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In a letter, June 16, 1846, to Mr. Sydney happened to him." But as appears from the Howard Gay, then editor of the Anti-Slavery letter given above, the satire was readily faStandard, Lowell wrote: “I mean to send all thered on Lowell, and many of the subsequent the poems I write (on whatever subject) first to
papers were published in the Standard. As the Standard, except such arrows as I may for Hosea," he wrote to his friend Mr. Charles deem it better to shoot froin the ambushment F. Briggs, November 13, 1847, “I am sorry of the Courier, because the old enemy offers that I began by making him such a detestable me a fairer mark from that quarter. . . . You speller. There is no fun in bad spelling of will find a squib of mine in this week's Courier. itself, but only where the misspelling suggests I wish it to continue anonymous, for I wish something else which is droll per se. You see slavery to think it has as many enemies as pos- I am getting him out of it gradually. I mean sible. If I may judge from the number of to altogether. Parson Wilbur is about to propersons who have asked me if I wrote it, I pose a subscription for fitting him for college, have struck the old hulk of the Public between and has already commenced his education. wind and water." This was the first of the Perhaps you like the last best, because it is Biglow Papers. The scheme of anonymity more personal and has therefore more directwas preserved through the first series, and as ness of purpose. But I confess I think that Lowell wrote forty years later to Thomas Birdofredom's attempt to explain the AngloHughes (Letters, II. 334): “I had great fun out Saxon theory is the best thing yet, except of it. I have often wished that I conld have Parson Wilbur's letter in the Courier of last had a literary nom de guerre, and kept my own Saturday.” The series ran at intervals for to myself. I should n't have cared a doit what about eighteen months, when the papers were island say
collected into a volume. Lowell's letters, writ
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Sept. 13, 1859. ten when he was busy over the equipment of MY DEAR SIR: – I have put off from time the book, show him in high spirits over his to time writing to you, because I hardly knew jeu d'esprit. "I am going,” he writes to Mr. what to write. To say simply that I liked Briggs,“ to indulge all my fun in a volume of your writings would have been pleasant enough H. Biglow's verses which I am preparing, and (though that would have given me no claim which I shall edit under the character of the upon you that was not shared by all the world), Rev. Mr. Wi our. I hope you saw Mr. B.'s but I find it particularly hard to write anylast production, which I consider his best thing about a book of my own.
It has been a hitherto. I am going to include in the volume particular satisfaction to me to hear, now and an essay of the reverend gentleman on the then, some friendly voice from the old motherYankee dialect, and on dialects in general, and
"Well done” of the Biglow Papers ; on everything else, and also an attempt at a for, to say the truth, I like them myself, and complete natural history of the Humbug – when I was reading them over for a new edi. which I think I shall write in Latin. The tion, a year or two ago, could not help laughbook will purport to be published at Jaalam ing. But then as I laughed I found myself (Mr. B.'s native place), and will be printed on
How did you brownish paper, with those little head and tail- make them?” Friendly people say to me pieces which used to adorn our earlier publica- sometimes, “Write us more Biglow Papers," tions — such as hives, scrolls, urns, and the and I have even been simple enough to try, like."
only to find that I could not. This has helped This was written on the last day of the to persuade me that the book was a genuine year 1847, but it was not until September of growth, and not a manufacture, and that, therethe next year that the actual volume got un- fore, I had an honest right to be pleased withder way; for meanwhile Lowell's original de- out blushing if people liked it. But then, this sign had been modified, and he turned the very fact makes it rather hard to write an infun he had been devising for the volume of troduction to it. All I can say is that the book mock poetry into the collection of his Biglow was thar; how it came is more than I can tell. Papers. The essay on the Yankee dialect by I cannot, like the great Goethe, deliberately Mr. Wilbur was included, but it was not till imagine what would have been a proper Entthe second series was published, nearly twenty stehungsweise for my book, and then assume it years later, that there appeared the scholarly as a fact. And as for an historical preface, I introduction, not now as a piece of affected find that quite as hard after now twelve years pedantry, but as the serious and delightful of more cloistered interests and studies that study of the author delivered in his own voice. have alienated me very much from contempo
At the beginning of September, 1848, Lowell rary politics. I only know that I believed our wrote to Mr. Gay: “I am as busy as I can war with Mexico (though we had as just ground be with Mr. Biglow's poems, of which I have for it as a strong nation ever has against a got between twenty and thirty pages already weak one) to be essentially a war of false preprinted. It is the hardest book to print that tences, and that it would result in widening ever I had anything to do with, and what with the boundaries and so prolonging the life of corrections and Mr. Wilbur's annotations, slavery. Believing that it is the manifest deskeeps me more employed than I care to be.” tiny of the English race to occupy this whole Later in the same month he wrote to the same continent, and to display there that practical correspondent that he was wearied out with understanding in matters of government and Mr. Biglow and his tiresome (though wholly colonization which no other race has given such respectable) friend Mr. Wilbur." His notes proof of possessing since the Romans, I hated continue to show the pressure under which he to see a noble hope evaporated into a lying worked until the book was published, the phrase to sweeten the foul breath of demamiddle of November. The first edition (1500) gogues. Leaving the sin of to God, I bewas gone in a week, and the book and its au- lieved, and still believe, that slavery is the thor became famous.
Achilles-heel of our polity; that it is a tempoA little more than ten years afterward an rary and false supremacy of the white races, English edition was to appear, and Thomas sure to destroy that supremacy at last, because Hughes, who had it in charge, wrote to Lowell an enslaved people always prove themselves asking for a new preface. The answer, a por- of more enduring fibre than their enslavers, tion of which is here given, is interesting as as not suffering from the social vices sure to showing how the book appeared as a whole to be engendered by oppression in the governing its author when he was in the midst of his Uni. class. Against these and many other things I versity service and had made a name for him- thought all honest men should protest. I was self as scholar and critic as well as poet. born and bred in the country, and the dialect
was homely to me. I tried my first Biglow But life is too short to write about one's paper in a newspaper, and found that it had a
self in, and you see that I cannot make a suitgreat run. So I wrote the others from time to able preface. I would rather have something time during the year which followed, always of this kind : “ It could not but be gratifying very rapidly, and sometimes (as with“ What to the writer of the Biglow Papers that Mr. Mr. Robinson thinks”) at one sitting,
Trübner should deem it worth his while to When I came to collect them and publish publish an edition of them in England. It them in a volume, I conceived my parson-editor, gives him a particular pleasure that the auwith his pedantry and verbosity, his amiable thor of Tom Brown's School Days should vanity and superiority to the verses he was have consented to see the work through the editing, as a fitting artistic background and press, for the remarkable favor with which that foil. It gave me the chance, too, of glan- work was received on both sides of the Atcing obliquely at many things which were be- lantic proved that all speakers of the English yond the horizon of my other characters. I tongue, however differing in other respects, was told afterwards that my Parson Wilbur agree wholly in their admiration for soundwas only Jedediah Cleishbotham over again, ness of head and heart and manliness of charand I dare say it may be so; but I drew him acter." from the life as well as I could, and for the Now do not think this is “Buncombe.” authentic reasons I have mentioned. I confess that I am proud of the ognition the book The first series as here given retains the has received in England, because it seems to elaborate apparatus attached to the poem, in prove that, despite its intense provincialism, the order given in the book when first pubthere is a general truth to human nature in it lished by George Nichols, Cambridge. which justifies its having been written.
NOTICES OF AN INDEPENDENT post-office. These having been sufficiently PRESS
gazed at, and beginning to lose their attrac
tiveness except for the flies, and, truly, the (I HAVE observed, reader (bene- or male- boys also (in whom I find it impossible to revolent, as it may happen), that it is customary press, even during school-hours, certain oral to append to the second editions of books, and and telegraphic communications concerning to the second works of authors, short sentences the expected show), upon some fine morning commendatory of the first, under the title of the band enters in a gayly painted wagon, or Notices of the Press. These, I have been given triumphal chariot, and with noisy advertiseto understand, are procurable at certain estab- ment, by means of brass, wood, and sheepskin, lished rates, payment being made either in makes the circuit of our startled village money or advertising patronage by the pub- streets. Then, as the exciting sounds draw lisher, or by an adequate outlay of servility nearer and nearer, do I desiderate those eyes on the part of the author. Considering these of Aristarchus," whose looks were as a breechthings with myself, and also that such notices ing to a boy.” Then do I perceive, with vain are neither intended, nor generally believed, to regret of wasted opportunities, the advantage convey any real opinions, being a purely cere- of a pancratic or pantechnic education, since monial accompaniment of literature, and re- he is most reverenced by my little subjects sembling certificates to the virtues of various who can throw the cleanest summerset or walk morbiferal panaceas, I conceived that it would most securely upon the revolving cask. The be not only more economical to prepare a story of the Pied Piper becomes for the first sufficient number of such myself, but also time credible to me (albeit confirmed by the more immediately subservient to the end in Hameliners dating their legal instruments from view to prefix them to this our primary edition the period of his exit), as I behold how those rather than to await the contingency of a strains, without pretence of magical potency, second, when they would seem to be of small bewitch the pupillary legs, nor leave to the utility. To delay attaching the bobs until the pedagogic an entire self-control. For these second attempt at flying the kite would indi- reasons, lest my kingly prerogative should cate but a slender experience in that useful suffer diminution, I prorogue my restless comart. Neither has it escaped my notice, nor mons, whom I follow into the street, chiefly failed to afford me matter of reflection, that, lest some mischief may chance befall them. when a circus or a caravan is about to visit After the manner of such a band, I send forJaalam, the initial step is to send forward ward the following notices of domestic manularge and highly ornamented hills of per- facture, to make brazen proclamation, not unformance, to be hung in the bar-room and the conscious 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 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 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 enongh 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 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 timehonored 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 wide-spread 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 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, tedions 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 Vallumbrozer, 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 parest patriots.
From the Bungtown Copper and Comprehensive
Tocsin (a tryweakly 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, that is in him. Bravely he grapples with the and compass of style, at once both objective and life-problem as it presents itself to him, unsubjeotive. ... We might indulge in some crit- combed, shaggy, careless of the nicer proprieicisms, but, were the author other than he is, ties," inexpert of “elegant diction,'' yet with he wonld be a different being. As it is, he has voice andible enough to whoso hath ears, up a wonderful pose, which fits from flower to there on the gravelly side-hills, or down on the flower, and bears the reader irresistibly alongsplashy, indiarubber-like salt-marshes of native on its eagle pinions (like Ganymede) to the Jaalam. To this soul also the Necessity of Creat“highest heaven of invention." We love a ing somewhat has unveiled its awful front. If book so purely objective. ... Many of his pic- not Edipuses and Electras and Alcestises, then tures of natural scenery have an extraordinary in God's name Birdofredum Sawins! These also subjective clearness and fidelity. ... In fine, we shall get born into the world, and filch (if so consider this as one of the most extraordinary need) a Zingali subsistence therein, these lank, volumes of this or any age. We know of no omnivorous Yankees of his. He shall paint the English author who could have written it. It Seen, since the Unseen will not sit to him. Yet is a work to which the proud genius of our in him also are Nibelungen-lays, and Iliads, and country, standing with one foot on the Aroos- Ulysses-wanderings, and Divine Comedies, --- if took and the other on the Rio Grande, and only once he could come at them! Therein lies holding up the star-spangled banner amid the much, nay all; for what truly is this which we wreck of matter and the crush of worlds, may name All, but that which we do not possess ? . point with bewildering scorn of the punier Glimpses also are given us of an old father Ezeefforts of enslaved Europe. ... We hope soon kiel, not without paternal pride, as is the wont to encounter our author among those higher of such. A brown, parchment-hided old man of walks of literature in which he is evidently ca- the geoponic or bucolic species, gray-eyed, we pable of achieving enduring fame. Already we fancy, queued perhaps, with much weathershould be inclined to assign him a high position cunning and plentiful September-gale memories, in the bright galaxy of our American bards.
bidding fair in good time to become the Oldest Inhabitant. After such hasty apparition, he
vanishes and is seen no more. ... Of “Rev. From the Saltriver Pilot and Flag of Freedom.
Homer Wilbur, A. M., Pastor of the First
Church in Jaalam," we have small care to A volume in bad grammar and worse taste. speak here. Spare touch in him of his Melesi
While the pieces here collected were con- genes namesake, save, haply, the — blindness! fined to their appropriate sphere in the corners A tolerably caliginose, nephelegeretous elderly of obscure newspapers, we considered them gentleman, with infinite faculty of sermonizing, wholly beneath contempt, but, as the author muscularized by long practice and excellent dihas chosen to come forward in this public man- gestive apparatus, and, for the rest, well-meanner, he must expect the lash he so richly merits. ing enough, and with small private illumina
Contemptible slanders. ... Vilest Billings- tions (somewhat tallowy, it is to be feared) of gate.
Has raked all the gutters of our his own. To him, there, “Pastor of the First language. . . . The most pure, upright, and Church in Jaalam," our Hosea presents himself consistent politicians not safe from his malignant as a quite inexplicable Sphinx-riddle. A rich venom. . i. General Cushing comes in for a poverty of Latin and Greek, - so far is clear share of his vile calumnies. . The Reverend enough, even to eyes peering myopic through Homer Wilbur is a disgrace to his cloth.
horn-lensed editorial spectacles, but naught farther? O porblind, well-meaning, altogether
fuscous Melesigenes-Wilbur, there are things in From the World-Harmonic-Æolian-Attachment.
him incommunicable by stroke of birch ! Did
it ever enter that old bewildered head of thine Speech is silver: silence is golden. No utter- that there was the Possibility of the Infinite in ance more Orphic than this. While, therefore, him? To thee, quite wingless (and even featheras highest author, we reverence him whose less) biped, has not so much even as a dream of works continue heroically unwritten, we have wings ever come ? “ Talented young parishalso our hopeful word for those who with pen ioner"? Among the Arts whereof thou art Ma(from wing of goose loud-cackling, or seraph gister, does that of seeing happen to be one ? God-commissioned) record the thing that is re- Unhappy Artium Magister! Somehow a Ne vealed.... Under mask of quaintest irony, we mean lion, fulvous, torrid-eyed, dry-nursed in detect here the deep, storm-tost (nigh ship- broad-howling sand-wildernesses of a sufficiently wracked) soul, thunder-scarred, semi-articulate, rare spirit-Libya (it may be supposed) has got but ever climbing hopefully toward the peaceful whelped among the sheep. Already he stands summits of an Infinite Sorrow... Yes, thou wild-glaring, with feet clutching the ground as poor, forlorn Hosea, with Hebrew fire-flaming with oak-roots, gathering for a Remus-spring soul in thee, for thee also this life of ours has over the walls of thy little fold. In Heaven's not been without its aspects of heavenliest pity name, go not near him with that flybite crook and langhingest mirth. Conceivable enough? of thine! In good time, thon painful preacher, Through coarse Thersites-cloak, we have reve- thon wilt go to the appointed place of departed lation of the heart, wild-glowing, world-clasping, Artillery-Election Sermons, Right-Hands of