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Ethiop [William J. Wilson] to Frederick Douglass, February 1854



MY DEAR DOUGLASS:— There is nothing
new just now about the Heights. We Brook-
lynites are as quiet as flies upon a ceiling in
winter time; Gothamites ditto; but as a
compensation for our supineness, your valu-
able journal and the other Aliened, come reg-
ularly to hand with a few exceptions. By
the way, let me tell you just here what seems
to me a good joke; capital, if correct in all
its parts.

We Gothamites are weekly served up with
new music set to old songs, which, if not
sublime and inspiring, certainly novel both
in style and in the process of performance.
Ethiop, Observer, Communipaw, and some
others, sang these same songs, with the ex-
ception of the one entitled "Who is Specta-
tor," some two years ago; and as it was then
thought, in every variety of time and tune,
with not only Gotham, but the country for
their audience; but this young trio, fresh
and joyous, like children sporting in all the
simplicity of innocence upon the bosom of
nature, elicits more than our smile—really
our admiration.

To be convinced of the novelty of the
performance, you have only to imagine the
vast distance between performers composing
this little band. The grand sounding board,
the Aliened American. Spectator No. 1,
like a Lilliputian Collossus, stands with one
foot upon the Erie Lake shore, and the other
extending eastward, and resting on what it
was said the tortoise did when he upheld the
world, and with wand in hand in true Julian
style, gracefully motions. Spectator Nos. 2,
3, 4, &c., &c., down in Gotham, forming a
beautiful counterpart, at a moment's warn-
ing, tune up, and then oh:

"What fairly-like music steals over the plains."

But "music, heavenly maid, was young;" let
us therefore deal gently and explain our-
selves by a more becoming figure.


Spectator Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, &c., &c., caterers
all. Nos. 2, 3, 4, &c., &c., like good boys,
tuck up their sleeves, put on their little bib-
aprons, assort the cabbage, turnips, potatoes,
and squash, (for it is a vegetenarian feast,)
make the fire, put the pot to boiling; and
Spectator No. 1, at the lake shore, (some
where in Ohio, near the town of C——, I
think,) decorates, adorns and dishes up the
repast to which we are thus treated. This
is all very well—nay, 'tis a nice, spicy repast,
so long as they stick to simple and well-
known ingredients; but if in their innocence
they let drop in their cauldron, such bits as
"Ethiop pledges to write upon Rochester
Conventions," "Frederick Douglass' brazen
face and impudence," "Mr. Day's unassum-
ing position, and non-abolition sentiments,"
"State Convention matters," "Communi-
paw's toes," &c., &c.; they may spoil their
broth. I therefore beg these young inno-
cents will be careful not to do this, lest we be
denied this weekly innocent little
repast.—Really Mr. Day should look to the matter.—By the way, where is Mr. Day? A lady
speaking of him the other day—and you
must know he is a great favorite among
them—said, that he having called so be-
seechingly upon the ladies to correspond,
that now their contributions had completely
enveloped him; he seldom appearing thro'
the columns of the dear Aliened, much, of
course, to the regret of the ladies. Well,
'tis done by delicate lady-fingers; and yet
suspicion says, Fanny Homewood and our
own home Maria are dressed in something
more than full bloomer costume—aye, to the
gloves, hat and boots. If Maria, however,
comes over to the Heights, we shall see.

Let the fools, knaves and scoundrels read
Seward's speech on the Nebraska bill—digest
it, and then make what they can of it. Sen-
sible and honest men have already done so.

The best thing out just at this moment,
here, is the collision between John Mitchel,
and Bennett, of the Herald. The devil is
divided against himself. The Scot and the
Hibernian have grappled each other by the
throat. It will be a nice fight; but it has
commenced too soon, rather, for the zest of
enjoyment. Doubtless, Bennett brought poor
John into all his troubles. You know he is
an Irishman, and bulls and blunders are his
lawful inheritance. The wily Scot has taken
advantage of this for his own purposes.

Efforts are being made in Brooklyn by
some gentlemen of color to run a line of
stages. Some fears are entertained that it
will be the means of excluding wholly color-
ed persons form the stages now being run by
white men.

Dr. T. Joiner White has delivered two in-
teresting and instructive lectures to fashion-
able and appreciative Brooklyn
audiences.—Brooklyn and Williamsburgh have been wed-
ded, and they now are one, and is destined
soon to take first rank on the continent—the
jealousies and hindrances notwithstanding,
Rev. Dr. Cox, of [Rusherban?] , near Brooklyn,
and of compromise notoriety, is about to
leave Brooklyn. Henry Ward Beecher, as
you know, preaches here; and it is hard for
a man to kick against the pricks, though
robed in the sacred habiliments of the altar.

Yours truly,



Ethiop (William J. Wilson)


February 1854


Ethiop [William J. Wilson] to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: Frederick DouglassP, 17 March 1854. Comments on the William H. Day’s Cleveland newspaper, the Aliened American; mentions a feud between John Mitchel and the New York Herald’s James Gordon Bennett.


This document was calendared in the published volume and has not been published in full before.


Frederick Douglass' Paper (Rochester, N.Y.) 1851-18??



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