"The Policeman's Mistake"
Harper's Weekly, July 28, 1860, page 470 (Verse)
Air -- "Last Rose of Summer"

'Twas the last hour of daylight -- 

The twilight had come -- 

When a weary policeman

Was thinking of home;

But he still lingered kindly

On Broadway's wide pave,

For his aid to the ladies

He cheerfully gave.

'Twas the last hour of daylight -- 

Night's shadows drew nigh -- 

When close at his elbow

He heard a soft sigh.

At his side stood a lady,

Young, graceful, and small,

In the tip-top of fashion -- 

Hoops, flounces, and all.

Only one thing displeased him

(Just like all the men!) -- 

A thick vail o'er her bonnet

Was fastened just then.

That her fair face was hidden,

Provoking it was!

But he whispered, "Dear madam,

Are you wishing to cross?"

And she bowed, but was silent,

As round her he threw

His brave arm to protect her,

And tenderly drew

The sweet demoiselle closer

And closer, till they

Had successfully threaded

The maze of Broadway.

When her foot touched the curb-stone

She threw back her vail,

And -- oh! oh! consternation!

Policeman grew pale!

Then out spoke the fair lady,

"Dar, now! lem me go!

Golly! massa perleese, you

Stop a-huggin' me so!"

'Twas a capital tableau,

Rich, racy, and rare!

How he stood, blank -- confounded -- 

His eyes all a-stare,

Thus to find he'd been hugging

A darkey -- oh yes!

How he started and put, then,

I leave you to guess.

Di Vernon 
New Utrecht, Long Island 
Harper's Weekly, July 28, 1860, page 470 (Verse)


See the note on "Study from Nature." Both that cartoon and this poem reveal the racist reaction against a black woman from a white male perspective. The two items may also be considered in the context of the social and legal restrictions on interracial marriage.


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