The History and Records of the Elephant Club
by Q. K. Philander Doesticks
HISTORY AND RECORDS OF THE ELEPHANT CLUB.
With ILLUSTRATIONS BY John McLenan NEW YORK LIVERMORE & RUDD.]
The HISTORY AND RECORDS OF THE ELEPHANT CLUB; COMPILED FROM
AUTHENTIC DOCUMENTS NOW IN POSSESSION OF THE Zoölogical Society.
BY Knight Russ Ockside, M.D., AND Q.K. Philander Doesticks, P.B.
New York: Livermore & Rudd, Publishers, 310 Broadway, 1857.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1836, by Livermore
& Rudd, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United
States for the Southern District of New York.
W.H. Tinson, Stereotyper.
Geo. Russell & Co., Printers, 61 Beekman-Street, N.Y.
THIS IS THE VERITABLE AND VERACIOUS HISTORY OF THE DOINGS AND
MISDOINGS OF THE MEMBERS OF
THE ELEPHANT CLUB.
WITH A MINUTE AND PARTICULAR NARRATIVE OF WHAT THEY DID; TO WHICH IS
ADDED A COMPLEX AND ELABORATE DESCRIPTION OF WHAT THEY DIDN'T.
CONTAINING ALSO THE EXULTANT RECORD OF THEIR MEMORABLE SUCCESS IN
EVENTUALLY OBTAINING, EACH AND EVERY ONE, A SIGHT OF THE ENTIRE AND
FROM THE PRIMITIVE HAIR ON HIS ATTENUATED PROBOSCIS, TO THE LAST
KINK OF HIS SYMMETRICAL TAIL.
COMPILED BY ME, KNIGHT RUSS OCKSIDE, M.D., AND ME, Q.K. PHILANDER
This book has been written by the Authors, and printed by the
Publishers, in the hope that it may be purchased by the Public. If it
proves to be a failure, the responsibility must rest with the People
who don't buy it.
HOW THEY MET.
What there wasn'tWhat there wasA fancied recognitionSingular
coincidencesPreamble and resolutionA third partyA fourth
partyAccusation of petty larcenySatisfactory explanationSpirits
in the closetA mysterious letterAlarm of BoggsMore mysteryA
murder anticipatedThe reason whyA perplexing predicamentA
philanthropist discoveredA general embraceAn astonishing statement
HOW THE CLUB ORGANIZED.
The second meetingA learned dissertationA
documentRulesPreliminary speeches and criticismsOrder of
businessAn electionCongratulations The dinner 35
THE ELEPHANTINE DEN.
Its locationThe furniture and its arrangementsA sentinel
electedPunishment for intrusionResolutions adopted 47
FIRST DISCOVERIES OF THE CLUB.
A new characterA glimpse at the animalA tall talkerA
proposalDiscovery of a group of street-statuaryA pistol-gallery
Bowling-alleyThe oriental elephantNovel pipesOriental
experienceA member frightenedA new characterPlaying
TurkCeremony of initiationArt in conchologyAstonishment of Johnny
CakeEngine No. 32-1/4.The rope breaksHose 24-3/8The
raceMixed-up spectacleA general row after the fightThe Club
FIRST EVENING WITH THE CLUB.
Preliminary proceedingsBobington Thomas confesses his
professionThomas and his dogsNew York dog-poundThomas accepts
silverMr. James George BoggsJohnny Cake's railroad experienceA
malignant conductorA passenger singsA second passenger wakes and
joins in the chorusSong interrupted by an accidentResults of the
accidentTrain in motionThe song finishedJohnny Cake's
abstinenceFirst experience in GothamCurious coincidentWagstaff's
note bookThe elephant seenMembers initiated 83
THE COLORED CAMP MEETING.
A dense smokeResolutions, preparationsThe journeyQueer
specimens of ReligionCorn whiskyEffects of a hymnReturn to Gotham
Order enforcedBoggs practises the art of self-defenceSuccessful
fight with the stoveUnsuccessful fight with the niggerQuackenbush
keeps late hoursDeacon Pettingill on a benderIs taken to a
gambling-houseLoans and loses ten dollarsPersecution of a corner
grocery-manA gunpowder plotMore of the Dutchman's troublesCousin
BetsyLove, pride and povertyMr. Buxton and the niggerShanghae
coatA gratuitous baptismConflict between Buxton and the darkey 146
THE CLUB IN AN UPROAR.
South-ferry stagesBeginning of mishapsThe militaryThe Lager
Bier InvinciblesThe fat gentlemanOld maid faintsBattle of
BroadwayAn Irish funeral processionOne cent shortThe journey's
endOverdale's jugglingJohnny Cake drunkAn examination of Johnny's
companionHow he lived 188
JOHNNY CAKE'S FIRST SPREE.
Johnny's fallHe goes into the BoweryAn artistic barkeeperThe
flyA Kansas officialJohnny Cake's delusionA Chatham street
auctionJohnny's sensationThe gift enterpriseDropper's dream and
hopes of successThe realizationWho didn't win 212
THE POLICE COURTS.
Visit to Essex MarketPeculiarities of Edward BobberPalmerston
hook the eel-catcherThe poet in LimboWarbles moralisesA German
witnessThe oathDisturbed by catsMysterious caterwaulingsThe
mystery explainedBad liquorA Tombs lawyerHis retainerAn Irish
wakeAn eccentric corpseA free fightThe corpse in courtThe case
concludedTimothy MulrooneyMichael's virtuesTimothy's catMr.
BlobbA knowing officerOld Dog TrayBlobb dischargedQuackenbush
confessesQuackenbush forgiven 231
THE HAMLET NIGHT.
Attempt to swindle the darling publicThe ghostA small Hamlet and
large QueenThe ghost in an overcoatThe death sceneOverdale's
ideasAn unappreciative boyInconsistenciesClockwork legsA
complicated case 289
MRS. THROUGHBY DAYLIGHT'S FANCY DRESS JAM.
A complicated caseMr. Spout's offerDropper bewilderedSpout
expatiates upon the genius of BrownThe Turk and ChoctawThe fancy
dress jamThe Elephants at the fancy dress jamThe result 304
The club in dangerResolutionsThe records of the clubTheir
compilationThe last of the Elephant Club 318
HISTORY AND RECORDS.
HOW THEY MET.
[Enter with a Flourish of Trumpets.]
THERE were no two horses to be seen winding along the base of
a precipitous hill; and there were no dark-looking riders on
those horses which were not to be seen; and it wasn't at the
close of a dusky autumn evening; and the setting sun didn't
gild, with his departing rays, the steep summit of the mountain tops;
and the gloomy cry of the owl was not to be heard from the
depths of a neighboring forestfirst, because there wasn't any
neighboring forest, and, second, because the owl was in better
business, having, some hours before, gone to bed, it now being broad
daylight. The mountain tops, the lofty summits, the inaccessible
precipices, the precipitous descents, the descending inaccessibilities,
and the usual quantity of insurmountable landscape, which forms the
stereotyped opening to popular romances, is here omitted by particular
The time and place to which the unfortunate reader's attention is
particularly called, are four o'clock of a melting afternoon in August,
and a labyrinth of bricks and mortar, yclept Gotham. The majority of
the inhabitants of the aforesaid place, at the identical time herein
referred to, were perspiring; others were sweltering; still others were
melting down into their boots, and the remainder were dying from
At this time, a young gentleman seated himself behind the front
window of the reading and smoking-room of the Shanghae Hotel, in
Broadway. The chair he occupied was capacious, and had been contrived
originally, by ingenious mechanics, for the purpose of inducing
laziness. The gentleman had taken possession of this article of
furniture for the double purpose of resting himself from the fatigues
of a month's inactivity, and also securing a position where he could
see the ladies pass and repass, in hopes that the sight might dispel
the dull monotony of a hotel life in the city, during summer. On this
occasion, to secure additional ease, the individual had adopted the
American attitude of raising his feet to a level with his head, by
placing them upon a cast-iron fender behind the windowan attitude, by
the way, not particularly characterized by its classic grace.
There was nothing remarkable in the dress of the person to whom we
have alluded. He was evidently a victim to the popular insanity of
conforming to fashion. So strictly were his garments cut and made in
accordance with the prevailing style, no one could doubt for a moment
that the taste, or want of taste, manifested in his dress, was not his
own, but the tailor's. In his hand he held a small cane, with which he
amused himself, first, by biting the ivory head, then by making it turn
summer-saults through the fingers of his right hand, after the manner
in which Hibernians are supposed to exercise their shillelahs.
Whether the activity in the streets, the appearance of the ladies
with every variety of dress, or the gymnastic eccentricities of his
cane, were particularly entertaining, is very questionable; certain it
is, that the expression of his eyes showed gradually less and less of
animation. By degrees his eyelids closed. His head soon vibrated with
an irregular motion, until it found a support against the back of the
chair. His hat fell from his head, and his cane dropped from his
fingers. His muscles became fully relaxed. He was, undeniably, asleep.
He had been sleeping nearly a half hour, when an individual, who was
walking leisurely down Broadway, casually glanced in the window of the
Shanghae, where our first person singular was sleeping, with more
seeming comfort than real elegance of position. He seemed struck with
the appearance of the sleeper, and pausing for a brief time to survey
his form, contorted, as it was, into all sorts of geometrical
irregularities, curves, angles, and indescribable shapes, he entered
the hotel, passed around into the room where the sleeper was, and did
not stop until at his side. He again stood for a moment, silently
contemplating the form and features of the sleep-bound stranger.
The second person was also singular. He was, apparently, about
twenty-five years of age, with a full, florid, and expressive face. His
body was quite rotund, even to corpulency; and, save a heavy moustache,
his face was closely shaven. His clothes were of the thinnest material,
and well adapted to secure comfort during the hot season. His
expression, as he stood watching the first person singular, seemed full
of doubt. At last, as if determined to remain in doubt no longer, he
touched the somnolent first person lightly on the shoulder. First
person singular opened his eyes with a spasmodic start, stared wildly
about him for a moment, until his eyes rested upon the disturber of his
Excuse me, sir, said second person singular, but an irresistible
impulse led me to awaken you. The fact is, sir, a few years since, I
had an intimate friend who was lost at sea, and such is the resemblance
you bear to him, the thought struck me that you might be he. Were you
ever lost at sea, sir?
First person singular looked with some little astonishment upon his
interrogator. He wiped the perspiration from his forehead, assumed an
erect position in his chair, and replied:
I don't think I ever was.
It may have been your brother, said second person singular.
It couldn't have been, for I never had a brother. By the way, I did
have an uncle who, on one occasion, when hunting in Illinois, some
fifteen years since, was lost on a prairie. Perhaps it's that
circumstance to which you refer?
No, it was at sea. I'm sorry, sir, that I disturbed your sleep.
You needn't be, was the reply, for I went to sleep without
intending to do so.
Do you ever imbibe? was the next interrogation.
First person singular said he was guilty of no small vices, though
he didn't care if he did take a brandy smash. The parties then
adjourned to the inner temple of the Shanghae. Second person singular
ordered the smash for his companion, and a sherry cobbler (so called
from its supposed potency in patching up the human frame, when it is
about falling to pieces under the influence of weather of a high
temperature) for himself. A succession of singular coincidences
followed. Each party suggested at the same moment, that it was
confoundedly hot in the sun. Both simultaneously imbibed. Each said he
felt better after it, and each undoubtedly told the truth. Both arose
at the same instant, inquired who the other was, whereupon two
autobiographies were extemporized in brief. They disclosed the
following facts. First person singular's name was Myndert Van Dam; he
was a descendent of one of the Dutch families who originally colonized
Manhattan Island. He had been three years absent in Europe, and on
returning a few weeks before, found most of his acquaintances had left
the city on account of the hot weather, and his experience had been one
of uninterrupted dullness. Second person singular rejoiced in the
appellation of John Spout. His genealogy was obscure, but so far as he
could learn, he was descended in a direct line from his great
grandfather on his mother's side. If his ancestry had ever done
anything which would entitle their names to a place in history, it was
very certain that historians had failed to do their duty: for he had
never found the name of Spout recorded in connection with great deeds,
from the robbing of a hen roost down to cowhiding a Congressman. He was
by profession an apothecary, and was laying off for a few weeks'
relaxation. Mr. Spout concluded his personal narrative by suggesting
the following proposition:
Whereas, We have demolished a smash, and annihilated a
Resolved, That we now proceed to devastate a couple of
Mr. Spout adopted the resolution unanimously, and by a further
singular coincidence, they lighted their segars, and left the place for
a promenade. A brisk rain beginning to fall, they sheltered themselves
under an awning. A pair of gold spectacles containing a tall, sharp
featured man, adorned with an unshaven face and a brigandish hat,
approached them, and asked Mr. Spout for a light. Mr. Spout acquiesced.
The party in attempting to return the cigar, accidentally touched the
lighted end to Mr. Spout's hand, and not only burned his hand slightly,
but knocked the cigar out of the fingers of third party; whereupon, Mr.
Spout extemporized a moderate swear. Third party apologized, and
offered a cigar to Spout and Van Dam from his own cigar-case, which
they accepted; and he hoped that in their future acquaintance, should
they feel disposed to continue it, he would not again involuntarily
burn their fingers. He announced himself to be Mr. Remington Dropper, a
two years' importation from Cincinnati, and a book-keeper in the heavy
hardware house of Steel, Banger & Co., down town.
Mr. Dropper, said Spout, I am happy to have made your
acquaintance. My name is SpoutJohn Spoutchemist and apothecary,
with Pound & Mixem, No. 34, opposite the whisky-shop. Allow me to make
you acquainted with my old and valued friend Mr.Mr.what the
devil did you say your name is? said he, addressing Van Dam, aside.
Myndert Van Dam, suggested the gentleman speaking for himself.
Yes, resumed Spout, Myndert Van Dam.
As they shook hands, Mr. Dropper's attention was called in another
direction. He desired his companions to notice the fact that a man was
approaching with his umbrella, and having bought and lost too many
articles of that description, he should not stand unmoved, and see the
last one vanish from his sight.
An individual of small stature, apparently about forty-five years of
age, with hair of an undeniable, though not an undyeable red
approached, holding over his head a silk umbrella.
Mr. Dropper stepped forward and confronted him. He said he was aware
that if every man were compelled to account for the possession of that
which he claimed as his own, the world would hear some rich
developments, in a moral point of view, respecting the tenure of
property; and it was precisely for this reason that he had stopped him
in the street. He inquired of fat party with the silk umbrella, if he
saw the point of his remark. Fat party confessed his inability to
comprehend its intent. Mr. Dropper then proceeded to state that when he
called fat party's attention to the subject of titles to property in
general, he did suppose that fat party would be led to ask himself
whether he had a legal and equitable title to the umbrella in
particular which he was then under. Fat party fancied that he did
perceive a lurking innuendo that he had stolen somebody's umbrella. Mr.
Dropper was gratified to discover fat party's readiness of
comprehension; at his request fat party brought down the umbrella,
which discovered the following words painted conspicuously on the cloth
STOLEN FROM R. DROPPER.
Mr. Dropper insisted that there was the evidence, R. Dropper,
meaning Remington DropperRemington Dropper being himselfStolen
from R. Dropper, by whom?He would not assert positively that fat
party was a hall-thief, but he would say and he did say, that his
umbrella was found in fat party's possession, without his permission.
Some old stick-in-the-mud had said somewhere, to somebody, sometime,
that an honest confession was good for the soul, and if fat party would
acknowledge the unbuilt whisky, he wouldn't appear against him on his
trial for petty larceny. Fat party repudiated the idea that he was a
thief. As far as Mr. Dropper's recollection assisted him he had always
noticed that the biggest rascals protested their innocence the most
emphatically. Fat party appealed to Mr. Dropper's magnanimity to hear
his explanation, which Mr. Dropper consented to do.
The explanation developed the fact that fat party was Mr. James
George Boggs, late of the Department of the Interior, at Washington,
who had arrived that afternoon in the city with his sister, Mrs.
Banger, wife of Mr. Banger, of the firm of Steel, Banger & Co., who, it
is already stated, were Mr. Dropper's employers. They went directly to
Mr. Banger's counting-room, and whilst there it commenced to rain; Mr.
Banger offered Mr. Boggs Dropper's umbrella to walk up with, Boggs
accepted it, and on his way up had been stopped on suspicion of theft.
Dropper made a humiliating apology, swore eternal friendship to
Boggs, introduced him to Van Dam and Spout, and invited the party to
his room to spoil a snifter from his private bottle. They accepted the
invitation with commendable alacrity, and soon arrived at Mr. Dropper's
cozy apartment, which was situated on one of the streets intersecting
Broadway. At Mr. Dropper's request, they seated themselves in a circle
around the table, with the view of calling up the spirits, but whether
saintly or satanic, the compilers of these records do not venture an
opinion. After sitting three minutes and twenty seconds in solemn
silence, it was discovered that Dropper was a medium, as he was enabled
to bring up the spirits in tangible and unmistaken shape from his
closet, and forthwith communications of a very satisfactory character
were made to the circle. Indeed, the opinion was very generally
expressed, that the spirits were genuine spirits, and the medium an
excellent test medium, through which they should delight, in future, to
have further communications.
As they finished their wine a knock was heard at the door. Dropper
responded with a Come in. An Irish servant put her head within the
Plase, sir, said she, I have a caird here that a gintleman at the
door towld me to give to the red-headed gintleman as just come in.
Dropper viewed the card, and the four looked at each other for a
moment, apparently with a view of discovering who it was that answered
the description of a red-headed gintleman. At last, Boggs spoke.
I think it must be me, said he, receiving the card from Dropper,
and reading aloud, from the back of it, as follows:
Sir, an old acquaintance desires to see you for a moment, in
relation to a matter involving your own interest.
Show him up, said Dropper, it will only make one morethat is,
if Boggs is agreed.
Mr. Boggs had no objections to such course being taken, though he
was deeply puzzled to know who the old acquaintance could be.
In a moment, the servant introduced into the room a tall, spare
individual, of about thirty-two years of age. He was ordinarily
attired, and, though not seedy, his garments were by no means new. His
face was closely shaven, and surrounded by a large standing collar. He
looked around the room upon the different parties present, until his
eyes rested upon Boggs. He then ventured to speak.
Gentlemen, said he, excuse this interruption. The fact is, I have
been seeking this gentleman for nearly three years past, and observing
him in company with you, I could not forbear following to seek a brief
Boggs turned pale. Visions of cowhides and pistols came before his
You are perfectly excusable, said Dropper. We will leave the
room, if you desire.
N-n-not for all the world, ejaculated Boggs, hastily. I have not
the slightest objection to your remaining.
Nor I, said the tall gentleman. Your name, continued he,
addressing Boggs, is Johnson, I believe.
Nothing could have relieved Boggs from the suspense under which he
was laboring more than this last remark. The gentleman had evidently
mistaken him for one Johnson, who had, probably, insulted or injured
the tall individual, on some previous occasion. The blush again
returned to Boggs' cheeks.
You are mistaken, said he, at last. My name is Boggs.
Boggsso it is, said the tall stranger. My bad memory often
leads me into errors. But the mistake is very naturalJohnson sounds
so much like Boggs; but, whether Johnson or Boggs, you are the
individual whom I seek.
This announcement caused Boggs's courage to again descend into his
It is three years since I have seen you, said the tall individual.
During that length of time, a person would be likely to forget a name.
But your person, sir, that I could never, never forget, continued the
tall man, solemnly, and throwing in a little melo-dramatic action, as
he spoke, which made Boggs shudder.
C-c-certainly, said Boggs.
Mr. Boggs, said the stranger, you probably don't recollect me.
C-can't say that I do, stammered Boggs.
That need make no difference, said the stranger, mysteriously. I
The stranger then commenced feeling in his coat pockets with his
Boggs sprang to his feet, observing this movement, fully satisfied
that the stranger was seeking his revolver or bowie-knife.
Sir, said Boggs, hurriedly, if I have ever unconsciously done you
an injury, I am ready to apologize. I can see no good reason why this
apartment should be made the scene of a sanguinary conflict.
Sanguinary conflictapologysaid the other, somewhat astonished.
My dear sir, the apology is due to you.
Boggs's equanimity was once more restored. You don't know how happy
I am to hear you say so, said he. Could you make it convenient to
apologize at once, to fully relieve my mind of the frightful
With the greatest pleasure in the world, Mr. Boggs, said the
stranger. I apologize.
And I cheerfully forgive you, said Boggs.
Then you recollect the circumstance, do you? asked the stranger.
Hang me if I do, said Boggs.
Then you forgive me in anticipation.
Certainly, replied Boggs. But what the devil were you feeling in
your pockets for so mysteriously?
My porte-monnaie, replied the stranger, who at length
succeeded in finding the object of his search. He took from it a gold
dollar, two dimes and a cent, and placed them on the table before
Boggs. There, said he, is the sum of one dollar and twenty-one
cents, United States currency, which amount is justly your due.
What the deuce does all this mean? asked Boggs, in his
bewilderment; for between being waylaid in the street, accused of
petty larceny, anticipations of being murdered, receiving apologies for
unknown injuries, and the proffer of money from a total stranger, I
hardly know whether I am standing on my heels or my head.
The mysterious stranger then proceeded to make his explanation.
About three years ago, said he, I invited a lady friend to the
theatre. She signified her intention to accept the invitation. In the
evening I called for her, attired in my best, and found her seated in
the parlor attired in her best. We arrived at the theatre. I had
taken with me only a small sum of moneyamounting in the aggregate to
one dollar and thirty-seven and a half cents. I took the dollar from my
pocket, and passed it to the ticket-seller, who took occasion to pass
it to me again immediately, and putting his physiognomy before the
seven by nine aperture through which the money goes in and the
pasteboard comes out, he announced to me, in effect, that the bank note
aforesaid, of the denomination of one dollar, was a base imitation.
This was a perplexing position. Had I been the fortunate possessor of
another dollar on the spot, I should not have been troubled. The lady's
acquaintance I had but recently formed. My pride would not permit me to
announce to her my true financial condition at that moment. Between
pride and a hurried contemplation of the prospective frightful results
of my monetary deficiency, I was completely bewildered. I stammered out
something about having nothing with me except two or three shillings
and a fifty dollar billthe first of which, gentlemen, existed in the
innermost recesses of my vest pocket, and the last in my imagination. I
was wondering what the devil I should do next, when a gentleman with
red hair addressed me. Good evening, sir, said he, touching his hat,
did you say you have difficulty in getting a bill changed? Without
waiting for me to speak he said, here's a dollar; you can return it to
me to-morrow, when you call at my office to transact that matter of
which we were speaking yesterday. Good evening. I looked in my hand,
and found in it two half dollars and a card, upon which I perceived a
name and address written. I was more bewildered than ever, owing to the
unexpected deliverance, from what a moment before, I had believed to be
an inextricable difficulty. I thought that heaven had deputed some
red-haired angel to come to my relief. Then I doubted whether it was
not a dream; but the weight of the two half dollars satisfied me that
the whole thing was a tangible reality. The difficulty was dissipated,
the funds were provided, and the necessary tickets purchased. Next
morning I resolved to visit my deliverer, and give him my heartfelt
thanks and a dollar. As I was about to leave on my joyful errand, I
felt in my pocket for the card; it was gone. I was horror-stricken. I
searched everywhere, but could not find it. I tried then to recall to
my mind the name; but having read it under considerable excitement, it
had not impressed itself upon my memory. I went to the theatre, in
hopes to find it there, but in vain. For three months, gentlemen, all
my spare time was employed in perambulating Broadway, and standing at
the entrance of the theatre, in hopes of meeting my deliverer. Many are
the short and red-haired gentlemen whom I have vainly pursued. A half
hour since, as I was riding down Broadway in a stage, I saw my
deliverer turning the corner of this street, in company with three
other gentlemen. I stopped the stage, gave the driver a quarter, and
without waiting to receive the change, I made a rush for the stage
door, stepped on the silk skirt of a lady passenger, kicked a fat
gentleman on the shins, knocked a baby out of an Irishwoman's lap,
fell, and struck my head against the door, tumbled out, slipped on the
Russ pavement, excited the mirth of the passengers and pedestrians, got
up, and reached the corner just in time to see the party whom I
followed enter this house. I rushed on, and after some little inquiry,
succeeded in attaining this apartment. Gentlemen, Boggs was my
Hurrah for Boggs, shouted Dropper.
Boggs, you're a philanthropist, said Spout.
Vive le Boggs, said Van Dam.
Gentlemen, said Boggs, I protest against your unwarranted
compliments. My dear sir, said he, addressing the stranger, you only
borrowed a dollar of me, whereas, I perceive you have given me one
dollar and twenty-one cents.
Three years interest, at seven per cent, suggested the stranger,
Legally your due, and I insist upon your accepting interest as well as
Boggs, without further objection pocketed the proffered amount.
Your case, said Spout, to the stranger; is one of morbid
concientiousness; so much so that I feel desirous of knowing you
My name, gentlemen, said the stranger, is Dusenbury Quackenbush.
A general rush was made toward the stranger. Van Dam seized one
hand, Boggs the other; Spout caught him by the arm, whilst Dropper, who
was the last to reach him, threw his long arms around the whole party.
For a moment there was general commotion, growing out of a fierce
shaking of hands and arms. Each person loudly assured Mr. Quackenbush
of the happiness he felt in having formed his acquaintance. As soon as
they had relieved him from their affectionate welcomings Mr.
I am certainly happy to become acquainted with you, gentlemen,
remarked he, but really I am fearful I shall not be a very interesting
acquaintance in a coterie of old friends, as you appear to be,
and without doubt are.
Yes, we are old friends, said Spout, our friendship is as
enduring as the gullibility of the public, and I might add as ancient
asasgentlemen excuse me if I fail in this point to institute an
appropriate comparison. As an astonisher, however, I will inform you of
a fact known only to Mr. Van Dam and myself; and which is, that, two
hours since, not one of the gentlemen of this quintet had ever known
another of it; if I except the case of Mr. Boggs and Mr. Quackenbush.
Mr. Quackenbush, inquired Spout, allow me to ask whether you are
acquainted with life in the metropolis in its multiform phases?
I confess my ignorance, was the reply. It is most unfortunate
that the position of a teacher in a public school is one not calculated
to bring an individual in contact with much that is interesting.
Taking that fact into consideration, said Spout, I propose, that
you all meet me at my room, two evenings hence, when I shall be
prepared to unfold to you a purpose and a plan, which I have just
conceived. My room, gentlemen, is over old Shavem's, the brokers, three
doors from the corner. The number would be 461-1/2, if there were any
on the door. You can't mistake the place, however; there is an
antiquated pump in front, and when I'm at home there is a Spout
Ohh! groaned Dropper.
Never mind, resumed Spout, I don't often attempt such things. Can
I depend upon your coming?
All gave an affirmative response.
Then, said Spout, you can depend upon my going, I pronounce this
After a few words the parties separated.
HOW THE CLUB ORGANIZED.
Put out the light, and then put.SHAKSPEARE.
THE evening arrived on which the gentlemen, named in the last
chapter, were to meet in the room of Mr. John Spout.
Mr. Spout was there, awaiting the arrival of his friends. He was
seated at the end of a table, in a large easy-chair, in his
dressing-gown. Before him, on the table, were several written papers.
The apartment was one of moderate dimensions, neatly carpeted, and,
with plenty of furniture, unobjectionable in quality and taste. On the
walls were suspended various pictures, engravings, fencing-foils, and
masks, boxing-gloves, antique models, Indian ornaments, plaster casts
of legs, arms, hands, feet, &c. On either side of the table were two
chairs, placed there, evidently, in anticipation of the arrival of his
Several pipe-stems protruded from a pasteboard box, which was on the
table. It required no unusual shrewdness to guess at the contents, and
to rightly determine that it was filled with the best-abused, and, at
the same time, best-used weed known.
One by one, the other gentlemen arrived, and were ushered by the
housekeeper into Mr. Spout's apartment. They sat, engaged in discussing
tobacco and the events of the day. At length, Mr. Dropper inquired of
Mr. Spout if he had as yet fully elaborated the idea which, on the
occasion of the previous meeting, had seemed to weigh so heavily on his
I was about to advert to the subject, said Mr. Spout. It has
engaged my undivided attention up to the present time, and the idea and
plan based upon it are sufficiently perfected to satisfy myself.
Trot it out, said Boggs, we are all attention.
The fact, gentlemen, said Spout, that most of our number have
been either absent from the city, or so much engaged in our different
vocations that we have never gained, or have lost, familiarity with
many interesting phases of life, as it exists in New York, suggested to
me the thought of devoting some portion of our time to looking about,
and having put our observations in writing, to interchange them for our
A capital idea, said Mr. Dusenbury Quackenbush.
Brilliant with pleasurable results, remarked Mr. Myndert Van Dam.
Replete with rational enjoyment, suggested Mr. Remington Dropper.
I'm in, was the laconic response of Mr. James George Boggs.
Then I suppose I can count upon your coöperation in the realization
of the idea, said Spout.
A general affirmative answer being given, Mr. Spout continued.
You being unanimous, said he, I'll now proceed to unfold my
plans. To secure unanimity of action and entire success, it is
necessary that we have a plan of organization. But in thinking upon
this subject, I have foreseen that, by the adoption of any of the
ordinary plans, we saddle ourselves with a useless machinery, which
will hinder the successful accomplishment of the object we desire. We
have no time to spare in discussing rules of order, the adoption of
which invariably makes disorder the rule. Yet, there must be a head. In
brief, then, gentlemen, I propose that the principles upon which our
meetings shall be governed, shall be a despotic principle, but one
which shall be compatible with the largest liberty of the governed. How
do you like the idea?
The idea looks paradoxical to me, said Van Dam.
Rather profound, suggested Quackenbush.
Funny, said Boggs.
I can tell better when I hear the rules, said Dropper.
I have them prepared, continued Spout. Shall I read them to you?
By all means, replied Van Dam.
The others signified an affirmative response.
Mr. Spout then proceeded to read:
We, whose signatures are hereunto affixed, do hereby organize
ourselves into a club, having for its
THE ELEPHANT CLUB, and having in view the following
1. The enjoyment and amusement of its members through.
2. A profound study of the Metropolitan Elephant, by surveying him
in all his majesty of proportion, by tracing him to his secret haunts,
and observing his habits, both in his wild and domestic state.
The only officer of the club shall be a Higholdboy, whose
It shall be to sit in a big chair, at the end of the table, and to
see that the members conform to the following
RULES OF CONDUCT:
1. In the meetings of the club, every member shall do exactly as he
2. Each member shall speak when he pleases, what he pleases, and as
long as he pleases.
N.B.If the remarks of any member are particularly stupid or
tedious, the other members are under no obligations to remain and hear
N. particular B. Should the speaker, at the conclusion of his
remarks, find himself in the presence of only a part of his original
audience, and some of those asleep; he is at full liberty, for his
private satisfaction, to conclude that his eloquence, like that of the
traditional parsons, is not only moving and soothing, as evidenced by
the absence of some and the somnolence of others, but so satisfactory
that those who were awake will never care to hear him again.
3. No member shall be permitted to bring spirituous or fermented
liquors, wine, beer, or cider, whether imported or domestic, into any
of the meetings of the club, under the penalty of passing them around
for general use; unless the member prefers to keep them to himself,
from motives of economythe economy in such case to be regarded as an
offence, to be punished with a severe letting alone.
4. The third rule shall apply to cigars, cheroots, and cigaretts.
5. Dittodittosardines, Bologna sausages, crackers and cheese.
6. Members are prohibited from sitting with their feet on the table,
unless in that position they sit with more comfort, or they have other
reasons satisfactory to themselves.
N.B.The Higholdboy, in consideration of his onerous duties, is
exempted from the action of this rule.
7. The Higholdboy is empowered to reprimand any member, when he
considers it necessary to preserve the dignity of the club.
N. special and particular B. In order that this rule shall not
operate prejudicially to the sovereign rights of individuals, the
members of the club are at liberty to treat the reprimand of the
Higholdboy as a good joke.
8. Any member who shall be absent from any meeting of the club,
shall be liable to stand a half-dozen on the half shell for each of his
fellow-members, unless he gives no previous notice to the club,
or any member thereof, of his prospective absence. Such notice, which
he fails to give, to be either verbal or written, at his own option.
9. These foregoing rules shall in all cases be construed strictly,
they shall never be repealed or amended; and shall be of binding force,
except as hereinafter provided in the
ORDER OF BUSINESS.
1. The Higholdboy shall announce the suspension of all rules for
At the conclusion, Mr. Spout, in a solemn tone, addressed the party.
Gentleman, said he, I am aware that the rules, which I have
prepared and submitted, are stringent in the extreme, but I think they
will be found, on examination, to be no more so than is essential to
secure that unanimity of action so indispensable to the accomplishment
of any great end. Believing, then, that you fully appreciate the
importance of the end we have in view, I trust they will meet with your
approval. Gentlemen, I give way to others.
Mr. Spout took his seat, amid manifestations of the approval of his
Mr. Boggs was the first to speak on the subject of the rules.
Gentlemen, said he, unaccustomed as I am to public speaking, and
overpowered as I feel at the present moment, I should do injustice to
my own feelings, did I fail to endorse the excellence of the rules
reported by my friend Spout, and to give my unqualified adhesion, in
accordance with the spirit which pervades them.
Mr. Dropper said that he had but one fault to find. He was by nature
fond of resisting all rules, the idea of which he had always associated
with a restriction of individual liberty. The rules proposed by Mr.
Spout contemplated no restriction. They were so nice an adjustment of
the relations between the governor and the governed that he could not
find it in his heart to resist them. Hence he would be debarred his
usual gratification of combatting them. Still he was willing to give
them a trial.
Mr. Quackenbush liked the rules very much, as he thought it was
coming down to first principles.
Mr. Van Dam said that, so far as he was concerned, the matter was
all right; if it wasn't, he'd make it right.
An inquiry was made as to who would fill the office of the
Mr. Spout replied. He said that their club was an anomaly. It
differed in its features from any organization which had ever been
made. He thought that its individual peculiarities should be kept up in
the matter of the election of its presiding officers. He was in favor
of self-elevation to the position, and of letting the voluntary
acquiescence of the members measure the duration of individuals' tenure
of officein other words, when they got tired of him, leave him to
preside over a meeting composed of himself and the furniture. Now,
gentlemen, concluded Mr. Spout, who wants to be a Higholdboy? Don't
all speak at once.
Van Dam looked at Boggs; Boggs glanced at Dropper; Dropper eyed
Quackenbush, and Quackenbush turned his eyes upon Spout.
No one speaks, said Spout, which leads me to believe that no one
desires the position unless it be myself, which I confess, gentlemen,
is true. Gentlemen, I declare myself duly elevated and installed into
the office of Higholdboy of the Elephant Club, and when you survey my
proportions, and look at the size of that chair, I am satisfied you
will concede that I am well adapted to fill it. In conclusion,
gentlemen, I ask of you your coöperation in forwarding the aims and
purposes of this club. Mr. Boggs, will you pass me the tobacco-box?
Certainly, said Boggs, as he passed the box, and allow me to
congratulate your constituency in having elevated you to so responsible
A very respectable constituency of oneSpout, said Mr.
Quackenbush. But it is very funny, isn't it? said he.
It's a go, said Dropper.
Mr. Van Dam was very glad that he wasn't the lucky man, as he had
such an abhorrence of responsibility.
The question of the time and place of meetings was the next subject
discussed. It was finally agreed to leave that matter for future
Gentlemen, said Spout, I have assumed a responsibility, in
anticipation of my attaining the Higholdboyship of this club. In this,
perhaps, my course will not meet with your full approval; the nature of
the step you will be apprised of in the room below. Will you accompany
The party assented, wondering what further surprise was to greet
them. They entered a rear parlor on the first floor, where an excellent
dinner was waiting them, got up at the expense of Mr. John Spout,
Higholdboy of the Elephant Club.
A good dinner is an excellent ending for any thingeven a chapter.
THE ELEPHANTINE DEN.
Off with his head so much.SHAKSPEARE.
THE Club now being organized, and the eager members anxious to begin
at once their expeditions in search of the pachydermatous animal whose
peculiar habits, in a state of metropolitan domesticity, were to be
henceforth their care and study, it became necessary to fix upon some
convenient place of rendezvous, at which they might convene to prepare
for their excursions, and where they might reassemble, should any
desperate chance divide their strength, and separate their numbers.
After some discussion as to the most convenient locality, a room in
Broadway was selected, as being less likely to attract attention if
lighted up and showing signs of occupancy at an unseasonable hour; and
as being easily accessible in case a member was compelled to evade the
pursuit of an avenging M.P.; or should he be taken suddenly drunk, and
stand in need of brotherly assistance. It was not on the first floor,
lest it should be mistaken for a tavern; nor on the second, lest the
uninvited public should stray up stairs, thinking it to be a billiard
saloon; neither was it in the attic, as the gas didn't run so high; but
on the third floor of an imposing building, a room was discovered,
appropriate in dimensions, convenient in locality, and the rent of
which was not so high but that its altitude was easily admeasured by a
weekly V. It is not our present intention to designate the identical
numeral which, in the directory, would point out the precise latitude
of this mysterious apartment to the anxious inquirer. Suffice it to say
that it was in the immediate vicinity of the public office of the man
whose name is synonymous with that of the adolescent offspring of the
bird whose unmelodious note once saved the imperial city from its
fierce invaders, and that the occupation of this man of the
ornithological appellation is to provide food and drink for hungry
humanity. The relative situations of the club-room and this restaurant
were such, that a plummet, dropped from the chair of the Higholdboy,
would, if unimpeded by interposing floors, fall directly upon the
private bottle of the amiable proprietor in the bar below.
By the timely suggestion of Mr. Remington Dropper, ingenious
advantage was taken of the proximity of an establishment so
praiseworthy, and so conducive to the common comfort. A wire was
arranged, running from a point ever in reach of the chair of the august
presiding officer, thence to a bell in the room beneath. A system of
tintinabulatory signals was contrived, that the dispenser of good
things, on the first floor, might be made to comprehend the wants of
the thirsty individuals in the loft, without their coming down stairs.
One jerk meant brandy smashes all round; two pulls signified hot
whisky punches, with plenty of lemon; a prolonged jingle was to be
immediately answered by an unlimited supply of ale, porter and pewter
mugs; while a convulsive twitch, or a couple of spasmodic tugs,
signified to the man in waiting, not only that the entire club was
over the bay, but that they wanted, on the instant, soda-water enough
to float them in safety to the shore again.
The furniture of this private elephantine den was simple, but
necessary, made not for ornament, so much as contrived for use, and
consisted of a long table, with an extra quantity of super-solid legs,
in case the club should all take a freak to go to bed on it at
oncetwo chairs for each member, one for the customary use, and the
other for the accommodation of his feet, an upright piano-forte, a huge
match-box, and a wash-tub for empty bottles. A journal was also
provided, in which to inscribe the proceedings of each evening, and, by
general agreement, it was made a standing order that no man should
write therein unless he was sufficiently sober to tell a gold pen from
a boot jack.
The poker was chained to the grate, that it might not, in case of an
unusual excitement, become a convenient instrument for the demolition
of furniture, or the extinguishment of an offending member. For the
same reason, the water-jug was tied to the door-knob, and the private
tumbler of each member made fast to one of his chairs with an elastic
band, so that, should he throw it at any one, he would not only miss
the object of his unnoble aim, but the elasticity of the securing thong
would cause it to recoil upon his own pate, with a force which would,
probably, render him for the future less inclined to experiment in
projectiles. Over the entrance-door, on the outside, was placed a toy
elephant, two feet long, but four feet underneath, imported from
Germany, at the unheard-of cost of ten dollars.
The room being furnished, and the club ready to commence operations,
it was deemed expedient to select an individual of superior physical
strength to attend to the door, lest some intruding outsider might
sometime interrupt the deliberations of the honorable quadrupedal
order. Mr. Quackenbush elected himself to this dignified and honorable
office, and, under the belief that his brawny arms were eminently
suited to do duty in case of the irruption of sacrilegious outsiders
upon the sanctified premises, all the other members acquiesced in his
promotion. If any undesirable person presented himself for admission,
he was to inform him of the secrecy of the convention. Should the
outsider persevere, he was first to expostulate with him, and endeavor
to persuade him to go peaceably away. If all milder means should prove
unavailing, he was first to black both of his eyes with a pewter mug,
taking care to do it impartially and symmetrically, that the
discoloration of one optic should not in the least exceed that of the
other; he was then mildly to knock him down with a chair, pitch him
gently, head first, down both flights of stairs into the street, and
then, having filled his boots full of gravel, and put a brick in his
mouth, he was to leave him; but on no account was he to deal harshly
with such offender, unless he chose to do so on his own responsibility,
or was specially authorized by a unanimous vote of all the members
awake, in which case he might act his own pleasure. He solemnly bound
himself, in case he should at any time be overcome by fatigue, or any
other potent cause, that he would go to sleep immediately before the
threshold, in order to prevent any animated worldling from penetrating
into the secret den, and spy out the mystic doings of the elephants,
without forcing an entrance over his prostrate body.
The arrangements being now complete, a solemn convocation of the
honorable body was held, and a quadrupedal quorum being present, after
a smoky and juicy deliberation of some seven hours, the Higholdboy, Mr.
John Spout, unanimously Resolved:
1. That the club proceed to hunt the long-nosed animal.
2. In a body.
3. To-morrow night.
To this series of resolutions each of the other members acceded. The
result of this bold determination will be fully detailed in another
FIRST DISCOVERIES OF THE CLUB.
He who fights and runs away,
Pursuant to the resolutions unanimously adopted on the evening
before, the Elephant Club met to proceed, under the direction of some
experienced hunter, to scrutinize their ponderous game. Being duly
equipped with all the arms and ammunition required for an expedition of
so perilous a nature, they sallied forth. They dragged no heavy,
ponderous artillery, they wore no clanking swords, they rallied under
no silken banner, and marched to no inspiriting music; but they tramped
along, their only rallying-flag being a yellow handkerchief round the
hat of Mr. Myndert Van Dam, who had thus protected his Cady from any
injury from a sudden shower; their only martial music was the shrill
pipe of Mr. James George Boggs, who whistled Pop goes the Weasel, and
for arms each one had a hickory cane, and in the breast pocket of his
overcoat, a single pocket-pistol, loaded, but not dangerous. Mr.
Remington Dropper had assumed the leadership, and was to conduct the
party on their cruise.
They had proceeded but a short distance when Mr. Boggs called out to
the party to observe the motions of a queer-looking character, who was
approaching at a distance of a half block. He was stepping on the edge
of the sidewalk with his gaze fixed upon the gutter, and in apparent
unconsciousness of the existence of anything but himself. He was lank,
lean, and sallow. His clothes were quite dilapidated, his beard and
hair long. A smile on his face seemed to indicate his entire
satisfaction with himself. He was a marked character, and after a
moment's sight at the individual, inquiries were made of Mr. Boggs as
to who he was.
That is more than I can say, was Boggs's response. I have known
him by sight for years, and he has always appeared the same. He belongs
to a class of beings in New York, a few specimens of which are familiar
to those who frequent the principal thoroughfares, and are known by the
ornithological appellation of gutter-snipes. I have often talked with
him, but he knows nothing of his own history; or, if he does, chooses
not to reveal it. He is a monomaniac, but perfectly harmless, and calls
himself Nicholas Quail. I have learned from other sources a few facts
of his history. He sleeps anywhere and everywhere, and eats in the same
localities. Nobody ever harms him, all being familiar with his whims.
As far as I can learn, he was formerly a raftsman. He has never in his
life owned real estate enough to form the site for a hen-coop, nor
timber sufficient to build it. His personal property could be crowded
into a small pocket-handkerchief; but let him get four inches of whisky
in him, and he fancies he has such boundless and illimitable wealth,
that in comparison, the treasures of Aladdin, provided by the
accommodating slave of the lamp, would be but small change. He walks
about the streets viewing what he terms the improvements he is making;
he gives all sorts of absurd directions to workmen as to how he desires
the work to be done, much to their amusement. But here he is, now; if
he is tight we'll have some sport.
As the personage approached, Boggs accosted him, when the following
dialogue took place.
So Nicholas, said Boggs, you've come back, have you? How is the
financial department at present?
Nick looked up and smiled.
The fact is, said he, I've just been buying all the grain in
Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana for $7 a bushel, and I am rather
short for small change, but if you want a hundred thousand or so, just
send a cart round to my office. Would you prefer having it in quarter
eagles or twenty dollar pieces?
Well, Nick, I don't care to borrow at present, but a boy says
you've been drunk. How is it?
What boy is it?
Your boy in your counting-roomthe urchin who runs on errands for
you, smokes your stubs, and pockets the small change.
Now, hadn't he ought to be ashamed of himself, the red-haired
devil, for getting Old Nick into such a scrape by his drunken lies?
Haven't I made him presents enough? It was only last week that I gave
him a house in Thirty-second street, and a splendid mansion on the
North River; and on the 4th of July he had fourteen thousand dollars,
all in pennies, to buy fire-crackers and soda-water with; and yet he
goes to you and lies, and says that I've been drunk. Don't you believe
the lying cub; he's got a spite agin me, because last night I wouldn't
give him the Erie Railroad to bet on poker; but I couldn't do it,
General; I seen the cards was agin him; the other feller held four
kings, and he hadn't nothin' in the world but three high-heeled jacks
and a pair of fours.
I do believe you were drunk, said Boggs, and if you ever get
hauled up before the justice you will have to pay ten dollars, and if
you have not that decimal amount handy, you had better entrust it to
the boy's keeping, to have it ready in case of such an emergency.
Nick felt in his pockets, and with a puzzled air remarked:
I haven't got the money here, but I'll give you a check on the
Nassau Bank for a thousand, and you can give me the change; or I'll
give you a deed of Stewart's, or a mortgage lien on the Astor House.
Shan't do it, shan't do it, Old Nick; and I'm afraid you'll have to
go to Blackwell's Island, sure.
There's that infernal island again, said Nick; if I'd ever
thought it would come to this, I never'd have given that little piece
of property to the city; but I'll buy it back next week, and use it
hereafter for a cabbage garden; see if I don't.
By this time the Elephants seemed to disposed to go, but Nick spied
on the shirt-front of Mr. John Spout a diamond pin, which seemed to
take his fancy. He offered in vain a block of stores in Pearl street,
the Custom-House, the Assay-Office, the Metropolitan Hotel and
three-quarters of the steamer Atlantic, and to throw into the bargain
Staten Island and Brooklyn City; but it was no use, the party took
their leave, and Nick was disconsolate.
Passing up Broadway, their attention was attracted by one of those
full-length basswood statues of impossible-looking men, holding an
impracticable pistol in his hand, at an angle which never could be
achieved by a live man with the usual allowance of bones, but which
defiant figure was evidently intended to be suggestive of a
shooting-gallery in the rear.
Mr. John Spout, who was in a philosophic mood, remarked that it was
a curious study to observe the various abortive efforts of aspiring
carpenters to represent the human form divine, in the three-cornered
wooden men, which stand for pistol-galleries; and the inexplicable
Turks, the unheard of Scotchmen, and the Indians of every possible and
impossible tribe, which are supposed to hint tobacco and cigars.
The ambitious carpenter first hews out a distorted caricature of a
man, which he passes over to the painters to be embellished. By the
time the figure has survived the last operation, it might certainly be
worshipped without transgressing any scriptural injunction, for it
certainly looks like nothing in the heavens above, the earth below, or
the waters under the earth. It is, however, an easy matter to
distinguish the Highlanders from the Turks, by the fact, that the
calves of their legs are larger around than their waists, and they are
dressed in petticoats and plaid stockings; the Turks and Indians,
however, being of the same color, might easily be confounded, were it
not for the inexplicable circumstance that the former are always
squatting down, while the latter are invariably standing up; they are
all, however, remarkable for the unstable material of which their
countenances are manufactured; after one has been exposed to the boys
and the weather for about a fortnight, his nose will disappear, his
lips come up a minus quantity, the top of his head be knocked off, and
a minute's scrutiny will generally disclose the presence of innumerable
gimlet-holes in his eyes. The boys, in their desire to comprehend
perfectly the internal economy of these human libels, not unfrequently
carry their anatomical investigations to the extent of cutting off a
leg or two, and amputating one or more arms, or cutting out three or
four ribs with a buck-saw or a broad-axe. Indeed, there is one
unfortunate wooden Indian, of some fossil and unknown tribe, on
exhibition in front of a snuff-shop in the Bowery, who has not only
lost both legs, one arm, and his stomach, but has actually endured the
amputation of the head and neck, and bears a staff stuck in the hole
where his spine ought to be, and upon a flag is inscribed the heartless
sentence, Mrs. Miller's Fine Cutfor particulars inquire within.
Mr. John Spout having concluded his explanatory remarks, the entire
party went into the pistol-gallery before-mentioned, to have a crack at
the iron man, with the pipe in his mouth.
The nature of Mr. Quackenbush's profession, that of a teacher, was
not such as would make him familiar with the use of fire-arms, and, in
point of fact, he had about as good a notion of pistol-shooting as a
stage-horse has of hunting wild bees; but he resolved to try his hand
with the rest. When it came to his turn to try, he spilled the priming,
and fired the hair-trigger instrument, accidentally, four times, to the
imminent danger of the bystanders, before he could be taught to hold it
so that it wouldn't go off before he got ready. He finally got a fair
shot, and succeeded in breaking a window immediately behind him, after
which he concluded he would not shoot any more.
As the other side of the room was used for a bowling alley, the
company proceeded to have a game of ten-pins; and here, again, Mr.
Quackenbush distinguished himself. After dropping one ball on his toes,
and allowing another to fall into a spittoon, he succeeded in getting
one to roll down the alley; with his second ball, by some miraculous
chance, he got a ten-strike, knocking down, not only all the pins,
but also the luckless youth who presided over the
Having refreshed themselves, the party once more regained Broadway,
and consulted as to what place should be visited next.
Mr. Spout suggested that he would like to smoke. Nobody dissented
except Mr. Dropper, who said he had read the day previous, in the
morning papers, that a Turkish elephant had arrived in town, and was on
exhibition on Broadway, above the Metropolitan Hotel. Thinking that a
comparison instituted between the Turkish quadruped and the one which
it was their particular office to study, might be of benefit to the
members of the club, in their investigations, Mr. Dropper suggested
that the smoking be dispensed with, until they should come into the
presence of the oriental animal. Onward the zoölogical specialists sped
their way, sometimes marching in Indian file, and sometimes arm-in-arm,
running over little boys, dirty dogs, drygoods boxes, low awnings and
area railings, until at last Mr. Dropper cried Halt! before the
portals of the den wherein the mysterious elephant, which had arrived
from Constantinople, was concealed. It became a question who should
lead in making an entrance. Boggs was fearful, Van Dam was afraid,
Spout was cautious, Quackenbush would a little rather not, but
Dropper's courage failed not, and he walked boldly into the outer
temple, followed by his timid associates. Here they discovered a long
counter, and a glass show-case, in which were displayed queer shoes,
quaint tooth-picks, funny pipes, and singular ornaments. A glass jar,
filled with a rose-pink fluid was also on the counter. A tall gentleman
with a ferocious moustache, and a diminutive red cap, without a
front-piece, met them. Mr. Quackenbush's curiosity was in a single
direction; he said he wanted to go through the harem. They finally
entered into the rear apartment. Here their wondering eyes beheld a
long room, well lighted with gas. In the centre was a small basin, in
which goldfish were indulging in their accustomed aquatic sports. On
either side were arranged wide divans, covered with red drapery and
high pillows. Small stands were arranged in front of them. Various
parties were seated with novel inventions before them, suggested by the
minds of ingenious Turks, to accomplish the destruction of the tobacco
crop. The members of the Elephant Club placed themselves on the divans,
and after they had arranged themselves to their satisfaction, their
oriental friend approached them, and gave to each a programme of
Turkish delicacies. Mr. Spout inquired what a nargillê was, and
was informed that it was a water-pipe. Mr. Spout insisted that he
preferred a pipe wherein fire, rather than water, was the element used.
Mr. Boggs said he would take a chibouk on trial. Mr. Spout
coincided, and called also for a chibouk. But Van Dam ordered
three nargillês, one for himself, another for Dropper, and a
third for Quackenbush. The chibouks were produced, and Boggs and
Spout commenced smoking in earnest.
In the mean time, the nargillês were produced for the other
members of the club. Van Dam backed down at their first appearance. The
glass vase, having in it water below and fire above, looked suspicious,
and added to that was a mysterious length of hose, which was wound
about in all directions, commencing at the fire, and running around the
vase, about the table legs, over the chair, back through the rounds,
about his legs, around his body, and finally came up over his shoulder,
and terminated in a mouth-piece. Mr. Van Dam's first sensations, after
these preliminaries had been arranged, were that he was in imminent
danger of his life, and acting upon this impulse, he obstinately
refused to go the nargillê, remarking, that they might be
harmless enough in the hands of the Turks, who knew how to use such
fire-arms, but he thought prudence dictated that he should keep clear
of such diabolical inventions.
Dropper and Quackenbush, however, had no fears, but their drafts on
the fire, through the hose, were not honored with smoke. They exhausted
the atmosphere in their mouths, but get a taste of smoke they could
not, and, in despair, Mr. Quackenbush called in the proprietor for an
explanation of the mysteries of fumigating à la Turque. In
compliance with the request, the gentleman informed the amateur Turks
that they must inhale the smoke. Dropper protested that he wouldn't
make his lungs a stove-pipe to oblige anybodyeven the sultan and his
sultanasand he accordingly dropped the hose, and ordered a chibouk. Quackenbush, however, made the effort, but a spasmodic coughing put an
end to further attempts, and the result was that another chibouk
was called for. Each member of the club began to feel himself
sufficiently etherealized to aspire to a position in a Mahomedan
heaven, where he could be surrounded by the spirits of numberless
beautiful houris, when the attention of Mr. Spout was attracted
to a young gentleman, seated on a divan, in the rear of the apartment.
He was smoking a ponderous chibouk, and the cloudy volumes
sent forth from his mouth hung about his form, quite obscuring him from
sight. Occasionally, however, he would stop to breathe, which gave the
members of the club an opportunity to survey his appearance. He was a
young man of about twenty-two years, small in stature, with a pale,
delicate skin, and light hair, plastered down by the barber's skill
with exactness. He had no signs of beard or moustache. He was evidently
making mighty efforts to become a Turk. He sat on the divan, with his
legs drawn up under him, adopting the Turkish mode of inhaling the
smoke, and he followed one inhalation by another with such fearful
rapidity that the first impulse of the uninitiated would have been to
cry out fire. But he evidently didn't sit easy, for after a few
minutes, he pulled his legs out from under him and stretched them out
at full length, to get out the wrinkles. The Turkish manner of sitting
was, evidently, attended with physical inconveniences, for, after about
a dozen experimental efforts, he gave it up, put his heels on the
table, and laid himself back against the cushions. Still, however, he
continued to smoke unremittingly (as if to make up in that what he
lacked in ability to sit in the Turkish posture). But it was soon
manifest that the young man was suffering. His face was deathly pale,
and, dropping his chibouk, he called out for his oriental host.
The gentleman in the red cap appeared, and the sufferer informed him
that he felt so bad, and he placed his hand on his stomach, denoting
that as the particular seat of his difficulty. The benevolent Turk
suggested exercise out of doors, and, as the elephant hunters were
about going out, they offered to accompany him to his home. The offer
was accepted, and the youth, sick in the cause of Turkey, left,
supported by Dropper and Quackenbush.
A walk of a few squares relieved the young gentleman of the
extremely unpleasant sensations, when he begged leave to express his
thanks to the gentlemen for their kindness. He took occasion to inform
them that his name was John I. Cake, late a resident of an interior
town in Illinois, where his parents now reside. He was, at present,
living in New York with an uncle, who was a banker in Wall-street,
under whose tuition he was learning rapidly how to make inroads upon
the plunder of his neighbors, without being in danger of finding his
efforts rewarded with board and lodging at the expense of State. He had
been educated at a country college, and knew nothing of city life,
except what he had seen in Wall street.
Mr. Spout said that he was very happy to have met him, and inquired
whether he would like to have an opportunity of seeing the elephant.
Mr. John I. Cake said that nothing would please him better. Mr.
Spout proceeded at once to inform him that the gentlemen who were
present were members of an organization gotten up for that express
purpose, and which was known among themselves as the Elephant Club;
further he said to Mr. Cake, that if he desired to join, they would
administer the obligation to him that evening, and initiate him into
Mr. Cake said by all means. At this time the party had reached the
front of a church, in the shadow of which they stopped. Mr. Spout, as
Higholdboy, announced that the Elephant Club was now organized. Mr.
Cake, said he, step forward and receive the obligation.
Mr. Cake did step forward with a bold and determined step.
Mr. Spout continued: Let your arm, said he, hang in an easy
position from the right shoulder. Now let the digits of your other hand
point 'over the left.' Now then, Mr. John I. Cake, late of the State of
Illinois, but now encircled with, the moral atmosphere of Wall street,
you do solemnly swear, by the sacred horn spoons, that you desire to
become a member of the Elephant Club, that you are willing, on becoming
a member, to do as you please, unless it pleases you to do something
else; that you will never kick a big Irishman's dog, unless you think
you are smart enough to thrash his master; that you will be just as
honest as you think the times will economically allow; that you will,
under no circumstances buy and smoke a 'penny grab,' so long as you
have philanthropic friends who will give you Havanas. All of this you
solemnly swear, so help you John Rogers.
Perhaps, was the response of Mr. John I. Cake.
Having given the correct response, said the Higholdboy, you are
pronounced a member of the Elephant Club, when you shall have duly
favored us with the initiative sit down.
Good! said Mr. Cake, where shall it be?
Wherever good oysters are to be procured, said Mr. Dropper.
Here you are, then, remarked Quackenbush, as he pointed to a sign
over a subterranean door-way, over which was inscribed the words,
Here are the spot
Where good oysters is got.
The club descended into the saloon, and Mr. Cake called for six half
dozens on the half shell.
Now, be it known to the readers of these records, that Mr. Cake was
unacquainted with the perfection to which many departments of manual
labor had reached, and being naturally of an inquiring turn of mind, he
stayed outside to watch the feats of the young man who brandished the
oyster-knife. This gentleman was an adept at his profession. With the
most perfect grace of motion, he would lift the oyster in his left
hand, lay its edge gently on a small iron standard, give that edge two
delicate raps with the butt of the oyster-knife as a signal to the
oyster that its turn had now come, when immediately the shells would
open, the upper half would jump off and fall below, and the oyster
would smile at the young man as he took the knife, and delicately
stroked down its beard. All of this transpired in a very short period
of time, which, with the artistic grace displayed by the professor, was
sufficient to astound Mr. Cake. Indeed, he had entirely forgotten his
companions in his admiration of conchological anatomy.
The oysters were placed before the gentlemen, and partaken of with a
relish. But Mr. Cake had not seen enough to gratify his wishes. He
ordered another dose all around, and again took his position outside to
watch the operation of divesting the oysters of one half of their
natural exterior protection. Without doubt, the young man's merits, at
his particular vocation, were great; but Mr. Cake magnified them, in
his intense admiration, most alarmingly. To him, it seemed as if each
particular oyster was waiting for its turn to come, and only wanted a
wink from the young man, when it would jump into his grasp, proud that
it was permitted so soon to be sacrificed by such a hand. Mr. Cake was
transfixed; he never moved his eyes until the second, third and fourth
installment of shell-fish were served up.
Mr. Boggs then spoke about drinks. Johnny protested that he never
drank anything that would intoxicatein fact, he was an uncompromising
teetotaller. Still, however, he had no objections to treating the
crowd, as that would give him an opportunity to remain a few minutes
more with the object of his admiration. He continued to watch the
motions, whilst his friends were doing justice to the spirituous
decoctions. At last Mr. Spout told Johnny that it was time to go.
Johnny went to the bar, paid the bill, and, as the party regained the
street, Johnny Cake said, with a sigh, that he only wished he were an
oyster, that he, too, might be the willing victim of that young man's
knife. But, inasmuch as he was not, it was his intention to gratify his
desire to see the young man's manipulations by coming every night until
he was satisfied.
It is a fact which may be asserted, that Mr. Johnny Cake, as the
members of the club had now learned to call him, with forty oysters
and the fixens on board, did not walk with much apparent comfort.
The club stopped to deliberate, but in the midst of their
deliberations the City Hall bell sounded, and instantly commenced all
that furious uproar peculiar to Gotham at the sound of an alarm of
fire. A crowd of screaming men and boys came tearing along, dragging
Engine No. 32-1/2, which hung back and jumped about, as if determined
not to go at any hazard. About half a block in advance of this crazy
throng rushed a frantic man, with a red shirt and a tin trumpet. Each
individual yelled as if the general resurrection were at hand, and he
under special obligations to wake up some particular friend. The
rheumatic engine held back with all its power, and seemed, for the
moment, endowed with a kind of obstinate vitality. Now it threw its
wheel round a lamp-post, then it tumbled against the curb-stone, then
it ran its tongue into an awning, then affectionately embraced with its
projecting arms a crockery-wagon, and finally, with a kind of inanimate
dogged determination not to go ahead, in turning a short corner, it
leaped triumphantly astride a hydrant, where it stuck. The men tugged,
but the engine held fast; the frantic man in the red shirt came tearing
back; he had gone far enough ahead to see that 13-1/4's boys had got
their stream on the fire, and he was furious at the delay. One mighty
jerk, and the men and boys were piled in a huge kicking mass on the
pavement, which phenomenon was occasioned by the unexpected breaking of
the rope. The rope was tied, and by a united effort directed at the
wheels, the brakes, the tongue, and every get-at-able point, the
machine was again started, protesting, with creaks, and groans, and
various portentous rumblings in its inner works, against the roughness
of its treatment.
The frantic red-shirt-man howled through his trumpet that Hose
24-3/8 was coming. The boys looked back, and Hose 24-3/8 was
coming. Hose 24-3/8 came alongside. Hose 24-3/8 tried to go by. Hose
24-3/8 was evidently striving to get to the fire in advance of her
betters, but Hose 24-3/8 couldn't do itfor, at this interesting
juncture, 32-1/2's fellows waked up to their work, and the race began.
Single gentlemen got into door-ways, or crawled under carts; the ladies
who were in the street at that time of night disappeared down
oyster-cellars; the M.P.s probably went through the coal-holes, for not
one was at that instant visible to the naked eye. Stages, to get out
of the way, turned down alleys so narrow that they had to be drawn out
backwards; an express-wagon was run into, and wrecked on a pile of
bricks; an early milk-cart was left high and dry on a mountain of
oyster-shells; a belated hand-cart-man deserted his vehicle in the
middle of the street, and it was instantly demolished, while the owner
was only preserved from a similar fate by being knocked gently over a
picket-fence into an area, where there couldn't anybody get at him. In
the height and very fury of the race, the crowd rushed upon the
Elephantines, who were gazing in fancied security at the mixed-up
spectacle before them. In an instant they were all inextricably
entangled in the rush; those that escaped 32-1/2 were caught up
instantly by 24-3/8, and those who got away from 24-3/8, were seized
upon by 32-1/2. It was no use resistingon they must go. The
ponderosity of John Spout was no protection to him; nor did the
lankness of Dusenbury Quackenbush, and the unreliable appearance of his
legs, avail him anything. The quiet inoffensiveness of Van Dam was not
respected; no regard was paid to the philosophical composure of Mr.
Remington Dropper. The youthful face of Johnny Cake, too, availed
nothing in his favor. Mr. Boggs became involved, and all were
irretrievably mingled with the howling demi-devils who were racing for
the miniature purgatory, the flames from which could now be plainly
seen. It was No. 1, round the corner, the residence of My Uncle,
and each one was anxious to redeem his individual effects without going
through the formality of paying charges and giving up the tickets.
But their very anxiety was a serious bar to their rapid progress:
and the two machines were jammed together by the zealous rivals. Hard
words ensued, and a general row was the instant and legitimate result.
Quackenbush was complimented with a lick over the head with a trumpet,
in the hands of the frantic red-shirt-man, who accused him of locking
the tongue of 24-3/8 into 32-1/2's wheel. Dropper had his hat knocked
over his eyes, and thereupon, his indignation being roused, he hit out,
right and left. His first vigorous blow inflicted terrific damage upon
the amiable countenance of his best friend, Mr. Van Dam, and the very
first kick he gave upset Mr. John Spout upon the protruding stomach of
a man who had been knocked down with a spanner. John quickly recovered
himself, and hit Van Dam a clip in the sinister optic, which placed
that useful member in a state of temporary total eclipse. The battle
became general, and each man waged an indiscriminate war upon his
neighbor. Between the affectionate thrashing they gave each other, and
the indiscriminate kicks and punches they received from outsiders, the
Elephantines were well pommelled. By the time 32-1/2 and 24-3/8 had got
out of the muss, and were fairly on their way to the fire again, Mr.
John Spout was the only one of that fraternal band visible on his feet.
Dropper was doubled up across a hydrant, Van Dam was comfortably
reposing on his back, in the middle of the street, while Quackenbush
was sitting on him, trying to wipe the blood out of his eyes, and to
ascertain, as nearly as possible, the number of teeth he had swallowed.
But when the members came together to make mutual explanations, Johnny
Cake was non est. Great, indeed, was the cry that was heard
after the missing member. Quackenbush bellowed out, in a heavy,
sonorous voice, that the difficulty was all past, when Johnny's shrill
voice was heard in response. The voice proceeded from an empty molasses
hogshead, into which Johnny had jumped, during the melee, for safety.
His brother-members released him from his situation, and, when he was
once more on Gotham's pavement, he was literally a sweet case. Dirty
sugar adhered to every part of his exterior. Explanations were then
made, and the members proceeded to shake hands all round, except Mr.
Dropper, who couldn't shake hands with anybody, because some one had
upset a bucket of tar on his fingers, and he couldn't get it off.
The matter being at length arranged to the satisfaction of all
concerned, they adjourned from the sidewalk to a beer-shop, where they
washed their faces, pinned up the rents in their pantaloons, and got
the jams out of their hats, as well as they could upon so short a
notice. They then found their way to the club-room, held a council, and
without a great deal of deliberation, it was resolved, every man for
That, to prevent the future possibility of all the members of the
club having black eyes at the same time, the members would, from this
time forth, pursue their investigations singly, or in pairsthe
optical adornment of a single person being bearable, but for all the
club to be simultaneously thus affected, was a phenomenon not down in
The club then adjourned for convalescence.
FIRST EVENING WITH THE CLUB.
As soon as the members of the Elephant Club had recovered their
normal appearance, each issued forth alone to catch further glimpses of
the colossal quadruped of the metropolis. Each was assiduous in
pursuing his investigations, and all manifested a spirit of self-denial
worthy of martyrs in the cause of scientific research. The quantity of
bad liquors they drank in forming new acquaintances, it were useless to
estimate; the horrible cigars they smoked with those acquaintances are
beyond computation, and yet they never flagged for a moment. After a
few days, thus passed, the Higholdboy thought it time the club should
hear the reports of its members. He, accordingly, put up on the
bulletin a notice, stating that he expected the attendance of every
member on a certain evening.
The evening came, and with it came the members. The weather was
sufficiently warm to admit of the windows being up, and a fine, cooling
draught of air passed through the apartment. The gentlemen filled their
pipes and proceeded to take it easy. Mr. Dropper hung himself upon two
chairs; Boggs stretched himself upon a sofa; Van Dam took off his coat,
rolled it up for a pillow, and laid himself out on the floor.
Quackenbush put an easy-chair by the door, and seated himself there to
act as sentinel. Mr. Spout, the Higholdboy, moved his official chair up
to one of the windows, turned the back upon his fellow-members, seated
himself, raised his feet to the window-casing, and said that, with his
eyes looking out between the toes of his boots upon the tiles and
chimney-pots, it could not be said he had seen any disorderly conduct,
if the members should see fit to vary the monotony of the proceedings
by getting up an extemporized row among themselves. Johnny Cake alone
seemed aware that a necessity existed for the exhibition of proper
dignity on the part of the meeting. He sat by the table proudly erect.
His standing collar, neatly-tied cravat, and scrupulously clean
exterior, corresponded with his prim deportment.
It became a serious question who should open his budget of
experience first. There was no rule to coerce a member to commence;
consequently, appeals were made to the magnanimity of each other. These
were irresistible, and all suddenly became willing and even anxious to
make the beginning.
Mr. Dropper, however, got the floor first. He insisted that he was
not in the habit of appearing in large assemblies as a prominent
participant in the proceedings, and, in consideration of this fact, he
ventured to hope that his incipient efforts would not be judged of
Mr. Dropper's spasmodic modesty excited the boisterous mirth of his
Mr. Remington Dropper commenced:
Gentlemen of the Elephant Club, said he, the subject which I have
to present for your consideration this evening is a remarkable instance
of the genus homo which I accidentally came across in my
peregrinations a few evenings since. I was returning home from the
theatre, and in passing a door-way in Broadway, I discovered a man
seated on the stone step, with his form reclining against the
door-casing. The gas-light shone directly in his face, which revealed
to me the fact that he was asleep. The singularity of his personal
appearance could not fail to attract my attention, and I stopped to
study his form, features, and dress, to determine, if I could, who and
what he was. His face had evidently been put up askew. The corner of
his mouth, the eye and eyebrow on one side were inclined downward,
giving him a demure and melancholy look; but on the other side they
were inclined upwards, which made that side show a continued grin. A
front view of his face was suggestive of both joy and melancholy, which
was equal to no expression at all, as the expression on one side offset
that of the other. His coat, which was buttoned tightly about him, was
neither a dress nor a frock, but the skirts were rounded off in front,
making it a compromise between the two. His pants were also a
go-between; they were neither white nor black, but in point of color,
were a pepper-and-salt formation. The leg on one side was rolled up. On
one foot was a boot, on the other a shoe. He wore a very dirty collar,
which, on the laughing side of his face was Byronic, and on the solemn
side, uncompromisingly erect. His hat was an antiquated shanghaeblack
on the crown and light underneath the brim. If a noun, he was certainly
a very uncommon, but not strictly a proper noun. If a verb, he seemed
to be passive. The tense of his general appearance it would be
difficult to determine. Strictly, it was neither past nor present, nor
was it in accordance with my ideas of the future. To a certain extent
it was all three. His seedy exterior was the remains of the past,
existing in the present, and existing prospectively in the future. His
mood was subjunctive, full of doubt and uncertainty. Judging from his
entire appearance, I could come to no other conclusion as respects his
character, than that he was a combination of ups and downs, a
concentration of small differences, a specimen of non-committalism in
everything except an entire abstinence from water used as a means of
purifying his body externally, and his clothing. His red nose led me to
suspect that he did not bathe with cold water to an alarming extent
inwardly. The individual was remarkable, not for what he was, but for
what he was not.
Such were my thoughts, gentlemen, and I determined to awake the
unconscious sleeper, to see how far my conclusions were right. I shook
him well, and accompanied my act with a peremptory order to 'get up.'
After a moment he roused himself and looked at me, but immediately
dropped his eyes. I commenced a dialogue with him, which, as near as I
can recollect, was as follows:
'What are you doing here?' said I.
'Dun'no,' was the response.
'You're certainly quite drunk.'
'That is an offence against the law.'
'You've been arrested for drunkenness before.'
'Werry like. But I 'aven't been a doin' nuthin' helse.'
'But I've arrested you before,' said I, playing the policeman, in
order to continue the conversation.
'Des'say, hofficer; but did I hoffer any resistance?'
'Your weight did.'
'Vas it wiolent?'
'You were too drunk to make any violent resistance.'
'Des'say; I honly inquired for hinformation.'
'What's your name?'
'Vich name do you vant to know?'
'Your whole name, of course.'
'Where were you born, Thomas?'
'What is your business?'
'It's warious. I never dabbled with law, physic, or diwinity.'
'I asked you what your profession isnot what it isn't.'
'My perwession now, or vot it used to vos?'
'Your present profession, of course.'
'Well, what was your profession in the past?'
'Vot do you vant to know for?'
'I shall answer no questions; but you must. Now tell me what your
past profession was.'
'Are you a dog-fancier?'
'Poss'bly; I fancies dogs.'
'What breed of dogs do you fancy?'
'Them as I gets in Jersey.'
'What do you do with the dogs that you get there?'
'I vouldn't go into the business if I vos in your sitivation. It
don't pay any more, 'cause there's so many coves as has inwested. I
left 'cause it vos hoverdid.'
'I hadn't the slightest intention of going into the business. I
asked you for information.'
'Glad to 'ear you say so. I vos halmost hutterly ruined in it.'
'Well, what do you do with the dogs?'
'I doesn't follow the perwession no more.'
'I asked you what you did with the dogs you picked up in New
'They muzzles dogs now more than they did vonce.'
'Tell me what you did with the dogs.'
'If you nab a cove for gettin' drunk vot do they do vith 'im?'
'Are you going to answer my question?'
'Vill they let me off if I tell vere I got the liquor?'
'Look here, Thomas, answer my question.'
'Vot do they do vith the coves as sells?'
'I shan't trifle with you any longer. If you don't tell me what you
do with the dogs, I shall enter a charge of vagrancy against you.'
'Vell, I didn't sell 'em for sassengers.'
'What did you sell them for?'
'I didn't sell 'em.'
'How did you dispose of them?'
'Is old Keene varden of the penitentiary now?'
'Tell me, now, what you did with the dogs.'
'I took 'em to the dog pound.'
'What did you do with them there?'
'Vy, doesn't they muzzle cats the same as dogs?'
'Look here, Thomas, you must answer my question without
equivocation. I want to understand the details of this dog-business.
What did you do with them at the dog-pound?'
'For hevery dog as ve takes to the pound ve gets an 'arf a slum.'
'Then it seems you caught your dogs in New Jersey, brought them to
the New York dog-pound, and claimed for your philanthropic exertions
the reward of a half a dollar, offered by ordinance for every dog
caught within the limits of New York?'
'Vell, if you'd been born into the perwession, you couldn't have
understood its vays better.'
'You are a sweet subject, certainly.'
'Are you not ashamed of yourself, to be found lying drunk in
'Are you not certain you are?'
'Did you drink liquor to-night?'
'Where did you get it?'
'What kind was it?'
'I halvays 'ad a passion for gin.'
'Was it gin you drank to-night?'
'Are you not sure that it was?'
'How often do you drink?'
'Honly ven I've got the blunt to pay. Dutchmen vont trust now.'
'Did you have any money to-night?'
'How did you get it?'
''Oldin' an 'orse for a cove.'
'How much did you get for that?'
'With that you bought gin?'
'And got drunk?'
'Thomas, where do you live?'
'Noveres, in p'tickler.'
'Where do you eat?'
'Vere the wittles is.'
'Where do you sleep?'
'Anyveres, so that the M.P.s can't nab me.'
'You ought to be sent to Blackwell's Island as a vagrant.'
'You've been there, have you not?'
'Don't you know whether you've been there or not?'
'Are you certain of anything?'
'Now, Thomas,' said I, in conclusion, 'I am going to let you off
this time, but I hope you will keep sober in the future. Now, here is a
quarter for you, to pay for your lodging to-night.'
Thomas, the non-committalist, accepted the silver.
I concluded to ask him one more question, in hopes to get a direct
and positive answer.
'Will you use that money to pay for a bed?' I asked.
'Des'say,' said he, upon which I vamosed.
The Higholdboy raised himself from his official seat before the
window, turned round, got on his knees in the chair, leaned his head on
his hands and his arms on the chair-back, and whilst everybody was
still and quiet, he called out, in a stentorian voice, Order. The
effect of this peremptory demand was to induce considerable disorder,
as no one was willing to be regarded out of order, even by implication,
without some foundation. Everybody talked and nobody listened, except
Mr. Dropper, and it was not until Mr. Quackenbush had stuffed a ham
sandwich down the throat of the Higholdboy, thrown a box of sardines at
the head of Van Dam, tipped over the timid Boggs, and poured a lemonade
down the throat of Johnny Cake, that they would consent to hear what he
desired to say.
Gentlemen, said Quackenbush, that's a remarkably fine story,
Des'say, said Spout.
Werry like, responded Van Dam.
Mebbee, replied Johnny Cake.
Likely, remarked Boggs, as he picked himself up, preparatory to
letting himself down in three chairs.
Mr. Spout left his chair, and moved to that particular locality in
the apartment where the bell-pull, leading to the bar below, was
situated. He gave sundry pulls in accordance with the
previously-arranged system of telegraphing, and in a few minutes they
were answered by a young gentleman, with a tin waiter in his hands, on
which were placed divers decoctions, which stand in better repute
outside of total abstinence societies than inside. Each took his
mixture until it came to Johnny Cake, when the Higholdboy passed over
to him a mild beverage, called a port wine sangaree. Johnny refused to
accept it, and announced that he was strict in his adherence to
principlethat he never indulged in anything which could intoxicate. A
lemonade he would indulge in sometimes, but a port wine
When Johnny Cake had finished his indignant repudiation of the port
wine sangaree amid the cheering of his fellow members, Mr. James George
Boggs arose. He mounted a chair, and made an effort to speak. He was
greeted with loud applause.
As soon as these manifestations had subsided, he said:
Fellow-citizens (applause); I may say that it is with feelings of
the most profound gratification (loud applause), that I meet, this
evening, the members of the illustrious Elephant Club (continued
applause), of which I am an unpretending and obscure member (renewed
applause). Gentlemen, I do not like to appear as an apologist, and much
less an apologist for my own shortcomings (loud and continued
applause). Gentlemen, I protest against your unwarranted interference
when I am trying to be funny (applause and cheers). I am a modest man,
and I am unwilling to stand here to be fooled with (enthusiastic
applause); Mr. Dropper, if you don't shut up your mouth, I'll knock
your moustache down your throat (tremendous applause). Mr. Spout, you
are the Higholdboy of this club, but I'll hit you with a brick if you
don't keep better order. (Cries of Order! Order!) If you'll stop
your blasted noise, there will be no trouble about order. (Cries of Go
on!) Well, gentlemen, as I was saying thatthatthatwhere the
devil did I leave off? (Applause and laughter.) There, you see that you
have broken the thread of my remarks. (Cries of Good!) Yes, it may be
fun for you, but, as the boy said to the frogs, it's death to me
(laughter). No, I mean as the Death said to the boys, it's frogs
to(renewed laughter). Go to thunder! I am not going to make speeches
to such a set a young rascals as you are. (More applause.)
As soon as order had restored itself, the Higholdboy ordered, at his
own expense, a glass of apple-jack for Mr. Boggs, with the view of
expressing, through it, his full and thorough appreciation of Boggs's
oratory. Mr. Boggs accepted it. Inquiry was then made of Mr. Boggs as
to what he had desired to say in his speech. He stated substantially,
that, having been engaged in loafing about, and doing nothing, he had
had no time to prepare a contribution for the entertainment of the
So completely had the eloquence of Mr. Boggs riveted the attention
of the club, that they had hardly made a commencement in disposing of
the beverages which had been ordered; Mr. Dropper proposed that, as
Johnny Cake was not to be employed in drinking, he having ignored the
proffered port wine sangaree, he should occupy their time by relating
his experience. To this he expressed his willingness to accede. He
stated, however, that he had been on a flying visit to Illinois since
his initiation into the Elephantine order, and that he was consequently
unable to furnish them with any experience of an interesting nature, in
New York. But some interesting incidents had occurred on a railroad
train, which he had undertaken to note down, with the view of reading
to the club.
Mr. Johnny Cake here produced a roll of manuscripts, which, after he
had straightened up his collar, he proceeded to read. The manuscript
read as follows:
I do not propose, now, to give you a glimpse of anything within the
city. In fact, it is my intention to inflict upon you an
extra-metropolitan scene, which I recently witnessed, and which, though
funny, was not comfortable, and I don't care about experiencing it
The section of country to which your attention is called was
flatpositively flatcomparatively stale, and superlatively
unprofitable. It was a western prairie marsh, the home of gigantic
frogs, the abiding place of water-snakes and musk-rats; where
flourished in luxuriant profusion, bulrushes, water-cresses,
pond-lilies, and such like amphibious and un-get-at-able vegetables.
Through that particular locality a train of cars was not only seen, but
heard going at 2'40 speed over a pile-bridge, made across a Michigan
swamp, by driving black-oak logs end-wise into the mud. The people
therein were covered with dust, as thickly as if each man had been a
locomoting Pompeii, each woman a perambulating Herculaneum, and some
vagrant Vesuvius had been showering ashes on them all for a month. They
were lying about loose in the cars, after the ordinary fashion of
people on a tedious railway journey; curled up in some such ungraceful
and uneasy positions as the tired beasts of a strolling menagerie
probably assume in their cages during their forced marches across the
country. To carry out the parallel, the conductor came along at
irregular intervals, and with deliberate and premeditated malignity,
stirred up the passengers, as if they were actually animals on
exhibition, and he really was their keeper, and wanted to make them
growl. And this conductor, in common with conductors in general,
deserves notice for the diabolical ingenuity which he displayed in
forcing from his helpless victims the greatest number of growls in a
limited space of time.
The cars had just left the flourishing prairie city of Scraggville,
which contains seven houses and a tavern, and a ten-acre lot for a
church, in the centre of which the minister holds forth now from a
cedar stump. At the tavern, dinner had been served up, and the
conductor, according to the usual custom, had started the train as
soon, without waiting for his passengers to eat anything, as the money
was collected. The population of our train, which exceeded that of the
great city of Scraggville by about one hundred and seventy persons, had
composed itself for a short nap, and the various individuals had
settled as nearly into their old places as possible, when a man,
remarkable for a particularly lofty shirt-collar, a wooden leg, and an
unusual quantity of dust on the bridge of his nose, began to sing. He
commenced that touching ballad, now so popular, the affecting history
of Vilikins and his Dinah. The pathos of his words, added to the
unusual power of his voice, waked up his right-hand neighbor, before he
had proceeded any further than to inform the listeners that,
Vilikins vas a-valking
This neighbor who was so suddenly aroused, and who was distinguished
by a steeple-crowned hat, did not appear to care where Vilikins
was a-walking, or to take much interest in the particulars of the said
walk, for he immediately turned on the other side, tied himself up in a
worse knot than he was in before, and attempted to sleep again. He had
in so doing shaken from the top of his mountainous hat about half a
peck of cinders, directly into the mouth of the vocalist. The latter
gentleman, however, seemed nothing disconcerted by this unexpected
pulverulent donation, but, removing those particles which most
interfered with his vocal apparatus, he proceeded with his melody. This
time he progressed as far as to state emphatically that,
Vilikins vas a-valkin' in his garding one day,
And was about to add the explanatory notes, that it was the back
garding, when his left-hand neighbor emerged from a condition of
somnolency into a state of unusual wakefulness.
The most noticeable thing about this last named individual was the
optical fact that he had but one eye. And as this solitary orb was
partially filled with the dust which had accumulated therein, during a
ten hours' nap in a rail-car, over a sandy road, with a headwind, it
might be supposed that his facilities for visual observation were
somewhat abridged. This did not prove, however, to be the case, for
with a single glance of this encumbered optic, he seemed to take in the
character of the singer, and to make up his mind instanter that he was
a good fellow and a man to be acquainted with.
Acting promptly upon this extemporaneous opinion, he held out his
hand with the remark:
I don't want to interfere with any arrangements you have made,
stranger, but here's my hand, and my name's Wagstafflet's be jolly.
The singer had by this time got to the chorus of his song, and
although he took the extended hand, his only immediate reply to the
observations of one-eyed Wagstaff, was too ral li, too ral li, too ral
li la, which he repeated with an extra shake on the last la, before
he condescended to answer. And even then his observation, though
poetic, was not particularly coherent or relevant. It was couched in
the following language.
Jolly? yes, we'll be jolly. Old King Cole was a jolly old soul, and
a jolly old soul was he. He called for his pipe and he called for his
bowlwonder if he got it? My name is Dennis, my mother's maiden name
was Moore, so that if I'd been born before she married, I'd have been a
poet, which I'm sorry to say, don't think it, for I ain't. I'm glad to
see you, Mr. Wagstaff, and as you say you're jolly, and propose
that we shall all be jolly, perhaps you'll favor me by coming
out strong on the second and fourth lines of this chorus.
I'll do my little utmost, said Wagstaff.
And he did do his little utmost with a will, and their united
voices croaked up again the first man with the steeple-crowned hat, who
hadn't got his eyes fairly opened before he joined in the chorus
too, and he gave his particular attention to it, and put in so many
unexpected cadenzas and quavers which the composer never intended, and
shakes that nobody else could put in, and trills that his
companions couldn't keep up with, that he fairly astonished his
hearers. And he didn't stop when they did, but kept singing tooral li
tooral, with unprecedented variations, and wouldn't hold up for Dennis
to sing the verses, and wouldn't wait for Wagstaff to take breath; but
kept right on, now putting a long shake on tooral, now an unheard of
trill on looral, now coming out with redoubled force on the final
la, and then starting off again, as if his voice had run away with
him and he didn't want to stop it, but was going to sing a perpetual
chorus of unceasing toorals and never ending loorals.
For fifteen minutes his harmony was allowed uninterrupted progress,
but at length Wagstaff, putting his hand over his mouth, thereby
smothering, in its infancy, a strain of extraordinary power, addressed
I don't want to interfere with any of your little arrangements,
stranger, but, if you don't stop that noise, I'll knock your head off.
What do you mean by intruding your music upon other people's music, and
thus mixing the breed? Don't you try to swallow my fist, you can't
The latter part of this address was called forth by the frantic
efforts of the unknown amateur to get his mouth away from behind
Wagstaff's hand, which he at length accomplished, and when he had
recovered his breath he made an effort to speak. The musical fiend,
however, had got too strong possession of him to give up on so short a
notice, and he was unable to speak more than ten words without
introducing another touch of the magical chorus. The address with which
he first favored his companions ran something after the following
fashion and sounded as if he might have been the identical Vilikins,
unexpectedly recovered from the effects of the cup of cold pison, or
prematurely resurrected from the same grave, wherein he had been
disposed by the cruel parient by the side of the lamented Dinah.
My friends, don't interrupt the concerttoo ral li, too ral li,
too ral li la. I'll explain presentlywith a too ral li, too ral li,
too ral li la. I'm delighted to meet youallow me to introduce
myselfral li laI am a professionalloo ral li, loo ral
limanral li lamy name is Moses Overdalewith my loo ral li, loo
ral li, loo ral li la.
Here he stopped, evidently by a violent exertion, and shook hands
with each of the others, and afforded such a view of his personal
appearance as satisfied the individual of the solitary optic, and his
companion of the vegetable leg, that they had fallen in with another
originaladded to the fact, with which they were already well
acquainted, that he had a powerful, though not very controllable voice.
Other things about the newly-discovered person showed him to be a man
far above, or below, or, at least, differing from, the common run of
people one meets in a railroad-car. His face, had it been visible to
the naked eye, through the surrounding thicket of hair, might have
passed for good-looking; but the hirsute crop which flourished about
his head was something really remarkable. If each hair had possessed as
many roots as a scrub oak sapling, and had grown the wrong way, with
the roots out, there couldn't have been more; or if each individual
hair had been grafted with a score of thrifty shoots, and each of them,
in turn, had given off a multitude of sandy-colored sprouts, and each
separate sprout had taken an unconquerable aversion to every other
sprout, and was striving to grow in an independent direction of its
own, there wouldn't have been a more abundant display of hair, growing
towards a greater variety of hitherto unknown points of compass. It was
so long that it concealed his neck and shoulders, and you could only
suppose he had a throat from the certainty that he had a mouth. And
even the mouth was in its turn ornamented with an overhanging
moustache, of a subdued rat-color, which also was long, running down
the corners of the jaw, and joining the rest of the beard on the neck
below. A shirt-collar, turned down over his coat, was dimly visible
whenever the wind was strong enough to lift the superincumbent hair.
Taking into account the physical curtailments of Overdale's
companions, the trio consisted of about two men and a half.
Dennis now proposed that they should go on with the song, he
volunteering to sing the verses, and requesting the reinforcements to
show their strength when he said, Choriusthe mention of
music excited Overdale's harmonic devil again, and he was obliged to
twist his neckerchief until he was black in the face, to choke down an
embryo, tooral, which ran to his lips before the cue came, and seemed
to insist upon an immediate and stormy exit; by dint of the most
suffocating exertions he succeeded in keeping back the musical torrent
until the end of the verse, when it broke forth with a vengeance.
And then Wagstaff struck in, and Dennis took a long breath, and
he struck in; and they waked up a couple of children, and they
struck in; and Dennis put his wooden leg on the tail of a dog, and
he struck in; and the locomotive put on the final touch, by
shrieking with a frightful yell, as if it had boiled down into one, the
squalls of eleven hundred freshly-spanked babies.
And they kept on, Dennis singing, in a masterly manner, the
historical part; the charms of Dinah the barbarity of the cruel
parient, the despair of Vilikins, the death and burial of the
unfortunate lovyers, their subsequent ghastly reappearance to the
cruel parient, and his final remorse, had all been related; the chorus
of tender maidens had been pathetically sung by the musical trio; the
chorus of cruel and unnatural parients, had been indignantly disposed
of; the chorus of pisoned young women, had been spasmodically
executed: the chorus of agonized young men, with an awful pain in the
stummack, had been convulsively performed; the chorus of cold
corpuses, had been sepulchrally consummated; and the musical
enthusiasts were laying out their most lugubrious strength on the
concluding dismal chorus of gloomy apparitions, when the concert was
interrupted by the train running off the track and pitching a part of
the passengers into a sand-bank on the right, throwing the remainder
into frog-pond on the left, and gently depositing the engineer on a
brush heap, where he was afterwards discovered with the bell-rope in
his hand, and his legs covered up by the smoke-pipe.
It was soon ascertained that no very serious damage was done, beyond
the demolition of the engine, which had left the rail without cause or
provocation, and was now lying by the side of the road with its head in
the mud, wrong end to, bottom side up, roasting itself brown, steaming
itself yellow, and smoking itself black, like an insane cooking-stove
turned out-doors for misbehavior.
Overdale got out of the sand without assistance, and, save a black
eye, and a peck or two of sand and gravel in his hair, was none the
worse for the accident. Wagstaff crawled out of the frog pond, looking
as dripping and juicy as a he-mermaid; while Dennis, though unconscious
of any painful hurt, had sustained so serious a fracture of his wooden
leg, that he found it necessary to splice it with an ironwood sapling
before he could navigate.
It being discovered that the danger was over, and that there was
nothing more to fear, the ladies, as in duty bound, began to faint; one
old lady fainted, and fell near the engine; happening, however, to sit
down in a puddle of hot water, she got up quicker than she went down;
young lady, rather pretty, fainted and fell into the arms of four or
five gentlemen who were waiting to receive her; another young lady
fainted, and didn't fall into anybody's arms, being cross-eyed and
having a wart on her nose; maiden lady, ancient and fat, got near a
good-looking man with a big moustache, and giving notice of her
intention by a premonitory squall, shut her eyes, and fell towards
moustache; she had better, however, have kept her eyes open, for
moustache, seeing her coming, and making a hasty estimate of her
probable weight, stepped aside, and the gentle creature landed in a
clump of Canada thistles, whence she speedily recovered herself, and
looked fiery indignation at moustache, who bore it like a martyr; young
lady in pantalets and curls tried it, but, being inexperienced, and not
having taken the precaution to pick out a soft place to fall, in case
there didn't anybody catch her, she bumped her head on a stone, and got
up with a black eye; jealous married lady, seeing her husband
endeavoring to resuscitate a plump-looking miss, immediately
extemporized a faint herself, and fell directly across the young miss
aforesaid, contriving as she descended, to break her husband's
spectacles by a malicious dig with her elbow; in fact the ladies all
fainted at least once apiece, and those who received the most attention
had an extra spasm or two before their final recovery, while the
vicious old maids whom nobody cared for, invariably fell near the
best-looking girls, and went into furious convulsions, so that they
could kick them in the tender places without its being suspected that
their intentions were not honorable.
During this characteristic female performance, our musical trio had
not been idle. Dennis had been busily engaged in splicing his wooden
leg. Wagstaff had seized a bucket from the disabled engine, and nearly
drowned three or four unfortunate females with dirty water from the
frog-pond. Overdale was attracted to the side of a blue-eyed girl, who
had swooned in a clean place, behind a concealing blackberry bush, and
he had rubbed the skin off her hands in his benevolent exertions to
bring her to, and had meanwhile liberally peppered her face and neck
with gravel-stones and sand, from the stock which had accumulated in
his hair when he was first pitched into the sand-bank.
Everybody was eventually convalescent, and likely to recover from
the damage which nobody had sustained; the gentlemen had repented of
the prayers which they had not said, and were now swearing ferociously
about their fractured pocket-companions, and their broken cigars; and
the ladies were regaling each other with multitudinous accounts of
miraculous escapes from the horrible accidents which might have killed
everybody, but hadn't hurt anybody. Another engine was sent for, and
the cars ran to the end of the railroad, seventy miles, before the
women stopped talking, or the men got anything to drink.
The musical trio, whose united chorus had been so suddenly
interrupted, met at the bar of the nearest tavern for the first time
since the run off; their greeting was peculiar, but characteristic;
when they came in sight of each other, they didn't speak a word, until
they solemnly joined hands and finished the too ral li la, which they
hadn't had the leisure to complete at the time of their sudden
separation. Overdale, true to his ruling passion, wouldn't stop when
the others did, but was going on with an extra tooral li, looral li,
when Wagstaff presented a glass of strong brandy and water at him; the
plan succeeded; he stopped in the midst of a most astonishing shake on
the first looral, and merely remarking, To be continued, he
yielded, a passive captive to the fluid conqueror.
Subsequent conversations disclosed their future plans, and it was
discovered that they were all journeying to the same place, New York
city; and that their several visits had one common object, to see the
mysteries of the town. An agreement, which I overheard, was quickly
made, that they should remain together, and pursue, in company, their
They proceeded harmoniously on their journey, singing Vilikins
between meals every day; and when Overdale couldn't stop in the chorus
at the the proper time, Wagstaff corked him up with a corn-cob, which
he carried in his pocket for that purpose.
It so happened that I continued on the same trains of cars with this
interesting trio of eccentricities, until we took the steamboat at the
Dutch village, where the State Legislature meets. After the last verse
of their customary evening hymn had been sung, with a strong chorus, as
they were about to shelve themselves in their state-rooms for the
night, I heard Overdale remark to his companions:
When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, orwell, no
matter where. Dennis, you see this black eye; I have to make this
particular request, that if this steamboat blows up in the night, and
you take a fancy to black anybody's eye, you'll pick out somebody's
I didn't black your eye; what do you mean?
Overdale explained thus: I could a tale unfold, which wouldbut I
won'tI'll tell you how it happened, nothing extenuate or set down
aught in malice. When that locomotive ran off the track, the shock
threw us both, as you are aware, about fifteen feet straight up in the
airas I was going up, you were coming down, and you were practising
some kind of an original pigeon-wing with your wooden leg, and, in one
of its fantastic gyrations, it came in contact with my visual
apparatus, and damaged my personal beauty to the extent you see;don't
do it any more, that's all, my friend, don't do it any more.
Dennis expressed himself exceedingly sorryOverdale, my hairy
friend, said he, at the particular time you speak of, that leg was
not under my control, and I am not accountable for the misbehavior of
that leg; but I solemnly promise that, if we are blown up before
morning, if I see which way you go, I will do my best to travel in a
Each of us, myself included, then went to his state-room, achieved
his allotted shelf, rolled himself into so small a ball that the narrow
blankets would cover him, and laid in feverish restlessness, awaiting
that morning bell which should summon him to disperse himself into his
pantaloons, go on deck, and catch the first glimpse of smoky Gotham,
the home of the undiluted elephant.
Hooror for Johnny, said Mr. Spout, as he rushed towards that
individual to offer his congratulations. The other members followed
suit, and Johnny, anticipating that he would be favored with a
bear-like hug, more boisterous than pleasant, unless he acted promptly
to prevent such a consummation, ran into one corner, squared off, and
threatened to show an immoderate pugnacity, if they made any immoderate
demonstrations of fraternal affection. The language and action of
Johnny had the effect to check the enthusiasm of his friends, and they
resumed their places. Johnny then came out, and made a peremptory
demand of Mr. Spout that he telegraph to the saloon below for a
lemonade for his (Johnny's) private consumption. Mr. Spout announced
the impossibility of acceding to Johnny's demand, as there had been no
signal agreed upon which should indicate to the individual below that a
lemonade was wanted. Johnny said that he could not hold Mr. Spout to a
strict accountability on that occasion, but if he did not arrange a
signal to indicate his future wants, he should proceed to expel Mr.
Spout from the club. Under existing circumstances, he should go down
below and order personally a strong lemonade, to be made of
considerable lemon, some sugar, and a good deal of water. Johnny
disappeared through the door. He had been gone three minutes, by
Quackenbush's bull's-eye silver watch, which he says keeps excellent
time as long as he hires a boy to move the balance-wheel, when the
Higholdboy arose, and proposed The health of the Elephantmay his
shadow never be less, which was to be drunk in silence, standing. All
the members had assumed an erect position, required for the performance
of this imposing ceremony, when a yell of such prodigious dimensions,
entitling it to be called a roar, followed by a most extraordinary
clattering outside the door, as of three persons trying to ascend
abreast a flight of stairs only wide enough for one, and quarrelling
about the precedence, and in the intervals of their emphatic remarks to
each other uttering cries of exultant triumph, as if they had made some
long-sought discovery, suddenly petrified the various members into
flesh and blood statues with breeches on, and mouths open. Not long,
however, did they remain thus inactive, for a mighty rush from the
outside carried the door from its hinges, knocked Mr. Quackenbush, the
stalwart guardian of the portal, into a far corner of the room, and
disclosed to the astonished gaze of the assembled Elephantines, the
forms of three individuals, to them unknown. The action of the
Higholdboy, who first recovered his senses and his presence of mind, is
worthy of remembrance. Keeping both eyes fixed upon one of the
intruders, he deliberately drank the contents of his tumbler, and then,
taking a cool aim, he threw the glass-ware at him. This act of the
Higholdboy was regarded as an announcement, by implication, that
crockery and glass-ware could be used on the present occasion
offensively, and accordingly the other members followed the example of
their chief. For a few minutes the destruction of property was great,
and the more so, as, whenever a tumbler, plate, bottle, or any other
similar missile fell to the floor unfractured, one of the three
intruding parties would stamp on it with one of his feet, and pulverize
it instanter. When the crockery was all disposed of, the assault was
renewed with lemons, crackers, bologna sausages, and whatever
projectiles remained, and the chairs and tables would have undoubtedly
followed suit, had not the precaution previously taken, of chaining
them up, precluded the possibility of their being used for this
purpose. The result of this peculiar reception of the intruding parties
was the temporary demolition of one, who had been hit over the head
with the lemon-squeezer, and knocked down in the corner behind the
chair of the Higholdboy. The second person had rolled himself up in a
heap as well as he could, drew his head into his coat, and seemed
resigned to whatever might be his fate. The third, however, made no
resistance whatever, but rushed into one corner, turned his face to the
wall, in which position he sustained for five minutes a brilliant
cannonade of lemons, Boston crackers, with an occasional bomb in the
shape of a nut-cracker and doughnut, for which affectionate tokens of
respect he was indebted to the kindness of Van Dam, who bestowed upon
him his undivided attention.
At the moment when the utter defeat of the invaders was shown to be
a fixed fact, Johnny Cake reëntered the room. He saw the confusion
which was everywhere apparent, and his first inquiry was as to the
cause. Before he had been answered his eyes caught a sight of the party
in the corner, who had ventured to turn his face around.
Here, said Johnny, you've got one of my railroad party, whose
adventures I have detailed to you this evening.
The devil! said Spout.
How unfortunate! remarked Quackenbush.
Are you seriously injured? asked Van Dam of the man in the corner,
who was no other than Overdale.
Nary time, was Overdale's response. But where's Dennis? he
Here, said Dennis, as a head was seen to protrude from itself a
coat-collar, like a tormented turtle from its shell, and, after some
scrambling, Mr. Damon Dennis was erect and experimenting with his
wooden leg, with the view of ascertaining whether it had suffered
another fracture since the railroad experience.
Wagstaff also essayed forth from behind the capacious seat of the
presiding dignitary of the club, and, after shaking the wrinkles out of
himself, was once more himself.
Johnny Cake here introduced himself to the parties. They remembered
him as having been one of the audience which listened to their free and
easy concerts whilst travelling. They were then successively introduced
to the different members of the club, all of whom expressed their
regrets at having received them in so informal a manner, whilst Dennis,
Overdale, and Wagstaff, protested that the apologies were useless, as
they should not have made such an informal call. Mr. Spout again
operated the telegraph for all parties, and when they were once more
seated, Johnny Cake called on their uninvited guests for an explanation
as to how they had found out their location. The statement was given by
all three of the parties in disconnected sentences, sometimes one
talking, and sometimes all. The narrations occupied about an hour in
their delivery, and were replete with interest, but too long to be
incorporated verbatim into these veracious records. The facts
disclosed, however, were substantially these:
After leaving the steamboat, they made their way to the Shanghae
Hotel, without loss of life or further limb. Each had his carpet-bag in
his hand, and having made a demonstration towards the hall-door, the
attendants came out to relieve them of their loads. Unused as they were
to a reception of this kind, their greeting was rather peculiar than
otherwise. Overdale put his hands on his pockets, and told his
gentleman to clear out. Wagstaff, with great presence of mind, knocked
his down instanter. Dennis started to run, but finding his wooden
leg impeded his speed, sat flat down on the sidewalk and called for a
constable. Being eventually satisfied that the intentions of the
individuals were honorable, they went into the house and placed their
names on the register; Overdale, who did not understand this last
performance, expressing his surprise that they should be required to
sign a note for their board as soon as they came into the house. They
were shown to separate rooms, and each proceeded to make himself as
comfortable as his limited knowledge of the uses of the bedroom
furniture would admit, preparatory to making his appearance in the
dining-room. They were all shown this latter part of the establishment,
after they had visited, arm-in-arm, the barber's shop, the ladies'
parlor, and the hat-shop next door, in their vain search for something
As they entered the room, and the head waiter approached, for the
purpose of showing them some seats, Overdale took his arm, and, having
marched the whole length of the room, was finally seated at one end of
the table, while his two companions were accommodated with chairs
immediately opposite. Their exploits at their first dinner in the city
were manybeing all of them ignorant of napkins, and innocent of
silver forks, their performances with those unknown articles were
something out of the common order.
Having recovered from their first impression, that the bills of fare
were religious tracts, left for the spiritual improvement of the
boarders, by the Moral Reform Society, and having ascertained that they
were in some way connected with the science of gastronomy, they
proceeded to call for whatever they imagined would suit their palates.
Wagstaff began with tarts, then taking a fancy to a jelly, he reached
for them, and devoured them all, seventeen in number; and concluded his
dinner by eating a shad without picking out the bones.
Dennis, had somewhere heard of ice cream, for which frigid
monstrosity he immediately called; when it came, not knowing exactly
how to dispose of it, and perceiving that other people made use of the
bottles from the caster-stand, he concluded that it would be proper to
season his cream in like manner. He began with the pepper, followed it
with vinegar, kept on to the Cayenne, added a good quantity of oil,
drowned it with ketchup, and then with unusual impartiality, not
wishing to neglect any of the bottles, he poured Worcestershire sauce
over the whole. He eat it with the mustard-spoon and pronounced it
Overdale seeing a gentleman, on leaving the table, throw down his
napkin, called to him across the room that he had dropped his
handkerchief, and then with the consciousness of having done a
neighborly turn, he proceeded to eat his dinner. He studied for some
time over his own napkin, but eventually concluded that it would be
proper to put it in his chair, so that he would not soil the cushion,
and accordingly disposed of it in that manner, and sat down upon it
with great care, for fear he should tear it. He then opened his bill of
fare at the wine-list, and after puzzling for some time over the names,
put his finger in the middle, and told the waiter he would have some
of that. The servant perceiving how matters stood, and having
compassion on his queer customer, brought him some soup. He at once set
to work to eat it with his fork, in which attempt he scalded both his
mouth and his fingers, whereupon he drank the water in his finger-bowl
to cool his mouth, and wiped his fingers in his hair to reduce their
temperature. The considerate waiter came once more to the rescue, and
brought him some beef, and also performed the same kindness for Dennis,
and probably saved him from absolute starvation. But Overdale, never
remarkable for strict temperance, looked for something to drink, and
perceiving nothing that looked juicy, save the bottles in the
castor-stand, he took out one of them, and having filled an egg-cup
with the contents thereof, drank it down. As it was salad oil, he did
not feel disposed to repeat the experiment. Having cleaned his nails
with a nut-pick, and pared an apple with a fish-slice, he concluded his
performances by putting half a dozen fried oysters in his pocket and
leaving the table.
At night they went immediately to bed, only finding their own rooms
after poking their heads into every other apartment on the same floor,
and eventually securing the services of the chambermaid as a guide.
Overdale having got this lady to light his gas, was not able to get
to bed without doing something further extraordinary, so wishing to
open his window, he called a boy to his door twenty-seven times, by
pulling at the bell-rope, which he imagined to be connected, in some
inexplicable manner, with the sash. He was at last ready to go to
sleep, when he blew out his gas, and laid down on the carpet, covering
himself with the hearth-rug, fearing to get into the bed lest he should
rumple the sheets. He woke up subsequently, and yelled for a waiter.
One happened to be passing in the hall at that moment, and answered his
call. Overdale asked where the tavern-keeper was, as he wanted too see
him. He didn't want to be imposed upon, if he was from the country, and
considered it a huge imposition to put a man into a room which was
right over an asafoetida factory. The waiter comprehended the nature of
Mr. Overdale's difficulty, and explained to him the nature of
carburetted hydrogen, and the mistake that he had made in blowing out
the light, instead of turning off the gas. Mr. Overdale thanked the
waiter for his valuable information, and after waiting for the room to
be well ventilated, he retired to restthis time, however, in the bed,
the waiter having kindly explained to him that the bed-clothing was
nicely adjusted for the express purpose of being rumpled up, in order
to give employment to a useful class of the community known as
In the morning, by one of those curious coincidences which we know
do happen, but for which we cannot account, our three rural friends
found themselves, at precisely eight o'clock, in the bar-room, before
the bar, and calling upon the major for something to drink. Each drank,
after which they went in to breakfast.
The bill of fare not being so complicated as the one on the
dinner-table the day previous, and being printed in good readable
English, they had no difficulty in procuring breakfast entirely to
their satisfaction. After arising, and supplying themselves with
cigars, they started out on an exploring expedition through the city.
Overdale, having read a good deal about the various lions of the
town, assumed to know all about it, and therefore Dennis and Wagstaff
acquiesced in his taking the lead; Wagstaff taking notes of everything
for the benefit of his children when he returned home.
They strayed into Taylor's saloon, which Overdale informed them was
the Crystal Palace. Gurney's Daguerreotype Gallery he stated was the
American Art Union. The three then took the cars on the corner of Canal
street and Broadway, Overdale remarking that he hoped all their lives
were insured, as they were now on the Camden and Amboy Railroad. Dennis
hoped they would run off the track in such a way that his wooden leg
would be again broken. He would then retire for a few weeks, swear that
he had lost a leg by the accident, sue the company for fifty thousand
dollars damages, compromise by accepting ten thousand, and then go to
Kansas and set up a faro bank. As they passed the Jefferson Market
fire-alarm bell-tower, Overdale said it was a shot tower, erected in
revolutionary times. They then arrived at the real Crystal Palace,
which Overdale declared answered to the descriptions he had read of
Fulton Market. The submarine armor which was on exhibition, he
explained was a flying machine. The statue of the Amazon was noted down
in Wagstaff's book, upon the authority of Overdale, as a cast-iron
black foot squaw, on a prairie mustang. The fountain was announced to
be a patent frog-pond. After writing down an accurate description of
the fire-engines and hose-carts (the first of which Overdale supposed
to be perpetual self-acting locomotives, and the second a
newly-invented threshing machine), Wagstaff proposed they should leave.
The Croton Reservoir, Overdale stated was the gas-works. They then
ascended the Latting Observatory, which their intelligent informant
assured them was Trinity Church. From the altitude they here attained,
they were favored with a view of a large extent of country. Overdale
called the attention of his companions to the High Bridge over the
Harlem river, of which they had an excellent view. He said that it was
one of the few gigantic relics of the architecture of the Norsemen,
whom he stated populated this country ten centuries before Columbus
sculled over here in a scow-boat. This was the same bridge, he further
remarked, which Edgar A. Hood, a historian, and an intimate friend of
Nicholas Galileo, a poet of the sixteenth century, had spoken of as
bridge of size. Mr. Overdale stated that the squadron of
pleasure-yachts anchored at Hoboken were a number of clam-sloops, which
had probably been abandoned by their owners, because they were old and
unseaworthy. Jersey City, he was inclined to believe, from its general
description and situation, was the Sixth Ward, which he further stated
was in the centre of the Five Points. The Penitentiary on Blackwell's
Island, of which they had an excellent view, he informed them was the
City Hallthe regular resort of the Common Scoundrels of the city.
When they left the Observatory they strayed over into Avenue D, which,
upon the word of the intelligent Overdale, Wagstaff described in his
book as the Bowery. After mistaking the Dry Dock for the Battery, and a
Williamsburg ferry boat for a Collins steamer, they continued to wander
about, making divers mistakes, all of which were faithfully noted down
as facts in Wagstaff's notebook. At eight o'clock in the evening, they
found themselves in the Franklin Museum, whither they had gone on
Overdale's invitation, to visit the Free Love Club. When the
performance was over they sallied out, and fetched up in a German
lager-bier saloon in William street, where the assembled Teutons were
singing their national airs. For a moment Overdale was in doubt, but,
after two minutes' thought, he informed his friends that they were in
the Academy of Music, listening to an Italian Opera. When they left
they were full of music, they having caught the inspiration from being
in the presence of foreign artists, and immediately commenced to sing
once more Vilikins and his Dinah, with a strong chorus, but were
almost immediately choked down by the police. They wandered about
disconsolate, inquiring frequently of some hurrying passer-by where
they could find the elephant, and receiving in reply to their
interrogations a great variety of directions as to his whereabouts,
from disinterested persons, all of which they noted down for reference.
They searched an hour and a half for my uncle, in the second story of
the Fifth Avenue Railroad, which individual, they had been informed,
could give them the desired information; they walked about four miles
in search of No. 1 'round the corner, at which place they had been
assured, by a venerable female of Milesian accent who sold peanuts on
the curb-stone, they would undoubtedly find the wished-for quadruped on
exhibition. In the course of this latter search, as they were about to
venture into a promising-looking saloon, for the purpose of procuring
something to allay their thirst, Wagstaff caught a glimpse of the
miniature elephant which was over the door of the club-room; and
imagining that he had discovered the veritable animal, he uttered a cry
of joy which attracted his companions to the same object, upon which
they made a grand rush up the flight of stairs. Where they got to, and
how they were received, is already told.
When the narrative had been concluded, Mr. John Spout, the
Higholdboy of the club, declared in solemn terms, that, by virtue of
his office, the three persons whose adventures had just been related by
themselves should be henceforth considered members of the Elephantine
order. He added that any member might object if he chose, but it
wouldn't do him any good, as he should immediately overrule the
objection, and kick the daring objector down stairs.
This persuasive manner of addressing the members had the desired
effect. They were convinced by the gentle logic of their dignified
superior officer, and they could not have the heart to oppose him had
they felt so inclined.
Messrs. Wagstaff, Overdale, and Dennis, who were thus so summarily
promoted, were solemnly sworn in on a boiled ham, after which all hands
joined in singing, We won't go home till morning. It may be proper to
add, in respect to this last musical asseveration, and as a deserved
tribute to the veracity of the persons concerned, that when they said
they wouldn't go home till morning, they didn't.
THE COLORED CAMP-MEETING.
There is a divinity that shapes our ends,
An evening or two after the facts related in the last chapter of
this veritable and never-tobe-believed history, the members of the
club were seated in silent deliberation round their table, each man
smoking a short pipe by a special order of the council; an unusual
commotion was noticed at the end of the table where John Spout was
supposed to be anchored. First the smoke, which had settled, in a
thick, hazy layer, upon everything, and concealed the members from each
other, as if they had mutually pulled the wool over each other's eyes
until all were for a time invisible, was observed to wave to and fro,
as if agitated by some powerfully moving cause, concealed from the
observers by the fragrant tobacco fog which had been raised by the
joint exertions of the assembled multitude. A few minutes more
disclosed the arm of John Spout, working like an insane windmill,
backwards and forwards, to open a clear space, and make himself visible
to the naked eye.
After the lapse of some little time, and the expenditure of no small
amount of muscular power in this interesting exercise, the ruddy
beef-face of the Higholdboy beamed forth from the encircling mist, like
a good-natured light-house, which had been on a spree the night before,
and got up with a red nose, in consequence of the nocturnal
dissipation. As soon as he had cleared a space about him large enough
for him to speak without danger of suffocation, he announced that he
had a proposition to lay before the honorable body, and proceeded to
state that he had observed in a morning paper an advertisement of a
camp-meeting, to be held at a distance from the city easily accessible,
by a 2'40 team, in a couple of hours. He, moreover, went on to say,
that the presiding officers of the gospel-hunt were to be of a sable
complexion, and that the greater part of the congregation was expected
to be of the same colorin fact, it was to be what a Bowery boy would,
in his peculiar, but not inexpressive dialect, call a Nigger Methodist
Camp Meeting. The proposition of the pious Mr. Spout was that the
Elephants should pack their pockets, and proceed to the scene of
action, for the purpose of picking up any superfluous piety that might
be lying around loose, and of making themselves generally agreeable,
and having a good time all round.
The suggestion was listened to with approval, and it was unanimously
Resolved, that the Elephants proceed to the campground in the
A special committee, consisting of the entire club, was appointed to
see that every person was provided with all the necessaries of life,
and the requisites for having a juicy time.
In consideration of his being the mover of the scheme, it was moved
that J. Spout, Esq., should be empowered to procure from the
livery-stable the necessary conveyances, and should become personally
responsible for the same.
The proposition was agreed to, with a clause to the effect that when
he paid the bill he should treat the company with the change.
Each man then appointed every other man a committee to raise the
means, and keep himself sober until the appointed hour, after which
they adjourned to prepare.
At eight, by the City Hall clock (and, of course, half-past eight by
every other clock in the city) next morning, the convention was
For an hour there were three men lacking; but Mr. John I. Cake
finally made his appearance, with his breeches tucked into his boots, a
horsewhip in his hand, and a suspicious-looking protuberance
immediately over his left coat pocket. The attention of the company
being called to this, Johnny explained by saying that it was his
Testament and hymn-book, and that he had been all the morning engaged
in turning down the leaves at the proper places, so that he might not
be interrupted in his devotions. A half hour longer was appropriated in
waiting for Wagstaff and Overdale, but at the end of that time, those
two worthies failing to appear, the party resolved to start without
them, Boggs remarking, that if those tardy individuals failed to reach
Heaven because of their religious shortcomings, they could not say, in
extenuation of their offence, that their fraternal Elephants had not
waited a sufficient time to give them an opportunity for salvation.
The vehicles provided for the occasion were two single buggies, into
which all seven of the party were to pack themselves, a feat which was
finally accomplished, much to the detriment of Johnny Cake's
shirt-collar, and greatly to the discomfiture of Quackenbush, who had
to sit in behind, and let his legs hang over.
Van Dam took the reins of the foremost carriage, and his first
exploit was to run the wheel against the curb-stone, and spill the
party into a coal-hole, from which they were rescued by the exertions
of the bystanders. They once more started on their journey, under the
supervision of Quackenbush, who was recalled from the stern of the
craft, and made to assume the guidance of the crazy horse.
Van Dam, on being deprived of his charge, immediately went to sleep,
and waked no more, except when his companions roused him to pay the
toll, which they did at every gate, until there was no more small
change in his pockets than there is gunpowder in a tom-cat, after which
they offered to pay every time with a twenty-dollar bill, and as no one
would assume the responsibility of changing it, they passed free, and
proceeded merrily enough until they reached the encampment of the
There being no taverns immediately adjoining, the horses were made
as comfortable as circumstances would admit of, under a beech-tree, in
a clover-field, and the human part of the Elephantine delegation
marched in an exceedingly irregular procession to the camp ground; the
line of march being occasionally thrown into disorder by John Spout,
who persisted in making protracted and strenuous efforts to squeeze
something wet out of a Schiedam schnapps bottle, which had been dry as
a powder-horn ever since Quackenbush had his last pull at it.
A description of the sylvan scene which met their metropolitan gaze
may not be out of place.
It was in a clearing, in a piece of beech and maple woods. Stands
were erected for some of the prominent speakers; slabs were laid from
stump to stump, for the accommodation of such of the brothers and
sisters as desired to sit still and listen to the preaching, and in
places straw was laid on the ground, for the special benefit of such as
had the power, and wanted to get down on the ground and have a
private tussle with the devil on their own account. Stands were erected
under the trees, in the shadiest spots, by enterprising white folks,
for the sale of gingerbread and root-beer, and it was rumored that some
speculators, distrusting the appearance of the sperits of just men
made perfeck, had supplied their place with other spirits, full as
potent and equally reliable.
The grass might have been agreeable to look upon at a distance, but
a close inspection showed it to be full of pismires; the stumps would
have been commodious seats, if they had not been most of them
previously appropriated by black-snakes; the sleeping places would have
been tents, if they had not been huts, and a poetical fancy might have
pictured them as being constructed of canvas, white as the driven snow,
but the practical mind instantly discovered that they were made of oak
slabs and dirty horse-blankets. Some imaginative people would have set
down the speaking of the ministers as eloquence if not inspiration, but
a critical individual would have found fault with the bad grammar, and
insinuated that the inspiration was all perspiration.
At the north end of the ground, a big darkey in his shirt-sleeves
was mounted on a platform, preaching to a crowd, who seemed, by their
vermicular contortions, to be possessed of a legion of eely devils. On
the west side, a fat wench was stirring up the fire under a big kettle
of soup, seemingly composed principally of onions and ham; in a sly
corner a red-shirt b'hoy was displaying the mysterious evolutions of
the little joker, and two small specimens of ebony juvenility were
playing euchre on a basswood log; opposite to these, mounted on a cider
barrel, a molasses-colored gentleman was going through a rather
extraordinary performance; he had preached till his audience had all
left him; then shouted Hallelujah, and Glory, till he was hoarse;
had sung hymns in a spasmodic whisper till his voice gave entirely out,
and now, in despair at being unable to speak, yet compelled to work off
his superabundant religion, as if he were a locomotive with too big a
head of steam on, he was dancing on one leg, and kicking the other
about in a kind of perpetual pigeon-wing, and tossing his arms upwards
in a wild and original manner, as if he was using his utmost endeavors
to climb to heaven on an invisible tarred rope.
To the shouts of the men, and the screams of the women who had got
too much religion, was added the laughter of the outsiders, who hadn't
got enough religion, and the swearing of the gamblers, who hadn't got
any religion; and to complete the harmony, from a neighboring pasture
was wafted the roars of a herd of cattle, applauding, in their own
peculiar manner, an extemporaneous bull-fight.
Mr. Dropper gave it as his opinion, that camp-meeting religion, if
analyzed, would be found to consist of equal parts of rum, rowdyism,
and insanity. As, however, it was deemed improper to decide without a
complete examination of the premises, it was resolved to proceed in
company to explore the place.
Quackenbush, who had resumed his nap on the grass, was roused, and
after getting the grasshoppers out of his hair, the sand-flies out of
his ears, and pulling off his boots to look for centipedes, he was
declared ready for active duty, and they proceeded on their march.
They found in a side hut of more pretentious appearance than the
rest, that there was something unusual going on, and upon inquiring,
discovered that one of the fragrant flock having transgressed, he was
then having his trial before the session.
The party moved on to where the minister in his shirt-sleeves was
edifying a small, but select, not to say noisy, congregation. The
audience seemed to be affected much in the same manner as a strong
shock of electricity will stir up a crowd of boys who have all got hold
of the same wire. As there seemed to be a prospect of fun, the
Elephants made a temporary halt to witness the same.
The sermon was now concluded, and the shirt-sleeve-man kneeled down
on the platform and began to pray; he must have had no inconsiderable
amount of similar exercise before, for the knees of his pantaloons were
worn entirely through, and there was a large hole behind where he had
sat upon his heels.
No sooner had he fairly commenced praying than some of the more
energetic in the crowd began to groan; when he made a thorny point, and
said something about the arrow of conviction, some fat wench would
sing out Glory; when he put in a touch about hell fire and other
torrid climates, they would cry out Yes, Lord. And when he put in an
extra lick about repentance, and death, and damnation, and other
pleasant luxuries, the whole crowd fairly screamed with excitement.
At length a powerful darkey, with a head like a cord of No. 1 curled
hair, and with nothing on to hide his black anatomy but a pair of thin
breeches and a blue shirt, began to give unequivocal manifestations of
the workings of his faith; first he kicked a woman with his right leg,
then he kicked a little boy with his left, then he punched one of the
brethren in the stomach, then he stepped on the toes of a grey-haired
class-leader, but, as both were barefooted, no harm was done; then he
yelled like seven Indians, and howled like seven Irishmen, and danced
about like a whole regiment of crazy Dutchmen. When he opened his
mouth, the minister dodged the yawning chasm, and the man fell down and
sprawled about in the mud, striking about with his arms and legs, as if
he were swimming on a bet, and was only two minutes from the
stake-boat. At last he ceased to move, and stiffened out as if he had
suddenly swallowed a rifle-barrel, which stuck in his throat like
Macbeth's amen. The damaged brethren gathered round; the sisters, after
giving their injured shins a consoling rub, also came to the rescue,
and the man was picked up. He was foaming at the mouth; his teeth were
set together so that a fence-stake was required to pry them apart; his
shirt was unbuttoned (his pantaloons had unbuttoned themselves); a
pailful of water out of the nearest frog-pond was dashed in his face,
and he soon so far recovered himself as to ask for corn whisky. All
immediately sang, with a strong chorus, a thanksgiving hymn, that his
soul was saved; though what connection there was between corn whisky
and salvation puzzled the Elephantines some, if not more.
When this interesting episode in the day's performance was
concluded, the participants picked themselves up, and prepared to again
besiege Satan in his stronghold, the north side of Sebastopol of the
hearts of sinful niggers. Singing was the first feature, and the hymn
was of a style unique, and, to the Elephants, highly refreshing. In
point of comparison they had never known anything like it, and the
execution was incomparable to anything known to exist by them. An
athletic colored individual sang the words of the hymn, and, after each
verse, the whole congregation would join in the swelling chorus.
The effect of the hymn was electric. No less than twenty-seven
colored females were seized with spasmodic religion, whilst over a
dozen of the sterner sex found themselves unable to longer resist the
thirsting of the spirit for religious nourishment, and they, too, fell
over, and, amid the howling, kicking, singing, shouting and
indescribable confusion that followed, Mr. Quackenbush expressed it as
his opinion that chaos had come.
But Mr. Boggs was seriously affected by the performance. He fell
down in the grass, and laughed, and rolled, and positively refused to
be comforted or get up, until the rest of the company ran sticks in his
ears, and put last year's chestnut-burs down his back. When he had
sufficiently recovered, the members of the club renewed their
investigations. They listened to several exhortations and hymns, and
then peeped under the horse-blanket tents. In one they saw a youthful
wench, trying to pray with her mouth full of cold sausage. Her efforts
were useless, and becoming satisfied of this fact herself, she
concluded, very sensibly, to no longer try to save her soul on an empty
stomach, but see to her bodily wants first. Before she had got ready to
pray again she had drank a pint of gin, which so heightened her
religious enthusiasm that she made a dive among the pious elders, gave
four shouts of glory, and fell into the arms of a venerable gentleman,
who divided his time for the next hour in kissing the young sister, and
crying amen and glory in alternation.
At last, the Elephants concluded to return to the city. They piled
themselves into the vehicles, and by means of sundry persuasive
arguments, the horses were induced to reach the livery-stable, rather
warm, inside of two hours.
After the party had stowed away divers beefsteaks and onions, and
other articles of food, they ascended into the club-room. Here they
found Overdale and Wagstaff, both asleep. They were awakened, and, in a
peremptory manner, the Higholdboy demanded to know why they had not
been on hand in the morning at the place of rendezvous, to witness the
sable performance in the rural districts. The answers of the two
offending individuals differed. Wagstaff assigned as a reason that he
was asleep, whereas Overdale stated that he wasn't awake. The
Higholdboy announced himself satisfied with the answers.
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which taken at the flood leads on
WITH the facts contained in our last chapter, the members of the
Elephantine order may be said to have fairly begun their herculean
labors. Certain it is that all the spare time they could command was
devoted to an investigation into the particular speciality in
zoölogical science, for which the club had been organized; and certain
it is that the prospect of some rare contribution from members at the
next regular meeting was good.
The meeting night arrived at length, the members were all present,
and punctual to the hour.
The Higholdboy had brought with him a pair of boxing-gloves, which
he announced were to be used in this wise: He was determined to keep
order in the meetings, and this, too, even if he had to resort to
severe means to do so. But actuated by the same feelings of benevolence
which animated the legislators who caused the passage of laws to
prevent cruelty to animals, he did not want to do physical injury to
the refractory members of the club. Therefore, he had brought the
aforesaid boxing-gloves, so that when he knocked a member down, he
wouldn't either draw blood or give him a black eye.
This humane considerateness on the part of Mr. Spout was warmly
commended by the brethren, and Mr. Quackenbush, in behalf of the club,
Resolved, that the Higholdboy is a model presiding officer.
This resolution in behalf of the club was adopted by Mr.
Overdale here arose and said that he fully coincided with the spirit
of the resolution; he had a proposition to make, however, which was to
order up some cold corned beef, celery, mustard, rolls, and butter,
provided he would consent to let the members keep order after their own
This appeal to Mr. Spout's feelings was irresistible, and he gave
his full consent, saying that that was all he had contemplated under
any circumstances, and if they could ring in Overdale for the feed, it
was so much gained. It was accordingly ordered that Overdale give his
Mr. Boggs said that boxing-gloves forcibly reminded him of some
experience he had had several years previously. Though a person by no
means thin, and notwithstanding the fact that he had been for years
troubled with chronic good health, yet, from reading at that time
various physiological works, he had become convinced, that from the
want of proper physical training, his dissolution might be considered
near at hand, unless he took immediate measures to save his precious
life by means of active exercise. He accordingly visited the
gymnasiums, but the idea of putting himself into such fantastic shapes
as he saw young men doing, was to him not to be thought of. Further, he
was decidedly opposed to the idea of making himself the laughing-stock
of a set of young rascals by his awkward efforts in his incipient
progress. Whilst he was yet undecided, a friend suggested to him that
he procure a couple of pairs of boxing-gloves, and practise with them.
Having purchased the gloves, continued Mr. Boggs, I was still at a
loss to know how to proceed. I didn't want to practice with anybody,
because I knew that my awkwardness would make mirth for them, and to
this I was decidedly opposed. Under these circumstances I resorted to
other means. In the garret of the house in which I lived was a mammoth
stovein fact, gentlemen, a stove which I could strike and not knock
over, which would not laugh at me in my attacks, and therefore a stove
with which I made up my mind to have a few rounds each day.
The next day I went up into the garret. There stood the sable
champion of heavy weight, and, for the first time in my life, I
stripped myself of my coat, to fight without being appalled. The stove
loomed up in giant proportions; I stood before it, and squared off as
well as I knew how. I imagined I saw the stove's right fist coming at
my left eye. I parried off the blow, which, without doubt, would have
been aimed at me, had the stove had a right fist as I imagined, and
with my right fist I planted a stunner in the place where his
bread-basket should have been. The result was a powerful reaction, and
I found myself sprawling on the floor. I ascertained that I was not
damaged, and wisely determined then that I would not strike such
powerful blows in the future.
I again squared off, and began putting in the blows in rapid
succession, whilst I managed successfully to keep my adversary from
hitting me in even one of the many attempts which I imagined he made. I
kept up the practice about an hour.
The next day I resumed my practice, and I kept it up for several
weeks, when I fancied that I was sufficiently expert to 'travel on my
To be sure, I had fought an inanimate object, which could not
strike; still, in the tussles I had imagined the stove striking at me
from all conceivable directions, and I had not only been able to
guard-off these imaginary blows, but I had shown the stove that I could
put in a few astonishers between times.
I was ready now for practice with a living adversary. But who was
he to be? that was the question. I was still unwilling to call in any
of my acquaintances, as I might possibly after all be found veni,
vidi, vici, as we say in the classics, which, when translated into
English, means weighed in the balance and found short (suppressed
One day, as I was cogitating upon the matter in front of the house,
a big nigger, full six feet in height, came along. He looked as if he
wanted a job, and with a good deal of trepidation, I ventured to ask
him if I was right in supposing him anxious to make a half-dollar. I
found him to be an eager candidate for any position, from a cashier of
a bogus bank up to a boot-black. I took him up in the garret and
disclosed to him the nature of my desires, and took occasion to inform
him that I would give him a half-dollar for two hours services per day,
and a quarter in addition never to say a word about the matter; to this
he assented, and I told him to put on the gloves. He took the dirty
pair out of respect to me (not taking into consideration the probable
consequence to me, in case of his succeeding in putting in a few
licks), and I took the clean pair.
We squared off, and occupied a minute or two in preliminary
practice; I felt fully confident that I could manage him quite as
easily as I had the stove, and after telling him to do his best, I
proceeded to give him a poke in his breast. We gradually warmed in the
work, the blows passed more frequently, and as we proceeded I became
conscious of the fact that I managed to put in almost one blow to his
three. I then made my calculations to give the nigger a regular rib
riser, and just as I was about to consummate this well digested plan, I
became apprised that something important had happened; what it was I
was unable for a minute or two to decide; several thoughts passed
rapidly through my mind. One idea I had was, that a bombshell from
Sebastopol had exploded in the identical premises which I was then
occupying. But this gave way to another, which was that New York had
been tipped over into Buttermilk Channel; then again, I thought that
somebody was using my head for a rattle-box; several other theories
suggested themselves to me, all of which were equally reasonable. But
at any-rate the cause of the peculiar sensations was soon solved. The
nigger had given me a clip, covering the lower part of my proboscis, my
mouth, and chin, had set my nose bleeding, and cut my lips somewhat
against my teeth, and the blood was flowing profusely.
I looked around for the nigger, but he had disappeared; the
probability is that he thought he had been the cause of my death, and
fearing an indictment for murder, had vamosed without stopping to get
his fifty cents.
I picked myself up as well as I could, and travelled down stairs to
my room. A look into the mirror presented to my view an interesting
picture of my self; not only were my nose and lips swollen, but the
gloves which the nigger had on, being blackened with the
stove-blacking, had communicated the metallic polish to my face and
shirt, so that both were of a beautiful sheet-iron color. I kept my
room for ten days; sent word to the landlady that I had the measles,
and requested that nobody be admitted to my room but the servant who
brought me my food, and him I feed liberally to keep mum. When I got
well enough to go out, I loaned my boxing gloves to a young gentleman,
with my mind fully made up that if he never offered to return them, I
shouldn't send a constable after him, nor ask him for them. I have not
indulged in any amusements of the kind since, and I am glad to announce
that I am fully satisfied with my past experience in the study of the
Mr. Boggs's narrative was loudly applauded. He, however, protested
against the civility.
Mr. Van Dam characterized it as a valuable contribution, which
called forth from Mr. Boggs the question, What the devil he meant by
calling it a contribution; he had no idea of the kind.
The members insisted that, however he might regard it, it certainly
was a valuable contribution to their entertainment, and would grace the
archives of the club.
Mr. Boggs stated that had he entertained the most distant idea he
was doing anything of any value to anybody, he should have never been
able to say a word. If it was a contribution he was glad of it.
The Higholdboy then called upon the other members for their
contributions to science.
Mr. Quackenbush responded, and after drinking some Croton water
diluted with gin, he began:
Last evening I started out on a cruise, with the view of seeing the
elephant on the streets by gas-light. I saw the identical elephant to
be seen every evening, and with which you are all familiar, and I began
to think about eleven o'clock that I should be compelled to retire to
rest without having seen anything worthy of note. To be sure, I had
seen a fight between a nigger and Irishman, which, after the first
round, was finished by each party running away as fast as his legs
could carry him, thereby tacitly acknowledging that he was beaten; but
what was this? Every one of you have been in fights, and of course it
would be unnatural to suppose that a description of a scrimmage of
brief duration between an Irishman and a nigger would be particularly
interesting. I was about to turn my footsteps homeward, when the
movements of an individual attracted my attention. The person in
question was a gentleman of about forty-five years of age. His height
was fully six feet, his form was very spare, his face thin, his nose
sharp and prominent, his eyes and hair grey, and his face closely
shaven, wrinkled, and sallow. He was dressed in a plain black
dress-coat and pants, of a style about three years old. His vest was of
black satin, his shirt-bosom was scrupulously white; a black silk
choker was tightly enveloped about his neck, above which peered a
diminutive collar, which, when it was put on, was without doubt a
standing-collar, but the starch had not been made of such a consistency
as to render it consistent for the collar to stand up against the
unstiffening effects of a hot day's sweating. As I saw him, he was
coming down the street at a rapid rate, describing all sorts of
geometrical figures on the sidewalk, and making efforts to sing the
words of Yankee Doodle to the tune of Old Hundred. Whenever he ran
against an awning-post, he would stop, and expostulate with the post
for its want of civility, and would insist that the post had never been
born and bred in the St. Lawrence country, or it would have shown more
politeness to strangers. He was entirely unable to account for the
sudden revolutions of the earth, which made day and night follow each
other in such quick succession. When he ran against a lamp-post, he
would look up to the light and insist that it was dinner-time, and
would wonder why the old woman didn't blow the horn. At that moment a
policeman came along, and was going to take him into custody. On
observing the policeman's uniform, he inquired of him whether he was a
'Merican or British soger, and whether the Russians had whipped
Nicholas, and whether Cuba had begun to bombard General Pierce at
Sebastopol. I knew the officer very well, and he suggested that as the
man seemed to be quite respectable in his appearance, it might be well
to take him to a hotel for the night. I volunteered to do this, and
accordingly took him under my care. On going down, he asked me if I was
a karvern teeper, as he wanted to take a drink of bed, and then go to
sleep on a blass of grandy. I told him I was, and would see him put to
bed all right. On asking him his name, I learned that he was Deacon
Josiah Pettingill, of St. Lawrence county. We got to the hotel, and I
informed the clerk that the gentleman was a country friend of mine,
whom I wanted stowed away for the night, and for whom I would call in
the morning. I accompanied him to the room, assisted in removing his
garments, and, after putting him between the sheets, I left the
premises. This morning I called on him at his room, and found him still
asleep. I proceeded to awaken him. It occupied some minutes to explain
to him the true condition of affairs. At last, the whole of the
occurrences of the previous evening seemed to come to his recollection.
He inquired his condition when I found him. I told him that he was
at that time considerably drunk, and disposed to be somewhat noisy.
'Well, squire,' said he, 'I shouldn't be surprised if it was so;
the fact is, my head aches at this minute as if it was ready to bust,
and it feels jest as it did once in my lifetime, a good while ago, when
I took too much egg nogg; that was full twenty-five year ago; for
awhile, I felt as if I was ridin' to Heaven over glairy ice down a high
hill, on a bob-sled with its runners greased. But I never got there; I
know one thing sartaina few hours afterward I felt as if the bob-sled
had run agin a stump, when almost tu the bottom of the hill, and the
concussion had landed me intu a cauldron-kettle full of fever and ager
and blacksmiths' hammers, mixed together in equal parts; it wasn't
funny, squire; I went right off and jined the church, and hain't been
blue since, unless I wos last night.'
I asked Mr. Pettingill to give me a history of his experience in
the city. He complied, and stated the facts as follows:
'Well, you see, squire, I come to the city last evenin' from
Albany, in the railroad, and when I got tu the shed where the railroad
stops, I got out. A feller stepped up to me as important as a bantam
cock after he has crowed for the first time, and asked me where I
wanted to go. I told him I wanted tu go tu a first-rate tarvern. He
said that idea was ridiculous; that they never allowed distinguished
strangers tu go tu tarverns, and, unless he was mistaken, I was
something above the common folks from the rooral deestricts. I told him
I was supervisor of the town where I was born and brought up, in the
St. Lawrence country. He said he was thunderin' glad to hear it, as he
himself was something of a high cockalorum of New York. He insisted
upon my gittin' intu the carriage and goin' tu his private dwellin', as
it would be vulgar tu go tu tarverns. I asked him if the St. Nicholas
Hotel was common. He said that nobody but those that wasn't no great
shakes went there. We finally come to a real big, purty stun house, and
the man jumped off from the carriage. He told me again that if he was
rich he wasn't proud, and it was a way he had of always ridin' outside
and drivin'. I told him I always done so, only in the consarn I had
they all rode outside, for the reason that there warn't no inside. With
that he larfed, and said that all folks didn't have jest the same way
of doin' things, and we went tu the door. A nigger come and opened the
door, and we went in. There was about twenty gentlemen, fixed off tu
kill, and a table sot with bottles, and everything as slickery as could
be. The man who brought me took me tu a fine-looking gentleman and told
me that he was his brother, that he was obleeged tu go out on business
connected with his office, but that he would be back by 11 o'clock; he
said his brother would see tu me, and do the scrumptious while he was
gone; well, we set down to the table; he was orful kind, for he helped
me tu everything he could on the tableall kinds of chicken-fixens and
gingerbread arrangements; he then asked me tu take a glass of wine; I
told him I was a little tew much of a temperance man for that; he said
certainly he wouldn't ask me if I had any scrooples agin' it; he asked
me if I was opposed to drinkin' cider; I said no, if it was sweet; he
said that they had got in, about a week before, a barrel of sweet
cider, which had jest enough snap in it tu make it taste good; he told
the nigger to take a bottle of wine up stairs tu his sick nephew, and
tu bring a pitcher full of cider up stairs from the new barrel; the
nigger left with the bottle and the pitcher, and in about five minutes
came back intu the room with the pitcher full of the slickest cider I
ever seen; I drunk some of it, and it tasted so good that I drunk more;
when I had taken almost enough, the gentleman asked me tu go into the
back room where a lot of men was a setting around a table, holdin'
little round pieces of bone in their hands and puttin' 'em down, and
another man was fumblin' with some pieces of paper; I asked him if they
wasn't playin' cards, 'cause I thought they looked as if they was; he
said no, that they was Wall street stock-dealers, and that the pieces
of bone stood for so many shares of stock; he asked if I wouldn't like
to become a stock-jobber, and he said there was a power of money tu be
made at the business; I said I guessed not, but he seemed tu be anxious
tu do a little at it himself, and he asked me to lend him a hundred
dollars which he would give back tu me when his brother came; after he
had give me three or four more glasses of cider, which, by this time,
he poured out of bottles, I handed him my money-puss and told him tu
help himself; he opened it and took out all there was in it, which was
ten dollars; he asked me if that was all I had got, and I told him that
my calculations bad been jest right; that when I started from hum I had
an idee that I should land with jest ten dollars in my puss; he then
asked me if I had brought any checks or drafts, and I told him no; so
he said he would borrow the ten, and he went into the stock business
pretty heavy, and I watched to see how he made in the speculation, but
after takin' three or four more glasses of that cider, I kinder lost
the run of the speculation; he then said it would be a good idee tu go
out and get some fresh air, which we did, after taking a little more of
that cider; as we went along the streets, I thought that we didn't have
tu move our feetthat the street moved up and down tu save us the
trouble; the houses kinder got to playin' blind man's buff, and the
streets got to heaving up and down orfully, and when I was wonderin'
what on airth made it, I missed the gentleman; that, squire, is about
all I recollect; but the fun of the matter is this, that I was cute
enough not tu tell the gentleman I had three hundred dollar bills
tucked behind the strap of my boot, in the leg.'
Mr. Pettingill then took one of his boots from the floor, drew out
the three hundred dollar bills, and held them up as a triumph of St.
'Now,' said he, 'squire, I want you tu show me a tarvern where
nobody won't want tu borrow money of me. I am a little 'spicious of
that man's brother. I don't believe he intended to pay me.'
I told him that his present quarters were as desirable, in all
points of view, as any he could find in the city, after which I
informed him, much to his astonishment, that he had been taken to a
gambling-house, and it was owing to his 'cuteness,' which, it seems,
did not forsake him when drunk, that he had not lost all his money.
Mr. Pettingill thanked me for the part I had taken in his behalf,
and gave me a pressing invitation to come to his place in St. Lawrence
county, next summer, and spend a month with him, all of which I
promised to do, if it was possible.
Mr. Quackenbush was congratulated on his good fortune in coming
across that particular species of the elephant, whose nature and
characteristics he had so happily and correctly delineated in his
It was moved by Mr. Dropper that a copy of the contribution be
requested from Quackenbush, to make cigar-lighters of, and that the
original be deposited in the big room of the American Institute, as a
specimen of bad chirography.
Mr. Q. said he would see them blowed first.
Mr. Van Dam next proceeded with his contribution:
A few evenings since, said he, as I was passing through one of
the streets of Gotham, I observed a crowd collected near a corner
grocery. Thinking that an opportunity was afforded to see something
worth taking a note of, I ran for the spot in time to see the
difficulty. I found there a man, holding with each hand a boy, and both
of the juveniles making frantic efforts to release themselves from his
grasp. The man was a small, cadaverous-appearing individual, a compound
of gamboge and chalk, the gamboge predominating. There was a tinge of
yellow in his face, he had yellow hair, and he had on a suit of summer
clothes, made of some yellow material. Nature had favored him with a
dwarfed moustache, composed of twenty-eight yellow hairs, and also an
incipient beard, made up of seventy-six yellow hairs, and turned out in
the shape of a triangle, the base of which rested upon the chin, at the
point where it begins to retreat, and the apex of which reached the
middle of his under lip.
The appearance of the boys would indicate that they were of Irish
birth. One had a squint-eye and a head of hair which the youth of
America are accustomed to designate as 'brick-top.' His snub nose was
ordinarily directed to an imaginary point in the heavens, about
forty-five degrees above the horizon. His garments were not altogether
the style which would be pronounced au fait, by a Broadway
leader of the fashion. It would seem that he had only one purpose in
view in jumping into the aforesaid garments, which purpose was, not to
create a sensation, either by the accuracy of their fit, or the newness
of the material, but rather to cover his form, and keep out the cold,
at such times as the clerk of the weather was induced to fetch up
heated terms all standing, and give us a specimen of the temperature,
perhaps somewhat mollified, which is supposed to exist in the immediate
vicinity of Symmes Hole. The description of one of the boys will do
very well for the other, except that in some particulars he was a
little more so, and in others a little less, which statement,
gentlemen, I consider sufficiently definite for all practical purposes.
The sympathies of the bystanders seemed to be decidedly in favor of
the boys, who were so violent in their resistance that the man could
hold them only with great difficulty. Once they tripped him, and then
all three fell over a barrel of turnips, upsetting a barrel-cover
containing apples; but the man was enabled to continue his hold on the
boys. At last, when one of them, by tangling his leg around the man,
upset him into a tub of pickles, the man called out, in a shrill voice,
'Vatch! vatch!' All this transpired amid the shouts of the lookers-on.
'Go in, blinky,' said one. 'Keep a going, sour krout,' said another;
and various were the remarks of this character which were heard. But,
as usual, the police were not at hand, and the sequel proved that their
absence was rather to be desired than otherwise. Notwithstanding the
fact that the sympathies of the crowd were apparently in favor of the
boys, yet the general feeling seemed to be that the merits of the case
should be understood, and when the boys made an effort to escape, they
were prevented; and when the vanquished German had extricated himself
from the pickle-tub, one of the persons asked what the boys had done.
'Do,' said the grocery-keeper, 'dey do so much as to sends dem to
de States brison. Dey is de vorst poys as runs in de shtreets. De oder
night dey comes here to mine shtore-crocery a koople of times, and ven
I vas not see dem, dey ketch my cats by de dails, and dies
vire-crackers to de cat's dail, on de shtep-valk, and den sets vire to
de crackers, and trows de cats down. Den de cats she runs like de
tuyvel into de shtore so much scare. She yump all around on de
counters, over into de barrels, breaks into bieces some new bottles vat
I buy yust, sets vire to some paper vat vas lay on de counters, tumbles
over ebery dings vat vas in de vay, and gets all shplitter shplatter
mixed up togedder. I find some shweet oil bottles shpill in de box fon
green dea; she knock down fom de shelf a big match-box, vich hold a
gross fon matches, and dey go off and shmell so vorse mit primstone as
if de tuyvel had moved into mine shtore-crocery, and I can't tell you
so much damage as it do; and ven I look for de cats, I find her about
an hour rolled up in a pasket fon green beas, mit all de hair scorch
off de pehind side fon her. Dis vas on Saturday night vill be two
'Why didn't you catch them then?' asked one of the party.
'Ketch dem,' said the grocery-man; 'pefore I vas get over mine
scare, dey vas run avay, and you might yust so vell try to find a
needle mit a hay-shtacks as to find dem. But I tells de constopples
about dem, and dey say dey vill look out for dem. Vell, two tree days
go by, and von morning I comes down shtairs to unlocks de door fon mine
shtore-crocery. De key vas in de inside de door, and ven I durns dem
round to unlock dem yust, I hears some-dings shoot off on de oder side
de door. I vas much scare, and I runs up shtairs, for I dinks some
feller vants to shoot me, and I sends my vife out de oder door to look
round on de shtep-walk, and see who vas dere. Ven she come back she say
der bin no beeples dere, and so I go vonce more to unlocks de door. I
durns de key so quick as I can, ven pop! crack! shoot! I hears again de
noise. I vas so much scare dat I falls over, and I bulls de door open.
Ven I finds I vas not shoot, I looks in de lock and finds dere some
bieces baper, vat you make de little vite vire-crackersyou call'
'Torpedoes,' suggested one of the persons present.
'Yes, dorpedoes,' resumed the German, 'dat's the name.'
'How do you know these boys put torpedoes in your lock?' asked one.
'I know it so vell as I vants to know,' was the response.
'Did you see 'em do it, or did anybody else? was the next question.
'No, I did not see dem do it, but I know it was dem I can, shvear
it vas dem,' said the confident accuser.
'Pretty good swearin,' said a man in a red shirt. 'Say, old sour
krout,' he continued, 'what else have the boys done?'
'Mine Gott!' said the corner grocery-man, despairingly, 'is dat not
enough vat I have tell you? Ven I go out my shtore-crocery for a
minute, vonce dey durns de shpiggot fon de lager bier and vinegar
parrells, and dey runs out in de floor and vaste; ven doy see me in de
shtreets dey calls me 'Old nicht's cum araus, sour kraut, sprech
Deutsch.' Dey finds dead rats, and trovs dem on mine awning till
dey shmells so bad; dey brings an old barber's pole, and sets dem up
before mine shtore-crocery, on vich vas paint, 'shaving done here,' and
ven de beeples see de sign, dey laughs and say good, and it make all
mine customers dink dat I cheat dem.'
'Is that all?' inquired a bystander.
'No,' said the German, emphatically, 'I can tell you more as dat.'
'But how do you know these boys did all these things,' inquired
'All de beeples say dey is de fellers,' was the reply.
'What did they do to-night?' inquired another of the crowd.
'Vell I tell you dat,' said the persecuted merchant. To night I vas
shtand in front von mine shtore, to talk mit a carman, who have bring
some dings to me. Pretty soon, he get on his cart and drive off, and
ven he shtart, a parrell von botatoes, dat shtand on de edge fon de
shtep-valk, tip over in de shtreet, and de botatoes fall out and
shcatter about, and the parrell it go yumping along de shtreets, mit de
cart; I holler for de carman and he shtop. Ven I go to see, I find dat
a rope vas tie round the parrel, and hitch to de cart-veel close; vell,
I bick up de botatoes, and put de parrel vonce more on de shtep-valk,
and keep vatch. Soon I see dese boys come along, and dey look at me mit
de tuyvel in deir eyes, and I know it vas dem. Yust den I run and ketch
The details of the case being pretty well understood, it became a
question with the crowd what should be done. The general opinion was
that the boys were wrong in their continued annoyances of the Dutchman,
though they did not think the case was one sufficiently aggravated to
justify their being turned over either to the police or to the
vengeance of the grocery-man. At last a portly old Knickerbocker, who
had laughed heartily at the Dutchman's narration, essayed to act as
'What's your name,' said he to one of the boys with assumed
'Mike Hannegan,' said he, 'and this 'ere boy is Barney Doolan.'
'Oh, you young rascals,' continued the gentleman, 'you deserve to
be arrested for your bad ways. You are very bad boys, you know you are,
whether you are the ones who have bothered the Dutchman or not. He
guessed right, I think, in supposing you to be the boys. But if these
gentlemen will let you off, will you stop troubling him in the future?'
'Yes, sir,' said both of the boys, meekly.
'Then cut stick, both of you,' said he.
Just then an individual with a remarkable loaferish air, dressed in
a blue single-breasted frock coat, with a row of military buttons, a
blue cap with silver mountings, and a brass star on his breastan
individual, in brief, known as a policemanarrived on the spot, and
inquired what was the trouble. After informing him that he was a day
after the fair, I left the vicinity.
When Mr. Van Dam concluded, on motion of Mr. Boggs it was
Resolved, that the members of the club do now proceed, each
man for himself, to light his pipe.
The resolution was acceded to without a dissenting voter.
Dennis, Wagstaff, and Overdale, as usual, had been investigating in
company, Overdale taking the lead, and Wagstaff taking notes, and all
three occasionally taking egg-noggs.
A unanimous call was made for Wagstaff's notebook, which was
The reading of Mr. Wagstaff's notes was prefaced by statements on
the part of Dennis and Overdale which made the following facts apparent
to the club. The previous evening the three went into a Greenwich
street bar-room, on the invitation of Overdale to pay a visit to
Delmonico's, to get a piece of pie and some cigars. Whilst partaking of
the order, a singular person entered the room. His beauty was decidedly
of the yard-stick character. He was long as a projected Iowa railroad,
and as symmetrical as a fence-rail; his face was as expressionless as
the head of Shakspeare which is seen on the drop-curtain of the
Broadway Theatre, surrounded by a triple row of attenuated sausages.
His square and angular shoulders made him resemble a high-shouldered
pump, while his arms moved with as much ease and grace as the handle to
the same. Long, black hair, parted in the middle, was soaped down until
the oleaginous ends reposed upon the unctuous collar of his seedy coat.
His shirt-collar, guiltless of starch, was unbuttoned at the neck and
laid far back over his vest, doubtless to display a neck which, had it
been cut off, was long enough to tie.
He had seated himself, and had settled down into a misanthropic
quiet, when a little stubby man, with one eyethe very ideal of a
Washington market butcherhappened to enter. As soon as the
first-mentioned subject saw him, he jumped up, rushed at the stubby
man, and had hardly touched him, before a blow from the fist of the
stubby man caused him to collapse on the floor. The stubby man followed
up his success by pulling the nose of his fallen enemy, and threatening
to give him a tolerable shake-up, if he ever came round his shop
The conflict was brief, as it soon drew in quite a crowd, and
amongst others a policeman. The tall man was pointed out as the
aggressor, but the stubby man said he didn't want to appear agin' the
crack-brained cuss; that he guessed he (the said cuss) had got the
worst of it.
But the assembled multitudes were not satisfied. They thought it was
due to them that they should have an explanation, and as the tall
individual seemed anxious, and the stubby individual didn't make any
objections, a ring was formed to give the parties a chance to be heard.
The stubby man said that while the other was exercisin' his jaw,
he'd have some ham'neggs; whilst he was eating, the tall individual
told his story, which was one of blighted hopes, disappointed
expectations, unrequited love, and unappreciated genius. Wagstaff's
notes of his words read as follows:
'My name is Julius Jenkins, and I have a cousin named Betsey Brown;
I love my cousin Betsey; have always loved my cousin Betsey, from the
time when as children we tore in loving partnership our mutual
pantalets and petticoats (for these legs once wore pantalets, and their
symmetry was hidden from admiration by petticoats), looking for
blackberries in a cedar-swamp; from the time we sucked eggs together in
the barn-yard and 'teetered' in happy sport upon the same board; from
the time we built playhouses in the garden and made puppy-love behind
the currant bushes; from those happy days of rural felicity until the
present time, my cousin Betsey has been the ideal of my soul. We used
to eat bread and milk out of the same bowl, dig angleworms with the
same shovel, go fishing in the same creek, steal apples from the same
orchard, and crawl through the same hole in the fence when the man
chased us. Through all my lonely life the memory of cousin Betsey has
been my guardian angel. I have been exposed to dire temptations; once I
was reduced to such extremity that I was about to earn my dinner by
sawing wood, but my cousin Betsey seemed to rise before me and say,
Julius, don't degrade yourself; and I didn't. I cast the saw to the
earth, and begged my dinner from a colored washerwoman. I once accepted
a situation as a clerk in a retail grocery. I stayed a week, but on
every barrel of sugar, on every bar of soap, in every keg of lard, in
each individual potato, in every bushel in all the cellar, I saw the
reproachful face of my cousin Betsey; it rose before me from the oily
depths of the butter-firkin, and from the cratery interior of the
milk-can; the very peanuts rose up in judgment against me, and had on
each separate end a speaking likeness of my cousin Betsey, which said,
Julius, don't degrade yourself; I couldn't stand it; in the darkness
of night I packed up my wardrobe (comprising one shirt of my own and
two I borrowed from a neighboring clothes-line), helped myself to the
small change, and vanished; I became a painter, I executed a portrait
of my cousin Betsey; I asked a critical friend to see my masterpiece;
he gazed a moment, and then asked me which was the tail end; the dolt!
he thought I meant it for a pig; I wrote poetry to my cousin Betsey,
but the printer returned it because I spelled Cupid with a K, and put
the capitals at the wrong end of my words; the uninformed ass; he did
not understand the eccentricities of genius; I became an actor, and
attempted Othello; at the rise of the curtain I was saluted with a
shower of onions from appreciative friends, and at its fall I was
presented by the manager with a brush, to which he added his gratuitous
advice that I should keep the paint on my face and go into the
boot-blacking business; I turned composer, but could never get my
Bootjack Waltz published, or my oratorio of The Ancient Applewoman
before the public; at last my cousin Betsey came to live in the city,
and I thought once more to possess her love, but I found a rival; a
one-eyed butcher; I wrote letters to her; I know that they should have
been tied with blue ribbon, but necessity dictated cotton twine; I sent
her presents; not so valuable as I could have wished; my intention was
good but my means were limited; I could have wished to offer gold and
jewels, but I could never afford more than a string of smelts, or half
a pint of huckleberries; I resolved to serenade my cousin Betsey; I
procured a violin, strung with the daintiest filaments ever made from
the bowels of the most delicate female feline infant; I repaired
beneath her window and commenced my song, but the butcher came to the
window, threw down a dime, and told me to go away; he took me for an
organ-grinder; I indignantly stamped the money into the earth, but
thought again, picked it up and purchased some brandy to nerve me for a
desperate deed; I had resolved to see that butcher, to meet that
butcher, to challenge that butcher, to fight that butcher, to conquer
that butcher or to die; yesterday I went to that butcher's shop to
execute my design, but he kicked me out. To day I came in here in
despair; who should come in but the butcher; now was my chance; I
rushed at him, but my personal strength was not equal to the task; he
boxed my ears, pulled my nose, and I was cheated out of my revenge,
simply because I wasn't able to lick him. Now I demand of this
intelligent assembly, as a matter of right, the instant annihilation of
the one-eyed butcher now present, the author of all my miseries, that
my Betsey may be restored to me.'
Mr. Jenkins sank into a chair, exhausted by his effort.
The butcher wiped his chops on a red silk handkerchief, and then
proceeded to tell his story, which was as follows, as appears by
'This here feller's allers botherin' my wife, 'cause he says she's
his'n; yesterday he gits drunk, comes in my place, and wants to fight
me. I told him to leave, and he wouldn't, so I hussled him out. I
happened to come in here jus' now, and he comes at me. I doubles him
up, and that's the hull story.'
The laconic statement of the one-eyed stubby butcher satisfied the
parties assembled that Mr. Jenkins's insane pursuit of another man's
wife had justly brought upon him the indignation of the husband, and he
was advised very generally, in the future, to cease all importunities
of a similar character.
Finding that his story excited no sympathy in his behalf, Mr.
Jenkins left the place in disgust, and the three Elephantines soon
after left in an omnibus.
Mr. Spout here arose, and said he liked the story in all of its
parts, except the concluding joke, which he considered to be, not only
unkind, but uncalled for. He should take the liberty of considering it
expunged from the records.
Some member here dared to suggest that it was high time that the
Higholdboy should do something else than criticise the contributions of
Mr. Spout desired it to be understood that he should admit of no
dictation from inferiors; that he should exercise his own discretion in
deciding whether he would contribute to the amusement of others, or
criticise them in their efforts to be jolly. Yet, without giving up any
of this right, he would volunteer to lay before the club, on the
present occasion, a matter which, to him, possessed some points of
interest, and as he didn't care whether it interested the others or
not, he should state facts for his own amusement. He intended to laugh
at everything which he thought was funny, without any reference to the
comfort of others.
The circumstance which I am about to relate, said Mr. Spout, is
one in which a friend of mine was involved. My friend's name, he
continued, is Bartholomew Buxton. He is the owner of a book-store, and
was led into that business on account of a thirst for reading. He is a
man of about thirty-five years, and his whole life has been passed in
poring over books. I regard him as a man of very rare intelligence,
though his intellect is not, perhaps, very fruitful of original
thoughts. What is remarkable with him is his personal appearance. He is
a little man, just large enough to be entitled to enter the armythat
is to say, 'five-foot-four.' His body is very small, and his head very
large, round, and full. His hair is of a sandy color, and of the
scratch wig order of cut. His eyes are small, and one of them squints
frightfully. His complexion is quite pale. In the matter of dress, he
wears usually a pair of pants of a
checker-board-pattern-on-a-large-scale cloth, blue dress-coat,
ornamented with large fancy brass buttons, and a vesta
double-breasterof the brightest scarlet. But these eccentricities in
apparel would hardly attract attention so long as the main feature of
his dress is visible. That feature is his collar. It is a remarkable
collara mighty rampart of linen, which encircles his head in a line
with the centres of his ears, almost meeting in his face. Numerous
reasons have been assigned for Mr. Buxton's going to such lengths (or
rather heights) in his indulgence in collar. One idea advanced is, that
he is actuated by a desire to economize in the expenses of washing, and
to do this, has the garments made in such a way as to be convertible
into collars at either end. Another suggestion is, that the collar is a
matter of utility, designed by Mr. Buxton to economize physical
strength, which, inasmuch as his head is very large and his body very
small, must be overtaxed to hold his ponderous brain-box erect.
Gentlemen, three days since I received a call from my friend
Buxton. He appeared melancholy and dejected, which surprised me; but
what surprised me more, in respect to his present appearance, was the
manifest disarrangement of his collar. It did not stand up on one side
with the majestic erectness which characterized it on the other. On the
left it was hanging down flabbily; its self-sustaining power was
I saw, by his countenance, that something important to him had
occurred, and the appearance of his collar only tended to confirm my
suspicions. I accordingly asked him what was the trouble.
'Trouble,' said he, 'enough of it. Sir,' he continued, 'last night
I was locked up in a cell at the station-house, for exercising the
privileges of a freemana native American citizen. I was arrested, and
violently dragged off to that cell, where I remained last night, and
this morning was tried before the magistrate, only, however, to be
acquitted. What made it worse was, that I should be arrested with a
nigger, and be tried with a nigger, and acquitted with a nigger. He was
a huge niggera colossal niggera nigger fully six feet and four
inches in height; his face betrayed no evidence of lightit was all
shade; he was a nigger, above all others, so black, that he would make
an excellent drum-major to a funeral procession, if custom sanctioned
the employment of that non-commissioned official on such occasions.
Inasmuch, however, as custom doesn't do any such thing, the next best
use to which the sable giant could be put, would be to make his face
the figurehead of a Broadway mourning store; with the exception of his
large size and remarkable black face, the nigger in question looked
very much like other niggers not in question. He was a nigger, in fact,
who gave as his name the half-classic and half-descriptive appellation
of Cesar Freeman. I have always been a woolly-head until now, but may
I be bursted if I don't go and join the Know Nothings to-morrow, and
begin a crusade against all niggersparticularly nigger-giants and
'How did this occur?' I inquired, anxiously.
'I'll tell you,' said he. 'But before doing so however, I desire to
state a fact. We have all our human weaknesses; indeed, it may be set
down as a truism that human beings do have human weaknesses to a
greater or less extent; I am a human being; I have my human weakness,
and that weakness is my collars; it required years of experiment to
bring my collars to their present perfection; nearly all of the
quarrels I ever had have been with laundresses who have failed to do
them up to my liking; if a man wishes to ruffle my temper he need only
to ruffle my collar, and it is accomplished; tell me the Savings Bank,
where I deposit my extra money, has collapsed in the region of the
money-vault; tell me that I have got to attend a charity ball; give me
the jumping toothache; place me in a Bowery stage with fourteen inside,
and I in juxtaposition to a dirty woman with a squalling baby who has
got the seven years' itchall of these I can bear, but when it comes
to interfere with my collars it is going a point too far. Now I come to
the time when unforeseen circumstances brought me in violent collision
with this nigger of African extraction; I was walking down the street,
near where the belligerent demonstration took place, when I saw
directly in front of me a long-tailed man in an amiable-appearing
coatnoan amiable-appearing coat in a long-tailednoI mean an
amiable-appearing man in a long-tailed coat. For my life I could not
conceive why that amiable individual's proclivities in matters of
apparel should lead him to wear a garment of so ridiculous a cut. I had
just come to the sage conclusion that it was because every donkey in
the country chooses to have his hips appear high or low to suit the
caprice of Broadway tailors, when at that moment the amiable person,
together with his long-tailed coat, was driven from my mind. I became
suddenly conscious that an important event had transpired. An elderly
female nigger, in throwing water on a store-window which she was
cleaning, did not confine her professional favors exclusively to the
window for which she had been hired, but she disbursed copious supplies
of Croton upon the passers-by, for which she had not been hired. In
fact, I am bold to assert, that several persons were favored with
several gratuitous duckings by this colored female. I was one of those
persons; a bountiful current of water interrupted the current of my
thoughts; like a juvenile Niagara, it dashed against my collar in the
left side, as you can see. Now, my collar is impervious to
perspiration, but it could not stand up under the soaking of a
cataract; as my collar fell my choler rose; I looked around at the
sable author of my troubles, and I saw on her face an exultant grin at
what she had done. I felt as if I would like to have crammed a wet
broom which she had in her hand down her throat, splint end downwards;
for obvious reasons I did not do this; but I did speak to her in
language expressive of my emphatic disapprobation of the unasked-for
and informal baptism with which she had been pleased to favor me; I
suppose my words must have frightened her; at any rate she fell off
from a stool on which she was elevated; she gave a scream; this black
Hercules came down the stairs; she informed him that I had insulted
her; he looked at me with his teeth grinning as if he would like to
have eaten me without gravy or condiment; he gave one diabolical grin,
and then came at me. I am not pugnacious; a lamb-like inoffensiveness
has ever been my prominent characteristic; I have a constitutional
repugnance to a fight, either with weapons natural or artificial; if
loaded fire-arms are around I never feel so safe as when I see the
butt-ends pointed at my vital parts; though not a member of the Peace
Society, yet that society has ever had in me an ardent sympathizer;
peaceful though I be, yet, when the sleeping lion within me is aroused,
I know no bounds to my rage, and I insist upon going about, seeking
whom I may devour; I saw the belligerent attitude of my enemy; he
struck me; we grappled; an insatiable desire to taste the flesh of a
colored man at that instant seized upon me; in a moment the digits of
his right hand were between my teeth; I know that for a moment or two
hostilities were active; I became conscious, too, that hostilities
ceased; I soon learned the cause; the cause was the arrival of two
policemen, who are always around when they shouldn't be, and never when
they should. I was brought to the station-house.'
'Well, what took place before the court?' I asked.
'At seven this morning,' said Buxton, 'we were brought before the
judge, and put in a pen; on one side of me was the aforesaid nigger,
and on the other side a disgusting piece of feminine humanity; an
importation from Ireland, who had just come off from a bender. Our
names were finally called, the nigger's first, by all that's holy. Two
officers who arrested us were the witnesses; they testified that on
last evening, about dusk, they were engaged in conversation on the
corner of a street which forms the boundary line between their
respective beats, when they saw a crowd collected on the sidewalk,
about a square above; they ran there, and they saw me and the nigger
engaged in a fight; they said that the nigger was striking me violently
with his left fist; his right hand was between my teeth, while I was
kicking and striking the nigger very generally and promiscuously, and a
nigger woman who was present was laying the blows on me with a broom
whenever she could; at that moment they arrested me and the nigger; it
required all their strength to secure us, such was the violence of our
efforts to get away; hence they were unable to take the woman into
'The judge showed the cussed bad taste to ask the nigger to make
his statement first. The nigger said that I had insulted his wife, and
had made improper proposals to her; that made me wrathy; I told him
that he was guilty of uttering a falsehood before the court;
emphatically pronounced his assertion relative to my making an
insulting proposal to that feminine lump of animated charcoal, with
whom he very properly cohabited, to be an unequivocal lie; I am no
controversalist, and still less would I descend from my exalted height
to engage in a controversy with that herculean African, especially
after enduring the perspiration, which, despite my frantic efforts to
the contrary, I was compelled to suffer during a hot night, in a cell
where any respectable thermometer, if it could be induced to go into
the cell once, if it was anything at all, would be a hundred at least;
yes, sir,' he continued, 'and should you ever have a morbid desire to
enter into controversy, recline your heated form of a hot night in the
cell which I occupied, and by morning you will insist upon retiring
into some secluded spot, from which secluded spot you can look
dispassionately and unmoved upon the moral strifes of the world.
'Well, the up-shot of the matter was that both of us were
I gave Mr. Buxton what consolation I could, after which he took his
departure to put on a new collar.
When Mr. Spout had concluded his narration, he proceeded to awaken
such of the members of the club as were still present, telling them
that it was time to go home. But he did not succeed in fully arousing
them to an appreciation of the lateness of the hour, until he had put
ice into their boot-legs and shirt-bosoms.
THE CLUB IN AN UPROAR.
Now doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour
And gather honey all the day
From every opening
TOWARDS nine o'clock one evening, the members of the club had
casually convened in the club-room, although no notice had been given
that they were to assemble on that occasion. The only absentee was
Johnny Cake, but this created no surprise, as the wonder was, not why
any member was absent, but why so many were present.
An hour was passed in discussing the current events of the day, when
some member suggested, that if anybody had anything to offer, either
amusing or instructive, an excellent opportunity was now afforded.
It so happened that Mr. Remington Dropper had in his pocket a
quantity of foolscap, on which he had written a statement of certain
experience, with which he had been favored on the previous day.
A general wish was expressed that Mr. Dropper might make himself
useful in the exigency. He consented, and after the members had lighted
their pipes, the barkeeper had been signalized for eight
whisky-punches, and the Higholdboy had seated himself in his chair, the
meeting was declared to be duly organized.
Mr. Dropper commenced:
Yesterday, said he, I had the pleasure of seeing our favorite
quadruped as he appeared on Broadway, from an omnibus, whilst on a
voyage from the South Ferry to Union Square. At half-past two o'clock I
went over the ferry to Hamilton Avenue, Brooklyn. Having transacted my
business, set out on my return, jumped aboard the ferry-boat and was
soon on the New York side; stepped outside the gate, when I was beset
by two dozen different omnibus agents, and as many different drivers.
'Here y'ar, right up Broadway.' 'Wide awake, 'ere Bower' un' Gran'
street.' 'Right up Broadway, Sixth Avenue.' 'Here's Broad'ay, Bleeck'
street, un' Eigh thavenue.' 'Here y'ar Bowery un' Ouston street.'
'I want to go to Greenwich Avenue,' said a timid old gentleman.
'Here y'ar,' said the agent, as he took the old gentleman by the
seat of his pantaloons, and threw him head first into an East Broadway
The old gentleman, as soon as he could recover from his
astonishment, looked out of the window at the agent.
'Sir,' said he, 'does this stage carry me to Greenwich Avenue?'
'Certing,' was the prompt reply, 'you'll get there, never fear.
Here's Eas' Broadway un' Dry Dock.'
'Where do you want to go madam?' asked the Ninth Avenue stage-agent
of a lady accompanied by a little boy.
'To the Crystal Palace,' said the lady.
'Here y'ar then,' said he, as he placed her in the stage which
probably stopped fully three quarters of a mile from the place.
At last, all the persons desiring to ride had secured seats in
stages, but whether the stages they desired is quite doubtful. I
jumped in a Broadway and Fourteenth street stage, the agent gave the
door two slams, and off we started. The passengers were an old maid
with a poodle dog, a young miss who had just put on a long dress, a
German, an old buffer who occupied space for two, and myself. Suddenly
we stopped in Whitehall street, on our larboard side we find ourselves
caught against a Sixth Avenue stage coming down, and our starboard
quarter caught against the hubs of a cart. Carman apologeticSixth
Avenue stage-driver affable. Passengers frightened. Maiden lady with
poodle dog exclaimed, 'Oh, dear me!' Poodle dog barked. Fat gentleman
thought that stage-drivers now-a-days were growing too careless. Got
under way. Sighted Bowling Green off our port bow. Female from Ireland
with native infant hailed the vehicle. Driver stopped. Female from
Ireland tumbled up the steps. Driver slammed the door, which struck the
female from Ireland a severe blow in the rear. Result, female from
Ireland lying prostrate on the floor, and native infant lying around
loose on the person of the old maid, in the particular premises claimed
by the poodle dog. Poodle dog barked and snapped at native infant;
native infant cried. Old maid scolds female from Ireland. Female from
Ireland takes up native infant, and anathematizes poodle dog. Fat
gentleman suggests that it's all the result of the recklessness of the
driver. Old lady and female from Ireland pacified. German female, with
a basket of dirty clothes, seeks admittance. Driver accommodating.
Enter German female, and exit myself. Take my position on top with the
driver. Band of music heard in the direction of Wall street. Target
company turn into Broadway. Inebriated negro carrying a target, on
which is inscribed, 'Michael Flinn Guard, Capt. Pat. Sweeny.' Horse
attached to a buggy coming down Broadway, unused to military
demonstrationsunaccustomed to the noises of sixteen German gentlemen,
making frantic efforts to blow their brains out through brass horns.
Horse rears and plunges into the rank and file of the Michael Flinn
Guard. Consternation of the infantry at an unexpected attack from the
cavalry. Cavalry triumphant. Michael Flinn Guard commence throwing
stones at individual in the buggy. Individual drives off. Plethoric
German scrapes himself up, and finds the starch entirely taken out of
his ophicleide. German with light moustache has lost the mouth-piece of
his E flat saxe horn; Michael Flinn Guards endeavoring to find their
arms. Irish corporal unable to discover his bayonet. First lieutenant
finds his sword run through the tenor drum. Ambitious private finds the
pewter cake-basket he won as a prize, with the butt end of a musket
through it. Guns in several instances in fragments; swords broken;
brass horns disjointed, and, as a consequence, music non est. By
general consent, Michael Flinn Guards break ranks and disperse. Lady
with hoop skirts hails the driver. Driver again obliging. Enter hoop
skirts. Gentleman with a baby-wagon hails driver. 'Whoa-'p.'
Astonishing driver. Gentleman lifts up the baby-wagon on the top.
Driver receives it, and gently smashes it in pieces. Gentleman gets
inside. Dropsical individual on the starboard quarter hails us. The
gentleman enters, and again we are under way. Teutonic target company
turn into Broadway from Courtlandt street'The Lager Bier Invincibles,
Capt Conrad Künzmüller.' Suddenly find ourselves smashed up amid a
perfect labyrinth of carts, stages, buggies, wagons, horses, mules,
cotton bales, boxes, furniture, drivers, policemen, passengers,
pedestrians, &c. A wagonload of dirt on our port sidewagon-driver
unsophisticated; unused to driving in New York. In advance a cart
having two bales of hay on board. Our horses, having nothing else to
do, make efforts to get at the hay. Our driver again accommodating. He
gets down and unchecks the horses. Horses proceed to make inroads upon
property not belonging to the omnibus company. Carman discovers the
larceny. Indignant carman. Hits our horses over the head with the butt
end of his whip. Reciprocal indignation. Our driver gives carman a cut
across his proboscis with a long lash.
Our progress continues.
Fat gentleman impatient. Reasserts his previously-expressed
conviction, that the stage is an imposition: says he'll get out. Driver
insists on payment. Fat gentleman passes up a quarter. Driver passes
him back a ten-cent piece and eight cents. Fat gentleman insists that
he is swindled to the extent of one cent, which he demands. Driver very
obliging, and 'don't he wish he may get it.' Fat gentleman gets out,
but finds himself completely surrounded by vehicles, and without a
possibility of being able to reach the curb-stone in safety, concludes
to enter the stage again. Driver refuses to open the door. Fat
gentleman demands to be admitted. Driver says he'll see him blowed
first. Fat gentleman frantic, but driver incorrigible. At last fat
gentleman gets on his hands and knees, and, after crawling under a team
of horses and the tails of two carts, reaches the sidewalk. Again
moving. Irish female with native infant pulls the strap. Driver
accommodating. Female inquires if this is a Bowery stage. Driver says
no. Female insists upon getting out. Driver insists, with equal warmth,
that, as a prior condition, she must disgorge a sixpence. Female
indisposed to comply. Old maid with the poodle dog gives the strap
three convulsive jerks. 'Whoa-'p.' Old maid says that native infant,
belonging to female from Ireland, has the ship fever. Female from
Ireland indignantly denies the statement, and says that it is only
the itch. Old maid swoons. Poodle dog barks at all the passengers
generally, and the female from Ireland particularly. Dropsical
gentleman puts some smelling-salts under the nose of old maid. Happy
result. Old maid revives, and asks if anybody beside herself was
injured by the explosion. Sight Fulton street off our starboard bow.
Enter Fifth Avenue and Amity street stages, R. 1st Entrance. Exit Irish
porter with a load of band-boxes, L. 1st Entrance, in time to save his
bacon and band-boxes. New feature coming up Fulton street from the East
River'The Sour Krout Guards, Captain Wilhelm Stein,' in return from
target excursion. Still another feature coming up Fulton street from
North River'The Patrick Gaffney Grenadiers, Captain Timothy Leahey,'
on a return from target excursion. Two companies approach one another.
Menacing looks on the part of the Sour Krout Guards. Bellicose attitude
of the Gaffney Grenadiers. Belligerent manifestation of the Sour
Krouts; corporal of the Gaffneys throws a brick at the Sour Krouts.
Sour Krouts boiling over with indignation, make a demonstration. Both
companies unused to the management of firelocks, but accustomed to war
and carnage. They lay down their arms and take up their fists. General,
promiscuous, and miscellaneous shoulder-hitting by the strength of both
companies. Enter third party. Mad bull rushes down Broadway and pitches
into the hottest of the fight, with horns down and tail up. Sour Krouts
and Gaffneys in consternation fly from the scene of the struggle in all
directions. Mad bull makes a descent into a mock auction shop. Stool
pigeons and auctioneer all knocked down without a bidder. Sudden fall
in pinchbeck watches. Bull stands for a moment in a contemplative mood
over the devastation, and then walks away with a dignified air.
Barnum's in sight. Lady and three children get inside. Female from
Ireland with native infant concludes to pay the sixpence and get out.
Astor House in the usual place. Barclay street in the distance. By way
of variety, a company turn into Broadway, 'The Tugmutton Terribles,
Captain Frightful Buster,' in a return from a target excursion at
Hoboken. The captain elevated, lieutenants inebriated, privates
intoxicated, the nigger target-bearer drunkeffect of having eaten too
many ham sandwiches. Stage again immobile. Two Hoosiers get inside, and
ask the driver to stop at the St. Nicholas Tavern. Funeral procession
coming down Broadway. Forty-nine carriages. Learned that the remains of
Dennis Hooligan, the keeper of a corner grocery in Hammersley street,
were being conveyed to their last resting-place. Just as the hearse
reaches Anthony street a ponderous cart crosses Broadway. Wheels
fifteen feet in diameter. Steamboat boiler suspended under the
axletree. Majestic vehicle fetches up all standing against a cart
loaded with flour. Fall in breadstuffs. Prodigal distribution of flour.
Hearse and funeral procession in close proximity.
Vehicles accumulate. Great commotion among drivers. Procession
mixed up in an indiscriminate verbal war. At last hearse manages to go
down towards the Five Points. The procession succeeds in getting out by
turning in the other direction, except the rear portion, which, to my
knowledge, never got out. Once more under way, and making good time.
Man with a gold-headed cane stops the stage, and passes up a five-cent
piece. Driver swears, and advises him to ride in the cars hereafter.
Driver suggests that he is full ten minutes behind time, and is bound
to make it up. Lays on the lash, much to the surprise of the animals.
Driver pulls up in front of the St. Nicholas Hotel, and announces the
spot through the money-hole. Nobody essays to pass up any fare. Driver
repeats the announcement. Nobody moves. Driver inquires, impatiently,
if there ain't 'two fellers inside wot wanted to git out at the St.
Nicholas Hotel.' Still no reply. Again the inquiry. One of the Hoosiers
said he asked him to 'stop at the St. Nicholas tarvern, 'cause why,
'cause he wanted to see it. He'd seen it enough; it was a purty nice
tarvern, he reckoned, and he might drive on.' Driver gave the horses an
extra cut, and we move again. Asthmatic party pulls the strap. After
feeling in all of his pockets for two minutes, informs the driver that
he left his porte-monnaie in his other pantaloons. Driver says
the story won't go downthat the game is too old. Party tries to make
his exit, but the door won't open, the driver holding hard on the
strap. Asthmatic party threatens to horsewhip driver. Driver says, 'any
time when conwenyent he hoped he'll make the trial.' Driver about to
start, when asthmatic party pulls out his jack-knife and cuts the
strap. Asthmatic party triumphs. Driver, frantic with rage, throws an
apple at asthmatic party, and hits asthmatic party on his
knowledge-box. Asthmatic party falls, and upsets an apple-stand. Celtic
female, the proprietor of the apple-stand, hits asthmatic party with a
brick. Both parties close in, and fight amid the ruins of the
apple-stand. Driver starts the horses, but looks around to watch the
fight. Horses sheer off to the starboard, and the hub of the hind wheel
breaks down a lamp-post. Driver observes policeman approaching at a
rapid speed. No time to survey the ruins, so he applies the lash, and
we move away from the scene of the mishap at a speed ominous of swift
destruction to horse-shoes and wagon-tires. Female, with three
children, calls out to stop, and passes up a three-dollar bill. Driver
inquires if she hasn't got any change. Female gives a negative
response. Driver gives change in small pieces, retaining as fare the
moderate sum of seventy-five cents for a woman and three children.
Woman attempts to count the change. Driver sings out to 'Hurry
upbehind timecan't wait all day.' Female bewildered, leaves with
her children, and driver whips up the horses, remarking that he
'guesses she'll learn, after a while, not to pass up bills for
stage-fare.' Soon reach Union Square. Tell the driver I'll get off.
Offer him a sixpence. Driver says, 'he'll not take a cent; that if
there ever was a nout-'n'-outer, I'm one, and he hopes that it won't be
the last time we'll meet; and if he only had time, he wouldn't let me
off without treatin' me.' I thanked him for his good opinion, shook
hands, and jumped off the box.
Thus, gentlemen, concluded Mr. Dropper, ends the history of my
voyage on an omnibus.
Mr. Quackenbush arose, and stated that he regarded Mr. Dropper's
paper as a valuable addition to the historical writings of the country.
He therefore moved that a gold medal be prepared by a committee of the
club, of which the Higholdboy should not be an ex-officio
member, for presentation to Mr. Dropper. Mr. Dropper to pay the whole
expense of procuring the same, and to stand a champagne supper for the
honor conferred on him.
The motion was carried with only one dissenting voicethat of Mr.
Dropper, who said he didn't want any such expensive and equivocal
The presiding officer informed Mr. Dropper that he was fined three
cents for contempt of club.
Over an hour was now passed in a state of inactivity. Some of the
members slept and some didn't. As a means of inducing excitement of
some kind, a member signalized the institution on the first floor for
pork and beans for the entire crowd. This was promptly answered, and
for a time the club had enough to engage its attention. After the
aforesaid luxuries had been duly disposed of, the members proceeded to
take seats, lie on the floor, prop themselves against the wall, and
hang themselves up on a peg, as best suited their independent fancies.
The presiding officer announced that the rules on this occasion would
be enforced strictly. Accordingly, each individual present began to do
exactly what pleased him, without any regard to the comfort,
convenience, or personal predilections of anybody else. The Higholdboy
first secured the left boot of every member present. After pulling a
boot on each leg of the table, he put one on each of his hands, like a
gauntlet, and then laid the seventh on the table. The object of Mr.
Spout, in pursuing this eccentric course of conduct, soon became
apparent, when he laid himself on the table, using the aforesaid
solitary boot as a pillow, it being manifest that he desired to
preclude the possibility of an adjournment during the nap, and inasmuch
as it would be found inconvenient for the members to leave the premises
with but a single pedal covering, and as it would be impossible for a
member to secure the other, without awakening the most venerable and
exceedingly somnolent Higholdboy, it will be apparent to the credulous
reader that Mr. Spout's idea was quite ingenious.
Under these circumstances, each member determined to make himself as
comfortable as the time, the place, and the conveniences would admit
Mr. Boggs was lying flat on his back, trying to drink a hot
whisky-punch without breaking the tumbler, spilling the liquor, or
getting the sugar inside his whiskers. Mr. Overdale was learning
juggling without a master, and was endeavoring to spin plates on his
whalebone cane. In striving to acquire this elegant accomplishment, he
had broken all the dishes in the premises. As he varied his
plate-spinning endeavors with repeated trials at tossing the cups and
balls, for which purpose he used the tumblers and coffee-cups, and as,
whenever he caught one cup, he dropped two, and stepped on the
fragments, the work of demolition went bravely on.
Mr. Van Dam amused himself by blacking the faces of all the pictures
in the room with charcoal. Dennis employed himself for an hour and a
half in whittling off with a jack-knife one leg of every chair in the
apartment, so as to make it four inches shorter than the rest. Wagstaff
collected all the books he could find, and piled them into a shaky
pyramid, which he was preparing to push over with a broomstick upon the
head of the unconscious Higholdboy.
Quackenbush had not been idle; taking advantage of the drowsiness of
his superior officer, he had sewed the bottoms of that gentleman's
pantaloons together with a waxed end, after which he made a moustache
on himself with burned cork, and then painted the left side of his face
in three-cornered patches like a sleepy harlequin, dyed his
shirt-collar scarlet with red ink, and went to sleep in the corner to
await the result, having first tripped up Mr. Overdale, who, by way of
a new variation in his juggling performances, was now trying to balance
the poker on his nose, while he held a rocking-chair in one hand and a
hat-box full of oyster shells in the other. Dropper had a checker-board
before him, and was superintending a game between his right and left
But suddenly, those of the Elephants who were in their waking
senses, became sensible of a noise outside. It begun at the foot of the
stairs, like the sound of a regiment of crazy Boston watchmen, all
springing their rattles at once. The noise became louder, and seemed to
be coming up the stairs, and now rivalled in sound a mail-train on a
race. Now the uproar became more distinct, and evidently proceeded from
some person or persons outside, who were provided with some ingenious
facilities for kicking up a row, with which ordinary roisterers are
unacquainted. These persons now began a furious attack upon the outer
walls. Mr. Overdale paused in his plate-breaking occupation, long
enough to pour out a few emphatic sentences, addressed to the
individuals outside, in which he consigned them to a locality too hot
for a powder-mill, and then resumed his practice.
As the door began to shake, Overdale laid down the poker, smashed
what few large pieces of plates were left over the head of the
recumbent Quackenbush, awoke the Higholdboy by rolling him off the
table, aroused the rest of the party by a few kicks in the ribs, and
then, undoing the fastenings of the door, was proceeding to expostulate
with the disturbers. No sooner, however, had he opened the door, than a
rush was made by the invaders, and Mr. Dropper upset by the besieging
party. Mr. Dropper fell upon the stomach of the half-awakened
Quackenbush, they both pitched into Mr. Boggs, and then all three
rolled over the Higholdboy. This last-named personage, having the
bottoms of his pantaloons sewed together, could not arise until the
friendly jack-knife unfettered his lengthy legs. All parties being
restored to the perpendicular, an immediate inquiry was made into the
cause of the disturbance.
Then it was discovered that the person who had kicked up this
diabolical bobbery was no less a personage than the heretofore discreet
and temperate Johnny Cake, aided and abetted by an individual unknown
to the rest of the company, but whose appearance bespoke him to be one
of the boys, who, although not an Elephant, presented at first sight
distinguished claims to be honored with that enviable distinction.
Yes, Johnny Cake, the man who would never be persuaded to taste a
glass of liquor of any kind, who had always endeavored to keep his
companions from spirituous imbibition; the virtuous cold-waterite, whom
the sight of a glass of brandy would give a cold chill, a whisky-punch
throw into spasms, or a mug of lager give a teetotal convulsion,
stood now before the astounded Elephantine brotherhood drunk, plainly,
undeniably, unequivocally drunk.
He had a black eye, and a swelled nose. His coat was on hind side
before, and buttoned between his shoulders, while his pantaloons were
entirely bereft of buttons, and were secured from parting company only
by two pieces of telegraph-wire which, with commendable ingenuity, he
had converted into extemporaneous metallic suspenders. His companion
was in a singular state of derangement as to his personal attire,
having no coat at all, and a red shirt over his nether continuations.
As soon as the first expression of surprise was over, the
Higholdboy, comprehending that something unusual had taken place,
ordered the company to be seated. In obedience to this peremptory order
from the most noble officer of the club, the Elephantines each took a
seat, but as the inglorious young man before-mentioned had made the
chairs exceedingly treacherous and insecure, by cutting off one leg of
each, the immediate consequence of the attempt was another general
sprawlification upon the floor, executed in a masterly manner by the
entire strength of the company. After five minutes of vigorous polyglot
profanity had somewhat relieved the feelings of the fallen
Elephantines, and they had recovered their feet, they contrived to sit
down; the chairs were as treacherous as ever, but being forewarned, the
members were forearmed, and by dint of many exertions, contrived to
maintain their seats with a tolerable show of dignity.
Johnny Cake was too far gone to make any intelligible replies, or
give any account of himself, and it was resolved to postpone his
examination until he should get sober. His companion, however, who
seemed to be something in the theatrical way, gave his own story in his
own peculiar manner, but refused to enlighten the anxious brotherhood
about poor Johnny.
He possessed a facility of quotation equal to Richard Swiveller,
Esq.'s, but he was as reckless about the exactitude of his extracts,
and jumbled up his authorities with as much confusion as Captain Cuttle
himself. He seldom gave a quotation right, but would break off in the
middle and substitute some words of his own, or dovetail an irrelevant
piece from some strange author, or mix up half-a dozen authors with
interpolations of his own, in an inextricable verbal jumble.
The Higholdboy and the stranger held the following conversation:
What's your name?
Peter Knight; am a native to the marrow-bone.That's Shakspeare.
Young man, strange young man, young man to me unknown; young man of
the peculiar hat and ruby shirt, I fear to adapt my conversation to
your evident situation; that you're drunk, emphatically drunk, I repeat
it, drunkdrunk was my remarkDRunk, drunk.
It's true, 'tis pity; pity 'tis there isn't the devil a doubt of
Where did you get your liquor?
Where the bee sucks, there sucks Peter Knight all day. Thou base,
inglorious slave, think'st thou I will reveal the noble name of him who
gave me wine? No, sir-ee, Bob.That's Beaumont and Fletcher.
Ante up or leave the board; that is to say fire away, let us know,
we won't tell. Although we never drink, we like to know where drink we
might get, in case of cholera, or colic.
I do remember an apothecary and here-abouts he dwells; no he don't,
he lives over in the Bowerybut in his needy shop a cod-fish hangs,
and on his shelves a beggarly account of empty bottles; noting this
penury to myself, I said, if any man did need a brandy-punch, whose
sale is fifty dollars fine in Gotham, here lives a caitiff wretch who
has probably got plenty of it under the counter. Why should I here
conceal my fault? Wine ho! I cried. The call was answered. I have no
wine, said he, but plenty of whis. Silence! thou pernicious caitiff,
quoth I; thou invisible spirit of wine, since we can get thee by no
other name, why let us call thee gin and sugar. He brought the juice of
cursed juniper in a phial, and in the porches of my throat did pour
Udolpho Wolfe's distilment. Thus was I by a Dutchman's hand at once
dispatchednot drunk or sobersent into the dirty streets
three-quarters tight, with all my imperfections on my head. The
fellow's name? My very soul rebels. But whether it is nobler in the
mind to suffer the cuffs and bruises of this bloody Dutchman or to take
arms against his red-haired highness, and by informing end him? I go
and it is done. Villain, here's at thy heart! His name, your Honor, is
Bobblesnoffkin in the Bowery. That's Shakspeare mixed.
Young man, whose shirt has escaped from all control, and now hangs
loose, the posterior section of which has also sustained a serious,
and, I fear, irremediable fracture, I have another question to
propound; answer upon your life. Have you got a home?
My home is on the deep, deep sea.That's Plutarch's Lives.
How do you get your living?
Doubt thou the stars are fire; doubt that the sun doth move; doubt
truth to be a liar, but never doubt that I'll get a living while the
oyster-sloops don't have but one watchman.That's Billy S. again.
Do you pay for your oysters?
Base is the slave that pays; the speed of thought is in my
Do you steal them and then run away?
I've told thee all, I'll tell no more, though short the story be;
let me go back where I was before and I'll get my living without
troubling the corporation. That's Tom Moore, altered to suit
You ought to dispense with the brandy and gin.
Oh, I could be happy with either, were 'tother dear charmer bottled
up and the cork put in.That's Dibdin with a vengeance.
Young man, I fear you've led our young friend, whom you now see
asleep amongst the broken crockery, from the paths of sobriety. What do
you suppose will become of you if you go on in this way?
Alas, poor Yorick!Peter, I mean. Who knows where he will lay his
bones? Few and short will the prayers be said, and nobody'll feel any
sorrow: but they'll cram him into his clay-cold bed, and bury somebody
else on the top of him to-morrow; the minister will come, put on his
robe and read the service; the choir'll sing a hymn; earth to earth and
dust to gravel, and that'll be the last of Peter Knight.
The Higholdboy consulting with those members of the club who were
still awake, it was resolved forthwith to put Peter Knight down stairs.
As he went he remarked:
Fare thee well, and if for ever, all the better.That's Byron,
revised and corrected.
Johnny Cake was manifestly too far gone to think of taking him to a
hotel to sleep, and under these circumstances the club resolved itself
into a committee of the whole, to remain in sleepy session all night,
to take care of their prostrate fellow-member, Mr. Johnny Cake.
JOHNNY CAKE'S FIRST SPREE.
Whatever is, is.
IN the last chapter of this veritable history is related the
unexpected and unusually thorough inebriation of Mr. John I. Cake, from
the verdant prairies of Illinois. The alcoholically-saturated condition
of Johnny's corporosity, on the occasion herein-before-mentioned,
surprised the thirsty brotherhood far more than would a similar state
of facts in which any other one of the fraternity should have been
implicated, because as Johnny had always perched himself upon the
aqueous pinnacle of misanthropic teetotalism, it was not reasonable to
suppose that he should, by one single dive, precipitate himself at once
to the lowest depth of inebriationfor his profession's sake, he
should have come down easier.
As his new-made friends had taken his moral culture under their
especial guardianship, he was duly required, the next evening, to give,
for the instruction and edification of the club, a full account of his
Having first premised that he only complied with this desire in
obedience to that imperative rule of the club, to which he had
solemnly, affixed his name, which, in the most awful language, pledges
every member who takes that terrible obligation to do exactly as he
pleases, unless his own pleasure shall influence him otherwise, or
unless, upon mature consideration, he shall decide that he had rather
do something else, he proceeded to enlighten the anxious Elephantine
When I left you yesterday, said he, I had no more idea that I
should so far overstep the bounds of my customary propriety, and make
my next appearance before you in a state of alcoholic disguise, than I
have at this present moment that the setting sun will see me under
arrest for picking somebody's pocket of a steam saw-mill. Strolling
about yesterday for some time, I became tired of the monotonous hurry
of Broadway, and eventually strayed into that delightful rural locality
which you call, I think, the Bowery.
On the corner of this avenue of the rustic cognomen and Broome
street, there is a place of refreshment for the weary. I entered its
open doors, and sat down in a little three-sided closet, determined to
procure the wherewithal to refresh the inner individual. Obedient to my
upraised finger, a person came. This person had on a small white apron;
this person also flourished in his dexter-digits a napkin of
questionable purity; this person wore slippers, and had a voice like an
asthmatic bull-frog; this person was a city waitera male waitera
degeneration of the genus homo, which I sincerely hope will, at no very
distant day, become utterly extinct. He procured for me the viands
which my capricious taste selected from the suggestive printed list of
edibles there to be obtained. While engaged in consigning to a living
grave the bivalves he had brought, I had a fair opportunity to observe
some, to me, remarkable gymnastics then in course of accomplishment by
an active young man who presided at the bar, and held dominion over the
bottles. First pouring into a tumbler some liquid, to me unknown,
diluting it with water, adding ice, sugar, lemon, and other ingredients
with which I am unacquainted, he proceeded to throw the compound about
in the most unheard-of manner, from one tumbler to another, over his
head, under his leg, round his neck, over one arm and under the other,
without ever spilling a drop. First uplifting one hand high in air, he
poured the mixture in a sparkling cascade from the glass in the right
hand, to that in the left; then he threw it in a sparkling shower in
the air, till the lumps of ice rattled on the ceiling; then he
dispersed it in a misty spray about his head and recovered it all in
his magic glass, by some diabolic dexterity, without losing the
fraction of a drop; then, in one grand, final effort, he tossed it
round the beer-pump, down one side, and up the other, and over the
chandelier, changing a two-dollar bill while it was in the air, and
giving his customer his drink with one hand, and with the other his
silver change, intermixed with twenty per cent. of pewter dimes, which
the thirsty buyer invariably pocketed before he could recover from his
I finished my dinner, and was anxious to see the little man perform
again. I approached the little man, and desired him to concoct me a
lemonade. He inquired if I wanted a 'fly' in it. As the flying part was
what I most desired, I answered yes. The little man went through the
motions. I sent the lemonade to its destination, noticing at the time
something remarkably nectarean in the taste. As I supposed the
evolutions which it had accomplished in mid-air had imparted to it an
unusual flavor, and as I wanted to see the performance again, I
immediately subscribed for one more of the same sort. Again the
question about the flyagain an affirmative, with a remark that the
bigger the fly, the better I should be pleased, supposing that thereby
he would, for my satisfaction, make it fly through some new motions. I
am satisfied that this time the fly was larger than on the
former occasion. I was still unsatisfied; another subscription, and
another lemonade, but this time the entomological interrogation was not
propoundedhe took the fly for granted, and he was right. About this
time the person who came home with me last night made his appearance. I
shook hands with him at once, for I thought I recognized him. I
imagined that he was a man who, seven years ago, licked me with a
rawhide for stealing his pippins and setting fire to his sugar-bush,
and I was anxious to shake hands for old acquaintance sake. I beg now,
however, to state that I am satisfied this impression was erroneous,
for I have this morning a distinct recollection that the individual of
pomological memory removed to Kansas, where he was first lynched for
stealing a horse, and afterward chosen county treasurer and inspector
of election. However, be that as it may, certain it is, that, at that
particular moment, thinking I had fallen in with an old friend, I
invited him to drink with me. He accepted, and presently he proposed
punch, and made a remark about cobbler. Punch I had heard mentioned as
the prince of good fellows, and I was anxious to make his acquaintance.
Cobbler I had only heard of as a man of lapstones and leather aprons,
and I did not particularly desire to know him. On receiving an
introduction to Punch, I was amazed to find that he was not an
individual but a drinka luscious combination of fragrant ingredients.
Although I was mistaken in the identity, I was pleased with him, and it
may not be superfluous to remark that the more I saw of him, the more I
wanted to see, and the more I did see. About this time I had two
friends; there were two active little men behind the bar, each
throwing from double-barrelled tumblers two streams of lemonade over
his head, each with two flies in. There were two beer-pumps, each with
two dozen handles, and the number of bottles and decanters was beyond
computation. The floor rose up and down in wooden billows, and knocked
my hat off. I attempted to remonstrate with floor, but at this juncture
the floor clinched me; we had a long wrestle, and finally went
downfloor on top. By a convulsive exertion I 'turned' the floor, got
it under, and stood on it to keep it down; had some compunctions about
striking a fallen enemy, but passion got the better of me, and I tried
to kick the floor; floor kicked back, and threw sand-dust in my eyes;
got away; wanted to get out doors, but the room had changed about so,
that the door was over my head, and the bar, with the active little
men, was nearly under my feet; was afraid I should walk over the little
men, and break the bottles; stepped very carefully so as to avoid any
such accident, and put my foot in the stove. Peter rescued me from the
devouring element, and got me out of doors.
Peter said he would see me home, and asked me where I lived; told
him I was an elephant; made him understand that I could show him
the place where I hung out, even if I couldn't tell himso we started.
We must have come through Chatham street, for I can remember seeing
some one with a hammer, selling clothing. I know I wanted to go in and
make some purchases. The ruling idea in my mind, at that moment, was,
that the grey mare wanted a winter overcoat, the oxen a pair of striped
pantaloons apiece, that the sow, and each of her tender offspring,
ought to have a red jacket and a pair of spectacles, and that it was a
matter of necessity and charity to purchase seven dozen hickory shirts
to keep the blue jays away from the apple-trees. I went in, and
commenced bidding. I know I was not particular about prices, and that
any opposition provoked me exceedinglyso much so that I bid
twenty-three dollars for a second-hand pocket-handkerchief, because,
when the auctioneer started it at ten cents, and I offered fifteen, a
hook-nosed Jew bid three cents over me. Auction over at last; man with
the hammer wanted me to pay upfound that I had bought three quarters
of his stock, and hadn't money enough to settle the bill. I know I gave
him all I had, and also my coat and neckerchief to make up the balance.
I also have a distinct recollection of calling him a Hebrew robber,
upon which he knocked me in the eye with his hammer, and followed up
this declaration of hostilities by splitting my nose with a yard-stick.
We got out of doors, and proceeded down town. On the corner of Chambers
street the Third Avenue Railroad squared off, and knocked me down.
Peter held me steady, while I rebuked the offender in proper terms. The
Third Avenue Railroad took off its hat and apologized. I forgave it.
We went into a cellar; got in by a complicated dive. I sat down at
first on the piano, next on a pile of oyster-shells, and, finally, by
the aid of a huge pair of whiskers, with a little Dutchman behind them,
deposited myself in a chairon top of Peter. Peter got out after a
prolonged struggle; place very hirsute; big beards on everybody; ten
parts of hair to one part Dutchman. My vision may have been slightly
deranged, but I am certain that one diminutive German had two pairs of
whiskersa moustache just over his eyes, and a four-foot yellow beard
which sprung from his teeth. We drank lager bier.
Peter quoted Shakspeare when the man said pay up, and insisted on
singing an English chorus to a Dutch song; company indignant, Peter
very valiant, but too few in number. Peter fought, Peter kicked, Peter
swore, Peter was overpowered, Peter was elevated in the arms of four
stout Dutchmen above the heads of the company. Exit Peter, through the
window. In leaving the room myself, I, too, received some uncalled-for
aid, but finally rejoined Peter on the sidewalk above.
I spied the mystic light which told me the Elephantine resort was
close at handcouldn't fetch itasked M.P.he said if we'd tell him
the address he'd show ustried to recollect itcouldn't exactly make
it out, but said at a venture, corner of Maiden Lane and Canal
streetofficer indignantwe finally found the place, tried to come up
still so as to surprise you, but I am willing to admit that attempt to
be a partial failure; we reached the door at last; it wouldn't
openPeter called it Sebastopol, and proposed that we should storm
itwe resolved ourselves into an attacking party of two, called to our
aid a twelve-feet plank as a battering-ram, and by hard blows persuaded
the door to yieldthat broken panel is a forcible example of the power
of moral suasion.
When I remark that, judging from my present sensations, I should
imagine a six-horse-power threshing-machine to be in the height of
successful operation in my head, immediately over my eyes, there are
perhaps some sympathizing persons in the room, who have experienced the
same delicious sensation, and can therefore 'phancy my pheelinks.'
The members of the club expressed themselves eminently satisfied
with Mr. Cake's statement of his experience, and the Higholdboy
requested that Mr. Cake should inscribe in the records the said
experience, in order that it might not be lost to future generations.
Mr. Cake promised to do so.
Mr. Spout, being seized with a fit of liberality, ordered punches
for the company, and two of the same kind for Johnny Cake, which Johnny
indignantly refused, saying that, if before his recent experience in
wholesale dissipation, he had disliked alcoholic beverages, such were
his feelings now, that the dislike amounted to an abhorrence. Mr. Spout
said it was all right, as in such case he should drink them all
Mr. Dropper remarked that some two or three years previously, when
he first arrived from Cincinnati, and before he had became fully posted
up in the various phases of unwhipped rascality in New York, he had, on
one occasion, owing to his ignorance, got into the station-house.
A general sentiment as expressed was, that Mr. Dropper should state
the history of the circumstance, or be immediately expelled from the
club, and kicked down stairs, minus his coat, hat, and boots.
Mr. Dropper said that he found it impossible to resist the gentle
persuasions of his companions.
Fellow quadrupeds, said he, soon after my arrival in this mass
meeting of bricks and mortar, I read in a morning paper the
announcement of an extraordinary gift enterprise, which some benevolent
and philanthropic individual had set on foot, with the view of making
everybody, in general, and himself, in particular, rich. I thought of
the subject for several days. The idea of securing a farm of three
hundred acres in New Jersey, all in first-rate condition, with houses,
barns, and fences ready-made, at the moderate cost of a dollar, was
rather agreeable than otherwise, and the more I reflected upon the
matter, the more I became satisfied that such a bargain was a
consummation most devoutly to be wished for. One night I went to bed
thinking of the farm. Finally I fell asleep, and
'Sleeping I dreamed, love,
Dreamed love of'
seeing six cats, each with two tails, and each tail eight feet long,
and afterwards a seventh cat with a bob-tail. When I awoke in the
morning, I attempted to interpret my dream, and I readily found a
meaning. I put the figures together in the order abovethat is to say,
six cats, two tails, eight feet long, one cat bob-tail, which latter, I
thought, was equivalent to a nought, and I had the following result:
62810. I concluded that this was the lucky number which was to get the
farm. I posted off immediately to the office of the gift enterprise,
and called for number 62810, and laid down my dollar. The dollar was
accepted, and the ticket was handed me, done up in an envelope. I was
confident of having the title deeds to the premises given me as soon as
the drawing should take place, and as that event was set down for the
next week, and there was no time to be lost, I contracted for
thirty-two head of cattle, and all the necessary farming utensils, in
order to be ready to commence a life of ease and luxury, at the
earliest practicable moment, after the said real estate should come
into my possession. I also advertised for two stout farm-hands, to
assist me in following the prospective agricultural pursuits. I had
some three hundred and sixty-eight answers. I finally engaged two
athletic Irishmen, who were recommended by their late employer as being
excellent farm-hands, and who, in addition, possessed this virtue,
that, when drunk, they were satisfied to abuse one another, and never
The day of the drawing at last came, and I went to the office to
get my deed, for I never doubted a single instant that I had drawn the
big prize. I entered the office, and told the clerk that I would take
'What documents?' said he.
'Why, my deed of the magnificent country mansion and farm in New
Jersey, with three hundred acres of land, and a house with all the
Gentlemen, I have been, in the course of my life, kicked by a
horse, knocked into a cocked hat by a threshing-machine, and had my
hair singed off by chain-lightning, but neither one of these
occurrences so astounded me as did that red-haired clerk, when he
informed me that my ticket had drawn a gold pen, with a silver holder,
and a place in the top to put pencil-leads in.
Gentlemen, I was not furious, I was perfectly cool; but when I
jumped over that counter, and laid hands on that red-haired clerk, I
will admit that it was my calmly-settled intention to eat that
red-haired clerk for luncheon, notwithstanding his cock-eye. A hasty
glance at the mud on his boots, and the metal buttons on his
coat-tails, caused me to alter my original amiable intention, and I
made up my mind to be gentle with him, and merely whip him so his
mother wouldn't be able to tell him from a Little Neck clam on a large
scale, and then leave him to live through it if he could.
I struck him once, and he laid down in a corner among some bottles,
with his head in the gas-meter, and in one minute from that time he was
one universal damage.
The proprietor being done for, I proceeded to demolish the
establishment; I didn't leave, of the chairs, tables, and desks, a
piece big enough to make a bird-cage, and having turned on all the gas,
I was seriously debating whether I should not set the whole shop on
fire, and sue for the insurance, when the two Irishmen, whom I had
engaged to work my farm, made their appearance. I told them to clear
out, to budge, move on, leave, but they evidently took me for a
swindler, and were bound to pay me off. They pitched into me; our
amiable struggle to put each other's eyes out attracted a crowd; the
muss became general; everybody went in, and before the policemen came
there was considerable music. Nobody was bashful, and the result was
four interesting cases of black eye, a pathetic instance of demolished
nose, two lovely examples of swelled head, an agreeable specimen of
peeled shin, seven illustrations of the beautifying power of
finger-nails, when forcibly applied to the physiognomy, and three
convincing exemplifications of the power of the Irish fist in
extracting opposing teeth, without the aid of forceps or turnkey. The
police came at last, and arrested the entire multitude. That night we
slept in the station-house. I don't want to say anything against the
bunks in that station-house, but this I do say, that if there
ever is a bed-bug convention, and that station-house is not well
represented, it won't be because any lack of population deprives them
of the right to a strong delegation; and if, at any national mass
meeting of fleas, they stand in need of ten or fifteen thousand to make
up a quorum, the station-house of that ward can supply them, without
any perceptible decrease of its entomological census.
In the morning we were conducted before the Justice, but as there
were about forty cases to be heard before mine, I had ample leisure to
look about, and take a realizing sense of the beauties of my situation.
The case of myself and others was at length reached. The officers swore
to the muss, as if the numerous broken heads were not sufficient
evidence that there had been a difference of opinion. One of the
Irishmen became a volunteer liar in his own behalf, but the Justice
recognized him as an old customer, often brought up for drunkenness,
and knowing him to be a reliable liar, he placed his evidence all to my
credit, and discharged me without even a fine, but with the assurance
that if I came there again he would 'send me up.' Not wanting to make
any such equivocal ascension as a matter of experiment, I have kept
away from him, and cut up all my subsequent monkey-shines in another
ward, which is out of his jurisdiction.
After Mr. Dropper closed, there was a brief silence, in which each
member quietly smoked his pipe, apparently reflecting upon the morals
of lotteries. At last Wagstaff inquired who won the farm.
I forgot that, resumed Dropper. I learned from an advertisement
which appeared in the daily journals, that ticket number 6281 drew the
farm. This number, you will observe, corresponds with the one I
supposed would be the lucky one, except that in mine a nought was
annexed to the four figures, making it 62810, instead of 6281. My
mistake grew out of a misinterpretation of my dream, in respect to the
bob-tailed cat, I having assumed that the diminutive nether extremity,
in this instance, was equivalent to a nought expressed, whereas, if I
had let it remain a nought understood, and had acted accordingly, I
should have been the lucky man.
Not so lucky as you imagine, remarked Quackenbush, for the facts
of that matter I am somewhat familiar with. A country fiddler, living
up in Connecticut, held the ticket which entitled the holder to the
real estate aforesaid. He saw the advertisement, and I being the only
acquaintance he had in the city, he wrote to me to secure the deeds, as
he couldn't raise the money to come down. I called at the office of the
managers of the enterprise, and presented the ticket. They said it was
all right; congratulated me on the luck of my friend, and told me to
call a week from that time, and they would be prepared to execute the
deed. This I thought was very fair, and I left the office. On the
appointed day I called, and found the office closed, as the managers
The conversation then turned upon Police Courts, and the facilities
which they afforded in aiding a person to get glimpses of the elephant.
It was conceded that the experience of Dropper, just related, opened
very fair, and, on the suggestion of Mr. Quackenbush, it was resolved:
1. That the members of the club do make it their business
2. To visit the Police Courts
3. Before the next meeting of the club.
The meeting was adjourned by the club, singing, We're all jolly
THE POLICE COURTS.
I do remember Ann
SEVERAL evenings passed before all the members of the club again
assembled. In the meantime the quantity of manuscripts had become
unusually large, the members having found that the Police Courts were
prolific in sights of the colossal quadruped. When they did meet it was
whispered that one of the members had had some personal experience, not
only as a spectator but as a prisoner. No questions, however, were
propounded upon the subject, in a tone loud enough for the member in
question to hear, as they desired to allow him to speak of the matter
voluntarily, confess his fault, and receive the forgiveness of his
The proceedings of the evening were opened by the Higholdboy, who
took his official seat, announced that the special order of the meeting
was to hear the reports of members who had been present at the sessions
of the Police Courts, with the view of noting down their zoölogical
The Higholdboy called upon Dennis, Wagstaff, and Overdale for the
result of their visit to the Police Courts. Wagstaff's notebook was
produced, and the lengthened narratives inscribed therein went to show
the following state of facts.
Wagstaff arose one morning at six precisely, and, after having hit
Dennis with his own wooden leg, and pulled Overdale's eyes open by his
whiskers and hair, announced to them if they were going to visit the
Essex Market Police Court that day, to see the animals, that it was
time to rise. They slipped on their clothing as soon as possible, and
started somewhat sooner. They passed the Odd Fellows Hall, which
Overdale expatiated upon at some length as an extensive log-chain
factory. He formed his conclusion from seeing three links of chain
represented in a conspicuous part of the building. The Westchester
House he informed them was Washington's head quarters, and under this
belief they stopped some time to look at it, and speak of it in
connection with the many stories related of that interesting relic of
the architecture of the last century.
They arrived at length at the Essex Market, in the upper part of
which the police magistrate of that judicial district sits in a big
chair, for the purpose of dealing out retail justice and getting a
The trio ascended into the court-room, where the justice was seated,
disposing of the hard cases which had accumulated during the night.
Overdale was still communicative. In answer to the inquiries of Dennis,
he informed that gentleman that the police clerks were associated
justices, that the prisoner's cage was the jury-box, and pointed out
the prisoners themselves as the jury. The humble member of the police,
who is known as the doorman, Overdale said answered well the
description of the Chief of the Police, contained in one of the
historic works of John McLenan. Dennis inquired where the prisoners
were. Overdale was unable to answer, but at last expressed it as his
opinion that the persons who were standing about them must be the
malefactors. Dennis said he never could satisfactorily account for the
jurors being tried, and sent out of the room in charge of officers, but
he had too much confidence in the extensive knowledge and vast
intelligence of Overdale, to suppose that his hirsute friend could
possibly be mistaken. In consequence of this misplaced confidence on
the part of Wagstaff and Dennis, the notebook of the former was filled
with notes of the trials of the different members of the jury.
One case of which Wagstaff took full notes, was that of Edward
Bobber, a seafaring man, of very peculiar appearance, possessing some
remarkable characteristics of manner, dress, speech, looks, and action.
He was charged with being drunk. In the way of physical beauty, Edward
was decidedly a damaged article. He had lost one arm by a snake-bite,
and been deprived of an eye by the premature explosion of a pistol,
which broke his spectacles at the same time it extinguished his
sinister optic. The unexpected descent of a ship-mate, from the tops,
upon his head, had turned his neck so that he seemed to be keeping a
perpetual look out over his shoulder with his remaining eye. His nose
resembled a half-ripe tomato, and a pair of warty excrescences hung
upon his face, as if some one had shot a couple of marbles at him,
which had stuck to him for life. His complexion bore a close
resemblance to the outside of a huckleberry-pudding. His teeth, which
were unusually long, projected backward, as if they had taken a start
to grow down his throat. This last peculiarity was, undoubtedly, one
cause of a remarkable singularity of speech, which seriously impaired
his natural facility of conversation. Some idiosyncrasy of disposition,
probably, had also something to do with this lingual embarrassment, but
certain it is, that Mr. Edward Bobber never answered one question until
he was asked another, to which last he would give the reply intended
for query number one. Whether his mental faculties needed always a
second-interrogative punching up, or whether the fangs projecting
downward retained one answer until displaced by another, Wagstaff and
his friends were unable to decide; but they truly believe that an
inquiry propounded to Edward Bobber, aforesaid, would have remained
unanswered until doomsday, unless a second question followed the first.
A transcript of a conversation between him and the Clerk of the
Court reads as follows:
Clerk.Where were you born?
The prisoner removed his solitary orb from its guardianship, over
his left shirt sleeve, rolled it slowly round until it commanded a fair
view of the questioner, but said nothing. The clerk, nothing daunted,
'How long have you been in this country?'
The face assumed a look of intelligence, and answer No. 1 came out.
Clerk.How old are you?
Clerk.How long have you been drunk?
Edward.Thirty-four years, seven months, and nine days.
Clerk.Where did you get your liquor?
Edward (rolling his eye toward the Judge).Been on a spree
Judge (very indignant).Did you say I've been on a spree?
Edward.Old Mother Bidwell's, down in Mott street.
Clerk.Do you mean hereafter to treat this Court
Edward.No, sir; I hope not.
Officer with red hair.If you ain't crazy, I'm a jack-ass.
Edward.Yes, sir, of course.
The excited Judge here commenced making out his commitment, but the
Clerk, who began to see the fun, thought best to ask him a few more
questions first, and accordingly inquired of Bobber what he traded in,
as he seemed to own a sloop. The prisoner, who had been cogitating upon
the last remark of the red-haired officer until he had waxed wroth,
'Jack-ass! jack-ass! yes, you are a jack-ass; not a doubt of
Clerk.Come, tell me what kind of liquor did you drink
Edward.Soap, candles, coffee, bar-lead, chickens, coal,
pine kindling-wood, smoked hams, and white-wood shingles
Judge (interfering).Prisoner, you are only getting
yourself into trouble. My patience will give out. I can't stand
everything. Do you think I'm made of patience?
Edward.Whisky; nothing but whisky, sir; upon my honor.
The last answer proved too much for the gravity of the Court. The
Judge, the Clerk, the attendant officers, and all smiled audibly. A
whispered word from the Clerk explained to the Justice the true state
of the case. Edward was discharged, and as he departed from the
court-room, an officer, two blocks away, heard him, in answer to a
request for a penny proffered by a little girl, give what was
undoubtedly intended as a detailed reply to the last interrogative
remark of the Police Justice.
The case of Mr. Palmerston Hook, which was also reported in
Wagstaff's notebook, would seem to indicate that there was more than
one way of catching fish.
Mr. Hook was brought up as a vagrant. He was a smooth-faced
individual, about old enough to vote, dressed in rather grotesque,
flashy clothes, very much worn. The sleeves of his coat were quite
large, in accordance with the prevailing style. But they served a
purpose of utility, as was developed by the evidence, in a rather novel
profession which Mr. Hook followed.
The principal witness was Mr. James Skinner, a very respectable
dealer in Catherine Market, who devotes his time and talents to
purchasing eels from the catchers thereof and selling the same to
citizens and others who desire to enjoy the luxury of eating eels,
either fried or done up in the form of pie or any other form. Mr.
Skinner has obtained for himself an enviable popularity as a man of
integrity. It has never been said of him that he ever sold an eel whose
recent advent upon dry land from the salt water was a matter of serious
question; and to think that Mr. Palmerston Hook should have selected
Mr. Skinner's stock to depredate upon is a matter of some surprise. Mr.
Skinner testified as follows:
'This 'ere feller came to my eel-stand yes'day mornin' and asked me
how eels was? Sez I, 'Good as usu'l,' and I axed him if he wanted to
buy. Sez he, 'How much?' Says I, 'Eight'n pence.' Sez he, 'Is them all
yer got?' Sez I, 'Yis.' Ye see, jest before this feller come up, I
counted 'em and there was 'zactly 'lev'n. Then this 'ere feller he 'gun
to paw 'em over, and kinder jumble 'em up together, which I thowt was
wery funny; and at last, sez he, 'Guess I won't take none this
mornin'.' He acted so kinder sneakin' that I thowt he wasn't all right,
and 'fore he got out of sight I counted the eels an' found one on 'em
was missen. I put for this 'ere feller and ketched him at the corner,
an' I found my 'spicions was right, for on searchin' the chap I found a
neel up in 'is coat-sleeve.'
Judge.How did he keep the eel up in his sleeve?
Mr. Skinner.Well, that was done in a kinder 'genus way; he
had a fish'ook on the end of a line, an' the line was run up the right
coat-sleeve, over 'is shoulder, an' it come down inside of 'is coat on
the left side, an' he come up to the stand, an' wen he was a kinder
pawin' over the eels he was a ketchin' the fish'ook in the tail of the
eel, an' as soon as it was ketched in he pulled the line with his left
'and an' drawed the eel up inter 'is sleeve; an' as soon as it was
drawed up he stopped pawin' an' left, an' 'ere's the fish'ook an' line
wot I found on 'im; an' I think he oughter be sent to Blackwell's
Island for bein' a wagrant.
Judge.Hook, what have you got to say for yourself?
Mr. Hook.I 'aven't got nothin' to say honly I vos wery
'ungry and vas a lookin' along in the market ven I 'appened to see the
heels vot this 'ere hold cock 'ad. Sez I to m'self, sez I, now, I'll
hax the price and mebbee the hole voman may vant von if they's cheap.
Vell, I 'appened t'ave a 'ook and line in my coat, vich I spose
haccidentally got ketched in von of the heels, and ven I left to go and
tell the hole voman 'ow cheap they vas, it 'ung on to the 'ook.
Judge.That's a pretty story to tell me. Do you suppose I
am going to believe it?
Mr. Hook.On the honor of a gentleman that vas the vay it
Judge.At any rate, I shall send you up for three months.
Mr. Hook.Bust me, I honly vish you 'ad to try it three
months yourself, you vouldn't think it vas quite so funny.
Mr. Palmerston Hook was conducted below.
Another interesting feature of the proceedings during the morning
grew out of the case of Mr. Wallabout Warbler, whose name was the last
Mr. Warbler had reached the last stages of shabby gentility. Time
had told sadly on his garments, originally of fine material and
fashionable cut. His black, curly hair was whitened out by contact with
whitewash, and his nose had become a garden for the culture of blossoms
by far more common than they are proper. But Mr. Warbler, despite the
reverses which he had evidently suffered, stood proudly and gracefully
erect. If the external man was in a state of dilapidation, the spirit
still was unhurt. He smiled gracefully when the Judge addressed him and
told him that he was charged with having been arrested in a state of
Officers Clinch and Holdem were the witnesses against Mr. Warbler.
They stated substantially that about one o'clock that morning they
found Mr. Warbler standing in a garbage-barrel, on the edge of the
sidewalk, extemporizing doggerel to an imaginary audience. They
insisted upon his stopping, when Mr. Warbler told them that it was a
violation of etiquette to interrupt a gentleman when he was delivering
a poem before the alumni of a college. He was evidently under the
influence of liquor, and quite out of his mind. They thought, for his
own safety, that they had better bring him to the station-house.
Judge.Mr. Warbler, you have heard what the officers have
stated about your eccentric course of conduct; how did you happen to
Mr. Warbler.'Twas night, and gloomy darkness had her ebon
veil unfurled, and nought remained but gas-lamps to light up this 'ere
world. The heavens frowned; the twinkling orbs, with silvery light
endowed, were all occult on t'other side a thunderin' big black cloud.
Pale Luna, too, shed not her beams upon the motley groups which lazily
were standing round like new disbanded troops
Judge.It's not to hear such nonsense that I occupy this
Mr. Warbler.A death-like stillness e'er prevailed on
alley, pier and street.
Judge.To listen to such stuff, sir, I can't sacrifice my
Mr. W.Don't discombobilate my thought and interrupt my
rhyme; I think that when misfortune is put on its defence, poetic
justice, logic, law, as well as common sense, demand its story all be
heard, unless ex parte proof is to send poor friendless cusses
underneath the prison's roof. Shall I proceed?
Judge.Proceed; but don't make your tale too long.
Mr. W.I'll heed your words, depend upon't. I own that I
was wrong in rushing headlong as I did into inebriation, but let me
question now the Court; is it not a palliation of the depth of human
guilt if malice don't incite to break in divers fragments State laws
wrong or right, and when only human appetite, uncontrolled by human
reason leads men of genius, oftentime, the dish of life to season with
condiments which pro tem. the mental palate tickle, yet very
often, in the end, put human joys in pickle which ain't so cussed
funny; though all of the expense of grub and the et ceteras the
public pays for; hence, I ask this Court (believing that its feelings
are not hampered) if justice should not ever be with human mercy
Judge.Perhaps. Now, tell me, Warbler, where you bought
Mr. W.Anon I'll tell you. Last week, Judge, prostrate was
I, far sicker than to me's agreeable, with the diarrhea chronic, and
sympathizing friends advised that I should take some tonic. I asked
them what: at once they said, 'Get some lager-bier.' 'Twas got. 'Drink
freely, boy,' said they, 'nothing need you fear, but you'll be up and
on your legs.' The lager-bier 'was took;' soon every object in my sight
had a very drunken look. Lager-bier (to German ears the words may be
euphonic.) Tonic, certainly, it was, but decidedly tootonic. Abnormal
thirst excited it, and I went to great excesses (the statement's quite
superfluous, my nose the fact confesses). Last night, attracted by the
scenes which Gotham's streets present, I dressed myself in sombre
clothes, and out of doors I went; to quench my thirst did I imbibe the
more of lager-bier at Hoffman's on the corner, several squares from
here. No more know I, 'cept in the morn I wakened from my sleep, and
having sowed, perhaps I'll learn that likewise I must reap.
Judge.Have you got ten dollars?
Mr. W.'Tis true, I hain't a red; I suppose the words
unpleasant which next to me'll be said; that because by my imprudence
my pocket-book's collapsed, in prison drear must I remain till ten days
Judge.I'll let you go this time.
Mr. Warbler.Ha, say you so? Is't true, that though my
offence is rank, in vain I did not sue for mercy; ne'er 'll I fail to
say both through thin and thick in the circle of my acquaintance that
you're a perfect brick.
Mr. Wallabout Warbler left the room.
Mr. Van Dam announced that he had visited the Jefferson Market
Police Court one morning, and though there was much in the proceedings
that was uninteresting, he had yet been able to collate some facts
which he doubted not would be regarded as worthy of being recorded upon
the minutes of the club.
After taking a punch, Mr. Van Dam proceeded.
He stated that a dozen or two individuals, all of whom, not having
the fear of the law before their eyes, and being instigated by a morbid
thirst, and who did in the city and county of New York drink, swill,
imbibe, smile, guzzle, suck, and pour down various spirituous,
fermented, or malt liquors, wine, beer, ale or cider, and from the
effects thereof did get drunk, were severally favored with moral
lectures and ten dollar fines. The first were not appreciated, and the
second were not paid.
But the case which interested Mr. Van Dam most was that of four
boys, named Frederick T. White, Michael Keefe, John Wheeler, and
Manning Hough, who were arraigned on a charge of disorderly conduct.
They were bright-looking boys of about thirteen years of age, dressed
in plain but neat clothes, and with the exception of White, did not
seem much to like the position they occupied. There was a
devil-may-care, though not a vicious look, about White, which was
positively refreshing. He seemed to rather like the position than
otherwise, and from a roguish leer that was observed in his eye as he
surveyed a personage who was to appear as the witness against him, Mr.
Van Dam was led to anticipate something in the shape of novelty, and he
accordingly prepared for the worst. The Judge told the boys the nature
of the charge against them. The name of the witness being called, Mr.
Conrad Heinrich Holzenkamp announced his presence by an emphatic
Mr. Holzenkamp was a man who was the very ideal of a lager bier
saloon keeper. His weight was at least two hundred and seventy-five
pounds, one half of which could be set down to lager bier. His height
was not more than five feet eight, but the circumference and diameter
of the lager bier were enormous. He carried himself erect by necessity
to balance the lager bier in the front. His hide was in wrinkles across
the back of his neck whenever he held back his head, and every wrinkle
seemed ready to burst with lager bier. Mr. Holzenkamp's face looked
lager bier; Mr. Holzenkamp walked lager bier, drank and ate lager bier
in alternation. He thought lager bier, dreamed lager bier. In brief,
Mr. Holzenkamp was composed of two things: first, the effects of lager
bier; and second, lager bier.
Mr. Blotter, the clerk, administered the oath in his characteristic
manner as follows:
You solemnly swear, in the presence of Almighty God, that the
evidence which you shall give in the present case, shall be the truth,
the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God, kiss the
book, and get out of my way.
Mr. Holzenkamp.I can shwear to all de dings vat you
shpeak, but to tell de whole troot, dat can I not shwear; ven I can
dinks fon all dese boys have done, I tells you more as genuff to sends
them to de Benidentiary for so long as dey lives; a hoonerd dings dey
do vot I dinks not of.
The Court.Kiss the book, Mr. Holzenkamp.
The witness proceeded to bring a gill of lager bier contained in
his nose, and a half gill of lager bier contained in his lips, in
contact with a venerable Bible, which has been so familiar with crime
by long association that we almost wonder the text has not been long
since corrupted as much as the cover. Lager bier and the Bible having
come in contact, lager bier is supposed to be incapable of lying.
The Court.Mr. Holzenkamp, please state the circumstances
connected with the arrest of these boys.
Mr. H.Vell, on Vensday night, at von o'clock, my
koostumers dey all goes vay fom mine lager bier saloon, und I say to
Yawcob to go mit him and put up de blinds; ven he goes out mineself,
mine vife, ve drinks some lager bier, and den I dakes de money and
counts dem and puts dem in mine pocket; ven Yawcob come in ve locks de
door, and goes de shtairs up to shleep; vel mine vife and I get to de
bed in, so soon as ve can, and den I shleeps; ven I bin shleep leetle
vile mine vife she shakes me and say, 'Heinrich, de cats dey makes
noise in de shtreets so dat I cannot shleep;' ven I vakes up I hear so
much cats squall in de shtreets dat I dinks dere vas a meetin fon cat
politicians. But dey makes so much noise I cannot vink mine eyes vonce
to shleep; so I get up and goes to de window and say 'shcat,' 'shcat;'
but de more I say shcat de more dey vill not shcat. I say to mine vife,
'Katrina, you bin so younger and so smaller as I bin, you go down in de
shtreets and drives 'vay de cats.' My vife den goes down, and ven she
opens de door de cat squalls not more, and she looks to see dem, but
dere is not cats in de shtreets. Ven she comes de shtairs up again and
say de cats bin gone ve lie on de bed to shleep; vell, ven I bin yust
shleep most, mine Gott! I hear de cats so louder as before, and I say
to mine vife all de cats in de city bin come on the shtep-valk fon mine
lager bier saloon; dey squall like hoonerd dyvels, and I try more to
shcat dem vay. But it was no goot; dey shquallI cannot say to you so
bad as dey shquall. Mine vife say dere bin a tunder-shower fon cats;
ven I lie in mine bed and shtand it so long as I can, I jump up und
shwear dat I shoots all de cats in de vorld; I dakes mine bistol and
runs de shtairs down, but I bin so mad, und I go so quick, dat I falls
the shtairs over, und in a minute finds mine head knock on de vall, my
right hand in some Schweitzer cheese, de oder in de shpit-box, und von
foot in de big ice-pitcher; so soon as I can gits up and goes to de
door und opens it, I goes on de shtep-valk, und mine foot shlips, and I
falls down on mine back, and breaks all de bones in mine body; I feels
mine hand on de shtep-valk, and I find it bin all covered mit soft
soap; I dries to raise mineself, but I bin so heavy dat I down falls
before I get up; yust den mine vife come and help me, and bulls me fom
de shtep-valk in de door; ve do not hear de cats den, und so ve goes to
de beds again; so soon as ve lie down I hears de cats so vorse as de
oder timeI hears notings but cats; I never was so much afraid except
vonce ven a lager bier barrel fly in bieces; I goes to de vindow and I
dinks I hear dem on de awning, und I gets out; yust den de cats shtop,
but I say I vill find vere dey bin on de awning; I valk along und my
foot trips on some shtrings, and ven I fall I hear one loud cat-shquall
dat fright me so dat I dinks I bin fall on more as dhree hoonered cats;
ven I can get up I feels on de shtrings, und I valks till I finds a
box; I brings de box to de vindow; Katrina gets de lamp und dere ve
find in de long vood shoe-box seven cats vat vas fixed dis way: seven
notch holes vas cut in de side de box, and de cats was put in de box
mit deir heads shtick out de holes; on de oder side de box was seven
leetle notch holes vere vas de cats' dails, und a shtring vas tie to
all de cats' dails; I know dat de cats come not in de box by demselves,
und so I look to see vere vas de boys; I comes de shtairs down again,
goes on de shtep-valk so soft as I can, and I finds vere de strings
comes down fom de awning; I keeps hold de shtring till I find it come
to a big sugar hogshead by de next house, and dere I find dese boys;
yust den I say 'Vatch!' and de boliceman comes and dakes de boys to de
station-house; I believe dey is de same boys as trouble me before.
The Court.Boys, what have you got to say for yourselves
for such conduct?
Master White volunteered to act as spokesman. He said:
Well, one day we was a playing in front of this 'ere man's lager
bier saloon, and he come out and threatened to lick us if we didn't
stop. We kept on, and bine-by he comes to the door when we wasn't a
lookin', and threw a pailful of dirty water on us. We thought we'd got
as good a right to the street as he had, so we made up our minds to be
even with him, and we got the box and cats and serenaded him.
Mr. Holzenkamp stated that he baptized the boys a few days before
as described. The boys promised not to bother lager bier saloon keepers
any more, in consideration of which they were discharged.
Mr. Van Dam stated that the last case called was that of Mr. Timothy
The case he said occupied the attention of the court nearly a half
hour, owing to the difficulty which the court experienced in getting
him to make direct responses to his questions.
Timothy appeared in a grey dress-coatthat is to say, it was high
in the waist, with a short and pointed tail, a feature oftener produced
by tailors than by literary men of the present day. Timothy's vest was
red; his breeches were made of corduroy. Below them were long coarse
stockings and brogans.
The evidence went to show that Timothy had been found drunk in the
street, but he was not communicative on the subject. He did not call
the officer a liar after he had heard him give his evidence, nor tell
the judge that he was an 'owld tief.' He said nothing until he was
asked to take the usual oath. The Judge said: 'Mr. O'Neil, put your
hand on the book.' Mr. O'Neil complied cautiously, fearing the result
of his act. When the words of the oath were uttered he made the sign of
the cross, and after being requested by the court, kissed the Bible.
The Clerk.What's your name?
Prisoner.The same as me father's.
'What was his name?'
'The same as mine.'
'Tell me your name or you shall be locked up.'
'And what else?'
'I haven't any middle name.'
'I mean your last name.'
'How long have you been in the city?'
'Since I come to the counthry.'
'How long is that?'
'Pat Hooligan can tell ye betther nor I can.'
'What month was it?'
'The first Sunday in Lint.'
'Where do you live?'
'Wid Biddy and the childer.'
'Where do they live?'
'The second floor, back room, bad luck to the bugs that's in it.'
'I mean what street?'
'Mike Henessy's store is on the first floor.'
'Tell me what street the house is on?'
'Who the divil can tell whin they are changin' the names of the
blackguard streets so much?'
'What was the street called before the name was changed?'
'Anthony street; they calls it by another name now.'
'Worth street I suppose you mean?'
'I mane that the painter should have put it Worthless street.'
'Whereabouts in Worth street?'
'Three doors from the corner.'
'The corner of the street.'
'The street three doors above.'
'Well what is its name?'
'Bad luck to you, why didn't ye ax me that before?'
'Well, tell me the name.'
'Faith I don't know miself. It's an alley.'
'Well, what's the number of the house?'
'The number on the door do you mane?'
'There isn't anny.'
'What is your trade?'
'Me father never 'prenticed me.
'I mean what do you work at?'
'I don't do any work.'
'Because you've got me locked up in prison.'
'Will you tell me what you work at when out of prison?'
'I'm a laborin' man, sir'
'At what were you employed?'
'What kind of work?'
'In the shores' (sewers).
'You are charged with being drunk.'
'Dhrunk, is it. Faith, I never was more sober in my life than I am
at this minute.'
'That may be; but here are a half-dozen men who are ready to swear
that they saw you drunk yesterday.'
'Av it comes to that, can't I bring twiste as manny who will swear
that they didn't see me dhrunk yisterday.'
'What kind of liquor did you drink?'
'Mighty bad liquor, and ye'd say the same av ye was to thry it.'
'Was it malt or spirituous liquor?'
'It was nayther; it was whisky.'
'Where did you purchase it?'
'At the Dutchman's.'
'Where is his store?'
'On the corner.'
'The corner nearest to where they're buildin' the shtore.'
'Where is that?'
Where I was workin'.'
The Court.What was O'Neil doing when you found him?
Officer.He was lying very drunk in a hole which he had
Prisoner.Be me sowl you're wrong for wonst; I didn't dig
the howl; I dug out the dirt and left the howl.
'Were you ever up before the Court before?'
'No, nor behind aither; when I want to be again, I'll sind to your
honor and let ye know.'
'If I let you of this time will you keep sober?'
'Faith I will, unliss the Dutchmin keep betther liquor nor they do
'You may go.'
'Thank ye, sirye're a gintleman, av there iver was wan.'
Mr. Timothy O'Neil left the court-room.
Mr. Dropper also proposed to relate the experience of some half a
dozen mornings which he had spent in the pursuit of amusement under
difficulties, when he had occupied himself in seeing the sights around
the Jefferson Market Police Court.
On one of the mornings which I devoted to visiting the Tombs, said
Mr. Dropper, the class of prisoners varied. Most of them claimed to be
from the western of the British Isles. Others said they were born in
Cork, Clare, Down, and other counties. A number answered to patronymics
to which were prefixed the letter O, and an apostrophe. One party, who
called themselves Fardowners, looked brick-bats at another party who
occupied a remote corner of the cage, and who claimed to be
Connaughtmen. The remainder of the prisoners were Irish.
An interesting feature in the proceedings of the morning was a case
in which Owen Shaughnessy, Patrick Mulholland, Michael O'Shea, Timothy
Leahey, Dennis Maroney, Dermot McDermott, Phelim Flannegan, Bridget
O'Keefe, Mary McBride, Ellen Dougherty and Bridget Casey were the
defendants. As the Judge called out their names, the prisoners
severally responded. They were all, as their names would indicate, of
Irish birth. The men, evidently long-shoremen and laborers, and the
women, servants. Their garments, in some instances, were torn, and in
other ways disarranged and soiled. The men, and in one or two instances
the women, showed bruises about their faces and hands, indicating their
active participation in a recent scrimmage, from the effects of which
they had not had the time, or soap and water, to enable them to
Mr. Gerald O'Grady, who stands at the head of the bar at the Tombs,
and who, under adverse circumstances and strong competition, has been
enabled, by his talents, to keep up his tariff of fees, from which he
has never deviated, appeared as counsel for the prisoners. Mr. O'Grady
has never been known to defend a case for less than fifty cents,
unless, actuated by feelings of commendable philanthropy, he has
volunteered his professional services gratis. It may be reasonably
supposed that his success has excited the envy of the 'shysters;' for
while they have to sit oftentimes a whole morning beside their
respective granite columns at the Tombs, without being called upon to
defend a case, Mr. O'Grady's presence in the court-room is in frequent
demand. Mr. O'Grady had been retained in this case, I learned, by seven
of the defendants, at a certain specified fee for each man, he
volunteering his professional services to the ladies without charge. He
announced to the Court that he represented the defendants, and that
they were ready to have the trial commence.
'Is Mr. O'Grady your counsel?' the Judge inquired of the
'Yes, yer honor,' said one of the parties addressed; 'didn't I pay
him five shillingsdivil a hap'ny lessfor to defind me.'
'Five shillings?' said Mr. O'Grady, indignantly, 'you mane that as
a retainer, of coorse.'
Defendant.I mane that's all ye'll get, anny how
Counsel (loudly).Say, sir, it is time for you to know
that, as a client, you should addhress the Coort only through your
counsel. (To the Court.) Sir, my clients here, paceable citizens, stand
ready for to answer, through me, to the diabolical chairges which
designin' min have brought against thim, feelin' within their
breasts(Here Mr. O'Grady hit one of his clients a severe blow in
Assaulted Client.Oh! h-h.
Counsel (to client).Keep your mouth shut, why don't you?
(To the Court.) Feelin', as I said before, widthin their breasts, the
proud consciousness of their entire innocence of anny charges which
their accusers could dare for to bring against thim.
The witnesses were Sergeant Ferrett and Officers Snap, Catcher,
O'Grasp, Ketchum, Holder, and Van Knabem.
Officer Holder stated, in substance, that while patrolling his beat
during Thursday night, the inmates of a house, No. 83-1/2 Pacific
Place, began to get very disorderly. From the howlings and noises which
he heard, he came to the conclusion that there was a wake in the house.
Not desiring to stop the disturbance by any violent means, he knocked
at the door, with the view of telling them that they were disturbing
the public peace, and requesting them to desist. No response was made
to his knock. He then put his mouth to the keyhole of the door, and
announced to them, as audibly as he could, that unless they desisted,
he should have to call other officers and arrest them. No attention was
paid to his words. Sergeant Ferrett arrived soon after, and inasmuch as
the disturbance continued to increase, they called in the other
officers to make a descent on the place, not, however, until they had
first endeavored, by their voices, to make the inmates of the house
understand the consequence to them, in case they persisted in their
unlawful course. Officer Ketchum, who had formerly patrolled the beat,
knew of a rear entrance to the house through an alley, and they
accordingly entered the house by that way. They found about twenty
persons present, men and women, engaged in a promiscuous scrimmage,
howling, drinking, and fighting. The orders of the sergeant to cease
their disturbance did not avail anything, which decided them to arrest
the leading actors in the scene, which they forthwith accomplished,
after some considerable resistance on the part of the company. They
brought them to the station-house. The remainder of the party
subsequently retired or left the place, which was quiet for the rest of
The remaining officers confirmed the evidence of officer Holder, in
such of its particulars as they were acquainted with. All of them were
cross-questioned, more or less, by Mr. O'Grady, without, however,
eliciting any new facts of material interest.
Mr. O'Grady introduced, as a witness for the defense, Mrs.
Mrs. Hennesy is a lady of about forty-five years of age, five feet
ten inches in height, weighing about two hundred and fifty pounds. She
has a florid face. Her dress was remarkable for the extent with which
it was ornamented with highly-colored ribbons and laces, gathered in
Mr. Blotter, the clerk, administered the usual oath.
Mrs. Hennesy, having kissed the book, the examination was
Mr. O'Grady.Misthress Hennesy, will you state to the Coort
if you're the proprietor of the house No. 83-1/2 Pacific Place.
Mrs. Hennesy.Av coorse I am, and divil a hap'ny is there
owin' to anny man for what's inside of it.
Mr. O'G.What kind of a house do you keep there?
Mrs. H.Is it for to prove that the charackther of me house
is not good that yer afther axin' the question?
Mr. O'G.Misthress Hennesy, could ye make it convanient to
thrate this Coort wid becoming respect, by answerin' the questions that
I put to ye, for the purpose of establishin' a definse of these ladies
and gintlemen, some of whom, I am towld, are inmates of yer house? What
kind of a house, I'll ax ye wonst more, do ye keep?
Mrs. H.It's a respectable, honest boordin'-house; bad luck
to the blackgaird that says it's not.
Mr. O'G.Will you plase to state to the Coort the facts of
the unfortunate occurrence that thranspired in yer house last night?
Mrs. H.For the matther o' that, there's mighty little for
to tell; for it was nothin' more nor a wake, barrin' that the corpse
come to life widout showin' the civility of first tellin' the mourners
that he wasn't dead at all at all, and sayin', 'By yer lave, I'd rather
not be, av it's all the same to yez.'
Mr. O'G.It's about that, Misthress Hennesy, that his honor
is a waitin' for ye to spake of. Now, thin, will ye relate the facts?
Mrs. H.Well, plase yer honor, it was yestherday mornin'
airly that I heard Timothy Garretty was up stairs in his room, very
sick, and like to die. I dhressed myself, and sent for the docther, and
went up stairs; and throth Tim was a lyin' there in wan of his fits,
wid which he had been often throubled before; and before the docther
could come to him, the circulation of his brathin' had stopped
entirely. Well, yer honor, Tim had manny frinds in the house, and as he
was an owld boordher, we thought to howld a wake over his body. He was
laid out, and put into a coffin. At night all of his frinds come into
the room, where everything was illegantly arranged for the wake. They
had begun to dhrink their whisky, and was enjoyin' themselves in a
gintale way, whin Pat Mulholland, he sthruck Mike O'Shea over the eye
for somethin' that Mike had said, and wid that Mike's frinds and Pat's
frinds got themselves mixed up in a free fight together. At that time,
plase yer honor, who should I see arisin' from the coffin but Timothy
Garretty himself, and restin' on his hands. By my sowl I was freckened,
for I thought it was Tim's apparition that was appearin'. Thin Tim
spoke up; 'Bad luck to yez,' says he, 'isn't it a fine thing yez is
doin'havin' the whisky flowin' free, and a free fight, too, and
keepin' me a lyin' in this blackgaird box on the broad of me back,
widout ever so much as axin' me if I had a mouth on me at all at all?'
Wid that somebody who was a strikin' happened to hit Timothy a clout in
the eye, which knocked him back into the coffin.
'Who the divil did that?' sez Tim, as he made a spring from the
coffin on to the floor, dhressed all up in his white clothes. 'Show me
the man that shtruck me in me eye;' and wid that Tim he commenced a
shtrikin' out, and he shtruck Dennis Marony under the but of the lug.
Whin they saw Tim out of his coffin, they stopped a fightin', and fell
on their knees, and commenced a sayin' their prayers. 'What's the
matther wid yez?' says Tim.
'Are ye not dead?' says Larry O'Brien.
'Yes, as dead as a nest of live flaze,' says Tim.
'Then yer alive,' says they.
'Thry me wid some whisky,' says he; and wid that they got up and
give Tim some whisky, which he never dhrank wid a betther grace nor
thin. Well, as Tim wasn't dead, they couldn't howld the wake, but they
said it would be a pity to lave the whisky to spoil, so they agreed
that they'd have the spree just the same. Tim was purty wake from his
fit, and so it didn't take long to make him dead dhrunk, whin we laid
him in his bed. Afther that, yer honor, they kept on a dhrinkin', and
was fightin' in the most frindly way, whin the M.P.s come into the
door, and tuck some of thim off to the station-house. I thin shut up
the house, and the rest wint to bed.
Judge.Mrs. Hennesy, where is Timothy, the corpse?
'Here, sir,' said a cadaverous-looking Hibernian, 'a little the
worse for dyin' widout bein' very dead.'
Judge.I think you're good for a few years yet if you take
care of yourself. Mr. O'Grady, have your other witnesses anything to
testify in addition to what Mrs. Hennesy has stated?
Mr. O'Grady.I belave not, yer honer. The material facts of
the definse are sufficiently proven by Misthress Hennesy's evidence. Av
the Coort plase, I have a few words to say in behalf of me clients
here, which, av the Coort will hear me, I will make brief and to the
Mr. O'Grady.Thin, av the Coort plase, I will state that
the ground of my definse of these gintlemen and ladies against the
unfounded chairge of their disturbin' the public pace, is that the
chairge is unthrue in point of fact. Sir, what are the facts? A man
dies, and his friends congregate about the corpse to perform their last
friendly offices to his remains, in accordance with a custom justified
by thradition, ratified by usage, sanctified by antiquity, vilified by
these officers of the law when they call it a disturbance of the public
quiet, crucified when they burst in the house of mournin' and
interfered wid it in the name of the law; and, sir, I shall now proceed
to establish a definse, bone fide, with the soundness of which I
belave yer honor will be satisfied. Sir, the Constitution guarantees to
my clients freedom of conscience; the stairs and sthripes wave proudly
over a land in which religious despotism never dare show its repulsive
form; and yet these officers dare to say that a custom, which is almost
a pairt of the religion of these my clients, is a disturbance of the
public pace. Sir, the institutions of our counthry air endangered by
such perceedin's. And who was they disturbin'? Wasn't every man and
woman and child in Pacific Place of the same nationality of these my
clients? Air not their ethnological instincts runnin' in the same
channels? Was they disturbed? No! Every man and woman and child there
would have admired the devotion of these my clients, to their ancient
national thraditions and customs. There they was wan wid another doin'
their last friendly offices to their deceased friend in a fraternal
fight over his corpse. Sir, what a sublime spectacle for the human mind
to contemplate. I wondher that the officers were not thransfixed by the
solemnity and moral grandeur of the scene.
Judge.Mr. O'Grady, I think that the fact of the dead
having come to life, and having been put to bed dead drunk, proves
disastrous for your argument, even admitting its soundness.
Mr. O'Grady.Thrue it is, yer honor, that the wake was
perceedin' without the corpse, as thradition has it, that wonst upon a
time Hamlet was played widout the Prince of Denmark; but, yer honor, it
was the fault of the corpse, and not of that assembly of mourners. If
Timothy Garretty had chosen to have remained a dacintly-behaved corpse,
thin the objection which yer honor has raised could not have weighed
against me clients here, and I press it now upon yer honor should my
clients here be held accountable for the shortcomings of the corpse? I
think not, sir.
Judge.I think, Mr. O'Grady, you may dispense with further
argument, as it would be superfluous. Mrs. Hennesy's house and its
inmates have never been complained of before that I am aware of, and in
consideration of this fact I'll discharge the prisoners, giving them
warning, however, in the future that if they are any of them brought
before me again, I shall not deal with them so leniently. You may go.
The interesting party left the court.
The business of the court having been quite extended, the Judge
cast eyes upon the clock, observing that the hour was already advanced,
but as he looked at the list of cases before him, he observed with a
seeming satisfaction, that he had now reached the last; he felicitated
himself with the idea that in a few moments he would be at liberty to
leave the premises, and after finding his way to some neighboring
restaurant, partake of his judicial sirloin steak and coffee. He was
evidently fatigued, but he put on a good-humored face as he called out:
'Here, sir,' said a young Milesian, remarkable for nothing in
particular; 'here I am, sir:' and Timothy Mulrooney stepped forward to
The Judge addressed the prisoner:
'Timothy,' said he, 'you are charged with disorderly conduct.'
'Yes sir, he is, and it's me that chairges him wid that same,'
spoke up an old woman, dressed in a heavy, blue cloth cloak, and an
antiquated cap and bonnet.
Judge.Are you the witness?
Woman.Av coorse I am, your honor, and it's me pride that I
can spake against Tim Mulrooneythe dirty tief of the world that he is
(to the prisoner), and I wondher, Tim, that you're not ashamed to howld
up yer head before his honor.
Judge.Madame, state the facts as they occurred.
Witness.Well, place your honor, it was on Friday mornin'
or Saturday mornin', I don't know which; but be that as it may, it
doesn't make anny difference, because it's about what followed that yer
honor wants for to know, when I heard the horn of a fish-cairt in front
of my door; sez I to myself, now Michael has come wid the porgies,
Judge.Who is Michael?
Witness.And don't ye know Michael, sure? he is my own
child, and a betther-behaved and more dacent boy nor him never sang at
a wake; and he can rade and write yer honor, as well as annybody,
barrin' that whin he comes to the big words he has to skip them, and
guess at what they mane; but that is not his fault, yer honor, for
Michael never had any time to go to school, still
Judge.Madame, you shouldn't let your tongue fly off in a
tangent in this way. What we desire to know is relative to the charge
preferred by you against Timothy Mulrooney, here.
Witness.Yes, your worship, I was just comin' to it when ye
interrupted me. (To the prisoner)Ah, you murdbering tief, it's on
Blackwell's Island that ye ought to be, instead of bein' here to face
his honor in the indacent way that ye'r doing now. (To the
Judge)Well, your honor, it was on Friday mornin' or Saturday mornin',
I can't tell which, but be that as it may, it does not make anny
difference, because it's about what followed that yer honor wants for
to know, when I heard the horn of a fish-cairt in front of me door. Sez
I to myself, Michael has come wid the porgies. You see, your honor,
Michael owns a fish-cairt, and he sells fish, and what he doesn't sell
he brings home for us to ate. He towld me in the morning, that he would
thry for to save some of the porgies for dinner. Thin I wint out ov the
door, and sure enough it was Michael. 'Michael,' sez I; 'What,' sez he;
'Is it here ye's air?' sez I; 'Sure it is,' sez he; 'Did you save the
porgies?' sez I; 'Av coorse I did,' sez he; and wid that he commenced
takin' out the fish from the cairt.
Judge.What has all this to do with Timothy Mulrooney's
offensive conduct? you have not shown as yet that he has done anything
Witness.Yer honor need have no fears but I'll convince yez
that a dirtier spalpeen nor him niver was allowed to go unhung among a
dacent people. (To the prisoner)Ah, Tim, ye villain, I wondher that
the ship didn't sink wid ye on board when ye left the ould counthry;
I'd like to see ye show a receipt wid yer passage-money paid, ye
Judge.Madam, I must insist upon your addressing yourself
to the Court; you have no business to speak to the prisoner at all.
Although he may have done wrong, yet so long as he is in my presence he
shall be protected from the assaults of your tongue.
Witness (excited).The assaults of me tongue! Howly St.
Pathrick, do ye hear that? Yer honor, I'm a dacint woman wid a family
of childher and divil a word was ever spoke against me charackther
Judge.I said nothing against your character. I want you to
confine yourself to what Timothy Mulrooney did to disturb the peace and
quiet of your domicile.
Witness.I will yer honor. It was on Friday mornin', or
Saturday mornin', I don't know which, but be that as it may, it don't
make anny difference, because it's about what followed that yer honor
wants for to know; ah, yer honor, I have it nowit was Friday
mornin'we was to have porgies for dinner, and not mate, because it
Judge.All this is worse than nothing; you are taking up
the time of the court by your tedious talk, which, so far as I can see,
has no bearing whatever on the charge you have seen fit to make against
this man Timothy.
Witness.Haven't I been trying for the last ten minutes to
tell ye, and ye'll not not let me? It's wid a bad grace that yer honor
reproves me for not tellin' ye what I know, whin it's yerself that is
interruptin' me. Well, yer honer, it was on Friday morning, whin I
heard the horn of a fish-cairt in front of my door, sez I to myself,
Judge.I don't want to hear that story any more. You have
told that several times already. State the facts about Timothy. Come
down to the time when he commences to figure.
Witness.Ah, bad luck to the thratement that I get here.
Has any of my illusthrious family the O'Briens ever done annything
against yer honer that yez should illthrait me in this way?
Judge.Not that I am aware of. Now go on with your
Witness.Well, yer honor, as I was about to tell ye, it was
on Friday mornin' whin I heard the horn of a fish-cairt in front of my
door. Sez I to myselfnow Michael has come wid the porgies.
Judge (impatiently).Mrs. O'Brien, I
Witness.Me name's not O'Brien; I'm a married woman, and me
name is Flaherty; me name was O'Brien when I was a girl.
Judge.Well, then, Mrs. Flaherty, O'Brien, or whatever your
name is, I have heard of these porgies and that fish-cart so often that
they have grown stale; now tell me what occurred between you and
Witness.How do I know but ye'll intherrupt me again before
I have said five words?
Judge.You may rest assured that I will not if you will
tell what Tim Mulrooney has done that is contrary to law.
Witness.I could tell ye enough to hang him a half-dozen
times, if he had as manny necks as that; (to the prisoner) ye know I
could, Tim, ye
Judge (perspiringly).Mrs. O'Flaherty
Witness.Flaherty, widout the O, yer honor.
Judge.Well, whatever your name is, you must not say
anything to the prisoner in this court. Go on now, and if you will tell
what he has done I'll not interrupt you.
Witness.Now remember yer promise, ye honor. It was on
Judge (despairingly).You're at it again. I
Witness.Howly mother of Moses! I told yer honor how it
would be wid ye; here I haven't said more nor five words before yer at
yer owld thricks again.
Judge (much vexed).What did Timothy do with your fish?
Witness.He didn't do annything wid them that time, barrin'
that he saw Michael bring them in the house, and I heard him tell Biddy
Mulrooney, his mother, who lives in the next room to me, that he would
rather live on praties and bread, as they was a doin', than to ate
stinkin' porgies that nobody else would buy; I know the Mulrooneys was
Judge.Did Timothy create any disturbance then?
Witness.No, yer honor, he didn't.
Judge.Then why did you have him arrested?
Witness.It was afther thin that the spalpeen made the
Judge.When was that?
Witness.It was yestherday mornin'.
Judge.What did Timothy do?
Witness.It wasn't Tim, but his cat.
Judge.Then it seems that you have entered a charge against
Timothy Mulrooney of disorderly conduct, which, by right, you should
have made against Timothy Mulrooney's cat, always provided that cats
are amenable to municipal law.
Witness.By my sowl, yer honor, ye've got it mixed up
again. Now why didn't ye wait until I could tell ye.
Judge.Go on; I am reconciled to my fate. As a particular
favor, I should like to have you finish within a half hour.
Witness.Well, yer honor, as I was tellin' ye, the
Mulrooneys was jealous of us because we had fish and they didn't.
Yestherday mornin' Michael brought home more porgies (the Judge here
heaved a deep sigh) and I laid them on top of a barrel in the passage
to wait till I could dress them; what next, yer honor, did I see but
Tim Mulrooney's big tom cat on the barrel atin' the fish; I heaved a
pratie at the cat and it ran off wid the porgies; just thin I saw Tim
Mulrooney laughing at what the cat was doin'; I know the blackgaird had
towld the cat to ate the porgies; I called to Michael, and I run toward
Tim to bate the tief as he deserved, whin my foot slipped and I furled
over on the broad of my back; wid that Tim laughed the more, and
Michael run to him, and was about to give him a tap on the sconce, whin
Tim struck Michael a blow in his bowels, which quite prostrated him on
the floor; with that I ran and got the M.P., who brought the murderin'
tief to the station-house.
Judge.Well, Mrs. Flaherty, I think, according to your own
story, the prisoner acted more in his own defence than any other way.
Witness.In his own definse! Bad luck to the tongue that
says so. Is
Judge (to prisoner).Timothy Mulrooney, I am by no means
sure that your cat did not eat the Flahertys' fish with your
connivance. If the cat did so, you did wrong; but for that you are
sufficiently punished by your imprisonment last night. I think you
might have been less hasty in striking Michael. Is Michael in court?
Mrs. Flaherty.He is. Stand up, Michael, before his honor.
Mrs. Flaherty, Michael and Timothy were standing together in a row.
Judge.Now I am going to insure perfect harmony in your
house for six months to come; I shall bind each of you over in the sum
of $200 to keep the peace.
This was almost too great a humiliation for the blood of the
O'Briens to bear; but there was no alternative. Mrs. O'Brien Flaherty
satisfied herself as well as she could by looking screw-drivers at the
Judge; Michael appeared demure, and Timothy appeared jolly. The bonds
were given, and the interesting trio left the court.
The Judge rose from his chair, and made a bee line for breakfast.
During the various narrations which were given during the evening,
Mr. Quackenbush remained seated in the corner, saying nothing and doing
as much. His eyes were partially closed, and an occasional sigh was all
that escaped him.
When Mr. Dropper concluded the reading of his contributions, it was
moved that Mr. Quackenbush open his mouth, and say something, under the
penalty of having it pried open with the poker.
This caused Mr. Quackenbush to open his eyes; and, after various
preliminary hems and coughs, he announced that there was a certain rule
of evidence which gave a witness the right to refuse to say anything
tending to criminate himself. He should avail himself of that rule.
Having said these words, Mr. Quackenbush rolled over on the floor, drew
himself into double bow knot, and was soon snoring against noise.
In the meantime Mr. Spout had taken the floor, and stated that he
had on one occasion been over at the Essex Market Police Court. He was
there the involuntary witness of the trial of a case, which might
account for the non-communicative disposition manifested on the present
occasion by Mr. Quackenbush. During the proceedings, the justice called
out the name of R. Percy De Laney Blobb; and in response to the call a
tall individual arose and came forward. I thought I recognized in the
individual in question, continued Mr. Spout, a person whom I had seen
before, and I was not mistaken. He was wild, and disposed to regale the
assembled company with a numerous collection of songs, which he had at
his tongue's end. His dress was much disarranged.
The evidence of the officer who had arrested the tall gentleman,
went to show that he had offended against the laws, by disturbing the
rest and quiet of an unappreciative neighborhood, by bawling forth at
midnight most unmelodious yells, which, when he was apprehended, he
assured the officer were capital imitations of Sontag, Grisi, and
Grisi's new baby. When arrested the individual was in a plebeian state
of drunkennessnot so much so but that he could sing, as he called it,
and could talk after an original fashion of his own. His ideas were
slightly confused; he informed the officer that he had been to hear
Louisa Crown sing the Pyne Diamonds, and that he met a friend who took
him to a billiard shop to see a clam race; that he and his friend bet
the whisky on the result; that he drunk for both, and that they had
passed the remainder of the evening in a 'magnorious manner,' singing
'Storm Columbus,' 'Yankee Boodles,' and the 'Scar Strangled Bladder.'
The officer had taken him to the lock-up, where he had finished the
night singing 'Good Old Daniel,' whistling the 'Prima Donna Waltz,' and
playing an imaginary piano-solo on the floor, in which attempt he had
worn off some of his finger-nails. When he was before the court he had
not yet recovered his normal condition. He was still musically
obstinate, and refused to answer any questions of the Judge, or make
any remarks, except in scraps of songs, which he sang in a low voice,
mixing up the tunes in a most perplexing manner. Being possessed of an
excellent memory, and having a large assortment of melodies at his
command, his answers were sometimes more amusing than relevant. The
Judge proceeded to interrogate him somewhat as follows:
Judge.What is your name, sir?
Prisoner.'My name is Robert Kidd, as I sailed'
Indignant Officer.He lies, your honor. Last night he said
his name was Blobb.
Judge.Where do you live?
Prisoner.'Erin, Erin is my home.'
Knowing Officer.He isn't an Irishman, Judge; he's a
Connecticut Yankee, and lives in East Broadway.
Prisoner.'That's eight times to-day you have kissed me
Officer.Please, your honor, he's an octagonal liar, I
Judge.Where did you get your liquor?
Prisoner.'Way down south in Cedar street; rinctum'
Judge (to officer).What's that he says?
Attentive Officer.At Ringtown's in Cedar street.
Judge.What number in Cedar street?
Prisoner.'Forty horses in the stable.'
Officious Officer.Ringtown's, No. 40 Cedar street, your
Prisoner.(Voluntary remark, sotto voce.) 'A jay bird sat
on a hickory limbhe winked at me and I winked at him.'
Indignant Officer.Who're you winkin' at?
Prisoner.'Nelly Bly, shuts her eye.'
Officer.You'd better shut your mouth.
Judge.What have you got to say, prisoner?
Prisoner.'Hear me, Norma.'
Officer.Well, go on, go on.
Prisoner.'O blame not the bard.'
Judge.Nobody to blame but yourself.
Prisoner.'Did you ever hear tell of Kate Kearney?'
Knowing Officer.Keeps a place in Mott street, your honor.
Prisoner.'O! O! O! O! O! Sally is the gal for me.'
Judge (to officer).Who is Sally? Some disreputable female
Officer.She went up to the Island to-day, sir.
Prisoner.'O tell me, where is Fancy bred.'
Judge.I don't know anything about your fancy bread, if you
have anything to say, go on.
Prisoner.'We'll all go bobbing around.'
The Judge here became indignant, and demanded if he had a friend to
become bail for him, to which query the prisoner hiccuped out,
I'll never, never finda better friend than old dog Tray.'
Judge.Can't take him, he is not responsible.
Prisoner.'I give thee all, I can no more.'
Judge.It won't do, sir, I shall fine you $10.
Prisoner.'That's the way the money goespop goes the
Indignant Officer.I'll pop you over the head presently.
Prisoner.'There's whisky in the jug.'
Officer.You'll be there, too, shortly.
Judge.If you can't pay you must go to jail.
Prisoner.'Give me a cot in the valley I love.'
Judge.Very well, sir, I'll do it. Tombs, ten days.
Prisoner.'I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls.'
The officer was about removing the individual below, when I came to
the rescue, and informed the Judge that the prisoner was a friend of
mine, that this was the first occasion in which he had ever manifested
such eccentricities, and if he would let him off from the punishment
this time, I would take him to his home and see that he never disturbed
the city by his yells in the future.
The prisoner turned his eyes upon me, and again broke out:
'Good news from home, good news for me'
'Mr. Blobb,' said the Judge, 'if I let you off this time, will you
cease going on these drunken sprees?'
Prisoner.'I'll touch not, taste not, handle not, whate'er
Judge.I hope that when we meet again it will be under more
favorable auspices to yourself
Prisoner (interrupting).'Meet me by moonlight alone, and I
will tell thee.'
Judge (resuming).For you're in a bad plight now to appear
among the ladies.
Prisoner.'Oh! I'm the boy for bewitching them.'
Judge.Not when you're drunk, I imagine.
Prisoner.'A man's a man, for a' o' that.'
Judge.You may go, sir. Good day.
Prisoner.'Oh, give to me that better word that comes from
the heart, Good bye.'
I managed to get my friend, Mr. Blobb, out of the court-room, and
subsequently, with some difficulty, I succeeded in putting him to bed
in my apartment, where I kept him for twenty-four hours, until he had
recovered from his temporary aberration. He has since that time been in
a normal state, except that he appears melancholy at times. He is well
To be here this evening, said Quackenbush, interrupting; for know
ye that Mr. R. Percy Delancy Blobb is now before you in the person of
myself, and I am here to-night to ask forgiveness, which, if you don't
give to me, I shall take immediate measures to expel you all from the
It was immediately voted that Mr. Quackenbush be forgiven, on
condition that he would disclose the facts which led to his being found
a prisoner in the Essex Market Police Court.
This, Mr. Quackenbush said he would do and do it now, and after
finding room for a glass of ginger-wine, proceeded to narrate his
He stated, substantially, that the whole difficulty grew out of a
love affair. He had become deeply infatuated with an unknown and
beautiful blonde. He had often met her in the street, in theatres, and
concert-rooms, and his intense admiration ripened into a deep love. He
was unable to learn who she was until a fortnight previously, when he
found a friend who was well acquainted with her, and who undertook to
bring about an introduction. Things wore a brighter aspect then. The
sun was more brilliant; the moon shed a less melancholy light; lager
bier tasted better; oysters appeared fatter; peanuts seemed always
roasted just enough, and, in fact, he felt quite satisfied with life,
and the world generally, and resolved to postpone indefinitely a
purpose he had entertained of buying three cents' worth of arsenic. But
a day or two before the scene in the Police Court in which he figured,
he found himself in a stage, and directly opposite was the identical
object of his admiration and affection. He hitched from one side on his
seat to the other; put one leg on the other, and then reversed them;
looked out of the window, and then at her; scratched his ears; pulled
up his collar; brushed the dust from his pantaloons; put his hands in
his pockets; pulled them out, and did many ridiculous things which he
would not have done had she not been present. She stopped the stage on
one of the avenues, and handed him a five-franc piece to pay the
driver. The driver, as usual, gave change in small pieces. He counted
it to see that it was all right; found it to be so, and informed her of
the fact. The streets being very muddy, he resolved to do the genteel
in the way of assisting her out of the vehicle; made his exit; put one
foot six inches into a mud-hole, and the other on the edge of the
curb-stone; lifted the lady to the sidewalk in safety, at the expense
of bursting off two suspender-buttons, and his vest-buckle, a slip down
causing his nose to fall against the tire, his knees into the mud, his
shoulder against the stage-steps, and caving in his hat. But all this
didn't trouble him in the least, as he expected to be more than
remunerated by an approving smile on the part of the lady. He turned
his face towards her, and found her engaged in counting the change,
which he had pronounced to be all right, as if she suspected that he
would be guilty of cheating her out of a stray sixpence, and thus
hazard his chances for salvation. The effect of the disappointment, on
him, was frightful. He felt a sickening sensation; stopped at the
nearest whisky-shop, and imbibed; went to another, and took a nip;
proceeded to a third, and smiled; reached a fourth, and took a horn;
entered a fifth, and drank, and so on, ad libitum. At last he
reached Niblo's; saw a flaming poster announcing that Louisa Pyne was
to sing in the Crown Diamonds; bought a ticket; took several drinks
and a seat. His ears had become unusually critical. Thought he could
beat Harrison singing, and to satisfy himself, he rose up, and
commenced to slaughter a piece, which Harrison had just executed. There
was an evident want of appreciation of his abilities, for he was
hustled out in double-quick time. He then went to a bar-room, and
called for something to drink, which deliberate act was the last
circumstance he remembered, previous to recognizing Mr. Spout in his
room in the afternoon of the following day, when he inquired of that
gentleman if he wouldn't be so kind as to prevent the nigger boy from
striking him on the head with a poker, as he thought he had done it
A vote of forgiveness to Mr. Quackenbush was carried, after which
the entire club went to sleep.
The Hamlet Night.
Murder most foul, as in the best it is;
But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.
A few days after the events recorded in the last chapter, a new
trick was invented to obtain under, false pretences, the money of the
public. A number of needy and seedy individuals having been told that
in England several of the most distinguished literary men in that
country had given a few theatrical exhibitions with great success,
conceived the plan of exhibiting, in a similar manner, in the city of
New York, a number of authors, artists and other celebrities, admitting
the public at twenty-five cents per head. That it might look less like
a humbug, and by way of hiding, as far as possible, the swindle which
was only too transparent, after all, it was announced that the living
poets and painters would be shown all alive in secure cages, undergoing
a periodical stirring-up by the keeper, and being benevolently fed in
the presence of the spectators afterward.
Preparations had been made to secure the services of the biggest
authors, the most notorious painters, the largest sized sculptors, the
most melodious poets, and the most sanguinary editors the country could
produce. The anxious world expected nothing less than to see the author
of Thanatopsis appear as Hamlet in black-tights and a slouched
hatand he who invented Evangeline and Hiawatha come on as the
Ghost with a pasteboard helmet and a horse-hair beard. Who should
be Laertes but he who skulped the Greek Slave, or what editor
could play the king like the democratic conductor of the Tribune
? who, in assuming the crown, was to doff the white hat, positively for
one night only? The Queen of Denmark would of course be
represented by the architect of Uncle Tom's Cabin, whose familiarity
with courts and royalty would enable her to invest the character with
life-like interest. The public had made up its mind to be content with
no Ophelia except Ruth Hall, for no one else could play the
crazy scenes so admirably. But alas for the expectations of the
misguided publicthe illustrious individuals aforesaid would not come,
and consequently the public were compelled to witness the consummation
of the dreadful tragedy, by authors whose works they had never heard
of; painters whose productions were unknown to the world, and editors
whom a close investigation resolved into obscure scribblers.
To this literary exhibition Overdale, Wagstaff, and John Spout
resolved to goOverdale to give the necessary explanations, Wagstaff
to make a transcript of his friend's valuable remarks, and John Spout
(himself an amateur artist) to see the celebrated men of his own
profession, whose contributions to art had been so persistently kept
out of sight.
The performance was to take place in the Academy of Music, a
building designed and completed by a diabolically ingenious architect,
who endeavored to construct a theatre in such a manner that one half
the audience could not hear, and the other half could not see, and who
succeeded to admiration.
Our friends obtained seats in that part of the house where they
could see, though it was not possible to hear a word.
After a great many preliminary flourishes and false starts by the
members of the orchestra, they set off as nearly together as they
could, in obedience to the frantic gestures of the leader, who
flourished his fiddle-bow with as much energy and vindictiveness as if
he had been insanely endeavoring to kill mosquitoes with it, in forty
different directions at once.
Finally the curtain went up amid the uproarious applause of the
assembled multitude, interrupted only by a small boy in the gallery,
who hissed like a whole flock of enraged wild-geese, having been
stationed there especially for the performance of this sibilant duty by
an avenging washerwoman, to whom one of the amateurs owed four and
sixpence; his dissenting voice was, however, soon hushed by the police,
who put him out, and didn't give him his money back, after which the
To give a full description of one half of the ridiculous
performances indulged in by these deluded personsto tell of the new
readings which they gave, and the old readings which they didn't
giveto relate how carefully they avoided the traps, and with what
commendable caution they kept away from the footlightsto give an idea
of the bedlamitish ingenuity they had displayed in the selection of
wardrobe, how each one had put on the most inappropriate articles
imaginable, and how they could not have been more incongruously attired
if they had been all dressed in sheep's grey breeches and straw
hatsto dilate upon the disasters which befell the said wardrobe, how
the tunics caught in the wings, and the shoulder-cloaks got singed by
the side-lights; how the ladies' trains were in everybody's way, and
their feathers in everybody's eyeshow, in their confusion, when they
painted their faces, they put the wrong colors in the wrong places, and
some of them went on with white cheeks, chalked lips, and eyebrows
colored a bright vermilionhow the gilt crowns got bent and battered
until they looked like ancient milk-pans with the bottoms melted
outhow the flannel ermine on the regal calico robes got greasy, and
looked like tripehow the wax pearls melted and the glass ones
brokehow the supes painted their whiskers uneven, and got their
wigs on wrong side beforehow some of them couldn't get their armor on
at all, but how one enterprising individual, having succeeded to his
satisfaction, came on to deliver a message, with his sandals in his
hand, his helmet on one foot, his breast-plate on the other, and his
leg-pieces strapped on his shouldersto tell how the Ghost got
chilly and played the last scene in an overcoat, and proved that he was
a substantial Native American Ghost, by making two extemporaneous
speeches, in excellent English, to the audienceto do full justice to
the miscellaneous assortment of legs, then and there
congregated, and relate how some were bow-legs, and some were
shingle-legs, some were broomstick-legs, some were wiry legs, and some
were shoulder-of-mutton legsto give an accurate relation of the
various expedients resorted to, to remedy the most noticeable defects
in those legs, and state that some were padded on the sides, and some
at the ankles, and how, in not a few instances, the padding slipped
away from its original position, thereby putting the calves on the
shins, and causing the knees to resemble deformed india-rubber
foot-ballsand to give a reliable history of the unheard-of antics
indulged in by the said fantastic legs, after their symmetry had been
perfected by the means just writtenhow some went crooked, some
sideways, and some wouldn't go at all; how some minced with short
steps, like a racking pony, and others stepped along as if they had
seven-league boots on; how some moved with convulsive hitches, as if
they were clockwork legs, and the springs were out of order; how some
worked spasmodically up and down in the same place, and didn't get
along at all, as if they were legs which had struck for higher wages;
and how others dashed ahead, as if they did not intend to stop until
they had transported their bewildered proprietors out of sight of the
audience, as if they were machine legs, with the steam turned on, and
weights on the safety-valve; how some went on the stage and wouldn't go
off, and how others went off and wouldn't go on, until they were coaxed
on by their agonized owners, a long time after the cue cameto tell
how the red fire burned green, and the blue fire would not burn at
allhow the call-boy got tipsy, and was not forthcominghow the
property-man fell over the sheet-iron thunder, and stuck his head into
a pot of red paint, which made him look like a modern edition of
Charles the First with his head cut offhow the grave-diggers got into
the grave and couldn't get outhow Hamlet and Laertes
could hardly get in at all; and how, when they did get in, they made
the gravel flyhow the wrong men came on at the wrong time, and how,
as a general thing, the right men didn't ever come onhow
Guildenstern spoke Ophelia's lines, how Horatio tried
to speak one of Hamlet's speeches, and danced a frantic hornpipe with
rage because he couldn't think how it began, and how Polonius
couldn't speak at all, and so went homehow nobody could remember what
Shakspeare said, and so everybody said what Shakspeare didn't say, and
hadn't said, and wouldn't have said, under any circumstanceshow some
of the men swore, and some of the women wanted to, but postponed it,
and how the butchery proceeded, with many mishaps and multitudinous
mistakes, and how the audience applauded, and cheered, and laughed at
the dismal tragedy, evidently considering it the liveliest farce of the
season, are facts, falsehoods, and circumstances, both real and
supposititious, which could not be compressed within the limits of a
Hamlet was personated by an aspiring youth, whose physical
dimensions were not up to the army standard, and who couldn't have
gathered fruit from a currant-bush without high-heeled boots on; while
the lady who represented his mother would have been compelled to stoop
in order to pick pippins from the tallest apple-tree that ever grew. By
the side of her illustrious son, she looked perfectly capable of taking
him up in her arms, giving him his dinner after the usual maternal
fashion, and afterwards disposing of him in the trundle-bed, to
complete his infant slumbers.
Overdale explained that they had tried to get a bigger Hamlet, but that, upon the whole, he thought the little fellow would speak
his piece pretty well, taking into consideration the fact, that in the
dying groans, he was supposed to have no superior.
Wagstaff was totally ignorant of the plot, and as from the
obfuscation of the performers, no one could have formed the slightest
idea of what they were all talking about, he seemed in no very fair way
to find out anything about it.
The peculiar rendition of the story of the King of Denmark was so
uncertain, that even John Spout found it exceedingly difficult to tell
where they were or how they would come out, or what they intended to do
next. He was a little uncertain whether the queen would finally subdue
Hamlet, or Hamlet succeed in thrashing the queen. In the
closet scene, especially, the battle was conducted with such varying
success that it was impossible to bet, with any kind of certainty, on
the result, or to prognosticate, with reliability, whether Hamlet
would knock his mother down with a chair, and damage her maternal
countenance with the heels of his boots, or whether the old lady would
succeed in her design, which was evidently to conquer her
rebellious offspring, and give him a good spanking. Neither could he
tell whether Laertes would kill Horatio, Hamlet,
or the Second Grave-digger, who stood behind the wing, with his
hands in his pockets, and his breeches in his boots. He was also a
little undecided as to which was Polonius, and which was the
king, and when the player queen came on, he thought it was only
Ophelia, with a different-colored petticoat on. John swore the
Ghost looked as if he hadn't had any dinner, and said he was
perfectly certain his ghostship had been refreshing his invisible
bowels with a mug of ale, behind the scenes, because when he came on
the last time, with the broomstick in his hand, he could see the foam
on his whiskers.
One of the richest and most incomprehensible scenes ever witnessed
on the modern stage was the final one between Hamlet and the
Ghost, who, finding the weather chilly, had done his best to
mitigate his sufferings by putting on an overcoat. Hamlet,
trying to look fierce, holding his sword at arm's length, performing a
kind of original fancy-dance, as he followed the spiritual remains of
his ghostly father across the stageHamlet, the mortal, being
about the size of a mutton-ham, while his father, the immortal,
supposed to be exceedingly ethereal, was tall enough and stout enough
for a professional coal-heaver, instead of an amateur ghostthe
intangible spirit, moreover, having one hand in his overcoat pocket, to
keep his fingers warm, while in the other he flourished a short
broomstick, as if to keep his degenerate scion at a respectful
distance, were so ludicrous, that John Spout seized Wagstaff's book,
and produced the sketch to be found at the beginning of this chapter.
And in the last death-scene Hamlet really won such honors as
were never before accorded to mortal tragedian; being by this time a
little doubtful whom to kill, he made an end of the entire company in
rotation. First, he stabbed the King, who rolled over once or
twice, and died with his legs so tangled up in the Queen's train
that she had to expire in a hard knot; then he stabbed
Laertes, who died cross-legged; then he stabbed Osric; and
not content with this, he tripped up his heels and stood on his
stomach, till he died in an agony of indigestion; then he tried to
stick Horatio, but only succeeded in knocking his wig off; and
then, turning up stage, made extensive preparations for terminating his
First, as everybody was dead, and everybody's legs were lying round
loose, he had to lay them out of the way carefully, so as not to
interfere with the comfort of the corpses; then he picked up all the
swords and laid them cautiously in a corner, so that the points
shouldn't stick in him when he fell; then he looked up at the curtain
to see that he was clear of that, then he looked down at the traps to
see that he was clear of them, and having at last arranged everything
to his satisfaction, he proceeded to go systematically through his
dying agonies, to the great satisfaction of the audience. Suffice it to
say, that when the spasms were ended, and he had finally become a cold
corpus, his black tights were very dirty and had holes in the knees.
When the curtain went down Hamlet was too exhausted to get
up, and instantly everybody rushed to the rescue; those he had
slaughtered but a few minutes before, forgot their mortal wounds, and
hastened to the murderer with something to drink. The King
rushed up with a pewter mug of beer; Horatio presented the
brandy-bottle; the Ghost handed him a glass of gin and sugar;
the Queen gave him the little end of a Bologna sausage and a
piece of cheese; the stage carpenter, in his bewilderment, could think
of nothing but the glue-pot; the property man hastened to his aid with
a tin cup full of rose-pink, and a plate-full of property
apple-dumplings (ingeniously but deceptively constructed out of canvas
and bran), while an insane scene-shifter first deluged him with water,
and then offered him the bucket to dry himself with.
John Spout, who had been behind the curtain, and witnessed this last
performance, immediately came out, borrowed Wagstaff's notebook, and
left therein his pictorial reminiscence of this scene as follows:
Overdale had been profuse in his explanations of the many curious
scenes, and Wagstaff had noted down his words carefully in his
memorandum-book. Once when the Ghost tripped and fell through
the scenery, caving in the side of a brick house, and kicking his
spiritual heels through the belfry of a church in the background,
Overdale said that this was Ophelia, who had been taken suddenly
crazy, and in her frenzy had imagined it necessary to hasten to the
nearest grocery for a bar of soap to saw her leg off with. Polonius, he explained, was Horatio, and Hamlet was a little boy
who run on errands for the cook of the palace, by which culinary
appellation he designated the Queen of Denmark. He said the plot of the
piece was, that the king wanted to marry the cook, but her relatives
objected to the alliance, because his majesty hadn't got shirts enough
for a change.
All of which was carefully written down by Wagstaff, with divers
alterations, emendations, additions, and extemporaneous illustrations,
by John Spout.
This last-named individual asserts to the present time that he
cannot tell who were the most humbuggedthe people who paid their
money, and laughed at the play under the impression that it was a
farce, or the unfortunates who performed the play, laboring under the
hallucination that they were acting tragedy.
All were, however, satisfied, that it was a kink of the Elephant's
tail, which he has not yet uncurled in any city of Americasave
MRS. THROUGHBY DAYLIGHT'S FANCY
Black spirits and white,
Red spirits and grey,
MR. Remington Dropper had a great respect for upper tendom; was
almost inclined to admit, without question, its claims to the worship
of the vulgar masses, and confessed that when he saw one whom he took
to be a leader of fashion coming, he felt an involuntary movement of
his right hand towards his hat. He admitted that he had, by this manner
of doing indiscriminate homage to well-dressed people, on several
occasions taken off his hat to notorious horse-jockeys, faro-dealers,
However, said John Spout, if you want to go to a grand fancy
dress ball, where you will meet all 'the world,' as these
try-to-be-fashionable people call those who have scraped together
dollars enough to entitle them to their royal notice, I can very easily
get you an invitation. Mrs. Throughby Daylight, whose husband made a
fortune by selling patent medicine, and thereby purged himself of
poverty and plebeianism together, gives, in a short time, a grand
fantasquerade, which is intended to be the most consolidated fancy
dress jam of the season. Do you want to go?
Go, replied Dropper, how can I go? I don't know Mrs. Throughby
Daylight, or Mr. Throughby Daylight, or any of the Daylights, so that
Daylight is all moonshine.
Dropper, was the response, you're young; I excuse that, for you
can't help it; but you're also green, which I cannot forgive;
your verdancy is particularly noticeable when you revive the absolute
absurdity of supposing that it is necessary to be acquainted with a
lady before you are invited to attend her parties. That antiquated idea
has been long since exploded. Why, my dear sir, it is no more necessary
that you should have ever previously heard of a woman whose 'jam' you
receive an invitation to attend, than it is probable she knows who
you are, or where the devil you come from.
Dropper was bewildered.
It is a positive fact, continued Spout. Why, bless your innocent
eyes, a woman of fashion no more knows the names of the individuals who
attend her grand party, than she knows who took tea last night with the
man in the moon. She merely orders music and provisions, makes out a
list of a few persons she must have, has her rooms actually
measured, allows eight inches square to a guest; thus having estimated
the number that can crowd into her house, she multiplies it by two,
which gives the amount of invitations to be issued, after which she
leaves the rest to Brown. Brown takes the list; Brown finds the
required number of guests. Brown invites whom he pleases; Brown fills
the house with people, and Brown, and only Brown, knows who they are,
where they came from, or how the deuce they got their invitations.
Dropper, still more bewildered, inquired who Brown was.
Brown, explained John Spout, is the Magnus Apollo of fashionable
societyhe is the sexton of Graceless Chapel, and no one can be
decently married, or fashionably buried without his assistance. He has
a wedding face and a funeral face, but never forgets himself and cries
over the bride or laughs at the mourners; he is great as a sexton, but
it is only in his character of master of ceremonies at a party, that he
rises into positive sublimityhe is the consoler of aspiring
unfashionables, who have got plenty of money, and want to cut a swell,
but don't know how to begin. He is the furnisher of raw material on
short notice, for fashionable parties of all dimensions; his genius is
equal to any emergency, though, as the latest fashion is to invite
three times as many people as can get into the house at any one time,
Brown is often put to his trumps. Mrs. Codde Fishe last week wanted to
give a party, and, of course, called on Brown. Brown measured the
parlors; they would only hold 1728, even by putting the chairs down
cellar, and turning the piano up endways. Mrs. Codde Fishe was in
despair. Mrs. P. Nutt had received 1800 at her party the night before,
and if she couldn't have 2000 she would be ruined. Brown's genius saved
her. 'Mrs. F.,' said he, 'though we must invite 2000 people, and though
we must have 2000 people in the house, they need not be all there at
one time, and they need not all stay.'
'Certainly not,' said Mrs. Fishe.
'I'll manage it,' said the indefatigable Brownand Brown did
manage it. He got 272 retail drygoods clerks, whom there didn't anybody
know, dressed them in white gloves and the required fixens, so they
looked almost as well as men. Well, sir, if you'll believe it, Brown
had his 272 clerks arrive at the door, eleven at a time, in hired
hackney-coaches, announced them, by high-flown names, to the hostess,
had them march in single file through the parlors to the back door,
where he had a man waiting to conduct them over the garden-fence by a
step-ladder, and so get them out of the way to make room for more.
Mrs. Lassiz Candee had but 1439 names on her list; she wanted 1800.
Brown was summoned. Brown heard the trouble. Brown produced from his
pocket a list of names twenty-one yards in length. For a moderate
compensation he furnished Mrs. Candee with a yard and a half of
literary celebrities, three yards of 'Shanghaes,' five yards and a
quarter of polka dancers, and about fourteen feet of foreigners, with
beards and moustaches for show-pieces, and to give the thing a
But, not to be too tiresome, Dropper, I am on Brown's list of
eligibles, and can get your name added also.
Remington eagerly accepted the offer, and three days after they
found on their table two huge envelopes, addressed respectively to Mr.
John Spout, and Mr. Remington Dropper. Remington, trembling with
haste, broke open his at once, and discovered a card about the size of
a washboard, on which was a communication to the effect that Mrs.
Throughby Daylight requested the pleasure of the company of Mr.
Remington Dropper, and that it was to be a fancy dress party, and he
was requested to appear in costume, all of which he only discovered by
calling John Spout to his assistance, who condescendingly explained
Remington was overjoyed, but in answer to all his anxious inquiries
concerning the manner of procuring the invitation, he only elicited
from John Spout the mysterious monosyllable, BROWN!
What does it mean by coming 'in costume?' How am I to dress?
What shall I put on, and where shall I get it? inquired he.
John explained. It means that you are to disguise yourself in an
un-Christian attire of some description, making yourself look as unlike
a 'human gentleman' as possiblecall yourself a 'Gondolier,' a
'Brigand,' a 'Minstrel Boy,' or some other sentimental or romantic
name, and cut as big a splurge in your borrowed clothes as possible. If
you know anybody who belongs to the theatre, you can easily borrow a
rig; if not, you'll have to hire it of a Jew, and give security that
you'll bring it back.
For four days Mr. Dropper was in a state of feverish undecision
respecting his choice of a character. At the end of that time he was
still wavering between a Turk, a Monk, and Jack Sheppard. By John
Spout's suggestion he resolved to decide the matter by a throw of the
dice, which method made a Turk of him for the eventful evening, the
Monk getting deuce, ace, and a five, Jack Sheppard scoring but
eleven, while his oriental highness came off victorious, by means of
two fours and a six. John Spout was going as a Choctaw Indian, so that
he could smoke all the time and no one would find fault and say that he
The wished-for evening arrived, and Remington began to dress at four
in the afternoon, so as to be in time. By the assistance of two
Irishmen and a black boy he got his dress on at half-past six; and at a
quarter to seven he sunk exhausted into a arm-chair, and went to sleep.
John's own toilette was quickly made; he had borrowed his dress from
a friend, who attended in person to put it on for him.
When they were ready, the black boy was dispatched for a hack, into
which they both got; after experiencing some difficulty from Spout's
war club, which got tangled in Remington's trousers, and being a good
deal exasperated by Dropper's scimitar which would get between
John Spout's legs and interfere with his breech cloth.
At last they approximated the house, and their carriage took its
place in the rear of a long line which had formed in front of Mrs.
Throughby Daylight's mansion, and anxiously waited for those in front
to move out of the way, and give them a chance to get out.
They could hear in the distance the shrill whistle and the voice of
the indefatigable Brown, shouting Room for Mrs. Rosewood's carriage;
Clear the way for Mrs. Fizgiggle's vehicle; Let Mrs. Funk's
establishment come up; and then Brown would disappear into the house,
and a faint echo of Brown would be heard from the inside, announcing
these visitors as Mrs. Noseblood, Mrs. Buzfiggle, and Mrs. Junk,
it being a peculiarity of Brown, that although he might get the names
of the guests right the first time, he never announced them at the door
without some ludicrous perversion.
Our friends at length attained the entrance, and, having been
interrogated by Brown as to who they were, and having told him a Turk
and a Choctaw, they were instantly ushered by that individual into
the presence of the versicolored crowd, and announced, in a voice of
thunder, as Mr. Squirt and Mr. Bucksaw.
As they had come in a carriage and were prepared for immediate
conquest, they had no overcoats or hats to dispose of, and were
consequently ushered directly into the first of the three parlors, they
held a consultation as to which was the hostess; and what the least
perilous manner of getting at her, concluded that it was not necessary
for a Turk or a Heathen to be so particular about the rules of
Christian society, and so they dispensed with the usual entering
Remington Dropper soon found that he was not the only oriental in
the room; there were four other Turks, and a great many Moguls, so that
he only made up the half dozen, but he consoled himself with the
reflection that his turban was the biggest, and that the toes of his
slippers turned up higher than any of the rest.
But beside the malignant and the turbaned Turks, there was a great
variety of other unexpected characters on exhibition in Mrs. Daylight's
apartmentskings, queens, gipsies, and highwaymen, milkmaids, who not
only couldn't milk, but probably couldn't tell a cow from a cod-fish,
peasant-girls with jewelry enough on for princesses, and princesses
with red faces and feet big enough for peasants, tambourine girls
begging for pennies which they couldn't get, and bouquet girls trying
to sell flowers from a large assortment, consisting of two geranium
leaves and a rose-bud, French grisettes, who couldn't speak French, and
Spanish noblemen, who talked most unmistakable down-east Yankee,
Highlanders with pasteboard shields and bare knees, army officers who
didn't know how to shoulder arms, sailors who couldn't tell the keel
from the jib-boom, or swear positively that the tiller wasn't the
long-boat, the Queen of Sheba in gold spectacles, robbers, brigands,
freebooters, corsairs, bandits, pirates, buccaneers, highwaymen,
fillibusters, and smugglers in such quantities, that it might be
supposed that our best society is two-thirds made up of these amiable
persons. There were three Paul Prys, four Irishmen, and thirteen
Yankees, equipped with jackknives and shingles, seven Hamlets, and
fourteen Ophelias, one Lear, two Richards, and five Shylocks, eight
Macbeths, three Fitz James, and half a dozen Rob Roys, who made a very
respectable assortment of Scotchmen; there were also twenty-one monks,
quite a regiment; this was considered strange, but the next day,
when most of the silver was missing, it was immediately surmised that
these reverend gentlemen were thieves, who had obtained surreptitious
admission, and carried off the valuables under their priestly robes.
There were also a few ladies, particular friends of the hostess, who
appeared, by permission, in no costume more ridiculous than that which
they were accustomed to wear daily, but who displayed the usual amount
of whalebone developments.
After the band arrived and was stationed in the conservatory out of
sight, an attempt was made to get up a dance. Spout introduced Dropper
to a princess of his acquaintance, and Dropper, as in duty bound, asked
her to waltz, and actually proceeded to carry out his intention.
As some sixty other couples attempted the same feat at the same
time, and as there wasn't room for any one man to dance without
stepping on the heels of his neighbor, the scene instantly assumed a
peculiar appearance. Dropper first whisked his partner against a flower
girl and upset her basket, then against a Paul Pry, and demolished his
horn spectacles, then he tumbled her into the stomach of a Falstaff and
rolled him into the window curtains, then he himself stepped on the
favorite corn of a tall Hamlet, and pushed his elbows into a Shylock
and broke his false hooked nose, and they both concluded their
gyrations by upsetting a couple of brigands, and marching deliberately
over the prostrate bodies of Helen McGregor and a matchboy in their
progress to a sofa, which they finally reached in an exhausted
condition; the lady wanted some water, which Remington started to get
but didn't come back, inasmuch as he hurt his shins by tumbling over a
chair and fell to the floor, carrying with him in his descent a fairy
in one hand and a Fitz James in the other. The crowd immediately closed
around him, so that he could not rise, and, as he was involuntarily
reposing directly upon the hot air register, he was more than half
cooked before he got rescued out.
The attempt to dance created also no small amount of confusion among
the others, about twenty-five of whom were precipitated into the
conservatory and dispersed through the orchestra. King Lear landed with
his head in a French horn, and Byron's Corsair was seen to demolish two
violins with his hands at precisely the same time he kicked both feet
through the bass drum.
Supper came at last, and the guests were fed in installments, as
many getting near the tables as could crowd into the rooms. Jellies,
creams, fruits, and the more substantial articles of the repast, were
devoured, and scattered over the carpets, and over the dresses of the
assembled multitude, in about equal quantities. Champagne corks flew,
and all the men of whatever nation, trade, or occupation represented in
that incongruous assemblage, seemed to understand perfectly well what
champagne was. Kings drank with peasants, brigands touched glasses with
monks, and Shylock the Jew took a friendly drink with her majesty the
Queen of Sheba.
After supper the smash recommenced, and things grew worse, and the
characters, by continued exertion and repeated accidents, became so
changed in appearance by the mutilation of their fancy dresses, that at
three o'clock in the morning, no one could have picked out any one of
the remaining guests and told whether he was intended for an Italian
brigand or an Irish washerwoman.
Our friends reached home about daylight, tired, draggled, disgusted,
and drunk. Neither of them undressed, but both slept on the floor in
the remains of their fancy costume, and in all their paint; they didn't
get their faces clean for ten days, but Remington Dropper had seen the
Elephant in one of his Fifth Avenue aspects, and was content.
A few days after the events recorded in the last chapter, a letter
was received at the residence of one of the compilers of these records,
Q.K. PHILANDER DOESTICKS, P.B.
The communication was signed by John Spout, and the writer, after
apologizing for communicating with a perfect stranger, stated his
reasons for so doing. It seems from the communication that Mr. Spout
was informed by a friend who was in the confidence of the United States
Marshal, that Mr. Spout and others were accustomed to meet in a room on
Broadway, and that they were strongly suspected of being engaged in the
organization of a fillibustering expedition to Nicaragua, and
furthermore, that it was the intention of the officious officials of
the United States Government to make a descent upon the premises and
arrest all who were present on the next regular meeting. Mr. Spout had
no difficulty in convincing his friend of the entire misapprehension of
the officers. But in the fullness of his modesty the worthy Higholdboy
thought that the time was not arrived when it would be prudent to
announce to the world the fact of the existence of a scientific
association, organized for the purpose of studying the Elephant.
Furthermore, he did not like to be arrested, even though he would be
acquitted, fearing that contact with stone walls might aggravate a
chronic catarrh with which he was afflicted. Under these circumstances,
he called a mass meeting of the members of the club, at his private
room, where, after a session of fourteen minutes it was unanimously
Resolved, That the Elephant Club cave in for the present,
under the pressure of strong necessity.
Resolved, That the landlord of the Club room whistle for the
arrearage of rent.
Resolved, That Q.K. Philander Doesticks, P.B., we have every
reason to believe, will fully appreciate the high character of the
objects of the Elephant Club.
Resolved, That he is hereby authorized to go to the Elephant
Club room, secure the records and such other property therein
contained, as he may desire.
Resolved, That the said Q.K. Philander Doesticks, P.B., is
further authorized to compile the said records for publication, if he
thinks the public can be induced to buy the book when it is published;
and he is further authorized to reorganize the Club in accordance with
the same principles of the old organization, and when the present
federal administration goes out of power, the present members will
again put on the scientific harness, and gladly co-operate with the
club so formed, to secure the ends desired.
In accordance with the request contained, Mr. Doesticks did go to
the premises designated, where he found said records, and a variety of
articles of furniture in a state of chronic demolition. The records he
carried awaythe furniture he did not. An examination of the documents
satisfied Doesticks that if properly compiled, and published, the work
would sell. But feeling himself incompetent to the task of preparation
unaidedthe work being of a scientific characterhe decided to call
to his assistance his friend Knight Russ Ockside. In his youth this
gentleman had the advantage of being employed in sweeping out the
medical college in Thirteenth street, and was once severely injured
when young by being hit with a medical book on the head; and these
facts it was generally conceded, in accordance with the spirit of
modern progression, entitled him to the honorary degree of M.D. The
scientific part of the work of compilation was therefore left to Dr.
Ockside, who has endeavored to do full justice to the subject.
Doesticks has reorganized the Elephant Club, and applications for
membership will be received by him at No. 70001, Narrow street.
N.B. Applicants will be particular to bring testimonials as to
No persons will be received against whom a shadow of suspicion
exists that they are of foreign birth, whilst to be a native would be a
permanent bar to their membership.