Thursday, November 25, 2004


The fall of Turkey

[The following is a letter from the famous abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to his friend Francis Jackson, written on November 26, 1841, the day after Thanksgiving, and included in Volume 3 of the Letters of William Lloyd Garrison, ed. Walter M. Merrill, p. 38-40.]

My Dear Friend:

I hasten to inform you of the downfall of Turkey! Yesterday, at 2 o'clock, precisely, a very gallant attack was made by our forces in all quarters at once, our Garrison being in prime spirits and excellent condition. From the very first moment, the victory was evidently ours. Grease, so long held in captivity, was immediately extricated, and its independence is, of course, settled beyond controversy. The right wing of the enemy's forces was carried by myself in person, without any loss, and the left by my eldest son, who displayed extraordinary zeal and valor. You may confidently announce that Turkey has not a leg left to stand upon! [...] The women and children, inspirited by the prospect of a successful onslaught, could not be restrained from taking part in the engagement, and they exhibited, through out, the firmness of veterans. [...] One of the boys said he would go "neck and nothing." Another was disposed to breast any danger, in order to gratify his warlike appetite. A third was inclined to occupy a posterior position, and "thereby hangs a tail!" [...] There was not a drop of blood shed on our side, and not a wound received, except a mere scratch which I incidentally inflicted on my finger by my own weapon, in the ardor of attack.

I hasten to communicate this intelligence to you, as it cannot fail to be gratifying; especially as you nobly incited us to the conflict, and avowed your readiness to "take the responsibility." We have unanimously come to the conclusion, that Francis Jackson is a better man and a better general than Andrew, and deserves incomparably more at the hands of his countrymen.

Hoping and believing that nothing will ever occur to blight your laurels, I remain, with Thanksgiving,

Your faithful and much obliged friend,
Wm. Lloyd Garrison [...]

P.S. My muse insists upon recording the event in rhyme -- as follows:

Shout, all ye nations! Turkey is no more!
  Complete, perpetual, is its overthrow!
  Thanks-giving day was struck the fatal blow: --
Let bells be rung, let cannon loudly roar,
And nothing human Turkey's fate deplore!
  Its pride and pomp are in the dust laid low --
  Grease is delivered from a fiery foe,
And all its tears and agonies are o'er!
Let Tyranny with terror now turn pale,
  (Fierce as a wolf, and sightless as an owl) --
Its end is near, (and "thereby hangs a tail,")
  And die it must, by fair means or by fowl!
Thy cause, O Liberty! can never fail,
  Though traitors curse, and demons rage and howl.

[Today I am thankful for the abolitionists, because studying them is so much pun.]

Collective Improvisation:

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