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Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 [1839], The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 2 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v2].
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CHAPTER XIX. The effects of speaking in public.

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It was well known in the counting room of
Marisett & Co. the next morning, that the senior
partner was to be put in nomination for a member
of Congress, and all the clerks took a very lively
interest in the matter, much livelier, indeed, than
Mr. Marisett himself did. A meeting was to be
held that evening, when the nominating committee
were to make their report; and we all agreed
to go from the counting room together. Invoices
were left unfinished, and letters were sent off without
being copied; the excitement was very great.
Even Mr. Bargin seemed to have the starch taken
out of him, as one of the clerks observed; but
Mr. Garvey's religious scruples would not allow
him to mingle in such worldly pursuits as politics;
so he attended to his duties, as usual.

As soon as it was dark, we all started off for
Masonic Hall in a body, and got there before the
doors were open. We waited with patience, until
the doors were open, and then made a rush up
the stairs, and we had the satisfaction of having
the Hall all to ourselves for nearly half an hour,

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during which time, we examined all the architectural
beauties and elaborate ornaments of that
celebrated place; and we came to the unanimous
conclusion, the reverse of a celebrated piece of
criticism, that if the architect had not taken quite
so much pains, the Hall would have been a good
deal handsomer. After the expiration of half an
hour, the people began to pour in, and very soon
the Hall was crowded to suffocation, and when no
more could get up stairs, the crowd below organized,
and appointed their own Chairman and Secretaries,
and had their own speeches. Although
I was almost dead with the heat, and choked with
dust, I was rejoiced to see the crowd; for I looked
upon it as an undoubted evidence of the popularity
of Mr. Marisett. I got jammed between two
very fat men, and I thought they would have
squeezed the breath out of my body. But I was
most annoyed by a tall man, who stood directly
in front of me, and prevented me from seeing any
of the persons on the platform. Somebody was
addressing the meeting, but the only words I
could hear were, “fellow cit-i-zens.” I had never
been at a political meeting before, and I had a
great curiosity to see and hear every thing.
There were fifty Vice Presidents, and thirty-five
Secretaries; and as they were all, as a matter of

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course, personal friends of Mr. Marisett, I was
anxious to see them; but the only portion of their
persons that I could catch a glimpse of, was the
tops of their heads, which either exhibited a tuft
of gray hair, or a smooth, glossy surface.

There was a great many speakers, and among
them Mr. Bloodbutton, who, as he promised,
made a decided hit, by introducing the revolutionary
event, with suitable embellishments.
When Mr. Marisett's name was mentioned, there
was a tremendous clapping and cheering. When
the meeting broke up, our little party from the
counting room adjourned to the bar-room below,
where we spent more than half the night in drinking
slings and cocktails, and in exchanging congratulations.
The newspapers the next morning contained
the most exciting accounts of the meeting,
and all the editors seemed to vie with each other
in praising Mr. Marisett. All the great men of
ancient and modern times had to suffer in their
reputations, for he was declared to be infinitely
superior to the best of them, and the descendant
of a revolutionary hero besides. As for his opponent,
the candidate of the opposite party, he
was a foreigner by birth, an infidel in religion, a
turncoat in politics, a bankrupt in fortune, low in
his pursuits, mean in his origin, intemperate in

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his habits, ugly in person, of inferior capacity,
and limited in his acquirements. Of course, there
could be no doubt of the issue in a contest between
two such men; and on strictly party
grounds, without any reference to the qualifications
of the candidates, it was asserted there could
be no doubt of victory; the reaction in the public
feeling was astounding.

We were all in the highest spirits at the flattering
prospects of our employers' success, for we all
loved him, and we knew that the fine things that
were said of him were all true. It was proposed
by Mr. Cornstock, the assistant book-keeper, that
we should all go to Tammany Hall the next
evening, just by way of a joke, to enjoy the desponding
looks of our opponents. The proposition
was agreed to, and when the evening came,
we all went in a body. But the opposition were
not quite so cast down as we expected to find
them. The front of the hall was brilliantly illuminated
with great flaring transparencies, and the
interior was very finely ornamented with flags;
and a live owl, to represent an eagle, was tied to
the speaker's chair. There was a great gathering;
and notwithstanding the severe articles in
the papers, the crowd appeared in fine spirits,
and were noisy as victors. They had the same

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number of vice presidents and secretaries that we
had at our meeting, and I must acknowledge I
did not see any very great difference in their appearance,
although I expected to have seen the
meanest and most contemptible looking set of fellows
in the world.

A short, thick set gentleman, with a pair of
twinkling black eyes, a smiling countenance, and
a smooth tongue, got up and addressed the meeting
in favor of their candidate, to whom he attributed
all the virtues, and asserted, with unblushing
effrontery, that he was the son of a colonel
in the continental army. Such impudence filled
me with astonishment. But, when the orator,
after exhausting all the eulogistic epithets in praising
his own candidate, fell upon Mr. Marisett,
and began to heap the foulest abuse upon him,
the blood fairly boiled in my veins. I could
scarce contain myself until he had finished speaking.
This was too bad to be endured, and I felt
myself called upon, by every principle of honor
and gratitude, to defend the character of my benefactor.

So while the people were shouting and clapping
their hands, after the speaker had sat down,
I elbowed my way up to the platform, and mounted
the steps. I took off my hat, and the mob

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greeted me with three rounds of cheers; and
then followed a deadly silence. My heart fluttered,
and I wished myself any where in the world
but where I was, when I looked round upon the
multitude of human eyes which were levelled at
me. It is nothing to make one of a crowd, but
to stand above one, and to see its thousand eyes
gazing at you, is something. But there was no
retreating. I drew a long breath, and then took
a swallow of Manhattan water, and tried to
speak; but I could say nothing more than, “fellow

The mob commiserating my confusion, encouraged
me to proceed by giving me three more
rounds of applause. I began to gain confidence,
and pronounced once more, “fellow cit-i-zens,”
took another glass of Manhattan water, and proceeded.
“I am bold in rising to address you, although
for the first time.” “Speak louder, speak
louder,” cried the mob — “because,” — “speak
louder, Bub,” said one of the vice presidents, encouragingly—
“because,” I continued, “freedom
of debate and liberty of conscience are, I am
told, among the glorious privileges for which you
do battle; and having gained them for yourselves,
you are willing to accord them to others.” Three
more rounds of applause, and cries of, “bravo!”

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“go it!” “spit it out!” &c. “Therefore I say,
I can, with confidence, stand here, and claim the
privilege of vindicating the character of a great
and good man, whose character has this night,
and on this platform, been slanderously assailed.
I need not say that I allude to that excellent gentleman,
Jonathan Marisett.”

As I concluded these words, a shout of yells,
shrieks, and hisses, broke from the mob, and made
the Hall tremble to its foundation. “Hustle him
out,” “hustle him out,” “kill the 'ristocrat.” “off
with his ruffle shirt,” “out with him,” were sounds
that rose up above the confused din. A dozen
ruffianly fellows caught hold of me at once, and I
was tossed, and kicked, and cuffed, and thrown
from one to another, over the heads of that patriotic
assemblage. Canes were levelled at me from
every side, and quids of tobacco showered above
my head like hail, and now and then a torrent of
warm tobacco juice came gushing into my eyes.
By and bye I felt myself descending the stairs,
and at last, the cool night air bnlew upon my face.
and suddenly I found myself lying in the gutter.

I was completely stunned, and frightened almost
to death; my coat was torn off, my shirt was
in tatters, and my hat and watch were gone; the
wound in my arm had started to bleeding, and I

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was covered with gore. My companions picked
me up, and put me into a hackney coach, and
drove me home.

Georgiana, hearing the noise as they took me
into the hall, came out of the parlor, and as soon
as she saw me, fainted. Mrs. Butler had me
washed and put to bed, and a physician sent for,
when it was discovered that, although I was badly
bruised, I was not dangerously hurt.

Mr. Marisett said, he was extremely mortified
at what I had done, and for the first time, since I
had been in his employ, he censured me. But as
soon as I was well enough to go out again, he
gave me a gold watch, and told me to go to his
tailor's and get measured for a suit of clothes.
Although my hurt was not dangerous, yet the
doctor said it was necessary for me to keep my
bed for a fortnight. Once more I had the happiness
of having Georgiana to sit by my bed side,
and read to me from the book she loved so well.
But still my heart was untouched, except by her
charms. How could aught beside find a lodgment
there. She completely filled up, and engrossed
all my affections; all my thoughts, hopes,
wishes, and desires, centered upon her. Even my
ambition to excel my cousin daily grew less; the

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whole strength of my soul was exhausted by love
for Georgiana.

The day of the election came round, and found
me still in bed; I was very anxious to be out, but
the doctor would not allow me to go. It was a
special election, and the interest which is usually
shared by a dozen candidates, was engrossed by
two. I was in a state of continued and feverish
excitement, until the result was known, which had
the effect of retarding my recovery. At last the
astounding news was brought to me. Mr. Marisett
was defeated by an immense majority!

The next day, the papers were full of dark
hints about bribery and corruption, and mysterious
inuendoes about contesting the election; but
the next day after, they contained not a word on
the subject, and Mr. Marisett and his virtues were
as suddenly and as completely forgotten, as
though he had never had an existence.

But Mr. Marisett did not forget his defeat, although
the public did; he was mortified and disappointed;
and the exciting passion for distinction
having taken possession of him, he could not
break away from it, and resume his quiet business

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Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 [1839], The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 2 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v2].
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