Nonfiction > Walt Whitman > Prose Works > IV. Pieces in Early Youth > 1. Dough-Face Song
Walt Whitman (1819–1892).  Prose Works. 1892.
IV. Pieces in Early Youth
1. Dough-Face Song
        —Like dough; soft; yielding to pressure; pale.—Webster’s Dictionary.
        WE are all docile dough-faces,
  They knead us with the fist,
They, the dashing southern lords,
  We labor as they list;
For them we speak—or hold our tongues,
  For them we turn and twist.
We join them in their howl against
  Free soil and “abolition,”
That firebrand—that assassin knife—
  Which risk our land’s condition,
And leave no peace of life to any
  Dough-faced politician.
To put down “agitation,” now,
  We think the most judicious;
To damn all “northern fanatics,”
  Those “traitors” black and vicious;
The “reg’lar party usages”
  For us, and no “new issues.”
Things have come to a pretty pass,
  When a trifle small as this,
Moving and bartering nigger slaves,
  Can open an abyss,
With jaws a-gape for “the two great parties;”
  A pretty thought, I wis!
  We know not where they ’re found.
Rights of the masses—progress!—bah!
  Words that tickle and sound;
But claiming to rule o’er “practical men”
  Is very different ground.
Beyond all such we know a term
  Charming to ears and eyes,
With it we’ll stab young Freedom,
  And do it in disguise;
Speak soft, ye wily dough-faces—
  That term is “compromise.”
And what if children, growing up,
  In future seasons read
The thing we do? and heart and tongue
  Accurse us for the deed?
The future cannot touch us;
  The present gain we heed.
Then, all together, dough-faces!
  Let’s stop the exciting clatter,
And pacify slave-breeding wrath
  By yielding all the matter;
For otherwise, as sure as guns,
  The Union it will shatter.
Besides, to tell the honest truth
  (For us an innovation,)
Keeping in with the slave power
  Is our personal salvation;
We ’ve very little to expect
  From t’ other part of the nation.
Besides it’s plain at Washington
  Who likeliest wins the race,
What earthly chance has “free soil”
  For any good fat place?
While many a daw has feather’d his nest,
  By his creamy and meek dough-face.
Take heart, then, sweet companions,
  Be steady, Scripture Dick!
Webster, Cooper, Walker,
  To your allegiance stick!
With Brooks, and Briggs and Phœnix,
  Stand up through thin and thick!
We do not ask a bold brave front;
  We never try that game;
’Twould bring the storm upon our heads,
  A huge mad storm of shame;
Evade it, brothers—“compromise”
  Will answer just the same.



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