This is an addendum to yesterday's entry. I provided solid evidence that the same author was writing for the 1835 New York Transcript, as was subsequently writing for the 1851 Boston Carpet-Bag. Then, I told the reader how to access a piece written and signed by Mathew Franklin Whittier, who I have concluded wrote all three pieces. But I have mentioned that he earlier worked for the same editor as ran the Transcript in New York, Asa Greene, on the "Constellation" in 1831-32.
I just resumed proofreading Mathew's work for that paper (having completed about half the work before I moved here to Portland, Maine), and the second piece I came upon, published in the Nov. 9, 1831 edition, is, I think, worth sharing. You will note the same clever sarcasm throughout all of these pieces that I'm presenting. Here, he is signing "D.," which is frequently seen in this paper. One would assume it was the editor, himself; but as I have come to understand the situation, Mathew has now become the acting editor, or junior editor. The editor-in-chief, Asa Greene, also ran a bookstore; and it's my impression, both from evidence and vague past-life memory, that he really didn't want to run a newspaper on top of managing his shop, and was only too glad to let Mathew take the editorial reins.* And Mathew was quite capable—but he was not without his somewhat dangerously radical biases.
Now when you read this (if you do take time to read it), you must first understand that Mathew was a Quaker. He had not yet been dismissed from their Society. That would happen when he married Abby, a non-Quaker, in 1836. Here, he is still a member in good standing. But he is a Quaker with a very sharp tongue and quick wit—and he is strongly anti-war, and anti-military. It so happens that some official of the City of New York, with too much time on his hands, conceived a parade wherein men representing the military heroes of several countries would march together as "The Invincibles." Mathew obviously thought it ridiculous, so he makes it the butt of his sharpest satire. I have often compared Mathew to Lee Camp—this is a prime example.
Mathew used the signature "D." a few times when he was writing for the New-England Galaxy in Boston, as I have mentioned, before. Since, as a boy of 16, he appears to have been working as a "printer's devil" for the Galaxy's sister paper, the Boston Courier, probably "D." was short for "devil." But he has brought that signature over to the New York Constellation, and uses it quite regularly. Some editions contain three or four pieces with this signature, even on the same page. This is why scholars would naturally assume it was the editor. No-one, until myself, has ever figured out that it was the younger brother of poet John Greenleaf Whittier who was signing "D." as the junior editor and acting editor. Mathew is now 19 years of age.
Without further ado, I present "The Invincibles." Although it was written in 1831, if you are pro-military, it may yet piss you off. All I can say is, the only real answer to war is for everybody, all at once, to come to the conclusion that war and the military are disgusting and ludicrous, respectively. On that very day, there will be no more need for either. A sociopathic leader may urge it for various reasons--people will regard him as a madman, and go on about their business. But until then, we will have unending carnage and despair around the globe, in unnumerable conflicts, until the planet is finally rendered a debris field, like Mars. Set aside, for the moment, the obvious necessity of defending one's homeland when Societal ignorance and greed have brought us to the final stage—the first step, as Mathew was well aware, is to effectively challenge the absurd idea of the glory of war, in and of itself.
The New York "Constellation"
November 19, 1831
"Arms and the man, I sing."
Of all the great days which this great city has ever witnessed, the fourteenth of November 1831, is and ever will be the greatest. The fourth of July sinks into insignificance in the comparison—evacuation day is shorn of its laurels, and new year's day dwindles into a day of every-day occurrence. Ye orators, who proclaim the glories of our independence, hushed be your voices—ye military chieftans, who strut through the streets, doffed be your plumes—ye poets-laureate, who cackle your annual song, mute be your strains—ye are all thrown into the shade—eclipsed, nullified, by The Invincibles.
But how shall I describe the glories of the glorious fourteenth—how relate its every occurrence, so that after ages may read and be instructed—so that the father yet unborn may tell to his child, and the child to the great-grandchild, the events of this great day? Oh! for a quill curtailed from the tail of that great bird, which whilom flew away with Sinbad the Sailor on his back—or, for a feather plucked from the cap of Colonel Pluck, wherewithal to write these great events. But alas! alas! to me the muses deny such favors and grant alone this "grey-goose quill"—instrument unworthy of my theme.—But to my task.
Morn dawned auspicious upon this august occasion. The sun rose dancing and shaking his sides with joy, as upon Easter day—the clouds, that, all night long, had hung round the horizon, like bob-majors round the skirts of a general, opened to the right and left at the approach of this great day. Yet it was ushered in by no roar of musketry nor thunder of cannon.—Awe-struck and astounded, these brazen heralds of war, held their peace. The flags, which from the Hall of Justice and the neighboring Tammany, rise so proudly on other great days, rose not on this—for on this day nothing was to flag!
The sun, however had no sooner risen, than up rose a troop of The Invicibles—a general troop—
And having snatched a short repast,
And buckled on their shining arms in haste,
they hied them forth each to his country's call,
Resolved to conquer or to die,
In the last trench of Liberty.
And now at sundry corners in this wide metropolis, might be seen congregating, like flies round a rum cask, these same Invincibles, decked out in fantastical array, and having formed themselves into goodly columns, they forthwith took up the line of march from their respective stations to the general rendezvous in Canal street. Here arrived, you might have seen a sight such as you never saw before—Turk and Christian—Jew and Gentile—Goth and Frank—Russian and Pole—French and English—Indian and Hottentot—Cherokee and Owyhee—Half-horse and Half-aligator—all the great nations of the earth were here represented and the greatest military characters that have ever appeared.
At length, when the sun had got nearly midway into the heavens, so that he could look down and enjoy an uninterrupted view, the Invincibles began to move forward in military order and to exhibit their own consummate skill in military tactics. Foremost, came Napoleon—not he who erst shook all Europe to the centre—it was one, who, although resembling him in outward form, was within no more like that napoleon, than General Jackson's nose is like a sturgeon's—this was Napoleon the Reformer—that the Napoleon that was reformed. Next came Don Miguel—from Portugal came he? Oh no—the Invincible Don claimed no lineage with royal blood, though, on this day, he showed more blood, than ever he whose name he bore. Lord Grey and other Lords, next followed—all honorable men—all ready to go the entire swine in the great cause of Reform.
Then came on foot a numerous and heterogeneous train,
With corn-stalks for guns—
And pumpkin shells for drums—
"armed and equipped as the law directs." Some wore the dress their fathers wore, and some dresses their fathers it would have alarmed to wear. Music—that music, which
Hath charms to soothe the savage,
To break a rock and split a cabbage,
lent those dulcet charms to honor the occasion. Loud and sonorously did the banjo, the tambourine and hautboy send forth their wild and spirit-stirring notes to that popular air, "The Coal-black Rose'—while ever and anon, as the strains struck a responsive chord in the hearts of the black musicians, they would roll up the white of their eyes and strike down the sole of their feet, as much as to say, "God bress you, massa Napoleon, the Reformer!"
Inspired by the scene, the very boys in the streets joined in the march, entering, as voluntary conscripts, into the service of Napoleon. Such zeal and devotion of the heart and head—of pumpkin heads as well as of other heads—no military chieftan had till this day ever experienced. All united to do great Caesar homage. His march, as he rode through the city, mounted on a raw-boned charger, which, like his master, had "done the State some service," and bearing on his shoulders a sword of huger dimensions than was even Goliah's, was one continued scene of triumph and joy. Wherever he came, up flew the windows, and roses and smiles from fair hands and fair faces, were showered upon him. Woman—lovely woman, ever in love with a red-coat or a lobster, was completely smitten with the imposing splendor of the scene. Some screamed with ecstacy and some attempted to faint—some wrung their hands in a delirium of joy and some rung the bell for Betty, to come and fan them.
Betty! Where was she? While their mistress was thus serving the cause of her country up stairs, Betty and Kate and Diannah were not less patriotic below. Each cellar and kitchen door revealed the shiny faces and laughter-loving eyes of some black wench, encouraging by this means, the military ardor of the day. The spit was forsaken, the ladle flung recklessly on the floor, while the inmates of the kitchen rushed forward to catch a glimpse of the glorious Invincibles.
But my Muse—jade that she is—begins to jade indeed. She stops—nor whip, nor spurs, nor threats, nor coaxing will urge her on. Could she speak, words like the following, would, I fear, come from her tongue.
Enough of this—I've had enough—
This militaire is wretched stuff—
'Tis all a humbug—and no good
Will come of making men of wood—
Yes, wooden officers to lead
You by the nose—I do not plead
The cause of the Militia System,
But this I say and do insist on,
That the true way your griefs to heal
The obnoxious law is to repeal—
To general court send general Pluck,
My word for it—they'll give it up.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*I recall running across a reference by Greene, in the New York "Transcript," that he didn't even read Mathew's daily blotter reports before they went to press. This came up when someone believed they were being publicly maligned in the paper, but it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity. From this we can infer that Mathew probably had a pretty free hand, when he was functioning as the acting editor.
Music opening this page: "War," by Edwin Starr