The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories
Part 6 out of 7
Wolf. 'I move the close of the sitting!'
P. 'Representative Lecher has the floor.' [Stormy outburst from the
Left--that is, the Opposition.]
Wolf. 'I demand the floor for the introduction of a formal notion.
[Pause]. Mr. President, are you going to grant it, or not? [Crash of
approval from the Left.] I will keep on demanding the floor till I get
P. 'I call Representative Wolf to order. Dr. Lecher has the floor.'
Wolf. 'Mr. President, are you going to observe the Rules of this House?'
[Tempest of applause and confused ejaculations from the Left--a boom and
roar which long endured, and stopped all business for the time being.]
Dr. von Pessler. 'By the Rules motions are in order, and the Chair must
put them to vote.'
For answer the President (who is a Pole--I make this remark in passing)
began to jangle his bell with energy at the moment that that wild
pandemonium of voices broke out again.
Wolf (hearable above the storm). 'Mr. President, I demand the floor. We
intend to find out, here and now, which is the hardest, a Pole's skull or
This brought out a perfect cyclone of satisfaction from the Left. In the
midst of it someone again moved an Adjournment. The President blandly
answered that Dr. Lecher had the floor. Which was true; and he was
speaking, too, calmly, earnestly, and argumentatively; and the official
stenographers had left their places and were at his elbows taking down
his words, he leaning and orating into their ears--a most curious and
Dr. von Pessler (to the Chair). 'Do not drive us to extremities!'
The tempest burst out again: yells of approval from the Left, catcalls
and ironical laughter from the Right. At this point a new and most
effective noise-maker was pressed into service. Each desk has an
extension, consisting of a removable board eighteen inches long, six
wide, and a half-inch thick. A member pulled one of these out and began
to belabour the top of his desk with it. Instantly other members
followed suit, and perhaps you can imagine the result. Of all
conceivable rackets it is the most ear-splitting, intolerable, and
The persecuted President leaned back in his chair, closed his eyes,
clasped his hands in his lap, and a look of pathetic resignation crept
over his long face. It is the way a country schoolmaster used to look in
days long past when he had refused his school a holiday and it had risen
against him in ill-mannered riot and violence and insurrection. Twice a
motion to adjourn had been offered--a motion always in order in other
Houses, and doubtless so in this one also. The President had refused to
put these motions. By consequence, he was not in a pleasant place now,
and was having a right hard time. Votes upon motions, whether carried or
defeated, could make endless delay, and postpone the Ausgleich to next
In the midst of these sorrowful circumstances and this hurricane of yells
and screams and satanic clatter of desk-boards, Representative Dr.
Kronawetter unfeelingly reminds the Chair that a motion has been offered,
and adds: 'Say yes, or no! What do you sit there for, and give no
P. 'After I have given a speaker the floor, I cannot give it to another.
After Dr. Lecher is through, I will put your motion.' [Storm of
indignation from the Left.]
Wolf (to the Chair). 'Thunder and lightning! look at the Rule governing
Kronawetter. 'I move the close of the sitting! And I demand the ayes
Dr. Lecher. 'Mr. President, have I the floor?'
P. 'You have the floor.'
Wolf (to the Chair, in a stentorian voice which cleaves its way through
the storm). 'It is by such brutalities as these that you drive us to
extremities! Are you waiting till someone shall throw into your face the
word that shall describe what you are bringing about? [Tempest of
insulted fury from the Right.] Is that what you are waiting for, old
Grayhead?' [Long-continued clatter of desk-boards from the Left, with
shouts of 'The vote! the vote!' An ironical shout from the Right, 'Wolf
Wolf keeps on demanding the floor for his motion. At length--
P. 'I call Representative Wolf to order! Your conduct is unheard of,
sir! You forget that you are in a parliament; you must remember where
you are, sir.' [Applause from the Right. Dr. Lecher is still peacefully
speaking, the stenographers listening at his lips.]
Wolf (banging on his desk with his desk-board). 'I demand the floor for
my motion! I won't stand this trampling of the Rules under foot--no, not
if I die for it! I will never yield. You have got to stop me by force.
Have I the floor?'
P. 'Representative Wolf, what kind of behaviour is this? I call you to
order again. You should have some regard for your dignity.'
Dr. Lecher speaks on. Wolf turns upon him with an offensive innuendo.
Dr. Lecher. 'Mr. Wolf, I beg you to refrain from that sort of
suggestions.' [Storm of hand-clapping from the Right.]
This was applause from the enemy, for Lecher himself, like Wolf, was an
Wolf growls to Lecher, 'You can scribble that applause in your album!'
P. 'Once more I call Representative Wolf to order! Do not forget that
you are a Representative, sir!'
Wolf (slam-banging with his desk-board). 'I will force this matter! Are
you going to grant me the floor, or not?'
And still the sergeant-at-arms did not appear. It was because there
wasn't any. It is a curious thing, but the Chair has no effectual means
of compelling order.
After some more interruptions:
Wolf (banging with his board). 'I demand the floor. I will not yield!'
P. 'I have no recourse against Representative Wolf. In the presence of
behaviour like this it is to be regretted that such is the case.' [A
shout from the Right, 'Throw him out!']
It is true he had no effective recourse. He had an official called an
'Ordner,' whose help he could invoke in desperate cases, but apparently
the Ordner is only a persuader, not a compeller. Apparently he is a
sergeant-at-arms who is not loaded; a good enough gun to look at, but not
valuable for business.
For another twenty or thirty minutes Wolf went on banging with his board
and demanding his rights; then at last the weary President threatened to
summon the dread order-maker. But both his manner and his words were
reluctant. Evidently it grieved him to have to resort to this dire
extremity. He said to Wolf, 'If this goes on, I shall feel obliged to
summon the Ordner, and beg him to restore order in the House.'
Wolf. 'I'd like to see you do it! Suppose you fetch in a few policemen
too! [Great tumult.] Are you going to put my motion to adjourn, or not?'
Dr. Lecher continues his speech. Wolf accompanies him with his board-
The President despatches the Ordner, Dr. Lang (himself a deputy), on his
order-restoring mission. Wolf, with his board uplifted for defence,
confronts the Ordner with a remark which Boss Tweed might have translated
into 'Now let's see what you are going to do about it!' [Noise and tumult
all over the House.]
Wolf stands upon his rights, and says he will maintain them until he is
killed in his tracks. Then he resumes his banging, the President jangles
his bell and begs for order, and the rest of the House augments the
racket the best it can.
Wolf. 'I require an adjournment, because I find myself personally
threatened. [Laughter from the Right.] Not that I fear for myself;
I am only anxious about what will happen to the man who touches me.'
The Ordner. 'I am not going to fight with you.'
Nothing came of the efforts of the angel of peace, and he presently
melted out of the scene and disappeared. Wolf went on with his noise
and with his demands that he be granted the floor, resting his board at
intervals to discharge criticisms and epithets at the Chair. Once he
reminded the Chairman of his violated promise to grant him (Wolf) the
floor, and said, 'Whence I came, we call promise-breakers rascals!'
And he advised the Chairman to take his conscience to bed with him and
use it as a pillow. Another time he said that the Chair was making
itself ridiculous before all Europe. In fact, some of Wolf's language
was almost unparliamentary. By-and-by he struck the idea of beating out
a tune with his board. Later he decided to stop asking for the floor,
and to confer it upon himself. And so he and Dr. Lecher now spoke at the
same time, and mingled their speeches with the other noises, and nobody
heard either of them. Wolf rested himself now and then from speech-
making by reading, in his clarion voice, from a pamphlet.
I will explain that Dr. Lecher was not making a twelve-hour speech for
pastime, but for an important purpose. It was the Government's intention
to push the Ausgleich through its preliminary stages in this one sitting
(for which it was the Order of the Day), and then by vote refer it to a
select committee. It was the Majority's scheme--as charged by the
Opposition--to drown debate upon the bill by pure noise--drown it out and
stop it. The debate being thus ended, the vote upon the reference would
follow--with victory for the Government. But into the Government's
calculations had not entered the possibility of a single-barrelled speech
which should occupy the entire time-limit of the setting, and also get
itself delivered in spite of all the noise. Goliath was not expecting
David. But David was there; and during twelve hours he tranquilly pulled
statistical, historical, and argumentative pebbles out of his scrip and
slung them at the giant; and when he was done he was victor, and the day
In the English House an obstructionist has held the floor with Bible-
readings and other outside matters; but Dr. Lecher could not have that
restful and recuperative privilege--he must confine himself strictly to
the subject before the House. More than once, when the President could
not hear him because of the general tumult, he sent persons to listen and
report as to whether the orator was speaking to the subject or not.
The subject was a peculiarly difficult one, and it would have troubled
any other deputy to stick to it three hours without exhausting his
ammunition, because it required a vast and intimate knowledge--detailed
and particularised knowledge--of the commercial, railroading, financial,
and international banking relations existing between two great
sovereignties, Hungary and the Empire. But Dr. Lecher is President of
the Board of Trade of his city of Brunn, and was master of the situation.
His speech was not formally prepared. He had a few notes jotted down for
his guidance; he had his facts in his head; his heard was in his work;
and for twelve hours he stood there, undisturbed by the clamour around
him, and with grace and ease and confidence poured out the riches of his
mind, in closely reasoned arguments, clothed in eloquent and faultless
He is a young man of thirty-seven. He is tall and well-proportioned, and
has cultivated and fortified his muscle by mountain-climbing. If he were
a little handsomer he would sufficiently reproduce for me the Chauncey
Depew of the great New England dinner nights of some years ago; he has
Depew's charm of manner and graces of language and delivery.
There was but one way for Dr. Lecher to hold the floor--he must stay on
his legs. If he should sit down to rest a moment, the floor would be
taken from him by the enemy in the Chair. When he had been talking three
or four hours he himself proposed an adjournment, in order that he might
get some rest from his wearing labours; but he limited his motion with
the condition that if it was lost he should be allowed to continue his
speech, and if it was carried he should have the floor at the next
sitting. Wolf was now appeased, and withdrew his own thousand-times-
offered motion, and Dr. Lecher's was voted upon--and lost. So he went on
By one o'clock in the morning, excitement and noise-making had tired out
nearly everybody but the orator. Gradually the seats of the Right
underwent depopulation; the occupants had slipped out to the refreshment-
rooms to eat and drink, or to the corridors to chat. Some one remarked
that there was no longer a quorum present, and moved a call of the House.
The Chair (Vice-President Dr. Kramarz) refused to put it to vote. There
was a small dispute over the legality of this ruling, but the Chair held
The Left remained on the battle-field to support their champion. He went
steadily on with his speech; and always it was strong, virile,
felicitous, and to the point. He was earning applause, and this enabled
his party to turn that fact to account. Now and then they applauded him
a couple of minutes on a stretch, and during that time he could stop
speaking and rest his voice without having the floor taken from him.
At a quarter to two a member of the Left demanded that Dr. Lecher be
allowed a recess for rest, and said that the Chairman was 'heartless.'
Dr. Lecher himself asked for ten minutes. The Chair allowed him five.
Before the time had run out Dr. Lecher was on his feet again.
Wolf burst out again with a motion to adjourn. Refused by the Chair.
Wolf said the whole Parliament wasn't worth a pinch of powder. The Chair
retorted that that was true in a case where a single member was able to
make all parliamentary business impossible. Dr. Lecher continued his
The members of the Majority went out by detachments from time to time and
took naps upon sofas in the reception-rooms; and also refreshed
themselves with food and drink--in quantities nearly unbelievable--but
the Minority stayed loyally by their champion. Some distinguished
deputies of the Majority stayed by him too, compelled thereto by
admiration of his great performance. When a man has been speaking eight
hours, is it conceivable that he can still be interesting, still
fascinating? When Dr. Lecher had been speaking eight hours he was still
compactly surrounded by friends who would not leave him, and by foes (of
all parties) who could not; and all hung enchanted and wondering upon his
words, and all testified their admiration with constant and cordial
outbursts of applause. Surely this was a triumph without precedent in
During the twelve-hour effort friends brought to the orator three glasses
of wine, four cups of coffee, and one glass of beer--a most stingy re-
enforcement of his wasting tissues, but the hostile Chair would permit no
addition to it. But, no matter, the Chair could not beat that man. He
was a garrison holding a fort, and was not to be starved out.
When he had been speaking eight hours his pulse was 72; when he had
spoken twelve, it was 100.
He finished his long speech in these terms, as nearly as a permissibly
free translation can convey them:
'I will now hasten to close my examination of the subject. I conceive
that we of the Left have made it clear to the honourable gentlemen of the
other side of the House that we are stirred by no intemperate enthusiasm
for this measure in its present shape...
'What we require, and shall fight for with all lawful weapons, is a
formal, comprehensive, and definitive solution and settlement of these
vexed matters. We desire the restoration of the earlier condition of
things; the cancellation of all this incapable Government's pernicious
trades with Hungary; and then--release from the sorry burden of the
'I voice the hope--I know not if it will be fulfilled--I voice the deep
and sincere and patriotic hope that the committee into whose hands this
bill will eventually be committed will take its stand upon high ground,
and will return the Ausgleich-Provisorium to this House in a form which
shall make it the protector and promoter alike of the great interests
involved and of the honour of our fatherland.' After a pause, turning
towards the Government benches: 'But in any case, gentlemen of the
Majority, make sure of this: henceforth, as before, you find us at our
post. The Germans of Austria will neither surrender nor die!'
Then burst a storm of applause which rose and fell, rose and fell, burst
out again and again and again, explosion after explosion, hurricane after
hurricane, with no apparent promise of ever coming to an end; and
meantime the whole Left was surging and weltering about the champion, all
bent upon wringing his hand and congratulating him and glorifying him.
Finally he got away, and went home and ate five loaves and twelve baskets
of fish, read the morning papers, slept three hours, took a short drive,
then returned to the House, and sat out the rest of the thirty-three-hour
To merely stand up in one spot twelve hours on a stretch is a feat which
very few men could achieve; to add to the task the utterance of a hundred
thousand words would be beyond the possibilities of the most of those
few; to superimpose the requirement that the words should be put into the
form of a compact, coherent, and symmetrical oration would probably rule
out the rest of the few, bar Dr. Lecher.
III.--CURIOUS PARLIAMENTARY ETIQUETTE.
In consequence of Dr. Lecher's twelve-hour speech and the other
obstructions furnished by the Minority, the famous thirty-three-hour
sitting of the House accomplished nothing. The Government side had made
a supreme effort, assisting itself with all the helps at hand, both
lawful and unlawful, yet had failed to get the Ausgleich into the hands
of a committee. This was a severe defeat. The Right was mortified, the
Parliament was adjourned for a week--to let the members cool off,
perhaps--a sacrifice of precious time; for but two months remained in
which to carry the all-important Ausgleich to a consummation.
If I have reported the behaviour of the House intelligibly, the reader
has been surprised by it, and has wondered whence these law-makers come
and what they are made of; and he has probably supposed that the conduct
exhibited at the Long Sitting was far out of the common, and due to
special excitement and irritation. As to the make-up of the House, it is
this: the deputies come from all the walks of life and from all the
grades of society. There are princes, counts, barons, priests, peasants,
mechanics, labourers, lawyers, judges, physicians, professors, merchants,
bankers, shopkeepers. They are religious men, they are earnest, sincere,
devoted, and they hate the Jews. The title of Doctor is so common in the
House that one may almost say that the deputy who does not bear it is by
that reason conspicuous. I am assured that it is not a self-granted
title, and not an honorary one, but an earned one; that in Austria it is
very seldom conferred as a mere compliment; that in Austria the degrees
of Doctor of Music, Doctor of Philosophy, and so on, are not conferred by
the seats of learning; and so, when an Austrian is called Doctor, it
means that he is either a lawyer or a physician, and that he is not a
self-educated man, but is college-bred, and has been diplomaed for merit.
That answers the question of the constitution of the House. Now as to
the House's curious manners. The manners exhibited by this convention of
Doctors were not at that time being tried as a wholly new experiment. I
will go back to a previous sitting in order to show that the deputies had
already had some practice.
There had been an incident. The dignity of the House had been wounded by
improprieties indulged in in its presence by a couple of the members.
This matter was placed in the hands of a committee to determine where the
guilt lay and the degree of it, and also to suggest the punishment. The
chairman of the committee brought in his report. By this it appeared
that in the course of a speech, Deputy Schrammel said that religion had
no proper place in the public schools--it was a private matter.
Whereupon Deputy Gregorig shouted, 'How about free love!'
To this, Deputy Iro flung out this retort: 'Soda-water at the Wimberger!'
This appeared to deeply offend Deputy Gregorig, who shouted back at Iro,
'You cowardly blatherskite, say that again!'
The committee had sat three hours. Gregorig had apologised. Iro
explained that he didn't say anything about soda-water at the Wimberger.
He explained in writing, and was very explicit: 'I declare upon my word
of honour that I did not say the words attributed to me.'
Unhappily for his word of honour, it was proved by the official
stenographers and by the testimony of several deputies that he did say
The committee did not officially know why the apparently inconsequential
reference to soda-water at the Wimberger should move Deputy Gregorig to
call the utterer of it a cowardly blatherskite; still, after proper
deliberation, it was of the opinion that the House ought to formally
censure the whole business. This verdict seems to have been regarded as
sharply severe. I think so because Deupty Dr. Lueger, Burgermeister of
Vienna, felt it a duty to soften the blow to his friend Gregorig by
showing that the soda-water remark was not so innocuous as it might look;
that, indeed, Gregorig's tough retory was justifiable--and he proceeded
to explain why. He read a number of scandalous post-cards which he
intimated had proceeded from Iro, as indicated by the handwriting, though
they were anonymous. Some of them were posted to Gregorig at his place
of business and could have been read by all his subordinates; the others
were posted to Gregorig's wife. Lueger did not say--but everybody knew--
that the cards referred to a matter of town gossip which made Mr.
Gregorig a chief actor in a tavern scene where siphon-squirting played a
prominent and humorous part, and wherein women had a share.
There were several of the cards; more than several, in fact; no fewer
than five were sent in one day. Dr. Lueger read some of them, and
described others. Some of them had pictures on them; one a picture of a
hog with a monstrous snout, and beside it a squirting soda-siphon; below
it some sarcastic doggerel.
Gregorig dealt in shirts, cravats, etc. One of the cards bore these
words: 'Much-respected Deputy and collar-sewer--or stealer.'
Another: 'Hurrah for the Christian-Social work among the women-
assemblages! Hurrah for the soda-squirter!' Comment by Dr. Lueger: 'I
cannot venture to read the rest of that one, nor the signature, either.'
Another: 'Would you mind telling me if....' Comment by Dr. Lueger: 'The
rest of it is not properly readable.'
To Deputy Gregorig's wife: 'Much-respected Madam Gregorig,--The
undersigned desires an invitation to the next soda-squirt.' Comment by
Dr. Lueger: 'Neither the rest of the card nor the signature can I venture
to read to the House, so vulgar are they.'
The purpose of this card--to expose Gregorig to his family--was repeated
in others of these anonymous missives.
The House, by vote, censured the two improper deputies.
This may have had a modifying effect upon the phraseology of the
membership for a while, and upon its general exuberance also, but it was
not for long. As has been seen, it had become lively once more on the
night of the Long Sitting. At the next sitting after the long one there
was certainly no lack of liveliness. The President was persistently
ignoring the Rules of the House in the interest of the government side,
and the Minority were in an unappeasable fury about it. The ceaseless
din and uproar, the shouting and stamping and desk-banging, were
deafening, but through it all burst voices now and then that made
themselves heard. Some of the remarks were of a very candid sort, and I
believe that if they had been uttered in our House of Representatives
they would have attracted attention. I will insert some samples here.
Not in their order, but selected on their merits:
Mr. Mayreder (to the President). 'You have lied! You conceded the floor
to me; make it good, or you have lied!'
Mr. Glockner (to the President). 'Leave! Get out!'
Wolf (indicating the President). 'There sits a man to whom a certain
Unto Wolf, who is continuously reading, in a powerful voice, from a
newspaper, arrive these personal remarks from the Majority: 'Oh, shut
your mouth!' 'Put him out!' 'Out with him!' Wolf stops reading a moment
to shout at Dr. Lueger, who has the floor but cannot get a hearing,
'Please, Betrayer of the People, begin!'
Dr. Lueger, 'Meine Herren--' ['Oho!' and groans.]
Wolf. 'That's the holy light of the Christian Socialists!'
Mr. Kletzenbauer (Christian Socialist). 'Dam--nation! Are you ever
going to quiet down?'
Wolf discharges a galling remark at Mr. Wohlmeyer.
Wohlmeyer (responding). 'You Jew, you!'
There is a moment's lull, and Dr. Lueger begins his speech. Graceful,
handsome man, with winning manners and attractive bearing, a bright and
easy speaker, and is said to know how to trim his political sails to
catch any favouring wind that blows. He manages to say a few words, then
the tempest overwhelms him again.
Wolf stops reading his paper a moment to say a drastic thing about Lueger
and his Christian-Social pieties, which sets the C.S.S. in a sort of
Mr. Vielohlawek. 'You leave the Christian Socialists alone, you word-of-
honour-breaker! Obstruct all you want to, but you leave them alone!
You've no business in this House; you belong in a gin-mill!'
Mr. Prochazka. 'In a lunatic-asylum, you mean!'
Vielohlawek. 'It's a pity that such man should be leader of the Germans;
he disgraces the German name!'
Dr. Scheicher. 'It's a shame that the like of him should insult us.'
Strohbach (to Wolf). 'Contemptible cub--we will bounce thee out of
this!' [It is inferable that the 'thee' is not intended to indicate
affection this time, but to re-enforce and emphasise Mr. Storhbach's
Dr. Scheicher. 'His insults are of no consequence. He wants his ears
Dr. Lueger (to Wolf). 'You'd better worry a trifle over your Iro's word
of honour. You are behaving like a street arab.'
Dr. Scheicher. 'It is infamous!'
Dr. Lueger. 'And these shameless creatures are the leaders of the German
Meantime Wolf goes whooping along with his newspaper readings in great
Dr. Pattai. 'Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! You haven't the floor!'
Strohbach. 'The miserable cub!'
Dr. Lueger (to Wolf, raising his voice strenuously above the storm).
'You are a wholly honourless street brat!' [A voice, 'Fire the
rapscallion out!' But Wolf's soul goes marching noisily on, just the
Schonerer (vast and muscular, and endowed with the most powerful voice in
the Reichsrath; comes ploughing down through the standing crowds, red,
and choking with anger; halts before Deputy Wohlmeyer, grabs a rule and
smashes it with a blow upon a desk, threatens Wohlmeyer's face with his
fist, and bellows out some personalities, and a promise). 'Only you
wait--we'll teach you!' [A whirlwind of offensive retorts assails him
from the band of meek and humble Christian Socialists compacted around
their leader, that distinguished religious expert, Dr. Lueger,
Burgermeister of Vienna. Our breath comes in excited gasps now, and we
are full of hope. We imagine that we are back fifty years ago in the
Arkansas Legislature, and we think we know what is going to happen, and
are glad we came, and glad we are up in the gallery, out of the way,
where we can see the whole thing and yet not have to supply any of the
material for the inquest. However, as it turns out, our confidence is
abused, our hopes are misplaced.]
Dr. Pattai (wildly excited). 'You quiet down, or we shall turn ourselves
loose! There will be cuffing of ears!'
Prochazka (in a fury). 'No--not ear boxing, but genuine blows!'
Vieholawek. 'I would rather take my hat off to a Jew than to Wolf!'
Strohbach (to Wolf). 'Jew flunky! Here we have been fighting the Jews
for ten years, and now you are helping them to power again. How much do
you get for it?'
Holansky. 'What he wants is a strait-jacket!'
Wolf continues his reading. It is a market report now.
Remark flung across the House to Schonerer: 'Die Grossmutter auf dem
Misthaufen erzeugt worden!'
It will be judicious not to translate that. Its flavour is pretty high,
in any case, but it becomes particularly gamy when you remember that the
first gallery was well stocked with ladies.
Apparently it was a great hit. It fetched thunders of joyous enthusiasm
out of the Christian Socialists, and in their rapture they flung biting
epithets with wasteful liberality at specially detested members of the
Opposition; among others, this one at Schonerer, 'Bordell in der
Krugerstrasse!' Then they added these words, which they whooped, howled,
and also even sand, in a deep-voiced chorus: 'Schmul Leeb Kohn! Schmul
Leeb Kohn! Schmul Leeb Kohn!' and made it splendidly audible above the
banging of desk-boards and the rest of the roaring cyclone of fiendish
noises. [A gallery witticism comes flitting by from mouth to mouth
around the great curve: 'The swan-song of Austrian representative
government!' You can note its progress by the applausive smiles and nods
it gets as it skims along.]
Kletzenbauer. 'Holofernes, where is Judith?' [Storm of laughter.]
Gregorig (the shirt-merchant). 'This Wolf-Theatre is costing 6,000
Wolf (with sweetness). 'Notice him, gentlemen; it is Mr. Gregorig.'
Vieholawek (to Wolf). 'You Judas!'
Chorus of Voices. 'East-German offal tub!'
And so the war of epithets crashes along, with never-diminishing energy,
for a couple of hours.
The ladies in the gallery were learning. That was well; for by-and-by
ladies will form a part of the membership of all the legislatures in the
world; as soon as they can prove competency they will be admitted. At
present, men only are competent to legislate; therefore they look down
upon women, and would feel degraded if they had to have them for
colleagues in their high calling.
Wolf is yelling another market report now.
Gessman. 'Shut up, infamous louse-brat!'
During a momentary lull Dr. Lueger gets a hearing for three sentences of
his speech. The demand and require that the President shall suppress the
four noisiest members of the Opposition.
Wolf (with a that-settles-it toss of the head). 'The shifty trickster of
Vienna has spoken!'
Iro belonged to Schonerer's party. The word-of-honour incident has given
it a new name. Gregorig is a Christian Socialist, and hero of the post-
cards and the Wimberger soda-squirting incident. He stands vast and
conspicuous, and conceited and self-satisfied, and roosterish and
inconsequential, at Lueger's elbow, and is proud and cocky to be in such
a great company. He looks very well indeed; really majestic, and aware
of it. He crows out his little empty remark, now and then, and looks as
pleased as if he had been delivered of the Ausgleich. Indeed, he does
look notably fine. He wears almost the only dress vest on the floor; it
exposes a continental spread of white shirt-front; his hands are posed at
ease in the lips of his trousers pockets; his head is tilted back
complacently; he is attitudinising; he is playing to the gallery.
However, they are all doing that. It is curious to see. Men who only
vote, and can't make speeches, and don't know how to invent witty
ejaculations, wander about the vacated parts of the floor, and stop in a
good place and strike attitudes--attitudes suggestive of weighty thought,
mostly--and glance furtively up at the galleries to see how it works; or
a couple will come together and shake hands in an artificial way, and
laugh a gay manufactured laugh, and do some constrained and self-
conscious attitudinising; and they steal glances at the galleries to see
if they are getting notice. It is like a scene on the stage--by-play by
minor actors at the back while the stars do the great work at the front.
Even Count Badeni attitudinises for a moment; strikes a reflective
Napoleonic attitude of fine picturesqueness--but soon thinks better of it
and desists. There are two who do not attitudinise--poor harried and
insulted President Abrahamowicz, who seems wholly miserable, and can find
no way to put in the dreary time but by swinging his bell and discharging
occasional remarks which nobody can hear; and a resigned and patient
priest, who sits lonely in a great vacancy on Majority territory and
munches an apple.
Schonerer uplifts his fog-horn of a voice and shakes the roof with an
insult discharged at the Majority.
Dr. Lueger. 'The Honourless Party would better keep still here!'
Gregorig (the echo, swelling out his shirt-front). 'Yes, keep quiet,
Schonerer (to Lueger). 'Political mountebank!'
Prochazka (to Schonerer). 'Drunken clown!'
During the final hour of the sitting many happy phrases were distributed
through the proceedings. Among them were these--and they are strikingly
This last was the contribution of Dr. Gessman, and gave great
satisfaction. And deservedly. It seems to me that it was one of the
most sparkling things that was said during the whole evening.
At half-past two in the morning the House adjourned. The victory was
with the Opposition. No; not quite that. The effective part of it was
snatched away from them by an unlawful exercise of Presidential force--
another contribution toward driving the mistreated Minority out of their
At other sittings of the parliament, gentlemen of the Opposition, shaking
their fists toward the President, addressed him as 'Polish Dog'. At one
sitting an angry deputy turned upon a colleague and shouted,
You must try to imagine what it was. If I should offer it even in the
original it would probably not get by the editor's blue pencil; to offer
a translation would be to waste my ink, of course. This remark was
frankly printed in its entirety by one of the Vienna dailies, but the
others disguised the toughest half of it with stars.
If the reader will go back over this chapter and gather its array of
extraordinary epithets into a bunch and examine them, he will marvel at
two things: how this convention of gentlemen could consent to use such
gross terms; and why the users were allowed to get out the place alive.
There is no way to understand this strange situation. If every man in
the House were a professional blackguard, and had his home in a sailor
boarding-house, one could still not understand it; for, although that
sort do use such terms, they never take them. These men are not
professional blackguards; they are mainly gentlemen, and educated; yet
they use the terms, and take them too. They really seem to attach no
consequence to them. One cannot say that they act like schoolboys; for
that is only almost true, not entirely. Schoolboys blackguard each other
fiercely, and by the hour, and one would think that nothing would ever
come of it but noise; but that would be a mistake. Up to a certain limit
the result would be noise only, but, that limit overstepped, trouble
would follow right away. There are certain phrases--phrases of a
peculiar character--phrases of the nature of that reference to
Schonerer's grandmother, for instance--which not even the most spiritless
schoolboy in the English-speaking world would allow to pass unavenged.
One difference between schoolboys and the law-makers of the Reichsrath
seems to be that the law-makers have no limit, no danger-line.
Apparently they may call each other what they please, and go home
Now, in fact, they did have a scuffle on two occasions, but it was not on
account of names called. There has been no scuffle where that was the
It is not to be inferred that the House lacks a sense of honour because
it lacks delicacy. That would be an error. Iro was caught in a lie, and
it profoundly disgraced him. The House cut him, turned its back upon
him. He resigned his seat; otherwise he would have been expelled. But
it was lenient with Gregorig, who had called Iro a cowardly blatherskite
in debate. It merely went through the form of mildly censuring him.
That did not trouble Gregorig.
The Viennese say of themselves that they are an easy-going, pleasure-
loving community, making the best of life, and not taking it very
seriously. Nevertheless, they are grieved about the ways of their
Parliament, and say quite frankly that they are ashamed. They claim that
the low condition of the parliament's manners is new, not old. A
gentleman who was at the head of the government twenty years ago confirms
this, and says that in his time the parliament was orderly and well-
behaved. An English gentleman of long residence here endorses this, and
says that a low order of politicians originated the present forms of
questionable speech on the stump some years ago, and imported them into
the parliament. However, some day there will be a Minister of
Etiquette and a sergeant-at-arms, and then things will go better. I mean
if parliament and the Constitution survive the present storm.
IV.--THE HISTORIC CLIMAX
During the whole of November things went from bad to worse. The all-
important Ausgleich remained hard aground, and could not be sparred off.
Badeni's government could not withdraw the Language Ordinance and keep
its majority, and the Opposition could not be placated on easier terms.
One night, while the customary pandemonium was crashing and thundering
along at its best, a fight broke out. It was a surging, struggling,
shoulder-to-shoulder scramble. A great many blows were struck. Twice
Schonerer lifted one of the heavy ministerial fauteuils--some say with
one hand--and threatened members of the Majority with it, but it was
wrenched away from him; a member hammered Wolf over the head with the
President's bell, and another member choked him; a professor was flung
down and belaboured with fists and choked; he held up an open penknife as
a defence against the blows; it was snatched from him and flung to a
distance; it hit a peaceful Christian Socialist who wasn't doing
anything, and brought blood from his hand. This was the only blood
drawn. The men who got hammered and choked looked sound and well next
day. The fists and the bell were not properly handled, or better results
would have been apparent. I am quite sure that the fighters were not in
On Thanksgiving Day the sitting was a history-making one. On that day
the harried, bedevilled, and despairing government went insane. In order
to free itself from the thraldom of the Opposition it committed this
curiously juvenile crime; it moved an important change of the Rules of
the House, forbade debate upon the motion, put it to a stand-up vote
instead of ayes and noes, and then gravely claimed that it had been
adopted; whereas, to even the dullest witness--if I without immodesty may
pretend to that place--it was plain that nothing legitimately to be
called a vote had been taken at all.
I think that Saltpeter never uttered a truer thing than when he said,
'Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.' Evidently the
government's mind was tottering when this bald insults to the House was
the best way it could contrive for getting out of the frying-pan.
The episode would have been funny if the matter at stake had been a
trifle; but in the circumstances it was pathetic. The usual storm was
raging in the House. As usual, many of the Majority and the most of the
Minority were standing up--to have a better chance to exchange epithets
and make other noises. Into this storm Count Falkenhayn entered, with
his paper in his hand; and at once there was a rush to get near him and
hear him read his motion. In a moment he was walled in by listeners.
The several clauses of his motion were loudly applauded by these allies,
and as loudly disapplauded--if I may invent a word--by such of the
Opposition as could hear his voice. When he took his seat the President
promptly put the motion--persons desiring to vote in the affirmative,
stand up! The House was already standing up; had been standing for an
hour; and before a third of it had found out what the President had been
saying, he had proclaimed the adoption of the motion! And only a few
heard that. In fact, when that House is legislating you can't tell it
from artillery practice.
You will realise what a happy idea it was to side-track the lawful ayes
and noes and substitute a stand-up vote by this fact: that a little
later, when a deputation of deputies waited upon the President and asked
him if he was actually willing to claim that that measure had been
passed, he answered, 'Yes--and unanimously.' It shows that in effect the
whole House was on its feet when that trick was sprung.
The 'Lex Falkenhayn,' thus strangely born, gave the President power to
suspend for three days any deputy who should continue to be disorderly
after being called to order twice, and it also placed at his disposal
such force as might be necessary to make the suspension effective. So
the House had a sergeant-at-arms at last, and a more formidable one, as
to power, than any other legislature in Christendom had ever possessed.
The Lex Falkenhayn also gave the House itself authority to suspend
members for thirty days.
On these terms the Ausgleich could be put through in an hour--apparently.
The Opposition would have to sit meek and quiet, and stop obstructing, or
be turned into the street, deputy after deputy, leaving the Majority an
unvexed field for its work.
Certainly the thing looked well. The government was out of the frying-
pan at last. It congratulated itself, and was almost girlishly happy.
Its stock rose suddenly from less than nothing to a premium. It
confessed to itself, with pride, that its Lex Falkenhayn was a master-
stroke--a work of genius.
However, there were doubters--men who were troubled, and believed that a
grave mistake had been made. It might be that the Opposition was
crushed, and profitably for the country, too; but the manner of it--the
manner of it! That was the serious part. It could have far-reaching
results; results whose gravity might transcend all guessing. It might be
the initial step toward a return to government by force, a restoration of
the irresponsible methods of obsolete times.
There were no vacant seats in the galleries next day. In fact, standing-
room outside the building was at a premium. There were crowds there, and
a glittering array of helmeted and brass-buttoned police, on foot and on
horseback, to keep them from getting too much excited. No one could
guess what was going to happen, but every one felt that something was
going to happen, and hoped he might have a chance to see it, or at least
get the news of it while it was fresh.
At noon the House was empty--for I do not count myself. Half an hour
later the two galleries were solidly packed, the floor still empty.
Another half-hour later Wolf entered and passed to his place; then other
deputies began to stream in, among them many forms and faces grown
familiar of late. By one o'clock the membership was present in full
force. A band of Socialists stood grouped against the ministerial desks,
in the shadow of the Presidential tribune. It was observable that these
official strongholds were now protected against rushes by bolted gates,
and that these were in ward of servants wearing the House's livery. Also
the removable desk-boards had been taken away, and nothing left for
disorderly members to slat with.
There was a pervading, anxious hush--at least what stood very well for a
hush in that House. It was believed by many that the Opposition was
cowed, and that there would be no more obstruction, no more noise. That
was an error.
Presently the President entered by the distant door to the right,
followed by Vice-President Fuchs, and the two took their way down past
the Polish benches toward the tribune. Instantly the customary storm of
noises burst out, and rose higher and higher, and wilder and wilder, and
really seemed to surpass anything that had gone before it in that place.
The President took his seat and begged for order, but no one could hear
him. His lips moved--one could see that; be bowed his body forward
appealingly, and spread his great hand eloquently over his breast--one
could see that; but as concerned his uttered words, he probably could not
hear them himself. Below him was that crowd of two dozen Socialists
glaring up at him, shaking their fists at him, roaring imprecations and
insulting epithets at him. This went on for some time. Suddenly the
Socialists burst through the gates and stormed up through the ministerial
benches, and a man in a red cravat reached up and snatched the documents
that lay on the President's desk and flung them abroad. The next moment
he and his allies were struggling and fighting with the half-dozen
uniformed servants who were there to protect the new gates. Meantime a
detail of Socialists had swarmed up the side steps and overflowed the
President and the Vice, and were crowding and shouldering and shoving
them out of the place. They crowded them out, and down the steps and
across the House, past the Polish benches; and all about them swarmed
hostile Poles and Czechs, who resisted them. One could see fists go up
and come down, with other signs and shows of a heady fight; then the
President and the Vice disappeared through the door of entrance, and the
victorious Socialists turned and marched back, mounted the tribune, flung
the President's bell and his remaining papers abroad, and then stood
there in a compact little crowd, eleven strong, and held the place as if
it were a fortress. Their friends on the floor were in a frenzy of
triumph, and manifested it in their deafening way. The whole House was
on its feet, amazed and wondering.
It was an astonishing situation, and imposingly dramatic. Nobody had
looked for this. The unexpected had happened. What next? But there can
be no next; the play is over; the grand climax is reached; the
possibilities are exhausted; ring down the curtain.
Not yet. That distant door opens again. And now we see what history
will be talking of five centuries hence: a uniformed and helmeted
battalion of bronzed and stalwart men marching in double file down the
floor of the House--a free parliament profaned by an invasion of brute
It was an odious spectacle--odious and awful. For one moment it was an
unbelievable thing--a thing beyond all credibility; it must be a
delusion, a dream, a nightmare. But no, it was real--pitifully real,
shamefully real, hideously real. These sixty policemen had been
soldiers, and they went at their work with the cold unsentimentality of
their trade. They ascended the steps of the tribune, laid their hands
upon the inviolable persons of the representatives of a nation, and
dragged and tugged and hauled them down the steps and out at the door;
then ranged themselves in stately military array in front of the
ministerial estrade, and so stood.
It was a tremendous episode. The memory of it will outlast all the
thrones that exist to-day. In the whole history of free parliaments the
like of it had been seen but three times before. It takes its imposing
place among the world's unforgettable things. It think that in my
lifetime I have not twice seen abiding history made before my eyes, but I
know that I have seen it once.
Some of the results of this wild freak followed instantly. The Badeni
government came down with a crash; there was a popular outbreak or two in
Vienna; there were three or four days of furious rioting in Prague,
followed by the establishing there of martial law; the Jews and Germans
were harried and plundered, and their houses destroyed; in other Bohemian
towns there was rioting--in some cases the Germans being the rioters, in
others the Czechs--and in all cases the Jew had to roast, no matter which
side he was on. We are well along in December now; the next new
Minister-President has not been able to patch up a peace among the
warring factions of the parliament, therefore there is no use in calling
it together again for the present; public opinion believes that
parliamentary government and the Constitution are actually threatened
with extinction, and that the permanency of the monarchy itself is a not
absolutely certain thing!
Yes, the Lex Falkenhayn was a great invention, and did what was claimed
for it--it got the government out of the frying-pan.
 That is, revolution.
 'In that gracious bygone time when a mild and good-tempered spirit
was the atmosphere of our House, when the manner of our speakers was
studiously formal and academic, and the storms and explosions of to-day
were wholly unknown,' etc.--Translation of the opening remark of a
leading article in this morning's 'Neue Freie Presse,' December 11.
 It is the 9th.--M.T.
PRIVATE HISTORY OF THE 'JUMPING FROG' STORY
Five or six years ago a lady from Finland asked me to tell her a story in
our Negro dialect, so that she could get an idea of what that variety of
speech was like. I told her one of Hopkinson Smith's Negro stories, and
gave her a copy of 'Harper's Monthly' containing it. She translated it
for a Swedish newspaper, but by an oversight named me as the author of it
instead of Smith. I was very sorry for that, because I got a good
lashing in the Swedish press, which would have fallen to his share but
for that mistake; for it was shown that Boccaccio had told that very
story, in his curt and meagre fashion, five hundred years before Smith
took hold of it and made a good and tellable thing out of it.
I have always been sorry for Smith. But my own turn has come now. A few
weeks ago Professor Van Dyke, of Princeton, asked this question:
'Do you know how old your "Jumping Frog" story is?'
And I answered:
'Yes--forty-five years. The thing happened in Calaveras County, in the
spring of 1849.'
'No; it happened earlier--a couple of thousand years earlier; it is a
I was astonished--and hurt. I said:
'I am willing to be a literary thief if it has been so ordained; I am
even willing to be caught robbing the ancient dead alongside of Hopkinson
Smith, for he is my friend and a good fellow, and I think would be as
honest as any one if he could do it without occasioning remark; but I am
not willing to antedate his crimes by fifteen hundred years. I must ask
you to knock off part of that.'
But the professor was not chaffing: he was in earnest, and could not
abate a century. He offered to get the book and send it to me and the
Cambridge text-book containing the English translation also. I thought I
would like the translation best, because Greek makes me tired. January
30th he sent me the English version, and I will presently insert it in
this article. It is my 'Jumping Frog' tale in every essential. It is
not strung out as I have strung it out, but it is all there.
To me this is very curious and interesting. Curious for several reasons.
I heard the story told by a man who was not telling it to his hearers as
a thing new to them, but as a thing which they had witnessed and would
remember. He was a dull person, and ignorant; he had no gift as a story-
teller, and no invention; in his mouth this episode was merely history--
history and statistics; and the gravest sort of history, too; he was
entirely serious, for he was dealing with what to him were austere facts,
and they interested him solely because they were facts; he was drawing on
his memory, not his mind; he saw no humour in his tale, neither did his
listeners; neither he nor they ever smiled or laughed; in my time I have
not attended a more solemn conference. To him and to his fellow gold-
miners there were just two things in the story that were worth
considering. One was the smartness of its hero, Jim Smiley, in taking
the stranger in with a loaded frog; and the other was Smiley's deep
knowledge of a frog's nature--for he knew (as the narrator asserted and
the listeners conceded) that a frog likes shot and is already ready to
eat it. Those men discussed those two points, and those only. They were
hearty in their admiration of them, and none of the party was aware that
a first-rate story had been told in a first-rate way, and that it brimful
of a quality whose presence they never suspected--humour.
Now, then, the interesting question is, did the frog episode happen in
Angel's Camp in the spring of '49, as told in my hearing that day in the
fall of 1865? I am perfectly sure that it did. I am also sure that its
duplicate happened in Boeotia a couple of thousand years ago. I think it
must be a case of history actually repeating itself, and not a case of a
good story floating down the ages and surviving because too good to be
allowed to perish.
I would now like to have the reader examine the Greek story and the story
told by the dull and solemn Californian, and observe how exactly alike
they are in essentials.
THE ATHENIAN AND THE FROG.
An Athenian once fell in with a Boeotian who was sitting by the road-side
looking at a frog. Seeing the other approach, the Boeotian said his was
a remarkable frog, and asked if he would agree to start a contest of
frogs, on condition that he whose frog jumped farthest should receive a
large sum of money. The Athenian replied that he would if the other
would fetch him a frog, for the lake was near. To this he agreed, and
when he was gone the Athenian took the frog, and, opening its mouth,
poured some stones into its stomach, so that it did not indeed seem
larger than before, but could not jump. The Boeotian soon returned with
the other frog, and the contest began. The second frog first was
pinched, and jumped moderately; then they pinched the Boeotian frog. And
he gathered himself for a leap, and used the utmost effort, but he could
not move his body the least. So the Athenian departed with the money.
When he was gone the Boeotian, wondering what was the matter with the
frog, lifted him up and examined him. And being turned upside down, he
opened his mouth and vomited out the stones.
And here is the way it happened in California:
FROM 'THE CELEBRATED JUMPING FROG OF CALAVERAS COUNTY'
Well, thish-yer Smiley had rat-tarriers and chicken cocks, and tom-cats,
and all of 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 flor--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
came 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 travelled 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's 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 p'ints about that frog that's any better'n any other frog.'
'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 that he can outjump any frog in Calaveras County.'
And the feller studies 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.' And 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 hisself, 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 touched up the frogs from
behind, and the new frog hopped off lively; but Dan'l give a heave, and
hysted up his shoulders--so--like a Frenchman, but it warn't no use--he
couldn't budge; he was planted as solid as a church, and he couldn't no
more stir than if he was anchored out. Smiley was a good deal surprised,
and he was disgusted, too, but he didn't have no idea what the matter
was, of course.
The feller 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 p'ints
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
nape 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 feeler, but he
never ketched him.
The resemblances are deliciously exact. There you have the wily Boeotain
and the wily Jim Smiley waiting--two thousand years apart--and waiting,
each equipped with his frog and 'laying' for the stranger. A contest is
proposed--for money. The Athenian would take a chance 'if the other
would fetch him a frog'; the Yankee says: 'I'm only a stranger here, and
I ain't got a frog; but if I had a frog I'd bet you.' The wily Boeotian
and the wily Californian, with that vast gulf of two thousand years
between, retire eagerly and go frogging in the marsh; the Athenian and
the Yankee remain behind and work a best advantage, the one with pebbles,
the other with shot. Presently the contest began. In the one case 'they
pinched the Boeotian frog'; in the other, 'him and the feller touched up
the frogs from behind.' The Boeotian frog 'gathered himself for a leap'
(you can just see him!), but 'could not move his body in the least'; the
Californian frog 'give a heave, but it warn't no use--he couldn't budge.'
In both the ancient and the modern cases the strangers departed with the
money. The Boeotian and the Californian wonder what is the matter with
their frogs; they lift them and examine; they turn them upside down and
out spills the informing ballast.
Yes, the resemblances are curiously exact. I used to tell the story of
the 'Jumping Frog' in San Francisco, and presently Artemus Ward came
along and wanted it to help fill out a little book which he was about to
publish; so I wrote it out and sent it to his publisher, Carleton; but
Carleton thought the book had enough matter in it, so he gave the story
to Henry Clapp as a present, and Clapp put it in his 'Saturday Press,'
and it killed that paper with a suddenness that was beyond praise. At
least the paper died with that issue, and none but envious people have
ever tried to rob me of the honour and credit of killing it. The
'Jumping Frog' was the first piece of writing of mine that spread itself
through the newspapers and brought me into public notice. Consequently,
the 'Saturday Press' was a cocoon and I the worm in it; also, I was the
gay-coloured literary moth which its death set free. This simile has
been used before.
Early in '66 the 'Jumping Frog' was issued in book form, with other
sketches of mine. A year or two later Madame Blanc translated it into
French and published it in the 'Revue des Deux Mondes,' but the result
was not what should have been expected, for the 'Revue' struggled along
and pulled through, and is alive yet. I think the fault must have been
in the translation. I ought to have translated it myself. I think so
because I examined into the matter and finally retranslated the sketch
from the French back into English, to see what the trouble was; that is,
to see just what sort of a focus the French people got upon it. Then the
mystery was explained. In French the story is too confused and chaotic
and unreposeful and ungrammatical and insane; consequently it could only
cause grief and sickness--it could not kill. A glance at my
retranslation will show the reader that this must be true.
THE FROG JUMPING OF THE COUNTY OF CALAVERAS
Eh bien! this Smiley nourished some terriers a rats, and some cocks of
combat, and some cats, 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 flies!'--in a fash of the eye Daniel 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 bests 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 travelled, 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 then 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!' responded Smiley, always with an air disengaged, 'she is good
for one thing, to my notice (a mon avis), she can better in jumping (elle
peut batter 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 batter in jumping no matter which frog of the country 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 attendre). He
attended enough longtimes, 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, exhalted the
shoulders thus, like a Frenchman--to what good? He could not 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 not himself doubted not of the
turn being intended (mais il ne se doutait pas du tour bien entendre).
The indidivual empocketed the silver, himself with it went, and of it
himself in going is 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 de pouce pas-dessus l'epaule, comme ca, au
pauvre Daniel, en disant de son air delibere).
'Eh bien! I no see not that that frog has nothing of better than
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 recognised 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.
It may be that there are people who can translate better than I can, but
I am not acquainted with them.
So ends the private and public history of the Jumping Frog of Calaveras
County, an incident which has this unique feature about it--that it is
both old and new, a 'chestnut' and not a 'chestnut;' for it was original
when it happened two thousand years ago, and was again original when it
happened in California in our own time.
London, July, 1900.--Twice, recently, I have been asked this question:
'Have you seen the Greek version of the "Jumping Frog"?'
And twice I have answered -'No.'
'Has Professor Van Dyke seen it?'
'I suppose so.'
'Then you supposition is at fault.'
'Because there isn't any such version.'
'Do you mean to intimate that the tale is modern, and not borrowed from
some ancient Greek book.'
'Yes. It is not permissible for any but the very young and innocent to
be so easily beguiled as you and Van Dyke have been.'
'Do you mean that we have fallen a prey to our ignorance and simplicity?'
'Yes. Is Van Dyke a Greek scholar?'
'I believe so.'
'Then he knew where to find the ancient Greek version if one existed.
Why didn't he look? Why did he jump to conclusions?'
'I don't know. And was it worth the trouble, anyway?'
As it turns out, now, it was not claimed that the story had been
translated from the Greek. It had its place among other uncredited
stories, and was there to be turned into Greek by students of that
language. 'Greek Prose Composition'--that title is what made the
confusion. It seemed to mean that the originals were Greek. It was not
well chosen, for it was pretty sure to mislead.
Thus vanishes the Greek Frog, and I am sorry: for he loomed fine and
grand across the sweep of the ages, and I took a great pride in him.
 Sidgwick, Greek Prose Composition, page 116
MY MILITARY CAMPAIGN
You have heard from a great many people who did something in the war; is
it not fair and right that you listen a little moment to one who started
out to do something in it, but didn't? Thousands entered the war, got
just a taste of it, and then stepped out again, permanently. These, by
their very numbers, are respectable, and are therefore entitled to a sort
of voice--not a loud one, but a modest one; not a boastful one, but an
apologetic one. They ought not to be allowed much space among better
people--people who did something--I grant that; but they ought at least
to be allowed to state why they didn't do anything, and also to explain
the process by which they didn't do anything. Surely this kind of light
must have a sort of value.
Out West there was a good deal of confusion in men's minds during the
first months of the great trouble--a good deal of unsettledness, of
leaning first this way, then that, then the other way. It was hard for
us to get our bearings. I call to mind an instance of this. I was
piloting on the Mississippi when the news came that South Carolina had
gone out of the Union on December 20, 1860. My pilot-mate was a New
Yorker. He was strong for the Union; so was I. But he would not listen
to me with any patience; my loyalty was smirched, to his eye, because my
father had owned slaves. I said, in palliation of this dark fact, that I
had heard my father say, some years before he died, that slavery was a
great wrong, and that he would free the solitary Negro he then owned if
he could think it right to give away the property of the family when he
was so straitened in means. My mate retorted that a mere impulse was
nothing--anybody could pretend to a good impulse; and went on decrying my
Unionism and libelling my ancestry. A month later the secession
atmosphere had considerably thickened on the Lower Mississippi, and I
became a rebel; so did he. We were together in New Orleans, January 26,
when Louisiana went out of the Union. He did his full share of the rebel
shouting, but was bitterly opposed to letting me do mine. He said that I
came of bad stock--of a father who had been willing to set slaves free.
In the following summer he was piloting a Federal gun-boat and shouting
for the Union again, and I was in the Confederate army. I held his note
for some borrowed money. He was one of the most upright men I ever knew;
but he repudiated that note without hesitation, because I was a rebel,
and the son of a man who had owned slaves.
In that summer--of 1861--the first wash of the wave of war broke upon the
shores of Missouri. Our State was invaded by the Union forces. They
took possession of St. Louis, Jefferson Barracks, and some other points.
The Governor, Claib Jackson, issued his proclamation calling out fifty
thousand militia to repel the invader.
I was visiting in the small town where my boyhood had been spent--
Hannibal, Marion County. Several of us got together in a secret place by
night and formed ourselves into a military company. One Tom Lyman, a
young fellow of a good deal of spirit but of no military experience, was
made captain; I was made second lieutenant. We had no first lieutenant;
I do not know why; it was long ago. There were fifteen of us. By the
advice of an innocent connected with the organisation, we called
ourselves the Marion Rangers. I do not remember that any one found fault
with the name. I did not; I thought it sounded quite well. The young
fellow who proposed this title was perhaps a fair sample of the kind of
stuff we were made of. He was young, ignorant, good-natured, well-
meaning, trivial, full of romance, and given to reading chivalric novels
and singing forlorn love-ditties. He had some pathetic little nickel-
plated aristocratic instincts, and detested his name, which was Dunlap;
detested it, partly because it was nearly as common in that region as
Smith, but mainly because it had a plebeian sound to his ear. So he
tried to ennoble it by writing it in this way: d'Unlap. That contented
his eye, but left his ear unsatisfied, for people gave the new name the
same old pronunciation--emphasis on the front end of it. He then did the
bravest thing that can be imagined--a thing to make one shiver when one
remembers how the world is given to resenting shams and affectations; he
began to write his name so: d'Un Lap. And he waited patiently through
the long storm of mud that was flung at this work of art, and he had his
reward at last; for he lived to see that name accepted, and the emphasis
put where he wanted it, by people who had known him all his life, and to
whom the tribe of Dunlaps had been as familiar as the rain and the
sunshine for forty years. So sure of victory at last is the courage that
can wait. He said he had found, by consulting some ancient French
chronicles, that the name was rightly and originally written d'Un Lap;
and said that if it were translated into English it would mean Peterson:
Lap, Latin or Greek, he said, for stone or rock, same as the French
Pierre, that is to say, Peter; d', of or from; un, a or one; hence d'Un
Lap, of or from a stone or a Peter; that is to say, one who is the son of
a stone, the son of a Peter--Peterson. Our militia company were not
learned, and the explanation confused them; so they called him Peterson
Dunlap. He proved useful to us in his way; he named our camps for us,
and he generally struck a name that was 'no slouch,' as the boys said.
That is one sample of us. Another was Ed Stevens, son of the town
jeweller,--trim-built, handsome, graceful, neat as a cat; bright,
educated, but given over entirely to fun. There was nothing serious in
life to him. As far as he was concerned, this military expedition of
ours was simply a holiday. I should say that about half of us looked
upon it in the same way; not consciously, perhaps, but unconsciously.
We did not think; we were not capable of it. As for myself, I was full
of unreasoning joy to be done with turning out of bed at midnight and
four in the morning, for a while; grateful to have a change, new scenes,
new occupations, a new interest. In my thoughts that was as far as I
went; I did not go into the details; as a rule one doesn't at twenty-
Another sample was Smith, the blacksmith's apprentice. This vast donkey
had some pluck, of a slow and sluggish nature, but a soft heart; at one
time he would knock a horse down for some impropriety, and at another he
would get homesick and cry. However, he had one ultimate credit to his
account which some of us hadn't: he stuck to the war, and was killed in
battle at last.
Jo Bowers, another sample, was a huge, good-natured, flax-headed lubber;
lazy, sentimental, full of harmless brag, a grumbler by nature; an
experienced, industrious, ambitious, and often quite picturesque liar,
and yet not a successful one, for he had had no intelligent training, but
was allowed to come up just any way. This life was serious enough to
him, and seldom satisfactory. But he was a good fellow, anyway, and the
boys all liked him. He was made orderly sergeant; Stevens was made
These samples will answer--and they are quite fair ones. Well, this herd
of cattle started for the war. What could you expect of them? They did
as well as they knew how, but really what was justly to be expected of
them? Nothing, I should say. That is what they did.
We waited for a dark night, for caution and secrecy were necessary; then,
toward midnight, we stole in couples and from various directions to the
Griffith place, beyond the town; from that point we set out together on
foot. Hannibal lies at the extreme south-eastern corner of Marion
County, on the Mississippi River; our objective point was the hamlet of
New London, ten miles away, in Ralls County.
The first hour was all fun, all idle nonsense and laughter. But that
could not be kept up. The steady trudging came to be like work; the play
had somehow oozed out of it; the stillness of the woods and the
sombreness of the night began to throw a depressing influence over the
spirits of the boys, and presently the talking died out and each person
shut himself up in his own thoughts. During the last half of the second
hour nobody said a word.
Now we approached a log farm-house where, according to report, there was
a guard of five Union soldiers. Lyman called a halt; and there, in the
deep gloom of the overhanging branches, he began to whisper a plan of
assault upon that house, which made the gloom more depressing than it was
before. It was a crucial moment; we realised, with a cold suddenness,
that here was no jest--we were standing face to face with actual war. We
were equal to the occasion. In our response there was no hesitation, no
indecision: we said that if Lyman wanted to meddle with those soldiers,
he could go ahead and do it; but if he waited for us to follow him, he
would wait a long time.
Lyman urged, pleaded, tried to shame us, but it had no effect. Our
course was plain, our minds were made up: we would flank the farmhouse--
go out around. And that is what we did. We turned the position.
We struck into the woods and entered upon a rough time, stumbling over
roots, getting tangled in vines, and torn by briers. At last we reached
an open place in a safe region, and sat down, blown and hot, to cool off
and nurse our scratches and bruises. Lyman was annoyed, but the rest of
us were cheerful; we had flanked the farm-house, we had made our first
military movement, and it was a success; we had nothing to fret about, we
were feeling just the other way. Horse-play and laughing began again;
the expedition was become a holiday frolic once more.
Then we had two more hours of dull trudging and ultimate silence and
depression; then, about dawn, we straggled into New London, soiled, heel-
blistered, fagged with our little march, and all of us except Stevens in
a sour and raspy humour and privately down on the war. We stacked our
shabby old shot-guns in Colonel Ralls's barn, and then went in a body and
breakfasted with that veteran of the Mexican War. Afterwards he took us
to a distant meadow, and there in the shade of a tree we listened to an
old-fashioned speech from him, full of gunpowder and glory, full of that
adjective-piling, mixed metaphor, and windy declamation which was
regarded as eloquence in that ancient time and that remote region; and
then he swore us on the Bible to be faithful to the State of Missouri and
drive all invaders from her soil, no matter whence they might come or
under what flag they might march. This mixed us considerably, and we
could not make out just what service we were embarked in; but Colonel
Ralls, the practised politician and phrase-juggler, was not similarly in
doubt; he knew quite clearly that he had invested us in the cause of the
Southern Confederacy. He closed the solemnities by belting around me the
sword which his neighbour, colonel Brown, had worn at Buena Vista and
Molino del Rey; and he accompanied this act with another impressive
Then we formed in line of battle and marched four miles to a shady and
pleasant piece of woods on the border of the far-reached expanses of a
flowery prairie. It was an enchanting region for war--our kind of war.
We pierced the forest about half a mile, and took up a strong position,
with some low, rocky, and wooded hills behind us, and a purling, limpid
creek in front. Straightway half the command were in swimming, and the
other half fishing. The ass with the French name gave this position a
romantic title, but it was too long, so the boys shortened and simplified
it to Camp Ralls.
We occupied an old maple-sugar camp, whose half-rotted troughs were still
propped against the trees. A long corn-crib served for sleeping quarters
for the battalion. On our left, half a mile away, was Mason's farm and
house; and he was a friend to the cause. Shortly after noon the farmers
began to arrive from several directions, with mules and horses for our
use, and these they lent us for as long as the war might last, which they
judged would be about three months. The animals were of all sizes, all
colours, and all breeds. They were mainly young and frisky, and nobody
in the command could stay on them long at a time; for we were town boys,
and ignorant of horsemanship. The creature that fell to my share was a
very small mule, and yet so quick and active that it could throw me
without difficulty; and it did this whenever I got on it. Then it would
bray--stretching its neck out, laying its ears back, and spreading its
jaws till you could see down to its works. It was a disagreeable animal,
in every way. If I took it by the bridle and tried to lead it off the
grounds, it would sit down and brace back, and no one could budge it.
However, I was not entirely destitute of military resources, and I did
presently manage to spoil this game; for I had seen many a steam-boat
aground in my time, and knew a trick or two which even a grounded mule
would be obliged to respect. There was a well by the corn-crib; so I
substituted thirty fathom of rope for the bridle, and fetched him home
with the windlass.
I will anticipate here sufficiently to say that we did learn to ride,
after some days' practice, but never well. We could not learn to like
our animals; they were not choice ones, and most of them had annoying
peculiarities of one kind or another. Stevens's horse would carry him,
when he was not noticing, under the huge excrescences which form on the
trunks of oak-trees, and wipe him out of the saddle; in this way Stevens
got several bad hurts. Sergeant Bowers's horse was very large and tall,
with slim, long legs, and looked like a railroad bridge. His size
enabled him to reach all about, and as far as he wanted to, with his
head; so he was always biting Bowers's legs. On the march, in the sun,
Bowers slept a good deal; and as soon as the horse recognised that he was
asleep he would reach around and bite him on the leg. His legs were
black and blue with bites. This was the only thing that could ever make
him swear, but this always did; whenever the horse bit him he always
swore, and of course Stevens, who laughed at everything, laughed at this,
and would even get into such convulsions over it as to lose his balance
and fall off his horse; and then Bowers, already irritated by the pain of
the horse-bite, would resent the laughter with hard language, and there
would be a quarrel; so that horse made no end of trouble and bad blood in
However, I will get back to where I was--our first afternoon in the
sugar-camp. The sugar-troughs came very handy as horse-troughs, and we
had plenty of corn to fill them with. I ordered Sergeant Bowers to feed
my mule; but he said that if I reckoned he went to war to be dry-nurse to
a mule, it wouldn't take me very long to find out my mistake. I believed
that this was insubordination, but I was full of uncertainties about
everything military, and so I let the thing pass, and went and ordered
Smith, the blacksmith's apprentice, to feed the mule; but he merely gave
me a large, cold, sarcastic grin, such as an ostensibly seven-year-old
horse gives you when you lift his lip and find he is fourteen, and turned
his back on me. I then went to the captain, and asked if it was not
right and proper and military for me to have an orderly. He said it was,
but as there was only one orderly in the corps, it was but right that he
himself should have Bowers on his staff. Bowers said he wouldn't serve
on anybody's staff; and if anybody thought he could make him, let him try
it. So, of course, the thing had to be dropped; there was no other way.
Next, nobody would cook; it was considered a degradation; so we had no
dinner. We lazied the rest of the pleasant afternoon away, some dozing
under the trees, some smoking cob-pipes and talking sweethearts and war,
some playing games. By late supper-time all hands were famished; and to
meet the difficulty all hands turned to, on an equal footing, and
gathered wood, built fires, and cooked the meal. Afterward everything
was smooth for a while; then trouble broke out between the corporal and
the sergeant, each claiming to rank the other. Nobody knew which was the
higher office; so Lyman had to settle the matter by making the rank of
both officers equal. The commander of an ignorant crew like that has
many troubles and vexations which probably do not occur in the regular
army at all. However, with the song-singing and yarn-spinning around the
camp-fire, everything presently became serene again; and by-and-by we
raked the corn down level in one end of the crib, and all went to bed on
it, tying a horse to the door, so that he would neigh if any one tried to
We had some horsemanship drill every forenoon; then, afternoons, we rode
off here and there in squads a few miles, and visited the farmers' girls,
and had a youthful good time, and got an honest good dinner or supper,
and then home again to camp, happy and content.
For a time, life was idly delicious, it was perfect; there was nothing to
mar it. Then came some farmers with an alarm one day. They said it was
rumoured that the enemy were advancing in our direction, from over Hyde's
prairie. The result was a sharp stir among us, and general
consternation. It was a rude awakening from our pleasant trance. The
rumour was but a rumour--nothing definite about it; so, in the confusion,
we did not know which way to retreat. Lyman was for not retreating at
all, in these uncertain circumstances; but he found that if he tried to
maintain that attitude he would fare badly, for the command were in no
humour to put up with insubordination. So he yielded the point and
called a council of war--to consist of himself and the three other
officers; but the privates made such a fuss about being left out, that we
had to allow them to remain, for they were already present, and doing the
most of the talking too. The question was, which way to retreat; but all
were so flurried that nobody seemed to have even a guess to offer.
Except Lyman. He explained in a few calm words, that inasmuch as the
enemy were approaching from over Hyde's prairie, our course was simple:
all we had to do was not to retreat toward him; any other direction would
answer our needs perfectly. Everybody saw in a moment how true this was,
and how wise; so Lyman got a great many compliments. It was now decided
that we should fall back upon Mason's farm.
It was after dark by this time, and as we could not know how soon the
enemy might arrive, it did not seem best to try to take the horses and
things with us; so we only took the guns and ammunition, and started at
once. The route was very rough and hilly and rocky, and presently the
night grew very black and rain began to fall; so we had a troublesome
time of it, struggling and stumbling along in the dark; and soon some
person slipped and fell, and then the next person behind stumbled over
him and fell, and so did the rest, one after the other; and then Bowers
came with the keg of powder in his arms, whilst the command were all
mixed together, arms and legs, on the muddy slope; and so he fell, of
course, with the keg, and this started the whole detachment down the hill
in a body, and they landed in the brook at the bottom in a pile, and each
that was undermost pulling the hair and scratching and biting those that
were on top of him; and those that were being scratched and bitten,
scratching and biting the rest in their turn, and all saying they would
die before they would ever go to war again if they ever got out of this
brook this time, and the invader might rot for all they cared, and the
country along with them--and all such talk as that, which was dismal to
hear and take part in, in such smothered, low voices, and such a grisly
dark place and so wet, and the enemy maybe coming any moment.
The keg of powder was lost, and the guns too; so the growling and
complaining continued straight along whilst the brigade pawed around the
pasty hillside and slopped around in the brook hunting for these things;
consequently we lost considerable time at this; and then we heard a
sound, and held our breath and listened, and it seemed to be the enemy
coming, though it could have been a cow, for it had a cough like a cow;
but we did not wait, but left a couple of guns behind and struck out for
Mason's again as briskly as we could scramble along in the dark. But we
got lost presently among the rugged little ravines, and wasted a deal of
time finding the way again, so it was after nine when we reached Mason's
stile at last; and then before we could open our mouths to give the
countersign, several dogs came bounding over the fence, with great riot
and noise, and each of them took a soldier by the slack of his trousers
and began to back away with him. We could not shoot the dogs without
endangering the persons they were attached to; so we had to look on,
helpless, at what was perhaps the most mortifying spectacle of the civil
war. There was light enough, and to spare, for the Masons had now run
out on the porch with candles in their hands. The old man and his son
came and undid the dogs without difficulty, all but Bowers's; but they
couldn't undo his dog, they didn't know his combination; he was of the
bull kind, and seemed to be set with a Yale time-lock; but they got him
loose at last with some scalding water, of which Bowers got his share and
returned thanks. Peterson Dunlap afterwards made up a fine name for this
engagement, and also for the night march which preceded it, but both have
long ago faded out of my memory.
We now went into the house, and they began to ask us a world of
questions, whereby it presently came out that we did not know anything
concerning who or what we were running from; so the old gentleman made
himself very frank, and said we were a curious breed of soldiers, and
guessed we could be depended on to end up the war in time, because no
Government could stand the expense of the shoe-leather we should cost it
trying to follow us around. 'Marion Rangers! good name, b'gosh!' said
he. And wanted to know why we hadn't had a picket-guard at the place
where the road entered the prairie, and why we hadn't sent out a scouting
party to spy out the enemy and bring us an account of his strength, and
so on, before jumping up and stampeding out of a strong position upon a
mere vague rumour--and so on, and so forth, till he made us all fell
shabbier than the dogs had done, and not half so enthusiastically
welcome. So we went to bed shamed and low-spirited; except Stevens.
Soon Stevens began to devise a garment for Bowers which could be made to
automatically display his battle-scars to the grateful, or conceal them
from the envious, according to his occasions; but Bowers was in no humour
for this, so there was a fight, and when it was over Stevens had some
battle-scars of his own to think about.
Then we got a little sleep. But after all we had gone through, our
activities were not over for the night; for about two o'clock in the
morning we heard a shout of warning from down the lane, accompanied by a
chorus from all the dogs, and in a moment everybody was up and flying
around to find out what the alarm was about. The alarmist was a horseman
who gave notice that a detachment of Union soldiers was on its way from
Hannibal with orders to capture and hang any bands like ours which it
could find, and said we had no time to lose. Farmer Mason was in a
flurry this time, himself. He hurried us out of the house with all
haste, and sent one of his negroes with us to show us where to hide
ourselves and our tell-tale guns among the ravines half a mile away. It
was raining heavily.
We struck down the lane, then across some rocky pasture-land which
offered good advantages for stumbling; consequently we were down in the
mud most of the time, and every time a man went down he blackguarded the
war, and the people who started it, and everybody connected with it, and
gave himself the master dose of all for being so foolish as to go into
it. At last we reached the wooded mouth of a ravine, and there we
huddled ourselves under the streaming trees, and sent the negro back
home. It was a dismal and heart-breaking time. We were like to be
drowned with the rain, deafened with the howling wind and the booming
thunder, and blinded by the lightning. It was indeed a wild night. The
drenching we were getting was misery enough, but a deeper misery still
was the reflection that the halter might end us before we were a day
older. A death of this shameful sort had not occurred to us as being
among the possibilities of war. It took the romance all out of the
campaign, and turned our dreams of glory into a repulsive nightmare. As
for doubting that so barbarous an order had been given, not one of us did
The long night wore itself out at last, and then the negro came to us
with the news that the alarm had manifestly been a false one, and that
breakfast would soon be ready. Straightway we were light-hearted again,
and the world was bright, and life as full of hope and promise as ever--
for we were young then. How long ago that was! Twenty-four years.
The mongrel child of philology named the night's refuse Camp Devastation,
and no soul objected. The Masons gave us a Missouri country breakfast,
in Missourian abundance, and we needed it: hot biscuits; hot 'wheat
bread' prettily criss-crossed in a lattice pattern on top; hot corn pone;
fried chicken; bacon, coffee, eggs, milk, buttermilk, etc.;--and the
world may be confidently challenged to furnish the equal to such a
breakfast, as it is cooked in the South.
We stayed several days at Mason's; and after all these years the memory
of the dullness, the stillness and lifelessness of that slumberous farm-
house still oppresses my spirit as with a sense of the presence of death
and mourning. There was nothing to do, nothing to think about; there was
no interest in life. The male part of the household were away in the
fields all day, the women were busy and out of our sight; there was no
sound but the plaintive wailing of a spinning-wheel, forever moaning out
from some distant room--the most lonesome sound in nature, a sound
steeped and sodden with homesickness and the emptiness of life. The
family went to bed about dark every night, and as we were not invited to
intrude any new customs, we naturally followed theirs. Those nights were
a hundred years long to youths accustomed to being up till twelve. We
lay awake and miserable till that hour every time, and grew old and
decrepit waiting through the still eternities for the clock-strikes.
This was no place for town boys. So at last it was with something very
like joy that we received news that the enemy were on our track again.
With a new birth of the old warrior spirit, we sprang to our places in
line of battle and fell back on Camp Ralls.
Captain Lyman had taken a hint from Mason's talk, and he now gave ordered
that our camp should be guarded against surprise by the posting of
pickets. I was ordered to place a picket at the forks of the road in
Hyde's prairie. Night shut down black and threatening. I told Sergeant
Bowers to go out to that place and stay till midnight; and, just as I was
expecting, he said he wouldn't do it. I tried to get others to go, but
all refused. Some excused themselves on account of the weather; but the
rest were frank enough to say they wouldn't go in any kind of weather.
This kind of thing sounds odd now, and impossible, but it seemed a
perfectly natural thing to do. There were scores of little camps
scattered over Missouri where the same thing was happening. These camps
were composed of young men who had been born and reared to a sturdy
independence, and who did not know what it meant to be ordered around by
Tom, Dick, and Harry, whom they had known familiarly all their lives, in
the village or on the farm. It is quite within the probabilities that
this same thing was happening all over the South. James Redpath
recognised the justice of this assumption, and furnished the following
instance in support of it. During a short stay in East Tennessee he was
in a citizen colonel's tent one day, talking, when a big private appeared
at the door, and without salute or other circumlocution said to the
'Say, Jim, I'm a-goin' home for a few days.'
'Well, I hain't b'en there for a right smart while, and I'd like to see
how things is comin' on.'
'How long are you going to be gone?'
''Bout two weeks.'
'Well don't be gone longer than that; and get back sooner if you can.'
That was all, and the citizen officer resumed his conversation where the
private had broken it off. This was in the first months of the war, of
course. The camps in our part of Missouri were under Brigadier-General
Thomas H. Harris. He was a townsman of ours, a first-rate fellow, and
well liked; but we had all familiarly known him as the sole and modest-
salaried operator in our telegraph office, where he had to send about one
dispatch a week in ordinary times, and two when there was a rush of
business; consequently, when he appeared in our midst one day, on the
wing, and delivered a military command of some sort, in a large military
fashion, nobody was surprised at the response which he got from the
'Oh, now, what'll you take to don't, Tom Harris!'
It was quite the natural thing. One might justly imagine that we were
hopeless material for war. And so we seemed, in our ignorant state; but
there were those among us who afterward learned the grim trade; learned
to obey like machines; became valuable soldiers; fought all through the
war, and came out at the end with excellent records. One of the very
boys who refused to go out on picket duty that night, and called me an
ass for thinking he would expose himself to danger in such a foolhardy
way, had become distinguished for intrepidity before he was a year older.
I did secure my picket that night--not by authority, but by diplomacy. I
got Bowers to go, by agreeing to exchange ranks with him for the time
being, and go along and stand the watch with him as his subordinate. We
stayed out there a couple of dreary hours in the pitchy darkness and the
rain, with nothing to modify the dreariness but Bowers's monotonous
growlings at the war and the weather; then we began to nod, and presently
found it next to impossible to stay in the saddle; so we gave up the
tedious job, and went back to the camp without waiting for the relief
guard. We rode into camp without interruption or objection from anybody,
and the enemy could have done the same, for there were no sentries.
Everybody was asleep; at midnight there was nobody to send out another
picket, so none was sent. We never tried to establish a watch at night
again, as far as I remember, but we generally kept a picket out in the
In that camp the whole command slept on the corn in the big corn-crib;
and there was usually a general row before morning, for the place was
full of rats, and they would scramble over the boys' bodies and faces,
annoying and irritating everybody; and now and then they would bite some
one's toe, and the person who owned the toe would start up and magnify
his English and begin to throw corn in the dark. The ears were half as
heavy as bricks, and when they struck they hurt. The persons struck
would respond, and inside of five minutes every man would be locked in a
death-grip with his neighbour. There was a grievous deal of blood shed
in the corn-crib, but this was all that was spilt while I was in the war.
No, that is not quite true. But for one circumstance it would have been
all. I will come to that now.
Our scares were frequent. Every few days rumours would come that the
enemy were approaching. In these cases we always fell back on some other
camp of ours; we never stayed where we were. But the rumours always
turned out to be false; so at last even we began to grow indifferent to
them. One night a negro was sent to our corn-crib with the same old
warning: the enemy was hovering in our neighbourhood. We all said let
him hover. We resolved to stay still and be comfortable. It was a fine
warlike resolution, and no doubt we all felt the stir of it in our veins
--for a moment. We had been having a very jolly time, that was full of
horse-play and school-boy hilarity; but that cooled down now, and
presently the fast-waning fire of forced jokes and forced laughs died out
altogether, and the company became silent. Silent and nervous. And soon
uneasy--worried--apprehensive. We had said we would stay, and we were
committed. We could have been persuaded to go, but there was nobody
brave enough to suggest it. An almost noiseless movement presently began
in the dark, by a general and unvoiced impulse. When the movement was
completed, each man knew that he was not the only person who had crept to
the front wall and had his eye at a crack between the logs. No, we were
all there; all there with our hearts in our throats, and staring out
toward the sugar-troughs where the forest foot-path came through. It was
late, and there was a deep woodsy stillness everywhere. There was a
veiled moonlight, which was only just strong enough to enable us to mark
the general shape of objects. Presently a muffled sound caught our ears,
and we recognised it as the hoof-beats of a horse or horses. And right
away a figure appeared in the forest path; it could have been made of
smoke, its mass had so little sharpness of outline. It was a man on
horseback; and it seemed to me that there were others behind him. I got
hold of a gun in the dark, and pushed it through a crack between the
logs, hardly knowing what I was doing, I was so dazed with fright.
Somebody said 'Fire!' I pulled the trigger. I seemed to see a hundred
flashes and hear a hundred reports, then I saw the man fall down out of
the saddle. My first feeling was of surprised gratification; my first
impulse was an apprentice-sportsman's impulse to run and pick up his
game. Somebody said, hardly audibly, 'Good--we've got him!--wait for the
rest.' But the rest did not come. There was not a sound, not the
whisper of a leaf; just perfect stillness; an uncanny kind of stillness,
which was all the more uncanny on account of the damp, earthy, late-night
smells now rising and pervading it. Then, wondering, we crept stealthily
out, and approached the man. When we got to him the moon revealed him
distinctly. He was lying on his back, with his arms abroad; his mouth
was open and his chest heaving with long gasps, and his white shirt-front
was all splashed with blood. The thought shot through me that I was a
murderer; that I had killed a man--a man who had never done me any harm.
That was the coldest sensation that ever went through my marrow. I was
down by him in a moment, helplessly stroking his forehead; and I would
have given anything then--my own life freely--to make him again what he
had been five minutes before. And all the boys seemed to be feeling in
the same way; they hung over him, full of pitying interest, and tried all
they could to help him, and said all sorts of regretful things. They had
forgotten all about the enemy; they thought only of this one forlorn unit
of the foe. Once my imagination persuaded me that the dying man gave me
a reproachful look out of his shadowy eyes, and it seemed to me that I
would rather he had stabbed me than done that. He muttered and mumbled
like a dreamer in his sleep, about his wife and child; and I thought with
a new despair, 'This thing that I have done does not end with him; it
falls upon them too, and they never did me any harm, any more than he.'
In a little while the man was dead. He was killed in war; killed in fair
and legitimate war; killed in battle, as you might say; and yet he was as
sincerely mourned by the opposing force as if he had been their brother.
The boys stood there a half hour sorrowing over him, and recalling the
details of the tragedy, and wondering who he might be, and if he were a
spy, and saying that if it were to do over again they would not hurt him
unless he attacked them first. It soon came out that mine was not the
only shot fired; there were five others--a division of the guilt which
was a grateful relief to me, since it in some degree lightened and
diminished the burden I was carrying. There were six shots fired at
once; but I was not in my right mind at the time, and my heated
imagination had magnified my one shot into a volley.
The man was not in uniform, and was not armed. He was a stranger in the
country; that was all we ever found out about him. The thought of him
got to preying upon me every night; I could not get rid of it. I could
not drive it away, the taking of that unoffending life seemed such a
wanton thing. And it seemed an epitome of war; that all war must be just
that--the killing of strangers against whom you feel no personal
animosity; strangers whom, in other circumstances, you would help if you
found them in trouble, and who would help you if you needed it. My
campaign was spoiled. It seemed to me that I was not rightly equipped
for this awful business; that war was intended for men, and I for a
child's nurse. I resolved to retire from this avocation of sham
soldiership while I could save some remnant of my self-respect. These
morbid thoughts clung to me against reason; for at bottom I did not
believe I had touched that man. The law of probabilities decreed me
guiltless of his blood; for in all my small experience with guns I had
never hit anything I had tried to hit, and I knew I had done my best to
hit him. Yet there was no solace in the thought. Against a diseased
imagination, demonstration goes for nothing.
The rest of my war experience was of a piece with what I have already
told of it. We kept monotonously falling back upon one camp or another,
and eating up the country--I marvel now at the patience of the farmers
and their families. They ought to have shot us; on the contrary, they
were as hospitably kind and courteous to us as if we had deserved it.
In one of these camps we found Ab Grimes, an Upper Mississippi pilot, who
afterwards became famous as a dare-devil rebel spy, whose career bristled
with desperate adventures. The look and style of his comrades suggested
that they had not come into the war to play, and their deeds made good
the conjecture later. They were fine horsemen and good revolver-shots;
but their favourite arm was the lasso. Each had one at his pommel, and
could snatch a man out of the saddle with it every time, on a full
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