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by all the Pennsylvania politicians. Muhlenberg won the nomination, and Buchanan lost Muhlenberg's confidence.
He died before the election, on the 12th of August, 1844, and the flag of the party was placed in the hands of his defeated competitor, Francis R. Shunk, who was elected in October of the same year. Had Muhlenberg lived, with his large wealth, fine acquirements, and winning manners, he would have been the most formidable enemy of Buchanan's Presidential aspirations. As it was, his successor, Governor Shunk, soon got into collision with Buchanan, not because he deserved that fate, but because of his inability or the inability of any aspirant for the Presidency to steer by devious courses between rival candidates for other and inferior places. Mr. Buch nan at la secured the nomination for the Presidential bauble, and there was, I think, no living Muhlenberg who supported him, except the venerable Dr. Muhlenberg at Lancaster.
[April 16, 1871.]
The wit and sentiment of the dinner-table, encircled by intelligent men and women, if they could have been recorded, say for the last thirty years, would be a treasure above price. Flashed out under the influences of generous fare and refined familiarity, they startle or delight, like so many meteors, and are as speedily forgotten, or, if remembered at all, never repeated with their original brilliancy. The only man alive that I know, for instance, who can tell us about Daniel Webster at the dinner-table, is the world-known host of the Astor House, New York, Charles Stetson. I saw him a few weeks since, and found him as genial and as full of incident as he was when I first met, under his storied roof, the leading characters of the
period-between 1846 and 1851—when John Van Buren, Henry J. Raymond, George Law, Horace Greeley, James T. Brady, E. B. Hart, John Brougham, Daniel E. Sickles, Edwin Forrest, Thurlow Weed, Dean Richmond, Henry G. Stebbins, Peter Cagger, congregated there in social intercourse, to discuss politics and poetry, science and art, steam-ships and railroads, candidates and creeds. This goodly company is now widely scattered. Some have been introduced to the mysteries beyond the grave. Webster, John Van Buren, James T. Brady, Dean Richmond, Peter Cagger, Henry J. Raymond, are entered upon the endless roll of death. Thurlow Weed is writing his memories in honored and philosophical retirement; George Law is living respected upon his immense fortune, the product of a career of unmatched energy; Marshall O. Roberts, after an experience of even greater daring and progress, emerges from his repose to lend his large wealth and ripe judgment to the grandest of all the Pacific railroads; Horace Greeley vibrates between his editorial room and his farm, happy in his perfect independence and in the consciousness that he has secured the golden opinions of all sorts of people; Daniel E. Sickles crowns a stormy and brilliant life as his country's representative at one of the oldest European courts; John Brougham is as fertile, alike as actor and author, as he was in 1851; Forrest, after fifty years' service on the stage, is slowly withdrawing from an arena in which he has all this long period figured as the uncontested monarch, living on the rich harvest of his brain in his noble mansion in Philadelphia, surrounded by his books, which he enjoys with a student's zest, and by his engravings, his photographs, his pictures, and his statuary; Colonel Stebbins is the beloved centre of a circle of devoted friends, the patron of art, the philosopher, the statesman, the advanced Democrat who was chosen to Congress without solicitation, and resigned because if he voted with the men who elected him he would dishonor himself, and if he voted against them he would betray them—the Republican who dines at the Democratic Manhattan Club, and still associates with those who know he differs from them from honest convictions; E. B. Hart, the leading representative and the best type of the Hebrews of New York, watching the vast charities of his race as their trustee and counselor. The Astor House, once the chosen rendezvous of these men and their contemporaries, sees them rarely within its honored walls. The wave of fashion and of wealth has carried them up town. Business holds them only a few hours in its vicinity; the afternoon and night find them in their distant homes, or in the more convenient clubs and hotels that have risen like so many palaces along and near the magnificent avenues stretching toward the Central Park.
Ah! that I could recall and describe the happy hours I have spent with most of these men—the humor, the sentiment, the learning, the information, that made our meetings so pleasant and profitable. They are gone, like many who mingled in our delightful symposia.
One of these I specially cherish. It was a night spent with Forrest, George W. Barton, James T. •Brady, E. B. Hart, Elliott (the matchless portrait-painter), William A. Seaver, one of the choice writers for Harper's Magazine and Weekly, Lewis Gaylord Clark, of The Knickerbocker, Captain Hunter, of the navy, and one or two more I can not recollect. The speech of Barton, the anecdotes and imitations of Forrest, the jokes of Clark, the repartees of Brady, the art-history of Elliott, the sealegends of Hunter-I bear them all in memory, and almost see their faces, though more than twenty years have gone, and the flowers and verdure of this early spring are blossoming and growing above the graves of Brady, Elliott, and Hunter.
John Van Buren was the despot of the dinner-table. He had a way of assuming the command that made him resistless, and he had the bearing, the voice, and the domination that
seemed to give equity to the title of "Prince," bestowed by his enemies and adopted by his friends.
James T. Brady's massive head, with its coronal of curls, his graceful form, electric wit, ready rhetoric, and Irish enthusiasm-how I see and hear and feel them all, now that he, too, like Van Buren, has been gathered by the great Shepherd to the eternal fold.
The best dinner-table orator, the sharpest wit when the cloth is removed, the most genial of public hosts, is my dear friend, Morton McMichael, of Philadelphia: Time has not withered him, either in humor or digestion, judging by my last two experiences: that when he spoke to the trustees of the Peabody fund, some weeks ago, at the Continental Hotel, in Philadelphia, and that when he presided over the dinner given by the journalists of Philadelphia to Colonel Charles J. Biddle, the editor of The Age, the Democratic organ of Pennsylvania.
Probably no man ever lived in this country who made, at least in his short career, more impression upon society generally than John T. S. Sullivan, a Boston-born gentleman, the college-mate of Charles Sumner, who removed to Philadelphia, and died there on the 31st of December, 1848, aged thirty-five. He was singularly, perhaps dangerously, gifted. Lawyer, orator, scholar, and man of society, loved alike by men and women, he passed away too early, but left behind him a name never to be forgotten by his friends.
Nobody I know excels Daniel Dougherty, of Philadelphia, in ready wit at the dinner-table, in powers of imitation, in graceful conversation, and apt response. He is our James T. Brady. Gray hairs are gathering over you, dear friend, but you have preserved an unspoiled name, and are growing in wisdom and caution with increasing greenbacks and years.
[April 23, 1871.)
A GREAT many people who read the proceedings of Congress puzzle themselves with the question what is meant by the executive session of the Senate of the United States. This session is, in fact, the Masonry of American legislation. There is perhaps nothing like it in civilized government, although the theory of it pervades the administration of all nations. This theory is that there are certain things in public affairs which can not be intrusted to the public. Among these are treaties with foreign powers, and important official nominations. To discuss these in the presence of an inquisitive newspaper world would be to reveal to outside rivals much that ought to be concealed, and to expose private character to universal criticism. The executive session of the Senate is in many respects like the confidential meetings of the Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, and the Masons, without partaking of any of the peculiar traits of these honored and honorable orders. When the Senate resolves to go into executive session the galleries are cleared of spectators, and the newspaper and Globe reporters retire, frequently with a gladsome smile, because, in many cases, they have become fatigued with the “damnable (rhetorical) iteration.” Our friend Murphy, the pleasant successor of the venerable Mr. Sutton, with his official corps of rapid and ravenous short-handers — who transcribe the oratorical volume poured out day after day by the Senate, and poured into the columns of The Globe-recedes to his little room when the president announces that the Senate will go into executive session, unutterably relieved. Sometimes a motion to go into executive session is carried before a word has been spoken in public debate, and that is the welcome exception to Murphy. I wish I could tell you all that transpires when the doors of the Senate are shut, and the spectators and newspaper men are driven out;