The Worlds Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906. Vols. IV: American
A. W. to his Wife
By Artemus Ward (Charles Farrar Browne) (18341867)
From Complete Works of Artemus Ward
DEAR BETSY: I write you this from Boston, the Modern Atkins, as it is denomyunated, altho I skurcely know what those air. Ill giv you a kursoory view of this city. Ill klassify the paragrafs under seprit headins, arter the stile of those Emblems of Trooth and Poority, the Washington correspongdents:
The winder of my room commands a exileratin view of Copps Hill, where Cotton Mather, the father of the Reformers and sich, lies berrid. There is men even now who worship Cotton, and there is wimin who wear him next their harts. But I do not weep for him. Hes bin ded too lengthy. I aint goin to be absurd, like old Mr. Skillins, in our naborhood, who is ninety-six years of age, and gets drunk every lection day, and weeps Bitturly because he haint got no Parents. Hes a nice Orphan, he is.
Old Mr. Fanuel is ded, but his Hall is still into full blarst. This is the Cradle in which the Goddess of Liberty was rocked, my dear. The Goddess hasnt bin very well durin the past few years, and the numris quack doctors she called in didnt help her any; but the old gals physicians now are men who understand their bisness, Major-generally speakin, and I think the day is near when shell be able to take her three meals a day, and sleep nights as comfbly as in the old time.
The State House is filled with Statesmen, but sum of em wear queer hats. They buy em, I take it, of hatters who carry on hat stores downstairs in Dock Square, and whose hats is either ten years ahead of the prevailin stile, or ten years behind itjest as a intellectooal person sees fit to think about it. I had the pleasure of talkin with sevril members of the legislatur. I told em the Eye of 1,000 ages was onto we American peple of to-day. They seemed deeply impressed by the remark, and wantid to know if I had seen the Grate Orgin.
This celebrated institootion is pleasantly situated in the Barroom of Parkers, in School Street, and has poopils from all over the country. I had a letter, yesdy, by the way, from our mootual son, Artemus, Jr., who is at Bowdoin College, in Maine. He writes that he is a Bowdoin Arab. & is it cum to this? Is this Boy, as I nurtered with a Parents care into his childhoods houris he goin to be a Grate American humorist? Alars! I fear it is too troo. Why didnt I bind him out to the Patent Travelin Vegetable Pill Man, as was struck with his appearance at our last County Fair, & wanted him to go with him and be a Pillist? Ar, these Boysthey little know how the old folks worrit about em. But my father he never had no occasion to worrit about me. You know, Betsy, that when I fust commenced my career as a moral exhibitor with a six-legged cat and a Bass drum, I was only a simple peasant childskurce 15 summers had flowd over my yoothful hed. But I had sum mind of my own. My father understood this. Go, he saidgo, my son, and hog the public! (He ment, knock em, but the old man was allus a little given to slang.) He put his withered han tremblinly onto my hed, and went sadly into the house. I thought I saw tears tricklin down his venerable chin, but it might hav been tobacker jooce. He chawd.
I went over to Lexington yesdy. My Boosum hov with sollum emotions. & this, I said to a man who was drivin a yoke of oxen, this is where our Revolootionary forefathers asserted their independence and spilt their Blud. Classic ground!
I returned in the Hoss Cars, part way. A pooty girl in spectacles sot near me, and was tellin a young man how much he reminded her of a man she used to know in Waltham. Pooty soon the young man got out; and, smilin in a seductiv manner, I said to the girl in spectacles, Dont I remind you of somebody you used to know?
Yes, she sed, you do remind me of one man, but he was sent to the penitentiary for stealin a Barl of mackrilhe died there, so I conclood you aint him. I didnt pursoo the conversation. I only heard her silvery voice once more durin the remainder of the jerney. Turnin to a respectable lookin female of advanced summers, she asked her if she had seen the Grate Orgin.
He asked La Fayette to lend him five dollars, promisin to pay him in the fall; but Lafy said he couldnt see it in those lamps. Lafy was French, and his knowledge of our langwidge was a little shaky.
Immejutly on my rival here I perceeded to the Spotswood House, and callin to my assistans a young man from our town who writes a good runnin hand, I put my ortograph on the Register, and handin my umbrella to a bald-heded man behind the counter, who I sposed was Mr. Spotswood, I said, Spotsy, how does she run?
My brother, I sed, air you aware that youve been mancipated? Do you realize how glorus it is to be free? Tell me, my dear brother, does it not seem like some dream, or do you realize the great fact in all its livin and holy magnitood?
I was showd to the cowyard, and laid down under a one-mule cart. The hotel was orful crowded, and I was sorry I hadnt gone to the Libby Prison. Tho I should hav slept comfble enuff if the bedclothes hadnt bin pulled off me durin the night by a scoundrel who cum and hitched a mule to the cart and druv it off. I thus lost my cuverin, and my throat feels a little husky this mornin.
I met a man to-dayI am not at liberty to tell his name but he is a old and inflooential citizen of Richmond, and sez he, Why! weve bin fightin agin the Old Flag! Lor bless me, how singlar! He then borrerd five dollars of me and bust into a flood of teers.
Sed another (a man of standin, and formerly a bitter rebuel), Let us at once stop this effooshun of Blud! The Old Flag is good enuff for me. Sir, he added, you air from the North! Have you a doughnut or a piece of custard pie about you?
I told him no; but I knew a man from Vermont who had just organized a sort of restaurant, where he could go and make a very comfortable breakfast on New England rum and cheese. He borrowed fifty cents of me, and askin me to send him Wm. Lloyd Garrisons ambrotype as soon as I got home, he walked off.
Sed another: Theres bin a tremendious Union feelin here from the fust. But we was kept down by a rain of terror. Have you a dagerretype of Wendell Phillips about your person? and will you lend me four dollars for a few days till we air once more a happy and united people?
He was opposed to the war at the fust, and drawd his sword very reluctant. In fact, he wouldnt hav drawd his sword at all, only he had a large stock of military clothes on hand, which he didnt want to waste. He sez the colored man is right, and he will at once go to New York and open a Sabbath School for Negro minstrels.
Feelin a little peckish, I went into a eatin house to-day and encountered a young man with long black hair and slender frame. He didnt wear much clothes, and them as he did wear looked onhealthy. He frowned on me, and sed, kinder scornful, So, siryou cum here to taunt us in our hour of trouble, do you?
Well, yes, I sed, we hav now and then a man among us who isnt a cold-bluded scoundril. Young man, I mildly but gravely sed, this crooil war is over, and youre lickt! Its rather necessary for sumbody to lick in a good, square, lively fite, and in this ere case it happens to be the United States of America. You fit splendid, but we was too many for you. Then make the best of it, & let us all give in, and put the Republic on a firmer basis nor ever.
I dont gloat over your misfortins, my young fren. Fur from it. Im a old man now, & my hart is softer nor it once was. You see my spectacles is mistend with suthin very like tears. Im thinkin of the sea of good rich blud that has bin spilt on both sides in this dredful war! Im thinkin of our widders and orfuns North, and of yourn in the South. I kin cry for both. Bleeve me, my young fren, I kin place my old hands tenderly on the fair yung hed of the Virginny maid whose lover was laid low in the battle-dust by a Fedral bullet, and say, as fervently and piously as a venerble sinner like me kin say anythin, God be good to you, my poor dear, my poor dear.
I riz up to go, & takin my yung Southern fren kindly by the hand, I sed, Yung man, adoo! You Southern fellers is probly my brothers, tho youve occasionally had a cussed queer way of showin it! Its over now. Let us all jine in and make a country on this continent that shall giv all Europe the cramp in the stummuck evry time they look at us! Adoo, adoo!
And as I am through, Ill likewise say adoo to you, jentle reader, merely remarkin that the Star Spangled Banner is wavin round loose agin, and that there dont seem to be anything the matter with the Goddess of Liberty beyond a slite cold.