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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 Season of Rampage

By Isaac Hill Bromley (1833–1898)

[The New-York Tribune. 1874.]

FALLS now upon the crimson fringe of the flying October the flutter of unusual stationery, the printed “bugle blasts” with which the Committee rouses the apathetic voter to patriotic action. The poster and the handbill, the circular, the call, and the address fall as the leaves fall into the lap of Autumn, startling the sober citizen with reminders of his political privileges and duties and harrowing his feelings with conundrums of the gravest magnitude in type of the most serious and threatening character. The voice of the Committee is heard in the land. The man who saves his country and delivers the tax-payers from the grasp of plunderers and highwaymen leans gracefully at an angle of about forty-five against the bar of public opinion, or some other, and assuages his patriotic thirst with fluids of the most positive character while he declaims upon the subject of government, and his stately proboscis takes on the gorgeous hues of the American forest. “Headquarters” break out with the most exasperating transparencies in the most unexpected places, or become confluent with the obtrusive saloon and the gilded gin-mill.

The reticent barkeeper recognizes the emergency and throws statesmanlike remarks into the swirl of discussion that eddies and gurgles around him. Now able-bodied persons offer bets at various odds, and beefy-cheeked sovereigns indulge in prophecies. Political economists gather in corner groceries, and in full view of the painted exhortation “Do not spit on the stove,” proceed to expectorate wildly as they contemplate the bruised and bleeding condition of the Republic. And now shortly will come from all the organs a full chorus of appeals in behalf of the “aged and infirm voter.” Communities will be urged to look out for him, to see to him, to get him out early in the morning, to send for him with wagons and phaetons and hacks and stage-coaches, and to keep at work upon him till all of him has voted, and voted right. Young persons will be addressed in the most eloquent terms upon the subject of their rights and duties, and no man of any age, complexion, or condition will escape the inquiry, “Have you registered?” It will be flung in his face at breakfast, it will meet him at his place of business, he will encounter it on his return to his fireside, he will have it in his soup. Dead walls will follow him with it, the curbstones will throw it up at him, and wagons with transparencies will accompany him up and down town wherever he goes, with the continual reminder.

For ten days coming there will be, every day with a sort of increasing emphasis and loudness, the suggestion that the day is coming and growing nearer all the time. Bets will increase, noses grow redder, a great many persons in political life will, as General Sharpe remarked the other evening, “feel the touch of elbows,” and a great many more elbows will be crooked and uplifted afterwards; the country will draw near utter destruction, and still nearer, and then the voting will begin, that is to finish everything and close the last chapter in history. After that the votes will be counted, and there will be bonfires, and perhaps guns, and the next day a great many disinterested persons will have the headache. It is more than likely, too, that the country will go right on afterward very much as though it had not been ruined. Let us hope so.