[K4] “The Spermaceti Papers,” The Citizen Soldier, July 5, 1843

T h e   S p e r m a c e t i   P a p e r s .


“You see, my young friend, said the Doctor, these penny-a-line editors, these ginger-pop poets, and root-beer rhymsters—what are they? the priests that minister at the shrine of Minerva?  No—they are but the l—e crawling around the head of the goddess, the bugs that soil her vestments, the vermin that defile her person.”—(Conversations with Dr. C.)

"Blubber is a very dull thing to look at, and yet it makes a light."

The Meeting of the Spermaceti Club.

 “We must start something new,” said Spermaceti Sam, wiping the beaded sweat from his brow; “something new, gentlemen.  What d’ye think, Blow Nakre?  What d’ye think, Professor?  What’s your idea, Rumpus—eh, Rumpus?”

“Something pertiklerly strikin’?” suggested Blow Nakre.  “Something fust chop?”

“Something intense—magnificent—broad and wide—deep and high?” responded Professor Sun.  “Something full of the very marrow and fatness o’ thought?”

“Something everlastin’!” chimed in Rumpus Grizzel.  “Something higher than the Rocky Mountains—deeper than the Atlantic—broader than the Pacific!  Eh?  What shall it be?”

“A magazine!” shouted Spermaceti Sam, hammering his gouty fist upon the editorial table.  “A magazine!  A national magazine—a family magazine—a baby’s magazine—a—a—” he grew very red in the face—“a universal magazine!”

“A literary refrigerator!” cried Professor Sun, pulling nervously at the buttons of his dirty-white editorial roundabout.  “An intellectual butter-cooler!  A spiritual victuals safe!”

“Good!  as for the title—”

“Ay—the title—what shall it be?”

“THE SPERMACETI!  There’s a title—something after the fashion of ‘Arcturus.’”

The Ladies’ National Cradle!

“No.  I’ll tell you a better title, gentlemen.—Something not quite so striking.  ’The Ladies’ American Magazine!’  Eh!  Isn’t my name Professor Sun, eh?”

“That’s the name!” cried Blow Nakre.  “It has several advantages.  We can frequently call it the book—the Ladies’ Book.  D’ye take?  The folks will mistake the critter for Godey’s Book, published away down in Fildelfy.  Ha—ha!  that’s the way we’ll do him.”

“We must buy out two or three old concerns,” cried Spermaceti Sam.  “We must come out strong.  I’ll do all the puffing in the Salt River Saturday Stick and Universal Lamp Post.  I’ll write puffs for all the ‘exchanges’—pay for ’em—raise a row.  Oh! the ‘Ladies’ American Magazine’ will take.”

“And I,” cried Professor Peter Sun: “I’ll be a list of ‘Distinguished American Contributors’ myself.  I’ll do all the original writing myself.  I’ll write under a dozen names.  I’ll be any quantity of modest young ladies—nice young gentlemen—celebrated authors.”

“I’ll do the ’critical,’” cried Rumpus Grizzel.  “I’ll review the books—I’ll ‘cut up’ the authors—I’ll finish the business.  I’ll take up my old trade—I’ll sermonize for you now and then—I’ll preach a little, pray a little, lie a little, and steal a little.”

“Yes!” cried Blow Nakre; “and I will be the business-man of the firm.  ‘The Ladies’ American Magazine’ will take.  What an imposing idea—better than a temperance concert.  ‘The Ladies’ American Magazine—edited by Rev. Rumpus Grizzel—published by S. Spermaceti, Esq.  Professor P. Sun, Original Contributor.  Blow Nakre, Esq, General Agent.’  Good—very good.”

Here Rumpus Grizzel composed his features for a sermon.  He smoothed his long hair behind his ears, dropped his chin to his breast—a foot rule was a mere circumstance to his face.

“Gentlemen, the afternoon is rather hot,” he said.  “Lay back in your chairs.  I propose to give you a sermon on fatness.  ’And Jeshuran waxed fat.’  That’s scriptur’.  I purpose to divide my sermon into three heads.  1st.  Fatness considered as fatness.  2d.  Fatness considered as spermaceti.  3d.  Fatness considered in relation to pork, especially pork prepared as ham.  Under the latter head, I will discuss the merits of the various kinds of ham.  Ham streaked with lean and fat—white ham—red ham—”

“Grey ham?” inquired Blow Nakre.