Narrating A Pleasing Anecdote Of New Jersey ; Describing The Friendly Visit Of An Exciting Journalist To An Able Military Candidate For The Presidency; Noting The Disinterested Organization Of The " Grand Mackerel Army Of The Republic ;" And Giving The Truly American Song And Story With Which That Organization Was Partly Celebrated.
WASHINGTON, D. C, March 4,1868.
Now that old Winter has been impeached, on charge of poking his snows into all manner of things, and despotically endeavoring to bring our whole excellent Republican organization to its sneeze; now that icicles, like D. Sickles, have ceased being hangers-on around the House, and gone to vapor all about the country; now that one in his goings can distinguish between his toes and froze, and get a little hoarse from some other cause than having caught colt; - it is pleasant to see fair Nature preparing to don her new Spring-bonnet for a promenade, and trying on a veil of fog now and then to study the effect; and it is also pleasant to travel, at this dustless season of the year, especially after you have passed beyond the limits of New Jersey.
Whoever has made the passage to this city, my boy, must have noticed that, soon after the starting of the train from New York, all the passengers became inexpressibly melancholy of visage, and devoted the most absorbing attention to the extreme backs of the hats on the next seat. If some innocent foreigner, or other emigrant, in the car, chanced (while hastily flying from the water-cooler under the impression that it was the boiler) to remark upon this freak of nature, the nearest native exclaimed, in a chilling whisper : " Hush ! Mr. Hepworth Dixon,* hush ! We are now passing through the State of Camden and Amboy, and if we look out of the windows we shall be charged for it." Whereupon a deep shudder of terror ran through the entire vehicle, and Mr. Dixon made a memorandum in his note-book, to say, in his next exciting volume on " America," that the Jerseymen all had " Spiritual Wives," and allowed no. through-passengers to look into their second-story windows, going-by, without paying for it.
Through being generally mistaken for the pig-pasture and cabbage-patch of New York, the arable Dutchy of New Jersey has not always received that amount of foreign notice which our more complacent editors delight to quote from the columns of engaging English journals; but the day will come - mark me, scoffer! - the day will come, when her name shall appear in every dictionary in the world- as a synonym for " Economy".
The vegetable interests of my dining-table made me acquainted, last summer, with a Jerseyman of innumerable cucumbers; and, after recovering from the cholera which he had sold me at not more than the usual friendly percentage over the highest market-price, I went to his place to board, for the recovery of my health, at rather more per week than an own mother-in-law would have charged. He was a Jerseyman, full of deep love for nature, especially when she could be sold for so much a load, a basket, or a small measure; and was even so fond of animated creatures that he cheerfully encouraged all his neighbors to keep chickens, and buy corn for them from him. " And those sweet little English sparrows that are flying about now-a-days," says he to me, - "I love them because they are the works of my Maker; and I see that five hundred of them are advertised for, to be- taken West, for which a reasonable sum would be paid. How can I encourage the pretty creeturs to flutter softly about my door ? " Much moved by his beautiful enthusiasm, I suggested that a little bird-seed, placed upon a board, would attract the valuable warblers. He smiled feebly at me, and says he: " The seed would cost something, and I'm afeared they'd eat it. I suppose you haven't got a little seed about you, that you'd let me have, without wanting it deducted from your board?" Of course I had not; and for a whole week that admirer of the feathered works of his Maker was a mournful man. Suddenly, however, he brightened again amazingly; and early one morning, when an astounding twittering had called me to the front of the house, I found him cheerfully laughing to himself under a board upon a window-sill, around which some scores of sparrows were making much melody. "What!" exclaimed I, "have you really bought the seed at last, and put it on the sill? How could you afford it ? " He caught me by the lappel of my coat, and slapped his leg, gleefully; and says he: " H'sh-sh! don't speak so that they can hear. There's some seed up there, to be sure; but i've glued it fast to the board!"
* Mr. Hepworth Dixon, of the London " Athenaeum; " author of " New America," " Spiritual Wives," and other chaste works of imagination.
Perhaps I should not have remembered the circumstance, but for the fact that the representative of that same gentleman's district in Congress is about to present his State's retraction of her former assent to the only civilized Constitutional Amendment* we have had in a year. Some States go too far to the Republican extreme, and some too far to the Democratic; but you must look to New Jersey, if you would find the golden " mean".
Pondering this reminiscence en route, I succeeded in reaching the Capital without experiencing that unnatural disposition to mid-day slumber, which generally attends the intervening approach to Philadelphia on the way. Philadelphia produces some very creditable firemen, and will probably be a quite lively place when the final conflagration of things occurs; but, in the mean time, it curiously resembles some of those placid California fruits, which will keep growing larger and larger just so long as you choose to leave them alone, and are seldom troubled with enough distinctive flavor to tell whether they are ordinary pumpkins, or extraordinary apples.
* The Fourteenth Amendment.
Once again established in Washington, and in my old room at Willard's, I find little of merely local importance to note immediately, save, perhaps, the number of former Southern confederacies, who daily haunt the White House of our reigning sovereign, A. Johnson, Rex tailoronis, and take numerous Pardons at his expense. These haughty noblemen are quite affable once more in general society, and seem ready to negotiate fresh mortgages even with rich reptiles from New England; yet it cannot be denied that they still look with eyes of fire upon such of our national vandals in military attire as they chance to behold around the War Office.