Narrating The Sudden Journey Of Our Correspondent And Others To The South On A Mission Of Reconstruction: Illustrating The Usual Gymnastic Perils Of American Railroad Travel ; And Portraying How The Writer And Captain Villiam Brown, Eskevire, Were Received By A Renowned Confederacy.
Chipmunk Court House, May 20, 1899.
The Human Mind! - what a marvellous, commonplace, firm, unstable possession it is! The more we have of it to show, the greater is our envy of Shakespearian Commentators, Native Dramatists, Congressmen, and others, who possess merely that piece of mind which passeth show. Mine, my boy, is an inquiring mind, - that is to say, it ventilates itself in quires,-and, having grown weary of those Impeachment splendors which once it doated on, now asks itself, What next?
Inspiring me to smoke my piece of glass anew, it also directs me to turn that reliable safety-lens Southward; and, in obedience to the hint, I have even secured the ap-pointment of National Stenographer to a Reconstructing Expedition lately organized for a Confederate clime, and now beg leave to propose a suitable prefatory sentiment, after the manner of all great historians..
Peace, meek-eyed Peace, has cut its snowy pigeon wings over the recent Southern tracks of Federal carnage, and our beloved country reels more mighty and prosperous from the late sanguinary affair than writhing Europe cares to admit. How beautiful is the spectacle, as we view it through a piece of Smoked Glass! How sublime a thing it is to see a million of strategic troops turning tranquilly from the tented field, and selling Newtown pippins on the ferry-boats! How ennobling it is to think that the very beings who were once brass-buttoned brigadiers, and drank success to the good cause in many a fiercely-contested bottle, are now applying in large numbers for admission to the bar kept by Themis!
'Tis sweet, my native land, to behold thine exhibition of so much majestic shape to the world; and all will ecstatically black thy boots, save affrighted Albion, and that imperial Gaul whose not remote purchase of our iron-clad "Dunderberg" * may yet make us wish that we hadn't made such French-ship.
Toning this sentiment to the more dulcet register of my fine organ (which I find to be the name for "voice," in the admirable musical criticisms of all our excellent morning journals), I expressed it to the Conservative Kentucky Chap, the other day, in an ante-room of the White House, where we stood waiting our turn to take a parting pardon with the Executive before departing on our several Government salaries.
Merely stepping aside for a moment, while a large-sized Confederacy, on his way to take a pardon, made a cheerful pass with his bowie-knife at a one-armed Federal hireling near the wall, the Conservative Kentucky Chap pulled on a pair of yellow kid gloves, and says he:
* Now known as the " Rochambeau" of the Imperial navy.
" 'Tis sweet, indeed, to see our native land thus rising like a Felix from her ashes, and causing all the iron-clads of nature to tremble horribly together at Cherbourg and Spithead; but Kentucky far prefers the pageant of these Confederacies, now forgiving their recent Vandal foes, and taking pardon at the same table with him who was once their tailor." *
Here the Conservative Kentucky Chap accepted an apology from the haughty Virginian, who had accidentally knocked his hat over his eyes in an attempt to hit an adjacent crippled Hessian with his cane, and ate a hickory nut from the lunch-basket of a female Confederacy in front of him.
" Very true, my discriminating Von Bismarck," said I, sagely; "and I doubt not the forgiving nature of these sunny men expects to meet in return a disposition for giving them - anything they ask ! "
" Hem!" says the Conservative Kentucky Chap, severely, as he moved hastily aside to let a Confederacy of much collar get his shoes polished by a member of our national conservative organization. "Hem!" says the Kentucky chap, "you possess a radical soul, incapable of appreciating that noble sect of reconstructed planters with whom Kentucky is connected by marriage".
* It may be remembered that President Johnson's stronger demonstrations against Congress brought multitudes of ex-rebel pardon-seekers to the White . House.
Cowering under his just rebuke, and thinking that, after all, I should be as well without a pardon so late in the afternoon, I shook hands with him, and then respectfully begged my way through all the Southern States to the front door, from whence I sped to the railroad depot, where Captain Villiam Brown and the Conic* Section of the late unconquerable Mackerel Brigade were to start with me for Chipmunk Court House, in storied Accomac.
We were going by rail to reconstruct that sunflower of chivalry, Captain Munchausen; and we took to him, as a Provisional Governor, his elder brother, Loyola Munchausen, whose unflinching fidelity to the Union, in not taking arms for the South while laid up with typhus fever and inflammatory rheumatism, had very justly procured for him this appointment. It is by thus encouraging the loyal element of a sunny clime that we unite justice with magnanimity, and astonish Professor Goldwin Smith, of Oxford.
" Well, my wizard of the sword," said I to Villiam, as I espied that unpromoted warrior on the platform of a car, giving directions as to the disposal of his property to anattorney of his acquaintance, "is the Provisional aboard, and all right for starting ? "
*The Mackerel "Conic" Section is so called by reason of its novel strategical tendency to assume the shape of a cone when going into action, the attenuated apex being toward the enemy.
" Yes, my fren'," said Villiam, handing his watch to the attorney, and sadly intimating that it was to be sent to his poor mother; "yes," says Villiam, "he's holding his breath on a seat by himself, and trying to be cam".