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Parks, whereas we have most gladly awarded, again and again, the full meed of praise to Henry G. Stebbins as the head of the same department.
Some urged against Mr. O'Brien that he was an uneducated man; and none are more opposed to investing the uneducated with power than we. But we thought then, and still think, that if Mr. Havemeyer has any more education or book knowledge than Mr. O'Brien the difference is very slight indeed. It was said, as a triumphant argument against the latter, that he could not write his own messages. Assuming this to be true, is not the same true of the former? Mayor Havemeyer's first message as a reformer is by no means a finished production, but an exceedingly crude, self-contradictory affair. Such as it is, however, our honest chief magistrate could no more have written it than he could have written Schiller's Wallenstein, or Dante's Divina Commedia.
We were told further that because Mr. O'Brien is not an educated man he is defective in taste and discrimination, and would, therefore, be as likely to nominate for office a disreputable man as a man whose reputation is good. This seemed logical enough. Suppose we accept it as literally true, still may we not ask, with all due respect to the powers that be," would it not have puzzled Mr. O'Brien or anybody else to hit on one whose appointment would cause more scandal among all decent people who have any knowledge of the character of that distinguished individual than Mr. Oliver Charlick? If any doubt this they need not go back to the time when Mr. Charlick kept rather a low groggery, sold bad whiskey at three cents a glass, and gave a dozen such glasses, on an average, in exchange for a vote. It is altogether superfluous to make any researches among the squalid denizens of the back streets to learn who Mr. Charlick is. All that is necessary is to venture on a tour or two to Greenpoint, on the Long Island railroad, taking two or three trunks of ordinary size, and, stopping at two or three stations on the way, to have a social chat with the inhabitants. It may be that there has been a "reform" there too within the last two or thrce weeks, but, if not, no one capable of being convinced can make the experiment suggested without being forced to admit, however extensive his experience as a traveller may be, that by no railroad company in Europe or America has he been more shamefully cheated than by the Charlick company. However, there are some who, while they do not scruple to exact all they can from strangers or transient customers, stopping at nothing short of downright robbery, treat their
regular customers in a manner tolerably decent. But for seven years past Mr. Charlick has persistently been grossly misrepresented by the people of Long Island, from one end of his road to the other, if a more heartless or more unscrupulous extortioner has ever been foisted on any community by the avenging gods.
Our readers may now judge whether the appointment of a man like Mr. Charlick to so important an office as that of police commissioner, especially when considered in connection with other appointments not much, if anything, better, does not show that we said quite as much in favor of our present chief magistrate as truth and impartial fairness would justify when we wrote, in September last : "For aught we know, Mr. Havemeyer is an honest man; we believe he means well.”*
* It seems that the old commissioner of jurors remains in office after all -at least, that he can do so if he choose. This, however, is not the fault of Mayor Havemeyer, for he lost no time in nominating a new man to take his place. Nor were his Honor's friends in the legislature and those of Comptroller Green less willing to do their part of the work of setting aside Douglas Taylor in order to make room for a person of the proper kidney. But it seems that in their anxiety to give satisfaction in other particulars, so as to secure as much as they could of the spoils of “reform,” they forgot to insert the name of the commissioner of jurors among those condemned to retirement.
Some feel much disappointed at this, and affect to regard it as a formidable obstacle to reform. But what sin has Mr. Taylor committed ? We ask this question because we are not of those who condemn any man on account of the party or clique to which he happens to belong. It is well known that none denounced Tammany men earlier or more unsparingly than we; but first or last we have denounced only the bad-only those who have subsequently proved to the world that they deserved to be denounced.
We have never denounced or condemned Douglas Taylor, because we could never see that there was any just reason why we should. We have abstained in his case for the same reason that we have abstained in that of Matthew T. Brennan, or that of Joseph S. Bosworth. The two latter as well as the former have been abused from time to time by their political opponents. But we who are not politicians, much less partisans, have never abused them. Nay, for many years we have felt that they deserved approbation much more than censure, not knowing of a single instance in which each did not perform his duty faithfully and honestly. It is because we do not pause for one moment to inquire whether men of this character belong, or have belonged, to Tammany Hall, or any other Hall, that we rejoice rather than grieve to learn that Mr. Douglas Taylor may remain in office or retire, just as he feels disposed; and we believe there are few, if any, disinterested, impartial men that know his real character who will not view the turn his case seems to have taken in the same favorable light.
This, however, we allow to stand yet awhile, only subjoin-. ing to it another observation, which we made in the same article, in summing up Mr. Havemeyer's claims: “ We merely remark, that to have been an indifferent mayor several years ago, and an indifferent chairman of a reform committee one year ago or less, are not sufficient reasons to expect that he would prove anything more or better than an indifferent mayor, if elected now.”
While we penned this observation there were those who landed Mr. Havemeyer to the skies as just the right man to be placed at the head of a reform government. The same parties proclaim now that they are both disappointed and disgusted; we only think that they should also feel a little ashamed of their former ill-judged enthusiasm. But, after we had given our impressions of Mr. Havemeyer, in September last, we proceeded to give our estimate of another aspirant as follows:
“But he would be a Solon and a Lycurgus combined, if that were possible, compared to Andrew H. Green. No one who has given any intelligent attention to the course of Mr. Green as comptroller can conscientiously say, either that he is an honest man, or that he means
When this was written Mr. Green was a model of honesty in the newspapers, although nine out of ten of those who continued to say so in public found it difficult to decide for themselves, in private, whether, after all the great“ reformer' was not more a knave than a fool. The importance of this problem will be the more apparent when it is remembered that he had now so far made himself ridicuious by his puerile, ill-tempered spites and jealousies, and by his interminable law suits at the expense of the city, that even those of his friends whose interests had made them most blind to his faults could not help regarding him only as an imbecile placed by chance in power, which made his head dizzy, and caused him, in this half idiotic, half phrenetic state, to perform such strange antics. In short, the general opinion was that even should he succeed in securing his election on the old plan of buying up as many votes as possible, with the money of the taxpayers, the writ de lunico inquirendo should issue in proper form in his case. George Francis Train was nearly as absurd and boisterous then, and as great a nuisance, as ever. But if Mr. Train was insane, at least he had lucid intervals; but if Mr. Green has ever had a lucid interval from the day he was placed in the Comptroller's office by his friends, Richard B. Connolly, William F. Havemeyer et al., to the present moment, the fact has escaped our observation. At all events, the newspapers still clung to the old story, worse than threadbare as it had become. This seemed to us quite a strange phenomenon, and we took the liberty to refer to it thus:
* Nat. Quar. Rev., No. L. Art.“ Our Candidates as Reformers, Genuine and Spurious," p. 373.
“Who has not seen in several papers such ‘notices' as the following: The Hon. Andrew H. Green, our honest and able comptroller, delivered a neat speech yesterday,' etc. ; “That little speech delivered by our excellent comptroller on Saturday was in the right vein,' etc., etc. ? Then those who watched the proceedings of the Board of Audit for the next week were pretty sure to learn that the paper which spoke so handsomely had its claim of $20,000, $15,000, or at least $10,000, allowed and ordered to be paid !""*
But here we can only reproduce the lighter shades of the picture. Those wishing to examine the deeper in order to decide for themselves how faithful, or unfaithful, they are to nature must turn to our first sketch. We will, however, snatch from it another little fragment. The following lines from the “Monody”—a sort of miniature accompanying the larger portrait-were considered last September, by most persons acquainted with the subject, as containing much more truth than poetry:
Art. “Our Candidates as Reformers, Genuine
* Nat. Quar. Rev., No. L. and Spurious,” pp. 734–5.
“Nor thief, nor Thug is Andy Green,
But a 'reformer' true I ween!
It is almost superfluous to say, that the champions of “our excellent comptroller,” as well as that distinguished functionary himself, were highly indignant at our whole tableau. The number of our journal containing it had not been issued more than two or three days, when several letters and editorial articles published in certain city papers were enclosed to us in as many envelops; all addressed in the same handwriting, those documents, bristling with such headings, in large capitals as, “A faithful public officer --Andrew H. Green.” “What an honest incorruptible public officer can do in a dangerous crisis,” etc., etc. It
may be easily imagined how eulogistic was the style of the letters and articles thus headed. We have preserved one or two of them as curiosities. If they are entitled to the slightest credit, all the great financial ministers of ancient and modern times were the inost stupid blunderers or the most arrant thieves compared to Andrew H. Green, who must henceforth, forever, be regarded as the model financier of the world—the only high functionary whose profound knowledge of political economy, and statesmanship, is equal to his unpurchasable honesty !
All would not do, however. No party, clique, or cabal was silly and daring enough to nominate him for the mayoralty, the lion's skin having become completely shattered at this time. It is said that at this crisis Col. Stebbins called his attention, out of pity, to the fable of the Lydian mule as related by Plutarch in “ The Banquet of the Seven Wise Men.” The