MY FRIENDS: I am informed that you have assembled here this afternoon under the impression that I had made an appointment to speak at this time. This is a mistake. I have made no such appointment. More or less persons have been gathering here at different times during the day, and in the exuberance of their feeling, and for all of which they are greatly justified, calling upon me to say something; and I have, from time to time, been sending out what I supposed was proper to disperse them for the present. [Laughter and applause.]
I said to a larger audience this morning what I desire now to repeat. It is this: That I supposed in consequence of the glorious news we have been receiving lately, there is to be some general demonstration, either on this or to-morrow evening, when I will be expected, I presume, to say something. Just here I will remark that I would much prefer having this demonstration take place to-morrow evening, as I would then be much better prepared to say what I have to say than I am now or can be this evening. [A voice—”And we will then have heard from Johnston.”]
I therefore say to you that I shall be quite willing, and I hope ready, to say something then; whereas just now I am not ready to say anything that one in my position ought to say. Everything I say, you know, goes into print. [Laughter and applause.] If I make a mistake it doesn’t merely affect me nor you but the country. I, therefore, ought at least try not to make mistakes. [Voices—”You have made no mistakes yet.”]
If, then, a general demonstration be made to-morrow evening, and it is agreeable, I will endeavor to say something, and not make a mistake, without at least trying carefully to avoid it. [Laughter and applause.] Thanking you for the compliment of this call, I bid you good evening.
“FELLOW CITIZENS: I am very greatly rejoiced to find that an occasion has occurred so pleasurable that the people cannot restrain themselves. [Cheers.] I suppose that arrangements are being made for some sort of a formal demonstration, this, or perhaps, to-morrow night. [Cries of ’We can’t wait,’ ’We want it now,’ &c.] If there should be such a demonstration, I, of course, will be called upon to respond, and I shall have nothing to say if you dribble it all out of me before. [Laughter and applause.] I see you have a band of music with you. [Voices, ’We have two or three.’] I propose closing up this interview by the band performing a particular tune which I will name. Before this is done, however, I wish to mention one or two little circumstances connected with it. I have always thought ’Dixie’ one of the best tunes I have ever heard. Our adversaries over the way attempted to appropriate it, but I insisted yesterday that we fairly captured it. [Applause.] I presented the question to the Attorney General, and he gave it as his legal opinion that it is our lawful prize. [Laughter and applause.] I now request the band to favor me with its performance.”