A Reformer. When I was young, my heart elate
With ardent notions warm,
I thirsted to inaugurate
A spirit of reform;
The universe was all awry,
Philosophy despite,
And mundane things disjointed I
Was bound to set aright.

My mind conceived a million plans,
For Hope was brave and strong,
But dared not with unaided hands
Combat a giant wrong;
So with caress I sought to coax
Those who had humored me
In infancy - the dear old folks -
And gain their sympathy.

But quarreling with extant laws
They would have deemed a shame
Who clung to error, just because
Their fathers did the same.
I sought in Pleasure's gilded halls,
Where grace and beauty stirred
At revelry's impetuous calls,
To make my projects heard.

Then turned to stately palaces
Of luxury and ease,
Where wealth's absorbing object was
The master's whim to please;
And spoke of evils unredressed,
Of danger yet to be -
They only answered, like the rest:
"But what is that to me?"

And even pious devotées
Whom sacred walls immure
Condemned me (as by feeble praise) -
What more could I endure?
Down by the stream, so pure and clear
That sunbeams paused to drink,
In loneliness and grief sincere
I pressed its grassy brink.

Thick darkness seemed to veil the day;
Beyond a realm of tears
Utopia's land of promise lay;
And not till later years
I learned this lesson - that to win
Results from labor sure,
"Reformers" always must begin
Among the lowly poor.

For they whose lot privation is
And whose delights are few,
Whose aggregate of miseries
Is want of something new,
The measure of whose happiness
Is but an empty cup,
For every novelty will press
Alert to fill it up.

A Reformer. by Hattie Howard