'A Comedy Of Errors' In Seven Acts / Part 9
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Dramatis Personae

_Francos_ . . . . . _High c.o.c.kalorum._ _Sir Henmart_ . . . _Vice c.o.c.kalorum._ _Sir Higgs_ . . . . _Councillor._ _Sir Windbag_ . . . _Councillor._ _Col. Toady_ . . . _Grand Enumerator._

_Scene: Executive Chamber._

FRANCOS: Ah! woe is me, my gentle councillors.

Again has treason shown its slimy head; And from its source, I fear me, it doth bode But ill to us, who G.o.d's anointed are.

If pedagogues may raise disdainful voice And gross abuse on the elect bestow Can safety from vituperation vile From out this rotten mob be e'er a.s.sured?

SIR HENMART: Good Francos, as this matter emanates From out the sphere of my prerogative, I feel a special sorrow doth becloud The sunny pathway which I late have trod.

I find it difficult to blaze my way; The competent among my teaching corps Are those who dare opinions firm to form; If loyalty alone shall be test, 'Twill leave us but a small unthinking host, And then efficiency will find its grave Within the tomb of our official rage.

SIR WINDBAG: But Caesar grieveth that his mighty star, Which in the human firmament doth s.h.i.+ne So brightly that it lighteth up the world, Should be bespattered by this inky mud.

COL. TOADY: Ah, it were sacrilege to thus befoul The mighty soul whose penetration deep Hath by selection brought this galaxy Of excellence to lead this groping state In paths which lead to freedom and to pow'r.

SIR HIGGS: Alas, 'twas ever thus. I, in the past, Have suffered from the p.r.i.c.ks of nagging quills, And all who mount aloft on fortune's wing Must bear with ripe philosophy such ills.

FRANCOS: But loyalty! In Tammany I learned That duty meek, subservient, should mark The underlings, who but a stairway make By which capacity doth climb to pow'r.

Efficiency! it were an idle word, And rings not soundly on politic ear; Obedience, the watchword e'er should be.

To do and not to think we must demand.

The welfare of our party e'er should be Our slogan even in this wilderness; And he who doth as critic act a part Should quickly feel the headsman's s.h.i.+ning blade.

SIR WINDBAG: But, sire, from signs I read on every hand If such a policy were long pursued We must import from out our native land More Loyal Democrats, who longing wait To most efficiently infuse "new blood"

Where now stagnation makes the veins turn blue.

COL. TOADY: Right, right you are! I know an anxious host Who long have languished from the want of pap, And once were they turned loose, the energy So long stored up would vivify this state, But this fool civil service bars the way-- It should be thrust aside for party's good.

FRANCOS: Thy words do to my willing ear appeal, But our politic foes are strong entrenched, While mockish sentiment doth strongly point To danger, if we cast the scoundrels out.

COL. TOADY: But, sire, in Was.h.i.+ngton they work a plan Which, while it seems to vindicate the law, Roots out the vermin by _demoting_ them, And thus our Southern veterans find a place.

SIR HIGGS: But, friends, doth prudence warrant such a step?

Already inefficiency doth creep Into each bureau till our revenues Do warning give that we must now beware.

SIR WINDBAG: But, gentlemen, our salaries are sure; If needs must be, cut down and slyly pare Along the line where least resistance lies, And on our predecessors throw the blame.

FRANCOS: But Caesar an accounting will demand Should this frail craft be wrecked or run aground, For he doth wish to cast it soon adrift With crew well drilled to threatening shoals avoid.

SIR HIGGS: Here wisdom surely speaks in trumpet tones, And hence we must adventure wisely make To guide the vessel on its way with care And launch it as a well-manned st.u.r.dy craft; Then, whatsoe'er befalls them, we can wash Our hands, for they by importunity Most strong, will then have ventured on the cruise In unknown seas where dangers dark do dwell.

COL. TOADY: Ha! well we know the course the s.h.i.+p will take With men of color standing at the helm; But let them reap the tares which they have sown, We care not if they cut each other's throats.

SIR WINDBAG: But, gentle sir, if they desire to war, Why should we hinder such a sportive game?

They own those isles, and why should we debar Them pastimes, for "they know just what they want."

FRANCOS: But, sirs, we wander from the vital point.

I called this conclave to impress with force The import great of sifting from our ranks Those evil-minded men, whose loyalty Is doubtful, and may bring lasting reproach Upon our policies, and thus besmirch The reputation of that Jove-like pair That rules the destiny of our great state.

COL TOADY: Ha, thou hast said! In all the universe, No other souls, like these, can quick discern Great worth combined with mental attributes Which qualify for high official place: When in these isles a census must be made Their eagle eyes discerned my hiding place And then perceiving qualities most rare Demanded that I serve the public weal!

SIR HENMART: And me! Hid in my happy prairie home, They tore me thence, all for the nation's good!

SIR WINDBAG (_striking his manly breast_): I, too, inherent qualities possess Which caused those mental eyes to hunt me out!

FRANCOS: But, gentlemen, this state is honeycombed With treason dark unto the pow'rs that be.

Even our party men, with cold disdain, Look on our policy with covert sneer.

Some few there are who grovel in the mire, But most deport themselves with silent mien; These should be watched, and when the moment comes Where opportunity her hand extends, We should her aid accept, and lop those heads Which placed on shoulders square with spine erect Dare in the privacy of social life To breathe disloyalty to us who rule.

SIR WINDBAG: Ah, sire, sweet music to mine ears thy words Do make. Within my university Some loyal souls have in epistles sweet Breathed loyalty. Such should the pa.s.sport be.

And if this doc.u.ment cannot be shown It were sure proof that in the rebel heart Treason doth lurk and only hides its head To firmly hold position, at our hands.

FRANCOS: But, Windbag, dost thou not perceive that the Vile press, which here opinion seems to form, Would placard on its pages with great glee That civil service hath been swept aside?

No! we must, with the Indian's guile, our track Cover insinuatingly, and wise.

But vigilance should be our slogan now That we may spy out each disloyal rogue.

COL. TOADY: This civil service is a brittle s.h.i.+eld When pure Democracy doth wield the sword, And were it strong, the rebel that it guards Can be unhorsed by stabbing in the back.

FRANCOS: O happy thought! within my secret heart I long have cherished it. Now to your posts-- And for the conflict buckle on the sword.

Disloyalty to Tinio avenge!

SIR HIGGS: While I'll take little part in this crusade, Still it doth pleasure me most mightily When I reflect that every head lopped off Affords much joy to some good Democrat.

'Twere wise to little say unto the mob For it each idle word will subtile twist, But smile, and smile, yet keep the guillotine Well oiled and ready for its cleaning work.

_All sing with great gust except Sir Higgs who beats time with a baton presented by the Secretary of War:_

"We're living in a hotbed of sedition; These "rats" have been infected by tradition.

If we can't smoke them out And give our friends a place, We'll plug the rat holes up And thus we'll save our face, Hence we must wage the battle stern and hearty; These posts must serve as flagstaffs for our party."

ALL SHOUT: "Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Hip, Hip, Hurrah!! Hip, Hip, Hurrah!!!

and a Tammany Tiger!"