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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)

The Yankee Recruit

  • From “The Biglow Papers”
  • MISTER BUCKINUM, the follerin Billet was writ hum by a Yung feller of our town that wuz cussed fool enuff to goe a-trottin’ inter Miss Chiff arter a Drum and fife. It ain’t Nater for a feller to let on that he’s sick o’ any bizness that he went intu off his own free will and a Cord, but I rather cal’late he’s middlin tired o’ voluntearin’ By this time. I bleeve yu may put dependunts on his statemence. For I never heered nothin’ bad on him let Alone his havin’ what Parson Wilbur cals a pongshong for cocktales, and ses it wuz a soshiashun of idees sot him agoin’ arter the Crootin’ Sargient cos he wore a cocktale onto his hat.
  • his Folks gin the letter to me and I shew it to parson Wilbur and he says it oughter Bee printed, send it to mister Buckinum, ses he, i don’t ollers agree with him, ses he, but by Time, ses he, I du like a feller that ain’t a Feared.
  • I have intusspussed a Few refleckshuns hear and thair. We’re kind o’ prest with Hayin’.
  • Ewers respecfly,

  • This kind o’ sogerin’ aint a mite like our October trainin’,

    A chap could clear right out from there ef’t only looked like rainin’.

    An’ th’ Cunnles, tu, could kiver up their shappoes with bandanners,

    An’ sen the insines skootin’ to the barroom with their banners

    (Fear o’ gittin’ on ’em spotted), an’ a feller could cry quarter,

    Ef he fired away his ramrod artur tu much rum an’ water.

    Recollect wut fun we hed, you’n I on’ Ezry Hollis,

    Up there to Waltham plain last fall, ahavin’ the Cornwallis?

    This sort o’ thing ain’t jest like thet—I wished thet I wuz furder—

    Ninepunce a day fer killin’ folks comes kind o’ low for murder.

    (Wy I’ve worked out to slarterin’ some fer Deacon Cephas Billins,

    An’ in the hardest times there wuz I ollers teched ten shillins),

    There’s sutthin’ gits into my throat thet makes it hard to swaller,

    It comes so nateral to think about a hempen collar;

    It’s glory—but, in spite o’ all my tryin’ to git callous,

    I feel a kind o’ in a cart, aridin’ to the gallus.

    But wen it comes to bein’ killed—I tell ye I felt streaked

    The fust time ever I found out wy baggonets wuz peaked;

    Here’s how it wuz: I started out to go to a fandango,

    The sentinul he ups an’ sez, “Thet’s furder ’an you can go.”

    “None o’ your sarse,” sez I; sez he, “Stan’ back!” “Ain’t you a buster?”

    Sez I, “I’m up to all thet air, I guess I’ve ben to muster;

    I know wy sentinuls air sot; you aint agoin’ to eat us;

    Caleb haint no monopoly to court the scenoreetas;

    My folks to hum hir full ez good ez hisn be, by golly!”

    An’ so ez I wuz goin’ by, not thinkin’ wut would folly,

    The everlastin’ cus he stuck his one-pronged pitchfork in me

    An’ made a hole right thru my close ez ef I was an in’my.

    Wal, it beats all how big I felt hoorawin’ in old Funnel

    Wen Mister Bolles he gin the sword to our Leftenant Cunnle

    (It’s Mister Secondary Bolles, thet writ the prize peace essay;

    Thet’s wy he didn’t list himself along o’ us, I dessay).

    An’ Rantoul, tu, talked pooty loud, but don’t put his foot in it,

    Coz human life’s so sacred thet he’s principled agin’ it—

    Though I myself can’t rightly see it’s any wus achokin’ on ’em

    Than puttin’ bullets thru their lights, or with a bagnet pokin’ on ’em;

    How dreffle slick he reeled it off (like Blitz at our lyceam

    Ahaulin’ ribbins from his chops so quick you skeercely see ’em),

    About the Anglo-Saxon race (an’ saxons would be handy

    To du the buryin’ down here upon the Rio Grandy),

    About our patriotic pas an’ our star-spangled banner,

    Our country’s bird alookin’ on an’ singin’ out hosanner,

    An’ how he (Mister B—— himself) wuz happy fer Ameriky—

    I felt, ez sister Patience sez, a leetle mite histericky.

    I felt, I swon, ez though it wuz a dreffle kind o’ privilege

    Atrampin’ round thru Boston streets among the gutter’s drivelage;

    I act’ally thought it wuz a treat to hear a little drummin’,

    An’ it did bonyfidy seem millanyum wuz acomin’;

    Wen all on us got suits (darned like them wore in the state prison),

    An’ every feller felt ez though all Mexico was hisn.

    This ’ere’s about the meanest place a skunk could wal diskiver

    (Saltillo’s Mexican, I b’lieve, fer wut we call Salt river).

    The sort o’ trash a feller gits to eat doos beat all nater,

    I’d give a year’s pay fer a smell o’ one good blue-nose tater;

    The country here thet Mister Bolles declared to be so charmin’

    Throughout is swarmin’ with the most alarmin’ kind o’ varmin’.

    He talked about delishes froots, but then it was a wopper all,

    The holl on’t ’s mud an’ prickly pears, with here an’ there a chapparal;

    You see a feller peekin’ out, an’, fust you know, a lariat

    Is round your throat an’ you a copse, ’fore you can say, “Wut air ye at?”

    You never see sech darned gret bugs (it may not be irrelevant

    To say I’ve seen a scarabæus pilularius big ez a year old elephant),

    The rigiment come up one day in time to stop a red bug

    From runnin’ off with Cunnle Wright—’twuz jest a common cimex lectularius.

    One night I started up on eend an’ thought I wuz to hum agin,

    I heern a horn, thinks I it’s Sol the fisherman hez come agin,

    His bellowses is sound enough—ez I’m a livin’ creeter,

    I felt a thing go thru my leg—’twuz nothin’ more ’n a skeeter!

    Then there’s the yeller fever, tu, they call it here el vomito

    (Come, thet wun’t du, you landcrab there, I tell ye to le’ go my toe!

    My gracious! it’s a scorpion thet’s took a shine to play with ’t,

    I darsn’t skeer the tarnel thing fer fear he’d run away with ’t).

    Afore I came away from hum I hed a strong persuasion

    Thet Mexicans worn’t human beans—an ourang outang nation,

    A sort o’ folks a chap could kill an’ never dream on’t arter,

    No more’n a feller’d dream o’ pigs thet he had hed to slarter;

    I’d an idee thet they were built arter the darkie fashion all,

    And kickin’ colored folks about, you know, ’s a kind o’ national;

    But wen I jined I won’t so wise ez thet air queen o’ Sheby,

    Fer, come to look at ’em, they aint much diff’rent from wut we be,

    An’ here we air ascrougin’ ’em out o’ thir own dominions,

    Ashelterin’ ’em, ez Caleb sez, under our eagle’s pinions,

    Wich means to take a feller up jest by the slack o’ ’s trowsis

    An’ walk him Spanish clean right out o’ all his homes and houses;

    Wal, it does seem a curus way, but then hooraw fer Jackson!

    It must be right, fer Caleb sez it’s reg’lar Anglo-Saxon.

    The Mex’cans don’t fight fair, they say, they piz’n all the water,

    An’ du amazin’ lots o’ things thet isn’t wut they ough’ to;

    Bein’ they haint no lead, they make their bullets out o’ copper

    An’ shoot the darned things at us, tu, wich Caleb sez ain’t proper;

    He sez they’d ough’ to stan’ right up an’ let us pop ’em fairly

    (Guess when he ketches ’em at thet he’ll hev to git up airly),

    Thet our nation’s bigger’n theirn an’ so its rights air bigger,

    An’ thet it’s all to make ’em free thet we air pullin’ trigger,

    Thet Anglo-Saxondom’s idee’s abreakin’ ’em to pieces,

    An’ thet idee’s thet every man doos jest wut he damn pleases;

    Ef I don’t make his meanin’ clear, perhaps in some respex I can,

    I know thet “every man” don’t mean a nigger or a Mexican;

    An’ there’s another thing I know, an’ thet is, ef these creeturs,

    Thet stick an Anglo-Saxon mask onto State prison feeturs,

    Should come to Jalam Center fer to argify an’ spout on ’t,

    The gals ’ould count the silver spoons the minnit they cleared out on ’t.

    This goin’ ware glory waits ye haint one agreeable feetur,

    And ef it worn’t fer wakin’ snakes, I’d home agin short meter;

    Oh, wouldn’t I be off, quick time, ef’t worn’t thet I wuz sartin

    They’d let the daylight into me to pay me fer desartin’!

    I don’t approve o’ tellin’ tales, but jest to you I may state

    Our ossifers aint wut they wuz afore they left the Bay State;

    Then it wuz “Mister Sawin, sir, you’re midd’lin’ well now, be ye?

    Step up an’ take a nipper, sir; I’m dreffle glad to see ye”;

    But now it’s, “Ware’s my eppylet? Here, Sawin, step an’ fetch it!

    An’ mind your eye, be thund’rin’ spry, or damn ye, you shall ketch it!”

    Wal, ez the Doctor sez, some pork will bile so, but by mighty,

    Ef I hed some on ’em to hum, I’d give ’em linkumvity,

    I’d play the rogue’s march on their hides an’ other music follerin’——

    But I must dose my letter here for one on ’em’s a hollerin’,

    These Anglosaxon ossifers—wal, taint no use a jawin’,

    I’m safe enlisted fer the war,