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James Whitcomb Riley's "The Rossville Lecture Course"

The following is the complete text of James Whitcomb Riley's "The Rossville Lecture Course." Our presentation of this classic poem comes from The Works of James Whitcomb Riley: Vol. I (1899). The various books, short stories and poems we offer are presented free of charge with absolutely no advertising as a public service from Internet Accuracy Project.

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"The Rossville Lecture Course" by James Whitcomb Riley

The Rossville Lecture Course

by James Whitcomb Riley

[Set down from the real facts of the case that come under notice of the author whilse visitun far distunt relatives who wuz then residin' at Rossville, Mich.]

Folks up here at Rossville got up a Lectur' Course:--
All the leadin' citizens they wuz out in force;
Met and talked at Williamses', and 'greed to meet ag'in;
And helt another corkus when the next reports wuz in:
Met ag'in at Samuelses'; and met ag'in at Moore's,
And Johnts put the shutters up and jest barr'd the doors!--
And yit, I'll jest be dagg-don'd! ef't didn't take a week
'Fore we'd settled whare to write to git a man to speak!

Found out whare the "Bureau" wuz, and then and thare agreed
To strike whilse the iron's hot and foller up the lead.--
Simp wuz secatary; so he tuk his pen in hand,
And ast 'em what they'd tax us fer the one on "Holy Land"--
"One of Colonel J. De-Koombs's Abelust and Best
Lectur's," the circ'lar stated, "Give East er West!"
Wanted fifty dollars and his kyar-fare to and from,
And Simp wuz hence instructed fer to write him not to come.

Then we talked and jawed around another week er so,
And writ the "Bureau" 'bout the town a-bein' sorto' slow
Old-fogey-like, and pore as dirt, and lackin' interprise,
And ignornter'n any other, 'cordin' to its size:
Tel finully the "Bureau" said they'd send a cheaper man
Fer forty dollars, who would give "A Talk about Japan"--
"A reg'lar Japanee hiss'f," the pamphlet claimed; and so,
Nobody knowed his languige, and of course we let him go!

Kindo' then let up a spell--but rallied onc't ag'in,
And writ to price a feller on what's called the "violin"--
A Swede, er Pole, er somepin'--but no matter what he wuz,
Doc Cooper said he'd heerd him, and he wuzn't wuth a kuss!
And then we ast fer Swingse's terms; and Cook, and Ingersoll--
And blame! ef forty dollars looked like anything at all!
And then Burdette, we tried fer him; and Bob he writ to say
He wuz busy writin' ortographts and couldn't git away.

At last--along in Aprile--we signed to take this-here
Bill Nye of Californy, 'at wuz posted to appear
"The Comicalest Funny Man 'at Ever Jammed a Hall!"
So we made big preperations, and swep' out the church and all!
And night he wuz to lectur', and the neighbors all wuz thare,
And strangers packed along the aisles 'at come from ev'rywhare,
Committee got a telegrapht the preacher read, 'at run--
"Got off at Rossville, Indiany, 'stid of Michigun."

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