Part 8 out of 21
the starry deeps, the empyrean glooms, and far-flashing splendors await.
* * * * *
_From the Onion Grove Phoenix._
A talented young townsman of ours, recently returned from a Continental
tour, and who is already favorably known to our readers by his sprightly
letters from abroad which have graced our columns, called at our office
yesterday. We learn from him, that, having enjoyed the distinguished
privilege, while in Germany, of an introduction to the celebrated Von
Humbug, he took the opportunity to present that eminent man with a copy
of the 'Biglow Papers.' The next morning he received the following note,
which he has kindly furnished us for publication. We prefer to print it
_verbatim_, knowing that our readers will readily forgive the few errors
into which the lllustrious writer has fallen, through ignorance of our
'I shall also now especially happy starve, because I have more or less a
work of one those aboriginal Red-Men seen in which have I so deaf an
interest ever taken full-worthy on the self shelf with our Gottsched to
'Pardon my in the English-speech un-practice!
He also sent with the above note a copy of his famous work on
'Cosmetics,' to be presented to Mr. Biglow; but this was taken from our
friend by the English custom-house officers, probably through a petty
national spite. No doubt, it has by this time found its way into the
British Museum. We trust this outrage will be exposed in all our
American papers. We shall do our best to bring it to the notice of the
State Department. Our numerous readers will share in the pleasure we
experience at seeing our young and vigorous national literature thus
encouragingly patted on the head by this venerable and world-renowned
German. We love to see these reciprocations of good-feeling between the
different branches of the great Anglo-Saxon race.
[The following genuine 'notice' having met my eye, I gladly insert a
portion of it here, the more especially as it contains one of Mr.
Biglow's poems not elsewhere printed.--H.W.]
_From the Jaalam Independent Blunderbuss._
... But, while we lament to see our young townsman thus mingling in the
heated contests of party politics, we think we detect in him the
presence of talents which, if properly directed, might give an innocent
pleasure to many. As a proof that he is competent to the production of
other kinds of poetry, we copy for our readers a short fragment of a
pastoral by him, the manuscript of which was loaned us by a friend. The
title of it is 'The Courtin'.'
Zekle crep' up, quite unbeknown,
An' peeked in thru the winder,
An' there sot Huldy all alone,
'ith no one nigh to hender.
Agin' the chimbly crooknecks hung,
An' in amongst 'em rusted
The ole queen's-arm thet gran'ther Young
Fetched back frum Concord busted.
The wannut logs shot sparkles out
Towards the pootiest, bless her!
An' leetle fires danced all about
The chlny on the dresser.
The very room, coz she wuz in,
Looked warm frum floor to ceilin',
An' she looked full ez rosy agin
Ez th' apples she wuz peelin'.
She heerd a foot an' knowed it, tu,
Araspin' on the scraper,--
All ways to once her feelins flew
Like sparks in burnt-up paper.
He kin' o' l'itered on the mat,
Some doubtfle o' the seekle;
His heart kep' goin' pitypat,
But hern went pity Zekle.
An' yet she gin her cheer a jerk
Ez though she wished him furder,
An' on her apples kep' to work
Ez ef a wager spurred her.
'You want to see my Pa, I spose?'
'Wall, no; I come designin'--'
'To see my Ma? She's sprinklin' clo'es
Agin to-morrow's i'nin'.'
He stood a spell on one foot fust,
Then stood a spell on tother,
An' on which one he felt the wust
He couldn't ha' told ye, nuther.
Sez he, 'I'd better call agin;'
Sez she,'Think likely, _Mister;_'
The last word pricked him like a pin,
An'--wal, he up and kist her.
When Ma bimeby upon 'em slips,
Huldy sot pale ez ashes,
All kind o'smily round the lips
An' teary round the lashes.
Her blood riz quick, though, like the tide
Down to the Bay o' Fundy,
An' all I know is they wuz cried
In meetin', come nex Sunday.
SATIS multis sese emptores futuros libri professis, Georgius Nichols,
Cantabrigiensis, opus emittet de parte gravi sed adhuc neglecta
historiae naturalis, cum titulo sequente, videlicet:
_Conatus ad Delineationem naturalem nonnihil perfectiorem Scarabaei
Bombilatoris, vulgo dicti_ HUMBUG, ab HOMERO WILBUR, Artium Magistro,
Societatis historico-naturalis Jaalamensis Praeside (Secretario,
Socioque (eheu!) singulo), multarumque aliarum Societatum eruditarum
(sive ineruditarum) tam domesticarum quam transmarinarum Socio--forsitan
LECTORI BENEVOLO S.
Toga scholastica nondum deposita, quum systemata varia entomologica, a
viris ejus scientiae cultoribus studiosissimis summa diligentia
aedificata, penitus indagassem, non fuit quin luctuose omnibus in iis,
quamvis aliter laude dignissimis, hiatum magni momenti perciperem. Tunc,
nescio quo motu superiore impulsus, aut qua captus dulcedine operis, ad
eum implendum (Curtius alter) me solemniter devovi. Nec ab isto labore,
[Greek: daimonios] imposito, abstinui antequam tractatulum sufficienter
inconcinnum lingua vernacula perfeceram. Inde, juveniliter tumefactus,
et barathro ineptiae [Greek: ton bibliopolon] (necnon 'Publici
Legentis') nusquam explorato, me composuisse quod quasi placentas
praefervidas (ut sic dicam) homines ingurgitarent credidi. Sed, quum
huic et alio bibliopolae MSS. mea submisissem et nihil solidius
responsione valde negativa in Musaeum meum retulissem, horror ingens
atque misericordia, ob crassitudinem Lambertianam in cerebris
homunculorum istius muneris coelesti quadam ira infixam, me invasere.
Extemplo mei solius impensis librum edere decrevi, nihil omnino dubitans
quin 'Mundus Scientificus' (ut aiunt) crumenam meam ampliter repleret.
Nullam, attamen, ex agro illo meo parvulo segetem demessui praeter
gaudium vacuum bene de Republica merendi. Iste panis meus pretiosus
super aquas literarias faeculentas praefidenter jactus, quasi Harpyiaram
quarundam (scilicet bibliopolarum istorum facinorosorum supradictorum)
tactu rancidus, intra perpaucos dies mihi domum rediit. Et, quum ipse
tali victu ali non tolerarem, primum in mentem venit pistori (typographo
nempe) nihilominus solvendum esse. Animum non idcirco demisi, imo aeque
ac pueri naviculas suas penes se lino retinent (eo ut e recto cursu
delapsas ad ripam retrahant), sic ego Arga meam chartaceam fluctibus
laborantem a quaesitu velleris aurei, ipse potius tonsus pelleque
exutus, mente solida revocavi. Metaphoram ut mutem, _boomarangam_ meam a
scopo aberrantem, retraxi, dum majore vi, occasione ministrante,
adversus Fortunam intorquerem. Ast mihi, talia volventi, et, sicut
Saturnus ille [Greek: paidoboros], liberos intellectus mei depascere
fidenti, casus miserandus, nec antea inauditus, supervenit. Nam, ut
ferunt Scythas pietatis causa et parsimoniae, parentes suos mortuos
devorasse, sic filius hic meus primogenitus, Scythis ipsis minus
mansuetus, patrem vivum totum et calcitrantem exsorbere enixus est. Nec
tamen hac de causa sobolem meam esurientem exheredavi. Sed famem istam
pro valido testimonio virilitatis roborisque potius habui, cibumque ad
eam satiandam, salva paterna mea carne, petii. Et quia bilem illam
scaturientem ad aes etiam concoquendum idoneam esse estimabam, unde aes
alienum, ut minoris pretii, haberem, circumspexi. Rebus ita se
habentibus, ab avunculo meo Johanne Doolittie, Armigero, impetravi ut
pecunias necessarias suppeditaret, ne opus esset mihi universitatem
relinquendi antequam ad gradum primum in artibus pervenissem. Tune ego,
salvum facere patronum meum munificum maxime cupiens, omnes libros
primae editionis operis mei non venditos una cum privilegio in omne
aevum ejusdem imprimendi et edendi avunculo meo dicto pigneravi. Ex illo
die, atro lapide notando, curae vociferantes familiae singulis annis
crescentis eo usque insultabant ut nunquam tam carum pignus e vinculis
istis aheneis solvere possem.
Avunculo vero nuper mortuo, quum inter alios consanguineos testamenti
ejus lectionem audiendi causa advenissem, erectis auribus verba talia
sequentia accepi: 'Quoniam persuasum habeo meum dilectum nepotem
Homerum, longa et intima rerum angustarum domi experientia, aptissimum
esse qui divitias tueatur, beneficenterque ac prudenter iis divinis
creditis utatur,--ergo, motus hisce cogitationibus, exque amore meo in
illum magno, do, legoque nepoti caro meo supranominato omnes
singularesque istas possessiones nec ponderabiles nec computabiles meas
quae sequuntur, scilicet: quingentos libros quos mihi pigneravit dictus
Homerus, anno lucis 1792, cum privilegio edendi et repetendi opus istud
"scientificum" (quod dicunt) suum, si sic elegerit. Tamen D.O.M, precor
oculos Homeri nepotis mei ita aperiat eumque moveat, ut libros istos in
bibliotheca unius e plurimis castellis suis Hispaniensibus tuto
His verbis vix credibilibus, auditis, cor meum in pectore exsultavit.
Deinde, quoniam tractatus Anglice scriptus spem auctoris fefellerat,
quippe quum studium Historiae Naturalis in Republica nostra inter
factionis strepitum languescat, Latine versum edere statui, et eo potius
quia nescio quomodo disciplina academica et duo diplomata proficiant,
nisi quod peritos linguarum omnino mortuarum (et damnandarum, ut dicebat
iste [Greek: panourgos] Guilielmus Cobbett) nos faciant.
Et mihi adhue superstes est tota illa editio prima, quam quasi
crepitaculum per quod dentes caninos dentibam retineo.
* * * * *
(_Ad exemplum Johannis Physiophili speciminis Monachologiae_)
12. S.B. _Militaris_, WILBUR. _Carnifex_, JABLONSK. _Profanus_, DESFONT.
[Male hanece speciem _Cyclopem_ Fabricius vocat, ut qui singulo oculo ad
quod sui interest distinguitur. Melius vero Isaacus Outis nullum inter
S. milit. S. que Belzebul (Fabric. 152) discrimen esse defendit]
Habitat civitat. Americ. austral.
Aureis lineis splendidus; plerumque tamen sordidus, utpote lanienas
valde frequentans, foetore sanguinis allectus. Amat quoque insuper septa
apricari, neque inde, nisi maxima conatione detruditur. _Candidatus_
ergo populariter vocatus. Caput cristam quasi pennarum ostendit. Pro
cibo vaccam publicam callide mulget; abdomen enorme; facultas suctus
haud facile estimanda. Otiosus, fatuus; ferox nihilominus, semperque
dimicare paratus. Tortuose repit.
Capite saepe maxima cum cura dissecto, ne illud rudimentum etiam cerebri
commune omnibus prope insectis detegere poteram.
Unam de hoc S. milit. rem singularem notavi; nam S. Guineens. (Fabric.
143) servos facit, et idcirco a multis summa in reverentia habitus,
quasi scintillas rationis paene humanae demonstrans.
24. S.B. _Criticus_, WILBUR. _Zoilus_, FABRIC. _Pygmaeus_, CARLSEN.
[Stultissime Johannes Stryx cum S. punctato (Fabric. 64-109) confundit.
Specimina quamplurima scrutationi microscopicae subjeci, nunquam tamen
unum ulla indicia puncti cujusvis prorsus ostendentem inveni.]
Praecipue formidolosus, insectatusque, in proxima rima anonyma sese
abscondit, _we, we_, creberrime stridens. Ineptus, segnipes.
Habitat ubique gentium; in sicco; nidum suum terebratione indefessa
aedificans. Cibus. Libros depascit; siccos praecipue.
* * * * *
WITH AN INTRODUCTION, NOTES, GLOSSARY, AND COPIOUS INDEX,
HOMER WILBUR, A.M.,
PASTOR OF THE FIRST CHURCH IN JAALAM, AND (PROSPECTIVE) MEMBER OF
MANY LITERARY, LEARNED, AND SCIENTIFIC SOCIETIES,
(_for which see page 227_.)
The ploughman's whistle, or the trivial flute,
Finds more respect than great Apollo's lute.
_Quarles's Emblems_, B. ii. E. 8.
Margaritas, munde porcine, calcasti: en, siliquas accipe.
_Jac. Car. Fil. ad Pub. Leg._ Section 1.
NOTE TO TITLE-PAGE
It will not have escaped the attentive eye, that I have, on the
title-page, omitted those honorary appendages to the editorial name
which not only add greatly to the value of every book, but whet and
exacerbate the appetite of the reader. For not only does he surmise that
an honorary membership of literary and scientific societies implies a
certain amount of necessary distinction on the part of the recipient of
such decorations, but he is willing to trust himself more entirely to an
author who writes under the fearful responsibility of involving the
reputation of such bodies as the _S. Archaeol. Dahom._ or the _Acad.
Lit. et Scient. Kamtschat_. I cannot but think that the early editions
of Shakespeare and Milton would have met with more rapid and general
acceptance, but for the barrenness of their respective title-pages; and
I believe that, even now, a publisher of the works of either of those
justly distinguished men would find his account in procuring their
admission to the membership of learned bodies on the Continent,--a
proceeding no whit more incongruous than the reversal of the judgment
against Socrates, when he was already more than twenty centuries beyond
the reach of antidotes, and when his memory had acquired a deserved
respectability. I conceive that it was a feeling of the importance of
this precaution which induced Mr. Locke to style himself 'Gent.' on the
title-page of his Essay, as who should say to his readers that they
could receive his metaphysics on the honor of a gentleman.
Nevertheless, finding that, without descending to a smaller size of type
than would have been compatible with the dignity of the several
societies to be named, I could not compress my intended list within the
limits of a single page, and thinking, moreover, that the act would
carry with it an air of decorous modesty, I have chosen to take the
reader aside, as it were, into my private closet, and there not only
exhibit to him the diplomas which I already possess, but also to furnish
him with a prophetic vision of those which I may, without undue
presumption, hope for, as not beyond the reach of human ambition and
attainment. And I am the rather induced to this from the fact that my
name has been unaccountably dropped from the last triennial catalogue of
our beloved _Alma Mater_. Whether this is to be attributed to the
difficulty of Latinizing any of those honorary adjuncts (with a complete
list of which I took care to furnish the proper persons nearly a year
beforehand), or whether it had its origin in any more culpable motives,
I forbear to consider in this place, the matter being in course of
painful investigation. But, however this may be, I felt the omission the
more keenly, as I had, in expectation of the new catalogue, enriched the
library of the Jaalam Athenaeum with the old one then in my possession,
by which means it has come about that my children will be deprived of a
never-wearying winter evening's amusement in looking out the name of
their parent in that distinguished roll. Those harmless innocents had at
least committed no--but I forbear, having intrusted my reflections and
animadversions on this painful topic to the safe-keeping of my private
diary, intended for posthumous publication. I state this fact here, in
order that certain nameless individuals, who are, perhaps, overmuch
congratulating themselves upon my silence, may know that a rod is in
pickle which the vigorous hand of a justly incensed posterity will apply
to their memories.
The careful reader will note that, in the list which I have prepared, I
have included the names of several Cisatlantic societies to which a
place is not commonly assigned in processions of this nature. I have
ventured to do this, not only to encourage native ambition and genius,
but also because I have never been able to perceive in what way distance
(unless we suppose them at the end of a lever) could increase the weight
of learned bodies. As far as I have been able to extend my researches
among such stuffed specimens as occasionally reach America, I have
discovered no generic difference between the antipodal _Fogrum
Japonicum_ and the _F. Americanum_, sufficiently common in our own
immediate neighborhood. Yet, with a becoming deference to the popular
belief that distinctions of this sort are enhanced in value by every
additional mile they travel, I have intermixed the names of some
tolerably distant literary and other associations with the rest.
I add here, also, an advertisement, which, that it may be the more
readily understood by those persons especially interested therein, I
have written in that curtailed and otherwise maltreated canine Latin, to
the writing and reading of which they are accustomed.
OMNIB. PER TOT. ORB. TERRAR. CATALOG. ACADEM, EDD.
Minim. gent, diplom. ab inclytiss. acad. vest. orans, vir. honorand.
operosiss., at sol. ut sciat. quant. glor. nom. meum (dipl. fort.
concess.) catal. vest. temp. futur. affer., ill. subjec., addit. omnib.
titul. honorar. qu. adh. non tant. opt. quam probab. put.
*** _Litt. Uncial, distinx. ut Praes. S. Hist. Nat. Jaal_.
HOMERUS WILBUR, Mr., Episc. Jaalam, S.T.D. 1850, et Yal. 1849, et
Neo-Caes. et Brun. et Gulielm. 1852, et Gul. et Mar. et Bowd. et
Georgiop. et Viridimont. et Columb. Nov. Ebor. 1853, et Amherst. et
Watervill. et S. Jarlath. Hib. et S. Mar. et S. Joseph, et S. And. Scot.
1854. et Nashvill. et Dart. et Dickins. et Concord. et Wash. et
Columbian. et Charlest. et Jeff. et Dubl. et Oxon. et Cantab. et Caet.
1855. P.U.N.C.H. et J.U.D. Gott. et Osnab. et Heidelb. 1860, et Acad.
BORE US. Berolin. Soc., et SS. RR. Lugd. Bat. et Patav. et Lond. et
Edinb. et Ins. Feejee. et Null. Terr. et Pekin. Soc. Hon. et S.H.S et
S.P.A. et A.A.S. et S. Humb. Univ. et S. Omn. Rer. Quarund. q. Aliar.
Promov. Passamaquod. et H.P.C. et I.O.H, et [Greek: A.D.Ph.] et
[Greek: P.K.P.] et [Greek: Ph.B.K.] et Peucin. et Erosoph. et
Philadelph. et Frat. in Unit. et [Greek: S.T.] et S. Archaeolog.
Athen. et Acad. Scient, et Lit. Panorm. et SS.R.H. Matrit. et
Beeloochist. et Caffrar. et Caribb. et M.S. Reg. Paris, et S. Am.
Antiserv. Soc. Hon. et P.D. Gott. et LL.D. 1852, et D.C.L. et Mus. Doc.
Oxon. 1860, et M.M.S.S. et M.D. 1854, et Med. Fac. Univ. Harv. Soc. et
S. pro Convers. Pollywog. Soc. Hon. et Higgl. Piggl. et LL.B. 1853, et
S. pro Christianiz. Moschet. Soc. et SS. Ante-Diluv. ubiq. Gent. Soc.
Hon. et Civit. Cleric. Jaalam. et S. pro Diffus. General. Tenebr.
When, more than three years ago, my talented young parishioner, Mr.
Biglow, came to me and submitted to my animadversions the first of his
poems which he intended to commit to the more hazardous trial of a city
newspaper, it never so much as entered my imagination to conceive that
his productions would ever be gathered into a fair volume, and ushered
into the august presence of the reading public by myself.
So little are we short-sighted mortals able to predict the event! I
confess that there is to me a quite new satisfaction in being associated
(though only as sleeping partner) in a book which can stand by itself in
an independent unity on the shelves of libraries. For there is always
this drawback from the pleasure of printing a sermon, that, whereas the
queasy stomach of this generation will not bear a discourse long enough
to make a separate volume, those religious and godly-minded children
(those Samuels, if I may call them so) of the brain must at first be
buried in an undistinguished heap, and then get such resurrection as is
vouchsafed to them, mummy-wrapped with a score of others in a cheap
binding, with no other mark of distinction than the word
'_Miscellaneous_' printed upon the back. Far be it from me to claim any
credit for the quite unexpected popularity which I am pleased to find
these bucolic strains have attained unto. If I know myself, I am
measurably free from the itch of vanity; yet I may be allowed to say
that I was not backward to recognize in them a certain wild, puckery,
acidulous (sometimes even verging toward that point which, in our rustic
phrase, is termed _shut-eyed_) flavor, not wholly unpleasing, nor
unwholesome, to palates cloyed with the sugariness of tamed and
cultivated fruit. It may be, also, that some touches of my own, here and
there, may have led to their wider acceptance, albeit solely from my
larger experience of literature and authorship.
I was at first inclined to discourage Mr. Biglow's attempts, as knowing
that the desire to poetize is one of the diseases naturally incident to
adolescence, which, if the fitting remedies be not at once and with a
bold hand applied, may become chronic, and render one, who might else
have become in due time an ornament of the social circle, a painful
object even to nearest friends and relatives. But thinking, on a further
experience that there was a germ of promise in him which required only
culture and the pulling up of weeds from about it, I thought it best to
set before him the acknowledged examples of English composition in
verse, and leave the rest to natural emulation. With this view, I
accordingly lent him some volumes of Pope and Goldsmith, to the
assiduous study of which he promised to devote his evenings. Not long
afterward, he brought me some verses written upon that model, a specimen
of which I subjoin, having changed some phrases of less elegancy, and a
few rhymes objectionable to the cultivated ear. The poem consisted of
childish reminiscences, and the sketches which follow will not seem
destitute of truth to those whose fortunate education began in a country
village. And, first, let us hang up his charcoal portrait of the
'Propped on the marsh, a dwelling now, I see
The humble school-house of my A, B, C,
Where well-drilled urchins, each behind his tire,
Waited in ranks the wished command to fire,
Then all together, when the signal came,
Discharged their _a-b abs_ against the dame.
Daughter of Danaus, who could daily pour
In treacherous pipkins her Pierian store,
She, mid the volleyed learning firm and calm,
Patted the furloughed ferule on her palm,
And, to our wonder, could divine at once
Who flashed the pan, and who was downright dunce.
'There young Devotion learned to climb with ease
The gnarly limbs of Scripture family-trees,
And he was most commended and admired
Who soonest to the topmost twig perspired;
Each name was called as many various ways
As pleased the reader's ear on different days,
So that the weather, or the ferule's stings,
Colds in the head, or fifty other things,
Transformed the helpless Hebrew thrice a week
To guttural Pequot or resounding Greek,
The vibrant accent skipping here and there,
Just as it pleased invention or despair;
No controversial Hebraist was the Dame;
With or without the points pleased her the same;
If any tyro found a name too tough.
And looked at her, pride furnished skill enough;
She nerved her larynx for the desperate thing,
And cleared the five-barred syllables at a spring.
'Ah, dear old times! there once it was my hap,
Perched on a stool, to wear the long-eared cap;
From books degraded, there I sat at ease,
A drone, the envy of compulsory bees;
Rewards of merit, too, full many a time,
Each with its woodcut and its moral rhyme,
And pierced half-dollars hung on ribbons gay
About my neck (to be restored next day)
I carried home, rewards as shining then
As those that deck the lifelong pains of men,
More solid than the redemanded praise
With which the world beribbons later days.
'Ah, dear old times! how brightly ye return!
How, rubbed afresh, your phosphor traces burn!
The ramble schoolward through dewsparkling meads,
The willow-wands turned Cinderella steeds,
The impromptu pin-bent hook, the deep remorse
O'er the chance-captured minnow's inchlong corse;
The pockets, plethoric with marbles round,
That still a space for ball and peg-top found,
Nor satiate yet, could manage to confine
Horsechestnuts, flagroot, and the kite's wound twine,
Nay, like the prophet's carpet could take in,
Enlarging still, the popgun's magazine;
The dinner carried in the small tin pail,
Shared with some dog, whose most beseeching tail
And dripping tongue and eager ears belied
The assumed indifference of canine pride;
The caper homeward, shortened if the cart
Of Neighbor Pomeroy, trundling from the mart,
O'ertook me,--then, translated to the seat
I praised the steed, how stanch he was and fleet,
While the bluff farmer, with superior grin,
Explained where horses should be thick, where thin,
And warned me (joke he always had in store)
To shun a beast that four white stockings wore.
What a fine natural courtesy was his!
His nod was pleasure, and his full bow bliss;
How did his well-thumbed hat, with ardor rapt,
Its curve decorous to each rank adapt!
How did it graduate with a courtly ease
The whole long scale of social differences,
Yet so gave each his measure running o'er,
None thought his own was less, his neighbor's more;
The squire was flattered, and the pauper knew
Old times acknowledged 'neath the threadbare blue!
Dropped at the corner of the embowered lane,
Whistling I wade the knee-deep leaves again,
While eager Argus, who has missed all day
The sharer of his condescending play,
Comes leaping onward with a bark elate
And boisterous tail to greet me at the gate;
That I was true in absence to our love
Let the thick dog's-ears in my primer prove.'
I add only one further extract, which will possess a melancholy interest
to all such as have endeavored to glean the materials of revolutionary
history from the lips of aged persons, who took a part in the actual
making of it, and, finding the manufacture profitable, continued the
supply in an adequate proportion to the demand.
'Old Joe is gone, who saw hot Percy goad
His slow artillery lip the Concord road,
A tale which grew in wonder, year by year,
As, every time he told it, Joe drew near
To the main fight, till, faded and grown gray,
The original scene to bolder tints gave way;
Then Joe had heard the foe's scared double-quick
Beat on stove drum with one un-captured stick,
And, ere death came the lengthening tale to lop,
Himself had fired, and seen a redcoat drop;
Had Joe lived long enough, that scrambling fight
Had squared more nearly with his sense of right,
And vanquished Percy, to complete the tale,
Had hammered stone for life in Concord jail.'
I do not know that the foregoing extracts ought not to be called my own
rather than Mr. Biglow's, as, indeed, he maintained stoutly that my file
had left nothing of his in them. I should not, perhaps, have felt
entitled to take so great liberties with them, had I not more than
suspected an hereditary vein of poetry in myself, a very near ancestor
having written a Latin poem in the Harvard _Gratulatio_ on the accession
of George the Third. Suffice it to say, that, whether not satisfied with
such limited approbation as I could conscientiously bestow, or from a
sense of natural inaptitude, certain it is that my young friend could
never be induced to any further essays in this kind. He affirmed that it
was to him like writing in a foreign tongue,--that Mr. Pope's
versification was like the regular ticking of one of Willard's clocks,
in which one could fancy, after long listening, a certain kind of rhythm
or tune, but which yet was only a poverty-stricken _tick, tick_, after
all,--and that he had never seen a sweet-water on a trellis growing so
fairly, or in forms so pleasing to his eye, as a fox-grape over a
scrub-oak in a swamp. He added I know not what, to the effect that the
sweet-water would only be the more disfigured by having its leaves
starched and ironed out, and that Pegasus (so he called him) hardly
looked right with his mane and tail in curl-papers. These and other such
opinions I did not long strive to eradicate, attributing them rather to
a defective education and senses untuned by too long familiarity with
purely natural objects, than to a perverted moral sense. I was the more
inclined to this leniency since sufficient evidence was not to seek,
that his verses, wanting as they certainly were in classic polish and
point, had somehow taken hold of the public ear in a surprising manner.
So, only setting him right as to the quantity of the proper name
Pegasus, I left him to follow the bent of his natural genius.
Yet could I not surrender him wholly to the tutelage of the pagan
(which, literally interpreted, signifies village) muse without yet a
further effort for his conversion, and to this end I resolved that
whatever of poetic fire yet burned in myself, aided by the assiduous
bellows of correct models, should be put in requisition. Accordingly,
when my ingenious young parishioner brought to my study a copy of verses
which he had written touching the acquisition of territory resulting
from the Mexican war, and the folly of leaving the question of slavery
or freedom to the adjudication of chance, I did myself indite a short
fable or apologue after the manner of Gay and Prior, to the end that he
might see how easily even such subjects as he treated of were capable of
a more refined style and more elegant expression. Mr. Biglow's
production was as follows:--
THE TWO GUNNERS
Two fellers, Isrel named and Joe,
One Sundy mornin' 'greed to go
Agunnin' soon 'z the bells wuz done
And meetin' finally begun,
So'st no one wouldn't be about
Ther Sabbath-breakin' to spy out.
Joe didn't want to go a mite;
He felt ez though 'twarn't skeercely right,
But, when his doubts he went to speak on,
Isrel he up and called him Deacon,
An' kep' apokin' fun like sin
An' then arubbin' on it in,
Till Joe, less skeered o' doin' wrong
Than bein' laughed at, went along.
Past noontime they went trampin' round
An' nary thing to pop at found,
Till, fairly tired o' their spree,
They leaned their guns agin a tree,
An' jest ez they wuz settin' down
To take their noonin', Joe looked roun'
And see (acrost lots in a pond
That warn't mor'n twenty rod beyond)
A goose that on the water sot
Ez ef awaitin' to be shot.
Isrel he ups and grabs his gun;
Sez he, 'By ginger, here's some fun!'
'Don't fire,' sez Joe, 'it ain't no use,
Thet's Deacon Peleg's tame wil'-goose:'
Sez Isrel, 'I don't care a cent.
I've sighted an' I'll let her went;'
_Bang!_ went queen's-arm, ole gander flopped
His wings a spell, an' quorked, an' dropped.
Sez Joe, 'I wouldn't ha' been hired
At that poor critter to ha' fired,
But since it's clean gin up the ghost,
We'll hev the tallest kind o' roast;
I guess our waistbands'll be tight
'Fore it comes ten o'clock ternight.'
'I won't agree to no such bender,'
Sez Isrel; 'keep it tell it's tender;
'Tain't wuth a snap afore it's ripe.'
Sez Joe, 'I'd jest ez lives eat tripe;
You _air_ a buster ter suppose
I'd eat what makes me hol' my nose!'
So they disputed to an' fro
Till cunnin' Isrel sez to Joe,
'Don't le's stay here an' play the fool,
Le's wait till both on us git cool,
Jest for a day or two le's hide it,
An' then toss up an' so decide it.'
'Agreed!' sez Joe, an' so they did,
An' the ole goose wuz safely hid.
Now 'twuz the hottest kind o' weather,
An' when at last they come together,
It didn't signify which won,
Fer all the mischief hed been done:
The goose wuz there, but, fer his soul,
Joe wouldn't ha' tetched it with a pole;
But Isrel kind o' liked the smell on 't
An' made _his_ dinner very well on 't.
My own humble attempt was in manner and form following, and I print it
here, I sincerely trust, out of no vainglory, but solely with the hope
of doing good.
LEAVING THE MATTER OPEN
BY HOMER WILBUR, A.M.
Two brothers once, an ill-matched pair,
Together dwelt (no matter where),
To whom an Uncle Sam, or some one,
Had left a house and farm in common.
The two in principles and habits
Were different as rats from rabbits;
Stout Farmer North, with frugal care,
Laid up provision for his heir,
Not scorning with hard sun-browned hands
To scrape acquaintance with his lands;
Whatever thing he had to do
He did, and made it pay him, too;
He sold his waste stone by the pound,
His drains made water-wheels spin round,
His ice in summer-time he sold,
His wood brought profit when 'twas cold,
He dug and delved from morn till night,
Strove to make profit square with right,
Lived on his means, cut no great dash,
And paid his debts in honest cash.
On tother hand, his brother South
Lived very much from hand to mouth.
Played gentleman, nursed dainty hands,
Borrowed North's money on his lands,
And culled his morals and his graces
From cock-pits, bar-rooms, fights, and races;
His sole work in the farming line
Was keeping droves of long-legged swine,
Which brought great bothers and expenses
To North in looking after fences,
And, when they happened to break through,
Cost him both time and temper too,
For South insisted it was plain
He ought to drive them home again,
And North consented to the work
Because he loved to buy cheap pork.
Meanwhile, South's swine increasing fast;
His farm became too small at last;
So, having thought the matter over,
And feeling bound to live in clover
And never pay the clover's worth,
He said one day to Brother North:--
'Our families are both increasing,
And, though we labor without ceasing,
Our produce soon will be too scant
To keep our children out of want;
They who wish fortune to be lasting
Must be both prudent and forecasting;
We soon shall need more land; a lot
I know, that cheaply can be bo't;
You lend the cash, I'll buy the acres.
And we'll be equally partakers.'
Poor North, whose Anglo-Saxon blood
Gave him a hankering after mud,
Wavered a moment, then consented,
And, when the cash was paid, repented;
To make the new land worth a pin,
Thought he, it must be all fenced in,
For, if South's swine once get the run on 't
No kind of farming can be done on 't;
If that don't suit the other side,
'Tis best we instantly divide.'
But somehow South could ne'er incline
This way or that to run the line,
And always found some new pretence
'Gainst setting the division fence;
At last he said:--
'For peace's sake,
Liberal concessions I will make;
Though I believe, upon my soul,
I've a just title to the whole,
I'll make an offer which I call
Gen'rous,--we'll have no fence at all;
Then both of us, whene'er we choose,
Can take what part we want to use;
If you should chance to need it first,
Pick you the best, I'll take the worst.'
'Agreed!' cried North; thought he, This fall
With wheat and rye I'll sow it all;
In that way I shall get the start,
And South may whistle for his part.
So thought, so done, the field was sown,
And, winter haying come and gone,
Sly North walked blithely forth to spy,
The progress of his wheat and rye;
Heavens, what a sight! his brother's swine
Had asked themselves all out to dine;
Such grunting, munching, rooting, shoving,
The soil seemed all alive and moving,
As for his grain, such work they'd made on 't,
He couldn't spy a single blade on 't.
Off in a rage he rushed to South,
'My wheat and rye'--grief choked his mouth:
'Pray don't mind me,' said South, 'but plant
All of the new land that you want;'
'Yes, but your hogs,' cried North;
Won't hurt them,' answered South again;
'But they destroy my crop;'
'Tis fortunate you've found it out;
Misfortunes teach, and only they,
You must not sow it in their way;'
'Nay, you,' says North, 'must keep them out;'
'Did I create them with a snout?'
Asked South demurely; 'as agreed,
The land is open to your seed,
And would you fain prevent my pigs
From running there their harmless rigs?
God knows I view this compromise
With not the most approving eyes;
I gave up my unquestioned rights
For sake of quiet days and nights;
I offered then, you know 'tis true,
To cut the piece of land in two.'
'Then cut it now,' growls North;
Your heat,' says South, 'tis now too late;
I offered you the rocky corner,
But you, of your own good the scorner,
Refused to take it: I am sorry;
No doubt you might have found a quarry,
Perhaps a gold-mine, for aught I know,
Containing heaps of native rhino;
You can't expect me to resign
'But where,' quoth North, 'are mine?'
'_Your_ rights,' says tother, 'well, that's funny,
_I_ bought the land'--
'_I_ paid the money;'
'That,' answered South, 'is from the point,
The ownership, you'll grant, is joint;
I'm sure my only hope and trust is
Not law so much as abstract justice,
Though, you remember, 'twas agreed
That so and so--consult the deed;
Objections now are out of date,
They might have answered once, but Fate
Quashes them at the point we've got to;
_Obsta principiis_ that's my motto.'
So saying, South began to whistle
And looked as obstinate as gristle,
While North went homeward, each brown paw
Clenched like a knot of natural law,
And all the while, in either ear,
Heard something clicking wondrous clear.
To turn now to other matters, there are two things upon which it should
seem fitting to dilate somewhat more largely in this place,--the Yankee
character and the Yankee dialect. And, first, of the Yankee character,
which has wanted neither open maligners, nor even more dangerous enemies
in the persons of those unskilful painters who have given to it that
hardness, angularity, and want of proper perspective, which, in truth,
belonged, not to their subject, but to their own niggard and unskilful
New England was not so much the colony of a mother country, as a Hagar
driven forth into the wilderness. The little self-exiled band which came
hither in 1620 came, not to seek gold, but to found a democracy. They
came that they might have the privilege to work and pray, to sit upon
hard benches and listen to painful preachers as long as they would, yea,
even unto thirty-seventhly, if the spirit so willed it. And surely, if
the Greek might boast his Thermopylae, where three hundred men fell in
resisting the Persian, we may well be proud of our Plymouth Rock, where
a handful of men, women, and children not merely faced, but vanquished,
winter, famine, the wilderness, and the yet more invincible _storge_
that drew them back to the green island far away. These found no lotus
growing upon the surly shore, the taste of which could make them forget
their little native Ithaca; nor were they so wanting to themselves in
faith as to burn their ship, but could see the fair west-wind belly the
homeward sail, and then turn unrepining to grapple with the terrible
As Want was the prime foe these hardy exodists had to fortress
themselves against, so it is little wonder if that traditional feud be
long in wearing out of the stock. The wounds of the old warfare were
long a-healing, and an east-wind of hard times puts a new ache into
every one of them. Thrift was the first lesson in their horn-book,
pointed out, letter after letter, by the lean finger of the hard
schoolmistress, Necessity. Neither were those plump, rosy-gilled
Englishmen that came hither, but a hard-faced, atrabilious, earnest-eyed
race, stiff from long wrestling with the Lord in prayer, and who had
taught Satan to dread the new Puritan hug. Add two hundred years'
influence of soil, climate, and exposure, with its necessary result of
idiosyncrasies, and we have the present Yankee, full of expedients,
half-master of all trades, inventive in all but the beautiful, full of
shifts, not yet capable of comfort, armed at all points against the old
enemy Hunger, longanimous, good at patching, not so careful for what is
best as for what will _do_, with a clasp to his purse and a button to
his pocket, not skilled to build against Time, as in old countries, but
against sore-pressing Need, accustomed to move the world with no [Greek:
pou sto] but his own two feet, and no lever but his own long forecast. A
strange hybrid, indeed, did circumstance beget, here in the New World,
upon the old Puritan stock, and the earth never before saw such
mystic-practicalism, such niggard-geniality, such
calculating-fanaticism, such cast-iron-enthusiasm, such
sour-faced-humor, such close-fisted-generosity. This new _Graeculus
esuriens_ will make a living out of anything. He will invent new trades
as well as tools. His brain is his capital, and he will get education at
all risks. Put him on Juan Fernandez, and he would make a spelling-book
first, and a salt-pan afterward. _In coelum, jusseris, ibit_,--or the
other way either,--it is all one, so anything is to be got by it. Yet,
after all, thin, speculative Jonathan is more like the Englishman of two
centuries ago than John Bull himself is. He has lost somewhat in
solidity, has become fluent and adaptable, but more of the original
groundwork of character remains. He feels more at home with Fulke
Greville, Herbert of Cherbury, Quarles, George Herbert, and Browne, than
with his modern English cousins. He is nearer than John, by at least a
hundred years, to Naseby, Marston Moor, Worcester, and the time when, if
ever, there were true Englishmen. John Bull has suffered the idea of the
Invisible to be very much fattened out of him. Jonathan is conscious
still that he lives in the world of the Unseen as well as of the Seen.
To move John you must make your fulcrum of solid beef and pudding; an
abstract idea will do for Jonathan.
* * * * *
*** TO THE INDULGENT READER
My friend, the Rev. Mr. Wilbur, having been seized with a dangerous fit
of illness, before this Introduction had passed through the press, and
being incapacitated for all literary exertion, sent to me his notes,
memoranda, &c., and requested me to fashion them into some shape more
fitting for the general eye. This, owing to the fragmentary and
disjointed state of his manuscripts, I have felt wholly unable to do;
yet being unwilling that the reader should be deprived of such parts of
his lucubrations as seemed more finished, and not well discerning how to
segregate these from the rest, I have concluded to send them all to the
press precisely as they are.
_Pastor of a Church in Bungtown Corner._
It remains to speak of the Yankee dialect. And, first, it may be
premised, in a general way, that any one much read in the writings of
the early colonists need not be told that the far greater share of the
words and phrases now esteemed peculiar to New England, and local there,
were brought from the mother country. A person familiar with the
dialect of certain portions of Massachusetts will not fail to recognize,
in ordinary discourse, many words now noted in English vocabularies as
archaic, the greater part of which were in common use about the time of
the King James translation of the Bible. Shakespeare stands less in need
of a glossary to most New-Englanders than to many a native of the Old
Country. The peculiarities of our speech, however, are rapidly wearing
out. As there is no country where reading is so universal and newspapers
are so multitudinous, so no phrase remains long local, but is
transplanted in the mail-bags to every remotest corner of the land.
Consequently our dialect approaches nearer to uniformity than that of
any other nation.
The English have complained of us for coining new words. Many of those
so stigmatized were old ones by them forgotten, and all make now an
unquestioned part of the currency, wherever English is spoken.
Undoubtedly, we have a right to make new words, as they are needed by
the fresh aspects under which life presents itself here in the New
World; and, indeed, wherever a language is alive, it grows. It might be
questioned whether we could not establish a stronger title to the
ownership of the English tongue than the mother-islanders themselves.
Here, past all question, is to be its great home and centre. And not
only is it already spoken here by greater numbers, but with a far higher
popular average of correctness than in Britain. The great writers of it,
too, we might claim as ours, were ownership to be settled by the number
of readers and lovers.
As regards the provincialisms to be met with in this volume, I may say
that the reader will not find one which is not (as I believe) either
native or imported with the early settlers, nor one which I have not,
with my own ears, heard in familiar use. In the metrical portion of the
book, I have endeavored to adapt the spelling as nearly as possible to
the ordinary mode of pronunciation. Let the reader who deems me
over-particular remember this caution of Martial:--
'Quem recitas, meus est, O Fidentine, libellus;
Sed male cum recitas, incipit esse tuus.'
A few further explanatory remarks will not be impertinent.
I shall barely lay down a few general rules for the reader's guidance.
1. The genuine Yankee never gives the rough sound to the _r_ when he can
help it, and often displays considerable ingenuity in avoiding it even
before a vowel.
2. He seldom sounds the final _g_, a piece of self-denial, if we
consider his partiality for nasals. The same of the final _d_, as _han'_
and _stan'_ for _hand_ and _stand_.
3. The _h_ in such words as _while, when, where,_ he omits altogether.
4. In regard to _a_, he shows some inconsistency, sometimes giving a
close and obscure sound, as _hev_ for _have, hendy_ for _handy, ez_ for
_as, thet_ for _that_, and again giving it the broad sound it has in
_father_, as _hansome_ for _handsome._
5. To the sound _ou_ he prefixes an _e_ (hard to exemplify otherwise
The following passage in Shakespeare he would recite thus:--
'Neow is the winta uv eour discontent
Med glorious summa by this sun o'Yock,
An' all the cleouds thet leowered upun eour heouse
In the deep buzzum o' the oshin buried;
Neow air eour breows beound 'ith victorious wreaths;
Eour breused arms hung up fer monimunce;
Eour starn alarums changed to merry meetins,
Eour dreffle marches to delighfle masures.
Grim-visaged war heth smeuthed his wrinkled front,
An' neow, instid o' mountin' bare-bid steeds
To fright the souls o' ferfle edverseries,
He capers nimly in a lady's ch[)a]mber,
To the lascivious pleasin' uv a loot.'
6. _Au_, in such words as _daughter_ and _slaughter_, he pronounces
7. To the dish thus seasoned add a drawl _ad libitum_.
[Mr. Wilbur's notes here become entirely fragmentary.--C.N.]
[Greek: a]. Unable to procure a likeness of Mr. Biglow, I thought the
curious reader might be gratified with a sight of the editorial
effigies. And here a choice between two was offered,--the one a profile
(entirely black) cut by Doyle, the other a portrait painted by a native
artist of much promise. The first of these seemed wanting in expression,
and in the second a slight obliquity of the visual organs has been
heightened (perhaps from an over-desire of force on the part of the
artist) into too close an approach to actual _strabismus_. This slight
divergence in my optical apparatus from the ordinary model--however I
may have been taught to regard it in the light of a mercy rather than a
cross, since it enabled me to give as much of directness and personal
application to my discourses as met the wants of my congregation,
without risk of offending any by being supposed to have him or her in my
eye (as the saying is)--seemed yet to Mrs. Wilbur a sufficient objection
to the engraving of the aforesaid painting. We read of many who either
absolutely refused to allow the copying of their features, as especially
did Plotinus and Agesilaus among the ancients, not to mention the more
modern instances of Scioppius, Palaeottus, Pinellus, Velserus, Gataker,
and others, or were indifferent thereto, as Cromwell.
[Greek: b.] Yet was Caesar desirous of concealing his baldness. _Per
contra_, my Lord Protector's carefulness in the matter of his wart might
be cited. Men generally more desirous of being _improved_ in their
portraits than characters. Shall probably find very unflattered
likenesses of ourselves in Recording Angel's gallery.
[Greek: g.] Whether any of our national peculiarities may be traced to
our use of stoves, as a certain closeness of the lips in pronunciation,
and a smothered smoulderingness of disposition seldom roused to open
flame? An unrestrained intercourse with fire probably conducive to
generosity and hospitality of soul. Ancient Mexicans used stoves, as the
friar Augustin Ruiz reports, Hakluyt, III. 468,--but Popish priests not
always reliable authority.
To-day picked my Isabella grapes. Crop injured by attacks of rose-bug in
the spring. Whether Noah was justifiable in preserving this class of
[Greek: d]. Concerning Mr. Biglow's pedigree. Tolerably certain that
there was never a poet among his ancestors. An ordination hymn
attributed to a maternal uncle, but perhaps a sort of production not
demanding the creative faculty.
His grandfather a painter of the grandiose or Michael Angelo school.
Seldom painted objects smaller than houses or barns, and these with
[Greek: e]. Of the Wilburs no complete pedigree. The crest said to be a
_wild boar_, whence, perhaps, the name. (?) A connection with the Earls
of Wilbraham (_quasi_ wild boar ham) might be made out. This suggestion
worth following up. In 1677, John W.m. Expect----, had issue, 1. John,
2. Haggai, 3. Expect, 4. Ruhamah, 5. Desire.
'Here lyes y'e bodye of Mrs. Expect Wilber,
Ye crewell salvages they kil'd her
Together w'th other Christian soles eleaven,
October y'e ix daye, 1707.
Y'e stream of Jordan sh' as crost ore
And now expeacts me on y'e other shore:
I live in hope her soon to join;
Her earthlye yeeres were forty and nine.'
_From Gravestone in Pekussett, North Parish._
This is unquestionably the same John who afterward (1711) married
Tabitha Hagg or Ragg.
But if this were the case, she seems to have died early; for only three
years after, namely, 1714, we have evidence that he married Winifred,
daughter of Lieutenant Tipping.
He seems to have been a man of substance, for we find him in 1696
conveying 'one undivided eightieth part of a salt-meadow' in Yabbok, and
he commanded a sloop in 1702.
Those who doubt the importance of genealogical studies _fuste potius
quam argumento erudiendi_.
I trace him as far as 1723, and there lose him. In that year he was
No gravestone. Perhaps overthrown when new hearse-house was built, 1802.
He was probably the son of John, who came from Bilham Comit. Salop.
This first John was a man of considerable importance, being twice
mentioned with the honorable prefix of _Mr._ in the town records. Name
spelt with two _l-s_.
'Hear lyeth y'e bod [_stone unhappily broken_.]
Mr. Ihon Wilber [Esq.] [_I inclose this in brackets as doubtful.
To me it seems clear_.]
Ob't die [_illegible; looks like xviii_.].... iii [_prob. 1693_.]
... deseased seinte:
A friend and [fath]er untoe all y'e opreast,
Hee gave y'e wicked familists noe reast,
When Sat[an bl]ewe his Antinomian blaste.
Wee clong to [Willber as a steadf]ast maste.
[A]gaynst y'e horrid Qua[kers] ...'
It is greatly to be lamented that this curious epitaph is mutilated. It
is said that the sacrilegious British soldiers made a target of the
stone during the war of Independence. How odious an animosity which
pauses not at the grave! How brutal that which spares not the monuments
of authentic history! This is not improbably from the pen of Rev. Moody
Pyram, who is mentioned by Hubbard as having been noted for a silver
vein of poetry. If his papers be still extant, a copy might possibly be
THE BIGLOW PAPERS
FROM MR. EZEKIEL BIGLOW OF JAALAM TO THE HON. JOSEPH T. BUCKINGHAM,
EDITOR OF THE BOSTON COURIER, INCLOSING A POEM OF HIS SON, MR. HOSEA
JAYLEM, june 1846.
MISTER EDDYTER:--Our Hosea wuz down to Boston last week, and he see a
cruetin Sarjunt a struttin round as popler as a hen with 1 chicking,
with 2 fellers a drummin and fifin arter him like all nater. the sarjunt
he thout Hosea hedn't gut his i teeth cut cos he looked a kindo 's
though he'd jest com down, so he cal'lated to hook him in, but Hosy
woodn't take none o' his sarse for all he hed much as 20 Rooster's tales
stuck onto his hat and eenamost enuf brass a bobbin up and down on his
shoulders and figureed onto his coat and trousis, let alone wut nater
hed sot in his featers, to make a 6 pounder out on.
wal, Hosea he com home considerabal riled, and arter I'd gone to bed I
heern Him a thrashin round like a short-tailed Bull in fli-time. The old
Woman ses she to me ses she, Zekle, ses she, our Hosee's gut the
chollery or suthin anuther ses she, don't you Bee skeered, ses I, he's
oney amakin pottery ses i, he's ollers on hand at that ere busynes
like Da & martin, and shure enuf, cum mornin, Hosy he cum down stares
full chizzle, hare on eend and cote tales flyin, and sot rite of to go
reed his varses to Parson Wilbur bein he haint aney grate shows o' book
larnin himself, bimeby he cum back and sed the parson wuz dreffle
tickled with 'em as i hoop you will Be, and said they wuz True grit.
Hosea ses taint hardly fair to call 'em hisn now, cos the parson kind o'
slicked off sum o' the last varses, but he told Hosee he didn't want to
put his ore in to tetch to the Rest on 'em, bein they wuz verry well As
thay wuz, and then Hosy ses he sed suthin a nuther about Simplex
Mundishes or sum sech feller, but I guess Hosea kind o' didn't hear him,
for I never hearn o' nobody o' that name in this villadge, and I've
lived here man and boy 76 year cum next tater diggin, and thair aint no
wheres a kitting spryer 'n I be.
If you print 'em I wish you'd jest let folks know who hosy's father is,
cos my ant Keziah used to say it's nater to be curus ses she, she aint
livin though and he's a likely kind o' lad.
* * * * *
Thrash away, you'll _hev_ to rattle
On them kittle-drums o' yourn,--
'Taint a knowin' kind o' cattle
Thet is ketched with mouldy corn;
Put in stiff, you fifer feller,
Let folks see how spry you be,--
Guess you'll toot till you are yeller
'Fore you git ahold o' me!
Thet air flag's a leetle rotten,
Hope it aint your Sunday's best;-- 10
Fact! it takes a sight o' cotton
To stuff out a soger's chest:
Sence we farmers hev to pay fer't,
Ef you must wear humps like these,
S'posin' you should try salt hay fer't,
It would du ez slick ez grease.
'Twouldn't suit them Southun fellers,
They're a dreffle graspin' set,
We must ollers blow the bellers
Wen they want their irons het; 20
May be it's all right ez preachin',
But _my_ narves it kind o' grates,
Wen I see the overreachin'
O' them nigger-drivin' States.
Them thet rule us, them slave-traders,
Haint they cut a thunderin' swarth
(Helped by Yankee renegaders),
Thru the vartu o' the North!
We begin to think it's nater
To take sarse an' not be riled;-- 30
Who'd expect to see a tater
All on eend at bein' biled?
Ez fer war, I call it murder,--
There you hev it plain an' flat;
I don't want to go no furder
Than my Testyment fer that;
God hez sed so plump an' fairly,
It's ez long ez it is broad,
An' you've gut to git up airly
Ef you want to take in God. 40
'Taint your eppyletts an' feathers
Make the thing a grain more right;
'Taint afollerin' your bell-wethers
Will excuse ye in His sight;
Ef you take a sword an' dror it,
An' go stick a feller thru,
Guv'ment aint to answer for it,
God'll send the bill to you.
Wut's the use o' meetin'-goin'
Every Sabbath, wet or dry, 50
Ef it's right to go amowin'
Feller-men like oats an' rye?
I dunno but wut it's pooty
Trainin' round in bobtail coats,--
But it's curus Christian dooty
This 'ere cuttin' folks's throats.
They may talk o' Freedom's airy
Tell they're pupple in the face,--
It's a grand gret cemetary
Fer the barthrights of our race; 60
They jest want this Californy
So's to lug new slave-states in
To abuse ye, an' to scorn ye,
An' to plunder ye like sin.
Aint it cute to see a Yankee
Take sech everlastin' pains,
All to get the Devil's thankee
Helpin' on 'em weld their chains?
Wy, it's jest ez clear ez figgers,
Clear ez one an' one make two, 70
Chaps thet make black slaves o' niggers
Want to make wite slaves o' you.
Tell ye jest the eend I've come to
Arter cipherin' plaguy smart,
An' it makes a handy sum, tu.
Any gump could larn by heart;
Laborin' man an' laborin' woman
Hev one glory an' one shame.
Ev'y thin' thet's done inhuman
Injers all on 'em the same. 80
'Taint by turnln' out to hack folks
You're agoin' to git your right,
Nor by lookin' down on black folks
Coz you're put upon by wite;
Slavery aint o' nary color,
'Taint the hide thet makes it wus,
All it keers fer in a feller
'S jest to make him fill its pus.
Want to tackle _me_ in, du ye?
I expect you'll hev to wait; 90
Wen cold lead puts daylight thru ye
You'll begin to kal'late;
S'pose the crows wun't fall to pickin'
All the carkiss from your bones,
Coz you helped to give a lickin'
To them poor half-Spanish drones?
Jest go home an' ask our Nancy
Wether I'd be sech a goose
Ez to jine ye,--guess you'd fancy
The etarnal bung wuz loose! 100
She wants me fer home consumption,
Let alone the hay's to mow,--
Ef you're arter folks o' gumption,
You've a darned long row to hoe.
Take them editors thet's crowin'
Like a cockerel three months old,--
Don't ketch any on 'em goin
Though they _be_ so blasted bold;
_Aint_ they a prime lot o' fellers?
'Fore they think on 't guess they'll sprout 110
(Like a peach thet's got the yellers),
With the meanness bustin' out.
Wal, go 'long to help 'em stealin'
Bigger pens to cram with slaves,
Help the men thet's ollers dealin'
Insults on your fathers' graves;
Help the strong to grind the feeble,
Help the many agin the few,
Help the men thet call your people
Witewashed slaves an' peddlin' crew! 120
Massachusetts, God forgive her,
She's akneelin' with the rest,
She, thet ough' to ha' clung ferever
In her grand old eagle-nest;
She thet ough' to stand so fearless
W'ile the wracks are round her hurled,
Holdin' up a beacon peerless
To the oppressed of all the world!
Ha'n't they sold your colored seamen?
Ha'n't they made your env'ys w'iz? 130
_Wut_'ll make ye act like freemen?
_Wut_'ll git your dander riz?
Come, I'll tell ye wut I'm thinkin'
Is our dooty in this fix.
They'd ha' done 't ez quick ez winkin'
In the days o' seventy-six.
Clang the bells in every steeple,
Call all true men to disown
The tradoocers of our people,
The enslavers o' their own; 140
Let our dear old Bay State proudly
Put the trumpet to her mouth,
Let her ring this messidge loudly
In the ears of all the South:--
'I'll return ye good fer evil
Much ez we frail mortils can,
But I wun't go help the Devil
Makin' man the cuss o' man;
Call me coward, call me traiter,
Jest ez suits your mean idees,--
Here I stand a tyrant hater, 151
An' the friend o' God an' Peace!'
Ef I'd _my_ way I hed ruther
We should go to work an part,
They take one way, we take t'other,
Guess it wouldn't break my heart;
Man hed ough' to put asunder
Them thet God has noways jined;
An' I shouldn't gretly wonder
Ef there's thousands o' my mind. 160
[The first recruiting sergeant on record I conceive to have been that
individual who is mentioned in the Book of Job as _going to and fro in
the earth, and walking up and down in it._ Bishop Latimer will have him
to have been a bishop, but to me that other calling would appear more
congenial. The sect of Cainites is not yet extinct, who esteemed the
first-born of Adam to be the most worthy, not only because of that
privilege of primogeniture, but inasmuch as he was able to overcome and
slay his younger brother. That was a wise saying of the famous Marquis
Pescara to the Papal Legate, that _it was impossible for men to serve
Mars and Christ at the same time_. Yet in time past the profession of
arms was judged to be [Greek: kat exochaen] that of a gentleman, nor
does this opinion want for strenuous upholders even in our day. Must we
suppose, then, that the profession of Christianity was only intended for
losels, or, at best, to afford an opening for plebeian ambition? Or
shall we hold with that nicely metaphysical Pomeranian, Captain Vratz,
who was Count Koenigsmark's chief instrument in the murder of Mr. Thynne,
that the Scheme of Salvation has been arranged with an especial eye to
the necessities of the upper classes, and that 'God would consider a
_gentleman_ and deal with him suitably to the condition and profession
he had placed him in'? It may be said of us all, _Exemplo plus quam
FROM MR. HOSEA BIGLOW TO THE HON. J.T. BUCKINGHAM, EDITOR OF THE BOSTON
COURIER, COVERING A LETTER FROM MR. B. SAWIN, PRIVATE IN THE
[This letter of Mr. Sawin's was not originally written in verse. Mr.
Biglow, thinking it peculiarly susceptible of metrical adornment,
translated it, so to speak, into his own vernacular tongue. This is not
the time to consider the question, whether rhyme be a mode of expression
natural to the human race. If leisure from other and more important
avocations be granted, I will handle the matter more at large in an
appendix to the present volume. In this place I will barely remark, that
I have sometimes noticed in the unlanguaged prattlings of infants a
fondness for alliteration, assonance, and even rhyme, in which natural
predisposition we may trace the three degrees through which our
Anglo-Saxon verse rose to its culmination in the poetry of Pope. I would
not be understood as questioning in these remarks that pious theory
which supposes that children, if left entirely to themselves, would
naturally discourse in Hebrew. For this the authority of one experiment
is claimed, and I could, with Sir Thomas Browne, desire its
establishment, inasmuch as the acquirement of that sacred tongue would
thereby be facilitated. I am aware that Herodotus states the conclusion
of Psammetieus to have been in favor of a dialect of the Phrygian. But,
beside the chance that a trial of this importance would hardly be
blessed to a Pagan monarch whose only motive was curiosity, we have on
the Hebrew side the comparatively recent investigation of James the
Fourth of Scotland. I will add to this prefatory remark, that Mr. Sawin,
though a native of Jaalam, has never been a stated attendant on the
religious exercises of my congregation. I consider my humble efforts
prospered in that not one of my sheep hath ever indued the wolf's
clothing of war, save for the comparatively innocent diversion of a
militia training. Not that my flock are backward to undergo the
hardships of _defensive_ warfare. They serve cheerfully in the great
army which fights, even unto death _pro aris et focis_, accoutred with
the spade, the axe, the plane, the sledge, the spelling-book, and other
such effectual weapons against want and ignorance and unthrift. I have
taught them (under God) to esteem our human institutions as but tents of
a night, to be stricken whenever Truth puts the bugle to her lips and
sounds a march to the heights of wider-viewed intelligence and more
MISTER BUCKINUM, the follerin Billet was writ hum by a Yung feller of
our town that wuz cussed fool enuff to goe atrottin inter Miss Chiff
arter a Drum and fife, it ain't Nater for a feller to let on that he's
sick o' any bizness that He went intu off his own free will and a Cord,
but I rather cal'late he's middlin tired o' voluntearin By this Time. I
bleeve u may put dependunts on his statemence. For I never heered nothin
bad on him let Alone his havin what Parson Wilbur cals a _pong shong_
for cocktales, and he ses it wuz a soshiashun of idees sot him agoin
arter the Crootin Sargient cos he wore a cocktale onto his hat.
his Folks gin the letter to me and i shew it to parson Wilbur and he ses
it oughter Bee printed. send It to mister Buckinum, ses he, i don't
ollers agree with him, ses he, but by Time, ses he, I _du_ like a
feller that aint a Feared.
I have intusspussed a Few refleckshuns hear and thar. We're a kind
o'prest with Hayin.
This kind o' sogerin' aint a mite like our October trainin',
A chap could clear right out from there ef 't only looked like rainin',
An' th' Cunnles, tu, could kiver up their shappoes with bandanners,
An' send the insines skootin' to the bar-room with their banners
(Fear o' gittin' on 'em spotted), an' a feller could cry quarter
Ef he fired away his ramrod arter tu much rum an' water.
Recollect wut fun we hed, you 'n' I an' Ezry Hollis,
Up there to Waltham plain last fall, along o' the Cornwallis?
This sort o' thing aint _jest_ like thet,--I wish thet I wuz furder,--
Ninepunce a day fer killin' folks comes kind o' low fer murder, 10
(Wy I've worked out to slarterin' some fer Deacon Cephas Billins,
An' in the hardest times there wuz I ollers tetched ten shillins.)
There's sutthin' gits into my throat thet makes it hard to swaller,
It comes so naturel to think about a hempen collar;
It's glory,--but, in spite o' all my tryin' to git callous,
I feel a kind o' in a cart, aridin' to the gallus.
But wen it comes to _bein'_ killed,--I tell ye I felt streaked
The fust time 't ever I found out wy baggonets wuz peaked;
Here's how it wuz: I started out to go to a fandango,
The sentinul he ups an' sez, 'Thet's furder 'an you can go.' 20
'None o' your sarse,' sez I; sez he, 'Stan' back!' 'Aint you a buster?'
Sez I, 'I'm up to all thet air, I guess I've ben to muster;
I know wy sentinuls air sot; you aint agoin' to eat us;
Caleb haint no monopoly to court the seenorcetas;
My folks to hum air full ez good ez his'n be, by golly!'
An' so ez I wuz goin' by, not thinkin' wut would folly,
The everlastin' cus he stuck his one-pronged pitchfork in me
An' made a hole right thru my close ez ef I wuz an in'my.
Wal, it beats all how big I felt hoorawin' in ole Funnel
Wen Mister Bolles he gin the sword to our Leftenant Cunnle, 30
(It's Mister Secondary Bolles, thet writ the prize peace essay.
Thet's wy he didn't list himself along o' us, I dessay,)
An' Rantoul, tu, talked pooty loud, but don't put _his_ foot in it,
Coz human life's so sacred thet he's principled agin it,--
Though I myself can't rightly see it's any wus achokin' on 'em;
Than puttin' bullets thru their lights, or with a bagnet pokin' on 'em;
How dreffle slick he reeled it off (like Blitz at our lyceum
Ahaulin' ribbins from his chops so quick you skeercely see 'em),
About the Anglo-Saxon race (an' saxons would be handy
To du the buryin' down here upon the Rio Grandy), 40
About our patriotic pas an' our star-spangled banner,
Our country's bird alookin' on an' singin' out hosanner,
An' how he (Mister B. himself) wuz happy fer Ameriky,--
I felt, ez sister Patience sez, a leetle mite histericky.
I felt, I swon, ez though it wuz a dreffle kind o' privilege
Atrampin' round thru Boston streets among the gutter's drivelage;
I act'lly thought it wuz a treat to hear a little drummin',
An' it did bonyfidy seem millanyum wuz acomin'
Wen all on us got suits (darned like them wore in the state prison)
An' every feller felt ez though all Mexico wuz hisn. 50
This 'ere's about the meanest place a skunk could wal dlskiver
(Saltillo's Mexican, I b'lieve, fer wut we call Salt-river);
The sort o' trash a feller gits to eat doos beat all nater,
I'd give a year's pay fer a smell o' one good blue-nose tater,
The country here thet Mister Bolles declared to be so charmin'
Throughout is swarmin' with the most alarmin' kind o' varmin.
He talked about delishis froots, but then it wuz a wopper all,
The holl on 't 's mud an' prickly pears, with here an' there a chapparal;
You see a feller peekin' out, an', fust you know, a lariat
Is round your throat an' you a copse, 'fore you can say, 'Wut air ye
You never see sech darned gret bugs (it may not be irrelevant
To say I've seen a _scarabaeus pilularius_ big ez a year old elephant),
The rigiment come up one day in time to stop a red bug
From runnin off with Cunnle Wright,--'twuz jest a common _cimex
One night I started up on eend an' thought I wuz to hum agin,
I heern a horn, thinks I it's Sol the fisherman hez come agin,
_His_ bellowses is sound enough,--ez I'm a livin' creeter,
I felt a thing go thru my leg--'twuz nothin' more 'n a skeeter!
Then there's the yaller fever, tu, they call it here el vomito,--
(Come, thet wun't du, you landcrab there, I tell ye to le' _go_ my
My gracious! it's a scorpion thet's took a shine to play with 't,
I darsn't skeer the tarnal thing fer fear he'd run away with 't,)
Afore I come away from hum I hed a strong persuasion
Thet Mexicans worn't human beans,--an ourang outang nation,
A sort o' folks a chap could kill an' never dream on 't arter,
No more 'n a feller'd dream o' pigs thet he hed hed to slarter;
I'd an idee thet they were built arter the darkie fashion all,
An' kickin' colored folks about, you know 's a kind o' national;
But wen I jined I worn't so wise ez thet air queen o' Sheby,
Fer, come to look at 'em, they aint much diff'rent from wut we be, 80
An' here we air ascrougin' 'em out o' thir own dominions,
Ashelterin' 'em, ez Caleb sez, under our eagle's pinions,
Wich means to take a feller up jest by the slack o' 's trowsis
An' walk him Spanish clean right out o' all his homes an' houses;
Wal, it doos seem a curus way, but then hooraw fer Jackson!
It must be right, fer Caleb sez it's reg'lar Anglo-Saxon,
The Mex'cans don't fight fair, they say, they piz'n all the water,
An' du amazin' lots o' things thet isn't wut they ough' to;
Bein' they haint no lead, they make their bullets out o' copper
An' shoot the darned things at us, tu, wich Caleb sez ain
He sez they'd ough' to stan' right up an' let us pop 'em fairly
(Guess wen he ketches 'em at thet he'll hev to git up airly),
Thet our nation's bigger 'n theirn an' so its rights air bigger,
An' thet it's all to make 'em free thet we air pullin' trigger,
Thet Anglo Saxondom's idee's abreakin' 'em to pieces,
An' thet idee's thet every man doos jest wut he damn pleases;
Ef I don't make his meanin' clear, perhaps in some respex I can,
I know thet 'every man' don't mean a nigger or a Mexican;
An' there's another thing I know, an' thet is, ef these creeters,
Thet stick an Anglosaxon mask onto State-prison feeturs, 100
Should come to Jaalam Centre fer to argify an' spout on 't,
The gals 'ould count the silver spoons the minnit they cleared out on 't.
This goin' ware glory waits ye haint one agreeable feetur,
An' ef it worn't fer wakin' snakes, I'd home agin short meter;
O, wouldn't I be off, quick time, ef 't worn't thet I wuz sartin
They'd let the daylight into me to pay me fer desartin!
I don't approve o' tellin' tales, but jest to you I may state
Our ossifers aiut wut they wuz afore they left the Bay-state;
Then it wuz 'Mister Sawin, sir, you're middlin' well now, be ye?
Step up an' take a nipper, sir; I'm dreffle glad to see ye:' 110
But now it's 'Ware's my eppylet? here, Sawin, step an' fetch it!
An' mind your eye, be thund'rin' spry, or, damn ye, you shall ketch it!'
Wal, ez the Doctor sez, some pork will bile so, but by mighty,
Ef I hed some on 'em to hum, I'd give 'em linkum vity,
I'd play the rogue's march on their hides an' other music follerin'--
But I must close my letter here, fer one on 'em 's ahollerin',
These Anglosaxon ossifers,--wal, taint no use ajawin',
I'm safe enlisted fer the war,
[Those have not been wanting (as, indeed, when hath Satan been to seek
for attorneys?) who have maintained that our late inroad upon Mexico was
undertaken not so much for the avenging of any national quarrel, as for
the spreading of free institutions and of Protestantism. _Capita vix
duabus Anticyris medenda!_ Verily I admire that no pious sergeant among
these new Crusaders beheld Martin Luther riding at the front of the host
upon a tamed pontifical bull, as, in that former invasion of Mexico, the
zealous Gomara (spawn though he were of the Scarlet Woman) was favored
with a vision of St. James of Compostella, skewering the infidels upon
his apostolical lance. We read, also, that Richard of the lion heart,
having gone to Palestine on a similar errand of mercy, was divinely
encouraged to cut the throats of such Paynims as refused to swallow the
bread of life (doubtless that they might be thereafter incapacitated for
swallowing the filthy gobbets of Mahound) by angels of heaven, who cried
to the king and his knights,_--Seigneurs, tuez! tuez!_ providentially
using the French tongue, as being the only one understood by their
auditors. This would argue for the pantoglottism of these celestial
intelligences, while, on the other hand, the Devil, _teste_ Cotton
Mather, is unversed in certain of the Indian dialects. Yet must he be a
semeiologist the most expert, making himself intelligible to every
people and kindred by signs; no other discourse, indeed, being needful,
than such as the mackerel-fisher holds with his finned quarry, who, if
other bait be wanting, can by a bare bit of white rag at the end of a
string captivate those foolish fishes. Such piscatorial persuasion is
Satan cunning in. Before one he trails a hat and feather, or a bare
feather without a hat; before another, a Presidential chair or a
tide-waiter's stool, or a pulpit in the city, no matter what. To us,
dangling there over our heads, they seem junkets dropped out of the
seventh heaven, sops dipped in nectar, but, once in our mouths, they are
all one, bits of fuzzy cotton.
This, however, by the way. It is time now _revocare gradum_. While so
many miracles of this sort, vouched by eye-witnesses, have encouraged
the arms of Papists, not to speak of Echetlaeus at Marathon and those
_Dioscuri_ (whom we must conclude imps of the pit) who sundry times
captained the pagan Roman soldiery, it is strange that our first
American crusade was not in some such wise also signalized. Yet it is
said that the Lord hath manifestly prospered our armies. This opens the
question, whether, when our hands are strengthened to make great
slaughter of our enemies, it be absolutely and demonstratively certain
that this might is added to us from above, or whether some Potentate
from an opposite quarter may not have a finger in it, as there are few
pies into which his meddling digits are not thrust. Would the Sanctifier
and Setter-apart of the seventh day have assisted in a victory gained on
the Sabbath, as was one in the late war? Do we not know from Josephus,
that, careful of His decree, a certain river in Judaea abstained from
flowing on the day of Rest? Or has that day become less an object of His
especial care since the year 1697, when so manifest a providence
occurred to Mr. William Trowbridge, in answer to whose prayers, when he
and all on shipboard with him were starving, a dolphin was sent daily,
'which was enough to serve 'em; only on _Saturdays_ they still catched a
couple, and on the _Lord's Days_ they could catch none at all'? Haply
they might have been permitted, by way of mortification, to take some
few sculpins (those banes of the salt-water angler), which unseemly fish
would, moreover, have conveyed to them a symbolical reproof for their
breach of the day, being known in the rude dialect of our mariners as
_Cape Cod Clergymen_.
It has been a refreshment to many nice consciences to know that our
Chief Magistrate would not regard with eyes of approval the (by many
esteemed) sinful pastime of dancing, and I own myseif to be so far of
that mind, that I could not but set my face against this Mexican Polka,
though danced to the Presidential piping with a Gubernatorial second. If
ever the country should be seized with another such mania _pro
propaganda fide_, I think it would be wise to fill our bombshells with
alternate copies of the Cambridge Platform and the Thirty-nine Articles,
which would produce a mixture of the highest explosive power, and to
wrap every one of our cannon-balls in a leaf of the New Testament, the
reading of which is denied to those who sit in the darkness of Popery.
Those iron evangelists would thus be able to disseminate vital religion
and Gospel truth in quarters inaccessible to the ordinary missionary. I
have seen lads, unimpregnate with the more sublimated punctiliousness of
Walton, secure pickerel, taking their unwary _siesta_ beneath the
lily-pads too nigh the surface, with a gun and small shot. Why not,
then, since gunpowder was unknown in the time of the Apostles (not to
enter here upon the question whether it were discovered before that
period by the Chinese), suit our metaphor to the age in which we live,
and say _shooters_ as well as _fishers_ of men?
I do much fear that we shall be seized now and then with a Protestant
fervor, as long as we have neighbor Naboths whose wallowings in
Papistical mire excite our horror in exact proportion to the size and
desirableness of their vineyards. Yet I rejoice that some earnest
Protestants have been made by this war,--I mean those who protested
against it. Fewer they were than I could wish, for one might imagine
America to have been colonized by a tribe of those nondescript African
animals the Aye-Ayes, so difficult a word is _No_ to us all. There is
some malformation or defect of the vocal organs, which either prevents
our uttering it at all, or gives it so thick a pronunciation as to be
unintelligible. A mouth filled with the national pudding, or watering in
expectation thereof, is wholly incompetent to this refractory
monosyllable. An abject and herpetic Public Opinion is the Pope, the
Anti-Christ, for us to protest against _e corde cordium_. And by what
College of Cardinals is this our God's-vicar, our binder and looser,
elected? Very like, by the sacred conclave of Tag, Rag, and Bobtail, in
the gracious atmosphere of the grog-shop. Yet it is of this that we must
all be puppets. This thumps the pulpit-cushion, this guides the editor's
pen, this wags the senator's tongue. This decides what Scriptures are
canonical, and shuffles Christ away into the Apocrypha. According to
that sentence fathered upon Solon, [Greek: Onto daemosion kakon erchetai
oikad ekasto] This unclean spirit is skilful to assume various shapes. I
have known it to enter my own study and nudge my elbow of a Saturday,
under the semblance of a wealthy member of my congregation. It were a
great blessing, if every particular of what in the sum we call popular
sentiment could carry about the name of its manufacturer stamped legibly
upon it. I gave a stab under the fifth rib to that pestilent
fallacy,--'Our country, right or wrong,'--by tracing its original to a
speech of Ensign Cilley at a dinner of the Bungtown Fencibles.--H.W.]
WHAT MR. ROBINSON THINKS
[A few remarks on the following verses will not be out of place. The
satire in them was not meant to have any personal, but only a general,
application. Of the gentleman upon whose letter they were intended as a
commentary Mr. Biglow had never heard, till he saw the letter itself.
The position of the satirist is oftentimes one which he would not have
chosen, had the election been left to himself. In attacking bad
principles, he is obliged to select some individual who has made himself
their exponent, and in whom they are impersonate, to the end that what
he says may not, through ambiguity, be dissipated _tenues in auras._ For
what says Seneca? _Longum iter per praecepta, breve et efficace per
exempla_. A bad principle is comparatively harmless while it continues
to be an abstraction, nor can the general mind comprehend it fully till
it is printed in that large type which all men can read at sight,
namely, the life and character, the sayings and doings, of particular
persons. It is one of the cunningest fetches of Satan, that he never
exposes himself directly to our arrows, but, still dodging behind this
neighbor or that acquaintance, compels us to wound him through them, if
at all. He holds our affections as hostages, the while he patches up a
truce with our conscience.
Meanwhile, let us not forget that the aim of the true satirist is not to
be severe upon persons, but only upon falsehood, and, as Truth and
Falsehood start from the same point, and sometimes even go along
together for a little way, his business is to follow the path of the
latter after it diverges, and to show her floundering in the bog at the
end of it. Truth is quite beyond the reach of satire. There is so brave
a simplicity in her, that she can no more be made ridiculous than an oak
or a pine. The danger of the satirist is, that continual use may deaden
his sensibility to the force of language. He becomes more and more
liable to strike harder than he knows or intends. He may be careful to
put on his boxing-gloves, and yet forget that, the older they grow, the
more plainly may the knuckles inside be felt. Moreover, in the heat of
contest, the eye is insensibly drawn to the crown of victory, whose
tawdry tinsel glitters through that dust of the ring which obscures
Truth's wreath of simple leaves. I have sometimes thought that my young
friend, Mr. Biglow, needed a monitory hand laid on his arm,--_aliquid
sufflaminandus erat_. I have never thought it good husbandry to water
the tender plants of reform with _aqua fortis_, yet, where so much is to
do in the beds, he were a sorry gardener who should wage a whole day's
war with an iron scuffle on those ill weeds that make the garden-walks
of life unsightly, when a sprinkle of Attic salt will wither them up.
_Est ars etiam maledicendi_, says Scaliger, and truly it is a hard thing
to say where the graceful gentleness of the lamb merges in downright
sheepishness. We may conclude with worthy and wise Dr. Fuller, that 'one
may be a lamb in private wrongs, but in hearing general affronts to
goodness they are asses which are not lions.'--H.W.]
Guvener B. is a sensible man;
He stays to his home an' looks arter his folks;
He draws his furrer ez straight ez he can,
An' into nobody's tater-patch pokes;
But John P.
Sez be wunt vote fer Guvener B.
My! aint it terrible? Wut shall we du?
We can't never choose him o' course,--thet's flat;
Guess we shall hev to come round, (don't you?)
An' go in fer thunder an' guns, an' all that;
Fer John P.
Sez he wunt vote fer Guvener B.
Gineral C. is a dreffle smart man:
He's ben on all sides thet gives places or pelf;
But consistency still wuz a part of his plan,--
He's ben true to _one_ party,--an' thet is himself;--
So John P.
Sez he shall vote fer Gineral C.
Gineral C. he goes in fer the war;
He don't vally princerple more'n an old cud;
Wut did God make us raytional creeturs fer,
But glory an' gunpowder, plunder an' blood?
So John P.
Sez he shall vote fer Gineral C.
We were gittin' on nicely up here to our village,
With good old idees o' wut's right an' wut aint,
We kind o' thought Christ went agin war an' pillage,
An' thet eppyletts worn't the best mark of a saint;
But John P.
Sez this kind o' thing's an exploded idee.
The side of our country must ollers be took,
An' Presidunt Polk, you know, _he_ is our country.
An' the angel thet writes all our sins in a book
Puts the _debit_ to him, an' to us the _per contry;_
An' John P.
Sez this is his view o' the thing to a T.
Parson Wilbur he calls all these argimunts lies;
Sez they're nothin' on airth but jest _fee, faw, fum;_
An' thet all this big talk of our destinies
Is half on it ign'ance, an' t'other half rum;
But John P.
Sez it aint no sech thing: an' of course, so must we.
Parson Wilbur sez _he_ never heerd in his life
Thet th' Apostles rigged out in their swaller-tail coats,
An' marched round in front of a drum an' a fife,
To git some on 'em office, an' some on 'em votes;
But John P.
Sez they didn't know everythin' down in Judee.
Wal, it's a marcy we've gut folks to tell us
The rights an' the wrongs o' these matters, I vow,--
God sends country lawyers, an' other wise fellers,
To start the world's team wen it gits in a slough;
Fer John P.
Sez the world'll go right, ef he hollers out Gee!
[The attentive reader will doubtless have perceived in the foregoing
poem an allusion to that pernicious sentiment,--'Our country, right or
wrong.' It is an abuse of language to call a certain portion of land,
much more, certain personages, elevated for the time being to high
station, our country. I would not sever nor loosen a single one of those
ties by which we are united to the spot of our birth, nor minish by a
tittle the respect due to the Magistrate. I love our own Bay State too
well to do the one, and as for the other, I have myself for nigh forty
years exercised, however unworthily, the function of Justice of the
Peace, having been called thereto by the unsolicited kindness of that
most excellent man and upright patriot, Caleb Strong. _Patriae fumus
igne alieno luculentior_ is best qualified with this,--_Ubi libertas, ibi
patria_. We are inhabitants of two worlds, and owe a double, but not a
divided, allegiance. In virtue of our clay, this little ball of earth
exacts a certain loyalty of us, while, in our capacity as spirits, we
are admitted citizens of an invisible and holier fatherland. There is a
patriotism of the soul whose claim absolves us from our other and
terrene fealty. Our true country is that ideal realm which we represent
to ourselves under the names of religion, duty, and the like. Our
terrestrial organizations are but far-off approaches to so fair a model,
and all they are verily traitors who resist not any attempt to divert
them from this their original intendment. When, therefore, one would
have us to fling up our caps and shout with the multitude,--'_Our
country, however bounded!_' he demands of us that we sacrifice the
larger to the less, the higher to the lower, and that we yield to the
imaginary claims of a few acres of soil our duty and privilege as
liegemen of Truth. Our true country is bounded on the north and the
south, on the east and the west, by Justice, and when she oversteps that
invisible boundary-line by so much as a hair's-breadth, she ceases to be
our mother, and chooses rather to be looked upon _quasi noverca_. That
is a hard choice when our earthly love of country calls upon us to tread
one path and our duty points us to another. We must make as noble and
becoming an election as did Penelope between Icarius and Ulysses.
Veiling our faces, we must take silently the hand of Duty to follow her.
Shortly after the publication of the foregoing poem, there appeared some
comments upon it in one of the public prints which seemed to call for
animadversion. I accordingly addressed to Mr. Buckingham, of the Boston
Courier, the following letter.
JAALAM, November 4, 1847.
'_To the Editor of the Courier:_
'RESPECTED SIR,--Calling at the post-office this morning, our worthy and
efficient postmaster offered for my perusal a paragraph in the Boston
Morning Post of the 3d instant, wherein certain effusions of the
pastoral muse are attributed to the pen of Mr. James Russell Lowell. For
aught I know or can affirm to the contrary, this Mr. Lowell may be a
very deserving person and a youth of parts (though I have seen verses of
his which I could never rightly understand); and if he be such, he, I am
certain, as well as I, would be free from any proclivity to appropriate
to himself whatever of credit (or discredit) may honestly belong to
another. I am confident, that, in penning these few lines, I am only
forestalling a disclaimer from that young gentleman, whose silence
hitherto, when rumor pointed to himward, has excited in my bosom mingled
emotions of sorrow and surprise. Well may my young parishioner, Mr.
Biglow, exclaim with the poet,
"Sic vos non vobis," &c.;
though, in saying this, I would not convey the impression that he is a
proficient in the Latin tongue,--the tongue, I might add, of a Horace
and a Tully.
'Mr. B. does not employ his pen, I can safely say, for any lucre of
worldly gain, or to be exalted by the carnal plaudits of men, _digito
monstrari, &c_. He does not wait upon Providence for mercies, and in his
heart mean _merces_. But I should esteem myself as verily deficient in
my duty (who am his friend and in some unworthy sort his spiritual
_fidus Achates_, &c.), if I did not step forward to claim for him
whatever measure of applause might be assigned to him by the judicious.
'If this were a fitting occasion, I might venture here a brief
dissertation touching the manner and kind of my young friend's poetry.
But I dubitate whether this abstruser sort of speculation (though
enlivened by some apposite instances from Aristophanes) would
sufficiently interest your oppidan readers. As regards their satirical
tone, and their plainness of speech, I will only say, that, in my
pastoral experience, I have found that the Arch-Enemy loves nothing
better than to be treated as a religious, moral, and intellectual being,
and that there is no _apage Sathanas!_ so potent as ridicule. But it is
a kind of weapon that must have a button of good-nature on the point of
'The productions of Mr. B. have been stigmatized in some quarters as
unpatriotic; but I can vouch that he loves his native soil with that
hearty, though discriminating, attachment which springs from an intimate
social intercourse of many years' standing. In the ploughing season, no
one has a deeper share in the well-being of the country than he. If Dean
Swift were right in saying that he who makes two blades of grass grow
where one grew before confers a greater benefit on the state than he who
taketh a city, Mr. B. might exhibit a fairer claim to the Presidency
than General Scott himself. I think that some of those disinterested
lovers of the hard-handed democracy, whose fingers have never touched
anything rougher than the dollars of our common country, would hesitate
to compare palms with him. It would do your heart good, respected Sir,
to see that young man mow. He cuts a cleaner and wider swath than any in
'But it is time for me to be at my Post. It is very clear that my young
friend's shot has struck the lintel, for the Post is shaken (Amos ix.
1). The editor of that paper is a strenuous advocate of the Mexican war,
and a colonel, as I am given to understand. I presume, that, being
necessarily absent in Mexico, he has left his journal in some less
judicious hands. At any rate, the Post has been too swift on this
occasion. It could hardly have cited a more incontrovertible line from
any poem than that which it has selected for animadversion, namely,--
"We kind o' thought Christ went agin war an' pillage."
'If the Post maintains the converse of this proposition, it can hardly
be considered as a safe guide-post for the moral and religious portions
of its party, however many other excellent qualities of a post it may be
blessed with. There is a sign in London on which is painted,--"The Green
Man." It would do very well as a portrait of any individual who should
support so unscriptural a thesis. As regards the language of the line
in question, I am bold to say that He who readeth the hearts of men will
not account any dialect unseemly which conveys a sound, and pious
sentiment. I could wish that such sentiments were more common, however
uncouthly expressed. Saint Ambrose affirms, that _veritas a quocunque_
(why not, then, _quomodocunque?) dicatur, a, spiritu sancto est_. Digest
also this of Baxter: "The plainest words are the most profitable oratory
in the weightiest matters."
'When the paragraph in question was shown to Mr. Biglow, the only part
of it which seemed to give him any dissatisfaction was that which
classed him with the Whig party. He says, that, if resolutions are a
nourishing kind of diet, that party must be in a very hearty and
flourishing condition; for that they have quietly eaten more good ones
of their own baking than he could have conceived to be possible without
repletion. He has been for some years past (I regret to say) an ardent
opponent of those sound doctrines of protective policy which form so
prominent a portion of the creed of that party. I confess, that, in some
discussions which I have had with him on this point in my study, he has
displayed a vein of obstinacy which I had not hitherto detected in his
composition. He is also (_horresco referens_) infected in no small
measure with the peculiar notions of a print called the Liberator, whose
heresies I take every proper opportunity of combating, and of which, I
thank God, I have never read a single line.
'I did not see Mr. B.'s verses until they appeared in print, and there
_is_ certainly one thing in them which I consider highly improper. I
allude to the personal references to myself by name. To confer notoriety
on an humble individual who is laboring quietly in his vocation, and who
keeps his cloth as free as he can from the dust of the political arena
(though _voe mihi si non evangelizavero_), is no doubt an indecorum. The
sentiments which he attributes to me I will not deny to be mine. They
were embodied, though in a different form, in a discourse preached upon
the last day of public fasting, and were acceptable to my entire people
(of whatever political views), except the postmaster, who dissented _ex
officio_. I observe that you sometimes devote a portion of your paper to
a religious summary. I should be well pleased to furnish a copy of my
discourse for insertion in this department of your instructive journal.
By omitting the advertisements, it might easily be got within the limits
of a single number, and I venture to insure you the sale of some scores
of copies in this town. I will cheerfully render myself responsible for
ten. It might possibly be advantageous to issue it as an _extra_. But
perhaps you will not esteem it an object, and I will not press it. My
offer does not spring from any weak desire of seeing my name in print;
for I can enjoy this satisfaction at any time by turning to the
Triennial Catalogue of the University, where it also possesses that
added emphasis of Italics with which those of my calling are
'I would simply add, that I continue to fit ingenuous youth for college,
and that I have two spacious and airy sleeping apartments at this moment
unoccupied. _Ingenuas didicisse_, &c. Terms, which vary according to the
circumstances of the parents, may be known on application to me by
letter, post-paid. In all cases the lad will be expected to fetch his
own towels. This rule, Mrs. W. desires me to add, has no exceptions.
'Respectfully, your obedient servant,
'HOMER WILBUR, A.M.