Sketches New and Old, Part 1.
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
Produced by David Widger
SKETCHES NEW AND OLD
by Mark Twain
CONTENTS (Entire ebook)
The Jumping Frog
Journalism In Tennessee
The Story Of The Bad Little Boy
The Story Of The Good Little Boy
A Couple Of Poems By Twain And Moore
Answers To Correspondents
To Raise Poultry
Experience Of The Mcwilliamses With Membranous Croup
My First Literary Venture
How The Author Was Sold In Newark
The Office Bore
The Facts In The Case Of The Great Beef Contract
The Case Of George Fisher
Disgraceful Persecution Of A Boy
The Judges "Spirited Woman"
Some Learned Fables, For Good Old Boys And Girls
My Late Senatorial Secretaryship
A Fashion Item
A Fine Old Man
Science Vs. Luck
The Late Benjamin Franklin
Mr. Bloke's Item
A Medieval Romance
Petition Concerning Copyright
A New Crime
A Curious Dream
A True Story
The Siamese Twins
Speech At The Scottish Banquet In London
A Ghost Story
The Capitoline Venus
Speech On Accident Insurance
John Chinaman In New York
How I Edited An Agricultural Paper
The Petrified Man
My Bloody Massacre
The Undertaker's Chat
Aurelia's Unfortunate Young Man
"Party Cries" In Ireland
The Facts Concerning The Recent Resignation
History Repeats Itself
Honored As A Curiosity
First Interview With Artemus Ward
Cannibalism In The Cars
The Killing Of Julius Caesar "Localized"
The Widow's Protest
The Scriptural Panoramist
Curing A Cold
A Curious Pleasure Excursion
Running For Governor
A Mysterious Visit
I have scattered through this volume a mass of matter which has never
been in print before (such as "Learned Fables for Good Old Boys and
Girls," the "Jumping Frog restored to the English tongue after martyrdom
in the French," the "Membranous Croup" sketch, and many others which I
need not specify): not doing this in order to make an advertisement of
it, but because these things seemed instructive.
SKETCHES NEW AND OLD
MY WATCH--[Written about 1870.]
AN INSTRUCTIVE LITTLE TALE
My beautiful new watch had run eighteen months without losing or gaining,
and without breaking any part of its machinery or stopping. I had come
to believe it infallible in its judgments about the time of day, and to
consider its constitution and its anatomy imperishable. But at last, one
night, I let it run down. I grieved about it as if it were a recognized
messenger and forerunner of calamity. But by and by I cheered up, set
the watch by guess, and commanded my bodings and superstitions to depart.
Next day I stepped into the chief jeweler's to set it by the exact time,
and the head of the establishment took it out of my hand and proceeded to
set it for me. Then he said, "She is four minutes slow-regulator wants
pushing up." I tried to stop him--tried to make him understand that the
watch kept perfect time. But no; all this human cabbage could see was
that the watch was four minutes slow, and the regulator must be pushed up
a little; and so, while I danced around him in anguish, and implored him
to let the watch alone, he calmly and cruelly did the shameful deed. My
watch began to gain. It gained faster and faster day by day. Within the
week it sickened to a raging fever, and its pulse went up to a hundred
and fifty in the shade. At the end of two months it had left all the
timepieces of the town far in the rear, and was a fraction over thirteen
days ahead of the almanac. It was away into November enjoying the snow,
while the October leaves were still turning. It hurried up house rent,
bills payable, and such things, in such a ruinous way that I could not
abide it. I took it to the watchmaker to be regulated. He asked me if I
had ever had it repaired. I said no, it had never needed any repairing.
He looked a look of vicious happiness and eagerly pried the watch open,
and then put a small dice-box into his eye and peered into its machinery.
He said it wanted cleaning and oiling, besides regulating--come in a
week. After being cleaned and oiled, and regulated, my watch slowed down
to that degree that it ticked like a tolling bell. I began to be left by
trains, I failed all appointments, I got to missing my dinner; my watch
strung out three days' grace to four and let me go to protest;
I gradually drifted back into yesterday, then day before, then into last
week, and by and by the comprehension came upon me that all solitary and
alone I was lingering along in week before last, and the world was out of
sight. I seemed to detect in myself a sort of sneaking fellow-feeling
for the mummy in the museum, and a desire to swap news with him. I went
to a watchmaker again. He took the watch all to pieces while I waited,
and then said the barrel was "swelled." He said he could reduce it in
three days. After this the watch averaged well, but nothing more. For
half a day it would go like the very mischief, and keep up such a barking
and wheezing and whooping and sneezing and snorting, that I could not
hear myself think for the disturbance; and as long as it held out there
was not a watch in the land that stood any chance against it. But the
rest of the day it would keep on slowing down and fooling along until all
the clocks it had left behind caught up again. So at last, at the end of
twenty-four hours, it would trot up to the judges' stand all right and
just in time. It would show a fair and square average, and no man could
say it had done more or less than its duty. But a correct average is
only a mild virtue in a watch, and I took this instrument to another
watchmaker. He said the king-bolt was broken. I said I was glad it was
nothing more serious. To tell the plain truth, I had no idea what the
king-bolt was, but I did not choose to appear ignorant to a stranger.
He repaired the king-bolt, but what the watch gained in one way it lost
in another. It would run awhile and then stop awhile, and then run
awhile again, and so on, using its own discretion about the intervals.
And every time it went off it kicked back like a musket. I padded my
breast for a few days, but finally took the watch to another watchmaker.
He picked it all to pieces, and turned the ruin over and over under his
glass; and then he said there appeared to be something the matter with
the hair-trigger. He fixed it, and gave it a fresh start. It did well
now, except that always at ten minutes to ten the hands would shut
together like a pair of scissors, and from that time forth they would
travel together. The oldest man in the world could not make head or tail
of the time of day by such a watch, and so I went again to have the thing
repaired. This person said that the crystal had got bent, and that the
mainspring was not straight. He also remarked that part of the works
needed half-soling. He made these things all right, and then my
timepiece performed unexceptionably, save that now and then, after
working along quietly for nearly eight hours, everything inside would let
go all of a sudden and begin to buzz like a bee, and the hands would
straightway begin to spin round and round so fast that their
individuality was lost completely, and they simply seemed a delicate
spider's web over the face of the watch. She would reel off the next
twenty-four hours in six or seven minutes, and then stop with a bang.
I went with a heavy heart to one more watchmaker, and looked on while he
took her to pieces. Then I prepared to cross-question him rigidly, for
this thing was getting serious. The watch had cost two hundred dollars
originally, and I seemed to have paid out two or three thousand for
repairs. While I waited and looked on I presently recognized in this
watchmaker an old acquaintance--a steamboat engineer of other days, and
not a good engineer, either. He examined all the parts carefully, just
as the other watchmakers had done, and then delivered his verdict with
the same confidence of manner.
"She makes too much steam-you want to hang the monkey-wrench on the
I brained him on the spot, and had him buried at my own expense.
My uncle William (now deceased, alas!) used to say that a good horse was,
a good horse until it had run away once, and that a good watch was a good
watch until the repairers got a chance at it. And he used to wonder what
became of all the unsuccessful tinkers, and gunsmiths, and shoemakers,
and engineers, and blacksmiths; but nobody could ever tell him.
Political Economy is the basis of all good government. The wisest
men of all ages have brought to bear upon this subject the--
[Here I was interrupted and informed that a stranger wished to see me
down at the door. I went and confronted him, and asked to know his
business, struggling all the time to keep a tight rein on my seething
political-economy ideas, and not let them break away from me or get
tangled in their harness. And privately I wished the stranger was in the
bottom of the canal with a cargo of wheat on top of him. I was all in a
fever, but he was cool. He said he was sorry to disturb me, but as he
was passing he noticed that I needed some lightning-rods. I said, "Yes,
yes--go on--what about it?" He said there was nothing about it, in
particular--nothing except that he would like to put them up for me.
I am new to housekeeping; have been used to hotels and boarding-houses
all my life. Like anybody else of similar experience, I try to appear
(to strangers) to be an old housekeeper; consequently I said in an
offhand way that I had been intending for some time to have six or eight
lightning-rods put up, but--The stranger started, and looked inquiringly
at me, but I was serene. I thought that if I chanced to make any
mistakes, he would not catch me by my countenance. He said he would
rather have my custom than any man's in town. I said, "All right," and
started off to wrestle with my great subject again, when he called me
back and said it would be necessary to know exactly how many "points" I
wanted put up, what parts of the house I wanted them on, and what quality
of rod I preferred. It was close quarters for a man not used to the
exigencies of housekeeping; but I went through creditably, and he
probably never suspected that I was a novice. I told him to put up eight
"points," and put them all on the roof, and use the best quality of rod.
He said he could furnish the "plain" article at 20 cents a foot;
"coppered," 25 cents; "zinc-plated spiral-twist," at 30 cents, that would
stop a streak of lightning any time, no matter where it was bound, and
"render its errand harmless and its further progress apocryphal." I said
apocryphal was no slouch of a word, emanating from the source it did,
but, philology aside, I liked the spiral-twist and would take that brand.
Then he said he could make two hundred and fifty feet answer; but to do
it right, and make the best job in town of it, and attract the admiration
of the just and the unjust alike, and compel all parties to say they
never saw a more symmetrical and hypothetical display of lightning-rods
since they were born, he supposed he really couldn't get along without
four hundred, though he was not vindictive, and trusted he was willing to
try. I said, go ahead and use four hundred, and make any kind of a job
he pleased out of it, but let me get back to my work. So I got rid of
him at last; and now, after half an hour spent in getting my train of
political-economy thoughts coupled together again, I am ready to go on
richest treasures of their genius, their experience of life, and
their learning. The great lights of commercial jurisprudence,
international confraternity, and biological deviation, of all ages,
all civilizations, and all nationalities, from Zoroaster down to
Horace Greeley, have--
[Here I was interrupted again, and required to go down and confer further
with that lightning-rod man. I hurried off, boiling and surging with
prodigious thoughts wombed in words of such majesty that each one of them
was in itself a straggling procession of syllables that might be fifteen
minutes passing a given point, and once more I confronted him--he so calm
and sweet, I so hot and frenzied. He was standing in the contemplative
attitude of the Colossus of Rhodes, with one foot on my infant tuberose,
and the other among my pansies, his hands on his hips, his hat-brim
tilted forward, one eye shut and the other gazing critically and
admiringly in the direction of my principal chimney. He said now there
was a state of things to make a man glad to be alive; and added, "I leave
it to you if you ever saw anything more deliriously picturesque than
eight lightning-rods on one chimney?" I said I had no present
recollection of anything that transcended it. He said that in his
opinion nothing on earth but Niagara Falls was superior to it in the way
of natural scenery. All that was needed now, he verily believed, to make
my house a perfect balm to the eye, was to kind of touch up the other
chimneys a little, and thus "add to the generous 'coup d'oeil' a soothing
uniformity of achievement which would allay the excitement naturally
consequent upon the 'coup d'etat.'" I asked him if he learned to talk
out of a book, and if I could borrow it anywhere? He smiled pleasantly,
and said that his manner of speaking was not taught in books, and that
nothing but familiarity with lightning could enable a man to handle his
conversational style with impunity. He then figured up an estimate, and
said that about eight more rods scattered about my roof would about fix
me right, and he guessed five hundred feet of stuff would do it; and
added that the first eight had got a little the start of him, so to
speak, and used up a mere trifle of material more than he had calculated
on--a hundred feet or along there. I said I was in a dreadful hurry,
and I wished we could get this business permanently mapped out, so that I
could go on with my work. He said, "I could have put up those eight
rods, and marched off about my business--some men would have done it.
But no; I said to myself, this man is a stranger to me, and I will die
before I'll wrong him; there ain't lightning-rods enough on that house,
and for one I'll never stir out of my tracks till I've done as I would be
done by, and told him so. Stranger, my duty is accomplished; if the
recalcitrant and dephlogistic messenger of heaven strikes your--"
"There, now, there," I said, "put on the other eight--add five hundred
feet of spiral-twist--do anything and everything you want to do; but calm
your sufferings, and try to keep your feelings where you can reach them
with the dictionary. Meanwhile, if we understand each other now, I will
go to work again."
I think I have been sitting here a full hour this time, trying to get
back to where I was when my train of thought was broken up by the last
interruption; but I believe I have accomplished it at last, and may
venture to proceed again.]
wrestled with this great subject, and the greatest among them have
found it a worthy adversary, and one that always comes up fresh and
smiling after every throw. The great Confucius said that he would
rather be a profound political economist than chief of police.
Cicero frequently said that political economy was the grandest
consummation that the human mind was capable of consuming; and even
our own Greeley had said vaguely but forcibly that "Political--
[Here the lightning-rod man sent up another call for me. I went down in
a state of mind bordering on impatience. He said he would rather have
died than interrupt me, but when he was employed to do a job, and that
job was expected to be done in a clean, workmanlike manner, and when it
was finished and fatigue urged him to seek the rest and recreation he
stood so much in need of, and he was about to do it, but looked up and
saw at a glance that all the calculations had been a little out, and if a
thunder-storm were to come up, and that house, which he felt a personal
interest in, stood there with nothing on earth to protect it but sixteen
lightning-rods--"Let us have peace!" I shrieked. "Put up a hundred and
fifty! Put some on the kitchen! Put a dozen on the barn! Put a couple
on the cow! Put one on the cook!--scatter them all over the persecuted
place till it looks like a zinc-plated, spiral-twisted, silver-mounted
canebrake! Move! Use up all the material you can get your hands on, and
when you run out of lightning-rods put up ramrods, cam-rods, stair-rods,
piston-rods--anything that will pander to your dismal appetite for
artificial scenery, and bring respite to my raging brain and healing to
my lacerated soul!" Wholly unmoved--further than to smile sweetly--this
iron being simply turned back his wrist-bands daintily, and said he would
now proceed to hump himself. Well, all that was nearly three hours ago.
It is questionable whether I am calm enough yet to write on the noble
theme of political economy, but I cannot resist the desire to try, for it
is the one subject that is nearest to my heart and dearest to my brain of
all this world's philosophy.]
economy is heaven's best boon to man." When the loose but gifted
Byron lay in his Venetian exile he observed that, if it could be
granted him to go back and live his misspent life over again, he
would give his lucid and unintoxicated intervals to the composition,
not of frivolous rhymes, but of essays upon political economy.
Washington loved this exquisite science; such names as Baker,
Beckwith, Judson, Smith, are imperishably linked with it; and even
imperial Homer, in the ninth book of the Iliad, has said:
Fiat justitia, ruat coelum,
Post mortem unum, ante bellum,
Hic facet hoc, ex-parte res,
Politicum e-conomico est.
The grandeur of these conceptions of the old poet, together with the
felicity of the wording which clothes them, and the sublimity of the
imagery whereby they are illustrated, have singled out that stanza,
and made it more celebrated than any that ever--
["Now, not a word out of you--not a single word. Just state your bill
and relapse into impenetrable silence for ever and ever on these
premises. Nine hundred, dollars? Is that all? This check for the
amount will be honored at any respectable bank in America. What is that
multitude of people gathered in the street for? How?--'looking at the
lightning-rods!' Bless my life, did they never see any lightning-rods
before? Never saw 'such a stack of them on one establishment,' did I
understand you to say? I will step down and critically observe this
popular ebullition of ignorance."]
THREE DAYS LATER.--We are all about worn out. For four-and-twenty hours
our bristling premises were the talk and wonder of the town. The
theaters languished, for their happiest scenic inventions were tame and
commonplace compared with my lightning-rods. Our street was blocked
night and day with spectators, and among them were many who came from
the country to see. It was a blessed relief on the second day when a
thunderstorm came up and the lightning began to "go for" my house, as the
historian Josephus quaintly phrases it. It cleared the galleries, so to
speak. In five minutes there was not a spectator within half a mile of
my place; but all the high houses about that distance away were full,
windows, roof, and all. And well they might be, for all the falling
stars and Fourth-of-July fireworks of a generation, put together and
rained down simultaneously out of heaven in one brilliant shower upon one
helpless roof, would not have any advantage of the pyrotechnic display
that was making my house so magnificently conspicuous in the general
gloom of the storm.
By actual count, the lightning struck at my establishment seven
hundred and sixty-four times in forty minutes, but tripped on one of
those faithful rods every time, and slid down the spiral-twist and shot
into the earth before it probably had time to be surprised at the way the
thing was done. And through all that bombardment only one patch of slates
was ripped up, and that was because, for a single instant, the rods in
the vicinity were transporting all the lightning they could possibly
accommodate. Well, nothing was ever seen like it since the world began.
For one whole day and night not a member of my family stuck his head out
of the window but he got the hair snatched off it as smooth as a
billiard-ball; and; if the reader will believe me, not one of us ever
dreamt of stirring abroad. But at last the awful siege came to an
end-because there was absolutely no more electricity left in the clouds
above us within grappling distance of my insatiable rods. Then I sallied
forth, and gathered daring workmen together, and not a bite or a nap did
we take till the premises were utterly stripped of all their terrific
armament except just three rods on the house, one on the kitchen, and one
on the barn--and, behold, these remain there even unto this day. And
then, and not till then, the people ventured to use our street again.
I will remark here, in passing, that during that fearful time I did not
continue my essay upon political economy. I am not even yet settled
enough in nerve and brain to resume it.
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN.--Parties having need of three thousand two
hundred and eleven feet of best quality zinc-plated spiral-twist
lightning-rod stuff, and sixteen hundred and thirty-one silver-tipped
points, all in tolerable repair (and, although much worn by use, still
equal to any ordinary emergency), can hear of a bargains by addressing
THE JUMPING FROG [written about 1865]
IN ENGLISH. THEN IN FRENCH. THEN CLAWED BACK INTO A CIVILIZED LANGUAGE
ONCE MORE BY PATIENT, UNREMUNERATED TOIL.
Even a criminal is entitled to fair play; and certainly when a man who
has done no harm has been unjustly treated, he is privileged to do his
best to right himself. My attention has just beep called to an article
some three years old in a French Magazine entitled, 'Revue des Deux
Mondes' (Review of Some Two Worlds), wherein the writer treats of "Les
Humoristes Americaines" (These Humorist Americans). I am one of these
humorists American dissected by him, and hence the complaint I am making.
This gentleman's article is an able one (as articles go, in the French,
where they always tangle up everything to that degree that when you start
into a sentence you never know whether you are going to come out alive or
not). It is a very good article and the writer says all manner of kind
and complimentary things about me--for which I am sure thank him with all
my heart; but then why should he go and spoil all his praise by one
unlucky experiment? What I refer to is this: he says my jumping Frog is
a funny story, but still he can't see why it should ever really convulse
any one with laughter--and straightway proceeds to translate it into
French in order to prove to his nation that there is nothing so very
extravagantly funny about it. Just there is where my complaint
originates. He has not translated it at all; he has simply mixed it all
up; it is no more like the jumping Frog when he gets through with it than
I am like a meridian of longitude. But my mere assertion is not proof;
wherefore I print the French version, that all may see that I do not
speak falsely; furthermore, in order that even the unlettered may know my
injury and give me their compassion, I have been at infinite pains and
trouble to retranslate this French version back into English; and to tell
the truth I have well-nigh worn myself out at it, having scarcely rested
from my work during five days and nights. I cannot speak the French
language, but I can translate very well, though not fast, I being
self-educated. I ask the reader to run his eye over the original English
version of the jumping Frog, and then read the French or my
retranslation, and kindly take notice how the Frenchman has riddled the
grammar. I think it is the worst I ever saw; and yet the French are
called a polished nation. If I had a boy that put sentences together as
they do, I would polish him to some purpose. Without further
introduction, the jumping Frog, as I originally wrote it, was as follows
[after it will be found the French version--(French version is deleted
from this edition)--, and after the latter my retranslation from the
THE NOTORIOUS JUMPING FROG OF CALAVERAS COUNTY [Pronounced Cal-e-va-ras]
In compliance with the request of a friend of mine, who wrote me from the
East, I called on good-natured, garrulous old Simon Wheeler, and inquired
after my friend's friend, Leonidas W. Smiley, as requested to do, and I
hereunto append the result. I have a lurking suspicion that Leonidas W.
Smiley is a myth that my friend never knew such a personage; and that he
on conjectured that if I asked old Wheeler about him, it would remind him
of his infamous Jim Smiley, and he would go to work and bore me to death
with some exasperating reminiscence him as long and as tedious as it
should be useless to me. If that was the design, it succeeded.
I found Simon Wheeler dozing comfortably by the bar-room stove of the
dilapidated tavern in the decayed mining camp Angel's, and I noticed that
he was fat and bald-headed, and had an expression of winning gentleness
and simplicity upon his tranquil countenance. He roused up, and gave me
good day. I told him that a friend of mine had commissioned me to make
some inquiries about a cherished companion of his boyhood named Leonidas
W. Smiley--Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, a young minister of the Gospel, who
he had heard was at one time resident of Angel's Camp. I added that if
Mr. Wheeler could tell me anything about this Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley,
I would feel under many obligations to him.
Simon Wheeler backed me into a corner and blockaded me there with his
chair, and then sat down and reeled off the monotonous narrative which
follows this paragraph. He never smiled he never frowned, he never
changed his voice from the gentle flowing key to which he tuned his
initial sentence, he never betrayed the slightest suspicion of
enthusiasm; but all through the interminable narrative there ran a vein
of impressive earnestness and sincerity, which showed me plainly that,
so far from his imagining that there was anything ridiculous or funny
about his story, he regarded it as a really important matter, and admired
its two heroes as men of transcendent genius in 'finesse.' I let him go
on in his own way, and never interrupted him once.
"Rev. Leonidas W. H'm, Reverend Le--well, there was a feller here, once
by the name of Jim Smiley, in the winter of '49--or maybe it was the
spring of '50--I don't recollect exactly, somehow, though what makes me
think it was one or the other is because I remember the big flume warn't
finished when he first come to the camp; but anyway, he was the
curiousest man about always betting on anything that turned up you ever
see, if he could get anybody to bet on the other side; and if he couldn't
he'd change sides. Any way that suited the other man would suit him any
way just so's he got a bet, he was satisfied. But still he was lucky,
uncommon lucky; he most always come out winner. He was always ready and
laying for a chance; there couldn't be no solit'ry thing mentioned but
that feller'd offer to bet on it, and take any side you please, as I was
just telling you. If there was a horse-race, you'd find him flush or
you'd find him busted at the end of it; if there was a dog-fight, he'd
bet on it; if there was a cat-fight, he'd bet on it; if there was a
chicken-fight, he'd bet on it; why, if there was two birds setting on a
fence, he would bet you which one would fly first; or if there was a
camp-meeting, he would be there reg'lar to bet on Parson Walker, which he
judged to be the best exhorter about here, and so he was too, and a good
man. If he even see a straddle-bug start to go anywheres, he would bet
you how long it would take him to get to--to wherever he was going to,
and if you took him up, he would foller that straddle-bug to Mexico but
what he would find out where he was bound for and how long he was on the
road. Lots of the boys here has seen that Smiley, and can tell you about
him. Why, it never made no difference to him--he'd bet on any thing--the
dangdest feller. Parson Walker's wife laid very sick once, for a good
while, and it seemed as if they warn't going to save her; but one morning
he come in, and Smiley up and asked him how she was, and he said she was
considerable better--thank the Lord for his inf'nite mercy--and coming on
so smart that with the blessing of Prov'dence she'd get well yet; and
Smiley, before he thought, says, 'Well, I'll resk two-and-a-half she
"Thish-yer Smiley had a mare--the boys called her the fifteen-minute nag,
but that was only in fun, you know, because of course she was faster than
that--and he used to win money on that horse, for all she was so slow and
always had the asthma, or the distemper, or the consumption, or something
of that kind. They used to give her two or three hundred yards' start,
and then pass her under way; but always at the fag end of the race she
get excited and desperate like, and come cavorting and straddling up,
and scattering her legs around limber, sometimes in the air, and
sometimes out to one side among the fences, and kicking up m-o-r-e dust
and raising m-o-r-e racket with her coughing and sneezing and blowing her
nose--and always fetch up at the stand just about a neck ahead, as near
as you could cipher it down.
"And he had a little small bull-pup, that to look at him you'd think he
warn't worth a cent but to set around and look ornery and lay for a
chance to steal something. But as soon as money was up on him he was a
different dog; his under-jaw'd begin to stick out like the fo'castle of
a steamboat, and his teeth would uncover and shine like the furnaces.
And a dog might tackle him and bully-rag him, and bite him, and throw him
over his shoulder two or three times, and Andrew Jackson--which was the
name of the pup--Andrew Jackson would never let on but what he was
satisfied, and hadn't expected nothing else--and the bets being doubled
and doubled on the other side all the time, till the money was all up;
and then all of a sudden he would grab that other dog jest by the j'int
of his hind leg and freeze to it--not chaw, you understand, but only just
grip and hang on till they throwed up the sponge, if it was a year.
Smiley always come out winner on that pup, till he harnessed a dog once
that didn't have no hind legs, because they'd been sawed off in a
circular saw, and when the thing had gone along far enough, and the money
was all up, and he come to make a snatch for his pet holt, he see in a
minute how he'd been imposed on, and how the other dog had him in the
door, so to speak, and he 'peared surprised, and then he looked sorter
discouraged-like and didn't try no more to win the fight, and so he got
shucked out bad. He give Smiley a look, as much as to say his heart was
broke, and it was his fault, for putting up a dog that hadn't no hind
legs for him to take holt of, which was his main dependence in a fight,
and then he limped off a piece and laid down and died. It was a good
pup, was that Andrew Jackson, and would have made a name for hisself if
he'd lived, for the stuff was in him and he had genius--I know it,
because he hadn't no opportunities to speak of, and it don't stand to
reason that a dog could make such a fight as he could under them
circumstances if he hadn't no talent. It always makes me feel sorry when
I think of that last fight of his'n, and the way it turned out.
"Well, thish-yer Smiley had rat-tarriers, and chicken cocks, and tomcats
and all them kind of things, till you couldn't rest, and you couldn't
fetch nothing for him to bet on but he'd match you. He ketched a frog
one day, and took him home, and said he cal'lated to educate him; and so
he never done nothing for three months but set in his back yard and learn
that frog to jump. And you bet you he did learn him, too. He'd give him a
little punch behind, and the next minute you'd see that frog whirling in
the air like a doughnut--see him turn one summerset, or maybe a couple,
if he got a good start, and come down flat-footed and all right, like a
cat. He got him up so in the matter of ketching flies, and kep' him in
practice so constant, that he'd nail a fly every time as fur as he could
see him. Smiley said all a frog wanted was education, and he could do
'most anything--and I believe him. Why, I've seen him set Dan'l Webster
down here on this floor--Dan'l Webster was the name of the frog--and sing
out, 'Flies, Dan'l, flies!' and quicker'n you could wink he'd spring
straight up and snake a fly off'n the counter there, and flop down on the
floor ag'in as solid as a gob of mud, and fall to scratching the side of
his head with his hind foot as indifferent as if he hadn't no idea he'd
been doin' any more'n any frog might do. You never see a frog so modest
and straightfor'ard as he was, for all he was so gifted. And when it
come to fair and square jumping on a dead level, he could get over more
ground at one straddle than any animal of his breed you ever see.
Jumping on a dead level was his strong suit, you understand; and when it
come to that, Smiley would ante up money on him as long as he had a red.
Smiley was monstrous proud of his frog, and well he might be, for fellers
that had traveled and been everywheres all said he laid over any frog
that ever they see.
"Well, Smiley kep' the beast in a little lattice box, and he used to
fetch him down-town sometimes and lay for a bet. One day a feller
--a stranger in the camp, he was--come acrost him with his box, and says:
"'What might it be that you've got in the box?'
"And Smiley says, sorter indifferent-like, 'It might be a parrot, or it
might be a canary, maybe, but it ain't--it's only just a frog.'
"And the feller took it, and looked at it careful, and turned it round
this way and that, and says, 'H'm--so 'tis. Well, what's HE good for.
"'Well,' Smiley says, easy and careless, 'he's good enough for one thing,
I should judge--he can outjump any frog in Calaveras County.
"The feller took the box again, and took another long, particular look,
and give it back to Smiley, and says, very deliberate, 'Well,' he says,
'I don't see no pints about that frog that's any better'n any other
"'Maybe you don't,' Smiley says. 'Maybe you understand frogs and maybe
you don't understand 'em; maybe you've had experience, and maybe you
ain't only a amature, as it were. Anyways, I've got my opinion, and I'll
resk forty dollars the he can outjump any frog in Calaveras County.'
"And the feller studied a minute, and then says, kinder sad-like, 'Well,
I'm only a, stranger here, and I ain't got no frog; but if I had a frog,
I'd bet you.
"And then Smiley says, 'That's all right--that's all right if you'll hold
my box a minute, I'll go and get you a frog.' Any so the feller took the
box, and put up his forty dollars along with Smiley's, and set down to
"So he set there a good while thinking and thinking to himself and then
he got the frog out and prized his mouth open and took a teaspoon and
filled him full of quail-shot-filled him pretty near up to his chin--and
set him on the floor. Smiley he went to the swamp and slopped around in
the mud for a long time, and finally he ketched a frog, and fetched him
in, and give him to this feller and says:
"'Now, if you're ready, set him alongside of Dan'l, with his fore paws
just even with Dan'l's, and I'll give the word.' Then he says,
'One-two-three--git' and him and the feller touches up the frogs from
behind, and the new frog hopped off lively but Dan'l give a heave, and
hysted up his shoulders---so-like a Frenchman, but it warn't no use--he
couldn't budge; he was planted as solid as a church, and he couldn't no
more stir than if he was anchored out. Smiley was a good deal surprised,
and he was disgusted too, but he didn't have no idea what the matter was
"The Teller took the money and started away; and when he was going out at
the door, he sorter jerked his thumb over his shoulder--so--at Dan'l, and
says again, very deliberate, 'Well,' he says, 'I don't see no pints about
that frog that's any better'n any other frog.'
"Smiley he stood scratching his head and looking down at Dan'l a long
time, and at last he says, 'I do wonder what in the nation that frog
throw'd off for--I wonder if there ain't something the matter with him
--he 'pears to look mighty baggy, somehow.' And he ketched Dan'l by the
nap of the neck, and hefted him, and says, 'Why blame my cats if he don't
weigh five pound!' and turned him upside down and he belched out a double
handful of shot. And then he see how it was, and he was the maddest man
--he set the frog down and took out after that feller, but he never
ketched him. And--"
[Here Simon Wheeler heard his name called from the front yard, and got up
to see what was wanted.] And turning to me as he moved away, he said:
"Just set where you are, stranger, and rest easy--I ain't going to be
gone a second."
But, by your leave, I did not think that a continuation of the history of
the enterprising vagabond Jim Smiley would be likely to afford me much
information concerning the Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, and so I started
At the door I met the sociable Wheeler returning, and he buttonholed me
"Well, thish-yer Smiley had a yaller one-eyed cow that didn't have no
tail, only just a short stump like a bannanner, and--"
However, lacking both time and inclination, I did not wait to hear about
the afflicted cow, but took my leave.
Now let the learned look upon this picture and say if iconoclasm can
[From the Revue des Deux Mondes, of July 15th, 1872.]
THE JUMPING FROG
"--Il y avait, une fois ici un individu connu sous le nom de Jim Smiley:
c'etait dans l'hiver de 49, peut-etre bien au printemps de 50, je ne me
reappelle pas exactement. Ce qui me fait croire que c'etait l'un ou
l'autre, c'est que je me souviens que le grand bief n'etait pas acheve
lorsqu'il arriva au camp pour la premiere fois, mais de toutes facons il
etait l'homme le plus friand de paris qui se put voir, pariant sur tout
ce qui se presentaat, quand il pouvait trouver un adversaire, et, quand
n'en trouvait pas il passait du cote oppose. Tout ce qui convenaiat
l'autre lui convenait; pourvu qu'il eut un pari, Smiley etait satisfait.
Et il avait une chance! une chance inouie: presque toujours il gagnait.
It faut dire qu'il etait toujours pret a'exposer, qu'on ne pouvait
mentionner la moindre chose sans que ce gaillard offrit de parier
la-dessus n'importe quoi et de prendre le cote que l'on voudrait, comme
je vous le disais tout a l'heure. S'il y avait des courses, vous le
trouviez riche ou ruine a la fin; s'il y avait un combat de chiens, il
apportait son enjeu; il l'apportait pour un combat de chats, pour un
combat de coqs;--parbleu! si vous aviez vu deux oiseaux sur une haie il
vous aurait offert de parier lequel s'envolerait le premier, et s'il y
aviat 'meeting' au camp, il venait parier regulierement pour le cure
Walker, qu'il jugeait etre le meilleur predicateur des environs, et qui
l'etait en effet, et un brave homme. Il aurai rencontre une punaise de
bois en chemin, qu'il aurait parie sur le temps qu'il lui faudrait pour
aller ou elle voudrait aller, et si vous l'aviez pris au mot, it aurait
suivi la punaise jusqu'au Mexique, sans se soucier d'aller si loin, ni du
temps qu'il y perdrait. Une fois la femme du cure Walker fut tres malade
pendant longtemps, il semblait qu'on ne la sauverait pas; mai un matin le
cure arrive, et Smiley lui demande comment ella va et il dit qu'elle est
bien mieux, grace a l'infinie misericorde tellement mieux qu'avec la
benediction de la Providence elle s'en tirerait, et voila que, sans y
penser, Smiley repond:--Eh bien! ye gage deux et demi qu'elle mourra tout
"Ce Smiley avait une jument que les gars appelaient le bidet du quart
d'heure, mais seulement pour plaisanter, vous comprenez, parse que, bien
entendu, elle etait plus vite que ca! Et il avait coutume de gagner de
l'argent avec cette bete, quoi-qu'elle fut poussive, cornarde, toujours
prise d'asthme, de colique ou de consomption, ou de quelque chose
d'approchant. On lui donnait 2 ou 300 'yards' au depart, puffs on la
depassait sans peine; mais jamais a la fin elle ne manquait de
s'echauffer, de s'exasperer et elle arrivait, s'ecartant, se defendant,
ses jambes greles en l'ai devant les obstacles, quelquefois les evitant
et faisant avec cela plus de poussiare qu'aucun cheval, plus de bruit
surtout avec ses eternumens et reniflemens.---crac! elle arrivaat donc
toujour premiere d'une tete, aussi juste qu'on peut le mesurer. Et il
avait un petit bouledogue qui, a le voir, ne valait pas un sou; on aurait
cru que parier contre lui c'etait voler, tant il etait ordinaire; mais
aussitot les enjeux faits, il devenait un autre chien. Sa machoire
inferieure commencait a ressortir comme un gaillard d'avant, ses dents se
decouvcraient brillantes commes des fournaises, et un chien pouvait le
taquiner, l'exciter, le mordre, le jeter deux ou trois fois par-dessus
son epaule, Andre Jackson, c'etait le nom du chien, Andre Jackson prenait
cela tranquillement, comme s'il ne se fut jamais attendu a autre chose,
et quand les paris etaient doubles et redoubles contre lui, il vous
saisissait l'autre chien juste a l'articulation de la jambe de derriere,
et il ne la lachait plus, non pas qu'il la machat, vous concevez, mais il
s'y serait tenu pendu jusqu'a ce qu'on jetat l'eponge en l'air, fallut-il
attendre un an. Smiley gagnait toujours avec cette bete-la;
malheureusement ils ont fini par dresser un chien qui n'avait pas de
pattes de derriere, parce qu'on les avait sciees, et quand les choses
furent au point qu'il voulait, et qu'il en vint a se jeter sur son
morceau favori, le pauvre chien comprit en un instant qu'on s'etait moque
de lui, et que l'autre le tenait. Vous n'avez jamais vu personne avoir
l'air plus penaud et plus decourage; il ne fit aucun effort pour gagner
le combat et fut rudement secoue, de sorte que, regardant Smiley comme
pour lui dire:--Mon coeur est brise, c'est to faute; pourquoi m'avoir
livre a un chien qui n'a pas de pattes de derriere, puisque c'est par la
que je les bats?--il s'en alla en clopinant, et se coucha pour mourir.
Ah! c'etait un bon chien, cet Andre Jackson, et il se serait fait un nom,
s'il avait vecu, car il y avait de l'etoffe en lui, il avait du genie,
je la sais, bien que de grandes occasions lui aient manque; mais il est
impossible de supposer qu'un chien capable de se battre comme lui,
certaines circonstances etant donnees, ait manque de talent. Je me sens
triste toutes les fois que je pense a son dernier combat et au denoument
qu'il a eu. Eh bien! ce Smiley nourrissait des terriers a rats, et des
coqs combat, et des chats, et toute sorte de choses, au point qu'il etait
toujours en mesure de vous tenir tete, et qu'avec sa rage de paris on
n'avait plus de repos. Il attrapa un jour une grenouille et l'emporta
chez lui, disant qu'il pretendait faire son Education; vous me croirez si
vous voulez, mais pendant trois mois il n'a rien fait que lui apprendre a
sauter dans une cour retire de sa maison. Et je vous reponds qu'il avait
reussi. Il lui donnait un petit coup par derriere, et l'instant d'apres
vous voyiez la grenouille tourner en l'air comme un beignet au-dessus de
la poele, faire une culbute, quelquefois deux, lorsqu'elle etait bien
partie, et retomber sur ses pattes comme un chat. Il l'avait dressee
dans l'art de gober des mouches, er l'y exercait continuellement, si bien
qu'une mouche, du plus loin qu'elle apparaissait, etait une mouche
perdue. Smiley avait coutume de dire que tout ce qui manquait a une
grenouille, c'etait l'education, qu'avec l'education elle pouvait faire
presque tout, et je le crois. Tenez, je l'ai vu poser Daniel Webster la
sur se plancher,--Daniel Webster etait le nom de la grenouille,--et lui
chanter: Des mouches! Daniel, des mouches!--En un clin d'oeil, Daniel
avait bondi et saisi une mouche ici sur le comptoir, puis saute de
nouveau par terre, ou il restait vraiment a se gratter la tete avec sa
patte de derriere, comme s'il n'avait pas eu la moindre idee de sa
superiorite. Jamais vous n'avez grenouille vu de aussi modeste, aussi
naturelle, douee comme elle l'etait! Et quand il s'agissait de sauter
purement et simplement sur terrain plat, elle faisait plus de chemin en
un saut qu'aucune bete de son espece que vous puissiez connaitre. Sauter
a plat, c'etait son fort! Quand il s'agissait de cela, Smiley en tassait
les enjeux sur elle tant qu'il lui, restait un rouge liard. Il faut le
reconnaitre, Smiley etait monstrueusement fier de sa grenouille, et il en
avait le droit, car des gens qui avaient voyage, qui avaient tout vu,
disaient qu'on lui ferait injure de la comparer a une autre; de facon que
Smiley gardait Daniel dans une petite boite a claire-voie qu'il emportait
parfois a la Ville pour quelque pari.
"Un jour, un individu etranger au camp l'arrete aver sa boite et lui
dit:--Qu'est-ce que vous avez donc serre la dedans?
"Smiley dit d'un air indifferent:--Cela pourrait etre un perroquet ou un
serin, mais ce n'est rien de pareil, ce n'est qu'une grenouille.
"L'individu la prend, la regarde avec soin, la tourne d'un cote et de
l'autre puis il dit.--Tiens! en effet! A quoi estelle bonne?
"--Mon Dieu! repond Smiley, toujours d'un air degage, elle est bonne pour
une chose a mon avis, elle peut battre en sautant toute grenouille du
comte de Calaveras.
"L'individu reprend la boite, l'examine de nouveau longuement, et la rend
a Smiley en disant d'un air delibere:--Eh bien! je ne vois pas que cette
grenouille ait rien de mieux qu'aucune grenouille.
"--Possible qua vous ne le voyiez pat, dit Smiley, possible que vous vous
entendiez en grenouilles, possible que vous ne vous y entendez point,
possible qua vous avez de l'experience, et possible que vous ne soyez
qu'un amateur. De toute maniere, je parie quarante dollars qu'elle
battra en sautant n'importe quelle grenouille du comte de Calaveras.
"L'individu reflechit one seconde et dit comma attriste:--Je ne suis
qu'un etranger ici, je n'ai pas de grenouille; mais, si j'en
avais une, je tiendrais le pari.
"--Fort bien! repond Smiley. Rien de plus facile. Si vous voulez tenir
ma boite one minute, j'irai vous chercher une grenouille.--Voile donc
l'individu qui garde la boite, qui met ses quarante dollars sur ceux de
Smiley et qui attend. Il attend assez longtemps, reflechissant tout
seul, et figurez-vous qu'il prend Daniel, lui ouvre la bouche de force at
avec une cuiller a the l'emplit de menu plomb de chasse, mail l'emplit
jusqu'au menton, puis il le pose par terre. Smiley pendant ce temps
etait a barboter dans une mare. Finalement il attrape une grenouille,
l'apporte cet individu et dit:--Maintenant, si vous etes pret, mettez-la
tout contra Daniel, avec leurs pattes de devant sur la meme ligne, et je
donnerai le signal; puis il ajoute:--Un, deux, trois, sautez!
"Lui et l'individu touchent leurs grenouilles par derriere, et la
grenouille neuve se met h sautiller, mais Daniel se souleve lourdement,
hausse les epaules ainsi, comma un Francais; a quoi bon? il ne pouvait
bouger, il etait plante solide comma une enclume, il n'avancait pas plus
que si on l'eut mis a l'ancre. Smiley fut surpris et degoute, mais il ne
se doutait pas du tour, bien entendu. L'individu empoche l'argent, s'en
va, et en s'en allant est-ce qu'il ne donna pas un coup de pouce
pardessus l'epaule, comma ca, au pauvre Daniel, en disant de son air
delibere:--Eh bien! je ne vois pas qua cette grenouille ait rien de muiex
"Smiley se gratta longtemps la tete, les yeux fixes Sur Daniel; jusqu'a
ce qu'enfin il dit:--je me demande comment diable il se fait qua cette
bite ait refuse, . . . Est-ce qu'elle aurait quelque chose? . . . On
croirait qu'elle est enflee.
"Il empoigne Daniel par la peau du coo, le souleve et dit:--Le loup me
croque, s'il ne pese pas cinq livres.
"Il le retourne, et le malheureux crache deux poignees de plomb. Quand
Smiley reconnut ce qui en etait, il fut comme fou. Vous le voyez d'ici
poser sa grenouille par terra et courir apres cet individu, mais il ne le
rattrapa jamais, et ...."
[Translation of the above back from the French:]
THE FROG JUMPING OF THE COUNTY OF CALAVERAS
It there was one time here an individual known under the name of Jim
Smiley; it was in the winter of '89, possibly well at the spring of '50,
I no me recollect not exactly. This which me makes to believe that it
was the one or the other, it is that I shall remember that the grand
flume is not achieved when he arrives at the camp for the first time, but
of all sides he was the man the most fond of to bet which one have seen,
betting upon all that which is presented, when he could find an
adversary; and when he not of it could not, he passed to the side
opposed. All that which convenienced to the other to him convenienced
also; seeing that he had a bet Smiley was satisfied. And he had a
chance! a chance even worthless; nearly always he gained. It must to say
that he was always near to himself expose, but one no could mention the
least thing without that this gaillard offered to bet the bottom, no
matter what, and to take the side that one him would, as I you it said
all at the hour (tout a l'heure). If it there was of races, you him find
rich or ruined at the end; if it, here is a combat of dogs, he bring his
bet; he himself laid always for a combat of cats, for a combat of cocks
--by-blue! If you have see two birds upon a fence, he you should have
offered of to bet which of those birds shall fly the first; and if there
is meeting at the camp (meeting au camp) he comes to bet regularly for
the cure Walker, which he judged to be the best predicator of the
neighborhood (predicateur des environs) and which he was in effect, and a
brave man. He would encounter a bug of wood in the road, whom he will
bet upon the time which he shall take to go where she would go--and if
you him have take at the word, he will follow the bug as far as Mexique,
without himself caring to go so far; neither of the time which he there
lost. One time the woman of the cure Walker is very sick during long
time, it seemed that one not her saved not; but one morning the cure
arrives, and Smiley him demanded how she goes, and he said that she is
well better, grace to the infinite misery (lui demande comment elle va,
et il dit qu'elle est bien mieux, grace a l'infinie misericorde) so much
better that with the benediction of the Providence she herself of it
would pull out (elle s'en tirerait); and behold that without there
thinking Smiley responds: "Well, I gage two-and-half that she will die
all of same."
This Smiley had an animal which the boys called the nag of the quarter of
hour, but solely for pleasantry, you comprehend, because, well
understand, she was more fast as that! [Now why that exclamation?--M. T.]
And it was custom of to gain of the silver with this beast,
notwithstanding she was poussive, cornarde, always taken of asthma, of
colics or of consumption, or something of approaching. One him would
give two or three hundred yards at the departure, then one him passed
without pain; but never at the last she not fail of herself echauffer,
of herself exasperate, and she arrives herself ecartant, se defendant,
her legs greles in the air before the obstacles, sometimes them elevating
and making with this more of dust than any horse, more of noise above
with his eternumens and reniflemens--crac! she arrives then always first
by one head, as just as one can it measure. And he had a small bulldog
(bouledogue!) who, to him see, no value, not a cent; one would believe
that to bet against him it was to steal, so much he was ordinary; but as
soon as the game made, she becomes another dog. Her jaw inferior
commence to project like a deck of before, his teeth themselves discover
brilliant like some furnaces, and a dog could him tackle (le taquiner),
him excite, him murder (le mordre), him throw two or three times over his
shoulder, Andre Jackson--this was the name of the dog--Andre Jackson
takes that tranquilly, as if he not himself was never expecting other
thing, and when the bets were doubled and redoubled against him, he you
seize the other dog just at the articulation of the leg of behind, and he
not it leave more, not that he it masticate, you conceive, but he himself
there shall be holding during until that one throws the sponge in the
air, must he wait a year. Smiley gained always with this beast-la;
unhappily they have finished by elevating a dog who no had not of feet of
behind, because one them had sawed; and when things were at the point
that he would, and that he came to himself throw upon his morsel
favorite, the poor dog comprehended in an instant that he himself was
deceived in him, and that the other dog him had. You no have never seen
person having the air more penaud and more discouraged; he not made no
effort to gain the combat, and was rudely shucked.
Eh bien! this Smiley nourished some terriers a rats, and some cocks of
combat, and some pats, and all sorts of things; and with his rage of
betting one no had more of repose. He trapped one day a frog and him
imported with him (et l'emporta chez lui) saying that he pretended to
make his education. You me believe if you will, but during three months
he not has nothing done but to him apprehend to jump (apprendre a sauter)
in a court retired of her mansion (de sa maison). And I you respond that
he have succeeded. He him gives a small blow by behind, and the instant
after you shall see the frog turn in the air like a grease-biscuit, make
one summersault, sometimes two, when she was well started, and refall
upon his feet like a cat. He him had accomplished in the art of to
gobble the flies (gober des mouches), and him there exercised continually
--so well that a fly at the most far that she appeared was a fly lost.
Smiley had custom to say that all which lacked to a frog it was the
education, but with the education she could do nearly all--and I him
believe. Tenez, I him have seen pose Daniel Webster there upon this
plank--Daniel Webster was the name of the frog--and to him sing, "Some
flies, Daniel, some fifes!"--in a flash of the eye Daniel 30
had bounded and seized a fly here upon the counter, then jumped anew at
the earth, where he rested truly to himself scratch the head with his
behind foot, as if he no had not the least idea of his superiority.
Never you not have seen frog as modest, as natural, sweet as she was.
And when he himself agitated to jump purely and simply upon plain earth,
she does more ground in one jump than any beast of his species than you
can know. To jump plain-this was his strong. When he himself agitated
for that, Smiley multiplied the bets upon her as long as there to him
remained a red. It must to know, Smiley was monstrously proud of his
frog, and he of it was right, for some men who were traveled, who had all
seen, said that they to him would be injurious to him compare, to another
frog. Smiley guarded Daniel in a little box latticed which he carried
bytimes to the village for some bet.
One day an individual stranger at the camp him arrested with his box and
"What is this that you have them shut up there within?"
Smiley said, with an air indifferent:
"That could be a paroquet, or a syringe (ou un serin), but this no is
nothing of such, it not is but a frog."
The individual it took, it regarded with care, it turned from one side
and from the other, then he said:
"Tiens! in effect!--At what is she good?"
"My God!" respond Smiley, always with an air disengaged, "she is good for
one thing, to my notice (A mon avis), she can better in jumping (elle pent
battre en sautant) all frogs of the county of Calaveras."
The individual retook the box, it examined of new longly, and it rendered
to Smiley in saying with an air deliberate:
"Eh bien! I no saw not that that frog had nothing of better than each
frog." (Je ne vois pas que cette grenouille ait rien de mieux qu'aucune
grenouille.) [If that isn't grammar gone to seed, then I count myself no
"Possible that you not it saw not," said Smiley, "possible that you--you
comprehend frogs; possible that you not you there comprehend nothing;
possible that you had of the experience, and possible that you not be but
an amateur. Of all manner (De toute maniere) I bet forty dollars that
she better in jumping no matter which frog of the county of Calaveras."
The individual reflected a second, and said like sad:
"I not am but a stranger here, I no have not a frog; but if I of it had
one, I would embrace the bet."
"Strong well!" respond Smiley; "nothing of more facility. If you will
hold my box a minute, I go you to search a frog (j'irai vous chercher)."
Behold, then, the individual, who guards the box, who puts his forty
dollars upon those of Smiley, and who attends (et qui attend). He
attended enough long times, reflecting all solely. And figure you that
he takes Daniel, him opens the mouth by force and with a teaspoon him
fills with shot of the hunt, even him fills just to the chin, then he him
puts by the earth. Smiley during these times was at slopping in a swamp.
Finally he trapped (attrape) a frog, him carried to that individual, and
"Now if you be ready, put him all against Daniel with their before feet
upon the same line, and I give the signal"--then he added: "One, two,
Him and the individual touched their frogs by behind, and the frog new
put to jump smartly, but Daniel himself lifted ponderously, exalted the
shoulders thus, like a Frenchman--to what good? he not could budge, he
is planted solid like a church he not advance no more than if one him had
put at the anchor.
Smiley was surprised and disgusted, but he no himself doubted not of the
turn being intended (mais il ne se doutait pas du tour, bien entendu).
The individual empocketed the silver, himself with it went, and of it
himself in going is it that he no gives not a jerk of thumb over the
shoulder--like that--at the poor Daniel, in saying with his air
deliberate--(L'individu empoche l'argent, s'en va et en s'en allant
est-ce qu'il ne donne pas un coup d pouce par-dessus l'epaule, comme ga,
au pauvre Daniel, en disant de son air delibere):
"Eh bien! I no see not that that frog has nothin of better than another."
Smiley himself scratched longtimes the head, the eyes fixed upon Daniel,
until that which at last he said:
"I me demand how the devil it makes itself that this beast has refused.
Is it that she had something? One would believe that she is stuffed."
He grasped Daniel by the skin of the neck, him lifted and said:
"The wolf me bite if he no weigh not five pounds:"
He him reversed and the unhappy belched two handfuls of shot (et le
malheureux, etc.). When Smiley recognized how it was, he was like mad.
He deposited his frog by the earth and ran after that individual, but he
not him caught never.
Such is the jumping Frog, to the distorted French eye. I claim that I
never put together such an odious mixture of bad grammar and delirium
tremens in my life. And what has a poor foreigner like me done, to be
abused and misrepresented like this? When I say, "Well, I don't see no
pints about that frog that's any better'n any other frog," is it kind,
is it just, for this Frenchman to try to make it appear that I said, "Eh
bien! I no saw not that that frog had nothing of better than each frog"?
I have no heart to write more. I never felt so about anything before.
HARTFORD, March, 1875.
JOURNALISM IN TENNESSEE--[Written about 1871.]
The editor of the Memphis Avalanche swoops thus mildly down upon a
correspondent who posted him as a Radical:--"While he was writing
the first word, the middle, dotting his i's, crossing his t's, and
punching his period, he knew he was concocting a sentence that was
saturated with infamy and reeking with falsehood."--Exchange.
I was told by the physician that a Southern climate would improve my
health, and so I went down to Tennessee, and got a berth on the Morning
Glory and Johnson County War-Whoop as associate editor. When I went on
duty I found the chief editor sitting tilted back in a three-legged chair
with his feet on a pine table. There was another pine table in the room
and another afflicted chair, and both were half buried under newspapers
and scraps and sheets of manuscript. There was a wooden box of sand,
sprinkled with cigar stubs and "old soldiers," and a stove with a door
hanging by its upper hinge. The chief editor had a long-tailed black
cloth frock-coat on, and white linen pants. His boots were small and
neatly blacked. He wore a ruffled shirt, a large seal-ring, a standing
collar of obsolete pattern, and a checkered neckerchief with the ends
hanging down. Date of costume about 1848. He was smoking a cigar, and
trying to think of a word, and in pawing his hair he had rumpled his
locks a good deal. He was scowling fearfully, and I judged that he was
concocting a particularly knotty editorial. He told me to take the
exchanges and skim through them and write up the "Spirit of the Tennessee
Press," condensing into the article all of their contents that seemed of
I wrote as follows:
SPIRIT OF THE TENNESSEE PRESS
The editors of the Semi-Weekly Earthquake evidently labor under a
misapprehension with regard to the Dallyhack railroad. It is not
the object of the company to leave Buzzardville off to one side.
On the contrary, they consider it one of the most important points
along the line, and consequently can have no desire to slight it.
The gentlemen of the Earthquake will, of course, take pleasure in
making the correction.
John W. Blossom, Esq., the able editor of the Higginsville
Thunderbolt and Battle Cry of Freedom, arrived in the city
yesterday. He is stopping at the Van Buren House.
We observe that our contemporary of the Mud Springs Morning Howl has
fallen into the error of supposing that the election of Van Werter
is not an established fact, but he will have discovered his mistake
before this reminder reaches him, no doubt. He was doubtless misled
by incomplete election returns.
It is pleasant to note that the city of Blathersville is endeavoring
to contract with some New York gentlemen to pave its well-nigh
impassable streets with the Nicholson pavement. The Daily Hurrah
urges the measure with ability, and seems confident of ultimate
I passed my manuscript over to the chief editor for acceptance,
alteration, or destruction. He glanced at it and his face clouded. He
ran his eye down the pages, and his countenance grew portentous. It was
easy to see that something was wrong. Presently he sprang up and said:
"Thunder and lightning! Do you suppose I am going to speak of those
cattle that way? Do you suppose my subscribers are going to stand such
gruel as that? Give me the pen!"
I never saw a pen scrape and scratch its way so viciously, or plow
through another man's verbs and adjectives so relentlessly. While he was
in the midst of his work, somebody shot at him through the open window,
and marred the symmetry of my ear.
"Ah," said he, "that is that scoundrel Smith, of the Moral Volcano--he
was due yesterday." And he snatched a navy revolver from his belt and
fired--Smith dropped, shot in the thigh. The shot spoiled Smith's aim,
who was just taking a second chance and he crippled a stranger. It was
me. Merely a finger shot off.
Then the chief editor went on with his erasure; and interlineations.
Just as he finished them a hand grenade came down the stove-pipe, and the
explosion shivered the stove into a thousand fragments. However, it did
no further damage, except that a vagrant piece knocked a couple of my
"That stove is utterly ruined," said the chief editor.
I said I believed it was.
"Well, no matter--don't want it this kind of weather. I know the man
that did it. I'll get him. Now, here is the way this stuff ought to be
I took the manuscript. It was scarred with erasures and interlineations
till its mother wouldn't have known it if it had had one. It now read as
SPIRIT OF THE TENNESSEE PRESS
The inveterate liars of the Semi-Weekly Earthquake are evidently
endeavoring to palm off upon a noble and chivalrous people another
of their vile and brutal falsehoods with regard to that most
glorious conception of the nineteenth century, the Ballyhack
railroad. The idea that Buzzardville was to be left off at one side
originated in their own fulsome brains--or rather in the settlings
which they regard as brains. They had better, swallow this lie if
they want to save their abandoned reptile carcasses the cowhiding
they so richly deserve.
That ass, Blossom, of the Higginsville Thunderbolt and Battle Cry of
Freedom, is down here again sponging at the Van Buren.
We observe that the besotted blackguard of the Mud Springs Morning
Howl is giving out, with his usual propensity for lying, that Van
Werter is not elected. The heaven-born mission of journalism is to
disseminate truth; to eradicate error; to educate, refine, and
elevate the tone of public morals and manners, and make all men more
gentle, more virtuous, more charitable, and in all ways better, and
holier, and happier; and yet this blackhearted scoundrel degrades
his great office persistently to the dissemination of falsehood,
calumny, vituperation, and vulgarity.
Blathersville wants a Nicholson pavement--it wants a jail and a
poorhouse more. The idea of a pavement in a one-horse town composed
of two gin-mills, a blacksmith shop, and that mustard-plaster of a
newspaper, the Daily Hurrah! The crawling insect, Buckner, who
edits the Hurrah, is braying about his business with his customary
imbecility, and imagining that he is talking sense.
"Now that is the way to write--peppery and to the point. Mush-and-milk
journalism gives me the fan-tods."
About this time a brick came through the window with a splintering crash,
and gave me a considerable of a jolt in the back. I moved out of range
--I began to feel in the way.
The chief said, "That was the Colonel, likely. I've been expecting him
for two days. He will be up now right away."
He was correct. The Colonel appeared in the door a moment afterward with
a dragoon revolver in his hand.
He said, "Sir, have I the honor of addressing the poltroon who edits this
"You have. Be seated, sir. Be careful of the chair, one of its legs is
gone. I believe I have the honor of addressing the putrid liar, Colonel
"Right, Sir. I have a little account to settle with you. If you are at
leisure we will begin."
"I have an article on the 'Encouraging Progress of Moral and Intellectual
Development in America' to finish, but there is no hurry. Begin."
Both pistols rang out their fierce clamor at the same instant. The chief
lost a lock of his hair, and the Colonel's bullet ended its career in the
fleshy part of my thigh. The Colonel's left shoulder was clipped a
little. They fired again. Both missed their men this time, but I got my
share, a shot in the arm. At the third fire both gentlemen were wounded
slightly, and I had a knuckle chipped. I then said, I believed I would
go out and take a walk, as this was a private matter, and I had a
delicacy about participating in it further. But both gentlemen begged me
to keep my seat, and assured me that I was not in the way.
They then talked about the elections and the crops while they reloaded,
and I fell to tying up my wounds. But presently they opened fire again
with animation, and every shot took effect--but it is proper to remark
that five out of the six fell to my share. The sixth one mortally
wounded the Colonel, who remarked, with fine humor, that he would have to
say good morning now, as he had business uptown. He then inquired the
way to the undertaker's and left.
The chief turned to me and said, "I am expecting company to dinner, and
shall have to get ready. It will be a favor to me if you will read proof
and attend to the customers."
I winced a little at the idea of attending to the customers, but I was
too bewildered by the fusillade that was still ringing in my ears to
think of anything to say.
He continued, "Jones will be here at three--cowhide him. Gillespie will
call earlier, perhaps--throw him out of the window. Ferguson will be
along about four--kill him. That is all for today, I believe. If you
have any odd time, you may write a blistering article on the police--give
the chief inspector rats. The cowhides are under the table; weapons in
the drawer--ammunition there in the corner--lint and bandages up there in
the pigeonholes. In case of accident, go to Lancet, the surgeon,
downstairs. He advertises--we take it out in trade."
He was gone. I shuddered. At the end of the next three hours I had been
through perils so awful that all peace of mind and all cheerfulness were
gone from me. Gillespie had called and thrown me out of the window.
Jones arrived promptly, and when I got ready to do the cowhiding he took
the job off my hands. In an encounter with a stranger, not in the bill
of fare, I had lost my scalp. Another stranger, by the name of Thompson,
left me a mere wreck and ruin of chaotic rags. And at last, at bay in
the corner, and beset by an infuriated mob of editors, blacklegs,
politicians, and desperadoes, who raved and swore and flourished their
weapons about my head till the air shimmered with glancing flashes of
steel, I was in the act of resigning my berth on the paper when the chief
arrived, and with him a rabble of charmed and enthusiastic friends. Then
ensued a scene of riot and carnage such as no human pen, or steel one
either, could describe. People were shot, probed, dismembered, blown up,
thrown out of the window. There was a brief tornado of murky blasphemy,
with a confused and frantic war-dance glimmering through it, and then all
was over. In five minutes there was silence, and the gory chief and I
sat alone and surveyed the sanguinary ruin that strewed the floor around
He said, "You'll like this place when you get used to it."
I said, "I'll have to get you to excuse me; I think maybe I might write
to suit you after a while; as soon as I had had some practice and learned
the language I am confident I could. But, to speak the plain truth, that
sort of energy of expression has its inconveniences, and a, man is liable
"You see that yourself. Vigorous writing is calculated to elevate the
public, no doubt, but then I do not like to attract so much attention as
it calls forth. I can't write with comfort when I am interrupted so much
as I have been to-day. I like this berth well enough, but I don't like
to be left here to wait on the customers. The experiences are novel,
I grant you, and entertaining, too, after a fashion, but they are not
judiciously distributed. A gentleman shoots at you through the window
and cripples me; a bombshell comes down the stovepipe for your
gratification and sends the stove door down my throat; a friend drops in
to swap compliments with you, and freckles me with bullet-holes till my
skin won't hold my principles; you go to dinner, and Jones comes with his
cowhide, Gillespie throws me out of the window, Thompson tears all my
clothes off, and an entire stranger takes my scalp with the easy freedom
of an old acquaintance; and in less than five minutes all the blackguards
in the country arrive in their war-paint, and proceed to scare the rest
of me to death with their tomahawks. Take it altogether, I never had
such a spirited time in all my life as I have had to-day. No; I like
you, and I like your calm unruffled way of explaining things to the
customers, but you see I am not used to it. The Southern heart is too
impulsive; Southern hospitality is too lavish with the stranger. The
paragraphs which I have written to-day, and into whose cold sentences
your masterly hand has infused the fervent spirit of Tennesseean
journalism, will wake up another nest of hornets. All that mob of
editors will come--and they will come hungry, too, and want somebody for
breakfast. I shall have to bid you adieu. I decline to be present at
these festivities. I came South for my health, I will go back on the
same errand, and suddenly. Tennesseean journalism is too stirring for
After which we parted with mutual regret, and I took apartments at the
THE STORY OF THE BAD LITTLE BOY--[Written about 1865]
Once there was a bad little boy whose name was Jim--though, if you will
notice, you will find that bad little boys are nearly always called James
in your Sunday-school books. It was strange, but still it was true, that
this one was called Jim.
He didn't have any sick mother, either--a sick mother who was pious and
had the consumption, and would be glad to lie down in the grave and be at
rest but for the strong love she bore her boy, and the anxiety she felt
that the world might be harsh and cold toward him when she was gone.
Most bad boys in the Sunday books are named James, and have sick mothers,
who teach them to say, "Now, I lay me down," etc., and sing them to sleep
with sweet, plaintive voices, and then kiss them good night, and kneel
down by the bedside and weep. But it was different with this fellow.
He was named Jim, and there wasn't anything the matter with his mother
--no consumption, nor anything of that kind. She was rather stout than
otherwise, and she was not pious; moreover, she was not anxious on Jim's
account. She said if he were to break his neck it wouldn't be much loss.
She always spanked Jim to sleep, and she never kissed him good night; on
the contrary, she boxed his ears when she was ready to leave him.
Once this little bad boy stole the key of the pantry, and slipped in
there and helped himself to some jam, and filled up the vessel with tar,
so that his mother would never know the difference; but all at once a
terrible feeling didn't come over him, and something didn't seem to
whisper to him, "Is it right to disobey my mother? Isn't it sinful to do
this? Where do bad little boys go who gobble up their good kind mother's
jam?" and then he didn't kneel down all alone and promise never to be
wicked any more, and rise up with a light, happy heart, and go and tell
his mother all about it, and beg her forgiveness, and be blessed by her
with tears of pride and thankfulness in her eyes. No; that is the way
with all other bad boys in the books; but it happened otherwise with this
Jim, strangely enough. He ate that jam, and said it was bully, in his
sinful, vulgar way; and he put in the tar, and said that was bully also,
and laughed, and observed "that the old woman would get up and snort"
when she found it out; and when she did find it out, he denied knowing
anything about it, and she whipped him severely, and he did the crying
himself. Everything about this boy was curious--everything turned out
differently with him from the way it does to the bad Jameses in the
Once he climbed up in Farmer Acorn's apple tree to steal apples, and the
limb didn't break, and he didn't fall and break his arm, and get torn by
the farmer's great dog, and then languish on a sickbed for weeks, and
repent and become good. Oh, no; he stole as many apples as he wanted and
came down all right; and he was all ready for the dog, too, and knocked
him endways with a brick when he came to tear him. It was very strange
--nothing like it ever happened in those mild little books with marbled
backs, and with pictures in them of men with swallow-tailed coats and
bell-crowned hats, and pantaloons that are short in the legs, and women
with the waists of their dresses under their arms, and no hoops on.
Nothing like it in any of the Sunday-school books.
Once he stole the teacher's penknife, and, when he was afraid it would be
found out and he would get whipped, he slipped it into George Wilson's
cap poor Widow Wilson's son, the moral boy, the good little boy of the
village, who always obeyed his mother, and never told an untruth, and was
fond of his lessons, and infatuated with Sunday-school. And when the
knife dropped from the cap, and poor George hung his head and blushed,
as if in conscious guilt, and the grieved teacher charged the theft upon
him, and was just in the very act of bringing the switch down upon his
trembling shoulders, a white-haired, improbable justice of the peace did
not suddenly appear in their midst, and strike an attitude and say,
"Spare this noble boy--there stands the cowering culprit! I was passing
the school door at recess, and, unseen myself, I saw the theft
committed!" And then Jim didn't get whaled, and the venerable justice
didn't read the tearful school a homily, and take George by the hand and
say such boy deserved to be exalted, and then tell him come and make his
home with him, and sweep out the office, and make fires, and run errands,
and chop wood, and study law, and help his wife do household labors, and
have all the balance of the time to play and get forty cents a month, and
be happy. No it would have happened that way in the books, but didn't
happen that way to Jim. No meddling old clam of a justice dropped in to
make trouble, and so the model boy George got thrashed, and Jim was glad
of it because, you know, Jim hated moral boys. Jim said he was "down on
them milksops." Such was the coarse language of this bad, neglected boy.
But the strangest thing that ever happened to Jim was the time he went
boating on Sunday, and didn't get drowned, and that other time that he
got caught out in the storm when he was fishing on Sunday and didn't get
struck by lightning. Why, you might look, and look, all through the
Sunday-school books from now till next Christmas, and you would never
come across anything like this. Oh, no; you would find that all the bad
boys who go boating on Sunday invariably get drowned; and all the bad
boys who get caught out in storms when they are fishing on Sunday
infallibly get struck by lightning. Boats with bad boys in them always
upset on Sunday, and it always storms when bad boys go fishing on the
Sabbath. How this Jim ever escaped is a mystery to me.
This Jim bore a charmed life--that must have been the way of it. Nothing
could hurt him. He even gave the elephant in the menagerie a plug of
tobacco, and the elephant didn't knock the top of his head off with his
trunk. He browsed around the cupboard after essence-of peppermint, and
didn't make a mistake and drink aqua fortis. He stole his father's gun
and went hunting on the Sabbath, and didn't shoot three or four of his
fingers off. He struck his little sister on the temple with his fist
when he was angry, and she didn't linger in pain through long summer
days, and die with sweet words of forgiveness upon her lips that
redoubled the anguish of his breaking heart. No; she got over it. He
ran off and went to sea at last, and didn't come back and find himself
sad and alone in the world, his loved ones sleeping in the quiet
churchyard, and the vine-embowered home of his boyhood tumbled down and
gone to decay. Ah, no; he came home as drunk as a piper, and got into
the station-house the first thing.
And he grew up and married, and raised a large family, and brained them
all with an ax one night, and got wealthy by all manner of cheating and
rascality; and now he is the infernalest wickedest scoundrel in his
native village, and is universally respected, and belongs to the
So you see there never was a bad James in the Sunday-school books that
had such a streak of luck as this sinful Jim with the charmed life.
THE STORY OF THE GOOD LITTLE BOY--[Written about 1865]
Once there was a good little boy by the name of Jacob Blivens. He always
obeyed his parents, no matter how absurd and unreasonable their demands
were; and he always learned his book, and never was late at
Sabbath-school. He would not play hookey, even when his sober judgment
told him it was the most profitable thing he could do. None of the other
boys could ever make that boy out, he acted so strangely. He wouldn't
lie, no matter how convenient it was. He just said it was wrong to lie,
and that was sufficient for him. And he was so honest that he was simply
ridiculous. The curious ways that that Jacob had, surpassed everything.
He wouldn't play marbles on Sunday, he wouldn't rob birds' nests, he
wouldn't give hot pennies to organ-grinders' monkeys; he didn't seem to
take any interest in any kind of rational amusement. So the other boys
used to try to reason it out and come to an understanding of him, but
they couldn't arrive at any satisfactory conclusion. As I said before,
they could only figure out a sort of vague idea that he was "afflicted,"
and so they took him under their protection, and never allowed any harm
to come to him.
This good little boy read all the Sunday-school books; they were his
greatest delight. This was the whole secret of it. He believed in the
good little boys they put in the Sunday-school book; he had every
confidence in them. He longed to come across one of them alive once;
but he never did. They all died before his time, maybe. Whenever he
read about a particularly good one he turned over quickly to the end to
see what became of him, because he wanted to travel thousands of miles
and gaze on him; but it wasn't any use; that good little boy always died
in the last chapter, and there was a picture of the funeral, with all his
relations and the Sunday-school children standing around the grave in
pantaloons that were too short, and bonnets that were too large, and
everybody crying into handkerchiefs that had as much as a yard and a half
of stuff in them. He was always headed off in this way. He never could
see one of those good little boys on account of his always dying in the
Jacob had a noble ambition to be put in a Sunday school book. He wanted
to be put in, with pictures representing him gloriously declining to lie
to his mother, and her weeping for joy about it; and pictures
representing him standing on the doorstep giving a penny to a poor
beggar-woman with six children, and telling her to spend it freely, but
not to be extravagant, because extravagance is a sin; and pictures of him
magnanimously refusing to tell on the bad boy who always lay in wait for
him around the corner as he came from school, and welted him so over the
head with a lath, and then chased him home, saying, "Hi! hi!" as he
proceeded. That was the ambition of young Jacob Blivens. He wished to
be put in a Sunday-school book. It made him feel a lithe uncomfortable
sometimes when he reflected that the good little boys always died. He
loved to live, you know, and this was the most unpleasant feature about
being a Sunday-school-boo boy. He knew it was not healthy to be good.
He knew it was more fatal than consumption to be so supernaturally good
as the boys in the books were he knew that none of them had ever been
able to stand it long, and it pained him to think that if they put him in
a book he wouldn't ever see it, or even if they did get the book out
before he died it wouldn't be popular without any picture of his funeral
in the back part of it. It couldn't be much of a Sunday-school book that
couldn't tell about the advice he gave to the community when he was
dying. So at last, of course, he had to make up his mind to do the best
he could under the circumstances--to live right, and hang on as long as
he could and have his dying speech all ready when his time came.
But somehow nothing ever went right with the good little boy; nothing
ever turned out with him the way it turned out with the good little boys
in the books. They always had a good time, and the bad boys had the
broken legs; but in his case there was a screw loose somewhere, and it
all happened just the other way. When he found Jim Blake stealing
apples, and went under the tree to read to him about the bad little boy
who fell out of a neighbor's apple tree and broke his arm, Jim fell out
of the tree, too, but he fell on him and broke his arm, and Jim wasn't
hurt at all. Jacob couldn't understand that. There wasn't anything in
the books like it.
And once, when some bad boys pushed a blind man over in the mud, and
Jacob ran to help him up and receive his blessing, the blind man did not
give him any blessing at all, but whacked him over the head with his
stick and said he would like to catch him shoving him again, and then
pretending to help him up. This was not in accordance with any of the
books. Jacob looked them all over to see.
One thing that Jacob wanted to do was to find a lame dog that hadn't any
place to stay, and was hungry and persecuted, and bring him home and pet
him and have that dog's imperishable gratitude. And at last he found one
and was happy; and he brought him home and fed him, but when he was going
to pet him the dog flew at him and tore all the clothes off him except
those that were in front, and made a spectacle of him that was
astonishing. He examined authorities, but he could not understand the
matter. It was of the same breed of dogs that was in the books, but it
acted very differently. Whatever this boy did he got into trouble. The
very things the boys in the books got rewarded for turned out to be about
the most unprofitable things he could invest in.
Once, when he was on his way to Sunday-school, he saw some bad boys
starting off pleasuring in a sailboat. He was filled with consternation,
because he knew from his reading that boys who went sailing on Sunday
invariably got drowned. So he ran out on a raft to warn them, but a log
turned with him and slid him into the river. A man got him out pretty
soon, and the doctor pumped the water out of him, and gave him a fresh
start with his bellows, but he caught cold and lay sick abed nine weeks.
But the most unaccountable thing about it was that the bad boys in the
boat had a good time all day, and then reached home alive and well in the
most surprising manner. Jacob Blivens said there was nothing like these
things in the books. He was perfectly dumfounded.
When he got well he was a little discouraged, but he resolved to keep on
trying anyhow. He knew that so far his experiences wouldn't do to go in
a book, but he hadn't yet reached the allotted term of life for good
little boys, and he hoped to be able to make a record yet if he could
hold on till his time was fully up. If everything else failed he had his
dying speech to fall back on.
He examined his authorities, and found that it was now time for him to go
to sea as a cabin-boy. He called on a ship-captain and made his
application, and when the captain asked for his recommendations he
proudly drew out a tract and pointed to the word, "To Jacob Blivens, from
his affectionate teacher." But the captain was a coarse, vulgar man, and
he said, "Oh, that be blowed! that wasn't any proof that he knew how to
wash dishes or handle a slush-bucket, and he guessed he didn't want him."
This was altogether the most extraordinary thing that ever happened to
Jacob in all his life. A compliment from a teacher, on a tract, had
never failed to move the tenderest emotions of ship-captains, and open
the way to all offices of honor and profit in their gift it never had in
any book that ever he had read. He could hardly believe his senses.
This boy always had a hard time of it. Nothing ever came out according
to the authorities with him. At last, one day, when he was around
hunting up bad little boys to admonish, he found a lot of them in the old
iron-foundry fixing up a little joke on fourteen or fifteen dogs, which
they had tied together in long procession, and were going to ornament
with empty nitroglycerin cans made fast to their tails. Jacob's heart
was touched. He sat down on one of those cans (for he never minded
grease when duty was before him), and he took hold of the foremost dog by
the collar, and turned his reproving eye upon wicked Tom Jones. But just
at that moment Alderman McWelter, full of wrath, stepped in. All the bad
boys ran away, but Jacob Blivens rose in conscious innocence and began
one of those stately little Sunday-school-book speeches which always
commence with "Oh, sir!" in dead opposition to the fact that no boy, good
or bad, ever starts a remark with "Oh, sir." But the alderman never
waited to hear the rest. He took Jacob Blivens by the ear and turned him
around, and hit him a whack in the rear with the flat of his hand; and in
an instant that good little boy shot out through the roof and soared away
toward the sun with the fragments of those fifteen dogs stringing after
him like the tail of a kite. And there wasn't a sign of that alderman or
that old iron-foundry left on the face of the earth; and, as for young
Jacob Blivens, he never got a chance to make his last dying speech after
all his trouble fixing it up, unless he made it to the birds; because,
although the bulk of him came down all right in a tree-top in an
adjoining county, the rest of him was apportioned around among four
townships, and so they had to hold five inquests on him to find out
whether he was dead or not, and how it occurred. You never saw a boy
scattered so.--[This glycerin catastrophe is borrowed from a floating
newspaper item, whose author's name I would give if I knew it.--M. T.]
Thus perished the good little boy who did the best he could, but didn't
come out according to the books. Every boy who ever did as he did
prospered except him. His case is truly remarkable. It will probably
never be accounted for.
A COUPLE OF POEMS BY TWAIN AND MOORE--[Written about 1865]
THOSE EVENING BELLS
BY THOMAS MOORE
Those evening bells! those evening bells!
How many a tale their music tells
Of youth, and home, and that sweet time
When last I heard their soothing chime.
Those joyous hours are passed away;
And many a heart that then was gay,
Within the tomb now darkly dwells,
And hears no more those evening bells.
And so 'twill be when I am gone
That tuneful peal will still ring on;
While other bards shall walk these dells,
And sing your praise, sweet evening bells.
THOSE ANNUAL BILLS
BY MARK TWAIN
These annual bills! these annual bills!
How many a song their discord trills
Of "truck" consumed, enjoyed, forgot,
Since I was skinned by last year's lot!
Those joyous beans are passed away;
Those onions blithe, O where are they?
Once loved, lost, mourned--now vexing ILLS
Your shades troop back in annual bills!
And so 'twill be when I'm aground
These yearly duns will still go round,
While other bards, with frantic quills,
Shall damn and damn these annual bills!
NIAGARA [ Written about 1871.]
Niagara Falls is a most enjoyable place of resort. The hotels are
excellent, and the prices not at all exorbitant. The opportunities for
fishing are not surpassed in the country; in fact, they are not even
equaled elsewhere. Because, in other localities, certain places in the
streams are much better than others; but at Niagara one place is just as
good as another, for the reason that the fish do not bite anywhere, and
so there is no use in your walking five miles to fish, when you can
depend on being just as unsuccessful nearer home. The advantages of this
state of things have never heretofore been properly placed before the
The weather is cool in summer, and the walks and drives are all pleasant
and none of them fatiguing. When you start out to "do" the Falls you
first drive down about a mile, and pay a small sum for the privilege of
looking down from a precipice into the narrowest part of the Niagara
River. A railway "cut" through a hill would be as comely if it had the
angry river tumbling and foaming through its bottom. You can descend a
staircase here a hundred and fifty feet down, and stand at the edge of
the water. After you have done it, you will wonder why you did it; but
you will then be too late.
The guide will explain to you, in his blood-curdling way, how he saw the
little steamer, Maid of the Mist, descend the fearful rapids--how first
one paddle-box was out of sight behind the raging billows and then the
other, and at what point it was that her smokestack toppled overboard,
and where her planking began to break and part asunder--and how she did
finally live through the trip, after accomplishing the incredible feat of
traveling seventeen miles in six minutes, or six miles in seventeen
minutes, I have really forgotten which. But it was very extraordinary,
anyhow. It is worth the price of admission to hear the guide tell the
story nine times in succession to different parties, and never miss a
word or alter a sentence or a gesture.
Then you drive over to Suspension Bridge, and divide your misery between
the chances of smashing down two hundred feet into the river below, and
the chances of having the railway-train overhead smashing down onto you.
Either possibility is discomforting taken by itself, but, mixed together,
they amount in the aggregate to positive unhappiness.
On the Canada side you drive along the chasm between long ranks of
photographers standing guard behind their cameras, ready to make an
ostentatious frontispiece of you and your decaying ambulance, and your
solemn crate with a hide on it, which you are expected to regard in the
light of a horse, and a diminished and unimportant background of sublime
Niagara; and a great many people have the incredible effrontery or the
native depravity to aid and abet this sort of crime.
Any day, in the hands of these photographers, you may see stately
pictures of papa and mamma, Johnny and Bub and Sis or a couple of country
cousins, all smiling vacantly, and all disposed in studied and
uncomfortable attitudes in their carriage, and all looming up in their
awe-inspiring imbecility before the snubbed and diminished presentment of
that majestic presence whose ministering spirits are the rainbows, whose
voice is the thunder, whose awful front is veiled in clouds, who was
monarch here dead and forgotten ages before this sackful of small
reptiles was deemed temporarily necessary to fill a crack in the world's
unnoted myriads, and will still be monarch here ages and decades of ages
after they shall have gathered themselves to their blood-relations, the
other worms, and been mingled with the unremembering dust.
There is no actual harm in making Niagara a background whereon to display
one's marvelous insignificance in a good strong light, but it requires a
sort of superhuman self-complacency to enable one to do it.
When you have examined the stupendous Horseshoe Fall till you are
satisfied you cannot improve on it, you return to America by the new
Suspension Bridge, and follow up the bank to where they exhibit the Cave
of the Winds.
Here I followed instructions, and divested myself of all my clothing, and
put on a waterproof jacket and overalls. This costume is picturesque,
but not beautiful. A guide, similarly dressed, led the way down a flight
of winding stairs, which wound and wound, and still kept on winding long
after the thing ceased to be a novelty, and then terminated long before
it had begun to be a pleasure. We were then well down under the
precipice, but still considerably above the level of the river.
We now began to creep along flimsy bridges of a single plank, our persons
shielded from destruction by a crazy wooden railing, to which I clung
with both hands--not because I was afraid, but because I wanted to.
Presently the descent became steeper and the bridge flimsier, and sprays
from the American Fall began to rain down on us in fast increasing sheets
that soon became blinding, and after that our progress was mostly in the
nature of groping. Nova a furious wind began to rush out from behind the
waterfall, which seemed determined to sweep us from the bridge, and
scatter us on the rocks and among the torrents below. I remarked that I
wanted to go home; but it was too late. We were almost under the
monstrous wall of water thundering down from above, and speech was in
vain in the midst of such a pitiless crash of sound.
In another moment the guide disappeared behind the deluge, and bewildered
by the thunder, driven helplessly by the wind, and smitten by the arrowy
tempest of rain, I followed. All was darkness. Such a mad storming,
roaring, and bellowing of warring wind and water never crazed my ears
before. I bent my head, and seemed to receive the Atlantic on my back.
The world seemed going to destruction. I could not see anything, the
flood poured down savagely. I raised my head, with open mouth, and the
most of the American cataract went down my throat. If I had sprung a
leak now I had been lost. And at this moment I discovered that the
bridge had ceased, and we must trust for a foothold to the slippery and
precipitous rocks. I never was so scared before and survived it. But we
got through at last, and emerged into the open day, where we could stand
in front of the laced and frothy and seething world of descending water,
and look at it. When I saw how much of it there was, and how fearfully
in earnest it was, I was sorry I had gone behind it.
The noble Red Man has always been a friend and darling of mine. I love
to read about him in tales and legends and romances. I love to read of
his inspired sagacity, and his love of the wild free life of mountain and
forest, and his general nobility of character, and his stately
metaphorical manner of speech, and his chivalrous love for the dusky
maiden, and the picturesque pomp of his dress and accoutrements.
Especially the picturesque pomp of his dress and accoutrements. When I
found the shops at Niagara Falls full of dainty Indian beadwork, and
stunning moccasins, and equally stunning toy figures representing human
beings who carried their weapons in holes bored through their arms and
bodies, and had feet shaped like a pie, I was filled with emotion.
I knew that now, at last, I was going to come face to face with the noble
A lady clerk in a shop told me, indeed, that all her grand array of
curiosities were made by the Indians, and that they were plenty about the
Falls, and that they were friendly, and it would not be dangerous to
speak to them. And sure enough, as I approached the bridge leading over
to Luna Island, I came upon a noble Son of the Forest sitting under a
tree, diligently at work on a bead reticule. He wore a slouch hat and
brogans, and had a short black pipe in his mouth. Thus does the baneful
contact with our effeminate civilization dilute the picturesque pomp
which is so natural to the Indian when far removed from us in his native
haunts. I addressed the relic as follows:
"Is the Wawhoo-Wang-Wang of the Whack-a-Whack happy? Does the great
Speckled Thunder sigh for the war-path, or is his heart contented with
dreaming of the dusky maiden, the Pride of the Forest? Does the mighty
Sachem yearn to drink the blood of his enemies, or is he satisfied to
make bead reticules for the pappooses of the paleface? Speak, sublime
relic of bygone grandeur--venerable ruin, speak!"
The relic said:
"An' is it mesilf, Dennis Hooligan, that ye'd be takon' for a dirty
Injin, ye drawlin', lantern-jawed, spider-legged divil! By the piper
that played before Moses, I'll ate ye!"
I went away from there.
By and by, in the neighborhood of the Terrapin Tower, I came upon a
gentle daughter of the aborigines in fringed and beaded buckskin
moccasins and leggins, seated on a bench with her pretty wares about her.
She had just carved out a wooden chief that had a strong family
resemblance to a clothes-pin, and was now boring a hole through his
abdomen to put his bow through. I hesitated a moment, and then addressed
"Is the heart of the forest maiden heavy? Is the Laughing Tadpole
lonely? Does she mourn over the extinguished council-fires of her race,
and the vanished glory of her ancestors? Or does her sad spirit wander
afar toward the hunting-grounds whither her brave Gobbler-of-the-
Lightnings is gone? Why is my daughter silent? Has she ought against
the paleface stranger?"
The maiden said:
"Faix, an' is it Biddy Malone ye dare to be callin' names? Lave this, or
I'll shy your lean carcass over the cataract, ye sniveling blaggard!"
I adjourned from there also.
"Confound these Indians!" I said. "They told me they were tame; but, if
appearances go for anything, I should say they were all on the warpath."
I made one more attempt to fraternize with them, and only one. I came
upon a camp of them gathered in the shade of a great tree, making wampum
and moccasins, and addressed them in the language of friendship:
"Noble Red Men, Braves, Grand Sachems, War Chiefs, Squaws, and High
Muck-a-Mucks, the paleface from the land of the setting sun greets you!
You, Beneficent Polecat--you, Devourer of Mountains--you, Roaring
Thundergust --you, Bully Boy with a Glass eye--the paleface from beyond
the great waters greets you all! War and pestilence have thinned your
ranks and destroyed your once proud nation. Poker and seven-up, and a
vain modern expense for soap, unknown to your glorious ancestors, have
depleted your purses. Appropriating, in your simplicity, the property of
others has gotten you into trouble. Misrepresenting facts, in your
simple innocence, has damaged your reputation with the soulless usurper.
Trading for forty-rod whisky, to enable you to get drunk and happy and
tomahawk your families, has played the everlasting mischief with the
picturesque pomp of your dress, and here you are, in the broad light of
the nineteenth century, gotten up like the ragtag and bobtail of the
purlieus of New York. For shame! Remember your ancestors! Recall their
mighty deeds! Remember Uncas!--and Red jacket! and Hole in the Day!--and
Whoopdedoodledo! Emulate their achievements! Unfurl yourselves under my
banner, noble savages, illustrious guttersnipes--"
"Down wid him!" "Scoop the blaggard!" "Burn him!" "Bang him!"
It was the quickest operation that ever was. I simply saw a sudden flash
in the air of clubs, brickbats, fists, bead-baskets, and moccasins--a
single flash, and they all appeared to hit me at once, and no two of them
in the same place. In the next instant the entire tribe was upon me.
They tore half the clothes off me; they broke my arms and legs; they gave
me a thump that dented the top of my head till it would hold coffee like
a saucer; and, to crown their disgraceful proceedings and add insult to
injury, they threw me over the Niagara Falls, and I got wet.
About ninety or a hundred feet from the top, the remains of my vest
caught on a projecting rock, and I was almost drowned before I could get
loose. I finally fell, and brought up in a world of white foam at the
foot of the Fall, whose celled and bubbly masses towered up several
inches above my head. Of course I got into the eddy. I sailed round and
round in it forty-four times--chasing a chip and gaining on it--each
round trip a half-mile--reaching for the same bush on the bank forty-four
times, and just exactly missing it by a hair's-breadth every time.
At last a man walked down and sat down close to that bush, and put a pipe
in his mouth, and lit a match, and followed me with one eye and kept the
other on the match, while he sheltered it in his hands from the wind.
Presently a puff of wind blew it out. The next time I swept around he
"Got a match?"
"Yes; in my other vest. Help me out, please."
"Not for Joe."
When I came round again, I said:
"Excuse the seemingly impertinent curiosity of a drowning man, but will
you explain this singular conduct of yours?"
"With pleasure. I am the coroner. Don't hurry on my account. I can
wait for you. But I wish I had a match."
I said: "Take my place, and I'll go and get you one."
He declined. This lack of confidence on his part created a coldness
between us, and from that time forward I avoided him. It was my idea,
in case anything happened to me, to so time the occurrence as to throw my
custom into the hands of the opposition coroner on the American side.
At last a policeman came along, and arrested me for disturbing the peace
by yelling at people on shore for help. The judge fined me, but had the
advantage of him. My money was with my pantaloons, and my pantaloons
were with the Indians.
Thus I escaped. I am now lying in a very critical condition. At least I
am lying anyway---critical or not critical. I am hurt all over, but I
cannot tell the full extent yet, because the doctor is not done taking
inventory. He will make out my manifest this evening. However, thus far
he thinks only sixteen of my wounds are fatal. I don't mind the others.
Upon regaining my right mind, I said:
"It is an awful savage tribe of Indians that do the beadwork and
moccasins for Niagara Falls, doctor. Where are they from?"
"Limerick, my son."
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