“Carrier’s Address” (from Robert Merry’s Museum, January 1856; pp. 3-4)
Robert and Hiram,
Merry and Hatchet
Send to all—greeting,
Look out and catch it.
To all our subscribers,
A happy New Year;
To readers and writers,
Good luck and good cheer.
To all who are able
With wits to combat,
A seat at our table,
A part in our Chat.
May the year that is beginning,
All along find us winning
More coppers than kicks.
Good morrow, gentlefolks! the new-born year
Comes with its greetings for the eye and ear,
With hopes and smiles, with compliments and wishes,
Served up in form, like cakes in silver dishes,
Or mottoes in fringed papers, pink, white, blue,
No matter what the sentiment, or hue—
The New Year comes, and with it I am here,
To preach a sermon on the by-gone year.
A sermon?—yes—the Carrier’s address
Has just this virtue, neither more nor less—
A funeral sermon, wherein we must tell
Its faults and virtues, as we sound its knell;
Call up again, in critical review,
The record of events we’ve just gotten through,
Like docile scholars willing to be taught
The solemn truths with which the past is fraught.
There, for a sober introduction that will do—
Now for the spice and point of our review!—
For not as stern and carping critic
Seize I to-day the quill poetic;—
Not in a grum, fault-finding mood,
Come I to inter the dying year,
Nor, with my scorpion lash severe,
Stir up the wicked with the good:
The sermon, which I promised you,
Shall be as mild as it is true.
With war and strife was all alive,
E’en from the day it took the floor
And still, contentious and prolix, (pro licks,)
Hands down, to be again renewed,
The dismal heritage of blood.
The scene of that long wasteful strife,
So prodigal of human life,
It seems to my poor weak idea,
Was christened properly, Crimea;
For sure its history, at this time,
Is one great, foul, o’ershadowing crime,
For which old England, Russia, France, or
All of them, must one day answer,
And Czars and Kings and Emperors feel
The judgment time shall soon reveal,
Europe, just now, has one idea,
And that, in one word, is—Crimea;
Her very being heart and soul,
Is centered in Sevastopol,
And when the Malakoff was taken
She to her very core was shaken.
The Czar instanter started ’way off
To the stronghold of Nicolaieff.
England hurra’d, and France was frantic
To send the news across the Atlantic,
That Jonathan might know in season,
And be prepared to come his knees on.
The stoic Sultan smoked away,
As if he had not heard the fray;
Kossuth, Mazzini, and their peers,
Told of their hopes, their doubts, their fears;
Austria, two-faced, te Deum chanted,
While Russia was with tedium haunted,
And wished with all her heart, no doubt,
For some small crevice to creep out,
Cry quits with all her foes, and then
Make ready to begin again.
Nuff said of them—and so we drop them,
Say what we will, we cannot stop them.
Like old Kilkenny’s feline fighters,
These most unfeeling human biters
Will snarl, and scratch, and growl away,
Swalling each other, day by day,
Till men, and arms, and money fail,
And nought is left them but—a tale.
“Our own, our native land”—and pray
Of her what shall the Carrier say?
She’s carried us thus far along,
And we’ve stuck to her, right or wrong,
Though often, quite, it seems her luck
In moral pol’tics to get stuck.
We’ve had our strifes,—now ups, now downs—
In cities, villages and towns,
We’ve had our skirmishes and battles,
Triumphs, defeats, and loss of chattels,
But not so many broken bones,
Or orphans’ tears, or widows’ groans,
As makes each occidental gale
With Europe’s misery shriek and wail.
We love to take and render knocks
Behind the sheltering ballot box,
And do our stabbing and our shooting,
By rushing on the polls, and—voting.
The Whigs are down. The Dems are—where?
Soft-hard—and medium, I declare,
Native and Hindoo, make such pother,
I can’t distinguish one from t’other,
And they, themselves—(I mean the soldiers)
Don’t know whose heads are on their shoulders.
Our war is over—the upshot
Is—one’s elected—one is not;
And both, with stoic satisfaction,
Begin to arrange the next election;
Each, all, in this united lot,
Strike where you will, but pierce us not.
We’ve had a deal of flash and thunder,
Of rail-roads, on the ground, and under;
We’ve had a mighty press of matter,
Of din and bustle, fuss and clatter,
Of dough-faced cowards, boasting braves,
Hunting masters, fugitive slaves,
Judges quailing—lawyers honest, (?!!)
Habeas corpus—corpus non est,
And all that sort of thing—but now,
There’s scarce a dog dares say bow wow,
Lest, ’twixt the parties, slave and free,
He should bark up the losing tree.
We’ve had, among our many humors,
If not red war, some squally rumors
Of fleets that look this way, perhaps,—
Of grave Buchanan on his taps,
Ready, with menace in his eye,
To bid the fairish queen good bye.
We’ve heard of Nicaragua, Cuba,
Kinney and Walker, who exube-
rant benevolence can’t wait
Till Time carves out a new slave State.
We’ve heard of Kane, how he turned jailor,
And t’other Kane, the re-turned sailor,—
How one, resisting a contempt,
Shut Passmore in an ugly hole;
T’other persisting in the attempt
To find one pass more, and the pole;
Boldly both their parts enacting,
Both from peril’s path retracting,
Both happier, wiser far, no doubt,
In coming back, than going out.
We’ve had—but not a word of that—
We’ve had our genial monthly chat,
Our little, quiet, cozy corner
Where neither politics, nor war, no
Rise of stocks, nor price of bread,
Nor Kansas—our Procrustes bed—
Nor anything, but you who love us,
Has ever had the power to move us;
We’ve had our squabbles and our squibs,
Our nuts to crack—instead of ribs;
We’ve had our contests and our prizes,
With combatants, all sorts and sizes,—
Our coeur de lions, our Joans d’Arc,
“Black eyes” and “Blue eyes,” beau and spark,
Proud cavalier, and high-born dame,
All in the lists, awards to claim;
And then, we’ve had our Courts and Judges,
To show what’s worthy, and what fudge is;
We’ve had our problems, y’s and x’s,—
One, to this day, our wranglers vexes;
We’ve had our puzzles, and our questions,
Riddles, conundrums, queer suggestions,
Rebus, charade, and every sort
Of quaint and entertaining thought,
From old and young, from grave and gay,
Each bound to amuse in his own way.
The year’s gone by; and, pausing here,
To wish you all a happy New-Year,
I make my bow, and pass you over
To your true friend and faithful lover,
To Robert now, and now to Hiram,
(I know you love ’em and admire ’em,)
And so take leave, to make appearance
Before you all, about a year hence.