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Title: Stephen H. Branch's Alligator Vol. 1 no. 4
Author: Branch, Stephen H.
Language: English
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  LET DAD AND SON BEWARE!                                    2

  ADVENTS AND PUBLIC PLUNDERERS.                             3

  THE MAYOR AND CHARLEY.                                     6

  LIFE OF STEPHEN H. BRANCH.                                 8

  Volume I.—No. 4.]      SATURDAY, MAY 15, 1858.      [Price 2 Cents.]

                    STEPHEN H. BRANCH’S ALLIGATOR.

Let Dad and Son Beware!

Peter Cooper and Mayor Tiemann are old and sacred friends of George
W. Matsell, who are more familiar with each other than they are
with the Bible, or morning and evening prayers. Mayor Tiemann was
elected with the express condition that Matsell should be restored
to his old position, and Peter Cooper and Mayor Tiemann, and James
W. Gerard, and Ambrose C. Kingsland are at work for their lives to
effect the restoration of Matsell, and all impends on the election of
a Commissioner in place of the noble Perrit. Matsell was in the city
at the last Mayoralty election, conspiring against Wood, who saved him
from the scaffold, after we convicted him of alienage and perjury,
and the dastard and sacrilegious abjuration of his country. And at
the late election, he stabbed his benefactor down in the dust, in the
assassin’s darkness, and did not play Brutus for the public virtue, but
to consummate his restoration to an office (he had always degraded)
which was in the contract between himself and Cooper, Tiemann, Gerard,
and Kingsland, and other slavish friends. We know them all and the
rendezvous of all their kindred Diavolos, whose names would fill the
jaws of the _Alligator_. Matsell professed to enter the city from
Iowa with flags and music on the day after Tiemann’s election, but he
was in the city long before, and concealed in as dark a cavern as the
odious Cataline, while conspiring to foil the patriotic Cicero, and
consign the eternal city to a million thieves. And we now warn Cooper,
Tiemann, Gerard, and Kingsland to beware. For if they foist Matsell on
the city through the purchase of Nye or Bowen with Mayoralty, Street
Commissioner, or the pap of the Mayor’s Executive vassals, we will make
disclosures that will make them stare like affrighted cats, (Gerard _a
la_ he-cat, and the others _a la_ she-cats,) and rock the city to its
carbonic entrails. Talmadge must remain, although he annoyed his nurse
and mother when a brat, and so did we; and in boyhood and early manhood
we both had worms, and raised Sancho Panza,

  And we rambled around the town,
  And saw perhaps Miss Julia Brown,

as we may develop in the publication of our funny reminiscences;
but we are both growing old, and told our experience at the recent
revival, and asked admission as pious pilgrims, when the deacons said
that we should both be put on five year’s trial, but we begged so hard
they let us in. Talmadge joined the Presbyterians, and he looks pale
and pensive, but we joined the noisy Methodists, and look mighty
cheerful, and sing and dance, and scream like the devil in delirium
tremens, and nervous neighbors murmur at our thundering methodistic
demonstrations. Talmadge as Recorder was too kind and lenient, but he
erred on the side of humanity, which is preferable to err on the side
of a pale and icy and bloodless liver, though we should steer between
the heart and liver, and consign the culprits to the pits and gulches
of the navel, where the voracious worms could soon devour them. The
valor of Talmadge conquered the ruffians of Astor Place, and he has a
Roman and Spartan nature, and is as generous and magnanimous as Clay
or Webster, whom he loved as his own big heart. No man ever had a more
genial or sympathising bosom, than Frederick A. Talmadge. And William
Curtis Noyes married his favorite daughter, and while, the spotless
Noyes walks the velvet earth, and his father-in-law is Chief of Police,
all will go well. Wm. Curtis Noyes is one of the ablest jurists of our
country, and Washington himself had no purer, nor warmer, nor more
patriotic heart. We selected Mr. Noyes as our counsel against little
Georgy Matsell, when arraigned before the Police Commissioners, and to
his ability and fidelity are New Yorkers profoundly indebted for the
downfall of Matsell, and the worst and most formidable banditti that
ever scourged the Western Continent. Beware, then, Cooper Tiemann,
Gerard and Kingsland, and other trembling conspirators, or we will make
you howl, and open the gates of Tartarus, and set a million dogs and
devils at your heels, and when they bite, may God have mercy on your
poor old bones. Beware, or we will harrow your superannuated souls into
the realms of Pluto, where _Robert le Diable_ will grab and burn you
in liquid brimstone, through exhaustless years. Beware of those forty
pages yet behind. O, beware, we implore you, in the name of your wives
and children, and your God! Beware of Matsell and his gang, as the big
and little demons of these wicked times.

Advents and Public Plunderers.

Richard B. Connolly, the County Clerk, was born in Bandon, Ireland,
and arrived in Philadelphia twenty-five years since, (as his glib,
and slippery, and truthful tongue asseverates,) and thence immigrated
to our metropolis. He became Simeon Draper’s Friday clerk, who taught
him the politician’s creed of plunder, and has ever used him as a spy
in the democratic legions. Draper got him in the Customs, and kept
him there through several Administrations. Draper and Connolly long
controlled the Ten Governors, and do now. Draper has been in all camps,
and Connolly has figured in democratic conventions, primary and legal,
of all stripes and checks, through which he acquired the immortal name
of Slippery. Dick is an alien, and offered us between the pillars of
Plunder Hall a lucrative position in the office of County Clerk, and
also proposed to play Judas against Matsell, if we would not expose
his perjured alienage. We had three interviews, when we assured him
that we despised both treason and traitor. He then got Alderman John
Kelly to read a letter in the Board of Aldermen, declaring that he was
naturalized in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, whither we repaired,
and got certificates from the clerks, declaring that he was never
naturalized in Philadelphia, which we published in the _New York Daily
Times_. In his Aldermanic letter, he declared that his document of
naturalization was framed, which he regarded as his most valuable piece
of furniture, and cordially invited his friends and the incredulous
to call and behold its graceful decoration of his parlor. The gallant
Alderman John H. Briggs, (the Putnam of the Americans, who braved
and defied all the thieves, and murderers, and demons of hell in the
Matsell campaign,) called to see Dick’s valuable gem of furniture,
but he could not find it on the wall, nor elsewhere. We then called,
and Dick’s wife told us it was locked in a trunk, and her husband
had the key. Others called, with similar success. On his election as
County Clerk, Dick and Draper got a law enacted at Albany, giving the
County Clerk $50,000 fees, which was just so much stolen from the
people, whom the Municipal, State and National robbers will not let
live, but strive to rob them of their last crumb, and drive them into
the winter air. Public plunder is devoted to greasing the political
wheels, and burnishing, and twitching the mysterious wires, through
which the honest laborer is burdened with taxes, that mangle his
back like the last feather of the expiring camel. Connolly, Busteed,
Doane, Wetmore, Nathan, Nelson, Draper, and Weed, got the Record
Commissioners appointed, through which $550,000 have been squandered
for printing the useless County Clerk and Register’s Records, which is
the boldest robbery of modern times. We never could induce Greeley,
Bryant, Webb’s Secretary, the Halls, and others, to breathe a word
against this Dev-lin-ish plunder. And Flagg, himself, through his old
printing friends, Bowne & Hasbrouck, and others, is involved in this
record robbery up to his chin, who never uttered a syllable against
it, until we goaded him through our crimson dissection in the _Daily
Times_, and even then he only damned it with Iago praise. Since July
last, Flagg has paid more than $300,000 for Record printing, for
which, old as he is, he should be consigned to a sunless dungeon, and
rot there, with spiders only for his nurses and mourners. Last summer
Flagg told us there never was a more wicked band of robbers than the
Record Commissioners, and yet he paid them from July to December the
prodigious sum of over $300,000, and had paid them more than $200,000.
And Flagg paid this enormous sum without a murmur, and has no possible
facility to place the infamy on the scapegoat Smith, who seems to roam
at large unmolested by Flagg, who yet fears Smith’s disclosures of his
delinquency and superannuation. Flagg sputters a little in his reports,
for show, against him, but he is not chasing Smith very hotly in the
Courts, nor dare he, as we have good reason to believe. Through the
Alms House, Navy Yard, County Clerks’ Office, Record Commissioners,
metropolitan and suburban lots, and other plundering sources, Connolly
has amassed a fortune of nearly a million of dollars, and now has the
audacity to proclaim himself a candidate for Comptroller, at which the
honorable citizens of New York should rise and paralyse his infamous
effrontery. Not content with indolence all his days,—with robbing the
laborer and mechanic, and merchant, and widow, and orphan, for whom
he professes such boundless love, through his spurious and mercenary
democracy,—with corrupting the ballot box, and packing juries, to
imprison and hang us according to his caprice and public or private
interest,—with the election of Mayors and other municipal and even
State and National officers, through his fraudulent canvass of votes
as County Clerk,—and with his awful perjury in connection with his
alienage, he now appears with his stolen money bags, and proclaims
himself a candidate for Comptroller, for which he should be lashed, and
scourged, and probed to his marrow bones, through the streets of New
York, beneath the glare of the meridian sun, and the gaze and withering
scorn of every honorable and industrious citizen, whom he has robbed,
through intolerable taxation. Connolly has not voted since we exposed
his perjured alienage in 1855, when he strove to bribe us to shield him
from the odium arising from his alienage. A public thief, and perjurer,
and alien, this man or devil announces himself for Comptroller of this
mighty metropolis, with a prospect of nomination and election, unless
his throat is cut by George H. Purser, a deeper and more dangerous
public villain than Connolly. Purser has robbed this city for a quarter
of a century, and is also an unnaturalised alien, and we have positive
evidence of the fact, and he knows it. His corrupt lobby operations in
the Common Council and at Albany would make a large volume. And both
Connolly and Purser are nauseous scabs of the Democratic party, and
grossly pollute the glorious principles of Jefferson and Jackson. And
now, where, in the name of God, are the people, or is there no spirit
and integrity, and patriotism, and courage, to resist the infernal
public thieves of this vandal age? Should the people slumber when a
gang of robbers, and devils, and assassins, and fiends of rapine, are
thundering at the gates of the commercial emporium, and even at the
very doors and firesides of our sacred domestic castles, and daily and
hourly rob our coffers, and ravish our daughters, and cut our throats,
in open day, and through their hellish robbery, and taxation, drive the
mechanic and laborer, and their dear little ones, to hunger, and rags,
and madness, and crime, and to the dungeon, or scaffold, or suicide?
Where is the concert of action of Boston and Providence, and throughout
New England? And where are the pomatum villains of our aristocratic
avenues, in this solemn hour? They are in league with your Greeleys,
and Bryants, and Webbs, and Wetmores, and Drapers, and Connollys, and
Pursers, and Devlins, and Smiths, and Erbens, devising schemes to
plunder the people here, at Albany and Washington, for gilded means
to support themselves in idleness and extravagance, and to carry the
elections against the gallant Southrons, whose throats they would cut
from ear to ear, and deluge this whole land with human blood, ere they
would toil a solitary day like the honest laborer or mechanic, or
surrender a farthing of their ungodly plunder, or breathe a syllable in
favor of the eternal glory of the Union of Washington.

Stephen H. Branch’s Alligator.


The Mayor and Charley.

_Charley_—That you have wronged me doth appear in this: You have
condemned and noted the devil for taking bribes of the office holders
and contractors, wherein my letters praying on his side, because I knew
the man, were slighted off.

_Mayor_—You knew better than to pray for the devil.

_Charley_—I can get no fat meat nor oyster stews, if every devil is

_Mayor_—Let mo tell you, Charley, that you, yourself, should be
condemned for itching to sell your offices and contracts for gold to a
gang of devils.

_Charley_—I got the itch! You know that you are great Peter’s son, or,
by golly, you would not say so twice.

_Mayor_—The name of Itch or Scratch honor this corruption, and by the
Eternal, if Hickory dont hide his head at the Hermitage.


_Mayor_—Remember November,—the hides of November, O remember. Did not
great Fernando bleed for me and Peter and Edward’s sake? Who touched
his carcase, and did stab, and not for me and Peter and young Edward?
What! Shall they who struck the foremost man of all this city, but for
supporting robbers,—shall we now use our fingers, save to grab the
Mayor’s and all the Executive Departments? By all the bellonas and
doughnuts of the world, I’d rather be a hog and grow as fat as Matsell,
than to be a cadaverous crow, and live on vultures, and the shadows of
the moon.

_Charley_—Daniel: I’ll slap your chops. I’ll not stand it. You forget
yourself to pen me in. I’m a contractor, I, older in practice, and
sharper than yourself to make contracts.

_Mayor_—Go to: You are not, Charley.

_Charley_—Dam if I aint.

_Mayor_—I say you are not.

_Charley_—How dare you so excite my dander? Look out for your dimes. I
had a father, and I was a baker.

_Mayor_—Away spare man.

_Charley_—Toads and frogs! Am I Charley, or am I not. Where’s the
looking glass?

_Mayor_—Hear me, for I’m dam’d if I dont belch. Must my bowels yield
to your cholera? Shall I be frightened because the diarrhœa looks
knives and scorpions through the windows of your liver?

_Charley_—O, me. Must I stand this? O that I had a dough knife, to let
out my honest blood.

_Mayor_—This? ay, and a dam lot more. Growl till your liver bursts. Go
and tell your contractors and office-holders, how hard you have got the
diarrhœa, and make them tremble, lest you kick the bucket, and they
get fleeced. Must I gouge? Must I lick you. Or must I get between your
duck legs? By all the mush and Graham bread in the coat and boots and
belly of Horace, you shall digest all the grub and gin you have gulched
to-day, though it do split your spleen and kidneys. And henceforth I’ll
use you as a brush and ladder for Peter and Edward and myself, to sweep
the streets, and scale the gilded heights of Record Hall, at whose
prolific and teeming hive we will suck your honey like bumble bees.

_Charley_—O, where am I?

_Mayor_—In a dam tight place. You say you are a better contractor.
Prove it. Make your braggadocio true, and I’ll not grumble. There may
be better contractors than me, but dam if I believe you are, though.

_Charley_—O gingerbread! You gouge me every second, Daniel. I said an
older contractor, not a better. I know you can make better contracts
than me, in paint and oil and glass and putty, but I’m some on
ginger-nuts and doughnuts, and affy-davy’s, and street openings. Did I
say better?

_Mayor_—I dont care a dam if you did.

_Charley_—If the devil were here, you would not dare talk thus.

_Mayor_—The devil is hard by, and you fear his claws, and dare not
oppose his will.

_Charley_—Dare not?


_Charley_—What! dare not oppose the devil?

_Mayor_—What I have said, I have said.

_Charley_—If you trifle too much with my liver, dam me if I don’t kick
you, and give you a black eye.

_Mayor_—I dare you to try it. I scout your threats, Charley, for I’m
fortified so strongly through my supposed integrity, that they pass
by me like incarcerated wind, which I can resist with a penny fan,
or potato popgun. I did send to you for the legitimate keys of the
Street Commissioner, which you refused me, for I despise false keys. By
Juno, I would sell all the paint, and oil, and glass, and putty in my
factory to the city, at a good price, before I would use false keys,
or bamboozle the dear people, who think me so honest, and love me so
intensely. I sent to you for the keys of Peter and Edward, which you
denied me. Did not Charley err in that? Would I have treated Charley
so? When Daniel is so mean as to refuse the keys of Blackwell’s Island
to his Charley, be ready, Branch, with all your bombs, and dash out his
honest and tender brains.

_Charley_—I denied you not. It’s a dam lie.

_Mayor_—I swear you did.

_Charley_—I did not. I gave the keys to the Turn-key, and told him to
bring them to you. O! Daniel hath rent my liver, who should overlook my
trivial faults, and not magnify them so hugely.

_Mayor_—I do, until you exaggerate my little peccadillos.

_Charley_—Daniel hates me.

_Mayor_—I dislike your didos.

_Charley_—None but an owl could discern my tricks.

_Mayor_—An alligator would not, unless he were hungry, and Charley was
in a tree.

_Charley_—Come, Whiting, and young Conover, come, and revenge
yourselves on Charley, who is weary of this wicked world. Hooted by
the people, and braved by a Mayor, and checked like a forger, and all
his thefts detected, and found in a note-book, and recited and sung by
rote, and thrown into my very jaws—O! I could cry like a crocodile,
until my eyes were balls of blood and fire. There’s my keys, and razor,
and scissors, and here’s my yearning belly. Within, a liver, and
bladder, and frogs, and kidneys, and tripe, and sausages, tenderer than
my heart, itself, which nought but worms can ever conquer. If thou are
not a bogus Mayor, or cunning spoilsman, apply thy scissors, and pluck
them out, and appease thy insatiate palate. I, that denied thee keys,
will yield my entrails. Strike, as thou didst at poor Branch’s claim,
for I do know, that when thou didst hate him worst, thou lov’dst him
better than ever thou didst Charley.

_Mayor_—Sheathe your scissors. Be waspish when you please,—you shall
have sea-room. Be tricky when you will,—I’ll call it fun. O Charley!
You are like Father Peter, who carries lightning as a withered limb
bears fire,—who, tightly squeezed, shows a hasty flash, and straight
is coal again.

_Charley_—Hath Charley toiled, and sweat, and groaned, and grunted all
his days, to be the scoff and derision of his Daniel, when clouds and
sorrows fret him?

_Mayor_—When I derided the honest Charley, I had the dyspepsia most
horribly, with a touch of Peter’s chronic piles.

_Charley_—O ginger-snaps! Do you acknowledge so much corn? Give me
your fist.

_Mayor_—Take it, with its nails and knuckles.

_Charley_—O, Daniel!

_Mayor_—What’s the matter, Charley?

_Charley_—I hear the echo clank of a culprit’s chains, and I almost
feel the hangman’s halter round my neck. And have you not gizzard
enough to forgive me, when that rash humor which the people gave me,
makes me savage and forgetful?

_Mayor_—Yes, Charley, and henceforth, when you are over-savage with
your Daniel, and refuse the keys to gilded treasure, and strive to rob
his brother Edward, and Father Peter of a million spoils, he’ll say
that only

  Horace can deride,
  And black people chide,
  And he’ll let you slide
  Down the rapid tide
  Into the grassy dell,
  Near the borders of——
  Where the first sinners fell,
  And where contractors dwell,
  And all who truth do sell,
  So, Charley, fare thee well.

  Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857, by
  In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United
  States for the Southern District of New York.

Life of Stephen H. Branch.

With John, James, and Wesley Harper’s permission, I returned to
Providence, and went with Smith & Parmenter, who published the
“_Literary Cadet and Rhode Island Statesman_,” whose editor was the
handsome and talented Sylvester S. Southworth, now editor of the “_New
York Mercury_.” Samuel J. Smith courted Miss McBride, a beautiful
actress, who extended her hand behind her for sewing silk, when her
sister penetrated and broke a needle in the palm or rear of her hand,
and she died in two days of lockjaw. I attended her funeral, and so
piercing were her lover’s cries, and so mournful was the general scene,
that I had to join the mighty throng in the universal lamentation.
After the coffin was lowered, and the first spade of earth imparted
its thrilling reverberation, he became frantic, and leaped into the
grave, and strove to remove the lid, amid the horror of the vast
assemblage. In those early years, as now, I was extremely susceptible,
and as nature’s evening mantle was closing its sombre folds around
us,—and, as the extraordinary spectacle of the enthusiastic lover had
thrilled and chilled me to the soul, I departed for my abode, amid
the overwhelming cries of a desolate man, who soon sold his interest
in the “_Statesman_,” and published the “_News_,” which was the first
Sunday journal established in New York. I went with John Miller, of
the _Providence Journal_, with Hugh Brown, who printed the Providence
Directory—with Mr. Congdon, of New Bedford,—with Beales & Homer, of
the _Boston Gazette_,—with Mr. Eldridge, of the _Hamden Whig_, of
Springfield,—with John Russell, of the _Hartford Times_,—with Charles
King, of the _New York American_, whose publisher was D. K. Minor,—-
with Michael Burnham, of the _New York Evening Post_, whose editors
were William Cullen Bryant and William Leggett, whose fervent nature
and jovial risibles I can never forget,—with Thomas Kite, a stingy
Quaker, of Philadelphia, who would not pay me for the fat matter, and
when he became so bold as to plunder the title and two blank pages, I
pulled off his wig, and run for my life, with Tommy after me, but my
fleetness vanquished, and I kept his wig,—with Francis Preston Blair,
of the _Washington Globe_, whose publisher was Wm. Greer. I now learned
of the sudden death of Charles Manton, of Providence, whom I had most
fondly loved since rosy childhood, whose demise cast a gloom over my
heart which has never been effaced. I left Washington for Philadelphia
in 1830, and took a room with Edward Dodge, with whom I had been a
schoolmate in Providence, and who is now a distinguished banker of
Wall street, with whose recent misfortunes I strongly sympathize. I
now receive a letter from father, requesting my immediate return to
Providence, and on my arrival, he introduced me to James Fenner, the
Governor of Rhode Island, and to Gen. Edward J. Mallett, the Postmaster
of Providence, who married Gov. Fenner’s daughter. I became a clerk
in the Post-office, at $400 per annum. [Gen. Mallett’s second wife
was a widow of the affluent Haight family, of this city, and he was
the President of the St. Nicholas Bank.—He has just been appointed
by President Buchanan, Commercial Agent to Florence, where he will
probably die, as he is tottering in the bleak evening of life.] I
had borrowed money from Israel Post, of New York, before I went to
Washington, and when he learned that I was a clerk in the Post-office,
he demanded payment, and threatened to write to Gen. Mallett, if I
did not immediately cancel his claim. I wrote him that I would pay
him from my salary. He replied, that he would not wait. His letters
were exciting, and fearing he would write an extravagant letter to
Gen. Mallett, and perhaps effect my dismissal, I took the money from
the till, and inclosed it in a letter, and as I was about to seal and
mail it, Captain Bunker’s admonitions, and my father’s kindness in
procuring my clerkship, and my horror of a thief, caused me to forbear,
amid tears of joy at my victory over the demon of dishonor. Although
this transpired in the Post-office at midnight, and although I boarded
near the Post-office, which was a mile from father’s, yet I went home,
against a winter’s tempest, and aroused him from his slumber, and told
him of the horrors of my position. He stood before me in robes of
whiteness, like a Roman statue, and when I told him that I had taken
and instantly restored the money to the till, big drops rolled from
his cavern eyes in exhaustless profusion, and after pacing the room in
utter silence, he halted and said:—“Stephen, my dear son, in early
years, you were dishonest, and I feared you were so now. But your
firmness and integrity on this occasion, gladden my heart more than I
can evince in language. It is midnight, and a storm rages with terrific
fury, and I hope you will remain at home to-night, and in the morning
you shall have the means to cancel the claim of Mr. Post. Take the
lamp and retire, Stephen, and you will go to your repose with my most
fervent blessing.” And as I was about to go, with his hand upon the
latch, he gazed, and lingered, and hesitated, and advanced and embraced
me as never before, and while he kissed my forehead, his copious and
burning tears rolled down my pallid cheeks. We parted in silence, as
neither could speak. I arose early, and went to the Post-office,
and before meridian, father gave me the money, which I sent to Mr.
Post, which made me the happiest being in Providence. The students of
Brown University daily came for letters, with some of whom I formed
the warmest friendship, and I soon discovered my superficiality
through their superior intelligence, and I resolved to emerge from the
ignorance and superstition that beclouded my intellect, and made me
unhappy. I studied Greek and Latin very hard during my leisure hours,
and recited to Hartshorn, Farnsworth, and Gay, and made rapid advances.
The clerks became jealous soon after I embarked in my intellectual
enterprise, and strove to prejudice Gen. Mallett against me, assuring
him that I did not come to the office early in the morning, and let
them go to breakfast, although I hastened to the office immediately
after I closed my morning meal, and sometimes without it, to please
the clerks. They also told him that I studied during office hours, and
neglected those who called for letters. Gen. Mallett believed their
fallacious accusations, and often severely denounced me, and I left
the Post-office, with the approbation of my father, and began the
study of law with Gen. Thomas F. Carpenter, one of the most eminent
lawyers of Rhode Island, and a man of noble nature. Gen. Mallett soon
requested me to return, by direction of Gov. Fenner, who was the
constant personal and political friend of my father more than forty
years. I returned, but the clerks again conspired, and apparently
gave Mallett no peace—although I learned that Mallett himself, if
not their instigator, was, at least, their fellow conspirator, which
aroused a hundred tigers in my breast. The clerks adduced another batch
of colored charges, and Mallett belched a scathing phillippic, when I
sprang like a panther at his throat, and gently squeezed and hugged
him like a bear, until he showed his lying and vituperating tongue,
and rolled his phrenzied eyes, when he made a superhuman effort, and
eluded my nails and fingers, and fled into his private office, whither
I pursued him. My father was in the printing office of Wm. Simons on
the floor above, and hearing my blows and awful anathema of Mallett,
and scratches, and gouges, and wild cat screeches and echos, he rushed
down stairs, and into the private office of Mallett, and locked the
door, and put the key in his pocket, to conceal us from the public
gaze; and after a desperate conflict, he dragged me from Mallett, who
then seized the poker, and run behind the stove and wood and coal box.
While father held, and strove to calm me, Mallett feared I would get
loose, and suspended one leg from the window, and asked father if he
had not better leap to the ground. Father told him that he might break
his neck or legs, and that he would strive to hold me until my anger
was allayed. My eyes glared like Forrest’s in one of his terrible
revenges, and my tongue projected, and mouth foamed, and my cheeks and
lips were of deathly pallor, and I had the strength of a small panther,
and father exclaimed: “Why, Stephen, don’t you know me? I am your
father,—and won’t you recognise me, and heed my friendly counsel? It
is the familiar voice of your father that appeals for your restoration
to serenity. Do, I implore you, tranquilise your nerves, and appease
your fearful wrath, and allay your deadly fury, and gratify your aged
father, who always loved you.” I faltered and gazed around, and as my
wild and fatal eye balls rested on Mallett, he again cries out: “Judge
Branch: Don’t you really think I had better jump out of the window?”
Father said: “No, I guess not. Stephen will soon abjure his dreadful
anger, and be himself again.” He then bathed my temples, and stroked my
curly hair and fanned my fevered cheeks, and I slowly emerged from my
protracted aberration, and took a seat, and father unlocked the door,
and Mallett darted out like a cat from a dark closet, and scaled the
stairs with a solitary stride, and I returned home with father. Gov.
Fenner truly loved me, and deeply regretted the sad intelligence of
the quarrel, and on the following day insisted on my immediate return
to the Post Office, and threatened to kick Mallett and all the clerks
into the street, because they had long plotted such infamous mischief
to get me out of the office, and to effect, if possible, my earthly
ruin. I sincerely thanked the Governor for his friendly feelings, and
assured him that I could not return and dwell with happiness among
such a gang of miserable wretches, when he honored me with an elegant
donation, and expressed the warmest desire for my future welfare. Gov.
Fenner told me, in the presence of my father, that he would request
Gen. Jackson to remove his son-in-law as Post Master, if he did not
instantly hurl every clerk into the street, who had conspired against
me. But my father and myself besought the noble Governor to commit no
rashness, as it would be impossible to conduct the affairs of the Post
Office, in the sudden absence of all the experienced clerks. I then
shook the Governor’s throbbing hands, and, as we parted, I am quite
sure I saw a tear fall from his venerable and intellectual eyes, and I
know that grateful and hallowed waters fell like equator rain from my
pensive vision. I left for Andover, and entered Phillips’ Academy, in
the Greek and Latin classes, where I formed a devoted friendship with
Win. Augustus White, who was a poor youth, and a beneficiary of the
Education Society, and who is now an Episcopal minister in Maryland.
I left Andover for Boston, and caught the itch from a filthy bed at
a hotel in Washington street. I went to Cambridge, and entered the
law school of Judge Story and Professor Greenleaf. A law student from
Providence asked me to gamble, and I won about $20 in cash, and he
denounced me, because I would not gamble with him after he had lost all
he had, and owed me $50. I told him that persons seldom paid gambling
debts, and I could not stake cash against credit in a game of cards.
I also told him that I would return the $20 I had won, and give him
the $50 he owed me, if he would never ask me to gamble, when he flew
into a fearful passion, and said I grossly insulted him. He strove
to irritate me to blows, and I anticipated a scuffle, but he did not
dare strike me, as he doubtless saw fatality and a pale sepulchre in
my eyes. We had known each other nearly all our days, but dice and
cards separated us for ever, and he is in the grave. News arrived at
Cambridge of the great fire of 1835, and I went to New York, to see
my brothers, and the desolation, and proceeded to Philadelphia, but
my itch increased, and I returned with forced cars to Cambridge, and
consulted Dr. Plympton, who gave me ointment, which I applied, and the
itch suddenly disappeared, and commingled with my blood, and raised
Beelzebub with my emotions. I felt cold, and made a rousing fire, and
went to bed, and had a violent perspiration, and out popped the itch
again like a porpoise, and made me scratch so hard and incessantly,
that I could not sleep of nights, and I was in a horrible predicament,
and I got alarmed, and went to Providence, and immediately to bed, as
my physical energies were utterly exhausted, from loss of rest, and
from my eternal scratching, and off I went into a thundering snore. My
brother William arrived from New York during the night, and got into my
bed, and I slept so soundly that he vainly strove to awake me. I told
him in the morning that I had the itch, and he laughed heartily, and
I tried to join him, but I could not. He soon returned to New York,
and I to Cambridge, and in about a month, he wrote me that he had got
the itch, and asked me what he should do to cure it. I told him to
apply itch ointment externally, and to gently scratch the developments,
or they would increase like fury, or a snow ball. He then wrote me
that itch pimples had appeared between his fingers, and on the back
of his hands, and desired to know what to do to screen them, or cure
them quickly, and spare the mortification. I told him to wear gloves
or mittens constantly as I did, and to pretend that he was learning
the art of self-defence, and went to a boxing school so often that it
began to seem natural to wear gloves or mittens without cessation, or
through absence of mind. Brother Bill never troubled me again about
his itch, and I was glad, as I did not like to commune of itch, even
through correspondence with a brother, as my own itch required my
unremitting attention. The students often asked me why I scratched my
legs and back so much, and why I always had pimples in the rear of
my hands, and between my fingers, and on my knuckles, and why I wore
boxing gloves so much. I told them that I had the salt rheum that my
dear mother gave me. I went to Andover, in a sleigh, with a student
named Terry, who had a sweetheart in the suburbs of the town, with whom
he lingered until late in the evening. On our return to Cambridge, we
got lost in the woods, at midnight, and came near freezing. In our
emergence from the forest, and while sharply turning a corner of the
country road, we upset, and both were thrown with great violence, on
the uneven snow and ice. Terry fell on his prominent, though handsome
nose. The night was dark, and his hands were numb, and on applying his
fingers to his nose, he could not feel it, and thought it had frozen,
and broken, and gone, as blood flowed freely from where his nose ought
to be, and once was, and in abject despair, (for Terry dearly loved his
nose,) he exclaimed: “Branch! where are you?” “I am here.” “Well, do
come here, for the Lord’s sake.” “What’s the matter, Terry?” “Branch,
can you see my nose?” “No. It is so dark, I cannot see you. Where are
you, Terry?” “Here.” We then found each other, and he besought me,
in touching accents, to feel for his nose, and I did, and told him
that I feared his nose was gone, as I could not feel it, nor could I,
because my arms and fingers were so numb. Poor Terry wept bitterly,
while I laughed into smothered hysterics. We got into the sleigh, and
off we went towards Cambridge, with Terry moaning over the loss of his
nose, and I laughing through the disguise of a cough or sneeze. On our
arrival at his College room, I struck a match, and Terry rushed for the
glass, and lo! his mangled nose was there, gleaming and streaming with
icicles of blood, and the pale liquid of nature. He made a fire, and
bathed his wounds, and melted his nosy icicles, and jumped and hopped
and leaped with unwonted ecstacy. The previous cold and sudden heat of
Terry’s fire irritated my itch, and I wanted to scratch my pimples, but
dared not in Terry’s presence, and I put on my coat to go to my college
apartment, to bathe my body with itch ointment. But Terry wanted me to
sleep with him. He had a large feather bed, and the fire was blazing,
and I was sure I would get into a perspiration, and give him the itch
if I slept with him. So I declined. But he insisted, and locked the
room, and hid the key. What to do I did not know. I dared not tell him
I had the itch, but told him that I must go to my room, and get my
lessons for the morrow, to which he would not listen. I had not applied
ointment for fifteen hours, and I was anxious to do so that night, and
made a warm appeal to Terry to unlock the door, but he would not. He
then made some warm punch, and displayed his crackers, cheese, apples,
cake, and segars, and firmly declared that if I did not sleep with him,
he would never speak to me again. So I had to stop, and we went to bed,
when he proposed to snuggle up a little before we went to sleep, and
I had to let him do it. But the cold had made him sleepy, and he soon
turned over, and away he departed in a roaring sleep, to my infinite
delight, as the punch and crackling fire had caused my pimples to itch
horribly for two hours, and I could only slyly and gently scratch them
while he was awake. So I went at them with my long nails, which I had
cultivated for scratching, and I soon made the pimples smart and bleed
instead of itch, which afforded me the same relief that an eel obtains
in his desperate leap from the pan into the lurid coals. The college
bell aroused Terry early, but not me, as I was already aroused, not
having closed my eyes, though I pretended (out of compliment to Terry’s
nice punch and feather bed,) to have had the most delightful repose.
So we arose, and clad ourselves, and combed our hair, and brushed our
teeth, and Terry let me out, and I departed for a two hour’s communion
with itch ointment. In about three weeks, while Terry was telling a
most comical story to myself and some students in his room, he suddenly
stopped, and made a desperate grab at the calf of his left leg, which
he scratched like a cross and sick hen, in pursuit of food for her
hungry chickens, until I thought he would tear his pantaloons. Terry
scratched so hard and long that he excited one of the students, who
begun to scratch his head, and asked him if he ever discovered fleas in
his room. Terry looked indignant, and ceased scratching, and continued
his story. Presently he made a lunge for the other leg, higher up.
The students stared at Terry, and looked extremely solicitous towards
each other, and two left very suddenly. Terry closed his story, and
the other students left, leaving myself and Terry, who hauled up his
pantaloons, and exclaimed: “Why, Branch, I think I must have fleas,
for, good God, just look at my legs, they are covered with pimples,
and they itch most awfully.” I inquired if a dog had been in his room
recently, to which he negatively responded. I then said: “Perhaps you
have not got fleas, but the itch.” He instantly straightened himself,
and looking me dead in the eye, said: “Branch: If I had the itch, I
think I would commit suicide.” I replied: “That would be

  (To be continued to our last groan.)

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                         TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES:

—Obvious print and punctuation errors were corrected.

—A Table of Contents was not in the original work; one has been
 produced and added by Transcriber.

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