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explain which it will be necessary for us to go back to the morning of this eventful day.
Bill Travis, as his friends familiarly called him-or W. Thompson Travis, Esq., as his tradesmen used to address him on the back of their frequently-sent-in and occasionally paid bills-was a senior at Columbia College; not precisely the first of his class in Latin and Greek, but decidedly the best waltzer and billiard-player in it, and the exquisite, par excellence, of his juvenile contemporaries. He never went down Broadway, even to go to College, without light French kids and a gold-headed cane; and his stock of enamelled chains, opal studs, diamond pins, and the like vanities, would nearly have fitted up a bride's corbeille. To see him fully got up -polished boots, palm-leaf waistcoast, gorgeous cravat, and allmincing over the gutter, you would take him for a regular man-milliner, and say that the greatest exertion he was capable of, would be holding a trotter, and that only with the aid of a pair of pulleys. But scrutinize him more closely, and you would see that, for all his slim waist and delicate extremities, he had a good full natural chest of his own and powerful limbs. Put him into action, and you would find that he could hit straight from the shoulder, and 'split himself well,' as the French phrase it, when he gave point, or went back in guard. He was, in fact, a crack boxer, fencer, and gymnast. Pugilism was the fashion with the young bloods of Gotham at that time, especially such of them as had any tendency to politics; and among these boys of nineteen there were not a few who would have tackled a fancy man in his prime, and at no great odds either, their great agility making up for their want of downright strength. Travis's friend, and senior by one year, George Purcell, (who afterwards served with credit as a volunteer in the Mexican war, and ultimately became a judge in California,) had on one occasion, when threatened with the vengeance of a stalwart Bowery boy, sought out the democratic champion in the very midst of his personal and political friends, and challenged him to single
combat; which challenge being promptly accepted, he polished off the young butcher in good style and short order-the other b'hoys, with that love of fair play which honourably distinguishes the Anglo-Saxon race all over the world, remaining impartial spectators of the fight. Travis had never equalled this feat, but he had seen a good deal of low life and hard knocks on the sly, proper and fashionable as he always appeared in public by daylight.
Now, on the morning of this day, as we were saying, Travis, while lounging up Broadway, suddenly encountered a youth of about his own age, but a very different style and type. He was short and thickset, swaggering, and almost sailor-like in his gait, and wore the usual dress of the American snob playing gentleman—that is to say, a black dress-coat and trousers, and a black satin vest. His ungloved right hand sustained a walking-stick, which might, on a pinch, have done duty as a bed-post; his left was buried in his trousers' pocket.
It was Travis's cousin, Lefferts Lloyd. Half Knickerbocker, half Welsh in his extraction, he descended directly from some of the oldest settlers of the island, and by rights his should have been the fashionable, and the Travises (who were altogether novi homines) the unfashionable branch of the family. But fortune, or the taste of the Lloyds themselves, had willed it otherwise; with equal means, they resided in a region east of the Bowery, well nigh terra incognita to the set in which the Travises moved. Lefferts himself was very much one of the people; he eschewed all vanities of patent leather and kid gloves, preferred ten-pins to billiards, and running after a fire-engine to waltzing. The cousins, who had been at school together, were on very amicable terms with each other, but their tastes and pursuits not exactly coinciding, they seldom met except for a few minutes in the street, or a few days at a watering-place.
By Jove! Lefferts, that's a delicate cane of yours,' said Travis, glancing from the other's stupendous bludgeon to his own gold-headed Malacca, which, as he would have expressed it himself, had knocked a
such a row as effectually to drown the voice of the secretary, who was trying to read the first resolution offered.
Now of all the offences against good manners that can be committed in America, disturbing the harmony of a public meeting is about the most flagrant. It may be supposed, then, that the conduct of these intruders excited no small indignation on the part of the majority. There were not enough constables present to eject them, so the citizens, without distinction of party,' took the law into their own hands; such Whigs as were nearest incontinently laid hands on the rioters, and passed them out.'
Reader, have you a clear idea of what this passing out' is ? I believe the operation is occasionally practised in England, at theatres and other places of public resort, when young gentlemen have got elevated, and wont behave themselves. But, lest you should not be familiar with it, I will endeavour to give you as much as I remember of a description by one of our authors, of the style in which the thing is managed. The occasion represented is a public dinner, given to the Honourable Mr. So-and-So by his admirers; and the victim, a too daring-dun, who has spoiled a fine period of the orator's, If, fellow-citizens, I should be doomed to retirement, I shall at least carry with me the proud conviction that I have always acted as becomes an honest man,'-by impertinently suggesting that his small account for groceries has been running four years."
Dreadful, indeed, poor Muzzy, was the ocean on which thou wert doomed to embark.
PASS HIM DOWN!
The call was answered by the elevation of Mr. Muzzy six feet in the air. From this altitude he was let down into a vortex of stronghanded fellows, who whirled him about horribly, and then transmitted him to a more equable current, which pitched him forward at a steady rate towards the door. Sometimes he landed among a party of quiet elderly gentlemen over their wine, and the torrent seemed to be lulled; then again it would return upon him with renewed violence, and bear him helplessly along. At last he was caught up by two mighty billows in the shape of a master butcher and baker, and impelled with fearful velocity through the narrow straits of the door. On recovering his senses sufficiently to take an observation, he found himself stranded, keel uppermost, in the gutter, with his rigging considerably damaged, and his timbers somewhat shaken."
Such was the discipline to which
ligerent of the Locos had to
An assemblage of human beinglete one, and so has often been compared to a
now became despethat they must fight advanced to a man. s were stopped in Both parties waperceived that the was now to be struck. Lloyd, he came down an awk stroke,' as the ssay, that fairly broke rd, and beat him back or four of his followers, nt over together. The sed a shout, made a rush and by sheer weight hurled enders down the staircase. um poured the victors, with at their head. The Irish s were nothing before his he knocked down or disAman at every blow. Still cos made a vigorous attempt y in the lower entry, but at moment a reinforcement arrived the Whigs, which completed
defeat. A band of Unionists Whig association formed in oppoon to the Butt-enders) had been rading the streets with music and anners, and they now arrived in time to fall furiously on the rear of their antagonists. The Loco-Focos, thus hemmed in between two fires, were gloriously pommelled for about five minutes. At length, with a desperate charge, they broke through the Unionists, and fled precipitately down Broadway, while the band accompanied their retreat with the complimentary air of the 'Rogue's March.'
uld att word. The victors re-assembled in the ving big room, somewhat diminished in ranks, numbers (even after the accession of the Unionists) and dilapidated in attire. Travis, who had been foremost throughout the whole row, bore especial marks of it on his person. His coat was slit down the back, and minus several buttons in front; his cravat utterly missing, and his shirt, so much of it as was visible, might possibly have made patches for a rifle, but was of no particular value as an article of dress. But such little incidents only served to increase the general hilarity of triumph. The meeting was reconstructed, the resolutions passed, and they wound off with a Harrison song-in fact, with two or three. It was near midnight before the walls
big hole in a fifty dollar bill. Preparing for the meeting to-night, you see,' answered Lloyd, with a significant waggle of the big stick that would have gladdened an Irishman's heart. Nothing more was said on the subject, and they separated, after a few trivial remarks; but Travis took good heed of the allusion which he seemed not to notice at the time. On the look-out for mischief, he set himself to reconnoitre that evening in the vicinity of Tammany Hall, fearless of detection, for no one could have recognised the Broadway exquisite in his assumed garb. His upper garment was an old great coat razeed into a frock; his feet were cased in heavy fireman's boots, which, with their impermeable uppers and ponderous soles, were equally serviceable for keeping out snow-water and kicking nigger's shins; his head was protected by a stout leather cap, and in his hand he carried a hickory, not so ponderous as Lloyd's stick, but none the less capable of doing worthy execution in a row. Seeing the Butt-enders proceed up Broadway in a body, he at once suspected that the Masonic Hall was the object of their attack, and accordingly put on all his disposable quantity of steam, that their coming might not be unannounced. There was no time for ceremonious entry, or oratorical delivery, but bursting impetuously into the room, he informed his friends in straightforward terms that the enemy were at hand in great force. The Whigs were somewhat taken aback, most of them being unarmed; but it was not an occasion to stand upon trifles. Furor arma ministrat; the meeting was broken up into a committee of the whole, and the benches into their component timbers, the fragments of which were distributed among the company, while a long plank, under the particular supervision of Travis himself, was suspended over the banisters, so as to sweep the staircase.
Hardly were these preparations completed, when the hall below was flooded with the advancing LocoFocos. Stealthily but swiftly they advanced, little dreaming of the reception that awaited them. The staircase was certainly a very defensible position; it was not wide, and made a sharp bend near the top, so that the
assailants could not see the danger that threatened them. The foremost pressed eagerly up-stairs, and just as they arrived at this turn, their leader could no longer contain himself. Now, boys,' he exclaimed, with a flourish of his bludgeon, we'll give the Whigs their gruel!' "No, you don't!"'
And as Travis spoke, slam-bang came the big plank above mentioned, which, shot out with startling suddenness, and worked with commendable dexterity, made a clean sweep of the whole first column. The leader and five or six more were hurled bodily into the air, and tumbled upon the heads of their followers, while fifteen or twenty others were pitched down the upper flight of ten steps. The mass on the main staircase below recoiled with the shock, and as those in the hall still pressed onward, a dense body was wedged together in woful confusion. Tippecanoe and Tyler too!' shouted Travis, and the Whigs poured forth from the room, and mustered thickly at the head of the staircase, exulting in the disaster of their opponents, while the end of the plank, which had been reset for action, peered over the banisters, as if saying, 'Come on, if you dare!'
The foremost enemies were evidently unwilling to encounter this formidable engine of defence, but the pressure from behind drove them forward. Their first leader was hors du combat, and they were now headed by a young man of tolerably respectable appearance, clearly not one of the regular Butt-enders. 'Let go!' cried Travis, and the primitive ram was again shot forward, but not with equal success. Several of the Locos were knocked down, but others threw themselves desperately on the plank, and their general, by a dexterous movement, placed himself within it. Travis recognised his cousin Lloyd! It was a fine bit of romance, but there was no time to fabricate reflections corresponding, for even as he made the discovery, the amateur Spartan was springing up the stairs, and the man who had been most active in managing the plank went down before his hickory. The fallen upeet the board with his the stairs, useles
still impeding the enemy's advance. At the same moment, a stalwart Irishman, who had climbed up the banisters, levelled his shillelah at Travis's head; but our friend anticipated the blow by giving Pat point in the breast with such strength and dexterity, that he tumbled helplessly into the mass beneath, causing much inconvenience and more panic. This done, Travis darted at his relative, who was knocking down the Whigs right and left, and had nearly gained a footing on the landing-place. Both were adepts in single-stick practice, and the contest bid fair to be of long duration; but they were not to have it all to themselves, for as other Loco-Focos gained the top of the stairs, the mêlée became general. It would require the pen of an Irving or a Fielding to do full justice to the scene. Black eyes, bloody noses, and broken heads were lavishly distributed in all directions; Irish yells and Tippecanoe war-cries swelled the uproar; while from the front windows of the room within some elderly gentlemen kept insanely crying, Watch!'
The Whigs had greatly the advantage over their opponents in point of position and numbers, but the assailants were more practised belligerents, and provided with better weapons. Moreover, many friends of the registry law had as yet taken no part in the affray, vainly hoping that the city authorities (at that time Loco-Focos) would interfere. Inch by inch the Buttenders fought their way forward. The Whigs were visibly giving ground. A panic seized their ranks, and those who were still in the room began to look about them for means of escape. There was a small backwindow, with a shed five or six feet below it, whence the ground could be reached by a ladder. Out of this window dropped, and down this ladder rattled the president, vicepresidents, secretaries, and, in short, the most quiet and respectable men of the meeting. Their exit was as undignified as their entry had been pompous. At length the shed, being rather ancient, gave way under the weight of a very fat man, who was snugly deposited in a pigsty beDeath, so that hope of retreat was
The Whigs now became desperate: they saw that they must fight in earnest, and advanced to a man. The Butt-enders were stopped in their advance. Both parties wavered. Travis perceived that the decisive blow was now to be struck. Closing up to Lloyd, he came down on him with an awk stroke,' as the old romancers say, that fairly broke down his guard, and beat him back upon three or four of his followers, who all went over together. The Whigs raised a shout, made a rush forward, and by sheer weight hurled the Butt-enders down the staircase. After them poured the victors, with Travis at their head. The Irish shillelahs were nothing before his hickory he knocked down or disabled a man at every blow. Still the Locos made a vigorous attempt to rally in the lower entry, but at that moment a reinforcement arrived for the Whigs, which completed their defeat. A band of Unionists (a Whig association formed in opposition to the Butt-enders) had been parading the streets with music and banners, and they now arrived in time to fall furiously on the rear of their antagonists. The Loco-Focos, thus hemmed in between two fires, were gloriously pommelled for about five minutes. At length, with a desperate charge, they broke through the Unionists, and fled precipitately down Broadway, while the band accompanied their retreat with the complimentary air of the 'Rogue's March.'
The victors re-assembled in the big room, somewhat diminished in numbers (even after the accession of the Unionists) and dilapidated in attire. Travis, who had been foremost throughout the whole row, bore especial marks of it on his person. His coat was slit down the back, and minus several buttons in front; his cravat utterly missing, and his shirt, so much of it as was visible, might possibly have made patches for a rifle, but was of no particular value as an article of dress. But such little incidents only served to increase the general hilarity of triumph. The meeting was reconstructed, the resolutions passed, and they wound off with a Harrison song-in fact, with two or three. It was near midnight before the walls