Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice

When I Joined Tammany Hall – Lyrics

Since I Joined Tammany Hall
Words and Music by Lou Edmunds
Published 1893 by Wm. A. Pond & Co.

thomas-nast-cartoon-of-new-york-citys-everett
[Verse 1]
I live way up in Har-lem
in a qui-et neigh-bor hood,
I keep a la-b’rers board-ing house
and give the best of food;

Right next door lives an Al-der-man,
Mc Car-thy is his name,
And with his fi-ery speech-es
has my board-ers near in-sane;

He prom-ised if e-lect-ed
he would give them all a job,
And all that they re-quir-ed
was a horse and dump-ing cart;

He prom-ised them all mon-ey
gave them tick-ets for his ball,
And sent me word he’d close me up,
or else join Tam-man-y Hall.

[Chorus]
I’m a lead-ing pol-i-ti-cian now,
and ve-ry glad of that;
They call me a ti-ger since
I join’d the Dem-o-crats;

My house it is so crow-ded
I tore the pa-per off the wall,
I’m proud-er than the Pres-i-dent
since I joined Tam-man-y Hall.

[Verse 2]
Now that he is e-lec-ted,
of my board-ers all made fools,
For some of them bought hor-ses
and oth-ers hi-red mules;

They al-so hired a stab-le
where they con-gre-gate each night,
And ex-pect to meet Mc Car-thy,
but the black-guard’s out of sight;

They se-lected a com-mit-tee,
and a let-ter to him sent,
For none of them are work-ing
and I can-not pay my rent;

An oath they took they’d knife him
if he runs a-gain next fall,
Each mo-ment brings more troub-le
since I joined Tam-man-y Hall.

[Repeat chorus]

[Verse 3]
They’re cry-ing for satis-fac-tion,
they’re the dev-il’s own lot,
And just so soon they meet him,
he’ll find it rath-er hot,

For the butch-er and the land-lord
they all do want their bill,
If Mc Car-thy don’t show up to-night
there’ll be crape upon the hill,

In his speech he said his mot-to
was an old one tried and true;
“Do un-to oth-ers as you would
that they should do to you,”

He swore he’d keep his word
and took an oath by St. Paul,
But things have tak’n a hor-rid turn
since I joined Tam-man-y Hall.

[Repeat chorus]

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Hackgate, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice

You Can’t Fight Tammany Hall!

Pinkerton Agents

So screwen cold was it that Thomas Warne wondered what compelled him to marshall his men, and head down to the docks in the company of Allan Pinkerton. So cold was the air that the merest breeze seemed to rake his flesh and seep into his bones, yet he also felt mildly feverish and this discomfiting state of affairs left him feeling humiliated. That and the way his heart beat seventeen to the dozen as they neared the docks (skipping a beat as he espied the Resurgam, moored within the harbour). He felt shamed for here he was, about to ride in to the rescue of a woman who clearly didn’t need no rescuing! For a battle encounter with Kitty Grid-Iron was the equivalent of being tied to a ships hull and keel-hauled. If you were a border ruffian you hoped to survive the collision with life if not limb intact. But if you were a secessionist, unless might hisself – accompanied by a Gatling gun and several pistols -was on your side, survival was a tenuous option. The woman was thought by some to be the very devil when it came to meting out northern justice! For all that he loved her and would gladly have laid his life down for her, if she had ever asked!

“Tread carefully gentleman” warned Pinkerton, “Have your pistols at the ready, but we aren’t aiming for discord, there’s only watchmen and constables around this early in the day, and mayhap we will get our business done without so much as a shot being fired”

“Mayhap” murmured one Cletis Halliday under his breath,

“Then again maybe not” replied another. t’is all one to the men riding alongside him, who are so at ease that one could be forgiven for thinking that they meant no harm. Not so, for unlike Allan Pinkerton they harbour no slumbering moral sense, at the first sign of trouble they will draw and fire and the devil take the one who gets in their way! T’is the way of New York Harbour, where the constables and watchmen are allowed to steal all they can from those who won’t pay the Tammany Hall ‘tax’, and where those businessmen who try to take their ship’s cargo entire, are liable to wind up floating in the bay with a bullet in their backs, courtesy of the Tammany ‘taxmen’. As a consequence, Thomas Warne rode with his men when conducting business at the docks, and in that way he avoided the harsh bribes and most of the violence. As they continued to make their progress slowly along the harbour they perceived a wagon waiting to one side of the Resurgam and two burly men staggering under the weight of a carpet bag. This weighty encumbrance seemed to have taken on a life of it’s own, for it writhed and buckled as if for all the world there were a human being contained therein. At one point the men saw fit to drop the carpet bag heavily upon the dock, before picking it up once more and loading it into the back of the wagon. Thomas Warne and Allan Pinkerton looked at each other and then towards the two men who, muttering many salty curses, clambered into the back of the wagon.

“Is that the good English Lord they have bundled into that carpet bag?” asked Thomas Warne smiling grimly Pinkerton nodded,

“None other, though he may parade himself like an Englishman, and dress like an Englishman, he is most emphatically Irish, and it is as an Irishman remiss in his duties to his fellow Irishmen, that he shall be summarily tried (by his own people naturally), and either set free or executed!”

Soon two other figures appeared, one dark and slender, and the other dressed as becomes a New York gentlewoman, except that Thomas knew her skirts were artfully split to the waist so that she could run at a tilt, kneel, and fire several volleys off a rifle. Climbing aboard the front of the wagon and grabbing the reins they sought to leave the docks, but as if from nowhere men emerged one of whom took hold of the reins staying the horses progress.

“Remember what I said! No shooting less’n there’s a need!”

In no time at all they reached the Tammany thugs who, perceiving that there was nought but a woman and a ‘nigrah’ in the wagon, mistook Kitty for a blowen and were even now in the progress of trying to elicit a ‘tax’ from her ill-gotten gains.

“Gentlemen, I’ve no wish to interfere with your commerce, but this lady is under my charge, if you would be so kind?” the two ‘gentlemen’ cock their heads, narrow their eyes and reach for their pistols. In turn Thomas Warne’s men sliding nimbly off their stallions, cock their pistol hammers back and get ready to fire. The Tammany ‘taxmen’ look confused, nay offended, to shoot a businessman who won’t pay his taxes is permissible, but to be shot at? T’is the height of bad manners!

“Ain’t a man uses these docks don’t pay for the use!” they wail piteously,the vicious glare they cast at Kitty says more than words will tell,

“Till now” hissed Alan Pinkerton aiming his peacemaker at the thugs,”Step away from the wagon if you please sirs, farther thank you!”

Snatching the reins back Kitty jerks hard on them, driving her wagon out of there with all speed. With mounting rage the thwarted thugs aim to wound at least one of the malefactors and cause them to fall beneath the hooves of their horses. But as they cock their pistols at the ready, aim, and get ready to fire, they hear another click, and this one sounds altogether different from their own. T’is Methuselah O’Houlihan displaying his usual lack of grace toward Boss Tweed’s men.

“Make one more motion and I’ll put a hole in you so big they’ll have to pack your corpse with dirt before they bury it, now git!” one look in those rattle snake eyes is the end of all argument, they swiftly make their exit!

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Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire

Hell Hath No Fury Like A Goveeen Tenet Scorned!

london-1666

How unlike the paradise of which Sweet Gove spoke is this place! Heaps of smouldering iron litter the school grounds like the litterings of that hound of hell, Cerberus. The fragrant countryside air has long since fled and in its place? Dense smoke billowing out of the Iron-Slitting furnace and wreathing the cold grey stone of the chapel in it’s choking embrace. The grounds of Molten Tussock Academy may be likened to the very bowels of hell wherein that great beast – the spirit of Mammon- is said to abide, mired in the slough of despond, that place which impoverished Iron-Slitting apprentices are said to endure.

A second beast has arisen from that selfsame pit dear reader, but he is not as the first. For this one is a half-burned facsimile of a reverend of the Goveen Brotherhood, and one whose unbridled love for the tenets of Sweet Gove have unmanned him! Goveen adulation has altered him dear reader, and now here he stands,transformed from a spritely but naive youth to a pitiful ego fixated degenerate! Hunched over and limping towards the bell tower in his soot covered cassock, the far-from-saintly Reverend Tout Puissant is the very embodiment of vindictive malice…

Indeed, one doubts not that once he has climbed the bell tower and surmounted its pinnacle, all who have forsworn Goveen Matins will rue the day they were born!

“Bar the door Obed Plum! Bar it! Quickly now! The rapscallion is almost upon us! Can ye not hear him?” they all can, for t’is the bellowing, braying, rage of a crazed fanatic intent upon first seizing and then punishing his prey! T’is a scandal dear reader,a scandal and a disgrace! But once humility has fled (dragging reason along with it) who may say what will take its place?

 Now rocked from pillar to post by one violent explosion after another and now choked savagely by the vast plumes of smoke wreathing the chapel like a shroud the Iron-Slitting apprentices are terror stricken. But amongst them there is one who is not swayed, and dropping to his knees in a newly acquired attitude of prayer he speaks these words,

 “I am not nor ever was a churchgoing man but if ever we need thy help god, t’is now! HELP!!”

 By the standards of the tenets of Sweet Gove, his, is a succinct prayer (mercifully!), and is soon joined by dozens of others “Help us God! Send swift deliverance!”

Help is not long in coming, indeed it is almost at hand for look you, here is the UNION REP! Wrapped loosely in a cloak that has been drenched in water and struggling valiantly across the school grounds he stops just short of the tower, looking up he cannot see ought through the smoke, but he can hear the dim cries of Master Parnham and the apprentices.

“If ever we’ve needed thee Jehovah it is now!” the faint strains of mournful singing float down from that dismal place and in such a place as this! Where the fires rage and burn at every crevice and corner of the chapel, except at this one where the bell tower lies. Time wasted,thinks the Union Rep, is souls lost!

“Master Knowham! Have you the grappling hooks and the ropes!”

“Aye! I have em! Dear God we have arrived just in time!”

“Then let us begin!!”

Throwing off their sodden cloaks and rolling up their shirt sleeves the men throw up their grappling hooks until the hooks are fast secured upon the wall of that great bell tower. Their climb is an arduous one, many times are they tempted to turn back as the flames leap high beneath them and grey smoke billows above. But the desolate wails issuing forth from the tower compell them to tighten their grips on the soot blackened ropes and keep climbing,

“How goes it Master Knowham!”  the Union Rep yells though his voice can scarce be heard over the raging flames,

“Climb sir! Climb!” comes the reply, “There is no time to waste, climb or the boys are for it!” roars Master Knowham as he climbs fist over fist, doing all within his power to reach the top of the bell tower and his son before the flames do.

How best to describe the infernal vista Molten Tussock had become, best not to describe it, but to give thanks to the farmers of Molten Tussock minor, that humble village on the outskirts of Molten Tussock major. For on spying the smoke some distance from their village,  the alarm bells are rung  and the fire wagons rushed out speeding towards Molten Tussock as if for all the world the devil is at their heels. Oh how the flames sought to drive them back as they rushed to and fro in a frenzy seeking well water and pump water with which to put the fires out!

And all the while the terrible sound of braying issuing forth from within the chapel, “Ere but don’t that sound like-” says one farmer as he fills his bucket at the pump for the upteenth time, “The madman whats burned down iz own school with them poor kids in it?” replied another glaring balefully at the chapel door,”best to let mad men lie if you ask me! We’ve enuf to be going on with,more water?”

“Drive that wagon closer to the chapel! Man the pump boys! Man the pump!” the more the fire crackles and rages, the faster the men move, driving the wagons up against the base of the church and streaming water up and around till the ground is sodden and the bricks give off a vaporous mist.

“Climb damn ye! Keep climbing! We’re almost there!” hauling themselves over the wall of the bell tower the two men seek those pitiful souls whose wailing cries have urged them onto the rescue. See there huddled fast against the hot bricks, two dozen tormented apprentices pleading so loudly for deliverance that they can scarce believe their eyes when it arrives. Bundling them towards the wall and over it, Master Knowham tries to rescue Master Parnham, but just as he is about to do so the bell tower door buckles inward, and the Reverend Tout-Puissant staggers out of the smoky darkness.

“Where are they? Where are my charges?” but his apprentices have been swiftly bundled up in warm blankets and the wagons carrying them gallop as far away and as fast away as the stamina of the horses will allow!

“It’s you! T’is your infernal inspections that have unravelled all my good work!”

“Not I sir! Look roundabout you!” the farmers have done all they can, the blackened ruins of a farmhouse, the dying embers of the iron furnace, these are all that remain. The fire has swept over all, devoured all, all but the Goveen chapel towering oppressively over the bleak landscape.

“What should I do? What will I do? They are gone, all gone! My darling ones!” and with that the Reverend, staggering towards the bell tower wall, hurls himself over it.

“Shocking simply shocking!” declares Master Parnham who was as he has said, deeply troubled and shocked.

“Shocking and scandalous!” opined Master Knowham as he prepares to descend the bell tower once more.

“A ruinous waste of a perfectly good school, the Bow & Bromley Board shall hear of it!” declares the Union Rep gleefully.

For the Bow and Bromley Education Board had accompanied him on the journey down from London. So that they might inquire as to the disappearance of Master Parnham, however as soon as  the coach entered Molten Tussock village they had observed the blaze. And desiring to avoid all association with yet another Goveen scandal, they had retired to the village inn for the night. How appalled they would be once they’d heard all that had transpired, and how eager they would be to redeem their reputations by funding another Hesketh-Elderberry-McTavish Ragged School!

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Politics, Satire, Social Justice

Web To Weave Corn To Grind

(c) Simon Baines (great-grandson); Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Oh the grandeur and the picturesque charm of stormy waters, till one is caught in them! Having rustled through the cloven seas, having flirted with near oblivion, the Resurgam now lies safely harboured. The ship’s captain has resolved to have her seaworthy by the end of the week if he possibly can. He dare not stay there longer, for his orders are to surrender his illicit cargo and then to re-join Commander Fox and the SS Baltic which is bound for South Carolina.

How we gonna get that lunatic off this ship without the whole damn yard knowing? I purpose that we off load him tonight, once the coast is clear too much sleep has fled Kitty’s eyes this past week, the whole mission seems cursed and she cannot wait to be rid of the man she used to call husband.

Men full of more brawl than you have been press ganged on these docks, wait till the morrow. You’ll find a way then, for sure Nathaniel Keeler-Breeze watches her march back and forth restlessly and wonders why she doesn’t simply shoot the English gentleman, after all there are far more pressing matters.

A civil war is looming, as it undoubtedly had been since Lincoln the ‘nigger-lover’ had been elected president. The woman was a crack shot with any rifle you cared to hand her and had been an excellent spy, in his opinion abducting the puerile Englishman had been a waste of her time, she should have been left down south, putting the devil to them secessionists!

“Did you see the way they eyed us as we anchored?” Nathaniel shrugged, for it was known that the ‘Tammany Tiger’ ruled these docks. Still, even the Tammany beast could be made to roll over on its back and purr, if one knew how!

“I saw it, now get some sleep”

The ship lies silent as the grave (or a harpooned whale) and the crew are as the dead, the result of generous amounts of rum, mingled with physical exhaustion, that and a desperate desire to escape the sporadic sobs of Tobias Grid-Iron. Why, even a trans-atlantic mouse has paused momentarily in its hunt for food, to observe the wonder of an aristocrat weeping, over an inconsequential part of God’s creation!

Down in the hold, midst the remaining crates of sea biscuits and Rum, Francis stands guard, keeping an eye out for any river rats or dock thieves who might come upon the ship unawares. He is not alone, the Hindu Fakirs stand guard with him, so fond have they become of their Sudanese friend, who like the hunter he has been from his youth, walks alert and unblinking in the dark.

You were a hunter yes?” Navendra has wondered about this since it seems clear to him that Francis is a gentle and proper man, a most fastidious gentleman in matters of retribution but hardly bloodthirsty.

“Yes, I was a hunter

“But why hunt?

“ My master (Sultan Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim) was a devout Muslim and also a hunter of great repute, at ten years of age I attended him. On one of his most esteemed hunts I was one of ten runners dotted across the forests of Nederhiwi

“Why would a hunter require runners?” Francis smiled gravely,

“To lure out his prey…jaguars…sleek and able to move with such fluid grace and speed that to hesitate but for a moment was to assure one’s own entrance to Janna! I was careful and I was fast, so I survived, many others didn’t. When I was twelve I made my first kill.”

“What did you kill?”

“A beautiful gazelle, slender of carriage and fleet of foot, her name was Nuur Hamdi

“She sought freedom, the Sultan would not give it and so she fled. I was ranked high amongst the hunters so he sent me after her, through the jungles of the Nederhiwi. She was the first person I killed, but not the last.

“Oh” the Fakirs are horrified by his casual admission, to have slaughtered another enslaved human being? The consequences for his karma must have been disastrous!

“ I thought if I served Mehemet Ibrahim loyally, Allah might be kind to me. But one day an important man invited his Royal Highness to Alabama to give lectures, and I as his most reputed hunter was asked to go with him

The Sultan was asked to give a talk? On what?”

“The efficacy of the slave trade, several years before he had been petitioned by a Sufi sect, to end the abominable practice of enslaving Christians. He was reluctant to do so, and since he was both a philosopher and an intellectual he was able to expound convincingly as to why he should not. His arguments were so impressive that Jedidiah Kane Thickett invited him to Alabama to share his beliefs. The Sultan was so flattered to have been presented with such an invitation, that he presented him with one of his most prized possessions”

“Really? And what was it?”

“Me”

The three Indian gentlemen are horrified, a culture that barters human flesh as if it were a lump of gold or of ivory? And to such a one as Jedidiah Kane Thickett? The thought itself makes them shudder, for had they not observed the violent disposition of the man for themselves?

“How did you escape?”

I was stolen from him by Allan Pinkerton and given a choice, liberty or death! I chose liberty!”

A most worthy choice!

“I didn’t think so at the time, in fact I shudder to think of those days of my darkness. Allah has indeed been most kind.

The gentle lapping of the harbour waters, the intermittent hoot of owls and the hollow cries of harbour watchmen, who for a couple of dollars will turn a blind eye to river rats regardless of what they are supposed to do. These sounds garner the attention of Francis and the Fakirs as they stand guard in companionable silence.

“Liberty or death that is an honourable saying” replies Navendra

“An honourable choice also” remarks Amjal

“Oh villainy of villainies that ever the sultan should have betrayed me thus! To have surrendered me to the most brutal calumnies of one whose depravity knew no bounds! To have left me to drown beneath that vast wave of moral pollution they called slavery! But Allah has been merciful to me, I shall endeavour as best I can to reward the life who redeemed mine and when the time comes I shall take the revenge I have purposed upon!

“Yours is a terrible, terrible tale, I wonder that in the midst of your trials you did not succumb to lunacy, but as you say the gods are most kind”

“And what of you? How did you survive the massacre of Jhansi?”

In the darkness they tilt their heads one to another as if communing without words, they are silent and the silence is as dense and as comforting as velvet.

“One day my friend, when the thoughts are less painful, perhaps we shall tell”

“Yes” agrees Francis, thinking of the aristocratic dolt below deck, whose cruelty caused their suffering “Perhaps, one day”.

Francis Page

Francis Page

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