Слике страница
PDF
ePub

affirming my cherished sentiments in a sermoil 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 tò 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 obtundé easistimaret, though supported pugnis el 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. Wos eacemplaria Graeca nocturma 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 corre

spondences 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 clos

ing one eye, or by presenting them with a phial of Egyptian darkness to be speculated upon by their respective

constituencies. These answers would be susceptible of

whatever retrospective construction the exigencies of the political campaign might seem to demand, and the candidate could take his position on either side of the fence with entire consistency. Or, if letters must be written, profitable use might be made of the Dighton rock hieroglyphic or the cuneiform script, every fresh decipherer of which is enabled to educe a different meaning, whereby a sculptured stone or two supplies us, and will probably continue to supply posterity, with a very vast and various body of authentic history. For even the briefest epistle in the ordinary chirography is dangerous. There is scarce any style so compressed that superfluous words may not be detected in it. A severe critic might curtail that famous brevity of Caesar's by two thirds, drawing his pen through the supererogatory ven; 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 2 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 Anti-slavery

may lurk in a flourish.-H. W.]

No. VIIH.
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

WORL. K.I. 15

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 States 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 Ibe ; 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 should take to feelin' cheap a minnit sooner on 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 Ilê . 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 sober peg :

« ПретходнаНастави »