Francis Hall.

The Century, Volume 11 online

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Online LibraryFrancis HallThe Century, Volume 11 → online text (page 163 of 163)
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For I tlimk of a head with the silvery hair

That will soon, very aoon be at rest
He has labored fiiU long for the true and die good

'Mid the manifokl troubles that irk us—
His only emolument rmment and food.

And— a pass, now and then, to the drcus.

Heigfao I firom die past comes a memory bright

Of a lass with the freshness of clover
Who used me to cUp firom her Irenes one night

A memorial k)ck for her k>ver.
That dear little fock b still gkissy and browi^

But the lass is much okler and fiitter.
And the youth— he*s an editor here b the to«n»— >

I'm employed on the staff of the lattec

I am lying at rest in the sanctum to-nighfr—

The phce is deserted and sdll—
The stars are abroad and the moon is in si^

Through the trees on the brow of the hiH
Qouds hurry along in undignified haste

And the wind rushes by with a
Hdlo! there's a whopping big rat in the

How I'd Hke to shut down on hia taill

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Thb Parson pansed by hi» strawbeny bed.

Upon nis face a frown.
The bemes were forming fiiU, ripe and red,
The birds sang merrilv overhead.

Yet gravely he looked down.

The Parson strode up the garden path.

Beneath the apple trees,
From each rosy blossom, a boney bath
Unheeding he shook, bot his words of wrath

Died hntd the stir of bees.

The Parson reclined in his study chair.

The ink on his pen was dry.
And softly the air stin^ his silvery hair.
As, musinff with wearisome look ot care,

'He neaved a moumfol sigh.

Bnt he suddenly cast hit pen askle,

And pacing to and m>,
Quoth, ''What is our life but a dream of pride.
Destruction stalks forth on every side.

And if my wife should know I

«What matters it all if I can maintain

My riffht to reap and sow?
To gather what I have planted in pain?"
Here he paused, and murmured the same refrain,

«* But — if my vrife should know I "

I passed next morning, and under the trees

I saw the Parson stand.
Amid rustle of leaves, and hum of bees,
'Mid glint of flowers, yet brighter than thete^

His look serene and bland.

But what saw I, in the shrubbery therc^

That filled me with affright-
So dismally white, and paunt, and bare^
Yet floating so daintily m the air,

As u to mock the sight ?

Three ghastly skeletons stood in a row.

To guard the berry patch;
The soft breeze tilted them to and fro,
And their old bones rattled, a chanting low,

'*No berries here you snatch!"

Three skeletons broujiit from a doset down.

Where they had lived at ease;
And the birds were all flown, for up and down
In wildest rambles through country and town.

Naught had they seen like mese.

The Parson stood by his strawberry bed.

His wife came strolling down,
The berries were lar^ and ripe, and red,
**Dear, your hoops have saved the berries,'* he
" Buy new ones in the town."


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Th« Rmcu« of the **Doimcr Parly.**

Readers of **Gtbriel Conroy" will remember
the following foot-note which occurs in connection
with the author's description of scenes in Starvation

" I fear I must task tbe incredulout rMder's finrtber patiaice
by calfioflT atteadon to what may, perhaps, prove the most
lilenl ana thoroughly attested &ct of tlus otherwise fanciful
chronicle. The omditaon and situation of the ill-bnied ' Don-
ner Party/— then an unknown, unheralded cavalcade of emi>
erants— starving in an uxifreauented oass of the Sierras, was
first made known to Ckptain Yount of Napa, im a dream. The
Spamsh records of Cabforoia show that the relief party which
succored ^ survivon was projected upon diis S/tritual infor>

In the thorough scrutiny to which everything re-
lating to the Heroic Age of California has been sub-
jected, there are, probably, few beyond the mount-
ains who are not fiauniliar with the details of the
above expedition. There are many in the East,
however, who will be interested in Captain Yount's
own version of this strange occurrence, as related
by him to the late Rev. Dr. Horace Bushnell. We
quote from " Nature and the Supernatural,'' pages

As I sat by the fire, one stormy November night, in a hotel
parlor, in the Napa Vallev of Cafifomia, there came in a most
venerable and benignant-Kx^cing person, with his wife, taking
their seats in tbe circle. The stranger, as I afterward leamea,
was Captain Yount, a man who came over into Califimiia, as a
trapper, more than forty years ago. Here he has Kved, apart
from the great world and its questions, acquiring an immense
landed estate, and becoming a kind of acknowledged patriarch
in the country, His tall, manly pemn, and his graaoos, pa.
temal look, as totally unsophisticated in die ryprcasimt as if he
had never heard of a pbflosopfaic doubt or question in his life,
marked him as the true {Mtriarch. The conversatioo turned, I
know not how, on Spiritism and the modem necromancy, and
he discovered a degree of inclination to bdieve in the reported
mysteries. Hb wife, a much younger and apparendy Christian
penon, intimated that probabfy he was pre<fiq>ased to diis kind
of fiuth by a very peculiar experience ol his own, and evidently
desired that he ought be drawn out by some inteligent discus-
sion of his queries.

At my request, he gave me his story. About sax or seven
vears previous in a mid-winter's night he had a dream, in whidi
ne saw what appeared to be a company of emigrants, arrested
by the snows of the mountains, and perishing rapidly by cokl
and hunger. He noted the very cast of the scenery, marked by
a hugeperpemficular front of white rock cUflT: he saw men cut-
ting off what a|^)eared to be tree-tops, rising out of deep gul£i
of snow; he distmguished Uie very features of the persons, and
die k)ok of their particular cfistress. He woke, profoundly im-
pressed with die distinctness and apparent reaUtv of his dream.
At length he feO asleep, and dreamed exactljr the same dream
again. In the morning he could not expel it from hb mind.
AUing in. shortly, with an old hunter conuade, he told him the
story, and was onl^ the more deeply impressed by hu recogniz-
ing, without hesitation, the scenery of the dream. Thb comrade
came over the Sierra, by tbe Carson Valley Pass, and declared
that a spot in the Pass answered exacdv to bb description. By
thbtheunsophbticatedpatriardi wasMcided. He immediately
collected a comjMuiy of men, with mules and blankets, and au
necessary provisions, llie neighbors were lau^ng, meantime,
athbcTMufity. "No matter," said he, "I am able to do this, and
I win, for I voily befieve that the fuA b according to my dream."
The men were sent into the mountains, one hundred and fifty
miles dUtant, direcdy to the Carson Valley Pass. And there
thev found the company, in exactly the condidon of die dream,
ana broueht in the remnant alive.

A gentleman present said: "You need have no doubt of dm;
for we Califotmans all know the fiuxs, and the names of the
iamifies brought in, who now look upon our venenUe friend as
a kind of a savior." These names he gave. Mid die places
where they reside, and I found, afterward, that tbe Caltfonia
re ready, everywhere, to second nb testimony.

The Horse-Car Poetry.


I PURPOSB to write the true and authentic account
of the origin, growth, and development of that de-

partment of English literature which is known
recognized as ** Horse-Car Poetry," wherever t
product of American civilization, the daily
paper with a "humorous" column, exists, or ^k
mother tongue lies bleeding under the dab of a
** local editor." I shall trace it from the hoar of its
birdi, in car Na loi of die Fourth Aveooe fiacs. ia
the dusk of a summer evening of 1875, to ks Bmni-
taneous appearance in Uie February numbers of die
** Atlantic" and " Harper's** of die present year. I
am the more anxious to make this oontribotioft lo
history now, for the reason that I am in possessaoa
of all die facts as gathered from the most trest-
worthy sources, and I know that it is a sabfecft in
whidi the world is interested, and upon whkh it has
araptnrous longing to learn the uttermost, the froacn
truth. Moreover, great misapprehensioa exists m
the public mind upon the whole subject. There is
much doubt concerning the original Unesy deplorable
ignorance concerning the drcumstaaces which ^ave
them birth, and profound mystery as to the aadHr
or authors. AU this doubt I shall dispel, all (hb
ignorance enlighten^ all this mystery unrmveL It
seems plain that this should be done now. Foi;
if the origin of this schocd of poetry is even bow
wrapped in uncertainty and the names of its (boaden
unknown, how insoluble will be the mystery, and
how long and profound the discussioiiSy and :
ments, and disputes, and citations of aiithorities» 1
comparisons of hand-writing, and all that,
posterity gets hold of it, as it is sure to, and i
gates it, as it must I Had the author of the " Jaaias **
letters known what trouble he was making fior m-
bom generations, I make no doubt he would hate
unbosomed himself before he died. No s«ch legKy
of contention should be left by the anthon die
inventors, I may say — of the horse-car poetry. Un-
derstand me. I have no selfish motive in i
public the following facts. It is only in die i
of truth, the truth of history, and from a desire that
justice m^ be done the founders of this fresh and
unique department of literature, as well as to save
trouble for posterity, that I have pursued the in-
vestigation and esti^lished the truth of die stale-
ments I am about to make. It is proper that I
should state at the outset that I have consulted wiA
all the authors whose names are given, and, thou^
they were without exception averse to pobBcity
and reluctant to expose themselves to dbe shafts
of the critic and the reviewer, and the storm of
detraction, firom which even the Lake school of
poets did not esc^>e, they finally consented, npoa
grounds of humanity, that the wbole story should
be told.

In the cars of the Fourth Avenue Una,— a lat
which charges sU and eight cenU five, as wiD be
presendy seen, and, in consequence, is patroaisad
by the wealthy and tbe proud,— there is a ooliDe
which runs thus :

'*Tbe oondoctor. when he ic mhe * a fw^ «S himAailr
r*T***f* m tbe Dresence 01 me pasMnyef ,

A blue trip sKp for on 8 cent ftov;
A buflTtrip sfip (or a 6 ee« Cm;
A pink trip shp for a } oeat tea**

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Examine diese three lines carefully, and jrou will
obserre that it is almost ready-made poetry. It
looks like poetry, for eadi line begins with a capital
letter, and that in many cases is the only distinguish-
ing mark of a poem. Then, too, it scans well : it
rhymes, it trips, it runs with a skippity-skip, and
yoa can sing it ; a man who has music in his soul
can't help singing it I am satisfied that thousands
of regular riders on the Fourth Avenue line hum-
med it to themselves before it ever leaped into print
as regulation verse. M r. Bromley of •* The Tribune,' '
and Mr. Brooks of " The Times," were riding down
town one night last summer like purse-proud aris-
tocrats in car No. loi of the Fourth Avenue line,
having the whole car to themselves. Brooks was
dozing. Bromley's attention was riveted to the
notice, which always had a strange £&scination for
him. At length he started up with :

"It's poetry, by George! Brooks, it's poetry."
Brooks, somewhat startled by the abruptness of
the outburst, hastily inquired :

"What's poetry? What are you talking about ? "

Bromley, as \S. fearful of losing his discovery,

pointed to the card, and, without taking his ejres off

it, read it with the omission of but a single word,


"The cooductor, v^wn he ncetves a hx^
Will punch in me presence of the pauinjare,
A bhie trip sfip," etc.

Brooks mumbled it over in a sleepy way, and
said: "That's so," and then tried to look away
from it and forget it. He couldn't. He was caught
by the strange fiiscination. Both the gentlemen
read it and re-read it, and kept reading and repeat-
ing it till they reached Printing House Square, and
they both inform me that it haunted them the whole
night long.

Still, it must be confessed, there was something
unsatisfactory, a sense of incompleteness about it as
it stood. The next night when they entered the
car, they were overpowered by the same fascination.
They hummed it and jingled it, and kept it going.
It kept time with the rattle of the car, it made per-
fect accord with the hoof-boats of the horses, it was
a regular QwidrupedanU putrem sonitu qtiatit un-
gula campum sort of thing. At length, Brooks was
inspired and burst forth with the additional line that
made the song complete. So then it ran :

"The conductor, when he receives a iiure,

Will punch in the presence of the pai«injare,

A blue trip slip for an 8 cent fare,

A buff trip sHp for a 6 cent fiure,

A pink tnp shp for a 3 cent fiure,

A a in tkt prestMce ^ tkt ptush^rt.'*

Both then felt that the poem was complete and ready
to be set to music, perhaps fitted into an opera. It
was very shortly introduced as a hymn in the edi-
torial rooms of "The Tribune," and Mr. Wyckoff,
the scientific editor, assisted by Mr. Moses P. Handy,
then of ••The Tribune" sUfT, now editor of "The
Richmond Enquirer," added to them the following
chorus, which it will be observed has the character-
istic merits of the original verse, and of this school
of metrical composition:

" Ptmdi, boys, punch ! punch with care !
Punch in die presence of the paiistnjare,
A blue trip djip fiar an 8 cent £uv,
A buff trip slip for a 6 cent &re,
A pink tnp ^p for a 3 (^nt fiue,
All in the presence of the paasiiyare."

Then the hymn and chorus were sung together,
and the work pronounced perfect by good judges
of both poetry and music The score is appended
to this article :

It was not intended to give the poem to the public ;
but one night it was taken down in shorthand from
the lips of the choir, and the next day printed on an in^
side page of" The Tribune." It was then the trouble
began. Boston broke out with parodies ; Philadel-
phia, Baltimore, and Washington took up the strain,
and in a somewhat rapid and confusing manner rang
the changes. It ran west to Chicago, St Louis,
Omaha, and Keokuk. It dropped down to New
Orleans, swung back by the cities of the Gulf and
principal ports of entry, hovered over Key West, and
was only hindered from crossing to Havana by the
feebleness of the Spanish tongue in reproducing the
idioms, and by the suspicion with which all Ameri-
can products are received on die island. It crossed
the plains, licking up oudjring settlements like a
prairie fire in its progress, and filling Denver, Chey-
enne, and Laramie with music on its way. Then it
swooped down upon the Pacific coast from the Sier-
ras like a song of the sun-lands, and made the
heart of the " hoodlum " leap with gladness. It was
the one touch of horse-car poetry that made the
whole world kin. The continent was one vast
eruption of verse. There were addresses, and son-
nets, and odes, hexameter, spondee, and dactyl,
humorous, descriptive, sentimental, and didactic, —
everything that jingled, and some things that visibly
and painfully Ihnped into this torrent of verse, were
huried, folios upon folios, relating to the one-
horse car, the two-horse car, the conductorless car,
the car-driver, the car-conductor, the worn car-horse,
and the noble mule. The stoddiolders and direct-
ors, the " car-starters " and " spotters," the motive
power, and the rolling stock, were all embalmed in
verse and immortalized in song.

They aanr the carJiorse and lus load ; '
Sang without any instructor;
Each heart recalled a different road,
But all sang die hone-car conductor.

But the introduction of this rare and beautiful
style has done more than merely trai^sfonn the work-
day world into an aviary, and set the continent a-
shiging. It has promoted peace. Rival journalists
have ceased to malign each other for a moment to
join in the chorus and pay a passing contribution to
the swelling volume. Space that would otherwise
have been given to objurgatory prose has been sanc-
tified with the halo of poetry, and devoted to the
muse of the horse-car. Political contention ceased,
and the able editor, finding that he had pinioos amd
could motmt, went flapping upward above the noise
of factions and the strife of parties, and sang sweetly
in the blue empyrean of the buff trip slip, and the
pink trip slip, and of the glad day coming when trip

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slips of all colors and denominations should be
openly and unreservedly punched in the presence
of the passinjare. Physicians have hummed it to
their patients ; it has liung on the lips of clergymen,
even in the midst of funeral discourses and marriage
ceremonies ; lawyers have felt it trip into their large
and learned discourse to Court or jury ; mothers
have sung it as a lullaby, and there are round-eyed,
wondering infants — fortunate babes — in the cradles
of to-day who are to be the horse-car conductors and
passinjares of the next generation, who will step out
by and by into active life so rooted and grounded in
the knowledge of the duty of the conductor, with
reference to the trip slips, that, in the words of
another, ''no climate can daim, no country can
appropriate, them."

And then for the Centennial year how fit it is !
Not epilepsy itself— which it somewhat resembles —
could be fitter, or more fit. It has united the peo-

ple; it has promoted harmony; it has brought
peace. Specimens of it should be gathered froa aD
quarters of the continent and exhibited under glass,
or in a cage or something, at the Centennial. It
strikes me it would be something of a surprise ic
the crowiied heads, if any ^ould come over ; and if
they should not, it will be their own loss. An^
then, one hundred years from now, when the natia
celebrates its Bi-Centennial, when the horse-tr
poetry shall have been long established, and its
place in literature recognized wherever the language
is spoken, who knows but the battered remains of
car No. loi of the Fourth Avenue line will Ix
exhibited as a historic relic, of which the Emenoo
of that day shall write :

" Twas here the hone<ar oprnpany ttudc
The immoitml verse heard round die wotkL"*



blue trip slip for an eight cent ftire, X buff trip slip for a six cent flu«.

Punch, boys, punch I punch with care. All in the pres-

of the pas - sin - jare.


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Online LibraryFrancis HallThe Century, Volume 11 → online text (page 163 of 163)