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[K1] “The Spermaceti Papers,” The Citizen Soldier, May 31, 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.)

It was unfortunate—but they would call him Spermaceti Sam.  He was a clever fellow—but he was so very fat.  A talented fellow—but he had an awful extent of lower jaw.  An entertaining fellow—but still, they would call him, Spermaceti Sam.

I’m fond of pictures.  Sam was a picture: a figure somewhat voluptuous in outline, projecting like a globe in the regions of the paunch; broad shoulders, and full chest.  Spermaceti Sam rambled the streets with the easy gait of an elephant, and the action of an ostrich.

His face was like a beacon—full, florid and crimson; with an undecided nose, slightly turning upward; small, rolling, blue eyes; low forehead, topped by masses of golden hair; and a lower jaw that made an impression on your mind never to be forgotten.  You looked upon that jaw and realized the meaning of the word startling.  It seemed like an infinity of jaw, an illimitable extent of crimson-hued blubber.  That was why they called him Spermaceti Sam.  To the eye of the fanciful, he seemed like a vision of train oil, or a dream of tallow.

And Sam was literary.  Sam was critical.  Sam had been poetical;—he had been a statesman in his time.  Sam had also been martial.

But, Sam turned literary at last, and went out “West.”  He took up his quarters at “Cairo,” the grand city, navigable by boats, at the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi.  Sam beheld a great field for literary enterprize.  He would publish a paper—a literary paper.  Something to astonish the raftmen, and set Mississippi in a blaze.  The Rocky Mountains were to be astonished, and the Atlantic surprised!

And as for the title of his paper?  What should it be?  Two papers were already in the full tide of successful experiment at “Cairo.”  The “Salt River,” which was a euphonious contraction of Salt River Journals, and the “Saturday Stick,” which, you must know, was “Saturday stick-in-the-mud” cut short.  Spermaceti Sam bought out these papers.

Mr. P. Sun, or Professor P. Sun, edited the Stick, and S. Acre, Esq., controlled the Salt River.  Spermaceti Sam had an idea.  He would buy out both these papers.  He would combine them in one.

Next week, the boatmen of “Cairo” were astonished by the announcement.  “The Salt River Saturday Stick and Universal Lamp-Post,”—a new weekly, scientific, religious and literary paper, published by Sam’l Spermaceti, Esq., under the editorial control of Professor P. Sun.  N.B.—S. Acre, Esq., will get out the news, attend to the mails, and do the business of the firm.

So Sam was in the full tide of successful experiment.  He came out with a stiff team.  We make an extract from his ‘leader’ of the first paper.  Sam had an ingenious idea.  He cooked up a ‘mess of pottage’ which he called, “Weekly Gossip.”  Here’s a specimen:

“Well, the world’s as usual.  How are ye reader.  We like you, reader.  News from China is discouraging.  The British have made a demonstration in that quarter.  They expect to come to T shortly.  Bulwer is said to be engaged on a new novel.  In our opinion, Bulwer is a very creditable writer.  We like you reader—we do.  Subscribe to our paper.  Look at the first page—what a mass of reading for six cents!  A capital story from the Lady’s Globe of Fashion—‘The June Bug,’ a poem, from the same popular periodical, by P. Sun, Esq.  ‘So, So,’—a clever Yankee story, by H. Shewstring Shell’d, Esq.  ‘Born to Love Pigs and Chickens,’ by N. P. Willis, Esq.  ‘Letter from under a Sty,’ by ditto.  ‘The Poodle Dog,’ by that interesting Poet of Nature, A. B. Sweet, Esq.  Now, reader, there’s attraction for you.  Say we can’t come it.  In our next, we intend to commence an Original American Novel, entitled ‘Lundy’s Lane,’ in which General Scott will form a conspicuous character.  This novel is by the author of ‘The Crooked Stick,’ ‘Bruizing in the Last War,’ ‘Sheets from a Lawyer’s Bag,’ ’Autumn Pollywogues’ and ’Pluck,’ a tale.  Now, then, reader—and all for six cents!  Six red cents!

“P.S.—We stop the press to inform the readers that an interesting and popular series of Lectures, by Dr. Dionysius Lopside, A.L.L.A.S.S.E., on the theory of “Divorce,” now being delivered at the Floating Theatre of Cairo, will be faithfully reported for our paper.”

Such was the spirited leader of the first number of the “Salt River Saturday Stick and Universal Lamp-Post.”

In another article, we may glance at some further passages in the life of Spermaceti Sam, combined with reminiscences of P. Sun and S. Acre, Eqrs.

NOTE.— The above sketch reached our hands through the Despatch Post.  The real name of the author, his object, or the real names of the characters to whom he seems to have reference, are alike matters of mystery and supposition.  We publish the above as a spirited essay—nothing more.

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[K2] “The Spermaceti Papers,” The Citizen Soldier, June 7, 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 Professor is what Thucydides, in one of his familiar moods, would call a bird, not that he is one of your jolly birds, your chirping tom-tits, or musical catties; no, don’t think it.  The Professor is one of your solemn birds.  His face is grave, long, and deep in all manner of solemn thought.  A shade of gentle pallor hangs over his visage, like a lawn hankercher thrown over a gate-post.

Solemn is the Professor.  Your owl is no touch to him.  When he walks the streets, you’re convinced that something great is coming.  In stature he is small—so was Napoleon.  His appearance is impressive, his talk is tall.  He looms large on your vision, with his long, square body, and short legs, his long, pale face, and his Panama hat.

And the Professor is a writer.  The Salt River Saturday Stick and Universal Lamp-Post, glows with his fancy, and shines with his intellect.

He dives deep into the gloomy; he walks right into the moral; he is next door neighbor to the sublime.  Witness the following passage from one of the professors, Autumn Pollywogue, written for the Stick and Lamp-Post, under the assumed name of Jedediah Long:

“I love autumn.  The leaves whirl to and fro, the liveried woods look up to the lurky sky, and the wind goes whistling up and down.  It seems to have no home—the gentle wind; no abiding place, no regular residence.  A militia fine collector couldn’t catch it.  How melancholy to look at nature with an opthalmic eye!  How glorious is Providence, how divine is Goodness!  Sweet thoughts come over one’s soul, when listening to the autumn wind.  Thoughts of the grand, the far-off, and visions of the not-to-be-come-at.  With what a gush the soul goes it, under these influences!  Such a sweep, such a looseness!  How terrible is the injunction of the sage—“In nature there is a vast infinitude—study her works, and improve thyself—oh, my son!”

And in the vein poetical, the Professor is really touching.  He strings fine thoughts together, like cat-fish on a willow withe.


It’s dead and gone, the gentle thing,

No more to chirp pe-wit and sing;

Silent its tone—broken the silver string—

         It’s dead and g-o-n-e!

It used to sing in its little cage,

The ladies said ’twas quite the rage,

It died of premature old age—

         Without a g-r-o-a-n!

The Professor, we say, assisted in editing the “Stick and Lamp-Post.”  He whittled the stick to some purpose.  His way of “editing papers” was original.  He’d a way of his own—an original idea.  And let me tell you, an original idea with the spermaceti gentlemen, is no familiar visitor.  It don’t drop in to see them every day, but when it does come they treat it kindly.  They make much of it.  When the Professor has an original idea, he reminds you of a fond mother with a solitary petted child.  Or perhaps he brings to mind an ancient Dominique hen, with a single chicken, and that a speckled fowl.  The Professor treats the original idea kindly.  To-day he dresses it out in a bib and tucker, to-morrow he attires it in small clothes, and then he gives it a long-tailed coat, with metal buttons.  Find an idea in one of his stories, you will see it peeping out from all.  He pets the idea—he does.  He walks round it, “clucking” merrily all the while, with a fond, maternal regard for the safety of his chicken.—Cluck—cluck—cluck.  Tuck-oo—tuck-oo—tuck—tuck—tuck-oo!

The Professor had an idea.  Why pay half-a-dozen beggarly authors for original stories for the “Stick?”  Couldn’t Peter be half-a-dozen authors himself?  He’d like to know what was to hinder him?  Couldn’t he write under half-a-dozen names?  Hey?  To be sure he could; and so the third number of “The Salt River Saturday Stick and Universal Lamp-Post,” came out in magnificent array, brilliant with the productions of six new contributors—every soul of the six a genius, “an all-fired big fellow for trousers.”

There was “The Dying Thomas-Tit,” a sketch by Miss Angeline T. R. Bates; “The Impurpled Cemisette,” a tragic tale, by Darnely Chipps, Esq.; “The Last of the Living Licks,” a monologue, from the German of Der Schaustergrifter, by Walter Mawthorne, Esq.; “Lines on a Clean Shirt,” with some lucubrations on the use and abuse of “Dickies,” a spicy article, by Auguste Polayra, Esq.; “The Lonely Duck,” a marine story, by Balsey Babblebitsche, Esq.; “The Trial of the Triangular Tripod,” a mystery, by a “New Contributor.”

This was all very pretty.  And yet not a solitary reader of the “Stick” guessed the identity of this literary phalanx, with the Professor.

Miss Bates, Darnley Chipps, Walter Mawthorne, Augustus Polayra, Balsey Babblebitsche, Jedediah Long, and Peter Sun, all, all were—one and the same genius, in a variety of contrasted lights.

Isn’t it a blessing to have a genius, that can wear pants to-day and petticoats to-morrow?  Today the pen, to-morrow the pap-spoon?

Peter is a good boy.  He never puts nothing in his productions, except something—really moral.  Something to improve the mind, and keep the babies in order.  Something “that wouldn’t raise a blush on the most fastidious cheek, or cause a moment of pain to Miss Harriet Martineau.”

One of the choicest bits of the Professor is


There’s a beauty in a pap-spoon.  A melancholy beauty.  It’s a little spoon—and yet it has fed babies in its time.  An insignificant spoon—yet it has diluted the “slutzer” for lips infantile.  It’s a little spoon—and yet how many fond memories are associated with its humble beauties.  A mother has bent over that spoon—a father, perchance, has tasted pap from it, ere that baby took a taste.  A grandma, an aunt, an uncle, or a second cousin, may have all handled that spoon in their day, and now they all are gone—the baby has grown up, and gone to Texas—the spoon alone remains!”

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[K3] “The Spermaceti Papers,” The Citizen Soldier, June 14, 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."


It would have done you good—a look at Blow Nakre—Blow Nakre, Esq.

You may have seen a bean pole walk, or a pair of them try the pedestrian movement together.—You may have seen a lean rooster, with  his tail shorn short, stalking along in sullen dignity, his comb erect, and his bill thrown upward.  You may have seen the poor devil, who has shaken hands—or feet—with the tread-mill, walk after his release, one foot planted in the air, and then the other, as though he were ascending imaginary stairs.

You may see all these, and yet still have but an indefinite idea of Blow Nakre, Esq.

Did you ever see a moving panorama?  Here is one.  Suppose your position taken at the corner of one of the streets of Cairo.

Mark that man yonder.  Tall, slim and lean in figure; spare body; spindle-shanked lower limbs; thin bony arms, and a hatchet face, with small ferret eyes, sharp nose, turned heavenward, and a little sprinkling of whiskers on either cheek.

Mark how he walks.  D'ye see the tread mill gait?  The imaginary stairway scramble?  And the little black cane in his hand—how he twirls it—what an air, what a swell, what a rush!

That is Blow Nakre, Esq., business man of the Salt River Saturday Stick and Universal Lamp-Post.  That's Blow Nakre, who sells the tickets for the temperance concerts at Cairo.  That's the man whose name's on every committee—stereotyped in every advertisement.  That's the terror of the newsmen, the fear of the newsboys.  That is—Blow Nakre, Esq.

I have a high respect for Blow.  I am at times a believer in the Pythagorean doctrine of the transmigration—over the left.

I think that the spirits of animals enter the bodies of men, instead of men disguising themselves in beasts and birds—wild cats or tom tits.  Where was the animal that exists in Blow Nakre previous to its present habitation?  What was it?  It couldn't have been a pig—I ask for information.  Could it now?  A weazel, perhaps?  Maybe a cat?  Yes, perhaps a cat, with a stick to it.  A cat that frequents the wild wood, and dwells amid strange and overpowering perfumes.

There is an insect that lives in luxury, riots in fatness, swells big in plenty.  It turns and it twists; it peers into things, and it looks out from rottenness.  It is called the—maggot, and the scene of its glories is a—rotten cheese.

There was a malicious man in the city of Cairo, who once said that Blow Nakre was—the—insect, and the "Salt River Saturday Stick and Universal Lamp-Post" was the cheese.  God help the wight who owns the cheese, that keeps the insect.  And the man also remarked, as I thought with some pity, that there were other insects in this cheese, kicking and pushing in fatness.

Blow Nakre was a great man.  The world thought so.  A polite man..  All softness, suavity and silk.  Guava jelly was nothing to him.  He never insulted anybody except the—poor.  He never wriggled his whiskers or turned up his nose at any body, save the little newsboys whom he could flog.  He was a prudent man—was Nakre.  A wise Nakre.  He always picked his antagonist.  He once picked up courage to make a face at an ancient negro woman, picking up rags in the street.  But this is not certain—this fact rests upon evidence somewhat apocryphal.


It was an awful hot day in Cairo.  The negroes lay coiled up along the cellar doors, like young rattlesnakes in a cane-break.  The very air seemed over-heated, and Spermaceti Sam perspired tallow.

He sat in the editorial sanctum.  Drop—drop—drop—went the perspiration down his blazing face, on to the paper under his hand.  Opposite him, with his pale visage, solemn as usual, sat Professor Sun.  Blow Nakre sat between the two.  The trio were clustered round the editorial table.  A fine trio for a picture.  Spermaceti Sam, his face red as a boiled lobster, his eyes rolling about, like a solitary oyster in a chafing dish—Professor Sun, pale, solemn and hot; Blow Nakre with his thin face and starved whiskers, undergoing the process of gradual melting.

"Aint it hot?" said Spermaceti Sam, lifting his gold spectacles.

"I think you observed it was hot," said P. Sun, raising his face from his paper; "I might say with propriety, it is hot."

"It's thundering hot, if I may be allowed the expression," suggested Blow Nakre.

A footstep disturbed the silence of the sanctum.

A slim, grave individual, with a solemn face, and long draggled masses of dark hair, sweeping behind the ears, stood before the trio.  He was clad in black, a ’shiny’ black.  A bundle was in his hand, in fact—a blue calico handkerchief bundle.

“My name,” said the stranger, “is Rumpus Grizzel.  The Reverend Rumpus Grizzel.  I’m away from down east.  I’ve been doin’ a small bit of writing in Fildelfy—tryin’ to set up a Standard in politics.  Then I tried to set up a guide Post in literature.  It wouldn't do; so I came out here.  You haint got no kind of job for me in the literary way here, have you?”

"What!" cried Spermaceti Sam, "did I understand you aright?  Are you Rumpus Grizzel?"

"Are you," cried Professor Sun—"Are you the author of the Poets of Lickemwell?"

"With illustrations and copious notes?” chimed in Blow Nakre.

“I’m all that; my name’s Rumpus Grizzel.  I’m the author of the ’Poets,’ I’m the one as does up things in that line.  The people in Fidelfy know’d me, they did.  I made a stir there, I did.”

“What’s the nature of literary life in Philadelphia?” asked Spermaceti, removing his gold specs from his nose.

“You never seed a fine tabby cat with a dozen kittens, did ye?  A fine tabby cat laying on the ground, while the pussies are tugging away at her bosom for dear life.  Suckin’ her dry, completely.  You never seed this, did ye?  How she purrs and meaws, and rolls about, perfectly willin’ to suckle the whole lot, but she haint got the grit.  The poor thing’s in pain, and for all her good nature, too.  Did ye ever see this sight?”

“I think I have,” said Blow Nakre, with solemn deliberation.

“That’s just the way with some of the magazine publishers in Philadelphia.  When they succeed in one literary experiment they aint satisfied.  Them tabbies can’t rest satisfied with one kitten at a time.  They must suckle a dozen pussies at once.  Consequence is—they’re sucked dry.”

“Please ex-plain,” asked Peter Sun.

“Why, I’ll take a single establishment as an instance.  The proprietor has a dozen tabbies, tugging at his breast all at once.  First there’s a yeller magazine, then a blue one—which makes two kittens.  Then there’s a weekly newapaper, which is an almighty hungry kitten.  Then there’s a lot of lazy clerks, cast-off lawyers, brainless persons, engaged as authors, critics and business men, which makes nine kittens.  The whole party keep sucking and tugging at the proprietor—so he’s sucked dry, and that’s the reason why I’m here.”

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[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.

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[K5] “The Spermaceti Papers,” The Citizen Soldier, July 12. 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.)


            A man of tolerably slim figure, and yet not too slim; a man with a smilin' face, a man with his hands in his pockets, jingling the cash.  D'ye see the picture?

A man of middle age, dressed in black, with a quiet, easy look, a sort of "well-to-do-in-the-world" smile, and an easy, lounging gait.  Have you any idea of the man, now?

There he stood, with Spermaceti Sam on one side—Professor Sun on the other.  They stood in the doorway—such a picture!

The Grey Ham, middle height, easy figure, dressed in black, now turns to the Spermaceti.—The Spermaceti, with that face of bacon, and that look of fatness, turns to the Grey Ham; and as he turns, his paunch describes a circle in the air like the revolution of the globe.

The Grey Ham smiles, jingles the cash, and turns to the Peter Sun—that little fellow with the foot-rule face, looking from beneath the umbrella of a Panama hat.  The Peter Sun* with the long body and short legs, the smooth look, and the eye that never looked a man straight in the face.  The Peter Sun speaks in his soft, bland way; the Spermaceti Sam uncloses his jaw, and the crimson of his infinite cheeks is disturbed by speech.

The Grey Ham turns from one to the other.—He is the man of cash—a clever man—a good-hearted fellow.  But he has fallen among thieves—literal and literary thieves. 

            And this is the gallant Grey.  This man in the black coat, with the amiable face, is the Autocrat of American Literature!  He dispenses immortality in monthly doses.  He gives out—fame.  He is the Grey Ham, the man of men, the publisher of publishers.

The Grey Ham may be compared to a rich meadow—a fine verdant pasturage—rich with bloom, yet hedged in by thistles.

Various kinds of cattle pasture on this meadow.  There, browzing on violets, butter-cups and dandelions, is the little speckled heifer—Peter Sun.  He sucks from a thousand founts, and lives on stolen milk.  Yonder, floundering in the mud, is the large bull calf, Spermaceti Sam, bellowing and roaring, while he kicks his heels in the air.

And that solemn animal, on the verge of the meadow, apparently on the point of being turned out—that sagacious animal, browsing on thistles—the animal with the long ears and the sober look.  How d’ye call it?

Rumpus Grizzle.  The neck of the animal is wreathed with flowers—they are stolen.  A sprig of laurel crowns his top-knot—green, but stolen.  This is a sage animal, and he pastures on the Grey Ham meadow to some purpose.

And then there are a variety of smaller cattle pasturing on the Grey Ham.  I never yet fired at small game—very small game—except in the instance of Peter Sun and Rumpus Grizzle, but I’ll be hanged if I’ll fire at such microscopic game as the Blow Nakre.  Let the very little cattle pass.

The Grey Ham once was poor.  The Grey Ham then was pliant in the hams, pleasant in the speech, silky in the manner.  The Grey Ham then was content to serve as literary hack, in the  * * * * * of our town.  And the Grey Ham served under men whom he afterwards treated with condescending courtesy and respect, for the sum of five dollars per week.

It is to his honor that he worked his way upward.  Talent and enterprize, the puff writers say, did the business.  No such thing.  Talent means—luck—enterprize—means chance.  This same luck, and this same chance, are rules that work both ways.

The toad-stool rises in a night.  A single foot-step will scatter the fungus.

Now it’s a very pretty thing to have the command of a Lying-in-Hospital—a Literary Midwifery.  What a pinnacle of human ambition—to be an intellectual midwife!  Did ye ever see the birth of one of these pamphlets, called American Magazines?  No.

I’ll let you into the secret.

First the Magazine—is to be born.  Peter Sun or Rumpus Grizzle, father the bantling, Spermaceti Sam prepares the linen, the Grey Ham brings the babe to light.

Then it must be christened.  Some fine sounding name, some grand flourish of adjectives, with the word “Ladies” attached to it, at all events.—Then puffs are written in the Lying-in-Hospital, sent out to the various newspapers through the country, to Canada, to Florida, from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic.

These puffs are copied in the Cairo papers (it’s about people in Cairo I’m talking, mind ye,) as original compliments, rewards of merit, and then—the bantling has a fine start.

D’ye want to secure the favor of the Spermaceti Club?  You must pet their baby.  ‘Oh—my eyes, sich a dear!  A nose just like you, Mr. Grizzle—a face jist like your’n, my dear Mrs. Peter Sun!  Lawks—me—lud-a-massy, but it is a child and no mistake!  So fat—and deary me, the very cheeks of Mr. Spermaceti—sich a whaler!’

Have you the command of a newspaper in town?  You must rock the baby to sleep with a puff, sweet and sugary, by way of a ‘slutzer.’  You must praise its cradle, say soft things about its papa, confess the Grey Ham to be the best of midwifes, the Mrs. Murphy of accoucheurs.

Is your newspaper in the country?  Puffs, of course, but you must also insert two or three columns of a handbill advertisement, stating the name of the baby in large capitals, with a long list of its god-fathers and grand-pappies.  Your reward for all this?

A monthly squall from the baby, a periodical visitation of its dear  little phiz, and you are amply paid for your types and your labor.

‘Well, well, my friends, go it while you can,’ this was the advice of Rumpus Grizzle to the Spermaceti gentlemen one day—but s’pose our babe should die! mind I don’t say it will die—but s’posen it should?  We’ll want a funeral, wont we?  Here’s the order of the procession—how d’ye like it?




(With “Poets of America” in his hand—picked up in a hurry for his Bible.)


The Blow Nakre

(clad entirely in newspaper puffs.)

The Peter Sun,

(reading a pollywogue, his manner is solemn, and his tears fall fast on the blue book in his hand.)

The Grey Ham Babe.


The Spermaceti Sam

(lighting the way with his face.)

The Devil,

(crying “copy!—copy!—oh, Peter Sun, some copy!—beg, borow, or steal me some copy.)


T H E   G R E Y   H A M :

In one hand a “list of original contributors,” in the other “Life of the Deceased,” by its affectionate father.


Two and two, with “Salt River Saturday Stick and Universal Lamp Post,” in their hands.


(dividing the babe’s linen.)


(with bills for services.)

Then follows,


Sent out to assist in burying the babe away at Cairo—;

Comprises the god-fathers and grand-pappies of the deceased.

Hon. R—t T. C—d,

Singing the Lord’s Prayer; walking arm-in-arm with

J—s F—e C—r,

Who carries a banner, representing a jackal tearing up the bodies of the dead, while “an attack on the memory of Perry” protrudes from his coat pocket.



Walking arm-in-arm, examining a “Mousetrap” which Thomas carries in his hand, while T—r is singing the following lament on the deceased, written by his fellow traveller for immortality,

P E T E R   S U N ,  E S Q U I R E .


It’s dead and gone, the gen-t-l-e thing,

No more to chirp—pee-weet—and s-i-n-g! (a sob)

Silent the chord—broken the silver string—

            It’s dead and g-o-n-e! (repeat with a howl.)

It used to sing in its lit-tle cage;

The ladies said ’twas quite the r-a-g-e; (a groan)

It died of premature old a-g-e!

            With-out—(sob)—a g-r-o-a-n!

T—r, overcome by emotion, falls in the arms of Done Brown, who carries him “piggy-back” and so the procession closes.

* This is the man who stole the episode of Reginald Glanville, and palmed it off as his own, in a certain Magazine.  This is the man who stole Kit North's criticism on Dr. M'Henry, from Blackwood.  This is the man who stole, &c.

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[K6] “The Spermaceti Papers,” The Citizen Soldier, July 19, 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.)

“I say, Ikey, what made that ’are ’oss jump so?”

“Why, Benny, I’ll tell you—I touched him on the—raw.


It was a picture a—Daguerrotype picture.

There was the editorial sanctum, with its bare walls, the chill ceiling, and the uncarpeted floor, littered with newspapers.  The light of a dim foggy morning came struggling thro' the two windows opening toward the south, with a pleasant view of house tops and chimneys and the white walls of the deserted * * * * * Bank in the distance.

In the center of the room was a table, strewn with files of manuscripts, a broken inkstand and three or four superannuated goose quills.

A little, short man, arrayed in a dingy brown Holland round jacket spotted with ink at the cuffs, and elbows, was writing at this table, his pale face hanging over the paper, his wiry eyes fixed upon his manuscript, while his goose quill scratched merrily away.  Scratch—scratch—scratch—the little man looked like a churn.  An intellectual churn—how the buttermilk of his thoughts rolled forth on the yellow-white paper, how his under lip worked, how his brow frowned.  If he was not a great man, he'd like to know who was?

A tap at the door.

"Wa-lk in"—said very quick, and quite indignantly.

A short little man, with bow legs, long slim and spider-like, a chunk of a body lumped way up under the bony arms.  Short man with a great, large face, relieved by draggled masses of red hair, straying from under a large crowned hat, a large face with a wide mouth, pug nose, white eye-brows, and gooseberry eyes.

"Is the edithur in himself?"

"If you wish to see the editor of the Ladies' American Magazine—"

"Faix and troth, he's the very man.  Ye say me name's Phillegrim, Phalix Phillegrim—I'm away yon from over the wather.  It's a litherary character, I am.  It’s a tale I'm wishin' to sell ye, an original tale, altogether."

"If you wish to see the editor of the Ladies' American Magazine, I tell you with all candour that I am that individual!"

"O yez is, is yez!"  Och Professor Sun its yerself as writes the bewtiful poethry!"

"My friend, candidly speaking, you flatter me."

"I do-es, do-es I."  Look at the July number of the Leddies Amerykin Magazine!  There's "The Winter Landscape," such swate lines!  Be the toad that St. Pathrick kicked into the salt, salt say, that can't be bate at all, at all!—Hark to it—here's the lines.

         "Lone standing on this quiet hill

                     Which snows o'erstrew and withered leaves

I see a prospect calm and still;

A Switzer barn with jutting eves,

         Where boys tie up their bags for mill—"

"Och—misther Pather Sun jest stop.  I'll lay back on my cheer and enjoy the pictur'.  'The byes tyin' up their bags for mill!'  Hoch—Whullaloo!  The meat bags and the byes.  That's original and can't be bate!"

"Your mirth is rather uproarious.  Still I do think there's a pure Saxon monosyllabic beauty in that line."

"Couldn't it be set to music?  Eh?  Professor?  Then there's the beautiful lines, to some little bye's "mother."  Isn't it illegant intirely?  Rade—och rade it!"

"The author speaks of his mother telling pretty stories to himself and little brother.  He says, with touching pathos, that she told him stories

                     "Of holy sires with the dead,

         (You bade us tread the path they trod,)

                     Of angels watching all we said,

         Of martyrs who had died for God—

                     Of they who Joseph's garment tore—"

"Will ye jest stop a bit—eh?  A puff on the outside speaks of "the dream-like beauty" of your sketches!  Faix there's a visionary beauty in the idea of "byes tyin' up their bags for mill," only exca-ded by the dream-like fancy o' tearin' a shirt.  Och, whallaloo!  It's the poethry o' th' heart—if it isn't, may I get drunk on vinegar for  a month, by the clock."

"I would like to look at your story," said Peter Sun, not exactly pleased at the uproarious mirth of his visitor.  "A look at your story, sir, if you please."

"There—yer spakin' like a sinsible individu-al.  Just answer me one question fust, will ye?  What school o'litterathure is the most in vogue about these times?

“The bombazine, sir—the bombazine, sir.”

“The bombez-a-ne!  Whalaloo! and what’s that?”

“The bombazine school of literature is a school by itself.  It is fragrant of the petticoat.  It deals in the soft, and occasionally diverges into the silly.  It writes under the name of Mrs. So-and-so, and Miss This-and-that.  It speaks much of female influence, and plunges neck-and-heels into the sentimental.  I am,” continued Peter Sun, glancing round the sanctum with an ominous look, “I am the father of the bombazine school of literature.”

“The devil yez is!”

“Two years ago, sir, I was unknown.  This may seem to you a very small fact.  I, Professor Peter Sun, was unknown.  How should I make myself famous?  I hit on a plan of my own; I wrote under a dozen names—male and female.  I wrote under names similar to those of the great writers of the land.  The people took it for granted that these things were good, because of the sounding names attached to them; and then, sir, (here he drew a hard breath,) the Bombazine School of Literature was established!”

“Och, murther!  Is it wool you’re pulling over my eyes?”

“Sir, the bombzine school has one peculiarity; a magazine published on this system is like a pawnbroker’s shop.  No one dare inquire ‘how these things got there?’  They are there, and that’s enough.  You can steal as much as you like—the fact that your articles appear in a bombazine periodical, is sufficient proof of their originality.”

"Answer me one question, will yez?"

"Sir, I am at your service."

“Was the pary odical in which 'THE AVENGER' appeared, a Bombazine magazine?"

"Sir, it was. Why d'ye ask?"

"'Cos we folks over the wa-ther prefer reading these things in the original."

"The original!  What d'ye mean?"

"It’s green ye are.  Don't we read 'Pelham' over the wather?"

This was a sock dologer.

"Your tale, sir, if you please."

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[K7] “The Spermaceti Papers,” The Citizen Soldier, July 26, 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.)


"Curse him, I say!"

He was in a great passion, was the Grey.  He walked up and down the room, he flung his arms from side to side; his face was flushed, his voice was deep toned and Boothian.  Never had the Grey Ham been so puckered in his temper.

"Curse him, I say!"

"The curse of a blotted proof fall on his head!" echoes Peter Sun.

"The curse of office-hunting be upon him!" shouted Spermaceti Sam, clenching his fist, and growing very red in the face.

"Anathema maranatha!" struck in the deep toned voice of Rumpus Grizzle, the 'reverend clergy.'

"Och, mother o' Moses! Its in a fine humor ye are, gentleman!  The Kilkenny cats was a mere circumstance to ye!  'Curse him, curse him,' 'Anethema maranatha'—that's the way ye've been goin' on for an hour by the clock!  In the divil's name who is it ye're cursin' be the foot —I axe yer Riverence's pardon for the bit of an oath."

"Curse him! Hasn't he written against my Babe?" said the Grey Ham suddenly turning round.

"Hasn't he maligned the Spermaceti?" quoth Sam.

"Abused the Bombazine?" cries Peter.

"Blasphemed the clergy?" shrieks Rumpus.

"Faix I'm up to my eyes in a fog.  Ram me up to the ears in a stove pipe, if I know the taste of this ruction.  Who is it yer a cussin?"

"I curse this penny-a-liner of the Rival Establishment here in Cairo.  He has abused me, he has said hard things of my little Peter, he has caricatured my Rumpus, he has melted my Spermaceti Sam; even my Blow Nakre hasn't been safe.  Curse him!"

"Oh, d—n him by all means, certainly.—Divil a bate do I care about him"—exclaimed Mr. Phelix Phelligrim—"How has he abused you my dear Misther Grey?  Did he say a word against your character?"


"Did he say ye was'nt honest, virtuous, pious?"


"Did he charge ye with robbing a church?"


"Did he charge ye with stealin' pennies off a dead nigger's eyes?"


"What's the fraction, then?  Enlighten me the least bit."

"He said I had been poor once!" said the Grey Ham, in that low tone of unutterable horror, characteristic of a desperate and suicidal turn of mind.  "He said that I, the Grey Ham had been poor once.  That I had served in the ——— daily newspaper for five dollars a week.  That I had been—poor!  Good God—what a disgrace!"

"Och—the divil!"

"Yes," cried Spermaceti Sam, "he said we was'nt geniuses—he says we was'nt all fired big fellers for trowsers.  He said we wrote our own puffs—told lies about our circulation of 100,000 subscribers.  He said"—Sam's cheeks glowed like a red hot Dutch oven—"he said we was—humbugs!"

"Och!  Whalaloo!  Ochone!"

“Now Mr. Phillegrim, I ask you, isn’t it a shame, a burning shame!  Here am I, the Grey Ham.  I do everything to secure the patronage of the public.  Do they want to be gulled?  Who greases a humbug and makes it so smooth and slickery as I do?  Do they want anything fanciful?  Who can concoct a better business fiction than me, or my Tail?  My Rumpus, my little Peter, my Spermaceti, and my Blow?”

“In the best o’ English, Misther Grey Ham, ye can do this lying part a little the natest of any thing this side of the wather.”

“And then with regard to the Contributors to my Babe—”

“Yer Babe!  Och, Whalaloo!—What’s that?”

“A familiar name for my magazine published away out here at Cairo.  With regard to my contributors—‘Pay the rich, insult the poor’ is my motto; it’s a safe one.  There’s Ex-Secretary Paulding, there’s Hoffman, there’s Herbert, there’s Fay—I pay ’em all.  There’s some dozens of poor devils whom I treat with proper scorn—the poor devils!”

“The saints preserve me—here’s the August number of your Babe.  All rich authors—gilded geniuses, seven of the Riverend Clergy—Grizzle noble, ‘Bethune the Beautiful’—etcetera.  Yet here’s one poor author—I’ll be split if there isn’t!  Edgar A. Poe—isn’t he one o’ th’ poor devils?”

“Aye, aye, but my dear Mr. Phillegrim, this same Edgar A. Poe is—is—rather a bitter fellow, and has a way of his own of using up all humbugs.  He carries a Tomahawk—does Poe.  A very bad Tomahawk, a very nasty Tomahawk.  Poe is poor—but we have to get him to write for the Babe.”

“It isn’t meself as is much of a judge of caracter, but it seems to me, ye fear the man?  By the big, bull-frog of Athlone!  ye’ve a wholesome fear of this same poor author—Misther Poe?”

“He doesn’t think I’m a great man,” quoth Rumpus.

“I suspect he thinks I steal the gems of my stories,” cries little Peter.

“I did hear it stated,” observed Spermaceti Sam, “that he said my cheeks gave him the idea of a perambulating beefsteak, going about in search of a spit!”

“But I’ll fix him”—said the Grey—“I’ll get my picture engraved for the next number of the Babe.  I will.  I say, Phillegrim, can you sketch?”

“Faix can I—like a ganius.”

“Here, Phillegrim, take my picture.  Observe the position—it’s grand, ain’t it?  My left hand on my hip—my right extended a la Washington.  A placid smile on my face, Phillegrim—make my forehead something like Henry Clay’s.  Attitude easy, graceful, elegant.  Let there be a large magazine building in the distance, with girls’ heads popped out of the seventh and eighth story windows to see the parade.  You can’t paint Peter Sun in his sanctum, can ye?  In the same posture too?  No?  Now I think of it, I’ll have my forehead like Daniel Webster—I want a wild Aaron Burr eye.  There—a few more touches, Phelix—you’ll make it just right.  Ha—ha—the puppy, to say that I had been poor once!

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[K8] “The Spermaceti Papers,” The Citizen Soldier, Aug. 9, 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.)


“Be the beauty of my mither’s son, it was grand altogether!  The Duke o’ Wellington’s triumphal enthree into London, was nothing to it—John Tyler’s progress wasn’t half a dozen of it!  Whulaloo! it was a pageant—the Grey Ham’s trip to Saratoga!  “May its memory last a thousand years,” as the Sultan illegantly remarks in the Arabian Nights, on the occasion o’ smellin’ a little bye’s breath scinted with onions and garlic.  ’Twas a grand affair!”

“So you say, Phillegrim—You were along, were you?  Tell us all about it!”

“Well you say, in the first place, the Grey Ham determines to take a trip to Saratoga, and nothing ’ud satisfy him but he must take along with him the whole Spermacetay Club, Spermaceti Sam, Rumpus Grizzel, Peter Sun, Master o’ th’ Bombazine School o’ litherature.  He dresses ’em all up, fixes ’em bewtifull, and they starts for Saratoga.

“Well I fust fell in with the party going up New York Bay; for tho’ I’d started in the same boat I had’nt seen ’em afore.  I fell in with ’em, I did.  They were all standin’ on the bow of the boat, looking towards New York.  Rumpus Grizzel looked very solemn—Peter Sun very much like a bottle o’ ginger pop—he seemed so ready to go off.  As for Spermaceti Sam he stood silent and alone, leanin’ his head against the railin’, and a-sweatin’ like blazes.  The Grey Ham was likewise alone.  He was very pale,—whitewash was nothin’ to him.

“Gentlemen”—see the Grey Ham, a-turnin’ round—“Yonder are the shores o’ New York.  Gentlemen, I hope the people will not make me—a poor, humble, fellow citizen—the subject of any grand display.  I’m not used to it.”

“Verily the shores are black with people,” cried Rev. Rumpus Grizzle—“Lo!  The Gothamites have crowded to welcome us!”

“This is fame!” echoed Peter Sun, snuffing the breeze like a young colt.

“This is fame!” murmured Spermaceti Sam, wiping the perspiration off his cheeks.  “This is fame, no doubt it is.  It may be fame, but its d—d hot.”

Well, what does the Grey Ham do, but as the boat nears the wharf—black as ink with people—what does he do, but jumps up, and seizes the flag-staff and sits astride o’ the railin’ in a way that was pertiklerly perwokin’.

“Gentlemen,” sez he, “gather round me.  The vast myriad yonder are goin’ to hurrah.  Come to my side, Rumpus—here Peter—here Spermaceti Sam—show ’em your face.  You’re my beacon.  Now then—”

“Where is the Blow Nakre?” cried Peter Sun.

“Down in the cabin writin’ Temperance statistics, and a-takin’ of a temperance cocktail,” responded Spermaceti Sam, “and so is our Bob.—But he’s a drinkin’ of a cocktail without the temperance to it.  Bob does them things sometimes.”

“Well, we was now coming near and nearer to the wharf, and the people seemed to grow thicker and thicker.  An onion garden, with a family of ingens in a stalk, was nothin’ to ’em in the way o’ thickness.  No it wasn’t.

“Gentlemen, this is a great duty for us all,” said the Grey Ham, in a low, solemn tone o’ voice.  Yonder you see the triumph of literature.  Yon solemn crowds have assembled to celebrate my triumph—they have.  I did mean to travel incognito—God knows I did.  But the people have found me— found us out.  We must submit to be famous.”

“It is the will of God,” said the Preacher Grizzle, with startling solemnity.

“Now I know,” cried Peter Sun, “what it is to have my heart throb with the generous impulses of a gratified ambition—D—m that orange peel!”

“It may be gratified ambition,” quo’ Spermaceti, “but I’d rather take it in the cool.  Couldn’t they put me in a refrigerator?”

“I’ll address the people!” cried the Grey Ham, holding on the the flag-staff.  “People of New York—This is an occasion—(how the d—d boat lurches!)—unaccustomed as I am to public—public—(how that rotten egg smells!)—speaking—People of New—speaking—“

“Wait a moment, Grey,” cried Peter Sun, “see—a spokesman advances from the crowd—he raises his hand—he speaks—”

“My feelings, people of New York,” began the Grey Ham, “My feelings—wont allow—I say people of New York—my feelings wont—“

“Damn your feelings!” cried the man on the wharf—“Now jist be quick, will ye, and tell me what we want to know.  Is he on board?

“Yes—he is here himself!” cried Peter Sun.

“Hurrah, Hurrah!” cried several voices, We’ve caught him!”

“Caught who?” cried the Grey Ham, as the boat touched the wharf—“Caught who?”

“Why d—m it, don’t come that game over us,” cried the spokesman, jumpin’ a board.  “Now tell me, mister, you sir there hangin’ on to the flag-staff—Isn’t your name Alphonse Smith, and aren’t you the Philadelphia Pickpocket?”

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[K9] “The Spermaceti Papers,” The Citizen Soldier, Aug. 16, 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.)

A manifesto to all whom it may concern.

            I'm tired of talking about our friends in Cairo.  I never heard of a man yet, who didn't get tired of hunting that peculiar species of cat that frequents woods—and so on.  But I've engaged in the hunt, and it's not my intention to stop in the middle of the swamp.  For three weeks the Spermaceti Papers will remain in a state of suspended animation, but in the meanwhile, a mass of select matter, shall be selected, relating to the lives of the Spermaceti gentlemen, their origin, peculiar anecdotes in their history, as well as certain researches into the mystery of coffin making.

            Pointing finger. The Rev. Rufus W. Griswold is no longer editor of Graham’s Magazine.  He was discharged last week.