Part 11 out of 21
It's justifyin' Ham to spare a nigger when he's stuffy.
Where'd their soles go tu, like to know, ef we should let 'em ketch
Freeknowledgism an' Fourierism an' Speritoolism an' sech? 60
When Satan sets himself to work to raise his very bes' muss,
He scatters roun' onscriptur'l views relatin' to Ones'mus.
You'd ough' to seen, though, how his facs an' argymunce an' figgers
Drawed tears o' real conviction from a lot o' pen'tent niggers!
It warn't like Wilbur's meetin', where you're shet up in a pew,
Your dickeys sorrin' off your ears, an' bilin' to be thru;
Ther' wuz a tent clost by thet hed a kag o' sunthin' in it,
Where you could go, ef you wuz dry, an' damp ye in a minute;
An' ef you did dror off a spell, ther' wuzn't no occasion
To lose the thread, because, ye see, he bellered like all Bashan. 70
It's dry work follerin' argymunce an' so, 'twix' this an' thet,
I felt conviction weighin' down somehow inside my hat;
It growed an' growed like Jonah's gourd, a kin' o' whirlin' ketched me,
Ontil I fin'lly clean gin out an' owned up thet he'd fetched me;
An' when nine tenths o' th' perrish took to tumblin' roun' an' hollerin',
I didn' fin' no gret in th' way o' turnin' tu an' follerin'.
Soon ez Miss S. see thet, sez she, '_Thet_'s wut I call wuth seein'!
_Thet_'s actin' like a reas'nable an' intellectle bein'!'
An' so we fin'lly made it up, concluded to hitch hosses,
An' here I be 'n my ellermunt among creation's bosses; 80
Arter I'd drawed sech heaps o' blanks, Fortin at last hez sent a prize,
An' chose me for a shinin' light o' missionary entaprise.
This leads me to another pint on which I've changed my plan
O' thinkin' so's't I might become a straight-out Southun man.
Miss S. (her maiden name wuz Higgs, o' the fus' fem'ly here)
On her Ma's side's all Juggernot, on Pa's all Cavileer,
An' sence I've merried into her an' stept into her shoes,
It ain't more 'n nateral thet I should modderfy my views:
I've ben a-readin' in Debow ontil I've fairly gut
So 'nlightened thet I'd full ez lives ha' ben a Dook ez nut; 90
An' when we've laid ye all out stiff, an' Jeff hez gut his crown,
An' comes to pick his nobles out, _wun't_ this child be in town!
We'll hev an Age o' Chivverlry surpassin' Mister Burke's,
Where every fem'ly is fus'-best an' nary white man works:
Our system's sech, the thing'll root ez easy ez a tater;
For while your lords in furrin parts ain't noways marked by natur',
Nor sot apart from ornery folks in featurs nor in figgers,
Ef ourn'll keep their faces washed, you'll know 'em from their niggers.
Ain't _sech_ things wuth secedin' for, an' gittin' red o' you
Thet waller in your low idees, an' will tell all is blue? 100
Fact is, we _air_ a diff'rent race, an' I, for one, don't see,
Sech havin' ollers ben the case, how w'ever _did_ agree.
It's sunthin' thet you lab'rin'-folks up North hed ough' to think on,
Thet Higgses can't bemean themselves to rulin' by a Lincoln,--
Thet men, (an' guv'nors, tu,) thet hez sech Normal names ez Pickens,
Accustomed to no kin' o' work, 'thout 'tis to givin' lickins,
Can't measure votes with folks thet get their living from their farms,
An' prob'ly think thet Law's ez good ez hevin' coats o' arms.
Sence I've ben here, I've hired a chap to look about for me
To git me a transplantable an' thrifty fem'ly-tree, 110
An' he tells _me_ the Sawins is ez much o' Normal blood
Ez Pickens an' the rest on 'em, an' older 'n Noah's flood.
Your Normal schools wun't turn ye into Normals, for it's clear,
Ef eddykatin' done the thing, they'd be some skurcer here.
Pickenses, Boggses, Pettuses, Magoffins, Letchers, Polks,--
Where can you scare up names like them among your mudsill folks?
Ther's nothin' to compare with 'em, you'd fin', ef you should glance,
Among the tip-top femerlies in Englan', nor in France:
I've hearn frum 'sponsible men whose word wuz full ez good's their note,
Men thet can run their face for drinks, an' keep a Sunday coat, 120
That they wuz all on 'em come down, an' come down pooty fur,
From folks thet, 'thout their crowns wuz on, ou' doors wouldn' never stir,
Nor thet ther' warn't a Southun man but wut wuz _primy fashy_
O' the bes' blood in Europe, yis, an' Afriky an' Ashy:
Sech bein' the case, is 't likely we should bend like cotton wickin',
Or set down under anythin' so low-lived ez a lickin'?
More 'n this,--hain't we the literatoor an science, tu, by gorry?
Hain't we them intellectle twins, them giants, Simms an' Maury,
Each with full twice the ushle brains, like nothin' thet I know,
'thout 'twuz a double-headed calf I see once to a show? 130
For all thet, I warn't jest at fust in favor o' secedin';
I wuz for layin' low a spell to find out where 'twuz leadin',
For hevin' South-Carliny try her hand at sepritnationin',
She takin' resks an' findin' funds, an' we co-operationin',--
I mean a kin' o' hangin' roun' an' settin' on the fence,
Till Prov'dunce pinted how to jump an' save the most expense;
I recollected thet 'ere mine o' lead to Shiraz Centre
Thet bust up Jabez Pettibone, an' didn't want to ventur'
'Fore I wuz sartin wut come out ud pay for wut went in,
For swappin' silver off for lead ain't the sure way to win; 140
(An', fact, it _doos_ look now ez though--but folks must live an' larn--
We should git lead, an' more 'n we want, out o' the Old Consarn;)
But when I see a man so wise an' honest ez Buchanan
A-lettin' us hev all the forts an' all the arms an' cannon,
Admittin' we wuz nat'lly right an' you wuz nat'lly wrong,
Coz you wuz lab'rin'-folks an' we wuz wut they call _bong-tong_,
An' coz there warn't no fight in ye more 'n in a mashed potater,
While two o' _us_ can't skurcely meet but wut we fight by natur',
An' th' ain't a bar-room here would pay for openin' on 't a night;
Without it giv the priverlege o' bein' shot at sight, 150
Which proves we're Natur's noblemen, with whom it don't surprise
The British aristoxy should feel boun' to sympathize,--
Seein' all this, an' seein', tu, the thing wuz strikin' roots
While Uncle Sam sot still in hopes thet some one'd bring his boots,
I thought th' ole Union's hoops wuz off, an' let myself be sucked in
To rise a peg an' jine the crowd thet went for reconstructin',--
Thet is to hev the pardnership under th' ole name continner
Jest ez it wuz, we drorrin' pay, you findin' bone an' sinner,--
On'y to put it in the bond, an' enter 't in the journals,
Thet you're the nat'ral rank an' file, an' we the nat'ral
Now this I thought a fees'ble plan, thet 'ud work smooth ez grease,
Suitin' the Nineteenth Century an' Upper Ten idees,
An' there I meant to stick, an' so did most o' th' leaders, tu,
Coz we all thought the chance wuz good o' puttin' on it thru;
But Jeff he hit upon a way o' helpin' on us forrard
By bein' unannermous,--a trick you ain't quite up to, Norrard.
A Baldin hain't no more 'f a chance with them new apple-corers
Than folks's oppersition views aginst the Ringtail Roarers;
They'll take 'em out on him 'bout east,--one canter on a rail
Makes a man feel unannermous ez Jonah in the whale: 170
Or ef he's a slow-moulded cuss thet can't seem quite t' 'gree,
He gits the noose by tellergraph upon the nighes' tree:
Their mission-work with Afrikins hez put 'em up, thet's sartin,
To all the mos' across-lot ways o' preachin' an' convartin';
I'll bet my hat th' ain't nary priest, nor all on 'em together;
Thet cairs conviction to the min' like Reveren' Taranfeather;
Why, he sot up with me one night, an' labored to sech purpose,
Thet (ez an owl by daylight 'mongst a flock o' teazin' chirpers
Sees clearer 'n mud the wickedness o' eatin' little birds)
I see my error an' agreed to shen it arterwurds; 180
An' I should say, (to jedge our folks by facs in my possession,)
Thet three's Unannermous where one's a 'Riginal Secession;
So it's a thing you fellers North may safely bet your chink on,
Thet we're all water-proofed agin th' usurpin' reign o' Lincoln.
Jeff's _some_. He's gut another plan thet hez pertic'lar merits,
In givin' things a cheerfle look an' stiffnin' loose-hung sperits;
For while your million papers, wut with lyin' an' discussin',
Keep folks's tempers all on eend a-fumin' an' a-fussin',
A-wondrin' this an' guessin' thet, an' dreadin' every night
The breechin' o' the Univarse'll break afore it's light, 190
Our papers don't purtend to print on'y wut Guv'ment choose,
An' thet insures us all to git the very best o' noose:
Jeff hez it of all sorts an' kines, an' sarves it out ez wanted,
So's't every man gits wut he likes an' nobody ain't scanted;
Sometimes it's vict'ries (they're 'bout all ther' is that's cheap
Sometimes it's France an' England on the jump to interfere.
Fact is, the less the people know o' wut ther' is a-doin',
The hendier 'tis for Guv'ment, sence it henders trouble brewin';
An' noose is like a shinplaster,--it's good, ef you believe it,
Or, wut's all same, the other man thet's goin' to receive it: 200
Ef you've a son in th' army, wy, it's comfortin' to hear
He'll hev no gretter resk to run than seein' th' in'my's rear,
Coz, ef an F.F. looks at 'em, they ollers break an' run,
Or wilt right down ez debtors will thet stumble on a dun,
(An' this, ef an'thin', proves the wuth o' proper fem'ly pride,
Fer sech mean shucks ez creditors are all on Lincoln's side);
Ef I hev scrip thet wun't go off no more 'n a Belgin rifle,
An' read thet it's at par on 'Change, it makes me feel deli'fle;
It's cheerin', tu, where every man mus' fortify his bed,
To hear thet Freedom's the one thing our darkies mos'ly dread, 210
An' thet experunce, time 'n' agin, to Dixie's Land hez shown
Ther' 's nothin' like a powder-cask fer a stiddy corner-stone;
Ain't it ez good ez nuts, when salt is sellin' by the ounce
For its own weight in Treash'ry-bons, (ef bought in small amounts,)
When even whiskey's gittin' skurce an' sugar can't be found,
To know thet all the ellerments o' luxury abound?
An' don't it glorify sal'-pork, to come to understand
It's wut the Richmon' editors call fatness o' the land!
Nex' thing to knowin' you're well off is _nut_ to know when y' ain't;
An' ef Jeff says all's goin' wal, who'll ventur' t' say it
This cairn the Constitooshun roun' ez Jeff doos in his hat
Is hendier a dreffle sight, an' comes more kin' o' pat.
I tell ye wut, my jedgment is you're pooty sure to fail,
Ez long 'z the head keeps turnin' back for counsel to the tail:
Th' advantiges of our consarn for bein' prompt air gret,
While, 'long o' Congress, you can't strike, 'f you git an iron het;
They bother roun' with argooin', an' var'ous sorts o' foolin',
To make sure ef it's leg'lly het, an' all the while it's coolin',
So's't when you come to strike, it ain't no gret to wish ye j'y on,
An' hurts the hammer 'z much or more ez wut it doos the iron, 239
Jeff don't allow no jawin'-sprees for three mouths at a stretch,
Knowin' the ears long speeches suits air mostly made to metch;
He jes' ropes in your tonguey chaps an' reg'lar ten-inch bores
An' lets 'em play at Congress, ef they'll du it with closed doors;
So they ain't no more bothersome than ef we'd took an' sunk 'em,
An' yit enj'y th' exclusive right to one another's Buncombe
'thout doin' nobody no hurt, an' 'thout its costin' nothin',
Their pay bein' jes' Confedrit funds, they findin' keep an' clothin';
They taste the sweets o' public life, an' plan their little jobs,
An' suck the Treash'ry (no gret harm, for it's ez dry ez cobs,) 240
An' go thru all the motions jest ez safe ez in a prison,
An' hev their business to themselves, while Buregard hez hisn:
Ez long 'z he gives the Hessians fits, committees can't make bother
'bout whether 't's done the legle way or whether 't's done tother.
An' _I_ tell _you_ you've gut to larn thet War ain't one long teeter
Betwixt _I wan' to_ an' _'Twun't du_, debatin' like a skeetur
Afore he lights,--all is, to give the other side a millin',
An' arter thet's done, th' ain't no resk but wut the lor'll be willin';
No metter wut the guv'ment is, ez nigh ez I can hit it,
A lickin' 's constitooshunal, pervidin' _We_ don't git it. 250
Jeff don't stan' dilly-dallyin', afore he takes a fort,
(With no one in,) to git the leave o' the nex' Soopreme Court,
Nor don't want forty-'leven weeks o' jawin' an' expoundin',
To prove a nigger hez a right to save him, ef he's drowndin';
Whereas ole Abe 'ud sink afore he'd let a darkie boost him,
Ef Taney shouldn't come along an' hedn't interdooced him.
It ain't your twenty millions thet'll ever block Jeff's game,
But one Man thet wun't let 'em jog jest ez he's takin' aim:
Your numbers they may strengthen ye or weaken ye, ez 't heppens
They're willin' to be helpin' hands or wuss-'n-nothin' cap'ns. 260
I've chose my side, an' 'tain't no odds ef I wuz drawed with magnets,
Or ef I thought it prudenter to jine the nighes' bagnets;
I've made my ch'ice, an' ciphered out, from all I see an' heard,
Th' ole Constitooshun never'd git her decks for action cleared,
Long 'z you elect for Congressmen poor shotes thet want to go
Coz they can't seem to git their grub no otherways than so,
An' let your bes' men stay to home coz they wun't show ez talkers,
Nor can't be hired to fool ye an' sof'-soap ye at a caucus,--
Long 'z ye set by Rotashun more 'n ye do by folks's merits, 269
Ez though experunce thriv by change o' sile, like corn an' kerrits,--
Long 'z you allow a critter's 'claims' coz, spite o' shoves an' tippins,
He's kep' his private pan jest where 'twould ketch mos' public
Long 'z A.'ll turn tu an' grin' B.'s exe, ef B.'ll help him grin' hisn,
(An' thet's the main idee by which your leadin' men hev risen,)--
Long 'z you let _ary_ exe be groun', 'less 'tis to cut the weasan'
O' sneaks thet dunno till they're told wut is an' wut ain't Treason,--
Long 'z ye give out commissions to a lot o' peddlin' drones
Thet trade in whiskey with their men an' skin 'em to their bones,--
Long 'z ye sift out 'safe' canderdates thet no one ain't afeared on
Coz they're so thund'rin' eminent for bein' never heard on, 280
An' hain't no record, ez it's called, for folks to pick a hole in,
Ez ef it hurt a man to hev a body with a soul in,
An' it wuz ostentashun to be showin' on 't about,
When half his feller-citizens contrive to du without,--
Long 'z you suppose your votes can turn biled kebbage into brain,
An' ary man thet's pop'lar's fit to drive a lightnin'-train,--
Long 'z you believe democracy means _I'm ez good ez you be,_
An' that a feller from the ranks can't be a knave or booby,--
Long 'z Congress seems purvided, like yer street-cars an' yer 'busses,
With ollers room for jes' one more o' your spiled-in-bakin'
Dough 'thout the emptins of a soul, an' yit with means about 'em
(Like essence-peddlers) thet'll make folks long to be without 'em,
Jes heavy 'nough to turn a scale thet's doubtfle the wrong way,
An' make their nat'ral arsenal o' bein' nasty pay.--
Long 'z them things last, (an' _I_ don't see no gret signs of improvin',)
I sha'n't up stakes, not hardly yit, nor 'twouldn't pay for movin':
For, 'fore you lick us, it'll be the long'st day ever _you_ see.
Yourn, (ez I 'xpec' to be nex' spring,)
B., MARKISS O' BIG BOOSY.
A MESSAGE OF JEFF DAVIS IN SECRET SESSION
_Conjecturally reported by_ H. BIGLOW
TO THE EDITORS OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY
JAALAM, 10th March, 1862.
GENTLEMEN,--My leisure has been so entirely occupied with the hitherto
fruitless endeavour to decypher the Runick inscription whose fortunate
discovery I mentioned in my last communication, that I have not found
time to discuss, as I had intended, the great problem of what we are to
do with slavery,--a topick on which the publick mind in this place is at
present more than ever agitated. What my wishes and hopes are I need not
say, but for safe conclusions I do not conceive that we are yet in
possession of facts enough on which to bottom them with certainty.
Acknowledging the hand of Providence, as I do, in all events, I am
sometimes inclined to think that they are wiser than we, and am willing
to wait till we have made this continent once more a place where freemen
can live in security and honour, before assuming any further
responsibility. This is the view taken by my neighbour Habakkuk
Sloansure, Esq., the president of our bank, whose opinion in the
practical affairs of life has great weight with me, as I have generally
found it to be justified by the event, and whose counsel, had I followed
it, would have saved me from an unfortunate investment of a considerable
part of the painful economies of half a century in the Northwest-Passage
Tunnel. After a somewhat animated discussion with this gentleman a few
days since, I expanded, on the _audi alteram partem_ principle,
something which he happened to say by way of illustration, into the
Once on a time there was a pool
Fringed all about with flag-leaves cool
And spotted with cow-lilies garish,
Of frogs and pouts the ancient parish.
Alders the creaking redwings sink on,
Tussocks that house blithe Bob o' Lincoln
Hedged round the unassailed seclusion,
Where muskrats piled their cells Carthusian;
And many a moss-embroidered log,
The watering-place of summer frog,
Slept and decayed with patient skill,
As watering-places sometimes will.
Now in this Abbey of Theleme,
Which realized the fairest dream
That ever dozing bull-frog had,
Sunned on a half-sunk lily-pad,
There rose a party with a mission
To mend the polliwogs' condition,
Who notified the selectmen
To call a meeting there and then.
'Some kind of steps,' they said, 'are needed;
They don't come on so fast as we did:
Let's dock their tails; if that don't make 'em
Frogs by brevet, the Old One take 'em!
That boy, that came the other day
To dig some flag-root down this way,
His jack-knife left, and 'tis a sign
That Heaven approves of our design:
'Twere wicked not to urge the step on,
When Providence has sent the weapon.'
Old croakers, deacons of the mire,
That led the deep batrachian choir,
_Uk! Uk! Caronk!_ with bass that might
Have left Lablache's out of sight,
Shook nobby heads, and said, 'No go!
You'd better let 'em try to grow:
Old Doctor Time is slow, but still
He does know how to make a pill.'
But vain was all their hoarsest bass,
Their old experience out of place,
And spite of croaking and entreating,
The vote was carried in marsh-meeting.
'Lord knows,' protest the polliwogs,
'We're anxious to be grown-up frogs;
But don't push in to do the work
Of Nature till she prove a shirk;
'Tis not by jumps that she advances,
But wins her way by circumstances;
Pray, wait awhile, until you know
We're so contrived as not to grow;
Let Nature take her own direction,
And she'll absorb our imperfection;
_You_ mightn't like 'em to appear with,
But we must have the things to steer with.'
'No,' piped the party of reform,
'All great results are ta'en by storm;
Fate holds her best gifts till we show
We've strength to make her let them go;
The Providence that works in history,
And seems to some folks such a mystery,
Does not creep slowly on _incog._,
But moves by jumps, a mighty frog;
No more reject the Age's chrism,
Your queues are an anachronism;
No more the Future's promise mock,
But lay your tails upon the block,
Thankful that we the means have voted
To have you thus to frogs promoted.'
The thing was done, the tails were cropped.
And home each philotadpole hopped,
In faith rewarded to exult,
And wait the beautiful result.
Too soon it came; our pool, so long
The theme of patriot bull-frog's song,
Next day was reeking, fit to smother,
With heads and tails that missed each other,--
Here snoutless tails, there tailless snouts;
The only gainers were the pouts.
From lower to the higher next,
Not to the top, is Nature's text;
And embryo Good, to reach full stature,
Absorbs the Evil in its nature.
I think that nothing will ever give permanent peace and security to this
continent but the extirpation of Slavery therefrom, and that the
occasion is nigh; but I would do nothing hastily or vindictively, nor
presume to jog the elbow of Providence. No desperate measures for me
till we are sure that all others are hopeless,--_flectere si nequeo_
SUPEROS, _Acheronta movebo_. To make Emancipation a reform instead of a
revolution is worth a little patience, that we may have the Border
States first, and then the non-slaveholders of the Cotton States, with
us in principle,--a consummation that seems to be nearer than many
imagine. _Fiat justitia, ruat coelum_, is not to be taken in a literal
sense by statesmen, whose problem is to get justice done with as little
jar as possible to existing order, which has at least so much of heaven
in it that it is not chaos. Our first duty toward our enslaved brother
is to educate him, whether he be white or black. The first need of the
free black is to elevate himself according to the standard of this
material generation. So soon as the Ethiopian goes in his chariot, he
will find not only Apostles, but Chief Priests and Scribes and Pharisees
willing to ride with him.
'Nil habet infelix paupertas durius in se
Quam quod ridiculos homines facit.'
I rejoice in the President's late Message, which at last proclaims the
Government on the side of freedom, justice, and sound policy.
As I write, comes the news of our disaster at Hampton Roads. I do not
understand the supineness which, after fair warning, leaves wood to an
unequal conflict with iron. It is not enough merely to have the right on
our side, if we stick to the old flint-lock of tradition. I have
observed in my parochial experience (_haud ignarus mali_) that the Devil
is prompt to adopt the latest inventions of destructive warfare, and may
thus take even such a three-decker as Bishop Butler at an advantage. It
is curious, that, as gunpowder made armour useless on shore, so armour
is having its revenge by baffling its old enemy at sea; and that, while
gunpowder robbed land warfare of nearly all its picturesqueness to give
even greater stateliness and sublimity to a sea-fight, armour bids fair
to degrade the latter into a squabble between two iron-shelled turtles.
Yours, with esteem and respect,
HOMER WILBUR, A.M.
P.S.--I had wellnigh forgotten to say that the object of this letter is
to enclose a communication from the gifted pen of Mr. Biglow.
I sent you a messige, my friens, t'other day,
To tell you I'd nothin' pertickler to say:
'twuz the day our new nation gut kin' o' stillborn,
So 'twuz my pleasant dooty t' acknowledge the corn,
An' I see clearly then, ef I didn't before,
Thet the _augur_ in inauguration means _bore_.
I needn't tell _you_ thet my messige wuz written
To diffuse correc' notions in France an' Gret Britten,
An' agin to impress on the poppylar mind
The comfort an' wisdom o' goin' it blind,-- 10
To say thet I didn't abate not a hooter
O' my faith in a happy an' glorious futur',
Ez rich in each soshle an' p'litickle blessin'
Ez them thet we now hed the joy o' possessin',
With a people united, an' longin' to die
For wut _we_ call their country, without askin' why,
An' all the gret things we concluded to slope for
Ez much within reach now ez ever--to hope for.
We've gut all the ellerments, this very hour,
Thet make up a fus'-class, self-governin' power: 20
We've a war, an' a debt, an' a flag; an' ef this
Ain't to be inderpendunt, why, wut on airth is?
An' nothin' now henders our takin' our station
Ez the freest, enlightenedest, civerlized nation,
Built up on our bran'-new politickle thesis
Thet a Gov'ment's fust right is to tumble to pieces,--
I say nothin' henders our takin' our place
Ez the very fus'-best o' the whole human race,
A spittin' tobacker ez proud ez you please
On Victory's bes' carpets, or loaf-in' at ease 30
In the Tool'ries front-parlor, discussin' affairs
With our heels on the backs o' Napoleon's new chairs,
An' princes a-mixin' our cocktails an' slings,--
Excep', wal, excep' jest a very few things,
Sech ez navies an' armies an' wherewith to pay,
An' gettin' our sogers to run t'other way,
An' not be too over-pertickler in tryin'
To hunt up the very las' ditches to die in.
Ther' are critters so base thet they want it explained
Jes' wut is the totle amount thet we've gained, 40
Ez ef we could maysure stupenjious events
By the low Yankee stan'ard o' dollars an' cents:
They seem to forgit, thet, sence last year revolved,
We've succeeded in gittin' seceshed an' dissolved,
An' thet no one can't hope to git thru dissolootion
'thout some kin' o' strain on the best Constitootion.
Who asks for a prospec' more flettrin' an' bright,
When from here clean to Texas it's all one free fight?
Hain't we rescued from Seward the gret leadin' featurs
Thet makes it wuth while to be reasonin' creators? 50
Hain't we saved Habus Coppers, improved it in fact,
By suspendin' the Unionists 'stid o' the Act?
Ain't the laws free to all? Where on airth else d' ye see
Every freeman improvin' his own rope an' tree?
Ain't our piety sech (in our speeches an' messiges)
Ez t' astonish ourselves in the bes'-composed pessiges,
An' to make folks thet knowed us in th' ole state o' things
Think convarsion ez easy ez drinkin' gin-slings?
It's ne'ssary to take a good confident tone
With the public; but here, jest amongst us, I own 60
Things look blacker 'n thunder. Ther' 's no use denyin'
We're clean out o' money, an' 'most out o' lyin';
Two things a young nation can't mennage without,
Ef she wants to look wal at her fust comin' out;
For the fust supplies physickle strength, while the second
Gives a morril advantage thet's hard to be reckoned:
For this latter I'm willin' to du wut I can;
For the former you'll hev to consult on a plan,--
Though our _fust_ want (an' this pint I want your best views on)
Is plausible paper to print I.O.U.s on. 70
Some gennlemen think it would cure all our cankers
In the way o' finance, ef we jes' hanged the bankers;
An' I own the proposle 'ud square with my views,
Ef their lives wuzn't all thet we'd left 'em to lose.
Some say thet more confidence might be inspired,
Ef we voted our cities an' towns to be fired,--
A plan thet 'ud suttenly tax our endurance,
Coz 'twould be our own bills we should git for th' insurance;
But cinders, no matter how sacred we think 'em,
Mightn't strike furrin minds ez good sources of income, 80
Nor the people, perhaps, wouldn't like the eclaw
O' bein' all turned into paytriots by law.
Some want we should buy all the cotton an' burn it,
On a pledge, when we've gut thru the war, to return it,--
Then to take the proceeds an' hold _them_ ez security
For an issue o' bonds to be met at maturity
With an issue o' notes to be paid in hard cash
On the fus' Monday follerin' the 'tarnal Allsmash:
This hez a safe air, an', once hold o' the gold,
'ud leave our vile plunderers out in the cold, 90
An' _might_ temp' John Bull, ef it warn't for the dip he
Once gut from the banks o' my own Massissippi.
Some think we could make, by arrangin' the figgers,
A hendy home-currency out of our niggers;
But it wun't du to lean much on ary sech staff,
For they're gittin' tu current a'ready, by half.
One gennleman says, ef we lef' our loan out
Where Floyd could git hold on 't _he_'d take it, no doubt;
But 'tain't jes' the takin', though 't hez a good look,
We mus' git sunthin' out on it arter it's took, 100
An' we need now more'n ever, with sorrer I own,
Thet some one another should let us a loan,
Sence a soger wun't fight, on'y jes' while he draws his
Pay down on the nail, for the best of all causes,
'thout askin' to know wut the quarrel's about,--
An' once come to thet, why, our game is played out.
It's ez true ez though I shouldn't never hev said it,
Thet a hitch hez took place in our system o' credit;
I swear it's all right in my speeches an' messiges,
But ther's idees afloat, ez ther' is about sessiges: 110
Folks wun't take a bond ez a basis to trade on,
Without nosin' round to find out wut it's made on,
An' the thought more an' more thru the public min' crosses
Thet our Treshry hez gut 'mos' too many dead hosses.
Wut's called credit, you see, is some like a balloon,
Thet looks while it's up 'most ez harnsome 'z a moon,
But once git a leak in 't, an' wut looked so grand
Caves righ' down in a jiffy ez flat ez your hand.
Now the world is a dreffle mean place, for our sins,
Where ther' ollus is critters about with long pins 120
A-prickin' the bubbles we've blowed with sech care,
An' provin' ther' 's nothin' inside but bad air:
They're all Stuart Millses, poor-white trash, an' sneaks,
Without no more chivverlry 'n Choctaws or Creeks,
Who think a real gennleman's promise to pay
Is meant to be took in trade's ornery way:
Them fellers an' I couldn' never agree;
They're the nateral foes o' the Southun Idee;
I'd gladly take all of our other resks on me
To be red o' this low-lived politikle 'con'my! 130
Now a dastardly notion is gittin' about
Thet our bladder is bust an' the gas oozin' out,
An' onless we can mennage in some way to stop it,
Why, the thing's a gone coon, an' we might ez wal drop it.
Brag works wal at fust, but it ain't jes' the thing
For a stiddy inves'ment the shiners to bring,
An' votin' we're prosp'rous a hundred times over
Wun't change bein' starved into livin' in clover.
Manassas done sunthin' tow'rds drawin' the wool
O'er the green, antislavery eyes o' John Bull: 140
Oh, _warn't_ it a godsend, jes' when sech tight fixes
Wuz crowdin' us mourners, to throw double-sixes!
I wuz tempted to think, an' it wuzn't no wonder,
Ther' wuz really a Providence,--over or under,--
When, all packed for Nashville, I fust ascertained
From the papers up North wut a victory we'd gained.
'twuz the time for diffusin' correc' views abroad
Of our union an' strength an' relyin' on God;
An', fact, when I'd gut thru my fust big surprise,
I much ez half b'lieved in my own tallest lies, 150
An' conveyed the idee thet the whole Southun popperlace
Wuz Spartans all on the keen jump for Thermopperlies,
Thet set on the Lincolnites' bombs till they bust,
An' fight for the priv'lege o' dyin' the fust;
But Roanoke, Bufort, Millspring, an' the rest
Of our recent starn-foremost successes out West,
Hain't left us a foot for our swellin' to stand on,--
We've showed _too_ much o' wut Buregard calls _abandon_,
For all our Thermopperlies (an' it's a marcy
We hain't hed no more) hev ben clean vicy-varsy, 160
An' wut Spartans wuz lef' when the battle wuz done
Wuz them thet wuz too unambitious to run.
Oh, ef we hed on'y jes' gut Reecognition,
Things now would ha' ben in a different position!
You'd ha' hed all you wanted: the paper blockade
Smashed up into toothpicks; unlimited trade
In the one thing thet's needfle, till niggers, I swow,
Hed ben thicker'n provisional shin-plasters now;
Quinine by the ton 'ginst the shakes when they seize ye;
Nice paper to coin into C.S.A. specie; 170
The voice of the driver'd be heerd in our land,
An' the univarse scringe, ef we lifted our hand:
Wouldn't _thet_ be some like a fulfillin' the prophecies,
With all the fus' fem'lies in all the fust offices?
'twuz a beautiful dream, an' all sorrer is idle,--
But _ef_ Lincoln _would_ ha' hanged Mason an' Slidell!
For wouldn't the Yankees hev found they'd ketched Tartars,
Ef they'd raised two sech critters as them into martyrs?
Mason _wuz_ F.F.V., though a cheap card to win on,
But t'other was jes' New York trash to begin on; 180
They ain't o' no good in European pellices,
But think wut a help they'd ha' ben on their gallowses!
They'd ha' felt they wuz truly fulfillin' their mission,
An' oh, how dog-cheap we'd ha' gut Reecognition!
But somehow another, wutever we've tried,
Though the the'ry's fust-rate, the facs _wun't_ coincide:
Facs are contrary 'z mules, an' ez hard in the mouth,
An' they allus hev showed a mean spite to the South.
Sech bein' the case, we hed best look about
For some kin' o' way to slip _our_ necks out: 190
Le's vote our las' dollar, ef one can be found,
(An', at any rate, votin' it hez a good sound,)--
Le''s swear thet to arms all our people is flyin',
(The critters can't read, an' wun't know how we're lyin',)--
Thet Toombs is advancin' to sack Cincinnater,
With a rovin' commission to pillage an' slahter,--
Thet we've throwed to the winds all regard for wut's lawfle,
An' gone in for sunthin' promiscu'sly awfle.
Ye see, hitherto, it's our own knaves an' fools
Thet we've used, (those for whetstones, an' t'others ez tools,) 200
An' now our las' chance is in puttin' to test
The same kin' o' cattle up North an' out West,--
Your Belmonts, Vallandighams, Woodses, an' sech,
Poor shotes thet ye couldn't persuade us to tech,
Not in ornery times, though we're willin' to feed 'em
With a nod now an' then, when we happen to need 'em;
Why, for my part, I'd ruther shake hands with a nigger
Than with cusses that load an' don't darst dror a trigger;
They're the wust wooden nutmegs the Yankees perdooce,
Shaky everywheres else, an' jes' sound on the goose; 210
They ain't wuth a cuss, an' I set nothin' by 'em,
But we're in sech a fix thet I s'pose we mus' try 'em.
I--But, Gennlemen, here's a despatch jes' come in
Which shows thet the tide's begun turnin' agin',--
Gret Cornfedrit success! C'lumbus eevacooated!
I mus' run down an' hev the thing properly stated,
An' show wut a triumph it is, an' how lucky
To fin'lly git red o' thet cussed Kentucky,--
An' how, sence Fort Donelson, winnin' the day
Consists in triumphantly gittin' away. 220
SPEECH OF HONOURABLE PRESERVED DOE IN SECRET CAUCUS
TO THE EDITORS OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY
JAALAM, 12th April, 1862.
GENTLEMEN,--As I cannot but hope that the ultimate, if not speedy,
success of the national arms is now sufficiently ascertained, sure as I
am of the righteousness of our cause and its consequent claim on the
blessing of God, (for I would not show a faith inferior to that of the
Pagan historian with his _Facile evenit quod Dis cordi est_,) it seems
to me a suitable occasion to withdraw our minds a moment from the
confusing din of battle to objects of peaceful and permanent interest.
Let us not neglect the monuments of preterite history because what shall
be history is so diligently making under our eyes. _Cras ingens
iterabimus aequor;_ to-morrow will be time enough for that stormy sea;
to-day let me engage the attention of your readers with the Runick
inscription to whose fortunate discovery I have heretofore alluded. Well
may we say with the poet, _Multa renascuntur quae jam cecidere_. And I
would premise, that, although I can no longer resist the evidence of my
own senses from the stone before me to the ante-Columbian discovery of
this continent by the Northmen, _gens inclytissima_, as they are called
in a Palermitan inscription, written fortunately in a less debatable
character than that which I am about to decipher, yet I would by no
means be understood as wishing to vilipend the merits of the great
Genoese, whose name will never be forgotten so long as the inspiring
strains of 'Hail Columbia' shall continue to be heard. Though he must be
stripped also of whatever praise may belong to the experiment of the
egg, which I find proverbially attributed by Castilian authors to a
certain Juanito or Jack, (perhaps an offshoot of our giant-killing
mythus,) his name will still remain one of the most illustrious of
modern times. But the impartial historian owes a duty likewise to
obscure merit, and my solicitude to render a tardy justice is perhaps
quickened by my having known those who, had their own field of labour
been less secluded, might have found a readier acceptance with the
reading publick, I could give an example, but I forbear: _forsitan
nostris ex ossibus oritur ultor_.
Touching Runick inscriptions, I find that they may lie classed under
three general heads; 1. Those which are understood by the Danish Royal
Society of Northern Antiquaries, and Professor Rafn, their Secretary;
2. Those which are comprehensible only by Mr. Rafn; and 3. Those
which neither the Society, Mr. Rafn, nor anybody else can be said in any
definite sense to understand, and which accordingly offer peculiar
temptations to enucleating sagacity. These last are naturally deemed the
most valuable by intelligent antiquaries, and to this class the stone
now in my possession fortunately belongs. Such give a picturesque
variety to ancient events, because susceptible oftentimes of as many
interpretations as there are individual archaeologists; and since facts
are only the pulp in which the Idea or event-seed is softly imbedded
till it ripen, it is of little consequence what colour or flavour we
attribute to them, provided it be agreeable. Availing myself of the
obliging assistance of Mr. Arphaxad Bowers, an ingenious photographick
artist, whose house-on-wheels has now stood for three years on our
Meeting-House Green, with the somewhat contradictory inscription,--'_our
motto is onward_,'--I have sent accurate copies of my treasure to many
learned men and societies, both native and European. I may hereafter
communicate their different and (_me judice_) equally erroneous
solutions. I solicit also, Messrs. Editors, your own acceptance of the
copy herewith enclosed. I need only premise further, that the stone
itself is a goodly block of metamorphick sandstone, and that the Runes
resemble very nearly the ornithichnites or fossil bird-tracks of Dr.
Hitchcock, but with less regularity or apparent design than is displayed
by those remarkable geological monuments. These are rather the _non bene
junctarum discordia semina rerum_. Resolved to leave no door open to
cavil, I first of all attempted the elucidation of this remarkable
example of lithick literature by the ordinary modes, but with no
adequate return for my labour. I then considered myself amply justified
in resorting to that heroick treatment the felicity of which, as applied
by the great Bentley to Milton, had long ago enlisted my admiration.
Indeed, I had already made up my mind, that, in case good fortune should
throw any such invaluable record in my way, I would proceed with it in
the following simple and satisfactory method. Alter a cursory
examination, merely sufficing for an approximative estimate of its
length, I would write down a hypothetical inscription based upon
antecedent probabilities, and then proceed to extract from the
characters engraven on the stone a meaning as nearly as possible
conformed to this _a priori_ product of my own ingenuity. The result
more than justified my hopes, inasmuch as the two inscriptions were made
without any great violence to tally in all essential particulars. I then
proceeded, not without some anxiety, to my second test, which was, to
read the Runick letters diagonally, and again with the same success.
With an excitement pardonable under the circumstances, yet tempered with
thankful humility, I now applied my last and severest trial, my
_experimentum crucis_. I turned the stone, now doubly precious in my
eyes, with scrupulous exactness upside down. The physical exertion so
far displaced my spectacles as to derange for a moment the focus of
vision. I confess that it was with some tremulousness that I readjusted
them upon my nose, and prepared my mind to bear with calmness any
disappointment that might ensue. But, _O albo dies notanda lapillo!_
what was my delight to find that the change of position had effected
none in the sense of the writing, even by so much as a single letter! I
was now, and justly, as I think, satisfied of the conscientious
exactness of my interpretation. It is as follows:
FIRST DRANK CLOUD-BROTHER
that is, drew smoke through a reed stem. In other words, we have here a
record of the first smoking of the herb _Nicotiana Tabacum_ by an
European on this continent. The probable results of this discovery are
so vast as to baffle conjecture. If it be objected, that the smoking of
a pipe would hardly justify the setting up of a memorial stone, I
answer, that even now the Moquis Indian, ere he takes his first whiff,
bows reverently toward the four quarters of the sky in succession, and
that the loftiest monuments have been read to perpetuate fame, which is
the dream of the shadow of smoke. The _Saga_, it will be remembered,
leaves this Bjarna to a fate something like that of Sir Humphrey
Gilbert, on board a sinking ship in the 'wormy sea,' having generously
given up his place in the boat to a certain Icelander. It is doubly
pleasant, therefore, to meet with this proof that the brave old man
arrived safely in Vinland, and that his declining years were cheered by
the respectful attentions of the dusky denizens of our then uninvaded
forest. Most of all was I gratified, however, in thus linking forever
the name of my native town with one of the most momentous occurrences of
modern times. Hitherto Jalaam, though in soil, climate, and geographical
position as highly qualified to be the theatre of remarkable historical
incidents as any spot on the earth's surface, has been, if I may say it
without seeming to question the wisdom of Providence, almost maliciously
neglected, as it might appear, by occurrences of world-wide interest in
want of a situation. And in matters of this nature it must be confessed
that adequate events are as necessary as the _vates sacer_ to record
them. Jaalam stood always modestly ready, but circumstances made no
fitting response to her generous intentions. Now, however, she assumes
her place on the historick roll. I have hitherto been a zealous opponent
of the Circean herb, but I shall now reexamine the question without
I am aware that the Rev. Jonas Tutchel, in a recent communication to the
'Bogus Four Corners Weekly Meridian,' has endeavored to show that this
is the sepulchral inscription of Thorwald Eriksson, who, as is
well-known, was slain in Vinland by the natives. But I think he has been
misled by a preconceived theory, and cannot but feel that he has thus
made an ungracious return for my allowing him to inspect the stone with
the aid of my own glasses (he having by accident left his at home) and
in my own study. The heathen ancients might have instructed this
Christian minister in the rites of hospitality; but much is to be
pardoned to the spirit of self-love. He must indeed be ingenious who can
make out the words _her hvilir_ from any characters in the inscription
in question, which, whatever else it may be, is certainly not mortuary.
And even should the reverend gentleman succeed in persuading some
fantastical wits of the soundness of his views, I do not see what useful
end he will have gained. For if the English Courts of Law hold the
testimony of gravestones from the burial-grounds of Protestant
dissenters to be questionable, even where it is essential in proving a
descent, I cannot conceive that the epitaphial assertions of heathens
should be esteemed of more authority by any man of orthodox sentiments.
At this moment, happening to cast my eyes upon the stone, whose
characters a transverse light from my southern window brings out with
singular distinctness, another interpretation has occurred to me,
promising even more interesting results. I hasten to close my letter in
order to follow at once the clue thus providentially suggested.
I inclose, as usual, a contribution from Mr. Biglow, and remain,
Gentlemen, with esteem and respect,
Your Obedient Humble Servant,
HOMER WILBUR, A.M.
I thank ye, my frien's, for the warmth o' your greetin':
Ther' 's few airthly blessin's but wut's vain an' fleetin';
But ef ther' is one thet hain't _no_ cracks an' flaws,
An' is wuth goin' in for, it's pop'lar applause;
It sends up the sperits ez lively ez rockets,
An' I feel it--wal, down to the eend o' my pockets.
Jes' lovin' the people is Canaan in view,
But it's Canaan paid quarterly t' hev 'em love you;
It's a blessin' thet's breakin' out ollus in fresh spots;
It's a-follerin' Moses 'thout losin' the flesh-pots. 10
But, Gennlemen, 'scuse me, I ain't sech a raw cus
Ez to go luggin' ellerkence into a caucus,--
Thet is, into one where the call comprehen's
Nut the People in person, but on'y their frien's;
I'm so kin' o' used to convincin' the masses
Of th' edvantage o' bein' self-governin' asses,
I forgut thet _we_'re all o' the sort thet pull wires
An' arrange for the public their wants an' desires,
An' thet wut we hed met for wuz jes' to agree
Wut the People's opinions in futur' should be. 20
Now, to come to the nub, we've ben all disappinted,
An' our leadin' idees are a kind o' disjinted,
Though, fur ez the nateral man could discern,
Things ough' to ha' took most an oppersite turn.
But The'ry is jes' like a train on the rail,
Thet, weather or no, puts her thru without fail,
While Fac' 's the ole stage thet gits sloughed in the ruts,
An' hez to allow for your darned efs an' buts,
An' so, nut intendin' no pers'nal reflections,
They don't--don't nut allus, thet is,--make connections: 30
Sometimes, when it really doos seem thet they'd oughter
Combine jest ez kindly ez new rum an' water,
Both'll be jest ez sot in their ways ez a bagnet,
Ez otherwise-minded ez th' eends of a magnet,
An' folks like you 'n' me, thet ain't ept to be sold,
Git somehow or 'nother left out in the cold.
I expected 'fore this, 'thout no gret of a row,
Jeff D. would ha' ben where A. Lincoln is now,
With Taney to say 'twuz all legle an' fair,
An' a jury o' Deemocrats ready to swear 40
Thet the ingin o' State gut throwed into the ditch
By the fault o' the North in misplacin' the switch.
Things wuz ripenin' fust-rate with Buchanan to nuss 'em;
But the People--they wouldn't be Mexicans, cuss 'em!
Ain't the safeguards o' freedom upsot, 'z you may say,
Ef the right o' rev'lution is took clean away?
An' doosn't the right primy-fashy include
The bein' entitled to nut be subdued?
The fect is, we'd gone for the Union so strong,
When Union meant South ollus right an' North wrong, 50
Thet the People gut fooled into thinkin' it might
Worry on middlin' wal with the North in the right.
We might ha' ben now jest ez prosp'rous ez France,
Where p'litikle enterprise hez a fair chance,
An' the People is heppy an' proud et this hour,
Long ez they hev the votes, to let Nap hey the power;
But _our_ folks they went an' believed wut we'd told 'em
An', the flag once insulted, no mortle could hold 'em.
'Twuz pervokin' jest when we wuz cert'in to win,--
And I, for one, wun't trust the masses agin: 60
For a People thet knows much ain't fit to be free
In the self-cockin', back-action style o' J.D.
I can't believe now but wut half on 't is lies;
For who'd thought the North wuz agoin' to rise,
Or take the pervokin'est kin' of a stump,
'thout 'twuz sunthin' ez pressin' ez Gabr'el's las' trump?
Or who'd ha' supposed, arter _sech_ swell an' bluster
'bout the lick-ary-ten-on-ye fighters they'd muster,
Raised by hand on briled lightnin', ez op'lent 'z you please
In a primitive furrest ol femmily-trees,-- 70
Who'd ha' thought thet them Southuners ever 'ud show
Starns with pedigrees to 'em like theirn to the foe,
Or, when the vamosin' come, ever to find
Nat'ral masters in front an' mean white folks behind?
By ginger, ef I'd ha' known half I know now,
When I wuz to Congress, I wouldn't, I swow,
Hey let 'em cair on so high-minded an' sarsy,
'thout _some_ show o' wut you may call vicy-varsy.
To be sure, we wuz under a contrac' jes' then
To be dreffle forbearin' towards Southun men; 80
We hed to go sheers in preservin' the bellance;
An' ez they seemed to feel they wuz wastin' their tellents
'thout some un to kick, 'twarn't more 'n proper, you know,
Each should furnish his part; an' sence they found the toe,
An' we wuzn't cherubs--wal, we found the buffer,
For fear thet the Compromise System should suffer.
I wun't say the plan hedn't onpleasant featurs,--
For men are perverse an' onreasonin' creaturs,
An' forgit thet in this life 'tain't likely to heppen
Their own privit fancy should ollus be cappen,-- 90
But it worked jest ez smooth ez the key of a safe,
An' the gret Union bearin's played free from all chafe.
They warn't hard to suit, ef they hed their own way,
An' we (thet is, some on us) made the thing pay:
'twuz a fair give-an'-take out of Uncle Sam's heap;
Ef they took wut warn't theirn, wut we give come ez cheap;
The elect gut the offices down to tide-waiter,
The people took skinnin' ez mild ez a tater.
Seemed to choose who they wanted tu, footed the bills,
An' felt kind o' 'z though they wuz havin' their wills, 100
Which kep' 'em ez harmless an' cherfle ez crickets,
While all we invested wuz names on the tickets;
Wal, ther' 's nothin', for folks fond o' lib'ral consumption
Free o' charge, like democ'acy tempered with gumption!
Now warn't thet a system wuth pains in presarvin',
Where the people found jints an' their frien's done the carvin',--
Where the many done all o' their thinkin' by proxy,
An' were proud on 't ez long ez 'twuz christened Democ'cy,--
Where the few let us sap all o' Freedom's foundations,
Ef you call it reformin' with prudence an' patience, 110
An' were willin' Jeff's snake-egg should hetch with the rest,
Ef you writ 'Constitootional' over the nest?
But it's all out o' kilter, ('twuz too good to last,)
An' all jes' by J.D.'s perceedin' too fast;
Ef he'd on'y hung on for a month or two more,
We'd ha' gut things fixed nicer 'n they hed ben before:
Afore he drawed off an' lef all in confusion,
We wuz safely entrenched in the ole Constitootion,
With an outlyin', heavy-gun, case-mated fort
To rake all assailants,--I mean th' S.J. Court. 120
Now I never'll acknowledge (nut ef you should skin me)
'twuz wise to abandon sech works to the in'my,
An' let him fin' out thet wut scared him so long,
Our whole line of argyments, lookin' so strong,
All our Scriptur an' law, every the'ry an' fac',
Wuz Quaker-guns daubed with Pro-slavery black.
Why, ef the Republicans ever should git
Andy Johnson or some one to lend 'em the wit
An' the spunk jes' to mount Constitootion an' Court
With Columbiad guns, your real ekle-rights sort, 130
Or drill out the spike from the ole Declaration
Thet can kerry a solid shot clearn roun' creation,
We'd better take maysures for shettin' up shop,
An' put off our stock by a vendoo or swop.
But they wun't never dare tu; you'll see 'em in Edom
'fore they ventur' to go where their doctrines 'ud lead 'em:
They've ben takin' our princerples up ez we dropt 'em,
An' thought it wuz terrible 'cute to adopt 'em;
But they'll fin' out 'fore long thet their hope's ben deceivin' 'em,
An' thet princerples ain't o' no good, ef you b'lieve in 'em;
It makes 'em tu stiff for a party to use, 141
Where they'd ough' to be easy 'z an ole pair o' shoes.
If _we_ say 'n our pletform thet all men are brothers,
We don't mean thet some folks ain't more so 'n some others;
An' it's wal understood thet we make a selection,
An' thet brotherhood kin' o' subsides arter 'lection.
The fust thing for sound politicians to larn is,
Thet Truth, to dror kindly in all sorts o' harness,
Mus' be kep' in the abstract,--for, come to apply it,
You're ept to hurt some folks's interists by it. 150
Wal, these 'ere Republicans (some on 'em) ects
Ez though gineral mexims 'ud suit speshle facts;
An' there's where we'll nick 'em, there's where they'll be lost;
For applyin' your princerple's wut makes it cost,
An' folks don't want Fourth o' July t' interfere
With the business-consarns o' the rest o' the year,
No more 'n they want Sunday to pry an' to peek
Into wut they are doin' the rest o' the week.
A ginooine statesman should be on his guard,
Ef he _must_ hev beliefs, nut to b'lieve 'em tu hard; 160
For, ez sure ez he does, he'll be blartin' 'em out
'thout regardin' the natur' o' man more 'n a spout,
Nor it don't ask much gumption to pick out a flaw
In a party whose leaders are loose in the jaw:
An' so in our own case I ventur' to hint
Thet we'd better nut air our perceedin's in print,
Nor pass resserlootions ez long ez your arm
Thet may, ez things heppen to turn, du us harm;
For when you've done all your real meanin' to smother,
The darned things'll up an' mean sunthin' or 'nother. 170
Jeff'son prob'ly meant wal with his 'born free an' ekle,'
But it's turned out a real crooked stick in the sekle;
It's taken full eighty-odd year--don't you see?--
From the pop'lar belief to root out thet idee,
An', arter all, suckers on 't keep buddin' forth
In the nat'lly onprincipled mind o' the North.
No, never say nothin' without you're compelled tu,
An' then don't say nothin' thet you can be held tu,
Nor don't leave no friction-idees layin' loose
For the ign'ant to put to incend'ary use. 180
You know I'm a feller thet keeps a skinned eye
On the leetle events thet go skurryin' by,
Coz it's of'ner by them than by gret ones you'll see
Wut the p'litickle weather is likely to be.
Now I don't think the South's more 'n begun to be licked,
But I _du_ think, ez Jeff says, the wind-bag's gut pricked;
It'll blow for a spell an' keep puffin' an' wheezin',
The tighter our army an' navy keep, squeezin'--
For they can't help spread-eaglein' long 'z ther's a mouth
To blow Enfield's Speaker thru lef' at the South. 190
But it's high time for us to be settin' our faces
Towards reconstructin' the national basis,
With an eye to beginnin' agin on the jolly ticks
We used to chalk up 'hind the back-door o' politics;
An' the fus' thing's to save wut of Slav'ry ther's lef'
Arter this (I mus' call it) imprudence o' Jeff:
For a real good Abuse, with its roots fur an' wide,
Is the kin' o' thing _I_ like to hev on my side;
A Scriptur' name makes it ez sweet ez a rose,
An' it's tougher the older an' uglier it grows-- 200
(I ain't speakin' now o' the righteousness of it,
But the p'litickle purchase it gives an' the profit).
Things look pooty squally, it must be allowed,
An' I don't see much signs of a bow in the cloud:
Ther's too many Deemocrats--leaders wut's wuss--
Thet go for the Union 'thout carin' a cuss
Ef it helps ary party thet ever wuz heard on,
So our eagle ain't made a split Austrian bird on.
But ther's still some consarvative signs to be found
Thet shows the gret heart o' the People is sound: 210
(Excuse me for usin' a stump-phrase agin,
But, once in the way on 't, they _will_ stick like sin:)
There's Phillips, for instance, hez jes' ketched a Tartar
In the Law-'n'-Order Party of ole Cincinnater;
An' the Compromise System ain't gone out o' reach,
Long 'z you keep the right limits on freedom o' speech.
'Twarn't none too late, neither, to put on the gag,
For he's dangerous now he goes in for the flag.
Nut thet I altogether approve o' bad eggs,
They're mos' gin'ly argymunt on its las' legs,-- 220
An' their logic is ept to be tu indiscriminate,
Nor don't ollus wait the right objecs to 'liminate;
But there is a variety on 'em, you'll find,
Jest ez usefle an' more, besides bein' refined,--
I mean o' the sort thet are laid by the dictionary,
Sech ez sophisms an' cant, thet'll kerry conviction ary
Way thet you want to the right class o' men,
An' are staler than all 't ever come from a hen:
'Disunion' done wal till our resh Southun friends
Took the savor all out on 't for national ends; 230
But I guess 'Abolition' 'll work a spell yit,
When the war's done, an' so will 'Forgive-an'-forgit.'
Times mus' be pooty thoroughly out o' all jint,
Ef we can't make a good constitootional pint;
An' the good time'll come to be grindin' our exes,
When the war goes to seed in the nettle o' texes:
Ef Jon'than don't squirm, with sech helps to assist him,
I give up my faith in the free-suffrage system;
Democ'cy wun't be nut a mite interestin',
Nor p'litikle capital much wuth investin'; 240
An' my notion is, to keep dark an' lay low
Till we see the right minute to put in our blow.--
But I've talked longer now 'n I hed any idee,
An' ther's others you want to hear more 'n you du me;
So I'll set down an' give thet 'ere bottle a skrimmage,
For I've spoke till I'm dry ez a real graven image.
SUNTHIN' IN THE PASTORAL LINE
TO THE EDITORS OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY
JAALAM, 17th May, 1862.
GENTLEMEN,--At the special request of Mr. Biglow, I intended to
inclose, together with his own contribution, (into which, at my
suggestion, he has thrown a little more of pastoral sentiment than
usual,) some passages from my sermon on the day of the National Fast,
from the text, 'Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them,'
Heb. xiii, 3. But I have not leisure sufficient at present for the
copying of them, even were I altogether satisfied with the production as
it stands. I should prefer, I confess, to contribute the entire
discourse to the pages of your respectable miscellany, if it should be
found acceptable upon perusal, especially as I find the difficulty in
selection of greater magnitude than I had anticipated. What passes
without challenge in the fervour of oral delivery, cannot always stand
the colder criticism of the closet. I am not so great an enemy of
Eloquence as my friend Mr. Biglow would appear to be from some passages
in his contribution for the current month. I would not, indeed, hastily
suspect him of covertly glancing at myself in his somewhat caustick
animadversions, albeit some of the phrases he girds at are not entire
strangers to my lips. I am a more hearty admirer of the Puritans than
seems now to be the fashion, and believe, that, if they Hebraized a
little too much in their speech, they showed remarkable practical
sagacity as statesmen and founders. But such phenomena as Puritanism are
the results rather of great religious than of merely social convulsions,
and do not long survive them. So soon as an earnest conviction has
cooled into a phrase, its work is over, and the best that can be done
with it is to bury it. _Ite, missa est_. I am inclined to agree with Mr.
Biglow that we cannot settle the great political questions which are now
presenting themselves to the nation by the opinions of Jeremiah or
Ezekiel as to the wants and duties of the Jews in their time, nor do I
believe that an entire community with their feelings and views would be
practicable or even agreeable at the present day. At the same time I
could wish that their habit of subordinating the actual to the moral,
the flesh to the spirit, and this world to the other, were more common.
They had found out, at least, the great military secret that soul weighs
more than body.--But I am suddenly called to a sick-bed in the household
of a valued parishioner.
With esteem and respect,
Your obedient servant,
Once git a smell o' musk into a draw,
An' it clings hold like precerdents in law:
Your gra'ma'am put it there,--when, goodness knows,--
To jes' this-worldify her Sunday-clo'es;
But the old chist wun't sarve her gran'son's wife,
(For, 'thout new funnitoor, wut good in life?)
An' so ole clawfoot, from the precinks dread
O' the spare chamber, slinks into the shed,
Where, dim with dust, it fust or last subsides
To holdin' seeds an' fifty things besides; 10
But better days stick fast in heart an' husk,
An' all you keep in 't gits a scent o' musk.
Jes' so with poets: wut they've airly read
Gits kind o' worked into their heart an' head,
So's't they can't seem to write but jest on sheers
With furrin countries or played-out ideers,
Nor hev a feelin', ef it doosn't smack
O' wut some critter chose to feel 'way back:
This makes 'em talk o' daisies, larks, an' things,
Ez though we'd nothin' here that blows an' sings,-- 20
(Why, I'd give more for one live bobolink
Than a square mile o' larks in printer's ink,)--
This makes 'em think our fust o' May is May,
Which 'tain't, for all the almanicks can say.
O little city-gals, don't never go it
Blind on the word o' noospaper or poet!
They're apt to puff, an' May-day seldom looks
Up in the country ez it doos in books;
They're no more like than hornets'-nests an' hives,
Or printed sarmons be to holy lives. 30
I, with my trouses perched on cowhide boots,
Tuggin' my foundered feet out by the roots,
Hev seen ye come to fling on April's hearse
Your muslin nosegays from the milliner's,
Puzzlin' to find dry ground your queen to choose,
An' dance your throats sore in morocker shoes:
I've seen ye an' felt proud, thet, come wut would,
Our Pilgrim stock wuz pethed with hardihood.
Pleasure doos make us Yankees kind o' winch,
Ez though 'twuz sunthin' paid for by the inch; 40
But yit we du contrive to worry thru,
Ef Dooty tells us thet the thing's to du,
An' kerry a hollerday, ef we set out,
Ez stiddily ez though 'twuz a redoubt.
I, country-born an' bred, know where to find
Some blooms thet make the season suit the mind,
An' seem to metch the doubtin' bluebird's notes,--
Half-vent'rin' liverworts in furry coats,
Bloodroots, whose rolled-up leaves ef you oncurl,
Each on 'em's cradle to a baby-pearl,-- 50
But these are jes' Spring's pickets; sure ez sin,
The rebble frosts'll try to drive 'em in;
For half our May's so awfully like Mayn't,
'twould rile a Shaker or an evrige saint;
Though I own up I like our back'ard springs
Thet kind o' haggle with their greens an' things,
An' when you 'most give up, 'uthout more words
Toss the fields full o' blossoms, leaves, an' birds;
Thet's Northun natur', slow an' apt to doubt,
But when it _doos_ git stirred, ther' 's no gin-out! 60
Fust come the blackbirds clatt'rin' in tall trees,
An' settlin' things in windy Congresses,--
Queer politicians, though, for I'll be skinned
Ef all on 'em don't head aginst the wind,
'fore long the trees begin to show belief,--
The maple crimsons to a coral-reef.
Then saffern swarms swing off from all the willers
So plump they look like yaller caterpillars,
Then gray hossches'nuts leetle hands unfold
Softer 'n a baby's be at three days old: 70
Thet's robin-redbreast's almanick; he knows
Thet arter this ther's only blossom-snows;
So, choosin' out a handy crotch an' spouse,
He goes to plast'rin' his adobe house.
Then seems to come a hitch,--things lag behind.
Till some fine mornin' Spring makes up her mind,
An' ez, when snow-swelled rivers cresh their dams
Heaped-up with ice thet dovetails in an' jams,
A leak comes spirtin' thru some pin-hole cleft,
Grows stronger, fercer, tears out right an' left, 80
Then all the waters bow themselves an' come,
Suddin, in one gret slope o' shedderin' foam,
Jes' so our Spring gits eyerythin' in tune
An' gives one leap from Aperl into June;
Then all comes crowdin' in; afore you think,
Young oak-leaves mist the side-hill woods with pink;
The catbird in the laylock-bush is loud;
The orchards turn to heaps o' rosy cloud;
Red--cedars blossom tu, though few folks know it,
An' look all dipt in sunshine like a poet; 90
The lime-trees pile their solid stacks o'shade
An' drows'ly simmer with the bees' sweet trade;
In ellum-shrouds the flashin' hangbird clings
An' for the summer vy'ge his hammock slings;
All down the loose-walled lanes in archin' bowers
The barb'ry droops its strings o' golden flowers,
Whose shrinkin' hearts the school-gals love to try,
With pins,--they'll worry yourn so, boys, bimeby!
But I don't love your cat'logue style,--do you?--
Ez ef to sell off Natur' by vendoo; 100
One word with blood in 't's twice ez good ez two:
'nuff sed, June's bridesman, poet o' the year,
Gladness on wings, the bobolink, is here;
Half-hid in tip-top apple-blooms he swings,
Or climbs aginst the breeze with quiverin' wings,
Or, givin' way to 't in a mock despair,
Runs down, a brook o' laughter, thru the air.
I ollus feel the sap start in my veins
In Spring, with curus heats an' prickly pains
Thet drive me, when I git a chance to walk 110
Off by myself to hev a privit talk
With a queer critter thet can't seem to 'gree
Along o' me like most folks,--Mister Me.
Ther' 's times when I'm unsoshle ez a stone,
An' sort o' suffercate to be alone,--
I'm crowded jes' to think thet folks are nigh,
An' can't bear nothin' closer than the sky;
Now the wind's full ez shifty in the mind
Ez wut it is ou'-doors, ef I ain't blind,
An' sometimes, in the fairest sou'west weather, 120
My innard vane pints east for weeks together,
My natur' gits all goose-flesh, an' my sins
Come drizzlin' on my conscience sharp ez pins:
Wal, et sech times I jes' slip out o' sight
An' take it out in a fair stan'-up fight
With the one cuss I can't lay on the shelf,
The crook'dest stick in all the heap,--Myself.
'Twuz so las' Sabbath arter meetin'-time:
Findin' my feelin's wouldn't noways rhyme
With nobody's, but off the hendle flew 130
An' took things from an east-wind pint o' view,
I started off to lose me in the hills
Where the pines be, up back o' 'Siah's Mills:
Pines, ef you're blue, are the best friends I know,
They mope an' sigh an' sheer your feelin's so,--
They hesh the ground beneath so, tu, I swan,
You half-forgit you've gut a body on.
Ther' 's a small school'us' there where four roads meet,
The door-steps hollered out by little feet,
An' side-posts carved with names whose owners grew 140
To gret men, some on 'em, an' deacons, tu;
'tain't used no longer, coz the town hez gut
A high-school, where they teach the Lord knows wut:
Three-story larnin' 's pop'lar now: I guess
We thriv' ez wal on jes' two stories less,
For it strikes me ther' 's sech a thing ez sinnin'
By overloadin' children's underpinnin':
Wal, here it wuz I larned my ABC,
An' it's a kind o' favorite spot with me.
We're curus critters: Now ain't jes' the minute 150
Thet ever fits us easy while we're in it;
Long ez 'twuz futur', 'twould be perfect bliss,--
Soon ez it's past, _thet_ time's wuth ten o' this;
An' yit there ain't a man thet need be told
Thet Now's the only bird lays eggs o' gold.
A knee-high lad, I used to plot an' plan
An' think 'twuz life's cap-sheaf to be a man:
Now, gittin' gray, there's nothin' I enjoy
Like dreamin' back along into a boy:
So the ole school'us' is a place I choose 160
Afore all others, ef I want to muse;
I set down where I used to set, an' git
My boyhood back, an' better things with it,--
Faith, Hope, an' sunthin', ef it isn't Cherrity,
It's want o' guile, an' thet's ez gret a rerrity,--
While Fancy's cushin', free to Prince and Clown,
Makes the hard bench ez soft ez milk-weed-down.
Now, 'fore I knowed, thet Sabbath arternoon
When I sot out to tramp myself in tune,
I found me in the school'us' on my seat, 170
Drummin' the march to No-wheres with my feet.
Thinkin' o' nothin', I've heerd ole folks say
Is a hard kind o' dooty in its way:
It's thinkin' everythin' you ever knew,
Or ever hearn, to make your feelin's blue.
I sot there tryin' thet on for a spell:
I thought o' the Rebellion, then o' Hell,
Which some folks tell ye now is jest a metterfor
(A the'ry, p'raps, it wun't _feel_ none the better for);
I thought o' Reconstruction, wut we'd win 180
Patchin' our patent self-blow-up agin:
I thought ef this 'ere milkin' o' the wits,
So much a month, warn't givin' Natur' fits,--
Ef folks warn't druv, findin' their own milk fail,
To work the cow thet hez an iron tail,
An' ef idees 'thout ripenin' in the pan
Would send up cream to humor ary man:
From this to thet I let my worryin' creep.
Till finally I must ha' fell asleep.
Our lives in sleep are some like streams thet glide 190
'twixt flesh an' sperrit boundin' on each side,
Where both shores' shadders kind o' mix an' mingle
In sunthin' thet ain't jes' like either single;
An' when you cast off moorin's from To-day,
An' down towards To-morrer drift away,
The imiges thet tengle on the stream
Make a new upside-down'ard world o' dream:
Sometimes they seem like sunrise-streaks an' warnin's
O' wut'll be in Heaven on Sabbath-mornin's,
An', mixed right in ez ef jest out o' spite, 200
Sunthin' thet says your supper ain't gone right.
I'm gret on dreams, an' often when I wake,
I've lived so much it makes my mem'ry ache.
An' can't skurce take a cat-nap in my cheer
'thout hevin' 'em, some good, some bad, all queer.
Now I wuz settin' where I'd ben, it seemed,
An' ain't sure yit whether I r'ally dreamed,
Nor, ef I did, how long I might ha' slep',
When I hearn some un stompin' up the step,
An' lookin' round, ef two an' two make four, 210
I see a Pilgrim Father in the door.
He wore a steeple-hat, tall boots, an' spurs
With rowels to 'em big ez ches'nut-burrs,
An' his gret sword behind him sloped away
Long 'z a man's speech thet dunno wut to say.--
'Ef your name's Biglow, an' your given-name
Hosee,' sez he, 'it's arter you I came:
I'm your gret-gran'ther multiplied by three.'--
'My _wut?_' sez I.--'Your gret-gret-gret,' sez he:
'You wouldn't ha' never ben here but for me. 220
Two hundred an' three year ago this May
The ship I come in sailed up Boston Bay;
I'd been a cunnle in our Civil War,--
But wut on airth hev _you_ gut up one for?
Coz we du things in England, 'tain't for you
To git a notion you can du 'em tu:
I'm told you write in public prints: ef true,
It's nateral you should know a thing or two.'--
'Thet air's an argymunt I can't endorse,--
'twould prove, coz you wear spurs, you kep' a horse: 230
For brains,' sez I, 'wutever you may think,
Ain't boun' to cash the drafs o' pen-an'-ink,--
Though mos' folks write ez ef they hoped jes' quickenin'
The churn would argoo skim-milk into thickenin';
But skim-milk ain't a thing to change its view
O' wut it's meant for more 'n a smoky flue.
But du pray tell me, 'fore we furder go,
How in all Natur' did you come to know
'bout our affairs,' sez I, 'in Kingdom-Come?'--
'Wal, I worked round at sperrit-rappin' some, 240
An' danced the tables till their legs wuz gone,
In hopes o' larnin' wut wuz goin' on,'
Sez he, 'but mejums lie so like all-split
Thet I concluded it wuz best to quit.
But, come now, ef you wun't confess to knowin',
You've some conjectures how the thing's a-goin'.'--
'Gran'ther,' sez I, 'a vane warn't never known
Nor asked to hev a jedgment of its own;
An' yit, ef 'tain't gut rusty in the jints.
It's safe to trust its say on certin pints: 250
It knows the wind's opinions to a T,
An' the wind settles wut the weather'll be.'
'I never thought a scion of our stock
Could grow the wood to make a weather-cock;
When I wuz younger 'n you, skurce more 'n a shaver,
No airthly wind,' sez he, 'could make me waver!'
(Ez he said this, he clinched his jaw an' forehead,
Hitchin' his belt to bring his sword-hilt forrard.)--
'Jes so it wuz with me,' sez I, 'I swow.
When _I_ wuz younger 'n wut you see me now,-- 260
Nothin' from Adam's fall to Huldy's bonnet,
Thet I warn't full-cocked with my jedgment on it;
But now I'm gittin' on in life, I find
It's a sight harder to make up my mind,--
Nor I don't often try tu, when events
Will du it for me free of all expense.
The moral question's ollus plain enough,--
It's jes' the human-natur' side thet's tough;
'Wut's best to think mayn't puzzle me nor you,--
The pinch comes in decidin' wut to _du;_ 270
Ef you _read_ History, all runs smooth ez grease,
Coz there the men ain't nothin' more 'n idees,--
But come to _make_ it, ez we must to-day,
Th' idees hev arms an' legs an' stop the way;
It's easy fixin' things in facts an' figgers,--
They can't resist, nor warn't brought up with niggers;
But come to try your the'ry on,--why, then
Your facts and figgers change to ign'ant men
Actin' ez ugly--'--'Smite 'em hip an' thigh!'
Sez gran'ther, 'and let every man-child die! 280
Oh for three weeks o' Crommle an' the Lord!
Up, Isr'el, to your tents an' grind the sword!'--
'Thet kind o' thing worked wal in ole Judee,
But you forgit how long it's ben A.D.;
You think thet's ellerkence,--I call it shoddy,
A thing,' sez I, 'wun't cover soul nor body;
I like the plain all-wool o' common-sense,
Thet warms ye now, an' will a twelvemonth hence,
_You_ took to follerin' where the Prophets beckoned,
An', fust you knowed on, back come Charles the Second;
Now wut I want's to hev all _we_ gain stick, 291
An' not to start Millennium too quick;
We hain't to punish only, but to keep,
An' the cure's gut to go a cent'ry deep.'
'Wall, milk-an'-water ain't the best o' glue,'
Sez he, 'an' so you'll find afore you're thru;
Ef reshness venters sunthin', shilly-shally
Loses ez often wut's ten times the vally.
Thet exe of ourn, when Charles's neck gut split,
Opened a gap thet ain't bridged over yit: 300
Slav'ry's your Charles, the Lord hez gin the exe'--
'Our Charles,' sez I, 'hez gut eight million necks.
The hardest question ain't the black man's right,
The trouble is to 'mancipate the white;
One's chained in body an' can be sot free,
But t'other's chained in soul to an idee:
It's a long job, but we shall worry thru it;
Ef bagnets fail, the spellin'-book must du it.'
'Hosee,' sez he, 'I think you're goin' to fail:
The rettlesnake ain't dangerous in the tail; 310
This 'ere rebellion's nothing but the rettle,--
You'll stomp on thet an' think you've won the bettle:
It's Slavery thet's the fangs an' thinkin' head,
An' ef you want selvation, cresh it dead,--
An' cresh it suddin, or you'll larn by waitin'
Thet Chance wun't stop to listen to debatin'!'--
'God's truth!' sez I,--'an' ef _I_ held the club,
An' knowed jes' where to strike,--but there's the rub!'--
'Strike soon,' sez he, 'or you'll be deadly ailin',--
Folks thet's afeared to fail are sure o' failin'; 320
God hates your sneakin' creturs thet believe
He'll settle things they run away an' leave!'
He brought his foot down fiercely, ez he spoke,
An' give me sech a startle thet I woke.
LATEST VIEWS OF MR. BIGLOW
[It is with feelings of the liveliest pain that we inform our readers of
the death of the Reverend Homer Wilbur, A.M., which took place suddenly,
by an apoplectic stroke, on the afternoon of Christmas day, 1862. Our
venerable friend (for so we may venture to call him, though we never
enjoyed the high privilege of his personal acquaintance) was in his
eighty-fourth year, having been born June 12, 1779, at Pigsgusset
Precinct (now West Jerusha) in the then District of Maine. Graduated
with distinction at Hubville College in 1805, he pursued his theological
studies with the late Reverend Preserved Thacker, D.D., and was called
to the charge of the First Society in Jaalam in 1809, where he remained
till his death.
'As an antiquary he has probably left no superior, if, indeed, an
equal,' writes his friend and colleague, the Reverend Jeduthun
Hitchcock, to whom we are indebted for the above facts; 'in proof of
which I need only allude to his "History of Jaalam, Genealogical,
Topographical, and Ecclesiastical," 1849, which has won him an eminent
and enduring place in our more solid and useful literature. It is only
to be regretted that his intense application to historical studies
should have so entirely withdrawn him from the pursuit of poetical
composition, for which he was endowed by Nature with a remarkable
aptitude. His well-known hymn, beginning "With clouds of care
encompassed round," has been attributed in some collections to the late
President Dwight, and it is hardly presumptuous to affirm that the
simile of the rainbow in the eighth stanza would do no discredit to that
We regret that we have not room at present for the whole of Mr.
Hitchcock's exceedingly valuable communication. We hope to lay more
liberal extracts from it before our readers at an early day. A summary
of its contents will give some notion of its importance and interest. It
contains: 1st, A biographical sketch of Mr. Wilbur, with notices of his
predecessors in the pastoral office, and of eminent clerical
contemporaries; 2d, An obituary of deceased, from the Punkin-Falls
'Weekly Parallel;' 3d, A list of his printed and manuscript productions
and of projected works; 4th, Personal anecdotes and recollections, with
specimens of table-talk; 5th, A tribute to his relict, Mrs. Dorcas
(Pilcox) Wilbur; 6th, A list of graduates fitted for different colleges
by Mr. Wilbur, with biographical memoranda touching the more
distinguished; 7th, Concerning learned, charitable, and other
societies, of which Mr. Wilbur was a member, and of those with which,
had his life been prolonged, he would doubtless have been associated,
with a complete catalogue of such Americans as have been Fellows of the
Royal Society; 8th, A brief summary of Mr. Wilbur's latest conclusions
concerning the Tenth Horn of the Beast in its special application to
recent events, for which the public, as Mr. Hitchcock assures us, have
been waiting with feelings of lively anticipation; 9th, Mr. Hitchcock's
own views on the same topic; and, 10th, A brief essay on the importance
of local histories. It will be apparent that the duty of preparing Mr.
Wilbur's biography could not have fallen into more sympathetic hands.
In a private letter with which the reverend gentleman has since favored
us, he expresses the opinion that Mr. Wilbur's life was shortened by our
unhappy civil war. It disturbed his studies, dislocated all his habitual
associations and trains of thought, and unsettled the foundations of a
faith, rather the result of habit than conviction, in the capacity of
man for self-government. 'Such has been the felicity of my life,' he
said to Mr. Hitchcock, on the very morning of the day he died, 'that,
through the divine mercy, I could always say, _Summum nec metuo diem,
nec opto_. It has been my habit, as you know, on every recurrence of
this blessed anniversary, to read Milton's "Hymn of the Nativity" till
its sublime harmonies so dilated my soul and quickened its spiritual
sense that I seemed to hear that other song which gave assurance to the
shepherds that there was One who would lead them also in green pastures
and beside the still waters. But to-day I have been unable to think of
anything but that mournful text, "I came not to send peace, but a
sword," and, did it not smack of Pagan presumptuousness, could almost
wish I had never lived to see this day.'
Mr. Hitchcock also informs us that his friend 'lies buried in the Jaalam
graveyard, under a large red-cedar which he specially admired. A neat
and substantial monument is to be erected over his remains, with a Latin
epitaph written by himself; for he was accustomed to say, pleasantly,
"that there was at least one occasion in a scholar's life when he might
show the advantages of a classical training."'
The following fragment of a letter addressed to us, and apparently
intended to accompany Mr. Biglow's contribution to the present number,
was found upon his table after his decease.--EDITORS ATLANTIC MONTHLY.]
TO THE EDITORS OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY
JAALAM, 24th Dec., 1862.
RESPECTED SIRS,--- The infirm state of my bodily health would be a
sufficient apology for not taking up the pen at this time, wholesome as
I deem it for the mind to apricate in the shelter of epistolary
confidence, were it not that a considerable, I might even say a large,
number of individuals in this parish expect from their pastor some
publick expression of sentiment at this crisis. Moreover, _Qui tacitus
ardet magis uritur_. In trying times like these, the besetting sin of
undisciplined minds is to seek refuge from inexplicable realities in the
dangerous stimulant of angry partisanship or the indolent narcotick of
vague and hopeful vaticination: _fortunamque suo temperat arbitrio_.
Both by reason of my age and my natural temperament, I am unfitted for
either. Unable to penetrate the inscrutable judgments of God, I am more
than ever thankful that my life has been prolonged till I could in some
small measure comprehend His mercy. As there is no man who does not at
some time render himself amenable to the one,--_quum vix justus sit
securus_,--so there is none that does not feel himself in daily need of
I confess I cannot feel, as some do, a personal consolation for the
manifest evils of this war in any remote or contingent advantages that
may spring from it. I am old and weak, I can bear little, and can scarce
hope to see better days; nor is it any adequate compensation to know
that Nature is young and strong and can bear much. Old men philosophize
over the past, but the present is only a burthen and a weariness. The
one lies before them like a placid evening landscape; the other is full
of vexations and anxieties of housekeeping. It may be true enough that
_miscet haec illis, prohibetque Clotho fortunam stare_, but he who said
it was fain at last to call in Atropos with her shears before her time;
and I cannot help selfishly mourning that the fortune of our Republick
could not at least stay till my days were numbered.
Tibullus would find the origin of wars in the great exaggeration of
riches, and does not stick to say that in the days of the beechen
trencher there was peace. But averse as I am by nature from all wars,
the more as they have been especially fatal to libraries, I would have
this one go on till we are reduced to wooden platters again, rather than
surrender the principle to defend which it was undertaken. Though I
believe Slavery to have been the cause of it, by so thoroughly
demoralizing Northern politicks for its own purposes as to give
opportunity and hope to treason, yet I would not have our thought and
purpose diverted from their true object,--the maintenance of the idea of
Government. We are not merely suppressing an enormous riot, but
contending for the possibility of permanent order coexisting with
democratical fickleness; and while I would not superstitiously venerate
form to the sacrifice of substance, neither would I forget that an
adherence to precedent and prescription can alone give that continuity
and coherence under a democratical constitution which are inherent in
the person of a despotick monarch and the selfishness of an
aristocratieal class. _Stet pro ratione voluntas_ is as dangerous in a
majority as in a tyrant.
I cannot allow the present production of my young friend to go out
without a protest from me against a certain extremeness in his views,
more pardonable in the poet than in the philosopher. While I agree with
him, that the only cure for rebellion is suppression by force, yet I
must animadvert upon certain phrases where I seem to see a coincidence
with a popular fallacy on the subject of compromise. On the one hand
there are those who do not see that the vital principle of Government
and the seminal principle of Law cannot properly be made a subject of
compromise at all, and on the other those who are equally blind to the
truth that without a compromise of individual opinions, interests, and
even rights, no society would be possible. _In medio tutissimus_. For my
own part, I would gladly--
Ef I a song or two could make
Like rockets druv by their own burnin',
All leap an' light, to leave a wake
Men's hearts an' faces skyward turnin'!--
But, it strikes me, 'tain't jest the time
Fer stringin' words with settisfaction:
Wut's wanted now's the silent rhyme
'Twixt upright Will an' downright Action.
Words, ef you keep 'em, pay their keep,
But gabble's the short cut to ruin; 10
It's gratis, (gals half-price,) but cheap
At no rate, ef it henders doin';
Ther' 's nothin' wuss, 'less 'tis to set
A martyr-prem'um upon jawrin':
Teapots git dangerous, ef you shet
Their lids down on 'em with Fort Warren.
'Bout long enough it's ben discussed
Who sot the magazine afire,
An' whether, ef Bob Wickliffe bust,
'Twould scare us more or blow us higher. 20
D' ye spose the Gret Foreseer's plan
Wuz settled fer him in town-meetin'?
Or thet ther'd ben no Fall o' Man,
Ef Adam'd on'y bit a sweetin'?
Oh, Jon'than, ef you want to be
A rugged chap agin an' hearty,
Go fer wutever'll hurt Jeff D.,
Nut wut'll boost up ary party.
Here's hell broke loose, an' we lay flat
With half the univarse a-singe-in', 30
Till Sen'tor This an' Gov'nor Thet
Stop squabblin' fer the gardingingin.
It's war we're in, not politics;
It's systems wrastlin' now, not parties;
An' victory in the eend'll fix
Where longest will an' truest heart is,
An' wut's the Guv'ment folks about?
Tryin' to hope ther' 's nothin' doin',
An' look ez though they didn't doubt
Sunthin' pertickler wuz a-brewin'. 40
Ther' 's critters yit thet talk an' act
Fer wut they call Conciliation;
They'd hand a buff'lo-drove a tract
When they wuz madder than all Bashan.
Conciliate? it jest means _be kicked_,
No metter how they phrase an' tone it;
It means thet we're to set down licked,
Thet we're poor shotes an' glad to own it!
A war on tick's ez dear 'z the deuce,
But it wun't leave no lastin' traces, 50
Ez 'twould to make a sneakin' truce
Without no moral specie-basis:
Ef greenbacks ain't nut jest the cheese,
I guess ther' 's evils thet's extremer,--
Fer instance,--shinplaster idees
Like them put out by Gov'nor Seymour.
Last year, the Nation, at a word,
When tremblin' Freedom cried to shield her,
Flamed weldin' into one keen sword
Waitin' an' longin' fer a wielder:
A splendid flash!--but how'd the grasp 61
With sech a chance ez thet wuz tally?
Ther' warn't no meanin' in our clasp,--
Half this, half thet, all shilly-shally.
More men? More man! It's there we fail;
Weak plans grow weaker yit by lengthenin':
Wut use in addin' to the tail,
When it's the head's in need o' strengthenin'?
We wanted one thet felt all Chief
From roots o' hair to sole o' stockin', 70
Square-sot with thousan'-ton belief
In him an' us, ef earth went rockin'!
Ole Hick'ry wouldn't ha' stood see-saw
'Bout doin' things till they wuz done with,--
He'd smashed the tables o' the Law
In time o' need to load his gun with;
He couldn't see but jest one side,--
Ef his, 'twuz God's, an' thet wuz plenty;
An' so his '_Forrards!_' multiplied
An army's fightin' weight by twenty. 80
But this 'ere histin', creak, creak, creak,
Your cappen's heart up with a derrick,
This tryin' to coax a lightnin'-streak
Out of a half-discouraged hayrick,
This hangin' on mont' arter mont'
Fer one sharp purpose 'mongst the twitter,--
I tell ye, it doos kind o' stunt
The peth and sperit of a critter.
In six months where'll the People be,
Ef leaders look on revolution 90
Ez though it wuz a cup o' tea,--
Jest social el'ments in solution?
This weighin' things doos wal enough
When war cools down, an' comes to writin';
But while it's makin', the true stuff
Is pison-mad, pig-headed fightin'.
Democ'acy gives every man
The right to be his own oppressor;
But a loose Gov'ment ain't the plan,
Helpless ez spilled beans on a dresser: 100
I tell ye one thing we might larn
From them smart critters, the Seceders,--
Ef bein' right's the fust consarn,
The 'fore-the-fust's cast-iron leaders.
But 'pears to me I see some signs
Thet we're a-goin' to use our senses:
Jeff druv us into these hard lines,
An' ough' to bear his half th' expenses;
Slavery's Secession's heart an' will,
South, North, East, West, where'er you find it, 110
An' ef it drors into War's mill,
D'ye say them thunder-stones sha'n't grind it?
D' ye s'pose, ef Jeff giv _him_ a lick,
Ole Hick'ry'd tried his head to sof'n
So's 'twouldn't hurt thet ebony stick
Thet's made our side see stars so of'n?
'No!' he'd ha' thundered, 'on your knees,
An' own one flag, one road to glory!
Soft-heartedness, in times like these,
Shows sof'ness in the upper story!' 120
An' why should we kick up a muss
About the Pres'dunt's proclamation?
It ain't a-goin' to lib'rate us,
Ef we don't like emancipation:
The right to be a cussed fool
Is safe from all devices human,
It's common (ez a gin'l rule)
To every critter born o' woman.
So _we're_ all right, an' I, fer one,
Don't think our cause'll lose in vally 130
By rammin' Scriptur' in our gun,
An' gittin' Natur' fer an ally:
Thank God, say I, fer even a plan
To lift one human bein's level,
Give one more chance to make a man,
Or, anyhow, to spile a devil!
Not thet I'm one thet much expec'
Millennium by express to-morrer;
They _will_ miscarry,--I rec'lec'
Tu many on 'em, to my sorrer:
Men ain't made angels in a day, 141
No matter how you mould an' labor 'em,
Nor 'riginal ones, I guess, don't stay
With Abe so of'n ez with Abraham.
The'ry thinks Fact a pooty thing,
An' wants the banns read right ensuin';
But fact wun't noways wear the ring,
'Thout years o' settin' up an' wooin':
Though, arter all, Time's dial-plate
Marks cent'ries with the minute-finger, 150
An' Good can't never come tu late,
Though it does seem to try an' linger.
An' come wut will, I think it's grand
Abe's gut his will et last bloom-furnaced
In trial-flames till it'll stand
The strain o' bein' in deadly earnest:
Thet's wut we want,--we want to know
The folks on our side hez the bravery
To b'lieve ez hard, come weal, come woe,
In Freedom ez Jeff doos in Slavery. 160
Set the two forces foot to foot,
An' every man knows who'll be winner,
Whose faith in God hez ary root
Thet goes down deeper than his dinner:
_Then_ 'twill be felt from pole to pole,
Without no need o' proclamation,
Earth's biggest Country's gut her soul
An' risen up Earth's Greatest Nation!
[In the month of February, 1866, the editors of the 'Atlantic Monthly'
received from the Rev. Mr. Hitchcock of Jaalam a letter enclosing the
macaronic verses which follow, and promising to send more, if more
should be communicated. 'They were rapped out on the evening of Thursday
last past,' he says, 'by what claimed to be the spirit of my late
predecessor in the ministry here, the Rev. Dr. Wilbur, through the
medium of a young man at present domiciled in my family. As to the
possibility of such spiritual manifestations, or whether they be
properly so entitled, I express no opinion, as there is a division of
sentiment on that subject in the parish, and many persons of the highest
respectability in social standing entertain opposing views. The young
man who was improved as a medium submitted himself to the experiment
with manifest reluctance, and is still unprepared to believe in the
authenticity of the manifestations. During his residence with me his
deportment has always been exemplary; he has been constant in his
attendance upon our family devotions and the public ministrations of the
Word, and has more than once privately stated to me, that the latter had
often brought him under deep concern of mind. The table is an ordinary
quadrupedal one, weighing about thirty pounds, three feet seven inches
and a half in height, four feet square on the top, and of beech or
maple, I am not definitely prepared to say which. It had once belonged
to my respected predecessor, and had been, so far as I can learn upon
careful inquiry, of perfectly regular and correct habits up to the
evening in question. On that occasion the young man previously alluded
to had been sitting with his hands resting carelessly upon it, while I
read over to him at his request certain portions of my last Sabbath's
discourse. On a sudden the rappings, as they are called, commenced to
render themselves audible, at first faintly, but in process of time more
distinctly and with violent agitation of the table. The young man
expressed himself both surprised and pained by the wholly unexpected,
and, so far as he was concerned, unprecedented occurrence. At the
earnest solicitation, however, of several who happened to be present, he
consented to go on with the experiment, and with the assistance of the
alphabet commonly employed in similar emergencies, the following
communication was obtained and written down immediately by myself.
Whether any, and if so, how much weight should be attached to it, I
venture no decision. That Dr. Wilbur had sometimes employed his leisure
in Latin versification I have ascertained to be the case, though all
that has been discovered of that nature among his papers consists of
some fragmentary passages of a version into hexameters of portions of
the Song of Solomon. These I had communicated about a week or ten days
previous[ly] to the young gentleman who officiated as medium in the
communication afterwards received. I have thus, I believe, stated all
the material facts that have any elucidative bearing upon this
So far Mr. Hitchcock, who seems perfectly master of Webster's
unabridged quarto, and whose flowing style leads him into certain
farther expatiations for which we have not room. We have since learned
that the young man he speaks of was a sophomore, put under his care
during a sentence of rustication from ---- College, where he had
distinguished himself rather by physical experiments on the comparative
power of resistance in window-glass to various solid substances, than in
the more regular studies of the place. In answer to a letter of inquiry,
the professor of Latin says, 'There was no harm in the boy that I know
of beyond his loving mischief more than Latin, nor can I think of any
spirits likely to possess him except those commonly called animal. He
was certainly not remarkable for his Latinity, but I see nothing in the
verses you enclose that would lead me to think them beyond his capacity,
or the result of any special inspiration whether of beech or maple. Had
that of _birch_ been tried upon him earlier and more faithfully, the
verses would perhaps have been better in quality and certainly in
quantity.' This exact and thorough scholar then goes on to point out
many false quantities and barbarisms. It is but fair to say, however,
that the author, whoever he was, seems not to have been unaware of some
of them himself, as is shown by a great many notes appended to the
verses as we received them, and purporting to be by Scaliger, Bentley,
and others,--among them the _Esprit de Voltaire_! These we have omitted
as clearly meant to be humorous and altogether failing therein.
Though entirely satisfied that the verses are altogether unworthy of Mr.
Wilbur, who seems to Slave been a tolerable Latin scholar after the
fashion of his day, yet we have determined to print them here, partly as
belonging to the _res gestae_ of this collection, and partly as a
warning to their putative author which may keep him from such indecorous
pranks for the future.]
P. Ovidii Nasonis carmen heroicum macaronicum perplexametrum, inter
Getas getico moro compostum, denuo per medium ardentispiritualem
adjuvante mensa diabolice obsessa, recuperatum, curaque Jo. Conradi
Schwarzii umbrae, allis necnon plurimis adjuvantibus, restitutum.
Punctorum garretos colens et cellara Quinque,
Gutteribus quae et gaudes sunday-am abstingere frontem,
Plerumque insidos solita fluitare liquore
Tanglepedem quem homines appellant Di quoque rotgut,
Pimpliidis, rubicundaque, Musa, O, bourbonolensque,
Fenianas rixas procul, alma, brogipotentis
Patricii cyathos iterantis et horrida bella,
Backos dum virides viridis Brigitta remittit,
Linquens, eximios celebrem, da, Virginienses
Rowdes, praecipue et TE, heros alte, Polarde! 10
Insignes juvenesque, illo certamine lictos,
Colemane, Tylere, nec vos oblivione relinquam.
Ampla aquilae invictae fausto est sub tegmine terra,
Backyfer, ooiskeo pollens, ebenoque bipede,
Socors praesidum et altrix (denique quidruminantium),
Duplefveorum uberrima; illis et integre cordi est
Deplere assidue et sine proprio incommodo fiscum;
Nunc etiam placidum hoc opus invictique secuti,
Goosam aureos ni eggos voluissent immo necare
Quae peperit, saltem ac de illis meliora merentem. 20
Condidit hanc Smithius Dux, Captinus inclytus ille
Regis Ulyssae instar, docti arcum intendere longum;
Condidit ille Johnsmith, Virginiamque vocavit,
Settledit autem Jacobus rex, nomine primus,
Rascalis implens ruptis, blagardisque deboshtis,
Militibusque ex Falstaffi legione fugatis
Wenchisque illi quas poterant seducere nuptas;
Virgineum, ah, littus matronis talibus impar!
Progeniem stirpe ex hoc non sine stigmate ducunt
Multi sese qui jactant regum esse nepotes: 30
Haud omnes, Mater, genitos quae nuper habebas
Bello fortes, consilio cautos, virtute decoros,
Jamque et habes, sparso si patrio in sanguine virtus,
Mostrabisque iterum, antiquis sub astris reducta!
De illis qui upkikitant, dicebam, rumpora tanta,
Letcheris et Floydis magnisque Extra ordine Billis;
Est his prisca fides jurare et breakere wordum:
Poppere fellerum a tergo, aut stickere clam bowiknifo,
Haud sane facinus, dignum sed victrice lauro;
Larrupere et nigerum, factum praestantius ullo: 40
Ast chlamydem piciplumatam, Icariam, flito et ineptam,
Yanko gratis induere, illum et valido railo
Insuper acri equitare docere est hospitio uti.
Nescio an ille Polardus duplefveoribus ortus,
Sed reputo potius de radice poorwitemanorum;
Fortuiti proles, ni fallor, Tylerus erat
Praesidis, omnibus ab Whiggis nominatus a poor cuss;
Et nobilem tertium evincit venerabile nomen.
Ast animosi omnes bellique ad tympana ha! ha!
Vociferant laeti, procul et si proelia, sive 50
Hostem incautum atsito possint shootere salvi;
Imperiique capaces, esset si stylus agmen,
Pro dulci spoliabant et sine dangere fito.
Prae ceterisque Polardus: si Secessia licta,
Se nunquam licturum jurat res et unheardof,
Verbo haesit, similisque audaci roosteri invicto,
Dunghilli solitus rex pullos whoppere molles,
Grantum, hirelingos stripes quique et splendida tollunt
Sidera, et Yankos, territum et omnem sarsuit orbem.
Usque dabant operam isti omnes, noctesque diesque, 60
Samuelem demulgere avunculum, id vero siccum;
Uberibus sed ejus, et horum est culpa, remotis,
Parvam domi vaccam, nec mora minima, quaerunt,
Lacticarentem autem et droppam vix in die dantem;
Reddite avunculi, et exclamabant, reddite pappam!
Polko ut consule, gemens, Billy immurmurat Extra;
Echo respondit, thesauro ex vacuo, pappam!
Frustra explorant pocketa, ruber nare repertum;
Officia expulsi aspiciunt rapta, et Paradisum
Occlusum, viridesque Laud illis nascere backos; 70
Stupent tunc oculis madidis spittantque silenter.
Adhibere usu ast longo vires prorsus inepti,
Si non ut qui grindeat axve trabemve reuolvat,
Virginiam excruciant totis nunc mightibu' matrem;
Non melius, puta, nono panis dimidiumne est?
Readere ibi non posse est casus commoner ullo;