While campaigning in Iowa Speaker Cannon was once inveigled into visiting the public schools of a town where he was billed to speak. In one of the lower grades an ambitious teacher called upon a youthful Demosthenes to entertain the distinguished visitor with an exhibition of amateur oratory. The selection attempted was Byron's "Battle of Waterloo," and just as the boy reached the end of the first paragraph Speaker Cannon gave vent to a violent sneeze. "But, hush! hark!" declaimed the youngster; "a deep sound strikes like a rising knell! Did ye not hear it?"
The visitors smiled and a moment later the second sneeze—which the Speaker was vainly trying to hold back—came with increased violence.
"But, hark!" bawled the boy, "that heavy sound breaks in once more, and nearer, clearer, deadlier than before! Arm! arm! it is—it is—the cannon's opening roar!"
This was too much, and the laugh that broke from the party swelled to a roar when "Uncle Joe" chuckled: "Put up yout weapons, children; I won't shoot any more."