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- Senator North - 1/56 -


SENATOR NORTH

BY GERTRUDE ATHERTON

_"When, Mr. President, a man, however eminent in other pursuits and whatever claims he may have to public confidence, becomes a member of this body, he has much to learn and much to endure. Little does he know of what he will have to encounter. He may be well read in public affairs, but he is unaware of the difficulties which must attend and embarrass every effort to render what he may know available and useful. He may be upright in purpose and strong in the belief of his own integrity, but he cannot even dream of the ordeal to which he cannot fail to be exposed; of how much courage he must possess to resist the temptations which must daily beset him; of that sensitive shrinking from undeserved censure which he must learn to control; of the ever recurring contest between a natural desire for public approbation and a sense of public duty; of the load of injustice he must be content to bear even from those who should be his friends; the imputations on his motives; the sneers and sarcasms of ignorance and malice; all the manifold injuries which partisan or private malignity, disappointed of its object, may shower upon his unprotected head. All this, if he would retain his integrity, he must learn to ear unmoved and walk steadily onward in the path of public duty, sustained only by the reflection that time may do him justice; or if not, that his individual hopes and aspirations and even his name among men should be of little account to him when weighed in the balance of a people of whose destiny he is a constituted guardian and defender."_ --WILLIAM PITT FESSENDEN

_In memorial address before the Senate, 1866._ _Miss Betty Madison embarks on the Political Sea. Her Discoveries, Surprises, and Triumphs._

SENATOR NORTH

I

"If we receive this Lady Mary Montgomery, we shall also have to receive her dreadful husband."

"He is said to be quite charming."

"He is a Representative!"

"Of course they are all wild animals to you, but one or two have been pointed out to me that looked quite like ordinary gentlemen--really."

"Possibly. But no person in official life has ever entered my house. I do not feel inclined to break the rule merely because the wife of one of the most objectionable class is an Englishwoman with a title. I think it very inconsiderate of Lady Barnstaple to have given her a letter to us."

"Lee, never having lived in Washington, doubtless fancies, like the rest of the benighted world, that its officials are its aristocracy. The Senate of the United States is regarded abroad as a sort of House of Peers. One has to come and live in Washington to hear of the 'Old Washingtonians,' the 'cave-dwellers,' as Sally calls us; I expected to see a coat of blue mould on each of them when I returned."

"Really, Betty, I do not understand you this morning." Mrs. Madison moved uneasily and took out her handkerchief. When her daughter's rich Southern voice hardened itself to sarcasm, and her brilliant hazel eyes expressed the brain in a state of cold analysis, Mrs. Madison braced herself for a contest in which she inevitably must surrender with what slow dignity she could command. Betty had called her Molly since she was fourteen months old, and, sweet and gracious in small matters, invariably pursued her own way when sufficiently roused by the strength of a desire. Mrs. Madison, however, kept up the fiction of an authority which she thought was due to herself and her ancestors. She continued impatiently,--

"You have been standing before that fireplace for ten minutes with your shoulders thrown back as if you were going to make a speech. It is not a nice attitude for a girl at all, and I wish you would sit down. I hope you don't think that because Sally Carter crosses her knees and cultivates a brutal frankness of expression you must do the same now that you have dropped all your friends of your own age and become intimate with her. I suppose she is old enough to do as she chooses, and she always was eccentric."

"She is only eight years older than I. You forget that I shall be twenty-seven in three months."

"Well, that is no reason why you should stand before the fireplace like a man. Do sit down."

"I'd rather stand here till I've said what is necessary--if you don't mind. I am sorry to be obliged to say it, and I can assure you that I have not made up my mind in a moment."

"What is it, for heaven's sake?"

Mrs. Madison drew a short breath and readjusted her cushions. In spite of her wealth and exalted position she had known much trouble and grief. Her first six children had died in their early youth. Her husband, brilliant and charming, had possessed a set of affections too restless and ardent to confine themselves within the domestic limits. His wife had buried him with sorrow, but with a deep sigh of relief that for the future she could mourn him without torment. He had belonged to a collateral branch of a family of which her father had been the heir; consequently the old Madison house in Washington was hers, as well as a large fortune. Harold Madison had been free to spend his own inheritance as he listed, and he had left but a fragment. Mrs. Madison's nerves, never strong, had long since given way to trouble and ill-health, and when her active strong-willed daughter entered her twentieth year, she gladly permitted her to become the mistress of the household and to think for both. Betty had been educated by private tutors, then taken abroad for two years, to France, Germany, and Italy, in order, as she subsequently observed, to make the foreign attache. Feel more at ease when he proposed. Her winters thereafter until the last two had been spent in Washington, where she had been a belle and ranked as a beauty. In the fashionable set it was believed that every attache, in the city had proposed to her, as well as a large proportion of the old beaux and of the youths who pursue the business of Society. Her summers she spent at her place in the Adirondacks, at Northern watering-places, or in Europe; and the last two years had been passed, with brief intervals of Paris and Vienna, in England, where she had been presented with distinction and seen much of country life. She had returned with her mother to Washington but a month ago, and since then had spent most of her time in her room or on horseback, breaking all her engagements after the first ten days. Mrs. Madison had awaited the explanation with deep uneasiness. Did her daughter, despite the health manifest in her splendid young figure, feel the first chill of some mortal disease? She had not been her gay self for months, and although her complexion was of that magnolia tint which never harbours colour, it seemed to the anxious maternal eye, looking back to six young graves, a shade whiter than it should. Or had she fallen in love with an Englishman, and hesitated to speak, knowing her mother's love for Washington and bare tolerance of the British Isles? She looked askance at Betty, who stood tapping the front of her habit with her crop and evidently waiting for her mother to express some interest. Mrs. Madison closed her eyes. Betty therefore continued,--

"I see you are afraid I am going to marry an Oriental minister or something. I hear that one is looking for an American with a million. Well, I am going to do something you will think even worse. I am going in for politics."

"You are going to do what?" Mrs. Madison's voice was nearly inaudible between relief and horrified surprise, but her eyes flew open. "Do you mean that you are going to vote?--or run for Congress?--but women don't sit in Congress, do they?"

"Of course not. Do you know I think it quite shocking that we have lived here in the very brain of the United States all our lives and know less of politics than if we were Indians in Alaska? I was ashamed of myself, I can assure you, when Lord Barnstaple asked me so many questions the first time I visited Maundrell Abbey. He took for granted, as I lived in Washington, I must be thoroughly well up in politics, and I was obliged to tell him that although I had occasionally been in the room with one or two Senators and Cabinet Ministers, who happened to be in Society first and politics afterward, I didn't know the others by name, had never put my foot in the White House or the Capitol, and that no one I knew ever thought of talking politics. He asked me what I had done with myself during all the winters I had spent in Washington, and I told him that I had had the usual girls'-good-time,--teas, theatre, Germans, dinners, luncheons, calls, calls, calls! I was glad to add that I belonged to several charities and had read a great deal; but that did not seem to interest him. Well, I met a good many men like Lord Barnstaple, men who were in public life. Some of them were dull enough, judged by the feminine standard, but even they occasionally said something to remember, and others were delightful. This is the whole point--I can't and won't go back to what I left here two years ago. My day for platitudes and pouring tea for men, who are contemptible enough to make Society their profession, is over. I am going to know the real men of my country. It is incredible that there are not men in that Senate as well worth talking to as any I met in England. The other day I picked up a bound copy of the Congressional Record in a book-shop. It was frantically interesting."

"It must have been! But, my dear--of course I understand, darling, your desire for a new intellectual occupation; you always were so clever--but you can't, you really can't know these men. They are--they are--politicians. We never have known politicians. They are dreadful people, who have come from low origins and would probably call me 'marm.'"

"You are all wrong, Molly. I bought a copy of the Congressional Directory a day or two ago, and have read the biography of every Senator. Nine-tenths of them are educated men; if only a few attended the big Universities, the rest went to the colleges of their State. That is enough for an American of brains. And most of them are lawyers; others served in the war, and several have distinguished records. They cannot be boors, whether they have blue blood in them or


Senator North - 1/56

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