Part 1 out of 3
This etext was produced by Gardner Buchanan.
By Stephen Leacock
MY FINANCIAL CAREER
LORD OXHEAD'S SECRET
THE AWFUL FATE OF MELPOMENUS JONES
A CHRISTMAS LETTER
HOW TO MAKE A MILLION DOLLARS
HOW TO LIVE TO BE 200
HOW TO AVOID GETTING MARRIED
HOW TO BE A DOCTOR
THE NEW FOOD
A NEW PATHOLOGY
THE POET ANSWERED
THE FORCE OF STATISTICS
MEN WHO HAVE SHAVED ME
GETTING THE THREAD OF IT
TELLING HIS FAULTS
THE CONJURER'S REVENGE
HINTS TO TRAVELLERS
A MANUAL OF EDUCATION
HOODOO MCFIGGIN'S CHRISTMAS
THE LIFE OF JOHN SMITH
ON COLLECTING THINGS
INSURANCE UP TO DATE
BORROWING A MATCH
A LESSON IN FICTION
HELPING THE ARMENIANS
A STUDY IN STILL LIFE: THE COUNTRY HOTEL
AN EXPERIMENT WITH POLICEMAN HOGAN
THE PASSING OF THE POET
A MODEL DIALOGUE
BACK TO THE BUSH
REFLECTIONS ON RIDING
HALF-HOURS WITH THE POETS--
I. MR. WORDSWORTH AND THE LITTLE COTTAGE GIRL
II. HOW TENNYSON KILLED THE MAY QUEEN
III. OLD MR. LONGFELLOW ON BOARD THE "HESPERUS"
A. B, AND C
My Financial Career
When I go into a bank I get rattled. The clerks rattle me;
the wickets rattle me; the sight of the money rattles me;
everything rattles me.
The moment I cross the threshold of a bank and attempt to
transact business there, I become an irresponsible idiot.
I knew this beforehand, but my salary had been raised to
fifty dollars a month and I felt that the bank was the
only place for it.
So I shambled in and looked timidly round at the clerks.
I had an idea that a person about to open an account must
needs consult the manager. I went up to a wicket marked
"Accountant." The accountant was a tall, cool devil. The
very sight of him rattled me. My voice was sepulchral.
"Can I see the manager?" I said, and added solemnly,
"alone." I don't know why I said "alone."
"Certainly," said the accountant, and fetched him.
The manager was a grave, calm man. I held my fifty-six
dollars clutched in a crumpled ball in my pocket.
"Are you the manager?" I said. God knows I didn't doubt it.
"Yes," he said.
"Can I see you," I asked, "alone?" I didn't want to say
"alone" again, but without it the thing seemed self-evident.
The manager looked at me in some alarm. He felt that I
had an awful secret to reveal.
"Come in here," he said, and led the way to a private
room. He turned the key in the lock.
"We are safe from interruption here," he said; "sit down."
We both sat down and looked at each other. I found no
voice to speak.
"You are one of Pinkerton's men, I presume," he said.
He had gathered from my mysterious manner that I was a
detective. I knew what he was thinking, and it made me
"No, not from Pinkerton's," I said, seeming to imply that
I came from a rival agency.
"To tell the truth," I went on, as if I had been prompted
to lie about it," I am not a detective at all. I have
come to open an account. I intend to keep all my money
in this bank."
The manager looked relieved but still serious; he concluded
now that I was a son of Baron Rothschild or a young Gould.
"A large account, I suppose," he said.
"Fairly large," I whispered. "I propose to deposit
fifty-six dollars now and fifty dollars a month regularly."
The manager got up and opened the door. He called to the
"Mr. Montgomery," he said unkindly loud, "this gentleman
is opening an account, he will deposit fifty-six dollars.
A big iron door stood open at the side of the room.
"Good morning," I said, and stepped into the safe.
"Come out," said the manager coldly, and showed me the
I went up to the accountant's wicket and poked the ball
of money at him with a quick convulsive movement as if
I were doing a conjuring trick.
My face was ghastly pale.
"Here," I said, "deposit it." The tone of the words seemed
to mean, "Let us do this painful thing while the fit is
He took the money and gave it to another clerk.
He made me write the sum on a slip and sign my name in
a book. I no longer knew what I was doing. The bank swam
before my eyes.
"Is it deposited?" I asked in a hollow, vibrating voice.
"It is," said the accountant.
"Then I want to draw a cheque."
My idea was to draw out six dollars of it for present
use. Someone gave me a chequebook through a wicket and
someone else began telling me how to write it out. The
people in the bank had the impression that I was an
invalid millionaire. I wrote something on the cheque and
thrust it in at the clerk. He looked at it.
"What! are you drawing it all out again?" he asked in
surprise. Then I realized that I had written fifty-six
instead of six. I was too far gone to reason now. I had
a feeling that it was impossible to explain the thing.
All the clerks had stopped writing to look at me.
Reckless with misery, I made a plunge.
"Yes, the whole thing."
"You withdraw your money from the bank?"
"Every cent of it."
"Are you not going to deposit any more?" said the clerk,
An idiot hope struck me that they might think something
had insulted me while I was writing the cheque and that
I had changed my mind. I made a wretched attempt to look
like a man with a fearfully quick temper.
The clerk prepared to pay the money.
"How will you have it?" he said.
"How will you have it?"
"Oh"--I caught his meaning and answered without even
trying to think--"in fifties."
He gave me a fifty-dollar bill.
"And the six?" he asked dryly.
"In sixes," I said.
He gave it me and I rushed out.
As the big door swung behind me I caught the echo of a
roar of laughter that went up to the ceiling of the bank.
Since then I bank no more. I keep my money in cash in my
trousers pocket and my savings in silver dollars in a
Lord Oxhead's Secret
A ROMANCE IN ONE CHAPTER
It was finished. Ruin had come. Lord Oxhead sat gazing
fixedly at the library fire. Without, the wind soughed
(or sogged) around the turrets of Oxhead Towers, the seat
of the Oxhead family. But the old earl heeded not the
sogging of the wind around his seat. He was too absorbed.
Before him lay a pile of blue papers with printed headings.
From time to time he turned them over in his hands and
replaced them on the table with a groan. To the earl they
meant ruin--absolute, irretrievable ruin, and with it
the loss of his stately home that had been the pride of
the Oxheads for generations. More than that--the world
would now know the awful secret of his life.
The earl bowed his head in the bitterness of his sorrow,
for he came of a proud stock. About him hung the portraits
of his ancestors. Here on the right an Oxhead who had
broken his lance at Crecy, or immediately before it.
There McWhinnie Oxhead who had ridden madly from the
stricken field of Flodden to bring to the affrighted
burghers of Edinburgh all the tidings that he had been
able to gather in passing the battlefield. Next him hung
the dark half Spanish face of Sir Amyas Oxhead of
Elizabethan days whose pinnace was the first to dash to
Plymouth with the news that the English fleet, as nearly
as could be judged from a reasonable distance, seemed
about to grapple with the Spanish Armada. Below this,
the two Cavalier brothers, Giles and Everard Oxhead, who
had sat in the oak with Charles II. Then to the right
again the portrait of Sir Ponsonby Oxhead who had fought
with Wellington in Spain, and been dismissed for it.
Immediately before the earl as he sat was the family
escutcheon emblazoned above the mantelpiece. A child
might read the simplicity of its proud significance--an
ox rampant quartered in a field of gules with a pike
dexter and a dog intermittent in a plain parallelogram
right centre, with the motto, "Hic, haec, hoc, hujus,
* * * * *
"Father!"--The girl's voice rang clear through the half
light of the wainscoted library. Gwendoline Oxhead had
thrown herself about the earl's neck. The girl was radiant
with happiness. Gwendoline was a beautiful girl of
thirty-three, typically English in the freshness of her
girlish innocence. She wore one of those charming walking
suits of brown holland so fashionable among the aristocracy
of England, while a rough leather belt encircled her
waist in a single sweep. She bore herself with that sweet
simplicity which was her greatest charm. She was probably
more simple than any girl of her age for miles around.
Gwendoline was the pride of her father's heart, for he
saw reflected in her the qualities of his race.
"Father," she said, a blush mantling her fair face, "I
am so happy, oh so happy; Edwin has asked me to be his
wife, and we have plighted our troth--at least if you
consent. For I will never marry without my father's
warrant," she added, raising her head proudly; "I am too
much of an Oxhead for that."
Then as she gazed into the old earl's stricken face, the
girl's mood changed at once. "Father," she cried, "father,
are you ill? What is it? Shall I ring?" As she spoke
Gwendoline reached for the heavy bell-rope that hung
beside the wall, but the earl, fearful that her frenzied
efforts might actually make it ring, checked her hand.
"I am, indeed, deeply troubled," said Lord Oxhead, "but
of that anon. Tell me first what is this news you bring.
I hope, Gwendoline, that your choice has been worthy of
an Oxhead, and that he to whom you have plighted your
troth will be worthy to bear our motto with his own."
And, raising his eyes to the escutcheon before him, the
earl murmured half unconsciously, "Hic, haec, hoc, hujus,
hujus, hujus," breathing perhaps a prayer as many of his
ancestors had done before him that he might never forget
"Father," continued Gwendoline, half timidly, "Edwin is
"You surprise me indeed," answered Lord Oxhead; "and
yet," he continued, turning to his daughter with the
courtly grace that marked the nobleman of the old school,
"why should we not respect and admire the Americans?
Surely there have been great names among them. Indeed,
our ancestor Sir Amyas Oxhead was, I think, married to
Pocahontas--at least if not actually married"--the earl
hesitated a moment.
"At least they loved one another," said Gwendoline simply.
"Precisely," said the earl, with relief, "they loved one
another, yes, exactly." Then as if musing to himself,
"Yes, there have been great Americans. Bolivar was an
American. The two Washingtons--George and Booker--are
both Americans. There have been others too, though for
the moment I do not recall their names. But tell me,
Gwendoline, this Edwin of yours--where is his family
"It is at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, father."
"Ah! say you so?" rejoined the earl, with rising interest.
"Oshkosh is, indeed, a grand old name. The Oshkosh are
a Russian family. An Ivan Oshkosh came to England with
Peter the Great and married my ancestress. Their descendant
in the second degree once removed, Mixtup Oshkosh, fought
at the burning of Moscow and later at the sack of Salamanca
and the treaty of Adrianople. And Wisconsin too," the
old nobleman went on, his features kindling with animation,
for he had a passion for heraldry, genealogy, chronology,
and commercial geography; "the Wisconsins, or better, I
think, the Guisconsins, are of old blood. A Guisconsin
followed Henry I to Jerusalem and rescued my ancestor
Hardup Oxhead from the Saracens. Another Guisconsin..."
"Nay, father," said Gwendoline, gently interrupting,
"Wisconsin is not Edwin's own name: that is, I believe,
the name of his estate. My lover's name is Edwin Einstein."
"Einstein," repeated the earl dubiously--"an Indian name
perhaps; yet the Indians are many of them of excellent
family. An ancestor of mine..."
"Father," said Gwendoline, again interrupting, "here is
a portrait of Edwin. Judge for yourself if he be noble."
With this she placed in her father's hand an American
tin-type, tinted in pink and brown. The picture represented
a typical specimen of American manhood of that Anglo-Semitic
type so often seen in persons of mixed English and Jewish
extraction. The figure was well over five feet two inches
in height and broad in proportion. The graceful sloping
shoulders harmonized with the slender and well-poised
waist, and with a hand pliant and yet prehensile. The
pallor of the features was relieved by a drooping black
Such was Edwin Einstein to whom Gwendoline's heart, if
not her hand, was already affianced. Their love had been
so simple and yet so strange. It seemed to Gwendoline
that it was but a thing of yesterday, and yet in reality
they had met three weeks ago. Love had drawn them
irresistibly together. To Edwin the fair English girl
with her old name and wide estates possessed a charm that
he scarcely dared confess to himself. He determined to
woo her. To Gwendoline there was that in Edwin's bearing,
the rich jewels that he wore, the vast fortune that rumour
ascribed to him, that appealed to something romantic and
chivalrous in her nature. She loved to hear him speak of
stocks and bonds, corners and margins, and his father's
colossal business. It all seemed so noble and so far
above the sordid lives of the people about her. Edwin,
too, loved to hear the girl talk of her father's estates,
of the diamond-hilted sword that the saladin had given,
or had lent, to her ancestor hundreds of years ago. Her
description of her father, the old earl, touched something
romantic in Edwin's generous heart. He was never tired
of asking how old he was, was he robust, did a shock, a
sudden shock, affect him much? and so on. Then had come
the evening that Gwendoline loved to live over and over
again in her mind when Edwin had asked her in his
straightforward, manly way, whether--subject to certain
written stipulations to be considered later--she would
be his wife: and she, putting her hand confidingly in
his hand, answered simply, that--subject to the consent
of her father and pending always the necessary legal
formalities and inquiries--she would.
It had all seemed like a dream: and now Edwin Einstein
had come in person to ask her hand from the earl, her
father. Indeed, he was at this moment in the outer hall
testing the gold leaf in the picture-frames with his
pen-knife while waiting for his affianced to break the
fateful news to Lord Oxhead.
Gwendoline summoned her courage for a great effort.
"Papa," she said, "there is one other thing that it is
fair to tell you. Edwin's father is in business."
The earl started from his seat in blank amazement. "In
business!" he repeated, "the father of the suitor of the
daughter of an Oxhead in business! My daughter the
step-daughter of the grandfather of my grandson! Are
you mad, girl? It is too much, too much!"
"But, father," pleaded the beautiful girl in anguish,
"hear me. It is Edwin's father--Sarcophagus Einstein,
senior--not Edwin himself. Edwin does nothing. He has
never earned a penny. He is quite unable to support
himself. You have only to see him to believe it. Indeed,
dear father, he is just like us. He is here now, in this
house, waiting to see you. If it were not for his great
"Girl," said the earl sternly, "I care not for the man's
riches. How much has he?"
"Fifteen million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars,"
answered Gwendoline. Lord Oxhead leaned his head against
the mantelpiece. His mind was in a whirl. He was trying
to calculate the yearly interest on fifteen and a quarter
million dollars at four and a half per cent reduced to
pounds, shillings, and pence. It was bootless. His brain,
trained by long years of high living and plain thinking,
had become too subtle, too refined an instrument for
* * * * *
At this moment the door opened and Edwin Einstein stood
before the earl. Gwendoline never forgot what happened.
Through her life the picture of it haunted her--her lover
upright at the door, his fine frank gaze fixed inquiringly
on the diamond pin in her father's necktie, and he, her
father, raising from the mantelpiece a face of agonized
"You! You!" he gasped. For a moment he stood to his full
height, swaying and groping in the air, then fell prostrate
his full length upon the floor. The lovers rushed to his
aid. Edwin tore open his neckcloth and plucked aside his
diamond pin to give him air. But it was too late. Earl
Oxhead had breathed his last. Life had fled. The earl
was extinct. That is to say, he was dead.
The reason of his death was never known. Had the sight
of Edwin killed him? It might have. The old family doctor
hurriedly summoned declared his utter ignorance. This,
too, was likely. Edwin himself could explain nothing.
But it was observed that after the earl's death and his
marriage with Gwendoline he was a changed man; he dressed
better, talked much better English.
The wedding itself was quiet, almost sad. At Gwendoline's
request there was no wedding breakfast, no bridesmaids,
and no reception, while Edwin, respecting his bride's
bereavement, insisted that there should be no best man,
no flowers, no presents, and no honeymoon.
Thus Lord Oxhead's secret died with him. It was probably
too complicated to be interesting anyway.
DEFINITIONS AND AXIOMS
All boarding-houses are the same boarding-house.
Boarders in the same boarding-house and on the same flat
are equal to one another.
A single room is that which has no parts and no magnitude.
The landlady of a boarding-house is a parallelogram--that
is, an oblong angular figure, which cannot be described,
but which is equal to anything.
A wrangle is the disinclination of two boarders to each
other that meet together but are not in the same line.
All the other rooms being taken, a single room is said
to be a double room.
POSTULATES AND PROPOSITIONS
A pie may be produced any number of times.
The landlady can be reduced to her lowest terms by a
series of propositions.
A bee line may be made from any boarding-house to any
The clothes of a boarding-house bed, though produced ever
so far both ways, will not meet.
Any two meals at a boarding-house are together less than
two square meals.
If from the opposite ends of a boarding-house a line be
drawn passing through all the rooms in turn, then the
stovepipe which warms the boarders will lie within that
On the same bill and on the same side of it there should
not be two charges for the same thing.
If there be two boarders on the same flat, and the amount
of side of the one be equal to the amount of side of the
other, each to each, and the wrangle between one boarder
and the landlady be equal to the wrangle between the
landlady and the other, then shall the weekly bills of
the two boarders be equal also, each to each.
For if not, let one bill be the greater.
Then the other bill is less than it might have been--which
The Awful Fate of Melpomenus Jones
Some people--not you nor I, because we are so awfully
self-possessed--but some people, find great difficulty
in saying good-bye when making a call or spending the
evening. As the moment draws near when the visitor feels
that he is fairly entitled to go away he rises and says
abruptly, "Well, I think I..." Then the people say, "Oh,
must you go now? Surely it's early yet!" and a pitiful
I think the saddest case of this kind of thing that I
ever knew was that of my poor friend Melpomenus Jones,
a curate--such a dear young man, and only twenty-three!
He simply couldn't get away from people. He was too modest
to tell a lie, and too religious to wish to appear rude.
Now it happened that he went to call on some friends of
his on the very first afternoon of his summer vacation.
The next six weeks were entirely his own--absolutely
nothing to do. He chatted awhile, drank two cups of tea,
then braced himself for the effort and said suddenly:
"Well, I think I..."
But the lady of the house said, "Oh, no! Mr. Jones, can't
you really stay a little longer?"
Jones was always truthful. "Oh, yes," he said, "of course,
"Then please don't go."
He stayed. He drank eleven cups of tea. Night was falling.
He rose again.
"Well now," he said shyly, "I think I really..."
"You must go?" said the lady politely. "I thought perhaps
you could have stayed to dinner..."
"Oh well, so I could, you know," Jones said, "if..."
"Then please stay, I'm sure my husband will be delighted."
"All right," he said feebly, "I'll stay," and he sank
back into his chair, just full of tea, and miserable.
Papa came home. They had dinner. All through the meal
Jones sat planning to leave at eight-thirty. All the
family wondered whether Mr. Jones was stupid and sulky,
or only stupid.
After dinner mamma undertook to "draw him out," and showed
him photographs. She showed him all the family museum,
several gross of them--photos of papa's uncle and his
wife, and mamma's brother and his little boy, an awfully
interesting photo of papa's uncle's friend in his Bengal
uniform, an awfully well-taken photo of papa's grandfather's
partner's dog, and an awfully wicked one of papa as the
devil for a fancy-dress ball. At eight-thirty Jones had
examined seventy-one photographs. There were about
sixty-nine more that he hadn't. Jones rose.
"I must say good night now," he pleaded.
"Say good night!" they said, "why it's only half-past
eight! Have you anything to do?"
"Nothing," he admitted, and muttered something about
staying six weeks, and then laughed miserably.
Just then it turned out that the favourite child of the
family, such a dear little romp, had hidden Mr. Jones's
hat; so papa said that he must stay, and invited him to
a pipe and a chat. Papa had the pipe and gave Jones the
chat, and still he stayed. Every moment he meant to take
the plunge, but couldn't. Then papa began to get very
tired of Jones, and fidgeted and finally said, with
jocular irony, that Jones had better stay all night, they
could give him a shake-down. Jones mistook his meaning
and thanked him with tears in his eyes, and papa put
Jones to bed in the spare room and cursed him heartily.
After breakfast next day, papa went off to his work in
the City, and left Jones playing with the baby, broken-
hearted. His nerve was utterly gone. He was meaning to
leave all day, but the thing had got on his mind and he
simply couldn't. When papa came home in the evening he
was surprised and chagrined to find Jones still there.
He thought to jockey him out with a jest, and said he
thought he'd have to charge him for his board, he! he!
The unhappy young man stared wildly for a moment, then
wrung papa's hand, paid him a month's board in advance,
and broke down and sobbed like a child.
In the days that followed he was moody and unapproachable.
He lived, of course, entirely in the drawing-room, and
the lack of air and exercise began to tell sadly on his
health. He passed his time in drinking tea and looking
at the photographs. He would stand for hours gazing at
the photographs of papa's uncle's friend in his Bengal
uniform--talking to it, sometimes swearing bitterly at
it. His mind was visibly failing.
At length the crash came. They carried him upstairs in
a raging delirium of fever. The illness that followed
was terrible. He recognized no one, not even papa's
uncle's friend in his Bengal uniform. At times he would
start up from his bed and shriek, "Well, I think I..."
and then fall back upon the pillow with a horrible laugh.
Then, again, he would leap up and cry, "Another cup of
tea and more photographs! More photographs! Har! Har!"
At length, after a month of agony, on the last day of
his vacation, he passed away. They say that when the last
moment came, he sat up in bed with a beautiful smile of
confidence playing upon his face, and said, "Well--the
angels are calling me; I'm afraid I really must go now.
And the rushing of his spirit from its prison-house was
as rapid as a hunted cat passing over a garden fence.
A Christmas Letter
(In answer to a young lady who has sent an invitation to
be present at a children's party)
Allow me very gratefully but firmly to refuse your kind
invitation. You doubtless mean well; but your ideas are
Let us understand one another once and for all. I cannot
at my mature age participate in the sports of children
with such abandon as I could wish. I entertain, and have
always entertained, the sincerest regard for such games
as Hunt-the-Slipper and Blind-Man's Buff. But I have now
reached a time of life, when, to have my eyes blindfolded
and to have a powerful boy of ten hit me in the back with
a hobby-horse and ask me to guess who hit me, provokes
me to a fit of retaliation which could only culminate in
reckless criminality. Nor can I cover my shoulders with
a drawing-room rug and crawl round on my hands and knees
under the pretence that I am a bear without a sense of
personal insufficiency, which is painful to me.
Neither can I look on with a complacent eye at the sad
spectacle of your young clerical friend, the Reverend
Mr. Uttermost Farthing, abandoning himself to such gambols
and appearing in the role of life and soul of the evening.
Such a degradation of his holy calling grieves me, and
I cannot but suspect him of ulterior motives.
You inform me that your maiden aunt intends to help you
to entertain the party. I have not, as you know, the
honour of your aunt's acquaintance, yet I think I may
with reason surmise that she will organize games--guessing
games--in which she will ask me to name a river in Asia
beginning with a Z; on my failure to do so she will put
a hot plate down my neck as a forfeit, and the children
will clap their hands. These games, my dear young friend,
involve the use of a more adaptable intellect than mine,
and I cannot consent to be a party to them.
May I say in conclusion that I do not consider a five-cent
pen-wiper from the top branch of a Xmas tree any adequate
compensation for the kind of evening you propose.
I have the honour
To subscribe myself,
Your obedient servant.
How to Make a Million Dollars
I mix a good deal with the Millionaires. I like them. I
like their faces. I like the way they live. I like the
things they eat. The more we mix together the better I
like the things we mix.
Especially I like the way they dress, their grey check
trousers, their white check waist-coats, their heavy gold
chains, and the signet-rings that they sign their cheques
with. My! they look nice. Get six or seven of them sitting
together in the club and it's a treat to see them. And
if they get the least dust on them, men come and brush
it off. Yes, and are glad to. I'd like to take some of
the dust off them myself.
Even more than what they eat I like their intellectual
grasp. It is wonderful. Just watch them read. They simply
read all the time. Go into the club at any hour and you'll
see three or four of them at it. And the things they can
read! You'd think that a man who'd been driving hard in
the office from eleven o'clock until three, with only an
hour and a half for lunch, would be too fagged. Not a
bit. These men can sit down after office hours and read
the Sketch and the Police Gazette and the Pink Un, and
understand the jokes just as well as I can.
What I love to do is to walk up and down among them and
catch the little scraps of conversation. The other day
I heard one lean forward and say, "Well, I offered him
a million and a half and said I wouldn't give a cent
more, he could either take it or leave it--" I just longed
to break in and say, "What! what! a million and a half!
Oh! say that again! Offer it to me, to either take it or
leave it. Do try me once: I know I can: or here, make it
a plain million and let's call it done."
Not that these men are careless over money. No, sir.
Don't think it. Of course they don't take much account
of big money, a hundred thousand dollars at a shot or
anything of that sort. But little money. You've no idea
till you know them how anxious they get about a cent, or
half a cent, or less.
Why, two of them came into the club the other night just
frantic with delight: they said wheat had risen and they'd
cleaned up four cents each in less than half an hour.
They bought a dinner for sixteen on the strength of it.
I don't understand it. I've often made twice as much as
that writing for the papers and never felt like boasting
One night I heard one man say, "Well, let's call up New
York and offer them a quarter of a cent." Great heavens!
Imagine paying the cost of calling up New York, nearly
five million people, late at night and offering them a
quarter of a cent! And yet--did New York get mad? No,
they took it. Of course it's high finance. I don't pretend
to understand it. I tried after that to call up Chicago
and offer it a cent and a half, and to call up Hamilton,
Ontario, and offer it half a dollar, and the operator
only thought I was crazy.
All this shows, of course, that I've been studying how
the millionaires do it. I have. For years. I thought it
might be helpful to young men just beginning to work and
anxious to stop.
You know, many a man realizes late in life that if when
he was a boy he had known what he knows now, instead of
being what he is he might be what he won't; but how few
boys stop to think that if they knew what they don't know
instead of being what they will be, they wouldn't be?
These are awful thoughts.
At any rate, I've been gathering hints on how it is they
One thing I'm sure about. If a young man wants to make
a million dollars he's got to be mighty careful about
his diet and his living. This may seem hard. But success
is only achieved with pains.
There is no use in a young man who hopes to make a million
dollars thinking he's entitled to get up at 7.30, eat
force and poached eggs, drink cold water at lunch, and
go to bed at 10 p.m. You can't do it. I've seen too many
millionaires for that. If you want to be a millionaire
you mustn't get up till ten in the morning. They never
do. They daren't. It would be as much as their business
is worth if they were seen on the street at half-past
And the old idea of abstemiousness is all wrong. To be
a millionaire you need champagne, lots of it and all the
time. That and Scotch whisky and soda: you have to sit
up nearly all night and drink buckets of it. This is what
clears the brain for business next day. I've seen some
of these men with their brains so clear in the morning,
that their faces look positively boiled.
To live like this requires, of course, resolution. But
you can buy that by the pint.
Therefore, my dear young man, if you want to get moved
on from your present status in business, change your
life. When your landlady brings your bacon and eggs for
breakfast, throw them out of window to the dog and tell
her to bring you some chilled asparagus and a pint of
Moselle. Then telephone to your employer that you'll be
down about eleven o'clock. You will get moved on. Yes,
Just how the millionaires make the money is a difficult
question. But one way is this. Strike the town with five
cents in your pocket. They nearly all do this; they've
told me again and again (men with millions and millions)
that the first time they struck town they had only five
cents. That seems to have given them their start. Of
course, it's not easy to do. I've tried it several times.
I nearly did it once. I borrowed five cents, carried it
away out of town, and then turned and came back at the
town with an awful rush. If I hadn't struck a beer saloon
in the suburbs and spent the five cents I might have been
Another good plan is to start something. Something on a
huge scale: something nobody ever thought of. For instance,
one man I know told me that once he was down in Mexico
without a cent (he'd lost his five in striking Central
America) and he noticed that they had no power plants.
So he started some and made a mint of money. Another man
that I know was once stranded in New York, absolutely
without a nickel. Well, it occurred to him that what was
needed were buildings ten stories higher than any that
had been put up. So he built two and sold them right
away. Ever so many millionaires begin in some such simple
way as that.
There is, of course, a much easier way than any of these.
I almost hate to tell this, because I want to do it
I learned of it just by chance one night at the club.
There is one old man there, extremely rich, with one of
the best faces of the lot, just like a hyena. I never
used to know how he had got so rich. So one evening I
asked one of the millionaires how old Bloggs had made
all his money.
"How he made it?" he answered with a sneer. "Why he made
it by taking it out of widows and orphans."
Widows and orphans! I thought, what an excellent idea.
But who would have suspected that they had it?
"And how," I asked pretty cautiously, "did he go at it
to get it out of them?"
"Why," the man answered, "he just ground them under his
heels, that was how."
Now isn't that simple? I've thought of that conversation
often since and I mean to try it. If I can get hold of
them, I'll grind them quick enough. But how to get them.
Most of the widows I know look pretty solid for that sort
of thing, and as for orphans, it must take an awful lot
of them. Meantime I am waiting, and if I ever get a large
bunch of orphans all together, I'll stamp on them and
I find, too, on inquiry, that you can also grind it out
of clergymen. They say they grind nicely. But perhaps
orphans are easier.
How to Live to be 200
Twenty years ago I knew a man called Jiggins, who had
the Health Habit.
He used to take a cold plunge every morning. He said it
opened his pores. After it he took a hot sponge. He said
it closed the pores. He got so that he could open and
shut his pores at will.
Jiggins used to stand and breathe at an open window for
half an hour before dressing. He said it expanded his
lungs. He might, of course, have had it done in a shoe-store
with a boot stretcher, but after all it cost him nothing
this way, and what is half an hour?
After he had got his undershirt on, Jiggins used to hitch
himself up like a dog in harness and do Sandow exercises.
He did them forwards, backwards, and hind-side up.
He could have got a job as a dog anywhere. He spent all
his time at this kind of thing. In his spare time at the
office, he used to lie on his stomach on the floor and
see if he could lift himself up with his knuckles. If he
could, then he tried some other way until he found one
that he couldn't do. Then he would spend the rest of his
lunch hour on his stomach, perfectly happy.
In the evenings in his room he used to lift iron bars,
cannon-balls, heave dumb-bells, and haul himself up to
the ceiling with his teeth. You could hear the thumps
half a mile. He liked it.
He spent half the night slinging himself around his room.
He said it made his brain clear. When he got his brain
perfectly clear, he went to bed and slept. As soon as he
woke, he began clearing it again.
Jiggins is dead. He was, of course, a pioneer, but the
fact that he dumb-belled himself to death at an early
age does not prevent a whole generation of young men from
following in his path.
They are ridden by the Health Mania.
They make themselves a nuisance.
They get up at impossible hours. They go out in silly
little suits and run Marathon heats before breakfast.
They chase around barefoot to get the dew on their feet.
They hunt for ozone. They bother about pepsin. They won't
eat meat because it has too much nitrogen. They won't
eat fruit because it hasn't any. They prefer albumen and
starch and nitrogen to huckleberry pie and doughnuts.
They won't drink water out of a tap. They won't eat
sardines out of a can. They won't use oysters out of a
pail. They won't drink milk out of a glass. They are
afraid of alcohol in any shape. Yes, sir, afraid. "Cowards."
And after all their fuss they presently incur some simple
old-fashioned illness and die like anybody else.
Now people of this sort have no chance to attain any
great age. They are on the wrong track.
Listen. Do you want to live to be really old, to enjoy
a grand, green, exuberant, boastful old age and to make
yourself a nuisance to your whole neighbourhood with your
Then cut out all this nonsense. Cut it out. Get up in
the morning at a sensible hour. The time to get up is
when you have to, not before. If your office opens at
eleven, get up at ten-thirty. Take your chance on ozone.
There isn't any such thing anyway. Or, if there is, you
can buy a Thermos bottle full for five cents, and put it
on a shelf in your cupboard. If your work begins at seven
in the morning, get up at ten minutes to, but don't be
liar enough to say that you like it. It isn't exhilarating,
and you know it.
Also, drop all that cold-bath business. You never did it
when you were a boy. Don't be a fool now. If you must
take a bath (you don't really need to), take it warm.
The pleasure of getting out of a cold bed and creeping
into a hot bath beats a cold plunge to death. In any
case, stop gassing about your tub and your "shower," as
if you were the only man who ever washed.
So much for that point.
Next, take the question of germs and bacilli. Don't be
scared of them. That's all. That's the whole thing, and
if you once get on to that you never need to worry again.
If you see a bacilli, walk right up to it, and look it
in the eye. If one flies into your room, strike at it
with your hat or with a towel. Hit it as hard as you can
between the neck and the thorax. It will soon get sick
But as a matter of fact, a bacilli is perfectly quiet
and harmless if you are not afraid of it. Speak to it.
Call out to it to "lie down." It will understand. I had
a bacilli once, called Fido, that would come and lie at
my feet while I was working. I never knew a more
affectionate companion, and when it was run over by an
automobile, I buried it in the garden with genuine sorrow.
(I admit this is an exaggeration. I don't really remember
its name; it may have been Robert.)
Understand that it is only a fad of modern medicine to
say that cholera and typhoid and diphtheria are caused
by bacilli and germs; nonsense. Cholera is caused by a
frightful pain in the stomach, and diphtheria is caused
by trying to cure a sore throat.
Now take the question of food.
Eat what you want. Eat lots of it. Yes, eat too much of
it. Eat till you can just stagger across the room with
it and prop it up against a sofa cushion. Eat everything
that you like until you can't eat any more. The only test
is, can you pay for it? If you can't pay for it, don't
eat it. And listen--don't worry as to whether your food
contains starch, or albumen, or gluten, or nitrogen. If
you are a damn fool enough to want these things, go and
buy them and eat all you want of them. Go to a laundry
and get a bag of starch, and eat your fill of it. Eat
it, and take a good long drink of glue after it, and a
spoonful of Portland cement. That will gluten you, good
If you like nitrogen, go and get a druggist to give you
a canful of it at the soda counter, and let you sip it
with a straw. Only don't think that you can mix all these
things up with your food. There isn't any nitrogen or
phosphorus or albumen in ordinary things to eat. In any
decent household all that sort of stuff is washed out in
the kitchen sink before the food is put on the table.
And just one word about fresh air and exercise. Don't
bother with either of them. Get your room full of good
air, then shut up the windows and keep it. It will keep
for years. Anyway, don't keep using your lungs all the
time. Let them rest. As for exercise, if you have to take
it, take it and put up with it. But as long as you have
the price of a hack and can hire other people to play
baseball for you and run races and do gymnastics when
you sit in the shade and smoke and watch them--great
heavens, what more do you want?
How to Avoid Getting Married.
Some years ago, when I was the Editor of a Correspondence
Column, I used to receive heart-broken letters from young
men asking for advice and sympathy. They found themselves
the object of marked attentions from girls which they
scarcely knew how to deal with. They did not wish to give
pain or to seem indifferent to a love which they felt
was as ardent as it was disinterested, and yet they felt
that they could not bestow their hands where their hearts
had not spoken. They wrote to me fully and frankly, and
as one soul might write to another for relief. I accepted
their confidences as under the pledge of a secrecy, never
divulging their disclosures beyond the circulation of my
newspapers, or giving any hint of their identity other
than printing their names and addresses and their letters
in full. But I may perhaps without dishonour reproduce
one of these letters, and my answer to it, inasmuch as
the date is now months ago, and the softening hand of
Time has woven its roses--how shall I put it?--the mellow
haze of reminiscences has--what I mean is that the young
man has gone back to work and is all right again.
Here then is a letter from a young man whose name I must
not reveal, but whom I will designate as D. F., and whose
address I must not divulge, but will simply indicate as
Q. Street, West.
"DEAR MR. LEACOCK,
"For some time past I have been the recipient of very
marked attentions from a young lady. She has been calling
at the house almost every evening, and has taken me out
in her motor, and invited me to concerts and the theatre.
On these latter occasions I have insisted on her taking
my father with me, and have tried as far as possible to
prevent her saying anything to me which would be unfit
for father to hear. But my position has become a very
difficult one. I do not think it right to accept her
presents when I cannot feel that my heart is hers.
Yesterday she sent to my house a beautiful bouquet of
American Beauty roses addressed to me, and a magnificent
bunch of Timothy Hay for father. I do not know what to
say. Would it be right for father to keep all this valuable
hay? I have confided fully in father, and we have discussed
the question of presents. He thinks that there are some
that we can keep with propriety, and others that a sense
of delicacy forbids us to retain. He himself is going to
sort out the presents into the two classes. He thinks
that as far as he can see, the Hay is in class B. Meantime
I write to you, as I understand that Miss Laura Jean
Libby and Miss Beatrix Fairfax are on their vacation,
and in any case a friend of mine who follows their writings
closely tells me that they are always full.
"I enclose a dollar, because I do not think it right to
ask you to give all your valuable time and your best
thought without giving you back what it is worth."
On receipt of this I wrote back at once a private and
confidential letter which I printed in the following
edition of the paper.
"MY DEAR, DEAR BOY,
"Your letter has touched me. As soon as I opened it and
saw the green and blue tint of the dollar bill which you
had so daintily and prettily folded within the pages of
your sweet letter, I knew that the note was from someone
that I could learn to love, if our correspondence were
to continue as it had begun. I took the dollar from your
letter and kissed and fondled it a dozen times. Dear
unknown boy! I shall always keep that dollar! No matter
how much I may need it, or how many necessaries, yes,
absolute necessities, of life I may be wanting, I shall
always keep THAT dollar. Do you understand, dear? I shall
keep it. I shall not spend it. As far as the USE of it
goes, it will be just as if you had not sent it. Even if
you were to send me another dollar, I should still keep
the first one, so that no matter how many you sent, the
recollection of one first friendship would not be
contaminated with mercenary considerations. When I say
dollar, darling, of course an express order, or a postal
note, or even stamps would be all the same. But in that
case do not address me in care of this office, as I should
not like to think of your pretty little letters lying
round where others might handle them.
"But now I must stop chatting about myself, for I know
that you cannot be interested in a simple old fogey such
as I am. Let me talk to you about your letter and about
the difficult question it raises for all marriageable
"In the first place, let me tell you how glad I am that
you confide in your father. Whatever happens, go at once
to your father, put your arms about his neck, and have
a good cry together. And you are right, too, about
presents. It needs a wiser head than my poor perplexed
boy to deal with them. Take them to your father to be
sorted, or, if you feel that you must not overtax his
love, address them to me in your own pretty hand.
"And now let us talk, dear, as one heart to another.
Remember always that if a girl is to have your heart she
must be worthy of you. When you look at your own bright
innocent face in the mirror, resolve that you will give
your hand to no girl who is not just as innocent as you
are and no brighter than yourself. So that you must first
find out how innocent she is. Ask her quietly and
frankly--remember, dear, that the days of false modesty
are passing away--whether she has ever been in jail. If
she has not (and if you have not), then you know that
you are dealing with a dear confiding girl who will make
you a life mate. Then you must know, too, that her mind
is worthy of your own. So many men to-day are led astray
by the merely superficial graces and attractions of girls
who in reality possess no mental equipment at all. Many
a man is bitterly disillusioned after marriage when he
realises that his wife cannot solve a quadratic equation,
and that he is compelled to spend all his days with a
woman who does not know that X squared plus 2XY plus Y
squared is the same thing, or, I think nearly the same
thing, as X plus Y squared.
"Nor should the simple domestic virtues be neglected. If
a girl desires to woo you, before allowing her to press
her suit, ask her if she knows how to press yours. If
she can, let her woo; if not, tell her to whoa. But I
see I have written quite as much as I need for this
column. Won't you write again, just as before, dear boy?
How to be a Doctor
Certainly the progress of science is a wonderful thing.
One can't help feeling proud of it. I must admit that I
do. Whenever I get talking to anyone--that is, to anyone
who knows even less about it than I do--about the marvellous
development of electricity, for instance, I feel as if
I had been personally responsible for it. As for the
linotype and the aeroplane and the vacuum house-cleaner,
well, I am not sure that I didn't invent them myself. I
believe that all generous-hearted men feel just the same
way about it.
However, that is not the point I am intending to discuss.
What I want to speak about is the progress of medicine.
There, if you like, is something wonderful. Any lover of
humanity (or of either sex of it) who looks back on the
achievements of medical science must feel his heart glow
and his right ventricle expand with the pericardiac
stimulus of a permissible pride.
Just think of it. A hundred years ago there were no
bacilli, no ptomaine poisoning, no diphtheria, and no
appendicitis. Rabies was but little known, and only
imperfectly developed. All of these we owe to medical
science. Even such things as psoriasis and parotitis and
trypanosomiasis, which are now household names, were
known only to the few, and were quite beyond the reach
of the great mass of the people.
Or consider the advance of the science on its practical
side. A hundred years ago it used to be supposed that
fever could be cured by the letting of blood; now we know
positively that it cannot. Even seventy years ago it was
thought that fever was curable by the administration of
sedative drugs; now we know that it isn't. For the matter
of that, as recently as thirty years ago, doctors thought
that they could heal a fever by means of low diet and
the application of ice; now they are absolutely certain
that they cannot. This instance shows the steady progress
made in the treatment of fever. But there has been the
same cheering advance all along the line. Take rheumatism.
A few generations ago people with rheumatism used to have
to carry round potatoes in their pockets as a means of
cure. Now the doctors allow them to carry absolutely
anything they like. They may go round with their pockets
full of water-melons if they wish to. It makes no
difference. Or take the treatment of epilepsy. It used
to be supposed that the first thing to do in sudden
attacks of this kind was to unfasten the patient's collar
and let him breathe; at present, on the contrary, many
doctors consider it better to button up the patient's
collar and let him choke.
In only one respect has there been a decided lack of
progress in the domain of medicine, that is in the time
it takes to become a qualified practitioner. In the good
old days a man was turned out thoroughly equipped after
putting in two winter sessions at a college and spending
his summers in running logs for a sawmill. Some of the
students were turned out even sooner. Nowadays it takes
anywhere from five to eight years to become a doctor. Of
course, one is willing to grant that our young men are
growing stupider and lazier every year. This fact will
be corroborated at once by any man over fifty years of
age. But even when this is said it seems odd that a man
should study eight years now to learn what he used to
acquire in eight months.
However, let that go. The point I want to develop is that
the modern doctor's business is an extremely simple one,
which could be acquired in about two weeks. This is the
way it is done.
The patient enters the consulting-room. "Doctor," he
says, "I have a bad pain." "Where is it?" "Here." "Stand
up," says the doctor, "and put your arms up above your
head." Then the doctor goes behind the patient and strikes
him a powerful blow in the back. "Do you feel that," he
says. "I do," says the patient. Then the doctor turns
suddenly and lets him have a left hook under the heart.
"Can you feel that," he says viciously, as the patient
falls over on the sofa in a heap. "Get up," says the
doctor, and counts ten. The patient rises. The doctor
looks him over very carefully without speaking, and then
suddenly fetches him a blow in the stomach that doubles
him up speechless. The doctor walks over to the window
and reads the morning paper for a while. Presently he
turns and begins to mutter more to himself than the
patient. "Hum!" he says, "there's a slight anaesthesia
of the tympanum." "Is that so?" says the patient, in an
agony of fear. "What can I do about it, doctor?" "Well,"
says the doctor, "I want you to keep very quiet; you'll
have to go to bed and stay there and keep quiet." In
reality, of course, the doctor hasn't the least idea what
is wrong with the man; but he DOES know that if he will
go to bed and keep quiet, awfully quiet, he'll either
get quietly well again or else die a quiet death. Meantime,
if the doctor calls every morning and thumps and beats
him, he can keep the patient submissive and perhaps force
him to confess what is wrong with him.
"What about diet, doctor?" says the patient, completely
The answer to this question varies very much. It depends
on how the doctor is feeling and whether it is long since
he had a meal himself. If it is late in the morning and
the doctor is ravenously hungry, he says: "Oh, eat plenty,
don't be afraid of it; eat meat, vegetables, starch,
glue, cement, anything you like." But if the doctor has
just had lunch and if his breathing is short-circuited
with huckleberry-pie, he says very firmly: "No, I don't
want you to eat anything at all: absolutely not a bite;
it won't hurt you, a little self-denial in the matter of
eating is the best thing in the world."
"And what about drinking?" Again the doctor's answer
varies. He may say: "Oh, yes, you might drink a glass of
lager now and then, or, if you prefer it, a gin and soda
or a whisky and Apollinaris, and I think before going to
bed I'd take a hot Scotch with a couple of lumps of white
sugar and bit of lemon-peel in it and a good grating of
nutmeg on the top." The doctor says this with real feeling,
and his eye glistens with the pure love of his profession.
But if, on the other hand, the doctor has spent the night
before at a little gathering of medical friends, he is
very apt to forbid the patient to touch alcohol in any
shape, and to dismiss the subject with great severity.
Of course, this treatment in and of itself would appear
too transparent, and would fail to inspire the patient
with a proper confidence. But nowadays this element is
supplied by the work of the analytical laboratory. Whatever
is wrong with the patient, the doctor insists on snipping
off parts and pieces and extracts of him and sending them
mysteriously away to be analysed. He cuts off a lock of
the patient's hair, marks it, "Mr. Smith's Hair, October,
1910." Then he clips off the lower part of the ear, and
wraps it in paper, and labels it, "Part of Mr. Smith's
Ear, October, 1910." Then he looks the patient up and
down, with the scissors in his hand, and if he sees any
likely part of him he clips it off and wraps it up. Now
this, oddly enough, is the very thing that fills the
patient up with that sense of personal importance which
is worth paying for. "Yes," says the bandaged patient,
later in the day to a group of friends much impressed,
"the doctor thinks there may be a slight anaesthesia of
the prognosis, but he's sent my ear to New York and my
appendix to Baltimore and a lock of my hair to the editors
of all the medical journals, and meantime I am to keep
very quiet and not exert myself beyond drinking a hot
Scotch with lemon and nutmeg every half-hour." With that
he sinks back faintly on his cushions, luxuriously happy.
And yet, isn't it funny?
You and I and the rest of us--even if we know all this--as
soon as we have a pain within us, rush for a doctor as
fast as a hack can take us. Yes, personally, I even prefer
an ambulance with a bell on it. It's more soothing.
The New Food
I see from the current columns of the daily press that
"Professor Plumb, of the University of Chicago, has just
invented a highly concentrated form of food. All the
essential nutritive elements are put together in the form
of pellets, each of which contains from one to two hundred
times as much nourishment as an ounce of an ordinary
article of diet. These pellets, diluted with water, will
form all that is necessary to support life. The professor
looks forward confidently to revolutionizing the present
Now this kind of thing may be all very well in its way,
but it is going to have its drawbacks as well. In the
bright future anticipated by Professor Plumb, we can
easily imagine such incidents as the following:
The smiling family were gathered round the hospitable
board. The table was plenteously laid with a soup-plate
in front of each beaming child, a bucket of hot water
before the radiant mother, and at the head of the board
the Christmas dinner of the happy home, warmly covered
by a thimble and resting on a poker chip. The expectant
whispers of the little ones were hushed as the father,
rising from his chair, lifted the thimble and disclosed
a small pill of concentrated nourishment on the chip
before him. Christmas turkey, cranberry sauce, plum
pudding, mince pie--it was all there, all jammed into
that little pill and only waiting to expand. Then the
father with deep reverence, and a devout eye alternating
between the pill and heaven, lifted his voice in a
At this moment there was an agonized cry from the mother.
"Oh, Henry, quick! Baby has snatched the pill!" It was
too true. Dear little Gustavus Adolphus, the golden-haired
baby boy, had grabbed the whole Christmas dinner off the
poker chip and bolted it. Three hundred and fifty pounds
of concentrated nourishment passed down the oesophagus
of the unthinking child.
"Clap him on the back!" cried the distracted mother.
"Give him water!"
The idea was fatal. The water striking the pill caused
it to expand. There was a dull rumbling sound and then,
with an awful bang, Gustavus Adolphus exploded into
And when they gathered the little corpse together, the
baby lips were parted in a lingering smile that could
only be worn by a child who had eaten thirteen Christmas
A New Pathology
It has long been vaguely understood that the condition
of a man's clothes has a certain effect upon the health
of both body and mind. The well-known proverb, "Clothes
make the man" has its origin in a general recognition of
the powerful influence of the habiliments in their reaction
upon the wearer. The same truth may be observed in the
facts of everyday life. On the one hand we remark the
bold carriage and mental vigour of a man attired in a
new suit of clothes; on the other hand we note the
melancholy features of him who is conscious of a posterior
patch, or the haunted face of one suffering from internal
loss of buttons. But while common observation thus gives
us a certain familiarity with a few leading facts regarding
the ailments and influence of clothes, no attempt has as
yet been made to reduce our knowledge to a systematic
form. At the same time the writer feels that a valuable
addition might be made to the science of medicine in this
direction. The numerous diseases which are caused by this
fatal influence should receive a scientific analysis,
and their treatment be included among the principles of
the healing art. The diseases of the clothes may roughly
be divided into medical cases and surgical cases, while
these again fall into classes according to the particular
garment through which the sufferer is attacked.
Probably no article of apparel is so liable to a diseased
condition as the trousers. It may be well, therefore, to
treat first those maladies to which they are subject.
I. Contractio Pantalunae, or Shortening of the Legs of
the Trousers, an extremely painful malady most frequently
found in the growing youth. The first symptom is the
appearance of a yawning space (lacuna) above the boots,
accompanied by an acute sense of humiliation and a morbid
anticipation of mockery. The application of treacle to
the boots, although commonly recommended, may rightly be
condemned as too drastic a remedy. The use of boots
reaching to the knee, to be removed only at night, will
afford immediate relief. In connection with Contractio
is often found--
II. Inflatio Genu, or Bagging of the Knees of the Trousers,
a disease whose symptoms are similar to those above. The
patient shows an aversion to the standing posture, and,
in acute cases, if the patient be compelled to stand,
the head is bent and the eye fixed with painful rigidity
upon the projecting blade formed at the knee of the
In both of the above diseases anything that can be done
to free the mind of the patient from a morbid sense of
his infirmity will do much to improve the general tone
of the system.
III. Oases, or Patches, are liable to break out anywhere
on the trousers, and range in degree of gravity from
those of a trifling nature to those of a fatal character.
The most distressing cases are those where the patch
assumes a different colour from that of the trousers
(dissimilitas coloris). In this instance the mind of the
patient is found to be in a sadly aberrated condition.
A speedy improvement may, however, be effected by cheerful
society, books, flowers, and, above all, by a complete
IV. The overcoat is attacked by no serious disorders,
Phosphorescentia, or Glistening, a malady which indeed
may often be observed to affect the whole system. It is
caused by decay of tissue from old age and is generally
aggravated by repeated brushing. A peculiar feature of
the complaint is the lack of veracity on the part of the
patient in reference to the cause of his uneasiness.
Another invariable symptom is his aversion to outdoor
exercise; under various pretexts, which it is the duty
of his medical adviser firmly to combat, he will avoid
even a gentle walk in the streets.
V. Of the waistcoat science recognizes but one disease--
Porriggia, an affliction caused by repeated spilling of
porridge. It is generally harmless, chiefly owing to the
mental indifference of the patient. It can be successfully
treated by repeated fomentations of benzine.
VI. Mortificatio Tilis, or Greenness of the Hat, is a
disease often found in connection with Phosphorescentia
(mentioned above), and characterized by the same aversion
to outdoor life.
VII. Sterilitas, or Loss of Fur, is another disease of
the hat, especially prevalent in winter. It is not
accurately known whether this is caused by a falling out
of the fur or by a cessation of growth. In all diseases
of the hat the mind of the patient is greatly depressed
and his countenance stamped with the deepest gloom. He
is particularly sensitive in regard to questions as to
the previous history of the hat.
Want of space precludes the mention of minor diseases,
VIII. Odditus Soccorum, or oddness of the socks, a thing
in itself trifling, but of an alarming nature if met in
combination with Contractio Pantalunae. Cases are found
where the patient, possibly on the public platform or at
a social gathering, is seized with a consciousness of
the malady so suddenly as to render medical assistance
It is impossible to mention more than a few of the most
typical cases of diseases of this sort.
I. Explosio, or Loss of Buttons, is the commonest malady
demanding surgical treatment. It consists of a succession
of minor fractures, possibly internal, which at first
excite no alarm. A vague sense of uneasiness is presently
felt, which often leads the patient to seek relief in
the string habit--a habit which, if unduly indulged in,
may assume the proportions of a ruling passion. The use
of sealing-wax, while admirable as a temporary remedy
for Explosio, should never be allowed to gain a permanent
hold upon the system. There is no doubt that a persistent
indulgence in the string habit, or the constant use of
sealing-wax, will result in--
II. Fractura Suspendorum, or Snapping of the Braces,
which amounts to a general collapse of the system. The
patient is usually seized with a severe attack of explosio,
followed by a sudden sinking feeling and sense of loss.
A sound constitution may rally from the shock, but a
system undermined by the string habit invariably succumbs.
III. Sectura Pantalunae, or Ripping of the Trousers, is
generally caused by sitting upon warm beeswax or leaning
against a hook. In the case of the very young it is not
unfrequently accompanied by a distressing suppuration of
the shirt. This, however, is not remarked in adults. The
malady is rather mental than bodily, the mind of the
patient being racked by a keen sense of indignity and a
feeling of unworthiness. The only treatment is immediate
isolation, with a careful stitching of the affected part.
In conclusion, it may be stated that at the first symptom
of disease the patient should not hesitate to put himself
in the hands of a professional tailor. In so brief a
compass as the present article the discussion has of
necessity been rather suggestive than exhaustive. Much
yet remains to be done, and the subject opens wide to
the inquiring eye. The writer will, however, feel amply
satisfied if this brief outline may help to direct the
attention of medical men to what is yet an unexplored
The Poet Answered.
In answer to your repeated questions and requests which
have appeared for some years past in the columns of the
rural press, I beg to submit the following solutions of
your chief difficulties:--
Topic I.--You frequently ask, where are the friends of
your childhood, and urge that they shall be brought back
to you. As far as I am able to learn, those of your
friends who are not in jail are still right there in your
native village. You point out that they were wont to
share your gambols. If so, you are certainly entitled to
have theirs now.
Topic II.--You have taken occasion to say:
"Give me not silk, nor rich attire,
Nor gold, nor jewels rare."
But, my dear fellow, this is preposterous. Why, these
are the very things I had bought for you. If you won't
take any of these, I shall have to give you factory cotton
Topic III.--You also ask, "How fares my love across the
sea?" Intermediate, I presume. She would hardly travel
Topic IV.--"Why was I born? Why should I breathe?" Here
I quite agree with you. I don't think you ought to breathe.
Topic V.--You demand that I shall show you the man whose
soul is dead and then mark him. I am awfully sorry; the
man was around here all day yesterday, and if I had only
known I could easily have marked him so that we could
pick him out again.
Topic VI.--I notice that you frequently say, "Oh, for
the sky of your native land." Oh, for it, by all means,
if you wish. But remember that you already owe for a
Topic VII.--On more than one occasion you wish to be
informed, "What boots it, that you idly dream?" Nothing
boots it at present--a fact, sir, which ought to afford
you the highest gratification.
The Force of Statistics
They were sitting on a seat of the car, immediately in
front of me. I was consequently able to hear all that
they were saying. They were evidently strangers who had
dropped into a conversation. They both had the air of
men who considered themselves profoundly interesting as
minds. It was plain that each laboured under the impression
that he was a ripe thinker.
One had just been reading a book which lay in his lap.
"I've been reading some very interesting statistics," he
was saying to the other thinker.
"Ah, statistics" said the other; "wonderful things, sir,
statistics; very fond of them myself."
"I find, for instance," the first man went on, "that a
drop of water is filled with little ...with little... I
forget just what you call them... little--er--things,
every cubic inch containing--er--containing... let me
"Say a million," said the other thinker, encouragingly.
"Yes, a million, or possibly a billion... but at any
rate, ever so many of them."
"Is it possible?" said the other. "But really, you know
there are wonderful things in the world. Now, coal...
"Very, good," said his friend, "let us take coal," settling
back in his seat with the air of an intellect about to
"Do you know that every ton of coal burnt in an engine
will drag a train of cars as long as... I forget the
exact length, but say a train of cars of such and such
a length, and weighing, say so much... from... from ...
hum! for the moment the exact distance escapes me... drag
"From here to the moon," suggested the other.
"Ah, very likely; yes, from here to the moon. Wonderful,
"But the most stupendous calculation of all, sir, is in
regard to the distance from the earth to the sun.
Positively, sir, a cannon-ball--er--fired at the sun..."
"Fired at the sun," nodded the other, approvingly, as if
he had often seen it done.
"And travelling at the rate of... of..."
"Of three cents a mile," hinted the listener.
"No, no, you misunderstand me,--but travelling at a
fearful rate, simply fearful, sir, would take a hundred
million--no, a hundred billion--in short would take a
scandalously long time in getting there--"
At this point I could stand no more. I interrupted--
"Provided it were fired from Philadelphia," I said, and
passed into the smoking-car.
Men Who have Shaved Me
A barber is by nature and inclination a sport. He can
tell you at what exact hour the ball game of the day is
to begin, can foretell its issue without losing a stroke
of the razor, and can explain the points of inferiority
of all the players, as compared with better men that he
has personally seen elsewhere, with the nicety of a
professional. He can do all this, and then stuff the
customer's mouth with a soap-brush, and leave him while
he goes to the other end of the shop to make a side bet
with one of the other barbers on the outcome of the Autumn
Handicap. In the barber-shops they knew the result of
the Jeffries-Johnson prize-fight long before it happened.
It is on information of this kind that they make their
living. The performance of shaving is only incidental to
it. Their real vocation in life is imparting information.
To the barber the outside world is made up of customers,
who are to be thrown into chairs, strapped, manacled,
gagged with soap, and then given such necessary information
on the athletic events of the moment as will carry them
through the business hours of the day without open
As soon as the barber has properly filled up the customer
with information of this sort, he rapidly removes his
whiskers as a sign that the man is now fit to talk to,
and lets him out of the chair.
The public has grown to understand the situation. Every
reasonable business man is willing to sit and wait half
an hour for a shave which he could give himself in three
minutes, because he knows that if he goes down town
without understanding exactly why Chicago lost two games
straight he will appear an ignoramus.
At times, of course, the barber prefers to test his
customer with a question or two. He gets him pinned in
the chair, with his head well back, covers the customer's
face with soap, and then planting his knee on his chest
and holding his hand firmly across the customer's mouth,
to prevent all utterance and to force him to swallow the
soap, he asks: "Well, what did you think of the Detroit-St.
Louis game yesterday?" This is not really meant for a
question at all. It is only equivalent to saying: "Now,
you poor fool, I'll bet you don't know anything about
the great events of your country at all." There is a
gurgle in the customer's throat as if he were trying to
answer, and his eyes are seen to move sideways, but the
barber merely thrusts the soap-brush into each eye, and
if any motion still persists, he breathes gin and peppermint
over the face, till all sign of life is extinct. Then he
talks the game over in detail with the barber at the next
chair, each leaning across an inanimate thing extended
under steaming towels that was once a man.
To know all these things barbers have to be highly
educated. It is true that some of the greatest barbers
that have ever lived have begun as uneducated, illiterate
men, and by sheer energy and indomitable industry have
forced their way to the front. But these are exceptions.
To succeed nowadays it is practically necessary to be a
college graduate. As the courses at Harvard and Yale have
been found too superficial, there are now established
regular Barbers' Colleges, where a bright young man can
learn as much in three weeks as he would be likely to
know after three years at Harvard. The courses at these
colleges cover such things as: (1) Physiology, including
Hair and its Destruction, The Origin and Growth of
Whiskers, Soap in its Relation to Eyesight; (2) Chemistry,
including lectures on Florida Water; and How to Make it
out of Sardine Oil; (3) Practical Anatomy, including The
Scalp and How to Lift it, The Ears and How to Remove
them, and, as the Major Course for advanced students,
The Veins of the Face and how to open and close them at
will by the use of alum.
The education of the customer is, as I have said, the
chief part of the barber's vocation. But it must be
remembered that the incidental function of removing his
whiskers in order to mark him as a well-informed man is
also of importance, and demands long practice and great
natural aptitude. In the barbers' shops of modern cities
shaving has been brought to a high degree of perfection.
A good barber is not content to remove the whiskers of
his client directly and immediately. He prefers to cook
him first. He does this by immersing the head in hot
water and covering the victim's face with steaming towels
until he has him boiled to a nice pink. From time to time
the barber removes the towels and looks at the face to
see if it is yet boiled pink enough for his satisfaction.
If it is not, he replaces the towels again and jams them
down firmly with his hand until the cooking is finished.
The final result, however, amply justifies this trouble,
and the well-boiled customer only needs the addition of
a few vegetables on the side to present an extremely
During the process of the shave, it is customary for the
barber to apply the particular kind of mental torture
known as the third degree. This is done by terrorizing
the patient as to the very evident and proximate loss
of all his hair and whiskers, which the barber is enabled
by his experience to foretell. "Your hair," he says, very
sadly and sympathetically, "is all falling out. Better
let me give you a shampoo?" "No." "Let me singe your hair
to close up the follicles?" "No." "Let me plug up the
ends of your hair with sealing-wax, it's the only thing
that will save it for you?" "No." "Let me rub an egg
on your scalp?" "No." "Let me squirt a lemon on your
The barber sees that he is dealing with a man of
determination, and he warms to his task. He bends low
and whispers into the prostrate ear: "You've got a good
many grey hairs coming in; better let me give you an
application of Hairocene, only cost you half a dollar?"
"No." "Your face," he whispers again, with a soft,
caressing voice, "is all covered with wrinkles; better
let me rub some of this Rejuvenator into the face."
This process is continued until one of two things happens.
Either the customer is obdurate, and staggers to his feet
at last and gropes his way out of the shop with the
knowledge that he is a wrinkled, prematurely senile man,
whose wicked life is stamped upon his face, and whose
unstopped hair-ends and failing follicles menace him with
the certainty of complete baldness within twenty-four
hours--or else, as in nearly all instances, he succumbs.
In the latter case, immediately on his saying "yes" there
is a shout of exultation from the barber, a roar of
steaming water, and within a moment two barbers have
grabbed him by the feet and thrown him under the tap,
and, in spite of his struggles, are giving him the
Hydro-magnetic treatment. When he emerges from their
hands, he steps out of the shop looking as if he had been
But even the application of the Hydro-magnetic and the
Rejuvenator do not by any means exhaust the resources of
the up-to-date barber. He prefers to perform on the
customer a whole variety of subsidiary services not
directly connected with shaving, but carried on during
the process of the shave.
In a good, up-to-date shop, while one man is shaving the
customer, others black his boots; brush his clothes, darn
his socks, point his nails, enamel his teeth, polish his
eyes, and alter the shape of any of his joints which they
think unsightly. During this operation they often stand
seven or eight deep round a customer, fighting for a
chance to get at him.
All of these remarks apply to barber-shops in the city,
and not to country places. In the country there is only
one barber and one customer at a time. The thing assumes
the aspect of a straight-out, rough-and-tumble, catch-
as-catch-can fight, with a few spectators sitting round
the shop to see fair play. In the city they can shave a
man without removing any of his clothes. But in the
country, where the customer insists on getting the full
value for his money, they remove the collar and necktie,
the coat and the waistcoat, and, for a really good shave
and hair-cut, the customer is stripped to the waist. The
barber can then take a rush at him from the other side
of the room, and drive the clippers up the full length
of the spine, so as to come at the heavier hair on the
back of the head with the impact of a lawn-mower driven
into long grass.
Getting the Thread of It
Have you ever had a man try to explain to you what happened
in a book as far as he has read? It is a most instructive
thing. Sinclair, the man who shares my rooms with me,
made such an attempt the other night. I had come in cold
and tired from a walk and found him full of excitement,
with a bulky magazine in one hand and a paper-cutter
gripped in the other.
"Say, here's a grand story," he burst out as soon as I
came in; "it's great! most fascinating thing I ever read.
Wait till I read you some of it. I'll just tell you what
has happened up to where I am--you'll easily catch the
thread of it--and then we'll finish it together."
I wasn't feeling in a very responsive mood, but I saw no
way to stop him, so I merely said, "All right, throw me
your thread, I'll catch it."
"Well," Sinclair began with great animation, "this count
gets this letter..."
"Hold on," I interrupted, "what count gets what letter?"
"Oh, the count it's about, you know. He gets this letter
from this Porphirio."
"From which Porphirio?"
"Why, Porphirio sent the letter, don't you see, he sent
it," Sinclair exclaimed a little impatiently--"sent it
through Demonio and told him to watch for him with him,
and kill him when he got him."
"Oh, see here!" I broke in, "who is to meet who, and who
is to get stabbed?"
"They're going to stab Demonio."
"And who brought the letter?"
"Well, now, Demonio must be a clam! What did he bring it
"Oh, but he don't know what's in it that's just the slick
part of it," and Sinclair began to snigger to himself at
the thought of it. "You see, this Carlo Carlotti the
"Stop right there," I said. "What's a Condottiere?"
"It's a sort of brigand. He, you understand, was in league
with this Fra Fraliccolo..."
A suspicion flashed across my mind. "Look here," I said
firmly, "if the scene of this story is laid in the
Highlands, I refuse to listen to it. Call it off."
"No, no," Sinclair answered quickly, "that's all right.
It's laid in Italy... time of Pius the something. He
comes in--say, but he's great! so darned crafty. It's
him, you know, that persuades this Franciscan..."
"Pause," I said, "what Franciscan?"
"Fra Fraliccolo, of course," Sinclair said snappishly.
"You see, Pio tries to..."
"Whoa!" I said, "who is Pio?"
"Oh, hang it all, Pio is Italian, it's short for Pius.
He tries to get Fra Fraliccolo and Carlo Carlotti the
Condottiere to steal the document from... let me see;
what was he called?... Oh, yes... from the Dog of Venice,
so that... or... no, hang it, you put me out, that's all
wrong. It's the other way round. Pio wasn't clever at
all; he's a regular darned fool. It's the Dog that's
crafty. By Jove, he's fine," Sinclair went on; warming
up to enthusiasm again, "he just does anything he wants.
He makes this Demonio (Demonio is one of those hirelings,
you know, he's the tool of the Dog)... makes him steal
the document off Porphirio, and..."
"But how does he get him to do that?" I asked.
"Oh, the Dog has Demonio pretty well under his thumb, so
he makes Demonio scheme round till he gets old Pio--er--gets
him under his thumb, and then, of course, Pio thinks that
Porphirio--I mean he thinks that he has Porphirio--er--has
him under his thumb."
"Half a minute, Sinclair," I said, "who did you say was
under the Dog's thumb?"
"Thanks. I was mixed in the thumbs. Go on."
"Well, just when things are like this..."
"Like I said."
"Who should turn up and thwart the whole scheme, but this
Signorina Tarara in her domino..."
"Hully Gee!" I said, "you make my head ache. What the
deuce does she come in her domino for?"