Philander Doesticks.

Doesticks: What He Says



скачать книгу бесплатно

The materials are varied – the ingredients sometimes curious – a company being sometimes composed entirely of journeymen tailors, blacksmiths' apprentices, master carpenters, clerks, porters, coalheavers, stagedrivers, candy-peddlers, pop-corn men, or those persevering individuals who roast perpetual chestnuts on the sidewalk in tin pans – fire companies, express companies, policemen, gangs of men from all kinds of mammoth shops – for wherever thirty or forty individuals work in the same house, they form themselves into a military company, and once or twice every year go to Hoboken and shoot for whiskey and other prizes.

When they want to make a full turn-out, the places of any missing members are filled by extemporaneous volunteers. It was in this capacity that I proposed to go. In these companies there are always more officers than men, more epaulettes than muskets – always a big band of music, and two darkies to carry the target. As to their marching, no two ever step together, and they always put a tall man by the side of a short one, so as to have the average length of steps come right. They go forth in the morning in high spirits, and return at night surly, dusty, discontented, dilapidated, and drunk. As the target is always carried in triumph through the streets, and afterward exhibited in the drill-room, the darkey invariably carries an auger with him, with which explosive weapon all the best shots are made. Every member has a whiskey-bottle in his cartridge-box, or a brandy-flask in his knapsack.

As a general thing, they turn their toes in, and are bandy-legged – they carry their guns over their shoulders at all conceivable angles, and so little do they know about fire-arms, that probably, if called to load their muskets in a hurry, two out of three would put their cartridges in their breeches pockets, and stick their percussion caps on the ends of their ramrods.

When they fire salute, and mean to all shoot together, the report is so near simultaneous that a stranger would think they were firing minute guns. They always select for judges of the shooting, the men who will give the most whiskey, and make the shortest speeches.

As these excursions come off just before election, the candidates for office generally pay for the prizes, and bear the expenses of a reporter for the press to puff the company. The judges carry out the rewards in the morning tied up in brown paper, and the soldiers wear them back at night, around their necks. Six or eight men, called pioneers, march in front, with muffs on their heads, leather aprons tied around their waists, and theoretical axes in their hands, which could never, by any possibility, be made to cut anything. The officers walk between the platoons, flourishing their dandy swords – their attention being pretty equally divided between keeping the men in the line, keeping the little boys out of the line, keeping their unaccustomed white cotton gloves on, and trying to keep step with the music.

In single file the men march like a flock of geese on their winding way to the mill-pond, and six or eight abreast, they go with the regularity of a crowd of school-boys, effecting a masterly but hurried retreat from somebody's melon-patch. In order to make them form a straight line, it is necessary to back them up against a brick block, or make them stand between the tracks of a railroad.

Such was the company of which I became a member for a brief eventful time. Its cognomen was "The Lager-Bier American Volunteers, and Native Empire City Shillelagh Guards," being composed of Irish, Dutch, Spaniards, and Sandwich Islanders – the only Americans in the company being the colored target-bearers, and the undersigned.

Convened in the drill-room at 8 A. M. As I was a new member, and had borrowed my uniform, I had some difficulty in putting it on – buckled my crossbelt round my neck, got my cap on wrong side before, stuck my bayonet through my coat-tail – put my cartridge-box between my shoulders, and my priming-wire where my "pompon" should have been.

Ready at length to start – crossed the ferry – disembarked – proceeded to the ground and prepared to drill.

The captain finding it impossible to get into a straight line in the usual manner, at length ingeniously overcame this geometrical difficulty by ranging us against a board fence – he then proceeded to put us through the exercise: "Shoulder arms!" Got my gun on the wrong shoulder. "Order arms!" Brought it down on the toes of my neighbor. "Shoulder arms!" again. Got it on the right shoulder this time, but in so doing knocked off the cap of the man next to me, &c. Got through the rest of the drill without any serious mishap, except that in attempting to charge my piece, I bit off the wrong end of the cartridge, and swallowed the ball – spilled the powder on the ground, and loaded the musket with the paper only.

Now came the shooting. Nigger set the target at twenty paces – four volleys and not a ball in it – moved it up to fifteen – no better luck – moved it again, one ball put in it this time by a clumsy Dutchman, who shut his eyes when he fired, and hit by mistake. Finding that shooting was no use, captain adopted the usual plan – set the target at ten paces, blindfolded the men, and each one charged on it with the auger; where the point happened to hit, he bored a hole, and the one nearest the bull's eye took the prize. I could see a little through a hole in the cloth – consequence: hit the centre and took the first prize, (a plated cake-basket with a pewter handle, bought for silver by the sagacious Committee).

As the brandy had circulated pretty freely, some of the shots were rather wild – several missed the target entirely and knocked their heads against the trees; one bored a deep hole in a sand bank, and the first lieutenant was put under arrest for attempting to tap the captain.

The man who took the second prize did not come so near the mark by an inch and a half as another man, but he had a pretty sister whom one of the judges was in love with, so he took "the spoons." Ready to go home – Muggins, one of the judges, missing. After a long search found him wrapped up in the colors, fast asleep with his head in a hog-trough – stirred him up with a musket, when he called me "Mrs. Muggins," and swore at me for pulling all the sheet over to my side.

Marched home in as good order as circumstances would allow – the darkey bearing in proud triumph the perforated target, which had so many hits near the centre, as to excite the admiration of the deluded public, which, as a general rule, in such cases, can't tell a bullet mark from an auger-hole.

XI
A new Patent Medicine Operation

As I too desire to have a mansion on the Fifth Avenue, like the Medical Worthy of Sarsaprilla memory, and wished like him to be able to build a patent medicine palace, with a private chapel under the back-stairs, and a conservatory down-cellar, I cast about me for some means whereby the requisite cash might be reputably accumulated.

I feared that the Panacea and Cure-Everything trick had been played too often, but I determined to make one big try, and I think that at last my fortune is made.

Congratulate me – I am immortalized, and I've done it myself. My name will be handed down to posterity as that of a universal benefactor. The hand which hereafter writes upon the record of Fame, the names of Ayer, Sands, Townsend, Moffat, Morrison, and Brandreth, must also inscribe, side by side with these distinguished appellations, the no less brilliant cognomen of the undying Doesticks.

Emulous of the deathly notoriety which has been acquired by the medicinal worthies just mentioned, I also resolved to achieve a name and a fortune in the same reputable and honest manner.

Bought a gallon of tar, a cake of beeswax, and a firkin of lard, and in twenty-one hours I presented to the world the first batch of "Doesticks' Patent, Self-Acting, Four-Horse Power Balsam," designed to cure all diseases of mind, body, or estate, to give strength to the weak, money to the poor, bread and butter to the hungry, boots to the barefoot, decency to blackguards, and common sense to the Know-Nothings. It acts physically, morally, mentally, psychologically, physiologically, and geologically, and it is intended to make our sublunary sphere a blissful paradise, to which Heaven itself shall be but a side-show.

I have not yet brought it to absolute perfection, but even now it acts with immense force, as you will perceive by the accompanying testimonials and records of my own individual experience. You will observe that I have not resorted to the usual manner of preparing certificates: which is, to be certain that all those intended for Eastern circulation shall seem to come from some formerly unheard-of place in the West, while those sent to the West shall be dated at some place forty miles east of sun-rise. But I send to you, as representing the western country, a certificate from an Oregon farmer.

"Dear Sir: The land composing my farm has hitherto been so poor that a Scotchman couldn't get his living off it; and so stony that we had to slice our potatoes and plant them edgeways; but, hearing of your balsam, I put some on the corner of a ten-acre lot, surrounded by a rail-fence, and in the morning I found the rocks had entirely disappeared – a neat stone wall encircled the field, and the rails were split into ovenwood and piled up symmetrically in my back yard.

Put half an ounce into the middle of a huckleberry swamp – in two days it was cleared off, planted with corn and pumpkins, and had a row of peach trees in full bloom through the middle.

As an evidence of its tremendous strength, I would state that it drew a striking likeness of my eldest daughter – drew my youngest boy out of the mill-pond – drew a blister all over his stomach – drew a load of potatoes four miles to market, and eventually drew a prize of ninety-seven dollars in the State Lottery.

And the effect upon the inhabitants hereabout has been so wonderful, that they have opened their eyes to the good of the country, and are determined to vote for a Governor who is opposed to frosts in the middle of June, and who will make a positive law against freshets, hail-storms, and the seventeen-year locusts."

There, isn't that some?

But I give one more from a member of the senior class in a western college, who, although misguided, neglected, and ignorant, is, undoubtedly, as honest and sincere as his Prussianized education will admit of.

I have corrected the orthography, and revised some grammatical inaccuracies; but, besides attending to these trifles, inserting marks of punctuation, and putting the capitals in the right places, I assure you I have made no alteration.

"Sall Harbor, June 31, 1854.

"My Dear Doctor. [You know I attended medical lectures half a winter, and once assisted in getting a crooked needle out of a baby's leg; so I understand perfectly well the theory and practice of medicine, and the Doctor is perfectly legitimate under the Prussian system.] By the incessant study required in this establishment, I had become worn down so thin that I was obliged to put on an overcoat to cast a shadow – but accidentally hearing of your Balsam, I obtained a quantity, and, in obedience to the Hom?opathic principles of this Institution, took an infinitesimal dose only; in four days I measured one hundred and eighty-two inches round the waist; could chop eleven cords of hickory wood in two hours and a half; and, on a bet, carried a yoke of oxen two miles and a quarter in my left hand, my right being tied behind me, and if any one doubts the fact, the oxen are still to be seen.

"About two weeks after this, I had the pleasure of participating in a gunpowder explosion, on which occasion my arms and legs were scattered over the village, and my mangled remains pretty equally distributed throughout the entire county.

Under these circumstances my life was despaired of, and my classmates had bought a pine coffin, and borrowed whole shirts to attend the funeral in; when the invincible power of your four horse-power balsam (which I happened to have in my vest pocket) suddenly brought together the scattered pieces of my body – collected my limbs from the rural districts – put new life into my shattered frame, and I was restored, uninjured to my friends, with a new set of double teeth.

I have preserved the label which enveloped the bottle, and have sewed it into the seat of my pantaloons, and I now bid grim death defiance, for I feel that I am henceforth unkillable, and in fact I am even now generally designated the 'Great Western Achilles.'

Yours entirely Ski Hy."

I feel that after this, I need give you no more reports of third persons, but will detail some of my own personal experience of the article.

I caused some to be applied to the Washtenaw Bank after its failure, and while the Balsam lasted the Bank redeemed its notes with specie.

The cork of one of the bottles dropped upon the head of a childless widow, and in six weeks she had a young and blooming husband.

Administered some to a hack-driver in a glass of gin and sugar, and that day he swindled but seven people, and only gave two of them bad money in change.

Gave a few drops gratis to a poor woman who was earning a precarious subsistence by making calico shirts with a one-eyed needle, and the next day she was discovered to be heir to a large fortune.

Gave some to an up-town actor, and that night he said "damned" only twenty-one times.

One of the daily papers got the next dose, and in the next edition but one there were but four editorial falsehoods, seven indecent advertisements, and two columns and a half of home-made "Foreign Correspondence."

Caused fifteen drops to be given to the low comedian of a Broadway Theatre, and that night he was positively dressed more like a man than a monkey, actually spoke some lines of the author, made only three inane attempts at puerile witticisms – only twice went out of his way to introduce some grossly indelicate line into his part, and for a wonder, lost so much of his self-conceit that for a full half-hour he did not believe himself the greatest comedian in the world.

Gave some to a news-boy, and he manufactured but three fires, a couple of murders, and one horrible rail-road accident in the next thirty minutes.

Put some on the outside of the Crystal Palace and the same day the stock went from 22 up to 44.

Our whole Empire City is entirely changed by the miraculous power of "Doesticks' Patent Self-Acting Four Horse Power Balsam." The gas is lighted on the dark nights, instead of on the moonlight evenings – there are no more highway robberies in the streets, or, if there are, the offenders, when arrested, are instantly discharged by the police magistrate. No more building materials on the sidewalks; no more midnight murders; no more Sunday rows; no more dirty streets; no more duels in Hoboken, and no more lies in the newspapers.

Broadway is swept and garnished: the M. P.'s are civil, and the boys don't steal any more dogs. In fact, so well content are we now with our City, that we feel, as the Hibernian poet so beautifully says:

 
"O, if there be an Elysium on earth,
It is this – it is this."
 

Orders for my Balsam, accompanied by the money, will be immediately attended to; otherwise not, for my partner and I have resolved to sell for cash only feeling as did Dr. Young, who appropriately and feelingly remarks —

 
"We take no notes on Time."
 

Bull Dogge says I have piled it up too strong, and that no one will believe what he calls "that humbug about the newspapers, and the preposterous nonsense concerning the Broadway Actor." I am aware that in these instances my medicine has performed a modern miracle, but the facts remain "no less true than strange."

If I fail to accumulate a "pile" in this speculation, I shall start a Know-Nothing Newspaper, run it a month, and then fail and swindle the subscribers; get an overgrown woman or a whiskered lady, and exhibit her for twenty-five cents a head, or get up a Grand Gift Enterprise, with $20,000 prizes.

XII
Running with the "Masheen."

Since the "Grate old Squwirt" made to go by steam, and imported from Cincinnati to put to the blush Metropolitan Redshirtdom, and which couldn't raise steam enough to throw water to the top of the City Hall, has proved such a signal failure, the good old-fashioned "fire-annihilators" (not Barnum's) have been more popular than ever.

The "boys" say they will take the oldest and most primitive engine in the city, man it with fourteen small-sized news-boys on a side, and, with this apparatus, will throw more water, throw it higher farther, and to more purpose than any or all the clumsy steam humbugs yet invented in Porkopolis.

Ninety-seven's boys say they can run to a fire, get their water on, extinguish the conflagration, "take-up", get home, bunk in, and snooze half an hour before the "Squwirt" could get her kindling-wood ready.

Now I am not known by the cognomen of "Mose," nor do I answer to the name of "Syskey" – neither as a general thing do I promenade the middle of Broadway with my pantaloons tucked into my boots. Still, by way of a new excitement, I lately joined the Fire Department, and connected myself with the company of Engine 97.

Bought my uniform, treated the company, took up my quarters in the bunkroom, where I slept by night in a bed occupied in the day-time by a big yellow dog. First night, went to bed with my boots on, ready for an alarm. At last it came – seized the rope with the rest of the boys; started on a run; tugged and toiled till we got her into the 11th district, four miles and a half from home; found the alarm had been caused by a barrel of shavings, and the conflagration had extinguished itself; had to drag her clear back; tired most to death; it wasn't funny at all.

Turned in; half an hour, new alarm; started again – hose 80 laid in the same alley, got our apparatus jammed on the corner; fight; 97 victorious; got our machine out, and carried off the forewheel of 80's carriage on our tongue; reached the fire; big nigger standing on the hydrant; elected myself appraiser and auctioneer; knocked him down without any bidder; took water; got our stream on the fire; fun; worked till my arms ached; let go to rest; foreman hit me over the head with a trumpet, and told me to go ahead; children in the garret; horrible situation; gallant fireman made a rush up the ladder; battled his way through the smoke – reappeared with a child in each arm, and his pocket full of teaspoons.

Old gentleman from the country; much excited; wanted to help, but didn't exactly know how; he rushed into a fourth-story bedroom; threw the mirror out of the window; frantically endeavored to hurl the dressing-table after it; seized the coal-scuttle; hurriedly put in the poker, bootjack, and a pair of worn out slippers, carried them down stairs, and deposited them in a place of safety four blocks away; came back on a run, into the parlor; took up the door-mat, wrapped up an empty decanter in it, and transported it safely into the barn of the nearest neighbor; he kept at work; by dint of heroic exertions, he at various times deposited, by piece, the entire kitchen cooking-stove in the next street, uninjured; and at last, after knocking the piano to pieces with an axe, in order to save the lock, and filling his pocket with the sofa castors, he was seen to make his final exit from the back-yard, with a length of stovepipe in each hand, the toasting fork tucked behind his ear, and two dozen muffin rings in his hat which was surmounted by a large-sized frying-pan.

During the next week there were several alarms – fire in a big block full of paupers – first man in the building; carried down stairs in my arms two helpless undressed children, thereby saving their valuable lives; on giving them to their mother, she, amid a whirlwind of thanks, imparted the gratifying intelligence that one was afflicted with the measles, and the other had the Michigan itch.

Another fire; foreman took the lead, and ran down the street, yelling like an independent devil, with a tin trumpet. Company made a grand stampede, and followed in the rear, dragging old 97 in a spasmodic gallop. Found the fire in a boarding school; dashed up a ladder; tumbled through a window; entered a bed-room; smoke so thick I couldn't see; caught up in my arms a feminine specimen in a long night-gown; got back to the window; tried to go down; ladder broke under me; stuck adhesively to the young lady; and, after unexampled exertions, deposited her safely in the next house, where I discovered that I had rescued from the devouring element the only child of the black cook!

Fire in a storehouse – went on the roof; explosion; found myself in somebody's cellar, with one leg in a soap barrel, and my hair full of fractured hen's eggs; discovered that I had been blown over a church, and had the weathercock still remaining in the rear of my demolished pantaloons.



скачать книгу бесплатно

страницы: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16