From Yankee Doodle Magazine, 1847, p. 256. With heartfelt thanks to Steven Lomazow, M.D., who saves lost magazines as well as lives, (and shares!).
YANKEE DOODLE having at an immense expense engaged the services of Sir J. HERSCHEL, Prof. LEVERRIER, Dr. DICK. F. R. S. Dr. LARDNER and the Chief of the Star Police, intends publishing The Mythological History of the Heavens — in weekly numbers, commencing with the Planetary System and thence extending throughout all the Celestial Regions, Visible, Invisible and Conjectural ! ! —
MERCURY. — The early history of this individual would rather recommend him to the House of Refuge than to a respectable merchant in want of a trusty clerk. His mother MAIA, of the aristocratic family of the Pleiades, keeps him in consequence at a distance; and his father JUPITER moves in a different circle altogether. His organ of acquisitiveness induced him to adopt the name of MERCURY, which is derived from mercibus or merchandize. Although exclusively in the employ of the ROTHSCHILDS yet he is the peculiar Patron of Pettyfoggers, Pimps and Politicians; Regent of Rogues, Rowdies and Rail-road operators; and Lord Protector of Mock-auctioneers, Mesmerizers. M-m-rs of C-gr-ss, Fancy Stock Jobbers, Graduates of Auburn College and Students of Blackwell’s Island University. Like many of the same kidney, he is seldom seen until after dark, and even then makes himself scarce as soon as possible. Although he often gets round the sun, yet old SOL, being something of a burner himself, is rather too wide awake for him.
VENUS, who is the patentee of the first “diving bell,” by an unfortunate liaison with Corporal MARS (of the Light Guard) has been obliged to keep herself away from the world. She once was in possession of a certain girdle called the CESTUS, but as astronomers discover no belt around her now, it is supposed to be worn at present by Miss ——. PARIS made her a present of the apple of Discord — whence, “going to Paris” is often another appellation for discord in families. She is called Lucifer by the Latins and Phosphorus by the Greeks; but as lucifer matches are made from phosphorus it is all the same in Dutch, although she is rather unhandy and breaks as many matches as she makes. Her conduct is very exemplary, as she retires before any of the family, and is up first in the morning, which gives her complexion a peculiar brilliancy and clearness, — a hint which many young ladies would be wise to appreciate.
TERRA, from whom Professor WINDUST sagely remarks the word “Terrapin” is derived, is one of the most restless, busy, consequential, fussy, incomprehensible and capricious old ladies in the universe. Through the mismanagement of her other children, her three sons’ sons ALEXANDER, CESAR, and NAPOLEON in succession obtained possession of her largest estates; but in course of time they were recovered, and now the three boys rest in peace in her bosom. At another time one half of her children did not know the other half was in existence until CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS found them out. Lately one Dr. MILLER predicted her dissolution in a short time. He said a certain cutaneous eruption to which she is subject, would spread and be fatal; but the old lady went through it all and now is as lively, positive and bountiful as ever, although subject to a certain coldness of the extremities peculiar to old age.
Her bosom friend is a pragmatical old virgin, one Madam LUNA, as ancient and queer as herself — full of odd fancies, — a great hydropathist, — and monstrous weather wise, — inquisitive to that degree that she will stare right in peoples’ windows without blushing. Fond of gadding about o’ nights and playing hide and seek with old SOL ! — pretending she had a family when she had none, — and all such strange, whimsical, odd, rickety fancies — the effects of a disordered imagination peculiar to aged vestals — make up a character which sets good Madam TERRA with her old-fashioned common sense in strong relief beside her fantastical associate.
MARS. — Corporal MARS is half brother to General ZACHARY TAYLOR, and it is to be regretted that this is the best thing we can say of him. He is in fact the most quarrelsome, bullying, choleric son of a gun that you would meet in a long night. He used formerly to belong to the Light Guard; but as they have changed their uniform he takes it in high dudgeon, and keeps his old red coat on, and says he’ll be d——d if he will be a turncoat for C——n V——t, L——t St——n, or any one else. “Why don’t those fellows go help old ZACH ?” he roars. “If they are such good fighting men why don’t they come up to the scratch !” And so he keeps on a row-de-dow all day long, trotting about in furious passion with his red face, frightening the holiday soldiers almost out of their wits, and blazing away like a patriot — out of office.
THE ASTEROIDES, so called because they steer nearly the same road, are four in number. JUNO — the first — who is sometimes called ox-eyed JUNO, must not be confounded with ox-hide DIDO, whose lines of circumvallation surrounded Carthage. VESTA is the patroness of old maids and therefore abominated by all young ones of marriageable condition. From their habits of celibacy the Shakers are her peculiar people; but a married woman with the ague may be a shaker although no vestal. (Quere whether SHAKSPEARE is related to the Wagstaff family !) PALLAS is another of those unfortunates who is
Like the rest of “the four” she keeps herself invisible to all except a few who take a glass now and then. The owl is sacred to her, hence many of the refectories are called Palaces because they offer up “owls” from January to the ides of July. CERES is the Goddess of YANKEE DOODLE’S Territories, although a terror to tories on the other side of the Atlantic. The plow and harrow are her symbols, and therefore commentators argue that
“Harrow up thy soil !”
instead of soul is the true meaning of the ghost in HAMLET — a classical reason why SHAKSPEARE’S works are published in series. The ASTEROIDES were supposed at one time to live together; but as JUNO is PALLAS’S step-mother and CERES and VESTA her half-aunts, it is obvious that such a thing never did and will never exist.
JUPITER has not been inaptly denominated the Patroon of the solar system — partly because he had a row with those anti-renters, the Titans, — and partly because he drives his own “four in hand !” BRIAREUS was formerly his chief piano-player, but he grew so dissipated at last that JUPITER laid him under Mount Etna to keep him quiet, and now he occasionally performs a little himself on the magnetic telegraph, a three-stringed instrument like the banjo. The worst part of his character is his infidelity to his wife, and the best thing he ever did was to make YANKEE DOODLE a present of his pet eagle.
SATURN. — This old gemmen, who is one of the anthropophagi, ruined himself by his unfortunate penchant for “Spring Deities.” Although JUPITER his son was as fine a baby as you would wish to put knife and fork into, yet the old fellow in his dotage was so blind that he eat a stone instead, whence the expression stone-blind is derived. He is a kind of BEN CAUNT among the Upper Ten Thousand, wears the champion’s belt and always has six or seven of “the fancy” around him.
He introduced the golden age in Italy, but his office has been superceded by the steamers who are introducing the golden age here. The Saturnalia is a festival sacred to him, usually held about the middle of December, and continues to be celebrated even now, if there is snow on the ground.
URANUS, well known to the Star-Police by his aliases “GEORGE SIDUS” and “HERSCHEL,” is the husband of TERRA and father to old SATURN. He secluded himself from the world because he received a blow with a scythe from his son when they were mowing one hot summer’s day in the fields of Heaven. Saturn’s coup de soleil is just like such an undutiful scamp who, to speak ornithologically, is neither a Stork nor a Pelican. Certain perturbations of old SAT. whenever he came to a peculiar quarter aroused the suspicions of that indefatigable policeman W. HERSCHEL, who at last discovered his hiding place in “1783,” since then he has been spotted by the whole corps. Six of his children are with him, but he is quite alienated from his wife, and the separation is complete.
NEPTUNE is another bo-peep member of the Planet family, who was lately discovered by Capt. LEVERRIER. He is also called JANUS, but it is doubtful whether he is a two-faced politician like his name-sake. The gates of JANUS’S temple have been closed until the breaking out of the war in Mexico, so that it is possible he may have escaped. It is supposed that he is surrounded by satellites, as they are usually found with such graceless young prodigals just making a noise in the world.
The SUN is the old Saxon Deity from whom Soen-daeg or Sunday is derived, but he is in no wise related to the Sunday Mercury. He is also called Boal or Bel by the Chaldeans, and when Phaeton had the drag-on he almost set the world on fire and made a universal Bel-fry — and Moloch by the Canaanites because he unlocks the gates of morn. He is very domestic, having never traveled more than two hundred miles from home, and even then it is because he is drawn out of his path by VENUS’S attractions or the influence of some of the rest of the family.
This piece was an anonymous contribution by Cozzens, but he listed it as his work in a short account of his life and work, also on this site, in his Autobiographic Sketch. The magazine, Yankee Doodle, thrived briefly and copies of it are exceedingly rare. The only copy available of this particular year, that I know of, is owned by Steven Lomazow, M.D. He gives its history on his blog: Magazine History: A Collector’s Blog.
According to Dr. Lomazow, it appears that this was the only article completed for the series.