Among the Spirits

Charles Farrer Browne, Vanity Fair, vol. 4 (August 31, 1861): 99.

Among the Spirits.
Artemus Ward.

    My naburs is mourn harf crazy on the new fangled idear about Sperrets. Sperretooul Sircles is held nitely & 4 or 5 long hared feller has settled here and gone into the sperret biznis excloosivly.  A atemt was made to git Mrs. A. WARD to embark into the Sperret biznis but the atemt faled.  1 of the long hared fellers told her she was a ethereal creetur & wood make a sweet mejium, whareupon she atact him with a mop handle & drove him out of the house.  I will hear obsarve that Mrs. WARD is a invalerble womun—the partner of my goys & the shairer of my sorrers.  In my absunse she watchis my interests & things with a Eagle Eye & when I return she welcums me in afectionate stile.  Trooly it is with us as it was with Mr. & Mrs. INGOMER in the Play, to whit—

        2 soles with but a single thawt
        2 soles which beet as 1.

    My nabers injooced me to attend a Sperretooul Sirdcle at Squire SMITH’S.  When I arrove I found the east room chock full incloodin all the old maids in the villige & the long hared fellers a4sed.  When I went in I was salootid with “hears cums the benited man”—“ hear cums the horey-heded unbeleever”—“hear cums the skoffer at trooth,” etsettery, etsettery.  Sez I, “my frens it’s troo I’m hear, & now bring on your Sperrets.”

    1 of the long hared fellers riz up and sed he would state a few remarks.  He sed man was a critter of intelleck & was movin on to a Gole.  Sum men had bigger intellecks than other men had and thay wood git to the Gole the soonerest.  Sum men was beests & wood never git into the Gole at all.  He sed the Erth was materiel but man was immaterial and hens man was different from the Erth.  The Erth, continnerd the speaker, resolves round on its own axeltree onct in 24 hours, but as man haint gut no axeltree he cant resolve. He sed the ethereal essunce of the koordinate branchis of superhuman natur becum mettymorfussed as man progrest in harmonial coexistunce & eventooally anty humanized theirselves & turned into reglar sperretuellers.  [This was versifferusly applauded by the cumpany and as I make it a pint to get along as pleasantly as possible, I sung out “bully for yu old boy.”]

    The cumpany then drew round the table and the Sircle kommenst to go it.  Thay axed me if thare was anybody in the Sperret land which I wood like to convarse with, I sed if BILL TOMPKINS, who was onct my partner in the show biznis, was sober, I shood like to convarse with him a few periods.

    “Is the Sperret of WILLIAM TOMPKINS present?” sed 1 of the long hated chaps, and there was three knox on the table.

    Sez I, “WILLIAM, how goze it, Old Sweetness?” “Pretty ruff, old hoss,” he replide.
That was a pleasant way we had of addressin each other when he was in the flesh.  “Air you in the show biznis, WILLIAM?” sez I.

    He sed he was.  He sed he & JOHN BUNYAN was travelin with a side show in connection with SHAKSPEER, JONSON & CO.’S Circus.  He sed Old BUN (meanin Mr. BUNYAN,) stird up the animils & ground the organ while he tendid door.  Occashlinally Mr. BUNYAN sung a comic song.  The circus was doin middlin well.  BILL SHAKSPEER had made a grate hit with Old BOB RIDLEY, and BEN JONSON was delitin the peple with his treoly grate ax of hossmanship without saddul or bridal.  Thay was rehersin Dixey’s Land & expected it would knock the peple.

    Sez I, “WILLIAM, my luvly frend, can you pay me that 13 dollars you owe me?”  He sed no with one of the most tremenjis knox I ever experiunsed.

    The Sircle sed he had gone.  “Air you gone, WILLIAM?” I axed.

    “Rayther,” he replide, and I knowd it was no use to pursoo the subjeck furder.

    I then cailed fur my farther.

    “How’s things, daddy?”

    “Middlin, my son, middlin.”

    “Ain’t you prowd of your olfurn boy?”


    “Why not, my patient?”

    “Becawz you hav gone to writin for the noospapers, my son.  Bimeby you’ll lose all your character for trooth and verrasserty.  When I helpt you into the show biznis I told you to dignerfy that there perfeshun.  Litteratoor is low.”

    He also statid that he was doin middlin well in the planut biznis & liked it putty well, tho’ the climit was rather warm.

    When the Sircle stopt thay axed me what I thawt of it.

    Sez I, “My frends I’ve bin into the show biznis now goin on 23 years.  Theres a artikil in the Constitooshun of the United States which sez in effeck that everybody may think just as he darn pleazes, & them is my sentiments to a hare.  You dowtlis beleeve this Sperret doctrin while I think it is a little mixt.  Just so soon as a man becums a reglar out & out Sperret rapper he leeves orf workin, lets his hare grow all over his fase & commensis spungin his livin out of other peple.  He eats all the dickshunaries he can find & goze round chock full of big words, scarein the wimmin folks & little children & destroyvin the piece of mind of evry famerlee he enters.  He don’t do nobody no good & is a cuss to society & a pirit on honest peple’s corn beef barrils.  Admittin all yu say abowt the doctrin to be troo, I must say the reglar perfessional Sperret rappers—them as makes a biznis on it—air abowt the most ornery set of cusses I ever enkountered in my life.  So sayin I put on my surtoot and went home.

    Respectably Yures,


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