’Years ago, when I was a young man, Mr President, I went to a dance one night at the village of Migleyville. I got a toothache, an’ the Devil tempted me with whiskey, an’ I tuk one glass an’ then another an’ purty soon I began t’ thank I was a mighty hefty sort of a character, I did, an’ I stud on a corner an’ stumped everybody t’ fight with me, an’ bime bye an accomanodatin’ kind of a chap come along, an’ that’s all I remember O’ what happened. When I come to, my coat tails had been tore off, I’d lost one leg O’ my trousers, a bran new silver watch, tew dollars in money, an a pair O’ spectacles. When I stud up an’ tried t’ realise what hed happened I felt jes’ like a blind rooster with only one leg an’ no tail feathers.’
A roar of laughter followed these frank remarks of Mr Tupper and broke into a storm of merriment when Uncle Eb rose and said:
’Mr President, I hope you see that the misfortunes of our friend was due t’ war, an’ not to intemperance.’
Mr Tupper was unhorsed. For some minutes he stood helpless or shaking with the emotion that possessed all. Then he finished lamely and sat down.
The narrowness of the man that saw so much where there was so little in his own experience and in the trivial events of his own township was what I now recognise as most valuable to the purpose of this history. It was a narrowness that covered a multitude of people in St Lawrence county in those days.
Jed Feary was greeted with applause and then by respectful silence when he rose to speak. The fame of his verse and his learning had gone far beyond the narrow boundaries of the township in which he lived. It was the biggest thing in the county. Many a poor sinner who had gone out of Faraway to his long home got his first praise in the obituary poem by Jed Feary. These tributes were generally published in the county paper and paid for by the relatives of the deceased at the rate of a dollar a day for the time spent on them, or by a few days of board and lodging glory and consolation that was, alas! too cheap, as one might see by a glance at his forlorn figure. I shall never forget the courtly manner, so strangely in contrast with the rude deportment of other men in that place, with which he addressed the chairman and the people. The drawling dialect of the vicinity that flavoured his conversation fell from him like a mantle as he spoke and the light in his soul shone upon that little company a great light, as I now remember, that filled me with burning thoughts of the world and its mighty theatre of action. The way of my life lay clear before me, as I listened, and its days of toil and the sweet success my God has given me, although I take it humbly and hold it infinitely above my merit. I was to get learning and seek some way of expressing what was in me.
It would ill become me to try to repeat the words of this venerable seer, but he showed that intemperance was an individual sin, while war was a national evil. That one meant often the ruin of a race; the other the ruin of a family; that one was as the ocean, the other as a single drop in its waters. And he told us of the full of empires and the millions that had suffered the oppression of the conqueror and perished by the sword since Agamemnon.