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The Complete Poetical Works of James Russell Lowell by James Lowell

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'P.S. Perhaps the last paragraph may look like an attempt to obtain the
insertion of my circular gratuitously. If it should appear to you in
that light, I desire that you would erase it, or charge for it at the
usual rates, and deduct the amount from the proceeds in your hands from
the sale of my discourse, when it shall be printed. My circular is much
longer and more explicit, and will be forwarded without charge to any
who may desire it. It has been very neatly executed on a letter sheet,
by a very deserving printer, who attends upon my ministry, and is a
creditable specimen of the typographic art. I have one hung over my
mantelpiece in a neat frame, where it makes a beautiful and appropriate
ornament, and balances the profile of Mrs. W., cut with her toes by the
young lady born without arms.


I have in the foregoing letter mentioned General Scott in connection
with the Presidency, because I have been given to understand that he has
blown to pieces and otherwise caused to be destroyed more Mexicans than
any other commander. His claim would therefore be deservedly considered
the strongest. Until accurate returns of the Mexicans killed, wounded,
and maimed be obtained, it will be difficult to settle these nice points
of precedence. Should it prove that any other officer has been more
meritorious and destructive than General S., and has thereby rendered
himself more worthy of the confidence and support of the conservative
portion of our community, I shall cheerfully insert his name, instead of
that of General S., in a future edition. It may be thought, likewise,
that General S. has invalidated his claims by too much attention to the
decencies of apparel, and the habits belonging to a gentleman. These
abstruser points of statesmanship are beyond my scope. I wonder not that
successful military achievement should attract the admiration of the
multitude. Rather do I rejoice with wonder to behold how rapidly this
sentiment is losing its hold upon the popular mind. It is related of
Thomas Warton, the second of that honored name who held the office of
Poetry Professor at Oxford, that, when one wished to find him, being
absconded, as was his wont, in some obscure alehouse, he was counselled
to traverse the city with a drum and fife, the sound of which inspiring
music would be sure to draw the Doctor from his retirement into the
street. We are all more or less bitten with this martial insanity.
_Nescio qua dulcedine ... cunctos ducit_. I confess to some infection of
that itch myself. When I see a Brigadier-General maintaining his
insecure elevation in the saddle under the severe fire of the
training-field, and when I remember that some military enthusiasts,
through haste, inexperience, or an over-desire to lend reality to those
fictitious combats, will sometimes discharge their ramrods, I cannot but
admire, while I deplore, the mistaken devotion of those heroic officers.
_Semel insanivimus omnes_. I was myself, during the late war with Great
Britain, chaplain of a regiment, which was fortunately never called to
active military duty. I mention this circumstance with regret rather
than pride. Had I been summoned to actual warfare, I trust that I might
have been strengthened to bear myself after the manner of that reverend
father in our New England Israel, Dr. Benjamin Colman, who, as we are
told in Turell's life of him, when the vessel in which he had taken
passage for England was attacked by a French privateer, 'fought like a
philosopher and a Christian, ... and prayed all the while he charged and
fired.' As this note is already long, I shall not here enter upon a
discussion of the question, whether Christians may lawfully be soldiers.
I think it sufficiently evident, that, during the first two centuries of
the Christian era, at least, the two professions were esteemed
incompatible. Consult Jortin on this head,--H.W.]

No. IV



[The ingenious reader will at once understand that no such speech as the
following was ever _totidem verbis_ pronounced. But there are simpler
and less guarded wits, for the satisfying of which such an explanation
may be needful. For there are certain invisible lines, which as Truth
successively overpasses, she becomes Untruth to one and another of us,
as a large river, flowing from one kingdom into another, sometimes takes
a new name, albeit the waters undergo no change, how small soever. There
is, moreover, a truth of fiction more veracious than the truth of fact,
as that of the Poet, which represents to us things and events as they
ought to be, rather than servilely copies them as they are imperfectly
imaged in the crooked and smoky glass of our mundane affairs. It is this
which makes the speech of Antonius, though originally spoken in no wider
a forum than the brain of Shakespeare, more historically valuable than
that other which Appian has reported, by as much as the understanding of
the Englishman was more comprehensive than that of the Alexandrian. Mr.
Biglow, in the present instance, has only made use of a license assumed
by all the historians of antiquity, who put into the mouths of various
characters such words as seem to them most fitting to the occasion and
to the speaker. If it be objected that no such oration could ever have
been delivered, I answer, that there are few assemblages for
speech-making which do not better deserve the title of _Parliamentum
Indoctorum_ than did the sixth Parliament of Henry the Fourth, and that
men still continue to have as much faith in the Oracle of Fools as ever
Pantagruel had. Howell, in his letters, recounts a merry tale of a
certain ambassador of Queen Elizabeth, who, having written two
letters,--one to her Majesty, and the other to his wife,--directed them
at cross-purposes, so that the Queen was beducked and bedeared and
requested to send a change of hose, and the wife was beprincessed and
otherwise unwontedly besuperlatived, till the one feared for the wits of
her ambassador, and the other for those of her husband. In like manner
it may be presumed that our speaker has misdirected some of his
thoughts, and given to the whole theatre what he would have wished to
confide only to a select auditory at the back of the curtain. For it is
seldom that we can get any frank utterance from men, who address, for
the most part, a Buncombe either in this world or the next. As for their
audiences, it may be truly said of our people, that they enjoy one
political institution in common with the ancient Athenians: I mean a
certain profitless kind of, _ostracism_, wherewith, nevertheless, they
seem hitherto well enough content. For in Presidential elections, and
other affairs of the sort, whereas I observe that the _oysters_ fall to
the lot of comparatively few, the _shells_ (such as the privileges of
voting as they are told to do by the _ostrivori_ aforesaid, and of
huzzaing at public meetings) are very liberally distributed among the
people, as being their prescriptive and quite sufficient portion.

The occasion of the speech is supposed to be Mr. Palfrey's refusal to
vote for the Whig candidate for the Speakership.--H.W.]

No? Hez he? He haint, though? Wut? Voted agin him?
Ef the bird of our country could ketch him, she'd skin him;
I seem 's though I see her, with wrath in each quill,
Like a chancery lawyer, afilin' her bill,
An' grindin' her talents ez sharp ez all nater,
To pounce like a writ on the back o' the traitor.
Forgive me, my friends, ef I seem to be het,
But a crisis like this must with vigor be met;
Wen an Arnold the star-spangled banner bestains,
Holl Fourth o' Julys seem to bile in my veins. 10

Who ever'd ha' thought sech a pisonous rig
Would be run by a chap thet wuz chose fer a Wig?
'We knowed wut his princerples wuz 'fore we sent him'?
Wut wuz there in them from this vote to prevent him?
A marciful Providunce fashioned us holler
O' purpose thet we might our princerples swaller;
It can hold any quantity on 'em, the belly can,
An' bring 'em up ready fer use like the pelican,
Or more like the kangaroo, who (wich is stranger)
Puts her family into her pouch wen there's danger. 20
Aint princerple precious? then, who's goin' to use it
Wen there's resk o' some chap's gittin' up to abuse it?
I can't tell the wy on 't, but nothin' is so sure
Ez thet princerple kind o' gits spiled by exposure;[19]
A man that lets all sorts o' folks git a sight on 't
Ough' to hev it all took right away, every mite on 't;
Ef he cant keep it all to himself wen it's wise to,
He aint one it's fit to trust nothin' so nice to.

Besides, ther's a wonderful power in latitude
To shift a man's morril relations an' attitude; 30
Some flossifers think thet a fakkilty's granted
The minnit it's proved to be thoroughly wanted,
Thet a change o' demand makes a change o' condition,
An' thet everythin' 's nothin' except by position;
Ez, for instance, thet rubber-trees fust begun bearin'
Wen p'litikle conshunces come into wearin',
Thet the fears of a monkey, whose holt chanced to fail,
Drawed the vertibry out to a prehensile tail;
So, wen one's chose to Congriss, ez soon ez he's in it,
A collar grows right round his neck in a minnit, 40
An' sartin it is thet a man cannot be strict
In bein' himself, when he gits to the Deestrict,
Fer a coat thet sets wal here in ole Massachusetts,
Wen it gits on to Washinton, somehow askew sets.

Resolves, do you say, o' the Springfield Convention?
Thet's precisely the pint I was goin' to mention;
Resolves air a thing we most gen'ally keep ill,
They're a cheap kind o' dust fer the eyes o' the people;
A parcel o' delligits jest git together
An' chat fer a spell o' the crops an' the weather, 50
Then, comin' to order, they squabble awile
An' let off the speeches they're ferful'll spile;
Then--Resolve,--Thet we wunt hev an inch o' slave territory;
Thet President Polk's holl perceedins air very tory;
Thet the war is a damned war, an' them thet enlist in it
Should hev a cravat with a dreffle tight twist in it;
Thet the war is a war fer the spreadin' o' slavery;
Thet our army desarves our best thanks fer their bravery;
Thet we're the original friends o' the nation,
All the rest air a paltry an' base fabrication; 60
Thet we highly respect Messrs. A, B, an' C,
An' ez deeply despise Messrs. E, F, an' G.
In this way they go to the eend o' the chapter,
An' then they bust out in a kind of a raptur
About their own vartoo, an' folks's stone-blindness
To the men thet 'ould actilly do 'em a kindness,--
The American eagle,--the Pilgrims thet landed,--
Till on ole Plymouth Rock they git finally stranded.
Wal, the people they listen an' say, 'Thet's the ticket;
Ez fer Mexico, 'taint no great glory to lick it, 70
But 'twould be a darned shame to go pullin' o' triggers
To extend the aree of abusin' the niggers.'

So they march in percession, an' git up hooraws,
An' tramp thru the mud far the good o' the cause,
An' think they're a kind o' fulfillin' the prophecies,
Wen they're on'y jest changin' the holders of offices;
Ware A sot afore, B is comf'tably seated,
One humbug's victor'ous an' t' other defeated,
Each honnable doughface gits jest wut he axes,
An' the people,--their annooal soft-sodder an' taxes. 80

Now, to keep unimpaired all these glorious feeturs
Thet characterize morril an' reasonin' creeturs,
Thet give every paytriot all he can cram,
Thet oust the untrustworthy Presidunt Flam,
An' stick honest Presidunt Sham in his place,
To the manifest gain o' the holl human race,
An' to some indervidgewals on 't in partickler,
Who love Public Opinion an' know how to tickle her,--
I say thet a party with gret aims like these
Must stick jest ez close ez a hive full o' bees. 90

I'm willin' a man should go tollable strong
Agin wrong in the abstract, fer thet kind o' wrong
Is ollers unpop'lar an' never gits pitied,
Because it's a crime no one never committed;
But he mus'n't be hard on partickler sins,
Coz then he'll be kickin' the people's own shins;
On'y look at the Demmercrats, see wut they've done
Jest simply by stickin' together like fun;
They've sucked us right into a mis'able war
Thet no one on airth aint responsible for; 100
They've run us a hundred cool millions in debt
(An' fer Demmercrat Horners there's good plums left yet);
They talk agin tayriffs, but act fer a high one,
An' so coax all parties to build up their Zion;
To the people they're ollers ez slick ez molasses,
An' butter their bread on both sides with The Masses,
Half o' whom they've persuaded, by way of a joke,
Thet Washinton's mantlepiece fell upon Polk.

Now all o' these blessin's the Wigs might enjoy,
Ef they'd gumption enough the right means to imploy;[20] 110
Fer the silver spoon born in Dermoc'acy's mouth
Is a kind of a scringe thet they hev to the South;
Their masters can cuss 'em an' kick 'em an' wale 'em.
An' they notice it less 'an the ass did to Balaam;
In this way they screw into second-rate offices
Wich the slaveholder thinks 'ould substract too much off his ease;
The file-leaders, I mean, du, fer they, by their wiles,
Unlike the old viper, grow fat on their files.
Wal, the Wigs hev been tryin' to grab all this prey frum 'em
An' to hook this nice spoon o' good fortin' away frum 'em, 120
An' they might ha' succeeded, ez likely ez not,
In lickin' the Demmercrats all round the lot,
Ef it warn't thet, wile all faithful Wigs were their knees on,
Some stuffy old codger would holler out,--'Treason!
You must keep a sharp eye on a dog thet hez bit you once,
An' _I_ aint agoin' to cheat my constitoounts,'--
Wen every fool knows thet a man represents
Not the fellers thet sent him, but them on the fence,--
Impartially ready to jump either side
An' make the fust use of a turn o' the tide,-- 130
The waiters on Providunce here in the city,
Who compose wut they call a State Centerl Committy,
Constitoounts air hendy to help a man in,
But arterwards don't weigh the heft of a pin,
Wy, the people can't all live on Uncle Sam's pus,
So they've nothin' to du with 't fer better or wus;
It's the folks thet air kind o' brought up to depend on 't
Thet hev any consarn in 't, an' thet is the end on 't.
Now here wuz New England ahevin' the honor
Of a chance at the Speakership showered upon her;-- 140
Do you say, 'She don't want no more Speakers, but fewer;
She's hed plenty o' them, wut she wants is a _doer'_?
Fer the matter o' thet, it's notorous in town
Thet her own representatives du her quite brown.
But thet's nothin' to du with it; wut right hed Palfrey
To mix himself up with fanatical small fry?
Warn't we gittin' on prime with our hot an' cold blowin',
Acondemnin' the war wilst we kep' it agoin'?
We'd assumed with gret skill a commandin' position.
On this side or thet, no one couldn't tell wich one, 150
So, wutever side wipped, we'd a chance at the plunder
An' could sue fer infringin' our paytented thunder;
We were ready to vote fer whoever wuz eligible,
Ef on all pints at issoo he'd stay unintelligible.
Wal, sposin' we hed to gulp down our perfessions.
We were ready to come out next mornin' with fresh ones;
Besides, ef we did, 'twas our business alone,
Fer couldn't we du wut we would with our own?
An' ef a man can, wen pervisions hev riz so,
Eat up his own words, it's a marcy it is so. 160
Wy, these chaps frum the North, with back-bones to 'em, darn 'em,
'Ould be wuth more 'an Gennle Tom Thumb is to Barnum:
Ther's enough thet to office on this very plan grow,
By exhibitin' how very small a man can grow;
But an M.C. frum here ollers hastens to state he
Belongs to the order called invertebraty,
Wence some gret filologists judge primy fashy
Thet M.C. is M.T. by paronomashy;
An' these few exceptions air _loosus naytury_
Folks 'ould put down their quarters to stare at, like fury. 170
It's no use to open the door o' success,
Ef a member can bolt so fer nothin' or less;
Wy, all o' them grand constitootional pillers
Our fore-fathers fetched with 'em over the billers,
Them pillers the people so soundly hev slep' on,
Wile to slav'ry, invasion, an' debt they were swep' on,
Wile our Destiny higher an' higher kep' mountin'
(Though I guess folks'll stare wen she hends her account in),
Ef members in this way go kickin' agin 'em,
They wunt hev so much ez a feather left in 'em. 180

An', ez fer this Palfrey,[21] we thought wen we'd gut him in,
He'd go kindly in wutever harness we put him in;
Supposin' we _did_ know thet he wuz a peace man?
Does he think he can be Uncle Sammle's policeman,
An' wen Sam gits tipsy an' kicks up a riot,
Lead him off to the lockup to snooze till he's quiet?
Wy, the war is a war thet true paytriots can bear, ef
It leads to the fat promised land of a tayriff;
_We_ don't go an' fight it, nor aint to be driv on,
Nor Demmercrats nuther, thet hev wut to live on; 190
Ef it aint jest the thing thet's well pleasin' to God,
It makes us thought highly on elsewhere abroad;
The Rooshian black eagle looks blue in his eerie
An' shakes both his heads wen he hears o' Monteery;
In the Tower Victory sets, all of a fluster,
An' reads, with locked doors, how we won Cherry Buster;
An' old Philip Lewis--thet come an' kep' school here
Fer the mere sake o' scorin his ryalist ruler
On the tenderest part of our kings _in futuro_--
Hides his crown underneath an old shut in his bureau, 200
Breaks off in his brags to a suckle o' merry kings,
How he often hed hided young native Amerrikins,
An' turnin' quite faint in the midst of his fooleries,
Sneaks down stairs to bolt the front door o' the Tooleries.[22]
You say, 'We'd ha' seared 'em by growin' in peace,
A plaguy sight more then by bobberies like these'?
Who is it dares say thet our naytional eagle
Won't much longer be classed with the birds thet air regal,
Coz theirn be hooked beaks, an' she, arter this slaughter,
'll bring back a bill ten times longer 'n she'd ough' to? 210
Wut's your name? Come, I see ye, you up-country feller,
You've put me out severil times with your beller;
Out with it! Wut? Biglow? I say nothin' furder,
Thet feller would like nothin' better 'n a murder;
He's a traiter, blasphemer, an' wut ruther worse is,
He puts all his ath'ism in dreffle bad verses;
Socity aint safe till sech monsters air out on it,
Refer to the Post, ef you hev the least doubt on it;
Wy, he goes agin war, agin indirect taxes,
Agin sellin' wild lands 'cept to settlers with axes, 220
Agin holdin' o' slaves, though he knows it's the corner
Our libbaty rests on, the mis'able scorner!
In short, he would wholly upset with his ravages
All thet keeps us above the brute critters an' savages,
An' pitch into all kinds o' briles an' confusions
The holl of our civerlized, free institutions;
He writes fer thet ruther unsafe print, the Courier,
An' likely ez not hez a squintin' to Foorier;
I'll be----, thet is, I mean I'll be blest,
Ef I hark to a word frum so noted a pest; 230
I sha'nt talk with _him_, my religion's too fervent.
Good mornin', my friends, I'm your most humble servant.

[Into the question whether the ability to express ourselves in
articulate language has been productive of more good or evil, I shall
not here enter at large. The two faculties of speech and of
speech-making are wholly diverse in their natures. By the first we make
ourselves intelligible, by the last unintelligible, to our fellows. It
has not seldom occurred to me (noting how in our national legislature
everything runs to talk, as lettuces, if the season or the soil be
unpropitious, shoot up lankly to seed, instead of forming handsome
heads) that Babel was the first Congress, the earliest mill erected for
the manufacture of gabble. In these days, what with Town Meetings,
School Committees, Boards (lumber) of one kind and another, Congresses,
Parliaments, Diets, Indian Councils, Palavers, and the like, there is
scarce a village which has not its factories of this description driven
by milk-and-water power. I cannot conceive the confusion of tongues to
have been the curse of Babel, since I esteem my ignorance of other
languages as a kind of Martello-tower, in which I am safe from the
furious bombardments of foreign garrulity. For this reason I have ever
preferred the study of the dead languages, those primitive formations
being Ararats upon whose silent peaks I sit secure and watch this new
deluge without fear, though it rain figures (_simulacra_, semblances) of
speech forty days and nights together, as it not uncommonly happens.
Thus is my coat, as it were, without buttons by which any but a vernacular
wild bore can seize me. Is it not possible that the Shakers may intend
to convey a quiet reproof and hint, in fastening their outer garments
with hooks and eyes?

This reflection concerning Babel, which I find in no Commentary, was
first thrown upon my mind when an excellent deacon of my congregation
(being infected with the Second Advent delusion) assured me that he had
received a first instalment of the gift of tongues as a small earnest of
larger possessions in the like kind to follow. For, of a truth, I could
not reconcile it with my ideas of the Divine justice and mercy that the
single wall which protected people of other languages from the
incursions of this otherwise well-meaning propagandist should be broken

In reading Congressional debates, I have fancied, that, after the
subsidence of those painful buzzings in the brain which result from such
exercises, I detected a slender residuum of valuable information. I made
the discovery that _nothing_ takes longer in the saying than anything
else, for as _ex nihilo nihil fit_, so from one polypus _nothing_ any
number of similar ones may be produced. I would recommend to the
attention of _viva voce_ debaters and controversialists the admirable
example of the monk Copres, who, in the fourth century, stood for half
an hour in the midst of a great fire, and thereby silenced a Manichaean
antagonist who had less of the salamander in him. As for those who
quarrel in print, I have no concern with them here, since the eyelids
are a divinely granted shield against all such. Moreover, I have
observed in many modern books that the printed portion is becoming
gradually smaller, and the number of blank or fly-leaves (as they are
called) greater. Should this fortunate tendency of literature continue,
books will grow more valuable from year to year, and the whole Serbonian
bog yield to the advances of firm arable land.

The sagacious Lacedaemonians, hearing that Tesephone had bragged that he
could talk all day long on any given subject, made no more ado, but
forthwith banished him, whereby they supplied him a topic and at the
same time took care that his experiment upon it should be tried out of

I have wondered, in the Representatives' Chamber of our own
Commonwealth, to mark how little impression seemed to be produced by
that emblematic fish suspended over the heads of the members. Our wiser
ancestors, no doubt, hung it there as being the animal which the
Pythagoreans reverenced for its silence, and which certainly in that
particular does not so well merit the epithet _cold blooded_, by which
naturalists distinguish it, as certain bipeds, afflicted with
ditch-water on the brain, who take occasion to tap themselves in Faneuil
Halls, meeting-houses, and other places of public resort.--H.W.]

No. V



[The incident which gave rise to the debate satirized in the following
verses was the unsuccessful attempt of Drayton and Sayres to give
freedom to seventy men and women, fellow-beings and fellow-Christians.
Had Tripoli, instead of Washington, been the scene of this undertaking,
the unhappy leaders in it would have been as secure of the theoretic as
they now are of the practical part of martyrdom. I question whether the
Dey of Tripoli is blessed with a District Attorney so benighted as ours
at the seat of government. Very fitly is he named Key, who would allow
himself to be made the instrument of locking the door of hope against
sufferers in such a cause. Not all the waters of the ocean can cleanse
the vile smutch of the jailer's fingers from off that little Key.
_Ahenea clavis_, a brazen Key indeed!

Mr. Calhoun, who is made the chief speaker in this burlesque, seems to
think that the light of the nineteenth century is to be put out as soon
as he tinkles his little cow-bell curfew. Whenever slavery is touched,
he sets up his scarecrow of dissolving the Union. This may do for the
North, but I should conjecture that something more than a
pumpkin-lantern is required to scare manifest and irretrievable Destiny
out of her path. Mr. Calhoun cannot let go the apron-string of the Past.
The Past is a good nurse, but we must be weaned from her sooner or
later, even though, like Plotinus, we should run home from school to ask
the breast, after we are tolerably well-grown youths. It will not do for
us to hide our faces in her lap, whenever the strange Future holds out
her arms and asks us to come to her.

But we are all alike. We have all heard it said, often enough, that
little boys must not play with fire; and yet, if the matches be taken
away from us, and put out of reach upon the shelf, we must needs get
into our little corner, and scowl and stamp and threaten the dire
revenge of going to bed without our supper. The world shall stop till we
get our dangerous plaything again. Dame Earth, meanwhile, who has more
than enough household matters to mind, goes bustling hither and thither
as a hiss or a sputter tells her that this or that kettle of hers is
boiling over, and before bedtime we are glad to eat our porridge cold,
and gulp down our dignity along with it.

Mr. Calhoun has somehow acquired the name of a great statesman, and, if
it be great statesmanship to put lance in rest and run a tilt at the
Spirit of the Age with the certainty of being next moment hurled neck
and heels into the dust amid universal laughter, he deserves the title.
He is the Sir Kay of our modern chivalry. He should remember the old
Scandinavian mythus. Thor was the strongest of gods, but he could not
wrestle with Time, nor so much as lift up a fold of the great snake
which bound the universe together; and when he smote the Earth, though
with his terrible mallet, it was but as if a leaf had fallen. Yet all
the while it seemed to Thor that he had only been wrestling with an old
woman, striving to lift a cat, and striking a stupid giant on the head.

And in old times, doubtless, the giants _were_ stupid, and there was no
better sport for the Sir Launcelots and Sir Gawains than to go about
cutting off their great blundering heads with enchanted swords. But
things have wonderfully changed. It is the giants, nowadays, that have
the science and the intelligence, while the chivalrous Don Quixotes of
Conservatism still cumber themselves with the clumsy armor of a bygone
age. On whirls the restless globe through unsounded time, with its
cities and its silences, its births and funerals, half light, half
shade, but never wholly dark, and sure to swing round into the happy
morning at last. With an involuntary smile, one sees Mr. Calhoun letting
slip his pack-thread cable with a crooked pin at the end of it to anchor
South Carolina upon the bank and shoal of the Past.--H.W.]


MR. EDITER, As i wuz kinder prunin round, in a little nussry sot out a
year or 2 a go, the Dbait in the sennit cum inter my mine An so i took &
Sot it to wut I call a nussry rime. I hev made sum onnable Gentlemun
speak thut dident speak in a Kind uv Poetikul lie sense the seeson is
dreffle backerd up This way

ewers as ushul


'Here we stan' on the Constitution, by thunder!
It's a fact o' wich ther's bushils o' proofs;
Fer how could we trample on 't so, I wonder,
Ef 't worn't thet it's ollers under our hoofs?'
Sez John C. Calhoun, sez he:--
'Human rights haint no more
Right to come on this floor,
No more 'n the man in the moon,' sez he.

'The North haint no kind o' bisness with nothin,'
An' you've no idee how much bother it saves; 10
We aint none riled by their frettin' an' frothin',
We're _used_ to layin' the string on our slaves,'
Sez John C. Calhoun, sez he;--
Sez Mister Foote,
'I should like to shoot
The holl gang, by the gret horn spoon!' sez he.

'Freedom's Keystone is Slavery, thet ther's no doubt on,
It's sutthin' thet's--wha' d' ye call it?--divine,--
An' the slaves thet we ollers _make_ the most out on
Air them north o' Mason an' Dixon's line,' 20
Sez John C. Calhoun, sez he;--
'Fer all that,' sez Mangum,
''Twould be better to hang 'em
An' so git red on 'em soon,' sez he.

'The mass ough' to labor an' we lay on soffies,
Thet's the reason I want to spread Freedom's aree;
It puts all the cunninest on us in office,
An' reelises our Maker's orig'nal idee,'
Sez John C. Calhoun, sez he;--
'Thet's ez plain,' sez Cass, 30
'Ez thet some one's an ass,
It's ez clear ez the sun is at noon,' sez he.

'Now don't go to say I'm the friend of oppression,
But keep all your spare breath fer coolin' your broth,
Fer I ollers hev strove (at least thet's my impression)
To make cussed free with the rights o' the North,'
Sez John C. Calhoun, sez he;--
'Yes,' sez Davis o' Miss.,
'The perfection o' bliss
Is in skinnin' thet same old coon,' sez he. 40

'Slavery's a thing thet depends on complexion,
It's God's law thet fetters on black skins don't chafe;
Ef brains wuz to settle it (horrid reflection!)
Wich of our onnable body 'd be safe?'
Sez John C. Calhoun, sez he;--
Sez Mister Hannegan,
Afore he began agin,
'Thet exception is quite oppertoon,' sez he.

'Gennle Cass, Sir, you needn't be twitchin' your collar,
_Your_ merit's quite clear by the dut on your knees, 50
At the North we don't make no distinctions o' color;
You can all take a lick at our shoes wen you please,'
Sez John C. Calhoun, sez he;--
Sez Mister Jarnagin,
'They wun't hev to larn agin,
They all on 'em know the old toon,' sez he.

'The slavery question aint no ways bewilderin,'
North an' South hev one int'rest, it's plain to a glance;
No'thern men, like us patriarchs, don't sell their childrin,
But they _du_ sell themselves, ef they git a good chance,' 60
Sez John C. Calhoun, sez he;--
Sez Atherton here,
'This is gittin' severe,
I wish I could dive like a loon,' sez he.

'It'll break up the Union, this talk about freedom,
An' your fact'ry gals (soon ez we split) 'll make head,
An' gittin' some Miss chief or other to lead 'em,
'll go to work raisin' permiscoous Ned,'
Sez John C. Calhoun, sez he;--
'Yes, the North,' sez Colquitt, 70
'Ef we Southeners all quit,
Would go down like a busted balloon,' sez he.

'Jest look wut is doin', wut annyky's brewin'
In the beautiful clime o' the olive an' vine,
All the wise aristoxy's atumblin' to ruin,
An' the sankylots drorin' an' drinkin' their wine,'
Sez John C. Calhoun, sez he;--
'Yes,' sez Johnson, 'in France
They're beginnin' to dance
Beelzebub's own rigadoon,' sez he. 80

'The South's safe enough, it don't feel a mite skeery,
Our slaves in their darkness an' dut air tu blest
Not to welcome with proud hallylugers the ery
Wen our eagle kicks yourn from the naytional nest,'
Sez John C. Calhoun, sez he;--
'Oh,' sez Westcott o' Florida,
'Wut treason is horrider
Then our priv'leges tryin' to proon?' sez he.

'It's 'coz they're so happy, thet, wen crazy sarpints
Stick their nose in our bizness, we git so darned riled; 90
We think it's our dooty to give pooty sharp hints,
Thet the last crumb of Edin on airth sha'n't be spiled,'
Sez John C. Calhoun, sez he;--
'Ah,' sez Dixon H. Lewis,
'It perfectly true is
Thet slavery's airth's grettest boon,' sez he.

[It was said of old time, that riches have wings; and, though this be
not applicable in a literal strictness to the wealth of our patriarchal
brethren of the South, yet it is clear that their possessions have legs,
and an unaccountable propensity for using them in a northerly direction.
I marvel that the grand jury of Washington did not find a true bill
against the North Star for aiding and abetting Drayton and Sayres. It
would have been quite of a piece with the intelligence displayed by the
South on other questions connected with slavery. I think that no ship of
state was ever freighted with a more veritable Jonah than this same
domestic institution of ours. Mephistopheles himself could not feign so
bitterly, so satirically sad a sight as this of three millions of human
beings crushed beyond help or hope by this one mighty argument,--_Our
fathers knew no better!_ Nevertheless, it is the unavoidable destiny of
Jonahs to be cast overboard sooner or later. Or shall we try the
experiment of hiding our Jonah in a safe place, that none may lay hands
on him to make jetsam of him? Let us, then, with equal forethought and
wisdom, lash ourselves to the anchor, and await, in pious confidence,
the certain result. Perhaps our suspicious passenger is no Jonah after
all, being black. For it is well known that a superintending Providence
made a kind of sandwich of Ham and his descendants, to be devoured by
the Caucasian race.

In God's name, let all, who hear nearer and nearer the hungry moan of
the storm and the growl of the breakers, speak out! But, alas! we have
no right to interfere. If a man pluck an apple of mine, he shall be in
danger of the justice; but if he steal my brother, I must be silent. Who
says this? Our Constitution, consecrated by the callous consuetude of
sixty years, and grasped in triumphant argument by the left hand of him
whose right hand clutches the clotted slave-whip. Justice, venerable
with the undethronable majesty of countless aeons, says,--SPEAK! The
Past, wise with the sorrows and desolations of ages, from amid her
shattered fanes and wolf-housing palaces, echoes,--SPEAK! Nature,
through her thousand trumpets of freedom, her stars, her sunrises, her
seas, her winds, her cataracts, her mountains blue with cloudy pines,
blows jubilant encouragement, and cries,--SPEAK! From the soul's
trembling abysses the still, small voice not vaguely murmurs,--SPEAK!
But, alas! the Constitution and the Honorable Mr. Bagowind, M.C.,
say--BE DUMB!

It occurs to me to suggest, as a topic of inquiry in this connection,
whether, on that momentous occasion when the goats and the sheep shall
be parted, the Constitution and the Honorable Mr. Bagowind, M.C., will
be expected to take their places on the left as our hircine vicars.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Quem patronum rogaturus?

There is a point where toleration sinks into sheer baseness and
poltroonery. The toleration of the worst leads us to look on what is
barely better as good enough, and to worship what is only moderately
good. Woe to that man, or that nation, to whom mediocrity has become an

Has our experiment of self-government succeeded, if it barely manage to
_rub and go?_ Here, now, is a piece of barbarism which Christ and the
nineteenth century say shall cease, and which Messrs. Smith, Brown, and
others say shall _not_ cease. I would by no means deny the eminent
respectability of these gentlemen, but I confess, that, in such a
wrestling match, I cannot help having my fears for them.

_Discite justitiam, moniti, et non temnere divos_.


No. VI


[At the special instance of Mr. Biglow, I preface the following satire
with an extract from a sermon preached during the past summer, from
Ezekiel xxxiv. 2: 'Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of
Israel.' Since the Sabbath on which this discourse was delivered, the
editor of the 'Jaalam Independent Blunderbuss' has unaccountably
absented himself from our house of worship.

'I know of no so responsible position as that of the public journalist.
The editor of our day bears the same relation to his time that the clerk
bore to the age before the invention of printing. Indeed, the position
which he holds is that which the clergyman should hold even now. But the
clergyman chooses to walk off to the extreme edge of the world, and to
throw such seed as he has clear over into that darkness which he calls
the Next Life. As if _next_ did not mean _nearest_, and as if any life
were nearer than that immediately present one which boils and eddies all
around him at the caucus, the ratification meeting, and the polls! Who
taught him to exhort men to prepare for eternity, as for some future era
of which the present forms no integral part? The furrow which Time is
even now turning runs through the Everlasting, and in that must he
plant, or nowhere. Yet he would fain believe and teach that we are
_going_ to have more of eternity than we have now. This _going_ of his
is like that of the auctioneer, on which _gone_ follows before we have
made up our minds to bid,--in which manner, not three months back, I
lost an excellent copy of Chappelow on Job. So it has come to pass that
the preacher, instead of being a living force, has faded into an
emblematic figure at christenings, weddings, and funerals. Or, if he
exercise any other function, it is as keeper and feeder of certain
theologic dogmas, which, when occasion offers, he unkennels with a
_staboy!_ "to bark and bite as 'tis their nature to," whence that
reproach of _odium theologicum_ has arisen.

'Meanwhile, see what a pulpit the editor mounts daily, sometimes with a
congregation of fifty thousand within reach of his voice, and never so
much as a nodder, even, among them! And from what a Bible can he choose
his text,--a Bible which needs no translation, and which no priestcraft
can shut and clasp from the laity,--the open volume of the world, upon
which, with a pen of sunshine or destroying fire, the inspired Present
is even now writing the annals of God! Methinks the editor who should
understand his calling, and be equal thereto, would truly deserve that
title of [Greek: poimaen laon], which Homer bestows upon princes. He
would be the Moses of our nineteenth century; and whereas the old Sinai,
silent now, is but a common mountain stared at by the elegant tourist
and crawled over by the hammering geologist, he must find his tables of
the new law here among factories and cities in this Wilderness of Sin
(Numbers xxxiii. 12) called Progress of Civilization, and be the captain
of our Exodus into the Canaan of a truer social order.

'Nevertheless, our editor will not come so far within even the shadow of
Sinai as Mahomet did, but chooses rather to construe Moses by Joe Smith.
He takes up the crook, not that the sheep may be fed, but that he may
never want a warm woollen suit and a joint of mutton.

_Immemor, O, fidei, pecorumque oblite tuorum!_

For which reason I would derive the name _editor_ not so much from
_edo_, to publish, as from _edo_, to eat, that being the peculiar
profession to which he esteems himself called. He blows up the flames of
political discord for no other occasion than that he may thereby handily
boil his own pot. I believe there are two thousand of these
mutton-loving shepherds in the United States, and of these, how many
have even the dimmest perception of their immense power, and the duties
consequent thereon? Here and there, haply, one. Nine hundred and
ninety-nine labor to impress upon the people the great principles of
_Tweedledum_, and other nine hundred and ninety-nine preach with equal
earnestness the gospel according to _Tweedledee_.'--H.W.]

I du believe in Freedom's cause,
Ez fur away ez Payris is;
I love to see her stick her claws
In them infarnal Phayrisees;
It's wal enough agin a king
To dror resolves an' triggers,--
But libbaty's a kind o' thing
Thet don't agree with niggers.

I du believe the people want
A tax on teas an' coffees, 10
Thet nothin' aint extravygunt,--
Purvidin' I'm in office;
For I hev loved my country sence
My eye-teeth filled their sockets,
An' Uncle Sam I reverence,
Partic'larly his pockets.

I du believe in _any_ plan
O' levyin' the texes,
Ez long ez, like a lumberman,
I git jest wut I axes; 20
I go free-trade thru thick an' thin,
Because it kind o' rouses
The folks to vote,--an' keeps us in
Our quiet custom-houses.

I du believe it's wise an' good
To sen' out furrin missions,
Thet is, on sartin understood
An' orthydox conditions;--
I mean nine thousan' dolls. per ann.,
Nine thousan' more fer outfit, 30
An' me to recommend a man
The place 'ould jest about fit.

I du believe in special ways
O' prayin' an' convartin';
The bread comes back in many days,
An' buttered, tu, fer sartin;
I mean in preyin' till one busts
On wut the party chooses,
An' in convartin' public trusts
To very privit uses. 40

I du believe hard coin the stuff
Fer 'lectioneers to spout on;
The people's ollers soft enough
To make hard money out on;
Dear Uncle Sam pervides fer his,
An' gives a good-sized junk to all,--
I don't care _how_ hard money is,
Ez long ez mine's paid punctooal.

I du believe with all my soul
In the gret Press's freedom, 50
To pint the people to the goal
An' in the traces lead 'em;
Palsied the arm thet forges yokes
At my fat contracts squintin',
An' withered be the nose thet pokes
Inter the gov'ment printin'!

I du believe thet I should give
Wut's his'n unto Caesar,
Fer it's by him I move an' live,
Frum him my bread an' cheese air; 60
I du believe thet all o' me
Doth bear his superscription,--
Will, conscience, honor, honesty,
An' things o' thet description.

I du believe in prayer an' praise
To him that hez the grantin'
O' jobs,--in every thin' thet pays,
But most of all in CANTIN';
This doth my cup with marcies fill,
This lays all thought o' sin to rest,-- 70
I _don't_ believe in princerple,
But oh, I _du_ in interest.

I du believe in bein' this
Or thet, ez it may happen
One way or t'other hendiest is
To ketch the people nappln';
It aint by princerples nor men
My preudunt course is steadied,--
I scent wich pays the best, an' then
Go into it baldheaded. 80

I du believe thet holdin' slaves
Comes nat'ral to a Presidunt,
Let 'lone the rowdedow it saves
To hev a wal-broke precedunt:
Fer any office, small or gret,
I couldn't ax with no face,
'uthout I'd ben, thru dry an' wet,
Th' unrizzest kind o' doughface.

I du believe wutever trash
'll keep the people in blindness,-- 90
Thet we the Mexicuns can thrash
Right inter brotherly kindness,
Thet bombshells, grape, an' powder 'n' ball
Air good-will's strongest magnets,
Thet peace, to make it stick at all,
Must be druv in with bagnets.

In short, I firmly du believe
In Humbug generally,
Fer it's a thing thet I perceive
To hev a solid vally; 100
This heth my faithful shepherd ben,
In pasturs sweet heth led me,
An' this'll keep the people green
To feed ez they hev fed me.

[I subjoin here another passage from my before-mentioned discourse.

'Wonderful, to him that has eyes to see it rightly, is the newspaper. To
me, for example, sitting on the critical front bench of the pit, in my
study here in Jaalam, the advent of my weekly journal is as that of a
strolling theatre, or rather of a puppet-show, on whose stage, narrow as
it is, the tragedy, comedy, and farce of life are played in little.
Behold the whole huge earth sent to me hebdomadally in a brown-paper

'Hither, to my obscure corner, by wind or steam, on horseback or
dromedary-back, in the pouch of the Indian runner, or clicking over the
magnetic wires, troop all the famous performers from the four quarters
of the globe. Looked at from a point of criticism, tiny puppets they
seem all, as the editor sets up his booth upon my desk and officiates as
showman. Now I can truly see how little and transitory is life. The
earth appears almost as a drop of vinegar, on which the solar microscope
of the imagination must be brought to bear in order to make out
anything distinctly. That animalcule there, in the pea-jacket, is Louis
Philippe, just landed on the coast of England. That other, in the gray
surtout and cocked hat, is Napoleon Bonaparte Smith, assuring France
that she need apprehend no interference from him in the present alarming
juncture. At that spot, where you seem to see a speck of something in
motion, is an immense mass-meeting. Look sharper, and you will see a
mite brandishing his mandibles in an excited manner. That is the great
Mr. Soandso, defining his position amid tumultuous and irrepressible
cheers. That infinitesimal creature, upon whom some score of others, as
minute as he, are gazing in open-mouthed admiration, is a famous
philosopher, expounding to a select audience their capacity for the
Infinite. That scarce discernible pufflet of smoke and dust is a
revolution. That speck there is a reformer, just arranging the lever
with which he is to move the world. And lo, there creeps forward the
shadow of a skeleton that blows one breath between its grinning teeth,
and all our distinguished actors are whisked off the slippery stage into
the dark Beyond.

'Yes, the little show-box has its solemner suggestions. Now and then we
catch a glimpse of a grim old man, who lays down a scythe and hour-glass
in the corner while he shifts the scenes. There, too, in the dim
background, a weird shape is ever delving. Sometimes he leans upon his
mattock, and gazes, as a coach whirls by, bearing the newly married on
their wedding jaunt, or glances carelessly at a babe brought home from
christening. Suddenly (for the scene grows larger and larger as we look)
a bony hand snatches back a performer in the midst of his part, and him,
whom yesterday two infinities (past and future) would not suffice, a
handful of dust is enough to cover and silence forever. Nay, we see the
same fleshless fingers opening to clutch the showman himself, and guess,
not without a shudder, that they are lying in wait for spectator also.

'Think of it: for three dollars a year I buy a season-ticket to this
great Globe Theatre, for which God would write the dramas (only that we
like farces, spectacles, and the tragedies of Apollyon better), whose
scene-shifter is Time, and whose curtain is rung down by Death.

'Such thoughts will occur to me sometimes as I am tearing off the
wrapper of my newspaper. Then suddenly that otherwise too often vacant
sheet becomes invested for me with a strange kind of awe. Look! deaths
and marriages, notices of inventions, discoveries, and books, lists of
promotions, of killed, wounded, and missing, news of fires, accidents,
of sudden wealth and as sudden poverty;--I hold in my hand the ends of
myriad invisible electric conductors, along which tremble the joys,
sorrows, wrongs, triumphs, hopes, and despairs of as many men and women
everywhere. So that upon that mood of mind which seems to isolate me
from mankind as a spectator of their puppet-pranks, another supervenes,
in which I feel that I, too, unknown and unheard of, am yet of some
import to my fellows. For, through my newspaper here, do not families
take pains to send me, an entire stranger, news of a death among them?
Are not here two who would have me know of their marriage? And,
strangest of all, is not this singular person anxious to have me
informed that he has received a fresh supply of Dimitry Bruisgins? But
to none of us does the Present continue miraculous (even if for a moment
discerned as such). We glance carelessly at the sunrise, and get used to
Orion and the Pleiades. The wonder wears off, and to-morrow this sheet,
(Acts x. 11, 12) in which a vision was let down to me from Heaven, shall
be the wrappage to a bar of soap or the platter for a beggar's broken




[Curiosity may be said to be the quality which preeminently
distinguishes and segregates man from the lower animals. As we trace the
scale of animated nature downward, we find this faculty (as it may truly
he called) of the mind diminished in the savage, and wellnigh extinct
in the brute. The first object which civilized man proposes to himself I
take to be the finding out whatsoever he can concerning his neighbors.
_Nihil humanum a me alienum puto;_ I am curious about even John Smith.
The desire next in strength to this (an opposite pole, indeed, of the
same magnet) is that of communicating the unintelligence we have
carefully picked up.

Men in general may be divided into the inquisitive and the
communicative. To the first class belong Peeping Toms, eaves-droppers,
navel-contemplating Brahmins, metaphysicians, travellers, Empedocleses,
spies, the various societies for promoting Rhinothism, Columbuses,
Yankees, discoverers, and men of science, who present themselves to the
mind as so many marks of interrogation wandering up and down the world,
or sitting in studies and laboratories. The second class I should again
subdivide into four. In the first subdivision I would rank those who
have an itch to tell us about themselves,--as keepers of diaries,
insignificant persons generally, Montaignes, Horace Walpoles,
autobiographers, poets. The second includes those who are anxious to
impart information concerning other people,--as historians, barbers, and
such. To the third belong those who labor to give us intelligence about
nothing at all,--as novelists, political orators, the large majority of
authors, preachers, lecturers, and the like. In the fourth come those
who are communicative from motives of public benevolence,--as finders of
mares'-nests and bringers of ill news. Each of us two-legged fowls
without feathers embraces all these subdivisions in himself to a greater
or less degree, for none of us so much as lays an egg, or incubates a
chalk one, but straightway the whole barnyard shall know it by our
cackle or our cluck. _Omnibus hoc vitium est_. There are different
grades in all these classes. One will turn his telescope toward a
back-yard, another toward Uranus; one will tell you that he dined with
Smith, another that he supped with Plato. In one particular, all men may
be considered as belonging to the first grand division, inasmuch as they
all seem equally desirous of discovering the mote in their neighbor's eye.

To one or another of these species every human being may safely be
referred. I think it beyond a peradventure that Jonah prosecuted some
inquiries into the digestive apparatus of whales, and that Noah sealed
up a letter in an empty bottle, that news in regard to him might not be
wanting in case of the worst. They had else been super or subter human.
I conceive, also, that, as there are certain persons who continually
peep and pry at the keyhole of that mysterious door through which,
sooner or later, we all make our exits, so there are doubtless ghosts
fidgeting and fretting on the other side of it, because they have no
means of conveying back to this world the scraps of news they have
picked up in that. For there is an answer ready somewhere to every
question, the great law of _give and take_ runs through all nature, and
if we see a hook, we may be sure that an eye is waiting for it. I read
in every face I meet a standing advertisement of information wanted in
regard to A.B., or that the friends of C.D. can hear something to his
disadvantage by application to such a one.

It was to gratify the two great passions of asking and answering that
epistolary correspondence was first invented. Letters (for by this
usurped title epistles are now commonly known) are of several kinds.
First, there are those which are not letters at all--as letters-patent,
letters dismissory, letters enclosing bills, letters of administration,
Pliny's letters, letters of diplomacy, of Cato, of Mentor, of Lords
Lyttelton, Chesterfield, and Orrery, of Jacob Behmen, Seneca (whom St.
Jerome includes in his list of sacred writers), letters from abroad,
from sons in college to their fathers, letters of marque, and letters
generally, which are in no wise letters of mark. Second, are real
letters, such as those of Gray, Cowper, Walpole, Howell, Lamb, D.Y., the
first letters from children (printed in staggering capitals), Letters
from New York, letters of credit, and others, interesting for the sake
of the writer or the thing written. I have read also letters from Europe
by a gentleman named Pinto, containing some curious gossip, and which I
hope to see collected for the benefit of the curious. There are,
besides, letters addressed to posterity,--as epitaphs, for example,
written for their own monuments by monarchs, whereby we have lately
become possessed of the names of several great conquerors and kings of
kings, hitherto unheard of and still unpronounceable, but valuable to
the student of the entirely dark ages. The letter of our Saviour to King
Abgarus, that which St. Peter sent to King Pepin in the year of grace
755, that of the Virgin to the magistrates of Messina, that of the
Sanhedrim of Toledo to Annas and Caiaphas, A.D. 35, that of Galeazzo
Sforza's spirit to his brother Lodovico, that of St. Gregory
Thaumaturgus to the D----l, and that of this last-mentioned active
police-magistrate to a nun of Girgenti, I would place in a class by
themselves, as also the letters of candidates, concerning which I shall
dilate more fully in a note at the end of the following poem. At present
_sat prata biberunt_. Only, concerning the shape of letters, they are
all either square or oblong, to which general figures circular letters
and round-robins also conform themselves.--H.W.]

Deer Sir its gut to be the fashun now to rite letters to the candid 8s
and i wus chose at a publick Meetin in Jaalam to du wut wus nessary fur
that town. i writ to 271 ginerals and gut ansers to 209. tha air called
candid 8s but I don't see nothin candid about 'em. this here 1 wich I
send wus thought satty's factory. I dunno as it's ushle to print
Poscrips, but as all the ansers I got hed the saim, I sposed it wus
best. times has gretly changed. Formaly to knock a man into a cocked hat
wus to use him up, but now it ony gives him a chance fur the cheef

Dear Sir,--You wish to know my notions
On sartin pints thet rile the land;
There's nothin' thet my natur so shuns
Ez bein' mum or underhand;
I'm a straight-spoken kind o' creetur
Thet blurts right out wut's in his head.
An' ef I've one pecooler feetur,
It is a nose thet wunt be led.

So, to begin at the beginnin'
An' come direcly to the pint, 10
I think the country's underpinnin'
Is some consid'ble out o' jint;
I aint agoin' to try your patience
By tellin' who done this or thet,
I don't make no insinooations,
I jest let on I smell a rat.

Thet is, I mean, it seems to me so,
But, ef the public think I'm wrong,
I wunt deny but wut I be so,--
An' fact, it don't smell very strong; 20
My mind's tu fair to lose its balance
An' say wich party hez most sense;
There may be folks o' greater talence
Thet can't set stiddier on the fence.

I'm an eclectic; ez to choosin'
'Twixt this an' thet, I'm plaguy lawth;
I leave a side thet looks like losin',
But (wile there's doubt) I stick to both;
I stan' upon the Constitution,
Ez preudunt statesman say, who've planned 30
A way to git the most profusion
O' chances ez to _ware_ they'll stand.

Ez fer the war, I go agin it,--
I mean to say I kind o' du,--
Thet is, I mean thet, bein' in it,
The best way wuz to fight it thru';
Not but wut abstract war is horrid,
I sign to thet with all my heart,--
But civlyzation _doos_ git forrid 39
Sometimes upon a powder-cart.

About thet darned Proviso matter
I never hed a grain o' doubt.
Nor I aint one my sense to scatter
So 'st no one couldn't pick it out;
My love fer North an' South is equil,
So I'll jest answer plump an' frank,
No matter wut may be the sequil,--
Yes, Sir, I _am_ agin a Bank.

Ez to the answerin' o' questions,
I'm an off ox at bein' druv, 50
Though I ain't one thet ary test shuns
'll give our folks a helpin' shove;
Kind o' permiscoous I go it
Fer the holl country, an' the ground
I take, ez nigh ez I can show it,
Is pooty gen'ally all round.

I don't appruve o' givin' pledges;
You'd ough' to leave a feller free,
An' not go knockin' out the wedges
To ketch his fingers in the tree;
Pledges air awfle breachy cattle 61
Thet preudunt farmers don't turn out,--
Ez long 'z the people git their rattle,
Wut is there fer 'em to grout about?

Ez to the slaves, there's no confusion
In _my_ idees consarnin' them,--
_I_ think they air an Institution,
A sort of--yes, jest so,--ahem:
Do _I_ own any? Of my merit
On thet pint you yourself may jedge; 70
All is, I never drink no sperit,
Nor I haint never signed no pledge.

Ez to my princerples, I glory
In hevin' nothin' o' the sort;
I aint a Wig, I aint a Tory,
I'm jest a canderdate, in short;
Thet's fair an' square an' parpendicler
But, ef the Public cares a fig
To hev me an'thin' in particler,
Wy, I'm a kind o' peri-Wig. 80


Ez we're a sort o' privateerin',
O' course, you know, it's sheer an' sheer,
An' there is sutthin' wuth your hearin'
I'll mention in _your_ privit ear;
Ef you git _me_ inside the White House,
Your head with ile I'll kin' o' 'nint
By gittin' _you_ inside the Lighthouse
Down to the eend o' Jaalam Pint.
An' ez the North hez took to brustlin'
At bein' scrouged frum off the roost, 90
I'll tell ye wut'll save all tusslin'
An' give our side a harnsome boost,--
Tell 'em thet on the Slavery question
I'm RIGHT, although to speak I'm lawth;
This gives you a safe pint to rest on,
An' leaves me frontin' South by North.

[And now of epistles candidatial, which are of two kinds,--namely,
letters of acceptance, and letters definitive of position. Our republic,
on the eve of an election, may safely enough be called a republic of
letters. Epistolary composition becomes then an epidemic, which seizes
one candidate after another, not seldom cutting short the thread of
political life. It has come to such a pass, that a party dreads less the
attacks of its opponents than a letter from its candidate. _Litera
scripta manet_, and it will go hard if something bad cannot be made of
it. General Harrison, it is well understood, was surrounded, during his
candidacy, with the _cordon sanitaire_ of a vigilance committee. No
prisoner in Spielberg was ever more cautiously deprived of writing
materials. The soot was scraped carefully from the chimney-places;
outposts of expert rifle-shooters rendered it sure death for any goose
(who came clad in feathers) to approach within a certain limited
distance of North Bend; and all domestic fowls about the premises were
reduced to the condition of Plato's original man. By these precautions
the General was saved. _Parva componere magnis_, I remember, that, when
party-spirit once ran high among my people, upon occasion of the choice
of a new deacon, I, having my preferences, yet not caring too openly to
express them, made use of an innocent fraud to bring about that result
which I deemed most desirable. My stratagem was no other than the
throwing a copy of the Complete Letter-Writer in the way of the
candidate whom I wished to defeat. He caught the infection, and
addressed a short note to his constituents, in which the opposite party
detected so many and so grave improprieties (he had modelled it upon the
letter of a young lady accepting a proposal of marriage), that he not
only lost his election, but, falling under a suspicion of Sabellianism
and I know not what (the widow Endive assured me that he was a
Paralipomenon, to her certain knowledge), was forced to leave the town.
Thus it is that the letter killeth.

The object which candidates propose to themselves in writing is to
convey no meaning at all. And here is a quite unsuspected pitfall into
which they successively plunge headlong. For it is precisely in such
cryptographies that mankind are prone to seek for and find a wonderful
amount and variety of significance. _Omne ignotum pro mirifico_. How do
we admire at the antique world striving to crack those oracular nuts
from Delphi, Hammon, and elsewhere, in only one of which can I so much
as surmise that any kernel had ever lodged; that, namely, wherein Apollo
confessed that he was mortal. One Didymus is, moreover, related to have
written six thousand books on the single subject of grammar, a topic
rendered only more tenebrific by the labors of his successors, and which
seems still to possess an attraction for authors in proportion as they
can make nothing of it. A singular loadstone for theologians, also, is
the Beast in the Apocalypse, whereof, in the course of my studies, I
have noted two hundred and three several interpretations, each
lethiferal to all the rest. _Non nostrum est tantas componere lites_,
yet I have myself ventured upon a two hundred and fourth, which I
embodied in a discourse preached on occasion of the demise of the late
usurper, Napoleon Bonaparte, and which quieted, in a large measure, the
minds of my people. It is true that my views on this important point
were ardently controverted by Mr. Shearjashub Holden, the then preceptor
of our academy, and in other particulars a very deserving and sensible
young man, though possessing a somewhat limited knowledge of the Greek
tongue. But his heresy struck down no deep root, and, he having been
lately removed by the hand of Providence, I had the satisfaction of
reaffirming my cherished sentiments in a sermon preached upon the Lord's
day immediately succeeding his funeral. This might seem like taking an
unfair advantage, did I not add that he had made provision in his last
will (being celibate) for the publication of a posthumous tractate in
support of his own dangerous opinions.

I know of nothing in our modern times which approaches so nearly to the
ancient oracle as the letter of a Presidential candidate. Now, among the
Greeks, the eating of beans was strictly forbidden to all such as had it
in mind to consult those expert amphibologists, and this same
prohibition on the part of Pythagoras to his disciples is understood to
imply an abstinence from politics, beans having been used as ballots.
That other explication, _quod videlicet sensus eo cibo obtundi
existimaret_, though supported _pugnis et calcibus_ by many of the
learned, and not wanting the countenance of Cicero, is confuted by the
larger experience of New England. On the whole, I think it safer to
apply here the rule of interpretation which now generally obtains in
regard to antique cosmogonies, myths, fables, proverbial expressions,
and knotty points generally, which is, to find a common-sense meaning,
and then select whatever can be imagined the most opposite thereto. In
this way we arrive at the conclusion, that the Greeks objected to the
questioning of candidates. And very properly, if, as I conceive, the
chief point be not to discover what a person in that position is, or
what he will do, but whether he can be elected. _Vos exemplaria Graeca
nocturna versate manu, versate diurna_.

But, since an imitation of the Greeks in this particular (the asking of
questions being one chief privilege of freemen) is hardly to be hoped
for, and our candidates will answer, whether they are questioned or not,
I would recommend that these ante-electionary dialogues should be
carried on by symbols, as were the diplomatic correspondences of the
Scythians an Macrobii, or confined to the language of signs, like the
famous interview of Panurge and Goatsnose. A candidate might then
convey a suitable reply to all committees of inquiry by closing one eye,
or by presenting them with a phial of Egyptian darkness to be speculated
upon by their respective constituencies. These answers would be
susceptible of whatever retrospective construction the exigencies of the
political campaign might seem to demand, and the candidate could take
his position on either side of the fence with entire consistency. Or, if
letters must be written, profitable use might be made of the Dighton
rock hieroglyphic or the cuneiform script, every fresh decipherer of
which is enabled to educe a different meaning, whereby a sculptured
stone or two supplies us, and will probably continue to supply
posterity, with a very vast and various body of authentic history. For
even the briefest epistle in the ordinary chirography is dangerous.
There is scarce any style so compressed that superfluous words may not
be detected in it. A severe critic might curtail that famous brevity of
Caesar's by two thirds, drawing his pen through the supererogatory
_veni_ and _vidi_. Perhaps, after all, the surest footing of hope is to
be found in the rapidly increasing tendency to demand less and less of
qualification in candidates. Already have statesmanship, experience, and
the possession (nay, the profession, even) of principles been rejected
as superfluous, and may not the patriot reasonably hope that the ability
to write will follow? At present, there may be death in pothooks as well
as pots, the loop of a letter may suffice for a bowstring, and all the
dreadful heresies of Antislavery may lurk in a flourish.--H.W.]



[In the following epistle, we behold Mr. Sawin returning, a _miles
emeritus_, to the bosom of his family. _Quantum mutatus!_ The good
Father of us all had doubtless intrusted to the keeping of this child of
his certain faculties of a constructive kind. He had put in him a share
of that vital force, the nicest economy of every minute atom of which is
necessary to the perfect development of Humanity. He had given him a
brain and heart, and so had equipped his soul with the two strong wings
of knowledge and love, whereby it can mount to hang its nest under the
eaves of heaven. And this child, so dowered, he had intrusted to the
keeping of his vicar, the State. How stands the account of that
stewardship? The State, or Society (call her by what name you will), had
taken no manner of thought of him till she saw him swept out into the
street, the pitiful leavings of last night's debauch, with cigar-ends,
lemon-parings, tobacco-quids, slops, vile stenches, and the whole
loathsome next-morning of the bar-room,--an own child of the Almighty
God! I remember him as he was brought to be christened, a ruddy, rugged
babe; and now there he wallows, reeking, seething,--the dead corpse, not
of a man, but of a soul,--a putrefying lump, horrible for the life that
is in it. Comes the wind of heaven, that good Samaritan, and parts the
hair upon his forehead, nor is too nice to kiss those parched, cracked
lips; the morning opens upon him her eyes full of pitying sunshine, the
sky yearns down to him,--and there he lies fermenting. O sleep! let me
not profane thy holy name by calling that stertorous unconsciousness a
slumber! By and by comes along the State, God's vicar. Does she say, 'My
poor, forlorn foster-child! Behold here a force which I will make dig
and plant and build for me'? Not so, but, 'Here is a recruit ready-made
to my hand, a piece of destroying energy lying unprofitably idle.' So
she claps an ugly gray suit on him, puts a musket in his grasp, and
sends him off, with Gubernatorial and other godspeeds, to do duty as a

I made one of the crowd at the last Mechanics' Fair, and, with the rest,
stood gazing in wonder at a perfect machine, with its soul of fire, its
boiler-heart that sent the hot blood pulsing along the iron arteries,
and its thews of steel. And while I was admiring the adaptation of means
to end, the harmonious involutions of contrivance, and the
never-bewildered complexity, I saw a grimed and greasy fellow, the
imperious engine's lackey and drudge, whose sole office was to let fall,
at intervals, a drop or two of oil upon a certain joint. Then my soul
said within me, See there a piece of mechanism to which that other you
marvel at is but as the rude first effort of a child,--a force which not
merely suffices to set a few wheels in motion, but which can send an
impulse all through the infinite future,--a contrivance, not for turning
out pins, or stitching button-holes, but for making Hamlets and Lears.
And yet this thing of iron shall be housed, waited on, guarded from rust
and dust, and it shall be a crime but so much as to scratch it with a
pin; while the other, with its fire of God in it, shall be buffeted
hither and thither, and finally sent carefully a thousand miles to be
the target for a Mexican cannon-ball. Unthrifty Mother State! My heart
burned within me for pity and indignation, and I renewed this covenant
with my own soul,--_In aliis mansuetus ero, at, in blasphemiis contra
Christum, non ita._.--H.W.]

I spose you wonder ware I be; I can't tell, fer the soul o' me,
Exacly ware I be myself,--meanin' by thet the holl o' me.
Wen I left hum, I hed two legs, an' they worn't bad ones neither,
(The scaliest trick they ever played wuz bringin' on me hither,)
Now one on 'em's I dunno ware;--they thought I wuz adyin',
An' sawed it off because they said 'twuz kin' o' mortifyin';
I'm willin' to believe it wuz, an' yit I don't see, nuther,
Wy one shoud take to feelin' cheap a minnit sooner 'n t'other,
Sence both wuz equilly to blame; but things is ez they be;
It took on so they took it off, an' thet's enough fer me: 10
There's one good thing, though, to be said about my wooden new one,--
The liquor can't git into it ez 't used to in the true one;
So it saves drink; an' then, besides, a feller couldn't beg
A gretter blessin' then to hev one ollers sober peg;
It's true a chap's in want o' two fer follerin' a drum,
But all the march I'm up to now is jest to Kingdom Come.

I've lost one eye, but thet's a loss it's easy to supply
Out o' the glory thet I've gut, fer thet is all my eye;
An' one is big enough, I guess, by diligently usin' it,
To see all I shall ever git by way o' pay fer losin' it; 20
Off'cers I notice, who git paid fer all our thumps an' kickins,
Du wal by keepin' single eyes arter the fattest pickins;
So, ez the eye's put fairly out, I'll larn to go without it,
An' not allow _myself_ to be no gret put out about it.
Now, le' me see, thet isn't all; I used, 'fore leavin' Jaalam,
To count things on my finger-eends, but sutthin' seems to ail 'em:
Ware's my left hand? Oh, darn it, yes, I recollect wut's come on 't;
I haint no left arm but my right, an' thet's gut jest a thumb on 't;
It aint so bendy ez it wuz to cal'late a sum on 't.
I've hed some ribs broke,--six (I b'lieve),--I haint kep' no account on
'em; 30
Wen pensions git to be the talk, I'll settle the amount on 'em.
An' now I'm speakin' about ribs, it kin' o' brings to mind
One thet I couldn't never break,--the one I lef' behind;
Ef you should see her, jest clear out the spout o' your invention
An' pour the longest sweetnin' in about an annooal pension,
An' kin' o' hint (in case, you know, the critter should refuse to be
Consoled) I aint so 'xpensive now to keep ez wut I used to be;
There's one arm less, ditto one eye, an' then the leg thet's wooden
Can be took off an' sot away wenever ther's a puddin'.

I spose you think I'm comin' back ez opperlunt ez thunder, 40
With shiploads o' gold images an' varus sorts o' plunder;
Wal, 'fore I vullinteered, I thought this country wuz a sort o'
Canaan, a reg'lar Promised Land flowin' with rum an' water,
Ware propaty growed up like time, without no cultivation,
An' gold wuz dug ez taters be among our Yankee nation,
Ware nateral advantages were pufficly amazin',
Ware every rock there wuz about with precious stuns wuz blazin'.
Ware mill-sites filled the country up ez thick ez you could cram 'em,
An' desput rivers run about a beggin' folks to dam 'em;
Then there were meetinhouses, tu, chockful o' gold an' silver 50
Thet you could take, an' no one couldn't hand ye in no bill fer;--
Thet's wut I thought afore I went, thet's wut them fellers told us
Thet stayed to hum an' speechified an' to the buzzards sold us;
I thought thet gold-mines could be gut cheaper than Chiny asters,
An' see myself acomin' back like sixty Jacob Astors;
But sech idees soon melted down an' didn't leave a grease-spot;
I vow my holl sheer o' the spiles wouldn't come nigh a V spot;
Although, most anywares we've ben, you needn't break no locks,
Nor run no kin' o' risks, to fill your pocket full o' rocks.
I 'xpect I mentioned in my last some o' the nateral feeturs 60
O' this all-fiered buggy hole in th' way o' awfle creeturs,
But I fergut to name (new things to speak on so abounded)
How one day you'll most die o' thust, an' 'fore the next git drownded.
The clymit seems to me jest like a teapot made o' pewter
Our Preudence hed, thet wouldn't pour (all she could du) to suit her;
Fust place the leaves 'ould choke the spout, so's not a drop 'ould dreen
Then Prude 'ould tip an' tip an' tip, till the holl kit bust clean out,
The kiver-hinge-pin bein' lost, tea-leaves an' tea an' kiver
'ould all come down _kerswosh!_ ez though the dam bust in a river.
Jest so 'tis here; holl months there aint a day o' rainy weather, 70
An' jest ez th' officers 'ould be a layin' heads together
Ez t' how they'd mix their drink at sech a milingtary deepot,--
'Twould pour ez though the lid wuz off the everlastin' teapot.
The cons'quence is, thet I shall take, wen I'm allowed to leave here,
One piece o' propaty along, an' thet's the shakin' fever;
It's reggilar employment, though, an' thet aint thought to harm one,
Nor 'taint so tiresome ez it wuz with t'other leg an' arm on;
An' it's a consolation, tu, although it doosn't pay,
To hev it said you're some gret shakes in any kin' o' way.
'Tworn't very long, I tell ye wut, I thought o' fortin-makin',-- 80
One day a reg'lar shiver-de-freeze, an' next ez good ez bakin',--
One day abrilin' in the sand, then smoth'rin' in the mashes,--
Git up all sound, be put to bed a mess o' hacks an' smashes.
But then, thinks I, at any rate there's glory to be hed,--
Thet's an investment, arter all, thet mayn't turn out so bad;
But somehow, wen we'd fit an' licked, I ollers found the thanks
Gut kin' o' lodged afore they come ez low down ez the ranks;
The Gin'rals gut the biggest sheer, the Cunnles next, an' so on,--
_We_ never gat a blasted mite o' glory ez I know on;
An' spose we hed, I wonder how you're goin' to contrive its 90
Division so's to give a piece to twenty thousand privits;
Ef you should multiply by ten the portion o' the brav'st one,
You wouldn't git more 'n half enough to speak of on a grave-stun;
We git the licks,--we're jest the grist thet's put into War's hoppers;
Leftenants is the lowest grade thet helps pick up the coppers.
It may suit folks thet go agin a body with a soul in 't,
An' aint contented with a hide without a bagnet hole in 't;
But glory is a kin' o' thing _I_ sha'n't pursue no furder,
Coz thet's the off'cers' parquisite,--yourn's on'y jest the murder.

Wal, arter I gin glory up, thinks I at least there's one 100
Thing in the bills we aint bed yit, an' thet's the GLORIOUS FUN;
Ef once we git to Mexico, we fairly may persume we
All day an' night shall revel in the halls o' Montezumy.
I'll tell ye wut _my_ revels wuz, an' see how you would like 'em;
_We_ never gut inside the hall: the nighest ever _I_ come
Wuz stan'in' sentry in the sun (an', fact, it _seemed_ a cent'ry)
A ketchin' smells o' biled an' roast thet come out thru the entry,
An' hearin' ez I sweltered thru my passes an' repasses,
A rat-tat-too o' knives an' forks, a clinkty-clink o' glasses:
I can't tell off the bill o' fare the Gin'rals hed inside; 110
All I know is, thet out o' doors a pair o' soles wuz fried,
An' not a hunderd miles away from ware this child wuz posted,
A Massachusetts citizen wuz baked an' biled an' roasted;
The on'y thing like revellin' thet ever come to me
Wuz bein' routed out o' sleep by thet darned revelee.

They say the quarrel's settled now; for my part I've some doubt on 't,
't'll take more fish-skin than folks think to take the rile clean on 't;
At any rate I'm so used up I can't do no more fightin',
The on'y chance thet's left to me is politics or writin';
Now, ez the people's gut to hev a milingtary man, 120
An' I aint nothin' else jest now, I've hit upon a plan;
The can'idatin' line, you know, 'ould suit me to a T,
An' ef I lose, 'twunt hurt my ears to lodge another flea;
So I'll set up ez can'idate fer any kin' o' office,
(I mean fer any thet includes good easy-cheers an' soffies;
Fer ez tu runnin' fer a place ware work's the time o' day,
You know thet's wut I never did,--except the other way;)
Ef it's the Presidential cheer fer wich I'd better run,
Wut two legs anywares about could keep up with my one?
There aint no kin' o' quality in can'idates, it's said, 130
So useful eza wooden leg,--except a wooden head;
There's nothin' aint so poppylar--(wy, it 's a parfect sin
To think wut Mexico hez paid fer Santy Anny's pin;)--
Then I haint gut no princerples, an', sence I wuz knee-high,
I never _did_ hev any gret, ez you can testify;
I'm a decided peace-man, tu, an' go agin the war,--
Fer now the holl on 't's gone an' past, wut is there to go _for_?
Ef, wile you're 'lectioneerin' round, some curus chaps should beg
To know my views o' state affairs, jest answer WOODEN LEG!
Ef they aint settisfied with thet, an' kin' o' pry an' doubt 140
An' ax fer sutthin' deffynit, jest say ONE EYE PUT OUT!
Thet kin' o' talk I guess you'll find'll answer to a charm,
An' wen you're druv tu nigh the wall, hol' up my missin' arm;
Ef they should nose round fer a pledge, put on a vartoous look
An' tell 'em thet's precisely wut I never gin nor--took!

Then you can call me 'Timbertoes,'--thet's wut the people likes;
Sutthin' combinin' morril truth with phrases sech ez strikes;
Some say the people's fond o' this, or thet, or wut you please,--
I tell ye wut the people want is jest correct idees;
'Old Timbertoes,' you see, 's a creed it's safe to be quite bold
on, 150
There's nothin' in 't the other side can any ways git hold on;
It's a good tangible idee, a sutthin' to embody
Thet valooable class o' men who look thru brandy-toddy;
It gives a Party Platform, tu, jest level with the mind
Of all right-thinkin', honest folks thet mean to go it blind;
Then there air other good hooraws to dror on ez you need 'em,
Them's wut takes hold o' folks thet think, ez well ez o' the masses,
An' makes you sartin o' the aid o' good men of all classes.

There's one thing I'm in doubt about: in order to be Presidunt, 160
It's absolutely ne'ssary to be a Southern residunt;
The Constitution settles thet, an' also thet a feller
Must own a nigger o' some sort, jet black, or brown, or yeller.
Now I haint no objections agin particklar climes,
Nor agin ownin' anythin' (except the truth sometimes),
But, ez I haint no capital, up there among ye, maybe,
You might raise funds enough fer me to buy a low-priced baby,
An' then to suit the No'thern folks, who feel obleeged to say
They hate an' cus the very thing they vote fer every day,
Say you're assured I go full butt fer Libbaty's diffusion 170
An' make the purchis on'y jest to spite the Institootion;--
But, golly! there's the currier's hoss upon the pavement pawin'!
I'll be more 'xplicit in my next.

[We have now a tolerably fair chance of estimating how the balance-sheet
stands between our returned volunteer and glory. Supposing the entries
to be set down on both sides of the account in fractional parts of one
hundred, we shall arrive at something like the following result:--

B. SAWIN, Esq., _in account with_ (BLANK) GLORY.

By loss of one leg............................................... 20
" do. one arm................................................ 15
" do. four fingers............................................ 5
" do. one eye................................................ 10
" the breaking of six ribs........................................ 6
" having served under Colonel Cushing one month.................. 44
To one 675th three cheers in Faneuil Hall......................... 30
" do. do. on occasion of presentation of sword to Colonel Wright.. 25
To one suit of gray clothes (ingeniously unbecoming).............. 15
" musical entertainments (drum and fife six months)............... 5
" one dinner after return......................................... 1
" chance of pension............................................... 1
" privilege of drawing longbow during rest of natural life....... 23


It should appear that Mr. Sawin found the actual feast curiously the
reverse of the bill of fare advertised in Faneuil Hall and other places.
His primary object seems to have been the making of his fortune.
_Quaerenda pecunia primum, virtus post nummos_. He hoisted sail for
Eldorado, and shipwrecked on Point Tribulation. _Quid, non mortalia
pectora cogis, auri sacra fames?_ The speculation has sometimes crossed
my mind, in that dreary interval of drought which intervenes between
quarterly stipendiary showers, that Providence, by the creation of a
money-tree, might have simplified wonderfully the sometimes perplexing
problem of human life. We read of bread-trees, the butter for which lies
ready-churned in Irish bogs. Milk-trees we are assured of in South
America, and stout Sir John Hawkins testifies to water-trees in the
Canaries. Boot-trees bear abundantly in Lynn and elsewhere; and I have
seen, in the entries of the wealthy, hat-trees with a fair show of
fruit. A family-tree I once cultivated myself, and found therefrom but a
scanty yield, and that quite tasteless and innutritious. Of trees
bearing men we are not without examples; as those in the park of Louis
the Eleventh of France. Who has forgotten, moreover, that olive-tree,
growing in the Athenian's back-garden, with its strange uxorious crop,
for the general propagation of which, as of a new and precious variety,
the philosopher Diogenes, hitherto uninterested in arboriculture, was so
zealous? In the _sylva_ of our own Southern States, the females of my
family have called my attention to the china-tree. Not to multiply
examples, I will barely add to my list the birch-tree, in the smaller
branches of which has been implanted so miraculous a virtue for
communicating the Latin and Greek languages, and which may well,
therefore, be classed among the trees producing necessaries of
life,--_venerabile donum fatalis virgae_. That money-trees existed in
the golden age there want not prevalent reasons for our believing. For
does not the old proverb, when it asserts that money does not grow on
_every_ bush, imply _a fortiori_ that there were certain bushes which
did produce it? Again, there is another ancient saw to the effect that
money is the _root_ of all evil. From which two adages it may be safe to
infer that the aforesaid species of tree first degenerated into a shrub,
then absconded underground, and finally, in our iron age, vanished
altogether. In favorable exposures it may be conjectured that a specimen
or two survived to a great age, as in the garden of the Hesperides; and,
indeed, what else could that tree in the Sixth AEneid have been with a
branch whereof the Trojan hero procured admission to a territory, for
the entering of which money is a surer passport than to a certain other
more profitable and too foreign kingdom? Whether these speculations of
mine have any force in them, or whether they will not rather, by most
readers, be deemed impertinent to the matter in hand, is a question
which I leave to the determination of an indulgent posterity. That there
were, in more primitive and happier times, shops where money was
sold,--and that, too, on credit and at a bargain,--I take to be matter
of demonstration. For what but a dealer in this article was that AEolus
who supplied Ulysses with motive-power for his fleet in bags? what that
Ericus, King of Sweden, who is said to have kept the winds in his cap?
what, in more recent times, those Lapland Nornas who traded in favorable
breezes? All which will appear the more clearly when we consider, that,
even to this day, _raising the wind_ is proverbial for raising money,
and that brokers and banks were invented by the Venetians at a later

And now for the improvement of this digression. I find a parallel to Mr.
Sawin's fortune in an adventure of my own. For, shortly after I had
first broached to myself the before-stated natural-historical and
archaeological theories, as I was passing, _haec negotia penitus mecum
revolvens_, through one of the obscure suburbs of our New England
metropolis, my eye was attracted by these words upon a signboard,--CHEAP
CASH-STORE. Here was at once the confirmation of my speculations, and
the substance of my hopes. Here lingered the fragment of a happier past,
or stretched out the first tremulous organic filament of a more
fortunate future. Thus glowed the distant Mexico to the eyes of Sawin,
as he looked through the dirty pane of the recruiting-office window, or
speculated from the summit of that mirage-Pisgah which the imps of the
bottle are so cunning to raise up. Already had my Alnaschar-fancy (even
during that first half-believing glance) expended in various useful
directions the funds to be obtained by pledging the manuscript of a
proposed volume of discourses. Already did a clock ornament the tower of
the Jaalam meeting-house, a gift appropriately, but modestly,
commemorated in the parish and town records, both, for now many years,
kept by myself. Already had my son Seneca completed his course at the
University. Whether, for the moment, we may not be considered as
actually lording it over those Baratarias with the viceroyalty of which
Hope invests us, and whether we are ever so warmly housed as in our
Spanish castles, would afford matter of argument. Enough that I found
that signboard to be no other than a bait to the trap of a decayed
grocer. Nevertheless, I bought a pound of dates (getting short weight by
reason of immense flights of harpy flies who pursued and lighted upon
their prey even in the very scales), which purchase I made not only with
an eye to the little ones at home, but also as a figurative reproof of
that too frequent habit of my mind, which, forgetting the due order of
chronology, will often persuade me that the happy sceptre of Saturn is
stretched over this Astraea-forsaken nineteenth century.

Having glanced at the ledger of Glory under the title _Sawin, B._, let
us extend our investigations, and discover if that instructive volume
does not contain some charges more personally interesting to ourselves.
I think we should be more economical of our resources, did we thoroughly
appreciate the fact, that, whenever Brother Jonathan seems to be
thrusting his hand into his own pocket, he is, in fact, picking ours. I
confess that the late _muck_ which the country has been running has
materially changed my views as to the best method of raising revenue.
If, by means of direct taxation, the bills for every extraordinary
outlay were brought under our immediate eye, so that, like thrifty
housekeepers, we could see where and how fast the money was going, we
should be less likely to commit extravagances. At present, these things
are managed in such a hugger-mugger way, that we know not what we pay
for; the poor man is charged as much as the rich; and, while we are
saving and scrimping at the spigot, the government is drawing off at the
bung. If we could know that a part of the money we expend for tea and
coffee goes to buy powder and balls, and that it is Mexican blood which
makes the clothes on our backs more costly, it would set some of us
athinking. During the present fall, I have often pictured to myself a
government official entering my study and handing me the following

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 1848,
REV. HOMER WILBUR to _Uncle Samuel_,

To his share of work done in Mexico
on partnership account, sundry
jobs, as below.
"killing, maiming and wounding
about 5000 Mexicans. . . . . . . . $2.00
"slaughtering one woman carrying
water to wounded. . . . . . . . . . .10
"extra work on two different Sabbaths
(one bombardment and one assault),
whereby the Mexicans were prevented
from defiling themselves with the
idolatries of high mass . . . . . . 3.50
"throwing an especially fortunate and
Protestant bomb-shell into the
Cathedral at Vera Cruz, whereby
several female Papists were slain
at the altar. . . . . . . . . . . . .50
"his proportion of cash paid for
conquered territory. . . . . . . . 1.75
"do. do. for conquering do . . . . . 1.50
"manuring do. with new superior
compost called 'American Citizen'. .50
"extending the area of freedom and
Protestantism. . . . . . . . . . . .01
"glory. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .01
_Immediate payment is requested._

N.B. Thankful for former favors, U.S. requests a continuance of
patronage. Orders executed with neatness and despatch. Terms as low as
those of any other contractor for the same kind and style of work.

I can fancy the official answering my look of horror with--'Yes, Sir, it
looks like a high charge. Sir; but in these days slaughtering is
slaughtering.' Verily, I would that every one understood that it was;
for it goes about obtaining money under the false pretence of being
glory. For me, I have an imagination which plays me uncomfortable
tricks. It happens to me sometimes to see a slaughterer on his way home
from his day's work, and forthwith my imagination puts a cocked-hat upon
his head and epaulettes upon his shoulders, and sets him up as a
candidate for the Presidency. So, also, on a recent public occasion, as
the place assigned to the 'Reverend Clergy' is just behind that of
'Officers of the Army and Navy' in processions, it was my fortune to be
seated at the dinner-table over against one of these respectable
persons. He was arrayed as (out of his own profession) only kings,
court-officers, and footmen are in Europe, and Indians in America. Now
what does my over-officious imagination but set to work upon him, strip
him of his gay livery, and present him to me coatless, his trousers
thrust into the tops of a pair of boots thick with clotted blood, and a
basket on his arm out of which lolled a gore-smeared axe, thereby
destroying my relish for the temporal mercies upon the board before me!

No. IX


[Upon the following letter slender comment will be needful. In what
river Selemnus has Mr. Sawin bathed, that he has become so swiftly
oblivious of his former loves? From an ardent and (as befits a soldier)
confident wooer of that coy bride, the popular favor, we see him subside
of a sudden into the (I trust not jilted) Cincinnatus, returning to his
plough with a goodly sized branch of willow in his hand; figuratively
returning, however, to a figurative plough, and from no profound
affection for that honored implement of husbandry (for which, indeed,
Mr. Sawin never displayed any decided predilection), but in order to be
gracefully summoned therefrom to more congenial labors. It should seem
that the character of the ancient Dictator had become part of the
recognized stock of our modern political comedy, though, as our term of
office extends to a quadrennial length, the parallel is not so minutely
exact as could be desired. It is sufficiently so, however, for purposes
of scenic representation. An humble cottage (if built of logs, the
better) forms the Arcadian background of the stage. This rustic paradise
is labelled Ashland, Jaalam, North Bend, Marshfield, Kinderhook, or
Baton Rouge, as occasion demands. Before the door stands a something
with one handle (the other painted in proper perspective), which
represents, in happy ideal vagueness, the plough. To this the defeated
candidate rushes with delirious joy, welcomed as a father by appropriate
groups of happy laborers, or from it the successful one is torn with
difficulty, sustained alone by a noble sense of public duty. Only I have
observed, that, if the scene be laid at Baton Rouge or Ashland, the
laborers are kept carefully in the backgrouud, and are heard to shout
from behind the scenes in a singular tone resembling ululation, and
accompanied by a sound not unlike vigorous clapping. This, however, may
be artistically in keeping with the habits of the rustic population of
those localities. The precise connection between agricultural pursuits
and statesmanship I have not been able, after diligent inquiry, to
discover. But, that my investigations may not be barren of all fruit, I
will mention one curious statistical fact, which I consider thoroughly
established, namely, that no real farmer ever attains practically beyond
a seat in the General Court, however theoretically qualified for more
exalted station.

It is probable that some other prospect has been opened to Mr. Sawin,
and that he has not made this great sacrifice without some definite
understanding in regard to a seat in the cabinet or a foreign mission.
It may be supposed that we of Jaalam were not untouched by a feeling of
villatic pride in beholding our townsman occupying so large a space in
the public eye. And to me, deeply revolving the qualifications necessary
to a candidate in these frugal times, those of Mr. S. seemed peculiarly
adapted to a successful campaign. The loss of a leg, an arm, an eye, and
four fingers reduced him so nearly to the condition of a _vox et
praeterea nihil_ that I could think of nothing but the loss of his head
by which his chance could have been bettered. But since he has chosen to
balk our suffrages, we must content ourselves with what we can get,
remembering _lactucas non esse dandas, dum cardui sufficiant_,--H.W.]

I spose you recollect thet I explained my gennle views
In the last billet thet I writ, 'way down frum Veery Cruze,
Jest arter I'd a kin' o' ben spontanously sot up
To run unannermously fer the Preserdential cup;
O' course it worn't no wish o' mine, 'twuz ferflely distressin',
But poppiler enthusiasm gut so almighty pressin'
Thet, though like sixty all along I fumed an' fussed an' sorrered,
There didn't seem no ways to stop their bringin' on me forrerd:
Fact is, they udged the matter so, I couldn't help admittin'
The Father o' his Country's shoes no feet but mine 'ould fit in, 10
Besides the savin' o' the soles fer ages to succeed,
Seein' thet with one wannut foot, a pair'd be more 'n I need;
An', tell ye wut, them shoes'll want a thund'rin sight o' patchin',
Ef this ere fashion is to last we've gut into o' hatchin'
A pair o' second Washintons fer every new election,--
Though, fer ez number one's consarned, I don't make no objection.

I wuz agoin' on to say thet wen at fust I saw
The masses would stick to 't I wuz the Country's father-'n-law,
(They would ha' hed it _Father_, but I told 'em 'twouldn't du,
Coz thet wuz sutthin' of a sort they couldn't split in tu, 20
An' Washinton hed hed the thing laid fairly to his door,
Nor darsn't say 'tworn't his'n, much ez sixty year afore,)
But 'taint no matter ez to thet; wen I wuz nomernated,
'Tworn't natur but wut I should feel consid'able elated,
An' wile the hooraw o' the thing wuz kind o' noo an' fresh,
I thought our ticket would ha' caird the country with a resh.

Sence I've come hum, though, an' looked round, I think I seem to find
Strong argimunts ez thick ez fleas to make me change my mind;
It's clear to any one whose brain aint fur gone in a phthisis,
Thet hail Columby's happy land is goin' thru a crisis, 30
An' 'twouldn't noways du to hev the people's mind distracted
By bein' all to once by sev'ral pop'lar names attackted;
'Twould save holl haycartloads o' fuss an' three four months o' jaw,
Ef some illustrous paytriot should back out an' withdraw;
So, ez I aint a crooked stick, jest like--like ole (I swow,
I dunno ez I know his name)--I'll go back to my plough.
Wenever an Amerikin distinguished politishin
Begins to try et wut they call definin' his posishin,
Wal, I, fer one, feel sure he ain't gut nothin' to define;
It's so nine cases out o' ten, but jest thet tenth is mine; 40
An' 'taint no more 'n proper 'n' right in sech a sitooation
To hint the course you think'll be the savin' o' the nation;
To funk right out o' p'lit'cal strife aint thought to be the thing,
Without you deacon off the toon you want your folks should sing;
So I edvise the noomrous friends thet's in one boat with me
To jest up killick, jam right down their hellum hard alee,
Haul the sheets taut, an', layin' out upon the Suthun tack,
Make fer the safest port they can, wich, _I_ think, is Ole Zack.

Next thing you'll want to know, I spose, wut argimunts I seem
To see thet makes me think this ere'll be the strongest team; 50
Fust place, I've ben consid'ble round in bar-rooms an' saloons
Agetherin' public sentiment, 'mongst Demmercrats and Coons,
An' 'taint ve'y offen thet I meet a chap but wut goes in
Fer Rough an' Ready, fair an' square, hufs, taller, horns, an' skin;
I don't deny but wut, fer one, ez fur ez I could see,
I didn't like at fust the Pheladelphy nomernee:
I could ha' pinted to a man thet wuz, I guess, a peg
Higher than him,--a soger, tu, an' with a wooden leg;
But every day with more an' more o' Taylor zeal I'm burnin',
Seein' wich way the tide thet sets to office is aturnin'; 60
Wy, into Bellers's we notched the votes down on three sticks,--
'Twuz Birdofredum _one_, Cass _aught_ an Taylor
An' bein' the on'y canderdate thet wuz upon the ground,
They said 'twuz no more 'n right thet I should pay the drinks all round;
Ef I'd expected sech a trick, I wouldn't ha' cut my foot
By goin' an' votin' fer myself like a consumed coot;
It didn't make no deff'rence, though; I wish I may be cust,
Ef Bellers wuzn't slim enough to say he wouldn't trust!

Another pint thet influences the minds o' sober jedges
Is thet the Gin'ral hezn't gut tied hand an' foot with pledges; 70
He hezn't told ye wut he is, an' so there aint no knowin'
But wut he may turn out to be the best there is agoin';
This, at the on'y spot thet pinched, the shoe directly eases,
Coz every one is free to 'xpect percisely wut he pleases:
I want free-trade; you don't; the Gin'ral isn't bound to neither;--
I vote my way; you, yourn; an' both air sooted to a T there.
Ole Rough an' Ready, tu, 's a Wig, but without bein' ultry;
He's like a holsome hayin' day, thet's warm, but isn't sultry;
He's jest wut I should call myself, a kin' of _scratch_ ez 'tware,
Thet aint exacly all a wig nor wholly your own hair; 80
I 've ben a Wig three weeks myself, jest o' this mod'rate sort,
An' don't find them an' Demmercrats so defferent ez I thought;
They both act pooty much alike, an' push an' scrouge an' cus;
They're like two pickpockets in league fer Uncle Samwells pus;
Each takes a side, an' then they squeeze the ole man in between 'em,
Turn all his pockets wrong side out an' quick ez lightnin' clean 'em;
To nary one on 'em I'd trust a secon'-handed rail
No furder off 'an I could sling a bullock by the tail.

Webster sot matters right in thet air Mashfiel' speech o' his'n;
'Taylor,' sez he, 'aint nary ways the one thet I'd a chizzen, 90
Nor he aint fittin' fer the place, an' like ez not he aint
No more 'n a tough ole bullethead, an' no gret of a saint;
But then,' sez he, 'obsarve my pint, he's jest ez good to vote fer
Ez though the greasin' on him worn't a thing to hire Choate fer;
Aint it ez easy done to drop a ballot in a box
Fer one ez 'tis fer t'other, fer the bull-dog ez the fox?'
It takes a mind like Dannel's, fact, ez big ez all ou' doors,
To find out thet it looks like rain arter it fairly pours;
I 'gree with him, it aint so dreffle troublesome to vote
Fer Taylor arter all,--it's jest to go an' change your coat; 100
Wen he's once greased, you'll swaller him an' never know on 't, scurce,
Unless he scratches, goin' down, with them 'ere Gin'ral's spurs.
I've ben a votin' Demmercrat, ez reg'lar as a clock,
But don't find goin' Taylor gives my narves no gret 'f a shock;
Truth is, the cutest leadin' Wigs, ever sence fust they found
Wich side the bread gut buttered on, hev kep' a edgin' round;
They kin' o' slipt the planks frum out th' ole platform one by one
An' made it gradooally noo, 'fore folks khow'd wut wuz done,
Till, fur 'z I know, there aint an inch thet I could lay my han' on,
But I, or any Demmercrat, feels comf'table to stan' on, 110
An' ole Wig doctrines act'lly look, their occ'pants bein' gone,
Lonesome ez steddies on a mash without no hayricks on.

I spose it's time now I should give my thoughts upon the plan,
Thet chipped the shell at Buffalo, o' settin' up ole Van.
I used to vote fer Martin, but, I swan, I'm clean disgusted,--
He aint the man thet I can say is fittin' to be trusted;
He aint half antislav'ry 'nough, nor I aint sure, ez some be,
He'd go in fer abolishin' the Deestrick o' Columby;
An', now I come to recollec', it kin' o' makes me sick 'z
A horse, to think o' wut he wuz in eighteen thirty-six. 120
An' then, another thing;--I guess, though mebby I am wrong,
This Buff'lo plaster aint agoin' to dror almighty strong;
Some folks, I know, hev gut th' idee thet No'thun dough'll rise,
Though, 'fore I see it riz an 'baked, I wouldn't trust my eyes;
'Twill take more emptins, a long chalk, than this noo party's gut,
To give sech heavy cakes ez them a start, I tell ye wut.
But even ef they caird the day, there wouldn't be no endurin'
To stan' upon a platform with sech critters ez Van Buren;--
An' his son John, tu, I can't think how thet 'ere chap should dare
To speak ez he doos; wy, they say he used to cuss an' swear! 130
I spose he never read the hymn thet tells how down the stairs
A feller with long legs wuz throwed thet wouldn't say his prayers.
This brings me to another pint: the leaders o' the party
Aint jest sech men ez I can act along with free an' hearty;
They aint not quite respectable, an' wen a feller's morrils
Don't toe the straightest kin' o' mark, wy, him an' me jest quarrils.
I went to a free soil meetin' once, an' wut d'ye think I see?
A feller was aspoutin' there thet act'lly come to me,
About two year ago last spring, ez nigh ez I can jedge,
An' axed me ef I didn't want to sign the Temprunce pledge! 140
He's one o' them that goes about an' sez you hedn't oughter
Drink nothin', mornin', noon, or night, stronger 'an Taunton water.
There's one rule I've ben guided by, in settlin' how to vote, ollers,--
I take the side thet _isn't_ took by them consarned teetotallers.

Ez fer the niggers, I've ben South, an' thet hez changed my min';
A lazier, more ongrateful set you couldn't nowers fin',
You know I mentioned in my last thet I should buy a nigger,
Ef I could make a purchase at a pooty mod'rate figger;
So, ez there's nothin' in the world I'm fonder of 'an gunnin',
I closed a bargain finally to take a feller runnin'. 150
I shou'dered queen's-arm an' stumped out, an' wen I come t' th' swamp,
'Tworn't very long afore I gut upon the nest o' Pomp;
I come acrost a kin' o' hut, an', playin' round the door,
Some little woolly-headed cubs, ez many 'z six or more.
At fust I thought o' firin', but _think twice_ is safest ollers;
There aint, thinks I, not one on 'em but's wuth his twenty dollars,
Or would be, ef I hed 'em back into a Christian land,--
How temptin' all on 'em would look upon an auction-stand!
(Not but wut _I_ hate Slavery, in th' abstract, stem to starn,--
I leave it ware our fathers did, a privit State consarn.) 160
Soon 'z they see me, they yelled an' run, but Pomp wuz out ahoein'
A leetle patch o' corn he hed, or else there aint no knowin'
He wouldn't ha' took a pop at me; but I hed gut the start,
An' wen he looked, I vow he groaned ez though he'd broke his heart;
He done it like a wite man, tu, ez nat'ral ez a pictur,
The imp'dunt, pis'nous hypocrite! wus 'an a boy constrictur.
'You can't gum _me_, I tell ye now, an' so you needn't try,
I 'xpect my eye-teeth every mail, so jest shet up,' sez I.
'Don't go to actin' ugly now, or else I'll let her strip,
You'd best draw kindly, seein' 'z how I've gut ye on the hip; 170
Besides, you darned ole fool, it aint no gret of a disaster
To be benev'lently druv back to a contented master,
Ware you hed Christian priv'ledges you don't seem quite aware on,
Or you'd ha' never run away from bein' well took care on;
Ez fer kin' treatment, wy, he wuz so fond on ye, he said,
He'd give a fifty spot right out, to git ye, 'live or dead;
Wite folks aint sot by half ez much; 'member I run away,
Wen I wuz bound to Cap'n Jakes, to Mattysqumscot Bay;
Don' know him, likely? Spose not; wal, the mean old codger went
An' offered--wut reward, think? Wal, it worn't no _less_ 'n
a cent.' 180

Wal, I jest gut 'em into line, an' druv 'em on afore me;
The pis'nous brutes, I'd no idee o' the ill-will they bore me;
We walked till som'ers about noon, an' then it grew so hot
I thought it best to camp awile, so I chose out a spot
Jest under a magnoly tree, an' there right down I sot;
Then I unstrapped my wooden leg, coz it begun to chafe,
An' laid it down 'longside o' me, supposin' all wuz safe;
I made my darkies all set down around me in a ring,
An' sot an' kin' o' ciphered up how much the lot would bring;
But, wile I drinked the peaceful cup of a pure heart an' min' 190
(Mixed with some wiskey, now an' then), Pomp he snaked up behin',
An' creepin' grad'lly close tu, ez quiet ez a mink,
Jest grabbed my leg, an' then pulled foot, quicker 'an you could wink,
An', come to look, they each on' em hed gut behin' a tree,
An' Pomp poked out the leg a piece, jest so ez I could see,
An' yelled to me to throw away my pistils an' my gun,

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