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WHEN the tidal wave of spelling
Swept upon the Western shores,
Webbie Worcester then was dwelling
At the Jones's, doing chores.
He was a poor little nigger,
But he sought for learning's light,
And he knew a "bit to figger,"
In a fashion, how to write.
Little Webbie came from Georgia,
From the little town of Cragga.
When his master left (a Borgia),
Down there came a carpet-bagger,
Jones by name, with good intentions,
And ambitious, more or less,
Of selling off his last inventions,
And appearing in Congress.
But the scarcity of shekels
Proved that trading was no fun,
And poor Jones, tattooed with freckles
By the scorching Southern sun,
Bravely read the Nation daily,
Till, quite versed in politics,
Dreaming of "corruption," gayly
Rode one morning up to Licks'.
"Licks'" was an old-fashioned inn,
Where the men of pure devotion
Drank "America" in gin,
Rum, and many another potion.
Licks controlled the colored section,
And Jones departed in high glee,
Expecting victory at election,
And better still to be M. C.
Shall we tell how prowling bands
Filled the country, armed with stories,
Bearing placards in their hands,
"Death, or vote for Hiram Jones!"
At seven-ten the vote "corrected"
Through all the land like lightning flew, -
"Election quiet here, - elected
Jones, Republican, by two!"
In parting at the Cragga station,
Jones made a speech, in which he "hoped
To carry North for education
Some youth who yet in darkness groped."
Alas for Jones! A sable heart
Was filled with hope, and in its joy,
Just as the train began to start,
Shoved in the door a snivelling boy.
Nonplussed was Jones; the tiny thing
Climbed in his lap and kissed his face.
It muchly loved to wildly sing
And howl, to Jones's sad disgrace.
He took him North, put him to school,
And, being slightly literary,
Gave him, in parting, this one rule,
"Web Worcester, stick to the dictionary."
And Webbie studied night and day,
Page after page he read and read,
And every visitor would say,
"Who is the boy with monstrous head?"
And when he met their eager looks,
The little boy would loudly cry,
"Dey name me, from my studie books,
Sam Johnson Webster Worcester, hey!"
Now when the sun rose in the west, -
The sun of spelling I should add -
Jones, thinking it all for the best,
Had sent this young precocious lad
To work upon his father's farm
(For at the school too much he ate),
A rural life would steel his arm;
And so he sent the young brunette.
A spelling-match in this same town
Took place upon a Friday night,
And Webbie won a high renown,
And "waggled" sore each valiant white;
Imported to a neighboring city,
Won dictionaries by the score,
Astonished each austere committee,
And spelled as ne'er boy spelled before.
The rage is past, - no other feller
Could beat this little W. W.
At length he was the champion speller,
And always sure to quickly double you.
But one dark day he got a cold,
And worse it grew; at last he felt
His little life was nearly told,
His little life was nearly spelled.
Peace to his soul, - an ebon soul,
But better than a soul quite plain.
Ten thousand years may slowly roll
But ne'er will Webbie come again.
Platonic souls may change each May,
But gone is now the spelling nigger.
He knew enough, traditions say,
And even could a little "figger."
For eight long years he never missed,
This little scion of old Burmah;
But now his like is ever missed, -
So let him R. I. P. sempiterna.
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