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James Russell Lowell

(22 February 1819 – 12 August 1891 / Cambridge, Massachusetts)

A Letter from a Candidate for the Presidency


Dear Sir—You wish to know my notions
On sartin pints thet rile the land;
There's nothin' thet my natur so shuns
Es bein' mum or underhand;
I'm a straight-spoken kind o' creetur
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 directly to the pint,
I think the country's underpinnin'
Is some consid'ble out o' jint;
I aint agoin' to try your patience
By tellin' who done this or thet,
I don't make no insinooations,
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;
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'
'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
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,
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.

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,
So I'll just 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 'am an off ox at bein' druv,
Though I aint one thet ary test shuns
I'll 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,
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;
Pledges air awfle breachy cattle
Thet preudent 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
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;
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,
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.

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,
Your head with ile I'll kio' o' 'nint
By gitt'n' YOU inside the Light-house
Down to the eend o' Jaalam Pint

An' ez the North hez took to brustlin'
At bein' scrouged from off the roost,
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,
An' leaves me frontin' South by North.
Editor notes
A LETTER 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.
JAMES RUSSEL LOWELL

Deer Sir its gut to be the fashun now to rite letters to the candid 8s
and I wus chose at a public Meetin in Jalaam to du wut wus nessary fur
that town. I writ to 271 ginerals and gut ansers to 209. the air called
candid 8s but I don't see nothin candid about em. this here 1 which 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 furthe
cheef madgutracy.-H. B

Submitted: Thursday, May 10, 2012

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