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Biglow Papers,



"Έστιν άρ' ο ιδιωτισμός ενίοτε του κόσμου παραπολύ εμφανιστικώτερον.

LONGINUS. “J'aimerois mieulx que mon fils appringt aux tavernes À parler, qu'aux escholes de la parlerie."

MONTAIGNE. ,, Unjer Sprache ist auch ein Sprad und kan so wohl ein Sad nennen als die Dateiner saccus."

FISCHART. “Vim rebus aliquando ipsa verborum humilitas affert."


“O ma lengo, Plantarėy une estélo 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 Attico loqueretur." QUINTILIANUS.

“Et Anglice sermonicari solebat populo, sed secundum linguam Norfolchie ubi natus et nutritus erat."

CRONICA JOCELINI. “La politique est une pierre attachée au 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 uvée bien autrement spéciale et énergique dans le journal du matin." - HENRI BEYLE.

brood, which with me is as needful a prelimi. pary to hatching anything as with a clucking hen. However, I am going to try my hand, and see what comes of it." It was a year, however, before the first of the new series appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, and he wrote of it to Miss Norton: “I have been writing a Biglow Paper, and I feel as nervous about it as a young author not yet weaned of public favor. It was clean against my critical judgment, for I don't believe in resuscitations, we hear no good of the posthumous Lazarus, – but I may get into the vein and do some good.” The first of the series was published in January, 1862, and the stimulus Lowell needed came quickly in the Trent affair, which drew out of him at once Mason and Slidell: a Yankee Idyll, which appeared in February. “ If I am not mistaken," he wrote to Mr. Fields on sending it, “it will take.The third followed in March, and Lowell wrote again to Mr. Fields : * As for the Biglow - glad you like it. If not so good as the others, the public will be sure to. I think well of the Fable and believe there is nothing exotic therein. I am going to kill Wilbur before long, and give a would-have-been' obituary on him in the American style. That is, for example, 'he wrote no epic, but if he had, he would have been,' etc. I don't know how many of these future-conditional geniuses we have produced - many score, certainly.... Good-by-yours - with a series of Biglows rising, like the visionary kings before Macbeth, to destroy all present satisfaction."

Lowell did not kill Parson Wilbur immediately. Three more numbers followed, the fourth, fifth, and sixth, in April, May, and June. Then there was an interval when the rustic muse refused to come at a call. “ It's no use," the poet wrote June 5, 1862, to Fields, who had evidently been asking for the July portion ;“I reverse the gospel difficulty, and while the flesh is willing enough the spirit is weak. My brain must lie fallow a spell — there is no superphosphate for those worn-out fields. Better no crop than small potatoes. I want to have the passion of the thing on me again and beget lusty Biglows. I am all the more dejected because you have treated me so well. But I must rest awhile. My brain is out of kilter." Mr. Fields returned to the attack the next month, and Lowell wrote him a humorous letter in which he expressed his amazement at having kept his word about the six already written, and had some hopes that two ideas he cherished might come to something. At last he seems to have fallen back on his scheme for putting Parson Wilbur to death, and made it an excuse for the seventh paper, Latest Views of Mr. Biglow, which appeared in The Atlantic for February, 1863. Other occupations at this time

The best introduction to the Second Series of the Biglow Papers is to be found in Lowell's prose papers on political topics contributed to the Atlantic Monthly and the North American Review from 1858 to 1860, some of which have been reprinted in the fifth volume of the Riverside edition of his Writings. Just before Mr. Lincoln's election in 1860 he wrote: “We are approaching a crisis in our domestic policy more momentous than any that has arisen since we became a nation." The crisis arrived, and during 1861 his political sagacity, his ardent patriotism, his moral genius were displayed in a series of essays which did much to enlighten and confirm the roused spirit of the Northern people. But more was wanting of him. His verse could reach more ears than his or any other writer's prose. He was urged to write fresh Biglow Papers, and in a letter dated the last day of the year 1860, Lowell wrote: “ As for new Biglow Papers, God knows how I should like to write them, if they would only make me as they did before. But I am so occupied and bothered that I have no time to



engrossed him, and he again wrote to Mr. Fields, because verse would fill up space more cheaply October 18, 1864: Firstly, whar's Biglow ? than prose,

I inserted an extract from a supLet echo repeat her customary observation, posed ballad of Mr. Biglow. I kept no copy adding only that I began one, but it would not of it, and the printer, as directed, cut it off go. I had idees in plenty, but all I could do, when the gap was filled. Presently I began they would not marry themselves to immortal to receive letters asking for the rest of it,

Not only did I wish to write, for there sometimes for the balance of it. I had none, was a chance of a thousand, but I wanted but to answer such demands, I patched a conmoney

so there can be no doubt I was in clusion upon it in a later edition. Those who earnest.” It was not till peace was imminent had only the first continued to importune me. that he wrote again, the moving tenth satire, Afterward, being asked to write it out as an which was published in April, 1865. The final autograph for the Baltimore Sanitary Commispaper, called out by the Johnson retrograde sion Fair, I added other verses, into some of movement, was published in The Atlantic for which I infused a little more sentiment in a May, 1866. The papers numbered VIII. and homely way, and after a fashion completed it IX. did not appear in print until the book was by sketching in the characters and making a published in the fall of the same year.

connected story. Most likely I have spoiled it, Lowell more than once spoke of this second but I shall put it at the end of this Introducseries of Biglow Papers as in his judgment tion, to answer once for all those kindly imporbetter than the first. In a letter to Thomas tunings." Hughes twenty years after the book appeared, he wrote as follows: “Pray, who is F. T.,'

THE COURTIN' who has been writing about me in so friendly a way in the Cornhill ? He is a little out now

God makes sech nights, all white an' still and then, but strikes me as in the main judi

Fur 'z you can look or listen, cious. He is wrong about the second part of

Moonshine an' snow on field an' hill, the Biglow Papers. I think had he read these first, he would have seen they had more per

All silence an' all glisten. manent qualities than their predecessors, less fun and more humor perhaps. And pray what Zekle crep' up quite unbeknown natural scenery would he have me describe but An' peeked in thru' the winder, my own? If you know him, tell him I think An' there sot Huldy all alone, two European birds beat any of ours, the nightin

'ith no one nigh to hender. gale and the blackbird. The lark beats any of them also by sentiment and association, though

A fireplace filled the room's one side not vocally. I suppose I should have been a

With half a cord o' wood in more poetical poet if I had not been a profesA poet should feed on nothing but poetry

There war n't no stoves (tell comfort died) as they used to say a drone could be turned To bake ye to a puddin'. into a queen-bee by a diet of bee-bread.”

When the book appeared it bore a dedica- The wa’nut logs shot sparkles out tion to E. R. Hoar, and was introduced by the Towards the pootiest, bless her, essay on the Yankee form of English speech, An' leetle flames danced all about which, as we have seen, he had long ago pro- The chiny on the dresser. posed writing. This Introduction is so 'distinctly an essay that it has been thought best

Agin the chimbley crook-necks hung, to print it as an appendix to this volume, rather than allow it to break in

An' in amongst 'em rusted the

upon pages of verse. There is, however, one passage in it

The ole queen’s-arm thet gran'ther Young which may be repeated here, since it bears di- Fetched back f'om Concord busted. rectly upon the poem which serves as a sort of prelude to the series.

The very room, coz she was in, “ The only attempt I had ever made at any- Seemed warm f'om floor to ceilin', thing like a pastoral (if that may be called an An' she looked full ez rosy agin attempt which was the result almost of pure

Ez the apples she was peelin'. accident) was in The Courtin'. While the introduction to the First Series was going through the press, I received word from the printer

'T was kin' o' kingdom-come to look that there was a blank page left which must

On sech a blessed cretur, be filled. I sat down at once and improvised

A dogrose blushin' to a brook another fictitious' notice of the press,' in which,

Ain't modester nor sweeter.



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widely known by several printed discourses swering demands for autographs, a labor (all of which I may be permitted without im- exacting enough in itself, and egregiously modesty to state have been deemed worthy so to him, who, being no ready penman, of preservation in the Library of Harvard cannot sign so much as his name without College by my esteemed friend Mr. Sibley), strange contortions of the face (his nose, it seemed becoming that I should not only even, being essential to complete success) testify to the genuineness of the following and painfully suppressed Saint-Vitus-dance production, but call attention to it, the of every muscle in his body. This, with his more as Mr. Biglow had so long been silent having been put in the Commission of the as to be in danger of absolute oblivion. I Peace by our excellent Governor (O, si sic insinuate no claim to any share in the omnes !) immediately on his accession to authorship (vix ea nostra voco) of the works office, keeps him continually employed. already published by Mr. Biglow, but Haud inexpertus loquor, having for many merely take to myself the credit of having years written myself J. P., and being not fulfilled toward them the office of taster seldom applied to for specimens of my chi(experto crede), who, having first tried, could rography, a request to which I have someafterward bear witness (credenzen it was times over weakly assented, believing as I aptly named by the Germans), an office al- do that nothing written of set purpose can ways arduous, and sometimes even danger- properly be called an autograph, but only ous, as in the case of those devoted persons those uopremeditated sallies and lively who venture their lives in the deglutition of runnings which betray the fireside Man inpatent medicines (dolus latet in generalibus, stead of the hunted Notoriety doubling on there is deceit in the most of them) and his pursuers. But it is time that I should thereafter are wonderfully preserved long bethink me of St. Austin's prayer, libera me enough to append their signatures to tes- a meipso, if I would arrive at the matter in timonials in the diurnal and hebdomadal hand. prints. I say not this as covertly glancing Moreover, I had yet another reason for at the authors of certain manuscripts which taking up the pen myself. I am informed have been submitted to my literary judg- that “The Atlantic Monthly” is mainly inment (though an epick in twenty-four books debted for its success to the contributions on the “ Taking of Jericho might, save and editorial supervision of Dr. Holmes, for the prudent forethought of Mrs. Wilbur whose excellent “Annals of America" in secreting the same just as I had arrived occupy an honored place upon my shelves. beneath the walls and was beginning a The journal itself I have never seen; but if catalogue of the various horns and their this be so, it might seem that the recomblowers, too ambitiously emulous in longa- mendation of a brother-clergyman (though nimity of Homer's list of ships, might, I par magis quam similis) should carry a say, have rendered frustrate any hope I greater weight. I suppose that you have a could entertain vacare Musis for the small

department for historical lucubrations, and remainder of my days), but only the further should be glad, if deemed desirable, to forto secure myself against any imputation of ward for publication my

“ Collections for unseemly forthputting. I will barely sub- the Antiquities of Jaalam," and my (now join, in this connexion, that, whereas Job happily complete) pedigree of the Wilbur was left to desire, in the soreness of his family from its fons et origo, the Wild Boar heart, that his adversary had written a of Ardennes. Withdrawn from the active book, as perchance misanthropically wish- duties of my profession by the settlement of ing to indite a review thereof, yet was not a colleague-pastor, the Reverend Jeduthun Satan allowed so far to tempt him as to Hitchcock, formerly of Brutus Four-Corsend Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar each with ners, I might find time for further contrian unprinted work in his wallet to be sub- butions to general literature on similar mitted to his censure. But of this enough. topicks. I have made large advances toWere I in need of other excuse, I might wards a completer genealogy of Mrs. Wiladd that I write by the express desire of bur's family, the Pilcoxes, not, if I know Mr. Biglow himself, whose entire winter myself, from any idle vanity, but with the leisure is occupied, as he assures me, in an- sole desire of rendering myself useful in my

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day and generation. Nulla dies sine lineâ. I willing to put a certain qualified faith in inclose a meteorological register, a list of the the incidents and the details of life and births, deaths, and marriages, and a few me- manners which give to his narratives some morabilia of longevity in Jaalam East Parish portion of the interest and entertainment for the last half-century. Though spared which characterizes a Century Sermon. to the unusual period of more than eighty It may be expected of me that I should years, I find no diminution of my faculties say something to justify myself with the or abatement of my natural vigor, except a world for a seeming inconsistency with my scarcely sensible decay of memory and a well - known principles in allowing my necessity of recurring to younger eyesight youngest son to raise a company for the or spectacles for the finer print in Čruden. war, a fact known to all through the meIt would gratify me to make some further dium of the publick prints. I did reason provision for declining years from the with the young man, but expellas naturam emoluments of my literary labors. I had furcâ, tamen usque recurrit. Having myself intended to effect an insurance on my life, been a chaplain in 1812, I could the less but was deterred therefrom by a circular wonder that a man of war had sprung from from one of the offices, in which the sudden my loins. It was, indeed, grievous to send death of so large a proportion of the in- my Benjamin, the child of my old age ; sured was set forth as an inducement, that but after the discomfiture of Manassas, I it seemed to me little less than a tempting with my own hands did buckle on his of Providence. Neque in summâ inopiâ armor, trusting in the great Comforter levis esse senectus potest, ne sapienti quidem. and Commander for strength according to

Thus far concerning Mr. Biglow; and my need. For truly the memory of a brave so much seemed needful (brevis esse laboro) son dead in his shroud were a greater staff by way of preliminary, after a silence of of my declining years than a living coward fourteen

years. He greatly fears lest he (if those may be said to have lived who may in this essay have fallen below himself, carry all of themselves into the grave with well knowing that, if exercise be dangerous them), though his days might be long in on a full stomach, no less so is writing on a the land, and he should get much goods. full reputation. Beset as he has been on It is not till our earthen vessels are broken all sides, he could not refrain, and would that we find and truly possess the treasure only imprecate patience till he shall again that was laid up in them. Migravi in have “got the hang” (as he calls it) of an animam meam, I have sought refuge in my accomplishment long disused. Thé letter own soul ; nor would I be shamed by the of Mr. Sawin was received some time in heathen comedian with his Nequam illud last June, and others have followed which verbum, bene vult, nisi bene facit. During will in due season be submitted to the pub- our dark days, I read constantly in the lick. How largely his statements are to be inspired book of Job, which I believe to depended on, I more than merely dubitate. contain more food to maintain the fibre of He was always distinguished for a tendency the soul for right living and high thinking to exaggeration, - it might almost be quali- than all pagan literature together, though I fied by a stronger term. Fortiter mentire, would by no means vilipend the study of aliquid hæret, seemed to be his favorite rule the classicks. There I read that Job said in of rhetoric. That he is actually where he his despair, even as the fool saith in his says he is the postmark would seein to con- heart there is no God, “The tabernacles firm ; that he was received with the publick of robbers prosper, and they that provoke demonstrations he describes would appear God are secure.” (Job xii. 6.) But I consonant with what we know of the habits sought farther till I found this Scripture of those regions ; but further than this I also, which I would have those perpend who venture not to decide. I have sometimes have striven to turn our Israel aside to the suspected a vein of humor in him which worship of strange gods : “If I did deleads him to speak by contraries ; but since, spise the cause of my man-servant or of my in the unrestrained intercourse of private maid-servant when they contended with me, life, I have never observed in him any what then shall I do when God riseth up ? striking powers of invention, I am the more and when he visiteth, what shall I answer

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