates the way, And all her prospects brighten at the last: To wolves, not women, an approved repast.
The Devil stood before the gate Of Heaven. He had a single mate: Behind him, in his shadow, slunk Clay Sheets in a perspiring funk. "Saint Peter, see this season ticket," Said Satan; "pray undo the wicket." The sleepy Saint threw slight regard Upon the proffered bit of card, Signed by some clerical dead-beats: "Admit the bearer and Clay Sheets." Peter expanded all his eyes: "'Clay Sheets?'—well, I'll be damned!" he cries. "Our couches are of golden cloud; Nothing of earth is here allowed. I'll let you in," he added, shedding On Nick a smile—"but not your bedding."
So, Estee, you are still alive! I thought That you had died and were a blessed ghost I know at least your coffin once was bought With Railroad money; and 'twas said by most Historians that Stanford made a boast The seller "threw you in." That goes for naught— Man takes delight in fancy's fine inventions, And woman too, 'tis said, if they are French ones.
Do you remember, Estee—ah, 'twas long And long ago!—how fierce you grew and hot When anything impeded the straight, strong, Wild sweep of the great billow you had got Atop of, like a swimmer bold? Great Scott! How fine your wavemanship! How loud your song Of "Down with railroads!" When the wave subsided And left you stranded you were much divided.
Then for a time you were content to wade The waters of the "robber barons'" moat. To fetch, and carry was your humble trade, And ferry Stanford over in a boat, Well paid if he bestowed the kindly groat And spoke you fair and called you pretty maid. And when his stomach seemed a bit unsteady You got your serviceable basin ready.
Strange man! how odd to see you, smug and spruce, There at Chicago, burrowed in a Chair, Not made to measure and a deal too loose, And see you lift your little arm and swear Democracy shall be no more! If it's a fair And civil question, and not too abstruse, Were you elected as a "robber baron," Or as a Communist whose teeth had hair on?
MY LORD POET
"Who drives fat oxen should himself be fat;" Who sings for nobles, he should noble be. There's no non sequitur, I think, in that, And this is logic plain as a, b, c. Now, Hector Stuart, you're a Scottish prince, If right you fathom your descent—that fall From grace; and since you have no peers, and since You have no kind of nobleness at all, 'Twere better to sing little, lest you wince When made by heartless critics to sing small. And yet, my liege, I bid you not despair— Ambition conquers but a realm at once: For European bays arrange your hair— Two continents, in time, shall crown you Dunce!
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.
ONE AND ONE ARE TWO
The trumpet sounded and the dead Came forth from earth and ocean, And Pickering arose and sped Aloft with wobbling motion.
"What makes him fly lop-sided?" cried A soul of the elected. "One ear was wax," a rogue replied, "And isn't resurrected."
Below him on the pitted plain, By his abandoned hollow, His hair and teeth tried all in vain The rest of him to follow.
Saint Peter, seeing him ascend, Came forward to the wicket, And said: "My mutilated friend, I'll thank you for your ticket."
"The Call," said Pickering, his hand To reach the latch extended. Said Peter, affable and bland: "The free-list is suspended—
"What claim have you that's valid here?" That ancient vilifier Reflected; then, with look austere, Replied: "I am a liar."
Said Peter: "That is simple, neat And candid Anglo-Saxon, But—well, come in, and take a seat Up there by Colonel Jackson."
As some enormous violet that towers Colossal o'er the heads of lowlier flowers— Its giant petals royally displayed, And casting half the landscape into shade; Delivering its odors, like the blows Of some strong slugger, at the public nose; Pride of two Nations—for a single State Would scarce suffice to sprout a plant so great; So Leverson's humility, outgrown The meaner virtues that he deigns to own, To the high skies its great corolla rears, O'ertopping all he has except his ears.
THE WOFUL TALE OF MR. PETERS
I should like, good friends, to mention the disaster which befell Mr. William Perry Peters, of the town of Muscatel, Whose fate is full of meaning, if correctly understood— Admonition to the haughty, consolation to the good.
It happened in the hot snap which we recently incurred, When 'twas warm enough to carbonize the feathers of a bird, And men exclaimed: "By Hunky!" who were bad enough to swear, And pious persons supervised their adjectives with care.
Mr. Peters was a pedagogue of honor and repute, His learning comprehensive, multifarious, minute. It was commonly conceded in the section whence he came That the man who played against him needed knowledge of the game.
And some there were who whispered, in the town of Muscatel, That besides the game of Draw he knew Orthography as well; Though, the school directors, frigidly contemning that as stuff, Thought that Draw (and maybe Spelling, if it pleased him) was enough.
Withal, he was a haughty man—indubitably great, But too vain of his attainments and his power in debate. His mien was contumelious to men of lesser gift: "It's only me," he said, "can give the human mind a lift.
"Before a proper audience, if ever I've a chance, You'll see me chipping in, the cause of Learning to advance. Just let me have a decent chance to back my mental hand And I'll come to center lightly in a way they'll understand."
Such was William Perry Peters, and I feel a poignant sense Of grief that I'm unable to employ the present tense; But Providence disposes, be our scheming what it may, And disposed of Mr. Peters in a cold, regardless way.
It occurred in San Francisco, whither Mr. Peters came In the cause of Education, feeling still the holy flame Of ambition to assist in lifting up the human mind To a higher plane of knowledge than its Architect designed.
He attended the convention of the pedagogic host; He was first in the Pavilion, he was last to leave his post. For days and days he narrowly observed the Chairman's eye, His efforts ineffectual to catch it on the fly.
The blessed moment came at last: the Chairman tipped his head. "The gentleman from ah—um—er," that functionary said. The gentleman from ah—um—er reflected with a grin: "They'll know me better by-and-by, when I'm a-chipping in."
So William Perry Peters mounted cheerfully his feet— And straightway was aglow with an incalculable heat! His face was as effulgent as a human face could be, And caloric emanated from his whole periphery;
For he felt himself the focus of non-Muscatelish eyes, And the pain of their convergence was a terror and surprise. As with pitiless impaction all their heat-waves on him broke He was seen to be evolving awful quantities of smoke!
"Put him out!" cried all in chorus; but the meaning wasn't clear Of that succoring suggestion to his obfuscated ear; And it notably augmented his incinerating glow To regard himself excessive, or in any way de trop.
Gone was all his wild ambition to lift up the human mind!— Gone the words he would have uttered!—gone the thought that lay behind! For "words that burn" may be consumed in a superior flame, And "thoughts that breathe" may breathe their last, and die a death of shame.
He'd known himself a shining light, but never had he known Himself so very luminous as now he knew he shone. "A pillar, I, of fire," he'd said, "to guide my race will be;" And now that very inconvenient thing to him was he.
He stood there all irresolute; the seconds went and came; The minutes passed and did but add fresh fuel to his flame. How long he stood he knew not—'twas a century or more— And then that incandescent man levanted for the door!
He darted like a comet from the building to the street, Where Fahrenheit attested ninety-five degrees of heat. Vicissitudes of climate make the tenure of the breath Precarious, and William Perry Peters froze to death!
Ye parasites that to the rich men stick, As to the fattest sheep the thrifty tick— Ed'ard to Stanford and to Crocker Ben (To Ben and Ed'ard many meaner men, And lice to these)—who do the kind of work That thieves would have the honesty to shirk— Whose wages are that your employers own The fat that reeks upon your every bone And deigns to ask (the flattery how sweet!) About its health and how it stands the heat,— Hail and farewell! I meant to write about you, But, no, my page is cleaner far without you.
Editor Owen, of San Jose, Commonly known as "our friend J.J." Weary of scribbling for daily bread, Weary of writing what nobody read, Slept one day at his desk and dreamed That an angel before him stood and beamed With compassionate eyes upon him there.
Editor Owen is not so fair In feature, expression, form or limb But glances like that are familiar to him; And so, to arrive by the shortest route At his visitor's will he said, simply: "Toot." "Editor Owen," the angel said, "Scribble no more for your daily bread. Your intellect staggers and falls and bleeds, Weary of writing what nobody reads. Eschew now the quill—in the coming years Homilize man through his idle ears. Go lecture!" "Just what I intended to do," Said Owen. The angel looked pained and flew.
Editor Owen, of San Jose, Commonly known as "our friend J.J." Scribbling no more to supply his needs, Weary of writing what nobody reads, Passes of life each golden year Speaking what nobody comes to hear.
A POLITICAL APOSTATE
Good friend, it is with deep regret I note The latest, strangest turning of your coat; Though any way you wear that mental clout The seamy side seems always to be out. Who could have thought that you would e'er sustain The Southern shotgun's arbitrary reign!— Your sturdy hand assisting to replace The broken yoke on a delivered race; The ballot's purity no more your care, With equal privilege to dark and fair. To Yesterday a traitor, to To-day You're constant but the better to betray To-morrow. Your convictions all are naught But the wild asses of the world of thought, Which, flying mindless o'er the barren plain, Perceive at last they've nothing so to gain, And, turning penitent upon their track, Economize their strength by flying back.
Ex-champion of Freedom, battle-lunged, No more, red-handed, or at least red-tongued, Brandish the javelin which by others thrown Clove Sambo's heart to quiver in your own! Confess no more that when his blood was shed, And you so sympathetically bled, The bow that spanned the mutual cascade Was but the promise of a roaring trade In offices. Your fingering now the trigger Shows that you knew your Negro was a nigger! Ad hominem this argumentum runs: Peace!—let us fire another kind of guns.
I grant you, friend, that it is very true The Blacks are ignorant—and sable, too. What then? One way of two a fool must vote, And either way with gentlemen of note Whose villain feuds the fact attest too well That pedagogues nor vice nor error quell. The fiercest controversies ever rage When Miltons and Salmasii engage. No project wide attention ever drew But it disparted all the learned crew. As through their group the cleaving line's prolonged With fiery combatants each field is thronged. In battle-royal they engage at once For guidance of the hesitating dunce. The Titans on the heights contend full soon— On this side Webster and on that Calhoun, The monstrous conflagration of their fight Startling the day and splendoring the night! Both are unconquerable—one is right. Will't keep the pigmy, if we make him strong, From siding with a giant in the wrong? When Genius strikes for error, who's afraid To arm poor Folly with a wooden blade? O Rabelais, you knew it all!—your good And honest judge (by men misunderstood) Knew to be right there was but one device Less fallible than ignorance—the dice. The time must come—Heaven expedite the day!— When all mankind shall their decrees obey, And nations prosper in their peaceful sway.
Good Parson Dickson preached, I'm told, A sermon—ah, 'twas very old And very, very, bald! 'Twas all about—I know not what It was about, nor what 'twas not. "A Screw Loose" it was called.
Whatever, Parson Dick, you say, The world will get each blessed day Still more and more askew, And fall apart at last. Great snakes! What skillful tinker ever takes His tongue to turn a screw?
BATS IN SUNSHINE
Well, Mr. Kemble, you are called, I think, A great divine, and I'm a great profane. You as a Congregationalist blink Some certain truths that I esteem a gain, And drop them in the coffers of my brain, Pleased with the pretty music of their chink. Perhaps your spiritual wealth is such A golden truth or two don't count for much.
You say that you've no patience with such stuff As by Renan is writ, and when you read (Why do you read?) have hardly strength enough To hold your hand from flinging the vile screed Into the fire. That were a wasteful deed Which you'd repent in sackcloth extra rough; For books cost money, and I'm told you care To lay up treasures Here as well as There.
I fear, good, pious soul, that you mistake Your thrift for toleration. Never mind: Renan in any case would hardly break His great, strong, charitable heart to find The bats and owls of your myopic kind Pained by the light that his ideas make. 'Tis Truth's best purpose to shine in at holes Where cower the Kembles, to confound their souls!
A WORD TO THE UNWISE
[Charles Main, of the firm of Main & Winchester, has ordered a grand mausoleum for his plot in Mountain View Cemetery.—City Newspaper.]
Charles Main, of Main & Winchester, attend With friendly ear the chit-chat of a friend Who knows you not, yet knows that you and he Travel two roads that have a common end.
We journey forward through the time allowed, I humbly bending, you erect and proud. Our heads alike will stable soon the worm— The one that's lifted, and the one that's bowed.
You in your mausoleum shall repose, I where it pleases Him who sleep bestows; What matter whether one so little worth Shall stain the marble or shall feed the rose?
Charles Main, I had a friend who died one day. A metal casket held his honored clay. Of cyclopean architecture stood The splendid vault where he was laid away.
A dozen years, and lo! the roots of grass Had burst asunder all the joints; the brass, The gilded ornaments, the carven stones Lay tumbled all together in a mass.
A dozen years! That taxes your belief. Make it a thousand if the time's too brief. 'Twill be the same to you; when you are dead You cannot even count your days of grief.
Suppose a pompous monument you raise Till on its peak the solar splendor blaze While yet about its base the night is black; But will it give your glory length of days?
Say, when beneath your rubbish has been thrown, Some rogue to reputation all unknown— Men's backs being turned—should lift his thieving hand, Efface your name and substitute his own.
Whose then would be the monument? To whom Would be the fame? Forgotten in your gloom, Your very name forgotten—ah, my friend, The name is all that's rescued by the tomb.
For memory of worth and work we go To other records than a stone can show. These lacking, naught remains; with these The stone is needless for the world will know.
Then build your mausoleum if you must, And creep into it with a perfect trust; But in the twinkling of an eye the plow Shall pass without obstruction through your dust.
Another movement of the pendulum, And, lo! the desert-haunting wolf shall come, And, seated on the spot, shall howl by night O'er rotting cities, desolate and dumb.
ON THE PLATFORM
When Dr. Bill Bartlett stepped out of the hum Of Mammon's distracting and wearisome strife To stand and deliver a lecture on "Some Conditions of Intellectual Life," I cursed the offender who gave him the hall To lecture on any conditions at all!
But he rose with a fire divine in his eye, Haranguing with endless abundance of breath, Till I slept; and I dreamed of a gibbet reared high, And Dr. Bill Bartlett was dressing for death. And I thought in my dream: "These conditions, no doubt, Are bad for the life he was talking about."
So I cried (pray remember this all was a dream): "Get off of the platform!—it isn't the kind!" But he fell through the trap, with a jerk at the beam, And wiggled his toes to unburden his mind. And, O, so bewitching the thoughts he advanced, That I clung to his ankles, attentive, entranced!
A DAMPENED ARDOR
The Chinatown at Bakersfield Was blazing bright and high; The flames to water would not yield, Though torrents drenched the sky And drowned the ground for miles around— The houses were so dry.
Then rose an aged preacher man Whom all did much admire, Who said: "To force on you my plan I truly don't aspire, But streams, it seems, might quench these beams If turned upon the fire."
The fireman said: "This hoary wight His folly dares to thrust On us! 'Twere well he felt our might— Nay, he shall feel our must!" With jet of wet and small regret They laid that old man's dust.
ADAIR WELCKER, POET
The Swan of Avon died—the Swan Of Sacramento'll soon be gone; And when his death-song he shall coo, Stand back, or it will kill you too.
TO A WORD-WARRIOR
Frank Pixley, you, who kiss the hand That strove to cut the country's throat, Cannot forgive the hands that smote Applauding in a distant land,—
Applauding carelessly, as one The weaker willing to befriend Until the quarrel's at an end, Then learn by whom it was begun.
When North was pitted against South Non-combatants on either side In calculating fury vied, And fought their foes by word of mouth.
That devil's-camisade you led With formidable feats of tongue. Upon the battle's rear you hung— With Samson's weapon slew the dead!
So hot the ardor of your soul That every fierce civilian came, His torch to kindle at your name, Or have you blow his cooling coal.
Men prematurely left their beds And sought the gelid bath—so great The heat and splendor of your hate Of Englishmen and "Copperheads."
King Liar of deceitful men, For imposition doubly armed! The patriots whom your speaking charmed You stung to madness with your pen.
There was a certain journal here, Its English owner growing rich— Your hand the treason wrote for which A mob cut short its curst career.
If, Pixley, you had not the brain To know the true from false, or you To Truth had courage to be true, And loyal to her perfect reign;
If you had not your powers arrayed To serve the wrong by tricksy speech, Nor pushed yourself within the reach Of retribution's accolade,
I had not had the will to go Outside the olive-bordered path Of peace to cut the birch of wrath, And strip your body for the blow.
Behold how dark the war-clouds rise About the mother of our race! The lightnings gild her tranquil face And glitter in her patient eyes.
Her children throng the hither flood And lean intent above the beach. Their beating hearts inhibit speech With stifling tides of English blood.
"Their skies, but not their hearts, they change Who go in ships across the sea"— Through all centuries to be The strange new land will still be strange.
The Island Mother holds in gage The souls of sons she never saw; Superior to law, the law Of sympathetic heritage.
Forgotten now the foolish reign Of wrath which sundered trivial ties. A soldier's sabre vainly tries To cleave a spiritual chain.
The iron in our blood affines, Though fratricidal hands may spill. Shall Hate be throned on Bunker Hill, Yet Love abide at Seven Pines?
A CULINARY CANDIDATE
A cook adorned with paper cap, Or waiter with a tray, May be a worthy kind of chap In his way, But when we want one for Recorder, Then, Mr. Walton, take our order.
THE OLEOMARGARINE MAN
Once—in the county of Marin, Where milk is sold to purchase gin— Renowned for butter and renowned For fourteen ounces to the pound— A bull stood watching every turn Of Mr. Wilson with a churn, As that deigning worthy stalked About him, eying as he walked, El Toro's sleek and silken hide, His neck, his flank and all beside; Thinking with secret joy: "I'll spread That mammal on a slice of bread!"
Soon Mr. Wilson's keen concern To get the creature in his churn Unhorsed his caution—made him blind To the fell vigor of bullkind, Till, filled with valor to the teeth, He drew his dasher from its sheath And bravely brandished it; the while He smiled a dark, portentous smile; A deep, sepulchral smile; a wide And open smile, which, at his side, The churn to copy vainly tried; A smile so like the dawn of doom That all the field was palled in gloom, And all the trees within a mile, As tribute to that awful smile, Made haste, with loyalty discreet, To fling their shadows at his feet. Then rose his battle-cry: "I'll spread That mammal on a slice of bread!"
To such a night the day had turned That Taurus dimly was discerned. He wore so meek and grave an air It seemed as if, engaged in prayer This thunderbolt incarnate had No thought of anything that's bad: This concentrated earthquake stood And gave his mind to being good. Lightly and low he drew his breath— This magazine of sudden death! All this the thrifty Wilson's glance Took in, and, crying, "Now's my chance!" Upon the bull he sprang amain To put him in his churn. Again Rang out his battle-yell: "I'll spread That mammal on a slice of bread!"
Sing, Muse, that battle-royal—sing The deeds that made the region ring, The blows, the bellowing, the cries, The dust that darkened all the skies, The thunders of the contest, all— Nay, none of these things did befall. A yell there was—a rush—no more: El Toro, tranquil as before, Still stood there basking in the sun, Nor of his legs had shifted one— Stood there and conjured up his cud And meekly munched it. Scenes of blood Had little charm for him. His head He merely nodded as he said: "I've spread that butterman upon A slice of Southern Oregon."
God said, "Let there be Crime," and the command Brought Satan, leading Stoneman by the hand. "Why, that's Stupidity, not Crime," said God— "Bring what I ordered." Satan with a nod Replied, "This is one element—when I The other—Opportunity—supply In just equivalent, the two'll affine And in a chemical embrace combine And Crime result—for Crime can only be Stupiditate of Opportunity." So leaving Stoneman (not as yet endowed With soul) in special session on a cloud, Nick to his sooty laboratory went, Returning soon with t'other element. "Here's Opportunity," he said, and put Pen, ink, and paper down at Stoneman's foot. He seized them—Heaven was filled with fires and thunders, And Crime was added to Creation's wonders!
Villain, when the word is spoken, And your chains at last are broken When the gibbet's chilling shade Ceases darkly to enfold you, And the angel who enrolled you As a master of the trade Of assassination sadly Blots the record he has made, And your name and title paints In the calendar of saints; When the devils, dancing madly In the midmost Hell, are very Multitudinously merry— Then beware, beware, beware!—- Nemesis is everywhere! You shall hear her at your back, And, your hunted visage turning, Fancy that her eyes are burning Like a tiger's on your track! You shall hear her in the breeze Whispering to summer trees. You shall hear her calling, calling To your spirit through the storm When the giant billows form And the splintered lightning, falling Down the heights of Heaven, appalling, Splendors all the tossing seas! On your bed at night reclining, Stars into your chamber shining As they roll around the Pole, None their purposes divining, Shall appear to search your soul, And to gild the mark of Cain That burns into your tortured brain! And the dead man's eyes shall ever Meet your own wherever you, Desperate, shall turn you to, And you shall escape them never!
By your heritage of guilt; By the blood that you have spilt; By the Law that you have broken; By the terrible red token That you bear upon your brow; By the awful sentence spoken And irrevocable vow Which consigns you to a living Death and to the unforgiving Furies who avenge your crime Through the periods of time; By that dread eternal doom Hinted in your future's gloom, As the flames infernal tell Of their power and perfection In their wavering reflection On the battlements of Hell; By the mercy you denied, I condemn your guilty soul In your body to abide, Like a serpent in a hole!
THE SUNSET GUN.
Off Santa Cruz the western wave Was crimson as with blood: The sun was sinking to his grave Beneath that angry flood.
Sir Walter Turnbull, brave and stout, Then shouted, "Ho! lads; run— The powder and the ball bring out To fire the sunset gun.
"That punctual orb did ne'er omit To keep, by land or sea, Its every engagement; it Shall never wait for me."
Behold the black-mouthed cannon stand, Ready with charge and prime, The lanyard in the gunner's hand. Sir Walter waits the time.
The glowing orb sinks in the sea, And clouds of steam aspire, Then fade, and the horizon's free. Sir Walter thunders: "Fire!"
The gunner pulls—the lanyard parts And not a sound ensues. The beating of ten thousand hearts Was heard at Santa Cruz!
Off Santa Cruz the western wave Was crimson as with blood; The sun, with visage stern and grave, Came back from out the flood.
THE "VIDUATE DAME"
'Tis the widow of Thomas Blythe, And she goeth upon the spree, And red are cheeks of the bystanders For her acts are light and free.
In a seven-ounce costume The widow of Thomas Blythe, Y-perched high on the window ledge, The difficult can-can tryeth.
Ten constables they essay To bate the dame's halloing. With the widow of Thomas Blythe Their hands are overflowing,
And they cry: "Call the National Guard To quell this parlous muss— For all of the widows of Thomas Blythe Are upon the spree and us!"
O long shall the eerie tale be told By that posse's surviving tithe; And with tears bedewed he'll sing this rude Ballad of the widow of Thomas Blythe.
FOUR OF A KIND
ROBERT F. MORROW
Dear man! although a stranger and a foe To soft affection's humanizing glow; Although untaught how manly hearts may throb With more desires than the desire to rob; Although as void of tenderness as wit, And owning nothing soft but Maurice Schmitt; Although polluted, shunned and in disgrace, You fill me with a passion to embrace! Attentive to your look, your smile, your beck, I watch and wait to fall upon your neck. Lord of my love, and idol of my hope, You are my Valentine, and I'm A ROPE.
ALFRED CLARKE JR.
Illustrious son of an illustrious sire— Entrusted with the duty to cry "Fire!" And call the engines out, exert your power With care. When, looking from your lofty tower, You see a ruddy light on every wall, Pause for a moment ere you sound the call: It may be from a fire, it may be, too, From good men's blushes when they think of you.
Sultan of Stupids! with enough of brains To go indoors in all uncommon rains, But not enough to stay there when the storm Is past. When all the world is dry and warm, In irking comfort, lamentably gay, Keeping the evil tenor of your way, You walk abroad, sweet, beautiful and smug, And Justice hears you with her wonted shrug, Lifts her broad bandage half-an-inch and keeps One eye upon you while the other weeps.
Happy the man who sin's proverbial wage Receives on the instalment plan—in age. For him the bulldog pistol's honest bark Has naught of terror in its blunt remark. He looks with calmness on the gleaming steel— If e'er it touched his heart he did not feel: Superior hardness turned its point away, Though urged by fond affinity to stay; His bloodless veins ignored the futile stroke, And moral mildew kept the cut in cloak. Happy the man, I say, to whom the wage Of sin has been commuted into age. Yet not quite happy—hark, that horrid cry!— His cruel mirror wounds him in the eye!
Stanford and Huntington, so long at outs, Kissed and made up. If you have any doubts Dismiss them, for I saw them do it, man; And then—why, then I clutched my purse and ran.
A VISION OF CLIMATE
I dreamed that I was poor and sick and sad, Broken in hope and weary of my life; My ventures all miscarrying—naught had For all my labor in the heat and strife. And in my heart some certain thoughts were rife Of an unsummoned exit. As I lay Considering my bitter state, I cried: "Alas! that hither I did ever stray. Better in some fair country to have died Than live in such a land, where Fortune never (Unless he be successful) crowns Endeavor."
Then, even as I lamented, lo! there came A troop of Presences—I knew not whence Nor what they were: thought cannot rightly name What's known through spiritual evidence, Reported not by gross material sense. "Why come ye here?" I seemed to cry (though naught My sleeping tongue did utter) to the first— "What are ye?—with what woful message fraught? Ye have a ghastly look, as ye had burst Some sepulcher in memory. Weird creatures, I'm sure I'd know you if ye had but features."
Some subtle organ noted the reply (Inaudible to ear of flesh the tone): "The Finest Climate in the World am I, From Siskiyou to San Diego known— From the Sierra to the sea. The zone Called semi-tropical I've pulled about And placed it where it does most good, I trust. I shake my never-failing bounty out Alike upon the just and the unjust." "That's very true," said I, "but when 'tis shaken My share by the unjust is ever taken."
"Permit me," it resumed, "now to present My eldest son, the Champagne Atmosphere, And others to rebuke your discontent— The Mammoth Squash, Strawberry All the Year, The fair No Lightning—flashing only here— The Wholesome Earthquake and Italian Sky, With its Unstriking Sun; and last, not least, The Compos Mentis Dog. Now, ingrate, try To bring a better stomach to the feast: When Nature makes a dance and pays the piper, To be unhappy is to be a viper!"
"Why, yet," said I, "with all your blessings fine (And Heaven forbid that I should speak them ill) I yet am poor and sick and sad. Ye shine With more of splendor than of heat: for still, Although my will is warm, my bones are chill." "Then warm you with enthusiasm's blaze— Fortune waits not on toil," they cried; "O then Join the wild chorus clamoring our praise— Throw up your beaver and throw down you pen!" "Begone!" I shouted. They bewent, a-smirking, And I, awakening, fell straight a-working.
A "MASS" MEETING
It was a solemn rite as e'er Was seen by mortal man. The celebrants, the people there, Were all Republican.
There Estee bent his grizzled head, And General Dimond, too, And one—'twas Reddick, some one said, Though no one clearly knew.
I saw the priest, white-robed and tall (Assistant, Father Stow)— He was the pious man men call Dan Burns of Mexico.
Ah, 'twas a high and holy rite As any one could swear. "What does it mean?" I asked a wight Who knelt apart in prayer.
"A mass for the repose," he said, "Of Colonel Markham's"——"What, Is gallant Colonel Markham dead? 'Tis sad, 'tis sad, God wot!"
"A mass"—repeated he, and rose To go and kneel among The worshipers—"for the repose Of Colonel Markham's tongue."
FOR PRESIDENT, LELAND STANFORD
Mahomet Stanford, with covetous stare, Gazed on a vision surpassingly fair: Far on the desert's remote extreme A mountain of gold with a mellow gleam Reared its high pinnacles into the sky, The work of mirage to delude the eye. Pixley Pasha, at the Prophet's feet Piously licking them, swearing them sweet, Ventured, observing his master's glance, To beg that he order the mountain's advance. Mahomet Stanford exerted his will, Commanding: "In Allah's name, hither, hill!" Never an inch the mountain came. Mahomet Stanford, with face aflame, Lifted his foot and kicked, alack! Pixley Pasha on the end of the back. Mollified thus and smiling free, He said: "Since the mountain won't come to me, I'll go to the mountain." With infinite pains, Camels in caravans, negroes in trains, Warriors, workmen, women, and fools, Food and water and mining tools He gathered about him, a mighty array, And the journey began at the close of day. All night they traveled—at early dawn Many a wearisome league had gone. Morning broke fair with a golden sheen, Mountain, alas, was nowhere seen! Mahomet Stanford pounded his breast, Pixley Pasha he thus addressed: "Dog of mendacity, cheat and slave, May jackasses sing o'er your grandfather's grave!"
O Abner Doble—whose "catarrhal name" Budd of that ilk might envy—'tis a rough Rude thing to say, but it is plain enough Your name is to be sneezed at: its acclaim Will "fill the speaking trump of future fame" With an impeded utterance—a puff Suggesting that a pinch or two of snuff Would clear the tube and somewhat disinflame. Nay, Abner Doble, you'll not get from me My voice and influence: I'll cheer instead, Some other man; for when my voice ascends a Tall pinnacle of praise, and at high C Sustains a chosen name, it shan't be said My influence is naught but influenza.
A CHEATING PREACHER
Munhall, to save my soul you bravely try, Although, to save my soul, I can't say why. 'Tis naught to you, to me however much— Why, bless it! you might save a million such Yet lose your own; for still the "means of grace" That you employ to turn us from the place By the arch-enemy of souls frequented Are those which to ensnare us he invented! I do not say you utter falsehoods—I Would scorn to give to ministers the lie: They cannot fight—their calling has estopped it. True, I did not persuade them to adopt it. But, Munhall, when you say the Devil dwells In all the breasts of all the infidels— Making a lot of individual Hells In gentlemen instinctively who shrink From thinking anything that you could think, You talk as I should if some world I trod Where lying is acceptable to God. I don't at all object—forbid it Heaven!— That your discourse you temperately leaven With airy reference to wicked souls Cursing impenitent on glowing coals, Nor quarrel with your fancy, blithe and fine, Which represents the wickedest as mine. Each ornament of style my spirit eases: The subject saddens, but the manner pleases. But when you "deal damnation round" 'twere sweet To think hereafter that you did not cheat. Deal, and let all accept what you allot 'em. But, blast you! you are dealing from the bottom!
Nay, Peter Robertson, 'tis not for you To blubber o'er Max Taubles for he's dead. By Heaven! my hearty, if you only knew How better is a grave-worm in the head Than brains like yours—how far more decent, too, A tomb in far Corea than a bed Where Peter lies with Peter, you would covet His happier state and, dying, learn to love it.
In the recesses of the silent tomb No Maunderings of yours disturb the peace. Your mental bag-pipe, droning like the gloom Of Hades audible, perforce must cease From troubling further; and that crack o' doom, Your mouth, shaped like a long bow, shall release In vain such shafts of wit as it can utter— The ear of death can't even hear them flutter.
THE AMERICAN PARTY
Oh, Marcus D. Boruck, me hearty, I sympathize wid ye, poor lad! A man that's shot out of his party Is mighty onlucky, bedad! An' the sowl o' that man is sad.
But, Marcus, gossoon, ye desarve it— Ye know for yerself that ye do, For ye j'ined not intendin' to sarve it, But hopin' to make it sarve you, Though the roll of its members wuz two.
The other wuz Pixley, an' "Surely," Ye said, "he's a kite that wall sail." An' so ye hung till him securely, Enactin' the role of a tail. But there wuzn't the ghost of a gale!
But the party to-day has behind it A powerful backin', I'm told; For just enough Irish have j'ined it (An' I'm m'anin' to be enrolled) To kick ye out into the cold.
It's hard on ye, darlint, I'm thinkin'— So young—so American, too— Wid bypassers grinnin' an' winkin', An' sayin', wid ref'rence to you: "Get onto the murtherin' Joo!"
Republicans never will take ye— They had ye for many a year; An' Dimocrats—angels forsake ye!— If ever ye come about here We'll brand ye and scollop yer ear!
Though war-signs fail in time of peace, they say, Two awful portents gloom the public mind: All Mexico is arming for the fray And Colonel Mark McDonald has resigned! We know not by what instinct he divined The coming trouble—may be, like the steed Described by Job, he smelled the fight afar. Howe'er it be, he left, and for that deed Is an aspirant to the G.A.R. When cannon flame along the Rio Grande A citizen's commission will be handy.
THE GATES AJAR
The Day of Judgment spread its glare O'er continents and seas. The graves cracked open everywhere, Like pods of early peas.
Up to the Court of Heaven sped The souls of all mankind; Republicans were at the head And Democrats behind.
Reub. Lloyd was there before the tube Of Gabriel could call: The dead in Christ rise first, and Reub. Had risen first of all.
He sat beside the Throne of Flame As, to the trumpet's sound, Four statesmen of the Party Came And ranged themselves around—
Pure spirits shining like the sun, From taint and blemish free— Great William Stow was there for one, And George A. Knight for three.
Souls less indubitably white Approached with anxious air, Judge Blake at head of them by right Of having been a Mayor.
His ermine he had donned again, Long laid away in gums. 'Twas soiled a trifle by the stains Of politicians' thumbs.
Then Knight addressed the Judge of Heaven: "Your Honor, would it trench On custom here if Blake were given A seat upon the Bench?"
'Twas done. "Tom Shannon!" Peter cried. He came, without ado, In forma pauperis was tried, And was acquitted, too!
Stow rose, remarking: "I concur." Lloyd added: "That suits us. I move Tom's nomination, sir, Be made unanimous."
TIDINGS OF GOOD
Old Nick from his place of last resort Came up and looked the world over. He saw how the grass of the good was short And the wicked lived in clover.
And he gravely said: "This is all, all wrong, And never by me intended. If to me the power should ever belong I shall have this thing amended."
He looked so solemn and good and wise As he made this observation That the men who heard him believed their eyes Instead of his reputation.
So they bruited the matter about, and each Reported the words as nearly As memory served—with additional speech To bring out the meaning clearly.
The consequence was that none understood, And the wildest rumors started Of something intended to help the good And injure the evil-hearted.
Then Robert Morrow was seen to smile With a bright and lively joyance. "A man," said he, "that is free from guile Will now be free from annoyance.
"The Featherstones doubtless will now increase And multiply like the rabbits, While jailers, deputy sheriffs, police, And writers will form good habits.
"The widows more easily robbed will be, And no juror will ever heed 'em, But open his purse to my eloquent plea For security, gain, or freedom."
When Benson heard of the luck of the good (He was eating his dinner) he muttered: "It cannot help me, for 'tis understood My bread is already buttered.
"My plats of surveys are all false, they say, But that cannot greatly matter To me, for I'll tell the jurors that they May lick, if they please, my platter."
[Californians are asking themselves how Joaquin Miller will make the trees grow which he proposes to plant in the form of a Maltese cross on Goat Island, in San Francisco Bay.—New York Graphic.]
You may say they won't grow, and say they'll decay— Say it again till you're sick of the say, Get up on your ear, blow your blaring bazoo And hire a hall to proclaim it; and you May stand on a stump with a lifted hand As a pine may stand or a redwood stand, And stick to your story and cheek it through. But I point with pride to the far divide Where the Snake from its groves is seen to glide— To Mariposa's arboreal suit, And the shaggy shoulders of Shasta Butte, And the feathered firs of Siskiyou; And I swear as I sit on my marvelous hair— I roll my marvelous eyes and swear, And sneer, and ask where would your forests be To-day if it hadn't been for me! Then I rise tip-toe, with a brow of brass, Like a bully boy with an eye of glass; I look at my gum sprouts, red and blue, And I say it loud and I say it low: "They know their man and you bet they'll grow!"
A SILURIAN HOLIDAY
'Tis Master Fitch, the editor; He takes an holiday. Now wherefore, venerable sir, So resolutely gay?
He lifts his head, he laughs aloud, Odzounds! 'tis drear to see! "Because the Boodle-Scribbler crowd Will soon be far from me.
"Full many a year I've striven well To freeze the caitiffs out By making this good town a Hell, But still they hang about.
"They maken mouths and eke they grin At the dollar limit game; And they are holpen in that sin By many a wicked dame.
"In sylvan bowers hence I'll dwell My bruised mind to ease. Farewell, ye urban scenes, farewell! Hail, unfamiliar trees!"
Forth Master Fitch did bravely hie, And all the country folk Besought him that he come not nigh The deadly poison oak!
He smiled a cheerful smile (the day Was straightway overcast)— The poison oak along his way Was blighted as he passed!
When Dr. Charles O'Donnell died They sank a box with him inside.
The plate with his initials three Was simply graven—"C.O.D."
That night two demons of the Pit Adown the coal-hole shunted it.
Ten million million leagues it fell, Alighting at the gate of Hell.
Nick looked upon it with surprise, A night-storm darkening his eyes.
"They've sent this rubbish, C.O.D.— I'll never pay a cent!" said he.
Judge Armstrong, when the poor have sought your aid, To be released from vows that they have made In haste, and leisurely repented, you, As stern as Rhadamanthus (Minos too, And AEeacus) have drawn your fierce brows down And petrified them with a moral frown! With iron-faced rigor you have made them run The gauntlet of publicity—each Hun Or Vandal of the public press allowed To throw their households open to the crowd And bawl their secret bickerings aloud. When Wealth before you suppliant appears, Bang! go the doors and open fly your ears! The blinds are drawn, the lights diminished burn, Lest eyes too curious should look and learn That gold refines not, sweetens not a life Of conjugal brutality and strife— That vice is vulgar, though it gilded shine Upon the curve of a judicial spine. The veiled complainant's whispered evidence, The plain collusion and the no defense, The sealed exhibits and the secret plea, The unrecorded and unseen decree, The midnight signature and—chink! chink! chink!— Nay, pardon, upright Judge, I did but think I heard that sound abhorred of honest men; No doubt it was the scratching of your pen.
O California! long-enduring land, Where Judges fawn upon the Golden Hand, Proud of such service to that rascal thing As slaves would blush to render to a king— Judges, of judgment destitute and heart, Of conscience conscious only by the smart From the recoil (so insight is enlarged) Of duty accidentally discharged;— Invoking still a "song o' sixpence" from The Scottish fiddle of each lusty palm, Thy Judges, California, skilled to play This silent music, through the livelong-day Perform obsequious before the rich, And still the more they scratch the more they itch!
ON THE WEDDING OF AN AERONAUT
Aeronaut, you're fairly caught, Despite your bubble's leaven: Out of the skies a lady's eyes Have brought you down to Heaven!
No more, no more you'll freely soar Above the grass and gravel: Henceforth you'll walk—and she will chalk The line that you're to travel!
A HASTY INFERENCE
The Devil one day, coming up from the Pit, All grimy with perspiration, Applied to St. Peter and begged he'd admit Him a moment for consultation.
The Saint showed him in where the Master reclined On the throne where petitioners sought him; Both bowed, and the Evil One opened his mind Concerning the business that brought him:
"For ten million years I've been kept in a stew Because you have thought me immoral; And though I have had my opinion of you, You've had the best end of the quarrel.
"But now—well, I venture to hope that the past With its misunderstandings we'll smother; And you, sir, and I, sir, be throned here at last As equals, the one to the other."
"Indeed!" said the Master (I cannot convey A sense of his tone by mere letters) "What makes you presume you'll be bidden to stay Up here on such terms with your betters?"
"Why, sure you can't mean it!" said Satan. "I've seen How Stanford and Crocker you've nourished, And Huntington—bless me! the three like a green Umbrageous great bay-tree have flourished.
They are fat, they are rolling in gold, they command All sources and well-springs of power; You've given them houses, you've given them land— Before them the righteous all cower."
"What of that?" "What of that?" cried the Father of Sin; "Why, I thought when I saw you were winking At crimes such as theirs that perhaps you had been Converted to my way of thinking."
Who's this that lispeth in the thickening throng Which crowds to claim distinction in my song? Fresh from "the palms and temples of the South," The mixed aromas quarrel in his mouth: Of orange blossoms this the lingering gale, And that the odor of a spicy tale. Sir, in thy pleasure-dome down by the sea (No finer one did Kubla Khan decree) Where, Master of the Revels, thou dost stand With joys and mysteries on either hand, Dost keep a poet to report the rites And sing the tale of those Elysian nights? Faith, sir, I'd like the place if not too young. I'm no great bard, but—I can hold my tongue.
I know not, Mr. Catton, who you are, Nor very clearly why; but you go far To show that you are many things beside A Chilean Consul with a tempting hide; But what they are I hardly could explain Without afflicting you with mental pain. Your name (gods! what a name the muse to woo— Suggesting cats, and hinting kittens, too!) Points to an origin—perhaps Maltese, Perhaps Angoran—where the wicked cease From fiddling, and the animals that grow The strings that groan to the tormenting bow Live undespoiled of their insides, resigned To give their name and nature to mankind. With Chilean birth your name but poorly tallies; The test is—Did you ever sell tamales?
It matters very little, though, my boy, If you're from Chile or from Illinois; You can't, because you serve a foreign land, Spit with impunity on ours, expand, Cock-turkeywise, and strut with blind conceit, All heedless of the hearts beneath your feet, Fling falsehoods as a sower scatters grain And, for security, invoke disdain. Sir, there are laws that men of sense observe, No matter whence they come nor whom they serve— The laws of courtesy; and these forbid You to malign, as recently you did, As servant of another State, a State Wherein your duties all are concentrate; Branding its Ministers as rogues—in short, Inviting cuffs as suitable retort.
Chileno or American, 'tis one— Of any land a citizen, or none— If like a new Thersites here you rail, Loading with libels every western gale, You'll feel the cudgel on your scurvy hump Impinging with a salutary thump. 'Twill make you civil or 'twill make you jump!
THE NATIONAL GUARDSMAN
I'm a gorgeous golden hero And my trade is taking life. Hear the twittle-twittle-tweero Of my sibillating fife And the rub-a-dub-a-dum Of my big bass drum! I'm an escort strong and bold, The Grand Army to protect. My countenance is cold And my attitude erect. I'm a Californian Guard And my banner flies aloft, But the stones are O, so hard! And my feet are O, so soft!
THE BARKING WEASEL
You say, John Irish, Mr. Taylor hath A painted beard. Quite likely that is true, And sure 'tis natural you spend your wrath On what has been least merciful to you. By Taylor's chin, if I am not mistaken, You like a rat have recently been shaken.
To wear a beard of artificial hue May be or this or that, I know not what; But, faith, 'tis better to be black-and-blue In beard from dallying with brush and pot Than to be so in body from the beating That hardy rogues get when detected cheating.
You're whacked about the mazzard rather more Of late than any other man in town. Certes your vulnerable back is sore And tender, too, your corrigible crown. In truth your whole periphery discloses More vivid colors than a bed of posies!
You call it glory! Put your tongue in sheath!— Scars got in battle, even if on the breast, May be a shameful record if, beneath, A robber heart a lawless strife attest. John Sullivan had wounds, and Paddy Ryan— Nay, as to that, even Masten has, and Bryan.
'Tis willingly conceded you've a knack At holding the attention of the town; The worse for you when you have on your back What did not grow there—prithee put it down! For pride kills thrift, and you lack board and lodging, Even while the brickbats of renown you're dodging.
A REAR ELEVATION
[He can speak with his eyes, his hands, arms, legs, body—nay, with his very bones, for he turned the broad of his back upon us in "Conrad," the other night, and his shoulder-blades spoke to us a volume of hesitation, fear, submission, desperation—everything which could haunt a man at the moment of inevitable detection.—A "Dramatic Critic."]
Once Moses (in Scripture the story is told) Entreated the favor God's face to behold. Compassion divine the petition denied Lest vision be blasted and body be fried. Yet this much, the Record informs us, took place: Jehovah, concealing His terrible face, Protruded His rear from behind a great rock, And edification ensued without shock. So godlike Salvini, lest worshipers die, Averting the blaze of his withering eye, Tempers his terrors and shows to the pack Of feeble adorers the broad of his back. The fires of their altars, which, paled and declined Before him, burn all the more brightly behind. O happy adorers, to care not at all Where fawning may tickle or lip-service fall!
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!
There were brave men, some one has truly said, Before Atrides (those were mostly dead Behind him) and ere you could e'er occur Actaeon lived, Nimrod and Bahram-Gur. In strength and speed and daring they excelled: The stag they overtook, the lion felled. Ah, yes, great hunters flourished before you, And—for Munchausen lived—great talkers too. There'll be no more; there's much to kill, but—well, You have left nothing in the world to tell!
So, Parson Stebbins, you've released your chin To say that here, and here, we press-folk ail. 'Tis a great thing an editor to skin And hang his faulty pelt upon a nail (If over-eared, it has, at least, no tail) And, for an admonition against sin, Point out its maculations with a rod, And act, in short, the gentleman of God.
'Twere needless cruelty to spoil your sport By comment, critical or merely rude; But you, too, have, according to report, Despite your posing as a holy dude, Imperfect spiritual pulchritude For so severe a judge. May't please the court, We shall appeal and take our case at once Before that higher court, a taller dunce.
Sir, what were you without the press? What spreads The fame of your existence, once a week, From the Pacific Mail dock to the Heads, Warning the people you're about to wreak Upon the human ear your Sunday freak?— Whereat the most betake them to their bed Though some prefer to slumber in the pews And nod assent to your hypnotic views.
Unhappy man! can you not still your tongue When (like a luckless brat afflict with worms, By cruel fleas intolerably stung, Or with a pang in its small lap) it squirms? Still must it vulgarize your feats of lung? No preaching better were, the sun beneath, If you had nothing there behind your teeth.
Writer folk across the bay Take the pains to see and say— All their upward palms in air: "Joaquin Miller's cut his hair!" Hasten, hasten, writer folk— In the gutters rake and poke, If by God's exceeding grace You may hit upon the place Where the barber threw at length Samson's literary strength. Find it, find it if you can; Happy the successful man! He has but to put one strand In his beaver's inner band And his intellect will soar As it never did before! While an inch of it remains He will noted be for brains, And at last ('twill so befall) Fit to cease to write at all.
THE FYGHTYNGE SEVENTH
It is the gallant Seventh— It fyghteth faste and free! God wot the where it fyghteth I ne desyre to be.
The Gonfalon it flyeth, Seeming a Flayme in Sky; The Bugel loud yblowen is, Which sayeth, Doe and dye!
And (O good Saints defende us Agaynst the Woes of Warr) Drawn Tongues are flashing deadly To smyte the Foeman sore!
With divers kinds of Riddance The smoaking Earth is wet, And all aflowe to seaward goe The Torrents wide of Sweat!
The Thunder of the Captens, And eke the Shouting, mayketh Such horrid Din the Soule within The boddy of me quayketh!
Who fyghteth the bold Seventh? What haughty Power defyes? Their Colonel 'tis they drubben sore, And dammen too his Eyes!
Dear Bruner, once we had a little talk (That is to say, 'twas I did all the talking) About the manner of your moral walk: How devious the trail you made in stalking, On level ground, your law-protected game— "Another's Dollar" is, I think, its name.
Your crooked course more recently is not So blamable; for, truly, you have stumbled On evil days; and 'tis your luckless lot To traverse spaces (with a spirit humbled, Contrite, dejected and divinely sad) Where, 'tis confessed, the walking's rather bad.
Jordan, the song says, is a road (I thought It was a river) that is hard to travel; And Dublin, if you'd find it, must be sought Along a highway with more rocks than gravel. In difficulty neither can compete With that wherein you navigate your feet.
As once George Gorham said of Pixley, so I say of you: "The prison yawns before you, The turnkey stalks behind!" Now will you go? Or lag, and let that functionary floor you? To change the metaphor—you seem to be Between Judge Wallace and the deep, deep sea!
OVER THE BORDER
O, justice, you have fled, to dwell In Mexico, unstrangled, Lest you should hang as high as—well, As Haman dangled.
(I know not if his cord he twanged, Or the King proved forgiving. 'Tis hard to think of Haman hanged, And Haymond living.)
Yes, as I said: in mortal fear To Mexico you journeyed; For you were on your trial here, And ill attorneyed.
The Law had long regarded you As an extreme offender. Religion looked upon you, too, With thoughts untender.
The Press to you was cold as snow, For sin you'd always call so. In Politics you were de trop, In Morals also.
All this is accurately true And, faith! there might be more said; But—well, to save your thrapple you Fled, as aforesaid.
You're down in Mexico—that's plain As that the sun is risen; For Daniel Burns, down there, his chain Drags round in prison.
Wallace, created on a noble plan To show us that a Judge can be a Man; Through moral mire exhaling mortal stench God-guided sweet and foot-clean to the Bench; In salutation here and sign I lift A hand as free as yours from lawless thrift, A heart—ah, would I truly could proclaim My bosom lighted with so pure a flame! Alas, not love of justice moves my pen To praise, or to condemn, my fellow men. Good will and ill its busy point incite: I do but gratify them when I write. In palliation, though, I'd humbly state, I love the righteous and the wicked hate. So, sir, although we differ we agree, Our work alike from persecution free, And Heaven, approving you, consents to me. Take, therefore, from this not all useless hand The crown of honor—not in all the land One honest man dissenting from the choice, Nor in approval one Fred. Crocker's voice!
TO AN INSOLENT ATTORNEY
So, Hall McAllister, you'll not be warned— My protest slighted, admonition scorned! To save your scoundrel client from a cell As loth to swallow him as he to swell Its sum of meals insurgent (it decries All wars intestinal with meats that rise) You turn your scurril tongue against the press And damn the agency you ought to bless. Had not the press with all its hundred eyes Discerned the wolf beneath the sheep's disguise And raised the cry upon him, he to-day Would lack your company, and you would lack his pay.
Talk not of "hire" and consciences for sale— You whose profession 'tis to threaten, rail, Calumniate and libel at the will Of any villain who can pay the bill— You whose most honest dollars all were got By saying for a fee "the thing that's not!" To you 'tis one, to challenge or defend; Clients are means, their money is an end. In my profession sometimes, as in yours Always, a payment large enough secures A mercenary service to defend The guilty or the innocent to rend. But mark the difference, nor think it slight: We do not hold it proper, just and right; Of selfish lies a little still we shame And give our villainies another name. Hypocrisy's an ugly vice, no doubt, But blushing sinners can't get on without. Happy the lawyer!—at his favored hands Nor truth nor decency the world demands. Secure in his immunity from shame, His cheek ne'er kindles with the tell-tale flame. His brains for sale, morality for hire, In every land and century a licensed liar!
No doubt, McAllister, you can explain How honorable 'tis to lie for gain, Provided only that the jury's made To understand that lying is your trade. A hundred thousand volumes, broad and flat, (The Bible not included) proving that, Have been put forth, though still the doubt remains If God has read them with befitting pains. No Morrow could get justice, you'll declare, If none who knew him foul affirmed him fair. Ingenious man! how easy 'tis to raise An argument to justify the course that pays!
I grant you, if you like, that men may need The services performed for crime by greed,— Grant that the perfect welfare of the State Requires the aid of those who in debate As mercenaries lost in early youth The fine distinction between lie and truth— Who cheat in argument and set a snare To take the feet of Justice unaware— Who serve with livelier zeal when rogues assist With perjury, embracery (the list Is long to quote) than when an honest soul, Scorning to plot, conspire, intrigue, cajole, Reminds them (their astonishment how great!) He'd rather suffer wrong than perpetrate. I grant, in short, 'tis better all around That ambidextrous consciences abound In courts of law to do the dirty work That self-respecting scavengers would shirk. What then? Who serves however clean a plan By doing dirty work, he is a dirty man!
Charles Shortridge once to St. Peter came. "Down!" cried the saint with his face aflame; "'Tis writ that every hardy liar Shall dwell forever and ever in fire!" "That's what I said the night that I died," The sinner, turning away, replied. "What! you said that?" cried the saint—"what! what! You said 'twas so writ? Then, faith, 'tis not! I'm a devil at quoting, but I begin To fail in my memory. Pray walk in."
A PROMISED FAST TRAIN
I turned my eyes upon the Future's scroll And saw its pictured prophecies unroll.
I saw that magical life-laden train Flash its long glories o'er Nebraska's plain.
I saw it smoothly up the mountain glide. "O happy, happy passengers!" I cried.
For Pleasure, singing, drowned the engine's roar, And Hope on joyous pinions flew before.
Then dived the train adown the sunset slope— Pleasure was silent and unseen was Hope.
Crashes and shrieks attested the decay That greed had wrought upon that iron way.
The rusted rails broke down the rotting ties, And clouds of flying spikes obscured the skies.
My coward eyes I drew away, distressed, And fixed them on the terminus to-West,
Where soon, its melancholy tale to tell, One bloody car-wheel wabbled in and fell!
ONE OF THE SAINTS
Big Smith is an Oakland School Board man, And he looks as good as ever he can; And he's such a cold and a chaste Big Smith That snowflakes all are his kin and kith. Wherever his eye he chances to throw The crystals of ice begin to grow; And the fruits and flowers he sees are lost By the singeing touch of a sudden frost. The women all shiver whenever he's near, And look upon us with a look austere— Effect of the Smithian atmosphere. Such, in a word, is the moral plan Of the Big, Big Smith, the School Board man. When told that Madame Ferrier had taught Hernani in school, his fist he brought Like a trip-hammer down on his bulbous knee, And he roared: "Her Nanny? By gum, we'll see If the public's time she dares devote To the educatin' of any dam goat!" "You do not entirely comprehend— Hernani's a play," said his learned friend, "By Victor Hugo—immoral and bad. What's worse, it's French!" "Well, well, my lad," Said Smith, "if he cuts a swath so wide I'll have him took re'glar up and tried!" And he smiled so sweetly the other chap Thought that himself was a Finn or Lapp Caught in a storm of his native snows, With a purple ear and an azure nose. The Smith continued: "I never pursue Immoral readin'." And that is true: He's a saint of remarkably high degree, With a mind as chaste as a mind can be; But read!—the devil a word can he!
A MILITARY INCIDENT
Dawn heralded the coming sun— Fort Douglas was computing The minutes—and the sunrise gun Was manned for his saluting.
The gunner at that firearm stood, The which he slowly loaded, When, bang!—I know not how it could, But sure the charge exploded!
Yes, to that veteran's surprise The gun went off sublimely, And both his busy arms likewise Went off with it, untimely.
Then said that gunner to his mate (He was from Ballyshannon): "Bedad, the sun's a minute late, Accardin' to this cannon!"
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!
THE COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC MORALS
The Senate met in Sacramento city; On public morals it had no committee Though greatly these abounded. Soon the quiet Was broken by the Senators in riot. Now, at the end of their contagious quarrels, There's a committee but no public morals.
[The Chinaman's Assailant was allowed to walk quietly away, although the street was filled with pedestrians.—Newspaper.]
Why should he not have been allowed To thread with peaceful feet the crowd Which filled that Christian street? The Decalogue he had observed, From Faith in Jesus had not swerved, And scorning pious platitudes, He saw in the Beatitudes A lamp to guide his feet.
He knew that Jonah downed the whale And made no bones of it. The tale That Ananias told He swore was true. He had no doubt That Daniel laid the lions out. In short, he had all holiness, All meekness and all lowliness, And was with saints enrolled.
'Tis true, some slight excess of zeal Sincerely to promote the weal Of this most Christian state Had moved him rudely to divide The queue that was a pagan's pride, And in addition certify The Faith by making fur to fly From pelt as well as pate?
But, Heavenly Father, thou dost know That in this town these actions go For nothing worth a name. Nay, every editorial ass, To prove they never come to pass Will damn his soul eternally, Although in his own journal he May read the printed shame.
From bloody hands the reins of pow'r Fall slack; the high-decisive hour Strikes not for liars' ears. Remove, O Father, the disgrace That stains our California's face, And consecrate to human good The strength of her young womanhood And all her golden years!
DE YOUNG—A PROPHECY
Running for Senator with clumsy pace, He stooped so low, to win at least a place, That Fortune, tempted by a mark so droll, Sprang in an kicked him to the winning pole.
Back further than I know, in San Francisco dwelt a wealthy man. So rich was he That none could be Wise, good and great in like degree.
'Tis true he wrought, In deed or thought, But few of all the things he ought; But men said: "Who Would wish him to? Great souls are born to be, not do!"
One thing, indeed, He did, we read, Which was becoming, all agreed: Grown provident, Ere life was spent He built a mighty monument.
For longer than I know, in San Francisco lived a beggar man; And when in bed They found him dead— "Just like the scamp!" the people said.
He died, they say, On the same day His wealthy neighbor passed away. What matters it When beggars quit Their beats? I answer: Not a bit.
They got a spade And pick and made A hole, and there the chap was laid. "He asked for bread," 'Twas neatly said: "He'll get not even a stone instead."
The years rolled round: His humble mound Sank to the level of the ground; And men forgot That the bare spot Was like (and was) the beggar's lot.
Forgotten, too, Was t'other, who Had reared the monument to woo Inconstant Fame, Though still his name Shouted in granite just the same.
That name, I swear, They both did bear The beggar and the millionaire. That lofty tomb, Then, honored—whom? For argument here's ample room.
I'll not debate, But only state The scamp first claimed it at the Gate. St. Peter, proud To serve him, bowed And showed him to the softest cloud.
The Senate woke; the Chairman's snore Was stilled, its echoes balking; The startled members dreamed no more, For Steele, who long had held the floor, Had suddenly ceased talking.
As, like Elijah, in his pride, He to his seat was passing, "Go up thou baldhead!" Reddy cried. Then six fierce bears ensued and tried To sunder him for "sassing."
Two seized his legs, and one his head, The fourth his trunk, to munch on; The fifth preferred an arm instead; The last, with rueful visage, said: "Pray what have I for luncheon?"
Then to that disappointed bear Said Steele, serene and chipper, "My friend, you shall not lack your share: Look in the Treasury, and there You'll find his other flipper."
THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF THEFT
In fair Yosemite, that den of thieves Wherein the minions of the moon divide The travelers' purses, lo! the Devil grieves, His larger share as leader still denied.
El Capitan, foreseeing that his reign May be disputed too, beclouds his head. The joyous Bridal Veil is torn in twain And the crepe steamer dangles there instead.
The Vernal Fall abates her pleasant speed And hesitates to take the final plunge, For rumors reach her that another greed Awaits her in the Valley of the Sponge.
The Brothers envy the accord of mind And peace of purpose (by the good deplored As honor among Commissioners) which bind That confraternity of crime, the Board.
The Half-Dome bows its riven face to weep, But not, as formerly, because bereft: Prophetic dreams afflict him when asleep Of losing his remaining half by theft.
Ambitious knaves! has not the upper sod Enough of room for every crime that crawls But you must loot the Palaces of God And daub your filthy names upon the walls?
DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN
Within my dark and narrow bed I rested well, new-laid: I heard above my fleshless head The grinding of a spade.
A gruffer note ensued and grew To harsh and harsher strains: The poet Welcker then I knew Was "snatching" my remains.
"O Welcker, let your hand be stayed And leave me here in peace. Of your revenge you should have made An end with my decease."
"Hush, Mouldyshanks, and hear my moan: I once, as you're aware, Was eminent in letters—known And honored everywhere.
"My splendor made all Berkeley bright And Sacramento blind. Men swore no writer e'er could write Like me—if I'd a mind.
"With honors all insatiate, With curst ambition smit, Too far, alas! I tempted fate— I published what I'd writ!
"Good Heaven! with what a hunger wild Oblivion swallows fame! Men who have known me from a child Forget my very name!
"Even creditors with searching looks My face cannot recall; My heaviest one—he prints my books— Oblivious most of all.
"O I should feel a sweet content If one poor dun his claim Would bring to me for settlement, And bully me by name.
"My dog is at my gate forlorn; It howls through all the night, And when I greet it in the morn It answers with a bite!"
"O Poet, what in Satan's name To me's all this ado? Will snatching me restore the fame That printing snatched from you?"
"Peace, dread Remains; I'm not about To do a deed of sin. I come not here to hale you out— I'm trying to get in."
THE LAST MAN
I dreamed that Gabriel took his horn On Resurrection's fateful morn, And lighting upon Laurel Hill Blew long, blew loud, blew high and shrill. The houses compassing the ground Rattled their windows at the sound. But no one rose. "Alas!" said he, "What lazy bones these mortals be!" Again he plied the horn, again Deflating both his lungs in vain; Then stood astonished and chagrined At raising nothing but the wind. At last he caught the tranquil eye Of an observer standing by— Last of mankind, not doomed to die. To him thus Gabriel: "Sir, I pray This mystery you'll clear away. Why do I sound my note in vain? Why spring they not from out the plain? Where's Luning, Blythe and Michael Reese, Magee, who ran the Golden Fleece? Where's Asa Fisk? Jim Phelan, who Was thought to know a thing or two Of land which rose but never sank? Where's Con O'Conor of the Bank, And all who consecrated lands Of old by laying on of hands? I ask of them because their worth Was known in all they wished—the earth. Brisk boomers once, alert and wise, Why don't they rise, why don't they rise?" The man replied: "Reburied long With others of the shrouded throng In San Mateo—carted there And dumped promiscuous, anywhere, In holes and trenches—all misfits— Mixed up with one another's bits: One's back-bone with another's shin, A third one's skull with a fourth one's grin— Your eye was never, never fixed Upon a company so mixed! Go now among them there and blow: 'Twill be as good as any show To see them, when they hear the tones, Compiling one another's bones! But here 'tis vain to sound and wait: Naught rises here but real estate. I own it all and shan't disgorge. Don't know me? I am Henry George."