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Legislative Jokes

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Like most of niy colleagues who livod in remóte portions of the State [ indiana], I traveled on horseback to attend the Legislature; part of the way along bridle-paths ; sonietimes swimming creeks, or, it' wt: were fortúnate enough to fiixi a canoe, depositing therein saddles and saddle-bags, and trailiüg our horses swimming behind. A trunk for those who indulged in such a luxury was seut on by a carrier. The Legislature was composed chiefly of farmers, plain, honest, genial meu, with a few sharp-witted lawyers and other professionals often taking prominent parts. Now and then I could not forbear a smile at the ignorance, especially in eommon facts in science, that sometimes peeped out. The hall in whieh we met being often irregularly heated by two large cast-iron stovet, my friend, Chris Grahiim, member froni Warwiek county, moved that the doorkeeper be authorized to buy two thermometers so that an even temperature might be maintained. Thereupon an old farmer from a remote county objected. He did not know, he said, just what sort of machines the gentleman wanted to keep us warm; but these out-of-the-way patent contrivances were always expensive, and he supposed it would need a mau to attend to each and keep it in order; for his part, a stove, or what he liked much better- a big wood-flre, was good enough for him. But, if soience was not adequately represented among us, sound judgment in many practical matters and an earnest sense of duty were. The venality which dow stains po many of our legislative bodies was unknown. Eeonomy, occasionally degeierating into parsimony, was praoticed, and I am very sure that uo member went home richer than he same, except what he may have saved out of $3 a day after paying expenses. And they were a lively, genid body in their way. Nothing took better with them than a merry story or a practical oke. Of the latter, one" instance carne very near having a serious result. It was toward the close of the session, when we were waiting to receive bilis from the Senate, with little else to do meanwhile. Several young ladiesof my acquaiutance came into the Speaker's lobby, whero I then happened to be. One of them told me that, a few evenings before, Mr. Cutter, a young member, had made to them a solemn promise rhat he would introduce a bilí taxing old bachelors, aud that they had come to see that ho kept his word; would 1 please teil him so ? I did her bidding, of course. Now, G. W. Cutter was our poet, and oue of no mean order; author of the celebrated " Song of Steam," bcginning : Harness me down with yoTir iron bands Be ture of your curb and rein; For I scoru the puwer of our puny hands, As the teu.pest t-corns a chaiu. How I laughed. as I fey concealed fr5m sight, For mauy a countless hour, At the cuilciinli bonst of human might, And the prlde of human power ! a poem whiüh Blackwood, not I prone to commend American literature, pronounced to be " the best lyric of the century." lts author afterwards married the well-known actress, Mrs. Drake, many years h;s senior. When 1 delivered to him the message from the young ladies, he was at flrst inclined to shirk the matter; but, when encouraged to go through with it, he. drew up a bilí at once providing that on every bachelor over the age of 30 there be iniposed an annual tax of $10, the amount to go the school f trad. I suggested an amandmenc, which he incorporatedinhis j bilí, thus : "Provided, that if isueh ' bachelor shall make it appear to the satisfaction of the court doing county business that he has twice offered marriage and been tsvice refused, he shall be exempted from said tax." Then I posted the Speaker as to what we had on hand, and he recognized Cutter as soon as he rose. The rules were suspended and the bill was read twice. Thereupon we had a jovial debate, interspersed with all manner of gibes againet bachelors. One speaker opposed the bill. "We have adopted the ad-valorem sytitem," he argued; "we tax according to intrinsic values. Theref ore, we impose no tix on the contents of the ragbag, or the chips in the wood-yard; why, then, on an article so utterly useless to society as an old bachelor ?" Finally, the rules again suspended, we nctually passed the bill ! - rather taken by surprise, when the vote was announced, at what we had done, and a little concerned as to how our constituents might take it. But we were in no mood to reconsider the vote. So we urged the Clerk to report to the Senate at once. Then, having adjourned the House, we followed, aicompanied by the young ladies, to see the result. The spirit of frolic is infectious. The Senate took up our bill at once; it was read a flrst and second time, aüd put on its passage. Then two or three oí the more " grave and reverend seiguiors" mude a serious statd against it; and, tinding the tide for the time too strong against them, availed themselves of the luteness of the hour to prucure an adjournment of the Senate. Next day it was laid on the table by a small majority. I afterward aeked our Governor if he would have signed it. " Why not ?" he replied. " I see no impropriety in the bill; and, as to itt expediency, you gentlemen of the House ba d Senate would have been responsible for that." - Eobert Dale Owen, in ücribner.


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Michigan Argus