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A SECOND LETTER FROM B. SAWIN, ESQ.
[In the following epistle, we behold Mr. Sawin returning, a miles emeritus, to the bosom of his family. Quantum mutatus! The good Father of us all bad doubtless intrusted to the keeping of this child of his certain faculties of a constructive kind. He had put in him a share of that vital force, the nicest economy of every minute atom of which is necessary to the perfect development of Humanity. He had given him a brain and heart, and so had equipped his soul with the two strong wings of knowledge and love, whereby it can mount to hang its nest under the eaves of heaven. And this child, so dowered, he had intrusted to the keeping of his vicar, the State. How stands the account of that stewardship ? The State, or Society (call her by what name you will), had taken no manner of thought of him till she saw him swept out into the street, the pitiful leavings of last night's debauch, with cigar-ends, lemon-parings, tobacco-quids, slops, vile stenches, and the whole loathsome next-morning of the bar-room, an own child of the Almighty God! I remember him as he was brought to be christened, a ruddy, rugged babe ; and now there he wallows, reeking, seething, — the dead corpse, not of a man, but of soul, - a putrefying lump, horrible for the life that is in it. Comes the wind of heaven, that good Samaritan, and parts the hair upon his forehead, nor is too nice to kiss those parched, cracked lips ; the morning opens upon him her eyes full of pitying sunshine, the sky yearns down to him, and there he lies fermenting. O sleep ! let me not profane thy holy name by calling that stertorous unconsciousness a slumber! By and by comes along the State, God's vicar. Does she say, “My poor, forlorn foster-child ! Behold here a force which I will make dig and plant and build for me " ? Not so, but, “ Here is a recruit ready-made to my hand, a piece of destroying energy lying unprofitably idle.” So she claps an ugly gray suit on him, puts a musket in his grasp, and sends him off, with Gubernatorial and other godspeeds, to do duty as a destroyer.
I made one of the crowd at the last Mechanics' Fair, and, with the rest, stood gazing in wonder at a perfect machine, with its soul of fire, its boiler-heart that sent the hot blood pulsing along the iron arteries, and its thews of steel. And while I was admiring the adaptation of means to end, the harmonious involutions of contrivance, and the never-bewildered complexity, I saw a grimed and greasy fellow, the imperious engine's lackey and drudge, whose sole office was to let fall, at intervals, a drop or two of oil upon a certain joint. Then my soul said within me, See there a piece of mechanism to which that other you marvel at is but as the rude first effort of a child, - a force which not merely suffices to set a few wheels in motion, but which can send an impulse all through the infinite future, - a contrivance, not for turning out pins, or stitching buttonholes, but for making Hamlets and Lears. And yet this thing of iron shall be housed, waited on, guarded from rust and dust, and it shall be a crime but so much as to scratch it with a pin ; while the other, with its fire of God in it, shall be buffeted hither and thither, and finally sent carefully a thousand miles to be the target for a Mexican cannon-ball. Unthrifty Mother State ! My heart burned within me for pity and indignation, and I renewed this covenant with my own soul, — In aliis mansuetus ero, at, in blasphemiis contra Christum, non ita. — H. W.]
I SPOSE you wonder ware I be; I can't tell, fer the
soul o' me,
Exacly ware I be myself, meanin' by thet the
boll o' me. Wen I left hum, I hed two legs, an' they worn't
bad ones neither, (The scaliest trick they ever played wuz bringin'
on me hither,) Now one on 'em 's I dunno ware; - they thought
I wuz adyin',
An' sawed it off because they said 't wuz kin'
o' mortifyin'; I'm willin' to believe it wuz, an' yit I don't see,
nuther, Wy one shoud take to feelin' cheap a minnit
sooner 'n t' other, Sence both wuz equilly to blame; but things is ez
they be; It took on so they took it off, an' thet 's enough fer
There's one good thing, though, to be said about
my wooden new one, The liquor can't git into it ez 't used to in the true
one; So it saves drink; an' then, besides, a feller
could n't beg A gretter blessin' then to hev one ollers sober peg ; It's true a chap 's in want o'two fer follerina
drum, But all the march I'm up to now is jest to King
I've lost one eye, but thet 's a loss it's easy to sup
ply Out o' the glory thet I 've gut, fer thet is all my
eye; An' one is big enough, I guess, by diligently usin'
it, To see all I shall ever git by way o' pay fer losin'it; Off'cers I notice, who git paid fer all our thumps
an' kickins, Du wal by keepin' single eyes arter the fattest
So, ez the eye's put fairly out, I 'll larn to go with
out it, An' not allow myself to be no gret put out about
it. Now, le' me see, thet is n't all; I used, 'fore leav
in' Jaalam, To count things on my finger-eends, but sutthin'
seems to ail 'em: Ware's my left hand ? Oh, darn it, yes, I recol
lect wut's come on 't; I haint no left arm but my right, an' thet 's gut jest
a thumb on 't ; It aint so hendy ez it wuz to cal'late a sum on ’t. I've hed some ribs broke, — six (I bl’ieve), -I
haint kep' no account on 'em ; Wen pensions git to be the talk, I 'll settle the
amount on 'em. An' now I'm speakin' about ribs, it kin' o' brings
to mind One thet I could n't never break, - the one I lef'
behind; Ef you should see her, jest clear out the spout
o' your invention An'
pour the longest sweetnin' in about an annooal
pension, An' kin' o' hint (in case, you know, the critter
should refuse to be Consoled) I aint so 'xpensive now to keep ez wut
I used to be ; There's one arm less, ditto one eye, an' then the
leg thet 's wooden Can be took off an' sot away wenever ther's a pudI spose you think I'm comin' back ez opperlunt ez
thunder, With shiploads o' gold images an' varus sorts o'
plunder; Wal, 'fore I vullinteered, I thought this country
wuz a sort o' Canaan, a reg'lar Promised Land flowin' with rum
an' water, Ware propaty growed up like time, without no cul
tivation, An' gold wuz dug ez taters be among our Yankee
nation, Ware nateral advantages were pufficly amazin', Ware every rock there wuz about with precious
stuns wuz blazin', Ware mill-sites filled the country up ez thick ez
you could cram 'em, An' desput rivers run about a beggin' folks to
dam em; Then there were meetinhouses, tu, chockful o' gold
an' silver Thet you could take, an' no one could n't hand ye
in no bill fer Thet's wut I thought afore I went, thet 's wut
them fellers told us Thet stayed to hum an' speechified an' to the buz
zards sold us; I thought thet gold-mines could be gut cheaper
than Chiny asters, An' see myself acomin' back like sixty Jacob As
But sech idees soon melted down an' did n't leave