Part 3 out of 9
man for asthma and blind staggers, he prescribed rest and change of scene
for him, too. The poor asthmatic is now breathing the extremely rarified
air of the New Jerusalem.
Meningitis is derived from the Latin _Meninges_, membrane, and--_itis_, an
affix denoting inflammation, so that, strictly speaking, meningitis is the
inflammation of a membrane, and when applied to the spine, or cerebrum, is
called spinal meningitis, or cerebro-spinal meningitis, etc., according to
the part of the spine or brain involved in the inflammation. Meningitis is
a characteristic and result of so-called spotted fever, and by many it is
deemed identical with it.
When we come to consider that the spinal cord, or marrow, runs down
through the long, bony shaft made by the vertebrae, and that the brain and
spine, though connected, are bound up in one continuous bony wall and
covered with this inflamed membrane, it is not difficult to understand
that the thing is very hard to get at. If your throat gets inflamed, a
doctor asks you to run your tongue out into society about a yard and a
half, and he pries your mouth open with one of Rogers Brothers' spoon
handles. Then he is able to examine your throat as he would a page of the
_Congressional Record_, and to treat it with some local application. When
you have spinal meningitis, however, the doctor tackles you with bromides,
ergots, ammonia, iodine, chloral hydrate, codi, bromide of ammonia,
hasheesh, bismuth, valerianate of ammonia, morphine sulph., nux vomica,
turpentine emulsion, vox humana, rex magnus, opium, cantharides, Dover's
powders, and other bric-a-brac. These remedies are masticated and acted
upon by the salivary glands, passed down the esophagus, thrown into the
society of old gastric, submitted to the peculiar motion of the stomach
and thoroughly chymified, then forwarded through the pyloric orifice into
the smaller intestines, where they are touched up with bile, and later on
handed over through the lacteals, thoracic duct, etc., to the vast
circulatory system. Here it is yanked back and forth through the heart,
lungs and capillaries, and if anything is left to fork over to the
disease, it has to squeeze into the long, bony, air-tight socket that
holds the spinal cord. All this is done without seeing the patient's
spinal cord before or after taking. If it could be taken out, and hung
over a clothes line and cleansed with benzine, and then treated with
insect powder, or rolled in corn meal, or preserved in alcohol, and then
put back, it would be all right; but you can't. You pull a man's spine out
of his system and he is bound to miss it, no matter how careful you have
been about it. It is difficult to keep house without the spine. You need
it every time you cook a meal. If the spinal cord could be pulled by a
dentist and put away in pounded ice every time it gets a hot-box, spinal
meningitis would lose its stinger.
I was treated by thirteen physicians, whose names I may give in a future
article. They were, as I said, men I shall long remember. One of them said
very sensibly that meningitis was generally over-doctored. I told him that
I agreed with him. I said that if I should have another year of meningitis
and thirteen more doctors, I would have to postpone my trip to Europe,
where I had hoped to go and cultivate my voice. I've got a perfectly
lovely voice, if I would take it to Europe and have it sand-papered and
varnished, and mellowed down with beer and bologna.
But I was speaking of my physicians. Some time I'm going to give their
biographies and portraits, as they did those of Dr. Bliss, Dr. Barnes and
others. Next year, if I can get railroad rates, I am going to hold a
reunion of my physicians in Chicago. It will be a pleasant relaxation for
them, and will save the lives of a large percentage of their patients.
Skimming the Milky Way.
The comet is a kind of astronomical parody on the planet. Comets look some
like planets, but they are thinner and do not hurt so hard when they hit
anybody as a planet does. The comet was so called because it had hair on
it, I believe, but late years the bald-headed comet is giving just as good
The characteristic features of a comet are: A nucleus, a nebulous light or
coma, and usually a luminous train or tail worn high. Sometimes several
tails are observed on one comet, but this occurs only in flush times.
When I was young I used to think I would like to be a comet in the sky, up
above the world so high, with nothing to do but loaf around and play with
the little new-laid planets and have a good time, but now I can see where
I was wrong. Comets also have their troubles, their perihilions, their
hyperbolas and their parabolas. A little over 300 years ago Tycho Brahe
discovered that comets were extraneous to our atmosphere, and since then
times have improved. I can see that trade is steadier and potatoes run
less to tows than they did before.
Soon after that they discovered that comets all had more or less
periodicity. Nobody knows how they got it. All the astronomers had been
watching them day and night and didn't know when they were exposed, but
there was no time to talk and argue over the question. There were two or
three hundred comets all down with it at once. It was an exciting time.
Comets sometimes live to a great age. This shows that the night air is not
so injurious to the health as many people would have us believe. The great
comet of 1780 is supposed to have been the one that was noticed about the
time of Caesar's death, 44 B.C., and still, when it appeared in Newton's
time, seventeen hundred years after its first grand farewell tour, Ike
said that it was very well preserved, indeed, and seemed to have retained
all its faculties in good shape.
Astronomers say that the tails of all comets are turned from the sun. I do
not know why they do this, whether it is etiquette among them or just a
A later writer on astronomy said that the substance of the nebulosity and
the tail is of almost inconceivable tenuity. He said this and then death
came to his relief. Another writer says of the comet and its tail that
"the curvature of the latter and the acceleration of the periodic time in
the case of Encke's comet indicate their being affected by a resisting
medium which has never been observed to have the slightest influence on
the planetary periods."
I do not fully agree with the eminent authority, though he may be right.
Much fear has been the result of the comet's appearance ever since the
world began, and it is as good a thing to worry about as anything I know
of. If we could get close to a comet without frightening it away, we would
find that we could walk through it anywhere as we could through the glare
of a torchlight procession. We should so live that we will not be ashamed
to look a comet in the eye, however. Let us pay up our newspaper
subscription and lead such lives that when the comet strikes we will be
[Illustration: TYCHO BRAHE AT WORK.]
Some worry a good deal about the chances for a big comet to plow into the
sun some dark, rainy night, and thus bust up the whole universe. I wish
that was all I had to worry about. If any respectable man will agree to
pay my taxes and funeral expenses, I will agree to do his worrying about
the comet's crashing into the bosom of the sun and knocking its daylights
This luminous body is 92,000,000 miles from the earth, though there have
been mornings this winter when it seemed to me that it was further than
that. A railway train going at the rate of 40 miles per hour would be 263
years going there, to say nothing of stopping for fuel or water, or
stopping on side tracks to wait for freight trains to pass. Several years
ago it was discovered that a slight error had been made in the
calculations of the sun's distance from the earth, and, owing to a
misplaced logarithm, or something of that kind, a mistake of 3,000,000
miles was made in the result. People cannot be too careful in such
matters. Supposing that, on the strength of the information contained in
the old time-table, a man should start out with only provisions sufficient
to take him 89,000,000 miles and should then find that 3,0000,000 miles
still stretched out ahead of him. He would then have to buy fresh figs of
the train boy in order to sustain life. Think of buying nice fresh figs on
a train that had been _en route_ 250 years!
Imagine a train boy starting out at ten years of age, and perishing at the
age of 60 years with only one-fifth of his journey accomplished. Think of
five train boys, one after the other, dying of old age on the way, and the
train at last pulling slowly into the depot with not a living thing on
board except the worms in the "nice eating apples!"
The sun cannot be examined through an ordinary telescope with impunity.
Only one man every tried that, and he is now wearing a glass eye that cost
If you examine the sun through an ordinary solar microscope, you discover
that it has a curdled or mottled appearance, as though suffering from
biliousness. It is also marked here and there by long streaks of light,
called faculae, which look like foam flecks below a cataract. The spots on
the sun vary from minute pores the size of an ordinary school district to
spots 100,000 miles in diameter, visible to the nude eye. The center of
these spots is as black as a brunette cat, and is called the umbra, so
called because it resembles an umbrella. The next circle is less dark, and
called the penumbra, because it so closely resembles the penumbra.
There are many theories regarding these spots, but, to be perfectly candid
with the gentle reader, neither Prof. Proctor nor myself can tell exactly
what they are. If we could get a little closer, we flatter ourselves that
we could speak more definitely. My own theory is they are either, first,
open air caucuses held by the colored people of the sun; or, second, they
may be the dark horses in the campaign; or, third, they may be the spots
knocked off the defeated candidate by the opposition.
Frankly, however, I do not believe either of these theories to be tenable.
Prof. Proctor sneers at these theories also on the ground that these spots
do not appear to revolve so fast as the sun. This, however, I am prepared
to explain upon the theory that this might be the result of delays in the
returns However, I am free to confess that speculative science is filled
with the intangible.
The sun revolves upon his or her axletree, as the case may be, once in 25
to 28 of our days, so that a man living there would have almost two years
to pay a 30-day note. We should so live that when we come to die we may go
at once to the sun.
Regarding the sun's temperature, Sir John Herschel says that it is
sufficient to melt a shell of ice covering its entire surface to a depth
of 40 feet. I do not know whether he made this experiment personally or
hired a man to do it for him.
The sun is like the star spangled banner--as it is "still there." You get
up to-morrow morning just before sunrise and look away toward the east,
and keep on looking in that direction, and at last you will see a fine
sight, if what I have been told is true. If the sunrise is as grand as the
sunset, it indeed must be one of nature's most sublime phenomena.
The sun is the great source of light and heat for our earth. If the sun
were to go somewhere for a few weeks for relaxation and rest, it would be
a cold day for us. The moon, too, would be useless, for she is largely
dependent on the sun. Animal life would soon cease and real estate would
become depressed in price. We owe very much of our enjoyment to the sun,
and not many years ago there were a large number of people who worshiped
the sun. When a man showed signs of emotional insanity, they took him up
on the observatory of the temple and sacrificed him to the sun. They were
a very prosperous and happy people. If the conqueror had not come among
them with civilization and guns and grand juries they would have been very
[Illustration: A COLD DAY.]
There is much in the great field of astronomy that is discouraging to the
savant who hasn't the time nor means to rummage around through the
heavens. At times I am almost hopeless, and feel like saying to the great
yearnful, hungry world: "Grope on forever. Do not ask me for another
scientific fact. Find it out yourself. Hunt up your own new-laid planets,
and let me have a rest. Never ask me again to sit up all night and take
care of a newborn world, while you lie in bed and reck not."
I get no salary for examining the trackless void night after night when I
ought to be in bed. I sacrifice my health in order that the public may
know at once of the presence of a red-hot comet, fresh from the factory.
And yet, what thanks do I get?
Is it surprising that every little while I contemplate withdrawing from
scientific research, to go and skin an eight-mule team down through the
dim vista of relentless years?
Then, again, you take a certain style of star, which you learn from
Professor Simon Newcomb is such a distance that it takes 50,000 years for
its light to reach Boston. Now, we will suppose that after looking over
the large stock of new and second-hand stars, and after examining the
spring catalogue and price list, I decide that one of the smaller size
will do me, and I buy it. How do I know that it was there when I bought
it? Its cold and silent rays may have ceased 49,000 years before I was
born and the intelligence be still on the way. There is too much margin
between sale and delivery. Every now and then another astronomer comes to
me and says: "Professor, I have discovered another new star and intend to
file it. Found it last night about a mile and a half south of the zenith,
running loose. Haven't heard of anybody who has lost a star of the
fifteenth magnitude, about thirteen hands high, with light mane and tail,
have you?" Now, how do I know that he has discovered a brand new star?
How can I discover whether he is or is not playing an old, threadbare star
on me for a new one?
We are told that there has been no perceptible growth or decay in the star
business since man began to roam around through space, in his mind, and
make figures on the barn door with red chalk showing the celestial time
No serious accidents have occurred in the starry heavens since I began to
observe and study their habits. Not a star has waxed, not a star has
waned to my knowledge. Not a planet has season-cracked or shown any of
the injurious effects of our rigorous climate. Not a star has ripened
prematurely or fallen off the trees. The varnish on the very oldest stars
I find on close and critical examination to be in splendid condition.
They will all no doubt wear as long as we need them, and wink on long
after we have ceased to wink back.
In 1866 there appeared suddenly in the northern crown a star of about the
third magnitude and worth at least $250. It was generally conceded by
astronomers that this was a brand new star that had never been used, but
upon consulting Argelander's star catalogue and price list it was found
that this was not a new star at all, but an old, faded star of the ninth
magnitude, with the front breadths turned wrong side out and trimmed with
moonlight along the seams. After a few days of phenomenal brightness, it
gently ceased to draw a salary as a star of the third magnitude, and
walked home with an Uncle Tom's Cabin company.
[Illustration: A NIGHTLY VIGIL.]
It is such things as this that make the life of the astronomer one of
constant and discouraging toil. I have long contemplated, as I say, the
advisability of retiring from this field of science and allowing others to
light the northern lights, skim the milky way and do other celestial
chores. I would do it myself cheerfully if my health would permit, but for
years I have realized, and so has my wife, that my duties as an astronomer
kept me up too much at night, and my wife is certainly right about it when
she says if I insist on scanning the heavens night after night, coming
home late with the cork out of my telescope and my eyes red and swollen
with these exhausting night vigils, I will be cut down in my prime. So I
am liable to abandon the great labor to which I had intended to devote my
life, my dazzling genius and my princely income. I hope that other savants
will spare me the pain of another refusal, for my mind is fully made up
that unless another skimmist is at once secured, the milky way will
henceforth remain unskum.
A Thrilling Experience.
I had a very thrilling experience the other evening. I had just filled an
engagement in a strange city, and retired to my cozy room at the hotel.
The thunders of applause had died away, and the opera house had been
locked up to await the arrival of an Uncle Tom's Cabin Company. The last
loiterer had returned to his home, and the lights in the palace of the
pork packer were extinguished.
No sound was heard, save the low, tremulous swash of the sleet outside, or
the death-rattle in the throat of the bath-tub. Then all was still as the
bosom of a fried chicken when the spirit has departed.
The swallow-tail coat hung limp and weary in the wardrobe, and the gross
receipts of the evening were under my pillow. I needed sleep, for I was
worn out with travel and anxiety, but the fear of being robbed kept me
from repose. I know how desperate a man becomes when he yearns for
another's gold. I know how cupidity drives a wicked man to mangle his
victim, that he may win precarious prosperity, and how he will often take
a short cut to wealth by means of murder, when, if he would enter
politics, he might accomplish his purpose as surely and much more safely.
Anon, however, tired nature succumbed. I know I had succumbed, for the
bell-boy afterward testified that he heard me do so.
The gentle warmth of the steam-heated room, and the comforting assurance
of duty well done and the approval of friends, at last lulled me into a
Anyone who might have looked upon me, as I lay there in that innocent
slumber, with the winsome mouth slightly ajar and the playful limbs cast
wildly about, while a merry smile now and then flitted across the regular
features, would have said that no heart could be so hard as to harbor ill
for one so guileless and so simple.
I do not know what it was that caused me to wake. Some slight sound or
other, no doubt, broke my slumber, and I opened my eyes wildly. The room
was in semi-darkness.
A slight movement in the corner, and the low, regular breathing of a human
being! I was now wide awake. Possibly I could have opened my eyes wider,
but not without spilling them out of their sockets.
Regularly came that soft, low breathing. Each time it seemed like a sigh
of relief, but it did not relieve me. Evidently it was not done for that
purpose. It sounded like a sigh of blessed relief, such as a woman might
heave after she has returned from church and transferred herself from the
embrace of her new Russia iron, black silk dress into a friendly wrapper.
Regularly, like the rise and fall of a wave on the summer sea, it rose and
fell, while my pale lambrequin of hair rose and fell fitfully with it.
I know that people who read this will laugh at it, but there was nothing
to laugh at. At first I feared that the sigh might be that of a woman who
had entered the room through a transom in order to see me, as I lay wrapt
in slumber, and then carry the picture away to gladden her whole life.
But no. That was hardly possible. It was cupidity that had driven some
cruel villain to enter my apartments and to crouch in the gloom till the
proper moment should come in which to spring upon me, throttle me, crowd a
hotel pillow into each lung, and, while I did the Desdemona act, rob me of
my hard-earned wealth.
Regularly still rose the soft breathing, as though the robber might be
trying to suppress it. I reached gently under the pillow, and securing the
money I put it in the pocket of my _robe de nuit_. Then, with great care,
I pulled out a copy of Smith & Wesson's great work on "How to Ventilate
the Human Form." I said to myself that I would sell my life as dearly as
possible, so that whoever bought it would always regret the trade.
Then I opened the volume at the first chapter and addressed a thirty-
eight calibre remark in the direction of the breath in the corner.
When the echoes had died away a sigh of relief welled up from the dark
corner. Also another sigh of relief later on.
I then decided to light the gas and fight it out. You have no doubt seen a
man scratch a match on the leg of his pantaloons. Perhaps you have also
seen an absent-minded man undertake to do so, forgetting that his
pantaloons were hanging on a chair at the other end of the room.
However, I lit the gas with my left hand and kept my revolver pointed
toward the dark corner where the breath was still rising and falling.
People who had heard my lecture came rushing in, hoping to find that I had
suicided, but they found that, instead of humoring the public in that way,
I had shot the valve off the steam radiator.
It is humiliating to write the foregoing myself, but I would rather do so
than have the affair garbled by careless hands.
Catching a Buffalo.
A pleasing anecdote is being told through the press columns recently, of
an encounter on the South Platte, which occurred some years ago between a
Texan and a buffalo. The recital sets forth the fact that the Texans went
out to hunt buffalo, hoping to get enough for a mess during the day.
Toward evening they saw two gentlemen buffalo on a neighboring hill near
the Platte, and at once pursued their game, each selecting an animal. They
separated at once, Jack going one way galloping after his beast, while Sam
went in the other direction. Jack soon got a shot at his game, but the
bullet only tore a large hole in the fleshy shoulder of the bull and
buried itself in the neck, maddening the animal to such a degree that he
turned at once and charged upon horse and rider.
The astonished horse, with the wonderful courage, sagacity and _sang
froid_ peculiar to the broncho, whirled around two consecutive times,
tangled his feet in the tall grass and fell, throwing his rider about
fifty feet. He then rose and walked away to a quiet place, where he could
consider the matter and give the buffalo an opportunity to recover.
The infuriated bull then gave chase to Jack, who kept out of the way for a
few yards only, when, getting his legs entangled in the grass, he fell so
suddenly that his pursuer dashed over him without doing him any bodily
injury. However, as the animal went over his prostrate form, Jack felt the
buffalo's tail brush across his face, and, rising suddenly, he caught it
with a terrific grip and hung to it, thus keeping out of the reach of his
enemy's horns, till his strength was just giving out, when Sam hove in
sight and put a large bullet through the bull's heart.
This tale is told, apparently, by an old plainsman and scout, who reels it
off as though he might be telling his own experience.
Now, I do not wish to seem captious and always sticking my nose into what
is none of my business, but as a logical and zoological fact, I desire, in
my cursory way, to coolly take up the subject of the buffalo tail. Those
who have been in the habit of killing buffaloes, instead of running an
account at the butcher shop, will remember that this noble animal has a
genuine camel's hair tail about eight inches long, with a chenille tassel
at the end, which he throws up into the rarified atmosphere of the far
west, whenever he is surprised or agitated.
In passing over a prostrate man, therefore, I apprehend that in order to
brush his face with the average buffalo tail, it would be necessary for
him to sit down on the bosom of the prostrate scout and fan his features
with the miniature caudal bud.
The buffalo does not gallop an hundred miles a day, dragging his tail
across the bunch grass and alkali of the boundless plains.
[Illustration: AN UNEQUAL MATCH.]
He snorts a little, turns his bloodshot eyes toward the enemy a moment and
then, throwing his cunning little taillet over the dash-boardlet, he wings
away in an opposite direction.
The man who could lie on his back and grab that vision by the tail would
have to be moderately active. If he succeeded, however, it would be a
question of the sixteenth part of a second only, whether he had his arms
jerked out by the roots and scattered through space or whether he had
strength of will sufficient to yank out the withered little frizz and told
the quivering ornament in his hands. Few people have the moral courage to
follow a buffalo around over half a day holding on by the tail. It is
said that a Sioux brave once tried it, and they say his tracks were
thirteen miles apart. After merrily sauntering around with the buffalo one
hour, during which time he crossed the territories of Wyoming and Dakota
twice and surrounded the regular army three times, he became discouraged
and died fiom the injuries he had received. Perhaps, however, it may have
It might be possible for a man to catch hold of the meager tail of a
meteor and let it snatch him through the coming years.
It might be, that a man with a strong constitution could catch a cyclone
and ride it bareback across the United States and then have a fresh one
ready to ride back again, but to catch a buffalo bull in the full flush of
manhood, as it were, and retain his tail while he crossed three
reservations and two mountain ranges, requires great tenacity of purpose
and unusual mental equipoise.
Remember, I do not regard the story I refer to as false, at least I do not
wish to be so understood. I simply say that it recounts an incident that
is rather out of the ordinary. Let the gentle reader lie down and have a
Jackrabbit driven across his face, for instance. The J. Rabbit is as
likely to brush your face with his brief and erect tail as the buffalo
would be. Then carefully note how rapidly and promptly instantaneous you
must be. Then closely attend to the manner in which you abruptly and
almost simultaneously, have not retained the tail in your memory.
A few people may have successfully seized the grieved and startled buffalo
by the tail, but they are not here to testify to the circumstances. They
are dead, abnormally and extremely dead.
After viewing the birthplace of the Adamses out at Quincy I felt more
reconciled to my own birthplace. Comparing the house in which I was born
with those in which other eminent philanthropists and high-priced
statesmen originated, I find that I have no reason to complain. Neither of
the Adamses were born in a larger house than I was, and for general tone
and eclat of front yard and cook-room on behind, I am led to believe that
I have the advantage.
John Adams was born before John Quincy Adams. A popular idea seems to
prevail in some sections of the Union that inasmuch as John Q. was
bald-headed, he was the eider of the two; but I inquired about that while
on the ground where they were both born, and ascertained from people who
were familiar with the circumstances, that John was born first.
[Illustration: PRESIDENTIAL SIMPLICITY.]
John Adams was the second president of the United States. He was a lawyer
by profession, but his attention was called to politics by the passage of
the stamp act in 1765. He was one of the delegates who represented
Massachusetts in the first Continental Congress, and about that time he
wrote a letter in which he said: "The die is now cast; I have passed the
rubicon. Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish with my country is
my unalterable determination." Some have expressed the opinion that "the
rubicon" alluded to by Mr. Adams in this letter was a law which he had
succeeded in getting passed; but this is not true. The idea of passing the
rubicon first originated with Julius Caesar, a foreigner of some note who
flourished a good deal B.C.
In June, 1776, Mr. Adams seconded a resolution, moved by Richard Henry
Lee, that the United States "are, and of right ought to be, free and
independent." Whenever Mr. Adams could get a chance to whoop for liberty
now and forever, one and inseparable, he invariably did so.
In 1796, Mr. Adams ran for president. In the convention it was nip and
tuck between Thomas Jefferson and himself, but Jefferson was understood to
be a Universalist, or an Universalist, whichever would look the best in
print, and so he only got 68 votes out of a possible 139. In 1800,
however, Jefferson turned the tables on him, and Mr. Adams only received
65 to Jefferson's 73 votes.
Mr. Adams made a good president and earned his salary, though it wasn't so
much of a job as it is now. When there was no Indian war in those days the
president could put on an old blue flannel shirt and such other clothes as
he might feel disposed to adopt, and fish for bull heads in the Potomac
till his nose peeled in the full glare of the fervid sun.
Now it is far different. By the time we get through with a president
nowadays he isn't good for much. Mr. Hayes stood the fatigue of being
president better, perhaps, than any other man since the republic became so
large a machine. Mr. Hayes went home to Fremont with his mind just as
fresh and his brain as cool as when he pulled up his coat tails to sit
down in the presidential chair. The reason why Mr. Hayes saved his mind,
his brain and his salary, was plain enough when we stop to consider that
he did not use them much during his administration.
John Quincy Adams was the sixth president of the United States and the
eldest son of John Adams. He was one of the most eloquent of orators, and
shines in history as one of the most polished of our eminent and
bald-headed Americans. When he began to speak, his round, smooth head, to
look down upon it from the gallery, resembled a nice new billiard ball,
but as he warmed up and became more thoroughly stirred, his intellectual
dome changed to a delicate pink. Then, when he rose to the full height of
his eloquent flight, and prepared to swoop down upon his adversaries and
carry them into camp, it is said that his smooth intellectual rink was as
red as the flush of rosy dawn on the 5th day of July.
He was educated both at home and abroad. That is the reason he was so
polished. After he got so that he could readily spell and pronounce the
most difficult words to be found in the large stores of Boston, he was
sent to Europe, where he acquired several foreign tongues, and got so that
he could converse with the people of Europe very fluently, if they were
familiar with English as she is spoke.
John Quincy Adams was chosen president by the House of Representatives,
there being no choice in the electoral contest, Adams receiving 84 votes,
Andrew Jackson 99, William H. Crawford 41, and Henry Clay 37. Clay stood
in with Mr. Adams in the House of Representatives deal, it was said, and
was appointed secretary of state under Mr. Adams as a result. This may not
be true, but a party told me about it who got it straight from Washington,
and he also told me in confidence that he made it a rule never to
Mr. Adams was opposed to American slavery, and on several occasions in
Congress alluded to his convictions.
He was in Congress seventeen years, and during that time he was frequently
on his feet attending to little matters in which he felt an interest, and
when he began to make allusions, and blush all over the top of his head,
and kick the desk, and throw ink-bottles at the presiding officer, they
say that John Q. made them pay attention. Seward says, "with unwavering
firmness, against a bitter and unscrupulous opposition, exasperated to the
highest pitch by his pertinacity--amidst a perfect tempest of vituperation
and abuse--he persevered in presenting his anti-slavery petitions, one by
one, to the amount sometimes of 200 in one day." As one of his eminent
biographers has truly said: "John Quincy Adams was indeed no slouch."
The Wail Of A Wife.
"Ethel" has written a letter to me and asked for a printed reply. Leaving
off the opening sentences, which I would not care to have fall into the
hands of my wife, her note is about as follows:
"---- Vt., Feb. 28, 1885.
My Dear Sir:
[Tender part of letter omitted for obvious reasons.] Would it be asking
too much for me to request a brief reply to one or two questions which
many other married women as well as myself would like to have answered?
I have been married now for five years. To-day is the anniversary of my
marriage. When I was single I was a teacher and supported myself in
comfort. I had more pocket-money and dressed fully as well if not better
than I do now. Why should girls who are abundantly able to earn their own
livelihood struggle to become the slave of a husband and children, and tie
themselves to a man when they might be free and happy?
I think too much is said by the men in a light and flippant manner about
the anxiety of young ladies to secure a home and a husband, and still they
do deserve a part of it, as I feel that I do now for assuming a great
burden when I was comparatively independent and comfortable.
Now, will you suggest any advice that you think would benefit the yet
unmarried and self-supporting girls who are liable to make the same
mistake that I did, and thus warn them in a manner that would be so much
more universal in its range, and reach so many more people than I could if
I should raise my voice? Do this and you will be gratefully remembered by
It would indeed be a tough, tough man who could ignore thy gentle plea,
Ethel; tougher far than the pale, intellectual hired man who now addresses
you in this private and underhanded manner, unknown to your husband.
Please destroy this letter, Ethel, as soon as you see it in print, so that
it will not fall into the hands of Mr. Ethel, for if it should, I am gone.
If your husband were to run across this letter in the public press I could
never look him in the eye again.
You say that you had more pocket-money before you were married than you
have since, Ethel, and you regret your rash step. I am sorry to hear it.
You also say that you wore better clothes when you were single than you do
now. You are also pained over that. It seems that marriage with you has
not paid any cash dividends. So that if you married Mr. Ethel as a
financial venture, it was a mistake. You do not state how it has affected
your husband. Perhaps he had more pocket-money and better clothes before
he married than he has since. Sometimes two people do well in business by
themselves, but when they go into partnership they bust higher than a
kite, if you will allow me the free, English translation of a Roman
expression which you might not fully understand if I should give it to you
in the original Roman.
Lots of self-supporting young ladies have married and had to go very light
on pin-money after that, and still they did not squeal, as you, dear
Ethel. They did not marry for revenue only. They married for protection.
(This is a little political bon mot which I thought of myself. Some of my
best jokes this spring are jokes that I thought of myself.)
No, Ethel, if you married expecting to be a dormant partner during the day
and then to go through Mr. Ethel's pantaloons pocket at night and declare
a dividend, of course life is full of bitter, bitter regret and
disappointment. Perhaps it is also for Mr. Ethel. Anyhow, I can't help
feeling a pang of sympathy for him. You do not say that he is unkind or
that he so far forgets himself as to wake you up in the morning with a
harsh tone of voice and a yearling club. You do not say that he asks you
for pocket-money, or, if so, whether you give it to him or not.
[Illustration: FOR REVENUE ONLY.]
Of course I want to do what is right in the solemn warning business, so I
will give notice to all simple young women who are now self-supporting and
happy, that there is no statute requiring them to assume the burdens of
wifehood and motherhood unless they prefer to do so. If they now have
abundance of pin-money and new clothes, they may remain single if they
wish without violating the laws of the land. This rule is also good when
applied to young and self-supporting young men who wear good clothes and
have funds in their pockets. No young man who is free, happy and
independent, need invest his money in a family or carry a colicky child
twenty-seven miles and two laps in one night unless he prefers it. But
those who go into it with the right spirit, Ethel, do not regret it.
I would just as soon tell you, Ethel, if you will promise that it shall go
no farther, that I do not wear as good clothes as I did before I was
married. I don't have to. My good clothes have accomplished what I got
them for. I played them for all they were worth, and since I got married
the idea of wearing clothes as a vocation has not occurred to me.
Please give my kind regards to Mr. Ethel, and tell him that although I do
not know him personally, I cannot help feeling sorry for him.
Last week for the first time I visited the granite obelisk known all over
the civilized world as Bunker Hill monument. Sixty years ago, if my memory
serves me correctly. General La Fayette, since deceased, laid the
corner-stone, and Daniel Webster made a few desultory remarks which I
cannot now recall. Eighteen years later it was formally dedicated, and
Daniel spoke a good piece, composed mostly of things that he had thought
up himself. There has never been a feature of the early history and
unceasing struggle for American freedom which has so roused my admiration
as this custom, quite prevalent among congressmen in those days, of
writing their own speeches.
Many of Webster's most powerful speeches were written by himself or at his
suggestion. He was a plain, unassuming man, and did not feel above writing
his speeches. I have always had the greatest respect and admiration for
Mr. Webster as a citizen, as a scholar and as an extemporaneous speaker,
and had he not allowed his portrait to appear last year in the _Century_,
wearing an air of intense gloom and a plug hat entirely out of style, my
respect and admiration would have continued indefinitely.
Bunker Hill monument is a great success as a monument, and the view from
its summit is said to be well worth the price of admission. I did not
ascend the obelisk, because the inner staircase was closed to visitors on
the day of my visit and the lightning rod on the outside looked to me as
though it had been recently oiled.
On the following day, however, I engaged a man to ascend the monument and
tell me his sensations. He assured me that they were first-rate. At the
feet of the spectator Boston and its environments are spread out in the
glad sunshine. Every day Boston spreads out her environments just that
Bunker Hill monument is 221 feet in height, and has been entirely paid
for. The spectator may look at the monument with perfect impunity, without
being solicited to buy some of its mortgage bonds. This adds much to the
genuine thrill of pleasure while gazing at it.
There is a Bunker Hill in Macoupin County, Illinois, also in Ingham
County, Michigan, and in Russell County, Kansas, but General Warren was
not killed at either of these points.
One hundred and ten years ago, on the 17th day of the present month, one
of America's most noted battles with the British was fought near where
Bunker Hill monument now stands. In that battle the British lost 1,050 in
killed and wounded, while the American loss numbered but 450. While the
people of this country are showing such an interest in our war history, I
am surprised that something has not been said about Bunker Hill. The
Federal forces from Roxbury to Cambridge were under command of General
Artemus Ward, the great American humorist. When the American humorist
really puts on his war paint and sounds the tocsin, he can organize a
great deal of mourning.
General Ward was assisted by Putnam, Starke, Prescott, Gridley and
Pomeroy. Colonel William Prescott was sent over from Cambridge to
Charlestown for the purpose of fortifying Bunker Hill. At a council of war
it was decided to fortify Breeds Hill, not so high but nearer to Boston
than Bunker Hill. So a redoubt was thrown up during the night on the
ground where the monument now stands.
The British landed a large force under Generals Howe and Pigot, and at 2
P.M. the Americans were reinforced by Generals Warren and Pomeroy. General
Warren was of a literary turn of mind and during the battle took his hat
off and recited a little poem beginning:
"Stand, the ground's your own, my braves!
Will ye give it up to slaves?"
A man who could deliver an impromptu and extemporaneous address like that
in public, and while there was such a bitter feeling of hostility on the
part of the audience, must have been a good scholar. In our great
fratricidal strife twenty years ago, the inferiority of our generals in
this respect was painfully noticeable. We did not have a commander who
could address his troops in rhyme to save his neck. Several of them were
pretty good in blank verse, but it was so blank that it was not just the
thing to fork over to posterity and speak in school afterward.
Colonel Prescott's statue now stands where he is supposed to have stood
when he told his men to reserve their fire till they saw the whites of the
enemy's eyes. Those who have examined the cast-iron flint-lock weapon used
in those days will admit that this order was wise. Those guns were in
union to health, of course, when used to excess, but not necessarily or
At the time of the third attack by the British, the Americans were out of
ammunition, but they met the enemy with clubbed muskets, and it was found
that one end of the rebel flint-lock was about as fatal as the other, if
not more so.
Boston still meets the invader with its club. The mayor says to the
citizens of Boston: "Wait till you can see the whites of the visitor's
eyes, and then go for him with your clubs." Then the visitor surrenders.
I hope that many years may pass before it will again be necessary for us
to soak this fair land in British blood. The boundaries of our land are
now more extended, and so it would take more blood to soak it.
Boston has just reason to be proud of Bunker Hill, and it was certainly a
great stroke of enterprise to have the battle located there. Bunker Hill
is dear to every American heart, and there are none of us who would not
have cheerfully gone into the battle then if we had known about it in
A Lumber Camp.
I have just returned from a little impromptu farewell tour in the lumber
camps toward Lake Superior. It was my idea to wade around in the snow for
a few weeks and swallow baked beans and ozone on the 1/2 shell. The affair
was a success. I put up at Bootjack camp on the raging Willow River, where
the gay-plumaged chipmunk and the spruce gum have their home.
Winter in the pine woods is fraught with fun and frolic. It is more
fraught with fatigue than funds, however. This winter a man in the
Michigan and Wisconsin lumber camps could arise at 4:30 A.M., eat a
patent pail full of dried apples soaked with Young Hyson and sweetened
with Persian glucose, go out to the timber with a lantern, hew down the
giants of the forest, with the snow up to the pit of his stomach, till the
gray owl in the gathering gloom whooped and hooted in derision, and all
for $12 per month and stewed prunes.
I did not try to accumulate wealth while I was in camp. I just allowed
others to enter into the mad rush and wrench a fortune from the hand of
fate while I studied human nature and the cook. I had a good many pleasant
days there, too. I read such literary works as I could find around the
camp, and smoked the royal Havana smoking tobacco of the cookee. Those who
have not lumbered much do not know much of true joy and sylvan smoking
They are not using a very good grade of the weed in the lumber regions
this winter. When I say lumber regions I do not refer entirely to the
circumstances of a weak back. (Monkey-wrench, oil can and screwdriver sent
with this joke; also rules for working it in all kinds of goods.) The
tobacco used by the pine choppers of the northern forest is called the
Scandihoovian. I do not know why they call it that, unless it is because
yon can smoke it in Wisconsin and smell it in Scandihoovia.
When night came we would gather around the blazing fire and talk over old
times and smoke this tobacco. I smoked it till last week, then I bought a
new mouth and resolved to lead a different life.
I shall never forget the evenings we spent together in that log shack in
the heart of the forest. They are graven on my memory where time's
effacing fingers can not monkey with them. We would most always converse.
The crew talked the Norwegian language and I am using the English language
mostly this winter. So each enjoyed himself in his own quiet way. This
seemed to throw the Norwegians a good deal together. It also threw me a
good deal together. The Scandinavians soon learn our ways and our
language, but prior to that they are quite clannish.
[Illustration: I TOOK A PIE.]
The cook, however, was an Ohio man. He spoke the Sandusky dialect with a
rich, nut brown flavor that did me much good, so that after I talked with
the crew a few hours in English, and received their harsh, corduroy
replies in Norske, I gladly fled to the cook shanty. There I could rapidly
change to the smoothly flowing sentences peculiar to the Ohio tongue, and
while I ate the common twisted doughnut of commerce, we would talk on and
on of the pleasant days we had spent in our native land. I don't know how
many hours I have thus spent, bringing the glad light into the eye of the
cook as I spoke to him of Mrs. Hayes, an estimable lady, partially
married, and now living at Fremont, Ohio.
I talked to him of his old home till the tears would unbidden start, as he
rolled out the dough with a common Budweiser beer bottle, and shed the
scalding into the flour barrel. Tears are always unavailing, but sometimes
I think they are more so when they are shed into a barrel of flour. He was
an easy weeper. He would shed tears on the slightest provocation, or
anything else. Once I told him something so touchful that his eyes were
blinded with tears for the nonce. Then I took a pie, and stole away so
that he could be alone with his sorrow.
He used to grind the coffee at 2 A.M. The coffee mill was nailed up
against a partition on the opposite side from my bed. That is one reason I
did not stay any longer at the camp. It takes about an hour to grind
coffee enough for thirty men, and as my ear was generally against the pine
boards when the cook began, it ruffled my slumbers and made me a morose
We had three men at the camp who snored. If they had snored in my own
language I could have endured it, but it was entirely unintelligible to me
as it was. Still, it wasn't bad either. They snored on different keys, and
still there was harmony in it--a kind of chime of imported snore as it
were. I used to lie and listen to it for hours. Then the cook would begin
his coffee mill overture and I would arise.
When I got home I slept from Monday morning till Washington's Birthday,
without food or water.
My Lecture Abroad.
Having at last yielded to the entreaties of Great Britain, I have decided
to make a professional farewell tour of England with my new and thrilling
lecture, entitled "Jerked Across the Jordan, or the Sudden and Deserved
Elevation of an American Citizen."
I have, therefore, already written some of the cablegrams which will be
sent to the Associated Press, in order to open the campaign in good shape
in America on my return.
Though I have been supplicated for some time by the people of England to
come over there and thrill them with my eloquence, my thriller has been
out of order lately, so that I did not dare venture abroad.
This lecture treats incidentally of the ease with which an American
citizen may rise in the Territories, when he has a string tied around his
neck, with a few personal friends at the other end of the string. It also
treats of the various styles of oratory peculiar to America, with
specimens of American oratory that have been pressed and dried especially
for this lecture. It is a good lecture, and the few straggling facts
scattered along through it don't interfere with the lecture itself in any
I shall appear in costume during the lecture.
At each lecture a different costume will be worn, and the costume worn at
the previous lecture will be promptly returned to the owner.
Persons attending the lecture need not be identified.
Polite American dude ushers will go through the audience to keep the flies
away from those who wish to sleep during the lecture.
Should the lecture be encored at its close, it will be repeated only once.
This encore business is being overdone lately, I think.
Following are some of the cablegrams I have already written. If any one
has any suggestions as to change, or other additional favorable
criticisms, they will be gratefully received; but I wish to reserve the
right, however, to do as I please about using them:
LONDON,---,---, --Bill Nye opened his foreign lecture engagement here last
evening with a can-opener. It was found to be in good order. As soon as
the doors were opened there was a mad rush for seats, during which three
men were fatally injured. They insisted on remaining through the lecture,
however, and adding to its horrors. Before 8 o'clock 500 people had been
turned away. Mr. Nye announced that he would deliver a matinee this
afternoon, but he has been petitioned by tradesmen to refrain from doing
so, as it will paralyze the business interests of the city to such a
degree that they offer to "buy the house," and allow the lecturer to
cancel his engagement.
LONDON,---,---. --The great lecturer and contortionist, Bill Nye, last
night closed his six weeks' engagement here with his famous lecture on
"The Rise and Fall of the American Horse Thief," with a grand benefit and
ovation. The elite of London was present, many of whom have attended every
evening for six weeks to hear this same lecture. Those who can afford it
will follow the lecturer back to America, in order to be where they can
hear this lecture almost constantly.
Mr. Nye, at the beginning of the season, offered a prize to anyone who
should neither be absent nor tardy through the entire six weeks. After
some hot discussion last evening, the prize was awarded to the janitor of
[Associated Press Cablegram]
LONDON,---,---. --Bill Nye will sail for America to-morrow in the
steamship Senegambia. On his arrival in America he will at once pay off
the national debt and found a large asylum for American dudes whose
mothers are too old to take in washing and support their sons in
The Miner at Home.
Receiving another notice of assessment on my stock in the Aladdin mine the
other day, reminded me that I was still interested in a bottomless hole
that was supposed at one time to yield funds instead of absorbing them.
The Aladdin claim was located in the spring of '76 by a syndicate of
journalists, none of whom had ever been openly accused of wealth. If we
had been, we could have proved an alibi.
We secured a gang of miners to sink on the discovery, consisting of a
Chinaman named How Long. How Long spoke the Chinese language with great
fluency. Being perfectly familiar with that language, and a little musty
in the trans-Missouri English, he would converse with us in his own
language, sometimes by the hour, courteously overlooking the fact that we
did not reply to him in the same tongue. He would converse in this way
till he ran down, generally, and then he would refrain for a while.
Finally, How Long signified that he would like to draw his salary. Of
course he was ignorant of our ways, and as innocent of any knowledge of
the intricate details peculiar to a mining syndicate as the child unborn.
So he had gone to the president of our syndicate and had been referred to
the superintendent, and he had sent How Long to the auditor, and the
auditor had told him to go to the gang boss and get his time, and then
proceed in the proper manner, after which, if his claim turned out to be
all right, we would call a meeting of the syndicate and take early action
in relation to it. By this, the reader will readily see that, although we
were not wealthy, we knew how to do business just the same as though we
had been a wealthy corporation.
How Long attended one of our meetings and at the close of the session made
a few remarks. As near as I am able to recall his language, it was very
much as follows:
"China boy no sabbe you dam slyndicate. You allee same foolee me too
muchee. How Long no chopee big hole in the glound allee day for health.
You Melican boy Laddee silver mine all same funny business. Me no likee
slyndicate. Slyndicate heap gone all same woodbine. You sabbe me? How Long
make em slyndicate pay tention. You April foolee me. You makee me tlired.
You putee me too much on em slate. Slyndicate no good. Allee time
stanemoff China boy. You allee time chin chin. Dlividend allee time heap
Owing to a strike which then took place in our mine, we found that, in
order to complete our assessment work, we must get in another crew or do
the job ourselves. Owing to scarcity of help and a feeling of antagonism
on the part of the laboring classes toward our giant enterprise, a feeling
of hostility which naturally exists between labor and capital, we had to
go out to the mine ourselves. We had heard of other men who had shoveled
in their own mines and were afterward worth millions of dollars, so we
took some bacon and other delicacies and hied us to the Aladdin.
Buck, our mining expert, went down first. Then he requested us to hoist
him out again. We did so. I have forgotten what his first remark was when
he got out of the bucket, but that don't make any difference, for I
wouldn't care to use it here anyway.
[Illustration: I HAVE FORGOTTEN HIS FIRST REMARK.]
It seems that How Long, owing to his heathenish ignorance of our customs
and the unavoidable delay in adjusting his claim for work, labor and
services, had allowed his temper to get the better of him, and he had
planted a colony of American skunks in the shaft of the Aladdin.
That is the reason we left the Aladdin mine and no one jumped it. We had
not done the necessary work in order to hold it, but when we went out
there the following spring we found that no one had jumped it.
Even the rough, coarse miner, far from civilizing influences and beyond
the reach of social advantages, recognizes the fact that this Little,
unostentatious animal plodding along through life in its own modest way,
yet wields a wonderful influence over the destinies of man. So the Aladdin
mine was not disturbed that summer.
We paid How Long, and in the following spring had a flattering offer for
the claim if it assayed as well as we said it would, so Buck, our expert,
went out to the Aladdin with an assayer and the purchaser. The assay of
the Aladdin showed up very rich indeed, far above anything that I had ever
hoped for, and so we made a sale. But we never got the money, for when the
assayer got home he casually assayed his apparatus and found that his
whole outfit had been salted prior to the Aladdin assay.
I do not think our expert, Buck, would salt an assayer's kit, but he was
charged with it at this time, and he said he would rather lose his trade
than have trouble over it. He would rather suffer wrong than to do wrong,
he said, and so the Aladdin came back on our hands.
It is not a very good mine if a man wants it as a source of revenue, but
it makes a mighty good well. The water is cold and clear as crystal. If it
stood in Boston, instead of out there in northern Colorado, where you
can't get at it more than three months in the year, it would be worth
$150. The great fault of the Aladdin mine is its poverty as a mine, and
its isolation as a well.
An Operatic Entertainment.
Last week we went up to the Coliseum, at Minneapolis, to hear Theodore
Thomas' orchestra, the Wagner trio and Christine Nilsson. The Coliseum
is a large rink just out of Minneapolis, on the road between that city
and St. Paul. It can seat 4,000 people comfortably, but the management
like to wedge 4,500 people in there on a warm day, and then watch the
perspiration trickle out through the clapboards on the outside. On the
closing afternoon, during the matinee performance, the building was
struck by lightning and a hole knocked out of the Corinthian duplex that
surmounts the oblique portcullis on the off side. The reader will see at
once the location of the bolt.
The lightning struck the flag-staff, ran down the leg of a man who was
repairing the electric light, took a chew of his tobacco, turned his
boot wrong side out and induced him to change his sock, toyed with a
chilblain, wrenched out a soft corn and roguishly put it in his ear,
then ran down the electric light wire, a part of it filling an
engagement in the Coliseum and the balance following the wire to the
depot, where it made double-pointed toothpicks of a pole fifty feet
high. All this was done very briefly. Those who have seen lightning toy
with a cottonwood tree, know that this fluid makes a specialty of it at
once and in a brief manner. The lightning in this case, broke the glass
in the skylight and deposited the broken fragments on a half dozen
parquette chairs, that were empty because the speculators who owned them
couldn't get but $50 apiece, and were waiting for a man to mortgage his
residence and sell a team. He couldn't make the transfer in time for the
matinee, so the seats were vacant when the lightning struck. The
immediate and previous fluid then shot athwart the auditorium in the
direction of the platform, where it nearly frightened to death a large
chorus of children. Women fainted, ticket speculators fell $2 on
desirable seats, and strong men coughed up a clove. The scene beggared
description. I intended to have said that before, but forgot it.
Theodore Thomas drew in a full breath, and Christine Nilsson drew her
salary. Two thousand strong men thought of their wasted lives, and two
thousand women felt for their back hair to see if it was still there. I
say, therefore, without successful contradiction, that the scene
beggared description. Chestnuts!
In the evening several people sang, "The Creation." Nilsson was Gabriel.
Gabriel has a beautiful voice cut low in the neck, and sings like a
joyous bobolink in the dew-saturated mead. How's that? Nilsson is proud
and haughty in her demeanor, and I had a good notion to send a note up
to her, stating that she needn't feel so lofty, and if she could sit up
in the peanut gallery where I was and look at herself, with her dress
kind of sawed off at the top, she would not be so vain. She wore a
diamond necklace and silk skirt The skirt was cut princesse, I think, to
harmonize with her salary. As an old neighbor of mine said when he
painted the top board of his fence green, he wanted it "to kind of
corroborate with his blinds." He's the same man who went to Washington
about the time of the Guiteau trial, and said he was present at the
"post mortise" examination. But the funniest thing of all, he said, was
to see Dr. Mary Walker riding one of these "philosophers" around on the
[Illustration: MAKING HIMSELF USEFUL.]
But I am wandering. We were speaking of the Festival. Theodore Thomas is
certainly a great leader. What a pity he is out of politics. He pounded
the air all up fine there, Thursday. I think he has 25 small-size
fiddles, 10 medium-size, and 5 of those big, fat ones that a bald-headed
man generally annoys. Then there were a lot of wind instruments, drums,
et cetera. There were 600 performers on the stage, counting the chorus,
with 4,500 people in the house and 3,000 outside yelling it the ticket
office--also at the top of their voices--and swearing because they
couldn't mortgage their immortal souls and hear Nilsson's coin silver
notes. It was frightful. The building settled twelve inches in those
two hours and a half, the electric lights went out nine times for
refreshments, and, on the whole, the entertainment was a grand success.
The first time the lights adjourned, an usher came in on the stage
through a side entrance with a kerosene lamp. I guess he would have
stood there and held it for Nilsson to sing by, if 4,500 people hadn't
with one voice laughed him out into the starless night. You might as
well have tried to light benighted Africa with a white bean. I shall
never forget how proud and buoyant he looked as he sailed in with that
kerosene lamp with a soiled chimney on it, and how hurt and grieved he
seemed when he took it and groped his way out, while the Coliseum
trembled with ill-concealed merriment. I use the term "ill-concealed
merriment" with permission of the proprietors, for this season only.
Dogs and Dog Days.
I take occasion at this time to ask the American people as one man, what
are we to do to prevent the spread of the most insidious and disagreeable
disease known as hydrophobia? When a fellow-being has to be smothered, as
was the case the other day right here in our fair land, a land where
tyrant foot hath never trod nor bigot forged a chain, we look anxiously
into each other's faces and inquire, what shall we do?
Shall we go to France at a great expense and fill our systems full of dog
virus and then return to our glorious land, where we may fork over that
virus to posterity and thus mix up French hydrophobia with the navy-blue
blood of free-born American citizens?
I wot not.
If I knew that would be my last wot I would not change it. That is just
wot it would be.
What shall we do to avoid getting impregnated with the American dog and
then saturating our systems with the alien dog of Paris?
It is a serious matter, and if we do not want to play the Desdemona act we
must take some timely precautions. What must those precautions be?
Did it ever occur to the average thinking mind that we might squeeze along
for weeks without a dog? Whole families have existed for years after being
deprived of dogs. Look at the wealthy of our land. They go on comfortably
through life and die at last with the unanimous consent of their heirs
Then why cannot the poor gradually taper off on dogs? They ought not to
stop all of a sudden, but they could leave off a dog at a time until at
last they overcame the pernicious habit.
I saw a man in St. Paul last week who was once poor, and so owned seven
variegated dogs. He was confirmed in that habit. But he summoned all his
will-power at last and said he would shake off these dogs and become a
man. He did so, and to-day he owns a city lot in St. Paul, and seems to be
the picture of health.
The trouble about maintaining a dog is that he may go on for years in a
quiet, gentlemanly way, winning the regard of all who know him, and then
all of a sudden he may hydrophobe in the most violent manner. Not only
that, but he may do so while we have company. He may also bite our twins
or the twins of our warmest friends. He may bite us now and we may laugh
at it, but in five years from now, while we are delivering a humorous
lecture, we may burst forth into the audience and bite a beautiful young
lady in the parquet or on the ear.
It is a solemn thing to think of, fellow-citizens, and I appeal to those
who may read this, as a man who may not live to see a satisfactory
political reform--I appeal to you to refrain from the dog. He is purely
ornamental. We may love a good dog, but we ought to love our children
more. It would be a very, very noble and expensive dog that I would agree
to feed with my only son.
I know that we gradually become attached to a good dog, but some day he
may become attached to us, and what can be sadder than the sight of a
leading citizen drawing a reluctant mad dog down the street by main
strength and the seat of his pantaloons? (I mean his own, not the dog's
pants. This joke will appear in book form in April. The book will be very
readable, and there will be another joke in it also. eod tf.)
I have said a good deal about the dog, pro and con, and I am not a rabid
dog abolitionist, for no one loves to have his clear-cut features licked
by the warm, wet tongue of a noble dog any more than I do, but rather than
see hydrophobia become a national characteristic or a leading industry
here, I would forego the dog.
Perhaps all men are that way, however. When they get a little forehanded
they forget that they were once poor, and owned dogs. If so, I do not wish
to be unfair. I want to be just, and I believe I am. Let us yield up our
dogs and take the affection that we would otherwise bestow on them on some
human being. I have tried it and it works well. There are thousands of
people in the world, of both sexes, who are pining and starving for the
love and money that we daily shower on the dog.
If the dog would be kind enough to refrain from introducing his justly
celebrated virus into the person of those only who kiss him on the cold,
moist nose, it would be all right; but when a dog goes mad he is very
impulsive, and he may bestow himself on an obscure man. So I feel a little
Probably few people have been more successful in the discovering line than
Christopher Columbus. Living as he did in a day when a great many things
were still in an undiscovered state, the horizon was filled with golden
opportunities for a man possessed of Mr. C.'s pluck and ambition. His life
at first was filled with rebuffs and disappointments, but at last he grew
to be a man of importance in his own profession, and the people who wanted
anything discovered would always bring it to him rather than take it
And yet the life of Columbus was a stormy one. Though he discovered a
continent wherein a millionaire attracts no attention, he himself was very
Though he rescued from barbarism a broad and beautiful land in whose
metropolis the theft of less than half a million of dollars is regarded as
petty larceny, Chris himself often went to bed hungry. Is it not singular
that the gray-eyed and gentle Columbus should have added a hemisphere to
the history of our globe, a hemisphere, too, where pie is a common thing,
not only on Sunday, but throughout the week, and yet that he should have
gone down to his grave pieless!
Such is the history of progress in all ages and in all lines of thought
and investigation. Such is the meagre reward of the pioneer in new fields
I presume that America to-day has a larger pie area than any other land in
which the Cockney English language is spoken. Right here where millions of
native born Americans dwell, many of whom are ashamed of the fact that
they were born here and which shame is entirely mutual between the Goddess
of Liberty and themselves, we have a style of pie that no other land can
From the bleak and acid dried apple pie of Maine to the irrigated mince
pie of the blue Pacific, all along down the long line of igneous, volcanic
and stratified pie, America, the land of the freedom bird with the high
instep to his nose, leads the world.
Other lands may point with undissembled pride to their polygamy and their
cholera, but we reck not. Our polygamy here is still in its infancy and
our leprosy has had the disadvantage of a cold, backward spring, but look
at our pie.
Throughout a long and disastrous war, sometimes referred to as a
fratricidal war, during which this fair land was drenched in blood, and
also during which aforesaid war numerous frightful blunders were made
which are fast coming to the surface--through the courtesy of participants
in said war who have patiently waited for those who blundered to die off,
and now admit that said participants who are dead did blunder exceedingly
throughout all this long and deadly struggle for the supremacy of liberty
and right--as I was about to say when my mind began to wobble, the
American pie has shown forth resplendent in the full glare of a noonday
sun or beneath the pale-green of the electric light, and she stands forth
proudly to-day with her undying loyalty to dyspepsia untrammeled and her
deep and deadly gastric antipathy still fiercely burning in her breast.
That is the proud history of American pie. Powers, principalities,
kingdoms and hand-made dynasties may crumble, but the republican form of
pie does not crumble. Tyranny may totter on its throne, but the American
pie does not totter. Not a tot. No foreign threat has ever been able to
make our common chicken pie quail. I do not say this because it is smart;
I simply say it to fill up.
But would it not do Columbus good to come among us to-day and look over
our free institutions? Would it not please him to ride over this continent
which has been rescued by his presence of mind from the thraldom of
barbarism and forked over to the genial and refining influences of
prohibition and pie?
America fills no mean niche in the great history of nations, and if you
listen carefully for a few moments you will hear some American, with his
mouth full of pie, make that remark. The American is always frank and
perfectly free to state that no other country can approach this one. We
allow no little two-for-a-quarter monarchy to excel us in the size of our
failures or in the calm and self-poised deliberation with which we erect a
monument to the glory of a worthy citizen who is dead, and therefore
The careless student of the career of Columbus will find much in these
lines that he has not yet seen. He will realize when he comes to read this
little sketch the pains and the trouble and the research necessary before
such an article on the life and work of Columbus could be written, and he
will thank me for it; but it is not for that that I have done it. It is a
pleasure for me to hunt up and arrange historical and biographical data in
a pleasing form for the student and savant. I am only too glad to please
and gratify the student and the savant. I was that way myself once and I
know how to sympathize with them,
P.S.--I neglected to state that Columbus was a married man. Still, he did
not murmur or repine.
Accepting the Laramie Postoffice.
Office of Daily Boomerang, Laramie City, Wy., Aug. 9, 1882.
My Dear General.--I have received by telegraph the news of my nomination
by the President and my confirmation by the Senate, as postmaster at
Laramie, and wish, to extend my thanks for the same.
I have ordered an entirely new set of boxes and postoffice outfit,
including new corrugated cuspidors for the lady clerks.
I look upon the appointment, myself, as a great triumph of eternal truth
over error and wrong. It is one of the epochs, I may say, in the Nation's
onward march toward political purity and perfection. I do not know when I
have noticed any stride in the affairs of state, which so thoroughly
impressed me with its wisdom.
Now that we are co-workers in the same department, I trust that you will
not feel shy or backward in consulting me at any time relative to matters
concerning postoffice affairs. Be perfectly frank with me, and feel
perfectly free to just bring anything of that kind right to me. Do not
feel reluctant because I may at times appear haughty and indifferent, cold
or reserved. Perhaps you do not think I know the difference between a
general delivery window and a three-m quad, but that is a mistake.
[Illustration: A NEW OFFICE OUTFIT.]
My general information is far beyond my years.
With profoundest regard, and a hearty endorsement of the policy of the
President and the Senate, whatever it may be,
I remain, sincerely yours,
Bill Nye, P.M.
Gen. Frank Hatton, Washington, D.C.
A Journalistic Tenderfoot.
Most everyone who has tried the publication of a newspaper will call to
mind as he reads this item, a similar experience, though, perhaps, not so
pronounced and protuberant.
Early one summer morning a gawky young tenderfoot, both as to the West and
the details of journalism, came into the office and asked me for a job as
correspondent to write up the mines in North Park. He wore his hair
longish and tried to make it curl. The result was a greasy coat collar and
the general _tout ensemble_ of the genus "smart Aleck." He had also
clothed himself in the extravagant clothes of the dime novel scout and
beautiful girl-rescuer of the Indian country. He had been driven west by a
wild desire to hunt the flagrant Sioux warrior, and do a general Wild Bill
business; hoping, no doubt, before the season closed, to rescue enough
beautiful captive maidens to get up a young Vassar College in Wyoming or
I told him that we did not care for a mining correspondent who did not
know a piece of blossom rock from a geranium. I knew it took a man a good
many years to gain knowledge enough to know where to sink a prospect shaft
even, and as to passing opinions on a vein, it would seem almost wicked
and sacriligious to send a man out there among those old grizzly miners
who had spent their lives in bitter experience, unless the young man could
readily distinguish the points of difference between a chunk of free
milling quartz and a fragment of bologna sausage.
He still thought he could write us letters that would do the paper some
eternal good, and though I told him, as he wrung my hand and left, to
refrain from writing or doing any work for us, he wrote a letter before he
had reached the home station on the stage road, or at least sent us a long
letter from there. It might have been written before he started, however.
The letter was of the "we-have-went" and "I-have-never-saw" variety, and
he spelt curiosity "qrossity." He worked hard to get the word into his
alleged letter, and then assassinated it.
Well, we paid no attention whatever to the letter, but meantime he got
into the mines, and the way he dead-headed feed and sour mash, on the
strength of his relations with the press, made the older miners weep.
Buck Bramel got a little worried and wrote to me about it. He said that
our soft-eyed mining savant was getting us a good many subscribers, and
writing up every little gopher hole in North Park, and living on
Cincinnati quail, as we miners call bacon; but he said that none of these
fine, blooming letters, regarding the assays on "The Weasel Asleep," "The
Pauper's Dream," "The Mary Ellen" and "The Over Draft," ever seemed to
crop out in the paper.
Why was it?
I wrote back that the white-eyed pelican from the buckwheat-enamelled
plains of Arkansas had not remitted, was not employed by us, and that I
would write and publish a little card of introduction for the bilious
litterateur that would make people take in their domestic animals, and
lock up their front fences and garden fountains.
In the meantime they sent him up the gulch to find some "float." He had
wandered away from camp thirty miles before he remembered that he didn't
know what float looked like. Then he thought he would go back and inquire.
He got lost while in a dark brown study and drifted into the bosom of the
unknowable. He didn't miss the trail until a perpendicular wall of the
Rocky Mountains, about 900 feet high, rose up and hit him athwart the
[Illustration: COMMUNING WITH NATURE.]
He communed with nature and the coyotes one night and had a pretty tough
time of it. He froze his nose partially off, and the coyotes came and
gnawed his little dimpled toes. He passed a wretched night, and was
greatly annoyed by the cold, which at that elevation sends the mercury
toward zero all through the summer nights.
Of course he pulled the zodiac partially over him, and tried to button his
alapaca duster a little closer, but his sleep was troubled by the
sociability of the coyotes and the midnight twitter of the mountain lion.
He ate moss agates rare and spruce gum for breakfast. When he got to the
camp he looked like a forty-day starvationist hunting for a job.
They asked him if he found any float, and he said he didn't find a blamed
drop of water, say nothing about float, and then they all laughed a merry
laugh, and said that if he showed up at daylight the next morning within
the limits of the park, the orders were to burn him at the stake.
The next morning neither he nor the best bay mule on the Troublesome was
to be seen with naked eye. After that we heard of him in the San Juan
He had lacerated the finer feelings of the miners down there, and had
violated the etiquette of San Juan, so they kicked a flour barrel out from
under him one day when he was looking the other way, and being a poor
tight-rope performer, he got tangled up with a piece of inch rope in such
a way that he died of his injuries.
The Amateur Carpenter.
In my opinion every professional man should keep a chest of carpenters'
tools in his barn or shop, and busy himself at odd hours with them in
constructing the varied articles that are always needed about the house.
There is a great deal of pleasure in feeling your own independence of
other trades, and more especially of the carpenter. Every now and then
your wife will want a bracket put up in some corner or other, and with
your new, bright saw and glittering hammer you can put up one upon which
she can hang a cast-iron horse-blanket lambrequin, with inflexible water
lilies sewed in it.
A man will, if he tries, readily learn to do a great many such little
things and his wife will brag on him to other ladies, and they will make
invidious comparisons between their husbands who can't do anything of that
kind whatever, and you who are "so handy."
Firstly, you buy a set of amateur carpenter tools. You do not need to say
that you are an amateur. The dealer will find that out when you ask him
for an easy-running broad-ax or a green-gage plumb line. He will sell you
a set of amateur's tools that will be made of old sheet-iron with basswood
handles, and the saws will double up like a piece of stovepipe.
After you have nailed a board on the fence successfully, you will very
naturally desire to do something much better, more difficult. You will
probable try to erect a parlor table or rustic settee.
I made a very handsome bracket last week, and I was naturally proud of it.
In fastening it together, if I hadn't inadvertently nailed it to the barn
floor, I guess I could have used it very well, but in tearing it loose
from the barn, so that the two could be used separately, I ruined a
bracket that was intended to serve as the base, as it were, of a
lambrequin which cost nine dollars, aside from the time expended on it.
During the month of March I built an ice-chest for this summer. It was not
handsome, but it was roomy, and would be very nice for the season of 1886,
I thought. It worked pretty well through March and April, but as the
weather begins to warm up that ice-chest is about the warmest place around
the house. There is actually a glow of heat around that ice-chest that I
don't notice elsewhere. I've shown it to several personal friends. They
seem to think it is not built tightly enough for an ice-chest. My brother
looked at it yesterday, and said that his idea of an ice-chest was that it
ought to be tight enough at least to hold the larger chunks of ice so that
they would not escape through the pores of the ice-box. He says he never
built one, but that it stood to reason that a refrigerator like that ought
to be constructed so that it would keep the cows out of it. You don't want
to have a refrigerator that the cattle can get through the cracks of and
eat up your strawberries on ice, he says.
A neighbor of mine who once built a hen resort of laths, and now wears a
thick thumb-nail that looks like a Brazil nut as a memento of that pullet
corral, says my ice-chest is all right enough, only that it is not suited
to this climate. He thinks that along Behring's Strait, during the
holidays, my ice-chest would work like a charm. And even here, he thought,
if I could keep the fever out of my chest there would be less pain.
I have made several other little articles of _vertu_ this spring, to the
construction of which I have contributed a good deal of time and two
finger nails. I have also sawed into my leg two or three times. The leg,
of course, will get well, but the pantaloons will not. Parties wishing to
meet me in my studio during the morning hour will turn into the alley
between Eighth and Ninth streets, enter the third stable door on the left,
pass around behind my Gothic horse, and give the countersign and three
kicks on the door in an ordinary tone of voice.
The Average Hen.
I am convinced that there is great economy in keeping hens if we have
sufficient room for them and a thorough knowledge of how to manage the
fowl property. But to the professional man, who is not familiar with the
habits of the hen, and whose mind does not naturally and instinctively
turn henward, I would say: Shun her as you would the deadly upas tree of
Piscataquis county, Me.
Nature has endowed the hen with but a limited amount of brain-force. Any
one will notice that if he will compare the skull of the average self-made
hen with that of Daniel Webster, taking careful measurements directly over
the top from one ear to the other, the well-informed brain student will at
once notice a great falling-off in the region of reverence and an abnormal
bulging out in the location of alimentiveness.
Now take your tape-measure and, beginning at memory, pass carefully over
the occiputal bone to the base of the brain in the region of love of home
and offspring and you will see that, while the hen suffers much in
comparison with the statement in the relative size of sublimity,
reflection, spirituality, time, tune, etc., when it comes to love of home
and offspring she shines forth with great splendor.
The hen does not care for the sublime in nature. Neither does she care for
music. Music hath no charms to soften her tough old breast. But she loves
her home and her country. I have sought to promote the interests of the
hen to some extent, but I have not been a marked success in that line.
I can write a poem in fifteen minutes. I always could dash off a poem
whenever I wanted to, and a very good poem, too, for a dashed poem. I
could write a speech for a friend in congress--a speech that would be
printed in the Congressional Record and go all over the United States and
be read by no one. I could enter the field of letters anywhere and attract
attention, but when it comes to setting a hen I feel that I am not worthy.
I never feel my utter unworthiness as I do in the presence of a setting
When the adult hen in my presence expresses a desire to set I excuse
myself and go away. That is the supreme moment when a hen desires to be
alone. That is no time for me to introduce my shallow levity, I never do
it is after death that I most fully appreciate the hen. When she has
been cut down early in life and fried I respect her. No one can look upon
the still features of a young hen overtaken by death in life's young
morning, snuffed out as it were, like an old tin lantern in a gale of
wind, without being visibly affected.
But it is not the hen who desires to set for the purpose of getting out an
early edition of spring chickens that I am averse to. It is the aged hen,
who is in her dotage, and whose eggs, also, are in their second childhood.
Upon this hen I shower my anathemas. Overlooked by the pruning hook of
time, shallow in her remarks, and a wall-flower in society, she deposits
her quota of eggs in the catnip conservatory, far from the haunts of men,
and then in August, when eggs are extremely low and her collection of no
value to any one but the antiquarian, she proudly calls attention to her
This hen does not win the general confidence. Shunned by good society
during life, her death is only regretted by those who are called upon to
assist at her obsequies. Selfish through life, her death is regarded as a
calamity by those alone who are expected to eat her.
And what has such a hen to look back upon in her closing hours? A long
life, perhaps, for longevity is one of the characteristics of this class
of hens; but of what has that life been productive? How many golden hours
has she frittered away hovering over a porcelain door-knob trying to hatch
out a litter of Queen Anne cottages. How many nights has she passed in
solitude on her lonely nest, with a heart filled with bitterness toward
all mankind, hoping on against hope that in the fall she would come off
the nest with a cunning little brick block, perhaps.
[Illustration: THE RESULT OF PATIENCE.]
Such is the history of the aimless hen. While others were at work she
stood around with her hands in her pockets and criticised the policy of
those who labored, and when the summer waned she came forth with nothing
but regret to wander listlessly about and freeze off some more of her feet
during the winter. For such a hen death can have no terrors.
Woodtick William's Story.
We had about as ornery and triflin' a crop of kids in Calaveras county,
thirty years ago, as you could gather in with a fine-tooth comb and a
brass band in fourteen States. For ways that was kittensome they were
moderately active and abnormally protuberant. That was the prevailing
style of Calaveras kid, when Mr. George W. Mulqueen come there and wanted
to engage the school at the old camp, where I hung up in the days when the
country was new and the murmur of the six-shooter was heard in the land.
[Illustration: WINNING THEIR YOUNG LOVE.]
"George W. Mulqueen was a slender young party from the effete East, with
conscientious scruples and a hectic flush. Both of these was agin him for
a promoter of school discipline and square root. He had a heap of
information and big sorrowful eyes.
"So fur as I was concerned, I didn't feel like swearing around George or
using any language that would sound irrelevant in a ladies' boodore; but
as for the kids of the school, they didn't care a blamed cent. They just
hollered and whooped like a passle of Sioux.
"They didn't seem to respect literary attainments or expensive knowledge.
They just simply seemed to respect the genius that come to that country to
win their young love with a long-handled shovel and a blood-shot tone of
voice. That's what seemed to catch the Calaveras kids in the early days.
"George had weak lungs, and they kept to work at him till they drove him
into a mountain fever, and finally into a metallic sarcophagus.
"Along about the holidays the sun went down on George W. Mulqueen's life,
just as the eternal sunlight lit up the dewy eyes. You will pardon my
manner, Nye, but it seemed to me just as if George had climbed up to the
top of Mount Cavalry, or wherever it was, with that whole school on his
back, and had to give up at last.
"It seemed kind of tough to me, and I couldn't help blamin' it onto the
school some, for there was a half a dozen big snoozers that didn't go to
school to learn, but just to raise Ned and turn up Jack.
"Well, they killed him, anyhow, and that settled it.
"The school run kind of wild till Feboowary, and then a husky young
tenderfoot, with a fist like a mule's foot in full bloom, made an
application for the place, and allowed he thought he could maintain
discipline if they'd give him a chance. Well, they ast him when he wanted
to take his place as tutor, and he reckoned he could begin to tute about
"Sunday afternoon he went up to the school-house to look over the ground,
and to arrange a plan for an active Injin campaign agin the hostile
hoodlums of Calaveras.
"Monday he sailed in about 9 A.M. with his grip-sack, and begun the
discharge of his juties.
"He brought in a bunch of mountain-willers, and, after driving a big
railroad-spike into the door-casing, over the latch, he said the senate
and house would sit with closed doors during the morning session. Several
large, white-eyed holy terrors gazed at him in a kind of dumb, inquiring
tone of voice, but he didn't say much. He seemed considerably reserved as
to the plan of the campaign. The new teacher then unlocked his
alligator-skin grip, and took out a Bible and a new self-cocking weepon
that had an automatic dingus for throwing out the empty shells. It was one
of the bull-dog variety, and had the laugh of a joyous child.
"He read a short passage from the Scriptures, and then pulled off his coat
and hung it on a nail. Then he made a few extemporaneous remarks, after
which he salivated the palm of his right hand, took the self-cocking
songster in his left, and proceeded to wear out the gads over the varied
protuberances of his pupils.
"People passing by thought they must be beating carpets in the
school-house. He pointed the gun at his charge with his left and
manipulated the gad with his right duke. One large, overgrown Missourian
tried to crawl out of the winder, but, after he had looked down the barrel
of the shooter a moment, he changed his mind. He seemed to realize that it
would be a violation of the rules of the school, so he came back and sat
"After he wore out the foliage, Bill, he pulled the spike out of that
door, put on his coat and went away. He never was seen there again. He
didn't ask for any salary, but just walked off quietly, and that summer we
accidently heard that he was George W. Mulqueen's brother."
I have just returned from a polite and recherche party here. Washington is
the hot-bed of gayety, and general headquarters for the recherche
business. It would be hard to find a bontonger aggregation than the one I
was just at, to use the words of a gentleman who was there, and who asked
me if I wrote "The Heathen Chinee."
He was a very talented man, with a broad sweep of skull and a vague
yearning for something more tangible--to drink. He was in Washington, he
said, in the interests of Mingo county. I forgot to ask him where Mingo
county might be. He took a great interest in me, and talked with me long
after he really had anything to say. He was one of those fluent
conversationalists frequently met with in society. He used one of these
web-perfecting talkers--the kind that can be fed with raw Roman punch,
and that will turn out punctuated talk in links, like varnished sausages.
Being a poor talker myself, and rather more fluent as a listener, I did
not interrupt him.
He said that he was sorry to notice how young girls and their parents came
to Washington as they would to a matrimonial market.
I was sorry also to hear it. It pained me to know that young ladies should
allow themselves to be bamboozled into matrimony. Why was it, I asked,
that matrimony should ever single out the young and fair?
"Ah," said he, "it is indeed rough!"
He then breathed a sigh that shook the foilage of the speckled geranium
near by, and killed an artificial caterpillar that hung on its branches.
"Matrimony is all right," said he, "if properly brought about. It breaks
my heart, though, to notice how Washington is used as a matrimonial
market. It seems to me almost as if these here young ladies were brought
here like slaves and exposed for sale." I had noticed that they were
somewhat exposed, but I did not know that they were for sale. I asked him
if the waists of party dresses had always been so sadly in the minority,
and he said they had.
I danced with a beautiful young lady whose trail had evidently caught in a
doorway. She hadn't noticed it till she had walked out partially through
I do not think a lady ought to give too much thought to her apparel;
neither should she feel too much above her clothes. I say this in the
kindest spirit, because I believe that man should be a friend to woman. No
family circle is complete without a woman. She is like a glad landscape to
the weary eye. Individually and collectively, woman is a great adjunct of
civilization and progress. The electric light is a good thing, but how
pale and feeble it looks by the light of a good woman's eyes. The
telephone is a great invention. It is a good thing to talk at, and murmur
into and deposit profanity in; but to take up a conversation, and keep it
up, and follow a man out through the front door with it, the telephone has
still much to learn from woman.
It is said that our government officials are not sufficiently paid; and I
presume that is the case, so it became necessary to economize in every
way; but, why should wives concentrate all their economy on the waist of a
dress? When chest protectors are so cheap as they now are. I hate to see
people suffer, and there is more real suffering, more privation and more
destitution, pervading the Washington scapula and clavicle this winter
than I ever saw before.
But I do not hope to change this custom, though I spoke to several ladies
about it, and asked them to think it over. I do not think they will. It
seems almost wicked to cut off the best part of a dress and put it at the
other end of the skirt, to be trodden under feet of men, as I may say.
They smiled good humoredly at me as I tried to impress my views upon them,
but should I go there again next season and mingle in the mad whirl of
Washington, where these fair women are also mingling in said mad whirl, I
presume that I will find them clothed in the same gaslight waist, with
trimmings of real vertebrae down the back.
Still, what does a man know about the proper costume of a woman? He knows
nothing whatever. He is in many ways a little inconsistent. Why does a man
frown on a certain costume for his wife, and admire it on the first woman
he meets? Why does he fight shy of religion and Christianity and talk very
freely about the church, but get mad if his wife is an infidel?
Crops around Washington are looking well. Winter wheat, crocusses and
indefinite postponements were never in a more thrifty condition. Quite a
number of people are here who are waiting to be confirmed. Judging from
their habits, they are lingering around here in order to become confirmed
I leave here to-morrow with a large, wet towel in my plug hat. Perhaps I
should have said nothing on this dress reform question while my hat is
fitting me so immediately. It is seldom that I step aside from the beaten
path of rectitude, but last evening, on the way home, it seemed to me that
I didn't do much else but step aside. At these parties no charge is made
for punch. It is perfectly free. I asked a colored man who was standing
near the punch bowl, and who replenished it ever and anon, what the damage
was, and he drew himself up to his full height.
Possibly I did wrong, but I hate to be a burden on anyone. It seemed odd
to me to go to a first-class dance and find the supper and the band and
the rum all paid for. It must cost a good deal of money to run this
My Experience as an Agriculturist.
During the past season I was considerably interested in agriculture. I met
with some success, but not enough to madden me with joy. It takes a good
deal of success to unscrew my reason and make it totter on its throne.
I've had trouble with my liver, and various other abnormal conditions of
the vital organs, but old reason sits there on his or her throne, as the
case may be, through it all.
Agriculture has a charm about it which I can not adequately describe.
Every product of the farm is furnished by nature with something that loves
it, so that it will never be neglected. The grain crop is loved by the
weevil, the Hessian fly, and the chinch bug; the watermelon, the squash
and the cucumber are loved by the squash bug; the potato is loved by the
potato bug; the sweet corn is loved by the ant, thou sluggard; the tomato
is loved by the cut-worm; the plum is loved by the curculio, and so forth,
and so forth, so that no plant that grows need be a wall-flower. [Early
blooming and extremely dwarf joke for the table. Plant as soon as there is
no danger of frosts, in drills four inches apart. When ripe, pull it, and
eat raw with vinegar. The red ants may be added to taste.]
Well, I began early to spade up my angle-worms and other pets, to see if
they had withstood the severe winter. I found they had. They were
unusually bright and cheerful. The potato bugs were a little sluggish at
first, but as the spring opened and the ground warmed up they pitched
right in, and did first-rate. Every one of my bugs in May looked
splendidly. I was most worried about my cut-worms. Away along in April I
had not seen a cutworm, and I began to fear they had suffered, and perhaps
perished, in the extreme cold of the previous winter.
One morning late in the month, however, I saw a cut-worm come out from
behind a cabbage stump and take off his ear muff. He was a little stiff in
the joints, but he had not lost hope. I saw at once now was the time to
assist him if I had a spark of humanity left. I searched every work I
could find on agriculture to find out what it was that farmers fed their
blamed cut-worms, but all scientists seemed to be silent. I read the
agricultural reports, the dictionary, and the encyclopedia, but they
didn't throw any light on the subject. I got wild. I feared that I had
brought but one cut-worm through the winter, and I was liable to lose him
unless I could find out what to feed him. I asked some of my neighbors,
but they spoke jeeringly and sarcastically. I know now how it was. All
their cut-worms had frozen down last winter, and they couldn't bear to see
me get ahead.
[Illustration: THEY SPOKE JEERINGLY.]
All at once, an idea struck me. I haven't recovered from the concussion
yet. It was this: the worm had wintered under a cabbage stalk; no doubt he
was fond of the beverage. I acted upon this thought and bought him two
dozen red cabbage plants, at fifty cents a dozen. I had hit it the first
pop. He was passionately fond of these plants, and would eat three in one
night. He also had several matinees and sauerkraut lawn festivals for his
friends, and in a week I bought three dozen more cabbage plants. By this
time I had collected a large group of common scrub cut-worms, early
Swedish cut-worms, dwarf Hubbard cut-worms, and short-horn cut-worms, all
doing well, but still, I thought, a little hide-bound and bilious. They
acted languid and listless. As my squash bugs, currant worms, potato bugs,
etc., were all doing well without care, I devoted myself almost
exclusively to my cut-worms. They were all strong and well, but they
seemed melancholy with nothing to eat, day after day, but cabbages.
I therefore bought five dozen tomato plants that were tender and large.
These I fed to the cut-worms at the rate of eight or ten in one night. In
a week the cut-worms had thrown off that air of _ennui_ and languor that I
had I formerly noticed, and were gay and light-hearted. I got them some
more tomato plants, and then some more cabbage for change. On the whole I
was as proud as any young farmer who has made a success of anything,
One morning I noticed that a cabbage plant was left standing unchanged.
The next day it was still there. I was thunderstruck. I dug into the
ground. My cut-worms were gone. I spaded up the whole patch, but there
wasn't one. Just as I had become attached to them, and they had learned to
look forward each day to my coming, when they would almost come up and eat
a tomato-plant out of my hand, some one had robbed me of them. I was
almost wild with despair and grief. Suddenly something tumbled over my
foot. It was mostly stomach, but it had feet on each corner. A neighbor
said it was a warty toad. He had eaten up my summer's work! He had
swallowed my cunning little cut-worms. I tell you, gentle reader, unless
some way is provided, whereby this warty toad scourge can be wiped out, I
for one shall relinquish the joys of agricultural pursuits. When a common
toad, with a sallow complexion and no intellect, can swallow up my
summer's work, it is time to pause.
A New Autograph Album.
This autograph business is getting to be a little bit tedious. It is all
one-sided. I want to get even some how, on some one. If I can't come back
at the autograph fiend himself, perhaps I might make some other fellow
creature unhappy. That would take my mind off the woes that are inflicted
by the man who is making a collection of the autographs of "prominent
men," and who sends a printed circular formally demanding your autograph,
as the tax collector would demand your tax.
John Comstock, the President of the First National Bank, of Hudson, the
other day suggested an idea. I gave him an autograph copy of my last great
work, and he said: "Now, I'm a man of business. You gave me your
autograph, I give you mine in return. That's what we call business." He
then signed a brand new $5 national bank note, the cashier did ditto, and
the two autographs were turned over to me.
Now, how would it do to make a collection of the signatures of the
presidents and cashiers of national banks of the United States in the
above manner? An album containing the autographs of these bank officials
would not only be a handsome heirloom to fork over to posterity, but it
would possess intrinsic value. In pursuance of this idea, I have been
considering the advisability of issuing the following letter:
To the Presidents and Cashiers of the National Banks of the United States.
Gentlemen--I am now engaged in making a collection of the autographs of
the presidents and cashiers of national banks throughout the Union, and to
make the collection uniform, I have decided to ask for autographs written
at the foot of the national currency bank note of the denomination of $5.
I am not sectarian in my religious views, and I only suggest this
denomination for the sake of uniformity throughout the album.
Card collections, cat albums and so forth, may please others, but I prefer
to make a collection that shall show future ages who it was that built up
our finances, and furnished the sinews of war. Some may look upon this
move as a mercenary one, but with me it is a passion. It is not simply a
freak, it is a desire of my heart.
In return I would be glad to give my own autograph, either by itself or
attached to some little gem of thought which might occur to my mind at the
I have always taken a great interest in the currency of the country. So
far as possible I have made it a study. I have watched its growth, and
noted with some regret its natural reserve. I may say that, considering
meagre opportunities and isolated advantages afforded me, no one is more
familiar with the habits of our national currency than I am. Yet, at times
my laboratory has not been so abundantly supplied with specimens as I
could have wished. This has been my chief drawback.
I began a collection of railroad passes some time ago, intending to file
them away and pass the collection down through the dim vista of coming
years, but in a rash moment I took a trip of several thousand miles, and
those passes were taken up.
I desire, in conclusion, gentlemen, to call your attention to the fact
that I have always been your friend and champion. I have never robbed the
bank of a personal friend, and if I held your autographs I should deem you
my personal friends, and feel in honor bound to discourage any movement
looking toward an unjust appropriation of the funds of your bank. The
autographs of yourselves in my possession, and my own in your hands, would
be regarded as a tacit agreement on my part never to rob your bank. I
would even be willing to enter into a contract with you not to break into
your vaults, if you insist upon it. I would thus be compelled to confine
myself to the stage coaches and railroad trains in a great measure, but I
am getting now so I like to spend my evenings at home, anyhow, and if I do
well this year, I shall sell my burglars' tools and give myself up to the
You will understand, gentlemen, the delicate nature of this request, I
trust, and not misconstrue my motives. My intentions are perfectly
honorable, and my idea in doing this is, I may say, to supply a long felt
Hoping that what I have said will meet with your approval and hearty
cooperation, and that our very friendly business relations, as they have
existed in the past, may continue through the years to come, and that your
bank may wallow in success till the cows come home, or words to that
effect, I beg leave to subscribe myself, yours in favor of one country,
one flag and one bank account.
Postoffice Divan, Laramie City, W.T., Oct. 1, 1883.
To the President of the United States:
Sir.--I beg leave at this time to officially tender my resignation as
postmaster at this place, and in due form to deliver the great seal and
the key to the front door of the office. The safe combination is set on
the numbers 33, 66 and 99, though I do not remember at this moment which
comes first, or how many times you revolve the knob, or which direction
you should turn it at first in order to make it operate.
There is some mining stock in my private drawer in the safe, which I have
not yet removed. This stock you may have, if you desire it. It is a
luxury, but you may have it. I have decided to keep a horse instead of
this mining stock. The horse may not be so pretty, but it will cost less
to keep him.
You will find the postal cards that have not been used under the
distributing table, and the coal down in the cellar. If the stove draws
too hard, close the damper in the pipe and shut the general delivery
Looking over my stormy and eventful administration as postmaster here, I
find abundant cause for thanksgiving. At the time I entered upon the
duties of my office the department was not yet on a paying basis. It was
not even self-sustaining. Since that time, with the active co-operation of
the chief executive and the heads of the department, I have been able to
make our postal system a paying one, and on top of that I am now able to
reduce the tariff on average-sized letters from three cents to two. I