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Title: The Complete Poetical Works of James Russell Lowell
Author: Lowell, James Russell, 1819-1891
Language: English
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THE COMPLETE POETICAL
WORKS OF
JAMES RUSSELL
LOWELL


Cabinet Edition


BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
THE RIVERSIDE PRESS, CAMBRIDGE

M DCCCC II



PUBLISHERS' NOTE

Mr. Lowell, the year before he died, edited a definitive edition of his
works, known as the Riverside edition. Subsequently, his literary
executor, Mr. C.E. Norton, issued a final posthumous collection, and the
Cambridge edition followed, including all the poems in the Riverside
edition, and the poems edited by Mr. Norton. The present Cabinet edition
contains all the poems in the Cambridge edition. It is made from new
plates, and for the convenience of the student the longer poems have
their lines numbered, and indexes of titles and first lines are added.

_Autumn, 1899_.



TABLE OF CONTENTS


EARLIER POEMS.

THRENODIA
THE SIRENS
IRENÉ
SERENADE
WITH A PRESSED FLOWER
THE BEGGAR
MY LOVE
SUMMER STORM
LOVE
TO PERDITA, SINGING
THE MOON
REMEMBERED MUSIC
SONG. TO M.L.
ALLEGRA
THE FOUNTAIN
ODE
THE FATHERLAND
THE FORLORN
MIDNIGHT
A PRAYER
THE HERITAGE
THE ROSE: A BALLAD
SONG, 'VIOLET! SWEET VIOLET!'
ROSALINE
A REQUIEM
A PARABLE
SONG, 'O MOONLIGHT DEEP AND TENDER'

SONNETS.
     I. TO A.C.L.
     II. 'WHAT WERE I, LOVE, IF I WERE STRIPPED OF THEE?'
    III. 'I WOULD NOT HAVE THIS PERFECT LOVE OF OURS'
     IV. 'FOR THIS TRUE NOBLENESS I SEEK IN VAIN'
      V. TO THE SPIRIT OF KEATS
     VI. 'GREAT TRUTHS ARE PORTIONS OF THE SOUL OF MAN'
    VII. 'I ASK NOT FOR THOSE THOUGHTS, THAT SUDDEN LEAP'
   VIII. TO M.W., ON HER BIRTHDAY
     IX. 'MY LOVE, I HAVE NO FEAR THAT THOU SHOULDST DIE'
      X. 'I CANNOT THINK THAT THOU SHOULDST PASS AWAY'
     XI. 'THERE NEVER YET WAS FLOWER FAIR IN VAIN'
    XII. SUB PONDERE CRESCIT
   XIII. 'BELOVED, IN THE NOISY CITY HERE'
    XIV. ON READING WORDSWORTH'S SONNETS IN DEFENCE OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
     XV. THE SAME CONTINUED.
    XVI. THE SAME CONTINUED.
   XVII. THE SAME CONTINUED.
  XVIII. THE SAME CONTINUED.
    XIX. THE SAME CONCLUDED.
     XX. TO M.O.S.
    XXI. 'OUR LOVE IS NOT A FADING, EARTHLY FLOWER'
   XXII. IN ABSENCE
  XXIII. WENDELL PHILLIPS
   XXIV. THE STREET
    XXV. 'I GRIEVE NOT THAT RIPE KNOWLEDGE TAKES AWAY'
   XXVI. TO J.R. GIDDINGS
  XXVII. 'I THOUGHT OUR LOVE AT FULL, BUT I DID ERR'
  L'ENVOI

MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.

  A LEGEND OF BRITTANY
  PROMETHEUS
  THE SHEPHERD OF KING ADMETUS
  THE TOKEN
  AN INCIDENT IN A RAILROAD CAR
  RHOECUS
  THE FALCON
  TRIAL
  A GLANCE BEHIMD THE CURTAIN
  A CHIPPEWA LEGEND
  STANZAS ON FREEDOM
  COLUMBUS
  AN INCIDENT OF THE FIRE AT HAMBURG
  THE SOWER
  HUNGER AND COLD
  THE LANDLORD
  TO A PINE-TREE
  SI DESCENDERO IN INFERNUM, ADES
  TO THE PAST
  TO THE FUTURE
  HEBE
  THE SEARCH
  THE PRESENT CRISIS
  AN INDIAN-SUMMER REVERIE
  THE GROWTH OF THE LEGEND
  A CONTRAST
  EXTREME UNCTION
  THE OAK
  AMBROSE
  ABOVE AND BELOW
  THE CAPTIVE
  THE BIRCH-TREE
  AN INTERVIEW WITH MILES STANDISH
  ON THE CAPTURE OF FUGITIVE SLAVES NEAR WASHINGTON
  TO THE DANDELION
  THE GHOST-SEER
  STUDIES FOR TWO HEADS
  ON A PORTRAIT OF DANTE BY GIOTTO
  ON THE DEATH OF A FRIEND'S CHILD
  EURYDICE
  SHE CAME AND WENT
  THE CHANGELING
  THE PIONEER
  LONGING
  ODE TO FRANCE. February, 1848
  ANTI-APIS
  A PARABLE
  ODE WRITTEN FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE INTRODUCTION OF THE COCHITUATE
    WATER INTO THE CITY OF BOSTON
  LINES SUGGESTED BY THE GRAVES OF TWO ENGLISH SOLDIERS ON CONCORD
    BATTLE-GROUND
  TO----
  FREEDOM
  BIBLIOLATRES
  BEAVER BROOK

MEMORIAL VERSES.

  KOSSUTH
  TO LAMARTINE. 1848
  TO JOHN GORHAM PALFREY
  TO W.L. GARRISON
  ON THE DEATH OF CHARLES TURNER TORREY
  ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF DR. CHANNING
  TO THE MEMORY OF HOOD

THE VISION OF SIR LAUNFAL
LETTER FROM BOSTON. December, 1846
A FABLE FOR CRITICS
THE UNHAPPY LOT OF MR. KNOTT
FRAGMENTS OF AN UNFINISHED POEM
AN ORIENTAL APOLOGUE
THE BIGLOW PAPERS.

            FIRST SERIES.

  NOTICES OF AN INDEPENDENT PRESS
  NOTE TO TITLE-PAGE
  INTRODUCTION
  NO. I. A LETTER FROM MR. EZEKIEL BIGLOW OF JAALAM TO THE HON.
    JOSEPH T. BUCKINGHAM
  NO. II. A LETTER FROM MR. HOSEA BIGLOW TO THE HON. J.T.
    BUCKINGHAM
  NO. III. WHAT MR. ROBINSON THINKS
  NO. IV. REMARKS OF INCREASE D. O'PHACE, ESQ.
  NO. V. THE DEBATE IN THE SENNIT
  NO. VI. THE PIOUS EDITOR'S CREED
  NO. VII. A LETTER FROM A CANDIDATE IN THE PRESIDENCY IN ANSWER
    TO SUTTIN QUESTIONS PROPOSED BY Mr. HOSEA BIGLOW
  NO. VIII. A SECOND LETTER FROM B. SAWIN, ESQ.
  NO. IX. A THIRD LETTER FROM B. SAWIN, ESQ.

            SECOND SERIES.

  THE COURTIN'
  NO. I. BIRDOFREDUM SAWIN ESQ., TO MR. HOSEA BIGLOW
  NO. II. MASON AND SLIDELL: A YANKEE IDYLL
      JONATHAN TO JOHN
  NO. III. BIRDOFREDUM SAWIN, ESQ., TO MR. HOSEA BIGLOW
  NO. IV. A MESSAGE OF JEFF DAVIS IN SECRET SESSION
  NO. V. SPEECH OF HONOURABLE PRESERVED DOE IN SECRET CAUCUS
  NO. VI. SUNTHIN' IN THE PASTORAL LINE
  NO. VII. LATEST VIEWS OF MR. BIGLOW
  NO. VIII. KETTELOPOTOMACHIA
  NO. IX. SOME MEMORIALS OF THE LATE REVEREND H. WILBUR
  NO. X. MR. HOSEA BIGLOW TO THE EDITOR OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY
  NO. XI. MR. HOSEA BIGLOW'S SPEECH IN MARCH MEETING

UNDER THE WILLOWS AND OTHER POEMS.

  TO CHARLES ELIOT NORTON
  UNDER THE WILLOWS
  DARA
  THE FIRST SNOW-FALL
  THE SINGING LEAVES
  SEAWEED
  THE FINDING OF THE LYRE
  NEW-YEAR'S EVE, 1850
  FOR AN AUTOGRAPH
  AL FRESCO
  MASACCIO
  WITHOUT AND WITHIN
  GODMINSTER CHIMES
  THE PARTING OF THE WAYS
  ALADDIN
  AN INVITATION. TO JOHN FRANCIS HEATH
  THE NOMADES
  SELF-STUDY
  PICTURES FROM APPLEDORE
  THE WIND-HARP
  AUF WIEDERSEHEN
  PALINODE
  AFTER THE BURIAL
  THE DEAD HOUSE
  A MOOD
  THE VOYAGE TO VINLAND
  MAHMOOD THE IMAGE-BREAKER
  INVITA MINERVA
  THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
  YUSSOUF
  THE DARKENED MIND
  WHAT RABBI JEHOSHA SAID
  ALL-SAINTS
  A WINTER-EVENING HYMN TO MY FIRE
  FANCY'S CASUISTRY
  TO MR. JOHN BARTLETT
  ODE TO HAPPINESS
  VILLA FRANCA. 1859
  THE MINER
  GOLD EGG: A DREAM-FANTASY
  A FAMILIAR EPISTLE TO A FRIEND
  AN EMBER PICTURE
  TO H.W.L.
  THE NIGHTINGALE IN THE STUDY
  IN THE TWILIGHT
  THE FOOT-PATH

POEMS OF THE WAR.

  THE WASHERS OF THE SHROUD
  TWO SCENES FROM THE LIFE OF BLONDEL
  MEMORIAE POSITUM
  ON BOARD THE '76
  ODE RECITED AT THE HARVARD COMMEMORATION
  L'ENVOI: TO THE MUSE
  THE CATHEDRAL
  THREE MEMORIAL POEMS.
    ONE READ AT THE ONE HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FIGHT AT
      CONCORD BRIDGE
    UNDER THE OLD ELM
    AN ODE FOR THE FOURTH OF JULY, 1876

HEARTSEASE AND RUE.

  I. FRIENDSHIP.

    AGASSIZ
    TO HOLMES, ON HIS SEVENTY-FIFTH BIRTHDAY
    IN A COPY OF OMAR KHAYYÁM
    ON RECEIVING A COPY OF MR. AUSTIN DOBSON'S 'OLD WORLD IDYLLS'
    TO C.F. BRADFORD
    BANKSIDE
    JOSEPH WINLOCK
    SONNET, TO FANNY ALEXANDER
    JEFFRIES WYMAN
    TO A FRIEND
    WITH AN ARMCHAIR
    E.G. DE R.
    BON VOYAGE
    TO WHITTIER, ON HIS SEVENTY-FIFTH BIRTHDAY
    ON AN AUTUMN SKETCH OF H.G. WILD
    TO MISS D.T.
    WITH A COPY OF AUCASSIN AND NICOLETTE
    ON PLANTING A TREE AT INVERARAY
    AN EPISTLE TO GEORGE WILLIAM CURTIS

  II. SENTIMENT.

    ENDYMION
    THE BLACK PREACHER
    ARCADIA REDIVIVA
    THE NEST
    A YOUTHFUL EXPERIMENT IN ENGLISH HEXAMETERS
    BIRTHDAY VERSES
    ESTRANGEMENT
    PHOEBE
    DAS EWIG-WEIBLICHE
    THE RECALL
    ABSENCE
    MONNA LISA
    THE OPTIMIST
    ON BURNING SOME OLD LETTERS
    THE PROTEST
    THE PETITION
    FACT OR FANCY?
    AGRO-DOLCE
    THE BROKEN TRYST
    CASA SIN ALMA
    A CHRISTMAS CAROL
    MY PORTRAIT GALLERY
    PAOLO TO FRANCESCA
    SONNET, SCOTTISH BORDER
    SONNET, ON BEING ASKED FOR AN AUTOGRAPH IN VENICE
    THE DANCING BEAR
    THE MAPLE
    NIGHTWATCHES
    DEATH OF QUEEN MERCEDES
    PRISON OF CERVANTES
    TO A LADY PLAYING ON THE CITHERN
    THE EYE'S TREASURY
    PESSIMOPTIMISM
    THE BRAKES
    A FOREBODING

  III. FANCY

    UNDER THE OCTOBER MAPLES
    LOVE'S CLOCK
    ELEANOR MAKES MACAROONS
    TELEPATHY
    SCHERZO
    'FRANCISCUS DE VERULAMIO SIC COGITAVIT'
    AUSPEX
    THE PREGNANT COMMENT
    THE LESSON
    SCIENCE AND POETRY
    A NEW YEAR'S GREETING
    THE DISCOVERY
    WITH A SEASHELL
    THE SECRET

  IV. HUMOR AND SATIRE.

    FITZ ADAM'S STORY
    THE ORIGIN OF DIDACTIC POETRY
    THE FLYING DUTCHMAN
    CREDIDIMUS JOVEM REGNARE
    TEMPORA MUTANTUR
    IN THE HALF-WAY HOUSE
    AT THE BURNS CENTENNIAL
    IN AN ALBUM
    AT THE COMMENCEMENT DINNER, 1866
    A PARABLE

  V. EPIGRAMS.

    SAYINGS
    INSCRIPTIONS
    A MISCONCEPTION
    THE BOSS
    SUN-WORSHIP
    CHANGED PERSPECTIVE
    WITH A PAIR OF GLOVES LOST IN A WAGER
    SIXTY-EIGHTH BIRTHDAY
    INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT

LAST POEMS.

  HOW I CONSULTED THE ORACLE OF THE GOLDFISHES
  TURNER'S OLD TÉMÉRAIRE
  ST. MICHAEL THE WEIGHER
  A VALENTINE
  AN APRIL BIRTHDAY--AT SEA
  LOVE AND THOUGHT
  THE NOBLER LOVER
  ON HEARING A SONATA OF BEETHOVEN'S PLAYED IN THE NEXT ROOM
  VERSES, INTENDED TO GO WITH A POSSET DISH
  ON A BUST OF GENERAL GRANT

APPENDIX.

    I. INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND SERIES OF BIGLOW PAPERS
   II. GLOSSARY TO THE BIGLOW PAPERS
  III. INDEX TO BIGLOW PAPERS

INDEX OF FIRST LINES

INDEX OF TITLES



EARLIER POEMS

THRENODIA

  Gone, gone from us! and shall we see
Those sibyl-leaves of destiny,
Those calm eyes, nevermore?
Those deep, dark eyes so warm and bright,
Wherein the fortunes of the man
Lay slumbering in prophetic light,
In characters a child might scan?
So bright, and gone forth utterly!
Oh stern word--Nevermore!

  The stars of those two gentle eyes     10
Will shine no more on earth;
Quenched are the hopes that had their birth,
As we watched them slowly rise,
Stars of a mother's fate;
And she would read them o'er and o'er,
Pondering, as she sate,
Over their dear astrology,
Which she had conned and conned before,
Deeming she needs must read aright     19
What was writ so passing bright.
And yet, alas! she knew not why.
Her voice would falter in its song,
And tears would slide from out her eye,
Silent, as they were doing wrong.
Oh stern word--Nevermore!

  The tongue that scarce had learned to claim
An entrance to a mother's heart
By that dear talisman, a mother's name,
Sleeps all forgetful of its art!
I loved to see the infant soul     30
(How mighty in the weakness
Of its untutored meekness!)
Peep timidly from out its nest,
His lips, the while,
Fluttering with half-fledged words,
Or hushing to a smile
That more than words expressed,
When his glad mother on him stole
And snatched him to her breast!
Oh, thoughts were brooding in those eyes,     40
That would have soared like strong-winged birds
Far, far into the skies,
Gladding the earth with song,
And gushing harmonies,
Had he but tarried with us long!
Oh stern word--Nevermore!

  How peacefully they rest,
Crossfolded there
Upon his little breast,
Those small, white hands that ne'er were still before,     50
But ever sported with his mother's hair,
Or the plain cross that on her breast she wore!
Her heart no more will beat
To feel the touch of that soft palm,
That ever seemed a new surprise
Sending glad thoughts up to her eyes
To bless him with their holy calm,--
Sweet thoughts! they made her eyes as sweet.
How quiet are the hands
That wove those pleasant bands!
But that they do not rise and sink      61
With his calm breathing, I should think
That he were dropped asleep.
Alas! too deep, too deep
Is this his slumber!
Time scarce can number
The years ere he shall wake again.
Oh, may we see his eyelids open then!
Oh stern word--Nevermore!

  As the airy gossamere,      70
Floating in the sunlight clear,
Where'er it toucheth clingeth tightly,
Bound glossy leal or stump unsightly,
So from his spirit wandered out
Tendrils spreading all about,
Knitting all things to its thrall
With a perfect love of all:
Oh stern word--Nevermore!

  He did but float a little way
Adown the stream of time,      80
With dreamy eyes watching the ripples play,
Or hearkening their fairy chime;
His slender sail
Ne'er felt the gale;
He did but float a little way,
And, putting to the shore
While yet 't was early day,
Went calmly on his way,
To dwell with us no more!
No jarring did he feel,      90
No grating on his shallop's keel;
A strip of silver sand
Mingled the waters with the land
Where he was seen no more:
Oh stern word--Nevermore!

  Full short his journey was; no dust
Of earth unto his sandals clave;
The weary weight that old men must,
He bore not to the grave.
He seemed a cherub who had lost his way      100
And wandered hither, so his stay
With us was short, and 't was most meet
That he should be no delver in earth's clod,
Nor need to pause and cleanse his feet
To stand before his God:
Oh blest word--Evermore!



THE SIRENS

  The sea is lonely, the sea is dreary,
The sea is restless and uneasy;
Thou seekest quiet, thou art weary,
Wandering thou knowest not whither;--
Our little isle is green and breezy,
Come and rest thee! Oh come hither,
Come to this peaceful home of ours,
    Where evermore
The low west-wind creeps panting up the shore      9
To be at rest among the flowers;
Full of rest, the green moss lifts,
  As the dark waves of the sea
Draw in and out of rocky rifts,
  Calling solemnly to thee
With voices deep and hollow,--
    'To the shore
  Follow! Oh, follow!
  To be at rest forevermore!
      Forevermore!'

Look how the gray old Ocean      20
From the depth of his heart rejoices,
Heaving with a gentle motion,
When he hears our restful voices;
List how he sings in an undertone,
Chiming with our melody;
And all sweet sounds of earth and air
Melt into one low voice alone,
That murmurs over the weary sea,
And seems to sing from everywhere,--
'Here mayst thou harbor peacefully,     30
Here mayst thou rest from the aching oar;
  Turn thy curved prow ashore,
And in our green isle rest forevermore!
      Forevermore!'
And Echo half wakes in the wooded hill,
  And, to her heart so calm and deep,
  Murmurs over in her sleep,
Doubtfully pausing and murmuring still,
      'Evermore!'
    Thus, on Life's weary sea,      40
    Heareth the marinere
    Voices sweet, from far and near,
    Ever singing low and clear,
    Ever singing longingly.

  Is it not better here to be,
Than to be toiling late and soon?
In the dreary night to see
Nothing but the blood-red moon
Go up and down into the sea;
Or, in the loneliness of day,      50
  To see the still seals only
Solemnly lift their faces gray,
  Making it yet more lonely?
Is it not better than to hear
Only the sliding of the wave
Beneath the plank, and feel so near
A cold and lonely grave,
A restless grave, where thou shalt lie
Even in death unquietly?
Look down beneath thy wave-worn bark,      60
  Lean over the side and see
The leaden eye of the sidelong shark
    Upturnèd patiently,
  Ever waiting there for thee:
Look down and see those shapeless forms,
  Which ever keep their dreamless sleep
  Far down within the gloomy deep,
And only stir themselves in storms,
Rising like islands from beneath,
And snorting through the angry spray,      70
As the frail vessel perisheth
In the whirls of their unwieldy play;
  Look down! Look down!
Upon the seaweed, slimy and dark,
That waves its arms so lank and brown,
    Beckoning for thee!
Look down beneath thy wave-worn bark
    Into the cold depth of the sea!
  Look down! Look down!
    Thus, on Life's lonely sea,      80
    Heareth the marinere
    Voices sad, from far and near,
    Ever singing full of fear,
    Ever singing drearfully.

  Here all is pleasant as a dream;
The wind scarce shaketh down the dew,
The green grass floweth like a stream
    Into the ocean's blue;
      Listen! Oh, listen!
Here is a gush of many streams,
  A song of many birds,      91
And every wish and longing seems
Lulled to a numbered flow of words,--
      Listen! Oh, listen!
Here ever hum the golden bees
Underneath full-blossomed trees,
At once with glowing fruit and flowers crowned;--
So smooth the sand, the yellow sand,
That thy keel will not grate as it touches the land;
All around with a slumberous sound,     100
The singing waves slide up the strand,
And there, where the smooth, wet pebbles be,
The waters gurgle longingly,
As If they fain would seek the shore,
To be at rest from the ceaseless roar,
To be at rest forevermore,--
        Forevermore.
    Thus, on Life's gloomy sea,
    Heareth the marinere
    Voices sweet, from far and near,     110
    Ever singing in his ear,
    'Here is rest and peace for thee!'



IRENÉ

  Hers is a spirit deep, and crystal-clear;
Calmly beneath her earnest face it lies,
Free without boldness, meek without a fear,
Quicker to look than speak its sympathies;
Far down into her large and patient eyes
I gaze, deep-drinking of the infinite,
As, in the mid-watch of a clear, still night,
I look into the fathomless blue skies.

  So circled lives she with Love's holy light,
That from the shade of self she walketh free;     10
The garden of her soul still keepeth she
An Eden where the snake did never enter;
She hath a natural, wise sincerity,
A simple truthfulness, and these have lent her
A dignity as moveless as the centre;
So that no influence of our earth can stir
Her steadfast courage, nor can take away
The holy peacefulness, which night and day,
Unto her queenly soul doth minister.

  Most gentle is she; her large charity     20
(An all unwitting, childlike gift in her)
Not freer is to give than meek to bear;
And, though herself not unacquaint with care,
Hath in her heart wide room for all that be,--
Her heart that hath no secrets of its own,
But open is as eglantine full blown.
Cloudless forever is her brow serene,
Speaking calm hope and trust within her, whence
Welleth a noiseless spring of patience,
That keepeth all her life so fresh, so green     30
And full of holiness, that every look,
The greatness of her woman's soul revealing,
Unto me bringeth blessing, and a feeling
As when I read in God's own holy book.

  A graciousness in giving that doth make
The small'st gift greatest, and a sense most meek
Of worthiness, that doth not fear to take
From others, but which always fears to speak
Its thanks in utterance, for the giver's sake;--
The deep religion of a thankful heart,      40
Which rests instinctively in Heaven's clear law
With a full peace, that never can depart
From its own steadfastness;--a holy awe
For holy things,--not those which men call holy,
But such as are revealèd to the eyes
Of a true woman's soul bent down and lowly
Before the face of daily mysteries;--
A love that blossoms soon, but ripens slowly
To the full goldenness of fruitful prime,
Enduring with a firmness that defies      50
All shallow tricks of circumstance and time,
By a sure insight knowing where to cling,
And where it clingeth never withering;--
These are Irené's dowry, which no fate
Can shake from their serene, deep-builded state.

  In-seeing sympathy is hers, which chasteneth
No less than loveth, scorning to be bound
With fear of blame, and yet which ever hasteneth
To pour the balm of kind looks on the wound,
If they be wounds which such sweet teaching makes,      60
Giving itself a pang for others' sakes;
No want of faith, that chills with sidelong eye,
Hath she; no jealousy, no Levite pride
That passeth by upon the other side;
For in her soul there never dwelt a lie.
Right from the hand of God her spirit came
Unstained, and she hath ne'er forgotten whence
It came, nor wandered far from thence,
But laboreth to keep her still the same,
Near to her place of birth, that she may not      70
Soil her white raiment with an earthly spot.

  Yet sets she not her soul so steadily
Above, that she forgets her ties to earth,
But her whole thought would almost seem to be
How to make glad one lowly human hearth;
For with a gentle courage she doth strive
In thought and word and feeling so to live
As to make earth next heaven; and her heart
Herein doth show its most exceeding worth,
That, bearing in our frailty her just part,       80
She hath not shrunk from evils of this life,
But hath gone calmly forth into the strife,
And all its sins and sorrows hath withstood
With lofty strength of patient womanhood:
For this I love her great soul more than all,
That, being bound, like us, with earthly thrall,
She walks so bright and heaven-like therein,--
Too wise, too meek, too womanly, to sin.

  Like a lone star through riven storm-clouds seen
By sailors, tempest-tost upon the sea,                              90
Telling of rest and peaceful heavens nigh,
Unto my soul her star-like soul hath been,
Her sight as full of hope and calm to me;--
For she unto herself hath builded high
A home serene, wherein to lay her head,
Earth's noblest thing, a Woman perfected.



SERENADE

From the close-shut windows gleams no spark,
The night is chilly, the night is dark,
The poplars shiver, the pine-trees moan,
My hair by the autumn breeze is blown,
Under thy window I sing alone,
Alone, alone, ah woe! alone!

The darkness is pressing coldly around,
The windows shake with a lonely sound,
The stars are hid and the night is drear,
The heart of silence throbs in thine ear,
In thy chamber thou sittest alone,
Alone, alone, ah woe! alone!

The world is happy, the world is wide.
Kind hearts are beating on every side;
Ah, why should we lie so coldly curled
Alone in the shell of this great world?
Why should we any more be alone?
Alone, alone, ah woe! alone!

Oh, 'tis a bitter and dreary word,
The saddest by man's ear ever heard!
We each are young, we each have a heart,
Why stand we ever coldly apart?
Must we forever, then, be alone?
Alone, alone, ah woe! alone!



WITH A PRESSED FLOWER

This little blossom from afar
Hath come from other lands to thine;
For, once, its white and drooping star
Could see its shadow in the Rhine.

Perchance some fair-haired German maid
Hath plucked one from the selfsame stalk,
And numbered over, half afraid,
Its petals in her evening walk.

'He loves me, loves me not,' she cries;
'He loves me more than earth or heaven!'
And then glad tears have filled her eyes
To find the number was uneven.

And thou must count its petals well,
Because it is a gift from me;
And the last one of all shall tell
Something I've often told to thee.

But here at home, where we were born,
Thou wilt find blossoms just as true,
Down-bending every summer morn,
With freshness of New England dew.

For Nature, ever kind to love,
Hath granted them the same sweet tongue,
Whether with German skies above,
Or here our granite rocks among.



THE BEGGAR

A beggar through the world am I,
From place to place I wander by.
Fill up my pilgrim's scrip for me,
For Christ's sweet sake and charity!

A little of thy steadfastness,
Bounded with leafy gracefulness,
Old oak, give me,
That the world's blasts may round me blow,
And I yield gently to and fro,
While my stout-hearted trunk below
And firm-set roots unshaken be.

Some of thy stern, unyielding might,
Enduring still through day and night
Rude tempest-shock and withering blight,
That I may keep at bay
The changeful April sky of chance
And the strong tide of circumstance,--
Give me, old granite gray.

Some of thy pensiveness serene,
Some of thy never-dying green,
Put in this scrip of mine,
That griefs may fall like snowflakes light,
And deck me in a robe of white,
Ready to be an angel bright,
O sweetly mournful pine.

A little of thy merriment,
Of thy sparkling, light content,
Give me, my cheerful brook,
That I may still be full of glee
And gladsomeness, where'er I be,
Though fickle fate hath prisoned me
In some neglected nook.

Ye have been very kind and good
To me, since I've been in the wood;
Ye have gone nigh to fill my heart;
But good-by, kind friends, every one,
I've far to go ere set of sun;
Of all good things I would have part,
The day was high ere I could start,
And so my journey's scarce begun.

Heaven help me! how could I forget
To beg of thee, dear violet!
Some of thy modesty,
That blossoms here as well, unseen,
As if before the world thou'dst been,
Oh, give, to strengthen me.



MY LOVE

Not as all other women are
Is she that to my soul is dear;
Her glorious fancies come from far,
Beneath the silver evening-star,
And yet her heart is ever near.

Great feelings hath she of her own,
Which lesser souls may never know;
God giveth them to her alone,
And sweet they are as any tone
Wherewith the wind may choose to blow.

Yet in herself she dwelleth not.
Although no home were half so fair;
No simplest duty is forgot,
Life hath no dim and lowly spot
That doth not in her sunshine share.

She doeth little kindnesses,
Which most leave undone, or despise:
For naught that sets one heart at ease,
And giveth happiness or peace,
Is low-esteemèd in her eyes.

She hath no scorn of common things,
And, though she seem of other birth,
Round us her heart intwines and clings,
And patiently she folds her wings
To tread the humble paths of earth.

Blessing she is: God made her so,
And deeds of week-day holiness
Fall from her noiseless as the snow,
Nor hath she ever chanced to know
That aught were easier than to bless.

She is most fair, and thereunto
Her life doth rightly harmonize;
Feeling or thought that was not true
Ne'er made less beautiful the blue
Unclouded heaven of her eyes.

She is a woman: one in whom
The spring-time of her childish years
Hath never lost its fresh perfume,
Though knowing well that life hath room
For many blights and many tears.

I love her with a love as still
As a broad river's peaceful might,
Which, by high tower and lowly mill,
Seems following its own wayward will,
And yet doth ever flow aright.

And, on its full, deep breast serene,
Like quiet isles my duties lie;
It flows around them and between,
And makes them fresh and fair and green,
Sweet homes wherein to live and die.



SUMMER STORM

    Untremulous in the river clear,
Toward the sky's image, hangs the imaged bridge;
    So still the air that I can hear
The slender clarion of the unseen midge;
  Out of the stillness, with a gathering creep,
Like rising wind in leaves, which now decreases,
Now lulls, now swells, and all the while increases,
  The huddling trample of a drove of sheep
Tilts the loose planks, and then as gradually ceases
  In dust on the other side; life's emblem deep,            10
A confused noise between two silences,
Finding at last in dust precarious peace.
On the wide marsh the purple-blossomed grasses
  Soak up the sunshine; sleeps the brimming tide,
Save when the wedge-shaped wake in silence passes
  Of some slow water-rat, whose sinuous glide
Wavers the sedge's emerald shade from side to side;

But up the west, like a rock-shivered surge,
  Climbs a great cloud edged with sun-whitened spray;
Huge whirls of foam boil toppling o'er its verge,           20
  And falling still it seems, and yet it climbs alway.

    Suddenly all the sky is hid
    As with the shutting of a lid,
One by one great drops are falling
      Doubtful and slow,
Down the pane they are crookedly crawling,
  And the wind breathes low;
Slowly the circles widen on the river,
  Widen and mingle, one and all;
Here and there the slenderer flowers shiver,               30
  Struck by an icy rain-drop's fall.

Now on the hills I hear the thunder mutter,
    The wind is gathering in the west;
The upturned leaves first whiten and flutter,
    Then droop to a fitful rest;
Up from the stream with sluggish flap
  Struggles the gull and floats away;
Nearer and nearer rolls the thunder-clap,--
  We shall not see the sun go down to-day:
Now leaps the wind on the sleepy marsh,                        40
  And tramples the grass with terrified feet,
The startled river turns leaden and harsh,
  You can hear the quick heart of the tempest beat.

    Look! look! that livid flash!
And instantly follows the rattling thunder,
As if some cloud-crag, split asunder,
    Fell, splintering with a ruinous crash,
On the Earth, which crouches in silence under;
  And now a solid gray wall of rain
Shuts off the landscape, mile by mile;                      50
  For a breath's space I see the blue wood again,
And ere the next heart-beat, the wind-hurled pile,
  That seemed but now a league aloof,
  Bursts crackling o'er the sun-parched roof;
Against the windows the storm comes dashing,
Through tattered foliage the hail tears crashing,
    The blue lightning flashes,
    The rapid hail clashes,
  The white waves are tumbling,
    And, in one baffled roar,                               60
  Like the toothless sea mumbling
    A rock-bristled shore,
  The thunder is rumbling
  And crashing and crumbling,--
Will silence return nevermore?

    Hush! Still as death,
    The tempest holds his breath
  As from a sudden will;
The rain stops short, but from the eaves
You see it drop, and hear it from the leaves,               70
  All is so bodingly still;
    Again, now, now, again
Plashes the rain in heavy gouts,
  The crinkled lightning
  Seems ever brightening,
    And loud and long
    Again the thunder shouts
          His battle-song,--
        One quivering flash,
        One wildering crash,                                80
    Followed by silence dead and dull,

        As if the cloud, let go,
        Leapt bodily below
To whelm the earth in one mad overthrow.
        And then a total lull.

        Gone, gone, so soon!
    No more my half-dazed fancy there,
    Can shape a giant In the air,
    No more I see his streaming hair,
  The writhing portent of his form;--                      90
        The pale and quiet moon
    Makes her calm forehead bare,
  And the last fragments of the storm,
Like shattered rigging from a fight at sea,
Silent and few, are drifting over me.



LOVE

True Love is but a humble, low-born thing,
And hath its food served up in earthen ware;
It is a thing to walk with, hand in hand,
Through the everydayness of this workday world,
Baring its tender feet to every flint,
Yet letting not one heart-beat go astray
From Beauty's law of plainness and content;
A simple, fireside thing, whose quiet smile
Can warm earth's poorest hovel to a home;
Which, when our autumn cometh, as it must,
And life in the chill wind shivers bare and leafless,
Shall still be blest with Indian-summer youth
In bleak November, and, with thankful heart,
Smile on its ample stores of garnered fruit,
As full of sunshine to our aged eyes
As when it nursed the blossoms of our spring.
Such is true Love, which steals into the heart
With feet as silent as the lightsome dawn
That kisses smooth the rough brows of the dark,
And hath its will through blissful gentleness,
Not like a rocket, which, with passionate glare,
Whirs suddenly up, then bursts, and leaves the night
Painfully quivering on the dazèd eyes;
A love that gives and takes, that seeth faults,
Not with flaw-seeking eyes like needle points,
But loving-kindly ever looks them down
With the o'ercoming faith that still forgives;
A love that shall be new and fresh each hour,
As is the sunset's golden mystery,
Or the sweet coming of the evening-star,
Alike, and yet most unlike, every day,
And seeming ever best and fairest _now_;
A love that doth not kneel for what it seeks,
But faces Truth and Beauty as their peer,
Showing its worthiness of noble thoughts
By a clear sense of inward nobleness;
A love that in its object findeth not
All grace and beauty, and enough to sate
Its thirst of blessing, but, in all of good
Found there, sees but the Heaven-implanted types
Of good and beauty in the soul of man,
And traces, in the simplest heart that beats,
A family-likeness to its chosen one,
That claims of it the rights of brotherhood.
For love is blind but with the fleshly eye,
That so its inner sight may be more clear;
And outward shows of beauty only so
Are needful at the first, as is a hand
To guide and to uphold an infant's steps:
Fine natures need them not: their earnest look
Pierces the body's mask of thin disguise,
And beauty ever is to them revealed,
Behind the unshapeliest, meanest lump of clay,
With arms outstretched and eager face ablaze,
Yearning to be but understood and loved.



TO PERDITA, SINGING

Thy voice is like a fountain,
  Leaping up in clear moonshine;
Silver, silver, ever mounting,
        Ever sinking,
        Without thinking,
  To that brimful heart of thine.
Every sad and happy feeling,
Thou hast had in bygone years,
Through thy lips comes stealing, stealing,
        Clear and low;     10
All thy smiles and all thy tears
  In thy voice awaken,
  And sweetness, wove of joy and woe,
    From their teaching it hath taken:
Feeling and music move together,
Like a swan and shadow ever
Floating on a sky-blue river
In a day of cloudless weather.

It hath caught a touch of sadness,
        Yet it is not sad;     20
It hath tones of clearest gladness,
        Yet it is not glad;
A dim, sweet twilight voice it is
  Where to-day's accustomed blue
Is over-grayed with memories,
  With starry feelings quivered through.

  Thy voice is like a fountain
Leaping up in sunshine bright,
  And I never weary counting
Its clear droppings, lone and single,     30
Or when in one full gush they mingle,
  Shooting in melodious light.

  Thine is music such as yields
  Feelings of old brooks and fields,
  And, around this pent-up room,
  Sheds a woodland, free perfume;
    Oh, thus forever sing to me!
        Oh, thus forever!
The green, bright grass of childhood bring to me,      39
  Flowing like an emerald river,
  And the bright blue skies above!
  Oh, sing them back, as fresh as ever,
  Into the bosom of my love,--
  The sunshine and the merriment,
  The unsought, evergreen content,
    Of that never cold time,
  The joy, that, like a clear breeze, went
    Through and through the old time!
  Peace sits within thine eyes,
  With white hands crossed in joyful rest,     50
While, through thy lips and face, arise
The melodies from out thy breast;
      She sits and sings,
      With folded wings
      And white arms crost,
  'Weep not for bygone things,
      They are not lost:
The beauty which the summer time
O'er thine opening spirit shed,
The forest oracles sublime                       60
That filled thy soul with joyous dread,
The scent of every smallest flower
That made thy heart sweet for an hour,
Yea, every holy influence,
Flowing to thee, thou knewest not whence,
In thine eyes to-day is seen,
Fresh as it hath ever been;
Promptings of Nature, beckonings sweet,
Whatever led thy childish feet,
Still will linger unawares                      70
The guiders of thy silver hairs;
Every look and every word
Which thou givest forth to-day,
Tell of the singing of the bird
Whose music stilled thy boyish play.'

Thy voice is like a fountain,
Twinkling up in sharp starlight,
When the moon behind the mountain
Dims the low East with faintest white,
      Ever darkling,     80
      Ever sparkling,
    We know not if 'tis dark or bright;
But, when the great moon hath rolled round,
  And, sudden-slow, its solemn power
Grows from behind its black, clear-edgèd bound,
  No spot of dark the fountain keepeth,
  But, swift as opening eyelids, leapeth
  Into a waving silver flower.



THE MOON

  My soul was like the sea.
  Before the moon was made,
Moaning in vague immensity,
  Of its own strength afraid,
  Unresful and unstaid.
Through every rift it foamed in vain,
  About its earthly prison,
Seeking some unknown thing in pain,
And sinking restless back again,
  For yet no moon had risen:
Its only voice a vast dumb moan,
  Of utterless anguish speaking,
It lay unhopefully alone,
  And lived but in an aimless seeking.

So was my soul; but when 'twas full
  Of unrest to o'erloading,
A voice of something beautiful
  Whispered a dim foreboding,
And yet so soft, so sweet, so low,
It had not more of joy than woe;

And, as the sea doth oft lie still,
  Making its waters meet,
As if by an unconscious will,
  For the moon's silver feet,
So lay my soul within mine eyes
When thou, its guardian moon, didst rise.

And now, howe'er its waves above
  May toss and seem uneaseful,
One strong, eternal law of Love,
  With guidance sure and peaceful,
As calm and natural as breath,
Moves its great deeps through life and death.



REMEMBERED MUSIC

A FRAGMENT

Thick-rushing, like an ocean vast
  Of bisons the far prairie shaking,
The notes crowd heavily and fast
As surfs, one plunging while the last
  Draws seaward from its foamy breaking.

Or in low murmurs they began,
  Rising and rising momently,
As o'er a harp Æolian
A fitful breeze, until they ran
  Up to a sudden ecstasy.

And then, like minute-drops of rain
  Ringing in water silvery,
They lingering dropped and dropped again,
Till it was almost like a pain
  To listen when the next would be.



SONG

TO M.L.

A lily thou wast when I saw thee first,
  A lily-bud not opened quite,
  That hourly grew more pure and white,
By morning, and noontide, and evening nursed:
  In all of nature thou hadst thy share;
    Thou wast waited on
    By the wind and sun;
  The rain and the dew for thee took care;
  It seemed thou never couldst be more fair.

A lily thou wast when I saw thee first,
  A lily-bud; but oh, how strange,
  How full of wonder was the change,
When, ripe with all sweetness, thy full bloom burst!
  How did the tears to my glad eyes start,
    When the woman-flower
    Reached its blossoming hour,
And I saw the warm deeps of thy golden heart!

Glad death may pluck thee, but never before
  The gold dust of thy bloom divine
  Hath dropped from thy heart into mine,
To quicken its faint germs of heavenly lore;
For no breeze comes nigh thee but carries away
    Some impulses bright
    Of fragrance and light,
Which fall upon souls that are lone and astray,
To plant fruitful hopes of the flower of day.



ALLEGRA

I would more natures were like thine,
  That never casts a glance before,
Thou Hebe, who thy heart's bright wine
  So lavishly to all dost pour,
That we who drink forget to pine,
  And can but dream of bliss in store.

Thou canst not see a shade in life;
  With sunward instinct thou dost rise,
And, leaving clouds below at strife,
  Gazest undazzled at the skies,
With all their blazing splendors rife,
  A songful lark with eagle's eyes.

Thou wast some foundling whom the Hours
  Nursed, laughing, with the milk of Mirth;
Some influence more gay than ours
  Hath ruled thy nature from its birth,
As if thy natal stars were flowers
  That shook their seeds round thee on earth.

And thou, to lull thine infant rest,
  Wast cradled like an Indian child;
All pleasant winds from south and west
  With lullabies thine ears beguiled,
Rocking thee in thine oriole's nest,
  Till Nature looked at thee and smiled.

Thine every fancy seems to borrow
  A sunlight from thy childish years,
Making a golden cloud of sorrow,
  A hope-lit rainbow out of tears,--
Thy heart is certain of to-morrow,
  Though 'yond to-day it never peers.

I would more natures were like thine,
  So innocently wild and free,
Whose sad thoughts, even, leap and shine,
  Like sunny wavelets in the sea,
Making us mindless of the brine,
  In gazing on the brilliancy.



THE FOUNTAIN

Into the sunshine,
  Full of the light,
Leaping and flashing
  From morn till night;

Into the moonlight,
  Whiter than snow,
Waving so flower-like
  When the winds blow;

Into the starlight
  Rushing in spray,
Happy at midnight,
  Happy by day;

Ever in motion,
  Blithesome and cheery,
Still climbing heavenward,
  Never aweary;

Glad of all weathers,
  Still seeming best,
Upward or downward.
  Motion thy rest;

Full of a nature
  Nothing can tame,
Changed every moment,
  Ever the same;

Ceaseless aspiring,
  Ceaseless content,
Darkness or sunshine
  Thy element;

Glorious fountain.
  Let my heart be
Fresh, changeful, constant,
  Upward, like thee!



ODE

I

In the old days of awe and keen-eyed wonder,
  The Poet's song with blood-warm truth was rife;
He saw the mysteries which circle under
  The outward shell and skin of daily life.
Nothing to him were fleeting time and fashion,
  His soul was led by the eternal law;
There was in him no hope of fame, no passion,
  But with calm, godlike eyes he only saw.
He did not sigh o'er heroes dead and buried,
  Chief-mourner at the Golden Age's hearse,     10
Nor deem that souls whom Charon grim had ferried
  Alone were fitting themes of epic verse:
He could believe the promise of to-morrow,
  And feel the wondrous meaning of to-day;
He had a deeper faith in holy sorrow
  Than the world's seeming loss could take away.
To know the heart of all things was his duty,
  All things did sing to him to make him wise,
And, with a sorrowful and conquering beauty,
  The soul of all looked grandly from his eyes.     20
He gazed on all within him and without him,
  He watched the flowing of Time's steady tide,
And shapes of glory floated all about him
  And whispered to him, and he prophesied.
Than all men he more fearless was and freer,
  And all his brethren cried with one accord,--
'Behold the holy man! Behold the Seer!
  Him who hath spoken with the unseen Lord!'
He to his heart with large embrace had taken
  The universal sorrow of mankind,                 30
And, from that root, a shelter never shaken,
  The tree of wisdom grew with sturdy rind.
He could interpret well the wondrous voices
  Which to the calm and silent spirit come;
He knew that the One Soul no more rejoices
  In the star's anthem than the insect's hum.
He in his heart was ever meek and humble.
  And yet with kingly pomp his numbers ran,
As he foresaw how all things false should crumble
  Before the free, uplifted soul of man;           40
And, when he was made full to overflowing
  With all the loveliness of heaven and earth,
Out rushed his song, like molten iron glowing,
  To show God sitting by the humblest hearth.
With calmest courage he was ever ready
  To teach that action was the truth of thought,
And, with strong arm and purpose firm and steady,
  An anchor for the drifting world he wrought.
So did he make the meanest man partaker
  Of all his brother-gods unto him gave;            50
All souls did reverence him and name him Maker,
  And when he died heaped temples on his grave.
And still his deathless words of light are swimming
  Serene throughout the great deep infinite
Of human soul, unwaning and undimming,
  To cheer and guide the mariner at night.


II

But now the Poet is an empty rhymer
  Who lies with idle elbow on the grass,
And fits his singing, like a cunning timer,
  To all men's prides and fancies as they pass.      60
Not his the song, which, in its metre holy,
  Chimes with the music of the eternal stars,
Humbling the tyrant, lifting up the lowly,
  And sending sun through the soul's prison-bars.
Maker no more,--oh no! unmaker rather,
  For he unmakes who doth not all put forth
The power given freely by our loving Father
  To show the body's dross, the spirit's worth.
Awake! great spirit of the ages olden!
  Shiver the mists that hide thy starry lyre,      70
And let man's soul be yet again beholden
  To thee for wings to soar to her desire.
Oh, prophesy no more to-morrow's splendor,
  Be no more shamefaced to speak out for Truth,
Lay on her altar all the gushings tender,
  The hope, the fire, the loving faith of youth!
Oh, prophesy no more the Maker's coming,
  Say not his onward footsteps thou canst hear
In the dim void, like to the awful humming
  Of the great wings of some new-lighted sphere!     80
Oh, prophesy no more, but be the Poet!
  This longing was but granted unto thee
That, when all beauty thou couldst feel and know it,
  That beauty in its highest thou shouldst be.
O thou who moanest tost with sealike longings,
  Who dimly hearest voices call on thee,
Whose soul is overfilled with mighty throngings
  Of love, and fear, and glorious agony.
Thou of the toil-strung hands and iron sinews
  And soul by Mother Earth with freedom fed,      90
In whom the hero-spirit yet continues,
  The old free nature is not chained or dead,
Arouse! let thy soul break in music-thunder,
  Let loose the ocean that is in thee pent,
Pour forth thy hope, thy fear, thy love, thy wonder,
  And tell the age what all its signs have meant.
Where'er thy wildered crowd of brethren jostles,
  Where'er there lingers but a shadow of wrong,
There still is need of martyrs and apostles,
  There still are texts for never-dying song:     100
From age to age man's still aspiring spirit
  Finds wider scope and sees with clearer eyes,
And thou in larger measure dost inherit
  What made thy great forerunners free and wise.
Sit thou enthronèd where the Poet's mountain
  Above the thunder lifts its silent peak,
And roll thy songs down like a gathering fountain,
  They all may drink and find the rest they seek.
Sing! there shall silence grow in earth and heaven,
  A silence of deep awe and wondering;            110
For, listening gladly, bend the angels, even,
  To hear a mortal like an angel sing.


III

Among the toil-worn poor my soul is seeking
  For who shall bring the Maker's name to light,
To be the voice of that almighty speaking
  Which every age demands to do it right.
Proprieties our silken bards environ;
  He who would be the tongue of this wide land
Must string his harp with chords of sturdy iron
  And strike it with a toil-imbrownèd hand;      120
One who hath dwelt with Nature well attended,
  Who hath learnt wisdom from her mystic books,
Whose soul with all her countless lives hath blended,
  So that all beauty awes us in his looks:
Who not with body's waste his soul hath pampered,
  Who as the clear northwestern wind is free,
Who walks with Form's observances unhampered,
  And follows the One Will obediently;
Whose eyes, like windows on a breezy summit,
  Control a lovely prospect every way;      130
Who doth not sound God's sea with earthly plummet,
  And find a bottom still of worthless clay;
Who heeds not how the lower gusts are working,
  Knowing that one sure wind blows on above,
And sees, beneath the foulest faces lurking,
  One God-built shrine of reverence and love;
Who sees all stars that wheel their shining marches
  Around the centre fixed of Destiny,
Where the encircling soul serene o'erarches
  The moving globe of being like a sky;      140
Who feels that God and Heaven's great deeps are nearer
  Him to whose heart his fellow-man is nigh,
Who doth not hold his soul's own freedom dearer
  Than that of all his brethren, low or high;
Who to the Right can feel himself the truer
  For being gently patient with the wrong,
Who sees a brother in the evildoer,
  And finds in Love the heart's-blood of his song;--
This, this is he for whom the world is waiting
  To sing the beatings of its mighty heart,      150
Too long hath it been patient with the grating
  Of scrannel-pipes, and heard it misnamed Art.
To him the smiling soul of man shall listen,
  Laying awhile its crown of thorns aside,
And once again in every eye shall glisten
  The glory of a nature satisfied.
His verse shall have a great commanding motion,
  Heaving and swelling with a melody
Learnt of the sky, the river, and the ocean,
  And all the pure, majestic things that be.      160
Awake, then, thou! we pine for thy great presence
  To make us feel the soul once more sublime,
We are of far too infinite an essence
  To rest contented with the lies of Time.
Speak out! and lo! a hush of deepest wonder
  Shall sink o'er all this many-voicèd scene,
As when a sudden burst of rattling thunder
  Shatters the blueness of a sky serene.



THE FATHERLAND

Where is the true man's fatherland?
  Is it where he by chance is born?
  Doth not the yearning spirit scorn
In such scant borders to be spanned?
Oh yes! his fatherland must be
As the blue heaven wide and free!

Is it alone where freedom is,
  Where God is God and man is man?
  Doth he not claim a broader span
For the soul's love of home than this?
Oh yes! his fatherland must be
As the blue heaven wide and free!

Where'er a human heart doth wear
  Joy's myrtle-wreath or sorrow's gyves,
  Where'er a human spirit strives
After a life more true and fair,
There is the true man's birthplace grand,
His is a world-wide fatherland!

Where'er a single slave doth pine,
  Where'er one man may help another,--
  Thank God for such a birthright, brother,--
That spot of earth is thine and mine!
There is the true man's birthplace grand,
His is a world-wide fatherland!



THE FORLORN

The night is dark, the stinging sleet,
  Swept by the bitter gusts of air,
Drives whistling down the lonely street,
  And glazes on the pavement bare.

The street-lamps flare and struggle dim
  Through the gray sleet-clouds as they pass,
Or, governed by a boisterous whim,
  Drop down and rustle on the glass.

One poor, heart-broken, outcast girl
  Faces the east-wind's searching flaws,
And, as about her heart they whirl,
  Her tattered cloak more tightly draws.

The flat brick walls look cold and bleak,
  Her bare feet to the sidewalk freeze;
Yet dares she not a shelter seek,
  Though faint with hunger and disease.

The sharp storm cuts her forehead bare,
  And, piercing through her garments thin,
Beats on her shrunken breast, and there
  Makes colder the cold heart within.

She lingers where a ruddy glow
  Streams outward through an open shutter,
Adding more bitterness to woe,
  More loneliness to desertion utter.

One half the cold she had not felt
  Until she saw this gush of light
Spread warmly forth, and seem to melt
  Its slow way through the deadening night.

She hears a woman's voice within,
  Singing sweet words her childhood knew,
And years of misery and sin
  Furl off, and leave her heaven blue.

Her freezing heart, like one who sinks
  Outwearied in the drifting snow.
Drowses to deadly sleep and thinks
  No longer of its hopeless woe;

Old fields, and clear blue summer days,
  Old meadows, green with grass, and trees
That shimmer through the trembling haze
  And whiten in the western breeze.

Old faces, all the friendly past
  Rises within her heart again,
And sunshine from her childhood cast
  Makes summer of the icy rain.

Enhaloed by a mild, warm glow,
  From man's humanity apart,
She hears old footsteps wandering slow
  Through the lone chambers of the heart.

Outside the porch before the door,
  Her cheek upon the cold, hard stone,
She lies, no longer foul and poor,
  No longer dreary and alone.

Next morning something heavily
  Against the opening door did weigh,
And there, from sin and sorrow free,
  A woman on the threshold lay.

A smile upon the wan lips told
  That she had found a calm release,
And that, from out the want and cold,
  The song had borne her soul in peace.

For, whom the heart of man shuts out,
  Sometimes the heart of God takes in,
And fences them all round about
  With silence mid the world's loud din;

And one of his great charities
  Is Music, and it doth not scorn
To close the lids upon the eyes
  Of the polluted and forlorn;

Far was she from her childhood's home,
  Farther in guilt had wandered thence,
Yet thither it had bid her come
  To die in maiden innocence.



MIDNIGHT

The moon shines white and silent
  On the mist, which, like a tide
Of some enchanted ocean,
  O'er the wide marsh doth glide,
Spreading its ghost-like billows
  Silently far and wide.

A vague and starry magic
  Makes all things mysteries,
And lures the earth's dumb spirit
  Up to the longing skies:
I seem to hear dim whispers,
  And tremulous replies.

The fireflies o'er the meadow
  In pulses come and go;
The elm-trees' heavy shadow
  Weighs on the grass below;
And faintly from the distance
  The dreaming cock doth crow.

All things look strange and mystic,
  The very bushes swell
And take wild shapes and motions,
  As if beneath a spell;
They seem not the same lilacs
  From childhood known so well.

The snow of deepest silence
  O'er everything doth fall,
So beautiful and quiet,
  And yet so like a pall;
As if all life were ended,
  And rest were come to all.

O wild and wondrous midnight,
  There is a might in thee
To make the charmèd body
  Almost like spirit be,
And give it some faint glimpses
  Of immortality!



A PRAYER

God! do not let my loved one die,
  But rather wait until the time
That I am grown in purity
  Enough to enter thy pure clime,
Then take me, I will gladly go,
So that my love remain below!

Oh, let her stay! She is by birth
  What I through death must learn to be;
We need her more on our poor earth
  Than thou canst need in heaven with thee:
She hath her wings already, I
Must burst this earth-shell ere I fly.

Then, God, take me! We shall be near,
  More near than ever, each to each:
Her angel ears will find more clear
  My heavenly than my earthly speech;
And still, as I draw nigh to thee,
Her soul and mine shall closer be.



THE HERITAGE

The rich man's son inherits lands,
  And piles of brick and stone, and gold,
And he inherits soft white hands,
  And tender flesh that fears the cold,
  Nor dares to wear a garment old;
A heritage, it seems to me,
One scarce would wish to hold in fee.

The rich man's son inherits cares;
  The bank may break, the factory burn,
A breath may burst his bubble shares,
  And soft white hands could hardly earn
  A living that would serve his turn;
A heritage, it seems to me,
One scarce would wish to hold in fee.

The rich man's son inherits wants,
  His stomach craves for dainty fare;
With sated heart, he hears the pants
  Of toiling hinds with brown arms bare,
  And wearies in his easy-chair;
A heritage, it seems to me,
One scarce would wish to hold in fee.

What doth the poor man's son inherit?
  Stout muscles and a sinewy heart,
A hardy frame, a hardier spirit;
  King of two hands, he does his part
  In every useful toil and art;
A heritage, it seems to me,
A king might wish to hold in fee.

What doth the poor man's son inherit?
  Wishes o'erjoyed with humble things,
A rank adjudged by toil-won merit,
  Content that from employment springs,
  A heart that in his labor sings;
A heritage, it seems to me,
A king might wish to hold in fee.

What doth the poor man's son inherit?
  A patience learned of being poor,
Courage, if sorrow come, to bear it,
  A fellow-feeling that is sure
  To make the outcast bless his door;
A heritage, it seems to me,
A king might wish to hold in fee.

O rich man's son! there is a toil
  That with all others level stands:
Large charity doth never soil,
  But only whiten, soft white hands:
  This is the best crop from thy lands,
A heritage, it seems to me,
Worth being rich to hold in fee.

O poor man's son! scorn not thy state;
  There is worse weariness than thine,
In merely being rich and great;
  Toil only gives the soul to shine,
  And make rest fragrant and benign;
A heritage, it seems to me,
Worth being poor to hold in fee.

Both, heirs to some six feet of sod,
  Are equal in the earth at last;
Both, children of the same dear God,
  Prove title to your heirship vast
  By record of a well-filled past;
A heritage, it seems to me,
Well worth a life to hold in fee.



THE ROSE: A BALLAD


I

In his tower sat the poet
  Gazing on the roaring sea,
'Take this rose,' he sighed, 'and throw it
  Where there's none that loveth me.
On the rock the billow bursteth
  And sinks back into the seas,
But in vain my spirit thirsteth
  So to burst and be at ease.
Take, O sea! the tender blossom
  That hath lain against my breast;
On thy black and angry bosom
  It will find a surer rest.
Life is vain, and love is hollow,
  Ugly death stands there behind,
Hate and scorn and hunger follow
  Him that toileth for his kind.'
Forth into the night he hurled it,
  And with bitter smile did mark
How the surly tempest whirled it
  Swift into the hungry dark.
Foam and spray drive back to leeward,
  And the gale, with dreary moan,
Drifts the helpless blossom seaward,
  Through the breakers all alone.


II

Stands a maiden, on the morrow,
  Musing by the wave-beat strand,
Half in hope and half in sorrow,
  Tracing words upon the sand:
'Shall I ever then behold him
  Who hath been my life so long,
Ever to this sick heart told him,
  Be the spirit of his song?
Touch not, sea, the blessed letters
  I have traced upon thy shore,
Spare his name whose spirit fetters
  Mine with love forevermore!'
Swells the tide and overflows it,
  But, with omen pure and meet,
Brings a little rose, and throws it
  Humbly at the maiden's feet.
Full of bliss she takes the token,
  And, upon her snowy breast,
Soothes the ruffled petals broken
  With the ocean's fierce unrest.
'Love is thine, O heart! and surely
  Peace shall also be thine own,
For the heart that trusteth purely
  Never long can pine alone.'


III

In his tower sits the poet,
  Blisses new and strange to him
Fill his heart and overflow it
  With a wonder sweet and dim.
Up the beach the ocean slideth
  With a whisper of delight,
And the moon in silence glideth
  Through the peaceful blue of night.
Rippling o'er the poet's shoulder
  Flows a maiden's golden hair,
Maiden lips, with love grown bolder,
  Kiss his moon-lit forehead bare.
'Life is joy, and love is power,
  Death all fetters doth unbind,
Strength and wisdom only flower
  When we toil for all our kind.
Hope is truth,--the future giveth
  More than present takes away,
And the soul forever liveth
  Nearer God from day to day.'
Not a word the maiden uttered,
  Fullest hearts are slow to speak,
But a withered rose-leaf fluttered
  Down upon the poet's cheek.



SONG

  Violet! sweet violet!
  Thine eyes are full of tears;
        Are they wet
        Even yet
With the thought of other years?
Or with gladness are they full,
For the night so beautiful,
And longing for those far-off spheres?

  Loved one of my youth thou wast,
  Of my merry youth,
        And I see,
        Tearfully,
All the fair and sunny past,
All its openness and truth,
Ever fresh and green in thee
As the moss is in the sea.

  Thy little heart, that hath with love
  Grown colored like the sky above,
  On which thou lookest ever,--
        Can it know
        All the woe
Of hope for what returneth never,
All the sorrow and the longing
To these hearts of ours belonging?

  Out on it! no foolish pining
        For the sky
        Dims thine eye,
Or for the stars so calmly shining;
Like thee let this soul of mine
Take hue from that wherefor I long,
Self-stayed and high, serene and strong,
Not satisfied with hoping--but divine.

  Violet! dear violet!
  Thy blue eyes are only wet
With joy and love of Him who sent thee,
And for the fulfilling sense
Of that glad obedience
Which made thee all that Nature meant thee!



ROSALINE

Thou look'dst on me all yesternight,
Thine eyes were blue, thy hair was bright
As when we murmured our troth-plight
Beneath the thick stars, Rosaline!
Thy hair was braided on thy head,
As on the day we two were wed,
Mine eyes scarce knew if thou wert dead,
But my shrunk heart knew, Rosaline!

The death-watch ticked behind the wall,
The blackness rustled like a pall,            10
The moaning wind did rise and fall
Among the bleak pines, Rosaline!
My heart beat thickly in mine ears:
The lids may shut out fleshly fears,
But still the spirit sees and hears.
Its eyes are lidless, Rosaline!

A wildness rushing suddenly,
A knowing some ill shape is nigh,
A wish for death, a fear to die,
Is not this vengeance, Rosaline?             20
A loneliness that is not lone,
A love quite withered up and gone,
A strong soul ousted from its throne,
What wouldst thou further, Rosaline?

'Tis drear such moonless nights as these,
Strange sounds are out upon the breeze,
And the leaves shiver in the trees,
And then thou comest, Rosaline!
I seem to hear the mourners go,
With long black garments trailing slow,     30
And plumes anodding to and fro,
As once I heard them, Rosaline!

Thy shroud is all of snowy white,
And, in the middle of the night,
Thou standest moveless and upright,
Gazing upon me, Rosaline!
There is no sorrow in thine eyes,
But evermore that meek surprise,--
O God! thy gentle spirit tries
To deem me guiltless, Rosaline!             40

Above thy grave the robin sings,
And swarms of bright and happy things
Flit all about with sunlit wings,
But I am cheerless, Rosaline!
The violets in the hillock toss,
The gravestone is o'ergrown with moss;
For nature feels not any loss,
But I am cheerless, Rosaline!

I did not know when thou wast dead;
A blackbird whistling overhead             50
Thrilled through my brain; I would have fled,
But dared not leave thee, Rosaline!
The sun rolled down, and very soon,
Like a great fire, the awful moon
Rose, stained with blood, and then a swoon
Crept chilly o'er me, Rosaline!

The stars came out; and, one by one,
Each angel from his silver throne
Looked down and saw what I had done:
I dared not hide me, Rosaline!            60
I crouched; I feared thy corpse would cry
Against me to God's silent sky,
I thought I saw the blue lips try
To utter something, Rosaline!

I waited with a maddened grin
To hear that voice all icy thin
Slide forth and tell my deadly sin
To hell and heaven, Rosaline!
But no voice came, and then it seemed,
That, if the very corpse had screamed,     70
The sound like sunshine glad had streamed
Through that dark stillness, Rosaline!

And then, amid the silent night,
I screamed with horrible delight,
And in my brain an awful light
Did seem to crackle, Rosaline!
It is my curse! sweet memories fall
From me like snow, and only all
Of that one night, like cold worms, crawl
My doomed heart over, Rosaline!           80

Why wilt thou haunt me with thine eyes,
Wherein such blessed memories,
Such pitying forgiveness lies,
Than hate more bitter, Rosaline!
Woe's me! I know that love so high
As thine, true soul, could never die,
And with mean clay in churchyard lie,--
Would it might be so, Rosaline!



A REQUIEM

Ay, pale and silent maiden,
  Cold as thou liest there,
Thine was the sunniest nature
  That ever drew the air;
The wildest and most wayward,
  And yet so gently kind,
Thou seemedst but to body
  A breath of summer wind.

Into the eternal shadow
  That girds our life around,
Into the infinite silence
  Wherewith Death's shore is bound,
Thou hast gone forth, beloved!
  And I were mean to weep,
That thou hast left Life's shallows
  And dost possess the Deep.

Thou liest low and silent,
  Thy heart is cold and still.
Thine eyes are shut forever,
  And Death hath had his will;
He loved and would have taken;
  I loved and would have kept.
We strove,--and he was stronger,
  And I have never wept.

Let him possess thy body,
  Thy soul is still with me,
More sunny and more gladsome
  Than it was wont to be:
Thy body was a fetter
  That bound me to the flesh,
Thank God that it is broken,
  And now I live afresh!

Now I can see thee clearly;
  The dusky cloud of clay,
That hid thy starry spirit,
  Is rent and blown away:
To earth I give thy body,
  Thy spirit to the sky,
I saw its bright wings growing,
  And knew that thou must fly.

Now I can love thee truly,
  For nothing comes between
The senses and the spirit,
  The seen and the unseen;
Lifts the eternal shadow,
  The silence bursts apart,
And the soul's boundless future
  Is present in my heart.



A PARABLE

Worn and footsore was the Prophet,
  When he gained the holy hill;
'God has left the earth,' he murmured,
'Here his presence lingers still.

'God of all the olden prophets,
  Wilt thou speak with men no more?
Have I not as truly served thee
  As thy chosen ones of yore?

'Hear me, guider of my fathers,
  Lo! a humble heart is mine;
By thy mercy I beseech thee
  Grant thy servant but a sign!'

Bowing then his head, he listened
  For an answer to his prayer;
No loud burst of thunder followed,
  Not a murmur stirred the air:

But the tuft of moss before him
  Opened while he waited yet,
And, from out the rock's hard bosom,
  Sprang a tender violet.

'God! I thank thee,' said the Prophet;
  'Hard of heart and blind was I,
Looking to the holy mountain
  For the gift of prophecy.

'Still thou speakest with thy children
  Freely as in eld sublime;
Humbleness, and love, and patience,
  Still give empire over time.

'Had I trusted in my nature,
  And had faith in lowly things,
Thou thyself wouldst then have sought me.
  And set free my spirit's wings.

'But I looked for signs and wonders,
  That o'er men should give me sway;
Thirsting to be more than mortal,
  I was even less than clay.

'Ere I entered on my journey,
  As I girt my loins to start,
Ran to me my little daughter,
  The beloved of my heart;

'In her hand she held a flower,
  Like to this as like may be,
Which, beside my very threshold,
  She had plucked and brought to me.'



SONG

O moonlight deep and tender,
  A year and more agone,
Your mist of golden splendor
  Round my betrothal shone!

O elm-leaves dark and dewy,
  The very same ye seem,
The low wind trembles through ye,
  Ye murmur in my dream!

O river, dim with distance,
  Flow thus forever by,
A part of my existence
  Within your heart doth lie!

O stars, ye saw our meeting,
  Two beings and one soul,
Two hearts so madly beating
  To mingle and be whole!

O happy night, deliver
  Her kisses back to me,
Or keep them all, and give her
  A blisslul dream of me!



SONNETS


I

TO A.C.L.

Through suffering and sorrow thou hast passed
To show us what a woman true may be:
They have not taken sympathy from thee,
Nor made thee any other than thou wast,
Save as some tree, which, in a sudden blast,
Sheddeth those blossoms, that are weakly grown,
Upon the air, but keepeth every one
Whose strength gives warrant of good fruit at last:
So thou hast shed some blooms of gayety,
But never one of steadfast cheerfulness;
Nor hath thy knowledge of adversity
Robbed thee of any faith in happiness,
But rather cleared thine inner eyes to see
How many simple ways there are to bless.


II

What were I, Love, if I were stripped of thee,
If thine eyes shut me out whereby I live.
Thou, who unto my calmer soul dost give
Knowledge, and Truth, and holy Mystery,
Wherein Truth mainly lies for those who see
Beyond the earthly and the fugitive,
Who in the grandeur of the soul believe,
And only in the Infinite are free?
Without thee I were naked, bleak, and bare
As yon dead cedar on the sea-cliff's brow;
And Nature's teachings, which come to me now,
Common and beautiful as light and air,
Would be as fruitless as a stream which still
Slips through the wheel of some old ruined mill.


III

I would not have this perfect love of ours
Grow from a single root, a single stem,
Bearing no goodly fruit, but only flowers
That idly hide life's iron diadem:
It should grow alway like that Eastern tree
Whose limbs take root and spread forth constantly;
That love for one, from which there doth not spring
Wide love for all, is but a worthless thing.
Not in another world, as poets prate,
Dwell we apart above the tide of things,
High floating o'er earth's clouds on faery wings;
But our pure love doth ever elevate
Into a holy bond of brotherhood
All earthly things, making them pure and good.


IV

'For this true nobleness I seek in vain,
In woman and in man I find it not;
I almost weary of my earthly lot,
My life-springs are dried up with burning pain.'
Thou find'st it not? I pray thee look again,
Look _inward_ through the depths of thine own soul.
How is it with thee? Art thou sound and whole?
Doth narrow search show thee no earthly stain?
BE NOBLE! and the nobleness that lies
In other men, sleeping, but never dead,
Will rise in majesty to meet thine own;
Then wilt thou see it gleam in many eyes,
Then will pure light around thy path be shed,
And thou wilt nevermore be sad and lone.


V

TO THE SPIRIT OF KEATS

Great soul, thou sittest with me in my room,
Uplifting me with thy vast, quiet eyes,
On whose full orbs, with kindly lustre, lies
The twilight warmth of ruddy ember-gloom:
Thy clear, strong tones will oft bring sudden bloom
Of hope secure, to him who lonely cries,
Wrestling with the young poet's agonies,
Neglect and scorn, which seem a certain doom:
Yes! the few words which, like great thunder-drops,
Thy large heart down to earth shook doubtfully,
Thrilled by the inward lightning of its might,
Serene and pure, like gushing joy of light,
Shall track the eternal chords of Destiny,
After the moon-led pulse of ocean stops.


VI

Great Truths are portions of the soul of man;
Great souls are portions of Eternity;
Each drop of blood that e'er through true heart ran
With lofty message, ran for thee and me;
For God's law, since the starry song began,
Hath been, and still forevermore must be,
That every deed which shall outlast Time's span
Must spur the soul to be erect and free;
Slave is no word of deathless lineage sprung;
Too many noble souls have thought and died,
Too many mighty poets lived and sung,
And our good Saxon, from lips purified
With martyr-fire, throughout the world hath rung
Too long to have God's holy cause denied.


VII

I ask not for those thoughts, that sudden leap
From being's sea, like the isle-seeming Kraken,
With whose great rise the ocean all is shaken
And a heart-tremble quivers through the deep;
Give me that growth which some perchance deem sleep,
Wherewith the steadfast coral-stems uprise,
Which, by the toil of gathering energies,
Their upward way into clear sunshine keep,
Until, by Heaven's sweetest influences,
Slowly and slowly spreads a speck of green
Into a pleasant island in the seas,
Where, mid fall palms, the cane-roofed home is seen,
And wearied men shall sit at sunset's hour,
Hearing the leaves and loving God's dear power.


VIII

TO M.W., ON HER BIRTHDAY

Maiden, when such a soul as thine is born,
The morning-stars their ancient music make,
And, joyful, once again their song awake,
Long silent now with melancholy scorn;
And thou, not mindless of so blest a morn,
By no least deed its harmony shalt break,
But shalt to that high chime thy footsteps take,
Through life's most darksome passes unforlorn;
Therefore from thy pure faith thou shalt not fall,
Therefore shalt thou be ever fair and free,
And in thine every motion musical
As summer air, majestic as the sea,
A mystery to those who creep and crawl
Through Time, and part it from Eternity.


IX

My Love, I have no fear that thou shouldst die;
Albeit I ask no fairer life than this,
Whose numbering-clock is still thy gentle kiss,
While Time and Peace with hands enlockèd fly;
Yet care I not where in Eternity
We live and love, well knowing that there is
No backward step for those who feel the bliss
Of Faith as their most lofty yearnings high:
Love hath so purified my being's core,
Meseems I scarcely should be startled even,
To find, some morn, that thou hadst gone before;
Since, with thy love, this knowledge too was given,
Which each calm day doth strengthen more and more,
That they who love are but one step from Heaven.


X

I cannot think that thou shouldst pass away,
Whose life to mine is an eternal law,
A piece of nature that can have no flaw,
A new and certain sunrise every day:
But, if thou art to be another ray
About the Sun of Life, and art to live
Free from what part of thee was fugitive,
The debt of Love I will more fully pay,
Not downcast with the thought of thee so high,
But rather raised to be a nobler man,
And more divine in my humanity,
As knowing that the waiting eyes which scan
My life are lighted by a purer being,
And ask high, calm-browed deeds, with it agreeing.


XI

There never yet was flower fair in vain,
Let classic poets rhyme it as they will;
The seasons toil that it may blow again,
And summer's heart doth feel its every ill;
Nor is a true soul ever born for naught;
Wherever any such hath lived and died,
There hath been something for true freedom wrought,
Some bulwark levelled on the evil side:
Toil on, then, Greatness! thou art in the right,
However narrow souls may call thee wrong;
Be as thou wouldst be in thine own clear sight,
And so thou shalt be in the world's erelong;
For worldlings cannot, struggle as they may,
From man's great soul one great thought hide away.


XII

SUB PONDERE CRESCIT

The hope of Truth grows stronger, day by day;
I hear the soul of Man around me waking,
Like a great sea, its frozen fetters breaking,
And flinging up to heaven its sunlit spray,
Tossing huge continents in scornful play,
And crushing them, with din of grinding thunder,
That makes old emptinesses stare in wonder;
The memory of a glory passed away
Lingers in every heart, as, in the shell,
Resounds the bygone freedom of the sea,
And every hour new signs of promise tell,
That the great soul shall once again be free,
For high, and yet more high, the murmurs swell
Of inward strife for truth and liberty.


XIII

Beloved, in the noisy city here,
The thought of thee can make all turmoil cease;
Around my spirit, folds thy spirit clear
Its still, soft arms, and circles it with peace;
There is no room for any doubt or fear
In souls so overfilled with love's increase,
There is no memory of the bygone year
But growth in heart's and spirit's perfect ease:
How hath our love, half nebulous at first,
Rounded itself into a full-orbed sun!
How have our lives and wills (as haply erst
They were, ere this forgetfulness begun)
Through all their earthly distances outburst,
And melted, like two rays of light in one!


XIV

ON READING WORDSWORTH'S SONNETS IN DEFENCE OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

As the broad ocean endlessly upheaveth,
With the majestic beating of his heart,
The mighty tides, whereof its rightful part
Each sea-wide bay and little weed receiveth.
So, through his soul who earnestly believeth,
Life from the universal Heart doth flow,
Whereby some conquest of the eternal Woe,
By instinct of God's nature, he achieveth;
A fuller pulse of this all-powerful beauty
Into the poet's gulf-like heart doth tide,
And he more keenly feels the glorious duty
Of serving Truth, despised and crucified,--
Happy, unknowing sect or creed, to rest,
And feel God flow forever through his breast.


XV

THE SAME CONTINUED

Once hardly in a cycle blossometh
A flower-like soul ripe with the seeds of song,
A spirit foreordained to cope with wrong,
Whose divine thoughts are natural as breath,
Who the old Darkness thickly scattereth
With starry words, that shoot prevailing light
Into the deeps, and wither, with the blight
Of serene Truth, the coward heart of Death:
Woe, if such spirit thwart its errand high,
And mock with lies the longing soul of man!
Yet one age longer must true Culture lie,
Soothing her bitter fetters as she can,
Until new messages of love out-start
At the next beating of the infinite Heart.


XVI

THE SAME CONTINUED

The love of all things springs from love of one;
Wider the soul's horizon hourly grows,
And over it with fuller glory flows
The sky-like spirit of God; a hope begun
In doubt and darkness 'neath a fairer sun
Cometh to fruitage, if it be of Truth:
And to the law of meekness, faith, and ruth,
By inward sympathy, shall all be won:
This thou shouldst know, who, from the painted feature
Of shifting Fashion, couldst thy brethren turn
Unto the love of ever-youthful Nature,
And of a beauty fadeless and eterne;
And always 'tis the saddest sight to see
An old man faithless in Humanity.


XVII

THE SAME CONTINUED

A poet cannot strive for despotism;
His harp falls shattered; for it still must be
The instinct of great spirits to be free,
And the sworn foes of cunning barbarism:
He who has deepest searched the wide abysm
Of that life-giving Soul which men call fate,
Knows that to put more faith in lies and hate
Than truth and love is the true atheism:
Upward the soul forever turns her eyes:
The next hour always shames the hour before;
One beauty, at its highest, prophesies
That by whose side it shall seem mean and poor;
No Godlike thing knows aught of less and less,
But widens to the boundless Perfectness.


XVIII

THE SAME CONTINUED

Therefore think not the Past is wise alone,
For Yesterday knows nothing of the Best,
And thou shalt love it only as the nest
Whence glory-wingèd things to Heaven have flown:
To the great Soul only are all things known;
Present and future are to her as past,
While she in glorious madness doth forecast
That perfect bud, which seems a flower full-blown
To each new Prophet, and yet always opes
Fuller and fuller with each day and hour,
Heartening the soul with odor of fresh hopes,
And longings high, and gushings of wide power,
Yet never is or shall be fully blown
Save in the forethought of the Eternal One.


XIX

THE SAME CONCLUDED

Far 'yond this narrow parapet of Time,
With eyes uplift, the poet's soul should look
Into the Endless Promise, nor should brook
One prying doubt to shake his faith sublime;
To him the earth is ever in her prime
And dewiness of morning; he can see
Good lying hid, from all eternity,
Within the teeming womb of sin and crime;
His soul should not be cramped by any bar,
His nobleness should be so Godlike high,
That his least deed is perfect as a star,
His common look majestic as the sky,
And all o'erflooded with a light from far,
Undimmed by clouds of weak mortality.


XX

TO M.O.S.

Mary, since first I knew thee, to this hour,
My love hath deepened, with my wiser sense
Of what in Woman is to reverence;
Thy clear heart, fresh as e'er was forest-flower,
Still opens more to me its beauteous dower;--
But let praise hush,--Love asks no evidence
To prove itself well-placed: we know not whence
It gleans the straws that thatch its humble bower:
We can but say we found it in the heart,
Spring of all sweetest thoughts, arch foe of blame,
Sower of flowers in the dusty mart,
Pure vestal of the poet's holy flame,--
This is enough, and we have done our part
If we but keep it spotless as it came.


XXI

Our love is not a fading, earthly flower:
Its wingèd seed dropped down from Paradise,
And, nursed by day and night, by sun and shower,
Doth momently to fresher beauty rise:
To us the leafless autumn is not bare,
Nor winter's rattling boughs lack lusty green.
Our summer hearts make summer's fulness, where
No leaf, or bud, or blossom may be seen:
For nature's life in love's deep life doth lie,
Love,--whose forgetfulness is beauty's death,
Whose mystic key these cells of Thou and I
Into the infinite freedom openeth,
And makes the body's dark and narrow grate
The wide-flung leaves of Heaven's own palace-gate.


XXII

IN ABSENCE

These rugged, wintry days I scarce could bear,
Did I not know that, in the early spring,
When wild March winds upon their errands sing,
Thou wouldst return, bursting on this still air,
Like those same winds, when, startled from their lair,
They hunt up violets, and free swift brooks
From icy cares, even as thy clear looks
Bid my heart bloom, and sing, and break all care;
When drops with welcome rain the April day,
My flowers shall find their April in thine eyes,
Save there the rain in dreamy clouds doth stay,
As loath to fall out of those happy skies;
Yet sure, my love, thou art most like to May,
That comes with steady sun when April dies.


XXIII

WENDELL PHILLIPS

He stood upon the world's broad threshold; wide
The din of tattle and of slaughter rose;
He saw God stand upon the weaker side,
That sank in seeming loss before its foes:
Many there were who made great haste and sold
Unto the cunning enemy their swords,
He scorned their gifts of fame, and power, and gold,
And, underneath their soft and flowery words,
Heard the cold serpent hiss; therefore he went
And humbly joined him to the weaker part,
Fanatic named, and fool, yet well content
So he could he the nearer to God's heart,
And feel its solemn pulses sending blood
Through all the widespread veins of endless good.


XXIV

THE STREET

They pass me by like shadows, crowds on crowds,
Dim ghosts of men, that hover to and fro,
Hugging their bodies round them like thin shrouds
Wherein their souls were buried long ago:
They trampled on their youth, and faith, and love,
They cast their hope of human kind away,
With Heaven's clear messages they madly strove,
And conquered,--and their spirits turned to clay:
Lo! how they wander round the world, their grave,
Whose ever-gaping maw by such is fed,
Gibbering at living men, and idly rave,
'We only truly live, but ye are dead.'
Alas! poor fools, the anointed eye may trace
A dead soul's epitaph in every face!


XXV

I grieve not that ripe Knowledge takes away
The charm that Nature to my childhood wore,
For, with that insight, cometh, day by day,
A greater bliss than wonder was before;
The real doth not clip the poet's wings,--
To win the secret of a weed's plain heart
Reveals some clue to spiritual things,
And stumbling guess becomes firm-footed art:
Flowers are not flowers unto the poet's eyes,
Their beauty thrills him by an inward sense;
He knows that outward seemings are but lies,
Or, at the most, but earthly shadows, whence
The soul that looks within for truth may guess
The presence of some wondrous heavenliness.


XXVI

TO J.R. GIDDINGS

Giddings, far rougher names than thine have grown
Smoother than honey on the lips of men;
And thou shalt aye be honorably known,
As one who bravely used his tongue and pen.
As best befits a freeman,--even for those
To whom our Law's unblushing front denies
A right to plead against the lifelong woes
Which are the Negro's glimpse of Freedom's skies:
Fear nothing, and hope all things, as the Right
Alone may do securely; every hour
The thrones of Ignorance and ancient Night
Lose somewhat of their long-usurpèd power,
And Freedom's lightest word can make them shiver
With a base dread that clings to them forever.


XXVII

I thought our love at full, but I did err;
Joy's wreath drooped o'er mine eyes; I could not see
That sorrow in our happy world must be
Love's deepest spokesman and interpreter;
But, as a mother feels her child first stir
Under her heart, so felt I instantly
Deep in my soul another bond to thee
Thrill with that life we saw depart from her;
O mother of our angel child! twice dear!
Death knits as well as parts, and still, I wis,
Her tender radiance shall infold us here,
Even as the light, borne up by inward bliss,
Threads the void glooms of space without a fear,
To print on farthest stars her pitying kiss.



L'ENVOI

Whether my heart hath wiser grown or not,
In these three years, since I to thee inscribed,
Mine own betrothed, the firstlings of my muse.--
Poor windfalls of unripe experience,
Young buds plucked hastily by childish hands
Not patient to await more full-blown flowers,--
At least it hath seen more of life and men,
And pondered more, and grown a shade more sad;
Yet with no loss of hope or settled trust
In the benignness of that Providence           10
Which shapes from out our elements awry
The grace and order that we wonder at,
The mystic harmony of right and wrong,
Both working out his wisdom and our good:
A trust, Beloved, chiefly learned of thee,
Who hast that gift of patient tenderness,
The instinctive wisdom of a woman's heart.

They tell us that our land was made for song,
With its huge rivers and sky-piercing peaks,
Its sealike lakes and mighty cataracts,      20
Its forests vast and hoar, and prairies wide,
And mounds that tell of wondrous tribes extinct.
But Poesy springs not from rocks and woods;
Her womb and cradle are the human heart,
And she can find a nobler theme for song
In the most loathsome man that blasts the sight
Than in the broad expanse of sea and shore
Between the frozen deserts of the poles.
All nations have their message from on high,
Each the messiah of some central thought,     30
For the fulfilment and delight of Man:
One has to teach that labor is divine;
Another Freedom; and another Mind;
And all, that God is open-eyed and just,
The happy centre and calm heart of all.

Are, then, our woods, our mountains, and our streams,
Needful to teach our poets how to sing?
O maiden rare, far other thoughts were ours,
When we have sat by ocean's foaming marge,
And watched the waves leap roaring on the rocks,     40
Than young Leander and his Hero had,
Gazing from Sestos to the other shore.
The moon looks down and ocean worships her,
Stars rise and set, and seasons come and go
Even as they did in Homer's elder time,
But we behold them not with Grecian eyes:
Then they were types of beauty and of strength,
But now of freedom, unconflned and pure,
Subject alone to Order's higher law.
What cares the Russian serf or Southern slave     50
Though we should speak as man spake never yet
Of gleaming Hudson's broad magnificence,
Or green Niagara's never-ending roar?
Our country hath a gospel of her own
To preach and practise before all the world,--
The freedom and divinity of man,
The glorious claims of human brotherhood,--
Which to pay nobly, as a freeman should,
Gains the sole wealth that will not fly away,--
And the soul's fealty to none but God.     60
These are realities, which make the shows
Of outward Nature, be they ne'er so grand,
Seem small, and worthless, and contemptible.
These are the mountain-summits for our bards,
Which stretch far upward into heaven itself,
And give such widespread and exulting view
Of hope, and faith, and onward destiny,
That shrunk Parnassus to a molehill dwindles.
Our new Atlantis, like a morning-star,
Silvers the mirk face of slow-yielding Night,     70
The herald of a fuller truth than yet
Hath gleamed upon the upraised face of Man
Since the earth glittered in her stainless prime,--
Of a more glorious sunrise than of old
Drew wondrous melodies from Memnon huge,
Yea, draws them still, though now he sit waist-deep
In the ingulfing flood of whirling sand,
And look across the wastes of endless gray,
Sole wreck, where once his hundred-gated Thebes
Pained with her mighty hum the calm, blue heaven:      80
Shall the dull stone pay grateful orisons,
And we till noonday bar the splendor out,
Lest it reproach and chide our sluggard hearts,
Warm-nestled in the down of Prejudice,
And be content, though clad with angel-wings,
Close-clipped, to hop about from perch to perch,
In paltry cages of dead men's dead thoughts?
Oh, rather, like the skylark, soar and sing,
And let our gushing songs befit the dawn
And sunrise, and the yet unshaken dew      90
Brimming the chalice of each full-blown hope,
Whose blithe front turns to greet the growing day!
Never had poets such high call before,
Never can poets hope for higher one,
And, if they be but faithful to their trust,
Earth will remember them with love and joy,
And oh, far better, God will not forget.
For he who settles Freedom's principles
Writes the death-warrant of all tyranny;
Who speaks the truth stabs Falsehood to the heart,      100
And his mere word makes despots tremble more
Than ever Brutus with his dagger could.
Wait for no hints from waterfalls or woods,
Nor dream that tales of red men, brute and fierce,
Repay the finding of this Western World,
Or needed half the globe to give them birth:
Spirit supreme of Freedom! not for this
Did great Columbus tame his eagle soul
To jostle with the daws that perch in courts;
Not for this, friendless, on an unknown sea,      110
Coping with mad waves and more mutinous spirits,
Battled he with the dreadful ache at heart
Which tempts, with devilish subtleties of doubt,
The hermit, of that loneliest solitude,
The silent desert of a great New Thought;
Though loud Niagara were to-day struck dumb,
Yet would this cataract of boiling life
Rush plunging on and on to endless deeps,
And utter thunder till the world shall cease,--
A thunder worthy of the poet's song,      120
And which alone can fill it with true life.
The high evangel to our country granted
Could make apostles, yea, with tongues of fire,
Of hearts half-darkened back again to clay!
'Tis the soul only that is national,
And he who pays true loyalty to that
Alone can claim the wreath of patriotism.

  Beloved! if I wander far and oft
From that which I believe, and feel, and know,
Thou wilt forgive, not with a sorrowing heart,      130
But with a strengthened hope of better things;
Knowing that I, though often blind and false
To those I love, and oh, more false than all
Unto myself, have been most true to thee,
And that whoso in one thing hath been true
Can be as true in all. Therefore thy hope
May yet not prove unfruitful, and thy love
Meet, day by day, with less unworthy thanks,
Whether, as now, we journey hand in hand,
Or, parted in the body, yet are one               140
In spirit and the love of holy things.



MISCELLANEOUS POEMS


A LEGEND OF BRITTANY

PART FIRST


I

Fair as a summer dream was Margaret,
  Such dream as in a poet's soul might start,
Musing of old loves while the moon doth set:
  Her hair was not more sunny than her heart,
Though like a natural golden coronet
  It circled her dear head with careless art,
Mocking the sunshine, that would fain have lent
To its frank grace a richer ornament.


II

His loved one's eyes could poet ever speak,
  So kind, so dewy, and so deep were hers,--      10
But, while he strives, the choicest phrase, too weak,
  Their glad reflection in his spirit blurs;
As one may see a dream dissolve and break
  Out of his grasp when he to tell it stirs,
Like that sad Dryad doomed no more to bless
The mortal who revealed her loveliness.


III

She dwelt forever in a region bright,
  Peopled with living fancies of her own,
Where naught could come but visions of delight,
  Far, far aloof from earth's eternal moan:      20
A summer cloud thrilled through with rosy light,
  Floating beneath the blue sky all alone,
Her spirit wandered by itself, and won
A golden edge from some unsetting sun.


IV

The heart grows richer that its lot is poor,
  God blesses want with larger sympathies,
Love enters gladliest at the humble door,
  And makes the cot a palace with his eyes;
So Margaret's heart a softer beauty wore,
  And grew in gentleness and patience wise,      30
For she was but a simple herdsman's child,
A lily chance-sown in the rugged wild.


V

There was no beauty of the wood or field
  But she its fragrant bosom-secret knew,
Nor any but to her would freely yield
  Some grace that in her soul took root and grew;
Nature to her shone as but now revealed,
  All rosy-fresh with innocent morning dew,
And looked into her heart with dim, sweet eyes
That left it full of sylvan memories.      40


VI

Oh, what a face was hers to brighten light,
  And give back sunshine with an added glow,
To wile each moment with a fresh delight,
  And part of memory's best contentment grow!
Oh, how her voice, as with an inmate's right,
  Into the strangest heart would welcome go,
And make it sweet, and ready to become
Of white and gracious thoughts the chosen home!


VII

None looked upon her but he straightway thought
  Of all the greenest depths of country cheer,      50
And into each one's heart was freshly brought
  What was to him the sweetest time of year,
So was her every look and motion fraught
  With out-of-door delights and forest lere;
Not the first violet on a woodland lea
Seemed a more visible gift of Spring than she.


VIII

Is love learned only out of poets' books?
  Is there not somewhat in the dropping flood,
And in the nunneries of silent nooks,
  And in the murmured longing of the wood,      60
That could make Margaret dream of lovelorn looks,
  And stir a thrilling mystery in her blood
More trembly secret than Aurora's tear
Shed in the bosom of an eglatere?


IX

Full many a sweet forewarning hath the mind,
  Full many a whispering of vague desire,
Ere comes the nature destined to unbind
  Its virgin zone, and all its deeps inspire,--     70
Low stirrings in the leaves, before the wind
  Wake all the green strings of the forest lyre,
Faint heatings in the calyx, ere the rose
Its warm voluptuous breast doth all unclose.


X

Long in its dim recesses pines the spirit,
  Wildered and dark, despairingly alone;
Though many a shape of beauty wander near it,
  And many a wild and half-remembered tone
Tremble from the divine abyss to cheer it,
  Yet still it knows that there is only one
Before whom it can kneel and tribute bring.
At once a happy vassal and a king.      80


XI

To feel a want, yet scarce know what it is,
  To seek one nature that is always new,
Whose glance is warmer than another's kiss,
  Whom we can bare our inmost beauty to,
Nor feel deserted afterwards,--for this
  But with our destined co-mate we can do,--
Such longing instinct fills the mighty scope
Of the young soul with one mysterious hope.


XII

So Margaret's heart grew brimming with the lore
  Of love's enticing secrets; and although       90
She had found none to cast it down before,
  Yet oft to Fancy's chapel she would go
To pay her vows--and count the rosary o'er
  Of her love's promised graces:--haply so
Miranda's hope had pictured Ferdinand
Long ere the gaunt wave tossed him on the strand.


XIII

A new-made star that swims the lonely gloom,
  Unwedded yet and longing for the sun,
Whose beams, the bride-gifts of the lavish groom,
  Blithely to crown the virgin planet run,      100
Her being was, watching to see the bloom
  Of love's fresh sunrise roofing one by one
Its clouds with gold, a triumph-arch to be
For him who came to hold her heart in fee.


XIV

Not far from Margaret's cottage dwelt a knight
  Of the proud Templars, a sworn celibate,
Whose heart in secret fed upon the light
  And dew of her ripe beauty, through the grate
Of his close vow catching what gleams he might
  Of the free heaven, and cursing all too late      110
The cruel faith whose black walls hemmed him in
And turned life's crowning bliss to deadly sin.


XV

For he had met her in the wood by chance,
  And, having drunk her beauty's wildering spell,
His heart shook like the pennon of a lance
  That quivers in a breeze's sudden swell,
And thenceforth, in a close-infolded trance,
  From mistily golden deep to deep he fell;
Till earth did waver and fade far away
Beneath the hope in whose warm arms he lay.      120


XVI

A dark, proud man he was, whose half-blown youth
  Had shed its blossoms even in opening,
Leaving a few that with more winning ruth
  Trembling around grave manhood's stem might cling,
More sad than cheery, making, in good sooth,
  Like the fringed gentian, a late autumn spring:
A twilight nature, braided light and gloom,
A youth half-smiling by an open tomb.


XVII

Fair as an angel, who yet inly wore
  A wrinkled heart foreboding his near fall;       130
Who saw him alway wished to know him more,
  As if he were some fate's defiant thrall
And nursed a dreaded secret at his core;
  Little he loved, but power the most of all,
And that he seemed to scorn, as one who knew
By what foul paths men choose to crawl thereto.


XVIII

He had been noble, but some great deceit
  Had turned his better instinct to a vice:
He strove to think the world was all a cheat,
  That power and fame were cheap at any price,       140
That the sure way of being shortly great
  Was even to play life's game with loaded dice,
Since he had tried the honest play and found
That vice and virtue differed but in sound.


XIX

Yet Margaret's sight redeemed him for a space
  From his own thraldom; man could never be
A hypocrite when first such maiden grace
  Smiled in upon his heart; the agony
Of wearing all day long a lying face
  Fell lightly from him, and, a moment free,      150
Erect with wakened faith his spirit stood
And scorned the weakness of his demon-mood.


XX

Like a sweet wind-harp to him was her thought,
  Which would not let the common air come near,
Till from its dim enchantment it had caught
  A musical tenderness that brimmed his ear
With sweetness more ethereal than aught
  Save silver-dropping snatches that whilere
Rained down from some sad angel's faithful harp
To cool her fallen lover's anguish sharp.      160


XXI

Deep in the forest was a little dell
  High overarchèd with the leafy sweep
Of a broad oak, through whose gnarled roots there fell
  A slender rill that sung itself to sleep,
Where its continuous toil had scooped a well
  To please the fairy folk; breathlessly deep
The stillness was, save when the dreaming brook
From its small urn a drizzly murmur shook.


XXII

The wooded hills sloped upward all around
  With gradual rise, and made an even rim,      170
So that it seemed a mighty casque unbound
  From some huge Titan's brow to lighten him,
Ages ago, and left upon the ground.
  Where the slow soil had mossed it to the brim,
Till after countless centuries it grew
Into this dell, the haunt of noontide dew.


XXIII

Dim vistas, sprinkled o'er with sun-flecked green,
  Wound through the thickset trunks on every side,
And, toward the west, in fancy might be seen
  A Gothic window in its blazing pride,      180
When the low sun, two arching elms between,
  Lit up the leaves beyond, which, autumn-dyed
With lavish hues, would into splendor start,
Shaming the labored panes of richest art.


XXIV

Here, leaning once against the old oak's trunk,
  Mordred, for such was the young Templar's name,
Saw Margaret come; unseen, the falcon shrunk
  From the meek dove; sharp thrills of tingling flame
Made him forget that he was vowed a monk,
  And all the outworks of his pride o'ercame:      190
Flooded he seemed with bright delicious pain,
As if a star had burst within his brain.


XXV

Such power hath beauty and frank innocence:
  A flower bloomed forth, that sunshine glad to bless,
Even from his love's long leafless stem; the sense
  Of exile from Hope's happy realm grew less,
And thoughts of childish peace, he knew not whence,
  Thronged round his heart with many an old caress,
Melting the frost there into pearly dew
That mirrored back his nature's morning-blue.      200


XXVI

She turned and saw him, but she felt no dread,
  Her purity, like adamantine mail.
Did so encircle her; and yet her head
  She drooped, and made her golden hair her veil,
Through which a glow of rosiest lustre spread,
  Then faded, and anon she stood all pale,
As snow o'er which a blush of northern light
Suddenly reddens, and as soon grows white.


XXVII

She thought of Tristrem and of Lancilot,
  Of all her dreams, and of kind fairies' might,      210
And how that dell was deemed a haunted spot,
  Until there grew a mist before her sight.
And where the present was she half forgot,
  Borne backward through the realms of old delight,--
Then, starting up awake, she would have gone,
Yet almost wished it might not be alone.


XXVIII

How they went home together through the wood,
  And how all life seemed focussed into one
Thought-dazzling spot that set ablaze the blood,
  What need to tell? Fit language there is none      220
For the heart's deepest things. Who ever wooed
  As in his boyish hope he would have done?
For, when the soul is fullest, the hushed tongue
Voicelessly trembles like a lute unstrung.


XXIX

But all things carry the heart's messages
  And know it not, nor doth the heart well know,
But Nature hath her will; even as the bees,
  Blithe go-betweens, fly singing to and fro
With the fruit-quickening pollen;--hard if these
  Found not some all unthought-of way to show      230
Their secret each to each; and so they did,
And one heart's flower-dust into the other slid.


XXX

Young hearts are free; the selfish world it is
  That turns them miserly and cold as stone,
And makes them clutch their fingers on the bliss
  Which but in giving truly is their own;--
She had no dreams of barter, asked not his,
  But gave hers freely as she would have thrown
A rose to him, or as that rose gives forth
Its generous fragrance, thoughtless of its worth.      240


XXXI

Her summer nature felt a need to bless,
  And a like longing to be blest again;
So, from her sky-like spirit, gentleness
  Dropt ever like a sunlit fall of rain,
And his beneath drank in the bright caress
  As thirstily as would a parched plain,
That long hath watched the showers of sloping gray
For ever, ever, falling far away.


XXXII

How should she dream of ill? the heart filled quite
  With sunshine, like the shepherd's-clock at noon,      250
Closes its leaves around its warm delight;
  Whate'er in life is harsh or out of tune
Is all shut out, no boding shade of blight
  Can pierce the opiate ether of its swoon:
Love is but blind as thoughtful justice is,
But naught can be so wanton-blind as bliss.


XXXIII

All beauty and all life he was to her;
  She questioned not his love, she only knew
That she loved him, and not a pulse could stir
  In her whole frame but quivered through and through      260
With this glad thought, and was a minister
  To do him fealty and service true,
Like golden ripples hasting to the land
To wreck their freight of sunshine on the strand.


XXXIV

O dewy dawn of love! that are
  Hung high, like the cliff-swallow's perilous nest,
Most like to fall when fullest, and that jar
  With every heavier billow! O unrest
Than balmiest deeps of quiet sweeter far!
  How did ye triumph now in Margaret's breast,      270
Making it readier to shrink and start
Than quivering gold of the pond-lily's heart!


XXXV

Here let us pause: oh, would the soul might ever
  Achieve its immortality in youth,
When nothing yet hath damped its high endeavor
  After the starry energy of truth!
Here let us pause, and for a moment sever
  This gleam of sunshine from the sad unruth
That sometime comes to all, for it is good
To lengthen to the last a sunny mood.      280



PART SECOND


I

As one who, from the sunshine and the green,
  Enters the solid darkness of a cave,
Nor knows what precipice or pit unseen
  May yawn before him with its sudden grave,
And, with hushed breath, doth often forward lean,
  Dreaming he hears the plashing of a wave
Dimly below, or feels a damper air
From out some dreary chasm, he knows not where;


II

So, from the sunshine and the green of love,
  We enter on our story's darker part;      290
And, though the horror of it well may move
  An impulse of repugnance in the heart,
Yet let us think, that, as there's naught above
  The all-embracing atmosphere of Art,
So also there is naught that falls below
Her generous reach, though grimed with guilt and woe.


III

Her fittest triumph is to show that good
  Lurks in the heart of evil evermore,
That love, though scorned, and outcast, and withstood,
  Can without end forgive, and yet have store;      300
God's love and man's are of the selfsame blood,
  And He can see that always at the door
Of foulest hearts the angel-nature yet
Knocks to return and cancel all its debt.


IV

It ever is weak falsehood's destiny
  That her thick mask turns crystal to let through
The unsuspicious eyes of honesty;
  But Margaret's heart was too sincere and true
Aught but plain truth and faithfulness to see,
  And Mordred's for a time a little grew      310
To be like hers, won by the mild reproof
Of those kind eyes that kept all doubt aloof.


V

Full oft they met, as dawn and twilight meet
  In northern climes; she full of growing day
As he of darkness, which before her feet
  Shrank gradual, and faded quite away,
Soon to return; for power had made love sweet
  To him, and when his will had gained full sway,
The taste began to pall; for never power
Can sate the hungry soul beyond an hour.      320


VI

He fell as doth the tempter ever fall,
  Even in the gaining of his loathsome end;
God doth not work as man works, but makes all
  The crooked paths of ill to goodness tend;
Let Him judge Margaret! If to be the thrall
  Of love, and faith too generous to defend
Its very life from him she loved, be sin,
What hope of grace may the seducer win?


VII

Grim-hearted world, that look'st with Levite eyes
  On those poor fallen by too much faith in man,      330
She that upon thy freezing threshold lies,
  Starved to more sinning by thy savage ban,
Seeking that refuge because foulest vice
  More godlike than thy virtue is, whose span
Shuts out the wretched only, is more free
To enter heaven than thou shalt ever be!


VIII

Thou wilt not let her wash thy dainty feet
  With such salt things as tears, or with rude hair
Dry them, soft Pharisee, that sit'st at meat
  With him who made her such, and speak'st him fair.      340
Leaving God's wandering lamb the while to bleat
  Unheeded, shivering in the pitiless air:
Thou hast made prisoned virtue show more wan
And haggard than a vice to look upon.


IX

Now many months flew by, and weary grew
  To Margaret the sight of happy things;
Blight fell on all her flowers, instead of dew;
  Shut round her heart were now the joyous wings
Wherewith it wont to soar; yet not untrue,
  Though tempted much, her woman's nature clings      350
To its first pure belief, and with sad eyes
Looks backward o'er the gate of Paradise.


X

And so, though altered Mordred came less oft,
  And winter frowned where spring had laughed before
In his strange eyes, yet half her sadness doffed,
  And in her silent patience loved him more:
Sorrow had made her soft heart yet more soft,
  And a new life within her own she bore
Which made her tenderer, as she felt it move
Beneath her breast, a refuge for her love.      360


XI

This babe, she thought, would surely bring him back,
  And be a bond forever them between;
Before its eyes the sullen tempest-rack
  Would fade, and leave the face of heaven serene;
And love's return doth more than fill the lack,
  Which in his absence withered the heart's green:
And yet a dim foreboding still would flit
Between her and her hope to darken it.


XII

She could not figure forth a happy fate,
  Even for this life from heaven so newly come;      370
The earth must needs be doubly desolate
  To him scarce parted from a fairer home:
Such boding heavier on her bosom sate
  One night, as, standing in the twilight gloam,
She strained her eyes beyond that dizzy verge
At whose foot faintly breaks the future's surge.


XIII

Poor little spirit! naught but shame and woe
  Nurse the sick heart whose life-blood nurses thine:
Yet not those only; love hath triumphed so,
  As for thy sake makes sorrow more divine:      380
And yet, though thou be pure, the world is foe
  To purity, if born in such a shrine;
And, having trampled it for struggling thence,
Smiles to itself, and calls it Providence.


XIV

As thus she mused, a shadow seemed to rise
  From out her thought, and turn to dreariness
All blissful hopes and sunny memories,
  And the quick blood would curdle up and press
About her heart, which seemed to shut its eyes
  And hush itself, as who with shuddering guess      390
Harks through the gloom and dreads e'en now to feel
Through his hot breast the icy slide of steel.


XV

But, at that heart-beat, while in dread she was,
  In the low wind the honeysuckles gleam,
A dewy thrill flits through the heavy grass,
  And, looking forth, she saw, as in a dream,
Within the wood the moonlight's shadowy mass:
  Night's starry heart yearning to hers doth seem,
And the deep sky, full-hearted with the moon,
Folds round her all the happiness of June.      400


XVI

What fear could face a heaven and earth like this?
  What silveriest cloud could hang 'neath such a sky?
A tide of wondrous and unwonted bliss
  Rolls back through all her pulses suddenly,
As if some seraph, who had learned to kiss
  From the fair daughters of the world gone by,
Had wedded so his fallen light with hers,
Such sweet, strange joy through soul and body stirs.


XVII

Now seek we Mordred; he who did not fear
  The crime, yet fears the latent consequence:      410
If it should reach a brother Templar's ear,
  It haply might be made a good pretence
To cheat him of the hope he held most dear;
  For he had spared no thought's or deed's expense,
That by and by might help his wish to clip
Its darling bride,--the high grandmastership.


XVIII

The apathy, ere a crime resolved is done,
  Is scarce less dreadful than remorse for crime;
By no allurement can the soul be won
  From brooding o'er the weary creep of time:      420
Mordred stole forth into the happy sun,
  Striving to hum a scrap of Breton rhyme,
But the sky struck him speechless, and he tried
In vain to summon up his callous pride.


XIX

In the courtyard a fountain leaped alway,
  A Triton blowing jewels through his shell
Into the sunshine; Mordred turned away,
  Weary because the stone face did not tell
Of weariness, nor could he bear to-day,
  Heartsick, to hear the patient sink and swell      430
Of winds among the leaves, or golden bees
Drowsily humming in the orange-trees.


XX

All happy sights and sounds now came to him
  Like a reproach: he wandered far and wide,
Following the lead of his unquiet whim,
  But still there went a something at his side
That made the cool breeze hot, the sunshine dim;
  It would not flee, it could not be defied,
He could not see it, but he felt it there,
By the damp chill that crept among his hair.      440


XXI

Day wore at last; the evening-star arose,
  And throbbing in the sky grew red and set;
Then with a guilty, wavering step he goes
  To the hid nook where they so oft had met
In happier season, for his heart well knows
  That he is sure to find poor Margaret
Watching and waiting there with love-lorn breast
Around her young dream's rudely scattered nest.


XXII

Why follow here that grim old chronicle
  Which counts the dagger-strokes and drops of blood?      450
Enough that Margaret by his mad steel fell,
  Unmoved by murder from her trusting mood,
Smiling on him as Heaven smiles on Hell,
  With a sad love, remembering when he stood
Not fallen yet, the unsealer of her heart,
Of all her holy dreams the holiest part.


XXIII

His crime complete, scarce knowing what he did,
  (So goes the tale,) beneath the altar there
In the high church the stiffening corpse he hid,
  And then, to 'scape that suffocating air,      460
Like a scared ghoul out of the porch he slid;
  But his strained eyes saw blood-spots everywhere,
And ghastly faces thrust themselves between
His soul and hopes of peace with blasting mien.


XXIV

His heart went out within him like a spark
  Dropt in the sea; wherever he made bold
To turn his eyes, he saw, all stiff and stark,
  Pale Margaret lying dead; the lavish gold
Of her loose hair seemed in the cloudy dark
  To spread a glory, and a thousand-fold      470
More strangely pale and beautiful she grew:
Her silence stabbed his conscience through and through.


XXV

Or visions of past days,--a mother's eyes
  That smiled down on the fair boy at her knee,
Whose happy upturned face to hers replies.--
  He saw sometimes: or Margaret mournfully
Gazed on him full of doubt, as one who tries
  To crush belief that does love injury;
Then she would wring her hands, but soon again
Love's patience glimmered out through cloudy pain.      480


XXVI

Meanwhile he dared, not go and steal away
  The silent, dead-cold witness of his sin;
He had not feared the life, but that dull clay,
  Those open eyes that showed the death within,
Would surely stare him mad; yet all the day
  A dreadful impulse, whence his will could win
No refuge, made him linger in the aisle,
Freezing with his wan look each greeting smile.


XXVII

Now, on the second day there was to be
  A festival in church: from far and near      490
Came flocking in the sunburnt peasantry,
  And knights and dames with stately antique cheer,
Blazing with pomp, as if all faerie
  Had emptied her quaint halls, or, as it were,
The illuminated marge of some old book,
While we were gazing, life and motion took.


XXVIII

When all were entered, and the roving eyes
  Of all were stayed, some upon faces bright,
Some on the priests, some on the traceries
  That decked the slumber of a marble knight,      500
And all the rustlings over that arise
  From recognizing tokens of delight,
When friendly glances meet,--then silent ease
Spread o'er the multitude by slow degrees.


XXIX

Then swelled the organ: up through choir and nave
  The music trembled with an inward thrill
Of bliss at its own grandeur; wave on wave
  Its flood of mellow thunder rose, until
The hushed air shivered with the throb it gave,
  Then, poising for a moment, it stood still,      510
And sank and rose again, to burst in spray
That wandered into silence far away.


XXX

Like to a mighty heart the music seemed,
  That yearns with melodies it cannot speak,
Until, in grand despair of what it dreamed,
  In the agony of effort it doth break,
Yet triumphs breaking; on it rushed and streamed
  And wantoned in its might, as when a lake,
Long pent among the mountains, bursts its walls
And in one crowding gash leaps forth and falls.      520


XXXI

Deeper and deeper shudders shook the air,
  As the huge bass kept gathering heavily,
Like thunder when it rouses in its lair,
  And with its hoarse growl shakes the low-hung sky,
It grew up like a darkness everywhere,
  Filling the vast cathedral;--suddenly,
From the dense mass a boy's clear treble broke
Like lightning, and the full-toned choir awoke.


XXXII

Through gorgeous windows shone the sun aslant,
  Brimming the church with gold and purple mist,      530
Meet atmosphere to bosom that rich chant.
  Where fifty voices in one strand did twist
Their varicolored tones, and left no want
  To the delighted soul, which sank abyssed
In the warm music cloud, while, far below,
The organ heaved its surges to and fro.


XXXIII

As if a lark should suddenly drop dead
  While the blue air yet trembled with its song,
So snapped at once that music's golden thread,
  Struck by a nameless fear that leapt along      540
From heart to heart, and like a shadow spread
  With instantaneous shiver through the throng,
So that some glanced behind, as half aware
A hideous shape of dread were standing there.


XXXIV

As when a crowd of pale men gather round,
  Watching an eddy in the leaden deep,
From which they deem the body of one drowned
  Will be cast forth, from face to face doth creep
An eager dread that holds all tongues fast bound
  Until the horror, with a ghastly leap,      550
Starts up, its dead blue arms stretched aimlessly,
Heaved with the swinging of the careless sea,--


XXXV

So in the faces of all these there grew,
  As by one impulse, a dark, freezing awe,
Which with a fearful fascination drew
  All eyes toward the altar; damp and raw
The air grew suddenly, and no man knew
  Whether perchance his silent neighbor saw
The dreadful thing which all were sure would rise
To scare the strained lids wider from their eyes.      560


XXXVI

The incense trembled as it upward sent
  Its slow, uncertain thread of wandering blue,
As't were the only living element
  In all the church, so deep the stillness grew;
It seemed one might have heard it, as it went,
  Give out an audible rustle, curling through
The midnight silence of that awestruck air,
More hushed than death, though so much life was there.


XXXVII

Nothing they saw, but a low voice was heard
  Threading the ominous silence of that fear,      570
Gentle and terrorless as if a bird,
  Wakened by some volcano's glare, should cheer
The murk air with his song; yet every word
  In the cathedral's farthest arch seemed near,
As if it spoke to every one apart,
Like the clear voice of conscience in each heart.


XXXVIII

'O Rest, to weary hearts thou art most dear!
  O Silence, after life's bewildering din,
Thou art most welcome, whether in the sear
  Days of our age thou comest, or we win      580
Thy poppy-wreath in youth! then wherefore here
  Linger I yet, once free to enter in
At that wished gate which gentle Death doth ope,
Into the boundless realm of strength and hope?


XXXIX

'Think not in death my love could ever cease;
  If thou wast false, more need there is for me
Still to be true; that slumber were not peace,
  If't were unvisited with dreams of thee:
And thou hadst never heard such words as these,
  Save that in heaven I must forever be      590
Most comfortless and wretched, seeing this
Our unbaptized babe shut out from bliss.


XL

'This little spirit with imploring eyes
  Wanders alone the dreary wild of space;
The shadow of his pain forever lies
  Upon my soul in this new dwelling-place;
His loneliness makes me in Paradise
  More lonely, and, unless I see his face,
Even here for grief could I lie down and die,      599
Save for my curse of immortality.


XLI

'World after world he sees around him swim
  Crowded with happy souls, that take no heed
Of the sad eyes that from the night's faint rim
  Gaze sick with longing on them as they speed
With golden gates, that only shut on him;
  And shapes sometimes from hell's abysses freed
Flap darkly by him, with enormous sweep
Of wings that roughen wide the pitchy deep.


XLII

'I am a mother,--spirits do not shake
  This much of earth from them,--and I must pine      610
Till I can feel his little hands, and take
  His weary head upon this heart of mine;
And, might it be, full gladly for his sake
  Would I this solitude of bliss resign
And be shut out of heaven to dwell with him
Forever in that silence drear and dim.


XLIII

'I strove to hush my soul, and would not speak
  At first, for thy dear sake; a woman's love
Is mighty, but a mother's heart is weak,
  And by its weakness overcomes; I strove      620
To smother bitter thoughts with patience meek,
  But still in the abyss my soul would rove,
Seeking my child, and drove me here to claim
The rite that gives him peace in Christ's dear name.


XLIV

'I sit and weep while blessed spirits sing;
  I can but long and pine the while they praise,
And, leaning o'er the wall of heaven, I fling
  My voice to where I deem my infant strays,
Like a robbed bird that cries in vain to bring
  Her nestlings back beneath her wings' embrace;      630
But still he answers not, and I but know
That heaven and earth are both alike in woe.'


XLV

Then the pale priests, with ceremony due,
  Baptized the child within its dreadful tomb
Beneath that mother's heart, whose instinct true
  Star-like had battled down the triple gloom
Of sorrow, love, and death: young maidens, too.
  Strewed the pale corpse with many a milkwhite bloom,
And parted the bright hair, and on the breast
Crossed the unconscious hands in sign of rest.      640


XLVI

Some said, that, when the priest had sprinkled o'er
  The consecrated drops, they seemed to hear
A sigh, as of some heart from travail sore
  Released, and then two voices singing clear,
_Misereatur Deus_, more and more
  Fading far upward, and their ghastly fear
Fell from them with that sound, as bodies fall
From souls upspringing to celestial hall.



PROMETHEUS

  One after one the stars have risen and set,
Sparkling upon the hoarfrost on my chain:
The Bear, that prowled all night about the fold
Of the North-star, hath shrunk into his den.
Scared by the blithesome footsteps of the Dawn,
Whose blushing smile floods all the Orient;
And now bright Lucifer grows less and less,
Into the heaven's blue quiet deep-withdrawn.
Sunless and starless all, the desert sky
Arches above me, empty as this heart      10
For ages hath been empty of all joy,
Except to brood upon its silent hope,
As o'er its hope of day the sky doth now.
All night have I heard voices: deeper yet
The deep low breathing of the silence grew,
While all about, muffled in awe, there stood
Shadows, or forms, or both, clear-felt at heart,
But, when I turned to front them, far along
Only a shudder through the midnight ran,
And the dense stillness walled me closer round.      20
But still I heard them wander up and down
That solitude, and flappings of dusk wings
Did mingle with them, whether of those hags
Let slip upon me once from Hades deep,
Or of yet direr torments, if such be,
I could but guess; and then toward me came
A shape as of a woman: very pale
It was, and calm; its cold eyes did not move,
And mine moved not, but only stared on them.
Their fixed awe went through my brain like ice;      30
A skeleton hand seemed clutching at my heart,
And a sharp chill, as if a dank night fog
Suddenly closed me in, was all I felt:
And then, methought, I heard a freezing sigh,
A long, deep, shivering sigh, as from blue lips
Stiffening in death, close to mine ear. I thought
Some doom was close upon me, and I looked
And saw the red moon through the heavy mist,
Just setting, and it seemed as it were falling,
Or reeling to its fall, so dim and dead      40
And palsy-struck it looked. Then all sounds merged
Into the rising surges of the pines,
Which, leagues below me, clothing the gaunt loins
Of ancient Caucasus with hairy strength,
Sent up a murmur in the morning wind,
Sad as the wail that from the populous earth
All day and night to high Olympus soars.
Fit incense to thy wicked throne, O Jove!

  Thy hated name is tossed once more in scorn
From off my lips, for I will tell thy doom.      50
And are these tears? Nay, do not triumph, Jove!
They are wrung from me but by the agonies
Of prophecy, like those sparse drops which fall
From clouds in travail of the lightning, when
The great wave of the storm high-curled and black
Rolls steadily onward to its thunderous break.
Why art thou made a god of, thou poor type
Of anger, and revenge, and cunning force?
True Power was never born of brutish Strength,
Nor sweet Truth suckled at the shaggy dugs      60
Of that old she-wolf. Are thy thunderbolts,
That quell the darkness for a space, so strong
As the prevailing patience of meek Light,
Who, with the invincible tenderness of peace,
Wins it to be a portion of herself?
Why art thou made a god of, thou, who hast
The never-sleeping terror at thy heart,
That birthright of all tyrants, worse to bear
Than this thy ravening bird on which I smile?
Thou swear'st to free me, if I will unfold      70
What kind of doom it is whose omen flits
Across thy heart, as o'er a troop of doves
The fearful shadow of the kite. What need
To know that truth whose knowledge cannot save?
Evil its errand hath, as well as Good;
When thine is finished, thou art known no more:
There is a higher purity than thou,
And higher purity is greater strength;
Thy nature is thy doom, at which thy heart
Trembles behind the thick wall of thy might.     80
Let man but hope, and thou art straightway chilled
With thought of that drear silence and deep night
Which, like a dream, shall swallow thee and thine:
Let man but will, and thou art god no more,
More capable of ruin than the gold
And ivory that image thee on earth.
He who hurled down the monstrous Titan-brood
Blinded with lightnings, with rough thunders stunned,
Is weaker than a simple human thought.
My slender voice can shake thee, as the breeze,      90
That seems but apt to stir a maiden's hair,
Sways huge Oceanus from pole to pole;
For I am still Prometheus, and foreknow
In my wise heart the end and doom of all.

  Yes, I am still Prometheus, wiser grown
By years of solitude,--that holds apart
The past and future, giving the soul room
To search into itself,--and long commune
With this eternal silence;--more a god,
In my long-suffering and strength to meet      100
With equal front the direst shafts of fate,
Than thou in thy faint-hearted despotism,
Girt with thy baby-toys of force and wrath.
Yes, I am that Prometheus who brought down
The light to man, which thou, in selfish fear,
Hadst to thy self usurped,--his by sole right,
For Man hath right to all save Tyranny,--
And which shall free him yet from thy frail throne.
Tyrants are but the spawn of Ignorance,
Begotten by the slaves they trample on,       110
Who, could they win a glimmer of the light,
And see that Tyranny is always weakness,
Or Fear with its own bosom ill at ease,
Would laugh away in scorn the sand-wove chain
Which their own blindness feigned for adamant.
Wrong ever builds on quicksands, but the Right
To the firm centre lays its moveless base.
The tyrant trembles, if the air but stir
The innocent ringlets of a child's free hair,
And crouches, when the thought of some great spirit,      120
With world-wide murmur, like a rising gale.
Over men's hearts, as over standing corn,
Rushes, and bends them to its own strong will.
So shall some thought of mine yet circle earth,
And puff away thy crumbling altars, Jove!

  And, wouldst thou know of my supreme revenge,
Poor tyrant, even now dethroned in heart,
Realmless in soul, as tyrants ever are,
Listen! and tell me if this bitter peak,
This never-glutted vulture, and these chains      130
Shrink not before it; for it shall befit
A sorrow-taught, unconquered Titan-heart.
Men, when their death is on them, seem to stand
On a precipitous crag that overhangs
The abyss of doom, and in that depth to see,
As in a glass, the features dim and vast
Of things to come, the shadows, as it seems,
Of what have been. Death ever fronts the wise;
Not fearfully, but with clear promises
Of larger life, on whose broad vans upborne,      140
Their outlook widens, and they see beyond
The horizon of the Present and the Past,
Even to the very source and end of things.
Such am I now: immortal woe hath made
My heart a seer, and my soul a judge
Between the substance and the shadow of Truth.
The sure supremeness of the Beautiful,
By all the martyrdoms made doubly sure
Of such as I am, this is my revenge,
Which of my wrongs builds a triumphal arch,      150
Through which I see a sceptre and a throne.
The pipings of glad shepherds on the hills,
Tending the flocks no more to bleed for thee;
The songs of maidens pressing with white feet
The vintage on thine altars poured no more;
The murmurous bliss of lovers underneath
Dim grapevine bowers whose rosy bunches press
Not half so closely their warm cheeks, unpaled
By thoughts of thy brute lust; the hive-like hum
Of peaceful commonwealths, where sunburnt Toil      160
Reaps for itself the rich earth made its own
By its own labor, lightened with glad hymns
To an omnipotence which thy mad bolts
Would cope with as a spark with the vast sea,--
Even the spirit of free love and peace,
Duty's sure recompense through life and death,--
These are such harvests as all master-spirits
Reap, haply not on earth, but reap no less
Because the sheaves are bound by hands not theirs;
These are the bloodless daggers wherewithal      170
They stab fallen tyrants, this their high revenge:
For their best part of life on earth is when,
Long after death, prisoned and pent no more,
Their thoughts, their wild dreams even, have become
Part of the necessary air men breathe:
When, like the moon, herself behind a cloud,
They shed down light before us on life's sea,
That cheers us to steer onward still in hope.
Earth with her twining memories ivies o'er
Their holy sepulchres; the chainless sea,      180
In tempest or wide calm, repeats their thoughts;
The lightning and the thunder, all free things,
Have legends of them for the ears of men.
All other glories are as falling stars,
But universal Nature watches theirs:
Such strength is won by love of humankind.

  Not that I feel that hunger after fame,
Which souls of a half-greatness are beset with;
But that the memory of noble deeds
Cries shame upon the idle and the vile,      190
And keeps the heart of Man forever up
To the heroic level of old time.
To be forgot at first is little pain
To a heart conscious of such high intent
As must be deathless on the lips of men;
But, having been a name, to sink and be
A something which the world can do without,
Which, having been or not, would never change
The lightest pulse of fate,--this is indeed
A cup of bitterness the worst to taste,      200
And this thy heart shall empty to the dregs.
Endless despair shall be thy Caucasus,
And memory thy vulture; thou wilt find
Oblivion far lonelier than this peak.
Behold thy destiny! Thou think'st it much
That I should brave thee, miserable god!
But I have braved a mightier than thou,
Even the sharp tempting of this soaring heart,
Which might have made me, scarcely less than thou,
A god among my brethren weak and blind,      210
Scarce less than thou, a pitiable thing
To be down-trodden into darkness soon.
But now I am above thee, for thou art
The bungling workmanship of fear, the block
That awes the swart Barbarian; but I
Am what myself have made,--a nature wise
With finding in itself the types of all,
With watching from the dim verge of the time
What things to be are visible in the gleams
Thrown forward on them from the luminous past,     220
Wise with the history of its own frail heart,
With reverence and with sorrow, and with love,
Broad as the world, for freedom and for man.

  Thou and all strength shall crumble, except Love,
By whom, and for whose glory, ye shall cease:
And, when thou'rt but a weary moaning heard
From out the pitiless gloom of Chaos, I
Shall be a power and a memory,
A name to fright all tyrants with, a light
Unsetting as the pole-star, a great voice     230
Heard in the breathless pauses of the fight
By truth and freedom ever waged with wrong,
Clear as a silver trumpet, to awake
Far echoes that from age to age live on
In kindred spirits, giving them a sense
Of boundless power from boundless suffering wrung:
And many a glazing eye shall smile to see
The memory of my triumph (for to meet
Wrong with endurance, and to overcome
The present with a heart that looks beyond,     240
Are triumph), like a prophet eagle, perch
Upon the sacred banner of the Right.
Evil springs up, and flowers, and bears no seed,
And feeds the green earth with its swift decay,
Leaving it richer for the growth of truth;
But Good, once put in action or in thought,
Like a strong oak, doth from its boughs shed down
The ripe germs of a forest. Thou, weak god,
Shalt fade and be forgotten! but this soul,
Fresh-living still in the serene abyss,     250
In every heaving shall partake, that grows
From heart to heart among the sons of men,--
As the ominous hum before the earthquake runs
Far through the Ægean from roused isle to isle,--
Foreboding wreck to palaces and shrines,
And mighty rents in many a cavernous error
That darkens the free light to man:--This heart,
Unscarred by thy grim vulture, as the truth
Grows but more lovely 'neath the beaks and claws
Of Harpies blind that fain would soil it, shall     260
In all the throbbing exultations, share
That wait on freedom's triumphs, and in all
The glorious agonies of martyr-spirits,
Sharp lightning-throes to split the jagged clouds
That veil the future, snowing them the end,
Pain's thorny crown for constancy and truth,
Girding the temples like a wreath of stars.
This is a thought, that, like the fabled laurel,
Makes my faith thunder-proof; and thy dread bolts
Fall on me like the silent flakes of snow     270
On the hoar brows of aged Caucasus:
But, oh, thought far more blissful, they can rend
This cloud of flesh, and make my soul a star!

  Unleash thy crouching thunders now, O Jove!
Free this high heart, which, a poor captive long,
Doth knock to be let forth, this heart which still,
In its invincible manhood, overtops
Thy puny godship, as this mountain doth
The pines that moss its roots. Oh, even now,
While from my peak of suffering I look down,     280
Beholding with a far-spread gush of hope
The sunrise of that Beauty, in whose face,
Shone all around with love, no man shall look
But straightway like a god he be uplift
Unto the throne long empty for his sake,
And clearly oft foreshadowed in brave dreams
By his free inward nature, which nor thou,
Nor any anarch after thee, can bind
From working its great doom,--now, now set free
This essence, not to die, but to become     290
Part of that awful Presence which doth haunt
The palaces of tyrants, to scare off,
With its grim eyes and fearful whisperings
And hideous sense of utter loneliness,
All hope of safety, all desire of peace,
All but the loathed forefeeling of blank death,--
Part of that spirit which doth ever brood
In patient calm on the unpilfered nest
Of man's deep heart, till mighty thoughts grow fledged
To sail with darkening shadow o'er the world,     300
Filling with dread such souls as dare not trust
In the unfailing energy of Good,
Until they swoop, and their pale quarry make
Of some o'erbloated wrong,--that spirit which
Scatters great hopes in the seed-field of man,
Like acorns among grain, to grow and be
A roof for freedom in all coming time!

  But no, this cannot be; for ages yet,
In solitude unbroken, shall I hear
The angry Caspian to the Euxine shout,     310
And Euxine answer with a muffled roar,
On either side storming the giant walls
Of Caucasus with leagues of climbing foam
(Less, from my height, than flakes of downy snow),
That draw back baffled but to hurl again,
Snatched up in wrath and horrible turmoil,
Mountain on mountain, as the Titans erst,
My brethren, scaling the high seat of Jove,
Heaved Pelion upon Ossa's shoulders broad
In vain emprise. The moon will come and go     320
With her monotonous vicissitude;
Once beautiful, when I was free to walk
Among my fellows, and to interchange
The influence benign of loving eyes,
But now by aged use grows wearisome;--
False thought! most false! for how could I endure
These crawling centuries of lonely woe
Unshamed by weak complaining, but for thee,
Loneliest, save me, of all created things,
Mild-eyed Astarte, my best comforter,             330
With thy pale smile of sad benignity?

  Year after year will pass away and seem
To me, in mine eternal agony,
But as the shadows of dumb summer clouds,
Which I have watched so often darkening o'er
The vast Sarmatian plain, league-wide at first,
But, with still swiftness, lessening on and on
Till cloud and shadow meet and mingle where
The gray horizon fades into the sky,
Far, far to northward. Yes, for ages yet          340
Must I lie here upon my altar huge,
A sacrifice for man. Sorrow will be,
As it hath been, his portion; endless doom,
While the immortal with the mortal linked
Dreams of its wings and pines for what it dreams,
With upward yearn unceasing. Better so:
For wisdom is stern sorrow's patient child,
And empire over self, and all the deep
Strong charities that make men seem like gods;
And love, that makes them be gods, from her breasts 350
Sucks in the milk that makes mankind one blood.
Good never comes unmixed, or so it seems,
Having two faces, as some images
Are carved, of foolish gods; one face is ill;
But one heart lies beneath, and that is good,
As are all hearts, when we explore their depths.
Therefore, great heart, bear up; thou art but type
Of what all lofty spirits endure, that fain
Would win men back to strength and peace through love:
Each hath his lonely peak, and on each heart       360
Envy, or scorn, or hatred, tears lifelong
With vulture beak; yet the high soul is left;
And faith, which is but hope grown wise, and love
And patience which at last shall overcome.



THE SHEPHERD OF KING ADMETUS

There came a youth upon the earth,
  Some thousand years ago,
Whose slender hands were nothing worth,
Whether to plough, or reap, or sow.

Upon an empty tortoise-shell
  He stretched some chords, and drew
Music that made men's bosoms swell
Fearless, or brimmed their eyes with dew.

Then King Admetus, one who had
  Pure taste by right divine,
Decreed his singing not too bad
To hear between the cups of wine:

And so, well pleased with being soothed
  Into a sweet half-sleep,
Three times his kingly beard he smoothed,
And made him viceroy o'er his sheep.

His words were simple words enough,
  And yet he used them so,
That what in other mouths was rough
In his seemed musical and low.

Men called him but a shiftless youth,
  In whom no good they saw;
And yet, unwittingly, in truth,
They made his careless words their law.

They knew not how he learned at all,
  For idly, hour by hour,
He sat and watched the dead leaves fall,
Or mused upon a common flower.

It seemed the loveliness of things
  Did teach him all their use,
For, in mere weeds, and stones, and springs,
He found a healing power profuse.

Men granted that his speech was wise,
  But, when a glance they caught
Of his slim grace and woman's eyes,
They laughed, and called him good-for-naught.

Yet after he was dead and gone,
  And e'en his memory dim,
Earth seemed more sweet to live upon,
More full of love, because of him.

And day by day more holy grew
  Each spot where he had trod,
Till after-poets only knew
Their first-born brother as a god.



THE TOKEN

It is a mere wild rosebud,
  Quite sallow now, and dry,
Yet there's something wondrous in it,
  Some gleams of days gone by,
Dear sights and sounds that are to me
The very moons of memory,
And stir my heart's blood far below
Its short-lived waves of joy and woe.

Lips must fade and roses wither,
  All sweet times be o'er;
They only smile, and, murmuring 'Thither!'
  Stay with us no more:
And yet ofttimes a look or smile,
Forgotten in a kiss's while,
Years after from the dark will start,
And flash across the trembling heart.

Thou hast given me many roses,
  But never one, like this,
O'erfloods both sense and spirit
  With such a deep, wild bliss;
We must have instincts that glean up
Sparse drops of this life in the cup,
Whose taste shall give us all that we
Can prove of immortality.

Earth's stablest things are shadows,
  And, in the life to come.
Haply some chance-saved trifle
  May tell of this old home:
As now sometimes we seem to find,
In a dark crevice of the mind,
Some relic, which, long pondered o'er,
Hints faintly at a life before.



AN INCIDENT IN A RAILROAD CAR

  He spoke of Burns: men rude and rough
  Pressed round to hear the praise of one
Whose heart was made of manly, simple stuff,
    As homespun as their own.

  And, when he read, they forward leaned,
  Drinking, with thirsty hearts and ears,
His brook-like songs whom glory never weaned
    From humble smiles and tears.

  Slowly there grew a tender awe,
  Sun-like, o'er faces brown and hard,
As if in him who read they felt and saw
    Some presence of the bard.

  It was a sight for sin and wrong
  And slavish tyranny to see,
A sight to make our faith more pure and strong
    In high humanity.

  I thought, these men will carry hence
  Promptings their former life above,
And something of a finer reverence
    For beauty, truth, and love.

  God scatters love on every side
  Freely among his children all,
And always hearts are lying open wide,
    Wherein some grains may fall.

  There is no wind but soweth seeds
  Of a more true and open life,
Which burst, unlooked for, into high-souled deeds,
    With wayside beauty rife.

  We find within these souls of ours
  Some wild germs of a higher birth,
Which in the poet's tropic heart bear flowers
    Whose fragrance fills the earth.

  Within the hearts of all men lie
  These promises of wider bliss,
Which blossom into hopes that cannot die,
    In sunny hours like this.

  All that hath been majestical
  In life or death, since time began,
Is native in the simple heart of all,
    The angel heart of man.

  And thus, among the untaught poor,
  Great deeds and feelings find a home,
That cast in shadow all the golden lore
    Of classic Greece and Rome.

  O mighty brother-soul of man,
  Where'er thou art, in low or high,
Thy skyey arches with exulting span
    O'er-roof infinity!

  All thoughts that mould the age begin
  Deep down within the primitive soul,
And from the many slowly upward win
    To one who grasps the whole:

  In his wide brain the feeling deep
  That struggled on the many's tongue
Swells to a tide of thought, whose surges leap
    O'er the weak thrones of wrong.

  All thought begins in feeling,--wide
  In the great mass its base is hid,
And, narrowing up to thought, stands glorified,
    A moveless pyramid.

  Nor is he far astray, who deems
  That every hope, which rises and grows broad
In the world's heart, by ordered impulse streams
    From the great heart of God.

  God wills, man hopes: in common souls
  Hope is but vague and undefined,
Till from the poet's tongue the message rolls
    A blessing to his kind.

  Never did Poesy appear
  So full of heaven to me, as when
I saw how it would pierce through pride and fear
    To the lives of coarsest men.

  It may be glorious to write
  Thoughts that shall glad the two or three
High souls, like those far stars that come in sight
    Once in a century;--

  But better far it is to speak
  One simple word, which now and then
Shall waken their free nature in the weak
    And friendless sons of men;

  To write some earnest verse or line,
  Which, seeking not the praise of art,
Shall make a clearer faith and manhood shine
    In the untutored heart.

  He who doth this, in verse or prose,
  May be forgotten in his day,
But surely shall be crowned at last with those
    Who live and speak for aye.



RHOECUS

God sends his teachers unto every age,
To every clime, and every race of men,
With revelations fitted to their growth
And shape of mind, nor gives the realm of Truth
Into the selfish rule of one sole race:
Therefore each form of worship that hath swayed
The life of man, and given it to grasp
The master-key of knowledge, reverence,
Infolds some germs of goodness and of right;
Else never had the eager soul, which loathes     10
The slothful down of pampered ignorance,
Found in it even a moment's fitful rest.

  There is an instinct in the human heart
Which makes that all the fables it hath coined,
To justify the reign of its belief
And strengthen it by beauty's right divine,
Veil in their inner cells a mystic gift,
Which, like the hazel twig, in faithful hands,
Points surely to the hidden springs of truth.
For, as in nature naught is made in vain,           20
But all things have within their hull of use
A wisdom and a meaning which may speak
Of spiritual secrets to the ear
Of spirit; so, in whatsoe'er the heart
Hath fashioned for a solace to itself,
To make its inspirations suit its creed,
And from the niggard hands of falsehood wring
Its needful food of truth, there ever is
A sympathy with Nature, which reveals,
Not less than her own works, pure gleams of light   30
And earnest parables of inward lore.
Hear now this fairy legend of old Greece,
As full of gracious youth, and beauty still
As the immortal freshness of that grace
Carved for all ages on some Attic frieze.

  A youth named Rhoecus, wandering in the wood,
Saw an old oak just trembling to its fall,
And, feeling pity of so fair a tree,
He propped its gray trunk with admiring care,
And with a thoughtless footstep loitered on.        40
But, as he turned, he heard a voice behind
That murmured 'Rhoecus!' 'Twas as if the leaves,
Stirred by a passing breath, had murmured it,
And, while he paused bewildered, yet again
It murmured 'Rhoecus!' softer than a breeze.
He started and beheld with dizzy eyes
What seemed the substance of a happy dream
Stand there before him, spreading a warm glow
Within the green glooms of the shadowy oak.
It seemed a woman's shape, yet far too fair         50
To be a woman, and with eyes too meek
For any that were wont to mate with gods.
All naked like a goddess stood she there,
And like a goddess all too beautiful
To feel the guilt-born earthliness of shame.
'Rhoecus, I am the Dryad of this tree,'
Thus she began, dropping her low-toned words
Serene, and full, and clear, as drops of dew,
'And with it I am doomed to live and die;
The rain and sunshine are my caterers,              60
Nor have I other bliss than simple life;
Now ask me what thou wilt, that I can give,
And with a thankful joy it shall be thine.'

  Then Rhoecus, with a flutter at the heart,
Yet by the prompting of such beauty bold,
Answered: 'What is there that can satisfy
The endless craving of the soul but love?
Give me thy love, or but the hope of that
Which must be evermore my nature's goal.'
After a little pause she said again,
But with a glimpse of sadness in her tone,     71
'I give it, Rhoecus, though a perilous gift;
An hour before the sunset meet me here.'
And straightway there was nothing he could see
But the green glooms beneath the shadowy oak,
And not a sound came to his straining ears
But the low trickling rustle of the leaves,
And far away upon an emerald slope
The falter of an idle shepherd's pipe.

  Now, in those days of simpleness and faith, 80
Men did not think that happy things were dreams
Because they overstepped the narrow bourn
Of likelihood, but reverently deemed
Nothing too wondrous or too beautiful
To be the guerdon of a daring heart.
So Rhoecus made no doubt that he was blest,
And all along unto the city's gate
Earth seemed to spring beneath him as he walked,
The clear, broad sky looked bluer than its wont,
And he could scarce believe he had not wings,     90
Such sunshine seemed to glitter through his veins
Instead of blood, so light he felt and strange.

  Young Rhoecus had a faithful heart enough,
But one that in the present dwelt too much,
And, taking with blithe welcome whatsoe'er
Chance gave of joy, was wholly bound in that,
Like the contented peasant of a vale,
Deemed it the world, and never looked beyond.
So, haply meeting in the afternoon
Some comrades who were playing at the dice,     100
He joined them, and forgot all else beside.

  The dice were rattling at the merriest,
And Rhoecus, who had met but sorry luck,
Just laughed in triumph at a happy throw,
When through the room there hummed a yellow bee
That buzzed about his ear with down-dropped legs
As if to light. And Rhoecus laughed and said,
Feeling how red and flushed he was with loss,
'By Venus! does he take me for a rose?'
And brushed him off with rough, impatient hand.     110
But still the bee came back, and thrice again
Rhoecus did beat him off with growing wrath.
Then through the window flew the wounded bee,
And Rhoecus, tracking him with angry eyes,
Saw a sharp mountain-peak of Thessaly
Against the red disk of the setting sun,--
And instantly the blood sank from his heart,
As if its very walls had caved away.
Without a word he turned, and, rushing forth,
Ran madly through the city and the gate,     120
And o'er the plain, which now the wood's long shade,
By the low sun thrown forward broad and dim,
Darkened wellnigh unto the city's wall.

  Quite spent and out of breath he reached the tree,
And, listening fearfully, he heard once more
The low voice murmur 'Rhoecus!' close at hand:
Whereat he looked around him, but could see
Naught but the deepening glooms beneath the oak.
Then sighed the voice, 'O Rhoecus! nevermore
Shalt thou behold me or by day or night,     130
Me, who would fain have blessed thee with a love
More ripe and bounteous than ever yet
Filled up with nectar any mortal heart:
But thou didst scorn my humble messenger,
And sent'st him back to me with bruised wings,
We spirits only show to gentle eyes,
We ever ask an undivided love,
And he who scorns the least of Nature's works
Is thenceforth exiled and shut out from all.
Farewell! for thou canst never see me more.'     140

  Then Rhoecus beat his breast, and groaned aloud,
And cried, 'Be pitiful! forgive me yet
This once, and I shall never need it more!'
'Alas!' the voice returned, 'tis thou art blind,
Not I unmerciful; I can forgive,
But have no skill to heal thy spirit's eyes;
Only the soul hath power o'er itself.'
With that again there murmured 'Nevermore!'
And Rhoecus after heard no other sound,
Except the rattling of the oak's crisp leaves,     150
Like the long surf upon a distant shore,
Raking the sea-worn pebbles up and down.
The night had gathered round him: o'er the plain
The city sparkled with its thousand lights,
And sounds of revel fell upon his ear
Harshly and like a curse; above, the sky,
With all its bright sublimity of stars,
Deepened, and on his forehead smote the breeze:
Beauty was all around him and delight,
But from that eve he was alone on earth.     160



THE FALCON

I know a falcon swift and peerless
  As e'er was cradled In the pine;
No bird had ever eye so fearless,
  Or wing so strong as this of mine.

The winds not better love to pilot
  A cloud with molten gold o'er run,
Than him, a little burning islet,
  A star above the coming sun.

For with a lark's heart he doth tower,
  By a glorious upward instinct drawn;
No bee nestles deeper in the flower
  Than he in the bursting rose of dawn.

No harmless dove, no bird that singeth,
  Shudders to see him overhead;
The rush of his fierce swooping bringeth
  To innocent hearts no thrill of dread.

Let fraud and wrong and baseness shiver,
  For still between them and the sky
The falcon Truth hangs poised forever
  And marks them with his vengeful eye.



TRIAL


I

Whether the idle prisoner through his grate
Watches the waving of the grass-tuft small,
Which, having colonized its rift i' th' wall,
Accepts God's dole of good or evil fate,
And from the sky's just helmet draws its lot
Daily of shower or sunshine, cold or hot;--
Whether the closer captive of a creed,
Cooped up from birth to grind out endless chaff,
Sees through his treadmill-bars the noonday laugh,
And feels in vain, his crumpled pinions breed;--
Whether the Georgian slave look up and mark,
With bellying sails puffed full, the tall cloud-bark
Sink northward slowly,--thou alone seem'st good,
Fair only thou, O Freedom, whose desire
Can light in muddiest souls quick seeds of fire,
And strain life's chords to the old heroic mood.


II

Yet are there other gifts more fair than thine,
Nor can I count him happiest who has never
Been forced with his own hand his chains to sever,
And for himself find out the way divine;
He never knew the aspirer's glorious pains,
He never earned the struggle's priceless gains.
Oh, block by block, with sore and sharp endeavor,
Lifelong we build these human natures up
Into a temple fit for Freedom's shrine,
And, Trial ever consecrates the cup
Wherefrom we pour her sacrificial wine.



A GLANCE BEHIND THE CURTAIN

We see but half the causes of our deeds,
Seeking them wholly in the outer life,
And heedless of the encircling spirit-world,
Which, though unseen, is felt, and sows in us
All germs of pure and world-wide purposes.
From one stage of our being to the next
We pass unconscious o'er a slender bridge,
The momentary work of unseen hands,
Which crumbles down behind us; looking back,
We see the other shore, the gulf between,     10
And, marvelling how we won to where we stand,
Content ourselves to call the builder Chance.
We trace the wisdom to the apple's fall,
Not to the birth-throes of a mighty Truth
Which, for long ages in blank Chaos dumb,
Yet yearned to be incarnate, and had found
At last a spirit meet to be the womb
From which it might be born to bless mankind,--
Not to the soul of Newton, ripe with all
The hoarded thoughtfulness of earnest years,     20
And waiting but one ray of sunlight more
To blossom fully.

      But whence came that ray?
We call our sorrows Destiny, but ought
Rather to name our high successes so.
Only the instincts of great souls are Fate,
And have predestined sway: all other things,
Except by leave of us, could never be.
For Destiny is but the breath of God
Still moving in us, the last fragment left
Of our unfallen nature, waking oft     30
Within our thought, to beckon us beyond
The narrow circle of the seen and known,
And always tending to a noble end,
As all things must that overrule the soul,
And for a space unseat the helmsman, Will.
The fate of England and of freedom once
Seemed wavering in the heart of one plain man:
One step of his, and the great dial-hand,
That marks the destined progress of the world
In the eternal round from wisdom on     40
To higher wisdom, had been made to pause
A hundred years. That step he did not take,--
He knew not why, nor we, but only God,--
And lived to make his simple oaken chair
More terrible and soberly august,
More full of majesty than any throne,
Before or after, of a British king.

  Upon the pier stood two stern-visaged men,
Looking to where a little craft lay moored,
Swayed by the lazy current of the Thames,     50
Which weltered by in muddy listlessness.
Grave men they were, and battlings of fierce thought
Had trampled out all softness from their brows,
And ploughed rough furrows there before their time,
For other crop than such as home-bred Peace
Sows broadcast in the willing soil of Youth.
Care, not of self, but for the common-weal,
Had robbed their eyes of youth, and left instead
A look of patient power and iron will,
And something fiercer, too, that gave broad hint       60
Of the plain weapons girded at their sides.
The younger had an aspect of command,--
Not such as trickles down, a slender stream,
In the shrunk channel of a great descent,
But such as lies entowered in heart and head,
And an arm prompt to do the 'hests of both.
His was a brow where gold were out of place,
And yet it seemed right worthy of a crown
(Though he despised such), were it only made
Of iron, or some serviceable stuff
That would have matched his brownly rugged face       71
The elder, although such he hardly seemed
(Care makes so little of some five short years),
Had a clear, honest face, whose rough-hewn strength
Was mildened by the scholar's wiser heart
To sober courage, such as best befits
The unsullied temper of a well-taught mind,
Yet so remained that one could plainly guess
The hushed volcano smouldering underneath.
He spoke: the other, hearing, kept his gaze           80
Still fixed, as on some problem in the sky.

  'O CROMWELL we are fallen on evil times!
There was a day when England had a wide room
For honest men as well as foolish kings:
But now the uneasy stomach of the time
Turns squeamish at them both. Therefore let us
Seek out that savage clime, where men as yet
Are free: there sleeps the vessel on the tide,
Her languid canvas drooping for the wind;
Give us but that, and what need we to fear            90
This Order of the Council? The free waves
Will not say No to please a wayward king,
Nor will the winds turn traitors at his beck:
All things are fitly cared for, and the Lord
Will watch us kindly o'er the exodus
Of us his servants now, as in old time.
We have no cloud or fire, and haply we
May not pass dry-shod through the ocean-stream;
But, saved or lost, all things are in His hand.'
So spake he, and meantime the other stood            100
With wide gray eyes still reading the blank air.
As if upon the sky's blue wall he saw
Some mystic sentence, written by a hand,
Such as of old made pale the Assyrian king,
Girt with his satraps in the blazing feast.

  'HAMPDEN! a moment since, my purpose was
To fly with thee,--for I will call it flight,
Nor flatter it with any smoother name,--
But something in me bids me not to go;
And I am one, thou knowest, who, unmoved      110
By what the weak deem omens, yet give heed
And reverence due to whatsoe'er my soul
Whispers of warning to the inner ear.
Moreover, as I know that God brings round
His purposes in ways undreamed by us,
And makes the wicked but his instruments
To hasten their own swift and sudden fall,
I see the beauty of his providence
In the King's order: blind, he will not let
His doom part from him, but must bid it stay      120
As 't were a cricket, whose enlivening chirp
He loved to hear beneath his very hearth.
Why should we fly? Nay, why not rather stay
And rear again our Zion's crumbled walls,
Not, as of old the walls of Thebes were built,
By minstrel twanging, but, if need should be,
With the more potent music of our swords?
Think'st thou that score of men beyond the sea
Claim more God's care than all of England here?
No; when He moves his arm, it is to aid      130
Whole peoples, heedless if a few be crushed,
As some are ever, when the destiny
Of man takes one stride onward nearer home.
Believe me, 'tis the mass of men He loves;
And, where there is most sorrow and most want,
Where the high heart of man is trodden down
The most, 'tis not because He hides his face
From them in wrath, as purblind teachers prate:
Not so: there most is He, for there is He
Most needed. Men who seek for Fate abroad      140
Are not so near his heart as they who dare
Frankly to face her where she faces them,
On their own threshold, where their souls are strong
To grapple with and throw her; as I once,
Being yet a boy, did cast this puny king,
Who now has grown so dotard as to deem
That he can wrestle with an angry realm,
And throw the brawned Antæus of men's rights.
No, Hampden! they have half-way conquered Fate
Who go half-way to meet her,--as will I.     150
Freedom hath yet a work for me to do;
So speaks that inward voice which never yet
Spake falsely, when it urged the spirit on
To noble emprise for country and mankind.
And, for success, I ask no more than this,--
To bear unflinching witness to the truth.
All true whole men succeed; for what is worth
Success's name, unless it be the thought,
The inward surety, to have carried out
A noble purpose to a noble end,      160
Although it be the gallows or the block?
'Tis only Falsehood that doth ever need
These outward shows of gain to bolster her.
Be it we prove the weaker with our swords;
Truth only needs to be for once spoke out,
And there's such music in her, such strange rhythm,
As makes men's memories her joyous slaves,
And clings around the soul, as the sky clings
Round the mute earth, forever beautiful,
And, if o'erclouded, only to burst forth      170
More all-embracingly divine and clear:
Get but the truth once uttered, and 'tis like
A star new-born, that drops into its place,
And which, once circling in its placid round,
Not all the tumult of the earth can shake.

  'What should we do in that small colony
Of pinched fanatics, who would rather choose
Freedom to clip an inch more from their hair,
Than the great chance of setting England free?
Not there, amid the stormy wilderness,      180
Should we learn wisdom; or if learned, what room
To put it into act,--else worse than naught?
We learn our souls more, tossing for an hour
Upon this huge and ever-vexed sea
Of human thought, where kingdoms go to wreck
Like fragile bubbles yonder in the stream,
Than in a cycle of New England sloth,
Broke only by a petty Indian war,
Or quarrel for a letter more or less
In some hard word, which, spelt in either way,      190
Not their most learned clerks can understand.
New times demand new measures and new men;
The world advances, and in time outgrows
The laws that in our fathers' day were best;
And, doubtless, after us, some purer scheme
Will be shaped out by wiser men than we,
Made wiser by the steady growth of truth.
We cannot hale Utopia on by force;
But better, almost, be at work in sin,
Than in a brute inaction browse and sleep.     200
No man is born into the world whose work
Is not born with him; there is always work,
And tools to work withal, for those who will;
And blessed are the horny hands of toil!
The busy world stoves angrily aside
The man who stands with arms akimbo set,
Until occasion tells him what to do;
And he who waits to have his task marked out
Shall die and leave his errand unfulfilled.
Our time is one that calls for earnest deeds;      210
Season and Government, like two broad seas,
Yearn for each other with outstretched arms
Across this narrow isthmus of the throne,
And roll their white surf higher every day.
One age moves onward, and the next builds up
Cities and gorgeous palaces, where stood
The rude log-huts of those who tamed the wild,
Rearing from out the forests they had felled
The goodly framework of a fairer state;
The builder's trowel and the settler's axe      220
Are seldom wielded by the selfsame hand;
Ours is the harder task, yet not the less
Shall we receive the blessing for our toil
From the choice spirits of the aftertime.
My soul is not a palace of the past,
Where outworn creeds, like Rome's gray senate, quake,
Hearing afar the Vandal's trumpet hoarse,
That shakes old systems with a thunder-fit.
That time is ripe, and rotten-ripe, for change;
Then let it come: I have no dread of what      230
Is called for by the instinct of mankind;
Nor think I that God's world will fall apart
Because we tear a parchment more or less.
Truth Is eternal, but her effluence,
With endless change, is fitted to the hour;
Her mirror is turned forward to reflect
The promise of the future, not the past.
He who would win the name of truly great
Must understand his own age and the next,
And make the present ready to fulfil      240
Its prophecy, and with the future merge
Gently and peacefully, as wave with wave.
The future works out great men's purposes;
The present is enough, for common souls,
Who, never looking forward, are indeed
Mere clay, wherein the footprints of their age
Are petrified forever; better those
Who lead the blind old giant by the hand
From out the pathless desert where he gropes,
And set him onward in his darksome way,      250
I do not fear to follow out the truth,
Albeit along the precipice's edge.
Let us speak plain: there is more force in names
Than most men dream of; and a lie may keep
Its throne a whole age longer, if it skulk
Behind the shield of some fair-seeming name.
Let us call tyrants _tyrants_, and maintain
That only freedom comes by grace of God,
And all that comes not by his grace must fail;
For men in earnest have no time to waste     260
In patching fig-leaves for the naked truth.

  'I will have one more grapple with the man
Charles Stuart: whom the boy o'ercame,
The man stands not in awe of. I, perchance,
Am one raised up by the Almighty arm
To witness some great truth to all the world.
Souls destined to o'erleap the vulgar lot,
And mould the world unto the scheme of God,
Have a fore-consciousness of their high doom,
As men are known to shiver at the heart     270
When the cold shadow of some coming ill
Creeps slowly o'er their spirits unawares.
Hath Good less power of prophecy than Ill?
How else could men whom God hath called to sway
Earth's rudder, and to steer the bark of Truth,
Beating against the tempest tow'rd her port,
Bear all the mean and buzzing grievances,
The petty martyrdoms, wherewith Sin strives
To weary out the tethered hope of Faith?
The sneers, the unrecognizing look of friends,     280
Who worship the dead corpse of old king Custom,
Where it doth lie In state within the Church,
Striving to cover up the mighty ocean
With a man's palm, and making even the truth
Lie for them, holding up the glass reversed,
To make the hope of man seem farther off?
My God! when I read o'er the bitter lives
Of men whose eager heart's were quite too great
To beat beneath the cramped mode of the day,
And see them mocked at by the world they love,     290
Haggling with prejudice for pennyworths
Of that reform which their hard toil will make
The common birthright of the age to come,--
When I see this, spite of my faith in God,
I marvel how their hearts bear up so long;
Nor could they but for this same prophecy,
This inward feeling of the glorious end.

  'Deem me not fond; but in my warmer youth,
Ere my heart's bloom was soiled and brushed away,
I had great dreams of mighty things to come;      300
Of conquest, whether by the sword or pen
I knew not; but some Conquest I would have,
Or else swift death: now wiser grown in years,
I find youth's dreams are but the flutterings
Of those strong wings whereon the soul shall soar
In after time to win a starry throne;
And so I cherish them, for they were lots,
Which I, a boy, cast in the helm of Fate.
Now will I draw them, since a man's right hand,
A right hand guided by an earnest soul,        310
With a true instinct, takes the golden prize
From out a thousand blanks. What men call luck
Is the prerogative of valiant souls,
The fealty life pays its rightful kings.
The helm is shaking now, and I will stay
To pluck my lot forth; it were sin to flee!'

  So they two turned together; one to die,
Fighting for freedom on the bloody field;
The other, far more happy, to become
A name earth wears forever next her heart;      320
One of the few that have a right to rank
With the true Makers: for his spirit wrought
Order from Chaos; proved that right divine
Dwelt only in the excellence of truth;
And far within old Darkness' hostile lines
Advanced and pitched the shining tents of Light.
Nor shall the grateful Muse forget to tell,
That--not the least among his many claims
To deathless honor--he was MILTON'S friend,
A man not second among those who lived         330
To show us that the poet's lyre demands
An arm of tougher sinew than the sword.



A CHIPPEWA LEGEND

[Greek: algeina men moi kaalegein estin tade, algos de sigan.]
AESCHYLUS, _Prom. Vinct._ 197, 198.

For the leading incidents in this tale I am indebted to the very
valuable _Algic Researches_ of Henry R. Schoolcraft, Esq. J.R.L.

The old Chief, feeling now wellnigh his end,
Called his two eldest children to his side,
And gave them, in few words, his parting charge!
'My son and daughter, me ye see no more;
The happy hunting-grounds await me, green
With change of spring and summer through the year:
But, for remembrance, after I am gone,
Be kind to little Sheemah for my sake:
Weakling he is and young, and knows not yet
To set the trap, or draw the seasoned bow;     10
Therefore of both your loves he hath more need,
And he, who needeth love, to love hath right;
It is not like our furs and stores of corn,
Whereto we claim sole title by our toil,
But the Great Spirit plants it in our hearts,
And waters it, and gives it sun, to be
The common stock and heritage of all:
Therefore be kind to Sheemah, that yourselves
May not be left deserted in your need.'

  Alone, beside a lake, their wigwam stood,     20
Far from the other dwellings of their tribe:
And, after many moons, the loneliness
Wearied the elder brother, and he said,
'Why should I dwell here far from men, shut out
From the free, natural joys that fit my age?
Lo, I am tall and strong, well skilled to hunt,
Patient of toil and hunger, and not yet
Have seen the danger which I dared not look
Full in the face; what hinders me to be
A mighty Brave and Chief among my kin?'         30
So, taking up his arrows and his bow,
As if to hunt, he journeyed swiftly on,
Until he gained the wigwams of his tribe,
Where, choosing out a bride, he soon forgot,
In all the fret and bustle of new life,
The little Sheemah and his father's charge.

  Now when the sister found her brother gone,
And that, for many days, he came not back,
She wept for Sheemah more than for herself;
For Love bides longest in a woman's heart,       40
And flutters many times before he flies,
And then doth perch so nearly, that a word
May lure him back to his accustomed nest;
And Duty lingers even when Love is gone,
Oft looking out in hope of his return;
And, after Duty hath been driven forth,
Then Selfishness creeps in the last of all,
Warming her lean hands at the lonely hearth,
And crouching o'er the embers, to shut out
Whatever paltry warmth and light are left,      50
With avaricious greed, from all beside.
So, for long months, the sister hunted wide,
And cared for little Sheemah tenderly;
But, daily more and more, the loneliness
Grew wearisome, and to herself she sighed,
'Am I not fair? at least the glassy pool,
That hath no cause to flatter, tells me so;
But, oh, how flat and meaningless the tale,
Unless it tremble on a lover's tongue!
Beauty hath no true glass, except it be        60
In the sweet privacy of loving eyes.'
Thus deemed she idly, and forgot the lore
Which she had learned of nature and the woods,
That beauty's chief reward is to itself,
And that Love's mirror holds no image long
Save of the inward fairness, blurred and lost
Unless kept clear and white by Duty's care.
So she went forth and sought the haunts of men,
And, being wedded, in her household cares,
Soon, like the elder brother, quite forgot     70
The little Sheemah and her father's charge.

  But Sheemah, left alone within the lodge,
Waited and waited, with a shrinking heart,
Thinking each rustle was his sister's step,
Till hope grew less and less, and then went out,
And every sound was changed from hope to fear.
Few sounds there were:--the dropping of a nut,
The squirrel's chirrup, and the jay's harsh scream,
Autumn's sad remnants of blithe Summer's cheer,
Heard at long intervals, seemed but to make     80
The dreadful void of silence silenter.
Soon what small store his sister left was gone,
And, through the Autumn, he made shift to live
On roots and berries, gathered in much fear
Of wolves, whose ghastly howl he heard ofttimes,
Hollow and hungry, at the dead of night.
But Winter came at last, and, when the snow,
Thick-heaped for gleaming leagues o'er hill and plain,
Spread its unbroken silence over all,
Made bold by hunger, he was fain to glean     90
(More sick at heart than Ruth, and all alone)
After the harvest of the merciless wolf,
Grim Boaz, who, sharp-ribbed and gaunt, yet feared
A thing more wild and starving than himself;
Till, by degrees, the wolf and he grew friends,
And shared together all the winter through.

  Late in the Spring, when all the ice was gone,
The elder brother, fishing in the lake,
Upon whose edge his father's wigwam stood,
Heard a low moaning noise upon the shore:     100
Half like a child it seemed, half like a wolf,
And straightway there was something in his heart
That said, 'It is thy brother Sheemah's voice.'
So, paddling swiftly to the bank, he saw,
Within a little thicket close at hand,
A child that seemed fast clinging to a wolf,
From the neck downward, gray with shaggy hair,
That still crept on and upward as he looked.
The face was turned away, but well he knew
That it was Sheemah's, even his brother's face.     110
Then with his trembling hands he hid his eyes,
And bowed his head, so that he might not see
The first look of his brother's eyes, and cried,
'O Sheemah! O my brother, speak to me!
Dost thou not know me, that I am thy brother?
Come to me, little Sheemah, thou shall dwell
With me henceforth, and know no care or want!'
Sheemah was silent for a space, as if
'T were hard to summon up a human voice,
And, when he spake, the voice was as a wolf's:     120
'I know thee not, nor art thou what thou say'st;
I have none other brethren than the wolves,
And, till thy heart be changed from what it is,
Thou art not worthy to be called their kin.'
Then groaned the other, with a choking tongue,
'Alas! my heart is changed right bitterly;
'Tis shrunk and parched within me even now!'
And, looking upward fearfully, he saw
Only a wolf that shrank away, and ran,
Ugly and fierce, to hide among the woods.      130



STANZAS ON FREEDOM

Men! whose boast it is that ye
Come of fathers brave and free,
If there breathe on earth a slave,
Are ye truly free and brave?
If ye do not feel the chain,
When it works a brother's pain,
Are ye not base slaves indeed,
Slaves unworthy to be freed?

Women! who shall one day bear
Sons to breathe New England air,
If ye hear, without a blush,
Deeds to make the roused blood rush
Like red lava through your veins,
For your sisters now in chains,--
Answer! are ye fit to be
Mothers of the brave and free?

Is true Freedom but to break
Fetters for our own dear sake,
And, with leathern hearts, forget
That we owe mankind a debt?
No! true freedom is to share
All the chains our brothers wear
And, with heart and hand, to be
Earnest to make others free!

They are slaves who fear to speak
For the fallen and the weak;
They are slaves who will not choose
Hatred, scoffing, and abuse,
Rather than in silence shrink
From the truth they needs must think;
They are slaves who dare not be
In the right with two or three.



COLUMBUS

The cordage creaks and rattles in the wind,
With whims of sudden hush; the reeling sea
Now thumps like solid rock beneath the stern,
Now leaps with clumsy wrath, strikes short, and, falling
Crumbled to whispery foam, slips rustling down
The broad backs of the waves, which jostle and crowd
To fling themselves upon that unknown shore.
Their used familiar since the dawn of time,
Whither this foredoomed life is guided on
To sway on triumph's hushed, aspiring poise      10
One glittering moment, then to break fulfilled.

How lonely is the sea's perpetual swing,
The melancholy wash of endless waves,
The sigh of some grim monster undescried,
Fear-painted on the canvas of the dark,
Shifting on his uneasy pillow of brine!
Yet, night brings more companions than the day
To this drear waste; new constellations burn,
And fairer stars, with whose calm height my soul
Finds nearer sympathy than with my herd      20
Of earthen souls, whose vision's scanty ring
Makes me its prisoner to beat my wings
Against the cold bars of their unbelief,
Knowing in vain my own free heaven beyond.
O God! this world, so crammed with eager life,
That comes and goes and wanders back to silence
Like the idle wind, which yet man's shaping mind
Can make his drudge to swell the longing sails
Of highest endeavor,--this mad, unthrift world,
Which, every hour, throws life enough away      30
To make her deserts kind and hospitable,
Lets her great destinies be waved aside
By smooth, lip-reverent, formal infidels,
Who weigh the God they not believe with gold,
And find no spot in Judas, save that he,
Driving a duller bargain than he ought,
Saddled his guild with too cheap precedent.
O Faith! if thou art strong, thine opposite
Is mighty also, and the dull fool's sneer
Hath ofttimes shot chill palsy through the arm      40
Just lifted to achieve its crowning deed,
And made the firm-based heart, that would have quailed
The rack or fagot, shudder like a leaf
Wrinkled with frost, and loose upon its stem,
The wicked and the weak, by some dark law,
Have a strange power to shut and rivet down
Their own horizon round us, to unwing
Our heaven-aspiring visions, and to blur
With surly clouds the Future's gleaming peaks,
Far seen across the brine of thankless years.      50
If the chosen soul could never be alone
In deep mid-silence, open-doored to God,
No greatness ever had been dreamed or done;
Among dull hearts a prophet never grew;
The nurse of full-grown souls is solitude.

The old world is effete; there man with man
Jostles, and, in the brawl for means to live,
Life is trod underfoot,--Life, the one block
Of marble that's vouchsafed wherefrom to carve
Our great thoughts, white and godlike, to shine down      60
The future, Life, the irredeemable block,
Which one o'er-hasty chisel-dint oft mars,
Scanting our room to cut the features out
Of our full hope, so forcing us to crown
With a mean head the perfect limbs, or leave
The god's face glowing o'er a satyr's trunk,
Failure's brief epitaph.

                        Yes, Europe's world
Reels on to judgment; there the common need,
Losing God's sacred use, to be a bond
'Twixt Me and Thee, sets each one scowlingly      70
O'er his own selfish hoard at bay; no state,
Knit strongly with eternal fibres up
Of all men's separate and united weals,
Self-poised and sole as stars, yet one as light,
Holds up a shape of large Humanity
To which by natural instinct every man
Pays loyalty exulting, by which all
Mould their own lives, and feel their pulses filled
With the red, fiery blood of the general life,
Making them mighty in peace, as now in war      80
They are, even in the flush of victory, weak,
Conquering that manhood which should them subdue.
And what gift bring I to this untried world?
Shall the same tragedy be played anew,
And the same lurid curtain drop at last
On one dread desolation, one fierce crash
Of that recoil which on its makers God
Lets Ignorance and Sin and Hunger make,
Early or late? Or shall that commonwealth
Whose potent unity and concentric force      90
Can draw these scattered joints and parts of men
Into a whole ideal man once more,
Which sucks not from its limbs the life away,
But sends it flood-tide and creates itself
Over again in every citizen,
Be there built up? For me, I have no choice;
I might turn back to other destinies,
For one sincere key opes all Fortune's doors;
But whoso answers not God's earliest call
Forfeits or dulls that faculty supreme     100
Of lying open to his genius
Which makes the wise heart certain of its ends.

Here am I; for what end God knows, not I;
Westward still points the inexorable soul:
Here am I, with no friend but the sad sea,
The beating heart of this great enterprise,
Which, without me, would stiffen in swift death;
This have I mused on, since mine eye could first
Among the stars distinguish and with joy
Rest on that God-fed Pharos of the north,      110
On some blue promontory of heaven lighted
That juts far out into the upper sea;
To this one hope my heart hath clung for years,
As would a foundling to the talisman
Hung round his neck by hands he knew not whose;
A poor, vile thing and dross to all beside,
Yet he therein can feel a virtue left
By the sad pressure of a mother's hand,
And unto him it still is tremulous
With palpitating haste and wet with tears,      120
The key to him of hope and humanness,
The coarse shell of life's pearl, Expectancy.
This hope hath been to me for love and fame,
Hath made me wholly lonely on the earth,
Building me up as in a thick-ribbed tower,
Wherewith enwalled my watching spirit burned,
Conquering its little island from the Dark,
Sole as a scholar's lamp, and heard men's steps,
In the far hurry of the outward world,
Pass dimly forth and back, sounds heard in dream,      130
As Ganymede by the eagle was snatched up
From the gross sod to be Jove's cup-bearer,
So was I lifted by my great design:
And who hath trod Olympus, from his eye
Fades not that broader outlook of the gods;
His life's low valleys overbrow earth's clouds,
And that Olympian spectre of the past
Looms towering up in sovereign memory,
Beckoning his soul from meaner heights of doom.
Had but the shadow of the Thunderer's bird,      140
Flashing athwart my spirit, made of me
A swift-betraying vision's Ganymede,
Yet to have greatly dreamed precludes low ends;
Great days have ever such a morning-red,
On such a base great futures are built up,
And aspiration, though not put in act,
Comes back to ask its plighted troth again,
Still watches round its grave the unlaid ghost
Of a dead virtue, and makes other hopes,
Save that implacable one, seem thin and bleak      150
As shadows of bare trees upon the snow,
Bound freezing there by the unpitying moon.

While other youths perplexed their mandolins,
Praying that Thetis would her fingers twine
In the loose glories of her lover's hair,
And wile another kiss to keep back day,
I, stretched beneath the many-centuried shade
Of some writhed oak, the wood's Laocoön,
Did of my hope a dryad mistress make,
Whom I would woo to meet me privily,      160
Or underneath the stars, or when the moon
Flecked all the forest floor with scattered pearls.
O days whose memory tames to fawning down
The surly fell of Ocean's bristled neck!

I know not when this hope enthralled me first,
But from my boyhood up I loved to hear
The tall pine-forests of the Apennine
Murmur their hoary legends of the sea,
Which hearing, I in vision clear beheld
The sudden dark of tropic night shut down      170
O'er the huge whisper of great watery wastes,
The while a pair of herons trailingly
Flapped inland, where some league-wide river hurled
The yellow spoil of unconjectured realms
Far through a gulf's green silence, never scarred,
By any but the Northwind's hurrying keels.
And not the pines alone; all sights and sounds
To my world-seeking heart paid fealty,
And catered for it as the Cretan bees
Brought honey to the baby Jupiter,
Who in his soft hand crushed a violet,     181
Godlike foremusing the rough thunder's gripe;
Then did I entertain the poet's song,
My great Idea's guest, and, passing o'er
That iron bridge the Tuscan built to hell,
I heard Ulysses tell of mountain-chains
Whose adamantine links, his manacles,
The western main shook growling, and still gnawed.
I brooded on the wise Athenian's tale.
Of happy Atlantis, and heard Björne's keel      190
Crunch the gray pebbles of the Vinland shore:
I listened, musing, to the prophecy
Of Nero's tutor-victim; lo, the birds
Sing darkling, conscious of the climbing dawn.
And I believed the poets; it is they
Who utter wisdom from the central deep,
And, listening to the inner flow of things,
Speak to the age out of eternity.

Ah me! old hermits sought for solitude
In caves and desert places of the earth,      200
Where their own heart-beat was the only stir
Of living thing that comforted the year;
But the bald pillar-top of Simeon,
In midnight's blankest waste, were populous,
Matched with the isolation drear and deep
Of him who pines among the swarm of men,
At once a new thought's king and prisoner,
Feeling the truer life within his life,
The fountain of his spirit's prophecy,
Sinking away and wasting, drop by drop,      210
In the ungrateful sands of sceptic ears.
He in the palace-aisles of untrod woods
Doth walk a king; for him the pent-up cell
Widens beyond the circles of the stars,
And all the sceptred spirits of the past
Come thronging in to greet him as their peer;
But in the market-place's glare and throng
He sits apart, an exile, and his brow
Aches with the mocking memory of its crown.

Yet to the spirit select there is no choice;      220
He cannot say, This will I do, or that,
For the cheap means putting Heaven's ends in pawn,
And bartering his bleak rocks, the freehold stern
Of destiny's first-born, for smoother fields
That yield no crop of self-denying will;
A hand is stretched to him from out the dark,
Which grasping without question, he is led
Where there is work that he must do for God.
The trial still is the strength's complement,
And the uncertain, dizzy path that scales      230
The sheer heights of supremest purposes
Is steeper to the angel than the child.
Chances have laws as fixed as planets have,
And disappointment's dry and bitter root,
Envy's harsh berries, and the choking pool
Of the world's scorn, are the right mother-milk
To the tough hearts that pioneer their kind,
And break a pathway to those unknown realms
That in the earth's broad shadow lie enthralled;      239
Endurance is the crowning quality,
And patience all the passion of great hearts;
These are their stay, and when the leaden world
Sets its hard face against their fateful thought,
And brute strength, like the Gaulish conqueror,
Clangs his huge glaive down in the other scale,
The inspired soul but flings his patience in,
And slowly that outweighs the ponderous globe,--
One faith against a whole earth's unbelief,
One soul against the flesh of all mankind.

Thus ever seems it when my soul can hear      250
The voice that errs not; then my triumph gleams,
O'er the blank ocean beckoning, and all night
My heart flies on before me as I sail;
Far on I see my lifelong enterprise.
That rose like Ganges mid the freezing snows
Of a world's solitude, sweep broadening down,
And, gathering to itself a thousand streams,
Grow sacred ere it mingle with the sea;
I see the ungated wall of chaos old,
With blocks Cyclopean hewn of solid night,      260
Fade like a wreath of unreturning mist
Before the irreversible feet of light;--
And lo, with what clear omen in the east
On day's gray threshold stands the eager dawn,
Like young Leander rosy from the sea
Glowing at Hero's lattice!

                                     One day more
These muttering shoalbrains leave the helm to me:
God, let me not in their dull ooze be stranded:
Let not this one frail bark, to hollow which
I have dug out the pith and sinewy heart      270
Of my aspiring life's fair trunk, be so
Cast up to warp and blacken in the sun,
Just as the opposing wind 'gins whistle off
His cheek-swollen pack, and from the leaning mast
Fortune's full sail strains forward!

                        One poor day!--
Remember whose and not how short it is!
It is God's day, it is Columbus's.
A lavish day! One day, with life and heart,
Is more than time enough to find a world.



AN INCIDENT OF THE FIRE AT HAMBURG

The tower of old Saint Nicholas soared upward to the skies,
Like some huge piece of Nature's make, the growth of centuries;
You could not deem its crowding spires a work of human art,
They seemed to struggle lightward from a sturdy living heart.

Not Nature's self more freely speaks in crystal or in oak,
Than, through the pious builder's hand, in that gray pile she spoke;
And as from acorn springs the oak, so, freely and alone,
Sprang from his heart this hymn to God, sung in obedient stone.

It seemed a wondrous freak of chance, so perfect, yet so rough,
A whim of Nature crystallized slowly in granite tough;
The thick spires yearned towards the sky in quaint harmonious lines,
And in broad sunlight basked and slept, like a grove of blasted pines.

Never did rock or stream or tree lay claim with better right
To all the adorning sympathies of shadow and of light;
And, in that forest petrified, as forester there dwells
Stout Herman, the old sacristan, sole lord of all its bells.

Surge leaping after surge, the fire roared onward red as blood,
Till half of Hamburg lay engulfed beneath the eddying flood;
For miles away the fiery spray poured down its deadly rain,
And back and forth the billows sucked, and paused, and burst again.

From square to square with tiger leaps panted the lustful fire,
The air to leeward shuddered with the gasps of its desire;
And church and palace, which even now stood whelmed but to the knee.
Lift their black roofs like breakers lone amid the whirling sea.

Up in his tower old Herman sat and watched with quiet look;
His soul had trusted God too long to be at last forsook;
He could not fear, for surely God a pathway would unfold
Through this red sea for faithful hearts, as once He did of old.

But scarcely can he cross himself, or on his good saint call,
Before the sacrilegious flood o'erleaped the churchyard wall;
And, ere a _pater_ half was said, mid smoke and crackling glare,
His island tower scarce juts its head above the wide despair.

Upon the peril's desperate peak his heart stood up sublime;
His first thought was for God above, his next was for his chime;
'Sing now and make your voices heard in hymns of praise,' cried he,
'As did the Israelites of old, safe walking through the sea!

'Through this red sea our God hath made the pathway safe to shore;
Our promised land stands full in sight; shout now as ne'er before!
And as the tower came crashing down, the bells, in clear accord,
Pealed forth the grand old German hymn,--'All good souls, praise the
     Lord!'



THE SOWER

I saw a Sower walking slow
  Across the earth, from east to west;
His hair was white as mountain snow,
  His head drooped forward on his breast.

With shrivelled hands he flung his seed,
  Nor ever turned to look behind;
Of sight or sound he took no heed;
  It seemed, he was both deaf and blind.

His dim face showed no soul beneath,
  Yet in my heart I felt a stir,
As if I looked upon the sheath,
  That once had held Excalibur.

I heard, as still the seed he cast,
  How, crooning to himself, he sung.
'I sow again the holy Past,
  The happy days when I was young.

'Then all was wheat without a tare,
  Then all was righteous, fair, and true;
And I am he whose thoughtful care
  Shall plant the Old World in the New.

'The fruitful germs I scatter free,
  With busy hand, while all men sleep;
In Europe now, from sea to sea,
  The nations bless me as they reap.'

Then I looked back along his path.
  And heard the clash of steel on steel,
Where man faced man, in deadly wrath,
  While clanged the tocsin's hurrying peal.

The sky with burning towns flared red,
  Nearer the noise of fighting rolled.
And brothers' blood, by brothers shed,
  Crept curdling over pavements cold.

Then marked I how each germ of truth
  Which through the dotard's fingers ran
Was mated with a dragon's tooth
  Whence there sprang up an armèd man.

I shouted, but he could not hear;
  Made signs, but these he could not see;
And still, without a doubt or fear,
  Broadcast he scattered anarchy.

Long to my straining ears the blast
  Brought faintly back the words he sung:
'I sow again the holy Past,
  The happy days when I was young.'



HUNGER AND COLD

Sisters two, all praise to you,
With your faces pinched and blue;
To the poor man you've been true
    From of old:
You can speak the keenest word,
You are sure of being heard,
From the point you're never stirred,
    Hunger and Cold!

Let sleek statesmen temporize;
Palsied are their shifts and lies
When they meet your bloodshot eyes,
    Grim and bold;
Policy you set at naught,
In their traps you'll not be caught,
You're too honest to be bought,
    Hunger and Cold!

Bolt and bar the palace door;
While the mass of men are poor,
Naked truth grows more and more
    Uncontrolled;
You had never yet, I guess,
Any praise for bashfulness,
You can visit sans court-dress,
    Hunger and Cold!

While the music fell and rose,
And the dance reeled to its close,
Where her round of costly woes
    Fashion strolled,
I beheld with shuddering fear
Wolves' eyes through the windows peer;
Little dream they you are near,
    Hunger and Cold!

When the toiler's heart you clutch,
Conscience is not valued much,
He recks not a bloody smutch
    On his gold:
Everything to you defers,
You are potent reasoners,
At your whisper Treason stirs,
    Hunger and Cold!

Rude comparisons you draw,
Words refuse to sate your maw,
Your gaunt limbs the cobweb law
    Cannot hold:
You're not clogged with foolish pride,
But can seize a right denied:
Somehow God is on your side,
    Hunger and Cold!

You respect no hoary wrong
More for having triumphed long;
Its past victims, haggard throng,
    From the mould
You unbury: swords and spears
Weaker are than poor men's tears,
Weaker than your silent years,
    Hunger and Cold!

Let them guard both hall and bower;
Through the window you will glower,
Patient till your reckoning hour
    Shall be tolled;
Cheeks are pale, but hands are red,
Guiltless blood may chance be shed,
But ye must and will be fed,
    Hunger and Cold!

God has plans man must not spoil,
Some were made to starve and toil,
Some to share the wine and oil,
    We are told:
Devil's theories are these,
Stifling hope and love and peace,
Framed your hideous lusts to please,
    Hunger and Cold!

Scatter ashes on thy head,
Tears of burning sorrow shed,
Earth! and be by Pity led
    To Love's fold;
Ere they block the very door
With lean corpses of the poor,
And will hush for naught but gore,
    Hunger and Cold!



THE LANDLORD

What boot your houses and your lands?
  In spite of close-drawn deed and fence,
Like water, twixt your cheated hands,
They slip into the graveyard's sands,
  And mock your ownership's pretence.

How shall you speak to urge your right,
  Choked with that soil for which you lust?
The bit of clay, for whose delight
You grasp, is mortgaged, too; Death might
  Foreclose this very day in dust.

Fence as you please, this plain poor man,
  Whose only fields are in his wit,
Who shapes the world, as best he can,
According to God's higher plan,
  Owns you, and fences as is fit.

Though yours the rents, his incomes wax
  By right of eminent domain;
From factory tall to woodman's axe,
All things on earth must pay their tax,
  To feed his hungry heart and brain.

He takes you from your easy-chair,
  And what he plans that you must do;
You sleep in down, eat dainty fare,--
He mounts his crazy garret-stair
  And starves, the landlord over you.

Feeding the clods your idlesse drains,
  You make more green six feet of soil;
His fruitful word, like suns and rains,
Partakes the seasons' bounteous pains,
  And toils to lighten human toil.

Your lands, with force or cunning got,
  Shrink to the measure of the grave;
But Death himself abridges not
The tenures of almighty thought,
  The titles of the wise and brave.



TO A PINE-TREE

Far up on Katahdin thou towerest,
  Purple-blue with the distance and vast;
Like a cloud o'er the lowlands thou lowerest,
  That hangs poised on a lull in the blast,
    To its fall leaning awful.

In the storm, like a prophet o'er-maddened,
  Thou singest and tossest thy branches;
Thy heart with the terror is gladdened,
  Thou forebodest the dread avalanches,
    When whole mountains swoop valeward.

In the calm thou o'erstretchest the valleys
  With thine arms, as if blessings imploring,
Like an old king led forth from his palace,
  When his people to battle are pouring
    From the city beneath him.

To the lumberer asleep 'neath thy glooming
  Thou dost sing of wild billows in motion,
Till he longs to be swung mid their booming
  In the tents of the Arabs of ocean,
    Whose finned isles are their cattle.

For the gale snatches thee for his lyre,
  With mad hand crashing melody frantic,
While he pours forth his mighty desire
  To leap down on the eager Atlantic,
    Whose arms stretch to his playmate.

The wild storm makes his lair in thy branches,
  Swooping thence on the continent under;
Like a lion, crouched close on his haunches,
  There awaiteth his leap the fierce thunder,
    Growling low with impatience.

Spite of winter, thou keep'st thy green glory,
  Lusty father of Titans past number!
The snow-flakes alone make thee hoary,
  Nestling close to thy branches in slumber,
    And thee mantling with silence.

Thou alone know'st the splendor of winter,
  Mid thy snow-silvered, hushed precipices,
Hearing crags of green ice groan and splinter,
  And then plunge down the muffled abysses
    In the quiet of midnight.

Thou alone know'st the glory of summer
  Gazing down on thy broad seas of forest,
On thy subjects that send a proud murmur
  Up to thee, to their sachem, who towerest
    From thy bleak throne to heaven.



SI DESCENDERO IN INFERNUM, ADES

O wandering dim on the extremest edge
  Of God's bright providence, whose spirits sigh
Drearily in you, like the winter sedge
  That shivers o'er the dead pool stiff and dry,
  A thin, sad voice, when the bold wind roars by
    From the clear North of Duty,--
Still by cracked arch and broken shaft I trace
That here was once a shrine and holy place
    Of the supernal Beauty,
  A child's play-altar reared of stones and moss,
  With wilted flowers for offering laid across,
Mute recognition of the all-ruling Grace.

How far are ye from the innocent, from those
  Whose hearts are as a little lane serene,
Smooth-heaped from wall to wall with unbroke snows,
  Or in the summer blithe with lamb-cropped green,
  Save the one track, where naught more rude is seen
    Than the plump wain at even
Bringing home four months' sunshine bound in sheaves!
How far are ye from those! yet who believes
    That ye can shut out heaven?
  Your souls partake its influence, not in vain
  Nor all unconscious, as that silent lane
Its drift of noiseless apple-blooms receives.

Looking within myself, I note how thin
  A plank of station, chance, or prosperous fate,
Doth fence me from the clutching waves of sin;
  In my own heart I find the worst man's mate,
  And see not dimly the smooth-hingèd gate
    That opes to those abysses
Where ye grope darkly,--ye who never knew
On your young hearts love's consecrating dew,
    Or felt a mother's kisses,
  Or home's restraining tendrils round you curled;
  Ah, side by side with heart's-ease in this world
The fatal nightshade grows and bitter rue!

One band ye cannot break,--the force that clips
  And grasps your circles to the central light;
Yours is the prodigal comet's long ellipse,
  Self-exiled to the farthest verge of night;
  Yet strives with you no less that inward might
    No sin hath e'er imbruted;
The god in you the creed-dimmed eye eludes;
The Law brooks not to have its solitudes
    By bigot feet polluted;
  Yet they who watch your God-compelled return
  May see your happy perihelion burn
Where the calm sun his unfledged planets broods.



TO THE PAST

Wondrous and awful are thy silent halls,
    O kingdom of the past!
There lie the bygone ages in their palls,
    Guarded by shadows vast;
  There all is hushed and breathless,
Save when some image of old error falls
  Earth worshipped once as deathless.

There sits drear Egypt, mid beleaguering sands,
    Half woman and half beast,
The burnt-out torch within her mouldering hands       10
    That once lit all the East;
  A dotard bleared and hoary,
There Asser crouches o'er the blackened brands
  Of Asia's long-quenched glory.

Still as a city buried 'neath the sea
    Thy courts and temples stand;
Idle as forms on wind-waved tapestry
    Of saints and heroes grand,
  Thy phantasms grope and shiver,
Or watch the loose shores crumbling silently      20
  Into Time's gnawing river.

Titanic shapes with faces blank and dun,
    Of their old godhead lorn,
Gaze on the embers of the sunken sun,
    Which they misdeem for morn;
  And yet the eternal sorrow
In their unmonarched eyes says day is done
  Without the hope of morrow.

O realm of silence and of swart eclipse,
    The shapes that haunt thy gloom      30
Make signs to us and move their withered lips
    Across the gulf of doom;
  Yet all their sound and motion
Bring no more freight to us than wraiths of ships
  On the mirage's ocean.

And if sometimes a moaning wandereth
    From out thy desolate halls,
If some grim shadow of thy living death
    Across our sunshine falls
  And scares the world to error,      40
The eternal life sends forth melodious breath
  To chase the misty terror.

Thy mighty clamors, wars, and world-noised deeds
    Are silent now in dust,
Gone like a tremble of the huddling reeds
    Beneath some sudden gust;
  Thy forms and creeds have vanished,
Tossed out to wither like unsightly weeds
  From the world's garden banished.

Whatever of true life there was in thee      50
    Leaps in our age's veins;
Wield still thy bent and wrinkled empery,
    And shake thine idle chains;--
  To thee thy dross is clinging,
For us thy martyrs die, thy prophets see,
  Thy poets still are singing.

Here, mid the bleak waves of our strife and care,
    Float the green Fortunate Isles
Where all thy hero-spirits dwell, and share
    Our martyrdoms and toils;      60
  The present moves attended
With all of brave and excellent and fair
  That made the old time splendid.



TO THE FUTURE

O Land of Promise! from what Pisgah's height
  Can I behold thy stretch of peaceful bowers,
Thy golden harvests flowing out of sight,
  Thy nestled homes and sun-illumined towers?
  Gazing upon the sunset's high-heaped gold,
Its crags of opal and of chrysolite,
  Its deeps on deeps of glory, that unfold
    Still brightening abysses,
    And blazing precipices,
Whence but a scanty leap it seems to heaven,      10
    Sometimes a glimpse is given
Of thy more gorgeous realm, thy more unstinted blisses.

O Land of Quiet! to thy shore the surf
  Of the perturbèd Present rolls and sleeps;
Our storms breathe soft as June upon thy turf
  And lure out blossoms; to thy bosom leaps,
As to a mother's, the o'erwearied heart,
Hearing far off and dim the toiling mart,
  The hurrying feet, the curses without number,
    And, circled with the glow Elysian      20
    Of thine exulting vision,
Out of its very cares wooes charms for peace and slumber.

To thee the earth lifts up her fettered hands
  And cries for vengeance; with a pitying smile
Thou blessest her, and she forgets her bands,
  And her old woe-worn face a little while
Grows young and noble; unto thee the Oppressor
    Looks, and is dumb with awe;
    The eternal law,
Which makes the crime its own blindfold redresser,      30
Shadows his heart with perilous foreboding,
    And he can see the grim-eyed Doom
    From out the trembling gloom
Its silent-footed steeds towards his palace goading.

What promises hast thou for Poets' eyes,
  A-weary of the turmoil and the wrong!
To all their hopes what overjoyed replies!
  What undreamed ecstasies for blissful song!
Thy happy plains no war-trump's brawling clangor
  Disturbs, and fools the poor to hate the poor;      40
The humble glares not on the high with anger;
  Love leaves no grudge at less, no greed for more;
In vain strives Self the godlike sense to smother;
    From the soul's deeps
    It throbs and leaps;
The noble 'neath foul rags beholds his long-lost brother.

To thee the Martyr looketh, and his fires
  Unlock their fangs and leave his spirit free;
To thee the Poet mid his toil aspires,
  And grief and hunger climb about his knee,      50
Welcome as children; thou upholdest
  The lone Inventor by his demon haunted;
The Prophet cries to thee when hearts are coldest,
    And gazing o'er the midnight's bleak abyss,
    Sees the drowsed soul awaken at thy kiss,
And stretch its happy arms and leap up disenchanted.

Thou bringest vengeance, but so loving-kindly
  The guilty thinks it pity; taught by thee,
Fierce tyrants drop the scourges wherewith blindly
  Their own souls they were scarring; conquerors see      60
With horror in their hands the accursed spear
  That tore the meek One's side on Calvary,
And from their trophies shrink with ghastly fear;
    Thou, too, art the Forgiver,
  The beauty of man's soul to man revealing;
    The arrows from thy quiver
Pierce Error's guilty heart, but only pierce for healing.

Oh, whither, whither, glory-wingèd dreams,
  From out Life's, sweat and turmoil would ye bear me?
Shut, gates of Fancy, on your golden gleams,--                        70
  This agony of hopeless contrast spare me!
Fade, cheating glow, and leave me to my night!
    He is a coward, who would borrow
    A charm against the present sorrow
From the vague Future's promise of delight:
  As life's alarums nearer roll,
    The ancestral buckler calls,
    Self-clanging from the walls
  In the high temple of the soul;
Where are most sorrows, there the poet's sphere is,       80
    To feed the soul with patience,
    To heal its desolations
With words of unshorn truth, with love that never wearies.



HEBE

  I saw the twinkle of white feet,
I saw the flush of robes descending;
  Before her ran an influence fleet,
That bowed my heart like barley bending.

  As, in bare fields, the searching bees
Pilot to blooms beyond our finding,
 It led me on, by sweet degrees
Joy's simple honey-cells unbinding.

  Those Graces were that seemed grim Fates;
With nearer love the sky leaned o'er me;
  The long-sought Secret's golden gates
On musical hinges swung before me.

  I saw the brimmed bowl in her grasp
Thrilling with godhood; like a lover
  I sprang the proffered life to clasp;--
The beaker fell; the luck was over.

  The Earth has drunk the vintage up;
What boots it patch the goblet's splinters?
  Can Summer fill the icy cup,
Whose treacherous crystal is but Winter's?

  O spendthrift haste! await the Gods;
The nectar crowns the lips of Patience;
 Haste scatters on unthankful sods
The immortal gift in vain libations.

  Coy Hebe flies from those that woo,
And shuns the hands would seize upon her;
  Follow thy life, and she will sue
To pour for thee the cup of honor.



THE SEARCH

    I went to seek for Christ,
    And Nature seemed so fair
That first the woods and fields my youth enticed,
  And I was sure to find him there:
    The temple I forsook,
    And to the solitude
Allegiance paid; but winter came and shook
  The crown and purple from my wood;
His snows, like desert sands, with scornful drift,
  Besieged the columned aisle and palace-gate;
My Thebes, cut deep with many a solemn rift,
  But epitaphed her own sepulchered state:
Then I remembered whom I went to seek,
And blessed blunt Winter for his counsel bleak.

    Back to the world I turned,
    For Christ, I said, is King;
So the cramped alley and the hut I spurned,
  As far beneath his sojourning:
    Mid power and wealth I sought,
    But found no trace of him,
And all the costly offerings I had brought
  With sudden rust and mould grew dim:
I found his tomb, indeed, where, by their laws,
  All must on stated days themselves imprison,
Mocking with bread a dead creed's grinning jaws,
  Witless how long the life had thence arisen;
Due sacrifice to this they set apart,
Prizing it more than Christ's own living heart.

    So from my feet the dust
    Of the proud World I shook;
Then came dear Love and shared with me his crust.
  And half my sorrow's burden took.
    After the World's soft bed,
    Its rich and dainty fare,
Like down seemed Love's coarse pillow to my head,
  His cheap food seemed as manna rare;
Fresh-trodden prints of bare and bleeding feet,
  Turned to the heedless city whence I came,
Hard by I saw, and springs of worship sweet
  Gushed from my cleft heart smitten by the same;
Love looked me in the face and spake no words,
But straight I knew those footprints were the Lord's.

    I followed where they led,
    And in a hovel rude,
With naught to fence the weather from his head,
  The King I sought for meekly stood;
    A naked, hungry child
    Clung round his gracious knee,
And a poor hunted slave looked up and smiled
  To bless the smile that set him free:
New miracles I saw his presence do,--
  No more I knew the hovel bare and poor,
The gathered chips into a woodpile grew,
  The broken morsel swelled to goodly store;
I knelt and wept: my Christ no more I seek,
His throne is with the outcast and the weak.



THE PRESENT CRISIS

When a deed is done for Freedom, through the broad earth's aching breast
Runs a thrill of joy prophetic, trembling on from east to west,
And the slave, where'er he cowers, feels the soul within him climb
To the awful verge of manhood, as the energy sublime
Of a century bursts full-blossomed on the thorny stem of Time.

Through the walls of hut and palace shoots the instantaneous throe,
When the travail of the Ages wrings earth's systems to and fro;
At the birth of each new Era, with a recognizing start,
Nation wildly looks at nation, standing with mute lips apart,
And glad Truth's yet mightier man-child leaps beneath the Future's
  heart.    10

So the Evil's triumph sendeth, with a terror and a chill,
Under continent to continent, the sense of coming ill,
And the slave, where'er he cowers, feels his sympathies with God
In hot tear-drops ebbing earthward, to be drunk up by the sod,
Till a corpse crawls round unburied, delving in the nobler clod.

For mankind are one in spirit, and an instinct bears along,
Round the earth's electric circle, the swift flash of right or wrong;
Whether conscious or unconscious, yet Humanity's vast frame
Through its ocean-sundered fibres feels the gush of joy or shame;--
In the gain or loss of one race all the rest have equal claim.     20

Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight,
Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right,
And the choice goes by forever 'twixt that darkness and that light.

Hast thou chosen, O my people, on whose party thou shalt stand,
Ere the Doom from its worn sandals shakes the dust against our land?
Though the cause of Evil prosper, yet 'tis Truth alone is strong,
And, albeit she wander outcast now, I see around her throng
Troops of beautiful, tall angels, to enshield her from all wrong.     30

Backward look across the ages and the beacon-moments see,
That, like peaks of some sunk continent, jut through Oblivion's sea;
Not an ear in court or market for the low foreboding cry
Of those Crises, God's stern winnowers, from whose feet earth's chaff
  must fly;
Never shows the choice momentous till the judgment hath passed by.

Careless seems the great Avenger; history's pages but record
One death-grapple in the darkness 'twixt old systems and the Word;
Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,--
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.     40

We see dimly in the Present what is small and what is great.
Slow of faith how weak an arm may turn the iron helm of fate,
But the soul is still oracular; amid the market's din.
List the ominous stern whisper from the Delphic cave within,--
'They enslave their children's children who make compromise with sin.'

Slavery, the earth-born Cyclops, fellest of the giant brood,
Sons of brutish Force and Darkness, who have drenched the earth with
  blood,
Famished in his self-made desert, blinded by our purer day,
Gropes in yet unblasted regions for his miserable prey;--
Shall we guide his gory fingers where our helpless children play?      50

Then to side with Truth is noble when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and 'tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses, while the coward stands aside,
Doubting in his abject spirit, till his Lord is crucified,
And the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.

Count me o'er earth's chosen heroes,--they were souls that stood alone,
While the men they agonized for hurled the contumelious stone,
Stood serene, and down the future saw the golden beam incline
To the side of perfect justice, mastered by their faith divine,
By one man's plain truth to manhood and to God's supreme design.       60

By the light of burning heretics Christ's bleeding feet I track,
Toiling up new Calvaries ever with the cross that turns not back,
And these mounts of anguish number how each generation learned
One new word of that grand Credo which in prophet-hearts hath burned
Since the first man stood God-conquered with his face to heaven upturned.

For Humanity sweeps onward: where to-day the martyr stands,
On the morrow crouches Judas with the silver in his hands;
Far in front the cross stands ready and the crackling fagots burn,
While the hooting mob of yesterday in silent awe return
To glean up the scattered ashes into History's golden urn.       70

'Tis as easy to be heroes as to sit the idle slaves
Of a legendary virtue carved upon our fathers' graves,
Worshippers of light ancestral make the present light a crime;--
Was the Mayflower launched by cowards, steered by men behind their time?
Turn those tracks toward Past or Future that make Plymouth Rock sublime?

They were men of present valor, stalwart old iconoclasts,
Unconvinced by axe or gibbet that all virtue was the Past's;
But we make their truth our falsehood, thinking that hath made us free.
Hoarding it in mouldy parchments, while our tender spirits flee      70
The rude grasp of that great Impulse which drove them across the sea.

They have rights who dare maintain them; we are traitors to our sires,
Smothering in their holy ashes Freedom's new-lit altar-fires;
Shall we make their creed our jailer? Shall we, in our haste to slay,
From the tombs of the old prophets steal the funeral lamps away
To light up the martyr-fagots round the prophets of to-day?

New occasions teach new duties; Time makes ancient good uncouth;
They must upward still, and onward, who would keep abreast of Truth;
Lo, before us gleam her camp-fires! we ourselves must Pilgrims be,
Launch our Mayflower, and steer boldly through the desperate winter sea,
Nor attempt the Future's portal with the Past's blood-rusted key.      90



AN INDIAN-SUMMER REVERIE


    What visionary tints the year puts on,
  When falling leaves falter through motionless air
    Or humbly cling and shiver to be gone!
  How shimmer the low flats and pastures bare,
    As with her nectar Hebe Autumn fills
    The bowl between me and those distant hills,
And smiles and shakes abroad her misty, tremulous hair!

    No more the landscape holds its wealth apart,
  Making me poorer in my poverty,
    But mingles with my senses and my heart;      10
  My own projected spirit seems to me
    In her own reverie the world to steep;
    'Tis she that waves to sympathetic sleep,
Moving, as she is moved, each field and hill and tree.

    How fuse and mix, with what unfelt degrees,
  Clasped by the faint horizon's languid arms,
    Each into each, the hazy distances!
  The softened season all the landscape charms;
    Those hills, my native village that embay,
    In waves of dreamier purple roll away,        20
And floating in mirage seem all the glimmering farms.

    Far distant sounds the hidden chickadee
  Close at my side; far distant sound the leaves;
    The fields seem fields of dream, where Memory
  Wanders like gleaning Ruth; and as the sheaves
    Of wheat and barley wavered in the eye
    Of Boaz as the maiden's glow went by,
So tremble and seem remote all things the sense receives.

    The cock's shrill trump that tells of scattered corn,
  Passed breezily on by all his flapping mates,           30
    Faint and more faint, from barn to barn is borne,
  Southward, perhaps to far Magellan's Straits;
    Dimly I catch the throb of distant flails;
  Silently overhead the hen-hawk sails,
With watchful, measuring eye, and for his quarry waits.

    The sobered robin, hunger-silent now.
  Seeks cedar-berries blue, his autumn cheer;
    The chipmunk, on the shingly shag-bark's bough
  Now saws, now lists with downward eye and ear,
    Then drops his nut, and, cheeping, with a bound         40
    Whisks to his winding fastness underground;
The clouds like swans drift down the streaming atmosphere.

    O'er yon bare knoll the pointed cedar shadows
  Drowse on the crisp, gray moss; the ploughman's call
    Creeps faint as smoke from black, fresh-furrowed meadows;
  The single crow a single caw lets fall;
    And all around me every bush and tree
    Says Autumn's here, and Winter soon will be,
Who snows his soft, white sleep and silence over all.

    The birch, most shy and ladylike of trees,       50
  Her poverty, as best she may, retrieves,
    And hints at her foregone gentilities
  With some saved relics of her wealth of leaves;
    The swamp-oak, with his royal purple on,
    Glares red as blood across the sinking sun,
As one who proudlier to a falling fortune cleaves.

    He looks a sachem, in red blanket wrapt,
  Who, mid some council of the sad-garbed whites,
    Erect and stern, in his own memories lapt,
  With distant eye broods over other sights,      60
    Sees the hushed wood the city's flare replace,
    The wounded turf heal o'er the railway's trace,
And roams the savage Past of his undwindled rights.

    The red-oak, softer-grained, yields all for lost,
  And, with his crumpled foliage stiff and dry,
    After the first betrayal of the frost,
  Rebuffs the kiss of the relenting sky;
    The chestnuts, lavish of their long-hid gold,
    To the faint Summer, beggared now and old,
Pour back the sunshine hoarded 'neath her favoring eye.       70

    The ash her purple drops forgivingly
  And sadly, breaking not the general hush;
    The maple-swamps glow like a sunset sea,
  Each leaf a ripple with its separate flush;
    All round the wood's edge creeps the skirting blaze
    Of bushes low, as when, on cloudy days,
Ere the rain fall, the cautious farmer burns his brush.

    O'er yon low wall, which guards one unkempt zone,
  Where vines and weeds and scrub-oaks intertwine
    Safe from the plough, whose rough, discordant stone        80
  Is massed to one soft gray by lichens fine,
    The tangled blackberry, crossed and recrossed, weaves
    A prickly network of ensanguined leaves;
Hard by, with coral beads, the prim black-alders shine.

    Pillaring with flame this crumbling boundary,
  Whose loose blocks topple 'neath the ploughboy's foot,
    Who, with each sense shut fast except the eye,
  Creeps close and scares the jay he hoped to shoot,
    The woodbine up the elm's straight stem aspires,
    Coiling it, harmless, with autumnal fires;                  90
In the ivy's paler blaze the martyr oak stands mute.

    Below, the Charles, a stripe of nether sky,
  Now hid by rounded apple-trees between,
    Whose gaps the misplaced sail sweeps bellying by,
  Now flickering golden through a woodland screen,
    Then spreading out, at his next turn beyond,
    A silver circle like an inland pond--
Slips seaward silently through marshes purple and green.

    Dear marshes! vain to him the gift of sight
  Who cannot in their various incomes share,                   100
    From every season drawn, of shade and light,
  Who sees in them but levels brown and bare;
    Each change of storm or sunshine scatters free
    On them its largess of variety,
For Nature with cheap means still works her wonders rare.

    In Spring they lie one broad expanse of green,
  O'er which the light winds run with glimmering feet:
    Here, yellower stripes track out the creek unseen,
  There, darker growths o'er hidden ditches meet;
    And purpler stains show where the blossoms crowd,         110
    As if the silent shadow of a cloud
Hung there becalmed, with the next breath to fleet.

    All round, upon the river's slippery edge,
  Witching to deeper calm the drowsy tide,
    Whispers and leans the breeze-entangling sedge;
  Through emerald glooms the lingering waters slide,
    Or, sometimes wavering, throw back the sun,
    And the stiff banks in eddies melt and run
Of dimpling light, and with the current seem to glide.

    In Summer 'tis a blithesome sight to see,                 120
  As, step by step, with measured swing, they pass,
    The wide-ranked mowers wading to the knee,
  Their sharp scythes panting through the wiry grass;
    Then, stretched beneath a rick's shade in a ring,
    Their nooning take, while one begins to sing
A stave that droops and dies 'neath the close sky of brass.

    Meanwhile that devil-may-care, the bobolink,
  Remembering duty, in mid-quaver stops
    Just ere he sweeps o'er rapture's tremulous brink.
  And 'twixt the winrows most demurely drops,                 130
    A decorous bird of business, who provides
    For his brown mate and fledglings six besides,
And looks from right to left, a farmer mid his crops.

    Another change subdues them in the Fall,
  But saddens not; they still show merrier tints,
    Though sober russet seems to cover all;
  When the first sunshine through their dew-drops glints,
    Look how the yellow clearness, streamed across,
    Redeems with rarer hues the season's loss,
As Dawn's feet there had touched and left their rosy prints.     140

    Or come when sunset gives its freshened zest,
  Lean o'er the bridge and let the ruddy thrill,
    While the shorn sun swells down the hazy west,
  Glow opposite;--the marshes drink their fill
    And swoon with purple veins, then slowly fade
    Through pink to brown, as eastward moves the shade,
Lengthening with stealthy creep, of Simonds' darkening hill.

    Later, and yet ere Winter wholly shuts,
  Ere through the first dry snow the runner grates,
    And the loath cart-wheel screams in slippery ruts,      150
  While firmer ice the eager boy awaits,
    Trying each buckle and strap beside the fire,
    And until bedtime plays with his desire,
Twenty times putting on and off his new-bought skates;--

    Then, every morn, the river's banks shine bright
  With smooth plate-armor, treacherous and frail,
    By the frost's clinking hammers forged at night,
  'Gainst which the lances of the sun prevail,
    Giving a pretty emblem of the day
    When guiltier arms in light shall melt away,           160
And states shall move free-limbed, loosed from war's cramping mail.

    And now those waterfalls the ebbing river
  Twice every day creates on either side
    Tinkle, as through their fresh-sparred grots they shiver
  In grass-arched channels to the sun denied;
    High flaps in sparkling blue the far-heard crow,
    The silvered flats gleam frostily below,
Suddenly drops the gull and breaks the glassy tide.

    But crowned in turn by vying seasons three,
  Their winter halo hath a fuller ring;                  170
    This glory seems to rest immovably,--
  The others were too fleet and vanishing;
    When the hid tide is at its highest flow.
    O'er marsh and stream one breathless trance of snow
With brooding fulness awes and hushes everything.

    The sunshine seems blown off by the bleak wind,
  As pale as formal candles lit by day;
    Gropes to the sea the river dumb and blind;
  The brown ricks, snow-thatched by the storm in play,
    Show pearly breakers combing o'er their lee,         180
    White crests as of some just enchanted sea,
Checked in their maddest leap and hanging poised midway.

    But when the eastern blow, with rain aslant,
  From mid-sea's prairies green and rolling plains
    Drives in his wallowing herds of billows gaunt,
  And the roused Charles remembers in his veins
    Old Ocean's blood and snaps his gyves of frost,
    That tyrannous silence on the shores is tost
In dreary wreck, and crumbling desolation reigns.

    Edgewise or flat, in Druid-like device,            190
  With leaden pools between or gullies bare,
    The blocks lie strewn, a bleak Stonehenge of ice;
  No life, no sound, to break the grim despair,
    Save sullen plunge, as through the sedges stiff
    Down crackles riverward some thaw-sapped cliff,
Or when the close-wedged fields of ice crunch here and there.

    But let me turn from fancy-pictured scenes
  To that whose pastoral calm before me lies:
    Here nothing harsh or rugged intervenes;
  The early evening with her misty dyes             200
    Smooths off the ravelled edges of the nigh,
    Relieves the distant with her cooler sky,
And tones the landscape down, and soothes the wearied eyes.

    There gleams my native village, dear to me,
  Though higher change's waves each day are seen,
    Whelming fields famed in boyhood's history,
  Sanding with houses the diminished green;
    There, in red brick, which softening time defies,
    Stand square and stiff the Muses' factories:--
How with my life knit up is every well-known scene!      210

    Flow on, dear river! not alone you flow
  To outward sight, and through your marshes wind;
    Fed from the mystic springs of long-ago,
  Your twin flows silent through my world of mind:
    Grow dim, dear marshes, in the evening's gray!
    Before my inner sight ye stretch away,
And will forever, though these fleshly eyes grow blind.

    Beyond the hillock's house-bespotted swell,
  Where Gothic chapels house the horse and chaise,
    Where quiet cits in Grecian temples dwell,          220
  Where Coptic tombs resound with prayer and praise,
    Where dust and mud the equal year divide,
    There gentle Allston lived, and wrought, and died,
Transfiguring street and shop with his illumined gaze.

    _Virgilium vidi tantum_,--I have seen
  But as a boy, who looks alike on all,
    That misty hair, that fine Undine-like mien,
  Tremulous as down to feeling's faintest call;--
    Ah, dear old homestead! count it to thy fame
    That thither many times the Painter came;--       230
One elm yet bears his name, a feathery tree and tall.

    Swiftly the present fades in memory's glow,--
  Our only sure possession is the past;
    The village blacksmith died a month ago,
  And dim to me the forge's roaring blast;
    Soon fire-new mediævals we shall see
    Oust the black smithy from its chestnut-tree,
And that hewn down, perhaps, the beehive green and vast.

    How many times, prouder than king on throne,
  Loosed from the village school-dame's A's and B's,        240
    Panting have I the creaky bellows blown,
  And watched the pent volcano's red increase,
    Then paused to see the ponderous sledge, brought down
    By that hard arm voluminous and brown,
From the white iron swarm its golden vanishing bees.

    Dear native town! whose choking elms each year
  With eddying dust before their time turn gray,
    Pining for rain,--to me thy dust is dear;
  It glorifies the eve of summer day,
    And when the westering sun half sunken burns,        250
    The mote-thick air to deepest orange turns,
The westward horseman rides through clouds of gold away.

    So palpable, I've seen those unshorn few,
  The six old willows at the causey's end
    (Such trees Paul Potter never dreamed nor drew),
  Through this dry mist their checkering shadows send,
    Striped, here and there, with many a long-drawn thread,
    Where streamed through leafy chinks the trembling red,
Past which, in one bright trail, the hangbird's flashes blend.

    Yes, dearer far thy dust than all that e'er,        260
  Beneath the awarded crown of victory,
    Gilded the blown Olympic charioteer;
  Though lightly prized the ribboned parchments three,
    Yet _collegisse juvat_, I am glad
    That here what colleging was mine I had,--
It linked another tie, dear native town, with thee!

    Nearer art thou than simply native earth,
  My dust with thine concedes a deeper tie;
    A closer claim thy soil may well put forth,
  Something of kindred more than sympathy;     270
    For in thy bounds I reverently laid away
    That blinding anguish of forsaken clay,
That title I seemed to have in earth and sea and sky,

    That portion of my life more choice to me
  (Though brief, yet in itself so round and whole)
    Than all the imperfect residue can be;--
  The Artist saw his statue of the soul
    Was perfect; so, with one regretful stroke,
    The earthen model into fragments broke,
And without her the impoverished seasons roll.      280



THE GROWTH OF THE LEGEND

A FRAGMENT

A legend that grew in the forest's hush
Slowly as tear-drops gather and gush,
When a word some poet chanced to say
Ages ago, in his careless way,
Brings our youth back to us out of its shroud
Clearly as under yon thunder-cloud
I see that white sea-gull. It grew and grew,
From the pine-trees gathering a sombre hue,
Till it seems a mere murmur out of the vast
Norwegian forests of the past;      10
And it grew itself like a true Northern pine,
First a little slender line,
Like a mermaid's green eyelash, and then anon
A stem that a tower might rest upon,
Standing spear-straight in the waist-deep moss,
Its bony roots clutching around and across,
As if they would tear up earth's heart in their grasp
Ere the storm should uproot them or make them unclasp;
Its cloudy boughs singing, as suiteth the pine,
To snow-bearded sea-kings old songs of the brine,      20
Till they straightened and let their staves fall to the floor,
Hearing waves moan again on the perilous shore
Of Vinland, perhaps, while their prow groped its way
'Twixt the frothed gnashing tusks of some ship-crunching bay.

So, pine-like, the legend grew, strong-limbed and tall,
As the Gypsy child grows that eats crusts in the hall;
It sucked the whole strength of the earth and the sky,
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, all brought it supply;
'Twas a natural growth, and stood fearlessly there,
True part of the landscape as sea, land, and air;      30
For it grew in good times, ere the fashion it was
To force these wild births of the woods under glass,
And so, if 'tis told as it should be told,
Though 'twere sung under Venice's moonlight of gold,
You would hear the old voice of its mother, the pine,
Murmur sealike and northern through every line,
And the verses should grow, self-sustained and free,
Round the vibrating stem of the melody,
Like the lithe moonlit limbs of the parent tree.

Yes, the pine is the mother of legends; what food      40
For their grim roots is left when the thousand-yeared wood,
The dim-aisled cathedral, whose tall arches spring
Light, sinewy, graceful, firm-set as the wing
From Michael's white shoulder, is hewn and defaced
By iconoclast axes in desperate waste,
And its wrecks seek the ocean it prophesied long,
Cassandra-like, crooning its mystical song?
Then the legends go with them,--even yet on the sea
A wild virtue is left in the touch of the tree,
And the sailor's night-watches are thrilled to the core      50
With the lineal offspring of Odin and Thor.

Yes, wherever the pine-wood has never let in,
Since the day of creation, the light and the din
Of manifold life, but has safely conveyed
From the midnight primeval its armful of shade,
And has kept the weird Past with its child-faith alive
Mid the hum and the stir of To-day's busy hive.
There the legend takes root in the age-gathered gloom,
And its murmurous boughs for their sagas find room.

Where Aroostook, far-heard, seems to sob as he goes      60
Groping down to the sea 'neath his mountainous snows;
Where the lake's frore Sahara of never-tracked white,
When the crack shoots across it, complains to the night
With a long, lonely moan, that leagues northward is lost,
As the ice shrinks away from the tread of the frost;
Where the lumberers sit by the log-fires that throw
Their own threatening shadows far round o'er the snow,
When the wolf howls aloof, and the wavering glare
Flashes out from the blackness the eyes of the bear,
When the wood's huge recesses, half-lighted, supply      70
A canvas where Fancy her mad brush may try,
Blotting in giant Horrors that venture not down
Through the right-angled streets of the brisk, whitewashed town,
But skulk in the depths of the measureless wood
Mid the Dark's creeping whispers that curdle the blood,
When the eye, glanced in dread o'er the shoulder, may dream,
Ere it shrinks to the camp-fire's companioning gleam,
That it saw the fierce ghost of the Red Man crouch back
To the shroud of the tree-trunk's invincible black;
There the old shapes crowd thick round the pine-shadowed camp,      80
Which shun the keen gleam of the scholarly lamp,
And the seed of the legend finds true Norland ground,
While the border-tale's told and the canteen flits round.



A CONTRAST

Thy love thou sendest oft to me,
  And still as oft I thrust it back;
Thy messengers I could not see
  In those who everything did lack,
  The poor, the outcast and the black.

Pride held his hand before mine eyes,
  The world with flattery stuffed mine ears;
I looked to see a monarch's guise,
  Nor dreamed thy love would knock for years,
  Poor, naked, fettered, full of tears.

Yet, when I sent my love to thee,
  Thou with a smile didst take it in,
And entertain'dst it royally,
  Though grimed with earth, with hunger thin,
  And leprous with the taint of sin.

Now every day thy love I meet,
  As o'er the earth it wanders wide,
With weary step and bleeding feet,
  Still knocking at the heart of pride
  And offering grace, though still denied.



EXTREME UNCTION

Go! leave me, Priest; my soul would be
  Alone with the consoler, Death;
Far sadder eyes than thine will see
  This crumbling clay yield up its breath;
These shrivelled hands have deeper stains
  Than holy oil can cleanse away,
Hands that have plucked the world's coarse gains
  As erst they plucked the flowers of May.

Call, if thou canst, to these gray eyes
  Some faith from youth's traditions wrung;       10
This fruitless husk which dustward dries
  Hath been a heart once, hath been young;
On this bowed head the awful Past
  Once laid its consecrating hands;
The Future in its purpose vast
  Paused, waiting my supreme commands.

But look! whose shadows block the door?
  Who are those two that stand aloof?
See! on my hands this freshening gore
  Writes o'er again its crimson proof!            20
My looked-for death-bed guests are met;
  There my dead Youth doth wring its hands,
And there, with eyes that goad me yet,
  The ghost of my Ideal stands!

God bends from out the deep and says,
  'I gave thee the great gift of life;
Wast thou not called in many ways?
  Are not my earth and heaven at strife?
I gave thee of my seed to sow,
  Bringest thou me my hundredfold?'               30
Can I look up with face aglow,
  And answer, 'Father, here is gold'?

I have been innocent; God knows
  When first this wasted life began,
Not grape with grape more kindly grows,
  Than I with every brother-man:
Now here I gasp; what lose my kind,
  When this fast ebbing breath shall part?
What bands of love and service bind
  This being to a brother heart?             40

Christ still was wandering o'er the earth
  Without a place to lay his head;
He found free welcome at my hearth,
  He shared my cup and broke my bread:
Now, when I hear those steps sublime,
  That bring the other world to this,
My snake-turned nature, sunk in slime,
  Starts sideway with defiant hiss.

Upon the hour when I was born,
  God said, 'Another man shall be,'         50
And the great Maker did not scorn
  Out of himself to fashion me:
He sunned me with his ripening looks,
  And Heaven's rich instincts in me grew,
As effortless as woodland nooks
  Send violets up and paint them blue.

Yes, I who now, with angry tears,
  Am exiled back to brutish clod,
Have borne unqueached for fourscore years
  A spark of the eternal God;               60
And to what end? How yield I back
  The trust for such high uses given?
Heaven's light hath but revealed a track
  Whereby to crawl away from heaven.

Men think it is an awful sight
  To see a soul just set adrift
On that drear voyage from whose night
  The ominous shadows never lift;
But 'tis more awful to behold
  A helpless infant newly born,      70
Whose little hands unconscious hold
  The keys of darkness and of morn.

Mine held them once; I flung away
  Those keys that might have open set
The golden sluices of the day,
  But clutch the keys of darkness yet;
I hear the reapers singing go
  Into God's harvest; I, that might
With them have chosen, here below
  Grope shuddering at the gates of night.      80

O glorious Youth, that once wast mine!
  O high Ideal! all in vain
Ye enter at this ruined shrine
  Whence worship ne'er shall rise again;
The bat and owl inhabit here,
  The snake nests in the altar-stone,
The sacred vessels moulder near,
  The image of the God is gone.



THE OAK

What gnarlèd stretch, what depth of shade, is his!
  There needs no crown to mark the forest's king;
How in his leaves outshines full summer's bliss!
  Sun, storm, rain, dew, to him their tribute bring,
Which he with such benignant royalty
  Accepts, as overpayeth what is lent;
All nature seems his vassal proud to be,
  And cunning only for his ornament.

How towers he, too, amid the billowed snows,
  An unquelled exile from the summer's throne,
Whose plain, uncinctured front more kingly shows,
  Now that the obscuring courtier leaves are flown.
His boughs make music of the winter air,
  Jewelled with sleet, like some cathedral front
Where clinging snow-flakes with quaint art repair
  The dints and furrows of time's envious brunt.

How doth his patient strength the rude March wind
  Persuade to seem glad breaths of summer breeze,
And win the soil that fain would be unkind,
  To swell his revenues with proud increase!
He is the gem; and all the landscape wide
  (So doth his grandeur isolate the sense)
Seems but the setting, worthless all beside,
  An empty socket, were he fallen thence.

So, from oft converse with life's wintry gales,
  Should man learn how to clasp with tougher roots
The inspiring earth; how otherwise avails
  The leaf-creating sap that sunward shoots?
So every year that falls with noiseless flake
  Should fill old scars up on the stormward side,
And make hoar age revered for age's sake,
  Not for traditions of youth's leafy pride.

So, from the pinched soil of a churlish fate,
  True hearts compel the sap of sturdier growth,
So between earth and heaven stand simply great,
  That these shall seem but their attendants both;
For nature's forces with obedient zeal
  Wait on the rooted faith and oaken will;
As quickly the pretender's cheat they feel,
  And turn mad Pucks to flout and mock him still.

Lord! all thy works are lessons; each contains
  Some emblem of man's all-containing soul;
Shall he make fruitless all thy glorious pains,
  Delving within thy grace an eyeless mole?
Make me the least of thy Dodona-grove,
  Cause me some message of thy truth to bring,
Speak but a word through me, nor let thy love
  Among my boughs disdain to perch and sing.



AMBROSE

Never, surely, was holier man
Than Ambrose, since the world began;
With diet spare and raiment thin
He shielded himself from the father of sin;
With bed of iron and scourgings oft,
His heart to God's hand as wax made soft.

Through earnest prayer and watchings long
He sought to know 'tween right and wrong,
Much wrestling with the blessed Word
To make it yield the sense of the Lord,      10
That he might build a storm-proof creed
To fold the flock in at their need.

At last he builded a perfect faith,
Fenced round about with _The Lord thus saith_;
To himself he fitted the doorway's size,
Meted the light to the need of his eyes,
And knew, by a sure and inward sign,
That the work of his fingers was divine.

Then Ambrose said, 'All those shall die
The eternal death who believe not as I;'      20
And some were boiled, some burned in fire,
Some sawn in twain, that his heart's desire,
For the good of men's souls might be satisfied
By the drawing of all to the righteous side.

One day, as Ambrose was seeking the truth
In his lonely walk, he saw a youth
Resting himself in the shade of a tree;
It had never been granted him to see
So shining a face, and the good man thought
'Twere pity he should not believe as he ought.      30

So he set himself by the young man's side,
And the state of his soul with questions tried;
But the heart of the stranger was hardened indeed,
Nor received the stamp of the one true creed;
And the spirit of Ambrose waxed sore to find
Such features the porch of so narrow a mind.

'As each beholds in cloud and fire
The shape that answers his own desire,
So each,' said the youth, 'in the Law shall find
The figure and fashion of his mind;         40
And to each in his mercy hath God allowed
His several pillar of fire and cloud.'

The soul of Ambrose burned with zeal
And holy wrath for the young man's weal:
'Believest thou then, most wretched youth,'
Cried he, 'a dividual essence in Truth?
I fear me thy heart is too cramped with sin
To take the Lord in his glory in.'

Now there bubbled beside them where they stood
A fountain of waters sweet and good:        50
The youth to the streamlet's brink drew near
Saying, 'Ambrose, thou maker of creeds, look here!'
Six vases of crystal then he took,
And set them along the edge of the brook.

'As into these vessels the water I pour,
There shall one hold less, another more,
And the water unchanged, in every case,
Shall put on the figure of the vase;
O thou, who wouldst unity make through strife,
Canst thou fit this sign to the Water of Life?'      60

When Ambrose looked up, he stood alone,
The youth and the stream and the vases were gone;
But he knew, by a sense of humbled grace,
He had talked with an angel face to face,
And felt his heart change inwardly,
As he fell on his knees beneath the tree.



ABOVE AND BELOW


I

O dwellers in the valley-land,
  Who in deep twilight grope and cower,
Till the slow mountain's dial-hand
  Shorten to noon's triumphal hour,
While ye sit idle, do ye think
  The Lord's great work sits idle too?
That light dare not o'erleap the brink
  Of morn, because 'tis dark with you?

Though yet your valleys skulk in night,
  In God's ripe fields the day is cried,
And reapers, with their sickles bright,
  Troop, singing, down the mountain-side:
Come up, and feel what health there is
  In the frank Dawn's delighted eyes,
As, bending with a pitying kiss,
  The night-shed tears of Earth she dries!

The Lord wants reapers: oh, mount up,
  Before night comes, and says, 'Too late!'
Stay not for taking scrip or cup,
  The Master hungers while ye wait;
'Tis from these heights alone your eyes
  The advancing spears of day can see,
That o'er the eastern hill-tops rise,
  To break your long captivity.


II

Lone watcher on the mountain-height,
  It is right precious to behold
The first long surf of climbing light
  Flood all the thirsty east with gold;
But we, who in the shadow sit,
  Know also when the day is nigh,
Seeing thy shining forehead lit
  With his inspiring prophecy.

Thou hast thine office; we have ours;
  God lacks not early service here,
But what are thine eleventh hours
  He counts with us for morning cheer;
Our day, for Him, is long enough,
  And when He giveth work to do,
The bruisèd reed is amply tough
  To pierce the shield of error, through.

But not the less do thou aspire
  Light's earlier messages to preach;
Keep back no syllable of fire,
  Plunge deep the rowels of thy speech.
Yet God deems not thine aeried sight
  More worthy than our twilight dim;
For meek Obedience, too, is Light,
  And following that is finding Him.



THE CAPTIVE

It was past the hour of trysting,
  But she lingered for him still;
Like a child, the eager streamlet
  Leaped and laughed adown the hill,
Happy to be free at twilight
  From its toiling at the mill.

Then the great moon on a sudden
  Ominous, and red as blood,
Startling as a new creation,
  O'er the eastern hilltop stood,
Casting deep and deeper shadows
  Through the mystery of the wood.

Dread closed fast and vague about her,
  And her thoughts turned fearfully
To her heart, if there some shelter
  From the silence there might be,
Like bare cedars leaning inland
  From the blighting of the sea.

Yet he came not, and the stillness
  Dampened round her like a tomb;
She could feel cold eyes of spirits
  Looking on her through the gloom,
She could hear the groping footsteps
  Of some blind, gigantic doom.

Suddenly the silence wavered
  Like a light mist in the wind,
For a voice broke gently through it,
  Felt like sunshine by the blind,
And the dread, like mist in sunshine,
  Furled serenely from her mind.

'Once my love, my love forever,
  Flesh or spirit, still the same,
If I failed at time of trysting,
  Deem then not my faith to blame;
I, alas, was made a captive,
  As from Holy Land I came.

'On a green spot in the desert,
  Gleaming like an emerald star,
Where a palm-tree, in lone silence,
  Yearning for its mate afar,
Droops above a silver runnel,
  Slender as a scimitar,

'There thou'lt find the humble postern
  To the castle of my foe;
If thy love burn clear and faithful,
  Strike the gateway, green and low,
Ask to enter, and the warder
  Surely will not say thee no.'

Slept again the aspen silence,
  But her loneliness was o'er;
Bound her soul a motherly patience
  Clasped its arms forevermore;
From her heart ebbed back the sorrow,
  Leaving smooth the golden shore.

Donned she now the pilgrim scallop,
  Took the pilgrim staff in hand;
Like a cloud-shade flitting eastward,
  Wandered she o'er sea and land;
And her footsteps in the desert
  Fell like cool rain on the sand.

Soon, beneath the palm-tree's shadow,
  Knelt she at the postern low;
And thereat she knocked full gently,
  Fearing much the warder's no;
All her heart stood still and listened,
  As the door swung backward slow.

There she saw no surly warder
  With an eye like bolt and bar;
Through her soul a sense of music
  Throbbed, and, like a guardian Lar,
On the threshold stood an angel,
  Bright and silent as a star.

Fairest seemed he of God's seraphs,
  And her spirit, lily-wise,
Opened when he turned upon her
  The deep welcome of his eyes,
Sending upward to that sunlight
  All its dew for sacrifice.

Then she heard a voice come onward
  Singing with a rapture new,
As Eve heard the songs in Eden,
  Dropping earthward with the dew;
Well she knew the happy singer,
  Well the happy song she knew.

Forward leaped she o'er the threshold,
  Eager as a glancing surf;
Fell from her the spirit's languor,
  Fell from her the body's scurf;
'Neath the palm next day some Arabs
  Found a corpse upon the turf.



THE BIRCH-TREE

Rippling through thy branches goes the sunshine,
Among thy leaves that palpitate forever;
Ovid in thee a pining Nymph had prisoned,
The soul once of some tremulous inland river,
Quivering to tell her woe, but, ah! dumb, dumb forever!

While all the forest, witched with slumberous moonshine,
Holds up its leaves in happy, happy stillness,
Waiting the dew, with breath and pulse suspended,
I hear afar thy whispering, gleamy islands,
And track thee wakeful still amid the wide-hung silence.

On the brink of some wood-nestled lakelet,
Thy foliage, like the tresses of a Dryad,
Dripping round thy slim white stem, whose shadow
Slopes quivering down the water's dusky quiet,
Thou shrink'st as on her bath's edge would some startled Naiad.

Thou art the go-between of rustic lovers;
Thy white bark has their secrets in its keeping;
Reuben writes here the happy name of Patience,
And thy lithe boughs hang murmuring and weeping
Above her, as she steals the mystery from thy keeping.

Thou art to me like my beloved maiden,
So frankly coy, so full of trembly confidences;
Thy shadow scarce seems shade, thy pattering leaflets
Sprinkle their gathered sunshine o'er my senses,
And Nature gives me all her summer confidences.

Whether my heart with hope or sorrow tremble,
Thou sympathizest still; wild and unquiet,
I fling me down; thy ripple, like a river,
Flows valleyward, where calmness is, and by it
My heart is floated down into the land of quiet.



AN INTERVIEW WITH MILES STANDISH

I sat one evening in my room,
  In that sweet hour of twilight
When blended thoughts, half light, half gloom,
  Throng through the spirit's skylight;
The flames by fits curled round the bars,
  Or up the chimney crinkled,
While embers dropped like falling stars,
  And in the ashes tinkled.

I sat, and mused; the fire burned low,
  And, o'er my senses stealing,            10
Crept something of the ruddy glow
  That bloomed on wall and ceiling;
My pictures (they are very few,
  The heads of ancient wise men)
Smoothed down their knotted fronts, and grew
  As rosy as excisemen.

My antique high-backed Spanish chair
  Felt thrills through wood and leather,
That had been strangers since whilere,
  Mid Andaluslan heather,                  20
The oak that built its sturdy frame
  His happy arms stretched over
The ox whose fortunate hide became
  The bottom's polished cover.

It came out in that famous bark,
  That brought our sires intrepid,
Capacious as another ark
  For furniture decrepit;
For, as that saved of bird and beast
  A pair for propagation,                  30
So has the seed of these increased
  And furnished half the nation.

Kings sit, they say, in slippery seats;
  But those slant precipices
Of ice the northern voyager meets
  Less slippery are than this is;
To cling therein would pass the wit
  Of royal man or woman,
And whatsoe'er can stay in it
  Is more or less than human.              40

I offer to all bores this perch,
  Dear well-intentioned people
With heads as void as week-day church,
  Tongues longer than the steeple;
To folks with missions, whose gaunt eyes
  See golden ages rising,--
Salt of the earth! in what queer Guys
  Thou'rt fond of crystallizing!

My wonder, then, was not unmixed
  With merciful suggestion,                50
When, as my roving eyes grew fixed
  Upon the chair in question,
I saw its trembling arms enclose
  A figure grim and rusty,
Whose doublet plain and plainer hose
  Were something worn and dusty.

Now even such men as Nature forms
  Merely to fill the street with,
Once turned to ghosts by hungry worms,       59
  Are serious things to meet with;
Your penitent spirits are no jokes,
  And, though I'm not averse to
A quiet shade, even they are folks
  One cares not to speak first to.

Who knows, thought I, but he has come,
  By Charon kindly ferried,
To tell me of a mighty sum
  Behind my wainscot buried?
There is a buccaneerish air
  About that garb outlandish--      70
Just then the ghost drew up his chair
  And said, 'My name is Standish.

'I come from Plymouth, deadly bored
  With toasts, and songs, and speeches,
As long and flat as my old sword,
  As threadbare as my breeches:
_They_ understand us Pilgrims! they,
  Smooth men with rosy faces.
Strength's knots and gnarls all pared away,
  And varnish in their places!                80

'We had some toughness in our grain,
  The eye to rightly see us is
Not just the one that lights the brain
  Of drawing-room Tyrtæuses:
_They_ talk about their Pilgrim blood,
  Their birthright high and holy!
A mountain-stream that ends in mud
  Methinks is melancholy.

'He had stiff knees, the Puritan,
  That were not good at bending;
The homespun dignity of man              91
  He thought was worth defending;
He did not, with his pinchbeck ore,
  His country's shame forgotten,
Gild Freedom's coffin o'er and o'er,
  When all within was rotten.

'These loud ancestral boasts of yours,
  How can they else than vex us?
Where were your dinner orators
  When slavery grasped at Texas?       100
Dumb on his knees was every one
  That now is bold as Cæsar;
Mere pegs to hang an office on
  Such stalwart men as these are.'

'Good sir,' I said, 'you seem much stirred;
  The sacred compromises'--
'Now God confound the dastard word!
  My gall thereat arises:
Northward it hath this sense alone
  That you, your conscience blinding,      110
Shall bow your fool's nose to the stone,
  When slavery feels like grinding.

''Tis shame to see such painted sticks
  In Vane's and Winthrop's places,
To see your spirit of Seventy-Six
  Drag humbly in the traces,
With slavery's lash upon her back,
  And herds, of office-holders
To shout applause, as, with a crack,      119
  It peels her patient shoulders.

'_We_ forefathers to such a rout!--
  No, by my faith in God's word!'
Half rose the ghost, and half drew out
  The ghost of his old broadsword,
Then thrust it slowly back again,
  And said, with reverent gesture,
'No, Freedom, no! blood should not stain
  The hem of thy white vesture.

'I feel the soul in me draw near
  The mount of prophesying;            130
In this bleak wilderness I hear
  A John the Baptist crying;
Far in the east I see upleap
  The streaks of first forewarning,
And they who sowed the light shall reap
  The golden sheaves of morning.

'Child of our travail and our woe,
  Light in our day of sorrow,
Through my rapt spirit I foreknow
  The glory of thy morrow;              140
I hear great steps, that through the shade
  Draw nigher still and nigher,
And voices call like that which bade
  The prophet come up higher.'

I looked, no form mine eyes could find,
  I heard the red cock crowing,
And through my window-chinks the wind
  A dismal tune was blowing;
Thought I, My neighbor Buckingham
  Hath somewhat in him gritty,             150
Some Pilgrim-stuff that hates all sham,
  And he will print my ditty.



ON THE CAPTURE OF FUGITIVE SLAVES NEAR WASHINGTON


Look on who will in apathy, and stifle they who can,
The sympathies, the hopes, the words, that make man truly man;
Let those whose hearts are dungeoned up with interest or with ease
Consent to hear with quiet pulse of loathsome deeds like these!

I first drew in New England's air, and from her hardy breast
Sucked in the tyrant-hating milk that will not let me rest;
And if my words seem treason to the dullard and the tame,
'Tis but my Bay-State dialect,--our fathers spake the same!

Shame on the costly mockery of piling stone on stone
To those who won our liberty, the heroes dead and gone,
While we look coldly on and see law-shielded ruffians slay
The men who fain would win their own, the heroes of to-day!

Are we pledged to craven silence? Oh, fling it to the wind,
The parchment wall that bars us from the least of human kind,
That makes us cringe and temporize, and dumbly stand at rest,
While Pity's burning flood of words is red-hot in the breast!

Though we break our fathers' promise, we have nobler duties first;
The traitor to Humanity is the traitor most accursed;
Man is more than Constitutions; better rot beneath the sod,
Than be true to Church and State while we are doubly false to God!

We owe allegiance to the State; but deeper, truer, more,
To the sympathies that God hath set within our spirit's core;
Our country claims our fealty; we grant it so, but then
Before Man made us citizens, great Nature made us men.

He's true to God who's true to man; wherever wrong is done,
To the humblest and the weakest, 'neath the all-beholding sun,
That wrong is also done to us; and they are slaves most base,
Whose love of right is for themselves, and not for all their race.

God works for all. Ye cannot hem the hope of being free
With parallels of latitude, with mountain-range or sea.
Put golden padlocks on Truth's lips, be callous as ye will,
From soul to soul, o'er all the world, leaps one electric thrill.

Chain down your slaves with ignorance, ye cannot keep apart,
With all your craft of tyranny, the human heart from heart:
When first the Pilgrims landed on the Bay State's iron shore,
The word went forth that slavery should one day be no more.

Out from the land of bondage 'tis decreed our slaves shall go,
And signs to us are offered, as erst to Pharaoh;
If we are blind, their exodus, like Israel's of yore,
Through a Red Sea is doomed to be, whose surges are of gore.

'Tis ours to save our brethren, with peace and love to win
Their darkened hearts from error, ere they harden it to sin;
But if before his duty man with listless spirit stands,
Erelong the Great Avenger takes the work from out his hands.



TO THE DANDELION

  Dear common flower, that grow'st beside the way,
Fringing the dusty road with harmless gold,
    First pledge of blithesome May,
Which children pluck, and, full of pride uphold,
  High-hearted buccaneers, o'erjoyed that they
An Eldorado in the grass have found,
    Which not the rich earth's ample round
  May match in wealth, thou art more dear to me
  Than all the prouder summer-blooms may be.

  Gold such as thine ne'er drew the Spanish prow
Through the primeval hush of Indian seas,
    Nor wrinkled the lean brow
Of age, to rob the lover's heart of ease;
  'Tis the Spring's largess, which she scatters now
To rich and poor alike, with lavish hand,
    Though most hearts never understand
  To take it at God's value, but pass by
  The offered wealth with unrewarded eye.

  Thou art my tropics and mine Italy;
To look at thee unlocks a warmer clime;
    The eyes thou givest me
Are in the heart, and heed not space or time:
  Not in mid June the golden-cuirassed bee
Feels a more summer-like warm ravishment
    In the white lily's breezy tent,
  His fragrant Sybaris, than I, when first
  From the dark green thy yellow circles burst.

  Then think I of deep shadows on the grass,
Of meadows where in sun the cattle graze,
    Where, as the breezes pass,
The gleaming rushes lean a thousand ways,
  Of leaves that slumber in a cloudy mass,
Or whiten in the wind, of waters blue
    That from the distance sparkle through
  Some woodland gap, and of a sky above,
  Where one white cloud like a stray lamb doth move.

  My childhood's earliest thoughts are linked with thee;
The sight of thee calls back the robin's song,
    Who, from the dark old tree
Beside the door, sang clearly all day long,
  And I, secure in childish piety,
Listened as if I heard an angel sing
    With news from heaven, which he could bring
  Fresh every day to my untainted ears
  When birds and flowers and I were happy peers.

  How like a prodigal doth nature seem,
When thou, for all thy gold, so common art!
    Thou teachest me to deem
More sacredly of every human heart,
  Since each reflects in joy its scanty gleam
Of heaven, and could some wondrous secret show,
    Did we but pay the love we owe,
  And with a child's undoubting wisdom look
  On all these living pages of God's book.



THE GHOST-SEER

Ye who, passing graves by night,
Glance not to the left or right,
Lest a spirit should arise,
Cold and white, to freeze your eyes,
Some weak phantom, which your doubt
Shapes upon the dark without
From the dark within, a guess
At the spirit's deathlessness,
Which ye entertain with fear
In your self-built dungeon here,         10
Where ye sell your God-given lives
Just for gold to buy you gyves,--
Ye without a shudder meet
In the city's noonday street,
Spirits sadder and more dread
Than from out the clay have fled,
Buried, beyond hope of light,
In the body's haunted night!
See ye not that woman pale?
There are bloodhounds on her trail!       20
Bloodhounds two, all gaunt and lean,
(For the soul their scent is keen,)
Want and Sin, and Sin is last.
They have followed far and fast;
Want gave tongue, and, at her howl,
Sin awakened with a growl.
Ah, poor girl! she had a right
To a blessing from the light;
Title-deeds to sky and earth
God gave to her at her birth;        30
But, before they were enjoyed,
Poverty had made them void,
And had drunk the sunshine up
From all nature's ample cup,
Leaving her a first-born's share
In the dregs of darkness there.
Often, on the sidewalk bleak,
Hungry, all alone, and weak,
She has seen, in night and storm,
Rooms o'erflow with firelight warm,     40
Which, outside the window-glass,
Doubled all the cold, alas!
Till each ray that on her fell
Stabbed her like an icicle,
And she almost loved the wail
Of the bloodhounds on her trail.
Till the floor becomes her bier,
She shall feel their pantings near,
Close upon her very heels,
Spite of all the din of wheels;          50
Shivering on her pallet poor,
She shall hear them at the door
Whine and scratch to be let in,
Sister bloodhounds, Want and Sin!

Hark! that rustle of a dress,
Stiff with lavish costliness!
Here comes one whose cheek would flush
But to have her garment brush
'Gainst the girl whose fingers thin
Wove the weary broidery in,             60
Bending backward from her toil,
Lest her tears the silk might soil,
And, in midnights chill and murk,
Stitched her life into the work,
Shaping from her bitter thought
Heart's-ease and forget-me-not,
Satirizing her despair
With the emblems woven there.
Little doth the wearer heed
Of the heart-break in the brede;      70
A hyena by her side
Skulks, down-looking,--it is Pride.
He digs for her in the earth,
Where lie all her claims of birth,
With his foul paws rooting o'er
Some long-buried ancestor,
Who perhaps a statue won
By the ill deeds he had done,
By the innocent blood he shed,
By the desolation spread          80
Over happy villages,
Blotting out the smile of peace.
There walks Judas, he who sold
Yesterday his Lord for gold,
Sold God's presence in his heart
For a proud step in the mart;
He hath dealt in flesh and blood:
At the bank his name is good;
At the bank, and only there,
'Tis a marketable ware.              90
In his eyes that stealthy gleam
Was not learned of sky or stream,
But it has the cold, hard glint
Of new dollars from the mint.
Open now your spirit's eyes,
Look through that poor clay disguise
Which has thickened, day by day,
Till it keeps all light at bay,
And his soul in pitchy gloom
Gropes about its narrow tomb,       100
From whose dank and slimy walls
Drop by drop the horror falls.
Look! a serpent lank and cold
Hugs his spirit fold on fold;
From his heart, all day and night,
It doth suck God's blessed light.
Drink it will, and drink it must,
Till the cup holds naught but dust;
All day long he hears it hiss,
Writhing in its fiendish bliss;       110
All night long he sees its eyes
Flicker with foul ecstasies,
As the spirit ebbs away
Into the absorbing clay.
Who is he that skulks, afraid
Of the trust he has betrayed,
Shuddering if perchance a gleam
Of old nobleness should stream
Through the pent, unwholesome room,
Where his shrunk soul cowers in gloom,       120
Spirit sad beyond the rest
By more Instinct for the best?
'Tis a poet who was sent
For a bad world's punishment,
By compelling it to see
Golden glimpses of To Be,
By compelling it to hear
Songs that prove the angels near;
Who was sent to be the tongue
Of the weak and spirit-wrung,      130
Whence the fiery-winged Despair
In men's shrinking eyes might flare.
'Tis our hope doth fashion us
To base use or glorious:
He who might have been a lark
Of Truth's morning, from the dark
Raining down melodious hope
Of a freer, broader scope,
Aspirations, prophecies,
Of the spirit's full sunrise,      140
Chose to be a bird of night,
That, with eyes refusing light,
Hooted from some hollow tree
Of the world's idolatry.
'Tis his punishment to hear
Sweep of eager pinions near,
And his own vain wings to feel
Drooping downward to his heel,
All their grace and import lost,
Burdening his weary ghost:      150
Ever walking by his side
He must see his angel guide,
Who at intervals doth turn
Looks on him so sadly stern,
With such ever-new surprise
Of hushed anguish in her eyes,
That it seems the light of day
From around him shrinks away,
Or drops blunted from the wall
Built around him by his fall.      160
Then the mountains, whose white peaks
Catch the morning's earliest streaks,
He must see, where prophets sit,
Turning east their faces lit,
Whence, with footsteps beautiful,
To the earth, yet dim and dull,
They the gladsome tidings bring
Of the sunlight's hastening:
Never can these hills of bliss      169
Be o'erclimbed by feet like his!
But enough! Oh, do not dare
From the next the veil to tear,
Woven of station, trade, or dress,
More obscene than nakedness,
Wherewith plausible culture drapes
Fallen Nature's myriad shapes!
Let us rather love to mark
How the unextingnished spark
Still gleams through the thin disguise      179
Of our customs, pomps, and lies,
And, not seldom blown to flame,
Vindicates its ancient claim.



STUDIES FOR TWO HEADS


I

Some sort of heart I know is hers,--
  I chanced to feel her pulse one night;
A brain she has that never errs,
  And yet is never nobly right;
It does not leap to great results,
  But, in some corner out of sight
  Suspects a spot of latent blight,
  And, o'er the impatient infinite,
She hargains, haggles, and consults.

Her eye,--it seems a chemic test
  And drops upon you like an acid;      11
It bites you with unconscious zest,
  So clear and bright, so coldly placid;
It holds you quietly aloof,
  It holds,--and yet it does not win you;
It merely puts you to the proof
  And sorts what qualities are in you:
It smiles, but never brings you nearer,
  It lights,--her nature draws not nigh;
'Tis but that yours is growing clearer      20
  To her assays;--yes, try and try,
  You'll get no deeper than her eye.

There, you are classified: she's gone
  Far, far away into herself;
Each with its Latin label on,
Your poor components, one by one,
  Are laid upon their proper shelf
In her compact and ordered mind,
And what of you is left behind
Is no more to her than the wind;
In that clear brain, which, day and night,      31
  No movement of the heart e'er jostles,
Her friends are ranged on left and right,--
Here, silex, hornblende, sienite;
  There, animal remains and fossils.

And yet, O subtile analyst,
  That canst each property detect
Of mood or grain, that canst untwist
  Each tangled skein of intellect,
And with thy scalpel eyes lay bare      40
Each mental nerve more fine than air,--
  O brain exact, that in thy scales
Canst weigh the sun and never err,
  For once thy patient science fails,
  One problem still defies thy art;--
Thou never canst compute for her
The distance and diameter
  Of any simple human heart.


II

Hear him but speak, and you will feel
  The shadows of the Portico      50
Over your tranquil spirit steal,
  To modulate all joy and woe
  To one subdued, subduing glow;
Above our squabbling business-hours,
Like Phidian Jove's, his beauty lowers,
His nature satirizes ours;
  A form and front of Attic grace,
  He shames the higgling market-place,
And dwarfs our more mechanic powers.

What throbbing verse can fitly render      60
That face so pure, so trembling-tender?
  Sensation glimmers through its rest,
It speaks unmanacled by words,
  As full of motion as a nest
That palpitates with unfledged birds;
  'Tis likest to Bethesda's stream,
Forewarned through all its thrilling springs,
  White with the angel's coming gleam,
And rippled with his fanning wings.

Hear him unfold his plots and plans,      70
And larger destinies seem man's;
You conjure from his glowing face
The omen of a fairer race;
With one grand trope he boldly spans
  The gulf wherein so many fall,
  'Twixt possible and actual;
His first swift word, talaria-shod,
Exuberant with conscious God,
Out of the choir of planets blots
The present earth with all its spots.      80

Himself unshaken as the sky,
His words, like whirlwinds, spin on high
  Systems and creeds pellmell together;
'Tis strange as to a deaf man's eye,
While trees uprooted splinter by,
  The dumb turmoil of stormy weather;
  Less of iconoclast than shaper,
His spirit, safe behind the reach
Of the tornado of his speech,
  Burns calmly as a glowworm's taper.      90

So great in speech, but, ah! in act
  So overrun with vermin troubles,
The coarse, sharp-cornered, ugly fact
  Of life collapses all his bubbles:
Had he but lived in Plato's day,
  He might, unless my fancy errs,
Have shared that golden voice's sway
  O'er barefooted philosophers.
Our nipping climate hardly suits
The ripening of ideal fruits:      100
His theories vanquish us all summer,
But winter makes him dumb and dumber;
To see him mid life's needful things
  Is something painfully bewildering;
He seems an angel with clipt wings
  Tied to a mortal wife and children,
And by a brother seraph taken
In the act of eating eggs and bacon.
Like a clear fountain, his desire
  Exults and leaps toward the light,      110
In every drop it says 'Aspire!'
  Striving for more ideal height;
And as the fountain, falling thence,
  Crawls baffled through the common gutter,
So, from his speech's eminence,
He shrinks into the present tense,
  Unkinged by foolish bread and butter.

Yet smile not, worldling, for in deeds
  Not all of life that's brave and wise is;
He strews an ampler future's seeds,      120
  'Tis your fault if no harvest rises;
Smooth back the sneer; for is it naught
  That all he is and has is Beauty's?
By soul the soul's gains must be wrought,
The Actual claims our coarser thought,
  The Ideal hath its higher duties.



ON A PORTRAIT OF DANTE BY GIOTTO

Can this be thou who, lean and pale,
  With such immitigable eye
Didst look upon those writhing souls in bale,
  And note each vengeance, and pass by
Unmoved, save when thy heart by chance
Cast backward one forbidden glance,
  And saw Francesca, with child's glee,
  Subdue and mount thy wild-horse knee
And with proud hands control its fiery prance?

With half-drooped lids, and smooth, round brow,
  And eye remote, that inly sees
Fair Beatrice's spirit wandering now
  In some sea-lulled Hesperides,
Thou movest through the jarring street,
Secluded from the noise of feet
  By her gift-blossom in thy hand,
  Thy branch of palm from Holy Land;--
No trace is here of ruin's fiery sleet.

Yet there is something round thy lips
  That prophesies the coming doom,
The soft, gray herald-shadow ere the eclipse
  Notches the perfect disk with gloom;
A something that would banish thee,
And thine untamed pursuer be,
  From men and their unworthy fates,
  Though Florence had not shut her gates,
And Grief had loosed her clutch and let thee free.

Ah! he who follows fearlessly
  The beckonings of a poet-heart
Shall wander, and without the world's decree,
  A banished man in field and mart;
Harder than Florence' walls the bar
Which with deaf sternness holds him far
  From home and friends, till death's release,
  And makes his only prayer for peace,
Like thine, scarred veteran of a lifelong war!



ON THE DEATH OF A FRIEND'S CHILD

Death never came so nigh to me before,
Nor showed me his mild face: oft had I mused
Of calm and peace and safe forgetfulness,
Of folded hands, closed eyes, and heart at rest,
And slumber sound beneath a flowery turf,
Of faults forgotten, and an inner place
Kept sacred for us in the heart of friends;
But these were idle fancies, satisfied
With the mere husk of this great mystery,
And dwelling in the outward shows of things.      10
Heaven is not mounted to on wings of dreams,
Nor doth the unthankful happiness of youth
Aim thitherward, but floats from bloom to bloom,
With earth's warm patch of sunshine well content:
'Tis sorrow builds the shining ladder up,
Whose golden rounds are our calamities,
Whereon our firm feet planting, nearer God
The spirit climbs, and hath its eyes unsealed.

True is it that Death's face seems stern and cold,
When he is sent to summon those we love,      20
But all God's angels come to us disguised;
Sorrow and sickness, poverty and death,
One after other lift their frowning masks,
And we behold the seraph's face beneath,
All radiant with the glory and the calm
Of having looked upon the front of God.
With every anguish of our earthly part
The spirit's sight grows clearer; this was meant
When Jesus touched the blind man's lids with clay.
Life is the jailer, Death the angel sent      30
To draw the unwilling bolts and set us free.
He flings not ope the ivory gate of Rest,--
Only the fallen spirit knocks at that,--
But to benigner regions beckons us,
To destinies of more rewarded toil.
In the hushed chamber, sitting by the dead,
It grates on us to hear the flood of life
Whirl rustling onward, senseless of our loss.
The bee hums on; around the blossomed vine
Whirs the light humming-bird; the cricket chirps;      40
The locust's shrill alarum stings the ear;
Hard by, the cock shouts lustily; from farm to farm,
His cheery brothers, telling of the sun,
Answer, till far away the joyance dies:
We never knew before how God had filled
The summer air with happy living sounds;
All round us seems an overplus of life,
And yet the one dear heart lies cold and still.
It is most strange, when the great miracle
Hath for our sakes been done, when we have had      50
Our inwardest experience of God,
When with his presence still the room expands,
And is awed after him, that naught is changed,
That Nature's face looks unacknowledging,
And the mad world still dances heedless on
After its butterflies, and gives no sign.
'Tis hard at first to see it all aright:
In vain Faith blows her trump to summon back
Her scattered troop: yet, through the clouded glass
Of our own bitter tears, we learn to look      60
Undazzled on the kindness of God's face;
Earth is too dark, and Heaven alone shines through.

It is no little thing, when a fresh soul
And a fresh heart, with their unmeasured scope
For good, not gravitating earthward yet,
But circling in diviner periods,
Are sent into the world,--no little thing,
When this unbounded possibility
Into the outer silence is withdrawn.
Ah, in this world, where every guiding thread      70
Ends suddenly in the one sure centre, death,
The visionary hand of Might-have-been
Alone can fill Desire's cup to the brim!

How changed, dear friend, are thy part and thy child's!
He bends above _thy_ cradle now, or holds
His warning finger out to be thy guide;
Thou art the nursling now; he watches thee
Slow learning, one by one, the secret things
Which are to him used sights of every day;
He smiles to see thy wondering glances con      80
The grass and pebbles of the spirit-world,
To thee miraculous; and he will teach
Thy knees their due observances of prayer.
Children are God's apostles, day by day
Sent forth to preach of love, and hope, and peace;
Nor hath thy babe his mission left undone.
To me, at least, his going hence hath given
Serener thoughts and nearer to the skies,
And opened a new fountain in my heart
For thee, my friend, and all: and oh, if Death      90
More near approaches meditates, and clasps
Even now some dearer, more reluctant hand,
God, strengthen thou my faith, that I may see
That 'tis thine angel, who, with loving haste,
Unto the service of the inner shrine,
Doth waken thy beloved with a kiss.



EURYDICE

Heaven's cup held down to me I drain,
The sunshine mounts and spurs my brain;
Bathing in grass, with thirsty eye
I suck the last drop of the sky;
With each hot sense I draw to the lees
The quickening out-door influences,
And empty to each radiant comer
A supernaculum of summer:
Not, Bacchus, all thy grosser juice
Could bring enchantment so profuse,      10
Though for its press each grape-bunch had
The white feet of an Oread.
Through our coarse art gleam, now and then,
The features of angelic men:
'Neath the lewd Satyr's veiling paint
Glows forth the Sibyl, Muse, or Saint;
The dauber's botch no more obscures
The mighty master's portraitures.
And who can say what luckier beam
The hidden glory shall redeem,      20
For what chance clod the soul may wait
To stumble on its nobler fate,
Or why, to his unwarned abode,
Still by surprises comes the God?
Some moment, nailed on sorrow's cross,
May meditate a whole youth's loss,
Some windfall joy, we know not whence,
Redeem a lifetime's rash expense,
And, suddenly wise, the soul may mark,      29
Stripped of their simulated dark,
Mountains of gold that pierce the sky,
Girdling its valleyed poverty.

I feel ye, childhood's hopes, return,
With olden heats my pulses burn,--
Mine be the self-forgetting sweep,
The torrent impulse swift and wild,
Wherewith Taghkanic's rockborn child
Dares gloriously the dangerous leap.
And, in his sky-descended mood,
Transmutes each drop of sluggish blood,      40
By touch of bravery's simple wand,
To amethyst and diamond,
Proving himself no bastard slip,
But the true granite-cradled one,
Nursed with the rock's primeval drip,
The cloud-embracing mountain's son!

Prayer breathed in vain I no wish's sway
Rebuilds the vanished yesterday;
For plated wares of Sheffield stamp
We gave the old Aladdin's lamp;
'Tis we are changed; ah, whither went          51
That undesigned abandonment,
That wise, unquestioning content,
Which could erect its microcosm
Out of a weed's neglected blossom,
Could call up Arthur and his peers
By a low moss's clump of spears,
Or, in its shingle trireme launched,
Where Charles in some green inlet-branched,
Could venture for the golden fleece             60
And dragon-watched Hesperides,
Or, from its ripple-shattered fate,
Ulysses' chances re-create?
When, heralding life's every phase,
There glowed a goddess-veiling haze,
A plenteous, forewarning grace,
Like that more tender dawn that flies
Before the full moon's ample rise?
Methinks thy parting glory shines
Through yonder grove of singing pines;              70
At that elm-vista's end I trace
Dimly thy sad leave-taking face,
Eurydice! Eurydice!
The tremulous leaves repeat to me
Eurydice! Eurydice!
No gloomier Orcus swallows thee
Than the unclouded sunset's glow;
Thine is at least Elysian woe;
Thou hast Good's natural decay,
And fadest like a star away           80
Into an atmosphere whose shine
With fuller day o'ermasters thine,
Entering defeat as 't were a shrine;
For us,--we turn life's diary o'er
To find but one word,--Nevermore.



SHE CAME AND WENT

As a twig trembles, which a bird
  Lights on to sing, then leaves unbent,
So is my memory thrilled and stirred;--
  I only know she came and went.

As clasps some lake, by gusts unriven,
  The blue dome's measureless content,--
So my soul held, that moment's heaven;--
  I only know she came and went.

As, at one bound, our swift spring heaps
  The orchards full of bloom and scent,
So clove her May my wintry sleeps;--
  I only know she came and went.

An angel stood and met my gaze,
  Through the low doorway of my tent;
The tent is struck, the vision stays;--
  I only know she came and went

Oh, when the room grows slowly dim,
  And life's last oil is nearly spent,
One gush of light these eyes will brim,
  Only to think she came and went.



THE CHANGELING

I had a little daughter,
  And she was given to me
To lead me gently backward
  To the Heavenly Father's knee,
That I, by the force of nature.
  Might in some dim wise divine
The depth of his infinite patience
  To this wayward soul of mine.

I know not how others saw her,
  But to me she was wholly fair,
And the light of the heaven she came from
  Still lingered and gleamed in her hair;
For it was as wavy and golden,
  And as many changes took,
As the shadows of sun-gilt ripples
  On the yellow bed of a brook.

To what can I liken her smiling
  Upon me, her kneeling lover,
How it leaped from her lips to her eyelids,
  And dimpled her wholly over,
Till her outstretched hands smiled also,
  And I almost seemed to see
The very heart of her mother
  Sending sun through her veins to me!

She had been with us scarce a twelvemonth,
  And it hardly seemed a day,
When a troop of wandering angels
  Stole my little daughter away;
Or perhaps those heavenly Zingari
  But loosed the hampering strings,
And when they had opened her cage-door.
  My little bird used her wings.

But they left in her stead a changeling
  A little angel child,
That seems like her bud in full blossom,
  And smiles as she never smiled:
When I wake in the morning, I see it
  Where she always used to lie,
And I feel as weak as a violet
  Alone 'neath the awful sky.

As weak, yet as trustful also;
  For the whole year long I see
All the wonders of faithful Nature
  Still worked for the love of me;
Winds wander, and dews drip earthward,
  Rain falls, suns rise and set,
Earth whirls, and all but to prosper
  A poor little violet.

This child is not mine as the first was,
  I cannot sing it to rest,
I cannot lift it up fatherly
  And bliss it upon my breast:
Yet it lies in my little one's cradle
  And sits in my little one's chair,
And the light of the heaven she's gone to
  Transfigures its golden hair.



THE PIONEER

  What man would live coffined with brick and stone,
    Imprisoned from the healing touch of air,
    And cramped with selfish landmarks everywhere,
When all before him stretches, furrowless and lone,
  The unmapped prairie none can fence or own?

  What man would read and read the self-same faces,
    And, like the marbles which the windmill grinds,
    Rub smooth forever with the same smooth minds,
This year retracing last year's, every year's, dull traces,
  When there are woods and unpenfolded spaces?

  What man o'er one old thought would pore and pore,
    Shut like a book between its covers thin
    For every fool to leave his dog's ears in,
When solitude is his, and God forevermore,
  Just for the opening of a paltry door?

  What man would watch life's oozy element
    Creep Letheward forever, when he might
    Down some great river drift beyond men's sight,
To where the undethroned forest's royal tent
  Broods with its hush o'er half a continent?

  What man with men would push and altercate,
    Piecing out crooked means to crooked ends,
    When he can have the skies and woods for friends,
Snatch back the rudder of his undismantled fate,
  And in himself be ruler, church, and state?

  Cast leaves and feathers rot in last year's nest,
    The wingèd brood, flown thence, new dwellings plan;
    The serf of his own Past is not a man;
To change and change is life, to move and never rest;--
  Not what we are, but what we hope, is best.

  The wild, free woods make no man halt or blind;
    Cities rob men of eyes and hands and feet,
    Patching one whole of many incomplete;
The general preys upon the individual mind,
  And each alone is helpless as the wind.

  Each man is some man's servant; every soul
    Is by some other's presence quite discrowned;
    Each owes the next through all the imperfect round,
Yet not with mutual help; each man is his own goal,
  And the whole earth must stop to pay him toll.

  Here, life the undiminished man demands;
    New faculties stretch out to meet new wants;
    What Nature asks, that Nature also grants;
Here man is lord, not drudge, of eyes and feet and hands,
  And to his life is knit with hourly bands.

  Come out, then, from the old thoughts and old ways,
    Before you harden to a crystal cold
    Which the new life can shatter, but not mould;
Freedom for you still waits, still looking backward, stays,
  But widens still the irretrievable space.



LONGING

Of all the myriad moods of mind
  That through the soul come thronging,
Which one was e'er so dear, so kind,
  So beautiful as Longing?
The thing we long for, that we are
  For one transcendent moment,
Before the Present poor and bare
  Can make its sneering comment.

Still, through our paltry stir and strife,
  Glows down the wished ideal,
And Longing moulds in clay what Life
  Carves in the marble Real;
To let the new life in, we know,
  Desire must ope the portal;
Perhaps the longing to be so
  Helps make the soul immortal.

Longing is God's fresh heavenward will.
  With our poor earthward striving;
We quench it that we may be still
  Content with merely living;
But, would we learn that heart's full scope
  Which we are hourly wronging,
Our lives must climb from hope to hope
  And realize our longing.

Ah! let us hope that to our praise
  Good God not only reckons
The moments when we tread his ways,
  But when the spirit beckons,--
That some slight good is also wrought
  Beyond self-satisfaction,
When we are simply good in thought,
  Howe'er we fail in action.



ODE TO FRANCE

FEBRUARY, 1848


I

As, flake by flake, the beetling avalanches
  Build up their imminent crags of noiseless snow,
Till some chance thrill the loosened ruin launches
  In unwarned havoc on the roofs below,
So grew and gathered through the silent years
  The madness of a People, wrong by wrong.
There seemed no strength in the dumb toiler's tears,
  No strength in suffering; but the Past was strong:
The brute despair of trampled centuries
  Leaped up with one hoarse yell and snapped its bands,     10
  Groped for its right with horny, callous hands,
And stared around for God with bloodshot eyes.
  What wonder if those palms were all too hard
For nice distinctions,--if that mænad throng--
  They whose thick atmosphere no bard
Had shivered with the lightning of his song,
  Brutes with the memories and desires of men,
  Whose chronicles were writ with iron pen,
    In the crooked shoulder and the forehead low,
    Set wrong to balance wrong,                             20
    And physicked woe with woe?


II

They did as they were taught; not theirs the blame,
If men who scattered firebrands reaped the flame:
  They trampled Peace beneath their savage feet,
    And by her golden tresses drew
  Mercy along the pavement of the street.
O Freedom! Freedom! is thy morning-dew
    So gory red? Alas, thy light had ne'er
    Shone in upon the chaos of their lair!
They reared to thee such symbol as they knew,               30
    And worshipped it with flame and blood,
    A Vengeance, axe in hand, that stood
Holding a tyrant's head up by the clotted hair.


III

What wrongs the Oppressor suffered, these we know;
  These have found piteous voice in song and prose;
But for the Oppressed, their darkness and their woe,
  Their grinding centuries,--what Muse had those?
Though hall and palace had nor eyes nor ears,
  Hardening a people's heart to senseless stone,
Thou knewest them, O Earth, that drank their tears,      40
  O Heaven, that heard their inarticulate moan!
They noted down their fetters, link by link;
Coarse was the hand that scrawled, and red the ink;
  Rude was their score, as suits unlettered men,
Notched with a headsman's axe upon a block:
What marvel if, when came the avenging shock,
  'Twas Atë, not Urania, held the pen?


IV

With eye averted, and an anguished frown,
  Loathingly glides the Muse through scenes of strife,
Where, like the heart of Vengeance up and down,          50
  Throbs in its framework the blood-muffled knife;
Slow are the steps of Freedom, but her feet
  Turn never backward: hers no bloody glare;
Her light is calm, and innocent, and sweet,
  And where it enters there is no despair:
Not first on palace and cathedral spire
Quivers and gleams that unconsuming fire;
  While these stand black against her morning skies,
The peasant sees it leap from peak to peak
  Along his hills; the craftsman's burning eyes          60
Own with cool tears its influence mother-meek;
  It lights the poet's heart up like a star;
  Ah! while the tyrant deemed it still afar,
And twined with golden threads his futile snare.
  That swift, convicting glow all round him ran;
'Twas close beside him there,
Sunrise whose Memnon is the soul of man.


V

O Broker-King, is this thy wisdom's fruit?
  A dynasty plucked out as 't were a weed
  Grown rankly in a night, that leaves no seed!          70
Could eighteen years strike down no deeper root?
  But now thy vulture eye was turned on Spain;
A shout from Paris, and thy crown falls off,
  Thy race has ceased to reign,
And thou become a fugitive and scoff:
Slippery the feet that mount by stairs of gold,
And weakest of all fences one of steel;
  Go and keep school again like him of old,
The Syracusan tyrant;--thou mayst feel
Royal amid a birch-swayed commonweal!                    80


VI

Not long can he be ruler who allows
  His time to run before him; thou wast naught
Soon as the strip of gold about thy brows
  Was no more emblem of the People's thought:
Vain were thy bayonets against the foe
  Thou hadst to cope with; thou didst wage
War not with Frenchmen merely;--no,
  Thy strife was with the Spirit of the Age,
The invisible Spirit whose first breath divine         89
    Scattered thy frail endeavor,
And, like poor last year's leaves, whirled thee and thine
      Into the Dark forever!


VII

  Is here no triumph? Nay, what though
The yellow blood of Trade meanwhile should pour
  Along its arteries a shrunken flow,
And the idle canvas droop around the shore?
      These do not make a state,
      Nor keep it great;
      I think God made
  The earth for man, not trade;    100
And where each humblest human creature
Can stand, no more suspicious or afraid,
Erect and kingly in his right of nature,
To heaven and earth knit with harmonious ties,--
  Where I behold the exultation
  Of manhood glowing in those eyes
    That had been dark for ages,
    Or only lit with bestial loves and rages,
    There I behold a Nation:
        The France which lies           110
    Between the Pyrenees and Rhine
  Is the least part of France;
I see her rather in the soul whose shine
Burns through the craftsman's grimy countenance,
    In the new energy divine
  Of Toil's enfranchised glance.


VIII

      And if it be a dream,
  If the great Future be the little Past
  'Neath a new mask, which drops and shows at last
  The same weird, mocking face to balk and blast,      120
Yet, Muse, a gladder measure suits the theme,
      And the Tyrtæan harp
    Loves notes more resolute and sharp,
Throbbing, as throbs the bosom, hot and fast:
    Such visions are of morning,
    Theirs is no vague forewarning,
The dreams which nations dream come true.
    And shape the world anew;
      If this be a sleep,      129
      Make it long, make it deep,
O Father, who-sendest the harvests men reap!
    While Labor so sleepeth,
      His sorrow is gone,
    No longer he weepeth,
    But smileth and steepeth
      His thoughts in the dawn;
    He heareth Hope yonder
      Rain, lark-like, her fancies,
    His dreaming hands wander
      Mid heart's-ease and pansies;      140
    ''Tis a dream! 'Tis a vision!'
      Shrieks Mammon aghast;
    'The day's broad derision
      Will chase it at last;
    Ye are mad, ye have taken
    A slumbering kraken
      For firm land of the Past!'
    Ah! if he awaken,
      God shield us all then,            149
    If this dream rudely shaken
      Shall cheat him again!


IX

  Since first I heard our Northwind blow,
  Since first I saw Atlantic throw
  On our grim rocks his thunderous snow,
  I loved thee, Freedom; as a boy
The rattle of thy shield at Marathon
      Did with a Grecian joy
      Through all my pulses run;
But I have learned to love thee now
Without the helm upon thy gleaming brow,          160
  A maiden mild and undefiled
Like her who bore the world's redeeming child;
  And surely never did thine altars glance
  With purer fires than now in France;
  While, in their clear white flashes,
    Wrong's shadow, backward cast,
  Waves cowering o'er the ashes
    Of the dead, blaspheming Past,
  O'er the shapes of fallen giants,
    His own unburied brood,                170
  Whose dead hands clench defiance
    At the overpowering Good:
And down the happy future runs a flood
    Of prophesying light;
It shows an Earth no longer stained with blood,
Blossom and fruit where now we see the bud
    Of Brotherhood and Right.



ANTI-APIS

Praisest Law, friend? We, too, love it much as they that love it best;
'Tis the deep, august foundation, whereon Peace and Justice rest;
On the rock primeval, hidden in the Past its bases be,
Block by block the endeavoring Ages built it up to what we see.

But dig down: the Old unbury; thou shalt find on every stone
That each Age hath carved the symbol of what god to them was known,
Ugly shapes and brutish sometimes, but the fairest that they knew;
If their sight were dim and earthward, yet their hope and aim were true.

Surely as the unconscious needle feels the far-off loadstar draw,
So strives every gracious nature to at-one itself with law;         10
And the elder Saints and Sages laid their pious framework right
By a theocratic instinct covered from the people's sight.

As their gods were, so their laws were; Thor the strong could reave and
  steal,
So through many a peaceful inlet tore the Norseman's eager keel;
But a new law came when Christ came, and not blameless, as before,
Can we, paying him our lip-tithes, give our lives and faiths to Thor.

Law is holy: ay, but what law? Is there nothing more divine
Than the patched-up broils of Congress, venal, full of meat and wine?
Is there, say you, nothing higher? Naught, God save us! that transcends
Laws of cotton texture, wove by vulgar men for vulgar ends?        20

Did Jehovah ask their counsel, or submit to them a plan,
Ere He filled with loves, hopes, longings, this aspiring heart of man?
For their edict does the soul wait, ere it swing round to the pole
Of the true, the free, the God-willed, all that makes it be a soul?

Law is holy; but not your law, ye who keep the tablets whole
While ye dash the Law to pieces, shatter it in life and soul;
Bearing up the Ark is lightsome, golden Apis hid within,
While we Levites share the offerings, richer by the people's sin.

Give to Cæsar what is Cæsar's? yes, but tell me, if you can,
Is this superscription Cæsar's here upon our brother man?           30
Is not here some other's image, dark and sullied though it be,
In this fellow-soul that worships, struggles Godward even as we?

It was not to such a future that the Mayflower's prow was turned,
Not to such a faith the martyrs clung, exulting as they burned;
Not by such laws are men fashioned, earnest, simple, valiant, great
In the household virtues whereon rests the unconquerable state.

Ah! there is a higher gospel, overhead the God-roof springs,
And each glad, obedient planet like a golden shuttle sings
Through the web which Time is weaving in his never-resting loom,
Weaving seasons many-colored, bringing prophecy to doom.            40

Think you Truth a farthing rushlight, to be pinched out when you will
With your deft official fingers, and your politicians' skill?
Is your God a wooden fetish, to be hidden out of sight
That his block eyes may not see you do the thing that is not right?

But the Destinies think not so; to their judgment-chamber lone
Comes no noise of popular clamor, there Fame's trumpet is not blown;
Your majorities they reck not; that you grant, but then you say
That you differ with them somewhat,--which is stronger, you or they?

Patient are they as the insects that build islands in the deep;
They hurl not the bolted thunder, but their silent way they keep;       50
Where they have been that we know; where empires towered that were
  not just;
Lo! the skulking wild fox scratches in a little heap of dust.



A PARABLE

Said Christ our Lord, 'I will go and see
How the men, my brethren, believe in me.'
He passed not again through the gate of birth,
But made himself known to the children of earth.

Then said the chief priests, and rulers, and kings,
'Behold, now, the Giver of all good things;
Go to, let us welcome with pomp and state
Him who alone is mighty and great.'

With carpets of gold the ground they spread
Wherever the Son of Man should tread,
And in palace-chambers lofty and rare
They lodged him, and served him with kingly fare.

Great organs surged through arches dim
Their jubilant floods in praise of him;
And in church, and palace, and judgment-hall,
He saw his own image high over all.

But still, wherever his steps they led,
The Lord in sorrow bent down his head,
And from under the heavy foundation-stones,
The son of Mary heard bitter groans.

And in church, and palace, and judgment-hall,
He marked great fissures that rent the wall,
And opened wider and yet more wide
As the living foundation heaved and sighed.

'Have ye founded your thrones and altars, then,
On the bodies and souls of living men?
And think ye that building shall endure,
Which shelters the noble and crushes the poor?

'With gates of silver and bars of gold
Ye have fenced my sheep from their Father's fold;
I have heard the dropping of their tears
In heaven these eighteen hundred years.'

'O Lord and Master, not ours the guilt,
We build but as our fathers built;
Behold thine images, how they stand,
Sovereign and sole, through all our land.

'Our task is hard,--with sword and flame
To hold thine earth forever the same,
And with sharp crooks of steel to keep
Still, as thou leftest them, thy sheep.'

Then Christ sought out an artisan,
A low-browed, stunted, haggard man,
And a motherless girl, whose fingers thin
Pushed from her faintly want and sin.

These set he in the midst of them,
And as they drew back their garment-hem,
For fear of defilement, 'Lo, here,' said he,
'The images ye have made of me!'



ODE

WRITTEN FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE INTRODUCTION OF THE COCHITUATE
WATER INTO THE CITY OF BOSTON

My name is Water: I have sped
  Through strange, dark ways, untried before,
By pure desire of friendship led,
  Cochituate's ambassador;
He sends four royal gifts by me:
Long life, health, peace, and purity.

I'm Ceres' cup-bearer; I pour,
  For flowers and fruits and all their kin,
Her crystal vintage, from of yore
  Stored in old Earth's selectest bin,
Flora's Falernian ripe, since God
The wine-press of the deluge trod.

In that far isle whence, iron-willed,
  The New World's sires their bark unmoored,
The fairies' acorn-cups I filled
  Upon the toadstool's silver board,
And, 'neath Herne's oak, for Shakespeare's sight,
Strewed moss and grass with diamonds bright.

No fairies in the Mayflower came,
  And, lightsome as I sparkle here,
For Mother Bay State, busy dame,
  I've toiled and drudged this many a year,
Throbbed in her engines' iron veins,
Twirled myriad spindles for her gains.

I, too, can weave: the warp I set
  Through which the sun his shuttle throws,
And, bright as Noah saw it, yet
  For you the arching rainbow glows,
A sight in Paradise denied
To unfallen Adam and his bride.

When Winter held me in his grip,
  You seized and sent me o'er the wave,
Ungrateful! in a prison-ship;
  But I forgive, not long a slave,
For, soon as summer south-winds blew,
Homeward I fled, disguised as dew.

For countless services I'm fit,
  Of use, of pleasure, and of gain,
But lightly from all bonds I flit,
  Nor lose my mirth, nor feel a stain;
From mill and wash-tub I escape,
And take in heaven my proper shape.

So, free myself, to-day, elate
  I come from far o'er hill and mead,
And here, Cochituate's envoy, wait
  To be your blithesome Ganymede,
And brim your cups with nectar true
That never will make slaves of you.



LINES

SUGGESTED BY THE GRAVES OF TWO ENGLISH SOLDIERS ON CONCORD BATTLE-GROUND

The same good blood that now refills
The dotard Orient's shrunken veins,
The same whose vigor westward thrills,
Bursting Nevada's silver chains,
Poured here upon the April grass,
Freckled with red the herbage new;
On reeled the battle's trampling mass,
Back to the ash the bluebird flew.

Poured here in vain;--that sturdy blood
Was meant to make the earth more green,
But in a higher, gentler mood
Than broke this April noon serene;
Two graves are here: to mark the place,
At head and foot, an unhewn stone,
O'er which the herald lichens trace
The blazon of Oblivion.

These men were brave enough, and true
To the hired soldier's bull-dog creed;
What brought them here they never knew,
They fought as suits the English breed:
They came three thousand miles, and died,
To keep the Past upon its throne:
Unheard, beyond the ocean tide,
Their English mother made her moan.

The turf that covers them no thrill
Sends up to fire the heart and brain;
No stronger purpose nerves the will,
No hope renews its youth again:
From farm to farm the Concord glides,
And trails my fancy with its flow;
O'erhead the balanced hen-hawk slides,
Twinned in the river's heaven below.

But go, whose Bay State bosom stirs,
Proud of thy birth and neighbor's right,
Where sleep the heroic villagers
Borne red and stiff from Concord fight;
Thought Reuben, snatching down his gun,
Or Seth, as ebbed the life away,
What earthquake rifts would shoot and run
World-wide from that short April fray?

What then? With heart and hand they wrought,
According to their village light;
'Twas for the Future that they fought,
Their rustic faith in what was right.
Upon earth's tragic stage they burst
Unsummoned, in the humble sock;
Theirs the fifth act; the curtain first
Rose long ago on Charles's block.

Their graves have voices; if they threw
Dice charged with fates beyond their ken,
Yet to their instincts they were true,
And had the genius to be men.
Fine privilege of Freedom's host,
Of humblest soldiers for the Right!--
Age after age ye hold your post,
Your graves send courage forth, and might.



TO----

We, too, have autumns, when our leaves
  Drop loosely through the dampened air,
When all our good seems bound in sheaves,
  And we stand reaped and bare.

Our seasons have no fixed returns,
  Without our will they come and go;
At noon our sudden summer burns,
  Ere sunset all is snow.

But each day brings less summer cheer,
  Crimps more our ineffectual spring,
And something earlier every year
  Our singing birds take wing.

As less the olden glow abides,
  And less the chillier heart aspires,
With drift-wood beached in past spring-tides
  We light our sullen fires.

By the pinched rushlight's starving beam
  We cower and strain our wasted sight,
To stitch youth's shroud up, seam by seam,
  In the long arctic night.

It was not so--we once were young
  When Spring, to womanly Summer turning,
Her dew-drops on each grass-blade strung,
  In the red sunrise burning.

We trusted then, aspired, believed
  That earth could be remade to-morrow;
Ah, why be ever undeceived?
  Why give up faith for sorrow?

O thou, whose days are yet all spring,
  Faith, blighted one, is past retrieving;
Experience is a dumb, dead thing;
  The victory's in believing.



FREEDOM

Are we, then, wholly fallen? Can it be
That thou, North wind, that from thy mountains bringest
Their spirit to our plains, and thou, blue sea,
Who on our rocks thy wreaths of freedom flingest,
As on an altar,--can it be that ye
Have wasted inspiration on dead ears,
Dulled with the too familiar clank of chains?
The people's heart is like a harp for years
Hung where some petrifying torrent rains
Its slow-incrusting spray: the stiffened chords      10
Faint and more faint make answer to the tears
That drip upon them: idle are all words:
Only a golden plectrum wakes the tone
Deep buried 'neath that ever-thickening stone.

We are not free: doth Freedom, then, consist
In musing with our faces toward the Past,
While petty cares and crawling interests twist
Their spider-threads about us, which at last
Grow strong as iron chains, to cramp and bind
In formal narrowness heart, soul and mind?           20
Freedom is re-created year by year,
In hearts wide open on the Godward side,
In souls calm-cadenced as the whirling sphere,
In minds that sway the future like a tide.
He broadest creeds can hold her, and no codes;
She chooses men for her august abodes,
Building them fair and fronting to the dawn;
Yet, when we seek her, we but find a few
Light footprints, leading mornward through the dew:
Before the day had risen, she was gone.      30

And we must follow: swiftly runs she on,
And, if our steps should slacken in despair,
Half turns her face, half smiles through golden hair,
Forever yielding, never wholly won:
That is not love which pauses in the race
Two close-linked names on fleeting sand to trace;
Freedom gained yesterday is no more ours;
Men gather but dry seeds of last year's flowers;
Still there's a charm uugranted, still a grace,
Still rosy Hope, the free, the unattained,      40
Makes us Possession's languid hand let fall;
'Tis but a fragment of ourselves is gained,
The Future brings us more, but never all.

And, as the finder of some unknown realm,
Mounting a summit whence he thinks to see
On either side of him the imprisoning sea,
Beholds, above the clouds that overwhelm
The valley-land, peak after snowy peak
Stretch out of sight, each like a silver helm
Beneath its plume of smoke, sublime and bleak,      50
And what he thought an island finds to be
A continent to him first oped,--so we
Can from our height of Freedom look along
A boundless future, ours if we be strong;
Or if we shrink, better remount our ships
And, fleeing God's express design, trace back
The hero-freighted Mayflower's prophet-track
To Europe entering her blood-red eclipse.

       *       *       *       *       *

Therefore of Europe now I will not doubt,
For the broad foreheads surely win the day,      60
And brains, not crowns or soul-gelt armies, weigh
In Fortune's scales: such dust she brushes out.
Most gracious are the conquests of the Word,
Gradual and silent as a flower's increase,
And the best guide from old to new is Peace--
Yet, Freedom, than canst sanctify the sword!

Bravely to do whate'er the time demands,
Whether with pen or sword, and not to flinch,
This is the task that fits heroic hands;
So are Truth's boundaries widened inch by inch.      70

I do not love the Peace which tyrants make;
The calm she breeds let the sword's lightning break!
It is the tyrants who have beaten out
Ploughshares and pruning-hooks to spears and swords,
And shall I pause and moralize and doubt?
Whose veins run water let him mete his words!
Each fetter sundered is the whole world's gain!
And rather than humanity remain
A pearl beneath the feet of Austrian swine,
Welcome to me whatever breaks a chain.      80
_That_ surely is of God, and all divine!



BIBLIOLATRES

Bowing thyself in dust before a Book,
And thinking the great God is thine alone,
O rash iconoclast, thou wilt not brook
What gods the heathen carves in wood and stone,
As if the Shepherd who from the outer cold
Leads all his shivering lambs to one sure fold
Were careful for the fashion of his crook.

There is no broken reed so poor and base,
No rush, the bending tilt of swamp-fly blue,
But He therewith the ravening wolf can chase,
And guide his flock to springs and pastures new;
Through ways unloosed for, and through many lands,
Far from the rich folds built with human hands,
The gracious footprints of his love I trace.

And what art thou, own brother of the clod,
That from his hand the crook wouldst snatch away
And shake instead thy dry and sapless rod,
To scare the sheep out of the wholesome day?
Yea, what art thou, blind, unconverted Jew,
That with thy idol-volume's covers two
Wouldst make a jail to coop the living God?

Thou hear'st not well the mountain organ-tone
By prophet ears from Hor and Sinai caught,
Thinking the cisterns of those Hebrew brains
Drew dry the springs of the All-knower's thought,
Nor shall thy lips be touched with living fire,
Who blow'st old altar-coals with sole desire
To weld anew the spirit's broken chains.

God is not dumb, that He should speak no more;
If thou hast wanderings in the wilderness
And find'st not Sinai, 'tis thy soul is poor;
There towers the Mountain of the Voice no less,
Which whoso seeks shall find, but he who bends,
Intent on manna still and mortal ends,
Sees it not, neither hears its thundered lore.

Slowly the Bible of the race is writ,
And not on paper leaves nor leaves of stone;
Each age, each kindred, adds a verse to it,
Texts of despair or hope, of joy or moan.
While swings the sea, while mists the mountains shroud,
While thunder's surges burst on cliffs and cloud,
Still at the prophets' feet the nations sit.



BEAVER BROOK

Hushed with broad sunlight lies the hill,
  And, minuting the long day's loss,
The cedar's shadow, slow and still,
  Creeps o'er its dial of gray moss.

Warm noon brims full the valley's cup,
  The aspen's leaves are scarce astir;
Only the little mill sends up
  Its busy, never-ceasing burr.

Climbing the loose-piled wall that hems
  The road along the mill-pond's brink,
From 'neath the arching barberry-stems,
  My footstep scares the shy chewink.

Beneath a bony buttonwood
  The mill's red door lets forth the din;
The whitened miller, dust-imbued,
  Flits past the square of dark within.

No mountain torrent's strength is here;
  Sweet Beaver, child of forest still,
Heaps its small pitcher to the ear,
  And gently waits the miller's will.

Swift slips Undine along the race
  Unheard, and then, with flashing bound,
Floods the dull wheel with light and grace,
  And, laughing, hunts the loath drudge round.

The miller dreams not at what cost
  The quivering millstones hum and whirl,
Nor how for every turn are tost
  Armfuls of diamond and of pearl.

But Summer cleared my happier eyes
  With drops of some celestial juice,
To see how Beauty underlies
  Forevermore each form of use.

And more; methought I saw that flood,
  Which now so dull and darkling steals,
Thick, here and there, with human blood,
  To turn the world's laborious wheels.

No more than doth the miller there,
  Shut in our several cells, do we
Know with what waste of beauty rare
  Moves every day's machinery.

Surely the wiser time shall come
  When this fine overplus of might,
No longer sullen, slow, and dumb,
  Shall leap to music and to light.

In that new childhood of the Earth
  Life of itself shall dance and play,
Fresh blood in Time's shrunk veins make mirth,
  And labor meet delight halfway.



MEMORIAL VERSES



KOSSUTH

A race of nobles may die out,
  A royal line may leave no heir;
Wise Nature sets no guards about
  Her pewter plate and wooden ware.

But they fail not, the kinglier breed,
  Who starry diadems attain;
To dungeon, axe, and stake succeed
  Heirs of the old heroic strain.

The zeal of Nature never cools,
  Nor is she thwarted of her ends;
When gapped and dulled her cheaper tools,
  Then she a saint and prophet spends.

Land of the Magyars! though it be
  The tyrant may relink his chain,
Already thine the victory,
  As the just Future measures gain.

Thou hast succeeded, thou hast won
  The deathly travail's amplest worth;
A nation's duty thou hast done,
  Giving a hero to our earth.

And he, let come what will of woe
  Hath saved the land he strove to save;
No Cossack hordes, no traitor's blow,
  Can quench the voice shall haunt his grave.

'I Kossuth am: O Future, thou
  That clear'st the just and blott'st the vile,
O'er this small dust in reverence bow,
  Remembering what I was erewhile.

'I was the chosen trump wherethrough
  Our God sent forth awakening breath;
Came chains? Came death? The strain He blew
  Sounds on, outliving chains and death.'



TO LAMARTINE

1848

I did not praise thee when the crowd,
    'Witched with the moment's inspiration,
Vexed thy still ether with hosannas loud,
    And stamped their dusty adoration;
  I but looked upward with the rest,
And, when they shouted Greatest, whispered Best.

They raised thee not, but rose to thee,
    Their fickle wreaths about thee flinging;
So on some marble Phoebus the swol'n sea
    Might leave his worthless seaweed clinging,
  But pious hands, with reverent care,
Make the pure limbs once more sublimely bare.

Now thou'rt thy plain, grand self again,
    Thou art secure from panegyric,
Thou who gav'st politics an epic strain,
    And actedst Freedom's noblest lyric;
  This side the Blessed Isles, no tree
Grows green enough to make a wreath for thee.

Nor can blame cling to thee; the snow
    From swinish footprints takes no staining,
But, leaving the gross soils of earth below,
    Its spirit mounts, the skies regaining,
  And unresentful falls again,
To beautify the world with dews and rain.

The highest duty to mere man vouchsafed
    Was laid on thee,--out of wild chaos,
When the roused popular ocean foamed and chafed
    And vulture War from his Imaus
  Snuffed blood, to summon homely Peace,
And show that only order is release.

To carve thy fullest thought, what though
    Time was not granted? Aye in history,
Like that Dawn's face which baffled Angelo
    Left shapeless, grander for its mystery,
  Thy great Design shall stand, and day
Flood its blind front from Orients far away.

Who says thy day is o'er? Control,
    My heart, that bitter first emotion;
While men shall reverence the steadfast soul,
    The heart in silent self-devotion
  Breaking, the mild, heroic mien,
Thou'lt need no prop of marble, Lamartine.

If France reject thee, 'tis not thine,
    But her own, exile that she utters;
Ideal France, the deathless, the divine,
    Will be where thy white pennon flutters,
  As once the nobler Athens went
With Aristides into banishment.

No fitting metewand hath To-day
    For measuring spirits of thy stature;
Only the Future can reach up to lay
    The laurel on that lofty nature,
  Bard, who with some diviner art
Hast touched the bard's true lyre, a nation's heart.

Swept by thy hand, the gladdened chords,
    Crashed now in discords fierce by others,
Gave forth one note beyond all skill of words,
    And chimed together, We are brothers.
  O poem unsurpassed! it ran
All round the world, unlocking man to man.

France is too poor to pay alone
    The service of that ample spirit;
Paltry seem low dictatorship and throne,
    Weighed with thy self-renouncing merit;
  They had to thee been rust and loss;
Thy aim was higher,--thou hast climbed a Cross!



TO JOHN GORHAM PALFREY

  There are who triumph in a losing cause,
Who can put on defeat, as 'twere a wreath
Unwithering in the adverse popular breath,
  Safe from the blasting demagogue's applause;
'Tis they who stand for Freedom and God's laws.

And so stands Palfrey now, as Marvell stood,
Loyal to Truth dethroned, nor could be wooed
  To trust the playful tiger's velvet paws:
And if the second Charles brought in decay
  Of ancient virtue, if it well might wring
Souls that had broadened 'neath a nobler day,
  To see a losel, marketable king
Fearfully watering with his realm's best blood
  Cromwell's quenched bolts, that erst had cracked and flamed,
Scaring, through all their depths of courtier mud,
  Europe's crowned bloodsuckers,--how more ashamed
Ought we to be, who see Corruption's flood
  Still rise o'er last year's mark, to mine away
  Our brazen idol's feet of treacherous clay!

O utter degradation! Freedom turned
  Slavery's vile bawd, to cozen and betray
  To the old lecher's clutch a maiden prey,
If so a loathsome pander's fee be earned!
  And we are silent,--we who daily tread
A soil sublime, at least, with heroes' graves!--
  Beckon no more, shades of the noble dead!
Be dumb, ye heaven-touched lips of winds and waves!
  Or hope to rouse some Coptic dullard, hid
Ages ago, wrapt stiffly, fold on fold,
With cerements close, to wither in the cold,
  Forever hushed, and sunless pyramid!

  Beauty and Truth, and all that these contain,
Drop not like ripened fruit about our feet;
  We climb to them through years of sweat and pain;
  Without long struggle, none did e'er attain
The downward look from Quiet's blissful seat:
  Though present loss may be the hero's part,
  Yet none can rob him of the victor heart
Whereby the broad-realmed future is subdued,
  And Wrong, which now insults from triumph's car,
  Sending her vulture hope to raven far,
Is made unwilling tributary of Good.

O Mother State, how quenched thy Sinai fires!
  Is there none left of thy stanch Mayflower breed?
No spark among the ashes of thy sires,
  Of Virtue's altar-flame the kindling seed?
Are these thy great men, these that cringe and creep,
  And writhe through slimy ways to place and power?--
How long, O Lord, before thy wrath shall reap
  Our frail-stemmed summer prosperings in their flower?
Oh for one hour of that undaunted stock
That went with Vane and Sidney to the block!

Oh for a whiff of Naseby, that would sweep,
  With its stern Puritan besom, all this chaff
  From the Lord's threshing-floor! Yet more than half
The victory is attained, when one or two,
  Through the fool's laughter and the traitor's scorn,
  Beside thy sepulchre can bide the morn,
Crucified Truth, when thou shalt rise anew.



TO W.L. GARRISON

'Some time afterward, it was reported to me by the city officers that
they had ferreted out the paper and its editor; that his office was an
obscure hole, his only visible auxiliary a negro boy, and his supporters
a few very insignificant persons of all colors.'--_Letter of H.G.
Otis_.

In a small chamber, friendless and unseen,
  Toiled o'er his types one poor, unlearned young man;
The place was dark, unfurnitured, and mean;
  Yet there the freedom of a race began.

Help came but slowly; surely no man yet
  Put lever to the heavy world with less:
What need of help? He knew how types were set,
  He had a dauntless spirit, and a press.

Such earnest natures are the fiery pith,
  The compact nucleus, round which systems grow;
Mass after mass becomes inspired therewith,
  And whirls impregnate with the central glow.

O Truth! O Freedom! how are ye still born
  In the rude stable, in the manger nurst!
What humble hands unbar those gates of morn
  Through which the splendors of the New Day burst!

What! shall one monk, scarce known beyond his cell,
  Front Rome's far-reaching bolts, and scorn her frown?
Brave Luther answered YES; that thunder's swell
  Rocked Europe, and discharmed the triple crown.

Whatever can be known of earth we know,
  Sneered Europe's wise men, in their snail-shells curled;
No! said one man in Genoa, and that No
  Out of the darkness summoned this New World.

Who is it will not dare himself to trust?
  Who is it hath not strength to stand alone?
Who is it thwarts and bilks the inward MUST?
  He and his works, like sand, from earth are blown.

Men of a thousand shifts and wiles, look here!
  See one straightforward conscience put in pawn
To win a world; see the obedient sphere
  By bravery's simple gravitation drawn!

Shall we not heed the lesson taught of old,
  And by the Present's lips repeated still,
In our own single manhood to be bold,
  Fortressed in conscience and impregnable will?

We stride the river daily at its spring,
  Nor, in our childless thoughtlessness, foresee
What myriad vassal streams shall tribute bring,
  How like an equal it shall greet the sea.

O small beginnings, ye are great and strong,
  Based on a faithful heart and weariless brain!
Ye build the future fair, ye conquer wrong,
  Ye earn the crown, and wear it not in vain.



ON THE DEATH OF CHARLES TURNER TORREY

Woe worth the hour when it is crime
  To plead the poor dumb bondman's cause,
When all that makes the heart sublime,
The glorious throbs that conquer time,
  Are traitors to our cruel laws!

He strove among God's suffering poor
  One gleam of brotherhood to send;
The dungeon oped its hungry door
To give the truth one martyr more,
  Then shut,--and here behold the end!

O Mother State! when this was done,
  No pitying throe thy bosom gave;
Silent thou saw'st the death-shroud spun,
And now thou givest to thy son
  The stranger's charity,--a grave.

Must it be thus forever? No!
  The hand of God sows not in vain,
Long sleeps the darkling seed below,
The seasons come, and change, and go,
  And all the fields are deep with grain.

Although our brother lie asleep,
  Man's heart still struggles, still aspires;
His grave shall quiver yet, while deep
Through the brave Bay State's pulses leap
  Her ancient energies and fires.

When hours like this the senses' gush
  Have stilled, and left the spirit room,
It hears amid the eternal hush
The swooping pinions' dreadful rush,
  That bring the vengeance and the doom;--

Not man's brute vengeance, such as rends
  What rivets man to man apart,--
God doth not so bring round his ends,
But waits the ripened time, and sends
  His mercy to the oppressor's heart.



ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF DR. CHANNING

I do not come to weep above thy pall,
  And mourn the dying-out of noble powers,
The poet's clearer eye should see, in all
  Earth's seeming woe, seed of immortal flowers.

Truth needs no champions: in the infinite deep
  Of everlasting Soul her strength abides,
From Nature's heart her mighty pulses leap,
  Through Nature's veins her strength, undying, tides.

Peace is more strong than war, and gentleness,
  Where force were vain, makes conquest o'er the wave;      10
And love lives on and hath a power to bless,
  When they who loved are hidden in the grave.

The sculptured marble brags of deathstrewn fields,
  And Glory's epitaph is writ in blood;
But Alexander now to Plato yields,
  Clarkson will stand where Wellington hath stood.

I watch the circle of the eternal years,
  And read forever in the storied page
One lengthened roll of blood, and wrong, and tears,
  One onward step of Truth from age to age.      20

The poor are crushed: the tyrants link their chain;
  The poet sings through narrow dungeon-grates;
Man's hope lies quenched; and, lo! with steadfast gain
  Freedom doth forge her mail of adverse fates.

Men slay the prophets; fagot, rack, and cross
  Make up the groaning record of the past;
But Evil's triumphs are her endless loss,
  And sovereign Beauty wins the soul at last.

No power can die that ever wrought for Truth;
  Thereby a law of Nature it became,      30
And lives unwithered in its blithesome youth,
  When he who called it forth is but a name.

Therefore I cannot think thee wholly gone;
  The better part of thee is with us still;
Thy soul its hampering clay aside hath thrown,
  And only freer wrestles with the ill.

Thou livest in the life of all good things;
  What words thou spak'st for Freedom shall not die;
Thou sleepest not, for now thy Love hath wings
  To soar where hence thy Hope could hardly fly.      40

And often, from that other world, on this
  Some gleams from great souls gone before may shine,
To shed on struggling hearts a clearer bliss,
  And clothe the Right with lustre more divine.

Thou art not idle: in thy higher sphere
  Thy spirit bends itself to loving tasks,
And strength to perfect what it dreamed of here
  Is all the crown and glory that it asks.

For sure, in Heaven's wide chambers, there is room
  For love and pity, and for helpful deeds;      50
Else were our summons thither but a doom
  To life more vain than this in clayey weeds.

From off the starry mountain-peak of song,
  Thy spirit shows me, in the coming time,
An earth unwithered by the foot of wrong,
  A race revering its own soul sublime.

What wars, what martyrdoms, what crimes, may come,
  Thou knowest not, nor I; but God will lead
The prodigal soul from want and sorrow home,
  And Eden ope her gates to Adam's seed.      60

Farewell! good man, good angel now! this hand
  Soon, like thine own, shall lose its cunning too;
Soon shall this soul, like thine, bewildered stand,
  Then leap to thread the free, unfathomed blue:

When that day comes, oh, may this hand grow cold,
  Busy, like thine, for Freedom and the Right;
Oh, may this soul, like thine, be ever bold
  To face dark Slavery's encroaching blight!

This laurel-leaf I cast upon thy bier;
  Let worthier hands than these thy wreath intwine;      70
Upon thy hearse I shed no useless tear,--
  For us weep rather thou in calm divine!



TO THE MEMORY OF HOOD

Another star 'neath Time's horizon dropped,
  To gleam o'er unknown lands and seas;
Another heart that beat for freedom stopped,--
  What mournful words are these!

O Love Divine, that claspest our tired earth,
  And lullest it upon thy heart,
Thou knowest how much a gentle soul is worth
  To teach men what thou art!

His was a spirit that to all thy poor
  Was kind as slumber after pain:
Why ope so soon thy heaven-deep Quiet's door
  And call him home again?

Freedom needs all her poets: it is they
  Who give her aspirations wings,
And to the wiser law of music sway
  Her wild imaginings.

Yet thou hast called him, nor art thou unkind,
  O Love Divine, for 'tis thy will
That gracious natures leave their love behind
  To work for Mercy still.

Let laurelled marbles weigh on other tombs,
  Let anthems peal for other dead,
Rustling the bannered depth of minster-glooms
  With their exulting spread.

His epitaph shall mock the short-lived stone,
  No lichen shall its lines efface,
He needs these few and simple lines alone
  To mark his resting-place:

'Here lies a Poet. Stranger, if to thee
  His claim to memory be obscure,
If thou wouldst learn how truly great was he,
  Go, ask it of the poor.'



THE VISION OF SIR LAUNFAL

According to the mythology of the Romancers, the San Greal, or Holy
Grail, was the cup out of which Jesus partook of the Last Supper with
his disciples. It was brought into England by Joseph of Arimathea, and
remained there, an object of pilgrimage and adoration, for many years in
the keeping of his lineal descendants. It was incumbent upon those who
had charge of it to be chaste in thought, word, and deed; but one of the
keepers having broken this condition, the Holy Grail disappeared. From
that time it was a favorite enterprise of the knights of Arthur's court
to go in search of it. Sir Galahad was at last successful in finding it,
as may be read in the seventeenth book of the Romance of King Arthur.
Tennyson has made Sir Galahad the subject of one of the most exquisite
of his poems.

The plot (if I may give that name to anything so slight) of the
following poem is my own, and, to serve its purposes, I have enlarged
the circle of competition in search of the miraculous cup in such a
manner as to include, not only other persons than the heroes of the
Round Table, but also a period of time subsequent to the supposed date
of King Arthur's reign.


PRELUDE TO PART FIRST

Over his keys the musing organist,
  Beginning doubtfully and far away,
First lets his fingers wander as they list,
  And builds a bridge from Dreamland for his lay:
Then, as the touch of his loved instrument
  Gives hope and fervor, nearer draws his theme,
First guessed by faint auroral flushes sent
  Along the wavering vista of his dream.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Not only around our infancy
  Doth heaven with all its splendors lie;      10
  Daily, with souls that cringe and plot,
  We Sinais climb and know it not.

Over our manhood bend the skies;
  Against our fallen and traitor lives
The great winds utter prophecies;
  With our faint hearts the mountain strives;
Its arms outstretched, the druid wood
  Waits with its benedicite;
And to our age's drowsy Wood
  Still shouts the inspiring sea.                     20

Earth gets its price for what Earth gives us;
  The beggar is taxed for a corner to die in,
The priest hath his lee who comes and shrives us,
  We bargain for the graves we lie in;
At the devil's booth are all things sold,
  Each ounce of dross costs its ounce of gold;
For a cap and bells our lives we pay,
  Bubbles we buy with a whole soul's tasking:
'Tis heaven alone that is given away,
  'Tis only God may be had for the asking             30
No price is set on the lavish summer;
  June may be had by the poorest comer.

And what is so rare as a day in June?
  Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
  And over it softly her warm ear lays;
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
  An instinct within it that reaches and towers,      40
And, groping blindly above it for light,
  Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers;
The flush of life may well be seen
  Thrilling back over hills and valleys;
The cowslip startles in meadows green,
  The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice,
And there's never a leaf nor a blade too mean
  To be some happy creature's palace;
The little bird sits at his door in the sun,
  Atilt like a blossom among the leaves,              50
And lets his illumined being o'errun
  With the deluge of summer it receives;
His mate feels the eggs beneath her wings,
  And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings;
He sings to the wide world, and she to her nest,--
  In the nice ear of Nature which song is the best?

Now is the high-tide of the year,
  And whatever of life hath ebbed away
Comes flooding back with a ripply cheer,
  Into every bare inlet and creek and bay;            60
Now the heart is so full that a drop overfills it,
We are happy now because God wills it;
No matter how barren the past may have been,
'Tis enough for us now that the leaves are green;
We sit in the warm shade and feel right well
How the sap creeps up and the blossoms swell;
We may shut our eyes, but we cannot help knowing
That skies are clear and grass is growing;
The breeze comes whispering in our ear,
That dandelions are blossoming near,                  70
  That maize has sprouted, that streams are flowing,
That the river is bluer than the sky,
That the robin is plastering his house hard by;
And if the breeze kept the good news back,
For other couriers we should not lack;
  We could guess it all by yon heifer's lowing,--
And hark! how clear bold chanticleer,
Warmed with the new wine of the year,
  Tells all in his lusty crowing!

Joy comes, grief goes, we know not how;               80
Everything is happy now,
  Everything is upward striving;
'Tis as easy now for the heart to be true
As for grass to be green or skies to be blue,--
  'Tis the natural way of living:
Who knows whither the clouds have fled?
  In the unscarred heaven they leave no wake;
And the eyes forget the tears they have shed,
  The heart forgets its sorrow and ache;
The soul partakes the season's youth,                 90
  And the sulphurous rifts of passion and woe
Lie deep 'neath a silence pure and smooth,
  Like burnt-out craters healed with snow.
What wonder if Sir Launfal now
Remembered the keeping of his vow?


PART FIRST


I

'My golden spurs now bring to me,
  And bring to me my richest mail,
For to-morrow I go over land and sea
  In search of the Holy Grail;
Shall never a bed for me be spread,                   100
Nor shall a pillow be under my head,
Till I begin my vow to keep;
Here on the rushes will I sleep,
And perchance there may come a vision true
Ere day create the world anew.'
  Slowly Sir Launfal's eyes grew dim,
  Slumber fell like a cloud on him,
And into his soul the vision flew.


II

The crows flapped over by twos and threes,
In the pool drowsed the cattle up to their knees,     110
  The little birds sang as if it were
  The one day of summer in all the year,
And the very leaves seemed to sing on the trees:
The castle alone in the landscape lay
Like an outpost of winter, dull and gray:
'Twas the proudest hall in the North Countree,
And never its gates might opened be,
Save to lord or lady of high degree;
Summer besieged it on every side,
But the churlish stone her assaults defied;           120
She could not scale the chilly wall,
Though around it for leagues her pavilions tall
Stretched left and right,
Over the hills and out of sight;
  Green and broad was every tent,
  And out of each a murmur went
Till the breeze fell off at night.


III

The drawbridge dropped with a surly clang,
And through the dark arch a charger sprang,
Bearing Sir Launfal, the maiden knight,               130
In his gilded mail, that flamed so bright
It seemed the dark castle had gathered all
Those shafts the fierce sun had shot over its wall
  In his siege of three hundred summers long,
And, binding them all in one blazing sheaf,
  Had cast them forth: so, young and strong,
And lightsome as a locust-leaf,
Sir Launfal flashed forth in his maiden mail,
To seek in all climes for the Holy Grail.


IV

It was morning on hill and stream and tree,           140
  And morning in the young knight's heart;
Only the castle moodily
Rebuffed the gifts of the sunshine free,
  And gloomed by itself apart;
The season brimmed all other things up
Full as the rain fills the pitcher-plant's cup.


V

As Sir Launfal made morn through the darksome gate,
  He was 'ware of a leper, crouched by the same,
Who begged with his hand and moaned as he sate;
  And a loathing over Sir Launfal came;               150
The sunshine went out of his soul with a thrill,
  The flesh 'neath his armor 'gan shrink and crawl,
And midway its leap his heart stood still
  Like a frozen waterfall;
For this man, so foul and bent of stature,
Rasped harshly against his dainty nature,
And seemed the one blot on the summer morn,--
So he tossed him a piece of gold in scorn.


VI

The leper raised not the gold from the dust:
'Better to me the poor man's crust,                   160
Better the blessing of the poor,
Though I turn me empty from his door;
That is no true alms which the hand can hold;
He gives only the worthless gold
  Who gives from a sense of duty;
But he who gives but a slender mite,
And gives to that which is out of sight,
  That thread of the all-sustaining Beauty
Which runs through all and doth all unite,--
The hand cannot clasp the whole of his alms,          170
The heart outstretches its eager palms,
For a god goes with it and makes it store
To the soul that was starving in darkness before.'



PRELUDE TO PART SECOND

Down swept the chill wind from the mountain peak,
  From the snow five thousand summers old;
On open wold and hilltop bleak
  It had gathered all the cold,
And whirled it like sleet on the wanderer's cheek;
It carried a shiver everywhere
From the unleafed boughs and pastures bare;      180
The little brook heard it and built a roof
'Neath which he could house him, winter-proof;
All night by the white stars' frosty gleams
He groined his arches and matched his beams;
Slender and clear were his crystal spars
As the lashes of light that trim the stars:
He sculptured every summer delight
In his halls and chambers out of sight;
Sometimes his tinkling waters slipt
Down through a frost-leaved forest-crypt,      190
Long, sparkling aisles of steel-stemmed trees
Bending to counterfeit a breeze;
Sometimes the roof no fretwork knew
But silvery mosses that downward grew;
Sometimes it was carved in sharp relief
With quaint arabesques of ice-fern leaf;
Sometimes it was simply smooth and clear
For the gladness of heaven to shine through, and here
He had caught the nodding bulrush-tops
And hung them thickly with diamond drops,     200
That crystalled the beams of moon and sun,
And made a star of every one:
No mortal builder's most rare device
Could match this winter-palace of ice;
'Twas as if every image that mirrored lay
In his depths serene through the summer day,
Each fleeting shadow of earth and sky,
Lest the happy model should be lost,
Had been mimicked in fairy masonry
By the elfin builders of the frost.     210

Within the hall are song and laughter,
  The cheeks of Christmas glow red and jolly,
And sprouting is every corbel and rafter
  With lightsome green of ivy and holly;
Through the deep gulf of the chimney wide
Wallows the Yule-log's roaring tide;
The broad flame-pennons droop and flap
  And belly and tug as a flag in the wind;
Like a locust shrills the imprisoned sap,
  Hunted to death in its galleries blind;     220
And swift little troops of silent sparks,
  Now pausing, now scattering away as in fear,
Go threading the soot-forest's tangled darks
  Like herds of startled deer.

But the wind without was eager and sharp,
Of Sir Launfal's gray hair it makes a harp,
    And rattles and wrings
    The icy strings,
  Singing, in dreary monotone,
  A Christmas carol of its own,     230
  Whose burden still, as he might guess,
  Was 'Shelterless, shelterless, shelterless!'
The voice of the seneschal flared like a torch
As he shouted the wanderer away from the porch,
And he sat in the gateway and saw all night
  The great hall-fire, so cheery and bold,
  Through the window-slits of the castle old,
Build out its piers of ruddy light
Against the drift of the cold.


PART SECOND


I

There was never a leaf on bush or tree,       240
The bare boughs rattled shudderingly;
The river was dumb and could not speak,
  For the weaver Winter its shroud had spun;
A single crow on the tree-top bleak
  From his shining feathers shed off the cold sun;
Again it was morning, but shrunk and cold,
As if her veins were sapless and old,
And she rose up decrepitly
For a last dim look at earth and sea.


II

Sir Launfal turned from his own hard gate,      250
For another heir in his earldom sate;
An old, bent man, worn out and frail,
He came back from seeking the Holy Grail;
Little he recked of his earldom's loss,
No more on his surcoat was blazoned the cross,
But deep in his soul the sign he wore,
The badge of the suffering and the poor.


III

Sir Launfal's raiment thin and spare
Was idle mail 'gainst the barbèd air,
For it was just at the Christmas time;         260
So he mused, as he sat, of a sunnier clime,
And sought for a shelter from cold and snow
In the light and warmth of long-ago;
He sees the snake-like caravan crawl
O'er the edge of the desert, black and small,
Then nearer and nearer, till, one by one,
He can count the camels in the sun,
As over the red-hot sands they pass
To where, in its slender necklace of grass,
The little spring laughed and leapt in the shade,      270
And with its own self like an infant played,
And waved its signal of palms.


IV

'For Christ's sweet sake, I beg an alms;'
The happy camels may reach the spring,
But Sir Launfal sees only the grewsome thing,
The leper, lank as the rain-blanched bone,
That cowers beside him, a thing as lone
And white as the ice-isles of Northern seas
In the desolate horror of his disease.


V

And Sir Launfal said, 'I behold in thee        280
An image of Him who died on the tree;
Thou also hast had thy crown of thorns,
Thou also hast had the world's buffets and scorns,
And to thy life were not denied
The wounds in the hands and feet and side:
Mild Mary's Son, acknowledge me;
Behold, through him, I give to thee!'


VI

Then the soul of the leper stood up in his eyes
 And looked at Sir Launfal, and straightway he
Remembered in what a haughtier guise             290
  He had flung an alms to leprosie,
When he girt his young life up in gilded mail
And set forth in search of the Holy Grail.
The heart within him was ashes and dust;
He parted in twain his single crust,
He broke the ice on the streamlet's brink,
And gave the leper to eat and drink.
'Twas a mouldy crust of coarse brown bread,
  'Twas water out of a wooden bowl,--
Yet with fine wheaten bread was the leper fed,          300
And 'twas red wine he drank with his thirsty soul.


VII

As Sir Launfal mused with a downcast face,
A light shone round about the place;
The leper no longer crouched at his side,
But stood before him glorified,
Shining and tall and fair and straight
As the pillar that stood by the Beautiful Gate,--
Himself the Gate whereby men can
Enter the temple of God in Man.


VIII

His words were shed softer than leaves from the pine,     310
And they fell on Sir Launfal as snows on the brine,
That mingle their softness and quiet in one
With the shaggy unrest they float down upon;
And the voice that was softer than silence said,
'Lo, it is I, be not afraid!
In many climes, without avail,
Thou hast spent thy life for the Holy Grail;
Behold, it is here,--this cup which thou
Didst fill at the streamlet for me but now;
This crust is my body broken for thee,          320
This water his blood that died on the tree;
The Holy Supper is kept, indeed,
In whatso we share with another's need;
Not what we give, but what we share,
For the gift without the giver is bare;
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three,
Himself, his hungering neighbor, and me.'


IX

Sir Launfal awoke as from a swound:
'The Grail in my castle here is found!
Hang my idle armor up on the wall,        330
Let it be the spider's banquet hall;
He must be fenced with stronger mail
Who would seek and find the Holy Grail.'


X

The castle gate stands open now,
  And the wanderer is welcome to the hall
As the hangbird is to the elm-tree bough;
  No longer scowl the turrets tall,
The Summer's long siege at last is o'er;
When the first poor outcast went in at the door,
She entered with him in disguise,
And mastered the fortress by surprise;        341
There is no spot she loves so well on ground,
She lingers and smiles there the whole year round;
The meanest serf on Sir Launfal's land
Has hall and bower at his command;
And there's no poor man in the North Countree
But is lord of the earldom as much as he.



LETTER FROM BOSTON

_December, 1846._

Dear M----
           By way of saving time,
I'll do this letter up in rhyme,
Whose slim stream through four pages flows
Ere one is packed with tight-screwed prose,
Threading the tube of an epistle,
Smooth as a child's breath through a whistle.

The great attraction now of all
Is the 'Bazaar' at Faneuil Hall,
Where swarm the anti-slavery folks
As thick, dear Miller, as your jokes.       10
There's GARRISON, his features very
Benign for an incendiary,
Beaming forth sunshine through his glasses
On the surrounding lads and lasses,
(No bee could blither be, or brisker,)--
A Pickwick somehow turned John Ziska,
His bump of firmness swelling up
Like a rye cupcake from its cup.
And there, too, was his English tea-set,        19
Which in his ear a kind of flea set,
His Uncle Samuel for its beauty
Demanding sixty dollars duty,
('Twas natural Sam should serve his trunk ill;
For G., you know, has cut his uncle,)
Whereas, had he but once made tea in't,
His uncle's ear had had the flea in't,
There being not a cent of duty
On any pot that ever drew tea.

There was MARIA CHAPMAN, too,
With her swift eyes of clear steel-blue,      30
The coiled-up mainspring of the Fair,
Originating everywhere
The expansive force without a sound
That whirls a hundred wheels around,
Herself meanwhile as calm and still
As the bare crown of Prospect Hill;
A noble woman, brave and apt,
Cumæan sibyl not more rapt,
Who might, with those fair tresses shorn,
The Maid of Orleans' casque have worn,           40
Herself the Joan of our Ark,
For every shaft a shining mark.

And there, too, was ELIZA FOLLEN,
Who scatters fruit-creating pollen
Where'er a blossom she can find
Hardy enough for Truth's north wind,
Each several point of all her face
Tremblingly bright with the inward grace,
As if all motion gave it light
Like phosphorescent seas at night.

There jokes our EDMUND, plainly son          51
Of him who bearded Jefferson,
A non-resistant by conviction,
But with a bump in contradiction,
So that whene'er it gets a chance
His pen delights to play the lance,
And--you may doubt it, or believe it--
Full at the head of Joshua Leavitt
The very calumet he'd launch,
And scourge him with the olive branch.         60
A master with the foils of wit,
'Tis natural he should love a hit;
A gentleman, withal, and scholar,
Only base things excite his choler,
And then his satire's keen and thin
As the lithe blade of Saladin.
Good letters are a gift apart,
And his are gems of Flemish art,
True offspring of the fireside Muse,
Not a rag-gathering of news              70
Like a new hopfield which is all poles,
But of one blood with Horace Walpole's.

There, with cue hand behind his back,
Stands PHILLIPS buttoned in a sack,
Our Attic orator, our Chatham;
Old fogies, when he lightens at 'em,
Shrivel like leaves; to him 'tis granted
Always to say the word that's wanted,
So that he seems but speaking clearer
The tiptop thought of every hearer;             80
Each flash his brooding heart lets fall
Fires what's combustible in all,
And sends the applauses bursting in
Like an exploded magazine.
His eloquence no frothy show,
The gutter's street-polluted flow,
No Mississippi's yellow flood
Whose shoalness can't be seen for mud;--
So simply clear, serenely deep,                89
So silent-strong its graceful sweep,
None measures its unrippling force
Who has not striven to stem its course;
How fare their barques who think to play
With smooth Niagara's mane of spray,
Let Austin's total shipwreck say.
He never spoke a word too much--
Except of Story, or some such,
Whom, though condemned by ethics strict,
The heart refuses to convict.

Beyond; a crater in each eye,                100
Sways brown, broad-shouldered PILLSBURY,
Who tears up words like trees by the roots,
A Theseus in stout cow-hide boots,
The wager of eternal war
Against that loathsome Minotaur
To whom we sacrifice each year
The best blood of our Athens here,
(Dear M., pray brush up your Lempriere.)
A terrible denouncer he,
Old Sinai burns unquenchably                      110
Upon his lips; he well might be a
Hot-blazing soul from fierce Judea,
Habakkuk, Ezra, or Hosea.
His words are red hot iron searers,
And nightmare-like he mounts his hearers,
Spurring them like avenging Fate, or
As Waterton his alligator.

Hard by, as calm as summer even,
Smiles the reviled and pelted STEPHEN,
The unappeasable Boanerges                     120
To all the Churches and the Clergies,
The grim _savant_ who, to complete
His own peculiar cabinet,
Contrived to label 'mong his kicks
One from the followers of Hicks;
Who studied mineralogy
Not with soft book upon the knee,
But learned the properties of stones
By contact sharp of flesh and bones,
And made the _experimentum crucis_            130
With his own body's vital juices;
A man with caoutchouc endurance,
A perfect gem for life insurance,
A kind of maddened John the Baptist,
To whom the harshest word comes aptest,
Who, struck by stone or brick ill-starred,
Hurls back an epithet as hard,
Which, deadlier than stone or brick,
Has a propensity to stick.
His oratory is like the scream                  140
Of the iron-horse's frenzied steam
Which warns the world to leave wide space
For the black engine's swerveless race.
Ye men with neckcloths white, I warn you--
_Habet_ a whole haymow _in cornu_.

A Judith, there, turned Quakeress,
Sits ABBY in her modest dress,
Serving a table quietly,
As if that mild and downcast eye
Flashed never, with its scorn intense,        150
More than Medea's eloquence.
So the same force which shakes its dread
Far-blazing blocks o'er Ætna's head,
Along the wires in silence fares
And messages of commerce bears.
No nobler gift of heart and brain,
No life more white from spot or stain,
Was e'er on Freedom's altar laid
Than hers, the simple Quaker maid.

These last three (leaving in the lurch          160
Some other themes) assault the Church,
Who therefore writes them in her lists
As Satan's limbs and atheists;
For each sect has one argument
Whereby the rest to hell are sent,
Which serve them like the Graiæ's tooth,
Passed round in turn from mouth to mouth;--
If any _ism_ should arise,
Then look on it with constable's eyes,      169
Tie round its neck a heavy _athe-_,
And give it kittens' hydropathy.
This trick with other (useful very) tricks
Is laid to the Babylonian _meretrix_,
But 'twas in vogue before her day
Wherever priesthoods had their way,
And Buddha's Popes with this struck dumb
The followers of Fi and Fum.

Well, if the world, with prudent fear
Pay God a seventh of the year,
And as a Farmer, who would pack
All his religion in one stack,      181
For this world works six days in seven
And idles on the seventh for Heaven,
Expecting, for his Sunday's sowing,
In the next world to go a-mowing
The crop of all his meeting-going;--
If the poor Church, by power enticed,
Finds none so infidel as Christ,
Quite backward reads his Gospel meek,
(As 'twere in Hebrew writ, not Greek,)      190
Fencing the gallows and the sword
With conscripts drafted from his word,
And makes one gate of Heaven so wide
That the rich orthodox might ride
Through on their camels, while the poor
Squirm through the scant, unyielding door,
Which, of the Gospel's straitest size,
Is narrower than bead-needles' eyes,
What wonder World and Church should call
The true faith atheistical?      200

Yet, after all, 'twixt you and me,
Dear Miller, I could never see
That Sin's and Error's ugly smirch
Stained the walls only of the Church;
There are good priests, and men who take
Freedom's torn cloak for lucre's sake;
I can't believe the Church so strong,
As some men do, for Right or Wrong,
But, for this subject (long and vext)
I must refer you to my next,      210
As also for a list exact
Of goods with which the Hall was packed.



READER! _walk up at once (it will soon be too late), and buy
at a perfectly ruinous rate._

A FABLE FOR CRITICS;

OR, BETTER--

_I like, as a thing that the reader's first fancy may strike,
an old fashioned title-page,
such as presents a tabular view of the volumes contents_,--

A GLANCE AT A FEW OF OUR LITERARY PROGENIES

(Mrs. Malaprop's Word)

FROM THE TUB OF DIOGENES;

A VOCAL AND MUSICAL MEDLEY,

THAT IS,

A SERIES OF JOKES

BY A WONDERFUL QUIZ


_Who accompanies himself with a rub-a-dub-dub, full of spirit and grace,
on the top of the tub._

SET FORTH IN

_October, the 21st day, in the year '48._

G.P. PUTNAM, BROADWAY.


It being the commonest mode of procedure, I premise a few candid remarks

TO THE READER:--

This trifle, begun to please only myself and my own private fancy, was
laid on the shelf. But some friends, who had seen it, induced me, by
dint of saying they liked it, to put it in print. That is, having come
to that very conclusion, I asked their advice when 'twould make no
confusion. For though (in the gentlest of ways) they had hinted it was
scarce worth the while, I should doubtless have printed it.

I began it, intending a Fable, a frail, slender thing, rhymeywinged,
with a sting in its tail. But, by addings and alterings not previously
planned, digressions chance-hatched, like birds' eggs in the sand, and
dawdlings to suit every whimsey's demand (always freeing the bird which
I held In my hand, for the two perched, perhaps out of reach, in the
tree),--it grew by degrees to the size which you see. I was like the old
woman that carried the calf, and my neighbors, like hers, no doubt,
wonder and laugh; and when, my strained arms with their grown burthen
full, I call it my Fable, they call it a bull.

Having scrawled at full gallop (as far as that goes) in a style that is
neither good verse nor bad prose, and being a person whom nobody knows,
some people will say I am rather more free with my readers than it is
becoming to be, that I seem to expect them to wait on my leisure in
following wherever I wander at pleasure, that, in short, I take more
than a young author's lawful ease, and laugh in a queer way so like
Mephistopheles, that the Public will doubt, as they grope through my
rhythm, if in truth I am making fun _of_ them or _with_ them.

So the excellent Public is hereby assured that the sale of my book is
already secured. For there is not a poet throughout the whole land but
will purchase a copy or two out of hand, in the fond expectation of
being amused in it, by seeing his betters cut up and abused in it. Now,
I find, by a pretty exact calculation, there are something like ten
thousand bards in the nation, of that special variety whom the Review
and Magazine critics call _lofty_ and _true_, and about thirty
thousand (_this_ tribe is increasing) of the kinds who are termed
_full of promise_ and _pleasing_. The Public will see by a glance
at this schedule, that they cannot expect me to be over-sedulous about
courting _them_, since it seems I have got enough fuel made sure of
for boiling my pot.

As for such of our poets as find not their names mentioned once in my
pages, with praises or blames, let them SEND IN THEIR CARDS, without
further DELAY, to my friend G.P. PUTNAM, Esquire, in Broadway, where a
LIST will be kept with the strictest regard to the day and the hour of
receiving the card. Then, taking them up as I chance to have time (that
is, if their names can be twisted in rhyme), I will honestly give each
his PROPER POSITION, at the rate of ONE AUTHOR to each NEW EDITION. Thus
a PREMIUM is offered sufficiently HIGH (as the magazines say when they
tell their best lie) to induce bards to CLUB their resources and buy the
balance of every edition, until they have all of them fairly been run
through the mill.

One word to such readers (judicious and wise) as read books with
something behind the mere eyes, of whom in the country, perhaps, there
are two, including myself, gentle reader, and you. All the characters
sketched in this slight _jeu d'esprit_, though, it may be, they seem,
here and there, rather free, and drawn from a somewhat too cynical
standpoint, are _meant_ to be faithful, for that is the grand point,
and none but an owl would feel sore at a rub from a jester who tells you,
without any subterfuge, that he sits in Diogenes' tub.



A PRELIMINARY NOTE TO THE SECOND EDITION.

Though it well may be reckoned, of all composition, the species at once
most delightful and healthy, is a thing which an author, unless he be
wealthy and willing to pay for that kind of delight, is not, in all
instances, called on to write, though there are, it is said, who, their
spirits to cheer, slip in a new title-page three times a year, and in
this way snuff up an imaginary savor of that sweetest of dishes, the
popular favor,--much as if a starved painter should fall to and treat
the Ugolino inside to a picture of meat.

You remember (if not, pray turn, backward and look) that, in writing the
preface which ushered my book, I treated you, excellent Public, not
merely with a cool disregard, but downright cavalierly. Now I would not
take back the least thing I then said, though I thereby could butter
both sides of my bread, for I never could see that an author owed aught
to the people he solaced, diverted, or taught; and, as for mere fame, I
have long ago learned that the persons by whom it is finally earned are
those with whom _your_ verdict weighed not a pin, unsustained by the
higher court sitting within.

But I wander from what I intended to say,--that you have, namely, shown
such a liberal way of thinking, and so much æsthetic perception of
anonymous worth in the handsome reception you gave to my book, spite of
some private piques (having bought the first thousand in barely two
weeks), that I think, past a doubt, if you measured the phiz of yours
most devotedly, Wonderful Quiz, you would find that its vertical section
was shorter, by an inch and two tenths, or 'twixt that and a quarter.

You have watched a child playing--in those wondrous years when belief is
not bound to the eyes and the ears, and the vision divine is so clear
and unmarred, that each baker of pies in the dirt is a bard? Give a
knife and a shingle, he fits out a fleet, and, on that little mud-puddle
over the street, his fancy, in purest good faith, will make sail round
the globe with a puff of his breath for a gale, will visit, in barely
ten minutes, all climes, and do the Columbus-feat hundreds of times. Or,
suppose the young poet fresh stored with delights from that Bible of
childhood, the Arabian Nights, he will turn to a crony and cry, 'Jack,
let's play that I am a Genius!' Jacky straightway makes Aladdin's lamp
out of a stone, and, for hours, they enjoy each his own supernatural
powers. This is all very pretty and pleasant, but then suppose our two
urchins, have grown into men, and both have turned authors,--one says to
his brother, 'Let's play we're the American somethings or other,--say
Homer or Sophocles, Goethe or Scott (only let them be big enough, no
matter what). Come, you shall be Byron or Pope, which you choose: I'll
be Coleridge, and both shall write mutual reviews.' So they both (as
mere strangers) before many days send each other a cord of anonymous
bays. Each piling his epithets, smiles in his sleeve to see what his
friend can be made to believe; each, reading the other's unbiased
review, thinks--Here's pretty high praise, but no more than my due.
Well, we laugh at them both, and yet make no great fuss when the same
farce is acted to benefit us. Even I, who, it asked, scarce a month
since, what Fudge meant, should have answered, the dear Public's
critical judgment, begin to think sharp-witted Horace spoke sooth when
he said that the Public _sometimes_ hit the truth.

In reading these lines, you perhaps have a vision of a person in pretty
good health and condition; and yet, since I put forth my primary
edition, I have been crushed, scorched, withered, used up and put down
(by Smith with the cordial assistance of Brown), in all, if you put any
faith in my rhymes, to the number of ninety-five several times, and,
while I am writing,--I tremble to think of it, for I may at this moment
be just on the brink of it,--Molybdostom, angry at being omitted, has
begun a critique,--am I not to be pitied?[1]

Now I shall not crush _them_ since, indeed, for that matter, no pressure
I know of could render them flatter; nor wither, nor scorch them,--no
action of fire could make either them or their articles drier; nor waste
time in putting them down--I am thinking not their own self-inflation
will keep them from sinking; for there's this contradiction about the
whole bevy,--though without the least weight, they are awfully heavy.
No, my dear honest bore, _surdo fabulam narras_, they are no more to me
than a rat in the arras. I can walk with the Doctor, get facts from the
Don, or draw out the Lambish quintessence of John, and feel nothing more
than a half-comic sorrow, to think that they all will be lying to-morrow
tossed carelessly up on the waste-paper shelves, and forgotten by all
but their half-dozen selves. Once snug in my attic, my fire in a roar, I
leave the whole pack of them outside the door. With Hakluyt or Purchas I
wander away to the black northern seas or barbaric Cathay; get _fou_
with O'Shanter, and sober me then with that builder of brick-kilnish
dramas, rare Ben; snuff Herbert, as holy as a flower on a grave; with
Fletcher wax tender, o'er Chapman grow brave; with Marlowe or Kyd take a
fine poet-rave; in Very, most Hebrew of Saxons, find peace; with Lycidas
welter on vext Irish seas; with Webster grow wild, and climb earthward
again, down by mystical Browne's Jacob's-ladder-like brain, to that
spiritual Pepys (Cotton's version) Montaigne; find a new depth in
Wordsworth, undreamed of before, that marvel, a poet divine who can
bore. Or, out of my study, the scholar thrown off, Nature holds up her
shield 'gainst the sneer and the scoff; the landscape, forever consoling
and kind, pours her wine and her oil on the smarts of the mind. The
waterfall, scattering its vanishing gems; the tall grove of hemlocks,
with moss on their stems, like plashes of sunlight; the pond in the
woods, where no foot but mine and the bittern's intrudes, where
pitcher-plants purple and gentians hard by recall to September the blue
of June's sky; these are all my kind neighbors, and leave me no wish to
say aught to you all, my poor critics, but--pish! I've buried the
hatchet: I'm twisting an allumette out of one of you now, and relighting
my calumet. In your private capacities, come when you please, I will
give you my hand and a fresh pipe apiece.

As I ran through the leaves of my poor little book, to take a fond
author's first tremulous look, it was quite an excitement to hunt the
_errata_, sprawled in as birds' tracks are in some kinds of strata (only
these made things crookeder). Fancy an heir that a father had seen born
well-featured and fair, turning suddenly wry-nosed, club-footed,
squint-eyed, hair-lipped, wapper-jawed, carrot-haired, from a pride
become an aversion,--my case was yet worse. A club-foot (by way of a
change) in a verse, I might have forgiven, an _o_'s being wry, a limp in
an _e_, or a cock in an _i_,--but to have the sweet babe of my brain
served in _pi!_ I am not queasy-stomached, but such a Thyestean banquet
as that was quite out of the question.

In the edition now issued no pains are neglected, and my verses, as
orators say, stand corrected. Yet some blunders remain of the public's
own make, which I wish to correct for my personal sake. For instance, a
character drawn in pure fun and condensing the traits of a dozen in one,
has been, as I hear, by some persons applied to a good friend of mine,
whom to stab in the side, as we walked along chatting and joking
together, would not be _my_ way. I can hardly tell whether a
question will ever arise in which he and I should by any strange fortune
agree, but meanwhile my esteem for him grows as I know him, and, though
not the best judge on earth of a poem, he knows what it is he is saying
and why, and is honest and fearless, two good points which I have not
found so rife I can easily smother my love for them, whether on my side
or t'other.

For my other _anonymi_, you may be sure that I know what is meant by a
caricature, and what by a portrait. There _are_ those who think it is
capital fun to be spattering their ink on quiet, unquarrelsome folk, but
the minute the game changes sides and the others begin it, they see
something savage and horrible in it. As for me I respect neither women
nor men for their gender, nor own any sex in a pen. I choose just to
hint to some causeless unfriends that, as far as I know, there are
always two ends (and one of them heaviest, too) to a staff, and two
parties also to every good laugh.



A FABLE FOR CRITICS


  Phoebus, sitting one day in a laurel-tree's shade,
Was reminded of Daphne, of whom it was made,
For the god being one day too warm in his wooing,
She took to the tree to escape his pursuing;
Be the cause what it might, from his offers she shrunk,
And, Ginevra-like, shut herself up in a trunk;
And, though 'twas a step into which he had driven her,
He somehow or other had never forgiven her;
Her memory he nursed as a kind of a tonic,
Something bitter to chew when he'd play the Byronic,      10
And I can't count the obstinate nymphs that he brought over
By a strange kind of smile he put on when he thought of her.
'My case is like Dido's,' he sometimes remarked;
'When I last saw my love, she was fairly embarked
In a laurel, as _she_ thought--but (ah, how Fate mocks!)
She has found it by this time a very bad box;
Let hunters from me take this saw when they need it,--
You're not always sure of your game when you've treed it.
Just conceive such a change taking place in one's mistress!
What romance would be left?--who can flatter or kiss trees?      20
And, for mercy's sake, how could one keep up a dialogue
With a dull wooden thing that will live and will die a log,--
Not to say that the thought would forever intrude
That you've less chance to win her the more she is wood?
Ah! it went to my heart, and the memory still grieves,
To see those loved graces all taking their leaves;
Those charms beyond speech, so enchanting but now,
As they left me forever, each making its bough!
If her tongue _had_ a tang sometimes more than was right,
Her new bark is worse than ten times her old bite.'      30

  Now, Daphne--before she was happily treeified--
Over all other blossoms the lily had deified,
And when she expected the god on a visit
('Twas before he had made his intentions explicit),
Some buds she arranged with a vast deal of care,
To look as if artlessly twined in her hair,
Where they seemed, as he said, when he paid his addresses,
Like the day breaking through, the long night of her tresses;
So whenever he wished to be quite irresistible,
Like a man with eight trumps in his hand at a whist-table      40
(I feared me at first that the rhyme was untwistable,
Though I might have lugged in an allusion to Cristabel),--
He would take up a lily, and gloomily look in it,
As I shall at the----, when they cut up my book in it.

  Well, here, after all the bad rhyme I've been spinning,
I've got back at last to my story's beginning:
Sitting there, as I say, in the shade of his mistress,
As dull as a volume of old Chester mysteries,
Or as those puzzling specimens which, in old histories,
We read of his verses--the Oracles, namely,--    50
(I wonder the Greeks should have swallowed them tamely,
For one might bet safely whatever he has to risk,
They were laid at his door by some ancient Miss Asterisk,
And so dull that the men who retailed them out-doors
Got the ill name of augurs, because they were bores,--)
First, he mused what the animal substance or herb is
Would induce a mustache, for you know he's _imberbis;_
Then he shuddered to think how his youthful position
Was assailed by the age of his son the physician;
At some poems he glanced, had been sent to him lately,      60
And the metre and sentiment puzzled him greatly;
'Mehercle! I'd make such proceeding felonious,--
Have they all of them slept in the cave of Trophonius?
Look well to your seat, 'tis like taking an airing
On a corduroy road, and that out of repairing;
It leads one, 'tis true, through the primitive forest,
Grand natural features, but then one has no rest;
You just catch a glimpse of some ravishing distance,
When a jolt puts the whole of it out of existence,--
Why not use their ears, if they happen to have any?'      70
--Here the laurel leaves murmured the name of poor Daphne.

  'Oh, weep with me, Daphne,' he sighed, 'for you know it's
A terrible thing to be pestered with poets!
But, alas, she is dumb, and the proverb holds good,
She never will cry till she's out of the wood!
What wouldn't I give if I never had known of her?
'Twere a kind of relief had I something to groan over:
If I had but some letters of hers, now, to toss over,
I might turn for the nonce a Byronic philosopher,
And bewitch all the flats by bemoaning the loss of her.      80
One needs something tangible, though, to begin on,--
A loom, as it were, for the fancy to spin on;
What boots all your grist? it can never be ground
Till a breeze makes the arms of the windmill go round;
(Or, if 'tis a water-mill, alter the metaphor,
And say it won't stir, save the wheel be well wet afore,
Or lug in some stuff about water "so dreamily,"--
It is not a metaphor, though, 'tis a simile);
A lily, perhaps, would set _my_ mill a-going,
For just at this season, I think, they are blowing.      90
Here, somebody, fetch one; not very far hence
They're in bloom by the score, 'tis but climbing a fence;
There's a poet hard by, who does nothing but fill his
Whole garden, from one end to t'other, with lilies;
A very good plan, were it not for satiety,
One longs for a weed here and there, for variety;
Though a weed is no more than a flower in disguise,
Which is seen through at once, if love give a man eyes.'

  Now there happened to be among Phoebus's followers,
A gentleman, one of the omnivorous swallowers,      100
Who bolt every book that comes out of the press,
Without the least question of larger or less,
Whose stomachs are strong at the expense of their head,--
For reading new books is like eating new bread,
One can bear it at first, but by gradual steps he
Is brought to death's door of a mental dyspepsy.
On a previous stage of existence, our Hero
Had ridden outside, with the glass below zero;
He had been, 'tis a fact you may safely rely on,
Of a very old stock a most eminent scion,--     110
A stock all fresh quacks their fierce boluses ply on,
Who stretch the new boots Earth's unwilling to try on,
Whom humbugs of all shapes and sorts keep their eye on,
Whose hair's in the mortar of every new Zion,
Who, when whistles are dear, go directly and buy one,
Who think slavery a crime that we must not say fie on,
Who hunt, if they e'er hunt at all, with the lion
(Though they hunt lions also, whenever they spy one),
Who contrive to make every good fortune a wry one,
And at last choose the hard bed of honor to die on,      120
Whose pedigree, traced to earth's earliest years,
Is longer than anything else but their ears,--
In short, he was sent into life with the wrong key,
He unlocked the door, and stept forth a poor donkey.
Though kicked and abused by his bipedal betters
Yet he filled no mean place in the kingdom of letters;
Far happier than many a literary hack,
He bore only paper-mill rags on his back
(For It makes a vast difference which side the mill
One expends on the paper his labor and skill);      130
So, when his soul waited a new transmigration,
And Destiny balanced 'twixt this and that station,
Not having much time to expend upon bothers,
Remembering he'd had some connection with authors,
And considering his four legs had grown paralytic,--
She set him on two, and he came forth a critic.

  Through his babyhood no kind of pleasure he took
In any amusement but tearing a book;
For him there was no intermediate stage
From babyhood up to straight-laced middle age;      140
There were years when he didn't wear coat-tails behind,
But a boy he could never be rightly defined;
like the Irish Good Folk, though in length scarce a span,
From the womb he came gravely, a little old man;
While other boys' trousers demanded the toil
Of the motherly fingers on all kinds of soil,
Red, yellow, brown, black, clayey, gravelly, loamy,
He sat in the corner and read Viri Romæ.
He never was known to unbend or to revel once
In base, marbles, hockey, or kick up the devil once;      150
He was just one of those who excite the benevolence
Of your old prigs who sound the soul's depths with a ledger,
And are on the lookout for some young men to 'edger-
cate,' as they call it, who won't be too costly,
And who'll afterward take to the ministry mostly;
Who always wear spectacles, always look bilious,
Always keep on good terms with each _mater-familias_
Throughout the whole parish, and manage to rear
Ten boys like themselves, on four hundred a year:
Who, fulfilling in turn the same fearful conditions,      160
Either preach through their noses, or go upon missions.

In this way our Hero got safely to college,
Where he bolted alike both his commons and knowledge;
A reading-machine, always wound up and going,
He mastered whatever was not worth the knowing,
Appeared in a gown, with black waistcoat of satin,
To spout such a Gothic oration in Latin
That Tully could never have made out a word in it
(Though himself was the model the author preferred in it),
And grasping the parchment which gave him in fee      170
All the mystic and-so-forths contained in A.B.,
He was launched (life is always compared to a sea)
With just enough learning, and skill for the using it,
To prove he'd a brain, by forever confusing it.
So worthy St. Benedict, piously burning
With the holiest zeal against secular learning,
_Nesciensque scienter_, as writers express it,
_Indoctusque sapienter a Roma recessit_.

  'Twould be endless to tell you the things that he knew,
Each a separate fact, undeniably true,     180
But with him or each other they'd nothing to do;
No power of combining, arranging, discerning,
Digested the masses he learned into learning;
There was one thing in life he had practical knowledge for
(And this, you will think, he need scarce go to college for),--
Not a deed would he do, nor a word would he utter,
Till he'd weighed its relations to plain bread and butter.
When he left Alma Mater, he practised his wits
In compiling the journals' historical bits,--
Of shops broken open, men falling in fits,     190
Great fortunes in England bequeathed to poor printers,
And cold spells, the coldest for many past winters,--
Then, rising by industry, knack, and address,
Got notices up for an unbiased press,
With a mind so well poised, it seemed equally made for
Applause or abuse, just which chanced to be paid for:
From this point his progress was rapid and sure,
To the post of a regular heavy reviewer.

  And here I must say he wrote excellent articles
On Hebraical points, or the force of Greek particles;     200
They filled up the space nothing else was prepared for,
And nobody read that which nobody cared for;
If any old book reached a fiftieth edition,
He could fill forty pages with safe erudition:
He could gauge the old books by the old set of rules,
And his very old nothings pleased very old fools;
But give him a new book, fresh out of the heart,
And you put him at sea without compass or chart,--
His blunders aspired to the rank of an art;
For his lore was engraft, something foreign that grew in him,     210
Exhausting the sap of the native and true in him,
So that when a man came with a soul that was new in him,
Carving new forms of truth out of Nature's old granite,
New and old at their birth, like Le Verrier's planet,
Which, to get a true judgment, themselves must create
In the soul of their critic the measure and weight,
Being rather themselves a fresh standard of grace,
To compute their own judge, and assign him his place,
Our reviewer would crawl all about it and round it,
And, reporting each circumstance just as he found it,     220
Without the least malice,--his record would be
Profoundly æsthetic as that of a flea,
Which, supping on Wordsworth, should print for our sakes,
Recollections of nights with the Bard of the Lakes,
Or, lodged by an Arab guide, ventured to render a
Comprehensive account of the ruins at Denderah.

  As I said, he was never precisely unkind.
The defect in his brain was just absence of mind;
If he boasted, 'twas simply that he was self-made,
A position which I, for one, never gainsaid,     230
My respect for my Maker supposing a skill
In his works which our Hero would answer but ill;
And I trust that the mould which he used may be cracked, or he,
Made bold by success, may enlarge his phylactery,
And set up a kind of a man-manufactory,--
An event which I shudder to think about, seeing
That Man is a moral, accountable being.

  He meant well enough, but was still in the way,
As dunces still are, let them be where they may;
Indeed, they appear to come into existence     240
To impede other folks with their awkward assistance;
If you set up a dunce on the very North pole
All alone with himself, I believe, on my soul,
He'd manage to get betwixt somebody's shins,
And pitch him down bodily, all in his sins,
To the grave polar bears sitting round on the ice,
All shortening their grace, to be in for a slice;
Or, if he found nobody else there to pother,
Why, one of his legs would just trip up the other,
For there's nothing we read of in torture's inventions,     250
Like a well-meaning dunce, with the best of intentions.

  A terrible fellow to meet in society,
Not the toast that he buttered was ever so dry at tea;
There he'd sit at the table and stir in his sugar,
Crouching close for a spring, all the while, like a cougar;
Be sure of your facts, of your measures and weights,
Of your time,--he's as fond as an Arab of dates;
You'll be telling, perhaps, in your comical way,
Of something you've seen in the course of the day;
And, just as you're tapering out the conclusion,     260
You venture an ill-fated classic allusion,--
The girls have all got their laughs ready, when, whack!
The cougar comes down on your thunderstruck back!
You had left out a comma,--your Greek's put in joint,
And pointed at cost of your story's whole point.
In the course of the evening, you find chance for certain
Soft speeches to Anne, in the shade of the curtain:
You tell her your heart can be likened to _one_ flower,
'And that, O most charming of women, 's the sunflower,
Which turns'--here a clear nasal voice, to your terror,     270
From outside the curtain, says, 'That's all an error.'
As for him, he's--no matter, he never grew tender,
Sitting after a ball, with his feet on the fender,
Shaping somebody's sweet features out of cigar smoke
(Though he'd willingly grant you that such doings are smoke);
All women he damns with _mutabile semper_,
And if ever he felt something like love's distemper,
'Twas tow'rds a young lady who spoke ancient Mexican,
And assisted her father in making a lexicon;
Though I recollect hearing him get quite ferocious      280
About Mary Clausum, the mistress of Grotius,
Or something of that sort,--but, no more to bore ye
With character-painting, I'll turn to my story.

  Now, Apollo, who finds it convenient sometimes
To get his court clear of the makers of rhymes,
The _genus_, I think it is called, _irritabile_,
Every one of whom thinks himself treated most shabbily,
And nurses a--what is it?--_immedicabile_,
Which keeps him at boiling-point, hot for a quarrel,
As bitter as wormwood, and sourer than sorrel,      290
If any poor devil but look at a laurel;--
Apollo, I say, being sick of their rioting
(Though he sometimes acknowledged their verse had a quieting
Effect after dinner, and seemed to suggest a
Retreat to the shrine of a tranquil siesta),
Kept our Hero at hand, who, by means of a bray,
Which he gave to the life, drove the rabble away;
And if that wouldn't do, he was sure to succeed,
If he took his review out and offered to read;
Or, failing in plans of this milder description,      300
He would ask for their aid to get up a subscription,
Considering that authorship wasn't a rich craft,
To print the 'American drama of Witchcraft.'
'Stay, I'll read you a scene,'--but he hardly began,
Ere Apollo shrieked 'Help!' and the authors all ran:
And once, when these purgatives acted with less spirit,
And the desperate case asked a remedy desperate,
He drew from his pocket a foolscap epistle
As calmly as if 'twere a nine-barrelled pistol,
And threatened them all with the judgment to come,      310
Of 'A wandering Star's first impressions of Rome.'
'Stop! stop!' with their hands o'er their ears, screamed the Muses,
'He may go off and murder himself, if he chooses,
'Twas a means self-defence only sanctioned his trying,
'Tis mere massacre now that the enemy's flying;
If he's forced to 't again, and we happen to be there,
Give us each a large handkerchief soaked in strong ether.'

  I called this a 'Fable for Critics;' you think it's
More like a display of my rhythmical trinkets;
My plot, like an icicle's slender and slippery,      320
Every moment more slender, and likely to slip awry,
And the reader unwilling _in loco desipere_
Is free to jump over as much of my frippery
As he fancies, and, if he's a provident skipper, he
May have like Odysseus control of the gales,
And get safe to port, ere his patience quite fails;
Moreover, although 'tis a slender return
For your toil and expense, yet my paper will burn,
And, if you have manfully struggled thus far with me,
You may e'en twist me up, and just light your cigar with me:      330
If too angry for that, you can tear me in pieces,
And my _membra disjecta_ consign to the breezes,
A fate like great Ratzau's, whom one of those bores,
Who beflead with bad verses poor Louis Quatorze,
Describes (the first verse somehow ends with _victoire_),
As _dispersant partout et ses membres et sa gloire;_
Or, if I were over-desirous of earning
A repute among noodles for classical learning,
I could pick you a score of allusions, i-wis,
As new as the jests of _Didaskalos tis;_      340
Better still, I could make out a good solid list
From authors recondite who do not exist,--
But that would be naughty: at least, I could twist
Something out of Absyrtus, or turn your inquiries
After Milton's prose metaphor, drawn from Osiris;
But, as Cicero says he won't say this or that
(A fetch, I must say, most transparent and flat),
After saying whate'er he could possibly think of,--
I simply will state that I pause on the brink of
A mire, ankle-deep, of deliberate confusion,      350
Made up of old jumbles of classic allusion:
So, when you were thinking yourselves to be pitied,
Just conceive how much harder your teeth you'd have gritted,
An 'twere not for the dulness I've kindly omitted.

  I'd apologize here for my many digressions.
Were it not that I'm certain to trip into fresh ones
('Tis so hard to escape if you get in their mesh once);
Just reflect, if you please, how 'tis said by Horatius,
That Mæonides nods now and then, and, my gracious!
It certainly does look a little bit ominous      360
When he gets under way with _ton d'apameibomenos_.
(Here a something occurs which I'll just clap a rhyme to,
And say it myself, ere a Zoilus have time to,--
Any author a nap like Van Winkle's may take,
If he only contrive to keep readers awake,
But he'll very soon find himself laid on the shelf,
If _they_ fall a-nodding when he nods himself.)

  Once for all, to return, and to stay, will I, nill I--
When Phoebus expressed his desire for a lily,
Our Hero, whose homoeopathic sagacity          370
With an ocean of zeal mixed his drop of capacity,
Set off for the garden as fast as the wind
(Or, to take a comparison more to my mind,
As a sound politician leaves conscience behind).
And leaped the low fence, as a party hack jumps
O'er his principles, when something else turns up trumps.

  He was gone a long time, and Apollo, meanwhile,
Went over some sonnets of his with a file,
For, of all compositions, he thought that the sonnet
Best repaid all the toil you expended upon it;      380
It should reach with one impulse the end of its course,
And for one final blow collect all of its force;
Not a verse should be salient, but each one should tend
With a wave-like up-gathering to break at the end;
So, condensing the strength here, there smoothing a wry kink,
He was killing the time, when up walked Mr. D----,
At a few steps behind him, a small man in glasses
Went dodging about, muttering, 'Murderers! asses!'
From out of his pocket a paper he'd take,
With a proud look of martyrdom tied to its stake,      390
And, reading a squib at himself, he'd say, 'Here I see
'Gainst American letters a bloody conspiracy,
They are all by my personal enemies written;
I must post an anonymous letter to Britain,
And show that this gall is the merest suggestion
Of spite at my zeal on the Copyright question,
For, on this side the water, 'tis prudent to pull
O'er the eyes of the public their national wool,
By accusing of slavish respect to John Bull
All American authors who have more or less      400
Of that anti-American humbug--success,
While in private we're always embracing the knees
Of some twopenny editor over the seas,
And licking his critical shoes, for you know 'tis
The whole aim of our lives to get one English notice;
My American puffs I would willingly burn all
(They're all from one source, monthly, weekly, diurnal)
To get but a kick from a transmarine journal!'

  So, culling the gibes of each critical scorner
As if they were plums, and himself were Jack Horner,      410
He came cautiously on, peeping round every corner,
And into each hole where a weasel might pass in,
Expecting the knife of some critic assassin,
Who stabs to the heart with a caricature.
Not so bad as those daubs of the Sun, to be sure,
Yet done with a dagger-o'-type, whose vile portraits
Disperse all one's good and condense all one's poor traits.

  Apollo looked up, hearing footsteps approaching,
And slipped out of sight the new rhymes he was broaching,--
'Good day, Mr. D----, I'm happy to meet      420
With a scholar so ripe, and a critic so neat,
Who through Grub Street the soul of a gentleman carries;
What news from that suburb of London and Paris
Which latterly makes such shrill claims to monopolize
The credit of being the New World's metropolis?'

  'Why, nothing of consequence, save this attack
On my friend there, behind, by some pitiful hack,
Who thinks every national author a poor one,
That isn't a copy of something that's foreign,      429
And assaults the American Dick--'

                                 Nay, 'tis clear
That your Damon there's fond of a flea in his ear,
And, if no one else furnished them gratis, on tick
He would buy some himself, just to hear the old click;
Why, I honestly think, if some fool in Japan
Should turn up his nose at the "Poems on Man,"
(Which contain many verses as fine, by the bye,
As any that lately came under my eye,)
Your friend there by some inward instinct would know it,
Would get it translated, reprinted, and show it;
As a man might take off a high stock to exhibit      440
The autograph round his own neck of the gibbet;
Nor would let it rest so, but fire column after column,
Signed Cato, or Brutus, or something as solemn,
By way of displaying his critical crosses,
And tweaking that poor transatlantic proboscis,
His broadsides resulting (this last there's no doubt of)
In successively sinking the craft they're fired out of.
Now nobody knows when an author is hit,
If he have not a public hysterical fit;
Let him only keep close in his snug garret's dim ether,      450
And nobody'd think of his foes--or of him either;
If an author have any least fibre of worth in him,
Abuse would but tickle the organ of mirth in him;
All the critics on earth cannot crush with their ban
One word that's in tune with the nature of man.'

  'Well, perhaps so; meanwhile I have brought you a book,
Into which if you'll just have the goodness to look,
You may feel so delighted (when once you are through it)
As to deem it not unworth your while to review it,
And I think I can promise your thoughts, if you do,      460
A place in the next Democratic Review.'

  'The most thankless of gods you must surely have thought me,
For this is the forty-fourth copy you've brought me;
I have given them away, or at least I have tried,
But I've forty-two left, standing all side by side
(The man who accepted that one copy died),--
From one end of a shelf to the other they reach,
"With the author's respects" neatly written in each.
The publisher, sure, will proclaim a Te Deum,
When he hears of that order the British Museum      470
Has sent for one set of what books were first printed
In America, little or big,--for 'tis hinted
That this is the first truly tangible hope he
Has ever had raised for the sale of a copy.
I've thought very often 'twould be a good thing
In all public collections of books, if a wing
Were set off by itself, like the seas from the dry lands,
Marked _Literature suited to desolate islands_,
And filled with such books as could never be read
Save by readers of proofs, forced to do it for bread,--     480
Such books as one's wrecked on in small country taverns,
Such as hermits might mortify over in caverns,
Such as Satan, if printing had then been invented,
As the climax of woe, would to Job have presented.
Such as Crusoe might dip in, although there are few so
Outrageously cornered by fate as poor Crusoe;
And since the philanthropists just now are banging
And gibbeting all who're in favor of hanging
(Though Cheever has proved that the Bible and Altar
Were let down from Heaven at the end of a halter.      490
And that vital religion would dull and grow callous,
Unrefreshed, now and then, with a sniff of the gallows),--
And folks are beginning to think it looks odd,
To choke a poor scamp for the glory of God;
And that He who esteems the Virginia reel
A bait to draw saints from their spiritual weal,
And regards the quadrille as a far greater knavery
Than crushing his African children with slavery,--
Since all who take part in a waltz or cotillon
Are mounted for hell on the Devil's own pillion,      500
Who, as every true orthodox Christian well knows,
Approaches the heart through the door of the toes,--
That He, I was saying, whose judgments are stored
For such as take steps in despite of his word,
Should look with delight on the agonized prancing
Of a wretch who has not the least ground for his dancing,
While the State, standing by, sings a verse from the Psalter
About offering to God on his favorite halter,
And, when the legs droop from their twitching divergence,
Sells the clothes to a Jew, and the corpse to the surgeons;--
Now, instead of all this, I think I can direct you all      511
To a criminal code both humane and effectual;--
I propose to shut up every doer of wrong
With these desperate books, for such term, short or long,
As, by statute in such cases made and provided,
Shall be by your wise legislators decided:
Thus: Let murderers be shut, to grow wiser and cooler,
At hard labor for life on the works of Miss----;
Petty thieves, kept from flagranter crimes by their fears,
Shall peruse Yankee Doodle a blank term of years,--    520
That American Punch, like the English, no doubt,--
Just the sugar and lemons and spirit left out.

  'But stay, here comes Tityrus Griswold, and leads on
The flocks whom he first plucks alive, and then feeds on,--
A loud-cackling swarm, in whose leathers warm drest,
He goes for as perfect a--swan as the rest.

  'There comes Emerson first, whose rich words, every one,
Are like gold nails in temples to hang trophies on,
Whose prose is grand verse, while his verse, the Lord knows,
Is some of it pr---- No, 'tis not even prose;      530
I'm speaking of metres; some poems have welled
From those rare depths of soul that have ne'er been excelled;
They're not epics, but that doesn't matter a pin,
In creating, the only hard thing's to begin;
A grass-blade's no easier to make than an oak;
If you've once found the way, you've achieved the grand stroke;
In the worst of his poems are mines of rich matter,
But thrown in a heap with a crash and a clatter;
Now it is not one thing nor another alone
Makes a poem, but rather the general tone,       540
The something pervading, uniting the whole,
The before unconceived, unconceivable soul,
So that just in removing this trifle or that, you
Take away, as it were, a chief limb of the statue;
Roots, wood, bark, and leaves singly perfect may be,
But, clapt hodge-podge together, they don't make a tree.

  'But, to come back to Emerson (whom, by the way,
I believe we left waiting),--his is, we may say,
A Greek head on right Yankee shoulders, whose range
Has Olympus for one pole, for t'other the Exchange;      550
He seems, to my thinking (although I'm afraid
The comparison must, long ere this, have been made),
A Plotinus-Montaigne, where the Egyptian's gold mist
And the Gascon's shrewd wit cheek-by-jowl coexist;
All admire, and yet scarcely six converts he's got
To I don't (nor they either) exactly know what;
For though he builds glorious temples, 'tis odd
He leaves never a doorway to get in a god.
'Tis refreshing to old-fashioned people like me
To meet such a primitive Pagan as he,      560
In whose mind all creation is duly respected
As parts of himself--just a little projected;
And who's willing to worship the stars and the sun,
A convert to--nothing but Emerson.
So perfect a balance there is in his head,
That he talks of things sometimes as if they were dead;
Life, nature, love, God, and affairs of that sort,
He looks at as merely ideas; in short,
As if they were fossils stuck round in a cabinet,
Of such vast extent that our earth's a mere dab in it;      570
Composed just as he is inclined to conjecture her,
Namely, one part pure earth, ninety-nine parts pure lecturer;
You are filled with delight at his clear demonstration,
Each figure, word, gesture, just fits the occasion,
With the quiet precision of science he'll sort 'em,
But you can't help suspecting the whole a _post mortem_.

  'There are persons, mole-blind to the soul's make and style,
Who insist on a likeness 'twixt him and Carlyle;
To compare him with Plato would be vastly fairer,
Carlyle's the more burly, but E. is the rarer;      580
He sees fewer objects, but clearlier, truelier,
If C.'s as original, E.'s more peculiar;
That he's more of a man you might say of the one,
Of the other he's more of an Emerson;
C.'s the Titan, as shaggy of mind as of limb,--
E. the clear-eyed Olympian, rapid and slim;
The one's two thirds Norseman, the other half Greek,
Where the one's most abounding, the other's to seek;
C.'s generals require to be seen in the mass,--
E.'s specialties gain if enlarged by the glass;      590
C. gives nature and God his own fits of the blues,
And rims common-sense things with mystical hues,--
E. sits in a mystery calm and intense,
And looks coolly around him with sharp common-sense;
C. shows you how every-day matters unite
With the dim transdiurnal recesses of night,--
While E., in a plain, preternatural way,
Makes mysteries matters of mere every day;
C. draws all his characters quite _à la_ Fuseli,--
Not sketching their bundles of muscles and thews illy,      600
He paints with a brush so untamed and profuse,
They seem nothing but bundles of muscles and thews;
E. is rather like Flaxman, lines strait and severe,
And a colorless outline, but full, round, and clear;--
To the men he thinks worthy he frankly accords
The design of a white marble statue in words.
C. labors to get at the centre, and then
Take a reckoning from there of his actions and men;
E. calmly assumes the said centre as granted,
And, given himself, has whatever is wanted.      610

  'He has imitators in scores, who omit
No part of the man but his wisdom and wit,--
Who go carefully o'er the sky-blue of his brain,
And when he has skimmed it once, skim it again;
If at all they resemble him, you may be sure it is
Because their shoals mirror his mists and obscurities,
As a mud-puddle seems deep as heaven for a minute,
While a cloud that floats o'er is reflected within it.

  'There comes----, for instance; to see him's rare sport,
Tread in Emerson's tracks with legs painfully short;      620
How he jumps, how he strains, and gets red in the face.
To keep step with the mystagogue's natural pace!
He follows as close as a stick to a rocket,
His fingers exploring the prophet's each pocket.
Fie, for shame, brother bard; with good fruit of your own,
Can't you let Neighbor Emerson's orchards alone?
Besides, 'tis no use, you'll not find e'en a core,--
---- has picked up all the windfalls before.
They might strip every tree, and E. never would catch 'em,
His Hesperides have no rude dragon to watch 'em;      630
When they send him a dishful, and ask him to try 'em,
He never suspects how the sly rogues came by 'em;
He wonders why 'tis there are none such his trees on,
And thinks 'em the best he has tasted this season.

  'Yonder, calm as a cloud, Alcott stalks in a dream,
And fancies himself in thy groves, Academe,
With the Parthenon nigh, and the olive-trees o'er him,
And never a fact to perplex him or bore him,
With a snug room at Plato's when night comes, to walk to,
And people from morning till midnight to talk to,      640
And from midnight till morning, nor snore in their listening;--
So he muses, his face with the joy of it glistening,
For his highest conceit of a happiest state is
Where they'd live upon acorns, and hear him talk gratis;
And indeed, I believe, no man ever talked better,--
Each sentence hangs perfectly poised to a letter;
He seems piling words, but there's royal dust hid
In the heart of each sky-piercing pyramid.
While he talks he is great, but goes out like a taper,
If you shut him up closely with pen, ink, and paper;      650
Yet his fingers itch for 'em from morning till night,
And he thinks he does wrong if he don't always write;
In this, as in all things, a lamb among men,
He goes to sure death when he goes to his pen.

  'Close behind him is Brownson, his mouth very full
With attempting to gulp a Gregorian bull;
Who contrives, spite of that, to pour out as he goes
A stream of transparent and forcible prose;
He shifts quite about, then proceeds to expound
That 'tis merely the earth, not himself, that turns round,
And wishes it clearly impressed on your mind       661
That the weathercock rules and not follows the wind;
Proving first, then as deftly confuting each side,
With no doctrine pleased that's not somewhere denied,
He lays the denier away on the shelf,
And then--down beside him lies gravely himself.
He's the Salt River boatman, who always stands willing
To convey friend or foe without charging a shilling,
And so fond of the trip that, when leisure's to spare,
He'll row himself up, if he can't get a fare.      670
The worst of it is, that his logic's so strong,
That of two sides he commonly chooses the wrong;
If there is only one, why, he'll split it in two,
And first pummel this half, then that, black and blue.
That white's white needs no proof, but it takes a deep fellow
To prove it jet-black, and that jet-black is yellow.
He offers the true faith to drink in a sieve,--
When it reaches your lips there's naught left to believe
But a few silly-(syllo-, I mean,)-gisms that squat 'em
Like tadpoles, o'erjoyed with the mud at the bottom.      680

  'There is Willis, all _natty_ and jaunty and gay,
Who says his best things in so foppish a way,
With conceits and pet phrases so thickly o'erlaying 'em,
That one hardly knows whether to thank him for saying 'em;
Over-ornament ruins both poem and prose,
Just conceive of a Muse with a ring in her nose!
His prose had a natural grace of its own,
And enough of it, too, if he'd let it alone;
But he twitches and jerks so, one fairly gets tired,
And is forced to forgive where one might have admired;      690
Yet whenever it slips away free and unlaced,
It runs like a stream with a musical waste,
And gurgles along with the liquidest sweep;--
'Tis not deep as a river, but who'd have it deep?
In a country where scarcely a village is found
That has not its author sublime and profound,
For some one to be slightly shallow's a duty,
And Willis's shallowness makes half his beauty.
His prose winds along with a blithe, gurgling error,
And reflects all of Heaven it can see in its mirror:      700
'Tis a narrowish strip, but it is not an artifice;
'Tis the true out-of-doors with its genuine hearty phiz;
It is Nature herself, and there's something in that,
Since most brains reflect but the crown of a hat.
Few volumes I know to read under a tree,
More truly delightful than his A l'Abri,
With the shadows of leaves flowing over your book,
Like ripple-shades netting the bed of a brook;
With June coming softly your shoulder to look over,
Breezes waiting to turn every leaf of your book over,      710
And Nature to criticise still as you read,--
The page that bears that is a rare one indeed.

  'He's so innate a cockney, that had he been born
Where plain bare-skin's the only full-dress that is worn,
He'd have given his own such an air that you'd say
'T had been made by a tailor to lounge in Broadway.
His nature's a glass of champagne with the foam on 't,
As tender as Fletcher, as witty as Beaumont;
So his best things are done in the flush of the moment;
If he wait, all is spoiled; he may stir it and shake it,      720
But, the fixed air once gone, he can never re-make it.
He might be a marvel of easy delightfulness,
If he would not sometimes leave the _r_ out of sprightfulness;
And he ought to let Scripture alone--'tis self-slaughter,
For nobody likes inspiration-and-water.
He'd have been just the fellow to sup at the Mermaid,
Cracking jokes at rare Ben, with an eye to the barmaid,
His wit running up as Canary ran down,--
The topmost bright bubble on the wave of The Town.

  'Here comes Parker, the Orson of parsons, a man      730
Whom the Church undertook to put under her ban
(The Church of Socinus, I mean),--his opinions
Being So-(ultra)-cinian, they shocked the Socinians:
They believed--faith, I'm puzzled--I think I may call
Their belief a believing in nothing at all,
Or something of that sort; I know they all went
For a general union of total dissent:
He went a step farther; without cough or hem,
He frankly avowed he believed not in them;
And, before he could be jumbled up or prevented,      740
From their orthodox kind of dissent he dissented.
There was heresy here, you perceive, for the right
Of privately judging means simply that light
Has been granted to _me_, for deciding on _you;_
And in happier times, before Atheism grew,
The deed contained clauses for cooking you too:
Now at Xerxes and Knut we all laugh, yet our foot
With the same wave is wet that mocked Xerxes and Knut,
And we all entertain a secure private notion,
That our _Thus far!_ will have a great weight with the ocean,
'Twas so with our liberal Christians: they bore      751
With sincerest conviction their chairs to the shore;
They brandished their worn theological birches,
Bade natural progress keep out of the Churches,
And expected the lines they had drawn to prevail
With the fast-rising tide to keep out of their pale;
They had formerly dammed the Pontifical See,
And the same thing, they thought, would do nicely for P.;
But he turned up his nose at their mumming and shamming,
And cared (shall I say?) not a d---- for their damming;      760
So they first read him out of their church, and next minute
Turned round and declared he had never been in it.
But the ban was too small or the man was too big,
For he recks not their bells, books, and candles a fig
(He scarce looks like a man who would _stay_ treated shabbily,
Sophroniscus' son's head o'er the features of Rabelais);--
He bangs and bethwacks them,--their backs he salutes
With the whole tree of knowledge torn up by the roots;
His sermons with satire are plenteously verjuiced,
And he talks in one breath of Confutzee, Cass, Zerduscht,      770
Jack Robinson, Peter the Hermit, Strap, Dathan,
Cush, Pitt (not the bottomless, _that_ he's no faith in),
Pan, Pillicock, Shakespeare, Paul, Toots, Monsieur Tonson,
Aldebaran, Alcander, Ben Khorat, Ben Jonson,
Thoth, Richter, Joe Smith, Father Paul, Judah Monis,
Musæus, Muretus, _hem_,--[Greek: m] Scorpionis,
Maccabee, Maccaboy, Mac--Mac--ah! Machiavelli,
Condorcet, Count d'Orsay, Conder, Say, Ganganelli,
Orion, O'Connell, the Chevalier D'O,
(See the Memoirs of Sully,) [Greek: to pan], the great toe      780
Of the statue of Jupiter, now made to pass
For that of Jew Peter by good Romish brass,
(You may add for yourselves, for I find it a bore,
All the names you have ever, or not, heard before,
And when you've done that--why, invent a few more).
His hearers can't tell you on Sunday beforehand,
If in that day's discourse they'll be Bibled or Koraned,
For he's seized the idea (by his martyrdom fired)
That all men (not orthodox) _may be_ inspired;
Yet though wisdom profane with his creed he may weave in,
He makes it quite clear what he _doesn't_ believe in,      791
While some, who decry him, think all Kingdom Come
Is a sort of a, kind of a, species of Hum,
Of which, as it were, so to speak, not a crumb
Would be left, if we didn't keep carefully mum,
And, to make a clean breast, that 'tis perfectly plain
That _all_ kinds of wisdom are somewhat profane;
Now P.'s creed than this may be lighter or darker,
But in one thing, 'tis clear, he has faith, namely--Parker;
And this is what makes him the crowd-drawing preacher,      800
There's a background of god to each hard-working feature,
Every word that he speaks has been fierily furnaced
In the blast of a life that has struggled in earnest:
There he stands, looking more like a ploughman than priest,
If not dreadfully awkward, not graceful at least,
His gestures all downright and same, if you will,
As of brown-fisted Hobnail in hoeing a drill;
But his periods fall on you, stroke after stroke,
Like the blows of a lumberer felling an oak,
You forget the man wholly, you're thankful to meet      810
With a preacher who smacks of the field and the street,
And to hear, you're not over-particular whence,
Almost Taylor's profusion, quite Latimer's sense.

  'There is Bryant, as quiet, as cool, and as dignified,
As a smooth, silent iceberg, that never is ignified,
Save when by reflection 'tis kindled o' nights
With a semblance of flame by the chill Northern Lights.
He may rank (Griswold says so) first bard of your nation
(There's no doubt that he stands in supreme iceolation),
Your topmost Parnassus he may set his heel on,      820
But no warm applauses come, peal following peal on,--
He's too smooth and too polished to hang any zeal on:
Unqualified merits, I'll grant, if you choose, he has 'em,
But he lacks the one merit of kindling enthusiasm;
If he stir you at all, it is just, on my soul,
Like being stirred up with the very North Pole.

  'He is very nice reading in summer, but _inter
Nos_, we don't want _extra_ freezing in winter;
Take him up in the depth of July, my advice is,
When you feel an Egyptian devotion to ices.      830
But, deduct all you can, there's enough that's right good in him,
He has a true soul for field, river, and wood in him;
And his heart, in the midst of brick walls, or where'er it is,
Glows, softens, and thrills with the tenderest charities--
To you mortals that delve in this trade-ridden planet?
No, to old Berkshire's hills, with their limestone and granite.
If you're one who _in loco_ (add _foco_ here) _desipis_,
You will get out of his outermost heart (as I guess) a piece;
But you'd get deeper down if you came as a precipice,
And would break the last seal of its inwardest fountain,      840
If you only could palm yourself off for a mountain.
Mr. Quivis, or somebody quite as discerning,
Some scholar who's hourly expecting his learning,
Calls B. the American Wordsworth; but Wordsworth
May be rated at more than your whole tuneful herd's worth.
No, don't be absurd, he's an excellent Bryant;
But, my friends, you'll endanger the life of your client,
By attempting to stretch him up into a giant;
If you choose to compare him, I think there are two per-
-sons fit for a parallel--Thomson and Cowper;[2]      850
I don't mean exactly,--there's something of each,
There's T.'s love of nature, C.'s penchant to preach;
Just mix up their minds so that C.'s spice of craziness
Shall balance and neutralize T.'s turn for laziness,
And it gives you a brain cool, quite frictionless, quiet,
Whose internal police nips the buds of all riot,--
A brain like a permanent strait-jacket put on
The heart that strives vainly to burst off a button,--
A brain which, without being slow or mechanic,
Does more than a larger less drilled, more volcanic;      860
He's a Cowper condensed, with no craziness bitten,
And the advantage that Wordsworth before him had written.

  'But, my dear little bardlings, don't prick up your ears
Nor suppose I would rank you and Bryant as peers;
If I call him an iceberg, I don't mean to say
There is nothing in that which is grand in its way;
He is almost the one of your poets that knows
How much grace, strength, and dignity lie in Repose;
If he sometimes fall short, he is too wise to mar
His thought's modest fulness by going too far;      870
'T would be well if your authors should all make a trial
Of what virtue there is in severe self-denial,
And measure their writings by Hesiod's staff,
Which teaches that all has less value than half.

  'There is Whittier, whose swelling and vehement heart
Strains the strait-breasted drab of the Quaker apart,
And reveals the live Man, still supreme and erect,
Underneath the bemummying wrappers of sect;
There was ne'er a man born who had more of the swing
Of the true lyric bard and all that kind of thing;      880
And his failures arise (though he seem not to know it)
From the very same cause that has made him a poet,--
A fervor of mind which knows no separation
'Twixt simple excitement and pure inspiration,
As my Pythoness erst sometimes erred from not knowing
If 'twere I or mere wind through her tripod was blowing;
Let his mind once get head in its favorite direction
And the torrent of verse bursts the dams of reflection,
While, borne with the rush of the metre along,
The poet may chance to go right or go wrong,      890
Content with the whirl and delirium of song;
Then his grammar's not always correct, nor his rhymes,
And he's prone to repeat his own lyrics sometimes,
Not his best, though, for those are struck off at white-heats
When the heart in his breast like a trip-hammer beats,
And can ne'er be repeated again any more
Than they could have been carefully plotted before:
Like old what's-his-name there at the battle of Hastings
(Who, however, gave more than mere rhythmical bastings),
Our Quaker leads off metaphorical fights      900
For reform and whatever they call human rights,
Both singing and striking in front of the war,
And hitting his foes with the mallet of Thor;
_Anne haec_, one exclaims, on beholding his knocks,
_Vestis filii tui_, O leather-clad Fox?
Can that be thy son, in the battle's mid din,
Preaching brotherly love and then driving it in
To the brain of the tough old Goliath of sin,
With the smoothest of pebbles from Castaly's spring
Impressed on his hard moral sense with a sling?      910

  'All honor and praise to the right-hearted bard
Who was true to The Voice when such service was hard,
Who himself was so free he dared sing for the slave
When to look but a protest in silence was brave;
All honor and praise to the women and men
Who spoke out for the dumb and the down-trodden then!
It needs not to name them, already for each
I see History preparing the statue and niche;
They were harsh, but shall _you_ be so shocked at hard words
Who have beaten your pruning-hooks up into swords,      920
Whose rewards and hurrahs men are surer to gain
By the reaping of men and of women than grain?
Why should _you_ stand aghast at their fierce wordy war, if
You scalp one another for Bank or for Tariff?
Your calling them cut-throats and knaves all day long
Doesn't prove that the use of hard language is wrong;
While the World's heart beats quicker to think of such men
As signed Tyranny's doom with a bloody steel-pen,
While on Fourth-of-Julys beardless orators fright one
With hints at Harmodius and Aristogeiton,                 930
You need not look shy at your sisters and brothers
Who stab with sharp words for the freedom of others;--
No, a wreath, twine a wreath for the loyal and true
Who, for sake of the many, dared stand with the few,
Not of blood-spattered laurel for enemies braved,
But of broad, peaceful oak-leaves for citizens saved!

  'Here comes Dana, abstractedly loitering along,
Involved in a paulo-post-future of song,
Who'll be going to write what'll never be written
Till the Muse, ere he think of it, gives him the mitten,--   940
Who is so well aware of how things should be done,
That his own works displease him before they're begun,--
Who so well all that makes up good poetry knows,
That the best of his poems is written in prose;
All saddled and bridled stood Pegasus waiting,
He was booted and spurred, but he loitered debating;
In a very grave question his soul was immersed,--
Which foot in the stirrup he ought to put first:
And, while this point and that he judicially dwelt on,
He, somehow or other, had written Paul Felton,              950
Whose beauties or faults, whichsoever you see there,
You'll allow only genius could hit upon either.
That he once was the Idle Man none will deplore,
But I fear he will never be anything more;
The ocean of song heaves and glitters before him,
The depth and the vastness and longing sweep o'er him.
He knows every breaker and shoal on the chart,
He has the Coast Pilot and so on by heart,
Yet he spends his whole life, like the man in the fable,
In learning to swim on his library table.               960

  'There swaggers John Neal, who has wasted in Maine
The sinews and cords of his pugilist brain,
Who might have been poet, but that, in its stead, he
Preferred to believe that he was so already;
Too hasty to wait till Art's ripe fruit should drop,
He must pelt down an unripe and colicky crop;
Who took to the law, and had this sterling plea for it,
It required him to quarrel, and paid him a fee for it;
A man who's made less than he might have, because
He always has thought himself more than he was,--    970
Who, with very good natural gifts as a bard,
Broke the strings of his lyre out by striking too hard,
And cracked half the notes of a truly fine voice,
Because song drew less instant attention than noise.
Ah, men do not know how much strength is in poise,
That he goes the farthest who goes far enough,
And that all beyond that is just bother and stuff.
No vain man matures, he makes too much new wood;
His blooms are too thick for the fruit to be good;
'Tis the modest man ripens, 'tis he that achieves,      980
Just what's needed of sunshine and shade he receives;
Grapes, to mellow, require the cool dark of their leaves;
Neal wants balance; he throws his mind always too far,
Whisking out flocks of comets, but never a star;
He has so much muscle, and loves so to show it,
That he strips himself naked to prove he's a poet,
And, to show he could leap Art's wide ditch, if he tried,
Jumps clean o'er it, and into the hedge t'other side.
He has strength, but there's nothing about him in keeping;
One gets surelier onward by walking than leaping;      990
He has used his own sinews himself to distress,
And had done vastly more had he done vastly less;
In letters, too soon is as bad as too late;
Could he only have waited he might have been great;
But he plumped into Helicon up to the waist,
And muddied the stream ere he took his first taste.

  'There is Hawthorne, with genius so shrinking and rare
That you hardly at first see the strength that is there;
A frame so robust, with a nature so sweet,
So earnest, so graceful, so lithe and so fleet,      1000
Is worth a descent from Olympus to meet;
'Tis as if a rough oak that for ages had stood,
With his gnarled bony branches like ribs of the wood,
Should bloom, after cycles of struggle and scathe,
With a single anemone trembly and rathe;
His strength is so tender, his wildness so meek,
That a suitable parallel sets one to seek,--
He's a John Bunyan Fouque, a Puritan Tieck;
When Nature was shaping him, clay was not granted
For making so full-sized a man as she wanted,      1010
So, to fill out her model, a little she spared
From some finer-grained stuff for a woman prepared,
And she could not have hit a more excellent plan
For making him fully and perfectly man.
The success of her scheme gave her so much delight,
That she tried it again, shortly after, in Dwight;
Only, while she was kneading and shaping the clay,
She sang to her work in her sweet childish way,
And found, when she'd put the last touch to his soul,
That the music had somehow got mixed with the whole.      1020

  'Here's Cooper, who's written six volumes to show
He's as good as a lord: well, let's grant that he's so;
If a person prefer that description of praise,
Why, a coronet's certainly cheaper than bays;
But he need take no pains to convince us he's not
(As his enemies say) the American Scott.
Choose any twelve men, and let C. read aloud
That one of his novels of which he's most proud,
And I'd lay any bet that, without ever quitting
Their box, they'd be all, to a man, for acquitting.      1030
He has drawn you one character, though, that is new,
One wildflower he's plucked that is wet with the dew
Of this fresh Western world, and, the thing not to mince,
He has done naught but copy it ill ever since;
His Indians, with proper respect be it said,
Are just Natty Bumppo, daubed over with red,
And his very Long Toms are the same useful Nat,
Rigged up in duck pants and a sou'wester hat
(Though once in a Coffin, a good chance was found
To have slipped the old fellow away underground).      1040
All his other men-figures are clothes upon sticks,
The _dernière chemise_ of a man in a fix
(As a captain besieged, when his garrison's small,
Sets up caps upon poles to be seen o'er the wall);
And the women he draws from one model don't vary.
All sappy as maples and flat as a prairie.
When a character's wanted, he goes to the task
As a cooper would do in composing a cask;
He picks out the staves, of their qualities heedful,
Just hoops them together as tight as is needful,      1050
And, if the best fortune should crown the attempt, he
Has made at the most something wooden and empty.

  'Don't suppose I would underrate Cooper's abilities;
If I thought you'd do that, I should feel very ill at ease;
The men who have given to _one_ character life
And objective existence are not very rife;
You may number them all, both prose-writers and singers,
Without overrunning the bounds of your fingers,
And Natty won't go to oblivion quicker
Than Adams the parson or Primrose the vicar.      1060

  'There is one thing in Cooper I like, too, and that is
That on manners he lectures his countrymen gratis;
Not precisely so either, because, for a rarity,
He is paid for his tickets in unpopularity.
Now he may overcharge his American pictures,
But you'll grant there's a good deal of truth in his strictures;
And I honor the man who is willing to sink
Half his present repute for the freedom to think,
And, when he has thought, be his cause strong or weak,
Will risk t'other half for the freedom to speak,      1070
Caring naught for what vengeance the mob has in store,
Let that mob be the upper ten thousand or lower.

  'There are truths you Americans need to be told,
And it never'll refute them to swagger and scold;
John Bull, looking o'er the Atlantic, in choler
At your aptness for trade, says you worship the dollar;
But to scorn such eye-dollar-try's what very few do,
And John goes to that church as often as you do,
No matter what John says, don't try to outcrow him,
'Tis enough to go quietly on and outgrow him;      1080
Like most fathers, Bull hates to see Number One
Displacing himself in the mind of his son,
And detests the same faults in himself he'd neglected
When he sees them again in his child's glass reflected;
To love one another you're too like by half;
If he is a bull, you're a pretty stout calf,
And tear your own pasture for naught but to show
What a nice pair of horns you're beginning to grow.

  'There are one or two things I should just like to hint,
For you don't often get the truth told you in print;      1090
The most of you (this is what strikes all beholders)
Have a mental and physical stoop in the shoulders;
Though you ought to be free as the winds and the waves,
You've the gait and the manners of runaway slaves;
Though you brag of your New World, you don't half believe in it;
And as much of the Old as is possible weave in it;
Your goddess of freedom, a tight, buxom girl,
With lips like a cherry and teeth like a pearl,
With eyes bold as Herë's, and hair floating free,
And full of the sun as the spray of the sea,      1100
Who can sing at a husking or romp at a shearing,
Who can trip through the forests alone without fearing,
Who can drive home the cows with a song through the grass,
Keeps glancing aside into Europe's cracked glass.
Hides her red hands in gloves, pinches up her lithe waist,
And makes herself wretched with transmarine taste;
She loses her fresh country charm when she takes
Any mirror except her own rivers and lakes.

  'You steal Englishmen's books and think Englishmen's thought,
With their salt on her tail your wild eagle is caught;      1110
Your literature suits its each whisper and motion
To what will be thought of it over the ocean;
The cast clothes of Europe your statesmanship tries
And mumbles again the old blarneys and lies;--
Forget Europe wholly, your veins throb with blood,
To which the dull current in hers is but mud:
Let her sneer, let her say your experiment fails,
In her voice there's a tremble e'en now while she rails,
And your shore will soon be in the nature of things
Covered thick with gilt drift-wood of castaway kings,      1120
Where alone, as it were in a Longfellow's Waif,
Her fugitive pieces will find themselves safe.
O my friends, thank your god, if you have one, that he
'Twixt the Old World and you set the gulf of a sea;
Be strong-backed, brown-handed, upright as your pines,
By the scale of a hemisphere shape your designs,
Be true to yourselves and this new nineteenth age,
As a statue by Powers, or a picture by Page,
Plough, sail, forge, build, carve, paint, make all over new,
To your own New-World instincts contrive to be true,      1130
Keep your ears open wide to the Future's first call,
Be whatever you will, but yourselves first of all,
Stand fronting the dawn on Toil's heaven-scaling peaks,
And become my new race of more practical Greeks.--
Hem! your likeness at present, I shudder to tell o't,
Is that you have your slaves, and the Greek had his helot.'

  Here a gentleman present, who had in his attic
More pepper than brains, shrieked, 'The man's a fanatic,
I'm a capital tailor with warm tar and feathers,
And will make him a suit that'll serve in all weathers;      1140
But we'll argue the point first, I'm willing to reason 't,
Palaver before condemnation's but decent:
So, through my humble person, Humanity begs
Of the friends of true freedom a loan of bad eggs.'
But Apollo let one such a look of his show forth
As when [Greek: aeie nukti eoikios], and so forth,
And the gentleman somehow slunk out of the way,
But, as he was going, gained courage to say,--
'At slavery in the abstract my whole soul rebels,
I am as strongly opposed to 't as any one else.'      1150
'Ay, no doubt, but whenever I've happened to meet
With a wrong or a crime, it is always concrete,'
Answered Phoebus severely; then turning to us,
'The mistake of such fellows as just made the fuss
Is only in taking a great busy nation
For a part of their pitiful cotton-plantation.--
But there comes Miranda, Zeus! where shall I flee to?
She has such a penchant for bothering me too!
She always keeps asking if I don't observe a
Particular likeness 'twixt her and Minerva;      1160
She tells me my efforts in verse are quite clever;--
She's been travelling now, and will be worse than ever;
One would think, though, a sharp-sighted noter she'd be
Of all that's worth mentioning over the sea,
For a woman must surely see well, if she try,
The whole of whose being's a capital I:
She will take an old notion, and make it her own,
By saying it o'er in her Sibylline tone,
Or persuade you 'tis something tremendously deep,
By repeating it so as to put you to sleep;      1170
And she well may defy any mortal to see through it,
When once she has mixed up her infinite _me_ through it.
There is one thing she owns in her own single right,
It is native and genuine--namely, her spite;
Though, when acting as censor, she privately blows
A censer of vanity 'neath her own nose.'

  Here Miranda came up, and said, 'Phoebus! you know
That the Infinite Soul has its infinite woe,
As I ought to know, having lived cheek by jowl,
Since the day I was born, with the Infinite Soul;      1180
I myself introduced, I myself, I alone,
To my Land's better life authors solely my own,
Who the sad heart of earth on their shoulders have taken,
Whose works sound a depth by Life's quiet unshaken,
Such as Shakespeare, for instance, the Bible, and Bacon,
Not to mention my own works; Time's nadir is fleet,
And, as for myself, I'm quite out of conceit'--

  'Quite out of conceit! I'm enchanted to hear it,'
Cried Apollo aside. 'Who'd have thought she was near it?
To be sure, one is apt to exhaust those commodities      1190
One uses too fast, yet in this case as odd it is
As if Neptune should say to his turbots and whitings,
"I'm as much out of salt as Miranda's own writings"
(Which, as she in her own happy manner has said,
Sound a depth, for 'tis one of the functions of lead).
She often has asked me if I could not find
A place somewhere near me that suited her mind;
I know but a single one vacant, which she,
With her rare talent that way, would fit to a T.
And it would not imply any pause or cessation      1200
In the work she esteems her peculiar vocation,--
She may enter on duty to-day, if she chooses,
And remain Tiring-woman for life to the Muses.'

  Miranda meanwhile has succeeded in driving
Up into a corner, in spite of their striving,
A small flock of terrified victims, and there,
With an I-turn-the-crank-of-the-Universe air
And a tone which, at least to _my_ fancy, appears
Not so much to be entering as boxing your ears,
Is unfolding a tale (of herself, I surmise,      1210
For 'tis dotted as thick as a peacock's with I's),
_Apropos_ of Miranda, I'll rest on my oars
And drift through a trifling digression on bores,
For, though not wearing ear-rings _in more majorum_,
Our ears are kept bored just as if we still wore 'em.
There was one feudal custom worth keeping, at least,
Roasted bores made a part of each well-ordered feast,
And of all quiet pleasures the very _ne plus_
Was in hunting wild bores as the tame ones hunt us.
Archæologians, I know, who have personal fears      1220
Of this wise application of hounds and of spears,
Have tried to make out, with a zeal more than wonted,
'Twas a kind of wild swine that our ancestors hunted;
But I'll never believe that the age which has strewn
Europe o'er with cathedrals, and otherwise shown
That it knew what was what, could by chance not have known
(Spending, too, its chief time with its buff on, no doubt)
Which beast 'twould improve the world most to thin out.
I divide bores myself, in the manner of rifles,
Into two great divisions, regardless of trifles:--     1230
There's your smooth-bore and screw-bore, who do not much vary
In the weight of cold lead they respectively carry.
The smooth-bore is one in whose essence the mind
Not a corner nor cranny to cling by can find;
You feel as in nightmares sometimes, when you slip
Down a steep slated roof, where there's nothing to grip;
You slide and you slide, the blank horror increases,--
You had rather by far be at once smashed to pieces;
You fancy a whirlpool below white and frothing,
And finally drop off and light upon--nothing.      1240
The screw-bore has twists in him, faint predilections
For going just wrong in the tritest directions;
When he's wrong he is flat, when he's right he can't show it,
He'll tell you what Snooks said about the new poet,[3]
Or how Fogrum was outraged by Tennyson's Princess;
He has spent all his spare time and intellect since his
Birth in perusing, on each art and science,
Just the books in which no one puts any reliance,
And though _nemo_, we're told, _horis omnibus sapit_,
The rule will not fit him, however you shape it,      1250
For he has a perennial foison of sappiness;
He has just enough force to spoil half your day's happiness,
And to make him a sort of mosquito to be with,
But just not enough to dispute or agree with.

  These sketches I made (not to be too explicit)
From two honest fellows who made me a visit,
And broke, like the tale of the Bear and the Fiddle,
My reflections on Halleck short off by the middle;
I sha'n't now go into the subject more deeply,
For I notice that some of my readers look sleep'ly;      1260
I will barely remark that, 'mongst civilized nations,
There's none that displays more exemplary patience
Under all sorts of boring, at all sorts of hours,
From all sorts of desperate persons, than ours.
Not to speak of our papers, our State legislatures,
And other such trials for sensitive natures,
Just look for a moment at Congress,--appalled,
My fancy shrinks back from the phantom it called;
Why, there's scarcely a member unworthy to frown
'Neath what Fourier nicknames the Boreal crown;         1270
Only think what that infinite bore-pow'r could do
If applied with a utilitarian view;
Suppose, for example, we shipped it with care
To Sahara's great desert and let it bore there;
If they held one short session and did nothing else,
They'd fill the whole waste with Artesian wells.
But 'tis time now with pen phonographic to follow
Through some more of his sketches our laughing Apollo:--

  'There comes Harry Franco, and, as he draws near,
You find that's a smile which you took for a sneer;      1280
One half of him contradicts t'other; his wont
Is to say very sharp things and do very blunt;
His manner's as hard as his feelings are tender,
And a _sortie_ he'll make when he means to surrender;
He's in joke half the time when he seems to be sternest,
When he seems to be joking, be sure he's in earnest;
He has common sense in a way that's uncommon,
Hates humbug and cant, loves his friends like a woman,
Builds his dislikes of cards and his friendships of oak,
Loves a prejudice better than aught but a joke,         1290
Is half upright Quaker, half downright Come-outer,
Loves Freedom too well to go stark mad about her,
Quite artless himself, is a lover of Art,
Shuts you out of his secrets, and into his heart,
And though not a poet, yet all must admire
In his letters of Pinto his skill on the liar.

  'There comes Poe, with his raven, like Barnaby Rudge,
Three fifths of him genius and two fifths sheer fudge,
Who talks like a book of iambs and pentameters,
In a way to make people of common sense damn metres,      1300
Who has written some things quite the best of their kind,
But the heart somehow seems all squeezed out by the mind,
Who--But hey-day! What's this? Messieurs Mathews and Poe,
You mustn't fling mud-balls at Longfellow so,
Does it make a man worse that his character's such
As to make his friends love him (as you think) too much?
Why, there is not a bard at this moment alive
More willing than he that his fellows should thrive;
While you are abusing him thus, even now
He would help either one of you out of a slough;      1310
You may say that he's smooth and all that till you're hoarse,
But remember that elegance also is force;
After polishing granite as much as you will,
The heart keeps its tough old persistency still;
Deduct all you can, _that_ still keeps you at bay;
Why, he'll live till men weary of Collins and Gray.
I'm not over-fond of Greek metres in English,
To me rhyme's a gain, so it be not too jinglish,
And your modern hexameter verses are no more
Like Greek ones than sleek Mr. Pope is like Homer;      1320
As the roar of the sea to the coo of a pigeon is,
So, compared to your moderns, sounds old Melesigenes;
I may be too partial, the reason, perhaps, o't is
That I've heard the old blind man recite his own rhapsodies,
And my ear with that music impregnate may be,
Like the poor exiled shell with the soul of the sea,
Or as one can't bear Strauss when his nature is cloven
To its deeps within deeps by the stroke of Beethoven;
But, set that aside, and 'tis truth that I speak,
Had Theocritus written in English, not Greek,      1330
I believe that his exquisite sense would scarce change a line
In that rare, tender, virgin-like pastoral Evangeline.
That's not ancient nor modern, its place is apart
Where time has no sway, in the realm of pure Art,
'Tis a shrine of retreat from Earth's hubbub and strife
As quiet and chaste as the author's own life.

  There comes Philothea, her face all aglow,
She has just been dividing some poor creature's woe,
And can't tell which pleases her most, to relieve
His want, or his story to hear and believe;      1340
No doubt against many deep griefs she prevails,
For her ear is the refuge of destitute tales;
She knows well that silence is sorrow's best food,
And that talking draws off from the heart its black blood,
So she'll listen with patience and let you unfold
Your bundle of rags as 'twere pure cloth of gold,
Which, indeed, it all turns to as soon as she's touched it,
And (to borrow a phrase from the nursery) _muched_ it;
She has such a musical taste, she will go
Any distance to hear one who draws a long bow;      1350
She will swallow a wonder by mere might and main,
And thinks it Geometry's fault if she's fain
To consider things flat, inasmuch as they're plain;
Facts with her are accomplished, as Frenchmen would say--
They will prove all she wishes them to either way,--
And, as fact lies on this side or that, we must try,
If we're seeking the truth, to find where it don't lie;
I was telling her once of a marvellous aloe
That for thousands of years had looked spindling and sallow,
And, though nursed by the fruitfullest powers of mud,      1360
Had never vouchsafed e'en so much as a bud,
Till its owner remarked (as a sailor, you know,
Often will in a calm) that it never would blow,
For he wished to exhibit the plant, and designed
That its blowing should help him in raising the wind;
At last it was told him that if he should water
Its roots with the blood of his unmarried daughter
(Who was born, as her mother, a Calvinist, said,
With William Law's serious caul on her head),
It would blow as the obstinate breeze did when by a      1370
Like decree of her father died Iphigenia;
At first he declared he himself would be blowed
Ere his conscience with such a foul crime he would load,
But the thought, coming oft, grew less dark than before,
And he mused, as each creditor knocked at his door,
If _this_ were but done they would dun me no more;
I told Philothea his struggles and doubts,
And how he considered the ins and the outs
Of the visions he had, and the dreadful dyspepsy,
How he went to the seër that lives at Po'keepsie,      1380
How the seër advised him to sleep on it first,
And to read his big volume in case of the worst,
And further advised he should pay him five dollars
For writing [Old English: Hum Hum] on his wristbands and collars;
Three years and ten days these dark words he had studied
When the daughter was missed, and the aloe had budded;
I told how he watched it grow large and more large,
And wondered how much for the show he should charge,--
She had listened with utter indifference to this, till
I told how it bloomed, and, discharging its pistil      1390
With an aim the Eumenides dictated, shot
The botanical filicide dead on the spot;
It had blown, but he reaped not his horrible gains,
For it blew with such force as to blow out his brains,
And the crime was blown also, because on the wad,
Which was paper, was writ "Visitation of God,"
As well as a thrilling account of the deed
Which the coroner kindly allowed me to read.

  'Well, my friend took this story up just, to be sure,      1399
As one might a poor foundling that's laid at one's door;
She combed it and washed it and clothed it and fed it,
And as if 'twere her own child most tenderly bred it,
Laid the scene (of the legend, I mean) far away a-
-mong the green vales underneath Himalaya,
And by artist-like touches, laid on here and there,
Made the whole thing so touching, I frankly declare
I have read it all thrice, and, perhaps I am weak,
But I found every time there were tears on my cheek.

  'The pole, science tells us, the magnet controls,
But she is a magnet to emigrant Poles,               1410
And folks with a mission that nobody knows
Throng thickly about her as bees round a rose;
She can fill up the _carets_ in such, make their scope
Converge to some focus of rational hope,
And, with sympathies fresh as the morning, their gall
Can transmute into honey,--but this is not all;
Not only for those she has solace, oh say,
Vice's desperate nursling adrift in Broadway,
Who clingest, with all that is left of thee human,
To the last slender spar from the wreck of the woman,      1420
Hast thou not found one shore where those tired drooping feet
Could reach firm mother-earth, one full heart on whose beat
The soothed head in silence reposing could hear
The chimes of far childhood throb back on the ear?
Ah, there's many a beam from the fountain of day
That, to reach us unclouded, must pass, on its way,
Through the soul of a woman, and hers is wide ope
To the influence of Heaven as the blue eyes of Hope;
Yes, a great heart is hers, one that dares to go in
To the prison, the slave-hut, the alleys of sin,      1430
And to bring into each, or to find there, some line
Of the never completely out-trampled divine;
If her heart at high floods swamps her brain now and then,
'Tis but richer for that when the tide ebbs agen,
As, after old Nile has subsided, his plain
Overflows with a second broad deluge of grain;
What a wealth would it tiring to the narrow and sour
Could they be as a Child but for one little hour!

  'What! Irving? thrice welcome, warm heart and fine brain,
You bring back the happiest spirit from Spain,      1440
And the gravest sweet humor, that ever were there
Since Cervantes met death in his gentle despair;
Nay, don't be embarrassed, nor look so beseeching,
I sha'n't run directly against my own preaching,
And, having just laughed at their Raphaels and Dantes,
Go to setting you up beside matchless Cervantes;
But allow me to speak what I honestly feel,--
To a true poet-heart add the fun of Dick Steele,
Throw in all of Addison, _minus_ the chill,      1449
With the whole of that partnership's stock and good-will,
Mix well, and while stirring, hum o'er, as a spell,
The fine _old_ English Gentleman, simmer it well,
Sweeten just to your own private liking, then strain,
That only the finest and clearest remain,
Let it stand out of doors till a soul it receives
From the warm lazy sun loitering down through green leaves,
And you'll find a choice nature, not wholly deserving
A name either English or Yankee,--just Irving.

  'There goes,--but _stet nominis umbra_,--his name
You'll be glad enough, some day or other, to claim,      1460
And will all crowd about him and swear that you knew him
If some English critic should chance to review him.
The old _porcos ante ne projiciatis_
MARGARITAS, for him you have verified gratis;
What matters his name? Why, it may be Sylvester,
Judd, Junior, or Junius, Ulysses, or Nestor,
For aught _I_ know or care; 'tis enough that I look
On the author of "Margaret," the first Yankee book
With the _soul_ of Down East in 't, and things farther East,
As far as the threshold of morning, at least,      1470
Where awaits the fair dawn of the simple and true,
Of the day that comes slowly to make all things new.
'T has a smack of pine woods, of bare field and bleak hill,
Such as only the breed of the Mayflower could till;
The Puritan's shown in it, tough to the core,
Such as prayed, smiting Agag on red Marston Moor:
With an unwilling humor, half choked by the drouth
In brown hollows about the inhospitable mouth;
With a soul full of poetry, though it has qualms
About finding a happiness out of the Psalms;      1480
Full of tenderness, too, though it shrinks in the dark,
Hamadryad-like, under the coarse, shaggy bark;
That sees visions, knows wrestlings of God with the Will,
And has its own Sinais and thunderings still.'

  Here, 'Forgive me, Apollo,' I cried, 'while I pour
My heart out to my birthplace: O loved more and more
Dear Baystate, from whose rocky bosom thy sons
Should suck milk, strong-will-giving, brave, such as runs
In the veins of old Greylock--who is it that dares      1489
Call thee pedler, a soul wrapped in bank-books and shares?
It is false! She's a Poet! I see, as I write,
Along the far railroad the steam-snake glide white,
The cataract-throb of her mill-hearts, I hear,
The swift strokes of trip-hammers weary my ear,
Sledges ring upon anvils, through logs the saw screams,
Blocks swing to their place, beetles drive home the beams:--
It is songs such as these that she croons to the din
Of her fast-flying shuttles, year out and year in,
While from earth's farthest corner there comes not a breeze
But wafts her the buzz of her gold-gleaning bees:      1500
What though those horn hands have as yet found small time
For painting and sculpture and music and rhyme?
These will come in due order; the need that pressed sorest
Was to vanquish the seasons, the ocean, the forest,
To bridle and harness the rivers, the steam,
Making those whirl her mill-wheels, this tug in her team,
To vassalize old tyrant Winter, and make
Him delve surlily for her on river and lake;--
When this New World was parted, she strove not to shirk
Her lot in the heirdom, the tough, silent Work,                1510
The hero-share ever from Herakles down
To Odin, the Earth's iron sceptre and crown:
Yes, thou dear, noble Mother! if ever men's praise
Could be claimed for creating heroical lays,
Thou hast won it; if ever the laurel divine
Crowned the Maker and Builder, that glory is thine!
Thy songs are right epic, they tell how this rude
Rock-rib of our earth here was tamed and subdued;
Thou hast written them plain on the face of the planet
In brave, deathless letters of iron and granite;               1520
Thou hast printed them deep for all time; they are set
From the same runic type-fount and alphabet
With thy stout Berkshire hills and the arms of thy Bay,--
They are staves from the burly old Mayflower lay.
If the drones of the Old World, in querulous ease,
Ask thy Art and thy Letters, point proudly to these,
Or, if they deny these are Letters and Art,
Toil on with the same old invincible heart;
Thou art rearing the pedestal broad-based and grand
Whereon the fair shapes of the Artist shall stand,             1530
And creating, through labors undaunted and long,
The theme for all Sculpture and Painting and Song!

  'But my good mother Baystate wants no praise of mine,
She learned from _her_ mother a precept divine
About something that butters no parsnips, her _forte_
In another direction lies, work is her sport
(Though she'll curtsey and set her cap straight, that she will,
If you talk about Plymouth and red Bunker's hill).
Dear, notable goodwife! by this time of night,
Her hearth is swept neatly, her fire burning bright,           1540
And she sits in a chair (of home plan and make) rocking,
Musing much, all the while, as she darns on a stocking,
Whether turkeys will come pretty high next Thanksgiving,
Whether flour'll be so dear, for, as sure as she's living,
She will use rye-and-injun then, whether the pig
By this time ain't got pretty tolerable big,
And whether to sell it outright will be best,
Or to smoke hams and shoulders and salt down the rest,--
At this minute, she'd swop all my verses, ah, cruel!
For the last patent stove that is saving of fuel;              1550
So I'll just let Apollo go on, for his phiz
Shows I've kept him awaiting too long as it is.'

  'If our friend, there, who seems a reporter, is done
With his burst of emotion, why, I will go on,'
Said Apollo; some smiled, and, indeed, I must own
There was something sarcastic, perhaps, in his tone;--

  'There's Holmes, who is matchless among you for wit;
A Leyden-jar always full-charged, from which flit
The electrical tingles of hit after hit;
In long poems 'tis painful sometimes, and invites           1560
A thought of the way the new Telegraph writes,
Which pricks down its little sharp sentences spitefully
As if you got more than you'd title to rightfully,
And you find yourself hoping its wild father Lightning
Would flame in for a second and give you a fright'ning.
He has perfect sway of what I call a sham metre,
But many admire it, the English pentameter,
And Campbell, I think, wrote most commonly worse,
With less nerve, swing, and fire in the same kind of verse,
Nor e'er achieved aught in't so worthy of praise             1570
As the tribute of Holmes to the grand _Marseillaise_.
You went crazy last year over Bulwer's New Timon;--
Why, if B., to the day of his dying, should rhyme on,
Heaping verses on verses and tomes upon tomes,
He could ne'er reach the best point and vigor of Holmes.
His are just the fine hands, too, to weave you a lyric
Full of fancy, fun, feeling, or spiced with satiric
In a measure so kindly, you doubt if the toes
That are trodden upon are your own or your foes'.

  'There is Lowell, who's striving Parnassus to climb          1580
With a whole bale of _isms_ tied together with rhyme,
He might get on alone, spite of brambles and boulders,
But he can't with that bundle he has on his shoulders,
The top of the hill he will ne'er come nigh reaching
Till he learns the distinction 'twixt singing and preaching;
His lyre has some chords that would ring pretty well,
But he'd rather by half make a drum of the shell,
And rattle away till he's old as Methusalem,
At the head of a march to the last new Jerusalem.      1589

  'There goes Halleck, whose Fanny's a pseudo Don Juan,
With the wickedness out that gave salt to the true one,
He's a wit, though, I hear, of the very first order,
And once made a pun on the words soft Recorder;
More than this, he's a very great poet, I'm told,
And has had his works published in crimson and gold,
With something they call "Illustrations," to wit,
Like those with which Chapman obscured Holy Writ,[4]
Which are said to illustrate, because, as I view it,
Like _lucus a non_, they precisely don't do it;
Let a man who can write what himself understands             1600
Keep clear, if he can, of designing men's hands,
Who bury the sense, if there's any worth having,
And then very honestly call it engraving,
But, to quit _badinage_, which there isn't much wit in,
Halleck's better, I doubt not, than all he has written;
In his verse a clear glimpse you will frequently find,
If not of a great, of a fortunate mind,
Which contrives to be true to its natural loves
In a world of back-offices, ledgers, and stoves.
When his heart breaks away from the brokers and banks,       1610
And kneels in his own private shrine to give thanks,
There's a genial manliness in him that earns
Our sincerest respect (read, for instance, his "Burns"),
And we can't but regret (seek excuse where we may)
That so much of a man has been peddled away.

  'But what's that? a mass-meeting? No, there come in lots
The American Bulwers, Disraelis, and Scotts,
And in short the American everything elses,
Each charging the others with envies and jealousies;--
By the way, 'tis a fact that displays what profusions       1620
Of all kinds of greatness bless free institutions,
That while the Old World has produced barely eight
Of such poets as all men agree to call great,
And of other great characters hardly a score
(One might safely say less than that rather than more),
With you every year a whole crop is begotten,
They're as much of a staple as corn is, or cotton;
Why, there's scarcely a huddle of log-huts and shanties
That has not brought forth its own Miltons and Dantes;       1629
I myself know ten Byrons, one Coleridge, three Shelleys,
Two Raphaels, six Titians (I think), one Apelles,
Leonardos and Rubenses plenty as lichens,
One (but that one is plenty) American Dickens,
A whole flock of Lambs, any number of Tennysons,--
In short, if a man has the luck to have any sons,
He may feel pretty certain that one out of twain
Will be some very great person over again.
There is one inconvenience in all this, which lies
In the fact that by contrast we estimate size,[5]
And, where there are none except Titans, great stature    1640
Is only the normal proceeding of nature.
What puff the strained sails of your praise will you furl at, if
The calmest degree that you know is superlative?
At Rome, all whom Charon took into his wherry must,
As a matter of course, be well _issimust_ and _errimust_,
A Greek, too, could feel, while in that famous boat he tost,
That his friends would take care he was [Greek: istost] and
  [Greek: otatost],
And formerly we, as through graveyards we past,
Thought the world went from bad to worst fearfully fast;
Let us glance for a moment, 'tis well worth the pains,     1650
And note what an average graveyard contains;
There lie levellers levelled, duns done up themselves,
There are booksellers finally laid on their shelves,
Horizontally there lie upright politicians,
Dose-a-dose with their patients sleep faultless physicians,
There are slave-drivers quietly whipped under ground,
There bookbinders, done up in boards, are fast bound,
There card-players wait till the last trump be played,
There all the choice spirits get finally laid,
There the babe that's unborn is supplied with a berth,     1660
There men without legs get their six feet of earth,
There lawyers repose, each wrapped up in his case,
There seekers of office are sure of a place,
There defendant and plaintiff get equally cast,
There shoemakers quietly stick to the last,
There brokers at length become silent as stocks,
There stage-drivers sleep without quitting their box,
And so forth and so forth and so forth and so on,
With this kind of stuff one might endlessly go on;
To come to the point, I may safely assert you              1670
Will find in each yard every cardinal virtue;[6]
Each has six truest patriots: four discoverers of ether,
Who never had thought on 't nor mentioned it either;
Ten poets, the greatest who ever wrote rhyme:
Two hundred and forty first men of their time:
One person whose portrait just gave the least hint
Its original had a most horrible squint:
One critic, most (what do they call it?) reflective,
Who never had used the phrase ob-or subjective:
Forty fathers of Freedom, of whom twenty bred              1680
Their sons for the rice-swamps, at so much a head,
And their daughters for--faugh! thirty mothers of Gracchi:
Non-resistants who gave many a spiritual blackeye:
Eight true friends of their kind, one of whom was a jailer:
Four captains almost as astounding as Taylor:
Two dozen of Italy's exiles who shoot us his
Kaisership daily, stern pen-and-ink Brutuses,
Who, in Yankee back-parlors, with crucified smile,[7]
Mount serenely their country's funereal pile:
Ninety-nine Irish heroes, ferocious rebellers              1690
'Gainst the Saxon in cis-marine garrets and cellars,
Who shake their dread fists o'er the sea and all that,--
As long as a copper drops into the hat:
Nine hundred Teutonic republicans stark
From Vaterland's battle just won--in the Park,
Who the happy profession of martyrdom take
Whenever it gives them a chance at a steak;
Sixty-two second Washingtons: two or three Jacksons:
And so many everythings else that it racks one's
Poor memory too much to continue the list,     1700
Especially now they no longer exist;--
I would merely observe that you've taken to giving
The puffs that belong to the dead to the living,
And that somehow your trump-of-contemporary-doom's tones
Is tuned after old dedications and tombstones.'

  Here the critic came in and a thistle presented--[8]
From a frown to a smile the god's features relented,
As he stared at his envoy, who, swelling with pride,
To the god's asking look, nothing daunted, replied,--
'You're surprised, I suppose, I was absent so long,     1710
But your godship respecting the lilies was wrong;
I hunted the garden from one end to t'other,
And got no reward but vexation and bother,
Till, tossed out with weeds in a corner to wither,
This one lily I found and made haste to bring hither.'

'Did he think I had given him a book to review?
I ought to have known what the fellow would do,'
Muttered Phoebus aside, 'for a thistle will pass
Beyond doubt for the queen of all flowers with an ass;
He has chosen in just the same way as he'd choose     1720
His specimens out of the books he reviews;
And now, as this offers an excellent text,
I'll give 'em some brief hints on criticism next.'
So, musing a moment, he turned to the crowd,
And, clearing his voice, spoke as follows aloud:--

  'My friends, in the happier days of the muse,
We were luckily free from such things as reviews;
Then naught came between with its fog to make clearer
The heart of the poet to that of his hearer;
Then the poet brought heaven to the people, and they     1730
Felt that they, too, were poets in hearing his lay;
Then the poet was prophet, the past in his soul
Precreated the future, both parts of one whole;
Then for him there was nothing too great or too small,
For one natural deity sanctified all;
Then the bard owned no clipper and meter of moods
Save the spirit of silence that hovers and broods
O'er the seas and the mountains, the rivers and woods;
He asked not earth's verdict, forgetting the clods,
His soul soared and sang to an audience of gods;     1740
'Twas for them that he measured the thought and the line,
And shaped for their vision the perfect design,
With as glorious a foresight, a balance as true,
As swung out the worlds in the infinite blue;
Then a glory and greatness invested man's heart,
The universal, which now stands estranged and apart,
In the free individual moulded, was Art;
Then the forms of the Artist seemed thrilled with desire
For something as yet unattained, fuller, higher,
As once with her lips, lifted hands, and eyes listening,      1750
And her whole upward soul in her countenance glistening,
Eurydice stood--like a beacon unfired,
Which, once touched with flame, will leap heav'nward inspired--
And waited with answering kindle to mark
The first gleam of Orpheus that pained the red Dark.
Then painting, song, sculpture did more than relieve
The need that men feel to create and believe,
And as, in all beauty, who listens with love
Hears these words oft repeated--"beyond and above,"
So these seemed to be but the visible sign                    1760
Of the grasp of the soul after things more divine;
They were ladders the Artist erected to climb
O'er the narrow horizon of space and of time,
And we see there the footsteps by which men had gained
To the one rapturous glimpse of the never-attained,
As shepherds could erst sometimes trace in the sod
The last spurning print of a sky-cleaving god.

  'But now, on the poet's dis-privacied moods
With _do this_ and _do that_ the pert critic intrudes;
While he thinks he's been barely fulfilling his duty          1770
To interpret 'twixt men and their own sense of beauty.
And has striven, while others sought honor or pelf,
To make his kind happy as he was himself,
He finds he's been guilty of horrid offences
In all kinds of moods, numbers, genders, and tenses;
He's been _ob_ and _sub_jective, what Kettle calls Pot,
Precisely, at all events, what he ought not,
_You have done this,_ says one judge; _done that,_ says another;
_You should have done this,_ grumbles one; _that,_ says t'other;
Never mind what he touches, one shrieks out _Taboo!_     1780
And while he is wondering what he shall do,
Since each suggests opposite topics for song,
They all shout together _you're right!_ and _you're wrong!_

  'Nature fits all her children with something to do,
He who would write and can't write can surely review,
Can set up a small booth as critic and sell us his
Petty conceit and his pettier jealousies;
Thus a lawyer's apprentice, just out of his teens,
Will do for the Jeffrey of six magazines;
Having read Johnson's lives of the poets half through,        1790
There's nothing on earth he's not competent to;
He reviews with as much nonchalance as he whistles,--
He goes through a book and just picks out the thistles;
It matters not whether he blame or commend,
If he's bad as a foe, he's far worse as a friend:
Let an author but write what's above his poor scope,
He goes to work gravely and twists up a rope,
And, inviting the world to see punishment done,
Hangs himself up to bleach in the wind and the sun;
'Tis delightful to see, when a man comes along      1800
Who has anything in him peculiar and strong,
Every cockboat that swims clear its fierce (pop) gundeck at him,
And make as he passes its ludicrous Peck at him--'

  Here Miranda came up and began, 'As to that--'
Apollo at once seized his gloves, cane, and hat,
And, seeing the place getting rapidly cleared,
I too snatched my notes and forthwith disappeared.



THE UNHAPPY LOT OF MR. KNOTT

PART I

SHOWING HOW HE BUILT HIS HOUSE AND HIS WIFE MOVED INTO IT

My worthy friend, A. Gordon Knott,
  From business snug withdrawn,
Was much contented with a lot
That would contain a Tudor cot
'Twixt twelve feet square of garden-plot,
  And twelve feet more of lawn.

He had laid business on the shelf
  To give his taste expansion,
And, since no man, retired with pelf,
  The building mania can shun,      10
Knott, being middle-aged himself,
Resolved to build (unhappy elf!)
  A mediæval mansion.

He called an architect in counsel;
  'I want,' said he, 'a--you know what,
  (You are a builder, I am Knott)
  A thing complete from chimney-pot
Down to the very grounsel;
  Here's a half-acre of good land;
  Just have it nicely mapped and planned      20
And make your workmen drive on;
  Meadow there is, and upland too,
  And I should like a water-view,
D'you think you could contrive one?
  (Perhaps the pump and trough would do,
  If painted a judicious blue?)
  The woodland I've attended to;'
  [He meant three pines stuck up askew,
Two dead ones and a live one.]
  'A pocket-full of rocks 'twould take      30
To build a house of freestone,
  But then it is not hard to make
What nowadays is _the_ stone;
  The cunning painter in a trice
  Your house's outside petrifies,
  And people think it very gneiss
Without inquiring deeper;
  _My_ money never shall be thrown
  Away on such a deal of stone,
When stone of deal is cheaper.'      40

And so the greenest of antiques
  Was reared for Knott to dwell in:
The architect worked hard for weeks
In venting all his private peaks
Upon the roof, whose crop of leaks
  Had satisfied Fluellen;
Whatever anybody had
Out of the common, good or bad,
  Knott had it all worked well in;
A donjon-keep, where clothes might dry,      50
A porter's lodge that was a sty,
A campanile slim and high,
  Too small to hang a bell in;
All up and down and here and there,
With Lord-knows-whats of round and square
Stuck on at random everywhere,--
It was a house to make one stare,
  All corners and all gables;
Like dogs let loose upon a bear,
Ten emulous styles _staboyed_ with care,      60
The whole among them seemed to tear,
And all the oddities to spare
  Were set upon the stables.

Knott was delighted with a pile
  Approved by fashion's leaders:
(Only he made the builder smile,
By asking every little while,
Why that was called the Twodoor style,
  Which certainly had _three_ doors?)
Yet better for this luckless man      70
If he had put a downright ban
  Upon the thing _in limine;_
For, though to quit affairs his plan,
Ere many days, poor Knott began
Perforce accepting draughts, that ran
  All ways--except up chimney;
The house, though painted stone to mock,
With nice white lines round every block,
  Some trepidation stood in,
When tempests (with petrific shock,      80
So to speak,) made it really rock,
  Though not a whit less wooden;
And painted stone, howe'er well done,
Will not take in the prodigal sun
Whose beams are never quite at one
  With our terrestrial lumber;
So the wood shrank around the knots,
And gaped in disconcerting spots,
And there were lots of dots and rots
  And crannies without number,     90
Wherethrough, as you may well presume,
The wind, like water through a flume,
  Came rushing in ecstatic,
Leaving, in all three floors, no room
  That was not a rheumatic;
And, what with points and squares and rounds
  Grown shaky on their poises,
The house at nights was full of pounds,
Thumps, bumps, creaks, scratchings, raps--till--'Zounds!'
Cried Knott, 'this goes beyond all bounds;      100
I do not deal in tongues and sounds,
Nor have I let my house and grounds
  To a family of Noyeses!'

But, though Knott's house was full of airs,
  _He_ had but one,--a daughter;
And, as he owned much stocks and shares,
Many who wished to render theirs
Such vain, unsatisfying cares,
And needed wives to sew their tears,
  In matrimony sought her;      110
They vowed her gold they wanted not,
  Their faith would never falter,
They longed to tie this single Knott
  In the Hymeneal halter;
So daily at the door they rang,
  Cards for the belle delivering,
Or in the choir at her they sang,
Achieving such a rapturous twang
  As set her nerves ashivering.

Now Knott had quite made up his mind      120
  That Colonel Jones should have her;
No beauty he, but oft we find
Sweet kernels 'neath a roughish rind,
So hoped his Jenny'd be resigned
  And make no more palaver;
Glanced at the fact that love was blind,
That girls were ratherish inclined
  To pet their little crosses,
Then nosologically defined
The rate at which the system pined      130
In those unfortunates who dined
Upon that metaphoric kind
  Of dish--their own proboscis.

But she, with many tears and moans,
  Besought him not to mock her.
Said 'twas too much for flesh and bones
To marry mortgages and loans,
That fathers' hearts were stocks and stones.
And that she'd go, when Mrs. Jones,
  To Davy Jones's locker;      140
Then gave her head a little toss
That said as plain as ever was,
If men are always at a loss
  Mere womankind to bridle--
To try the thing on woman cross
  Were fifty times as idle;
For she a strict resolve had made
  And registered in private,
That either she would die a maid,
Or else be Mrs. Doctor Slade,      150
  If a woman could contrive it;
And, though the wedding-day was set,
  Jenny was more so, rather,
Declaring, in a pretty pet,
That, howsoe'er they spread their net,
She would out-Jennyral them yet,
  The colonel and her father.

Just at this time the Public's eyes
  Were keenly on the watch, a stir
Beginning slowly to arise      160
About those questions and replies.
Those raps that unwrapped mysteries
  So rapidly at Rochester,
And Knott, already nervous grown
By lying much awake alone.
And listening, sometimes to a moan,
  And sometimes to a clatter,
Whene'er the wind at night would rouse
The gingerbread-work on his house,
Or when some, hasty-tempered mouse,      170
Behind the plastering, made a towse
  About a family matter,
Began to wonder if his wife,
A paralytic half her life.
  Which made it more surprising,
Might not, to rule him from her urn,
Have taken a peripatetic turn
  For want of exorcising.

This thought, once nestled in his head,
Erelong contagious grew, and spread       180
Infecting all his mind with dread,
Until at last he lay in bed
And heard his wife, with well-known tread,
Entering the kitchen through the shed,
  (Or was't his fancy, mocking?)
Opening the pantry, cutting bread,
And then (she'd been some ten years dead)
  Closets and drawers unlocking;
Or, in his room (his breath grew thick)       189
He heard the long-familiar click
Of slender needles flying quick,
  As if she knit a stocking;
For whom?--he prayed that years might flit
  With pains rheumatic shooting,
Before those ghostly things she knit
Upon his unfleshed sole might fit,
He did not fancy it a bit,
  To stand upon that footing:
At other times, his frightened hairs       199
  Above the bedclothes trusting,
He heard her, full of household cares,
(No dream entrapped in supper's snares,
The foal of horrible nightmares,
But broad awake, as he declares),
Go bustling up and down the stairs,
Or setting back last evening's chairs,
  Or with the poker thrusting
The raked-up sea-coal's hardened crust--
And--what! impossible! it must!
He knew she had returned to dust,       210
And yet could scarce his senses trust,
Hearing her as she poked and fussed
  About the parlor, dusting!

Night after night he strove to sleep
  And take his ease in spite of it;
But still his flesh would chill and creep,
And, though two night-lamps he might keep,
  He could not so make light of it.
At last, quite desperate, he goes
And tells his neighbors all his woes,       220
  Which did but their amount enhance;
They made such mockery of his fears
That soon his days were of all jeers.
  His nights of the rueful countenance;
'I thought most folks,' one neighbor said,
'Gave up the ghost when they were dead?'
Another gravely shook his head,
  Adding, 'From all we hear, it's
Quite plain poor Knott is going mad--
For how can he at once be sad       230
  And think he's full of spirits?'
A third declared he knew a knife
  Would cut this Knott much quicker,
'The surest way to end all strife,
And lay the spirit of a wife,
  Is just to take and lick her!'
A temperance man caught up the word,
'Ah yes,' he groaned, 'I've always heard
  Our poor friend somewhat slanted        239
Tow'rd taking liquor overmuch;
I fear these spirits may be Dutch,
(A sort of gins, or something such,)
  With which his house is haunted;
I see the thing as clear as light,--
If Knott would give up getting tight,
  Naught farther would be wanted:'
So all his neighbors stood aloof
And, that the spirits 'neath his roof
Were not entirely up to proof,
  Unanimously granted.        250

Knott knew that cocks and sprites were foes,
And so bought up, Heaven only knows
How many, for he wanted crows
To give ghosts caws, as I suppose,
  To think that day was breaking;
Moreover what he called his park,
He turned into a kind of ark
For dogs, because a little bark
Is a good tonic in the dark,
  If one is given to waking;        260
But things went on from bad to worse,
His curs were nothing but a curse,
  And, what was still more shocking,
Foul ghosts of living fowl made scoff
And would not think of going off
  In spite of all his cocking.

Shanghais, Bucks-counties, Dominiques,
Malays (that didn't lay for weeks),
  Polanders, Bantams, Dorkings,
(Waiving the cost, no trifling ill,
Since each brought in his little bill,)        271
By day or night were never still,
But every thought of rest would kill
  With cacklings and with quorkings;
Henry the Eighth of wives got free
  By a way he had of axing;
But poor Knott's Tudor henery
Was not so fortunate, and he
  Still found his trouble waxing;
As for the dogs, the rows they made,        280
And how they howled, snarled, barked and bayed,
  Beyond all human knowledge is;
All night, as wide awake as gnats,
The terriers rumpused after rats,
Or, just for practice, taught their brats
To worry cast-off shoes and hats,
The bull-dogs settled private spats,
All chased imaginary cats,
Or raved behind the fence's slats
At real ones, or, from their mats,
With friends, miles off, held pleasant chats,        291
Or, like some folks in white cravats,
Contemptuous of sharps and flats,
  Sat up and sang dogsologies.
Meanwhile the cats set up a squall,
And, safe upon the garden-wall,
  All night kept cat-a-walling,
As if the feline race were all.
In one wild cataleptic sprawl,
  Into love's tortures falling.        300


PART II

SHOWING WHAT IS MEANT BY A FLOW OF SPIRITS

At first the ghosts were somewhat shy,
Coming when none but Knott was nigh,
And people said 'twas all their eye,
(Or rather his) a flam, the sly
  Digestion's machination:
Some recommended a wet sheet,
Some a nice broth of pounded peat,
Some a cold flat-iron to the feet,
Some a decoction of lamb's-bleat,
Some a southwesterly grain of wheat;        310
Meat was by some pronounced unmeet,
Others thought fish most indiscreet,
And that 'twas worse than all to eat
Of vegetables, sour or sweet,
(Except, perhaps, the skin of beet,)
  In such a concatenation:
One quack his button gently plucks
And murmurs, 'Biliary ducks!'
  Says Knott, 'I never ate one;'
But all, though brimming full of wrath,     320
Homoeo, Allo, Hydropath,
Concurred in this--that t'other's path
  To death's door was the straight one.
Still, spite of medical advice,
The ghosts came thicker, and a spice
  Of mischief grew apparent;
Nor did they only come at night,
But seemed to fancy broad daylight,
Till Knott, in horror and affright,
  His unoffending hair rent;     330
Whene'er with handkerchief on lap,
He made his elbow-chair a trap,
To catch an after-dinner nap,
The spirits, always on the tap,
Would make a sudden _rap, rap, rap,_
The half-spun cord of sleep to snap,
(And what is life without its nap
But threadbareness and mere mishap?)     338
As 'twere with a percussion cap
  The trouble's climax capping;
It seemed a party dried and grim
Of mummies had come to visit him,
Each getting off from every limb
  Its multitudinous wrapping;
Scratchings sometimes the walls ran round,
The merest penny-weights of sound;
Sometimes 'twas only by the pound
  They carried on their dealing,
A thumping 'neath the parlor floor,
Thump-bump-thump-bumping o'er and o'er,     350
As if the vegetables in store
(Quiet and orderly before)
  Were all together peeling;
You would have thought the thing was done
By the spirit of some son of a gun,
  And that a forty-two-pounder,
Or that the ghost which made such sounds
Could be none other than John Pounds,
  Of Ragged Schools the founder.
Through three gradations of affright,     360
The awful noises reached their height;
  At first they knocked nocturnally,
Then, for some reason, changing quite,
(As mourners, after six months' flight,
Turn suddenly from dark to light,)
  Began to knock diurnally,
And last, combining all their stocks,
(Scotland was ne'er so full of Knox,)
Into one Chaos (father of Nox,)
_Nocte pluit_--they showered knocks,     370
  And knocked, knocked, knocked, eternally;
Ever upon the go, like buoys,
(Wooden sea-urchins,) all Knott's joys,
They turned to troubles and a noise
  That preyed on him internally.

Soon they grew wider in their scope;
Whenever Knott a door would ope,
It would ope not, or else elope
And fly back (curbless as a trope
Once started down a stanza's slope          380
By a bard that gave it too much rope--)
  Like a clap of thunder slamming:
And, when kind Jenny brought his hat,
(She always, when he walked, did that,)
Just as upon his heart it sat,
Submitting to his settling pat,
Some unseen hand would jam it flat,
Or give it such a furious bat
  That eyes and nose went cramming
Up out of sight, and consequently,        390
As when in life it paddled free,
  His beaver caused much damning;
If these things seem o'erstrained to be,
Read the account of Doctor Dee,
'Tis in our college library:
Read Wesley's circumstantial plea,
And Mrs. Crowe, more like a bee,
Sucking the nightshade's honeyed fee,
And Stilling's Pneumatology;
Consult Scot, Glanvil, grave Wie-            400
rus and both Mathers; further see,
Webster, Casaubon, James First's trea-
tise, a right royal Q.E.D.
Writ with the moon in perigee,
Bodin de la Demonomanie--
(Accent that last line gingerly)
All full of learning as the sea
Of fishes, and all disagree,
Save in _Sathanas apage!_
Or, what will surely put a flea               410
In unbelieving ears--with glee,
Out of a paper (sent to me
By some friend who forgot to P ...
A ... Y ...--I use cryptography
Lest I his vengeful pen should dree--
His P ...O ...S ...T ...A ...G ...E ...)
  Things to the same effect I cut,
About the tantrums of a ghost,
Not more than three weeks since, at most,
  Near Stratford, in Connecticut.              420
Knott's Upas daily spread its roots,
Sent up on all sides livelier shoots,
And bore more pestilential fruits;
The ghosts behaved like downright brutes,
They snipped holes in his Sunday suits,
Practised all night on octave flutes,
Put peas (not peace) into his boots,
  Whereof grew corns in season,
They scotched his sheets, and, what was worse,
Stuck his silk nightcap full of burrs,           430
Till he, in language plain and terse,
(But much unlike a Bible verse,)
  Swore he should lose his reason.

The tables took to spinning, too,
Perpetual yarns, and arm-chairs grew
  To prophets and apostles;
One footstool vowed that only he
Of law and gospel held the key,
That teachers of whate'er degree
To whom opinion bows the knee              440
Weren't fit to teach Truth's _a b c_,
And were (the whole lot) to a T
  Mere fogies all and fossils;
A teapoy, late the property
  Of Knox's Aunt Keziah,
(Whom Jenny most irreverently
Had nicknamed her aunt-tipathy)
With tips emphatic claimed to be
  The prophet Jeremiah;
The tins upon the kitchen-wall,                 450
Turned tintinnabulators all,
And things that used to come to call
  For simple household services
Began to hop and whirl and prance,
Fit to put out of countenance
The _Commís_ and _Grisettes_ of France
  Or Turkey's dancing Dervises.

Of course such doings, far and wide,
With rumors filled the countryside,
And (as it is our nation's pride        460
To think a Truth not verified
Till with majorities allied)
Parties sprung up, affirmed, denied,
And candidates with questions plied,
Who, like the circus-riders, tried
At once both hobbies to bestride,
And each with his opponent vied
  In being inexplicit.
Earnest inquirers multiplied;
Folks, whose tenth cousins lately died,        470
Wrote letters long, and Knott replied;
All who could either walk or ride
Gathered to wonder or deride,
  And paid the house a visit;
Horses were to his pine-trees tied,
Mourners in every corner sighed,
Widows brought children there that cried.
Swarms of lean Seekers, eager-eyed,
(People Knott never could abide,)
Into each hole and cranny pried        480
With strings of questions cut and dried
From the Devout Inquirer's Guide,
For the wise spirits to decide--
  As, for example, is it
True that the damned are fried or boiled?
Was the Earth's axis greased or oiled?
Who cleaned the moon when it was soiled?
How baldness might be cured or foiled?
  How heal diseased potatoes?
Did spirits have the sense of smell?        490
Where would departed spinsters dwell?
If the late Zenas Smith were well?
If Earth were solid or a shell?
Were spirits fond of Doctor Fell?
_Did_ the bull toll Cock-Robin's knell?
What remedy would bugs expel?
If Paine's invention were a sell?
Did spirits by Webster's system spell?
Was it a sin to be a belle?
Did dancing sentence folks to hell?        500
If so, then where most torture fell?
  On little toes or great toes?
If life's true seat were in the brain?
Did Ensign mean to marry Jane?
By whom, in fact, was Morgan slain?
Could matter ever suffer pain?
What would take out a cherry-stain?
Who picked the pocket of Seth Crane,
Of Waldo precinct, State, of Maine?
Was Sir John Franklin sought in vain?        510
Did primitive Christians ever train?
What was the family-name of Cain?
Them spoons, were they by Betty ta'en?
Would earth-worm poultice cure a sprain?
Was Socrates so dreadful plain?
What teamster guided Charles's wain?
Was Uncle Ethan mad or sane,
And could his will in force remain?
If not, what counsel to retain?
Did Le Sage steal Gil Blas from Spain?        520
Was Junius writ by Thomas Paine?
Were ducks discomforted by rain?
_How_ did Britannia rule the main?
Was Jonas coming back again?
Was vital truth upon the wane?
Did ghosts, to scare folks, drag a chain?
Who was our Huldah's chosen swain?
Did none have teeth pulled without payin',
  Ere ether was invented?
Whether mankind would not agree,        530
If the universe were tuned in C?
What was it ailed Lucindy's knee?
Whether folks eat folks in Feejee?
Whether _his_ name would end with T?
If Saturn's rings were two or three,
And what bump in Phrenology
  They truly represented?
These problems dark, wherein they groped,
Wherewith man's reason vainly coped,
Now that the spirit-world was oped,        540
In all humility they hoped
  Would be resolved _instanter_;
Each of the miscellaneous rout
Brought his, or her, own little doubt.
And wished to pump the spirits out,
Through his or her own private spout,
  Into his or her decanter.


PART III

WHEREIN IT IS SHOWN THAT THE MOST ARDENT SPIRITS ARE MORE
ORNAMENTAL THAN USEFUL

Many a speculating wight
Came by express-trains, day and night,
To see if Knott would 'sell his right,'        550
Meaning to make the ghosts a sight--
  What they call a 'meenaygerie;'
One threatened, if he would not 'trade,'
His run of custom to invade,
(He could not these sharp folks persuade
That he was not, in some way, paid,)
  And stamp him as a plagiary,
By coming down, at one fell swoop,
With THE ORIGINAL KNOCKING TROUPE,
  Come recently from Hades,        560
Who (for a quarter-dollar heard)
Would ne'er rap out a hasty word
Whence any blame might be incurred
  From the most fastidious ladies;
The late lamented Jesse Soule,
To stir the ghosts up with a pole
And be director of the whole,
  Who was engaged the rather
For the rare merits he'd combine,
Having been in the spirit line,        570
Which trade he only did resign,
With general applause, to shine,
Awful in mail of cotton fine,
  As ghost of Hamlet's father!
Another a fair plan reveals
Never yet hit on, which, he feels,
To Knott's religious sense appeals--
'We'll have your house set up on wheels,
  A speculation pious;
For music, we can shortly find        580
A barrel-organ that will grind
Psalm-tunes--an instrument designed
For the New England tour--refined
From secular drosses, and inclined
To an unworldly turn, (combined
  With no sectarian bias;)
Then, travelling by stages slow,
Under the style of Knott & Co.,
I would accompany the show
As moral lecturer, the foe     590
Of Rationalism; while you could throw
The rappings in, and make them go
Strict Puritan principles, you know,
(How _do_ you make 'em? with your toe?)
And the receipts which thence might flow,
  We could divide between us;
Still more attractions to combine,
Beside these services of mine,
I will throw in a very fine
(It would do nicely for a sign)     600
  Original Titian's Venus.'
Another offered handsome fees
If Knott would get Demosthenes
(Nay, his mere knuckles, for more ease)
To rap a few short sentences;
Or if, for want of proper keys,
  His Greek might make confusion,
Then just to get a rap from Burke,
To recommend a little work
  On Public Elocution.     610
Meanwhile, the spirits made replies
To all the reverent _whats_ and _whys_,
Resolving doubts of every size,
And giving seekers grave and wise,
Who came to know their destinies,
  A rap-turous reception;
When unbelievers void of grace
Came to investigate the place,
(Creatures of Sadducistic race,
With grovelling intellects and base,)     620
They could not find the slightest trace
  To indicate deception;
Indeed, it is declared by some
That spirits (of this sort) are glum,
Almost, or wholly, deaf and dumb,
And (out of self-respect) quite mum
To skeptic natures cold and numb
Who of _this_ kind of Kingdom Come
  Have not a just conception:
True, there were people who demurred     630
That, though the raps no doubt were heard
Both under them and o'er them,
Yet, somehow, when a search they made,
They found Miss Jenny sore afraid,
Or Jenny's lover, Doctor Slade,
Equally awestruck and dismayed,
Or Deborah, the chambermaid,
Whose terrors not to be gainsaid
In laughs hysteric were displayed,
  Was always there before them;
This had its due effect with some
Who straight departed, muttering, Hum!     642
  Transparent hoax! and Gammon!
But these were few: believing souls,
Came, day by day, in larger shoals,
As the ancients to the windy holes
'Neath Delphi's tripod brought their doles,
  Or to the shrine of Ammon.

The spirits seemed exceeding tame,
Call whom you fancied, and he came;     650
The shades august of eldest fame
  You summoned with an awful ease;
As grosser spirits gurgled out
From chair and table with a spout,
In Auerbach's cellar once, to flout
The senses of the rabble rout,
Where'er the gimlet twirled about
  Of cunning Mephistopheles,
So did these spirits seem in store,
Behind the wainscot or the door,
Ready to thrill the being's core
Of every enterprising bore     662
  With their astounding glamour;
Whatever ghost one wished to hear,
By strange coincidence, was near
To make the past or future clear
  (Sometimes in shocking grammar)
By raps and taps, now there, now here--
It seemed as if the spirit queer
Of some departed auctioneer              670
Were doomed to practise by the year
  With the spirit of his hammer:
Whate'er you asked was answered, yet
One could not very deeply get
Into the obliging spirits' debt,
Because they used the alphabet
  In all communications,
And new revealings (though sublime)
Rapped out, one letter at a time,
  With boggles, hesitations,            680
Stoppings, beginnings o'er again,
And getting matters into train,
Could hardly overload the brain
  With too excessive rations,
Since just to ask _if two and two
Really make four? or, How d' ye do_?
And get the fit replies thereto
In the tramundane rat-tat-too,
  Might ask a whole day's patience.

'Twas strange ('mongst other things) to find         690
In what odd sets the ghosts combined,
  Happy forthwith to thump any
Piece of intelligence inspired,
The truth whereof had been inquired
  By some one of the company;
For instance, Fielding, Mirabeau,
Orator Henley, Cicero,
Paley, John Ziska, Marivaux,
Melancthon, Robertson, Junot,                      699
Scaliger, Chesterfield, Rousseau,
Hakluyt, Boccaccio, South, De Foe,
Diaz, Josephus, Richard Roe,
Odin, Arminius, Charles _le gros_,
Tiresias, the late James Crow,
Casabianca, Grose, Prideaux,
Old Grimes, Young Norval, Swift, Brissot,
Malmonides, the Chevalier D'O,
Socrates, Fénelon, Job, Stow.
The inventor of _Elixir pro_,
Euripides, Spinoza, Poe,                      710
Confucius, Hiram Smith, and Fo,
Came (as it seemed, somewhat _de trop_)
With a disembodied Esquimaux,
To say that it was so and so,
  With Franklin's expedition;
One testified to ice and snow,
One that the mercury was low,
One that his progress was quite slow,
One that he much desired to go,
One that the cook had frozen his toe,            720
(Dissented from by Dandolo,
Wordsworth, Cynaegirus, Boileau,
La Hontan, and Sir Thomas Roe,)
One saw twelve white bears in a row,
One saw eleven and a crow,
With other things we could not know
(Of great statistic value, though,)
  By our mere mortal vision.

Sometimes the spirits made mistakes,
And seemed to play at ducks and drakes.             730
With bold inquiry's heaviest stakes
  In science or in mystery:
They knew so little (and that wrong)
Yet rapped it out so bold and strong,
One would have said the unnumbered throng
  Had been Professors of History;
What made it odder was, that those
Who, you would naturally suppose,
Could solve a question, if they chose,
As easily as count their toes,         740
  Were just the ones that blundered;
One day, Ulysses happening down,
A reader of Sir Thomas Browne
  And who (with him) had wondered
What song it was the Sirens sang,
Asked the shrewd Ithacan--_bang! bang!_
With this response the chamber rang,
  'I guess it was Old Hundred.'
And Franklin, being asked to name
The reason why the lightning came,     750
  Replied, 'Because it thundered.'

On one sole point the ghosts agreed
One fearful point, than which, indeed,
  Nothing could seem absurder;
Poor Colonel Jones they all abused
And finally downright accused
  The poor old man of murder;
'Twas thus; by dreadful raps was shown
Some spirit's longing to make known
A bloody fact, which he alone          760
Was privy to, (such ghosts more prone
  In Earth's affairs to meddle are;)
_Who are you?_ with awe-stricken looks,
All ask: his airy knuckles he crooks,
And raps, 'I _was_ Eliab Snooks,
  That used to be a pedler;
Some on ye still are on my books!'
Whereat, to inconspicuous nooks,
(More fearing this than common spooks)
  Shrank each indebted meddler;
Further the vengeful ghost declared     771
That while his earthly life was spared,
About the country he had fared,
  A duly licensed follower
Of that much-wandering trade that wins
Slow profit from the sale of tins
  And various kinds of hollow-ware;
That Colonel Jones enticed him in,
Pretending that he wanted tin,
There slew him with a rolling-pin,
Hid him in a potato-bin,             781
  And (the same night) him ferried
Across Great Pond to t'other shore,
And there, on land of Widow Moore,
Just where you turn to Larkin's store,
  Under a rock him buried;
Some friends (who happened to be by)
He called upon to testify
That what he said was not a lie,
  And that he did not stir this      790
Foul matter, out of any spite
But from a simple love of right;--
  Which statements the Nine Worthies,
Rabbi Akiba, Charlemagne,
Seth, Golley Gibber, General Wayne,
Cambyses, Tasso, Tubal-Cain,
The owner of a castle in Spain,
Jehanghire, and the Widow of Nain,
(The friends aforesaid,) made more plain
  And by loud raps attested;         800
To the same purport testified
Plato, John Wilkes, and Colonel Pride
Who knew said Snooks before he died,
  Had in his wares invested,
Thought him entitled to belief
And freely could concur, in brief,
  In everything the rest did.

Eliab this occasion seized,
(Distinctly here the spirit sneezed,)
To say that he should ne'er be eased     810
Till Jenny married whom she pleased,
  Free from all checks and urgin's,
(This spirit dropt his final g's)
And that, unless Knott quickly sees
This done, the spirits to appease,
They would come back his life to tease,
As thick as mites in ancient cheese,
And let his house on an endless lease
To the ghosts (terrific rappers these
And veritable Eumenides)     820
  Of the Eleven Thousand Virgins!

Knott was perplexed and shook his head,
He did not wish his child to wed
  With a suspected murderer,
(For, true or false, the rumor spread,)
But as for this roiled life he led,
'It would not answer,' so he said,
  'To have it go no furderer.'
At last, scarce knowing what it meant,
Reluctantly he gave consent     830
That Jenny, since 'twas evident
That she _would_ follow her own bent,
  Should make her own election;
For that appeared the only way
These frightful noises to allay
Which had already turned him gray
  And plunged him in dejection.

Accordingly, this artless maid
Her father's ordinance obeyed,     839
And, all in whitest crape arrayed,
(Miss Pulsifer the dresses made
And wishes here the fact displayed
That she still carries on the trade,
The third door south from Bagg's Arcade,)
A very faint 'I do' essayed
And gave her hand to Hiram Slade,
From which time forth, the ghosts were laid,
  And ne'er gave trouble after;
But the Selectmen, be it known,
Dug underneath the aforesaid stone,     850
Where the poor pedler's corpse was thrown,
And found thereunder a jaw-bone,
Though, when the crowner sat thereon,
He nothing hatched, except alone
  Successive broods of laughter;
It was a frail and dingy thing,
In which a grinder or two did cling,
  In color like molasses,
Which surgeons, called from far and wide.
Upon the horror to decide,     860
  Having put on their glasses,
Reported thus: 'To judge by looks,
These bones, by some queer hooks or crooks,
May have belonged to Mr. Snooks,
But, as men deepest read in books
  Are perfectly aware, bones,
If buried fifty years or so,
Lose their identity and grow
  From human bones to bare bones.'

Still, if to Jaalam you go down,
You'll find two parties in the town,     871
One headed by Benaiah Brown,
  And one by Perez Tinkham;
The first believe the ghosts all through
And vow that they shall never rue
The happy chance by which they knew
That people in Jupiter are blue,
And very fond of Irish stew,
Two curious facts which Prince Lee Boo     879
Rapped clearly to a chosen few--
  Whereas the others think 'em
A trick got up by Doctor Slade
With Deborah the chambermaid
  And that sly cretur Jinny.
That all the revelations wise,
At which the Brownites made big eyes,
Might have been given by Jared Keyes,
  A natural fool and ninny,
And, last week, didn't Eliab Snooks
Come back with never better looks,     890
As sharp as new-bought mackerel hooks,
  And bright as a new pin, eh?
Good Parson Wilbur, too, avers
(Though to be mixed in parish stirs
Is worse than handling chestnut-burrs)
That no case to his mind occurs
Where spirits ever did converse,
Save in a kind of guttural Erse,
  (So say the best authorities;)
And that a charge by raps conveyed     900
Should be most scrupulously weighed
  And searched into, before it is
Made public, since it may give pain
That cannot soon be cured again,
And one word may infix a stain
  Which ten cannot gloss over,
Though speaking for his private part,
He is rejoiced with all his heart
  Miss Knott missed not her lover.



FRAGMENTS OF AN UNFINISHED POEM

I am a man of forty, sirs, a native of East Haddam,
And have some reason to surmise that I descend from Adam;
But what's my pedigree to you? That I will soon unravel;
I've sucked my Haddam-Eden dry, therefore desire to travel,
And, as a natural consequence, presume I needn't say,
I wish to write some letters home and have those letters p----
[I spare the word suggestive of those grim Next Morns that mount
_Clump, Clump_, the stairways of the brain with--'_Sir, my small
  account_,'
And, after every good we gain--Love, Fame, Wealth, Wisdom--still,
As punctual as a cuckoo clock, hold up their little bill,     10
The _garçons_ in our Café of Life, by dreaming us forgot--
Sitting, like Homer's heroes, full and musing God knows what,--
Till they say, bowing, _S'il vous plait, voila, Messieurs, la note!_]
I would not hint at this so soon, but in our callous day,
The Tollman Debt, who drops his bar across the world's highway,
Great Cæsar in mid-march would stop, if Cæsar could not pay;
Pilgriming's dearer than it was: men cannot travel now
Scot-free from Dan to Beersheba upon a simple vow;
Nay, as long back as Bess's time,--when Walsingham went over
Ambassador to Cousin France, at Canterbury and Dover     20
He was so fleeced by innkeepers that, ere he quitted land,
He wrote to the Prime Minister to take the knaves in hand.
If I with staff and scallop-shell should try my way to win,
Would Bonifaces quarrel as to who should take me in?
Or would my pilgrim's progress end where Bunyan started his on,
And my grand tour be round and round the backyard of a prison?
I give you here a saying deep and therefore, haply true;
'Tis out of Merlin's prophecies, but quite as good as new:
The question boath for men and meates longe voyages yt beginne
Lyes in a notshell, rather saye lyes in a case of tinne.       20
But, though men may not travel now, as in the Middle Ages,
With self-sustaining retinues of little gilt-edged pages,
Yet one may manage pleasantly, where'er he likes to roam,
By sending his small pages (at so much per small page) home;
And if a staff and scallop-shell won't serve so well as then,
Our outlay is about as small--just paper, ink, and pen.
Be thankful! Humbugs never die, more than the wandering Jew;
Bankrupt, they publish their own deaths, slink for a while from view,
Then take an _alias_, change the sign, and the old trade renew;
Indeed, 'tis wondrous how each Age, though laughing at the Past,      40
Insists on having its tight shoe made on the same old last;
How it is sure its system would break up at once without
The bunion which it _will_ believe hereditary gout;
How it takes all its swans for geese, nay, stranger yet and sadder,
Sees in its treadmill's fruitless jog a heavenward Jacob's-ladder,
Shouts, _Lo, the Shining Heights are reached! One moment, more aspire!_
Trots into cramps its poor, dear legs, gets never an inch the higher,
And like the others, ends with pipe and mug beside the fire.
There, 'tween each doze, it whiffs and sips and watches with a sneer
The green recruits that trudge and sweat where it had swinked
  whilere,     50
And sighs to think this soon spent zeal should be in simple truth,
The only interval between old Fogyhood and Youth:
'Well,' thus it muses, 'well, what odds? 'Tis not for us to warn;
'Twill be the same when we are dead, and was ere we were born;
Without the Treadmill, too, how grind our store of winter's corn?
Had we no stock, nor twelve per cent received from Treadmill shares,
We might ... but these poor devils at last will get our easy chairs.
High aims and hopes have great rewards, they, too, serene and snug,
Shall one day have their soothing pipe and their enlivening mug;
From Adam, empty-handed Youth hath always heard the hum     60
Of Good Times Coming, and will hear until the last day come;
Young ears Hear forward, old ones back, and, while the earth rolls on,
Full-handed Eld shall hear recede the steps of Good Times Gone;
Ah what a cackle we set up whene'er an egg was laid!
_Cack-cack-cack-cackle!_ rang around, the scratch for worms was stayed,
_Cut-cut-ca-dah-cut!_ from _this_ egg the coming cock shall stalk!
The great New Era dawns, the age of Deeds and not of Talk!
And every stupid hen of us hugged close his egg of chalk,
Thought,--sure, I feel life stir within, each day with greater strength,
When lo, the chick! from former chicks he differed not a jot,     70
But grew and crew and scratched and went, like those before, to pot!'
So muse the dim _Emeriti_, and, mournful though it be,
I must confess a kindred thought hath sometimes come to me,
Who, though but just of forty turned, have heard the rumorous fame
Of nine and ninety Coming Men, all--coming till they came.
Pure Mephistopheles all this? the vulgar nature jeers?
Good friend, while I was writing it, my eyes were dim with tears;
Thrice happy he who cannot see, or who his eyes can shut,
Life's deepest sorrow is contained in that small word there--But!

       *       *       *       *       *

We're pretty nearly crazy here with change and go ahead,      80
With flinging our caught bird away for two i' th' bush instead,
With butting 'gainst the wall which we declare _shall_ be a portal,
And questioning Deeps that never yet have oped their lips to mortal;
We're growing pale and hollow-eyed, and out of all condition,
With _mediums_ and prophetic chairs, and crickets with a mission,
(The most astounding oracles since Balaam's donkey spoke,--
'Twould seem our furniture was all of Dodonean oak.)
Make but the public laugh, be sure 'twill take you to be somebody;
'Twill wrench its button from your clutch, my densely earnest glum body;
'Tis good, this noble earnestness, good in its place, but why      90
Make great Achilles' shield the pan to bake a penny pie?
Why, when we have a kitchen-range, insist that we shall stop,
And bore clear down to central fires to broil our daily chop?
Excalibur and Durandart are swords of price, but then
Why draw them sternly when you wish to trim your nails or pen?
Small gulf between the ape and man; you bridge it with your staff;
But it will be impassable until the ape can laugh;--
No, no, be common now and then, be sensible, be funny,
And, as Siberians bait their traps for bears with pots of honey,
From which ere they'll withdraw their snouts, they'll suffer many a
  club-lick,     100
So bait your moral figure-of-fours to catch the Orson public.
Look how the dead leaves melt their way down through deep-drifted snow;
They take the sun-warmth down with them--pearls could not conquer so;
There _is_ a moral here, you see: if you would preach, you must
Steep all your truths in sunshine would you have them pierce the crust;
Brave Jeremiah, you are grand and terrible, a sign
And wonder, but were never quite a popular divine;
Fancy the figure you would cut among the nuts and wine!
I, on occasion, too, could preach, but hold it wiser far
To give the public sermons it will take with its cigar,      110
And morals fugitive, and vague as are these smoke-wreaths light
In which ... I trace ... a ... let me see--bless me! 'tis out of sight.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are some goodish things at sea; for instance, one can feel
A grandeur in the silent man forever at the wheel,
That bit of two-legged intellect, that particle of drill,
Who the huge floundering hulk inspires with reason, brain, and will,
And makes the ship, though skies are black and headwinds whistle loud,
Obey her conscience there which feels the loadstar through the cloud;
And when by lusty western gales the full-sailed barque is hurled,
Towards the great moon which, setting on, the silent underworld,     120
Rounds luridly up to look on ours, and shoots a broadening line,
Of palpitant light from crest to crest across the ridgy brine,
Then from the bows look back and feel a thrill that never stales,
In that full-bosomed, swan-white pomp of onward-yearning sails;
Ah, when dear cousin Bull laments that you can't make a poem,
Take him aboard a clipper-ship, young Jonathan, and show him
A work of art that in its grace and grandeur may compare
With any thing that any race has fashioned any where;
'Tis not a statue, grumbles John; nay, if you come to that,
We think of Hyde Park Corner, and concede you beat us flat     130
With your equestrian statue to a Nose and a Cocked hat;
But 'tis not a cathedral; well, e'en that we will allow,
Both statues and cathedrals are anachronistic now;
Your minsters, coz, the monuments of men who conquered you,
You'd sell a bargain, if we'd take the deans and chapters too;
No; mortal men build nowadays, as always heretofore,
Good temples to the gods which they in very truth adore;
The shepherds of this Broker Age, with all their willing flocks,
Although they bow to stones no more, do bend the knee to stocks,
And churches can't be beautiful though crowded, floor and gallery,     140
If people worship preacher, and if preacher worship salary;
'Tis well to look things in the face, the god o' the modern universe,
Hermes, cares naught for halls of art and libraries of puny verse,
If they don't sell, he notes them thus upon his ledger--say, _per
Contra_ to a loss of so much stone, best Russia duck and paper;
And, after all, about this Art men talk a deal of fudge,
Each nation has its path marked out, from which it must not budge;
The Romans had as little art as Noah in his ark,
Yet somehow on this globe contrived to make an epic mark;     149
Religion, painting, sculpture, song--for these they ran up jolly ticks
With Greece and Egypt, but they were great artists in their politics,
And if we make no minsters, John, nor epics, yet the Fates
Are not entirely deaf to men who _can_ build ships and states;
The arts are never pioneers, but men have strength and health
Who, called on suddenly, can improvise a commonwealth,
Nay, can more easily go on and frame them by the dozen,
Than you can make a dinner-speech, dear sympathizing cousin;
And, though our restless Jonathan have not your graver bent, sure he
Does represent this hand-to-mouth, pert, rapid nineteenth century;
This is the Age of Scramble; men move faster than they did     160
When they pried up the imperial Past's deep-dusted coffin-lid,
Searching for scrolls of precedent; the wire-leashed lightning now
Replaces Delphos--men don't leave the steamer for the scow;
What public, were they new to-day, would ever stop to read
The Iliad, the Shanàmeh, or the Nibelungenlied?
_Their_ public's gone, the artist Greek, the lettered Shah,
  the hairy Graf--
Folio and plesiosaur sleep well; _we_ weary o'er a paragraph;
The mind moves planet-like no more, it fizzes, cracks, and bustles;
From end to end with journals dry the land o'ershadowed rustles,
As with dead leaves a winter-beech, and, with their breath-roused
  jars      170
Amused, we care not if they hide the eternal skies and stars;
Down to the general level of the Board of Brokers sinking,
The Age takes in the newspapers, or, to say sooth unshrinking,
The newspapers take in the Age, and stocks do all the thinking.



AN ORIENTAL APOLOGUE

  Somewhere in India, upon a time,
(Read it not Injah, or you spoil the verse,)
  There dwelt two saints whose privilege sublime
It was to sit and watch the world grow worse,
  Their only care (in that delicious clime)
At proper intervals to pray and curse;
  Pracrit the dialect each prudent brother
  Used for himself, Damnonian for the other.

  One half the time of each was spent in praying
For blessings on his own unworthy head,                10
  The other half in fearfully portraying
Where certain folks would go when they were dead;
  This system of exchanges--there's no saying
To what more solid barter 'twould have led,
  But that a river, vext with boils and swellings
  At rainy times, kept peace between their dwellings.

  So they two played at wordy battledore
And kept a curse forever in the air,
  Flying this way or that from shore to shore;
Nor other labor did this holy pair,                 20
  Clothed and supported from the lavish store
Which crowds lanigerous brought with daily care;
  They toiled not, neither did they spin; their bias
  Was tow'rd the harder task of being pious.

  Each from his hut rushed six score times a day,
Like a great canon of the Church full-rammed
  With cartridge theologic, (so to say,)
Touched himself off, and then, recoiling, slammed
  His hovel's door behind him in away
That to his foe said plainly,--_you'll_ be damned;      30
  And so like Potts and Wainwright, shrill and strong
  The two D---- D'd each other all day long.

  One was a dancing Dervise, a Mohammedan,
The other was a Hindoo, a gymnosophist;
  One kept his whatd'yecallit and his Ramadan,
Laughing to scorn the sacred rites and laws of his
  Transfluvial rival, who, in turn, called Ahmed an
Old top, and, as a clincher, shook across a fist
  With nails six inches long, yet lifted not
  His eyes from off his navel's mystic knot.              40

  'Who whirls not round six thousand times an hour
Will go,' screamed Ahmed, 'to the evil place;
  May he eat dirt, and may the dog and Giaour
Defile the graves of him and all his race;
  Allah loves faithful souls and gives them power
To spin till they are purple in the face;
  Some folks get you know what, but he that pure is
  Earns Paradise and ninety thousand houris.'

  'Upon the silver mountain, South by East,
Sits Brahma fed upon the sacred bean;                 30
  He loves those men whose nails are still increased,
Who all their lives keep ugly, foul, and lean;
  'Tis of his grace that not a bird or beast
Adorned with claws like mine was ever seen;
  The suns and stars are Brahma's thoughts divine,
  Even as these trees I seem to see are mine.'

  'Thou seem'st to see, indeed!' roared Ahmed back;
'Were I but once across this plaguy stream,
  With a stout sapling in my hand, one whack
On those lank ribs would rid thee of that dream!          60
  Thy Brahma-blasphemy is ipecac
To my soul's stomach; couldst thou grasp the scheme
  Of true redemption, thou wouldst know that Deity
  Whirls by a kind of blessed spontaneity.

  'And this it is which keeps our earth here going
With all the stars.'--'Oh, vile! but there's a place
  Prepared for such; to think of Brahma throwing
Worlds like a juggler's balls up into Space!
  Why, not so much as a smooth lotos blowing
Is e'er allowed that silence to efface                70
  Which broods round Brahma, and our earth, 'tis known,
  Rests on a tortoise, moveless as this stone.'

  So they kept up their banning amoebæan,
When suddenly came floating down the stream
  A youth whose face like an incarnate pæan
Glowed, 'twas so full of grandeur and of gleam;
  'If there _be_ gods, then, doubtless, this must be one,'
Thought both at once, and then began to scream,
  'Surely, whate'er immortals know, thou knowest,
  Decide between us twain before thou goest!'            80

  The youth was drifting in a slim canoe
Most like a huge white water-lily's petal,
  But neither of our theologians knew
Whereof 'twas made; whether of heavenly metal
  Seldseen, or of a vast pearl split in two
And hollowed, was a point they could not settle;
  'Twas good debate-seed, though, and bore large fruit
  In after years of many a tart dispute.

  There were no wings upon the stranger's shoulders.
And yet he seemed so capable of rising     90
  That, had he soared like thistle-down, beholders
Had thought the circumstance noways surprising;
  Enough that he remained, and, when the scolders
Hailed him as umpire in their vocal prize-ring,
  The painter of his boat he lightly threw
  Around a lotos-stem, and brought her to.

  The strange youth had a look as if he might
Have trod far planets where the atmosphere
  (Of nobler temper) steeps the face with light,
Just as our skins are tanned and freckled here;     100
  His air was that of a cosmopolite
In the wide universe from sphere to sphere;
  Perhaps he was (his face had such grave beauty)
  An officer of Saturn's guards off duty.

  Both saints began to unfold their tales at once,
Both wished their tales, like simial ones, prehensile,
  That they might seize his ear; _fool! knave!_ and _dunce!_
Flew zigzag back and forth, like strokes of pencil
  In a child's fingers; voluble as duns,
They jabbered like the stones on that immense hill     110
  In the Arabian Nights; until the stranger
  Began to think his ear-drums in some danger.

  In general those who nothing have to say
Contrive to spend the longest time in doing it;
  They turn and vary it in every way,
Hashing it, stewing it, mincing it, _ragouting_ it;
  Sometimes they keep it purposely at bay,
Then let it slip to be again pursuing it;
  They drone it, groan it, whisper it and shout it,
  Refute it, flout it, swear to 't, prove it, doubt it.     120

  Our saints had practised for some thirty years;
Their talk, beginning with a single stem,
  Spread like a banyan, sending down live piers,
Colonies of digression, and, in them,
  Germs of yet new dispersion; once by the ears,
They could convey damnation in a hem,
  And blow the pinch of premise-priming off
  Long syllogistic batteries, with a cough.

  Each had a theory that the human ear
A providential tunnel was, which led      130
  To a huge vacuum (and surely here
They showed some knowledge of the general head,)
  For cant to be decanted through, a mere
Auricular canal or mill-race fed
  All day and night, in sunshine and in shower,
  From their vast heads of milk-and-water-power.

  The present being a peculiar case,
Each with unwonted zeal the other scouted,
  Put his spurred hobby through its every pace,     139
Pished, pshawed, poohed, horribled, bahed, jeered, sneered, flouted,
  Sniffed, nonsensed, infideled, fudged, with his face
Looked scorn too nicely shaded to be shouted,
  And, with each inch of person and of vesture,
  Contrived to hint some most disdainful gesture.

  At length, when their breath's end was come about,
And both could now and then just gasp 'impostor!'
  Holding their heads thrust menacingly out,
As staggering cocks keep up their fighting posture,
  The stranger smiled and said, 'Beyond a doubt
'Tis fortunate, my friends, that you have lost your     150
  United parts of speech, or it had been
  Impossible for me to get between.

  'Produce! says Nature,--what have you produced?
A new strait-waistcoat for the human mind;
  Are you not limbed, nerved, jointed, arteried, juiced,
As other men? yet, faithless to your kind,
  Rather like noxious insects you are used
To puncture life's fair fruit, beneath the rind
  Laying your creed-eggs, whence in time there spring
  Consumers new to eat and buzz and sting.     160

  'Work! you have no conception how 'twill sweeten
Your views of Life and Nature, God and Man;
  Had you been forced to earn what you have eaten,
Your heaven had shown a less dyspeptic plan;
  At present your whole function is to eat ten
And talk ten times as rapidly as you can;
  Were your shape true to cosmogonic laws,
  You would be nothing but a pair of jaws.

  'Of all the useless beings in creation
The earth could spare most easily you bakers     170
  Of little clay gods, formed in shape and fashion
Precisely in the image of their makers;
  Why it would almost move a saint to passion,
To see these blind and deaf, the hourly breakers
  Of God's own image in their brother men,
  Set themselves up to tell the how, where, when,

  'Of God's existence; one's digestion's worse--
So makes a god of vengeance and of blood;
  Another,--but no matter, they reverse
Creation's plan, out of their own vile mud     180
  Pat up a god, and burn, drown, hang, or curse
Whoever worships not; each keeps his stud
  Of texts which wait with saddle on and bridle
  To hunt down atheists to their ugly idol.

  'This, I perceive, has been your occupation;
You should have been more usefully employed;
  All men are bound to earn their daily ration,
Where States make not that primal contract void
  By cramps and limits; simple devastation
Is the worm's task, and what he has destroyed     190
  His monument; creating is man's work,
  And that, too, something more than mist and murk.'

  So having said, the youth was seen no more,
And straightway our sage Brahmin, the philosopher,
  Cried, 'That was aimed at thee, thou endless bore,
Idle and useless as the growth of moss over
  A rotting tree-trunk!' 'I would square that score
Full soon,' replied the Dervise, 'could I cross over
  And catch thee by the beard. Thy nails I'd trim
  And make thee work, as was advised by him.     200

  'Work? Am I not at work from morn till night
Sounding the deeps of oracles umbilical
  Which for man's guidance never come to light,
With all their various aptitudes, until I call?'
  'And I, do I not twirl from left to right
For conscience' sake? Is that no work? Thou silly gull,
  He had thee in his eye; 'twas Gabriel
  Sent to reward my faith, I know him well.'

  'Twas Vishnu, thou vile whirligig!' and so
The good old quarrel was begun anew;     210
  One would have sworn the sky was black as sloe,
Had but the other dared to call it blue;
  Nor were the followers who fed them slow
To treat each other with their curses, too,
  Each hating t'other (moves it tears or laughter?)
  Because he thought him sure of hell hereafter.

  At last some genius built a bridge of boats
Over the stream, and Ahmed's zealots filed
  Across, upon a mission to (cut throats
And) spread religion pure and undefiled;     220
  They sowed the propagandist's wildest oats,
Cutting off all, down to the smallest child,
  And came back, giving thanks for such fat mercies,
  To find their harvest gone past prayers or curses.

  All gone except their saint's religious hops,
Which he kept up with more than common flourish;
  But these, however satisfying crops
For the inner man, were not enough to nourish
  The body politic, which quickly drops
Reserve in such sad junctures, and turns currish;        230
  So Ahmed soon got cursed for all the famine
  Where'er the popular voice could edge a damn in.

  At first he pledged a miracle quite boldly.
And, for a day or two, they growled and waited;
  But, finding that this kind of manna coldly
Sat on their stomachs, they erelong berated
  The saint for still persisting in that old lie,
Till soon the whole machine of saintship grated,
  Ran slow, creaked, stopped, and, wishing him in Tophet,
  They gathered strength enough to stone the prophet.    240

  Some stronger ones contrived (by eatting leather,
Their weaker friends, and one thing or another)
  The winter months of scarcity to weather;
Among these was the late saint's younger brother,
  Who, in the spring, collecting them together,
Persuaded them that Ahmed's holy pother
  Had wrought in their behalf, and that the place
  Of Saint should be continued to his race.

  Accordingly, 'twas settled on the spot
That Allah favored that peculiar breed;           250
  Beside, as all were satisfied, 'twould not
Be quite respectable to have the need
  Of public spiritual food forgot;
And so the tribe, with proper forms, decreed
  That he, and, failing him, his next of kin,
  Forever for the people's good should spin.



THE BIGLOW PAPERS

FIRST SERIES

NOTICES OF AN INDEPENDENT PRESS


[I have observed, reader (bene-or male-volent, as it may happen), that
it is customary to append to the second editions of books, and to the
second works of authors, short sentences commendatory of the first,
under the title of _Notices of the Press_. These, I have been given to
understand, are procurable at certain established rates, payment being
made either in money or advertising patronage by the publisher, or by an
adequate outlay of servility on the part of the author. Considering
these things with myself, and also that such notices are neither
intended, nor generally believed, to convey any real opinions, being a
purely ceremonial accompaniment of literature, and resembling
certificates to the virtues of various morbiferal panaceas, I conceived
that it would be not only more economical to prepare a sufficient number
of such myself, but also more immediately subservient to the end in view
to prefix them to this our primary edition rather than to await the
contingency of a second, when they would seem to be of small utility. To
delay attaching the _bobs_ until the second attempt at flying the kite
would indicate but a slender experience in that useful art. Neither has
it escaped my notice nor failed to afford me matter of reflection, that,
when a circus or a caravan is about to visit Jaalam, the initial step is
to send forward large and highly ornamented bills of performance, to be
hung in the bar-room and the post-office. These having been sufficiently
gazed at, and beginning to lose their attractiveness except for the
flies, and, truly, the boys also (in whom I find it impossible to
repress, even during school-hours, certain oral and telegraphic
communications concerning the expected show), upon some fine morning the
band enters in a gayly painted wagon, or triumphal chariot, and with
noisy advertisement, by means of brass, wood, and sheepskin, makes the
circuit of our startled village streets. Then, as the exciting sounds
draw nearer and nearer, do I desiderate those eyes of Aristarchus,
'whose looks were as a breeching to a boy.' Then do I perceive, with
vain regret of wasted opportunities, the advantage of a pancratic or
pantechnic education, since he is most reverenced by my little subjects
who can throw the cleanest summerset or walk most securely upon the
revolving cask. The story of the Pied Piper becomes for the first time
credible to me (albeit confirmed by the Hameliners dating their legal
instruments from the period of his exit), as I behold how those strains,
without pretence of magical potency, bewitch the pupillary legs, nor
leave to the pedagogic an entire self-control. For these reasons, lest
my kingly prerogative should suffer diminution, I prorogue my restless
commons, whom I follow into the street, chiefly lest some mischief may
chance befall them. After the manner of such a band, I send forward the
following notices of domestic manufacture, to make brazen proclamation,
not unconscious of the advantage which will accrue, if our little craft,
_cymbula sutilis_, shall seem to leave port with a clipping breeze, and
to carry, in nautical phrase, a bone in her mouth. Nevertheless, I have
chosen, as being more equitable, to prepare some also sufficiently
objurgatory, that readers of every taste may find a dish to their
palate. I have modelled them upon actually existing specimens, preserved
in my own cabinet of natural curiosities. One, in particular, I had
copied with tolerable exactness from a notice of one of my own
discourses, which, from its superior tone and appearance of vast
experience, I concluded to have been written by a man at least three
hundred years of age, though I recollected no existing instance of such
antediluvian longevity. Nevertheless, I afterwards discovered the author
to be a young gentleman preparing for the ministry under the direction
of one of my brethren in a neighboring town, and whom I had once
instinctively corrected in a Latin quantity. But this I have been
forced to omit, from its too great length.--H.W.]

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the Universal Littery Universe_.

Full of passages which rivet the attention of the reader.... Under a
rustic garb, sentiments are conveyed which should be committed to the
memory and engraven on the heart of every moral and social being.... We
consider this a _unique_ performance.... We hope to see it soon
introduced into our common schools.... Mr. Wilbur has performed his
duties as editor with excellent taste and judgment.... This is a vein
which we hope to see successfully prosecuted.... We hail the appearance
of this work as a long stride toward the formation of a purely
aboriginal, indigenous, native, and American literature. We rejoice to
meet with an author national enough to break away from the slavish
deference, too common among us, to English grammar and orthography....
Where all is so good, we are at a loss how to make extracts.... On the
whole, we may call it a volume which no library, pretending to entire
completeness, should fail to place upon its shelves.

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the Higginbottomopolis Snapping-turtle_.

A collection of the merest balderdash and doggerel that it was ever our
bad fortune to lay eyes on. The author is a vulgar buffoon, and the
editor a talkative, tedious old fool. We use strong language, but should
any of our readers peruse the book, (from which calamity Heaven preserve
them!) they will find reasons for it thick as the leaves of
Vallum-brozer, or, to use a still more expressive comparison, as the
combined heads of author and editor. The work is wretchedly got up....
We should like to know how much _British gold_ was pocketed by this
libeller of our country and her purest patriots.

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the Oldfogrumville Mentor_.

We have not had time to do more than glance through this handsomely
printed volume, but the name of its respectable editor, the Rev. Mr.
Wilbur, of Jaalam, will afford a sufficient guaranty for the worth of
its contents.... The paper is white, the type clear, and the volume of a
convenient and attractive size.... In reading this elegantly executed
work, it has seemed to us that a passage or two might have been
retrenched with advantage, and that the general style of diction was
susceptible of a higher polish.... On the whole, we may safely leave the
ungrateful task of criticism to the reader. We will barely suggest, that
in volumes intended, as this is, for the illustration of a provincial
dialect and turns of expression, a dash of humor or satire might be
thrown in with advantage.... The work is admirably got up.... This work
will form an appropriate ornament to the centre table. It is beautifully
printed, on paper of an excellent quality.

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the Dekay Bulwark_.

We should be wanting in our duty as the conductor of that tremendous
engine, a public press, as an American, and as a man, did we allow such
an opportunity as is presented to us by 'The Biglow Papers' to pass by
without entering our earnest protest against such attempts (now, alas!
too common) at demoralizing the public sentiment. Under a wretched mask
of stupid drollery, slavery, war, the social glass, and, in short, all
the valuable and time-honored institutions justly dear to our common
humanity and especially to republicans, are made the butt of coarse and
senseless ribaldry by this low-minded scribbler. It is time that the
respectable and religious portion of our community should be aroused to
the alarming inroads of foreign Jacobinism, sansculottism, and
infidelity. It is a fearful proof of the widespread nature of this
contagion, that these secret stabs at religion and virtue are given from
under the cloak (_credite, posteri!_) of a clergyman. It is a mournful
spectacle indeed to the patriot and Christian to see liberality and new
ideas (falsely so called,--they are as old as Eden) invading the sacred
precincts of the pulpit.... On the whole, we consider this volume as one
of the first shocking results which we predicted would spring out of the
late French 'Revolution' (!)

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the Bungtown Copper and Comprehensive Tocsin (a try-weakly family
journal)_.


Altogether an admirable work.... Full of humor, boisterous, but
delicate,--of wit withering and scorching, yet combined with a pathos
cool as morning dew,--of satire ponderous as the mace of Richard, yet
keen as the scymitar of Saladin.... A work full of 'mountain-mirth,'
mischievous as Puck, and lightsome as Ariel.... We know not whether to
admire most the genial, fresh, and discursive concinnity of the author,
or his playful fancy, weird imagination, and compass of style, at once
both objective and subjective.... We might indulge in some criticisms,
but, were the author other than he is, he would be a different being. As
it is, he has a wonderful _pose_, which flits from flower to flower, and
bears the reader irresistibly along on its eagle pinions (like Ganymede)
to the 'highest heaven of invention.' ... We love a book so purely
objective ... Many of his pictures of natural scenery have an
extraordinary subjective clearness and fidelity.... In fine, we consider
this as one of the most extraordinary volumes of this or any age. We
know of no English author who could have written it. It is a work to
which the proud genius of our country, standing with one foot on the
Aroostook and the other on the Rio Grande, and holding up the
star-spangled banner amid the wreck of matter and the crush of worlds,
may point with bewildering scorn of the punier efforts of enslaved
Europe.... We hope soon to encounter our author among those higher walks
of literature in which he is evidently capable of achieving enduring
fame. Already we should be inclined to assign him a high position in the
bright galaxy of our American bards.

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the Saltriver Pilot and Flag of Freedom._

A volume in bad grammar and worse taste.... While the pieces here
collected were confined to their appropriate sphere in the corners of
obscure newspapers, we considered them wholly beneath contempt, but, as
the author has chosen to come forward in this public manner, he must
expect the lash he so richly merits.... Contemptible slanders.... Vilest
Billingsgate.... Has raked all the gutters of our language.... The most
pure, upright, and consistent politicians not safe from his malignant
venom.... General Cushing comes in for a share of his vile calumnies....
The _Reverend_ Homer Wilbur is a disgrace to his cloth....

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the World-Harmonic-Æolian-Attachment_.

Speech is silver: silence is golden. No utterance more Orphic than this.
While, therefore, as highest author, we reverence him whose works
continue heroically unwritten, we have also our hopeful word for those
who with pen (from wing of goose loud-cackling, or seraph
God-commissioned) record the thing that is revealed.... Under mask of
quaintest irony, we detect here the deep, storm-tost (nigh ship-wracked)
soul, thunder-scarred, semi-articulate, but ever climbing hopefully
toward the peaceful summits of an Infinite Sorrow.... Yes, thou poor,
forlorn Hosea, with Hebrew fire-flaming soul in thee, for thee also this
life of ours has not been without its aspects of heavenliest pity and
laughingest mirth. Conceivable enough! Through coarse Thersites-cloak,
we have revelation of the heart, wild-glowing, world-clasping, that is
in him. Bravely he grapples with the life-problem as it presents itself
to him, uncombed, shaggy, careless of the 'nicer proprieties,' inexpert
of 'elegant diction,' yet with voice audible enough to whoso hath ears,
up there on the gravelly side-hills, or down on the splashy,
indiarubber-like salt-marshes of native Jaalam. To this soul also the
_Necessity of Creating_ somewhat has unveiled its awful front. If not
Oedipuses and Electras and Alcestises, then in God's name Birdofredum
Sawins! These also shall get born into the world, and filch (if so need)
a Zingali subsistence therein, these lank, omnivorous Yankees of his. He
shall paint the Seen, since the Unseen will not sit to him. Yet in him
also are Nibelungen-lays, and Iliads, and Ulysses-wanderings, and Divine
Comedies,--if only once he could come at them! Therein lies much, nay
all; for what truly is this which we name _All_, but that which we do
_not_ possess?... Glimpses also are given us of an old father Ezekiel,
not without paternal pride, as is the wont of such. A brown,
parchment-hided old man of the geoponic or bucolic species, gray-eyed,
we fancy, _queued_ perhaps, with much weather-cunning and plentiful
September-gale memories, bidding fair in good time to become the Oldest
Inhabitant. After such hasty apparition, he vanishes and is seen no
more.... Of 'Rev. Homer Wilbur, A.M., Pastor of the First Church in
Jaalam,' we have small care to speak here. Spare touch in him of his
Melesigenes namesake, save, haply, the--blindness! A tolerably
caliginose, nephelegeretous elderly gentleman, with infinite faculty of
sermonizing, muscularized by long practice and excellent digestive
apparatus, and, for the rest, well-meaning enough, and with small
private illuminations (somewhat tallowy, it is to be feared) of his own.
To him, there, 'Pastor of the First Church in Jaalam,' our Hosea
presents himself as a quite inexplicable Sphinx-riddle. A rich poverty
of Latin and Greek,--so far is clear enough, even to eyes peering myopic
through horn-lensed editorial spectacles,--but naught farther? O
purblind, well-meaning, altogether fuscous Melesigenes-Wilbur, there are
things in him incommunicable by stroke of birch! Did it ever enter that
old bewildered head of thine that there was the _Possibility of the
Infinite_ in him? To thee, quite wingless (and even featherless) biped,
has not so much even as a dream of wings ever come? 'Talented young
parishioner'? Among the Arts whereof thou art _Magister_, does that of
_seeing_ happen to be one? Unhappy _Artium Magister!_ Somehow a Nemean
lion, fulvous, torrid-eyed, dry-nursed in broad-howling
sand-wildernesses of a sufficiently rare spirit-Libya (it may be
supposed) has got whelped among the sheep. Already he stands
wild-glaring, with feet clutching the ground as with oak-roots,
gathering for a Remus-spring over the walls of thy little fold. In
heaven's name, go not near him with that flybite crook of thine! In good
time, thou painful preacher, thou wilt go to the appointed place of
departed Artillery-Election Sermons, Right-hands of Fellowship, and
Results of Councils, gathered to thy spiritual fathers with much Latin
of the Epitaphial sort; thou too, shalt have thy reward; but on him the
Eumenides have looked, not Xantippes of the pit, snake-tressed,
finger-threatening, but radiantly calm as on antique gems; for him paws
impatient the winged courser of the gods, champing unwelcome bit; him
the starry deeps, the empyrean glooms, and far-flashing splendors await.

       *       *       *       *       *

_From the Onion Grove Phoenix._

A talented young townsman of ours, recently returned from a Continental
tour, and who is already favorably known to our readers by his sprightly
letters from abroad which have graced our columns, called at our office
yesterday. We learn from him, that, having enjoyed the distinguished
privilege, while in Germany, of an introduction to the celebrated Von
Humbug, he took the opportunity to present that eminent man with a copy
of the 'Biglow Papers.' The next morning he received the following note,
which he has kindly furnished us for publication. We prefer to print it
_verbatim_, knowing that our readers will readily forgive the few errors
into which the lllustrious writer has fallen, through ignorance of our
language.

'HIGH-WORTHY MISTER!

'I shall also now especially happy starve, because I have more or less a
work of one those aboriginal Red-Men seen in which have I so deaf an
interest ever taken full-worthy on the self shelf with our Gottsched to
be upset.

'Pardon my in the English-speech un-practice!

'Von Humbug.'

He also sent with the above note a copy of his famous work on
'Cosmetics,' to be presented to Mr. Biglow; but this was taken from our
friend by the English custom-house officers, probably through a petty
national spite. No doubt, it has by this time found its way into the
British Museum. We trust this outrage will be exposed in all our
American papers. We shall do our best to bring it to the notice of the
State Department. Our numerous readers will share in the pleasure we
experience at seeing our young and vigorous national literature thus
encouragingly patted on the head by this venerable and world-renowned
German. We love to see these reciprocations of good-feeling between the
different branches of the great Anglo-Saxon race.

[The following genuine 'notice' having met my eye, I gladly insert a
portion of it here, the more especially as it contains one of Mr.
Biglow's poems not elsewhere printed.--H.W.]

_From the Jaalam Independent Blunderbuss._

... But, while we lament to see our young townsman thus mingling in the
heated contests of party politics, we think we detect in him the
presence of talents which, if properly directed, might give an innocent
pleasure to many. As a proof that he is competent to the production of
other kinds of poetry, we copy for our readers a short fragment of a
pastoral by him, the manuscript of which was loaned us by a friend. The
title of it is 'The Courtin'.'

Zekle crep' up, quite unbeknown,
  An' peeked in thru the winder,
An' there sot Huldy all alone,
  'ith no one nigh to hender.

Agin' the chimbly crooknecks hung,
  An' in amongst 'em rusted
The ole queen's-arm thet gran'ther Young
  Fetched back frum Concord busted.

The wannut logs shot sparkles out
  Towards the pootiest, bless her!
An' leetle fires danced all about
  The chlny on the dresser.

The very room, coz she wuz in,
  Looked warm frum floor to ceilin',
An' she looked full ez rosy agin
  Ez th' apples she wuz peelin'.

She heerd a foot an' knowed it, tu,
  Araspin' on the scraper,--
All ways to once her feelins flew
  Like sparks in burnt-up paper.

He kin' o' l'itered on the mat,
  Some doubtfle o' the seekle;
His heart kep' goin' pitypat,
  But hern went pity Zekle.

An' yet she gin her cheer a jerk
  Ez though she wished him furder,
An' on her apples kep' to work
  Ez ef a wager spurred her.

'You want to see my Pa, I spose?'
  'Wall, no; I come designin'--'
'To see my Ma? She's sprinklin' clo'es
  Agin to-morrow's i'nin'.'

He stood a spell on one foot fust,
  Then stood a spell on tother,
An' on which one he felt the wust
  He couldn't ha' told ye, nuther.

Sez he, 'I'd better call agin;'
  Sez she,'Think likely, _Mister;_'
The last word pricked him like a pin,
  An'--wal, he up and kist her.

When Ma bimeby upon 'em slips,
  Huldy sot pale ez ashes,
All kind o'smily round the lips
  An' teary round the lashes.

Her blood riz quick, though, like the tide
  Down to the Bay o' Fundy,
An' all I know is they wuz cried
  In meetin', come nex Sunday.


SATIS multis sese emptores futuros libri professis, Georgius Nichols,
Cantabrigiensis, opus emittet de parte gravi sed adhuc neglecta
historiæ naturalis, cum titulo sequente, videlicet:

_Conatus ad Delineationem naturalem nonnihil perfectiorem Scarabæi
Bombilatoris, vulgo dicti_ HUMBUG, ab HOMERO WILBUR, Artium Magistro,
Societatis historico-naturalis Jaalamensis Præside (Secretario,
Socioque (eheu!) singulo), multarumque aliarum Societatum eruditarum
(sive ineruditarum) tam domesticarum quam transmarinarum Socio--forsitan
futuro.



PROEMIUM

LECTORI BENEVOLO S.

Toga scholastica nondum deposita, quum systemata varia entomologica, a
viris ejus scientiæ cultoribus studiosissimis summa diligentia
ædificata, penitus indagassem, non fuit quin luctuose omnibus in iis,
quamvis aliter laude dignissimis, hiatum magni momenti perciperem. Tunc,
nescio quo motu superiore impulsus, aut qua captus dulcedine operis, ad
eum implendum (Curtius alter) me solemniter devovi. Nec ab isto labore,
[Greek: daimonios] imposito, abstinui antequam tractatulum sufficienter
inconcinnum lingua vernacula perfeceram. Inde, juveniliter tumefactus,
et barathro ineptiæ [Greek: ton bibliopolon] (necnon 'Publici
Legentis') nusquam explorato, me composuisse quod quasi placentas
præfervidas (ut sic dicam) homines ingurgitarent credidi. Sed, quum
huic et alio bibliopolæ MSS. mea submisissem et nihil solidius
responsione valde negativa in Musæum meum retulissem, horror ingens
atque misericordia, ob crassitudinem Lambertianam in cerebris
homunculorum istius muneris coelesti quadam ira infixam, me invasere.
Extemplo mei solius impensis librum edere decrevi, nihil omnino dubitans
quin 'Mundus Scientificus' (ut aiunt) crumenam meam ampliter repleret.
Nullam, attamen, ex agro illo meo parvulo segetem demessui præter
gaudium vacuum bene de Republica merendi. Iste panis meus pretiosus
super aquas literarias fæculentas præfidenter jactus, quasi Harpyiaram
quarundam (scilicet bibliopolarum istorum facinorosorum supradictorum)
tactu rancidus, intra perpaucos dies mihi domum rediit. Et, quum ipse
tali victu ali non tolerarem, primum in mentem venit pistori (typographo
nempe) nihilominus solvendum esse. Animum non idcirco demisi, imo æque
ac pueri naviculas suas penes se lino retinent (eo ut e recto cursu
delapsas ad ripam retrahant), sic ego Argâ meam chartaceam fluctibus
laborantem a quæsitu velleris aurei, ipse potius tonsus pelleque
exutus, mente solida revocavi. Metaphoram ut mutem, _boomarangam_ meam a
scopo aberrantem, retraxi, dum majore vi, occasione ministrante,
adversus Fortunam intorquerem. Ast mihi, talia volventi, et, sicut
Saturnus ille [Greek: paidoboros], liberos intellectûs mei depascere
fidenti, casus miserandus, nec antea inauditus, supervenit. Nam, ut
ferunt Scythas pietatis causa et parsimoniæ, parentes suos mortuos
devorâsse, sic filius hic meus primogenitus, Scythis ipsis minus
mansuetus, patrem vivum totum et calcitrantem exsorbere enixus est. Nec
tamen hac de causa sobolem meam esurientem exheredavi. Sed famem istam
pro valido testimonio virilitatis roborisque potius habui, cibumque ad
eam satiandam, salva paterna mea carne, petii. Et quia bilem illam
scaturientem ad æs etiam concoquendum idoneam esse estimabam, unde æs
alienum, ut minoris pretii, haberem, circumspexi. Rebus ita se
habentibus, ab avunculo meo Johanne Doolittie, Armigero, impetravi ut
pecunias necessarias suppeditaret, ne opus esset mihi universitatem
relinquendi antequam ad gradum primum in artibus pervenissem. Tune ego,
salvum facere patronum meum munificum maxime cupiens, omnes libros
primæ editionis operis mei non venditos una cum privilegio in omne
ævum ejusdem imprimendi et edendi avunculo meo dicto pigneravi. Ex illo
die, atro lapide notando, curæ vociferantes familiæ singulis annis
crescentis eo usque insultabant ut nunquam tam carum pignus e vinculis
istis aheneis solvere possem.

Avunculo vero nuper mortuo, quum inter alios consanguineos testamenti
ejus lectionem audiendi causa advenissem, erectis auribus verba talia
sequentia accepi: 'Quoniam persuasum habeo meum dilectum nepotem
Homerum, longa et intima rerum angustarum domi experientia, aptissimum
esse qui divitias tueatur, beneficenterque ac prudenter iis divinis
creditis utatur,--ergo, motus hisce cogitationibus, exque amore meo in
illum magno, do, legoque nepoti caro meo supranominato omnes
singularesque istas possessiones nec ponderabiles nec computabiles meas
quæ sequuntur, scilicet: quingentos libros quos mihi pigneravit dictus
Homerus, anno lucis 1792, cum privilegio edendi et repetendi opus istud
"scientificum" (quod dicunt) suum, si sic elegerit. Tamen D.O.M, precor
oculos Homeri nepotis mei ita aperiat eumque moveat, ut libros istos in
bibliotheca unius e plurimis castellis suis Hispaniensibus tuto
abscondat.'

His verbis vix credibilibus, auditis, cor meum in pectore exsultavit.
Deinde, quoniam tractatus Anglice scriptus spem auctoris fefellerat,
quippe quum studium Historiæ Naturalis in Republica nostra inter
factionis strepitum languescat, Latine versum edere statui, et eo potius
quia nescio quomodo disciplina academica et duo diplomata proficiant,
nisi quod peritos linguarum omnino mortuarum (et damnandarum, ut dicebat
iste [Greek: panourgos] Guilielmus Cobbett) nos faciant.

Et mihi adhue superstes est tota illa editio prima, quam quasi
crepitaculum per quod dentes caninos dentibam retineo.

       *       *       *       *       *

OPERIS SPECIMEN

(_Ad exemplum Johannis Physiophili speciminis Monachologiæ_)

12. S.B. _Militaris_, WILBUR. _Carnifex_, JABLONSK. _Profanus_, DESFONT.

[Male hanece speciem _Cyclopem_ Fabricius vocat, ut qui singulo oculo ad
quod sui interest distinguitur. Melius vero Isaacus Outis nullum inter
S. milit. S. que Belzebul (Fabric. 152) discrimen esse defendit]

Habitat civitat. Americ. austral.

Aureis lineis splendidus; plerumque tamen sordidus, utpote lanienas
valde frequentans, foetore sanguinis allectus. Amat quoque insuper septa
apricari, neque inde, nisi maxima conatione detruditur. _Candidatus_
ergo populariter vocatus. Caput cristam quasi pennarum ostendit. Pro
cibo vaccam publicam callide mulget; abdomen enorme; facultas suctus
haud facile estimanda. Otiosus, fatuus; ferox nihilominus, semperque
dimicare paratus. Tortuose repit.

Capite sæpe maxima cum cura dissecto, ne illud rudimentum etiam cerebri
commune omnibus prope insectis detegere poteram.

Unam de hoc S. milit. rem singularem notavi; nam S. Guineens. (Fabric.
143) servos facit, et idcirco a multis summa in reverentia habitus,
quasi scintillas rationis pæne humanæ demonstrans.

24. S.B. _Criticus_, WILBUR. _Zoilus_, FABRIC. _Pygmæus_, CARLSEN.

[Stultissime Johannes Stryx cum S. punctato (Fabric. 64-109) confundit.
Specimina quamplurima scrutationi microscopicæ subjeci, nunquam tamen
unum ulla indicia puncti cujusvis prorsus ostendentem inveni.]

Præcipue formidolosus, insectatusque, in proxima rima anonyma sese
abscondit, _we, we_, creberrime stridens. Ineptus, segnipes.

Habitat ubique gentium; in sicco; nidum suum terebratione indefessa
ædificans. Cibus. Libros depascit; siccos præcipue.



MELIBOEUS-HIPPONAX

       *       *       *       *       *

THE

Biglow Papers

EDITED,

WITH AN INTRODUCTION, NOTES, GLOSSARY, AND COPIOUS INDEX,

BY

HOMER WILBUR, A.M.,

PASTOR OF THE FIRST CHURCH IN JAALAM, AND (PROSPECTIVE) MEMBER OF
MANY LITERARY, LEARNED, AND SCIENTIFIC SOCIETIES,

(_for which see page 227_.)

The ploughman's whistle, or the trivial flute,
Finds more respect than great Apollo's lute.
_Quarles's Emblems_, B. ii. E. 8.

Margaritas, munde porcine, calcasti: en, siliquas accipe.
_Jac. Car. Fil. ad Pub. Leg._ Section 1.


NOTE TO TITLE-PAGE

It will not have escaped the attentive eye, that I have, on the
title-page, omitted those honorary appendages to the editorial name
which not only add greatly to the value of every book, but whet and
exacerbate the appetite of the reader. For not only does he surmise that
an honorary membership of literary and scientific societies implies a
certain amount of necessary distinction on the part of the recipient of
such decorations, but he is willing to trust himself more entirely to an
author who writes under the fearful responsibility of involving the
reputation of such bodies as the _S. Archæol. Dahom._ or the _Acad.
Lit. et Scient. Kamtschat_. I cannot but think that the early editions
of Shakespeare and Milton would have met with more rapid and general
acceptance, but for the barrenness of their respective title-pages; and
I believe that, even now, a publisher of the works of either of those
justly distinguished men would find his account in procuring their
admission to the membership of learned bodies on the Continent,--a
proceeding no whit more incongruous than the reversal of the judgment
against Socrates, when he was already more than twenty centuries beyond
the reach of antidotes, and when his memory had acquired a deserved
respectability. I conceive that it was a feeling of the importance of
this precaution which induced Mr. Locke to style himself 'Gent.' on the
title-page of his Essay, as who should say to his readers that they
could receive his metaphysics on the honor of a gentleman.

Nevertheless, finding that, without descending to a smaller size of type
than would have been compatible with the dignity of the several
societies to be named, I could not compress my intended list within the
limits of a single page, and thinking, moreover, that the act would
carry with it an air of decorous modesty, I have chosen to take the
reader aside, as it were, into my private closet, and there not only
exhibit to him the diplomas which I already possess, but also to furnish
him with a prophetic vision of those which I may, without undue
presumption, hope for, as not beyond the reach of human ambition and
attainment. And I am the rather induced to this from the fact that my
name has been unaccountably dropped from the last triennial catalogue of
our beloved _Alma Mater_. Whether this is to be attributed to the
difficulty of Latinizing any of those honorary adjuncts (with a complete
list of which I took care to furnish the proper persons nearly a year
beforehand), or whether it had its origin in any more culpable motives,
I forbear to consider in this place, the matter being in course of
painful investigation. But, however this may be, I felt the omission the
more keenly, as I had, in expectation of the new catalogue, enriched the
library of the Jaalam Athenæum with the old one then in my possession,
by which means it has come about that my children will be deprived of a
never-wearying winter evening's amusement in looking out the name of
their parent in that distinguished roll. Those harmless innocents had at
least committed no--but I forbear, having intrusted my reflections and
animadversions on this painful topic to the safe-keeping of my private
diary, intended for posthumous publication. I state this fact here, in
order that certain nameless individuals, who are, perhaps, overmuch
congratulating themselves upon my silence, may know that a rod is in
pickle which the vigorous hand of a justly incensed posterity will apply
to their memories.

The careful reader will note that, in the list which I have prepared, I
have included the names of several Cisatlantic societies to which a
place is not commonly assigned in processions of this nature. I have
ventured to do this, not only to encourage native ambition and genius,
but also because I have never been able to perceive in what way distance
(unless we suppose them at the end of a lever) could increase the weight
of learned bodies. As far as I have been able to extend my researches
among such stuffed specimens as occasionally reach America, I have
discovered no generic difference between the antipodal _Fogrum
Japonicum_ and the _F. Americanum_, sufficiently common in our own
immediate neighborhood. Yet, with a becoming deference to the popular
belief that distinctions of this sort are enhanced in value by every
additional mile they travel, I have intermixed the names of some
tolerably distant literary and other associations with the rest.

I add here, also, an advertisement, which, that it may be the more
readily understood by those persons especially interested therein, I
have written in that curtailed and otherwise maltreated canine Latin, to
the writing and reading of which they are accustomed.

OMNIB. PER TOT. ORB. TERRAR. CATALOG. ACADEM, EDD.

Minim. gent, diplom. ab inclytiss. acad. vest. orans, vir. honorand.
operosiss., at sol. ut sciat. quant. glor. nom. meum (dipl. fort.
concess.) catal. vest. temp. futur. affer., ill. subjec., addit. omnib.
titul. honorar. qu. adh. non tant. opt. quam probab. put.

*** _Litt. Uncial, distinx. ut Præs. S. Hist. Nat. Jaal_.

HOMERUS WILBUR, Mr., Episc. Jaalam, S.T.D. 1850, et Yal. 1849, et
Neo-Cæs. et Brun. et Gulielm. 1852, et Gul. et Mar. et Bowd. et
Georgiop. et Viridimont. et Columb. Nov. Ebor. 1853, et Amherst. et
Watervill. et S. Jarlath. Hib. et S. Mar. et S. Joseph, et S. And. Scot.
1854. et Nashvill. et Dart. et Dickins. et Concord. et Wash. et
Columbian. et Charlest. et Jeff. et Dubl. et Oxon. et Cantab. et Cæt.
1855. P.U.N.C.H. et J.U.D. Gott. et Osnab. et Heidelb. 1860, et Acad.
BORE US. Berolin. Soc., et SS. RR. Lugd. Bat. et Patav. et Lond. et
Edinb. et Ins. Feejee. et Null. Terr. et Pekin. Soc. Hon. et S.H.S et
S.P.A. et A.A.S. et S. Humb. Univ. et S. Omn. Rer. Quarund. q. Aliar.
Promov. Passamaquod. et H.P.C. et I.O.H, et [Greek: A.D.Ph.] et
[Greek: P.K.P.] et [Greek: Ph.B.K.] et Peucin. et Erosoph. et
Philadelph. et Frat. in Unit. et [Greek: S.T.] et S. Archæolog.
Athen. et Acad. Scient, et Lit. Panorm. et SS.R.H. Matrit. et
Beeloochist. et Caffrar. et Caribb. et M.S. Reg. Paris, et S. Am.
Antiserv. Soc. Hon. et P.D. Gott. et LL.D. 1852, et D.C.L. et Mus. Doc.
Oxon. 1860, et M.M.S.S. et M.D. 1854, et Med. Fac. Univ. Harv. Soc. et
S. pro Convers. Pollywog. Soc. Hon. et Higgl. Piggl. et LL.B. 1853, et
S. pro Christianiz. Moschet. Soc. et SS. Ante-Diluv. ubiq. Gent. Soc.
Hon. et Civit. Cleric. Jaalam. et S. pro Diffus. General. Tenebr.
Secret. Corr.

INTRODUCTION

When, more than three years ago, my talented young parishioner, Mr.
Biglow, came to me and submitted to my animadversions the first of his
poems which he intended to commit to the more hazardous trial of a city
newspaper, it never so much as entered my imagination to conceive that
his productions would ever be gathered into a fair volume, and ushered
into the august presence of the reading public by myself.

So little are we short-sighted mortals able to predict the event! I
confess that there is to me a quite new satisfaction in being associated
(though only as sleeping partner) in a book which can stand by itself in
an independent unity on the shelves of libraries. For there is always
this drawback from the pleasure of printing a sermon, that, whereas the
queasy stomach of this generation will not bear a discourse long enough
to make a separate volume, those religious and godly-minded children
(those Samuels, if I may call them so) of the brain must at first be
buried in an undistinguished heap, and then get such resurrection as is
vouchsafed to them, mummy-wrapped with a score of others in a cheap
binding, with no other mark of distinction than the word
'_Miscellaneous_' printed upon the back. Far be it from me to claim any
credit for the quite unexpected popularity which I am pleased to find
these bucolic strains have attained unto. If I know myself, I am
measurably free from the itch of vanity; yet I may be allowed to say
that I was not backward to recognize in them a certain wild, puckery,
acidulous (sometimes even verging toward that point which, in our rustic
phrase, is termed _shut-eyed_) flavor, not wholly unpleasing, nor
unwholesome, to palates cloyed with the sugariness of tamed and
cultivated fruit. It may be, also, that some touches of my own, here and
there, may have led to their wider acceptance, albeit solely from my
larger experience of literature and authorship.[9]

I was at first inclined to discourage Mr. Biglow's attempts, as knowing
that the desire to poetize is one of the diseases naturally incident to
adolescence, which, if the fitting remedies be not at once and with a
bold hand applied, may become chronic, and render one, who might else
have become in due time an ornament of the social circle, a painful
object even to nearest friends and relatives. But thinking, on a further
experience that there was a germ of promise in him which required only
culture and the pulling up of weeds from about it, I thought it best to
set before him the acknowledged examples of English composition in
verse, and leave the rest to natural emulation. With this view, I
accordingly lent him some volumes of Pope and Goldsmith, to the
assiduous study of which he promised to devote his evenings. Not long
afterward, he brought me some verses written upon that model, a specimen
of which I subjoin, having changed some phrases of less elegancy, and a
few rhymes objectionable to the cultivated ear. The poem consisted of
childish reminiscences, and the sketches which follow will not seem
destitute of truth to those whose fortunate education began in a country
village. And, first, let us hang up his charcoal portrait of the
school-dame.

'Propped on the marsh, a dwelling now, I see
The humble school-house of my A, B, C,
Where well-drilled urchins, each behind his tire,
Waited in ranks the wished command to fire,
Then all together, when the signal came,
Discharged their _a-b abs_ against the dame.
Daughter of Danaus, who could daily pour
In treacherous pipkins her Pierian store,
She, mid the volleyed learning firm and calm,
Patted the furloughed ferule on her palm,
And, to our wonder, could divine at once
Who flashed the pan, and who was downright dunce.

'There young Devotion learned to climb with ease
The gnarly limbs of Scripture family-trees,
And he was most commended and admired
Who soonest to the topmost twig perspired;
Each name was called as many various ways
As pleased the reader's ear on different days,
So that the weather, or the ferule's stings,
Colds in the head, or fifty other things,
Transformed the helpless Hebrew thrice a week
To guttural Pequot or resounding Greek,
The vibrant accent skipping here and there,
Just as it pleased invention or despair;
No controversial Hebraist was the Dame;
With or without the points pleased her the same;
If any tyro found a name too tough.
And looked at her, pride furnished skill enough;
She nerved her larynx for the desperate thing,
And cleared the five-barred syllables at a spring.

'Ah, dear old times! there once it was my hap,
Perched on a stool, to wear the long-eared cap;
From books degraded, there I sat at ease,
A drone, the envy of compulsory bees;
Rewards of merit, too, full many a time,
Each with its woodcut and its moral rhyme,
And pierced half-dollars hung on ribbons gay
About my neck (to be restored next day)
I carried home, rewards as shining then
As those that deck the lifelong pains of men,
More solid than the redemanded praise
With which the world beribbons later days.

'Ah, dear old times! how brightly ye return!
How, rubbed afresh, your phosphor traces burn!
The ramble schoolward through dewsparkling meads,
The willow-wands turned Cinderella steeds,
The impromptu pin-bent hook, the deep remorse
O'er the chance-captured minnow's inchlong corse;
The pockets, plethoric with marbles round,
That still a space for ball and peg-top found,
Nor satiate yet, could manage to confine
Horsechestnuts, flagroot, and the kite's wound twine,
Nay, like the prophet's carpet could take in,
Enlarging still, the popgun's magazine;
The dinner carried in the small tin pail,
Shared with some dog, whose most beseeching tail
And dripping tongue and eager ears belied
The assumed indifference of canine pride;
The caper homeward, shortened if the cart
Of Neighbor Pomeroy, trundling from the mart,
O'ertook me,--then, translated to the seat
I praised the steed, how stanch he was and fleet,
While the bluff farmer, with superior grin,
Explained where horses should be thick, where thin,
And warned me (joke he always had in store)
To shun a beast that four white stockings wore.
What a fine natural courtesy was his!
His nod was pleasure, and his full bow bliss;
How did his well-thumbed hat, with ardor rapt,
Its curve decorous to each rank adapt!
How did it graduate with a courtly ease
The whole long scale of social differences,
Yet so gave each his measure running o'er,
None thought his own was less, his neighbor's more;
The squire was flattered, and the pauper knew
Old times acknowledged 'neath the threadbare blue!
Dropped at the corner of the embowered lane,
Whistling I wade the knee-deep leaves again,
While eager Argus, who has missed all day
The sharer of his condescending play,
Comes leaping onward with a bark elate
And boisterous tail to greet me at the gate;
That I was true in absence to our love
Let the thick dog's-ears in my primer prove.'

I add only one further extract, which will possess a melancholy interest
to all such as have endeavored to glean the materials of revolutionary
history from the lips of aged persons, who took a part in the actual
making of it, and, finding the manufacture profitable, continued the
supply in an adequate proportion to the demand.

'Old Joe is gone, who saw hot Percy goad
His slow artillery lip the Concord road,
A tale which grew in wonder, year by year,
As, every time he told it, Joe drew near
To the main fight, till, faded and grown gray,
The original scene to bolder tints gave way;
Then Joe had heard the foe's scared double-quick
Beat on stove drum with one un-captured stick,
And, ere death came the lengthening tale to lop,
Himself had fired, and seen a redcoat drop;
Had Joe lived long enough, that scrambling fight
Had squared more nearly with his sense of right,
And vanquished Percy, to complete the tale,
Had hammered stone for life in Concord jail.'

I do not know that the foregoing extracts ought not to be called my own
rather than Mr. Biglow's, as, indeed, he maintained stoutly that my file
had left nothing of his in them. I should not, perhaps, have felt
entitled to take so great liberties with them, had I not more than
suspected an hereditary vein of poetry in myself, a very near ancestor
having written a Latin poem in the Harvard _Gratulatio_ on the accession
of George the Third. Suffice it to say, that, whether not satisfied with
such limited approbation as I could conscientiously bestow, or from a
sense of natural inaptitude, certain it is that my young friend could
never be induced to any further essays in this kind. He affirmed that it
was to him like writing in a foreign tongue,--that Mr. Pope's
versification was like the regular ticking of one of Willard's clocks,
in which one could fancy, after long listening, a certain kind of rhythm
or tune, but which yet was only a poverty-stricken _tick, tick_, after
all,--and that he had never seen a sweet-water on a trellis growing so
fairly, or in forms so pleasing to his eye, as a fox-grape over a
scrub-oak in a swamp. He added I know not what, to the effect that the
sweet-water would only be the more disfigured by having its leaves
starched and ironed out, and that Pegasus (so he called him) hardly
looked right with his mane and tail in curl-papers. These and other such
opinions I did not long strive to eradicate, attributing them rather to
a defective education and senses untuned by too long familiarity with
purely natural objects, than to a perverted moral sense. I was the more
inclined to this leniency since sufficient evidence was not to seek,
that his verses, wanting as they certainly were in classic polish and
point, had somehow taken hold of the public ear in a surprising manner.
So, only setting him right as to the quantity of the proper name
Pegasus, I left him to follow the bent of his natural genius.

Yet could I not surrender him wholly to the tutelage of the pagan
(which, literally interpreted, signifies village) muse without yet a
further effort for his conversion, and to this end I resolved that
whatever of poetic fire yet burned in myself, aided by the assiduous
bellows of correct models, should be put in requisition. Accordingly,
when my ingenious young parishioner brought to my study a copy of verses
which he had written touching the acquisition of territory resulting
from the Mexican war, and the folly of leaving the question of slavery
or freedom to the adjudication of chance, I did myself indite a short
fable or apologue after the manner of Gay and Prior, to the end that he
might see how easily even such subjects as he treated of were capable of
a more refined style and more elegant expression. Mr. Biglow's
production was as follows:--



THE TWO GUNNERS

A FABLE

Two fellers, Isrel named and Joe,
One Sundy mornin' 'greed to go
Agunnin' soon 'z the bells wuz done
And meetin' finally begun,
So'st no one wouldn't be about
Ther Sabbath-breakin' to spy out.

Joe didn't want to go a mite;
He felt ez though 'twarn't skeercely right,
But, when his doubts he went to speak on,
Isrel he up and called him Deacon,
An' kep' apokin' fun like sin
An' then arubbin' on it in,
Till Joe, less skeered o' doin' wrong
Than bein' laughed at, went along.

Past noontime they went trampin' round
An' nary thing to pop at found,
Till, fairly tired o' their spree,
They leaned their guns agin a tree,
An' jest ez they wuz settin' down
To take their noonin', Joe looked roun'
And see (acrost lots in a pond
That warn't mor'n twenty rod beyond)
A goose that on the water sot
Ez ef awaitin' to be shot.

Isrel he ups and grabs his gun;
Sez he, 'By ginger, here's some fun!'
'Don't fire,' sez Joe, 'it ain't no use,
Thet's Deacon Peleg's tame wil'-goose:'
Sez Isrel, 'I don't care a cent.
I've sighted an' I'll let her went;'
_Bang!_ went queen's-arm, ole gander flopped
His wings a spell, an' quorked, an' dropped.

Sez Joe, 'I wouldn't ha' been hired
At that poor critter to ha' fired,
But since it's clean gin up the ghost,
We'll hev the tallest kind o' roast;
I guess our waistbands'll be tight
'Fore it comes ten o'clock ternight.'

'I won't agree to no such bender,'
Sez Isrel; 'keep it tell it's tender;
'Tain't wuth a snap afore it's ripe.'
Sez Joe, 'I'd jest ez lives eat tripe;
You _air_ a buster ter suppose
I'd eat what makes me hol' my nose!'

So they disputed to an' fro
Till cunnin' Isrel sez to Joe,
'Don't le's stay here an' play the fool,
Le's wait till both on us git cool,
Jest for a day or two le's hide it,
An' then toss up an' so decide it.'
'Agreed!' sez Joe, an' so they did,
An' the ole goose wuz safely hid.

Now 'twuz the hottest kind o' weather,
An' when at last they come together,
It didn't signify which won,
Fer all the mischief hed been done:
The goose wuz there, but, fer his soul,
Joe wouldn't ha' tetched it with a pole;
But Isrel kind o' liked the smell on 't
An' made _his_ dinner very well on 't.


My own humble attempt was in manner and form following, and I print it
here, I sincerely trust, out of no vainglory, but solely with the hope
of doing good.



LEAVING THE MATTER OPEN

A TALE

BY HOMER WILBUR, A.M.

Two brothers once, an ill-matched pair,
Together dwelt (no matter where),
To whom an Uncle Sam, or some one,
Had left a house and farm in common.
The two in principles and habits
Were different as rats from rabbits;
Stout Farmer North, with frugal care,
Laid up provision for his heir,
Not scorning with hard sun-browned hands
To scrape acquaintance with his lands;
Whatever thing he had to do
He did, and made it pay him, too;
He sold his waste stone by the pound,
His drains made water-wheels spin round,
His ice in summer-time he sold,
His wood brought profit when 'twas cold,
He dug and delved from morn till night,
Strove to make profit square with right,
Lived on his means, cut no great dash,
And paid his debts in honest cash.

On tother hand, his brother South
Lived very much from hand to mouth.
Played gentleman, nursed dainty hands,
Borrowed North's money on his lands,
And culled his morals and his graces
From cock-pits, bar-rooms, fights, and races;
His sole work in the farming line
Was keeping droves of long-legged swine,
Which brought great bothers and expenses
To North in looking after fences,
And, when they happened to break through,
Cost him both time and temper too,
For South insisted it was plain
He ought to drive them home again,
And North consented to the work
Because he loved to buy cheap pork.

Meanwhile, South's swine increasing fast;
His farm became too small at last;
So, having thought the matter over,
And feeling bound to live in clover
And never pay the clover's worth,
He said one day to Brother North:--

'Our families are both increasing,
And, though we labor without ceasing,
Our produce soon will be too scant
To keep our children out of want;
They who wish fortune to be lasting
Must be both prudent and forecasting;
We soon shall need more land; a lot
I know, that cheaply can be bo't;
You lend the cash, I'll buy the acres.
And we'll be equally partakers.'

Poor North, whose Anglo-Saxon blood
Gave him a hankering after mud,
Wavered a moment, then consented,
And, when the cash was paid, repented;
To make the new land worth a pin,
Thought he, it must be all fenced in,
For, if South's swine once get the run on 't
No kind of farming can be done on 't;
If that don't suit the other side,
'Tis best we instantly divide.'

But somehow South could ne'er incline
This way or that to run the line,
And always found some new pretence
'Gainst setting the division fence;
At last he said:--
                 'For peace's sake,
Liberal concessions I will make;
Though I believe, upon my soul,
I've a just title to the whole,
I'll make an offer which I call
Gen'rous,--we'll have no fence at all;
Then both of us, whene'er we choose,
Can take what part we want to use;
If you should chance to need it first,
Pick you the best, I'll take the worst.'

'Agreed!' cried North; thought he, This fall
With wheat and rye I'll sow it all;
In that way I shall get the start,
And South may whistle for his part.
So thought, so done, the field was sown,
And, winter haying come and gone,
Sly North walked blithely forth to spy,
The progress of his wheat and rye;
Heavens, what a sight! his brother's swine
Had asked themselves all out to dine;
Such grunting, munching, rooting, shoving,
The soil seemed all alive and moving,
As for his grain, such work they'd made on 't,
He couldn't spy a single blade on 't.

Off in a rage he rushed to South,
'My wheat and rye'--grief choked his mouth:
'Pray don't mind me,' said South, 'but plant
All of the new land that you want;'
'Yes, but your hogs,' cried North;

                                  'The grain
Won't hurt them,' answered South again;
'But they destroy my crop;'

                            'No doubt;
'Tis fortunate you've found it out;
Misfortunes teach, and only they,
You must not sow it in their way;'
'Nay, you,' says North, 'must keep them out;'
'Did I create them with a snout?'
Asked South demurely; 'as agreed,
The land is open to your seed,
And would you fain prevent my pigs
From running there their harmless rigs?
God knows I view this compromise
With not the most approving eyes;
I gave up my unquestioned rights
For sake of quiet days and nights;
I offered then, you know 'tis true,
To cut the piece of land in two.'
'Then cut it now,' growls North;

                               'Abate
Your heat,' says South, 'tis now too late;
I offered you the rocky corner,
But you, of your own good the scorner,
Refused to take it: I am sorry;
No doubt you might have found a quarry,
Perhaps a gold-mine, for aught I know,
Containing heaps of native rhino;
You can't expect me to resign
My rights'--

  'But where,' quoth North, 'are mine?'
'_Your_ rights,' says tother, 'well, that's funny,
_I_ bought the land'--
                     '_I_ paid the money;'
'That,' answered South, 'is from the point,
The ownership, you'll grant, is joint;
I'm sure my only hope and trust is
Not law so much as abstract justice,
Though, you remember, 'twas agreed
That so and so--consult the deed;
Objections now are out of date,
They might have answered once, but Fate
Quashes them at the point we've got to;
_Obsta principiis_ that's my motto.'
So saying, South began to whistle
And looked as obstinate as gristle,
While North went homeward, each brown paw
Clenched like a knot of natural law,
And all the while, in either ear,
Heard something clicking wondrous clear.


To turn now to other matters, there are two things upon which it should
seem fitting to dilate somewhat more largely in this place,--the Yankee
character and the Yankee dialect. And, first, of the Yankee character,
which has wanted neither open maligners, nor even more dangerous enemies
in the persons of those unskilful painters who have given to it that
hardness, angularity, and want of proper perspective, which, in truth,
belonged, not to their subject, but to their own niggard and unskilful
pencil.

New England was not so much the colony of a mother country, as a Hagar
driven forth into the wilderness. The little self-exiled band which came
hither in 1620 came, not to seek gold, but to found a democracy. They
came that they might have the privilege to work and pray, to sit upon
hard benches and listen to painful preachers as long as they would, yea,
even unto thirty-seventhly, if the spirit so willed it. And surely, if
the Greek might boast his Thermopylæ, where three hundred men fell in
resisting the Persian, we may well be proud of our Plymouth Rock, where
a handful of men, women, and children not merely faced, but vanquished,
winter, famine, the wilderness, and the yet more invincible _storge_
that drew them back to the green island far away. These found no lotus
growing upon the surly shore, the taste of which could make them forget
their little native Ithaca; nor were they so wanting to themselves in
faith as to burn their ship, but could see the fair west-wind belly the
homeward sail, and then turn unrepining to grapple with the terrible
Unknown.

As Want was the prime foe these hardy exodists had to fortress
themselves against, so it is little wonder if that traditional feud be
long in wearing out of the stock. The wounds of the old warfare were
long a-healing, and an east-wind of hard times puts a new ache into
every one of them. Thrift was the first lesson in their horn-book,
pointed out, letter after letter, by the lean finger of the hard
schoolmistress, Necessity. Neither were those plump, rosy-gilled
Englishmen that came hither, but a hard-faced, atrabilious, earnest-eyed
race, stiff from long wrestling with the Lord in prayer, and who had
taught Satan to dread the new Puritan hug. Add two hundred years'
influence of soil, climate, and exposure, with its necessary result of
idiosyncrasies, and we have the present Yankee, full of expedients,
half-master of all trades, inventive in all but the beautiful, full of
shifts, not yet capable of comfort, armed at all points against the old
enemy Hunger, longanimous, good at patching, not so careful for what is
best as for what will _do_, with a clasp to his purse and a button to
his pocket, not skilled to build against Time, as in old countries, but
against sore-pressing Need, accustomed to move the world with no [Greek:
pou sto] but his own two feet, and no lever but his own long forecast. A
strange hybrid, indeed, did circumstance beget, here in the New World,
upon the old Puritan stock, and the earth never before saw such
mystic-practicalism, such niggard-geniality, such
calculating-fanaticism, such cast-iron-enthusiasm, such
sour-faced-humor, such close-fisted-generosity. This new _Græculus
esuriens_ will make a living out of anything. He will invent new trades
as well as tools. His brain is his capital, and he will get education at
all risks. Put him on Juan Fernandez, and he would make a spelling-book
first, and a salt-pan afterward. _In coelum, jusseris, ibit_,--or the
other way either,--it is all one, so anything is to be got by it. Yet,
after all, thin, speculative Jonathan is more like the Englishman of two
centuries ago than John Bull himself is. He has lost somewhat in
solidity, has become fluent and adaptable, but more of the original
groundwork of character remains. He feels more at home with Fulke
Greville, Herbert of Cherbury, Quarles, George Herbert, and Browne, than
with his modern English cousins. He is nearer than John, by at least a
hundred years, to Naseby, Marston Moor, Worcester, and the time when, if
ever, there were true Englishmen. John Bull has suffered the idea of the
Invisible to be very much fattened out of him. Jonathan is conscious
still that he lives in the world of the Unseen as well as of the Seen.
To move John you must make your fulcrum of solid beef and pudding; an
abstract idea will do for Jonathan.

       *       *       *       *       *



*** TO THE INDULGENT READER


My friend, the Rev. Mr. Wilbur, having been seized with a dangerous fit
of illness, before this Introduction had passed through the press, and
being incapacitated for all literary exertion, sent to me his notes,
memoranda, &c., and requested me to fashion them into some shape more
fitting for the general eye. This, owing to the fragmentary and
disjointed state of his manuscripts, I have felt wholly unable to do;
yet being unwilling that the reader should be deprived of such parts of
his lucubrations as seemed more finished, and not well discerning how to
segregate these from the rest, I have concluded to send them all to the
press precisely as they are.

COLUMBUS NYE,

_Pastor of a Church in Bungtown Corner._


It remains to speak of the Yankee dialect. And, first, it may be
premised, in a general way, that any one much read in the writings of
the early colonists need not be told that the far greater share of the
words and phrases now esteemed peculiar to New England, and local there,
were brought from the mother country. A person familiar with the
dialect of certain portions of Massachusetts will not fail to recognize,
in ordinary discourse, many words now noted in English vocabularies as
archaic, the greater part of which were in common use about the time of
the King James translation of the Bible. Shakespeare stands less in need
of a glossary to most New-Englanders than to many a native of the Old
Country. The peculiarities of our speech, however, are rapidly wearing
out. As there is no country where reading is so universal and newspapers
are so multitudinous, so no phrase remains long local, but is
transplanted in the mail-bags to every remotest corner of the land.
Consequently our dialect approaches nearer to uniformity than that of
any other nation.

The English have complained of us for coining new words. Many of those
so stigmatized were old ones by them forgotten, and all make now an
unquestioned part of the currency, wherever English is spoken.
Undoubtedly, we have a right to make new words, as they are needed by
the fresh aspects under which life presents itself here in the New
World; and, indeed, wherever a language is alive, it grows. It might be
questioned whether we could not establish a stronger title to the
ownership of the English tongue than the mother-islanders themselves.
Here, past all question, is to be its great home and centre. And not
only is it already spoken here by greater numbers, but with a far higher
popular average of correctness than in Britain. The great writers of it,
too, we might claim as ours, were ownership to be settled by the number
of readers and lovers.

As regards the provincialisms to be met with in this volume, I may say
that the reader will not find one which is not (as I believe) either
native or imported with the early settlers, nor one which I have not,
with my own ears, heard in familiar use. In the metrical portion of the
book, I have endeavored to adapt the spelling as nearly as possible to
the ordinary mode of pronunciation. Let the reader who deems me
over-particular remember this caution of Martial:--

  'Quem recitas, meus est, O Fidentine, libellus;
  Sed male cum recitas, incipit esse tuus.'

A few further explanatory remarks will not be impertinent.

I shall barely lay down a few general rules for the reader's guidance.

1. The genuine Yankee never gives the rough sound to the _r_ when he can
help it, and often displays considerable ingenuity in avoiding it even
before a vowel.

2. He seldom sounds the final _g_, a piece of self-denial, if we
consider his partiality for nasals. The same of the final _d_, as _han'_
and _stan'_ for _hand_ and _stand_.

3. The _h_ in such words as _while, when, where,_ he omits altogether.

4. In regard to _a_, he shows some inconsistency, sometimes giving a
close and obscure sound, as _hev_ for _have, hendy_ for _handy, ez_ for
_as, thet_ for _that_, and again giving it the broad sound it has in
_father_, as _hânsome_ for _handsome._

5. To the sound _ou_ he prefixes an _e_ (hard to exemplify otherwise
than orally).

The following passage in Shakespeare he would recite thus:--

'Neow is the winta uv eour discontent
Med glorious summa by this sun o'Yock,
An' all the cleouds thet leowered upun eour heouse
In the deep buzzum o' the oshin buried;
Neow air eour breows beound 'ith victorious wreaths;
Eour breused arms hung up fer monimunce;
Eour starn alarums changed to merry meetins,
Eour dreffle marches to delighfle masures.
Grim-visaged war heth smeuthed his wrinkled front,
An' neow, instid o' mountin' bare-bid steeds
To fright the souls o' ferfle edverseries,
He capers nimly in a lady's ch[)a]mber,
To the lascivious pleasin' uv a loot.'

6. _Au_, in such words as _daughter_ and _slaughter_, he pronounces
_ah_.

7. To the dish thus seasoned add a drawl _ad libitum_.

[Mr. Wilbur's notes here become entirely fragmentary.--C.N.]


[Greek: a]. Unable to procure a likeness of Mr. Biglow, I thought the
curious reader might be gratified with a sight of the editorial
effigies. And here a choice between two was offered,--the one a profile
(entirely black) cut by Doyle, the other a portrait painted by a native
artist of much promise. The first of these seemed wanting in expression,
and in the second a slight obliquity of the visual organs has been
heightened (perhaps from an over-desire of force on the part of the
artist) into too close an approach to actual _strabismus_. This slight
divergence in my optical apparatus from the ordinary model--however I
may have been taught to regard it in the light of a mercy rather than a
cross, since it enabled me to give as much of directness and personal
application to my discourses as met the wants of my congregation,
without risk of offending any by being supposed to have him or her in my
eye (as the saying is)--seemed yet to Mrs. Wilbur a sufficient objection
to the engraving of the aforesaid painting. We read of many who either
absolutely refused to allow the copying of their features, as especially
did Plotinus and Agesilaus among the ancients, not to mention the more
modern instances of Scioppius, Palæottus, Pinellus, Velserus, Gataker,
and others, or were indifferent thereto, as Cromwell.

[Greek: b.] Yet was Cæsar desirous of concealing his baldness. _Per
contra_, my Lord Protector's carefulness in the matter of his wart might
be cited. Men generally more desirous of being _improved_ in their
portraits than characters. Shall probably find very unflattered
likenesses of ourselves in Recording Angel's gallery.

[Greek: g.] Whether any of our national peculiarities may be traced to
our use of stoves, as a certain closeness of the lips in pronunciation,
and a smothered smoulderingness of disposition seldom roused to open
flame? An unrestrained intercourse with fire probably conducive to
generosity and hospitality of soul. Ancient Mexicans used stoves, as the
friar Augustin Ruiz reports, Hakluyt, III. 468,--but Popish priests not
always reliable authority.

To-day picked my Isabella grapes. Crop injured by attacks of rose-bug in
the spring. Whether Noah was justifiable in preserving this class of
insects?

[Greek: d]. Concerning Mr. Biglow's pedigree. Tolerably certain that
there was never a poet among his ancestors. An ordination hymn
attributed to a maternal uncle, but perhaps a sort of production not
demanding the creative faculty.

His grandfather a painter of the grandiose or Michael Angelo school.
Seldom painted objects smaller than houses or barns, and these with
uncommon expression.

[Greek: e]. Of the Wilburs no complete pedigree. The crest said to be a
_wild boar_, whence, perhaps, the name. (?) A connection with the Earls
of Wilbraham (_quasi_ wild boar ham) might be made out. This suggestion
worth following up. In 1677, John W.m. Expect----, had issue, 1. John,
2. Haggai, 3. Expect, 4. Ruhamah, 5. Desire.

'Here lyes y'e bodye of Mrs. Expect Wilber,
Ye crewell salvages they kil'd her
Together w'th other Christian soles eleaven,
October y'e ix daye, 1707.
Y'e stream of Jordan sh' as crost ore
And now expeacts me on y'e other shore:
I live in hope her soon to join;
Her earthlye yeeres were forty and nine.'

  _From Gravestone in Pekussett, North Parish._

This is unquestionably the same John who afterward (1711) married
Tabitha Hagg or Ragg.

But if this were the case, she seems to have died early; for only three
years after, namely, 1714, we have evidence that he married Winifred,
daughter of Lieutenant Tipping.

He seems to have been a man of substance, for we find him in 1696
conveying 'one undivided eightieth part of a salt-meadow' in Yabbok, and
he commanded a sloop in 1702.

Those who doubt the importance of genealogical studies _fuste potius
quam argumento erudiendi_.

I trace him as far as 1723, and there lose him. In that year he was
chosen selectman.

No gravestone. Perhaps overthrown when new hearse-house was built, 1802.

He was probably the son of John, who came from Bilham Comit. Salop.
circa 1642.

This first John was a man of considerable importance, being twice
mentioned with the honorable prefix of _Mr._ in the town records. Name
spelt with two _l-s_.

'Hear lyeth y'e bod [_stone unhappily broken_.]
Mr. Ihon Wilber [Esq.] [_I inclose this in brackets as doubtful.
  To me it seems clear_.]
Ob't die [_illegible; looks like xviii_.].... iii [_prob. 1693_.]
    ... paynt
    ... deseased seinte:
A friend and [fath]er untoe all y'e opreast,
Hee gave y'e wicked familists noe reast,
When Sat[an bl]ewe his Antinomian blaste.
Wee clong to [Willber as a steadf]ast maste.
[A]gaynst y'e horrid Qua[kers] ...'

It is greatly to be lamented that this curious epitaph is mutilated. It
is said that the sacrilegious British soldiers made a target of the
stone during the war of Independence. How odious an animosity which
pauses not at the grave! How brutal that which spares not the monuments
of authentic history! This is not improbably from the pen of Rev. Moody
Pyram, who is mentioned by Hubbard as having been noted for a silver
vein of poetry. If his papers be still extant, a copy might possibly be
recovered.



THE BIGLOW PAPERS

No. I

A LETTER

FROM MR. EZEKIEL BIGLOW OF JAALAM TO THE HON. JOSEPH T. BUCKINGHAM,
EDITOR OF THE BOSTON COURIER, INCLOSING A POEM OF HIS SON, MR. HOSEA
BIGLOW

JAYLEM, june 1846.

MISTER EDDYTER:--Our Hosea wuz down to Boston last week, and he see a
cruetin Sarjunt a struttin round as popler as a hen with 1 chicking,
with 2 fellers a drummin and fifin arter him like all nater. the sarjunt
he thout Hosea hedn't gut his i teeth cut cos he looked a kindo 's
though he'd jest com down, so he cal'lated to hook him in, but Hosy
woodn't take none o' his sarse for all he hed much as 20 Rooster's tales
stuck onto his hat and eenamost enuf brass a bobbin up and down on his
shoulders and figureed onto his coat and trousis, let alone wut nater
hed sot in his featers, to make a 6 pounder out on.

wal, Hosea he com home considerabal riled, and arter I'd gone to bed I
heern Him a thrashin round like a short-tailed Bull in fli-time. The old
Woman ses she to me ses she, Zekle, ses she, our Hosee's gut the
chollery or suthin anuther ses she, don't you Bee skeered, ses I, he's
oney amakin pottery[10] ses i, he's ollers on hand at that ere busynes
like Da & martin, and shure enuf, cum mornin, Hosy he cum down stares
full chizzle, hare on eend and cote tales flyin, and sot rite of to go
reed his varses to Parson Wilbur bein he haint aney grate shows o' book
larnin himself, bimeby he cum back and sed the parson wuz dreffle
tickled with 'em as i hoop you will Be, and said they wuz True grit.

Hosea ses taint hardly fair to call 'em hisn now, cos the parson kind o'
slicked off sum o' the last varses, but he told Hosee he didn't want to
put his ore in to tetch to the Rest on 'em, bein they wuz verry well As
thay wuz, and then Hosy ses he sed suthin a nuther about Simplex
Mundishes or sum sech feller, but I guess Hosea kind o' didn't hear him,
for I never hearn o' nobody o' that name in this villadge, and I've
lived here man and boy 76 year cum next tater diggin, and thair aint no
wheres a kitting spryer 'n I be.

If you print 'em I wish you'd jest let folks know who hosy's father is,
cos my ant Keziah used to say it's nater to be curus ses she, she aint
livin though and he's a likely kind o' lad.

EZEKIEL BIGLOW.



       *       *       *       *       *

Thrash away, you'll _hev_ to rattle
  On them kittle-drums o' yourn,--
'Taint a knowin' kind o' cattle
  Thet is ketched with mouldy corn;
Put in stiff, you fifer feller,
  Let folks see how spry you be,--
Guess you'll toot till you are yeller
  'Fore you git ahold o' me!

Thet air flag's a leetle rotten,
  Hope it aint your Sunday's best;--    10
Fact! it takes a sight o' cotton
  To stuff out a soger's chest:
Sence we farmers hev to pay fer't,
  Ef you must wear humps like these,
S'posin' you should try salt hay fer't,
  It would du ez slick ez grease.

'Twouldn't suit them Southun fellers,
  They're a dreffle graspin' set,
We must ollers blow the bellers
  Wen they want their irons het;         20
May be it's all right ez preachin',
  But _my_ narves it kind o' grates,
Wen I see the overreachin'
  O' them nigger-drivin' States.

Them thet rule us, them slave-traders,
  Haint they cut a thunderin' swarth
(Helped by Yankee renegaders),
  Thru the vartu o' the North!
We begin to think it's nater
  To take sarse an' not be riled;--     30
Who'd expect to see a tater
  All on eend at bein' biled?

Ez fer war, I call it murder,--
  There you hev it plain an' flat;
I don't want to go no furder
  Than my Testyment fer that;
God hez sed so plump an' fairly,
  It's ez long ez it is broad,
An' you've gut to git up airly
  Ef you want to take in God.            40

'Taint your eppyletts an' feathers
  Make the thing a grain more right;
'Taint afollerin' your bell-wethers
  Will excuse ye in His sight;
Ef you take a sword an' dror it,
  An' go stick a feller thru,
Guv'ment aint to answer for it,
  God'll send the bill to you.

Wut's the use o' meetin'-goin'
  Every Sabbath, wet or dry,             50
Ef it's right to go amowin'
  Feller-men like oats an' rye?
I dunno but wut it's pooty
  Trainin' round in bobtail coats,--
But it's curus Christian dooty
  This 'ere cuttin' folks's throats.

They may talk o' Freedom's airy
  Tell they're pupple in the face,--
It's a grand gret cemetary
  Fer the barthrights of our race;       60
They jest want this Californy
  So's to lug new slave-states in
To abuse ye, an' to scorn ye,
  An' to plunder ye like sin.

Aint it cute to see a Yankee
  Take sech everlastin' pains,
All to get the Devil's thankee
  Helpin' on 'em weld their chains?
Wy, it's jest ez clear ez figgers,
  Clear ez one an' one make two,         70
Chaps thet make black slaves o' niggers
  Want to make wite slaves o' you.

Tell ye jest the eend I've come to
  Arter cipherin' plaguy smart,
An' it makes a handy sum, tu.
  Any gump could larn by heart;
Laborin' man an' laborin' woman
  Hev one glory an' one shame.
Ev'y thin' thet's done inhuman
  Injers all on 'em the same.            80

'Taint by turnln' out to hack folks
  You're agoin' to git your right,
Nor by lookin' down on black folks
  Coz you're put upon by wite;
Slavery aint o' nary color,
  'Taint the hide thet makes it wus,
All it keers fer in a feller
  'S jest to make him fill its pus.

Want to tackle _me_ in, du ye?
  I expect you'll hev to wait;     90
Wen cold lead puts daylight thru ye
  You'll begin to kal'late;
S'pose the crows wun't fall to pickin'
  All the carkiss from your bones,
Coz you helped to give a lickin'
  To them poor half-Spanish drones?

Jest go home an' ask our Nancy
  Wether I'd be sech a goose
Ez to jine ye,--guess you'd fancy
  The etarnal bung wuz loose!     100
She wants me fer home consumption,
  Let alone the hay's to mow,--
Ef you're arter folks o' gumption,
  You've a darned long row to hoe.

Take them editors thet's crowin'
  Like a cockerel three months old,--
Don't ketch any on 'em goin
  Though they _be_ so blasted bold;
_Aint_ they a prime lot o' fellers?
  'Fore they think on 't guess they'll sprout     110
(Like a peach thet's got the yellers),
  With the meanness bustin' out.

Wal, go 'long to help 'em stealin'
  Bigger pens to cram with slaves,
Help the men thet's ollers dealin'
  Insults on your fathers' graves;
Help the strong to grind the feeble,
  Help the many agin the few,
Help the men thet call your people
  Witewashed slaves an' peddlin' crew!     120

Massachusetts, God forgive her,
  She's akneelin' with the rest,
She, thet ough' to ha' clung ferever
  In her grand old eagle-nest;
She thet ough' to stand so fearless
  W'ile the wracks are round her hurled,
Holdin' up a beacon peerless
  To the oppressed of all the world!

Ha'n't they sold your colored seamen?
  Ha'n't they made your env'ys w'iz?     130
_Wut_'ll make ye act like freemen?
  _Wut_'ll git your dander riz?
Come, I'll tell ye wut I'm thinkin'
  Is our dooty in this fix.
They'd ha' done 't ez quick ez winkin'
  In the days o' seventy-six.

Clang the bells in every steeple,
  Call all true men to disown
The tradoocers of our people,
  The enslavers o' their own;     140
Let our dear old Bay State proudly
  Put the trumpet to her mouth,
Let her ring this messidge loudly
  In the ears of all the South:--

'I'll return ye good fer evil
  Much ez we frail mortils can,
But I wun't go help the Devil
  Makin' man the cuss o' man;
Call me coward, call me traiter,
  Jest ez suits your mean idees,--
Here I stand a tyrant hater,     151
  An' the friend o' God an' Peace!'

Ef I'd _my_ way I hed ruther
  We should go to work an part,
They take one way, we take t'other,
  Guess it wouldn't break my heart;
Man hed ough' to put asunder
  Them thet God has noways jined;
An' I shouldn't gretly wonder
  Ef there's thousands o' my mind.         160


[The first recruiting sergeant on record I conceive to have been that
individual who is mentioned in the Book of Job as _going to and fro in
the earth, and walking up and down in it._ Bishop Latimer will have him
to have been a bishop, but to me that other calling would appear more
congenial. The sect of Cainites is not yet extinct, who esteemed the
first-born of Adam to be the most worthy, not only because of that
privilege of primogeniture, but inasmuch as he was able to overcome and
slay his younger brother. That was a wise saying of the famous Marquis
Pescara to the Papal Legate, that _it was impossible for men to serve
Mars and Christ at the same time_. Yet in time past the profession of
arms was judged to be [Greek: kat exochaen] that of a gentleman, nor
does this opinion want for strenuous upholders even in our day. Must we
suppose, then, that the profession of Christianity was only intended for
losels, or, at best, to afford an opening for plebeian ambition? Or
shall we hold with that nicely metaphysical Pomeranian, Captain Vratz,
who was Count Königsmark's chief instrument in the murder of Mr. Thynne,
that the Scheme of Salvation has been arranged with an especial eye to
the necessities of the upper classes, and that 'God would consider a
_gentleman_ and deal with him suitably to the condition and profession
he had placed him in'? It may be said of us all, _Exemplo plus quam
ratione vivimus_.--H.W.]



No. II

A LETTER

FROM MR. HOSEA BIGLOW TO THE HON. J.T. BUCKINGHAM, EDITOR OF THE BOSTON
COURIER, COVERING A LETTER FROM MR. B. SAWIN, PRIVATE IN THE
MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT


[This letter of Mr. Sawin's was not originally written in verse. Mr.
Biglow, thinking it peculiarly susceptible of metrical adornment,
translated it, so to speak, into his own vernacular tongue. This is not
the time to consider the question, whether rhyme be a mode of expression
natural to the human race. If leisure from other and more important
avocations be granted, I will handle the matter more at large in an
appendix to the present volume. In this place I will barely remark, that
I have sometimes noticed in the unlanguaged prattlings of infants a
fondness for alliteration, assonance, and even rhyme, in which natural
predisposition we may trace the three degrees through which our
Anglo-Saxon verse rose to its culmination in the poetry of Pope. I would
not be understood as questioning in these remarks that pious theory
which supposes that children, if left entirely to themselves, would
naturally discourse in Hebrew. For this the authority of one experiment
is claimed, and I could, with Sir Thomas Browne, desire its
establishment, inasmuch as the acquirement of that sacred tongue would
thereby be facilitated. I am aware that Herodotus states the conclusion
of Psammetieus to have been in favor of a dialect of the Phrygian. But,
beside the chance that a trial of this importance would hardly be
blessed to a Pagan monarch whose only motive was curiosity, we have on
the Hebrew side the comparatively recent investigation of James the
Fourth of Scotland. I will add to this prefatory remark, that Mr. Sawin,
though a native of Jaalam, has never been a stated attendant on the
religious exercises of my congregation. I consider my humble efforts
prospered in that not one of my sheep hath ever indued the wolf's
clothing of war, save for the comparatively innocent diversion of a
militia training. Not that my flock are backward to undergo the
hardships of _defensive_ warfare. They serve cheerfully in the great
army which fights, even unto death _pro aris et focis_, accoutred with
the spade, the axe, the plane, the sledge, the spelling-book, and other
such effectual weapons against want and ignorance and unthrift. I have
taught them (under God) to esteem our human institutions as but tents of
a night, to be stricken whenever Truth puts the bugle to her lips and
sounds a march to the heights of wider-viewed intelligence and more
perfect organization.--H.W.]


MISTER BUCKINUM, the follerin Billet was writ hum by a Yung feller of
our town that wuz cussed fool enuff to goe atrottin inter Miss Chiff
arter a Drum and fife, it ain't Nater for a feller to let on that he's
sick o' any bizness that He went intu off his own free will and a Cord,
but I rather cal'late he's middlin tired o' voluntearin By this Time. I
bleeve u may put dependunts on his statemence. For I never heered nothin
bad on him let Alone his havin what Parson Wilbur cals a _pong shong_
for cocktales, and he ses it wuz a soshiashun of idees sot him agoin
arter the Crootin Sargient cos he wore a cocktale onto his hat.

his Folks gin the letter to me and i shew it to parson Wilbur and he ses
it oughter Bee printed. send It to mister Buckinum, ses he, i don't
ollers agree with him, ses he, but by Time,[11] ses he, I _du_ like a
feller that aint a Feared.

I have intusspussed a Few refleckshuns hear and thar. We're a kind
o'prest with Hayin.

Ewers respecfly
HOSEA BIGLOW.



This kind o' sogerin' aint a mite like our October trainin',
A chap could clear right out from there ef 't only looked like rainin',
An' th' Cunnles, tu, could kiver up their shappoes with bandanners,
An' send the insines skootin' to the bar-room with their banners
(Fear o' gittin' on 'em spotted), an' a feller could cry quarter
Ef he fired away his ramrod arter tu much rum an' water.
Recollect wut fun we hed, you 'n' I an' Ezry Hollis,
Up there to Waltham plain last fall, along o' the Cornwallis?[12]

This sort o' thing aint _jest_ like thet,--I wish thet I wuz furder,[13]--
Ninepunce a day fer killin' folks comes kind o' low fer murder,     10
(Wy I've worked out to slarterin' some fer Deacon Cephas Billins,
An' in the hardest times there wuz I ollers tetched ten shillins.)
There's sutthin' gits into my throat thet makes it hard to swaller,
It comes so naturel to think about a hempen collar;
It's glory,--but, in spite o' all my tryin' to git callous,
I feel a kind o' in a cart, aridin' to the gallus.
But wen it comes to _bein'_ killed,--I tell ye I felt streaked
The fust time 't ever I found out wy baggonets wuz peaked;
Here's how it wuz: I started out to go to a fandango,
The sentinul he ups an' sez, 'Thet's furder 'an you can go.'      20
'None o' your sarse,' sez I; sez he, 'Stan' back!' 'Aint you a buster?'
Sez I, 'I'm up to all thet air, I guess I've ben to muster;
I know wy sentinuls air sot; you aint agoin' to eat us;
Caleb haint no monopoly to court the seenorcetas;
My folks to hum air full ez good ez his'n be, by golly!'
An' so ez I wuz goin' by, not thinkin' wut would folly,
The everlastin' cus he stuck his one-pronged pitchfork in me
An' made a hole right thru my close ez ef I wuz an in'my.

Wal, it beats all how big I felt hoorawin' in ole Funnel
Wen Mister Bolles he gin the sword to our Leftenant Cunnle,     30
(It's Mister Secondary Bolles,[14] thet writ the prize peace essay.
Thet's wy he didn't list himself along o' us, I dessay,)
An' Rantoul, tu, talked pooty loud, but don't put _his_ foot in it,
Coz human life's so sacred thet he's principled agin it,--
Though I myself can't rightly see it's any wus achokin' on 'em;
Than puttin' bullets thru their lights, or with a bagnet pokin' on 'em;
How dreffle slick he reeled it off (like Blitz at our lyceum
Ahaulin' ribbins from his chops so quick you skeercely see 'em),
About the Anglo-Saxon race (an' saxons would be handy
To du the buryin' down here upon the Rio Grandy),         40
About our patriotic pas an' our star-spangled banner,
Our country's bird alookin' on an' singin' out hosanner,
An' how he (Mister B. himself) wuz happy fer Ameriky,--
I felt, ez sister Patience sez, a leetle mite histericky.
I felt, I swon, ez though it wuz a dreffle kind o' privilege
Atrampin' round thru Boston streets among the gutter's drivelage;
I act'lly thought it wuz a treat to hear a little drummin',
An' it did bonyfidy seem millanyum wuz acomin'
Wen all on us got suits (darned like them wore in the state prison)
An' every feller felt ez though all Mexico wuz hisn.[15]        50
This 'ere's about the meanest place a skunk could wal dlskiver
(Saltillo's Mexican, I b'lieve, fer wut we call Salt-river);
The sort o' trash a feller gits to eat doos beat all nater,
I'd give a year's pay fer a smell o' one good blue-nose tater,
The country here thet Mister Bolles declared to be so charmin'
Throughout is swarmin' with the most alarmin' kind o' varmin.
He talked about delishis froots, but then it wuz a wopper all,
The holl on 't 's mud an' prickly pears, with here an' there a chapparal;
You see a feller peekin' out, an', fust you know, a lariat
Is round your throat an' you a copse, 'fore you can say, 'Wut air ye
  at?'[16]     60
You never see sech darned gret bugs (it may not be irrelevant
To say I've seen a _scarabæus pilularius_[17] big ez a year old elephant),
The rigiment come up one day in time to stop a red bug
From runnin off with Cunnle Wright,--'twuz jest a common _cimex
  lectularius._

One night I started up on eend an' thought I wuz to hum agin,
I heern a horn, thinks I it's Sol the fisherman hez come agin,
_His_ bellowses is sound enough,--ez I'm a livin' creeter,
I felt a thing go thru my leg--'twuz nothin' more 'n a skeeter!
Then there's the yaller fever, tu, they call it here el vomito,--
(Come, thet wun't du, you landcrab there, I tell ye to le' _go_ my
  toe!     70
My gracious! it's a scorpion thet's took a shine to play with 't,
I darsn't skeer the tarnal thing fer fear he'd run away with 't,)
Afore I come away from hum I hed a strong persuasion
Thet Mexicans worn't human beans,[18]--an ourang outang nation,
A sort o' folks a chap could kill an' never dream on 't arter,
No more 'n a feller'd dream o' pigs thet he hed hed to slarter;
I'd an idee thet they were built arter the darkie fashion all,
An' kickin' colored folks about, you know 's a kind o' national;
But wen I jined I worn't so wise ez thet air queen o' Sheby,
Fer, come to look at 'em, they aint much diff'rent from wut we be,      80
An' here we air ascrougin' 'em out o' thir own dominions,
Ashelterin' 'em, ez Caleb sez, under our eagle's pinions,
Wich means to take a feller up jest by the slack o' 's trowsis
An' walk him Spanish clean right out o' all his homes an' houses;
Wal, it doos seem a curus way, but then hooraw fer Jackson!
It must be right, fer Caleb sez it's reg'lar Anglo-Saxon,
The Mex'cans don't fight fair, they say, they piz'n all the water,
An' du amazin' lots o' things thet isn't wut they ough' to;
Bein' they haint no lead, they make their bullets out o' copper
An' shoot the darned things at us, tu, wich Caleb sez ain
  proper;        90
He sez they'd ough' to stan' right up an' let us pop 'em fairly
(Guess wen he ketches 'em at thet he'll hev to git up airly),
Thet our nation's bigger 'n theirn an' so its rights air bigger,
An' thet it's all to make 'em free thet we air pullin' trigger,
Thet Anglo Saxondom's idee's abreakin' 'em to pieces,
An' thet idee's thet every man doos jest wut he damn pleases;
Ef I don't make his meanin' clear, perhaps in some respex I can,
I know thet 'every man' don't mean a nigger or a Mexican;
An' there's another thing I know, an' thet is, ef these creeters,
Thet stick an Anglosaxon mask onto State-prison feeturs,       100
Should come to Jaalam Centre fer to argify an' spout on 't,
The gals 'ould count the silver spoons the minnit they cleared out on 't.

This goin' ware glory waits ye haint one agreeable feetur,
An' ef it worn't fer wakin' snakes, I'd home agin short meter;
O, wouldn't I be off, quick time, ef 't worn't thet I wuz sartin
They'd let the daylight into me to pay me fer desartin!
I don't approve o' tellin' tales, but jest to you I may state
Our ossifers aiut wut they wuz afore they left the Bay-state;
Then it wuz 'Mister Sawin, sir, you're middlin' well now, be ye?
Step up an' take a nipper, sir; I'm dreffle glad to see ye:'          110
But now it's 'Ware's my eppylet? here, Sawin, step an' fetch it!
An' mind your eye, be thund'rin' spry, or, damn ye, you shall ketch it!'
Wal, ez the Doctor sez, some pork will bile so, but by mighty,
Ef I hed some on 'em to hum, I'd give 'em linkum vity,
I'd play the rogue's march on their hides an' other music follerin'--
But I must close my letter here, fer one on 'em 's ahollerin',
These Anglosaxon ossifers,--wal, taint no use ajawin',
I'm safe enlisted fer the war,
                              Yourn,
                                 BIRDOFREDOM SAWIN.


[Those have not been wanting (as, indeed, when hath Satan been to seek
for attorneys?) who have maintained that our late inroad upon Mexico was
undertaken not so much for the avenging of any national quarrel, as for
the spreading of free institutions and of Protestantism. _Capita vix
duabus Anticyris medenda!_ Verily I admire that no pious sergeant among
these new Crusaders beheld Martin Luther riding at the front of the host
upon a tamed pontifical bull, as, in that former invasion of Mexico, the
zealous Gomara (spawn though he were of the Scarlet Woman) was favored
with a vision of St. James of Compostella, skewering the infidels upon
his apostolical lance. We read, also, that Richard of the lion heart,
having gone to Palestine on a similar errand of mercy, was divinely
encouraged to cut the throats of such Paynims as refused to swallow the
bread of life (doubtless that they might be thereafter incapacitated for
swallowing the filthy gobbets of Mahound) by angels of heaven, who cried
to the king and his knights,_--Seigneurs, tuez! tuez!_ providentially
using the French tongue, as being the only one understood by their
auditors. This would argue for the pantoglottism of these celestial
intelligences, while, on the other hand, the Devil, _teste_ Cotton
Mather, is unversed in certain of the Indian dialects. Yet must he be a
semeiologist the most expert, making himself intelligible to every
people and kindred by signs; no other discourse, indeed, being needful,
than such as the mackerel-fisher holds with his finned quarry, who, if
other bait be wanting, can by a bare bit of white rag at the end of a
string captivate those foolish fishes. Such piscatorial persuasion is
Satan cunning in. Before one he trails a hat and feather, or a bare
feather without a hat; before another, a Presidential chair or a
tide-waiter's stool, or a pulpit in the city, no matter what. To us,
dangling there over our heads, they seem junkets dropped out of the
seventh heaven, sops dipped in nectar, but, once in our mouths, they are
all one, bits of fuzzy cotton.

This, however, by the way. It is time now _revocare gradum_. While so
many miracles of this sort, vouched by eye-witnesses, have encouraged
the arms of Papists, not to speak of Echetlæus at Marathon and those
_Dioscuri_ (whom we must conclude imps of the pit) who sundry times
captained the pagan Roman soldiery, it is strange that our first
American crusade was not in some such wise also signalized. Yet it is
said that the Lord hath manifestly prospered our armies. This opens the
question, whether, when our hands are strengthened to make great
slaughter of our enemies, it be absolutely and demonstratively certain
that this might is added to us from above, or whether some Potentate
from an opposite quarter may not have a finger in it, as there are few
pies into which his meddling digits are not thrust. Would the Sanctifier
and Setter-apart of the seventh day have assisted in a victory gained on
the Sabbath, as was one in the late war? Do we not know from Josephus,
that, careful of His decree, a certain river in Judaea abstained from
flowing on the day of Rest? Or has that day become less an object of His
especial care since the year 1697, when so manifest a providence
occurred to Mr. William Trowbridge, in answer to whose prayers, when he
and all on shipboard with him were starving, a dolphin was sent daily,
'which was enough to serve 'em; only on _Saturdays_ they still catched a
couple, and on the _Lord's Days_ they could catch none at all'? Haply
they might have been permitted, by way of mortification, to take some
few sculpins (those banes of the salt-water angler), which unseemly fish
would, moreover, have conveyed to them a symbolical reproof for their
breach of the day, being known in the rude dialect of our mariners as
_Cape Cod Clergymen_.

It has been a refreshment to many nice consciences to know that our
Chief Magistrate would not regard with eyes of approval the (by many
esteemed) sinful pastime of dancing, and I own myseif to be so far of
that mind, that I could not but set my face against this Mexican Polka,
though danced to the Presidential piping with a Gubernatorial second. If
ever the country should be seized with another such mania _pro
propaganda fide_, I think it would be wise to fill our bombshells with
alternate copies of the Cambridge Platform and the Thirty-nine Articles,
which would produce a mixture of the highest explosive power, and to
wrap every one of our cannon-balls in a leaf of the New Testament, the
reading of which is denied to those who sit in the darkness of Popery.
Those iron evangelists would thus be able to disseminate vital religion
and Gospel truth in quarters inaccessible to the ordinary missionary. I
have seen lads, unimpregnate with the more sublimated punctiliousness of
Walton, secure pickerel, taking their unwary _siesta_ beneath the
lily-pads too nigh the surface, with a gun and small shot. Why not,
then, since gunpowder was unknown in the time of the Apostles (not to
enter here upon the question whether it were discovered before that
period by the Chinese), suit our metaphor to the age in which we live,
and say _shooters_ as well as _fishers_ of men?

I do much fear that we shall be seized now and then with a Protestant
fervor, as long as we have neighbor Naboths whose wallowings in
Papistical mire excite our horror in exact proportion to the size and
desirableness of their vineyards. Yet I rejoice that some earnest
Protestants have been made by this war,--I mean those who protested
against it. Fewer they were than I could wish, for one might imagine
America to have been colonized by a tribe of those nondescript African
animals the Aye-Ayes, so difficult a word is _No_ to us all. There is
some malformation or defect of the vocal organs, which either prevents
our uttering it at all, or gives it so thick a pronunciation as to be
unintelligible. A mouth filled with the national pudding, or watering in
expectation thereof, is wholly incompetent to this refractory
monosyllable. An abject and herpetic Public Opinion is the Pope, the
Anti-Christ, for us to protest against _e corde cordium_. And by what
College of Cardinals is this our God's-vicar, our binder and looser,
elected? Very like, by the sacred conclave of Tag, Rag, and Bobtail, in
the gracious atmosphere of the grog-shop. Yet it is of this that we must
all be puppets. This thumps the pulpit-cushion, this guides the editor's
pen, this wags the senator's tongue. This decides what Scriptures are
canonical, and shuffles Christ away into the Apocrypha. According to
that sentence fathered upon Solon, [Greek: Onto daemosion kakon erchetai
oikad ekasto] This unclean spirit is skilful to assume various shapes. I
have known it to enter my own study and nudge my elbow of a Saturday,
under the semblance of a wealthy member of my congregation. It were a
great blessing, if every particular of what in the sum we call popular
sentiment could carry about the name of its manufacturer stamped legibly
upon it. I gave a stab under the fifth rib to that pestilent
fallacy,--'Our country, right or wrong,'--by tracing its original to a
speech of Ensign Cilley at a dinner of the Bungtown Fencibles.--H.W.]



No. III

WHAT MR. ROBINSON THINKS

[A few remarks on the following verses will not be out of place. The
satire in them was not meant to have any personal, but only a general,
application. Of the gentleman upon whose letter they were intended as a
commentary Mr. Biglow had never heard, till he saw the letter itself.
The position of the satirist is oftentimes one which he would not have
chosen, had the election been left to himself. In attacking bad
principles, he is obliged to select some individual who has made himself
their exponent, and in whom they are impersonate, to the end that what
he says may not, through ambiguity, be dissipated _tenues in auras._ For
what says Seneca? _Longum iter per præcepta, breve et efficace per
exempla_. A bad principle is comparatively harmless while it continues
to be an abstraction, nor can the general mind comprehend it fully till
it is printed in that large type which all men can read at sight,
namely, the life and character, the sayings and doings, of particular
persons. It is one of the cunningest fetches of Satan, that he never
exposes himself directly to our arrows, but, still dodging behind this
neighbor or that acquaintance, compels us to wound him through them, if
at all. He holds our affections as hostages, the while he patches up a
truce with our conscience.

Meanwhile, let us not forget that the aim of the true satirist is not to
be severe upon persons, but only upon falsehood, and, as Truth and
Falsehood start from the same point, and sometimes even go along
together for a little way, his business is to follow the path of the
latter after it diverges, and to show her floundering in the bog at the
end of it. Truth is quite beyond the reach of satire. There is so brave
a simplicity in her, that she can no more be made ridiculous than an oak
or a pine. The danger of the satirist is, that continual use may deaden
his sensibility to the force of language. He becomes more and more
liable to strike harder than he knows or intends. He may be careful to
put on his boxing-gloves, and yet forget that, the older they grow, the
more plainly may the knuckles inside be felt. Moreover, in the heat of
contest, the eye is insensibly drawn to the crown of victory, whose
tawdry tinsel glitters through that dust of the ring which obscures
Truth's wreath of simple leaves. I have sometimes thought that my young
friend, Mr. Biglow, needed a monitory hand laid on his arm,--_aliquid
sufflaminandus erat_. I have never thought it good husbandry to water
the tender plants of reform with _aqua fortis_, yet, where so much is to
do in the beds, he were a sorry gardener who should wage a whole day's
war with an iron scuffle on those ill weeds that make the garden-walks
of life unsightly, when a sprinkle of Attic salt will wither them up.
_Est ars etiam maledicendi_, says Scaliger, and truly it is a hard thing
to say where the graceful gentleness of the lamb merges in downright
sheepishness. We may conclude with worthy and wise Dr. Fuller, that 'one
may be a lamb in private wrongs, but in hearing general affronts to
goodness they are asses which are not lions.'--H.W.]


Guvener B. is a sensible man;
  He stays to his home an' looks arter his folks;
He draws his furrer ez straight ez he can,
  An' into nobody's tater-patch pokes;
        But John P.
        Robinson he
    Sez be wunt vote fer Guvener B.

My! aint it terrible? Wut shall we du?
  We can't never choose him o' course,--thet's flat;
Guess we shall hev to come round, (don't you?)
  An' go in fer thunder an' guns, an' all that;
        Fer John P.
        Robinson he
    Sez he wunt vote fer Guvener B.

Gineral C. is a dreffle smart man:
  He's ben on all sides thet gives places or pelf;
But consistency still wuz a part of his plan,--
  He's ben true to _one_ party,--an' thet is himself;--
        So John P.
        Robinson he
    Sez he shall vote fer Gineral C.

Gineral C. he goes in fer the war;
  He don't vally princerple more'n an old cud;
Wut did God make us raytional creeturs fer,
  But glory an' gunpowder, plunder an' blood?
        So John P.
        Robinson he
    Sez he shall vote fer Gineral C.

We were gittin' on nicely up here to our village,
  With good old idees o' wut's right an' wut aint,
We kind o' thought Christ went agin war an' pillage,
  An' thet eppyletts worn't the best mark of a saint;
        But John P.
        Robinson he
    Sez this kind o' thing's an exploded idee.

The side of our country must ollers be took,
  An' Presidunt Polk, you know, _he_ is our country.
An' the angel thet writes all our sins in a book
  Puts the _debit_ to him, an' to us the _per contry;_
        An' John P.
        Robinson he
    Sez this is his view o' the thing to a T.

Parson Wilbur he calls all these argimunts lies;
  Sez they're nothin' on airth but jest _fee, faw, fum;_
An' thet all this big talk of our destinies
  Is half on it ign'ance, an' t'other half rum;
        But John P.
        Robinson he
    Sez it aint no sech thing: an' of course, so must we.

Parson Wilbur sez _he_ never heerd in his life
  Thet th' Apostles rigged out in their swaller-tail coats,
An' marched round in front of a drum an' a fife,
  To git some on 'em office, an' some on 'em votes;
        But John P.
        Robinson he
    Sez they didn't know everythin' down in Judee.

Wal, it's a marcy we've gut folks to tell us
  The rights an' the wrongs o' these matters, I vow,--
God sends country lawyers, an' other wise fellers,
  To start the world's team wen it gits in a slough;
        Fer John P.
        Robinson he
    Sez the world'll go right, ef he hollers out Gee!


[The attentive reader will doubtless have perceived in the foregoing
poem an allusion to that pernicious sentiment,--'Our country, right or
wrong.' It is an abuse of language to call a certain portion of land,
much more, certain personages, elevated for the time being to high
station, our country. I would not sever nor loosen a single one of those
ties by which we are united to the spot of our birth, nor minish by a
tittle the respect due to the Magistrate. I love our own Bay State too
well to do the one, and as for the other, I have myself for nigh forty
years exercised, however unworthily, the function of Justice of the
Peace, having been called thereto by the unsolicited kindness of that
most excellent man and upright patriot, Caleb Strong. _Patriæ fumus
igne alieno luculentior_ is best qualified with this,--_Ubi libertas, ibi
patria_. We are inhabitants of two worlds, and owe a double, but not a
divided, allegiance. In virtue of our clay, this little ball of earth
exacts a certain loyalty of us, while, in our capacity as spirits, we
are admitted citizens of an invisible and holier fatherland. There is a
patriotism of the soul whose claim absolves us from our other and
terrene fealty. Our true country is that ideal realm which we represent
to ourselves under the names of religion, duty, and the like. Our
terrestrial organizations are but far-off approaches to so fair a model,
and all they are verily traitors who resist not any attempt to divert
them from this their original intendment. When, therefore, one would
have us to fling up our caps and shout with the multitude,--'_Our
country, however bounded!_' he demands of us that we sacrifice the
larger to the less, the higher to the lower, and that we yield to the
imaginary claims of a few acres of soil our duty and privilege as
liegemen of Truth. Our true country is bounded on the north and the
south, on the east and the west, by Justice, and when she oversteps that
invisible boundary-line by so much as a hair's-breadth, she ceases to be
our mother, and chooses rather to be looked upon _quasi noverca_. That
is a hard choice when our earthly love of country calls upon us to tread
one path and our duty points us to another. We must make as noble and
becoming an election as did Penelope between Icarius and Ulysses.
Veiling our faces, we must take silently the hand of Duty to follow her.

Shortly after the publication of the foregoing poem, there appeared some
comments upon it in one of the public prints which seemed to call for
animadversion. I accordingly addressed to Mr. Buckingham, of the Boston
Courier, the following letter.


JAALAM, November 4, 1847.

'_To the Editor of the Courier:_

'RESPECTED SIR,--Calling at the post-office this morning, our worthy and
efficient postmaster offered for my perusal a paragraph in the Boston
Morning Post of the 3d instant, wherein certain effusions of the
pastoral muse are attributed to the pen of Mr. James Russell Lowell. For
aught I know or can affirm to the contrary, this Mr. Lowell may be a
very deserving person and a youth of parts (though I have seen verses of
his which I could never rightly understand); and if he be such, he, I am
certain, as well as I, would be free from any proclivity to appropriate
to himself whatever of credit (or discredit) may honestly belong to
another. I am confident, that, in penning these few lines, I am only
forestalling a disclaimer from that young gentleman, whose silence
hitherto, when rumor pointed to himward, has excited in my bosom mingled
emotions of sorrow and surprise. Well may my young parishioner, Mr.
Biglow, exclaim with the poet,

  "Sic vos non vobis," &c.;

though, in saying this, I would not convey the impression that he is a
proficient in the Latin tongue,--the tongue, I might add, of a Horace
and a Tully.

'Mr. B. does not employ his pen, I can safely say, for any lucre of
worldly gain, or to be exalted by the carnal plaudits of men, _digito
monstrari, &c_. He does not wait upon Providence for mercies, and in his
heart mean _merces_. But I should esteem myself as verily deficient in
my duty (who am his friend and in some unworthy sort his spiritual
_fidus Achates_, &c.), if I did not step forward to claim for him
whatever measure of applause might be assigned to him by the judicious.

'If this were a fitting occasion, I might venture here a brief
dissertation touching the manner and kind of my young friend's poetry.
But I dubitate whether this abstruser sort of speculation (though
enlivened by some apposite instances from Aristophanes) would
sufficiently interest your oppidan readers. As regards their satirical
tone, and their plainness of speech, I will only say, that, in my
pastoral experience, I have found that the Arch-Enemy loves nothing
better than to be treated as a religious, moral, and intellectual being,
and that there is no _apage Sathanas!_ so potent as ridicule. But it is
a kind of weapon that must have a button of good-nature on the point of
it.

'The productions of Mr. B. have been stigmatized in some quarters as
unpatriotic; but I can vouch that he loves his native soil with that
hearty, though discriminating, attachment which springs from an intimate
social intercourse of many years' standing. In the ploughing season, no
one has a deeper share in the well-being of the country than he. If Dean
Swift were right in saying that he who makes two blades of grass grow
where one grew before confers a greater benefit on the state than he who
taketh a city, Mr. B. might exhibit a fairer claim to the Presidency
than General Scott himself. I think that some of those disinterested
lovers of the hard-handed democracy, whose fingers have never touched
anything rougher than the dollars of our common country, would hesitate
to compare palms with him. It would do your heart good, respected Sir,
to see that young man mow. He cuts a cleaner and wider swath than any in
this town.

'But it is time for me to be at my Post. It is very clear that my young
friend's shot has struck the lintel, for the Post is shaken (Amos ix.
1). The editor of that paper is a strenuous advocate of the Mexican war,
and a colonel, as I am given to understand. I presume, that, being
necessarily absent in Mexico, he has left his journal in some less
judicious hands. At any rate, the Post has been too swift on this
occasion. It could hardly have cited a more incontrovertible line from
any poem than that which it has selected for animadversion, namely,--

  "We kind o' thought Christ went agin war an' pillage."

'If the Post maintains the converse of this proposition, it can hardly
be considered as a safe guide-post for the moral and religious portions
of its party, however many other excellent qualities of a post it may be
blessed with. There is a sign in London on which is painted,--"The Green
Man." It would do very well as a portrait of any individual who should
support so unscriptural a thesis. As regards the language of the line
in question, I am bold to say that He who readeth the hearts of men will
not account any dialect unseemly which conveys a sound, and pious
sentiment. I could wish that such sentiments were more common, however
uncouthly expressed. Saint Ambrose affirms, that _veritas a quocunque_
(why not, then, _quomodocunque?) dicatur, a, spiritu sancto est_. Digest
also this of Baxter: "The plainest words are the most profitable oratory
in the weightiest matters."

'When the paragraph in question was shown to Mr. Biglow, the only part
of it which seemed to give him any dissatisfaction was that which
classed him with the Whig party. He says, that, if resolutions are a
nourishing kind of diet, that party must be in a very hearty and
flourishing condition; for that they have quietly eaten more good ones
of their own baking than he could have conceived to be possible without
repletion. He has been for some years past (I regret to say) an ardent
opponent of those sound doctrines of protective policy which form so
prominent a portion of the creed of that party. I confess, that, in some
discussions which I have had with him on this point in my study, he has
displayed a vein of obstinacy which I had not hitherto detected in his
composition. He is also (_horresco referens_) infected in no small
measure with the peculiar notions of a print called the Liberator, whose
heresies I take every proper opportunity of combating, and of which, I
thank God, I have never read a single line.

'I did not see Mr. B.'s verses until they appeared in print, and there
_is_ certainly one thing in them which I consider highly improper. I
allude to the personal references to myself by name. To confer notoriety
on an humble individual who is laboring quietly in his vocation, and who
keeps his cloth as free as he can from the dust of the political arena
(though _voe mihi si non evangelizavero_), is no doubt an indecorum. The
sentiments which he attributes to me I will not deny to be mine. They
were embodied, though in a different form, in a discourse preached upon
the last day of public fasting, and were acceptable to my entire people
(of whatever political views), except the postmaster, who dissented _ex
officio_. I observe that you sometimes devote a portion of your paper to
a religious summary. I should be well pleased to furnish a copy of my
discourse for insertion in this department of your instructive journal.
By omitting the advertisements, it might easily be got within the limits
of a single number, and I venture to insure you the sale of some scores
of copies in this town. I will cheerfully render myself responsible for
ten. It might possibly be advantageous to issue it as an _extra_. But
perhaps you will not esteem it an object, and I will not press it. My
offer does not spring from any weak desire of seeing my name in print;
for I can enjoy this satisfaction at any time by turning to the
Triennial Catalogue of the University, where it also possesses that
added emphasis of Italics with which those of my calling are
distinguished.

'I would simply add, that I continue to fit ingenuous youth for college,
and that I have two spacious and airy sleeping apartments at this moment
unoccupied. _Ingenuas didicisse_, &c. Terms, which vary according to the
circumstances of the parents, may be known on application to me by
letter, post-paid. In all cases the lad will be expected to fetch his
own towels. This rule, Mrs. W. desires me to add, has no exceptions.

'Respectfully, your obedient servant,

'HOMER WILBUR, A.M.

'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.

'H.W.'


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

REMARKS OF INCREASE D. O'PHACE, ESQUIRE,

AT AN EXTRUMPERY CAUCUS IN STATE STREET, REPORTED BY MR. H. BIGLOW


[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
down.

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 Manichæan
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 Lacedæmonians, 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
earshot.

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 DEBATE IN THE SENNIT

SOT TO A NUSRY RHYME


[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.]


TO MR. BUCKENAM

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

HOSEA BIGLOW.


'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
    Beëlzebub'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 æons, 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
ideal!

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_.

H.W.]



No. VI

THE PIOUS EDITOR'S CREED


[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 Cæsar,
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
wrapper!

'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
victuals.'--H.W.]



No. VII

A LETTER

FROM A CANDIDATE FOR THE PRESIDENCY IN ANSWER TO SUTTIN QUESTIONS
PROPOSED BY MR. HOSEA BIGLOW, INCLOSED IN A NOTE FROM MR. BIGLOW TO S.H.
GAY, ESQ., EDITOR OF THE NATIONAL ANTI-SLAVERY STANDARD


[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
madgustracy.--H.B.


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

P.S.

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 Græca
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
Cæsar'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.]



No. VIII

A SECOND LETTER FROM B. SAWIN, ESQ.


[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
destroyer.

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
  out,
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,
Sech ez the ONE-EYED SLARTERER, the BLOODY BIRDOFREDUM:
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.
                              Yourn,          BIRDOFREDUM SAWIN.


[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.

_Cr._
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
                                                              -------
                                                                   100
_Dr._
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
                                                               ------
                                                                   100

E.E.


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.
_Quærenda 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 virgæ_. 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 Æneid 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 Æolus
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
period.

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
archæological 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 Astræa-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
bill:--

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

                                      _Dr._
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
                                         _____
                                         $9.87
_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!
--H.W.]



No. IX

A THIRD LETTER FROM B. SAWIN, ESQ.


[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
Bâton 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 Bâton 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
præterea 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
  _twenty-six_,
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,
Or else thet they'd cair off the leg, an' fairly cut an' run.
I vow I didn't b'lieve there wuz a decent alligatur
Thet hed a heart so destitoot o' common human natur;
However, ez there worn't no help, I finally give in     200
An' heft my arms away to git my leg safe back agin.

Pomp gethered all the weapins up, an' then he come an' grinned,
He showed his ivory some, I guess, an' sez, 'You're fairly pinned;
Jest buckle on your leg agin, an' git right up an' come,
'T wun't du fer fammerly men like me to be so long frum hum.'
At fust I put my foot right down an' swore I wouldn't budge.
'Jest ez you choose,' sez he, quite cool, 'either be shot or trudge.'
So this black-hearted monster took an' act'lly druv me back
Along the very feetmarks o' my happy mornin' track,
An' kep' me pris'ner 'bout six months, an' worked me, tu, like sin,    210
Till I hed gut his corn an' his Carliny taters in;
He made me larn him readin', tu (although the crittur saw
How much it hut my morril sense to act agin the law),
So'st he could read a Bible he'd gut; an' axed ef I could pint
The North Star out; but there I put his nose some out o' jint,
Fer I weeled roun' about sou'west, an', lookin' up a bit,
Picked out a middlin' shiny one an' tole him thet wuz it.
Fin'lly he took me to the door, an' givin' me a kick,
Sez, 'Ef you know wut's best fer ye, be off, now, double-quick;
The winter-time's a comin' on, an' though I gut ye cheap,     220
You're so darned lazy, I don't think you're hardly woth your keep;
Besides, the childrin's growin' up, an' you aint jest the model
I'd like to hev 'em immertate, an' so you'd better toddle!'

Now is there anythin' on airth'll ever prove to me
Thet renegader slaves like him air fit fer bein' free?
D' you think they'll suck me in to jine the Buff'lo chaps, an' them
Rank infidels thet go agin the Scriptur'l cus o' Shem?
Not by a jugfull! sooner 'n thet, I'd go thru fire an' water;
Wen I hev once made up my mind, a meet'nhus aint sotter;       229
No, not though all the crows thet flies to pick my bones wuz cawin',--
I guess we're in a Christian land,--
                                 Yourn,
                                      BIRDOFREDUM SAWIN.


[Here, patient reader, we take leave of each other, I trust with some
mutual satisfaction. I say _patient_, for I love not that kind which
skims dippingly over the surface of the page, as swallows over a pool
before rain. By such no pearls shall be gathered. But if no pearls there
be (as, indeed the world is not without example of books wherefrom the
longest-winded diver shall bring up no more than his proper handful of
mud), yet let us hope that an oyster or two may reward adequate
perseverance. If neither pearls nor oysters, yet is patience itself a
gem worth diving deeply for.

It may seem to some that too much space has been usurped by my own
private lucubrations, and some may be fain to bring against me that old
jest of him who preached all his hearers out of the meeting-house save
only the sexton, who, remaining for yet a little space, from a sense of
official duty, at last gave out also, and, presenting the keys, humbly
requested our preacher to lock the doors, when he should have wholly
relieved himself of his testimony. I confess to a satisfaction in the
self act of preaching, nor do I esteem a discourse to be wholly thrown
away even upon a sleeping or unintelligent auditory. I cannot easily
believe that the Gospel of Saint John, which Jacques Cartier ordered to
be read in the Latin tongue to the Canadian savages, upon his first
meeting with them, fell altogether upon stony ground. For the
earnestness of the preacher is a sermon appreciable by dullest
intellects and most alien ears. In this wise did Episcopius convert many
to his opinions, who yet understood not the language in which he
discoursed. The chief thing is that the messenger believe that he has an
authentic message to deliver. For counterfeit messengers that mode of
treatment which Father John de Plano Carpini relates to have prevailed
among the Tartars would seem effectual, and, perhaps, deserved enough.
For my own part, I may lay claim to so much of the spirit of martyrdom
as would have led me to go into banishment with those clergymen whom
Alphonso the Sixth of Portugal drave out of his kingdom for refusing to
shorten their pulpit eloquence. It is possible, that, I having been
invited into my brother Biglow's desk, I may have been too little
scrupulous in using it for the venting of my own peculiar doctrines to a
congregation drawn together in the expectation and with the desire of
hearing him.

I am not wholly unconscious of a peculiarity of mental organization
which impels me, like the railroad-engine with its train of cars, to run
backward for a short distance in order to obtain a fairer start. I may
compare myself to one fishing from the rocks when the sea runs high,
who, misinterpreting the suction of the undertow for the biting of some
larger fish, jerks suddenly, and finds that he has _caught bottom_,
hauling in upon the end of his line a trail of various _algæ_, among
which, nevertheless, the naturalist may haply find somewhat to repay the
disappointment of the angler. Yet have I conscientiously endeavored to
adapt myself to the impatient temper of the age, daily degenerating more
and more from the high standard of our pristine New England. To the
catalogue of lost arts I would mournfully add also that of listening to
two-hour sermons. Surely we have been abridged into a race of pygmies.
For, truly, in those of the old discourses yet subsisting to us in
print, the endless spinal column of divisions and subdivisions can be
likened to nothing so exactly as to the vertebræ of the saurians,
whence the theorist may conjecture a race of Anakim proportionate to the
withstanding of these other monsters. I say Anakim rather than Nephelim,
because there seem reasons for supposing that the race of those whose
heads (though no giants) are constantly enveloped in clouds (which that
name imports) will never become extinct. The attempt to vanquish the
innumerable _heads_ of one of those aforementioned discourses may supply
us with a plausible interpretation of the second labor of Hercules, and
his successful experiment with fire affords us a useful precedent.

But while I lament the degeneracy of the age in this regard, I cannot
refuse to succumb to its influence. Looking out through my study-window,
I see Mr. Biglow at a distance busy in gathering his Baldwins, of which,
to judge by the number of barrels lying about under the trees, his crop
is more abundant than my own,--by which sight I am admonished to turn to
those orchards of the mind wherein my labors may be more prospered, and
apply myself diligently to the preparation of my next Sabbath's
discourse.--H.W.]


MELIBOEUS-HIPPONAX

       *       *       *       *       *



THE

Biglow Papers

SECOND SERIES

[Greek: 'Estin ar o idiotismos eniote tou kosmou parapolu
  emphanistkoteron.']

LONGIXUS.


'J'aimerois mieulx que mon fils apprinst aux tavernes à parler, qu'aux
escholes de la parlerie.'

MONTAIGNE.


"Unser Sprach ist auch ein Sprach und fan so wohl ein Sad nennen als
die Lateiner saccus."

FISCHART.


'Vim rebus aliquando ipsa verborum humilitas affert.'

QUINTILIANUS.


'O ma lengo,
Plantarèy une estèlo à toun froun encrumit!'

JASMIN.

       *       *       *       *       *

'Multos enim, quibus loquendi ratio non desit, invenias, quos curiose
potius loqui dixeris quam Latine; quomodo et illa Attica anus
Theophrastum, hominem alioqui disertissimum, annotata unius affectatione
verbi, hospitem dixit, nec alio se id deprehendisse interrogata
respondit, quam quod nimium Attice loqueretur.'--QUINTILIANUS.

'Et Anglice sermonicari solebat populo, sed secundum linguam Norfolchie
ubi natus et nutritus erat.'--CRONICA JOCELINI.

'La politique est une pierre attachée an cou de la littérature, et qui en
moins de six mois la submerge.... Cette politique va offenser mortellement
une moitié des lecteurs, et ennuyer l'autre qui l'a trouvée bien autrement
spéciale et énergique dans le journal du matin.'--HENRI BEYLE.

[When the book appeared it bore a dedication to E.R. Hoar, and was
introduced by an essay of the Yankee form of English speech. This
Introduction is so distinctly an essay that it has been thought best to
print it as an appendix to this volume, rather than allow it to break in
upon the pages of verse. There is, however, one passage in it which may
be repeated here, since it bears directly upon the poem which serves as
a sort of prelude to the series.]


'The only attempt I had ever made at anything like a pastoral (if that
may be called an attempt which was the result almost of pure accident)
was in _The Courtin'_. While the introduction to the First Series was
going through the press, I received word from the printer that there was
a blank page left which must be filled. I sat down at once and
improvised another fictitious "notice of the press," in which, because
verse would fill up space more cheaply than prose, I inserted an extract
from a supposed ballad of Mr. Biglow. I kept no copy of it, and the
printer, as directed, cut it off when the gap was filled. Presently I
began to receive letters asking for the rest of it, sometimes for the
_balance_ of it. I had none, but to answer such demands, I patched a
conclusion upon it in a later edition. Those who had only the first
continued to importune me. Afterward, being asked to write it out as an
autograph for the Baltimore Sanitary Commission Fair, I added other
verses, into some of which I infused a little more sentiment in a homely
way, and after a fashion completed it by sketching in the characters and
making a connected story. Most likely I have spoiled it, but I shall put
it at the end of this Introduction, to answer once for all those kindly
importunings.'



THE COURTIN'

God makes sech nights, all white an' still
  Fur 'z you can look or listen,
Moonshine an' snow on field an' hill,
  All silence an' all glisten.

Zekle crep' up quite unbeknown
  An' peeked in thru' the winder,
An' there sot Huldy all alone,
  'ith no one nigh to hender.

A fireplace filled the room's one side
  With half a cord o' wood in--
There warn't no stoves (tell comfort died)
  To bake ye to a puddin'.

The wa'nut logs shot sparkles out
  Towards the pootiest, bless her,
An' leetle flames danced all about
  The chiny on the dresser.

Agin the chimbley crook-necks hung,
  An' in amongst 'em rusted
The ole queen's-arm thet gran'ther Young
  Fetched back f'om Concord busted.

The very room, coz she was in,
  Seemed warm f'om floor to ceilin',
An' she looked full ez rosy agin
  Ez the apples she was peelin'.

'Twas kin' o' kingdom come to look
  On sech a blessed cretur,
A dogrose blushin' to a brook
  Ain't modester nor sweeter.

He was six foot o' man, A 1,
  Clear grit an' human natur',
None couldn't quicker pitch a ton
  Nor dror a furrer straighter.

He'd sparked it with full twenty gals,
  Hed squired 'em, danced 'em, druv 'em,
Fust this one, an' then thet, by spells--
  All is, he couldn't love 'em.

But long o' her his veins 'ould run
  All crinkly like curled maple,
The side she breshed felt full o' sun
  Ez a south slope in Ap'il.

She thought no v'ice hed sech a swing
  Ez hisn in the choir;
My! when he made Ole Hunderd ring,
  She _knowed_ the Lord was nigher.

An' she'd blush scarlit, right in prayer,
  When her new meetin'-bunnet
Felt somehow thru' its crown a pair
  O' blue eyes sot upon it.

Thet night, I tell ye, she looked _some!_
  She seemed to've gut a new soul,
For she felt sartin-sure he'd come,
  Down to her very shoe-sole.

She heered a foot, an' knowed it tu,
  A-raspin' on the scraper,--
All ways to once, her feelins flew
  Like sparks in burnt-up paper.

He kin' o' l'itered on the mat,
  Some doubtfle o' the sekle,
His heart kep' goin' pity-pat,
  But hern went pity Zekle.

An' yit she gin her cheer a jerk
  Ez though she wished him furder,
An' on her apples kep' to work,
  Parin' away like murder.

'You want to see my Pa, I s'pose?'
  'Wal ... no ... I come dasignin'--
'To see my Ma? She's sprinklin' clo'es
  Agin to-morrer's i'nin'.'

To say why gals acts so or so,
  Or don't, 'ould be persumin';
Mebby to mean _yes_ an' say _no_
  Comes nateral to women.

He stood a spell on one foot fust,
  Then stood a spell on t'other,
An' on which one he felt the wust
  He couldn't ha' told ye nuther.

Says he, 'I'd better call agin:'
  Says she, 'Think likely, Mister:'
Thet last word pricked him like a pin,
  An' ... Wal, he up an' kist her.

When Ma bimeby upon 'em slips,
  Huldy sot pale ez ashes,
All kin' o' smily roun' the lips
  An' teary roun' the lashes.

For she was jes' the quiet kind
  Whose naturs never vary,
Like streams that keep a summer mind
  Snowhid in Jenooary.

The blood clost roun' her heart felt glued
  Too tight for all expressin',
Tell mother see how metters stood,
  An' gin 'em both her blessin'.

Then her red come back like the tide
  Down to the Bay o' Fundy,
An' all I know is they was cried
  In meetin' come nex' Sunday.



THE BIGLOW PAPERS

SECOND SERIES

No. I

BIRDOFREDUM SAWIN, ESQ.,
TO MR. HOSEA BIGLOW

LETTER FROM THE REVEREND HOMER WILBUR, M.A., ENCLOSING THE EPISTLE
AFORESAID

JAALAM, 15th Nov., 1861.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is not from any idle wish to obtrude my humble person with undue
prominence upon the publick view that I resume my pen upon the present
occasion. _Juniores ad labores_. But having been a main instrument in
rescuing the talent of my young parishioner from being buried in the
ground, by giving it such warrant with the world as could be derived
from a name already widely known by several printed discourses (all of
which I may be permitted without immodesty to state have been deemed
worthy of preservation in the Library of Harvard College by my esteemed
friend Mr. Sibley), it seemed becoming that I should not only testify to
the genuineness of the following production, but call attention to it,
the more as Mr. Biglow had so long been silent as to be in danger of
absolute oblivion. I insinuate no claim to any share in the authorship
(_vix ea nostra voco_) of the works already published by Mr. Biglow, but
merely take to myself the credit of having fulfilled toward them the
office of taster (_experto crede_), who, having first tried, could
afterward bear witness (_credenzen_ it was aptly named by the Germans),
an office always arduous, and sometimes even dangerous, as in the case
of those devoted persons who venture their lives in the deglutition of
patent medicines (_dolus latet in generalibus_, there is deceit in the
most of them) and thereafter are wonderfully preserved long enough to
append their signatures to testimonials in the diurnal and hebdomadal
prints. I say not this as covertly glancing at the authors of certain
manuscripts which have been submitted to my literary judgment (though an
epick in twenty-four books on the 'Taking of Jericho' might, save for
the prudent forethought of Mrs. Wilbur in secreting the same just as I
had arrived beneath the walls and was beginning a catalogue of the
various horns and their blowers, too ambitiously emulous in longanimity
of Homer's list of ships, might, I say, have rendered frustrate any hope
I could entertain _vacare Musis_ for the small remainder of my days),
but only the further to secure myself against any imputation of unseemly
forthputting. I will barely subjoin, in this connexion, that, whereas
Job was left to desire, in the soreness of his heart, that his adversary
had written a book, as perchance misanthropically wishing to indite a
review thereof, yet was not Satan allowed so far to tempt him as to send
Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar each with an unprinted work in his wallet to
be submitted to his censure. But of this enough. Were I in need of other
excuse, I might add that I write by the express desire of Mr. Biglow
himself, whose entire winter leisure is occupied, as he assures me, in
answering demands for autographs, a labor exacting enough in itself, and
egregiously so to him, who, being no ready penman, cannot sign so much
as his name without strange contortions of the face (his nose, even,
being essential to complete success) and painfully suppressed
Saint-Vitus-dance of every muscle in his body. This, with his having
been put in the Commission of the Peace by our excellent Governor (_O,
si sic omnes!_) immediately on his accession to office, keeps him
continually employed. _Haud inexpertus loquor_, having for many years
written myself J.P., and being not seldom applied to for specimens of my
chirography, a request to which I have sometimes over weakly assented,
believing as I do that nothing written of set purpose can properly be
called an autograph, but only those unpremeditated sallies and lively
runnings which betray the fireside Man instead of the hunted Notoriety
doubling on his pursuers. But it is time that I should bethink me of St.
Austin's prayer, _libera me a meipso_, if I would arrive at the matter
in hand.

Moreover, I had yet another reason for taking up the pen myself. I am
informed that 'The Atlantic Monthly' is mainly indebted for its success
to the contributions and editorial supervision of Dr. Holmes, whose
excellent 'Annals of America' occupy an honored place upon my shelves.
The journal itself I have never seen; but if this be so, it might seem
that the recommendation of a brother-clergyman (though _par magis quam
similis_) should carry a greater weight. I suppose that you have a
department for historical lucubrations, and should be glad, if deemed
desirable, to forward for publication my 'Collections for the
Antiquities of Jaalam,' and my (now happily complete) pedigree of the
Wilbur family from its _fons et origo_, the Wild Boar of Ardennes.
Withdrawn from the active duties of my profession by the settlement of a
colleague-pastor, the Reverend Jeduthun Hitchcock, formerly of Brutus
Four-Corners, I might find time for further contributions to general
literature on similar topicks. I have made large advances towards a
completer genealogy of Mrs. Wilbur's family, the Pilcoxes, not, if I
know myself, from any idle vanity, but with the sole desire of rendering
myself useful in my day and generation. _Nulla dies sine lineâ_. I
inclose a meteorological register, a list of the births, deaths, and
marriages, and a few _memorabilia_ of longevity in Jaalam East Parish
for the last half-century. Though spared to the unusual period of more
than eighty years, I find no diminution of my faculties or abatement of
my natural vigor, except a scarcely sensible decay of memory and a
necessity of recurring to younger eyesight or spectacles for the finer
print in Cruden. It would gratify me to make some further provision for
declining years from the emoluments of my literary labors. I had
intended to effect an insurance on my life, but was deterred therefrom
by a circular from one of the offices, in which the sudden death of so
large a proportion of the insured was set forth as an inducement, that
it seemed to me little less than a tempting of Providence. _Neque in
summâ inopiâ levis esse senectus potest, ne sapienti quidem_.

Thus far concerning Mr. Biglow; and so much seemed needful (_brevis esse
laboro_) by way of preliminary, after a silence of fourteen years. He
greatly fears lest he may in this essay have fallen below himself, well
knowing that, if exercise be dangerous on a full stomach, no less so is
writing on a full reputation. Beset as he has been on all sides, he
could not refrain, and would only imprecate patience till he shall again
have 'got the hang' (as he calls it) of an accomplishment long disused.
The letter of Mr. Sawin was received some time in last June, and others
have followed which will in due season be submitted to the publick. How
largely his statements are to be depended on, I more than merely
dubitate. He was always distinguished for a tendency to
exaggeration,--it might almost be qualified by a stronger term.
_Fortiter mentire, aliquid hæret_ seemed to be his favorite rule of
rhetoric. That he is actually where he says he is the postmark would
seem to confirm; that he was received with the publick demonstrations he
describes would appear consonant with what we know of the habits of
those regions; but further than this I venture not to decide. I have
sometimes suspected a vein of humor in him which leads him to speak by
contraries; but since, in the unrestrained intercourse of private life,
I have never observed in him any striking powers of invention, I am the
more willing to put a certain qualified faith in the incidents and the
details of life and manners which give to his narratives some portion of
the interest and entertainment which characterizes a Century Sermon.

It may be expected of me that I should say something to justify myself
with the world for a seeming inconsistency with my well-known principles
in allowing my youngest son to raise a company for the war, a fact known
to all through the medium of the publick prints. I did reason with the
young man, but _expellas naturam furcâ tamen usque recurrit_. Having
myself been a chaplain in 1812, I could the less wonder that a man of
war had sprung from my loins. It was, indeed, grievous to send my
Benjamin, the child of my old age; but after the discomfiture of
Manassas, I with my own hands did buckle on his armor, trusting in the
great Comforter and Commander for strength according to my need. For
truly the memory of a brave son dead in his shroud were a greater staff
of my declining years than a living coward (if those may be said to have
lived who carry all of themselves into the grave with them), though his
days might be long in the land, and he should get much goods. It is not
till our earthen vessels are broken that we find and truly possess the
treasure that was laid up in them. _Migravi in animam meam_, I have
sought refuge in my own soul; nor would I be shamed by the heathen
comedian with his _Neqwam illud verbum, bene vult, nisi bene facit_.
During our dark days, I read constantly in the inspired book of Job,
which I believe to contain more food to maintain the fibre of the soul
for right living and high thinking than all pagan literature together,
though I would by no means vilipend the study of the classicks. There I
read that Job said in his despair, even as the fool saith in his heart
there is no God,--'The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that
provoke God are secure.' (Job xii. 6.) But I sought farther till I found
this Scripture also, which I would have those perpend who have striven
to turn our Israel aside to the worship of strange gods.--'If I did
despise the cause of my manservant or of my maid-servant, when they
contended with me, what then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he
visiteth, what shall I answer him?' (Job xxxi. 13, 14.) On this text I
preached a discourse on the last day of Fasting and Humiliation with
general acceptance, though there were not wanting one or two Laodiceans
who said that I should have waited till the President announced his
policy. But let us hope and pray, remembering this of Saint Gregory,
_Vult Deus rogari, vult cogi, vult quâdam importunitate vinci_.

We had our first fall of snow on Friday last. Frosts have been unusually
backward this fall. A singular circumstance occurred in this town on the
20th October, in the family of Deacon Pelatiah Tinkham. On the previous
evening, a few moments before family prayers,

       *       *       *       *       *

[The editors of the 'Atlantic' find it necessary here to cut short the
letter of their valued correspondent, which seemed calculated rather on
the rates of longevity in Jaalam than for less favored localities. They
have every encouragement to hope that he will write again.]

With esteem and respect, Your obedient servant, Homer Wilbur, A.M.


It's some consid'ble of a spell sence I hain't writ no letters,
An' ther' 's gret changes hez took place in all polit'cle metters:
Some canderdates air dead an' gone, an' some hez ben defeated,
Which 'mounts to pooty much the same; fer it's ben proved repeated
A betch o' bread thet hain't riz once ain't goin' to rise agin,
An' it's jest money throwed away to put the emptins in:
But thet's wut folks wun't never larn; they dunno how to go,
Arter you want their room, no more 'n a bullet-headed bean;
Ther' 's ollers chaps a-hangin' roun' thet can't see peatime's past,
Mis'ble as roosters in a rain, heads down an' tails half-mast:     10
It ain't disgraceful bein' beat, when a holl nation doos it,
But Chance is like an amberill,--it don't take twice to lose it.

I spose you're kin' o' cur'ous, now, to know why I hain't writ.
Wal, I've ben where a litt'ry taste don't somehow seem to git
Th' encouragement a feller'd think, thet's used to public schools,
An' where sech things ez paper 'n' ink air clean agin the rules:
A kind o' vicyvarsy house, built dreffle strong an' stout,
So 's 't honest people can't get in, ner t'other sort git out.
An' with the winders so contrived, you'd prob'ly like the view
Better alookin' in than out, though it seems sing'lar, tu;     20
But then the landlord sets by ye, can't bear ye out o' sight,
And locks ye up ez reg'lar ez an outside door at night.

This world is awfle contrary: the rope may stretch your neck
Thet mebby kep' another chap frum washin' off a wreck;
An' you may see the taters grow in one poor feller's patch,
So small no self-respectin' hen thet vallied time 'ould scratch,
So small the rot can't find 'em out, an' then agin, nex' door,
Ez big ez wut hogs dream on when they're 'most too fat to snore.
But groutin' ain't no kin' o' use; an' ef the fust throw fails,
Why, up an' try agin, thet's all,--the coppers ain't all tails,     30
Though I _hev_ seen 'em when I thought they hedn't no more head
Than 'd sarve a nussin' Brigadier thet gits some Ink to shed.

When I writ last, I'd ben turned loose by thet blamed nigger, Pomp,
Ferlorner than a musquash, ef you'd took an' dreened his swamp;
But I ain't o' the meechin' kind, thet sets an' thinks fer weeks
The bottom's out o' th' univarse coz their own gillpot leaks.
I hed to cross bayous an' criks, (wal, it did beat all natur',)
Upon a kin' o' corderoy, fust log, then alligator;
Luck'ly, the critters warn't sharp-sot; I guess 'twuz overruled
They 'd done their mornin's marketin' an' gut their hunger cooled;     40
Fer missionaries to the Creeks an' runaways are viewed
By them an' folks ez sent express to be their reg'lar food;
Wutever 'twuz, they laid an' snoozed ez peacefully ez sinners,
Meek ez disgestin' deacons be at ordination dinners;
Ef any on 'em turned an' snapped, I let 'em kin' o' taste
My live-oak leg, an' so, ye see, ther' warn't no gret o' waste;
Fer they found out in quicker time than ef they'd ben to college
'Twarn't heartier food than though 'twuz made out o' the tree o'
  knowledge.
But I tell _you_ my other leg hed larned wut pizon-nettle meant,
An' var'ous other usefle things, afore I reached a settlement,     50
An' all o' me thet wuzn't sore an' sendin' prickles thru me
Wuz jest the leg I parted with in lickin' Montezumy:
A useful limb it's ben to me, an' more of a support
Than wut the other hez ben,--coz I dror my pension for 't.

Wal, I gut in at last where folks wuz civerlized an' white,
Ez I diskivered to my cost afore 'twarn't hardly night;
Fer 'z I wuz settin' in the bar a-takin' sunthin' hot,
An' feelin' like a man agin, all over in one spot,
A feller thet sot oppersite, arter a squint at me,
Lep' up an' drawed his peacemaker, an', 'Dash it, Sir,' suz he,     60
'I'm doubledashed ef you ain't him thet stole my yaller chettle,
(You're all the stranger thet's around,) so now you've gut to settle;
It ain't no use to argerfy ner try to cut up frisky,
I know ye ez I know the smell of ole chain-lightnin' whiskey;
We're lor-abidin' folks down here, we'll fix ye so's 't a bar
Wouldn' tech ye with a ten-foot pole; (Jedge, you jest warm the tar;)
You'll think you'd better ha' gut among a tribe o' Mongrel Tartars,
'fore we've done showin' how we raise our Southun prize tar-martyrs;
A moultin' fallen cherubim, ef he should see ye, 'd snicker,
Thinkin' he warn't a suckemstance. Come, genlemun, le' 's liquor;     70
An', Gin'ral, when you've mixed the drinks an' chalked 'em up, tote roun'
An' see ef ther' 's a feather-bed (thet's borryable) in town.
We'll try ye fair, ole Grafted-Leg, an' ef the tar wun't stick,
Th' ain't not a juror here but wut'll 'quit ye double-quick,'
To cut it short, I wun't say sweet, they gi' me a good dip,
(They ain't _perfessin'_ Bahptists here,) then give the bed a rip,--
The jury'd sot, an' quicker 'n a flash they hetched me out, a livin'
Extemp'ry mammoth turkey-chick fer a Fejee Thanksgivin'.
Thet I felt some stuck up is wut it's nat'ral to suppose,
When poppylar enthusiasm hed funnished me sech clo'es;     80
(Ner 'tain't without edvantiges, this kin' o' suit, ye see,
It's water-proof, an' water's wut I like kep' out o' me;)
But nut content with thet, they took a kerridge from the fence
An' rid me roun' to see the place, entirely free 'f expense,
With forty-'leven new kines o' sarse without no charge acquainted me,
Gi' me three cheers, an' vowed thet I wuz all their fahncy painted me;
They treated me to all their eggs; (they keep 'em I should think,
Fer sech ovations, pooty long, for they wuz mos' distinc');
They starred me thick 'z the Milky-Way with indiscrim'nit cherity,
Fer wut we call reception eggs air sunthin' of a rerity;     90
Green ones is plentifle anough, skurce wuth a nigger's getherin',
But your dead-ripe ones ranges high fer treatin' Nothun bretherin;
A spotteder, ring-streakeder child the' warn't in Uncle Sam's
Holl farm,--a cross of striped pig an' one o' Jacob's lambs;
'Twuz Dannil in the lions' den, new an' enlarged edition,
An' everythin' fust-rate o' 'ts kind; the' warn't no impersition.
People's impulsiver down here than wut our folks to home be,
An' kin' o' go it 'ith a resh in raisin' Hail Columby:
Thet's _so:_ an' they swarmed out like bees, for your real Southun men's
Time isn't o' much more account than an ole settin' hen's;     100
(They jest work semioccashnally, or else don't work at all,
An' so their time an' 'tention both air at saci'ty's call.)
Talk about hospatality! wut Nothun town d' ye know
Would take a totle stranger up an' treat him gratis so?
You'd better b'lleve ther' 's nothin' like this spendin' days an' nights
Along 'ith a dependent race fer civerlizin' whites.

But this wuz all prelim'nary; it's so Gran' Jurors here
Fin' a true bill, a hendier way than ourn, an' nut so dear;
So arter this they sentenced me, to make all tight 'n' snug,
Afore a reg'lar court o' law, to ten years in the Jug.      110
I didn't make no gret defence: you don't feel much like speakin',
When, ef you let your clamshells gape, a quart o' tar will leak in:
I _hev_ hearn tell o' winged words, but pint o' fact it tethers
The spoutin' gift to hev your words _tu_ thick sot on with feathers,
An' Choate ner Webster wouldn't ha' made an A 1 kin' o' speech
Astride a Southun chestnut horse sharper 'n a baby's screech.
Two year ago they ketched the thief, 'n' seein' I wuz innercent,
They jest uncorked an' le' me run, an' in my stid the sinner sent
To see how _he_ liked pork 'n' pone flavored with wa'nut saplin',
An' nary social priv'ledge but a one-hoss, starn-wheel chaplin.      120
When I come out, the folks behaved mos' gen'manly an' harnsome;
They 'lowed it wouldn't be more 'n right, ef I should cuss 'n' darn some:
The Cunnle he apolergized; suz he, 'I'll du wut's right,
I'll give ye settisfection now by shootin' ye at sight,
An' give the nigger (when he's caught), to pay him fer his trickin'
In gittin' the wrong man took up, a most H fired lickin',--
It's jest the way with all on 'em, the inconsistent critters,
They're 'most enough to make a man blaspheme his mornin' bitters;
I'll be your frien' thru thick an' thin an' in all kines o' weathers,
An' all you'll hev to pay fer's jest the waste o' tar an'
  feathers:     130
A lady owned the bed, ye see, a widder, tu, Miss Shennon;
It wuz her mite; we would ha' took another, ef ther' 'd ben one:
We don't make _no_ charge for the ride an' all the other fixins.
Le' 's liquor; Gin'ral, you can chalk our friend for all the mixins.'
A meetin' then wuz called, where they 'RESOLVED, Thet we respec'
B.S. Esquire for quallerties o' heart an' intellec'
Peculiar to Columby's sile, an' not to no one else's,
Thet makes European tyrans scringe in all their gilded pel'ces,
An' doos gret honor to our race an' Southun institootions:'
(I give ye jest the substance o' the leadin' resolootions:)     140
'RESOLVED, Thet we revere In him a soger 'thout a flor,
A martyr to the princerples o' libbaty an' lor:
RESOLVED, Thet other nations all, ef sot 'longside o' us,
For vartoo, larnin', chivverlry, ain't noways wuth a cuss.'
They got up a subscription, tu, but no gret come o' _thet;_
I 'xpect in cairin' of it roun' they took a leaky hat;
Though Southun genelmun ain't slow at puttin' down their name,
(When they can write,) fer in the eend it comes to jes' the same,
Because, ye see, 't 's the fashion here to sign an' not to think
A critter'd be so sordid ez to ax 'em for the chink:     150
I didn't call but jest on one, an' _he_ drawed tooth-pick on me,
An' reckoned he warn't goin' to stan' no sech dog-gauned econ'my:
So nothin' more wuz realized, 'ceptin' the good-will shown,
Than ef 't had ben from fust to last a regular Cotton Loan.
It's a good way, though, come to think, coz ye enjy the sense
O' lendin' lib'rally to the Lord, an' nary red o' 'xpense:
Sence then I've gut my name up for a gin'rous-hearted man
By jes' subscribin' right an' left on this high-minded plan;
I've gin away my thousans so to every Southun sort
O' missions, colleges, an' sech, ner ain't no poorer for 't.     160

I warn't so bad off, arter all; I needn't hardly mention
That Guv'ment owed me quite a pile for my arrears o' pension,--
I mean the poor, weak thing we _hed:_ we run a new one now,
Thet strings a feller with a claim up ta the nighes' bough,
An' _prectises_ the rights o' man, purtects down-trodden debtors,
Ner wun't hev creditors about ascrougin' o' their betters:
Jeff's gut the last idees ther' is, poscrip', fourteenth edition,
He knows it takes some enterprise to run an oppersition;
Ourn's the fust thru-by-daylight train, with all ou'doors for deepot;
Yourn goes so slow you'd think 'twuz drawed by a las' cent'ry
  teapot;--    170
Wal, I gut all on 't paid in gold afore our State seceded,
An' done wal, for Confed'rit bonds warn't jest the cheese I needed:
Nut but wut they're ez _good_ ez gold, but then it's hard a-breakin'
  on 'em,
An' ignorant folks is ollers sot an' wun't git used to takin' on 'em;
They're wuth ez much ez wut they wuz afore ole Mem'nger signed 'em,
An' go off middlin' wal for drinks, when ther' 's a knife behind 'em;
We _du_ miss silver, jes' fer thet an' ridin' in a bus,
Now we've shook off the desputs thet wuz suckin' at our pus;
An' it's _because_ the South's so rich; 'twuz nat'ral to expec'
Supplies o' change wuz jes' the things we shouldn't recollec';       180
We'd ough' to ha' thought aforehan', though, o' thet good rule o'
  Crockett's,
For 't 's tiresome cairin' cotton-bales an' niggers in your pockets,
Ner 'tain't quite hendy to pass off one o' your six-foot Guineas
An' git your halves an' quarters back in gals an' pickaninnies:
Wal, 'tain't quite all a feller'd ax, but then ther's this to say,
It's on'y jest among ourselves thet we expec' to pay;
Our system would ha' caird us thru in any Bible cent'ry,
'fore this onscripterl plan come up o' books by double entry;
We go the patriarkle here out o' all sight an' hearin',
For Jacob warn't a suckemstance to Jeff at financierin';       190
_He_ never'd thought o' borryin' from Esau like all nater
An' then cornfiscatin' all debts to sech a small pertater;
There's p'litickle econ'my, now, combined 'ith morril beauty
Thet saycrifices privit eends (your in'my's, tu) to dooty!
Wy, Jeff 'd ha' gin him five an' won his eye-teeth 'fore he knowed it,
An', stid o' wastin' pottage, he'd ha' eat it up an' owed it.
But I wuz goin' on to say how I come here to dwall;--
'Nough said, thet, arter lookin' roun', I liked the place so wal,
Where niggers doos a double good, with us atop to stiddy 'em,
By bein' proofs o' prophecy an' suckleatin' medium,     200
Where a man's sunthin' coz he's white, an' whiskey's cheap ez fleas,
An' the financial pollercy jes' sooted my idees,
Thet I friz down right where I wuz, merried the Widder Shennon,
(Her thirds wuz part in cotton-land, part in the curse o' Canaan,)
An' here I be ez lively ez a chipmunk on a wall,
With nothin' to feel riled about much later 'n Eddam's fall.

Ez fur ez human foresight goes, we made an even trade:
She gut an overseer, an' I a fem'ly ready-made,
The youngest on 'em 's 'mos' growed up, rugged an' spry ez weazles,
So 's 't ther' 's no resk o' doctors' bills fer hoopin'-cough an' measles.
Our farm's at Turkey-Buzzard Roost, Little Big Boosy River,     211
Wal located in all respex,--fer 'tain't the chills 'n' fever
Thet makes my writin' seem to squirm; a Southuner'd allow I'd
Some call to shake, for I've jest hed to meller a new cowhide.
Miss S. is all 'f a lady; th' ain't no better on Big Boosy
Ner one with more accomplishmunts 'twist here an' Tuscaloosy;
She's an F.F., the tallest kind, an' prouder 'n the Gran' Turk,
An' never hed a relative thet done a stroke o' work;
Hern ain't a scrimpin' fem'ly sech ez _you_ git up Down East,
Th' ain't a growed member on 't but owes his thousuns et the least:
She _is_ some old; but then agin ther' 's drawbacks in my sheer:     221
Wut's left o' me ain't more 'n enough to make a Brigadier:
Wust is, thet she hez tantrums; she's like Seth Moody's gun
(Him thet wuz nicknamed from his limp Ole Dot an' Kerry One);
He'd left her loaded up a spell, an' hed to git her clear,
So he onhitched,--Jeerusalem! the middle o' last year
Wuz right nex' door compared to where she kicked the critter tu
(Though _jest_ where he brought up wuz wut no human never knew);
His brother Asaph picked her up an' tied her to a tree,
An' then she kicked an hour 'n' a half afore she'd let it be:     230
Wal, Miss S. _doos_ hev cuttins-up an' pourins-out o' vials,
But then she hez her widder's thirds, an' all on us hez trials.
My objec', though, in writin' now warn't to allude to sech,
But to another suckemstance more dellykit to tech,--
I want thet you should grad'lly break my merriage to Jerushy,
An' there's a heap of argymunts thet's emple to indooce ye:
Fust place, State's Prison,--wal, it's true it warn't fer crime,
  o' course,
But then it's jest the same fer her in gittin' a disvorce;
Nex' place, my State's secedin' out hez leg'lly lef' me free
To merry any one I please, pervidin' it's a she;     240
Fin'lly, I never wun't come back, she needn't hev no fear on 't,
But then it's wal to fix things right fer fear Miss S. should hear on 't;
Lastly, I've gut religion South, an' Rushy she's a pagan
Thet sets by th' graven imiges o' the gret Nothun Dagon;
(Now I hain't seen one in six munts, for, sence our Treashry Loan,
Though yaller boys is thick anough, eagles hez kind o' flown;)
An' ef J wants a stronger pint than them thet I hev stated,
Wy, she's an aliun in'my now, an' I've been cornfiscated,--
For sence we've entered on th' estate o' the late nayshnul eagle,
She hain't no kin' o' right but jes' wut I allow ez legle:     250
Wut _doos_ Secedin' mean, ef 'tain't thet nat'rul rights hez riz, 'n'
Thet wut is mine's my own, but wut's another man's ain't his'n?

Besides, I couldn't do no else; Miss S. suz she to me,
'You've sheered my bed,' [thet's when I paid my interduction fee
To Southun rites,] 'an' kep' your sheer,' [wal, I allow it sticked
So 's 't I wuz most six weeks in jail afore I gut me picked,]
'Ner never paid no demmiges; but thet wun't do no harm,
Pervidin' thet you'll ondertake to oversee the farm;
(My eldes' boy he's so took up, wut with the Ringtail Rangers
An' settin' in the Jestice-Court for welcomin' o' strangers;')     260
[He sot on _me;_] 'an' so, ef you'll jest ondertake the care
Upon a mod'rit sellery, we'll up an' call it square;
But ef you _can't_ conclude,' suz she, an' give a kin' o' grin,
'Wy, the Gran' Jurymen, I 'xpect, 'll hev to set agin.'
That's the way metters stood at fust; now wut wuz I to du,
But jes' to make the best on 't an' off coat an' buckle tu?
Ther' ain't a livin' man thet finds an income necessarier
Than me,--bimeby I'll tell ye how I fin'lly come to merry her.
She hed another motive, tu: I mention of it here
T' encourage lads thet's growin' up to study 'n' persevere,    270
An' show 'em how much better 't pays to mind their winter-schoolin'
Than to go off on benders 'n' sech, an' waste their time in foolin';
Ef 'twarn't for studyin' evenins, why, I never 'd ha' ben here
A orn'ment o' saciety, in my approprut spear:
She wanted somebody, ye see, o' taste an' cultivation,
To talk along o' preachers when they stopt to the plantation;
For folks in Dixie th't read an' rite, onless it is by jarks,
Is skurce ez wut they wuz among th' origenle patriarchs;
To fit a feller f' wut they call the soshle higherarchy,
All thet you've gut to know is jes' beyond an evrage darky;    280
Schoolin' 's wut they can't seem to stan', they 're tu consarned
  high-pressure,
An' knowin' t' much might spile a boy for hem' a Secesher.
We hain't no settled preachin' here, ner ministeril taxes;
The min'ster's only settlement's the carpet-bag he packs his
Razor an' soap-brush intu, with his hym-book an' his Bible,--
But they _du_ preach, I swan to man, it's puf'kly indescrib'le!
They go it like an Ericsson's ten-hoss-power coleric ingine,
An' make Ole Split-Foot winch an' squirm, for all he's used to singein';
Hawkins's whetstone ain't a pinch o' primin' to the innards
To hearin' on 'em put free grace t' a lot o' tough old sinhards!   290
But I must eend this letter now: 'fore long I'll send a fresh un;
I've lots o' things to write about, perticklerly Seceshun:
I'm called off now to mission-work, to let a leetle law in
To Cynthy's hide: an' so, till death,
                                    Yourn,
                                          BIRDOFREDUM SAWIN.



No. II

MASON AND SLIDELL: A YANKEE IDYLL

TO THE EDITORS OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY

JAALAM, 6th Jan., 1862.

Gentlemen,--I was highly gratified by the insertion of a portion of my
letter in the last number of your valuable and entertaining Miscellany,
though in a type which rendered its substance inaccessible even to the
beautiful new spectacles presented to me by a Committee of the Parish on
New Year's Day. I trust that I was able to bear your very considerable
abridgment of my lucubrations with a spirit becoming a Christian. My
third granddaughter, Rebekah, aged fourteen years, and whom I have
trained to read slowly and with proper emphasis (a practice too much
neglected in our modern systems of education), read aloud to me the
excellent essay upon 'Old Age,' the author of which I cannot help
suspecting to be a young man who has never yet known what it was to have
snow (_canities morosa_) upon his own roof. _Dissolve frigus, large
super foco ligna reponens_, is a rule for the young, whose woodpile is
yet abundant for such cheerful lenitives. A good life behind him is the
best thing to keep an old man's shoulders from shivering at every
breath of sorrow or ill-fortune. But methinks it were easier for an old
man to feel the disadvantages of youth than the advantages of age. Of
these latter I reckon one of the chiefest to be this: that we attach a
less inordinate value to our own productions, and, distrusting daily
more and more our own wisdom (with the conceit whereof at twenty we wrap
ourselves away from knowledge as with a garment), do reconcile ourselves
with the wisdom of God. I could have wished, indeed, that room might
have been made for the residue of the anecdote relating to Deacon
Tinkham, which would not only have gratified a natural curiosity on the
part of the publick (as I have reason to know from several letters of
inquiry already received), but would also, as I think, have largely
increased the circulation of your Magazine in this town. _Nihil humani
alienum_, there is a curiosity about the affairs of our neighbors which
is not only pardonable, but even commendable. But I shall abide a more
fitting season.

As touching the following literary effort of Esquire Biglow, much might
be profitably said on the topick of Idyllick and Pastoral Poetry, and
concerning the proper distinctions to be made between them, from
Theocritus, the inventor of the former, to Collins, the latest authour I
know of who has emulated the classicks in the latter style. But in the
time of a Civil War worthy a Milton to defend and a Lucan to sing, it
may be reasonably doubted whether the publick, never too studious of
serious instruction, might not consider other objects more deserving of
present attention. Concerning the title of Idyll, which Mr. Biglow has
adopted at my suggestion, it may not be improper to animadvert, that the
name properly signifies a poem somewhat rustick in phrase (for, though
the learned are not agreed as to the particular dialect employed by
Theocritus, they are universanimous both as to its rusticity and its
capacity of rising now and then to the level of more elevated sentiments
and expressions), while it is also descriptive of real scenery and
manners. Yet it must be admitted that the production now in question
(which here and there bears perhaps too plainly the marks of my
correcting hand) does partake of the nature of a Pastoral, inasmuch as
the interlocutors therein are purely imaginary beings, and the whole is
little better than [Greek: kapnou skias onar]. The plot was, as I
believe, suggested by the 'Twa Brigs' of Robert Burns, a Scottish poet
of the last century, as that found its prototype in the 'Mutual
Complaint of Plainstanes and Causey' by Fergusson, though, the metre of
this latter be different by a foot in each verse. Perhaps the Two Dogs
of Cervantes gave the first hint. I reminded my talented young
parishioner and friend that Concord Bridge had long since yielded to the
edacious tooth of Time. But he answered me to this effect: that there
was no greater mistake of an authour than to suppose the reader had no
fancy of his own; that, if once that faculty was to be called into
activity, it were _better_ to be in for the whole sheep than the
shoulder; and that he knew Concord like a book,--an expression
questionable in propriety, since there are few things with which he is
not more familiar than with the printed page. In proof of what he
affirmed, he showed me some verses which with others he had stricken
out as too much delaying the action, but which I communicate in this
place because they rightly define 'punkin-seed' (which Mr. Bartlett
would have a kind of perch,--a creature to which I have found a rod or
pole not to be so easily equivalent in our inland waters as in the books
of arithmetic) and because it conveys an eulogium on the worthy son of
an excellent father, with whose acquaintance (_eheu, fugaces anni!_) I
was formerly honoured.

'But nowadays the Bridge ain't wut they show,
So much ez Em'son, Hawthorne, an' Thoreau.
I know the village, though; was sent there once
A-schoolin', 'cause to home I played the dunce;
An' I 've ben sence a visitin' the Jedge,
Whose garding whispers with the river's edge,
Where I 've sot mornin's lazy as the bream,
Whose on'y business is to head upstream,
(We call 'em punkin-seed,) or else in chat
Along 'th the Jedge, who covers with his hat
More wit an' gumption an' shrewd Yankee sense
Than there is mosses on an ole stone fence.'

Concerning the subject-matter of the verses. I have not the leisure at
present to write so fully as I could wish, my time being occupied with
the preparation of a discourse for the forthcoming bicentenary
celebration of the first settlement of Jaalam East Parish. It may
gratify the publick interest to mention the circumstance, that my
investigations to this end have enabled me to verify the fact (of much
historick importance, and hitherto hotly debated) that Shearjashub
Tarbox was the first child of white parentage born in this town, being
named in his father's will under date August 7th, or 9th, 1662. It is
well known that those who advocate the claims of Mehetable Goings are
unable to find any trace of her existence prior to October of that year.
As respects the settlement of the Mason and Slidell question, Mr. Biglow
has not incorrectly stated the popular sentiment, so far as I can judge
by its expression in this locality. For myself, I feel more sorrow than
resentment: for I am old enough to have heard those talk of England who
still, even after the unhappy estrangement, could not unschool their
lips from calling her the Mother-Country. But England has insisted on
ripping up old wounds, and has undone the healing work of fifty years;
for nations do not reason, they only feel, and the _spretæ injuria
formæ_ rankles in their minds as bitterly as in that of a woman. And
because this is so, I feel the more satisfaction that our Government has
acted (as all Governments should, standing as they do between the people
and their passions) as if it had arrived at years of discretion. There
are three short and simple words, the hardest of all to pronounce in any
language (and I suspect they were no easier before the confusion of
tongues), but which no man or nation that cannot utter can claim to have
arrived at manhood. Those words are, _I was wrong;_ and I am proud that,
while England played the boy, our rulers had strength enough from the
People below and wisdom enough from God above to quit themselves like
men.

The sore points on both sides have been skilfully exasperated by
interested and unscrupulous persons, who saw in a war between the two
countries the only hope of profitable return for their investment in
Confederate stock, whether political or financial. The always
supercilious, often insulting, and sometimes even brutal tone of British
journals and publick men has certainly not tended to soothe whatever
resentment might exist in America.

'Perhaps it was right to dissemble your love,
But why did you kick me down stairs?'

We have no reason to complain that England, as a necessary consequence
of her clubs, has become a great society for the minding of other
people's business, and we can smile good-naturedly when she lectures
other nations on the sins of arrogance and conceit: but we may justly
consider it a breach of the political _convenances_ which are expected
to regulate the intercourse of one well-bred government with another,
when men holding places in the ministry allow themselves to dictate our
domestic policy, to instruct us in our duty, and to stigmatize as unholy
a war for the rescue of whatever a high-minded people should hold most
vital and most sacred. Was it in good taste, that I may use the mildest
term, for Earl Russell to expound our own Constitution to President
Lincoln, or to make a new and fallacious application of an old phrase
for our benefit, and tell us that the Rebels were fighting for
independence and we for empire? As if all wars for independence were by
nature just and deserving of sympathy, and all wars for empire ignoble
and worthy only of reprobation, or as if these easy phrases in any way
characterized this terrible struggle,--terrible not so truly in any
superficial sense, as from the essential and deadly enmity of the
principles that underlie it. His Lordship's bit of borrowed rhetoric
would justify Smith O'Brien, Nana Sahib, and the Maori chieftains, while
it would condemn nearly every war in which England has ever been
engaged. Was it so very presumptuous in us to think that it would be
decorous in English statesmen if they spared time enough to acquire some
kind of knowledge, though of the most elementary kind, in regard to this
country and the questions at issue here, before they pronounced so
off-hand a judgment? Or is political information expected to come
Dogberry-fashion in England, like reading and writing, by nature?

And now all respectable England is wondering at our irritability, and
sees a quite satisfactory explanation of it in our national vanity.
_Suave mari magno_, it is pleasant, sitting in the easy-chairs of
Downing Street, to sprinkle pepper on the raw wounds of a kindred people
struggling for life, and philosophical to find in self-conceit the cause
of our instinctive resentment. Surely we were of all nations the least
liable to any temptation of vanity at a time when the gravest anxiety
and the keenest sorrow were never absent from our hearts. Nor is conceit
the exclusive attribute of any one nation. The earliest of English
travellers, Sir John Mandeville, took a less provincial view of the
matter when he said, 'For fro what partie of the erthe that men duellen,
other aboven or beneathen, it semethe alweys to hem that duellen that
thei gon more righte than any other folke.' The English have always had
their fair share of this amiable quality. We may say of them still, as
the authour of the 'Lettres Cabalistiques' said of them more than a
century ago, _'Ces derniers disent naturellement qu'il n'y a qu'eux qui
soient estimables_'. And, as he also says,_'J'aimerois presque autant
tomber entre les mains d'un Inquisiteur que d'un Anglois qui me fait
sentir sans cesse combien il s'estime plus que moi, et qui ne daigne me
parler que pour injurier ma Nation et pour m'ennuyer du récit des
grandes qualités de la sienne_.' Of _this_ Bull we may safely say with
Horace, _habet fænum in cornu._ What we felt to be especially insulting
was the quiet assumption that the descendants of men who left the Old
World for the sake of principle, and who had made the wilderness into a
New World patterned after an Idea, could not possibly be susceptible of
a generous or lofty sentiment, could have no feeling of nationality
deeper than that of a tradesman for his shop. One would have thought, in
listening to England, that we were presumptuous in fancying that we were
a nation at all, or had any other principle of union than that of booths
at a fair, where there is no higher notion of government than the
constable, or better image of God than that stamped upon the current
coin.

It is time for Englishmen to consider whether there was nothing in the
spirit of their press and of their leading public men calculated to
rouse a just indignation, and to cause a permanent estrangement on the
part of any nation capable of self-respect, and sensitively jealous, as
ours then was, of foreign interference. Was there nothing in the
indecent haste with which belligerent rights were conceded to the
Rebels, nothing in the abrupt tone assumed in the Trent case, nothing in
the fitting out of Confederate privateers, that might stir the blood of
a people already overcharged with doubt, suspicion, and terrible
responsibility? The laity in any country do not stop to consider points
of law, but they have an instinctive perception of the _animus_ that
actuates the policy of a foreign nation; and in our own case they
remembered that the British authorities in Canada did not wait till
diplomacy could send home to England for her slow official tinder-box to
fire the 'Caroline.' Add to this, what every sensible American knew,
that the moral support of England was equal to an army of two hundred
thousand men to the Rebels, while it insured us another year or two of
exhausting war. It was not so much the spite of her words (though the
time might have been more tastefully chosen) as the actual power for
evil in them that we felt as a deadly wrong. Perhaps the most immediate
and efficient cause of mere irritation was, the sudden and unaccountable
change of manner on the other side of the water. Only six months before,
the Prince of Wales had come over to call us cousins; and everywhere it
was nothing but 'our American brethren,' that great offshoot of British
institutions in the New World, so almost identical with them in laws,
language, and literature,--this last of the alliterative compliments
being so bitterly true, that perhaps it will not be retracted even now.
To this outburst of long-repressed affection we responded with genuine
warmth, if with something of the awkwardness of a poor relation
bewildered with the sudden tightening of the ties of consanguinity when
it is rumored that he has come into a large estate. Then came the
Rebellion, and, _presto!_ a flaw in our titles was discovered, the plate
we were promised at the family table is flung at our head, and we were
again the scum of creation, intolerably vulgar, at once cowardly and
overbearing,--no relations of theirs, after all, but a dreggy hybrid of
the basest bloods of Europe. Panurge was not quicker to call Friar John
his _former_ friend. I cannot help thinking of Walter Mapes's jingling
paraphrase of Petronius,--

'Dummodo sim splendidis vestibus ornatus,
Et multa familia sim circumvallatus,
Prudens sum et sapiens et morigeratus,
Et tuus nepos sum et tu meus cognatus,'--

which I may freely render thus:--

So long as I was prosperous, I'd dinners by the dozen,
Was well-bred, witty, virtuous, and everybody's cousin;
If luck should turn, as well she may, her fancy is so flexile,
Will virtue, cousinship, and all return with her from exile?

There was nothing in all this to exasperate a philosopher, much to make
him smile rather; but the earth's surface is not chiefly inhabited by
philosophers, and I revive the recollection of it now in perfect
good-humour, merely by way of suggesting to our _ci-devant_ British
cousins, that it would have been easier for them to hold their tongues
than for us to keep our tempers under the circumstances.

The English Cabinet made a blunder, unquestionably, in taking it so
hastily for granted that the United States had fallen forever from their
position as a first-rate power, and it was natural that they should vent
a little of their vexation on the people whose inexplicable obstinacy in
maintaining freedom and order, and in resisting degradation, was likely
to convict them of their mistake. But if bearing a grudge be the sure
mark of a small mind in the individual, can it be a proof of high spirit
in a nation? If the result of the present estrangement between the two
countries shall be to make us more independent of British twaddle
(_Indomito nec dira ferens stipendia Tauro_), so much the better; but if
it is to make us insensible to the value of British opinion in matters
where it gives us the judgment of an impartial and cultivated outsider,
if we are to shut ourselves out from the advantages of English culture,
the loss will be ours, and not theirs. Because the door of the old
homestead has been once slammed in our faces, shall we in a huff reject
all future advances of conciliation, and cut ourselves foolishly off
from any share in the humanizing influences of the place, with its
ineffable riches of association, its heirlooms of immemorial culture,
its historic monuments, ours no less than theirs, its noble gallery of
ancestral portraits? We have only to succeed, and England will not only
respect, but, for the first time, begin to understand us. And let us
not, in our justifiable indignation at wanton insult, forget that
England is not the England only of snobs who dread the democracy they do
not comprehend, but the England of history, of heroes, statesmen, and
poets, whose names are dear, and their influence as salutary to us as to
her.

Let us strengthen the hands of those in authority over us, and curb our
own tongues, remembering that General Wait commonly proves in the end
more than a match for General Headlong, and that the Good Book ascribes
safety to a multitude, indeed, but not to a mob, of counsellours. Let us
remember and perpend the words of Paulus Emilius to the people of Rome;
that, 'if they judged they could manage the war to more advantage by any
other, he would willingly yield up his charge; but if they confided in
him, _they were not to make themselves his colleagues in his office, or
raise reports, or criticise his actions, but, without talking, supply
him with means and assistance necessary to the carrying on of the war;
for, if they proposed to command their own commander, they would render
this expedition more ridiculous than the former.' (Vide Plutarchum in
Vitâ P.E._) Let us also not forget what the same excellent authour says
concerning Perseus's fear of spending money, and not permit the
covetousness of Brother Jonathan to be the good fortune of Jefferson
Davis. For my own part, till I am ready to admit the Commander-in-Chief
to my pulpit, I shall abstain from planning his battles. If courage be
the sword, yet is patience the armour of a nation; and in our desire for
peace, let us never be willing to surrender the Constitution bequeathed
us by fathers at least as wise as ourselves (even with Jefferson Davis
to help us), and, with those degenerate Romans, _tuta et præsentia quam
vetera et periculosa malle_.

And not only should we bridle our own tongues, but the pens of others,
which are swift to convey useful intelligence to the enemy. This is no
new inconvenience; for, under date, 3d June, 1745, General Pepperell
wrote thus to Governor Shirley from Louisbourg: 'What your Excellency
observes of the _army's being made acquainted with any plans proposed,
until ready to be put in execution_, has always been disagreeable to me,
and I have given many cautions relating to it. But when your Excellency
considers that _our Council of War consists of more than twenty
members_, I am persuaded you will think it _impossible for me to hinder
it_, if any of them will persist in communicating to inferior officers
and soldiers what ought to be kept secret. I am informed that the Boston
newspapers are filled with paragraphs from private letters relating to
the expedition. Will your Excellency permit me to say I think it may be
of ill consequence? Would it not be convenient, if your Excellency
should forbid the Printers' inserting such news?' Verily, if _tempora
mutantur_, we may question the _et nos mutamur in illis;_ and if tongues
be leaky, it will need all hands at the pumps to save the Ship of State.
Our history dotes and repeats itself. If Sassycus (rather than
Alcibiades) find a parallel in Beauregard, so Weakwash, as he is called
by the brave Lieutenant Lion Gardiner, need not seek far among our own
Sachems for his anti-type.

    With respect,
      Your ob't humble serv't
        Homer Wilbur, A.M.


I love to start out arter night's begun,
An' all the chores about the farm are done,
The critters milked an' foddered, gates shet fast,
Tools cleaned aginst to-morrer, supper past.
An' Nancy darnin' by her ker'sene lamp,--
I love, I say, to start upon a tramp,
To shake the kinkles out o' back an' legs,
An' kind o' rack my life off from the dregs
Thet's apt to settle in the buttery-hutch
Of folks thet foller in one rut too much:     10
Hard work is good an' wholesome, past all doubt;
But 't ain't so, ef the mind gits tuckered out.
Now, bein' born in Middlesex, you know,
There's certin spots where I like best to go:
The Concord road, for instance (I, for one,
Most gin'lly ollers call it _John Bull's Run_).
The field o' Lexin'ton where England tried
The fastest colours thet she ever dyed,
An' Concord Bridge, thet Davis, when he came,
Found was the bee-line track to heaven an' fame,     20
Ez all roads be by natur', ef your soul
Don't sneak thru shun-pikes so's to save the toll.

They're 'most too fur away, take too much time
To visit of'en, ef it ain't in rhyme;
But the' 's a walk thet's hendier, a sight,
An' suits me fust-rate of a winter's night,--
I mean the round whale's-back o' Prospect Hill.
I love to l'iter there while night grows still,
An' in the twinklin' villages about,
Fust here, then there, the well-saved lights goes out,      30
An' nary sound but watch-dogs' false alarms,
Or muffled cock-crows from the drowsy farms,
Where some wise rooster (men act jest thet way)
Stands to 't thet moon-rise is the break o' day;
(So Mister Seward sticks a three-months' pin
Where the war'd oughto eend, then tries agin:
My gran'ther's rule was safer 'n 'tis to crow:
_Don't never prophesy--onless ye know_.)
I love to muse there till it kind o' seems
Ez ef the world went eddyin' off in dreams;     40
The northwest wind thet twitches at my baird
Blows out o' sturdier days not easy scared,
An' the same moon thet this December shines
Starts out the tents an' booths o' Putnam's lines;
The rail-fence posts, acrost the hill thet runs,
Turn ghosts o' sogers should'rin' ghosts o' guns;
Ez wheels the sentry, glints a flash o' light,
Along the firelock won at Concord Fight,
An', 'twixt the silences, now fur, now nigh,
Rings the sharp chellenge, hums the low reply.     50

Ez I was settin' so, it warn't long sence,
Mixin' the puffict with the present tense,
I heerd two voices som'ers in the air,
Though, ef I was to die, I can't tell where:
Voices I call 'em: 'twas a kind o' sough
Like pine-trees thet the wind's ageth'rin' through;
An', fact, I thought it _was_ the wind a spell,
Then some misdoubted, couldn't fairly tell,
Fust sure, then not, jest as you hold an eel,
I knowed, an' didn't,--fin'lly seemed to feel          60
'Twas Concord Bridge a talkin' off to kill
With the Stone Spike thet's druv thru Bunker's Hill;
Whether 'twas so, or ef I on'y dreamed,
I couldn't say; I tell it ez it seemed.


THE BRIDGE

Wal, neighbor, tell us wut's turned up thet's new?
You're younger 'n I be,--nigher Boston, tu:
An' down to Boston, ef you take their showin',
Wut they don't know ain't hardly wuth the knowin'.
There's _sunthin'_ goin' on, I know: las' night
The British sogers killed in our gret fight            70
(Nigh fifty year they hedn't stirred nor spoke)
Made sech a coil you'd thought a dam hed broke:
Why, one he up an' beat a revellee
With his own crossbones on a holler tree,
Till all the graveyards swarmed out like a hive
With faces I hain't seen sence Seventy-five.
Wut _is_ the news? 'T ain't good, or they'd be cheerin'.
Speak slow an' clear, for I'm some hard o' hearin'.


THE MONIMENT

I don't know hardly ef it's good or bad,--


THE BRIDGE

At wust, it can't be wus than wut we've had.        80


THE MONIMENT

You know them envys thet the Rebbles sent,
An' Cap'n Wilkes he borried o' the Trent?


THE BRIDGE

Wut! they ha'n't hanged 'em?
Then their wits is gone!
Thet's the sure way to make a goose a swan!


THE MONIMENT

No: England she _would_ hev 'em, _Fee, Faw, Fum!_
(Ez though she hedn't fools enough to home,)
So they've returned 'em--


THE BRIDGE

                   _Hev_ they? Wal, by heaven,
Thet's the wust news I've heerd sence Seventy-seven!
_By George_, I meant to say, though I declare
It's 'most enough to make a deacon swear.               90


THE MONIMENT

Now don't go off half-cock: folks never gains
By usin' pepper-sarse instid o' brains.
Come, neighbor, you don't understan'--


THE BRIDGE

                                 How? Hey?
Not understan'? Why, wut's to hender, pray?
Must I go huntin' round to find a chap
To tell me when my face hez hed a slap?


THE MONIMENT

See here: the British they found out a flaw
In Cap'n Wilkes's readin' o' the law:
(They _make_ all laws, you know, an' so, o' course,
It's nateral they should understan' their force:)                    100
He'd oughto ha' took the vessel into port,
An' hed her sot on by a reg'lar court;
She was a mail-ship, an' a steamer, tu,
An' thet, they say, hez changed the pint o' view,
Coz the old practice, bein' meant for sails,
Ef tried upon a steamer, kind o' fails;
You _may_ take out despatches, but you mus'n't
Take nary man--


THE BRIDGE

You mean to say, you dus'n't!
Changed pint o'view! No, no,--it's overboard
With law an' gospel, when their ox is gored!                         110
I tell ye, England's law, on sea an' land,
Hez ollers ben, '_I've gut the heaviest hand_.'
Take nary man? Fine preachin' from _her_ lips!
Why, she hez taken hunderds from our ships,
An' would agin, an' swear she had a right to,
Ef we warn't strong enough to be perlite to.
Of all the sarse thet I can call to mind,
England _doos_ make the most onpleasant kind:
It's you're the sinner ollers, she's the saint;
Wut's good's all English, all thet isn't ain't;                     120
Wut profits her is ollers right an' just,
An' ef you don't read Scriptur so, you must;
She's praised herself ontil she fairly thinks
There ain't no light in Natur when she winks;
Hain't she the Ten Comman'ments in her pus?
Could the world stir 'thout she went, tu, ez nus?
She ain't like other mortals, thet's a fact:
_She_ never stopped the habus-corpus act,
Nor specie payments, nor she never yet
Cut down the int'rest on her public debt;     130
_She_ don't put down rebellions, lets 'em breed,
An' 's ollers willin' Ireland should secede;
She's all thet's honest, honnable, an' fair,
An' when the vartoos died they made her heir.


THE MONIMENT

Wal, wal, two wrongs don't never make a right;
Ef we're mistaken, own up, an' don't fight:
For gracious' sake, ha'n't we enough to du
'thout gettin' up a fight with England, tu?
She thinks we're rabble-rid--


THE BRIDGE

                                   An' so we can't
Distinguish 'twixt _You oughtn't_ an' _You shan't!_      140
She jedges by herself; she's no idear
How 't stiddies folks to give 'em their fair sheer:
The odds 'twixt her an' us is plain's a steeple,--
Her People's turned to Mob, our Mob's turned People.


THE MONIMENT

She's riled jes' now--


THE BRIDGE

           Plain proof her cause ain't strong,--
The one thet fust gits mad's 'most ollers wrong.
Why, sence she helped in lickin' Nap the Fust,
An' pricked a bubble jest agoin' to bust,
With Rooshy, Prooshy, Austry, all assistin',
Th' ain't nut a face but wut she's shook her fist in,            150
Ez though she done it all, an' ten times more,
An' nothin' never hed gut done afore,
Nor never could agin, 'thout she wuz spliced
On to one eend an' gin th' old airth a hoist.
She _is_ some punkins, thet I wun't deny,
(For ain't she some related to you 'n' I?)
But there's a few small intrists here below
Outside the counter o' John Bull an' Co,
An' though they can't conceit how 't should be so,
I guess the Lord druv down Creation's spiles                      160
'thout no _gret_ helpin' from the British Isles,
An' could contrive to keep things pooty stiff
Ef they withdrawed from business in a miff;
I ha'n't no patience with sech swellin' fellers ez
Think God can't forge 'thout them to blow the bellerses.


THE MONIMENT

You're ollers quick to set your back aridge,
Though 't suits a tom-cat more 'n a sober bridge:
Don't you get het: they thought the thing was planned;
They'll cool off when they come to understand.


THE BRIDGE

Ef _thet_'s wut you expect, you'll _hev_ to wait;      170
Folks never understand the folks they hate:
She'll fin' some other grievance jest ez good,
'fore the month's out, to git misunderstood.
England cool off! She'll do it, ef she sees
She's run her head into a swarm o' bees.
I ain't so prejudiced ez wut you spose:
I hev thought England was the best thet goes;
Remember (no, you can't), when _I_ was reared,
_God save the King_ was all the tune you heerd:
But it's enough to turn Wachuset roun'                            180
This stumpin' fellers when you think they're down.


THE MONIMENT

But, neighbor, ef they prove their claim at law,
The best way is to settle, an' not jaw.
An' don't le' 's mutter 'bout the awfle bricks
We'll give 'em, ef we ketch 'em in a fix:
That 'ere's most frequently the kin' o' talk
Of critters can't be kicked to toe the chalk;
Your 'You'll see _nex'_ time!' an' 'Look out bumby!'
'Most ollers ends in eatin' umble-pie.
'Twun't pay to scringe to England: will it pay                  190
To fear thet meaner bully, old 'They'll say'?
Suppose they _du_ say; words are dreffle bores,
But they ain't quite so bad ez seventy-fours.
Wut England wants is jest a wedge to fit
Where it'll help to widen out our split:
She's found her wedge, an' 'tain't for us to come
An' lend the beetle thet's to drive it home.
For growed-up folks like us 'twould be a scandle,
When we git sarsed, to fly right off the handle.
England ain't _all_ bad, coz she thinks us blind:         200
Ef she can't change her skin, she can her mind;
An' we shall see her change it double-quick.
Soon ez we've proved thet we're a-goin' to lick.
She an' Columby's gut to be fas' friends:
For the world prospers by their privit ends:
'Twould put the clock back all o' fifty years
Ef they should fall together by the ears.


THE BRIDGE

I 'gree to thet; she's nigh us to wut France is;
But then she'll hev to make the fust advances;
We've gut pride, tu, an' gut it by good rights,               210
An' ketch _me_ stoopin' to pick up the mites
O' condescension she'll be lettin' fall
When she finds out we ain't dead arter all!
I tell ye wut, it takes more'n one good week
Afore _my_ nose forgits it's hed a tweak.


THE MONIMENT

She'll come out right bumby, thet I'll engage,
Soon ez she gits to seein' we're of age;
This talkin' down o' hers ain't wuth a fuss;
It's nat'ral ez nut likin' 'tis to us;                       220
Ef we're agoin' to prove we _be_ growed-up.
'Twun't be by barkin' like a tarrier pup,
But turnin' to an' makin' things ez good
Ez wut we're ollers braggin' that we could;
We're boun' to be good friends, an' so we'd oughto,
In spite of all the fools both sides the water.


THE BRIDGE

I b'lieve thet's so; but hearken in your ear,--
I'm older'n you,--Peace wun't keep house with Fear;
Ef you want peace, the thing you've gut tu du
Is jes' to show you're up to fightin', tu.
_I_ recollect how sailors' rights was won,      230
Yard locked in yard, hot gun-lip kissin' gun;
Why, afore thet, John Bull sot up thet he
Hed gut a kind o' mortgage on the sea;
You'd thought he held by Gran'ther Adam's will,
An' ef you knuckle down, _he_'ll think so still.
Better thet all our ships an' all their crews
Should sink to rot in ocean's dreamless ooze,
Each torn flag wavin' chellenge ez it went,
An' each dumb gun a brave man's moniment,
Than seek sech peace ez only cowards crave:                   240
Give _me_ the peace of dead men or of brave!


THE MONIMENT

I say, ole boy, it ain't the Glorious Fourth:
You'd oughto larned 'fore this wut talk wuz worth.
It ain't _our_ nose thet gits put out o' jint;
It's England thet gives up her dearest pint.
We've gut, I tell ye now, enough to du
In our own fem'ly fight, afore we're thru.
I hoped, las' spring, jest arter Sumter's shame,
When every flag-staff flapped its tethered flame,
An' all the people, startled from their doubt,                250
Come must'rin' to the flag with sech a shout,--
I hoped to see things settled 'fore this fall,
The Rebbles licked, Jeff Davis hanged, an' all;
Then come Bull Run, an' _sence_ then I've ben waitin'
Like boys in Jennooary thaw for skatin',
Nothin' to du but watch my shadder's trace
Swing, like a ship at anchor, roun' my base,
With daylight's flood an' ebb: it's gittin' slow,
An' I 'most think we'd better let 'em go.
I tell ye wut, this war's a-goin' to cost--                  260


THE BRIDGE

An' I tell _you_ it wun't be money lost;
Taxes milks dry, but, neighbor, you'll allow
Thet havin' things onsettled kills the cow:
We've gut to fix this thing for good an' all;
It's no use buildin' wut's a-goin' to fall.
I'm older'n you, an' I've seen things an' men,
An' _my_ experunce,--tell ye wut it's ben:
Folks thet worked thorough was the ones thet thriv,
But bad work follers ye ez long's ye live;
You can't git red on 't; jest ez sure ez sin,                   270
It's ollers askin' to be done agin:
Ef we should part, it wouldn't be a week
'Fore your soft-soddered peace would spring aleak.
We've turned our cuffs up, but, to put her thru,
We must git mad an' off with jackets, tu;
'Twun't du to think thet killin' ain't perlite,--
You've gut to be to airnest, ef you fight;
Why, two thirds o' the Rebbles 'ould cut dirt,
Ef they once thought thet Guv'ment meant to hurt;
An' I _du_ wish our Gin'rals hed in mind                 280
The folks in front more than the folks behind;
You wun't do much ontil you think it's God,
An' not constitoounts, thet holds the rod;
We want some more o' Gideon's sword, I jedge,
For proclamations ha'n't no gret of edge;
There's nothin' for a cancer but the knife,
Onless you set by 't more than by your life.
_I_'ve seen hard times; I see a war begun
Thet folks thet love their bellies never'd won;
Pharo's lean kine hung on for seven long year;                  290
But when 'twas done, we didn't count it dear;
Why, law an' order, honor, civil right,
Ef they _ain't_ wuth it, wut _is_ wuth a fight?
I'm older'n you: the plough, the axe, the mill,
All kin's o' labor an' all kin's o' skill,
Would be a rabbit in a wile-cat's claw,
Ef 'twarn't for thet slow critter, 'stablished law;
Onsettle _thet_, an' all the world goes whiz,
A screw's gut loose in eyerythin' there is:
Good buttresses once settled, don't you fret                    300
An' stir 'em; take a bridge's word for thet!
Young folks are smart, but all ain't good thet's new;
I guess the gran'thers they knowed sunthin', tu.


THE MONIMENT

Amen to thet! build sure in the beginnin':
An' then don't never tech the underpinnin':
Th' older a guv'ment is, the better 't suits;
New ones hunt folks's corns out like new boots:
Change jes' for change, is like them big hotels
Where they shift plates, an' let ye live on smells.


THE BRIDGE

Wal, don't give up afore the ship goes down:                    310
It's a stiff gale, but Providence wun't drown;
An' God wun't leave us yit to sink or swim,
Ef we don't fail to du wut's right by Him,
This land o' ourn, I tell ye, 's gut to be
A better country than man ever see.
I feel my sperit swellin' with a cry
Thet seems to say, 'Break forth an' prophesy!'
O strange New World, thet yit wast never young,
Whose youth from thee by gripin' need was wrung,
Brown foundlin' o' the woods, whose baby-bed                    320
Was prowled roun' by the Injun's cracklin' tread,
An' who grew'st strong thru shifts an' wants an' pains,
Nussed by stern men with empires in their brains,
Who saw in vision their young Ishmel strain
With each hard hand a vassal ocean's mane,
Thou, skilled by Freedom an' by gret events
To pitch new States ez Old-World men pitch tents,
Thou, taught by Fate to know Jehovah's plan
Thet man's devices can't unmake a man,
An' whose free latch-string never was drawed in                 330
Against the poorest child of Adam's kin,--
The grave's not dug where traitor hands shall lay
In fearful haste thy murdered corse away!
I see--

  Jest here some dogs begun to bark,
So thet I lost old Concord's last remark:
I listened long, but all I seemed to hear
Was dead leaves gossipin' on some birch-trees near;
But ez they hedn't no gret things to say,
An' sed 'em often, I come right away,
An', walkin' home'ards, jest to pass the time,                340
I put some thoughts thet bothered me in rhyme;
I hain't hed time to fairly try 'em on,
But here they be--it's


JONATHAN TO JOHN

It don't seem hardly right, John,
  When both my hands was full,
To stump me to a fight, John,--
  Your cousin, tu, John Bull!
    Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess
    We know it now,' sez he,
'The lion's paw is all the law,
    Accordin' to J.B.,
    Thet's fit for you an' me!'                     9

You wonder why we're hot, John?
  Your mark wuz on the guns,
The neutral guns, thet shot, John,
  Our brothers an' our sons:
    Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess
    There's human blood,' sez he,
'By fits an' starts, in Yankee hearts,
    Though't may surprise J.B.
    More 'n it would you an' me.'

Ef _I_ turned mad dogs loose, John,
  On _your_ front-parlor stairs,                20
Would it jest meet your views, John,
  To wait an' sue their heirs?
    Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess,
    I on'y guess,' sez he,
 'Thet ef Vattel on _his_ toes fell,
    'Twould kind o' rile J.B.,
    Ez wal ez you an' me!'

Who made the law thet hurts, John,
  _Heads I win,--ditto tails?_
'J.B.' was on his shirts, John,                    30
  Onless my memory fails.
    Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess
    (I'm good at thet),' sez he,
'Thet sauce for goose ain't _jest_ the juice
    For ganders with J.B.,
    No more 'n with you or me!'

When your rights was our wrongs, John,
  You didn't stop for fuss,--
Britanny's trident prongs, John,
  Was good 'nough law for us.                       40
    Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess,
    Though physic's good,' sez he,
'It doesn't foller thet he can swaller
    Prescriptions signed "J.B.,"
    Put up by you an' me!'

We own the ocean, tu, John:
  You mus'n' take it hard,
Ef we can't think with you, John,
  It's jest your own back-yard.                      49
    Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess,
    Ef _thet's_ his claim,' sez he,
'The fencin' stuff'll cost enough
    To bust up friend J.B.,
    Ez wal ez you an' me!'

Why talk so dreffle big, John,
  Of honor when it meant
You didn't care a fig, John,
  But jest for _ten per cent?_
    Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess
    He's like the rest,' sez he:                      60
'When all is done, it's number one
    Thet's nearest to J.B.,
    Ez wal ez t' you an' me!'

We give the critters back, John,
  Cos Abram thought 'twas right;
It warn't your bullyin' clack, John,
  Provokin' us to fight.
    Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess
    We've a hard row,' sez he,
'To hoe jest now; but thet, somehow,                  70
    May happen to J.B.,
    Ez wal ez you an' me!'

We ain't so weak an' poor, John,
  With twenty million people.
An' close to every door, John,
  A school-house an' a steeple.
    Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess,
    It is a fact,' sez he,
'The surest plan to make a Man
    Is, think him so, J.B.,                           80
    Ez much ez you or me!'

Our folks believe in Law, John;
  An' it's for her sake, now,
They've left the axe an' saw, John,
  The anvil an' the plough.
    Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess,
    Ef 'twarn't for law,' sez he,
'There'd be one shindy from here to Indy;
    An' thet don't suit J.B.
    (When't ain't 'twixt you an' me!)                  90

We know we've got a cause, John,
  Thet's honest, just, an' true;
We thought 'twould win applause, John,
  Ef nowheres else, from you.
    Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess
    His love of right,' sez he,
'Hangs by a rotten fibre o' cotton:
    There's natur' in J.B.,
    Ez wal 'z in you an' me!'

The South says, '_Poor folks down!_' John,       100
  An' '_All men up!_' say we,--
White, yaller, black, an' brown, John:
  Now which is your idee?
    Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess,
    John preaches wal,' sez he;
'But, sermon thru, an' come to _du_,
    Why, there's the old J.B.
    A-crowdin' you an' me!'

Shall it be love, or hate, John?
  It's you thet's to decide;                           110
Ain't _your_ bonds held by Fate, John,
  Like all the world's beside?
    Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess
    Wise men forgive,' sez he,
'But not forgit; an' some time yit
    Thet truth may strike J.B.,
    Ez wal ez you an' me!'

God means to make this land, John,
  Clear thru, from sea to sea,
Believe an' understand, John,                          120
  The _wuth_ o' bein' free.
    Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess,
    God's price is high,' sez he;
'But nothin' else than wut He sells
    Wears long, an' thet J.B.
    May larn, like you an' me!'



No. III

BIRDOFREDUM SAWIN, ESQ., TO MR. HOSEA BIGLOW

_With the following Letter from the_ REVEREND HOMER WILBUR, A.M.

TO THE EDITORS OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY

JAALAM, 7th Feb., 1862.

RESPECTED FRIENDS,--If I know myself,--and surely a man can hardly be
supposed to have overpassed the limit of fourscore years without
attaining to some proficiency in that most useful branch of learning (_e
coelo descendit_, says the pagan poet),--I have no great smack of that
weakness which would press upon the publick attention any matter
pertaining to my private affairs. But since the following letter of Mr.
Sawin contains not only a direct allusion to myself, but that in
connection with a topick of interest to all those engaged in the publick
ministrations of the sanctuary, I may be pardoned for touching briefly
thereupon. Mr. Sawin was never a stated attendant upon my
preaching,--never, as I believe, even an occasional one, since the
erection of the new house (where we now worship) in 1845. He did,
indeed, for a time, supply a not unacceptable bass in the choir; but,
whether on some umbrage (_omnibus hoc vitium est cantoribus_) taken
against the bass-viol, then, and till his decease in 1850 (_æt._ 77,)
under the charge of Mr. Asaph Perley, or, as was reported by others, on
account of an imminent subscription for a new bell, he thenceforth
absented himself from all outward and visible communion. Yet he seems to
have preserved (_altâ mente repostum_), as it were, in the pickle of a
mind soured by prejudice, a lasting _scunner_, as he would call it,
against our staid and decent form of worship; for I would rather in that
wise interpret his fling, than suppose that any chance tares sown by my
pulpit discourses should survive so long, while good seed too often
fails to root itself. I humbly trust that I have no personal feeling in
the matter; though I know that, if we sound any man deep enough, our
lead shall bring up the mud of human nature at last. The Bretons believe
in an evil spirit which they call _ar c'houskezik_, whose office it is
to make the congregation drowsy; and though I have never had reason to
think that he was specially busy among my flock, yet have I seen enough
to make me sometimes regret the hinged seats of the ancient
meeting-house, whose lively clatter, not unwillingly intensified by boys
beyond eyeshot of the tithing-man, served at intervals as a wholesome
_réveil_. It is true, I have numbered among my parishioners some who are
proof against the prophylactick fennel, nay, whose gift of somnolence
rivalled that of the Cretan Rip Van Winkle, Epimenides, and who,
nevertheless, complained not so much of the substance as of the length
of my (by them unheard) discourses. Some ingenious persons of a
philosophick turn have assured us that our pulpits were set too high,
and that the soporifick tendency increased with the ratio of the angle
in which the hearer's eye was constrained to seek the preacher. This
were a curious topick for investigation. There can be no doubt that some
sermons are pitched too high, and I remember many struggles with the
drowsy fiend in my youth. Happy Saint Anthony of Padua, whose finny
acolytes, however they might profit, could never murmur! _Quare
fremuerunt gentes?_ Who is he that can twice a week be inspired, or has
eloquence (_ut ita dicam_) always on tap? A good man, and, next to
David, a sacred poet (himself, haply, not inexpert of evil in this
particular), has said,--

'The worst speak something good: if all want sense,
God takes a text and preacheth patience.'

There are one or two other points in Mr. Sawin's letter which I would
also briefly animadvert upon. And first, concerning the claim he sets up
to a certain superiority of blood and lineage in the people of our
Southern States, now unhappily in rebellion against lawful authority and
their own better interests. There is a sort of opinions, anachronisms at
once and anachorisms, foreign both to the age and the country, that
maintain a feeble and buzzing existence, scarce to be called life, like
winter flies, which in mild weather crawl out from obscure nooks and
crannies to expatiate in the sun, and sometimes acquire vigor enough to
disturb with their enforced familiarity the studious hours of the
scholar. One of the most stupid and pertinacious of these is the theory
that the Southern States were settled by a class of emigrants from the
Old World socially superior to those who founded the institutions of New
England. The Virginians especially lay claim to this generosity of
lineage, which were of no possible account, were it not for the fact
that such superstitions are sometimes not without their effect on the
course of human affairs. The early adventurers to Massachusetts at least
paid their passages; no felons were ever shipped thither; and though it
be true that many deboshed younger brothers of what are called good
families may have sought refuge in Virginia, it is equally certain that
a great part of the early deportations thither were the sweepings of the
London streets and the leavings of the London stews. It was this my Lord
Bacon had in mind when he wrote: 'It is a shameful and unblessed thing
to take the scum of people and wicked condemned men to be the people
with whom you plant.' That certain names are found there is nothing to
the purpose, for, even had an _alias_ been beyond the invention of the
knaves of that generation, it is known that servants were often called
by their masters' names, as slaves are now. On what the heralds call the
spindle side, some, at least, of the oldest Virginian families are
descended from matrons who were exported and sold for so many hogsheads
of tobacco the head. So notorious was this, that it became one of the
jokes of contemporary playwrights, not only that men bankrupt in purse
and character were 'food for the Plantations' (and this before the
settlement of New England), but also that any drab would suffice to wive
such pitiful adventurers. 'Never choose a wife as if you were going to
Virginia,' says Middleton in one of his comedies. The mule is apt to
forget all but the equine side of his pedigree. How early the
counterfeit nobility of the Old Dominion became a topick of ridicule in
the Mother Country may be learned from a play of Mrs. Behn's, founded on
the Rebellion of Bacon: for even these kennels of literature may yield a
fact or two to pay the raking. Mrs. Flirt, the keeper of a Virginia
ordinary, calls herself the daughter of a baronet, 'undone in the late
rebellion,'--her father having in truth been a tailor,--and three of the
Council, assuming to themselves an equal splendor of origin, are shown
to have been, one 'a broken exciseman who came over a poor servant,'
another a tinker transported for theft, and the third 'a common
pickpocket often flogged at the cart's tail.' The ancestry of South
Carolina will as little pass muster at the Herald's Visitation, though I
hold them to have been more reputable, inasmuch as many of them were
honest tradesmen and artisans, in some measure exiles for conscience'
sake, who would have smiled at the high-flying nonsense of their
descendants. Some of the more respectable were Jews. The absurdity of
supposing a population of eight millions all sprung from gentle loins in
the course of a century and a half is too manifest for confutation. But
of what use to discuss the matter? An expert genealogist will provide
any solvent man with a _genus et pro avos_ to order. My Lord Burleigh
used to say, with Aristotle and the Emperor Frederick II. to back him,
that 'nobility was ancient riches,' whence also the Spanish were wont to
call their nobles _ricos hombres_, and the aristocracy of America are
the descendants of those who first became wealthy, by whatever means.
Petroleum will in this wise be the source of much good blood among our
posterity. The aristocracy of the South, such as it is, has the
shallowest of all foundations, for it is only skin-deep,--the most
odious of all, for, while affecting to despise trade, it traces its
origin to a successful traffick in men, women, and children, and still
draws its chief revenues thence. And though, as Doctor Chamberlayne
consolingly says in his 'Present State of England,' 'to become a
Merchant of Foreign Commerce, without serving any Apprentisage, hath
been allowed no disparagement to a Gentleman born, especially to a
younger Brother,' yet I conceive that he would hardly have made a like
exception in favour of the particular trade in question. Oddly enough
this trade reverses the ordinary standards of social respectability no
less than of morals, for the retail and domestick is as creditable as
the wholesale and foreign is degrading to him who follows it. Are our
morals, then, no better than _mores_ after all? I do not believe that
such aristocracy as exists at the South (for I hold with Marius,
_fortissimum quemque generosissimum_) will be found an element of
anything like persistent strength in war,--thinking the saying of Lord
Bacon (whom one quaintly called _inductionis dominus et Verulamii_) as
true as it is pithy, that 'the more gentlemen, ever the lower books of
subsidies.' It is odd enough as an historical precedent, that, while the
fathers of New England were laying deep in religion, education, and
freedom the basis of a polity which has substantially outlasted any then
existing, the first work of the founders of Virginia, as may be seen in
Wingfield's 'Memorial,' was conspiracy and rebellion,--odder yet, as
showing the changes which are wrought by circumstance, that the first
insurrection, in South Carolina was against the aristocratical scheme of
the Proprietary Government. I do not find that the cuticular aristocracy
of the South has added anything to the refinements of civilization
except the carrying of bowie-knives and the chewing of tobacco,--a
high-toned Southern gentleman being commonly not only _quadrumanous_ but
_quidruminant_.

I confess that the present letter of Mr. Sawin increases my doubts as to
the sincerity of the convictions which he professes, and I am inclined
to think that the triumph, of the legitimate Government, sure sooner or
later to take place, will find him and a large majority of his newly
adopted fellow-citizens (who hold with Dædalus, the primal
sitter-on-the-fence, that _medium tenere tutissimum_) original Union
men. The criticisms towards the close of his letter on certain of our
failings are worthy to be seriously perpended; for he is not, as I
think, without a spice of vulgar shrewdness. _Fas est et ab hoste
doceri_: there is no reckoning without your host. As to the good-nature
in us which he seems to gird at, while I would not consecrate a chapel,
as they have not scrupled to do in France, to _Notre Dame de la Haine_
(Our Lady of Hate), yet I cannot forget that the corruption of
good-nature is the generation of laxity of principle. Good-nature is our
national characteristick; and though it be, perhaps, nothing more than a
culpable weakness or cowardice, when it leads us to put up tamely with
manifold impositions and breaches of implied contracts (as too
frequently in our publick conveyances) it becomes a positive crime when
it leads us to look unresentfully on peculation, and to regard treason
to the best Government that ever existed as something with which a
gentleman may shake hands without soiling his fingers. I do not think
the gallows-tree the most profitable member of our _Sylva;_ but, since
it continues to be planted, I would fain see a Northern limb ingrafted
on it, that it may bear some other fruit than loyal Tennesseeans.

A relick has recently been discovered on the east bank of Bushy Brook in
North Jaalam, which I conceive to be an inscription in Runick characters
relating to the early expedition of the Northmen to this continent. I
shall make fuller investigations, and communicate the result in due
season.

  Respectfully,

    Your obedient servant,

      HOMER WILBUR, A.M.

P.S.--I inclose a year's subscription from Deacon Tinkham.


I hed it on my min' las' time, when I to write ye started,
To tech the leadin' featurs o' my gittin' me convarted;
But, ez my letters hez to go clearn roun' by way o' Cuby,
'Twun't seem no staler now than then, by th' time it gits where you be.
You know up North, though secs an' things air plenty ez you please,
Ther' warn't nut one on 'em thet come jes' square with my idees:
They all on 'em wuz too much mixed with Covenants o' Works,
An' would hev answered jest ez wal for Afrikins an' Turks,
Fer where's a Christian's privilege an' his rewards eusuin',
Ef 'taint perfessin' right and eend 'thout nary need o' doin'?      10
I dessay they suit workin'-folks thet ain't noways pertic'lar,
But nut your Southun gen'leman thet keeps his parpendic'lar;
I don't blame nary man thet casts his lot along o' _his_ folks,
But ef you cal'late to save _me_, 't must be with folks thet _is_ folks;
Cov'nants o' works go 'ginst my grain, but down here I've found out
The true fus'-fem'ly A 1 plan,--here's how it come about.
When I fus' sot up with Miss S., sez she to me, sez she,
'Without you git religion, Sir, the thing can't never be;
Nut but wut I respeck,' sez she, 'your intellectle part,
But you wun't noways du for me athout a change o' heart;           20
Nothun religion works wal North, but it's ez soft ez spruce,
Compared to ourn, for keepin' sound,' sez she, 'upon the goose;
A day's experunce 'd prove to ye, ez easy 'z pull a trigger.
It takes the Southun pint o' view to raise ten bales a nigger;
You'll fin' thet human natur', South, ain't wholesome more 'n skin-deep,
An' once 't a darkie's took with it, he wun't be wuth his keep,'
'How _shell_ I git it, Ma'am?'--sez I, 'Attend the nex' camp-meetin','
Sez she, 'an' it'll come to ye ez cheap ez onbleached sheetin'.'
Wal, so I went along an' hearn most an impressive sarmon
About besprinklin' Afriky with fourth-proof dew o' Harmon:        30
He didn't put no weaknin' in, but gin it tu us hot,
'Z ef he an' Satan 'd ben two bulls in one five-acre lot:
I don't purtend to foller him, but give ye jes' the heads;
For pulpit ellerkence, you know, 'most ollers kin' o' spreads.
Ham's seed wuz gin to us in chairge, an' shouldn't we be li'ble
In Kingdom Come, ef we kep' back their priv'lege in the Bible?
The cusses an' the promerses make one gret chain, an' ef
You snake one link out here, one there, how much on 't ud be lef'?
All things wuz gin to man for 's use, his sarvice, an' delight;      39
An' don't the Greek an' Hebrew words thet mean a Man mean White?
Ain't it belittlin' the Good Book in all its proudes' featurs
To think 'twuz wrote for black an' brown an' 'lasses-colored creaturs,
Thet couldn' read it, ef they would, nor ain't by lor allowed to,
But ough' to take wut we think suits their naturs, an' be proud to?
Warn't it more prof'table to bring your raw materil thru
Where you can work it inta grace an' inta cotton, tu,
Than sendin' missionaries out where fevers might defeat 'em,
An' ef the butcher didn' call, their p'rishioners might eat 'em?
An' then, agin, wut airthly use? Nor 'twarn't our fault, in so fur
Ez Yankee skippers would keep on atotin' on 'em over.            50
'T improved the whites by savin' 'em from ary need o' workin',
An' kep' the blacks from bein' lost thru idleness an' shirkin';
We took to 'em ez nat'ral ez a barn-owl doos to mice,
An' hed our hull time on our hands to keep us out o' vice;
It made us feel ez pop'lar ez a hen doos with one chicken,
An' fill our place in Natur's scale by givin' 'em a lickin':
For why should Cæsar git his dues more 'n Juno, Pomp, an' Cuffy?
It's justifyin' Ham to spare a nigger when he's stuffy.
Where'd their soles go tu, like to know, ef we should let 'em ketch
Freeknowledgism an' Fourierism an' Speritoolism an' sech?        60
When Satan sets himself to work to raise his very bes' muss,
He scatters roun' onscriptur'l views relatin' to Ones'mus.
You'd ough' to seen, though, how his facs an' argymunce an' figgers
Drawed tears o' real conviction from a lot o' pen'tent niggers!
It warn't like Wilbur's meetin', where you're shet up in a pew,
Your dickeys sorrin' off your ears, an' bilin' to be thru;
Ther' wuz a tent clost by thet hed a kag o' sunthin' in it,
Where you could go, ef you wuz dry, an' damp ye in a minute;
An' ef you did dror off a spell, ther' wuzn't no occasion
To lose the thread, because, ye see, he bellered like all Bashan.      70
It's dry work follerin' argymunce an' so, 'twix' this an' thet,
I felt conviction weighin' down somehow inside my hat;
It growed an' growed like Jonah's gourd, a kin' o' whirlin' ketched me,
Ontil I fin'lly clean gin out an' owned up thet he'd fetched me;
An' when nine tenths o' th' perrish took to tumblin' roun' an' hollerin',
I didn' fin' no gret in th' way o' turnin' tu an' follerin'.
Soon ez Miss S. see thet, sez she, '_Thet_'s wut I call wuth seein'!
_Thet_'s actin' like a reas'nable an' intellectle bein'!'
An' so we fin'lly made it up, concluded to hitch hosses,
An' here I be 'n my ellermunt among creation's bosses;           80
Arter I'd drawed sech heaps o' blanks, Fortin at last hez sent a prize,
An' chose me for a shinin' light o' missionary entaprise.

This leads me to another pint on which I've changed my plan
O' thinkin' so's't I might become a straight-out Southun man.
Miss S. (her maiden name wuz Higgs, o' the fus' fem'ly here)
On her Ma's side's all Juggernot, on Pa's all Cavileer,
An' sence I've merried into her an' stept into her shoes,
It ain't more 'n nateral thet I should modderfy my views:
I've ben a-readin' in Debow ontil I've fairly gut
So 'nlightened thet I'd full ez lives ha' ben a Dook ez nut;      90
An' when we've laid ye all out stiff, an' Jeff hez gut his crown,
An' comes to pick his nobles out, _wun't_ this child be in town!
We'll hev an Age o' Chivverlry surpassin' Mister Burke's,
Where every fem'ly is fus'-best an' nary white man works:
Our system's sech, the thing'll root ez easy ez a tater;
For while your lords in furrin parts ain't noways marked by natur',
Nor sot apart from ornery folks in featurs nor in figgers,
Ef ourn'll keep their faces washed, you'll know 'em from their niggers.
Ain't _sech_ things wuth secedin' for, an' gittin' red o' you
Thet waller in your low idees, an' will tell all is blue?       100
Fact is, we _air_ a diff'rent race, an' I, for one, don't see,
Sech havin' ollers ben the case, how w'ever _did_ agree.
It's sunthin' thet you lab'rin'-folks up North hed ough' to think on,
Thet Higgses can't bemean themselves to rulin' by a Lincoln,--
Thet men, (an' guv'nors, tu,) thet hez sech Normal names ez Pickens,
Accustomed to no kin' o' work, 'thout 'tis to givin' lickins,
Can't measure votes with folks thet get their living from their farms,
An' prob'ly think thet Law's ez good ez hevin' coats o' arms.
Sence I've ben here, I've hired a chap to look about for me
To git me a transplantable an' thrifty fem'ly-tree,              110
An' he tells _me_ the Sawins is ez much o' Normal blood
Ez Pickens an' the rest on 'em, an' older 'n Noah's flood.
Your Normal schools wun't turn ye into Normals, for it's clear,
Ef eddykatin' done the thing, they'd be some skurcer here.
Pickenses, Boggses, Pettuses, Magoffins, Letchers, Polks,--
Where can you scare up names like them among your mudsill folks?
Ther's nothin' to compare with 'em, you'd fin', ef you should glance,
Among the tip-top femerlies in Englan', nor in France:
I've hearn frum 'sponsible men whose word wuz full ez good's their note,
Men thet can run their face for drinks, an' keep a Sunday coat,      120
That they wuz all on 'em come down, an' come down pooty fur,
From folks thet, 'thout their crowns wuz on, ou' doors wouldn' never stir,
Nor thet ther' warn't a Southun man but wut wuz _primy fashy_
O' the bes' blood in Europe, yis, an' Afriky an' Ashy:
Sech bein' the case, is 't likely we should bend like cotton wickin',
Or set down under anythin' so low-lived ez a lickin'?
More 'n this,--hain't we the literatoor an science, tu, by gorry?
Hain't we them intellectle twins, them giants, Simms an' Maury,
Each with full twice the ushle brains, like nothin' thet I know,
'thout 'twuz a double-headed calf I see once to a show?          130

For all thet, I warn't jest at fust in favor o' secedin';
I wuz for layin' low a spell to find out where 'twuz leadin',
For hevin' South-Carliny try her hand at sepritnationin',
She takin' resks an' findin' funds, an' we co-operationin',--
I mean a kin' o' hangin' roun' an' settin' on the fence,
Till Prov'dunce pinted how to jump an' save the most expense;
I recollected thet 'ere mine o' lead to Shiraz Centre
Thet bust up Jabez Pettibone, an' didn't want to ventur'
'Fore I wuz sartin wut come out ud pay for wut went in,
For swappin' silver off for lead ain't the sure way to win;      140
(An', fact, it _doos_ look now ez though--but folks must live an' larn--
We should git lead, an' more 'n we want, out o' the Old Consarn;)
But when I see a man so wise an' honest ez Buchanan
A-lettin' us hev all the forts an' all the arms an' cannon,
Admittin' we wuz nat'lly right an' you wuz nat'lly wrong,
Coz you wuz lab'rin'-folks an' we wuz wut they call _bong-tong_,
An' coz there warn't no fight in ye more 'n in a mashed potater,
While two o' _us_ can't skurcely meet but wut we fight by natur',
An' th' ain't a bar-room here would pay for openin' on 't a night;
Without it giv the priverlege o' bein' shot at sight,            150
Which proves we're Natur's noblemen, with whom it don't surprise
The British aristoxy should feel boun' to sympathize,--
Seein' all this, an' seein', tu, the thing wuz strikin' roots
While Uncle Sam sot still in hopes thet some one'd bring his boots,
I thought th' ole Union's hoops wuz off, an' let myself be sucked in
To rise a peg an' jine the crowd thet went for reconstructin',--
Thet is to hev the pardnership under th' ole name continner
Jest ez it wuz, we drorrin' pay, you findin' bone an' sinner,--
On'y to put it in the bond, an' enter 't in the journals,
Thet you're the nat'ral rank an' file, an' we the nat'ral
  kurnels.      160

Now this I thought a fees'ble plan, thet 'ud work smooth ez grease,
Suitin' the Nineteenth Century an' Upper Ten idees,
An' there I meant to stick, an' so did most o' th' leaders, tu,
Coz we all thought the chance wuz good o' puttin' on it thru;
But Jeff he hit upon a way o' helpin' on us forrard
By bein' unannermous,--a trick you ain't quite up to, Norrard.
A Baldin hain't no more 'f a chance with them new apple-corers
Than folks's oppersition views aginst the Ringtail Roarers;
They'll take 'em out on him 'bout east,--one canter on a rail
Makes a man feel unannermous ez Jonah in the whale:              170
Or ef he's a slow-moulded cuss thet can't seem quite t' 'gree,
He gits the noose by tellergraph upon the nighes' tree:
Their mission-work with Afrikins hez put 'em up, thet's sartin,
To all the mos' across-lot ways o' preachin' an' convartin';
I'll bet my hat th' ain't nary priest, nor all on 'em together;
Thet cairs conviction to the min' like Reveren' Taranfeather;
Why, he sot up with me one night, an' labored to sech purpose,
Thet (ez an owl by daylight 'mongst a flock o' teazin' chirpers
Sees clearer 'n mud the wickedness o' eatin' little birds)
I see my error an' agreed to shen it arterwurds;                  180
An' I should say, (to jedge our folks by facs in my possession,)
Thet three's Unannermous where one's a 'Riginal Secession;
So it's a thing you fellers North may safely bet your chink on,
Thet we're all water-proofed agin th' usurpin' reign o' Lincoln.

Jeff's _some_. He's gut another plan thet hez pertic'lar merits,
In givin' things a cheerfle look an' stiffnin' loose-hung sperits;
For while your million papers, wut with lyin' an' discussin',
Keep folks's tempers all on eend a-fumin' an' a-fussin',
A-wondrin' this an' guessin' thet, an' dreadin' every night
The breechin' o' the Univarse'll break afore it's light,         190
Our papers don't purtend to print on'y wut Guv'ment choose,
An' thet insures us all to git the very best o' noose:
Jeff hez it of all sorts an' kines, an' sarves it out ez wanted,
So's't every man gits wut he likes an' nobody ain't scanted;
Sometimes it's vict'ries (they're 'bout all ther' is that's cheap
  down here,)
Sometimes it's France an' England on the jump to interfere.
Fact is, the less the people know o' wut ther' is a-doin',
The hendier 'tis for Guv'ment, sence it henders trouble brewin';
An' noose is like a shinplaster,--it's good, ef you believe it,
Or, wut's all same, the other man thet's goin' to receive it:     200
Ef you've a son in th' army, wy, it's comfortin' to hear
He'll hev no gretter resk to run than seein' th' in'my's rear,
Coz, ef an F.F. looks at 'em, they ollers break an' run,
Or wilt right down ez debtors will thet stumble on a dun,
(An' this, ef an'thin', proves the wuth o' proper fem'ly pride,
Fer sech mean shucks ez creditors are all on Lincoln's side);
Ef I hev scrip thet wun't go off no more 'n a Belgin rifle,
An' read thet it's at par on 'Change, it makes me feel deli'fle;
It's cheerin', tu, where every man mus' fortify his bed,
To hear thet Freedom's the one thing our darkies mos'ly dread,      210
An' thet experunce, time 'n' agin, to Dixie's Land hez shown
Ther' 's nothin' like a powder-cask fer a stiddy corner-stone;
Ain't it ez good ez nuts, when salt is sellin' by the ounce
For its own weight in Treash'ry-bons, (ef bought in small amounts,)
When even whiskey's gittin' skurce an' sugar can't be found,
To know thet all the ellerments o' luxury abound?
An' don't it glorify sal'-pork, to come to understand
It's wut the Richmon' editors call fatness o' the land!
Nex' thing to knowin' you're well off is _nut_ to know when y' ain't;
An' ef Jeff says all's goin' wal, who'll ventur' t' say it
  ain't?       220

This cairn the Constitooshun roun' ez Jeff doos in his hat
Is hendier a dreffle sight, an' comes more kin' o' pat.
I tell ye wut, my jedgment is you're pooty sure to fail,
Ez long 'z the head keeps turnin' back for counsel to the tail:
Th' advantiges of our consarn for bein' prompt air gret,
While, 'long o' Congress, you can't strike, 'f you git an iron het;
They bother roun' with argooin', an' var'ous sorts o' foolin',
To make sure ef it's leg'lly het, an' all the while it's coolin',
So's't when you come to strike, it ain't no gret to wish ye j'y on,
An' hurts the hammer 'z much or more ez wut it doos the iron,      239
Jeff don't allow no jawin'-sprees for three mouths at a stretch,
Knowin' the ears long speeches suits air mostly made to metch;
He jes' ropes in your tonguey chaps an' reg'lar ten-inch bores
An' lets 'em play at Congress, ef they'll du it with closed doors;
So they ain't no more bothersome than ef we'd took an' sunk 'em,
An' yit enj'y th' exclusive right to one another's Buncombe
'thout doin' nobody no hurt, an' 'thout its costin' nothin',
Their pay bein' jes' Confedrit funds, they findin' keep an' clothin';
They taste the sweets o' public life, an' plan their little jobs,
An' suck the Treash'ry (no gret harm, for it's ez dry ez cobs,)      240
An' go thru all the motions jest ez safe ez in a prison,
An' hev their business to themselves, while Buregard hez hisn:
Ez long 'z he gives the Hessians fits, committees can't make bother
'bout whether 't's done the legle way or whether 't's done tother.
An' _I_ tell _you_ you've gut to larn thet War ain't one long teeter
Betwixt _I wan' to_ an' _'Twun't du_, debatin' like a skeetur
Afore he lights,--all is, to give the other side a millin',
An' arter thet's done, th' ain't no resk but wut the lor'll be willin';
No metter wut the guv'ment is, ez nigh ez I can hit it,
A lickin' 's constitooshunal, pervidin' _We_ don't git it.     250
Jeff don't stan' dilly-dallyin', afore he takes a fort,
(With no one in,) to git the leave o' the nex' Soopreme Court,
Nor don't want forty-'leven weeks o' jawin' an' expoundin',
To prove a nigger hez a right to save him, ef he's drowndin';
Whereas ole Abe 'ud sink afore he'd let a darkie boost him,
Ef Taney shouldn't come along an' hedn't interdooced him.
It ain't your twenty millions thet'll ever block Jeff's game,
But one Man thet wun't let 'em jog jest ez he's takin' aim:
Your numbers they may strengthen ye or weaken ye, ez 't heppens
They're willin' to be helpin' hands or wuss-'n-nothin' cap'ns.     260

I've chose my side, an' 'tain't no odds ef I wuz drawed with magnets,
Or ef I thought it prudenter to jine the nighes' bagnets;
I've made my ch'ice, an' ciphered out, from all I see an' heard,
Th' ole Constitooshun never'd git her decks for action cleared,
Long 'z you elect for Congressmen poor shotes thet want to go
Coz they can't seem to git their grub no otherways than so,
An' let your bes' men stay to home coz they wun't show ez talkers,
Nor can't be hired to fool ye an' sof'-soap ye at a caucus,--
Long 'z ye set by Rotashun more 'n ye do by folks's merits,      269
Ez though experunce thriv by change o' sile, like corn an' kerrits,--
Long 'z you allow a critter's 'claims' coz, spite o' shoves an' tippins,
He's kep' his private pan jest where 'twould ketch mos' public
  drippin's,--
Long 'z A.'ll turn tu an' grin' B.'s exe, ef B.'ll help him grin' hisn,
(An' thet's the main idee by which your leadin' men hev risen,)--
Long 'z you let _ary_ exe be groun', 'less 'tis to cut the weasan'
O' sneaks thet dunno till they're told wut is an' wut ain't Treason,--
Long 'z ye give out commissions to a lot o' peddlin' drones
Thet trade in whiskey with their men an' skin 'em to their bones,--
Long 'z ye sift out 'safe' canderdates thet no one ain't afeared on
Coz they're so thund'rin' eminent for bein' never heard on,      280
An' hain't no record, ez it's called, for folks to pick a hole in,
Ez ef it hurt a man to hev a body with a soul in,
An' it wuz ostentashun to be showin' on 't about,
When half his feller-citizens contrive to du without,--
Long 'z you suppose your votes can turn biled kebbage into brain,
An' ary man thet's pop'lar's fit to drive a lightnin'-train,--
Long 'z you believe democracy means _I'm ez good ez you be,_
An' that a feller from the ranks can't be a knave or booby,--
Long 'z Congress seems purvided, like yer street-cars an' yer 'busses,
With ollers room for jes' one more o' your spiled-in-bakin'
  cusses,      290
Dough 'thout the emptins of a soul, an' yit with means about 'em
(Like essence-peddlers[23]) thet'll make folks long to be without 'em,
Jes heavy 'nough to turn a scale thet's doubtfle the wrong way,
An' make their nat'ral arsenal o' bein' nasty pay.--
Long 'z them things last, (an' _I_ don't see no gret signs of improvin',)
I sha'n't up stakes, not hardly yit, nor 'twouldn't pay for movin':
For, 'fore you lick us, it'll be the long'st day ever _you_ see.
Yourn, (ez I 'xpec' to be nex' spring,)
                                       B., MARKISS O' BIG BOOSY.



No. IV

A MESSAGE OF JEFF DAVIS IN SECRET SESSION

_Conjecturally reported by_ H. BIGLOW

TO THE EDITORS OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY

JAALAM, 10th March, 1862.

GENTLEMEN,--My leisure has been so entirely occupied with the hitherto
fruitless endeavour to decypher the Runick inscription whose fortunate
discovery I mentioned in my last communication, that I have not found
time to discuss, as I had intended, the great problem of what we are to
do with slavery,--a topick on which the publick mind in this place is at
present more than ever agitated. What my wishes and hopes are I need not
say, but for safe conclusions I do not conceive that we are yet in
possession of facts enough on which to bottom them with certainty.
Acknowledging the hand of Providence, as I do, in all events, I am
sometimes inclined to think that they are wiser than we, and am willing
to wait till we have made this continent once more a place where freemen
can live in security and honour, before assuming any further
responsibility. This is the view taken by my neighbour Habakkuk
Sloansure, Esq., the president of our bank, whose opinion in the
practical affairs of life has great weight with me, as I have generally
found it to be justified by the event, and whose counsel, had I followed
it, would have saved me from an unfortunate investment of a considerable
part of the painful economies of half a century in the Northwest-Passage
Tunnel. After a somewhat animated discussion with this gentleman a few
days since, I expanded, on the _audi alteram partem_ principle,
something which he happened to say by way of illustration, into the
following fable.


FESTINA LENTE

Once on a time there was a pool
Fringed all about with flag-leaves cool
And spotted with cow-lilies garish,
Of frogs and pouts the ancient parish.
Alders the creaking redwings sink on,
Tussocks that house blithe Bob o' Lincoln
Hedged round the unassailed seclusion,
Where muskrats piled their cells Carthusian;
And many a moss-embroidered log,
The watering-place of summer frog,
Slept and decayed with patient skill,
As watering-places sometimes will.

Now in this Abbey of Theleme,
Which realized the fairest dream
That ever dozing bull-frog had,
Sunned on a half-sunk lily-pad,
There rose a party with a mission
To mend the polliwogs' condition,
Who notified the selectmen
To call a meeting there and then.
'Some kind of steps,' they said, 'are needed;
They don't come on so fast as we did:
Let's dock their tails; if that don't make 'em
Frogs by brevet, the Old One take 'em!
That boy, that came the other day
To dig some flag-root down this way,
His jack-knife left, and 'tis a sign
That Heaven approves of our design:
'Twere wicked not to urge the step on,
When Providence has sent the weapon.'

Old croakers, deacons of the mire,
That led the deep batrachian choir,
_Uk! Uk! Caronk!_ with bass that might
Have left Lablache's out of sight,
Shook nobby heads, and said, 'No go!
You'd better let 'em try to grow:
Old Doctor Time is slow, but still
He does know how to make a pill.'

But vain was all their hoarsest bass,
Their old experience out of place,
And spite of croaking and entreating,
The vote was carried in marsh-meeting.

'Lord knows,' protest the polliwogs,
'We're anxious to be grown-up frogs;
But don't push in to do the work
Of Nature till she prove a shirk;
'Tis not by jumps that she advances,
But wins her way by circumstances;
Pray, wait awhile, until you know
We're so contrived as not to grow;
Let Nature take her own direction,
And she'll absorb our imperfection;
_You_ mightn't like 'em to appear with,
But we must have the things to steer with.'

'No,' piped the party of reform,
'All great results are ta'en by storm;
Fate holds her best gifts till we show
We've strength to make her let them go;
The Providence that works in history,
And seems to some folks such a mystery,
Does not creep slowly on _incog._,
But moves by jumps, a mighty frog;
No more reject the Age's chrism,
Your queues are an anachronism;
No more the Future's promise mock,
But lay your tails upon the block,
Thankful that we the means have voted
To have you thus to frogs promoted.'

The thing was done, the tails were cropped.
And home each philotadpole hopped,
In faith rewarded to exult,
And wait the beautiful result.
Too soon it came; our pool, so long
The theme of patriot bull-frog's song,
Next day was reeking, fit to smother,
With heads and tails that missed each other,--
Here snoutless tails, there tailless snouts;
The only gainers were the pouts.


MORAL

From lower to the higher next,
Not to the top, is Nature's text;
And embryo Good, to reach full stature,
Absorbs the Evil in its nature.


I think that nothing will ever give permanent peace and security to this
continent but the extirpation of Slavery therefrom, and that the
occasion is nigh; but I would do nothing hastily or vindictively, nor
presume to jog the elbow of Providence. No desperate measures for me
till we are sure that all others are hopeless,--_flectere si nequeo_
SUPEROS, _Acheronta movebo_. To make Emancipation a reform instead of a
revolution is worth a little patience, that we may have the Border
States first, and then the non-slaveholders of the Cotton States, with
us in principle,--a consummation that seems to be nearer than many
imagine. _Fiat justitia, ruat coelum_, is not to be taken in a literal
sense by statesmen, whose problem is to get justice done with as little
jar as possible to existing order, which has at least so much of heaven
in it that it is not chaos. Our first duty toward our enslaved brother
is to educate him, whether he be white or black. The first need of the
free black is to elevate himself according to the standard of this
material generation. So soon as the Ethiopian goes in his chariot, he
will find not only Apostles, but Chief Priests and Scribes and Pharisees
willing to ride with him.

  'Nil habet infelix paupertas durius in se
  Quam quod ridiculos homines facit.'

I rejoice in the President's late Message, which at last proclaims the
Government on the side of freedom, justice, and sound policy.

As I write, comes the news of our disaster at Hampton Roads. I do not
understand the supineness which, after fair warning, leaves wood to an
unequal conflict with iron. It is not enough merely to have the right on
our side, if we stick to the old flint-lock of tradition. I have
observed in my parochial experience (_haud ignarus mali_) that the Devil
is prompt to adopt the latest inventions of destructive warfare, and may
thus take even such a three-decker as Bishop Butler at an advantage. It
is curious, that, as gunpowder made armour useless on shore, so armour
is having its revenge by baffling its old enemy at sea; and that, while
gunpowder robbed land warfare of nearly all its picturesqueness to give
even greater stateliness and sublimity to a sea-fight, armour bids fair
to degrade the latter into a squabble between two iron-shelled turtles.

Yours, with esteem and respect,

HOMER WILBUR, A.M.

P.S.--I had wellnigh forgotten to say that the object of this letter is
to enclose a communication from the gifted pen of Mr. Biglow.


I sent you a messige, my friens, t'other day,
To tell you I'd nothin' pertickler to say:
'twuz the day our new nation gut kin' o' stillborn,
So 'twuz my pleasant dooty t' acknowledge the corn,
An' I see clearly then, ef I didn't before,
Thet the _augur_ in inauguration means _bore_.
I needn't tell _you_ thet my messige wuz written
To diffuse correc' notions in France an' Gret Britten,
An' agin to impress on the poppylar mind
The comfort an' wisdom o' goin' it blind,--                  10
To say thet I didn't abate not a hooter
O' my faith in a happy an' glorious futur',
Ez rich in each soshle an' p'litickle blessin'
Ez them thet we now hed the joy o' possessin',
With a people united, an' longin' to die
For wut _we_ call their country, without askin' why,
An' all the gret things we concluded to slope for
Ez much within reach now ez ever--to hope for.
We've gut all the ellerments, this very hour,
Thet make up a fus'-class, self-governin' power:              20
We've a war, an' a debt, an' a flag; an' ef this
Ain't to be inderpendunt, why, wut on airth is?
An' nothin' now henders our takin' our station
Ez the freest, enlightenedest, civerlized nation,
Built up on our bran'-new politickle thesis
Thet a Gov'ment's fust right is to tumble to pieces,--
I say nothin' henders our takin' our place
Ez the very fus'-best o' the whole human race,
A spittin' tobacker ez proud ez you please
On Victory's bes' carpets, or loaf-in' at ease                  30
In the Tool'ries front-parlor, discussin' affairs
With our heels on the backs o' Napoleon's new chairs,
An' princes a-mixin' our cocktails an' slings,--
Excep', wal, excep' jest a very few things,
Sech ez navies an' armies an' wherewith to pay,
An' gettin' our sogers to run t'other way,
An' not be too over-pertickler in tryin'
To hunt up the very las' ditches to die in.

Ther' are critters so base thet they want it explained
Jes' wut is the totle amount thet we've gained,                 40
Ez ef we could maysure stupenjious events
By the low Yankee stan'ard o' dollars an' cents:
They seem to forgit, thet, sence last year revolved,
We've succeeded in gittin' seceshed an' dissolved,
An' thet no one can't hope to git thru dissolootion
'thout some kin' o' strain on the best Constitootion.
Who asks for a prospec' more flettrin' an' bright,
When from here clean to Texas it's all one free fight?
Hain't we rescued from Seward the gret leadin' featurs
Thet makes it wuth while to be reasonin' creators?              50
Hain't we saved Habus Coppers, improved it in fact,
By suspendin' the Unionists 'stid o' the Act?
Ain't the laws free to all? Where on airth else d' ye see
Every freeman improvin' his own rope an' tree?
Ain't our piety sech (in our speeches an' messiges)
Ez t' astonish ourselves in the bes'-composed pessiges,
An' to make folks thet knowed us in th' ole state o' things
Think convarsion ez easy ez drinkin' gin-slings?
It's ne'ssary to take a good confident tone
With the public; but here, jest amongst us, I own               60
Things look blacker 'n thunder. Ther' 's no use denyin'
We're clean out o' money, an' 'most out o' lyin';
Two things a young nation can't mennage without,
Ef she wants to look wal at her fust comin' out;
For the fust supplies physickle strength, while the second
Gives a morril advantage thet's hard to be reckoned:
For this latter I'm willin' to du wut I can;
For the former you'll hev to consult on a plan,--
Though our _fust_ want (an' this pint I want your best views on)
Is plausible paper to print I.O.U.s on.                        70
Some gennlemen think it would cure all our cankers
In the way o' finance, ef we jes' hanged the bankers;
An' I own the proposle 'ud square with my views,
Ef their lives wuzn't all thet we'd left 'em to lose.
Some say thet more confidence might be inspired,
Ef we voted our cities an' towns to be fired,--
A plan thet 'ud suttenly tax our endurance,
Coz 'twould be our own bills we should git for th' insurance;
But cinders, no matter how sacred we think 'em,
Mightn't strike furrin minds ez good sources of income,        80
Nor the people, perhaps, wouldn't like the eclaw
O' bein' all turned into paytriots by law.
Some want we should buy all the cotton an' burn it,
On a pledge, when we've gut thru the war, to return it,--
Then to take the proceeds an' hold _them_ ez security
For an issue o' bonds to be met at maturity
With an issue o' notes to be paid in hard cash
On the fus' Monday follerin' the 'tarnal Allsmash:
This hez a safe air, an', once hold o' the gold,
'ud leave our vile plunderers out in the cold,                  90
An' _might_ temp' John Bull, ef it warn't for the dip he
Once gut from the banks o' my own Massissippi.
Some think we could make, by arrangin' the figgers,
A hendy home-currency out of our niggers;
But it wun't du to lean much on ary sech staff,
For they're gittin' tu current a'ready, by half.

One gennleman says, ef we lef' our loan out
Where Floyd could git hold on 't _he_'d take it, no doubt;
But 'tain't jes' the takin', though 't hez a good look,
We mus' git sunthin' out on it arter it's took,                100
An' we need now more'n ever, with sorrer I own,
Thet some one another should let us a loan,
Sence a soger wun't fight, on'y jes' while he draws his
Pay down on the nail, for the best of all causes,
'thout askin' to know wut the quarrel's about,--
An' once come to thet, why, our game is played out.
It's ez true ez though I shouldn't never hev said it,
Thet a hitch hez took place in our system o' credit;
I swear it's all right in my speeches an' messiges,
But ther's idees afloat, ez ther' is about sessiges:            110
Folks wun't take a bond ez a basis to trade on,
Without nosin' round to find out wut it's made on,
An' the thought more an' more thru the public min' crosses
Thet our Treshry hez gut 'mos' too many dead hosses.
Wut's called credit, you see, is some like a balloon,
Thet looks while it's up 'most ez harnsome 'z a moon,
But once git a leak in 't, an' wut looked so grand
Caves righ' down in a jiffy ez flat ez your hand.
Now the world is a dreffle mean place, for our sins,
Where ther' ollus is critters about with long pins               120
A-prickin' the bubbles we've blowed with sech care,
An' provin' ther' 's nothin' inside but bad air:
They're all Stuart Millses, poor-white trash, an' sneaks,
Without no more chivverlry 'n Choctaws or Creeks,
Who think a real gennleman's promise to pay
Is meant to be took in trade's ornery way:
Them fellers an' I couldn' never agree;
They're the nateral foes o' the Southun Idee;
I'd gladly take all of our other resks on me
To be red o' this low-lived politikle 'con'my!                  130

Now a dastardly notion is gittin' about
Thet our bladder is bust an' the gas oozin' out,
An' onless we can mennage in some way to stop it,
Why, the thing's a gone coon, an' we might ez wal drop it.
Brag works wal at fust, but it ain't jes' the thing
For a stiddy inves'ment the shiners to bring,
An' votin' we're prosp'rous a hundred times over
Wun't change bein' starved into livin' in clover.
Manassas done sunthin' tow'rds drawin' the wool
O'er the green, antislavery eyes o' John Bull:                  140
Oh, _warn't_ it a godsend, jes' when sech tight fixes
Wuz crowdin' us mourners, to throw double-sixes!
I wuz tempted to think, an' it wuzn't no wonder,
Ther' wuz really a Providence,--over or under,--
When, all packed for Nashville, I fust ascertained
From the papers up North wut a victory we'd gained.
'twuz the time for diffusin' correc' views abroad
Of our union an' strength an' relyin' on God;
An', fact, when I'd gut thru my fust big surprise,
I much ez half b'lieved in my own tallest lies,                 150
An' conveyed the idee thet the whole Southun popperlace
Wuz Spartans all on the keen jump for Thermopperlies,
Thet set on the Lincolnites' bombs till they bust,
An' fight for the priv'lege o' dyin' the fust;
But Roanoke, Bufort, Millspring, an' the rest
Of our recent starn-foremost successes out West,
Hain't left us a foot for our swellin' to stand on,--
We've showed _too_ much o' wut Buregard calls _abandon_,
For all our Thermopperlies (an' it's a marcy
We hain't hed no more) hev ben clean vicy-varsy,                160
An' wut Spartans wuz lef' when the battle wuz done
Wuz them thet wuz too unambitious to run.

Oh, ef we hed on'y jes' gut Reecognition,
Things now would ha' ben in a different position!
You'd ha' hed all you wanted: the paper blockade
Smashed up into toothpicks; unlimited trade
In the one thing thet's needfle, till niggers, I swow,
Hed ben thicker'n provisional shin-plasters now;
Quinine by the ton 'ginst the shakes when they seize ye;
Nice paper to coin into C.S.A. specie;                          170
The voice of the driver'd be heerd in our land,
An' the univarse scringe, ef we lifted our hand:
Wouldn't _thet_ be some like a fulfillin' the prophecies,
With all the fus' fem'lies in all the fust offices?
'twuz a beautiful dream, an' all sorrer is idle,--
But _ef_ Lincoln _would_ ha' hanged Mason an' Slidell!
For wouldn't the Yankees hev found they'd ketched Tartars,
Ef they'd raised two sech critters as them into martyrs?
Mason _wuz_ F.F.V., though a cheap card to win on,
But t'other was jes' New York trash to begin on;                180
They ain't o' no good in European pellices,
But think wut a help they'd ha' ben on their gallowses!
They'd ha' felt they wuz truly fulfillin' their mission,
An' oh, how dog-cheap we'd ha' gut Reecognition!

But somehow another, wutever we've tried,
Though the the'ry's fust-rate, the facs _wun't_ coincide:
Facs are contrary 'z mules, an' ez hard in the mouth,
An' they allus hev showed a mean spite to the South.
Sech bein' the case, we hed best look about
For some kin' o' way to slip _our_ necks out:              190
Le's vote our las' dollar, ef one can be found,
(An', at any rate, votin' it hez a good sound,)--
Le''s swear thet to arms all our people is flyin',
(The critters can't read, an' wun't know how we're lyin',)--
Thet Toombs is advancin' to sack Cincinnater,
With a rovin' commission to pillage an' slahter,--
Thet we've throwed to the winds all regard for wut's lawfle,
An' gone in for sunthin' promiscu'sly awfle.
Ye see, hitherto, it's our own knaves an' fools
Thet we've used, (those for whetstones, an' t'others ez tools,)     200
An' now our las' chance is in puttin' to test
The same kin' o' cattle up North an' out West,--
Your Belmonts, Vallandighams, Woodses, an' sech,
Poor shotes thet ye couldn't persuade us to tech,
Not in ornery times, though we're willin' to feed 'em
With a nod now an' then, when we happen to need 'em;
Why, for my part, I'd ruther shake hands with a nigger
Than with cusses that load an' don't darst dror a trigger;
They're the wust wooden nutmegs the Yankees perdooce,
Shaky everywheres else, an' jes' sound on the goose;            210
They ain't wuth a cuss, an' I set nothin' by 'em,
But we're in sech a fix thet I s'pose we mus' try 'em.
I--But, Gennlemen, here's a despatch jes' come in
Which shows thet the tide's begun turnin' agin',--
Gret Cornfedrit success! C'lumbus eevacooated!
I mus' run down an' hev the thing properly stated,
An' show wut a triumph it is, an' how lucky
To fin'lly git red o' thet cussed Kentucky,--
An' how, sence Fort Donelson, winnin' the day
Consists in triumphantly gittin' away.                          220



No. V

SPEECH OF HONOURABLE PRESERVED DOE IN SECRET CAUCUS

TO THE EDITORS OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY

JAALAM, 12th April, 1862.

GENTLEMEN,--As I cannot but hope that the ultimate, if not speedy,
success of the national arms is now sufficiently ascertained, sure as I
am of the righteousness of our cause and its consequent claim on the
blessing of God, (for I would not show a faith inferior to that of the
Pagan historian with his _Facile evenit quod Dis cordi est_,) it seems
to me a suitable occasion to withdraw our minds a moment from the
confusing din of battle to objects of peaceful and permanent interest.
Let us not neglect the monuments of preterite history because what shall
be history is so diligently making under our eyes. _Cras ingens
iterabimus æquor;_ to-morrow will be time enough for that stormy sea;
to-day let me engage the attention of your readers with the Runick
inscription to whose fortunate discovery I have heretofore alluded. Well
may we say with the poet, _Multa renascuntur quæ jam cecidere_. And I
would premise, that, although I can no longer resist the evidence of my
own senses from the stone before me to the ante-Columbian discovery of
this continent by the Northmen, _gens inclytissima_, as they are called
in a Palermitan inscription, written fortunately in a less debatable
character than that which I am about to decipher, yet I would by no
means be understood as wishing to vilipend the merits of the great
Genoese, whose name will never be forgotten so long as the inspiring
strains of 'Hail Columbia' shall continue to be heard. Though he must be
stripped also of whatever praise may belong to the experiment of the
egg, which I find proverbially attributed by Castilian authors to a
certain Juanito or Jack, (perhaps an offshoot of our giant-killing
mythus,) his name will still remain one of the most illustrious of
modern times. But the impartial historian owes a duty likewise to
obscure merit, and my solicitude to render a tardy justice is perhaps
quickened by my having known those who, had their own field of labour
been less secluded, might have found a readier acceptance with the
reading publick, I could give an example, but I forbear: _forsitan
nostris ex ossibus oritur ultor_.

Touching Runick inscriptions, I find that they may lie classed under
three general heads; 1º. Those which are understood by the Danish Royal
Society of Northern Antiquaries, and Professor Rafn, their Secretary;
2º. Those which are comprehensible only by Mr. Rafn; and 3º. Those
which neither the Society, Mr. Rafn, nor anybody else can be said in any
definite sense to understand, and which accordingly offer peculiar
temptations to enucleating sagacity. These last are naturally deemed the
most valuable by intelligent antiquaries, and to this class the stone
now in my possession fortunately belongs. Such give a picturesque
variety to ancient events, because susceptible oftentimes of as many
interpretations as there are individual archæologists; and since facts
are only the pulp in which the Idea or event-seed is softly imbedded
till it ripen, it is of little consequence what colour or flavour we
attribute to them, provided it be agreeable. Availing myself of the
obliging assistance of Mr. Arphaxad Bowers, an ingenious photographick
artist, whose house-on-wheels has now stood for three years on our
Meeting-House Green, with the somewhat contradictory inscription,--'_our
motto is onward_,'--I have sent accurate copies of my treasure to many
learned men and societies, both native and European. I may hereafter
communicate their different and (_me judice_) equally erroneous
solutions. I solicit also, Messrs. Editors, your own acceptance of the
copy herewith enclosed. I need only premise further, that the stone
itself is a goodly block of metamorphick sandstone, and that the Runes
resemble very nearly the ornithichnites or fossil bird-tracks of Dr.
Hitchcock, but with less regularity or apparent design than is displayed
by those remarkable geological monuments. These are rather the _non bene
junctarum discordia semina rerum_. Resolved to leave no door open to
cavil, I first of all attempted the elucidation of this remarkable
example of lithick literature by the ordinary modes, but with no
adequate return for my labour. I then considered myself amply justified
in resorting to that heroick treatment the felicity of which, as applied
by the great Bentley to Milton, had long ago enlisted my admiration.
Indeed, I had already made up my mind, that, in case good fortune should
throw any such invaluable record in my way, I would proceed with it in
the following simple and satisfactory method. Alter a cursory
examination, merely sufficing for an approximative estimate of its
length, I would write down a hypothetical inscription based upon
antecedent probabilities, and then proceed to extract from the
characters engraven on the stone a meaning as nearly as possible
conformed to this _a priori_ product of my own ingenuity. The result
more than justified my hopes, inasmuch as the two inscriptions were made
without any great violence to tally in all essential particulars. I then
proceeded, not without some anxiety, to my second test, which was, to
read the Runick letters diagonally, and again with the same success.
With an excitement pardonable under the circumstances, yet tempered with
thankful humility, I now applied my last and severest trial, my
_experimentum crucis_. I turned the stone, now doubly precious in my
eyes, with scrupulous exactness upside down. The physical exertion so
far displaced my spectacles as to derange for a moment the focus of
vision. I confess that it was with some tremulousness that I readjusted
them upon my nose, and prepared my mind to bear with calmness any
disappointment that might ensue. But, _O albo dies notanda lapillo!_
what was my delight to find that the change of position had effected
none in the sense of the writing, even by so much as a single letter! I
was now, and justly, as I think, satisfied of the conscientious
exactness of my interpretation. It is as follows:

            HERE
     BJARNA GRIMOLFSSON
  FIRST DRANK CLOUD-BROTHER
  THROUGH CHILD-OF-LAND-AND-WATER:

that is, drew smoke through a reed stem. In other words, we have here a
record of the first smoking of the herb _Nicotiana Tabacum_ by an
European on this continent. The probable results of this discovery are
so vast as to baffle conjecture. If it be objected, that the smoking of
a pipe would hardly justify the setting up of a memorial stone, I
answer, that even now the Moquis Indian, ere he takes his first whiff,
bows reverently toward the four quarters of the sky in succession, and
that the loftiest monuments have been read to perpetuate fame, which is
the dream of the shadow of smoke. The _Saga_, it will be remembered,
leaves this Bjarna to a fate something like that of Sir Humphrey
Gilbert, on board a sinking ship in the 'wormy sea,' having generously
given up his place in the boat to a certain Icelander. It is doubly
pleasant, therefore, to meet with this proof that the brave old man
arrived safely in Vinland, and that his declining years were cheered by
the respectful attentions of the dusky denizens of our then uninvaded
forest. Most of all was I gratified, however, in thus linking forever
the name of my native town with one of the most momentous occurrences of
modern times. Hitherto Jalaam, though in soil, climate, and geographical
position as highly qualified to be the theatre of remarkable historical
incidents as any spot on the earth's surface, has been, if I may say it
without seeming to question the wisdom of Providence, almost maliciously
neglected, as it might appear, by occurrences of world-wide interest in
want of a situation. And in matters of this nature it must be confessed
that adequate events are as necessary as the _vates sacer_ to record
them. Jaalam stood always modestly ready, but circumstances made no
fitting response to her generous intentions. Now, however, she assumes
her place on the historick roll. I have hitherto been a zealous opponent
of the Circean herb, but I shall now reëxamine the question without
bias.

I am aware that the Rev. Jonas Tutchel, in a recent communication to the
'Bogus Four Corners Weekly Meridian,' has endeavored to show that this
is the sepulchral inscription of Thorwald Eriksson, who, as is
well-known, was slain in Vinland by the natives. But I think he has been
misled by a preconceived theory, and cannot but feel that he has thus
made an ungracious return for my allowing him to inspect the stone with
the aid of my own glasses (he having by accident left his at home) and
in my own study. The heathen ancients might have instructed this
Christian minister in the rites of hospitality; but much is to be
pardoned to the spirit of self-love. He must indeed be ingenious who can
make out the words _hèr hvilir_ from any characters in the inscription
in question, which, whatever else it may be, is certainly not mortuary.
And even should the reverend gentleman succeed in persuading some
fantastical wits of the soundness of his views, I do not see what useful
end he will have gained. For if the English Courts of Law hold the
testimony of gravestones from the burial-grounds of Protestant
dissenters to be questionable, even where it is essential in proving a
descent, I cannot conceive that the epitaphial assertions of heathens
should be esteemed of more authority by any man of orthodox sentiments.

At this moment, happening to cast my eyes upon the stone, whose
characters a transverse light from my southern window brings out with
singular distinctness, another interpretation has occurred to me,
promising even more interesting results. I hasten to close my letter in
order to follow at once the clue thus providentially suggested.

I inclose, as usual, a contribution from Mr. Biglow, and remain,

Gentlemen, with esteem and respect,

Your Obedient Humble Servant,

HOMER WILBUR, A.M.


I thank ye, my frien's, for the warmth o' your greetin':
Ther' 's few airthly blessin's but wut's vain an' fleetin';
But ef ther' is one thet hain't _no_ cracks an' flaws,
An' is wuth goin' in for, it's pop'lar applause;
It sends up the sperits ez lively ez rockets,
An' I feel it--wal, down to the eend o' my pockets.
Jes' lovin' the people is Canaan in view,
But it's Canaan paid quarterly t' hev 'em love you;
It's a blessin' thet's breakin' out ollus in fresh spots;
It's a-follerin' Moses 'thout losin' the flesh-pots.             10
But, Gennlemen, 'scuse me, I ain't sech a raw cus
Ez to go luggin' ellerkence into a caucus,--
Thet is, into one where the call comprehen's
Nut the People in person, but on'y their frien's;
I'm so kin' o' used to convincin' the masses
Of th' edvantage o' bein' self-governin' asses,
I forgut thet _we_'re all o' the sort thet pull wires
An' arrange for the public their wants an' desires,
An' thet wut we hed met for wuz jes' to agree
Wut the People's opinions in futur' should be.                   20

Now, to come to the nub, we've ben all disappinted,
An' our leadin' idees are a kind o' disjinted,
Though, fur ez the nateral man could discern,
Things ough' to ha' took most an oppersite turn.
But The'ry is jes' like a train on the rail,
Thet, weather or no, puts her thru without fail,
While Fac' 's the ole stage thet gits sloughed in the ruts,
An' hez to allow for your darned efs an' buts,
An' so, nut intendin' no pers'nal reflections,
They don't--don't nut allus, thet is,--make connections:         30
Sometimes, when it really doos seem thet they'd oughter
Combine jest ez kindly ez new rum an' water,
Both'll be jest ez sot in their ways ez a bagnet,
Ez otherwise-minded ez th' eends of a magnet,
An' folks like you 'n' me, thet ain't ept to be sold,
Git somehow or 'nother left out in the cold.

I expected 'fore this, 'thout no gret of a row,
Jeff D. would ha' ben where A. Lincoln is now,
With Taney to say 'twuz all legle an' fair,
An' a jury o' Deemocrats ready to swear                          40
Thet the ingin o' State gut throwed into the ditch
By the fault o' the North in misplacin' the switch.
Things wuz ripenin' fust-rate with Buchanan to nuss 'em;
But the People--they wouldn't be Mexicans, cuss 'em!
Ain't the safeguards o' freedom upsot, 'z you may say,
Ef the right o' rev'lution is took clean away?
An' doosn't the right primy-fashy include
The bein' entitled to nut be subdued?
The fect is, we'd gone for the Union so strong,
When Union meant South ollus right an' North wrong,              50
Thet the People gut fooled into thinkin' it might
Worry on middlin' wal with the North in the right.
We might ha' ben now jest ez prosp'rous ez France,
Where p'litikle enterprise hez a fair chance,
An' the People is heppy an' proud et this hour,
Long ez they hev the votes, to let Nap hey the power;
But _our_ folks they went an' believed wut we'd told 'em
An', the flag once insulted, no mortle could hold 'em.
'Twuz pervokin' jest when we wuz cert'in to win,--
And I, for one, wun't trust the masses agin:                      60
For a People thet knows much ain't fit to be free
In the self-cockin', back-action style o' J.D.

I can't believe now but wut half on 't is lies;
For who'd thought the North wuz agoin' to rise,
Or take the pervokin'est kin' of a stump,
'thout 'twuz sunthin' ez pressin' ez Gabr'el's las' trump?
Or who'd ha' supposed, arter _sech_ swell an' bluster
'bout the lick-ary-ten-on-ye fighters they'd muster,
Raised by hand on briled lightnin', ez op'lent 'z you please
In a primitive furrest ol femmily-trees,--                       70
Who'd ha' thought thet them Southuners ever 'ud show
Starns with pedigrees to 'em like theirn to the foe,
Or, when the vamosin' come, ever to find
Nat'ral masters in front an' mean white folks behind?
By ginger, ef I'd ha' known half I know now,
When I wuz to Congress, I wouldn't, I swow,
Hey let 'em cair on so high-minded an' sarsy,
'thout _some_ show o' wut you may call vicy-varsy.
To be sure, we wuz under a contrac' jes' then
To be dreffle forbearin' towards Southun men;                     80
We hed to go sheers in preservin' the bellance;
An' ez they seemed to feel they wuz wastin' their tellents
'thout some un to kick, 'twarn't more 'n proper, you know,
Each should furnish his part; an' sence they found the toe,
An' we wuzn't cherubs--wal, we found the buffer,
For fear thet the Compromise System should suffer.

I wun't say the plan hedn't onpleasant featurs,--
For men are perverse an' onreasonin' creaturs,
An' forgit thet in this life 'tain't likely to heppen
Their own privit fancy should ollus be cappen,--                90
But it worked jest ez smooth ez the key of a safe,
An' the gret Union bearin's played free from all chafe.
They warn't hard to suit, ef they hed their own way,
An' we (thet is, some on us) made the thing pay:
'twuz a fair give-an'-take out of Uncle Sam's heap;
Ef they took wut warn't theirn, wut we give come ez cheap;
The elect gut the offices down to tide-waiter,
The people took skinnin' ez mild ez a tater.
Seemed to choose who they wanted tu, footed the bills,
An' felt kind o' 'z though they wuz havin' their wills,          100
Which kep' 'em ez harmless an' cherfle ez crickets,
While all we invested wuz names on the tickets;
Wal, ther' 's nothin', for folks fond o' lib'ral consumption
Free o' charge, like democ'acy tempered with gumption!

Now warn't thet a system wuth pains in presarvin',
Where the people found jints an' their frien's done the carvin',--
Where the many done all o' their thinkin' by proxy,
An' were proud on 't ez long ez 'twuz christened Democ'cy,--
Where the few let us sap all o' Freedom's foundations,
Ef you call it reformin' with prudence an' patience,             110
An' were willin' Jeff's snake-egg should hetch with the rest,
Ef you writ 'Constitootional' over the nest?
But it's all out o' kilter, ('twuz too good to last,)
An' all jes' by J.D.'s perceedin' too fast;
Ef he'd on'y hung on for a month or two more,
We'd ha' gut things fixed nicer 'n they hed ben before:
Afore he drawed off an' lef all in confusion,
We wuz safely entrenched in the ole Constitootion,
With an outlyin', heavy-gun, case-mated fort
To rake all assailants,--I mean th' S.J. Court.                 120
Now I never'll acknowledge (nut ef you should skin me)
'twuz wise to abandon sech works to the in'my,
An' let him fin' out thet wut scared him so long,
Our whole line of argyments, lookin' so strong,
All our Scriptur an' law, every the'ry an' fac',
Wuz Quaker-guns daubed with Pro-slavery black.
Why, ef the Republicans ever should git
Andy Johnson or some one to lend 'em the wit
An' the spunk jes' to mount Constitootion an' Court
With Columbiad guns, your real ekle-rights sort,                 130
Or drill out the spike from the ole Declaration
Thet can kerry a solid shot clearn roun' creation,
We'd better take maysures for shettin' up shop,
An' put off our stock by a vendoo or swop.

But they wun't never dare tu; you'll see 'em in Edom
'fore they ventur' to go where their doctrines 'ud lead 'em:
They've ben takin' our princerples up ez we dropt 'em,
An' thought it wuz terrible 'cute to adopt 'em;
But they'll fin' out 'fore long thet their hope's ben deceivin' 'em,
An' thet princerples ain't o' no good, ef you b'lieve in 'em;
It makes 'em tu stiff for a party to use,                         141
Where they'd ough' to be easy 'z an ole pair o' shoes.
If _we_ say 'n our pletform thet all men are brothers,
We don't mean thet some folks ain't more so 'n some others;
An' it's wal understood thet we make a selection,
An' thet brotherhood kin' o' subsides arter 'lection.
The fust thing for sound politicians to larn is,
Thet Truth, to dror kindly in all sorts o' harness,
Mus' be kep' in the abstract,--for, come to apply it,
You're ept to hurt some folks's interists by it.                 150
Wal, these 'ere Republicans (some on 'em) ects
Ez though gineral mexims 'ud suit speshle facts;
An' there's where we'll nick 'em, there's where they'll be lost;
For applyin' your princerple's wut makes it cost,
An' folks don't want Fourth o' July t' interfere
With the business-consarns o' the rest o' the year,
No more 'n they want Sunday to pry an' to peek
Into wut they are doin' the rest o' the week.

A ginooine statesman should be on his guard,
Ef he _must_ hev beliefs, nut to b'lieve 'em tu hard;       160
For, ez sure ez he does, he'll be blartin' 'em out
'thout regardin' the natur' o' man more 'n a spout,
Nor it don't ask much gumption to pick out a flaw
In a party whose leaders are loose in the jaw:
An' so in our own case I ventur' to hint
Thet we'd better nut air our perceedin's in print,
Nor pass resserlootions ez long ez your arm
Thet may, ez things heppen to turn, du us harm;
For when you've done all your real meanin' to smother,
The darned things'll up an' mean sunthin' or 'nother.            170
Jeff'son prob'ly meant wal with his 'born free an' ekle,'
But it's turned out a real crooked stick in the sekle;
It's taken full eighty-odd year--don't you see?--
From the pop'lar belief to root out thet idee,
An', arter all, suckers on 't keep buddin' forth
In the nat'lly onprincipled mind o' the North.
No, never say nothin' without you're compelled tu,
An' then don't say nothin' thet you can be held tu,
Nor don't leave no friction-idees layin' loose
For the ign'ant to put to incend'ary use.                       180

You know I'm a feller thet keeps a skinned eye
On the leetle events thet go skurryin' by,
Coz it's of'ner by them than by gret ones you'll see
Wut the p'litickle weather is likely to be.
Now I don't think the South's more 'n begun to be licked,
But I _du_ think, ez Jeff says, the wind-bag's gut pricked;
It'll blow for a spell an' keep puffin' an' wheezin',
The tighter our army an' navy keep, squeezin'--
For they can't help spread-eaglein' long 'z ther's a mouth
To blow Enfield's Speaker thru lef' at the South.               190
But it's high time for us to be settin' our faces
Towards reconstructin' the national basis,
With an eye to beginnin' agin on the jolly ticks
We used to chalk up 'hind the back-door o' politics;
An' the fus' thing's to save wut of Slav'ry ther's lef'
Arter this (I mus' call it) imprudence o' Jeff:
For a real good Abuse, with its roots fur an' wide,
Is the kin' o' thing _I_ like to hev on my side;
A Scriptur' name makes it ez sweet ez a rose,
An' it's tougher the older an' uglier it grows--               200
(I ain't speakin' now o' the righteousness of it,
But the p'litickle purchase it gives an' the profit).

Things look pooty squally, it must be allowed,
An' I don't see much signs of a bow in the cloud:
Ther's too many Deemocrats--leaders wut's wuss--
Thet go for the Union 'thout carin' a cuss
Ef it helps ary party thet ever wuz heard on,
So our eagle ain't made a split Austrian bird on.
But ther's still some consarvative signs to be found
Thet shows the gret heart o' the People is sound:                210
(Excuse me for usin' a stump-phrase agin,
But, once in the way on 't, they _will_ stick like sin:)
There's Phillips, for instance, hez jes' ketched a Tartar
In the Law-'n'-Order Party of ole Cincinnater;
An' the Compromise System ain't gone out o' reach,
Long 'z you keep the right limits on freedom o' speech.
'Twarn't none too late, neither, to put on the gag,
For he's dangerous now he goes in for the flag.
Nut thet I altogether approve o' bad eggs,
They're mos' gin'ly argymunt on its las' legs,--                220
An' their logic is ept to be tu indiscriminate,
Nor don't ollus wait the right objecs to 'liminate;
But there is a variety on 'em, you'll find,
Jest ez usefle an' more, besides bein' refined,--
I mean o' the sort thet are laid by the dictionary,
Sech ez sophisms an' cant, thet'll kerry conviction ary
Way thet you want to the right class o' men,
An' are staler than all 't ever come from a hen:
'Disunion' done wal till our resh Southun friends
Took the savor all out on 't for national ends;                  230
But I guess 'Abolition' 'll work a spell yit,
When the war's done, an' so will 'Forgive-an'-forgit.'
Times mus' be pooty thoroughly out o' all jint,
Ef we can't make a good constitootional pint;
An' the good time'll come to be grindin' our exes,
When the war goes to seed in the nettle o' texes:
Ef Jon'than don't squirm, with sech helps to assist him,
I give up my faith in the free-suffrage system;
Democ'cy wun't be nut a mite interestin',
Nor p'litikle capital much wuth investin';                      240
An' my notion is, to keep dark an' lay low
Till we see the right minute to put in our blow.--

But I've talked longer now 'n I hed any idee,
An' ther's others you want to hear more 'n you du me;
So I'll set down an' give thet 'ere bottle a skrimmage,
For I've spoke till I'm dry ez a real graven image.



No. VI

SUNTHIN' IN THE PASTORAL LINE

TO THE EDITORS OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY

JAALAM, 17th May, 1862.

GENTLEMEN,--At the special request of Mr. Biglow, I intended to
inclose, together with his own contribution, (into which, at my
suggestion, he has thrown a little more of pastoral sentiment than
usual,) some passages from my sermon on the day of the National Fast,
from the text, 'Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them,'
Heb. xiii, 3. But I have not leisure sufficient at present for the
copying of them, even were I altogether satisfied with the production as
it stands. I should prefer, I confess, to contribute the entire
discourse to the pages of your respectable miscellany, if it should be
found acceptable upon perusal, especially as I find the difficulty in
selection of greater magnitude than I had anticipated. What passes
without challenge in the fervour of oral delivery, cannot always stand
the colder criticism of the closet. I am not so great an enemy of
Eloquence as my friend Mr. Biglow would appear to be from some passages
in his contribution for the current month. I would not, indeed, hastily
suspect him of covertly glancing at myself in his somewhat caustick
animadversions, albeit some of the phrases he girds at are not entire
strangers to my lips. I am a more hearty admirer of the Puritans than
seems now to be the fashion, and believe, that, if they Hebraized a
little too much in their speech, they showed remarkable practical
sagacity as statesmen and founders. But such phenomena as Puritanism are
the results rather of great religious than of merely social convulsions,
and do not long survive them. So soon as an earnest conviction has
cooled into a phrase, its work is over, and the best that can be done
with it is to bury it. _Ite, missa est_. I am inclined to agree with Mr.
Biglow that we cannot settle the great political questions which are now
presenting themselves to the nation by the opinions of Jeremiah or
Ezekiel as to the wants and duties of the Jews in their time, nor do I
believe that an entire community with their feelings and views would be
practicable or even agreeable at the present day. At the same time I
could wish that their habit of subordinating the actual to the moral,
the flesh to the spirit, and this world to the other, were more common.
They had found out, at least, the great military secret that soul weighs
more than body.--But I am suddenly called to a sick-bed in the household
of a valued parishioner.

  With esteem and respect,

      Your obedient servant,

          HOMER WILBUR.


Once git a smell o' musk into a draw,
An' it clings hold like precerdents in law:
Your gra'ma'am put it there,--when, goodness knows,--
To jes' this-worldify her Sunday-clo'es;
But the old chist wun't sarve her gran'son's wife,
(For, 'thout new funnitoor, wut good in life?)
An' so ole clawfoot, from the precinks dread
O' the spare chamber, slinks into the shed,
Where, dim with dust, it fust or last subsides
To holdin' seeds an' fifty things besides;                      10
But better days stick fast in heart an' husk,
An' all you keep in 't gits a scent o' musk.

Jes' so with poets: wut they've airly read
Gits kind o' worked into their heart an' head,
So's't they can't seem to write but jest on sheers
With furrin countries or played-out ideers,
Nor hev a feelin', ef it doosn't smack
O' wut some critter chose to feel 'way back:
This makes 'em talk o' daisies, larks, an' things,
Ez though we'd nothin' here that blows an' sings,--             20
(Why, I'd give more for one live bobolink
Than a square mile o' larks in printer's ink,)--
This makes 'em think our fust o' May is May,
Which 'tain't, for all the almanicks can say.

O little city-gals, don't never go it
Blind on the word o' noospaper or poet!
They're apt to puff, an' May-day seldom looks
Up in the country ez it doos in books;
They're no more like than hornets'-nests an' hives,
Or printed sarmons be to holy lives.                            30
I, with my trouses perched on cowhide boots,
Tuggin' my foundered feet out by the roots,
Hev seen ye come to fling on April's hearse
Your muslin nosegays from the milliner's,
Puzzlin' to find dry ground your queen to choose,
An' dance your throats sore in morocker shoes:
I've seen ye an' felt proud, thet, come wut would,
Our Pilgrim stock wuz pethed with hardihood.
Pleasure doos make us Yankees kind o' winch,
Ez though 'twuz sunthin' paid for by the inch;                  40
But yit we du contrive to worry thru,
Ef Dooty tells us thet the thing's to du,
An' kerry a hollerday, ef we set out,
Ez stiddily ez though 'twuz a redoubt.

I, country-born an' bred, know where to find
Some blooms thet make the season suit the mind,
An' seem to metch the doubtin' bluebird's notes,--
Half-vent'rin' liverworts in furry coats,
Bloodroots, whose rolled-up leaves ef you oncurl,
Each on 'em's cradle to a baby-pearl,--                         50
But these are jes' Spring's pickets; sure ez sin,
The rebble frosts'll try to drive 'em in;
For half our May's so awfully like Mayn't,
'twould rile a Shaker or an evrige saint;
Though I own up I like our back'ard springs
Thet kind o' haggle with their greens an' things,
An' when you 'most give up, 'uthout more words
Toss the fields full o' blossoms, leaves, an' birds;
Thet's Northun natur', slow an' apt to doubt,
But when it _doos_ git stirred, ther' 's no gin-out!        60

Fust come the blackbirds clatt'rin' in tall trees,
An' settlin' things in windy Congresses,--
Queer politicians, though, for I'll be skinned
Ef all on 'em don't head aginst the wind,
'fore long the trees begin to show belief,--
The maple crimsons to a coral-reef.
Then saffern swarms swing off from all the willers
So plump they look like yaller caterpillars,
Then gray hossches'nuts leetle hands unfold
Softer 'n a baby's be at three days old:                      70
Thet's robin-redbreast's almanick; he knows
Thet arter this ther's only blossom-snows;
So, choosin' out a handy crotch an' spouse,
He goes to plast'rin' his adobe house.

Then seems to come a hitch,--things lag behind.
Till some fine mornin' Spring makes up her mind,
An' ez, when snow-swelled rivers cresh their dams
Heaped-up with ice thet dovetails in an' jams,
A leak comes spirtin' thru some pin-hole cleft,
Grows stronger, fercer, tears out right an' left,              80
Then all the waters bow themselves an' come,
Suddin, in one gret slope o' shedderin' foam,
Jes' so our Spring gits eyerythin' in tune
An' gives one leap from Aperl into June;
Then all comes crowdin' in; afore you think,
Young oak-leaves mist the side-hill woods with pink;
The catbird in the laylock-bush is loud;
The orchards turn to heaps o' rosy cloud;
Red--cedars blossom tu, though few folks know it,
An' look all dipt in sunshine like a poet;                      90
The lime-trees pile their solid stacks o'shade
An' drows'ly simmer with the bees' sweet trade;
In ellum-shrouds the flashin' hangbird clings
An' for the summer vy'ge his hammock slings;
All down the loose-walled lanes in archin' bowers
The barb'ry droops its strings o' golden flowers,
Whose shrinkin' hearts the school-gals love to try,
With pins,--they'll worry yourn so, boys, bimeby!
But I don't love your cat'logue style,--do you?--
Ez ef to sell off Natur' by vendoo;                             100
One word with blood in 't's twice ez good ez two:
'nuff sed, June's bridesman, poet o' the year,
Gladness on wings, the bobolink, is here;
Half-hid in tip-top apple-blooms he swings,
Or climbs aginst the breeze with quiverin' wings,
Or, givin' way to 't in a mock despair,
Runs down, a brook o' laughter, thru the air.

I ollus feel the sap start in my veins
In Spring, with curus heats an' prickly pains
Thet drive me, when I git a chance to walk                      110
Off by myself to hev a privit talk
With a queer critter thet can't seem to 'gree
Along o' me like most folks,--Mister Me.
Ther' 's times when I'm unsoshle ez a stone,
An' sort o' suffercate to be alone,--
I'm crowded jes' to think thet folks are nigh,
An' can't bear nothin' closer than the sky;
Now the wind's full ez shifty in the mind
Ez wut it is ou'-doors, ef I ain't blind,
An' sometimes, in the fairest sou'west weather,                 120
My innard vane pints east for weeks together,
My natur' gits all goose-flesh, an' my sins
Come drizzlin' on my conscience sharp ez pins:
Wal, et sech times I jes' slip out o' sight
An' take it out in a fair stan'-up fight
With the one cuss I can't lay on the shelf,
The crook'dest stick in all the heap,--Myself.

'Twuz so las' Sabbath arter meetin'-time:
Findin' my feelin's wouldn't noways rhyme
With nobody's, but off the hendle flew                          130
An' took things from an east-wind pint o' view,
I started off to lose me in the hills
Where the pines be, up back o' 'Siah's Mills:
Pines, ef you're blue, are the best friends I know,
They mope an' sigh an' sheer your feelin's so,--
They hesh the ground beneath so, tu, I swan,
You half-forgit you've gut a body on.
Ther' 's a small school'us' there where four roads meet,
The door-steps hollered out by little feet,
An' side-posts carved with names whose owners grew              140
To gret men, some on 'em, an' deacons, tu;
'tain't used no longer, coz the town hez gut
A high-school, where they teach the Lord knows wut:
Three-story larnin' 's pop'lar now: I guess
We thriv' ez wal on jes' two stories less,
For it strikes me ther' 's sech a thing ez sinnin'
By overloadin' children's underpinnin':
Wal, here it wuz I larned my ABC,
An' it's a kind o' favorite spot with me.

We're curus critters: Now ain't jes' the minute                 150
Thet ever fits us easy while we're in it;
Long ez 'twuz futur', 'twould be perfect bliss,--
Soon ez it's past, _thet_ time's wuth ten o' this;
An' yit there ain't a man thet need be told
Thet Now's the only bird lays eggs o' gold.
A knee-high lad, I used to plot an' plan
An' think 'twuz life's cap-sheaf to be a man:
Now, gittin' gray, there's nothin' I enjoy
Like dreamin' back along into a boy:
So the ole school'us' is a place I choose                        160
Afore all others, ef I want to muse;
I set down where I used to set, an' git
My boyhood back, an' better things with it,--
Faith, Hope, an' sunthin', ef it isn't Cherrity,
It's want o' guile, an' thet's ez gret a rerrity,--
While Fancy's cushin', free to Prince and Clown,
Makes the hard bench ez soft ez milk-weed-down.

Now, 'fore I knowed, thet Sabbath arternoon
When I sot out to tramp myself in tune,
I found me in the school'us' on my seat,                        170
Drummin' the march to No-wheres with my feet.
Thinkin' o' nothin', I've heerd ole folks say
Is a hard kind o' dooty in its way:
It's thinkin' everythin' you ever knew,
Or ever hearn, to make your feelin's blue.
I sot there tryin' thet on for a spell:
I thought o' the Rebellion, then o' Hell,
Which some folks tell ye now is jest a metterfor
(A the'ry, p'raps, it wun't _feel_ none the better for);
I thought o' Reconstruction, wut we'd win                      180
Patchin' our patent self-blow-up agin:
I thought ef this 'ere milkin' o' the wits,
So much a month, warn't givin' Natur' fits,--
Ef folks warn't druv, findin' their own milk fail,
To work the cow thet hez an iron tail,
An' ef idees 'thout ripenin' in the pan
Would send up cream to humor ary man:
From this to thet I let my worryin' creep.
Till finally I must ha' fell asleep.

Our lives in sleep are some like streams thet glide            190
'twixt flesh an' sperrit boundin' on each side,
Where both shores' shadders kind o' mix an' mingle
In sunthin' thet ain't jes' like either single;
An' when you cast off moorin's from To-day,
An' down towards To-morrer drift away,
The imiges thet tengle on the stream
Make a new upside-down'ard world o' dream:
Sometimes they seem like sunrise-streaks an' warnin's
O' wut'll be in Heaven on Sabbath-mornin's,
An', mixed right in ez ef jest out o' spite,                    200
Sunthin' thet says your supper ain't gone right.
I'm gret on dreams, an' often when I wake,
I've lived so much it makes my mem'ry ache.
An' can't skurce take a cat-nap in my cheer
'thout hevin' 'em, some good, some bad, all queer.

Now I wuz settin' where I'd ben, it seemed,
An' ain't sure yit whether I r'ally dreamed,
Nor, ef I did, how long I might ha' slep',
When I hearn some un stompin' up the step,
An' lookin' round, ef two an' two make four,                     210
I see a Pilgrim Father in the door.
He wore a steeple-hat, tall boots, an' spurs
With rowels to 'em big ez ches'nut-burrs,
An' his gret sword behind him sloped away
Long 'z a man's speech thet dunno wut to say.--
'Ef your name's Biglow, an' your given-name
Hosee,' sez he, 'it's arter you I came:
I'm your gret-gran'ther multiplied by three.'--
'My _wut?_' sez I.--'Your gret-gret-gret,' sez he:
'You wouldn't ha' never ben here but for me.     220
Two hundred an' three year ago this May
The ship I come in sailed up Boston Bay;
I'd been a cunnle in our Civil War,--
But wut on airth hev _you_ gut up one for?
Coz we du things in England, 'tain't for you
To git a notion you can du 'em tu:
I'm told you write in public prints: ef true,
It's nateral you should know a thing or two.'--
'Thet air's an argymunt I can't endorse,--
'twould prove, coz you wear spurs, you kep' a horse:     230
For brains,' sez I, 'wutever you may think,
Ain't boun' to cash the drafs o' pen-an'-ink,--
Though mos' folks write ez ef they hoped jes' quickenin'
The churn would argoo skim-milk into thickenin';
But skim-milk ain't a thing to change its view
O' wut it's meant for more 'n a smoky flue.
But du pray tell me, 'fore we furder go,
How in all Natur' did you come to know
'bout our affairs,' sez I, 'in Kingdom-Come?'--
'Wal, I worked round at sperrit-rappin' some,     240
An' danced the tables till their legs wuz gone,
In hopes o' larnin' wut wuz goin' on,'
Sez he, 'but mejums lie so like all-split
Thet I concluded it wuz best to quit.
But, come now, ef you wun't confess to knowin',
You've some conjectures how the thing's a-goin'.'--
'Gran'ther,' sez I, 'a vane warn't never known
Nor asked to hev a jedgment of its own;
An' yit, ef 'tain't gut rusty in the jints.
It's safe to trust its say on certin pints:     250
It knows the wind's opinions to a T,
An' the wind settles wut the weather'll be.'
'I never thought a scion of our stock
Could grow the wood to make a weather-cock;
When I wuz younger 'n you, skurce more 'n a shaver,
No airthly wind,' sez he, 'could make me waver!'
(Ez he said this, he clinched his jaw an' forehead,
Hitchin' his belt to bring his sword-hilt forrard.)--
'Jes so it wuz with me,' sez I, 'I swow.
When _I_ wuz younger 'n wut you see me now,--    260
Nothin' from Adam's fall to Huldy's bonnet,
Thet I warn't full-cocked with my jedgment on it;
But now I'm gittin' on in life, I find
It's a sight harder to make up my mind,--
Nor I don't often try tu, when events
Will du it for me free of all expense.
The moral question's ollus plain enough,--
It's jes' the human-natur' side thet's tough;
'Wut's best to think mayn't puzzle me nor you,--
The pinch comes in decidin' wut to _du;_     270
Ef you _read_ History, all runs smooth ez grease,
Coz there the men ain't nothin' more 'n idees,--
But come to _make_ it, ez we must to-day,
Th' idees hev arms an' legs an' stop the way;
It's easy fixin' things in facts an' figgers,--
They can't resist, nor warn't brought up with niggers;
But come to try your the'ry on,--why, then
Your facts and figgers change to ign'ant men
Actin' ez ugly--'--'Smite 'em hip an' thigh!'
Sez gran'ther, 'and let every man-child die!     280
Oh for three weeks o' Crommle an' the Lord!
Up, Isr'el, to your tents an' grind the sword!'--
'Thet kind o' thing worked wal in ole Judee,
But you forgit how long it's ben A.D.;
You think thet's ellerkence,--I call it shoddy,
A thing,' sez I, 'wun't cover soul nor body;
I like the plain all-wool o' common-sense,
Thet warms ye now, an' will a twelvemonth hence,
_You_ took to follerin' where the Prophets beckoned,
An', fust you knowed on, back come Charles the Second;
Now wut I want's to hev all _we_ gain stick,     291
An' not to start Millennium too quick;
We hain't to punish only, but to keep,
An' the cure's gut to go a cent'ry deep.'
'Wall, milk-an'-water ain't the best o' glue,'
Sez he, 'an' so you'll find afore you're thru;
Ef reshness venters sunthin', shilly-shally
Loses ez often wut's ten times the vally.
Thet exe of ourn, when Charles's neck gut split,
Opened a gap thet ain't bridged over yit:     300
Slav'ry's your Charles, the Lord hez gin the exe'--
'Our Charles,' sez I, 'hez gut eight million necks.
The hardest question ain't the black man's right,
The trouble is to 'mancipate the white;
One's chained in body an' can be sot free,
But t'other's chained in soul to an idee:
It's a long job, but we shall worry thru it;
Ef bagnets fail, the spellin'-book must du it.'
'Hosee,' sez he, 'I think you're goin' to fail:
The rettlesnake ain't dangerous in the tail;     310
This 'ere rebellion's nothing but the rettle,--
You'll stomp on thet an' think you've won the bettle:
It's Slavery thet's the fangs an' thinkin' head,
An' ef you want selvation, cresh it dead,--
An' cresh it suddin, or you'll larn by waitin'
Thet Chance wun't stop to listen to debatin'!'--
'God's truth!' sez I,--'an' ef _I_ held the club,
An' knowed jes' where to strike,--but there's the rub!'--
'Strike soon,' sez he, 'or you'll be deadly ailin',--
Folks thet's afeared to fail are sure o' failin';       320
God hates your sneakin' creturs thet believe
He'll settle things they run away an' leave!'
He brought his foot down fiercely, ez he spoke,
An' give me sech a startle thet I woke.



No. VII

LATEST VIEWS OF MR. BIGLOW

PRELIMINARY NOTE

[It is with feelings of the liveliest pain that we inform our readers of
the death of the Reverend Homer Wilbur, A.M., which took place suddenly,
by an apoplectic stroke, on the afternoon of Christmas day, 1862. Our
venerable friend (for so we may venture to call him, though we never
enjoyed the high privilege of his personal acquaintance) was in his
eighty-fourth year, having been born June 12, 1779, at Pigsgusset
Precinct (now West Jerusha) in the then District of Maine. Graduated
with distinction at Hubville College in 1805, he pursued his theological
studies with the late Reverend Preserved Thacker, D.D., and was called
to the charge of the First Society in Jaalam in 1809, where he remained
till his death.

'As an antiquary he has probably left no superior, if, indeed, an
equal,' writes his friend and colleague, the Reverend Jeduthun
Hitchcock, to whom we are indebted for the above facts; 'in proof of
which I need only allude to his "History of Jaalam, Genealogical,
Topographical, and Ecclesiastical," 1849, which has won him an eminent
and enduring place in our more solid and useful literature. It is only
to be regretted that his intense application to historical studies
should have so entirely withdrawn him from the pursuit of poetical
composition, for which he was endowed by Nature with a remarkable
aptitude. His well-known hymn, beginning "With clouds of care
encompassed round," has been attributed in some collections to the late
President Dwight, and it is hardly presumptuous to affirm that the
simile of the rainbow in the eighth stanza would do no discredit to that
polished pen.'

We regret that we have not room at present for the whole of Mr.
Hitchcock's exceedingly valuable communication. We hope to lay more
liberal extracts from it before our readers at an early day. A summary
of its contents will give some notion of its importance and interest. It
contains: 1st, A biographical sketch of Mr. Wilbur, with notices of his
predecessors in the pastoral office, and of eminent clerical
contemporaries; 2d, An obituary of deceased, from the Punkin-Falls
'Weekly Parallel;' 3d, A list of his printed and manuscript productions
and of projected works; 4th, Personal anecdotes and recollections, with
specimens of table-talk; 5th, A tribute to his relict, Mrs. Dorcas
(Pilcox) Wilbur; 6th, A list of graduates fitted for different colleges
by Mr. Wilbur, with biographical memoranda touching the more
distinguished; 7th, Concerning learned, charitable, and other
societies, of which Mr. Wilbur was a member, and of those with which,
had his life been prolonged, he would doubtless have been associated,
with a complete catalogue of such Americans as have been Fellows of the
Royal Society; 8th, A brief summary of Mr. Wilbur's latest conclusions
concerning the Tenth Horn of the Beast in its special application to
recent events, for which the public, as Mr. Hitchcock assures us, have
been waiting with feelings of lively anticipation; 9th, Mr. Hitchcock's
own views on the same topic; and, 10th, A brief essay on the importance
of local histories. It will be apparent that the duty of preparing Mr.
Wilbur's biography could not have fallen into more sympathetic hands.

In a private letter with which the reverend gentleman has since favored
us, he expresses the opinion that Mr. Wilbur's life was shortened by our
unhappy civil war. It disturbed his studies, dislocated all his habitual
associations and trains of thought, and unsettled the foundations of a
faith, rather the result of habit than conviction, in the capacity of
man for self-government. 'Such has been the felicity of my life,' he
said to Mr. Hitchcock, on the very morning of the day he died, 'that,
through the divine mercy, I could always say, _Summum nec metuo diem,
nec opto_. It has been my habit, as you know, on every recurrence of
this blessed anniversary, to read Milton's "Hymn of the Nativity" till
its sublime harmonies so dilated my soul and quickened its spiritual
sense that I seemed to hear that other song which gave assurance to the
shepherds that there was One who would lead them also in green pastures
and beside the still waters. But to-day I have been unable to think of
anything but that mournful text, "I came not to send peace, but a
sword," and, did it not smack of Pagan presumptuousness, could almost
wish I had never lived to see this day.'

Mr. Hitchcock also informs us that his friend 'lies buried in the Jaalam
graveyard, under a large red-cedar which he specially admired. A neat
and substantial monument is to be erected over his remains, with a Latin
epitaph written by himself; for he was accustomed to say, pleasantly,
"that there was at least one occasion in a scholar's life when he might
show the advantages of a classical training."'

The following fragment of a letter addressed to us, and apparently
intended to accompany Mr. Biglow's contribution to the present number,
was found upon his table after his decease.--EDITORS ATLANTIC MONTHLY.]


TO THE EDITORS OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY

JAALAM, 24th Dec., 1862.

RESPECTED SIRS,--- The infirm state of my bodily health would be a
sufficient apology for not taking up the pen at this time, wholesome as
I deem it for the mind to apricate in the shelter of epistolary
confidence, were it not that a considerable, I might even say a large,
number of individuals in this parish expect from their pastor some
publick expression of sentiment at this crisis. Moreover, _Qui tacitus
ardet magis uritur_. In trying times like these, the besetting sin of
undisciplined minds is to seek refuge from inexplicable realities in the
dangerous stimulant of angry partisanship or the indolent narcotick of
vague and hopeful vaticination: _fortunamque suo temperat arbitrio_.
Both by reason of my age and my natural temperament, I am unfitted for
either. Unable to penetrate the inscrutable judgments of God, I am more
than ever thankful that my life has been prolonged till I could in some
small measure comprehend His mercy. As there is no man who does not at
some time render himself amenable to the one,--_quum vix justus sit
securus_,--so there is none that does not feel himself in daily need of
the other.

I confess I cannot feel, as some do, a personal consolation for the
manifest evils of this war in any remote or contingent advantages that
may spring from it. I am old and weak, I can bear little, and can scarce
hope to see better days; nor is it any adequate compensation to know
that Nature is young and strong and can bear much. Old men philosophize
over the past, but the present is only a burthen and a weariness. The
one lies before them like a placid evening landscape; the other is full
of vexations and anxieties of housekeeping. It may be true enough that
_miscet hæc illis, prohibetque Clotho fortunam stare_, but he who said
it was fain at last to call in Atropos with her shears before her time;
and I cannot help selfishly mourning that the fortune of our Republick
could not at least stay till my days were numbered.

Tibullus would find the origin of wars in the great exaggeration of
riches, and does not stick to say that in the days of the beechen
trencher there was peace. But averse as I am by nature from all wars,
the more as they have been especially fatal to libraries, I would have
this one go on till we are reduced to wooden platters again, rather than
surrender the principle to defend which it was undertaken. Though I
believe Slavery to have been the cause of it, by so thoroughly
demoralizing Northern politicks for its own purposes as to give
opportunity and hope to treason, yet I would not have our thought and
purpose diverted from their true object,--the maintenance of the idea of
Government. We are not merely suppressing an enormous riot, but
contending for the possibility of permanent order coexisting with
democratical fickleness; and while I would not superstitiously venerate
form to the sacrifice of substance, neither would I forget that an
adherence to precedent and prescription can alone give that continuity
and coherence under a democratical constitution which are inherent in
the person of a despotick monarch and the selfishness of an
aristocratieal class. _Stet pro ratione voluntas_ is as dangerous in a
majority as in a tyrant.

I cannot allow the present production of my young friend to go out
without a protest from me against a certain extremeness in his views,
more pardonable in the poet than in the philosopher. While I agree with
him, that the only cure for rebellion is suppression by force, yet I
must animadvert upon certain phrases where I seem to see a coincidence
with a popular fallacy on the subject of compromise. On the one hand
there are those who do not see that the vital principle of Government
and the seminal principle of Law cannot properly be made a subject of
compromise at all, and on the other those who are equally blind to the
truth that without a compromise of individual opinions, interests, and
even rights, no society would be possible. _In medio tutissimus_. For my
own part, I would gladly--


Ef I a song or two could make
  Like rockets druv by their own burnin',
All leap an' light, to leave a wake
  Men's hearts an' faces skyward turnin'!--
But, it strikes me, 'tain't jest the time
  Fer stringin' words with settisfaction:
Wut's wanted now's the silent rhyme
  'Twixt upright Will an' downright Action.

Words, ef you keep 'em, pay their keep,
  But gabble's the short cut to ruin;     10
It's gratis, (gals half-price,) but cheap
  At no rate, ef it henders doin';
Ther' 's nothin' wuss, 'less 'tis to set
  A martyr-prem'um upon jawrin':
Teapots git dangerous, ef you shet
  Their lids down on 'em with Fort Warren.

'Bout long enough it's ben discussed
  Who sot the magazine afire,
An' whether, ef Bob Wickliffe bust,
  'Twould scare us more or blow us higher.     20
D' ye spose the Gret Foreseer's plan
  Wuz settled fer him in town-meetin'?
Or thet ther'd ben no Fall o' Man,
  Ef Adam'd on'y bit a sweetin'?

Oh, Jon'than, ef you want to be
  A rugged chap agin an' hearty,
Go fer wutever'll hurt Jeff D.,
  Nut wut'll boost up ary party.
Here's hell broke loose, an' we lay flat
  With half the univarse a-singe-in',     30
Till Sen'tor This an' Gov'nor Thet
  Stop squabblin' fer the gardingingin.

It's war we're in, not politics;
  It's systems wrastlin' now, not parties;
An' victory in the eend'll fix
  Where longest will an' truest heart is,
An' wut's the Guv'ment folks about?
  Tryin' to hope ther' 's nothin' doin',
An' look ez though they didn't doubt
  Sunthin' pertickler wuz a-brewin'.     40

Ther' 's critters yit thet talk an' act
  Fer wut they call Conciliation;
They'd hand a buff'lo-drove a tract
  When they wuz madder than all Bashan.
Conciliate? it jest means _be kicked_,
  No metter how they phrase an' tone it;
It means thet we're to set down licked,
  Thet we're poor shotes an' glad to own it!

A war on tick's ez dear 'z the deuce,
  But it wun't leave no lastin' traces,     50
Ez 'twould to make a sneakin' truce
  Without no moral specie-basis:
Ef greenbacks ain't nut jest the cheese,
  I guess ther' 's evils thet's extremer,--
Fer instance,--shinplaster idees
  Like them put out by Gov'nor Seymour.

Last year, the Nation, at a word,
  When tremblin' Freedom cried to shield her,
Flamed weldin' into one keen sword
  Waitin' an' longin' fer a wielder:
A splendid flash!--but how'd the grasp     61
  With sech a chance ez thet wuz tally?
Ther' warn't no meanin' in our clasp,--
  Half this, half thet, all shilly-shally.

More men? More man! It's there we fail;
  Weak plans grow weaker yit by lengthenin':
Wut use in addin' to the tail,
  When it's the head's in need o' strengthenin'?
We wanted one thet felt all Chief
  From roots o' hair to sole o' stockin',     70
Square-sot with thousan'-ton belief
  In him an' us, ef earth went rockin'!

Ole Hick'ry wouldn't ha' stood see-saw
  'Bout doin' things till they wuz done with,--
He'd smashed the tables o' the Law
  In time o' need to load his gun with;
He couldn't see but jest one side,--
  Ef his, 'twuz God's, an' thet wuz plenty;
An' so his '_Forrards!_' multiplied
  An army's fightin' weight by twenty.     80

But this 'ere histin', creak, creak, creak,
  Your cappen's heart up with a derrick,
This tryin' to coax a lightnin'-streak
  Out of a half-discouraged hayrick,
This hangin' on mont' arter mont'
  Fer one sharp purpose 'mongst the twitter,--
I tell ye, it doos kind o' stunt
  The peth and sperit of a critter.

In six months where'll the People be,
  Ef leaders look on revolution      90
Ez though it wuz a cup o' tea,--
  Jest social el'ments in solution?
This weighin' things doos wal enough
  When war cools down, an' comes to writin';
But while it's makin', the true stuff
  Is pison-mad, pig-headed fightin'.

Democ'acy gives every man
  The right to be his own oppressor;
But a loose Gov'ment ain't the plan,
  Helpless ez spilled beans on a dresser:     100
I tell ye one thing we might larn
  From them smart critters, the Seceders,--
Ef bein' right's the fust consarn,
  The 'fore-the-fust's cast-iron leaders.

But 'pears to me I see some signs
  Thet we're a-goin' to use our senses:
Jeff druv us into these hard lines,
  An' ough' to bear his half th' expenses;
Slavery's Secession's heart an' will,
  South, North, East, West, where'er you find it,      110
An' ef it drors into War's mill,
  D'ye say them thunder-stones sha'n't grind it?

D' ye s'pose, ef Jeff giv _him_ a lick,
  Ole Hick'ry'd tried his head to sof'n
So's 'twouldn't hurt thet ebony stick
 Thet's made our side see stars so of'n?
'No!' he'd ha' thundered, 'on your knees,
  An' own one flag, one road to glory!
Soft-heartedness, in times like these,
  Shows sof'ness in the upper story!'       120

An' why should we kick up a muss
  About the Pres'dunt's proclamation?
It ain't a-goin' to lib'rate us,
  Ef we don't like emancipation:
The right to be a cussed fool
  Is safe from all devices human,
It's common (ez a gin'l rule)
  To every critter born o' woman.

So _we're_ all right, an' I, fer one,
  Don't think our cause'll lose in vally      130
By rammin' Scriptur' in our gun,
  An' gittin' Natur' fer an ally:
Thank God, say I, fer even a plan
  To lift one human bein's level,
Give one more chance to make a man,
  Or, anyhow, to spile a devil!

Not thet I'm one thet much expec'
  Millennium by express to-morrer;
They _will_ miscarry,--I rec'lec'
  Tu many on 'em, to my sorrer:
Men ain't made angels in a day,             141
  No matter how you mould an' labor 'em,
Nor 'riginal ones, I guess, don't stay
  With Abe so of'n ez with Abraham.

The'ry thinks Fact a pooty thing,
  An' wants the banns read right ensuin';
But fact wun't noways wear the ring,
  'Thout years o' settin' up an' wooin':
Though, arter all, Time's dial-plate
  Marks cent'ries with the minute-finger,     150
An' Good can't never come tu late,
  Though it does seem to try an' linger.

An' come wut will, I think it's grand
  Abe's gut his will et last bloom-furnaced
In trial-flames till it'll stand
  The strain o' bein' in deadly earnest:
Thet's wut we want,--we want to know
  The folks on our side hez the bravery
To b'lieve ez hard, come weal, come woe,
  In Freedom ez Jeff doos in Slavery.       160

Set the two forces foot to foot,
  An' every man knows who'll be winner,
Whose faith in God hez ary root
  Thet goes down deeper than his dinner:
_Then_ 'twill be felt from pole to pole,
  Without no need o' proclamation,
Earth's biggest Country's gut her soul
  An' risen up Earth's Greatest Nation!



No. VIII

KETTELOPOTOMACHIA

PRELIMINARY MOTE

[In the month of February, 1866, the editors of the 'Atlantic Monthly'
received from the Rev. Mr. Hitchcock of Jaalam a letter enclosing the
macaronic verses which follow, and promising to send more, if more
should be communicated. 'They were rapped out on the evening of Thursday
last past,' he says, 'by what claimed to be the spirit of my late
predecessor in the ministry here, the Rev. Dr. Wilbur, through the
medium of a young man at present domiciled in my family. As to the
possibility of such spiritual manifestations, or whether they be
properly so entitled, I express no opinion, as there is a division of
sentiment on that subject in the parish, and many persons of the highest
respectability in social standing entertain opposing views. The young
man who was improved as a medium submitted himself to the experiment
with manifest reluctance, and is still unprepared to believe in the
authenticity of the manifestations. During his residence with me his
deportment has always been exemplary; he has been constant in his
attendance upon our family devotions and the public ministrations of the
Word, and has more than once privately stated to me, that the latter had
often brought him under deep concern of mind. The table is an ordinary
quadrupedal one, weighing about thirty pounds, three feet seven inches
and a half in height, four feet square on the top, and of beech or
maple, I am not definitely prepared to say which. It had once belonged
to my respected predecessor, and had been, so far as I can learn upon
careful inquiry, of perfectly regular and correct habits up to the
evening in question. On that occasion the young man previously alluded
to had been sitting with his hands resting carelessly upon it, while I
read over to him at his request certain portions of my last Sabbath's
discourse. On a sudden the rappings, as they are called, commenced to
render themselves audible, at first faintly, but in process of time more
distinctly and with violent agitation of the table. The young man
expressed himself both surprised and pained by the wholly unexpected,
and, so far as he was concerned, unprecedented occurrence. At the
earnest solicitation, however, of several who happened to be present, he
consented to go on with the experiment, and with the assistance of the
alphabet commonly employed in similar emergencies, the following
communication was obtained and written down immediately by myself.
Whether any, and if so, how much weight should be attached to it, I
venture no decision. That Dr. Wilbur had sometimes employed his leisure
in Latin versification I have ascertained to be the case, though all
that has been discovered of that nature among his papers consists of
some fragmentary passages of a version into hexameters of portions of
the Song of Solomon. These I had communicated about a week or ten days
previous[ly] to the young gentleman who officiated as medium in the
communication afterwards received. I have thus, I believe, stated all
the material facts that have any elucidative bearing upon this
mysterious occurrence.'

So far Mr. Hitchcock, who seems perfectly master of Webster's
unabridged quarto, and whose flowing style leads him into certain
farther expatiations for which we have not room. We have since learned
that the young man he speaks of was a sophomore, put under his care
during a sentence of rustication from ---- College, where he had
distinguished himself rather by physical experiments on the comparative
power of resistance in window-glass to various solid substances, than in
the more regular studies of the place. In answer to a letter of inquiry,
the professor of Latin says, 'There was no harm in the boy that I know
of beyond his loving mischief more than Latin, nor can I think of any
spirits likely to possess him except those commonly called animal. He
was certainly not remarkable for his Latinity, but I see nothing in the
verses you enclose that would lead me to think them beyond his capacity,
or the result of any special inspiration whether of beech or maple. Had
that of _birch_ been tried upon him earlier and more faithfully, the
verses would perhaps have been better in quality and certainly in
quantity.' This exact and thorough scholar then goes on to point out
many false quantities and barbarisms. It is but fair to say, however,
that the author, whoever he was, seems not to have been unaware of some
of them himself, as is shown by a great many notes appended to the
verses as we received them, and purporting to be by Scaliger, Bentley,
and others,--among them the _Esprit de Voltaire_! These we have omitted
as clearly meant to be humorous and altogether failing therein.

Though entirely satisfied that the verses are altogether unworthy of Mr.
Wilbur, who seems to Slave been a tolerable Latin scholar after the
fashion of his day, yet we have determined to print them here, partly as
belonging to the _res gestæ_ of this collection, and partly as a
warning to their putative author which may keep him from such indecorous
pranks for the future.]


KETTELOPOTOMACHIA

P. Ovidii Nasonis carmen heroicum macaronicum perplexametrum, inter
Getas getico moro compostum, denuo per medium ardentispiritualem
adjuvante mensâ diabolice obsessâ, recuperatum, curâque Jo. Conradi
Schwarzii umbræ, allis necnon plurimis adjuvantibus, restitutum.


LIBER I


Punctorum garretos colens et cellara Quinque,
Gutteribus quæ et gaudes sunday-am abstingere frontem,
Plerumque insidos solita fluitare liquore
Tanglepedem quem homines appellant Di quoque rotgut,
Pimpliidis, rubicundaque, Musa, O, bourbonolensque,
Fenianas rixas procul, alma, brogipotentis
Patricii cyathos iterantis et horrida bella,
Backos dum virides viridis Brigitta remittit,
Linquens, eximios celebrem, da, Virginienses
Rowdes, præcipue et TE, heros alte, Polarde!     10
Insignes juvenesque, illo certamine lictos,
Colemane, Tylere, nec vos oblivione relinquam.

Ampla aquilæ invictæ fausto est sub tegmine terra,
Backyfer, ooiskeo pollens, ebenoque bipede,
Socors præsidum et altrix (denique quidruminantium),
Duplefveorum uberrima; illis et integre cordi est
Deplere assidue et sine proprio incommodo fiscum;
Nunc etiam placidum hoc opus invictique secuti,
Goosam aureos ni eggos voluissent immo necare
Quæ peperit, saltem ac de illis meliora merentem.     20

Condidit hanc Smithius Dux, Captinus inclytus ille
Regis Ulyssæ instar, docti arcum intendere longum;
Condidit ille Johnsmith, Virginiamque vocavit,
Settledit autem Jacobus rex, nomine primus,
Rascalis implens ruptis, blagardisque deboshtis,
Militibusque ex Falstaffi legione fugatis
Wenchisque illi quas poterant seducere nuptas;
Virgineum, ah, littus matronis talibus impar!
Progeniem stirpe ex hoc non sine stigmate ducunt
Multi sese qui jactant regum esse nepotes:          30
Haud omnes, Mater, genitos quæ nuper habebas
Bello fortes, consilio cautos, virtute decoros,
Jamque et habes, sparso si patrio in sanguine virtus,
Mostrabisque iterum, antiquis sub astris reducta!
De illis qui upkikitant, dicebam, rumpora tanta,
Letcheris et Floydis magnisque Extra ordine Billis;
Est his prisca fides jurare et breakere wordum:
Poppere fellerum a tergo, aut stickere clam bowiknifo,
Haud sane facinus, dignum sed victrice lauro;
Larrupere et nigerum, factum præstantius ullo:     40
Ast chlamydem piciplumatam, Icariam, flito et ineptam,
Yanko gratis induere, illum et valido railo
Insuper acri equitare docere est hospitio uti.

Nescio an ille Polardus duplefveoribus ortus,
Sed reputo potius de radice poorwitemanorum;
Fortuiti proles, ni fallor, Tylerus erat
Præsidis, omnibus ab Whiggis nominatus a poor cuss;
Et nobilem tertium evincit venerabile nomen.
Ast animosi omnes bellique ad tympana ha! ha!
Vociferant læti, procul et si proelia, sive         50
Hostem incautum atsito possint shootere salvi;
Imperiique capaces, esset si stylus agmen,
Pro dulci spoliabant et sine dangere fito.
Præ ceterisque Polardus: si Secessia licta,
Se nunquam licturum jurat res et unheardof,
Verbo hæsit, similisque audaci roosteri invicto,
Dunghilli solitus rex pullos whoppere molles,
Grantum, hirelingos stripes quique et splendida tollunt
Sidera, et Yankos, territum et omnem sarsuit orbem.

Usque dabant operam isti omnes, noctesque diesque,     60
Samuelem demulgere avunculum, id vero siccum;
Uberibus sed ejus, et horum est culpa, remotis,
Parvam domi vaccam, nec mora minima, quærunt,
Lacticarentem autem et droppam vix in die dantem;
Reddite avunculi, et exclamabant, reddite pappam!
Polko ut consule, gemens, Billy immurmurat Extra;
Echo respondit, thesauro ex vacuo, pappam!
Frustra explorant pocketa, ruber nare repertum;
Officia expulsi aspiciunt rapta, et Paradisum
Occlusum, viridesque Laud illis nascere backos;      70
Stupent tunc oculis madidis spittantque silenter.
Adhibere usu ast longo vires prorsus inepti,
Si non ut qui grindeat axve trabemve reuolvat,
Virginiam excruciant totis nunc mightibu' matrem;
Non melius, puta, nono panis dimidiumne est?

Readere ibi non posse est casus commoner ullo;
Tanto intentius imprimere est opus ergo statuta;
Nemo propterea pejor, melior, sine doubto,
Obtineat qui contractum, si et postea rhino;
Ergo Polardus, si quis, inexsuperabilis heros,       80
Colemanus impavidus nondum, atque in purpure natus
Tylerus Iohanides celerisque in flito Nathaniel,
Quisque optans digitos in tantum stickere pium,
Adstant accincti imprimere aut perrumpere leges:
Quales os miserum rabidi tres ægre molossi,
Quales aut dubium textum atra in veste ministri,
Tales circumstabant nunc nostri inopes hoc job.

Hisque Polardus voce canoro talia fatus:
Primum autem, veluti est mos, præceps quisque liquorat,
Quisque et Nicotianum ingens quid inserit atrum,     90
Heroûm nitidum decus et solamen avitum,
Masticat ac simul altisonans, spittatque profuse:
Quis de Virginia meruit præstantius unquam?
Quis se pro patria curavit impigre tutum?
Speechisque articulisque hominum quis fortior ullus,
Ingeminans pennæ lickos et vulnera vocis?
Quisnam putidius (hic) sarsuit Yankinimicos,
Sæpius aut dedit ultro datam et broke his parolam?
Mente inquassatus solidâque, tyranno minante,
Horrisonis (hic) bombis moenia et alta quatente,     100
Sese promptum (hic) jactans Yankos lickere centum,
Atque ad lastum invictus non surrendidit unquam?
Ergo haud meddlite, posco, mique relinquite (hic) hoc job,
Si non--knifumque enormem mostrat spittatque tremendus.

Dixerat: ast alii reliquorant et sine pauso
Pluggos incumbunt maxillis, uterque vicissim
Certamine innocuo valde madidam inquinat assem:
Tylerus autem, dumque liquorat aridus hostis,
Mirum aspicit duplumque bibentem, astante Lyæo;
Ardens impavidusque edidit tamen impia verba;      110
Duplum quamvis te aspicio, esses atque viginti,
Mendacem dicerem totumque (hic) thrasherem acervum;
Nempe et thrasham, doggonatus (hic) sim nisi faxem;
Lambastabo omnes catawompositer-(hic) que chawam!
Dixit et impulsus Ryeo ruitur bene titus,
Illi nam gravidum caput et laterem habet in hatto.

Hunc inhiat titubansque Polardus, optat et illum
Stickere inermem, protegit autem rite Lyæus,
Et pronos geminos, oculis dubitantibus, heros
Cernit et irritus hostes, dumque excogitat utrum     120
Primum inpitchere, corruit, inter utrosque recumbit,
Magno asino similis nimio sub pondere quassus:
Colemanus hos moestus, triste ruminansque solamen,
Inspicit hiccans, circumspittat terque cubantes;
Funereisque his ritibus humidis inde solutis,
Sternitur, invalidusque illis superincidit infans;
Hos sepelit somnus et snorunt cornisonantes,
Watchmanus inscios ast calybooso deinde reponit.



No. IX

[The Editors of the 'Atlantic' have received so many letters of inquiry
concerning the literary remains of the late Mr. Wilbur, mentioned by his
colleague and successor, Rev. Jeduthun Hitchcock, in a communication
from which we made some extracts in our number for February, 1863, and
have been so repeatedly urged to print some part of them for the
gratification of the public, that they felt it their duty at least to
make some effort to satisfy so urgent a demand. They have accordingly
carefully examined the papers intrusted to them, but find most of the
productions of Mr. Wilbur's pen so fragmentary, and even chaotic,
written as they are on the backs of letters in an exceedingly cramped
chirography,--here a memorandum for a sermon; there an observation of
the weather; now the measurement of an extraordinary head of cabbage,
and then of the cerebral capacity of some reverend brother deceased; a
calm inquiry into the state of modern literature, ending in a method of
detecting if milk be impoverished with water, and the amount thereof;
one leaf beginning with a genealogy, to be interrupted halfway down with
an entry that the brindle cow had calved,--that any attempts at
selection seemed desperate. His only complete work, 'An Enquiry
concerning the Tenth Horn of the Beast,' even in the abstract of it
given by Mr. Hitchcock, would, by a rough computation of the printers,
fill five entire numbers of our journal, and as he attempts, by a new
application of decimal fractions, to identify it with the Emperor
Julian, seems hardly of immediate concern to the general reader. Even
the Table-Talk, though doubtless originally highly interesting in the
domestic circle, is so largely made up of theological discussion and
matters of local or preterite interest, that we have found it hard to
extract anything that would at all satisfy expectation. But, in order to
silence further inquiry, we subjoin a few passages as illustrations of
its general character.]

I think I could go near to be a perfect Christian if I were always a
visitor, as I have sometimes been, at the house of some hospitable
friend. I can show a great deal of self-denial where the best of
everything is urged upon me with kindly importunity. It is not so very
hard to turn the other cheek for a kiss. And when I meditate upon the
pains taken for our entertainment in this life, on the endless variety
of seasons, of human character and fortune, on the costliness of the
hangings and furniture of our dwelling here, I sometimes feel a singular
joy in looking upon myself as God's guest, and cannot but believe that
we should all be wiser and happier, because more grateful, if we were
always mindful of our privilege in this regard. And should we not rate
more cheaply any honor that men could pay us, if we remembered that
every day we sat at the table of the Great King? Yet must we not forget
that we are in strictest bonds His servants also; for there is no
impiety so abject as that which expects to be _deadheaded (ut ita
dicam)_ through life, and which, calling itself trust in Providence, is
in reality asking Providence to trust us and taking up all our goods on
false pretences. It is a wise rule to take the world as we find it, not
always to leave it so.

It has often set me thinking when I find that I can always pick up
plenty of empty nuts under my shagbark-tree. The squirrels know them by
their lightness, and I have seldom seen one with the marks of their
teeth in it. What a school-house is the world, if our wits would only
not play truant! For I observe that men set most store by forms and
symbols in proportion as they are mere shells. It is the outside they
want and not the kernel. What stores of such do not many, who in
material things are as shrewd as the squirrels, lay up for the spiritual
winter-supply of themselves and their children! I have seen churches
that seemed to me garners of these withered nuts, for it is wonderful
how prosaic is the apprehension of symbols by the minds of most men. It
is not one sect nor another, but all, who, like the dog of the fable,
have let drop the spiritual substance of symbols for their material
shadow. If one attribute miraculous virtues to mere holy water, that
beautiful emblem of inward purification at the door of God's house,
another cannot comprehend the significance of baptism without being
ducked over head and ears in the liquid vehicle thereof.


[Perhaps a word of historical comment may be permitted here. My late
reverend predecessor was, I would humbly affirm, as free from prejudice
as falls to the lot of the most highly favored individuals of our
species. To be sure, I have heard Him say that 'what were called strong
prejudices were in fact only the repulsion of sensitive organizations
from that moral and even physical effluvium through which some natures
by providential appointment, like certain unsavory quadrupeds, gave
warning of their neighborhood. Better ten mistaken suspicions of this
kind than one close encounter.' This he said somewhat in heat, on being
questioned as to his motives for always refusing his pulpit to those
itinerant professors of vicarious benevolence who end their discourses
by taking up a collection. But at another time I remember his saying,
'that there was one large thing which small minds always found room for,
and that was great prejudices.' This, however, by the way. The statement
which I purposed to make was simply this. Down to A.D. 1830, Jaalam had
consisted of a single parish, with one house set apart for religions
services. In that year the foundations of a Baptist Society were laid by
the labors of Elder Joash Q. Balcom, 2d. As the members of the new body
were drawn from the First Parish, Mr. Wilbur was for a time considerably
exercised in mind. He even went so far as on one occasion to follow the
reprehensible practice of the earlier Puritan divines in choosing a
punning text, and preached from Hebrews xiii, 9: 'Be not carried about
with _divers_ and strange doctrines.' He afterwards, in accordance with
one of his own maxims,--'to get a dead injury out of the mind as soon as
is decent, bury it, and then ventilate,'--in accordance with this maxim,
I say, he lived on very friendly terms with Rev. Shearjashub Scrimgour,
present pastor of the Baptist Society in Jaalam. Yet I think it was
never unpleasing to him that the church edifice of that society (though
otherwise a creditable specimen of architecture) remained without a
bell, as indeed it does to this day. So much seemed necessary to do away
with any appearance of acerbity toward a respectable community of
professing Christians, which might be suspected in the conclusion of the
above paragraph.--J.H.]


In lighter moods he was not averse from an innocent play upon words.
Looking up from his newspaper one morning, as I entered his study, he
said, 'When I read a debate in Congress, I feel as if I were sitting at
the feet of Zeno in the shadow of the Portico.' On my expressing a
natural surprise, he added, smiling, 'Why, at such times the only view
which honorable members give me of what goes on in the world is through
their intercalumniations.' I smiled at this after a moment's reflection,
and he added gravely, 'The most punctilious refinement of manners is the
only salt that will keep a democracy from stinking; and what are we to
expect from the people, if their representatives set them such lessons?
Mr. Everett's whole life has been a sermon from this text. There was, at
least, this advantage in duelling, that it set a certain limit on the
tongue. When Society laid by the rapier, it buckled on the more subtle
blade of etiquette wherewith to keep obtrusive vulgarity at bay.' In
this connection, I may be permitted to recall a playful remark of his
upon another occasion. The painful divisions in the First Parish, A.D.
1844, occasioned by the wild notions in respect to the rights of (what
Mr. Wilbur, so far as concerned the reasoning faculty, always called)
the unfairer part of creation, put forth by Miss Parthenia Almira Fitz,
are too well known to need more than a passing allusion. It was during
these heats, long since happily allayed, that Mr. Wilbur remarked that
'the Church had more trouble in dealing with one _she_resiarch than with
twenty _he_resiarchs,' and that the men's _conscia recti_, or certainty
of being right, was nothing to the women's.

When I once asked his opinion of a poetical composition on which I had
expended no little pains, he read it attentively, and then remarked
'Unless one's thought pack more neatly in verse than in prose, it is
wiser to refrain. Commonplace gains nothing by being translated into
rhyme, for it is something which no hocus-pocus can transubstantiate
with the real presence of living thought. You entitle your piece, "My
Mother's Grave," and expend four pages of useful paper in detailing your
emotions there. But, my dear sir, watering does not improve the quality
of ink, even though you should do it with tears. To publish a sorrow to
Tom, Dick, and Harry is in some sort to advertise its unreality, for I
have observed in my intercourse with the afflicted that the deepest
grief instinctively hides its face with its hands and is silent. If your
piece were printed, I have no doubt it would be popular, for people like
to fancy that they feel much better than the trouble of feeling. I would
put all poets on oath whether they have striven to say everything they
possibly could think of, or to leave out all they could not help saying.
In your own case, my worthy young friend, what you have written is
merely a deliberate exercise, the gymnastic of sentiment. For your
excellent maternal relative is still alive, and is to take tea with me
this evening, D.V. Beware of simulated feeling; it is hypocrisy's first
cousin; it is especially dangerous to a preacher; for he who says one
day, "Go to, let me seem to be pathetic," may be nearer than he thinks
to saying, "Go to, let me seem to be virtuous, or earnest, or under
sorrow for sin." Depend upon it, Sappho loved her verses more sincerely
than she did Phaon, and Petrarch his sonnets better than Laura, who was
indeed but his poetical stalking-horse. After you shall have once heard
that muffled rattle of clods on the coffin-lid of an irreparable loss,
you will grow acquainted with a pathos that will make all elegies
hateful. When I was of your age, I also for a time mistook my desire to
write verses for an authentic call of my nature in that direction. But
one day as I was going forth for a walk, with my head full of an "Elegy
on the Death of Flirtilla," and vainly groping after a rhyme for _lily_
that should not be _silly_ or _chilly_, I saw my eldest boy Homer busy
over the rain-water hogshead, in that childish experiment at
parthenogenesis, the changing a horse-hair into a water-snake. All
immersion of six weeks showed no change in the obstinate filament. Here
was a stroke of unintended sarcasm. Had I not been doing in my study
precisely what my boy was doing out of doors? Had my thoughts any more
chance of coming to life by being submerged in rhyme than his hair by
soaking in water? I burned my elegy and took a course of Edwards on the
Will. People do not make poetry; it is made out of _them_ by a process
for which I do not find myself fitted. Nevertheless, the writing of
verses is a good rhetorical exercitation, as teaching us what to shun
most carefully in prose. For prose bewitched is like window-glass with
bubbles in it, distorting what it should show with pellucid veracity.'


It is unwise to insist on doctrinal points as vital to religion. The
Bread of Life is wholesome and sufficing in itself, but gulped down with
these kickshaws cooked up by theologians, it is apt to produce an
indigestion, nay, eyen at last an incurable dyspepsia of scepticism.


One of the most inexcusable weaknesses of Americans is in signing their
names to what are called credentials. But for my interposition, a person
who shall be nameless would have taken from this town a recommendation
for an office of trust subscribed by the selectmen and all the voters of
both parties, ascribing to him as many good qualities as if it had been
his tombstone. The excuse was that it would be well for the town to be
rid of him, as it would erelong be obliged to maintain him. I would not
refuse my name to modest merit, but I would be as cautious as in signing
a bond. [I trust I shall be subjected to no imputation of unbecoming
vanity, if I mention the fact that Mr. W. indorsed my own qualifications
as teacher of the high-school at Pequash Junction. J.H.] When I see a
certificate of character with everybody's name to it, I regard it as a
letter of introduction from the Devil. Never give a man your name unless
you are willing to trust him with your reputation.


There seem nowadays to be two sources of literary inspiration,--fulness
of mind and emptiness of pocket.


I am often struck, especially in reading Montaigne, with the obviousness
and familiarity of a great writer's thoughts, and the freshness they
gain because said by him. The truth is, we mix their greatness with all
they say and give it our best attention. Johannes Faber sic cogitavit
would be no enticing preface to a book, but an accredited name gives
credit like the signature to a note of hand. It is the advantage of fame
that it is always privileged to take the world by the button, and a
thing is weightier for Shakespeare's uttering it by the whole amount of
his personality.


It is singular how impatient men are with overpraise of others, how
patient with overpraise of themselves; and yet the one does them no
injury while the other may he their ruin.


People are apt to confound mere alertness of mind with attention. The
one is but the flying abroad of all the faculties to the open doors and
windows at every passing rumor; the other is the concentration of every
one of them in a single focus, as in the alchemist over his alembic at
the moment of expected projection. Attention is the stuff that memory is
made of, and memory is accumulated genius.


Do not look for the Millennium as imminent. One generation is apt to get
all the wear it can out of the cast clothes of the last, and is always
sure to use up every paling of the old fence that will hold a nail in
building the new.


You suspect a kind of vanity in my genealogical enthusiasm. Perhaps you
are right; but it is a universal foible. Where it does not show itself
in a personal and private way, it becomes public and gregarious. We
flatter ourselves in the Pilgrim Fathers, and the Virginian offshoot of
a transported convict swells with the fancy ef a cavalier ancestry.
Pride of birth, I have noticed, takes two forms. One complacently traces
himself up to a coronet; another, defiantly, to a lapstone. The
sentiment is precisely the same in both cases, only that one is the
positive and the other the negative pole of it.


Seeing a goat the other day kneeling in order to graze with less
trouble, it seemed to me a type of the common notion of prayer. Most
people are ready enough to go down on their knees for material
blessings, but how few for those spiritual gifts which alone are an
answer to our orisons, if we but knew it!


Some people, nowadays, seem to have hit upon a new moralization of the
moth and the candle. They would lock up the light of Truth, lest poor
Psyche should put it out in her effort to draw nigh, to it.



No. X

MR. HOSEA BIGLOW TO THE EDITOR OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY


DEAR SIR,--Your letter come to han'
  Requestin' me to please be funny;
But I ain't made upon a plan
  Thet knows wut's comin', gall or honey:
Ther' 's times the world does look so queer,
  Odd fancies come afore I call 'em;
An' then agin, for half a year,
  No preacher 'thout a call's more solemn.

You're 'n want o' sunthin' light an' cute,
  Rattlin' an' shrewd an' kin' o' jingleish,         10
An' wish, pervidin' it 'ould suit,
  I'd take an' citify my English.
I _ken_ write long-tailed, ef I please,--
  But when I'm jokin', no, I thankee;
Then, fore I know it, my idees
  Run helter-skelter into Yankee.

Sence I begun to scribble rhyme,
  I tell ye wut, I hain't ben foolin';
The parson's books, life, death, an' time
  Hev took some trouble with my schoolin';           20
Nor th' airth don't git put out with me,
  Thet love her 'z though she wuz a woman;
Why, th' ain't a bird upon the tree
  But half forgives my bein' human.


An' yit I love th' unhighschooled way
  Ol' farmers hed when I wuz younger;
Their talk wuz meatier, an' 'ould stay,
  While book-froth seems to whet your hunger;
For puttin' in a downright lick
  'twixt Humbug's eyes, ther' 's few can metch it,     30
An' then it helves my thoughts ez slick
  Ez stret-grained hickory does a hetchet.

But when I can't, I can't, thet's all,
  For Natur' won't put up with gullin';
Idees you hev to shove an' haul
  Like a druv pig ain't wuth a mullein:
Live thoughts ain't sent for; thru all rifts
  O' sense they pour an' resh ye onwards,
Like rivers when south-lyin' drifts
  Feel thet th' old arth's a-wheelin' sunwards.     40

Time wuz, the rhymes come crowdin' thick
  Ez office-seekers arter 'lection,
An' into ary place 'ould stick
  Without no bother nor objection;
But sence the war my thoughts hang back
  Ez though I wanted to enlist 'em,
An' subs'tutes,--_they_ don't never lack,
  But then they'll slope afore you've mist 'em.

Nothin' don't seem like wut it wuz;
  I can't see wut there is to hender,               50
An' yit my brains jes' go buzz, buzz,
  Like bumblebees agin a winder;
'fore these times come, in all airth's row,
  Ther' wuz one quiet place, my head in,
Where I could hide an' think,--but now
  It's all one teeter, hopin', dreadin'.

Where's Peace? I start, some clear-blown night,
  When gaunt stone walls grow numb an' number,
An' creakin' 'cross the snow-crus' white,
  Walk the col' starlight into summer;              60
Up grows the moon, an' swell by swell
  Thru the pale pasturs silvers dimmer
Than the last smile thet strives to tell
  O' love gone heavenward in its shimmer.

I hev been gladder o' sech things
  Than cocks o' spring or bees o' clover,
They filled my heart with livin' springs,
  But now they seem to freeze 'em over;
Sights innercent ez babes on knee,
  Peaceful ez eyes o' pastur'd cattle,              70
Jes' coz they be so, seem to me
  To rile me more with thoughts o' battle.

Indoors an' out by spells I try;
  Ma'am Natur' keeps her spin-wheel goin',
But leaves my natur' stiff and dry
  Ez fiel's o' clover arter mowin';
An' her jes' keepin' on the same,
  Calmer 'n a clock, an' never carin'
An' findin' nary thing to blame,
  Is wus than ef she took to swearin'.              80

Snow-flakes come whisperin' on the pane
  The charm makes blazin' logs so pleasant,
But I can't hark to wut they're say'n',
  With Grant or Sherman ollers present;
The chimbleys shudder in the gale,
  Thet lulls, then suddin takes to flappin'
Like a shot hawk, but all's ez stale
  To me ez so much sperit-rappin'.

Under the yaller-pines I house,
  When sunshine makes 'em all sweet-scented,        90
An' hear among their furry boughs
  The baskin' west-wind purr contented,
While 'way o'erhead, ez sweet an' low
  Ez distant bells thet ring for meetin',
The wedged wil' geese their bugles blow,
  Further an' further South retreatin'.

Or up the slippery knob I strain
  An' see a hundred hills like islan's
Lift their blue woods in broken chain
  Out o' the sea o' snowy silence;                 100
The farm-smokes, sweetes' sight on airth,
  Slow thru the winter air a-shrinkin'
Seem kin' o' sad, an' roun' the hearth
  Of empty places set me thinkin'.

Beaver roars hoarse with meltin' snows,
  An' rattles di'mon's from his granite;
Time wuz, he snatched away my prose,
  An' into psalms or satires ran it;
But he, nor all the rest thet once
  Started my blood to country-dances,            110
Can't set me goin' more 'n a dunce
  Thet hain't no use for dreams an' fancies.

Rat-tat-tat-tattle thru the street
  I hear the drummers makin' riot,
An' I set thinkin' o' the feet
  Thet follered once an' now are quiet,--
White feet ez snowdrops innercent,
  Thet never knowed the paths o' Satan,
Whose comin' step ther' 's ears thet won't,
  No, not lifelong, leave off awaitin',          120

Why, hain't I held 'em on my knee?
  Didn't I love to see 'em growin',
Three likely lads ez wal could be,
  Hahnsome an' brave an' not tu knowin'?
I set an' look into the blaze
  Whose natur', jes' like theirn, keeps climbin',
Ez long 'z it lives, in shinin' ways,
  An' half despise myself for rhymin'.

Wut's words to them whose faith an' truth
  On War's red techstone rang true metal,        130
Who ventered life an' love an' youth
  For the gret prize o' death in battle?
To him who, deadly hurt, agen
  Flashed on afore the charge's thunder,
Tippin' with fire the bolt of men
  Thet rived the Rebel line asunder?

'Tain't right to hev the young go fust,
  All throbbin' full o' gifts an' graces,
Leavin' life's paupers dry ez dust
  To try an' make b'lieve fill their places:     140
Nothin' but tells us wut we miss,
  Ther' 's gaps our lives can't never fay in,
An' _thet_ world seems so fur from this
  Lef' for us loafers to grow gray in!

My eyes cloud up for rain; my mouth
  Will take to twitchin' roun' the corners;
I pity mothers, tu, down South,
  For all they sot among the scorners:
I'd sooner take my chance to stan'
  At Jedgment where your meanest slave is,       150
Than at God's bar hol' up a han'
  Ez drippin' red ez yourn, Jeff Davis!

Come, Peace! not like a mourner bowed
  For honor lost an' dear ones wasted,
But proud, to meet a people proud,
  With eyes thet tell o' triumph tasted!
Come, with han' grippin' on the hilt,
  An' step thet proves ye Victory's daughter!
Longin' for you, our sperits wilt
  Like shipwrecked men's on raf's for water.     160

Come, while our country feels the lift
 Of a gret instinct shoutin' 'Forwards!'
An' knows thet freedom ain't a gift
 Thet tarries long in han's o' cowards!
Come, sech ez mothers prayed for, when
 They kissed their cross with lips thet quivered,
An' bring fair wages for brave men,
 A nation saved, a race delivered!



No. XI

MR. HOSEA BIGLOW'S SPEECH IN MARCH MEETING

TO THE EDITOR OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY

JAALAM, April 5, 1866.


MY DEAR SIR,--

(an' noticin' by your kiver thet you're some dearer than wut you wuz, I
enclose the deffrence) I dunno ez I know Jest how to interdoose this
las' perduction of my mews, ez Parson Wilber allus called 'em, which is
goin' to _be_ the last an' _stay_ the last onless sunthin' pertikler
sh'd interfear which I don't expec' ner I wun't yield tu ef it wuz ez
pressin' ez a deppity Shiriff. Sence Mr. Wilbur's disease I hevn't hed
no one thet could dror out my talons. He ust to kind o' wine me up an'
set the penderlum agoin' an' then somehow I seemed to go on tick as it
wear tell I run down, but the noo minister ain't of the same brewin' nor
I can't seem to git ahold of no kine of huming nater in him but sort of
slide rite off as you du on the eedge of a mow. Minnysteeril natur is
wal enough an' a site better'n most other kines I know on, but the other
sort sech as Welbor hed wuz of the Lord's makin' an' naterally more
wonderfle an' sweet tastin' leastways to me so fur as heerd from. He
used to interdooce 'em smooth ez ile athout sayin' nothin' in pertickler
an' I misdoubt he didn't set so much by the sec'nd Ceres as wut he done
by the Fust, fact, he let on onct thet his mine misgive him of a sort of
fallin' off in spots. He wuz as outspoken as a norwester _he_ wuz, but I
tole him I hoped the fall wuz from so high up thet a feller could ketch
a good many times fust afore comin' bunt onto the ground as I see Jethro
C. Swett from the meetin' house steeple up to th' old perrish, an' took
up for dead but he's alive now an' spry as wut you be. Turnin' of it
over I recelected how they ust to put wut they called Argymunce onto the
frunts of poymns, like poorches afore housen whare you could rest ye a
spell whilst you wuz concludin' whether you'd go in or nut espeshully
ware tha wuz darters, though I most allus found it the best plen to go
in fust an' think afterwards an' the gals likes it best tu. I dno as
speechis ever hez any argimunts to 'em, I never see none thet hed an' I
guess they never du but tha must allus be a B'ginnin' to everythin'
athout it is Etarnity so I'll begin rite away an' anybody may put it
afore any of his speeches ef it soots an' welcome. I don't claim no
paytent.

THE ARGYMUNT

Interducshin, w'ich may be skipt. Begins by talkin' about himself:
thet's jest natur an' most gin'ally allus pleasin', I b'leeve I've
notist, to _one_ of the cumpany, an' thet's more than wut you can say of
most speshes of talkin'. Nex' comes the gittin' the goodwill of the
orjunce by lettin' 'em gether from wut you kind of ex'dentally let drop
thet they air about East, A one, an' no mistaik, skare 'em up an' take
'em as they rise. Spring interdooced with a fiew approput flours. Speach
finally begins witch nobuddy needn't feel obolygated to read as I never
read 'em an' never shell this one ag'in. Subjick staited; expanded;
delayted; extended. Pump lively. Subjick staited ag'in so's to avide all
mistaiks. Ginnle remarks; continooed; kerried on; pushed furder; kind o'
gin out. Subjick _re_staited; dielooted; stirred up permiscoous. Pump
ag'in. Gits back to where he sot out. Can't seem to stay thair. Ketches
into Mr. Seaward's hair. Breaks loose ag'in an' staits his subjick;
stretches it; turns it; folds it; onfolds it; folds it ag'in so's't, no
one can't find it. Argoos with an imedginary bean thet ain't aloud to
say nothin' in replye. Gives him a real good dressin' an' is settysfide
he's rite. Gits into Johnson's hair. No use tryin' to git into his head.
Gives it up. Hez to stait his subjick ag'in; doos it back'ards,
sideways, eendways, criss-cross, bevellin', noways. Gits finally red on
it. Concloods. Concloods more. Reads some xtrax. Sees his subjick
a-nosin' round arter him ag'in. Tries to avide it. Wun't du. _Mis_states
it. Can't conjectur' no other plawsable way of staytin' on it. Tries
pump. No fx. Finely concloods to conclood. Yeels the flore.

You kin spall an' punctooate thet as you please. I allus do, it kind of
puts a noo soot of close onto a word, thisere funattick spellin' doos
an' takes 'em out of the prissen dress they wair in the Dixonary. Ef I
squeeze the cents out of 'em it's the main thing, an' wut they wuz made
for: wut's left's jest pummis.

Mistur Wilbur sez he to me onct, sez he, 'Hosee,' sez he, 'in
litterytoor the only good thing is Natur. It's amazin' hard to come at,'
sez he, 'but onct git it an' you've gut everythin'. Wut's the sweetest
small on airth?' sez he. 'Noomone hay,' sez I, pooty bresk, for he wuz
allus hankerin' round in hayin'. 'Nawthin' of the kine,' sez he. 'My
leetle Huldy's breath,' sez I ag'in. 'You're a good lad,' sez he, his
eyes sort of ripplin' like, for he lost a babe onct nigh about her
age,--'you're a good lad; but 'tain't thet nuther,' sez he. 'Ef you want
to know,' sez he, 'open your winder of a mornin' et ary season, and
you'll larn thet the best of perfooms is jest fresh air, _fresh air_,'
sez he, emphysizin', 'athout no mixtur. Thet's wut _I_ call natur in
writin', and it bathes my lungs and washes 'em sweet whenever I git a
whiff on 't.' sez he. I often think o' thet when I set down to write but
the winders air so ept to git stuck, an' breakin' a pane costs sunthin'.

Yourn for the last time,

_Nut_ to be continooed,

HOSEA BIGLOW.


I don't much s'pose, hows'ever I should plen it,
I could git boosted into th' House or Sennit,--
Nut while the twolegged gab-machine's so plenty,
'nablin' one man to du the talk o' twenty;
I'm one o' them thet finds it ruther hard
To mannyfactur' wisdom by the yard,
An' maysure off, accordin' to demand,
The piece-goods el'kence that I keep on hand,
The same ole pattern runnin' thru an' thru,
An' nothin' but the customer thet's new.             10
I sometimes think, the furder on I go,
Thet it gits harder to feel sure I know,
An' when I've settled my idees, I find
'twarn't I sheered most in makin' up my mind;
'twuz this an' thet an' t'other thing thet done it,
Sunthin' in th' air, I couldn' seek nor shun it.
Mos' folks go off so quick now in discussion,
All th' ole flint-locks seems altered to percussion,
Whilst I in agin' sometimes git a hint,
Thet I'm percussion changin' back to flint;          20
Wal, ef it's so, I ain't agoin' to werrit,
For th' ole Queen's-arm hez this pertickler merit,--
It gives the mind a hahnsome wedth o' margin
To kin' o make its will afore dischargin':
I can't make out but jest one ginnle rule,--
No man need go an' _make_ himself a fool,
Nor jedgment ain't like mutton, thet can't bear
Cookin' tu long, nor be took up tu rare.

Ez I wuz say'n', I hain't no chance to speak
So's't all the country dreads me onct a week,        30
But I've consid'ble o' thet sort o' head
Thet sets to home an' thinks wut _might_ be said,
The sense thet grows an' werrits underneath,
Comin' belated like your wisdom-teeth,
An' git so el'kent, sometimes, to my gardin
Thet I don' vally public life a fardin'.
Our Parson Wilbur (blessin's on his head!)
'mongst other stories of ole times he hed,
Talked of a feller thet rehearsed his spreads
Beforehan' to his rows o' kebbige-heads,             40
(Ef 'twarn't Demossenes, I guess 'twuz Sisro,)
Appealin' fust to thet an' then to this row,
Accordin' ez he thought thet his idees
Their diff'runt ev'riges o' brains 'ould please;
'An',' sez the Parson, 'to hit right, you must
Git used to maysurin' your hearers fust;
For, take my word for 't, when all's come an' past,
The kebbige-heads'll cair the day et last;
Th' ain't ben a meetin' sence the worl' begun
But they made (raw or biled ones) ten to one.'      50

I've allus foun' 'em, I allow, sence then
About ez good for talkin' tu ez men;
They'll take edvice, like other folks, to keep,
(To use it 'ould be holdin' on 't tu cheap,)
They listen wal, don' kick up when you scold 'em,
An' ef they've tongues, hev sense enough to hold 'em;
Though th' ain't no denger we shall lose the breed,
I gin'lly keep a score or so for seed,
An' when my sappiness gits spry in spring,
So's't my tongue itches to run on full swing,       60
I fin' 'em ready-planted in March-meetin',
Warm ez a lyceum-audience in their greetin',
An' pleased to hear my spoutin' frum the fence,--
Comin', ez 't doos, entirely free 'f expense.
This year I made the follerin' observations
Extrump'ry, like most other tri'ls o' patience,
An', no reporters bein' sent express
To work their abstrac's up into a mess
Ez like th' oridg'nal ez a woodcut pictur'
Thet chokes the life out like a boy-constrictor,     70
I've writ 'em out, an' so avide all jeal'sies
'twixt nonsense o' my own an' some one's else's.

(N.B. Reporters gin'lly git a hint
To make dull orjunces seem 'live in print,
An', ez I hev t' report myself, I vum,
I'll put th' applauses where they'd _ough' to_ come!)


MY FELLER KEBBIGE-HEADS, who look so green,
I vow to gracious thet ef I could dreen
The world of all its hearers but jest you,
'twould leave 'bout all tha' is wuth talkin' to,     80
An' you, my ven'able ol' frien's, thet show
Upon your crowns a sprinklin' o' March snow,
Ez ef mild Time had christened every sense
For wisdom's church o' second innocence.
Nut Age's winter, no, no sech a thing,
But jest a kin' o' slippin'-back o' spring,--
                  [Sev'ril noses blowed.]
We've gathered here, ez ushle, to decide
Which is the Lord's an' which is Satan's side,
Coz all the good or evil thet can heppen
Is 'long o' which on 'em you choose for Cappen.
                  [Cries o' 'Thet's so.']

Aprul's come back; the swellin' buds of oak         91
Dim the fur hillsides with a purplish smoke;
The brooks are loose an', singing to be seen,
(Like gals,) make all the hollers soft an' green;
The birds are here, for all the season's late;
They take the sun's height an' don' never wait;
Soon 'z he officially declares it's spring
Their light hearts lift 'em on a north'ard wing,
An' th' ain't an acre, fur ez you can hear,
Can't by the music tell the time o' year;          100
But thet white dove Carliny seared away,
Five year ago, jes' sech an Aprul day;
Peace, that we hoped 'ould come an' build last year
An' coo by every housedoor, isn't here,--
No, nor wun't never be, for all our jaw,
Till we're ez brave in pol'tics ez in war!
O Lord, ef folks wuz made so's't they could see
The begnet-pint there is to an idee!    [Sensation.]
Ten times the danger in 'em th' is in steel;
They run your soul thru an' you never feel,         110
But crawl about an' seem to think you're livin',
Poor shells o' men, nut wuth the Lord's forgivin',
Tell you come bunt ag'in a real live feet,
An' go to pieces when you'd ough' to ect!
Thet kin' o' begnet's wut we're crossin' now,
An' no man, fit to nevvigate a scow,
'ould stan' expectin' help from Kingdom Come,
While t'other side druv their cold iron home.

My frien's, you never gethered from my mouth,
No, nut one word ag'in the South ez South,          120
Nor th' ain't a livin' man, white, brown, nor black,
Gladder 'n wut I should be to take 'em back;
But all I ask of Uncle Sam is fust
To write up on his door, 'No goods on trust';
                  [Cries o' 'Thet's the ticket!']
Give us cash down in ekle laws for all,
An' they'll be snug inside afore nex' fall.
Give wut they ask, an' we shell hev Jamaker,
Wuth minus some consid'able an acre;
Give wut they need, an' we shell git 'fore long
A nation all one piece, rich, peacefle, strong;     130
Make 'em Amerikin, an' they'll begin
To love their country ez they loved their sin;
Let 'em stay Southun, an' you've kep' a sore
Ready to fester ez it done afore.
No mortle man can boast of perfic' vision,
But the one moleblin' thing is Indecision,
An' th' ain't no futur' for the man nor state
Thet out of j-u-s-t can't spell great.
Some folks 'ould call thet reddikle, do you?
'Twas commonsense afore the war wuz thru;           140
_Thet_ loaded all our guns an' made 'em speak
So's't Europe heared 'em clearn acrost the creek;
'They're drivin' o' their spiles down now,' sez she,
'To the hard grennit o' God's fust idee;
Ef they reach thet, Democ'cy needn't fear
The tallest airthquakes _we_ can git up here.'
Some call 't insultin' to ask _ary_ pledge,
An' say 'twill only set their teeth on edge,
But folks you've jest licked, fur 'z I ever see,
Are 'bout ez mad 'z they wal know how to be;        150
It's better than the Rebs themselves expected
'fore they see Uncle Sam wilt down henpected;
Be kind 'z you please, but fustly make things fast,
For plain Truth's all the kindness thet'll last;
Ef treason is a crime, ez _some_ folks say,
How could we punish it in a milder way
Than sayin' to 'em, 'Brethren, lookee here,
We'll jes' divide things with ye, sheer an' sheer,
An' sence both come o' pooty strong-backed daddies,
You take the Darkies, ez we've took the Paddies;         160
Ign'ant an' poor we took 'em by the hand,
An' they're the bones an' sinners o' the land,'
I ain't o' them thet fancy there's a loss on
Every inves'ment thet don't start from Bos'on;
But I know this: our money's safest trusted
In sunthin', come wut will, thet _can't_ be busted,
An' thet's the old Amerikin idee,
To make a man a Man an' let him be.     [Gret applause.]

Ez for their l'yalty, don't take a goad to 't,
But I do' want to block their only road to 't             170
By lettin' 'em believe thet they can git
Mor'n wut they lost, out of our little wit:
I tell ye wut, I'm 'fraid we'll drif' to leeward
'thout we can put more stiffenin' into Seward;
He seems to think Columby'd better ect
Like a scared widder with a boy stiff-necked
Thet stomps an' swears he wun't come in to supper;
She mus' set up for him, ez weak ez Tupper,
Keepin' the Constitootion on to warm,
Tell he'll eccept her 'pologies in form:                 180
The neighbors tell her he's a cross-grained cuss
Thet needs a hidin' 'fore he comes to wus;
'No,' sez Ma Seward, 'he's ez good 'z the best,
All he wants now is sugar-plums an' rest;'
'He sarsed my Pa,' sez one; 'He stoned my son,'
Another edds, 'Oh wal, 'twuz jes' his fun.'
'He tried to shoot our Uncle Samwell dead.'
''Twuz only tryin' a noo gun he hed.'
'Wal, all we ask's to hev it understood
You'll take his gun away from him for good;              190
We don't, wal, nut exac'ly, like his play,
Seem' he allus kin' o' shoots our way.
You kill your fatted calves to no good eend,
'thout his fust sayin', "Mother, I hev sinned!"'
                  ['Amen!' frum Deac'n Greenleaf]

The Pres'dunt _he_ thinks thet the slickest plan
'ould be t' allow thet he's our on'y man,
An' thet we fit thru all thet dreffle war
Jes' for his private glory an' eclor;
'Nobody ain't a Union man,' sez he,
''thout he agrees, thru thick an' thin, with me;        200
Warn't Andrew Jackson's 'nitials jes' like mine?
An' ain't thet sunthin' like a right divine
To cut up ez kentenkerous ez I please,
An' treat your Congress like a nest o' fleas?'
Wal, I expec' the People wouldn' care, if
The question now wuz techin' bank or tariff,
But I conclude they've 'bout made up their min'
This ain't the fittest time to go it blin',
Nor these ain't metters thet with pol'tics swings,
But goes 'way down amongst the roots o' things;     210
Coz Sumner talked o' whitewashin' one day
They wun't let four years' war be throwed away.
'Let the South hev her rights?' They say, 'Thet's you!
But nut greb hold of other folks's tu.'
Who owns this country, is it they or Andy?
Leastways it ough' to be the People _and_ he;
Let him be senior pardner, ef he's so,
But let them kin' o' smuggle in ez Co;     [Laughter.]
Did he diskiver it? Consid'ble numbers
Think thet the job wuz taken by Columbus.           220
Did he set tu an' make it wut it is?
Ef so, I guess the One-Man-power _hez_ riz.
Did he put thru the rebbles, clear the docket,
An' pay th' expenses out of his own pocket?
Ef thet's the case, then everythin' I exes
Is t' hev him come an' pay my ennooal texes.
                  [Profoun' sensation.]
Was 't he thet shou'dered all them million guns?
Did he lose all the fathers, brothers, sons?
Is this ere pop'lar gov'ment thet we run
A kin' o' sulky, made to kerry one?                 230
An' is the country goin' to knuckle down
To hev Smith sort their letters 'stid o'Brown?
Who wuz the 'Nited States 'fore Richmon' fell?
Wuz the South needfle their full name to spell?
An' can't we spell it in thet short-han' way
Till th' underpinnin's settled so's to stay?
Who cares for the Resolves of '61,
Thet tried to coax an airthquake with a bun?
Hez act'ly nothin' taken place sence then
To larn folks they must hendle fects like men?      240
Ain't _this_ the true p'int? Did the Rebs accep' 'em?
Ef nut, whose fault is 't thet we hevn't kep 'em?
Warn't there _two_ sides? an' don't it stend to reason
Thet this week's 'Nited States ain't las' week's treason?
When all these sums is done, with nothin' missed,
An' nut afore, this school 'll be dismissed.

I knowed ez wal ez though I'd seen 't with eyes
Thet when the war wuz over copper'd rise,
An' thet we'd hev a rile-up in our kettle
'twould need Leviathan's whole skin to settle:     250
I thought 'twould take about a generation
'fore we could wal begin to be a nation,
But I allow I never did imegine
'twould be our Pres'dunt thet 'ould drive a wedge in
To keep the split from closin' ef it could.
An' healin' over with new wholesome wood;
For th' ain't no chance o' healin' while they think
Thet law an' gov'ment's only printer's ink;
I mus' confess I thank him for discoverin'
The curus way in which the States are sovereign;     260
They ain't nut _quite_ enough so to rebel,
But, when they fin' it's costly to raise h----,
                  [A groan from Deac'n G.]
Why, then, for jes' the same superl'tive reason,
They're 'most too much so to be tetched for treason;
They _can't_ go out, but ef they somehow _du_,
Their sovereignty don't noways go out tu;
The State goes out, the sovereignty don't stir,
But stays to keep the door ajar for her.
He thinks secession never took 'em out,
An' mebby he's correc', but I misdoubt?             270
Ef they warn't out, then why, 'n the name o' sin,
Make all this row 'bout lettin' of 'em in?
In law, p'r'aps nut; but there's a diffurence, ruther,
Betwixt your mother-'n-law an' real mother,
                  [Derisive cheers.]
An' I, for one, shall wish they'd all ben _som'eres_,
Long 'z U.S. Texes are sech reg'lar comers.
But, O my patience! must we wriggle back
Into th' ole crooked, pettyfoggin' track,
When our artil'ry-wheels a road hev cut
Stret to our purpose ef we keep the rut?            280
War's jes' dead waste excep' to wipe the slate
Clean for the cyph'rin' of some nobler fate.
                  [Applause.]
Ez for dependin' on their oaths an' thet,
'twun't bind 'em more 'n the ribbin roun' my het:
I heared a fable once from Othniel Starns,
That pints it slick ez weathercocks do barns;
Onct on a time the wolves hed certing rights
Inside the fold; they used to sleep there nights,
An' bein' cousins o' the dogs, they took
Their turns et watchin', reg'lar ez a book;         290
But somehow, when the dogs hed gut asleep,
Their love o' mutton beat their love o' sheep,
Till gradilly the shepherds come to see
Things warn't agoin' ez they'd ough' to be;
So they sent off a deacon to remonstrate
Along 'th the wolves an' urge 'em to go on straight;
They didn't seem to set much by the deacon,
Nor preachin' didn' cow 'em, nut to speak on;
Fin'ly they swore thet they'd go out an' stay,
An' hev their fill o' mutton every day;             300
Then dogs an' shepherds, after much hard dammin',
                  [Groan from Deac'n G.]
Turned tu an' give 'em a tormented lammin',
An' sez, 'Ye sha'n't go out, the murrain rot ye,
To keep us wastin' half our time to watch ye!'
But then the question come, How live together
'thout losin' sleep, nor nary yew nor wether?
Now there wuz some dogs (noways wuth their keep)
Thet sheered their cousins' tastes an' sheered the sheep;
They sez, 'Be gin'rous, let 'em swear right in,
An', ef they backslide, let 'em swear ag'in;        310
Jes' let 'em put on sheep-skins whilst they're swearin';
To ask for more 'ould be beyond all bearin'.'
'Be gin'rous for yourselves, where _you_'re to pay,
Thet's the best prectice,' sez a shepherd gray;
'Ez for their oaths they wun't be wuth a button,
Long 'z you don't cure 'em o' their taste for mutton;
Th' ain't but one solid way, howe'er you puzzle:
Tell they're convarted, let 'em wear a muzzle.'
                  [Cries of 'Bully for you!']

I've noticed thet each half-baked scheme's abetters
Are in the hebbit o' producin' letters              320
Writ by all sorts o' never-heared-on fellers,
'bout ez oridge'nal ez the wind in bellers;
I've noticed, tu, it's the quack med'cine gits
(An' needs) the grettest heaps o' stiffykits;
                  [Two pothekeries goes out.]
Now, sence I lef off creepin' on all fours,
I hain't ast no man to endorse my course;
It's full ez cheap to be your own endorser,
An' ef I've made a cup, I'll fin' the saucer;
But I've some letters here from t'other side,
An' them's the sort thet helps me to decide;        330
Tell me for wut the copper-comp'nies hanker,
An' I'll tell you jest where it's safe to anchor.      [Faint hiss.]
Fus'ly the Hon'ble B.O. Sawin writes
Thet for a spell he couldn't sleep o' nights,
Puzzlin' which side wuz preudentest to pin to,
Which wuz th' ole homestead, which the temp'ry leanto;
Et fust he jedged 'twould right-side-up his pan
To come out ez a 'ridge'nal Union man,
'But now,' he sez, 'I ain't nut quite so fresh;
The winnin' horse is goin' to be Secesh;            340
You might, las' spring, hev eas'ly walked the course,
'fore we contrived to doctor th' Union horse;
Now _we_'re the ones to walk aroun' the nex' track:
Jest you take hol' an' read the follerin' extrac',
Out of a letter I received last week
From an ole frien' thet never sprung a leak,
A Nothun Dem'crat o' th' ole Jarsey blue,
Born copper-sheathed an' copper-fastened tu.'

'These four years past it hez ben tough
To say which side a feller went for;                350
Guideposts all gone, roads muddy 'n' rough,
An' nothin' duin' wut 'twuz meant for;
Pickets a-firin' left an' right,
Both sides a lettin' rip et sight,--
Life warn't wuth hardly payin' rent for.

'Columby gut her back up so,
It warn't no use a-tryin' to stop her,--
War's emptin's riled her very dough
An' made it rise an' act improper;
'Twuz full ez much ez I could du                   360
To jes' lay low an' worry thru,
'Thout hevin' to sell out my copper.

'Afore the war your mod'rit men,
Could set an' sun 'em on the fences,
Cyph'rin' the chances up, an' then
Jump off which way bes' paid expenses;
Sence, 'twuz so resky ary way,
_I_ didn't hardly darst to say
I 'greed with Paley's Evidences.
                  [Groan from Deac'n G.]

'Ask Mac ef tryin' to set the fence                370
Warn't like bein' rid upon a rail on 't,
Headin' your party with a sense
O' bein' tipjint in the tail on 't,
An' tryin' to think thet, on the whole,
You kin' o' quasi own your soul
When Belmont's gut a bill o' sale on 't?
                  [Three cheers for Grant and Sherman.]

'Come peace, I sposed thet folks 'ould like
Their pol'tics done ag'in by proxy;
Give their noo loves the bag an' strike
A fresh trade with their reg'lar doxy;             380
But the drag's broke, now slavery's gone,
An' there's gret resk they'll blunder on,
Ef they ain't stopped, to real Democ'cy.

'We've gut an awful row to hoe
In this 'ere job o' reconstructin';
Folks dunno skurce which way to go,
Where th' ain't some boghole to be ducked in;
But one thing's clear; there _is_ a crack,
Ef we pry hard, 'twixt white an' black,
Where the ole makebate can be tucked in.           390

'No white man sets in airth's broad aisle
Thet I ain't willin' t' own ez brother,
An' ef he's happened to strike ile,
I dunno, fin'ly, but I'd ruther;
An' Paddies, long 'z they vote all right,
Though they ain't jest a nat'ral white,
I hold one on 'em good 'z another,
                  [Applause.]

'Wut _is_ there lef I'd like to know,
Ef 'tain't the defference o' color,
To keep up self-respec' an' show                   400
The human natur' of a fullah?
Wut good in bein' white, onless
It's fixed by law, nut lef' to guess,
We're a heap smarter an' they duller?

'Ef we're to hev our ekle rights,
'twun't du to 'low no competition;
Th' ole debt doo us for bein' whites
Ain't safe onless we stop th' emission
O' these noo notes, whose specie base
Is human natur', thout no trace                     410
O' shape, nor color, nor condition.
                  [Continood applause.]

'So fur I'd writ an' couldn' jedge
Aboard wut boat I'd best take pessige,
My brains all mincemeat, 'thout no edge
Upon 'em more than tu a sessige,
But now it seems ez though I see
Sunthin' resemblin' an idee,
Sence Johnson's speech an' veto message.

'I like the speech best, I confess,
The logic, preudence, an' good taste on 't;        420
An' it's so mad, I ruther guess
There's some dependence to be placed on 't;     [Laughter.]
It's narrer, but 'twixt you an' me,
Out o' the allies o' J.D.
A temp'ry party can be based on 't.

'Jes' to hold on till Johnson's thru
An' dug his Presidential grave is,
An' _then!_--who knows but we could slew
The country roun' to put in----?
Wun't some folks rare up when we pull              430
Out o' their eyes our Union wool
An' larn 'em wut a p'lit'cle shave is!

'Oh, did it seem 'z ef Providunce
_Could_ ever send a second Tyler?
To see the South all back to once,
Reapin' the spiles o' the Free-siler,
Is cute ez though an ingineer
Should claim th' old iron for his sheer
Coz 'twas himself that bust the biler!'
                  [Gret laughter.]

Thet tells the story! Thet's wut we shall git      440
By tryin' squirtguns on the burnin' Pit;
For the day never comes when it'll du
To kick off Dooty like a worn-out shoe.
I seem to hear a whisperin' in the air,
A sighin' like, of unconsoled despair,
Thet comes from nowhere an' from everywhere,
An' seems to say, 'Why died we? warn't it, then,
To settle, once for all, thet men wuz men?
Oh, airth's sweet cup snetched from us barely tasted,
The grave's real chill is feelin' life wuz wasted!     450
Oh, you we lef', long-lingerin' et the door,
Lovin' you best, coz we loved Her the more,
Thet Death, not we, had conquered, we should feel
Ef she upon our memory turned her heel,
An' unregretful throwed us all away
To flaunt it in a Blind Man's Holiday!'

My frien's, I've talked nigh on to long enough.
I hain't no call to bore ye coz ye're tough;
My lungs are sound, an' our own v'ice delights
Our ears, but even kebbige-heads hez rights.       460
It's the las' time thet I shell e'er address ye,
But you'll soon fin' some new tormentor: bless ye!
    [Tumult'ous applause and cries of 'Go on!' 'Don't stop!']



UNDER THE WILLOWS AND OTHER POEMS



TO CHARLES ELIOT NORTON

AGRO DOLCE

The wind is roistering out of doors,
My windows shake and my chimney roars;
My Elmwood chimneys seem crooning to me,
As of old, in their moody, minor key,
And out of the past the hoarse wind blows,
As I sit in my arm-chair, and toast my toes.

'Ho! ho! nine-and-forty,' they seem to sing,
'We saw you a little toddling thing.
We knew you child and youth and man,
A wonderful fellow to dream and plan,
With a great thing always to come,--who knows?
Well, well! 'tis some comfort to toast one's toes.

'How many times have you sat at gaze
Till the mouldering fire forgot to blaze,
Shaping among the whimsical coals
Fancies and figures and shining goals!
What matters the ashes that cover those?
While hickory lasts you can toast your toes.

'O dream-ship-builder: where are they all,
Your grand three-deckers, deep-chested and tall,
That should crush the waves under canvas piles,
And anchor at last by the Fortunate Isles?
There's gray in your beard, the years turn foes,
While you muse in your arm-chair, and toast your toes.'

I sit and dream that I hear, as of yore,
My Elmwood chimneys' deep-throated roar;
If much be gone, there is much remains;
By the embers of loss I count my gains,
You and yours with the best, till the old hope glows
In the fanciful flame, as I toast my toes.

Instead of a fleet of broad-browed ships,
To send a child's armada of chips!
Instead of the great gun, tier on tier,
A freight of pebbles and grass-blades sere!
'Well, maybe more love with the less gift goes,'
I growl, as, half moody, I toast my toes.



UNDER THE WILLOWS

Frank-hearted hostess of the field and wood,
Gypsy, whose roof is every spreading tree,
June is the pearl of our New England year.
Still a surprisal, though expected long.
Her coming startles. Long she lies in wait,
Makes many a feint, peeps forth, draws coyly back,
Then, from some southern ambush in the sky,
With one great gush of blossom storms the world.
A week ago the sparrow was divine;
The bluebird, shifting his light load of song        10
From post to post along the cheerless fence,
Was as a rhymer ere the poet come;
But now, oh rapture! sunshine winged and voiced,
Pipe blown through by the warm wild breath of the West
Shepherding his soft droves of fleecy cloud,
Gladness of woods, skies, waters, all in one,
The bobolink has come, and, like the soul
Of the sweet season vocal in a bird,
Gurgles in ecstasy we know not what
Save _June! Dear June! Now God be praised for June_.      20

May is a pious fraud of the almanac,
A ghastly parody of real Spring
Shaped out of snow and breathed with eastern wind;
Or if, o'er-confident, she trust the date,
And, with her handful of anemones,
Herself as shivery, steal into the sun,
The season need but turn his hour-glass round,
And Winter suddenly, like crazy Lear,
Reels back, and brings the dead May in his arms,
Her budding breasts and wan dislustred front        30
With frosty streaks and drifts of his white beard
All overblown. Then, warmly walled with books,
While my wood-fire supplies the sun's defect,
Whispering old forest-sagas in its dreams,
I take my May down from the happy shelf
Where perch the world's rare song-birds in a row,
Waiting my choice to open with full breast,
And beg an alms of springtime, ne'er denied
Indoors by vernal Chaucer, whose fresh woods
Throb thick with merle and mavis all the year.      40

July breathes hot, sallows the crispy fields,
Curls up the wan leaves of the lilac-hedge,
And every eve cheats us with show of clouds
That braze the horizon's western rim, or hang
Motionless, with heaped canvas drooping idly,
Like a dim fleet by starving men besieged,
Conjectured half, and half descried afar,
Helpless of wind, and seeming to slip back
Adown the smooth curve of the oily sea.

But June is full of invitations sweet,              50
Forth from the chimney's yawn and thrice-read tomes
To leisurely delights and sauntering thoughts
That brook no ceiling narrower than the blue.
The cherry, drest for bridal, at my pane
Brushes, then listens, _Will he come?_ The bee,
All dusty as a miller, takes his toll
Of powdery gold, and grumbles. What a day
To sun me and do nothing! Nay, I think
Merely to bask and ripen is sometimes
The student's wiser business; the brain              60
That forages all climes to line its cells,
Ranging both worlds on lightest wings of wish,
Will not distil the juices it has sucked
To the sweet substance of pellucid thought,
Except for him who hath the secret learned
To mix his blood with sunshine, and to take
The winds into his pulses. Hush! 'tis he!
My oriole, my glance of summer fire,
Is come at last, and, ever on the watch,
Twitches the packthread I had lightly wound          70
About the bough to help his housekeeping,--
Twitches and scouts by turns, blessing his luck,
Yet fearing me who laid it in his way,
Nor, more than wiser we in our affairs,
Divines the providence that hides and helps.
_Heave, ho! Heave, ho!_ he whistles as the twine
Slackens its hold; _once more, now!_ and a flash
Lightens across the sunlight to the elm
Where his mate dangles at her cup of felt.
Nor all his booty is the thread; he trails           80
My loosened thought with it along the air,
And I must follow, would I ever find
The inward rhyme to all this wealth of life.

I care not how men trace their ancestry,
To ape or Adam: let them please their whim;
But I in June am midway to believe
A tree among my far progenitors,
Such sympathy is mine with all the race,
Such mutual recognition vaguely sweet
There is between us. Surely there are times          90
When they consent to own me of their kin,
And condescend to me, and call me cousin,
Murmuring faint lullabies of eldest time,
Forgotten, and yet dumbly felt with thrills
Moving the lips, though fruitless of all words.
And I have many a lifelong leafy friend,
Never estranged nor careful of my soul,
That knows I hate the axe, and welcomes me
Within his tent as if I were a bird,
Or other free companion of the earth,               100
Yet undegenerate to the shifts of men.
Among them one, an ancient willow, spreads
Eight balanced limbs, springing at once all round
His deep-ridged trunk with upward slant diverse,
In outline like enormous beaker, fit
For hand of Jotun, where mid snow and mist
He holds unwieldy revel. This tree, spared,
I know not by what grace,--for in the blood
Of our New World subduers lingers yet
Hereditary feud with trees, they being              110
(They and the red-man most) our fathers' foes,--
Is one of six, a willow Pleiades,
The seventh fallen, that lean along the brink
Where the steep upland dips into the marsh,
Their roots, like molten metal cooled in flowing,
Stiffened in coils and runnels down the bank.
The friend of all the winds, wide-armed he towers
And glints his steely aglets in the sun,
Or whitens fitfully with sudden bloom
Of leaves breeze-lifted, much as when a shoal       120
Of devious minnows wheel from where a pike
Lurks balanced 'neath the lily-pads, and whirl
A rood of silver bellies to the day.
Alas! no acorn from the British oak
'Neath which slim fairies tripping wrought those rings
Of greenest emerald, wherewith fireside life
Did with the invisible spirit of Nature wed,
Was ever planted here! No darnel fancy
Might choke one useful blade in Puritan fields;
With horn and hoof the good old Devil came,         130
The witch's broomstick was not contraband,
But all that superstition had of fair,
Or piety of native sweet, was doomed.
And if there be who nurse unholy faiths,
Fearing their god as if he were a wolf
That snuffed round every home and was not seen,
There should be some to watch and keep alive
All beautiful beliefs. And such was that,--
By solitary shepherd first surmised
Under Thessalian oaks, loved by some maid           140
Of royal stirp, that silent came and vanished,
As near her nest the hermit thrush, nor dared
Confess a mortal name,--that faith which gave
A Hamadryed to each tree; and I
Will hold it true that in this willow dwells
The open-handed spirit, frank and blithe,
Of ancient Hospitality, long since,
With ceremonious thrift, bowed out of doors.

In June 'tis good to lie beneath a tree
While the blithe season comforts every sense,       150
Steeps all the brain in rest, and heals the heart,
Brimming it o'er with sweetness unawares,
Fragrant and silent as that rosy snow
Wherewith the pitying apple-tree fills up
And tenderly lines some last-year robin's nest.
There muse I of old times, old hopes, old friends,--
Old friends! The writing of those words has borne
My fancy backward to the gracious past,
The generous past, when all was possible.
For all was then untried; the years between        160
Have taught some sweet, some bitter lessons, none
Wiser than this,--to spend in all things else,
But of old friends to be most miserly.
Each year to ancient friendships adds a ring,
As to an oak, and precious more and more,
Without deservingness or help of ours,
They grow, and, silent, wider spread, each year,
Their unbought ring of shelter or of shade,
Sacred to me the lichens on the bark,
Which Nature's milliners would scrape away;        170
Most dear and sacred every withered limb!
'Tis good to set them early, for our faith
Pines as we age, and, after wrinkles come,
Few plant, but water dead ones with vain tears.

This willow is as old to me as life;
And under it full often have I stretched,
Feeling the warm earth like a thing alive,
And gathering virtue in at every pore
Till it possessed me wholly, and thought ceased,
Or was transfused in something to which thought     180
Is coarse and dull of sense. Myself was lost.
Gone from me like an ache, and what remained
Become a part of the universal joy.
My soul went forth, and, mingling with the tree,
Danced in the leaves; or, floating in the cloud,
Saw its white double in the stream below;
Or else, sublimed to purer ecstasy,
Dilated in the broad blue over all.
I was the wind that dappled the lush grass,
The tide that crept with coolness to its roots,     190
The thin-winged swallow skating on the air;
The life that gladdened everything was mine.
Was I then truly all that I beheld?
Or is this stream of being but a glass
Where the mind sees its visionary self,
As, when the kingfisher flits o'er his bay,
Across the river's hollow heaven below
His picture flits,--another, yet the same?
But suddenly the sound of human voice
Or footfall, like the drop a chemist pours,         200
Doth in opacous cloud precipitate
The consciousness that seemed but now dissolved
Into an essence rarer than its own.
And I am narrowed to myself once more.

For here not long is solitude secure,
Nor Fantasy left vacant to her spell.
Here, sometimes, in this paradise of shade,
Rippled with western winds, the dusty Tramp,
Seeing the treeless causey burn beyond,
Halts to unroll his bundle of strange food          210
And munch an unearned meal. I cannot help
Liking this creature, lavish Summer's bedesman,
Who from the almshouse steals when nights grow warm,
Himself his large estate and only charge,
To be the guest of haystack or of hedge,
Nobly superior to the household gear
That forfeits us our privilege of nature.
I bait him with my match-box and my pouch,
Nor grudge the uncostly sympathy of smoke,
His equal now, divinely unemployed.                 220
Some smack of Robin Hood is in the man,
Some secret league with wild wood-wandering things;
He is our ragged Duke, our barefoot Earl,
By right of birth exonerate from toil,
Who levies rent from us his tenants all,
And serves the state by merely being. Here
The Scissors-grinder, pausing, doffs his hat,
And lets the kind breeze, with its delicate fan,
Winnow the heat from out his dank gray hair,--
A grimy Ulysses, a much-wandered man,               230
Whose feet are known to all the populous ways,
And many men and manners he hath seen,
Not without fruit of solitary thought.
He, as the habit is of lonely men,--
Unused to try the temper of their mind
In fence with others,--positive and shy,
Yet knows to put an edge upon his speech,
Pithily Saxon in unwilling talk.
Him I entrap with my long-suffering knife,
And, while its poor blade hums away in sparks,      240
Sharpen my wit upon his gritty mind,
In motion set obsequious to his wheel,
And in its quality not much unlike.

Nor wants my tree more punctual visitors.
The children, they who are the only rich,
Creating for the moment, and possessing
Whate'er they choose to feign,--for still with them
Kind Fancy plays the fairy godmother,
Strewing their lives with cheap material
For wingèd horses and Aladdin's lamps,              250
Pure elfin-gold, by manhood's touch profane
To dead leaves disenchanted,--long ago
Between the branches of the tree fixed seats,
Making an o'erturned box their table. Oft
The shrilling girls sit here between school hours,
And play at _What's my thought like?_ while the boys,
With whom the age chivalric ever bides,
Pricked on by knightly spur of female eyes,
Climb high to swing and shout on perilous boughs,
Or, from the willow's armory equipped               260
With musket dumb, green banner, edgeless sword,
Make good the rampart of their tree-redoubt
'Gainst eager British storming from below,
And keep alive the tale of Bunker's Hill.

Here, too, the men that mend our village ways,
Vexing Macadam's ghost with pounded slate,
Their nooning take; much noisy talk they spend
On horses and their ills; and, as John Bull
Tells of Lord This or That, who was his friend,
So these make boast of intimacies long              270
With famous teams, and add large estimates,
By competition swelled from mouth to mouth.
Of how much they could draw, till one, ill pleased
To have his legend overbid, retorts:
'You take and stretch truck-horses in a string
From here to Long Wharf end, one thing I know,
Not heavy neither, they could never draw,--
Ensign's long bow!' Then laughter loud and long.
So they in their leaf-shadowed microcosm
Image the larger world; for wheresoe'er             280
Ten men are gathered, the observant eye
Will find mankind in little, as the stars
Glide up and set, and all the heavens revolve
In the small welkin of a drop of dew.

I love to enter pleasure by a postern,
Not the broad popular gate that gulps the mob;
To find my theatres in roadside nooks,
Where men are actors, and suspect it not;
Where Nature all unconscious works her will,
And every passion moves with easy gait,             290
Unhampered by the buskin or the train.
Hating the crowd, where we gregarious men
Lead lonely lives, I love society,
Nor seldom find the best with simple souls
Unswerved by culture from their native bent,
The ground we meet on being primal man,
And nearer the deep bases of our lives.

But oh, half heavenly, earthly half, my soul,
Canst thou from those late ecstasies descend,
Thy lips still wet with the miraculous wine         300
That transubstantiates all thy baser stuff
To such divinity that soul and sense,
Once more commingled in their source, are lost,--
Canst thou descend to quench a vulgar thirst
With the mere dregs and rinsings of the world?
Well, if my nature find her pleasure so,
I am content, nor need to blush; I take
My little gift of being clean from God,
Not haggling for a better, holding it
Good as was ever any in the world,                  310
My days as good and full of miracle.
I pluck my nutriment from any bush,
Finding out poison as the first men did
By tasting and then suffering, if I must.
Sometimes my bush burns, and sometimes it is
A leafless wilding shivering by the wall;
But I have known when winter barberries
Pricked the effeminate palate with surprise
Of savor whose mere harshness seemed divine.

Oh, benediction of the higher mood                  320
And human-kindness of the lower! for both
I will be grateful while I live, nor question
The wisdom that hath made us what we are,
With such large range as from the ale-house bench
Can reach the stars and be with both at home.
They tell us we have fallen on prosy days,
Condemned to glean the leavings of earth's feast
Where gods and heroes took delight of old;
But though our lives, moving in one dull round
Of repetition infinite, become                      330
Stale as a newspaper once read, and though
History herself, seen in her workshop, seem
To have lost the art that dyed those glorious panes,
Rich with memorial shapes of saint and sage,
That pave with splendor the Past's dusky aisles,--
Panes that enchant the light of common day
With colors costly as the blood of kings,
Till with ideal hues it edge our thought,--
Yet while the world is left, while nature lasts,
And man the best of nature, there shall be          340
Somewhere contentment for these human hearts,
Some freshness, some unused material
For wonder and for song. I lose myself
In other ways where solemn guide-posts say,
_This way to Knowledge, This way to Repose_,
But here, here only, I am ne'er betrayed,
For every by-path leads me to my love.

God's passionless reformers, influences,
That purify and heal and are not seen,
Shall man say whence your virtue is, or how         350
Ye make medicinal the wayside weed?
I know that sunshine, through whatever rift,
How shaped it matters not, upon my walls
Paints discs as perfect-rounded as its source,
And, like its antitype, the ray divine,
However finding entrance, perfect still,
Repeats the image unimpaired of God.

We, who by shipwreck only find the shores
Of divine wisdom, can but kneel at first;
Can but exult to feel beneath our feet,             360
That long stretched vainly down the yielding deeps,
The shock and sustenance of solid earth;
Inland afar we see what temples gleam
Through immemorial stems of sacred groves,
And we conjecture shining shapes therein;
Yet for a space we love to wander here
Among the shells and seaweed of the beach.

So mused I once within my willow-tent
One brave June morning, when the bluff northwest,
Thrusting aside a dank and snuffling day           370
That made us bitter at our neighbors' sins,
Brimmed the great cup of heaven with sparkling cheer
And roared a lusty stave; the sliding Charles,
Blue toward the west, and bluer and more blue,
Living and lustrous as a woman's eyes
Look once and look no more, with southward curve
Ran crinkling sunniness, like Helen's hair
Glimpsed in Elysium, insubstantial gold;
From blossom-clouded orchards, far away
The bobolink tinkled; the deep meadows flowed      380
With multitudinous pulse of light and shade
Against the bases of the southern hills,
While here and there a drowsy island rick
Slept and its shadow slept; the wooden bridge
Thundered, and then was silent; on the roofs
The sun-warped shingles rippled with the heat;
Summer on field and hill, in heart and brain,
All life washed clean in this high tide of June.



DARA

When Persia's sceptre trembled in a hand
Wilted with harem-heats, and all the land
Was hovered over by those vulture ills
That snuff decaying empire from afar,
Then, with a nature balanced as a star,
Dara arose, a shepherd of the hills.

He who had governed fleecy subjects well
Made his own village by the selfsame spell
Secure and quiet as a guarded fold;
Then, gathering strength by slow and wise degrees     10
Under his sway, to neighbor villages
Order returned, and faith and justice old.

Now when it fortuned that a king more wise
Endued the realm with brain and hands and eyes,
He sought on every side men brave and just;
And having heard our mountain shepherd's praise,
How he refilled the mould of elder days,
To Dara gave a satrapy in trust.

So Dara shepherded a province wide,
Nor in his viceroy's sceptre took more pride         20
Than in his crook before; but envy finds
More food in cities than on mountains bare;
And the frank sun of natures clear and rare
Breeds poisonous fogs in low and marish minds.

Soon it was hissed into the royal ear,
That, though wise Dara's province, year by year,
Like a great sponge, sucked wealth and plenty up,
Yet, when he squeezed it at the king's behest,
Some yellow drops, more rich than all the rest,
Went to the filling of his private cup.              30

For proof, they said, that, wheresoe'er he went,
A chest, beneath whose weight the camel bent,
Went with him; and no mortal eye had seen
What was therein, save only Dara's own;
But, when 'twas opened, all his tent was known
To glow and lighten with heaped jewels' sheen.

The King set forth for Dara's province straight;
There, as was fit, outside the city's gate,
The viceroy met him with a stately train,
And there, with archers circled, close at hand,      40
A camel with the chest was seen to stand:
The King's brow reddened, for the guilt was plain.

'Open me here,' he cried, 'this treasure-chest!'
'Twas done; and only a worn shepherd's vest
Was found therein. Some blushed and hung the head;
Not Dara; open as the sky's blue roof
He stood, and 'O my lord, behold the proof
That I was faithful to my trust,' he said.

'To govern men, lo all the spell I had!'
My soul in these rude vestments ever clad            50
Still to the unstained past kept true and leal,
Still on these plains could breathe her mountain air,
And fortune's heaviest gifts serenely bear,
Which bend men from their truth and make them reel.

'For ruling wisely I should have small skill,
Were I not lord of simple Dara still;
That sceptre kept, I could not lose my way.'
Strange dew in royal eyes grew round and bright,
And strained the throbbing lids; before 'twas night
Two added provinces blest Dara's sway.               60



THE FIRST SNOW-FALL

The snow had begun in the gloaming,
  And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
  With a silence deep and white.

Every pine and fir and hemlock
  Wore ermine too dear for an earl,
And the poorest twig on the elm-tree
  Was ridged inch deep with pearl.

From sheds new-roofed with Carrara
  Came Chanticleer's muffled crow,
The stiff rails softened to swan's-down,
  And still fluttered down the snow.

I stood and watched by the window
  The noiseless work of the sky,
And the sudden flurries of snowbirds,
  Like brown leaves whirling by.

I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn
  Where a little headstone stood;
How the flakes were folding it gently,
  As did robins the babes in the wood.

Up spoke our own little Mabel,
  Saying, 'Father, who makes it snow?'
And I told of the good All-father
  Who cares for us here below.

Again I looked at the snow-fall,
  And thought of the leaden sky
That arched o'er our first great sorrow,
  When that mound was heaped so high.

I remembered the gradual patience
  That fell from that cloud like snow,
Flake by flake, healing and hiding
  The scar that renewed our woe.

And again to the child I whispered,
  'The snow that husheth all,
Darling, the merciful Father
  Alone can make it fall!'

Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her:
  And she, kissing back, could not know
That _my_ kiss was given to her sister,
  Folded close under deepening snow.



THE SINGING LEAVES

A BALLAD

I

'What fairings will ye that I bring?'
  Said the King to his daughters three;
'For I to Vanity Fair am bound,
Now say what shall they be?'

Then up and spake the eldest daughter,
  That lady tall and grand:
'Oh, bring me pearls and diamonds great,
  And gold rings for my hand.'

Thereafter spake the second daughter,
  That was both white and red:                     10
'For me bring silks that will stand alone,
  And a gold comb for my head.'

Then came the turn of the least daughter,
  That was whiter than thistle-down,
And among the gold of her blithesome hair
  Dim shone the golden crown.

'There came a bird this morning,
  And sang 'neath my bower eaves,
Till I dreamed, as his music made me,
  "Ask thou for the Singing Leaves."'              20

Then the brow of the King swelled crimson
  With a flush of angry scorn:
'Well have ye spoken, my two eldest,
  And chosen as ye were born;

'But she, like a thing of peasant race,
  That is happy binding the sheaves;'
Then he saw her dead mother in her face,
  And said, 'Thou shalt have thy leaves.'


II

He mounted and rode three days and nights
  Till he came to Vanity Fair,                      30
And 'twas easy to buy the gems and the silk,
  But no Singing Leaves were there.

Then deep in the greenwood rode he,
  And asked of every tree,
'Oh, if you have ever a Singing Leaf,
  I pray you give it me!'

But the trees all kept their counsel,
  And never a word said they,
Only there sighed from the pine-tops
  A music of seas far away.                        40

Only the pattering aspen
  Made a sound of growing rain,
That fell ever faster and faster,
  Then faltered to silence again.

'Oh, where shall I find a little foot-page
  That would win both hose and shoon,
And will bring to me the Singing Leaves
  If they grow under the moon?'

Then lightly turned him Walter the page,
  By the stirrup as he ran:                        50
'Now pledge you me the truesome word
  Of a king and gentleman,

'That you will give me the first, first thing
  You meet at your castle-gate,
And the Princess shall get the Singing Leaves,
  Or mine be a traitor's fate.'

The King's head dropt upon his breast
  A moment, as it might be;
'Twill be my dog, he thought, and said,
  'My faith I plight to thee.'                     60

Then Walter took from next his heart
  A packet small and thin,
'Now give you this to the Princess Anne,
  The Singing Leaves are therein.'


III

As the King rode in at his castle-gate,
  A maiden to meet him ran,
And 'Welcome, father!' she laughed and cried
  Together, the Princess Anne.

'Lo, here the Singing Leaves,' quoth he,
  'And woe, but they cost me dear!'                70
She took the packet, and the smile
  Deepened down beneath the tear.

It deepened down till it reached her heart,
  And then gushed up again,
And lighted her tears as the sudden sun
  Transfigures the summer rain.

And the first Leaf, when it was opened,
  Sang: 'I am Walter the page,
And the songs I sing 'neath thy window
  Are my only heritage.'                           80

And the second Leaf sang: 'But in the land
  That is neither on earth nor sea,
My lute and I are lords of more
  Than thrice this kingdom's fee.'

And the third Leaf sang, 'Be mine! Be mine!'
  And ever it sang, 'Be mine!'
Then sweeter it sang and ever sweeter,
  And said, 'I am thine, thine, thine!'

At the first Leaf she grew pale enough,
  At the second she turned aside,                  90
At the third, 'twas as if a lily flushed
  With a rose's red heart's tide.

'Good counsel gave the bird,' said she,
  'I have my hope thrice o'er,
For they sing to my very heart,' she said,
  'And it sings to them evermore.'

She brought to him her beauty and truth,
  But and broad earldoms three,
And he made her queen of the broader lands
  He held of his lute in fee.                     100



SEAWEED

Not always unimpeded can I pray,
Nor, pitying saint, thine intercession claim;
Too closely clings the burden of the day,
And all the mint and anise that I pay
But swells my debt and deepens my self-blame.

Shall I less patience have than Thou, who know
That Thou revisit'st all who wait for thee,
Nor only fill'st the unsounded deeps below,
But dost refresh with punctual overflow
The rifts where unregarded mosses be?

The drooping seaweed hears, in night abyssed,
Far and more far the wave's receding shocks,
Nor doubts, for all the darkness and the mist,
That the pale shepherdess will keep her tryst,
And shoreward lead again her foam-fleeced flocks.

For the same wave that rims the Carib shore
With momentary brede of pearl and gold,
Goes hurrying thence to gladden with its roar
Lorn weeds bound fast on rocks of Labrador,
By love divine on one sweet errand rolled.

And, though Thy healing waters far withdraw,
I, too, can wait and feed on hope of Thee
And of the dear recurrence of Thy law,
Sure that the parting grace my morning saw
Abides its time to come in search of me.



THE FINDING OF THE LYRE

There lay upon the ocean's shore
What once a tortoise served to cover;
A year and more, with rush and roar,
The surf had rolled it over,
Had played with it, and flung it by,
As wind and weather might decide it,
Then tossed it high where sand-drifts dry
Cheap burial might provide it.

It rested there to bleach or tan,
The rains had soaked, the suns had burned it;
With many a ban the fisherman
Had stumbled o'er and spurned it;
And there the fisher-girl would stay,
Conjecturing with her brother
How in their play the poor estray
Might serve some use or other.

So there it lay, through wet and dry
As empty as the last new sonnet,
Till by and by came Mercury,
And, having mused upon it,
'Why, here,' cried he, 'the thing of things
In shape, material, and dimension!
Give it but strings, and, lo, it sings,
A wonderful invention!'

So said, so done; the chords he strained,
And, as his fingers o'er them hovered,
The shell disdained a soul had gained,
The lyre had been discovered.
O empty world that round us lies,
Dead shell, of soul and thought forsaken,
Brought we but eyes like Mercury's,
In thee what songs should waken!



NEW-YEAR'S EVE, 1850

This is the midnight of the century,--hark!
Through aisle and arch of Godminster have gone
Twelve throbs that tolled the zenith of the dark,
And mornward now the starry hands move on;
'Mornward!' the angelic watchers say,
'Passed is the sorest trial;
No plot of man can stay
The hand upon the dial;
Night is the dark stem of the lily Day.'

If we, who watched in valleys here below,
Toward streaks, misdeemed of morn, our faces turned
When volcan glares set all the east aglow,
We are not poorer that we wept and yearned;
Though earth swing wide from God's intent,
And though no man nor nation
Will move with full consent
In heavenly gravitation,
Yet by one Sun is every orbit bent.



FOR AN AUTOGRAPH

Though old the thought and oft exprest,
'Tis his at last who says it best,--
I'll try my fortune with the rest.

Life is a leaf of paper white
Whereon each one of us may write
His word or two, and then comes night.

'Lo, time and space enough,' we cry,
'To write an epic!' so we try
Our nibs upon the edge, and die.

Muse not which way the pen to hold,
Luck hates the slow and loves the bold,
Soon come the darkness and the cold.

Greatly begin! though thou have time
But for a line, be that sublime,--
Not failure, but low aim, is crime.

Ah, with what lofty hope we came!
But we forget it, dream of fame,
And scrawl, as I do here, a name.



AL FRESCO

The dandelions and buttercups
Gild all the lawn; the drowsy bee
Stumbles among the clover-tops,
And summer sweetens all but me:
Away, unfruitful lore of books,
For whose vain idiom we reject
The soul's more native dialect,
Aliens among the birds and brooks,
Dull to interpret or conceive
What gospels lost the woods retrieve!      10
Away, ye critics, city-bred,
Who springes set of thus and so,
And in the first man's footsteps tread,
Like those who toil through drifted snow!
Away, my poets, whose sweet spell
Can make a garden of a cell!
I need ye not, for I to-day
Will make one long sweet verse of play.

Snap, chord of manhood's tenser strain!
To-day I will be a boy again;               20
The mind's pursuing element,
Like a bow slackened and unbent,
In some dark corner shall be leant.
The robin sings, as of old, from the limb!
The cat-bird croons in the lilac-bush!
Through the dim arbor, himself more dim,
Silently hops the hermit-thrush,
The withered leaves keep dumb for him;
The irreverent buccaneering bee
Hath stormed and rifled the nunnery        30
Of the lily, and scattered the sacred floor
With haste-dropt gold from shrine to door;
There, as of yore,
The rich, milk-tingeing buttercup
Its tiny polished urn holds up,
Filled with ripe summer to the edge,
The sun in his own wine to pledge;
And our tall elm, this hundredth year
Doge of our leafy Venice here,
Who, with an annual ring, doth wed     40
The blue Adriatic overhead,
Shadows with his palatial mass
The deep canals of flowing grass.

O unestrangèd birds and bees!
O face of Nature always true!
O never-unsympathizing trees!
O never-rejecting roof of blue,
Whose rash disherison never falls
On us unthinking prodigals,
Yet who convictest all our ill,        50
So grand and unappeasable!
Methinks my heart from each of these
Plucks part of childhood back again,
Long there imprisoned, as the breeze
Doth every hidden odor seize
Of wood and water, hill and plain:
Once more am I admitted peer
In the upper house of Nature here,
And feel through all my pulses run
The royal blood of wind and sun.      60

Upon these elm-arched solitudes
No hum of neighbor toil intrudes;
The only hammer that I hear
Is wielded by the woodpecker,
The single noisy calling his
In all our leaf-hid Sybaris;
The good old time, close-hidden here,
Persists, a loyal cavalier,
While Roundheads prim, with point of fox,
Probe wainscot-chink and empty box;        70
Here no hoarse-voiced iconoclast,
Insults thy statues, royal Past;
Myself too prone the axe to wield,
I touch the silver side of the shield
With lance reversed, and challenge peace,
A willing convert of the trees.

How chanced it that so long I tost
A cable's length from this rich coast,
With foolish anchors hugging close
The beckoning weeds and lazy ooze,                 80
Nor had the wit to wreck before
On this enchanted island's shore,
Whither the current of the sea,
With wiser drift, persuaded me?

Oh, might we but of such rare days
Build up the spirit's dwelling-place!
A temple of so Parian stone
Would brook a marble god alone,
The statue of a perfect life,
Far-shrined from earth's bestaining strife.        90
Alas! though such felicity
In our vext world here may not be,
Yet, as sometimes the peasant's hut
Shows stones which old religion cut
With text inspired, or mystic sign
Of the Eternal and Divine,
Torn from the consecration deep
Of some fallen nunnery's mossy sleep,
So, from the ruins of this day
Crumbling in golden dust away,         100
The soul one gracious block may draw,
Carved with, some fragment of the law,
Which, set in life's prosaic wall,
Old benedictions may recall,
And lure some nunlike thoughts to take
Their dwelling here for memory's sake.



MASACCIO

IN THE BRANCACCI CHAPEL

He came to Florence long ago,
And painted here these walls, that shone
For Raphael and for Angelo,
With secrets deeper than his own,
Then shrank into the dark again,
And died, we know not how or when.

The shadows deepened, and I turned
Half sadly from the fresco grand;
'And is this,' mused I, 'all ye earned,
High-vaulted brain and cunning hand,
That ye to greater men could teach
The skill yourselves could never reach?'

'And who were they,' I mused, 'that wrought
Through pathless wilds, with labor long,
The highways of our daily thought?
Who reared those towers of earliest song
That lift us from the crowd to peace
Remote in sunny silences?'

Out clanged the Ave Mary bells,
And to my heart this message came:
Each clamorous throat among them tells
What strong-souled martyrs died in flame
To make it possible that thou
Shouldst here with brother sinners bow.

Thoughts that great hearts once broke for, we
Breathe cheaply in the common air;
The dust we trample heedlessly
Throbbed once in saints and heroes rare,
Who perished, opening for their race
New pathways to the commonplace.

Henceforth, when rings the health to those
Who live in story and in song,
O nameless dead, that now repose,
Safe in Oblivion's chambers strong,
One cup of recognition true
Shall silently be drained to you!



WITHOUT AND WITHIN

My coachman, in the moonlight there,
  Looks through the side-light of the door;
I hear him with his brethren swear,
  As I could do,--but only more.

Flattening his nose against the pane,
  He envies me my brilliant lot,
Breathes on his aching fists in vain,
  And dooms me to a place more hot.

He sees me in to supper go,
  A silken wonder by my side,
Bare arms, bare shoulders, and a row
  Of flounces, for the door too wide.

He thinks how happy is my arm
  'Neath its white-gloved and jewelled load;
And wishes me some dreadful harm,
  Hearing the merry corks explode.

Meanwhile I inly curse the bore
  Of hunting still the same old coon,
And envy him, outside the door,
  In golden quiets of the moon.

The winter wind is not so cold
  As the bright smile he sees me win,
Nor the host's oldest wine so old
  As our poor gabble sour and thin.

I envy him the ungyved prance
  With which his freezing feet he warms,
And drag my lady's chains and dance
  The galley-slave of dreary forms.

Oh, could he have my share of din,
  And I his quiet!--past a doubt
'Twould still be one man bored within,
  And just another bored without.

Nay, when, once paid my mortal fee,
  Some idler on my headstone grim
Traces the moss-blurred name, will he
  Think me the happier, or I him?



THE PARTING OF THE WAYS



GODMINSTER CHIMES

WRITTEN IN AID OF A CHIME OF BELLS FOR CHRIST CHURCH, CAMBRIDGE

Godminster? Is it Fancy's play?
  I know not, but the word
Sings in my heart, nor can I say
  Whether 'twas dreamed or heard;
Yet fragrant in my mind it clings
  As blossoms after rain,
And builds of half-remembered things
  This vision in my brain.

Through aisles of long-drawn centuries
  My spirit walks in thought,
And to that symbol lifts its eyes
  Which God's own pity wrought;
From Calvary shines the altar's gleam,
  The Church's East is there,
The Ages one great minster seem,
  That throbs with praise and prayer.

And all the way from Calvary down
  The carven pavement shows
Their graves who won the martyr's crown
  And safe in God repose;
The saints of many a warring creed
  Who now in heaven have learned
That all paths to the Father lead
  Where Self the feet have spurned.

And, as the mystic aisles I pace,
  By aureoled workmen built,
Lives ending at the Cross I trace
  Alike through grace and guilt;
One Mary bathes the blessed feet
  With ointment from her eyes,
With spikenard one, and both are sweet,
  For both are sacrifice.

Moravian hymn and Roman chant
  In one devotion blend,
To speak the soul's eternal want
  Of Him, the inmost friend;
One prayer soars cleansed with martyr fire,
  One choked with sinner's tears,
In heaven both meet in one desire,
  And God one music hears.

Whilst thus I dream, the bells clash out
  Upon the Sabbath air,
Each seems a hostile faith to shout,
  A selfish form of prayer:
My dream is shattered, yet who knows
  But in that heaven so near
These discords find harmonious close
  In God's atoning ear?

O chime of sweet Saint Charity,
  Peal soon that Easter morn
When Christ for all shall risen be,
  And in all hearts new-born!
That Pentecost when utterance clear
  To all men shall be given,
When all shall say _My Brother_ here,
  And hear _My Son_ in heaven!



THE PARTING OF THE WAYS

Who hath not been a poet? Who hath not,
With life's new quiver full of wingèd years,
Shot at a venture, and then, following on,
Stood doubtful at the Parting of the Ways?

There once I stood in dream, and as I paused,
Looking this way and that, came forth to me
The figure of a woman veiled, that said,
'My name is Duty, turn and follow me;'
Something there was that chilled me in her voice;
I felt Youth's hand grow slack and cold in mine,     10
As if to be withdrawn, and I exclaimed:
'Oh, leave the hot wild heart within my breast!
Duty comes soon enough, too soon comes Death;
This slippery globe of life whirls of itself,
Hasting our youth away into the dark;
These senses, quivering with electric heats,
Too soon will show, like nests on wintry boughs
Obtrusive emptiness, too palpable wreck,
Which whistling north-winds line with downy snow
Sometimes, or fringe with foliaged rime, in vain,     20
Thither the singing birds no more return.'

Then glowed to me a maiden from the left,
With bosom half disclosed, and naked arms
More white and undulant than necks of swans;
And all before her steps an influence ran
Warm as the whispering South that opens buds
And swells the laggard sails of Northern May.
'I am called Pleasure, come with me!' she said,
Then laughed, and shook out sunshine from her hair,
Nor only that, but, so it seemed, shook out         30
All memory too, and all the moonlit past,
Old loves, old aspirations, and old dreams,
More beautiful for being old and gone.

So we two went together; downward sloped
The path through yellow meads, or so I dreamed,
Yellow with sunshine and young green, but I
Saw naught nor heard, shut up in one close joy;
I only felt the hand within my own,
Transmuting all my blood to golden fire,
Dissolving all my bra