‘Twas grav’d on the Stone of Destiny,
In letters four, and letters three;
And ne’er did the King of the Gulls go by
But those awful letters scar’d his eye;
For he knew that a Prophet Voice had said
“As long as those words by man were read,
The ancient race of the Gulls should ne’er
One hour of peace or plenty share.”
But years and years successive flew
And the letters still more legible grew,
At top, a T, an H, an E,
And underneath, D. E. B. T.
Some thought them Hebrew, such as Jews,
More skill’d in Scrip than Scripture use;
While some surmis’d ’twas an ancient way
Of keeping accounts, (well known in the day
Of the fam’d Didlerius Jeremias,
Who had thereto a wonderful bias,)
And prov’d in books most learnedly boring,
‘Twas called the Pontick way of scoring.
Howe’er this be, there never were yet
Seven letters of the alphabet,
That, ‘twixt them form’d so grim a spell,
Or scar’d a Land of Gulls so well,
As did this awful riddle-me-ree
Of T. H. E. D. E. B. T.
Hark! – it is struggling Freedom’s cry;
“Help, help, ye nations, or I die;
‘Tis freedom’s fight, and on the field
Where I expire, your doom is seal’d.”
The Gull-King hears the awakening call,
He hath summon’d his Peers and Patriots all,
And he asks, “Ye noble Gulls, shall we
Stand basely by at the fall of the Free,
Nor utter a curse, nor deal a blow?”
And they answer, with voice of thunder, “No.”
Out fly their flashing swords in the air! –
But, why do they rest suspended there?
What sudden blight, what baleful charm,
Hath chill’d each eye and check’d each arm?
Alas! some withering hand hath thrown
The veil from off that fatal stone,
And pointing now, with sapless finger,
Showeth where dark those letters linger,
Letters four, and letters three,
T. H. E. D. E. B. T.
At sight thereof, each lifted brand
Powerless falls from every hand;
In vain the Patriot knits his brow,
Even talk, his staple, fails him now.
In vain the King like a hero treads,
His Lords of the Treasury shake their heads;
And to all his talk of “brave and free”,
No answer getteth His Majesty
But “T. H. E. D. E. B. T.”
In short, the whole Gull nation feels
The’re fairly spell-bound, neck and heels;
And so, in the face of the laughing world,
Must e’en sit down, with banners furled,
Adjourning all their dreams sublime
Of glory and war to some other time.