Proem

By James Stanley Gilbert

 

There's no excuse to offer for this book

Save that, perhaps, of one man's vanity;

And that's a thing at which you ought to look

With calm and undisturbed urbanity.

 

A favor, though, the bard would ask of you:

When his conclusions you're disposed to doubt,

Believe that as he wrote he thought 'twas true—

He thought he knew the things he wrote about.

 

He does not, dares not ask for charity,

For that would be requesting overmuch;

He knows the Grace's worth—and rarity:

His works' a freak; just write him down as such!

 

The above was offered as a preface to the 1st Edition, 1901, along with the note:

"PATCHWORK: Something irregularly or clumsily composed—Webster,"

 

and the Dedication:

J.M.H.

To him who strives to find in every man

Some kindly impulse or some noble trait;

Who knows his own and hence doth mildly scan

His brothers' faults, this book I dedicate.

 

and the Explanatory:

To those who have resided on the Isthmus of Panama for any length of time, and especially to those whose associations with the country extend over a period of fifteen or twenty years, no word of explanation as to the occasional seeming disparagement of it as a place of residence in these pages is considered necessary. It is only to those whose stay has not been sufficiently long, or who have lacked the insight to discover the "true inwardness" of the place and the people, that it is thought best to say here that no one more freely and gratefully acknowledges the charm of the former and the unvarying courtesy of the latter than the author of the following rhymes.