Section 8

BERWICK
Its People and Institutions as I knew them about Sixty Years ago.

D. O. PARKER.

Wednesday, April 21, 1897


THE TRAMP.

A friend in the U. S. writes, "We enjoy intensely your Reminiscences in the REGISTER; and then asks the question as given below. Mr. Brown can hardly be reckoned among the noted patriarchs of Berwick; but to answer the question, I will be pardoned for allowing him as a "tramp" to take his place for a little, among the good people of Berwick.

"Among the noted of the town,
Have you forgotten Granville Brown;
To us the first among the scamps,
Who now are designated tramps?

A scene within your house of yore,
I now recall from Memory’s store; -
His profile drawn in lines of white,
On chimney side by candle light,"

ANSWER.

O yes, I do remember Granville Brown,
The negro scamp and tramp of great renown;
From yonder wooded mount he oft came down.

And many wondrous things of him are told,
Of what he did that made the people scold,
Here in these simple quiet days of old.

One day when on his tramping journey hence
He spied a neighbor’s garment on the fence,
And made it his by honest trade pretense.

O yase, nice garment, all lone just now I see
Come now, new nice coat, how you swaps with me?
Yase, - silence gives consent, - grand fits it be.

Once in my mother’s kitchen lodging here,
Close from the tidy pantry in the rear,
He made her apple pies to disappear.

And when the charge was made he stole the pies,
Like balls of snow he rolled his honest eyes,
And simply told the truth without disguise.

"I dare you touch me "said dem apple pie"
I show’d dis nigger was no coward, not I,
Dey dared me here, of couse I made dem fly."

A scene of discipline I now recall,
When Granville got an awful Sabbath fall,
And outward went a sprawling by the wall.

He’d filled himself with all that he could eat
And lordly sat upon his kitchen seat,
And like a saint the scripture did repeat.

The deacon said, "Now Granville you must go,
And help the boys your gratitude to show;
For surely this is right as you must know."

No, Massa Deacon Parker, not a bit!
You knows just what is in the scripture rit,
Dat Sunday working God does not permit."

And then as quick as said poor Granville found
Himself outside the door upon the ground;
But all his nimble limbs were safe and sound.

For many weeks then Granville stayed abroad,
Nor would forget the deacon’s chastening rod,
And how he broke the laws of man and God.

But time wore on and hungry Granville came,
Demure to loaf and sleep and eat the same,
As when he praised the deacon’s pious name.

With all his faults of painted skin and birth
Poor Granville was a man of native worth,
And might have been a Christian prince on earth.

Had he been rocked in softer christian cot,
And education been his favored lot,
With moulding sculpture on his manhood wrought.

NOTES: - There are those in Berwick who can tell more of this notorious tramp than I can. He lived in his hut on the South Mountain and had quite a large tract of land but was too indolent to work it. In appearance he was the very personification of grotesque ugliness. If a traveler came in contact with a pair of huge black lips he might conclude a pair of big feet were not far in the rear. The profile mentioned above was drawn with chalk from his shadow. If I were an artist and had to paint a picture embodying my ideas of his satanic majesty, my ideal would be fully realized in the over developed evolution of this "genius homo." The hospitable homes of the Deacon and parson Chipman were the favorite resorts. One night he knocked at the Parson’s door, when a young woman who had never seen him opened the door and was struck with consternation when with both arms extended she exclaimed, "No wonder I am frightened." I do not know whether he could read or not, but he could quote scripture adinfinitum and in cunning shrewdness stood at the head of his class. The Deacon, phrenologically speaking, had a large development of the organs of the fitness and propriety of things and in the due exercise of these organs sometimes found it prudent to lay aside for a little the graces of his office to discharge the proper functions of weak human nature. And now when more than a half century has passed, the memory of the ludicrous scene of poor Granville sprawling down the back doorsteps, turning up the white of his eyes, and discharging an artillery of scripture against the Deacon, involuntarily provokes a smile.


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