The Charlotte News
SUNDAY, JUNE 12, 1938
Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion;
Or Ride for A Learned Man
By W. J. Eulenspiegel
As W. J. Eulenspiegel, Cash attempted one of his rare experiments at humor as he parodied a novel of the Agrarian school, portraying himself as "Mr. Casshe, the villain of the piece." As W. J. Eulenspiegel he was the male counterpart of Tillie Eulenspiegel, a pseudonym adopted by his fellow book-page contributor Mary Ross Northrop. Mary and Jack had met for the first time only a month before, but already he had announced to her that they would be married.
from W.J. Cash: Southern Prophet by Joseph L. Morrison
(This article appeared in the Reader section of Prophet.)
Site ed. note: For those too young to remember the 1884 presidential contest between Grover Cleveland and James G. Blaine, the phrase "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion" is derivative thereof, a Blaine supporter having made the charge in a speech that the Democratic party was the party of the enumerated three items. The charge so infuriated Roman Catholics in the State of New York that it is said to have swung the vote, and, consequently, the election, to the Democrat, Cleveland. Cleveland, incidentally, was the "clean-government" candidate whereas Blaine was backed by the notoriously corrupt Tammany Hall machine in New York. This is the election also responsible for the term "mugwumps", the reform Republicans who bolted the corruption of their party to vote for the Democrat. And, as lately pointed out in the press, it is also the election where Grover Cleveland was forced to admit illicit paternity, but won anyhow, the broad mass of the public having apparently realized by then in the history of the Republic that Puritanism, such as that practiced in Seventeenth century Massachusetts, only breeds such things as witch trials and finger-pointing at those whom the Nice-Nellies and Simon-pures virulently despise for getting a better position in the spelling bee, or something of that order. (Cf. The Complete Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, by Ashley Allen Royce, Pseudonymical Press Publishers, Ltd., London and Des Moines, (France), 1850; see also, Wherefore art Thou: Fact or Fiction? by Ringo K. Galaxy, Inquisitor Publications & Other Ill-Advised Curiosities, Inc., (and in many family newspapers), 1998, especially the sections (and surrounding sections) entitled, "I Wanna Be Your Man" and "Boys".)
Mr. John Jacob Neanderthal has written a book and seems to think he has discovered something. Well, he should've ast me. I knew about it all the time.
Mr. Neanderthal is admittedly the first citizen of North Stumptown Landing, South Carolina, where the brackish waters of the Pee Dee basin daily back up to his cabin door.
Tidewater literature inevitably carries a burden of mould and mildew, but despite the hoary precept Mr. Neanderthal so delightedly presents to an indifferent world, some of the salt tang of the marshes has crept into his book, "The Conflict of Present Day Atavistic Agrarianism With the NeoSapphic Outlook of Populist Survivors in Ante-Bellum Areas of the Deep South."
The great truism this cape-jessamine Jason seems to regard as his personal Golden Fleece snatched from the slavering jaws of limbo by his own strong-arm perception, is simply thisthat young love and mellow moonlight will conquer all in spite of hell, high water, and the miasmic magnolia-cum-friedcatfish economy that has suffocated the South more than half a century. Now did you ever?
Well, anyway, Sally Lou, the girl-wife, and Jim John, the boy-husband, are presented with a skill which proves Mr. Neanderthal has something on the ball. We see Sally Lou in all her stark languescence, the petal soft skin, the great dreamy eyes, and we feel a poignant ache in our hearts at those calluses this pearl among fishwives got from standing around barefooted on hot wharves, waiting for the shrimp boats to come in.
It was there on the dock that Sally Lou first met Mr. Casshe, the villain of the piece, a college man if there ever was one. He wore a crew sweater bearing the varsity letter he had won for debating. Sally Lou hadn't much book learning and it was hard for her to make out what the letters were, but she thought they were I.C.S. He dealt in shrimp futures.
And now here comes the exciting part. Really, I like to died along about here. I know it's silly of me and I always swear I'll never do it again, but I turned over to the back of the book to see how it was going to end, it got so good.
Well, it seems that Jim John was the best shrimp fisher at the Landing. He would go out into the dawn empty-handed, and come back into the sunset with such a catch he had to have pockets sewed onto the sails to take care of the overflow. It was awful when he had to take a reef, because a lot of mad shrimp would fall down on him and bite him, but he stood it for the sake of the little lady at home.
But soon he began to notice something amiss. To make a long story short (and why not), Casshe had been telling Sally Lou that the sea would get Jim John eventually, and if she wanted to keep him for herself she'd better take him upstate and go back to the land. Casshe had told her about the benevolent Agrarian Group, formed way off there in Nashville for the purpose of getting everybody back to the land, and who (whom?) had for years been chartering relief trains to bring inland thousands of shanty-boaters, barge dwellers, showboat companies, river gamblers, and others who made their living upon the treacherous deeps.
"Honey, we got to git us a plow instid o' this hyere trawler," Sally Lou moaned. And I moaned right along with her, because I knew all along that what this Casshe wanted was Jim John's boat, which he had discovered was coated with some stuff Jim John had invented to attract shrimp, and that he didn't give an old broken singletree whether the two lovers got back to the land or not. All he wanted was to insure the futures of a lot of steady shrimp.
Now, when I review a book I never give away the plot, so let's just say that everything comes out all right in the end. You've had enough to get the idea.
But have you got it?
Well, nobody can say I'm not paternal to my little readers, so here it is.
The obvious conclusion to be drawn from what some people may consider this kindergarten exposition on an old, old theory, is that the Agrarian crowd are urging all these people to go back to the land so they can take over all marine industry for themselves. And furthermore, all other industry as well. When the entire industrial division of mankind has taken to farming, the Agrarians will get the business and finance gravy. Unless, as I suspect, they are but tools in the hire of Wall Street! OrMoscow? Who knowsperhaps both.
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