Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > America
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX.  1876–79.
 
Western States: Stanislaus, the River, Cal.
The Society upon the Stanislaus
Bret Harte (1836–1902)
 
I RESIDE at Table Mountain, and my name is Truthful James.
I am not up to small deceit, or any sinful games;
And I ’ll tell in simple language what I know about the row
That broke up our society upon the Stanislow.
 
But first I would remark, that it is not a proper plan        5
For any scientific gent to whale his fellow-man,
And, if a member don’t agree with his peculiar whim,
To lay for that same member for to “put a head” on him.
 
Now, nothing could be finer or more beautiful to see
Than the first six months’ proceedings of that same society,        10
Till Brown of Calaveras brought a lot of fossil bones
That he found within a tunnel near the tenement of Jones.
 
Then Brown he read a paper, and he reconstructed there,
From those same bones, an animal that was extremely rare;
And Jones then asked the Chair for a suspension of the rules,        15
Till he could prove that those same bones were one of his lost mules.
 
Then Brown he smiled a bitter smile, and said he was at fault.
It seemed he had been trespassing on Jones’s family vault:
He was a most sarcastic man, this quiet Mr. Brown;
And on several occasions he had cleaned out the town.        20
 
Now, I hold it is not decent for a scientific gent
To say another is an ass,—at least, to all intent:
Nor should the individual who happens to be meant
Reply by heaving rocks at him to any great extent.
 
Then Abner Dean of Angel’s raised a point of order,—when        25
A chunk of old red sandstone took him in the abdomen;
And he smiled a kind of sickly smile, and curled up on the floor,
And the subsequent proceedings interested him no more.
 
For, in less time than I write it, every member did engage
In a warfare with the remnants of a palæozoic age;        30
And the way they heaved those fossils in their anger was a sin,
Till the skull of an old mammoth caved the head of Thompson in.
 
And this is all I have to say of these improper games:
For I live at Table Mountain, and my name is Truthful James;
And I ’ve told in simple language what I know about the row        35
That broke up our society upon the Stanislow.
 
 
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