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"Mr. Chairman and fellow-citizens, there are times—times •—there are times, fellow-citizens, when—times when—when the heart—there are times, I say, Mr. Chairman and fellowcitizens, when the heart—the heart of—of—" It wouldn't do. I stuck fast, and could not get out another word.
The cold-eyed man seemed ready to !ilay triumphal strains upon his drum and to smash out a ptean upon his cymbals. In the frenzy and desperation of the moment, I determined to take the poetry from my exordium and to jam it into the present speech, whether it was appropriate or not. I began again:
"There are times, I say, fellow-citizens and Mr. Chairman, when the heart inquires if there breathes a man with soul Bo dead, who never to himself hath said, 'This is my own, my native land'—whose heart has ne'er within him burned as home his footsteps he hath turned from wanderings on a foreign shore? If such there breathe, go, mark him well I" (Here I pointed to the street, and one of the committee, who seemed not to comprehend the thing exactly, rushed to the window and looked out, as if he mtended to call a policeman to arrest the wretch referred to.) "For him no minstrel raptures swell." (Here the leader of the band bowed, as if he had a vague idea that this w:is a compliment ingeniously worked into the speech for his benelit; but the cold-eyed man had a sneering smile which seemed to say, "It won't do, my man, it won't do. I can't be bought otr in that manner.") "High though his titles, proud his name, boundless his wealth as wish can claim; despite these titles, power and pelf, the wretch, concentred all in self, living shall forfeit fair renown, and doubly dying shall go down to the vile dust from whence he sprung, unwept, unhonored and unsung."
I stopped. There was embarrassing silence for a moment, as if everybody thought I had something more to say. But I put on my hat and shouldered my umbrella to assure them that the affair was ended. Then it began to be apparent that the company failed to grasp the purpose of my remarks. One man evidently thought I was complaining of something that happened tc me while I was upon the train, for he took me aside and asked me in a confidential whisper if it wouldn't be better for him to see the conductor about it.
Another man inquired if the governor was the man referred to.
I said, " No; the remarks were of a poetical nature ; they were quoted."
The man seemed surprised, and asked where I got them from. "From Marmion."
He considered a moment, and then said," Don't know hiin, Philadelphia man, I reckon?"
The occasion was too sad for words. I took the chairman's arm and we marched out to the carriages, the cold-eyed man thumping his drum as if his feeling of animosity for me would kill him if it did not tind vigorous expression of that kind.
We entered the carriages and formed a procession, the band, on foot, leading the way and playing "Hail to the Chief." I rode with the chairman, who msisted that I should carry the American flag in my hand. As we passed up the street the crowd cheered us vehemently several times, and the chairman said he thought it would be better if I would rise occasionally and bow in response. I did so, remarking, at the last, that it was rather singular such a reception should be given to a complete stranger.
The chairman said he had been thinking of that, and it had occurred to him just at that moment that perhaps the populace had mistaken the character of the parade.
You see," said he, " there is a circus in town, and I am a little bit afraid the people are impressed with the idea that this is the showmim's procession, and that you are the Aerial King. That monarch is a man of about your build, and he wears whiskers."
The Aerial King achieved distinction and a throne by leaping into the air and turning two backward somersaults before alighting, and also by standing poised upon one toe on a wire while he balanced a pole upon his nose. I had no desire to share the sceptre with that man, or to rob him of any of his renown, so I furled the flag of my beloved country, pulled my hat over my eyes and refused to bow again.
It was supper-time when we reached the hotel, and as soon as we entered, the chairman invited us into one of the parlors, where an elaborate repast had been prepared for the whole party. We went into the room, keeping step with a march played by the band, which was placed in the corner. When supper was over, it was with dismay that I saw the irrepressible chairman rise and propose a toast, to which he called upon one of the company to respond. I knew my turn would come presently, and there seemed to be no choice between the sacrifice of my great speech to this paltry occasion and utter ruin and disgrace. It appeared to me that the chairman must have guessed that I had but one speech, and that he had determined to force me to deliver it prematurely, so that I might be overwhelmed with mortification at the mass meeting. But I made up my mind to cling desperately to the solitary oration, no matter how much pressure was brought to bear to deprive me of it. So I resolved that if the chairman called upon me I would tell my number two story, giving the arguments, and omitting all of it from my speech in the evening.
He did call. When two or three men had spoken, the chairman offered the toast, " The orator of the evening," and H was received with applause. The chairman said: " It is with peculiar pleasure that I offer this sentiment. It give* to my eloquent young friend an opportunity which could not be obtained amid the embarrassments of the depot to offer, without restraint, such an exhibition of his powers as would prove to the company that the art which enabled Webster and Clay to win the admiration of an entranced world was not lost—that it found a master interpreter in the gentleman who sits before me."
This was severe. The cold-eyed child of the Muses sitting with the band looked an if he felt really and thoroughly glad in the inmost recesses of his soul for the first time in his life.
I rose, and said: "Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I am too much fatigued to make a speech, and I wish to save my voice for to-night; so I will tell you a story of a man I used to know whose name was Hotchkiss. lie lived up at New Castle, and one night he thought he would have a little innocent fun scaring his wife by dropping a loose brick or two down the chimney into the fireplace in her room. So he slipped softly out of bed; and dressed in his night-shirt, he stole up stairs and crept out upon the roof. Mr. Hotchkiss dropped nineteen bricks down that chimney, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, each one with an emphatic slam, but his wife didn't scream once."
Everybody seemed to think this was the end of the story; so there was a roar of laughter, although I had not reached the humorous part or the real point of the anecdote, which describes how Hotchkiss gave it up and tried to go down stairs, but was surprised to find that Mrs. Hotchkiss, who had been watching all the time, had retreated, fastening the trap-door, so that he spent the next four hours upon the comb of the roof with his trailing garments of the night fluttering in the evening breeze. But they all laughed and began to talk ; and the leader of the band, considering that his turn must have come, struck out into " Hail Columbia," while the man with the cymbals seemed animated with fiendish glee.
I tried to explain to the chairman that it was all wrong, that the affair was terribly mixed.
He said he thought himself that it seemed so somehow, and he offered to explain the matter to the company and to give me a chance to tell the storv over again properly.
I intimated, gloomily, that if he undertook such a thing I would blow out his brains with the very first horse-pistol I could lay my hands upon.
He said perhaps, then, it would be better not to do so.
The proceedings at the mass meeting were to begin at eight o clock. At half-past seven I went to the telegraph office, and sent the following dispatch to the Wilmington papers, fearing the office might be closed when the meeting adjourned:
"dover,- ,18—: A tremendous mass meeting was
held here to-night. The utmost enthusiasm was displayed by the crowd. Effective speeches were made by several prominent gentlemen, among them the eloquent young orator Mr. Max Adder, whose spirited remarks, interspersed with sparkling anecdote, provoked uproarious applause. Dover is good for live hundred majority, and perhaps a thousand."
At eight o'clock a very large.crowd really did assemble in front of the porch of one of the hotels. The speakers were placed upon the balcony, which was but a few feet above the pavement, and there was also a number of persons connected with the various political clubs of the town. I felt somewhat nervous; but I was tolerably certain I could speak my piece acceptably, even with the poetry torn out of the introduction and the number two story sacrificed. I took a seat upon the porch and waited while the band played a spirited air or two. It grieved me to perceive that the band stood directly in front of us upon the pavement, the coldeyed drummer occupying a favorable position for staring at me.
The chairman began with a short speech in which he went over almost precisely the ground covered by my introduction; and as that portion of my oration was already reduced to a fragment by the use of the verses, I quietly resolved to begin, when my turn came, with point number two.
The chairman introduced to the crowd Mr. Keyser, who was received with cheers. He was a readv speaker, and he began, to my deep regret, bv telling in capital style my story number three, after which lie used up some of my number six arguments, and concluded with the remark that it was not his purpose to occupy the attention of the meeting for any length of time, because the executive committee in Wilmington had sent an eloquent orator who was now upon the platform and would present the cause of the party in a manner which he could not hope to approach.
Mr. Kevser then sat down, and Mr. Schwartz was introduced. Mr. Schwartz observed that it was hardly worth while for him to attempt to make anything like a speech, because the gentleman from New Castle had come down on purpose 'o discuss the issues of the campaign, and the audience, of course, was amiom to hear mm. Mr. Schwartz would only tell a little story which seemed to illustrate a point he wished to make, and he thereupon related my anecdote numberseven, making it appear that he was the bosom friend of Commodore Seudder and an acquaintance of the man who made the gun. The point illustrated I was shocked to find was almost precisely that which I had attached to my story number seven. The situation began to have a serious appearance. Here, at one fell swoop, two of my best stories and three of my sets of arguments were swept off into utter uselessness.
When Schwartz withdrew, a man named Krumbauer was brought forward. Krumbauer was a German, and the chairman announced that he would speak in that language for the benefit of those persons in the audience to whom the tongue was pleasantly familiar. Krumbauer went ahead, and the crowd received his remarks with roars of laughter. After one particularly exuberant outburst of merriment, I asked the man who sat next to me, and who seemed deeply interested in the story, " What was that little joke of Krumbauer's? It must have been first rate."
"So it was, he said. "It was about a Dutchman up in Berks county, Penn'a., who got mixed up in his dates."
"What dates?" I gasped, in awful apprehension.
"Why, his Fourths of July, you know. Got seven or eight years in arrears and tried to make them all up at once. Good, wasn't it?"
"Good? I should think so; ha! ha! My very best story, as I'm a sinner!"
It was awfullv bad. I could have strangled Krumbauer and then chopped him into bits. The ground seemed slipping away beneath me; there was the merest skeleton of a speech left. But I determined to take that and do my best, trusting to luck for a happy result.
But my turn had not yet come. Mr. Wilson was dragged out next, and I thought I perceived a demoniac smile steal over the countenance of the cymbal player as Wilson said he was too hoarse to say much; he would leave the heavy work for the brilliant young orator who was here from New Castle. He would skim rapidly over the ground and then retire. He did. Wilson rapidly skimmed all the cream ofi my arguments numbers two, five, and six, and wound up by offering the whole of my number four argument. My hair fairly stood on end when Wilson bowed and left the stand. What on earth was I to do now? Not an argument left to stand upon; all my anecdotes gone but two, and my mind in such a condition of frenzied bewilderment that it seemed as if there was not another available argument or suggestion or hint or anecdote remaining in the entire universe. In an agony of despair, I turned to the man next to me and asked him if I would have to follow Wilson.
He said it was his turn now.
"And what are you going to say?" I demanded, suspiciously.
"Oh, nothing," he replied—"nothing at all. I want to