Nights with the
Office-Seeking has become a legitimatized branch of our every-day
business, as much so as in former times reduced gentlemen took to
keeping school or posting books. In former times, men took to politics
to give zest to a life already replete with pecuniary indulgences, as
those in the sere and yellow leaf are wont to take to religion as a
solacing comfort against things that are past, and pave the way to a
very desirable futurity. But now, politicians are of no peculiar class
or condition of citizens; the success of a champion depends not so much
upon the matter, as upon the manner, not upon the capital he may have
in real estate, bank funds or public stocks, but upon the fundamental
principle of confidence, gutta percha lungs and unmistakable
amplitude ofbrass and bravado! If any man doubts the fact, let him
look around him, and calculate the matter. Why is it that lawyers
are so particularly felicitous in running for, securing, and usurping
most of all the important or profitable offices under government?
Lungsgutta percha lungs and everlasting impudence, does it. A man
might as well try to bail out the Mississippi with a tea-spoon, or
shoot shad with a fence-rail, as to hope for a seat in Congress, merely
upon the possession of patriotic principles, or double-concentrated and
refined integrity. Why, if George Washington was a Virginia farmer
to-day, his chance for the Presidency wouldn't be a circumstance to
that of Rufus Choate's, while there is hardly a lawyer attached to the
Philadelphia bar that would not beat the old gentleman out of his top
boots in running for the Senate! But we'll cut wise saws for a
modern instance; let us attend a small caucus where incipient
Demostheneses, Ciceros, and Mark Antonies most do congregate, and see
things workin'. It is night, a ward meeting of the unterrified,
meat-axe, non-interventionhats offhit him againbutt-enders, have
called a meeting to caucus for the coming fall contest. Owing
to the inclemency of the weather, and other causes too tedious to
mention, of some eight hundred of the unterrified,
non-interventionCuban annexationWilmot proviso, compromise,
meat-axe, hats offhit him againbutt-endersonly eighty attend
the call. Of these eighty faithful, some forty odd are on the wing for
office; one at least wants to work his way up to the gubernatorial
chair, five to the Senate, ten to the Assembly, fifteen to the
mayoralty, and the balance to the custom house.
Now, before the curtain rises, little knots of the anxious
multitude are seen here and there about the corners of the adjacent
neighborhood and in the recesses of the caucus chamber, their heads
togethercaucusing on a small scale.
Flambang, who'd you think of puttin' up to-night for the Senate, in our ward? asks a cadaverous, but earnest unterrified, of a
brother in the same cause.
Well, I swan, I don't know; what do you think of Jenkins?
Jenkins? leisurely responded the first speaker; Jenkins is a
pooty good sort of a man, but he ain't known; made himself rather
unpop'ler by votin' agin that grand junction railroad to the north
pole bill, afore the Legislature, three years ago; besides he's
served two years in the Legislature, and been in the custom house two
years; talks of going to California or somewhere else, next springso
I-a, I-adon't think much of Jenkins, anyhow!
Well, then, says Flambang, there's Dr. Rhubarb; what do you think
of him? He's a sound unterrified, good man.
Aye-e-e-s, the doctor's pooty good sort of a man, but I don't
think its good policy to run doctors for office. If they are defeated
it sours their minds equal to cream of tartar; it spiles their
practice, and 'tween you and I, Flambang, if they takes a spite at a
man that didn't vote for 'em, and he gets sick, they're called in; how
easy it is for 'em to poison us!
Good gracious!you don't say so?
I don't say, of course I don't say so of Dr. Rhubarb. I only
supposed a case, replied the wily caucuser.
A case? Yes-s-s; a feller would be a case, under them
circumstances. I'm down on doctors, then, Twist; but what do you say to
Blowpipes? He's one of our best speakers
Gas! pointedly responded Twist.
Gas? Well, you voted for him last year, when he run for Congress;
you were the first man to nominate him, too!
So I was, and I voted for him, drummed for him, fifed and blowed;
that was no reason for my thinking him the best man we had for the
office. He's a demagogue, an ambitious, sly, selfish feller, as we
could skeer up; but, he was in our way, we couldn't get shut of him; I
proposed the nomination, and tried to elect him, so that we should get
him out of the way of our local affairs, and more deserving and less
pretendin' men could get a chance, don't you see? Now, Flambang, you're
the man I'm goin' in for to-night!
Me! Mr. Twist? Why, bless your soul, I don't want office!
Come, now, don't be modest. I'll lay the ground-work, you'll be
nominatedI'll not be known in ityou'll get the nominationcalled
out for a speechso be on the triggergive 'em a rouser, and you're
Poor Flambang, a modest, retiring man, peaceable proprietor of a
small shop, in which, by the force of prudence and economy, he has laid
up something, has a voice among his fellow-citizens and some influence,
but would as soon attempt to carry a blazing pine knot into a powder
magazine, or ship for a missionary to the Tongo Islands, as to run
for the Legislature and make a speech in public! Twist knows it;
he guesses shrewdly at the effect.
Why don't you run? says Flambang, after many efforts to get his
Me? Well, if you don't want to run.
Run? I would as soon think of jumping over the moon, as
running for office! answers Flambang. But I thank you, thank you
kindly, for your good intentions, for your confidence(!), Twist,
and whatever good I can do for you, I'll do, and
Twist having secured the first step to his plot, enters the
caucus chamber in deep and earnest consultation with Flambang, and
while preparations are being made to histe the rag, he is seen making
converts to his sly purposes, upon the same principle by which he
converted his modest friend, Flambang.
Who are you going in for to-night? asks another ambitious for
distinction unterrified of a brother.
Well, I don't know; it's hard to tell; good many wants to be
nominated, and good many more than will be, was the cogent reply.
That's a fact! was the equally clear response. But 'tween you and
I, PepperI'd like to get the nomination for the Senate myself!
Yes, sir; why shouldn't I? Hain't I stood by the party?
Well, and hain't I stood by it, hung by it, fastened to it?
Pepper, you have; so have I; now, I'll tell you what I'll do. You
hang by me, for the Senate, and I'll go in for you for the House.
Agreed; hang by 'em, give 'em a blast, first opening, and while you
are fifing away for me, I'll go around for you, Captain Johns.
Flammer, you going to go in for Smithers, to-night? asks another
of the party, of a confederate.
Smithers? I don't know about that; I don't think he's the right
kind of a man for mayor, any how; do you?
Well, you know he's an almighty peart chap in talkin', and I guess
he'll be elected, if he's nominated and goes around speaking; but here
he is; let's feel his pulse. After a confab of some minutes between
Flammer, Smithers, and Skyblue, things seem to be fixed to mutual
satisfaction, and something is dropped about go in for me for the
Mayoralty, I'll go in for you for the Senate, etc.
Don't let on, that I'm anxious, at all, you know, says
Smithers, to which the two allies Skyblue and Flammer respondO, of
Now the curtain rises, the meeting's organized, with as much
formality, fuss and fungus as the opening of the House of Parliament;
soon is heard the work of balloting for nominations, and soon it is
known that Twist is the man for the Senatethis calls
Twist out; he spreadsfeels overpoweredthis unexpected (!)
eventattending as a spectator, not anticipating any thing for
himselfproud of the unexpected honorhad long served as a private
in the ranks of the unterrifieddie in the front of battle, if
his friends thought proper, etc., etc. And Twist falls back, mid great
applause of the multitude, to give way to Capt. Johns, who also felt
overpowered by the unexpected rush of honor put upon him, in connecting
his name with the senatorial ticket. He was proud of being thought
capable of serving his country, etc., etc.; gave his friend Pepper a
first-rate notice. Pepper was nominated, made a speech, and so highly
piled up the agony in favor of Smithers, that Smithers was
nominatedmade a speech in favor of Skyblue and Flammer, upon the
force of which both were nominatedthe wheel within a wheel worked
elegant; and the organs next day were sublimely eloquent upon the
result of the grand caucuscandidatesunanimityetc., etc., of these
subterranean politicians. So are our great men manufactured for the