New England Humorists
New England Magazine
This Joseph C. Lincoln excerpt is on pages 683-4.
If humor be the salt of life, the tribe of Sunny Jim should spawn on Cape Cod as thick as cranberries. Your true humorist doesn't write—often doesn't read even. His quaint, pungent, racy stories are a part of his personal experience, his picturesque forms of delivery are born to him—not acquired. The plantation black is more humorist than the stage minstrel. But along comes a phonographic reporter with a sense of the ridiculous— writes out the folk tales and fame is focused on him. Cape Cod is an incubator of the genuine humorist.
It was down near the funny bone of the Cape that Joseph C. Lincoln was bom—the same year that his father died. Cape Cod boys have the name of leaping from their mother's lap into the shrouds of a fishing smack. But that is as absurd as the notion that the girls are web-footed or have fin keels. At the age of thirteen, that is in 1883, Joe Lincoln found life on the Cape a trifle too slow for him and moved to Chelsea, and by way of preserving the flavor of his native dunes he went to work in a Boston salt house. Next he was bookkeeping in Somerville—then he was stricken with art, studied for a spell with Hy Sandham and soon offered caricatures for sale with jingle attachment; but the advertising public concluded that the verses were the lesser of the two evils and, acting upon this hint, Lincoln was soon writing broad grins for the "L.A. W. Bulletin," aided and abetted by Nixon Waterman. All the old yarns of his seafaring ancestry were harnessed into verse and scattered right and left He has handled the old codgers of his boyhood acquaintance with a discretion that has, so far I believe, subjected him to none of the litigation that was the lot of the author of "Cape Cod Folks."
He married Florence E. Sargent of Chelsea in 1897 and went to New York in 1898. He now lives in Hackensack.
His novels are "Partners of the Tide" and "Cap'n Eri," of which the fun-suggesting plot is three bachelor sea captains who advertise for a housekeeper and then draw lots to see which shall marry her.
Of his verses "The Cod-Fisher" is of heroic inspiration:
"Yet well he knows—where'er it be,
On low Cape Cod or bluff Cape Ann—
With straining eyes that search the sea
A watching woman waits her man:
He knows it and his love is deep,
But work is work and bread is bread,
And though men drown and women weep
The hungry thousands must be fed.
"To some the gain, to some the loss,
To each his chance, the game with Fate:
For men must die that men must live—
Dear Lord, be kind to those who wait."
No collection of American humorist masterpieces is complete without "The Village Oracle":
"Old Dan'l Hanks he says this town
Is jest the best on earth;
He says there ain't one, up nor down,
That's got one half her worth;
He says there ain't no other state
That's good as oum, nor near;
And all the folks that's good and great
Is settled right round here.
"Says I, 'D'jer ever travel, Dan?'
'You bet I ain't,' says he;
'I tell you what, the place I've got
Is good enough fer me.'
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"Some fellers reckon, more or less,
Before they speak their mind,
And sometimes calkerlate or guess,—
But them ain't Dan'ls kind.
The Lord knows all things, great or small,
With doubt he's never vexed.
He, in his wisdom, knows it all,—
But Dan'l Hanks conies next.
"Says I, 'How d'yer know you're right?'
'How do I know?' says he;
'Wall, now, I vum, I know, by gum,
I'm right because I be.'"
Also contains photograph of "Joe Lincoln" on page 681
Thanks to Richard Curry for finding and transcribing this.