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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. 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 old 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 the vexations and anxieties of housekeeping. It may be true enough that miscet haec illis, prohibetque Clo tho 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 stand 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 de.end 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 trea son, 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 sup pressing 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 aristocratical 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 ex tremeness in his views, more pardona ble in the poet than 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 & 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
It's war we 're in, not politics;
It 's systems wrastlin' now, not parties;
An' victory in the eend 'll fix
An' wut's the Guv'ment folks about? Tryin' to hope ther' 's nothin' doin', An' look ez though they did n't doubt Sunthin' pertickler wuz a brewin'.
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,
Fer instance, shinplaster idees
Last year, the Nation, at a word, When tremblin' Freedom cried to shield her,
Flamed weldin' into one keen sword
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', Square-sot with thousan'-ton belief
In him an' us, ef earth went rockin'!
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
still unprepared to believe in the authenticity of the manifestations. During his residence with me his de
portment 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 pre pared to say which. It had once be longed 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
So far Mr. Hitchcock, who seems perfectly master of Webster's bridged quarto, and whose flowing style leads him into certain further 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 windowglass 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 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 have 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 gesta of this collection, and partly as a warning to their putative author which may keep him from such indecorous pranks for the future.
P. Ovidii Nasonis carmen heroicum maca. ronicum perplexametrum, inter Getas getico more compostum, denuo per medium är den diabolice tispiritualem, adjuvante mensa obsessâ, recuperatum, curâque Jo. Conradi Schwarzii umbræ, aliis necnon plurimis adjuvantibus, restitutum.
PUNCTORUM garretos colens et cellara
Plerumque insidos solita fluitare liquore
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!
Insignes juvenesque, illo certamine lictos,
Colemane, Tylere, nec vos oblivione relinquam.