James Russell Lowell

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

Jonathan To John - Poem by James Russell Lowell

It don't seem hardly right, John,
When both my hands was full,
To stump me to a fight, John,—
Your cousin, tu, John Bull!
Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess
We know it now,' sez he,
'The lion's paw is all the law,
Accordin' to J. B.,
Thet's fit for you an' me!'
You wonder why we're hot, John?
Your mark wuz on the guns,
The neutral guns, thet shot, John,
Our brothers an' our sons:
Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess
There's human blood,' sez he,
'By fits an' starts, in Yankee hearts,
Though 't may surprise J. B.
More 'n it would you an' me.'

Ef I turned mad dogs loose, John,
On your front-parlor stairs,
Would it jest meet your views, John,
To wait and sue their heirs?
Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess,
I only guess,' sez he,
'Thet ef Vattel on his toes fell,
'Twould kind o' rile J. B.,
Ez wal ez you an' me!'

Who made the law thet hurts, John,
Heads I win,—ditto tails?
'J. B.' was on his shirts, John,
Onless my memory fails,
Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess
(I'm good at thet),' sez he,
'Thet sauce for goose ain't jest the juice
For ganders with J. B.,
No more than you or me!'

When your rights was our wrongs, John,
You didn't stop for fuss,—
Britanny's trident prongs, John,
Was good 'nough law for us.
Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess,
Though physic's good,' sez he,
'It doesn't foller that he can swaller
Prescriptions signed 'J. B.,'
Put up by you an' me!'

We own the ocean, tu, John:
You mus'n' take it hard,
Ef we can't think with you, John,
It's jest your own back-yard.
Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess,
Ef thet's his claim,' sez he,
'The fencin'-stuff 'll cost enough
To bust up friend J. B.,
Ez wal ez you an' me!'

Why talk so dreffle big, John,
Of honor when it meant
You didn't care a fig, John,
But jest for ten per cent?
Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess
He's like the rest,' sez he:
'When all is done, it's number one
Thet's nearest to J. B.,
Ez wal ez you an' me!'

We give the critters back, John,
Cos Abram thought 'twas right;
It warn't your bullyin' clack, John,
Provokin' us to fight.
Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess
We've a hard row,' sez he,
'To hoe jest now; but thet somehow,
May happen to J. B.,
Ez wal ez you an' me!'

We ain't so weak an' poor, John,
With twenty million people,
An' close to every door, John,
A school-house an' a steeple.
Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess
It is a fact,' sez he,
'The surest plan to make a Man
Is, think him so, J. B.,
Ez much ez you or me!'

Our folks believe in Law, John;
An' it's for her sake, now,
They've left the ax an' saw, John,
The anvil an' the plough.
Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess,
Ef 'twarn't for law,' sez he,
'There'd be one shindy from here to Indy,
An' thet don't suit J. B.
(When 'tain't 'twixt you an' me!)'

We know we've got a cause, John,
Thet's honest, just an' true;
We thought 'twould win applause, John,
Ef nowheres else, from you.
Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess
His love of right,' sez he,
'Hangs by a rotten fibre o' cotton:
There's natur' in J. B.,
Ez wal ez you an' me!'

The South says, 'Poor folks down!' John,
An, 'All men up!' say we,—
White, yaller, black, an' brown, John:
Now which is your idee?
Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess,
John preaches wal,' sez he;
'But, sermon thru, an' come to du,
Why, there's the old J. B.
A crowdin' you an' me!'

Shall it be love, or hate, John?
It's you thet's to decide;
Ain't your bonds held by Fate, John,
Like all the world's beside?
Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess
Wise men forgive,' sez he,
'But not forget; an' some time yet
Thet truth may strike J. B.,
Ez wal ez you an' me!'

God means to make this land, John,
Clear thru, from sea to sea,
Believe an' understand, John,
The wuth o' bein' free.
Ole Uncle S. sez he, 'I guess,
God's price is high,' sez he;
'But nothin' else than wut He sells
Wears long, an' thet J. B.
May larn, like you an' me!'

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, May 10, 2012

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