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Page 36


Dear Cousin Ephraim:—I now take my pen in hand to let
you know that I am well, hoping these few lines will find you
enjoying the same blessing. When I come down to Portland
I didn't think o' staying more than three or four days, if I
could sell my load of ax handles, and mother's cheese, and
cousin Nabby's bundle of footings; but when I got here I
found Uncle Nat was gone a freighting down to Quoddy, and
aunt Sally said as how I shouldn't stir a step home till he come
back agin, which won't be this month. So here I am, loitering
about this great town, as lazy as an ox. Ax handles
don't fetch nothing; I couldn't hardly give 'em away. Tell
Cousin Nabby I sold her footings for nine-pence a pair,
and took it all in cotton cloth. Mother's cheese come to
seven-and-sixpence; I got her half a pound of shushon,


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and two ounces of snuff, and the rest in sugar. When
Uncle Nat comes home I shall put my ax handles aboard
of him, and let him take 'em to Boston next time he goes;
I saw a feller tother day, that told me they'd fetch a good
price there. I've been here now a whole fortnight, and
if I could tell ye one half I've seen, I guess you'd stare worse
than if you'd seen a catamount. I've been to meeting, and to
the museum, and to both Legislaters, the one they call the
House, and the one they call the Sinnet. I spose Uncle
Joshua is in a great hurry to hear something about these
Legislaters; for you know he's always reading newspapers,
and talking politics, when he can get anybody to talk with
him. I've seen him when he had five tons of hay in the field
well made, and a heavy shower coming up, stand two hours
disputing with Squire W. about Adams and Jackson—one
calling Adams a tory and a fed, and the other saying Jackson
was a murderer and a fool; so they kept it up, till the rain
began to pour down, and about spoilt all his hay.

Uncle Joshua may set his heart at rest about the bushel of
corn that he bet 'long with the postmaster, that Mr. Ruggles
would be Speaker of that Legislater they call the House; for
he's lost it, slick as a whistle. As I hadn't much to do, I've


Page 38
been there every day since they've been a setting. A Mr. White,
of Monmouth, was the Speaker the first two days; and I can't
see why they didn't keep him in all the time; for he seemed
to be a very clever, good-natured sort of man, and he had
such a smooth, pleasant way with him, that I couldn't help
feeling sorry when they turned him out and put in another.
But some said he wasn't put in hardly fair; and I don't know
as he was, for the first day, when they were all coming in and
crowding round, there was a large, fat man, with a round,
full, jolly sort of a face, I suppose he was the captain, for he
got up and commanded them to come to order, and then he told
this Mr. White to whip into the chair quicker than you could
say Jack Robinson. Some of 'em scolded about it, and I
heard some, in a little room they called the lobby, say 'twas a
mean trick; but I couldn't see why, for I thought Mr. White
made a capital Speaker, and when our company turns out, the
cap'n always has a right to do as he's a mind to.

They kept disputing most all the time the first two days
about a poor Mr. Roberts, from Waterborough. Some said
he should n't have a seat because he adjourned the town meeting
and wasn't fairly elected. Others said it was no such
thing, and that he was elected as fairly as any of 'em. And
Mr. Roberts himself said he was, and said he could bring men
that would swear to it, and good men too. But, notwithstanding
all this, when they came to vote, they got three or four
majority that he should'nt have a seat. And I thought it a
needless piece of cruelty, for they wan't crowded, and there
was a number of seats empty. But they would have it so,
and the poor man had to go and stand up in the lobby.

Then they disputed awhile about a Mr. Fowler's having a


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seat. Some said he shouldn't have a seat, because when he
was elected some of his votes were given for his father. But
they were more kind to him than they were to Mr Roberts,
for they voted that he should have a seat; and I suppose it
was because they thought he had a lawful right to inherit
whatever was his father's. They all declared there was no
party politics about it, and I don't think there was; for I noticed
that all who voted that Mr. Roberts should have a seat,
voted that Mr. Fowler should not; and all who voted that Mr.
Roberts should not have a seat, voted that Mr. Fowler should.
So, as they all voted both ways, they must have been consciencious,
and I don't see how there could be any party about it.

It's a pity they couldn't be allowed to have two Speakers,
for they seemed to be very anxious to choose Mr. Ruggles
and Mr. Goodenow. They two had every vote except one,
and if they had had that, I believe they would both have
been chosen; as it was, however, they both came within a
humbird's eye of it. Whether it was Mr. Ruggles voted for
Mr. Goodenow, or Mr. Goodenow for Mr. Ruggles, I can't exactly
tell; but I rather guess it was Mr. Ruggles voted for
Mr. Goodenow, for he appeared to be very glad to see Mr.
Goodenow in the chair, and shook hands with him as good-natured
as could be. I would have given half my load of ax
handles, if they could both have been elected and set up there
together, they would have been so happy. But as they can't
have but one Speaker at a time, and as Mr. Goodenow appears
to understand the business very well, it is not likely
Mr. Ruggles will be Speaker any this winter. So Uncle
Joshua will have to shell out his bushel of corn, and I hope it
will learn him better than to bet about politics again. Before


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I came from home, some of the papers said how there was a
majority of ten or fifteen National Republicans in the Legislater,
and the other party said there was a pretty clever little
majority of Democratic Republicans. Well, now everybody
says it has turned out jest as that queer little paper, called
the Daily Courier, said 'twould. That paper said it was such
a close rub it couldn't hardly tell which side would beat.
And it's jest so, for they've been here now most a fortnight
acting jest like two boys playing see-saw on a rail. First one
goes up, and then 'tother; but I reckon one of the boys is
rather heaviest, for once in a while he comes down chuck, and
throws the other up into the air as though he would pitch him
head over heels. Your loving cousin till death.


Editorial Note.—The political struggle in the Legislature of Maine in
the winter of 1830 will long be remembered. The preceding electioneering
campaign had been carried on with a bitterness and personality unprecedented
in the State, and so nearly were the parties divided, that before the meeting
of the Legislature to count the votes for Governor, both sides confidently
claimed the victory. Hence the members came together with feelings
highly excited, prepared to dispute every inch of ground, and ready to take
fire at the first spark which collision might produce. A fierce war commenced
at the first moment of the meeting, and continued for about six weeks without
intermission, before they succeeded in organizing the government. It was during
this state of things that Mr. Downing fortunately happened to drop into
the Legislature. In explanation of the first letter, it may be remarked, that
as soon as the Representatives had assembled, Albert Smith, Esq., of Nobleborough,
the then Marshal of Maine, called them to order, and nominated
Mr. White, of Monmouth, Chairman, who was declared elected without ceremony,
and took the chair. After he had occupied it two days Mr. Goodenow
was elected Speaker.