A Question Of Eligibility by Ambrose Bierce

It was a bruised and battered chap
The victim of some dire mishap,
Who sat upon a rock and spent
His breath in this ungay lament:

“Some wars–I’ve frequent heard of such–
Has beat the everlastin’ Dutch!
But never fight was fit by man
To equal this which has began
In our (I’m in it, if you please)
Academy of Sciences.
For there is various gents belong
To it which go persistent wrong,
And loving the debates’ delight
Calls one another names at sight.
Their disposition, too, accords
With fighting like they all was lords!
Sech impulses should be withstood:
‘Tis scientific to be good.

“‘Twas one of them, one night last week,
Rose up his figure for to speak:
‘Please, Mr. Chair, I’m holding here
A resolution which, I fear,
Some ancient fossils that has bust
Their cases and shook off their dust
To sit as Members here will find
Unpleasant, not to say unkind.’
And then he read it every word,
And silence fell on all which heard.
That resolution, wild and strange,
Proposed a fundamental change,
Which was that idiots no more
Could join us as they had before!

“No sooner was he seated than
The members rose up, to a man.
Each chap was primed with a reply
And tried to snatch the Chairman’s eye.
They stomped and shook their fists in air,
And, O, what words was uttered there!

“The Chair was silent, but at last
He hove up his proportions vast
And stilled them tumults with a look
By which the undauntedest was shook.
He smiled sarcastical and said:
‘If Argus was the Chair, instead
Of me, he’d lack enough of eyes
Each orator to recognize!
And since, denied a hearing, you
Might maybe undertake to do
Each other harm before you cease,
I’ve took some steps to keep the peace:
I’ve ordered out–alas, alas,
That Science e’er to such a pass
Should come!–I’ve ordered out–the gas!’

See also  The Fountain by John Greenleaf Whittier

“O if a tongue or pen of fire
Was mine I could not tell entire
What the ensuin’ actions was.
When swollered up in darkness’ jaws
We fit and fit and fit and fit,
And everything we felt we hit!
We gouged, we scratched and we pulled hair,
And O, what words was uttered there!
And when at last the day dawn came
Three hundred Scientists was lame;
Two hundred others couldn’t stand,
They’d been so careless handled, and
One thousand at the very least
Was spread upon the floor deceased!
‘Twere easy to exaggerate,
But lies is things I mortal hate.

“Such, friends, is the disaster sad
Which has befel the Cal. Acad.
And now the question is of more
Importance than it was before:
Shall vacancies among us be
To idiots threw open free?”

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