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12. It was an English, not an Irish orator, who said, in the British House of Commons, "that the proposed tax on leather would be an insupportable burden to the barefooted peasantry of Ireland!" It was an English, not an Irish poet, who says;
"A painted vest prince Vortigern had on,
13. It was a French philosopher, M. Joinville, who, being prepared to observe an eclipse of the sun, at which the king was to be present, said to M. Cassini, "Shall we not wait for the king before we begin the eclipse?" It was a French gentleman, who, hearing a lady exclaim against the inhumanity of Buffon, in dissecting his own cousin, remarked; "But, my dear Madam, the man who was dissected was dead!" It was also a Frenchman, who, being asked by a young man for his only daughter in marriage, exclaimed; No, Sair; if I had fifty only daughters, I would not give you one of them."
14. Such are a few samples of genuine foreign bulls; but what story-teller, bringing them to market, and wishing to get for them the highest price, a hearty laugh,— would fail of attributing them to the Irish?
LESSON LXXIV. The Town Pump.
1. Noon, by the north clock! Noon, by the east! High noon, too, by these hot sunbeams, which fall, scarcely aslope, upon my head, and almost make the water bubble and smoke in the trough under my nose. Truly, we public characters have a tough time of it. And, among all the town officers, where is he that sustains, for a single year, the burden of such manifold duties as are imposed, in perpetuity, upon the Town Pump?
2. The title of town treasurer is rightfully mine, as guardian of the best treasure that the town has. The overseers of the poor ought to make me their chairman, since I provide bountifully for the pauper, without expense to him that pays taxes. I am at the head of the fire department, and one of
THE TOWN PUMP.
the physicians of the board of health. As a keeper of the peace, all water-drinkers will confess me equal to the constable. I perform some of the duties of the town-clerk, by promulgating public notices, when they are posted on my front.
3. To speak within bounds, I am the chief person of the municipality, and exhibit, moreover, an admirable pattern to my brother officers, by the cool, steady, upright, downright, and impartial discharge of my business, and the constancy with which I stand to my post. Summer or winter, nobody seeks me in vain; for, all day long, I am seen at the busiest corner, just above the market, stretching out my arms, to rich and poor alike; and at night, I hold a lantern over my head, both to show where I am, and keep people out of the gutters.
4. At this solitary noontide, I am cup-bearer to the parched populace, for whose benefit an iron goblet is chained to my waist. Like a dram-seller on the mall, at muster-day, I cry aloud to all and sundry, in my plainest accents, and at the very tip-top of my voice. Here it is, gentlemen! Here is the good liquor! Walk up, walk up, gentlemen, walk up, walk up! Here is the superior stuff! Here is the unadulterated ale of father Adam,- better than Cognac, Hollands, Jamaica, strong beer, or wine of any price; here it is, by the hogshead or the single glass, and not a cent to pay! Walk up, gentlemen, walk up, and help yourselves!
5. It were a pity, if all this outcry should draw no customers. Here they come. A hot day, gentlemen! Quaff, and away again, so as to keep yourselves in a nice cool sweat. You, my friend, will need another cup-full, to wash the dust out of your throat, if it be as thick there as it is on your cow-hide shoes. I see that you have trudged half a score of miles to-day, and, like a wise man, have passed by the taverns, and stopped at the running brooks and well-curbs.
6. Drink and make room for that other fellow, who seeks my aid to quench the fiery fever of last night's potations, which he drained from no cup of mine. Welcome, most rubicund Sir! You and I have been great strangers, hitherto; nor, to confess the truth, will my nose be anxious for a closer intimacy, till the fumes of your breath be a little less potent.
7. Mercy on you, man! the water absolutely hisses down your red-hot throat, and is converted quite to steam, in the
miniature Tophet which you mistake for a stomach. Fill again, and tell me, on the word of an honest toper, did you ever, in cellar, tavern, or any kind of a dram-shop, spend the price of your children's food for a swig half so delicious? Now, for the first time these ten years, you know the flavor of cold water. Good by; and, whenever you are thirsty, remember that I keep a constant supply, at the old stand.
8. Who next? O, my little friend, you are let loose from school, and come hither to scrub your blooming face, and drown the memory of certain taps of the ferule, and other schoolboy troubles, in a draught from the Town Pump. Take it, pure as the current of your young life. Take it, and may your heart and tongue never be scorched with a fiercer thirst than now!
9. There, my dear child, put down the cup, and yield your place to this elderly gentleman, who treads so tenderly over the paving stones, that I suspect he is afraid of breaking them. What! he limps by, without so much as thanking me, as if my hospitable offers were meant only for people who have no wine-cellars. Well, well, Sir, no harm done, I hope.
10. Go draw the cork, tip the decanter; but when your great toe shall set you a roaring, it will be no affair of mine. If gentlemen love the pleasant titillation of the gout, it is all one to the Town Pump. This thirsty dog, with his red tongue lolling out, does not scorn my hospitality, but stands on his hind legs, and laps eagerly out of the trough. See how lightly he capers away again! Jowler, did your worship ever have the gout?
11. Your pardon, good people! I must interrupt my stream of eloquence, and spout forth a stream of water, to replenish the trough for this teamster and his two yoke of oxen, who have come from Topsfield, or somewhere along that way. No part of my business is pleasanter than the watering of cattle. Look! how rapidly they lower the water-mark on the sides of the trough, till their capacious stomachs are moistened with a gallon or two apiece, and they can afford time to breathe it in, with sighs of calm enjoyment. Now they roll their quiet eyes around the brim of their monstrous drinking-vessel. An ox is your true toper.
12. I hold myself the grand reformer of the age. From my
THE TOWN PUMP.
spout, and such spouts as mine, must flow the stream, that shall cleanse our earth of the vast portion of its crime and anguish, which has gushed from the fiery fountains of the still. In this mighty enterprise, the cow shall be my great confederate. Milk and water!
13. The Town PUMP and the cow! Such is the glorious copartnership, that shall tear down the distilleries and brewhouses, uproot the vineyards, shatter the cider-presses, ruin the spirit trade, and, finally, monopolize the whole businessof quenching thirst. Blessed consummation! Then Poverty shall pass away from the land, finding no hovel so wretched, where her squalid form may shelter itself.
14. Then Disease, for lack of other victims, shall gnaw his own heart, and die. Then Sin, if she do not die, shall lose half her strength. Until now, the frenzy of hereditary fever has raged in the human blood, transmitted from sire to son, and rekindled, in every generation, by fresh draughts of liquid flame. When that inward fire shall be extinguished, the heat of passion cannot but grow cool, and war, the drunkenness of nations, perhaps will cease.
15. At least, there will be no war of households. The husband and wife, drinking deep of peaceful joy, a calm bliss of temperate affections shall pass hand in hand through life, and lie down, not reluctantly, at its protracted close. To them, the past will be no turmoil of mad dreams, nor the future an eternity of such moments as follow the delirium of the drunkard. Their dead faces shall express what their spirits were; and are to be, by a lingering smile of memory and hope.
16. Ahem! Dry work, this speechifying, especially to all unpractised orators. I never conceived, till now, what toil the temperance lecturers undergo for my sake. Hereafter, they shall have the business to themselves. Do, some kind Christian, pump a stroke or two, just to wet my whistle. Thank you, Sir.
17. My dear hearers, when the world shall have been regenerated, by my instrumentality, you will collect your useless vats and liquor-casks, into one great pile, and make a bonfire, in honor of the Town Pump. And when I shall have decayed, like my predecessors, then, if you revere my memory, let a marble fountain, richly sculptured, take my place upon this spot. Such monuments should be erected
everywhere, and inscribed with the names of the distinguished champions of my cause.
LESSON LXXV. Colloquial Powers of Dr. Franklin.
1. NEVER have I known such a fireside companion as he was! Great as he was, both as a statesman and a philosopher, he never shone in a light more winning than when he was seen in a domestic circle. It was once my good fortune to pass two or three weeks with him, at the house of a private gentleman, in the back part of Pennsylvania; and we were confined to the house, during the whole of that time, by the unintermitting constancy and depth of the
2. But confinement could never be felt where Franklin was an inmate. His cheerfulness and colloquial powers spread around him a perpetual spring. When I speak, however, of his colloquial powers, I do not mean to awaken any notion analogous to that which Boswell has given us, when he so frequently mentions the colloquial powers of Dr. JohnThe conversation of the latter continually reminds one of "the pomp and circumstance of glorious war."
3. It was, indeed, a perpetual contest for victory, or an arbitrary and despotic exaction of homage to his superior talents. It was strong, acute, prompt, splendid, and vociferous; as loud, strong, and sublime, as those winds which he represents as shaking the Hebrides, and rocking the old. castles that frowned upon the dark-rolling sea beneath. But one gets tired of storms, however sublime they may be, and longs for the more orderly current of nature. Of Franklin, no one ever became tired, There was no ambition of eloquence, no effort to shine, in anything which came from him. There was nothing which made any demand, either upon your allegiance or your admiration.
4. His manner was as unaffected as infancy. It was nature's self. He talked like an old patriarch; and his plainness and simplicity put you, at once, at your ease, and gave you the full and free possession, and use of all your faculties. His thoughts were of a character to shine by their own light, without any adventitious aid. They required only a