Oldalképek
PDF

PRENTISS ON CORN WHISKEY.

[S. s. Prentiss, an American politician, noted for his gifts of eloquence as well as his humor, was born at Portland, Me., in 1808. Removed to Mississippi in 1827, where he became an eminent and successful lawyer and Representative in Congress. His powers of sarcasm were notable, and were often felt by his political adversaries. He died in 1850, near Natchez. The sollowing is from Sparks's “Recollections of Fifty Years."]

McNutt was the Democratic candidate for Governor. The campaign was a most animated one, and Prentiss, the Reublican nominee, addressed the people in very nearly every county in the State; the people, en masse, flocked to hear him, and his name was in every mouth. The Democratic nominee did not attempt to meet him on the stump. Prentiss' march through the State was over the heads of the people, hundreds following him from county to county in his ovation. McNutt was a Virginian, and was a man of stupendous abilities; he was a lawyer by rofession, and was Governor of the State. Wext to Poindexter, he was the ablest man who ever filled the chair. Unfortunately, like most of the young and talented of that day in the West, he was too much addicted to the intoxicating bowl. Upon the only meeting of these, Prentiss and McNutt, the latter, in his speech, urged as a reason for the rejection or defeat of the former his dissipated habits, which, he said, were rendering him useless, with all his genius, learning, and eloquence. Prentiss in reply, said: “My fellow-citizens, you have heard the charge against my morals, sagely, and, I had almost said, soberly made by the gentleman, the Democratic nominee for the chief executive office of this State: had I said this, it would have been what the lawyers term a misnomer. It would be impossible for him to do or say anything soberly, for he has been drunk ten years; not yesterday, or last week, in a frolic, or, socially, with the good fellows, his friends, at the genial and generous board—but at home, and by himself and demijohn; not upon the rich wines of the Rhine or the Rhone, the Saone or the Guadalquiver; not with high-spirited or high-witted men, whose souls, when mellowed with glorious wine, leap from their lips sublimated words swollen with wit, or thought brilliant and dazzling as the blood of the grape inspiring them—

no, but by himself: selfish and apart from witty men, or ennobling spirits, in the secret seclusion of a dirty little back-room, and on corn-whiskey !—these only, communing in affectionate brotherhood, the son of Virginia and the spirits of old Kentucky Why, fellow-citizens, as the Governor of the State, he refused to sign the gallon-law until he had tested, ; experiment, that a gallon would do him all day ! “Now I will admit, fellow-citizens, that sometimes, when in the enjoyment of social communion with gentlemen, I am made merry with these, and the rich wines of glorious France. It is then I enjoy the romance of life. Imagination stimulated with the juice of the grape, gave to the world the Song of Solomon, and the Psalms of that old poet of the Lord— glorious old David. “The immortal verse of wandering old Homer, the blind son of Scio's isle, was the inspiration of Samian wine, and good old Noah, too, would have sung some good and merry song, from the inspiration of the juice of the vine, he planted, but having to wait so long, his thirst, like the Democratic nominee's here, became so i. that he was tempted to drink too eeply, and got too drunk to sing; and this, I fancy, is the true reason why this distinguished gentleman never sings. “Perhaps there is no music in his soul. The glug-glug-glug of his jug, as he tilts and pours from its reluctant mouth the corn-juice so loved of his soul, is all the music dear to his ear, unless it be the saille i." it disappears down his rapacious throat. Now, fellow-citizens, during this ardent campaign, which has been so fatiguing, I have only been drunk once. Over in Simpson County I was compelled to sleep in the same bed with this joi nominee—this delight of the Democracy— this wonderful exponent of the principles and practices of the unwashed Democrac —and in the morning I found myself drunk on corn whiskey; I had lain too close to this soaked mass of Democracy, and was drunk from absorption.” This was more than the Governor could stand, and, amidst the shouts and laughter of the assembled multitude, he left the stand, and declined to meet again, before the W; the young Ajax-Telamon of the Whig party.

CORWIN'S REPLY TO McCRARY.

[Thomas Corwis, an American advocate and politician, was born in Kentucky in 1794, died at Washington, D.C., in 1865. He early acquired distinction at the bar, and his rare talent for public oratory, brought him many political honors. Representative in Congress from Ohio in 1830–40, and again in 1859-61, he was chosen Governor of Ohio in 1840, Senator from 1845– 50, Secretary of the Treasury 1850–53, and Minister to Mexico in 1862. Mr. Corwin was one of the few natural orators who have risen without the advantages of liberal education to the highest honors. His intellect was keen and analytical, his power of statement masterly, and his command of the lighter weapons of ridicule and satire unrivalled among his contemporaries. His speeches in political campaigns drew great crowds, who were alternately kindled by his soaring flights of eloquence and convulsed by his humorous sallies, which were set off by a facial expression so mobile and irresistibly comic, that it was often remarked that when Tom Corwin took to politics, the stage lost a great comic actor. His colloquial powers were brilliant, and he was the centre of a throng of amused and eager listeners in every company where he was present.

The following is extracted from Mr. Corwin's impromptu speech in reply to General Crary of Michigan, a pompous little militia general, who had attacked in Congress the military judgment and well-won fame of General W. H. Harrison, of Ohio (elected the same year President of the United States.)

If the gentleman from South Carolina Mr. Pickens], and the gentleman from Maine o arris], who consider the Cumberland road a work of mere sectional advantage to a very small portion of the people, have attended to the sage disquisitions of the gentleman from Michigan on the art of war, they must now either come to the conclusion that almost the whole of the gentleman's speech is what oldfashioned people would call a “non sequitur,” or else that this road connects itself with not merely the military defenses of the Union, but is interwoven most intimately with the progress of science, and especially that most difficult of all sciences, the proper application of strategy to the exigencies of barbarian warfare. It will be seen that the farseeing sagacity and long reaching understanding of the gentleman from Michigan has discovered that, before we can vote with a clear conscience on the instructions proposed, we must be well informed as to the number of Indians who fought at the battle of Tippecanoe, in 1811; how these

savages were painted, whether red, black, or blue, or whether all were blended on their barbarian faces. Further, according to his views of the subject, before we vote money to make a road, we must know and approve of what General Harrison thought, said, and did, at the battle of Tippecanoe. Again, upon this process of reasonin we must inquire where a General .# be when a battle begins, especially in the night, and what his position during the fight, and where he should be found when it is over; and particularly how a Kentuckian behaves himself when he hears an Indian war-whoop in day or night. And, after settling all these puzzling proo still we must fully understand ow and by whom the battle of the Thames was fought, and in what manner it then and there became our troops, reular and militia, to conduct themselves. Sir, it must be obvious that if these topics are germain to the subject, then does the Cumberland road encompass all the interests and all the subjects that touch the rights, duties, and destinies of the civilized world; and I hope we shall hear no more from Southern gentlemen of the narrow, sectional, or unconstitutional, character of the proposed measure. That branch of the subject is, I hope, forever quieted, perhaps unintentionally, by the gentleman from Michigan. His military criticism, if it has not answered the purposes intended, has at least, in this way, done some service to the Cumberland road. And if my poor halting comprehension has not blundered, in pursuing the soaring upward flight of my friend from Michigan, he has in this discussion written a new chapter in the “regula philosophandi,” and made not ourselves only, but the whole world his debtors in gratitude, by overturning the old worn-out principles of the “inductive system.” Mr. Speaker, there have been many and ponderous volumes written, and various unctuous discourses delivered, on the doctrine of “association.” Dugald Stewart, a Scotch gentleman of no mean pretensions in his day, thought much and wrote much concerning that principle in mental philosophy; and Brown, another of the same school, but of later date, has also written and said much on the subject. This latter gentleman, I think, calls it “suggestion,” but never, I venture to say, did any metaphysician, pushing his researches furthest and deepest into that occult science, dream that would come to #. which we have discovered and clearly eveloped—that is, that two subjects so unlike as an appropriation to a road in 1840, and the tactics proper in Indian war in 1811 were not merely akin, but actually, identically, the same. Mr. Speaker, this discussion, I should think, if not absolutely absurd and utterly ridiculous, which my respect for the gentleman from Michigan and the American Congress will not allow me to suppose, has elicited another trait in the American character which has been the subject of reat admiration with intelligent travelers from the old world. Foreigners have admired the ease with which we Yankees, as they call us, can turn our hands to any business or pursuit, public or private; and this has been brought forward by our own people as a proof that man, in this reat and free republic is a being very ar superior to the same animal in other parts of the globe less favored than ours. A proof of the most convincing character of this truth, so flattering to our national pride, is exhibited before our eyes in the gentleman from Michigan delivering to the world a grave lecture on the campaigns of General Harrison, including a variety of very interesting military events in the years 1811, 1812, and 1813. In all other countries, and in all former times, before now, a gentleman who would either speak or be listened to, on the subject of war, involving subtle criticisms on strategy, and careful reviews of marches, sieges, battles, regular and casual, and irregular onslaughts, would be required to show, first, that he had studied much, investigated fully, and digested well, the science and history of his subject. But here, sir, no such painful preparation is required; witness the gentleman from Michigan. He has announced to the House that he is a militia general on the peace establishment. That he is a lawyer we know, tolerably well read in Tidd's practice and Espinasse's Nisi Prius. These studies, so happily adapted to the subject of war, with an appointment in the militia in time of peace, furnish him at once with all the knowledge necessary to discourse to us, as from high authority, upon all the mysteries in the “trade of death.” Again, Mr. Speaker, it must

occur to every one that we, to whom these questions are submitted and these criticisms are addressed, being all colonels at least, and most of us, like the gentleman himself, brigadiers, are, of all conceivable tribunals, best qualified to decide any nice Fo connected with military Science. hope the House will not be alarmed by an impression that I am about to discuss one or the other of the o questions now before us at length, but I wish to submit a remark or two, by way of preparing us for a proper appreciation of the merits of the discourse we have heard. I trust, as we are all brother officers, that the so from Michigan and the two undred and forty colonels or generals of this honorable House, will receive what I have to say, as coming from an old brother in arms, and addressed to them in a spirit of candor,

Such as becomes comrades free, Reposing after victory.

Sir, we all know the military studies of the gentleman from Michigan before he was promoted. . I take it to be beyond a reasonable doubt, that he had poused with great care the title-page of “Baron Steuben.” Nay, I go further; as the

entleman has incidentally assured us he is prone to look into musty and neglected volumes, I venture to assert, without vouching the fact from personal knowledge, that he has prosecuted his researches so far as to be able to know, that the rear rank stands right behind the front. This, I think, is fairly inferable from what I understand him to say of the two lines of encampment at Tippecanoe. Thus we see, Mr. Speaker, that |. gentleman from Michigan, so far as study can give us knowledge of a subject, comes before us with claims of great profundity. But this is a subject which, of all others, requires the aid of actual experience to make us wise. Now the gentleman from Michigan, being a militia general, as he has told us, his brother officers, in a simple statement has revealed the glorious history of toils, privations, sacrifices, and bloody scenes, through which we know, from experience and observation, a militia officer in time of peace is sure to pass. We all, in fancy, now see the gentleman from Michigan in that most dangerous and glorious event in the life of a militia general on the peace establishment—a parade day!, The day for which all the other days of his life seem to have been made. We can see the troops in motion; umbrellas, hoe and ax-handles and other like deadly implements of war, overshadowing all the field, when lo! the leader of the host approaches, “Far off his coming shines;” his plume, white, after the fashion of the great Bourbon, is of ample length, and reads its doleful history in the bereaved necks and bosoms of forty neighboring hen roosts l Like the great Suwaroff, he seems somewhat careless in forms and points of dress; hence his epaulettes may be on his shoulders, back or sides, but still gleaming, loriously gleaming in the sun. Mounted e is, too, let it not be forgotten. Need I describe to the colonels and generals of this honorable House the steed, which heroes bestride on such occasions? No, I see the memory of other days is with you. You see before you the gentleman from Michigan mounted on his cropeared, bushy-tailed mare, the singular obliquity of whose hinder limbs is described in the most expressive phrase, “sickle hams”; her hio just fourteen hands, “all told;" yes, sir, there you see his “steed that laughs at the shaking of the spear;” that is his “war-horse whose neck is clothed with thunder.” Mr. Speaker, we have glowing descriptions in history, of Alexander the Great and his war-horse Bucephalus, at the head of his invincible Macedonian phalanx, but, sir, such are the improvements of modern times, that every one must see that our militia general, with his crop-eared mare with bushy tail and sickle ham, would literally frighten off a battle-field a hundred Alexanders. But, sir, to the parade day. The general thus mounted and equipped is in the field, and ready for action. On the eve of some desperate enterprise, such as giving order to shoulder arms, it may be there occurs a crisis, one of the accidents of war, which no sagacity could foresee or prevent. A cloud rises and passes over the sun Here an occasion occurs for the display of that greatest of all traits in the character of a commander, that tact which enables him to seize upon and turn to good account events unlooked for as they arise. Now for the caution wherewith the Roman

Fabius foiled the skill and courage of Hannibal. A retreat is ordered, and troops and general, in a twinkling, are found safely bivouacked in a neighborin grocery! But even here the general stil has room for the exhibition of heroic deeds. Hot from the field, and chafed with the untoward eyents of the day; your general unsheaths his trenchant Šiši. eighteen inches in length, as you will remember, and with energy and remorseless fury he slices the watermelons that lie in heaps around him and shares them with his surviving friends. Other of the sinews of war are not wanting here. Whiskey, Mr. Speaker, that great leveler of modern times, is here also, and the shells of the watermelons are filled to the brim. Here again, Mr. Speaker, is shown, how the extremes of barbarism and civilization meet. As the Scandinavian Heroes of old, after the fatigues of war, drank wine from the skulls ; their slaughtered enemies, in Odin's Halls, so now our militia general and his forces, from the skulls of melons thus vanquished, in copious draughts of whiskey assuage the heroic fire of their souls, after the bloody scenes of a parade day. But, alas, for this short-lived race of ours, all things will have an end, and so even is it with the lorious achievements of our general. #. is on the wing and will not stay his flight; the sun, as if frightened at the mighty events of the day, rides down the sky, and at the close of the day, when “the hamlet is still,” the curtain of night drops upon the scene; “And glory, like the phoenix in its fires, Exhales its odors, blazes and expires.” We now come to see something of the man, the general, whose military history our able and experienced general from Michigan has reviewed. We know that debates like this have sometimes been had in the British Parliament. There, I believe, the discussion was usually conducted by those in the House, who have seen, and not merely heard, of service. We all know, that Colonel Napier has in several volumes, reviewed the campaigns of Wellington, and criticised the movements and merits of Beresford, and Soult, and Massena, and many others, quite, yes, I say quite as well known in military history as any of us, not even excepting our general from Michigan. We respect the opinions of Napier, because we know, he not only thought of war, but that he fought too. We respect and admire that combination of military skill, with profound statesmanlike views, which we find in “Caesar's Commentaries,” because we know the “mighty Julius” was a soldier, trained in the field and inured to the accidents and dangers of war. But, sir, we generals of Congress require, no such painful lion; to give value to our opinions. We men of the nineteenth century know all things instinctively. We understand perfectly the military art by nature. Yes, sir, the notions of the gentleman from Michigan, agree exactly with a sage by the name of “Dogberry,” who insisted, that “reading and writing come by nature.” Mr. Speaker we have heard and read enough of the “advance of knowledge, the improvements of the species and the great march of mind,” but never till now have we understood the extent of meaning in these pregnant hrases. For instance, the gentleman rom Michigan asserts that General Harrison has none of the qualities of a general because at the battle of Tippecanoe he was found at one time at a distance from his tent, urging his men on to battle. He exposed his person too much, it seems. He should have staid at his tent, and waited for the officers to come to him for orders. Well sir, see now to what conclusion this leads us. Napoleon seized a standard at Lodi, and . in front of his columns across a narrow bridge, which was swept by a whole park of German artillery. Hence, Napoleon was no officer; he did not know how to command an army. He, like Harrison, exposed his person too much. Oh, Mr. Speaker, what a pity for poor Napoleon that he had not studied Steuben, and slaughtered watermelons, with us natural-born generals of this great age of the world ! Sir, it might have altered the map of Europe; nay, changed the destinies of the world ! Something was said by the gentleman from Michigan about the encampment at Tippecanoe. If I understood him rightly, he condemned it as injudicious, because it had a river on one side and a morass on another. Now, Mr. Speaker, I shall give no opinion on the question thus stated; but it just now occurs to me that this very subject, which I think in the military vocabulary is called castrametation, admits of some serious injury bear

ing upon the criticism under consideration. In almost all scientific research, we find that what is now reduced to system, and arises to the dignity of science, was at first the product of some casualty, which, falling under the notice of some reflecting mind, gave rise to surprising results. The accidental falling of an apple developed the great law of gravitation. I am sure I have somewhere seen it stated that Pyrrhus, the celebrated king of Epirus, who is allowed by all authority to have been the first general of his time, first learned to fortify his camp by having a river in his rear and a morass on his flank; and this was first suggested to him, by seeing a wild boar, when hunted to desperation, back himself against a tree or rock that he may, fight his pursuers, without danger of his being assailed in his rear. Now, sir, if I comprehend the gentleman from Michigan, he has against him on his point not only the celebrated king of Epirus, but also the wild boar, who it seems, was the tutor of Pyrrhus, in the art of castrametation. Here then, are two approved authorities, one of whom nature taught the art of war, as she kindly did us colonels, and the other that renowned hero of Epirus, who gave the Romans so much trouble in his time. These authorities are near two thousand years old, and, as far as I know, unquestioned, till the gentleman from Michigan attacked them yesterday. Here again, I ask who shall decide? Pyrrhus and the boar on one side, and the gentleman from Michigan on the other. Sir, I decline jurisdiction of the question, and leave the two hundred and forty colonels of this House to settle the contest, “non nostrum tautas compomere lites.”

THE EDINBURGH LADIES' PETITION

To DR. MOYES, WITH LORD BY Rox's REPLY.

Dear Doctor, let it not transpire
How much your lectures we admire,
How at your eloquence we wonder,
When you explain the cause of thunder;
Of lightning and of electricity,
With so much plainness and simplicity;
The origin of rocks and mountains,
Of seas and rivers, lakes and fountains,

« ElőzőTovább »