(Advice to the Young)
My children, you should imitate
The harmless, necessary cat,
Who eats whatever’s on his plate,
And doesn’t even leave the fat;
Who never stays in bed too late,
Or does immoral things like that;
Instead of saying “Shan’t! or “Bosh!”
He’ll sit and wash, and wash, and wash!
When shadows fall and lights grow dim
He sits beneath the kitchen stair;
Regardless as to life and limb,
A simple couch he chooses there;
And if you tumble over him,
He simply loves to hear you swear.
And, while bad language you prefer,
He’ll sit and purr, and purr, and purr!
My children, never, never steal!
To know their offspring is a thief
Will often make a father feel
Annoyed and cause a mother grief;
So never steal, but, when you do,
Be sure there’s no one watching you.
Perhaps you have a turn for what
Is known as “misappropriation,”
Attractions this has doubtless got
For persons of a certain station,
But prevalent ’twill never be
Among the aristocracy.
Of course, suppose you want a thing
(The owner’s absent), and you borrow
A ruby ring; you mean to bring
Your friend his trinket back to-morrow.
Meanwhile you have the stones reset,
Lest he forget! Lest he forget!
And if some rude detective’s hand
Should find beneath your cloak a roll
Of muslin, or a cruet-stand
That’s labelled “Hotel Metropole,”
With kindly smile you hand them back,
A harmless Kleptomaniac!
* * * * * *
Don’t tell a lie! Some men I’ve known
Commit the most appalling acts,
Because they happen to be prone
To an economy of facts;
And if to lie is bad, no doubt
‘T is even worse to get found out!
Don’t take the life of any one,
However horrid he may be;
That sort of thing is never done,
Not in the best society,
Where even parricide is thought
A most unfilial kind of sport.
Among the “Upper Ten” to-day,
It is considered want of tact
To slay one’s kith and kin, and may
Be classed as an “unfriendly act.”
Oh, yes, of course I know that this
Is merely public prejudice.
But ever since the world began,
Howe’er well meant his motives are,
The man who slays his fellow man
Is never really popular,
Whether he sins from love of crime,
Or merely just to pass the time.
Graham, Harry (as “Col. D. Streamer”). Ruthless Rhymes for Heartless Homes. New York: R. H. Russell 1901