All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Master Satirist Seba Smith

Jim Brunelle writes today of Seba Smith of Buckfield—a 19th-century satirist who gained nationwide fame for his pseudonymous letters from Portland, then the state capital.
He invented a fictitious character, Jack Downing, a rustic traveling salesman who wandered into Portland peddling ax handles.

One day when business proved slow, he stopped by the Legislature and began writing his observations in the form of comic letters to relatives back home in the equally fictitious Downingville, Maine. Somehow these "letters" found their way into the columns of the Portland Courier.

The Downing character set the mold for nearly two centuries' worth of political satirists to follow. [Link]
Thanks to Google, you can read online Smith's Letters of Jack Downing, Way Down East: Or, Portraitures of Yankee Life, and My Thirty Years Out of the Senate.

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