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and anon, his head fell dejectedly upon his breast. The by-standers had rushed in, to scrutinize this curious specimen of a voter; and, having cast eyes on him, could only inquire, where under heaven that fellow came from? They had never seen him before; and were struck with as much astonishment as if he had fallen suddenly from the clouds.
Your name, Sir?' inquired the inspector.
Ikey Solomons,' answered the man at his elbow.
'Let him answer to his own name,' interposed somebody.
The vote having been peremptorily challenged, it was inquired upon what grounds.
He is a non-resident.'
'Swear him in!' roared a dozen.
'I object to his being sworn,' interposed one of the board, whose countenance exhibited a rare indication of honesty; I cannot conscientiously administer an oath to a man in his situation. That is just my opinion; what is yours, Mr. Flannigan?'
Now the person to whom this appeal was made, told, by the twinkle of his eye, that he knew very well which way the vote would count. Nevertheless, he seemed gravely to consider the question for a moment, and then thoughtfully replied: ' Why, I think I've seen drunker persons take the oath.'
That may be,' interrupted the other, with some severity. Two wrongs never make a right. I ask, is he fit to take it?'
To this the former simply replied, Well, I should say he was.' The question having been put to the board, whether the oath should be administered, it was carried in the affirmative, and the voter having acquitted himself of the elective function, was carried out into an adjacent barn, and tenderly laid upon a wisp of straw.
When the two worthies already mentioned had performed this service, they started off after a sick man, who was actually unfit to leave his bed, but who had consented to go and cast his vote. He was indeed so near his end, that he might have died on the way; but in him was exhibited an illustration of that spirit which is common in a country where an equality of right prevails; where even the lowest pride themselves in having a finger in the public affairs; and where the very sick man lends his decaying force to urge on the wheels of government. He was already waiting for his conductors, and presented a most miserable aspect; his pale brow, sparsely covered with lank hair; his eyes dull and glassy; his cheek-bones high and projecting, and his person shrunk, under the influence of disease, 'into the lean and slippered pantaloon.' His wife, a squat woman, had just completed his toilet, and was pinning a red 'kerchief around his cadaverous face. I am a-fixin' him out for town-meetin',' said she, smiling very pleasantly.
'How are you, Hughson?' inquired Wild Harry, with much concern upon his countenance.
'I don't get no better!' replied the sick man, sighing dejectedly. 'I heerd you was considerable smart to-day. We had a cold snap, last night, but it's abundantly warm this forenoon, and it's beautiful weather overhead. It aint no great ways to the polls; and you know can take your time about it.'
So saying, they went out, at a snail's pace, Wild Harry flushed with health, and the sick man trembling on the verge of the grave. It was the last time that he visited the haunts of men, or looked upon the blue sky, or breathed the free air, alas! too impregnated with those coward oaths which vaunt them upon the lips of health, but which flutter and fly from the dull, cold lips of death! He performed his last public act for others, and lay down on his bed to die. He had reached the foot of life's declivity, and his feet were in the grave. On the morrow, his name would be registered in another book, and he would be removed from the jarring elements of human government, patiently to await that last ballot, where deception cannot abide God's rigid scrutiny.
A sensation was now created at the polls, by an arrival of a singular character. The county poor-house had disgorged its inmates. They had come forth from their abode of squalid misery, where noisome Disease sits crouching on the threshold, and where Starvation is ever present, but never executes its threats. Oh! it was a happy thing, that they were not quite forgotten, and that in their melancholy state there were some to think of them still! There are times and seasons, when human sympathies appear peculiarly awakened, and when the chords of affection are drawn tighter which unite us to the human family. There are times, when we feel the heart yearning toward all mankind; when austerity of manners gives place to a mild courtesy; and when the roughest hand is grasped with a most brotherly warmth. The inmates of the poor-house were no doubt brought out at this time for a change of air, lest their health should be still more impaired by continued ill-treatment, and likewise through a laudable desire that they should not be deprived of their rights. First came twelve idiots, rank and file. I say idiots, for they had usually been accounted as not having that quantum of common sense which the law requires voters to possess. But whether their faculties had been weighed in a different pair of scales, or whether they had newly acquired wisdom, there were those who not only repudiated their idiocy with indignation, but cried them up as men of considerable capacities. After them came the lame, the halt, and the blind; the paralytic, and men whose heads were continually nodding with palsy. They were a goodly company, and would have made the heart of the friend of equal rights to swell for joy. Oh! blessed freedom of elections! Hail, happy land! where liberty is only too luxurious; where the ballot is as free as air to all men; where the sick and the drunken are supported to it, in the arms of their countrymen, and not only pay nothing for this glorious privilege, but even receive a price!
Behold now a specimen of infantile voting. Two boys meet at the 'bar,' who may have passed their fourteenth year. Come, fellows, drink! drink!' said the bolder, tossing a half-dollar on the counter, which spun round for some time, and then came to a stand.
'What'll you take, Phlip?' said he.
'Gin and sugar,' answered the boy, gruffly; and he had already stretched forth his hand to seize the delicious syrup, when his father, having come unexpectedly upon him, with one fling whirled him from the counter, and with another, completely out of doors, commanding
him forthwith home, there to receive that sound chastisement which, at his age, is the best preventive for 'gin-and-sugar.' But his dare-devil companion smacked his lips, and lighting a fresh cigar, walked boldly up to the polls. His arrival was greeted with thick deprecations; but he had backers, and promptly swore in his vote. Now mark the difference. A stout lubber, whose harsh whiskers indicated that he was at least full grown, being accused to his head that he was not of age, with a sheepish air, pleaded guilty to the charge, and walked off, amid the jeers of the crowd. But stand aside, ye beardless youths and bearded men! Cease your rude tumults, for a moment, and show respect to one whose silver hairs should defend him from the jostling crowd. Behold a centenarian approaches. With firm step and erect port, he comes to assert his high prerogative. Party malice dare not assail him. Are his eyes too dim to discern the public weal, to whom earthly considerations are as nothing, and who has shed his blood like water? He has borne his part in three wars, and has upon him the scars of an hundred battles. He is the living, breathing chronicler of the old war, when France and the savage contended on the one side, and the British and colonial arms on the other. And he has seen fighting at Du Quesne, at Crown Point, and Ticonderoga; and marches through morasses, and ambuscades; and can tell how Braddock fell in the wilderness, for he despised the young provincial. And when the colonies took up arms for themselves, he first rushed to their standard and pledged himself by the first blood at Lexington. And he was at Bunker's Hill, and at Quebec, on that tempestuous morning when the brave Montgomery fell, and was borne on the filial shoulders of young Burr, who afterward fell like Lucifer from his brightness. He was at Long-Island, at Trenton, at Bennington, at Saratoga, at Brandywine, and at Germantown; and never laid down his arms, while his country had need of him. He was attached by the bonds of a bosom friendship to the great copatriots of the revolution; but how his tongue waxed eloquent, and his eye re-kindled, and his whole countenance was encircled as with a glory, at the mention of WASHINGTON! In all times and seasons, he has suffered peril, yet he stands like the brave old oak' in the forest, through whose boughs the storms of an hundred winters have swept in vain. By its side, the young sapling has become decayed at its core, and perished; and the strong tree has been rifted, and the tender shrub has been again and again consumed with fire. And generation after generation, who have feasted and danced under it, are laid in the near church-yard, yet it still renews its leaves in the summer, and bears its bright glories in autumn; and the generations yet to come shall rejoice in its refreshing shade.
Oh! with what reverence should we look upon the hoary relics of those days which were emphatically said to have tried men's souls!' Yet a few more years, and the noble order of the Cincinnati will have become extinct. For the grave, which has so long spared them, and whose avarice grasps at the young, the beautiful, and the gayesthearted, will gather in these gray hairs, which are most justly due. But the patriot's dust shall not be unhonored, though adorned only with the green sod and lowly flowers of the valley. Posterity shall mark the places where our soldiers repose, and history will not leave
unrecorded their great achievements. They have erected a monument more durable than brass, more lofty than the pyramids.
Pardon this digression. It is good to turn aside to do obeisance to the old. I might select others worthy of mention from the general mass; but while crowds of every-day men are still pressing eagerly to deposit their votes, the clear orb of the sun sinks below the horizon, and they are too late! Who can tell whether the cause of evil may not have triumphed, by such neglect? It is an ill policy to defer a work of great moment until the eleventh hour. For while the powers of evil never slumber or sleep,' the lofty interests which are continually sacrificed, bear witness to the negligence of those who let the sun go down upon their folly.
The head-quarters of the Fink party presented a scene of great turmoil, on that last evening. The feverish excitement, which had been waxing greater for three whole days, had reached its acme. The noisy crowd still lingered, waiting for the returns from the next towns; drinking, and smoking, and preluding with oaths and curses, the tremendous outburst of their anticipated triumph. But a sudden disaster occurred, which arrested their attention, and brought them to their senses, for a moment. A noted politician, who had come from a distance, and had prevailed on a great many voters to exercise their franchise by a most generous system of 'treating,' was lifted into his carriage to go home. He was satisfied with the prospects of the election, and as he durst not trust himself any longer on the ground, he merely said, 'Gee-up!' and leaning back in his seat, gave loose reins to his horse, and let him go where he pleased. He knew the habits of the animal, and was well assured that he would go directly home. Now there was a sudden bend of the road, about a hundred yards from the head-quarters, which the horse turned in a very orderly manner, but the politician undoubtedly supposing that he was going right ahead, did not adapt himself to any new motion, and was precipitated at right angles into the road, and taken up for dead. A physician happened to be somewhere on the ground, for whom a messenger was immediately despatched.
Now Dr. Philpot, who had likewise come from a distance, had been on the ground pretty much all day; and when thus professionally called, was so peculiarly drunk, that he could with difficulty totter on his two legs. He was at the bar, and had just drained a stiff glass of brandy-and-water to the dregs, which, with the usual abandonment of the tippler, he flung upon the floor, when the messenger arrived, and told him, in breathless tones, that a man had been thrown out of his wagon, and was taken up killed, and that his services were wanted immediately. Dr. Philpot received the message with a stupid stare, and said nothing: nevertheless, being violently seized by the arm, he was carried off to the patient. The man lay stretched on a cot, in a wretched room, into which a great crowd was collected, bearing with them a volume of smoke, which rolled over their heads along the blackened ceiling. A personal friend of the victim, himself very tipsy, had stripped off his coat, and with red flannel sleeves rolled up, was rubbing away for dear life, illumined in his benevolent task by the dim light of a horse-lantern. 'Make way for the doctor!' shouted the crowd; and a passage having been cleared with difficulty,
Dr. Philpot staggered up to the patient. For several minutes he said nothing, but put on that wise look which was natural to him, and appeared to be lost in deep reverie. At last, being jostled by the gaping crowd, and having a confused idea that the patient had swallowed laudanum, he gave this sage counsel and advice: 'Let it work off as it worked on!' Being violently remonstrated with, he just rallied sufficiently to say, 'Send for another doctor!' and reeled off to the bar. The crowd still hovered around, with much anxiety. 'He do n't show no signs,' said one.
'There's no life in him,' added another.
'Oh! gin him time, gin him time!' said the man in the shirt sleeves, who continued vigorously rubbing;' he'll come to; it's only the liquor a-dyin' in him.'
There was something prophetic in this remark; for the result showed that he was not permanently injured, any more than if he had been a bag of sand. He soon gave an encouraging hiccough, slept sweetly all night, ate a hearty breakfast in the morning, paid his reckoning, ordered his horse, turned the corner in safety, and, having already felt the evils of intemperance, did not drink another drop of liquor until he came to the next tavern.
Scarcely had the bustle occasioned by this accident died away, when a sulky dashed violently up to the head-quarters of the Fink party, and a courier leaped out among the expectant crowd. He had an important secret locked up in his bosom. It is impossible to describe the eager expectation which prevails at such a season, when, after one of those contests in which it is our continual fortune to be plunged, the combatants, having withdrawn from the lists, await the decision of the palm for which they have been so long engaged; for which they have pulled, and jostled, and fought, and wasted time, and labor, and honesty. I know of no occasion, when excitement is wrought up to so intense a pitch, save when the criminal, capitally tried, is called on to listen to the verdict of his judges; a verdict which restores the sweet boon of existence, or leaves him like a drowning man, to struggle at a straw.
This way, Bernard,' said a committee-man, who forthwith led the way into a room where the committee-men sat smoking their cigars, in solemn silence. The courier untied the icicled tippet from his ears. What news, Bernard?' asked the candidate, with a firm voice.' 'You're a winning horse,' said he; and immediately unbuttoned his coat, and took the majorities out of his pocket-book.
What shall I say, gentlemen?' asked a tall personage, with pencil and tablets, who had insinuated himself into the half-open door, and who turned out to be a city reporter.
Say fifty majority in the whole county,' replied the candidate. Very good, Sir;' and he was forthwith retiring, when he was called back to drink a glass of wine, which was now circulating pretty freely among the gentlemen of the committee.
No sooner were the fortunate tidings conveyed to the multitude without, than they hastened to celebrate their victory upon the spot. They seized a brass field-piece, already charged for the anticipated triumph, and dragged it, with loud huzzas, upon the green. Wild Harry lighted a match and applied it. A loud report, and bonfires