The Project Gutenberg EBook of Punchinello, Volume 2, No. 37, December 10, 1870, by Various This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: Punchinello, Volume 2, No. 37, December 10, 1870 Author: Various Release Date: December 30, 2003 [EBook #10544] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK PUNCHINELLO 37 *** Produced by Cornell University, Joshua Hutchinson, Steve Schulze and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
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THE HALF-WAY HOUSE
he first person to discover that ANN BRUMMET had left the house, was Mrs. LADLE, Now, ever since the Hon. MICHAEL had asked ANN to go to the circus, Mrs. LADLE had hated her. But when he took ANN to the Agricultural Fair, and bought her a tin-type album and a box of initial note-paper, Mrs. LADLE was simply raving. Whether she herself was viewing the Hon. MICHAEL with an eye matrimonial, and was jealous of ANN, must remain an open question. At any rate, she was the first to start the scandal about ANN and JEFFRY, and lost no time in conveying it to the ears of the Hon. MICHAEL, with profuse embellishments. At the croquet party the Hon. MICHAEL had been particularly sweet on ANN, his ardor finding vent in such demonstrations as throwing kisses at her slyly, holding up printed lozenges for her inspection, or tossing sticks at her and dodging behind a tree. And when Mrs. LADLE went to ANN'S room next day, for a good square scold, she found her out.
Now Mrs. LADLE was a mother-in-law, and consequently a pretty old fowl in ferreting out things of this sort. She determined to discover the why and wherefore of ANN'S departure. If she could confront the Hon. MICHAEL with proofs of ANN'S indiscretion, it would be the loudest kind of feather in her cap.
She examined everybody in the house, and everybody that went by the house, but without the smallest result. She was out in the front yard waiting for a fresh victim, when she saw HERSEY DEATHBURY coming up the road. She signed to her to come in.
She came in.
HERSEY DEATHBURY was an extraordinary woman. A woman of genius, sir. What if her make-up was limited? What if, when she was born, nature was economizing, and gave her only one eye, and she was lame and hump-backed, and hadn't got any eyebrows and wore a wig; what of that? It's to her credit, I say. You saw her just as she was. No airs there. And in this lay the great charm of H. DEATHBURY'S character. Looking at her closely, you would see a fixed and stony eye and a chronic scowl, and you would say: "Disposition a little morose; some man has soured on her." Looking at her more closely, you would see under her right arm a common blackboard, such as is used in schools, and over her shoulder a canvas bag containing lumps of chalk, and you would say: "A little eccentric; likes to write on the blackboard instead of talking. Would make a nice wife. Looks, on the whole, like a country schoolma'am, whom the boys have stoned out of town, with the fixtures of the school-house tied to her." But she has talents. What is she, an authoress? "Yes, she is." But, like other authoresses, she isn't appreciated, and has returned to her legitimate occupation, the Wash-Tub; but still doth she itch for fame, and so, between times, she writes verbose essays on Female Suffrage, composed during the process known as "wringing." And when there's a Woman's Rights Convention in that locality, she sits on the platform, and applauds all the Red-Hot Resolutions with that trenchant female weapon, the umbrella, in one hand, and an antediluvian reticule the other. In the words of the Hon. MICHAEL: "She is not only a leading Reformer, sir, but a great Platformer." And Mrs. LADLE will tell you that, as a washer, she is superb. She "does up things" in a manner simply celestial.
Mrs. LADLE told her first to shut the door.
"Have you seen ANN BRUMMET to-day?" she said.
"Where?" was the eager inquiry.
HERSEY DEATHBURY placed her blackboard against the wall, unslung her chalk, and wrote in very large letters:—
"I C hur a-Goin on The rode 2 forneys Kragg."
"Ah!" ejaculated Mrs. LADLE joyfully, "traced at last." And she ran to tell the Hon. MICHAEL all about it.
* * *
The Half-Way House at Forney's Crag was a hoary-headed old vagabond of a house, that had passed the heyday of its youth long before that great encyclopaedia, the oldest inhabitant, emitted his first infantile squawk. Each successive season caused it to lean a little more and the most casual observer must perceive that it couldn't by any possibility become much leaner without pining entirely away.
Nevertheless, it had been the only hotel that Spunkville could boast, all within a short period of this writing. Like most Western hotels, it had been ably supported by a large floating population, known as "New York Drummers," and many a time had its old walls re-echoed with their guileless hilarity and moral tales; and, if the ancient and time-honored spittoon in the bar-room could speak, it could relate wonderful stories concerning the Sample Gentry; relating, perhaps, to a Spunkville merchant, who, having retreated precipitately down his cellar stairs several tunes during the day, to avoid "them confounded drummers, with their everlasting samples," was, while plodding his lonely way homeward, seized upon by these commercial freebooters, conveyed forthwith to the Half-Way House, and there deluged with such a perfect torrent of brow-beating eloquence as to reduce him to an imbecile state, in which condition he would willingly order large bills of goods, a custom still somewhat in vogue, and known as "commanding trade."
At other times, it was refreshing to see a drummer emerge from a week's carousal, take a drink of plain soda, and write a long letter to his employers concerning the extreme dulness of trade.
But since the new hotel had been built the Half-Way House had waned, and its quiet was only invaded by an occasional straggling traveller or a runaway couple, and its walls resounded with nothing more clamorous than the orgies of a Sunday-school picnic.
It is, however, with the Ladies' Parlor only (that wretched abode of female discomfort in all country hotels) that we have to do.
The furniture of the room consisted of the articles usually found in a boudoir of this kind, to wit: a straight-backed sofa, much worn; the inevitable and horrid straw carpeting; that old Satanic piano, that never was in tune; an antique and rheumatic table, and three wheezy old chairs. The only present attempts at ornament were two in number. The first was a large engraving of the Presidents of the United States, which had formerly done duty in the bar-room, where the villagers were wont to gaze upon it in an awe-struck manner, being impressed with a vague idea that it was CHRISTY'S Minstrels. The second was a living statue, none other than ANN BRUMMET waiting for JEFFRY MAULBOY.
"Half-past three, and not come yet," said she. "Look out, JEFFRY MAULBOY, for if you do go back on me"----
She paused, for she saw a man coming towards the house.
"Well, if that ain't ARCHIBALD BLINKSOP," she added, "I'm regularly sold. What can he want here?"
Yes, it was ARCHIBALD sure enough, biting his finger-nails and breathing very short, while he cast furtive glances at the windows.
He went slowly up the steps and into the entry just as Mrs. BACKUP, the landlady of the House, came out of her sitting-room.
Now, Mrs. BACKUP was one of your eminently respectable females, who are always loaded to the muzzle with Beautiful Moral Essays, which they try to cram down everybody's throat, but never practise themselves. She formerly kept a boarding-house in the city, where, at table regularly after soup, she would regale those present with long dissertations on the shocking immorality of the present day, varying the monotony, perhaps, by allusions to the boarders who had just left. "Mr. SIMPSON was a pleasant-spoken young man as I want to see, and as good as the bank, but I'm afraid he was agettin' dissipated;" or, "Mr. FIELDING was quiet and mannerly, and never found fault with his vittles, but he had one DREADful habit;" and then she would sigh heavily. And when little Miss PINKHAM, who occupied the second floor back (and who, being a schoolma'am, was naturally debarred from the other sex), indulged in the smallest possible flirtation with the good-looking young man opposite, Mrs. BACKUP'S sharp eye not only saw her, but Mrs. BACKUP'S sharp tongue took occasion to berate her severely on a Sunday morning (for then the boarders are all in), at the top of the first landing (for then the boarders could all hear her). "I am saprised, Miss PINKHAM. Why, when I see that young man asittin' at his winder, and a blowin' beans. Yes, a blowin' beans, Miss PINKHAM, through a horrible tin pop-gun at your'n, and a winkin' vicious, and you a enjoyin' on it, Miss PINKHAM, I sot down; yes, I sot right down, and I shuddered. 'Sich doin's in my house,' says I, 'I am totilly congealed.'" When all the time, mind you, the virtuous Mrs. BACKUP was a woman who would bear any amount of watching, having already caused three husbands to frantically emigrate to parts unknown.
Seeing that ARCHIBALD hesitated, she said:—
"Well, young man, what's wanted?"
"I—I—want to see ANN BRUMMET," said ARCHIBALD.
"Oh, you do, do you?" rejoined Mrs. BACKUP, regally; "and who, may I ask, is ANN BRUMMET?"
"A young lady that I was—a—to meet here," replied ARCHIBALD, timidly.
Mrs. BACKUP immediately organized a virtuous tableau, and glared at him majestically.
"A young lady you was to meet here. In-deed. And do you think, young man, that my house is a place where young chaps can go a-roystorin' and a-gallivinatin' about, and a meetin' young women?"
"But I don't want to go oysterin'," said ARCHIBALD, "and I don't know how to galvinate. I only want to tell her something."
"Oh, to tell her something, is it? Well, I'd have no objections, young man, if you said she was your wife. Then you'd have a right, but not now, for my cha-racter is precious to me, young man."
"But she ain't my wife," said ARCHIBALD; "I only—kind of know her, you see."
"Drat the man," said Mrs. BACKUP to herself; "he's a born fool that can't take a hint like that. TEDDY!" she cried to a seedy-looking, pimply man, who was sucking a forlorn-looking pipe on the back-door step, "you're wanted." She whispered a few words in his ear, and went up-stairs.
TEDDY MCSLUSH was the General Utility man of the Half-Way House. Born down East, of an Irish father and Scotch mother, he was eminently calculated to live by his wits. His natural talents were numerous and sparkling. He could tell more lies without notes than any man in the State, or make a beautiful prayer, all in the way of business. When a runaway couple were married at the Half-Way House, he would not only give the bride away in a voice broken by emotion, but he would bless the bridegroom with tears in his eyes, and he would do all this at the lowest market price. And every Sunday he dressed in a black suit and sung in the choir, and patted the little children on the head, and was generally respected.
He approached ARCHIBALD, and poked him in the ribs, facetiously.
"Ah!" he ejaculated; "and it's a cryin' shame, so it is, that a fine lad like yerself should be took with sich a complaint. It's modeshty what ails ye, man. And wasn't it Mester JOHN SHAKESPEER himself, him as writ the illegant versis, Lord luv his ashis, as says to me only jist afore his breath soured on him, 'TEDDY,' says he, wid much feelin', 'TEDDY, modeshty is a fine thing in a woman,' says he, 'but it's death to a man. Promise me now,' says he, 'for I feel as this clay is a coolin' fast—promise me, TEDDY, as you'll never hev nothink to do with it—no, not never, my boy.' I promised him, and Hevins knows as I've kep' my word. But, Lord alive, I'm a keepin' you all the time from yer own dear wife, as is a dyin' to see you—and a sweet dear it is."
He ushered ARCHIBALD into the Ladies' Parlor, closed the door, and applied his ear to the key-hole, with an air of the most respectful attention.
According to TEDDY'S way of thinking, ANN was not hankering for ARCHIBALD'S society.
"What do you want here?" said she, sharply.
"Oh, don't speak cross to me, Miss BRUMMET," said he, looking timidly around. Then he put his finger on his lip, and shook his head energetically.
"I know all about it, you see," said he; "JEFF told me. Oh my! wasn't I struck up, though? But I'll never tell. He couldn't come, you see. His mother sent for him, and----"
"You lie," she broke in fiercely; "it's a put up job between you two. But it won't do; do you hear? It won't do."
"Oh, don't look at me that way," said ARCHIBALD, backing toward the door; "I want to go home."
"I'd like to see you go home," she replied, placing her back against the door. "You must think I'm a fool, to let you off as easy as that. You've got to sit up with me this evening, anyhow."
"But what would folks say?" stammered ARCHIBALD. "Oh, think of my reputation, Miss BRUMMET, and let me go."
"Your reputation!" she sneered. "Humbug! Men don't have any reputation, except when they steal a woman's. Come," she added, in a more conciliatory tone, "we'll have some supper, and then we'll have a game of euchre."
"Euchre! Oh, don't ask me to play euchre," said he; "I'm so mixed up, Miss BRUMMET, I couldn't tell the King of Ten-spots from the Ace of Jacks. Oh, won't BELINDA grab hold of my hair when she hears of this!"
"Yes, she'll pull it till she makes her ARCHIE-bald," said ANN, laughing.
ARCHIBALD sat down, and looked at her in a supplicating manner.
"I'll do anything you say," said he, "if you please won't get off any more puns. It's awful. I knew a fellow once who had it chronic. He doubled every word that he could lay his tongue to. When he was going to a party, he'd take the dictionary and pick out a lot of words that could be twisted, and set 'em down and study on 'em, so he could be ready with a lot of puns, and when he got 'em off folks would laugh, but all the time they'd wish he'd died young. And that's the way he'd go on. He finally drove his mother into a consumption, and at her funeral, instead of taking on as he ought to, he only just looked at the body, and said, 'Well, that's the worst coffin-fit the old lady ever had.' And then he turned round and began to get off puns on the mourners. Wasn't it dreadful?—But what's that?"
Somebody was knocking at the door.
"What's wanted?" said ANN.
"It's your minister as has come, mum," said TEDDY, from the outside. "What word shall I give him?"
"Tell him I shan't want him," said ANN.
In a few minutes TEDDY came back.
"He says, mum, as he won't go without marryin' somebody, or a gittin' his pay anyway, for it's a nice buryin' job as he's lost by comin'."
"But," said ANN, "I can't—" She hesitated, and seemed to form a sudden resolution. "Tell him," she continued, "tell him—"
(To be continued.)
There was an agriculturist, philosopher, and editor,
Who thought the world his debtor and himself, of course, its creditor;
A man he was of wonderful vitup'rative fertility,
Though seeming an embodiment of mildness and docility,
This ancient agriculturist, philosopher, and editor.
The clothes he wore were shocking to the citizen æsthetical,
Assuredly they would not pass in circles which were critical,
So venerable were they, and so distant from propriety,
So utterly unsuited to respectable society,
Which numbers in its membership some citizens æsthetical.
He kept a model farm for every sort of wild experiment.
Which was to all the neighborhood a source of constant worriment;
For every one who passed that way pretended to be eager to
Discover pumpkin vines that ran across the fields a league or two,
So queer was the effect of each preposterous experiment.
He had a dreadful passion, which was not at all professional,
For going for an office, either local or congressional.
But though often nominated, yet the people wouldn't ratify,
Because they thought, quite properly, it would be wrong to gratify
The all-consuming passion that was not at all professional.
Among the many hobbies which he cantered on incessantly
Was one he called Protection, and he rode it quite unpleasantly;
For if any one dissented from his notions injudiciously,
He went for him immediately, ferociously and viciously,
Did this absurd equestrian who cantered on incessantly.
With which remarks the author of this brief, veracious history
Concludes his observations on the incarnated mystery
Known as an agriculturist, philosopher, and editor,
Who thought the world his debtor, and himself, of course, its creditor,
And who will surely figure on the oddest page in history.
THE FITTEST PLACE FOR A "PRESERVER" OF THE PEACE. A "Jam" on Broadway.
DR. HELMBOLD TO J.G. BENNETT, Jr. "Boo-shoo! fly."
A BRIGHT IDEA.
Customer. "WAITER, BRING ME SOME FROZEN CLAMS."
Waiter (lately caught). "YES, SIR; WILL YOU HAVE 'EM ROASTED OR BILED?"
WORDS AND THEIR USES.
Nothing, except counting your stamps, can be more pleasant and exciting than tracing out the origin of words by the aid of a second-hand dictionary. It's the next funniest thing to grubbing after stumps in a ten-acre lot. Dentists make capital philologists—: they are so much accustomed to digging for roots. It's rather dull work to shovel around in the Anglo-Saxon stratum, but, as soon as you strike the Sanscrit, then you're off, and if you don't find big nuggets, it's because—well, it's because there are none there. Sometimes you dig down to about the time when NOAH went on his little sailing excursion, and strike what seems to be a first-class sockdolager of root, but what is the use? Unfortunately the philology business is overdone; it's chock full of first-class broken down pedagogues and unsuccessful ink-slingers, and, as soon as you offer a curious specimen in the way of roots, they write a book to prove that the root don't exist, or, if it does, that it should not.
However, there is an advantage in knowing the roots of words, and the use to which they were put in former years. Everybody, you know, is very anxious to read CHAUCER and SPENSER. Now, after you have studied this subject about forty-two years, you will be able to read CHAUCER with the aid of an old English dictionary and an Anglo-Saxon grammar.
Many so-called philologists, who have preceded me, have ignorantly derived words from improper sources. Thus, the compound word, shoofly, has been traced by some to the Irish word shoe, meaning a hoof-covering, and the French word fly, meaning an insect, when it is apparent to even the casual observer that it comes from the Guinea word shoo, meaning get out, and the English word fly, meaning a tripe destroyer. I propose, therefore, to show you the origin of a few words, in order that you may use them properly, and in order that you may subscribe freely for my book on this subject, which will shortly be placed before an admiring public.
Theatres. When the players were servants of the king, they were compelled to be proficient in reading, riting, rithmetic, rhyming, riddling, reciting, rehearsing, and romping. These accomplishments were grouped together and called the 8 r's, which name naturally enough was soon applied to the play-houses. This example shows how simple the whole subject is, and how easily the philology business could he run by a child six years of age.
Country. The origin of this word is, to say the least, odd. City people were accustomed to visit the rural districts at about the time when rye was ripe, and they were generally amused by the farmer's pereginations around his rye. Farmers always count rye-stacks in the morning, in order to discover whether any of them have been lifted during the night. When, upon their return to the City, the visitors were asked where they had been, they facetiously replied, "To count rye." This soon became a favorite expression; the "e" was dropped for euphony, and the rural districts were called country.
Spittoon.—This word comes from the Greek word spit, meaning to slobber, and the Scotch word, tune, meaning the noise made by the bag-pipes. As the saliva struck the receptacle it made a noise delightful to the ears of the smoker, and resembling the note of the national instrument of Scotland. Hence the receptacle was called the spittoon.
Politics.—Quack philologists, who evidently were insane, have gone back to the classics for the root of this word, when it is well known that immediately after the termination of the Revolution, when the Government of this country was about to be settled, the word came into existence. A woman, called POLLY, kept a corner grocery in New York, and all the fellows who wanted offices were accustomed to go to POLLY'S for their beer, because she trusted. Here they usually divulged their ideas of the manner in which the Government machine should be run. When asked why they went to that store, they always answered, "POLLY ticks." Outsiders, when asked what was going on in POLLY's store, always answered with a wise look, "POLLY ticks." The words soon spread, and talking about the Government was facetiously called POLLY ticks. The expression was finally used in earnest, and, by euphoric changes, reached its present shape.
Cheese-it.—This compound word has by some silly person been traced to the Saxon cyse, meaning condensed cow, and the Celtic it, meaning it. Now every way-faring man, even though non compos mentis, knows that when he is invited to come in and cut a cheese, come in and take a drop of whiskey is meant. This word, then, is derived from the Sanscrit cheese, meaning drop, and the English it, meaning whatever you may happen to be saying, and the whole expression may be properly translated "drop that yarn."
I might go on straight through the Dictionary, but I refrain, desiring only to show you what a light and entertaining subject philology is, and what quantities of fun you can get out of it on winter evenings.
If any one should desire to pursue this subject further, let him go through CHAUCER, SPENSER, SHAKSPEARE, and MILTON with a fine-tooth comb and a pair of spectacles, looking for roots, and then try my book on "Words and their Uses." He had better not attack the latter work on an empty stomach. An empty head will be more appropriate.
The Mendicant Mission.
Two fresh rumors about that unfortunate English Mission are afloat. One is that it has been tendered to the Hon. HENRY T. BLOW; the other is that the—well, no, not exactly Hon.—DAN. SICKLES is to be transferred from Madrid to the Court of St. JAMES. 'Tis much the same thing. If BLOW is appointed, it's BLOW; and if SICKLES is appointed, it's Blow, too.
The Fifth Regiment N.G.S.N.Y., composed altogether of Germans, have adopted the Prussian helmet with a spike on top. This is appropriate, as most Germans are linguists, and like to "spike the French."
Where to Commence the Civil Service Reform.
In our Hotels and Restaurants.
THE PLAYS AND SHOWS.
egarding me thoughtfully for a moment, MARGARET asks, "What is an 'old comedy?'"
I say to her, "An old comedy is to the comedy of to-day, precisely what an old beau, padded, painted, simpering with false teeth, and leering with rhumy eyes, is to a handsome, gallant young fellow, such as Mr. LESTER WALLACK impersonates in Ours or School."
To which she replies, "What are roomy eyes, dear?" (Being her fourth cousin by marriage, I am a sort of maiden aunt to her,—whence this respectful familiarity.) "Eyes in which there is room for the honest glances that never show themselves?'"
I sternly remark that "nice girls never pun."
"Yes," she replies; "punning, like beer and other vices, is the peculiar prerogative of men, I suppose. But you need not be afraid. I read PUNCHINELLO sometimes, and it is a terrible warning to people who are tempted to pun. I could give you frightful instances of the appalling depth to which the men who make puns in PUNCHINELLO occasionally sink."
I hastily close the discussion by inviting her to come to WALLACK'S and see an old comedy. So we find ourselves on the following evening in the only theatre in the country where that rather important adjunct of a theatre—a company—is to be found,
There are quantities of elegant dresses in the house,—the ladies having an idea that an old comedy is one of those things which every fashionable person ought to see. There are also numbers of nice young men, who, being the burning and shining lights of fashionable society (after their day's work behind the counter is ended), come to be bored by the old comedy, with a heroism which proves how immeasurably superior to the influences of tape and calico are their youthful souls. By the by, it is one of the unavoidable désagréments of New York society that the wearer of the elegant dress is often conscious that her partner in the waltz knows precisely how many yards of material compose her skirt, and exactly how much it cost per yard, for the excellent reason that he himself measured it with his professional yard-stick, and cut it with his private scissors. This, however, is a subject that belongs not to old comedy, but to the extremely modern comedy of New York society. The two resemble each other only so far as they are fashionable and dull.
But to our WALLACKIAN old comedy. The curtain rises upon the veteran GILBERT and the handsome ROCKWELL. They converse in the following style:
GILBERT.—"Well, you young dog, ha! ha! So you have decided to make your old uncle happy by marrying my neighbor's daughter. Gad! I remember my own wedding-day. Well, well; we won't talk about that now, but hark ye, you young villain, if you don't marry the girl, I cut you off with a shilling."
ROCKWELL.—"My dear uncle, I can have no greater pleasure than to fulfil your wishes. But suppose our adorable young neighbor has the ill-breeding to refuse me."
GILBERT.—"Refuse you! Refuse my nephew? Gad! I'd like to see THOMAS OLDBOY permit his daughter to refuse my nephew! I'd—d—e, I'd—" (chokes and stamps with rage.)
Further on we meet with Miss OLDBOY and her mother,—the latter a stout old lady, addicted to smelling salts and yellow silks.
LYDIA OLDBOY.—"To-day I am expecting the arrival of young WILDOATS, who comes to pay his addresses to me. I wonder if he is like that dear, delightful THADDEUS OF WARSAW."
Mrs. OLDBOY.—"Now, Miss, remember that your honored father insists upon this match. I expect you to be a dutiful daughter, and accede to his wishes. Here comes the young man himself."
ROCKWELL.—"My. dear Mrs. OLDBOY, I am charmed to see you. You are looking positively younger than your ravishingly beautiful daughter. Fair LYDIA, I come to lay my heart at your feet. 'Tis the wish of my uncle and your honored father that we should unite our respective houses. Let me touch that exquisite hand. Unseal those ruby lips and tell me that I am the happiest of men."
Here the UNCLE and OLDBOY enter. They chuckle, and poke one another in the ribs, remarking "Gad" and "Zounds" at intervals. They bless the young couple, and order up some of the old Madeira. The curtain falls as OLDBOY gives the health of the young people, with the wish that they may have a dozen children, and a cellar never without plenty of this splendid old Madeira,—"that your father, bottled, Miss LYDIA, the year our gracious sovereign came to the throne."
This is a fair sample of the old comedy. The oaths are of course omitted, out of deference to the tender susceptibilities of the editor of PUNCHINELLO. So are the indecencies, which are the spice of the old comedy, but which cannot be written in a respectable journal, and are almost too gross and brutal for the Sun. Take from an old comedy its oaths and its grossness, and nothing is left but a residuum of boisterous inanity. The condensed old comedy which has just been laid before the readers of PUNCHINELLO, is as inane and vapid as anything that WALLACK'S theatre has shown us in the past month. Do you find it dull? For my part, I don't hesitate to say that the "Essence of Old Virginny," as furnished by the venerable poet, Mr. DANIEL BRYANT, is vastly more amusing than the Essence of Old Comedy.
All of which I say, in my most impressive manner, to MARGARET as we struggle through the crowded lobby. But she irreverently disputes my assertions, and asks, "How is it that everybody admires these comedies if they are so wretched as you say they are? Is your judgment better than that of anybody else?"
There being nothing to say, if I mean to maintain my ground, except that my judgment is the only infallible critical judgment in this city or elsewhere, I promptly and unblushingly say so. But MARGARET tells me I am "a goose"—(I think I have mentioned that she is my aunt, and hence allows herself these pleasing freedoms of speech)—and says that I shall take her to see the old comedies every night, until I am willing to say that I like them.
Who is there that, in view of this threat, will not drop the tear of sensibility, so neatly alluded to by Mr. STERNE, in sympathy with the prospective sufferings of
MY DEAR P.:—I have made some curious observations of this disease, which lead to startling conclusions.
It is a malady peculiar to the United States, being an eruption resulting from indigestion of unripe knowledge, together with excess of vanity in individual blood.
Universities spring up among us like mushrooms, in a night. The seed of knowledge is sown broadcast over our land. In fact, in this particular we may be said to be very seedy, indeed.
For my part I have no objection to Universities—when they are Universities. But, at the rate at which we are now progressing, we shall soon have "every man his own University." It will become the fashion to keep a University in the back-yard. And then, you know, the institution must have its own particular organ, you know. Every man, and every member of his family, shall print his or her Free Press, and independence of opinion shall reign.
Glorious country! Glorious free speech!
With WALT WHITMAN, we may well exclaim:
O the BROWN University!
O the splendid University of SMITH!
O CORNELL, his University!
&c. ad infinitum.
As for me, dear NELLO, I am in the front rank of civilization. I have accepted the Chair of Cane-bottom in a Grub-Street garret, and rejoice in a barrel-organ, which plays with great freedom of speech.
A. Sop for Ireland.
It is stated that Queen VICTORIA has ordered from a Dublin manufacturer an extensive assortment of Balbriggan hosiery for the wedding outfit of the Princess LOUISE. There is a stroke of policy in this. In firemen's phrase it may be called laying on the "hose" to quench disloyalty.
THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT. The Marine Hospital.
TRIALS OF A WITNESS.
MR. PUNCHINELLO:—As all people seem to come to you with their troubles and grievances, I hope you will not refuse to listen to my woes. And whether they are woes or not, I leave you to judge for yourself.
At the beginning of last week I made my first appearance in any court-room, in the character of a witness, in the case of VALENTINE vs. ORSON; in which the point in dispute was the ownership of a tract of land in Wyoming Territory. I knew something in regard to the sale of these lands, and was fully prepared to testify to the extent of my knowledge in the premises; but judge of my utter surprise and horror on being obliged to go through such an ordeal as the following extracts from my examination will indicate.
The counsel for the plaintiff commenced by asking me if I was a married man, and when I had answered that. I was, he said:—
"Is your wife a believer in the principles of the Woman's Rights party?"
I could not, for the life of me, see what this had to do with the land in Wyoming, but I answered, that I was happy to say she was not.
The examination then proceeded as follows:—
Q. You are happy, then, in your matrimonial relations? A. Yes—(and remembering the oath) reasonably so.
Q. Is your wife pretty? A. (Witness remembering at once his oath and his wife's presence in court) She is pretty pretty.
Q. What are her defects? A. (Witness remembering only his wife's presence.) I have never been able to discover them.
Q. Do you wear flannel? A. Yes, in winter.
Q. Can you testify, upon your oath, that you do not wear flannel in summer? A. I can.
Q. Now be careful in your answer. What do you wear in the spring and fall? A. I—I wear my common clothes.
Q. With flannel, or without flannel? A. Sometimes with, and sometimes without.
Q. No evasion; you must tell the Court exactly when you wear flannel, and when you do not.
A series of questions on this subject brought out the fact that I wore flannel when the weather was cold, or cool; and did not wear it when it was mild, or warm.
Q. Have you a lightning-rod on your house? A. I have.
Q. How much did it cost you to have it put up? A. It has not cost me anything yet—I owe for it.
Q. Is that all you owe for? A. No, I have other debts.
Q. Have you any money with you now? A. I have.
Q. How much? A. (Counting contents of porte-monnaie.) Sixty-two cents.
Q. Where did you get that? A. (With embarrassment.) I borrowed it.
Q. Were you present when defendant first offered his land for sale to the plaintiff? A. (Brightening up.) I was.
Q. Do you burn gas or kerosene in your house? A. Gas.
Q. How many burners? A. Ten, I think.
Q. Are you willing to assert, upon your solemn oath, that there are only ten? A. (Witness counting on his fingers.) I am.
Q. Do you wear studs or buttons on your shirt fronts? A. Studs.
Q. Gold, or pearl? A. Mother-of-pearl, as a general thing, but sometimes I wear one gold one at the top.
Q. Were all your studs of mother-of-pearl, at the time when you first heard this transaction mentioned between the parties? A. They were.
Q. Do you ever wear your gold stud in the middle of your bosom? A. No, sir, I always wear it at the top.
Q. Do you ever wear it at the bottom? Can you swear it was not at the bottom on the day of the transaction referred to? A. I distinctly remember that I did not wear it at all that day.
Q. Did you wear it that night? A. No, sir.
Q. Can you swear that after you went to bed you did not wear it? A. I can.
Q. Have you ever been vaccinated? A. I have.
Q. On which arm? A. The left.
Q. At the of the first mention of this land to the plaintiff, who were present? A. (Witness speaking with hopeful vivacity, as if he hoped they were now coming to the merits of the case.) The plaintiff, the defendant, and myself.
Q. Do you use the Old Dominion coffee-pot in your house? A. (Dejectedly.) No, sir.
Q. What kind of a coffee pot do you use? A. A common tin one.
Q. You are willing to swear it is tin? A. I am.
Q. Has your wife any sisters? A. She has two; ANNA and JANE.
Q. Are they married A. They are.
Q. Are either of them prettier than your wife? A. (Quickly.) No, sir.
Q. Have you any children? A. Two.
Q. Have they had the measles? A. They have.
Q. Has any other person in your household had the measles? A. I have had them, and my wife has had them.
Q. How do you know your wife has had them? A. She told me so.
Q. Then you did not see her have them? A. No, sir.
Q. We want no hearsay evidence here; how can you swear that she has had them when you did not see her have them? A. She told me so, and I believed her.
Q. Did she take an oath that she had had them? A. No sir.
Q. Then, sir, you are trifling with the Court. Do you understand the obligations of an oath? A. I do.
Q. Beware, then, that you are not committed for perjury. Is your gas-metre ever frozen? A. Yes, sir.
Q. What do you use when the gas will not burn? A. Candles.
Q. How many to the pound? A. Nine.
Q. How do you know there are nine to the pound? A. They are sold as nines.
Q. Then you never weighed them yourself? A. No, sir.
Counsel, to the Court. May it please your Honor, this is the second time that this witness has positively testified, under solemn oath, to important points of which he has no certain knowledge. I ask the Court for protection for myself and my client.
Here a long discussion took place between the lawyers and the Judge, and at the end of it the case was postponed for four months. I suppose it is expected that I will then re-ascend the witness-stand; but I have determined that when I enter a court-room again I shall appear as a criminal. These fellows have much the easiest times, and they run so little risk, nowadays, that their position is far preferable to that of the unfortunate witnesses.
The reason why so few persons emigrate to this country from Poland, is the general belief prevailing there that we have throughout the Union a heavy Pole tax.
THE A.B.C. OF NEW YORK SOCIALISM. ANDREWS, BRISBANE, AND CLAFLIN.
Scene: Lord DE VERE'S Manor: The Blue Chamber.
Lord De Vere. "BUT ONE COURSE, LADY CLAUDE, IS LEFT TO RETRIEVE OUR FALLEN FORTUNES. WITH THESE DEAD CATS WE'LL FLY TO MICHIGAN AND START A MINERAL SPRING. THE MICHIGANDERS ARE WILD ABOUT THEIR SPRINGS, AND WITH THIS MATERIAL OURS CANNOT BUT BE A SUCCESS."
ONE OF OUR SOCIAL HUMBUGS.
Old Gent (figuring up probable receipts of his silver wedding, close at hand). "I'VE HIRED A SPLENDID TEA-SERVICE FOR BROWN TO PRESENT TO US; IT WILL MAKE QUITE A SENSATION, AND I'VE GOT IT CHEAP FOR THE EVENING."
POEMS OF THE POLICE.
I. MARY SMITH.
O gallant p'licemen, list to me,
I'll sing a mournful ditty
About a poor young serving-gal,
What lived in this here city.
She had a name, and SMITH it was
(The rest of it was MARY);
Her constant duty, at daybreak,
Was sweeping out the arey.
One evening she went to a jig
(Her missus was attending
A private hop), when there befel
What truly was heart-rending.
She wore her missus' gayest clothes,
Her muslin dress all fluty,
Her waterfall and tag-rags all,
Which well became her beauty.
But missus found poor MARY out,
And in a p'liceman took her,
And walked her up before the Judge,
On charge of being a hooker.
The missus swore the girl a thief
Her property as lifted,
Which proved beyond all doubt would be
When things came to be sifted.
The girl said she'd been to a jig;
Then out spoke Judge MCCARTY,
"You must not wear the fixings of
A party to a party."
They sent her up for sixteen months,—
Oh! drop a tear to MARY,
Whose missus ne'er shall see her more
A-sweeping out the arey.
Life being in any event a transitory affair, and especially so in New York, where, every one lives some miles from his business, our means of transit are of interest to every one. However well the owners of those at present in use may insist that they are, yet the public feels they should be better, and Mr. PUNCHINELLO, having the interest of his fellow-citizens at heart, most earnestly hopes that the undertakers of the last new scheme will not so mistake the meaning of this term as to suppose that their business with it is simply to bury it.
Discounting a Bill.
The Germans are disposed to glorify their king, and look upon him as the Great WILLIAM; but when they commence to calculate the cost of his glory, in men slaughtered, homes desolated, women beggared, industries destroyed, taxes increased, and liberty chained, it is more than probable that they will become disgusted with their Little BILL.
Can Russia's designs upon Turkey, at this season of the year, be attributed to her admiration and imitation of New England Thanksgiving customs?
A Maniac's Mutterings.
PUNCHINELLO'S special Lunatic gives it as his opinion, that a continuance of a horse-flesh diet in Paris must go far towards disturbing the Parisian Equine-imity.
An Old Saw Sharpened.
Some one has applied the old Latin motto, "Horas non numero nisi serenas," to Mr. GREELEY, by making it read, "HORACE is of no account except when serene," which, by the by, he never is.
Query for Naturalists.
How can a person who stands four feet in his boots be called biped?
DENTS-LY FILLED. Government offices.
KING WILLIAM OF PRUSSIA WAITING FOR HIS ALLY.
HIRAM GREEN ON MARK TWAIN'S BABY.
The "Lait Gustice" congratulates the newly organized Papa.
SKEENSBORO, NYE ONTO VARMONT.
Friend TWAIN—Allow an old statesman, which has served his country for 4 yeers as Gustise of the Peece, rite a congratulotery letter to you on your success as a boy raisest. Altho your name is MARK TWAIN, I notiss that on this occashon you dident Mark but One.
I am a little older in years and Parentelism than you are, and am able to call myself the seenyer pardner in a firm who are the sole proprieters of eleven offspring and 2 grand-children.
Raisin children is a bizziniss which haint every mans best holt, and as long as you've got into the bizziness, excoose me for givin you a little wisdom, which you as a parent must swaller without makin up a face.
If your child, in its infantile days, is given to squallin nites, obtain a beverige, called soothin sirup, and just before you pull off your butes nites, give the little cuss about 3 tablespoons full, and he will sleep so sound that you can use him for a piller. Should he kick & squall, and refuse to take it, lay him down onto the floor, set on him, then takin hold of his nose, pour the stuff down his throte, and you've got him, ekal to Jo JEFFERSON'S Rip Van Winkle 20 yeers snooze.
To amoose him—If your wife is too bizzy durin the day, doin the cookin, washin, &c. 4th, to amoose the child, give him an ink bottle, and set him down on the parler carpet. If he has any idee of geografy, when you come home nites you will find a good helthy map of the black sea, which Rooshy will insist on bein added to your war map.
Another way of amusin him, is to give him a raiser, and let him play learn to shave. If he should cut his nose off, it would make the little shaver smart.
If you expect to bring your boy up to hold offis,' let him cultivate cheek. This is done by tyin his grandmother in her rockin cheer, and lettin him pelt the old lady with snow balls in the winter time. In the summer time get him a bow and arrer, and let him see how neer he come to the venerable lady's nose without breakin her spectorcals. If this don't make him cheeky enuff to hold offis, let him pour a lot of benzine onto his little cuzzin, then push her onto a red hot cole stove. If he can do this and think it a joak, he will do for a cabinet offiser.
If he tries to jump over parental authority, fill him with shot, same as your man did his jumpin frog, only pour it into him with a mustick.
If you've got any regard for our nashnal caracter, don't let your son rite comic copy for the noosepapers, after which, be so rash as to rite a book, and have English crickets set up their darn singin, when they catch your little innocent abroad.
JOHN BULL don't tickle easy, remember that. I actually believe you couldent stir him with a hul bag full of laffin gas.
As your boy has entered the Lecture field, I shouldent be surprised if he got up quite a breeze on the roast-rum. In fact, when he opens his mouth before an audience, look out for squalls.
When your offspring is big enuff to enjoy chastisin, remember the "good little boy," and examine your son's garments to see if the lad has been roostin onto any nitro-gleserine cans, lest the parental hand, when brought in contact with the youth's habeas corpus, mite necessitate the sweepin up of father and son's scattered remnants.
Let your son reed the works on good morril men's lives.
By the time he gets old enuff to read, I will have my life out in pamphlet form, and you can draw onto me for a copy. Beware of works of fiction. Don't let your boy have a great deal to do with such readin as HOYLE on Games, TOM PAINE on Infidelity, nor HORRIS GREELY on farmin. Such works are bringin more ruin onto the country, than the numerous jewrys of twelve talented men, who allow murderers to come the loonatic dodge over 'em.
I don't believe in spoilin the rod and sparin the child, but I think it is well enuff to keep a rod hung up in the barn, where your child can occasionally look at it, to see what he will come to, if he undertakes to kick over the traces.
Children are a good deal like wimmen. If you don't set your foot down when you first get married your wimmen will raise their foot up, and afore you realize any pain, your gentle form will be histed out into the street.
With boys you must begin talkin turkey, when they are young goblins, ef you don't, when they get old enuff, they will "strike for their sires," and gobble up the old man's scalp.
Teach your son to honor his pa and ma, and decline the English mission, when it comes his turn.
Between you and I, aspirants for the honor of bordin with St. JIMMY are on the decline, Pitty it haint a gin-cocktail. I shouldent be surprised, if some big criminal was sentenced to go there yet, which minds me of a konundrum. Why is the English mission like lager beer?
Give 'er up?
Because it ruins any minister's reputation, who goes for it.
Hopin that when you shovel off your mortil coil, that your mantle may not pass out of the family, and as time flies on with greased wings, you may make the family name sound by bein able to Mark Twain in your family record, I drop the goose feather.
HIRAM GREEN, ESQ.,
Lait Gustise of the Peece.
A SURE WAY OF DOING IT.
Seekers after notoriety must often be at their wits' end for some new sensation with which to advertise themselves. Mr. TWAIN, for instance, having gone through Fenianism and France, seems to have collapsed for the present; and here now comes Mr. WEMYSS JOBSON, who subsided into oblivion years ago, but has just emerged again into the light of The Sun. The efforts of both these gentlemen to keep themselves prominently before the public, however, are very inadequate and feeble. They should suffer more and be stronger. Let TRAIN do a bold stroke of business by declaring himself the perpetrator of the latest mysterious murder, and it might be the making of the exhumed JOBSON to revive a fossilized memory, and confess himself to be the criminal who delivered the fatal blow to the late Mr. WILLIAM PATTERSON.
True to his Colors.
A Bostonian visiting New York, not long since, and reading in the papers that there was to be a celebration of Mass in an up-town church, decided to remain over Sunday for it, thinking, Bostonially, that Mass meant Massachusetts and nothing else.
SUITABLE INSCRIPTION FOR A BOATMAN'S RACE-PRIZE. "The noblest Row-man of them all."
A NEW LEAF IN THE FAMILY HISTORY.
Jack. "NOW, I'LL BE PAPA, GOING TO FIX THE FURNACE."
Sallie. "OH, YES!—AND I'LL BE THE NEW NURSE, AND YOU MUST KISS ME BEHIND THE CELLAR DOOR!"
BEHIND THE TIMES.
EXPLANATORY OF MR. JOHN BULL'S VIEWS.
POEMS OF THE CRADLE.
When I was a bachelor I lived by myself;
All the bread and cheese I had, I laid upon the shelf.
But the rats and the mice they made such a strife,
I was forced to go to London to buy myself a wife.
The roads were so bad, and the lanes were so narrow,
I had to bring my wife home in a wheelbarrow.
The wheelbarrow broke. My wife had a fall;
Deuce take the wheelbarrow, my wife, and all.
The above lines were written when the author was quite advanced in years; when he had solved, in his humble way, the great problem of life, and discovered the futility of mundane things generally, and t undesirableness of an unsuccessful or unfortunate existence; when he could look back through a long vista of years, and see the follies of his youth and the mistakes of his manhood. It should have been placed at the end of his book, with only the word Finis after it; but somehow, either by mistake of the author or of the publisher, it was placed among the records of the simple events of the village, and thus loses half its force. However, let the history, placed as it is, be a warning to rash young men who contemplate matrimony; and let them give heed to it, lest they also have cause to repent of their doings and exclaim with the poet:—
"The deuce take it."
Observe how pathetic and touching his reminiscence of his lost youth and the priceless boon of liberty. He commences in a quiet descriptive way, leaving one at a loss to know whether it is to be a joyful lyric a dirge he intends singing.
"When I was a bachelor I lived by myself;
All the bread and cheese I had I laid upon the shelf."
Here we have him alone, at peace with himself and the world; happy in the contemplation of his beloved muse; jotting down, now and then, the brilliant ideas that flash through his teeming brain; and munching in solitude his homely meal of bread and cheese. In telling us he laid his bread and cheese upon the shelf, he at once shows he had left his parental abode, and the ministering and watchful care of his maternal parent.
There must, of course, have been a cause for such a step. Some reason why the gentle being should have been wrought up to that pitch, when he daringly throws off all restraint, and steps into the world to act and think for himself. It may have been the want of sympathy that drove him to the act. They were plain folks, and didn't appreciate his peculiar turn of mind, and so only laughed at him, and ridiculed his pretensions. That there was a quarrel there is no manner of doubt, and it was probably caused by the mortifying act of his mother in fainting when he read her the poetry he had written at her request. That, in itself, was enough to break all ties between them. She was horrified and overwhelmed with dismay that a child of hers could be guilty of such atrocious rhymes; and he, in turn, was disgusted that a mother of his should be so unappreciative and earthly. And so, by mutual consent, they separated.
That accounts for his bachelor habit of laying his bread and cheese on the shelf that he might have it handy, and not forget where he had placed it. But as
"The rats and mice made such a strife,"
he found that would never do. Something else must be thought of; and being an inventive genius, he tried putting it in his trunk, but it scented his Sunday jacket and trousers, and the girls all turned up their noses at the odd perfume. So, driven to extremity, he in an evil hour decided, as many another has since done, that the remedy for his ills was matrimony, and that it was not well for man to live alone.
A Prophet is without honor in his own country, and so ofttimes is a Poet. To his bashful supplication of "Wilt thou?" the young maidens if his village unhesitatingly refused to wilt, and thus it was that circumstances forced him
"To go to London to buy himself a wife."
How fortunate that he should give us, inadvertently as it were, the information so necessary to the unlucky young men of this later day, the best place to go shopping for wives! No man after reading the above need say "he doesn't marry because he cannot, as no one will have him." He need not stop for that hereafter, but just go to London, pick out one to suit, pay the price, and bag the article. It can all be done in a day, and save time wonderfully.
He bought his wife—a cheap one undoubtedly—and gave his promise to pay; then started homeward, feeling his importance as a married man, and chuckling over the idea of the astonishment and dismay of the rats and mice when he should set his wife after them, and thereby deprive them of their daily rations. But while musing thus, he discovers his wile shows signs of fatigue, as
"The roads were bad, and the lanes were narrow,"
and not wishing to have her exhausted before commencing business, he gallantly determined to give her a ride, well knowing she would need all her strength for the battle he intended she should win.
So borrowing a wheelbarrow of a trusting neighbor, he seated her therein, and amid great rejoicing at his extraordinary "luck" he set forward. But now comes the sad part of the story:
"The wheelbarrow broke—my wife had a fall."
And what a fall was there, my countrymen! Words are inadequate. The scene was indescribable, and we leave a blank that each may picture it to suit themselves.
After the excitement occasioned by the catastrophe was somewhat abated, he picked up the pieces and tried to put the wheelbarrow together again. But it was too far gone; it was un-put-togetherable, and so he, more in sorrow than anger, stood gazing at the wreck, while his wife, being a woman, could not resist the impulse to cry exultingly, "I told you so; I knew it." That on top of all the rest of his trouble was a little too much; and after fumbling over the pieces a while, "I told you so" ringing in his ears, he completely lost his temper, and vented his passion in the words:—
"The deuce take the wheelbarrow."----
and then in a low voice, cautiously turning his head aside, he added:—
"My wife and all."
Together they trudged homeward. Fearful misgivings as to the wisdom of his step came swooping down upon him, and he almost wished he had not tried to mend matters, but had patiently borne with the rats, when suddenly—the vision of a cat swept athwart his mind, and he groaned aloud in bitterness of spirit.
Not even the ever after clean hearth-stone, with the dead bodies of his enemies, the rats, piled thereon, could make him forget that one moment of agonizing consciousness, when he realized for the first time that he had burdened himself with a wife when a cat would have answered as well.
HURLY-BURLY.No wonder that the folks turn pale
And preachers talk of doom,
Since by each telegram and mail
Come words of awful gloom:
Explosions of N. glycerine;
Expulsion of the Pope;
Earthquakes along the Eastern line
THE PACIFIC SLOPE.
Surely the world is upside down,
Its framework out of joint;
At coming change all things of town
And country seem to point:
The very sea some day may try
To climb the mountain side,
And hill-folks yet be staggered by
THE MOANING OF THE TIED.
By Diligence from Paris to Versailles—Fastest Time on Record—Happy Travelling Companions—Mud, Misery, and Malignity—Life on the Road.
NEAR ST. CLOUD, NINTH WEEK OF THE REPUBLIC, 1870.
It would have done you good to see us getting over that muddy, jagged, rutty old turnpike that leads off from the south of the Bois de Boulogne toward St. Cloud and Versailles. Since writing my last, I had been to Paris par ballon monté, and was now returning in the diligence that took five American ladies and a couple of war correspondents, all friends of WASHBURNE, away from the temptation of eating horse-flesh in the beleaguered city, to such edibles as the rapacity of the German appetite had left undevoured in the neighborhood of the old "stamping grounds" of Louis XVI. We were not a jolly party. It rained in torrents, and our little driver perched upon the box in front smoked the most infernal tobacco I ever smelt. Moreover, the horses were not lively steeds. They were rather safe than otherwise, and not given to running away. Although the driver addressed himself to their flanks, between each puff of smoke, with a pointed stick, they didn't rear and plunge so as to frighten the ladies, and that was a point gained, albeit we had leisure to count the pickets in the fences as we dragged toward our destination. One of our lady passengers came from Connecticut, and she talked with a nutmeg dialect that made her garrulity oftentimes quite spicy. We two sat back to back, and when the vehicle lurched heavily her chignon took me "amidships" (if I may be permitted the expression) with a concussion that felt like the impact of a muffled ball from a six-pound field howitzer. "Goodness gracious, dew git eout of the way and give me some room, man!" she would exclaim as our wagon plunged into a three-foot "gore" and the coachee plied his pointed ramrod with increased vigor to the attenuated haunches of the insensible beasts.
"My dear madam, you will perceive that I cannot 'git' any further without climbing upon the back of my companion in front." Lord knows I would have given a hundred francs to be out of her reach; but we had been all ticketed and labelled through under the same "pass," and there was no such thing as dissolving partnership now.
"Ugh!" she muttered, putting her handkerchief to her nose, "and that horrid smoke too!" But the imperturbable director of our flight took no heed, and drew away at his clay idol with unabated satisfaction. 'Twas thus we jogged on for five weary hours, "OLD CONNECTICUT" charging head foremost at my spinal column with a frequency and momentum that made me believe, finally, she did it on purpose. Three miles out from St. Cloud we found the road completely blocked up with artillery wagons, and saw large masses of troops moving through the fields on either side. It still rained incessantly, and the forlornness of the situation was no wise relieved by the distant booming of guns, and the sucking sound of the wheels in the mud.
"Oh, my!" sail a thin, squeaky voice on the back seat. "I believe they are coming this way. Do let us get out, SARAH. I would rather die on the road than be murdered in such a sepulchre as this."
She referred to a battalion of the Landwehr that had just denied into the road, not a hundred yards in front of us.
"Stop your sniffling back there!" peevishly exclaimed "OLD CONNECTICUT." "It would serve you right if they bayonetted you;" and she added emphasis to her expostulation by planting her chignon between my shoulder-blades with terrific force.
I felt at once that either my back or my gallantry would have to give way; so I took a bond of fate, and sacrificed the latter on the spot.
"That'll do—that'll do," I remonstrated. "No more of that; if you want to knock the brains out of that haystack on the back of your head, why, knock away; but spare my bones, if you please."
I looked around, and she looked around with such suddenness as to bring her nose in contact with the brim of my hat, and force the tears from her eyes. She started to her feet, and I verily believe would not have postponed hostilities a moment, had not the door of the diligence just then been opened, and a Prussian officer demanded to see our papers. I paraded the "documents," and he said they were "good;" but he also said that we must make up our minds to halt here until the following morning, as there was a movement of the troops, and no vehicles would be permitted to pass this point.
Gaudeamus! I could have sworn, but my wrath sailed away when I saw what a volcano was working in the bosom of "OLD CONNECTICUT." She didn't strike the officer, or utter a single complaint in his hearing, but sat down as if she had been a spile driven through the top of the coach, and let the vinegar run out of her eyes in pure impotency of speechless rage.
"SARAH'S" companion on the back seat broke forth afresh, and again wanted to know as to the probability of our being charged upon and put to the sword. I couldn't hear "SARAH'S" answers to these harrowing questions, but it seemed to me as if she were trying to throttle her timid friend into a perfect sense of security. Whatever she did had the desired effect, and I heard no more from the "back seat."
It was nightfall ere the several members of our little colony composed themselves to await in such tranquillity as they could command, the ordeal of sleeping, sitting bolt upright in a French diligence, upon a dark, tempestuous night, and surrounded on all sides by the dreadful presence of "red-handed war." The last thing I remember ere the drowsy god "MURPHY" sent his fairies to weave their cobwebs about my eyelids, was "OLD CONNECTICUT." She didn't look like the battering-ram that she was. She had taken that chignon for a pillow, and fastened it to the back of the seat. Her head was thrown back; her chin had fallen, and at the extreme tip of her thin red nose a solitary tear glistened like a dew-drop on a beet. Once, about midnight, she awoke me by her snoring, but I gave the old gal's chignon a hitch, and it was all right again.
THOSE COUNTRY COUSINS AGAIN.
Celia (just arrived from the country). "JUST THINK, JANE, COUSIN JOHN IS TO BE MY ESCORT TO THE FRENCH BAZAAR AND THE NILSSON CONCERTS, AND BOOTH'S AND WALLACE'S, AND THE OPERA BOUFFÉ, AND LOTS OF OTHER FIRST-CLASS SHOWS!"
FACTS ABOUT THE ENGLISH MISSION.
It is not true that I ever accepted the English Mission; and if any man says I did, I now deliberately brand him as a Liar and Villain.
I am not going to deny that the place was offered me, but I do unhesitatingly, say that I never absolutely consented to take it.
Gen. GRANT may have construed my note on the subject as an unqualified acceptance, but that was owing entirely to his devouring desire to get the thing off his hands, and not to any ambiguity in my language.
"No, Mr. PRESIDENT," I said in the note, "far be it from me to stand between my friend, Mr. GREELEY, and the gratification of his noble desire to wear military things at receptions abroad. Moreover your Excellency, I would not for the world deprive our cousins and other relations in England of an opportunity to cultivate the grand old art of swearing under the instruction of so eminent a professor as HORACE."
This is the sort of language I used, and I don't see how any man except Gen. GRANT could get hold of it the wrong way.
Of course I had some reasons besides those stated in my note for declining the Mission, but I did not want to hurt the President's feelings by going over the whole ground.
It was not unknown to me that the situation had been offered to about five thousand persons before it came round to my turn, or that the English Mission had fallen into a general decline. I knew all about that just as well as Gen. GRANT, but it would not have done any good to parade my knowledge on the subject.
There was the Hon. THOS. JENKINS who refused to take it, because his wife had a prejudice against Bulls ever since she was scared by one that chased her five miles for no other reason than that she was what might be called a red woman—well-read in the exciting house-wife literature of the day. JENKINS positively declined.
Then it was offered to Col. CANNONAYDE, who declined it because his mother-in-law declared that she would go along too, if he went, and he thought it would be better not to let her have a change of air, as she was in a fair way to wind up pretty soon by remaining near those swamps. CANNONAYDE wanted the place kept open till after the funeral, but this was not granted.
The next offer was made to Gen. BRAYLEIGH; but he refused it on the ground that he had made arrangements for going into the coal trade, and he could not be sure of holding the place more than a few weeks. Anyway, he thought it would not pay to give up the coalition he had entered into with another party. In fact, old BRAYLEIGH treated the whole matter very coldly.
It was next tendered to the Hon. THEOPHILUS SKINNER, but peremptorily declined because SKINNER'S district had become Democratic since he was elected, and he knew that if he resigned an infamous cannibal copperhead would be sent to Congress in his stead. SKINNER consulted all the leaders of his party, and they unanimously agreed that it would be better to let every court in Europe be without an American representative than risk the loss of that district.
Everybody knows why the Rev. Dr. BANGWELL, of Chicago, did not accept it. The Doctor expected his divorce case to come on in a few days, and could not neglect that; and besides, he had made all the arrangements for his other marriage, and sent out the invitations. If the President had just made some inquiries before appointing Dr. BANGWELL, he could have found out that the Doctor's engagements would not permit him to leave Chicago on any account.
The offer that was made to Col. KAMPSTUHL was declined solely because the Colonel had an old score to settle with Gen. GRANT for something in the way of a court-martial that happened near Tricksburg. He swore that he would get square with the author of that business sometime, and when the mission was offered to him (by accident, for Gen GRANT had forgotten all about the court-martial), he got up a sepulchral voice, and said, "Ha, ha! R-e-e-e-vendge at last!" and then wrote a bitter letter to Washington on the subject.
After that it was peddled all round the country in a promiscuous way, and offered in succession to a blacksmith who used to shoe horses for Gen. GRANT, a conductor who refused to take fare from a well-known Presidential excursion party, a dealer in hides who had conferred some high obligations when a certain official was in the tanning business, a grocery-keeper, a family shoemaker, a manufacturer of matches, and such a multitude of people, in fact, that it finally got to be looked upon as the greatest missionary undertaking of modern times.
The only really prominent man that the place was not tendered to is GEORGE FRANCIS TRAIN; but I wouldn't say that it won't get around to him somewhere in Asia before the circle is completed.
All these things were very well known to me before the office was placed at my disposal, but I did not care to wound the fine sensibilities of the President by saying anything about them in my note.
My reason for declining in favor of Mr. GREELEY has been stated—I put the whole matter frankly to Gen. GRANT—but I can't say whether the suggestion I offered has been acted upon or not. The only thing I am certain about on this point is, that if the offer should be made to HORACE, it won't get around to GEORGE FRANCIS afterwards.
There has been so much talk about this business, that I have considered it a sacred duty to state the facts and let some floods of light shine upon the whole thing. The duty is now conscientiously, discharged.
The Truth In a Nut-shell
CHANCELLOR CROSBY, in his inaugural address, has, we may say, bored right to the root of the whole vexed question of education, and extracted it, as will be seen from this extract: "It need hardly be urged," says the new Chancellor, and we hope, all the discontented will take the full force of the remark, "It need hardly be urged that the didaskalos should be didaktitos, and yet perhaps emphasis on so plain a truth may be sometimes necessary." Let us thank the Chancellor for forever removing this necessity.
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