Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
The Constitution—1787
“For fools admire, but men of sense believe.”—Pope.

SINCE Constitution is the word
  By men so often used,
And all its meaning made absurd,
  By knaves and fools abused—
Pray, gentle reader, mark my scheme—        5
  Imprimis, I must show
What Constitutions a’n’t my theme,
  Then, item, let you know.
’Tis not the Constitution, nice,
  Which metaphysics teach,        10
Of minds composed of good and vice,
  And strange effects of each—
’Tis not the body’s wondrous mould,
  Descried in every view:
Nor Constitution now call’d old        15
  I mean the one that’s new.
A plan to govern thirteen states
  Was erst imperfect found;
But politicians made debates,
  To constitute it sound.        20
These same debates, perused by most,
  Are hated or embraced—
Or damn’d, (O, shocking!) or the boast
  Of all your men of taste.
The man, whose looks bespeaks him wise,        25
  Protests they are not good:
Though not a sentence meets his eyes
  That well is understood.
With shrug important, and a face 1
  Denoting thought profound,        30
He opes the snuff-box, then the case,
  While newsmongers surround.
“Pray, sir, the Constitution—ha!
  D’ye think ’twill stand the test?
Our new-form’d government, I say,        35
  Methinks ’tis not the best.
“The house of—pshaw!—’tis not the thing:
  Its power will be too great:
The President will be a king:
  Besides, ’tis intricate.”        40
“How, sir! not good! beware, I pray,
  To hold the worst of creeds,
Lest you be deem’d, as well you may,
  A foe to federal deeds—
“The scheme you must again review,        45
  Permit me to remark;
For, sir, the Constitution’s new,
  And, therefore, sir, is dark.”
To little critics dark it is:
  Its faults or excellence        50
Not seen by the sagacious phiz
  Of would-be men of sense.
In vulgar verse permit a bard
  His sentiment to tell:
(And Cato must not think it hard,)        55
  He likes the system well.
And if some principle be there
  That’s opposite to mine,
How wise the plan! I still declare—
  What judgment in each line!        60
What, if my feeble thought can’t soar
  Its highest good to find—
Is not a whole convention more
  Than one imperfect mind.
Yes! patriots, by experience taught,        65
  (Their country’s guardian guides,)
Concert a plan, with wisdom fraught,
  And Washington presides!
Since he has led the virtuous band,
  They sure have counseled best—        70
O, prosper! Heaven! our parent land,
  And make her people blest.
Note 1.
  With eager eyes, and round, unthinking face,
He first the snuff-box open’d—then the case.

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