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A LITTLE BOOK OF WESTERN VERSE

by Eugene Field

1889

TO MARY FIELD FRENCH

A dying mother gave to you
Her child a many years ago;
How in your gracious love he grew,
You know, dear, patient heart, you know.

The mother's child you fostered then
Salutes you now and bids you take
These little children of his pen
And love them for the author's sake.

To you I dedicate this book,
And, as you read it line by line,
Upon its faults as kindly look
As you have always looked on mine.

Tardy the offering is and weak;--
Yet were I happy if I knew
These children had the power to speak
My love and gratitude to you.

E. F.

Go, little book, and if an one would speak
thee ill, let him bethink him that thou art
the child of one who loves thee well.

EUGENE FIELD

A MEMORY

When those we love have passed away; when from our lives something has
gone out; when with each successive day we miss the presence that has
become a part of ourselves, and struggle against the realization that
it is with us no more, we begin to live in the past and thank God for
the gracious boon of memory. Few of us there are who, having advanced
to middle life, have not come to look back on the travelled road of
human existence in thought of those who journeyed awhile with us, a
part of all our hopes and joyousness, the sharers of all our ambitions
and our pleasures, whose mission has been fulfilled and who have left
us with the mile-stones of years still seeming to stretch out on the
path ahead. It is then that memory comes with its soothing influence,
telling us of the happiness that was ours and comforting us with the
ever recurring thought of the pleasures of that travelled road. For it
is happiness to walk and talk with a brother for forty years, and it is
happiness to know that the surety of that brother's affection, the
knowledge of the greatness of his heart and the nobility of his mind,
are not for one memory alone but may be publicly attested for
admiration and emulation. That it has fallen to me to speak to the
world of my brother as I knew him I rejoice. I do not fear that,
speaking as a brother, I shall crowd the laurel wreaths upon him, for
to this extent he lies in peace already honored; but if I can show him
to the world, not as a poet but as a man,--if I may lead men to see
more of that goodness, sweetness, and gentleness that were in him, I
shall the more bless the memory that has survived.

My brother was born in St. Louis in 1850. Whether the exact day was
September 2 or September 3 was a question over which he was given to
speculation, more particularly in later years, when he was accustomed to
discuss it frequently and with much earnest ness. In his youth the
anniversary was generally held to be September 2, perhaps the result of
a half-humorous remark by my father that Oliver Cromwell had died
September 3, and he could not reconcile this date to the thought that it
was an important anniversary to one of his children. Many years after,
when my uncle, Charles Kellogg Field, of Vermont, published the
genealogy of the Field family, the original date, September 3, was
restored, and from that time my brother accepted it, although with each
recurring anniversary the controversy was gravely renewed, much to the
amusement of the family and always to his own perplexity. In November,
1856, my mother died, and, at the breaking up of the family in St.
Louis, my brother and myself, the last of six children, were taken to
Amherst, Massachusetts, by our cousin, Miss Mary F. French, who took
upon herself the care and responsibility of our bringing up. How nobly
and self-sacrificingly she entered upon and discharged those duties my
brother gladly testified in the beautiful dedication of his first
published poems, "A Little Book of Western Verse," wherein he honored
the "gracious love" in which he grew, and bade her look as kindly on the
faults of his pen as she had always looked on his own. For a few years
my brother attended a private school for boys in Amherst; then, at the
age of fourteen, he was intrusted to the care of Rev. James Tufts, of
Monson, one of those noble instructors of the blessed old school who are
passing away from the arena of education in America. By Mr. Tufts he was
fitted for college, and from the enthusiasm of this old scholar he
caught perhaps the inspiration for the love of the classics which he
carried through life. In the fall of 1868 he entered Williams
College--the choice was largely accidental--and remained there one year.
My father died in the summer of 1869, and my brother chose as his
guardian Professor John William Burgess, now of Columbia University, New
York City. When Professor Burgess, later in the summer, accepted a call
to Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois, my brother accompanied him and
entered that institution, but the restlessness which was so
characteristic of him in youth asserted itself after another year and
he joined me, then in my junior year at the University of Missouri, at
Columbia. It was at this institution that he finished his education so
far as it related to prescribed study.

Shortly after attaining his majority he went to Europe, remaining six
months in France and Italy. From this European trip have sprung the
absurd stories which have represented him as squandering thousands of
dollars in the pursuit of pleasure. Unquestionably he had the not
unnatural extravagance which accompanies youth and a most generous
disposition, for he was lavish and open-handed all through life to an
unusual degree, but at no time was he particularly given to wild
excesses, and the fact that my father's estate, which was largely
realty, had shrunk perceptibly during the panic days of 1873 was enough
to make him soon reach the limit of even moderate extravagance. At the
same time many good stories have been told illustrative of his contempt
for money, and it is eminently characteristic of his lack of the
Puritan regard for small things that one day he approached my father's
executor, Hon. M. L. Gray, of St. Louis, with a request for
seventy-five dollars.

"But," objected this cautious and excellent man, "I gave you
seventy-five dollars only yesterday, Eugene. What did you do with that?"

"Oh," replied my brother, with an impatient and scornful toss of the
head, "I believe I bought some postage stamps."

Before going to Europe he had met Miss Julia Sutherland Comstock, of St.
Joseph, Missouri, the sister of a college friend, and the attachment
which was formed led to their marriage in October, 1873. Much of his
tenderest and sweetest verse was inspired by love for the woman who
became his wife, and the dedication to the "Second Book of Verse" is
hardly surpassed for depth of affection and daintiness of sentiment,
while "Lover's Lane, St. Jo.," is the very essence of loyalty, love, and
reminiscential ardor. At the time of his marriage my brother realized
the importance of going to work in earnest, and shortly before the
appointment of the wedding-day he entered upon the active duties of
journalism, which he never relinquished during life. These duties, with
the exception of the year he passed in Europe with his family in
1889-90, were confined to the West. He began as a paragrapher in St.
Louis, quickly achieving somewhat more than a merely local reputation.
For a time he was in St. Joseph, and for eighteen months following
January 1880 he lived in Kansas City, removing thence to Denver. In 1883
he came to Chicago at the solicitation of Melville E. Stone, then editor
of the Chicago Daily News, retaining his connection with the News and
its offspring, the Record, until his death. Thus hastily have been
skimmed over the bare outlines of his life.

The formative period of my brother's youth was passed in New England,
and to the influences which still prevail in and around her peaceful
hills and gentle streams, the influences of a sturdy stock which has
sent so many good and brave men to the West for the upbuilding of the
country and the upholding of what is best in Puritan tradition, he
gladly acknowledged he owed much that was strong and enduring. While he
gloried in the West and remained loyal to the section which gave him
birth, and in which he chose to cast his lot, he was not the less proud
of his New England blood and not the less conscious of the benefits of a
New England training. His boyhood was similar to that of other boys
brought up with the best surroundings in a Massachusetts village, where
the college atmosphere prevailed. He had his boyish pleasures and his
trials, his share of that queer mixture of nineteenth-century
worldliness and almost austere Puritanism which is yet characteristic of
many New England families. The Sabbath was a veritable day of judgment,
and in later years he spoke humorously of the terrors of those all-day
sessions in church and Sunday-school, though he never failed to
acknowledge the benefits he had derived from an enforced study of the
Bible. "If I could be grateful to New England for nothing else," he
would say, "I should bless her forevermore for pounding me with the
Bible and the spelling-book." And in proof of the earnestness of this
declaration he spent many hours in Boston a year or two ago, trying to
find "one of those spellers that temporarily made me lose my faith in
the system of the universe."

It is easy at this day to look back three decades and note the
characteristics which appeared trivial enough then, but which, clinging
to him and developing, had a marked effect on his manhood and on the
direction of his talents. As a boy his fondness for pets amounted to a
passion, but unlike other boys he seemed to carry his pets into a higher
sphere and to give them personality. For each pet, whether dog, cat,
bird, goat, or squirrel--he had the family distrust of a horse--he not
only had a name, but it was his delight to fancy that each possessed a
peculiar dialect of human speech, and each he addressed in the humorous
manner conceived. He ignored the names in common use for domestic
animals and chose or invented those more pleasing to his exuberant
fancy. This conceit was always with him, and years afterward, when his
children took the place of his boyish pets, he gratified his whim for
strange names by ignoring those designated at the baptismal font and
substituting freakish titles of his own riotous fancy. Indeed it must
have been a tax on his imaginative powers. When in childhood he was
conducting a poultry annex to the homestead, each chicken was properly
instructed to respond to a peculiar call, and Finnikin, Minnikin,
Winnikin, Dump, Poog, Boog, seemed to recognize immediately the queer
intonations of their master with an intelligence that is not usually
accorded to chickens. With this love for animal life was developed also
that tenderness of heart which was so manifest in my brother's daily
actions. One day--he was then a good-sized boy--he came into the house,
and throwing himself on the sofa, sobbed for half an hour. One of the
chickens hatched the day before had been crushed under his foot as he
was walking in the chicken-house, and no murderer could have felt more
keenly the pangs of remorse. The other boys looked on curiously at this
exhibition of feeling, and it was indeed an unusual outburst. But it was
strongly characteristic of him through life, and nothing would so excite
his anger as cruelty to an animal, while every neglected, friendless
dog or persecuted cat always found in him a champion and a friend.

In illustration of this humane instinct it is recalled that a few weeks
before he died a lady visiting the house found his room swarming with
flies. In response to her exclamation of astonishment he explained that
a day or two before he had seen a poor, half-frozen fly on the
window-pane outside, and he had been moved by a kindly impulse to open
the window and admit her. "And this," he added, "is what I get for it.
That ungrateful creature is, as you perceive, the grandmother of eight
thousand nine hundred and seventy-six flies!"

That the birds that flew about his house in Buena Park knew his voice
has been demonstrated more than once. He would keep bread crumbs
scattered along the window-sill for the benefit, as he explained, of
the blue jays and the robins who were not in their usual robust health
or were too overcome by the heat to make customary exertion. If the
jays were particularly noisy he would go into the yard and expostulate
with them in a tone of friendly reproach, whereupon, the family
affirms, they would apparently apologize and fly away. Once he
maintained at considerable expense a thoroughly hopeless and useless
donkey, and it was his custom, when returning from the office at any
hour of the night, to go into the back yard and say "Poor old Don" in a
bass voice that carried a block away, whereupon old Don would lift up
his own voice with a melancholy bray of welcome that would shake the
windows and start the neighbors from their slumbers. Old Don is passing
his declining years in an "Old Kentucky home," and the robins and the
blue jays as they return with the spring will look in vain for the
friend who fed them at the window.

The family dog at Amherst, which was immortalized many years later with
"The Bench-Legged Fyce," and which was known in his day to hundreds of
students at the college on account of his surpassing lack of beauty,
rejoiced originally in the honest name of Fido, but my brother rejected
this name as commonplace and unworthy, and straightway named him
"Dooley" on the presumption that there was something Hibernian in his
face. It was to Dooley that he wrote his first poem, a parody on "O Had
I Wings Like a Dove," a song then in great vogue. Near the head of the
village street was the home of the Emersons, a large frame house, now
standing for more than a century, and in the great yard in front stood
the magnificent elms which are the glory of the Connecticut valley. Many
times the boys, returning from school, would linger to cool off in the
shade of these glorious trees, and it was on one of these occasions that
my brother put into the mouth of Dooley his maiden effort in verse:

O had I wings like a dove I would fly,
Away from this world of fleas;
I'd fly all round Miss Emerson's yard,
And light on Miss Emerson's trees.

Even this startling parody, which was regarded by the boys as a
veritable stroke of genius, failed to impress the adult villagers with
the conviction that a poet was budding. Yet how much of quiet humor and
lively imagination is betrayed by these four lines. How easy it is now
to look back at the small boy and picture him sympathizing with his
little friend tormented by the heat and the pests of his kind, and
making him sigh for the rest that seemed to lurk in the rustling leaves
of the stately elms. Perhaps it was not astonishing poetry even for a
child, but was there not something in the fancy, the sentiment, and the
rhythm which bespoke far more than ordinary appreciation? Is it not this
same quality of alert and instinctive sympathy which has run through
Eugene Field's writings and touched the spring of popular affection?

Dooley went to the dog heaven many years ago. Finnikin and Poog and Boog
and the scores of boyhood friends that followed them have passed to
their Pythagorean reward; but the boy who first found in them the
delight of companionship and the kindlings of imagination retained all
the youthful impulses which made him for nearly half a century the lover
of animal life and the gentle singer of the faithful and the good.

Comradeship was the indispensable factor in my brother's life. It was
strong in his youth; it grew to be an imperative necessity in later
years. In the theory that it is sometimes good to be alone he had
little or no faith. Even when he was at work in his study, when it was
almost essential to thought that he should be undisturbed, he was never
quite content unless aware of the presence of human beings near at
hand, as betrayed by their voices. It is customary to think of a poet
wandering off in the great solitudes, standing alone in contemplation
of the wonderful work of nature, on the cliffs overlooking the ocean,
in the paths of the forest or on the mountain side. My brother was not
of this order. That he was primarily and essentially a poet of humanity
and not of nature does not argue that he was insensible to natural
beauty or natural grandeur. Nobody could have been more keenly
susceptible to the influences of nature in their temperamental effect,
and perhaps this may explain that he did not love nature the less but
that he prized companionship more. If nature pleased him he longed for
a friend to share his pleasure; if it appalled him he turned from it
with repugnance and fear.

Throughout his writings may be found the most earnest appreciation of
the joyousness and loveliness of a beautiful landscape, but as he would
share it intellectually with his readers so it was a necessity that he
could not seek it alone as an actuality. In his boyhood, in the full
glory of a perfect day, he loved to ramble through the woods and
meadows, and delighted in the azure tints of the far-away Berkshire
hills; and later in life he was keen to notice and admire the soft
harmonies of landscape, but with a change in weather or with the
approach of a storm the poet would be lost in the timidity and distrust
of a child.

Companionship with him meant cheerfulness. His horror of gloom and
darkness was almost morbid. From the tragedies of life he instinctively
shrank, and large as was his sympathy, and generous and genuine his
affection, he was often prompted to run from suffering and to betray
what must have been a constitutional terror of distress. He did not
hesitate to acknowledge this characteristic, and sought to atone for it
by writing the most tender and touching lines to those to whom he
believed he owed a gift of comfort and strength. His private letters to
friends in adversity or bereavement were beautiful in their simplicity
and honest and outspoken love, for he was not ashamed to let his friends
see how much he thought of them. And even if the emotional quality,
which asserts itself in the nervous and artistic temperament, made him
realize that he could not trust himself, that same quality gave him a
personality marvelous in its magnetism. Both as boy and man he made
friends everywhere, and that he retained them to the last speaks for the
whole-heartedness and genuineness of his nature.

To two weaknesses he frankly confessed: that he was inclined to be
superstitious and that he was afraid of the dark. One of these he
stoutly defended, asserting that he who was not fearful in the dark was
a dull clod, utterly devoid of imagination. From his earliest childhood
my brother was a devourer of fairy tales, and he continually stored his
mind with fantastic legends, which found a vent in new shapes in his
verses and prose tales. In the ceiling of one of his dens a trap-door
led into the attic, and as this door was open he seriously contemplated
closing it, because, as he said, he fancied that queer things would come
down in the night and spirit him away. It is not to be inferred that he
thus remained in a condition of actual fear, but it is true that he was
imaginative to the degree of acute nervousness, and, like a child,
associated light with safety and darkness with the uncanny and the
supernatural. It was after all the better for his songs that it was so,
else they might not have been filled with that cheery optimism which
praised the happiness of sunlight and warmth, and sought to lift
humanity from the darkness of despondency.

This weakness, or intellectual virtue as he pleasantly regarded it, was
perhaps rather stronger in him as a man than in his boyhood. He has
himself declared that he wrote "Seein' Things at Night" more to solace
his own feelings than to delineate the sufferings of childhood, however
aptly it may describe them. And when he put into rhythm that "any color,
so long as it's red, is the color that suits me best," he spoke not only
as a poet but as a man, for red conveyed to him the idea of warmth and
cheeriness, and seemed to express to him in color his temperamental
demand. All through his life he pandered to these feelings instead of
seeking to repress them, for to this extent there was little of the
Puritan in his nature, and as he believed that happiness comes largely
from within, so he felt that it is not un-Christian philosophy to avoid
as far as possible whatever may cloud and render less acceptable one's
own existence.

The literary talent of my brother is not easily traceable to either
branch of the family. In fact it was tacitly accepted that he would be a
lawyer as his father and grandfather had been before him, but the
futility of this arrangement was soon manifest, and surely no man less
temperamentally equipped for the law ever lived. It has been said of the
Fields, speaking generally of the New England division, that they were
well adapted to be either musicians or actors, though the talent for
music or mimicry has been in no case carried out of private life save in
my brother's public readings. Eugene had more than a boy's share of
musical talent, but he never cultivated it, preferring to use the fine
voice with which he was endowed for recitation, of which he was always
fond. Acting was his strongest boyish passion. Even as a child he was a
wonderful mimic and thereby the delight of his playmates and the terror
of his teachers. He organized a stock company among the small boys of
the village and gave performances in the barn of one of the less
scrupulous neighbors, but whether for pins or pennies memory does not
suggest. He assigned the parts and always reserved for himself the
eccentric character and the low comedy, caring nothing for the heroic or
the sentimental. One of the plays performed was Lester Wallack's
"Rosedale" with Eugene in the dual role of the low comedian and the
heavy villain. At this time also he delighted in monologues, imitations
of eccentric types, or what Mr. Sol. Smith Russell calls "comics," a
word which always amused Eugene and which he frequently used. This
fondness for parlor readings and private theatricals he carried through
college, remaining steadfast to the "comics" until a few years ago,
when he began to give public readings, and discovered that he was
capable of higher and more effective work. It was in fact his
versatility that made him the most accomplished and the most popular
author-entertainer in America. Before he went into journalism the more
sedate of his family connections were in constant fear lest he should
adopt the profession of the actor, and he held it over them as a
good-natured threat. On one occasion, failing to get a coveted
appropriation from the executor of the estate, he said calmly to the
worthy man: "Very well. I must have money for my living expenses. If you
cannot advance it to me out of the estate I shall be compelled to go on
the stage. But as I cannot keep my own name I have decided to assume
yours, and shall have lithographs struck off at once. They will read,
'Tonight, M. L. Gray, Banjo and Specialty Artist.'" The appropriation
was immediately forthcoming.

It is in no sense depreciatory of my brother's attainments in life to
say that he gave no evidence of precocity in his studies in childhood.
On the contrary he was somewhat slow in development, though this was due
not so much to a lack of natural ability--he learned easily and quickly
when so disposed--as to a fondness for the hundred diversions which
occupy a wide-awake boy's time. He possessed a marked talent for
caricature, and not a small part of the study hours was devoted to
amusing pictures of his teachers, his playmates, and his pets. This
habit of drawing, which was wholly without instruction, he always
preserved, and it was his honest opinion, even at the height of his
success in authorship, that he would have been much greater as a
caricaturist than as a writer. Until he was thirty years of age he wrote
a fair-sized legible hand, but about that time he adopted the
microscopic penmanship which has been so widely reproduced, using for
the purpose very fine-pointed pens. With his manuscript he took the
greatest pains, often going to infinite trouble to illuminate his
letters. Among his friends these letters are held as curiosities of
literature, hardly more for the quaint sentiments expressed than for the
queer designs in colored inks which embellished them. He was specially
fond of drawing weird elves and gnomes, and would spend an hour or two
decorating with these comical figures a letter he had written in ten
minutes. He was as fastidious with the manuscript for the office as if
it had been a specimen copy for exhibition, and it was always understood
that his manuscript should be returned to him after it had passed
through the printers' hands. In this way all the original copies of his
stories and poems have been preserved, and those which he did not give
to friends as souvenirs have been bound for his children.

A taste for literary composition might not have passed, as doubtless it
did pass, so many years unnoticed, had he been deficient in other
talents, and had he devoted himself exclusively to writing. But as a boy
he was fond, though in a less degree than many boys, of athletic sports,
and his youthful desire for theatrical entertainments, pen caricaturing,
and dallying with his pets took up much of his time. Yet he often gave
way to a fondness for composition, and there is in the family
possession a sermon which he wrote before he was ten years of age, in
which he showed the results of those arduous Sabbath days in the old
Congregational meeting-house. And at one time, when yet very young, he
was at the head of a flourishing boys' paper, while at another, fresh
from the inspiration of a blood-curdling romance in a New York Weekly,
he prepared a series of tales of adventure which, unhappily, have not
been preserved. In his college days he was one of the associate editors
of the university magazine, and while at that time he had no serious
thought of devoting his life to literature, his talents in that
direction were freely confessed. From my father, whose studious habits
in life had made him not only eminent at the bar but profoundly
conversant with general literature, he had inherited a taste for
reading, and it was this omnivorous passion for books that led my
brother to say that his education had only begun when he fancied that it
had left off. In boyhood he contracted that fascinating but highly
injurious habit of reading in bed, which he subsequently extolled with
great fervor; and as he grew older the habit increased upon him until
he was obliged to admit that he could not enjoy literature unless he
took it horizontally. If a friend expostulated with him, advising him to
give up tobacco, reading in bed, and late hours, he said: "And what have
we left in life if we give up all our bad habits?"

That the poetic instinct was always strong within him there has never
been room to question, but, perhaps, for the reasons before assigned, it
was tardy in making its way outward. For years his mind lay fallow and
receptive, awaiting the occasion which should develop the true
inspiration of the poet. He was accustomed to speak of himself, and too
modestly, as merely a versifier, but his own experience should have
contradicted this estimate, for his first efforts at verse were
singularly halting in mechanical construction, and he was well past his
twenty-fifth year before he gave to the world any verse worthy the name.
What might be called the "curse of comedy" was on him, and it was not
until he threw off that yoke and gave expression to the better and the
sweeter thoughts within him that, as with Bion, "the voice of song
flowed freely from the heart." It seems strange that a man who became a
master of the art of mechanism in verse should have been deficient in
this particular at a period comparatively late, but it merely
illustrates the theory of gradual development and marks the phases of
life through which, with his character of many sides, he was compelled
to pass. He was nearly thirty when he wrote "Christmas Treasures," the
first poem he deemed worthy, and very properly, of preservation, and the
publication of this tender commemoration of the death of a child opened
the springs of sentiment and love for childhood destined never to run
dry while life endured.

In journalism he became immediately successful, not so much for
adaptability to the treadmill of that calling as for the brightness and
distinctive character of his writing. He easily established a reputation
as a humorist, and while he fairly deserved the title he often regretted
that he could not entirely shake it off. His powers of perception were
phenomenally keen, and he detected the peculiarities of people with
whom he was thrown in contact almost at a glance, while his gift of
mimicry was such that after a minute's interview he could burlesque the
victim to the life, even emphasizing the small details which had been
apparently too minute to attract the special notice of those who were
acquaintances of years' standing. This faculty he carried into his
writing, and it proved immensely valuable, for, with his quick
appreciation of the ludicrous and his power of delineating personal
peculiarities his sketches were remarkable for their resemblances even
when he was indulging apparently in the wildest flights of imagination.
It is to be regretted that much of his newspaper work, covering a period
of twenty years, was necessarily so full of purely local color that its
brilliancy could not be generally appreciated. For it is as if an artist
had painted a wondrous picture, clever enough in the general view, but
full of a significance hidden to the world.

Equally facile was he in the way of adaptation. He could write a hoax
worthy of Poe, and one of his humors of imagination was sufficiently
subtle and successful to excite comment in Europe and America, and to
call for an explanation and denial from a distinguished Englishman. He
lived in Denver only a few weeks when he was writing verse in miners'
dialect which has been rightly placed at the head of that style of
composition. No matter where he wandered, he speedily became imbued with
the spirit of his surroundings, and his quickly and accurately gathered
impressions found vent in his pen, whether he was in "St. Martin's Lane"
in London, with "Mynheer Von Der Bloom" in Amsterdam, or on the
"Schnellest Zug" from Hanover to Leipzig.

At the time of my brother's arrival in Chicago, in 1883--he was then in
his thirty-fourth year--he had performed an immense amount of newspaper
work, but had done little or nothing of permanent value or with any real
literary significance. But despite the fact that he had lived up to that
time in the smaller cities he had a large number of acquaintances and a
certain following in the journalistic and artistic world, of which from
the very moment of his entrance into journalism he never had been
deprived. His immense fund of good humor, his powers as a story-teller,
his admirable equipment as an entertainer, and the wholehearted way with
which he threw himself into life and the pleasures of living attracted
men to him and kept him the centre of the multitude that prized his
fascinating companionship. His fellows in journalism furthermore had
been quick to recognize his talents, and no man was more widely
"copied," as the technical expression goes. His early years in Chicago
did not differ materially from those of the previous decade, but the
enlarged scope gave greater play to his fancy and more opportunity for
his talents as a master of satire. The publication of "The Denver
Primer" and "Culture's Garland," while adding to his reputation as a
humorist, happily did not satisfy him. He was now past the age of
thirty-five, and a great psychical revolution was coming on. Though
still on the sunny side of middle life, he was wearying of the cup of
pleasure he had drunk so joyously, and was drawing away from the
multitude and toward the companionship of those who loved books and
bookish things, and who could sympathize with him in the aspirations for
the better work, the consciousness of which had dawned. It was now that
he began to apply himself diligently to the preparation for higher
effort, and it is to the credit of journalism, which has so many sins to
answer for, that in this he was encouraged beyond the usual fate of men
who become slaves to that calling. And yet, though from this time he was
privileged to be regarded one of the sweetest singers in American
literature, and incomparably the noblest bard of childhood, though the
grind of journalism was measurably taken from him, he chafed under the
conviction that he was condemned to mingle the prosaic and the practical
with the fanciful and the ideal, and that, having given hostages to
fortune, he must conform even in a measure to the requirements of a
position too lucrative to be cast aside. From this time also his
physical condition, which never had been robust, began to show the
effects of sedentary life, but the warning of a long siege of nervous
dyspepsia was suffered to pass unheeded, and for five or six years he
labored prodigiously, his mind expanding and his intellect growing more
brilliant as the vital powers decayed.

It would seem that with the awakening of the consciousness of the better
powers within him, with the realization that he was destined for a place
in literature, my brother felt a quasi remorse for the years he fancied
he had wasted. He was too severe with himself to understand that his
comparative tardiness in arriving at the earnest, thoughtful stage of
lifework was the inexorable law of gradual development which must govern
the career of a man of his temperament, with his exuberant vitality and
his showy talents. It was a serious mistake, but it was not the less a
noble one. And now also the influences of home crept a little closer
into his heart. His family life had not been without its tragedies of
bereavement, and the death of his oldest boy in Germany had drawn him
even nearer to the children who were growing up around him.

Much of his tenderest verse was inspired by affection for his family,
and as some great shock is often essential to the revolution in a
buoyant nature, so it seemed to require the oft-recurring tragedies of
life to draw from him all that was noblest and sweetest in his
sympathetic soul. Had the angel of death never hovered over the crib in
my brother's home, had he never known the pangs and the heart-hunger
which come when the little voice is stilled and the little chair is
empty, he could not have written the lines which voice the great cry of
humanity and the hope of reunion in immortality beyond the grave.

The flood of appeals for platform readings from cities and towns in all
parts of the United States came too late for his physical strength and
his ambition. Earlier in life he would have delighted in this form of
travel and entertainment, but his nature had wonderfully changed, and,
strong as were the financial inducements, he was loath to leave his
family and circle of intimate friends, and the home he had just
acquired. All of the time which he allotted for recreation he devoted
to working around his grounds, in arranging and rearranging his large
library, and in the disposition of his curios. For years he had been an
indefatigable collector, and he took a boyish pleasure not only in his
souvenirs of long journeys and distinguished men and women, but in the
queer toys and trinkets of children which seemed to give him inspiration
for much that was effective in childhood verse. To the careless observer
the immense array of weird dolls and absurd toys in his working-room
meant little more than an idiosyncratic passion for the anomalous, but
those who were near to him knew what a connecting link they were between
him and the little children of whom he wrote, and how each trumpet and
drum, each "spinster doll," each little toy dog, each little tin
soldier, played its part in the poems he sent out into the world. No
writer ever made more persistent and consistent use of the material by
which he was surrounded, or put a higher literary value on the little
things which go to make up the sum of human existence.

Of the spiritual development of my brother much might be said in
conviction and in tenderness. He was not a man who discussed religion
freely; he was associated with no religious denomination, and he
professed no creed beyond the brotherhood of mankind and the infinitude
of God's love and mercy. In childhood he had been reared in much of the
austerity of the Puritan doctrine of the relation of this life to the
hereafter, and much of the hardness and severity of Christianity, as
still interpreted in many parts of New England, was forced upon him. As
is not unusual in such cases, he rebelled against this conception of
God and God's day, even while he confessed the intellectual advantages
he had reaped from frequent compulsory communion with the Bible, and he
many times declared that his children should not be brought up to
regard religion and the Sabbath as a bugbear. What evolution was going
on in his mind at the turning point in his life who can say? Who shall
look into the silent soul of the poet and see the hope and confidence
and joy that have come from out the chaos of strife and doubt? Yet who
can read the verses, telling over and over the beautiful story of
Bethlehem, the glory of the Christ-child and the comfort that comes
from the Teacher, and doubt that in those moments he walked in the
light of the love of God?

It is true that no man living in a Christian nation who is stirred by
poetic instinct can fail to recognize and pay homage to that story of
wonderful sweetness, the coming of the Christ-child for the redemption
of the world. It is true that in commemoration the poet may speak while
the man within is silent. But it is hardly true that he whose generous
soul responded to every principle of Christ, the Teacher, pleading for
humanity, would sing over and over that tender song of love and
sacrifice as a mere poetic inspiration. As he slept my brother's soul
was called. Who shall say that it was not summoned by that same angel
song that awakened "Little Boy Blue"? Who shall doubt that the smile of
supreme peace and rest which lingered on his face after that noble
spirit had departed spoke for the victory he had won, for the hope and
belief that had been justified, and for the happiness he had gained?

To have been with my brother in the last year of his life, to have
seen the sweetening of a character already lovable to an unusual
degree, to know now that in his unconscious preparation for the life
beyond he was drawing closer to those he loved and who loved him, this
is the tenderest memory, the most precious heritage. Not to have seen
him in that year is never to realize the full beauty of his nature, the
complete development of his nobler self, the perfect abandonment of all
that might have been ungenerous and intemperate in one even less
conscious of the weakness of mortality. He would say when chided for
public expression of kind words to those not wholly deserving, that he
had felt the sting of harshness and ungraciousness, and never again
would he use his power to inflict suffering or wound the feelings of
man or child. Who is there to wonder, then, that the love of all went
out to him, and that the other triumphs of his life were as nothing in
comparison with the grasp he maintained on popular affection? The day
after his death a lady was purchasing flowers to send in sympathy for
the mourning family, when she was approached by a poorly-clad little
girl who timidly asked what she was going to do with so many roses.
When she replied that she intended sending them to Mr. Field, the
little one said that she wanted so much to send Mr. Field a rose,
adding pathetically that she had no money. Deeply touched by the
child's sorrowful earnestness the lady picked out a yellow rose and
gave it to her, and when the coffin was lowered to the grave a wealth
of wreaths and designs was strewn around to mark the spot, but down
below the hand of the silent poet held only a little yellow rose, the
tribute of a child who did not know him in life, but in whose heart
nestled the love his songs had awakened and the magnetism of his great
humanity had stirred.

A few hours after his spirit had gone a crippled boy came to the house
and begged permission to go to the chamber. The wish was granted, and
the boy hobbled to the bedside. Who he was, and in what manner my
brother had befriended him, none of the family knew, but as he painfully
picked his way down stairs the tears were streaming over his face, and
the onlookers forgot their own sorrow in contemplation of his grief.
The morning of the funeral, while the family stood around the coffin,
the letter-carrier at Buena Park came into the room, and laying a bunch
of letters at the foot of the bier said reverently: "There is your last
mail, Mr. Field." Then turning with tears in his eyes, as if apologizing
for an intrusion, he added: "He was always good to me and I loved him."

It was this affection of those in humbler life that seems to speak the
more eloquently for the beneficence and the triumph of his life's work.
No funeral could have been less ostentatious, yet none could have been
more impressive in the multitude that overflowed the church, or more
conformable to his tenacious belief in the democracy of man. People of
eminence, of wealth, of fashion, were there, but they were swallowed up
in the great congregation of those to whom we are bound by the ties of
humanity and universal brotherhood, whose tears as they passed the bier
of the dead singer were the earnest and the best tribute to him who sang
for all. What greater blessing hath man than this? What stronger
assurance can there be of happiness in that life where all is weighed
in the scale of love, and where love is triumphant and eternal?

Sleep, my brother, in the perfect joy of an awakening to that happiness
beyond the probationary life. Sleep in the assurance that those who
loved you will always cherish the memory of that love as the tender
inspiration of your gentle spirit. Sleep and dream that the songs you
sang will still be sung when those who sing them now are sleeping with
you. Sleep and take your rest as calmly and peacefully as you slept when
your last "Good-Night" lengthened into eternity. And if the Horace you
so merrily invoked comes to you in your slumber and bids you awake to
that sweet cheer, that "fellowship that knows no end beyond the misty
Stygian sea," tell him that the time has not yet come, and that there
are those yet uncalled, to whom you have pledged the joyous meeting on
yonder shore, and who would share with you the heaven your companionship
would brighten.

ROSWELL MARTIN FIELD.

BUENA PARK, January, 1896.

Contents of this Little Book

CASEY'S TABLE D'HÔTE
OUR LADY OF THE MINE
THE CONVERSAZZHYONY
PROF. VERB DE BLAW
MARTHY'S YOUNKIT

OLD ENGLISH LULLABY
"LOLLYBY, LOLLY, LOLLYBY"
ORKNEY LULLABY
LULLABY; BY THE SEA
CORNISH LULLABY
NORSE LULLABY
SICILIAN LULLABY
JAPANESE LULLABY
LITTLE CROODLIN DOO
DUTCH LULLABY
CHILD AND MOTHER
MEDIAEVAL EVENTIDE SONG
CHRISTMAS TREASURES
CHRISTMAS HYMN
CHRYSTMASSE OF OLDE

OUR TWO OPINIONS
APPLE-PIE AND CHEESE
"GOOD-BY--GOD BLESS YOU!"
HI-SPY
LONG AGO

LITTLE BOY BLUE
THE LYTTEL BOY
KRINKEN
TO A USURPER
AILSIE, MY BAIRN
SOME TIME

MADGE: YE HOYDEN
THE DEATH OF ROBIN HOOD
TO ROBIN GOODFELLOW
YVYTOT
THE DIVINE LULLABY
IN THE FIRELIGHT
THE TWENTY-THIRD PSALM
AT THE DOOR

THE BIBLIOMANIAC'S PRAYER
DE AMICITIIS
THE BIBLIOMANIAC'S BRIDE

THE TRUTH ABOUT HORACE
HORACE AND LYDIA RECONCILED
HORACE III:13 ("FOUNTAIN OF BANDUSIA")
HORACE TO MELPOMENE
A CHAUCERIAN PARAPHRASE OF HORACE
HORACE TO PYRRHA
HORACE TO PHYLLIS
THE "HAPPY ISLES" OF HORACE

LITTLE MACK
MR. DANA, OF THE NEW YORK SUN
TO A SOUBRETTE
BÉRANGER'S "BROKEN FIDDLE"
HEINE'S "WIDOW, OR DAUGHTER?"
UHLAND'S "THREE CAVALIERS"
BÉRANGER'S "MY LAST SONG PERHAPS"
HUGO'S "FLOWER TO BUTTERFLY"
BÉRANGER'S "MA VOCATION"

THE LITTLE PEACH
A PROPER TREWE IDYLL OF CAMELOT
IN FLANDERS
OUR BIGGEST FISH

MOTHER AND CHILD
THE WANDERER
SOLDIER, MAIDEN, AND FLOWER
THIRTY-NINE

CASEY'S TABLE D'HÔTE

Oh, them days on Red Hoss Mountain, when the skies wuz fair 'nd blue,
When the money flowed like likker, 'nd the folks wuz brave 'nd true!
When the nights wuz crisp 'nd balmy, 'nd the camp wuz all astir,
With the joints all throwed wide open 'nd no sheriff to demur!
Oh, them times on Red Hoss Mountain in the Rockies fur away,--
There's no sich place nor times like them as I kin find to-day!
What though the camp _hez_ busted? I seem to see it still
A-lyin', like it loved it, on that big 'nd warty hill;
And I feel a sort of yearnin' 'nd a chokin' in my throat
When I think of Red Hoss Mountain 'nd of Casey's tabble dote!

Wal, yes; it's true I struck it rich, but that don't cut a show
When one is old 'nd feeble 'nd it's nigh his time to go;
The money that he's got in bonds or carries to invest
Don't figger with a codger who has lived a life out West;
Us old chaps like to set around, away from folks 'nd noise,
'Nd think about the sights we seen and things we done when boys;
The which is why _I_ love to set 'nd think of them old days
When all us Western fellers got the Colorado craze,--
And _that_ is why I love to set around all day 'nd gloat
On thoughts of Red Hoss Mountain 'nd of Casey's tabble dote.

This Casey wuz an Irishman,--you'd know it by his name
And by the facial features appertainin' to the same.
He'd lived in many places 'nd had done a thousand things,
From the noble art of actin' to the work of dealin' kings,
But, somehow, hadn't caught on; so, driftin' with the rest,
He drifted for a fortune to the undeveloped West,
And he come to Red Hoss Mountain when the little camp wuz new,
When the money flowed like likker, 'nd the folks wuz brave 'nd true;
And, havin' been a stewart on a Mississippi boat,
He opened up a caffy 'nd he run a tabble dote.

The bar wuz long 'nd rangy, with a mirrer on the shelf,
'Nd a pistol, so that Casey, when required, could help himself;
Down underneath there wuz a row of bottled beer 'nd wine,
'Nd a kag of Burbun whiskey of the run of '59;
Upon the walls wuz pictures of hosses 'nd of girls,--
Not much on dress, perhaps, but strong on records 'nd on curls!
The which had been identified with Casey in the past,--
The hosses 'nd the girls, I mean,--and both wuz mighty fast!
But all these fine attractions wuz of precious little note
By the side of what wuz offered at Casey's tabble dote.

There wuz half-a-dozen tables altogether in the place,
And the tax you had to pay upon your vittles wuz a case;
The boardin'-houses in the camp protested 't wuz a shame
To patronize a robber, which this Casey wuz the same!
They said a case was robbery to tax for ary meal;
But Casey tended strictly to his biz, 'nd let 'em squeal;
And presently the boardin'-houses all began to bust,
While Casey kept on sawin' wood 'nd layin' in the dust;
And oncet a tray'lin' editor from Denver City wrote
A piece back to his paper, puffin' Casey's tabble dote.

A tabble dote is different from orderin' aller cart:
In _one_ case you git all there is, in _t' other_, only _part_!
And Casey's tabble dote began in French,--as all begin,--
And Casey's ended with the same, which is to say, with "vin;"
But in between wuz every kind of reptile, bird, 'nd beast,
The same like you can git in high-toned restauraws down east;
'Nd windin' up wuz cake or pie, with coffee demy tass,
Or, sometimes, floatin' Ireland in a soothin' kind of sass
That left a sort of pleasant ticklin' in a feller's throat,
'Nd made him hanker after more of Casey's tabble dote.

The very recollection of them puddin's 'nd them pies
Brings a yearnin' to my buzzum 'nd the water to my eyes;
'Nd seems like cookin' nowadays ain't what it used to be
In camp on Red Hoss Mountain in that year of '63;
But, maybe, it is better, 'nd, maybe, I'm to blame--
I'd like to be a-livin' in the mountains jest the same--
I'd like to live that life again when skies wuz fair 'nd blue,
When things wuz run wide open 'nd men wuz brave 'nd true;
When brawny arms the flinty ribs of Red Hoss Mountain smote
For wherewithal to pay the price of Casey's tabble dote.

And you, O cherished brother, a-sleepin' 'way out west,
With Red Hoss Mountain huggin' you close to its lovin' breast,--
Oh, do you dream in your last sleep of how we used to do,
Of how we worked our little claims together, me 'nd you?
Why, when I saw you last a smile wuz restin' on your face,
Like you wuz glad to sleep forever in that lonely place;
And so you wuz, 'nd I 'd be, too, if I wuz sleepin' so.
But, bein' how a brother's love ain't for the world to know,
Whenever I've this heartache 'nd this chokin' in my throat,
I lay it all to thinkin' of Casey's tabble dote.

LITTLE BOY BLUE

The little toy dog is covered with dust,
But sturdy and stanch he stands;
And the little toy soldier is red with rust,
And his musket molds in his hands.
Time was when the little toy dog was new
And the soldier was passing fair,
And that was the time when our Little Boy Blue
Kissed them and put them there.

"Now, don't you go till I come," he said,
"And don't you make any noise!"
So toddling off to his trundle-bed
He dreamed of the pretty toys.
And as he was dreaming, an angel song
Awakened our Little Boy Blue,--
Oh, the years are many, the years are long,
But the little toy friends are true.

Ay, faithful to Little Boy Blue they stand,
Each in the same old place,
Awaiting the touch of a little hand,
The smile of a little face.
And they wonder, as waiting these long years through,
In the dust of that little chair,
What has become of our Little Boy Blue
Since he kissed them and put them there.

MADGE: YE HOYDEN

At Madge, ye hoyden, gossips scofft,
Ffor that a romping wench was shee--
"Now marke this rede," they bade her oft,
"Forsooken sholde your folly bee!"
But Madge, ye hoyden, laught & cried,
"Oho, oho," in girlish glee,
And noe thing mo replied.

II

No griffe she had nor knew no care,
But gayly rompit all daies long,
And, like ye brooke that everywhere
Goes jinking with a gladsome song,
Shee danct and songe from morn till night,--
Her gentil harte did know no wrong,
Nor did she none despight.

III

Sir Tomas from his noblesse halle
Did trend his path a somer's daye,
And to ye hoyden he did call
And these ffull evill words did say:
"O wolde you weare a silken gown
And binde your haire with ribands gay?
Then come with me to town!"

IV

But Madge, ye hoyden, shoke her head,--
"I'le be no lemman unto thee
For all your golde and gownes," shee said,
"ffor Robin hath bespoken mee."
Then ben Sir Tomas sore despight,
And back unto his hall went hee
With face as ashen white.

V

"O Robin, wilt thou wed this girl,
Whenas she is so vaine a sprite?"
So spak ffull many an envious churle
Unto that curteyse countrie wight.
But Robin did not pay no heede;
And they ben wed a somer night
& danct upon ye meade.

VI

Then scarse ben past a yeare & daye
Whan Robin toke unto his bed,
And long, long time therein he lay,
Nor colde not work to earn his bread;
in soche an houre, whan times ben sore,
Sr. Tomas came with haughtie tread
& knockit at ye doore.

VII

Saies: "Madge, ye hoyden, do you know
how that you once despighted me?
But He forgiff an you will go
my swete harte lady ffor to bee!"
But Madge, ye hoyden, heard noe more,--
straightway upon her heele turnt shee,
& shote ye cottage doore.

VIII

Soe Madge, ye hoyden, did her parte
whiles that ye years did come and go;
't was somer allwais in her harte,
tho' winter strewed her head with snowe.
She toilt and span thro' all those years
nor bid repine that it ben soe,
nor never shad noe teares.

IX

Whiles Robin lay within his bed,
A divell came and whispered lowe,--
"Giff you will doe my will," he said,
"None more of sickness you shall knowe!"
Ye which gave joy to Robin's soul--
Saies Robin: "Divell, be it soe,
an that you make me whoale!"

X

That day, upp rising ffrom his bed,
Quoth Robin: "I am well again!"
& backe he came as from ye dead,
& he ben mickle blithe as when
he wooed his doxy long ago;
& Madge did make ado & then
Her teares ffor joy did flowe.

XI

Then came that hell-born cloven thing--
Saies: "Robin, I do claim your life,
and I hencefoorth shall be your king,
and you shall do my evill strife.
Look round about and you shall see
sr. Tomas' young and ffoolish wiffe--
a comely dame is shee!"

XII

Ye divell had him in his power,
and not colde Robin say thereto:
Soe Robin from that very houre
did what that divell bade him do;
He wooed and dipt, and on a daye
Sr. Tomas' wife and Robin flewe
a many leagues away.

XIII

Sir Tomas ben wood wroth and swore,
And sometime strode thro' leaf & brake
and knockit at ye cottage door
and thus to Madge, ye hoyden, spake:
Saies, "I wolde have you ffor mine own,
So come with mee & bee my make,
syn tother birds ben flown."

XIV

But Madge, ye hoyden, bade him noe;
Saies: "Robin is my swete harte still,
And, tho' he doth despight me soe,
I mean to do him good for ill.
So goe, Sir Tomas, goe your way;
ffor whiles I bee on live I will
ffor Robin's coming pray!"

XV

Soe Madge, ye hoyden, kneelt & prayed
that Godde sholde send her Robin backe.
And tho' ye folke vast scoffing made,
and tho' ye worlde ben colde and blacke,
And tho', as moneths dragged away,
ye hoyden's harte ben like to crack
With griff, she still did praye.

XVI

Sicke of that divell's damnèd charmes,
Aback did Robin come at last,
And Madge, ye hoyden, sprad her arms
and gave a cry and held him fast;
And as she clong to him and cried,
her patient harte with joy did brast,
& Madge, ye hoyden, died.

OLD ENGLISH LULLABY

Hush, bonnie, dinna greit;
Moder will rocke her sweete,--
Balow, my boy!
When that his toile ben done,
Daddie will come anone,--
Hush thee, my lyttel one;
Balow, my boy!

Gin thou dost sleepe, perchaunce
Fayries will come to daunce,--
Balow, my boy!
Oft hath thy moder seene
Moonlight and mirkland queene
Daunce on thy slumbering een,--
Balow, my boy!

Then droned a bomblebee
Saftly this songe to thee:
"Balow, my boy!"
And a wee heather bell,
Pluckt from a fayry dell,
Chimed thee this rune hersell:
"Balow, my boy!"

Soe, bonnie, dinna greit;
Moder doth rock her sweete,--
Balow, my boy!
Give mee thy lyttel hand,
Moder will hold it and
Lead thee to balow land,--
Balow, my boy!

THE BIBLIOMANIAC'S PRAYER

Keep me, I pray, in wisdom's way
That I may truths eternal seek;
I need protecting care to-day,--
My purse is light, my flesh is weak.
So banish from my erring heart
All baleful appetites and hints
Of Satan's fascinating art,
Of first editions, and of prints.
Direct me in some godly walk
Which leads away from bookish strife,
That I with pious deed and talk
May extra-illustrate my life.

But if, O Lord, it pleaseth Thee
To keep me in temptation's way,
I humbly ask that I may be
Most notably beset to-day;
Let my temptation be a book,
Which I shall purchase, hold, and keep,
Whereon when other men shall look,
They'll wail to know I got it cheap.
Oh, let it such a volume be
As in rare copperplates abounds,
Large paper, clean, and fair to see,
Uncut, unique, unknown to Lowndes.

THE LYTTEL BOY

Sometime there ben a lyttel boy
That wolde not renne and play,
And helpless like that little tyke
Ben allwais in the way.
"Goe, make you merrie with the rest,"
His weary moder cried;
But with a frown he catcht her gown
And hong untill her side.

That boy did love his moder well,
Which spake him faire, I ween;
He loved to stand and hold her hand
And ken her with his een;
His cosset bleated in the croft,
His toys unheeded lay,--
He wolde not goe, but, tarrying soe,
Ben allwais in the way.

Godde loveth children and doth gird
His throne with soche as these,
And He doth smile in plaisaunce while
They cluster at His knees;
And sometime, when He looked on earth
And watched the bairns at play,
He kenned with joy a lyttel boy
Ben allwais in the way.

And then a moder felt her heart
How that it ben to-torne,--
She kissed eche day till she ben gray
The shoon he used to worn;
No bairn let hold untill her gown,
Nor played upon the floore,--
Godde's was the joy; a lyttel boy
Ben in the way no more!

THE TRUTH ABOUT HORACE

It is very aggravating
To hear the solemn prating
Of the fossils who are stating
That old Horace was a prude;
When we know that with the ladies
He was always raising Hades,
And with many an escapade his
Best productions are imbued.

There's really not much harm in a
Large number of his carmina,
But these people find alarm in a
Few records of his acts;
So they'd squelch the muse caloric,
And to students sophomoric
They d present as metaphoric
What old Horace meant for facts.

We have always thought 'em lazy;
Now we adjudge 'em crazy!
Why, Horace was a daisy
That was very much alive!
And the wisest of us know him
As his Lydia verses show him,--
Go, read that virile poem,--
It is No. 25.

He was a very owl, sir,
And starting out to prowl, sir,
You bet he made Rome howl, sir,
Until he filled his date;
With a massic-laden ditty
And a classic maiden pretty
He painted up the city,
And Maecenas paid the freight!

THE DEATH OF ROBIN HOOD

"Give me my bow," said Robin Hood,
"An arrow give to me;
And where 't is shot mark thou that spot,
For there my grave shall be."

Then Little John did make no sign,
And not a word he spake;
But he smiled, altho' with mickle woe
His heart was like to break.

He raised his master in his arms,
And set him on his knee;
And Robin's eyes beheld the skies,
The shaws, the greenwood tree.

The brook was babbling as of old,
The birds sang full and clear,
And the wild-flowers gay like a carpet lay
In the path of the timid deer.

"O Little John," said Robin Hood,
"Meseemeth now to be
Standing with you so stanch and true
Under the greenwood tree.

"And all around I hear the sound
Of Sherwood long ago,
And my merry men come back again,--
You know, sweet friend, you know!

"Now mark this arrow; where it falls,
When I am dead dig deep,
And bury me there in the greenwood where
I would forever sleep."

He twanged his bow. Upon its course
The clothyard arrow sped,
And when it fell in yonder dell,
Brave Robin Hood was dead.

The sheriff sleeps in a marble vault,
The king in a shroud of gold;
And upon the air with a chanted pray'r
Mingles the mock of mould.

But the deer draw to the shady pool,
The birds sing blithe and free,
And the wild-flow'rs bloom o'er a hidden tomb
Under the greenwood tree.

"LOLLYBY, LOLLY, LOLLYBY"

Last night, whiles that the curfew bell ben ringing,
I heard a moder to her dearie singing
"Lollyby, lolly, lollyby."
And presently that chylde did cease hys weeping,
And on his moder's breast did fall a-sleeping,
To "lolly, lolly, lollyby."

Faire ben the chylde unto his moder clinging,
But fairer yet the moder's gentle singing,--
"Lollyby, lolly, lollyby."
And angels came and kisst the dearie smiling
In dreems while him hys moder ben beguiling
With "lolly, lolly, lollyby!"

Then to my harte saies I, "Oh, that thy beating
Colde be assuaged by some swete voice repeating
'Lollyby, lolly, lollyby;'
That like this lyttel chylde I, too, ben sleeping
With plaisaunt phantasies about me creeping,
To 'lolly, lolly, lollyby!'"

Sometime--mayhap when curfew bells are ringing--
A weary harte shall heare straunge voices singing,
"Lollyby, lolly, lollyby;"
Sometime, mayhap, with Chrysts love round me streaming,
I shall be lulled into eternal dreeming
With "lolly, lolly, lollyby."

HORACE AND LYDIA RECONCILED

HORACE

When you were mine in auld lang syne,
And when none else your charms might ogle,
I'll not deny,
Fair nymph, that I
Was happier than a Persian mogul.

LYDIA

Before _she_ came--that rival flame!--
(Was ever female creature sillier?)
In those good times,
Bepraised in rhymes,
I was more famed than Mother Ilia!

HORACE

Chloe of Thrace! With what a grace
Does she at song or harp employ her!
I'd gladly die
If only I
Might live forever to enjoy her!

LYDIA

My Sybaris so noble is
That, by the gods! I love him madly--
That I might save
Him from the grave
I'd give my life, and give it gladly!

HORACE

What if ma belle from favor fell,
And I made up my mind to shake her,
Would Lydia, then,
Come back again
And to her quondam flame betake her?

LYDIA

My other beau should surely go,
And you alone should find me gracious;
For no one slings
Such odes and things
As does the lauriger Horatius!

OUR TWO OPINIONS

Us two wuz boys when we fell out,--
Nigh to the age uv my youngest now;
Don't rec'lect what't wuz about,
Some small deeff'rence, I'll allow.
Lived next neighbors twenty years,
A-hatin' each other, me 'nd Jim,--
He havin' _his_ opinyin uv _me_,
'Nd _I_ havin' _my_ opinyin uv _him_.

Grew up together 'nd would n't speak,
Courted sisters, 'nd marr'd 'em, too;
Tended same meetin'-house oncet a week,
A-hatin' each other through 'nd through!
But when Abe Linkern asked the West
F'r soldiers, we answered,--me 'nd Jim,--
_He_ havin' _his_ opinyin uv _me_,
'Nd _I_ havin' _my_ opinyin uv _him_.

But down in Tennessee one night
Ther' wuz sound uv firin' fur away,
'Nd the sergeant allowed ther' 'd be a fight
With the Johnnie Rebs some time nex' day;
'Nd as I wuz thinkin' uv Lizzie 'nd home
Jim stood afore me, long 'nd slim,--
_He_ havin' _his_ opinyin uv _me_,
'Nd _I_ havin' _my_ opinyin uv _him_.

Seemed like we knew there wuz goin' to be
Serious trouble f'r me 'nd him;
Us two shuck hands, did Jim 'nd me,
But never a word from me or Jim!
He went _his_ way 'nd _I_ went _mine_,
'Nd into the battle's roar went we,--
_I_ havin' _my_ opinyin uv Jim,
'Nd _he_ havin' _his_ opinyin uv _me_.

Jim never come back from the war again,
But I ha' n't forgot that last, last night
When, waitin' f'r orders, us two men
Made up 'nd shuck hands, afore the fight.
'Nd, after it all, it's soothin' to know
That here _I_ be 'nd yonder's Jim,--
_He_ havin' _his_ opinyin uv _me_,
'Nd _I_ havin' _my_ opinyin uv _him_.

MOTHER AND CHILD

One night a tiny dewdrop fell
Into the bosom of a rose,--
"Dear little one, I love thee well,
Be ever here thy sweet repose!"

Seeing the rose with love bedight,
The envious sky frowned dark, and then
Sent forth a messenger of light
And caught the dewdrop up again.

"Oh, give me back my heavenly child,--
My love!" the rose in anguish cried;
Alas! the sky triumphant smiled,
And so the flower, heart-broken, died.

ORKNEY LULLABY

A moonbeam floateth from the skies,
Whispering, "Heigho, my dearie!
I would spin a web before your eyes,--
A beautiful web of silver light,
Wherein is many a wondrous sight
Of a radiant garden leagues away,
Where the softly tinkling lilies sway,
And the snow-white lambkins are at play,--
Heigho, my dearie!"

A brownie stealeth from the vine
Singing, "Heigho, my dearie!
And will you hear this song of mine,--
A song of the land of murk and mist
Where bideth the bud the dew hath kist?
Then let the moonbeam's web of light
Be spun before thee silvery white,
And I shall sing the livelong night,--
Heigho, my dearie!"

The night wind speedeth from the sea,
Murmuring, "Heigho, my dearie!
I bring a mariner's prayer for thee;
So let the moonbeam veil thine eyes,
And the brownie sing thee lullabies;
But I shall rock thee to and fro,
Kissing the brow _he_ loveth so,
And the prayer shall guard thy bed, I trow,--
Heigho, my dearie!"

LITTLE MACK

This talk about the journalists that run the East is bosh,
We've got a Western editor that's little, but, O gosh!
He lives here in Mizzoora where the people are so set
In ante-bellum notions that they vote for Jackson yet;
But the paper he is running makes the rusty fossils swear,--
The smartest, likeliest paper that is printed anywhere!
And, best of all, the paragraphs are pointed as a tack,
And that's because they emanate
From little Mack.

In architecture he is what you'd call a chunky man,
As if he'd been constructed on the summer cottage plan;
He has a nose like Bonaparte; and round his mobile mouth
Lies all the sensuous languor of the children of the South;
His dealings with reporters who affect a weekly bust
Have given to his violet eyes a shadow of distrust;
In glorious abandon his brown hair wanders back
From the grand Websterian forehead
Of little Mack.

No matter what the item is, if there's an item in it,
You bet your life he's on to it and nips it in a minute!
From multifarious nations, countries, monarchies, and lands,
From Afric's sunny fountains and India's coral strands,
From Greenland's icy mountains and Siloam's shady rills,
He gathers in his telegrams, and Houser pays the bills;
What though there be a dearth of news, he has a happy knack
Of scraping up a lot of scoops,
Does little Mack.

And learning? Well he knows the folks of every tribe and age
That ever played a part upon this fleeting human stage;
His intellectual system's so extensive and so greedy
That, when it comes to records, he's a walkin' cyclopedy;
For having studied (and digested) all the books a-goin',
It stands to reason he must know about all's worth a-knowin'!
So when a politician with a record's on the track,
We're apt to hear some history
From little Mack.

And when a fellow-journalist is broke and needs a twenty,
Who's allus ready to whack up a portion of his plenty?
Who's allus got a wallet that's as full of sordid gain
As his heart is full of kindness and his head is full of brain?
Whose bowels of compassion will in-va-ri-a-bly move
Their owner to those courtesies which plainly, surely prove
That he's the kind of person that never does go back
On a fellow that's in trouble?
Why, little Mack!

I've heard 'em tell of Dana, and of Bonner, and of Reid,
Of Johnnie Cockerill, who, I'll own, is very smart indeed;
Yet I don't care what their renown or influence may be,
One metropolitan exchange is quite enough for me!
So keep your Danas, Bonners, Reids, your Cockerills, and the rest,
The woods is full of better men all through this woolly West;
For all that sleek, pretentious, Eastern editorial pack
We wouldn't swap the shadow of
Our little Mack!

TO ROBIN GOODFELLOW

I see you, Maister Bawsy-brown,
Through yonder lattice creepin';
You come for cream and to gar me dream,
But you dinna find me sleepin'.
The moonbeam, that upon the floor
Wi' crickets ben a-jinkin',
Now steals away fra' her bonnie play--
Wi' a rosier blie, I'm thinkin'.

I saw you, Maister Bawsy-brown,
When the blue bells went a-ringin'
For the merrie fays o' the banks an' braes,
And I kenned your bonnie singin';
The gowans gave you honey sweets,
And the posies on the heather
Dript draughts o' dew for the faery crew
That danct and sang together.

But posie-bloom an' simmer-dew
And ither sweets o' faery
C'u'd na gae down wi' Bawsy-brown,
Sae nigh to Maggie's dairy!
My pantry shelves, sae clean and white,
Are set wi' cream and cheeses,--
Gae, gin you will, an' take your fill
Of whatsoever pleases.

Then wave your wand aboon my een
Until they close awearie,
And the night be past sae sweet and fast
Wi' dreamings o' my dearie.
But pinch the wench in yonder room,
For she's na gude nor bonnie,--
Her shelves be dust and her pans be rust,
And she winkit at my Johnnie!

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!

KRINKEN

Krinken was a little child,--
It was summer when he smiled.
Oft the hoary sea and grim
Stretched its white arms out to him,
Calling, "Sun-child, come to me;
Let me warm my heart with thee!"
But the child heard not the sea,
Calling, yearning evermore
For the summer on the shore.

Krinken on the beach one day
Saw a maiden Nis at play;
On the pebbly beach she played
In the summer Krinken made.
Fair, and very fair, was she,
Just a little child was he.
"Krinken," said the maiden Nis,
"Let me have a little kiss,
Just a kiss, and go with me
To the summer-lands that be
Down within the silver sea."

Krinken was a little child--
By the maiden Nis beguiled,
Hand in hand with her went he,
And 'twas summer in the sea.
And the hoary sea and grim
To its bosom folded him--
Clasped and kissed the little form,
And the ocean's heart was warm.

Now the sea calls out no more;
It is winter on the shore,--
Winter where that little child
Made sweet summer when he smiled;
Though 'tis summer on the sea
Where with maiden Nis went he,--
Summer, summer evermore,--
It is winter on the shore,
Winter, winter evermore.
Of the summer on the deep
Come sweet visions in my sleep:
_His_ fair face lifts from the sea,
_His_ dear voice calls out to me,--
These my dreams of summer be.

Krinken was a little child,
By the maiden Nis beguiled;
Oft the hoary sea and grim
Reached its longing arms to him,
Crying, "Sun-child, come to me;
Let me warm my heart with thee!"
But the sea calls out no more;
It is winter on the shore,--
Winter, cold and dark and wild;
Krinken was a little child,--
It was summer when he smiled;
Down he went into the sea,
And the winter bides with me.
Just a little child was he.

BÉRANGER'S "BROKEN FIDDLE"

I

There, there, poor dog, my faithful friend,
Pay you no heed unto my sorrow:
But feast to-day while yet you may,--
Who knows but we shall starve to-morrow!

II

"Give us a tune," the foemen cried,
In one of their profane caprices;
I bade them "No"--they frowned, and, lo!
They dashed this innocent in pieces!

III

This fiddle was the village pride--
The mirth of every fête enhancing;
Its wizard art set every heart
As well as every foot to dancing.

IV

How well the bridegroom knew its voice,
As from its strings its song went gushing!
Nor long delayed the promised maid
Equipped for bridal, coy and blushing.

V

Why, it discoursed so merrily,
It quickly banished all dejection;
And yet, when pressed, our priest confessed
I played with pious circumspection.

VI

And though, in patriotic song,
It was our guide, compatriot, teacher,
I never thought the foe had wrought
His fury on the helpless creature!

VII

But there, poor dog, my faithful friend,
Pay you no heed unto my sorrow;
I prithee take this paltry cake,--
Who knows but we shall starve to-morrow!

VIII

Ah, who shall lead the Sunday choir
As this old fiddle used to do it?
Can vintage come, with this voice dumb
That used to bid a welcome to it?

IX

It soothed the weary hours of toil,
It brought forgetfulness to debtors;
Time and again from wretched men
It struck oppression's galling fetters.

X

No man could hear its voice, and hate;
It stayed the teardrop at its portal;
With that dear thing I was a king
As never yet was monarch mortal!

XI

Now has the foe--the vandal foe--
Struck from my hands their pride and glory;
There let it lie! In vengeance, I
Shall wield another weapon, gory!

XII

And if, O countrymen, I fall,
Beside our grave let this be spoken:
"No foe of France shall ever dance
Above the heart and fiddle, broken!"

XIII

So come, poor dog, my faithful friend,
I prithee do not heed my sorrow,
But feast to-day while yet you may,
For we are like to starve to-morrow.

THE LITTLE PEACH

A little peach in the orchard grew,--
A little peach of emerald hue;
Warmed by the sun and wet by the dew,
It grew.

One day, passing that orchard through,
That little peach dawned on the view
Of Johnny Jones and his sister Sue--
Them two.

Up at that peach a club they threw--
Down from the stem on which it grew
Fell that peach of emerald hue.
Mon Dieu!

John took a bite and Sue a chew,
And then the trouble began to brew,--
Trouble the doctor couldn't subdue.
Too true!

Under the turf where the daisies grew
They planted John and his sister Sue,
And their little souls to the angels flew,--
Boo hoo!

What of that peach of the emerald hue,
Warmed by the sun, and wet by the dew?
Ah, well, its mission on earth is through.
Adieu!

1880.

HORACE III. 13

O fountain of Bandusia,
Whence crystal waters flow,
With garlands gay and wine I'll pay
The sacrifice I owe;
A sportive kid with budding horns
I have, whose crimson blood
Anon shall dye and sanctify
Thy cool and babbling flood.

O fountain of Bandusia,
The dog-star's hateful spell
No evil brings unto the springs
That from thy bosom well;
Here oxen, wearied by the plough,
The roving cattle here,
Hasten in quest of certain rest
And quaff thy gracious cheer.

O fountain of Bandusia,
Ennobled shalt thou be,
For I shall sing the joys that spring
Beneath yon ilex-tree;
Yes, fountain of Bandusia,
Posterity shall know
The cooling brooks that from thy nooks
Singing and dancing go!

THE DIVINE LULLABY

I hear Thy voice, dear Lord;
I hear it by the stormy sea
When winter nights are black and wild,
And when, affright, I call to Thee;
It calms my fears and whispers me,
"Sleep well, my child."

I hear Thy voice, dear Lord,
In singing winds, in falling snow,
The curfew chimes, the midnight bell.
"Sleep well, my child," it murmurs low;
"The guardian angels come and go,--
O child, sleep well!"

I hear Thy voice, dear Lord,
Ay, though the singing winds be stilled,
Though hushed the tumult of the deep,
My fainting heart with anguish chilled
By Thy assuring tone is thrilled,--
"Fear not, and sleep!"

Speak on--speak on, dear Lord!
And when the last dread night is near,
With doubts and fears and terrors wild,
Oh, let my soul expiring hear
Only these words of heavenly cheer,
"Sleep well, my child!"

IN THE FIRELIGHT

The fire upon the hearth is low,
And there is stillness everywhere,
While like winged spirits, here and there,
The firelight shadows fluttering go.
And as the shadows round me creep,

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