Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > American
The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. I–V: American
A Letter
By James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)
From “The Biglow Papers”
From a Candidate for the Presidency in Answer to Suttin Questions Proposed by Mr. Hosea Biglow, Inclosed in a Note from Mr. Biglow to S. H. Gay, Esq., Editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard.
*        *        *        *        *
  DEER SIR its gut to be the fashun now to rite letters to the candid 8s and i wus chose at a publick Meetin in Jaalam to du wut wus nessary fur that town. i writ to 271 ginerals and gut ansers to 209. tha air called candid 8s but I don’t see nothin candid about em. this here 1 wich I send wus thought satty’s factory. I dunno as it’s ushle to print Poscrips, but as all the ansers I got hed the saim, I sposed it wus best. times has gretly changed. Formaly to knock a man into a cocked hat wus to use him up, but now it ony gives him a chance fur the cheef madgustracy.—H. B.

DEAR SIR,—You wish to know my notions
  On sartin pints thet rile the land;
There’s nothin’ thet my natur so shuns
  Ez bein’ mum or underhand:
I’m a straight-spoken kind o’ creetur        5
  Thet blurts right out wut’s in his head,
An’ ef I’ve one pecooler feetur,
  It is a nose thet wunt be led.
So, to begin at the beginnin’,
  An’ come direcly to the pint,        10
I think the country’s underpinnin
  Is some consid’ble out o’ jint;
I ain’t agoin’ to try your patience
  By tellin’ who done this or thet,
I don’t make no insinooations,        15
  I jest let on I smell a rat.
Thet is, I mean, it seems to me so,
  But, ef the public think I’m wrong,
I wunt deny but wut I be so,—
  An’, fact, it don’t smell very strong;        20
My mind’s tu fair to lose its balance
  An’ say wich party hez most sense;
There may be folks o’ greater talence
  Thet can’t set stiddier on the fence.
I’m an eclectic; ez to choosin’        25
  ’Twixt this an’ thet, I’m plaguy lawth;
I leave a side thet looks like losin’,
  But (wile there’s doubt) I stick to both;
I stan’ upon the Constitution,
  Ez preudunt statesmun say, who’ve planned        30
A way to git the most profusion
  O’ chances ez to ware they’ll stand.
Ez fer the war, I go agin it,—
  I mean to say I kind o’ du,—
Thet is, I mean thet, bein’ in it,        35
  The best way wuz to fight it thru;
Not but wut abstract war is horrid,
  I sign to thet with all my heart,—
But civlyzation doos git forrid
  Sometimes upon a powder-cart.        40
About thet darned Proviso matter
  I never hed a grain o’ doubt,
Nor I aint one my sense to scatter
  So’s no one couldn’t pick it out;
My love fer North an’ South is equil,        45
  So I’ll jest answer plump an’ frank,
No matter wut may be the sequil,—
  Yes, Sir, I am agin a Bank.
Ez to the answerin’ o’ questions,
  I’m an off ox at bein’ druv,        50
Though I aint one thet ary test shuns
  ’Ill give our folks a helpin’ shove;
Kind o’ promiscoous I go it
  Fer the holl country, an’ the ground
I take, ez nigh ez I can show it,        55
  Is pooty gen’ally all round.
I don’t appruve o’ givin’ pledges;
  You’d ough’ to leave a feller free,
An’ not go knockin’ out the wedges
  To ketch his fingers in the tree;        60
Pledges air awfle breachy cattle
  Thet preudunt farmers don’t turn out,
Ez long ’z the people git their rattle,
  Wut is there fer ’m to grout about?
Ez to the slaves, there’s no confusion        65
  In my idees consarnin’ them,—
I think they air an Institution,
  A sort of—yes, jest so,—ahem:
Do I own any? Of my merit
  On thet pint you yourself may jedge:        70
All is, I never drink no sperit,
  Nor I haint never signed no pledge.
Ez to my principles, I glory
  In hevin’ nothin’ o’ the sort
I aint a Wig, I aint a Tory,        75
  I’m jest a candidate, in short;
Thet’s fair an’ square an’ parpendicler,
  But, ef the Public cares a fig
To hev me an’ thin’ in particler,
  Wy, I’m a kind o’ peri-wig.        80
P. S.
Ez we’re a sort o’ privateerin’,
  O’ course, you know, it’s sheer an’ sheer,
An’ there is sutthin’ wuth your hearin’
  I’ll mention in your privit ear;
Ef you git me inside the White House,        85
  Your head with ile I’ll kin’ o’ ’nint
By gittin’ you inside the Lighthouse
  Down to the eend o’ Jaalam Pint.
An’ ez the North hez took to brustlin’
  At bein’ scrouged frum off the roost,        90
I’ll tell ye wut’ll save all tusslin’
  An’ give our side a harnsome boost,—
Tell ’em thet on the Slavery question
  I’m RIGHT, although to speak I’m lawth;
This gives you a safe pint to rest on,        95
  An’ leaves me frontin’ South by North.

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