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of several great conquerors and kings of kings, hitherto unheard of and still unpro. nounceable, but valuable to the student of the entirely dark ages. The letter which St. Peter sent to King Pepin in the year of grace that of the Virgin to the inagistrates of
, of to the D-1, 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 diiate 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 ler. ters and round-robins also conform them. selves. — H. W.]
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 differ. ent 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 Sinith, 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 seein 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 key-hole 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, be. cause 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 informa. tion 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 dimissory, 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, Howel, 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, ai epitaphs, for example, written for their Ovi monuments by monarchs, whereby we tive lately become possessed of the naines
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 I 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 Sır, – 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.
An' come direcly to the pint,
Is some consid'ble out o’jint ;
By tellin' who done this or thet,
I jest let on I smell a rat.
But, ef the public think I'm wrong
I wunt deny but wut I be so,
An', fact, it don't smell very strong; 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, l’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 statesmun say, who've
planned A way to git the most profusion
O'chances ez to ware they'll stand.
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 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 candidate, in short ; Thet 's fair an’square an' parpendicles,
But, ef the Public cares a fig To hev me an' thin' in particler,
Wy, I'm a kind o' peri-wig.
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 Light-house
Down to the eend o' Jaalam Pint.
Ez fer the war, I go agin it,
I mean to say I kind o' du, I'het 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
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 could n'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, Though I aint one thet ary test shuns
'll give our folks a helpin' shove; Kind o' promiscoous 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.
You'd ough' to leave a feller free,
To ketch his fingers in the tree; Pledges air awfle breachy cattle Thet preudunt farmers don't turn
out, -Ez long 'z the people git their rattle,
Wut is there fer'm to grout about?
An' ez the North hez took to brustlin'
At bein' scrouged frum off the roost, 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
(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. Épistolary composition becomes then an epi. deinic, which seizes one candidate after an other, 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 sur. rounded, during his candidacy, with the cor. don sanitaire of a vigilance committee. No prisoner in Spielberg was ever more cautious. ly 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 prefer. ences, yet not caring too openly to express them, made use of an innocent fraud to bring about that result which I deeined most de. sirable. My stratagem was no other than the throwing a copy of the Complete LetterWriter 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 mean. ing 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 seck' 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 surinise 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 succes. sors, 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 iny studies, I have noted two hundred and three teveral 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 Bona. parte, and which quieted, in a large meas. ure, the minds of my people. It is true that my views on this important point were arNently controverted by Mr. Shearjashub Holden, the then preceptor of our acadeny,
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 im. mediately 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 publica. tion 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 candi. date. Now, among the Greeks, the eating of beans was strictly forbiaden to all such as had it in mind to consult those expert ann. phibologists, 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 obtuindi 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 intrepretation 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 and 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 Egyp. tian 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 Dighten rock hieroglyphic or the cuneiform script, every fresh decipherer of which is enabled to educe a different meaning, whereby a sculpiured stone or two supplies iis, 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. À 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 pot-hooks as well as pots, the loop of a letter may suffice for a bow-string, and all the dreadful heresies of Antislavery may lurk in a flourish.-H. W.)
morning opens upon him her eyes full of pity. ing sunshine, the sky yearns down to him, -and there he lies termenting. 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 fosterchild ! 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 adıniring the adaptation of means to end, the harmonious involutions of contrivance, and the neverbewildered complexity, I saw a grimed and greasy fellow, the imperious engine's lackey and drudge, whose sole office was to let falí, 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 inaking 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. Un. thrifty 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 con. tra Christum, non ita, — H. W.]
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 inanner 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, recking, 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
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 't wuz
kin' o' mortifyin'; I'm willin' to believe it wuz, an yit I
don't see, nuther,
Wy one should 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 : 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 could n't beg A gretter blessin' then to hev one ollers It's true a chap's in want o' two fer
follerin' a drum, Fsut all the march l’m up to now is jest
to Kingdom Come. I've lost one eye, but thet 's a loss it's
easy to supply Uut o' the glory that I've gut, fer thet
is all my eye; An' one is big enough,
guess, by diligently usin' it, To see all I shall ever git by way o' pay
fer losin' it; Difcers, 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 is n'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? O, 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 hendy ez it wuz to cal’late a
sum on 't. I've hed some ribs broke, - six (I
b’lieve), - I haint kep' no ac
count on 'em ; 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 could n't never break, - the
one I lef' behind ;
I spose you think I'm comin' back ez
opperlunt ez thunder, 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 abeggin'
folks to dam 'em ; Then there were meetinhouses, tu,
chockful o' gold an' silver Thet you could take, an'no one could n'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 ham 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
would n't come nigh a V spot ; Although, most anywares we've ben,
you need n't break no locks, Nor run no kin' o' risks, to fill your
pocket full o' rocks.