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SAM WALTER FOSS.
R. SAM WALTER FOSS, journalist, was born in the little town of Candia, N. H., June 19th, 1858. Through his ancestor, Stephen Bacheller, he claims kinship with Daniel Webster, the poet Whittier and William Pitt Fessenden. He worked on his father's farm till he was fourteen years of age, when the family moved to Portsmouth, N. H. In that place he remained until he was nineteen, attending the high school, from which he was graduated in 1877. A year later he was graduated from Tilton Seminary, Tilton, N. H., and shortly afterwards entered Brown University, taking his degree four years later. In the latter institution he was obliged to work his way, and did it nobly by writing for the press and doing janitor's work. Young Foss had a hard time of it, but showed pluck, and by perseverance his efforts were crowned with marked success. Soon after leaving
the university he embarked in journalism. With another young fellow he bought out the Lynn Union. That paper did not prove a financial success, and his partner withdrew, leaving him to run it alone. It was in Lynn he first took to writing humorous poetry, and here began his reputation as a poet. In 1886 he sold out the Union. The following year he assumed editorial charge of the Yankee Blade of Boston, a position he adequately filled for nearly six years. Since 1886 he became known as a poet by profession, writing for all the humorous papers, Puck, Judge, Life, Tid-Bits, the Detroit Free Press, and many of the more important papers and syndicates. His poems are as well known in Canada, England and Australia as in this country. Mr. Foss published a collection of his poems in 1892, entitled "Back Country Poems." His style is peculiar, and entirely his own. shows strong individuality combined with genius. Generous in thought, charitable in word, he has won for himself the deserved praise of the public.
I. R. W.
THE VOLUNTEER ORGANIST.
THE great big church wuz crowded full uv broadcloth an' uv silk,
An' satins rich as cream thet grows on our ol' brindle's milk;
Shined boots, biled shirts, stiff dickeys, an' stovepipe hats were there,
An' doods 'ith trouserloons so tight they couldn'
kneel in prayer.
The elder, in his poolpit high, said, as he slowly riz:
"Our organist is kep' to hum, laid up 'ith roomatiz,
An' as we hev no substitoot, as brother Moore ain't here,
Will some 'un in the congregation be so kind's to volunteer?"
An' then a red-nosed, drunken tramp, of lowtoned, rowdy style,
Give an interduct'ry hiccup, 'an then staggered up the aisle ;
Then thro' thet holy atmosphere there crep' a sense er sin,
An' thro' thet air er sanctity the odor uv ol' gin.
Then Deacon Purin'ton he yelled, his teeth all sot on edge :
'This man purfanes the house er God! W'y, this is sakerlege!"
The tramp didn' hear a word he said, but slouched 'ith stumblin' feet,
An' sprawled an' staggered up the steps, an' gained the organ seat.
He then went pawrin' thro' the keys, an' soon there riz a strain
Thet seemed to jest bulge out the heart, an' 'lectrify the brain;
An' then he slapped down on the thing 'ith hands 'an head 'an knees,
He slam-dashed his hull body down kerflop upon the keys.
The organ roared, the music flood went sweepin' high an' dry,
It swelled into the rafters, 'an bulged out into the sky,
The ol' church shook an' staggered, an' seemed to reel an' sway,
An' the elder shouted "Glory!" an' I yelled out "Hooray!"
An' then he tried a tender strain thet melted in our ears,
Thet brought up blessed memories an' drenched
'em down 'ith tears;
An' we dreamed uv ol' time kitchens, 'ith Tabby on the mat,
Uv home an' luv an' baby days, an' mother, an' all that!
An' then he struck a streak uv hope-a song from souls forgiven
Thet burst from prison-bars uv sin, an' stormed the gates uv heaven;
"If I can't purtect my farm," sez I, "w'y, then, it's my idee
You'd better shet off callin' this 'the country of the free.'"
There, there! ye hear it toot again an' break the peaceful calm.
I tell ye, you black monster, you've no business on my farm!
An' men ride by in stovepipe hats, an' women loll in silk,
An', lookin' in my barnyard, say, "See thet ol' codger milk!"
Git off my farm, you stuck-up doods, who set in there an' grin,
I own this farm, railroad an' all, an' I will fence it in !
Ding-dong, toot-toot, you black ol' fiend, you'll
find w'en you come back
An' ol' rail fence, without no bars, built straight across the track.
An' then you stuck-up doods inside, you Pullman upper crust,
Will know this codger 'll hold his farm an' let the railroad bust.
You'll find this railroad all fenced in-'twon't do no good to talk
If you want to git to Boston, w'y jest take yer laigs an' walk.
THE AUCTIONEER'S GIFT.
THE auctioneer leaped on a chair, and bold and loud and clear
He poured his cataract of words-just like an auctioneer.
An auction sale of furniture, where some hard mortgagee
Was bound to get his money back, and pay his lawyer's fee.
A humorist of wide renown, this doughty auction
His horse-play raised the loud guffaw, and brought the answering jeer;
He scattered round his jokes, like rain, on the unjust and the just:
Sam Sleeman said he “laffed so much he thought that he would bust."
He knocked down bureaus, beds, and stoves, and chandeliers,
And a grand piano, which he swore would "last a thousand years;"
He rattled out the crockery, and sold the silverware,
At last they passed him up, to sell, a little baby's chair.
"How much? How much? Come, make a bid; is
all your money spent?"
And then a cheap, facetious wag came up and bid,
Just then a sad-faced woman, who stood in silence there,
Broke down, and cried, "My baby's chair! My poor dead baby's chair!"
"Here, madame, take your baby's chair," said the softened auctioneer,
"I know its value all too well-my baby died last year
And if the owner of the chair, our friend the mortgagee,
Objects to this proceeding, let him send the bill to me!"
Gone was the tone of raillery; the humorist auctioneer
Turned shamefaced from his audience to brush away a tear;
The laughing crowd was awed and still, no tearless eye was there
When the weeping woman reached and took her little baby's chair.
I LIVED alone within a mighty city,
'Mid all its throngs, the foolish and the witty, I had no friend or foe.
There were two men, within that mighty city,
One loved me with a love akin to pity,
The lover and the hater dwelt beside me,
So, many months within that mighty city
But him, my foe, for him I felt no pity-
One morning, in the twilight, o'er the city
My friend had passed beyond my love and pity,
Then was I lonely, and the way grew dreary ;
And cherished, with my loneliness aweary,
I sought his grave to whom my heart was mated-
And there I saw the form of him I hated,
And then he told me that, in all the city,
And now we live within the self-same city,
Our love is strong that sprang from human pity,
NATUR', the good old schoolmarm who pities our distress,
She gives her children each year a glad recess; An' ol' gray-headed boys an' girls, they feel their hearts thaw out,
An' life flows on as music'ly as water from a spout.
An' now the Ingin Summer time, 'ith all its rest, is here,
A piece of sweet meat stuck between the slices of the year;
A sorter reign er jubilee 'twixt snow an' thunder showers;
A chunk of sweetness sandwiched in between the frost and flowers.
The Prince of the Power of the Air goes off on his vacation,
The Devil jest holds up a spell an' stops his aggervation;
An' Natur' an' the heart er man, unriled by heat or flood,
They jest lay back an' hol' their breath, an' feel that God is good.
Now w'en we breathe we jest take in great gulps er happines,
We drink the air, like apple juice from Natur''s cider-press;
It jest comes tricklin' down thro' space from Heaven's great vats above,
An' fills our lungs 'ith oxygin, an' slops our souls 'ith love!