The Exhibited Dwarf.

I lay without my father’s door,1
A wretched dwarfish boy ;2
I did not dare to lift the latch,—3
I heard the voice of joy :4
Too well I knew when I was near,5
My father never smiled ;6
And she who bore me turn’d away,7
Abhorring her poor child.8
A stranger saw me, and he bribed9
My parents with his gold ;10
Oh ! deeper shame awaited me—11
The dwarfish boy was sold !12
They never loved me, never claim’d13
The love I could have felt ;14
And yet, with bitter tears, I left15
The cottage where they dwelt.16
The stranger seem’d more kind to me,17
He spoke of brighter days ;18
He lured each slumb’ring talent forth,19
And gave unwonted praise ;20
Unused to smiles, how ardently21
I panted for applause !22
And daily he instructed me—23
Too soon I learn’d the cause.24
I stood upon his native shore ;25
The secret was explain’d ;26
I was a vile, degraded slave,27
In mind and body chain’d !28
Condemn’d to face, day after day,29
The rabble’s ruffian gaze ;30
To shrink before their merriment,31
Or blush before their praise !32
In anguish I must still perform33
The oft-repeated task ;34
And courteously reply to all35
Frivolity may ask !36
And bear inhuman scrutiny,37
And hear the hateful jest !38
And sing the song,—then crawl away39
To tears instead of rest !40
I know I am diminutive,41
Aye, loathsome, if you will ;42
But say, ye hard hearts ! am I not43
A human being still ?44
With feelings sensitive as yours,45
Perhaps I have been born ;46
I could not wound a fellow Man47
In mockery, or scorn !48
But some there are who seem to shrink49
Away from me at first,50
And then speak kindly ; to my heart51
That trial is the worst !52
Oh, then I long to kneel to them,53
Imploring them to save54
A bonelece wretch, who only asks55
An honorable grave.56