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From The Wit and Humor of America, edited by Marshall P. Wilder, Volume IV, New York and London: Funk and Wagnalls and Company, 1911; pp. 760-762.




Have you read how Julius Cæsar
     Made a call on Cicero
In his modest Formian villa,
     Many and many a year ago?

“I shall pass your way,” wrote Cæsar,
     “On the Saturnalia, Third,
And I’ll just drop in, my Tullius,
     For a quiet friendly word:

“Don’t make a stranger of me, Marc,
     Nor be at all put out,
A snack of anything you have
     Will serve my need, no doubt.

“I wish to show my confidence —
     The invitation’s mine —
I come to share your simple food,
     And taste your honest wine.”

Up rose M. Tullius Cicero,
     And seized a Roman punch, —
Then mused upon the god-like soul
     Was coming round to lunch

“By Hercules!” he murmured low
     Unto his lordly self,
“There are not many dainties left
     Upon my pantry shelf!

“But what I have shall Julius share.
     What, ho!” he proudly cried,
“Great Cæsar comes this way anon
     To sit my chair beside.

“A dish of lampreys quickly stew,
     And cook them with a turn,
For that’s his favorite pabulum
     From Mamurra I learn.

·        ·        ·        ·        ·        ·        ·        ·

His slaves obey their lord’s command;
     The table soon is laid
For two distinguished gentlemen, —
     One rather bald, ’tis said.

When lo! a messenger appears
     To sound approach — and then,
“Brave Cæsar comes to greet his friend
     With twice a thousand men!

“His cohorts rend the air with shouts;
     That is their dust you see;
The trumpeters announce him near!”
     Said Marcus, “Woe is me!”

“Fly, Cassius, fly! assign a guard!
     Borrow what tents you can!
Encamp his soldiers round the field,
     Or I’m a ruined man!

“Get sheep and oxen by the score!
     Buy corn at any price!
O Jupiter! Befriend me now,
     And give me your advice!”

·        ·        ·        ·        ·        ·        ·        ·

It turned out better than he feared, —
     Things proved enough and good, —
And Cæsar made himself at home,
     And much enjoyed his food.

But Marcus had an awful fright, —
     That can not be denied;
“I’m glad ’tis over!” — when it was —
     The host sat down and sighed,

And when he wrote to Atticus,
     And all the story told,
He ended his epistle thus:
     “J. C. ’s a warrior bold,

“A vastly entertaining man,
     In Learning quite immense,
So full of literary skill,
     And most uncommon sense,

“But, frankly, I should never say
     ‘No trouble, sir, at all;
And when you pass this way again,
     Give us another call!’ ”

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