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intonation of them, have an astonishing a guide in the woods say to his companvitality and power of propagation by the ions who were urging him to sing, "Wal, root, like the gardener's pest, quitch- I did sing once, but toons gut invented, an' grass,* while the application or combina- thet spilt my trade." Whoever has driven tion of them may be new. It is in these over a stream by a bridge made of slabs last that my countrymen seem to me full will feel the picturesque force of the epiof humor, invention, quickness of wit, and thet slab-bridged applied to a fellow of that sense of subtle analogy which needs shaky character. Almost every county only refining to become fancy and imagi. has some good die-sinker in phrase, whose nation. Prosaic as American life seems mintage passes into the currency of the in many of its aspects to a European, bleak whole neighborhood. Such a one described and bare as it is on the side of tradition, the county jail (the one stone building and ntterly orphanert of the solemn inspira- where all the dwellings are of wood) as tion of antiquity, I cannot help thinking “the house whose underpinnin' come up that th
v talk of unlettered men i to the eaves." and called hell “ the place among us is fuller of metaphor and of where they did n't rake up their fires phrases that suggest lively images than nights." I once asked a stage-driver if that of any other people I have seen the other side of a hill were as steep as Very many such will be found in Mr. the one we were climbing : “Steep? chain Bartlett's book, though his short list of lightnin' could n' go down it 'thout puttin' proverbs at the end seem to me, with one the shoe on!” And this brings me back or two exceptions. as un-American as pos- to the exaggeration of which I spoke he. sible. Most of them have no character at fore. To me there is something very tak. all but coarseness, and are quite too long. ing in the negro “so black that charcoal skirted for working proverbs, in which made a chalk-mark on him," and the language always “takes off its coat to it," wooden shingle “painted so like marble as a Yankee would say. There are plenty that it sank in water," as if its very conthat have a more native and puckery sciousness or its vanity had been overflavor, seedlings from the old stock often, persuaded by the cunning of the painter, and yet new varieties. One hears such I heard a man, in order to give a notion not seldom among us Easterners, and the of some very cold weather, say to another West would yield many more. “Mean that a certain Joe, who had been taking enough to steal acorns from a blind hog”;/ mercury, found a lump of quicksilver in “ Cold as the north side of a Jenooary each boot, when he went home to dinner. gravestone by starlight”; “Hungry as a This power of rapidly dramatizing a dry graven image" : "Pop'lar as a hen with fact into flesh and blood and the vivid one chicken"; "A hen's time ain't much"; conception of Joe as a human thermom“Quicker 'n greased lightnin'"; "Ther's eter strike me as showing a poetic sense sech a thing ez bein' tu" (our Yankee par. that may be refined into faculty. At aphrase of undev ayar); hence the phrase any rate there is humor here, and not tonin' round, nieaning a supererogatory mere quickness of wit, — the deeper and activity like that of flies: "Stingy enough I not the shallower quality. The tendency to skim his milk at both eends"; ""Hot as of humor is always towards overplus of the Devil's kitchen"; "Handy as a pocket expression, while the very essence of wit in a shirt”; “He's a whole team and the is its logical precision. Captain Basil dog under the wagon"; "All deacons are Hall denied that our people had any good, but there's odds in deacons" (to dea-humor, deceived, perhaps, by their gravity con berries is to put the largest atop); “So of manner. But this very seriousness is thievish they hev to take in their stone often the outward sign of that humorous walls nights"; t may serve as specimens. quality of the mind which delights in “I take my tea barfoot," said a back. tinding an element of identity in things woodsman when asked if he would have seemingly the most incongruous, and then cream and sugar. (I find barfoot, by the again in forcing an incongruity upon things way, in the Coventry Plays.) A man identical. Perhaps Captain Hall had no speaking to me once of a very rocky humor himself, and if so he would never clearing said, “Stone's got a pretty heavy find it. Did he always feel the point of mortgage on that land, and I overheard what was said to himself? I doubt it,
because I happen to know a chance he * Which, whether in that form, or under its once had given him in vain. The Captain aliases witch-grass and cooch-grass, points us back to its original Saxon quick.
was walking up and down the veranda of † And, by the way, the Yankee never sayo
a country tavern in Massachusetts while "o' nights, but uses the older adverbial form, the coach changed horses. A thunder. analogous to the Gerinan nachts.
| storm was going on, and, with that pleas
ant European air of indirect self-compli. : to him, “Behold, Sir George, the Greeks ment in condescending to be surprised by and Trojaus contending for the body of American merit, which we tind so concili. Patroclus !” the Admiral answered, peeating, he said to a countryman lounging vishly, “ Damn the Greeks and damn the against the door, “Pretty heavy thunder Trojans! I have other things to think of." you have here." The other, who had di. After the battle was won, Rodney thus vined at a glance his feeling of generous to Sir Charles, “Now, my dear friend, I concession to a new country, drawled am at the service of your Greeks and gravely, “Waal, we du, considerin' the Trojans, and the whole of Homer's Iliad, number of inhabitants." This, the more or as much of it as you please!” I had I analyze it, the more humorous does it some such feeling of the impertinence of seem. The same man was capable of wit sur pseudo-classicality when I chose our also, when he would. He was a cabinet- homely dialect to work in. Should we be maker, and was once employed to make nothing, because somebody had contrived some commandment-tables for the parish to be something (and that perhaps in a meeting-house. The parson, a very old provincial dialect) ages ago and to be man, annoyed him by looking into his nothing by our very attempt to be that workshop every morning, and cautioning something, which they had already been, him to be very sure to pick out “clear and which therefore nobody could be again mahogany without any knots in it." At without being a bore? Is there no way last, wearied out, he retorted one day : left, then, I thought, of being natural, of “Wal, Dr. B., I guess ef I was to leave being naif, which means nothing more the nots out o' some o' the c'man'ments, than native, of belonging to the age and 't 'ould soot you full ez wal !”
country in which you are born ? The If I had taken the pains to write down Yankee, at least, is a new phenomenon : the proverbial or pithy phrases I have let us try to be that. It is perhaps a pis heard, or if I had sooner thought of noting aller, but is not No Thoroughfare written the Yankeeisms I met with in my reading, up everywhere else? In the literary I might have been able to do more justice world, things seemed to me very much as to my theme. But I have done all I they were in the latter half of the last wished in respect to pronunciation, if I century. Pope, skimming the cream of have proved that where we are vulgar, we good sense and expression wherever he have the countenance of very good com- could find it, had made, not exactly pany. For, as to the jus et norma loquen- poetry, but an honest, salable butter of di, I agree with Horace and those who worldly wisdom which pleasantly lubri. have paraphrased or commented him, from cated some of the drier morsels of life's Boileau to Gray. I think that a good rule daily brearl, and, seeing this, scores of for style is Galiani's definition of sublime harmlessly insane people went on for the oratory, -"l'art de tout dire sans être next fifty years coaxing his buttermilk mis à la Bastille dans un pays où il est with the regular up and down of the pen. défendu de rien dire." I profess myself tameter churn. And in our day do we a fanatical purist, but with a hearty con not scent everywhere, and even carry tempt for the speech-gilders who affect away in our clothes against our will, that purism without any thorough, or even faint perfume of inusk which Mr. Tenny. pedagogic, knowledge of the engendure, son has left behind him, or worse, of growth, and affinities of the noble lan Heine's patchouli ! And might it not he guage about whose mésalliances they pro. possible to escape them by turning into fess (like Dean Alford) to be so solicitous. one of our narrow New England lanes, If they had their way —! “Doch es sey," shut in though it were by bleak stone says Lessing, “dass jene gothische Hof- walls on either hand, and where no better lichkeit eine unentbehrliche Tugend des flowers were to be gathered than goldenheutigen Umganges ist. Soll sie darum rod and hardhack ? unsere Schriften eben so schaal und falsch Beside the advantage of getting out of machen als unsern Umgang?" And Dray- the beaten track, our dialect offered others ton was not far wrong in affirming that hardly juferior. As I was abont to make
an endeavor to state them, I remembered “T is possible to climb,
something that the clear-sighted Goethe To kindle, or to slake,
had said about Hebel's Allemannische Although in Skelton's rhyme." Gedichte, which, making proper deduction
for special reference to the book under Cumberland in his Memoirs tells us that review, expresses what I would have said when, in the midst of Admiral Rodney's far better than I could hope to do: “Allen great sea-fight, Sir Charles Douglas said ' diesen innern guten Eigenschaften kommt die behagliche naive Sprache sehr zu stat none, but to answer such demands, I ten. Man findet mehrere sinnlich bedeu- / patched a conclusion upon it in a later tende und wohlklingende Worte .... von edition. Those who had only the first einem, zwei Buchstaben, Abbreviationen, continued to importune me. Afterward, Contractionen, viele kurze, leichte Sylben, being asked to write it out as an autoneue Reime, welches, mehr als man glaubt, graph for the Baltimore Sanitary Commis. ein Vortheil für den Dichter ist. Diese sion Fair, I arlded other verses, into some Elemente werden durch gliickliche Con- of which I infused a little more sentiment structionen und lebhafte Formen zu einem in a homely way, and after a fashion comStyl zusammengedrängt der zu diesem pleted it by sketching in the characters Zwecke vor unserer Büchersprache grosse and making a connected story. Most Vorzüge hat.” Of course I do not mean likely I have spoiled it, but I shall put it to imply that I have come near achieving | at the end of this Introduction, to answer any such success as the great critic here in- | once for all those kindly importunings. dicates, but I think the success is there, and As I have seen extracts from what purto be plucked by some more fortunate hand. | ported to be writings of Mr. Biglow,
Nevertheless, I was encouraged by the which were not genuine, I may properly approval of many whose opinions I valued. take this opportunity to say, that the two With a feeling too tender and grateful to volumes now published contain every line be mixed with any vanity, I mention as I ever printed under that pseudonyme, one of these the late A. H. Clough, who and that I have never, so far as I can remore than any one of those I have known member, written an anonymous article (no longer living), except Hawthorne, im- (elsewhere than in the North American pressed me with the constant presence Review and the Atlantic Monthly, during of that indefinable thing we call genius. my editorship of it) except a review of He often suggested that I should try my Mrs. Stowe's “Minister's Wooing," and, hand at some Yankee Pastorals, which some twenty years ago, a sketch of the would admit of more sentiment and a antislavery movement higher tone without foregoing the advan. | English journal. tage offered by the dialect. I have never A word more on pronunciation. I have completed anything of the kind, but, in endeavored to express this so far as I this Second Series, both my remembrance could by the types, taking such pains as, of his counsel and the deeper feeling I fear, may sometimes make the reading called up by the great interests at stake, harder than need be. At the same time, led me to venture some passages nearer by studying uniformity I have sometimes to what is called poetical than could have been obliged to sacrifice minute exactbeen admitted without incongruity into ness. The emphasis often modifies the the former series. The time seemed callhabitual sound. For example, for is coming to me, with the old poet,
monly fer (a shorter sound than fur for
far), but when emphatic it always be“Leave, then, your wonted prattlo comes for, as "wut for !" So too is proThe oaten reed forbear;
nounced like to (as it was anciently spelt), For I hear a sound of battle,
and to like ta (the sound as in the tou of And trumpets rend the air !"
touch), but too, when emphatic, changes
into tue, and to, sometimes, in similar The only attempt I had ever made at cases, into toe, as, “I did n' hardly know anything like a pastoral (if that may be wut toe du !" Where vowels come tocalled an attempt which was the result gether, or one precedes another following almost of pure accident) was in “The an aspirate, the two melt together, as was Courtin'." While the introduction to the common with the older poets who formed First Series was going through the press, their versification on French or Italian I received word from the printer that models. Drayton is thoroughly Yankee there was a blank page left which must be when he says “I'xpect," and Pope when filled. I sat down at once and improvised he says “t'inspire." With becomes someanother fictitious “notice of the press," times 'ith, 'ūth, or 'th, or even disappears in which, because verse would fill up wholly where it comes before the, as, “I space more cheaply than prose, I inserted went along th' Square" (along with the an extract from a supposed ballad of Mr. Squire), the are sound being an archaism Biglow. I kept no copy of it, and the which I have noticed also in choir, like printer, as directed, cut it off when the je old Scottish quhair." (Herrick has, gap was filled. Presently I began to re- * Greene, in his Quip for an Upstart Courtier, ceive letters asking for the rest of it, says, " to square it up and downe the streetes sometimes for the balance of it. I had before his mistresse.""
“Of flowers ne'er sucked by th' theeving in both respects so far as the British prov. bee.") Without becomes athout and 'thout. inces are concerned. To me the dialect Aflerioards always retains its locative s, was native, was spoken all about me when and is pronounced always ahlerwurds', a boy, at a time when an Irish day-laborer with a strong accent on the last syllable. was as rare as an American one now. This oddity has some support in the Since then I have made a study of it so erratic towards' instead of to'wards, which far as opportunity allowed. But when I we find in the poets and sometimes hear, write in it, it is as in a mother tongue, The sound given to the first syllable of and I am carried back far beyond any tu' wards, I may remark, sustains the Yan- studies of it to long-ago noonings in my kee lengthening of the o in to. At the father's hay-fields, and to the talk of Sam beginning of a sentence, ahterwurds has and Job over their jug of blackstrap under the accent on the first syllable ; at the the shadow of the ash-tree which still end of one, on the last ; as, “ah'terwurds' dapples the grass whence they have been he tol' me," "he tol' me ahterwurds'.' gone so long. The Yankee never makes a mistake in But life is short, and prefaces should be. his aspirates. U changes in many words And so, my good friends, to whom this to e, always in such, brush, tush, hush, introductory epistle is addressed, farewell. rush, blush, seldom in much, oftener in Though some of you have remonstrated trust and crust, never in mush, gust, bust, with me, I shall never write any niore tumble, or (?) flush, in the latter case “Biglow Papere," however great the probably to avoid confusion with flesh. I temptation, - great especially at the preshave heard flush with the è sound, how- ent tine, - unless it be to complete the ever. For the same reason, I suspect, original plan of this Series by bringing out never in gush (at least, I never heard it), Mr. Sawin as an “original Union man." because we have already one gesh for gash. The very favor with which they have been A and i short frequently become e short. received is a hindrance to me, by forcing U always becomes o in the prefix un (ex on me a self-consciousness from which I cept 1
o in return changes to u was entirely free when I wrote the First short in uv for of, and in some words be-Series. Moreover, I am no longer the ginning with om. T and d, b and p, v and same careless youth, with nothing to do w, remain intact. So much occurs to me but live to inyself, my books, and my in addition to what I said on this head in friends, that I was then. I always hated the preface to the former volume.
politics, in the ordinary sense of the word, Of course in what I have said I wish to and I am not likely to grow fonder of be understood as keeping in mind the dif- them, now that I have learned how rare it ference between provincialisms properly is to find a man who can keep principle so called and slang. Slang is always vul. clear from party and personal prejudice, gar, because it is not a natural but an or can conceive the possibility of another's affected way of talking, and all mere doing so. I feel as if I could in some sort tricks of speech or writing are offensive. claim to be an emeritus, and I am sure I do not think that Mr. Biglow can be that political satire will have full justice fairly charged with vulgarity, and I should done it by that genuine and delightful have entirely failed in my design, if I had humorist, the Rev. Petroleum V. Nasby. not made it appear that high and even I regret that I killed off Mr. Wilbur so refined sentiment may coexist with the soon, for he would have enabled me to shrewder and more comic elements of the bring into this preface a number of learned Yankee character. I believe that what is quotations, which must now go a-begging, essentially
and mean-spirited in and also enabled me to dispersonalize mypolitics seldom has its source in the body self into a vicarious egotism. He would of the people, but much rather among have helped me likewise in clearing myself those who are made timid by their wealth from a charge which I shall briefly touch or selfish by their love of power. A on, because my friend Mr. Hughes has democracy can afford much better than found it needful to defend me in his prefan aristocracy to follow out its convic- ace to one of the English editions of the tions, and is perhaps better qualified to “Biglow Papers." I thank Mr. Hughes build those convictions on plain princi. heartily for his friendly care of my good ples of right and wrong, rather than on name, and were his Preface accessible to the shifting sands of expediency. I had my readers here (as I am glad it is not, always thought “Sam Slick" à libel on for its partiality makes me blush), I the Yankee character, and a complete should leave the matter where he left it. falsification of Yankee modes of speech, The charge is of profanity, brought in by though, for aught I know, it may be true persons who proclaimed African slavery
of Divine institution, and is basert (so far and even the Poet, were as careful of as I have heard) on two passages in the God's honor as my critics are ever likely First Series
J. R. L. "An' you've gut to git up airly,
Ef you want to take in God," and,
THE COURTIN. “God '11 send the bill to you,” and on some Scriptural illustrations by GOD makes sech nights, all white an' Mr. Sawin.
still Now, in the first place, I was writing | Fur'z you can look or listen, under an assumed character, and must talk | Moonshine an' snow on field an' hill, as the person would whose mouthpiece I made myself. Will any one familiar with
| All silence an' all glisten. the New England countryman venture to tell me that he does not speak of sacred Zekle crep' up quite unbeknown things familiarly? that Biblical allusions An' peeked in thru' the winder, (allusions, that is, to the single book with | An' there sot Huldy all alone, whose language, from his church-going 'ith no one nigh to hender. habits, he is intimate) are not frequent on his lips? If so, he cannot have pursued his studies of the character on so many | A fireplace filled the room's one side long-ago muster-fields and at so many cat. With half a cord o' wood intle-shows as I. But I scorn any such line There warn't no stoves (tell comfort of defence, and will confess at once that |
died) one of the things I am proud of in my country (I am not s
To bake ye to a puddin'. such persons as I have assumed Mr. Sawin to be) that they do not put their Maker
The wa’nut logs shot sparkles out
Towards the pootiest, bless her, mudists had conceived a deep truth when an leetle flames danced all about they said, that “all things were in the The chiny on the dresser. power of God, save the fear of God"; and when people stand in great dread of an Agin the chimbley crook-necks hung, invisible power, I suspect they mistake
An' in amongst 'em rusted quite another personage for the Deity. I might justify myself for the passages
The ole queen's-arm thet gran'ther criticised by many parallel ones from
Young Scripture, but I need not. The Reverend Fetched back from Concord busted. Homer Wilbur's note-books supply me with three apposite quotations. The first
The very room, coz she was in, is from a Father of the Roman Church, the second from a Father of the Anglican,
Seemed warm from floor to ceilin', and the third from a Father of Modern
| An' she looked full ez rosy agin English poetry. The Puritan divines
Ez the apples she was peelin'. would furnish me with many more such. St. Bernard says, Sapiens nummularius est
| T was kin' o' kingdom-come to look Deus : nummum fictum non recipiet ; “A cunning money-changer is God : he will ! On sech a blessed cretur, take in no base coin." Latimer says, A dogrose blushin' to a brook “You shall perceive that God, by this Ain't modester nor sweeter. example, shaketh us by the noses and taketh us by the ears." Familiar enough, both of them, one would say ! But I
"} | He was six foot o' man, A 1, should think Mr. Biglow had verily stolen Clear grit an' human natur': the last of the two maligned passages from None could n't quicker pitch a ton Dryden's “Don Sebastian," where I find Nor dror a furrer straighter. "And beg of Heaven to charge the bill on me !"
He'd sparked it with full twenty gals, And there I leave the matter, being will. Hed squired 'em, danced 'em, druv ing to believe that the Saint, the Martyr, I