Elbridge Gerry Paige (1813-1859) was an editor of the Sunday Mercury of Manhattan and had a sort of moralistic humor column in that newspaper as “Dow, Jr.” beginning around 1840. The Lansingburgh Democrat reprinted a number of the “Dow, Jr.” pieces in part or in whole during 1845-1846 while Herman Melville and his family were living in the Village of Lansingburgh. Melville is believed by some scholars to have anonymously written a parody on Dow, Jr. in July 1847 for the humor magazine Yankee Doodle.


DOW, Jr., ON TIGHT LACING.

My dear girls—I like to see small waists as well as any body; and females with hour glass shapes always my fancy much better than your Dutch churn, soap-barrel, slab sided sort of figures; but I don’t want the credit given to corsets. To nature, and to nature alone belongs all the praise. In sooth, lovely girls, that portion of your fair persons which you are the most apt to torture is the most tender, and you can never meddle with it with impunity. It is of vital important that it should remain exactly as the God of nature has formed it. By squeezing your waists into an unnaturally small circumference, you compress your lives into the small compass of a few short years—you don’t give the bellowses in your bosoms a chance to blow and keep bright the flames of existence—the warm glow of health soon leaves your cheek, or flashes by fits and starts like a half-choked gas burner—your eyes in a short time cease to sparkle with joy and love—your roses of beauty quickly fade and fail—you look as dull and worn out as an old moon in the morning, and pale and sickly as sunlight strained through the window of a catholic cathedral. Now, my interesting young creatureses, what do you gain by all yourself squeezing. You improve in appearance, as you think one part of your persons, to the detriment of another—at a sacrifice of health and all those roseate charms that bloom upon your youthful features.
Lansingburgh Democrat. May 10, 1845: 1 col 5.
Lansingburgh Democrat. May 17, 1845: 2 col 5.

From the New York Sunday Mercury.
SHORT PATENT SERMON.
BY DOW, JR.

My text this morning is contained in these words::
Don’t tell me you ‘haven’t got time,’
That other things claim your attention;
There’s not the least reason or rhyme
In the wisest excuse you can mention;
Don’t tell me about ‘other fish,’
Your duty is done when you buy ‘em;
And you never will relish the disk,
Unless you’ve a woman to ‘fry ‘em.’
My hearers—I have no doubt that, after you have heard my discourse you will ask in your minds whether your preacher has taken unto himself a wife, and is now luxuriating in the tall clover of connubial bliss, that he preach-thus. Therefore I answer beforetime, No; but I have got measured for one, and expect to conjugate as soon as my somewhat diverged rays of affection can be brought a little more to a focus through the burning lens of love. I deem it the duty of all to get married—once in their life time, at least. It is but yielding obedience to the wise commands of nature. Every gander has his goose, and the birds all mate at a proper season. Who ever heard of an old gander going down to the grave gosling-less, unless he was prevented from fulfilling his destination by the arbitrary customs of artificial society? It is God who tells the brute creation to cohabit and propagate, without the fuss and flummery of a long and tedious courtship; and they implicitly obey, even to a wood-louse. The same God also tells you to marry, and do the best you can to be fruitful; but you don’t always do it.—You frame some paltry excuse or other—such as “I have other fish to fry,” “too busy to think of it now,” “circumstances won’t permit at present,” “I’ll think of it by and by,”’ &c.; and so you trudge on, through the wide world alone, from the meridian of manhood to the sunset of age, without having effected the object for which you were placed upon the earth, and of no more use than the fifth wheel to a coach, a moon in the day time, a lock without a key, or a saddle and no horse to ride.
Young man! if you have arrived at the right point in life for it, let every other consideration give way to that of getting married. Don’t think of doing anything else. Keep poking about among the rubbish of the world till you have stirred up a gem worth possessing, in the shape of a wife. Never think of delaying the matter; for you know delays, as well as wild boars, are dangerous. A good wife is the most constant and faithful companion you can possibly have by your side while performing the journey of life—a dog isn’t a touch to her. She is of more service, too, than you may at first imagine. She can “smooth your linen and your cares” for you—mend your trowsers, and perchance your manners—sweeten your sour moments as well as your tea and coffee for you—ruffle, perhaps, your shirt bosom, but not your temper; and, instead of sowing the seeds of sorrow in your path, she will sew buttons on your shirts, and plant happiness instead of harrow teeth in your bosom. Yes—and if you are too confoundedly lazy or too proud to do such work yourself, she will carry swill to the hogs, chop wood, and dig potatoes for dinner ; for her love for her husband is such that she will do anything to please him—except receive company in her every-day clothes. When a woman loves, she loves with a double-distilled devotedness; and when she hates, she hates on the high-pressure principle. Her love is as deep as the ocean, as strong as a hempen halter, and as immutable as the rock of ages! She won’t change it, except it is in a very strong fit of jealousy; and even then it lingers, as if loth to part, like evening twilight at the windows of the west. Get married by all means. All the excuses you can fish up against ‘doing the deed’ aren’t worth a spoonful of pigeon’s milk. Mark this—if, blest with health and employment, you are not able to support a wife, depend upon it, you are not capable of supporting yourself. Therefore, so much more need of annexation; for in union, as well as in an onion, there is strength. Get married, I repeat, young man! oncentrate your affections upon one object, and not distribute them crumb by crumb among a host of Susans, Sarahs, Marys, Elizas, Betseys, Peggies and Dorothies—allowing each scarcely enough to nibble at. Get married, and have somebody to cheer you up as you journey through this ‘lowly vale of tears’—somebody to scour up your dull, melancholy moments, and keep your whole life, and whatever linen you possess, in some sort of a Sunday-go-to-meeting order.
Young woman ! I need not tell you to look out for a husband; for I know that you are fixing contrivances to catch one, and are as naturally on the watch as a cat is for a mouse. But one word in your ear, if you please. Don’t bait your hook with an artificial fly of beauty: if you do, the chances are ten to one that you will catch a gudgeon—some silly fool of a fish that isn’t worth his weight in saw-dust. Array the inner lady with the beautiful garments of virtue, modesty, truth, morality, wisdom and unsophisticated love; and you will dispose of yourself quicker, and to much better advantage, than you would if you displayed all the gewgaws, flipperjigs, fol-de-rols, and fiddle-de-dees in the universe. Remember, it is an awful thing to live and die a self-manufactured old maid!
My hearers—divide off into couples, sexually, as soon as possible, if you would add considerable to your own happiness, and a little to posterity. Your days upon earth are but short at the longest, and they should be passed as righteously and pleasantly as the weather and circumstances will permit. Get married while you are young; and then, when the frosts of age shall fall and wither the flowers of youthful affection, the leaves of connubial love will still be green; and, perchance, a joyous offspring will surround and grace the parent tree, like ivy entwining and adorning the time-scathed oak. So mote it be! DOW, JR.
Lansingburgh Democrat. May 31, 1845: 1 cols 3-4.

GET MARRIED.
ADVICE BY DOW, JR.

Young man ! if you have arrived at the right point in life for it, let every other consideration give way to that of getting married. Don’t think of doing anything else. Keep poking about among the rubbish of the world till you have stirred up a gem worth possessing, in the shape of a wife. Never think of delaying the matter; for you know delays, as well as wild boars, are dangerous. A good wife is the most constant and faithful companion you can possibly have by your side while performing the journey of life—a dog isn’t a touch to her. She is of more service, too, than you may at first imagine. She can “smoothe your linen and your cares,” for you—mend your trowsers, and perchance your manners—sweeten your sour moments as well as your tea and coffee for you—ruffle, perhaps, you shirt bosom, but not your temper; and instead of sowing the seeds of sorrow in your path, she will sew buttons on your shirts, and plant happiness instead of harrow-teeth in your bosom. Yes—and if you are too confoundedly lazy, or too proud to do such work yourself, she will chop wood, and dig potatoes for your dinner; for her love for her husband is such that she will do anything to please him—except to receive company in her every-day clothes.
When a woman loves, she loves, with a double-distilled devotedness; and when she hates, she hates on the high pressure principle. Her love is as deep as the ocean, as strong as the hempen halter, and as immutable as the rock of ages. She won’t change it, except it is in a very strong fit of jealousy, and even then it lingers, as if loth to part, like evening twilight at the windows of the west. Get married by all means. All the excuses you can fish up against ‘doing the deed’ aren’t worth a spoonful of pigeon’s milk. Mark this—if blest with health and employment, you are not able to support a wife, depend upon it you are not capable of supporting yourself.—Therefore so much more need of annexation; for in union, as well as in an onion, there is strength. Get married, I repeat, young man! Concentrate your affections upon one object, and not distribute them crumb by crumb among a hoist of Sarahs, Janes, Marys, Susans, Olives, Elizas, Amelias, Augustas and Betsies—allowing each scarcely enough to nibble at. Get married and have somebody to cheer you through this ‘lowly vale of tears’—somebody to scour up your whole life, and whatever linen you possess, in some sort of Sunday-go-to-meeting order.
Young woman ! I need not tell you to look out for your husband, for I know that you are fixing contrivances to catch one, and are as naturally on the watch as a cat is for a mouse.—But one word in your ear, if you please. Don’t bait your hook with the artificial fly of beauty: if you do, the chances are ten to one that you catch a gudgeon—some silly fool of a fish that isn’t worth his weight in saw-dust. Array the inner lady with the beautiful garments of virtue, modesty, truth, and unsophisticated love; and you will dispose of yourself quicker, and to much better advantage than you would if you displayed all the gewgaws, folderols, and fiddle-de-dees, in the universe. Remember that it is an awful thing to live and die a self-manufactured old-maid.
My friend—get married while you are young; and then, when the frosts of age shall fall and wither the flowers of youthful affection, the leaves of connubial love will still be green; and, perchance, a joyous offspring will surround and grace the parent tree, like ivy entwining and adorning the time-scathed oak.
Lansingburgh Democrat. April 4, 1846: 1 cols 3-4.

Dow, Jr., says when a man becomes poor, and gets hard up, with big owl-eyed starvation staring at him, from a short distance, he will turn off and go devil-ward in spite of all pious pushings to the contrary
Love salts the cold porridge of poverty, says Dow Jr.
Lansingburgh Democrat. April 11, 1846: 2 col 5.

DOW, Jr. ON DIFFICULTIES.

“My friends and fellow countrymen awake arise for the Philistines are already upon you. Strike the tunjo ? blow the hugag! whistle the fife and chastise the drum. Your lives, your loaves and your liberties are in danger. Now while your glorious lamp of liberty is sputtering with the impotent spite of the foe, is the time for you to girdle on your armor—march to the battle field—there vindicate the national honor suck the sweets of revenge, settle all difficulties and return home so covered with glory that common eyes wont be able to behold you without a smoked glass. You are spiritualized into a war and you must go throught it like a dose of easter oil—the quicker the better.
Up, then and at them: strike’ not only for your own homes, wives and babies but for the halls of Montezuma. In those halls, my friends, are splendor unimagined and unimaginable; and in the multitude of mines that surround them are riches untold and untellable. Push on the war, now you are into it. These Mexican savages must be whipt into civilization; and if I were not necessarily exempt by law, I would be one to assist in the pleasurable task. They have no business to be brutes—no right to the blessings of barbarism whatever. They are reptiles in the path of Progressive Democracy—who with his big boots is bound to travel unhindered from Portland to Patagonia—and they must either crawl or be crushed.
Lansingburgh Democrat. July 11, 1846: 2 col 2.

PORTRAIT OF A HARD CASE.
BY DOW, JR.

Now you, that was cut out for a man, but was so villainously spoiled in making up, I’ll attend to your case:—For what end did you burst open the world’s door, and rush in uncalled, like a man chased by a mad bull? What good do you expect to bestow on your fellow men? Some useful invention, some heroic act, some great discovery or even one solitary remark? No! those that look for anything good from you, will be just as badly fooled as the man who caught a skunk and thought it was a kitten; or the woman who made greens of gunpowder tea. You know where the neatest, tightest pants, with the strongest straps can be got on “tick,” but you don’t know where the next useful lecture will be delivered. You know the color of a vest, but never studied the gorgeous hues of the rainbow, unless it was to wish for a piece to make a cravat of; you know how a fool feels in full dress, but you don’t know how a man feels when he eats the bread earned by the sweat of his brow; you know how a monkey looks, for you see one every day twenty times in your landlady’s looking glass, but you don’t know how a man feels after doing a good action; you don’t go where that sight is to be seen. Oh! you wasp-waisted, catfish-mouthed, baboon-shouldered, caliper-legged, goose-eyed, sheep-faced, be whiskered drone in the world’s bee-hive ! What are you good for? Nothing but to cheat your tailor, neatly to lisp by rote a line from some milk and cider poetaster, sentimentally talk love, eat oysters and act the fool shamefully. I say does your mother know you’re out? I am afraid you have no mother nor never had had!
You are of no more use in this world than a time-piece in a beaver dam, or a mattrass in a hog pen. You fill no larger space in this world’s eye than the toe nail of a musquito would in a market house, or a stump-tailed dog in all out doors; you are as little thought of as the fellow who knocked his grandmother’s last tooth down her throat; and as for your brains, ten thousand such could be preserved in a drop of brandy, and have as much sea room as a tad-pole in Lake Superior—and as for your ideas, you have but one, (and that is stamped on your leaden skull an inch deep,) that tailors and females were made to be gulled by you, and that you think decent people envy your appearance. Poor useless tobacco worm! You are a decidedly hard case!
Lansingburgh Democrat. August 15, 1846: 1 col 6.

Dow, Jr., says to his hearers, in a sermon on courage—‘You talk about having the pluck to pitch into a panther! Why you hav’at courage enough to cast an insinuation at a mosquito.—You are wanting in the very rudiments of courage. In nine times out of ten you lack the courage to tell a simple truth; you sneak round the corners, and hide yourself under the fence of falsehood. What is your courage?’
Lansingburgh Democrat. August 22, 1846: 1 col 6.

Short Patent Sermons. Rev. Ed. NY: Lawrence Labree, 1841. https://books.google.com/books?id=klFiAAAAcAAJ

Short Patent Sermons. Vol. 1. NY: Paige, Nichols & Krauth, 1845. https://books.google.com/books?id=4tEgAAAAMAAJ

Dow’s Patent Sermons. Philadelphia: T. B. Peterson and Brothers, 1857. https://books.google.com/books?id=u7tLAQAAMAAJ


A SHORT PATENT SERMON.
ACCORDING TO BLAIR, THE RHETORICIAN.
NO. C.C.C.C.L.XXX.V.III.
Text—”One wishy-washy, everlasting flood!”

Firstly, “Introduction or Exordium.” My hearers! allow me to introduce you to Dow Jr. of the Sunday Mercury; Dow Jr.! my hearers! Happy to make you acquainted!
Secondly, “the Division of the Subject.” The subject is divided into two parts. First—”wishy”; Second—”washy.” The “everlasting flood” will not be considered, as it is a consequence of the “wishy-washy!”
Thirdly, “Narration or Explication.”

There was a man—his name was Dow—

Who wrote a sermon rather clever!

‘Twas liked! but vot’s the consekwences now?

He’s going to write the like for ever!

Fourthly, “The Reasoning or Arguments.” A Sandwich Island lad who had been converted by the Missionaries of the A. B. O. C. O. F. M.—(the remainder of the alphabet is omitted, what is given means American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions,)—well! one day when this lad wrote a letter to his patrons, he ended each properly explained, opinional sentence, with the phrase “That idea’s done!” A Sandwich Islander knows but little, but he does know when an idea is used up. But a Manhattan Islander doesn’t know it—at least Dow Jr. doesn’t—therefore it is clear that a native of Owhyhee, (or Hawaii, as it is now-a-days spelt—fonography probably,) is a more clever man than the Manhattanese.
Fifthly, The Pathetic part.

Dow’s congregation always calmly sleeps,

The tedious sermons of their preacher under,

But after all, ’tis not a theme for wonder,

For, if a man such chronic pother keeps,

It is not strange that folks get used to thunder!

Sixthly, The Conclusion. Hence we conclude, with Hudribras, that when

“The pulpit-drum ecclesiastic

Is beat with fist, instead of a stick”—

this, although the public may be a sheep, there will be a time, when even sheepskin is worn out, and can’t bear “rapping on the head” any longer.
Yankee Doodle 2(40). July 10, 1847. 131.

Melville’s authorship of this mock sermon (in the first number of the magazine edited by Cornelius Mathews) is suggested by Doland Yannella in “Cornelius Mathews: Knickerbocker Satirist” (Ph.D. dissertation, Fordham University, 1971), p. 226, on the basis of the references to missionaries and a Sandwich Islander. There are other parallels as well […]
Hayford, Harrison, ed., et al. The Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces 1839-1860. Evanston, IL: Northwestern UP, 1987. 786.

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