Which Attempts The Sublime, But Succeeds To A Certain Extent Only; Yet Quotes Favorite Passages From The Prevailing Drama As They Are Being Simultaneously Ground Out, To Great Applause, By "Organs" All About The Country.
Washington, d. c, April 9, 1968.
Though crash linked thunders on the ears of all, like Titan statues crumbling in their fell; though burns the lightning over wires of rain, as gods to gods did telegraph the slain; though rocks Creation with the battle's din, and Heav'n's own portals let the war-fiends in; still, above all, slow circling in the sky, dark as the storm and as the azure high, sweeps the lone Bird whose wing-ed throne of air finds in the whirlwind but a higher stair. Still, while the tempest laps all earth below; still, while his eyrie reels to thunder-blow; still, while the clouds from night to instant morn blaze at his feet a nest for demons born, crown of the gale in steady ring he flies, scathless, of iron beak and glittering eyes; and the red bolts that rive a world in wrath fright not his pinions from their solemn path.
I allude, my boy, to that philosophical fowl, the American eagle, whose unspeakable equanimity under national disaster was what may be termed the egg of my lay two weeks ago, and to which I return with a still loftier lay on this occasion. It is a curious and bewildering thing to behold a bird of such unconquerable equilibrium, and I was exchanging notes upon the subject with Captain Sam-yule Sa-mith, when we were joined by a respectable chap, of much tight pants, from New York.
" Well, my Central Parker," said I, impressively, "how beats the pulse of the Empire State? Does the great case, now being tried, excite in you that serious interest and grave foreboding which every thoughtful patriot should feel ? "
" It does ! it does! " sighed he, hastily putting on his eye-glasses to look more like Fifth Avenue. " We all feel anxious - most anxious about the trial, since its result must affect millions. This is indeed a serious time, and woe be unto us if victory remains with the narrow-gauge men".
"Yes, indeed," says I, sorrowfully; "those men who presume to dictate everything to others by their own narrow gauge, think more of themselves than of their country." I shook his hand in deep sympathy, and says I, " And what will you do in that event? "
" Why," says he, " we shall still take stock in the wide-gauge; believing that it is sure, in any event, to reach Chicago".
"You believe, then," said I, appreciatively, "that a wider gauge of thought will be adopted by those who are shortly to meet in Chicago for the nomination of a new President?"
He looked at me severely, and says he, "Would you be kind enough, my inebriated friend, to tell me what you are talking about? "
" The Impeachment Trial," says I, sternly. " What other great case should I mean ? "
" Oh," says he, " you spoke so seriously, that I thought you meant the Erie Railroad case. I don't know much about the other case".
" Samyule," said I, hotly, "what do you think of such a state of public sentiment as this ? "
"Well, really," says Samyule, thoughtfully, "it appears to me - it really appears to me," says Samyule, " that I never saw so much equilibrium".
Bird of my Country! never mind what happens, but just keep soaring on. If a few earthquakes should happen to your native land at any time, accompanied by small-pox, a new poem by Mr. Tupper, and other great calamities, you will probably take that occasion to conduct yourself like a cheerful canary.
In this state of things, my boy, when the terrible and majestic drama of Impeachment fails to infect our American fellow-beings with that seemly gravity which such a performance should produce, it will not pay me - it positively will not pay me, my boy, to treat of it in my most expensive and dignified manner. Mr. Greeley's very longest " Advice to Young Men " was never received with more scandalous alternations of slumber and levity than an unworthy but comic nation has given to this impressive production; and I come of too respectable a family to set forth all the awful details of an inexpressible public solemnity merely for the benefit of an unseasonably hilarious populace. When a great and exciting people get down to this depth of irreverence, it is time for Bancroft, Motley, and myself to spare ourselves a little in the more sacred portions of our historical works.
Believing, however, that there may be here and there a reader who, from being married, or from having undertaken to read the last number of the " Atlantic Monthly," is sufficiently wretched in his mind to take an interest in the miseries of his country, I will quote for his benefit a few passages from the dialogue of the terrible drama now acting here:
(The Senate discovered sitting as a Court. Enter Chief Justice, Managers of Impeachment, Counsel for President, and Witnesses.) first manager.
Oh, say, did you see, as aforesaid, one night,
The person now known as ad interim Thomas, Whose broad straps and three stars on his shoulders upright,
The paraphernalia of greatness were rum as ? Did his eyeball's red glare, and his bomb-bursting air, Give proof that the President told him to scare Our War-Office Stanton, and cause him to waive His right to such place in the land of the brave ?
If you fail (said I to him),
Try, try again. Delaware expects you to.
Try, try again. All that other folks can do, Why, with patience, may not yon ? Delaware expects you to,
Try, try again.
If I do (said he to me),
Try, try again, Minister of War to be,
What happens then? What if Congress catch me there ? You'll (said I) be still as fair In the eyes of Delaware.
Try, try again.
'Mid Delaware's apothegms though he may roam, We still can see nothing that brings the charge home; A charm from the skies may well hallow them there, Bat, search through the world, they're not wanted elsewhere.
Come! oome ! But-l-er, come! We wish to hear something that brings the charge home, v first manager.
Witness second, take the stand, - Please to raise your honest hand,
And well swear yon to assert bat what is true. As reporter you'll revamp All that Johnson on his tramp Through the Western States was pleased to say and do. Tramp, tramp, tramp, you went reporting;
Cheer up mem'ry, now, and tell What his speeches were about when the rabble called him out, And you caught his words of anger as they fell.
Witness discreet has lost his sheet, And don't know where to find it; - first manager.
Leave him to show't; he's many a note That carries a tale behind it second witness.
The President's speech I remember right well -
Delivered in Cleveland, before an hotel;
His hearers were chaps in habiliments old,
Who had no large fortunes in silver and gold. Chorus. -" My countrymen,"-Bully for Andy ! - Shut up !
"Allow me to " - Traitor! - You Judas! - You pup ! How 'bout New Orleans! - " Just allow me to say, Ri-tural, ri-tural, ri-tural, ri-day".
Though dear to your heart are the scenes of that wild-mood.
When fond recollection presents them to view, Yet green as the meadow and simple as childhood,
You take us to be, if you think that will do! The cot of your father, the dairy-house nigh it,
You'd doubtless remember, and equally well; But mem'ry's not evidence, -here we deny it, -
And dripping with " coolness " you must be to tell.
We wish to prove respondent drunk For a few days, a few days,
When he was trav'ling with his trunk, A few days on his way.
He tried to speak all night,
" He tried to speak all day;
His pace would tire a bob-tail horse, And turn reporter gray.
If it won't be called a crime we most ask a little time, Whioh, surely, you'll be lib'ral, in according Our witnesses at best are scatter'd East and West, And some are on the other side of Jordan.
He has wounded the country that loved him,
That cherished his image four years, And well give you, his counsel, till Thursday,
For sickness, for sorrow, and tears. Like young birds escaped from the fowler,
You'll chance for the moment to feel; But the snare has been set for the prowler,
And you will be trapped by the steel.
Oh, we will plead on Thursday, and Friday, and next day; But we must not plead on Sunday, when Sabbath schools begin. And we can plead on Monday, and Tuesday, and We'n'sday; But we must not plead on Sunday for that would be a sin.
It is some consolation for the friend of his country and virtue to know, my hoy, that much of this sacred music popular enough to he ground by organs all about the country. Subscribe at once for some party "organ," if you disbelieve me, and the first week's experience of such melody shall make you regret the absence of that enlivening monkey which, when connected with the other organs, not forever imprisoned in an editor's chair.
Orpheus C. Kerr.
• See Appendix, 2.