Philander Doesticks.

Doesticks: What He Says



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XXXII
Police Adventures. – Mayor Wood around

Having made myself so exceedingly useful to the party in the last election, I thought it not improbable that the party might not be indisposed to make itself useful to me afterwards. – Was undecided what office to ask for, but thought I would like to be an M. P.

I have so long admired the public usefulness of those blue-uniformed men, chained to big brass stars (as if they were members of some locomotive K. N. Lodge), who stand on the corners, borrow the morning papers of the newsboys and munch gratuitous peanuts from the apple-women's stalls, that I, too, felt a desire to serve the city by wearing a broadcloth suit, carrying a lignum-vit? club, and drawing my salary on pay-day.

I have often noticed the alacrity with which they pilot unprotected females across the street, boost them into stages, or land them, dry-shod, on the curb stone as the exigencies of the case may require – the ferocity with which they crack their whips at tardy omnibus drivers – the courage with which they attack the street-sweeping children, and small-sized apple-women, and the diligence with which they get the legs of their pantaloons dirty, endeavoring to keep the course of travel uninterrupted in the streets.

Having an innate love of courage and noble deeds, (my father was Captain in the artillery,) I could not but look with admiration upon the chivalrous manner in which four or five of them will undauntedly lay hold upon a single man, if very drunk – and the courageous valor they display in fearlessly knocking off his hat, intrepidly twisting their fingers in his neck-cloth, unshrinkingly stepping on his toes and kicking his shins, and stout-heartedly rapping his knuckles with their hard wood clubs.

Emulous to rival such doughty heroism, I made application for the situation of policeman, "Z., 785," which position had been vacated by the chief, in consequence of the late incumbent having got drunk at the corner grocery, and pawned his uniform and star to get money to bet on a rat-terrier.

There were thirty-six applicants of various nations, for the post – soon saw that Yankees stood no kind of a chance – so swore I was an Irishman, and proved my birth by carrying a hod of mortar to the top of a five story building without touching my hands – after that had more of a sight, but found I had a powerful rival in the person of a six foot Welshman, a rod and a half across the shoulders, with a fist like a pile-driver – both swore we were "dimmycrats."

They asked us what we had done to secure the election of the regular ticket.

Welshman said he had voted twice, built bonfires, carried flags, torn down the handbills of the opposite party, and that just before the time for voting was up, perceiving a crowd of our opponents about the polls, he had raised an alarm of fire and got an engine company to come tearing through the crowd and scatter them so that they couldn't get their votes in before the doors closed.

Now came my turn – told them I had got up six free fights, challenged fourteen whig voters, knocked the hats over the eyes of eight of them and changed their tickets in the confusion, thereby making them vote for Hoggs, when their bread and butter depended upon the election of Noggs.

Swore also that I had voted in eight different wards, (three times in the 46th by the aid of a red wig and a pair of false whiskers) – and also that I had associated with me in my operations, a genteel party of eleven Dutchmen, made them all swear in their votes at every place I did, and at three o'clock in the afternoon, when lager-bier had done its worst, and they were so far overcome with their patriotic exertions, that they couldn't hold their heads up, I locked them safely in a barn, so that the whigs might not find them, drown them with a sober hydrant stream, and put them through the same exercise all over again.

Told them I had finished the day by getting up a row in the office, breaking the inspector's spectacles with a brick, and slipping into the ballot-box sixty-three votes for Hoggs before he got the glass out of his eyes.

Welshman couldn't talk so fast, and so they decided that I was the best qualified, and had the strongest claims.

Got the appointment, had my uniform made, was presented with a star and a club, and entered upon the performance of my duties.

Was stationed at the corner of Maiden Lane and

Broadway, to keep the street clear – endeavored to do it – express-man's horse fell down – tried to get him up – ungrateful horse – very – turned over suddenly, threw me down – spoiled my pantaloons, and bit a long piece out of my coat collar.

Got him up at last, and while the driver was reloading his vehicle, tried to put on the gearing – never tried to harness a horse before, don't think I could do it well without practice.

Got the breeching over his eyes, the hames between his foreshoulders, buckled the belly-band round his ears, forgot the collar entirely, and hooked the traces to the fore-wheels – driver didn't seem to like my way of doing things, but at last he got every thing fixed right and passed along.

Alarm of fire – tried to keep the engines from running on the sidewalk – as a reward for trying to do my duty, got run over by two hose-carts, and a hook and ladder truck, and was knocked bodily into an ash-box by the foreman of engine 73.

Mighty torrent of opposing vehicles got jammed – stages, carts, coal-waggons, drays, hackney-coaches, two military companies with a brass-band, a four-horse hearse with a long funeral procession.

Every body very obstinate, wouldn't move – tried to disentangle them – got bewildered, made every thing worse – horses fell down, stages fell on top of them – mourners escaped with their lives – coffin didn't – hearse tipped over and pitched into a swill-cart – soldiers stuck their bayonets through the omnibus windows, ladies screamed, drivers yelled – got scared – didn't know what I was about, ordered everybody to go everywhere, put half the mourners into a Crystal Palace stage, and sent them up town, and the rest into a private coach, and sent them down town – got the coffin out of the swill-tub, and despatched it by express to the Hudson River Railroad.

Couldn't with all my exertions get the tangle unsnarled, and it was only eventually accomplished by the Captain of the Police Division, who came to my assistance, and made every thing all right in about two minutes and a half.

Was sent to a drinking saloon to take a couple of river thieves – found the place, arrested two suspicious-looking persons, got them to the Chief's office after a great deal of trouble, and then discovered that I had let the right men go, and secured only the bar-tender and one of the waiters.

Was sent with half a dozen others to capture a notorious burglar – tracked him to his house – the rest went inside to look for him, and left me to watch the garden wall to see that he didn't get out that way.

Saw a man getting over, rushed up to him, asked him who he was – said he was a stranger in the city, that the wind had blown his hat over the wall, and, having recovered it, he was just climbing back; gentlemanly-looking man – believed his story, helped him over, asked if I shouldn't brush his clothes, said he had an appointment and couldn't wait; let him go, and he disappeared round the corner just as the rest of my company came down stairs after an unsuccessful search for the burglar; asked if I'd seen anybody – told them about it – and Sergeant informed me that I'd been helping the very man to escape whom they were trying to take.

Believed him for I now discovered that he had stolen my week's salary from my pocket, and an "Albert tie" and a false collar from my neck, while I was helping him over the wall; got reprimanded by the Chief, but not discharged.

Next day saw a row; knew my duty perfectly well in this instance.

Turned down the nearest street and went into a rum-shop; man followed me in, and, as I was taking a "brandy-smash," he stepped up and asked me my name; told him none of his business; asked me again; told him if he didn't shut up I'd break his mouth.

He went off, and I returned to the field of battle and took into custody a man with his head cut open, who was lying across the curb-stone; led him to the Station House, and complained of him for breaking the peace.

Next day was summoned before the Mayor; thought I was going to receive a public compliment for doing my duty, and perhaps get promoted – have my salary raised – and presented with a medal.

Had never seen the Mayor; went into the room, and saw, sitting in the big chair, the man who had asked me the day before what my name was, whose mouth I had threatened to break, and who I now discovered was Mayor Wood.

He asked me my name; didn't say anything about breaking his mouth this time; he informed me that the city had no further occasion for my services; hadn't any thing to say; took off my star, gave up my club, and left the presence, resolved that if another man asks my name, to tell him politely,

Q. K. Philander Doesticks, P.B.

P. S. – I have just got a note, saying that my back salary will not be paid. Shall sue the city, for I know that in the fighting business I did my duty as an M. P. according to police usage from time immemorial.

What right has Mayor Wood to come in and upset ancient customs with his new-fangled notions? He may go to thunder.

XXXIII
Damphool Defunct – Place of his Exile – Description thereof – and Exit

Sorrow is upon the heart, a heavy grief upon the soul, and a great affliction in the home of me, Doesticks. My friend, the charm of my chamber, the comforter of my lonely hours, the treasure of my heart, the light of my eyes, the sunshine of my existence, the borrower of my clean shirts and my Sunday pantaloons, the permanent clothing and fancy goods debtor of my life, is no more.

My sack-cloth garment is not as yet complete, my tailor having disappointed me; but dust and ashes lie in alternate strata, undisturbed upon the head of me, Doesticks.

Weep with me, sympathizing world; bear a helping hand to lift away this heavy load of sorrowful sorrow, of woeful woe, of bitter bitterness, of agonizing agony, of wretched wretchedness, and torturing torture, which now afflicts with its direful weight the head of me, Doesticks.

I grieve, I mourn, I lament, I weep, I suffer, I pine, I droop, I sink, I despair, I writhe in agony, I feel bad.

Damphool has departed this life.

He is buried, but he is not dead; he is entombed, but he is still alive. After a metropolitan existence of a few months had partially relieved him of his rural verdure; after having seen with appreciating eyes the suburbs of a town which alone contains the entire and undivided elephant, he has voluntarily exiled himself to a stagnant village in the Western wilderness – a sleepily-ambitious little townlet, vainly, for many years, aspiring to the dignity of cityhood, but which still remains a very baby of a city, not yet (metaphorically speaking) divested of those rudimentary triangular garments peculiar to weaklings in an undeveloped state – without energy enough to cry when it is hurt, or go-aheadism sufficient to keep its nose clean.

A somnambulistic town – for in spite of all the efforts made for its glorification, it has obstinately refused to shake off its municipal drowsiness.

A very Rip Van Winkle of a town, now in the midst of its twenty years' nap, and which will arouse some time and find itself so dilapidated that its former friends won't recognize it.

A town which actualizes that ancient fable of the hare and tortoise – and, trusting in its capability of speed, has gone fast asleep at the beginning of the course, only to awake some future day to the fact that all its tortoise neighbors have passed it on the way, and it has been distanced in the race, rather than be disturbed in its comfortable snooze.

A very sepulchre of a town, into which, if a would-be voyager in the stream of earnest life be cast away and stranded, he is as much lost to the really living world, as if he were embalmed with oriental spices, and shelved away in the darkest tomb of the Pharaohs.

A town whose future greatness exists only in the imagination of its deluded habiters, whose enterprise and public spirit are as fabulous as the Ph?nix.

A town which will never be a city, save in name, until telegraphs, railroads, colleges, churches, libraries, and busy warehouses become indigenous to the soil of the Wolverines, and spring like mushrooms from the earth, without the aid of human mind to plan, or human will to urge the work, or human hand to place one single stone.

For, sooner than this dormant town shall be matured into a flourishing city by the men who now doze away their time within its sleepy limits, the dead men of Greenwood shall rise from their mossy graves and pile their marble monuments into a tradesman's market-house.

A town, where, in former days, some few short-sighted business men did congregate, who commenced great stores, hotels and warehouses, and the other tools by help of which the world does "business," but which said men, too wise to remain faithful to a place which all their toil would ever fail to permanently rouse from its persevering sleep, soon left for ever, after, by united effort, they had galvanized it into a spasmodic life, and taken advantage of its transient vitality to hastily sell their property, before its slumber should come on again. These men are now remembered by the great hotel their enterprise erected, and which is to this day unfinished, and the warehouses (now deserted, save by rats,) which they put up, and the other massive structure, the work on which was going bravely on, until the drowsy genius of the place congealed the energy of the founders, and left the unroofed walls and rotting timbers a crumbling landmark in the desolate dearth, to show where another business man was wrecked.

A rusty village which has not enterprise enough to keep its public buildings in repair, and whose very Court-house, now in the last decrepit years of a slothful life, has for years leaked dirty water on the heads of the sleepy lawyers who burrow in its dingy lower rooms; and which, in a soaking rain, could not boast a dry corner to protect the dignified caput of the supreme judge from the aqueous visitation.

A town where every one is poorer than his neighbor, and no one man is rich in this world's goods, save those few treacherous pilots, who, being charged to guide the vessels of their fellows, have placed false lights on hidden rocks, run the confiding craft to ruin, and fattened on the plunder of the wreck.

A distant and remote extreme of the hurrying world, which is so separated from the "heart of business" that no single drop of its vital life ever reaches this defunct and amputated member.

A place where the inactivity and inertia of the people infects even the animal and vegetable worlds; and the cows and pigs are too lazy to eat enough to ensure their pinguitude, but drawl about the streets, perambulating specimens of embodied animated laziness, displaying through their skins their osseous economy.

Where the very trees don't leaf out till August and the flowers are too backward to bloom till snow comes, and where the river itself, too lazy to run down hill, sometimes from sheer indolence stops flowing, to take a rest; dams itself up, and overflows the railroad.

Yet here has the late lamented Damphool resolved to bury himself, establishing thereby an undisputed title to the expressive name he bears; and I can only hope that in his exile some stray copy of this book may be wrecked within his reach, that he may come to know the present heartfelt lament of me, Doesticks.

I have ever tried, O mighty Damphool, to forgive thy faults and overlook thy frailties!

Some have said that thou wert lazy, but such have never seen thee eat.

What though thou wert foppish to a degree.

I could forgive thy Shanghae coats, thy two-acre turn-down collars and thy pantaloons so tight thou hadst to pull them on with boot-hooks; thy gorgeous cravat, with its bow projecting on either side like a silken wing; thy lemon-colored kids; thy cambric handkerchiefs, dripping with compounds to me unknown; and thy blanket shawl, which made thee resemble a half-breed Scotchman.

I could overlook the boarding-school-ism of the Miss Nancyish "Journal," filled with poetry rejected of the press, with unmeaning prose, with dyspeptic complaints of hard fortune, or bilious repinings at thy lot, and all the senseless silliness which thou didst inscribe therein.

I could endure the affected airs thou didst assume before the lady boarders, that they might think and call thee Poet; the abstracted air, the appearance of being lost in thought, and the sudden recovery of thy truant wits with a spasmodic start; the shirt-collar loose at the neck, and turned romantically down over the coat; the long hair brushed back behind thy noticeable ears, to show thy "marble forehead."

I could admire that self-appreciation of personal charms which made thee certain all the young ladies were smitten unto matrimony with thy fascinations.

How faithful wert thou in thy gastronomical affections! how constant to thy first love – fried oysters; and how attentive to the choice of thy mature judgment – boiled turkey, with celery.

How unwavering in thy economy, never parting with a dime in charity, in generosity, or in friendly gift, but only disbursing the same for a full equivalent in the wherewithal to decorate the outer man, or gratify the inner individual.

How consistent in thy devotion to music and the drama; always attending the opera or theatre whenever generous friends would buy the tickets.

What an intense appreciation hadst thou of literature, always going fast asleep over anything more substantial than the morning paper. How fashionably sincere in all thy professions of piety, attending church on Sunday, reading the responses when they could be easily found, and sleeping through the sermon with as much respectability as any Church member of them all; truly, most estimable Damphool, I shall greatly miss thy intermittent religion.

How lovely wert thou in disposition, how amiable in manners; with what an affectionate air couldst thou kick the match-boy out doors, box the ears of the little candy-girl, and tell the more sturdy apple-woman to go to the devil.

With what a charitable look couldst thou listen to the tale of the shivering beggar child, could see the bare blue feet, and view the scanty dress, while thy generous hand closed with a tighter grasp upon the cherished pennies in thy pocket.

Anatomically speaking, friend Damphool, I suppose thou hadst a heart; emotionally, not a trace of one; the feeble article which served thee in that capacity knew no more of generous thoughts and noble impulses than a Shanghae pullet knows of the opera of Norma.

Go, immerse thyself in that Western town where, like the rest who dwell therein, thy abilities will be undeveloped, thy talents will be veiled, thy energies rust out, and thou wilt become, like them, a perambulating, passive, perpetual sacrifice to the lazy gods of Sloth and Sanctity.

I shall mourn thy taper legs; I shall lament thy excruciating neck-tie; I shall weep that last coat that did so very long a tail unfold; I shall sorrow for thy unctuous hairs, and grieve for thy perfumed whiskers.

I shall look in vain for thy polished boots and jeweled hands; I shall miss thy intellectual countenance, radiant with innocent imbecility; and I shall lose my daily meditation upon the precarious frailty of those intangible legs.

But, ancient friend, when hereafter all the rustic maidens have yielded their hearts before thy captivating charms; when thy manly beauty is fully appreciated, and thy intellectual endowments acknowledged by the world, deign to cast one condescending glance downward toward thy former friend and perpetual admirer, and give one gracious thought of kind remembrance to sorrowing, disconsolate me, Doesticks.

Damphool, thou art superlative – there is none greater.

Farewell! Henceforth, friendship to me is but a name, and I survive my bereavement only to concentrate my affections upon my embryonic whiskers. I remain inconsolable, till the bell rings for dinner.



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