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[L1] "The Walnut Coffin Papers.  The First Chapter,” The Citizen Soldier Sept. 20, 1843

The Walnut Coffin Papers

In various parts and parcels, containing much matter for meditation, some fancy, and a good deal of sober truth, mingled with glimpses of the rise and origin of the Philadelphia literati, together with a few views of these redoubtables, in all their present glory, being in fact, a true, copious and veracious account of



The remarkable dream of the Coffin Maker's 'Prentice.

He slept—the Coffin maker’s ’prentice.

The ancient room was full of light; the sun shone warmly through the dim and dusty windows, over the mass of lumber heaped up in one corner, over the rough bench on one side of the place, strewn and littered with various tools; and the chips and shavings scattered over the floor, looked, for all the world, like chips and shavings of substantial gold.

There was a row of coffins in one corner; one, with a bright polish, bore a silver memento of the extraordinary merits of a deceased bank director; another proclaimed to the worms of the vault, that Sarah Wiggins died a good wife, and a remarkable Christian; and a third blazoned forth the honor and veracity of a departed custom-house officer.

He slept, that rough clad boy, and his sleeping nook, was a fine substantial coffin, made of rich, brown walnut, and flung carelessly along a pile of boards, in front of the gloomy looking fire place, with its smoky walls, and corners hung with dainty wreaths of cobwebs.

He lay with his face to the smoky ceiling, the sun shining on each feature, the smiling mouth, the wan cheeks, the tangled masses of brown hair, dangling over his eyebrows, and the nose, with no particular shape, and no remarkable expression.  It was an abstract nose, and as the boy slept it gave an occasional snuffle.

With regard to his garments, as far as they might be seen, it was observable that he was clad in a round-a-bout of rough corduroy, vest and trowsers of the same material, with a very pretty sprinkling of bright steel buttons.  There was a red neckerchief around his neck, affording a pleasant view of a damaged shirt and collar.

He slept very pleasantly, in that room so strongly reminiscent of dead men, with worms dissipating on their carcasses, and his dreams might have been pleasant, or they might have been unpleasant; they might have been of hobgoblins, or of fairies, still he was not permitted to finish them at leisure, for a footstep disturbed the silence of the wareroom.

“Come, young gallows bird—rouse out of this high grass, will ye?”

The boy slowly opened his eyes.  A tall, gaunt frame of a man, was standing over him, with two goggle eyes, gazing downward in the coffin, with a look that reminded you, of two Delaware Bay oysters, rolling about in a very large saucer.

From the projecting knots of this frame of a man’s shoulders, there hung a slouching black coat, much polished by long service, and his nether proportions were clad in dark greasy pants, swinging about his knee-knobs, like a familiar garment hung on a musical piece of wood, colloquially called a drum-stick.

“Come young gallows bird—rouse out of this high grass, will you?”

“I haint no gallows bird,”—slowly exclaimed the boy, raising himself in the coffin, and rubbing his eyes.—“And I haint a-lyin’ in no high grass.”

“Did you polish that are boy’s coffin?  Did ye—you young son-of-a-gun?  Did ye?  Answer me that—and—you young eat-and-do-nothing—take that, to help your recollection.”

“I aint a-goin’ to polish no more baby’s coffins.”

“You aint, aint you?—Wait till I polish up this oaken towel for your spare ribs—Young Laziness.”

“No I haint.  I had a dream.  I dreamt visions of greatness.  I did.  Babys’ coffins isn’t fit business for me, I tell ye.”

”He—he—oh, yes—spare-ribs you’ll catch it in a minit.  D’ye know, I’ve lost a good round penny by that coffin not being polished?  D’ye know the baby’s to be buried at 4 P. M.,—funeral sermon at the ground?”

“I had a dream—”

“I had a dream.”—“And what the devil do you dream for?  What right have you to dream—Thinness?”

“I had a dream o’ greatness.  I’m a-goin’ to leave off polishin’ young baby’s coffins—I’m a-goin’ to take to writin’ epitaphs.”

“Very good, ve-ry good.  Go on Starvation.”

“I dreamt of literary fame.  I was sleepin’ on a bank of daisies, perfusely scattered with dandelions.  Soft voices was a-whisperin’ in my ears—fountains was a-plain’ and little angels was a-settin’ the things for breakfast.  A form approached, a long-jawed undertaker-like sort of an angel, in deep black coat, vest to match, and pants o’ th’ same material.  Was jist like you Mister Graves.  Had a great big long jaw on him, a wide mouth, eyes that looked as if they were set in his head a-purpose to drive Dr. Williams the Okulist ravin’ crazy with vexation cause he couldn’t cure ’em—”

“Well young whelp.”

“This figur’ advanced to me, and told me he was a angel, and ses he, my name is Grizzle.  Very considerate of him, to tell me this, or I’d mistook him for the devil.  Rumpus Grizzle ses he, is my name, and then he adds with a accent—Reverend Rumpus Grizzle.  And he begins a prophecyin’ all sorts o’ fame to me—sich visions!”

“Well, Scape-grace, what was the shape of these visions.”

“Quite genteel.  He sed, I’d be a great litterary kiracter—ownin’ a great yaller kivered pamphlet, with all sorts of nice plates o’ young ladies a nussin’ babies, little pussies playin’ with spools o’ cotton, and picturs’ of cross-eyed poets, as hadn’t been operated upon for straybisimus.  He then sed  I’d one day be surrounded by all the great lights o’ th’ age—be a very great man indeed, and own a fine house, with pictures on the carpet, and a big looking glass over the mantle.  And I was to have a great big house near the corner o’ ——— and Chesnut streets, full six stories high, with heads popped out of each window, every time the soldiers went by—gals’ heads out of the sixth story winder—boys’ out of the fifth; my corpse of editors out of the fourth, and myself and this Grizzle (who it seems is to be a livin’ angel, about the time all these things are to come to pass) and a big, round, roly-poly faced fat man, named Sam, a-standin’ in the front door, lower story, a-speculatin’ on the probable chances o’ th’ public swallerin’ our next handbill, with 100,000 subscribers and all.  And then there was a heap more to this vision.”

“Go on, my young friend—I’ll polish you up directly.  Go on—oh, go on.”

“Well, my dream wound up with a pictur’ of all the Philadelphy literaty, as they be, when I growd up and these things were to come to pass.  And a nice pictur’ it was—they all came crowding round the form of Rumpus Grizzzle as their head and chief, each one pokin’ his nose out as far as possible, and hollerin’ out his name and merits.  ’Sun’s my name’—sed a little solemn feller—’my face is long but my heart is big,—Peter Sun’s my name, I does poetry, and pollywogues, Ladies’ magazines and extemporaneous effusions.’  ‘Sherry Cobbler is what they call me’—cried a long, sedate fellow, with a strong Scotch accent—‘I’d used to be a poor devil of a printer, and then I riz to the station of a bar keeper, and now I write’s Scotch songs, and sets ’em to music and sings ’em meself’—and so they comes crowdin’ on, one boasting that he never had no character at all, which made him feel very glad and sleep sounder at nights; another a-braggin’ how many actresses and apple gals was in love with him; his legs pertikler—while a third feller hurrahed for the way of doing his creditors, that he’d just found out, by sellin’ a bit of property to two people at once, takin’ good keer to put off filing the deed for the first purchaser until the last minit—and these was the Philadelphy literati—and I was to be the head of the heap.”

“For shame!  You young konwick!  To leave off the respectable business o’ polishin’ coffins, and go to such work as that—for shame!”

“I tell you what it is, my feller—my name’s Georgie—and I’m destined to be a great man, for proof of which I summon my visions.  And, my feller, I start life where many a chap ends it—in a walnut coffin!  That for polishin’ babies coffins—but here goes for writin’ epitaphs by way of a beginnin’—and d’ye mark me?  Yaller kivered pamphlets fur ever—hurray, hurray!”

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[L2] “The Walnut Coffin Papers.  The Second Chapter,” The Citizen Soldier, Sept. 27, 1843

The Walnut Coffin Papers

In various parts and parcels, containing much matter for meditation, some fancy, and a good deal of sober truth, mingled with glimpses of the rise and origin of the Fogtown literati, together with a few views of these redoubtables, in all their present glory, being in fact, a true, copious and veracious account of



The great meeting of the Grand Lodge of the Walnut Coffin.

“Hear!  Hear!”

“Hear him by all means—hear the Grey Ham!”

“I rise, gentlemen, upon this occasion, (hiccup) I rise—silence—order—(pass that bottle, will ye?”)

“Why the devil can’t—can’t you (hiccup) be still?  D—n, who’s a-tryin’ to upset the table?”

“Hear him—hear the Phanyix of Amerikin Litterathur!”

“Who trod on my toe?  D—n—”

“Gentlemen, I’m a-goin’ to give you a song—the song of Moses crossin’ the red sea—”

The Lord (hiccup) has trium—trium—triumphed—”

“Pass the bottle, will you—I say, if you fling lemon peel in my eye again I’ll skin your d—n hide—(hiccup) I will—”

“Damn such a party!  Who soaked my cig—cig—ar—my ci-gar in the ice-tub—a cussed ungentlemanly trick!”

“Gentlemen, upon this occasion I rise, (hiccup,) I say, gentlemen, upon this occasion—”

“Hare him!  Hare the Grey Ham!  Hare the Phanyix o’ Amerikin Litteratur!”

Certainly the party was drunk.

Certainly the party was remarkably drunk.

The Spermaceti candles, standing along the table, flung a dismal light over upturned bottles, broken glasses, and highly drunken literati.

There was a little man drunk.  He had placed his Panama hat between his knees, and was shelling almonds on the crown with all his might.  He was very drunk.

There was a fat man drunk.  His roly poly face shone like a beacon, and his eyes went rolling about his head, while he very philosophically soaked his neighbor’s cigar in his champaigne.  Alas poor Sam!

The man who stood up at the head of the table was very much overcome.  I wish you could have seen him, standing at the head of the table, leaning his knuckles on the board, while his face was sunk between his shoulders, and his eyes kept winking at the lights, as though some practical joke was goin’ on between himself and the candles.

Certainly the party was drunk.  Very drunk.  It was—I am drunk, thou art drunk, he is drunk, we are drunk, you are drunk, they are drunk.  And we’re all drunk.

“Gentlemen,” cried the Man at the Head of the table, “upon this occasion I rise—who’s a-pullin’ the floor from under me?—upon this occasion I rise to—to—I say gentlemen I rise—hold that table still; it’s been to see Fanny Ellsler, for it’s a-performin’ the Cachuca—”

“Let me speak”—cried Peter the Professor—“Literati of Fogtown—the gentleman at the head of the table, our Porcine Father, the venerable Ham, would remark, that, that—excuse me, gentlemen, I—m—a slight pain in the kidneys—a stitch in the side—in the small of the back—I’m—I’m not exactly well—”

And with that he fell to the floor like a dead man.  That is a dead drunk man.

“Och!  Whillaloo!  Be all the snakes and toads Sint Patrick tuk out o’ Ireland in his portmantle, it’s drunk he is!  Docthur Cade how d’ye feel?  Mr. Spermaceti how’s your health?  Professor Peter where does it pain ye?  Venerable Ham an’ ye tuk bad all of a suddint?—”

“Pass the bottle,” growled Doctor Cade.  “Sam’s drunk; any man that says Sam looks like me, gold specs and all—lies!”

“The Lord has triumph—triumphed gloriously,” hiccuped Professor Sun.

“Gentlemen, has the lodge of the Walnut Coffin met—met,” began the venerable Ham, “met for this wild uproar?”  And here, as if a new idea struck him, he turned suddenly round, and asked Professor Sun’s abstract idea of soft crabs.

“Now, the hivens be our bed!” exclaimed Phelix Phillegrim, the little Irishman, the only sober man of the party.  “Won’t you hear me out at all, at all?”

A growling noise was heard under the table.

“Och!  Grizzle, is it there ye are, with yer keen eye and penethratin’ nose? Gentlemen, you say he’s under the table—he imagines he’s an English bull terrier, and—”

“Somebody’s bit my legs,” cried the Ham.  “I’d swear somebody bit my legs.”

“I’m the author of all the poets,” cried the voice of the prophet from under the table.  “I want to know whether an epic couldn’t be written on Spermaceti Sam’s face?  Sich fatness, sich roundness, sich fulness, sich—I say he’s a beacon.  Any man that says he aint a beacon, ’ill get bit.”

“Gintlemen, wid yer lave I’ll jist dhrop a word.  We have assimbled to form and combine the Grand Lodge of the Walnut Coffin, cimposed o’ th’ literary magnates of Frogtown.  Our friend Ham, of the yaller kivered babe, is head of the order, with the title of Principal Grey Ham.”

“That’s me,” cried the chairman.  “I’m the grand noble Grey Ham—of the Grand Lodge of the Walnut Coffin.”

“It’s kickin up a row yer afther all the time?  Be the hill of Howth, ye hairy bastes o’ th’ world, an’ yer not quiet as woodmice directhly, I’ll be the man to give you the taste of me shillaleh!  Whilaloo!  Will ye listen while I call over the names of the lodge?  First comes—

“FATHER HAM, Principal Grey Ham of the Grand Lodge of the Walnut Coffin.

“PROFESSOR SUN, First Bombazine, etc.

“SPERMACETI SAM, First Spermaceti, etc.

And then, gintlemen, there’s a number o’ dignitaries which we can fill up at our leisure from the literary magnates of the great city of Frogtown.  Most worshipful Grey Ham, will ye state the object of this lodge?”

“Our object, gentlemen, is to celebrate my rise in the world, (hiccup)—to immortalize the walnut coffin from which I started, (hiccup)—to form a literary free masonry, combining all that’s great or beautiful in thought or (hiccup)—.  In short, I propose to commence a series of excursions through the country from Frogtown, with my Spermaceti, my Rumpus, my Peter Sun, and my Doctor Cade, as attendants, (hiccup)—and here’s to the Grand Lodge of the Walnut Coffin!”

“Here’s to the Grand Lodge of the Walnut Coffin!”

“And I—Phalix Phillegrim—will be the grand historiographer of these excursions, these doings of the Grand Lodge of the Walnut Coffin!”

“Aye, aye,—yes, yes,—hurrah—three cheers!”

It was funny to see the quiet look which Phillegrim gave, as he regarded the four-and-twenty drunken literati.

Poor Spermaceti had mounted the table.  He sat in the centre of the board, with his knees up to his chin, while his face looked out from between his legs, like a lantern between two posts.

Opposite sat Doctor Cade, regarding Sam with a sinister look.  Something was brewing—any one might have seen it.  So did Phillegrim—and therefore he dropped a little oil in the fire.

“Gintlemen,” he cried, “I rise to pay a distinguished compliment to our friend—the respectable Doctor Cade!  It’s a ganius he is from the sole of his head to the crown of his boots.  I might mintion, gintlemen, his celebrated works o’ merit, his dramey on Wat Tyler, his parody of the Ten Commandments—all are grand, but the grandest thing is, that his face bears a strong resimblance to our esteemed brother, Spermaceti Sam.”

“I’ll be d—d if it does!” cried Doctor Cade, springing on his feet.  “If I looked like him I’d cut my throat!  Look like him, indeed!  And has it come to this?”

“You do look like me,” cried Sam, leaning forward with a sea-sick movement.  “You’re a beacon, and I’m a beacon.  You wear gold specs—so do I.  We’re both good fellows.  We both look alike.  Hurrah for us!”

“Gentlemen!” shouted the Doctor, “this man has insulted me.  I demand satisfaction!”

“You shall have it!” cried the lodge of the Walnut Coffin.

“A duel!  A duel!” shouted Phillegrim.  “Let ’em fight with sacks!  Tie each one on ’em up in a coffee bag, and let ’em fight it out.”

“A duel with sacks!  Quite classic!” cried Professor Sun.

“Hurrah for the duel with coffee bags!” echoed the lodge.

In a few minutes coffee bags were procured.  The Doctor was tied in one, with his arms and head loose—so was Spermaceti.

The lodge gathered round, leaning against the wall for support.  I’ve seen many nice pictures, but this was the nicest of all.  There was Professor Sun holding up a chair, which he was firmly persuaded had taken too much liquor.  The great Ham laid hold of the table, which, according to his belief, was filled with a very improper desire to dance.  Rumpus Grizzle was praying in one corner.  He imagined himself at the battle of Bunker’s Hill, and was praying alternately for the success of the American, and the British arms.  Very corned was Grizzle.

The lodge, some twenty odd members, were clustered round.  Sam’s face was peeping from one sack—Doctor Cade’s from another; and Phillegrim acted as general second to both parties.

“Now, gintlemen, whin I give the word, rowl against one anither!  Rowl as hard as ye kin—bite, scratch, tear, fight!  Now gintlemen, are ye ready?  Rowl!”

“Have at thee, willin!” shouted the knight of the Spermaceti, making a plunge at Cade.

“This to thy heart!  Sack’s the word!” responded the knight of the gold specs.

“Och!  whilaloo!  Here’s the fine sport!  Rowl, ye bullies—rowl!  Now Cade’s on top o’ Sam!  Ah!  whilaloo!  Be jabers, Sam’s on top o’ Cade!  Rowl!  Pitch into him, Cade—give it to him, Sam!  Burn him alive with your face!  Och, gintlemen, is it not the fine sport?  There—there!  Cade’s doubled up in his coffee bag against the wall—Sam’s a burnin’ him to death with his face.  Look how they sprawl over the floore!  Whoop!  There they go!  Like two divils half crazy with the St. Vitus’ dance!  Rowl, rowl, I say rowl!  Go it, I say, while the bag lasts!  There, Cade’s got him by the teeth—och, he’s a bitin’ him!  Hark how he squelches!”

“Now, you fire fly, you torch, you Bardolph, does my face look like yours?  Say it does, and I’ll bite you to death!”

“No, it don’t—no, it don’t!  Let me up—your face does not look like mine.  Your face is wax—any body can mould it to their purposes.  Mine is spermaceti.  Let me up, Doctor.”

“The apology is not accepted—you’re not fit to carry guts to a bear.”

“You are.”

“Och gintlemen, they’ll kill one another!  Och its batin’ one another bad, they’re after now!”  “Let him up”—“Let my beacon up”—“Let Spermaceti up.”  “What the devil did you slap that candle in my eye!”  “You’re another.”  “You’re a puppy.”  “Take that will you.”  “O Lord look down upon these thy children.”  “D—n.”  “Hurrah.”  “Och Whillaloo here’s the po-leece!”

“And you’re a purty set of suckers”—cried a bluff hoarse voice as a muffled and great-coated watchman stood in the doorway—“Here’s a precious row!  Well if I ever—good graschus.  Chir-chir-chir—there goes my rattle!  Come along Charlies—here they are—now tramp,will ye?”

Tramp?” echoed the Lodge.  “Tramp?  Tramp!  Where!”

To the Watch house, my larkies.”

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[L3] “The Walnut Coffin Papers.  The Third Chapter,” The Citizen Soldier, Oct. 11, 1843

The Walnut Coffin Papers

In various parts and parcels, containing much matter for meditation, some fancy, and a good deal of sober truth, mingled with glimpses of the rise and origin of the Fogtown literati, together with a few views of these redoubtables, in all their present glory, being in fact, a true, copious and veracious account of


“I say, G—, why do you keep that fellow, W—, about the E—g M—y?”

“Oh, why, G—m?  What have you got against him?  He’s a man of talent.”

“D—n him—he praises the Walnut Coffin Papers.”

(Extract from Lacon.)


The beauties of the “Prize System,” illustrated in the doings of the Walnut Coffin Lodge.

“Gentlemen of the Lodge—brothers of the Walnut Coffin—it is my principal duty to inform your venerable body of a slight circumstance.—Humbug wanes, gentlemen—the humbug of my magazine is beginning to fade—I’m not making much.  The naysayers say I’m losing a fine penny.  That’s a lie.  But, gentlemen, the fact is this; and it can’t be denied, and it’s no use of concealing it, unless “The Salt River Saturday Stick and Universal Lamp Post” is enlivened by some new humbug, we’ll all go to grass, and the Coffin Maker’s ’Prentice will have to go to polishin’ baby coffins agin’—There—”

“And I’ll have to go back to politics!  Things assume a martial air—they look like selling out”—said he of the burning visage.

“I’ll have to take to pettifogging agin,” cried Peter the Plagiarist.  “Let’s see; what law do I know?  When I was at the bar, I had an ‘audit’ and a case before an Alderman!  Limited practice,—very.  Peter—Peter must brush up.  Times is ticklish.”

“And for all that we are about to receive may the Lord make us thankful,” chimed in Rumpus Grizzle.  “And I’ll have to go to preaching again!”

Things did indeed assume a curious air.  The Grey Ham was sad.  He thought of his fine house, his mantel glasses and his carpets—he thought of ugly handbills, pasted on the walls of that house—ugh!

Peter Sun was sad.  All his reputation was about to vanish.  What with stealing from Bulwer, what with pilfering from “The Diary of a London Physician” he had been able to write “Avengers.”—“Bruizings in the Last War”—“Jeremy Long’s Monologues”—and now all was about to vanish.  Utter annihilation threatened the concern.

Sam was sad.  Sadness dwelt in his full round face—he looked like a melancholy round of beef.  “The Stick” was about to pass away from his grasp.

“Gentlemen,” said the Coffin Maker’s ’Prentice, “I have it—I have it!  Such an idea!”

“He has it!” suggested Peter Sun, who was the invariable toad eater of the Grey Ham.  “How much he looks like Dr. Franklin in that light!—Singular genius—very!”

“What shall we do?” cried Grizzle, “shall we engage the ‘American Tract Society’ as contributors to your ‘Babe?’  Shall we publish the ‘Missionary Reports’ in full?”


The Grey Ham glanced around with a look of great dignity as he spoke.  The torch light fell upon his face, as the ruddy reflection of Spermaceti Sam’s visage was thrown across the table.

We’ll offer a Premium for a Prize Story!” said the ’Prentice in a low and thrilling whisper.  The Walnut Coffin Lodge were struck with astonishment.  A Prize story!  Was not that humbug worn dry?

“Gentlemen, I’ll offer a premium of $152 for the best Revolutionary story; $80 for the best Domestic story—subject, tea pot—”

“Faix and be me mother’s old short gown, hadn’t you betther offer a praymium for the best autho-beography o’ a dog-catcher, wid a porthrait o’ your conthributors for a frontispiece?”

Phelix Phillegrim awoke from his nap.  He looked round upon the puzzled faces of the Lodge.  He smiled upon the venerable Grey Ham as he spoke.

“Gentlemen, I have a word to say.  The world know me as the author of “The Old Bugaboo”—“The Southern Smig”—“Marion and his Sunset Potatoe”—I say the world know me as sich.  Wouldn’t it be better for us to conduct this prize business on the ‘mysterious’ plan?  I say mysterious—and I wish to be understood as indicating the proper course to be pursued—”

“That is to say, Peter, that we are to pack an ‘impartial committee’ ’names of authors, in a secret envelope’ addressed to Publishers, and it is understood that you ae to be the first Revolutionary prize?”

“Sir, you do me a distinguished honor,” said Peter, sententiously.  “That’s the state of the case Ex-actly: Your perception is acute.  Spermaceti Sam, allow me to congratulate you on your poetical talents.  Your lines to your mother are beautiful.  Gentlemen of the Lodge, allow me to repeat the following


By Spermaceti Samuel, Esq.

Mother!  my mother!  With tears—with bitter tears

            I now remember in my manhood’s noon.

My days of infancy—those best and blissful years,

            When on thy lap reclined—I sucked the spoon.

My gaze then met thy kindling eye,

            As softly laid upon that dear maternal lap,

Mingling with thy voice arose my cry,

            Shrieking to heaven with infant-grief for PAP.

Mother!  Though in man’s bloom I now rejoice,

            Bustling the busy paths of life about;

Still in the stilly night I hear thy voice,

            “Oh Sammy, does your mother know you’re out?”

“Gintlemin, that’s what I call poethry—beautiful and say-lect!  It’s quite as touching as Peter Sun’s song to his mother, where the old leddy tells him

“Of holy sires, with their God—

Of they who Joseph’s garment tore—”

“But to the Prize Stories.  This is to be on the ’Mysterious Plan.’  We must make a great hand-bill—show out a great deal—make a fuss, and so on.  The people will be gulled now as they have been a hundred times before.  Hurrah for St. Humbug!”

“Gintlemin—with the kindest intentions in the world—let me make a single remark.  It’s yerselves as understands the art o’ humbuggery to the very top o’ th’ jug—now jest tell me all of you, how did ye get along so well in the world?  Peter Sun, you begin first—yer foxey whiskers give ye precedence—”

“Sir, the course of my life is a clear one.  Writin’ novels had did the business for me.  I’m a genius.  The Multackanowango Patriot, published on the Barnegat shoals says so.  The people, sir, have confirmed that opinion.  You wink—you want to know how I write a novel?  Sir—I take a few pages of Weem’s Life of Marion, I mix a few moral maxims from Montaigne (I’ve got an old translation,) I steal a little dullness from James, a small touch of wildness from Bulwer—the flatness I furnish myself.  I turn the mixture round in my brain—”

“Doesn’t it hurt ye, Peter?”

“I turn out a first rate, Original American Novel—“Marion and his Sweet Potato”—illustrative of the “Domestic Life of the Revolution.”—Grey Ham here says I’m a genius—”

“And Misther Edgar Allan Poe—what does he say of you Pather?”

“Why—why—in fact—Poe—is—a—a—great reader of Bulwer, and—he looks at me—as if—he thought, you know—oh, d—n the thing, he knows I steal my stories—that’s all!”

“Is that all!  What an inconsiderate crathur that Poe is to be shure!”

“Phillegrim, I’ll tell you how I’ve got along.—I’ll tell you, Phillegrim.  Some say honorable dealing is the true principle of business—some say one thing—some say another.  I say ‘stoopin’ is the true method.  When I was “a five-dollars-a-week sub-editor of the Taylor’s-Alley-Dirty-Shirt”—I used to “stoop;” when I bought out the “Stick and Lamp Post” I “stooped” to every man, cringed to everybody when I started the “Grey Ham Babe,” and now I stoop, and intend to stoop, and will keep a-stoopin’ to those gifted with a little wealth and very little brains.  As for the author who has no money! let him not come near me—I’m the Grey Ham—am I.  And I know what’s o’clock, and don’t care a d—n for nobody—don’t I!”

“Spermaceti Sam how did ye rise in the world?”

“Crept up, sir.  Very fat, sir—still I could creep.  Creeping’s my natur.  Crept into Government stations, crept into a reputation for political sagacity.  Trying to creep into a literary reputation now.  Creeping’s my natur.”

“A sort of intellectual bed bug, eh?  Sperm?”  And then with his comical look, his red head and his rolling eye, Phelix Phillegrim looked round upon the other members of the Lodge.  He asked concerning their origin.

And here our pen must be cautious.  For the literati of Fogtown, which everybody knows is situated a good way off from Philadelphia, are very touchy.  They ride down all character, they lie down all genius, they malign all worth, they make a profession of scandal and a living out of calumniation.  But you must not say a word about their character, or their talents.  They are touchy.  Attack them for charlatanism, and they will speak of the obligations you are under to them, because you may have sold them literary productions for the tenth part of a tithe of their worth.  Attack them for their low bred insult, for their employment of a herd of ignorant and asinine clerks, who treat men—their masters—with impertinence, and they will tell you that you ought to be insulted because you are poor.

And these men offer “Prizes for Stories!”  In other words they ask some hundred authors, to write for their “Lamp Post” and write for nothing, while Peter Sun takes the first prize—Harry Daneforth the second—Agnes Parasol the third—Grace Mercie the fourth—Balsey Babblebitshe the fifth, and A. H. Dana, and Walter Hawbrier the rest.  All these gentlemen and ladies, being merely Professor Peter Sun, in a variety of ways.  Like a thief, the man assumes a dozen aliases, and sanctifies dullness on them all.  Immortal Peter.

Pah!  Grey Ham is a great man—but I have scored him somewhat with the lash.  Peter Sun is a great man—then why does he writhe and struggle under the inflection of—truth?  Sam—poor Sam—weak Sam—harmless Sam—he is a great man, and he—furnishes me with fun.

A word to our friends in the country.  You may not fully understand the Walnut Coffin Papers.  To you they may be an unknown language.  Let me give you an idea.

They don’t mean any body in Philadelphia.  No.  Of course not.

Here we have no overgrown literary charlatans, who make a mock of all talent, persecute all genius, and spit their venom at all worth.  Here we have no humbug “Saturday Sticks”—here we have no self-conceited, ignorant pliable individual—yclept the Grey Ham; here we have no organized bands of Magazine Clerks, whose business is to swear to the lies of their masters.  Here we have no “Grey Ham Babes”—no great literary reputations, built on the foundation of a Walnut Coffin.

No. These “Papers” mean nothing.

“Do they, Phelix Phillegrim?”

“Of course not!  But why the devil do these fellers take ’em so much to heart.  Eh, boy?”