Part 5 out of 6
by beggars that he pretends to have seized and eaten one in a
frantic spirit of revenge. There is, of course, no truth in this.
He gives at full length a theatrical program seventeen or eighteen
hundred years old, which he professes to have found in the ruins
of the Coliseum, among the dirt and mold and rubbish. It is a
sufficient comment upon this statement to remark that even a cast-iron
program would not have lasted so long under such circumstances.
In Greece he plainly betrays both fright and flight upon one occasion,
but with frozen effrontery puts the latter in this falsely tamed form:
"We SIDLED toward the Piraeus." "Sidled," indeed! He does not hesitate
to intimate that at Ephesus, when his mule strayed from the proper course,
he got down, took him under his arm, carried him to the road again,
pointed him right, remounted, and went to sleep contentedly till
it was time to restore the beast to the path once more. He states
that a growing youth among his ship's passengers was in the constant
habit of appeasing his hunger with soap and oakum between meals.
In Palestine he tells of ants that came eleven miles to spend
the summer in the desert and brought their provisions with them;
yet he shows by his description of the country that the feat was
an impossibility. He mentions, as if it were the most commonplace
of matters, that he cut a Moslem in two in broad daylight in Jerusalem,
with Godfrey de Bouillon's sword, and would have shed more blood IF
HE HAD HAD A GRAVEYARD OF HIS OWN. These statements are unworthy
a moment's attention. Mr. Twain or any other foreigner who did
such a thing in Jerusalem would be mobbed, and would infallibly
lose his life. But why go on? Why repeat more of his audacious
and exasperating falsehoods? Let us close fittingly with this one:
he affirms that "in the mosque of St. Sophia at Constantinople
I got my feet so stuck up with a complication of gums, slime,
and general impurity, that I wore out more than two thousand
pair of bootjacks getting my boots off that night, and even then
some Christian hide peeled off with them." It is monstrous.
Such statements are simply lies--there is no other name for them.
Will the reader longer marvel at the brutal ignorance that pervades
the American nation when we tell him that we are informed upon perfectly
good authority that this extravagant compilation of falsehoods,
this exhaustless mine of stupendous lies, this INNOCENTS ABROAD,
has actually been adopted by the schools and colleges of several
of the states as a text-book!
But if his falsehoods are distressing, his innocence and his ignorance
are enough to make one burn the book and despise the author. In one
place he was so appalled at the sudden spectacle of a murdered man,
unveiled by the moonlight, that he jumped out of the window,
going through sash and all, and then remarks with the most childlike
simplicity that he "was not scared, but was considerably agitated."
It puts us out of patience to note that the simpleton is densely
unconscious that Lucrezia Borgia ever existed off the stage.
He is vulgarly ignorant of all foreign languages, but is frank enough
to criticize, the Italians' use of their own tongue. He says they
spell the name of their great painter "Vinci, but pronounce it Vinchy"--
and then adds with a na:ivet'e possible only to helpless ignorance,
"foreigners always spell better than they pronounce." In another
place he commits the bald absurdity of putting the phrase "tare
an ouns" into an Italian's mouth. In Rome he unhesitatingly
believes the legend that St. Philip Neri's heart was so inflamed
with divine love that it burst his ribs--believes it wholly
because an author with a learned list of university degrees strung
after his name endorses it--"otherwise," says this gentle idiot,
"I should have felt a curiosity to know what Philip had for dinner."
Our author makes a long, fatiguing journey to the Grotto del Cane
on purpose to test its poisoning powers on a dog--got elaborately
ready for the experiment, and then discovered that he had no dog.
A wiser person would have kept such a thing discreetly to himself,
but with this harmless creature everything comes out. He hurts
his foot in a rut two thousand years old in exhumed Pompeii,
and presently, when staring at one of the cinder-like corpses unearthed
in the next square, conceives the idea that maybe it is the remains
of the ancient Street Commissioner, and straightway his horror softens
down to a sort of chirpy contentment with the condition of things.
In Damascus he visits the well of Ananias, three thousand years old,
and is as surprised and delighted as a child to find that the water
is "as pure and fresh as if the well had been dug yesterday."
In the Holy Land he gags desperately at the hard Arabic and Hebrew
Biblical names, and finally concludes to call them Baldwinsville,
Williamsburgh, and so on, "for convenience of spelling."
We have thus spoken freely of this man's stupefying simplicity
and innocence, but we cannot deal similarly with his colossal ignorance.
We do not know where to begin. And if we knew where to begin,
we certainly would not know where to leave off. We will give
one specimen, and one only. He did not know, until he got to Rome,
that Michael Angelo was dead! And then, instead of crawling away
and hiding his shameful ignorance somewhere, he proceeds to express
a pious, grateful sort of satisfaction that he is gone and out
of his troubles!
No, the reader may seek out the author's exhibition of his
uncultivation for himself. The book is absolutely dangerous,
considering the magnitude and variety of its misstatements,
and the convincing confidence with which they are made.
And yet it is a text-book in the schools of America.
The poor blunderer mouses among the sublime creations of the
Old Masters, trying to acquire the elegant proficiency in
art-knowledge, which he has a groping sort of comprehension is a
proper thing for a traveled man to be able to display. But what is
the manner of his study? And what is the progress he achieves?
To what extent does he familiarize himself with the great pictures
of Italy, and what degree of appreciation does he arrive at? Read:
"When we see a monk going about with a lion and looking up into heaven,
we know that that is St. Mark. When we see a monk with a book and a pen,
looking tranquilly up to heaven, trying to think of a word, we know
that that is St. Matthew. When we see a monk sitting on a rock,
looking tranquilly up to heaven, with a human skull beside him,
and without other baggage, we know that that is St. Jerome.
Because we know that he always went flying light in the matter
of baggage. When we see other monks looking tranquilly up to heaven,
but having no trade-mark, we always ask who those parties are.
We do this because we humbly wish to learn."
He then enumerates the thousands and thousand of copies of these
several pictures which he has seen, and adds with accustomed
simplicity that he feels encouraged to believe that when he has seen
"Some More" of each, and had a larger experience, he will eventually
"begin to take an absorbing interest in them"--the vulgar boor.
That we have shown this to be a remarkable book, we think no one
will deny. That is a pernicious book to place in the hands of the
confiding and uniformed, we think we have also shown. That the book
is a deliberate and wicked creation of a diseased mind, is apparent
upon every page. Having placed our judgment thus upon record,
let us close with what charity we can, by remarking that even in this
volume there is some good to be found; for whenever the author talks
of his own country and lets Europe alone, he never fails to make
himself interesting, and not only interesting but instructive.
No one can read without benefit his occasional chapters and paragraphs,
about life in the gold and silver mines of California and Nevada;
about the Indians of the plains and deserts of the West,
and their cannibalism; about the raising of vegetables in kegs of
gunpowder by the aid of two or three teaspoons of guano; about the
moving of small arms from place to place at night in wheelbarrows
to avoid taxes; and about a sort of cows and mules in the Humboldt
mines, that climb down chimneys and disturb the people at night.
These matters are not only new, but are well worth knowing.
It is a pity the author did not put in more of the same kind.
His book is well written and is exceedingly entertaining, and so it
just barely escaped being quite valuable also.
(One month later)
Latterly I have received several letters, and see a number of
newspaper paragraphs, all upon a certain subject, and all of about
the same tenor. I here give honest specimens. One is from a New
York paper, one is from a letter from an old friend, and one is
from a letter from a New York publisher who is a stranger to me.
I humbly endeavor to make these bits toothsome with the remark that
the article they are praising (which appeared in the December GALAXY,
and PRETENDED to be a criticism from the London SATURDAY REVIEW
on my INNOCENTS ABROAD) WAS WRITTEN BY MYSELF, EVERY LINE OF IT:
The HERALD says the richest thing out is the "serious critique"
in the London SATURDAY REVIEW, on Mark Twain's INNOCENTS ABROAD.
We thought before we read it that it must be "serious," as everybody
said so, and were even ready to shed a few tears; but since perusing it,
we are bound to confess that next to Mark Twain's "Jumping Frog"
it's the finest bit of humor and sarcasm that we've come across in many
(I do not get a compliment like that every day.)
I used to think that your writings were pretty good, but after reading
the criticism in THE GALAXY from the LONDON REVIEW, have discovered
what an ass I must have been. If suggestions are in order, mine is,
that you put that article in your next edition of the INNOCENTS,
as an extra chapter, if you are not afraid to put your own humor
in competition with it. It is as rich a thing as I ever read.
(Which is strong commendation from a book publisher.)
The London Reviewer, my friend, is not the stupid, "serious" creature
he pretends to be, _I_ think; but, on the contrary, has a keep
appreciation and enjoyment of your book. As I read his article in
THE GALAXY, I could imagine him giving vent to many a hearty laugh.
But he is writing for Catholics and Established Church people,
and high-toned, antiquated, conservative gentility, whom it is
a delight to him to help you shock, while he pretends to shake his
head with owlish density. He is a magnificent humorist himself.
(Now that is graceful and handsome. I take off my hat to my life-long
friend and comrade, and with my feet together and my fingers spread
over my heart, I say, in the language of Alabama, "You do me proud.")
I stand guilty of the authorship of the article, but I did not mean
any harm. I saw by an item in the Boston ADVERTISER that a solemn,
serious critique on the English edition of my book had appeared
in the London SATURDAY REVIEW, and the idea of SUCH a literary
breakfast by a stolid, ponderous British ogre of the quill was too
much for a naturally weak virtue, and I went home and burlesqued it--
reveled in it, I may say. I never saw a copy of the real SATURDAY
REVIEW criticism until after my burlesque was written and mailed
to the printer. But when I did get hold of a copy, I found it
to be vulgar, awkwardly written, ill-natured, and entirely serious
and in earnest. The gentleman who wrote the newspaper paragraph
above quoted had not been misled as to its character.
If any man doubts my word now, I will kill him. No, I will not
kill him; I will win his money. I will bet him twenty to one,
and let any New York publisher hold the stakes, that the statements I
have above made as to the authorship of the article in question are
entirely true. Perhaps I may get wealthy at this, for I am willing
to take all the bets that offer; and if a man wants larger odds,
I will give him all he requires. But he ought to find out whether
I am betting on what is termed "a sure thing" or not before he
ventures his money, and he can do that by going to a public
library and examining the London SATURDAY REVIEW of October 8th,
which contains the real critique.
Bless me, some people thought that _I_ was the "sold" person!
P.S.--I cannot resist the temptation to toss in this most savory
thing of all--this easy, graceful, philosophical disquisition,
with his happy, chirping confidence. It is from the Cincinnati ENQUIRER:
Nothing is more uncertain than the value of a fine cigar.
Nine smokers out of ten would prefer an ordinary domestic article,
three for a quarter, to fifty-cent Partaga, if kept in ignorance
of the cost of the latter. The flavor of the Partaga is too delicate
for palates that have been accustomed to Connecticut seed leaf.
So it is with humor. The finer it is in quality, the more danger
of its not being recognized at all. Even Mark Twain has been taken
in by an English review of his INNOCENTS ABROAD. Mark Twain is by
no means a coarse humorist, but the Englishman's humor is so much
finer than his, that he mistakes it for solid earnest, and "lafts
A man who cannot learn stands in his own light. Hereafter, when I
write an article which I know to be good, but which I may have reason
to fear will not, in some quarters, be considered to amount to much,
coming from an American, I will aver that an Englishman wrote it
and that it is copied from a London journal. And then I will occupy
a back seat and enjoy the cordial applause.
Mark Twain at last sees that the SATURDAY REVIEW'S criticism of his
INNOCENTS ABROAD was not serious, and he is intensely mortified at the
thought of having been so badly sold. He takes the only course left him,
and in the last GALAXY claims that HE wrote the criticism himself,
and published it in THE GALAXY to sell the public. This is ingenious,
but unfortunately it is not true. If any of our readers will take
the trouble to call at this office we sill show them the original
article in the SATURDAY REVIEW of October 8th, which, on comparison,
will be found to be identical with the one published in THE GALAXY.
The best thing for Mark to do will be to admit that he was sold,
and say no more about it.
The above is from the Cincinnati ENQUIRER, and is a falsehood.
Come to the proof. If the ENQUIRER people, through any agent,
will produce at THE GALAXY office a London SATURDAY REVIEW
of October 8th, containing an article which, on comparison,
will be found to be identical with the one published in THE GALAXY,
I will pay to that agent five hundred dollars cash. Moreover, if at
any specified time I fail to produce at the same place a copy
of the London SATURDAY REVIEW of October 8th, containing a lengthy
criticism upon the INNOCENTS ABROAD, entirely different, in every
paragraph and sentence, from the one I published in THE GALAXY,
I will pay to the ENQUIRER agent another five hundred dollars cash.
I offer Sheldon & Co., publishers, 500 Broadway, New York,
as my "backers." Any one in New York, authorized by the ENQUIRER,
will receive prompt attention. It is an easy and profitable way
for the ENQUIRER people to prove that they have not uttered a pitiful,
deliberate falsehood in the above paragraphs. Will they swallow
that falsehood ignominiously, or will they send an agent to THE
GALAXY office. I think the Cincinnati ENQUIRER must be edited
A LETTER TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
Riverdale-on-the-Hudson, OCTOBER 15, 1902.
THE HON. THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, WASHINGTON, D. C.:
Sir,--Prices for the customary kinds of winter fuel having reached
an altitude which puts them out of the reach of literary persons in
straitened circumstances, I desire to place with you the following order:
Forty-five tons best old dry government bonds, suitable for furnace,
gold 7 per cents., 1864, preferred.
Twelve tons early greenbacks, range size, suitable for cooking.
Eight barrels seasoned 25 and 50 cent postal currency, vintage of 1866,
eligible for kindlings.
Please deliver with all convenient despatch at my house in Riverdale
at lowest rates for spot cash, and send bill to
Your obliged servant,
Mark Twain, Who will be very grateful, and will vote right.
TO THE EDITOR:
Sir,--I am approaching seventy; it is in sight; it is only three
years away. Necessarily, I must go soon. It is but matter-of-course
wisdom, then, that I should begin to set my worldly house in
order now, so that it may be done calmly and with thoroughness,
in place of waiting until the last day, when, as we have often seen,
the attempt to set both houses in order at the same time has been
marred by the necessity for haste and by the confusion and waste
of time arising from the inability of the notary and the ecclesiastic
to work together harmoniously, taking turn about and giving each
other friendly assistance--not perhaps in fielding, which could
hardly be expected, but at least in the minor offices of keeping
game and umpiring; by consequence of which conflict of interests
and absence of harmonious action a draw has frequently resulted
where this ill-fortune could not have happened if the houses had been
set in order one at a time and hurry avoided by beginning in season,
and giving to each the amount of time fairly and justly proper to it.
In setting my earthly house in order I find it of moment that I
should attend in person to one or two matters which men in my
position have long had the habit of leaving wholly to others,
with consequences often most regrettable. I wish to speak of only
one of these matters at this time: Obituaries. Of necessity,
an Obituary is a thing which cannot be so judiciously edited by any hand
as by that of the subject of it. In such a work it is not the Facts
that are of chief importance, but the light which the obituarist
shall throw upon them, the meaning which he shall dress them in,
the conclusions which he shall draw from them, and the judgments
which he shall deliver upon them. The Verdicts, you understand:
that is the danger-line.
In considering this matter, in view of my approaching change,
it has seemed to me wise to take such measures as may be feasible,
to acquire, by courtesy of the press, access to my standing obituaries,
with the privilege--if this is not asking too much--of editing,
not their Facts, but their Verdicts. This, not for the present profit,
further than as concerns my family, but as a favorable influence
usable on the Other Side, where there are some who are not friendly
With this explanation of my motives, I will now ask you of your
courtesy to make an appeal for me to the public press. It is my
desire that such journals and periodicals as have obituaries of me
lying in their pigeonholes, with a view to sudden use some day,
will not wait longer, but will publish them now, and kindly send
me a marked copy. My address is simply New York City--I have no
other that is permanent and not transient.
I will correct them--not the Facts, but the Verdicts--striking out
such clauses as could have a deleterious influence on the Other Side,
and replacing them with clauses of a more judicious character.
I should, of course, expect to pay double rates for both the omissions
and the substitutions; and I should also expect to pay quadruple
rates for all obituaries which proved to be rightly and wisely worded
in the originals, thus requiring no emendations at all.
It is my desire to leave these Amended Obituaries neatly bound
behind me as a perennial consolation and entertainment to my family,
and as an heirloom which shall have a mournful but definite
commercial value for my remote posterity.
I beg, sir, that you will insert this Advertisement (1t-eow, agate,
inside), and send the bill to
Yours very respectfully.
P.S.--For the best Obituary--one suitable for me to read in public,
and calculated to inspire regret--I desire to offer a Prize,
consisting of a Portrait of me done entirely by myself in pen and ink
without previous instructions. The ink warranted to be the kind
used by the very best artists.
A MONUMENT TO ADAM
Some one has revealed to the TRIBUNE that I once suggested
to Rev. Thomas K. Beecher, of Elmira, New York, that we get up
a monument to Adam, and that Mr. Beecher favored the project.
There is more to it than that. The matter started as a joke,
but it came somewhat near to materializing.
It is long ago--thirty years. Mr. Darwin's DESCENT OF MAN has been
in print five or six years, and the storm of indignation raised
by it was still raging in pulpits and periodicals. In tracing
the genesis of the human race back to its sources, Mr. Darwin had
left Adam out altogether. We had monkeys, and "missing links,"
and plenty of other kinds of ancestors, but no Adam. Jesting with
Mr. Beecher and other friends in Elmira, I said there seemed to be
a likelihood that the world would discard Adam and accept the monkey,
and that in the course of time Adam's very name would be forgotten
in the earth; therefore this calamity ought to be averted;
a monument would accomplish this, and Elmira ought not to waste
this honorable opportunity to do Adam a favor and herself a credit.
Then the unexpected happened. Two bankers came forward and took
hold of the matter--not for fun, not for sentiment, but because they
saw in the monument certain commercial advantages for the town.
The project had seemed gently humorous before--it was more than
that now, with this stern business gravity injected into it.
The bankers discussed the monument with me. We met several times.
They proposed an indestructible memorial, to cost twenty-five
thousand dollars. The insane oddity of a monument set up in a village
to preserve a name that would outlast the hills and the rocks without
any such help, would advertise Elmira to the ends of the earth--
and draw custom. It would be the only monument on the planet
to Adam, and in the matter of interest and impressiveness could
never have a rival until somebody should set up a monument to the
People would come from every corner of the globe and stop off
to look at it, no tour of the world would be complete that left out
Adam's monument. Elmira would be a Mecca; there would be pilgrim
ships at pilgrim rates, pilgrim specials on the continent's railways;
libraries would be written about the monument, every tourist would
kodak it, models of it would be for sale everywhere in the earth,
its form would become as familiar as the figure of Napoleon.
One of the bankers subscribed five thousand dollars, and I think
the other one subscribed half as much, but I do not remember with
certainty now whether that was the figure or not. We got designs made--
some of them came from Paris.
In the beginning--as a detail of the project when it was yet a joke--
I had framed a humble and beseeching and perfervid petition to
Congress begging the government to built the monument, as a testimony
of the Great Republic's gratitude to the Father of the Human Race
and as a token of her loyalty to him in this dark day of humiliation
when his older children were doubting and deserting him. It seemed
to me that this petition ought to be presented, now--it would be
widely and feelingly abused and ridiculed and cursed, and would
advertise our scheme and make our ground-floor stock go off briskly.
So I sent it to General Joseph R. Hawley, who was then in the House,
and he said he would present it. But he did not do it. I think
he explained that when he came to read it he was afraid of it:
it was too serious, to gushy, too sentimental--the House might take it
We ought to have carried out our monument scheme; we could
have managed it without any great difficulty, and Elmira would
now be the most celebrated town in the universe.
Very recently I began to build a book in which one of the minor
characters touches incidentally upon a project for a monument to Adam,
and now the TRIBUNE has come upon a trace of the forgotten jest of
thirty years ago. Apparently mental telegraphy is still in business.
It is odd; but the freaks of mental telegraphy are usually odd.
A HUMANE WORD FROM SATAN
[The following letter, signed by Satan and purporting to come from him,
we have reason to believe was not written by him, but by Mark Twain.--
TO THE EDITOR OF HARPER'S WEEKLY:
Dear Sir and Kinsman,--Let us have done with this frivolous talk.
The American Board accepts contributions from me every year:
then why shouldn't it from Mr. Rockefeller? In all the ages,
three-fourths of the support of the great charities has been
conscience-money, as my books will show: then what becomes of
the sting when that term is applied to Mr. Rockefeller's gift?
The American Board's trade is financed mainly from the graveyards.
Bequests, you understand. Conscience-money. Confession of an old
crime and deliberate perpetration of a new one; for deceased's
contribution is a robbery of his heirs. Shall the Board decline
bequests because they stand for one of these offenses every time and
generally for both?
Allow me to continue. The charge must persistently and resentfully
and remorselessly dwelt upon is that Mr. Rockefeller's contribution is
incurably tainted by perjury--perjury proved against him in the courts.
IT MAKES US SMILE--down in my place! Because there isn't a rich
man in your vast city who doesn't perjure himself every year before
the tax board. They are all caked with perjury, many layers thick.
Iron-clad, so to speak. If there is one that isn't, I desire
to acquire him for my museum, and will pay Dinosaur rates.
Will you say it isn't infraction of the law, but only annual evasion
of it? Comfort yourselves with that nice distinction if you like--
FOR THE PRESENT. But by and by, when you arrive, I will show you
something interesting: a whole hell-full of evaders! Sometimes a
frank law-breaker turns up elsewhere, but I get those others every time.
To return to my muttons. I wish you to remember that my rich
perjurers are contributing to the American Board with frequency:
it is money filched from the sworn-off personal tax; therefore it
is the wages of sin; therefore it is my money; therefore it is _I_
that contribute it; and, finally, it is therefore as I have said:
since the Board daily accepts contributions from me, why should it
decline them from Mr. Rockefeller, who is as good as I am, let the
courts say what they may?
INTRODUCTION TO "THE NEW GUIDE OF THE CONVERSATION IN
PORTUGUESE AND ENGLISH"
by Pedro Carolino
In this world of uncertainties, there is, at any rate, one thing
which may be pretty confidently set down as a certainty: and that is,
that this celebrated little phrase-book will never die while the
English language lasts. Its delicious unconscious ridiculousness,
and its enchanting na:ivet'e, as are supreme and unapproachable,
in their way, as are Shakespeare's sublimities. Whatsoever is
perfect in its kind, in literature, is imperishable: nobody can
imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow;
it is perfect, it must and will stand alone: its immortality
It is one of the smallest books in the world, but few big books have
received such wide attention, and been so much pondered by the grave
and learned, and so much discussed and written about by the thoughtful,
the thoughtless, the wise, and the foolish. Long notices of it
have appeared, from time to time, in the great English reviews,
and in erudite and authoritative philological periodicals; and it
has been laughed at, danced upon, and tossed in a blanket by nearly
every newspaper and magazine in the English-speaking world.
Every scribbler, almost, has had his little fling at it, at one time
or another; I had mine fifteen years ago. The book gets out of print,
every now and then, and one ceases to hear of it for a season;
but presently the nations and near and far colonies of our tongue
and lineage call for it once more, and once more it issues from some
London or Continental or American press, and runs a new course around
the globe, wafted on its way by the wind of a world's laughter.
Many persons have believed that this book's miraculous stupidities
were studied and disingenuous; but no one can read the volume
carefully through and keep that opinion. It was written in
serious good faith and deep earnestness, by an honest and upright
idiot who believed he knew something of the English language,
and could impart his knowledge to others. The amplest proof
of this crops out somewhere or other upon each and every page.
There are sentences in the book which could have been manufactured
by a man in his right mind, and with an intelligent and deliberate
purposes to seem innocently ignorant; but there are other sentences,
and paragraphs, which no mere pretended ignorance could ever achieve--
nor yet even the most genuine and comprehensive ignorance,
when unbacked by inspiration.
It is not a fraud who speaks in the following paragraph of the
author's Preface, but a good man, an honest man, a man whose conscience
is at rest, a man who believes he has done a high and worthy work for
his nation and his generation, and is well pleased with his performance:
We expect then, who the little book (for the care what we wrote him,
and for her typographical correction) that may be worth the
acceptation of the studious persons, and especially of the Youth,
at which we dedicate him particularly.
One cannot open this book anywhere and not find richness.
To prove that this is true, I will open it at random and copy
the page I happen to stumble upon. Here is the result:
For To See the Town
Anothony, go to accompany they gentilsmen, do they see the town.
We won't to see all that is it remarquable here.
Come with me, if you please. I shall not folget nothing what can
to merit your attention. Here we are near to cathedral; will you
come in there?
We will first to see him in oudside, after we shall go in there
for to look the interior.
Admire this master piece gothic architecture's.
The chasing of all they figures is astonishing' indeed.
The cupola and the nave are not less curious to see.
What is this palace how I see yonder?
It is the town hall.
And this tower here at this side?
It is the Observatory.
The bridge is very fine, it have ten arches, and is constructed
of free stone.
The streets are very layed out by line and too paved.
What is the circuit of this town?
There is it also hospitals here?
It not fail them.
What are then the edifices the worthest to have seen?
It is the arsnehal, the spectacle's hall, the Cusiomhouse,
and the Purse.
We are going too see the others monuments such that the public
pawnbroker's office, the plants garden's, the money office's,
That it shall be for another day; we are tired.
To Inform One'self of a Person
How is that gentilman who you did speak by and by?
Is a German.
I did think him Englishman.
He is of the Saxony side.
He speak the french very well.
Tough he is German, he speak so much well italyan, french, spanish
and english, that among the Italyans, they believe him Italyan,
he speak the frenche as the Frenches himselves. The Spanishesmen
believe him Spanishing, and the Englishes, Englishman. It is
difficult to enjoy well so much several languages.
The last remark contains a general truth; but it ceases to be a truth
when one contracts it and apples it to an individual--provided that
that individual is the author of this book, Sehnor Pedro Carolino.
I am sure I should not find it difficult "to enjoy well so much
several languages"--or even a thousand of them--if he did the
translating for me from the originals into his ostensible English.
ADVICE TO LITTLE GIRLS
Good little girls ought not to make mouths at their teachers for
every trifling offense. This retaliation should only be resorted
to under peculiarly aggravated circumstances.
If you have nothing but a rag-doll stuffed with sawdust, while one
of your more fortunate little playmates has a costly China one,
you should treat her with a show of kindness nevertheless.
And you ought not to attempt to make a forcible swap with her unless
your conscience would justify you in it, and you know you are able
to do it.
You ought never to take your little brother's "chewing-gum" away
from him by main force; it is better to rope him in with the promise
of the first two dollars and a half you find floating down the
river on a grindstone. In the artless simplicity natural to this
time of life, he will regard it as a perfectly fair transaction.
In all ages of the world this eminently plausible fiction has lured
the obtuse infant to financial ruin and disaster.
If at any time you find it necessary to correct your brother,
do not correct him with mud--never, on any account, throw mud at him,
because it will spoil his clothes. It is better to scald him a little,
for then you obtain desirable results. You secure his immediate
attention to the lessons you are inculcating, and at the same time
your hot water will have a tendency to move impurities from his person,
and possibly the skin, in spots.
If your mother tells you to do a thing, it is wrong to reply
that you won't. It is better and more becoming to intimate
that you will do as she bids you, and then afterward act quietly
in the matter according to the dictates of your best judgment.
You should ever bear in mind that it is to your kind parents that you
are indebted for your food, and for the privilege of staying home
from school when you let on that you are sick. Therefore you ought
to respect their little prejudices, and humor their little whims,
and put up with their little foibles until they get to crowding you
Good little girls always show marked deference for the aged.
You ought never to "sass" old people unless they "sass" you first.
POST-MORTEM POETRY 
In Philadelphia they have a custom which it would be pleasant
to see adopted throughout the land. It is that of appending to
published death-notices a little verse or two of comforting poetry.
Any one who is in the habit of reading the daily Philadelphia
LEDGER must frequently be touched by these plaintive tributes
to extinguished worth. In Philadelphia, the departure of a child
is a circumstance which is not more surely followed by a burial
than by the accustomed solacing poesy in the PUBLIC LEDGER.
In that city death loses half its terror because the knowledge
of its presence comes thus disguised in the sweet drapery of verse.
For instance, in a late LEDGER I find the following (I change
Hawks.--On the 17th inst., Clara, the daughter of Ephraim
and Laura Hawks, aged 21 months and 2 days.
That merry shout no more I hear,
No laughing child I see,
No little arms are around my neck,
No feet upon my knee;
No kisses drop upon my cheek,
These lips are sealed to me.
Dear Lord, how could I give Clara up
To any but to Thee?
A child thus mourned could not die wholly discontented.
From the LEDGER of the same date I make the following extract,
merely changing the surname, as before:
Becket.--On Sunday morning, 19th inst., John P., infant son
of George and Julia Becket, aged 1 year, 6 months, and 15 days.
That merry shout no more I hear,
No laughing child I see,
No little arms are round my neck,
No feet upon my knee;
No kisses drop upon my cheek;
These lips are sealed to me.
Dear Lord, how could I give Johnnie up
To any but to Thee?
The similarity of the emotions as produced in the mourners in these
two instances is remarkably evidenced by the singular similarity
of thought which they experienced, and the surprising coincidence
of language used by them to give it expression.
In the same journal, of the same date, I find the following
(surname suppressed, as before):
Wagner.--On the 10th inst., Ferguson G., the son of William
L. and Martha Theresa Wagner, aged 4 weeks and 1 day.
That merry shout no more I hear,
No laughing child I see,
No little arms are round my neck,
No feet upon my knee;
No kisses drop upon my cheek,
These lips are sealed to me.
Dear Lord, how could I give Ferguson up
To any but to Thee?
It is strange what power the reiteration of an essentially poetical
thought has upon one's feelings. When we take up the LEDGER
and read the poetry about little Clara, we feel an unaccountable
depression of the spirits. When we drift further down the column
and read the poetry about little Johnnie, the depression and spirits
acquires and added emphasis, and we experience tangible suffering.
When we saunter along down the column further still and read
the poetry about little Ferguson, the word torture but vaguely
suggests the anguish that rends us.
In the LEDGER (same copy referred to above) I find the following
(I alter surname, as usual):
Welch.--On the 5th inst., Mary C. Welch, wife of William B. Welch,
and daughter of Catharine and George W. Markland, in the 29th year
of her age.
A mother dear, a mother kind,
Has gone and left us all behind.
Cease to weep, for tears are vain,
Mother dear is out of pain.
Farewell, husband, children dear,
Serve thy God with filial fear,
And meet me in the land above,
Where all is peace, and joy, and love.
What could be sweeter than that? No collection of salient facts
(without reduction to tabular form) could be more succinctly stated
than is done in the first stanza by the surviving relatives,
and no more concise and comprehensive program of farewells,
post-mortuary general orders, etc., could be framed in any
form than is done in verse by deceased in the last stanza.
These things insensibly make us wiser and tenderer, and better.
Ball.--On the morning of the 15th inst., Mary E., daughter of John
and Sarah F. Ball.
'Tis sweet to rest in lively hope
That when my change shall come
Angels will hover round my bed,
To waft my spirit home.
The following is apparently the customary form for heads of families:
Burns.--On the 20th inst., Michael Burns, aged 40 years.
Dearest father, thou hast left us,
Hear thy loss we deeply feel;
But 'tis God that has bereft us,
He can all our sorrows heal.
Funeral at 2 o'clock sharp.
There is something very simple and pleasant about the following,
which, in Philadelphia, seems to be the usual form for consumptives
of long standing. (It deplores four distinct cases in the single
copy of the LEDGER which lies on the Memoranda editorial table):
Bromley.--On the 29th inst., of consumption, Philip Bromley,
in the 50th year of his age.
Affliction sore long time he bore,
Physicians were in vain--
Till God at last did hear him mourn,
And eased him of his pain.
That friend whom death from us has torn,
We did not think so soon to part;
An anxious care now sinks the thorn
Still deeper in our bleeding heart.
This beautiful creation loses nothing by repetition. On the contrary,
the oftener one sees it in the LEDGER, the more grand and awe-inspiring
With one more extract I will close:
Doble.--On the 4th inst., Samuel Pervil Worthington Doble,
aged 4 days.
Our little Sammy's gone,
His tiny spirit's fled;
Our little boy we loved so dear
Lies sleeping with the dead.
A tear within a father's eye,
A mother's aching heart,
Can only tell the agony
How hard it is to part.
Could anything be more plaintive than that, without requiring further
concessions of grammar? Could anything be likely to do more toward
reconciling deceased to circumstances, and making him willing to go?
Perhaps not. The power of song can hardly be estimated. There is
an element about some poetry which is able to make even physical
suffering and death cheerful things to contemplate and consummations
to be desired. This element is present in the mortuary poetry
of Philadelphia degree of development.
The custom I have been treating of is one that should be adopted
in all the cities of the land.
It is said that once a man of small consequence died, and the
Rev. T. K. Beecher was asked to preach the funeral sermon--
a man who abhors the lauding of people, either dead or alive,
except in dignified and simple language, and then only for merits
which they actually possessed or possess, not merits which they
merely ought to have possessed. The friends of the deceased got
up a stately funeral. They must have had misgivings that the
corpse might not be praised strongly enough, for they prepared
some manuscript headings and notes in which nothing was left
unsaid on that subject that a fervid imagination and an unabridged
dictionary could compile, and these they handed to the minister
as he entered the pulpit. They were merely intended as suggestions,
and so the friends were filled with consternation when the minister
stood in the pulpit and proceeded to read off the curious odds
and ends in ghastly detail and in a loud voice! And their
consternation solidified to petrification when he paused at the end,
contemplated the multitude reflectively, and then said, impressively:
"The man would be a fool who tried to add anything to that.
Let us pray!"
And with the same strict adhesion to truth it can be said that the
man would be a fool who tried to add anything to the following
transcendent obituary poem. There is something so innocent,
so guileless, so complacent, so unearthly serene and self-satisfied
about this peerless "hog-wash," that the man must be made of stone
who can read it without a dulcet ecstasy creeping along his backbone
and quivering in his marrow. There is no need to say that this
poem is genuine and in earnest, for its proofs are written all
over its face. An ingenious scribbler might imitate it after
a fashion, but Shakespeare himself could not counterfeit it.
It is noticeable that the country editor who published it did
not know that it was a treasure and the most perfect thing of its
kind that the storehouses and museums of literature could show.
He did not dare to say no to the dread poet--for such a poet
must have been something of an apparition--but he just shoveled
it into his paper anywhere that came handy, and felt ashamed,
and put that disgusted "Published by Request" over it, and hoped
that his subscribers would overlook it or not feel an impulse to read it:
(Published by Request
Composed on the death of Samuel and Catharine Belknap's children
by M. A. Glaze
Friends and neighbors all draw near,
And listen to what I have to say;
And never leave your children dear
When they are small, and go away.
But always think of that sad fate,
That happened in year of '63;
Four children with a house did burn,
Think of their awful agony.
Their mother she had gone away,
And left them there alone to stay;
The house took fire and down did burn;
Before their mother did return.
Their piteous cry the neighbors heard,
And then the cry of fire was given;
But, ah! before they could them reach,
Their little spirits had flown to heaven.
Their father he to war had gone,
And on the battle-field was slain;
But little did he think when he went away,
But what on earth they would meet again.
The neighbors often told his wife
Not to leave his children there,
Unless she got some one to stay,
And of the little ones take care.
The oldest he was years not six,
And the youngest only eleven months old,
But often she had left them there alone,
As, by the neighbors, I have been told.
How can she bear to see the place.
Where she so oft has left them there,
Without a single one to look to them,
Or of the little ones to take good care.
Oh, can she look upon the spot,
Whereunder their little burnt bones lay,
But what she thinks she hears them say,
''Twas God had pity, and took us on high.'
And there may she kneel down and pray,
And ask God her to forgive;
And she may lead a different life
While she on earth remains to live.
Her husband and her children too,
God has took from pain and woe.
May she reform and mend her ways,
That she may also to them go.
And when it is God's holy will,
O, may she be prepared
To meet her God and friends in peace,
And leave this world of care.
- - -
1. Written in 1870.
THE DANGER OF LYING IN BED
The man in the ticket-office said:
"Have an accident insurance ticket, also?"
"No," I said, after studying the matter over a little. "No, I
believe not; I am going to be traveling by rail all day today.
However, tomorrow I don't travel. Give me one for tomorrow."
The man looked puzzled. He said:
"But it is for accident insurance, and if you are going to travel
"If I am going to travel by rail I sha'n't need it. Lying at home
in bed is the thing _I_ am afraid of."
I had been looking into this matter. Last year I traveled twenty
thousand miles, almost entirely by rail; the year before, I traveled
over twenty-five thousand miles, half by sea and half by rail;
and the year before that I traveled in the neighborhood of ten
thousand miles, exclusively by rail. I suppose if I put in all
the little odd journeys here and there, I may say I have traveled
sixty thousand miles during the three years I have mentioned.
AND NEVER AN ACCIDENT.
For a good while I said to myself every morning: "Now I
have escaped thus far, and so the chances are just that much
increased that I shall catch it this time. I will be shrewd,
and buy an accident ticket." And to a dead moral certainty I
drew a blank, and went to bed that night without a joint started
or a bone splintered. I got tired of that sort of daily bother,
and fell to buying accident tickets that were good for a month.
I said to myself, "A man CAN'T buy thirty blanks in one bundle."
But I was mistaken. There was never a prize in the the lot.
I could read of railway accidents every day--the newspaper
atmosphere was foggy with them; but somehow they never came my way.
I found I had spent a good deal of money in the accident business,
and had nothing to show for it. My suspicions were aroused, and I
began to hunt around for somebody that had won in this lottery.
I found plenty of people who had invested, but not an individual
that had ever had an accident or made a cent. I stopped buying
accident tickets and went to ciphering. The result was astounding.
THE PERIL LAY NOT IN TRAVELING, BUT IN STAYING AT HOME.
I hunted up statistics, and was amazed to find that after all
the glaring newspaper headlines concerning railroad disasters,
less than THREE HUNDRED people had really lost their lives by those
disasters in the preceding twelve months. The Erie road was set
down as the most murderous in the list. It had killed forty-six--
or twenty-six, I do not exactly remember which, but I know the
number was double that of any other road. But the fact straightway
suggested itself that the Erie was an immensely long road, and did
more business than any other line in the country; so the double
number of killed ceased to be matter for surprise.
By further figuring, it appeared that between New York and Rochester
the Erie ran eight passenger-trains each way every day--16 altogether;
and carried a daily average of 6,000 persons. That is about a million
in six months--the population of New York City. Well, the Erie kills
from 13 to 23 persons of ITS million in six months; and in the same
time 13,000 of New York's million die in their beds! My flesh crept,
my hair stood on end. "This is appalling!" I said. "The danger
isn't in traveling by rail, but in trusting to those deadly beds.
I will never sleep in a bed again."
I had figured on considerably less than one-half the length of
the Erie road. It was plain that the entire road must transport
at least eleven or twelve thousand people every day. There are
many short roads running out of Boston that do fully half as much;
a great many such roads. There are many roads scattered about the
Union that do a prodigious passenger business. Therefore it was fair
to presume that an average of 2,500 passengers a day for each road
in the country would be almost correct. There are 846 railway
lines in our country, and 846 times 2,500 are 2,115,000. So the
railways of America move more than two millions of people every day;
six hundred and fifty millions of people a year, without counting
the Sundays. They do that, too--there is no question about it;
though where they get the raw material is clear beyond the jurisdiction
of my arithmetic; for I have hunted the census through and through,
and I find that there are not that many people in the United States,
by a matter of six hundred and ten millions at the very least.
They must use some of the same people over again, likely.
San Francisco is one-eighth as populous as New York; there are 60
deaths a week in the former and 500 a week in the latter--if they
have luck. That is 3,120 deaths a year in San Francisco, and eight
times as many in New York--say about 25,000 or 26,000. The health
of the two places is the same. So we will let it stand as a fair
presumption that this will hold good all over the country, and that
consequently 25,000 out of every million of people we have must die
every year. That amounts to one-fortieth of our total population.
One million of us, then, die annually. Out of this million ten
or twelve thousand are stabbed, shot, drowned, hanged, poisoned,
or meet a similarly violent death in some other popular way,
such as perishing by kerosene-lamp and hoop-skirt conflagrations,
getting buried in coal-mines, falling off house-tops, breaking
through church, or lecture-room floors, taking patent medicines,
or committing suicide in other forms. The Erie railroad kills 23 to 46;
the other 845 railroads kill an average of one-third of a man each;
and the rest of that million, amounting in the aggregate to that
appalling figure of 987,631 corpses, die naturally in their beds!
You will excuse me from taking any more chances on those beds.
The railroads are good enough for me.
And my advice to all people is, Don't stay at home any more than
you can help; but when you have GOT to stay at home a while,
buy a package of those insurance tickets and sit up nights.
You cannot be too cautious.
[One can see now why I answered that ticket-agent in the manner
recorded at the top of this sketch.]
The moral of this composition is, that thoughtless people grumble
more than is fair about railroad management in the United States.
When we consider that every day and night of the year full fourteen
thousand railway-trains of various kinds, freighted with life
and armed with death, go thundering over the land, the marvel is,
NOT that they kill three hundred human beings in a twelvemonth,
but that they do not kill three hundred times three hundred!
PORTRAIT OF KING WILLIAM III
I never can look at those periodical portraits in THE GALAXY magazine
without feeling a wild, tempestuous ambition to be an artist.
I have seen thousands and thousands of pictures in my time--
acres of them here and leagues of them in the galleries of Europe--
but never any that moved me as these portraits do.
There is a portrait of Monsignore Capel in the November number,
now COULD anything be sweeter than that? And there was Bismarck's,
in the October number; who can look at that without being purer
and stronger and nobler for it? And Thurlow and Weed's picture
in the September number; I would not have died without seeing that,
no, not for anything this world can give. But look back still
further and recall my own likeness as printed in the August number;
if I had been in my grave a thousand years when that appeared,
I would have got up and visited the artist.
I sleep with all these portraits under my pillow every night, so that I
can go on studying them as soon as the day dawns in the morning.
I know them all as thoroughly as if I had made them myself; I know
every line and mark about them. Sometimes when company are present
I shuffle the portraits all up together, and then pick them out
one by one and call their names, without referring to the printing
on the bottom. I seldom make a mistake--never, when I am calm.
I have had the portraits framed for a long time, waiting till
my aunt gets everything ready for hanging them up in the parlor.
But first one thing and then another interferes, and so the thing
is delayed. Once she said they would have more of the peculiar kind
of light they needed in the attic. The old simpleton! it is as dark
as a tomb up there. But she does not know anything about art,
and so she has no reverence for it. When I showed her my "Map of
the Fortifications of Paris," she said it was rubbish.
Well, from nursing those portraits so long, I have come at last
to have a perfect infatuation for art. I have a teacher now,
and my enthusiasm continually and tumultuously grows, as I learn
to use with more and more facility the pencil, brush, and graver.
I am studying under De Mellville, the house and portrait painter.
[His name was Smith when he lived in the West.] He does any kind
of artist work a body wants, having a genius that is universal,
like Michael Angelo. Resembles that great artist, in fact.
The back of his head is like this, and he wears his hat-brim tilted
down on his nose to expose it.
I have been studying under De Mellville several months now.
The first month I painted fences, and gave general satisfaction.
The next month I white-washed a barn. The third, I was doing
tin roofs; the forth, common signs; the fifth, statuary to stand
before cigar shops. This present month is only the sixth, and I am
already in portraits!
The humble offering which accompanies these remarks [see figure]--
the portrait of his Majesty William III., King of Prussia--
is my fifth attempt in portraits, and my greatest success.
It has received unbounded praise from all classes of the community,
but that which gratifies me most is the frequent and cordial verdict
that it resembles the GALAXY portraits. Those were my first love,
my earliest admiration, the original source and incentive of my
art-ambition. Whatever I am in Art today, I owe to these portraits.
I ask no credit for myself--I deserve none. And I never take any,
either. Many a stranger has come to my exhibition (for I have had my
portrait of King William on exhibition at one dollar a ticket), and
would have gone away blessing ME, if I had let him, but I never did.
I always stated where I got the idea.
King William wears large bushy side-whiskers, and some critics have
thought that this portrait would be more complete if they were added.
But it was not possible. There was not room for side-whiskers and
epaulets both, and so I let the whiskers go, and put in the epaulets,
for the sake of style. That thing on his hat is an eagle.
The Prussian eagle--it is a national emblem. When I say hat I
mean helmet; but it seems impossible to make a picture of a helmet
that a body can have confidence in.
I wish kind friends everywhere would aid me in my endeavor to attract
a little attention to the GALAXY portraits. I feel persuaded it can
be accomplished, if the course to be pursued be chosen with judgment.
I write for that magazine all the time, and so do many abler men,
and if I can get these portraits into universal favor, it is all I ask;
the reading-matter will take care of itself.
COMMENDATIONS OF THE PORTRAIT
There is nothing like it in the Vatican. Pius IX.
It has none of that vagueness, that dreamy spirituality about it,
which many of the first critics of Arkansas have objected to in the
Murillo school of Art. Ruskin.
The expression is very interesting. J.W. Titian.
(Keeps a macaroni store in Venice, at the old family stand.)
It is the neatest thing in still life I have seen for years.
The smile may be almost called unique. Bismarck.
I never saw such character portrayed in a picture face before.
There is a benignant simplicity about the execution of this
work which warms the heart toward it as much, full as much,
as it fascinates the eye. Landseer.
One cannot see it without longing to contemplate the artist.
Send me the entire edition--together with the plate and the
original portrait--and name your own price. And--would you
like to come over and stay awhile with Napoleon at Wilhelmsh:ohe?
It shall not cost you a cent. William III.
DOES THE RACE OF MAN LOVE A LORD?
Often a quite assified remark becomes sanctified by use and
petrified by custom; it is then a permanency, its term of activity
a geologic period.
The day after the arrival of Prince Henry I met an English friend,
and he rubbed his hands and broke out with a remark that was charged
to the brim with joy--joy that was evidently a pleasant salve
to an old sore place:
"Many a time I've had to listen without retort to an old saying
that is irritatingly true, and until now seemed to offer no chance
for a return jibe: 'An Englishman does dearly love a lord';
but after this I shall talk back, and say, 'How about the Americans?'"
It is a curious thing, the currency that an idiotic saying can get.
The man that first says it thinks he has made a discovery.
The man he says it to, thinks the same. It departs on its travels,
is received everywhere with admiring acceptance, and not only as
a piece of rare and acute observation, but as being exhaustively
true and profoundly wise; and so it presently takes its place
in the world's list of recognized and established wisdoms,
and after that no one thinks of examining it to see whether it is
really entitled to its high honors or not. I call to mind instances
of this in two well-established proverbs, whose dullness is not
surpassed by the one about the Englishman and his love for a lord:
one of them records the American's Adoration of the Almighty Dollar,
the other the American millionaire-girl's ambition to trade cash for
a title, with a husband thrown in.
It isn't merely the American that adores the Almighty Dollar,
it is the human race. The human race has always adored the hatful
of shells, or the bale of calico, or the half-bushel of brass rings,
or the handful of steel fish-hooks, or the houseful of black wives,
or the zareba full of cattle, or the two-score camels and asses,
or the factory, or the farm, or the block of buildings, or the
railroad bonds, or the bank stock, or the hoarded cash, or--
anything that stands for wealth and consideration and independence,
and can secure to the possessor that most precious of all things,
another man's envy. It was a dull person that invented the idea
that the American's devotion to the dollar is more strenuous than
Rich American girls do buy titles, but they did not invent that idea;
it had been worn threadbare several hundred centuries before America
was discovered. European girls still exploit it as briskly as ever;
and, when a title is not to be had for the money in hand, they buy
the husband without it. They must put up the "dot," or there is
no trade. The commercialization of brides is substantially universal,
except in America. It exists with us, to some little extent,
but in no degree approaching a custom.
"The Englishman dearly loves a lord."
What is the soul and source of this love? I think the thing could
be more correctly worded:
"The human race dearly envies a lord."
That is to say, it envies the lord's place. Why? On two accounts,
I think: its Power and its Conspicuousness.
Where Conspicuousness carries with it a Power which, by the light
of our own observation and experience, we are able to measure
and comprehend, I think our envy of the possessor is as deep and as
passionate as is that of any other nation. No one can care less
for a lord than the backwoodsman, who has had no personal contact
with lords and has seldom heard them spoken of; but I will not
allow that any Englishman has a profounder envy of a lord than has
the average American who has lived long years in a European capital
and fully learned how immense is the position the lord occupies.
Of any ten thousand Americans who eagerly gather, at vast inconvenience,
to get a glimpse of Prince Henry, all but a couple of hundred
will be there out of an immense curiosity; they are burning up
with desire to see a personage who is so much talked about.
They envy him; but it is Conspicuousness they envy mainly, not the
Power that is lodged in his royal quality and position, for they
have but a vague and spectral knowledge and appreciation of that;
though their environment and associations they have been accustomed
to regard such things lightly, and as not being very real; consequently,
they are not able to value them enough to consumingly envy them.
But, whenever an American (or other human being) is in the presence,
for the first time, of a combination of great Power and Conspicuousness
which he thoroughly understands and appreciates, his eager curiosity
and pleasure will be well-sodden with that other passion--envy--
whether he suspects it or not. At any time, on any day, in any part
of America, you can confer a happiness upon any passing stranger
by calling his attention to any other passing stranger and saying:
"Do you see that gentleman going along there? It is Mr. Rockefeller."
Watch his eye. It is a combination of power and conspicuousness
which the man understands.
When we understand rank, we always like to rub against it.
When a man is conspicuous, we always want to see him. Also, if he
will pay us an attention we will manage to remember it. Also, we
will mention it now and then, casually; sometimes to a friend,
or if a friend is not handy, we will make out with a stranger.
Well, then, what is rank, and what is conspicuousness? At once we
think of kings and aristocracies, and of world-wide celebrities
in soldierships, the arts, letters, etc., and we stop there.
But that is a mistake. Rank holds its court and receives its homage
on every round of the ladder, from the emperor down to the rat-catcher;
and distinction, also, exists on every round of the ladder,
and commands its due of deference and envy.
To worship rank and distinction is the dear and valued privilege
of all the human race, and it is freely and joyfully exercised
in democracies as well as in monarchies--and even, to some extent,
among those creatures whom we impertinently call the Lower Animals.
For even they have some poor little vanities and foibles, though in
this matter they are paupers as compared to us.
A Chinese Emperor has the worship of his four hundred millions
of subjects, but the rest of the world is indifferent to him.
A Christian Emperor has the worship of his subjects and of a large
part of the Christian world outside of his domains; but he is
a matter of indifference to all China. A king, class A, has an
extensive worship; a king, class B, has a less extensive worship;
class C, class D, class E get a steadily diminishing share of worship;
class L (Sultan of Zanzibar), class P (Sultan of Sulu), and class W
(half-king of Samoa), get no worship at all outside their own little
patch of sovereignty.
Take the distinguished people along down. Each has his group
of homage-payers. In the navy, there are many groups; they start
with the Secretary and the Admiral, and go down to the quartermaster--
and below; for there will be groups among the sailors, and each of
these groups will have a tar who is distinguished for his battles,
or his strength, or his daring, or his profanity, and is admired
and envied by his group. The same with the army; the same
with the literary and journalistic craft; the publishing craft;
the cod-fishery craft; Standard Oil; U. S. Steel; the class A hotel--
and the rest of the alphabet in that line; the class A prize-fighter--
and the rest of the alphabet in his line--clear down to the lowest
and obscurest six-boy gang of little gamins, with its one boy
that can thrash the rest, and to whom he is king of Samoa,
bottom of the royal race, but looked up to with a most ardent
admiration and envy.
There is something pathetic, and funny, and pretty, about this
human race's fondness for contact with power and distinction,
and for the reflected glory it gets out of it. The king, class A,
is happy in the state banquet and the military show which the
emperor provides for him, and he goes home and gathers the queen
and the princelings around him in the privacy of the spare room,
and tells them all about it, and says:
"His Imperial Majesty put his hand upon my shoulder in the most
friendly way--just as friendly and familiar, oh, you can't imagine it!--
and everybody SEEING him do it; charming, perfectly charming!"
The king, class G, is happy in the cold collation and the police
parade provided for him by the king, class B, and goes home
and tells the family all about it, and says:
"And His Majesty took me into his own private cabinet for a smoke
and a chat, and there we sat just as sociable, and talking away
and laughing and chatting, just the same as if we had been born
in the same bunk; and all the servants in the anteroom could see
us doing it! Oh, it was too lovely for anything!"
The king, class Q, is happy in the modest entertainment furnished him
by the king, class M, and goes home and tells the household about it,
and is as grateful and joyful over it as were his predecessors
in the gaudier attentions that had fallen to their larger lot.
Emperors, kings, artisans, peasants, big people, little people--at the
bottom we are all alike and all the same; all just alike on the inside,
and when our clothes are off, nobody can tell which of us is which.
We are unanimous in the pride we take in good and genuine compliments
paid us, and distinctions conferred upon us, in attentions shown.
There is not one of us, from the emperor down, but is made like that.
Do I mean attentions shown us by the guest? No, I mean simply
flattering attentions, let them come whence they may. We despise
no source that can pay us a pleasing attention--there is no source
that is humble enough for that. You have heard a dear little girl
say to a frowzy and disreputable dog: "He came right to me and let
me pat him on the head, and he wouldn't let the others touch him!"
and you have seen her eyes dance with pride in that high distinction.
You have often seen that. If the child were a princess, would that
random dog be able to confer the like glory upon her with his
pretty compliment? Yes; and even in her mature life and seated
upon a throne, she would still remember it, still recall it,
still speak of it with frank satisfaction. That charming and
lovable German princess and poet, Carmen Sylva, Queen of Roumania,
remembers yet that the flowers of the woods and fields "talked to her"
when she was a girl, and she sets it down in her latest book;
and that the squirrels conferred upon her and her father the valued
compliment of not being afraid of them; and "once one of them,
holding a nut between its sharp little teeth, ran right up against
my father"--it has the very note of "He came right to me and let
me pat him on the head"--"and when it saw itself reflected in his
boot it was very much surprised, and stopped for a long time to
contemplate itself in the polished leather"--then it went its way.
And the birds! she still remembers with pride that "they came
boldly into my room," when she had neglected her "duty" and put
no food on the window-sill for them; she knew all the wild birds,
and forgets the royal crown on her head to remember with pride
that they knew her; also that the wasp and the bee were personal
friends of hers, and never forgot that gracious relationship
to her injury: "never have I been stung by a wasp or a bee."
And here is that proud note again that sings in that little child's
elation in being singled out, among all the company of children,
for the random dog's honor-conferring attentions. "Even in the very
worst summer for wasps, when, in lunching out of doors, our table
was covered with them and every one else was stung, they never
When a queen whose qualities of mind and heart and character are
able to add distinction to so distinguished a place as a throne,
remembers with grateful exultation, after thirty years, honors and
distinctions conferred upon her by the humble, wild creatures of
the forest, we are helped to realize that complimentary attentions,
homage, distinctions, are of no caste, but are above all cast--
that they are a nobility-conferring power apart.
We all like these things. When the gate-guard at the railway-station
passes me through unchallenged and examines other people's tickets,
I feel as the king, class A, felt when the emperor put the imperial
hand on his shoulder, "everybody seeing him do it"; and as the child
felt when the random dog allowed her to pat his head and ostracized
the others; and as the princess felt when the wasps spared her
and stung the rest; and I felt just so, four years ago in Vienna
(and remember it yet), when the helmeted police shut me off,
with fifty others, from a street which the Emperor was to pass through,
and the captain of the squad turned and saw the situation and said
indignantly to that guard:
"Can't you see it is the Herr Mark Twain? Let him through!"
It was four years ago; but it will be four hundred before I forget
the wind of self-complacency that rose in me, and strained my
buttons when I marked the deference for me evoked in the faces of my
fellow-rabble, and noted, mingled with it, a puzzled and resentful
expression which said, as plainly as speech could have worded it:
"And who in the nation is the Herr Mark Twain UM GOTTESWILLEN?"
How many times in your life have you heard this boastful remark:
"I stood as close to him as I am to you; I could have put out my
hand and touched him."
We have all heard it many and many a time. It was a proud
distinction to be able to say those words. It brought envy to
the speaker, a kind of glory; and he basked in it and was happy
through all his veins. And who was it he stood so close to?
The answer would cover all the grades. Sometimes it was a king;
sometimes it was a renowned highwayman; sometimes it was an unknown
man killed in an extraordinary way and made suddenly famous by it;
always it was a person who was for the moment the subject of public
interest of a village.
"I was there, and I saw it myself." That is a common and
envy-compelling remark. It can refer to a battle; to a handing;
to a coronation; to the killing of Jumbo by the railway-train;
to the arrival of Jenny Lind at the Battery; to the meeting of the
President and Prince Henry; to the chase of a murderous maniac;
to the disaster in the tunnel; to the explosion in the subway;
to a remarkable dog-fight; to a village church struck by lightning.
It will be said, more or less causally, by everybody in America who has
seen Prince Henry do anything, or try to. The man who was absent
and didn't see him to anything, will scoff. It is his privilege;
and he can make capital out of it, too; he will seem, even to himself,
to be different from other Americans, and better. As his opinion
of his superior Americanism grows, and swells, and concentrates
and coagulates, he will go further and try to belittle the distinction
of those that saw the Prince do things, and will spoil their pleasure
in it if he can. My life has been embittered by that kind of person.
If you are able to tell of a special distinction that has fallen
to your lot, it gravels them; they cannot bear it; and they try
to make believe that the thing you took for a special distinction
was nothing of the kind and was meant in quite another way.
Once I was received in private audience by an emperor. Last week
I was telling a jealous person about it, and I could see him wince
under it, see him bite, see him suffer. I revealed the whole episode
to him with considerable elaboration and nice attention to detail.
When I was through, he asked me what had impressed me most.
"His Majesty's delicacy. They told me to be sure and back
out from the presence, and find the door-knob as best I could;
it was not allowable to face around. Now the Emperor knew it would
be a difficult ordeal for me, because of lack of practice; and so,
when it was time to part, he turned, with exceeding delicacy,
and pretended to fumble with things on his desk, so I could get
out in my own way, without his seeing me."
It went home! It was vitriol! I saw the envy and disgruntlement rise
in the man's face; he couldn't keep it down. I saw him try to fix
up something in his mind to take the bloom off that distinction.
I enjoyed that, for I judged that he had his work cut out for him.
He struggled along inwardly for quite a while; then he said,
with a manner of a person who has to say something and hasn't anything
relevant to say:
"You said he had a handful of special-brand cigars on the table?"
"Yes; _I_ never saw anything to match them."
I had him again. He had to fumble around in his mind as much
as another minute before he could play; then he said in as mean
a way as I ever heard a person say anything:
"He could have been counting the cigars, you know."
I cannot endure a man like that. It is nothing to him how unkind
he is, so long as he takes the bloom off. It is all he cares for.
"An Englishman (or other human being) does dearly love a lord,"
(or other conspicuous person.) It includes us all. We love to be
noticed by the conspicuous person; we love to be associated with such,
or with a conspicuous event, even in a seventh-rate fashion,
even in the forty-seventh, if we cannot do better. This accounts
for some of our curious tastes in mementos. It accounts for the large
private trade in the Prince of Wales's hair, which chambermaids
were able to drive in that article of commerce when the Prince made
the tour of the world in the long ago--hair which probably did
not always come from his brush, since enough of it was marketed
to refurnish a bald comet; it accounts for the fact that the rope
which lynches a negro in the presence of ten thousand Christian
spectators is salable five minutes later at two dollars and inch;
it accounts for the mournful fact that a royal personage does not
venture to wear buttons on his coat in public.
We do love a lord--and by that term I mean any person whose situation
is higher than our own. The lord of the group, for instance:
a group of peers, a group of millionaires, a group of hoodlums,
a group of sailors, a group of newsboys, a group of saloon politicians,
a group of college girls. No royal person has ever been the object
of a more delirious loyalty and slavish adoration than is paid
by the vast Tammany herd to its squalid idol in Wantage. There is
not a bifurcated animal in that menagerie that would not be proud
to appear in a newspaper picture in his company. At the same time,
there are some in that organization who would scoff at the people
who have been daily pictured in company with Prince Henry, and would
say vigorously that THEY would not consent to be photographed
with him--a statement which would not be true in any instance.
There are hundreds of people in America who would frankly say to you
that they would not be proud to be photographed in a group with
the Prince, if invited; and some of these unthinking people would
believe it when they said it; yet in no instance would it be true.
We have a large population, but we have not a large enough one,
by several millions, to furnish that man. He has not yet been begotten,
and in fact he is not begettable.
You may take any of the printed groups, and there isn't a person
in the dim background who isn't visibly trying to be vivid; if it
is a crowd of ten thousand--ten thousand proud, untamed democrats,
horny-handed sons of toil and of politics, and fliers of the eagle--
there isn't one who is trying to keep out of range, there isn't one
who isn't plainly meditating a purchase of the paper in the morning,
with the intention of hunting himself out in the picture and of framing
and keeping it if he shall find so much of his person in it as his
We all love to get some of the drippings of Conspicuousness, and we
will put up with a single, humble drip, if we can't get any more.
We may pretend otherwise, in conversation; but we can't pretend
it to ourselves privately--and we don't. We do confess in public
that we are the noblest work of God, being moved to it by long habit,
and teaching, and superstition; but deep down in the secret places
of our souls we recognize that, if we ARE the noblest work, the less
said about it the better.
We of the North poke fun at the South for its fondness of titles--
a fondness for titles pure and simple, regardless of whether they
are genuine or pinchbeck. We forget that whatever a Southerner
likes the rest of the human race likes, and that there is no law of
predilection lodged in one people that is absent from another people.
There is no variety in the human race. We are all children,
all children of the one Adam, and we love toys. We can soon acquire
that Southern disease if some one will give it a start. It already
has a start, in fact. I have been personally acquainted with over
eighty-four thousand persons who, at one time or another in their lives,
have served for a year or two on the staffs of our multitudinous
governors, and through that fatality have been generals temporarily,
and colonels temporarily, and judge-advocates temporarily; but I
have known only nine among them who could be hired to let the title
go when it ceased to be legitimate. I know thousands and thousands
of governors who ceased to be governors away back in the last century;
but I am acquainted with only three who would answer your letter
if you failed to call them "Governor" in it. I know acres and acres
of men who have done time in a legislature in prehistoric days,
but among them is not half an acre whose resentment you would not
raise if you addressed them as "Mr." instead of "Hon." The first thing
a legislature does is to convene in an impressive legislative attitude,
and get itself photographed. Each member frames his copy and takes
it to the woods and hangs it up in the most aggressively conspicuous
place in his house; and if you visit the house and fail to inquire
what that accumulation is, the conversation will be brought around
to it by that aforetime legislator, and he will show you a figure
in it which in the course of years he has almost obliterated
with the smut of his finger-marks, and say with a solemn joy, "It's me!"
Have you ever seen a country Congressman enter the hotel breakfast-room
in Washington with his letters?--and sit at his table and let on
to read them?--and wrinkle his brows and frown statesman-like?--
keeping a furtive watch-out over his glasses all the while to see
if he is being observed and admired?--those same old letters
which he fetches in every morning? Have you seen it? Have you
seen him show off? It is THE sight of the national capital.
Except one; a pathetic one. That is the ex-Congressman: the poor
fellow whose life has been ruined by a two-year taste of glory
and of fictitious consequence; who has been superseded, and ought
to take his heartbreak home and hide it, but cannot tear himself
away from the scene of his lost little grandeur; and so he lingers,
and still lingers, year after year, unconsidered, sometimes snubbed,
ashamed of his fallen estate, and valiantly trying to look otherwise;
dreary and depressed, but counterfeiting breeziness and gaiety,
hailing with chummy familiarity, which is not always welcomed,
the more-fortunes who are still in place and were once his mates.
Have you seen him? He clings piteously to the one little shred that
is left of his departed distinction--the "privilege of the floor";
and works it hard and gets what he can out of it. That is the saddest
figure I know of.
Yes, we do so love our little distinctions! And then we loftily
scoff at a Prince for enjoying his larger ones; forgetting that if we
only had his chance--ah! "Senator" is not a legitimate title.
A Senator has no more right to be addressed by it than have you
or I; but, in the several state capitals and in Washington,
there are five thousand Senators who take very kindly to
that fiction, and who purr gratefully when you call them by it--
which you may do quite unrebuked. Then those same Senators smile
at the self-constructed majors and generals and judges of the South!
Indeed, we do love our distinctions, get them how we may.
And we work them for all they are worth. In prayer we call
ourselves "worms of the dust," but it is only on a sort of tacit
understanding that the remark shall not be taken at par. WE--
worms of the dust! Oh, no, we are not that. Except in fact;
and we do not deal much in fact when we are contemplating ourselves.
As a race, we do certainly love a lord--let him be Croker, or a duke,
or a prize-fighter, or whatever other personage shall chance to be the
head of our group. Many years ago, I saw a greasy youth in overalls
standing by the HERALD office, with an expectant look in his face.
Soon a large man passed out, and gave him a pat on the shoulder.
That was what the boy was waiting for--the large man's notice.
The pat made him proud and happy, and the exultation inside of him
shone out through his eyes; and his mates were there to see the pat
and envy it and wish they could have that glory. The boy belonged
down cellar in the press-room, the large man was king of the
upper floors, foreman of the composing-room. The light in the boy's
face was worship, the foreman was his lord, head of his group.
The pat was an accolade. It was as precious to the boy as it would
have been if he had been an aristocrat's son and the accolade had
been delivered by his sovereign with a sword. The quintessence
of the honor was all there; there was no difference in values;
in truth there was no difference present except an artificial one--
All the human race loves a lord--that is, loves to look upon
or be noticed by the possessor of Power or Conspicuousness;
and sometimes animals, born to better things and higher ideals,
descend to man's level in this matter. In the Jardin des Plantes
I have see a cat that was so vain of being the personal friend
of an elephant that I was ashamed of her.
EXTRACTS FROM ADAM'S DIARY
MONDAY.--This new creature with the long hair is a good deal
in the way. It is always hanging around and following me about.
I don't like this; I am not used to company. I wish it would stay
with the other animals. . . . Cloudy today, wind in the east;
think we shall have rain. . . . WE? Where did I get that word--
the new creature uses it.
TUESDAY.--Been examining the great waterfall. It is the finest thing
on the estate, I think. The new creature calls it Niagara Falls--
why, I am sure I do not know. Says it LOOKS like Niagara Falls.
That is not a reason, it is mere waywardness and imbecility.
I get no chance to name anything myself. The new creature names
everything that comes along, before I can get in a protest.
And always that same pretext is offered--it LOOKS like the thing.
There is a dodo, for instance. Says the moment one looks at it
one sees at a glance that it "looks like a dodo." It will have to
keep that name, no doubt. It wearies me to fret about it, and it
does no good, anyway. Dodo! It looks no more like a dodo than
WEDNESDAY.--Built me a shelter against the rain, but could not
have it to myself in peace. The new creature intruded. When I
tried to put it out it shed water out of the holes it looks with,
and wiped it away with the back of its paws, and made a noise
such as some of the other animals make when they are in distress.
I wish it would not talk; it is always talking. That sounds like a
cheap fling at the poor creature, a slur; but I do not mean it so.
I have never heard the human voice before, and any new and strange
sound intruding itself here upon the solemn hush of these dreaming
solitudes offends my ear and seems a false note. And this new sound
is so close to me; it is right at my shoulder, right at my ear,
first on one side and then on the other, and I am used only to sounds
that are more or less distant from me.
FRIDAY. The naming goes recklessly on, in spite of anything I can do.
I had a very good name for the estate, and it was musical and pretty--
GARDEN OF EDEN. Privately, I continue to call it that, but not any
longer publicly. The new creature says it is all woods and rocks
and scenery, and therefore has no resemblance to a garden. Says it
LOOKS like a park, and does not look like anything BUT a park.
Consequently, without consulting me, it has been new-named NIAGARA
FALLS PARK. This is sufficiently high-handed, it seems to me.
And already there is a sign up:
My life is not as happy as it was.
SATURDAY.--The new creature eats too much fruit. We are going
to run short, most likely. "We" again--that is ITS word; mine, too,
now, from hearing it so much. Good deal of fog this morning.
I do not go out in the fog myself. This new creature does.
It goes out in all weathers, and stumps right in with its muddy feet.
And talks. It used to be so pleasant and quiet here.
SUNDAY.--Pulled through. This day is getting to be more and more trying.
It was selected and set apart last November as a day of rest.
I had already six of them per week before. This morning found
the new creature trying to clod apples out of that forbidden tree.
MONDAY.--The new creature says its name is Eve. That is all right,
I have no objections. Says it is to call it by, when I want it
to come. I said it was superfluous, then. The word evidently
raised me in its respect; and indeed it is a large, good word
and will bear repetition. It says it is not an It, it is a She.
This is probably doubtful; yet it is all one to me; what she is were
nothing to me if she would but go by herself and not talk.
TUESDAY.--She has littered the whole estate with execrable names
and offensive signs:
This way to the Whirlpool
This way to Goat Island
Cave of the Winds this way