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Black Beetles in Amber by Ambrose Bierce

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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.


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!


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.


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.


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 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.


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!


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.


'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.



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


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.


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.


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."


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.


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.


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 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."


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!"


'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!


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!


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!


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!


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.


[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!


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.


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!


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!


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."


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!


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!


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!"


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 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

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!


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

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