Of The Jackson Hall Debating Society, December 5, 1877
My muse inspire me, while I tell
The weighty matters that befell
On Monday night at Jackson Hall
December fifth. I'll tell it all,
Day and year I'll tell you even,
'Twas eighteen hundred seventy-seven.
The Jacksonites were out in force,
No common thing was up of course,
But something rare and rich and great,
'Twas nothing short of a debate;
What was the question? Let me see,
Yes; 'Can Christians consistently
Engage in war against a brother
And at the same time love each other?'
But first and foremost let me say,
My muse has taken me astray,
So I'll return to the beginning
Digression is my common sinning
For which your pardon I implore,
If granted, I will sin no more,
That is no more till the next time,
For when I'm forging out a rhyme,
The narrative which I would fix up,
I somehow rather oddly mix up.
A president must first be got,
So they elected James M. Scott,
He said he'd serve; (and that was clever,)
A little while, but not forever.
A paper called a 'constitution,'
Was read and on some person's motion,
Was all adopted, at a word,
A thing that seemed to me absurd.
Then instantly to work they went,
And filled the chair of president,
And William Henderson they took,
They knew their man just like a book.
A scribe was wanted next to keep,
A record of their doings deep.
On looking round they cast the lot,
And so it fell on David Scott.
A treasurer was next in order
When looking up and down the border,
For one to hoard the gold and silver,
The mantle fell on Joseph Miller.
The executive committee
Was now to fill and here we see
A piece of work I apprehend,
May lead to trouble in the end,
For while they only wanted five,
Yet six they got, as I'm alive,
First they installed Peter Jaquett,
Then John Creswell, two men well met,
James Law, but they were not enough,
And so they added William Tuft.
One more was wanted that was plain,
That one was found in John McKane,
But when the five were call'd to meet
There were but four came to the seat;
There are but four, said one so racy,
So they elected William Gracy.
Now you perceive this grave committee
Which numbers five both wise and witty,
Has got into a pretty fix
With but five seats and numbers six.
The question for the next debate
Was then selected, which I'll state
If I have only got the gumption
To make some word rhyme with resumption,
'Should Congress now repeal the act
To pay all debts in gold in fact.'
The speakers now were trotted out
Their sides to choose and take a bout
Upon the question, which I stated
As having been so well debated,
Namely, 'Can christians go to war,'
The very devil might abhor
To contemplate this proposition
Offspring of pride and superstition
That brothers by a second birth,
Should make a very hell of earth.
The war of words waxed loud and long,
Each side was right, the other wrong;
The speakers eager for the fray,
Wished their ten minutes half a day;
But time and tide will wait for none,
So glibly did the gabble run,
That nine o'clock soon spoiled the fun,
And all that rising tide of words,
Was smothered never to be heard.
The fight is o'er, the race is run,
And soon we'll know which side has won,
But this is not so easy done;
Indeed I have a world of pity
For the executive committee
Who hear in silence all this clatter
And then decide upon the matter;
To give each speaker justice due,
And sift the error from the true,
Is not an easy thing to do.
To decide what facts have any bearing
Upon the question they are hearing,
And generally keep in hand
The arguments, so strong and grand,
And draw from them a just conclusion
Without a mixture of confusion;
The negative got the decision
Unanimous, without division.
The speakers then took their position,
Upon the doubtful proposition
Of the repeal of gold resumption,
Upon the plausible presumption,
That those who pay must have the money,
That laws of Congress, (that seems funny,)
Are not above the laws of trade,
And therefore cannot be obeyed.
Here now my muse, poor worthless jade,
Deserted, as I was afraid
From the beginning she would do;
So I must say good-night to you,
And these long rambling minutes close,
In just the dullest kind of prose.