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Page 152


Dear Uncle Joshua:—There's terrible times here again, and
I'm half afraid it's going to be worse than it was last winter.
The Legislater's been all in the wind this two or three days,
pulling and hauling and fighting like smoke. The wheels of
Government are all stopt; I can't say as they are trigged, as
they used to be lYst winter, but they are fairly stopped, because
nobody don't pull 'em along; for when the members are


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all pulling each other's caps, how can they pull the wheels of
Government? My heart's been up in my mouth a dozen times
for fear the State would go to ruin before I could get out of
it; and I've scratched round and picked up what few bean-poles
and ax-handles I had left, and got all ready to set sail
to Boston, for I'm determined to be off before the State goes to
rack. And I advise you and all our friends at Downingville
to pack up as soon as you get this letter, and be all ready as
soon as you hear a cracking down this way to fly for your
lives away back into New-Hampshire or Vermont. The
trouble, as near as I could understand it, begun in this way:
The Jacksonites said the Huntonites worked so hard last winter
in trying to trig the wheels of Government, and tear the
Constitution to pieces, that they made themselves all sick,
dreadful sick, and hadn't got well yet; and it was time to do
something to try to cure 'em; for their sickness was so catching
that all the State would be taken down with it in a little
while, if they want cured.

But the Huntonite said they want sick abit; they never
was better in their lives; and moreover, it was false that they
had tried to trig the wheels of Government last winter; or tear
a single leaf out of the Constitution; if anything of that kind
was done, they said the Jacksonites did it, and as for taking
doctor's stuff they'd no notion of it. But the Jacksonites said
'twas no use, the Huntonites were all sick, and they must take
some doctor stuff, and if they wouldn't take it willingly they
must be made to take it. So they went to work and fixed a dose
that they called a healing act, that they said would cure all the
Huntonites and anybody else that had catched the sickness of
'em. The Huntonites declared 'twas no use for 'em to fix it,


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for they never would take it as long as they lived, that's what
they wouldn't; they were as well as anbody, and they'd fight
it out till next June before they'd take it. Howsomever, the
Jacksonites got their dose ready, and yesterday they carried
it into the House of Representatives and told the Huntonites
they must take it, and 'twould do 'em good. As soon as the
Huntonites smelt of it, they turned up their noses, and said no,
before they'd take that are plaguy dirty stuff they'd fight 'em
all over the State, inch by inch. But the Jacksonites said
'twas no use—they might sniff as much as they pleased—it
was the only thing that would cure 'em, and they must take
it, and more than all that, they was the strongest and they
should take it. The Huntonites see how 'twas gone goose
with 'em, and they thought the only chance left was to put
their hands over their mouth and fight and kick and scrabble
with all their might, and keep it out of their throats as long
as they could. Still they tried to talk and reason with the
Jacksonites about it. They asked 'em to let 'em have time to
examine the medicine carefully and see what it was made of,
or that they would tell 'em what it was made of, or why they
thought it would do any good to take it. But the Jacksonites
said they shouldn't tell 'em anything about it, it would be
“casting pearls before swine,” and the good book said they
musn't do so.

The men who had fixed the dose knew what they were about,
they had fixed it right, and the Huntonites must open their
mouths and take it, and not parley any more about it. Well,
the Jacksonites took the dose in one hand, and grab'd the
Huntonites with the other, and tipped their heads back, and
were jest agoing to pour it down their throats, when the Huntonites


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fetched a spring and kicked it away to the fourth day
of April. But the Jacsonites run after it and got it back
again in about half an hour, and clinched 'em again, and got
all ready to pour it down; but jest as they got it almost to
their lips, the Huntonites fetched another spring, and kicked
it away to the fourth of March. Away went the Jacksonites
after it again, and brought it back, and clinched the Huntonites
in the same manner as before, and they kicked it away
again, but they didn't kick this time quite to the end of February.
Well, after the Jacksonites, had tried nearly twenty
times to pour down the bitter dose, and the Huntonites had
kicked it away as many times, both parties seemed to be
nearly tired out, and so they finally agreed to adjourn till nine
o'clock next morning. I thought the Huntonites, if they once
got out, would cut and run home and get clear of the plaguy
stuff. But instead of that they all come in again next morning.
When I got there the Jacksonites were holding the Huntonites
by the hair of the head with one hand and trying to
cram the healing plaster down their throats with t'other, and
the Huntonites were kicking and scrabbling, and gritting
their teeth together with all their might, and doubling up their
fists and stamping, and declaring up hill and down that they
would never take it. And they were so upstropulous about it
for awhile, I didn't know as they ever would swallow it. But
the Jacksonites were the stoutest, and held on to 'em like a
dog to a root, and kept 'em there all day and all the evening
till about midnight, and then the poor Huntonites seemed to
be a most dragged out. I fairly pitied 'em. Along in the
first of it they threatened pretty stoutly, and declared by everything
that's black and blue, if they had to take this dirty dose,


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[Description: 688EAF. Page 156. In-line image. Three men with bottles stand over three seated men in a crowded room and force the seated men to drink from the bottles. ]
and should happen to be strongest next year, they'd make the
Jacksonites take a dose worth two of this. But all the
threatening didn't do any good; and then they fell to begging
and coaxing, and that didn't do any good nuther. The Jacksonites
said they should not only take it, but they should take
it that night before they slept. At last they got their hands
and feet tied, and kept bringing it up a little nearer and little
nearer to their mouths, and the Huntonites got so they
couldn't do nothing but spit. But the Jacksonites didn't mind
the spitting, for you know it isn't for the doctor to stand


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about being spit upon a little, when he's giving medicine.
Just before the last on't, the poor Huntonites rolled their eyes
dreadfully, and I believe some on 'em lost their senses a little;
one of 'em took a notion that they were agoing to make him
swallow a whole live goose, feathers and all; and he begged
of 'em, if they wouldn't take out the gizzard and t'other inside
things, that they'd jest pull out the pin feathers, so that it
wouldn't scratch his throat going down. But they didn't pay
no attention to him, and just before the clock struck twelve
they grabbed 'em by the throat, and pried their mouths open,
and poured it in. The Huntonites guggled a little, but they
had to swallow it.

Some thought this healing dose would make the Huntonites
worse, and some thought it would make 'em better. I've
watched 'em ever since they took it, whenever I dared to go
near the Legislater, and I can't see much alteration in 'em.
But that, or something else, has kicked up a monstrous dust
among other folks all over the world amost. I've been looking
over the newspapers a little, and I never see the world
in such a terrible hubbub before in all my life. Everybody
seems to be running mad, and jest ready to eat each other
up. There's Russia snapping her teeth like a great bear, and
is jest agoing to eat up the Poles—I don't mean Ephraim's
bean poles—but all the folks that live in Poland; not that
are Poland up there where Mr. Dunn lives, but that great
Poland over alongside of Russia. And there's the Dutch
trying to eat up Holland, and the Belgians are trying to eat
up the Dutch, and there's “five great powers” trying to pour
a healing dose down the throat of the King of the Netherlands;
and there's Mr. O'Connell trying to make the King of


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England and Parliament take a healing dose, and there's Ireland
jest ready to eat up Mr. O'Connell, and all the kings of
Europe are trying to eat up the people, and the people are all
trying to eat up the kings.

And our great folks in this country, too, away off there to
Washington, have got into such a snarl, I guess it would
puzzle a Philadelphy lawyer to get 'em out of it. There's the
President, and Mr. Calhoun, and Mr. Van Buren, and the two
great Republikan papers, and half a dozen more of 'em, all
together by the ears; but which of 'em will eat up the rest I
don't know. I've heard a good many guess that Mr. Van
Buren would eat up the whole toat of 'em; for they say, although
he's a small man, there isn't another man in the country
that can eat his way through a political pudding as slick
as he can. These are dreadful times, uncle; I don't know
what'll become of the world if I don't get an office pretty
soon. But a faint heart never won fair lady, and I shall stick
to it like a dog to a root.

Your loving neffu,


Editorial Note.—The bitterness of feeling occasioned by the struggle
for the ascendency between the two parties in 1830, still rankled in the
breasts of the members of the Legislature in 1831. The Huntonites had acquired
the ascendency the preceding session, but now the Jacksonites were
in power, and they contended that the acts of the Huntonites in 1830 were
unconstitutional and void. They therefore set about preparing a “healing
act” to declare all the doings of the preceding Legislature valid in the
lump. When this bill was brought forward, it produced a storm in the
Legislature, almost unparalleled. The Huntonites considered it altogehter
a useless, provoking piece of political trickery. They contended that if
the acts of the former Legislature were in fact unconstitutional, no law
passed by this Legislature could make them constitutional, and considering
it a wanton attempt to heap insult and odium upon them, they fought
against it almost while life and breath remained. A fierce debate on the
passage of this bill was carried on for several days. But the Jacksonites
had the power in their own hands, and the bill was finally passed. The
scene is somewhat minutely described in the accompanying letter.