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"War fever in Baldinsville"

Discussion in 'Book & Movie Review Tent' started by John Hartwell, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. John Hartwell

    John Hartwell Sergeant Major

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2011
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    1,858
    Location:
    Central Massachusetts
    Abraham Lincoln said his favorite humorist was Artemus Ward. A hilarious example of his very broad, not exactly sophisticated humor, in an imagined New England Yankee dialect can be seen in this account of the raising of a Militia company in his fictional hometown of 'Baldinsville', Conn.

    It's a hoot!


    THE WAR FEVER IN BALDINSVILLE.
    As soon as I'd recooperated my physikil system, I went over into
    the village. The peasantry was glad to see me. The skoolmaster sed it
    was cheerin to see that gigantic intelleck among 'em onct more. That's
    what he called me. I like the skoolmaster, and allers send him tobacker
    when I'm off on a travelin campane. Besides, he is a very sensible man.
    Such men must be encouraged.

    They don't git news very fast in Baldinsville, as nothin but a
    plank road runs in there twice a week, and that's very much out of repair. So my nabers wasn't much posted up in regard to the wars. 'Squire Baxter sed he'd voted the dimicratic ticket for goin on forty year, and the war was a dam black republican lie. Jo. Stackpole, who kills hogs for the Squire, and has got a powerful muscle into his arms, sed he'd bet 5 dollars he could lick the Crisis in a fair stand-up fight, if he wouldn't draw a knife on him. So it went--sum was for war, and sum was for peace. The skoolmaster, however, sed the Slave Oligarky must cower at the feet of the North ere a year had flowed by, or pass over his dead corpse. "Esto perpetua!" he added! "And sine qua non also!" sed I, sternly, wishing to make a impression onto the villagers. "Requiescat in pace!" sed the skoolmaster, "Too troo, too troo!" I anserd, "it's a scanderlus fact!"

    The newspapers got along at last, chock full of war, and the
    patriotic fever fairly bust out in Baldinsville. 'Squire Baxter sed he
    didn't b'lieve in Coercion, not one of 'em, and could prove by a file of
    "Eagles of Liberty" in his garrit,that it was all a Whig lie, got up to
    raise the price of whisky and destroy our other liberties. But the old
    'Squire got putty riley, when he heard how the rebels was cuttin up, and
    he sed he reckoned he should skour up his old muskit and do a little
    square fitin for the Old Flag, which had allers bin on the ticket HE'D
    voted, and he was too old to Bolt now. The 'Squire is all right at heart, but it takes longer for him to fill his venerable Biler with steam than it used to when he
    was young and frisky. As I previously informed you, I am Captin of the
    Baldinsville Company. I riz gradooally but majestically from drummer's
    Secretary to my present position. But I found the ranks wasn't full by
    no means, and commenced for to recroot. Havin notist a gineral desire on
    the part of young men who are into the crisis to wear eppylits, I
    detarmined to have my company composed excloosviely of offissers,
    everybody to rank as Brigadeer-Ginral. The follerin was among the varis
    questions which I put to recroots:

    Do you know a masked battery from a hunk of gingerbread?

    Do you know a eppylit from a piece of chalk?

    If I trust you with a real gun, how many men of your own company do you
    speck you can manage to kill durin the war?

    Hav you ever heard of Ginral Price of Missouri, and can you avoid simler
    accidents in case of a battle?

    Have you ever had the measles, and if so, how many?

    How air you now?

    Show me your tongue, &c., &c. Sum of the questions was sarcusstical.

    The company filled up rapid, and last Sunday we went to the meetin
    house in full uniform. I had a seris time gittin into my military harness, as it was bilt for me many years ago; but I finally got inside of it, tho' it fitted me putty clost. Howsever, onct into it, I lookt fine--in fact, aw-inspirin. "Do you know me, Mrs. Ward?" sed I, walking into the kitchin.

    "Know you, you old fool? Of course I do."

    I saw at once she did.

    I started for the meetin house, and I'm afraid I tried to walk too strate, for I *** very near fallin over backards; and in attemptin to recover myself, my sword got mixed up with my legs, and I fell in among a choice collection of young ladies, who was standin near the church door a-seein the sojer boys come up. My cockt hat fell off, and sumhow my coat tales got twisted round my neck. The young ladies put their handkerchers to their mouths and remarked: "Te he," while my
    ancient female single friend, Sary Peasley, bust out in a loud larf. She exercised her mouth so vilently that her new false teeth fell out onto the ground.

    "Miss Peaseley," sed I, gittin up and dustin myself, "you must be more careful with them store teeth of your'n or you'll have to gum it agin!"

    Methinks I had her.

    I'd bin to work hard all the week, and I felt rather snoozy. I'm 'fraid I did git half asleep, for on hearin the minister ask, "Why was man made to mourn?" I sed, "I giv it up," havin a vague idee that it was a condrum. It was a unfortnit
    remark, for the whole meetin house lookt at me with mingled surprise and indignation. I was about risin to a pint of order, when it suddenly occurd to me whare I was, and I kept my seat, blushin like the red, red rose--so to speak.

    The next mornin I 'rose with the lark (N.B.--I don't sleep with the lark, tho.' A goak).

    My little dawter was execootin ballids, accompanyin herself with the Akordeon, and she wisht me to linger and hear her sing: "Hark I hear a angel singin, a angel now is onto the wing."

    "Let him fly, my child!" sed I, a-bucklin on my armer; "I must forth to my Biz."

    We air progressin pretty well with our drill. As all air commandin offissers, there ain't no jelusy, and as we air all exceedin smart, it t'aint worth while to try to outstrip each other. The idee of a company composed excloosively of Commanders-in-Chiefs, orriggernated, I spose I skurcely need say, in these Brane. Considered AS a idee, I flatter myself it is putty hefty. We've got all the tackticks at our tongs' ends, but what we particly excel in is restin muskits. We can rest muskits with anybody.

    Our corpse will do its dooty. We go to the aid of Columby—we fight for the stars!

    We'll be chopt into sassige meat before we'll exhibit our cote-tales to the foe.

    We'll fight till there's nothin left of us but our little toes and even they shall defiantly wiggle!

    "Ever of thee,"
    A. Ward.

    Hilaritas!

    jno

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