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The painter of his boat he lightly threw Each had a theory that the human ear Around a lotos-stem, and brought her to. A providential tunnel was, which led
To a huge vacuum (and surely here The strange youth had a look as if he They showed some knowledge of the genmight
eral head,) Have trod far planets where the atmosphere For cant to be decanted through, a mere (Of nobler temper) steeps the face with | Auricular canal or mill-race fed light,
night, sunshine and in Just as our skins are tanned and freckled
From their vast heads of milk-and-waterHis air was that of a cosmopolite
power. In the wide universe from sphere to sphere; Perhaps he was (his face had such grave The present being a peculiar case, beauty)
Each with unwonted zeal the other scouted, An officer of Saturn's guards off duty. Put his spurred hobby through its every
pace, Both saints began to unfold their tales at Pished, pshawed, poohed, horribled, bahed, once,
jeered, sneered, flouted, Both wished their tales, like simial ones, Sniffed, nonsensed, infideled, fudged, with prehensile,
his face That they might seize his ear; fool ! Looked scorn too nicely shaded to be knave! and dunce!
shouted, Flew zigzag back and forth, like strokes of And, with each inch of person and of pencil
vesture, In a child's fingers; voluble as duns,
Contrived to bint some most disdainful They jabbered like the stones on that gesture.
immense hill In the Arabian Nights; until the stranger At length, when their breath's end was Began to think his ear-drums in some come about, danger.
And both could now and then just gasp
“impostor !” In general those who nothing have to say Holding their heads thrust menacingly Contrive to spend the longest time in doing out, it;
As staggering cocks keep up their fighting They turn and vary it in every way,
posture, Hashing it, stewing it, mincing it, ragouting The stranger smiled and said, "Beyond a it;
doubt Sometimes they keep it purposely at bay, 'T is fortunate, my friends, that you have Then let it slip to be again pursuing it; They drone it, groan it, whisper it and United parts of speech, or it had been shout it,
Impossible for me to get between. Refute it, flout it, swear to't, prove it, doubt it.
“ Produce! says Nature, — what have you
produced ? Our saints had practised for some thirty | A new strait-waistcoat for the human mind; years;
Are you not limbed, nerved, jointed, Their talk, beginning with a single stem,
arteried, juiced, Spread like a banyan, sending down live As other men ? yet, faithless to your piers,
kind, Colonies of digression, and, in them,
Rather like noxions insects you are used Germs of yet new dispersion; once by the To puncture life's fair fruit, beneath the ears,
rind They could convey damnation in a hem, Laying your creed-eggs, whence in time
And blow the pinch of premise-priming off there spring
to eat and buzz and sting.
“ 'T was Vishnu, thou vile whirligig!”
and so The good old quarrel was begun anew; One would have sworn the sky was black
as sloe, Had but the other dared to call it blue; Nor were the followers who fed them
slow To treat each other with their curses, too, Each hating t' other (moves it tears or
langhter ?) Because he thought him sure of hell here
So makes a god of vengeance and of blood;
Another, but no matter, they reverse Creation's plan, out of their own vile mud
Pat up a god, and burn, drown, hang, or Whoever worships not; each keeps his stud Of texts which wait with saddle on and
bridle To hunt down atheists to their ugly idol. “This, I perceive, has been your occupa
tion; You should have been more usefully em
ployed; All men are bound to earn their daily
ration, Where States make not that primal contract
void By cramps and limits; simple devastation Is the worm's task, and what he has de
stroyed His monument; creating is man's work And that, too, something more than mist
At last some genius built a bridge of boats Over the stream, and Ahmed's zealots filed
Across, upon a mission to (cut throats And) spread religion pure and undefiled; They sowed the propagandist's wildest
oats, Cutting off all, down to the smallest child, And came back, giving thanks for such
fat mercies, To find their harvest gone past prayers
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 writo (on whatever subject) first to
papers were published in the Standard. 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 er. 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. 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 could have Parson Wilbur's letter in the Courier of last had a literary noin 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
collected into a volume. Lowell's letters, writ
CAMBRIDGE, MAS8., 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. Wilbur. 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 ediwhich 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 asking, “ Are these yours ?
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 it 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 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 recognition 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 bills 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,