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A Black Job
by [?]

Money–the root of evil,–dross, and stuff! But oh! how happy ought the rich to feel, Whose means enable them to give enough To blanch an African from head to heel! How blessed–yea, thrice blessed–to subscribe Enough to scour a tribe! While he whose fortune was at best a brittle one, Although he gave but pence, how sweet to know He helped to bleach a Hottentot’s great toe, Or little one!

Moved by this logic, or appall’d, To persons of a certain turn so proper, The money came when call’d, In silver, gold, and copper, Presents from “Friends to blacks,” or foes to whites, “Trifles,” and “offerings,” and “widows’ mites,” Plump legacies, and yearly benefactions, With other gifts And charitable lifts, Printed in lists and quarterly transactions. As thus–Elisha Brettel, An iron kettle. The Dowager Lady Scannel, A piece of flannel. Rebecca Pope, A bar of soap. The Misses Howels, Half-a-dozen towels. The Master Rush’s, Two scrubbing-brushes. Mr. T. Groom, A stable broom, And Mrs. Grubb, A tub.

Great were the sums collected! And great results in consequence expected. But somehow, in the teeth of all endeavor, According to reports At yearly courts, The blacks, confound them! were as black as ever!

Yes! spite of all the water sous’d aloft, Soap, plain and mottled, hard and soft, Soda and pearlash, huckaback and sand, Brooms, brushes, palm of hand, And scourers in the office strong and clever, In spite of all the tubbing, rubbing, scrubbing, The routing and the grubbing, The blacks, confound them! were as black as ever!

In fact in his perennial speech, The Chairman own’d the niggers did not bleach, As he had hoped. From being washed and soaped, A circumstance he named with grief and pity; But still he had the happiness to say, For self and the Committee, By persevering in the present way And scrubbing at the Blacks from day to day, Although he could not promise perfect white, From certain symptoms that had come to light, He hoped in time to get them gray!

Lull’d by this vague assurance, The friends and patrons of the sable tribe Continued to subscribe, And waited, waited on with much endurance– Many a frugal sister, thrifty daughter– Many a stinted widow, pinching mother– With income by the tax made somewhat shorter, Still paid implicitly her crown per quarter, Only to hear as ev’ry year came round, That Mr. Treasurer had spent her pound; And as she loved her sable brother, That Mr. Treasurer must have another!

But, spite of pounds or guineas, Instead of giving any hint Of turning to a neutral tint, The plaguy Negroes and their piccaninnies Were still the color of the bird that caws– Only some very aged souls Showing a little gray upon their polls, Like daws!

However, nothing clashed By such repeated failures, or abashed, The Court still met;–the Chairman and Directors, The Secretary, good at pen and ink, The worthy Treasurer, who kept the chink, And all the cash Collectors; With hundreds of that class, so kindly credulous, Without whose help, no charlatan alive, Or Bubble Company could hope to thrive, Or busy Chevalier, however sedulous– Those good and easy innocents in fact, Who willingly receiving chaff for corn, As pointed out by Butler’s tact, Still find a secret pleasure in the act Of being pluck’d and shorn!

However, in long hundreds there they were, Thronging the hot, and close, and dusty court, To hear once more addresses from the Chair, And regular Report. Alas! concluding in the usual strain, That what with everlasting wear and tear, The scrubbing-brushes hadn’t got a hair– The brooms–mere stumps–would never serve again– The soap was gone, the flannels all in shreds, The towels worn to threads, The tubs and pails too shattered to be mended– And what was added with a deal of pain, But as accounts correctly would explain, Tho’ thirty thousand pounds had been expended– The Blackamoors had still been wash’d in vain!

“In fact, the Negroes were as black as ink, Yet, still as the Committee dared to think, And hoped the proposition was not rash, A rather free expenditure of cash–” But ere the prospect could be made more sunny– Up jump’d a little, lemon-colored man, And with an eager stammer, thus began, In angry earnest, though it sounded funny: “What! More subscriptions! No–no–no,–not I!” “You have had time–time–time enough to try! They WON’T come white! then why–why–why–why, More money?”

“Why!” said the Chairman, with an accent bland, And gentle waving of his dexter hand, “Why must we have more dross, and dirt, and dust, More filthy lucre, in a word, more gold– The why, sir, very easily is told, Because Humanity declares we must! We’ve scrubb’d the negroes till we’ve nearly killed ’em, And finding that we cannot wash them white, But still their nigritude offends the sight, We mean to gild ’em!”