The Scurril Press - Poem by Ambrose Bierce
OM JONESMITH _(loquitur)_: I've slept right through
The night-a rather clever thing to do.
How soundly women sleep _(looks at his wife.)
They're all alike. The sweetest thing in life
Is woman when she lies with folded tongue,
Its toil completed and its day-song sung.
(_Thump_) That's the morning paper. What a bore
That it should be delivered at the door.
There ought to be some expeditious way
To get it _to_ one. By this long delay
The fizz gets off the news _(a rap is heard)_.
That's Jane, the housemaid; she's an early bird;
She's brought it to the bedroom door, good soul.
_(Gets up and takes it in.)_ Upon the whole
The system's not so bad a one. What's here?
Gad, if they've not got after-listen dear
_(To sleeping wife)_-young Gastrotheos! Well,
If Freedom shrieked when Kosciusko fell
She'll shriek again-with laughter-seeing how
They treated Gast. with her. Yet I'll allow
'T is right if he goes dining at The Pup
With Mrs. Thing.
WIFE _(briskly, waking up)_:
With her? The hussy! Yes, it serves him right.
JONESMITH (_continuing to 'seek the light'_):
What's this about old Impycu? That's good!
Grip-that's the funny man-says Impy should
Be used as a decoy in shooting tramps.
I knew old Impy when he had the 'stamps'
To buy us all out, and he wasn't then
So bad a chap to have about. Grip's pen
Is just a tickler!-and the world, no doubt,
Is better with it than it was without.
What? thirteen ladies-Jumping Jove! we know
Them nearly all!-who gamble at a low
And very shocking game of cards called 'draw'!
O cracky, how they'll squirm! ha-ha! haw-haw!
Let's see what else (_wife snores_). Well, I'll be blest!
A woman doesn't understand a jest.
Hello! What, what? the scurvy wretch proceeds
To take a fling at _me_, condemn him! (_reads_):
Tom Jonesmith-my name's Thomas, vulgar cad!-_Of
the new Shavings Bank_-the man's gone mad!
That's libelous; I'll have him up for that-_Has
had his corns cut_. Devil take the rat!
What business is 't of his, I'd like to know?
He didn't have to cut them. Gods! what low
And scurril things our papers have become!
You skim their contents and you get but scum.
Here, Mary, (_waking wife_) I've been attacked
In this vile sheet. By Jove, it is a fact!
WIFE (_reading it_): How wicked! Who do you
Suppose 't was wrote it?
JONESMITH: Who? why, who
But Grip, the so-called funny man-he wrote
Me up because I'd not discount his note.
(_Blushes like sunset at the hideous lie-
He'll think of one that's better by and by-
Throws down the paper on the floor, and treads
A lively measure on it-kicks the shreds
And patches all about the room, and still
Performs his jig with unabated will._)
WIFE (_warbling sweetly, like an Elfland horn_):
Dear, do be careful of that second corn.
Noting some great man's composition vile:
A head of wisdom and a heart of guile,
A will to conquer and a soul to dare,
Joined to the manners of a dancing bear,
Fools unaccustomed to the wide survey
Of various Nature's compensating sway,
Untaught to separate the wheat and chaff,
To praise the one and at the other laugh,
Yearn all in vain and impotently seek
Some flawless hero upon whom to wreak
The sycophantic worship of the weak.
Not so the wise, from superstition free,
Who find small pleasure in the bended knee;
Quick to discriminate 'twixt good and bad,
And willing in the king to find the cad-
No reason seen why genius and conceit,
The power to dazzle and the will to cheat,
The love of daring and the love of gin,
Should not dwell, peaceful, in a single skin.
To such, great Stanley, you're a hero still,
Despite your cradling in a tub for swill.
Your peasant manners can't efface the mark
Of light you drew across the Land of Dark.
In you the extremes of character are wed,
To serve the quick and villify the dead.
Hero and clown! O, man of many sides,
The Muse of Truth adores you and derides,
And sheds, impartial, the revealing ray
Upon your head of gold and feet of clay.
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