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Page 190



While sitting alone in my easy-chair,
With my feet on my desk, in abandon of care,
My eyes in a dull and dreamy eclipse
By the cloud of a Yara that rolled from my lips,
My thoughts in a whirl, like the whirl of the smoke,
Part sermon, part poem, part satire, part joke,
Now wrought into romance, now framed to a speech,
All things considered, and but little of each,
I heard a great sound like the flapping of wings,
Or the rushing of waters released from their springs,
And said, with a nod, as the sound hastened near,
“Should that be the comet, now, won't it be queer?”
But, I thought to myself, “If it is, let it come;
I 'm exceedingly glad it has found me at home.”
I 'd scarce entertained this complacent suggestion,
And ere I had time to ponder the question,
Down through the roof by invisible door
A bright form descended, and stood on the floor.
“Halloa,” I exclaimed, as I saw the descent,
“You 've come in a hurry, now what 's your intent?”
I looked at him closely — a queer garb he wore,
Yet noble and grand was the mien that he bore.
A three-cornered hat on his powdered hair rested,
A broad-skirted coat his figure invested,
A waistcoat of buff of capacious degree,
And breeches by buckles secured at the knee;
Long stockings he wore, irreproachably white,
And shoes whose paste buckles gleamed in the light.
His face was as bright as a morning in May,
And my room was lit up, as it seemed, by its ray.
He smiled as I spoke, and, touching my arm,
His power enfolded my soul like a charm.
“I 've just dropped in, my friend, as you see,
Abruptly, I own, and may be too free,
But, whether you like it or not, I care nix,
For I am the Spirit of Seventy-Six!
A blustering fellow was I, in my day,
And somewhat disposed to have my own way.
You 've heard of me, surely?” I nodded and smiled,
And ventured: “You 're known to every child.”


Page 191
“Yes,” said the ghost, “for children are true,
And love what is free, and practise it too;
But, when they are older, 't is different then,
And the vim of the boys dies out with the men.” —
“Be careful, old Seven-and-Six!” then I cried,
As my breast bubbled over with patriot pride,
“You are off o' the track — miles out of the way —
To cast such reflection on men of our day.
You just tarry here till the Fourth of July!” —
“O, bosh,” said he, tartly, “that 's all in your eye;
Your Fourth of July is naught but a jest —
A sort of a snap-cracker fizzle, at best; —
Like Sunday devotion, put on for effect,
That Monday's example will show you neglect.
The day comes along, 't is confusion and din,
And feathers and fuss, and fever and sin,
A pebble of fun to a cart-load of `bricks,'
And this is the Spirit of Seventy-Six!
There are noble spirits, though, I will allow,”
He said, as he saw the frown on my brow,
“And present company 's always exempt
From all implications of shame or contempt.
But look at the land; from year's end to end,
What strifes and dissensions on all sides ascend!
No union, no harmony, ever prevails,
And cries of discordance burden the gales.
Here they 'd dissever the bond that I tied,
For whose mighty braid my children have died,
And there they would stab in intestinal strife
The `parient' thought that breathed them to life. —
Uniting in purpose in only one way:
Consume pig and powder on this common day!”
Our party —” I said, in a tone of dislike. —
“Excuse me,” said he, “at no party I strike;
Each pot cannot black the other one call, —
Depend on 't, you 're all of you black enough, all.
The picking of holes in each other's coats
May end at last with knives at your throats.
'T was a watchword of ours, and worthy your ken,
`All for principle — nothing for men;' —
Should you kick to the dogs the political quacks,
And turn upon all false pretenders your backs,


Page 192
Give heed to sound sense, and steer for the right,
Keeping Freedom's old beacon-fire ever in sight,
Still clinging to Union, — its symbol the charm
To strengthen each heart, and nerve every arm,
As it floats in its beauty o'er land and o'er sea,
The flag of a land undivided and free, —
Then would the Fourth be no meaningless thing,
But a yearly returning to Liberty's spring,
And the jubilant feeling with which it is crowned
Be woven in action the whole twelvemonth round!”
Just then, a treacherous fly, I suppose,
Tickled the tip of my sensitive nose,
And, swinging my arm with a motion too rash,
I lost my nice balance, and fell with a crash.
I woke with the jar, and wildly did stare,
But nary a seven-and-sixpence was there!
So plain was the vision, I scarcely could deem
That I 'd been essentially hum'd by a dream.