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Josiah's Jaunt.

various forms of polite invitation are upon record, such as, “Will you come to the bower I have shaded for you?” “Will you walk into my parlor?” as the spider said to the fly. “Will you come and take tea in the arbor?” etc., etc. Another matter of momentous importance, to be discussed and decided only in full family Sanhedrim, is whether the Smiths shall be asked and the Browns shut mercilessly out. But it is a still more solemn affair when a Sovereign State wishes to give a party, to determine upon the choicest and most enticing formulas of bidding, as well as the particular guests to be bidden; and we cannot, therefore, pretend to estimate the gratitude which Massachusetts should feel for Mr. Josiah Perham, who may be called the Brown of International Visiting, and whose exploits in the department of public festivity are worthy of this particular mention. Three ideas, it would appear, have entered the brain of Josiah, viz.:

1. Massachusetts and Virginia are not upon thee-and-thou terms; 2. If Virginia would but pay Massachusetts a visit, partake of her comestibles and her potables, and listen to the chief orators and brass bands of Boston, a return of ancient good feeling [98] might be reasonably anticipated; 3. I, Josiah Perham, am just the gentleman to engineer this exceedingly delicate business. Whereupon, Josiah kindly desiring to save all possible trouble, resolved himself to be, pro hac vice, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and accordingly wrote a polite billet to the Hon. John Letcher, Governor of Virginia, inviting the principal inhabitants of that State, the Representatives, the Hangmen and other public servants, to come immediately to Boston, to join in a grand Constitutional Jubilee. Nothing could exceed in delicacy the terms of this missive. Knowing the depleted condition of the general Virginia purse — not as yet distended by the much-desired-but-not-as-yet-built European-and-Old-Dominion steamers — Josiah, in his note to Governor Letcher, considerately promised to send “free tickets for all, or nearly all the journey from Richmond to Boston,” leaving the gratuitous cock-tails and juleps to the care of the Mayor of Boston, after the arrival of the way-worn and thirsty pilgrims. In this amiable letter, the enterprising Josiah dwelt in an eloquent way upon a variety of topics, and notably upon the warm friendship of the “sage of Monticello” (meaning Thomas Jefferson) for the “sage of Quincy” (meaning John Adams). Wherefore, in order that “common friendship may be made strong and mutual confidence greatly increased,” Josiah mentions the fact of the “free tickets,” and reiterates seductively his request: “Will you come and take tea in the arbor?”

Now, when this polite summons, so festively different [99] from the subpoenas which Virginia is wont to send to Massachusetts, was received by the Hon. John Letcher, he seems to have been either frightened or delighted; for he instantly sent a special message to the Legislature, communicating to them the communication of Josiah, which was treated with due respect, being first laid upon the table and then ordered to be printed. The private note of Perham thus rose at once to the dignity of a full-fledged Public Document, and as such will occupy a prominent place in all future histories of Virginia. The ages will know that there was a Josiah — that he was hospitable — that he asked Virginia to take tea in Boston, and, alas! that Virginia would not come, and did not even send her decent regrets. At this moment, to speak metaphorically, Josiah's great Union tea-pot is remarkably cold and his arbor dismantled.

Before concluding to come to tea, the sages of Virginia waited for the opinion of that arbiter of all elegant things, the Editor of The Petersburg (Va.) Express, who, after due pondering, has decided that until Massachusetts shall have repealed sundry laws “hostile to the South,” Virginia will not drink a Massachusetts cock-tail, will not eat a Massachusetts dinner, will not sleep between Massachusetts sheets. Undoubtedly a stunner for Perham! Virginia is not to be “honey-fuggled” even by free tickets. For the present, the benevolent Josiah is floored; but, full as we are of sympathy for Perham, in a condition of languishing disconsolation, with his lights fled, and [100] his garlands dead, and his banquet-hall deserted, we advise him to proceed, as fast. as his emotions will permit, to the Massachusetts State House, then and there to request of Senators and Representatives the immediate repeal of all “legislation hostile to the South,” in order that his tea-party may “come off.” In this way more than one bird will be slain by Josiah's missile. The Union will be cemented; agitation will cease; Governor Letcher will fold to his manly bosom Governor Banks; the brass-bands will blow; the flags will flutter; the gifted talkers of either State will be relieved of their verbal dropsies, and all will go considerably more merry than any number of marriage bells, while brethren united, like birds in their little nests, with many tears of joy, will bless the name of Josiah, surnamed Perham, the Dispenser of Free Tickets and Peace-Maker-General to the States of Massachusetts and Virginia!

And yet will Josiah permit us to whisper to him a word of caution? He is, no doubt, a veteran showman, and may in his day have domesticated in a single cage a Happy Family of cats, rats, owls and rabbits. He may rely upon his long experience, but has he seriously considered the consequences of his proposed re-union? We will imagine Virginia arrived, washed, dressed, cock-tailed, and breakfasted. We will imagine Mr. Perham marching the illustrious consignment of Free Ticketers to the Common. Can he then be sure of his animals? Suppose Governor Banks, in saluting the Perham pilgrims, [101] should say something unpleasing to the Southern ear? Is Josiah sure that his jolly visitors would not lapse into their orginal savagery? Would not snap their revolvers, flourish their bowie-knives, and swing stalwartly their sticks? Josiah would not certainly feel good if a battle-royal should ensue. What would he do with the dead bodies of his Virginians, particularly if the Directors of the Railways should raise technical objections to Free Corpses? Of course the State of Virginia would not permit her gallant dead to be quietly interred in Yankee soil. Of course the remains would be sent for; and, of course, Josiah, as the instigator of the fatal fray, would be called upon to foot the bill. What a doleful termination of the Josiah-Jubilee!

We notice that last week the Massachusetts House of Representatives considered Mr. Perham's gratuitous public services, and did not very highly approve the same, being undoubtedly of the opinion that it could do its own inviting without outside assistance. Josiah, like most public benefactors, was scurvily treated. One Haskell thought Perham “a fool.” One Shaw insisted that he was a “nuisance.” Upon this a lively debate ensued, but the question of “fool” or “nuisance” was not put to the House. It seemed to be agreed that he was either the one or the other; and, whether brainless or a bore, we can easily understand why the Virginia Legislature--not the Massachusetts — treated his invitation with a certain degree of respect.

February 21, 1860.

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