no saint—them engineers
Is all pretty much alike—
One wife in Natchez-under-the-Hill
And another one here, in Pike.
A keerless man in his talk was Jim,
And an awkward man in a row—
But he never funked, and he never lied,
I reckon he never knowed how.
And this was all
the religion he had—
To treat his engine well;
Never be passed on the river;
To mind the Pilot’s bell;
And if the Prairie Bell took fire—
A thousand times he swore,
He’d hold her nozzle agin the bank
Till the last soul got ashore.
All boats has
their day on the Mississip,
And her day come at last—
The Movastar was a better boat,
But the Belle she wouldn’t be passed.
And so come tearin’ along that night—
The oldest craft on the line,
With a nigger squat on her safety valve,
And her furnace crammed, rosin and pine.
The fire burst
out as she clared the bar,
And burnt a hole in the night,
And quick as a flash she turned, and made
For the wilier-bank on the right.
There was runnin’ and cursin’, but Jim yelled out
Over all the infernal, roar,
“I’ll hold her nozzle agin the bank
Till the last galoot’s ashore.”
Through the hot,
black breath of the burnin’ boat
Jim Bludso’s voice was heard,
And they all had trust in his cussedness,
And knowed he would keep his word.
And sure’s you’re born, they all got off
Afore the smokestacks fell,—
And Bludso’s ghost went up alone
In the smoke of the Prairie Belle.
no saint—but at jedgment
I’d run my chance with Jim,
’Longside of some pious gentlemen
That wouldn’t shook hands with him.
He’d seen his duty, a dead-sure thing—
And went for it thar and then;
And Christ ain’t a going to fee too hard
On a man that died for men.
BY JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.
whose boast it is that ye
Come of fathers brave and free,
If there breathe on earth a slave,
Are ye truly free and brave?
If ye do not feel the chain,
When it works a brother’s pain,
Are ye not base slaves indeed,—
Slaves unworthy to be freed?
who shall one day bear
Sons to breathe New England air,
If ye hear, without a blush,
Deeds to make the roused blood rush
Like red lava through your veins,
For your sisters now in chains,—
Answer! are ye fit to be
Mothers of the brave and free?