Part 5 out of 6
MR. MARK TWAIN,--Learning with profound regret that you have concluded to
postpone your departure until the 6th July, and learning also, with
unspeakable grief, that you propose to read from your forthcoming book,
or lecture again before you go, at the New Mercantile Library, we hasten
to beg of you that you will not do it. Curb this spirit of lawless
violence, and emigrate at once. Have the vessel's bill for your passage
sent to us. We will pay it.
Pacific Board of Brokers [and
other financial and social
SAN FRANCISCO, June 30th.
MR. MARK TWAIN--DEAR SIR,--Will you start now, without any unnecessary
Proprietors of the Alta,
Bulletin, Times, Call, Examiner
[and other San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO, June 30th.
MR. MARK TWAIN--DEAR SIR,--Do not delay your departure. You can come
back and lecture another time. In the language of the worldly--you can
"cut and come again."
SAN FRANCISCO, June 3oth.
MR. MARK TWAIN--DEAR SIR,--You had better go.
THE CHIEF OF POLICE.
SAN FRANCISCO, June 30th.
GENTLEMEN,--Restrain your emotions; you observe that they cannot avail.
NEW MERCANTILE LIBRARY
Thursday Evening, July 2, 1868
One Night Only
The Oldest of the Republics
PAST AND PRESENT
Box-Office open Wednesday and Thursday
No extra charge for reserved seats
ADMISSION . . . . . . . . . . . ONE DOLLAR
Doors open at 7 Orgies to commence at 8 P. M.
The public displays and ceremonies projected to give fitting eclat
to this occasion have been unavoidably delayed until the 4th. The
lecture will be delivered certainly on the 2d, and the event will be
celebrated two days afterward by a discharge of artillery on the
4th, a procession of citizens, the reading of the Declaration of
Independence, and by a gorgeous display of fireworks from Russian
Hill in the evening, which I have ordered at my sole expense, the
cost amounting to eighty thousand dollars.
AT NEW MERCANTILE LIBRARY
Thursday Evening, July 2, 1868
MARK TWAIN'S CHAMPIONSHIP OF THOMAS K. BEECHER
(See Chapter lxxiv)
There was a religious turmoil in Elmira in 1869; a disturbance among the
ministers, due to the success of Thomas K. Beecher in a series of
meetings he was conducting in the Opera House. Mr. Beecher's teachings
had never been very orthodox or doctrinal, but up to this time they had
been seemingly unobjectionable to his brother clergymen, who fraternized
with him and joined with him in the Monday meetings of the Ministerial
Union of Elmira, when each Monday a sermon was read by one of the
members. The situation presently changed. Mr. Beecher was preaching his
doubtful theology to large and nightly increasing audiences, and it was
time to check the exodus. The Ministerial Union of Elmira not only
declined to recognize and abet the Opera House gatherings, but they
requested him to withdraw from their Monday meetings, on the ground that
his teachings were pernicious. Mr. Beecher said nothing of the matter,
and it was not made public until a notice of it appeared in a religious
paper. Naturally such a course did not meet with the approval of the
Langdon family, and awoke the scorn of a man who so detested bigotry in
any form as Mark Twain. He was a stranger in the place, and not
justified to speak over his own signature, but he wrote an article and
read it to members of the Langdon family and to Dr. and Mrs. Taylor,
their intimate friends, who were spending an evening in the Langdon home.
It was universally approved, and the next morning appeared in the Elmira
Advertiser, over the signature of "S'cat." It created a stir, of course.
The article follows:
MR. BEECHER AND THE CLERGY
"The Ministerial Union of Elmira, N. Y., at a recent meeting passed
resolutions disapproving the teachings of Rev. T. K. Beecher, declining
to co-operate with him in his Sunday evening services at the Opera House,
and requesting him to withdraw from their Monday morning meeting. This
has resulted in his withdrawal, and thus the pastors are relieved from
further responsibility as to his action."--N. Y. Evangelist.
Poor Beecher! All this time he could do whatever he pleased that was
wrong, and then be perfectly serene and comfortable over it, because the
Ministerial Union of Elmira was responsible to God for it. He could lie
if he wanted to, and those ministers had to answer for it; he could
promote discord in the church of Christ, and those parties had to make it
right with the Deity as best they could; he could teach false doctrines
to empty opera houses, and those sorrowing lambs of the Ministerial Union
had to get out their sackcloth and ashes and stand responsible for it.
He had such a comfortable thing of it! But he went too far. In an evil
hour he slaughtered the simple geese that laid the golden egg of
responsibility for him, and now they will uncover their customary
complacency, and lift up their customary cackle in his behalf no more.
And so, at last, he finds himself in the novel position of being
responsible to God for his acts, instead of to the Ministerial Union of
Elmira. To say that this is appalling is to state it with a degree of
mildness which amounts to insipidity.
We cannot justly estimate this calamity, without first reviewing certain
facts that conspired to bring it about. Mr. Beecher was and is in the
habit of preaching to a full congregation in the Independent
Congregational Church, in this city. The meeting-house was not large
enough to accommodate all the people who desired admittance. Mr. Beecher
regularly attended the meetings of the Ministerial Union of Elmira every
Monday morning, and they received him into their fellowship, and never
objected to the doctrines which he taught in his church. So, in an
unfortunate moment, he conceived the strange idea that they would connive
at the teaching of the same doctrines in the same way in a larger house.
Therefore he secured the Opera House and proceeded to preach there every
Sunday evening to assemblages comprising from a thousand to fifteen
hundred persons. He felt warranted in this course by a passage of
Scripture which says, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel
unto every creature." Opera-houses were not ruled out specifically in
this passage, and so he considered it proper to regard opera-houses as a
part of "all the world." He looked upon the people who assembled there
as coming under the head of "every creature." These ideas were as absurd
as they were farfetched, but still they were the honest ebullitions of a
diseased mind. His great mistake was in supposing that when he had the
Saviour's indorsement of his conduct he had all that was necessary. He
overlooked the fact that there might possibly be a conflict of opinion
between the Saviour and the Ministerial Union of Elmira. And there was.
Wherefore, blind and foolish Mr. Beecher went to his destruction. The
Ministerial Union withdrew their approbation, and left him dangling in
the air, with no other support than the countenance and approval of the
gospel of Christ.
Mr. Beecher invited his brother ministers to join forces with him and
help him conduct the Opera House meetings. They declined with great
unanimity. In this they were wrong. Since they did not approve of those
meetings, it was a duty they owed to their consciences and their God to
contrive their discontinuance. They knew this. They felt it. Yet they
turned coldly away and refused to help at those meetings, when they well
knew that their help, earnestly and persistently given, was able to kill
any great religious enterprise that ever was conceived of.
The ministers refused, and the calamitous meetings at the Opera House
continued; and not only continued, but grew in interest and importance,
and sapped of their congregations churches where the Gospel was preached
with that sweet monotonous tranquillity and that impenetrable profundity
which stir up such consternation in the strongholds of sin. It is a pity
to have to record here that one clergyman refused to preach at the Opera
House at Mr. Beecher's request, even when that incendiary was sick and
disabled; and if that man's conscience justifies him in that refusal I do
not. Under the plea of charity for a sick brother he could have preached
to that Opera House multitude a sermon that would have done incalculable
damage to the Opera House experiment. And he need not have been
particular about the sermon he chose, either. He could have relied on
any he had in his barrel.
The Opera House meetings went on; other congregations were thin, and grew
thinner, but the Opera House assemblages were vast. Every Sunday night,
in spite of sense and reason, multitudes passed by the churches where
they might have been saved, and marched deliberately to the Opera House
to be damned. The community talked, talked, talked. Everybody discussed
the fact that the Ministerial Union disapproved of the Opera House
meetings; also the fact that they disapproved of the teachings put forth
there. And everybody wondered how the Ministerial Union could tell
whether to approve or disapprove of those teachings, seeing that those
clergymen had never attended an Opera House meeting, and therefore didn't
know what was taught there. Everybody wondered over that curious
question, and they had to take it out in wondering.
Mr. Beecher asked the Ministerial Union to state their objections to the
Opera House matter. They could not--at least they did not. He said to
them that if they would come squarely out and tell him that they desired
the discontinuance of those meetings he would discontinue them. They
declined to do that. Why should they have declined? They had no right
to decline, and no excuse to decline, if they honestly believed that
those meetings interfered in the slightest degree with the best interests
of religion. (That is a proposition which the profoundest head among
them cannot get around.)
But the Opera House meetings went on. That was the mischief of it. And
so, one Monday morning, when Mr. B. appeared at the usual Ministers'
meeting, his brother clergymen desired him to come there no more. He
asked why. They gave no reason. They simply declined to have his
company longer. Mr. B. said he could not accept of this execution
without a trial, and since he loved them and had nothing against them he
must insist upon meeting with them in the future just the same as ever.
And so, after that, they met in secret, and thus got rid of this man's
The Ministerial Union had ruled out Beecher--a point gained. He would
get up an excitement about it in public. But that was a miscalculation.
He never mentioned it. They waited and waited for the grand crash, but
it never came. After all their labor-pains, their ministerial mountain
had brought forth only a mouse--and a still-born one at that. Beecher
had not told on them; Beecher malignantly persisted in not telling on
them. The opportunity was slipping away. Alas, for the humiliation of
it, they had to come out and tell it themselves! And after all, their
bombshell did not hurt anybody when they did explode it. They had ceased
to be responsible to God for Beecher, and yet nobody seemed paralyzed
about it. Somehow, it was not even of sufficient importance, apparently,
to get into the papers, though even the poor little facts that Smith has
bought a trotting team and Alderman Jones's child has the measles are
chronicled there with avidity. Something must be done. As the
Ministerial Union had told about their desolating action, when nobody
else considered it of enough importance to tell, they would also publish
it, now that the reporters failed to see anything in it important enough
to print. And so they startled the entire religious world no doubt by
solemnly printing in the Evangelist the paragraph which heads this
article. They have got their excommunication-bull started at last. It
is going along quite lively now, and making considerable stir, let us
hope. They even know it in Podunk, wherever that may be. It excited a
two-line paragraph there. Happy, happy world, that knows at last that a
little congress of congregationless clergymen of whom it had never heard
before have crushed a famous Beecher, and reduced his audiences from
fifteen hundred down to fourteen hundred and seventy-five at one fell
blow! Happy, happy world, that knows at last that these obscure
innocents are no longer responsible for the blemishless teachings, the
power, the pathos, the logic, and the other and manifold intellectual
pyrotechnics that seduce, but to damn, the Opera House assemblages every
Sunday night in Elmira! And miserable, O thrice miserable Beecher! For
the Ministerial Union of Elmira will never, no, never more be responsible
to God for his shortcomings. (Excuse these tears.)
(For the protection of a man who is uniformly charged with all the
newspaper deviltry that sees the light in Elmira journals, I take this
opportunity of stating, under oath, duly subscribed before a magistrate,
that Mr. Beecher did not write this article. And further still, that he
did not inspire it. And further still, the Ministerial Union of Elmira
did not write it. And finally, the Ministerial Union did not ask me to
write it. No, I have taken up this cudgel in defense of the Ministerial
Union of Elmira solely from a love of justice. Without solicitation, I
have constituted myself the champion of the Ministerial Union of Elmira,
and it shall be a labor of love with me to conduct their side of a
quarrel in print for them whenever they desire me to do it; or if they
are busy, and have not the time to ask me, I will cheerfully do it
anyhow. In closing this I must remark that if any question the right of
the clergymen of Elmira to turn Mr. Beecher out of the Ministerial Union,
to such I answer that Mr. Beecher recreated that institution after it had
been dead for many years, and invited those gentlemen to come into it,
which they did, and so of course they have a right to turn him out if
they want to. The difference between Beecher and the man who put an
adder in his bosom is, that Beecher put in more adders than he did, and
consequently had a proportionately livelier time of it when they got
THE INDIGNITY PUT UPON THE REMAINS OF GEORGE HOLLAND BY THE
REV. MR. SABINE
(See Chapter lxxvii)
What a ludicrous satire it was upon Christian charity!--even upon the
vague, theoretical idea of it which doubtless this small saint mouths
from his own pulpit every Sunday. Contemplate this freak of nature, and
think what a Cardiff giant of self-righteousness is crowded into his
pigmy skin. If we probe, and dissect; and lay open this diseased, this
cancerous piety of his, we are forced to the conviction that it is the
production of an impression on his part that his guild do about all the
good that is done on the earth, and hence are better than common clay--
hence are competent to say to such as George Holland, "You are unworthy;
you are a play-actor, and consequently a sinner; I cannot take the
responsibility of recommending you to the mercy of Heaven." It must have
had its origin in that impression, else he would have thought, "We are
all instruments for the carrying out of God's purposes; it is not for me
to pass judgment upon your appointed share of the work, or to praise or
to revile it; I have divine authority for it that we are all sinners, and
therefore it is not for me to discriminate and say we will supplicate for
this sinner, for he was a merchant prince or a banker, but we will
beseech no forgiveness for this other one, for he was a play-actor."
It surely requires the furthest possible reach of self-righteousness to
enable a man to lift his scornful nose in the air and turn his back upon
so poor and pitiable a thing as a dead stranger come to beg the last
kindness that humanity can do in its behalf. This creature has violated
the letter of the Gospel, and judged George Holland--not George Holland,
either, but his profession through him. Then it is, in a measure, fair
that we judge this creature's guild through him. In effect he has said,
"We are the salt of the earth; we do all the good work that is done; to
learn how to be good and do good men must come to us; actors and such are
obstacles to moral progress." Pray look at the thing reasonably a
moment, laying aside all biases of education and custom. If a common
public impression is fair evidence of a thing then this minister's
legitimate, recognized, and acceptable business is to tell people calmly,
coldly, and in stiff, written sentences, from the pulpit, to go and do
right, be just, be merciful, be charitable. And his congregation forget
it all between church and home. But for fifty years it was George
Holland's business on the stage to make his audience go and do right, and
be just, merciful, and charitable--because by his living, breathing,
feeling pictures he showed them what it was to do these things, and how
to do them, and how instant and ample was the reward! Is it not a
singular teacher of men, this reverend gentleman who is so poorly
informed himself as to put the whole stage under ban, and say, "I do not
think it teaches moral lessons"? Where was ever a sermon preached that
could make filial ingratitude so hateful to men as the sinful play of
"King Lear"? Or where was there ever a sermon that could so convince men
of the wrong and the cruelty of harboring a pampered and unanalyzed
jealousy as the sinful play of "Othello"? And where are there ten
preachers who can stand in the pulpit preaching heroism, unselfish
devotion, and lofty patriotism, and hold their own against any one of
five hundred William Tells that can be raised upon five hundred stages in
the land at a day's notice? It is almost fair and just to aver (although
it is profanity) that nine-tenths of all the kindness and forbearance and
Christian charity and generosity in the hearts of the American people
today got there by being filtered down from their fountain-head, the
gospel of Christ, through dramas and tragedies and comedies on the stage,
and through the despised novel and the Christmas story, and through the
thousand and one lessons, suggestions, and narratives of generous deeds
that stir the pulses, and exalt and augment the nobility of the nation
day by day from the teeming columns of ten thousand newspapers, and not
from the drowsy pulpit.
All that is great and good in our particular civilization came straight
from the hand of Jesus Christ, and many creatures, and of divers sorts,
were doubtless appointed to disseminate it; and let us believe that this
seed and the result are the main thing, and not the cut of the sower's
garment; and that whosoever, in his way and according to his opportunity,
sows the one and produces the other, has done high service and worthy.
And further, let us try with all our strength to believe that whenever
old simple-hearted George Holland sowed this seed, and reared his crop of
broader charities and better impulses in men's hearts, it was just as
acceptable before the Throne as if the seed had been scattered in vapid
platitudes from the pulpit of the ineffable Sabine himself.
Am I saying that the pulpit does not do its share toward disseminating
the marrow, the meat of the gospel of Christ? (For we are not talking of
ceremonies and wire-drawn creeds now, but the living heart and soul of
what is pretty often only a specter.)
No, I am not saying that. The pulpit teaches assemblages of people twice
a week nearly two hours altogether--and does what it can in that time.
The theater teaches large audiences seven times a week--28 or 30 hours
altogether--and the novels and newspapers plead, and argue, and
illustrate, stir, move, thrill, thunder, urge, persuade, and supplicate,
at the feet of millions and millions of people every single day, and all
day long and far into the night; and so these vast agencies till nine-
tenths of the vineyard, and the pulpit tills the other tenth. Yet now
and then some complacent blind idiot says, "You unanointed are coarse
clay and useless; you are not as we, the regenerators of the world; go,
bury yourselves elsewhere, for we cannot take the responsibility of
recommending idlers and sinners to the yearning mercy of Heaven." How
does a soul like that stay in a carcass without getting mixed with the
secretions and sweated out through the pores? Think of this insect
condemning the whole theatrical service as a disseminator of bad morals
because it has Black Crooks in it; forgetting that if that were
sufficient ground people would condemn the pulpit because it had Crooks
and Kallochs and Sabines in it!
No, I am not trying to rob the pulpit of any atom of its full share and
credit in the work of disseminating the meat and marrow of the gospel of
Christ; but I am trying to get a moment's hearing for worthy agencies in
the same work, that with overwrought modesty seldom or never claim a
recognition of their great services. I am aware that the pulpit does its
excellent one-tenth (and credits itself with it now and then, though most
of the time a press of business causes it to forget it); I am aware that
in its honest and well-meaning way it bores the people with uninflammable
truisms about doing good; bores them with correct compositions on
charity; bores them, chloroforms them, stupefies them with argumentative
mercy without a flaw in the grammar or an emotion which the minister
could put in in the right place if he turned his back and took his finger
off the manuscript. And in doing these things the pulpit is doing its
duty, and let us believe that it is likewise doing its best, and doing it
in the most harmless and respectable way. And so I have said, and shall
keep on saying, let us give the pulpit its full share of credit in
elevating and ennobling the people; but when a pulpit takes to itself
authority to pass judgment upon the work and worth of just as legitimate
an instrument of God as itself, who spent a long life preaching from the
stage the selfsame gospel without the alteration of a single sentiment or
a single axiom of right, it is fair and just that somebody who believes
that actors were made for a high and good purpose, and that they
accomplish the object of their creation and accomplish it well, should
protest. And having protested, it is also fair and just--being driven to
it, as it were--to whisper to the Sabine pattern of clergyman, under the
breath, a simple, instructive truth, and say, "Ministers are not the only
servants of God upon earth, nor his most efficient ones, either, by a
very, very long distance!" Sensible ministers already know this, and it
may do the other kind good to find it out.
But to cease teaching and go back to the beginning again, was it not
pitiable--that spectacle? Honored and honorable old George Holland,
whose theatrical ministry had for fifty years softened hard hearts, bred
generosity in cold ones, kindled emotion in dead ones, uplifted base
ones, broadened bigoted ones, and made many and many a stricken one glad
and filled it brimful of gratitude, figuratively spit upon in his
unoffending coffin by this crawling, slimy, sanctimonious, self-righteous
A SUBSTITUTE FOR RULOFF HAVE WE A SIDNEY CARTON AMONG US?
(See Chapter lxxxii)
To EDITOR of 'Tribune'.
SIR,--I believe in capital punishment. I believe that when a murder has
been done it should be answered for with blood. I have all my life been
taught to feel this way, and the fetters of education are strong. The
fact that the death--law is rendered almost inoperative by its very
severity does not alter my belief in its righteousness. The fact that in
England the proportion of executions to condemnations is one to sixteen,
and in this country only one to twenty-two, and in France only one to
thirty-eight, does not shake my steadfast confidence in the propriety of
retaining the death-penalty. It is better to hang one murderer in
sixteen, twenty-two, thirty-eight than not to hang any at all.
Feeling as I do, I am not sorry that Ruloff is to be hanged, but I am
sincerely sorry that he himself has made it necessary that his vast
capabilities for usefulness should be lost to the world. In this, mine
and the public's is a common regret. For it is plain that in the person
of Ruloff one of the most marvelous of intellects that any age has
produced is about to be sacrificed, and that, too, while half the mystery
of its strange powers is yet a secret. Here is a man who has never
entered the doors of a college or a university, and yet by the sheer
might of his innate gifts has made himself such a colossus in abstruse
learning that the ablest of our scholars are but pigmies in his presence.
By the evidence of Professor Mather, Mr. Surbridge, Mr. Richmond, and
other men qualified to testify, this man is as familiar with the broad
domain of philology as common men are with the passing events of the day.
His memory has such a limitless grasp that he is able to quote sentence
after sentence, paragraph after paragraph, chapter after chapter, from a
gnarled and knotty ancient literature that ordinary scholars are capable
of achieving little more than a bowing acquaintance with. But his memory
is the least of his great endowments. By the testimony of the gentlemen
above referred to he is able to critically analyze the works of the old
masters of literature, and while pointing out the beauties of the
originals with a pure and discriminating taste is as quick to detect the
defects of the accepted translations; and in the latter case, if
exceptions be taken to his judgment, he straightway opens up the quarries
of his exhaustless knowledge, and builds a very Chinese wall of evidence
around his position. Every learned man who enters Ruloff's presence
leaves it amazed and confounded by his prodigious capabilities and
attainments. One scholar said he did not believe that in matters of
subtle analysis, vast knowledge in his peculiar field of research,
comprehensive grasp of subject, and serene kingship over its limitless
and bewildering details, any land or any era of modern times had given
birth to Ruloff's intellectual equal. What miracles this murderer might
have wrought, and what luster he might have shed upon his country, if he
had not put a forfeit upon his life so foolishly! But what if the law
could be satisfied, and the gifted criminal still be saved. If a life be
offered up on the gallows to atone for the murder Ruloff did, will that
suffice? If so, give me the proofs, for in all earnestness and truth I
aver that in such a case I will instantly bring forward a man who, in the
interests of learning and science, will take Ruloff's crime upon himself,
and submit to be hanged in Ruloff's place. I can, and will do this
thing; and I propose this matter, and make this offer in good faith. You
know me, and know my address.
April 29, 1871.
ADDRESS AT A DINNER GIVEN BY THE SAVAGE CLUB, LONDON, SEPTEMBER 28, 1872
(See Chapter lxxxvii)
Reported by Moncure D. Conway in the Cincinnati Commercial
It affords me sincere pleasure to meet this distinguished club, a club
which has extended its hospitalities and its cordial welcome to so many
of my countrymen. I hope [and here the speaker's voice became low and
fluttering] you will excuse these clothes. I am going to the theater;
that will explain these clothes. I have other clothes than these.
Judging human nature by what I have seen of it, I suppose that the
customary thing for a stranger to do when he stands here is to make a pun
on the name of this club, under the impression, of course, that he is the
first man that that idea has occurred to. It is a credit to our human
nature, not a blemish upon it; for it shows that underlying all our
depravity (and God knows and you know we are depraved enough) and all our
sophistication, and untarnished by them, there is a sweet germ of
innocence and simplicity still. When a stranger says to me, with a glow
of inspiration in his eye, some gentle, innocuous little thing about
"Twain and one flesh" and all that sort of thing, I don't try to crush
that man into the earth--no. I feel like saying, "Let me take you by the
hand, sir; let me embrace you; I have not heard that pun for weeks." We
will deal in palpable puns. We will call parties named King "your
Majesty" and we will say to the Smiths that we think we have heard that
name before somewhere. Such is human nature. We cannot alter this. It
is God that made us so for some good and wise purpose. Let us not
repine. But though I may seem strange, may seem eccentric, I mean to
refrain from punning upon the name of this club, though I could make a
very good one if I had time to think about it--a week.
I cannot express to you what entire enjoyment I find in this first visit
to this prodigious metropolis of yours. Its wonders seem to me to be
limitless. I go about as in a dream--as in a realm of enchantment--where
many things are rare and beautiful, and all things are strange and
marvelous. Hour after hour I stand--I stand spellbound, as it were-and
gaze upon the statuary in Leicester Square. [Leicester Square being a
horrible chaos, with the relic of an equestrian statue in the center, the
king being headless and limbless, and the horse in little better
condition.] I visit the mortuary effigies of noble old Henry VIII., and
Judge Jeffreys, and the preserved gorilla, and try to make up my mind
which of my ancestors I admire the most. I go to that matchless Hyde
Park and drive all around it, and then I start to enter it at the Marble
Arch--and am induced to "change my mind." [Cabs are not permitted in
Hyde Park--nothing less aristocratic than a private carriage.] It is a
great benefaction--is Hyde Park. There, in his hansom cab, the invalid
can go--the poor, sad child of misfortune--and insert his nose between
the railings, and breathe the pure, health-giving air of the country and
of heaven. And if he is a swell invalid who isn't obliged to depend upon
parks for his country air he can drive inside--if he owns his vehicle.
I drive round and round Hyde Park and the more I see of the edges of it
the more grateful I am that the margin is extensive.
And I have been to the Zoological Gardens. What a wonderful place that
is! I have never seen such a curious and interesting variety of wild-
animals in any garden before--except Mabille. I never believed before
there were so many different kinds of animals in the world as you can
find there--and I don't believe it yet. I have been to the British
Museum. I would advise you to drop in there some time when you have
nothing to do for--five minutes--if you have never been there. It seems
to me the noblest monument this nation has, yet erected to her greatness.
I say to her, our greatness--as a nation. True, she has built other
monuments, and stately ones, as well; but these she has uplifted in honor
of two or three colossal demigods who have stalked across the world's
stage, destroying tyrants and delivering nations, and whose prodigies
will still live in the memories of men ages after their monuments shall
have crumbled to dust--I refer to the Wellington and Nelson monuments,
and--the Albert memorial. [Sarcasm. The Albert memorial is the finest
monument in the world, and celebrates the existence of as commonplace a
person as good luck ever lifted out of obscurity.]
The Library at the British Museum I find particularly astounding. I have
read there hours together, and hardly made an impression on it. I revere
that library. It is the author's friend. I don't care how mean a book
is, it always takes one copy. [A copy of every book printed in Great
Britain must by law be sent to the British Museum, a law much complained
of by publishers.] And then every day that author goes there to gaze at
that book, and is encouraged to go on in the good work. And what a
touching sight it is of a Saturday afternoon to see the poor, careworn
clergymen gathered together in that vast reading-room cabbaging sermons
for Sunday! You will pardon my referring to these things. Everything in
this monster city interests me, and I cannot keep from talking, even at
the risk of being instructive. People here seem always to express
distances by parables. To a stranger it is just a little confusing to be
so parabolic--so to speak. I collar a citizen, and I think I am going to
get some valuable information out of him. I ask him how far it is to
Birmingham, and he says it is twenty-one shillings and sixpence. Now we
know that doesn't help a man who is trying to learn. I find myself down-
town somewhere, and I want to get some sort of idea where I am--being
usually lost when alone--and I stop a citizen and say, "How far is it to
Charing Cross?" "Shilling fare in a cab," and off he goes. I suppose if
I were to ask a Londoner how far it is from the sublime to the ridiculous
he would try to express it in a coin. But I am trespassing upon your
time with these geological statistics and historical reflections. I will
not longer keep you from your orgies. 'Tis a real pleasure for me to be
here, and I thank you for it. The name of the Savage Club is associated
in my mind with the kindly interest and the friendly offices which you
lavished upon an old friend of mine who came among you a stranger, and
you opened your English hearts to him and gave him a welcome and a home--
Artemus Ward. Asking that you will join me, I give you his Memory.
LETTER WRITTEN TO MRS. CLEMENS FROM BOSTON, NOVEMBER, 1874, PROPHESYING A
MONARCHY IN SIXTY-ONE YEARS
(See Chapter xcvii)
BOSTON, November 16, 1935.
DEAR LIVY,--You observe I still call this beloved old place by the name
it had when I was young. Limerick! It is enough to make a body sick.
The gentlemen-in-waiting stare to see me sit here telegraphing this
letter to you, and no doubt they are smiling in their sleeves. But let
them! The slow old fashions are good enough for me, thank God, and I
will none other. When I see one of these modern fools sit absorbed,
holding the end of a telegraph wire in his hand, and reflect that a
thousand miles away there is another fool hitched to the other end of it,
it makes me frantic with rage; and then I am more implacably fixed and
resolved than ever to continue taking twenty minutes to telegraph you
what I might communicate in ten seconds by the new way if I would so
debase myself. And when I see a whole silent, solemn drawing-room full
of idiots sitting with their hands on each other's foreheads "communing"
I tug the white hairs from my head and curse till my asthma brings me the
blessed relief of suffocation. In our old day such a gathering talked
pure drivel and "rot," mostly, but better that, a thousand times, than
these dreary conversational funerals that oppress our spirits in this mad
It is sixty years since I was here before. I walked hither then with my
precious old friend. It seems incredible now that we did it in two days,
but such is my recollection. I no longer mention that we walked back in
a single day, it makes me so furious to see doubt in the face of the
hearer. Men were men in those old times. Think of one of the puerile
organisms in this effeminate age attempting such a feat.
My air-ship was delayed by a collision with a fellow from China loaded
with the usual cargo of jabbering, copper-colored missionaries, and so I
was nearly an hour on my journey. But by the goodness of God thirteen of
the missionaries were crippled and several killed, so I was content to
lose the time. I love to lose time anyway because it brings soothing
reminiscences of the creeping railroad days of old, now lost to us
Our game was neatly played, and successfully. None expected us, of
course. You should have seen the guards at the ducal palace stare when I
said, "Announce his Grace the Archbishop of Dublin and the Right
Honorable the Earl of Hartford." Arrived within, we were all eyes to see
the Duke of Cambridge and his Duchess, wondering if we might remember
their faces and they ours. In a moment they came tottering in; he, bent
and withered and bald; she, blooming with wholesome old age. He peered
through his glasses a moment, then screeched in a reedy voice, "Come to
my arms! Away with titles--I'll know ye by no names but Twain and
Twichell!" Then fell he on our necks and jammed his trumpet in his ear,
the which we filled with shoutings to this effect: "God bless you, old
Howells, what is left of you!"
We talked late that night--none of your silent idiot "communings" for us
--of the olden time. We rolled a stream of ancient anecdotes over our
tongues and drank till the Lord Archbishop grew so mellow in the mellow
past that Dublin ceased to be Dublin to him, and resumed its sweeter,
forgotten name of New York. In truth he almost got back into his ancient
religion, too, good Jesuit as he has always been since O'Mulligan the
First established that faith in the empire.
And we canvassed everybody. Bailey Aldrich, Marquis of Ponkapog, came
in, got nobly drunk, and told us all about how poor Osgood lost his
earldom and was hanged for conspiring against the second Emperor; but he
didn't mention how near he himself came to being hanged, too, for
engaging in the same enterprise. He was as chaffy as he was sixty years
ago, too, and swore the Archbishop and I never walked to Boston; but
there was never a day that Ponkapog wouldn't lie, so be it by the grace
of God he got the opportunity.
The Lord High Admiral came in, a hale gentleman close upon seventy and
bronzed by the suns and storms of many climes and scarred by the wounds
got in many battles, and I told him how I had seen him sit in a high-
chair and eat fruit and cakes and answer to the name of Johnny. His
granddaughter (the eldest) is but lately married to the youngest of the
Grand Dukes, and so who knows but a day may come when the blood of the
Howellses may reign in the land? I must not forget to say, while I think
of it, that your new false teeth are done, my dear, and your wig. Keep
your head well bundled with a shawl till the latter comes, and so cheat
your persecuting neuralgias and rheumatisms. Would you believe it?--the
Duchess of Cambridge is deafer than you--deafer than her husband. They
call her to breakfast with a salvo of artillery; and usually when it
thunders she looks up expectantly and says, "Come in." But she has
become subdued and gentle with age and never destroys the furniture now,
except when uncommonly vexed. God knows, my dear, it would be a happy
thing if you and old Lady Harmony would imitate this spirit. But indeed
the older you grow the less secure becomes the furniture. When I throw
chairs through the window I have sufficient reason to back it. But you--
you are but a creature of passion.
The monument to the author of 'Gloverson and His Silent Partners' is
finished.--[Ralph Keeler. See chap. lxxxiii.]--It is the stateliest
and the costliest ever erected to the memory of any man. This noble
classic has now been translated into all the languages of the earth and
is adored by all nations and known to all creatures. Yet I have
conversed as familiarly with the author of it as I do with my own great-
I wish you could see old Cambridge and Ponkapog. I love them as dearly
as ever, but privately, my dear, they are not much improvement on idiots.
It is melancholy to hear them jabber over the same pointless anecdotes
three and four times of an evening, forgetting that they had jabbered
them over three or four times the evening before. Ponkapog still writes
poetry, but the old-time fire has mostly gone out of it. Perhaps his
best effort of late years is this:
O soul, soul, soul of mine!
Soul, soul, soul of throe!
Thy soul, my soul, two souls entwine,
And sing thy lauds in crystal wine!
This he goes about repeating to everybody, daily and nightly, insomuch
that he is become a sore affliction to all that know him.
But I must desist. There are draughts here everywhere and my gout is
something frightful. My left foot hath resemblance to a snuff-bladder.
God be with you.
These to Lady Hartford, in the earldom of Hartford, in the
upper portion of the city of Dublin.
MARK TWAIN AND COPYRIGHT
Concerning Copyright (1875)
(See Chapter cii)
TO THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES IN
We, your petitioners, do respectfully represent as follows, viz.: That
justice, plain and simple, is a thing which right-feeling men stand ready
at all times to accord to brothers and strangers alike. All such men
will concede that it is but plain, simple justice that American authors
should be protected by copyright in Europe; also, that European authors
should be protected by copyright here.
Both divisions of this proposition being true, it behooves our government
to concern itself with that division of it which comes peculiarly within
its province--viz., the latter moiety--and to grant to foreign authors
with all convenient despatch a full and effective copyright in America
without marring the grace of the act by stopping to inquire whether a
similar justice will be done our own authors by foreign governments. If
it were even known that those governments would not extend this justice
to us it would still not justify us in withholding this manifest right
from their authors. If a thing is right it ought to be done--the thing
called "expediency" or "policy" has no concern with such a matter. And
we desire to repeat, with all respect, that it is not a grace or a
privilege we ask for our foreign brethren, but a right--a right received
from God, and only denied them by man. We hold no ownership in these
authors, and when we take their work from them, as at present, without
their consent, it is robbery. The fact that the handiwork of our own
authors is seized in the same way in foreign lands neither excuses nor
mitigates our sin.
With your permission we will say here, over our signatures, and earnestly
and sincerely, that we very greatly desire that you shall grant a full
copyright to foreign authors (the copyright fee for the entry in the
office of the Congressional Librarian to be the same as we pay
ourselves), and we also as greatly desire that this grant shall be made
without a single hampering stipulation that American authors shall
receive in turn an advantage of any kind from foreign governments.
Since no author who was applied to hesitated for a moment to append his
signature to this petition we are satisfied that if time had permitted we
could have procured the signature of every writer in the United States,
great and small, obscure or famous. As it is, the list comprises the
names of about all our writers whose works have at present a European
market, and who are therefore chiefly concerned in this matter.
No objection to our proposition can come from any reputable publisher
among us--or does come from such a quarter, as the appended signatures of
our greatest publishing firms will attest. A European copyright here
would be a manifest advantage to them. As the matter stands now the
moment they have thoroughly advertised a desirable foreign book, and thus
at great expense aroused public interest in it, some small-spirited
speculator (who has lain still in his kennel and spent nothing) rushes
the same book on the market and robs the respectable publisher of half
Then, since neither our authors nor the decent among our publishing firms
will object to granting an American copyright to foreign authors and
artists, who can there be to object? Surely nobody whose protest is
entitled to any weight.
Trusting in the righteousness of our cause we, your petitioners, will
ever pray, etc.
With great respect,
Your Ob't Serv'ts.
CIRCULAR TO AMERICAN AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS
DEAR SIR,--We believe that you will recognize the justice and the
righteousness of the thing we desire to accomplish through the
accompanying petition. And we believe that you will be willing that our
country shall be the first in the world to grant to all authors alike the
free exercise of their manifest right to do as they please with the fruit
of their own labor without inquiring what flag they live under. If the
sentiments of the petition meet your views, will you do us the favor to
sign it and forward it by post at your earliest convenience to our
Secretary of the Committee.
Communications supposed to have been written by the Tsar of Russia and
the Sultan of Turkey to Mark Twain on the subject of International
Copyright, about 1890.
ST. PETERSBURG, February.
COL. MARK TWAIN, Washington.
Your cablegram received. It should have been transmitted through my
minister, but let that pass. I am opposed to international copyright.
At present American literature is harmless here because we doctor it in
such a way as to make it approve the various beneficent devices which we
use to keep our people favorable to fetters as jewelry and pleased with
Siberia as a summer resort. But your bill would spoil this. We should
be obliged to let you say your say in your own way. 'Voila'! my empire
would be a republic in five years and I should be sampling Siberia
If you should run across Mr. Kennan--[George Kennan, who had graphically
pictured the fearful conditions of Siberian exile.]--please ask him to
come over and give some readings. I will take good care of him.
DR. MARK TWAIN, Washington.
Great Scott, no! By the beard of the Prophet, no! How can you ask such
a thing of me? I am a man of family. I cannot take chances, like other
people. I cannot let a literature come in here which teaches that a
man's wife is as good as the man himself. Such a doctrine cannot do any
particular harm, of course, where the man has only one wife, for then it
is a dead-level between them, and there is no humiliating inequality, and
no resulting disorder; but you take an extremely married person, like me,
and go to teaching that his wife is 964 times as good as he is, and
what's hell to that harem, dear friend? I never saw such a fool as you.
Do not mind that expression; I already regret it, and would replace it
with a softer one if I could do it without debauching the truth. I
beseech you, do not pass that bill. Roberts College is quite all the
American product we can stand just now. On top of that, do you want to
send us a flood of freedom-shrieking literature which we can't edit the
poison out of, but must let it go among our people just as it is? My
friend, we should be a republic inside of ten years.
MARK TWAIN'S LAST SUGGESTION ON COPYRIGHT
A MEMORIAL RESPECTFULLY TENDERED TO THE MEMBERS OF THE SENATE AND THE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
(Prepared early in 1909 at the suggestion of Mr. Champ Clack but not
offered. A bill adding fourteen years to the copyright period was passed
about this time.)
The Policy of Congress:--Nineteen or twenty years ago James Russell
Lowell, George Haven Putnam, and the under signed appeared before the
Senate Committee on Patents in the interest of Copyright. Up to that
time, as explained by Senator Platt, of Connecticut, the policy of
Congress had been to limit the life of a copyright by a term of years,
with one definite end in view, and only one--to wit, that after an author
had been permitted to enjoy for a reasonable length of time the income
from literary property created by his hand and brain the property should
then be transferred "to the public" as a free gift. That is still the
policy of Congress to-day.
The Purpose in View:--The purpose in view was clear: to so reduce the
price of the book as to bring it within the reach of all purses, and
spread it among the millions who had not been able to buy it while it was
still under the protection of copyright.
The Purpose Defeated:--This purpose has always been defeated. That is to
say, that while the death of a copyright has sometimes reduced the price
of a book by a half for a while, and in some cases by even more, it has
never reduced it vastly, nor accomplished any reduction that was
permanent and secure.
The Reason:--The reason is simple: Congress has never made a reduction
compulsory. Congress was convinced that the removal of the author's
royalty and the book's consequent (or at least probable) dispersal among
several competing publishers would make the book cheap by force of the
competition. It was an error. It has not turned out so. The reason is,
a publisher cannot find profit in an exceedingly cheap edition if he must
divide the market with competitors.
Proposed Remedy:--The natural remedy would seem to be, amended law
requiring the issue of cheap editions.
Copyright Extension:--I think the remedy could be accomplished in the
following way, without injury to author or publisher, and with extreme
advantage to the public: by an amendment to the existing law providing as
follows--to wit: that at any time between the beginning of a book's
forty-first year and the ending of its forty-second the owner of the
copyright may extend its life thirty years by issuing and placing on sale
an edition of the book at one-tenth the price of the cheapest edition
hitherto issued at any time during the ten immediately preceding years.
This extension to lapse and become null and void if at any time during
the thirty years he shall fail during the space of three consecutive
months to furnish the ten per cent. book upon demand of any person or
persons desiring to buy it.
The Result:--The result would be that no American classic enjoying the
thirty-year extension would ever be out of the reach of any American
purse, let its uncompulsory price be what it might. He would get a two-
dollar book for 20 cents, and he could get none but copyright-expired
classics at any such rate.
The Final Result:--At the end of the thirty-year extension the
copyright would again die, and the price would again advance. This by a
natural law, the excessively cheap edition no longer carrying with it an
advantage to any publisher.
Reconstruction of The Present Law Not Necessary:--A clause of the
suggested amendment could read about as follows, and would obviate the
necessity of taking the present law to pieces and building it over again:
All books and all articles enjoying forty-two years copyright-life
under the present law shall be admitted to the privilege of the
thirty-year extension upon complying with the condition requiring
the producing and placing upon permanent sale of one grade or form
of said book or article at a price of 90 per cent. below the
cheapest rate at which said book or article had been placed upon the
market at any time during the immediately preceding ten years.
If the suggested amendment shall meet with the favor of the present
Congress and become law--and I hope it will--I shall have personal
experience of its effects very soon. Next year, in fact, in the person
of my first book, 'The Innocents Abroad'. For its forty-two-year
copyright-life will then cease and its thirty-year extension begin--and
with the latter the permanent low-rate edition. At present the highest
price of the book is eight dollars, and its lowest price three dollars
per copy. Thus the permanent low rate will be thirty cents per copy. A
sweeping reduction like this is what Congress from the beginning has
desired to achieve, but has not been able to accomplish because no
inducement was offered to publishers to run the risk.
S. L. CLEMENS.
(A full and interesting elucidation of Mark Twain's views on Copyright
may be found in an article entitled "Concerning Copyright," published in
the North American Review for January, 1905.)
(See Chapter cxiv)
Address of Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) from a report of the
dinner given by the publishers of the Atlantic Monthly in honor of
the Seventieth Anniversary of the Birth of John Greenleaf Whittier,
at the Hotel Brunswick, Boston, December 17, 1877, as published in
the Boston Evening Transcript, December 18, 1877.
MR. CHAIRMAN, This is an occasion peculiarly meet for the digging up of
pleasant reminiscences concerning literary folk, therefore I will drop
lightly into history myself. Standing here on the shore of the Atlantic,
and contemplating certain of its largest literary billows, I am reminded
of a thing which happened to me thirteen years ago, when I had just
succeeded in stirring up a little Nevadian literary puddle myself, whose
spume-flakes were beginning to blow thinly California-ward. I started an
inspection tramp through the southern mines of California. I was callow
and conceited, and I resolved to try the virtue of my 'nom de guerre'.
I very soon had an opportunity. I knocked at a miner's lonely log cabin
in the foothills of the Sierras just at nightfall. It was snowing at the
time. A jaded, melancholy man of fifty, barefooted, opened the door to
me. When he heard my 'nom de guerre' he looked more dejected than
before. He let me in-pretty reluctantly, I thought--and after the
customary bacon and beans, black coffee and hot whisky, I took a pipe.
This sorrowful man had not said three words up to this time. Now he
spoke up and said, in the voice of one who is secretly suffering, "You're
the fourth--I'm going to move." "The fourth what?" said I. "The fourth
littery man that has been here in twenty-four hours--I'm going to move."
"You don't tell me!" said I; "who were the others?" "Mr. Longfellow.
Mr. Emerson, and Mr. Oliver Wendell Holmes--consound the lot!"
You can easily believe I was interested. I supplicated--three hot
whiskies did the rest--and finally the melancholy miner began. Said he:
"They came here just at dark yesterday evening, and I let them in, of
course. Said they were going to the Yosemite. They were a rough lot,
but that's nothing; everybody looks rough that travels afoot.
Mr. Emerson was a seedy little bit of a chap, red-headed. Mr. Holmes was
as fat as a balloon; he weighed as much as three hundered, and had double
chins all the way down to his stomach. Mr. Longfellow was built like a
prize-fighter. His head was cropped and bristly, like as if he had a wig
made of hair-brushes. His nose lay straight down in his face, like a
finger with the end joint tilted up. They had been drinking, I could see
that. And what queer talk they used! Mr. Holmes inspected this cabin,
then he took me by the buttonhole and says he:
"'Through the deep caves of thought
I hear a voice that sings,
"Build thee more stately mansions,
O my soul!"'
"Says I, 'I can't afford it, Mr. Holmes, and moreover I don't want to.'
Blamed if I liked it pretty well, either, coming from a stranger that
way. However, I started to get out my bacon and beans when Mr. Emerson
came and looked on awhile, and then he takes me aside by the buttonhole
"'Give me agates for my meat;
Give me cantharids to eat;
From air and ocean bring me foods,
From all zones and altitudes.'
"Says I, 'Mr. Emerson, if you'll excuse me, this ain't no hotel.' You
see, it sort of riled me--I warn't used to the ways of Jittery swells.
But I went on a-sweating over my work, and next comes Mr. Longfellow and
buttonholes me and interrupts me. Says he:
"'Honor be to Mudjekeewis!
You shall hear how Pau-Puk-Keewis--'
"But I broke in, and says I, 'Beg your pardon, Mr. Longfellow, if you'll
be so kind as to hold your yawp for about five minutes and let me get
this grub ready, you'll do me proud.' Well, sir, after they'd filled up
I set out the jug. Mr. Holmes looks at it and then he fires up all of a
sudden and yells:
"'Flash out a stream of blood-red wine!
For I would drink to other days.'
"By George, I was getting kind of worked up. I don't deny it, I was
getting kind of worked up. I turns to Mr. Holmes and says I, 'Looky
here, my fat friend, I'm a-running this shanty, and if the court knows
herself you'll take whisky straight or you'll go dry.' Them's the very
words I said to him. Now I don't want to sass such famous Littery
people, but you see they kind of forced me. There ain't nothing
onreasonable 'bout me. I don't mind a passel of guests a-treadin' on my
tail three or four times, but when it comes to standing on it it's
different, 'and if the court knows herself,' I says, 'you'll take whisky
straight or you'll go dry.' Well, between drinks they'd swell around the
cabin and strike attitudes and spout; and pretty soon they got out a
greasy old deck and went to playing euchre at ten cents a corner--on
trust. I began to notice some pretty suspicious things. Mr. Emerson
dealt, looked at his hand, shook his head, says:
"'I am the doubter and the doubt--'
and calmly bunched the hands and went to shuffling for a new lay-out.
"'They reckon ill who leave me out;
They know not well the subtle ways I keep.
I pass and deal again!'
Hang'd if he didn't go ahead and do it, too! Oh, he was a cool one!
Well, in about a minute things were running pretty tight, but all of a
sudden I see by Mr. Emerson's eye he judged he had 'em. He had already
corralled two tricks and each of the others one. So now he kind of lifts
a little in his chair and says,
"'I tire of globes and aces!
Too long the game is played!'
and down he fetched a right bower. Mr. Longfellow smiles as sweet as pie
"'Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught,'
and blamed if he didn't down with another right bower! Emerson claps his
hand on his bowie, Longfellow claps his on his revolver, and I went under
a bunk. There was going to be trouble; but that monstrous Holmes rose
up, wobbling his double chins, and says he, 'Order, gentlemen; the first
man that draws I'll lay down on him and smother him!' All quiet on the
Potomac, you bet!
"They were pretty how-come-you-so by now, and they begun to blow.
Emerson says, 'The noblest thing I ever wrote was "Barbara Frietchie."'
Says Longfellow, 'It don't begin with my "Bigelow Papers."' Says Holmes,
'My "Thanatopsis" lays over 'em both.' They mighty near ended in a fight.
Then they wished they had some more company, and Mr. Emerson pointed to
me and says:
"'Is yonder squalid peasant all
That this proud nursery could breed?'
He was a-whetting his bowie on his boot--so I let it pass. Well, sir,
next they took it into their heads that they would like some music; so
they made me stand up and sing, 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home' till I
dropped--at thirteen minutes past four this morning. That's what I've
been through, my friend. When I woke at seven they were leaving, thank
goodness, and Mr. Longfellow had my only boots on and his'n under his
arm. Says I, 'Hold on there, Evangeline, what are you going to do with
them?' He says, 'Going to make tracks with 'em, because--
"'Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime;
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.'
"As I said, Mr. Twain, you are the fourth in twenty-four hours
and I'm going to move; I ain't suited to a Littery atmosphere."
I said to the miner, "Why, my dear sir, these were not the gracious
singers to whom we and the world pay loving reverence and homage; these
The miner investigated me with a calm eye for a while; then said he, "Ah!
impostors, were they? Are you?"
I did not pursue the subject, and since then I have not traveled on my
'nom de guerre' enough to hurt. Such was the reminiscence I was moved to
contribute, Mr. Chairman. In my enthusiasm I may have exaggerated the
details a little, but you will easily forgive me that fault, since I
believe it is the first time I have ever deflected from perpendicular
fact on an occasion like this.
THE ADAM MONUMENT PETITION
(See Chapter cxxxiv)
TO THE HONORABLE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES
IN CONGRESS ASSEMBLED.
WHEREAS, A number of citizens of the city of Elmira in the State of New
York having covenanted among themselves to erect in that city a monument
in memory of Adam, the father of mankind, being moved thereto by a
sentiment of love and duty, and these having appointed the undersigned to
communicate with your honorable body, we beg leave to lay before you the
following facts and append to the same our humble petition.
1. As far as is known no monument has ever been raised in any part of
the world to commemorate the services rendered to our race by this great
man, whilst many men of far less note and worship have been rendered
immortal by means of stately and indestructible memorials.
2. The common father of mankind has been suffered to lie in entire
neglect, although even the Father of our Country has now, and has had for
many years, a monument in course of construction.
3. No right-feeling human being can desire to see this neglect
continued, but all just men, even to the farthest regions of the globe,
should and will rejoice to know that he to whom we owe existence is about
to have reverent and fitting recognition of his works at the hands of the
people of Elmira. His labors were not in behalf of one locality, but for
the extension of humanity at large and the blessings which go therewith;
hence all races and all colors and all religions are interested in seeing
that his name and fame shall be placed beyond the reach of the blight of
oblivion by a permanent and suitable monument.
4. It will be to the imperishable credit of the United States if this
monument shall be set up within her borders; moreover, it will be a
peculiar grace to the beneficiary if this testimonial of affection and
gratitude shall be the gift of the youngest of the nations that have
sprung from his loins after 6,000 years of unappreciation on the part of
5. The idea of this sacred enterprise having originated in the city of
Elmira, she will be always grateful if the general government shall
encourage her in the good work by securing to her a certain advantage
through the exercise of its great authority.
Therefore, Your petitioners beg that your honorable body will be pleased
to issue a decree restricting to Elmira the right to build a monument to
Adam and inflicting a heavy penalty upon any other community within the
United States that shall propose or attempt to erect a monument or other
memorial to the said Adam, and to this end we will ever pray.
NAMES: (100 signatures)
GENERAL GRANT'S GRAMMAR
(Written in 1886. Delivered at an Army and Navy Club dinner in New York
Lately a great and honored author, Matthew Arnold, has been finding fault
with General Grant's English. That would be fair enough, maybe, if the
examples of imperfect English averaged more instances to the page in
General Grant's book than they do in Arnold's criticism on the book--but
they do not. It would be fair enough, maybe, if such instances were
commoner in General Grant's book than they are in the works of the
average standard author--but they are not. In fact, General Grant's
derelictions in the matter of grammar and construction are not more
frequent than such derelictions in the works of a majority of the
professional authors of our time, and of all previous times--authors as
exclusively and painstakingly trained to the literary trade as was
General Grant to the trade of war. This is not a random statement: it is
a fact, and easily demonstrable. I have a book at home called Modern
English Literature: Its Blemishes and Defects, by Henry H. Breen, a
countryman of Mr. Arnold. In it I find examples of bad grammar and
slovenly English from the pens of Sydney Smith, Sheridan, Hallam,
Whately, Carlyle, Disraeli, Allison, Junius, Blair, Macaulay,
Shakespeare, Milton, Gibbon, Southey, Lamb, Landor, Smollett, Walpole,
Walker (of the dictionary), Christopher North, Kirk White, Benjamin
Franklin, Sir Walter Scott, and Mr. Lindley Murray (who made the
In Mr. Arnold's criticism on General Grant's book we find two grammatical
crimes and more than several examples of very crude and slovenly English,
enough of them to entitle him to a lofty place in the illustrious list of
delinquents just named.
The following passage all by itself ought to elect him:
"Meade suggested to Grant that he might wish to have immediately
under him Sherman, who had been serving with Grant in the West. He
begged him not to hesitate if he thought it for the good of the
service. Grant assured him that he had not thought of moving him,
and in his memoirs, after relating what had passed, he adds, etc."
To read that passage a couple of times would make a man dizzy; to read it
four times would make him drunk.
Mr. Breen makes this discriminating remark: "To suppose that because a
man is a poet or a historian he must be correct in his grammar is to
suppose that an architect must be a joiner, or a physician a compounder
People may hunt out what microscopic motes they please, but, after all,
the fact remains, and cannot be dislodged, that General Grant's book is a
great and, in its peculiar department, a unique and unapproachable
literary masterpiece. In their line there is no higher literature than
those modest, simple memoirs. Their style is at least flawless and no
man could improve upon it, and great books are weighed and measured by
their style and matter, and not by the trimmings and shadings of their
There is that about the sun which makes us forget his spots, and when we
think of General Grant our pulses quicken and his grammar vanishes; we
only remember that this is the simple soldier who, all untaught of the
silken phrase-makers, linked words together with an art surpassing the
art of the schools and put into them a something which will still bring
to American ears, as long as America shall last, the roll of his vanished
drums and the tread of his marching hosts. What do we care for grammar
when we think of those thunderous phrases, "Unconditional and immediate
surrender," "I propose to move immediately upon your works," "I propose
to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer." Mr. Arnold would
doubtless claim that that last phrase is not strictly grammatical, and
yet it did certainly wake up this nation as a hundred million tons of A-
number-one fourth-proof, hard-boiled, hide-bound grammar from another
mouth could not have done. And finally we have that gentler phrase, that
one which shows you another true side of the man, shows you that in his
soldier heart there was room for other than gory war mottoes and in his
tongue the gift to fitly phrase them: "Let us have peace."
BEING A PORTION OF A PAPER ON "CONSISTENCY," READ BEFORE THE MONDAY
EVENING CLUB IN 1887
(See Chapter clxiii)
. . . I have referred to the fact that when a man retires from his
political party he is a traitor--that he is so pronounced in plain
language. That is bold; so bold as to deceive many into the fancy that
it is true. Desertion, treason--these are the terms applied. Their
military form reveals the thought in the man's mind who uses them: to him
a political party is an army. Well, is it? Are the two things
identical? Do they even resemble each other? Necessarily a political
party is not an army of conscripts, for they are in the ranks by
compulsion. Then it must be a regular army or an army of volunteers.
Is it a regular army? No, for these enlist for a specified and well-
understood term, and can retire without reproach when the term is up.
Is it an army of volunteers who have enlisted for the war, and may
righteously be shot if they leave before the war is finished? No, it is
not even an army in that sense. Those fine military terms are high-
sounding, empty lies, and are no more rationally applicable to a
political party than they would be to an oyster-bed. The volunteer
soldier comes to the recruiting office and strips himself and proves that
he is so many feet high, and has sufficiently good teeth, and no fingers
gone, and is sufficiently sound in body generally; he is accepted; but
not until he has sworn a deep oath or made other solemn form of promise
to march under, that flag until that war is done or his term of
enlistment completed. What is the process when a voter joins a party?
Must he prove that he is sound in any way, mind or body? Must he prove
that he knows anything--is capable of anything--whatever? Does he take
an oath or make a promise of any sort?--or doesn't he leave himself
entirely free? If he were informed by the political boss that if he
join, it must be forever; that he must be that party's chattel and wear
its brass collar the rest of his days--would not that insult him? It
goes without saying. He would say some rude, unprintable thing, and turn
his back on that preposterous organization. But the political boss puts
no conditions upon him at all; and this volunteer makes no promises,
enlists for no stated term. He has in no sense become a part of an army;
he is in no way restrained of his freedom. Yet he will presently find
that his bosses and his newspapers have assumed just the reverse of that:
that they have blandly arrogated to themselves an ironclad military
authority over him; and within twelve months, if he is an average man, he
will have surrendered his liberty, and will actually be silly enough to
believe that he cannot leave that party, for any cause whatever, without
being a shameful traitor, a deserter, a legitimately dishonored man.
There you have the just measure of that freedom of conscience, freedom of
opinion, freedom of speech and action which we hear so much inflated
foolishness about as being the precious possession of the republic.
Whereas, in truth, the surest way for a man to make of himself a target
for almost universal scorn, obloquy, slander, and insult is to stop
twaddling about these priceless independencies and attempt to exercise
one of them. If he is a preacher half his congregation will clamor for
his expulsion--and will expel him, except they find it will injure real
estate in the neighborhood; if he is a doctor his own dead will turn
I repeat that the new party-member who supposed himself independent will
presently find that the party have somehow got a mortgage on his soul,
and that within a year he will recognize the mortgage, deliver up his
liberty, and actually believe he cannot retire from that party from any
motive howsoever high and right in his own eyes without shame and
Is it possible for human wickedness to invent a doctrine more infernal
and poisonous than this? Is there imaginable a baser servitude than it
imposes? What slave is so degraded as the slave that is proud that he is
a slave? What is the essential difference between a lifelong democrat
and any other kind of lifelong slave? Is it less humiliating to dance to
the lash of one master than another?
This infamous doctrine of allegiance to party plays directly into the
hands of politicians of the baser sort--and doubtless for that it was
borrowed--or stolen--from the monarchial system. It enables them to
foist upon the country officials whom no self-respecting man would vote
for if he could but come to understand that loyalty to himself is his
first and highest duty, not loyalty to any party name.
Shall you say the best good of the country demands allegiance to party?
Shall you also say that it demands that a man kick his truth and his
conscience into the gutter and become a mouthing lunatic besides? Oh no,
you say; it does not demand that. But what if it produce that in spite
of you? There is no obligation upon a man to do things which he ought
not to do when drunk, but most men will do them just the same; and so we
hear no arguments about obligations in the matter--we only hear men
warned to avoid the habit of drinking; get rid of the thing that can
betray men into such things.
This is a funny business all around. The same men who enthusiastically
preach loyal consistency to church and party are always ready and willing
and anxious to persuade a Chinaman or an Indian or a Kanaka to desert his
church or a fellow-American to desert his party. The man who deserts to
them is all that is high and pure and beautiful--apparently; the man who
deserts from them is all that is foul and despicable. This is
Consistency--with a capital C.
With the daintiest and self-complacentest sarcasm the lifelong loyalist
scoffs at the Independent--or as he calls him, with cutting irony, the
Mugwump; makes himself too killingly funny for anything in this world
about him. But--the Mugwump can stand it, for there is a great history
at his back; stretching down the centuries, and he comes of a mighty
ancestry. He knows that in the whole history of the race of men no
single great and high and beneficent thing was ever done for the souls
and bodies, the hearts and the brains of the children of this world, but
a Mugwump started it and Mugwumps carried it to victory: And their names
are the stateliest in history: Washington, Garrison, Galileo, Luther,
Christ. Loyalty to petrified opinions never yet broke a chain or freed a
human soul in this world-end never will.
ORIGINAL PREFACE FOR "A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT"
(See Chapter clxxii)
My object has been to group together some of the most odious laws which
have had vogue in the Christian countries within the past eight or ten
centuries, and illustrate them by the incidents of a story.
There was never a time when America applied the death-penalty to more
than fourteen crimes. But England, within the memory of men still
living, had in her list of crimes 223 which were punishable by death!
And yet from the beginning of our existence down to a time within the
memory of babes England has distressed herself piteously over the
ungentleness of our Connecticut Blue Laws. Those Blue Laws should have
been spared English criticism for two reasons:
1. They were so insipidly mild, by contrast with the bloody and
atrocious laws of England of the same period, as to seem characterless
and colorless when one brings them into that awful presence.
2. The Blue Laws never had any existence. They were the fancy-work of
an English clergyman; they were never a part of any statute-book. And
yet they could have been made to serve a useful and merciful purpose; if
they had been injected into the English law the dilution would have given
to the whole a less lurid aspect; or, to figure the effect in another
way, they would have been coca mixed into vitriol.
I have drawn no laws and no illustrations from the twin civilizations of
hell and Russia. To have entered into that atmosphere would have
defeated my purpose, which was to show a great and genuine progress in
Christendom in these few later generations toward mercifulness--a wide
and general relaxing of the grip of the law. Russia had to be left out
because exile to Siberia remains, and in that single punishment is
gathered together and concentrated all the bitter inventions of all the
black ages for the infliction of suffering upon human beings. Exile for
life from one's hearthstone and one's idols--this is rack, thumb-screw,
the water-drop, fagot and stake, tearing asunder by horses, flaying
alive--all these in one; and not compact into hours, but drawn out into
years, each year a century, and the whole a mortal immortality of torture
and despair. While exile to Siberia remains one will be obliged to admit
that there is one country in Christendom where the punishments of all the
ages are still preserved and still inflicted, that there is one country
in Christendom where no advance has been made toward modifying the
medieval penalties for offenses against society and the State.
A TRIBUTE TO HENRY H. ROGERS
(See Chapter cc and earlier)
April 25, 1902. I owe more to Henry Rogers than to any other man whom I
have known. He was born in Fairhaven, Connecticut, in 1839, and is my
junior by four years. He was graduated from the high school there in
1853, when he was fourteen years old, and from that time forward he
earned his own living, beginning at first as the bottom subordinate in
the village store with hard-work privileges and a low salary. When he
was twenty-four he went out to the newly discovered petroleum fields in
Pennsylvania and got work; then returned home, with enough money to pay
passage, married a schoolmate, and took her to the oil regions. He
prospered, and by and by established the Standard Oil Trust with Mr.
Rockefeller and others, and is still one of its managers and directors.
In 1893 we fell together by accident one evening in the Murray Hill
Hotel, and our friendship began on the spot and at once. Ever since then
he has added my business affairs to his own and carried them through, and
I have had no further trouble with them. Obstructions and perplexities
which would have driven me mad were simplicities to his master mind and
furnished him no difficulties. He released me from my entanglements with
Paige and stopped that expensive outgo; when Charles L. Webster & Company
failed he saved my copyrights for Mrs. Clemens when she would have
sacrificed them to the creditors although they were in no way entitled to
them; he offered to lend me money wherewith to save the life of that
worthless firm; when I started lecturing around the world to make the
money to pay off the Webster debts he spent more than a year trying to
reconcile the differences between Harper & Brothers and the American
Publishing Company and patch up a working-contract between them and
succeeded where any other man would have failed; as fast as I earned
money and sent it to him he banked it at interest and held onto it,
refusing to pay any creditor until he could pay all of the 96 alike; when
I had earned enough to pay dollar for dollar he swept off the
indebtedness and sent me the whole batch of complimentary letters which
the creditors wrote in return; when I had earned $28,500 more, $18,500 of
which was in his hands, I wrote him from Vienna to put the latter into
Federal Steel and leave it there; he obeyed to the extent of $17,500, but
sold it in two months at $25,000 profit, and said it would go ten points
higher, but that it was his custom to "give the other man a chance" (and
that was a true word--there was never a truer one spoken). That was at
the end of '99 and beginning of 1900; and from that day to this he has
continued to break up my bad schemes and put better ones in their place,
to my great advantage. I do things which ought to try man's patience,
but they never seem to try his; he always finds a colorable excuse for
what I have done. His soul was born superhumanly sweet, and I do not
think anything can sour it. I have not known his equal among men for
lovable qualities. But for his cool head and wise guidance I should
never have come out of the Webster difficulties on top; it was his good
steering that enabled me to work out my salvation and pay a hundred cents
on the dollar--the most valuable service any man ever did me.
His character is full of fine graces, but the finest is this: that he can
load you down with crushing obligations and then so conduct himself that
you never feel their weight. If he would only require something in
return--but that is not in his nature; it would not occur to him. With
the Harpers and the American Company at war those copyrights were worth
but little; he engineered a peace and made them valuable. He invests
$100,000 for me here, and in a few months returns a profit of $31,000. I
invest (in London and here) $66,000 and must wait considerably for
results (in case there shall be any). I tell him about it and he finds
no fault, utters not a sarcasm. He was born serene, patient, all-
enduring, where a friend is concerned, and nothing can extinguish that
great quality in him. Such a man is entitled to the high gift of humor:
he has it at its very best. He is not only the best friend I have ever
had, but is the best man I have known.
S. L. CLEMENS.
FROM MARK TWAIN'S LAST POEM
BEGUN AT RIVERDALE, NEW YORK. FINISHED AT YORK HARBOR, MAINE,
AUGUST 18, 1902
(See Chapter ccxxiii)
(A bereft and demented mother speaks)
. . . O, I can see my darling yet: the little form
In slip of flimsy stuff all creamy white,
Pink-belted waist with ample bows,
Blue shoes scarce bigger than the house-cat's ears--
Capering in delight and choked with glee.
It was a summer afternoon; the hill
Rose green above me and about, and in the vale below
The distant village slept, and all the world
Was steeped in dreams. Upon me lay this peace,
And I forgot my sorrow in its spell. And now
My little maid passed by, and she
Was deep in thought upon a solemn thing:
A disobedience, and my reproof.
Upon my face She must not look until the day was done;
For she was doing penance . . . She?
O, it was I! What mother knows not that?
And so she passed, I worshiping and longing . . .
It was not wrong? You do not think me wrong?
I did it for the best. Indeed I meant it so.
She flits before me now:
The peach-bloom of her gauzy crepe,
The plaited tails of hair,
The ribbons floating from the summer hat,
The grieving face, dropp'd head absorbed with care.
O, dainty little form!
I see it move, receding slow along the path,
By hovering butterflies besieged; I see it reach
The breezy top clear-cut against the sky, . . .
Then pass beyond and sink from sight-forever!
Within, was light and cheer; without,
A blustering winter's right. There was a play;
It was her own; for she had wrought it out
Unhelped, from her own head-and she
But turned sixteen! A pretty play,
All graced with cunning fantasies,
And happy songs, and peopled all with fays,
And sylvan gods and goddesses,
And shepherds, too, that piped and danced,
And wore the guileless hours away
In care-free romps and games.
Her girlhood mates played in the piece,
And she as well: a goddess, she,--
And looked it, as it seemed to me.
'Twas fairyland restored-so beautiful it was
And innocent. It made us cry, we elder ones,
To live our lost youth o'er again
With these its happy heirs.
Slowly, at last, the curtain fell.
Before us, there, she stood, all wreathed and draped
In roses pearled with dew-so sweet, so glad,
So radiant!--and flung us kisses through the storm
Of praise that crowned her triumph . . . . O,
Across the mists of time I see her yet,
My Goddess of the Flowers!
. . . The curtain hid her . . . .
Do you comprehend? Till time shall end!
Out of my life she vanished while I looked!
. . . Ten years are flown.
O, I have watched so long,
So long. But she will come no more.
No, she will come no more.
It seems so strange . . . so strange . . .
Struck down unwarned!
In the unbought grace, of youth laid low--
In the glory of her fresh young bloom laid low--
In the morning of her life cut down!
And I not by! Not by
When the shadows fell, the night of death closed down
The sun that lit my life went out. Not by to answer
When the latest whisper passed the lips
That were so dear to me--my name!
Far from my post! the world's whole breadth away.
O, sinking in the waves of death she cried to me
For mother-help, and got for answer
We that are old--we comprehend; even we
That are not mad: whose grown-up scions still abide;
Their tale complete:
Their earlier selves we glimpse at intervals
Far in the dimming past;
We see the little forms as once they were,
And whilst we ache to take them to our hearts,
The vision fades. We know them lost to us--
Forever lost; we cannot have them back;
We miss them as we miss the dead,
We mourn them as we mourn the dead.
SELECTIONS FROM AN UNFINISHED BOOK, "3,000 YEARS AMONG THE MICROBES"
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A MICROBE, WHO, IN A FORMER EXISTENCE, HAD BEEN A
MAN--HIS PRESENT HABITAT BEING THE ORGANISM OF A TRAMP, BLITZOWSKI.
(WRITTEN AT DUBLIN, NEW HAMPSHIRE, 1905)
(See Chapter ccxxxv)
Our world (the tramp) is as large and grand and awe-compelling to us
microscopic creatures as is man's world to man. Our tramp is
mountainous, there are vast oceans in him, and lakes that are sea-like
for size, there are many rivers (veins and arteries) which are fifteen
miles across, and of a length so stupendous as to make the Mississippi
and the Amazon trifling little Rhode Island brooks by comparison. As for
our minor rivers, they are multitudinous, and the dutiable commerce of
disease which they carry is rich beyond the dreams of the American
Take a man like Sir Oliver Lodge, and what secret of Nature can be hidden
from him? He says: "A billion, that is a million millions,[?? Trillion
D.W.] of atoms is truly an immense number, but the resulting aggregate is
still excessively minute. A portion of substance consisting, of a
billion atoms is only barely visible with the highest power of a
microscope; and a speck or granule, in order to be visible to the naked
eye, like a grain of lycopodium-dust, must be a million times bigger
The human eye could see it then--that dainty little speck. But with my
microbe-eye I could see every individual of the whirling billions of
atoms that compose the speck. Nothing is ever at rest--wood, iron,
water, everything is alive, everything is raging, whirling, whizzing, day
and night and night and day, nothing is dead, there is no such thing as
death, everything is full of bristling life, tremendous life, even the
bones of the crusader that perished before Jerusalem eight centuries ago.
There are no vegetables, all things are animal; each electron is an
animal, each molecule is a collection of animals, and each has an
appointed duty to perform and a soul to be saved. Heaven was not made
for man alone, and oblivion and neglect reserved for the rest of His
creatures. He gave them life, He gave them humble services to perform,
they have performed them, and they will not be forgotten, they will have
their reward. Man-always vain, windy, conceited-thinks he will be in the
majority there. He will be disappointed. Let him humble himself. But
for the despised microbe and the persecuted bacillus, who needed a home
and nourishment, he would not have been created. He has a mission,
therefore a reason for existing: let him do the service he was made for,
and keep quiet.
Three weeks ago I was a man myself, and thought and felt as men think and
feel; I have lived 3,000 years since then [microbic time], and I see the
foolishness of it now. We live to learn, and fortunate are we when we
are wise enough to profit by it.
In matters pertaining to microscopy we necessarily have an advantage here
over the scientist of the earth, because, as I have just been indicating,
we see with our naked eyes minutenesses which no man-made microscope can
detect, and are therefore able to register as facts many things which
exist for him as theories only. Indeed, we know as facts several things
which he has not yet divined even by theory. For example, he does not
suspect that there is no life but animal life, and that all atoms are
individual animals endowed each with a certain degree of consciousness,
great or small, each with likes and dislikes, predilections and
aversions--that, in a word, each has a character, a character of its own.
Yet such is the case. Some of the molecules of a stone have an aversion
for some of those of a vegetable or any other creature and will not
associate with them--and would not be allowed to, if they tried. Nothing
is more particular about society than a molecule. And so there are no
end of castes; in this matter India is not a circumstance.
"Tell me, Franklin [a microbe of great learning], is the ocean an
individual, an animal, a creature?"
"Then water--any water-is an individual?"
"Suppose you remove a drop of it? Is what is left an individual?"
"Yes, and so is the drop."
"Suppose you divide the drop?"
"Then you have two individuals."
"Suppose you separate the hydrogen and the oxygen?"
"Again you have two individuals. But you haven't water any more."
"Of course. Certainly. Well, suppose you combine them again, but in a
new way: make the proportions equal--one part oxygen to one of hydrogen?"
"But you know you can't. They won't combine on equal terms."
I was ashamed to have made that blunder. I was embarrassed; to cover it
I started to say we used to combine them like that where I came from, but
thought better of it, and stood pat.
"Now then," I said, "it amounts to this: water is an individual, an
animal, and is alive; remove the hydrogen and it is an animal and is
alive; the remaining oxygen is also an individual, an animal, and is
alive. Recapitulation: the two individuals combined constitute a third
individual--and yet each continues to be an individual."
I glanced at Franklin, but . . . upon reflection, held my peace. I
could have pointed out to him that here was mute Nature explaining the
sublime mystery of the Trinity so luminously--that even the commonest
understanding could comprehend it, whereas many a trained master of words
had labored to do it with speech and failed. But he would not have known
what I was talking about. After a moment I resumed:
"Listen--and see if I have understood you rightly, to wit: All the atoms
that constitute each oxygen molecule are separate individuals, and each
is a living animal; all the atoms that constitute each hydrogen molecule
are separate individuals, and each one is a living animal; each drop of
water consists of millions of living animals, the drop itself is an
individual, a living animal, and the wide ocean is another. Is that it?"
"Yes, that is correct."
"By George, it beats the band!"
He liked the expression, and set it down in his tablets.
"Franklin, we've got it down fine. And to think--there are other animals
that are still smaller than a hydrogen atom, and yet it is so small that
it takes five thousand of them to make a molecule--a molecule so minute
that it could get into a microbe's eye and he wouldn't know it was
"Yes, the wee creatures that inhabit the bodies of us germs and feed upon
us, and rot us with disease: Ah, what could they have been created for?
They give us pain, they make our lives miserable, they murder us-and
where is the use of it all, where the wisdom? Ah, friend Bkshp [microbic
orthography], we live in a strange and unaccountable world; our birth is
a mystery, our little life is a mystery, a trouble, we pass and are seen
no more; all is mystery, mystery, mystery; we know not whence we came,
nor why; we know not whither we go, nor why we go. We only know we were
not made in vain, we only know we were made for a wise purpose, and that
all is well! We shall not be cast aside in contumely and unblest after
all we have suffered. Let us be patient, let us not repine, let us
trust. The humblest of us is cared for--oh, believe it!--and this
fleeting stay is not the end!"
You notice that? He did not suspect that he, also, was engaged in
gnawing, torturing, defiling, rotting, and murdering a fellow-creature--
he and all the swarming billions of his race. None of them suspects it.
That is significant. It is suggestive--irresistibly suggestive--
insistently suggestive. It hints at the possibility that the procession
of known and listed devourers and persecutors is not complete. It
suggests the possibility, and substantially the certainty, that man is
himself a microbe, and his globe a blood-corpuscle drifting with its
shining brethren of the Milky Way down a vein of the Master and Maker of
all things, whose body, mayhap--glimpsed part-wise from the earth by
night, and receding and lost to view in the measureless remotenesses of
space--is what men name the Universe.
Yes, that was all old to me, but to find that our little old familiar
microbes were themselves loaded up with microbes that fed them, enriched
them, and persistently and faithfully preserved them and their poor old
tramp-planet from destruction--oh, that was new, and too delicious!
I wanted to see them! I was in a fever to see them! I had lenses to
two-million power, but of course the field was no bigger than a person's
finger-nail, and so it wasn't possible to compass a considerable
spectacle or a landscape with them; whereas what I had been craving was a
thirty-foot field, which would represent a spread of several miles of
country and show up things in a way to make them worth looking at. The
boys and I had often tried to contrive this improvement, but had failed.
I mentioned the matter to the Duke and it made him smile. He said it was
a quite simple thing-he had it at home. I was eager to bargain for the
secret, but he said it was a trifle and not worth bargaining for.
"Hasn't it occurred to you that all you have to do is to bend an X-ray to
an angle-value of 8.4 and refract it with a parabolism, and there you
Upon my word, I had never thought of that simple thing! You could have
knocked me down with a feather.
We rigged a microscope for an exhibition at once and put a drop of my
blood under it, which got mashed flat when the lens got shut down upon
it. The result was beyond my dreams. The field stretched miles away,
green and undulating, threaded with streams and roads, and bordered all
down the mellowing distances with picturesque hills. And there was a
great white city of tents; and everywhere were parks of artillery and
divisions of cavalry and infantry waiting. We had hit a lucky moment,
evidently there was going to be a march-past or some thing like that. At
the front where the chief banner flew there was a large and showy tent,
with showy guards on duty, and about it were some other tents of a swell
The warriors--particularly the officers--were lovely to look at, they
were so trim-built and so graceful and so handsomely uniformed. They
were quite distinct, vividly distinct, for it was a fine day, and they
were so immensely magnified that they looked to be fully a finger-nail
high.--[My own expression, and a quite happy one. I said to the Duke:
"Your Grace, they're just about finger-milers!"
"How do you mean, m' lord?"
"This. You notice the stately General standing there with his hand
resting upon the muzzle of a cannon? Well, if you could stick your
little finger down against the ground alongside of him his plumes would
just reach up to where your nail joins the flesh." The Duke said
"finger-milers was good"-good and exact; and he afterward used it several
times himself.]--Everywhere you could see officers moving smartly about,
and they looked gay, but the common soldiers looked sad. Many wife-
swinks [" Swinks," an atomic race] and daughter-swinks and sweetheart-
swinks were about--crying, mainly. It seemed to indicate that this was a
case of war, not a summer-camp for exercise, and that the poor labor-
swinks were being torn from their planet-saving industries to go and
distribute civilization and other forms of suffering among the feeble
benighted somewhere; else why should the swinkesses cry?
The cavalry was very fine--shiny black horses, shapely and spirited; and
presently when a flash of light struck a lifted bugle (delivering a
command which we couldn't hear) and a division came tearing down on a
gallop it was a stirring and gallant sight, until the dust rose an inch--
the Duke thought more--and swallowed it up in a rolling and tumbling long
gray cloud, with bright weapons glinting and sparkling in it.
Before long the real business of the occasion began. A battalion of
priests arrived carrying sacred pictures. That settled it: this was war;
these far-stretching masses of troops were bound for the front. Their
little monarch came out now, the sweetest little thing that ever
travestied the human shape I think, and he lifted up his hands and
blessed the passing armies, and they looked as grateful as they could,
and made signs of humble and real reverence as they drifted by the holy
It was beautiful--the whole thing; and wonderful, too, when those serried
masses swung into line and went marching down the valley under the long
array of fluttering flags.
Evidently they were going somewhere to fight for their king, which was
the little manny that blessed them; and to preserve him and his brethren
that occupied the other swell tents; to civilize and grasp a valuable
little unwatched country for them somewhere. But the little fellow and
his brethren didn't fall in--that was a noticeable particular. They
didn't fight; they stayed at home, where it was safe, and waited for the
Very well, then-what ought we to do? Had we no moral duty to perform?
Ought we to allow this war to begin? Was it not our duty to stop it, in
the name of right and righteousness? Was it not our duty to administer a
rebuke to this selfish and heartless Family?
The Duke was struck by that, and greatly moved. He felt as I did about
it, and was ready to do whatever was right, and thought we ought to pour
boiling water on the Family and extinguish it, which we did.
It extinguished the armies, too, which was not intended. We both
regretted this, but the Duke said that these people were nothing to us,
and deserved extinction anyway for being so poor-spirited as to serve
such a Family. He was loyally doing the like himself, and so was I, but
I don't think we thought of that. And it wasn't just the same, anyway,
because we were sooflaskies, and they were only swinks.
Franklin realizes that no atom is destructible; that it has always
existed and will exist forever; but he thinks all atoms will go out of
this world some day and continue their life in a happier one. Old
Tolliver thinks no atom's life will ever end, but he also thinks
Blitzowski is the only world it will ever see, and that at no time in its
eternity will it be either worse off or better off than it is now and
always has been. Of course he thinks the planet Blitzowski is itself
eternal and indestructible--at any rate he says he thinks that. It could
make me sad, only I know better. D. T. will fetch Blitzy yet one of
But these are alien thoughts, human thoughts, and they falsely indicate
that I do not want this tramp to go on living. What would become of me
if he should disintegrate? My molecules would scatter all around and
take up new quarters in hundreds of plants and animals; each would carry
its special feelings along with it, each would be content in its new
estate, but where should I be? I should not have a rag of a feeling
left, after my disintegration--with his--was complete. Nothing to think
with, nothing to grieve or rejoice with, nothing to hope or despair with.
There would be no more me. I should be musing and thinking and dreaming
somewhere else--in some distant animal maybe--perhaps a cat--by proxy of
my oxygen I should be raging and fuming in some other creatures--a rat,
perhaps; I should be smiling and hoping in still another child of Nature
--heir to my hydrogen--a weed, or a cabbage, or something; my carbonic
acid (ambition) would be dreaming dreams in some lowly wood-violet that
was longing for a showy career; thus my details would be doing as much
feeling as ever, but I should not be aware of it, it would all be going
on for the benefit of those others, and I not in it at all. I should be
gradually wasting away, atom by atom, molecule by molecule, as the years
went on, and at last I should be all distributed, and nothing left of
what had once been Me. It is curious, and not without impressiveness: I
should still be alive, intensely alive, but so scattered that I would not
know it. I should not be dead--no, one cannot call it that--but I should
be the next thing to it. And to think what centuries and ages and aeons
would drift over me before the disintegration was finished, the last bone
turned to gas and blown away! I wish I knew what it is going to feel
like, to lie helpless such a weary, weary time, and see my faculties
decay and depart, one by one, like lights which burn low, and flicker and
perish, until the ever-deepening gloom and darkness which--oh, away, away
with these horrors, and let me think of something wholesome!
My tramp is only 85; there is good hope that he will live ten years
longer--500,000 of my microbe years. So may it be.
Oh, dear, we are all so wise! Each of us knows it all, and knows he
knows it all--the rest, to a man, are fools and deluded. One man knows
there is a hell, the next one knows there isn't; one man knows high
tariff is right, the next man knows it isn't; one man knows monarchy is
best, the next one knows it isn't; one age knows there are witches, the
next one knows there aren't; one sect knows its religion is the only true
one, there are sixty-four thousand five hundred million sects that know
it isn't so. There is not a mind present among this multitude of