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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Western States: Stanislaus, the River, Cal.

The Society upon the Stanislaus

By Bret Harte (1836–1902)

I RESIDE at Table Mountain, and my name is Truthful James.

I am not up to small deceit, or any sinful games;

And I ’ll tell in simple language what I know about the row

That broke up our society upon the Stanislow.

But first I would remark, that it is not a proper plan

For any scientific gent to whale his fellow-man,

And, if a member don’t agree with his peculiar whim,

To lay for that same member for to “put a head” on him.

Now, nothing could be finer or more beautiful to see

Than the first six months’ proceedings of that same society,

Till Brown of Calaveras brought a lot of fossil bones

That he found within a tunnel near the tenement of Jones.

Then Brown he read a paper, and he reconstructed there,

From those same bones, an animal that was extremely rare;

And Jones then asked the Chair for a suspension of the rules,

Till he could prove that those same bones were one of his lost mules.

Then Brown he smiled a bitter smile, and said he was at fault.

It seemed he had been trespassing on Jones’s family vault:

He was a most sarcastic man, this quiet Mr. Brown;

And on several occasions he had cleaned out the town.

Now, I hold it is not decent for a scientific gent

To say another is an ass,—at least, to all intent:

Nor should the individual who happens to be meant

Reply by heaving rocks at him to any great extent.

Then Abner Dean of Angel’s raised a point of order,—when

A chunk of old red sandstone took him in the abdomen;

And he smiled a kind of sickly smile, and curled up on the floor,

And the subsequent proceedings interested him no more.

For, in less time than I write it, every member did engage

In a warfare with the remnants of a palæozoic age;

And the way they heaved those fossils in their anger was a sin,

Till the skull of an old mammoth caved the head of Thompson in.

And this is all I have to say of these improper games:

For I live at Table Mountain, and my name is Truthful James;

And I ’ve told in simple language what I know about the row

That broke up our society upon the Stanislow.