Part 4 out of 9
might add that this is rather too too, but I will not say anything that
might seem undignified in an official resignation which is to become a
matter of history.
Through all the vicissitudes of a tempestuous term of office I have safely
passed. I am able to turn over the office to-day in a highly improved
condition, and to present a purified and renovated institution to my
Acting under the advice of Gen. Hatton, a year ago, I removed the feather
bed with which my predecessor, Deacon Hayford, had bolstered up his
administration by stuffing the window, and substituted glass. Finding
nothing in the book of instructions to postmasters which made the feather
bed a part of my official duties, I filed it away in an obscure place and
burned it in effigy, also in the gloaming. This act maddened my
predecessor to such a degree, that he then and there became a candidate
for justice of the peace on the Democratic ticket. The Democratic party
was able, however, with what aid it secured from the Republicans, to plow
the old man under to a great degree.
[Illustration: STRICT ATTENTION TO BUSINESS.]
It was not long after I had taken my official oath before an era of
unexampled prosperity opened for the American people. The price of beef
rose to a remarkable altitude, and other vegetables commanded a good
figure and a ready market. We then began to make active preparations for
the introduction of the strawberry-roan two-cent stamps and the
black-and-tan postal note. One reform has crowded upon the heels of
another, until the country is to-day upon the foam-crested wave of
Mr. President, I cannot close this letter without thanking yourself and
the heads of departments at Washington for your active, cheery and prompt
cooperation in these matters. You can do as you see fit, of course, about
incorporating this idea into your Thanksgiving proclamation, but rest
assured it would not be ill-timed or inopportune. It is not alone a credit
to myself, It reflects credit upon the administration also.
I need not say that I herewith transmit my resignation with great sorrow
and genuine regret. We have toiled on together month after month, asking
for no reward except the innate consciousness of rectitude and the salary
as fixed by law. Now we are to separate. Here the roads seem to fork, as
it were, and you and I, and the cabinet, must leave each other at this
You will find the key under the door-mat, and you had better turn the cat
out at night when you close the office. If she does not go readily, you
can make it clearer to her mind by throwing the cancelling stamp at her.
If Deacon Hayford does not pay up his box-rent, you might as well put his
mail in the general delivery, and when Bob Head gets drunk and insists on
a letter from one of his wives every day in the week, you can salute him
through the box delivery with an old Queen Anne tomahawk, which you will
find near the Etruscan water-pail. This will not in any manner surprise
either of these parties.
Tears are unavailing. I once more become a private citizen, clothed only
with the right to read such postal cards as may be addressed to me
personally, and to curse the inefficiency of the postoffice department. I
believe the voting class to be divided into two parties, viz: Those who
are in the postal service, and those who are mad because they cannot
receive a registered letter every fifteen minutes of each day, including
Mr. President, as an official of this Government I now retire. My term of
office would not expire until 1886. I must, therefore, beg pardon for my
eccentricity in resigning. It will be best, perhaps, to keep the
heart-breaking news from the ears of European powers until the dangers of
a financial panic are fully past. Then hurl it broadcast with a sickening
I have decided to sacrifice another valuable piece of mining property this
spring. It would not be sold if I had the necessary capital to develop it.
It is a good mine, for I located it myself. I remember well the day I
climbed up on the ridge-pole of the universe and nailed my location notice
to the eaves of the sky.
It was in August that I discovered the Vanderbilt claim in a snow-storm.
It cropped out apparently a little southeast of a point where the arc of
the orbit of Venus bisects the milky way, and ran due east eighty chains,
three links and a swivel, thence south fifteen paces and a half to a blue
spot in the sky, thence proceeding west eighty chains, three links of
sausage and a half to a fixed star, thence north across the lead to place
The Vanderbilt set out to be a carbonate deposit, but changed its mind. I
sent a piece of the cropping to a man over in Salt Lake, who is a good
assayer and quite a scientist, if he would brace up and avoid humor. His
assay read as follows to-wit:
Salt Lake City, U.T., August 25, 1877.
Mr. Bill Nye:--Your specimen of ore No. 35832, current series, has been
submitted to assay and shows the following result:
Metal. Ounces. Value per ton.
Gold -- --
Silver -- --
Railroad iron 1 --
Pyrites of poverty 9 --
Parasites of disappointment 90 --
Note.--I also find that the formation is igneous, prehistoric and
erroneous. If I were you I would sink a prospect shaft below the vertical
slide where the old red brimstone and preadamite slag cross-cut the
malachite and intersect the schist. I think that would be schist about as
good as anything you could do. Then send me specimens with $2 for assay
and we shall see what we shall see.
Well, I didn't know he was "an humorist," you see, so I went to work on
the Vanderbilt to try and do what Mac. said. I sank a shaft and everything
else I could get hold of on that claim. It was so high that we had to
carry water up there to drink when we began and before fall we had struck
a vein of the richest water you ever saw. We had more water in that mine
than the regular army could use.
When we got down sixty feet I sent some pieces of the pay streak to the
assayer again. This time he wrote me quite a letter, and at the same time
inclosed the certificate of assay.
Salt Lake City, U.T., October 3, 1877.
Mr. Bill Nye:--Your specimen of ore No. 36132, current series, has been
submitted to assay and shows the following result:
Metal. Ounces. Value per ton.
Gold -- --
Silver -- --
Stove polish trace .01
Old gray whetstone trace .01
Bromide of axle grease stain --
Copperas trace 5c worth
Blue vitrol trace 5c worth
In the letter he said there was, no doubt, something in the claim if I
could get the true contact with calcimine walls denoting a true fissure.
He thought I ought to run a drift. I told him I had already run adrift.
Then he said to stope out my stove polish ore and sell it for enough to go
on with the development. I tried that, but capital seemed coy. Others had
been there before me and capital bade me soak my head and said other
things which grated harshly on my sensitive nature.
The Vanderbilt mine, with all its dips, spurs, angles, variations, veins,
sinuosities, rights, titles, franchises, prerogatives and assessments is
now for sale. I sell it in order to raise the necessary funds for the
development of the Governor of North Carolina. I had so much trouble with
water in the Vanderbilt, that I named the new claim the Governor of North
Carolina, because he was always dry.
Mush and Melody.
Lately I have been giving a good deal of attention to hygiene--in other
people. The gentle reader will notice that, as a rule, the man who gives
the most time and thought to this subject is an invalid himself; just as
the young theological student devotes his first sermon to the care of
children, and the ward politician talks the smoothest on the subject of
how and when to plant ruta-bagas or wean a calf from the parent stem.
Having been thrown into the society of physicians a great deal the past
two years, mostly in the role of patient, I have given some study to the
human form; its structure and idiosyncracies, as it were. Perhaps few men
in the same length of time have successfully acquired a larger or more
select repertoire of choice diseases than I have. I do not say this
boastfully. I simply desire to call the attention of our growing youth to
the glorious possibilities that await the ambitious and enterprising in
Starting out as a poor boy, with few advantages in the way of disease, I
have resolutely carved my way up to the dizzy heights of fame as a chronic
invalid and drug-soaked relic of other days. I inherited no disease
whatever. My ancestors were poor and healthy. They bequeathed me no snug
little nucleus of fashionable malaria such as other boys had. I was
obliged to acquire it myself. Yet I was not discouraged. The results have
shown that disease is not alone the heritage of the wealthy and the great.
The poorest of us may become eminent invalids if we will only go at it in
the right way. But I started out to say something on the subject of
health, for there are still many common people who would rather be healthy
and unknown than obtain distinction with some dazzling new disease.
Noticing many years ago that imperfect mastication and dyspepsia walked
hand in hand, so to speak, Mr. Gladstone adopted in his family a regular
mastication scale; for instance, thirty-two bites for steak, twenty-two
for fish, and so forth. Now I take this idea and improve upon it. Two
statesmen can always act better in concert if they will do so.
With Mr. Gladstone's knowledge of the laws of health and my own musical
genius, I have hit on a way to make eating not only a duty, but a
pleasure. Eating is too frequently irksome. There is nothing about it to
make it attractive.
What we need is a union of mush and melody, if I may be allowed that
expression. Mr. Gladstone has given us the graduated scale, so that we
know just what metre a bill of fare goes in as quick as we look at it. In
this way the day is not far distant when music and mastication will march
down through the dim vista of years together.
The Baked Bean Chant, the Vermicelli Waltz, the Mush and Milk March, the
sad and touchful Pumpkin Pie Refrain, the gay and rollicking Oxtail Soup
Gallop, and the melting Ice Cream Serenade will yet be common musical
Taking different classes of food, I have set them to music in such a way
that the meal, for instance, may open with a Soup Overture, to be followed
by a Roast Beef March in C, and so on, closing with a kind of Mince Pie La
Somnambula pianissimo in G. Space, of course, forbids an extended
description of this idea as I propose to carry it out, but the conception
is certainly grand. Let us picture the jaws of a whole family moving in
exact time to a Strauss waltz on the silent remains of the late lamented
hen, and we see at once how much real pleasure may be added to the process
The Blase Young Man.
I have just formed the acquaintance of a _blase_ young man. I have been on
an extended trip with him. He is about twenty-two years old, but he is
already weary of life. He was very careful all the time never to be
exuberant. No matter how beautiful the landscape, he never allowed himself
Several times I succeeded in startling him enough to say "Ah!" but that
was all. He had the air all the time of a man who had been reared in
luxury and fondled so much in the lap of wealth that he was weary of life,
and yearned for a bright immortality. I have often wished that the
pruning-hook of time would use a little more discretion. The _blase_ young
man seemed to be tired all the time. He was weary of life because life was
He seemed to hanker for the cool and quiet grave. I wished at times that
the hankering might have been more mutual. But what does a cool, quiet
grave want of a young man who never did anything but breathe the nice pure
air into his froggy lungs and spoil it for everybody else?
This young man had a large grip-sack with him which he frequently
consulted. I glanced into it once while he left it open. It was not right,
but I did it. I saw the following articles in it:
31 Assorted Neckties.
1 pair Socks (whole).
1 pair do. (not so whole).
1 quart Cuff-Buttons.
1 suit discouraged Gauze Underwear.
1 box Speckled Handkerchiefs.
1 box Condition Powders.
1 Toothbrush (prematurely bald).
1 copy Martin F. Tupper's Works.
1 box Prepared Chalk.
1 Pair Tweezers for encouraging Moustache to come out to breakfast.
1 Powder Rag.
1 Gob ecru-colored Taffy.
1 Hair-brush, with Ginger Hair in it.
1 Pencil to pencil Moustache at night.
1 Bread and Milk Poultice to put on Moustache on retiring, so that it will
not forget to come out again the next day.
1 Box Trix for the breath.
1 Box Chloride of Lime to use in case breath becomes unmanageable.
1 Ear-spoon (large size).
1 Plain Mourning Head for Cane.
1 Vulcanized Rubber Head for Cane (to bite on).
1 Shoe-horn to use in working Ears into Ear-Muffs.
1 Pair Corsets.
1 Dark-brown Wash for Mouth, to be used in the morning.
1 Large Box _Ennui_, to be used in Society.
1 Box Spruce Gum, made in Chicago and warranted pure.
1 Gallon Assorted Shirt Studs.
1 Polka-dot Handkerchief to pin in side pocket, but not for nose.
1 Plain Handkerchief for nose.
1 Fancy Head for Cane (morning).
1 Fancy Head for Cane (evening).
1 Picnic Head for Cane.
1 Bottle Peppermint.
1 do. Catnip.
1 Waterbury Watch.
7 Chains for same.
1 Box Letter Paper.
1 Stick Sealing Wax (baby blue).
1 do " (Bismarck brindle).
1 do " (mashed gooseberry).
1 Seal for same.
1 Family Crest (wash-tub rampant on a field calico).
[Illustration: HE IS NIX BONUM.]
There were other little articles of virtu and bric-a-brac till you
couldn't rest, but these were all that I could see thoroughly before he
returned from the wash-room.
I do not like the _blase_ young man as a traveling companion. He is _nix
bonum_. He is too _E pluribus_ for me. He is not _de trop_ or _sciatica_
enough to suit my style.
If he belonged to me I would picket him out somewhere in a hostile Indian
country, and then try to nerve myself up for the result.
It is better to go through life reading the signs on the ten-story
buildings and acquiring knowledge, than to dawdle and "Ah!" adown our
pathway to the tomb and leave no record for posterity except that we had a
good neck to pin a necktie upon. It is not pleasant to be called green,
but I would rather be green and aspiring than _blase_ and hide-bound at
Let us so live that when at last we pass away our friends will not be
immediately and uproariously reconciled to our death.
History of Babylon.
The history of Babylon is fraught with sadness. It illustrates, only too
painfully, that the people of a town make or mar its success rather than
the natural resources and advantages it may possess on the start.
Thus Babylon, with 3,000 years the start of Minneapolis, is to-day a hole
in the ground, while Minneapolis socks her XXXX flour into every corner of
the globe, and the price of real estate would make a common dynasty totter
on its throne.
Babylon is a good illustration of the decay of a town that does not keep
up with the procession. Compare her to-day with Kansas City. While Babylon
was the capital of Chaldea, 1,270 years before the birth of Christ, and
Kansas City was organized so many years after that event that many of the
people there have forgotten all about it, Kansas City has doubled her
population in ten years, while Babylon is simply a gothic hole in the
Why did trade and emigration turn their backs upon Babylon and seek out
Minneapolis, St. Paul, Kansas City and Omaha? Was it because they were
blest with a bluer sky or a more genial sun? Not by any means. While
Babylon lived upon what she had been and neglected to advertise, other
towns with no history extending back into the mouldy past, whooped with an
exceeding great whoop and tore up the ground and shed printers' ink and
showed marked signs of vitality. That is the reason that Babylon is no
This life of ours is one of intense activity. We cannot rest long in
idleness without inviting forgetfulness, death and oblivion. "Babylon was
probably the largest and most magnificent city of the ancient world."
Isaiah, who lived about 300 years before Herodotus, and whose remarks are
unusually free from local or political prejudice, refers to Babylon as
"the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldic's excellency," and, yet,
while Cheyenne has the electric light and two daily papers, Babylon hasn't
got so much as a skating rink.
A city fourteen miles square with a brick wall around it 355 feet high,
she has quietly forgotten to advertise, and in turn she, also, is
Babylon was remarkable for the two beautiful palaces, one on each side of
the river, and the great temple of Belus. Connected with one of these
palaces was the hanging garden, regarded by the Greeks as one of the seven
wonders of the world, but that was prior to the erection of the Washington
monument and civil service reform.
This was a square of 400 Greek feet on each side. The Greek foot was not
so long as the modern foot introduced by Miss Mills, of Ohio. This garden
was supported on several tiers of open arches, built one over the other,
like the walls of a classic theatre, and sustaining at each stage, or
story, a solid platform from which the arches of the next story sprung.
This structure was also supported by the common council of Babylon, who
came forward with the city funds, and helped to sustain the immense
It is presumed that Nebuchadnezzar erected this garden before his mind
became affected. The tower of Belus, supposed by historians with a good
memory to have been 600 feet high, as there is still a red chalk mark in
the sky where the top came, was a great thing in its way. I am glad I was
not contiguous to it when it fell, and also that I had omitted being born
prior to that time.
"When we turn from this picture of the past," says the historian,
Rawlinson, referring to the beauties of Babylon, "to contemplate the
present condition of these localities, we are at first struck with
astonishment at the small traces which remain of so vast and wonderful a
metropolis. The broad walls of Babylon are utterly broken down. God has
swept it with the besom of destruction."
One cannot help wondering why the use of the besom should have been
abandoned. As we gaze upon the former site of Babylon we are forced to
admit that the new besom sweeps clean. On its old site no crumbling arches
or broken columns are found to indicate her former beauty. Here and there
huge heaps of debris alone indicate that here Godless wealth and wicked,
selfish, indolent, enervating, ephemeral pomp, rose and defied the supreme
laws to which the bloated, selfish millionaire and the hard-handed, hungry
laborer alike must bow, and they are dust to-day.
Babylon has fallen. I do not say this in a sensational way or to
depreciate the value of real estate there, but from actual observation,
and after a full investigation, I assent without fear of successful
contradiction, that Babylon has seen her best days. Her boomlet is busted,
and, to use a political phrase, her oriental hide is on the Chaldean
Such is life. We enter upon it reluctantly; we wade through it doubtfully,
and die at last timidly. How we Americans do blow about what we can do
before breakfast, and, yet, even in our own brief history, how we have
demonstrated what a little thing the common two-legged man is. He rises up
rapidly to acquire much wealth, and if he delays about going to Canada he
goes to Sing Sing, and we forget about him. There are lots of modern
Babylonians in New York City to-day, and if it were my business I would
call their attention to it. The assertion that gold will procure all
things has been so common and so popular that too many consider first the
bank account, and after that honor, home, religion, humanity and common
decency. Even some of the churches have fallen into the notion that first
comes the tall church, then the debt and mortgage, the ice cream sociable
and the kingdom of Heaven. Cash and Christianity go hand in hand
sometimes, but Christianity ought not to confer respectability on anybody
who comes into the church to purchase it.
I often think of the closing appeal of the old preacher, who was more
earnest than refined, perhaps, and in winding up his brief sermon on the
Christian life, said: "A man may lose all his wealth and get poor and
hungry and still recover, he may lose his health and come down close to
the dark stream and still git well again, but, when he loses his immortal
soul it is good-bye John."
I dropped in the other day to see New York's great congress of wax figures
and soft statuary carnival. It is quite a success. The first thing you do
on entering is to contribute to the pedestal fund. New York this spring is
mostly a large rectangular box with a hole in the top, through which the
genial public is cordially requested to slide a dollar to give the goddess
of liberty a boom.
I was astonished and appalled at the wealth of apertures in Gotham through
which I was expected to slide a dime to assist some deserving object.
Every little while you run into a free-lunch room where there is a model
ship that will start up and operate if you feed it with a nickle. I never
visited a town that offered so many inducements for early and judicious
investments as New York.
But we were speaking of the wax works. I did not tarry long to notice the
presidents of the United States embalmed in wax, or to listen to the band
of lutists who furnished music in the winter garden. I ascertained where
the chamber of horrors was located, and went there at once. It is lovely.
I have never seen a more successful aggregation of horrors under one roof
and at one price of admission.
If you want to be shocked at cost, or have your pores opened for a merely
nominal price, and see a show that you will never forget as long as you
live, that is the place to find it. I never invested my money so as to get
so large a return for it, because I frequently see the whole show yet in
the middle of the night, and the cold perspiration ripples down my spinal
column just as it did the first time I saw it.
The chamber of horrors certainly furnishes a very durable show. I don't
think I was ever more successfully or economically horrified.
I got quite nervous after a while, standing in the dim religious light
watching the lovely horrors. But it is the saving of money that I look at
most. I have known men to pay out thousands of dollars for a collection of
delirium tremens and new-laid horrors no better than these that you get on
week days for fifty cents and on Sundays for two bits. Certainly New York
is the place where you get your money's worth.
There are horrors there in that crypt that are well worth double the price
of admission. One peculiarity of the chamber of horrors is that you
finally get nervous when anyone touches you, and you immediately suspect
that he is a horror who has come out of his crypt to get a breath of fresh
air and stretch his legs.
[Illustration: HE WAS GREATLY ANNOYED.]
That is the reason I shuddered a little when I felt a man's hand in my
pocket. It was so unexpected, and the surroundings were such that I must
have appeared startled. The man was a stranger to me, though I could see
that he was a perfect gentleman. His clothes were superior to mine in
every way, and he had a certain refinement of manners which betrayed his
ill-concealed Knickerbocker lineage high.
I said, "Sir, you will find my fine cut tobacco in the other pocket." This
startled him so that he wheeled about and wildly dashed into the arms of a
wax policeman near the door. When he discovered that he was in the
clutches of a suit of second-hand clothes filled with wax, he seemed to be
greatly annoyed and strode rapidly away.
I returned to view a chaste and truthful scene where one man had
successfully killed another with a club. I leaned pensively against a
column with my own spinal column, wrapped in thought.
Pretty soon a young gentleman from New Jersey with an Adam's apple on him
like a full-grown yam, and accompanied by a young lady also from the
mosquito jungles of Jersey, touched me on the bosom with his umbrella and
began to explain me to his companion.
[Illustration: THIS IS JESSE JAMES.]
"This," said the Adam's apple with the young man attached to it, "is Jesse
James, the great outlaw chief from Missouri. How life-like he is. Little
would you think, Emeline, that he would as soon disembowel a bank, kill the
entire board of directors of a railroad company and ride off the rolling
stock, as you would wrap yourself around a doughnut. How tender and kind
he looks. He not only looks gentle and peaceful, but he looks to me as if
he wasn't real bright."
I then uttered a piercing shriek and the young man from New Jersey went
away. Nothing is so embarrassing to an eminent man as to stand quietly
near and hear people discuss him.
But it is remarkable to see people get fooled at a wax show. Every day a
wax figure is taken for a live man, and live people are mistaken for wax.
I took hold of a waxen hand in one corner of the winter garden to see if
the ring was a real diamond, and it flew up and took me across the ear in
such a life-like manner that my ear is still hot and there is a roaring in
my head that sounds very disagreeable, indeed.
The Bite of a Mad Dog.
A "Family Physician," published in 1883, says, for the bite of a mad dog:
"Take ash-colored ground liverwort, cleaned, dried, and powdered, half an
ounce; of black pepper, powdered, a quarter of an ounce. Mix these well
together, and divide the powder into four doses, one of which must be
taken every morning, fasting, for four mornings successively in half an
English pint of cow's milk, warm. After these four doses are taken, the
patient must go into the cold bath, or a cold spring or river, every
morning, fasting, for a month. He must be dipped all over, but not stay in
(with his head above water) longer than half a minute if the water is very
cold. After this he must go in three times a week for a fortnight longer.
He must be bled before he begins to take the medicine."
It is very difficult to know just what is best to do when a person is
bitten by a mad dog, but my own advice would be to kill the dog. After
that feel of the leg where bitten, and ascertain how serious the injury
has been. Then go home and put on another pair of pantaloons, throwing
away those that have been lacerated. Parties having but one pair of
pantaloons will have to sequester themselves or excite remarks. Then take
a cold bath, as suggested above, but do not remain in the bath (with the
head above water) more than half an hour. If the head is under water, you
may remain in the bath until the funeral, if you think best.
When going into the bath it would be well to take something in your pocket
to bite, in case the desire to bite something should overcome you. Some
use a common shingle-nail for this purpose, while others prefer a personal
friend. In any event, do not bite a total stranger on an empty stomach. It
might make you ill.
Never catch a dog by the tail if he has hydrophobia. Although that end of
the dog is considered the most safe, you never know when a mad dog may
If you meet a mad dog on the street, do not stop and try to quell him with
a glance of the eye. Many have tried to do that, and it took several days
to separate the two and tell which was mad dog and which was queller.
The real hydrophobia dog generally ignores kindness, and devotes himself
mostly to the introduction of his justly celebrated virus. A good thing to
do on observing the approach of a mad dog is to flee, and remain fled
until he has disappeared.
Hunting mad dogs in a crowded street is great sport. A young man with a
new revolver shooting at a mad dog is a fine sight. He may not kill the
dog, but he might shoot into a covey of little children and possibly get
It would be a good plan to have a balloon inflated and tied in the back
yard during the season in which mad dogs mature, and get into it on the
approach of the infuriated animal (get into the balloon, I mean, not the
This plan would not work well, however, in case a cyclone should come at
the same time. When we consider all the uncertainties of life, and the
danger from hydrophobia, cyclones and breach of promise, it seems
sometimes as though the penitentiary was the only place where a man could
be absolutely free from anxiety.
If you discover that your dog has hydrophobia, it is absolutely foolish to
try to cure him of the disease. The best plan is to trade him off at once
for anything you can get. Do not stop to haggle over the price, but close
him right out below cost.
Do not tie a tin can to the tail of a mad dog. It only irritates him, and
he might resent it before you get the can tied on. A friend of mine, who
was a practical joker, once sought to tie a tin can to the tail of a mad
dog on an empty stomach. His widow still points with pride to the marks of
his teeth on the piano. If mad dogs would confine themselves exclusively
to practical jokers, I would be glad to endow a home for indigent mad dogs
out of my own private funds.
This great man lived in the old romantic days when it was a common thing
for a patriot to lay down his life that his country might live. He knew
not fear, and in his noble heart his country was always on top. Not alone
at election did Arnold sacrifice himself, but on the tented field, where
the buffalo grass was soaked in gore, did he win for himself a deathless
name. He was as gritty as a piece of liver rolled in the sand. Where glory
waited, there you would always find Arnold Winkelreid at the bat, with
William Tell on deck.
[Illustration: CLEAR THE TRACK.]
One day the army of the tyrant got a scoop on the rebel mountaineers and
it looked bad for the struggling band of chamois shooters. While Arnold's
detachment didn't seem to amount to a hill of beans, the hosts of the
tyrannical Austrian loomed up like six bits and things looked forbidding.
It occurred to Colonel Winkelreid that the correct thing would be to break
through the war front of the enemy, and then, while in his rear, crash in
his cranium with a cross gun while he was looking the other way. Acting on
this thought, he asked several of his most trusted men to break through
the Austrian line, so that the balance of the command could pass through
and slaughter enough of the enemy for a mess, but these men seemed a
little reticent about doing so, owing to the inclemency of the weather and
the threatening aspect of the enemy. The armed foe swarmed on every
hillside and their burnished spears glittered below in the canon. You
couldn't throw a stone in any direction without hitting a phalanx. It was
a good year for the phalanx business.
Then Arnold took off his suspenders, and, putting a fresh chew of tobacco
in among his back teeth, he told his men to follow him and he would show
them his little racket. Marching up to the solid line of lances, he
gathered an armful and put them in the pit of his stomach, and, as he sank
to the earth, he spoke in a shrill tone of voice to posterity, saying,
"Clear the track for Liberty." He then died.
His remains looked like a toothpick holder.
But he made way for Liberty, and his troops were victorious.
At the inquest it was shown that he might have recovered, had not the
spears sat so hard on his stomach.
Probably A. Winkelreid will be remembered with gratitude long after the
name of the Sweet Singer of Michigan shall have rotted in oblivion. He
recognized and stuck to his proper spear. (This is a little mirthful
deviation of my own.)
I can think of some men now, even in this $ age of the world, who could
win glory by doing as A.W. did. They could offer themselves up. They
could suffer for the right and have their names passed down to posterity,
and it would be perfectly splendid.
But the heroes of to-day are different. They are just as courageous, but
they take a wheelbarrow and push it from New York to San Francisco, or
they starve forty days and forty nights and then eat watermelon and
lecture, or they eat 800 snipe in 800 years, or get an inspiration and
kill somebody with it.
The heroes of our day do not wear peaked hats and shoot chamois, and sass
tyrants and knock the worm out of an apple at fifty-nine yards rise with a
cross gun, as Tell did, but they know how to be loved by the people and
get half of the gate money. They are brave, but not mortally. The heroes
of our day all die of old age or political malaria.
Murray and the Mormons.
Gov. Murray, the gritty Gentile governor of Utah, would be noticed in a
crowd. He is very tall, yet well proportioned, square-built and handsome.
He was called fine looking in Kentucky, but the narrow-chested apostle of
the abnormally connubial creed does not see anything pretty about him.
Murray moves about through Salt Lake City in a cool, self-possessed kind
of way that is very annoying to the church. Full-bearded, with brown
moustache and dark hair parted a little to leeward of center; clothed in a
diagonal Prince Albert coat, a silk hat and other clothes, he strolls
through Zion like a man who hasn't got a yelping majority of ignorant
lepers, led by a remorseless gang of nickel-plated apostles, thirsting for
his young blood. I really believe he don't care a continental. The days of
the avenging angel and the meek-eyed Danite, carrying a large sock loaded
with buckshot, are over, perhaps; but only those who try to be Gentiles in
a land of polygamous wives and anonymous white-eyed children, know how
very unpopular it is. Judge Goodwin, of the Tribune, feels lonesome if he
gets through the day without a poorly spelled, spattered, daubed and
profane valentine threatening his life. The last time I saw him he showed
me a few of them. They generally referred to him as a blankety blank
"skunk," and a "hound of hell." He said he hoped I wound pardon him for
the apparent egotism, but he felt as though the Tribune was attracting
attention almost everyday. Some of these little billet-doux invited him to
call at a trysting place on Tribune avenue and get his alleged brains
scattered over a vacant lot. Most all of them threatened him with a
rectangular head, a tin ear, or a watch pocket under the eye He didn't
seem to care much. He felt pleased and proud. Goodwin was always pleased
with things that other men didn't like much. In the old days, when he and
Mark Twain and Dan DeQuille were together, this was noticed in him. Gov.
Murray is the same way. He feels the public pulse, and says to himself:
"Sometime there's going to be music here by the entire band, and I desire
to be where I shan't miss a note."
There are people who think the Mormons will not fight. Perhaps not. They
won't if they are let alone, and allowed to fill the sage brush and line
the banks of the Jordan with juvenile _nom de plumes_. They are peaceful
while they may populate Utah and invade adjoining territories with their
herds of ostensible wives and prattling progeny; while they can bring in
every year via Castle Garden and the stock yards palace emigrant car,
thousands of proselyted paupers from every pest house of Europe, and the
free-love idiots of America. But when Murray gets an act of congress at
his back and a squad of nervy, gamy, law-abiding monogamous assistants
appointed by the president under that act of congress to knock crosswise
and crooked the Jim Crow revelations of Utah and Mormondom, you will see
the fur fly, and the fragrant follower of a false prophet will rise up
William Riley and the regular army will feel lonesome. I asked a staff
officer in one of the territories last summer what would be the result if
the Mormons, with their home drill and their arms and their devotion to
home and their fraudulent religion, should awake Nicodemas and begin to
massacre the Gentiles, and the regular army should be sent over the
Wasatch range to quell the trouble.
"Why," said he, "the white-eyed followers of Mormonism would kill the
regular army with clubs. You can wear out a tribe of hostile Indians when
the grass gives out and the antelope hunts the foothills, but the Mormons
make everything they eat, drink and wear. They don't care whether there's
tariff or free trade. They can make everything from gunpowder to a knit
undershirt, from a $250 revelation to a hand-made cocktail. When a church
gets where it can make such cooking whisky as the Mormons do, it is time
to call for volunteers and put down the hydra-headed monster."
If congress don't step on a technicality and fall down, it looks like
amusement ahead, and if a District of Columbia rule, or martial law, or
tocsin of war is the result, Gov. Murray is a good style of war governor.
He isn't the kind of a man to put on his wife's gossamer cloak and meander
over into Montana. He would give the matter his attention, and you would
find him in the neighborhood when the national government decided to sit
down on disorderly conduct in Utah. The first lever to be used will be the
great wealth of which the Mormon church and its members privately are
possessed. Then the oleaginous prophet will get a revelation to gird up
his loins and to load the double-barrel shotgun, and fire the culverin,
and to knock monogamy into a cocked hat. Money first and massacre second.
They can draw on their revelation supply house at three days, any time,
for authority to fill the irrigation ditches of Zion with the blood of the
Gentile and feed his vital organs to the coyote.
Geology is that branch of natural science which treats of the structure of
the earth's crust and the mode of formation of its rocks. It is a pleasant
and profitable study, and to the man who has married rich and does not
need to work, the amusement of busting geology with the Bible, or busting
the Bible with geology is indeed a great boon.
Geology goes hand in hand with zoology, botany, physical geography and
other kindred sciences. Taxidermy, chiropody and theology are not kindred
Geologists ascertain the age of the earth by looking at its teeth and
counting the wrinkles on its horns. They have learned that the earth is
not only of great age, but that it is still adding to its age from year to
It is hard to say very much of a great science in so short an article, and
that is one great obstacle which I am constantly running against as a
I once prepared a paper in astronomy entitled "The Chronological History
and Habits of the Spheres." It was very exhaustive and weighed four
pounds. I sent it to a scientific publication that was supposed to be
working for the advancement of our race. The editor did not print it, but
he wrote me a crisp and saucy postal card, requesting me to call with a
dray and remove my stuff before the board of health got after it. In five
short years from that time he was a corpse. As I write these lines, I
learn with ill-concealed pleasure that he is still a corpse. An awful
dispensation of Providence, in the shape of a large, wilted cucumber, laid
hold upon his vitals and cursed him with an inward pain. He has since had
the opportunity, by actual personal observation, to see whether the
statements by me relating to astronomy were true. His last words were:
"Friends, Romans and countrymen, beware of the q-cumber. It will w up." It
was not original, but it was good.
The four great primary periods of the earth's history are as follows, viz,
1. The Eozoic or dawn of life.
2. The Palaeozoic or period of ancient life.
3. The Mesozoic or middle period of life.
4. The Neozoic or recent period of life.
These are all subdivided again, and other words more difficult to spell
are introduced into science, thus crowding out the vulgar herd who cannot
afford to use the high priced terms in constant conversation.
Old timers state that the primitive condition of the earth was extremely
damp. With the onward march of time, and after the lapse of millions of
years, men found that they could get along with less and less water, until
at last we see the pleasant, blissful state of things. Aside from the use
of water at our summer resorts, that fluid is getting to be less and less
popular. And even here at these resorts it is generally flavored with some
[Illustration: THE MASTODON.]
The earth's crust is variously estimated in the matter of thickness. Some
think it is 2,500 miles thick, which would make it safe to run heavy
trains across the earth anywhere on top of a second mortgage, while other
scientists say that if we go down one-tenth of that distance we will reach
a place where the worm dieth not. I do not wish to express an opinion as
to the actual depth or thickness of the earth's crust, but I believe that
it is none too thick to suit me.
Thickness in the earth's crust is a mighty good fault. We estimate the age
of certain strata of the earth's formation by means of a union of our
knowledge of plant and animal life, coupled with our geological research
and a good memory. The older scientists in the field of geology do not
rely solely upon the tracks of the hadrasaurus or the cornucopia for their
data. They simply use these things to refresh their memory.
I wish that I had time and space to describe some of the beautiful
bacteria and gigantic worms that formerly inhabited the earth. Such an
aggregation of actual, living Silurian monsters, any one of which would
make a man a fortune to-day, if it could be kept on ice and exhibited for
one season only. You could take a full grown mastodon to-day, and with no
calliope, no lithographs, no bearded lady, no clown with four pillows in
his pantaloons and no iron-jawed woman, you could go across this continent
and successfully compete with the skating rink.
There would be but one difficulty. Tour expenses would not be heavy. The
mastodon would be willing to board around, and no one would feel like
turning a mastodon out of doors if he seemed to be hungry; but he might
get away from you and frolic away so far in one night that you couldn't
get him for a day or two, even if you sent a detective for him.
If I had a mastodon I would rather take him when he was young, and then I
could make a pet of him, so that he could come and eat out of my hand
without taking the hand off at the same time. A large mastodon weighing a
hundred tons or so is awkward, too. I suppose that nothing is more painful
than to be stepped on by an adult mastodon.
I hope at some future time to write a paper for the Academy of Science on
the subject of "Deceased Fauna, Fossiliferous Debris and Extinct Jokes,"
showing how, when and why these early forms of animal life came to be
A Wallula Night.
I have just returned after a short tour in the far West. I made the tour
with my new lecture, which I am delivering this winter for the benefit,
and under the auspices, of a young man who was a sufferer in the great
rise-up-William-Biley-and-come-along-with-me cyclone, which occurred at
Clear Lake, in this State, a year ago last September.
In said cyclone, said young man was severely caressed by the elements, and
tipped over in such a way as to shatter the right leg, just below the
gambrel joint. I therefore started out to deliver a few lectures for his
benefit, and in so doing have made a 4,000 mile trip over the Northern
Pacific railway, and the Oregon River and Navigation company's road. On
the former line the passenger is fed by means of the dining-car, a very
good style of entertainment, indeed, and well worthy of the age in which
we live; but at Wallula Junction I stopped over to catch a west-bound
Oregon Railway and Navigation train.
That was where I fooled myself. I should have taken my valise and a rubber
door mat from the sleeping-car, and crawled into the lee of a snow fence
for the night. I did not give the matter enough thought. I just simply
went into the hotel and registered my name as a man would in other hotels.
This house was kept, or retained, I should say, by a relative of the late
Mr. Shylock. You have heard, no doubt, how some of the American hotels
have frowned on Mr. Shylock's relatives. Well, Mr. Shylock's family got
even with the whole American people the night I stopped in No. 2, second
floor of the Abomination of Desolation. As a representative of the
American people, I received for my nation, vicariously, the stripes
intended for many generations.
No. 2 is regarded as a room by people who have not been in it. By those
who have, it is looked upon as a morgue.
When I stepped into it, I noticed an odor of the dead past. It made me
shudder my overshoes off. The first thing that attracted my attention
after I was left alone, was the fact that other people had occupied this
room before I had, and, although they were gone, they had left a kind of
an air of inferiority that clung to the alleged apartment, an air of plug
tobacco and perspiration, if you will pardon the expression.
They had also left a pair of Venetian pantaloons. From this clue, my
active brain at once worked out the problem and settled the fact that the
party who had immediately preceded me was a man. Long and close study of
the habits and characteristics of humanity has taught me to reason out
these matters, and to reach accurate conclusions with astonishing
He was not only a man, but he was a short man, with parenthetical legs and
a thoughtful droop to the seat of his pants. I also discovered that more
of this man's life had been expended in sitting on a pitch pine log than
One of his front teeth was gone, also. This I learned from a large cast of
his mouth, shown on the end of a plug of tobacco still left in the pocket.
[Illustration: IN SUSPENSE.]
In Wallula there is a marked feeling of childlike trust and confidence
between people. It is a feature of Wallula society, I may say. The people
of the junction trust strangers to a remarkable extent. In what other town
in this whole republic would a pair of pantaloons be thus left in the
complete power of a total stranger, a stranger, too, to whom pantaloons
were a great boon? I could easily have caught those pantaloons off the
nail, thrust them into my bosom, and fled past the drowsy night clerk, out
into the great, sheltering arms of the silent night, but I did not.
Anon through the long hours I would awake and listen fitfully to the wail
of damned souls, as it seemed to me, the wail of those who tried to stay
there a week, and had starved to death. Here was their favorite wailing
place. Here was the place where damned souls seemed to throw aside all
restraint and have a good time. I tried to keep out the sound by stuffing
the pillow in my ear, but what is a cheap hotel pillow in a man's ear, if
he wants to keep the noise out.
So I lay there and listened to the soft sigh of the bath tub, the loud,
defiant challenge of the athletic butler down stairs, the last weak death
rattle in the throat of the coffee pot in the dining room, and the wail of
the damned souls who had formerly stopped at this hotel, but who had been
rescued at last, and had hilariously gone to perdition, only to come back
at night and torment the poor guest by bragging over the superiority of
hell as a refuge from the Wallula hotel.
Now and then in the night I would almost yield to a wild impulse and catch
those pantaloons off the hook, to rush out and go to Canada with them, and
then I would softly go through the pockets and hang them back again.
It was an awful night. When morning dawned at last, and I took the pillow
out of my ear and looked in the delirious and soap-spattered mirror, I saw
that my beautiful hair, which had been such a source of pride to me ten
years ago, had disappeared in places. I paid my bill, called the attention
of the landlord to the fact that I had not taken those pantaloons and
'betrayed' his trust, and then I went away.
A long and exhaustive examination of the history of flying machines
enables me to give briefly some of the main points of a few, for the
benefit of those who may be interested in this science. I give what I do
in order to prepare the public to take advantage of the different methods,
and be ready at once to fly as soon as the weather gets pleasant.
A Frenchman invented a flying-machine, or dofunny, as we scientists would
term it, in 1600 and something, whereby he could sail down from the
woodshed and not break his neck. He could not rise from the ground like a
lark and trill a few notes as he skimmed through the sky, but he could
fall off an ordinary hay stack like a setting hen, with the aid of his
wings. His name was Besnier.
One hundred and twenty-five years after that a prisoner at Vienna, named
Jacob Dagen, told the jailer that he could fly. The jailer seemed
incredulous, and so Jake constructed a pair of double barrel umbrellas,
that worked by hand, and fluttered with his machine into the air fifty
feet. He came down in a direct line, and in doing so ran one of the
umbrellas through his thorax. I am glad it is not the custom now to wear
an umbrella in the thorax.
In England, during the present century, several inventors produced flying
machines, but in an evil hour agreed to rise on them themselves, and so
they died from their injuries. Some came down on top of the machines,
while others preceded their inventions by a few feet, but the result was
the same. The invention of flying machines has always been handicapped, as
it were, by this fact Men invent a flying machine and then try to ride it
and show it off, and thus they are prevented by death from perfecting
their rolling stock and securing their right of way.
In 1842, Mr. William Henderson got out a "two-propeller" machine, and
tried to incorporate a company to utilize it for the purpose of carrying
letters, running errands, driving home the cows, lighting the Northern
Lights and skimming the cream off the Milky Way, but it didn't seem to
compete very successfully with other modes of travel, and so Mr. Henderson
wrapped it up in an old tent and put it away in the hay-mow.
In 1853, Mr. J.H. Johnson patented a balloon and parachute dingus which
worked on the principle of a duck's foot in the mud. I use scientific
terms because I am unable to express myself in the common language of the
vulgar herd. This machine had a tail which, under great excitement, it
would throw over the dash board as it bounded through the air.
Probably the biggest thing in its way under this head was the revival of
flying under the presidency of the Duke of Argyle, the society being
called the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain. This society made some
valuable calculations and experiments in the interest of aerostation,
adding much to our scientific knowledge, and filling London with cripples.
In 1869, Mr. Joseph T. Kaufman invented and turned loose upon the people
of Glasgow an infernal machine intended to soar considerably in a quiet
kind of way and to be propelled by steam. It looked like the bird known to
ornithology as the _flyupithecrick_, and had an air brake, patent coupler,
buffer and platform. It was intended to hold two men on ice and a rosewood
casket with silver handles. It was mounted on wheels, and, as it did not
seem to skim through the air very much, the people of Glasgow hitched a
clothes line to it and used it for a band wagon.
Rufus Porter invented an aerial dewdad ten years ago in Connecticut, where
so many crimes have been committed since Mark Twain moved there. This was
called the "aeraport," and looked like a seed wart floating through space.
This engine was worked by springs connected with propellers. A saloon was
suspended beneath it, I presume on the principle that when a man is
intoxicated he weighs a pound less. This machine flew around the rotunda
of the Merchants' Exchange, in New York City, eleven times, like a hen
with her head cut off, but has not been on the wing much since then.
Other flying machines have been invented, but the air is not peopled with
them as I write. Most of them have folded their pinions and sought the
seclusion of a hen-house. It is to be hoped that very soon some such
machine will be perfected, whereby a man may flit from the fifth story
window of the Grand Pacific Hotel, in Chicago, to Montreal before
breakfast, leaving nothing in his room but the furniture and his kind
Such an invention would be hailed with much joy, and the sale would be
enormous. Now, however, the matter is still in its infancy. The mechanical
birds invented for the purpose of skimming through the ether blue, have
not skum. The machines were built with high hopes and a throbbing heart,
but the aforesaid ether remains unskum as we go to press. The Milky Way is
in the same condition, awaiting the arrival of the fearless skimmer. Will
men ever be permitted to pierce the utmost details of the sky and ramble
around among the stars with a gum overcoat on? Sometimes I trow he will,
and then again I ween not.
Asking for a Pass.
The general passenger agent of a prominent road leading out of Chicago
toward the south, tells me that he is getting a good many letters lately
asking for passes, and he complains bitterly over the awkward and
unsatisfactory style of the correspondence. Acting on this suggestion and
though a little late in the day, perhaps, I have erected the following as
a guide to those who contemplate writing under similar circumstances:
Office of The Evening Squeal, January 14, 1886.
General Passenger Agent, Great North American Gitthere R.R., Chicago, Ill.
Dear Sir.--I desire to know by return mail whether or no you would be
pleased to swap transportation for kind words. I am the editor of "The
Squeal," published at this place. It is a paper pure in tone, world wide
in its scope and irresistible in the broad sweep of its mighty arm.
[Illustration: THE PRESS.]
I desire to visit the great exposition at New Orleans this winter, and
would be willing to yield you a few words of editorial opinion, set in
long primer type next to pure reading matter, and without advertising
My object in thus addressing you is two-fold. I have always wanted to do
your road a kind act that would put it on its feet, but I have never
before had the opportunity. This winter I feel just like it, and am not
willing, but anxious. Another object, though trivial, perhaps, to you, is
vital to me. If I do not get the pass, I am afraid I shall not reach there
till the exposition is over. You can see for yourself how important it is
that I should have transportation. Day after day the president on to the
grounds and ask if I am there. Some official will salute him and answer
sadly, "No, your highness, he has not yet arrived, but we look for him
soon. He is said to be stuck in a mud hole somewhere in Egypt." Then the
exposition will drag on again.
[Illustration: STUCK IN A MUD HOLE.]
You may make the pass read, "For self, Chicago to New Orleans and return,"
and I will write the editorial, or you may make it read, "Self and wife"
and I will let you write it yourself. Nothing is too good for my friends.
When a man does me a kind act or shows signs of affection, I just allow
him to walk all over me and make himself perfectly free with the policy of
The "Evening Squeal" has been heard everywhere. We send it to the four
winds of Heaven, and its influence is felt wherever the English language
is respected. And yet, if you want to belong to my coterie of friends, you
can make yourself just as free with its editorial columns as you would if
you owned it.
And yet "The Squeal" is a bad one to stir up. I shudder to think what the
result would be if you should incur the hatred of "The Squeal." Let us
avoid such a subject or the possibility of such a calamity.
"The Squeal" once opposed the candidacy of a certain man for the office of
school district clerk, and in less than four years he was a corpse! Struck
down in all his wanton pride by one of the popular diseases of the day.
My paper at one time became the foe of a certain road which tapped the
great cranberry vineyards of northern Minnesota, and that very fall the
berries soured on the vines!
I might go on for pages to show how the pathway of "The Squeal" has been
strewn with the ruins of railroads, all prosperous and happy till they
antagonized us and sought to injure us.
I believe that the great journals and trunk lines of the land should stand
in with one another. If you have the support and moral encouragement of
the press you will feel perfectly free to run over any one who gets on
your track. Besides, if I held a pass over your road I should feel very
much reserved about printing the details of any accident, delay or washout
along your line. I aim to mould public opinion, but a man can subsidize
and corrupt me if he goes at it right. I write this to kind of give you a
pointer as to how you can go to work to do so if you see fit.
Should you wish to pervert my high moral notions in relation to railways,
please make it good for thirty days, as it may take me a week or so to
mortgage my property and get ready to go in good style. I will let you
know on what day I will be in New Orleans, so that you can come and see me
at that time. Should you have difficulty in obtaining an audience with me,
owing to the throng of crowned heads, just show this autograph letter to
the doorkeeper, and he will show you right in. Wipe your boots before
Daniel Webster Briggs,
Editor of "The Squeal."
It is my opinion that no railroad official, however disobliging, would
hesitate a moment about which way he would swing after reading an epistle
after this pattern. Few, indeed, are the men who would be impolitic enough
to incur the displeasure of such a paper as I have artfully represented
"The Squeal" to be.
Words About Washington.
The name of George Washington has always had about it a glamour that made
him appear more in the light of a god than a tall man with large feet and
a mouth made to fit an old-fashioned, full-dress pumpkin pie. I use the
word glamour, not so much because I know what glamour means, but because I
have never used it before, and I am getting a little tired of the short,
easy words I have been using so long.
George Washington's face has beamed out upon us for many years now, on
postage stamps and currency, in marble, and plaster, and bronze, in
photographs of original portraits, paintings, end stereoscopic views. We
have seen him on horseback and on foot, on the war-path and on skates,
cussing his troops for their shiftlessness, and then in the solitude of
the forest, with his snorting war-horse tied to a tree, engaged in prayer.
We have seen all these pictures of George, till we are led to believe that
he did not breathe our air or eat American groceries. But George
Washington was not perfect. I say this after a long and careful study of
his life, and I do not say it to detract the very smallest iota from the
proud history of the Father of his Country. I say it simply that the boys
of America who want to become George Washingtons will not feel so timid
about trying it.
When I say that George Washington, who now lies so calmly in the limekiln
at Mount Vernon, could reprimand and reproach his subordinates at times,
in a way to make the ground crack open and break up the ice in the
Delaware a week earlier than usual, I do not mention it in order to show
the boys of our day that profanity will make them resemble George
Washington. That was one of his weak points, and no doubt he was ashamed
of it, as he ought to have been. Some poets think that if they get drunk,
and stay drunk, they will resemble Edgar A. Poe and George D. Prentice.
There are lawyers who play poker year after year, and get regularly
skinned, because they have heard that some of the able lawyers of the past
century used to come home at night with poker chips in their pockets.
Whisky will not make a poet, nor poker a great pleader. And yet I have
seen poets who relied solely on the potency of their breath, and lawyers
who knew more of the habits of a bob-tail flush than they ever did of the
statutes in such case made and provided.
George Washington was always ready. If you wanted a man to be first in
war, you could call on George. If you desired an adult who would be first
baseman in time of peace, Mr. Washington could be telephoned at any hour
of the day or night. If you needed a man to be first in the hearts of his
countrymen, George's postoffice address was at once secured.
Though he was a great man, he was once a poor boy. How often we hear that
in America! It is the place where it is a positive disadvantage to be born
wealthy. And yet, sometimes I wish they had experimented a little that way
on me. I do not ask now to be born rich, of course, because it is too
late; but it seems to me that, with my natural good sense and keen insight
into human nature, I could have struggled along under the burdens and
cares of wealth with great success. I do not care to die wealthy, but if I
could have been born wealthy, it seems to me I would have been tickled
almost to death.
I love to believe that true greatness is not accidental. To think and to
say that greatness is a lottery is pernicious. Man may be wrong sometimes
in his judgment of others, both individually and in the aggregate, but he
who gets ready to be a great man will surely find the opportunity.
Many who read the above paragraph will wonder who I got to write it for
me, but they will never find out.
In conclusion, let me say that George Washington was successful for three
reasons. One was that he never shook the confidence of his friends.
Another was that he had a strong will without being a mule. Some people
cannot distinguish between being firm and being a big blue jackass.
Another reason why Washington is loved and honored to-day, is that he died
before we had a chance to get tired of him. This is greatly superior to
the method adopted by many modern statesmen, who wait till their
constituency weary of them and then reluctantly and tardily die.
The Board of Trade.
I went into the Chicago Board of Trade awhile ago to see about buying some
seed wheat for sowing on my farm next spring. I heard that I could get
wheat cheaper there than anywhere else, so I went over. The members of the
Board seemed to be all present. They were on the upper floor of the house,
about three hundred of them, I judge, engaged in conversation. All of them
were conversing when I entered, with the exception of a sad-looking man
who had just been squeezed into a corner and injured, I was told. I told
him that arnica was as good as anything I knew of for that, but he seemed
irritated, and I strode majestically away. Probably he thought I had no
business to speak to him without an introduction, but I never stand on
ceremony when I see anyone in pain.
[Illustration: INDULGING IN CONVERSATION.]
I got a ticket when I went in, and began to look around for my wheat. I
didn't see any at first. I then asked one of the conversationalists how
"Oh, wheat's pretty steady just now, 'specially October, but yesterday we
thought the bottom had dropped out. Perfect panic in No. 2, red; No. 2,
Chicago Spring, 73-7/8. Dull, my Christian friend, dull is no name for it.
More fellers got pinched yesterday than would patch purgatory fifteen
miles. What you doing, buying or selling?"
"Better let me sell you some choice Chicago Spring way down. Get some man
you know on the Board to make the trade for you."
"Well, if you've got something good and cheap, and that you know will
grow, I'd like to look at it," I said.
He took me over by the door where there was a dishpan full of wheat, and
asked me how that struck me, I said it looked good and asked him how much
he could spare of it at .73. He said he had 50,000 bushels that he wasn't
using, and he thought he could get me another 50,000 of a friend, if I
wanted it. I said no, 100,000 bushels was more than I needed. I told him
that if he would let me have that dishpan full, one-half cash and the
balance in installments, I might trade with him, but I didn't want him to
sell me his last bushel of wheat and rob himself.
"Very likely you've got a family," said I, "and you mustn't forget that
we've got a long, cold, hard winter ahead of us. Hang on to your wheat.
Don't let Tom, Dick and Harry come along and chisel you out of your last
kernel, just to be neighborly."
I remained in the room an hour and a half, the cynosure of all eyes. There
is a great deal of sociability there. Three hundred men all talking
diagonally at each other at the same time, reminds me of a tete-a-tete I
once had with a warm personal friend, who was a boiler-maker. He invited
me to come around to the shop and visit him. He said we could crawl down
through the manhole into the boiler and have a nice visit while he worked.
I remember of following him down through the hole into the boiler;
then they began to head boiler rivets, and I knew nothing more till I
returned to consciousness the next day to find myself in my own
The family physician was holding my hand. My wife asked: "Is he conscious
yet, do you think, doctor?"
"Yes," he replied, "your husband begins to show signs of life. He may live
for many years, but his intellect seems to have been mislaid during his
illness. Do you know whether the cat has carried anything out of this room
Then my wife said: "Yes, the cat did get something out of this room only
the other day and ate it. Poor thing!"
So much amusing talk is being made recently anent the blood-bedraggled
cow-boy of the wild West, that I rise as one man to say a few things, not
in a dictatorial style, but regarding this so-called or so esteemed dry
land pirate who, mounted on a little cow-pony and under the black flag,
sails out across the green surge of the plains to scatter the rocky shores
of Time with the bones of his fellow-man.
A great many people wonder where the cow-boy, with his abnormal thirst for
blood, originated. Where did this young Jesse James, with his gory record
and his dauntless eye, come from? Was he born in a buffalo wallow at the
foot of some rock-ribbed mountain, or did he first breathe the thin air
along the brink of an alkali pond, where the horned toad and the centipede
sang him to sleep, and the tarantula tickled him under the chin with its
Careful research and cold, hard statistics show that the cow-boy, as a
general thing, was born in an unostentatious manner on the farm. I hate to
sit down on a beautiful romance and squash the breath out of a romantic
dream; but the cow-boy who gets too much moist damnation in his system,
and rides on a gallop up and down Main street shooting out the lights of
the beautiful billiard palaces, would be just as unhappy if a mouse ran up
his pantaloon-leg as you would, gentle reader. He is generally a youth who
thinks he will not earn his twenty-five dollars per month if he does not
yell, and whoop, and shoot, and scare little girls into St. Vitus's dance.
I've known more cow-boys to injure themselves with their own revolvers
than to injure anyone else. This is evidently because they are more
familiar with the hoe than they are with the Smith & Wesson.
One night while I had rooms in the business part of a Territorial city in
the Rocky Mountain cattle country, I was awakened at about one o'clock A.
M. by the most blood-curdling cry of "Murder" I ever heard. It was murder
with a big "M." Across the street, in the bright light of a restaurant, a
dozen cow-boys with broad sombreros and flashing silver braid, huge
Mexican spurs and orange silk neckties, and with flashing revolvers, were
standing. It seemed that a big, red-faced Captain Kidd of the band, with
his skin full of valley tan, had marched into an ice-cream resort with a
self-cocker in his hand, and ordered the vanilla coolness for the gang.
There being a dozen young folks at the place, mostly male and female, from
a neighboring hop, indulging in cream, the proprietor, a meek Norwegian
with thin white hair, deemed it rude and outre to do so. He said something
to that effect, whereat the other eleven men of alcoholic courage let off
a yell that froze the cream into a solid glacier, and shook two kerosene
lamps out of their sockets in the chandeliers.
[Illustration: HE YELLED MURDER.]
Thereupon, the little Y.M.C.A. Norwegian said:
"Gentlemans, I kain't neffer like dot squealinks and dot kaind of a tings,
and you fellers mit dot ledder pantses on and dot funny glose and such a
tings like dot, better keep kaind of quiet, or I shall call up the
policemen mit my delephone."
Then they laughed at him, and cried yet again with a loud voice.
This annoyed the ice-cream agriculturist, and he took the old axe-handle
that he used to jam the ice down around the freezer with, and peeled a
large area of scalp off the leader's dome of thought, and it hung down
over his eyes, so that he could not see to shoot with any degree of
After he had yelled "Murder!" three or four times, he fell under an
ice-cream table, and the mild-eyed Scandinavian broke a silver-plated
castor over the organ of self-esteem, and poured red pepper, and salt, and
vinegar, and Halford sauce and other relishes, on the place where the
scalp was loose.
This revived the brave but murderous cow-gentleman, and he begged that he
might be allowed to go away.
The gentle Y.M.C.A. superintendent of the ten-stamp ice-cream freezers
then took the revolvers away from the bold buccaneer, and kicked him out
through a show-case, and saluted him with a bouquet of July oysters that
suffered severely from malaria.
All cow-boys are not sanguinary; but out of twenty you will generally find
one who is brave when he has his revolvers with him; but when he forgot
and left his shooters at home on the piano, the most tropical violet-eyed
dude can climb him with the butt-end of a sunflower, and beat his brains
out and spatter them all over that school district.
In the wild, unfettered West, beware of the man who never carries arms,
never gets drunk and always minds his own business. He don't go around
shooting out the gas, or intimidating a kindergarten school; but when a
brave frontiersman, with a revolver in each boot and a bowie down the back
of his neck, insults a modest young lady, and needs to be thrown through a
plate-glass window and then walked over by the populace, call on the
silent man who dares to wear a clean shirt and human clothes.
Stirring Incidents at a Fire.
Last night I was awakened by the cry of fire. It was a loud, hoarse cry,
such as a large, adult man might emit from his window on the night air.
The town was not large, and the fire department, I had been told, was not
so effective as it should have been.
For that reason I arose and carefully dressed myself, in order to assist,
if possible. I carefully lowered myself from my room, by means of a
staircase which I found concealed in a dark and mysterious corner of the
On the streets all was confusion. The hoarse cry of fire had been taken up
by others, passed around from one to another, till it had swollen into a
dull roar. The cry of fire in a small town is always a grand sight.
All along the street in front of Mr. Pendergast's roller rink the blanched
faces of the people could be seen. Men were hurrying to and fro, knocking
the bystanders over in their frantic attempts to get somewhere else. With
great foresight, Mr. Pendergast, who had that day finished painting his
roller rink a dull-roan color, removed from the building the large card
which bore the legend:
so that those who were so disposed might feel perfectly free to lean up
against the rink and watch the progress of the flames.
Anon the bright glare of the devouring element might have been seen
bursting through the casement of Mr. Cicero Williams's residence, facing
on the alley west of Mr. Pendergast's rink. Across the street the
spectator whose early education had not been neglected could distinctly
read the sign of our esteemed fellow-townsman, Mr. Alonzo Burlingame,
which was lit up by the red glare of the flames so that the letters stood
out plainly as follows:
Dealer in Soft and Hard Coal, Ice-Cream, Wood, Lime, Cement, Perfumery,
Nails, Putty, Spectacles, and Horse Radish.
Chocolate Caramels and Tar Roofing.
Gas Fitting and Undertaking in all Its Branches.
Hides, Tallow, and Maple Syrup.
Fine Gold Jewelry, Silverware, and Salt.
Glue, Codfish, and Gent's Neckwear.
Undertaker and Confectioner.
Diseases of Horses and Children a Specialty.
Jno. White, Ptr.
The flames spread rapidly, until they threatened the Palace rink of our
esteemed fellow-townsman, Mr. Pendergast, whose genial and urbane manner
has endeared him to all.
With a degree of forethought worthy of a better cause, Mr. Leroy W. Butts
suggested the propriety of calling out the hook and ladder company, an
organization of which every one seemed to be justly proud. Some delay
ensued in trying to find the janitor of Pioneer Hook and Ladder Company
No. 1's building, but at last he was secured, and, after he had gone home
for the key, Mr. Butts ran swiftly down the street to awaken the foreman,
but, after he had dressed himself and inquired anxiously about the fire,
he said that he was not foreman of the company since the 2d of April.
Meantime the firefiend continued to rise up ever and anon on his hind feet
and lick up salt-barrel after salt-barrel in close proximity to the Palace
rink, owned by our esteemed fellow-citizen, Mr. Pendergast. Twice Mr.
Pendergast was seen to shudder, after which he went home and filled out a
blank which he forwarded to the insurance company.
Just as the town seemed doomed, the hook and ladder company came rushing
down the street with their navy-blue hook and ladder truck. It is indeed a
beauty, being one of the Excelsior noiseless hook and ladder factory's
best instruments, with tall red pails and rich blue ladders.
Some delay ensued, as several of the officers claimed that under a new
bylaw passed in January they were permitted to ride on the truck to fires.
This having been objected to by a gentleman who had lived in Chicago
several years, a copy of the by-laws was sent for and the dispute
summarily settled. The company now donned its rubber overcoats with great
coolness and proceeded at once to deftly twist the tail of the firefiend.
It was a thrilling sight as James McDonald, a brother of Terrance
McDonald, Trombone, Ind., rapidly ascended one of the ladders in the full
glare of the devouring element and fell off again.
Then a wild cheer arose to a height of about nine feet, and all again
It was now past 11 o'clock, and several of the members of the hook and
ladder company who had to get up early the next day in order to catch a
train excused themselves and went home to seek much-needed rest.
Suddenly it was discovered that the brick livery stable of Mr. Abraham
McMichaels, a nephew of our worthy assessor, was getting hot. Leaving the
Palace rink to its fate, the hook and ladder company directed its
attention to the brick barn, and, after numerous attempts, at last
succeeded in getting its large iron prong fastened on the second story
window-sill, which was pulled out. The hook was again inserted, but not so
effectively, bringing down at this time an armful of hay and part of an
old horse blanket. Another courageous jab was made with the iron hook,
which succeeded in pulling out about 5 cents worth of brick. This was
greeted by a wild burst of applause from the bystanders, during which the
hook and ladder company fell over each other and added to the horror of
the scene by a mad burst of pale-blue profanity.
It was not long before the stable was licked up by the firefiend, and the
hook and ladder company directed its attention toward the undertaking,
embalming, and ice-cream parlors of our highly esteemed fellow-townsman,
Mr. A. Burlingame. The company succeeded in pulling two stone window-sills
out of this building before it burned. Both times they were encored by the
large and aristocratic audience.
Mr. Burlingame at once recognized the efforts of the heroic firemen by
tapping a keg of beer, which he distributed among them at 25 cents per
This morning a space forty-seven feet wide, where but yesterday all was
joy and prosperity and beauty, is covered over with blackened ruins. Mr.
Pendergast is overcome by grief over the loss of his rink, but assures us
that if he is successful in getting the full amount of his insurance he
will take the money and build two rinks, either one of which will be far
more imposing than the one destroyed last evening.
A movement is on foot to give a literary and musical entertainment at
Burley's hall, to raise funds for the purchase of new uniforms for the
"fire laddies," at which Mrs. Butts has consented to sing "When the Robins
Nest Again," and Miss Mertie Stout will recite "'Ostler Jo," a selection
which never fails to offend the best people everywhere. Twenty-five cents
for each offense.
Let there be a full house.
The Little Barefoot Boy.
With the moist and misty spring, with the pink and white columbine of the
wildwood and the breath of the cellar and the incense of burning overshoes
in the back yard, comes the little barefoot boy with fawn colored hair and
a droop in his pantaloons. Poverty is not the grand difficulty with the
little barefoot boy of spring. It is the wild, ungovernable desire to
wiggle his toes in the ambient air, and to soothe his parboiled heels in
the yielding mud.
I see him now in my mind's eye, making his annual appearance like a
rheumatic housefly, stepping high like a blind horse. He has just left his
shoes in the woodshed and stepped out on the piazza to proclaim that
violet-eyed spring is here. All over the land the gladiolus bulb and the
ice man begin to swell. The south wind and the new-born calf at the barn
begin to sigh. The oak tree and the dude begin to put on their spring
apparel. All nature is gay. The thrush is warbling in the asparagus
orchard, and the prima donna does her throat up in a red flannel rag to
wait for another season.
All these things indicate spring, but they are not so certain and
unfailing as the little barefoot boy whose white feet are thrust into the
face of the approaching season. Five months from now those little dimpled
feet, now so bleached and tender, will look like a mudturtle's back and
the superior and leading toe will have a bandage around it, tied with a
piece of thread.
Who would believe that the budding hoodlum before us, with the yellow
chilblain on his heel and the early spring toad in his pocket, which he
will present to the timid teacher as a testimonial of his regard this
afternoon, may be the Moses who will lead the American people forty years
hence into the glorious sunlight of a promised land.
He may possibly do it, but he doesn't look like it now.
Yet John A. Logan and Samuel J. Tilden were once barefooted boys, with a
suspender apiece. It doesn't seem possible, does it?
How can we imagine at this time Julius Caesar and Hannibal Hamlin and
Lucretia Borgia at some time or other stubbed their bare toes against a
root and filled the horizon with pianissimo wails. The barefoot boy of
spring will also proceed to bathe in the river as soon as the ice and the
policeman are out. He will choose a point on the boulevard, where he can
get a good view of those who pass, and in company with eleven other little
barefoot boys, he will clothe himself in an Adam vest, a pair of bare-skin
pantaloons, a Greek slave overcoat and a yard of sunlight, and gaze
earnestly at those who go by on the other side. Up and down the bank,
pasting each other with mud, the little barefoot boys of spring chase each
other, with their vertebrae sticking into the warm and sleepy air, while
down in the marsh, where the cat-tails and the broad flags and the peach
can and the deceased horse grow, the bull-frog is twittering to his mate.
[Illustration: A TESTIMONIAL OF REGARD.]
Later on, the hoarse voice of a rude parental snorter is heard
approaching, and twelve slim Cupids with sunburned backs are inserted into
twelve little cotton shirts and twelve despondent pairs of pantaloons hang
at half-mast to twelve home-made suspenders, and as the gloaming gathers
about the old home, twelve boys back up against the ice-house to cool off,
while the enraged parent hangs up the buggy whip in the old place.
Favored a Higher Fine.
Will Taylor, the son of the present American Consul at Marseilles, was a
good deal like other boys while at school in his old home, at Hudson, Wis.
One day he called his father into the library, and said:
"Pa, I don't like to tell you, but the teacher and I have had trouble."
"What's the matter now?"
"Well, I cut one of the desks a little with my knife, and the teacher says
I've got to pay a dollar or take a lickin'."
"Well, why don't you take the licking and say nothing more about it? I can
stand considerable physical pain, so long as it visits our family in that
form. Of course, it is not pleasant to be flogged, but you have broken a
rule of the school, and I guess you'll have to stand it. I presume that
the teacher will in wrath remember mercy, and avoid disabling you so that
you can't get your coat on any more."
"But, pa, I feel mighty bad about it already, and if you'd pay my fine I'd
never do it again. I know a good deal more about it now, and I will never
do it again. A dollar ain't much to you, pa, but it's a heap to a boy that
hasn't got a cent. If I could make a dollar as easy as you can, pa, I'd
never let my little boy get flogged that way just to save a dollar. If I
had a little feller that got licked bekuz I didn't put up for him, I'd
hate the sight of money always. I'd feel as if every dollar in my pocket
had been taken out of my little kid's back."
"Well, now, I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll give you a dollar to save you
from punishment this time, but if anything of this kind ever occurs again
I'll hold you while the teacher licks you, and then I'll get the teacher
to hold you while I lick you. That's the way I feel about that. If you
want to go around whittling up our educational institutions you can do so;
but you will have to purchase them afterward yourself. I don't propose to
buy any more damaged school furniture. You probably grasp my meaning, do
you not? I send you to school to acquire an education, not to acquire
liabilities, so that you can come around and make an assessment on me. I
feel a great interest in you, Willie, but I do not feel as though it
should be an assessable interest. I want to go on, of course, and improve
the property, but when I pay my dues on it I want to know that it goes
toward development work. I don't want my assessments to go toward the
purchase of a school-desk with American hieroglyphics carved on it.
"I hope that you will bear this in your mind, my son, and beware. It will
be greatly to your interest to beware. If I were in your place I would put
in a large portion of my time in the beware business."
The boy took the dollar and went thoughtfully away to school, and no more
was ever said about the matter until Mr. Taylor learned casually several
months later that the Spartan youth had received the walloping and filed
away the dollar for future reference. The boy was afterward heard to say
that he favored a much heavier fine in cases of that kind. One whipping
was sufficient, he said, but he favored a fine of $5. It ought to be
severe enough to make it an object.
Dear reader, do you remember the boy of your school who did the heavy
falling through the ice and was always about to break his neck, but
managed to live through it all? Do you call to mind the youth who never
allowed anybody else to fall out of a tree and break his collar bone when
he could attend to it himself? Every school has to secure the services of
such a boy before it can succeed, and so our school had one. When I
entered the school I saw at a glance that the board had neglected to
provide itself with a boy whose duty it was to nearly kill himself every
few days in order to keep up the interest so I applied for the position. I
secured it without any trouble whatever. The board understood at once from
my bearing that I would succeed. And I did not betray the trust they had
reposed in me.
[Illustration: BRINGING IN THE REMAINS.]
Before the first term was over I had tried to climb two trees at once and
been carried home on a stretcher; been pulled out of the river with my
lungs full of water, and artificial respiration resorted to; been jerked
around over the north half of the county by a fractious horse whose halter
I had tied to my leg, and which leg is now three inches longer than the
other; together with various other little early eccentricities which I
cannot at this moment call to mind. My parents at last got so that along
about 2 o'clock P.M. they would look anxiously out of the window and say,
"Isn't it about time for the boys to get here with William's remains? They
generally get here before 2 o'clock."
One day five or six of us were playing "I spy" around our barn. Every body
knows how to play "I spy." One shuts his eyes and counts 100, for
instance, while the others hide. Then he must find the rest and say "I
spy" so-and-so and touch the "goal" before they do. If anybody beats him
to the goal the victim has to "blind" over again.
Well, I knew the ground pretty well, and could drop twenty feet out of the
barn window and strike on a pile of straw so as to land near the goal,
touch it, and let the crowd in free without getting found out. I did this
several times and got the blinder, James Bang, pretty mad. After a boy has
counted 500 or 600, and worked hard to gather in the crowd, only to get
jeered and laughed at by the boys, he loses his temper. It was so with
James Cicero Bang. I knew that he almost hated me, and yet I went on.
Finally, in the fifth ballot, I saw a good chance to slide down and let
the crowd in again as I had done on former occasions. I slipped out of the
window and down the side of the barn about two feet, when I was detained
unavoidably. There was a "batten" on the barn that was loose at the upper
end. I think I was wearing my father's vest on that day, as he was away
from home, and I frequently wore his clothes when he was absent. Anyhow
the vest was too large, and when I slid down that loose board ran up
between the vest and my person in such a way as to suspend me about
eighteen feet from the ground, in a prominent but very uncomfortable
I remember it quite distinctly. James C. Bang came around where he could
see me. He said: "I spy Billy Nye and touch the goal before him." No one
came to remove the barn. No one came to sympathize with me in my great
sorrow and isolation. Every little while James C. Bang would come around
the corner and say: "Oh, I see ye. You needn't think you're out of sight
up there. I can see you real plain. You better come down and blind. I can
see ye up there!"
I tried to unbutton my vest and get down there and lick James, but it was
of no use. It was a very trying time. I can remember how I tried to kick
myself loose, but failed. Sometimes I would kick the barn and sometimes I
would kick a large hole in the horizon. Finally I was rescued by a
neighbor who said he didn't want to see a good barn kicked into chaos just
to save a long-legged boy that wasn't worth over six bits.
It affords me great pleasure to add that while I am looked up to and madly
loved by every one that does not know me, Jas. C. Bang is brevet president
of a fractured bank, taking a lonely bridal tour by himself in Europe and
waiting for the depositors to die of old age.
The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they most generally get there with
both feet. (Adapted from the French by permission.)
Marcus Antonius, commonly called Mark Antony, was a celebrated Roman
general and successful politician, who was born in 83 B.C. His
grandfather, on his mother's side, was L. Julius Caesar, and it is
thought that to Mark's sagacity in his selection of a mother, much of
his subsequent success was due.
Young Antony was rather gay and festive during his early years, and led a
life that in any city but Rome would have occasioned talk. He got into a
great many youthful scrapes, and nothing seemed to please him better than
to repeatedly bring his father's gray hairs down in sorrow to the grave.
Debauchery was a matter to which he gave much thought, and many a time he
was found consuming the midnight oil while pursuing his studies in this
At that time Rome was well provided for in the debauchery department, and
Mr. Antony became a thorough student of the entire curriculum.
About 57 B.C. he obtained command of the cavalry of Gambinino in Syria
and Egypt. He also acted as legate for Caesar in Gaul about 52 B.C., as
nearly as I can recall the year. I do not know exactly what a legate is,
but it had something to do with the Roman ballet, I understand, and
commanded a good salary.
He was also elected, in 50, B.C., as Argus and Tribune--acting as Tribune
at night and Argus during the day time, I presume, or he may have been
elected Tribune and ex-officio Argus. He was more successful as Tribune
than he was in the Argus business.
Early in 49, B.C., he fled to Caesar's camp, and the following year was
appointed commander-in-chief. He commanded the left wing of the army at
the battle of Pharsalia, and years afterward used to be passionately fond
of describing it and explaining how he saved the day, and how everybody
else was surprised but him, and how he was awakened by hearing one of the
enemy's troops, across the river, stealthily pulling on his pantaloons.
Antony married Fulvia, the widow of a successful demagogue named P.
Clodius. This marriage could hardly be regarded as a success. It would
have been better for the widow if she had remained Mrs. P. Clodius, for
Mark Antony was one of those old-fashioned Romans who favored the utmost
latitude among men, but heartily enjoyed seeing an unfaithful woman burned
at the stake. In those days the Roman girl had nothing to do but live a
pure and blameless life, so that she could marry a shattered Roman rake
who had succeeded in shunning a blameless life himself, and at last, when
he was sick of all kinds of depravity and needed a good, careful wife to
take care of him, would come with his dappled, sin-sick soul and shattered
constitution, and his vast acquisitions of debts, and ask to be loved by a
noble young woman. Nothing pleased a _blase_ Roman so well as to have a
young and beautiful girl, with eyes like liquid night, to take the job of
reforming him. I frequently get up in the night to congratulate myself
that I was not born, 2,000 years ago, a Roman girl.
The historian continues to say, that though Mr. Antony continued to live a
life of licentious lawlessness, that occasioned talk even in Rome, he was
singularly successful in politics.
He was very successful at funerals, also, and his off-hand obituary works
were sought for far and wide. His impromptu remarks at the grave of
Caesar, as afterward reported by Mr. Shakespeare, from memory, attracted
general notice and made the funeral a highly enjoyable affair. After this
no assassination could be regarded as a success, unless Mark Antony could
be secured to come and deliver his justly celebrated eulogy.
About 43, B.C., Antony, Octavius and Lepidus formed a co-partnership
under the firm name and style of Antony, Octavius & Co., for the purpose
of doing a general, all-round triumvirate business and dealing in Roman
republican pelts. The firm succeeded in making republicanism extremely
odious, and for years a republican hardly dared to go out after dark to
feed the horse, lest he be jumped on by a myrmidon and assassinated. It
was about this time that Cicero had a misunderstanding with Mark's
myrmidons and went home packed in ice.
Mark Antony, when the firm of Antony, Octavius & Co. settled up its
affairs, received as his share the Asiatic provinces and Egypt. It was at
this time that he met Cleopatra at an Egyptian sociable and fell in love
with her. Falling in love with fair women and speaking pieces over
new-made graves seemed to be Mark's normal condition. He got into a
quarrel with Octavius and settled it by marrying Octavia, Octavius'
sister, but this was not a love match, for he at once returned to
Cleopatra, the author of Cleopatra's needle and other works.
This love for Cleopatra was no doubt the cause of his final overthrow, for
he frequently went over to see her when he should have been at home
killing invaders. He ceased to care about slashing around in carnage, and
preferred to turn Cleopatra's music for her while she knocked out the
teeth of her old upright piano and sang to him in a low, passionate, _vox
So, at last, the great cemetery declaimer and long distance assassin, Mark
Antony, was driven out of his vast dominions after a big naval defeat at
Actium, in September, 31 B.C., retreated to Alexandria, called for more
reinforcements and didn't get them. Deserted by his fleet, and reduced to
a hand-me-down suit of clothes and a two-year-old plug hat, he wrote a
poetic wail addressed to Cleopatra and sent it to the Alexandria papers;
then, closing the door and hanging up his pantaloons on a nail so as to
reduce the sag in the knees, he blew out the gas and climbed over the high
board fence which stands forever between the sombre present and the dark
blue, mysterious ultimatum.
"Speaking about prohibition," said Misery Brown one day, while we sat lying
on the damp of the _Blue Tail Fly_, "I am prone to allow that the more you
prohibit, the more you--all at once--discover that you have more or less
failed to prohibit.
"Now, you can win a man over to your way of thinking, sometimes, but you
mustn't do it with the butt-end of a telegraph-pole. You might convert him
that way, perhaps, but the mental shock and phrenological concussion of
the argument might be disastrous to the convert himself.
"A man once said to me that rum was the devil's drink, that Satan's home
was filled with the odor of hot rum, that perdition was soaked with spiced
rum and rum punch. 'You wot not,' said he, 'the ruin rum has rot. Why,
Misery Brown,' said he, 'rum is my _bete noir_.' I said I didn't care what
he used it for, he'd always find it very warming to the system. I told him
he could use it for a hot _bete noir_, or a _blanc mange_, or any of those
fancy drinks; I didn't care.
"But the worst time I ever had grappling with the great enemy, I reckon,
was in the later years of the war, when I pretty near squashed the
rebellion. Grim-visaged war had worn me down pretty well. I played the big
tuba in the regimental band, and I began to sigh for peace.
"We had been on the march all summer, it seemed to me. We'd travel through
dust ankle-deep all day that was just like ashes, and halt in the red-hot
sun five minutes to make coffee. We'd make our coffee in five minutes, and
sometimes we'd make it in the middle of the road; but that's neither here
"We finally found out that we would make a stand in a certain town, and
that the Q.M. had two barrels of old and reliable whisky in store. We
also found out that we couldn't get any for medical purposes nor anything
else All we could do was to suffer on and wait till the war closed. I
didn't feel like postponing the thing myself, so I began to investigate.
The great foe of humanity was stored in a tobacco-house, and the Q.M.
slept three nights between the barrels. The chances for a debauch looked
peaked and slim in the extreme. However, there was a basement below, and I
got in there one night with a half-inch auger, and two wash-tubs. Later on
there was a sound of revelry by night. There was considerable 'on with the
dance, let joy be unconfined.'
"The next day there was a spongy appearance to the top of the head, which
seemed to be confined to our regiment, as a result of the sudden giving
way, as it were, of prohibitory restrictions. It was a very disagreeable
day, I remember. All nature seemed clothed in gloom, and R.E. Morse,
P.D.Q., seemed to be in charge of the proceedings. Redeyed Regret was
"We then proceeded to yearn for the other barrel of woe, that we might
pile up some more regret, and have enough misery to last us through the
balance of the campaign. We acted on this suggestion, and, with a firm
resolve and the same half-inch auger, we stole once more into the basement
of the tobacco-house.
"I bored nineteen consecutive holes in the atmosphere, and then an
intimate friend of mine bored twenty-seven distinct holes in the floor,
only to bore through the bosom of the night. Eleven of us spent the most
of the night boring into the floor, and at three o'clock A.M. it looked
like a hammock, it was so full of holes. The quartermaster slept on
through it all. He slept in a very audible tone of voice, and every now
and then we could hear him slumbering on.
"At last we decided that he was sleeping middling close to that barrel, so
we began to bore closer to the snore. It was my turn to bore, I remember,
and I took the auger with a heavy heart. I bored through the floor, and
for the first time bored into something besides oxygen. It was the
quartermaster. A wild yell echoed through the southern confederacy, and I
pulled out my auger. It had on the point a strawberry mark, and a fragment
of one of those old-fashioned woven wire gray shirts, such as
quartermasters used to wear.
"I remember that we then left the tobacco-house. In the hurry we forgot
two wash-tubs, a half-inch auger, and 980,361 new half-inch auger holes
that had never been used."
"Done It A-Purpose."
At Greeley a young man with a faded cardigan jacket and a look of woe got
on the train, and as the car was a little crowded he sat in the seat with
me. He had that troubled and anxious expression that a rural young man
wears when he first rides on the train. When the engine whistled he would
almost jump out of that cardigan jacket, and then he would look kind of
foolish, like a man who allows his impulses to get the best of him. Most
everyone noticed the young man and his cardigan jacket, for the latter had
arrived at the stage of droopiness and jaded-across-the-shoulders look
that the cheap knit jacket of commerce acquires after awhile, and it had
shrunken behind and stretched out in front so that the horizon, as you
stood behind the young man, seemed to be bound by the tail of this
garment, which started out at the pocket with good intentions and suddenly
decided to rise above the young man's shoulder blades.
He seemed so diffident and so frightened among strangers, that I began to
talk with him.
"Do you live at Greeley?" I inquired.
"No, sir," he said, in an embarrassed way, as most anyone might in the
presence of greatness. "I live on a ranch up the Pandre. I was just at
Greeley to see the circus."
I thought I would play the tenderfoot and inquiring pilgrim from the
cultured East, so I said: "You do not see the circus often in the West, I
presume, the distance is so great between towns and the cost of
transportation is so great?"
"No, sir. This is the first circus I ever was to. I have never saw a
"How did you like it?"
"O, tip-top. It was a good thing. I'd like to see it every day if I could,
I laughed and drank lemonade till I've got my cloze all pinned up with
pins, and I'd as soon tell you, if you wont give it away, that my pants is
tied on me with barbed fence wire."
"Probably that's what gives you that anxious and apprehensive look?"
"Yes, sir. If I look kind of doubtless about something, its because I'm
afraid my pantaloons will fall off on the floor and I will have to borrow
a roller towel to wear home."
"How did you like the animals?"
"I liked that part of the Great Moral Aggregation the best of all. I have
not saw such a sight before. I could stand there and watch that there old
scaly elephant stuff hay into his bosom with his long rubber nose for
hours. I'd read a good deal first and last about the elephant, the king of
beasts, but I had never yet saw one. Yesterday father told me there hadn't
been much joy into my young life, and so he gave me a dollar and told me
to go over to the circus and have a grand time. I tell you, I just turned
myself loose and gave myself up to pleasure."
[Illustration: I WAS A POOR CONVERSATIONALIST.]
"What other animals seemed to please you?" I asked, seeing that he was
getting a little freer to talk.
"Oh, I saw the blue-nosed baboon from Farther India, and the red-eyed
sandhill crane from Maddygasker, I think it was, and the sacred
Jack-rabbit from Scandihoovia, and the lop-eared layme from South America.
Then there was the female acrobat with her hair tied up with red ribbon.
It's funny about them acrobat wimmen. They get big pay, but they never buy
cloze with their money. Now, the idea of a woman that gets $2 or $3 a day,
for all I know, coming out there before 2,000 total strangers, wearing a
pair of Indian war clubs and a red ribbon in her hair. I tell you,
pardner, them acrobat prima donnars are mighty stingy with their money, or
else they're mighty economical with their cloze."
"Did you go into the side show?"
"No, sir. I studied the oil paintings on the outside, but I didn't go in,
I met a handsome looking man there near the side show, though, that seemed
to take an interest in me. There was a lottery along with the show and he
wanted me to go and throw for him."
"Perhaps so. Anyhow, he gave me a dollar and told me to go and throw for
"Why didn't he throw for himself?"