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SAM WALTER FOSS.
THE VOLUNTEER ORGANIST.
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. It 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 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;