Sketches New and Old, Complete
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
Part 5 out of 6
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.
AURELIA'S UNFORTUNATE YOUNG MAN--[Written about 1865.]
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.
"PARTY CRIES" IN IRELAND
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.
THE FACTS CONCERNING THE RECENT RESIGNATION
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
"To a Cabinet meeting? I would like to know what business you had at a
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
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
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
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
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.
HONORED AS A CURIOSITY
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
"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
"I'm only a private personage--an unassuming stranger--lately arrived
"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."
FIRST INTERVIEW WITH ARTEMUS WARD--[Written about 1870.]
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
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.
THE STRANGER'S NARRATIVE
"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
"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
"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 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
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
THE KILLING OF JULIUS CAESAR "LOCALIZED"--[Written about 1865.]
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
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
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
THE WIDOW'S PROTEST
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
"The mud-Jobber was all ready, and when the second speech was finished,
"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
"'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 deep!'
"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
"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
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
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
A CURIOUS PLEASURE EXCURSION
--[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.
DEPARTURE OF THE COMET
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.
THE POSTAL SERVICE
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
THE INHABITANTS OF STARS
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,
A GREAT FORCE OF MISSIONARIES,
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.
THE DOG STAR
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
A STUPENDOUS VOYAGE
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
OLD RAMSHACKLE COMETS
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
WE CARRY BULLETIN-BOARDS
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.
FOR FURTHER PARTICULARS,
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
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