Artemus Ward His Book

Author: Artemus Ward  | Date: 1865

Show Summary

Good Advice to J. Davis (1861)


. . . IN my travels threw the Sonny South I heared a heap of talk about Seceshon and bustin up the Union, but I didn’t think it mounted to nothin. The politicians in all the villages was swearin that Old Abe (sometimes called the Prahayrie flower) shouldn’t never be noggerated. They also made fools of theirselves in varis ways, but Ks they was used to that I didn’t let it worry me much, and the Stars and Stripes continued for to wave over my little tent. Moor over, I was a Son of Malty and a member of several other Temperance Societies, and my wife she was a Dawter of Malty, an I sposed these fax would secoor me the infloonz and pertectiun of all the fust families. Alas! I was dispinted. State arter State seseshed and it growed hotter and hotter for the undersined Things came to a climbmacks in a small town in Alabamy, where I was premtorally ordered to haul down the Stars & Stripes. A deppytashun of red-faced men cure up to the door of my tent ware I was standin takin money (the arternoon exhibishun had commenst, an’ my Italyun organist was jerkin his sole-stirrin chimes.) "We air cum, Sir," said a millingtary man in a cockt hat, "upon a hi and holy mishun. The Southern Eagle is screamin threwout this sunny land—proudly and defiantly screamin, Sir!"

"What’s the matter with him," sez I, "don’t his vittles sit well on his stummick?"

"That Eagle, Sir, will continner to scream all over this Brite and tremenjus land!"

"Wall, let him scream. If your Eagle can amuse hisself by screamin, let him went!" The men annoyed me for I was Bizzy makin change.

"We are cum, Sir, upon a matter of dooty——"

"You’re right, Capting. It’s every man’s dooty to visit my show," sed I.

"We air cum——"

"And that’s the reason you are here!" sez I, larfin one of my silvery larfs. I thawt if he wanted to goak I’d giv him sum of my sparklin eppygrams.

"Sir, you’re inserlent. The plain question is, will you haul down the Star-Spangled Banner, and hist the Southern flag!"

"Nary hist!" Those was my reply.

"Your wax works and beests is then confisticated, & you air arrested as a Spy!" . . .

I was carrid to Montgomry in iuns and placed in durans vial. The jail was a ornery edifiss, but the table was librally surplied with Bakin an Cabbidge. This was a good variety, for when I didn’t hanker after Bakin I could help myself to the cabbige.

I had nobody to talk to nor nothing to talk about, howsever, and I was very lonely, specially on the first day; so when the jailer parst my lonely sell I put the few stray hairs on the back part of my bed (I’m bald now, but thare was a time when I wore sweet auburn ringlets) into as dish-hevild a state as possible, & rollin my eyes like a manyyuck, I cride: "Stay, jaler, stay! I am not mad but soon shall be if you don’t bring me suthing to Talk!" He brung me sum noospapers, for which I thanked him kindly.

At larst I got a interview with Jefferson Davis, the President of the Southern Conthieveracy. He was quite perlite, and axed me to sit down and state my case. I did it, when he larfed and said his gallunt men had been a little 2 enthoosiastic in confisticatin my show.

"Yes," sez I, "they confisticated me too muchly. I had sum hosses confisticated in the same way onct, but the confisticaters air now poundin stun in the States Prison in Injinnapylus."

"Wall, wall, Mister Ward, you air at liberty to depart; you air frendly to the South, I know. Even now we hay many frens in the North, who sympathise with us, and won’t mingle with this fight."

"J. Davis, there’s your grate mistaik. Many of us was your sincere frends, and thought certin parties amung us was fussin about you and meddlin with your consarns intirely too much. But J. Davis, the minit you fire a gun at the piece of dry-goods called the Star-Spangled Banner, the North gits up and rises eta massy, in defence of that banner. Not agin you as individooals,—not agin the South even—but to save the flag. We should indeed be weak in the knees, unsound in the heart, milk-white in the liver, and soft in the hed, if we stood quietly by and saw this glorus Govyment smashed to pieces, either by a furrin or a intestine foe The gentle-harted mother hates to take her naughty child across her knee, but she knows it is her dooty to do it. So we shall hate to whip the naughty South, but we must do it if you don’t make back tracks at onct, and we shall wallup you out of your boots! J. Davis, it is my decided opinion that the Sonny South is making a egrejus mutton-hed of herself!"

"Go on, sir, you’re safe enuff. You’re too small powder for me!" sed the President of the Southern Conthieveracy.

"Wait till I go home and start out the Baldinsvill Mounted Hoss Cavalry! I’m Capting of that Corpse, I am, and J. Davis, beware! Jefferson D., I now leave you! Farewell my gay Saler Boy I Good bye, my bold buccaneer! Pirut of the deep blue sea, adoo! adoo!"

[Charles Farrar Browne], (New York, 1865), 162–169 passim.

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Chicago: Artemus Ward, Artemus Ward His Book in American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. Albert Bushnell Hart (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1903), Original Sources, accessed October 1, 2023,

MLA: Ward, Artemus. Artemus Ward His Book, in American History Told by Contemporaries, edited by Albert Bushnell Hart, Vol. 4, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1903, Original Sources. 1 Oct. 2023.

Harvard: Ward, A, Artemus Ward His Book. cited in 1903, American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. , The Macmillan Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 1 October 2023, from