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1865 Washington, D.C. Celebration by the Colored People's Educational Monument Association in Memory of Abraham Lincoln


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Current Saved Transcription [history]


As poor Othello, jealous of his wife,

Loving, yet goaded on to take her life,

Steals in, his hand upon his dagger’s handle—

But finds himself unable while the candle

Its beautifying beams upon her throws,

Showing such loveliness in such repose,

Steps back, o’erpowered, as with most other men—

And, shaking, says, “Put out the light,” and then—

“I cannot kill her when I see my mark;

But I can do it if the room is dark!”

So it is with all servants of the devil:

They shun the light because their deeds are evil.

‘Twas thus with Booth. The murderer came by night,

Skulked up unseen, though all around was light,

And, when the deed was done—the warm blood spilt—

Plunged into darkness, friendly to his guilt.

Thus hath it been since man first slew his brother:

Darkness and wrong have courted one another.

The courtship ends in wedlock; thus begins

The large and fertile family of sins.

The lazy loafer, when nought else is left,

Must “stay his stomach upon fraud or theft;”

The swindler will, of course, the fraud deny;

And every theft is pregnant with a lie;

Then lie kills lie whene’er they meet abroad

And fraud expires, stabbed by a sharper fraud.

The burglar cuts his brother burglar’s throat,

And picks his pocket of a spurious note,

Which he palms off to pay a gambling bet,

Or bilks his butcher of an honest debt.

To such expedients knaves resort, to shirk

God’s first commandment— “Thou, to live, must work.”

Thanks for God’s word to Adam when He said,

“Thou with a sweating face, shalt eat thy bread.”

Many there are who deem this word a curse,

Thinking, than labor there is nothing worse,

A blessed curse, if curse we can it call,

That in this sentence, followed “Adam’s fall.”

Yet man, short-sighted man, has madly striven

To avert this blessing of benignant Heaven.

Has sought the pleasures and the power of wealth,

By crafty artifice, by fraud, or stealth,

To get his bread by some ingenious plan,

Or by the sweating face of some more honest man.

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