A Dirge

Protection to home industry 1888
Campaign Poster

Of the Committee Appointed by the People to Invite Mr. Cleveland into a “State of Retiracy.”

Dirge — “Burial of Sir John Moore.

Not a sigh was heard, not a farewell groan,
Though he looked confoundedly flurried;
No patriot’s breast was heard to moan,
As from the White House he was hurried;
He streaked it out darkly at dead of night,
The way with his grapplers feeling,
And he seemed by the Pan Electric light
Like a rogue just caught at sheep stealing.

No useless corset encircled his breast,
Nor in ruffles nor jewels we found him;
Yet he looked like a chap that had feathered his nest
With the people’s earnings around him.
Long and loud were the curses said,
And spoke more in anger than sorrow,
As Grover was out from the White House led
And thrown on the cruel to-morrow.

Startled and wild was his cat-like tread,
As he crawled on, weak as a pillow;
Like a hyena scared from the feast of the dead,
As the red morning breaks o’er the billow.
Lightly they’ll talk of this man who is gone;
O’er promises broken upbraid him;
But little we’ll reck, so they let him sneak on,
To the grave where the willows will shade him.

But half of our grateful task was done,
When the clock tolled the hour so desiring;
And we knew by the boom of a Harrison gun
That the rest of the crew were retiring.
Down slowly and sadly the Bourbons came
To the street from the uppermost story;
In a rail-fence fashion they reeled on home,
And left Tip alone in his glory.


I have been unable to find a tune for “Burial of Sir John Moore.

“Grapplers” are hands.

Commercial electric lighting (using carbon filament bulbs) had been available for about ten year at the time of this song.  Electricity wasn’t installed in the White House until 1891, however (and President Harrison and his wife refused to touch the switches for fear of getting  a shock).  A Pan Electric light was a kind of hanging ceiling lamp.

Willows are traditional mourning trees, often found carved on 19th century tombstones.

The “Bourbons” are the “Bourbon Democrats,” the conservative wing of the party.  The Bourbons supported Cleveland.

“Tip,” is “Tippecanoe,” that is, Harrison.

Tomorrow: Let Fame Put Her Trump

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