Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 08.djvu/131

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
Prison Life at Fort McHenry.

experiences of reason? and was just proceeding to launch out upon this question when the president very blandly interposed with the statement that he had slightly wandered from the question, which had nothing to do with a priori or a posteori, but was a question as to the true basis of legislation.

The speaker bowed politely, though it was evident that he was very much disconcerted, and, being a passionate man, somewhat angered. He said, however, pleasantly that if the president would bear with him for a moment he would convince him that his wandering from the question was only apparent and not real; that the president well remembered the two great ethical schools of Europe at the close of the last century, the one having its highest exponent in Paley, whose cardinal doctrine was that expediency was the sole ground of right; the other in Reid, the great master of the intuitional or common sense school. He was proceeding most eloquently to defend the intuitional school, when the president again called him to order. This time the rising storm of anger was apparent, but he checked it, righted himself gallantly and made a third sally and a fourth, only each time to be interrupted by the mild voice of the president, and to be provoked by a suppressed titter in the audience, until at length, when for the fourth time the president had interfered, he turned with flushed face, his eyes fairly flashing fire, and exclaimed, "But I say, sir, I am in order." "But I say, sir," said the president, "you are not in order." "Then, sir," said he, advancing and bringing his clenched fist down in a menacing attitude, "I would like to know what in the thunder you call being in order?"

The explosion that followed put an end to the discussion for the evening. The committee on questions felt it necessary for a little while to avoid the presence of the "second affirmative," but his good nature soon got the better of him, and he laughed as heartily as any of us over the joke at his expense.