Francis Bret Harte

(25 August 1836 - 6 May 1902 / Albany, New York)

Truthful James To The Editor - Poem by Francis Bret Harte

(YREKA, 1873)

Which it is not my style
To produce needless pain
By statements that rile
Or that go 'gin the grain,
But here's Captain Jack still a-livin', and Nye has no skelp on his

On that Caucasian head
There is no crown of hair;
It has gone, it has fled!
And Echo sez 'Where?'
And I asks, 'Is this Nation a White Man's, and is generally things
on the square?'

She was known in the camp
As 'Nye's other squaw,'
And folks of that stamp
Hez no rights in the law,
But is treacherous, sinful, and slimy, as Nye might hev well known

But she said that she knew
Where the Injins was hid,
And the statement was true,
For it seemed that she did,
Since she led William where he was covered by seventeen Modocs, and--

Then they reached for his hair;
But Nye sez, 'By the law
Of nations, forbear!
I surrenders--no more:
And I looks to be treated,--you hear me?--as a pris'ner, a pris'ner
of war!'

But Captain Jack rose
And he sez, 'It's too thin!
Such statements as those
It's too late to begin.
There's a MODOC INDICTMENT agin you, O Paleface, and you're goin' in!

'You stole Schonchin's squaw
In the year sixty-two;
It was in sixty-four
That Long Jack you went through,
And you burned Nasty Jim's rancheria, and his wives and his papooses

'This gun in my hand
Was sold me by you
'Gainst the law of the land,
And I grieves it is true!'
And he buried his face in his blanket and wept as he hid it from view.

But you're tried and condemned,
And skelping's your doom,'
And he paused and he hemmed--
But why this resume?
He was skelped 'gainst the custom of nations, and cut off like a rose
in its bloom.

So I asks without guile,
And I trusts not in vain,
If this is the style
That is going to obtain--
If here's Captain Jack still a-livin', and Nye with no skelp on his

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, September 21, 2010

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