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As soon as Major Downing received the Union containing
the editorial outburst of Mr. Ritchie, he replied to the veteran
politician, through the Intelligencer, in the following conciliatory
and soothing terms:

My Dear Old Friend:—I've jest got the Union, containing
the broadside you fired at me, and I'm amazingly struck up,
and my feelins is badly hurt, to see that you've got so bewildered
that you seemingly don't know me. It's a melancholy
sign when old folks get so bewildered that they mistake their
oldest and best friends, one for t'other. Why, your head is
turned right round. How could you say that I was “a fictitious
Major Jack Downing?” and that my last letter to you
was a “trashy forgery?” and that you would “strip the
mask from me?” I feel bad now about writing my last letter
to you, for I'm afraid you took it too hard. I beg of you now,
my dear friend, to let all drop right where 'tis; leave Mr.
Burke to do the burkin' and the fightin', and you go right out
into the country and put yourself under the “cold-water cure”
somewhere, and see if your head won't come right again. I
“fictitious,” and you going to “strip the mask from me!”


Page 270
Why, my dear friend, if you could only be up here five
minutes, and jest lift the mask off of my face one minute,
you'd know me jest as easy as the little boy knew his daddy.
Your head couldn't be so turned but what you'd know me; for
you'd see then the very same old friend that stood by you and
Gineral Jackson fifteen, sixteen, and eighteen years ago; the
same old friend that coaxed up Gineral Jackson, and made
him forgive you for calling him such hard names before he
was elected. It's very ungrateful for you to forget me now—
that is, if you was in your right mind. For I'm the same old
friend, the same Jack Downing that was born and brought up
in Downingville, away Down East, in the State of Maine, and
that drove down to Portland in Jinnerwary, 1830, with a load of
ax-handles and bean-poles, and found the Legislater in a dreadful
snarl, all tied and tangled, and see-sawin' up and down a
whole fortnight, and couldn't choose their officers. I found
my ax-handles and bean-poles wouldn't sell, so I took to polytix,
and went to writin' letters. The Legislater fout and fout
all winter; but I kept writin', and at last I got 'em straitened
out. I kept on writin' for a whole year, and got the polytix
of Maine pretty well settled. Then I see Gineral Jackson
was getting into trouble, and I footed it on to Washington to
give him a lift. And you know I always stuck by him afterward
as long as he lived. I helped him fight the battles with
Biddle's monster bank till we killed it off. I helped him put
down nullification, and showed exactly how it would work if it
got the upper hand, in my letter about carrying the raft of logs
across Sebago Pond, when Bill Johnson got mad and swore
he'd have his log all to himself, and so he cut the lashings
and paddled off on his log alone; and then his log begun to roll,
and he couldn't keep it steady, and he got ducked head over
heels half a dozen times, and come pesky near being drowned.
And that wasn't all I did to keep off nullification and help put


Page 271
it down. I brought on my old company of Downingville
malitia to Washington, under the command of Cousin Sargent
Joel, and kept 'em there, with their guns all loaded, till the
danger was over. And I used to go up top of the Congress
House every day, and keep watch, and listen off toward South
Carolina, so as to be ready, the first moment nullification bust
up there, to order Sargent Joel to march and fire. The Gineral
always said the spunk I showed was what cowed nullification
down so quick, and he always felt very grateful to me for it.
Well, I stuck by the Gineral all weathers; and I kept writin'
letters from Washington to my old friend, the editor of the
Portland Courier, and kept old Hickory's popularity alive
among the people, and didn't let nobody meddle with his Administration
to hurt it. Well, then, you know, the Gineral,
in the summer of 1832, started off on his grand tower Down
East, and I went with him. You remember, when we got to
Philadelphy, the people swarmed round him so thick they almost
smothered him to death; and the Gineral got so tired
shakin' hands that he couldn't give another shake, and come
pretty near faintin' away; and then I put my hand round under
his arm, and shook for him half an hour longer, and so we
made out to get through. I sent the whole account of it to
my old friend of the Portland Courier. Well, then we jogged
along to New York; and there, you remember, we come pesky
near getting a ducking when the bridge broke down at
Castle Garden. I sent the whole account of it to my old
Portland friend. Well, the next day your “original” Major
Downing published his first original letter in a New York
paper, giving an account of the ducking at Castle Garden.
Nobody couldn't dispute but this was the true, ginuine, “original”
Downing document, although my “vile imitations” of it
had been going on and published almost every week for two
years. I say nobody couldn't dispute it, because 'twas proved


Page 272
by Scripture and poetry both. For the Bible says, “The
first shall be last, and the last first;” and poetry says,
“Coming events cast their shadows before.” So the shadows,
the “vile imitations,” had been flying about the country for
more than two years before the original event got along. I
hope your head will get settled again, so that you can see
through these things and understand 'em, and know me jest
as you used to. I can't bear the idea of your not knowing
me, and thinking I'm “fictitious.”

Du try to refresh your mind a little; think how I stood by
you and Mr. Polk, and helped you along through the Mexican
war; and how I carried out dispatches from Mr. Polk to Mr.
Trist, in Mexico, and how I carried a private message from
you to Gineral Taylor, to try to coax it out of him which side
he was coming out on.

Good-by, my dear friend; I hope next time I hear from
you, you will be recovered and in your right mind, so as to
know me and see that I an't “fictitious;” for you haven't got
a truer friend on Mason and Dixon's side of Salt River than
your old friend.