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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Harlan Hoge Ballard (1853–1934)

In the Catacombs

SAM BROWN was a fellow from ’way down East,

Who never was “staggered” in the least.

No tale of marvelous beast or bird

Could match the stories he had heard;

No curious place or wondrous view

“Was ekil to Podunk, I tell yu.”

If they told him of Italy’s sunny clime,

“Maine kin beat it, every time!”

If they marveled at Ætna’s fount of fire,

They roused his ire:

With an injured air

He’d reply, “I swear

I don’t think much of a smokin’ hill;

We’ve got a moderate little rill

Kin make yer old volcaner still;

Jes’ pour old Kennebec down the crater,

’N’ I guess it’ll cool her fiery nater!”

They showed him a room where a queen had slept;

“’Twa’n’t up to the tavern daddy kept.”

They showed him Lucerne; but he had drunk

From the beautiful Molechunkamunk.

They took him at last to ancient Rome,

And inveigled him into a catacomb:

Here they plied him with drafts of wine,

Though he vowed old cider was twice as fine,

Till the fumes of Falernian filled his head,

And he slept as sound as the silent dead;

They removed a mummy to make him room,

And laid him at length in the rocky tomb.

They piled old skeletons round the stone,

Set a “dip” in a candlestick of bone,

And left him to slumber there alone;

Then watched from a distance the taper’s gleam,

Waiting to jeer at his frightened scream,

When he should wake from his drunken dream.

After a time the Yankee woke,

But instantly saw through the flimsy joke;

So never a cry or shout he uttered,

But solemnly rose, and slowly muttered:

“I see how it is. It’s the judgment day;

We’ve all been dead and stowed away;

All these stone furreners sleepin’ yet,

An’ I’m the fust one up, you bet!

Can’t none o’ you Romans start, I wonder?

United States ahead, by thunder!”