Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

6

•What! dead ?' said he. 'Indeed you are,' the grim old churl replied.

Why, then, I'll miss the night at Coyle's,' the gentleman replied. “Old Charon ferried him across the dirty, sluggish tide,

But he swore he would not tarry long upon the farther side;
The ancient ghosts came flocking round upon the Stygian shore;
But,' said he, 'excuse me; I must have at Coyle's one frolic more.'
“ He crossed the adamantine halls and reached the ebon throne,

Where gloomy Pluto frowned, and where his queen's soft beauty shone. • What want you here ?' the monarch said. “Your Majesty,' said he,

*Permission at one frolic more at Johnny Coyle's to be.
6'Tis not for power or wealth or fame I hanker to return,

Nor that love's kisses once again upon my lips may burn;
Let me but once more meet the friends that long have been so dear,

And who, if I'm not there, will say, “Would God that he were here !" ? ' If it's good company you want,' the King said, ' we've the best

Philosophers, poets, orators, wits, statesmen, and the rest,
The courtiers of the good old times, the gentlemen most rare.'
Says he, ‘With those I'll meet at Coyle's your folks will not compare.'
Says the King: 'There's Homer here, and all the bards of ancient Greece,
And the chaps that sailed away so far to fetch the Golden Fleece;
We've Tully, Horace, and Montaigne.' Says he,'I'll match the lot,

If you'll let me go to Johnny Coyle's and fetch them on the spot.'
« • Enough !' old Pluto cried; "the law must be enforced. 'Tis plain,
If with those fellows once you get, you'll ne'er return again;
One night would not content you, and your face would ne'er be seen,

After that night at Johnny Coyle's, by me or by my queen.
“. And if all these fellows came at once, what would become of us ?

They'd drown old Charon in the Styx, and murder Cerebus;
Make love to all the women here, and even to my wife;
Drink all my liquor up, and be the torment of my life.'"

66

[ocr errors]

The portraits in the private volume before me of the chief actors in this humorous drama are preceded by that of Pike himself, who is described by one of them, Dr. Shelton Mackenzie, as “a stalwart figure, large and lofty, with keen eyes, a nose reminding one of an eagle's beak, a noble head firmly placed between a pair of massive shoulders, and flowing locks nearly

[blocks in formation]

half way down his back.” He may be seen in Washington City any day, where he now practices his profession, in company with ex-Senator R. W. Johnson, of Arkansas, whose fine face smiles upon me from the same pages. Here we have Elias Rector, the famous Indian agent of the same State, whose life has been almost as romantic as that of Pike, and whose conversation was as unique as his anecdotes were fresh; then kindhearted Arnold Harris, of Tennessee, whose well-remembered song, "Miss Patsey," accompanied by his odd negro dance, recalls his features, even better than his photograph, from beyond the

grave; then“Father” Kingman, the rich and retired “Ion” of the Baltimore Sun; then Alexander Dimitry," that peripatetic encyclopedia,” says Dr. Mackenzie, “who is popularly believed to have intimate acquaintance with all the dead languages, and also with the tongues of nearly every undiscovered country in the world. He translates their books, he speaks their tongues, he knows the variety of their dialects, he remembers their ballads, and sings them splendidly, occasionally translating them into good Anglo-Saxon verse for the benefit of the unlearned. I shall not soon forget the ore rotundo swell of his organ-like tones, deep and resonant as those which Lablache used to pour out from his capacious chest.” There are many more of these portraits, but these will suffice to give some idea of the pleasant and profitable pastimes of the men of thought and action at the nation's capital ten, fifteen, twenty years ago.

[February 4, 1872.]

LVII.

Is it not true that the public men best abused are the best remembered ? Certainly Andrew Jackson looms up through all the mists and misrepresentations of the past like a great statue founded as if to last forever. Witness the tribute paid to his memory by Henry A. Wise in his just-published booka book bitter enough as regards Benton and others, but abounding in compliments to the hero President, of whom Wise, during his early career in Congress, was perhaps the most violent assailant. Witness, also, the extraordinary memoir of James Parton, the most caustic and remorseless of critics. Never shall I forget the eulogy of George Bancroft, pronounced twenty-six years ago, while he was Secretary of the Navy under President Polk, after the intelligence of the death of Jackson had been received in Washington. The affluence of genius never produced a more exquisite offspring. The rapidity with which it was prepared, the fervor with which it was pronounced, and its effect upon the public mind, excited the wonder and delight of the followers of Old Hickory; and if you turn to it now you will find it surpassed by nothing in the interesting volume which preserves the “ Jackson Obsequies.” At the end of nearly a generation, we find the ardent expressions of a partisan Cabinet Minister equaled by the more deliberate praise of former political adversaries. Why is this? Simply because Andrew Jackson's inspiration through his whole life was a passionate love of the Union—a fixed and even ferocious determination to put down its enemies at whatever hazard or cost. Henry Clay and Daniel Webster live in the affections of posterity more because they were animated by the same principle, than because of the fame of the one as an orator and the other as a statesman and jurist. They forgot party when their country was in peril, burying or postponing animosities as against even their severest foe, Andrew Jackson, when he struck the key-note and declared that "the Union must and shall be preserved." Something like this was the scene between George Wolf and Thaddeus Stevens, some thirty-six years ago, when in the midst of the anti-Masonic excitement which Stevens headed against Wolf, Dallas, Rev. Mr. Sprole, and other Masonic dignitaries-even

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

to the extent of threatening them with imprisonment_Wolf and Stevens forgot their envenomed quarrel in the ardor with which they together pressed forward the great cause of popular education. No name can perish from memory or history that is truly identified with civilization and liberty. I was talking of these things the other day with an old Ohio Whig, at present a Republican, when he related an anecdote of Old Hickory which I had never heard before, and which I think worth preserving. After Jackson's first election in 1828, a strong effort was made to remove General — an old Revolutionary soldier, at that time postmaster in one of the principal New York towns. He had been so fierce an Adams man that the Jackson men determined to displace him. He was no stranger to Jackson, who knew him well, and was conscious of his private worth and public services; but as the effort to get his place was a determined one, General — resolved to undertake a journey to Washing

a ton for the purpose of looking after his case. Silas Wright had just left his seat as a Representative in Congress from New York. Never was the Empire State more ably represented. Cool, honest, profound, and subtle, Mr. Wright was precisely the man to head a movement against the old postmaster. His influence with Jackson was boundless. His force in debate made him a match for the giants themselves; and as Mr. Van Buren was then Jackson's Secretary of State, the combination was powerful. The old postmaster, knowing that these two political masters were against him, called upon the President immediately upon his arrival, and was most courteously received and requested to call again, which he did several times, but nothing was said about the post-office. Finally the politicians finished their protest, and sent it forward to Mr. Wright, with the request that it should be delivered at the first opportunity. The old postmaster heard from his friends at home that the important document was on its way, so he resolved on a coup de main. The next day there was a Presidential reception, and

:

among the early visitors was General - After a cordial greeting by Jackson, he quietly took his seat, and waited until the long train of visitors had duly saluted the nation's Chief and passed through the grand East Room on their way home. The President turned to his venerable guest with some surprise as he noticed him still seated on one of the sofas, and entered into familiar conversation with him, when, to his amazement, the old soldier said, “General Jackson, I have come here to talk to you about my office. The politicians want to take it from me, and they know I have nothing else to live upon." The President made no reply, till the aged postmaster began to take off his coat in the most excited manner, when Old Hickory broke out with the inquiry : “What in Heaven's name are you going to do? Why do you take off your coat in this public place ?" "Well, sir, I am going to show you my wounds, which I received in fighting for my country against the English !" “Put it on at once, sir !" was the reply ; “I am surprised that a man of your age should make such an exhibition of himself," and the eyes of the iron President were suffused with tears, as without another word he bade his ancient foe good-evening. The very next night the crafty and able New York politician called at the White House and sent in his card. He was immediately ushered into the presence, and found Jackson, in loose gown and slippers, seated before a blazing wood fire, quietly smoking his long pipe. After the ordinary courtesies had been exchanged, the politician opened his budget. He represented the district from which the venerable postmaster hailed ; said the latter had been known as a very active advocate of John Quincy Adams; that he had literally forfeited his place by his earnest opposition to the Jackson men, and that if he were not removed, the new Administration would be seriously injured. He had hardly finished the last sentence, when Jackson sprung to his feet, flung his pipe into the fire, and exclaimed, with great vehemence, "I take the consequences, sir ; I take

« PreviousContinue »