I Owe No Man A Dollar

Life Magazine 1937

Life Magazine 1937

I Owe no Man a Dollar.

BY THE LATE CHAS. P. SHIRAS

Oh, do not envy, my own dear wife,
The wealth of our next door neighbor,
And bid me still to be stout of heart,
And cheerfully follow my labor;
You must know, the last of those little debts
That have been our lingering sorrow,
Is paid this night! So we’ll both go forth
With happier hearts to-morrow.
Oh, the debtor is but a shame-faced dog,
With the creditors name on his collar.
While I am a king and you are a queen,
For we owe no man a dollar!

Our neighbor you saw in his coach to-day,
With his wife and his flaunting daughter,
While we sat down to our coverless board,
To a crust and a cup of water;
I saw that a tear drop stood in your eye,
Though you tried your best to conceal it —
I knew that the contrast touched your heart,
And you could not help but feel it;
But knowing now that our scanty fare
Has freed thy neck from the collar,
You’ll join my laugh and help me shout
That we owe no man a dollar!

This neighbor whose show has dazzled your eyes,
In fact is a wretched debtor;
I pity him oft from my very heart,
And I wish that his lot were better.
Why, the man is the veriest slave alive;
For his dashing wife and daughter
Will live in style thouge ruin should come —
So he goes like a lamb to the slaughter;
But he feels it the tighter every day,
That terrible debtor’s collar!
Oh, what would he give, could he say with us
That he owed no man a dollar!

You seem amazed, but I’ll tell you more;
Within two hours I met him.
Sneaking away with a frightened air,
As if a fiend had beset him!
Yet he fled from a very worthy man,
Whom I met with the greatest pleasure —
Whom I called by name and forced to stop,
Though he said he was not at leisure,
He held my last note! so I held him fast,
Till he freed my neck from the collar,
Then I shook his hand as I proudly said:
Now, I owe no man a dollar!

Ah now you smile, for you feel the force
Of the truth I have been repeating;
I knew that a downright honest heart
In that gentle breast was breathing!
To morrow I’ll rise with a giant’s strength,
To follow my daily labor;
But e’er we sleep, let us humbly pray
For our wretched next door neighbor;
And we’ll pray for the time when all shall be free
From the weight of the debtor’s collar —
When the poorest shall lift up his voice and cry,
“Now, I owe no man a dollar!”

Fort Wayne Sentinel, The (Fort Wayne, Indiana) Oct 24, 1857

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