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will not seem destitute of truth to those whose fortunate education began in a country village. And, first, let us hang up his charcoal portrait of the schooldame.
"Propped on the marsh, a dwelling now, I see The humble school-house of my A, B, C, Where well-drilled urchins, each behind his tire,
Waited in ranks the wished command to fire,
"There young Devotion learned to climb with ease
The gnarly limbs of Scripture family-trees,
To guttural Pequot or resounding Greek,
A tale which grew in wonder, year by year,
Beat on stove drum with one uncaptured stick,
And, ere death came the lengthening tale to lop,
Himself had fired, and seen a red-coat drop; Had Joe lived long enough, that scrambling fight
Had squared more nearly with his sense of right,
And vanquished Percy, to complete the tale, Had haminered stone for life in Concord jail."
I do not know that the foregoing extracts ought not to be called my own rather than Mr. Biglow's, as, indeed, he maintained stoutly that my file had left nothing of his in them. I should not, perhaps, have felt entitled to take so great liberties with them, had I not more than suspected an hereditary vein of poetry in myself, a very near ancestor having written a Latin poem in the Harvard Gratulatio on the accession of George the Third. Suffice it to say, that, whether not satisfied with such limited approbation as I could conscientiously bestow, or from a sense of natural inaptitude, certain it is that my young friend could never be induced to any further essays in this kind.
affirmed that it was to him like writing in a foreign tongue, - that Mr. Pope's versification was like the regular ticking of one of Willard's clocks, in which one could fancy, after long listening, a certain kind of rhythm or tune, but which yet was only a poverty-stricken tick, tick, after all, and that he had never seen a sweet-water on a trellis growing so fairly, or in forms so pleasing to his eye, as a fox-grape over a scrub-oak in a swamp. He added I know not what, to the effect that the sweet-water would only be the more disfigured by having its leaves starched and ironed out, and that Pegasus (so he called him) hardly looked right with his mane and tail in curl-papers. These and other such opinions I did not ong strive to eradicate, attributing them rather to a defective education and senses untuned by too long familiar
ity with purely natural objects, than to a perverted moral sense. I was the more inclined to this leniency since sufficient evidence was not to seek, that his verses, as wanting as they certainly were in classic polish and point, had somehow taken hold of the public ear in a surprising manner. So, only setting him right as to the quantity of the proper name Pegasus, I left him to follow the bent of his natural genius.
Yet could I not surrender him wholly to the tutelage of the pagan (which, literally interpreted, signifies village) muse without yet a further effort for his conversion, and to this end I resolved that whatever of poetic fire yet burned in myself, aided by the assiduous bellows of correct models, should be put in requisition. Accordingly, when my ingenious young parishioner brought to my study a copy of verses which he had written touching the acquisition of territory resulting from the Mexican war, and the folly of leaving the question of slavery or freedom to the adjudication of chance, I did myself indite a short fable or apologue after the manner of Gay and Prior, to the end that he might see how easily even such subjects as he treated of were capable of a more refined style and more elegant expression. Mr. Biglow's production was as follows:
THE TWO GUNNERS,
Two fellers, Isrel named and Joe,
Joe did n't want to go a mite;
He felt ez though 't warnt skeercely right,
Past noontime they went trampin' round
Isrel he ups and grabs his gun;
Sez he, "By ginger, here's some fun!"
Bang went queen's-arm, ole gander flopped
Sez Joe, "I would n't ha' been hired
"I won't agree to no such bender,'
So they disputed to an' fro
"Don't le's stay here an play the fool,
Now 't wuz the hottest kind o' weather,
My own humble attempt was in manner and form following, and I print it here, I sincerely trust, out of no vainglory, but solely with the hope of doing good.
LEAVING THE MATTER OPEN.
BY HOMER WILBUR, A. M.
Two brothers once, an ill-matched pair.
Were different as rats from rabbits; Stout Farmer North, with frugal care, Laid up provision for his heir,
Not scorning with hard sun-browned hands
He did, and made it pay him, too;
His wood brought profit when 't was cold,
On tother hand, his brother South
Was keeping droves of long-legged swine,
And, when they happened to break through,
He ought to drive them home again,
Meanwhile, South's swine increasing fast,
Poor North, whose Anglo-Saxon blood
But somehow South could ne'er incline
"For peace's sake, Liberal concessions I will make; Though I believe, upon my soul, I've a just title to the whole, I'll make an offer which I call Gen'rous, we 'll have no fence at all; Then both of us, whene'er we choose, Can take what part we want to use; If you should chance to need it first, Pick you the best, I'll take the worst."
"Agreed!" cried North; thought he, This fall
With wheat and rye I'll sow it all;
He could n't spy a single blade on't.
"Did I create them with a snout?"
"I paid the money";
Clenched like a knot of natural law,
Heard something clicking wondrous clear.
To turn now to other matters, there are two things upon which it would seem fitting to dilate somewhat more largely in this place, the Yankee character and the Yankee dialect. And, first, of the Yankee character, which has wanted neither open maligners, nor even more dangerous enemies in the persons of those unskilful painters who have given to it that hardness, angularity, and want of proper perspective, which, in truth, belonged, not to their subject, but to their own niggard and unskilful pencil.
New England was not so much the colony of a mother country, as a Hagar driven forth into the wilderness. The little self-exiled band which hither in 1620 came, not to seek gold, but to found a democracy. They came that they might have the privilege to work and pray, to sit upon hard benches and listen to painful preachers as long as they would, yea, even unto thirtyseventhly, if the spirit so willed it. And surely, if the Greek might boast his Thermopyla, where three hundred men fell in resisting the Persian, we may well be proud of our Plymouth Rock, where a handful of men, women and children not merely faced, but yan
quished, winter, famine, the wilderness, and the yet more invincible storge that drew them back to the green island far away. These found no lotus growing upon the surly shore, the taste of which could make them forget their little native Ithaca; nor were they so wanting to themselves in faith as to burn their ship, but could see the fair west wind belly the homeward sail, and then turn unrepining to grapple with the terrible Unknown.
As Want was the prime foe these hardy exodists had to fortress themselves against, so it is little wonder if that traditional feud is long in wearing out of the stock. The wounds of the old warfare were long a-healing, and an east wind of hard times puts a new ache in every one of them. Thrift was the first lesson in their hornbook, pointed out, letter after letter, by the lean finger of the hard schoolmaster, Necessity. Neither were those plump, rosy-gilled Englishmen that came hither, but a hard-faced, atrabilious, earnest-eyed race, stiff from long wrestling with the Lord in prayer, and who had taught Satan to dread the new Puritan hug. Add two hundred years' influence of soil, climate, and exposure, with its necessary result of idiosyncrasies, and we have the present Yankee, ful. of expedients, half-master of all trades, inventive in all but the beautiful, full of shifts, not yet capable of comfort, armed at all points against the old enemy Hunger, longanimous, good at patching, not so careful for what is best as for what will do, with a clasp to his purse and a button to his pocket, not skilled to build against Time, as in old countries, but against sore-pressing Need, accustomed to move the world with no TоU OTO but his own two feet, and no lever but his own long forecast. A strange hybrid, indeed, did circumstance beget, here in the New World, upon the old Puritan stock, and the earth never before saw such mysticpracticalism, such niggard geniality, such calculating-fanaticism, such castiron-enthusiasm, such sour-faced-humor, such close-fisted-generosity. This
new Græculus esuriens will make a living out of anything. He will invent new trades as well as tools. His brain is his capital, and he will get education at all risks. Put him on Juan Fernandez, and he would make a spellingbook first, and a salt-pan afterward. In cælum, jusseris, ibit, -or the other way either, it is all one, so anything is to be got by it. Yet, after all, thin, speculative Jonathan is more like the Englishman of two centuries ago than John Bull himself is. He has lost somewhat in solidity, has become fluent and adaptable, but more of the original groundwork of character remains. feels more at home with Fulke Greville, Herbert of Cherbury, Quarles, George Herbert, and Browne, than with his modern English cousins. He is nearer than John, by at least a hundred years, to Naseby, Marston Moor, Worcester, and the time when, if ever, there were true Englishmen. John Bull has suffered the idea of the Invisible to be very much fattened out of him. Jonathan is conscious still that he lives in the world of the Unseen as well as of the Seen. To move John you must make your fulcrum of solid beef and pudding; an abstract idea will do for Jonathan.
TO THE INDULGENT READER.
My friend, the Rev. Mr. Wilbur, having been seized with a dangerous fit of illness, before this Introduction had passed through the press, and being incapacitated for all literary exertion, sent to me his notes, memoranda, &c., and requested me to fashion them into some shape more fitting for the general eye. This, owing to the fragmentary and disjointed state of his manuscripts, I have felt wholly unable to do; yet, being un willing that the reader should be deprived of such parts of his lucubrations as seemed more finished, and not well discerning how to segregate these from the rest. I have con cluded to send them all to the press precisely as they are.