Archive for the ‘Coffeehouse Mysteries-01’ Category
Bv CapT. a. Laufman.
[That was to have been delivered at Boston, July 4th.]Mr. Editor,Citizens of Boston, South Commons, and Bunker Hill District:
I take my pen in hand to let you know that I am well, and hope these few lines will find you enjoying the same state of health, etc., etc. And, further, I wish to inform you that in anticipation of the celebration of the Fourth of July by the citizens at Boston town, I had prepared my little address for that occasion, thinking that perhaps I might be called upon by some enthusiastic individual to say a few words at that tremendous outpouring of oratory.
As no place could be found large enough for the jubilee, it had to be abandoned, and, where are we now? Is it right, Mr. Editor, and people of the outlying districts, that all the beauty, pathos and putty contained in these undelivered orations should be lost to posterity? I think not. Posterity expects a legacy of Fourth of July orations that will glitter in the nation’s diadem, and illuminate the land from the rock-bound coasts of Maine to where calm Pacific’s waters lave the golden sands of California. (Leave room here for cheers and groans.) If this neglect is allowed to prevail, the all-absorbing topic of Freedom will become a thing of the past ; the Fourth will die and be buried in the dead past along with the third and fifth, and then who can tell the difference?—not much. Excuse me, I drift—yes, drift with the tide of human sentiment back to the time when the Bay State guards dumped King George’s tea into Boston harbor, in the disguise of Indians. I mean the guard, not the tea. Boston was not disguised as an Indian either. I don’t want to make any mistakes or erroneous impressions, as this may pass into history a hundred years from now, and be found sticking in the archives of the Capitol.
So you see the necessity of accuracy. ‘Tis well known that when Columbia, like the Roman mother, is asked to display her jewels, she proudly points to the Fourth of July as the brightest and biggest, in fact I might say the larorest of the whole caboodle of cobble stones that deck the nation’s shirt collar. The reasons, my dear children, for this day being sacred to the people of this ,country, are as follows, to-wit: On that day,more than a century ago, our four-fathers (I think there were four) decided to leave the old man’s workshop and start business for themselves. Of course the old man grumbled at first, but after a few years unpleasantness, and a few men killed, and the loss of a dozen boxes or so of Oolong and Japan, he gave up, and allowed the thirteen boys to go to house keeping for themselves ; so they fished out the tea and set up the cook-stove, and have since adopted several orphans from the western district, and now have a big wigwam at Washington, and an Indian training school at West Point.
And now, children, I want you to be careful ofwho you entertain. The country is full of old veterans who would lay down their lives to establish this Fourth of July business ; you can see them on every street corner with a wooden leg and an old accordeon, and the music they make is so entrancing that you wish you had never been born, or if born, only lived a few hours. When I was a boy one of these old soldiers used to come around every summer. (I often wondered where he spent the winter.) And on rainy days would lie on the hay in the old barn and listen to his blood-curdling tales.
This connecting link between the past and the present,as he called himself, would tell of the glories of the revolution, and how sweet it was to die for one’s country. I never could see where the sweet came in. We listened to him all day, and dreamed of him all nieoht. I often wished I could have been with General Washington at Valley Forge, where the army lived on fried oysters, boiled chicken and red birds, and slept on corduroy carpet. He only missed but one good thing in his boyhood, and he has reg retted it ever since with the most resfretful kind of regret.