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FROM MR. HOSEA BIGLOW TO THE HON. J. T. BUCKINGHAM, EDITOR OF THE BOSTON COURIER, COVERING A LETTER FROM MR. B.
SAWIN, PRIVATE IN THE
[This letter of Mr. Sawin's was not originally written in verse. Mr. Biglow, thinking it peculiarly susceptible of metrical adornment, translated it, so to speak, into his own vernacular tongue. This is not the time to consider the question, whether rhyme be a mode of expression natural to the human race. If leisure from other and more important avocations be granted, I will handle the matter more at large in an appendix to the present volume. In this place I will barely remark, that I have sometimes noticed in the unlanguaged prattlings of infants a fondness for alliteration, assonance, and even rhyme, in which natural predisposition we may trace the three degrees through which our Anglo-Saxon verse rose to its culmination in the poetry of Pope. I would not be understood as questioning in these remarks that pious theory which supposes that children, if left entirely to themselves,
would naturally discourse in Hebrew. For this the authority of one experiment is claimed, and I could, with Sir Thomas Browne, desire its establishment, inasmuch as the acquirement of that sacred tongue would thereby be facilitated. I am aware that Herodotus states the conclusion of Psammeticus to have been in favor of a dialect of the Phrygian. But, beside the chance that a trial of this importance would hardly be blessed to a Pagan monarch whose only motive was curiosity, we have on the Hebrew side the comparatively recent investigation of James the Fourth of Scotland. I will add to this prefatory remark, that Mr. Sawin, though a native of Jaalam, has never been a stated attendant on the religious exercises of my congregation. I consider my humble efforts prospered in that not one of my sheep hath ever indued the wolf's clothing of war, save for the comparatively innocent diversion of a militia training. Not that my flock are backward to undergo the hardships of defensive warfare. They serve cheerfully in the great army which fights even unto death pro aris et focis, accoutred with the spade, the axe, the plane, the sledge, the spelling-book, and other such effectual weapons against want and ignorance and unthrift. I have taught them (under God) to esteem our human institutions as but tents of a night, to be stricken whenever Truth puts the bugle to her lips and sounds a march to the heights of wider-viewed intelligence and more perfect organization.-H. W.]
MISTER BUCKINUM, the follerin Billet was writ hum by a Yung feller of our town that wuz cussed fool enuff to goe atrottin inter Miss Chiff arter a Drum and fife. to let on that he's sick o' intu off his own free will
it ain't Nater for a feller any bizness that He went and a Cord, but I rather
cal'late he's middlin tired o' voluntearin By this Time. I bleeve u may put dependunts on his statemence. For I never heered nothin bad on him let Alone his havin what Parson Wilbur cals a pongshong for cocktales, and he ses it wuz a soshiashun of idees sot him agoin arter the Crootin Sargient cos he wore a cocktale onto his hat.
his Folks gin the letter to me and i shew it to parson Wilbur and he ses it oughter Bee printed. send It to mister Buckinum, ses he, i don't ollers agree with him, ses he, but by Time,* ses he, I du like a feller that ain't a Feared.
I have intusspussed a Few refleckshuns hear and thair. We're kind o' prest with Hayin.
THIS kind o' sogerin' aint a mite like our October trainin',
A chap could clear right out from there ef 't only looked like rainin',
An' th' Cunnles, tu, could kiver up their shappoes with bandanners,
* In relation to this expression, I cannot but think that Mr. Biglow has been too hasty in attributing it to me. Though Time be a comparatively innocent personage to swear by, and though Longinus in his discourse IIɛpì "Yovs has commended timely oaths as not only a useful but sublime figure of speech, yet I have always kept my lips free from that abomination. Odi profanum vulgus, I hate your swearing and hectoring fellows.H. W.
An' send the insines skootin' to the bar-room with their banners,
(Fear o' gittin' on 'em spotted,) an' a feller could cry quarter
Ef he fired away his ramrod arter tu much rum an'
Recollect wut fun we hed, you'n' I an' Ezry
Up there to Waltham plain last fall, along o' the Cornwallis? *
This sort o' thing aint jest like thet,—I wish thet I wuz furder,-†
Nimepunce a day fer killin' folks comes kind o' low fer murder,
(Wy I've worked out to slarterin' some fer Deacon Cephas Billins,
An' in the hardest times there wuz I ollers tetched ten shillins,)
There's sutthin' gits into my throat thet makes it hard to swaller,
It comes so nateral to think about a hempen col
It's glory, but, in spite o' all my tryin' to git callous,
I feel a kind o' in a cart, aridin' to the gallus. But wen it comes to bein' killed,—I tell ye I felt streaked
The fust time 'tever I found out wy baggonets wuz peaked;
Here's how it wuz: I started out to go to a fan
The sentinul he ups an' sez,
you can go."
"Thet's furder 'an
*i hait the Site of a feller with a muskit as I du pizn But their
is fun to a cornwallis I aint agoin' to deny it.-H. B.
the moans Not quite so fur I guess.-H. B.
"None o' your sarse," sez I; sez he, "Stan' back!" "Aint you a buster?"
Sez I, "I'm up to all thet air, I guess I've ben to muster;
I know wy sentinuls air sot; you aint agoin' to
Caleb haint no monopoly to court the seenoreetas; My folks to hum air full ez good ez hisn be, by golly!"
An' so ez I wuz goin' by, not thinkin' wut would folly,
The everlastin' cus he stuck his one-pronged pitchfork in me
An' made a hole right thru my close ez ef I wuz an in'my.
Wal, it beats all how big I felt hoorawin' in ole Funnel
Wen Mister Bolles he gin the sword to our Leftenant Cunnle,
(It's Mister Secondary Bolles,* thet writ the prize peace essay;
Thet's why he didn't list himself along o' us, I dessay,)
An' Rantoul, tu, talked pooty loud, but don't put his foot in it,
Coz human life's so sacred thet he's principled agin it,—
Though I myself can't rightly see it's any wus achokin' on 'em,
Than puttin' bullets thru their lights, or with a bagnet pokin' on 'em;
How dreffle slick he reeled it off, (like Blitz at our lyceum
*the ignerant creeter means Sekketary; but he ollers stuck to his books like cobbler's wax to an ile-stone.--H. B.