Which am de Mightiest, De Pen or De Sword?
The "Colored Debating Society" of Mount Vernon, Ohio,
had some very interesting meetings. The object of the argument
on a particular evening was the settlement, at once and
forever, of the question.
Mr. Larkins said about as follows: "Mr. Chaarman,
what's de use ob a swoard unless you's gwyne
to waar? Who's hyar dat's gwyne to waar? I isn't,
Mr. Morehouse isn't, Mrs. Morehouse isn't, Mr.
Newsome isn't; I'll bet no feller wot speaks on the
swoard side is any ideer ob gwyne to waar. Den,
what's de use ob de swoard? I don't tink dar's
much show for argument in de matter."
Mr. Lewman said: "What's de use ob de pen
'less you knows how to write? How's dat? Dat's
what I wants to know. Look at de chillun ob
Isr'l—wasn't but one man in de whole crowd gwine up
from Egyp' to de Promis' Lan' cood write, an' he
didn't write much. [A voice in the audience, "Who
wrote de ten comman'ments, anyhow, you bet."
Cheers from the pen side.] Wrote 'em? wrote 'em?
Not much; guess not; not on stone, honey. Might
p'r'aps cut 'em wid a chisel. Broke 'em all, anyhow,
'fore he got down de hill. Den when he cut a
new set, de chillun ob Isr'l broke 'em all again. Say
he did write 'em, what good was it? So his pen no
'count nohow. No, saar. De swoard's what fotched
'em into de Promis' Lan', saar. Why, saar, it's
ridiculous. Tink, saar, ob David a-cuttin' off
Goliah's head wid a pen, saar! De ideer's altogedder
too 'posterous, saar. De swoard, saar, de
swoard mus' win de argument, saar."
Dr. Crane said: "I tink Mr. Lewman a leetle too
fas'. He's a-speakin' ob de times in de dim pas',
when de mind ob man was crude, an' de han' ob man
was in de ruff state, an' not tone down to de refinement
ob cibilized times. Dey wasn't educated up to
de use ob de pen. Deir han's was only fit for de ruff
use ob de swoard. Now, as de modern poet says,
our swoards rust in deir cubbards, an' peas, sweet
peas, cover de lan'. An' what has wrot all dis
change? De pen. Do I take a swoard now to get
me a peck ob sweet taters, a pair ob chickens, a pair
ob shoes? No, saar. I jess take my pen an' write
an order for 'em. Do I want money? I don't git it
by de edge ob de swoard; I writes a check. I want
a suit ob clothes, for instance—a stroke ob de pen,
de mighty pen, de clothes is on de way. I'se done."
Mr. Newsome said: "Wid all due 'spect to de
learned gemman dat's jus' spoke, we mus' all agree
dat for smoovin' tings off an' a-levelin' tings down,
dere's notting equals de swoard."
Mr. Hunnicut said: "I agrees entirely wid Mr.
Newsome; an' in answer to what Dr. Crane says, I
would jess ask what's de use ob drawin' a check unless
you's got de money in de bank, or a-drawin' de
order on de store unless de store truss you? S'pose
de store do truss, ain't it easier to sen' a boy as to
write a order? If you got no boy handy, telegraf.
No use for a pen—not a bit. Who ebber heard of
Mr. Hill's pen? Nobody, saar. But his swoard,
saar—de swoard ob ole Bunker Hill, saar—is known
to ebbery chile in de lan'. If it hadden been for de
swoard ob ole Bunker Hill, saar, whaar'd we niggers
be to-night, saar? whaar, saar? Not hyar, saar.
In Georgia, saar, or wuss, saar. No cullud man,
saar, should ebber go back, saar, on de swoard,
Mr. Hunnicut's remarks seemed to carry a good
deal of weight with the audience. After speeches by
a number of others, the subject was handed over to
the "committee," who carried it out and "sot on
it." In due time they returned with the followin'
"De committee decide dat de swoard has de most
pints an' de best backin', an' dat de pen is de most
beneficial, an' dat de whole ting is about a stan'-off."