A Political Apostate
By Ambrose Bierce
Good friend, it is with deep regret I note
The latest, strangest turning of your coat;
Though any way you wear that mental clout
The seamy side seems always to be out.
Who could have thought that you would e’er sustain
The Southern shotgun’s arbitrary reign!
Your sturdy hand assisting to replace
The broken yoke on a delivered race;
The ballot’s purity no more your care,
With equal privilege to dark and fair.
To Yesterday a traitor, to To-day
You’re constant but the better to betray
To-morrow. Your convictions all are naught
But the wild asses of the world of thought,
Which, flying mindless o’er the barren plain,
Perceive at last they’ve nothing so to gain,
And, turning penitent upon their track,
Economize their strength by flying back.
Ex-champion of Freedom, battle-lunged,
No more, red-handed, or at least red-tongued,
Brandish the javelin which by others thrown
Clove Sambo’s heart to quiver in your own!
Confess no more that when his blood was shed,
And you so sympathetically bled,
The bow that spanned the mutual cascade
Was but the promise of a roaring trade
In offices. Your fingering now the trigger
Shows that you _knew_ your Negro was a n*gger!
_Ad hominem_ this _argumentum_ runs:
Peace!-let us fire another kind of guns.
I grant you, friend, that it is very true
The Blacks are ignorant-and sable, too.
What then? One way of two a fool must vote,
And either way with gentlemen of note
Whose villain feuds the fact attest too well
That pedagogues nor vice nor error quell.
The fiercest controversies ever rage
When Miltons and Salmasii engage.
No project wide attention ever drew
But it disparted all the learned crew.
As through their group the cleaving line’s prolonged
With fiery combatants each field is thronged.
In battle-royal they engage at once
For guidance of the hesitating dunce.
The Titans on the heights contend full soon
On this side Webster and on that Calhoun,
The monstrous conflagration of their fight
Startling the day and splendoring the night!
Both are unconquerable-_one_ is right.
Will’t keep the pigmy, if we make him strong,
From siding with a giant in the wrong?
When Genius strikes for error, who’s afraid
To arm poor Folly with a wooden blade?
O Rabelais, you knew it all!-your good
And honest judge (by men misunderstood)
Knew to be right there was but one device
Less fallible than ignorance-the dice.
The time must come-Heaven expedite the day!
When all mankind shall their decrees obey,
And nations prosper in their peaceful sway.