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Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 [1839], The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 1 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v1].
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CHAPTER IX. Getting into a Newspaper.

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In the course of my limited reading, I had met
with accounts of men who had become famous by
accident, and gained an immortality without having
labored for it; but, I had never, in my wildest
dreams, imagined that such a lot would be mine.
I did, indeed, indulge in the pleasing hope of
achieving fame and fortune, but I did not expect
to have notoriety thrust upon me at the very commencement
of my adventures.

The morning after my visit to the Theatre, I
was sitting in the bar room of the hotel, reading
the morning papers, when I was startled at seeing
my own name in print. The sensations which I
experienced on the occasion, can be imagined by
those who have found themselves unexpectedly in
a newspaper. I was seized with such a fit of
trembling, that it was some time before I could
gather my senses sufficiently together to enable
me to read the following article, which fully accounted
for the mark of distinction which had
been bestowed upon me.

Serious Affair.—We have been at great pains

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to gather the particulars of the late disgraceful
outrage at the City Hotel, knowing the anxiety
of the public mind in relation to this event, and
feeling the full weight of the responsibility which
rests upon our shoulders, as public journalists, to
furnish our subscribers,—who, we are proud to say,
are daily increasing, having added more than two
thousand to our lists within the last week, which
we happen to know, is more than the entire subscription
of any of our cotemporaries,—with the
latest and most correct in formation.

“Now we distinctly charge, that our contemporary,
with whose vile name we will not soil our
columns, has presented his readers(?) with a garbled
and incorrect statement of the transaction
alluded to, notwithstanding he knew we were in
possession of the entire particulars of the affair,
which we had obtained at a great expense, and
with vast trouble. However, we feel ourselves
touched in a very tender point, and we shall condescend
to hold the wretch personally accountable;
and were it not beneath the character of a gentleman
to bandy terms of abuse with a blackguard,
we should call him an ingrained villain, a brute
dyed in the wool, a dirty contemptible creature
who could not speak the truth, though it were for
his interest to do so, and who never does stumble

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upon it, unless he surreptitiously filches it from our
columns; but we will not make use of the homely
phrases of our vernacular; we forbear; we have
no wish to take the bread out of innocent lips.
We understand our contemporary has an interesting
family dependent upon him; but how he came
by anything interesting, is to us a matter of astonishment,
and, indeed, we doubt the fact. We leave
the creature to work his own ruin, and hasten to
lay the particulars of this gross outrage before
our numerous readers, premising, merely, that a
paper is left at our office for signatures, requesting
the Mayor to call a meeting of our fellow citizens
to express their feelings on the subject.

“One of those pestiferous vermin, a travelling
abolitionist, by the name of Franco, had the unparalleled
audacity to enter the City Hotel
yesterday, and endeavor, by his damnable arts, to
entice away the faithful slave of the Honorable
Sylvanus Spliteer, the chivalric orator of the
South, who being at his dinner, and having just
finished a plate of oxtail soup, a delicacy than
which none know better how to concoct than the
worthy hosts of the City, and having taken a decanter
of sherry in his hand for the purpose of
taking wine with a distinguished Senator, and
perceiving an attempt made by the at olitionist to

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force an incendiary pamphlet into the hands of his
honest negro, with that promptness peculiar to
southern climes, and with that indignant energy
with which the chivalry of the South defend their
rights, jumped from his seat, and, with unerring
aim, hurled the decanter at the head of the fanatic.
But unfortunately the decanter was shivered to
pieces instead of the head, and the shrivelled creature
got his hide well soaked with good wine, a
piece of good luck which, we will venture to assert,
never befel one of the fraternity before. We regret
to add, that Franco was allowed to escape
without farther chastisement.

“Now we sincerely deprecate any attempt at
violence or an infringement of the peculiar privileges
of the law, but there are cases, which of necessity
must occur, which call upon the high-souled
and the chivalrous to take the law into their own
hands, and inflict summary punishment. This
may be one of those cases; we do not say it is, and
therefore if any violence should be committed, let
no one lay the blame at our door. We have not
recommended a coat of tar and feathers, neither
have we made any allusions to the salutary effects
of a ride upon a rail.

“Franco's first name, we gather from the books
of the Hotel, is Harry; he is a youngish person,

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apparently not more than twenty-one, of a fair
complexion, light blue eyes, and chestnut hair. His
clothes are healthy in their appearance, that is,
they appear never to have suffered from a fit of
any kind.”

Having always believed implicitly every thing
which I saw in print, I could hardly persuade myself
that I had not been guilty of the outrage of
which I saw myself accused. I felt all the shame,
at least, of a real culprit, and hung down my head
and pulled my hat over my eyes for fear of meeting
the scornful glances of the men who were moving
about me. I was terrified beyond measure at the
allusion to the coat of tar and feathers, and a ride
upon a rail. The prophecy of my haughty cousin
flashed across my mind, and now, I thought,
the time of its fulfilment had come. The unfeeling
allusion to my clothes filled me with indignation;
for my mother had exhausted her skill, and
her strength too, in making them, and I thought they
fitted me to a hair. I sat in a corner of the bar-room,
with apprehension, trembling and expecting every
moment that violent men would lay their hands
upon me, when I heard the voice of Mr. Spliteer
himself in the bar-room. I rose up, and with tears
in my eyes, showed him the paper, and begged him
to screen me from the threatened violence. He

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read the article, and laughed heartily at it, which
I thought showed a great want of feeling in him;
but he could well afford to do so, for he got a
good deal of praise at my expense.

“Don't be alarmed, young man,” he said, “abuse
and misrepresentation are the unavoidable penalties
of newspaper notoriety. I have had a heap of
it in my day, I can assure you, and I care nothing
for it now; but I must confess it did grind me
at first no ways slow. As for tar and feathers, and
a ride upon a rail, dont care a fig about them;
there's not a bit of danger; nobody cares any
thing about a newspaper, for although there is
nothing which men read more eagerly, there is
nothing which they heed so little, not even their
Bibles. However, to make all sure, I will take it
upon myself to see the Editor, who is a personal,
as well as a political friend of mine, and to-morrow
you shall see that he will contradict every
word he has said to-day in relation to you. And
now, do me the favor to drink a julep with me,
and you will feel better, I dare say.”

I thanked the honorable Mr. Spliteer for his
kindness, for I did not know how to refuse,
and I had, moreover, a curiosity to know
what a julep was. He gave the necessary orders
to the bar-keeper; and after a great display of

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nutmeg graters and muddling sticks, and of sousing
and flourishing of tumblers by the latter gentleman,
the juleps were mixed; and the honorable
Mr. Spliteer himself reached me one of them, for
it would have been quite beneath the dignity of
the bar-keeper to have stooped so far below his
proper level as to have acted in the capacity of a
waiter. What the ingredients were of which the
juleps were composed I could form no idea; there
was a bunch of green mint in the tumbler, topped
off with a cap of snow, and a slender glass tube
was stuck in the middle. As I had never seen a julep
before, I watched the motions of the orator before
I touched the glass; he drew his tumbler up to him
and applied his mouth to the tube, and I did the

“Are you fond of juleps?” he asked, taking
a long breath.

“Very,” I replied, for I found it very palatable.

“So am I,” said Mr. Spliteer, “I like them
because they are so wholesome.”

“Are juleps healthy, then?” I inquired.

“Very,” he said, drawing another long breath.
My father drank so many juleps, that when he
died the mint sprouted up all over his grave, and
one of these days you will see it growing on

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“I hope not,” I replied.

“Do you, indeed,” said the chivalrous orator,
“why so?”

“Because,” I answered, “I hope you will never

“Good, good,” he exclaimed, apparently highly
delighted, “right good, considering you tried
only yesterday to break my head with a decanter.”

“You must expect when you take wine, that it
will get into your head,” I replied.

“So I do,” he said, “but not through my
skull.” And then he laughed very heartily, and
I laughed too, and said a thousand other foolish
things. Having sucked the last drop out of our
tumblers, Mr. Spliteer ordered two more juleps,
and told the bar-keeper to make them stiff.

I have not a very clear recollection of what occurred
after drinking the second julep, neither do
I remember exactly how many I did drink; but I
know I felt very valiant and very witty, and that
I threw a tumbler at the head of the bar-keeper,
and told the honorable Mr. Spliteer that he looked
like a bilious baboon. And, I was afterwards
told, that I soon grew stupid and sleepy, and was
taken up into my chamber, and put to bed by some
of the waiters.

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Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 [1839], The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 1 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v1].
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