For those of you who read what I wrote yesterday about A.J. Liebling and had your curiosity piqued, here’s an excerpt from The Earl of Louisiana, plucked from my electronic commonplace book. It’s too long to be an almanac entry, but it deserves to be quoted, as they say, in extenso, so here you are.
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For one thing, the expression of conventional indignation is not so customary in Louisiana as farther north. The Louisianans, like Levantines, think it naive. A pillar of the Baton Rouge economy, whom I shall here call Cousin Horace, had given me an illustration, from his own youth, of why this is so.
“When I was a young man, fresh out of Tulane,” he said, “I was full of civic consciousness. I joined with a number of like-minded reformers to raise a fund to bribe the Legislature to impeach Huey [Long]. To insure that the movement had a broad popular base, subscriptions were limited to one thousand dollars. When I went to my father, who was rich as cream, to collect his ante, I couldn’t get but five hundred from him–he said he felt kind of skeptical. So I put up a thousand for me and the other five hundred for him. I wouldn’t pass up a chance to give the maximum for such a good cause.
“A vote of two-thirds of each house was needed to impeach, and there were then thirty-nine state senators. But before our chairman could see ehough of them, Huey induced fifteen–a third plus two–to sign a round robin stating they would not impeach no matter what the evidence was. Earl says now that he thought of that scheme. We were licked, so I went around to the eminent reform attorney who was treasurer of our enterprise and asked for my money back.
“‘Son,'” he said,