Posts Tagged ‘P. Junior’

Comet Quirls, The Civil War and Mark Twain

April 20, 2010

C.Q. — San Francisco. — It strikes us that you are rather severe and somewhat profane, but as your titular appellation is significant of eccentricity, the following verses may be considered permissible. Still, in the almost unlimited license accorded you, you should not allow yourself to forget that satire, to meet with unqualified acceptance, must not only be keenly pointed but delicately clothed. It is a dangerous weapon at all times, and, even though deftly handled and well thrust, is more provocative of noxious than beneficial effects.

If the convex ellipsis of your orbit should hereafter bring you in contact with “political surfaces,” we implore of you to glide over them more easily and return at once to the “illimitable space” and “nebulous matter” nature has so generously provided for the range and aliment of “opaque bodies.”

For this once, portentous Comet, you are permitted to plow the alluvium of this sublunar sphere, and “flirt dirt” in our eyes without restraint, but we warn you if you ever concuss the North American Continent again, that there will ensue an extensive conflagration (in our grate) and a prodigious “flare up” among the powers that be. Sail in.

General Winfield Scott (Image from http://www.civilwarphotogallery.com)

SOME SMALL TALK.

BY C.Q.

General Scott, went to Europe,
Doughty hero he!
Turned around, came right back,
Nothing that to me.
Many battles, has he fought,
For his country bled;
John Crapeau, put a flea,
In his ear, ’tis said.
Said he, Scott, run right home,
Jonathan advise;
To obey, great John Bull,
Sacre! — or he dies.
Scott came home, out of breath,
Told his little tale;
Jonathan, hamed his horns,
In just like a snail.
Mason went, Slidell too,
What a jolly game;
Uncle Sam, eat his words,
Sabe all the same.
That to me, nothing is,
But I’d like to know;
If the blockade, is a sham,
Is the Government dough?
Washington, soldiers guard,
Precious city that;
Uncle Sam’s, getting poor,
They’re getting fat.
“Shoulder arms!” harmless fun,
March two steps ahead;
Traitors none, march right back,
Stack arms, go to bed.
Full of spunk, every man,
Fiercely they have sparred;
At the South, (in a horn,)
Is’nt it d’n’d hard?
Pen is mightier, than the sword,
That’s why Sumpter fell;
Powder’s foul, ink is good,
Russell catches h_ll.
Brigand Greely, has resigned,
Spills his country’s flag;
Then he tries, to mop it up,
With his Tribune rag.
Abe is sound, Scott is wise,
Everybody’s true;
Wont somebody tell the rest,
What the de’l to do.
600,000 men in arms,
Eager for the fray;
Going to fight, by-and-by,
Yes! — but not to-day.
Forward movement’s been the talk,
For six months or more;
Still they stick, fast as mud,
To Potomac’s shore.
Gasconade, who’s afraid?
Hunky Uncle Sam;
Spend his money, he don’t care,
A continental d__n.

The Golden Era – Jan 26, 1862

Secretary of War (Image from http://www.civilwarphotogallery.com)

I am not certain if the following “satire” is the article being referenced above, but the Mercury was a rival paper, and this was printed in the Golden Era, so I think, perhaps it is the correct one.

CIVIS VS. MILES. — THE SITUATION.

In the “Table Talk” of the N.Y. Sunday Mercury, “the ignorant and presumptuous civilian who presumes to criticise the manner in which our military affairs are being conducted,” is severely and properly rebuked:

“War is a science that never associates itself with such commonplace objects as frock-coats and stove-pipe hats; in fact, recent observation inclines us to believe that it is almost exclusively composed of brass buttons and conical moustaches, with now and then a shoulder-strap, and a cap shaped like a dislocated thimble. As we have said before, the civilian does very well in his way; but it is simply absurd to imagine that he knows anything about the customs of war. Suppose, for instance, a body of ten thousand Union troops in Virginia should come suddenly upon a rebel battery of three guns and fifty men, what should be done? — With the ignorance peculiar to his class, the civilian would unhesitatingly respond, that the ten thousand Union troops should immediately walk over and take the battery.

Miserable stupidity! Suicidal imbecility! Fiendish abolitionism! That would be a nice way to do it, indeed! Would the fellow have another “On to Richmond?” War is a profound science and requires long study and experience. In such a case, as we have hypotheticated, the only true military plan of proceeding is as follows:

Upon observing the rebel battery of three guns and fifty men, the Union troops must at once retire to their tents, and place pickets in good places to be shot. The regiments must then have an election for colonels, and the commander must write to Secretary Cameron for instructions concerning the treatment of slaves. They must then reconnoitre in force for six days running, retiring back across any river in the neighborhood, and losing as few men as possible. (Mem. Be very particular in this matter — always retire across the river.) The next four months must be occupied with reviews and balloon ascensions, interspersed here and there with reports from the sanitary committee. A reconnoisance in force must next be essayed, to be followed by a return to camp. Everything being now ready, the whole force must advance upon the battery by the most difficult route discoverable, and if the battery is still there, it will be brilliantly captured, provided the fifty rebels have not been reinforced.

The national “situation” is supposed to be worth about two million a day, and may be defined thus: The Army of the Potomac enjoys good health, and reconnoitres in force as often as possible — besides producing one review a week and several balloon ascensions. The Army of Western Virginia also reconnoitres in force often enough to keep its anxious relatives posted in a knowledge of its existence. The Army of the West remains true to the spots that gave it birth. Fortress Monroe, Hatteras Inlet, Fort Pickens and Port Royal are still ours, and our great-grandchildren will probably behold Charleston and Pensacola in our possession.

Such being the “situation,” it becomes civilians to mind their own business, and put their trust in brass buttons. As one of our intelligent contemporaries justly remarks, the advance of the Union troops in Virginia and elsewhere is merely a question of time, though the answer to said question may be a matter of eternity. Let us have patience and wait a few years. This miserable rebellion is destined to be terribly overthrown in the end —

“—because

“What is to be will be, as what has been was.”

The Golden Era – Jan 26, 1862

PAT US ON THE SHOULDER.

BY COMET QUIRLS.

When Davis Jeff takes Washington, and we take New Orleans,
We then will have his cotton, and he will have our beans;
The cotton we will offer up, to John Almighty Bull,
And he will cotton to us close, unmindful of our “wool.”

Pat us on the shoulder,
Cotton to us quick;
Johnny Bull! Johnny Bull!
Your skull is very thick.

We’re kinder marching down that way, our steps are slow and sure,
We may not be as fast as some, but we shall long endure;
Once let us get there, mighty John, we’ll seize on every nig,
And you shall have the lot dear John, at your own honest fig.

Pat us on the shoulder,
Cotton to us quick;
Johnny Bull! Johnny Bull!
You’re going to be sick.

Don’t forget the past, dear John, the past of Bunker Hill,
The past that makes you sorry, John, the past that makes us thrill;
That stuff is in the Union yet, don’t pull hard on the bits,
T’would make us mighty stubborn John, and we should give you fits.

Pat us on the shoulder,
Cotton to us quick;
Johnny Bull! Johnny Bull!
Your skull is very thick.

This civil war among ourselves, is but a canker rash,
Don’t think because of it, dear John, we’re going all to smash;”
We’ll all come round again bimeby, unto that good old tune,
“Yankee Doodle keep it up,” until the day of doom.

Pat us on the shoulder,
Cotton to us quick;
Johnny Bull! Johnny Bull!
You’re going to be sick.

A foolish lover’s quarrel this, it touches not the heart,
In this our deepest bitterness, you cannot make us part;
Don’t come between us, dearest John, unless you wish to see,
The flashing eyes and brawny arms, of our old Liberty.

Pat us on the shoulder,
Cotton to us quick;
Johnny Bull! Johnny Bull!
Your skull is very thick.

Don’t storm and rave because we choose, to stone our harbors in,
The Stars and Stripes you know, dear John, have always war’d to win;
And if you pick a muss with us, we’ll leave you so stone blind,
The British Lion never more, would “whistle down the wind.”

Pat us on the shoulder,
Cotton to us quick;
Johnny Bull! Johnny Bull!
You’re going to be sick. —

Don’t let your love of lucre, John, confound your love of right,
Your spindles may get empty, John, but keep your morals bright;
For Uncle Sam has got a rod, in pickle still for you,
And with it on your back he’ll brank, the red, white and blue.

Pat us on the shoulder,
Cotton to us quick;
Johnny Bull! Johnny Bull!
Your skull is very thick.

You got a touch in ’76, that brought you to your knees,
You got another lick in ’12, that rather made you sneeze;
Don’t touch our Eagle’s tail, dear John, for if you do I know,
You’ll never come to time again, or need a cotton blow.

Pat us on the shoulder,
Cotton to us quick;
Johnny Bull! Johnny Bull!
You know you would be sick.

The Golden Era – Feb 2, 1862

SWATHES.

BY COMET QUIRLS.

The white-sleeved mowers had slain the grass,
In straight swathes over the hedge it lay;
And the farmer’s daughter — a buxom lass —
Was busy making the hay.

A clashing of hoofs rang down the road,
Shyly she glanced and dropped her head;
Her flaxen tresses in sunshine flowed,
Her cheeks were opaline red.

With covert glances, her bashful eyes
Assaulted the hedge to question my halt;
I pushed through the gap with drawn surprise,
To challenge the modal fault.

“Why do you toil in the fields, my girl?
There are lighter tasks for such slender hands,
This is the labor of brawny churls,
For maidhood are silken bands.”

“My brothers,” she said, “have gone to the wars,
My father is short of harvest men —
I’m fond of the scents of these severed straws,
And winds that flirt in the glen.”

Then thrusting the tines of her shining fork
Deep into the windrow’s fragrant side;
Slowly she passed on her prosal walk,
Wrapped in her duty’s pride.

The clover-heads fell in fragrant showers,
Like hearts they were crushed beneath her feet;
And stooping to kiss them, the sultry hours
Proclaimed the sacrifice n-eet.

War ravels the warp of the social web,
The brothers the brunt of the battle must bear,
And the gentle sisters rise in their stead
The thews of the fathers to spare.

At night, when the cavalry dashed along,
The clover was tented upon the plain;
And the soldiers saw that the sweet and strong,
Were twins in the country’s pain.

The rallying bugles gustily blew,
The rifted flowing of fretted plumes,
To a snowy cluster suddenly grew
In the path of the crimson blooms!

“Inhale the incense of womanly souls,
The pledge,” said the Leader, “of mothers and wives;
Swear to respond when the reveille rolls,”
“We swear,” they cried — “with our lives!”

The riderless horses neighed in the road,
A clangor of spurs swept the hedge to the West;
When the soldiers their steeds again bestrode,
Red tokens were on each breast.

The spur has fallen from many a foot,
Dumb is the tongue of many a mouth;
But the tokens they bore are taking root
In the fields of the flaming South!

When rural maidens the harvests glean,
That the men look to the Nation’s need;
Dismay will come to the foe who shall deem
Its furrows will ever lack seed.

O! the hempen sinews of stalwart sons,
Commingle with maidhood’s silken bands;
And there is no lacking of steady guns
To blazon Freedom’s commands.

The crimson clover is in the mow,
The crop our sabres are cutting is red;
And the swathes they are leaving are worthy, I trow,
For Saxon maidens to spread.

The Golden Era – Nov 23, 1862

Union Flag (Image from http://www.sonofthesouth.net)

PATRIOTIC IMPROMPTU.

[Conjointly and alternately written.]

BY COMET QUIRLS AND P. JUNIOR.

A grander flag, a brighter land,
Than ours was never waved or tried;
From traitor heart and traitor hand,
He will redeem them — God.

The stars that gleam amid the blue,
The stripes that stream athwart the white,
Will never know dishonor’s hue,
When flying o’er the Right.

The standard bent will backward spring,
To smite the powers that seek its fall,
And to a craven halt will bring
The foes who spread its pall —

Or lue their vision to behold,
In radiant lines, the memories
That sanctify each graceful fold;
And call them to their knees.

The arm of valor Freedom nerves,
The torch, the spark of Honor flames;
Attack is lost, for it but serves
To garner Union aims!

The glory of our hallowed past,
Resistless flows, from sea to sea,
To guide the brave, who gather fast,
To fight for Liberty.

March on we must, still great, still strong,
To consummate our grand desire;
Despite the mailed host of Wrong
And Rubicon of fire!

Our dead may cumber field and ford,
Our wounded bleed at every door;
But never will we sheathe the sword,
To fight Rebellion more.

Essay us well, who deem us weak,
Our sense of all our blessings test;
The tongue need not of purpose speak —
We sacrifice our best.

Clothed in our righteous cause we fight,
Not for a transient renown;
But that the World may know our might;
Chains fall at Freedom’s frown.

Our past its fields of glory had,
Our cannon thundered Triumph’s peal;
And till it makes the present glad
We ply the naked steel.

O, God, forgive the blood we shed,
To crush the power that claims our life;
We strive to strike Oppression dead
Forever, in this strife.

Scan not the storm to see the wreck,
The staunch old ship will breast it through;
And all the dimmed stars will fleck
The Future’s tranquil blue.

And all mankind in unity,
Will shout their triumph, unto Time
To echo through Eternity;
and make our acts sublime.

Swing wide the doors to tender Peace!
She comes with aspect all serene;
And where the crimson volleys cease
She strews the evergreen.

And thus, for Honor, Justice, God!
Immortal Truth, record the deed!
Our patriots draw their Country’s sword;
And charge for Freedom’s meed.

The Golden Era – Dec 14, 1862

William Andrew Kendall – aka  Comet Quirls:

From:

Title: Mark Twain’s Letters: 1872-1873
Volume 5 of Mark Twain papers, Mark Twain
Authors: Mark Twain, Edgar Marquess Branch, Michael B. Frank, Kenneth M. Sanderson
Editor: Edgar Marquess Branch
Publisher: University of California Press, 1997
pages 8-11
Google Book Preview LINK

***

More from the same book, excerpted from a letter to Olivia Clemens:

And this from Samuel Clemens:

And this, of which I was unable to find the letters referred to since this book is preview only:

I am curious about the libel reference.

***

And from the following, record of Comet Quirl’s death:

San Francisco municipal reports Fiscal Year 1875-6, Ending June 30, 1876 LINK

As you can see, Comet Quirls died with 55 cents to his name, probably money borrowed or given to him.