Henry Livingston, Jr.
Henry Livingston's Poetry

ALL hail to the season so jovial and gay,
More grateful to NEWS-BOYS than blossoms of May,
Than Summer's green gown, or Miss Autumn's brocade,
Bespangled with gold, and with diamonds o'erlaid;
Give me surly Winter, bald-headed and bare,
Cold nights, frosty mornings, and keen piercing air,
With storms roaring round him; rain, hail, sleet and snow,
While hoarse, from the mountains the howling winds blow;
For Summer and Autumn and fair-bosom'd Spring,
With their pinks and their peaches, no holidays bring;
But now comes blithe Christmas, while just in his rear,
Advances our saint, jolly, laughing, NEW-YEAR,
Which, time immemorial, to us has been made
The source of our wealth and support of our trade,
For then, cockahoop with the magical song,
That charms from your purses the glittering l'argent,1
With our pulse beating quick, and our breast void of pain,
We quit types and shadows, the substance to gain.

But what, on this festive occasion, to say,
Is a question which puzzles your poet, to day;
Since the storms which have ravag'd old Europe are o'er,
And the light'nings and thund'rings of war are no more;
Even Oglou, who Turkey's grand Seignior defied,
Has, at length, gain'd his point, and preferment beside;
Toussaint, the black chief, too, is trick'd by Le Clerc,
And in chains sent to limbo by king Bonaparte,
While General Le Death, to revenge such foul play,
Tricks Le Clerc and his minions in much the same way,
And Negroes, by plunder and carnage and flame,
Shew Frenchmen how well they their rights can maintain.
Well -- since from abroad no great tidings are brought,
Let us see what at home there is, worthy of note;
Why here we find little to trouble our heads,
Except paper-battles 'twixt Demos and Feds;
Abusing and squabbling and wrangling and spite,
Though I, for my life, see not what they get by't,
Unless 'tis the pleasure their venom to spit
And make folks believe they've abundance of wit;
But in this they mistake, for abuse, 'tis well known,
Is the wit and the wisdom of blackguards, alone.
But to come to the point which I've long had in view,
My patrons attend, I've a few words for you;
You'll please to remember how, many months past,
While tempest roar'd loud and while shrill scream'd the blast,
When heat sing'd the earth and when cold froze the air,
And sometimes when suns shone serenely and fair,
With the news gather'd up from the wide world all o'er,
True as time, ev'ry week, I arriv'd at your door;
And now, as old custom ordains, I appear,
To present you, my Patrons, a HAPPY NEW-YEAR,
The year which we name EIGHTEEN HUNDRED and THREE,
Which brings you a song and your Carrier a Fee,
At least I predict so (with deff'rence to you)
As we all can predict what we wish to be true.
How cheerfully then will I stick to the press
For a twelvemonth to come -- be the same more or less,
To tell you what wonders the Fates bring along,
And how they behave, distant nations among;
To tell you if War his bold clarion shall sound,
Or Betsy's shrill voice Billy's bosom shall wound;
If fevers shall rage and their thousands destroy,
Or your poultry be kidnap'd by some thievish boy;
If hurricanes level both city and town,
Or Bragman, the bully, knock Limberlegs down;
Or Johnny be pierc'd by Miss Jenny's bright eye;
Or if congress shall make, or our state legislature,
Remarkable movements - by land or by water,
And many more strange things we'll tell you to boot,
As the seasons roll on and occasion shall suit.

But 'tis time that I bid you good bye, till next year,
By wishing you happiness, peace and good cheer;
To the ladies, the charms both of form and of face,
Expression, attraction, and each nameless grace,
Their tempers benign, ting'd with sentiment's fire,
Galants whom they love and the swains they admire;
To the clergy meek charity, unmix'd with pride,
And something to wake us on Sunday, beside;
To the farmer fine crops; to the merchant much trade;
To the sexton small use for the mattock and spade;
To physicians few patients; to lawyers light fees;
But to printers, the shiners, as oft as you please;
In short, to conclude my nonsensical song
To all, what they wish, if they wish nothing wrong.

Pronounced larzhong

Hadim Oglou - Governor of the Dardanelles

Toussaint Louverture - leader of the Haitian Revolution

Charles Leclerc - French general and brother-in-law of Napoleon

The note at the top, "By Henry Livingston, says Aunt Gertie,"
is in the handwriting of William Sturges Thomas. Aunt Gertie was
Miss Gertrude Thomas, a granddaughter of Henry Livingston.


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