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WILL. M. CARLETON.
VER the hill to the poor-house I'm
trudgin' my weary way— I, a woman of seventy, and only a
trifle gray— I, who am smart an' chipper, for all
the years I've told, As many another woman, that's only
half as old.
Over the hill to the poor-house—I can't make
it quite clear! Over the hill to the poor-house—it seems so
horrid queer! Many a step I've taken a-toilin' to and fro, But this is a sort of journey I never thought
What is the use of heapin' on me a pauper's
shame? Am I lazy or crazy? am I blind or lame? True, I am not so supple, nor yet so awful
But charity ain't no favor, if one can live without.
I am willin' and anxious an' ready any day, To work for a decent livm', an' pay my
honest way; For I can oarn my victuals, an' more too, I'll
be bound, I If any body only is willin' to have me round.
Onco I was young and han'some—I was
upon my soul— Once my cheeks was roses, my eyes as black
as coal; And I can't remember, in them days, of
hearin' people say. For any kind of reason, that I was in their
'Taint no use of boastin', or talkin' over
free, But many a house an' home was open then to
And so We worked together: and life was
hard but gay, With now and then a baby, for to cheer us
on our way; Till we had half a dozen, an' all growed
clean an' neat, An went to school like others, an' had
enough to eat.
So we worked for the childr'n, and raised
'em every one; Worked for 'em summer and winter, just as
we ought to 've done; Only perhaps we humored 'em, which some
good folks condemn, But every couple's child'rn's a heap the best
Strange how much we think of our blessed
little ones ?— I'd have died for my daughters, I'd have
died for my sons; And God he made that rule of love; but
when we're old and gray, I've noticed it sometimes somehow fails to
work the other way.
Strange, another thing: when our boys an' girls was grown,
Till at last he went a courtin', and brought a wife from town.
She was somewhat dressy, an' hadn't a pleasant smile—
She was quite conceity, and carried a heap o' style;
But if ever I tried to be friends, I did with her, I know;
But she was hard and proud, an' I couldn't make it go.
She had an edication, an' that was good for her;
But when she twitted me on mine 'twas carryin' things too fur;
An' I told her once 'fore company (an it almost made her sick),
That I never swallowed a grammar, or 'et a 'rithmatic.
So 'twas only a few days before the thing
was done— They was a family of themselves, and I
another one; And a very little cottage for one family will
do, But I have never seen a house that was big
enough for two.
An' I never could speak to suit her, never
could please her eye, An it made me independent, an' then I
didn't try; But I was terribly staggered, an' felt it like
a blow, When Charlie turned ag'in me, an' told me I
T. went to live with Susan, but Susan's house
was small, And she was always a-hintin' how snug it
was for us all; And what with her husband's sisters, and
what with her childr'n three, 'Twas easy to discover that there wasn't
room for me.
An' then I went to Thomas, the oldest son
I've got, For Thomas' buildings'd cover the half of an
acre lot; But all the childr'n was on me—I couldn't
stand their sauce— And Thomas said I needn't think I was
comin' there to boss.
An' then, I wrote to Rebecca,—my girl who
lives out West, And to Isaac, not far from her—some twenty
miles at best; An' one of 'em said 'twas too warm there,
for any one so old, And t'other had an opinion the climate was
So they have shirked and slighted me, an'
shifted me about— So they have well nigh soured me, an' worn
my old heart out; But still I've bojp up pretty well, an' wasn't
much put down, Till Charlie went to the poor-master, an' put
me on the town.
Over the hill to the poor-house—my childr'n
dear, good-bye! Many a night I've watched you when only
God was nigh; And God'll judge between us; but I will
al'ays pray That you Bhall never suffer the half I do
fcVER the hills to the poor-house sad paths have been made to-day, For sorrow is near, such as maketh the heads of the young turn
i Causing the heart of the careless to I throb with a fevered breath—
The sorrow that leads to the chamber whose light has gone out in death,
To Susan, Rebecca and Isaac, to Thomas and
Charley, word sped That mother was ill and fast failing, perhaps
when they heard might be dead; But e'en while they wrote she was praying
that some of her children might come,
To hear from her lips their last blessing before she should start for her home
To Susan, poor Susan! how bitter the agony
brought by the call, For deep in her heart for her mother wide
rooms had been left after all; And now, that she thought, by her fireside
one place had been vacant for years,— And while "o'er the hills " she was speeding
her path might be traced by her tears.
Rebecca! she heard not the tidings, but thos*
who bent over her knew That led by the Angel of Death, near th«
waves of tho river she drew;
Delirious, ever she told them her mother was cooling her head,
While, weeping, they thought that ere morning both mother and child might be dead,
And, kneeling beside her, stern Isaac was
quiv'ring in aspen-like grief, While waves of sad mem'ry surged o'er him
like billows of wind o er the leaf; "Too late," were the words that had humbled
his cold, haughty pride to the dust, And Peace, with her olive-boughs laden, crowned loving forgiveness with trust.
Bowed over his letters and papers, sat
Thomas, his brow lined by thought, But little he heeded the markets or news of
his gains that they brought; His lips grew as pale as his cheek, but new
purpose seemed born in his eye, And Thomas went "over the hills." to the
mother that shortly must die.
To Charley, her youngest, her pride, came the
mother's message that morn, And he was away "o'er the hills" ere the
sunlight blushed over the corn j And, strangest of all, by his side, was the
wife he had " brought from the town," And silently wept, while her tears strung
with diamonds her plain mourning
For each had been thinking, of late, how
they missed the old mother's sweet
smile, And wond'ring how they could have been so
blind and unjust all that while; They thought of their harsh, cruel words,
and longed to atone for the past,
When swift o'er the heart of vain dreams swept the presence of death's chilling
So into the chamber of death, one by one,
these sad children had crept. As they, in their childhood, had done, when
mother was tired and slept,— And peace, rich as then, came to each, as
they drank in her blessing, so deep, That, breathing into her life, she fell back in
her last blessed sleep.
And when "o'er the hills from the poorhouse,'' that mother is tenderly borne.
The life of her life, her loved children, tread softly, and silently mourn.
For theirs is no rivulet sorrow, but deep as the ocean is deep,
And into our lives, with sweet healing, the balm of their bruising may creep
For swift come the flashings of temper, and
torrents of words come as swift. Till out 'mong the tide-waves of anger, how
often we thoughtlessly drift! And heads that are gray with life's ashes.
and feet that walk down 'mong the
dead, We send " o'er the hills to the poor-house"
for love, and, it may be, for bread.
Oh! when shall we value the living while
yet the keen sickle is stayed, Nor slight the wild flower in its blooming,
till all its sweet life is decayed? Yet often the fragrance is richest, when
poured from the bruised blossom's soul And "over the hills from the poor-house'
the rarest of melodies roll.
5T was autumn. Hundreds had wended their way from pilgrimages; from Rome and its treasures of dead art, and its glory of living nature; from the sides of the Switzer's mountains, and from the capitals of various nations,—all of them saying in their hearts, we will wait for the September gales to have done with their equinoctial fury, and then we will embark; we will slide across the appeased