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Sketches New and Old by Mark Twain

Sketches New and Old by Mark Twain

Sketches New and Old by Mark Twain



































































I have scattered through this volume a mass of matter which has never

been in print before (such as “Learned Fables for Good Old Boys and

Girls,” the “Jumping Frog restored to the English tongue after martyrdom

in the French,” the “Membranous Croup” sketch, and many others which I

need not specify): not doing this in order to make an advertisement of

it, but because these things seemed instructive.




MY WATCH–[Written about 1870.]


My beautiful new watch had run eighteen months without losing or gaining,

and without breaking any part of its machinery or stopping. I had come

to believe it infallible in its judgments about the time of day, and to

consider its constitution and its anatomy imperishable. But at last, one

night, I let it run down. I grieved about it as if it were a recognized

messenger and forerunner of calamity. But by and by I cheered up, set

the watch by guess, and commanded my bodings and superstitions to depart.

Next day I stepped into the chief jeweler’s to set it by the exact time,

and the head of the establishment took it out of my hand and proceeded to

set it for me. Then he said, “She is four minutes slow-regulator wants

pushing up.” I tried to stop him–tried to make him understand that the

watch kept perfect time. But no; all this human cabbage could see was

that the watch was four minutes slow, and the regulator must be pushed up

a little; and so, while I danced around him in anguish, and implored him

to let the watch alone, he calmly and cruelly did the shameful deed. My

watch began to gain. It gained faster and faster day by day. Within the

week it sickened to a raging fever, and its pulse went up to a hundred

and fifty in the shade. At the end of two months it had left all the

timepieces of the town far in the rear, and was a fraction over thirteen

days ahead of the almanac. It was away into November enjoying the snow,

while the October leaves were still turning. It hurried up house rent,

bills payable, and such things, in such a ruinous way that I could not

abide it. I took it to the watchmaker to be regulated. He asked me if I

had ever had it repaired. I said no, it had never needed any repairing.

He looked a look of vicious happiness and eagerly pried the watch open,

and then put a small dice-box into his eye and peered into its machinery.

He said it wanted cleaning and oiling, besides regulating–come in a

week. After being cleaned and oiled, and regulated, my watch slowed down

to that degree that it ticked like a tolling bell. I began to be left by

trains, I failed all appointments, I got to missing my dinner; my watch

strung out three days’ grace to four and let me go to protest;

I gradually drifted back into yesterday, then day before, then into last

week, and by and by the comprehension came upon me that all solitary and

alone I was lingering along in week before last, and the world was out of

sight. I seemed to detect in myself a sort of sneaking fellow-feeling

for the mummy in the museum, and a desire to swap news with him. I went

to a watchmaker again. He took the watch all to pieces while I waited,

and then said the barrel was “swelled.” He said he could reduce it in

three days. After this the watch averaged well, but nothing more. For

half a day it would go like the very mischief, and keep up such a barking

and wheezing and whooping and sneezing and snorting, that I could not

hear myself think for the disturbance; and as long as it held out there

was not a watch in the land that stood any chance against it. But the

rest of the day it would keep on slowing down and fooling along until all

the clocks it had left behind caught up again. So at last, at the end of

twenty-four hours, it would trot up to the judges’ stand all right and

just in time. It would show a fair and square average, and no man could

say it had done more or less than its duty. But a correct average is

only a mild virtue in a watch, and I took this instrument to another

watchmaker. He said the king-bolt was broken. I said I was glad it was

nothing more serious. To tell the plain truth, I had no idea what the

king-bolt was, but I did not choose to appear ignorant to a stranger.

He repaired the king-bolt, but what the watch gained in one way it lost

in another. It would run awhile and then stop awhile, and then run

awhile again, and so on, using its own discretion about the intervals.

And every time it went off it kicked back like a musket. I padded my

breast for a few days, but finally took the watch to another watchmaker.

He picked it all to pieces, and turned the ruin over and over under his

glass; and then he said there appeared to be something the matter with

the hair-trigger. He fixed it, and gave it a fresh start. It did well

now, except that always at ten minutes to ten the hands would shut

together like a pair of scissors, and from that time forth they would

travel together. The oldest man in the world could not make head or tail

of the time of day by such a watch, and so I went again to have the thing

repaired. This person said that the crystal had got bent, and that the

mainspring was not straight. He also remarked that part of the works

needed half-soling. He made these things all right, and then my

timepiece performed unexceptionably, save that now and then, after

working along quietly for nearly eight hours, everything inside would let

go all of a sudden and begin to buzz like a bee, and the hands would

straightway begin to spin round and round so fast that their

individuality was lost completely, and they simply seemed a delicate

spider’s web over the face of the watch. She would reel off the next

twenty-four hours in six or seven minutes, and then stop with a bang.

I went with a heavy heart to one more watchmaker, and looked on while he

took her to pieces. Then I prepared to cross-question him rigidly, for

this thing was getting serious. The watch had cost two hundred dollars

originally, and I seemed to have paid out two or three thousand for

repairs. While I waited and looked on I presently recognized in this

watchmaker an old acquaintance–a steamboat engineer of other days, and

not a good engineer, either. He examined all the parts carefully, just

as the other watchmakers had done, and then delivered his verdict with

the same confidence of manner.

He said:

“She makes too much steam-you want to hang the monkey-wrench on the


I brained him on the spot, and had him buried at my own expense.

My uncle William (now deceased, alas!) used to say that a good horse was,

a good horse until it had run away once, and that a good watch was a good

watch until the repairers got a chance at it. And he used to wonder what

became of all the unsuccessful tinkers, and gunsmiths, and shoemakers,

and engineers, and blacksmiths; but nobody could ever tell him.


Political Economy is the basis of all good government. The wisest

men of all ages have brought to bear upon this subject the–

[Here I was interrupted and informed that a stranger wished to see me

down at the door. I went and confronted him, and asked to know his

business, struggling all the time to keep a tight rein on my seething

political-economy ideas, and not let them break away from me or get

tangled in their harness. And privately I wished the stranger was in the

bottom of the canal with a cargo of wheat on top of him. I was all in a

fever, but he was cool. He said he was sorry to disturb me, but as he

was passing he noticed that I needed some lightning-rods. I said, “Yes,

yes–go on–what about it?” He said there was nothing about it, in

particular–nothing except that he would like to put them up for me.

I am new to housekeeping; have been used to hotels and boarding-houses

all my life. Like anybody else of similar experience, I try to appear

(to strangers) to be an old housekeeper; consequently I said in an

offhand way that I had been intending for some time to have six or eight

lightning-rods put up, but–The stranger started, and looked inquiringly

at me, but I was serene. I thought that if I chanced to make any

mistakes, he would not catch me by my countenance. He said he would

rather have my custom than any man’s in town. I said, “All right,” and

started off to wrestle with my great subject again, when he called me

back and said it would be necessary to know exactly how many “points” I

wanted put up, what parts of the house I wanted them on, and what quality

of rod I preferred. It was close quarters for a man not used to the

exigencies of housekeeping; but I went through creditably, and he

probably never suspected that I was a novice. I told him to put up eight

“points,” and put them all on the roof, and use the best quality of rod.

He said he could furnish the “plain” article at 20 cents a foot;

“coppered,” 25 cents; “zinc-plated spiral-twist,” at 30 cents, that would

stop a streak of lightning any time, no matter where it was bound, and

“render its errand harmless and its further progress apocryphal.” I said

apocryphal was no slouch of a word, emanating from the source it did,

but, philology aside, I liked the spiral-twist and would take that brand.

Then he said he could make two hundred and fifty feet answer; but to do

it right, and make the best job in town of it, and attract the admiration

of the just and the unjust alike, and compel all parties to say they

never saw a more symmetrical and hypothetical display of lightning-rods

since they were born, he supposed he really couldn’t get along without

four hundred, though he was not vindictive, and trusted he was willing to

try. I said, go ahead and use four hundred, and make any kind of a job

he pleased out of it, but let me get back to my work. So I got rid of

him at last; and now, after half an hour spent in getting my train of

political-economy thoughts coupled together again, I am ready to go on

once more.]

richest treasures of their genius, their experience of life, and

their learning. The great lights of commercial jurisprudence,

international confraternity, and biological deviation, of all ages,

all civilizations, and all nationalities, from Zoroaster down to

Horace Greeley, have–

[Here I was interrupted again, and required to go down and confer further

with that lightning-rod man. I hurried off, boiling and surging with

prodigious thoughts wombed in words of such majesty that each one of them

was in itself a straggling procession of syllables that might be fifteen

minutes passing a given point, and once more I confronted him–he so calm

and sweet, I so hot and frenzied. He was standing in the contemplative

attitude of the Colossus of Rhodes, with one foot on my infant tuberose,

and the other among my pansies, his hands on his hips, his hat-brim

tilted forward, one eye shut and the other gazing critically and

admiringly in the direction of my principal chimney. He said now there

was a state of things to make a man glad to be alive; and added, “I leave

it to you if you ever saw anything more deliriously picturesque than

eight lightning-rods on one chimney?” I said I had no present

recollection of anything that transcended it. He said that in his

opinion nothing on earth but Niagara Falls was superior to it in the way

of natural scenery. All that was needed now, he verily believed, to make

my house a perfect balm to the eye, was to kind of touch up the other

chimneys a little, and thus “add to the generous ‘coup d’oeil’ a soothing

uniformity of achievement which would allay the excitement naturally

consequent upon the ‘coup d’etat.'” I asked him if he learned to talk

out of a book, and if I could borrow it anywhere? He smiled pleasantly,

and said that his manner of speaking was not taught in books, and that

nothing but familiarity with lightning could enable a man to handle his

conversational style with impunity. He then figured up an estimate, and

said that about eight more rods scattered about my roof would about fix

me right, and he guessed five hundred feet of stuff would do it; and

added that the first eight had got a little the start of him, so to

speak, and used up a mere trifle of material more than he had calculated

on–a hundred feet or along there. I said I was in a dreadful hurry,

and I wished we could get this business permanently mapped out, so that I

could go on with my work. He said, “I could have put up those eight

rods, and marched off about my business–some men would have done it.

But no; I said to myself, this man is a stranger to me, and I will die

before I’ll wrong him; there ain’t lightning-rods enough on that house,

and for one I’ll never stir out of my tracks till I’ve done as I would be

done by, and told him so. Stranger, my duty is accomplished; if the

recalcitrant and dephlogistic messenger of heaven strikes your–”

“There, now, there,” I said, “put on the other eight–add five hundred

feet of spiral-twist–do anything and everything you want to do; but calm

your sufferings, and try to keep your feelings where you can reach them

with the dictionary. Meanwhile, if we understand each other now, I will

go to work again.”

I think I have been sitting here a full hour this time, trying to get

back to where I was when my train of thought was broken up by the last

interruption; but I believe I have accomplished it at last, and may

venture to proceed again.]

wrestled with this great subject, and the greatest among them have

found it a worthy adversary, and one that always comes up fresh and

smiling after every throw. The great Confucius said that he would

rather be a profound political economist than chief of police.

Cicero frequently said that political economy was the grandest

consummation that the human mind was capable of consuming; and even

our own Greeley had said vaguely but forcibly that “Political–

[Here the lightning-rod man sent up another call for me. I went down in

a state of mind bordering on impatience. He said he would rather have

died than interrupt me, but when he was employed to do a job, and that

job was expected to be done in a clean, workmanlike manner, and when it

was finished and fatigue urged him to seek the rest and recreation he

stood so much in need of, and he was about to do it, but looked up and

saw at a glance that all the calculations had been a little out, and if a

thunder-storm were to come up, and that house, which he felt a personal

interest in, stood there with nothing on earth to protect it but sixteen

lightning-rods–“Let us have peace!” I shrieked. “Put up a hundred and

fifty! Put some on the kitchen! Put a dozen on the barn! Put a couple

on the cow! Put one on the cook!–scatter them all over the persecuted

place till it looks like a zinc-plated, spiral-twisted, silver-mounted

canebrake! Move! Use up all the material you can get your hands on, and

when you run out of lightning-rods put up ramrods, cam-rods, stair-rods,

piston-rods–anything that will pander to your dismal appetite for

artificial scenery, and bring respite to my raging brain and healing to

my lacerated soul!” Wholly unmoved–further than to smile sweetly–this

iron being simply turned back his wrist-bands daintily, and said he would

now proceed to hump himself. Well, all that was nearly three hours ago.

It is questionable whether I am calm enough yet to write on the noble

theme of political economy, but I cannot resist the desire to try, for it

is the one subject that is nearest to my heart and dearest to my brain of

all this world’s philosophy.]

“economy is heaven’s best boon to man.” When the loose but gifted

Byron lay in his Venetian exile he observed that, if it could be

granted him to go back and live his misspent life over again, he

would give his lucid and unintoxicated intervals to the composition,

not of frivolous rhymes, but of essays upon political economy.

Washington loved this exquisite science; such names as Baker,

Beckwith, Judson, Smith, are imperishably linked with it; and even

imperial Homer, in the ninth book of the Iliad, has said:

Fiat justitia, ruat coelum,

Post mortem unum, ante bellum,

Hic facet hoc, ex-parte res,

Politicum e-conomico est.

The grandeur of these conceptions of the old poet, together with the

felicity of the wording which clothes them, and the sublimity of the

imagery whereby they are illustrated, have singled out that stanza,

and made it more celebrated than any that ever–

[“Now, not a word out of you–not a single word. Just state your bill

and relapse into impenetrable silence for ever and ever on these

premises. Nine hundred, dollars? Is that all? This check for the

amount will be honored at any respectable bank in America. What is that

multitude of people gathered in the street for? How?–‘looking at the

lightning-rods!’ Bless my life, did they never see any lightning-rods

before? Never saw ‘such a stack of them on one establishment,’ did I

understand you to say? I will step down and critically observe this

popular ebullition of ignorance.”]

THREE DAYS LATER.–We are all about worn out. For four-and-twenty hours

our bristling premises were the talk and wonder of the town. The

theaters languished, for their happiest scenic inventions were tame and

commonplace compared with my lightning-rods. Our street was blocked

night and day with spectators, and among them were many who came from

the country to see. It was a blessed relief on the second day when a

thunderstorm came up and the lightning began to “go for” my house, as the

historian Josephus quaintly phrases it. It cleared the galleries, so to

speak. In five minutes there was not a spectator within half a mile of

my place; but all the high houses about that distance away were full,

windows, roof, and all. And well they might be, for all the falling

stars and Fourth-of-July fireworks of a generation, put together and

rained down simultaneously out of heaven in one brilliant shower upon one

helpless roof, would not have any advantage of the pyrotechnic display

that was making my house so magnificently conspicuous in the general

gloom of the storm.

By actual count, the lightning struck at my establishment seven

hundred and sixty-four times in forty minutes, but tripped on one of

those faithful rods every time, and slid down the spiral-twist and shot

into the earth before it probably had time to be surprised at the way the

thing was done. And through all that bombardment only one patch of slates

was ripped up, and that was because, for a single instant, the rods in

the vicinity were transporting all the lightning they could possibly

accommodate. Well, nothing was ever seen like it since the world began.

For one whole day and night not a member of my family stuck his head out

of the window but he got the hair snatched off it as smooth as a

billiard-ball; and; if the reader will believe me, not one of us ever

dreamt of stirring abroad. But at last the awful siege came to an

end-because there was absolutely no more electricity left in the clouds

above us within grappling distance of my insatiable rods. Then I sallied

forth, and gathered daring workmen together, and not a bite or a nap did

we take till the premises were utterly stripped of all their terrific

armament except just three rods on the house, one on the kitchen, and one

on the barn–and, behold, these remain there even unto this day. And

then, and not till then, the people ventured to use our street again.

I will remark here, in passing, that during that fearful time I did not

continue my essay upon political economy. I am not even yet settled

enough in nerve and brain to resume it.

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN.–Parties having need of three thousand two

hundred and eleven feet of best quality zinc-plated spiral-twist

lightning-rod stuff, and sixteen hundred and thirty-one silver-tipped

points, all in tolerable repair (and, although much worn by use, still

equal to any ordinary emergency), can hear of a bargains by addressing

the publisher.

THE JUMPING FROG [written about 1865]



Even a criminal is entitled to fair play; and certainly when a man who

has done no harm has been unjustly treated, he is privileged to do his

best to right himself. My attention has just beep called to an article

some three years old in a French Magazine entitled, ‘Revue des Deux

Mondes’ (Review of Some Two Worlds), wherein the writer treats of “Les

Humoristes Americaines” (These Humorist Americans). I am one of these

humorists American dissected by him, and hence the complaint I am making.

This gentleman’s article is an able one (as articles go, in the French,

where they always tangle up everything to that degree that when you start

into a sentence you never know whether you are going to come out alive or

not). It is a very good article and the writer says all manner of kind

and complimentary things about me–for which I am sure thank him with all

my heart; but then why should he go and spoil all his praise by one

unlucky experiment? What I refer to is this: he says my jumping Frog is

a funny story, but still he can’t see why it should ever really convulse

any one with laughter–and straightway proceeds to translate it into

French in order to prove to his nation that there is nothing so very

extravagantly funny about it. Just there is where my complaint

originates. He has not translated it at all; he has simply mixed it all

up; it is no more like the jumping Frog when he gets through with it than

I am like a meridian of longitude. But my mere assertion is not proof;

wherefore I print the French version, that all may see that I do not

speak falsely; furthermore, in order that even the unlettered may know my

injury and give me their compassion, I have been at infinite pains and

trouble to retranslate this French version back into English; and to tell

the truth I have well-nigh worn myself out at it, having scarcely rested

from my work during five days and nights. I cannot speak the French

language, but I can translate very well, though not fast, I being self-

educated. I ask the reader to run his eye over the original English

version of the jumping Frog, and then read the French or my

retranslation, and kindly take notice how the Frenchman has riddled the

grammar. I think it is the worst I ever saw; and yet the French are

called a polished nation. If I had a boy that put sentences together as

they do, I would polish him to some purpose. Without further

introduction, the jumping Frog, as I originally wrote it, was as follows

[after it will be found the French version –(French version is deleted

from this edition)–, and after the latter my retranslation from the



In compliance with the request of a friend of mine, who wrote me from the

East, I called on good-natured, garrulous old Simon Wheeler, and inquired

after my friend’s friend, Leonidas W. Smiley, as requested to do, and I

hereunto append the result. I have a lurking suspicion that Leonidas W.

Smiley is a myth that my friend never knew such a personage; and that he

on conjectured that if I asked old Wheeler about him, it would remind him

of his infamous Jim Smiley, and he would go to work and bore me to death

with some exasperating reminiscence him as long and as tedious as it

should be useless to me. If that was the design, it succeeded.

I found Simon Wheeler dozing comfortably by the bar-room stove of the

dilapidated tavern in the decayed mining camp Angel’s, and I noticed that

he was fat and bald-headed, and had an expression of winning gentleness

and simplicity upon his tranquil countenance. He roused up, and gave me

good day. I told him that a friend of mine had commissioned me to make

some inquiries about a cherished companion of his boyhood named Leonidas

W. Smiley–Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, a young minister of the Gospel, who

he had heard was at one time resident of Angel’s Camp. I added that if

Mr. Wheeler could tell me anything about this Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley,

I would feel under many obligations to him.

Simon Wheeler backed me into a corner and blockaded me there with his

chair, and then sat down and reeled off the monotonous narrative which

follows this paragraph. He never smiled he never frowned, he never

changed his voice from the gentle flowing key to which he tuned his

initial sentence, he never betrayed the slightest suspicion of

enthusiasm; but all through the interminable narrative there ran a vein

of impressive earnestness and sincerity, which showed me plainly that,

so far from his imagining that there was anything ridiculous or funny

about his story, he regarded it as a really important matter, and admired

its two heroes as men of transcendent genius in ‘finesse.’ I let him go

on in his own way, and never interrupted him once.

“Rev. Leonidas W. H’m, Reverend Le–well, there was a feller here, once

by the name of Jim Smiley, in the winter of ’49 –or maybe it was the

spring of ’50–I don’t recollect exactly, somehow, though what makes me

think it was one or the other is because I remember the big flume warn’t

finished when he first come to the camp; but anyway, he was the

curiousest man about always betting on anything that turned up you ever

see, if he could get anybody to bet on the other side; and if he couldn’t

he’d change sides. Any way that suited the other man would suit him any

way just so’s he got a bet, he was satisfied. But still he was lucky,

uncommon lucky; he most always come out winner. He was always ready and

laying for a chance; there couldn’t be no solit’ry thing mentioned but

that feller’d offer to bet on it, and take any side you please, as I was

just telling you. If there was a horse-race, you’d find him flush or

you’d find him busted at the end of it; if there was a dog-fight, he’d

bet on it; if there was a cat-fight, he’d bet on it; if there was a

chicken-fight, he’d bet on it; why, if there was two birds setting on a

fence, he would bet you which one would fly first; or if there was a

camp-meeting, he would be there reg’lar to bet on Parson Walker, which he

judged to be the best exhorter about here, and so he was too, and a good

man. If he even see a straddle-bug start to go anywheres, he would bet

you how long it would take him to get to–to wherever he was going to,

and if you took him up, he would foller that straddle-bug to Mexico but

what he would find out where he was bound for and how long he was on the

road. Lots of the boys here has seen that Smiley, and can tell you about

him. Why, it never made no difference to him–he’d bet on any thing–the

dangdest feller. Parson Walker’s wife laid very sick once, for a good

while, and it seemed as if they warn’t going to save her; but one morning

he come in, and Smiley up and asked him how she was, and he said she was

considerable better–thank the Lord for his inf’nite mercy–and coming on

so smart that with the blessing of Prov’dence she’d get well yet; and

Smiley, before he thought, says, ‘Well, I’ll resk two-and-a-half she

don’t anyway.’

“Thish-yer Smile) had a mare–the boys called her the fifteen-minute nag,

but that was only in fun, you know, because of course she was faster than

that–and he used to win money on that horse, for all she was so slow and

always had the asthma, or the distemper, or the consumption, or something

of that kind. They used to give her two or three hundred yards’ start,

and then pass her under way; but always at the fag end of the race she

get excited and desperate like, and come cavorting and straddling up,

and scattering her legs around limber, sometimes in the air, and

sometimes out to one side among the fences, and kicking up m-o-r-e dust

and raising m-o-r-e racket with her coughing and sneezing and blowing her

nose–and always fetch up at the stand just about a neck ahead, as near

as you could cipher it down.

“And he had a little small bull-pup, that to look at him you’d think he

warn’t worth a cent but to set around and look ornery and lay for a

chance to steal something. But as soon as money was up on him he was a

different dog; his under-jaw’d begin to stick out like the fo’castle of

a steamboat, and his teeth would uncover and shine like the furnaces.

And a dog might tackle him and bully-rag him, and bite him, and throw him

over his shoulder two or three times, and Andrew Jackson–which was the

name of the pup–Andrew Jackson would never let on but what he was

satisfied, and hadn’t expected nothing else–and the bets being doubled

and doubled on the other side all the time, till the money was all up;

and then all of a sudden he would grab that other dog jest by the j’int

of his hind leg and freeze to it–not chaw, you understand, but only just

grip and hang on till they throwed up the sponge, if it was a year.

Smiley always come out winner on that pup, till he harnessed a dog once

that didn’t have no hind legs, because they’d been sawed off in a

circular saw, and when the thing had gone along far enough, and the money

was all up, and he come to make a snatch for his pet holt, he see in a

minute how he’d been imposed on, and how the other dog had him in the

door, so to speak, and he ‘peared surprised, and then he looked sorter

discouraged-like and didn’t try no more to win the fight, and so he got

shucked out bad. He give Smiley a look, as much as to say his heart was

broke, and it was his fault, for putting up a dog that hadn’t no hind

legs for him to take holt of, which was his main dependence in a fight,

and then he limped off a piece and laid down and died. It was a good

pup, was that Andrew Jackson, and would have made a name for hisself if

he’d lived, for the stuff was in him and he had genius–I know it,

because he hadn’t no opportunities to speak of, and it don’t stand to

reason that a dog could make such a fight as he could under them

circumstances if he hadn’t no talent. It always makes me feel sorry when

I think of that last fight of his’n, and the way it turned out.

“Well, thish-yer Smiley had rat-tarriers, and chicken cocks, and tomcats

and all them kind of things, till you couldn’t rest, and you couldn’t

fetch nothing for him to bet on but he’d match you. He ketched a frog

one day, and took him home, and said he cal’lated to educate him; and so

he never done nothing for three months but set in his back yard and learn

that frog to jump. And you bet you he did learn him, too. He’d give him a

little punch behind, and the next minute you’d see that frog whirling in

the air like a doughnut–see him turn one summerset, or maybe a couple,

if he got a good start, and come down flat-footed and all right, like a

cat. He got him up so in the matter of ketching flies, and kep’ him in

practice so constant, that he’d nail a fly every time as fur as he could

see him. Smiley said all a frog wanted was education, and he could do

‘most anything–and I believe him. Why, I’ve seen him set Dan’l Webster

down here on this floor–Dan’1 Webster was the name of the frog–and sing

out, ‘Flies, Dan’l, flies!’ and quicker’n you could wink he’d spring

straight up and snake a fly off’n the counter there, and flop down on the

floor ag’in as solid as a gob of mud, and fall to scratching the side of

his head with his hind foot as indifferent as if he hadn’t no idea he’d

been doin’ any more’n any frog might do. You never see a frog so modest

and straightfor’ard as he was, for all he was so gifted. And when it

come to fair and square jumping on a dead level, he could get over more

ground at one straddle than any animal of his breed you ever see.

Jumping on a dead level was his strong suit, you understand; and when it

come to that, Smiley would ante up money on him as long as he had a red.

Smiley was monstrous proud of his frog, and well he might be, for fellers

that had traveled and been everywheres all said he laid over any frog

that ever they see.

“Well, Smiley kep’ the beast in a little lattice box, and he used to

fetch him down-town sometimes and lay for a bet. One day a feller

–a stranger in the camp, he was–come acrost him with his box, and says:

“‘What might it be that you’ve got in the box?’

“And Smiley says, sorter indifferent-like, ‘It might be a parrot, or it

might be a canary, maybe, but it ain’t–it’s only just a frog.’

“And the feller took it, and looked at it careful, and turned it round

this way and that, and says, ‘H’m–so ’tis. Well, what’s HE good for.

“‘Well,’ Smiley says, easy and careless, ‘he’s good enough for one thing,

I should judge–he can outjump any frog in Calaveras County.

“The feller took the box again, and took another long, partiular look,

and give it back to Smiley, and says, very deliberate, ‘Well,’ he says,

‘I don’t see no pints about that frog that’s any better’n any other


“‘Maybe you don’t,’ Smiley says. ‘Maybe you understand frogs and maybe

you don’t understand ’em; maybe you’ve had experience, and maybe you

ain’t only a amature, as it were. Anyways, I’ve got my opinion, and I’ll

resk forty dollars the he can outjump any frog in Calaveras County.’

“And the feller studied a minute, and then says, kinder sad-like, ‘Well,

I’m only a, stranger here, and I ain’t got no frog; but if I had a frog,

I’d bet you.

“And then Smiley says, ‘That’s all right0-that’s all right if you’ll hold

my box a minute, I’ll go and get you a frog.’ Any so the feller took the

box, and put up his forty dollars along with Smiley’s, and set down to


“So he set there a good while thinking and thinking to himself and then

he got the frog out and prized his mouth open and took a teaspoon and

filled him full of quail-shot-filled him pretty near up to his chin–and

set him on the floor. Smiley he went to the swamp and slopped around in

the mud for a long time, and finally he ketched a frog, and fetched him

in, and give him to this feller and says:

“‘Now, if you’re ready, set him alongside of Dan’l, with his fore paws

just even with Dan’l’s, and I’ll give the word.’ Then he says, ‘One-two-

three–git’ and him and the feller touches up the frogs from behind, and

the new frog hopped off lively but Dan’l give a heave, and hysted up his

shoulders—so-like a Frenchman, but it warn’t no use–he couldn’t budge;

he was planted as solid as a church, and he couldn’t no more stir than if

he was anchored out. Smiley was a good deal surprised, and he was

disgusted too, but he didn’t have no idea what the matter was of course.

“The Teller took the money and started away; and when he was going out at

the door, he sorter jerked his thumb over his shoulder–so–at Dan’l, and

says again, very deliberate, ‘Well,’ he says, ‘I don’t see no pints about

that frog that’s any better’n any other frog.’

“Smiley he stood scratching his head and looking down at Dan’l a long

time, and at last he says, ‘I do wonder what in the nation that frog

throw’d off for–I wonder if there ain’t something the matter with him

–he ‘pears to look mighty baggy, somehow.’ And he ketched Dan’l by the

nap of the neck, and hefted him, and says, ‘Why blame my cats if he don’t

weigh five pound!’ and turned him upside down and he belched out a double

handful of shot. And then he see how it was, and he was the maddest man

–he set the frog down and took out after that feller, but he never

ketched him. And–”

[Here Simon Wheeler heard his name called from the front yard, and got up

to see what was wanted.] And turning to me as he moved away, he said:

“Just set where you are, stranger, and rest easy–I ain’t going to be

gone a second.”

But, by your leave, I did not think that a continuation of the history of

the enterprising vagabond Jim Smiley would be likely to afford me much

information concerning the Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, and so I started


At the door I met the sociable Wheeler returning, and he buttonholed me

and recommenced:

“Well, thish-yer Smiley had a yaller one-eyed cow that didn’t have no

tail, only just a short stump like a bannanner, and–”

However, lacking both time and inclination, I did not wait to hear about

the afflicted cow, but took my leave.

Now let the learned look upon this picture and say if iconoclasm can

further go:

[From the Revue des Deux Mondes, of July 15th, 1872.]



“–Il y avait, une fois ici un individu connu sous le nom de Jim Smiley:

c’etait dans l’hiver de 49, peut-etre bien au printemps de 50, je ne me

reappelle pas exactement. Ce qui me fait croire que c’etait l’un ou

l’autre, c’est que je me souviens que le grand bief n’etait pas acheve

lorsqu’il arriva au camp pour la premiere fois, mais de toutes facons il

etait l’homme le plus friand de paris qui se put voir, pariant sur tout

ce qui se presentaat, quand il pouvait trouver un adversaire, et, quand

n’en trouvait pas il passait du cote oppose. Tout ce qui convenaiat

l’autre lui convenait; pourvu qu’il eut un pari, Smiley etait satisfait.

Et il avait une chance! une chance inouie: presque toujours il gagnait.

It faut dire qu’il etait toujours pret a’exposer, qu’on ne pouvait

mentionner la moindre chose sans que ce gaillard offrit de parier la-

dessus n’importe quoi et de prendre le cote que l’on voudrait, comme je

vous le disais tout a l’heure. S’il y avait des courses, vous le

trouviez riche ou ruine a la fin; s’il y avait un combat de chiens, il

apportait son enjeu; il l’apportait pour un combat de chats, pour un

combat de coqs;–parbleu! si vous aviez vu deux oiseaux sur une haie il

vous aurait offert de parier lequel s’envolerait le premier, et s’il y

aviat ‘meeting’ au camp, il venait parier regulierement pour le cure

Walker, qu’il jugeait etre le meilleur predicateur des environs, et qui

l’etait en effet, et un brave homme. Il aurai rencontre une punaise de

bois en chemin, qu’il aurait parie sur le temps qu’il lui faudrait pour

aller ou elle voudrait aller, et si vous l’aviez pris au mot, it aurait

suivi la punaise jusqu’au Mexique, sans se soucier d’aller si loin, ni du

temps qu’il y perdrait. Une fois la femme du cure Walker fut tres malade

pendant longtemps, il semblait qu’on ne la sauverait pas; mai un matin le

cure arrive, et Smiley lui demande comment ella va et il dit qu’elle est

bien mieux, grace a l’infinie misericorde tellement mieux qu’avec la

benediction de la Providence elle s’en tirerait, et voila que, sans y

penser, Smiley repond:–Eh bien! ye gage deux et demi qu’elle mourra tout

de meme.

“Ce Smiley avait une jument que les gars appelaient le bidet du quart

d’heure, mais seulement pour plaisanter, vous comprenez, parse que, bien

entendu, elle etait plus vite que ca! Et il avait coutume de gagner de

l’argent avec cette bete, quoi-qu’elle fut poussive, cornarde, toujours

prise d’asthme, de colique ou de consomption, ou de quelque chose

d’approchant. On lui donnait 2 ou 300 ‘yards’ au depart, puffs on la

depassait sans peine; mais jamais a la fin elle ne manquait de

s’echauffer, de s’exasperer et elle arrivait, s’ecartant, se defendant,

ses jambes greles en l’ai devant les obstacles, quelquefois les evitant

et faisant avec cela plus de poussiare qu’aucun cheval, plus de bruit

surtout avec ses eternumens et reniflemens.—crac! elle arrivaat donc

toujour premiere d’une tete, aussi juste qu’on peut le mesurer. Et il

avait un petit bouledogue qui, a le voir, ne valait pas un sou; on aurait

cru que parier contre lui c’etait voler, tant il etait ordinaire; mais

aussitot les enjeux faits, il devenait un autre chien. Sa machoire

inferieure commencait a ressortir comme un gaillard d’avant, ses dents se

decouvcraient brillantes commes des fournaises, et un chien pouvait le

taquiner, l’exciter, le mordre, le jeter deux ou trois fois par-dessus

son epaule, Andre Jackson, c’etait le nom du chien, Andre Jackson prenait

cela tranquillement, comme s’il ne se fut jamais attendu a autre chose,

et quand les paris etaient doubles et redoubles contre lui, il vous

saisissait l’autre chien juste a l’articulation de la jambe de derriere,

et il ne la lachait plus, non pas qu’il la machat, vous concevez, mais il

s’y serait tenu pendu jusqu’a ce qu’on jetat l’eponge en l’air, fallut-il

attendre un an. Smiley gagnait toujours avec cette bete-la;

malheureusement ils ont fini par dresser un chien qui n’avait pas de

pattes de derriere, parce qu’on les avait sciees, et quand les choses

furent au point qu’il voulait, et qu’il en vint a se jeter sur son

morceau favori, le pauvre chien comprit en un instant qu’on s’etait moque

de lui, et que l’autre le tenait. Vous n’avez jamais vu personne avoir

l’air plus penaud et plus decourage; il ne fit aucun effort pour gagner

le combat et fut rudement secoue, de sorte que, regardant Smiley comme

pour lui dire:–Mon coeur est brise, c’est to faute; pourquoi m’avoir

livre a un chien qui n’a pas de pattes de derriere, puisque c’est par la

que je les bats?–il s’en alla en clopinant, et se coucha pour mourir.

Ah! c’etait un bon chien, cet Andre Jackson, et il se serait fait un nom,

s’il avait vecu, car il y avait de l’etoffe en lui, il avait du genie,

je la sais, bien que de grandes occasions lui aient manque; mais il est

impossible de supposer qu’un chien capable de se battre comme lui,

certaines circonstances etant donnees, ait manque de talent. Je me sens

triste toutes les fois que je pense a son dernier combat et au denoument

qu’il a eu. Eh bien! ce Smiley nourrissait des terriers a rats, et des

coqs combat, et des chats, et toute sorte de choses, au point qu’il etait

toujours en mesure de vous tenir tete, et qu’avec sa rage de paris on

n’avait plus de repos. Il attrapa un jour une grenouille et l’emporta

chez lui, disant qu’il pretendait faire son Education; vous me croirez si

vous voulez, mais pendant trois mois il n’a rien fait que lui apprendre a

sauter dans une cour retire de sa maison. Et je vous reponds qu’il avait

reussi. Il lui donnait un petit coup par derriere, et l’instant d’apres

vous voyiez la grenouille tourner en l’air comme un beignet au-dessus de

la poele, faire une culbute, quelquefois deux, lorsqu’elle etait bien

partie, et retomber sur ses pattes comme un chat. Il l’avait dressee

dans l’art de gober des mouches, er l’y exercait continuellement, si bien

qu’une mouche, du plus loin qu’elle apparaissait, etait une mouche

perdue. Smiley avait coutume de dire que tout ce qui manquait a une

grenouille, c’etait l’education, qu’avec l’education elle pouvait faire

presque tout, et je le crois. Tenez, je l’ai vu poser Daniel Webster la

sur se plancher,–Daniel Webster etait le nom de la grenouille,–et lui

chanter: Des mouches! Daniel, des mouches!–En un clin d’oeil, Daniel

avait bondi et saisi une mouche ici sur le comptoir, puis saute de

nouveau par terre, ou il restait vraiment a se gratter la tete avec sa

patte de derriere, comme s’il n’avait pas eu la moindre idee de sa

superiorite. Jamais vous n’avez grenouille vu de aussi modeste, aussi

naturelle, douee comme elle l’etait! Et quand il s’agissait de sauter

purement et simplement sur terrain plat, elle faisait plus de chemin en

un saut qu’aucune bete de son espece que vous puissiez connaitre. Sauter

a plat, c’etait son fort! Quand il s’agissait de cela, Smiley en tassait

les enjeux sur elle tant qu’il lui, restait un rouge liard. Il faut le

reconnaitre, Smiley etait monstrueusement fier de sa grenouille, et il en

avait le droit, car des gens qui avaient voyage, qui avaient tout vu,

disaient qu’on lui ferait injure de la comparer a une autre; de facon que

Smiley gardait Daniel dans une petite boite a claire-voie qu’il emportait

parfois a la Ville pour quelque pari.

“Un jour, un individu etranger au camp l’arrete aver sa boite et lui

dit:–Qu’est-ce que vous avez donc serre la dedans?

“Smiley dit d’un air indifferent:–Cela pourrait etre un perroquet ou un

serin, mais ce n’est rien de pareil, ce n’est qu’une grenouille.

“L’individu la prend, la regarde avec soin, la tourne d’un cote et de

l’autre puis il dit.–Tiens! en effet! A quoi estelle bonne?

“–Mon Dieu! repond Smiley, toujours d’un air degage, elle est bonne pour

une chose a mon avis, elle peut battre en sautant toute grenouille du

comte de Calaveras.

“L’individu reprend la boite, l’examine de nouveau longuement, et la rend

a Smiley en disant d’un air delibere:–Eh bien! je ne vois pas que cette

grenouille ait rien de mieux qu’aucune grenouille.

“–Possible qua vous ne le voyiez pat, dit Smiley, possible que vous vous

entendiez en grenouilles, possible que vous ne vous y entendez point,

possible qua vous avez de l’experience, et possible que vous ne soyez

qu’un amateur. De toute maniere, je parie quarante dollars qu’elle

battra en sautant n’importe quelle grenouille du comte de Calaveras.

“L’individu reflechit one seconde et dit comma attriste:– Je ne suis

qu’un etranger ici, je n’ai pas de grenouille; mais, si j’en

avais une, je tiendrais le pari.

“–Fort bien! repond Smiley. Rien de plus facile. Si vous voulez tenir

ma boite one minute, j’irai vous chercher une grenouille.–Voile donc

l’individu qui garde la boite, qui met ses quarante dollars sur ceux de

Smiley et qui attend. Il attend assez longtemps, reflechissant tout

seul, et figurez-vous qu’il prend Daniel, lui ouvre la bouche de force at

avec une cuiller a the l’emplit de menu plomb de chasse, mail l’emplit

jusqu’au menton, puis il le pose par terre. Smiley pendant ce temps

etait a barboter dans une mare. Finalement il attrape une grenouille,

l’apporte cet individu et dit:–Maintenant, si vous etes pret, mettez-la

tout contra Daniel, avec leurs pattes de devant sur la meme ligne, et je

donnerai le signal; puis il ajoute:– Un, deux, trois, sautez!

“Lui et l’individu touchent leurs grenouilles par derriere, et la

grenouille neuve se met h sautiller, mais Daniel se souleve lourdement,

hausse les epaules ainsi, comma un Francais; a quoi bon? il ne pouvait

bouger, il etait plante solide comma une enclume, il n’avancait pas plus

que si on l’eut mis a l’ancre. Smiley fut surpris et degoute, mais il ne

se doutait pas du tour, bien entendu. L’individu empoche l’argent, s’en

va, et en s’en allant est-ce qu’il ne donna pas un coup de pouce par-

dessus l’epaule, comma ca, au pauvre Daniel, en disant de son air

delibere:–Eh bien! je ne vois pas qua cette grenouille ait rien de muiex

qu’une autre.

“Smiley se gratta longtemps la tete, les yeux fixes Sur Daniel; jusqu’a

ce qu’enfin il dit:–je me demande comment diable il se fait qua cette

bite ait refuse, . . . Est-ce qu’elle aurait quelque chose? . . . On

croirait qu’elle est enflee.

“Il empoigne Daniel par la peau du coo, le souleve et dit:–Le loup me

croque, s’il ne pese pas cinq livres.

“Il le retourne, et le malheureux crache deux poignees de plomb. Quand

Smiley reconnut ce qui en etait, il fut comme fou. Vous le voyez d’ici

poser sa grenouille par terra et courir apres cet individu, mais il ne le

rattrapa jamais, et ….

[Translation of the above back from the French:


It there was one time here an individual known under the name of Jim

Smiley; it was in the winter of ’89, possibly well at the spring of ’50,

I no me recollect not exactly. This which me makes to believe that it

was the one or the other, it is that I shall remember that the grand

flume is not achieved when he arrives at the camp for the first time, but

of all sides he was the man the most fond of to bet which one have seen,

betting upon all that which is presented, when he could find an

adversary; and when he not of it could not, he passed to the side

opposed. All that which convenienced to the other to him convenienced

also; seeing that he had a bet Smiley was satisfied. And he had a

chance! a chance even worthless; nearly always he gained. It must to say

that he was always near to himself expose, but one no could mention the

least thing without that this gaillard offered to bet the bottom, no

matter what, and to take the side that one him would, as I you it said

all at the hour (tout a l’heure). If it there was of races, you him find

rich or ruined at the end; if it, here is a combat of dogs, he bring his

bet; he himself laid always for a combat of cats, for a combat of cocks

–by-blue! If you have see two birds upon a fence, he you should have

offered of to bet which of those birds shall fly the first; and if there

is meeting at the camp (meeting au camp) he comes to bet regularly for

the cure Walker, which he judged to be the best predicator of the

neighborhood (predicateur des environs) and which he was in effect, and a

brave man. He would encounter a bug of wood in the road, whom he will

bet upon the time which he shall take to go where she would go–and if

you him have take at the word, he will follow the bug as far as Mexique,

without himself caring to go so far; neither of the time which he there

lost. One time the woman of the cure Walker is very sick during long

time, it seemed that one not her saved not; but one morning the cure

arrives, and Smiley him demanded how she goes, and he said that she is

well better, grace to the infinite misery (lui demande comment elle va,

et il dit qu’elle est bien mieux, grace a l’infinie misericorde) so much

better that with the benediction of the Providence she herself of it

would pull out (elle s’en tirerait); and behold that without there

thinking Smiley responds: “Well, I gage two-and-half that she will die

all of same.”

This Smiley had an animal which the boys called the nag of the quarter of

hour, but solely for pleasantry, you comprehend, because, well

understand, she was more fast as that! [Now why that exclamation?–M. T.]

And it was custom of to gain of the silver with this beast,

notwithstanding she was poussive, cornarde, always taken of asthma, of

colics or of consumption, or something of approaching. One him would

give two or three hundred yards at the departure, then one him passed

without pain; but never at the last she not fail of herself echauffer,

of herself exasperate, and she arrives herself ecartant, se defendant,

her legs greles in the air before the obstacles, sometimes them elevating

and making with this more of dust than any horse, more of noise above

with his eternumens and reniflemens–crac! she arrives then always first

by one head, as just as one can it measure. And he had a small bulldog

(bouledogue!) who, to him see, no value, not a cent; one would believe

that to bet against him it was to steal, so much he was ordinary; but as

soon as the game made, she becomes another dog. Her jaw inferior

commence to project like a deck of before, his teeth themselves discover

brilliant like some furnaces, and a dog could him tackle (le taquiner),

him excite, him murder (le mordre), him throw two or three times over his

shoulder, Andre Jackson–this was the name of the dog–Andre Jackson

takes that tranquilly, as if he not himself was never expecting other

thing, and when the bets were doubled and redoubled against him, he you

seize the other dog just at the articulation of the leg of behind, and he

not it leave more, not that he it masticate, you conceive, but he himself

there shall be holding during until that one throws the sponge in the

air, must he wait a year. Smiley gained always with this beast-la;

unhappily they have finished by elevating a dog who no had not of feet of

behind, because one them had sawed; and when things were at the point

that he would, and that he came to himself throw upon his morsel

favorite, the poor dog comprehended in an instant that he himself was

deceived in him, and that the other dog him had. You no have never seen

person having the air more penaud and more discouraged; he not made no

effort to gain the combat, and was rudely shucked.

Eh bien! this Smiley nourished some terriers a rats, and some cocks of

combat, and some pats, and all sorts of things; and with his rage of

betting one no had more of repose. He trapped one day a frog and him

imported with him (et 1’emporta chez lui) saying that he pretended to

make his education. You me believe if you will, but during three months

he not has nothing done but to him apprehend to jump (apprendre a sauter)

in a court retired of her mansion (de sa maison). And I you respond that

he have succeeded. He him gives a small blow by behind, and the instant

after you shall see the frog turn in the air like a grease-biscuit, make

one summersault, sometimes two, when she was well started, and refall

upon his feet like a cat. He him had accomplished in the art of to

gobble the flies (gober des mouches), and him there exercised continually

–so well that a fly at the most far that she appeared was a fly lost.

Smiley had custom to say that all which lacked to a frog it was the

education, but with the education she could do nearly all–and I him

believe. Tenez, I him have seen pose Daniel Webster there upon this

plank–Daniel Webster was the name of the frog–and to him sing, “Some

flies, Daniel, some fifes!”–in a flash of the eye Daniel 30

had bounded and seized a fly here upon the counter, then jumped anew at

the earth, where he rested truly to himself scratch the head with his

behind foot, as if he no had not the least idea of his superiority.

Never you not have seen frog as modest, as natural, sweet as she was.

And when he himself agitated to jump purely and simply upon plain earth,

she does more ground in one jump than any beast of his species than you

can know. To jump plain-this was his strong. When he himself agitated

for that, Smiley multiplied the bets upon her as long as there to him

remained a red. It must to know, Smiley was monstrously proud of his

frog, and he of it was right, for some men who were traveled, who had all

seen, said that they to him would be injurious to him compare, to another

frog. Smiley guarded Daniel in a little box latticed which he carried

bytimes to the village for some bet.

One day an individual stranger at the camp him arrested with his box and

him said:

“What is this that you have them shut up there within?”

Smiley said, with an air indifferent:

“That could be a paroquet, or a syringe (ou un serin), but this no is

nothing of such, it not is but a frog.”

The individual it took, it regarded with care, it turned from one side

and from the other, then he said:

“Tiens! in effect!–At what is she good?”

“My God!” respond Smiley, always with an air disengaged, “she is good for

one thing, to my notice (A mon avis),she can better in jumping (elle pent

battre en sautant) all frogs of the county of Calaveras.”

The individual retook the box, it examined of new longly, and it rendered

to Smiley in saying with an air deliberate:

“Eh bien! I no saw not that that frog had nothing of better than each

frog.” (Je ne vois pas que cette grenouille ait rien de mieux qu’aucune

grenouille.) [If that isn’t grammar gone to seed, then I count myself no

judge.–M. T.]

“Possible that you not it saw not,” said Smiley, “possible that you–you

comprehend frogs; possible that you not you there comprehend nothing;

possible that you had of the experience, and possible that you not be but

an amateur. Of all manner (De toute maniere) I bet forty dollars that

she better in jumping no matter which frog of the county of Calaveras.”

The individual reflected a second, and said like sad:

“I not am but a stranger here, I no have not a frog; but if I of it had

one, I would embrace the bet.”

“Strong well!” respond Smiley; “nothing of more facility. If you will

hold my box a minute, I go you to search a frog (j’irai vous chercher).”

Behold, then, the individual, who guards the box, who puts his forty

dollars upon those of Smiley, and who attends (et qui attend). He

attended enough long times, reflecting all solely. And figure you that

he takes Daniel, him opens the mouth by force and with a teaspoon him

fills with shot of the hunt, even him fills just to the chin, then he him

puts by the earth. Smiley during these times was at slopping in a swamp.

Finally he trapped (attrape) a frog, him carried to that individual, and


“Now if you be ready, put him all against Daniel with their before feet

upon the same line, and I give the signal”–then he added: “One, two,


Him and the individual touched their frogs by behind, and the frog new

put to jump smartly, but Daniel himself lifted ponderously, exalted the

shoulders thus, like a Frenchman–to what good? he not could budge, he

is planted solid like a church he not advance no more than if one him had

put at the anchor.

Smiley was surprised and disgusted, but he no himself doubted not of the

turn being intended (mais il ne se doutait pas du tour, bien entendu).

The individual empocketed the silver, himself with it went, and of it

himself in going is it that he no gives not a jerk of thumb over the

shoulder–like that–at the poor Daniel, in saying with his air

deliberate–(L’individu empoche l’argent, s’en va et en s’en allant est-

ce qu’il ne donne pas un coup d pouce par-dessus l’epaule, comme ga, au

pauvre Daniel, en disant de son air delibere):

“Eh bien! I no see not that that frog has nothin of better than another.”

Smiley himself scratched longtimes the head, the eyes fixed upon Daniel,

until that which at last he said:

“I me demand how the devil it makes itself that this beast has refused.

Is it that she had something? One would believe that she is stuffed.”

He grasped Daniel by the skin of the neck, him lifted and said:

“The wolf me bite if he no weigh not five pounds:”

He him reversed and the unhappy belched two handfuls of shot (et le

malheureux, etc.). When Smiley recognized how it was, he was like mad.

He deposited his frog by the earth and ran after that individual, but he

not him caught never.

Such is the jumping Frog, to the distorted French eye. I claim that I

never put together such an odious mixture of bad grammar and delirium

tremens in my life. And what has a poor foreigner like me done, to be

abused and misrepresented like this? When I say, “Well, I don’t see no

pints about that frog that’s any better’n any other frog,” is it kind,

is it just, for this Frenchman to try to make it appear that I said, “Eh

bien! I no saw not that that frog had nothing of better than each frog”?

I have no heart to write more. I never felt so about anything before.

HARTFORD, March, 1875,

JOURNALISM IN TENNESSEE –[Written about 1871.]

The editor of the Memphis Avalanche swoops thus mildly down upon a

correspondent who posted him as a Radical:– “While he was writing

the first word, the middle, dotting his i’s, crossing his t’s, and

punching his period, he knew he was concocting a sentence that was

saturated with infamy and reeking with falsehood.”–Exchange.

I was told by the physician that a Southern climate would improve my

health, and so I went down to Tennessee, and got a berth on the Morning

Glory and Johnson County War-Whoop as associate editor. When I went on

duty I found the chief editor sitting tilted back in a three-legged chair

with his feet on a pine table. There was another pine table in the room

and another afflicted chair, and both were half buried under newspapers

and scraps and sheets of manuscript. There was a wooden box of sand,

sprinkled with cigar stubs and “old soldiers,” and a stove with a door

hanging by its upper hinge. The chief editor had a long-tailed black

cloth frock-coat on, and white linen pants. His boots were small and

neatly blacked. He wore a ruffled shirt, a large seal-ring, a standing

collar of obsolete pattern, and a checkered neckerchief with the ends

hanging down. Date of costume about 1848. He was smoking a cigar, and

trying to think of a word, and in pawing his hair he had rumpled his

locks a good deal. He was scowling fearfully, and I judged that he was

concocting a particularly knotty editorial. He told me to take the

exchanges and skim through them and write up the “Spirit of the Tennessee

Press,” condensing into the article all of their contents that seemed of


I wrote as follows:


The editors of the Semi-Weekly Earthquake evidently labor under a

misapprehension with regard to the Dallyhack railroad. It is not

the object of the company to leave Buzzardville off to one side.

On the contrary, they consider it one of the most important points

along the line, and consequently can have no desire to slight it.

The gentlemen of the Earthquake will, of course, take pleasure in

making the correction.

John W. Blossom, Esq., the able editor of the Higginsville

Thunderbolt and Battle Cry of Freedom, arrived in the city

yesterday. He is stopping at the Van Buren House.

We observe that our contemporary of the Mud Springs Morning Howl has

fallen into the error of supposing that the election of Van Werter

is not an established fact, but he will have discovered his mistake

before this reminder reaches him, no doubt. He was doubtless misled

by incomplete election returns.

It is pleasant to note that the city of Blathersville is endeavoring

to contract with some New York gentlemen to pave its well-nigh

impassable streets with the Nicholson pavement. The Daily Hurrah

urges the measure with ability, and seems confident of ultimate


I passed my manuscript over to the chief editor for acceptance,

alteration, or destruction. He glanced at it and his face clouded. He

ran his eye down the pages, and his countenance grew portentous. It was

easy to see that something was wrong. Presently he sprang up and said:

“Thunder and lightning! Do you suppose I am going to speak of those

cattle that way? Do you suppose my subscribers are going to stand such

gruel as that? Give me the pen!”

I never saw a pen scrape and scratch its way sc viciously, or plow

through another man’s verbs and adjectives so relentlessly. While he was

in the midst of his work, somebody shot at him through the open window,

and marred the symmetry of my ear.

“Ah,” said he, “that is that scoundrel Smith, of the Moral Volcano–he

was due yesterday.” And he snatched a navy revolver from his belt and

fired–Smith dropped, shot in the thigh. The shot spoiled Smith’s aim,

who was just taking a second chance and he crippled a stranger. It was

me. Merely a finger shot off.

Then the chief editor went on with his erasure; and interlineations.

Just as he finished them a hand grenade came down the stove-pipe, and the

explosion shivered the stove into a thousand fragments. However, it did

no further damage, except that a vagrant piece knocked a couple of my

teeth out.

“That stove is utterly ruined,” said the chief editor.

I said I believed it was.

“Well, no matter–don’t want it this kind of weather. I know the man

that did it. I’ll get him. Now, here is the way this stuff ought to be


I took the manuscript. It was scarred with erasures and interlineations

till its mother wouldn’t have known it if it had had one. It now read as



The inveterate liars of the Semi-Weekly Earthquake are evidently

endeavoring to palm off upon a noble and chivalrous people another

of their vile and brutal falsehoods with regard to that most

glorious conception of the nineteenth century, the Ballyhack

railroad. The idea that Buzzardville was to be left off at one side

originated in their own fulsome brains–or rather in the settlings

which they regard as brains. They had better, swallow this lie if

they want to save their abandoned reptile carcasses the cowhiding

they so richly deserve.

That ass, Blossom, of the Higginsville Thunderbolt and Battle Cry of

Freedom, is down here again sponging at the Van Buren.

We observe that the besotted blackguard of the Mud Springs Morning

Howl is giving out, with his usual propensity for lying, that Van

Werter is not elected. The heaven-born mission of journalism is to

disseminate truth; to eradicate error; to educate, refine, and

elevate the tone of public morals and manners, and make all men more

gentle, more virtuous, more charitable, and in all ways better, and

holier, and happier; and yet this blackhearted scoundrel degrades

his great office persistently to the dissemination of falsehood,

calumny, vituperation, and vulgarity.

Blathersville wants a Nicholson pavement–it wants a jail and a

poorhouse more. The idea of a pavement in a one-horse town composed

of two gin-mills, a blacksmith shop, and that mustard-plaster of a

newspaper, the Daily Hurrah! The crawling insect, Buckner, who

edits the Hurrah, is braying about his business with his customary

imbecility, and imagining that he is talking sense.

“Now that is the way to write–peppery and to the point. Mush-and-milk

journalism gives me the fan-tods.”

About this time a brick came through the window with a splintering crash,

and gave me a considerable of a jolt in the back. I moved out of range

–I began to feel in the way.

The chief said, “That was the Colonel, likely. I’ve been expecting him

for two days. He will be up now right away.”

He was correct. The Colonel appeared in the door a moment afterward with

a dragoon revolver in his hand.

He said, “Sir, have I the honor of addressing the poltroon who edits this

mangy sheet?”

“You have. Be seated, sir. Be careful of the chair, one of its legs is

gone. I believe I have the honor of addressing the putrid liar, Colonel

Blatherskite Tecumseh?”

“Right, Sir. I have a little account to settle with you. If you are at

leisure we will begin.”

“I have an article on the ‘Encouraging Progress of Moral and Intellectual

Development in America’ to finish, but there is no hurry. Begin.”

Both pistols rang out their fierce clamor at the same instant. The chief

lost a lock of his hair, and the Colonel’s bullet ended its career in the

fleshy part of my thigh. The Colonel’s left shoulder was clipped a

little. They fired again. Both missed their men this time, but I got my

share, a shot in the arm. At the third fire both gentlemen were wounded

slightly, and I had a knuckle chipped. I then said, I believed I would

go out and take a walk, as this was a private matter, and I had a

delicacy about participating in it further. But both gentlemen begged me

to keep my seat, and assured me that I was not in the way.

They then talked about the elections and the crops while they reloaded,

and I fell to tying up my wounds. But presently they opened fire again

with animation, and every shot took effect–but it is proper to remark

that five out of the six fell to my share. The sixth one mortally

wounded the Colonel, who remarked, with fine humor, that he would have to

say good morning now, as he had business uptown. He then inquired the

way to the undertaker’s and left.

The chief turned to me and said, “I am expecting company to dinner, and

shall have to get ready. It will be a favor to me if you will read proof

and attend to the customers.”

I winced a little at the idea of attending to the customers, but I was

too bewildered by the fusillade that was still ringing in my ears to

think of anything to say.

He continued, “Jones will be here at three–cowhide him. Gillespie will

call earlier, perhaps–throw him out of the window. Ferguson will be

along about four–kill him. That is all for today, I believe. If you

have any odd time, you may write a blistering article on the police–give

the chief inspector rats. The cowhides are under the table; weapons in

the drawer–ammunition there in the corner–lint and bandages up there in

the pigeonholes. In case of accident, go to Lancet, the surgeon, down-

stairs. He advertises–we take it out in trade.”

He was gone. I shuddered. At the end of the next three hours I had been

through perils so awful that all peace of mind and all cheerfulness were

gone from me. Gillespie had called and thrown me out of the window.

Jones arrived promptly, and when I got ready to do the cowhiding he took

the job off my hands. In an encounter with a stranger, not in the bill

of fare, I had lost my scalp. Another stranger, by the name of Thompson,

left me a mere wreck and ruin of chaotic rags. And at last, at bay in

the corner, and beset by an infuriated mob of editors, blacklegs,

politicians, and desperadoes, who raved and swore and flourished their

weapons about my head till the air shimmered with glancing flashes of

steel, I was in the act of resigning my berth on the paper when the chief

arrived, and with him a rabble of charmed and enthusiastic friends. Then

ensued a scene of riot and carnage such as no human pen, or steel one

either, could describe. People were shot, probed, dismembered, blown up,

thrown out of the window. There was a brief tornado of murky blasphemy,

with a confused and frantic war-dance glimmering through it, and then all

was over. In five minutes there was silence, and the gory chief and I

sat alone and surveyed the sanguinary ruin that strewed the floor around


He said, “You’ll like this place when you get used to it.”

I said, “I’ll have to get you to excuse me; I think maybe I might write

to suit you after a while; as soon as I had had some practice and learned

the language I am confident I could. But, to speak the plain truth, that

sort of energy of expression has its inconveniences, and a, man is liable

to interruption.

You see that yourself. Vigorous writing is calculated to elevate the

public, no doubt, but then I do not like to attract so much attention as

it calls forth. I can’t write with comfort when I am interrupted so much

as I have been to-day. I like this berth well enough, but I don’t like

to be left here to wait on the customers. The experiences are novel,

I grant you, and entertaining, too, after a fashion, but they are not

judiciously distributed. A gentleman shoots at you through the window

and cripples me; a bombshell comes down the stovepipe for your

gratification and sends the stove door down my throat; a friend drops in

to swap compliments with you, and freckles me with bullet-holes till my

skin won’t hold my principles; you go to dinner, and Jones comes with his

cowhide, Gillespie throws me out of the window, Thompson tears all my

clothes off, and an entire stranger takes my scalp with the easy freedom

of an old acquaintance; and in less than five minutes all the blackguards

in the country arrive in their war-paint, and proceed to scare the rest

of me to death with their tomahawks. Take it altogether, I never had

such a spirited time in all my life as I have had to-day. No; I like

you, and I like your calm unruffled way of explaining things to the

customers, but you see I am not used to it. The Southern heart is too

impulsive; Southern hospitality is too lavish with the stranger. The

paragraphs which I have written to-day, and into whose cold sentences

your masterly hand has infused the fervent spirit of Tennesseean

journalism, will wake up another nest of hornets. All that mob of

editors will come–and they will come hungry, too, and want somebody for

breakfast. I shall have to bid you adieu. I decline to be present at

these festivities. I came South for my health, I will go back on the

same errand, and suddenly. Tennesseean journalism is too stirring for


After which we parted with mutual regret, and I took apartments at the


THE STORY OF THE BAD LITTLE BOY–[Written about 1865]

Once there was a bad little boy whose name was Jim–though, if you will

notice, you will find that bad little boys are nearly always called James

in your Sunday-school books. It was strange, but still it was true, that

this one was called Jim.

He didn’t have any sick mother, either–a sick mother who was pious and

had the consumption, and would be glad to lie down in the grave and be at

rest but for the strong love she bore her boy, and the anxiety she felt

that the world might be harsh and cold toward him when she was gone.

Most bad boys in the Sunday books are named James, and have sick mothers,

who teach them to say, “Now, I lay me down,” etc., and sing them to sleep

with sweet, plaintive voices, and then kiss them good night, and kneel

down by the bedside and weep. But it was different with this fellow.

He was named Jim, and there wasn’t anything the matter with his mother

–no consumption, nor anything of that kind. She was rather stout than

otherwise, and she was not pious; moreover, she was not anxious on Jim’s

account. She said if he were to break his neck it wouldn’t be much loss.

She always spanked Jim to sleep, and she never kissed him good night; on

the contrary, she boxed his ears when she was ready to leave him.

Once this little bad boy stole the key of the pantry, and slipped in

there and helped himself to some jam, and filled up the vessel with tar,

so that his mother would never know the difference; but all at once a

terrible feeling didn’t come over him, and something didn’t seem to

whisper to him, “Is it right to disobey my mother? Isn’t it sinful to do

this? Where do bad little boys go who gobble up their good kind mother’s

jam?” and then he didn’t kneel down all alone and promise never to be

wicked any more, and rise up with a light, happy heart, and go and tell

his mother all about it, and beg her forgiveness, and be blessed by her

with tears of pride and thankfulness in her eyes. No; that is the way

with all other bad boys in the books; but it happened otherwise with this

Jim, strangely enough. He ate that jam, and said it was bully, in his

sinful, vulgar way; and he put in the tar, and said that was bully also,

and laughed, and observed “that the old woman would get up and snort”

when she found it out; and when she did find it out, he denied knowing

anything about it, and she whipped him severely, and he did the crying

himself. Everything about this boy was curious–everything turned out

differently with him from the way it does to the bad Jameses in the


Once he climbed up in Farmer Acorn’s apple tree to steal apples, and the

limb didn’t break, and he didn’t fall and break his arm, and get torn by

the farmer’s great dog, and then languish on a sickbed for weeks, and

repent and become good. Oh, no; he stole as many apples as he wanted and

came down all right; and he was all ready for the dog, too, and knocked

him endways with a brick when he came to tear him. It was very strange

–nothing like it ever happened in those mild little books with marbled

backs, and with pictures in them of men with swallow-tailed coats and

bell-crowned hats, and pantaloons that are short in the legs, and women

with the waists of their dresses under their arms, and no hoops on.

Nothing like it in any of the Sunday-school books.

Once he stole the teacher’s penknife, and, when he was afraid it would be

found out and he would get whipped, he slipped it into George Wilson’s

cap poor Widow Wilson’s son, the moral boy, the good little boy of the

village, who always obeyed his mother, and never told an untruth, and was

fond of his lessons, and infatuated with Sunday-school. And when the

knife dropped from the cap, and poor George hung his head and blushed,

as if in conscious guilt, and the grieved teacher charged the theft upon

him, and was just in the very act of bringing the switch down upon his

trembling shoulders, a white-haired, improbable justice of the peace did

not suddenly appear in their midst, and strike an attitude and say,

“Spare this noble boy–there stands the cowering culprit! I was passing

the school door at recess, and, unseen myself, I saw the theft

committed!” And then Jim didn’t get whaled, and the venerable justice

didn’t read the tearful school a homily, and take George by the hand and

say such boy deserved to be exalted, and then tell him come and make his

home with him, and sweep out the office, and make fires, and run errands,

and chop wood, and study law, and help his wife do household labors, and

have all the balance of the time to play and get forty cents a month, and

be happy. No it would have happened that way in the books, but didn’t

happen that way to Jim. No meddling old clam of a justice dropped in to

make trouble, and so the model boy George got thrashed, and Jim was glad

of it because, you know, Jim hated moral boys. Jim said he was “down on

them milksops.” Such was the coarse language of this bad, neglected boy.

But the strangest thing that ever happened to Jim was the time he went

boating on Sunday, and didn’t get drowned, and that other time that he

got caught out in the storm when he was fishing on Sunday and didn’t get

struck by lightning. Why, you might look, and look, all through the

Sunday-school books from now till next Christmas, and you would never

come across anything like this. Oh, no; you would find that all the bad

boys who go boating on Sunday invariably get drowned; and all the bad

boys who get caught out in storms when they are fishing on Sunday

infallibly get struck by lightning. Boats with bad boys in them always

upset on Sunday, and it always storms when bad boys go fishing on the

Sabbath. How this Jim ever escaped is a mystery to me.

This Jim bore a charmed life–that must have been the way of it. Nothing

could hurt him. He even gave the elephant in the menagerie a plug of

tobacco, and the elephant didn’t knock the top of his head off with his

trunk. He browsed around the cupboard after essence-of peppermint, and

didn’t make a mistake and drink aqua fortis. He stole his father’s gun

and went hunting on the Sabbath, and didn’t shoot three or four of his

fingers off. He struck his little sister on the temple with his fist

when he was angry, and she didn’t linger in pain through long summer

days, and die with sweet words of forgiveness upon her lips that

redoubled the anguish of his breaking heart. No; she got over it. He

ran off and went to sea at last, and didn’t come back and find himself

sad and alone in the world, his loved ones sleeping in the quiet

churchyard, and the vine-embowered home of his boyhood tumbled down and

gone to decay. Ah, no; he came home as drunk as a piper, and got into

the station-house the first thing.

And he grew up and married, and raised a large family, and brained them

all with an ax one night, and got wealthy by all manner of cheating and

rascality; and now he is the infernalest wickedest scoundrel in his

native village, and is universally respected, and belongs to the


So you see there never was a bad James in the Sunday-school books that

had such a streak of luck as this sinful Jim with the charmed life.


Once there was a good little boy by the name of Jacob Blivens. He always

obeyed his parents, no matter how absurd and unreasonable their demands

were; and he always learned his book, and never was late at Sabbath-

school. He would not play hookey, even when his sober judgment told him

it was the most profitable thing he could do. None of the other boys

could ever make that boy out, he acted so strangely. He wouldn’t lie, no

matter how convenient it was. He just said it was wrong to lie, and that

was sufficient for him. And he was so honest that he was simply

ridiculous. The curious ways that that Jacob had, surpassed everything.

He wouldn’t play marbles on Sunday, he wouldn’t rob birds’ nests, he

wouldn’t give hot pennies to organ-grinders’ monkeys; he didn’t seem to

take any interest in any kind of rational amusement. So the other boys

used to try to reason it out and come to an understanding of him, but

they couldn’t arrive at any satisfactory conclusion. As I said before,

they could only figure out a sort of vague idea that he was “afflicted,”

and so they took him under their protection, and never allowed any harm

to come to him.

This good little boy read all the Sunday-school books; they were his

greatest delight. This was the whole secret of it. He believed in the

gold little boys they put in the Sunday-school book; he had every

confidence in them. He longed to come across one of them alive once;

but he never did. They all died before his time, maybe. Whenever he

read about a particularly good one he turned over quickly to the end to

see what became of him, because he wanted to travel thousands of miles

and gaze on him; but it wasn’t any use; that good little boy always died

in the last chapter, and there was a picture of the funeral, with all his

relations and the Sunday-school children standing around the grave in

pantaloons that were too short, and bonnets that were too large, and

everybody crying into handkerchiefs that had as much as a yard and a half

of stuff in them. He was always headed off in this way. He never could

see one of those good little boys on account of his always dying in the

last chapter.

Jacob had a noble ambition to be put in a Sunday school book. He wanted

to be put in, with pictures representing him gloriously declining to lie

to his mother, and her weeping for joy about it; and pictures

representing him standing on the doorstep giving a penny to a poor

beggar-woman with six children, and telling her to spend it freely, but

not to be extravagant, because extravagance is a sin; and pictures of him

magnanimously refusing to tell on the bad boy who always lay in wait for

him around the corner as he came from school, and welted him so over the

head with a lath, and then chased him home, saying, “Hi! hi!” as he

proceeded. That was the ambition of young Jacob Blivens. He wished to

be put in a Sunday-school book. It made him feel a lithe uncomfortable

sometimes when he reflected that the good little boys always died. He

loved to live, you know, and this was the most unpleasant feature about

being a Sunday-school-boo boy. He knew it was not healthy to be good.

He knew it was more fatal than consumption to be so supernaturally good

as the boys in the books were he knew that none of them had ever been

able to stand it long, and it pained him to think that if they put him in

a book he wouldn’t ever see it, or even if they did get the book out

before he died it wouldn’t be popular without any picture of his funeral

in the back part of it. It couldn’t be much of a Sunday-school book that

couldn’t tell about the advice he gave to the community when he was

dying. So at last, of course, he had to make up his mind to do the best

he could under the circumstances–to live right, and hang on as long as

he could and have his dying speech all ready when his time came.

But somehow nothing ever went right with the good little boy; nothing

ever turned out with him the way it turned out with the good little boys

in the books. They always had a good time, and the bad boys had the

broken legs; but in his case there was a screw loose somewhere, and it

all happened just the other way. When he found Jim Blake stealing

apples, and went under the tree to read to him about the bad little boy

who fell out of a neighbor’s apple tree and broke his arm, Jim fell out

of the tree, too, but he fell on him and broke his arm, and Jim wasn’t

hurt at all. Jacob couldn’t understand that. There wasn’t anything in

the books like it.

And once, when some bad boys pushed a blind man over in the mud, and

Jacob ran to help him up and receive his blessing, the blind man did not

give him any blessing at all, but whacked him over the head with his

stick and said he would like to catch him shoving him again, and then

pretending to help him up. This was not in accordance with any of the

books. Jacob looked them all over to see.

One thing that Jacob wanted to do was to find a lame dog that hadn’t any

place to stay, and was hungry and persecuted, and bring him home and pet

him and have that dog’s imperishable gratitude. And at last he found one

and was happy; and he brought him home and fed him, but when he was going

to pet him the dog flew at him and tore all the clothes off him except

those that were in front, and made a spectacle of him that was

astonishing. He examined authorities, but he could not understand the

matter. It was of the same breed of dogs that was in the books, but it

acted very differently. Whatever this boy did he got into trouble. The

very things the boys in the books got rewarded for turned out to be about

the most unprofitable things he could invest in.

Once, when he was on his way to Sunday-school, he saw some bad boys

starting off pleasuring in a sailboat. He was filled with consternation,

because he knew from his reading that boys who went sailing on Sunday

invariably got drowned. So he ran out on a raft to warn them, but a log

turned with him and slid him into the river. A man got him out pretty

soon, and the doctor pumped the water out of him, and gave him a fresh

start with his bellows, but he caught cold and lay sick abed nine weeks.

But the most unaccountable thing about it was that the bad boys in the

boat had a good time all day, and then reached home alive and well in the

most surprising manner. Jacob Blivens said there was nothing like these

things in the books. He was perfectly dumfounded.

When he got well he was a little discouraged, but he resolved to keep on

trying anyhow. He knew that so far his experiences wouldn’t do to go in

a book, but he hadn’t yet reached the allotted term of life for good

little boys, and he hoped to be able to make a record yet if he could

hold on till his time was fully up. If everything else failed he had his

dying speech to fall back on.

He examined his authorities, and found that it was now time for him to go

to sea as a cabin-boy. He called on a ship-captain and made his

application, and when the captain asked for his recommendations he

proudly drew out a tract and pointed to the word, “To Jacob Blivens, from

his affectionate teacher.” But the captain was a coarse, vulgar man, and

he said, “Oh, that be blowed! that wasn’t any proof that he knew how to

wash dishes or handle a slush-bucket, and he guessed he didn’t want him.”

This was altogether the most extraordinary thing that ever happened to

Jacob in all his life. A compliment from a teacher, on a tract, had

never failed to move the tenderest emotions of ship-captains, and open

the way to all offices of honor and profit in their gift it never had in

any book that ever he had read. He could hardly believe his senses.

This boy always had a hard time of it. Nothing ever came out according

to the authorities with him. At last, one day, when he was around

hunting up bad little boys to admonish, he found a lot of them in the old

iron-foundry fixing up a little joke on fourteen or fifteen dogs, which

they had tied together in long procession, and were going to ornament

with empty nitroglycerin cans made fast to their tails. Jacob’s heart

was touched. He sat down on one of those cans (for he never minded

grease when duty was before him), and he took hold of the foremost dog by

the collar, and turned his reproving eye upon wicked Tom Jones. But just

at that moment Alderman McWelter, full of wrath, stepped in. All the bad

boys ran away, but Jacob Blivens rose in conscious innocence and began

one of those stately little Sunday-school-book speeches which always

commence with “Oh, sir!” in dead opposition to the fact that no boy, good

or bad, ever starts a remark with “Oh, sir.” But the alderman never

waited to hear the rest. He took Jacob Blivens by the ear and turned him

around, and hit him a whack in the rear with the flat of his hand; and in

an instant that good little boy shot out through the roof and soared away

toward the sun with the fragments of those fifteen dogs stringing after

him like the tail of a kite. And there wasn’t a sign of that alderman or

that old iron-foundry left on the face of the earth; and, as for young

Jacob Blivens, he never got a chance to make his last dying speech after

all his trouble fixing it up, unless he made it to the birds; because,

although the bulk of him came down all right in a tree-top in an

adjoining county, the rest of him was apportioned around among four

townships, and so they had to hold five inquests on him to find out

whether he was dead or not, and how it occurred. You never saw a boy

scattered so.–[This glycerin catastrophe is borrowed from a floating

newspaper item, whose author’s name I would give if I knew it.–M. T.]

Thus perished the good little boy who did the best he could, but didn’t

come out according to the books. Every boy who ever did as he did

prospered except him. His case is truly remarkable. It will probably

never be accounted for.




Those evening bells! those evening bells!

How many a tale their music tells

Of youth, and home, and that sweet time

When last I heard their soothing chime.

Those joyous hours are passed away;

And many a heart that then was gay,

Within the tomb now darkly dwells,

And hears no more those evening bells.

And so ’twill be when I am gone

That tuneful peal will still ring on;

While other bards shall walk these dells,

And sing your praise, sweet evening bells.



These annual bills! these annual bills!

How many a song their discord trills

Of “truck” consumed, enjoyed, forgot,

Since I was skinned by last year’s lot!

Those joyous beans are passed away;

Those onions blithe, O where are they?

Once loved, lost, mourned–now vexing ILLS

Your shades troop back in annual bills!

And so ’twill be when I’m aground

These yearly duns will still go round,

While other bards, with frantic quills,

Shall damn and damn these annual bills!

NIAGARA [ Written about 1871.]

Niagara Falls is a most enjoyable place of resort. The hotels are

excellent, and the prices not at all exorbitant. The opportunities for

fishing are not surpassed in the country; in fact, they are not even

equaled elsewhere. Because, in other localities, certain places in the

streams are much better than others; but at Niagara one place is just as

good as another, for the reason that the fish do not bite anywhere, and

so there is no use in your walking five miles to fish, when you can

depend on being just as unsuccessful nearer home. The advantages of this

state of things have never heretofore been properly placed before the


The weather is cool in summer, and the walks and drives are all pleasant

and none of them fatiguing. When you start out to “do” the Falls you

first drive down about a mile, and pay a small sum for the privilege of

looking down from a precipice into the narrowest part of the Niagara

River. A railway “cut” through a hill would be as comely if it had the

angry river tumbling and foaming through its bottom. You can descend a

staircase here a hundred and fifty feet down, and stand at the edge of

the water. After you have done it, you will wonder why you did it; but

you will then be too late.

The guide will explain to you, in his blood-curdling way, how he saw the

little steamer, Maid of the Mist, descend the fearful rapids–how first

one paddle-box was out of sight behind the raging billows and then the

other, and at what point it was that her smokestack toppled overboard,

and where her planking began to break and part asunder–and how she did

finally live through the trip, after accomplishing the incredible feat of

traveling seventeen miles in six minutes, or six miles in seventeen

minutes, I have really forgotten which. But it was very extraordinary,

anyhow. It is worth the price of admission to hear the guide tell the

story nine times in succession to different parties, and never miss a

word or alter a sentence or a gesture.

Then you drive over to Suspension Bridge, and divide your misery between

the chances of smashing down two hundred feet into the river below, and

the chances of having the railway-train overhead smashing down onto you.

Either possibility is discomforting taken by itself, but, mixed together,

they amount in the aggregate to positive unhappiness.

On the Canada side you drive along the chasm between long ranks of

photographers standing guard behind their cameras, ready to make an

ostentatious frontispiece of you and your decaying ambulance, and your

solemn crate with a hide on it, which you are expected to regard in the

light of a horse, and a diminished and unimportant background of sublime

Niagara; and a great many people have the incredible effrontery or the

native depravity to aid and abet this sort of crime.

Any day, in the hands of these photographers, you may see stately

pictures of papa and mamma, Johnny and Bub and Sis or a couple of country

cousins, all smiling vacantly, and all disposed in studied and

uncomfortable attitudes in their carriage, and all looming up in their

awe-inspiring imbecility before the snubbed and diminished presentment of

that majestic presence whose ministering spirits are the rainbows, whose

voice is the thunder, whose awful front is veiled in clouds, who was

monarch here dead and forgotten ages before this hackful of small

reptiles was deemed temporarily necessary to fill a crack in the world’s

unnoted myriads, and will still be monarch here ages and decades of ages

after they shall have gathered themselves to their blood-relations, the

other worms, and been mingled with the unremembering dust.

There is no actual harm in making Niagara a background whereon to display

one’s marvelous insignificance in a good strong light, but it requires a

sort of superhuman self-complacency to enable one to do it.

When you have examined the stupendous Horseshoe Fall till you are

satisfied you cannot improve on it, you return to America by the new

Suspension Bridge, and follow up the bank to where they exhibit the Cave

of the Winds.

Here I followed instructions, and divested myself of all my clothing, and

put on a waterproof jacket and overalls. This costume is picturesque,

but not beautiful. A guide, similarly dressed, led the way down a flight

of winding stairs, which wound and wound, and still kept on winding long

after the thing ceased to be a novelty, and then terminated long before

it had begun to be a pleasure. We were then well down under the

precipice, but still considerably above the level of the river.

We now began to creep along flimsy bridges of a single plank, our persons

shielded from destruction by a crazy wooden railing, to which I clung

with both hands–not because I was afraid, but because I wanted to.

Presently the descent became steeper and the bridge flimsier, and sprays

from the American Fall began to rain down on us in fast increasing sheets

that soon became blinding, and after that our progress was mostly in the

nature of groping. Nova a furious wind began to rush out from behind the

waterfall, which seemed determined to sweep us from the bridge, and

scatter us on the rocks and among the torrents below. I remarked that I

wanted to go home; but it was too late. We were almost under the

monstrous wall of water thundering down from above, and speech was in

vain in the midst of such a pitiless crash of sound.

In another moment the guide disappeared behind the deluge, and bewildered

by the thunder, driven helplessly by the wind, and smitten by the arrowy

tempest of rain, I followed. All was darkness. Such a mad storming,

roaring, and bellowing of warring wind and water never crazed my ears

before. I bent my head, and seemed to receive the Atlantic on my back.

The world seemed going to destruction. I could not see anything, the

flood poured down savagely. I raised my head, with open mouth, and the

most of the American cataract went down my throat. If I had sprung a

leak now I had been lost. And at this moment I discovered that the

bridge had ceased, and we must trust for a foothold to the slippery and

precipitous rocks. I never was so scared before and survived it. But we

got through at last, and emerged into the open day, where we could stand

in front of the laced and frothy and seething world of descending water,

and look at it. When I saw how much of it there was, and how fearfully

in earnest it was, I was sorry I had gone behind it.

The noble Red Man has always been a friend and darling of mine. I love

to read about him in tales and legends and romances. I love to read of

his inspired sagacity, and his love of the wild free life of mountain and

forest, and his general nobility of character, and his stately

metaphorical manner of speech, and his chivalrous love for the dusky

maiden, and the picturesque pomp of his dress and accoutrements.

Especially the picturesque pomp of his dress and accoutrements. When I

found the shops at Niagara Falls full of dainty Indian beadwork, and

stunning moccasins, and equally stunning toy figures representing human

beings who carried their weapons in holes bored through their arms and

bodies, and had feet shaped like a pie, I was filled with emotion.

I knew that now, at last, I was going to come face to face with the noble

Red Man.

A lady clerk in a shop told me, indeed, that all her grand array of

curiosities were made by the Indians, and that they were plenty about the

Falls, and that they were friendly, and it would not be dangerous to

speak to them. And sure enough, as I approached the bridge leading over

to Luna Island, I came upon a noble Son of the Forest sitting under a

tree, diligently at work on a bead reticule. He wore a slouch hat and

brogans, and had a short black pipe in his mouth. Thus does the baneful

contact with our effeminate civilization dilute the picturesque pomp

which is so natural to the Indian when far removed from us in his native

haunts. I addressed the relic as follows:

“Is the Wawhoo-Wang-Wang of the Whack-a-Whack happy? Does the great

Speckled Thunder sigh for the war-path, or is his heart contented with

dreaming of the dusky maiden, the Pride of the Forest? Does the mighty

Sachem yearn to drink the blood of his enemies, or is he satisfied to

make bead reticules for the pappooses of the paleface? Speak, sublime

relic of bygone grandeur–venerable ruin, speak!”

The relic said:

“An’ is it mesilf, Dennis Hooligan, that ye’d be takon’ for a dirty

Injin, ye drawlin’, lantern-jawed, spider-legged divil! By the piper

that played before Moses, I’ll ate ye!”

I went away from there.

By and by, in the neighborhood of the Terrapin Tower, I came upon a

gentle daughter of the aborigines in fringed and beaded buckskin

moccasins and leggins, seated on a bench with her pretty wares about her.

She had just carved out a wooden chief that had a strong family

resemblance to a clothes-pin, and was now boring a hole through his

abdomen to put his bow through. I hesitated a moment, and then addressed


“Is the heart of the forest maiden heavy? Is the Laughing Tadpole

lonely? Does she mourn over the extinguished council-fires of her race,

and the vanished glory of her ancestors? Or does her sad spirit wander

afar toward the hunting-grounds whither her brave Gobbler-of-the-

Lightnings is gone? Why is my daughter silent? Has she ought against

the paleface stranger?”

The maiden said:

“Faix, an’ is it Biddy Malone ye dare to be callin’ names? Lave this, or

I’ll shy your lean carcass over the cataract, ye sniveling blaggard!”

I adjourned from there also.

“Confound these Indians!” I said. “They told me they were tame; but, if

appearances go for anything, I should say they were all on the warpath.”

I made one more attempt to fraternize with them, and only one. I came

upon a camp of them gathered in the shade of a great tree, making wampum

and moccasins, and addressed them in the language of friendship:

“Noble Red Men, Braves, Grand Sachems, War Chiefs, Squaws, and High Muck-

a-Mucks, the paleface from the land of the setting sun greets you! You,

Beneficent Polecat–you, Devourer of Mountains–you, Roaring Thundergust

–you, Bully Boy with a Glass eye–the paleface from beyond the great

waters greets you all! War and pestilence have thinned your ranks and

destroyed your once proud nation. Poker and seven-up, and a vain modern

expense for soap, unknown to your glorious ancestors, have depleted your

purses. Appropriating, in your simplicity, the property of others has

gotten you into trouble. Misrepresenting facts, in your simple

innocence, has damaged your reputation with the soulless usurper.

Trading for forty-rod whisky, to enable you to get drunk and happy and

tomahawk your families, has played the everlasting mischief with the

picturesque pomp of your dress, and here you are, in the broad light of

the nineteenth century, gotten up like the ragtag and bobtail of the

purlieus of New York. For shame! Remember your ancestors! Recall their

mighty deeds! Remember Uncas!–and Red jacket! and Hole in the Day!–

and Whoopdedoodledo! Emulate their achievements! Unfurl yourselves

under my banner, noble savages, illustrious guttersnipes–”

“Down wid him!” “Scoop the blaggard!” “Burn him!” “Bang him!”

“Dhround him!”

It was the quickest operation that ever was. I simply saw a sudden flash

in the air of clubs, brickbats, fists, bead-baskets, and moccasins–a

single flash, and they all appeared to hit me at once, and no two of them

in the same place. In the next instant the entire tribe was upon me.

They tore half the clothes off me; they broke my arms and legs; they gave

me a thump that dented the top of my head till it would hold coffee like

a saucer; and, to crown their disgraceful proceedings and add insult to

injury, they threw me over the Niagara Falls, and I got wet.

About ninety or a hundred feet from the top, the remains of my vest

caught on a projecting rock, and I was almost drowned before I could get

loose. I finally fell, and brought up in a world of white foam at the

foot of the Fall, whose celled and bubbly masses towered up several

inches above my head. Of course I got into the eddy. I sailed round and

round in it forty-four times–chasing a chip and gaining on it–each

round trip a half-mile–reaching for the same bush on the bank forty-four

times, and just exactly missing it by a hair’s-breadth every time.

At last a man walked down and sat down close to that bush, and put a pipe

in his mouth, and lit a match, and followed me with one eye and kept the

other on the match, while he sheltered it in his hands from the wind.

Presently a puff of wind blew it out. The next time I swept around he


“Got a match?”

“Yes; in my other vest. Help me out, please.”

“Not for Joe.”

When I came round again, I said:

“Excuse the seemingly impertinent curiosity of a drowning man, but will

you explain this singular conduct of yours?”

“With pleasure. I am the coroner. Don’t hurry on my account. I can

wait for you. But I wish I had a match.”

I said: “Take my place, and I’ll go and get you one.”

He declined. This lack of confidence on his part created a coldness

between us, and from that time forward I avoided him. It was my idea,

in case anything happened to me, to so time the occurrence as to throw my

custom into the hands of the opposition coroner on the American side.

At last a policeman came along, and arrested me for disturbing the peace

by yelling at people on shore for help. The judge fined me, but had the

advantage of him. My money was with my pantaloons, and my pantaloons

were with the Indians.

Thus I escaped. I am now lying in a very critical condition. At least I

am lying anyway—critical or not critical. I am hurt all over, but I

cannot tell the full extent yet, because the doctor is not done taking

inventory. He will make out my manifest this evening. However, thus far

he thinks only sixteen of my wounds are fatal. I don’t mind the others.

Upon regaining my right mind, I said:

“It is an awful savage tribe of Indians that do the beadwork and

moccasins for Niagara Falls, doctor. Where are they from?”

“Limerick, my son.”

ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS –[Written about 1865.]

“MORAL STATISTICIAN.”–I don’t want any of your statistics; I took your

whole batch and lit my pipe with it. I hate your kind of people. You

are always ciphering out how much a man’s health is injured, and how much

his intellect is impaired, and how many pitiful dollars and cents he

wastes in the course of ninety-two years’ indulgence in the fatal

practice of smoking; and in the equally fatal practice of drinking

coffee; and in playing billiards occasionally; and in taking a glass of

wine at dinner, etc., etc., etc. And you are always figuring out how

many women have been burned to death because of the dangerous fashion of

wearing expansive hoops, etc., etc., etc. You never see more than one

side of the question. You are blind to the fact that most old men in

America smoke and drink coffee, although, according to your theory, they

ought to have died young; and that hearty old Englishmen drink wine and

survive it, and portly old Dutchmen both drink and smoke freely, and yet

grow older and fatter all the time. And you never by to find out how

much solid comfort, relaxation, and enjoyment a man derives from smoking

in the course of a lifetime (which is worth ten times the money he would

save by letting it alone), nor the appalling aggregate of happiness lost

in a lifetime your kind of people from not smoking. Of course you can

save money by denying yourself all the little vicious enjoyments for

fifty years; but then what can you do with it? What use can you put it

to? Money can’t save your infinitesimal soul. All the use that money

can be put to is to purchase comfort and enjoyment in this life;

therefore, as you are an enemy to comfort and enjoyment, where is the use

of accumulating cash? It won’t do for you say that you can use it to

better purpose in furnishing a good table, and in charities, and in

supporting tract societies, because you know yourself that you people who

have no petty vices are never known to give away a cent, and that you

stint yourselves so in the matter of food that you are always feeble and

hungry. And you never dare to laugh in the daytime for fear some poor

wretch, seeing you in a good humor, will try to borrow a dollar of you;

and in church you are always down on your knees, with your eyes buried in

the cushion, when the contribution-box comes around; and you never give

the revenue officer: full statement of your income. Now you know these

things yourself, don’t you? Very well, then what is the use of your

stringing out your miserable lives to a lean and withered old age? What

is the use of your saving money that is so utterly worthless to you? In

a word, why don’t you go off somewhere and die, and not be always trying

to seduce people into becoming as “ornery” and unlovable as you are

yourselves, by your villainous “moral statistics”? Now I don’t approve

of dissipation, and I don’t indulge in it, either; but I haven’t a

particle of confidence in a man who has no redeeming petty vices, and so

I don’t want to hear from you any more. I think you are the very same

man who read me a long lecture last week about the degrading vice of

smoking cigars, and then came back, in my absence, with your

reprehensible fireproof gloves on, and carried off my beautiful parlor


“YOUNG AUTHOR.”–Yes, Agassiz does recommend authors to eat fish, because

the phosphorus in it makes brain. So far you are correct. But I cannot

help you to a decision about the amount you need to eat–at least, not

with certainty. If the specimen composition you send is about your fair

usual average, I should judge that perhaps a couple of whales would be

all you would want for the present. Not the largest kind, but simply

good, middling-sized whales.

“SIMON WHEELER,” Sonora.–The following simple and touching remarks and

accompanying poem have just come to hand from the rich gold-mining region

of Sonora:

To Mr. Mark Twain: The within parson, which I have set to poetry

under the name and style of “He Done His Level Best,” was one among

the whitest men I ever see, and it ain’t every man that knowed him

that can find it in his heart to say he’s glad the poor cuss is

busted and gone home to the States. He was here in an early day,

and he was the handyest man about takin’ holt of anything that come

along you most ever see, I judge. He was a cheerful, stirnn’

cretur, always doin’ somethin’, and no man can say he ever see him

do anything by halvers. Preachin was his nateral gait, but he

warn’t a man to lay back a twidle his thumbs because there didn’t

happen to be nothin’ do in his own especial line–no, sir, he was a

man who would meander forth and stir up something for hisself. His

last acts was to go his pile on “Kings-and” (calkatin’ to fill, but

which he didn’t fill), when there was a “flush” out agin him, and

naterally, you see, he went under. And so he was cleaned out as you

may say, and he struck the home-trail, cheerful but flat broke. I

knowed this talonted man in Arkansaw, and if you would print this

humbly tribute to his gorgis abilities, you would greatly obleege

his onhappy friend.


Was he a mining on the flat–

He done it with a zest;

Was he a leading of the choir–

He done his level best.

If he’d a reg’lar task to do,

He never took no rest;

Or if ’twas off-and-on-the same–

He done his level best.

If he was preachin’ on his beat,

He’d tramp from east to west,

And north to south-in cold and heat

He done his level best.

He’d yank a sinner outen (Hades),**

And land him with the blest;

Then snatch a prayer’n waltz in again,

And do his level best.

**Here I have taken a slight liberty with the original MS. “Hades”

does not make such good meter as the other word of one syllable, but

it sounds better.

He’d cuss and sing and howl and pray,

And dance and drink and jest,

And lie and steal-all one to him–

He done his level best.

Whate’er this man was sot to do,

He done it with a zest;

No matter what his contract was,


Verily, this man was gifted with “gorgis abilities,” and it is a

happiness to me to embalm the memory of their luster in these columns.

If it were not that the poet crop is unusually large and rank in

California this year, I would encourage you to continue writing, Simon

Wheeler; but, as it is, perhaps it might be too risky in you to enter

against so much opposition.

“PROFESSIONAL BEGGAR.”–NO; you are not obliged to take greenbacks at


“MELTON MOWBRAY,” Dutch Flat.–This correspondent sends a lot of

doggerel, and says it has been regarded as very good in Dutch Flat. I

give a specimen verse:

The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold,

And his cohorts were gleaming with purple and gold;

And the sheen of his spears was like stars on the sea,

When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.**

**This piece of pleasantry, published in a San Francisco paper, was

mistaken by the country journals for seriousness, and many and loud

were the denunciations of the ignorance of author and editor, in not

knowing that the lines in question were “written by Byron.”

There, that will do. That may be very good Dutch Flat poetry, but it

won’t do in the metropolis. It is too smooth and blubbery; it reads like

butter milk gurgling from a jug. What the people ought to have is

something spirited–something like “Johnny Comes Marching Home.” However

keep on practising, and you may succeed yet. There is genius in you, but

too much blubber.

“ST. CLAIR HIGGINS.” Los Angeles.–“My life is a failure; I have

adored, wildly, madly, and she whom I love has turned coldly from me

and shed her affections upon another. What would you advise me to


You should set your affections on another also–or on several, if there

are enough to go round. Also, do everything you can to make your former

flame unhappy. There is an absurd idea disseminated in novels, that the

happier a girl is with another man, the happier it makes the old lover

she has blighted. Don’t allow yourself to believe any such nonsense as

that. The more cause that girl finds to regret that she did not marry

you, the more comfortable you will feel over it. It isn’t poetical, but

it is mighty sound doctrine.

“ARITIIMETICUS.” Virginia, Nevada.–“If it would take a cannon-ball

3 and 1/3 seconds to travel four miles, and 3 and 3/8 seconds to

travel the next four, and 3 and 5/8 to travel the next four, and if

its rate of progress continued to diminish in the same ratio, how

long would it take it to go fifteen hundred million miles?”

I don’t know.

“AMBITIOUS LEARNER,” Oakland.–Yes; you are right America was not

discovered by Alexander Selkirk.

“DISCARDED LOVER.”–“I loved, and still love, the beautiful Edwitha

Howard, and intended to marry her. Yet, during my temporary absence

at Benicia, last week, alas! she married Jones. Is my happiness to

be thus blasted for life? Have I no redress?”

Of course you have. All the law, written and unwritten, is on your side.

The intention and not the act constitutes crime–in other words,

constitutes the deed. If you call your bosom friend a fool, and intend

it for an insult, it is an insult; but if you do it playfully, and

meaning no insult, it is not an insult. If you discharge a pistol

accidentally, and kill a man, you can go free, for you have done no

murder; but if you try to kill a man, and manifestly intend to kill him,

but fail utterly to do it, the law still holds that the intention

constituted the crime, and you are guilty of murder. Ergo, if you had

married Edwitha accidentally, and without really intending to do it, you

would not actually be married to her at all, because the act of marriage

could not be complete without the intention. And ergo, in the strict

spirit of the law, since you deliberately intended to marry Edwitha, and

didn’t do it, you are married to her all the same–because, as I said

before, the intention constitutes the crime. It is as clear as day that

Edwitha is your wife, and your redress lies in taking a club and

mutilating Jones with it as much as you can. Any man has a right to

protect his own wife from the advances of other men. But you have

another alternative–you were married to Edwitha first, because of your

deliberate intention, and now you can prosecute her for bigamy, in

subsequently marrying Jones. But there is another phase in this

complicated case: You intended to marry Edwitha, and consequently,

according to law, she is your wife–there is no getting around that; but

she didn’t marry you, and if she never intended to marry you, you are not

her husband, of course. Ergo, in marrying Jones, she was guilty of

bigamy, because she was the wife of another man at the time; which is all

very well as far as it goes–but then, don’t you see, she had no other

husband when she married Jones, and consequently she was not guilty of

bigamy. Now, according to this view of the case, Jones married a

spinster, who was a widow at the same time and another man’s wife at the

same time, and yet who had no husband and never had one, and never had

any intention of getting married, and therefore, of course, never had

been married; and by the same reasoning you are a bachelor, because you

have never been any one’s husband; and a married man, because you have a

wife living; and to all intents and purposes a widower, because you have

been deprived of that wife; and a consummate ass for going off to Benicia

in the first place, while things were so mixed. And by this time I have

got myself so tangled up in the intricacies of this extraordinary case

that I shall have to give up any further attempt to advise you–I might

get confused and fail to make myself understood. I think I could take up

the argument where I left off, and by following it closely awhile,

perhaps I could prove to your satisfaction, either that you never existed

at all, or that you are dead now, and consequently don’t need the

faithless Edwitha–I think I could do that, if it would afford you any


“ARTHUR AUGUSTUS.”–No; you are wrong; that is the proper way to throw a

brickbat or a tomahawk; but it doesn’t answer so well for a bouquet; you

will hurt somebody if you keep it up. Turn your nosegay upside down,

take it by the stems, and toss it with an upward sweep. Did you ever

pitch quoits? that is the idea. The practice of recklessly heaving

immense solid bouquets, of the general size and weight of prize cabbages,

from the dizzy altitude of the galleries, is dangerous and very

reprehensible. Now, night before last, at the Academy of Music, just

after Signorina had finished that exquisite melody, “The Last Rose of

Summer,” one of these floral pile-drivers came cleaving down through the

atmosphere of applause, and if she hadn’t deployed suddenly to the right,

it would have driven her into the floor like a shinglenail. Of course

that bouquet was well meant; but how would you like to have been the

target? A sincere compliment is always grateful to a lady, so long as

you don’t try to knock her down with it.

“YOUNG MOTHER.”–And so you think a baby is a thing of beauty and a joy

forever? Well, the idea is pleasing, but not original; every cow thinks

the same of its own calf. Perhaps the cow may not think it so elegantly,

but still she thinks it nevertheless. I honor the cow for it. We all

honor this touching maternal instinct wherever we find it, be it in the

home of luxury or in the humble cove-shed. But really, madam, when I

come to examine the matter in all its bearings, I find that the

correctness of your assertion does not assert itself in all cases.

A soiled baby, with a neglected nose, cannot be conscientiously regarded

as a thing of beauty; and inasmuch as babyhood spans but three short

years, no baby is competent to be a joy “forever.” It pains me thus to

demolish two-thirds of your pretty sentiment in a single sentence; but

the position I hold in this chair requires that I shall not permit you to

deceive and mislead the public with your plausible figures of speech.

I know a female baby, aged eighteen months, in this city, which cannot

hold out as a “joy” twenty-four hours on a stretch, let alone “forever.”

And it possesses some of the most remarkable eccentricities of character

and appetite that have ever fallen under my notice. I will set down here

a statement of this infant’s operations (conceived, planned, and earned

out by itself, and without suggestion or assistance from its mother or

any one else), during a single day; and what I shall say can be

substantiated by the sworn testimony of witnesses.

It commenced by eating one dozen large blue-mass pills, box and all; then

it fell down a flight of stairs, and arose with a blue and purple knot on

its forehead, after which it proceeded in quest of further refreshment

and amusement. It found a glass trinket ornamented with brass-work

–smashed up and ate the glass, and then swallowed the brass.

Then it drank about twenty drops of laudanum, and more than a dozen

tablespoonfuls of strong spirits of camphor. The reason why it took no

more laudanum was because there was no more to take. After this it lay

down on its back, and shoved five or six, inches of a silver-headed

whalebone cane down its throat; got it fast there, and it was all its

mother could do to pull the cane out again, without pulling out some of

the child with it. Then, being hungry for glass again, it broke up

several wine glasses, and fell to eating and swallowing the fragments,

not minding a cut or two. Then it ate a quantity of butter, pepper,

salt, and California matches, actually taking a spoonful of butter, a

spoonful of salt, a spoonful of pepper, and three or four lucifer matches

at each mouthful. (I will remark here that this thing of beauty likes

painted German lucifers, and eats all she can get of them; but she

prefers California matches, which I regard as a compliment to our home

manufactures of more than ordinary value, coming, as it does, from one

who is too young to flatter.) Then she washed her head with soap and

water, and afterward ate what soap was left, and drank as much of the

suds as she had room for; after which she sallied forth and took the cow

familiarly by the tail, and got kicked heels over head. At odd times

during the day, when this joy forever happened to have nothing particular

on hand, she put in the time by climbing up on places, and falling down

off them, uniformly damaging her self in the operation. As young as she

is, she speaks many words tolerably distinctly; and being plain spoken in

other respects, blunt and to the point, she opens conversation with all

strangers, male or female, with the same formula, “How do, Jim?”

Not being familiar with the ways of children, it is possible that I have

been magnifying into matter of surprise things which may not strike any

one who is familiar with infancy as being at all astonishing. However, I

cannot believe that such is the case, and so I repeat that my report of

this baby’s performances is strictly true; and if any one doubts it,

I can produce the child. I will further engage that she will devour

anything that is given her (reserving to myself only the right to exclude

anvils), and fall down from any place to which she may be elevated

(merely stipulating that her preference for alighting on her head shall

be respected, and, therefore, that the elevation chosen shall be high

enough to enable her to accomplish this to her satisfaction). But I find

I have wandered from my subject; so, without further argument, I will

reiterate my conviction that not all babies are things of beauty and joys


“ARITHMETICUS.” Virginia, Nevada.–“I am an enthusiastic student of

mathematics, and it is so vexatious to me to find my progress

constantly impeded by these mysterious arithmetical technicalities.

Now do tell me what the difference is between geometry and


Here you come again with your arithmetical conundrums, when I am

suffering death with a cold in the head. If you could have seen the

expression of scorn that darkened my countenance a moment ago, and was

instantly split from the center in every direction like a fractured

looking-glass by my last sneeze, you never would have written that

disgraceful question. Conchology is a science which has nothing to do

with mathematics; it relates only to shells. At the same time, however,

a man who opens oysters for a hotel, or shells a fortified town, or sucks

eggs, is not, strictly speaking, a conchologist-a fine stroke of sarcasm

that, but it will be lost on such an unintellectual clam as you. Now

compare conchology and geometry together, and you will see what the

difference is, and your question will be answered. But don’t torture me

with any more arithmetical horrors until you know I am rid of my cold. I

feel the bitterest animosity toward you at this moment-bothering me in

this way, when I can do nothing but sneeze and rage and snort pocket-

handkerchiefs to atoms. If I had you in range of my nose now I would

blow your brains out.


–[Being a letter written to a Poultry Society that had conferred a

complimentary membership upon the author. Written about 1870.]

Seriously, from early youth I have taken an especial interest in the

subject of poultry-raising, and so this membership touches a ready

sympathy in my breast. Even as a schoolboy, poultry-raising was a study

with me, and I may say without egotism that as early as the age of

seventeen I was acquainted with all the best and speediest methods of

raising chickens, from raising them off a roost by burning lucifer

matches under their noses, down to lifting them off a fence on a frosty

night by insinuating the end of a warm board under their heels. By the

time I was twenty years old, I really suppose I had raised more poultry

than any one individual in all the section round about there. The very

chickens came to know my talent by and by. The youth of both sexes

ceased to paw the earth for worms, and old roosters that came to crow,

“remained to pray,” when I passed by.

I have had so much experience in the raising of fowls that I cannot but

think that a few hints from me might be useful to the society. The two

methods I have already touched upon are very simple, and are only used in

the raising of the commonest class of fowls; one is for summer, the other

for winter. In the one case you start out with a friend along about

eleven o’clock’ on- a summer’s night (not later, because in some states–

especially in California and Oregon–chickens always rouse up just at

midnight and crow from ten to thirty minutes, according to the ease or

difficulty they experience in getting the public waked up), and your

friend carries with him a sack. Arrived at the henroost (your

neighbor’s, not your own), you light a match and hold it under first one

and then another pullet’s nose until they are willing to go into that bag

without making any trouble about it. You then return home, either taking

the bag with you or leaving it behind, according as circumstances shall

dictate. N. B.–I have seen the time when it was eligible and

appropriate to leave the sack behind and walk off with considerable

velocity, without ever leaving any word where to send it.

In the case of the other method mentioned for raising poultry, your

friend takes along a covered vessel with a charcoal fire in it, and you

carry a long slender plank. This is a frosty night, understand. Arrived

at the tree, or fence, or other henroost (your own if you are an idiot),

you warm the end of your plank in your friend’s fire vessel, and then

raise it aloft and ease it up gently against a slumbering chicken’s foot.

If the subject of your attentions is a true bird, he will infallibly

return thanks with a sleepy cluck or two, and step out and take up

quarters on the plank, thus becoming so conspicuously accessory before

the fact to his own murder as to make it a grave question in our minds as

it once was in the mind of Blackstone, whether he is not really and

deliberately, committing suicide in the second degree. [But you enter

into a contemplation of these legal refinements subsequently not then.]

When you wish to raise a fine, large, donkey voiced Shanghai rooster, you

do it with a lasso, just as you would a bull. It is because he must

choked, and choked effectually, too. It is the only good, certain way,

for whenever he mentions a matter which he is cordially interested in,

the chances are ninety-nine in a hundred that he secures somebody else’s

immediate attention to it too, whether it day or night.

The Black Spanish is an exceedingly fine bird and a costly one. Thirty-

five dollars is the usual figure and fifty a not uncommon price for a

specimen. Even its eggs are worth from a dollar to a dollar and a half

apiece, and yet are so unwholesome that the city physician seldom or

never orders them for the workhouse. Still I have once or twice procured

as high as a dozen at a time for nothing, in the dark of the moon. The

best way to raise the Black Spanish fowl is to go late in the evening and

raise coop and all. The reason I recommend this method is that, the

birds being so valuable, the owners do not permit them to roost around

promiscuously, they put them in a coop as strong as a fireproof safe and

keep it in the kitchen at night. The method I speak of is not always a

bright and satisfying success, and yet there are so many little articles

of vertu about a kitchen, that if you fail on the coop you can generally

bring away something else. I brought away a nice steel trap one night,

worth ninety cents.

But what is the use in my pouring out my whole intellect on this subject?

I have shown the Western New York Poultry Society that they have taken to

their bosom a party who is not a spring chicken by any means, but a man

who knows all about poultry, and is just as high up in the most efficient

methods of raising it as the president of the institution himself.

I thank these gentlemen for the honorary membership they have conferred

upon me, and shall stand at all times ready and willing to testify my

good feeling and my official zeal by deeds as well as by this hastily

penned advice and information. Whenever they are ready to go to raising

poultry, let them call for me any evening after eleven o’clock,


[As related to the author of this book by Mr. McWilliams, a pleasant New

York gentleman whom the said author met by chance on a journey.]

Well, to go back to where I was before I digressed to explain to you how

that frightful and incurable disease, membranous croup,[Diphtheria D.W.]

was ravaging the town and driving all mothers mad with terror, I called

Mrs. McWilliams’s attention to little Penelope, and said:

“Darling, I wouldn’t let that child be chewing that pine stick if I were


“Precious, where is the harm in it?” said she, but at the same time

preparing to take away the stick for women cannot receive even the most

palpably judicious suggestion without arguing it, that is married women.

I replied:

“Love, it is notorious that pine is the least nutritious wood that a

child can eat.”

My wife’s hand paused, in the act of taking the stick, and returned

itself to her lap. She bridled perceptibly, and said:

“Hubby, you know better than that. You know you do. Doctors all say

that the turpentine in pine wood is good for weak back and the kidneys.”

“Ah–I was under a misapprehension. I did not know that the child’s

kidneys and spine were affected, and that the family physician had


“Who said the child’s spine and kidneys were affected?”

“My love, you intimated it.”

“The idea! I never intimated anything of the kind.”

“Why, my dear, it hasn’t been two minutes since you said–”

“Bother what I said! I don’t care what I did say. There isn’t any harm

in the child’s chewing a bit of pine stick if she wants to, and you know

it perfectly well. And she shall chew it, too. So there, now!”

“Say no more, my dear. I now see the force of your reasoning, and I will

go and order two or three cords of the best pine wood to-day. No child

of mine shall want while I–”

“Oh, please go along to your office and let me have some peace. A body

can never make the simplest remark but you must take it up and go to

arguing and arguing and arguing till you don’t know what you are talking

about, and you never do.”

“Very well, it shall be as you say. But there is a want of logic in your

last remark which–”

However, she was gone with a flourish before I could finish, and had

taken the child with her. That night at dinner she confronted me with a

face a white as a sheet:

“Oh, Mortimer, there’s another! Little Georgi Gordon is taken.”

“Membranous croup?”

“Membranous croup.”

“Is there any hope for him?”

“None in the wide world. Oh, what is to be come of us!”

By and by a nurse brought in our Penelope to say good night and offer the

customary prayer at the mother’s knee. In the midst of “Now I lay me

down to sleep,” she gave a slight cough! My wife fell back like one

stricken with death. But the next moment she was up and brimming with

the activities which terror inspires.

She commanded that the child’s crib be removed from the nursery to our

bedroom; and she went along to see the order executed. She took me with

her, of course. We got matters arranged with speed. A cot-bed was put

up in my wife’s dressing room for the nurse. But now Mrs. McWilliams

said we were too far away from the other baby, and( what if he were to

have the symptoms in the night–and she blanched again, poor thing.

We then restored the crib and the nurse to the nursery and put up a bed

for ourselves in a room adjoining.

Presently, however, Mrs. McWilliams said suppose the baby should catch it

from Penelope? This thought struck a new panic to her heart, and the

tribe of us could not get the crib out of the nursery again fast enough

to satisfy my wife, though she assisted in her own person and well-nigh

pulled the crib to pieces in her frantic hurry.

We moved down-stairs; but there was no place there to stow the nurse, and

Mrs. McWilliams said the nurse’s experience would be an inestimable help.

So we returned, bag and baggage, to our own bedroom once more, and felt a

great gladness, like storm-buffeted birds that have found their nest


Mrs. McWilliams sped to the nursery to see how things were going on

there. She was back in a moment with a new dread. She said:

“What can make Baby sleep so?”

I said:

“Why, my darling, Baby always sleeps like a graven image.”

“I know. I know; but there’s something peculiar about his sleep now.

He seems to–to–he seems to breathe so regularly. Oh, this is


“But, my dear, he always breathes regularly.”

“Oh, I know it, but there’s something frightful about it now. His nurse

is too young and inexperienced. Maria shall stay there with her, and be

on hand if anything happens.”

“That is a good idea, but who will help you?”

“You can help me all I want. I wouldn’t allow anybody to do anything but

myself, anyhow, at such a time as this.”

I said I would feel mean to lie abed and sleep, and leave her to watch

and toil over our little patient all the weary night. But she reconciled

me to it. So old Maria departed and took up her ancient quarters in the


Penelope coughed twice in her sleep.

“Oh, why don’t that doctor come! Mortimer, this room is too warm. This

room is certainly too warm. Turn off the register-quick!”

I shut it off, glancing at the thermometer at the same time, and

wondering to myself if 70 was too warm for a sick child.

The coachman arrived from down-town now with the news that our physician

was ill and confined to his bed. Mrs. McWilliams turned a dead eye upon

me, and said in a dead voice:

“There is a Providence in it. It is foreordained. He never was sick

before. Never. We have not been living as we ought to live, Mortimer.

Time and time again I have told you so. Now you see the result. Our

child will never get well. Be thankful if you can forgive yourself; I

never can forgive myself.”

I said, without intent to hurt, but with heedless choice of words, that I

could not see that we had been living such an abandoned life.

“Mortimer! Do you want to bring the judgment upon Baby, too!”

Then she began to cry, but suddenly exclaimed:

“The doctor must have sent medicines!”

I said:

“Certainly. They are here. I was only waiting for you to give me a


“Well do give them to me! Don’t you know that every moment is precious

now? But what was the use in sending medicines, when he knows that the

disease is incurable?”

I said that while there was life there was hope.

“Hope! Mortimer, you know no more what you are talking about than the

child unborn. If you would– As I live, the directions say give one

teaspoonful once an hour! Once an hour!–as if we had a whole year

before us to save the child in! Mortimer, please hurry. Give the poor

perishing thing a tablespoonful, and try to be quick!”

“Why, my dear, a tablespoonful might–”

“Don’t drive me frantic! . . . There, there, there, my precious, my

own; it’s nasty bitter stuff, but it’s good for Nelly–good for mother’s

precious darling; and it will make her well. There, there, there, put

the little head on mamma’s breast and go to sleep, and pretty soon–oh,

I know she can’t live till morning! Mortimer, a tablespoonful every

half-hour will–Oh, the child needs belladonna, too; I know she does–and

aconite. Get them, Mortimer. Now do let me have my way. You know

nothing about these things.”

We now went to bed, placing the crib close to my wife’s pillow. All this

turmoil had worn upon me, and within two minutes I was something more

than half asleep. Mrs. McWilliams roused me:

“Darling, is that register turned on?”


“I thought as much. Please turn it on at once. This room is cold.”

I turned it on, and presently fell asleep again. I was aroused once


“Dearie, would you mind moving the crib to your side of the bed? It is

nearer the register.”

I moved it, but had a collision with the rug and woke up the child. I

dozed off once more, while my wife quieted the sufferer. But in a little

while these words came murmuring remotely through the fog of my


“Mortimer, if we only had some goose grease–will you ring?”

I climbed dreamily out, and stepped on a cat, which responded with a

protest and would have got a convincing kick for it if a chair had not

got it instead.

“Now, Mortimer, why do you want to turn up the gas and wake up the child


“Because I want to see how much I am hurt, Caroline.”

“Well, look at the chair, too–I have no doubt it is ruined. Poor cat,

suppose you had–”

“Now I am not going to suppose anything about the cat. It never would

have occurred if Maria had been allowed to remain here and attend to

these duties, which are in her line and are not in mine.”

“Now, Mortimer, I should think you would be ashamed to make a remark like

that. It is a pity if you cannot do the few little things I ask of you

at such an awful time as this when our child–”

“There, there, I will do anything you want. But I can’t raise anybody

with this bell. They’re all gone to bed. Where is the goose grease?”

“On the mantelpiece in the nursery. If you’ll step there and speak to


I fetched the goose grease and went to sleep again. Once more I was


“Mortimer, I so hate to disturb you, but the room is still too cold for

me to try to apply this stuff. Would you mind lighting the fire? It is

all ready to touch a match to.”

I dragged myself out and lit the fire, and then sat down disconsolate.

“Mortimer, don’t sit there and catch your death of cold. Come to bed.”

As I was stepping in she said:

“But wait a moment. Please give the child some more of the medicine.”

Which I did. It was a medicine which made a child more or less lively;

so my wife made use of its waking interval to strip it and grease it all

over with the goose oil. I was soon asleep once more, but once more I

had to get up.

“Mortimer, I feel a draft. I feel it distinctly. There is nothing so

bad for this disease as a draft. Please move the crib in front of the


I did it; and collided with the rug again, which I threw in the fire.

Mrs. McWilliams sprang out of bed and rescued it and we had some words.

I had another trifling interval of sleep, and then got up, by request,

and constructed a flax-seed poultice. This was placed upon the child’s

breast and left there to do its healing work.

A wood-fire is not a permanent thing. I got up every twenty minutes and

renewed ours, and this gave Mrs. McWilliams the opportunity to shorten

the times of giving the medicines by ten minutes, which was a great

satisfaction to her. Now and then, between times, I reorganized the

flax-seed poultices, and applied sinapisms and other sorts of blisters

where unoccupied places could be found upon the child. Well, toward

morning the wood gave out and my wife wanted me to go down cellar and get

some more. I said:

“My dear, it is a laborious job, and the child must be nearly warm

enough, with her extra clothing. Now mightn’t we put on another layer of

poultices and–”

I did not finish, because I was interrupted. I lugged wood up from below

for some little time, and then turned in and fell to snoring as only a

man can whose strength is all gone and whose soul is worn out. Just at

broad daylight I felt a grip on my shoulder that brought me to my senses

suddenly. My wife was glaring down upon me and gasping. As soon as she

could command her tongue she said:

“It is all over! All over! The child’s perspiring! What shall we do?”

“Mercy, how you terrify me! I don’t know what we ought to do. Maybe if

we scraped her and put her in the draft again–”

“Oh, idiot! There is not a moment to lose! Go for the doctor.

Go yourself. Tell him he must come, dead or alive.”

I dragged that poor sick man from his bed and brought him. He looked at

the child and said she was not dying. This was joy unspeakable to me,

but it made my wife as mad as if he had offered her a personal affront.

Then he said the child’s cough was only caused by some trifling

irritation or other in the throat. At this I thought my wife had a mind

to show him the door. Now the doctor said he would make the child cough

harder and dislodge the trouble. So he gave her something that sent her

into a spasm of coughing, and presently up came a little wood splinter or


“This child has no membranous croup,” said he. “She has been chewing a

bit of pine shingle or something of the kind, and got some little slivers

in her throat. They won’t do her any hurt.”

“No,” said I, “I can well believe that. Indeed, the turpentine that is

in them is very good for certain sorts of diseases that are peculiar to

children. My wife will tell you so.”

But she did not. She turned away in disdain and left the room; and since

that time there is one episode in our life which we never refer to.

Hence the tide of our days flows by in deep and untroubled serenity.

[Very few married men have such an experience as McWilliams’s, and so the

author of this book thought that maybe the novelty of it would give it a

passing interest to the reader.]


I was a very smart child at the age of thirteen–an unusually smart

child, I thought at the time. It was then that I did my first newspaper

scribbling, and most unexpectedly to me it stirred up a fine sensation in

the community. It did, indeed, and I was very proud of it, too. I was a

printer’s “devil,” and a progressive and aspiring one. My uncle had me

on his paper (the Weekly Hannibal journal, two dollars a year in advance

–five hundred subscribers, and they paid in cordwood, cabbages, and

unmarketable turnips), and on a lucky summer’s day he left town to be

gone a week, and asked me if I thought I could edit one issue of the

paper judiciously. Ah! didn’t I want to try! Higgins was the editor on

the rival paper. He had lately been jilted, and one night a friend found

an open note on the poor fellow’s bed, in which he stated that he could

not longer endure life and had drowned himself in Bear Creek. The friend

ran down there and discovered Higgins wading back to shore. He had

concluded he wouldn’t. The village was full of it for several days,

but Higgins did not suspect it. I thought this was a fine opportunity.

I wrote an elaborately wretched account of the whole matter, and then

illustrated it with villainous cuts engraved on the bottoms of wooden

type with a jackknife–one of them a picture of Higgins wading out into

the creek in his shirt, with a lantern, sounding the depth of the water

with a walking-stick. I thought it was desperately funny, and was

densely unconscious that there was any moral obliquity about such a

publication. Being satisfied with this effort I looked around for other

worlds to conquer, and it struck me that it would make good, interesting

matter to charge the editor of a neighboring country paper with a piece

of gratuitous rascality and “see him squirm.”

I did it, putting the article into the form of a parody on the “Burial of

Sir John Moore”–and a pretty crude parody it was, too.

Then I lampooned two prominent citizens outrageously–not because they

had done anything to deserve, but merely because I thought it was my duty

to make the paper lively.

Next I gently touched up the newest stranger–the lion of the day, the

gorgeous journeyman tailor from Quincy. He was a simpering coxcomb of

the first water, and the “loudest” dressed man in the state. He was an

inveterate woman-killer. Every week he wrote lushy “poetry” for the

journal, about his newest conquest. His rhymes for my week were headed,

“To MARY IN H–l,” meaning to Mary in Hannibal, of course. But while

setting up the piece I was suddenly riven from head to heel by what I

regarded as a perfect thunderbolt of humor, and I compressed it into a

snappy footnote at the bottom–thus: “We will let this thing pass, just

this once; but we wish Mr. J. Gordon Runnels to understand distinctly

that we have a character to sustain, and from this time forth when he

wants to commune with his friends in h–l, he must select some other

medium than the columns of this journal!”

The paper came out, and I never knew any little thing attract so much

attention as those playful trifles of mine.

For once the Hannibal Journal was in demand–a novelty it had not

experienced before. The whole town was stirred. Higgins dropped in with

a double-barreled shotgun early in the forenoon. When he found that it

was an infant (as he called me) that had done him the damage, he simply

pulled my ears and went away; but he threw up his situation that night

and left town for good. The tailor came with his goose and a pair of

shears; but he despised me, too, and departed for the South that night.

The two lampooned citizens came with threats of libel, and went away

incensed at my insignificance. The country editor pranced in with a war-

whoop next day, suffering for blood to drink; but he ended by forgiving

me cordially and inviting me down to the drug store to wash away all

animosity in a friendly bumper of “Fahnestock’s Vermifuge.” It was his

little joke. My uncle was very angry when he got back–unreasonably so,

I thought, considering what an impetus I had given the paper, and

considering also that gratitude for his preservation ought to have been

uppermost in his mind, inasmuch as by his delay he had so wonderfully

escaped dissection, tomahawking, libel, and getting his head shot off.

But he softened when he looked at the accounts and saw that I had

actually booked the unparalleled number of thirty-three new subscribers,

and had the vegetables to show for it, cordwood, cabbage, beans, and

unsalable turnips enough to run the family for two dears!

HOW THE AUTHOR WAS SOLD IN NEWARK –[Written about 1869.]

It is seldom pleasant to tell on oneself, but some times it is a sort of

relief to a man to make a confession. I wish to unburden my mind now,

and yet I almost believe that I am moved to do it more because I long to

bring censure upon another man than because I desire to pour balm upon my

wounded heart. (I don’t know what balm is, but I believe it is the

correct expression to use in this connection–never having seen any

balm.) You may remember that I lectured in Newark lately for the young

gentlemen of the —– Society? I did at any rate. During the afternoon

of that day I was talking with one of the young gentlemen just referred

to, and he said he had an uncle who, from some cause or other, seemed to

have grown permanently bereft of all emotion. And with tears in his

eyes, this young man said, “Oh, if I could only see him laugh once more!

Oh, if I could only see him weep!” I was touched. I could never

withstand distress.

I said: “Bring him to my lecture. I’ll start him for you.”

“Oh, if you could but do it! If you could but do it, all our family

would bless you for evermore–for he is so very dear to us. Oh, my

benefactor, can you make him laugh? can you bring soothing tears to those

parched orbs?”

I was profoundly moved. I said: “My son, bring the old party round.

I have got some jokes in that lecture that will make him laugh if there

is any laugh in him; and if they miss fire, I have got some others that

will make him cry or kill him, one or the other.” Then the young man

blessed me, and wept on my neck, and went after his uncle. He placed him

in full view, in the second row of benches, that night, and I began on

him. I tried him with mild jokes, then with severe ones; I dosed him

with bad jokes and riddled him with good ones; I fired old stale jokes

into him, and peppered him fore and aft with red-hot new ones; I warmed

up to my work, and assaulted him on the right and left, in front and

behind; I fumed and sweated and charged and ranted till I was hoarse and

sick and frantic and furious; but I never moved him once–I never started

a smile or a tear! Never a ghost of a smile, and never a suspicion of

moisture! I was astounded. I closed the lecture at last with one

despairing shriek–with one wild burst of humor, and hurled a joke of

supernatural atrocity full at him!

Then I sat down bewildered and exhausted.

The president of the society came up and bathed my head with cold water,

and said: “What made you carry on so toward the last?”

I said: “I was trying to make that confounded old fool laugh, in the

second row.”

And he said: “Well, you were wasting your time, because he is deaf and

dumb, and as blind as a badger!”

Now, was that any way for that old man’s nephew to impose on a stranger

and orphan like me? I ask you as a man and brother, if that was any way

for him to do?

THE OFFICE BORE –[Written about 1869]

He arrives just as regularly as the clock strikes nine in the morning.

And so he even beats the editor sometimes, and the porter must leave his

work and climb two or three pairs of stairs to unlock the “Sanctum” door

and let him in. He lights one of the office pipes–not reflecting,

perhaps, that the editor may be one of those “stuck-up” people who would

as soon have a stranger defile his tooth-brush as his pipe-stem. Then he

begins to loll–for a person who can consent to loaf his useless life

away in ignominious indolence has not the energy to sit up straight.

He stretches full length on the sofa awhile; then draws up to half

length; then gets into a chair, hangs his head back and his arms abroad,

and stretches his legs till the rims of his boot-heels rest upon the

floor; by and by sits up and leans forward, with one leg or both over the

arm of the chair. But it is still observable that with all his changes

of position, he never assumes the upright or a fraudful affectation of

dignity. From time to time he yawns, and stretches, and scratches

himself with a tranquil, mangy enjoyment, and now and then he grunts a

kind of stuffy, overfed grunt, which is full of animal contentment. At

rare and long intervals, however, he sighs a sigh that is the eloquent

expression of a secret confession, to wit “I am useless and a nuisance,

a cumberer of the earth.” The bore and his comrades–for there are

usually from two to four on hand, day and night–mix into the

conversation when men come in to see the editors for a moment on

business; they hold noisy talks among themselves about politics in

particular, and all other subjects in general–even warming up, after a

fashion, sometimes, and seeming to take almost a real interest in what

they are discussing. They ruthlessly call an editor from his work with

such a remark as: “Did you see this, Smith, in the Gazette?” and proceed

to read the paragraph while the sufferer reins in his impatient pen and

listens; they often loll and sprawl round the office hour after hour,

swapping anecdotes and relating personal experiences to each other–

hairbreadth escapes, social encounters with distinguished men, election

reminiscences, sketches of odd characters, etc. And through all those

hours they never seem to comprehend that they are robbing the editors of

their time, and the public of journalistic excellence in next day’s

paper. At other times they drowse, or dreamily pore over exchanges, or

droop limp and pensive over the chair-arms for an hour. Even this solemn

silence is small respite to the editor, for the next uncomfortable thing

to having people look over his shoulders, perhaps, is to have them sit by

in silence and listen to the scratching of his pen. If a body desires to

talk private business with one of the editors, he must call him outside,

for no hint milder than blasting-powder or nitroglycerin would be likely

to move the bores out of listening-distance. To have to sit and endure

the presence of a bore day after day; to feel your cheerful spirits begin

to sink as his footstep sounds on the stair, and utterly vanish away as

his tiresome form enters the door; to suffer through his anecdotes and

die slowly to his reminiscences; to feel always the fetters of his

clogging presence; to long hopelessly for one single day’s privacy; to

note with a shudder, by and by, that to contemplate his funeral in fancy

has ceased to soothe, to imagine him undergoing in strict and fearful

detail the tortures of the ancient Inquisition has lost its power to

satisfy the heart, and that even to wish him millions and millions and

millions of miles in Tophet is able to bring only a fitful gleam of joy;

to have to endure all this, day after day, and week after week, and month

after month, is an affliction that transcends any other that men suffer.

Physical pain is pastime to it, and hanging a pleasure excursion.


“The church was densely crowded that lovely summer Sabbath,” said the

Sunday-school superintendent, “and all, as their eyes rested upon the

small coffin, seemed impressed by the poor black boy’s fate. Above the

stillness the pastor’s voice rose, and chained the interest of every ear

as he told, with many an envied compliment, how that the brave, noble,

daring little Johnny Greer, when he saw the drowned body sweeping down

toward the deep part of the river whence the agonized parents never could

have recovered it in this world, gallantly sprang into the stream, and,

at the risk of his life, towed the corpse to shore, and held it fast till

help came and secured it. Johnny Greer was sitting just in front of me.

A ragged street-boy, with eager eye, turned upon him instantly, and said

in a hoarse whisper

“‘No; but did you, though?’


“‘Towed the carkiss ashore and saved it yo’self?’


“‘Cracky! What did they give you?’


“‘W-h-a-t [with intense disgust]! D’you know what I’d ‘a’ done? I’d ‘a’

anchored him out in the stream, and said, Five dollars, gents, or you

carn’t have yo’ nigger.'”


In as few words as possible I wish to lay before the nation what’s here,

howsoever small, I have had in this matter–this matter which has so

exercised the public mind, engendered so much ill-feeling, and so filled

the newspapers of both continents with distorted statements and

extravagant comments.

The origin of this distressful thing was this–and I assert here that

every fact in the following resume can be amply proved by the official

records of the General Government.

John Wilson Mackenzie, of Rotterdam, Chemung County, New Jersey,

deceased, contracted with the General Government, on or about the 10th

day of October, 1861, to furnish to General Sherman the sum total of

thirty barrels of beef.

Very well.

He started after Sherman with the beef, but when he got to Washington

Sherman had gone to Manassas; so he took the beef and followed him there,

but arrived too late; he followed him to Nashville, and from Nashville to

Chattanooga, and from Chattanooga to Atlanta–but he never could overtake

him. At Atlanta he took a fresh start and followed him clear through his

march to the sea. He arrived too late again by a few days; but hearing

that Sherman was going out in the Quaker City excursion to the Holy Land,

he took shipping for Beirut, calculating to head off the other vessel.

When he arrived in Jerusalem with his beef, he learned that Sherman had

not sailed in the Quaker City, but had gone to the Plains to fight the

Indians. He returned to America and started for the Rocky Mountains.

After sixty-eight days of arduous travel on the Plains, and when he had

got within four miles of Sherman’s headquarters, he was tomahawked and

scalped, and the Indians got the beef. They got all of it but one

barrel. Sherman’s army captured that, and so, even in death, the bold

navigator partly fulfilled his contract. In his will, which he had kept

like a journal, he bequeathed the contract to his son Bartholomew W.

Bartholomew W. made out the following bill, and then died:


In account with JOHN WILSON MACKENZIE, of New Jersey,

deceased, . . . . . . . . . . Dr.

To thirty barrels of beef for General Sherman, at $100, $3,000

To traveling expenses and transportation . . . . . 14,000

Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $17,000

Rec’d Pay’t.

He died then; but he left the contract to Wm. J. Martin, who tried to

collect it, but died before he got through. He left it to Barker J.

Allen, and he tried to collect it also. He did not survive. Barker J.

Allen left it to Anson G. Rogers, who attempted to collect it, and got

along as far as the Ninth Auditor’s Office, when Death, the great

Leveler, came all unsummoned, and foreclosed on him also. He left the

bill to a relative of his in Connecticut, Vengeance Hopkins by name, who

lasted four weeks and two days, and made the best time on record, coming

within one of reaching the Twelfth Auditor. In his will he gave the

contract bill to his uncle, by the name of O-be-joyful Johnson. It was

too undermining for joyful. His last words were: “Weep not for me–I am

willing to go.” And so he was, poor soul. Seven people inherited the

contract after that; but they all died. So it came into my hands at

last. It fell to me through a relative by the name of, Hubbard–

Bethlehem Hubbard, of Indiana. He had had a grudge against me for a long

time; but in his last moments he sent for me, and forgave me everything,

and, weeping, gave me the beef contract.

This ends the history of it up to the time that I succeeded to the

property. I will now endeavor to set myself straight before the nation

in everything that concerns my share in the matter. I took this beef

contract, and the bill for mileage and transportation, to the President

of the United States.

He said, “Well, sir, what can I do for you?”

I said, “Sire, on or about the l0th day of October, 1861, John Wilson

Mackenzie, of Rotterdam, Chemung County, New Jersey, deceased, contracted

with the General Government to furnish to General Sherman the sum total

of thirty barrels of beef–”

He stopped me there, and dismissed me from hi presence–kindly, but

firmly. The next day called on the Secretary of State.

He said, “Well, sir?”

I said, “Your Royal Highness: on or about the 10th day of October, 1861,

John Wilson Mackenzie of Rotterdam, Chemung County, New Jersey, deceased,

contracted with the General Government to furnish to General Sherman the

sum total of thirty barrels of beef–”

“That will do, sir–that will do; this office has nothing to do with

contracts for beef.”

I was bowed out. I thought the matter all over and finally, the

following day, I visited the Secretary of the Navy, who said, “Speak

quickly, sir; do not keep me waiting.”

I said, “Your Royal Highness, on or about the 10th day of October, 1861,

John Wilson Mackenzie of Rotterdam, Chemung County, New Jersey, deceased,

contracted with the General Government to General Sherman the sum total

of thirty barrels of beef–”

Well, it was as far as I could get. He had nothing to do with beef

contracts for General Sherman either. I began to think it was a curious

kind of government. It looked somewhat as if they wanted to get out of

paying for that beef. The following day I went to the Secretary of the


I said, “Your Imperial Highness, on or about the 10th day of October–”

“That is sufficient, sir. I have heard of you before. Go, take your

infamous beef contract out of this establishment. The Interior

Department has nothing whatever to do with subsistence for the army.”

I went away. But I was exasperated now. I said I would haunt them;

I would infest every department of this iniquitous government till that

contract business was settled. I would collect that bill, or fall, as

fell my predecessors, trying. I assailed the Postmaster-General;

I besieged the Agricultural Department; I waylaid the Speaker of the

House of Representatives. They had nothing to do with army contracts for

beef. I moved upon the Commissioner of the Patent Office.

I said, “Your August Excellency, on or about–”

“Perdition! have you got here with your incendiary beef contract, at

last? We have nothing to do with beef contracts for the army, my dear


“Oh, that is all very well–but somebody has got to pay for that beef.

It has got to be paid now, too, or I’ll confiscate this old Patent Office

and everything in it.”

“But, my dear sir–”

“It don’t make any difference, sir. The Patent Office is liable for that

beef, I reckon; and, liable or not liable, the Patent Office has got to

pay for it.”

Never mind the details. It ended in a fight. The Patent Office won.

But I found out something to my advantage. I was told that the Treasury

Department was the proper place for me to go to. I went there. I waited

two hours and a half, and then I was admitted to the First Lord of the


I said, “Most noble, grave, and reverend Signor, on or about the 10th day

of October, 1861, John Wilson Macken–”

“That is sufficient, sir. I have heard of you. Go to the First Auditor

of the Treasury.”

I did so. He sent me to the Second Auditor. The Second Auditor sent me

to the Third, and the Third sent me to the First Comptroller of the Corn-

Beef Division. This began to look like business. He examined his books

and all his loose papers, but found no minute of the beef contract. I

went to the Second Comptroller of the Corn-Beef Division. He examined

his books and his loose papers, but with no success. I was encouraged.

During that week I got as far as the Sixth Comptroller in that division;

the next week I got through the Claims Department; the third week I began

and completed the Mislaid Contracts Department, and got a foothold in the

Dead Reckoning Department. I finished that in three days. There was

only one place left for it now. I laid siege to the Commissioner of Odds

and Ends. To his clerk, rather–he was not there himself. There were

sixteen beautiful young ladies in the room, writing in books, and there

were seven well-favored young clerks showing them how. The young women

smiled up over their shoulders, and the clerks smiled back at them, and

all went merry as a marriage bell. Two or three clerks that were reading

the newspapers looked at me rather hard, but went on reading, and nobody

said anything. However, I had been used to this kind of alacrity from

Fourth Assistant Junior Clerks all through my eventful career, from the

very day I entered the first office of the Corn-Beef Bureau clear till I

passed out of the last one in the Dead Reckoning Division. I had got so

accomplished by this time that I could stand on one foot from the moment

I entered an office till a clerk spoke to me, without changing more than

two, or maybe three, times.

So I stood there till I had changed four different times. Then I said to

one of the clerks who was reading:

“Illustrious Vagrant, where is the Grand Turk?”

“What do you mean, sir? whom do you mean? If you mean the Chief of the

Bureau, he is out.”

“Will he visit the harem to-day?”

The young man glared upon me awhile, and then went on reading his paper.

But I knew the ways of those clerks. I knew I was safe if he got through

before another New York mail arrived. He only had two more papers left.

After a while he finished them, and then he yawned and asked me what I


“Renowned and honored Imbecile: on or about–”

“You are the beef-contract man. Give me your papers.”

He took them, and for a long time he ransacked his odds and ends.

Finally he found the Northwest Passage, as I regarded it–he found the

long lost record of that beef contract–he found the rock upon which so

many of my ancestors had split before they ever got to it. I was deeply

moved. And yet I rejoiced–for I had survived. I said with emotion,

“Give it me. The government will settle now.” He waved me back, and

said there was something yet to be done first.

“Where is this John Wilson Mackenzie?” said he.


“When did he die?”

“He didn’t die at all–he was killed.”



“Who tomahawked him?”

“Why, an Indian, of course. You didn’t suppose it was the superintendent

of a Sunday-school, did you?”

“No. An Indian, was it?”

“The same.”

“Name of the Indian?”

“His name? I don’t know his name.”

“Must have his name. Who saw the tomahawking done?”

“I don’t know.”

“You were not present yourself, then?”

“Which you can see by my hair. I was absent.

“Then how do you know that Mackenzie is dead?”

“Because he certainly died at that time, and have every reason to believe

that he has been dead ever since. I know he has, in fact.”

“We must have proofs. Have you got this Indian?”

“Of course not.”

“Well, you must get him. Have you got the tomahawk?”

“I never thought of such a thing.”

“You must get the tomahawk. You must produce the Indian and the

tomahawk. If Mackenzie’s death can be proven by these, you can then go

before the commission appointed to audit claims with some show of getting

your bill under such headway that your children may possibly live to

receive the money and enjoy it. But that man’s death must be proven.

However, I may as well tell you that the government will never pay that

transportation and those traveling expenses of the lamented Mackenzie.

It may possibly pay for the barrel of beef that Sherman’s soldiers

captured, if you can get a relief bill through Congress making an

appropriation for that purpose; but it will not pay for the twenty-nine

barrels the Indians ate.”

“Then there is only a hundred dollars due me, and that isn’t certain!

After all Mackenzie’s travels in Europe, Asia, and America with that

beef; after all his trials and tribulations and transportation; after the

slaughter of all those innocents that tried to collect that bill! Young

man, why didn’t the First Comptroller of the Corn-Beef Division tell me


“He didn’t know anything about the genuineness of your claim.”

“Why didn’t the Second tell me? why didn’t the, Third? why didn’t all

those divisions and departments tell me?”

“None of them knew. We do things by routine here. You have followed the

routine and found out what you wanted to know. It is the best way.

It is the only way. It is very regular, and very slow, but it is very


“Yes, certain death. It has been, to the most of our tribe. I begin to

feel that I, too, am called.

Young man, you love the bright creature yonder with the gentle blue eyes

and the steel pens behind her ears–I see it in your soft glances; you

wish to marry her–but you are poor. Here, hold out your hand–here is

the beef contract; go, take her and be happy Heaven bless you, my


This is all I know about the great beef contract that has created so much

talk in the community. The clerk to whom I bequeathed it died. I know

nothing further about the contract, or any one connected with it. I only

know that if a man lives long enough he can trace a thing through the

Circumlocution Office of Washington and find out, after much labor and

trouble and delay, that which he could have found out on the first day if

the business of the Circumlocution Office were as ingeniously

systematized as it would be if it were a great private mercantile



–[Some years ago, about 1867, when this was first published, few people

believed it, but considered it a mere extravaganza. In these latter days

it seems hard to realize that there was ever a time when the robbing of

our government was a novelty. The very man who showed me where to find

the documents for this case was at that very time spending hundreds of

thousands of dollars in Washington for a mail steamship concern, in the

effort to procure a subsidy for the company-a fact which was a long time

in coming to the surface, but leaked out at last and underwent

Congressional investigation.]

This is history. It is not a wild extravaganza, like “John Wilson

Mackenzie’s Great Beef Contract,” but is a plain statement of facts and

circumstances with which the Congress of the United States has interested

itself from time to time during the long period of half a century.

I will not call this matter of George Fisher’s a great deathless and

unrelenting swindle upon the government and people of the United States-

for it has never been so decided, and I hold that it is a grave and

solemn wrong for a writer to cast slurs or call names when such is the

case–but will simply present the evidence and let the reader deduce his

own verdict. Then we shall do nobody injustice, and our consciences

shall be clear.

On or about the 1st day of September, 1813, the Creek war being then in

progress in Florida, the crops, herds, and houses of Mr. George Fisher,

a citizen, were destroyed, either by the Indians or by the United States

troops in pursuit of them. By the terms of the law, if the Indians

destroyed the property, there was no relief for Fisher; but if the troops

destroyed it, the Government of the United States was debtor to Fisher

for the amount involved.

George Fisher must have considered that the Indians destroyed the

property, because, although he lived several years afterward, he does not

appear to have ever made any claim upon the government.

In the course of time Fisher died, and his widow married again.

And by and by, nearly twenty years after that dimly remembered raid upon

Fisher’s corn-fields, the widow Fisher’s new husband petitioned Congress

for pay for the property, and backed up the petition with many

depositions and affidavits which purported to prove that the troops,

and not the Indians, destroyed the property; that the troops, for some

inscrutable reason, deliberately burned down “houses” (or cabins) valued

at $600, the same belonging to a peaceable private citizen, and also

destroyed various other property belonging to the same citizen. But

Congress declined to believe that the troops were such idiots (after

overtaking and scattering a band of Indians proved to have been found

destroying Fisher’s property) as to calmly continue the work of

destruction themselves; and make a complete job of what the Indians had

only commenced. So Congress denied the petition of the heirs of George

Fisher in 1832, and did not pay them a cent.

We hear no more from them officially until 1848, sixteen years after

their first attempt on the Treasury, and a full generation after the

death of the man whose fields were destroyed. The new generation of

Fisher heirs then came forward and put in a bill for damages. The Second

Auditor awarded them $8,873, being half the damage sustained by Fisher.

The Auditor said the testimony showed that at least half the destruction

was done by the Indians “before the troops started in pursuit,” and of

course the government was not responsible for that half.

2. That was in April, 1848. In December, 1848, the heirs of George

Fisher, deceased, came forward and pleaded for a “revision” of their bill

of damages. The revision was made, but nothing new could be found in

their favor except an error of $100 in the former calculation. However,

in order to keep up the spirits of the Fisher family, the Auditor

concluded to go back and allow interest from the date of the first

petition (1832) to the date when the bill of damages was awarded. This

sent the Fishers home happy with sixteen years’ interest on $8,873–the

same amounting to $8,997.94. Total, $17,870.94.

3 . For an entire year the suffering Fisher family remained quiet–even

satisfied, after a fashion. Then they swooped down upon the government

with their wrongs once more. That old patriot, Attorney-General Toucey,

burrowed through the musty papers of the Fishers and discovered one more

chance for the desolate orphans–interest on that original award of

$8,873 from date of destruction of the property (1813) up to 1832!

Result, $110,004.89 for the indigent Fishers. So now we have: First,

$8,873 damages; second, interest on it from 1832 to 1848, $8997.94;

third, interest on it dated back to 1813, $10,004.89. Total, $27,875.83!

What better investment for a great-grandchild than to get the Indians to

burn a corn-field for him sixty or seventy years before his birth, and

plausibly lay it on lunatic United States troops?

4. Strange as it may seem, the Fishers let Congress alone for five

years–or, what is perhaps more likely, failed to make themselves heard

by Congress for that length of time. But at last, in 1854, they got a

hearing. They persuaded Congress to pass an act requiring the Auditor to

re-examine their case. But this time they stumbled upon the misfortune

of an honest Secretary of the Treasury (Mr. James Guthrie), and he

spoiled everything. He said in very plain language that the Fishers were

not only not entitled to another cent, but that those children of many

sorrows and acquainted with grief had been paid too much already.

5. Therefore another interval of rest and silent ensued-an interval

which lasted four years–viz till 1858. The “right man in the right

place” was then Secretary of War–John B. Floyd, of peculiar renown!

Here was a master intellect; here was the very man to succor the

suffering heirs of dead and forgotten Fisher. They came up from Florida

with a rush–a great tidal wave of Fishers freighted with the same old

musty documents about the same in immortal corn-fields of their ancestor.

They straight-way got an act passed transferring the Fisher matter from

the dull Auditor to the ingenious Floyd. What did Floyd do? He said,

“IT WAS PROVED that the Indians destroyed everything they could before

the troops entered in pursuit.” He considered, therefore, that what they

destroyed must have consisted of “the houses with all their contents, and

the liquor” (the most trifling part of the destruction, and set down at

only $3,200 all told), and that the government troops then drove them off

and calmly proceeded to destroy–

Two hundred and twenty acres of corn in the field, thirty-five acres of

wheat, and nine hundred and eighty-six head of live stock! [What a

singularly intelligent army we had in those days, according to Mr. Floyd

–though not according to the Congress of 1832.]

So Mr. Floyd decided that the Government was not responsible for that

$3,200 worth of rubbish which the Indians destroyed, but was responsible

for the property destroyed by the troops–which property consisted of (I

quote from the printed United States Senate document):


Corn at Bassett’s Creek, …………… 3,000

Cattle, ………………………….. 5,000

Stock hogs, ………………………. 1,050

Drove hogs, ………………………. 1,204

Wheat, …………………………… 350

Hides, …………………………… 4,000

Corn on the Alabama River, …………. 3,500

Total, ………….18,104

That sum, in his report, Mr. Floyd calls the “full value of the property

destroyed by the troops.”

He allows that sum to the starving Fishers, TOGETHER WITH INTEREST FROM

1813. From this new sum total the amounts already paid to the Fishers

were deducted, and then the cheerful remainder (a fraction under forty

thousand dollars) was handed to then and again they retired to Florida in

a condition of temporary tranquillity. Their ancestor’s farm had now

yielded them altogether nearly sixty-seven thousand dollars in cash.

6. Does the reader suppose that that was the end of it? Does he suppose

those diffident Fishers we: satisfied? Let the evidence show. The

Fishers were quiet just two years. Then they came swarming up out of the

fertile swamps of Florida with their same old documents, and besieged

Congress once more. Congress capitulated on the 1st of June, 1860, and

instructed Mr. Floyd to overhaul those papers again, and pay that bill.

A Treasury clerk was ordered to go through those papers and report to Mr.

Floyd what amount was still due th emaciated Fishers. This clerk (I can

produce him whenever he is wanted) discovered what was apparently a

glaring and recent forgery in the paper; whereby a witness’s testimony as

to the price of corn in Florida in 1813 was made to name double the

amount which that witness had originally specified as the price! The

clerk not only called his superior’s attention to this thing, but in

making up his brief of the case called particular attention to it in

writing. That part of the brief never got before Congress, nor has

Congress ever yet had a hint of forgery existing among the Fisher papers.

Nevertheless, on the basis of the double prices (and totally ignoring the

clerk’s assertion that the figures were manifestly and unquestionably a

recent forgery), Mr. Floyd remarks in his new report that “the testimony,

particularly in regard to the corn crops, DEMANDS A MUCH HIGHER ALLOWANCE

than any heretofore made by the Auditor or myself.” So he estimates the

crop at sixty bushels to the acre (double what Florida acres produce),

and then virtuously allows pay for only half the crop, but allows two

dollars and a half a bushel for that half, when there are rusty old books

and documents in the Congressional library to show just what the Fisher

testimony showed before the forgery–viz., that in the fall of 1813 corn

was only worth from $1.25 to $1.50 a bushel. Having accomplished this,

what does Mr. Floyd do next? Mr. Floyd (“with an earnest desire to

execute truly the legislative will,” as he piously remarks) goes to work

and makes out an entirely new bill of Fisher damages, and in this new

bill he placidly ignores the Indians altogether puts no particle of the

destruction of the Fisher property upon them, but, even repenting him of

charging them with burning the cabins and drinking the whisky and

breaking the crockery, lays the entire damage at the door of the imbecile

United States troops down to the very last item! And not only that, but

uses the forgery to double the loss of corn at “Bassett’s Creek,” and

uses it again to absolutely treble the loss of corn on the “Alabama

River.” This new and ably conceived and executed bill of Mr. Floyd’s

figures up as follows (I copy again from the printed United States Senate


The United States in account with the legal representatives

of George Fisher, deceased.


1813.–To 550 head of cattle, at 10 dollars, …………. 5,500.00

To 86 head of drove hogs, ……………………. 1,204.00

To 350 head of stock hogs, …………………… 1,750.00

To 100 ACRES OF CORN ON BASSETT’S CREEK, ………. 6,000.00

To 8 barrels of whisky, ……………………… 350.00

To 2 barrels of brandy, ……………………… 280.00

To 1 barrel of rum, …………………………. 70.00

To dry-goods and merchandise in store, ………… 1,100.00

To 35 acres of wheat, ……………………….. 350.00

To 2,000 hides, …………………………….. 4,000.00

To furs and hats in store, …………………… 600.00

To crockery ware in store, …………………… 100.00

To smith’s and carpenter’s tools, …………….. 250.00

To houses burned and destroyed, ………………. 600.00

To 4 dozen bottles of wine, ………………….. 48.00

1814.–To 120 acres of corn on Alabama River, ………… 9,500.00

To crops of peas, fodder, etc. ……………….. 3,250.00

Total, ……………………..34,952.00

To interest on $22,202, from July 1813

to November 1860, 47 years and 4 months, …….63,053.68

To interest on $12,750, from September

1814 to November I86o, 46 years and 2 months, ..35,317.50

Total, …………………… 133,323.18

He puts everything in this time. He does not even allow that the Indians

destroyed the crockery or drank the four dozen bottles of (currant) wine.

When it came to supernatural comprehensiveness in “gobbling,” John B.

Floyd was without his equal, in his own or any other generation.

Subtracting from the above total the $67,000 already paid to

George Fisher’s implacable heirs, Mr. Floyd announced that the government

was still indebted to them in the sum of sixty-six thousand five hundred

and nineteen dollars and eighty-five cents, “which,” Mr. Floyd

complacently remarks, “will be paid, accordingly, to the administrator of

the estate of George Fisher, deceased, or to his attorney in fact.”

But, sadly enough for the destitute orphans, a new President came in just

at this time, Buchanan and Floyd went out, and they never got their

money. The first thing Congress did in 1861 was to rescind the

resolution of June 1, 1860, under which Mr. Floyd had been ciphering.

Then Floyd (and doubtless the heirs of George Fisher likewise) had to

give up financial business for a while, and go into the Confederate army

and serve their country.

Were the heirs of George Fisher killed? No. They are back now at this

very time (July, 1870), beseeching Congress through that blushing and

diffident creature, Garrett Davis, to commence making payments again on

their interminable and insatiable bill of damages for corn and whisky

destroyed by a gang of irresponsible Indians, so long ago that even

government red-tape has failed to keep consistent and intelligent track

of it.

Now the above are facts. They are history. Any one who doubts it can

send to the Senate Document Department of the Capitol for H. R. Ex. Doc.

No. 21, 36th Congress, 2d Session; and for S. Ex. Doc. No. 106, 41st

Congress, 2d Session, and satisfy himself. The whole case is set forth

in the first volume of the Court of Claims Reports.

It is my belief that as long as the continent of America holds together,

the heirs of George Fisher, deceased, will still make pilgrimages to

Washington from the swamps of Florida, to plead for just a little more

cash on their bill of damages (even when they received the last of that

sixty-seven thousand dollars, they said it was only one fourth what the

government owed them on that fruitful corn-field), and as long as they

choose to come they will find Garrett Davises to drag their vampire

schemes before Congress. This is not the only hereditary fraud (if fraud

it is–which I have before repeatedly remarked is not proven) that is

being quietly handed down from generation to generation of fathers and

sons, through the persecuted Treasury of the United States.


In San Francisco, the other day, “A well-dressed boy, on his way to

Sunday-school, was arrested and thrown into the city prison for stoning


What a commentary is this upon human justice! What sad prominence it

gives to our human disposition to tyrannize over the weak! San Francisco

has little right to take credit to herself for her treatment of this poor

boy. What had the child’s education been? How should he suppose it was

wrong to stone a Chinaman? Before we side against him, along with

outraged San Francisco, let us give him a chance–let us hear the

testimony for the defense.

He was a “well-dressed” boy, and a Sunday-school scholar, and therefore

the chances are that his parents were intelligent, well-to-do people,

with just enough natural villainy in their composition to make them yearn

after the daily papers, and enjoy them; and so this boy had opportunities

to learn all through the week how to do right, as well as on Sunday.

It was in this way that he found out that the great commonwealth of

California imposes an unlawful mining-tax upon John the foreigner, and

allows Patrick the foreigner to dig gold for nothing–probably because

the degraded Mongol is at no expense for whisky, and the refined Celt

cannot exist without it.

It was in this way that he found out that a respectable number of the

tax-gatherers–it would be unkind to say all of them–collect the tax

twice, instead of once; and that, inasmuch as they do it solely to

discourage Chinese immigration into the mines, it is a thing that is much

applauded, and likewise regarded as being singularly facetious.

It was in this way that he found out that when a white man robs a sluice-

box (by the term white man is meant Spaniards, Mexicans, Portuguese,

Irish, Hondurans, Peruvians, Chileans, etc., etc.), they make him leave

the camp; and when a Chinaman does that thing, they hang him.

It was in this way that he found out that in many districts of the vast

Pacific coast, so strong is the wild, free love of justice in the hearts

of the people, that whenever any secret and mysterious crime is

committed, they say, “Let justice be done, though the heavens fall,” and

go straightway and swing a Chinaman.

It was in this way that he found out that by studying one half of each

day’s “local items,” it would appear that the police of San Francisco

were either asleep or dead, and by studying the other half it would seem

that the reporters were gone mad with admiration of the energy, the

virtue, the high effectiveness, and the dare-devil intrepidity of that

very police-making exultant mention of how “the Argus-eyed officer So-

and-so” captured a wretched knave of a Chinaman who was stealing

chickens, and brought him gloriously to the city prison; and how “the

gallant officer Such-and-such-a-one” quietly kept an eye on the movements

of an “unsuspecting, almond-eyed son of Confucius” (your reporter is

nothing if not facetious), following him around with that far-off look.

of vacancy and unconsciousness always so finely affected by that

inscrutable being, the forty-dollar policeman, during a waking interval,

and captured him at last in the very act of placing his hands in a

suspicious manner upon a paper of tacks, left by the owner in an exposed

situation; and how one officer performed this prodigious thing, and

another officer that, and another the other–and pretty much every one of

these performances having for a dazzling central incident a Chinaman

guilty of a shilling’s worth of crime, an unfortunate, whose misdemeanor

must be hurrahed into something enormous in order to keep the public from

noticing how many really important rascals went uncaptured in the mean

time, and how overrated those glorified policemen actually are.

It was in this way that the boy found out that the legislature, being

aware that the Constitution has made America, an asylum for the poor and

the oppressed of all nations, and that, therefore, the poor and oppressed

who fly to our shelter must not be charged a disabling admission fee,

made a law that every Chinaman, upon landing, must be vaccinated upon the

wharf, and pay to the state’s appointed officer ten dollars for the

service, when there are plenty of doctors in San Francisco who would be

glad enough to do it for him for fifty cents.

It was in this way that the boy found out that a Chinaman had no rights

that any man was bound to respect; that he had no sorrows that any man

was bound to pity; that neither his life nor his liberty was worth the

purchase of a penny when a white man needed a scapegoat; that nobody

loved Chinamen, nobody befriended them, nobody spared them suffering when

it was convenient to inflict it; everybody, individuals, communities, the

majesty of the state itself, joined in hating, abusing, and persecuting

these humble strangers.

And, therefore, what could have been more natural than for this sunny-

hearted-boy, tripping along to Sunday-school, with his mind teeming with

freshly learned incentives to high and virtuous action, to say

to himself:

“Ah, there goes a Chinaman! God will not love me if I do not stone him.”

And for this he was arrested and put in the city jail.

Everything conspired to teach him that it was a high and holy thing to

stone a Chinaman, and yet he no sooner attempts to do his duty than he is

punished for it–he, poor chap, who has been aware all his life that one

of the principal recreations of the police, out toward the Gold Refinery,

is to look on with tranquil enjoyment while the butchers of Brannan

Street set their dogs on unoffending Chinamen, and make them flee for

their lives.

–[I have many such memories in my mind, but am thinking just at present

of one particular one, where the Brannan Street butchers set their dogs

on a Chinaman who was quietly passing with a basket of clothes on his

head; and while the dogs mutilated his flesh, a butcher increased the

hilarity of the occasion by knocking some of the Chinaman’s teeth down

his throat with half a brick. This incident sticks in my memory with a

more malevolent tenacity, perhaps, on account of the fact that I was in

the employ of a San Francisco journal at the time, and was not allowed to

publish it because it might offend some of the peculiar element that

subscribed for the paper.]

Keeping in mind the tuition in the humanities which the entire “Pacific

coast” gives its youth, there is a very sublimity of incongruity in the

virtuous flourish with which the good city fathers of San Francisco

proclaim (as they have lately done) that “The police are positively

ordered to arrest all boys, of every description and wherever found, who

engage in assaulting Chinamen.”

Still, let us be truly glad they have made the order, notwithstanding its

inconsistency; and let us rest perfectly confident the police are glad,

too. Because there is no personal peril in arresting boys, provided they

be of the small kind, and the reporters will have to laud their

performances just as loyally as ever, or go without items.

The new form for local items in San Francisco will now be: “The ever-

vigilant and efficient officer So-and-so succeeded, yesterday afternoon,

in arresting Master Tommy Jones, after a determined resistance,” etc.,

etc., followed by the customary statistics and final hurrah, with its

unconscious sarcasm: “We are happy in being able to state that this is

the forty-seventh boy arrested by this gallant officer since the new

ordinance went into effect. The most extraordinary activity prevails in

the police department. Nothing like it has been seen since we can



“I was sitting here,” said the judge, “in this old pulpit, holding court,

and we were trying a big, wicked-looking Spanish desperado for killing

the husband of a bright, pretty Mexican woman. It was a lazy summer day,

and an awfully long one, and the witnesses were tedious. None of us took

any interest in the trial except that nervous, uneasy devil of a Mexican

woman because you know how they love and how they hate, and this one had

loved her husband with all her might, and now she had boiled it all down

into hate, and stood here spitting it at that Spaniard with her eyes;

and I tell you she would stir me up, too, with a little of her summer

lightning, occasionally. Well, I had my coat off and my heels up,

lolling and sweating, and smoking one of those cabbage cigars the San

Francisco people used to think were good enough for us in those times;

and the lawyers they all had their coats off, and were smoking and

whittling, and the witnesses the same, and so was the prisoner. Well,

the fact is, there warn’t any interest in a murder trial then, because

the fellow was always brought in ‘not guilty,’ the jury expecting him to

do as much for them some time; and, although the evidence was straight

and square against this Spaniard, we knew we could not convict him

without seeming to be rather high-handed and sort of reflecting on every

gentleman in the community; for there warn’t any carriages and liveries

then, and so the only ‘style’ there was, was to keep your private

graveyard. But that woman seemed to have her heart set on hanging that

Spaniard; and you’d ought to have seen how she would glare on him a

minute, and then look up at me in her pleading way, and then turn and for

the next five minutes search the jury’s faces, and by and by drop her

face in her hands for just a little while as if she was most ready to

give up; but out she’d come again directly, and be as live and anxious as

ever. But when the jury announced the verdict–Not Guilty–and I told

the prisoner he was acquitted and free to go, that woman rose up till she

appeared to be as tall and grand as a seventy-four-gun ship, and says


“‘Judge, do I understand you to say that this man is not guilty that

murdered my husband without any cause before my own eyes and my little

children’s, and that all has been done to him that ever justice and the

law can do?’

“‘The same,’ says I.

“And then what do you reckon she did? Why, she turned on that smirking

Spanish fool like a wildcat, and out with a ‘navy’ and shot him dead in

open court!”

“That was spirited, I am willing to admit.”

“Wasn’t it, though?” said the judge admiringly.

“I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. I adjourned court right on the

spot, and we put on our coats and went out and took up a collection for

her and her cubs, and sent them over the mountains to their friends.

Ah, she was a spirited wench!”


“WASHINGTON, December 10, 1867.

“Could you give me any information respecting such islands, if any, as

the government is going to purchase?”

It is an uncle of mine that wants to know. He is an industrious man and

well disposed, and wants to make a living in an honest, humble way, but

more especially he wants to be quiet. He wishes to settle down, and be

quiet and unostentatious. He has been to the new island St. Thomas, but

he says he thinks things are unsettled there. He went there early with

an attache of the State Department, who was sent down with money to pay

for the island. My uncle had his money in the same box, and so when they

went ashore, getting a receipt, the sailors broke open the box and took

all the money, not making any distinction between government money, which

was legitimate money to be stolen, and my uncle’s, which was his own

private property, and should have been respected. But he came home and

got some more and went back. And then he took the fever. There are

seven kinds of fever down there, you know; and, as his blood was out of

order by reason of loss of sleep and general wear and tear of mind, he

failed to cure the first fever, and then somehow he got the other six.

He is not a kind of man that enjoys fevers, though he is well meaning and

always does what he thinks is right, and so he was a good deal annoyed

when it appeared he was going to die.

But he worried through, and got well and started a farm. He fenced it

in, and the next day that great storm came on and washed the most of it

over to Gibraltar, or around there somewhere. He only said, in his

patient way, that it was gone, and he wouldn’t bother about trying to

find out where it went to, though it was his opinion it went to


Then he invested in a mountain, and started a farm up there, so as to be

out of the way when the sea came ashore again. It was a good mountain,

and a good farm, but it wasn’t any use; an earthquake came the next night

and shook it all down. It was all fragments, you know, and so mixed up

with another man’s property that he could not tell which were his

fragments without going to law; and he would not do that, because his

main object in going to St. Thomas was to be quiet. All that he wanted

was to settle down and be quiet.

He thought it all over, and finally he concluded to try the low ground

again, especially as he wanted to start a brickyard this time. He bought

a flat, and put out a hundred thousand bricks to dry preparatory to

baking them. But luck appeared to be against him. A volcano shoved

itself through there that night, and elevated his brickyard about two

thousand feet in the air. It irritated him a good deal. He has been up

there, and he says the bricks are all baked right enough, but he can’t

get them down. At first, he thought maybe the government would get the

bricks down for him, because since government bought the island, it ought

to protect the property where a man has invested in good faith; but all

he wants is quiet, and so he is not going to apply for the subsidy he was

thinking about.

He went back there last week in a couple of ships of war, to prospect

around the coast for a safe place for a farm where he could be quiet;

but a great “tidal wave” came, and hoisted both of the ships out into one

of the interior counties, and he came near losing his life. So he has

given up prospecting in a ship, and is discouraged.

Well, now he don’t know what to do. He has tried Alaska; but the bears

kept after him so much, and kept him so much on the jump, as it were,

that he had to leave the country. He could not be quiet there with those

bears prancing after him all the time. That is how he came to go to the

new island we have bought–St. Thomas. But he is getting to think St.

Thomas is not quiet enough for a man of his turn of mind, and that is why

he wishes me to find out if government is likely to buy some more islands

shortly. He has heard that government is thinking about buying Porto

Rico. If that is true, he wishes to try Porto Rico, if it is a quiet

place. How is Porto Rico for his style of man? Do you think the

government will buy it?





Once the creatures of the forest held a great convention and appointed a

commission consisting of the most illustrious scientists among them to go

forth, clear beyond the forest and out into the unknown and unexplored

world, to verify the truth of the matters already taught in their schools

and colleges and also to make discoveries. It was the most imposing

enterprise of the kind the nation had ever embarked in. True, the

government had once sent Dr. Bull Frog, with a picked crew, to hunt for a

northwesterly passage through the swamp to the right-hand corner of the

wood, and had since sent out many expeditions to hunt for Dr. Bull Frog;

but they never could find him, and so government finally gave him up and

ennobled his mother to show its gratitude for the services her son had

rendered to science. And once government sent Sir Grass Hopper to hunt

for the sources of the rill that emptied into the swamp; and afterward

sent out many expeditions to hunt for Sir Grass, and at last they were

successful–they found his body, but if he had discovered the sources

meantime, he did not let on. So government acted handsomely by deceased,

and many envied his funeral.

But these expeditions were trifles compared with the present one; for

this one comprised among its servants the very greatest among the

learned; and besides it was to go to the utterly unvisited regions

believed to lie beyond the mighty forest–as we have remarked before.

How the members were banqueted, and glorified, and talked about!

Everywhere that one of them showed himself, straightway there was a crowd

to gape and stare at him.

Finally they set off, and it was a sight to see the long procession of

dry-land Tortoises heavily laden with savants, scientific instruments,

Glow-Worms and Fire-Flies for signal service, provisions, Ants and

Tumble-Bugs to fetch and carry and delve, Spiders to carry the surveying

chain and do other engineering duty, and so forth and so on; and after

the Tortoises came another long train of ironclads–stately and spacious

Mud Turtles for marine transportation service; and from every Tortoise

and every Turtle flaunted a flaming gladiolus or other splendid banner;

at the head of the column a great band of Bumble-Bees, Mosquitoes,

Katy-Dids, and Crickets discoursed martial music; and the entire train

was under the escort and protection of twelve picked regiments of the

Army Worm.

At the end of three weeks the expedition emerged from the forest and

looked upon the great Unknown World. Their eyes were greeted with an

impressive spectacle. A vast level plain stretched before them, watered

by a sinuous stream; and beyond there towered up against the sky along

and lofty barrier of some kind, they did not know what. The Tumble-Bug

said he believed it was simply land tilted up on its edge, because he

knew he could see trees on it. But Professor Snail and the others said:

“You are hired to dig, sir–that is all. We need your muscle, not your

brains. When we want your opinion on scientific matters, we will hasten

to let you know. Your coolness is intolerable, too–loafing about here

meddling with august matters of learning, when the other laborers are

pitching camp. Go along and help handle the baggage.”

The Tumble-Bug turned on his heel uncrushed, unabashed, observing to

himself, “If it isn’t land tilted up, let me die the death of the


Professor Bull Frog (nephew of the late explorer) said he believed the

ridge was the wall that inclosed the earth. He continued:

“Our fathers have left us much learning, but they had not traveled far,

and so we may count this a noble new discovery. We are safe for renown

now, even though our labors began and ended with this single achievement.

I wonder what this wall is built of? Can it be fungus? Fungus is an

honorable good thing to build a wall of.”

Professor Snail adjusted his field-glass and examined the rampart

critically. Finally he said:

“‘The fact that it is not diaphanous convinces me that it is a dense

vapor formed by the calorification of ascending moisture dephlogisticated

by refraction. A few endiometrical experiments would confirm this, but

it is not necessary. The thing is obvious.”

So he shut up his glass and went into his shell to make a note of the

discovery of the world’s end, and the nature of it.

“Profound mind!” said Professor Angle-Worm to Professor Field-Mouse;

“profound mind! nothing can long remain a mystery to that august brain.”

Night drew on apace, the sentinel crickets were posted, the Glow-Worm and

Fire-Fly lamps were lighted, and the camp sank to silence and sleep.

After breakfast in the morning, the expedition moved on. About noon a

great avenue was reached, which had in it two endless parallel bars of

some kind of hard black substance, raised the height of the tallest Bull

Frog, above the general level. The scientists climbed up on these and

examined and tested them in various ways. They walked along them for a

great distance, but found no end and no break in them. They could arrive

at no decision. There was nothing in the records of science that

mentioned anything of this kind. But at last the bald and venerable

geographer, Professor Mud Turtle, a person who, born poor, and of a

drudging low family, had, by his own native force raised himself to the

headship of the geographers of his generation, said:

“‘My friends, we have indeed made a discovery here. We have found in a

palpable, compact, and imperishable state what the wisest of our fathers

always regarded as a mere thing of the imagination. Humble yourselves,

my friends, for we stand in a majestic presence. These are parallels of


Every heart and every head was bowed, so awful, so sublime was the

magnitude of the discovery. Many shed tears.

The camp was pitched and the rest of the day given up to writing

voluminous accounts of the marvel, and correcting astronomical tables to

fit it. Toward midnight a demoniacal shriek was heard, then a clattering

and rumbling noise, and the next instant a vast terrific eye shot by,

with a long tail attached, and disappeared in the gloom, still uttering

triumphant shrieks.

The poor damp laborers were stricken to the heart with fright, and

stampeded for the high grass in a body. But not the scientists. They

had no superstitions. They calmly proceeded to exchange theories.

The ancient geographer’s opinion was asked. He went into his shell and

deliberated long and profoundly. When he came out at last, they all knew

by his worshiping countenance that he brought light. Said he:

“Give thanks for this stupendous thing which we have been permitted to

witness. It is the Vernal Equinox!”

There were shoutings and great rejoicings.

“But,” said the Angle-Worm, uncoiling after reflection, “this is dead


“Very well,” said the Turtle, “we are far from our region; the season

differs with the difference of time between the two points.”

“Ah, true: True enough. But it is night. How should the sun pass in

the night?”

“In these distant regions he doubtless passes always in the night at this


“Yes, doubtless that is true. But it being night, how is it that we

could see him?”

“It is a great mystery. I grant that. But I am persuaded that the

humidity of the atmosphere in these remote regions is such that particles

of daylight adhere to the disk and it was by aid of these that we were

enabled to see the sun in the dark.”

This was deemed satisfactory, and due entry was made of the decision.

But about this moment those dreadful shriekings were heard again; again

the rumbling and thundering came speeding up out of the night; and once

more a flaming great eye flashed by and lost itself in gloom and


The camp laborers gave themselves up for lost. The savants were sorely

perplexed. Here was a marvel hard to account for. They thought and they

talked, they talked and they thought. Finally the learned and aged Lord

Grand-Daddy-Longlegs, who had been sitting in deep study, with his

slender limbs crossed and his stemmy arms folded, said:

“Deliver your opinions, brethren, and then I will tell my thought–for I

think I have solved this problem.”

“So be it, good your lordship,” piped the weak treble of the wrinkled and

withered Professor Woodlouse, “for we shall hear from your lordship’s

lips naught but wisdom.” [Here the speaker threw in a mess of trite,

threadbare, exasperating quotations from the ancient poets and

philosophers, delivering them with unction in the sounding grandeurs of

the original tongues, they being from the Mastodon, the Dodo, and other

dead languages.] “Perhaps I ought not to presume to meddle with matters

pertaining to astronomy at all, in such a presence as this, I who have

made it the business of my life to delve only among the riches of the

extinct languages and unearth the opulence of their ancient lore; but

still, as unacquainted as I am with the noble science of astronomy, I beg

with deference and humility to suggest that inasmuch as the last of these

wonderful apparitions proceeded in exactly the opposite direction from

that pursued by the first, which you decide to be the Vernal Equinox,

and greatly resembled it in all particulars, is it not possible, nay

certain, that this last is the Autumnal Equi–”

” O-o-o!” “O-o-o! go to bed! go to bed!” with annoyed derision from

everybody. So the poor old Woodlouse retreated out of sight, consumed

with shame.

Further discussion followed, and then the united voice of the commission

begged Lord Longlegs to speak. He said:

“Fellow-scientists, it is my belief that we have witnessed a thing which

has occurred in perfection but once before in the knowledge of created

beings. It is a phenomenon of inconceivable importance and interest,

view it as one may, but its interest to us is vastly heightened by an

added knowledge of its nature which no scholar has heretofore possessed

or even suspected. This great marvel which we have just witnessed,

fellow-savants (it almost takes my breath away), is nothing less than the

transit of Venus!”

Every scholar sprang to his feet pale with astonishment. Then ensued

tears, handshakings, frenzied embraces, and the most extravagant

jubilations of every sort. But by and by, as emotion began to retire

within bounds, and reflection to return to the front, the accomplished

Chief Inspector Lizard observed:

“But how is this? Venus should traverse the sun’s surface, not the


The arrow went home. It earned sorrow to the breast of every apostle of

learning there, for none could deny that this was a formidable criticism.

But tranquilly the venerable Duke crossed his limbs behind his ears and


“My friend has touched the marrow of our mighty discovery. Yes–all that

have lived before us thought a transit of Venus consisted of a flight

across the sun’s face; they thought it, they maintained it, they honestly

believed it, simple hearts, and were justified in it by the limitations

of their knowledge; but to us has been granted the inestimable boon of

proving that the transit occurs across the earth’s face, for we have SEEN


The assembled wisdom sat in speechless adoration of this imperial

intellect. All doubts had instantly departed, like night before the


The Tumble-Bug had just intruded, unnoticed. He now came reeling forward

among the scholars, familiarly slapping first one and then another on the

shoulder, saying “Nice (‘ic) nice old boy!” and smiling a smile of

elaborate content. Arrived at a good position for speaking, he put his

left arm akimbo with his knuckles planted in his hip just under the edge

of his cut-away coat, bent his right leg, placing his toe on the ground

and resting his heel with easy grace against his left shin, puffed out

his aldermanic stomach, opened his lips, leaned his right elbow on

Inspector Lizard’s shoulder, and–

But the shoulder was indignantly withdrawn and the hard-handed son of

toil went to earth. He floundered a bit, but came up smiling, arranged

his attitude with the same careful detail as before, only choosing

Professor Dogtick’s shoulder for a support, opened his lips and–

Went to earth again. He presently scrambled up once more, still smiling,

made a loose effort to brush the dust off his coat and legs, but a smart

pass of his hand missed entirely, and the force of the unchecked impulse

stewed him suddenly around, twisted his legs together, and projected him,

limber and sprawling, into the lap of the Lord Longlegs. Two or three

scholars sprang forward, flung the low creature head over heels into a

corner, and reinstated the patrician, smoothing his ruffled dignity with

many soothing and regretful speeches. Professor Bull Frog roared out:

“No more of this, sirrah Tumble-Bug! Say your say and then get you about

your business with speed! Quick–what is your errand? Come move off a

trifle; you smell like a stable; what have you been at?”

“Please (‘ic!) please your worship I chanced to light upon a find. But

no m(e-uck!) matter ’bout that. There’s b(‘ic !) been another find

which–beg pardon, your honors, what was that th(‘ic!) thing that ripped

by here first?”

“It was the Vernal Equinox.”

“Inf(‘ic!)fernal equinox. ‘At’s all right. D(‘ic !) Dunno him. What’s

other one?”

“The transit of Venus.

“G(‘ic !) Got me again. No matter. Las’ one dropped something.”

“Ah, indeed! Good luck! Good news! Quick what is it?”

“M(‘ic!) Mosey out ‘n’ see. It’ll pay.”

No more votes were taken for four-and-twenty hours. Then the following

entry was made:

“The commission went in a body to view the find. It was found to consist

of a hard, smooth, huge object with a rounded summit surmounted by a

short upright projection resembling a section of a cabbage stalk divided

transversely. This projection was not solid, but was a hollow cylinder

plugged with a soft woody substance unknown to our region–that is, it

had been so plugged, but unfortunately this obstruction had been

heedlessly removed by Norway Rat, Chief of the Sappers and Miners, before

our arrival. The vast object before us, so mysteriously conveyed from

the glittering domains of space, was found to be hollow and nearly filled

with a pungent liquid of a brownish hue, like rainwater that has stood

for some time. And such a spectacle as met our view! Norway Rat was

perched upon the summit engaged in thrusting his tail into the

cylindrical projection, drawing it out dripping, permitting the

struggling multitude of laborers to suck the end of it, then straightway

reinserting it and delivering the fluid to the mob as before. Evidently

this liquor had strangely potent qualities; for all that partook of it

were immediately exalted with great and pleasurable emotions, and went

staggering about singing ribald songs, embracing, fighting, dancing,

discharging irruptions of profanity, and defying all authority. Around

us struggled a massed and uncontrolled mob–uncontrolled and likewise

uncontrollable, for the whole army, down to the very sentinels, were mad

like the rest, by reason of the drink. We were seized upon by these

reckless creatures, and within the hour we, even we, were

undistinguishable from the rest–the demoralization was complete and

universal. In time the camp wore itself out with its orgies and sank

into a stolid and pitiable stupor, in whose mysterious bonds rank was

forgotten and strange bedfellows made, our eyes, at the resurrection,

being blasted and our souls petrified with the incredible spectacle of

that intolerable stinking scavenger, the Tumble-Bug, and the illustrious

patrician my Lord Grand Daddy, Duke of Longlegs, lying soundly steeped in

sleep, and clasped lovingly in each other’s arms, the like whereof hath

not been seen in all the ages that tradition compasseth, and doubtless

none shall ever in this world find faith to master the belief of it save

only we that have beheld the damnable and unholy vision. Thus

inscrutable be the ways of God, whose will be done!

“This day, by order, did the engineer-in-chief, Herr Spider, rig the

necessary tackle for the overturning of the vast reservoir, and so its

calamitous contents were discharged in a torrent upon the thirsty earth,

which drank it up, and now there is no more danger, we reserving but a

few drops for experiment and scrutiny, and to exhibit to the king and

subsequently preserve among the wonders of the museum. What this liquid

is has been determined. It is without question that fierce and most

destructive fluid called lightning. It was wrested, in its container,

from its storehouse in the clouds, by the resistless might of the flying

planet, and hurled at our feet as she sped by. An interesting discovery

here results. Which is, that lightning, kept to itself, is quiescent; it

is the assaulting contact of the thunderbolt that releases it from

captivity, ignites its awful fires, and so produces an instantaneous

combustion and explosion which spread disaster and desolation far and

wide in the earth.”

After another day devoted to rest and recovery, the expedition proceeded

upon its way. Some days later it went into camp in a pleasant part of

the plain, and the savants sallied forth to see what they might find.

Their reward was at hand. Professor Bull Frog discovered a strange tree,

and called his comrades. They inspected it with profound interest. It

was very tall and straight, and wholly devoid of bark, limbs, or foliage.

By triangulation Lord Longlegs determined its altitude; Herr Spider

measured its circumference at the base and computed the circumference at

its top by a mathematical demonstration based upon the warrant furnished

by the uniform degree of its taper upward. It was considered a very

extraordinary find; and since it was a tree of a hitherto unknown

species, Professor Woodlouse gave it a name of a learned sound, being

none other than that of Professor Bull Frog translated into the ancient

Mastodon language, for it had always been the custom with discoverers to

perpetuate their names and honor themselves by this sort of connection

with their discoveries.

Now Professor Field-Mouse having placed his sensitive ear to the tree,

detected a rich, harmonious sound issuing from it. This surprising thing

was tested and enjoyed by each scholar in turn, and great was the

gladness and astonishment of all. Professor Woodlouse was requested to

add to and extend the tree’s name so as to make it suggest the musical

quality it possessed–which he did, furnishing the addition Anthem

Singer, done into the Mastodon tongue.

By this time Professor Snail was making some telescopic inspections.

He discovered a great number of these trees, extending in a single rank,

with wide intervals between, as far as his instrument would carry, both

southward and northward. He also presently discovered that all these

trees were bound together, near their tops, by fourteen great ropes, one

above another, which ropes were continuous, from tree to tree, as far as

his vision could reach. This was surprising. Chief Engineer Spider ran

aloft and soon reported that these ropes were simply a web hung thereby

some colossal member of his own species, for he could see its prey

dangling here and there from the strands, in the shape of mighty shreds

and rags that had a woven look about their texture and were no doubt the

discarded skins of prodigious insects which had been caught and eaten.

And then he ran along one of the ropes to make a closer inspection, but

felt a smart sudden burn on the soles of his feet, accompanied by a

paralyzing shock, wherefore he let go and swung himself to the earth by a

thread of his own spinning, and advised all to hurry at once to camp,

lest the monster should appear and get as much interested in the savants

as they were in him and his works. So they departed with speed, making

notes about the gigantic web as they went. And that evening the

naturalist of the expedition built a beautiful model of the colossal

spider, having no need to see it in order to do this, because he had

picked up a fragment of its vertebra by the tree, and so knew exactly

what the creature looked like and what its habits and its preferences

were by this simple evidence alone. He built it with a tail, teeth,

fourteen legs, and a snout, and said it ate grass, cattle, pebbles, and

dirt with equal enthusiasm. This animal was regarded as a very precious

addition to science. It was hoped a dead one might be found to stuff.

Professor Woodlouse thought that he and his brother scholars, by lying

hid and being quiet, might maybe catch a live one. He was advised to try

it. Which was all the attention that was paid to his suggestion. The

conference ended with the naming the monster after the naturalist, since

he, after God, had created it.

“And improved it, mayhap,” muttered the Tumble-Bug, who was intruding

again, according to his idle custom and his unappeasable curiosity.





A week later the expedition camped in the midst of a collection of

wonderful curiosities. These were a sort of vast caverns of stone that

rose singly and in bunches out of the plain by the side of the river

which they had first seen when they emerged from the forest. These

caverns stood in long, straight rows on opposite sides of broad aisles

that were bordered with single ranks of trees. The summit of each cavern

sloped sharply both ways. Several horizontal rows of great square holes,

obstructed by a thin, shiny, transparent substance, pierced the frontage

of each cavern. Inside were caverns within caverns; and one might ascend

and visit these minor compartments by means of curious winding ways

consisting of continuous regular terraces raised one above another.

There were many huge, shapeless objects in each compartment which were

considered to have been living creatures at one time, though now the thin

brown skin was shrunken and loose, and rattled when disturbed. Spiders

were here in great number, and their cobwebs, stretched in all directions

and wreathing the great skinny dead together, were a pleasant spectacle,

since they inspired with life and wholesome cheer a scene which would

otherwise have brought to the mind only a sense of forsakenness and

desolation. Information was sought of these spiders, but in vain. They

were of a different nationality from those with the expedition, and their

language seemed but a musical, meaningless jargon. They were a timid,

gentle race, but ignorant, and heathenish worshipers of unknown gods.

The expedition detailed a great detachment of missionaries to teach them

the true religion, and in a week’s time a precious work had been wrought

among those darkened creatures, not three families being by that time at

peace with each other or having a settled belief in any system of

religion whatever. This encouraged the expedition to establish a colony

of missionaries there permanently, that the work of grace might go on.

But let us not outrun our narrative. After close examination of the

fronts of the caverns, and much thinking and exchanging of theories, the

scientists determined the nature of these singular formations. They said

that each belonged mainly to the Old Red Sandstone period; that the

cavern fronts rose in innumerable and wonderfully regular strata high in

the air, each stratum about five frog-spans thick, and that in the

present discovery lay an overpowering refutation of all received geology;

for between every two layers of Old Red Sandstone reposed a thin layer of

decomposed limestone; so instead of there having been but one Old Red

Sandstone period there had certainly been not less than a hundred and

seventy-five! And by the same token it was plain that there had also

been a hundred and seventy-five floodings of the earth and depositings of

limestone strata! The unavoidable deduction from which pair of facts was

the overwhelming truth that the world, instead of being only two hundred

thousand years old, was older by millions upon millions of years! And

there was another curious thing: every stratum of Old Red Sandstone was

pierced and divided at mathematically regular intervals by vertical

strata of limestone. Up-shootings of igneous rock through fractures in

water formations were common; but here was the first instance where

water-formed rock had been so projected. It was a great and noble

discovery, and its value to science was considered to be inestimable.

A critical examination of some of the lower strata demonstrated the

presence of fossil ants and tumble-bugs (the latter accompanied by their

peculiar goods), and with high gratification the fact was enrolled upon

the scientific record; for this was proof that these vulgar laborers

belonged to the first and lowest orders of created beings, though at the

same time there was something repulsive in the reflection that the

perfect and exquisite creature of the modern uppermost order owed its

origin to such ignominious beings through the mysterious law of

Development of Species.

The Tumble-Bug, overhearing this discussion, said he was willing that the

parvenus of these new times should find what comfort they might in their

wise-drawn theories, since as far as he was concerned he was content to

be of the old first families and proud to point back to his place among

the old original aristocracy of the land.

“Enjoy your mushroom dignity, stinking of the varnish of yesterday’s

veneering, since you like it,” said he; “suffice it for the Tumble-Bugs

that they come of a race that rolled their fragrant spheres down the

solemn aisles of antiquity, and left their imperishable works embalmed in

the Old Red Sandstone to proclaim it to the wasting centuries as they

file along the highway of Time!”

“Oh, take a walk!” said the chief of the eKpedition, with derision.

The summer passed, and winter approached. In and about many of the

caverns were what seemed to be inscriptions. Most of the scientists said

they were inscriptions, a few said they were not. The chief philologist,

Professor Woodlouse, maintained that they were writings, done in a

character utterly unknown to scholars, and in a language equally unknown.

He had early ordered his artists and draftsmen to make facsimiles of all

that were discovered; and had set himself about finding the key to the

hidden tongue. In this work he had followed the method which had always

been used by decipherers previously. That is to say, he placed a number

of copies of inscriptions before him and studied them both collectively

and in detail. To begin with, he placed the following copies together:










At first it seemed to the professor that this was a sign-language, and

that each word was represented by a distinct sign; further examination

convinced him that it was a written language, and that every letter of

its alphabet was represented by a character of its own; and finally he

decided that it was a language which conveyed itself partly by letters,

and partly by signs or hieroglyphics. This conclusion was forced upon

him by the discovery of several specimens of the following nature:

He observed that certain inscriptions were met with in greater frequency

than others. Such as “FOR SALE CHEAP”; “BILLIARDS”; “S. T.–1860–X”;

“KENO”; “ALE ON DRAUGHT.” Naturally, then, these must be religious

maxims. But this idea was cast aside by and by, as the mystery of the

strange alphabet began to clear itself. In time, the professor was

enabled to translate several of the inscriptions with considerable

plausibility, though not to the perfect satisfaction of all the scholars.

Still, he made constant and encouraging progress.

Finally a cavern was discovered with these inscriptions upon it:


Open at All Hours.

Admission 50 cents.




Professor Woodlouse affirmed that the word “Museum” was equivalent to the

phrase “lumgath molo,” or “Burial Place.” Upon entering, the scientists

were well astonished. But what they saw may be best conveyed in the

language of their own official report:

“Erect, in a row, were a sort of rigid great figures which struck us

instantly as belonging to the long extinct species of reptile called MAN,

described in our ancient records. This was a peculiarly gratifying

discovery, because of late times it has become fashionable to regard this

creature as a myth and a superstition, a work of the inventive

imaginations of our remote ancestors. But here, indeed, was Man,

perfectly preserved, in a fossil state. And this was his burial place,

as already ascertained by the inscription. And now it began to be

suspected that the caverns we had been inspecting had been his ancient

haunts in that old time that he roamed the earth–for upon the breast of

each of these tall fossils was an inscription in the character heretofore

noticed. One read, ‘CAPTAIN KIDD THE PIRATE’; another, ‘QUEEN VICTORIA’;

another, ‘ABE LINCOLN’; another, ‘GEORGE WASHINGTON,’ etc.

“With feverish interest we called for our ancient scientific records to

discover if perchance the description of Man there set down would tally

with the fossils before us. Professor Woodlouse read it aloud in its

quaint and musty phraseology, to wit:

“‘In ye time of our fathers Man still walked ye earth, as by tradition we

know. It was a creature of exceeding great size, being compassed about

with a loose skin, sometimes of one color, sometimes of many, the which

it was able to cast at will; which being done, the hind legs were

discovered to be armed with short claws like to a mole’s but broader, and

ye forelegs with fingers of a curious slimness and a length much more

prodigious than a frog’s, armed also with broad talons for scratching in

ye earth for its food. It had a sort of feathers upon its head such as

hath a rat, but longer, and a beak suitable for seeking its food by ye

smell thereof. When it was stirred with happiness, it leaked water from

its eyes; and when it suffered or was sad, it manifested it with a

horrible hellish cackling clamor that was exceeding dreadful to hear and

made one long that it might rend itself and perish, and so end its

troubles. Two Mans being together, they uttered noises at each other

like this: “Haw-haw-haw–dam good, dam good,” together with other sounds

of more or less likeness to these, wherefore ye poets conceived that they

talked, but poets be always ready to catch at any frantic folly, God he

knows. Sometimes this creature goeth about with a long stick ye which it

putteth to its face and bloweth fire and smoke through ye same with a

sudden and most damnable bruit and noise that doth fright its prey to

death, and so seizeth it in its talons and walketh away to its habitat,

consumed with a most fierce and devilish joy.’

“Now was the description set forth by our ancestors wonderfully indorsed

and confirmed by the fossils before us, as shall be seen. The specimen

marked ‘Captain Kidd’ was examined in detail. Upon its head and part of

its face was a sort of fur like that upon the tail of a horse. With

great labor its loose skin was removed, whereupon its body was discovered

to be of a polished white texture, thoroughly petrified. The straw it

had eaten, so many ages gone by, was still in its body, undigested–and

even in its legs.

“Surrounding these fossils were objects that would mean nothing to the

ignorant, but to the eye of science they were a revelation. They laid

bare the secrets of dead ages. These musty Memorials told us when Man

lived, and what were his habits. For here, side by side with Man, were

the evidences that he had lived in the earliest ages of creation, the

companion of the other low orders of life that belonged to that forgotten

time. Here was the fossil nautilus that sailed the primeval seas; here

was the skeleton of the mastodon, the ichthyosaurus, the cave-bear, the

prodigious elk. Here, also, were the charred bones of some of these

extinct animals and of the young of Man’s own species, split lengthwise,

showing that to his taste the marrow was a toothsome luxury. It was

plain that Man had robbed those bones of their contents, since no tooth-

mark of any beast was upon them albeit the Tumble-Bug intruded the remark

that ‘no beast could mark a bone with its teeth, anyway.’ Here were

proofs that Man had vague, groveling notions of art; for this fact was

conveyed by certain things marked with the untranslatable words, ‘FLINT


Some of these seemed to be rude weapons chipped out of flint, and in a

secret place was found some more in process of construction, with this

untranslatable legend, on a thin, flimsy material, lying by:

“‘Jones, if you don’t want to be discharged from the Musseum, make

the next primeaveal weppons more careful–you couldn’t even fool one

of these sleepy old syentific grannys from the Coledge with the last

ones. And mind you the animles you carved on some of the Bone

Ornaments is a blame sight too good for any primeaveal man that was

ever fooled.–Varnum, Manager.’

“Back of the burial place was a mass of ashes, showing that Man always

had a feast at a funeral–else why the ashes in such a place; and

showing, also, that he believed in God and the immortality of the soil

–else why these solemn ceremonies?

“To, sum up. We believe that Man had a written language. We know that

he indeed existed at one time, and is not a myth; also, that he was the

companion of the cave-bear, the mastodon, and other extinct species; that

he cooked and ate them and likewise the young of his own kind; also, that

he bore rude weapons, and knew something of art; that he imagined he had

a soul, and pleased himself with the fancy that it was immortal. But let

us not laugh; there may be creatures in existence to whom we and our

vanities and profundities may seem as ludicrous.”




Near the margin of the great river the scientists presently found a huge,

shapely stone, with this inscription:

“In 1847, in the spring, the river overflowed its banks and covered

the whole township. The depth was from two to six feet. More than

900 head of cattle were lost, and many homes destroyed. The Mayor

ordered this memorial to be erected to perpetuate the event. God

spare us the repetition of it!”

With infinite trouble, Professor Woodlouse succeeded in making a

translation of this inscription, which was sent home, and straightway an

enormous excitement was created about it. It confirmed, in a remarkable

way, certain treasured traditions of the ancients. The translation was

slightly marred by one or two untranslatable words, but these did not

impair the general clearness of the meaning. It is here presented:

“One thousand eight hundred and forty-seven years ago, the (fires?)

descended and consumed the whole city. Only some nine hundred souls

were saved, all others destroyed. The (king?) commanded this stone

to be set up to . . . (untranslatable) . . . prevent the

repetition of it.”

This was the first successful and satisfactory translation that had been

made of the mysterious character let behind him by extinct man, and it

gave Professor Woodlouse such reputation that at once every seat of

learning in his native land conferred a degree of the most illustrious

grade upon him, and it was believed that if he had been a soldier and had

turned his splendid talents to the extermination of a remote tribe of

reptiles, the king would have ennobled him and made him rich. And this,

too, was the origin of that school of scientists called Manologists,

whose specialty is the deciphering of the ancient records of the extinct

bird termed Man. [For it is now decided that Man was a bird and not a

reptile.] But Professor Woodlouse began and remained chief of these, for

it was granted that no translations were ever so free from error as his.

Others made mistakes he seemed incapable of it. Many a memorial of the

lost race was afterward found, but none ever attained to the renown and

veneration achieved by the “Mayoritish Stone”it being so called from the

word “Mayor” in it, which, being translated “King,” “Mayoritish Stone”

was but another way of saying “King Stone.”

Another time the expedition made a great “find.” It was a vast round

flattish mass, ten frog-spans in diameter and five or six high.

Professor Snail put on his spectacles and examined it all around, and

then climbed up and inspected the top. He said:

“The result of my perlustration and perscontation of this isoperimetrical

protuberance is a belief at it is one of those rare and wonderful

creation left by the Mound Builders. The fact that this one is

lamellibranchiate in its formation, simply adds to its interest as being

possibly of a different kind from any we read of in the records of

science, but yet in no manner marring its authenticity. Let the

megalophonous grasshopper sound a blast and summon hither the perfunctory

and circumforaneous Tumble-Bug, to the end that excavations may be made

and learning gather new treasures.”

Not a Tumble-Bug could be found on duty, so the Mound was excavated by a

working party of Ants. Nothing was discovered. This would have been a

great disappointment, had not the venerable Longlegs explained the

matter. He said:

“It is now plain to me that the mysterious and forgotten race of Mound

Builders did not always erect these edifices as mausoleums, else in this

case, as in all previous cases, their skeletons would be found here,

along with the rude implements which the creatures used in life. Is not

this manifest?”

“True! true!” from everybody.

“Then we have made a discovery of peculiar value here; a discovery which

greatly extends our knowledge of this creature in place of diminishing

it; a discovery which will add luster to the achievements of this

expedition and win for us the commendations of scholars everywhere.

For the absence of the customary relics here means nothing less than

this: The Mound Builder, instead of being the ignorant, savage reptile we

have been taught to consider him, was a creature of cultivation and high

intelligence, capable of not only appreciating worthy achievements of the

great and noble of his species, but of commemorating them! Fellow-

scholars, this stately Mound is not a sepulcher, it is a monument!”

A profound impression was produced by this.

But it was interrupted by rude and derisive laughter–and the Tumble-Bug


“A monument!” quoth he. “A monument setup by a Mound Builder! Aye, so

it is! So it is, indeed, to the shrewd keen eye of science; but to an,

ignorant poor devil who has never seen a college, it is not a Monument,

strictly speaking, but is yet a most rich and noble property; and with

your worship’s good permission I will proceed to manufacture it into

spheres of exceedings grace and–”

The Tumble-Bug was driven away with stripes, and the draftsmen of the

expedition were set to making views of the Monument from different

standpoints, while Professor Woodlouse, in a frenzy of scientific zeal,

traveled all over it and all around it hoping to find an inscription.

But if there had ever been one, it had decayed or been removed by some

vandal as a relic.

The views having been completed, it was now considered safe to load the

precious Monument itself upon the backs of four of the largest Tortoises

and send it home to the king’s museum, which was done; and when it

arrived it was received with enormous Mat and escorted to its future

abiding-place by thousands of enthusiastic citizens, King Bullfrog XVI.

himself attending and condescending to sit enthroned upon it throughout

the progress.

The growing rigor of the weather was now admonishing the scientists to

close their labors for the present, so they made preparations to journey

homeward. But even their last day among the Caverns bore fruit; for one

of the scholars found in an out-of-the-way corner of the Museum or

“Burial Place” a most strange and extraordinary thing. It was nothing

less than a double Man-Bird lashed together breast to breast by a natural

ligament, and labeled with the untranslatable words, “Siamese Twins.”

The official report concerning this thing closed thus:

“Wherefore it appears that there were in old times two distinct species

of this majestic fowl, the one being single and the other double. Nature

has a reason for all things. It is plain to the eye of science that the

Double-Man originally inhabited a region where dangers abounded; hence he

was paired together to the end that while one part slept the other might

watch; and likewise that, danger being discovered, there might always be

a double instead of a single power to oppose it. All honor to the

mystery-dispelling eye of godlike Science!”

And near the Double Man-Bird was found what was plainly an ancient record

of his, marked upon numberless sheets of a thin white substance and bound

together. Almost the first glance that Professor Woodlouse threw into it

revealed this following sentence, which he instantly translated and laid

before the scientists, in a tremble, and it uplifted every soul there

with exultation and astonishment:

“In truth it is believed by many that the lower animals reason and talk


When the great official report of the expedition appeared, the above

sentence bore this comment:

“Then there are lower animals than Man! This remarkable passage can mean

nothing else. Man himself is extinct, but they may still exist. What

can they be? Where do they inhabit? One’s enthusiasm bursts all bounds

in the contemplation of the brilliant field of discovery and

investigation here thrown open to science. We close our labors with the

humble prayer that your Majesty will immediately appoint a commission and

command it to rest not nor spare expense until the search for this

hitherto unsuspected race of the creatures of God shall be crowned with


The expedition then journeyed homeward after its long absence and its

faithful endeavors, and was received with a mighty ovation by the whole

grateful country. There were vulgar, ignorant carpers, of course, as

there always are and always will be; and naturally one of these was the

obscene Tumble-Bug. He said that all he had learned by his travels was

that science only needed a spoonful of supposition to build a mountain of

demonstrated fact out of; and that for the future he meant to be content

with the knowledge that nature had made free to all creatures and not go

prying into the august secrets of the Deity.


I am not a private secretary to a senator any more I now. I held the

berth two months in security and in great cheerfulness of spirit, but my

bread began to return from over the waters then–that is to say, my works

came back and revealed themselves. I judged it best to resign. The way

of it was this. My employer sent for me one morning tolerably early,

and, as soon as I had finished inserting some conundrums clandestinely

into his last great speech upon finance, I entered the presence. There

was something portentous in his appearance. His cravat was untied, his

hair was in a state of disorder, and his countenance bore about it the

signs of a suppressed storm. He held a package of letters in his tense

grasp, and I knew that the dreaded Pacific mail was in. He said:

“I thought you were worthy of confidence.”

I said, “Yes, sir.”

He said, “I gave you a letter from certain of my constituents in the

State of Nevada, asking the establishment of a post-office at Baldwin’s

Ranch, and told you to answer it, as ingeniously as you could, with

arguments which should persuade them that there was no real necessity for

as office at that place.

I felt easier. “Oh, if that is all, sir, I did do that.”

“Yes, you did. I will read your answer for your own humiliation:


“Messrs. Smith, Jones, and others.

“‘GENTLEMEN: What the mischief do you suppose you want with a

post-office at Baldwin’s Ranch? It would not do you any good.

If any letters came there, you couldn’t read them, you know; and,

besides, such letters as ought to pass through, with money in them,

for other localities, would not be likely to get through, you must

perceive at once; and that would make trouble for us all. No, don’t

bother about a post-office in your camp. I have your best interests

at heart, and feel that it would only be an ornamental folly. What

you want is a nice jail, you know–a nice, substantial jail and a

free school. These will be a lasting benefit to you. These will

make you really contented and happy. I will move in the matter at


“‘Very truly, etc.,

Mark Twain,

“‘For James W. N——, U. S. Senator.’

“That is the way you answered that letter. Those people say they will

hang me, if I ever enter that district again; and I am perfectly

satisfied they will, too.”

“Well, sir, I did not know I was doing any harm. I only wanted to

convince them.”

“Ah. Well, you did convince them, I make no manner of doubt. Now, here

is another specimen. I gave you a petition from certain gentlemen of

Nevada, praying that I would get a bill through Congress incorporating

the Methodist Episcopal Church of the State of Nevada. I told you to

say, in reply, that the creation of such a law came more properly within

the province of the state legislature; and to endeavor to show them that,

in the present feebleness of the religious element in that new

commonwealth, the expediency of incorporating the church was

questionable. What did you write?

“‘WASHINGTON, Nov. 24.

“‘Rev. John Halifax and others.

“‘GENTLEMEN: You will have to go to the state legislature about that

speculation of yours–Congress don’t know anything about religion.

But don’t you hurry to go there, either; because this thing you

propose to do out in that new country isn’t expedient–in fact, it

is ridiculous. Your religious people there are too feeble, in

intellect, in morality, in piety in everything, pretty much. You

had better drop this–you can’t make it work. You can’t issue stock

on an incorporation like that–or if you could, it would only keep

you in trouble all the time. The other denominations would abuse

it, and “bear” it, and “sell it short,” and break it down. They

would do with it just as they would with one of your silver-mines

out there–they would try to make all the world believe it was

“wildcat.” You ought not to do anything that is calculated to bring

a sacred thing into disrepute. You ought to be ashamed of

yourselves that is what I think about it. You close your petition

with the words: “And we will ever pray.” I think you had better you

need to do it.

“‘Very truly, etc.,


“‘For James W. N—–, U. S. Senator.’

“That luminous epistle finishes me with the religious element among my

constituents. But that my political murder might be made sure, some evil

instinct prompted me to hand you this memorial from the grave company of

elders composing the board of aldermen of the city of San Francisco, to

try your hand upon a, memorial praying that the city’s right to the

water-lots upon the city front might be established by law of Congress.

I told you this was a dangerous matter to move in. I told you to write a

non-committal letter to the aldermen–an ambiguous letter–a letter that

should avoid, as far as possible, all real consideration and discussion

of the water-lot question. If there is any feeling left in you–any

shame–surely this letter you wrote, in obedience to that order, ought to

evoke it, when its words fall upon your ears:


“‘The Honorable Board of Aldermen, etc.

“‘GENTLEMEN: George Washington, the revered Father of his Country,

is dead. His long and brilliant career is closed, alas! forever.

He was greatly respected in this section of the country, and his

untimely decease cast a gloom over the whole community. He died on

the 14th day of December, 1799. He passed peacefully away from the

scene of his honors and his great achievements, the most lamented

hero and the best beloved that ever earth hath yielded unto Death.

At such a time as this, you speak of water-lots! what a lot was his!

“‘What is fame! Fame is an accident. Sir Isaac Newton discovered

an apple falling to the ground–a trivial discovery, truly, and one

which a million men had made before him–but his parents were

influential, and so they tortured that small circumstance into

something wonderful, and, lo! the simple world took up the shout

and, in almost the twinkling of an eye, that man was famous.

Treasure these thoughts.

“‘Poesy, sweet poesy, who shall estimate what the world owes to


“Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow–

And everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.”

“Jack and Gill went up the hill

To draw a pail of water;

Jack fell down and broke his crown,

And Gill came tumbling after.”

“‘For simplicity, elegance of diction, and freedom from immoral

tendencies, I regard those two poems in the light of gems. They

are suited to all grades of intelligence, to every sphere of life

–to the field, to the nursery, to the guild. Especially should

no Board of Aldermen be without them.

“‘Venerable fossils! write again. Nothing improves one so much as

friendly correspondence. Write again–and if there is anything in

this memorial of yours that refers to anything in particular, do

not be backward about explaining it. We shall always be happy to

hear you chirp.

“‘Very truly, etc.,


“‘For James W. N—–, U. S. Senator.’

“That is an atrocious, a ruinous epistle! Distraction!”

“Well, sir, I am really sorry if there is anything wrong about it–but

–but it appears to me to dodge the water-lot question.”

“Dodge the mischief! Oh!–but never mind. As long as destruction must

come now, let it be complete. Let it be complete–let this last of your

performances, which I am about to read, make a finality of it. I am a

ruined man. I had my misgivings when I gave you the letter from

Humboldt, asking that the post route from Indian Gulch to Shakespeare Gap

and intermediate points be changed partly to the old Mormon trail. But I

told you it was a delicate question, and warned you to deal with it

deftly–to answer it dubiously, and leave them a little in the dark.

And your fatal imbecility impelled you to make this disastrous reply.

I should think you would stop your ears, if you are not dead to all


“‘WASHINGTON, Nov. 30.

“‘Messes. Perkins, Wagner, et at.

“‘GENTLEMEN: It is a delicate question about this Indian trail, but,

handled with proper deftness and dubiousness, I doubt not we shall

succeed in some measure or otherwise, because the place where the

route leaves the Lassen Meadows, over beyond where those two Shawnee

chiefs, Dilapidated Vengeance and Biter-of-the-Clouds, were scalped

last winter, this being the favorite direction to some, but others

preferring something else in consequence of things, the Mormon trail

leaving Mosby’s at three in the morning, and passing through Jaw

bone Flat to Blucher, and then down by Jug-Handle, the road passing

to the right of it, and naturally leaving it on the right, too, and

Dawson’s on the left of the trail where it passes to the left of

said Dawson’s and onward thence to Tomahawk, thus making the route

cheaper, easier of access to all who can get at it, and compassing

all the desirable objects so considered by others, and, therefore,

conferring the most good upon the greatest number, and,

consequently, I am encouraged to hope we shall. However, I shall be

ready, and happy, to afford you still further information upon the

subject, from time to time, as you may desire it and the Post-office

Department be enabled to furnish it to me.

“‘Very truly, etc.,


“‘For James W. N—–, U. S. Senator.’

“There–now what do you think of that?”

“Well, I don’t know, sir. It–well, it appears to me–to be dubious


“Du– leave the house! I am a ruined man. Those Humboldt savages never

will forgive me for tangling their brains up with this inhuman letter.

I have lost the respect of the Methodist Church, the board of aldermen–”

“Well, I haven’t anything to say about that, because I may have missed it

a little in their cases, but I was too many for the Baldwin’s Ranch

people, General!”

“Leave the house! Leave it forever and forever, too.”

I regarded that as a sort of covert intimation that my service could be

dispensed with, and so I resigned. I never will be a private secretary

to a senator again. You can’t please that kind of people. They don’t

know anything. They can’t appreciate a party’s efforts.

A FASHION ITEM –[Written about 1867.]

At General G—-‘s reception the other night, the most fashionably

dressed lady was Mrs. G. C. She wore a pink satin dress, plain in front

but with a good deal of rake to it–to the train, I mean; it was said to

be two or three yards long. One could see it creeping along the floor

some little time after the woman was gone. Mrs. C. wore also a white

bodice, cut bias, with Pompadour sleeves, flounced with ruches; low neck,

with the inside handkerchief not visible, with white kid gloves. She had

on a pearl necklace, which glinted lonely, high up the midst of that

barren waste of neck and shoulders. Her hair was frizzled into a tangled

chaparral, forward of her ears, aft it was drawn together, and compactly

bound and plaited into a stump like a pony’s tail, and furthermore was

canted upward at a sharp angle, and ingeniously supported by a red velvet

crupper, whose forward extremity was made fast with a half-hitch around a

hairpin on the top of her head. Her whole top hamper was neat and

becoming. She had a beautiful complexion when she first came, but it

faded out by degrees in an unaccountable way. However, it is not lost

for good. I found the most of it on my shoulder afterward. (I stood

near the door when she squeezed out with the throng.) There were other

ladies present, but I only took notes of one as a specimen. I would

gladly enlarge upon the subject were I able to do it justice.


One of the best men in Washington–or elsewhere–is RILEY, correspondent

of one of the great San Francisco dailies.

Riley is full of humor, and has an unfailing vein of irony, which makes

his conversation to the last degree entertaining (as long as the remarks

are about somebody else). But notwithstanding the possession of these

qualities, which should enable a man to write a happy and an appetizing

letter, Riley’s newspaper letters often display a more than earthly

solemnity, and likewise an unimaginative devotion to petrified facts,

which surprise and distress all men who know him in his unofficial

character. He explains this curious thing by saying that his employers

sent him to Washington to write facts, not fancy, and that several times

he has come near losing his situation by inserting humorous remarks

which, not being looked for at headquarters, and consequently not

understood, were thought to be dark and bloody speeches intended to

convey signals and warnings to murderous secret societies, or something

of that kind, and so were scratched out with a shiver and a prayer and

cast into the stove. Riley says that sometimes he is so afflicted with

a yearning to write a sparkling and absorbingly readable letter that he

simply cannot resist it, and so he goes to his den and revels in the

delight of untrammeled scribbling; and then, with suffering such as only

a mother can know, he destroys the pretty children of his fancy and

reduces his letter to the required dismal accuracy. Having seen Riley do

this very thing more than once, I know whereof I speak. Often I have

laughed with him over a happy passage, and grieved to see him plow his

pen through it. He would say, “I had to write that or die; and I’ve got

to scratch it out or starve. They wouldn’t stand it, you know.”

I think Riley is about the most entertaining company I ever saw. We

lodged together in many places in Washington during the winter of ’67-8,

moving comfortably from place to place, and attracting attention by

paying our board–a course which cannot fail to make a person conspicuous

in Washington. Riley would tell all about his trip to California in the

early days, by way of the Isthmus and the San Juan River; and about his

baking bread in San Francisco to gain a living, and setting up tenpins,

and practising law, and opening oysters, and delivering lectures, and

teaching French, and tending bar, and reporting for the newspapers, and

keeping dancing-schools, and interpreting Chinese in the courts–which

latter was lucrative, and Riley was doing handsomely and laying up a

little money when people began to find fault because his translations

were too “free,” a thing for which Riley considered he ought not to be

held responsible, since he did not know a word of the Chinese tongue, and

only adopted interpreting as a means of gaining an honest livelihood.

Through the machinations of enemies he was removed from the position of

official interpreter, and a man put in his place who was familiar with

the Chinese language, but did not know any English. And Riley used to

tell about publishing a newspaper up in what is Alaska now, but was only

an iceberg then, with a population composed of bears, walruses, Indians,

and other animals; and how the iceberg got adrift at last, and left all

his paying subscribers behind, and as soon as the commonwealth floated

out of the jurisdiction of Russia the people rose and threw off their

allegiance and ran up the English flag, calculating to hook on and become

an English colony as they drifted along down the British Possessions; but

a land breeze and a crooked current carried them by, and they ran up the

Stars and Stripes and steered for California, missed the connection again

and swore allegiance to Mexico, but it wasn’t any use; the anchors came

home every time, and away they went with the northeast trades drifting

off sideways toward the Sandwich Islands, whereupon they ran up the

Cannibal flag and had a grand human barbecue in honor of it, in which it

was noticed that the better a man liked a friend the better he enjoyed

him; and as soon as they got fairly within the tropics the weather got so

fearfully hot that the iceberg began to melt, and it got so sloppy under

foot that it was almost impossible for ladies to get about at all; and at

last, just as they came in sight of the islands, the melancholy remnant

of the once majestic iceberg canted first to one side and then to the

other, and then plunged under forever, carrying the national archives

along with it–and not only the archives and the populace, but some

eligible town lots which had increased in value as fast as they

diminished in size in the tropics, and which Riley could have sold at

thirty cents a pound and made himself rich if he could have kept the

province afloat ten hours longer and got her into port.

Riley is very methodical, untiringly accommodating, never forgets

anything that is to be attended to, is a good son, a stanch friend, and a

permanent reliable enemy. He will put himself to any amount of trouble

to oblige a body, and therefore always has his hands full of things to be

done for the helpless and the shiftless. And he knows how to do nearly

everything, too. He is a man whose native benevolence is a well-spring

that never goes dry. He stands always ready to help whoever needs help,

as far as he is able–and not simply with his money, for that is a cheap

and common charity, but with hand and brain, and fatigue of limb and

sacrifice of time. This sort of men is rare.

Riley has a ready wit, a quickness and aptness at selecting and applying

quotations, and a countenance that is as solemn and as blank as the back

side of a tombstone when he is delivering a particularly exasperating

joke. One night a negro woman was burned to death in a house next door

to us, and Riley said that our landlady would be oppressively emotional

at breakfast, because she generally made use of such opportunities as

offered, being of a morbidly sentimental turn, and so we should find it

best to let her talk along and say nothing back–it was the only way to

keep her tears out of the gravy. Riley said there never was a funeral in

the neighborhood but that the gravy was watery for a week.

And, sure enough, at breakfast the landlady was down in the very sloughs

of woe–entirely brokenhearted. Everything she looked at reminded her of

that poor old negro woman, and so the buckwheat cakes made her sob, the

coffee forced a groan, and when the beefsteak came on she fetched a wail

that made our hair rise. Then she got to talking about deceased, and

kept up a steady drizzle till both of us were soaked through and through.

Presently she took a fresh breath and said, with a world of sobs:

“Ah, to think of it, only to think of it!–the poor old faithful

creature. For she was so faithful. Would you believe it, she had been a

servant in that selfsame house and that selfsame family for twenty seven

years come Christmas, and never a cross word and never a lick! And, oh,

to think she should meet such a death at last!–a-sitting over the red

hot stove at three o’clock in the morning and went to sleep and fell on

it and was actually roasted! Not just frizzled up a bit, but literally

roasted to a crisp! Poor faithful creature, how she was cooked! I am

but a poor woman, but even if I have to scrimp to do it, I will put up a

tombstone over that lone sufferer’s grave–and Mr. Riley if you would

have the goodness to think up a little epitaph to put on it which would

sort of describe the awful way in which she met her–”

“Put it, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,'” said Riley, and never



John Wagner, the oldest man in Buffalo–one hundred and four years old

–recently walked a mile and a half in two weeks.

He is as cheerful and bright as any of these other old men that charge

around so persistently and tiresomely in the newspapers, and in every way

as remarkable.

Last November he walked five blocks in a rainstorm, without any shelter

but an umbrella, and cast his vote for Grant, remarking that he had voted

for forty-seven presidents–which was a lie.

His “second crop” of rich brown hair arrived from New York yesterday, and

he has a new set of teeth coming from Philadelphia.

He is to be married next week to a girl one hundred and two years old,

who still takes in washing.

They have been engaged eighty years, but their parents persistently

refused their consent until three days ago.

John Wagner is two years older than the Rhode Island veteran, and yet has

never tasted a drop of liquor in his life–unless-unless you count


SCIENCE V.S. LUCK –[Written about 1867.]

At that time, in Kentucky (said the Hon. Mr. K—–); the law was very

strict against what is termed “games of chance.” About a dozen of the

boys were detected playing “seven up” or “old sledge” for money, and the

grand jury found a true bill against them. Jim Sturgis was retained to

defend them when the case came up, of course. The more he studied over

the matter, and looked into the evidence, the plainer it was that he must

lose a case at last–there was no getting around that painful fact.

Those boys had certainly been betting money on a game of chance. Even

public sympathy was roused in behalf of Sturgis. People said it was a

pity to see him mar his successful career with a big prominent case like

this, which must go against him.

But after several restless nights an inspired idea flashed upon Sturgis,

and he sprang out of bed delighted. He thought he saw his way through.

The next day he whispered around a little among his clients and a few

friends, and then when the case came up in court he acknowledged the

seven-up and the betting, and, as his sole defense, had the astounding

effrontery to put in the plea that old sledge was not a game of chance!

There was the broadest sort of a smile all over the faces of that

sophisticated audience. The judge smiled with the rest. But Sturgis

maintained a countenance whose earnestness was even severe. The opposite

counsel tried to ridicule him out of his position, and did not succeed.

The judge jested in a ponderous judicial way about the thing, but did not

move him. The matter was becoming grave. The judge lost a little of his

patience, and said the joke had gone far enough. Jim Sturgis said he

knew of no joke in the matter–his clients could not be punished for

indulging in what some people chose to consider a game of chance until it

was proven that it was a game of chance. Judge and counsel said that

would be an easy matter, and forthwith called Deacons Job, Peters, Burke,

and Johnson, and Dominies Wirt and Miggles, to testify; and they

unanimously and with strong feeling put down the legal quibble of Sturgis

by pronouncing that old sledge was a game of chance.

“What do you call it now?” said the judge.

“I call it a game of science!” retorted Sturgis; “and I’ll prove it,


They saw his little game.

He brought in a cloud of witnesses, and produced an overwhelming mass of

testimony, to show that old sledge was not a game of chance but a game of


Instead of being the simplest case in the world, it had somehow turned

out to be an excessively knotty one. The judge scratched his head over

it awhile, and said there was no way of coming to a determination,

because just as many men could be brought into court who would testify on

one side as could be found to testify on the other. But he said he was

willing to do the fair thing by all parties, and would act upon any

suggestion Mr. Sturgis would make for the solution of the difficulty.

Mr. Sturgis was on his feet in a second.

“Impanel a jury of six of each, Luck versus Science. Give them candles

and a couple of decks of cards. Send them into the jury-room, and just

abide by the result!”

There was no disputing the fairness of the proposition. The four deacons

and the two dominies were sworn in as the “chance” jurymen, and six

inveterate old seven-up professors were chosen to represent the “science”

side of the issue. They retired to the jury-room.

In about two hours Deacon Peters sent into court to borrow three dollars

from a friend. [Sensation.] In about two hours more Dominie Miggles

sent into court to borrow a “stake” from a friend. [Sensation.] During

the next three or four hours the other dominie and the other deacons sent

into court for small loans. And still the packed audience waited, for it

was a prodigious occasion in Bull’s Corners, and one in which every

father of a family was necessarily interested.

The rest of the story can be told briefly. About daylight the jury came

in, and Deacon Job, the foreman, read the following:


We, the jury in the case of the Commonwealth of Kentucky vs. John

Wheeler et al., have carefully considered the points of the case,

and tested the merits of the several theories advanced, and do

hereby unanimously decide that the game commonly known as old sledge

or seven-up is eminently a game of science and not of chance. In

demonstration whereof it is hereby and herein stated, iterated,

reiterated, set forth, and made manifest that, during the entire

night, the “chance” men never won a game or turned a jack, although

both feats were common and frequent to the opposition; and

furthermore, in support of this our verdict, we call attention to

the significant fact that the “chance” men are all busted, and the

“science” men have got the money. It is the deliberate opinion of

this jury, that the “chance” theory concerning seven-up is a

pernicious doctrine, and calculated to inflict untold suffering and

pecuniary loss upon any community that takes stock in it.

“That is the way that seven-up came to be set apart and particularized in

the statute-books of Kentucky as being a game not of chance but of

science, and therefore not punishable under the law,” said Mr. K—–.

“That verdict is of record, and holds good to this day.”

THE LATE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN –[Written about 1870.]

[“Never put off till to-morrow what you can do day after to-morrow just

as well.”–B. F.]

This party was one of those persons whom they call Philosophers. He was

twins, being born simultaneously in two different houses in the city of

Boston. These houses remain unto this day, and have signs upon them

worded in accordance with the facts. The signs are considered well

enough to have, though not necessary, because the inhabitants point out

the two birthplaces to the stranger anyhow, and sometimes as often as

several times in the same day. The subject of this memoir was of a

vicious disposition, and early prostituted his talents to the invention

of maxims and aphorisms calculated to inflict suffering upon the rising

generation of all subsequent ages. His simplest acts, also, were

contrived with a view to their being held up for the emulation of boys

forever–boys who might otherwise have been happy. It was in this spirit

that he became the son of a soap-boiler, and probably for no other reason

than that the efforts of all future boys who tried to be anything might

be looked upon with suspicion unless they were the sons of soap-boilers.

With a malevolence which is without parallel in history, he would work

all day, and then sit up nights, and let on to be studying algebra by the

light of a smoldering fire, so that all other boys might have to do that

also, or else have Benjamin Franklin thrown up to them. Not satisfied

with these proceedings, he had a fashion of living wholly on bread and

water, and studying astronomy at meal-time–a thing which has brought

affliction to millions of boys since, whose fathers had read Franklin’s

pernicious biography.

His maxims were full of animosity toward boys. Nowadays a boy cannot

follow out a single natural instinct without tumbling over some of those

everlasting aphorisms and hearing from Franklin, on the spot. If he buys

two cents’ worth of peanuts, his father says, “Remember what Franklin has

said, my son–‘A grout a day’s a penny a year”‘; and the comfort is all

gone out of those peanuts. If he wants to spin his top when he has done

work, his father quotes, “Procrastination is the thief of time.” If he

does a virtuous action, he never gets anything for it, because “Virtue is

its own reward.” And that boy is hounded to death and robbed of his

natural rest, because Franklin, said once, in one of his inspired flights

of malignity:

Early to bed and early to rise

Makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise.

As if it were any object to a boy to be healthy and wealthy and wise on

such terms. The sorrow that that maxim has cost me, through my parents,

experimenting on me with it, tongue cannot tell. The legitimate result is

my present state of general debility, indigence, and mental aberration.

My parents used to have me up before nine o’clock in the morning

sometimes when I was a boy. If they had let me take my natural rest

where would I have been now? Keeping store, no doubt, and respected by


And what an adroit old adventurer the subject of this memoir was!

In order to get a chance to fly his kite on Sunday he used to hang a key

on the string and let on to be fishing for lightning. And a guileless

public would go home chirping about the “wisdom” and the “genius” of the

hoary Sabbath-breaker. If anybody caught him playing “mumblepeg” by

himself, after the age of sixty, he would immediately appear to be

ciphering out how the grass grew–as if it was any of his business.

My grandfather knew him well, and he says Franklin was always

fixed–always ready. If a body, during his old age, happened on him

unexpectedly when he was catching flies, or making mud-pies, or sliding

on a cellar door, he would immediately look wise, and rip out a maxim,

and walk off with his nose in the air and his cap turned wrong side

before, trying to appear absent-minded and eccentric. He was a hard lot.

He invented a stove that would smoke your head off in four hours by the

clock. One can see the almost devilish satisfaction he took in it by his

giving it his name.

He was always proud of telling how he entered Philadelphia for the first

time, with nothing in the world but two shillings in his pocket and four

rolls of bread under his arm. But really, when you come to examine it

critically, it was nothing. Anybody could have done it.

To the subject of this memoir belongs the honor of recommending the army

to go back to bows and arrows in place of bayonets and muskets.

He observed, with his customary force, that the bayonet was very well

under some circumstances, but that he doubted whether it could be used

with accuracy at a long range.

Benjamin Franklin did a great many notable things for his country,

and made her young name to be honored in many lands as the mother of such

a son. It is not the idea of this memoir to ignore that or cover it up.

No; the simple idea of it is to snub those pretentious maxims of his,

which he worked up with a great show of originality out of truisms that

had become wearisome platitudes as early as the dispersion from Babel;

and also to snub his stove, and his military inspirations, his unseemly

endeavor to make himself conspicuous when he entered Philadelphia, and

his flying his kite and fooling away his time in all sorts of such ways

when he ought to have been foraging for soap-fat, or constructing

candles. I merely desired to do away with somewhat of the prevalent

calamitous idea among heads of families that Franklin acquired his great

genius by working for nothing, studying by moonlight, and getting up in

the night instead of waiting till morning like a Christian; and that this

program, rigidly inflicted, will make a Franklin of every father’s fool.

It is time these gentlemen were finding out that these execrable

eccentricities of instinct and conduct are only the evidences of genius,

not the creators of it. I wish I had been the father of my parents long

enough to make them comprehend this truth, and thus prepare them to let

their son have an easier time of it. When I was a child I had to boil

soap, notwithstanding my father was wealthy, and I had to get up early

and study geometry at breakfast, and peddle my own poetry, and do

everything just as Franklin did, in the solemn hope that I would be a

Franklin some day. And here I am.

MR. BLOKE’S ITEM –[Written about 1865.]

Our esteemed friend, Mr. John William Bloke, of Virginia City, walked

into the office where we are sub-editor at a late hour last night, with

an expression of profound and heartfelt suffering upon his countenance,

and, sighing heavily, laid the following item reverently upon the desk,

and walked slowly out again. He paused a moment at the door, and seemed

struggling to command his feelings sufficiently to enable him to speak,

and then, nodding his head toward his manuscript, ejaculated in a broken

voice, “Friend of mine–oh! how sad!” and burst into tears. We were so

moved at his distress that we did not think to call him back and endeavor

to comfort him until he was gone, and it was too late. The paper had

already gone to press, but knowing that our friend would consider the

publication of this item important, and cherishing the hope that to print

it would afford a melancholy satisfaction to his sorrowing heart, we

stopped, the press at once and inserted it in our columns:

DISTRESSING ACCIDENT.–Last evening, about six o’clock, as Mr.

William Schuyler, an old and respectable citizen of South Park, was

leaving his residence to go down-town, as has been his usual custom

for many years with the exception only of a short interval in the

spring of 1850, during which he was confined to his bed by injuries

received in attempting to stop a runaway horse by thoughtlessly

placing himself directly in its wake and throwing up his hands and

shouting, which if he had done so even a single moment sooner, must

inevitably have frightened the animal still more instead of checking

its speed, although disastrous enough to himself as it was, and

rendered more melancholy and distressing by reason of the presence

of his wife’s mother, who was there and saw the sad occurrence

notwithstanding it is at least likely, though not necessarily so,

that she should be reconnoitering in another direction when

incidents occur, not being vivacious and on the lookout, as a

general thing, but even the reverse, as her own mother is said to

have stated, who is no more, but died in the full hope of a glorious

resurrection, upwards of three years ago; aged eighty-six, being a

Christian woman and without guile, as it were, or property, in

consequence of the fire of 1849, which destroyed every single thing

she had in the world. But such is life. Let us all take warning by

this solemn occurrence, and let us endeavor so to conduct ourselves

that when we come to die we can do it. Let us place our hands upon

our heart, and say with earnestness and sincerity that from this day

forth we will beware of the intoxicating bowl.–‘First Edition of

the Californian.’

The head editor has been in here raising the mischief, and tearing his

hair and kicking the furniture about, and abusing me like a pickpocket.

He says that every time he leaves me in charge of the paper for half an

hour I get imposed upon by the first infant or the first idiot that comes

along. And he says that that distressing item of Mr. Bloke’s is nothing

but a lot of distressing bash, and has no point to it, and no sense in

it, and no information in it, and that there was no sort of necessity for

stopping the press to publish it.

Now all this comes of being good-hearted. If I had been as

unaccommodating and unsympathetic as some people, I would have told

Mr. Bloke that I wouldn’t receive his communication at such a late hour;

but no, his snuffling distress touched my heart, and I jumped at the

chance of doing something to modify his misery. I never read his item to

see whether there was anything wrong about it, but hastily wrote the few

lines which preceded it, and sent it to the printers. And what has my

kindness done for me? It has done nothing but bring down upon me a storm

of abuse and ornamental blasphemy.

Now I will read that item myself, and see if there is any foundation for

all this fuss. And if there is, the author of it shall hear from me.

I have read it, and I am bound to admit that it seems a little mixed at a

first glance. However, I will peruse it once more.

I have read it again, and it does really seem a good deal more mixed than


I have read it over five times, but if I can get at the meaning of it I

wish I may get my just deserts. It won’t bear analysis. There are

things about it which I cannot understand at all. It don’t say whatever

became of William Schuyler. It just says enough about him to get one

interested in his career, and then drops him. Who is William Schuyler,

anyhow, and what part of South Park did he live in, and if he started

down-town at six o’clock, did he ever get there, and if he did, did

anything happen to him? Is he the individual that met with the

“distressing accident”? Considering the elaborate circumstantiality of

detail observable in the item, it seems to me that it ought to contain

more information than it does. On the contrary, it is obscure and not

only obscure, but utterly incomprehensible. Was the breaking of Mr.

Schuyler’s leg, fifteen years ago, the “distressing accident” that

plunged Mr. Bloke into unspeakable grief, and caused him to come up here

at dead of night and stop our press to acquaint the world with the

circumstance? Or did the “distressing accident ” consist in the

destruction of Schuyler’s mother-in-law’s property in early times?

Or did it consist in the death of that person herself three years ago

(albeit it does not appear that she died by accident)? In a word, what

did that “distressing accident” consist in? What did that driveling ass

of a Schuyler stand in the wake of a runaway horse for, with his shouting

and gesticulating, if he wanted to stop him? And how the mischief could

he get run over by a horse that had already passed beyond him? And what

are we to take “warning” by? And how is this extraordinary chapter of

incomprehensibilities going to be a “lesson” to us? And, above all, what

has the intoxicating “bowl” got to do with it, anyhow? It is not stated

that Schuyler drank, or that his wife drank, or that his mother-in-law

drank, or that the horse drank wherefore, then, the reference to the

intoxicating bowl? It does seem to me that if Mr. Bloke had let the

intoxicating bowl alone himself, he never would have got into so much

trouble about this exasperating imaginary accident. I have read this.

absurd item over and over again, with all its insinuating plausibility,

until my head swims; but I can make neither head nor tail of it. There

certainly seems to have been an accident of some kind or other, but it is

impossible to determine what the nature of it was, or who was the

sufferer by it. I do not like to do it, but I feel compelled to request

that the next time anything happens to one of Mr. Bloke’s friends, he

will append such explanatory notes to his account of it as will enable me

to find out what sort of an accident it was and whom it happened to. I

had rather all his friends should die than that I should be driven to the

verge of lunacy again in trying to cipher out the meaning of another such

production as the above.




It was night. Stillness reigned in the grand old feudal castle of

Klugenstein. The year 1222 was drawing to a close. Far away up in the

tallest of the castle’s towers a single light glimmered. A secret

council was being held there. The stern old lord of Klugenstein sat in

a chair of state meditating. Presently he, said, with a tender


“My daughter!”

A young man of noble presence, clad from head to heel in knightly mail,


“Speak, father!”

“My daughter, the time is come for the revealing of the mystery that hath

puzzled all your young life. Know, then, that it had its birth in the

matters which I shall now unfold. My brother Ulrich is the great Duke of

Brandenburgh. Our father, on his deathbed, decreed that if no son were

born to Ulrich, the succession should pass to my house, provided a son

were born to me. And further, in case no son, were born to either, but

only daughters, then the succession should pass to Ulrich’s daughter,

if she proved stainless; if she did not, my daughter should succeed,

if she retained a blameless name. And so I, and my old wife here, prayed

fervently for the good boon of a son, but the prayer was vain. You were

born to us. I was in despair. I saw the mighty prize slipping from my

grasp, the splendid dream vanishing away. And I had been so hopeful!

Five years had Ulrich lived in wedlock, and yet his wife had borne no

heir of either sex.

“‘But hold,’ I said, ‘all is not lost.’ A saving scheme had shot athwart

my brain. You were born at midnight. Only the leech, the nurse, and six

waiting-women knew your sex. I hanged them every one before an hour had

sped. Next morning all the barony went mad with rejoicing over the

proclamation that a son was born to Klugenstein, an heir to mighty

Brandenburgh! And well the secret has been kept. Your mother’s own

sister nursed your infancy, and from that time forward we feared nothing.

“When you were ten years old, a daughter was born to Ulrich. We grieved,

but hoped for good results from measles, or physicians, or other natural

enemies of infancy, but were always disappointed. She lived, she throve-

-Heaven’s malison upon her! But it is nothing. We are safe. For,

Ha-ha! have we not a son? And is not our son the future Duke? Our well-

beloved Conrad, is it not so?–for, woman of eight-and-twenty years–as

you are, my child, none other name than that hath ever fallen to you!

“Now it hath come to pass that age hath laid its hand upon my brother,

and he waxes feeble. The cares of state do tax him sore. Therefore he

wills that you shall come to him and be already Duke–in act, though not

yet in name. Your servitors are ready–you journey forth to-night.

“Now listen well. Remember every word I say. There is a law as old as

Germany that if any woman sit for a single instant in the great ducal

chair before she hath been absolutely crowned in presence of the people,

SHE SHALL DIE! So heed my ,words. Pretend humility. Pronounce your

judgments from the Premier’s chair, which stands at the foot of the

throne. Do this until you are crowned and safe. It is not likely that

your sex will ever be discovered; but still it is the part of wisdom to

make all things as safe as may be in this treacherous earthly life.”

“Oh; my father, is it for this my life hath been a lie! Was it that I

might cheat my unoffending cousin of her rights? Spare me, father,

spare your child!”

“What, huzzy! Is this my reward for the august fortune my brain has

wrought for thee? By the bones of my father, this puling sentiment of

thine but ill accords with my humor.

Betake thee to the Duke, instantly! And beware how thou meddlest with my


Let this suffice, of the conversation. It is enough for us to know that

the prayers, the entreaties and the tears of the gentle-natured girl

availed nothing. They nor anything could move the stout old lord of

Klugenstein. And so, at last, with a heavy heart, the daughter saw the

castle gates close behind her, and found herself riding away in the

darkness surrounded by a knightly array of armed, vassals and a brave

following of servants.

The old baron sat silent for many minutes after his daughter’s departure,

and then he turned to his sad wife and said:

“Dame, our matters seem speeding fairly. It is full three months since I

sent the shrewd and handsome Count Detzin on his devilish mission to my

brother’s daughter Constance. If he fail, we are not wholly safe; but if

he do succeed, no power can bar our girl from being Duchess e’en though

ill-fortune should decree she never should be Duke!”

“My heart is full of bodings, yet all may still be well.”

“Tush, woman! Leave the owls to croak. To bed with ye, and dream of

Brandenburgh and grandeur!”



Six days after the occurrences related in the above chapter, the

brilliant capital of the Duchy of Brandenburgh was resplendent with

military pageantry, and noisy with the rejoicings of loyal multitudes;

for Conrad, the young heir to the crown, was come. The old Duke’s, heart

was full of happiness, for Conrad’s handsome person and graceful bearing

had won his love at once. The great halls of tie palace were thronged

with nobles, who welcomed Conrad bravely; and so bright and happy did all

things seem, that he felt his fears and sorrows passing away and giving

place to a comforting contentment.

But in a remote apartment of the palace a scene of a different nature

was, transpiring. By a window stood the Duke’s only child, the Lady

Constance. Her eyes were red and swollen, and full of tears. She was

alone. Presently she fell to weeping anew, and said aloud:

“The villain Detzin is gone–has fled the dukedom! I could not believe

it at first, but alas! it is too true. And I loved him so. I dared to

love him though I knew the Duke my father would never let me wed him.

I loved him–but now I hate him! With all, my soul I hate him! Oh, what

is to become of me! I am lost, lost, lost!. I shall go mad!



Few months drifted by. All men published the praises of the young

Conrad’s government and extolled the wisdom of his judgments, the

mercifulness of his sentences, and the modesty with which he bore himself

in his great office. The old Duke soon gave everything into his hands,

and sat apart and listened with proud satisfaction while his heir

delivered the decrees of the crown from the seat of the premier.

It seemed plain that one so loved and praised and honored of all men

as Conrad was, could not be otherwise than happy. But strange enough,

he was not. For he saw with dismay that the Princess Constance had begun

to love him! The love of, the rest of the world was happy fortune for

him, but this was freighted with danger! And he saw, moreover, that the

delighted Duke had discovered his daughter’s passion likewise, and was

already dreaming of a marriage. Every day somewhat of the deep sadness

that had been in the princess’ face faded away; every day hope and

animation beamed brighter from her eye; and by and by even vagrant smiles

visited the face that had been so troubled.

Conrad was appalled. He bitterly cursed himself for having yielded to

the instinct that had made him seek the companionship of one of his own

sex when he was new and a stranger in the palace–when he was sorrowful

and yearned for a sympathy such as only women can give or feel. He now

began to avoid, his cousin. But this only made matters worse, for,

naturally enough, the more he avoided her, the more she cast herself in

his way. He marveled at this at first; and next it startled him. The

girl haunted him; she hunted him; she happened upon him at all times and

in all places, in the night as well as in the day. She seemed singularly

anxious. There was surely a mystery somewhere.

This could not go on forever. All the world was talking about it. The

Duke was beginning to look perplexed. Poor Conrad was becoming a very

ghost through dread and dire distress. One day as he was emerging from a

private ante-room attached to the picture gallery, Constance confronted

him, and seizing both his hands, in hers, exclaimed:

“Oh, why, do you avoid me? What have I done–what have I said, to lose

your kind opinion of me–for, surely I had it once? Conrad, do not

despise me, but pity a tortured heart? I cannot,,\cannot hold the words

unspoken longer, lest they kill me–I LOVE you, CONRAD! There, despise

me if you must, but they would be uttered!”

Conrad was speechless. Constance hesitated a moment, and then,

misinterpreting his silence, a wild gladness flamed in her eyes, and she

flung her arms about his neck and said:

“You relent! you relent! You can love me–you will love me! Oh, say you

will, my own, my worshipped Conrad!'”

“Conrad groaned aloud. A sickly pallor overspread his countenance, and

he trembled like an aspen. Presently, in desperation, he thrust the poor

girl from him, and cried:

You know not what you ask! It is forever and ever impossible! “And then

he fled like a criminal and left the princess stupefied with amazement.

A minute afterward she was crying and sobbing there, and Conrad was

crying and sobbing in his chamber. Both were in despair. Both save ruin

staring them in the face.

By and by Constance rose slowly to her feet and moved away, saying:

“To think that he was despising my love at the very moment that I thought

it was melting his cruel heart! I hate him! He spurned me–did this

man–he spurned me from him like a dog!”



Time passed on. A settled sadness rested once more upon the countenance

of the good Duke’s daughter. She and Conrad were seen together no more

now. The Duke grieved at this. But as the weeks wore away, Conrad’s

color came back to his cheeks and his old-time vivacity to his eye, and

he administered the government with a clear and steadily ripening wisdom.

Presently a strange whisper began to be heard about the palace. It grew

louder; it spread farther. The gossips of the city got hold-of it. It

swept the dukedom. And this is what the whisper said: .

“The Lady Constance hath given birth to a child!”

When the lord of Klugenstein heard it, he swung his plumed helmet thrice

around his head and shouted:

“Long live. Duke Conrad!–for lo, his crown is sure, from this day

forward! Detzin has done his errand well, and the good scoundrel shall

be rewarded!”

And he spread, the tidings far and wide, and for eight-and-forty hours no

soul in all the barony but did dance and sing, carouse and illuminate, to

celebrate the great event, and all at proud and happy old Klugenstein’s




The trial was at hand. All the great lords and barons of Brandenburgh

were assembled in the Hall of Justice in the ducal palace. No space was

left unoccupied where there was room for a spectator to stand or sit.

Conrad, clad in purple and ermine, sat in the premier’s chair, and on

either side sat the great judges of the realm. The old Duke had sternly

commanded that the trial of his daughter should proceed, without favor,

and then had taken to his bed broken-hearted. His days were numbered.

Poor Conrad had begged, as for his very life, that he might be spared the

misery of sitting in judgment upon his cousin’s crime, but it did not


The saddest heart in all that great assemblage was in Conrad’s breast.

The gladdest was in his father’s. For, unknown to his daughter “Conrad,”

the old Baron Klugenstein was come, and was among the crowd of nobles,

triumphant in the swelling fortunes of his house.

After the heralds had made due proclamation and the other preliminaries

had followed, the venerable Lord Chief justice said:

“Prisoner, stand forth!”

The unhappy princess rose and stood unveiled before the vast multitude.

The Lord Chief Justice continued:

“Most noble lady, before the great judges of this realm it hath been

charged and proven that out of holy wedlock your Grace hath given birth

unto a child,; and by our ancient law the penalty is death, excepting in

one sole contingency, whereof his Grace the acting Duke, our good Lord

Conrad, will advertise you in his solemn sentence now; wherefore, give


Conrad stretched forth the reluctant sceptre, and in the self-same moment

the womanly heart beneath his robe yearned pityingly toward the doomed

prisoner, and the tears came into his eyes. He opened his lips to speak,

but the Lord Chief Justice said quickly:

“Not there, your Grace, not there! It is not lawful to pronounce

judgment upon any of the ducal line SAVE FROM THE DUCAL THRONE!”

A shudder went to the heart of poor Conrad, and a tremor shook the iron

frame of his old father likewise. CONRAD HAD NOT BEEN CROWNED–dared he

profane the throne? He hesitated and turned pale with fear. But it must

be done. Wondering eyes were already upon him. They would be suspicious

eyes if he hesitated longer. He ascended the throne. Presently he

stretched forth the sceptre again, and said:

Prisoner, in the name of our sovereign lord, Ulrich, Duke of

Brandenburgh, I proceed to the solemn duty that hath devolved upon me.

Give heed to my words. By the ancient law of the land, except you

produce the partner of your guilt and deliver him up to the executioner,

you must surely die. Embrace this opportunity–save yourself while yet

you may. Name the father of your child!”

A solemn hush fell upon the great court–a silence so profound that men

could hear their own hearts beat. Then the princess slowly turned, with

eyes gleaming with hate, and pointing her finger straight at Conrad,


“Thou art the man!”

An appalling conviction of his helpless, hopeless peril struck a chill to

Conrad’s heart like the chill of death itself. What power on earth could

save him! To disprove the charge, he must reveal that he was a woman;

and for an uncrowned woman to sit in the ducal chair was death! At one

and the same moment, he and his grim old father swooned and fell to, the


[The remainder of this thrilling and eventful story will NOT be found in

this or any other publication, either now or at any future time.]

The truth is, I have got my hero (or heroine) into such a particularly

close place, that I do not see how I am ever going to get him (or her)

out of it again–and therefore I will wash my hands of the whole

business, and leave that person to get out the best way that offers–or

else stay there. I thought it was going to be easy enough to straighten

out that little difficulty, but it looks different now.




Whereas, The Constitution guarantees equal rights to all, backed by the

Declaration of Independence; and

Whereas, Under our laws, the right of property in real estate is

perpetual; and

Whereas, Under our laws, the right of property in the literary result of

a citizen’s intellectual labor is restricted to forty-two years; and

Whereas, Forty-two years seems an exceedingly just and righteous term,

and a sufficiently long one for the retention of property;

Therefore, Your petitioner, having the good of his country solely at

heart, humbly prays that “equal rights” and fair and equal treatment may

be meted out to all citizens, by the restriction of rights in all

property, real estate included, to the beneficent term of forty-two

years. Then shall all men bless your honorable body and be happy. And

for this will your petitioner ever pray.



The charming absurdity of restricting property-rights in books to

forty-two years sticks prominently out in the fact that hardly any man’s

books ever live forty-two years, or even the half of it; and so, for the

sake of getting a shabby advantage of the heirs of about one Scott or

Burns or Milton in a hundred years, the lawmakers of the “Great” Republic

are content to leave that poor little pilfering edict upon the

statute-books. It is like an emperor lying in wait to rob a Phenix’s

nest, and waiting the necessary century to get the chance.



MR. CHAIRMAN AND LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: I thank you for the compliment

which has just been tendered me, and to show my appreciation of it I will

not afflict you with many words. It is pleasant to celebrate in this

peaceful way, upon this old mother soil, the anniversary of an experiment

which was born of war with this same land so long ago, and wrought out to

a successful issue by the devotion of our ancestors. It has taken nearly

a hundred years to bring the English and Americans into kindly and

mutually appreciative relations, but I believe it has been accomplished

at last. It was a great step when the two last misunderstandings were

settled by arbitration instead of cannon. It is another great step when

England adopts our sewing-machines without claiming the invention–as

usual. It was another when they imported one of our sleeping-cars the

other day. And it warmed my heart more than I can tell, yesterday, when

I witnessed the spectacle of an Englishman ordering an American sherry

cobbler of his own free will and accord–and not only that but with a

great brain and a level head reminding the barkeeper not to forget the

strawberries. With a common origin, a common language, a common

literature, a common religion and–common drinks, what is longer needful

to the cementing of the two nations together in a permanent bond of


This is an age of progress, and ours is a progressive land. A great and

glorious land, too–a land which has developed a Washington, a Franklin,

a William M. Tweed, a Longfellow, a Motley, a Jay Gould, a Samuel C.

Pomeroy, a recent Congress which has never had its equal (in some

respects), and a United States Army which conquered sixty Indians in

eight months by tiring them out–which is much better than uncivilized

slaughter, God knows. We have a criminal jury system which is superior

to any in the world; and its efficiency is only marred by the difficulty

of finding twelve men every day who don’t know anything and can’t read.

And I may observe that we have an insanity plea that would have saved

Cain. I think I can say,–and say with pride, that we have some

legislatures that bring higher prices than any in the world.

I refer with effusion to our railway system, which consents to let us

live, though it might do the opposite, being our owners. It only

destroyed three thousand and seventy lives last year by collisions, and

twenty-seven thousand two hundred and sixty by running over heedless and

unnecessary people at crossings. The companies seriously regretted the

killing of these thirty thousand people, and went so far as to pay for

some of them–voluntarily, of course, for the meanest of us would not

claim that we possess a court treacherous enough to enforce a law against

a railway company. But, thank Heaven, the railway companies are

generally disposed to do the right and kindly thing without compulsion.

I know of an instance which greatly touched me at the time. After an

accident the company sent home the remains of a dear distant old relative

of mine in a basket, with the remark, “Please state what figure you hold

him at–and return the basket.” Now there couldn’t be anything

friendlier than that.

But I must not stand here and brag all night. However, you won’t mind a

body bragging a little about his country on the fourth of July. It is a

fair and legitimate time to fly the eagle. I will say only one more word

of brag–and a hopeful one. It is this. We have a form of government

which gives each man a fair chance and no favor. With us no individual

is born with a right to look down upon his neighbor and hold him in

contempt. Let such of us as are not dukes find our consolation in that.

And we may find hope for the future in the fact that as unhappy as is the

condition of our political morality to-day, England has risen up out of

a far fouler since the days when Charles I. ennobled courtesans and all

political place was a matter of bargain and sale. There is hope for us


[At least the above is the speech which I was going to make, but our

minister, General Schenck, presided, and after the blessing, got up

and made a great long inconceivably dull harangue, and wound up by

saying that inasmuch as speech-making did not seem to exhilarate the

guests much, all further oratory would be dispensed with during the

evening, and we could just sit and talk privately to our elbow-

neighbors and have a good sociable time. It is known that in

consequence of that remark forty-four perfected speeches died in the

womb. The depression, the gloom, the solemnity that reigned over

the banquet from that time forth will be a lasting memory with many

that were there. By that one thoughtless remark General Schenck

lost forty-four of the best friends he had in England. More than

one said that night, “And this is the sort of person that is sent to

represent us in a great sister empire!”]


I had heard so much about the celebrated fortune-teller Madame—–, that

I went to see her yesterday. She has a dark complexion naturally, and

this effect is heightened by artificial aids which cost her nothing.

She wears curls–very black ones, and I had an impression that she gave

their native attractiveness a lift with rancid butter. She wears a

reddish check handkerchief, cast loosely around her neck, and it was

plain that her other one is slow getting back from the wash. I presume

she takes snuff. At any rate, something resembling it had lodged among

the hairs sprouting from her upper lip. I know she likes garlic–I knew

that as soon as she sighed. She looked at me searchingly for nearly a

minute, with her black eyes, and then said:

“It is enough. Come!”

She started down a very dark and dismal corridor–I stepping close after

her. Presently she stopped, and said that, as the way was so crooked and

dark, perhaps she had better get a light. But it seemed ungallant to

allow a woman to put herself to so much trouble for me, and so I said:

“It is not worth while, madam. If you will heave another sigh, I think I

can follow it.”

So we got along all right. Arrived at her official and mysterious den,

she asked me to tell her the date of my birth, the exact hour of that

occurrence, and the color of my grandmother’s hair. I answered as

accurately as I could. Then she said:

“Young man, summon your fortitude–do not tremble. I am about to reveal

the past.”

“Information concerning the future would be, in a general way, more–”

“Silence! You have had much trouble, some joy, some good fortune, some

bad. Your great grandfather was hanged.”

“That is a l–”

“Silence! Hanged sir. But it was not his fault. He could not help it.”

“I am glad you do him justice.”

“Ah–grieve, rather, that the jury did. He was hanged. His star crosses

yours in the fourth division, fifth sphere. Consequently you will be

hanged also.”

“In view of this cheerful–”

“I must have silence. Yours was not, in the beginning, a criminal

nature, but circumstances changed it. At the age of nine you stole

sugar. At the age of fifteen you stole money. At twenty you stole

horses. At twenty-five you committed arson. At thirty, hardened in

crime, you became an editor. You are now a public lecturer. Worse

things are in store for you. You will be sent to Congress. Next, to the

penitentiary. Finally, happiness will come again–all will be well–you

will be hanged.”

I was now in tears. It seemed hard enough to go to Congress; but to be

hanged–this was too sad, too dreadful. The woman seemed surprised at my

grief. I told her the thoughts that were in my mind. Then she comforted


“Why, man,” she said, “hold up your head–you have nothing to grieve

about. Listen.

–[In this paragraph the fortune-teller details the exact history of the

Pike-Brown assassination case in New Hampshire, from the succoring and

saving of the stranger Pike by the Browns, to the subsequent hanging and

coffining of that treacherous miscreant. She adds nothing, invents

nothing, exaggerates nothing (see any New England paper for November,

1869). This Pike-Brown case is selected merely as a type, to illustrate

a custom that prevails, not in New Hampshire alone, but in every state in

the Union–I mean the sentimental custom of visiting, petting,

glorifying, and snuffling over murderers like this Pike, from the day

they enter the jail under sentence of death until they swing from the

gallows. The following extract from the Temple Bar (1866) reveals the

fact that this custom is not confined to the United States.–“on December

31, 1841, a man named John Johnes, a shoemaker, murdered his sweetheart,

Mary Hallam, the daughter of a respectable laborer, at Mansfield, in the

county of Nottingham. He was executed on March 23, 1842. He was a man

of unsteady habits, and gave way to violent fits of passion. The girl

declined his addresses, and he said if he did not have her no one else

should. After he had inflicted the first wound, which was not

immediately fatal, she begged for her life, but seeing him resolved,

asked for time to pray. He said that he would pray for both, and

completed the crime. The wounds were inflicted by a shoemaker’s knife,

and her throat was cut barbarously. After this he dropped on his knees

some time, and prayed God to have mercy on two unfortunate lovers.

He made no attempt to escape, and confessed the crime. After his

imprisonment he behaved in a most decorous manner; he won upon the good

opinion of the jail chaplain, and he was visited by the Bishop of

Lincoln. It does not appear that he expressed any contrition for the

crime, but seemed to pass away with triumphant certainty that he was

going to rejoin his victim in heaven. He was visited by some pious and

benevolent ladies of Nottingham, some of whom declared he was a child of

God, if ever there was one. One of the ladies sent him a while camellia

to wear at his execution.”]

You will live in New Hampshire. In your sharp need and distress the

Brown family will succor you–such of them as Pike the assassin left

alive. They will be benefactors to you. When you shall have grown fat

upon their bounty, and are grateful and happy, you will desire to make

some modest return for these things, and so you will go to the house some

night and brain the whole family with an ax. You will rob the dead

bodies of your benefactors, and disburse your gains in riotous living

among the rowdies and courtesans of Boston. Then you will, be arrested,

tried, condemned to be hanged, thrown into prison. Now is your happy

day. You will be converted–you will be converted just as soon as

every effort to compass pardon, commutation, or reprieve has failed–and

then!–Why, then, every morning and every afternoon, the best and purest

young ladies of the village will assemble in your cell and sing hymns.

This will show that assassination is respectable. Then you will write a

touching letter, in which you will forgive all those recent Browns. This

will excite the public admiration. No public can withstand magnanimity.

Next, they will take you to the scaffold, with great eclat, at the head

of an imposing procession composed of clergymen, officials, citizens

generally, and young ladies walking pensively two and two, and bearing

bouquets and immortelles. You will mount the scaffold, and while the

great concourse stand uncovered in your presence, you will read your

sappy little speech which the minister has written for you. And then, in

the midst of a grand and impressive silence, they will swing you into

per–Paradise, my son. There will not be a dry eye on the ground. You

will be a hero! Not a rough there but will envy you. Not a rough there

but will resolve to emulate you. And next, a great procession will

follow you to the tomb–will weep over your remains–the young ladies

will sing again the hymns made dear by sweet associations connected with

the jail, and, as a last tribute of affection, respect, and appreciation

of your many sterling qualities, they will walk two and two around your

bier, and strew wreaths of flowers on it. And lo! you are canonized.

Think of it, son-ingrate, assassin, robber of the dead, drunken brawler

among thieves and harlots in the slums of Boston one month, and the pet

of the pure and innocent daughters of the land the next! A bloody and

hateful devil–a bewept, bewailed, and sainted martyr–all in a month!

Fool!–so noble a fortune, and yet you sit here grieving!”

“No, madam,” I said, “you do me wrong, you do, indeed. I am perfectly

satisfied. I did not know before that my great-grandfather was hanged,

but it is of no consequence. He has probably ceased to bother about it

by this time–and I have not commenced yet. I confess, madam, that I do

something in the way of editing and lecturing, but the other crimes you

mention have escaped my memory. Yet I must have committed them–you

would not deceive a stranger. But let the past be as it was, and let the

future be as it may–these are nothing. I have only cared for one thing.

I have always felt that I should be hanged some day, and somehow the

thought has annoyed me considerably; but if you can only assure me that I

shall be hanged in New Hampshire–”

“Not a shadow of a doubt!”

“Bless you, my benefactress!–excuse this embrace–you have removed a

great load from my breast. To be hanged in New Hampshire is happiness

–it leaves an honored name behind a man, and introduces him at once into

the best New Hampshire society in the other world.”

I then took leave of the fortune-teller. But, seriously, is it well to

glorify a murderous villain on the scaffold, as Pike was glorified in New

Hampshire? Is it well to turn the penalty for a bloody crime into a

reward? Is it just to do it? Is, it safe?



This country, during the last thirty or forty years, has produced some of

the most remarkable cases of insanity of which there is any mention in

history. For instance, there was the Baldwin case, in Ohio, twenty-two

years ago. Baldwin, from his boyhood up, had been of a vindictive,

malignant, quarrelsome nature. He put a boy’s eye out once, and never

was heard upon any occasion to utter a regret for it. He did many such

things. But at last he did something that was serious. He called at a

house just after dark one evening, knocked, and when the occupant came to

the door, shot him dead, and then tried to escape, but was captured.

Two days before, he had wantonly insulted a helpless cripple, and the man

he afterward took swift vengeance upon with an assassin bullet had

knocked him down. Such was the Baldwin case. The trial was long and

exciting; the community was fearfully wrought up. Men said this

spiteful, bad-hearted villain had caused grief enough in his time, and

now he should satisfy the law. But they were mistaken; Baldwin was

insane when he did the deed–they had not thought of that. By the

argument of counsel it was shown that at half past ten in the morning on

the day of the murder, Baldwin became insane, and remained so for eleven

hours and a half exactly. This just covered the case comfortably, and he

was acquitted. Thus, if an unthinking and excited community had been

listened to instead of the arguments of counsel, a poor crazy creature

would have been held to a fearful responsibility for a mere freak of

madness. Baldwin went clear, and although his relatives and friends were

naturally incensed against the community for their injurious suspicions

and remarks, they said let it go for this time, and did not prosecute.

The Baldwins were very wealthy. This same Baldwin had momentary fits of

insanity twice afterward, and on both occasions killed people he had

grudges against. And on both these occasions the circumstances of the

killing were so aggravated, and the murders so seemingly heartless and

treacherous, that if Baldwin had not been insane he would have been

hanged without the shadow of a doubt. As it was, it required all his

political and family influence to get him clear in one of the cases, and

cost him not less than ten thousand dollars to get clear in the other.

One of these men he had notoriously been threatening to kill for twelve

years. The poor creature happened, by the merest piece of ill fortune,

to come along a dark alley at the very moment that Baldwin’s insanity

came upon him, and so he was shot in the back with a gun loaded with


Take the case of Lynch Hackett, of Pennsylvania. Twice, in public, he

attacked a German butcher by the name of Bemis Feldner, with a cane, and

both times Feldner whipped him with his fists. Hackett was a vain,

wealthy, violent gentleman, who held his blood and family in high esteem,

and believed that a reverent respect was due to his great riches. He

brooded over the shame of his chastisement for two weeks, and then, in a

momentary fit of insanity, armed himself to the teeth, rode into town,

waited a couple of hours until he saw Feldner coming down the street with

his wife on his arm, and then, as the couple passed the doorway in which

he had partially concealed himself, he drove a knife into Feldner’s neck,

killing him instantly. The widow caught the limp form and eased it to

the earth. Both were drenched with blood. Hackett jocosely remarked to

her that as a professional butcher’s recent wife she could appreciate the

artistic neatness of the job that left her in condition to marry again,

in case she wanted to. This remark, and another which he made to a

friend, that his position in society made the killing of an obscure

citizen simply an “eccentricity” instead of a crime, were shown to be

evidences of insanity, and so Hackett escaped punishment. The jury were

hardly inclined to accept these as proofs at first, inasmuch as the

prisoner had never been insane before the murder, and under the

tranquilizing effect of the butchering had immediately regained his right

mind; but when the defense came to show that a third cousin of Hackett’s

wife’s stepfather was insane, and not only insane, but had a nose the

very counterpart of Hackett’s, it was plain that insanity was hereditary

in the family, and Hackett had come by it by legitimate inheritance.

Of course the jury then acquitted him. But it was a merciful providence

that Mrs. H.’s people had been afflicted as shown, else Hackett would

certainly have been hanged.

However, it is not possible to recount all the marvelous cases of

insanity that have come under the public notice in the last thirty or

forty years. There was the Durgin case in New Jersey three years ago.

The servant girl, Bridget Durgin, at dead of night, invaded her

mistress’s bedroom and carved the lady literally to pieces with a knife.

Then she dragged the body to the middle of the floor, and beat and banged

it with chairs and such things. Next she opened the feather beds, and

strewed the contents around, saturated everything with kerosene, and set

fire to the general wreck. She now took up the young child of the

murdered woman in her blood smeared hands and walked off, through the

snow, with no shoes on, to a neighbor’s house a quarter of a mile off,

and told a string of wild, incoherent stories about some men coming and

setting fire to the house; and then she cried piteously, and without

seeming to think there was anything suggestive about the blood upon her

hands, her clothing, and the baby, volunteered the remark that she was

afraid those men had murdered her mistress! Afterward, by her own

confession and other testimony, it was proved that the mistress had

always been kind to the girl, consequently there was no revenge in the

murder; and it was also shown that the girl took nothing away from the

burning house, not even her own shoes, and consequently robbery was not

the motive.

Now, the reader says, “Here comes that same old plea of insanity again.”

But the reader has deceived himself this time. No such plea was offered

in her defense. The judge sentenced her, nobody persecuted the governor

with petitions for her pardon, and she was promptly hanged.

There was that youth in Pennsylvania, whose curious confession was

published some years ago. It was simply a conglomeration of incoherent

drivel from beginning to end; and so was his lengthy speech on the

scaffold afterward. For a whole year he was haunted with a desire to

disfigure a certain young woman, so that no one would marry her. He did

not love her himself, and did not want to marry her, but he did not want

anybody else to do it. He would not go anywhere with her, and yet was

opposed to anybody else’s escorting her. Upon one occasion he declined

to go to a wedding with her, and when she got other company, lay in wait

for the couple by the road, intending to make them go back or kill the

escort. After spending sleepless nights over his ruling desire for a

full year, he at last attempted its execution–that is, attempted to

disfigure the young woman. It was a success. It was permanent. In

trying to shoot her cheek (as she sat at the supper-table with her

parents and brothers and sisters) in such a manner as to mar its

comeliness, one of his bullets wandered a little out of the course, and

she dropped dead. To the very last moment of his life he bewailed the

ill luck that made her move her face just at the critical moment. And so

he died, apparently about half persuaded that somehow it was chiefly her

own fault that she got killed. This idiot was hanged. The plea, of

insanity was not offered.

Insanity certainly is on the increase in the world, and crime is dying

out. There are no longer any murders–none worth mentioning, at any

rate. Formerly, if you killed a man, it was possible that you were

insane–but now, if you, having friends and money, kill a mate, it is

evidence that you are a lunatic. In these days, too, if a person of good

family and high social standing steals anything, they call it

kleptomania, and send him to the lunatic asylum. If a person of high

standing squanders his fortune in dissipation, and closes his career with

strychnine or a bullet, “Temporary Aberration” is what was the trouble

with him.

Is not this insanity plea becoming rather common? Is it not so common

that the reader confidently expects to see it offered in every criminal

case that comes before the courts? And is it not so cheap, and so

common, and often so trivial, that the reader smiles in derision when the

newspaper mentions it?

And is it not curious to note how very often it wins acquittal for the

prisoner? Of late years it does not seem possible for a man to so

conduct himself, before killing another man, as not to be manifestly

insane. If he talks about the stars, he is insane. If he appears

nervous and uneasy an hour before the killing, he is insane. If he weeps

over a great grief, his friends shake their heads, and fear that he is

“not right.” If, an hour after the murder, he seems ill at ease,

preoccupied, and excited, he is, unquestionably insane.

Really, what we want now, is not laws against crime, but a law against

insanity. There is where the true evil lies.



Night before last I had a singular dream. I seemed to be sitting on a

doorstep (in no particular city perhaps) ruminating, and the time of

night appeared to be about twelve or one o’clock. The weather was balmy

and delicious. There was no human sound in the air, not even a footstep.

There was no sound of any kind to emphasize the dead stillness, except

the occasional hollow barking of a dog in the distance and the fainter

answer of a further dog. Presently up the street I heard a bony

clack-clacking, and guessed it was the castanets of a serenading party.

In a minute more a tall skeleton, hooded, and half clad in a tattered and

moldy shroud, whose shreds were flapping about the ribby latticework of

its person, swung by me with a stately stride and disappeared in the gray

gloom of the starlight. It had a broken and worm-eaten coffin on its

shoulder and a bundle of something in its hand. I knew what the

clack-clacking was then; it was this party’s joints working together,

and his elbows knocking against his sides as he walked. I may say I was

surprised. Before I could collect my thoughts and enter upon any

speculations as to what this apparition might portend, I heard another

one coming for I recognized his clack-clack. He had two-thirds of a

coffin on his shoulder, and some foot and head boards under his arm.

I mightily wanted, to peer under his hood and speak to him, but when he

turned and smiled upon me with his cavernous sockets and his projecting

grin as he went by, I thought I would not detain him. He was hardly gone

when I heard the clacking again, and another one issued from the shadowy

half-light. This one was bending under a heavy gravestone, and dragging

a shabby coffin after him by a string. When he got to me he gave me a

steady look for a moment or two, and then rounded to and backed up to me,


“Ease this down for a fellow, will you?”

I eased the gravestone down till it rested on the ground, and in doing so

noticed that it bore the name of “John Baxter Copmanhurst,”with “May,

1839,” as the date of his death. Deceased sat wearily down by me, and

wiped his os frontis with his major maxillary–chiefly from former habit

I judged, for I could not see that he brought away any perspiration.

“It is too bad, too bad,” said he, drawing the remnant of the shroud

about him and leaning his jaw pensively on his hand. Then he put his

left foot up on his knee and fell to scratching his anklebone absently

with a rusty nail which he got out of his coffin.

“What is too bad, friend?”

“Oh, everything, everything. I almost wish I never had died.”

“You surprise me. Why do you say this? Has anything gone wrong? What

is the matter?”

“Matter! Look at this shroud-rags. Look at this gravestone, all

battered up. Look at that disgraceful old coffin. All a man’s property

going to ruin and destruction before his eyes, and ask him if anything is

wrong? Fire and brimstone!”

“Calm yourself, calm yourself,” I said. “It is too bad-it is certainly

too bad, but then I had not supposed that you would much mind such

matters situated as you are.”

“Well, my dear sir, I do mind them. My pride is hurt, and my comfort is

impaired–destroyed, I might say. I will state my case–I will put it to

you in such a way that you can comprehend it, if you will let me,” said

the poor skeleton, tilting the hood of his shroud back, as if he were

clearing for action, and thus unconsciously giving himself a jaunty and

festive air very much at variance with the grave character of his

position in life–so to speak–and in prominent contrast with his

distressful mood.

“Proceed,” said I.

“I reside in the shameful old graveyard a block or two above you here,

in this street–there, now, I just expected that cartilage would let go!-

-third rib from the bottom, friend, hitch the end of it to my spine with

a string, if you have got such a thing about you, though a bit of silver

wire is a deal pleasanter, and more durable and becoming, if one keeps it

polished–to think of shredding out and going to pieces in this way, just

on account of the indifference and neglect of one’s posterity!” –and the

poor ghost grated his teeth in a way that gave me a wrench and a shiver

–for the effect is mightily increased by the absence of muffling flesh

and cuticle. “I reside in that old graveyard, and have for these thirty

years; and I tell you things are changed since I first laid this old

tired frame there, and turned over, and stretched out for a long sleep,

with a delicious sense upon me of being done with bother, and grief,

and anxiety, and doubt, and fear, forever and ever, and listening with

comfortable and increasing satisfaction to the sexton’s work, from the

startling clatter of his first spadeful on my coffin till it dulled away

to the faint patting that shaped the roof of my new home-delicious! My!

I wish you could try it to-night!” and out of my reverie deceased fetched

me a rattling slap with a bony hand.

“Yes, sir, thirty years ago I laid me down there, and was happy. For it

was out in the country then–out in the breezy, flowery, grand old woods,

and the lazy winds gossiped with the leaves, and the squirrels capered

over us and around us, and the creeping things visited us, and the birds

filled the tranquil solitude with music. Ah, it was worth ten years of a

man’s life to be dead then! Everything was pleasant. I was in a good

neighborhood, for all the dead people that lived near me belonged to the

best families in the city. Our posterity appeared to think the world of

us. They kept our graves in the very best condition; the fences were

always in faultless repair, head-boards were kept painted or whitewashed,

and were replaced with new ones as soon as they began to look rusty or

decayed; monuments were kept upright, railings intact and bright, the

rose-bushes and shrubbery trimmed, trained, and free from blemish, the

walks clean and smooth and graveled. But that day is gone by. Our

descendants have forgotten us. My grandson lives in a stately house

built with money made by these old hands of mine, and I sleep in a

neglected grave with invading vermin that gnaw my shroud to build them

nests withal! I and friends that lie with me founded and secured the

prosperity of this fine city, and the stately bantling of our loves

leaves us to rot in a dilapidated cemetery which neighbors curse and

strangers scoff at. See the difference between the old time and this

–for instance: Our graves are all caved in now; our head-boards have

rotted away and tumbled down; our railings reel this way and that, with

one foot in the air, after a fashion of unseemly levity; our monuments

lean wearily, and our gravestones bow their heads discouraged; there be

no adornments any more–no roses, nor shrubs, nor graveled walks, nor

anything that is a comfort to the eye; and even the paintless old board

fence that did make a show of holding us sacred from companionship with

beasts and the defilement of heedless feet, has tottered till it

overhangs the street, and only advertises the presence of our dismal

resting-place and invites yet more derision to it. And now we cannot

hide our poverty and tatters in the friendly woods, for the city has

stretched its withering arms abroad and taken us in, and all that remains

of the cheer of our old home is the cluster of lugubrious forest trees

that stand, bored and weary of a city life, with their feet in our

coffins, looking into the hazy distance and wishing they were there.

I tell you it is disgraceful!

“You begin to comprehend–you begin to see how it is. While our

descendants are living sumptuously on our money, right around us in the

city, we have to fight hard to keep skull and bones together. Bless you,

there isn’t a grave in our cemetery that doesn’t leak not one. Every

time it rains in the night we have to climb out and roost in the trees

and sometimes we are wakened suddenly by the chilly water trickling down

the back of our necks. Then I tell you there is a general heaving up of

old graves and kicking over of old monuments, and scampering of old

skeletons for the trees! Bless me, if you had gone along there some such

nights after twelve you might have seen as many as fifteen of us roosting

on one limb, with our joints rattling drearily and the wind wheezing

through our ribs! Many a time we have perched there for three or four

dreary hours, and then come down, stiff and chilled through and drowsy,

and borrowed each other’s skulls to bail out our graves with–if you will

glance up in my mouth now as I tilt my head back, you can see that my

head-piece is half full of old dry sediment how top-heavy and stupid it

makes me sometimes! Yes, sir, many a time if you had happened to come

along just before the dawn you’d have caught us bailing out the graves

and hanging our shrouds on the fence to dry. Why, I had an elegant

shroud stolen from there one morning–think a party by the name of Smith

took it, that resides in a plebeian graveyard over yonder–I think so

because the first time I ever saw him he hadn’t anything on but a check

shirt, and the last time I saw him, which was at a social gathering in

the new cemetery, he was the best-dressed corpse in the company–and it

is a significant fact that he left when he saw me; and presently an old

woman from here missed her coffin–she generally took it with her when

she went anywhere, because she was liable to take cold and bring on the

spasmodic rheumatism that originally killed her if she exposed herself to

the night air much. She was named Hotchkiss–Anna Matilda Hotchkiss–you

might know her? She has two upper front teeth, is tall, but a good deal

inclined to stoop, one rib on the left side gone, has one shred of rusty

hair hanging from the left side of her head, and one little tuft just

above and a little forward of her right ear, has her underjaw wired on

one side where it had worked loose, small bone of left forearm gone–lost

in a fight has a kind of swagger in her gait and a ‘gallus’ way of going

with: her arms akimbo and her nostrils in the air has been pretty free

and easy, and is all damaged and battered up till she looks like a

queensware crate in ruins–maybe you have met her?”

“God forbid!” I involuntarily ejaculated, for somehow I was not looking

for that form of question, and it caught me a little off my guard. But I

hastened to make amends for my rudeness, and say, “I simply meant I had

not had the honor–for I would not deliberately speak discourteously of a

friend of yours. You were saying that you were robbed–and it was a

shame, too–but it appears by what is left of the shroud you have on that

it was a costly one in its day. How did–”

A most ghastly expression began to develop among the decayed features and

shriveled integuments of my guest’s face, and I was beginning to grow

uneasy and distressed, when he told me he was only working up a deep,

sly smile, with a wink in it, to suggest that about the time he acquired

his present garment a ghost in a neighboring cemetery missed one. This

reassured me, but I begged him to confine himself to speech thenceforth,

because his facial expression was uncertain. Even with the most

elaborate care it was liable to miss fire. Smiling should especially be

avoided. What he might honestly consider a shining success was likely to

strike me in a very different light. I said I liked to see a skeleton

cheerful, even decorously playful, but I did not think smiling was a

skeleton’s best hold.

“Yes, friend,” said the poor skeleton, “the facts are just as I have

given them to you. Two of these old graveyards–the one that I resided

in and one further along have been deliberately neglected by our

descendants of to-day until there is no occupying them any longer. Aside

from the osteological discomfort of it–and that is no light matter this

rainy weather–the present state of things is ruinous to property. We

have got to move or be content to see our effects wasted away and utterly


Now, you will hardly believe it, but it is true, nevertheless, that there

isn’t a single coffin in good repair among all my acquaintance–now that

is an absolute fact. I do not refer to low people who come in a pine box

mounted on an express-wagon, but I am talking about your high-toned,

silver-mounted burial-case, your monumental sort, that travel under black

plumes at the head of a procession and have choice of cemetery lots–

I mean folks like the Jarvises, and the Bledsoes and Burlings, and such.

They are all about ruined. The most substantial people in our set, they

were. And now look at them–utterly used up and poverty-stricken. One

of the Bledsoes actually traded his monument to a late barkeeper for some

fresh shavings to put under his head. I tell you it speaks volumes, for

there is nothing a corpse takes so much pride in as his monument. He

loves to read the inscription. He comes after a while to believe what it

says himself, and then you may see him sitting on the fence night after

night enjoying it. Epitaphs are cheap, and they do a poor chap a world

of good after he is dead, especially if he had hard luck while he was

alive. I wish they were used more. Now I don’t complain, but

confidentially I do think it was a little shabby in my descendants to

give me nothing but this old slab of a gravestone–and all the more that

there isn’t a compliment on it. It used to have:


on it, and I was proud when I first saw it, but by and by I noticed that

whenever an old friend of mine came along he would hook his chin on the

railing and pull a long face and read along down till he came to that,

and then he would chuckle to himself and walk off, looking satisfied and

comfortable. So I scratched it off to get rid of those fools. But a

dead man always takes a deal of pride in his monument. Yonder goes half

a dozen of the Jarvises now, with the family monument along. And

Smithers and some hired specters went by with his awhile ago. Hello,

Higgins, good-by, old friend! That’s Meredith Higgins–died in ’44–

belongs to our set in the cemetery–fine old family–great-grand mother

was an Injun–I am on the most familiar terms with him he didn’t hear me

was the reason he didn’t answer me. And I am sorry, too, because I would

have liked to introduce you. You would admire him. He is the most

disjointed, sway-backed, and generally distorted old skeleton you ever

saw, but he is full of fun. When he laughs it sounds like rasping two

stones together, and he always starts it off with a cheery screech like

raking a nail across a window-pane. Hey, Jones! That is old Columbus

Jones–shroud cost four hundred dollars entire trousseau, including

monument, twenty-seven hundred. This was in the spring of ’26. It was

enormous style for those days. Dead people came all the way from the

Alleghanies to see his things–the party that occupied the grave next to

mine remembers it well. Now do you see that individual going along with

a piece of a head-board under his arm, one leg-bone below his knee gone,

and not a thing in the world on? That is Barstow Dalhousie, and next to

Columbus Jones he was the most sumptuously outfitted person that ever

entered our cemetery. We are all leaving. We cannot tolerate the

treatment we are receiving at the hands of our descendants. They open

new cemeteries, but they leave us to our ignominy. They mend the

streets, but they never mend anything that is about us or belongs to us.

Look at that coffin of mine–yet I tell you in its day it was a piece of

furniture that would have attracted attention in any drawing-room in this

city. You may have it if you want it–I can’t afford to repair it.

Put a new bottom in her, and part of a new top, and a bit of fresh lining

along the left side, and you’ll find her about as comfortable as any

receptacle of her species you ever tried. No thanks no, don’t mention it

you have been civil to me, and I would give you all the property I have

got before I would seem ungrateful. Now this winding-sheet is a kind of

a sweet thing in its way, if you would like to– No? Well, just as you

say, but I wished to be fair and liberal there’s nothing mean about me.

Good-by, friend, I must be going. I may have a good way to go to-night

–don’t know. I only know one thing for certain, and that is that I am

on the emigrant trail now, and I’ll never sleep in that crazy old

cemetery again. I will travel till I fiend respectable quarters, if I

have to hoof it to New Jersey. All the boys are going. It was decided

in public conclave, last night, to emigrate, and by the time the sun

rises there won’t be a bone left in our old habitations. Such cemeteries

may suit my surviving friends, but they do not suit the remains that have

the honor to make these remarks. My opinion is the general opinion.

If you doubt it, go and see how the departing ghosts upset things before

they started. They were almost riotous in their demonstrations of

distaste. Hello, here are some of the Bledsoes, and if you will give me

a lift with this tombstone I guess I will join company and jog along with

them–mighty respectable old family, the Bledsoes, and used to always

come out in six-horse hearses and all that sort of thing fifty years ago

when I walked these streets in daylight. Good-by, friend.”

And with his gravestone on his shoulder he joined the grisly procession,

dragging his damaged coffin after him, for notwithstanding he pressed it

upon me so earnestly, I utterly refused his hospitality. I suppose that

for as much as two hours these sad outcasts went clacking by, laden with

their dismal effects, and all that time I sat pitying them. One or two

of the youngest and least dilapidated among them inquired about midnight

trains on the railways, but the rest seemed unacquainted with that mode

of travel, and merely asked about common public roads to various towns

and cities, some of which are not on the map now,, and vanished from it

and from the earth as much as thirty years ago, and some few of them

never had existed anywhere but on maps, and private ones in real-estate

agencies at that. And they asked about the condition of the cemeteries

in these towns and cities, and about the reputation the citizens bore as

to reverence for the dead.

This whole matter interested me deeply, and likewise compelled my

sympathy for these homeless ones. And it all seeming real, and I not

knowing it was a dream, I mentioned to one shrouded wanderer an idea that

had entered my head to publish an account of this curious and very

sorrowful exodus, but said also that I could not describe it truthfully,

and just as it occurred, without seeming to trifle with a grave subject

and exhibit an irreverence for the dead that would shock and distress

their surviving friends. But this bland and stately remnant of a former

citizen leaned him far over my gate and whispered in my ear, and said:

“Do not let that disturb you. The community that can stand such

graveyards as those we are emigrating from can stand anything a body can

say about the neglected and forsaken dead that lie in them.”

At that very moment a cock crowed, and the weird procession vanished and

left not a shred or a bone behind. I awoke, and found myself lying with

my head out of the bed and “sagging” downward considerably–a position

favorable to dreaming dreams with morals in them, maybe, but not poetry.

NOTE.–The reader is assured that if the cemeteries in his town are kept

in good order, this Dream is not leveled at his town at all, but is

leveled particularly and venomously at the next town.



It was summer-time, and twilight. We were sitting on the porch of the

farmhouse, on the summit of the hill, and “Aunt Rachel” was sitting

respectfully below our level, on the steps-for she was our Servant, and

colored. She was of mighty frame and stature; she was sixty years old,

but her eye was undimmed and her strength unabated. She was a cheerful,

hearty soul, and it was no more trouble for her to laugh than it is for a

bird to sing. She was under fire now, as usual when the day was done.

That is to say, she was being chaffed without mercy, and was enjoying it.

She would let off peal after of laughter, and then sit with her face in

her hands and shake with throes of enjoyment which she could no longer

get breath enough to express. It such a moment as this a thought

occurred to me, and I said:

“Aunt Rachel, how is it that you’ve lived sixty years and never had any


She stopped quaking. She paused, and there was moment of silence. She

turned her face over her shoulder toward me, and said, without even a

smile her voice:

“Misto C—–, is you in ‘arnest?”

It surprised me a good deal; and it sobered my manner and my speech, too.

I said:

“Why, I thought–that is, I meant–why, you can’t have had any trouble.

I’ve never heard you sigh, and never seen your eye when there wasn’t a

laugh in it.”

She faced fairly around now, and was full earnestness.

“Has I had any trouble? Misto C—–, I’s gwyne to tell you, den I leave

it to you. I was bawn down ‘mongst de slaves; I knows all ’bout slavery,

‘case I ben one of ’em my own se’f. Well sah, my ole man–dat’s my

husban’–he was lov an’ kind to me, jist as kind as you is to yo’ own

wife. An’ we had chil’en–seven chil’en–an’ loved dem chil’en jist de

same as you loves yo’ chil’en. Dey was black, but de Lord can’t make

chil’en so black but what dey mother loves ’em an’ wouldn’t give ’em up,

no, not for anything dat’s in dis whole world.

“Well, sah, I was raised in ole Fo’ginny, but mother she was raised in

Maryland; an’ my souls she was turrible when she’d git started! My lan!

but she’d make de fur fly! When she’d git into dem tantrums, she always

had one word dat she said. She’d straighten herse’f up an’ put her fists

in her hips an’ say, ‘I want you to understan’ dat I wa’n’t bawn in the

mash to be fool’ by trash! I’s one o’ de ole Blue Hen’s Chickens, I is!’

‘Ca’se you see, dat’s what folks dat’s bawn in Maryland calls deyselves,

an’ dey’s proud of it. Well, dat was her word. I don’t ever forgit it,

beca’se she said it so much, an’ beca’se she said it one day when my

little Henry tore his wris’ awful, and most busted ‘is head, right up at

de top of his forehead, an’ de niggers didn’t fly aroun’ fas’ enough to

‘tend to him. An’ when dey talk’ back at her, she up an’ she says,

‘Look-a-heah!’ she says, ‘I want you niggers to understan’ dat I wa’n’t

bawn in de mash be fool’ by trash! I’s one o’ de ole Blue Hen’s chickens,

I is!’ an’ den she clar’ dat kitchen an’ bandage’ up de chile herse’f.

So I says dat word, too, when I’s riled.

“Well, bymeby my ole mistis say she’s broke, an she got to sell all de

niggers on de place. An’ when I heah dat dey gwyne to sell us all off at

oction in Richmon’, oh, de good gracious! I know what dat mean!”

Aunt Rachel had gradually risen, while she warmed to her subject, and now

she towered above us, black against the stars.

“Dey put chains on us an’ put us on a stan’ as high as dis po’ch–twenty

foot high-an’ all de people stood aroun’, crowds ‘an’ crowds. An’ dey’d

come up dah an’ look at us all roun’, an’ squeeze our arm, an’ make us

git up an’ walk, an’ den say, Dis one too ole,’ or ‘Dis one lame,’ or

‘Dis one don’t ‘mount to much.’ An’ dey sole my ole man, an’ took him

away, an’ dey begin to sell my chil’en an’ take dem away, an’ I begin to

cry; an’ de man say, ‘Shet up yo’ damn blubberin’,’ an’ hit me on de mouf

wid his han’. An’ when de las’ one was gone but my little Henry, I grab’

him clost up to my breas’ so, an’ I ris up an’ says, ‘You sha’nt take him

away,’ I says; ‘I’ll kill de man dat tetch him!’ I says. But my little

Henry whisper an’ say ‘I gwyne to run away, an’ den I work an’ buy yo’

freedom’ Oh, bless de chile, he always so good! But dey got him–dey got

him, de men did; but I took and tear de clo’es mos’ off of ’em an’ beat

’em over de head wid my chain; an’ dey give it to me too, but I didn’t

mine dat.

‘Well, dah was my ole man gone, an’ all my chil’en, all my seven chil’en

–an’ six of ’em I hain’t set eyes on ag’in to dis day, an’ dat’s

twenty-two year ago las’ Easter. De man dat bought me b’long’ in

Newbern, an’ he took me dah. Well, bymeby de years roll on an’ de waw

come. My marster he was a Confedrit colonel, an’ I was his family’s

cook. So when de Unions took dat town dey all run away an’ lef’ me all

by myse’f wid de other niggers in dat mons’us big house. So de big Union

officers move in dah, an’ dey ask me would I cook for dem. ‘Lord bless

you,’ says I, ‘dat what I’s for.’

“Dey wa’n’t no small-fry officers, mine you, de was de biggest dey is;

an’ de way dey made dem sojers mosey roun’! De Gen’l he tole me to boss

dat kitchen; an’ he say, ‘If anybody come meddlin’ wid you, you jist make

’em walk chalk; don’t you be afeared,’ he say; ‘you’s ‘mong frens now.’

“Well, I thinks to myse’f, if my little Henry ever got a chance to run

away, he’d make to de Norf, o’ course. So one day I comes in dah whar de

big officers was, in de parlor, an’ I drops a kurtchy, so, an’ I up an’

tole ’em ’bout my Henry, dey a-listenin’ to my troubles jist de same as

if I was white folks; an’ I says, ‘What I come for is beca’se if he got

away and got up Norf whar you gemmen comes from, you might ‘a’ seen him,

maybe, an’ could tell me so as I could fine him ag’in; he was very

little, an’ he had a sk-yar on his lef’ wris’ an’ at de top of his

forehead.’ Den dey look mournful, an’ de Gen’l says, ‘How long sence you

los’ him?’ an’ I say, ‘Thirteen year. Den de Gen’l say, ‘He wouldn’t be

little no mo’ now–he’s a man!’

“I never thought o’ dat befo’! He was only dat little feller to me yit.

I never thought ’bout him growin’ up an’ bein’ big. But I see it den.

None o’ de gemmen had run acrost him, so dey couldn’t do nothin’ for me.

But all dat time, do’ I didn’t know it, my Henry was run off to de Norf,

years an’ years, an’ he was a barber, too, an’ worked for hisse’f. An’

bymeby, when de waw come he ups an’ he says: ‘I’s done barberin’,’ he

says, ‘I’s gwyne to fine my ole mammy, less’n she’s dead.’ So he sole

out an’ went to whar dey was recruitin’, an’ hired hisse’f out to de

colonel for his servant an’ den he went all froo de battles everywhah,

huntin’ for his ole mammy; yes, indeedy, he’d hire to fust one officer

an’ den another, tell he’d ransacked de whole Souf; but you see I didn’t

know nuffin ’bout dis. How was I gwyne to know it?

“Well, one night we had a big sojer ball; de sojers dah at Newbern was

always havin’ balls an’ carryin’ on. Dey had ’em in my kitchen, heaps o’

times, ‘ca’se it was so big. Mine you, I was down on sich doin’s;

beca’se my place was wid de officers, an’ it rasp me to have dem common

sojers cavortin’ roun’ in my kitchen like dat. But I alway’ stood aroun’

an kep’ things straight, I did; an’ sometimes dey’d git my dander up, an’

den I’d make ’em clar dat kitchen mine I tell you!

“Well, one night–it was a Friday night–dey comes a whole platoon f’m a

nigger ridgment da was on guard at de house–de house was head quarters,

you know-an’ den I was jist a-bilin’ mad? I was jist a-boomin’! I

swelled aroun’, an swelled aroun’; I jist was a-itchin’ for ’em to do

somefin for to start me. An’ dey was a-waltzin’ an a dancin’! my but dey

was havin’ a time! an I jist a-swellin’ an’ a-swellin’ up! Pooty soon,

‘long comes sich a spruce young nigger a-sailin’ down de room wid a

yaller wench roun’ de wais’; an’ roun an’ roun’ an roun’ dey went, enough

to make a body drunk to look at ’em; an’ when dey got abreas’ o’ me, dey

went to kin’ o’ balancin’ aroun’ fust on one leg an’ den on t’other, an’

smilin’ at my big red turban, an’ makin’ fun, an’ I ups an’ says ‘Git

along wid you! –rubbage!’ De young man’s face kin’ o’ changed, all of a

sudden, for ’bout a second but den he went to smilin’ ag’in, same as he

was befo’. Well, ’bout dis time, in comes some niggers dat played music

and b’long’ to de ban’, an’ dey never could git along widout puttin’ on

airs. An de very fust air dey put on dat night, I lit into em! Dey

laughed, an’ dat made me wuss. De res’ o’ de niggers got to laughin’,

an’ den my soul alive but I was hot! My eye was jist a-blazin’! I jist

straightened myself up so–jist as I is now, plum to de ceilin’, mos’–

an’ I digs my fists into my hips, an’ I says, ‘Look-a-heah!’ I says, ‘I

want you niggers to understan’ dat I wa’n’t bawn in de mash to be fool’

by trash! I’s one o’ de ole Blue hen’s Chickens, I is!’ an’ den I see

dat young man stan’ a-starin’ an’ stiff, lookin’ kin’ o’ up at de ceilin’

like he fo’got somefin, an’ couldn’t ‘member it no mo’. Well, I jist

march’ on dem niggers–so, lookin’ like a gen’l–an’ dey jist cave’ away

befo’ me an’ out at de do’. An’ as dis young man a-goin’ out, I heah him

say to another nigger, ‘Jim,’ he says, ‘you go ‘long an’ tell de cap’n I

be on han’ ’bout eight o’clock in de mawnin’; dey’s somefin on my mine,’

he says; ‘I don’t sleep no mo’ dis night. You go ‘long,’ he says, ‘an’

leave me by my own se’f.’

“Dis was ’bout one o’clock in de mawnin’. Well, ’bout seven, I was up

an’ on han’, gittin’ de officers’ breakfast. I was a-stoopin’ down by de

stove jist so, same as if yo’ foot was de stove–an’ I’d opened de stove

do’ wid my right han’–so, pushin’ it back, jist as I pushes yo’ foot–

an’ I’d jist got de pan o’ hot biscuits in my han’ an’ was ’bout to raise

up, when I see a black face come aroun’ under mine, an’ de eyes a-lookin’

up into mine, jist as I’s a-lookin’ up clost under yo’ face now; an’ I

jist stopped right dah, an’ never budged! jist gazed an’ gazed so; an’ de

pan begin to tremble, an’ all of a sudden I knowed! De pan drop’ on de

flo’ an’ I grab his lef’ han’ an’ shove back his sleeve–jist so, as I’s

doin’ to you–an’ den I goes for his forehead an’ push de hair back so,

an’ ‘Boy!’ I says, ‘if you an’t my Henry, what is you doin’ wid dis welt

on yo’ wris’ an’ dat sk-yar on yo’ forehead? De Lord God ob heaven be

praise’, I got my own ag’in!’

“Oh no’ Misto C—–, I hain’t had no trouble. An’ no joy!”

THE SIAMESE TWINS –[Written about 1868.]

I do not wish to write of the personal habits of these strange creatures

solely, but also of certain curious details of various kinds concerning

them, which, belonging only to their private life, have never crept into

print. Knowing the Twins intimately, I feel that I am peculiarly well

qualified for the task I have taken upon myself.

The Siamese Twins are naturally tender and affectionate indisposition,

and have clung to each other with singular fidelity throughout a long and

eventful life. Even as children they were inseparable companions; and it

was noticed that they always seemed to prefer each other’s society to

that of any other persons. They nearly always played together; and, so

accustomed was their mother to this peculiarity, that, whenever both of

them chanced to be lost, she usually only hunted for one of them–

satisfied that when she found that one she would find his brother

somewhere in the immediate neighborhood. And yet these creatures were

ignorant and unlettered-barbarians themselves and the offspring of

barbarians, who knew not the light of philosophy and science. What a

withering rebuke is this to our boasted civilization, with its

quarrelings, its wranglings, and its separations of brothers!

As men, the Twins have not always lived in perfect accord; but still

there has always been a bond between them which made them unwilling to go

away from each other and dwell apart. They have even occupied the same

house, as a general thing, and it is believed that they have never failed

to even sleep together on any night since they were born. How surely do

the habits of a lifetime become second nature to us! The Twins always go

to bed at the same time; but Chang usually gets up about an hour before

his brother. By an understanding between themselves, Chang does all the

indoor work and Eng runs all the errands. This is because Eng likes to

go out; Chang’s habits are sedentary. However, Chang always goes along.

Eng is a Baptist, but Chang is a Roman Catholic; still, to please his

brother, Chang consented to be baptized at the same time that Eng was, on

condition that it should not “count.” During the war they were strong

partisans, and both fought gallantly all through the great struggle–Eng

on the Union side and Chang on the Confederate. They took each other

prisoners at Seven Oaks, but the proofs of capture were so evenly

balanced in favor of each, that a general army court had to be assembled

to determine which one was properly the captor and which the captive.

The jury was unable to agree for a long time; but the vexed question was

finally decided by agreeing to consider them both prisoners, and then

exchanging them. At one time Chang was convicted of disobedience of

orders, and sentenced to ten days in the guard-house, but Eng, in spite

of all arguments, felt obliged to share his imprisonment, notwithstanding

he himself was entirely innocent; and so, to save the blameless brother

from suffering, they had to discharge both from custody–the just reward

of faithfulness.

Upon one occasion the brothers fell out about something, and Chang

knocked Eng down, and then tripped and fell on him, whereupon both

clinched and began to beat and gouge each other without mercy. The

bystanders interfered, and tried to separate them, but they could not do

it, and so allowed them to fight it out. In the end both were disabled,

and were carried to the hospital on one and the same shutter.

Their ancient habit of going always together had its drawbacks when they

reached man’s estate, and entered upon the luxury of courting. Both fell

in love with the same girl. Each tried to steal clandestine interviews

with her, but at the critical moment the other would always turn up.

By and by Eng saw, with distraction, that Chang had won the girl’s

affections; and, from that day forth, he had to bear with the agony of

being a witness to all their dainty billing and cooing. But with a

magnanimity that did him infinite credit, he succumbed to his fate, and

gave countenance and encouragement to a state of things that bade fair to

sunder his generous heart-strings. He sat from seven every evening until

two in the morning, listening to the fond foolishness of the two lovers,

and to the concussion of hundreds of squandered kisses–for the privilege

of sharing only one of which he would have given his right hand. But he

sat patiently, and waited, and gaped, and yawned, and stretched, and

longed for two o’clock to come. And he took long walks with the lovers

on moonlight evenings–sometimes traversing ten miles, notwithstanding he

was usually suffering from rheumatism. He is an inveterate smoker; but

he could not smoke on these occasions, because the young lady was

painfully sensitive to the smell of tobacco. Eng cordially wanted them

married, and done with it; but although Chang often asked the momentous

question, the young lady could not gather sufficient courage to answer it

while Eng was by. However, on one occasion, after having walked some

sixteen miles, and sat up till nearly daylight, Eng dropped asleep, from

sheer exhaustion, and then the question was asked and answered. The

lovers were married. All acquainted with the circumstance applauded the

noble brother-in-law. His unwavering faithfulness was the theme of every

tongue. He had stayed by them all through their long and arduous

courtship; and when at last they were married, he lifted his hands above

their heads, and said with impressive unction, “Bless ye, my children, I

will never desert ye!” and he kept his word. Fidelity like this is all

too rare in this cold world.

By and by Eng fell in love with his sister-in-law’s sister, and married

her, and since that day they have all lived together, night and day, in

an exceeding sociability which is touching and beautiful to behold, and

is a scathing rebuke to our boasted civilization.

The sympathy existing between these two brothers is so close and so

refined that the feelings, the impulses, the emotions of the one are

instantly experienced by the other. When one is sick, the other is sick;

when one feels pain, the other feels it; when one is angered, the other’s

temper takes fire. We have already seen with what happy facility they

both fell in love with the same girl. Now Chang is bitterly opposed to

all forms of intemperance, on principle; but Eng is the reverse–for,

while these men’s feelings and emotions are so closely wedded, their

reasoning faculties are unfettered; their thoughts are free. Chang

belongs to the Good Templars, and is a hard–working, enthusiastic

supporter of all temperance reforms. But, to his bitter distress, every

now and then Eng gets drunk, and, of course, that makes Chang drunk too.

This unfortunate thing has been a great sorrow to Chang, for it almost

destroys his usefulness in his favorite field of effort. As sure as he

is to head a great temperance procession Eng ranges up alongside of him,

prompt to the minute, and drunk as a lord; but yet no more dismally and

hopelessly drunk than his brother, who has not tasted a drop. And so the

two begin to hoot and yell, and throw mud and bricks at the Good

Templars; and, of course, they break up the procession. It would be

manifestly wrong to punish Chang for what Eng does, and, therefore, the

Good Templars accept the untoward situation, and suffer in silence and

sorrow. They have officially and deliberately examined into the matter,

and find Chang blameless. They have taken the two brothers and filled

Chang full of warm water and sugar and Eng full of whisky, and in twenty-

five minutes it was not possible to tell which was the drunkest. Both

were as drunk as loons–and on hot whisky punches, by the smell of their

breath. Yet all the while Chang’s moral principles were unsullied, his

conscience clear; and so all just men were forced to confess that he was

not morally, but only physically, drunk. By every right and by every

moral evidence the man was strictly sober; and, therefore, it caused his

friends all the more anguish to see him shake hands with the pump and try

to wind his watch with his night-key.

There is a moral in these solemn warnings–or, at least, a warning in

these solemn morals; one or the other. No matter, it is somehow. Let us

heed it; let us profit by it.

I could say more of an instructive nature about these interesting beings,

but let what I have written suffice.

Having forgotten to mention it sooner, I will remark in conclusion that

the ages of the Siamese Twins are respectively fifty-one and fifty-three



On the anniversary festival of the Scottish Corporation of London on

Monday evening, in response to the toast of “The Ladies,” MARK TWAIN

replied. The following is his speech as reported in the London Observer:

I am proud, indeed, of the distinction of being chosen to respond to this

especial toast, to ‘The Ladies,’ or to women if you please, for that is

the preferable term, perhaps; it is certainly the older, and therefore

the more entitled to reverence [Laughter.] I have noticed that the

Bible, with that plain, blunt honesty which is such a conspicuous

characteristic of the Scriptures, is always particular to never refer to

even the illustrious mother of all mankind herself as a ‘lady,’ but

speaks of her as a woman, [Laughter.] It is odd, but you will find it is

so. I am peculiarly proud of this honor, because I think that the toast

to women is one which, by right and by every rule of gallantry, should

take precedence of all others–of the army, of the navy, of even royalty

itself perhaps, though the latter is not necessary in this day and in

this land, for the reason that, tacitly, you do drink a broad general

health to all good women when you drink the health of the Queen of

England and the Princess of Wales. [Loud cheers.] I have in mind a poem

just now which is familiar to you all, familiar to everybody. And what

an inspiration that was (and how instantly the present toast recalls the

verses to all our minds) when the most noble, the most gracious, the

purest, and sweetest of all poets says:

“Woman! O woman!–er–


[Laughter.] However, you remember the lines; and you remember how

feelingly, how daintily, how almost imperceptibly the verses raise up

before you, feature by feature, the ideal of a true and perfect woman;

and how, as you contemplate the finished marvel, your homage grows into

worship of the intellect that could create so fair a thing out of mere

breath, mere words. And you call to mind now, as I speak, how the poet,

with stern fidelity to the history of all humanity, delivers this

beautiful child of his heart and his brain over to the trials and sorrows

that must come to all, sooner or later, that abide in the earth, and how

the pathetic story culminates in that apostrophe–so wild, so regretful,

so full of mournful retrospection. The lines run thus:



–and so on. [Laughter.] I do not remember the rest; but, taken

together, it seems to me that poem is the noblest tribute to woman that

human genius has ever brought forth–[laughter)–and I feel that if I

were to talk hours I could not do my great theme completer or more

graceful justice than I have now done in simply quoting that poet’s

matchless words. [Renewed laughter.] The phases of the womanly nature

are infinite in their variety. Take any type of woman, and you shall

find in it something to respect, something to admire, something to love.

And you shall find the whole joining you heart and hand. Who was more

patriotic than Joan of Arc? Who was braver? Who has given us a grander

instance of self-sacrificing devotion? Ah! you remember, you remember

well, what a throb of pain, what a great tidal wave of grief swept over

us all when Joan of Arc fell at Waterloo. [Much laughter.] Who does not

sorrow for the loss of Sappho, the sweet singer of Israel? [Laughter.]

Who among us does not miss the gentle ministrations, the softening

influences, the humble piety of Lucretia Borgia? [Laughter.] Who can

join in the heartless libel that says woman is extravagant in dress when

he can look back and call to mind our simple and lowly mother Eve arrayed

in her modification of the Highland costume. [Roars of laughter.]

Sir, women have been soldiers, women have been painters, women have been

poets. As long as language lives the name of Cleopatra will live.

And, not because she conquered George III. [laughter]–but because she

wrote those divine lines:

“Let dogs delight to bark and bite,

For God hath made them so.”

[More laughter.] The story of the world is adorned with the names of

illustrious ones of our own sex–some of them sons of St. Andrew, too–

Scott, Bruce, Burns, the warrior Wallace, Ben Nevis–[laughter]–the

gifted Ben Lomond, and the great new Scotchman, Ben Disraeli. [Great

laughter.] Out of the great plains of history tower whole mountain

ranges of sublime women–the Queen of Sheba, Josephine, Semiramis, Sairey

Gamp; the list is endless–[laughter]–but I will not call the mighty

roll, the names rise up in your own memories at the mere suggestion,

luminous with the glory of deeds that cannot die, hallowed by the loving

worship of the good and the true of all epochs and all climes. [Cheers.]

Suffice it for our pride and our honor that we in our day have added to

it such names as those of Grace Darling and Florence Nightingale.

[Cheers.] Woman is all that she should be-gentle, patient, long

suffering, trustful, unselfish, full of generous impulses. It is her

blessed mission to comfort the sorrowing, plead for the erring, encourage

the faint of purpose, succor the distressed, uplift the fallen, befriend

the friendless in a word, afford the healing of her sympathies and a home

in her heart for all the bruised and persecuted children of misfortune

that knock at its hospitable door. [Cheers.] And when I say, God bless

her, there is none among us who has known the ennobling affection of a

wife, or the steadfast devotion of a mother, but in his heart will say,

Amen! [Loud and prolonged cheering.]

–[Mr. Benjamin Disraeli, at that time Prime Minister of England, had

just been elected Lord Rector of Glasgow University, and had made a

speech which gave rise to a world of discussion.]


I took a large room, far up Broadway, in a huge old building whose upper

stories had been wholly unoccupied for years until I came. The place had

long been given up to dust and cobwebs, to solitude and silence.

I seemed groping among the tombs and invading the privacy of the dead,

that first night I climbed up to my quarters. For the first time in my

life a superstitious dread came over me; and as I turned a dark angle of

the stairway and an invisible cobweb swung its slazy woof in my face and

clung there, I shuddered as one who had encountered a phantom.

I was glad enough when I reached my room and locked out the mold and the

darkness. A cheery fire was burning in the grate, and I sat down before

it with a comforting sense of relief. For two hours I sat there,

thinking of bygone times; recalling old scenes, and summoning half-

forgotten faces out of the mists of the past; listening, in fancy, to

voices that long ago grew silent for all time, and to once familiar songs

that nobody sings now. And as my reverie softened down to a sadder and

sadder pathos, the shrieking of the winds outside softened to a wail, the

angry beating of the rain against the panes diminished to a tranquil

patter, and one by one the noises in the street subsided, until the

hurrying footsteps of the last belated straggler died away in the

distance and left no sound behind.

The fire had burned low. A sense of loneliness crept over me. I arose

and undressed, moving on tiptoe about the room, doing stealthily what I

had to do, as if I were environed by sleeping enemies whose slumbers it

would be fatal to break. I covered up in bed, and lay listening to the

rain and wind and the faint creaking of distant shutters, till they

lulled me to sleep.

I slept profoundly, but how long I do not know. All at once I found

myself awake, and filled with a shuddering expectancy. All was still.

All but my own heart–I could hear it beat. Presently the bedclothes

began to slip away slowly toward the foot of the bed, as if some one were

pulling them! I could not stir; I could not speak. Still the blankets

slipped deliberately away, till my breast was uncovered. Then with a

great effort I seized them and drew them over my head. I waited,

listened, waited. Once more that steady pull began, and once more I lay

torpid a century of dragging seconds till my breast was naked again. At

last I roused my energies and snatched the covers back to their place and

held them with a strong grip. I waited. By and by I felt a faint tug,

and took a fresh grip., The tug strengthened to a steady strain–it grew

stronger and stronger. My hold parted, and for the third time the

blankets slid away. I groaned. An answering groan came from the foot of

the bed! Beaded drops of sweat stood upon my forehead. I was more dead

than alive. Presently I heard a heavy footstep in my room–the step of

an elephant, it seemed to me–it was not like anything human. But it was

moving from me–there was relief in that. I heard it approach the door–

pass out without moving bolt or lock–and wander away among the dismal

corridors, straining the floors and joists till they creaked again as it

passed–and then silence reigned once more.

When my excitement had calmed, I said to myself, “This is a dream–simply

a hideous dream.” And so I lay thinking it over until I convinced myself

that it was a dream, and then a comforting laugh relaxed my lips and I

was happy again. I got up and struck a light; and when I found that the

locks and bolts were just as I had left them, another soothing laugh

welled in my heart and rippled from my lips. I took my pipe and lit it,

and was just sitting down before the fire, when-down went the pipe out of

my nerveless fingers, the blood forsook my cheeks, and my placid

breathing was cut short with a gasp! In the ashes on the hearth, side by

side with my own bare footprint, was another, so vast that in comparison

mine was but an infant’s! Then I had had a visitor, and the elephant

tread was explained.

I put out the light and returned to bed, palsied with fear. I lay a long

time, peering into the darkness, and listening. –Then I heard a grating

noise overhead, like the dragging of a heavy body across the floor; then

the throwing down of the body, and the shaking of my windows in response

to the concussion. In distant parts of the building I heard the muffled

slamming of doors. I heard, at intervals, stealthy footsteps creeping in

and out among the corridors, and up and down the stairs. Sometimes these

noises approached my door, hesitated, and went away again. I heard the

clanking of chains faintly, in remote passages, and listened while the

clanking grew nearer–while it wearily climbed the stairways, marking

each move by the loose surplus of chain that fell with an accented rattle

upon each succeeding step as the goblin that bore it advanced. I heard

muttered sentences; half-uttered screams that seemed smothered violently;

and the swish of invisible garments, the rush of invisible wings. Then I

became conscious that my chamber was invaded–that I was not alone.

I heard sighs and breathings about my bed, and mysterious whisperings.

Three little spheres of soft phosphorescent light appeared on the ceiling

directly over my head, clung and glowed there a moment, and then dropped

–two of them upon my face and one upon the pillow. They, spattered,

liquidly, and felt warm. Intuition told me they had–turned to gouts of

blood as they fell–I needed no light to satisfy myself of that. Then I

saw pallid faces, dimly luminous, and white uplifted hands, floating

bodiless in the air–floating a moment and then disappearing.

The whispering ceased, and the voices and the sounds, anal a solemn

stillness followed. I waited and listened. I felt that I must have

light or die. I was weak with fear. I slowly raised myself toward a

sitting posture, and my face came in contact with a clammy hand!

All strength went from me apparently, and I fell back like a stricken

invalid. Then I heard the rustle of a garment it seemed to pass to the

door and go out.

When everything was still once more, I crept out of bed, sick and feeble,

and lit the gas with a hand that trembled as if it were aged with a

hundred years. The light brought some little cheer to my spirits. I sat

down and fell into a dreamy contemplation of that great footprint in the

ashes. By and by its outlines began to waver and grow dim. I glanced up

and the broad gas-flame was slowly wilting away. In the same moment I

heard that elephantine tread again. I noted its approach, nearer and

nearer, along the musty halls, and dimmer and dimmer the light waned.

The tread reached my very door and paused–the light had dwindled to a

sickly blue, and all things about me lay in a spectral twilight. The

door did not open, and yet I felt a faint gust of air fan my cheek, and

presently was conscious of a huge, cloudy presence before me. I watched

it with fascinated eyes. A pale glow stole over the Thing; gradually its

cloudy folds took shape–an arm appeared, then legs, then a body, and

last a great sad face looked out of the vapor. Stripped of its filmy

housings, naked, muscular and comely, the majestic Cardiff Giant loomed

above me!

All my misery vanished–for a child might know that no harm could come

with that benignant countenance. My cheerful spirits returned at once,

and in sympathy with them the gas flamed up brightly again. Never a

lonely outcast was so glad to welcome company as I was to greet the

friendly giant. I said:

“Why, is it nobody but you? Do you know, I have been scared to death for

the last two or three hours? I am most honestly glad to see you. I wish

I had a chair– Here, here, don’t try to sit down in that thing–

But it was too late. He was in it before I could stop him and down he

went–I never saw a chair shivered so in my life.

“Stop, stop, you’ll ruin ev–”

Too late again. There was another crash, and another chair was resolved

into its original elements.

“Confound it, haven’t you got any judgment at’ all? Do you want to ruin

all the furniture on the place? Here, here, you petrified fool–”

But it was no use. Before I could arrest him he had sat down on the bed,

and it was a melancholy ruin.

“Now what sort of a way is that to do? First you come lumbering about

the place bringing a legion of vagabond goblins along with you to worry

me to death, and then when I overlook an indelicacy of costume which

would not be tolerated anywhere by cultivated people except in a

respectable theater, and not even there if the nudity were of your sex,

you repay me by wrecking all the furniture you can find to sit down on.

And why will you? You damage yourself as much as you do me. You have

broken off the end of your spinal column, and littered up the floor with

chips of your hams till the place looks like a marble yard. You ought to

be ashamed of yourself–you are big enough to know better.”

“Well, I will not break any more furniture. But what am I to do? I have

not had a chance to sit down for a century.” And the tears came into his


“Poor devil,” I said, “I should not have been so harsh with you. And you

are an orphan, too, no doubt. But sit down on the floor here–nothing

else can stand your weight–and besides, we cannot be sociable with you

away up there above me; I want you down where I can perch on this high

counting-house stool and gossip with you face to face.” So he sat down

on the floor, and lit a pipe which I gave him, threw one of my red

blankets over his shoulders, inverted my sitz-bath on his head, helmet

fashion, and made himself picturesque and comfortable. Then he crossed

his ankles, while I renewed the fire, and exposed the flat, honeycombed

bottoms of his prodigious feet to the grateful warmth.

“What is the matter with the bottom of your feet and the back of your

legs, that they are gouged up so?”

“Infernal chilblains–I caught them clear up to the back of my head,

roosting out there under Newell’s farm. But I love the place; I love it

as one loves his old home. There is no peace for me like the peace I

feel when I am there.”

We talked along for half an hour, and then I noticed that he looked

tired, and spoke of it.

“Tired?” he said. “Well, I should think so. And now I will tell you all

about it, since you have treated me so well. I am the spirit of the

Petrified Man that lies across the street there in the museum. I am the

ghost of the Cardiff Giant. I can have no rest, no peace, till they have

given that poor body burial again. Now what was the most natural thing

for me to do, to make men satisfy this wish? Terrify them into it!

haunt the place where the body lay! So I haunted the museum night after

night. I even got other spirits to help me. But it did no good, for

nobody ever came to the museum at midnight. Then it occurred to me to

come over the way and haunt this place a little. I felt that if I ever

got a hearing I must succeed, for I had the most efficient company that

perdition could furnish. Night after night we have shivered around

through these mildewed halls, dragging chains, groaning, whispering,

tramping up and down stairs, till, to tell you the truth, I am almost

worn out. But when I saw a light in your room to-night I roused my

energies again and went at it with a deal of the old freshness. But I am

tired out–entirely fagged out. Give me, I beseech you, give me some

hope!” I lit off my perch in a burst of excitement, and exclaimed:

“This transcends everything! everything that ever did occur! Why you

poor blundering old fossil, you have had all your trouble for nothing–

you have been haunting a plaster cast of yourself–the real Cardiff Giant

is in Albany! –[A fact. The original fraud was ingeniously and

fraudfully duplicated, and exhibited in New York as the “only genuine”

Cardiff Giant (to the unspeakable disgust of the owners of the real

colossus) at the very same time that the latter was drawing crowds at a

museum is Albany,]– Confound it, don’t you know your own remains?”

I never saw such an eloquent look of shame, of pitiable humiliation,

overspread a countenance before.

The Petrified Man rose slowly to his feet, and said:

“Honestly, is that true?”

“As true as I am sitting here.”

He took the pipe from his mouth and laid it on the mantel, then stood

irresolute a moment (unconsciously, from old habit, thrusting his hands

where his pantaloons pockets should have been, and meditatively dropping

his chin on his breast); and finally said:

“Well-I never felt so absurd before. The Petrified Man has sold

everybody else, and now the mean fraud has ended by selling its own

ghost! My son, if there is any charity left in your heart for a poor

friendless phantom like me, don’t let this get out. Think how you would

feel if you had made such an ass of yourself.”

I heard his stately tramp die away, step by step down the stairs and out

into the deserted street, and felt sorry that he was gone, poor fellow–

and sorrier still that he had carried off my red blanket and my bath-tub.



[Scene-An Artist’s Studio in Rome.]

“Oh, George, I do love you!”

“Bless your dear heart, Mary, I know that–why is your father so


“George, he means well, but art is folly to him–he only understands

groceries. He thinks you would starve me.”

“Confound his wisdom–it savors of inspiration. Why am I not a money-

making bowelless grocer, instead of a divinely gifted sculptor with

nothing to eat?”

“Do not despond, Georgy, dear–all his prejudices will fade away as soon

as you shall have acquired fifty thousand dol–”

“Fifty thousand demons! Child, I am in arrears for my board!”


[Scene-A Dwelling in Rome.]

“My dear sir, it is useless to talk. I haven’t anything against you, but

I can’t let my daughter marry a hash of love, art, and starvation–I

believe you have nothing else to offer.”

“Sir, I am poor, I grant you. But is fame nothing? The Hon. Bellamy

Foodle of Arkansas says that my new statue of America, is a clever piece

of sculpture, and he is satisfied that my name will one day be famous.”

“Bosh! What does that Arkansas ass know about it? Fame’s nothing–the

market price of your marble scarecrow is the thing to look at. It took

you six months to chisel it, and you can’t sell it for a hundred dollars.

No, sir! Show me fifty thousand dollars and you can have my daughter–

otherwise she marries young Simper. You have just six months to raise

the money in. Good morning, sir.”

“Alas! Woe is me!”


[ Scene-The Studio.]

“Oh, John, friend of my boyhood, I am the unhappiest of men.”

“You’re a simpleton!”

“I have nothing left to love but my poor statue of America–and see, even

she has no sympathy for me in her cold marble countenance–so beautiful

and so heartless!”

“You’re a dummy!”

“Oh, John!”

Oh, fudge! Didn’t you say you had six months to raise the money in?”

“Don’t deride my agony, John. If I had six centuries what good would it

do? How could it help a poor wretch without name, capital, or friends?”

“Idiot! Coward! Baby! Six months to raise the money in–and five will


“Are you insane?”

“Six months–an abundance. Leave it to me. I’ll raise it.”

“What do you mean, John? How on earth can you raise such a monstrous sum

for me?”

“Will you let that be my business, and not meddle? Will you leave the

thing in my hands? Will you swear to submit to whatever I do? Will you

pledge me to find no fault with my actions?”

“I am dizzy–bewildered–but I swear.”

John took up a hammer and deliberately smashed the nose of America! He

made another pass and two of her fingers fell to the floor–another, and

part of an ear came away–another, and a row of toes was mangled and

dismembered–another, and the left leg, from the knee down, lay a

fragmentary ruin!

John put on his hat and departed.

George gazed speechless upon the battered and grotesque nightmare before

him for the space of thirty seconds, and then wilted to the floor and

went into convulsions.

John returned presently with a carriage, got the broken-hearted artist

and the broken-legged statue aboard, and drove off, whistling low and


He left the artist at his lodgings, and drove off and disappeared down

the Via Quirinalis with the statue.


[Scene–The Studio.]

“The six months will be up at two o’clock to-day! Oh, agony! My life is

blighted. I would that I were dead. I had no supper yesterday. I have

had no breakfast to-day. I dare not enter an eating-house. And hungry?

–don’t mention it! My bootmaker duns me to death–my tailor duns me–

my landlord haunts me. I am miserable. I haven’t seen John since that

awful day. She smiles on me tenderly when we meet in the great

thoroughfares, but her old flint of a father makes her look in the other

direction in short order. Now who is knocking at that door? Who is come

to persecute me? That malignant villain the bootmaker, I’ll warrant.

Come in!”

“Ah, happiness attend your highness–Heaven be propitious to your grace!

I have brought my lord’s new boots–ah, say nothing about the pay, there

is no hurry, none in the world. Shall be proud if my noble lord will

continue to honor me with his custom–ah, adieu!”

“Brought the boots himself! Don’t wait his pay! Takes his leave with a

bow and a scrape fit to honor majesty withal! Desires a continuance of

my custom! Is the world coming to an end? Of all the–come in!”

“Pardon, signore, but I have brought your new suit of clothes for–”

“Come in!”

“A thousand pardons for this intrusion, your worship. But I have

prepared the beautiful suite of rooms below for you–this wretched den is

but ill suited to–”

“Come in!”

“I have called to say that your credit at our bank, some time since

unfortunately interrupted, is entirely and most satisfactorily restored,

and we shall be most happy if you will draw upon us for any–”


“My noble boy, she is yours! She’ll be here in a moment! Take her–

marry her–love her–be happy!–God bless you both! Hip, hip, hur–”

“COME IN!!!!!”

“Oh, George, my own darling, we are saved!”

“Oh, Mary, my own darling, we are saved–but I’ll swear I don’t know why

nor how!”


[Scene-A Roman Caf‚.]

One of a group of American gentlemen reads and translates from the weekly

edition of ‘Il Slangwhanger di Roma’ as follows:

WONDERFUL DISCOVERY–Some six months ago Signor John Smitthe, an American

gentleman now some years a resident of Rome, purchased for a trifle a

small piece of ground in the Campagna, just beyond the tomb of the Scipio

family, from the owner, a bankrupt relative of the Princess Borghese.

Mr. Smitthe afterward went to the Minister of the Public Records and had

the piece of ground transferred to a poor American artist named George

Arnold, explaining that he did it as payment and satisfaction for

pecuniary damage accidentally done by him long since upon property

belonging to Signor Arnold, and further observed that he would make

additional satisfaction by improving the ground for Signor A., at his own

charge and cost. Four weeks ago, while making some necessary excavations

upon the property, Signor Smitthe unearthed the most remarkable ancient

statue that has ever bees added to the opulent art treasures of Rome.

It was an exquisite figure of a woman, and though sadly stained by the

soil and the mold of ages, no eye can look unmoved upon its ravishing

beauty. The nose, the left leg from the knee down, an ear, and also the

toes of the right foot and two fingers of one of the hands were gone,

but otherwise the noble figure was in a remarkable state of preservation.

The government at once took military possession of the statue, and

appointed a commission of art-critics, antiquaries, and cardinal princes

of the church to assess its value and determine the remuneration that

must go to the owner of the ground in which it was found. The whole

affair was kept a profound secret until last night. In the mean time the

commission sat with closed doors and deliberated. Last night they

decided unanimously that the statue is a Venus, and the work of some

unknown but sublimely gifted artist of the third century before Christ.

They consider it the most faultless work of art the world has any

knowledge of.

At midnight they held a final conference and, decided that the Venus was

worth the enormous sum of ten million francs! In accordance with Roman

law and Roman usage, the government being half-owner in all works of art

found in the Campagna, the State has naught to do but pay five million

francs to Mr. Arnold and take permanent possession of the beautiful

statue. This morning the Venus will be removed to the Capitol, there to

remain, and at noon the commission will wait upon Signor Arnold with His

Holiness the Pope’s order upon the Treasury for the princely sum of five

million francs is gold!

Chorus of Voices.–“Luck! It’s no name for it!”

Another Voice.–” Gentlemen, I propose that we immediately form an

American joint-stock company for the purchase of lands and excavations of

statues here, with proper connections in Wall Street to bull and bear the




[Scene–The Roman Capitol Ten Years Later.]

“Dearest Mary, this is the most celebrated statue in the world. This is

the renowned ‘Capitoline Venus’ you’ve heard so much about. Here she is

with her little blemishes ‘restored’ (that is, patched) by the most noted

Roman artists–and the mere fact that they did the humble patching of so

noble a creation will make their names illustrious while the world

stands. How strange it seems this place! The day before I last stood

here, ten happy years ago, I wasn’t a rich man bless your soul, I hadn’t

a cent. And yet I had a good deal to do with making Rome mistress of

this grandest work of ancient art the world contains.”

“The worshiped, the illustrious Capitoline Venus–and what a sum she is

valued at! Ten millions of francs!”

“Yes–now she is.”

“And oh, Georgy, how divinely beautiful she is!”

“Ah, yes but nothing to what she was before that blessed John Smith broke

her leg and battered her nose. Ingenious Smith!–gifted Smith!–noble

Smith! Author of all our bliss! Hark! Do you know what that wheeze

means? Mary, that cub has got the whooping-cough. Will you never learn

to take care of the children!”


The Capitoline Venus is still in the Capitol at Rome, and is still the

most charming and most illustrious work of ancient art the world can

boast of. But if ever it shall be your fortune to stand before it and go

into the customary ecstasies over it, don’t permit this true and secret

history of its origin to mar your bliss–and when you read about a

gigantic Petrified man being dug up near Syracuse, in the State of New

York, or near any other place, keep your own counsel–and if the Barnum

that buried him there offers to sell to you at an enormous sum, don’t you

buy. Send him to the Pope!

[NOTE.–The above sketch was written at the time the famous swindle of


“Petrified Giant” was the sensation of the day in the United States]



GENTLEMEN: I am glad, indeed, to assist in welcoming the distinguished

guest of this occasion to a city whose fame as an insurance center has

extended to all lands, and given us the name of being a quadruple band of

brothers working sweetly hand in hand–the Colt’s Arms Company making the

destruction of our race easy and convenient, our life insurance citizens

paying for the victims when they pass away, Mr. Batterson perpetuating

their memory with his stately monuments, and our fire-insurance comrades

taking care of their hereafter. I am glad to assist in welcoming our

guest first, because he is an Englishman, and I owe a heavy debt of

hospitality to certain of his fellow-countrymen; and secondly, because he

is in sympathy with insurance and has been the means of making may other

men cast their sympathies in the same direction.

Certainly there is no nobler field for human effort than the insurance

line of business–especially accident insurance. Ever since I have been

a director in an accident-insurance company I have felt that I am a

better man. Life has seemed more precious. Accidents have assumed a

kindlier aspect. Distressing special providences have lost half their

horror. I look upon a cripple now with affectionate interest–as an

advertisement. I do not seem to care for poetry any more. I do not care

for politics–even agriculture does not excite me. But to me now there

is a charm about a railway collision that is unspeakable.

There is nothing more beneficent than accident insurance. I have seen an

entire family lifted out of poverty and into affluence by the simple boon

of a broken leg. I have had people come to me on crutches, with tears in

their eyes, to bless this beneficent institution. In all my experience

of life, I have seen nothing so seraphic as the look that comes into a

freshly mutilated man’s face when he feels in his vest pocket with his

remaining hand and finds his accident ticket all right. And I have seen

nothing so sad as the look that came into another splintered customer’s

face when he found he couldn’t collect on a wooden leg.

I will remark here, by way of advertisement, that that noble charity


speaker is a director of the company named.]–is an institution which is

peculiarly to be depended upon. A man is bound to prosper who gives it

his custom.

No man can take out a policy in it and not get crippled before the year

is out. Now there was one indigent man who had been disappointed so

often with other companies that he had grown disheartened, his appetite

left him, he ceased to smile– life was but a weariness. Three weeks ago

I got him to insure with us, and now he is the brightest, happiest spirit

in this land has a good steady income and a stylish suit of new bandages

every day, and travels around on a shutter.

I will say, in conclusion, that my share of the welcome to our guest is

none the less hearty because I talk so much nonsense, and I know that I

can say the same for the rest of the speakers.


As I passed along by one of those monster American tea stores in New

York, I found a Chinaman sitting before it acting in the capacity of a

sign. Everybody that passed by gave him a steady stare as long as their

heads would twist over their shoulders without dislocating their necks,

and a group had stopped to stare deliberately.

Is it not a shame that we, who prate so much about civilization and

humanity, are content to degrade a fellow-being to such an office as

this? Is it not time for reflection when we find ourselves willing to

see in such a being matter for frivolous curiosity instead of regret and

grave reflection? Here was a poor creature whom hard fortune had exiled

from his natural home beyond the seas, and whose troubles ought to have

touched these idle strangers that thronged about him; but did it?

Apparently not. Men calling themselves the superior race, the race of

culture and of gentle blood, scanned his quaint Chinese hat, with peaked

roof and ball on top, and his long queue dangling down his back; his

short silken blouse, curiously frogged and figured (and, like the rest of

his raiment, rusty, dilapidated, and awkwardly put on); his blue cotton,

tight-legged pants, tied close around the ankles; and his clumsy blunt-

toed shoes with thick cork soles; and having so scanned him from head to

foot, cracked some unseemly joke about his outlandish attire or his

melancholy face, and passed on. In my heart I pitied the friendless

Mongol. I wondered what was passing behind his sad face, and what

distant scene his vacant eye was dreaming of. Were his thoughts with his

heart, ten thousand miles away, beyond the billowy wastes of the Pacific?

among the ricefields and the plumy palms of China? under the shadows of

remembered mountain peaks, or in groves of bloomy shrubs and strange

forest trees unknown to climes like ours? And now and then, rippling

among his visions and his dreams, did he hear familiar laughter and half-

forgotten voices, and did he catch fitful glimpses of the friendly faces

of a bygone time? A cruel fate it is, I said, that is befallen this

bronzed wanderer. In order that the group of idlers might be touched at

least by the words of the poor fellow, since the appeal of his pauper

dress and his dreary exile was lost upon them, I touched him on the

shoulder and said:

“Cheer up–don’t be downhearted. It is not America that treats you in

this way, it is merely one citizen, whose greed of gain has eaten the

humanity out of his heart. America has a broader hospitality for the

exiled and oppressed. America and Americans are always ready to help the

unfortunate. Money shall be raised–you shall go back to China you shall

see your friends again. What wages do they pay you here?”

“Divil a cint but four dollars a week and find meself; but it’s aisy,

barrin’ the troublesome furrin clothes that’s so expinsive.”

The exile remains at his post. The New York tea merchants who need

picturesque signs are not likely to run out of Chinamen.


I did not take temporary editorship of an agricultural paper without

misgivings. Neither would a landsman take command of a ship without

misgivings. But I was in circumstances that made the salary an object.

The regular editor of the paper was going off for a holiday, and I

accepted the terms he offered, and took his place.

The sensation of being at work again was luxurious, and I wrought all the

week with unflagging pleasure. We went to press, and I waited a day with

some solicitude to see whether my effort was going to attract any notice.

As I left the office, toward sundown, a group of men and boys at the foot

of the stairs dispersed with one impulse, and gave me passageway, and I

heard one or two of them say: “That’s him!” I was naturally pleased by

this incident. The next morning I found a similar group at the foot of

the stairs, and scattering couples and individuals standing here and

there in the street and over the way, watching me with interest. The

group separated and fell back as I approached, and I heard a man say,

“Look at his eye!” I pretended not to observe the notice I was

attracting, but secretly I was pleased with it, and was purposing to

write an account of it to my aunt. I went up the short flight of stairs,

and heard cheery voices and a ringing laugh as I drew near the door,

which I opened, and caught a glimpse of two young rural-looking men,

whose faces blanched and lengthened when they saw me, and then they both

plunged through the window with a great crash. I was surprised.

In about half an hour an old gentleman, with a flowing beard and a fine

but rather austere face, entered, and sat down at my invitation. He

seemed to have something on his mind. He took off his hat and set it on

the floor, and got out of it a red silk handkerchief and a copy of our


He put the paper on his lap, and while he polished his spectacles with

his handkerchief he said, “Are you the new editor?”

I said I was.

“Have you ever edited an agricultural paper before?”

“No,” I said; “this is my first attempt.”

“Very likely. Have you had any experience in agriculture practically?”

“No; I believe I have not.”

“Some instinct told me so,” said the old gentleman, putting on his

spectacles, and looking over them at me with asperity, while he folded

his paper into a convenient shape. “I wish to read you what must have

made me have that instinct. It was this editorial. Listen, and see if

it was you that wrote it:

“‘Turnips should never be pulled, it injures them. It is much

better to send a boy up and let him shake the tree.’

“Now, what do you think of that? for I really suppose you wrote it?”

“Think of it? Why, I think it is good. I think it is sense. I have no

doubt that every year millions and millions of bushels of turnips are

spoiled in this township alone by being pulled in a half-ripe condition,

when, if they had sent a boy up to shake the tree–”

“Shake your grandmother! Turnips don’t grow on trees!”

“Oh, they don’t, don’t they? Well, who said they did? The language was

intended to be figurative, wholly figurative. Anybody that knows

anything will know that I meant that the boy should shake the vine.”

Then this old person got up and tore his paper all into small shreds, and

stamped on them, and broke several things with his cane, and said I did

not know as much as a cow; and then went–out and banged the door after

him, and, in short, acted in such a way that I fancied he was displeased

about something. But not knowing what the trouble was, I could not be

any help to him.

Pretty soon after this a long, cadaverous creature, with lanky locks

hanging down to his shoulders, and a week’s stubble bristling from the

hills and valleys of his face, darted within the door, and halted,

motionless, with finger on lip, and head and body bent in listening

attitude. No sound was heard.

Still he listened. No sound. Then he turned the key in the door, and

came elaborately tiptoeing toward me till he was within long reaching

distance of me, when he stopped and, after scanning my face with intense

interest for a while, drew a folded copy of our paper from his bosom, and


“There, you wrote that. Read it to me–quick! Relieve me. I suffer.”

I read as follows; and as the sentences fell from my lips I could see the

relief come, I could see the drawn muscles relax, and the anxiety go out

of the face, and rest and peace steal over the features like the merciful

moonlight over a desolate landscape:

The guano is a fine bird, but great care is necessary in rearing it.

It should not be imported earlier than June or later than September.

In the winter it should be kept in a warm place, where it can hatch

out its young.

It is evident that we are to have a backward season for grain.

Therefore it will be well for the farmer to begin setting out his

corn-stalks and planting his buckwheat cakes in July instead of


Concerning the pumpkin. This berry is a favorite with the natives

of the interior of New England, who prefer it to the gooseberry for

the making of fruit-cake, and who likewise give it the preference

over the raspberry for feeding cows, as being more filling and fully

as satisfying. The pumpkin is the only esculent of the orange

family that will thrive in the North, except the gourd and one or

two varieties of the squash. But the custom of planting it in the

front yard with the shrubbery is fast going out of vogue, for it is

now generally conceded that, the pumpkin as a shade tree is a


Now, as the warm weather approaches, and the ganders begin to


The excited listener sprang toward me to shake hands, and said:

“There, there–that will do. I know I am all right now, because you have

read it just as I did, word, for word. But, stranger, when I first read

it this morning, I said to myself, I never, never believed it before,

notwithstanding my friends kept me under watch so strict, but now I

believe I am crazy; and with that I fetched a howl that you might have

heard two miles, and started out to kill somebody–because, you know,

I knew it would come to that sooner or later, and so I might as well

begin. I read one of them paragraphs over again, so as to be certain,

and then I burned my house down and started. I have crippled several

people, and have got one fellow up a tree, where I can get him if I want

him. But I thought I would call in here as I passed along and make the

thing perfectly certain; and now it is certain, and I tell you it is

lucky for the chap that is in the tree. I should have killed him sure,

as I went back. Good-by, sir, good-by; you have taken a great load off

my mind. My reason has stood the strain of one of your agricultural

articles, and I know that nothing can ever unseat it now. Good-by, sir.”

I felt a little uncomfortable about the cripplings and arsons this person

had been entertaining himself with, for I could not help feeling remotely

accessory to them. But these thoughts were quickly banished, for the

regular editor walked in! [I thought to myself, Now if you had gone to

Egypt as I recommended you to, I might have had a chance to get my hand

in; but you wouldn’t do it, and here you are. I sort of expected you.]

The editor was looking sad and perplexed and dejected.

He surveyed the wreck which that old rioter and those two young farmers

had made, and then said “This is a sad business–a very sad business.

There is the mucilage-bottle broken, and six panes of glass, and a

spittoon, and two candlesticks. But that is not the worst. The

reputation of the paper is injured–and permanently, I fear. True, there

never was such a call for the paper before, and it never sold such a

large edition or soared to such celebrity; but does one want to be famous

for lunacy, and prosper upon the infirmities of his mind? My friend, as

I am an honest man, the street out here is full of people, and others are

roosting on the fences, waiting to get a glimpse of you, because they

think you are crazy. And well they might after reading your editorials.

They are a disgrace to journalism. Why, what put it into your head that

you could edit a paper of this nature? You do not seem to know the first

rudiments of agriculture. You speak of a furrow and a harrow as being

the same thing; you talk of the moulting season for cows; and you

recommend the domestication of the pole-cat on account of its playfulness

and its excellence as a ratter! Your remark that clams will lie quiet if

music be played to them was superfluous–entirely superfluous. Nothing

disturbs clams. Clams always lie quiet. Clams care nothing whatever

about music. Ah, heavens and earth, friend! if you had made the

acquiring of ignorance the study of your life, you could not have

graduated with higher honor than you could to-day. I never saw anything

like it. Your observation that the horse-chestnut as an article of

commerce is steadily gaining in favor is simply calculated to destroy

this journal. I want you to throw up your situation and go. I want no

more holiday–I could not enjoy it if I had it. Certainly not with you

in my chair. I would always stand in dread of what you might be going to

recommend next. It makes me lose all patience every time I think of your

discussing oyster-beds under the head of ‘Landscape Gardening.’ I want

you to go. Nothing on earth could persuade me to take another holiday.

Oh! why didn’t you tell me you didn’t know anything about agriculture?”

“Tell you, you corn-stalk, you cabbage, you son of a cauliflower? It’s

the first time I ever heard such an unfeeling remark. I tell you I have

been in the editorial business going on fourteen years, and it is the

first time I ever heard of a man’s having to know anything in order to

edit a newspaper. You turnip! Who write the dramatic critiques for the

second-rate papers? Why, a parcel of promoted shoemakers and apprentice

apothecaries, who know just as much about good acting as I do about good

farming and no more. Who review the books? People who never wrote one.

Who do up the heavy leaders on finance? Parties who have had the largest

opportunities for knowing nothing about it. Who criticize the Indian

campaigns? Gentlemen who do not know a war-whoop from a wigwam, and who

never have had to run a foot-race with a tomahawk, or pluck arrows out of

the several members of their families to build the evening camp-fire

with. Who write the temperance appeals, and clamor about the flowing

bowl? Folks who will never draw another sober breath till they do it in

the grave. Who edit the agricultural papers, you–yam? Men, as a

general thing, who fail in the poetry line, yellow-colored novel line,

sensation, drama line, city-editor line, and finally fall back on

agriculture as a temporary reprieve from the poorhouse. You try to tell

me anything about the newspaper business! Sir, I have been through it

from Alpha to Omaha, and I tell you that the less a man knows the bigger

the noise he makes and the higher the salary he commands. Heaven knows

if I had but been ignorant instead of cultivated, and impudent instead of

diffident, I could have made a name for myself in this cold, selfish

world. I take my leave, sir. Since I have been treated as you have

treated me, I am perfectly willing to go. But I have done my duty. I

have fulfilled my contract as far as I was permitted to do it. I said I

could make your paper of interest to all classes–and I have. I said I

could run your circulation up to twenty thousand copies, and if I had had

two more weeks I’d have done it. And I’d have given you the best class

of readers that ever an agricultural paper had–not a farmer in it, nor a

solitary individual who could tell a watermelon-tree from a peach-vine to

save his life. You are the loser by this rupture, not me, Pie-plant.


I then left.


Now, to show how really hard it is to foist a moral or a truth upon an

unsuspecting public through a burlesque without entirely and absurdly

missing one’s mark, I will here set down two experiences of my own in

this thing. In the fall of 1862, in Nevada and California, the people

got to running wild about extraordinary petrifactions and other natural

marvels. One could scarcely pick up a paper without finding in it one or

two glorified discoveries of this kind. The mania was becoming a little

ridiculous. I was a brand-new local editor in Virginia City, and I felt

called upon to destroy this growing evil; we all have our benignant,

fatherly moods at one time or another, I suppose. I chose to kill the

petrifaction mania with a delicate, a very delicate satire. But maybe it

was altogether too delicate, for nobody ever perceived the satire part of

it at all. I put my scheme in the shape of the discovery of a remarkably

petrified man.

I had had a temporary falling out with Mr.—-, the new coroner and

justice of the peace of Humboldt, and thought I might as well touch him

up a little at the same time and make him ridiculous, and thus combine

pleasure with business. So I told, in patient, belief-compelling detail,

all about the finding of a petrified-man at Gravelly Ford (exactly a

hundred and twenty miles, over a breakneck mountain trail from where —-

lived); how all the savants of the immediate neighborhood had been to

examine it (it was notorious that there was not a living creature within

fifty miles of there, except a few starving Indians; some crippled

grasshoppers, and four or five buzzards out of meat and too feeble to get

away); how those savants all pronounced the petrified man to have been in

a state of complete petrifaction for over ten generations; and then, with

a seriousness that I ought to have been ashamed to assume, I stated that

as soon as Mr.—- heard the news he summoned a jury, mounted his mule,

and posted off, with noble reverence for official duty, on that awful

five days’ journey, through alkali, sage brush, peril of body, and

imminent starvation, to hold an inquest on this man that had been dead

and turned to everlasting stone for more than three hundred years!

And then, my hand being “in,” so to speak, I went on, with the same

unflinching gravity, to state that the jury returned a verdict that

deceased came to his death from protracted exposure. This only moved me

to higher flights of imagination, and I said that the jury, with that

charity so characteristic of pioneers, then dug a grave, and were about

to give the petrified man Christian burial, when they found that for ages

a limestone sediment had been trickling down the face of the stone

against which he was sitting, and this stuff had run under him and

cemented him fast to the “bed-rock”; that the jury (they were all silver-

miners) canvassed the difficulty a moment, and then got out their powder

and fuse, and proceeded to drill a hole under him, in order to blast him

from his position, when Mr.—-, “with that delicacy so characteristic of

him, forbade them, observing that it would be little less than sacrilege

to do such a thing.”

From beginning to end the “Petrified Man” squib was a string of roaring

absurdities, albeit they were told with an unfair pretense of truth that

even imposed upon me to some extent, and I was in some danger of

believing in my own fraud. But I really had no desire to deceive

anybody, and no expectation of doing it. I depended on the way the

petrified man was sitting to explain to the public that he was a swindle.

Yet I purposely mixed that up with other things, hoping to make it

obscure–and I did. I would describe the position of one foot, and then

say his right thumb was against the side of his nose; then talk about his

other foot, and presently come back and say the fingers of his right hand

were spread apart; then talk about the back of his head a little, and

return and say the left thumb was hooked into the right little finger;

then ramble off about something else, and by and by drift back again and

remark that the fingers of the left hand were spread like those of the

right. But I was too ingenious. I mixed it up rather too much; and so

all that description of the attitude, as a key to the humbuggery of the

article, was entirely lost, for nobody but me ever discovered and

comprehended the peculiar and suggestive position of the petrified man’s


As a satire on the petrifaction mania, or anything else, my petrified Man

was a disheartening failure; for everybody received him in innocent good

faith, and I was stunned to see the creature I had begotten to pull down

the wonder-business with, and bring derision upon it, calmly exalted to

the grand chief place in the list of the genuine marvels our Nevada had

produced. I was so disappointed at the curious miscarriage of my scheme,

that at first I was angry, and did not like to think about it; but by and

by, when the exchanges began to come in with the Petrified Man copied and

guilelessly glorified, I began to feel a soothing secret satisfaction;

and as my gentleman’s field of travels broadened, and by the exchanges I

saw that he steadily and implacably penetrated territory after territory,

state after state, and land after land, till he swept the great globe and

culminated in sublime and unimpeached legitimacy in the august London

Lancet, my cup was full, and I said I was glad I had done it. I think

that for about eleven months, as nearly as I can remember, Mr.—-‘s

daily mail-bag continued to be swollen by the addition of half a bushel

of newspapers hailing from many climes with the Petrified Man in them,

marked around with a prominent belt of ink. I sent them to him. I did

it for spite, not for fun.

He used to shovel them into his back yard and curse. And every day

during all those months the miners, his constituents (for miners never

quit joking a person when they get started), would call on him and ask if

he could tell them where they could get hold of a paper with the

Petrified Man in it. He could have accommodated a continent with them.

I hated —– in those days, and these things pacified me and pleased me.

I could not have gotten more real comfort out of him without killing him.


The other burlesque I have referred to was my fine satire upon the

financial expedients of “cooking dividends,” a thing which became

shamefully frequent on the Pacific coast for a while. Once more, in my

self-complacent simplicity I felt that the time had arrived for me to

rise up and be a reformer. I put this reformatory satire, in the shape

of a fearful “Massacre at Empire City.” The San Francisco papers were

making a great outcry about the iniquity of the Daney Silver-Mining

Company, whose directors had declared a “cooked” or false dividend, for

the purpose of increasing the value of their stock, so that they could

sell out at a comfortable figure, and then scramble from under the

tumbling concern. And while abusing the Daney, those papers did not

forget to urge the public to get rid of all their silver stocks and

invest in, sound and safe San Francisco stocks, such as the Spring Valley

Water Company, etc. But right at this unfortunate juncture, behold the

Spring Valley cooked a dividend too! And so, under the insidious mask of

an invented “bloody massacre,” I stole upon the public unawares with my

scathing satire upon the dividend cooking system. In about half a column

of imaginary human carnage I told how a citizen hard murdered his wife

and nine children, and then committed suicide. And I said slyly, at the

bottom, that the sudden madness of which this melancholy massacre was the

result had been brought about by his having allowed himself to be

persuaded by the California papers to sell his sound and lucrative Nevada

silver stocks, and buy into Spring Valley just in time to get cooked

along with that company’s fancy dividend, and sink every cent he had in

the world.

Ah, it was a deep, deep satire, and most ingeniously contrived. But I

made the horrible details so carefully and conscientiously interesting

that the public devoured them greedily, and wholly overlooked the

following distinctly stated facts, to wit: The murderer was perfectly

well known to every creature in the land as a bachelor, and consequently

he could not murder his wife and nine children; he murdered them “in his

splendid dressed-stone mansion just in the edge of the great pine forest

between Empire City and Dutch Nick’s,” when even the very pickled oysters

that came on our tables knew that there was not a “dressed-stone mansion”

in all Nevada Territory; also that, so far from there being a “great pine

forest between Empire City and Dutch Nick’s,” there wasn’t a solitary

tree within fifteen miles of either place; and, finally, it was patent

and notorious that Empire City and Dutch Nick’s were one and the same

place, and contained only six houses anyhow, and consequently there could

be no forest between them; and on top of all these absurdities I stated

that this diabolical murderer, after inflicting a wound upon himself that

the reader ought to have seen would kill an elephant in the twinkling of

an eye, jumped on his horse and rode four miles, waving his wife’s

reeking scalp in the air, and thus performing entered Carson City with

tremendous eclat, and dropped dead in front of the chief saloon, the envy

and admiration of all beholders.

Well, in all my life I never saw anything like the sensation that little

satire created. It was the talk of the town, it was the talk of the

territory. Most of the citizens dropped gently into it at breakfast, and

they never finished their meal. There was something about those minutely

faithful details that was a sufficing substitute for food. Few people

that were able to read took food that morning. Dan and I (Dan was my

reportorial associate) took our seats on either side of our customary

table in the “Eagle Restaurant,” and, as I unfolded the shred they used

to call a napkin in that establishment, I saw at the next table two

stalwart innocents with that sort of vegetable dandruff sprinkled about

their clothing which was the sign and evidence that they were in from the

Truckee with a load of hay. The one facing me had the morning paper

folded to a long, narrow strip, and I knew, without any telling, that

that strip represented the column that contained my pleasant financial

satire. From the way he was excitedly mumbling, I saw that the heedless

son of a hay-mow was skipping with all his might, in order to get to the

bloody details as quickly as possible; and so he was missing the guide-

boards I had set up to warn him that the whole thing was a fraud.

Presently his eyes spread wide open, just as his jaws swung asunder to

take in a potato approaching it on a fork; the potato halted, the face

lit up redly, and the whole man was on fire with excitement. Then he

broke into a disjointed checking off of the particulars–his potato

cooling in mid-air meantime, and his mouth making a reach for it

occasionally; but always bringing up suddenly against a new and still

more direful performance of my hero. At last he looked his stunned and

rigid comrade impressively in the face, and said, with an expression of

concentrated awe:

“Jim, he b’iled his baby, and he took the old ‘oman’s skelp. Cuss’d if I

want any breakfast!”

And he laid his lingering potato reverently down, and he and his friend

departed from the restaurant empty but satisfied.

He never got down to where the satire part of it began. Nobody ever did.

They found the thrilling particulars sufficient. To drop in with a poor

little moral at the fag-end of such a gorgeous massacre was like

following the expiring sun with a candle and hope to attract the world’s

attention to it.

The idea that anybody could ever take my massacre for a genuine

occurrence never once suggested itself to me, hedged about as it was by

all those telltale absurdities and impossibilities concerning the “great

pine forest,” the “dressed-stone mansion,” etc. But I found out then,

and never have forgotten since, that we never read the dull explanatory

surroundings of marvelously exciting things when we have no occasion to

suppose that some irresponsible scribbler is trying to defraud us; we

skip all that, and hasten to revel in the blood-curdling particulars and

be happy.


“Now that corpse,” said the undertaker, patting the folded hands of

deceased approvingly, was a brick-every way you took him he was a brick.

He was so real accommodating, and so modest-like and simple in his last

moments. Friends wanted metallic burial-case–nothing else would do.

I couldn’t get it. There warn’t going to be time–anybody could see


“Corpse said never mind, shake him up some kind of a box he could stretch

out in comfortable, he warn’t particular ’bout the general style of it.

Said he went more on room than style, anyway in a last final container.

“Friends wanted a silver door-plate on the coffin, signifying who he was

and wher’ he was from. Now you know a fellow couldn’t roust out such a

gaily thing as that in a little country-town like this. What did corpse


“Corpse said, whitewash his old canoe and dob his address and general

destination onto it with a blacking-brush and a stencil-plate, ‘long with

a verse from some likely hymn or other, and pint him for the tomb, and

mark him C. O. D., and just let him flicker. He warn’t distressed any

more than you be–on the contrary, just as ca,’m and collected as a

hearse-horse; said he judged that wher’ he was going to a body would find

it considerable better to attract attention by a picturesque moral

character than a natty burial-case with a swell door-plate on it.

“Splendid man, he was. I’d druther do for a corpse like that ‘n any I’ve

tackled in seven year. There’s some satisfaction in buryin’ a man like

that. You feel that what you’re doing is appreciated. Lord bless you,

so’s he got planted before he sp’iled, he was perfectly satisfied; said

his relations meant well, perfectly well, but all them preparations was

bound to delay the thing more or less, and he didn’t wish to be kept

layin’ around. You never see such a clear head as what he had–and so

ca,’m and so cool. Jist a hunk of brains–that is what he was.

Perfectly awful. It was a ripping distance from one end of that man’s

head to t’other. Often and over again he’s had brain-fever a-raging in

one place, and the rest of the pile didn’t know anything about it–didn’t

affect it any more than an Injun Insurrection in Arizona affects the

Atlantic States. “Well, the relations they wanted a big funeral, but

corpse said he was down on flummery–didn,’t want any procession–fill

the hearse full of mourners, and get out a stern line and tow him behind.

He was the most down on style of any remains I ever struck. A beautiful,

simpleminded creature it was what he was, you can depend on that. He was

just set on having things the way he wanted them, and he took a solid

comfort in laying his little plans. He had me measure him and take a

whole raft of directions; then he had the minister stand up behind along

box with a table–cloth over it, to represent the coffin, and read his

funeral sermon, saying ‘Angcore, angcore!’ at the good places, and making

him scratch out every bit of brag about him, and all the hifalutin; and

then he made them trot out the choir, so’s he could help them pick out

the tunes for the occasion, and he got them to sing ‘Pop Goes the

Weasel,’ because he’d always liked that tune when he was downhearted, and

solemn music made him sad; and when they sung that with tears in their

eyes (because they all loved him), and his relations grieving around, he

just laid there as happy as a bug, and trying to beat time and showing

all over how much he enjoyed it; and presently he got worked up and

excited, and tried to join in, for, mind you, he was pretty proud of his

abilities in the singing line; but the first time he opened his mouth and

was just going to spread himself his breath took a walk.

“I never see a man snuffed out so sudden. Ah, it was a great loss–a,

powerful loss to this poor little one-horse town. Well, well, well, I

hain’t got time to be palavering along here–got to nail on the lid and

mosey along with him; and if you’ll just give me a lift we’ll skeet him

into the hearse and meander along. Relations bound to have it so–don’t

pay no attention to dying injunctions, minute a corpse’s gone; but, if I

had my way, if I didn’t respect his last wishes and tow him behind the

hearse I’ll be cuss’d. I consider that whatever a corpse wants done for

his comfort is little enough matter, and a man hain’t got no right to

deceive him or take advantage of him; and whatever a corpse trusts me to

do I’m a-going to do, you know, even if it’s to stuff him and paint him

yaller and keep him for a keepsake–you hear me!”

He cracked his whip and went lumbering away with his ancient ruin of a

hearse, and I continued my walk with a valuable lesson learned–that a

healthy and wholesome cheerfulness is not necessarily impossible to any

occupation. The lesson is likely to be lasting, for it will take many

months to obliterate the memory of the remarks and circumstances that

impressed it.


Against all chambermaids, of whatsoever age or nationality, I launch the

curse of bachelordom! Because:

They always put the pillows at the opposite end of the bed from the gas-

burner, so that while you read and smoke before sleeping (as is the

ancient and honored custom of bachelors), you have to hold your book

aloft, in an uncomfortable position, to keep the light from dazzling your


When they find the pillows removed to the other end of the bed in the

morning, they receive not the suggestion in a friendly spirit; but,

glorying in their absolute sovereignty, and unpitying your helplessness,

they make the bed just as it was originally, and gloat in secret over the

pang their tyranny will cause you.

Always after that, when they find you have transposed the pillows, they

undo your work, and thus defy and seek to embitter the life that God has

given you.

If they cannot get the light in an inconvenient position any other way,

they move the bed.

If you pull your trunk out six inches from the wall, so that the lid will

stay up when you open it, they always shove that trunk back again. They

do it on purpose.

If you want the spittoon in a certain spot, where it will be handy, they

don’t, and so they move it.

They always put your other boots into inaccessible places. They chiefly

enjoy depositing them as far under the bed as the wall will permit. It

is because this compels you to get down in an undignified attitude and

make wild sweeps for them in the dark with the bootjack, and swear.

They always put the matchbox in some other place. They hunt up a new

place for it every day, and put up a bottle, or other perishable glass

thing, where the box stood before. This is to cause you to break that

glass thing, groping in the dark, and get yourself into trouble.

They are for ever and ever moving the furniture. When you come in in the

night you can calculate on finding the bureau where the wardrobe was in

the morning. And when you go out in the morning, if you leave the slop-

bucket by the door and rocking-chair by the window, when you come in at

midnight or thereabout, you will fall over that rocking-chair, and you

will proceed toward the window and sit down in that slop-tub. This will

disgust you. They like that.

No matter where you put anything, they are not going to let it stay

there. They will take it and move it the first chance they get. It is

their nature. And, besides, it gives them pleasure to be mean and

contrary this way. They would die if they couldn’t be villains.

They always save up all the old scraps of printed rubbish you throw on

the floor, and stack them up carefully on the table, and start the fire

with your valuable manuscripts. If there is any one particular old scrap

that you are more down on than any other, and which you are gradually

wearing your life out trying to get rid of, you may take all the pains

you possibly can in that direction, but it won’t be of any use, because

they will always fetch that old scrap back and put it in the same old

place again every time. It does them good.

And they use up more hair-oil than any six men. If charged with

purloining the same, they lie about it. What do they care about a

hereafter? Absolutely nothing.

If you leave the key in the door for convenience’ sake, they will carry

it down to the office and give it to the clerk. They do this under the

vile pretense of trying to protect your property from thieves; but

actually they do it because they want to make you tramp back down-stairs

after it when you come home tired, or put you to the trouble of sending a

waiter for it, which waiter will expect you to pay him something. In

which case I suppose the degraded creatures divide.

They keep always trying to make your bed before you get up, thus

destroying your rest and inflicting agony upon you; but after you get up,

they don’t come any more till next day.

They do all the mean things they can think of, and they do them just out

of pure cussedness, and nothing else.

Chambermaids are dead to every human instinct.

If I can get a bill through the legislature abolishing chambermaids, I

mean to do it.


The facts in the following case came to me by letter from a young lady

who lives in the beautiful city of San Jose; she is perfectly unknown to

me, and simply signs herself “Aurelia Maria,” which may possibly be a

fictitious name. But no matter, the poor girl is almost heartbroken by

the misfortunes she has undergone, and so confused by the conflicting

counsels of misguided friends and insidious enemies that she does not

know what course to pursue in order to extricate herself from the web of

difficulties in which she seems almost hopelessly involved. In this

dilemma she turns to me for help, and supplicates for my guidance and

instruction with a moving eloquence that would touch the heart of a

statue. Hear her sad story:

She says that when she was sixteen years old she met and loved, with all

the devotion of a passionate nature, a young man from New Jersey, named

Williamson Breckinridge Caruthers, who was some six years her senior.

They were engaged, with the free consent of their friends and relatives,

and for a time it seemed as if their career was destined to, be

characterized by an immunity from sorrow beyond the usual lot of

humanity. But at last the tide of fortune turned; young Caruthers became

infect with smallpox of the most virulent type, and when he recovered

from his illness his face was pitted like a waffle-mold, and his

comeliness gone forever. Aurelia thought to break off the engagement at

first, but pity for her unfortunate lover caused her to postpone the

marriage-day for a season, and give him another trial.

The very day before the wedding was to have taken place, Breckinridge,

while absorbed in watching the flight of a balloon, walked into a well

and fractured one of his legs, and it had to be taken off above the knee.

Again Aurelia was moved to break the engagement, but again love

triumphed, and she set the day forward and gave him another chance to


And again misfortune overtook the unhappy youth. He lost one arm by the

premature discharge of a Fourth of July cannon, and within three months

he got the other pulled out by a carding-machine. Aurelia’s heart was

almost crushed by these latter calamities. She could not but be deeply

grieved to see her lover passing from her by piecemeal, feeling, as she

did, that he could not last forever under this disastrous process of

reduction, yet knowing of no way to stop its dreadful career, and in her

tearful despair she almost regretted, like brokers who hold on and lose,

that she had not taken him at first, before he had suffered such an

alarming depreciation. Still, her brave soul bore her up, and she

resolved to bear with her friend’s unnatural disposition yet a little


Again the wedding-day approached, and again disappointment overshadowed

it; Caruthers fell ill with the erysipelas, and lost the use of one of

his eyes entirely. The friends and relatives of the bride, considering

that she had already put up with more than could reasonably be expected

of her, now came forward and insisted that the match should be broken

off; but after wavering awhile, Aurelia, with a generous spirit which did

her credit, said she had reflected calmly upon the matter, and could not

discover that Breckinridge was to blame.

So she extended the time once more, and he broke his other leg.

It was a sad day for the poor girl when, she saw the surgeons reverently

bearing away the sack whose uses she had learned by previous experience,

and her heart told her the bitter truth that some more of her lover was

gone. She felt that the field of her affections was growing more and

more circumscribed every day, but once more she frowned down her

relatives and renewed her betrothal.

Shortly before the time set for the nuptials another disaster occurred.

There was but one man scalped by the Owens River Indians last year. That

man was Williamson Breckinridge Caruthers of New Jersey. He was hurrying

home with happiness in his heart, when he lost his hair forever, and in

that hour of bitterness he almost cursed the mistaken mercy that had

spared his head.

At last Aurelia is in serious perplexity as to what she ought to do. She

still loves her Breckinridge, she writes, with truly womanly feeling–she

still loves what is left of him but her parents are bitterly opposed to

the match, because he has no property and is disabled from working, and

she has not sufficient means to support both comfortably. “Now, what

should she do?” she asked with painful and anxious solicitude.

It is a delicate question; it is one which involves the lifelong

happiness of a woman, and that of nearly two-thirds of a man, and I feel

that it would be assuming too great a responsibility to do more than make

a mere suggestion in the case. How would it do to build to him? If

Aurelia can afford the expense, let her furnish her mutilated lover with

wooden arms and wooden legs, and a glass eye and a wig, and give him

another show; give him ninety days, without grace, and if he does not

break his neck in the mean time, marry him and take the chances. It does

not seem to me that there is much risk, anyway, Aurelia, because if he

sticks to his singular propensity for damaging himself every time he sees

a good opportunity, his next experiment is bound to finish him, and then

you are safe, married or single. If married, the wooden legs and such

other valuables as he may possess revert to the widow, and you see you

sustain no actual loss save the cherished fragment of a noble but most

unfortunate husband, who honestly strove to do right, but whose

extraordinary instincts were against him. Try it, Maria. I have thought

the matter over carefully and well, and it is the only chance I see for

you. It would have been a happy conceit on the part of Caruthers if he

had started with his neck and broken that first; but since he has seen

fit to choose a different policy and string himself out as long as

possible, I do not think we ought to upbraid him for it if he has enjoyed

it. We must do the best we can under the circumstances, and try not to

feel exasperated at him.


A grand affair of a ball–the Pioneers’–came off at the Occidental some

time ago. The following notes of the costumes worn by the belles of the

occasion may not be uninteresting to the general reader, and Jerkins may

get an idea therefrom:

Mrs. W. M. was attired in an elegant ‘pate de foie gras,’ made expressly

for her, and was greatly admired. Miss S. had her hair done up. She was

the center of attraction for the envy of all the ladies. Mrs. G. W. was

tastefully dressed in a ‘tout ensemble,’ and was greeted with deafening

applause wherever she went. Mrs. C. N. was superbly arrayed in white kid

gloves. Her modest and engaging manner accorded well with the

unpretending simplicity of her costume and caused her to be regarded with

absorbing interest by every one.

The charming Miss M. M. B. appeared in a thrilling waterfall, whose

exceeding grace and volume compelled the homage of pioneers and emigrants

alike. How beautiful she was!

The queenly Mrs. L. R. was attractively attired in her new and beautiful

false teeth, and the ‘bon jour’ effect they naturally produced was

heightened by her enchanting and well-sustained smile.

Miss R. P., with that repugnance to ostentation in dress which is so

peculiar to her, was attired in a simple white lace collar, fastened with

a neat pearl-button solitaire. The fine contrast between the sparkling

vivacity of her natural optic, and the steadfast attentiveness of her

placid glass eye, was the subject of general and enthusiastic remark.

Miss C. L. B. had her fine nose elegantly enameled, and the easy grace

with which she blew it from time to time marked her as a cultivated and

accomplished woman of the world; its exquisitely modulated tone excited

the admiration of all who had the happiness to hear it.


All things change except barbers, the ways of barbers, and the

surroundings of barbers. These never change. What one experiences in a

barber’s shop the first time he enters one is what he always experiences

in barbers’ shops afterward till the end of his days. I got shaved this

morning as usual. A man approached the door from Jones Street as I

approached it from Main–a thing that always happens. I hurried up, but

it was of no use; he entered the door one little step ahead of me, and I

followed in on his heels and saw him take the only vacant chair, the one

presided over by the best barber. It always happens so. I sat down,

hoping that I might fall heir to the chair belonging to the better of the

remaining two barbers, for he had already begun combing his man’s hair,

while his comrade was not yet quite done rubbing up and oiling his

customer’s locks. I watched the probabilities with strong interest.

When I saw that No. 2 was gaining on No. 1 my interest grew to

solicitude. When No. 1 stopped a moment to make change on a bath ticket

for a new-comer, and lost ground in the race, my solicitude rose to

anxiety. When No. 1 caught up again, and both he and his comrade were

pulling the towels away and brushing the powder from their customers’

cheeks, and it was about an even thing which one would say “Next!” first,

my very breath stood still with the suspense. But when at the

culminating moment No. 1 stopped to pass a comb a couple of times through

his customer’s eyebrows, I saw that he had lost the race by a single

instant, and I rose indignant and quitted the shop, to keep from falling

into the hands of No. 2 ; for I have none of that enviable firmness that

enables a man to look calmly into the eyes of a waiting barber and tell

him he will wait for his fellow-barber’s chair.

I stayed out fifteen minutes, and then went back, hoping for better luck.

Of course all the chairs were occupied now, and four men sat waiting,

silent, unsociable, distraught, and looking bored, as men always do who

are waiting their turn in a barber’s shop. I sat down in one of the

iron-armed compartments of an old sofa, and put in the time far a while

reading the framed advertisements of all sorts of quack nostrums for

dyeing and coloring the hair. Then I read the greasy names on the

private bayrum bottles; read the names and noted the numbers on the

private shaving-cups in the pigeonholes; studied the stained and damaged

cheap prints on the walls, of battles, early Presidents, and voluptuous

recumbent sultanas, and the tiresome and everlasting young girl putting

her grandfather’s spectacles on; execrated in my heart the cheerful

canary and the distracting parrot that few barbers’ shops are without.

Finally, I searched out the least dilapidated of last year’s illustrated

papers that littered the foul center-table, and conned their

unjustifiable misrepresentations of old forgotten events.

At last my turn came. A voice said “Next!” and I surrendered to–No. 2,

of course. It always happens so. I said meekly that I was in a hurry,

and it affected him as strongly as if he had never heard it. He shoved

up my head, and put a napkin under it. He plowed his fingers into my

collar and fixed a towel there. He explored my hair with his claws and

suggested that it needed trimming. I said I did not want it trimmed. He

explored again and said it was pretty long for the present style–better

have a little taken off; it needed it behind especially. I said I had

had it cut only a week before. He yearned over it reflectively a moment,

and then asked with a disparaging manner, who cut it? I came back at him

promptly with a “You did!” I had him there. Then he fell to stirring up

his lather and regarding himself in the glass, stopping now and then to

get close and examine his chin critically or inspect a pimple. Then he

lathered one side of my face thoroughly, and was about to lather the

other, when a dog-fight attracted his attention, and he ran to the window

and stayed and saw it out, losing two shillings on the result in bets

with the other barbers, a thing which gave me great satisfaction. He

finished lathering, and then began to rub in the suds with his hand.

He now began to sharpen his razor on an old suspender, and was delayed a

good deal on account of a controversy about a cheap masquerade ball he

had figured at the night before, in red cambric and bogus ermine, as some

kind of a king. He was so gratified with being chaffed about some damsel

whom he had smitten with his charms that he used every means to continue

the controversy by pretending to be annoyed at the chaffings of his

fellows. This matter begot more surveyings of himself in the glass, and

he put down his razor and brushed his hair with elaborate care,

plastering an inverted arch of it down on his forehead, accomplishing an

accurate “Part” behind, and brushing the two wings forward over his ears

with nice exactness. In the mean time the lather was drying on my face,

and apparently eating into my vitals.

Now he began to shave, digging his fingers into my countenance to stretch

the skin and bundling and tumbling my head this way and that as

convenience in shaving demanded. As long as he was on the tough sides of

my face I did not suffer; but when he began to rake, and rip, and tug at

my chin, the tears came. He now made a handle of my nose, to assist him

shaving the corners of my upper lip, and it was by this bit of

circumstantial evidence that I discovered that a part of his duties in

the shop was to clean the kerosene-lamps. I had often wondered in an

indolent way whether the barbers did that, or whether it was the boss.

About this time I was amusing myself trying to guess where he would be

most likely to cut me this time, but he got ahead of me, and sliced me on

the end of the chin before I had got my mind made up. He immediately

sharpened his razor–he might have done it before. I do not like a close

shave, and would not let him go over me a second time. I tried to get

him to put up his razor, dreading that he would make for the side of my

chin, my pet tender spot, a place which a razor cannot touch twice

without making trouble; but he said he only wanted to just smooth off one

little roughness, and in the same moment he slipped his razor along the

forbidden ground, and the dreaded pimple-signs of a close shave rose up

smarting and answered to the call. Now he soaked his towel in bay rum,

and slapped it all over my face nastily; slapped it over as if a human

being ever yet washed his face in that way. Then he dried it by slapping

with the dry part of the towel, as if a human being ever dried his face

in such a fashion; but a barber seldom rubs you like a Christian. Next

he poked bay ruin into the cut place with his towel, then choked the

wound with powdered starch, then soaked it with bay rum again, and would

have gone on soaking and powdering it forevermore, no doubt, if I had not

rebelled and begged off. He powdered my whole face now, straightened me

up, and began to plow my hair thoughtfully with his hands. Then he

suggested a shampoo, and said my hair needed it badly, very badly.

I observed that I shampooed it myself very thoroughly in the bath

yesterday. I “had him” again. He next recommended some of “Smith’s Hair

Glorifier,” and offered to sell me a bottle. I declined. He praised the

new perfume, “Jones’s Delight of the Toilet,” and proposed to sell me

some of that. I declined again. He tendered me a tooth-wash atrocity of

his own invention, and when I declined offered to trade knives with me.

He returned to business after the miscarriage of this last enterprise,

sprinkled me all over, legs and all, greased my hair in defiance of my

protest against it, rubbed and scrubbed a good deal of it out by the

roots, and combed and brushed the rest, parting it behind, and plastering

the eternal inverted arch of hair down on my forehead, and then, while

combing my scant eyebrows and defiling them with pomade, strung out an

account of the achievements of a six-ounce black-and-tan terrier of his

till I heard the whistles blow for noon, and knew I was five minutes too

late for the train. Then he snatched away the towel, brushed it lightly

about my face, passed his comb through my eyebrows once more, and gaily

sang out ” Next!”

This barber fell down and died of apoplexy two hours later. I am waiting

over a day for my revenge–I am going to attend his funeral.


Belfast is a peculiarly religious community. This may be said of the

whole of the North of Ireland. About one-half of the people are

Protestants and the other half Catholics. Each party does all it can to

make its own doctrines popular and draw the affections of the irreligious

toward them. One hears constantly of the most touching instances of this

zeal. A week ago a vast concourse of Catholics assembled at Armagh to

dedicate a new Cathedral; and when they started home again the roadways

were lined with groups of meek and lowly Protestants who stoned them till

all the region round about was marked with blood. I thought that only

Catholics argued in that way, but it seems to be a mistake.

Every man in the community is a missionary and carries a brick to

admonish the erring with. The law has tried to break this up, but not

with perfect success. It has decreed that irritating “party cries” shall

not be indulged in, and that persons uttering them shall be fined forty

shillings and costs. And so, in the police court reports every day, one

sees these fines recorded. Last week a girl of twelve years old was

fined the usual forty shillings and costs for proclaiming in the public

streets that she was “a Protestant.” The usual cry is, “To hell with the

Pope!” or “To hell with the Protestants!” according to the utterer’s

system of salvation.

One of Belfast’s local jokes was very good. It referred to the uniform

and inevitable fine of forty shillings and costs for uttering a party

cry–and it is no economical fine for a poor man, either, by the way.

They say that a policeman found a drunken man lying on the ground, up a

dark alley, entertaining himself with shouting, “To hell with!” “To hell

with!” The officer smelt a fine–informers get half.

“What’s that you say?”

“To hell with!”

“To hell with who? To hell with what?”

“Ah, bedad, ye can finish it yourself–it’s too expansive for me!”

I think the seditious disposition, restrained by the economical instinct,

is finely put in that.


WASHINGTON, December, 1867.

I have resigned. The government appears to go on much the same, but

there is a spoke out of its wheel, nevertheless. I was clerk of the

Senate Committee on Conchology, and I have thrown up the position.

I could see the plainest disposition on the part of the other members of

the government to debar me from having any voice in the counsels of the

nation, and so I could no longer hold office and retain my self-respect.

If I were to detail all the outrages that were heaped upon me during the

six days that I was connected with the government in an official

capacity, the narrative would fill a volume. They appointed me clerk of

that Committee on Conchology and then allowed me no amanuensis to play

billiards with. I would have borne that, lonesome as it was, if I had

met with that courtesy from the other members of the Cabinet which was my

due. But I did not. Whenever I observed that the head of a department

was pursuing a wrong course, I laid down everything and went and tried to

set him right, as it was my duty to do; and I never was thanked for it in

a single instance. I went, with the best intentions in the world, to the

Secretary of the Navy, and said:

“Sir, I cannot see that Admiral Farragut is doing anything but

skirmishing around there in Europe, having a sort of picnic. Now, that

may be all very well, but it does not exhibit itself to me in that light.

If there is no fighting for him to do, let him come home. There is no

use in a man having a whole fleet for a pleasure excursion. It is too

expensive. Mind, I do not object to pleasure excursions for the naval

officers–pleasure excursions that are in reason–pleasure excursions

that are economical. Now, they might go down the Mississippi

on a raft–”

You ought to have heard him storm! One would have supposed I had

committed a crime of some kind. But I didn’t mind. I said it was cheap,

and full of republican simplicity, and perfectly safe. I said that, for

a tranquil pleasure excursion, there was nothing equal to a raft.

Then the Secretary of the Navy asked me who I was; and when I told him I

was connected with the government, he wanted to know in what capacity. I

said that, without remarking upon the singularity of such a question,

coming, as it did, from a member of that same government, I would inform

him that I was clerk of the Senate Committee on Conchology. Then there

was a fine storm! He finished by ordering me to leave the premises, and

give my attention strictly to my own business in future. My first

impulse was to get him removed. However, that would harm others besides

himself, and do me no real good, and so I let him stay.

I went next to the Secretary of War, who was not inclined to see me at

all until he learned that I was connected with the government. If I had

not been on important business, I suppose I could not have got in.

I asked him for alight (he was smoking at the time), and then I told him

I had no fault to find with his defending the parole stipulations of

General Lee and his comrades in arms, but that I could not approve of his

method of fighting the Indians on the Plains. I said he fought too

scattering. He ought to get the Indians more together–get them together

in some convenient place, where he could have provisions enough for both

parties, and then have a general massacre. I said there was nothing so

convincing to an Indian as a general massacre. If he could not approve

of the massacre, I said the next surest thing for an Indian was soap and

education. Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre, but they

are more deadly in the long run; because a half-massacred Indian may

recover, but if you educate him and wash him, it is bound to finish him

some time or other. It undermines his constitution; it strikes at the

foundation of his being. “Sir,” I said, “the time has come when blood-

curdling cruelty has become necessary. Inflict soap and a spelling-book

on every Indian that ravages the Plains, and let them die!”

The Secretary of War asked me if I was a member of the Cabinet, and I

said I was. He inquired what position I held, and I said I was clerk of

the Senate Committee on Conchology. I was then ordered under arrest for

contempt of court, and restrained of my liberty for the best part of the


I almost resolved to be silent thenceforward, and let the Government get

along the best way it could. But duty called, and I obeyed. I called on

the Secretary of the Treasury. He said:

“What will you have?”

The question threw me off my guard. I said, “Rum punch.”

He said: “If you have got any business here, sir, state it–and in as few

words as possible.”

I then said that I was sorry he had seen fit to change the subject so

abruptly, because such conduct was very offensive to me; but under the

circumstances I would overlook the matter and come to the point. I now

went into an earnest expostulation with him upon the extravagant length

of his report. I said it was expensive, unnecessary, and awkwardly

constructed; there were no descriptive passages in it, no poetry, no

sentiment no heroes, no plot, no pictures–not even wood-cuts. Nobody

would read it, that was a clear case. I urged him not to ruin his

reputation by getting out a thing like that. If he ever hoped to succeed

in literature he must throw more variety into his writings. He must

beware of dry detail. I said that the main popularity of the almanac was

derived from its poetry and conundrums, and that a few conundrums

distributed around through his Treasury report would help the sale of it

more than all the internal revenue he could put into it. I said these

things in the kindest spirit, and yet the Secretary of the Treasury fell

into a violent passion. He even said I was an ass. He abused me in the

most vindictive manner, and said that if I came there again meddling with

his business he would throw me out of the window. I said I would take my

hat and go, if I could not be treated with the respect due to my office,

and I did go. It was just like a new author. They always think they

know more than anybody else when they are getting out their first book.

Nobody can tell them anything.

During the whole time that I was connected with the government it seemed

as if I could not do anything in an official capacity without getting

myself into trouble. And yet I did nothing, attempted nothing, but what

I conceived to be for the good of my country. The sting of my wrongs may

have driven me to unjust and harmful conclusions, but it surely seemed to

me that the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of

the Treasury, and others of my confreres had conspired from the very

beginning to drive me from the Administration. I never attended but one

Cabinet meeting while I was connected with the government. That was

sufficient for me. The servant at the White House door did not seem

disposed to make way for me until I asked if the other members of the

Cabinet had arrived. He said they had, and I entered. They were all

there; but nobody offered me a seat. They stared at me as if I had been

an intruder. The President said:

“Well, sir, who are you?”

I handed him my card, and he read: “The HON. MARK TWAIN, Clerk of the

Senate Committee on Conchology.” Then he looked at me from head to foot,

as if he had never heard of me before. The Secretary of the Treasury


“This is the meddlesome ass that came to recommend me to put poetry and

conundrums in my report, as if it were an almanac.”

The Secretary of War said: “It is the same visionary that came to me

yesterday with a scheme to educate a portion of the Indians to death,

and massacre the balance.”

The Secretary of the Navy said: “I recognize this youth as the person who

has been interfering with my business time and again during the week. He

is distressed about Admiral Farragut’s using a whole fleet for a pleasure

excursion, as he terms it. His proposition about some insane pleasure

excursion on a raft is too absurd to repeat.”

I said: ” Gentlemen, I perceive here a disposition to throw discredit

upon every act of my official career; I perceive, also, a disposition to

debar me from all voice in the counsels of the nation. No notice

whatever was sent to me to-day. It was only by the merest chance that I

learned that there was going to be a Cabinet meeting. But let these

things pass. All I wish to know is, is this a Cabinet meeting or is it


The President said it was.

“Then,” I said, “let us proceed to business at once, and not fritter away

valuable time in unbecoming fault-findings with each other’s official


The Secretary of State now spoke up, in his benignant way, and said,

“Young man, you are laboring under a mistake. The clerks of the

Congressional committees are not members of the Cabinet. Neither are the

doorkeepers of the Capitol, strange as it may seem. Therefore, much as

we could desire your more than human wisdom in our deliberations, we

cannot lawfully avail ourselves of it. The counsels of the nation must

proceed without you; if disaster follows, as follow full well it may, be

it balm to your sorrowing spirit that by deed and voice you did what in

you lay to avert it. You have my blessing. Farewell.”

These gentle words soothed my troubled breast, and I went away. But the

servants of a nation can know no peace. I had hardly reached my den in

the Capitol, and disposed my feet on the table like a representative,

when one of the Senators on the Conchological Committee came in in a

passion and said:

“Where have you been all day?”

I observed that, if that was anybody’s affair but my own, I had been to a

Cabinet meeting.

“To a Cabinet meeting? I would like to know what business you had at a

Cabinet meeting?”

I said I went there to consult–allowing for the sake of argument that he

was in any wise concerned in the matter. He grew insolent then, and

ended by saying he had wanted me for three days past to copy a report on

bomb-shells, egg-shells, clamshells, and I don’t know what all, connected

with conchology, and nobody had been able to find me.

This was too much. This was the feather that broke the clerical camel’s

back. I said, “Sir, do you suppose that I am going to work for six

dollars a day? If that is the idea, let me recommend the Senate

Committee on Conchology to hire somebody else. I am the slave of no

faction! Take back your degrading commission. Give me liberty, or give

me death!”

From that hour I was no longer connected with the government. Snubbed by

the department, snubbed by the Cabinet, snubbed at last by the chairman

of a committee I was endeavoring to adorn, I yielded to persecution, cast

far from me the perils and seductions of my great office, and forsook my

bleeding country in the hour of her peril.

But I had done the state some service, and I sent in my bill:

The United States of America in account with

the Hon. Clerk of the Senate Committee on Conchology, Dr.

To consultation with Secretary of War ………… $50

To consultation with Secretary of Navy ……….. $50

To consultation with Secretary of the Treasury … $50

Cabinet consultation ……………….No charge.

To mileage to and from Jerusalem, via Egypt,

Algiers, Gibraltar, and Cadiz,

14,000 miles, at 20c. a mile …………. $2,800

To salary as Clerk of Senate Committee

on Conchology, six days, at $6 per day ……….. $36

Total …………………….. $2,986

–[Territorial delegates charge mileage both ways, although they never go

back when they get here once. Why my mileage is denied me is more than I

can understand.]

Not an item of this bill has been paid, except that trifle of thirty-six

dollars for clerkship salary. The Secretary of the Treasury, pursuing me

to the last, drew his pen through all the other items, and simply marked

in the margin “Not allowed.” So, the dread alternative is embraced at

last. Repudiation has begun! The nation is lost.

I am done with official life for the present. Let those clerks who are

willing to be imposed on remain. I know numbers of them in the

departments who are never informed when there is to be a Cabinet meeting,

whose advice is never asked about war, or finance, or commerce, by the

heads of the nation, any more than if they were not connected with the

government, and who actually stay in their offices day after day and

work! They know their importance to the nation, and they unconsciously

show it in their bearing, and the way they order their sustenance at the

restaurant–but they work. I know one who has to paste all sorts of

little scraps from the newspapers into a scrapbook–sometimes as many as

eight or ten scraps a day. He doesn’t do it well, but he does it as well

as he can. It is very fatiguing. It is exhausting to the intellect.

Yet he only gets eighteen hundred dollars a year. With a brain like his,

that young man could amass thousands and thousands of dollars in some

other pursuit, if he chose to do it. But no–his heart is with his

country, and he will serve her as long as she has got a scrapbook left.

And I know clerks that don’t know how to write very well, but such

knowledge as they possess they nobly lay at the feet of their country,

and toil on and suffer for twenty-five hundred dollars a year. What they

write has to be written over again by other clerks sometimes; but when a

man has done his best for his country, should his country complain? Then

there are clerks that have no clerkships, and are waiting, and waiting,

and waiting for a vacancy–waiting patiently for a chance to help their

country out–and while they, are waiting, they only get barely two

thousand dollars a year for it. It is sad it is very, very sad. When a

member of Congress has a friend who is gifted, but has no employment

wherein his great powers may be brought to bear, he confers him upon his

country, and gives him a clerkship in a department. And there that man

has to slave his life out, fighting documents for the benefit of a nation

that never thinks of him, never sympathizes with him–and all for two

thousand or three thousand dollars a year. When I shall have completed

my list of all the clerks in the several departments, with my statement

of what they have to do, and what they get for it, you will see that

there are not half enough clerks, and that what there are do not get half

enough pay.


The following I find in a Sandwich Island paper which some friend has

sent me from that tranquil far-off retreat. The coincidence between my

own experience and that here set down by the late Mr. Benton is so

remarkable that I cannot forbear publishing and commenting upon the

paragraph. The Sandwich Island paper says:

How touching is this tribute of the late Hon. T. H. Benton to his

mother’s influence:–‘My mother asked me never to use tobacco; I have

never touched it from that time to the present day. She asked me not to

gamble, and I have never gambled. I cannot tell who is losing in games

that are being played. She admonished me, too, against liquor-drinking,

and whatever capacity for endurance I have at present, and whatever

usefulness I may have attained through life, I attribute to having

complied with her pious and correct wishes. When I was seven years of

age she asked me not to drink, and then I made a resolution of total

abstinence; and that I have adhered to it through all time I owe to my


I never saw anything so curious. It is almost an exact epitome of my own

moral career–after simply substituting a grandmother for a mother. How

well I remember my grandmother’s asking me not to use tobacco, good old

soul! She said, “You’re at it again, are you, you whelp? Now don’t ever

let me catch you chewing tobacco before breakfast again, or I lay I’ll

blacksnake you within an inch of your life!” I have never touched it at

that hour of the morning from that time to the present day.

She asked me not to gamble. She whispered and said, “Put up those wicked

cards this minute!–two pair and a jack, you numskull, and the other

fellow’s got a flush!”

I never have gambled from that day to this–never once–without a “cold

deck” in my pocket. I cannot even tell who is going to lose in games

that are being played unless I deal myself.

When I was two years of age she asked me not to drink, and then I made a

resolution of total abstinence. That I have adhered to it and enjoyed

the beneficent effects of it through all time, I owe to my grandmother.

I have never drunk a drop from that day to this of any kind of water.


If you get into conversation with a stranger in Honolulu, and experience

that natural desire to know what sort of ground you are treading on by

finding out what manner of man your stranger is, strike out boldly and

address him as “Captain.” Watch him narrowly, and if you see by his

countenance that you are on the wrong track, ask him where he preaches.

It is a safe bet that he is either a missionary or captain of a whaler.

I became personally acquainted with seventy-two captains and ninety-six

missionaries. The captains and ministers form one-half of the

population; the third fourth is composed of common Kanakas and mercantile

foreigners and their families; and the final fourth is made up of high

officers of the Hawaiian Government. And there are just about cats

enough for three apiece all around.

A solemn stranger met me in the suburbs one day, and said:

“Good morning, your reverence. Preach in the stone church yonder, no


“No, I don’t. I’m not a preacher.”

“Really, I beg your pardon, captain. I trust you had a good season. How

much oil–”

“Oil! Why, what do you take me for? I’m not a whaler.”

“Oh! I beg a thousand pardons, your Excellency. Major-General in the

household troops, no doubt? Minister of the Interior, likely? Secretary

of War? First Gentleman of the Bedchamber? Commissioner of the Royal–”

“Stuff, man! I’m not connected in any way with the government.”

“Bless my life! Then who the mischief are you? what the mischief are

you? and how the mischief did you get here? and where in thunder did you

come from?”

“I’m only a private personage–an unassuming stranger–lately arrived

from America.”

” No! Not a missionary! not a whaler! not a member of his Majesty’s

government! not even a Secretary of the Navy! Ah! Heaven! it is too

blissful to be true, alas! I do but dream. And yet that noble, honest

countenance–those oblique, ingenuous eyes–that massive head, incapable

of–of anything; your hand; give me your hand, bright waif. Excuse these

tears. For sixteen weary years I have yearned for a moment like this,


Here his feelings were too much for him, and he swooned away. I pitied

this poor creature from the bottom of my heart. I was deeply moved.

I shed a few tears on him, and kissed him for his mother. I then took

what small change he had, and “shoved.”


I had never seen him before. He brought letters of introduction from

mutual friends in San Francisco, and by invitation I breakfasted with

him. It was almost religion, there in the silver-mines, to precede such

a meal with whisky cocktails. Artemus, with the true cosmopolitan

instinct, always deferred to the customs of the country he was in, and so

he ordered three of those abominations. Hingston was present. I said I

would rather not drink a whisky cocktail. I said it would go right to my

head, and confuse me so that I would be in a helpless tangle in ten

minutes. I did not want to act like a lunatic before strangers. But

Artemus gently insisted, and I drank the treasonable mixture under

protest, and felt all the time that I was doing a thing I might be sorry

for. In a minute or two I began to imagine that my ideas were clouded.

I waited in great anxiety for the conversation to open, with a sort of

vague hope that my understanding would prove clear, after all, and my

misgivings groundless.

Artemus dropped an unimportant remark or two, and then assumed a look of

superhuman earnestness, and made the following astounding speech. He


“Now there is one thing I ought to ask you about before I forget it. You

have been here in Silver land–here in Nevada–two or three years, and,

of course, your position on the daily press has made it necessary for you

to go down in the mines and examine them carefully in detail, and

therefore you know all about the silver-mining business. Now what I want

to get at is–is, well, the way the deposits of ore are made, you know.

For instance. Now, as I understand it, the vein which contains the

silver is sandwiched in between casings of granite, and runs along the

ground, and sticks up like a curb stone. Well, take a vein forty feet

thick, for example, or eighty, for that matter, or even a hundred–say

you go down on it with a shaft, straight down, you know, or with what you

call ‘incline’ maybe you go down five hundred feet, or maybe you don’t go

down but two hundred–anyway, you go down, and all the time this vein

grows narrower, when the casings come nearer or approach each other, you

may say–that is, when they do approach, which, of course, they do not

always do, particularly in cases where the nature of the formation is

such that they stand apart wider than they otherwise would, and which

geology has failed to account for, although everything in that science

goes to prove that, all things being equal, it would if it did not, or

would not certainly if it did, and then, of course, they are. Do not you

think it is?”

I said to myself:

“Now I just knew how it would be–that whisky cocktail has done the

business for me; I don’t understand any more than a clam.”

And then I said aloud:

“I–I–that is–if you don’t mind, would you–would you say that over

again? I ought–”

“Oh, certainly, certainly! You see I am very unfamiliar with the

subject, and perhaps I don’t present my case clearly, but I–”

“No, no-no, no-you state it plain enough, but that cocktail has muddled

me a little. But I will no, I do understand for that matter; but I would

get the hang of it all the better if you went over it again-and I’ll pay

better attention this time.

He said; “Why, what I was after was this.”

[Here he became even more fearfully impressive than ever, and emphasized

each particular point by checking it off on his finger-ends.]

“This vein, or lode, or ledge, or whatever you call it, runs along

between two layers of granite, just the same as if it were a sandwich.

Very well. Now suppose you go down on that, say a thousand feet, or

maybe twelve hundred (it don’t really matter) before you drift, and then

you start your drifts, some of them across the ledge, and others along

the length of it, where the sulphurets–I believe they call them

sulphurets, though why they should, considering that, so far as I can

see, the main dependence of a miner does not so lie, as some suppose, but

in which it cannot be successfully maintained, wherein the same should

not continue, while part and parcel of the same ore not committed to

either in the sense referred to, whereas, under different circumstances,

the most inexperienced among us could not detect it if it were, or might

overlook it if it did, or scorn the very idea of such a thing, even

though it were palpably demonstrated as such. Am I not right?”

I said, sorrowfully: “I feel ashamed of myself, Mr. Ward. I know I

ought to understand you perfectly well, but you see that treacherous

whisky cocktail has got into my head, and now I cannot understand even

the simplest proposition. I told you how it would be.”

“Oh, don’t mind it, don’t mind it; the fault was my own, no doubt–though

I did think it clear enough for–”

“Don’t say a word. Clear! Why, you stated it as clear as the sun to

anybody but an abject idiot; but it’s that confounded cocktail that has

played the mischief.”

“No; now don’t say that. I’ll begin it all over again, and–”

“Don’t now–for goodness’ sake, don’t do anything of the kind, because I

tell you my head is in such a condition that I don’t believe I could

understand the most trifling question a man could ask me.

“Now don’t you be afraid. I’ll put it so plain this time that you can’t

help but get the hang of it. We will begin at the very beginning.”

[Leaning far across the table, with determined impressiveness wrought

upon his every feature, and fingers prepared to keep tally of each point

enumerated; and I, leaning forward with painful interest, resolved to

comprehend or perish.] “You know the vein, the ledge, the thing that

contains the metal, whereby it constitutes the medium between all other

forces, whether of present or remote agencies, so brought to bear in

favor of the former against the latter, or the latter against the former

or all, or both, or compromising the relative differences existing within

the radius whence culminate the several degrees of similarity to which–”

I said: “Oh, hang my wooden head, it ain’t any use!–it ain’t any use to

try–I can’t understand anything. The plainer you get it the more I

can’t get the hang of it.”

I heard a suspicious noise behind me, and turned in time to see Hingston

dodging behind a newspaper, and quaking with a gentle ecstasy of

laughter. I looked at Ward again, and he had thrown off his dread

solemnity and was laughing also. Then I saw that I had been sold–that I

had been made a victim of a swindle in the way of a string of plausibly

worded sentences that didn’t mean anything under the sun. Artemus Ward

was one of the best fellows in the world, and one of the most

companionable. It has been said that he was not fluent in conversation,

but, with the above experience in my mind, I differ.

CANNIBALISM IN THE CARS –[Written abort 1867.]

I visited St. Louis lately, and on my way West, after changing cars at

Terre Haute, Indiana, a mild, benevolent-looking gentleman of about

forty-five, or maybe fifty, came in at one of the way-stations and sat

down beside me. We talked together pleasantly on various subjects for an

hour, perhaps, and I found him exceedingly intelligent and entertaining.

When he learned that I was from Washington, he immediately began to ask

questions about various public men, and about Congressional affairs; and

I saw very shortly that I was conversing with a man who was perfectly

familiar with the ins and outs of political life at the Capital, even to

the ways and manners, and customs of procedure of Senators and

Representatives in the Chambers of the national Legislature. Presently

two men halted near us for a single moment, and one said to the other:

“Harris, if you’ll do that for me, I’ll never forget you, my boy.”

My new comrade’s eye lighted pleasantly. The words had touched upon a

happy memory, I thought. Then his face settled into thoughtfulness–

almost into gloom. He turned to me and said,

“Let me tell you a story; let me give you a secret chapter of my life–

a chapter that has never been referred to by me since its events

transpired. Listen patiently, and promise that you will not interrupt


I said I would not, and he related the following strange adventure,

speaking sometimes with animation, sometimes with melancholy, but always

with feeling and earnestness.


“On the 19th of December, 1853, I started from St. Louis on the evening

train bound for Chicago. There were only twenty-four passengers, all

told. There were no ladies and no children. We were in excellent

spirits, and pleasant acquaintanceships were soon formed. The journey

bade fair to be a happy one; and no individual in the party, I think, had

even the vaguest presentiment of the horrors we were soon to undergo.

“At 11 P.m. it began to snow hard. Shortly after leaving the small

village of Welden, we entered upon that tremendous prairie solitude that

stretches its leagues on leagues of houseless dreariness far away toward

the jubilee Settlements. The winds, unobstructed by trees or hills, or

even vagrant rocks, whistled fiercely across the level desert, driving

the falling snow before it like spray from the crested waves of a stormy

sea. The snow was deepening fast; and we knew, by the diminished speed

of the train, that the engine was plowing through it with steadily

increasing difficulty. Indeed, it almost came to a dead halt sometimes,

in the midst of great drifts that piled themselves like colossal graves

across the track. Conversation began to flag. Cheerfulness gave place

to grave concern. The possibility of being imprisoned in the snow, on

the bleak prairie, fifty miles from any house, presented itself to every

mind, and extended its depressing influence over every spirit.

“At two o’clock in the morning I was aroused out of an uneasy slumber by

the ceasing of all motion about me. The appalling truth flashed upon me

instantly–we were captives in a snow-drift! ‘All hands to the rescue!’

Every man sprang to obey. Out into the wild night, the pitchy darkness,

the billowy snow, the driving storm, every soul leaped, with the

consciousness that a moment lost now might bring destruction to us all.

Shovels, hands, boards–anything, everything that could displace snow,

was brought into instant requisition. It was a weird picture, that small

company of frantic men fighting the banking snows, half in the blackest

shadow and half in the angry light of the locomotive’s reflector.

“One short hour sufficed to prove the utter uselessness of our efforts.

The storm barricaded the track with a dozen drifts while we dug one away.

And worse than this, it was discovered that the last grand charge the

engine had made upon the enemy had broken the fore-and-aft shaft of the

driving-wheel! With a free track before us we should still have been

helpless. We entered the car wearied with labor, and very sorrowful.

We gathered about the stoves, and gravely canvassed our situation. We

had no provisions whatever–in this lay our chief distress. We could not

freeze, for there was a good supply of wood in the tender. This was our

only comfort. The discussion ended at last in accepting the

disheartening decision of the conductor, viz., that it would be death for

any man to attempt to travel fifty miles on foot through snow like that.

We could not send for help, and even if we could it would not come. We

must submit, and await, as patiently as we might, succor or starvation!

I think the stoutest heart there felt a momentary chill when those words

were uttered.

“Within the hour conversation subsided to a low murmur here and there

about the car, caught fitfully between the rising and falling of the

blast; the lamps grew dim; and the majority of the castaways settled

themselves among the flickering shadows to think–to forget the present,

if they could–to sleep, if they might.

“The eternal night-it surely seemed eternal to us-wore its lagging hours

away at last, and the cold gray dawn broke in the east. As the light

grew stronger the passengers began to stir and give signs of life, one

after another, and each in turn pushed his slouched hat up from his

forehead, stretched his stiffened limbs, and glanced out of the windows

upon the cheerless prospect. It was cheer less, indeed!-not a living

thing visible anywhere, not a human habitation; nothing but a vast white

desert; uplifted sheets of snow drifting hither and thither before the

wind–a world of eddying flakes shutting out the firmament above.

“All day we moped about the cars, saying little, thinking much. Another

lingering dreary night–and hunger.

“Another dawning–another day of silence, sadness, wasting hunger,

hopeless watching for succor that could not come. A night of restless

slumber, filled with dreams of feasting–wakings distressed with the

gnawings of hunger.

“The fourth day came and went–and the fifth! Five days of dreadful

imprisonment! A savage hunger looked out at every eye. There was in it

a sign of awful import–the foreshadowing of a something that was vaguely

shaping itself in every heart–a something which no tongue dared yet to

frame into words.

“The sixth day passed–the seventh dawned upon as gaunt and haggard and

hopeless a company of men as ever stood in the shadow of death. It must

out now! That thing which had been growing up in every heart was ready

to leap from every lip at last! Nature had been taxed to the utmost–she

must yield. RICHARD H. GASTON of Minnesota, tall, cadaverous, and pale,

rose up. All knew what was coming. All prepared–every emotion, every

semblance of excitement–was smothered–only a calm, thoughtful

seriousness appeared in the eyes that were lately so wild.

“‘Gentlemen: It cannot be delayed longer! The time is at hand! We must

determine which of us shall die to furnish food for the rest!’

“MR. JOHN J. WILLIAMS of Illinois rose and said: ‘ Gentlemen–I nominate

the Rev. James Sawyer of Tennessee.’

“MR. Wm. R. ADAMS of Indiana said: ‘I nominate Mr. Daniel Slote of New


“MR. CHARLES J. LANGDON: ‘I nominate Mr. Samuel A. Bowen of St. Louis.’

“MR. SLOTE: ‘Gentlemen–I desire to decline in favor of Mr. John A. Van

Nostrand, Jun., of New Jersey.’

“MR. GASTON: ‘If there be no objection, the gentleman’s desire will be

acceded to.’

“MR. VAN NOSTRAND objecting, the resignation of Mr. Slote was rejected.

The resignations of Messrs. Sawyer and Bowen were also offered, and

refused upon the same grounds.

“MR. A. L. BASCOM of Ohio: ‘I move that the nominations now close, and

that the House proceed to an election by ballot.’

“MR. SAWYER: ‘Gentlemen–I protest earnestly against these proceedings.

They are, in every way, irregular and unbecoming. I must beg to move

that they be dropped at once, and that we elect a chairman of the meeting

and proper officers to assist him, and then we can go on with the

business before us understandingly.’

“MR. BELL of Iowa: ‘Gentlemen–I object. This is no time to stand upon

forms and ceremonious observances. For more than seven days we have been

without food. Every moment we lose in idle discussion increases our

distress. I am satisfied with the nominations that have been made–every

gentleman present is, I believe–and I, for one, do not see why we should

not proceed at once to elect one or more of them. I wish to offer a


“MR. GASTON: ‘It would be objected to, and have to lie over one day under

the rules, thus bringing about the very delay you wish to avoid. The

gentleman from New Jersey–‘

“MR. VAN NOSTRAND: ‘Gentlemen–I am a stranger among you; I have not

sought the distinction that has been conferred upon me, and I feel a


“MR. MORGAN Of Alabama (interrupting): ‘I move the previous question.’

“The motion was carried, and further debate shut off, of course. The

motion to elect officers was passed, and under it Mr. Gaston was chosen

chairman, Mr. Blake, secretary, Messrs. Holcomb, Dyer, and Baldwin a

committee on nominations, and Mr. R. M. Howland, purveyor, to assist the

committee in making selections.

“A recess of half an hour was then taken, and some little caucusing

followed. At the sound of the gavel the meeting reassembled, and the

committee reported in favor of Messrs. George Ferguson of Kentucky,

Lucien Herrman of Louisiana, and W. Messick of Colorado as candidates.

The report was accepted.

“MR. ROGERS of Missouri: ‘Mr. President The report being properly before

the House now, I move to amend it by substituting for the name of Mr.

Herrman that of Mr. Lucius Harris of St. Louis, who is well and

honorably known to us all. I do not wish to be understood as casting the

least reflection upon the high character and standing of the gentleman

from Louisiana far from it. I respect and esteem him as much as any

gentleman here present possibly can; but none of us can be blind to the

fact that he has lost more flesh during the week that we have lain here

than any among us–none of us can be blind to the fact that the committee

has been derelict in its duty, either through negligence or a graver

fault, in thus offering for our suffrages a gentleman who, however pure

his own motives may be, has really less nutriment in him–‘

“THE CHAIR: ‘The gentleman from Missouri will take his seat. The Chair

cannot allow the integrity of the committee to be questioned save by the

regular course, under the rules. What action will the House take upon

the gentleman’s motion?’

“MR. HALLIDAY of Virginia: ‘I move to further amend the report by

substituting Mr. Harvey Davis of Oregon for Mr. Messick. It may be urged

by gentlemen that the hardships and privations of a frontier life have

rendered Mr. Davis tough; but, gentlemen, is this a time to cavil at

toughness? Is this a time to be fastidious concerning trifles? Is this

a time to dispute about matters of paltry significance? No, gentlemen,

bulk is what we desire–substance, weight, bulk–these are the supreme

requisites now–not talent, not genius, not education. I insist upon my


“MR. MORGAN (excitedly): ‘Mr. Chairman–I do most strenuously object to

this amendment. The gentleman from Oregon is old, and furthermore is

bulky only in bone–not in flesh. I ask the gentleman from Virginia if

it is soup we want instead of solid sustenance? if he would delude us

with shadows? if he would mock our suffering with an Oregonian specter?

I ask him if he can look upon the anxious faces around him, if he can

gaze into our sad eyes, if he can listen to the beating of our expectant

hearts, and still thrust this famine-stricken fraud upon us? I ask him

if he can think of our desolate state, of our past sorrows, of our dark

future, and still unpityingly foist upon us this wreck, this ruin, this

tottering swindle, this gnarled and blighted and sapless vagabond from

Oregon’s hospitable shores? Never!’ [Applause.]

“The amendment was put to vote, after a fiery debate, and lost. Mr.

Harris was substituted on the first amendment. The balloting then began.

Five ballots were held without a choice. On the sixth, Mr. Harris was

elected, all voting for him but himself. It was then moved that his

election should be ratified by acclamation, which was lost, in

consequence of his again voting against himself.

“MR. RADWAY moved that the House now take up the remaining candidates,

and go into an election for breakfast. This was carried.

“On the first ballot–there was a tie, half the members favoring one

candidate on account of his youth, and half favoring the other on account

of his superior size. The President gave the casting vote for the

latter, Mr. Messick. This decision created considerable dissatisfaction

among the friends of Mr. Ferguson, the defeated candidate, and there was

some talk of demanding a new ballot; but in the midst of it a motion to

adjourn was carried, and the meeting broke up at once.

“The preparations for supper diverted the attention of the Ferguson

faction from the discussion of their grievance for a long time, and then,

when they would have taken it up again, the happy announcement that Mr.

Harris was ready drove all thought of it to the winds.

“We improvised tables by propping up the backs of car-seats, and sat down

with hearts full of gratitude to the finest supper that had blessed our

vision for seven torturing days. How changed we were from what we had

been a few short hours before! Hopeless, sad-eyed misery, hunger,

feverish anxiety, desperation, then; thankfulness, serenity, joy too deep

for utterance now. That I know was the cheeriest hour of my eventful

life. The winds howled, and blew the snow wildly about our prison house,

but they were powerless to distress us any more. I liked Harris. He

might have been better done, perhaps, but I am free to say that no man

ever agreed with me better than Harris, or afforded me so large a degree

of satisfaction. Messick was very well, though rather high-flavored,

but for genuine nutritiousness and delicacy of fiber, give me Harris.

Messick had his good points–I will not attempt to deny it, nor do I wish

to do it but he was no more fitted for breakfast than a mummy would be,

sir–not a bit. Lean?–why, bless me!–and tough? Ah, he was very

tough! You could not imagine it–you could never imagine anything like


“Do you mean to tell me that–”

“Do not interrupt me, please. After breakfast we elected a man by the

name of Walker, from Detroit, for supper. He was very good. I wrote his

wife so afterward. He was worthy of all praise. I shall always remember

Walker. He was a little rare, but very good. And then the next morning

we had Morgan of Alabama for breakfast. He was one of the finest men I

ever sat down to handsome, educated, refined, spoke several languages

fluently a perfect gentleman he was a perfect gentleman, and singularly

juicy. For supper we had that Oregon patriarch, and he was a fraud,

there is no question about it–old, scraggy, tough, nobody can picture

the reality. I finally said, gentlemen, you can do as you like, but I

will wait for another election. And Grimes of Illinois said, ‘Gentlemen,

I will wait also. When you elect a man that has something to recommend

him, I shall be glad to join you again.’ It soon became evident that

there was general dissatisfaction with Davis of Oregon, and so, to

preserve the good will that had prevailed so pleasantly since we had had

Harris, an election was called, and the result of it was that Baker of

Georgia was chosen. He was splendid! Well, well–after that we had

Doolittle, and Hawkins, and McElroy (there was some complaint about

McElroy, because he was uncommonly short and thin), and Penrod, and two

Smiths, and Bailey (Bailey had a wooden leg, which was clear loss, but he

was otherwise good), and an Indian boy, and an organ-grinder, and a

gentleman by the name of Buckminster–a poor stick of a vagabond that

wasn’t any good for company and no account for breakfast. We were glad

we got him elected before relief came.”

“And so the blessed relief did come at last?”

“Yes, it came one bright, sunny morning, just after election. John

Murphy was the choice, and there never was a better, I am willing to

testify; but John Murphy came home with us, in the train that came to

succor us, and lived to marry the widow Harris–”

“Relict of–”

“Relict of our first choice. He married her, and is happy and respected

and prosperous yet. Ah, it was like a novel, sir–it was like a romance.

This is my stopping-place, sir; I must bid you goodby. Any time that you

can make it convenient to tarry a day or two with me, I shall be glad to

have you. I like you, sir; I have conceived an affection for you.

I could like you as well as I liked Harris himself, sir. Good day, sir,

and a pleasant journey.”

He was gone. I never felt so stunned, so distressed, so bewildered in my

life. But in my soul I was glad he was gone. With all his gentleness of

manner and his soft voice, I shuddered whenever he turned his hungry eye

upon me; and when I heard that I had achieved his perilous affection, and

that I stood almost with the late Harris in his esteem, my heart fairly

stood still!

I was bewildered beyond description. I did not doubt his word; I could

not question a single item in a statement so stamped with the earnestness

of truth as his; but its dreadful details overpowered me, and threw my

thoughts into hopeless confusion. I saw the conductor looking at me.

I said, “Who is that man?”

“He was a member of Congress once, and a good one. But he got caught in

a snow-drift in the cars, and like to have been starved to death. He got

so frost-bitten and frozen up generally, and used up for want of

something to eat, that he was sick and out of his head two or three

months afterward. He is all right now, only he is a monomaniac, and when

he gets on that old subject he never stops till he has eat up that whole

car-load of people he talks about. He would have finished the crowd by

this time, only he had to get out here. He has got their names as pat as

A B C. When he gets them all eat up but himself, he always says: ‘Then

the hour for the usual election for breakfast having arrived; and there

being no opposition, I was duly elected, after which, there being no

objections offered, I resigned. Thus I am here.'”

I felt inexpressibly relieved to know that I had only been listening to

the harmless vagaries of a madman instead of the genuine experiences of a

bloodthirsty cannibal.


Being the only true and reliable account ever published; taken from the

Roman “Daily Evening Fasces,” of the date of that tremendous occurrence.

Nothing in the world affords a newspaper reporter so much satisfaction as

gathering up the details of a bloody and mysterious murder and writing

them up with aggravating circumstantiality. He takes a living delight in

this labor of love–for such it is to him, especially if he knows that

all the other papers have gone to press, and his will be the only one

that will contain the dreadful intelligence. A feeling of regret has

often come over me that I was not reporting in Rome when Caesar was

killed–reporting on an evening paper, and the only one in the city, and

getting at least twelve hours ahead of the morning-paper boys with this

most magnificent “item” that ever fell to the lot of the craft. Other

events have happened as startling as this, but none that possessed so

peculiarly all the characteristics of the favorite “item” of the present

day, magnified into grandeur and sublimity by the high rank, fame, and

social and political standing of the actors in it.

However, as I was not permitted to report Caesar’s assassination in the

regular way, it has at least afforded me rare satisfaction to translate

the following able account of it from the original Latin of the Roman

Daily Evening Fasces of that date–second edition:

Our usually quiet city of Rome was thrown into a state of wild excitement

yesterday by the occurrence of one of those bloody affrays which sicken

the heart and fill the soul with fear, while they inspire all thinking

men with forebodings for the future of a city where human life is held so

cheaply and the gravest laws are so openly set at defiance. As the

result of that affray, it is our painful duty, as public journalists, to

record the death of one of our most esteemed citizens–a man whose name

is known wherever this paper circulates, and where fame it has been our

pleasure and our privilege to extend, and also to protect from the tongue

of slander and falsehood, to the best of our poor ability. We refer to

Mr. J. Caesar, the Emperor-elect.

The facts of the case, as nearly as our reporter could determine them

from the conflicting statements of eye-witnesses, were about as follows:-

The affair was an election row, of course. Nine-tenths of the ghastly

butcheries that disgrace the city nowadays grow out of the bickerings and

jealousies and animosities engendered by these accursed elections. Rome

would be the gainer by it if her very constables were elected to serve a

century; for in our experience we have never even been able to choose a

dog-pelter without celebrating the event with a dozen knockdowns and a

general cramming of the station-house with drunken vagabonds overnight.

It is said that when the immense majority for Caesar at the polls in the

market was declared the other day, and the crown was offered to that

gentleman, even his amazing unselfishness in refusing it three times was

not sufficient to save him from the whispered insults of such men as

Casca, of the Tenth Ward, and other hirelings of the disappointed

candidate, hailing mostly from the Eleventh and Thirteenth and other

outside districts, who were overheard speaking ironically and

contemptuously of Mr. Caesar’s conduct upon that occasion.

We are further informed that there are many among us who think they are

justified in believing that the assassination of Julius Caesar was a put-

up thing–a cut-and-dried arrangement, hatched by Marcus Brutus and a lot

of his hired roughs, and carried out only too faithfully according to the

program. Whether there be good grounds for this suspicion or not, we

leave to the people to judge for themselves, only asking that they will

read the following account of the sad occurrence carefully and

dispassionately before they render that judgment.

The Senate was already in session, and Caesar was coming down the street

toward the capitol, conversing with some personal friends, and followed,

as usual, by a large number of citizens. Just as he was passing in front

of Demosthenes and Thucydides’ drug store, he was observing casually to a

gentleman, who, our informant thinks, is a fortune-teller, that the Ides

of March were come. The reply was, “Yes, they are come, but not gone

yet.” At this moment Artemidorus stepped up and passed the time of day,

and asked Caesar to read a schedule or a tract or something of the kind,

which he had brought for his perusal. Mr. Decius Brutus also said

something about an “humble suit” which he wanted read. Artexnidorus

begged that attention might be paid to his first, because it was of

personal consequence to Caesar. The latter replied that what concerned

himself should be read last, or words to that effect. Artemidorus begged

and beseeched him to read the paper instantly! –[Mark that: It is hinted

by William Shakespeare, who saw the beginning and the end of the

unfortunate affray, that this “schedule” was simply a note discovering to

Caesar that a plot was brewing to take his life.]– However, Caesar

shook him off, and refused to read any petition in the street. He then

entered the capitol, and the crowd followed him.

About this time the following conversation was overheard, and we consider

that, taken in connection with the events which succeeded it, it bears an

appalling significance: Mr. Papilius Lena remarked to George W. Cassias

(commonly known as the “Nobby Boy of the Third Ward”), a bruiser in the

pay of the Opposition, that he hoped his enterprise to-day might thrive;

and when Cassias asked “What enterprise?” he only closed his left eye

temporarily and said with simulated indifference, “Fare you well,” and

sauntered toward Caesar. Marcus Brutus, who is suspected of being the

ringleader of the band that killed Caesar, asked what it was that Lena

had said. Cassias told him, and added in a low tone, “I fear our purpose

is discovered.”

Brutus told his wretched accomplice to keep an eye on Lena, and a moment

after Cassias urged that lean and hungry vagrant, Casca, whose reputation

here is none of the best, to be sudden, for he feared prevention. He

then turned to Brutus, apparently much excited, and asked what should be

done, and swore that either he or Caesar would never turn back–he would

kill himself first. At this time Caesar was talking to some of the back-

country members about the approaching fall elections, and paying little

attention to what was going on around him. Billy Trebonius got into

conversation with the people’s friend and Caesar’s–Mark Antony–and

under some pretense or other got him away, and Brutus, Decius, Casca,

Cinna, Metellus Cimber, and others of the gang of infamous desperadoes

that infest Rome at present, closed around the doomed Caesar. Then

Metellus Cimber knelt down and begged that his brother might be recalled

from banishment, but Caesar rebuked him for his fawning conduct, and

refused to grant his petition. Immediately, at Cimber’s request, first

Brutus and then Cassias begged for the return of the banished Publius;

but Caesar still refused. He said he could not be moved; that he was as

fixed as the North Star, and proceeded to speak in the most complimentary

terms of the firmness of that star and its steady character. Then he

said he was like it, and he believed he was the only man in the country

that was; therefore, since he was “constant” that Cimber should be

banished, he was also “constant” that he should stay banished, and he’d

be hanged if he didn’t keep him so!

Instantly seizing upon this shallow pretext for a fight, Casca sprang at

Caesar and struck him with a dirk, Caesar grabbing him by the arm with

his right hand, and launching a blow straight from the shoulder with his

left, that sent the reptile bleeding to the earth. He then backed up

against Pompey’s statue, and squared himself to receive his assailants.

Cassias and Cimber and Cinna rushed, upon him with their daggers drawn,

and the former succeeded in inflicting a wound upon his body; but before

he could strike again, and before either of the others could strike at

all, Caesar stretched the three miscreants at his feet with as many blows

of his powerful fist. By this time the Senate was in an indescribable

uproar; the throng of citizens is the lobbies had blockaded the doors in

their frantic efforts to escape from the building, the sergeant-at-arms

and his assistants were struggling with the assassins, venerable senators

had cast aside their encumbering robes, and were leaping over benches and

flying down the aisles in wild confusion toward the shelter of the

committee-rooms, and a thousand voices were shouting “Po-lice! Po-lice!”

in discordant tones that rose above the frightful din like shrieking

winds above the roaring of a tempest. And amid it all great Caesar stood

with his back against the statue, like a lion at bay, and fought his

assailants weaponless and hand to hand, with the defiant bearing and the

unwavering courage which he had shown before on many a bloody field.

Billy Trebonius and Caius Legarius struck him with their daggers and

fell, as their brother-conspirators before them had fallen. But at last,

when Caesar saw his old friend Brutus step forward armed with a murderous

knife, it is said he seemed utterly overpowered with grief and amazement,

and, dropping his invincible left arm by his side, he hid his face in the

folds of his mantle and received the treacherous blow without an effort

to stay the hand that gave it. He only said, “Et tu, Brute?” and fell

lifeless on the marble pavement.

We learn that the coat deceased had on when he was killed was the same

one he wore in his tent on the afternoon of the day he overcame the

Nervii, and that when it was removed from the corpse it was found to be

cut and gashed in no less than seven different places. There was nothing

in the pockets. It will be exhibited at the coroner’s inquest, and will

be damning proof of the fact of the killing. These latter facts may be

relied on, as we get them from Mark Antony, whose position enables him to

learn every item of news connected with the one subject of absorbing

interest of-to-day.

LATER: While the coroner was summoning a jury, Mark Antony and other

friends of the late Caesar got hold of the body, and lugged it off to the

Forum, and at last accounts Antony and Brutus were making speeches over

it and raising such a row among the people that, as we go to press, the

chief of police is satisfied there is going to be a riot, and is taking

measures accordingly.


One of the saddest things that ever came under my notice (said the

banker’s clerk) was there in Corning during the war. Dan Murphy enlisted

as a private, and fought very bravely. The boys all liked him, and when

a wound by and by weakened him down till carrying a musket was too heavy

work for him, they clubbed together and fixed him up as a sutler. He

made money then, and sent it always to his wife to bank for him. She was

a washer and ironer, and knew enough by hard experience to keep money

when she got it. She didn’t waste a penny.

On the contrary, she began to get miserly as her bank-account grew. She

grieved to part with a cent, poor creature, for twice in her hard-working

life she had known what it was to be hungry, cold, friendless, sick, and

without a dollar in the world, and she had a haunting dread of suffering

so again. Well, at last Dan died; and the boys, in testimony of their

esteem and respect for him, telegraphed to Mrs. Murphy to know if she

would like to have him embalmed and sent home; when you know the usual

custom was to dump a poor devil like him into a shallow hole, and then

inform his friends what had become of him. Mrs. Murphy jumped to the

conclusion that it would only cost two or three dollars to embalm her

dead husband, and so she telegraphed “Yes.” It was at the “wake” that

the bill for embalming arrived and was presented to the widow.

She uttered a wild, sad wail that pierced every heart, and said,

“Sivinty-foive dollars for stooffin’ Dan, blister their sowls! Did thim

divils suppose I was goin’ to stairt a Museim, that I’d be dalin’ in such

expinsive curiassities !”

The banker’s clerk said there was not a dry eye in the house.

THE SCRIPTURAL PANORAMIST –[Written about 1866.]

There was a fellow traveling around in that country,” said Mr.

Nickerson, “with a moral-religious show–a sort of scriptural panorama–

and he hired a wooden-headed old slab to play the piano for him. After

the first night’s performance the showman says:

“‘My friend, you seem to know pretty much all the tunes there are, and

you worry along first rate. But then, didn’t you notice that sometimes

last night the piece you happened to be playing was a little rough on the

proprieties, so to speak–didn’t seem to jibe with the general gait of

the picture that was passing at the time, as it were–was a little

foreign to the subject, you know–as if you didn’t either trump or follow

suit, you understand?’

“‘Well, no,’ the fellow said; ‘he hadn’t noticed, but it might be; he had

played along just as it came handy.’

“So they put it up that the simple old dummy was to keep his eye on the

panorama after that, and as soon as a stunning picture was reeled out he

was to fit it to a dot with a piece of music that would help the audience

to get the idea of the subject, and warm them up like a camp-meeting

revival. That sort of thing would corral their sympathies, the showman


“There was a big audience that night-mostly middle-aged and old people

who belong to the church, and took a strong interest in Bible matters,

and the balance were pretty much young bucks and heifers–they always

come out strong on panoramas, you know, because it gives them a chance to

taste one another’s complexions in the dark.

“Well, the showman began to swell himself up for his lecture, and the old

mud-Jobber tackled the piano and ran his fingers up and down once or

twice to see that she was all right, and the fellows behind the curtain

commenced to grind out the panorama. The showman balanced his weight on

his right foot, and propped his hands over his hips, and flung his eyes

over his shoulder at the scenery, and said:

“‘Ladies and gentlemen, the painting now before you illustrates the

beautiful and touching parable of the Prodigal Son. Observe the happy

expression just breaking over the features of the poor, suffering youth–

so worn and weary with his long march; note also the ecstasy beaming from

the uplifted countenance of the aged father, and the joy that sparkles in

the eyes of the excited group of youths and maidens, and seems ready to

burst into the welcoming chorus from their lips. The lesson, my friends,

is as solemn and instructive as the story is tender and beautiful.’

“The mud-Jobber was all ready, and when the second speech was finished,

struck up:

“Oh, we’ll all get blind drunk

When Johnny comes marching home!

“Some of the people giggled, and some groaned a little. The showman

couldn’t say a word; he looked at the pianist sharp, but he was all

lovely and serene–he didn’t know there was anything out of gear.

“The panorama moved on, and the showman drummed up his grit and started

in fresh.

“‘Ladies and gentlemen, the fine picture now unfolding itself to your

gaze exhibits one of the most notable events in Bible history–our

Saviour and His disciples upon the Sea of Galilee. How grand, how awe-

inspiring are the reflections which the subject invokes! What sublimity

of faith is revealed to us in this lesson from the sacred writings! The

Saviour rebukes the angry waves, and walks securely upon the bosom of the


“All around the house they were whispering, ‘Oh, how lovely, how

beautiful!’ and the orchestra let himself out again:

“A life on the ocean wave,

And a home on the rolling deep!

“There was a good deal of honest snickering turned on this time, and

considerable groaning, and one or two old deacons got up and went out.

The showman grated his teeth, and cursed the piano man to himself; but

the fellow sat there like a knot on a log, and seemed to think he was

doing first-rate.

“After things got quiet the showman thought he would make one more

stagger at it, anyway, though his confidence was beginning to get mighty

shaky. The supes started the panorama grinding along again, and he says:

“‘Ladies and gentlemen, this exquisite painting represents the raising of

Lazarus from the dead by our Saviour. The subject has been handled with

marvelous skill by the artist, and such touching sweetness and tenderness

of expression has he thrown into it that I have known peculiarly

sensitive persons to be even affected to tears by looking at it. Observe

the half-confused, half-inquiring look upon the countenance of the

awakened Lazarus. Observe, also, the attitude and expression of the

Saviour, who takes him gently by the sleeve of his shroud with one hand,

while He points with the other toward the distant city.’

“Before anybody could get off an opinion in the case the innocent old ass

at the piano struck up:

“Come rise up, William Ri-i-ley,

And go along with me!

“Whe-ew! All the solemn old flats got up in a huff to go, and everybody

else laughed till the windows rattled.

“The showman went down and grabbed the orchestra and shook him up and


“‘That lets you out, you know, you chowder-headed old clam. Go to the

doorkeeper and get your money, and cut your stick–vamose the ranch!

Ladies and gentlemen, circumstances over which I have no control compel

me prematurely to dismiss the house.'”

CURING A COLD –[Written about 1864]

It is a good thing, perhaps, to write for the amusement of the public,

but it is a far higher and nobler thing to write for their instruction,

their profit, their actual and tangible benefit. The latter is the sole

object of this article. If it prove the means of restoring to health one

solitary sufferer among my race, of lighting up once more the fire of

hope and joy in his faded eyes, or bringing back to his dead heart again

the quick, generous impulses of other days, I shall be amply rewarded for

my labor; my soul will be permeated with the sacred delight a Christian.

feels when he has done a good, unselfish deed.

Having led a pure and blameless life, I am justified in believing that no

man who knows me will reject the suggestions I am about to make, out of

fear that I am trying to deceive him. Let the public do itself the honor

to read my experience in doctoring a cold, as herein set forth, and then

follow in my footsteps.

When the White House was burned in Virginia City, I lost my home, my

happiness, my constitution, and my trunk. The loss of the two first

named articles was a matter of no great consequence, since a home without

a mother, or a sister, or a distant young female relative in it, to

remind you, by putting your soiled linen out of sight and taking your

boots down off the mantelpiece, that there are those who think about you

and care for you, is easily obtained. And I cared nothing for the loss

of my happiness, because, not being a poet, it could not be possible that

melancholy would abide with me long. But to lose a good constitution and

a better trunk were serious misfortunes. On the day of the fire my

constitution succumbed to a severe cold, caused by undue exertion in

getting ready to do something. I suffered to no purpose, too, because

the plan I was figuring at for the extinguishing of the fire was so

elaborate that I never got it completed until the middle of the following


The first time I began to sneeze, a friend told me to go and bathe my

feet in hot water and go to bed. I did so. Shortly afterward, another

friend advised me to get up and take a cold shower-bath. I did that

also. Within the hour, another friend assured me that it was policy to

“feed a cold and starve a fever.” I had both. So I thought it best to

fill myself up for the cold, and then keep dark and let the fever starve


In a case of, this kind, I seldom do things by halves; I ate pretty

heartily; I conferred my custom upon a stranger who had just opened his

restaurant that morning; he waited near me in respectful silence until I

had finished feeding my cold, when he inquired if the people about

Virginia City were much afflicted with colds? I told him I thought they

were. He then went out and took in his sign.

I started down toward the office, and on the way encountered another

bosom friend, who told me that a quart of salt-water, taken warm, would

come as near curing a cold as anything in the world. I hardly thought I

had room for it, but I tried it anyhow. The result was surprising. I

believed I had thrown up my immortal soul.

Now, as I am giving my experience only for the benefit of those who are

troubled with the distemper I am writing about, I feel that they will see

the propriety of my cautioning them against following such portions of it

as proved inefficient with me, and acting upon this conviction, I warn

them against warm salt-water. It may be a good enough remedy, but I

think it is too severe. If I had another cold in the head, and there

were no course left me but to take either an earthquake or a quart of

warm saltwater, I would take my chances on the earthquake.

After the storm which had been raging in my stomach had subsided, and no

more good Samaritans happening along, I went on borrowing handkerchiefs

again and blowing them to atoms, as had been my custom in the early

stages of my cold, until I came across a lady who had just arrived from

over the plains, and who said she had lived in a part of the country

where doctors were scarce, and had from necessity acquired considerable

skill in the treatment of simple “family complaints.” I knew she must

have had much experience, for she appeared to be a hundred and fifty

years old.

She mixed a decoction composed of molasses, aquafortis, turpentine, and

various other drugs, and instructed me to take a wine-glass full of it

every fifteen minutes. I never took but one dose; that was enough; it

robbed me of all moral principle, and awoke every unworthy impulse of my

nature. Under its malign influence my brain conceived miracles of

meanness, but my hands were too feeble to execute them; at that time, had

it not been that my strength had surrendered to a succession of assaults

from infallible remedies for my cold, I am satisfied that I would have

tried to rob the graveyard. Like most other people, I often feel mean,

and act accordingly; but until I took that medicine I had never reveled

in such supernatural depravity, and felt proud of it. At the end of two

days I was ready to go to doctoring again. I took a few more unfailing

remedies, and finally drove my cold from my head to my lungs.

I got to coughing incessantly, and my voice fell below zero; I conversed

in a thundering bass, two octaves below my natural tone; I could only

compass my regular nightly repose by coughing myself down to a state of

utter exhaustion, and then the moment I began to talk in my sleep, my

discordant voice woke me up again.

My case grew more and more serious every day. A Plain gin was

recommended; I took it. Then gin and molasses; I took that also. Then

gin and onions; I added the onions, and took all three. I detected no

particular result, however, except that I had acquired a breath like a


I found I had to travel for my health. I went to Lake Bigler with my

reportorial comrade, Wilson. It is gratifying to me to reflect that we

traveled in considerable style; we went in the Pioneer coach, and my

friend took all his baggage with him, consisting of two excellent silk

handkerchiefs and a daguerreotype of his grandmother. We sailed and

hunted and fished and danced all day, and I doctored my cough all night.

By managing in this way, I made out to improve every hour in the twenty-

four. But my disease continued to grow worse.

A sheet-bath was recommended. I had never refused a remedy yet, and it

seemed poor policy to commence then; therefore I determined to take a

sheet-bath, notwithstanding I had no idea what sort of arrangement it

was. It was administered at midnight, and the weather was very frosty.

My breast and back were bared, and a sheet (there appeared to be a

thousand yards of it) soaked in ice-water, was wound around me until I

resembled a swab for a Columbiad.

It is a cruel expedient. When the chilly rag touches one’s warm flesh,

it makes him start with sudden violence, and gasp for breath just as men

do in the death-agony. It froze the marrow in my bones and stopped the

beating of my heart. I thought my time had come.

Young Wilson said the circumstance reminded him of an anecdote about a

negro who was being baptized, and who slipped from the parson’s grasp,

and came near being drowned. He floundered around, though, and finally

rose up out of the water considerably strangled and furiously angry, and

started ashore at once, spouting water like a whale, and remarking, with

great asperity, that “one o’ dese days some gen’l’man’s nigger gwyne to

get killed wid jis’ such damn foolishness as dis!”

Never take a sheet-bath-never. Next to meeting a lady acquaintance who,

for reasons best known to herself, don’t see you when she looks at you,

and don’t know you when she does see you, it is the most uncomfortable

thing in the world.

But, as I was saying, when the sheet-bath failed to cure my cough,

a lady friend recommended the application of a mustard plaster to my

breast. I believe that would have cured me effectually, if it had not

been for young Wilson. When I went to bed, I put my mustard plaster–

which was a very gorgeous one, eighteen inches square–where I could

reach it when I was ready for it. But young Wilson got hungry in the

night, and here is food for the imagination.

After sojourning a week at Lake Bigler, I went to Steamboat Springs, and,

besides the steam-baths, I took a lot of the vilest medicines that were

ever concocted. They would have cured me, but I had to go back to

Virginia City, where, notwithstanding the variety of new remedies I

absorbed every day, I managed to aggravate my disease by carelessness and

undue exposure.

I finally concluded to visit San Francisco, and the, first day I got

there a lady at the hotel told me to drink a quart of whisky every

twenty-four hours, and a friend up-town recommended precisely the same

course. Each advised me to take a quart; that made half a gallon. I did

it, and still live.

Now, with the kindest motives in the world, I offer for the consideration

of consumptive patients the variegated course of treatment I have lately

gone through. Let them try it; if it don’t cure, it can’t more than kill



–[Published at the time of the “Comet Scare” in the summer of 1874]

[We have received the following advertisement, but, inasmuch as it

concerns a matter of deep and general interest, we feel fully justified

in inserting it in our reading-columns. We are confident that our

conduct in this regard needs only explanation, not apology.–Ed., N. Y.



This is to inform the public that in connection with Mr. Barnum I have

leased the comet for a term, of years; and I desire also to solicit the

public patronage in favor of a beneficial enterprise which we have in


We propose to fit up comfortable, and even luxurious, accommodations in

the comet for as many persons as will honor us with their patronage, and

make an extended excursion among the heavenly bodies. We shall prepare

1,000,000 state-rooms in the tail of the comet (with hot and cold water,

gas, looking-glass, parachute, umbrella, etc., in each), and shall

construct more if we meet with a sufficiently generous encouragement.

We shall have billiard-rooms, card-rooms, music-rooms, bowling-alleys and

many spacious theaters and free libraries; and on the main deck we

propose to have a driving park, with upward of 100,000 miles of roadway

in it. We shall publish daily newspapers also.


The comet will leave New York at 10 P.M. on the 20th inst., and

therefore it will be desirable that the passengers be on board by eight

at the latest, to avoid confusion in getting under way. It is not known

whether passports will be necessary or not, but it is deemed best that

passengers provide them, and so guard against all contingencies. No dogs

will be allowed on board. This rule has been made in deference to the

existing state of feeling regarding these animals, and will be strictly

adhered to. The safety of the passengers will in all ways be jealously

looked to. A substantial iron railing will be put up all around the

comet, and no one will be allowed to go to the edge and look over unless

accompanied by either my partner or myself.


will be of the completest character. Of course the telegraph, and the

telegraph only, will be employed; consequently friends occupying state-

rooms 20,000,000 and even 30,000,000 miles apart will be able to send a

message and receive a reply inside of eleven days. Night messages will

be half-rate. The whole of this vast postal system will be under the

personal superintendence of Mr. Hale of Maine. Meals served at all

hours. Meals served in staterooms charged extra.

Hostility is not apprehended from any great planet, but we have thought

it best to err on the safe side, and therefore have provided a proper

number of mortars, siege-guns, and boarding-pikes. History shows that

small, isolated communities, such as the people of remote islands, are

prone to be hostile to strangers, and so the same may be the case with


of the tenth or twentieth magnitude. We shall in no case wantonly offend

the people of any star, but shall treat all alike with urbanity and

kindliness, never conducting ourselves toward an asteroid after a fashion

which we could not venture to assume toward Jupiter or Saturn. I repeat

that we shall not wantonly offend any star; but at the same time we shall

promptly resent any injury that may be done us, or any insolence offered

us, by parties or governments residing in any star in the firmament.

Although averse to the shedding of blood, we shall still hold this course

rigidly and fearlessly, not only toward single stars, but toward

constellations. We shall hope to leave a good impression of America

behind us in every nation we visit, from Venus to Uranus. And, at all

events, if we cannot inspire love we shall at least compel respect for

our country wherever we go. We shall take with us, free of charge,


and shed the true light upon all the celestial orbs which, physically

aglow, are yet morally in darkness. Sunday-schools will be established

wherever practicable. Compulsory education will also be introduced.

The comet will visit Mars first, and proceed to Mercury, Jupiter, Venus,

and Saturn. Parties connected with the government of the District of

Columbia and with the former city government of New York, who may desire

to inspect the rings, will be allowed time and every facility. Every

star of prominent magnitude will be visited, and time allowed for

excursions to points of interest inland.


has been stricken from the program. Much time will be spent in the Great

Bear, and, indeed, in every constellation of importance. So, also, with

the Sun and Moon and the Milky Pay, otherwise the Gulf Stream of the

Skies. Clothing suitable for wear in the sun should be provided. Our

program has been so arranged that we shall seldom go more than

100,000,000 of miles at a time without stopping at some star. This will

necessarily make the stoppages frequent and preserve the interest of the

tourist. Baggage checked through to any point on the route. Parties

desiring to make only a part of the proposed tour, and thus save expense,

may stop over at any star they choose and wait for the return voyage.

After visiting all the most celebrated stars and constellations in our

system and personally, inspecting the remotest sparks that even the most

powerful telescope can now detect in the firmament, we shall proceed with

good heart upon


of discovery among the countless whirling worlds that make turmoil in the

mighty wastes of space that stretch their solemn solitudes, their

unimaginable vastness billions upon billions of miles away beyond the

farthest verge of telescopic vision, till by comparison the little

sparkling vault we used to gaze at on Earth shall seem like a remembered

phosphorescent flash of spangles which some tropical voyager’s prow

stirred into life for a single instant, and which ten thousand miles of

phosphorescent seas and tedious lapse of time had since diminished to an

incident utterly trivial in his recollection. Children occupying seats

at the first table will be charged full fare.


from the Earth to Uranus, including visits to the Sun and Moon and all

the principal planets on the route, will be charged at the low rate of

$2 for every 50,000,000 miles of actual travel. A great reduction will

be made where parties wish to make the round trip. This comet is new and

in thorough repair and is now on her first voyage. She is confessedly

the fastest on the line. She makes 20,000,000 miles a day, with her

present facilities; but, with a picked American crew and good weather,

we are confident we can get 40,000,000 out of her. Still, we shall never

push her to a dangerous speed, and we shall rigidly prohibit racing with

other comets. Passengers desiring to diverge at any point or return will

be transferred to other comets. We make close connections at all

principal points with all reliable lines. Safety can be depended upon.

It is not to be denied that the heavens are infested with


that have not been inspected or overhauled in 10,000 years, and which

ought long ago to have been destroyed or turned into hail-barges, but

with these we have no connection whatever. Steerage passengers not

allowed abaft the main hatch.

Complimentary round-trip tickets have been tendered to General Butler,

Mr. Shepherd, Mr. Richardson, and other eminent gentlemen, whose public

services have entitled them to the rest and relaxation of a voyage of

this kind. Parties desiring to make the round trip will have extra

accommodation. The entire voyage will be completed, and the passengers

landed in New York again, on the 14th of December, 1991. This is, at

least, forty years quicker than any other comet can do it in. Nearly all

the back-pay members contemplate making the round trip with us in case

their constituents will allow them a holiday. Every harmless amusement

will be allowed on board, but no pools permitted on the run of the comet

–no gambling of any kind. All fixed stars will be respected by us, but

such stars as seem, to need fixing we shall fix. If it makes trouble, we

shall be sorry, but firm.

Mr. Coggia having leased his comet to us, she will no longer be called by

his name, but by my partner’s. N. B.–Passengers by paying double fare

will be entitled to a share in all the new stars, suns, moons, comets,

meteors, and magazines of thunder and lightning we may discover. Patent-

medicine people will take notice that


and a paint-brush along for use in the constellations, and are open to

terms. Cremationists are reminded that we are going straight to–some

hot places–and are open to terms. To other parties our enterprise is a

pleasure excursion, but individually we mean business. We shall fly our

comet for all it is worth.


or for freight or passage, apply on board, or to my partner, but not to

me, since I do not take charge of the comet until she is under way.

It is necessary, at a time like this, that my mind should not be burdened

with small business details.


RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR –[Written about 1870.]

A few months ago I was nominated for Governor of the great state of New

York, to run against Mr. John T. Smith and Mr. Blank J. Blank on an

independent ticket. I somehow felt that I had one prominent advantage

over these gentlemen, and that was–good character. It was easy to see

by the newspapers that if ever they had known what it was to bear a good

name, that time had gone by. It was plain that in these latter years

they had become familiar with all manner of shameful crimes. But at the

very moment that I was exalting my advantage and joying in it in secret,

there was a muddy undercurrent of discomfort “riling” the deeps of my

happiness, and that was–the having to hear my name bandied about in

familiar connection with those of such people. I grew more and more

disturbed. Finally I wrote my grandmother about it. Her answer came

quick and sharp. She said:

You have never done one single thing in all your life to be ashamed

of–not one. Look at the newspapers–look at them and comprehend

what sort of characters Messrs. Smith and Blank are, and then see

if you are willing to lower yourself to their level and enter a

public canvass with them.

It was my very thought! I did not sleep a single moment that night.

But, after all, I could not recede.

I was fully committed, and must go on with the fight. As I was looking

listlessly over the papers at breakfast I came across this paragraph,

and I may truly say I never was so confounded before.

PERJURY.–Perhaps, now that Mr. Mark Twain is before the people as a

candidate for Governor, he will condescend to explain how he came to

be convicted of perjury by thirty-four witnesses in Wakawak, Cochin

China, in 1863, the intent of which perjury being to rob a poor

native widow and her helpless family of a meager plantain-patch,

their only stay and support in their bereavement and desolation.

Mr. Twain owes it to himself, as well as to the great people whose

suffrages he asks, to clear this matter up. Will he do it?

I thought I should burst with amazement! Such a cruel, heartless charge!

I never had seen Cochin China! I never had heard of Wakawak ! I didn’t

know a plantain-patch from a kangaroo! I did not know what to do. I was

crazed and helpless. I let the day slip away without doing anything at

all. The next morning the same paper had this–nothing more:

SIGNIFICANT.–Mr. Twain, it will be observed, is suggestively

silent about the Cochin China perjury.

[Mem.–During the rest of the campaign this paper never referred to me in

any other way than as “the infamous perjurer Twain.”]

Next came the Gazette, with this:

WANTED TO KNOW.–Will the new candidate for Governor deign to

explain to certain of his fellow-citizens (who are suffering to vote

for him!) the little circumstance of his cabin-mates in Montana

losing small valuables from time to time, until at last, these

things having been invariably found on Mr. Twain’s person or in his

“trunk” (newspaper he rolled his traps in), they felt compelled to

give him a friendly admonition for his own good, and so tarred and

feathered him, and rode him on a rail; and then advised him to leave

a permanent vacuum in the place he usually occupied in the camp.

Will he do this?

Could anything be more deliberately malicious than that? For I never was

in Montana in my life.

[After this, this journal customarily spoke of me as, “Twain, the Montana


I got to picking up papers apprehensively–much as one would lift a

desired blanket which he had some idea might have a rattlesnake under it.

One day this met my eye:

THE LIE NAILED.–By the sworn affidavits of Michael O’Flanagan,

Esq., of the Five Points, and Mr. Snub Rafferty and Mr. Catty

Mulligan, of Water Street, it is established that Mr. Mark Twain’s

vile statement that the lamented grandfather of our noble standard-

bearer, Blank J. Blank, was hanged for highway robbery, is a brutal

and gratuitous LIE, without a shadow of foundation in fact. It is

disheartening to virtuous men to see such shameful means resorted to

to achieve political success as the attacking of the dead in their

graves, and defiling their honored names with slander. When we

think of the anguish this miserable falsehood must cause the

innocent relatives and friends of the deceased, we are almost driven

to incite an outraged and insulted public to summary and unlawful

vengeance upon the traducer. But no! let us leave him to the agony

of a lacerated conscience (though if passion should get the better

of the public, and in its blind fury they should do the traducer

bodily injury, it is but too obvious that no jury could convict and

no court punish the perpetrators of the deed).

The ingenious closing sentence had the effect of moving me out of bed

with despatch that night, and out at the back door also, while the

“outraged and insulted public” surged in the front way, breaking

furniture and windows in their righteous indignation as they came,

and taking off such property as they could carry when they went.

And yet I can lay my hand upon the Book and say that I never slandered

Mr. Blank’s grandfather. More: I had never even heard of him or

mentioned him up to that day and date.

[I will state, in passing, that the journal above quoted from always

referred to me afterward as “Twain, the Body-Snatcher.”]

The next newspaper article that attracted my attention was the following:

A SWEET CANDIDATE.–Mr. Mark Twain, who was to make such a

blighting speech at the mass-meeting of the Independents last night,

didn’t come to time! A telegram from his physician stated that he

had been knocked down by a runaway team, and his leg broken in two

places–sufferer lying in great agony, and so forth, and so forth,

and a lot more bosh of the same sort. And the Independents tried

hard to swallow the wretched subterfuge, and pretend that they did

not know what was the real reason of the absence of the abandoned

creature whom they denominate their standard-bearer. A certain man

was seen to reel into Mr. Twain’s hotel last night in a state of

beastly intoxication. It is the imperative duty of the Independents

to prove that this besotted brute was not Mark Twain himself. We

have them at last! This is a case that admits of no shirking. The

voice of the people demands in thunder tones, “WHO WAS THAT MAN?”

It was incredible, absolutely incredible, for a moment, that it was

really my name that was coupled with this disgraceful suspicion. Three

long years had passed over my head since I had tasted ale, beer, wine or

liquor or any kind.

[It shows what effect the times were having on me when I say that I saw

myself, confidently dubbed “Mr. Delirium Tremens Twain” in the next issue

of that journal without a pang–notwithstanding I knew that with

monotonous fidelity the paper would go on calling me so to the very end.]

By this time anonymous letters were getting to be an important part of my

mail matter. This form was common

How about that old woman you kiked of your premises which

was beging. POL. PRY.

And this:

There is things which you Have done which is unbeknowens to anybody

but me. You better trot out a few dots, to yours truly, or you’ll

hear through the papers from


This is about the idea. I could continue them till the reader was

surfeited, if desirable.

Shortly the principal Republican journal “convicted” me of wholesale

bribery, and the leading Democratic paper “nailed” an aggravated case of

blackmailing to me.

[In this way I acquired two additional names: “Twain the Filthy

Corruptionist” and “Twain the Loathsome Embracer.”]

By this time there had grown to be such a clamor for an “answer” to all

the dreadful charges that were laid to me that the editors and leaders of

my party said it would be political ruin for me to remain silent any

longer. As if to make their appeal the more imperative, the following

appeared in one of the papers the very next day:

BEHOLD THE MAN!–The independent candidate still maintains silence.

Because he dare not speak. Every accusation against him has been

amply proved, and they have been indorsed and reindorsed by his own

eloquent silence, till at this day he stands forever convicted.

Look upon your candidate, Independents! Look upon the Infamous

Perjurer! the Montana Thief! the Body-Snatcher! Contemplate your

incarnate Delirium Tremens! your Filthy Corruptionist! your

Loathsome Embracer! Gaze upon him–ponder him well–and then say if

you can give your honest votes to a creature who has earned this

dismal array of titles by his hideous crimes, and dares not open his

mouth in denial of any one of them!

There was no possible way of getting out of it, and so, in deep

humiliation, I set about preparing to “answer” a mass of baseless charges

and mean and wicked falsehoods. But I never finished the task, for the

very next morning a paper came out with a new horror, a fresh malignity,

and seriously charged me with burning a lunatic asylum with all its

inmates, because it obstructed the view from my house. This threw me

into a sort of panic. Then came the charge of poisoning my uncle to get

his property, with an imperative demand that the grave should be opened.

This drove me to the verge of distraction. On top of this I was accused

of employing toothless and incompetent old relatives to prepare the food

for the foundling’ hospital when I warden. I was wavering–wavering.

And at last, as a due and fitting climax to the shameless persecution

that party rancor had inflicted upon me, nine little toddling children,

of all shades of color and degrees of raggedness, were taught to rush

onto the platform at a public meeting, and clasp me around the legs and

call me PA!

I gave it up. I hauled down my colors and surrendered. I was not equal

to the requirements of a Gubernatorial campaign in the state of New York,

and so I sent in my withdrawal from the candidacy, and in bitterness of

spirit signed it, “Truly yours, once a decent man, but now

MARK TWAIN, LP., M.T., B.S., D.T., F.C., and L.E.”


The first notice that was taken of me when I “settled down” recently was

by a gentleman who said he was an assessor, and connected with the U. S.

Internal Revenue Department. I said I had never heard of his branch of

business before, but I was very glad to see him all the same. Would he

sit down? He sat down. I did not know anything particular to say, and

yet I felt that people who have arrived at the dignity of keeping house

must be conversational, must be easy and sociable in company. So, in

default of anything else to say, I asked him if he was opening his shop

in our neighborhood.

He said he was. [I did not wish to appear ignorant, but I had hoped he

would mention what he had for sale.]

I ventured to ask him “How was trade?” And he said “So-so.”

I then said we would drop in, and if we liked his house as well as any

other, we would give him our custom.

He said he thought we would like his establishment well enough to confine

ourselves to it–said he never saw anybody who would go off and hunt up

another man in his line after trading with him once.

That sounded pretty complacent, but barring that natural expression of

villainy which we all have, the man looked honest enough.

I do not know how it came about exactly, but gradually we appeared to

melt down and run together, conversationally speaking, and then

everything went along as comfortably as clockwork.

We talked, and talked, and talked–at least I did; and we laughed, and

laughed, and laughed–at least he did. But all the time I had my

presence of mind about me–I had my native shrewdness turned on “full

head,” as the engineers say. I was determined to find out all about his

business in spite of his obscure answers–and I was determined I would

have it out of him without his suspecting what I was at. I meant to trap

him with a deep, deep ruse. I would tell him all about my own business,

and he would naturally so warm to me during this seductive burst of

confidence that he would forget himself, and tell me all about his

affairs before he suspected what I was about. I thought to myself, My

son, you little know what an old fox you are dealing with. I said:

“Now you never would guess what I made lecturing this winter and last


“No–don’t believe I could, to save me. Let me see–let me see. About

two thousand dollars, maybe? But no; no, sir, I know you couldn’t have

made that much. Say seventeen hundred, maybe?”

“Ha! ha! I knew you couldn’t. My lecturing receipts for last spring and

this winter were fourteen thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars. What

do you think of that?”

“Why, it is amazing-perfectly amazing. I will make a note of it. And

you say even this wasn’t all?”

“All! Why bless you, there was my income from the Daily Warwhoop for

four months–about–about–well, what should you say to about eight

thousand dollars, for instance?”

“Say! Why, I should say I should like to see myself rolling in just such

another ocean of affluence. Eight thousand! I’ll make a note of it.

Why man! –and on top of all this am I to understand that you had still

more income?”

“Ha! ha! ha! Why, you’re only in the suburbs of it, so to speak.

There’s my book, The Innocents Abroad price $3.50 to $5, according to the

binding. Listen to me. Look me in the eye. During the last four months

and a half, saying nothing of sales before that, but just simply during

the four months and a half, we’ve sold ninety-five thousand copies of

that book. Ninety-five thousand! Think of it. Average four dollars a

copy, say. It’s nearly four hundred thousand dollars, my son. I get


“The suffering Moses! I’ll set that down. Fourteen-seven-fifty–eight-

two hundred. Total, say–well, upon my word, the grand total is about

two hundred and thirteen or fourteen thousand dollars! Is that


“Possible! If there’s any mistake it’s the other way. Two hundred and

fourteen thousand, cash, is my income for this year if I know how to


Then the gentleman got up to go. It came over me most uncomfortably that

maybe I had made my revelations for nothing, besides being flattered into

stretching them considerably by the stranger’s astonished exclamations.

But no; at the last moment the gentleman handed me a large envelope, and

said it contained his advertisement; and that I would find out all about

his business in it; and that he would be happy to have my custom-would,

in fact, be proud to have the custom of a man of such prodigious income;

and that he used to think there were several wealthy men in the city, but

when they came to trade with him he discovered that they barely had

enough to live on; and that, in truth, it had been such a weary, weary

age since he had seen a rich man face to face, and talked to him, and

touched him with his hands, that he could hardly refrain from embracing

me–in fact, would esteem it a great favor if I would let him embrace me.

This so pleased me that I did not try to resist, but allowed this simple-

hearted stranger to throw his arms about me and weep a few tranquilizing

tears down the back of my neck. Then he went his way.

As soon as he was gone I opened his advertisement. I studied it

attentively for four minutes. I then called up the cook, and said:

“Hold me while I faint! Let Marie turn the griddle-cakes.”

By and by, when I came to, I sent down to the rum-mill on the corner and

hired an artist by the week to sit up nights and curse that stranger, and

give me a lift occasionally in the daytime when I came to a hard place.

Ah, what a miscreant he was! His “advertisement was nothing in the

world. but a wicked tax-return–a string of impertinent questions about

my private affairs, occupying the best part of four fools-cap pages of

fine print-questions, I may remark, gotten up with such marvelous

ingenuity that the oldest man in the world couldn’t understand what the

most of them were driving at–questions, too, that were calculated to

make a man report about four times his actual income to keep from

swearing to a falsehood. I looked for a loophole, but there did not

appear to be any. Inquiry No. 1 covered my case as generously and as

amply as an umbrella could cover an ant-hill:

What were your profits, during the past year, from any trade,

business, or vocation, wherever carried on?

And that inquiry was backed up by thirteen others of an equally searching

nature, the most modest of which required information as to whether I had

committed any burglary or highway robbery, or, by any arson or other

secret source of emolument had acquired property which was not enumerated

in my statement of income as set opposite to inquiry No. 1.

It was plain that that stranger had enabled me to make a goose of myself.

It was very, very plain; and so I went out and hired another artist.

By working on my vanity, the stranger had seduced me into declaring an

income of two hundred and fourteen thousand dollars. By law, one

thousand dollars of this was exempt from income tax–the only relief I

could see, and it was only a drop in the ocean. At the legal five per

cent., I must pay to the government the sum of ten thousand six hundred

and fifty dollars, income tax!

[I may remark, in this place, that I did not do it.]

I am acquainted with a very opulent man, whose house is a palace, whose

table is regal, whose outlays are enormous, yet a man who has no income,

as I have often noticed by the revenue returns; and to him I went for

advice in my distress. He took my dreadful exhibition of receipts, he

put on his glasses, he took his pen, and presto!–I was a pauper! It was

the neatest thing that ever was. He did it simply by deftly manipulating

the bill of “DEDUCTIONS.” He set down my “State, national, and municipal

taxes” at so much; my “losses by shipwreck; fire, etc.,” at so much; my

“losses on sales of real estate”–on “live stock sold”–on “payments for

rent of homestead”–on “repairs, improvements, interest”–on “previously

taxed salary as an officer of the United States army, navy, revenue

service,” and other things. He got astonishing “deductions” out of each

and every one of these matters–each and every one of them. And when he

was done he handed me the paper, and I saw at a glance that during the

year my income, in the way of profits, had been one thousand two hundred

and fifty dollars and forty cents.

“Now,” said he, “the thousand dollars is exempt by law. What you want to

do is to go and swear this document in and pay tax on the two hundred and

fifty dollars.”

[While he was making this speech his little boy Willie lifted a two-

dollar greenback out of his vest pocket and vanished with it, and I would

wager; anything that if my stranger were to call on that little boy to-

morrow he would make a false return of his income.]

“Do you,” said I, “do you always work up the ‘deductions’ after this

fashion in your own case, sir?”

“Well, I should say so! If it weren’t for those eleven saving clauses

under the head of ‘Deductions’ I should be beggared every year to support

this hateful and wicked, this extortionate and tyrannical government.”

This gentleman stands away up among the very best of the solid men of the

city–the men of moral weight, of commercial integrity, of unimpeachable,

social spotlessness–and so I bowed to his example. I went down to the

revenue office, and under the accusing eyes of my old visitor I stood up

and swore to lie after lie, fraud after fraud, villainy after villainy,

till my soul was coated inches and inches thick with perjury, and my

self-respect gone for ever and ever.

But what of it? It is nothing more than thousands of the richest and

proudest, and most respected, honored, and courted men in America do

every year. And so I don’t care. I am not ashamed. I shall simply,

for the present, talk little and eschew fire-proof gloves, lest I fall

into certain dreadful habits irrevocably.

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