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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

From “The Echo”

By “The Hartford Wits”

[The Echo, with Other Poems. 1807.—The title-series is composed of newspaper satires, 1791–96. Written by Alsop and Theodore Dwight, with occasional passages by Hopkins, M. F. Cogswell, and E. H. Smith.]


  • “On taking this station on a former occasion, I declared the principle on which I believed it my duty to administer the affairs of our commonwealth. My conscience tells me that I have, on every occasion, acted up to that declaration, according to its obvious import, and to the understanding of every candid mind.”—Thomas Jefferson. 4 March, 1805.

  • ’TIS just four years, this all-eventful day,

    Since on my head devolved our country’s sway,

    When at the undertaking’s magnitude

    With lowly reverence I most humbly bowed.

    You well remember with what modest air

    I first approached the Presidential Chair,

    How blushed my cheek, what faltering in my gait,

    When first I squatted on the throne of state!

    But as, protected by supernal power,

    We all survived that most tremendous hour,

    Let us rejoice, and trust that not in vain

    Four years have brought us to this place again.

    A foolish custom forced me to declare

    Off-hand what point of compass I should steer;

    But knowing well that every Federal eye

    On me was fixed some mischief to descry,

    I tuned my fiddle for the vulgar throng,

    And lulled suspicion by a soothing song.

    An old companion in my bosom keeps

    A constant watch, save when perchance he sleeps;

    From early youth in friendship sweet we’ve played,

    And hand in hand through life’s vast circuit strayed.

    Last night I asked him freely to declare,

    (And he was here before, and heard me swear)

    How far I’d kept my first inaugural speech,

    And whether Candor could allege a breach.

    He boldly answered—“Sir, on each occasion,

    You’ve acted e’en beyond your declaration:

    Thus, when you promised to be just and true

    To ‘all,’ and give to every man his due,

    Could Candor possibly have understood

    That the term ‘all men’ could your foes include?

    No, Sir, on me let all the mischief fall,

    If aught except your friends was meant by ‘all.’

    Nor shall the Federalists, perverse and base,

    On grounds like these lay claim to hold their place.

    Again, when toleration was your theme,

    What stupid mortal could a moment dream

    You meant to drop at once your choicest grace,

    The right to turn the Federalists from place:

    What though you said, with soft persuasive tone,

    That Federalists and Democrats were one;

    Yet you, and I, and Candor fully knew

    By ‘one’ you meant nor more nor less than two.

    And shall a man of broad capacious mind

    Be to one meaning rigidly confined?

    The ancient proverb’s wiser far, I trow,

    ‘’Tis best to keep two strings to every bow.’

    This maxim oft, amid this world of strife,

    Has proved the solace of your varied life,

    Charmed the rapt ear with soft and double tongue,

    And gained applause by sweet ambiguous song.

    Now, Sir, since I have set all matters right,

    Conscience will bid the President good-night.”