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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Convention Scene in “For Congress”

By David Demarest Lloyd (1851–1889)

[Born in New York, N. Y., 1851. Died at Weehawken, N. J., 1889. For Congress. A Political Sketch.—This Comedy was first produced at the National Theatre, Washington, D.C., 1883, with John T. Raymond in the part of General Josiah Limber.]


SCENE.—Ante-room to the Convention Hall. Leaning against scene are political banners, as follows: “Woolley the stern Statesman.” “Miggs Forever, Woolley Never.” “We want reform in the other party.” “The people demand Zephaniah Miggs.” “Chunkalunk County solid for Woolley.”

[LIMBER discovered with JOHN PRICE and two men.]

LIMBER.Now, boys, I want Woolley’s nomination to be as spontaneous as we can make it. John, I want you to propose Peter Woolley as a compromise candidate, on the ground of his deep interest in politics. Then, Tom, I want you to get up and say you know positively Mr. Woolley will not accept the nomination, and “if any man dare dispute it, meet me outside.” If any of them get up to go out, you remain where you are! Then, John, you make another of your grand efforts and say that is the very reason he ought to be nominated; that the office should seek the man, and not the man the office. You’re familiar with that tune! Then, Joe, you demand Woolley’s nomination in the interests of economy and reform. Throw your whole weight on reform. We’re all reformers now! Then cast the vote of your county for Woolley, you ditto, and then holler! Tell all the boys to holler, and we’ll start a stampede for old Pete—that will beat Miggs to pieces! But remember, boys, it must be spontaneous!

PRICE.Do you think Woolley will do the right thing by the boys?

LIMBER.John Price, I’ve been in politics ever since I was thirteen years old. I’ve been called a rascal a great many times, but nobody has ever taken me for a fool, and it’s too late to begin now. Now get in, boys.[The three men go up.]Oh, John![PRICE comes down.]You tell Bill Dey I see through his little game. Chunkalunk County isn’t solid for Woolley. He’d have me think it is, and when the critical moment comes, he’ll swing his vote over to Miggs. Now, John, you know I never say things I don’t know to be true. Woolley’s worth a million. And I judge from his appearance that his capacity to shell out for the legitimate expenses of the campaign is simply immense! You tell Bill Dey he is making the biggest mistake of his life.[Enter WOOLLEY.]

LIMBER.Peter, here’s a special message from his excellency the clerk of the Buzzard Hotel.[Hands note to WOOLLEY.]

WOOL.General, I don’t understand politics. I can’t make this out at all.

LIMBER.Why, I ordered a little refreshment for the boys. They expect it. “Hon. Peter Woolley,”—you’re elected, you see, Pete,—“Dr. to the Buzzard Hotel—$100 for six hundred drinks—for one hundred friends of reform.”


ANNA.Have they begun yet?

JULIA.I don’t know. How strange the old school-house looks.

[Enter MRS. MUFFIN.]
ANNA.I wish it would do for us to go in. I don’t see why people think politics are stupid! They’re delightful! I was never so excited in my life.

MRS. M.Be still, child. When you’re as familiar with politics as I am, you’ll understand these things better.

ANNA.But I can’t keep still! Julia! Let’s go and look in.

MRS. M.Anna, try and behave yourself like a lady.

PELHAM.[Has gone up stage.]I say, just look at this.

ANNA and JULIA.Oh, what is it?

MRS. M.[Pushing in between the girls.]Girls, don’t be so inquisitive. What is it, eh?

PELHAM.[Reading banners.]“Woolley the stern Statesman.”

ANNA.What funny people these politicians are—the idea of calling papa a stern statesman![Shouts. Exit PELHAM.]

JULIA.But what’s this—“The people demand Zephaniah Miggs.”

ANNA.The idea of their demanding Miggs or anybody else when they can get my papa!

JULIA.Down with Miggs! Woolley forever![Enter PELHAM.]

PELHAM.I say, they’ve begun.

JULIA.Oh, do tell us what they are doing.

ANNA.I wish I were in there.

MRS. M.Now, girls, don’t be so inquisitive.[Pulls ANNA round to L. H. corner.]What did you say they were doing?

PELHAM.Well, there’s a man making a speech.

ALL the LADIES.Well, well.

PELHAM.He really quite alarmed me, you know. He says the country is going to destruction.

ANNA.Oh, I wonder if that’s true?

JULIA.I think they usually change their minds after election.[Shouts outside.]

ANNA and JULIA.Oh, hear that![They turn up stage.]

MRS. M.Girls, don’t talk about what you don’t understand. The country is in a deplorable state. General Limber told me all about it.[Enter LIMBER.]

LIMBER.Why, here’s an oasis of beauty, blooming right in the desert of politics. How are you, girls?—How are you, Jule?—I had just finished the platform and was about to take it in.

ANNA.Oh, do let us see it.

JULIA.Let us hear it.

PELHAM.Platform? I don’t see any platform.

LIMBER.Our friend from the effete and enervated East doesn’t understand. A platform is—the resolutions. It’s what we say before election—we’ll do after election. We don’t always do it, but we always say it.

ANNA and JULIA.Oh, do let us hear it.

LIMBER.Would you like to have me read it just as I am going to read it in there?

ANNA and JULIA.Oh, do, do!

MRS. M.Girls, be calm. Look at me, I am perfectly calm!

ANNA.Oh, I am so excited!

LIMBER.[Reading.]“Your committee, profoundly impressed with the colossal importance of the duty intrusted to them, beg leave to report as follows”—ahem!

“Resolved: That we have met in the midst of a great crisis”—Girls, it is the peculiarity of our party that we always meet in the midst of a great crisis.

PELHAM.There! I told you so!

LIMBER.“Resolved: That our party is a towering monument of public virtue. Resolved: That the other party is a festering slough of political slime.”

ANNA.Oh, dear!

MRS. M.It’s just like poetry.[Shouts. Exit PELHAM.]

LIMBER.“Resolved: That all the offices should be bestowed upon our party. Resolved: That if the other party should get any of the offices, the stability of our institutions would be eternally imperilled, and the proud figure of Freedom herself would totter on her mountain height.”

ANNA.Oh, how splendid!

JULIA.Superb! And so pure, and lofty in tone.

LIMBER.“Resolved”—no, I’ll have to fix that.[Shouts.]

[JULIA and ANNA run up to C.]
MRS. M.Girls, girls, don’t be so inquisitive.

ANNA.I don’t care, I’m going in.[Exeunt girls C.]

LIMBER.There! No, no, that won’t do. That expresses an idea.

MRS. M.Well, I guess I’ll take a little peek myself.[Exit.]

LIMBER.There, that heads either way, like a ferry-boat.[Enter MISS GRIMM.]

MISS G.Stop! In the name of the down-trodden women of America, I demand the insertion of this woman-suffrage plank in the resolutions of the Convention.

LIMBER.Oh, thanks.

MISS G.I want to know your personal views on woman suffrage. Now, I think the exclusion of women from the polls is one of the crying evils of the age.


MISS G.I think our politics will never be pure and picturesque till the refining influence of woman is felt there.


MISS G.I think it is a question our public men must meet at once.


MISS G.Your views are very satisfactory.

LIMBER.I’m glad she’s got my views on woman suffrage.[MISS G. has taken off her glasses and now turns to LIMBER.]What, Jemima Grimm!

MISS G.Why, Josiah Limber! Why, I didn’t know you at all!

LIMBER.No wonder. You haven’t seen me for twenty years, and you’re here in Woolleyville. You must have carpet-bagged a good deal.

MISS G.Yes, I have, like all school-teachers.

LIMBER.So have I, like all school-teachers. You’re still Jemima Grimm?

MISS G.Josiah Limber, in a land where women are denied the right to vote, I am proud to say I am an old maid!

LIMBER.Well, I’ve had my ups and downs—mostly downs. Yes, I’ve seen the time when smoked herring was stalled ox to me. But if the scheme I have now succeeds, I shan’t have to consider my duster in the light of an ulster next winter.—But Jemima, do you remember when we were boys and girls together in Pennsylvania—at least one boy and one girl? Do you remember how fond I used to be of you?

MISS G.You always were a fool!

LIMBER.I thought you’d remember that! Do you remember the singing-school, eh—and that night coming home when the candle went out in the lantern—you remember the husking-bees—and the bench under the old apple-tree in the orchard—and the straw rides?—Oh, Jemima![Embraces her.]

MISS G.There’s somebody coming.[Enter MRS. MUFFIN; exit MISS G.]

LIMBER.[Pretending to be absorbed in the platform.]“Resolved.”[MRS. M. angry.]Jealous! That won’t do. She’ll withdraw the old man. Did you observe that little episode just now?

MRS. M.I observed what you call an episode.

LIMBER.That was political—purely political.

MRS. M.I didn’t see much politics in it.

LIMBER.Oh, that’s politics. That’s what we poor politicians have to undergo all the time. You see that’s a very dangerous character. She’s what we term a woman suffragist, and it won’t do for Peter to favor woman suffrage. So I was trying to conciliate her—smooth her down.

MRS. M.You seemed to be smoothing her down very successfully![Shouts.]

PELHAM.I say, Limber, they’ve begun to vote.

LIMBER.Well, I’m glad of it.

PELHAM.Miggs has got the first ten votes.

LIMBER.Miggs![Rushes off, followed by PELHAM.]

ANNA and JULIA.Oh, oh!

MRS. M.Girls, girls![Enter PELHAM.]

PELHAM.Five for Woolley![Exit. Enter MISS G.]

ANNA.Oh, good! but they are only five.

PELHAM.[Enters.]Five more for Woolley![Exit.]

ANNA and JULIA.Oh, splendid!

PELHAM.[Enters.]Fifteen for Miggs.[Exit.]

MISS G.Ah, good!

JULIA.The hateful thing!

MISS G.I don’t hesitate to say that I’m for Miggs. Miggs is in favor of woman suffrage.

ANNA.Well, if she’s for Miggs, I hope she’ll never get the right to vote for him or anybody else.[Enter MIKE.]

MIKE.I’m all tore up! I want to see Mr. Woolley nominated, but I hate to see Moriarty beat. It isn’t often an Irishman gets an office. They’re too modest! I’ll see how things are going anyhow.[Exit.]

PELHAM.[Enters.]Ten more for Miggs! Do you know, I never saw a convention all the time I was abroad.[Exit.]

JULIA.Oh, Anna, let us keep count. How can we do it?

PELHAM.[Enters.]What extraordinary names you have here in America! Aristowoobskook County gives ten votes for Woolley.[Exit.]

ANNA.Oh, hurry! What shall we do?

JULIA.Here’s just the thing.

ANNA.One of the school blackboards—just the thing—quick!

[They place the blackboard on chair, board facing up stage. Enter MIKE.]
MIKE.Ould Ireland’s been heard from! Mackerelville gives fifteen votes to Patrick Moriarty! Aha! Them Mackerelville boys are the fellows. Ah, ye divils, ye![Exit.]

PELHAM.[Enters.]Five for Woolley.[Exit.]


JULIA.Where’s the chalk? Now you keep the tally for Peter Woolley, and I’ll put down the votes for Zephaniah Miggs. Oh, Aunt, I wish you weren’t for Miggs! I hate Miggs! I’d like to count him out!

ANNA.Oh, Julia, if women went into politics wouldn’t they cheat though!

MISS G.Pooh! Pooh!

PELHAM.[Enters.]More names! Miggs gets twenty votes from Squashopolis![Exit.]

ANNA.Oh, we haven’t put them down. Hurry before there’s another. 5—5—10—5—.

JULIA.10—15—10—20—I hate to put it down. That makes Miggs 30 ahead.

PELHAM.[Enters.]Thirty for Woolley![Exit. Shouts.]

ANNA.That makes them even——

JULIA.If I have to keep count for Miggs, I’ll applaud for Woolley.[Enter MIKE.]

MIKE.Ould Ireland’s gaining! Moriarty’s got one more vote.[Exit.]

PELHAM.[Enters.]Fifteen for Miggs.[Exit.]

MISS G.Good for Miggs! Miggs will be nominated. You’ll see!

JULIA.I’m opposed to woman suffrage from this hour!

PELHAM.[Enters.]Twenty votes for Peter Woolley![Exit.]

JULIA.What does it make all together?

ANNA.Oh, I don’t know! They won’t add up at all!

PELHAM.[Enters.]Twenty more for Woolley![Exit. Shouts.]

[Enter LIMBER radiant.]
ANNA.Will papa be nominated?

LIMBER.Papa will be nominated unanimously. You know the old phrase—As old Chunkalunk goes, so goes the Union! Well, old Chunkalunk, in spite of their banner there, were a little uncertain as to whom they’d give their sixty votes to. But they have agreed, in consideration of—ahem!—of Peter Woolley’s many eminent qualities, to give him their sixty votes. It took me some time, but it’s all settled!

MISS G.Has my woman-suffrage resolution been adopted yet?

LIMBER.Well, not yet.

MISS G.I knew it!

MRS. M.Now, girls, I’m going to find brother Peter, and bring him here. The candidate ought to be on the spot to be surprised at the nomination.[Exit.]

[Enter WOOLLEY. Sees portrait on banner.]
WOOL.Who’s that?

ANNA.Why, here’s papa now.

WOOL.Anna! What’s all this about? What does it mean?

ANNA.It’s the Convention. We thought no one would see us, and we were so anxious.

WOOL.What, the Convention? Oh, I must go right away! I haven’t done half the work in the garden this morning.

ANNA.Now, wait, papa. General Limber has told us you will surely be nominated.

WOOL.Dear! dear!

ANNA.Yes, Chunk-a-lunk—yes, that’s it, Chunkalunk County is going to give you all its sixty votes!

WOOL.I hope they won’t do it now.

ANNA.Now, wait, papa.

PELHAM.[Enters.]Twenty for Woolley![Exit.]

WOOL.What a start he gave me. I must go. I had no idea politics were so noisy.

MISS G.What are your views on woman suffrage?

WOOL.I haven’t got any.[Exit. Enter CHARLES MONTGOMERY.]

CHARLES.Why, Anna, I just heard of this a few moments ago. I had no idea your father thought of running for Congress! I expect every moment to hear whom the other Convention have nominated.

VOICE.[Outside.]Sixty votes for Zephaniah Miggs!

MISS G.Sixty votes for Miggs.[Shouts.]

JULIA.I wonder what that meant?[Enter PELHAM.]

PELHAM.I say, where’s Limber? There’s something wrong. There’s a stampede for Miggs. Miggs is getting all the votes.

OMNES.Limber! Limber! Where’s Limber?[Enter LIMBER.]

PELHAM.Something’s wrong! Chunkalunk County gave sixty votes for Miggs!

LIMBER.What! Grand old Chunkalunk?

PELHAM.Yes, and they’re all voting for Miggs.[Exit.]

LIMBER.Bill Dey’s gone back on my bid! But I’ll beat him yet.[Exit.]

PELHAM.[Enters.]Twenty more for Miggs![Shouts.]

LIMBER.[Offstage.]Boys, I appeal to your patriotism and intelligence.[Shout.]You’ve lots of both.[Shout “Yes.”]Will you hesitate between the Hon. Peter Woolley and the infamous Miggs?[“No.”]Remember you are performing a momentous duty. The eyes of the world are on you. This is the hour of your country’s peril, and the very crisis of her fate.[Loud shouts.]

PELHAM.[Enters.]He’s making a most eloquent speech. I don’t believe there’s a fellow in our club ever made such a speech.

JULIA.Too late.

MISS G.I wonder if he will defeat Miggs?


VOICE.[Outside.]Three cheers for Zephaniah Miggs.[One feeble shout.]

PELHAM.That wasn’t much of a cheer for Miggs.

VOICE.[Outside.]Three cheers for Peter Woolley.[Loud cheers.]

PELHAM.I say, that meant something.[Exit. Enter MIKE.]

MIKE.Oh, Mr. Charles, the other Convention have just up and nominated you for Congress.[Exit.]

CHAS.What! me? No, it can’t be!

ANNA.Oh, Charles, you and papa running against each other!

CHAS.I don’t know what to make of it at all.[Enter PELHAM.]

PELHAM.I say, they’re changing their votes back to Woolley. Limber is swinging the Convention right around. Chunkalunk County changes sixty votes to Peter Woolley!

[Enter Brass Band playing “The Star Spangled Banner.” Then LIMBER, followed by delegate carrying flag on staff, which he waves over LIMBER and WOOLLEY. Crowd fill in at back, shouting. Enter WOOLLEY led by MRS. MUFFIN.]