Wlliam Gilmore Simms
As Good as a Comedy and Paddy McGann >> As Good as a Comedy, or The Tennesseean's Story >> Proem

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Proem

Novella | U of South Carolina P | 1972
Transcription PROEM9
honored that of the Irish Giant. It was fortunate that we had no
such sulky scoundrels within the stage as he who lorded it from the
box. If we swore at him, we kept terms with one another. If the
storm roared without, we were pacific enough within; and it was
wonderful, with such a variety, and with so much to distress and
disquiet! Vexed and wearied with the aspect of affairs without, we
succeeded in maintaining good conditions within; our curses were
expended upon the driver; for one another, we had nothing but
civility; good nature, if not good humor, keeping us in that sobriety
of temper in respect to one another, when an innocent freedom
passes without offence, and we tolerate a familiar in the barbarian
whom, at another season, we should probably scarce recognize as an
acquaintance. But mere good-nature has no chance, in the long run,
against the protracted fatigue and weariness of such a ride as ours;
and, as if by tacit consent, all parties seemed to feel the necessity
of an effort to dissipate our dolors. The Maine man, it is true,
discoursed of machines, and the Massachusetts man of Webster; the
one was full of saws, the other of maxims; but the very square and
compass character of their mutual minds was a worse monotony and
fatigue than the wallowing of our wheels in mire. A lively account,
which the Mississippian now gave us, of the pursuit and hanging of
the Yazoo rogues that terrible tragedy, which still needs an historian
soon led us upon another and more agreeable track, upon which the
Georgian entered with a narrative of his own experience in catching
alligators, in winter, with barbed stakes. To him succeeded the
South Carolinian, with an account of a famous set-to which he had
enjoyed the season before with certain abolitionists at New Haven,
and which he concluded with an eloquent showing of the necessity
for a Southern confederacy by next July. A stout controversy
followed between him and the representative from Massachusetts,
in which the grievances and quarrel between the two States were
particularly discussed; the Carolinian concluding by proposing
gravely to his opponent that the territory of North Carolina should
be hired by the belligerent States for the purpose of settling their
squabbles in the only becoming and manly way, by a resort to the
ultima ratio. This dispute thus determined for this strange propo-
sition seemed to confound the man of Webster we all had something