Only Sixteen, the Watchword

"When last seen, he was considerably intoxicated.... and was found dead in the highway."—Republican and Democrat of May 17.

ONLY sixteen, so the papers say,

Yet there on the cold, stony ground he lay;

'Tis the same sad story we hear every day—

He came to his death in the public highway.

Full of promise, talent, and pride,

Yet the rum fiend conquered him; so he died.

Did not the angels weep over the scene?

For he died a drunkard—and only sixteen,

Only sixteen.

Oh! it were sad he must die all alone:

That of all his friends, not even one

Was there to list to his last faint moan,

Or point the suffering soul to the throne

Of grace. If, perchance, God's only Son

Would say, "Whosoever will may come."

But we hasten to draw a veil over the scene,

With his God we leave him—only sixteen.

Only sixteen.

Rumseller, come view the work you have wrought:

Witness the suffering and pain you have brought

To the poor boy's friends. They loved him well,

And yet you dared the vile beverage to sell

That beclouded his brain, his reason dethroned,

And left him to die out there all alone.


What if 'twere your son instead of another?

What if your wife were that poor boy's mother,

And he only sixteen?

Ye free-holders who signed the petition to grant

The license to sell, do you think you will want

That record to meet in the last great day,

When the earth and the heavens shall have passed away,

When the elements, melted with fervent heat,

Shall proclaim the triumph of Right complete?

Will you wish to have his blood on your hands

When before the great throne you each shall stand,

And he only sixteen?

Christian men! rouse ye to stand for the right,

To action and duty; into the light

Come with your banners, inscribed "Death to rum."

Let your conscience speak. Listen, then, come;

Strike killing blows; hew to the line;

Make it a felony even to sign

A petition to license; you would do it, I ween,

If that were your son, and "only sixteen,"

Only sixteen.

The Watchword.