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Rip Van Winkle, M. D [Medical Poem]
by [?]

One day the Doctor found the bottle full,
And, being thirsty, took a vigorous pull,
Put back the “Elixir” where ‘t was always found,
And had old Dobbin saddled and brought round.
–You know those old-time rhubarb-colored nags
That carried Doctors and their saddle-bags;
Sagacious beasts! they stopped at every place
Where blinds were shut–knew every patient’s case–
Looked up and thought–The baby’s in a fit–
That won’t last long–he’ll soon be through with it;
But shook their heads before the knockered door
Where some old lady told the story o’er
Whose endless stream of tribulation flows
For gastric griefs and peristaltic woes.

What jack-o’-lantern led him from his way,
And where it led him, it were hard to say;
Enough that wandering many a weary mile
Through paths the mountain sheep trod single file,
O’ercome by feelings such as patients know
Who dose too freely with “Elixir Pro.,”
He tumbl–dismounted, slightly in a heap,
And lay, promiscuous, lapped in balmy sleep.

Night followed night, and day succeeded day,
But snoring still the slumbering Doctor lay.
Poor Dobbin, starving, thought upon his stall,
And straggled homeward, saddle-bags and all.
The village people hunted all around,
But Rip was missing,–never could be found.
“Drownded,” they guessed;–for more than half a year
The pouts and eels did taste uncommon queer;
Some said of apple-brandy–other some
Found a strong flavor of New England rum.

Why can’t a fellow hear the fine things said
About a fellow when a fellow’s dead?
The best of doctors–so the press declared–
A public blessing while his life was spared,
True to his country, bounteous to the poor,
In all things temperate, sober, just, and pure;
The best of husbands! echoed Mrs. Van,
And set her cap to catch another man.

So ends this Canto–if it’s quantum suff.,
We’ll just stop here and say we’ve had enough,
And leave poor Rip to sleep for thirty years;
I grind the organ–if you lend your ears
To hear my second Canto, after that
We ‘ll send around the monkey with the hat.


So thirty years had passed–but not a word
In all that time of Rip was ever heard;
The world wagged on–it never does go back–
The widow Van was now the widow Mac—-
France was an Empire–Andrew J. was dead,
And Abraham L. was reigning in his stead.
Four murderous years had passed in savage strife,
Yet still the rebel held his bloody knife.

–At last one morning–who forgets the day
When the black cloud of war dissolved away
The joyous tidings spread o’er land and sea,
Rebellion done for! Grant has captured Lee!
Up every flagstaff sprang the Stars and Stripes–
Out rushed the Extras wild with mammoth types–
Down went the laborer’s hod, the school-boy’s book–
“Hooraw!” he cried, “the rebel army’s took!”
Ah! what a time! the folks all mad with joy
Each fond, pale mother thinking of her boy;
Old gray-haired fathers meeting–“Have–you–heard?”
And then a choke–and not another word;
Sisters all smiling–maidens, not less dear,
In trembling poise between a smile and tear;
Poor Bridget thinking how she ‘ll stuff the plums
In that big cake for Johnny when he comes;
Cripples afoot; rheumatics on the jump;
Old girls so loving they could hug the pump;
Guns going bang! from every fort and ship;
They banged so loud at last they wakened Rip.

I spare the picture, how a man appears
Who’s been asleep a score or two of years;
You all have seen it to perfection done
By Joe Van Wink–I mean Rip Jefferson.
Well, so it was; old Rip at last came back,
Claimed his old wife–the present widow Mac—-
Had his old sign regilded, and began
To practise physic on the same old plan.
Some weeks went by–it was not long to wait–
And “please to call” grew frequent on the slate.
He had, in fact, an ancient, mildewed air,
A long gray beard, a plenteous lack of hair,–
The musty look that always recommends
Your good old Doctor to his ailing friends.
–Talk of your science! after all is said
There’s nothing like a bare and shiny head;
Age lends the graces that are sure to please;
Folks want their Doctors mouldy, like their cheese.