ON THE POLITICAL STUMP.
I had always been somewhat prominent in politics, being President of the Republican Club in our town, and that autumn I was hired by Dr. George B. Loring to conduct his campaign for the position of Representative in Congress; this I accomplished so successfully that Judge Thayer, the chairman of the State Committee, hired me to stump the Commonwealth against General Butler and in favor of the Hon. George D. Robinson as candidate for Governor. This campaign will long be remembered as being the most fiercely contested of any in the political history of Massachusetts, and many incidents in my career as a public speaker are much pleasanter in the reminiscence than in the endurance. One will suffice by way of illustration.
Free speech was not tolerated by our frantic greenback opponents, and stale eggs with decayed cabbages hurled at the heads of Republican orators were the strongest arguments used by the General’s admirers to combat our appeals for protective tariff and sound money. At a meeting of our state committee in Boston, Judge Thayer announced that General Hall of Maine, one of our most brilliant speakers, could not reach Rockport, where he was billed to hold forth, before ten o’clock that evening, and called for volunteers to hold the audience for two hours. Rockport was almost solid for Butler, and his friends had declared that no Republican should speak there, consequently no one volunteered. At last, the Judge, in despair, said:
“Foss, will you go?”
“I shall obey orders,” was my reply, amid cheers of the much-relieved shirkers, and I bolted for the train.
On arriving at my destination, I found the station crowded with a howling mob, and the Republican town committee were frantically shouting: “General Hall, General Hall!” “Here,” said I, and only by the vigorous aid of the clubs of the police was I hustled through the embattled hosts to a hack, which took me to the hall where I walked on the shoulders of a friendly uniformed club to the platform, which I finally reached with torn apparel and in a condition of almost physical and mental collapse.
The “hail to the chief,” by the band was drowned by the cat-calls: “Put him out!”—“Duck him!”—“Ride him on a rail!” etc., etc., Yells of the Butlerites who had packed the hall. At last I got my “mad up,” and rising, I lighted a cigar, puffed vigorously, and smiled upon my uproarious foes. This astonished the “great unwashed,” and a big Irishman jumped on the stage, shouting:
“Shut up, shut up, byes! Let’s hear what the cuss has to say; he’s a cool un.”
There was silence. Taking out my cigar, I laughed long and loud.
“What you laughing at?” howled the mob.
“This reminds me,” said I, very slowly, “of a little story.”
“Out with it,” was the response.