John Barr.

Wit and humor of American statesmen; a collection from various sources classified under appropriate subject headings online

. (page 7 of 10)
Online LibraryJohn BarrWit and humor of American statesmen; a collection from various sources classified under appropriate subject headings → online text (page 7 of 10)
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Lord Brougham. They found the nob.
immersed in business, and his reception of the

distinguished American wasexi eedingl]
not to say indifferent. Naturally ''.r rel-
ative was greatly mortified, and asking We
to excuse him a moment he drew Lord BrOUJ
aside, when the following whispered COD
ensued :

"My Lord, do you know who Mr. Webster
j s — h e isSa retary of State of the Unite -

- Why didn't you say so?" was the n

" I thought he was that confounded fellow who

made the dictionary and turned the English

language upside down."

Needless to say, the mistake •••■
and the peer's reception of the gl
became all that could be desired.


" The Sage of Marsh field "

The following characteristic and amusing
anecdotes of Daniel Webster are undeniably
authentic :

Some years ago Mr. Webster paid a profes-
sional visit to Northampton, Mass., one of the
pleasantest inland towns in the State. His
presence there was expected ; and, being the
political idol of a large portion of the community,
preparations had been made to give him a cor-
dial reception by eminent private citizens. The
landlord, too, of the principal inn had prepared
a very handsome suite of apartments for his ex-
press accommodation, and had made arrange-
ments to have the great man occupy them.

At length Mr. Webster arrived, and stopped
at the hotel in question. He was shown to his
quarters, with which he expressed himself well
pleased, until it was incidentally remarked, by
some friend present, that "Northampton was a
temperance town, and that that was a temper-
ance house."


of Bmcrfcan Statesmen in

" Won't you ring the bell for the land]
asked Mr. Webster of a gentleman who
near the bell-pull.

He rang the bell, and the landlord BOOB

"Mr. Brewster," said Mr. V.

you direct me to Genera] L 'a bom

think I will take up my quarters with him."

The landlord, with gre pointmenl

pressed in his face and manner, laid —

" Why, Mr. Webster ! I was in I
rooms would meet your entir- rioo, Wt

have taken great pains to have then
ments such as should please you."

u Your rooms, Mr. B rew ste r , u ent in

every way, — nothing need be u* ■•■
understand your tabic is abundantlv lOppUed
with well-cooked viands. But, Mr. !
understand that your r* ljon

rigid temperance princi] N r air, I ai

old man; my blood is thin, and mom
I require a little stimuli]
old brandy. Mr. Br e wst er 5

" I have some -
Massa husetts, I think," answered the

•• Well, Mr. Bi e wster , have- the i
bring me up a bottle and place it on the little
stand behind that door."

142 lUtt ano Dumot

Mr. Brewster departed, and soon came back
with the desiderated fluid, which he deposited as

"Mr. Brewster," continued Mr. Webster,
" have you any fine old Madeira? "

' ' Yes, Mr. Webster, of the oldest and best

' ' Do you know how to ice it properly, so
that it shall be only just gratefully cool ? "

The landlord answered in the affirmative, and
went down to the cellar for the bottle. When
he came back, he placed it beside the other
bottle in a graduated cooler, and was about to
retire when Mr. Webster said —

"You need be under no apprehension, Mr.
Brewster, that this infraction of the temperance
law of your town will be discovered. I must
needs honor law, being one of its humble minis-
ters, and would not exhibit even a justifiable
evasion of its commands. No, Mr. Brewster,
you leave those bottles there, where they will be
unobserved, and in a short time I will put them
where no human eye can see them."

John Trout, of Sandwich, was the well-known
sobriquet of the fisherman who attended ama-
teur anglers on their excursions. John was not

of Hmerican Statesmen

remarkable for his veracity; quite
when the success of his hook and Lii ■

subject of his story.

One day he was "out" with Mr.
Both were standing in the brook waitu .

tiently for a bite, when Mr. Webster told John
in what manner he had caught a very large
trout on a former occasion.

"Your Honor," said John, "that
well for a gentleman; but on< e, when I
standing by that bush yonder, I took a fish that
weighed two pounds."

"Ah, John, John!'' interrupted Mr. V
ster, "you are an amphibious animal; >
in the water, and you lie out of it."

Webster was once delivering an I
Faneuil Hall on the ne<
ertion and unflinching patriotic
dangers that threatened the j*)litical \
principles he espoused, when he j I
terrible sway of the |
quent on the rush of th<
and noted that dai
stopped short in the middl<
vanced to the I the plati

his arms in an authoritative attil

144 TMt ano Ibumor

stentorian voice, cried out : " Let each man
stand firm." The effect was instantaneous.
Each man stood firm ; the great heaving mass
of humanity regained its equilibrium and, save
the long breath of relief that filled the air, per-
fect stillness ensued. "That," exclaimed the
great orator, " is what we call self-government ! "
— so apt an illustration of the principle he was
expounding that the vast audience responded
with deafening cheers.

Mr. Webster had accepted the office of Secre-
tary of State, but did not meet the new Presi-
dent in Washington until eight or ten days be-
fore the inauguration.

It seems that he had prepared an inaugural
address for General Harrison. One day, among
other arrangements, he suggested to the new
President, in as delicate a way as he could, the
fact that he had sketched an inaugural, know-
ing that General Harrison would be over-
whelmed with calls and business after his elec-
tion, and he himself having leisure to write.
The General at once replied that it was not
necessary ; that he had prepared his own inau-

"Oh, yes," said he; "I have got all that
ready. ' '

of Bmerfcan Statcmcn

"Will you allow n.
read it to-niglu?" asked Mr.

'•Certainly," the President replied, •■
please let me take j

So they exchanged their documents; a:. I
next morning, when they met, (icneral 1:
son said to Mr. Webster :

"If I should read vour inaug
mine, everybody would know that you wrote it,
and that I did not. Now, this is the only < :
paper which I propose to write, t I
tend to interfere with my

is a sort of acknowledgment on my ;
American people of the great In

conferred upon me in elevating I

otii« e ; and although ot

able as yours, still it is mi:.

let the people have it

I must deliver my own instC as."

Mr. Webster deal annoyed lo-

calise the mes
ment and taste, so ina p propriate.

largely into Roman nil
deal to say about the
Roman Proconsuls, and van

kind. Indeed, the
peated in it a great many tin
When he found that tin-

146 tuatt ano Ibumor

upon using his own inaugural, Mr. Webster said
that his desire was to modify it, and to get in
some things that were not there and get out
some things that were there ; for, as it then stood,
he said it had no more to do with the affairs of
the American Government and people than a
chapter of the Koran. Mr. Webster suggested
to General Harrison that he should like to put
in some things, and General Harrison rather
reluctantly consented to let him take it. Mr.
W T ebster spent a portion of the next day in mod-
ifying the inaugural. Mrs. Seaton remarked to
him, when he came home rather late that day,
that he looked fatigued and worried ; but he re-
plied that he was sorry that she had waited
dinner for him.

" That is of no consequence at all, Mr. Web-
ster," she said; "but I am sorry to see you
look so worried and tired. I hope nothing has
gone wrong. I really hope nothing has hap-

" You would think that something had hap-
pened," he replied, " if you knew what I have
done. I have killed seventeen Roman Procon-
suls as dead as smelts every one of them."

11 Way Ddam South"
The late Sen n \ an

— or at lea.^t, everybody who knew him {*■:
ally, was very fond of telling stories. i'
were to visit his native

hear him referred to as Senator — to r

who knew and loved him, and even to his

enemies he was known as Zcb Vance 1

everybody he ever rame in <

refer to him as Zeb. His frie:

s< ores of stories told him by the vetei

lator. One which was a prime favorite with
him ran in this way :

Asheville, which i^ now the no
city in Western North Carolina, was '

small pla< •

the path o\ travel, ami the only man in the

vicinity who could read was .1

name of Brown. When a ]

lished there. Brown was naturally i

master. 1 1
of a sinecure,


148 1UW anfc Ibumor

Brown had a little general store, which was a
favorite lounging place for all the men in the
vicinity. On a winter day, when a crowd was
gathered in the store, some one suggested that
they should subscribe for a weekly paper in
common, so as to be able to keep up with what
was going on in the outer world. This was
done, and the men assembled in the store
weekly to hear Brown read the news.

Brown was very conscientious. He began at
the top of the first column of the first page and
read straight down through the advertisements
and all, just as he came to them. This was a
slow process and several lengthy sittings were
necessary to complete one issue of the paper.
When the spring came and the men were kept
busy with their farm work they found that they
couldn't spare more than a day or two out of a
week for the readings.

Brown found that he was falling behind at
this rate, and when the men began to stay away
except when rain prevented their doing outdoor
work, the papers accumulated on his hands.
He adopted a plan of reading the papers in
order, forming a stack of sheaving, the latest
issue underneath, and taking them off the top
one by one as he came to them, and his auditors
were none the wiser. The stack kept growing

of Bmcncan Statesmen if

upon him, in spite of his b«

the Mexican war broke out there

ble pile to attend to. Since the oeighb i

depended altogether upon the ft

ings for its news, it happened that no

heard anything about the outbreak of tl

until some months after peace bad been de-

The paper containing the first DC
fighting was listened to with
citement, and when battle after battk
about, the excitement be< d'.nc intC
neighbors felt that there was but one thi
them to do as patriotic Americans and the]
it. A military company comprifl
of fighting age within the radius of I
Brown was organized. The men \\<
with flintlock rifles and dressed in
They marched as far as Salisbury bl
were informed of the real state of thinj
war had been over a year. Ti.<
back to Asheville, and Brow:,
the town when the brave soldi* I
they had been duped.

A good story is toM

ferring to a time when h<
canvas for votes in a ba< k ■•■

150 lait anD Dumor

where he was entirely unacquainted. An an-
nouncement that he would speak at a crossroads
settlement, consisting of a grocery store and one
house, brought out about sixty men of voting
age whom he found waiting for him when he
rode up. He dismounted, hitched his horse,
and began to crack jokes in the regulation
backwoods style.

He nattered himself that he was making a
rather favorable impression, but noticed that one
old man with brass-bowed spectacles and an air
of deep thought sat upon an empty box and
drew marks in the sand with a stick, as if
Vance were not worthy of any particular atten-
tion. As Vance expressed it, he thought that
this old man was the bell wether of the flock,
and he accordingly prepared to capture him.
He sidled up to the old man, who leaned for-
ward on his stick and asked solemnly :

" This is Mr. Vance, I believe ? "

"Yes, sir," replied Vance.

" And you've come here to see my boys about
voting ? ' '

"Yes, sir."

"Well, afore you go on I want to ax you a
question or two. What church do you belong

Vance said that this question was a poser, as

of American Statesmen i.m

he didn't really belong to an) church. I

was very important lor him to win ti.<
he decided to make a bluff M he kne..
factional feeling ran high m the He

sqnared himself and .said >lowly : •• Well, my
friend, it's a fair question, and I'll tell \
about it. You see my grandfather < am-
Scotland, and of course he \\ ,

He paused to note the . man

made no sign. "But my grandmol
from England, and the-
the Episcopal Church." 1'
but the old man kept his eyes 00 tin- .

"My father was born in this and

grew up as a Methodist." Still then
sign of approval from the old man.

Vance began to feel uncomfortable,
one last effort. " Hut my m<
and it's my opinion that a ma:
under water to get to heaven."

The old man got up and took \
"You're all right," lie said ami tun.:
crowd went on: "Boya he'll i\o. I I
he looked like a Baptist" The
mountain dew was

ceived the unanimous vote of the neighborhood
when election time came around.

152 Wiit anD Ibumor

Vance once stumped the State in joint debate
with Judge Settle, the Republican candidate for
the Governorship. All the white Democrats
turned out to hear Vance, and the colored Re-
publicans came to hear Settle. At the con-
clusion of the speaking one day, Vance was told
that a number of young women had expressed a
desire to kiss the Democratic candidate.

He stepped down from the platform and
kissed a dozen or so of the pretty young women,
when he stopped long enough to turn around to
his competitor and shout : "I'm kissing my
girls, Settle ; now you kiss yours. ' '


" Out in my state," says a Missouri Congress-
man, " we used to have a Governor by the name
of Stewart. This was way back when I was a
boy. They tell how Stewart, among others,
was once entertaining the Prince of Wales, on
\he occasion many years ago when he visited
this country. They gave a great ball in St.
Louis in the Prince's honor. Stewart came
down from Jefferson City to do credit to it. He
and the Prince were stationed on a little plat-
form raised for them at one side of the hall.
So stationed the beauty and brilliancy, and the
blue blood of St. Louis swept by them in daz-

01 Bmerican Statesmen

zling review. The spectacle

feelings several notches. His bosom BW<

Finally in a tremendous impulse born

and glory, he administered a mighty slap tu the
royal back, and exclaimed :

M Prince, don't you wish you were I
of Missouri ? "

Senator Blackburn is a thorough K'
and has all the local pride of one bom in the
blue-grass section of his State. 1 It-
prejudice against being taken for an Indi
which seems inherent in all native i
tuckians. While coming to
sessions ago, he was approached in the Pullman
coach by a New Yorker, who, after bow;-
litely to him, said :

u Is not this Senator Blackburn of India-

The Kentuckian sprang from his
glaring at his interlocutor ezclaime

" No, sir, by . The H

is I have been si< k

" In anti-bellum d poli-

tician, u it used to be the fashid
ical aspirants for the same offii e tO 5t
district together, each one e
polite to the Senator. Finally he comproo
by saying :

" Well, I'll tell you how it i
You see I's never heard of anybody l>cm'
'lected to anything for what they wa-
didate. Has you, sah ? "

Among the amusing discus I CT«

tain Legislative session at Tallall thai

on a bill of Sullivan's, of Escambia,
for the prompt slaughter of rabid d
Reading Clerk had jusl read the title wo
colored man, a representative i tf the

interior counties, arose, and wit!,
and dignity said :

158 1Utt ano Dumor

''Mr. Speaker, I am opposed to that bill. I
am opposed to it because I don't see why rabbit
dogs should be killed any quicker than any
other kind of dogs. I've got a rabbit dog. He
ain't much on looks, but I tell you there ain't a
dog in the county can beat him."

Immediately after the war, when the accession
of negro recruits was considered an important
feature by the Democratic party in the South,
great results were looked for in Louisiana from
the conversion of a smart young mulatto, who
was expected to sway by his superior informa-
tion and loquacity the rank and file of the darker

In his first stump speech at a political meet-
ing he touched upon the question which was
then agitating the North, as to the eligibility of
the Confederate brigadier-generals for Congress.

"Now, my friends," he said, "de question
is dis : is it de Christian way not to forgive dese
generals what fought according ter dere princi-
puls ? A political party hez got ter be run by
de same high principuls ez eny other business.
Dese here 'Publicans pretends ter be Christians.
All I ax is do they ac' dat part in de questions
ob forgiveness ? Say, fur de sake ob de argu-

of Bmerfcan statesmen

ment, dat dey hez done wrong ; didn't de
Prodigal Son do de same? An' what did his
fader do? Dat young man had been in de bar-
rooms, feeding in de pigpen among de husks
an' swine, yet de fader welcome him ba<
his arms. Dat's jest what de 'Publican party
an' de big fader up at de White House -
ter do — welcome dem back with open a:
de buzzom ob de Union, and kill fur dem de-
fatted calf. Dat's what dey ought ter di
friends. Dey calls demselves Christians ; let
dem a'quit demselves under dat prediction."


Benton and Douglas and Their Colleagues

Thomas H. Benton had a way of telling a
story that the wits of to-day might be proud of,
if they could beg or borrow it. Reading some
of his recent stump speeches, interspersed with
frequent piquant passages of humor, we were
reminded of a sudden explosion of his maga-
zine of ridicule, when, in the year 1841, the
famous John Tyler Bank Bill was introduced
into the United States Senate, with the pro-
tracted title of "An Act to provide for the bet-
ter collection, safe-keeping, and disbursement
of the public revenue, by means of a corpora-
tion to be styled the Fiscal Corporation of the
United States."

Instantly on the title being read, Mr. Benton
exclaimed, —

' ' Heavens, what a name ! long as the moral
law. The people will never stand it. They
cannot go through all that. Corporosity ! that
would be a great abridgment ; but still it is too
long. It is five syllables ; and people will not

ot Bmertcan Statesmen

go above two syllables, or •

they often hang at one. I .

The people will have them, though they sjkjiI a

good long one to make

was a most beautiful y

leans some years ago, as there always bai

and still are many such. She I

that is to say, l>orn in this country i I

from Europe. A gentleman, w\ ding

a splendid steamboat, took it into hi

honor this beautiful young .

her name with his \

it, in golden letters the captivatii

of La Belle Creole-. The vt

and the name was beautiful, and the I dy was

beautiful ; but all the beaut]

save the name from the catastrophe tO whl
long titles are subjected. At firs! •
her the ■ bell,' — not the
signifies 4 fine ' or * beautiful ' ;

English 'bell,' defined in S
tinkling cymbal. This wai

worse was coming. It bo happens tfc u tl

nacular pronunciation I I

tueky waters i- 'ere-nwi ' ; so they -

there to rail this beautiful

But things did not stop ti •

travagant to em pi' one

162 lUtt ano Dumor

would answer as well, and be so much more
economical ; so the first half of the name was
dropped, and the last retained ; and thus La
Belle Creole — the beautiful Creole — sailed up
and down the Mississippi all her life by the
name, style, title, and description of The Owl"

Roars of laughter in the Senate followed this
story, and on went Benton with two or three
more ; but we will repeat but one of them, — the
last, and with which he concluded his remarks.

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Online LibraryJohn BarrWit and humor of American statesmen; a collection from various sources classified under appropriate subject headings → online text (page 7 of 10)