Henry Livingston Jr.

(1748-1828)

A Tenant of Mrs. Van Kleeck Poem by Henry Livingston Jr.


Translation of a letter from a tenant of Mrs. Van Kleeck to that lady, dated January 9, 1787


My very good landlady, Mistress Van Kleeck,
(For the tears that o'erwhelm me I scarcely can speak)
I know that I promis'd you hogs two or three
(But who knows his destiny? Certain not me!)
That I promis'd three hogs I don't mean to deny
(I can prove that I had five or six upon sty.)
Three hogs did I say? Three sows I say then
'Pon honour I ne'er had a male upon pen.

Well Madam, the long and the short of the clatter
For mumbling & mincing will not better the matter;
And murder and truth, my dear mammy wd say
By some means or other forever saw day;
And Daddy himself, as we chop'd in the wood,
Would often observe that lying wasn't good.
Tell truth, my sweet fellow, no matter who feels it,
It ne'er can do hurt to the man who reveals it.
But stop! While my Daddy and Mammy's the subject
I am running aside the original object --
The sows, my sweet madam, the sows I repeat,
Which you and your household expected to eat,
Instead of attending their corn and their swill
Gave way to an ugly he-sow's wicked will.
When 'twill end your good ladyship need not be told,
For Nature is still as she hath been of old,
And when he cries YES mortal may not cry NO -
So Madam, farewell, with my holliday bow.

Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004

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