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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 37


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Come, I have matter for your ear,
I have a tale to tell,
A song to sing, a race to ride,
And would acquit me well.

Speak of my effort what you may,
But read it all the same,—
Read it, 'tis written to be read,
Laughed at, and read again.

'Tis true that you may not approve
Of all that you may read;
Yet I would claim attention,
Though the reader shakes his head.

For I would please, ev'n tho' I touch
A sore place now and then;
And I would spare, or lightly touch,
Where I give only pain.

Man errs in giving pain, if he
Can not with ready hand
Pour in the balm that soothes again,
Meetly to the demand.

We err at all times, when we leave
A canker at the heart
Of those of whom we address. My aim
Is that in peace we part.

A skilful surgeon with free hand
Strikes deep the lancet, where
He knows disturbing tumors lie,
And lays the fester bare.

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But with the lightest of light hands,
He binds again the wound;
And if he pained he pleases more
When this is safely bound.

I have a case upon my hands,—
A patient 'neath my care,
And must use strongest remedies,
This patient to repair.

Around me if I look, I see
What pleases me but ill;
Yet though I scotch the venomed snake,
I scarce may hope to kill.

If I believed such skill were mine,
I should not hesitate
My page with horrors for to fill,
And these again rebate.

Thus might the fabric rise again,
In health and strength throughout;
But much I fear effectual cure
Hangs on the side of doubt.

I hoped my purpose to effect,
No actors being seen
Conspicuously upon the stage.
This proved an idle dream.

So, long with reverie I held
Communion, to decide
What should be done; and no one else
Gave council me to guide.

At length the present and the past
Rose mentally in view;
And there stood figures, not my choice—
So here they figure too.

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I saw what I would here narrate,
And lies with me the blame;
If blame there be, it needs must lie
With those I shall not name.

Yet think not with remorseless scourge
That I lash everywhere,
Or to destruction, for I strike
Alone where vice lies bare.

Sooner would I throw down my pen,
And in dismay look on,
Than that one soul should justly say
I meditated wrong.

So much for my intent. I know
That I shall not escape
The charge of being personal,
And writing this in hate.

And truly I would here confess,
I would not choose my friends
To figure here; those that are not,
I owe them no amends.

I do these no injustice, since I
think I make it plain
My tale is but a fable, and
Need not apply to them.

Yet there may be who do insist
They see their portrait drawn;
And, in reply, I'm bound to say,
"Thou art the very man."