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not attempt to give an idea of one of the many I recollect, for fear of doing injustice to his very great talents. His respected widow, living in Philadelphia, has some of his MSS. in her possession, and will, I hope, soon present a memoir of her gifted husband.
Conrad was more fortunate. He printed much that he spoke and wrote. He was the editor of the Philadelphia North American for a time, while I was editor of the Philadelphia Pennsylvanian, and we had many exciting controversies. The Whigs were sure that he had the best of me during the Mexican war, and the Democrats were as sure I had the best of him : but neither side knew that more than once the severest things we said of each other were written when we were dining together at the same table, and in the midst of mutual discussion and good nature. There were not many days of that heated and angry period that we did not meet as bosom friends; and when his last remains were borne to their repose, I followed among those who mourned the loss of one of the richest intellects and warmest hearts in the ranks of men. Few did more varied labor in life. He was a splendid journalist, orator, and dramatist, and alternated from one practical post to the other; was a good judge, a brave mayor of Philadelphia, and a vigorous railroad president. He lives in some of the finest lyrics of the language, and in his great play of “Jack Cade,” which holds the stage with tenacious popularity. Had he figured in Congress he would be classed among the Wirts, the Prentisses, the Benjamins, and the Prestons, masters, as they were, of the school of graceful eloquence, precisely as Barton would have figured among the original Randolphs, the sarcastic McDuffies, the imperious Marshalls, and the fiery Poindexters.
[February 19, 1871.]
The 3d of February, 1860, was one of the coldest days I ever knew in Washington, and the night was especially severe. The effort to elect a Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, though not so long as that of 1855-56, when General Banks was chosen, was equally exciting; and when ex-Governor William Pennington, of New Jersey, was declared presiding officer of that body on the ist, the next point of interest was the choice of a Clerk. It was a period of anxious solicitude to patriotic men. The possibilities of secession began to multiply. The North was determined, the South defiant; Douglas had been re-elected Senator from Illinois in spite of “my Lord Cardinal ;” Broderick had been killed in the previous September; Reeder, who had been removed by Presi: dent Pierce from the governorship of Kansas, had been chosen delegate from that territory, and was on the floor contesting the seat of J. W. Whitfield, who had got the certificate. John Schwartz had defeated the Presidential favorite, J. Glancy Jones, in Berks County ; Hickman had been returned by an enormously increased majority ; Haskin, of the Yonkers district, New York, had triumphed in his open record of open hostility to the Administration. Instead of getting at least fifty Democrats in Congress from the three States of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, they got but two from the first, but five from the second, and but two from the third. John W. Geary and Robert J. Walker had followed the example of Andrew H. Reeder, and had given their experience as governors of Kansas in fearless scorn of the frauds of the slaveholder.
On the cold Friday referred to, February 3, 1860, I was elect-. ed Clerk of the House, by a single vote, over all others. It was the last drop in the bitter bowl of Democratic disappointment, and it created an overflow of anger on the one side and
of satisfaction on the other. The event was naturally most distasteful to President Buchanan, crowning as it did a long and gloomy procession of disasters. On the evening of that Friday a large number of my personal friends met at Mr. John F. Coyle's, whose guest I was, on Missouri Avenue, to celebrate
Ι the event. Among these were many Southerners, and some who had voted against me only a few hours before. As I count over their names, I find that not a few have since been entered on the books of death. Schwartz, Burlingame, Pennington, Eliot, Stevens, have passed away. They were all present. The usual speeches common to such occasions were fired off; the old songs were sung—“John Brown” had not yet become popular—the old jokes repeated. When my time came, I spoke some grateful words to the large crowd in the streets and the hilarious company in the rooms. It was fair poetical justice to remind the Administration of their persecution of the men who had resisted Lecompton, and of the vindication of these men by the people in the elections; and as I stood out on the balcony I thought of the famous lines of Lord Byron in “Mazeppa :"
“They little thought, that day of pain,
When launched, as on the lightning's flash,
They bade me to destruction dash,
With twice five thousand horse, to thank
They played me then a bitter prank,
They bound me to his foaming flank.
At length I played them one as frank,
And if we do but watch the hour,
There never yet was human power
The patient watch and vigil long
Of him who treasures up a wrong." But, like many an unfortunate in a similar situation, the whole
stanza escaped my memory, and I could only refer to it. James S. Jackson, of Kentucky, one of the bravest and best men I ever knew, stood at my side, and I asked him, sotto voce, to help me out.
“Remember it yourself, you infernal Black Republican,” was his quick reply, and I finished my remarks as best I could. Jackson was elected to Congress from his State as a Union man in 1861, and before the expiration of his term raised a regiment of Kentucky volunteers, and was killed in the battle of Perryville in 1862. Mr. Lincoln had just made him a brigadier-general. He died too soon. Nature had been prodigal of her gifts to Jackson. To a face of singular, almost feminine beauty, was added the graceful form of an athlete and the manners of a Chesterfield. He took the right side in a community tainted with wrong views. It would have been far easier for him to have followed his intimate friends Breckinridge, Hawkins, and Preston into the Confederate service, and it was a hard struggle to differ with them, but he did it bravely, preserving their love in life, and calling out their manly sorrow over his gallant death.
At the risk of talking a little more about myself than I care to do, I venture to reproduce the following from the speech of Hon. John B. Haskin, of New York, on that memorable evening:
“A short time ago the New York Herald had, at the instigation of Mr. Buchanan, as he knew, revived the Forrest letter, and had suggested that it be read from the Clerk's desk when Forney was nominated. Singularly enough, this had not been done, but, expecting that it would be, Colonel Forney had addressed him a letter in relation to this famous Forrest letter, so much misconstrued. He would have read this letter in the House, but there was no necessity for it. He would now read it, however, as he knew those present would like to hear it. The following is the letter:
THE FORREST LETTER.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 1860. “ My DEAR SIR,—I need not repeat to you that my name has been associated with the position of Clerk of the House, rather through the partiality of kind friends like yourself than because of any efforts of my own to become a candidate. I have importuned no single Representative for his vote. In the present condition of politics I have preferred to let events take their course, so far as I am concerned, maintaining the position I have held for the last two years of uncompromising hostility to the proscriptive and shameless policy of the present Administration of the General Government, and of hearty co-operation with all men who look to the overthrow of that Administration, its advocates and its indorsers. I have been informed, however, that, if my name should be presented to the House, an issue is to be made on account of a letter which I wrote nearly ten years ago, in connection with the case of Mr. Edwin Forrest. I had hoped that no one would be found willing to make this act of devotion to a cherished, and, as I believed, deeply injured friend, the pretext of an assault upon my reputation. If in writing this letter I committed an error, I only became conscious of it when I saw how it could be misconstrued ; and, if I needed any assurances that this error had been overlooked, I had it in my re-election to the Clerkship of the House in 1853, in the unanimous indorsement of my conduct by members of all parties of that body after I had presided over the deliberations of the House in the stormy struggle of 1855 and 1856, in my nomination, by the Democrats of the Pennsylvania Legislature, as their candidate for United States Senator in 1857, and in the repeated voluntary tenders of distinguished official position by the present President of the United States, who has not permitted the recollection of my many years of championship of his aspirations to outweigh the fact that I could not conscientiously follow him in his abandonment and violation of the pledges and principles upon which alone he was chosen Chief Magistrate. I will not imitate the example set by his personal organ, the New York Herald, in making the revelation of a private letter a matter of public discussion. If I could sink so low, I might find additional evidence of the fact, over his own name, that my connection with the Forrest case never deprived me of a particle of his confidence and affection, which up to a certain period he so freely and so flatteringly bestowed upon me.
"You can make any use of this note you see proper. Should the House elect me Clerk, I will accept the office and discharge the duties in the spirit in which it is conferred. Should the result be otherwise, my position will remain unchanged. I have tried the experiment of conducting an independent journal against all the office-holding power of the Federal Govern