Abbildungen der Seite

both of national history and literature, which may be derived from this recovered relic of a former age.

YANKEE DOODLE, the popular name of our national medody, has exercised the critical ingenuity of the most eminent scholars and lexicographers. Some have had the folly to regard it as wholly insensate and ridiculous; others have supposed it to be the echo or imitation of some bird or animal, known to the earliest inhabitants of this continent, but now extinct. Such imitations are sometimes embodied in the Greek plays, as in the celebrated chorus of frogs in Aristophanes

Βρεκεκεκεξ, κοαξ κοαξ,

(Aristoph, Ran. 209-10 Ed. Dind.)

which so much annoyed Dionysius in his passage over the Styx. Others, with that reverence for antiquity which characterizes the true scholar, have sought for the origin and meaning of the words in the Saxon and German languages, and some have supposed them to be of Indian origin. Heckewelder, and after him the truly learned Dr. Webster, consider " Yankee" as an Indian corruption of "English." This and other theories equally fanciful will be fully discussed in the excursuses to the forthcoming edition. Happily, all doubt upon the question has been dissipated by the discovery of the original text. The melody must hereafter be known by the name we have given it, "IANKHE DOULE," being in fact the Greek words ΙΑΓΧΕ ΔΟΥΛΕ;-Ιάγχε the imperative perfect of the rule ΙΑΙΝΩ, (to rejoice) and Δοῦλε from Δοῦλος (a slave) :-meaning "Rejoice, O slave!" or "Let the enslaved rejoice!"-Thus. what was before obscure and insensate becomes at once lucid and beautifully pertinent to a free nation.

This derivation, were it even conjectural, and not founded, as it is, upon irrefragable proof, would be no more indirect and equivocal than Dean Swift's celebrated etymology of " Peloponnesus," which it is not necessary for us to repeat; or Bailey's "Hocus pocus,' from "Hoc est corpus meum," used at the moment of transubstantiation, in the Romish service; or "helter-skelter," from hilariter et celeriter"—the benediction of the priest at the breaking up of the assembly.

Other and more important inferences, however, may be drawn from this valuable discovery. The American version is evidently indigenous, and has not been transmitted through the English, to whom indeed, the original appears to be wholly unknown. There is internal proof of this in the fragment itself. Kgiuvov, (v. 4) is a coarse mealy pudding of Indian corn, a grain to which the English were strangers until the discovery of America. This popular condiment called "HASTY PUDDING" in the American version, is certainly not of English origin, and even the name is scarcely known abroad.

Hear what the poet says of this truly antique and national article of food. Hasty Pudding.

For thee through Paris, that corrupted town,

How long, in vain, I wandered up and down;
Where shameless Bacchus with his drenching hoard,

Cold from his cave, usurps the smoaking board.
London is lost in smoke and steeped in tea:
No Yankee there can lisp the name of thee;
The uncouth word, a libel on the town,
Would call a proclamation from the crown. *

Nor is the name known on the continent, as we learn from the same high authority:

Thee the soft nations round the warm Levant,
Polanta call, the French of course Polante.
E'en in thy native regions, how I blush,
To hear the Pennsylvanians call thee mush!
On Hudson's banks, while men of Belgic spawn
Insult and eat thee by the name suppawn.
All spurious appellations void of truth;

I've known thee better from my carliest youth,
Thy name is Hasty-Pudding!

Yet even this distinguished patriot and poet little suspected the antiquity of his favorite dish, as he could trace it no farther back than the aborigines of America

Declare what lovely squaw, in days of yore,

Ere great Columbus sought thy native shore,
First gave thee to the world ;" &c. &c.t

Again, the expression Eirou xoguòs, in v. 5. evidently refers to the same American grain,-" corn stalks," in the only sense the pas sage admits of, being unknown in England. Thus a fair and conclusive inference may be drawn from this brief relic, that Indian corn was known to the Greeks, at least four hundred and fifty years before Christ; that is, in the time of Herodotus; a fact which throws much light upon the origin of the aborigines of America, and may yet afford a clue to unravel that mysterious enigma. Indeed it may not unlikely be found, upon further inquiry, that the Greeks and the aborigines of this continent both derived this sublime production from a common and more ancient source-from the Sanscrit or Persian for instance-and thus may be discovered the origin of the literature of both races. Molière borrowed his Amphitrion (as he did many of his comedies) from Plautus; Plautus translated it from the Greek, and, as all scholars know, it has been discovered by Dow in the Hindostanee!

The Ephesian Matron of La Fontaine was avowedly taken from the Italian; the Italians derived it from Petronius, and Petronius from the Greek. It has since, as we know, been discovered in the * Barlow's "Hasty Pudding," Canto I.

† Ib.

Arabian Tales; and finally Du Halde detected the same tale among the versions made by the Jesuits from the Chinese! But these speculations are leading me too far.

The Greeks, it is well known, had different songs for the various trades, for the names of many of which I must refer the learned reader to Athenæus. The corn-grinders, the workers in wool, the weavers, the reapers, the kneaders, the bathers, and the galleyrowers, had each their respective songs. Athenæus has not preserved any of them, but we have, from another source the song of Callistratus, to the glory of Harmodius and Aristogiton, which we learn from current Grecian literature, was sung by the potter at his wheel, and the mariner on his bench. We have an anonymous translation of the "crow song," (which is preserved in Athenæus,) commencing as follows:

My good worthy masters, a pittance bestow,

Some oat meal or barley or wheat for the crow;
A loaf, or a penny, or e'en what you will-
From the poor man, a grain of his salt may suffice,

For your crow swallows all and is not over nice;

And the man who can now give his grain and no more,
May, another day, give from a plentiful store, &c.

But once again I forbear to follow out this inexhaustible subject; leading as it does to innumerable conjectures and inquiries interesting to the scholar and archæologist. All these matters will be discussed, at length, in the forthcoming edition of the poem. Indeed I am not without strong hopes of discovering the original of several other celebrated and popular ballads. Among them, the elegiac

verses commencing

Heigh diddle diddle,

The Cat's in the fiddle!" &c. &c.

bear a strong resemblance to the celebrated Greek ode,

Α Ιδάλια ! Ιδάλια !

and are not unlike, in metre, to Horace's

Eheu fugaces,

Postume! Postume! Car. Lib. II. 14.

I shall not, however, any longer tantalize the curious with further indications of my discoveries, but subscribe myself, very respectfully,

* Deip. Lib. XIV. Cap. 3.

Your obedient servant



(Dedication of a MS. Poem, entitled "A Visit to a Tropical Island.")


Oh, lovely Blanche-I give to thee

My thoughts at morning, noon, and night!

Thy tender glances fall on me,

Thy form floats softly in my sight,
And, to my bowers of calm delight,
Thou comest like an airy sprite-
A creature, wove of morning beams,
And mist-wreaths from the summer streams.
Thou art not real--but a child

Of fancy, an imagined wight,

A something graceful, sportive, wild,

Whose charms I would but cannot write;
Thy name is thy true semblance, white-
A lily without stain or blight!

To thee, my constant love, mine own-
Claimed, wooed and won by me alone-
My beautiful abstraction, brought
From the sweet clime of cloudless thought,

I dedicate each gentle tone,

That in this long-forsaken lyre

The lovely vision can inspire.

Come! Hear me sing of regions, known
To birds that from the North have flown,
In search of trellis-arbors, where
The warm sun sheds a glowing beam,
And makes each shadow grateful seem,

That falls from leaf and blossom there.
Would thou and I, my Blanche, had plumes,
That we might seek those forest glooms,
Where undecaying verdure blooms!

Oh, then how swiftly would we fly,
From cloud and mist and winter sky,
And this unsmiling shore,

To isles, where all is blue on high,
And winds, like lovers, sing and sigh
To beauties they adore!


Let us but look this much dreaded monster, "the Specie Clause," boldly and straight-forward in the face, and like many of the other bugbears by which children of all ages allow themselves to be frightened out of their senses, its lineaments will not perhaps appear so very terrible after all. A great many honest people have actually been deluded into the belief-if so vague and undefined a notion is entitled to the name of a belief—that this same atrocious "Specie Clause" is to prove another Pandora's box of every imaginable evil to be let loose upon the country, without even the compensation of a hope remaining at the bottom. That under its operation credit is to perish, commerce is to perish; that a Spartan régime of iron money and black broth is to return, with a system of helotage of the great mass of the nation, under the oppressive sway of a few rapacious office-holders, through their monopoly of the "better currency" of gold and silver, while all the rest of the people must fain content themselves with filthy slips of lamp-blacked rag.

This is scarcely an exaggerated picture of the idea which a great many well meaning persons have been made to entertain of this much abused "Specie Clause," in the bills which have been introduced by the friends of the Administration in Congress, for the future collection, custody and disbursement of the public revenue. We regard it as one of the most striking instances of the effect of that reckless and thoughtless party spirit which we see daily proceeding to such insane excesses,-that because a great financial question, involving a few and very simple principles of political economy, has happened unfortunately to become mixed up with our party politics, rational people can allow themselves to be deluded to such a degree by notions so ridiculously preposterous and absurd. A few pages only will suffice to present the whole subject in a very plain and popular way, to such readers as are honestly disposed to pursue the truth, in such a light as to dissipate all these empty and vapory clouds of mystification with which it has for years been the unresting vocation of a countless host of writers and speakers to envelope a perfectly simple and easy question.

The main question now agitating this great community is this, whether or not paper-money shall continue to be exclusively the currency of the country. An enormous interest has grown up in the midst of us-connecting itself in the most intimate alliance,

« ZurückWeiter »