A SUPPLICATION TO THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES
ABOUT sixty thousand Slaves, owned by the People of the United States, make the following supplication to their masters, not for emancipation, but for the amelioration of the condition of certain individuals of their race.
MOST SOVEREIGN, RIGHTFUL, AND EXCELLENT MASTERS, We are the English Language, your lawful and perpetual bond-servants, whose names and origin, characters and duties, are so faithfully exhibited, in Noah Webster's great Dictionary. By far the largest part of us have received nothing but the kindest usage from our owners, from time immemorial. Some thousands of us, indeed, were it possible, might die of having nothing to do but sleep, shut up in the dormitory of the Dictionary, or in the composition of some most learned, or most silly book, which the mass of the people never open. But of this we do not complain. Nor do we account it much of an evil, that certain Yankees make us weary, with the monstrously long drawl with which they articulate us into use. Nor do we cry out against the painful clipping, cutting-up, and shattering-to-pieces, given us by the African race; for we serve them as faithfully as we do their white fellow-mortals.
But now we humbly pray that you will hear what we do complain of. We complain, that certain of our brethren are exceedingly abused, and made wretched, by some thousands, and perhaps millions, of our owners. Their piteous groans have shocked our ears, their unretrieved sufferings have pained our sympathizing hearts, for many years. We can endure no longer; we must speak. Your ancient servants come, then, supplicating you to take measures for the relief of the sufferings of the individuals of our number, whose names and particular subjects of complaint shall now be enumerated, proceeding in alphabetical order.
Arithmetic, that accurate calculator, indispensable to this mighty and money-making nation, grievously complains that he is obliged to work for thousands without the use of A-head, and deprived of one of his two i's. Here is a picture of his mutilated form, Rethmetic!
Attacked, an important character, that figures so gloriously in military dispatches, and is so necessary in medical reports, is forced, by many, to the use of t, more than his constitution will admit. He cannot perform his necessary business, you know, without the use of t, twice during every job, but to have it forced into him three times, causes a change in his constitution and appearance, which he cannot comfortably bear. See how Attacked is altered by more t than he wants, AttackTed.
There is another poor fellow, who has a similar affliction, Across. See what a spectacle a little t makes of him, Acrosst.
That most excellent friend and profitable servant of the Workingmen's party, Earn, complains that those whom he serves the best, deprive him of what little e's his laborious condition demands. See what Earn is brought to by such hard treatment, Airn.
That necessary attendant on every messenger, Errand, is in the same state of suffering, from the same cause. Errand is made Arrant.
is willing to linger behind everybody else in his
it is a miserable fate to be deprived of so large a portion of his
small energy in this way, Arter.
"Go arter the cows, Tom," says Ma'am Milkmoolly. "I move that we adjourn to arternoon," says Squire Goodman, in the Legislature.
Hear, also, how that entirely different character, and bold goer-ahead, growls as he passes on, Before. "I will go forward and do my duty as long as any part of me is left sound; but my well-being is dreadfully affected by a great many people whom I serve, as you cannot but perceive," Afore.
Bellows, that excellent household servant, says he has often had his nose stopped up by ashes, and has wheezed with the asthma for months, but all these afflictions are nothing to usage like this, Belluses.
Bachelor is exceedingly sensitive about what is said of him in the presence of the ladies. He is shockingly mortified at being called Batchelder. To be sure, he is a batch-elder than he ought to be, regarding the comfort of maidens and the good of his country; but he is an odd fellow, and wants his own way. He is almost tempted to destroy himself by taking that deadly poison to his nature, a wife, in order to be relieved from his mortification.
Boil is at the hot duty of keeping the pot going, and sometimes it is hard work; however, he complains not of this; but poor Boil has had the jaundice, and all other liver complaints, for years, and is blubbering like a baby all in consequence of this, viz., about nine-tenths of the cooks in America, and two-thirds of the eaters, call him Bile.
Cellar is the lowest character in the house, and takes more wine and cider than any other, and is the biggest sauce-box in the world. Yet, with all the propriety of the parlor, and a sobriety, as if not a drop of intoxicating liquor was in him, he now implores you to remember that he is a Cellar, and not a Suller.
Chimney. Here is a character who ten thousand times would have taken fire at an affront, were it not for the danger of burning up the houses and goods of his abusers, faithful servant and tender-hearted creature that he is! He is content to do the hottest, hardest, and dirtiest work in the world. You may put as much green wood upon his back as you please, and make him breathe nothing but smoke, and swallow nothing but soot, and stand over steam, till pots and kettles boil no more; all these are ease, pleasantness, and peace, to abuse like this, Chimbly.
Dictionary rages with all the rough epithets in gentlemanly or vulgar use; and then he melts into the most tender and heart-moving words of entreaty, and, in fact, tries all the various powers of the English language. Still further, mighty lexicographic champions, such as Dr. Webster, Sheridan, Walker, Perry, Jones, Fulton and Knight, and Jameson, besides numerous other inferior defenders, even hosts of spelling-book makers, have all exerted their utmost in vain, to save him from the ignominy of being Dicksonary.
End is uttering the most dolorous groans. There are certain individuals who are always killing him without putting him to an end. See what a torture he is put to eend, eend.
Further, that friend of the progress and improvements of this ahead-going age, stops by the way to ask relief. He is ready to further all the innumerable plans for the benefit of man, except when he is brought back in this way Furder.
General, that renowned and glorifying character, whose fame has resounded through the world, is dishonored and made gloryless by many a brave man as well as chicken-heart. He has now intrenched himself in this position, viz., that he will no longer magnify many little militia-folks into mightiness, unless they forbear to call him Gineral. It is not only a degradation, but it is an offence to his associations. Gin Gin-er-al; Wine-er-al, and much more, Water-al, would be more glory-giving in these un-treating, or rather, re-treating times of temperance.
Gave, that generous benefactor, that magnanimous philanthropist, is almost provoked. He declares that he has a good mind, for once, to demand back his donations from the temper-trying miscallers. I gave a thousand dollars, this very day, towards the completion of Bunker-Hill Monument. But don't say of me, he gin. I never gin a cent in my life.
Get, that enterprising and active character, who is a stanch friend of all the temperate and industrious, stops to complain, that some of those he serves the best call him Git. And he is very reluctant to get along about his business, till some measures are taken to prevent the abuse. Get is now waiting, ye workers of all professions; what say? Will you still, with a merciless i, make him Git?
Gum is always on the jaw, that he is so often called Goomb, in spite of his teeth.
Gown, that very ladylike personage, is sighing away at the deplorable de-formity that de-spoils her beauty in the extreme, as is developed in the following detail, Gown-d. Oh! ye lords of language! if ye have any gallantry, come to the deliverance of the amiable gown, that she may shake off this D-pendant.
Handkerchief, your personal attendant, is also distressed in the extreme. She is kept by many from her chief end in the following cruel manner Handker-CHER.
January, that old Roman, is storming away in the most bitter wrath; shaking about his snowy locks, and tearing away at his icy beard, like a madman. " Blast 'em," roars his Majesty of midwinter, "don't they know any better than to call me Jinuary? They say, 'It is a terrible cold Jinuary,' then, 'It is the Jinuary thaw.' Oh! ye powers of the air! help me to freeze and to melt them by turns, every day, for a month, until they shall feel the difference between the vowel a, and the vowel i. My name is January."
Kettle, that faithful kitchen-servant, is boiling with rage. He is willing to be hung in trammels, and be obliged to get his living by hook and by crook, and be hauled over the coals every day, and take even pot-luck for his fare, and, indeed, to be called black by the pot; all this he does not care a snap for; but to be called Kittle KITTLE! "Were it not for the stiffness of my limbs, I would soon take leg-bail," says the fiery hot Kettle.
Little allows that he is a very inferior character, but avers that he is not least in the great nation of words. He cannot be more, and he will not be less. Prompted by a considerate self-respect, he informs us that he is degraded to an unwarrantable diminutiveness by being called Leetle. "A leetle too much," says one. "A leetle too far," says another. "A mighty leetle thing," cried a third. Please to call respectable adjectives by their right names, is the polite request of your humble servant, Little.
Lie, that verb of so quiet a disposition by nature, is roused to complain that his repose is exceedingly disturbed in the following manner. Almost the whole American nation, learned as well as unlearned, have the inveterate habit of saying Lay, when they mean, and might say Lie. "Lay down, and lay abed, and let it lay," is truly a national sin against the laws of grammar.
Mrs., that respectable abbreviation, is exceedingly grieved at the indignity she suffers. The good ladies, whom she represents, are let down from the matronly dignity, to which she would hold them, even to the un-married degradation of Miss; and this in the United States, where matrimony is so universally honored and sought after. She desires it to be universally published, that Miss belongs only to ladies who have never been blessed with husbands.
Oil, you all know, has a disposition, smooth to a proverb; but he is, to say the least, in great danger of losing his fine, easy temper, by being treated in the altogether improper manner that you here behold Ile!
Potatoes, (those most indispensable servants to all dinner-eating Americans, and the benevolent furnishers of "daily bread," and, indeed, the whole living to Pat-land's poor,) Potatoes, are weeping with all their eyes, at the agony to which they are put by thousands. They are most unfeelingly mangled, top and toe, in this manner, Taters. Notwithstanding their extremities, in the most mealy-mouthed manner they exclaim, "Po! Po! gentlemen and ladies! pray spare us a head, and you may bruise our toes in welcome. Still, you must confess that Potaters is not so sound and whole-some as Potatoes."
Point allows that in some respects he is of very minute importance; but asserts that in others he is of the greatest consequence, as in an argument, for instance. Point is determined to prick forward in the cause, till he shall be no longer blunted and turned away from his aim, and robbed of his very nature, in the measure you here perceive Pint.
Philadelphia takes off his broad-brim, and, in the softest tones of brotherly love, implores the people of the United States to cease calling him by that harsh, horrid, and un-brotherly name, Fellydelphy. It deprives him of his significance, and ancient and honorable lineage, as every Greek scholar well knows.
Poetry. What a halo of glory around this daughter of Genius, and descendant of Heaven! Behold how she is rent asunder by many a pitiful proser, and made to Come short of due honor. Potry Apollo and the Muses know nothing about Potry!
Quench, that renowned extinguisher, whom all the world can't hold a Candle to, is himself very much put out, now and then, from this cause, some people permit that crooked and hissing serpent S, to get before him, and coil round him, while he is in the hurry of duty, as you here see Squench; and sometimes they give him a horrid black i, thus Squinch.
Rather is universally known to be very nice in his preferences, and to be almost continually occupied in expressing them. Be it as universally known, then, that he is disgusted beyond all bearing at being called Ruther.
Sauce has a good many elements in him, and, above all, a proper share of self-respect. He thinks he has too much spice and spirit to be considered such a flat as this indicates Sass.
Scarce is not a very frequent complainant of anything, but he now complains of certain Nippies, both male and female, and hosts of honest imitators, call him Scurce, thinking it the very tip of gentility.
Such does not complain of mistaken politeness, but of low and vulgar treatment like this Sich.
Since embraces all antiquity, goes back beyond Adam, yea, as far back into the unbeginningness as you could think in a million of years, and unimaginably further. And, oh! his hoary head is bowed down with sorrow at being called by two-thirds of the American people, Sence.
Spectacles, those twin literati, who are ever poring over the pages of learning, raise eyes of supplication. They say that they cannot look with due respect upon certain elderly people, who pronounce them more unlettered than they really are, as you may perceive without looking with their interested eyes Spetacles. Venerable friends, pray c us, c us.
Sit has been provoked to stand up in his own behalf, although he is of sedentary habits, and is sometimes inclined to be idle. He declares he has too much pride and spirit to let that more active personage Set do all his work for him. "Set still," says the pedagogue to his pupils and parents to their children. "Set down, sir," say a thousand gentlemen, and some famously learned ones, to their visitors. "The coat sets well," affirms the tailor. Now all this does not sit well on your complainant, and he sets up his Ebenezer, that he should like a little more to do, especially in the employ of college-learned men, and also of the teachers of American youth.
Sat makes grievous complaint that he is called Sot. He begs all the world to know that he hath not redness of eyes, nor rumminess nor brandiness of breath, nor flamingness of nose, that he should be degraded by the drunkard's lowest and last name Sot.
Shut. This is a person of some importance. He is, indeed, the most decisive and unyielding exclusive in the world. He keeps the outs, out, and the ins, in, both in fashionable and political life. Now this stiff old aristocrat is made to appear exceedingly flat, silly, and undignified, by being called, by sundry persons, Shet. "Shet the door," says old Grandsire Grumble, of a cold, windy day. "Shet your books," says the schoolmaster, when he is about to hear the urchins spell. "Shet up, you saucy blockhead," cries he, to young Insolence. This is too bad! It is abominable! a schoolmaster, the appointed keeper of orthographical and orthoλpical honor, letting fall the well-bred and lofty-minded Shut from his guardian lips, in the shape of Shet. Oh! the plebeian! Faithless and unfit pedagogue!! He ought to be banished to Shet-land, where by day he should battle with Boreas; and where by night his bed should be the summit of a snow-drift, his sheets nothing but Arctic mists, and his pillow the fragment of an iceberg!! Away with the traitor to Shetland! O, most merciful American masters and mistresses! Shut has no relief or safety from the miserableness of Shet, but in U.
Told feels the dignity of his vocation, and asks not to be kept out of use by such bad grammar as this Telled.
Yes, that good-natured personage, affirms that were he not of so complying a disposition, he would henceforth be no to everybody who should call him Yis.
Finally, hearken! There is a voice from the past. It is the complaint of departing Yesterday. He cries aloud Give ear, O, To-day, and hear, hear, O, To-morrow! Never, never more, call me Yisterday!
We have thus presented you, Sovereign Owners, with the complaints and groans of a considerable number of our race. There are, doubtless, many others, who are also in a state of suffering, but who have uncommon fortitude, or too much modesty, to come forward publicly, and make known their trials to our whole assembled community. Should the abuse of any such happen to be known to you at any time, we pray that the same consideration may be given to them as to the rest.
Now, Sovereign Masters and Mistresses, and Rightful Owners, shall these visions of hope be realized? Shall the condition of our suffering brethren be ameliorated? Shall the era of good grammar, correct spelling, and proper pronunciation, be hastened forward by some benevolent exertions? Shall the present abuses be transmitted to the future or not? Shall the Golden Age of Speech speedily come, and last evermore?
That such improvement in their condition may be vouchsafed, is the humble prayer of your supplicants; all whose names, being too numerous to be here subscribed, may be found recorded in Webster's great Dictionary.