Uncle Sammy.

A poem by Will Carleton

Some men were born for great things,
Some were born for small;
Some--it is not recorded
Why they were born at all;
But Uncle Sammy was certain he had a legitimate call.

Some were born with a talent,
Some with scrip and land;
Some with a spoon of silver,
And some with a different brand;
But Uncle Sammy came holding an argument in each hand.

Arguments sprouted within him,
And twinked in his little eye;
He lay and calmly debated
When average babies cry,
And seemed to be pondering gravely whether to live or to die.

But prejudiced on that question
He grew from day to day,
And finally he concluded
'Twas better for him to stay;
And so into life's discussion he reasoned and reasoned his way.

Through childhood, through youth, into manhood
Argued and argued he;
And he married a simple maiden,
Though scarcely in love was she;
But he reasoned the matter so clearly she hardly could help but agree.

And though at first she was blooming,
And the new firm started strong,
And though Uncle Sammy loved her,
And tried to help her along,
She faded away in silence, and 'twas evident something was wrong.

Now Uncle Sammy was faithful,
And various remedies tried;
He gave her the doctor's prescriptions,
And plenty of logic beside;
But logic and medicine failed him, and so one day she died.

He laid her away in the church-yard,
So haggard and crushed and wan;
And reared her a costly tombstone
With all of her virtues on;
And ought to have added, "A victim to arguments pro and con."

For many a year Uncle Sammy
Fired away at his logical forte:
Discussion was his occupation,
And altercation his sport;
He argued himself out of churches, he argued himself into court.

But alas for his peace and quiet,
One day, when he went it blind,
And followed his singular fancy,
And slighted his logical mind,
And married a ponderous widow that wasn't of the arguing kind!

Her sentiments all were settled,
Her habits were planted and grown,
Her heart was a starved little creature
That followed a will of her own;
And she raised a high hand with Sammy, and proceeded to play it alone.

Then Sammy he charged down upon her
With all of his strength and his wit,
And many a dextrous encounter,
And many a fair shoulder-hit;
But vain were his blows and his blowing: he never could budge her a bit.

He laid down his premises round her,
He scraped at her with his saws;
He rained great facts upon her,
And read her the marriage laws;
But the harder he tried to convince her, the harder and harder she was.

She brought home all her preachers,
As many as ever she could--
With sentiments terribly settled,
And appetites horribly good--
Who sat with him long at his table, and explained to him where he stood.


And Sammy was not long in learning
To follow the swing of her gown,
And came to be faithful in watching
The phase of her smile and her frown;
And she, with the heel of assertion, soon tramped all his arguments down.

And so, with his life-aspirations
Thus suddenly brought to a check--
And so, with the foot of his victor
Unceasingly pressing his neck--
He wrote on his face, "I'm a victim," and drifted--a logical wreck.

And farmers, whom he had argued
To corners tight and fast,
Would wink at each other and chuckle,
And grin at him as he passed,
As to say, "My ambitious old fellow, your whiffletree's straightened at

Old Uncle Sammy one morning
Lay down on his comfortless bed,
And Death and he had a discussion,
And Death came out ahead;
And the fact that SHE failed to start him was only because he was dead.

The neighbors laid out their old neighbor,
With homely but tenderest art;
And some of the oldest ones faltered,
And tearfully stood apart;
For the crusty old man had often unguardedly shown them his heart.

But on his face an expression
Of quizzical study lay,
As if he were sounding the angel
Who traveled with him that day,
And laying the pipes down slyly for an argument on the way.

And one new-fashioned old lady
Felt called upon to suggest
That the angel might take Uncle Sammy,
And give him a good night's rest,
And then introduce him to Solomon, and tell him to do his best.

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