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A Tramp

A Tramp image
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Tramp ? Yes, I'm a tramp, and one of til worst of tbc kind, Thinks my lady who peers at me tbere Uit. ugh the bars of her blind, As I lounge in the shade of the tree here and greedy munch The brokeo bread-criiBts which she'd airily cali my lunch. My lunch ! That sounds wel! to a man who lor f orty-eight hours Hasn't broken his fast until now- now, whüe no devours The broken bread-ecraps that stick In his starving throat, Which he cooIb now and then, as my lady takes pains to note, From a rummy old flaek, which she thiuks she can smell, From behind her blind-barn, as the vintage of heil. She'd never believe, though I poured it out at her feet That it 'was only a draught of the ale that Adam found bv eet. Ho her impulse of charity chilla at thls villaicoue sign tVflfeBWBB jÊk ' While through the winiow below on thFsifleboard, carven and fine, I can see the decanters ftiled with old Madeira and eherry, For respectable lips to drain, tiJl the wits grow mellow and merry ! Well, my lady, I wonder what yon would pay, If I should riso in my rags and teil you that in my day had toasttdas fair as you in wine of tho choicest and beet, And been of the rich and the gay a courted and flattered guest ? Believe me ? No, yon'd tnrn with soorn from my tale, And send for the nearest pólice to lodge me in jail For a lying vagrant and nuisance plying the trade Of a swindler for the chance of a theft to be made. And the pólice ; I can see my gentleman'B face As 1he story is told- a tramp is a tramp all base Through and through, a bundie of ragB and of lies, One begetting another, both stripped clean of disguise In that sharp professional sight on the watch for a thief. And I can hcar my gentleman's voice, curt with unbelief, As he stabs me here and there with a question or two : Yen, a curious story, indeed, if it chance to be true 1 But men so high in the xcorld wouldnH let an old connade dine On begcarly crunts ; they'i feast him on woodceck aiid wine ! Would they ? Ah, my professional f riend, Your wisdom is not ol the world of " the upper West End." Of crime and vice you've a knowledge far beyond mine, But of the friendship that lavithes woodeck and wine On the man who's at odds with Fortun e and Fate, A poor, shabby devjl without worldly estáte, Who has once been as high as now he is low, I think I may venture toswear that I know All the ins and the outs- and the outs, let me say, By a heavy majority carry the day ! But 'twas never the way of the world to look back For the unfortunate rider who s'.ipped in the track ! Once down, he may scramble to f oot as he can ; But the chance is, once down, that a luckierman Closes in to the line and fllls up his place, And he finds ere he knowB that he's out of tho race. So I slipped from th-i track, and the world doubtlesfi thinks Lost the race like a coward who shivers and shrinks From the bruut of the battle, sneaking out of the Btrife, For the shameless, swect sloth of the vagabond's Jife. Oh, my world, so you judge from your fine, airy height Of respf ctable sin the poor, luckleBB wight Who has lost in the race and drif ted below Your chariot-wheels- God ! what you do know Of the straits men may come to when flung to the wal], Out of pluck, out of pocket - in short, Btripped of all That can give a man reasou or courage to face His fellows once more in the heat of the race ? You to talk in that virtuous, copy-book way Of the certain rewards that are sure to repay Honest worth and endeavor ; you to preach and to prate As you sit at your ease high in church and in state Oí adversity'B uses and povertj's gains ! Oh, my world, let me say, as a fooi for your pains, And a selfish old braggart, you'll rank with the best, Whüe I- wel!, I sat with you once as your guest, Aud I know you, my world, for your wisdom was mine In those days when we feasted on woodcock and wine. But since then I have tasted a vintage that briniis A wisdom denied to courtiers and kings ! 'Tis the vintage that's grown from the vine we may cali The vine of experience, and biiter as gall. It has shown me the folly of faith here below In thoee fine Httle saws and proverbs that glow Like a coal from the altar of heaven till the day That webring them to bank with thcir promise to pay. There's that ene about honest worth and endeavor, With its certain rewarde- well, perhaps Fin not clever Accounting rewaids ; perhaps I should find My reward i u my conscience, and thus go it blind ; Hat though I have kept this conscience as fair, Perhaps, as my iady who peern at me, I am not of that sort of ethereal stuff To sup on a conscience and find it enough. Yet no epicure's feast do I hanker for now, But that promise fulnlled, " By the sweat of thy brow Shalt thou eat." A curse, yet a pledge, there it stonde, To crumble and f all at the touch of my hands, Like the fine little proverbs I mouthed ia the days Wien, a fooi, I fancied I knew all the ways Of life and the world. Good God ! did I know That one day I should wander like this to and fro Throngh the breadth of the land, a man without stain Of a crime, seeking vainly that toil that shall gain The bread and the breath of his life, his place Once more among men, a chance to lift up his face ÜDashamed to the light of the hea-zens, and the gaze Of the curloHS worid, from whoie open highway He has shrunk step by step in his terrible straits, With the demon of Death and Despair tliat waits For its prey, beckoning on and still on day by day ; While afar, in the life I had left, in the open highway Of the world. men, my fellows, a brief space. ago, Sitting snug in high places, well f ed, and aglow With that wisdom that carries the fool's current stamp. Set their dull wits to solve that problem, the tramp 1 Not a man like themselves, but a " creature," a " thing," A nuisance to Ir gtslate over, and bring To the test of the law, by which Bhall abide This " creature " and "nuisance," they calmly decidei o you gather us up, so you measure us all, . bundie of tares, nothiug else - O Saul [idst the prophets !--0 fooi, deaf and blind ! 'hile you fafhion your lawsfor vien, not mankind, ' out of your world, ask niyself if the Man - ?he Man we caü Christ- would have followed your plan? - Atlantic itonthlyfor July.


Old News
Michigan Argus