Part 7 out of 9
mysterious river. He has gone to that bourne whence no traveler returns.
Most of you, no doubt, have heard about it. On those who may not have
heard it, the announcement will fall with a sickening thud.
This sketch is not intended to cast a gloom over your hearts. It was
designed to cheer those who read it and make them glad they could read.
Therefore, I would have been glad if I could have spared them the pain
which this sudden breaking of the news of the death of Demosthenes will
bring. But it could not be avoided. We should remember the transitory
nature of life, and when we are tempted to boast of our health, and
strength, and wealth, let us remember the sudden and early death of
Demosthenes was not born an orator. He struggled hard and failed many
times. He was homely, and he stammered in his speech; but before his death
they came to him for hundreds of miles to get him to open their county
fairs and jerk the bird of freedom bald-headed on the Fourth of July.
When Demosthenes' father died, he left fifteen talents to be divided
between Demosthenes and his sister. A talent is equal to about $1,000. I
often wish I had been born a little more talented.
Demosthenes had a short breath, a hesitating speech, and his manners were
very ungraceful. To remedy his stammering, he filled his mouth full of
pebbles and howled his sentiments at the angry sea. However, Plutarch says
that Demosthenes made a gloomy fizzle of his first speech. This did not
discourage him. He finally became the smoothest orator in that country,
and it was no uncommon thing for him to fill the First Baptist Church of
Athens full. There are now sixty of his orations extant, part of them
written by Demosthenes and part of them written by his private secretary.
When he started in, he was gentle, mild and quiet in his manner; but later
on, carrying his audience with him, he at last became enthusiastic. He
thundered, he roared, he whooped, he howled, he jarred the windows, he
sawed the air, he split the horizon with his clarion notes, he tipped over
the table, kicked the lamps out of the chandeliers and smashed the big
bass viol over the chief fiddler's head.
Oh, Demosthenes was business when he got started. It will be a long time
before we see another off-hand speaker like Demosthenes, and I, for one,
have never been the same man since I learned of his death.
"Such was the first of orators," says Lord Brougham. "At the head of all
the mighty masters of speech, the adoration of ages has consecrated his
place, and the loss of the noble instrument with which he forged and
launched his thunders, is sure to maintain it unapproachable forever."
I have always been a great admirer of the oratory of Demosthenes, and
those who have heard both of us, think there is a certain degree of
similarity in our style.
And not only did I admire Demosthenes as an orator, but as a man; and,
though I am no Vanderbilt, I feel as though I would be willing to head a
subscription list for the purpose of doing the square thing by his
sorrowing wife, if she is left in want, as I understand that she is.
I must now leave Demosthenes and pass on rapidly to speak of Patrick
Mr. Henry was the man who wanted liberty or death. He preferred liberty,
though. If he couldn't have liberty, he wanted to die, but he was in no
great rush about it. He would like liberty, if there was plenty of it; but
if the British had no liberty to spare, he yearned for death. When the
tyrant asked him what style of death he wanted, he said that he would
rather die of extreme old age. He was willing to wait, he said. He didn't
want to go unprepared, and he thought it would take him eighty or ninety
years more to prepare, so that when he was ushered into another world he
wouldn't be ashamed of himself.
One hundred and ten years ago, Patrick Henry said: "Sir, our chains are
forged. Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston. The war is
inevitable, and let it come. I repeat it, sir, let it come!"
In the spring of 1860, I used almost the same language. So did Horace
Greeley. There were four or five of us who got our heads together and
decided that the war was inevitable, and consented to let it come.
Then it came. Whenever there is a large, inevitable conflict loafing
around waiting for permission to come, it devolves on the great statesmen
and bald-headed _literati_ of the nation to avoid all delay. It was so
with Patrick Henry. He permitted the land to be deluged in gore, and then
he retired. It is the duty of the great orator to howl for war, and then
hold some other man's coat while he fights.
Strabusmus and Justice.
Over in St. Paul I met a man with eyes of cadet blue and a terra cotta
nose. His eyes were not only peculiar in shape, but while one seemed to
constantly probe the future, the other was apparently ransacking the
dreamy past. While one rambled among the glorious possibilities of the
remote yet golden ultimately, the other sought the somber depths of the
He told me that years ago he had a mild case of strabismus and that both
eyes seemed to glare down his nose till he got restless and had them
operated on. Those were the days when they used to fasten a crochet hook
under the internal rectus muscle and cut it a little with a pair of
optical sheep shears. The effect of this course was to allow the eye to
drift back to a direct line; but this man fell into the hands of a drunken
surgeon who cut the muscle too much, and thereby weakened it so that it
gradually swung past the point it ought to have stopped at, and he saw
with horror that his eye was going to turn out and protrude, as it were,
so that a man could hang his hat on it. The other followed suit, and the
two orbs that had for years looked along the bridge of the terra cotta
nose, gradually separated, and while one looked toward next Christmas with
fond anticipations, the other loved to linger over the remembrances of
This thing continued till he had to peer into the future with his off eye
closed, and vice versa.
It is needless to say that he hungered for the blood of that physician and
surgeon. He tried to lay violent hands on him and wipe up the ground with
him and wear him out across a telegraph pole. But the authorities always
prevented the administration of swift and lawful justice.
Time passed on, till one night the abnormal wall-eyed man loosened a board
in the sidewalk up town so that the physician and surgeon caught his foot
in it and caused an oblique fracture of the scapula, pied his dura mater,
busted his cornucopia and wrecked his sarah-bellum.
Perhaps I am in error as to some of these medical terms and their
orthography, but that is about the way the man with the divergent orbs
told it to me.
The physician and surgeon was quite a ruin. He had to wear clapboards on
himself for months, and there were other doctors, and laudable pus and
threatened gangrene and doctors' bills, with the cemetery looming up in
the near future. Day after day he took his own anti-febrile drinks, and
rammed his busted system full of iron and strychnine and beef tea and
dover's powders and hypodermic squirt till he wished he could die, but
death would not come. He pawed the air and howled. They fed him his own
nux vomica, tincture of rhubarb and phosphates and gruel, and brought him
back to life with a crooked collar bone, a shattered shoulder blade and a
look of woe.
Then he sued the town for $50,000 damages because the sidewalk was
imperfect, and the wild-eyed man with the inflamed nose got on the jury.
I will not explain how it was done, but there was a verdict for defendant
with costs on the Esculapian wreck. The man with the crooked vision is not
handsome, but he is very happy. He says the mills of the gods grind
slowly, but they pulverise middling fine.
A Spencerian Ass.
After I had accumulated a handsome competence as city editor of the old
Morning _Sentinel_ at Laramie City, and had married and gone to
housekeeping with a gas stove and other luxuries, my place on the
_Sentinel_ was taken by a newspaper man named Hopkins, who had just
graduated from a business college, and who brought a nice glazed grip
sack and a diploma with him that had never been used.
Hopkins wrote a fine Spencerian hand and wore a black and tan dog
where-ever he went. The boys were willing to overlook his copper-plate
hand, but they drew the line at the dog. He not only wrote in beautiful
style, but he copied his manuscript, so that when it went in to the
printer it was as pretty as a wedding invitation.
[Illustration: HE THREW ME OUT.]
Hopkins ran the city page nine days, and then he came into the city hall
where I was trying a simple drunk and bade me adieu.
I just say this to show how difficult it is for a fine penman to get ahead
as a journalist. Of course good, readable writers like Knox and John
Hancock may become great, but they have to be men of sterling ability to
I have some of the most bloodcurdling horrors preserved for the purpose of
showing Hopkins' wonderful and vivid style. I will throw them in.
"A little son of our esteemed fellow townsman, J.H. Hayford, suffered
greatly last evening with virulent colic, but this A.M., as we go to
press, is sleeping easily."
Think of shaking the social foundations of a mountain mining and stock
town with such grim, nervous prostrators as that! The next day he startled
Southern Wyoming and Northern Colorado and Utah with the maddening
statement that "our genial friend, Leopold Gussenhoven's fine, yellow dog,
Florence Nightingale, had been seriously threatened with insomnia."
That was the style of mental calisthenics he gave us in a town where death
by opium and ropium was liable to occur, and where five men with their
Mexican spurs on climbed one telegraph pole in one night and sauntered
into the remote indefinitely. Hopkins told me that he had tried to do what
was right, but that he had not succeeded very well. He wrung my hand and
"I have tried hard to make the _Sentinel_ fill a long want felt, but I
have not been fortunate. The foreman over there is a harsh man. He used to
come in and intimate in a frowning and erect tone of voice, that if I did
not produce that copy p.d.q., or some other abbreviation or other, that he
would bust my crust, or words of like import.
"Now that's no way to talk to a man of a nervous temperament who is
engaged in copying a list of hotel arrivals, and shading the capitals as I
was. In the business college it was not that way. Everything was quiet,
and there was nothing to jar a man like that.
"Of course I would like to stay on the _Sentinel_ and draw the princely
salary, but there are two hundred reasons why I cannot do it. So far as
the physical effort is concerned, I could draw the salary with one hand
tied behind me, but there is too much turmoil and mad haste in daily
journalism to suit me, and another thing, the proprietor of the _Sentinel_
this morning stole up behind me and struck me over the head with a
wrought-iron side stick weighing ten pounds. If I had not concealed a coil
spring in my plug hat, the blow would have been deleterious to me.
"Then he threw me out of the door against a total stranger, and flung
pieces of coal at me and called me a copper-plate ass, and said that if I
ever came into the office again he would assassinate me.
"That is the principal reason why I have severed my connection with the
As he said this, Mr. Hopkins took out a polka-dot handkerchief wiped away
a pearly tear the size of a walnut, wrung my hand, also the polka-dot
wipe, and stole out into the great, horrid hence.
Anecdotes of Justice.
The justice of the peace is sometimes a peculiarity, and if someone does
not watch him he will exceed his jurisdiction. It took a constable, a
sheriff, a prosecuting attorney and a club to convince a Wyoming justice
of the peace that he had no right to send a man to the penitentiary for
life. Another justice in Utah sentenced a criminal to be hung on the
following Friday between twelve and one o'clock of said day, but he
couldn't enforce the sentence. A Wisconsin justice of the peace granted a
divorce and in two weeks married the couple over again--ten dollars for
the divorce and two dollars for the relapse. Another Badger justice bound
a young man over to appear and answer at the next term of the Circuit
Court for the crime of chastity, and the evidence was entirely
Another one, when his first case came up, jerked a candle box around
behind the dining-room table, put his hat on the back of his head,
borrowed a chew of tobacco from the prisoner and said: "Now, boys, the
court's open. The first feller that says a word unless I speak to him will
get paralyzed. Now tell your story." Then each witness and the defendant
reeled off his yarn without being sworn. The justice fined the defendant
ten dollars and made the complaining witness pay half the costs. The
justice then took the fine and put it in his pocket, adjourned court, and
in an hour was so full that it took six men to hold his house still long
enough for him to get into the doors.
A North Park justice of the peace and under-sheriff formed a partnership
years ago for the purpose of supplying people with justice at New York
prices, and by doing a strictly cash business they dispensed with a good
deal of justice, such as it was.
It was a misdemeanor to kill game and ship it out of the State, and as
there was a good deal killed there, consisting of elk, antelope and black
tail deer especially, and as it could not be hauled out of the Park at
that season without going across the Wyoming line and back again into the
State of Colorado, the under-sheriff would load himself down with
warrants, signed in blank, and station himself on horseback at the foot of
the pass to the North. He would then arrest everybody indiscriminately who
had any fraction of a deer, antelope or elk on his wagon, try the case
then and there, put on a fine of $25 to $75, which if paid never reached
the treasury, and then he would wait for another victim. The average man
would rather pay the fine than go back a hundred miles through the
mountains to stand trial, so the under-sheriff and justice thrived for
some time. But one day the under-sheriff served his patent automatic
warrant on a young man who refused to come down. The officer then drew one
of those large baritone instruments that generally has a coward at one end
and a corpse at the other. He pointed this at the young man and assessed a
fine of $50 and costs. Instead of paying this fine, the youth, who was
quite nimble, but unarmed, knocked the bogus officer down with the butt
end of his six-mule whip, took his self-cocking credentials away and lit
out. In less than a week the justice and his copper were in the
I was once a justice of the peace, and a good many funny little incidents
occurred while I held that office. I do not allude to my official life
here in order to call attention to my glowing career, for thousands of
others, no doubt, could have administered the affairs of the office as
well as I did, but rather to speak of one incident which took place while
I was a J.P.
One night after I had retired and gone to sleep a milkman, called Bill
Dunning, rang the bell and got me out of bed. Then he told me that a man
who owed him a milk bill of $35 was all loaded up and prepared to slip
across the line overland into Colorado, there to grow up with the country
and acquire other indebtedness, no doubt. Bill desired an attachment for
the entire wagon-load of goods and said he had an officer at hand to serve
"But," said I, as I wrapped a "welcome" husk door mat around my glorious
proportions, "how do you know while we converse together he is not winging
his way down the valley of the Paudre?"
"Never mind that, jedge," says William. "You just fix the dockyments and
I'll tend to the defendant."
In an hour Bill returned with $35 in cash for himself and the entire costs
of the court, and as we settled up and fixed the docket I asked Bill
Dunning how he detained the defendant while we made out the affidavit bond
and writ of attachment.
"You reckollect, jedge," says William, "that the waggin wheel is held onto
the exle with a big nut. No waggin kin go any length of time without that
there nut onto the exle. Well, when I diskivered that what's-his-name was
packed up and the waggin loaded, I took the liberty to borrow one o' them
there nuts fur a kind of momento, as it were, and I kept that in my pocket
till we served the writ and he paid my bill and came to his milk, if
you'll allow me that expression, and then I says to him, 'Pardner,' says
I, you are going far, far away where I may never see you again. Take this
here nut,' says I, 'and put it onto the exle of the oft hind wheel of your
waggin, and whenever you look at it hereafter, think of poor old Bill
Dunning, the milkman.'"
The Chinese God.
I presume that I shall not be accused of sacrilege in referring to the
Chinese god as an inferior piece of art. Viewed simply from an artistic
and economical standpoint, it seems to me that the Chinaman should have
less pride in his bow-legged and inefficient god than in any other
I do not wish to be understood as interfering with any man's religious
views; but when polygamy is made a divine decree, or a basswood deity is
whittled out and painted red, to look up to and to worship, I cannot treat
that so-called religious belief with courtesy and reverence. I am quite
liberal in all religious matters. People have noticed that and remarked
it, but the Oriental god of commerce seems to me to be greatly over-rated.
He seems to lack that genuine decision of character which should be a
feature of an over-ruling power.
I ask the phrenologist to come with me and examine the head of the alleged
Josh, and to state whether or not he believes that the properly balanced
head of a successful god should not have a more protuberant knob of
spirituality, and a less pronounced alimentiveness. Should the bump of
combativeness hang out over the ear, while time, tune and calculation are
noticeably reticent? I certainly wot not.
Again, how can the physiognomy of the Celestial Josh be consistent with a
moral and temperate god? The low brow would not indicate a pronounced
omniscience, and the Jumbo ears and the copious neck would not impress me
with the idea of purity and spirituality.
It is, no doubt, wrong to attack sacred matters for the purpose of gaining
notoriety; but I believe I am right, when I assert that the Chinese god
must go. We should not be Puritanical, but we might safely draw the line
at the bow-legged and sedentary goddess of leprosy.
If Confucius bowed the suppliant knee to that goggle-eyed jim-jam Josh,
I am grieved to know it. If such was the case, the friends of Confucius
should keep the matter from me. I cannot believe that the great
philosopher wallowed in the dust at the feet of such a polka-dot
carricature of a gorilla's horrid dream.
I bought a Chinese god once, for four bits. He was not successful in
the profession which he aimed to follow. Whatever he may have been in
China, he was not a very successful god in the English language. I put
him upon the mantel, and the clock stopped, the servant girl sent in
her resignation, and a large dog jumped through the parlor-window. All
this happened within two hours from the time I erected the lop-eared,
knocked-kneed and club-footed Oolong in my household.
[Illustration: THE DOG EXITS.]
Perhaps this may have been largely due to my ignorance of his habits.
Possibly if I had been more familiar with his eccentricities, it would
have been all right; but as it was, there was no book of instructions
given with him, and I couldn't seem to make him work.
During the week following, the prospect shaft of the New Jerusalem mine
struck a subterranean gulf-stream and water-logged the stock, a tall
yellow dog, under the weight of a great woe, picked out my cistern to
suicide in, and I skated down the cellar-stairs on my shoulder-blades
and the phrenological location known as Love of Home, in such a terrible
manner as to jar the foundations of the earth, and kick a large hole out
of the bosom of the night.
I then met with a change of heart, and overthrew the warty heathen god,
and knocked him galley west. My hens at once began to watch the produce
market, and, noticing the high price of eggs, commenced to orate with
great zeal instead of standing around with their hands in their pockets. I
saw the new moon over my right shoulder, and all nature seemed gay once
The above are a few of my reasons for believing that the Chinese god is
either greatly over-estimated, or else shippers and producers are flooding
the market with fraudulent gods.
A Great Spiritualist.
I have an uncle who is a physician, and a very busy one at that. He is a
very active man, and allows himself very little relaxation indeed. How
many times he has said to me, "Well, I can't stand here and fool away my
time with you. I've got a typhoid fever patient down in the lower end of
town who will get well if I don't get over there this forenoon."
He never allows himself any relaxation to speak of, except to demonstrate
the truth of spiritualism. He does love to monkey with the supernatural,
and he delights in getting hold of some skeptical friend and convincing
him of the presence of spirits beyond a doubt. I've known him to ignore
two cases of croup and one case of twins to attend a seance and help
convince a doubting Thomas on the spirit question.
I believe that he and I, together with a little time in which to prepare,
could convince the most skeptical. He says that with a friend to assist
him, who is _en rapport_, and who has a little practice, he can reach the
stoniest heart. He is a very susceptible medium indeed, and created a
great furore in his own town. He said it was a great comfort to him to
converse with his former patients, and he felt kind of attached to them,
so that he hated to be separated from them, even in death.
Spiritualism had quite a run in his neighborhood at one time, as I have
said. Even his own family yielded to the convincing proof and the
astounding phenomena. If his wife hadn't found some of his spiritual
tracks down cellar, she would have remained firm, no doubt, but the doctor
forgot and left his step-ladder down there, and that showed where the hole
in the floor opened into his mysterious cabinet.
He said if he had been a little more careful, no doubt he could have
convinced anybody of the presence of spirits or anything else. He said he
didn't intend to give up as long as there was anything left in the cellar.
He had such unwavering confidence in the phenomena that all he asked of
anybody was faith and a buckskin string about two feet long.
He and his brother, a reformed member of Congress, read the inmost
thoughts of a skeptical friend all one evening by the aid of supernatural
powers and a tin tube. The reformed member of Congress acted as medium,
and the doctor, who was unfortunately and ostensibly called away into the
country early in the evening, remained at the window outside, where he
could read the queries written by the victim on a slip of paper. Then he
would run around the house and murmur the same through a tin tube at
another window by the medium's ear.
It was astounding. The skeptical man would write some deep question on a
slip of paper, and after the medium had felt of his brow, and groaned a
few hollow groans, and rolled his eyes up, he would answer it without
having been within twenty feet of the question or the questioner. The
victim said he would never doubt again.
What a comfort it was to know that immortality was an established fact. If
he could have heard a man talking in a low tone of voice through an old
tin dipper handle, at the south window on the ground floor, and
occasionally swearing at a mosquito on the back of his neck, he would have
An old-timer over there said that Woodworth would be a mighty good
physician if he would let spiritualism alone. He claimed that no man could
be a great physician and surgeon and still be a fanatic on spiritualism.
General Sheridan's Horse.
I have always taken a great interest in war incidents, and more so,
perhaps, because I wasn't old enough to put down the rebellion myself. I
have been very eager to get hold of and hoard up in my memory all its
gallant deeds of both sides, and to know the history of those who figured
prominently in that great conflict has been one of my ambitions.
I have also watched with interest the steady advancement of Phil Sheridan,
the black-eyed warrior with the florid face and the Winchester record. I
have also taken some pains to investigate the later history of the old
Winchester war horse.
"Old Rienzi died in our stable a few years after the war," said a Chicago
livery man to me, a short time ago. "General Sheridan left him with us and
instructed us to take good care of him, which we did, but he got old at
last, and his teeth failed upon him, and that busted his digestion, and he
kind of died of old age, I reckon."
"How did General Sheridan take it?"
"Oh, well, Phil Sheridan is no school girl. He didn't turn away when old
Rienzi died and weep the manger full of scalding regret. If you know
Sheridan, you know that he don't rip the blue dome of heaven wide open
with unavailing wails. He just told us to take care of its remains, patted
the old cuss on the head a little and walked off. Phil Sheridan don't go
around weeping softly into a pink bordered wipe when a horse dies. He
likes a good horse, but Rienzi was no Jay-Eye-See for swiftness, and he
wasn't the purtiest horse you ever see, by no means."
"Did you read lately how General Sheridan don't ride on horseback since
his old war horse died, and seems to have lost all interest in horses?"
"No, I never did. He no doubt would rather ride in a cable car or a
carriage than to jar himself up on a horse. That's all likely enough,
but, as I say, he's a matter of fact little fighter from Fighttown. He
never stopped to snoot and paw up the ground and sob himself into
bronchitis over old Rienzi. He went right on about his business, and,
like old King What's-His-name he hollered for another hoss, and the War
Department never slipped a cog."
Later on I read that the old war horse was called Winchester and that he
was still alive in a blue grass pasture in Kentucky. The report said that
old Winchester wasn't very coltish, and that he was evidently failing. I
gathered the idea that he was wearing store teeth, and that his memory was
a little deficient, but that he might live yet for years. After that I met
a New York livery stable prince, at whose palace General Sheridan's
well-known Winchester war horse died of botts in '71. He told me all
about it and how General Sheridan came on from Chicago at the time, and
held the horse's head in his lap while the fleet limbs that flew from
Winchester down and saved the day, stiffened in the great, mysterious
repose of death. He said Sheridan wept like a child, and as he told the
touching tale to me I wept also. I say I wept. I wept about a quart, I
would say. He said also that the horse's name wasn't Winchester nor
Rienzi; it was Jim.
I was sorry to know it. Jim is no name for a war horse who won a victory
and a marble bust and a poem. You can't respect a horse much if his name
After that I found out that General Sheridan's celebrated Winchester horse
was raised in Kentucky, also in Pennsylvania and Michigan; that he went
out as a volunteer private; that he was in the regular service prior to
the war, and that he was drafted, and that he died on the field of battle,
in a sorrel pasture, in '73, in great pain on Governor's Island; that he
was buried with Masonic honors by the Good Templars and the Grand Army of
the Republic; that he was resurrected by a medical college and dissected;
that he was cremated in New Orleans and taxidermed for the Military Museum
at New York. Every little while I run up against a new fact relative to
this noted beast. He has died in nine different States, and been buried in
thirteen different styles, while his soul goes marching on. Evidently we
live in an age of information. You can get more information nowadays, such
as it is, than you know what to do with.
To my friends, regardless of party.--Many friends having solicited me to
apply for a foreign mission under the present administration, I have
finally consented to do so, and last week filed my application for such
missions as might still remain vacant.
To insure my appointment, much will remain for you to do. I now call upon
my friends to aid me by their united effort. I especially solicit the aid
of my friends who have repeatedly heretofore promised it to me while
[Illustration: PLENTY OF CORRESPONDENCE.]
You will see at a glance that I can only make the application. You must
support it by your petitions and letters. It would be of little use for
one man to write five thousand letters to the president, but if five
thousand people each write him a letter in which casual reference is made
to my social worth and 7-1/3 octave brain, it will make him pay attention.
My idea would be for each of my friends to set aside one day in each week
to write to the president, opening it in a chatty way by asking him if he
does not think we are having rather a backward spring, and what he is
doing for his cut worms now, and how his folks are, etc., etc. Then
gradually lead up to the statement that you think I would be an ornament
to the administration if I should go abroad and linger on a foreign strand
at $2,000 per linger and stationery.
This will keep the president properly stirred up, and cause him to earn
his salary. The effect will be to secure the appointment at last, as you
will see if you persevere.
I need not add that I will do what is right by my friends upon receiving
Do not neglect this suggestion because it comes to you in the form of a
circular, but remember it and act upon it. Remember that, although the
president is stubborn as Sam Hill, he will at last yield to fatigue, and
when tired nature can hold out no longer, the last letter will drop from
his nerveless hand and he will surrender.
[Illustration: NURSING THE FIERY STEED.]
Some of you will urge that I have been an offensive partisan, but when you
come to think it over I have not been so all-fired partisan. There have
been days and days when it did not show itself very much. However, that is
not the point. I want your hearty indorsement and I want it to be entirely
voluntary, and if you do not give it, and give it freely and voluntarily,
you hadn't better ask me for any more favors.
All the newspapers most heartily indorse me. The _Rocky Mountain Whoop_
very truthfully says:
"Mr. Nye called at our office yesterday and subscribed for our paper. We
are proud to add him to our list of paid-up subscribers, and should he
renew his subscription next year, paying in advance, we will cheerfully
refer to it among other startling news."
I have a scrap-book full of such indorsements as this, and now, if my
friends will peel their coats and write as they should, I can make this
administration open its eyes.
Several papers in Iowa have alluded to my being in town, and referred to
the fact that I had paid my bills while there. But press indorsements
alone are not sufficient. What is needed is the written testimony of
friends and neighbors. No matter how poor or humble or worthless you may
be, write to Mr. Cleveland and tell him how much confidence you have in
me, and if you can call to mind any little acts of kindness, or any times
when I have got up in the night to give you a dollar, or nurse a colicky
horse for you, throw that in. Throw it in anyhow. It will do no harm, and
may do much good.
I can solemnly promise all my friends that if they will secure my
appointment to a foreign country for four years, I will not return during
that time. What more can I offer? I will stay longer if I am reappointed.
I would do anything for my friends.
Do not throw this circular carelessly aside. Read it carefully over and
act upon it. Some of you are poor spellers, and will try to get out of it
in that way. Others are in the penitentiary and cannot spare the time. But
to one and all I say, write, and write regularly, to the president. Do not
wait for a reply from him, because he is pretty busy now; but he will be
tickled to death to hear from you, and anything you say about me will give
him great pleasure.
N.B.--Please be careful not to inclose this circular in your letter to the
The Photograph Habit.
No doubt the photograph habit, when once formed, is one of the most
baneful, and productive of the most intense suffering in after years, of
any with which we are familiar. Some times it seems to me that my whole
life has been one long, abject apology for photographs that I have shed
abroad throughout a distracted country.
Man passes through seven distinct stages of being photographed, each one
exceeding all previous efforts in that line.
First he is photographed as a prattling, bald-headed baby, absolutely
destitute of eyes, but making up for this deficiency by a wealth of mouth
that would make a negro minstrel olive green with envy. We often wonder
what has given the average photographer that wild, hunted look about the
eyes and that joyless sag about the knees. The chemicals and the indoor
life alone have not done all this. It is the great nerve tension and
mental strain used in trying to photograph a squirming and dark red child
with white eyes, in such a manner as to please its parents.
An old-fashioned dollar store album with cerebro-spinal meningitis, and
filled with pictures of half-suffocated children in heavily-starched white
dresses, is the first thing we seek on entering a home, and the last thing
from which we reluctantly part.
The second stage on the downward road is the photograph of the boy with
fresh-cropped hair, and in which the stiff and protuberant thumb takes a
Then follows the portrait of the lad, with strongly marked freckles and a
look of hopeless melancholy. With the aid of a detective agency, I have
succeeded in running down and destroying several of these pictures which
were attributed to me.
Next comes the young man, 21 years of age, with his front hair plastered
smoothly down over his tender, throbbing dome of thought. He does not care
so much about the expression on the mobile features, so long as his left
hand, with the new ring on it, shows distinctly, and the string of
jingling, jangling charms on his watch chain, including the cute little
basket cut out of a peach stone, stand out well in the foreground. If the
young man would stop to think for a moment that some day he may become
eminent and ashamed of himself, he would hesitate about doing this.
Soon after, he has a tintype taken in which a young lady sits in the
alleged grass, while he stands behind her with his hand lightly touching
her shoulder as though he might be feeling of the thrilling circumference
of a buzz saw. He carries this picture in his pocket for months, and looks
at it whenever he may be unobserved.
Then, all at once, he discovers that the young lady's hair is not done up
that way any more, and that her hat doesn't seem to fit her. He then, in a
fickle moment, has another tintype made, in which another young woman,
with a more recent hat and later coiffure, is discovered holding his hat
in her lap.
This thing continues, till one day he comes into the studio with his wife,
and tries to see how many children can be photographed on one negative by
holding one on each knee and using the older ones as a back-ground.
The last stage in his eventful career, the old gentleman allows himself to
be photographed, because he is afraid he may not live through another
long, hard winter, and the boys would like a picture of him while he is
able to climb the dark, narrow stairs which lead to the artist's room.
Sadly the thought comes back to you in after years, when his grave is
green in the quiet valley, and the worn and weary hands that have toiled
for you are forever at rest, how patiently he submitted while his daughter
pinned the clean, stiff, agonizing white collar about his neck, and
brushed the velvet collar of his best coat; how he toiled up the long,
dark, lonesome stairs, not with the egotism of a half century ago, but
with the light of anticipated rest at last in his eyes--obediently, as he
would have gone to the dingy law office to have his will drawn--and meekly
left the outlines of his kind old face for those he loved and for whom he
had so long labored.
It is a picture at which the thoughtless may smile, but it is full of
pathos, and eloquent for those who knew him best. His attitude is stiff
and his coat hunches up in the back, but his kind old heart asserts itself
through the gentle eyes, and when he has gone away at last we do not
criticise the picture any more, but beyond the old coat that hunches up in
the back, and that lasted him so long, we read the history of a noble
Silently the old finger-marked album, lying so unostentatiously on the
gouty centre table, points out the mile-stones from infancy to age, and
back of the mistakes of a struggling photographer is portrayed the
laughter and the tears, the joy and the grief, the dimples and the gray
hairs of one man's life-tine.
In answer to a former article relative to the dearth of woman here, we are
now receiving two to five letters per day from all classes and styles of
young, middle-aged and old women who desire to come to Wyoming.
Some of them would like to come here to work and obtain an honest
livelihood, and some of them desire to come here and marry cattle kings.
A recent letter from Michigan, written in lead pencil, and evidently
during hours when the writer should have been learning her geography
lesson, is very enthusiastic over the prospect of coming out here where
one girl can have a lover for every day in the week. She signs herself
Rosalinde, with a small r, and adds in a postscript that she "means
Yes, Rosalinde, that's what we are afraid of. We had a kind of a vague
fear that you meant business, so we did not reply to your letter. Wyoming
already has women enough who write with a lead pencil. We are also pretty
well provided with poor spellers, and we do not desire to ransack Michigan
for affectionate but sap-headed girls.
Stay in Michigan, Rosalinde, until we write to you, and one of these days
when you have been a mother eight or nine times, and as you stand in the
golden haze in the back yard, hanging out damp shirts on an uncertain
line, while your ripe and dewy mouth is stretched around a bass-wood
clothes pin, you will thank us for this advice.
Michigan is the place for you. It is the home of the Sweet Singer and the
abiding place of the Detroit _Free Press_. We can't throw any such
influences around you here as those you have at your own door.
Do not despair, Rosalinde. Some day a man, with a great, warm, manly heart
and a pair of red steers, will see you and love you, and he will take you
in his strong arms and protect you from the Michigan climate, just as
devotedly as any of our people here can. We do not wish to be
misunderstood in this matter. It is not as a lover that we have said so
much on the girl question, but in the domestic aid department, and when we
get a long letter from a young girl who eats slate pencils and reads Ouida
behind her atlas, we feel like going over there to Michigan with a trunk
strap and doing a little missionary work.
The Church Debt.
I have been thinking the matter over seriously and I have decided that if
I had my life to live over again, I would like to be an eccentric
I have eccentricity enough, but I cannot successfully push it without more
I have a great many plans which I would like to carry out, in case I could
unite the two necessary elements for the production of the successful
Among other things, I would be willing to bind myself and give proper
security to any one who would put in money to offset my eccentricity, that
I would ultimately die. We all know how seldom the eccentric millionaire
now dies. I would be willing to inaugurate a reform in that direction.
I think now that I would endow a home for men whose wives are no longer
able to support them. In many cases the wife who was at first able to
support her husband comfortably, finally shoulders a church debt, and in
trying to lift that she overworks and impairs her health so that she
becomes an invalid, while hor husband is left to pine away in solitude or
dependent on the cold charities of the world.
My heart goes out toward those men even now, and in case I should fill the
grave of the eccentric millionaire, I am sure that I would do the square
thing by them.
The method by which our wives in America are knocking the church debt
silly, by working up their husbands' groceries into "angel food" and
selling them below actual cost, is deserving of the attention of our
The church debt itself is deserving of notice in this country. It
certainly thrives better under a republican form of government than any
other feature of our boasted civilization. Western towns spring up
everywhere, and the first anxiety is to name the place, the second to
incur a church debt and establish a roller rink.
After that a general activity in trade is assured. Of course the general
hostility of church and rink will prevent _ennui_ and listlessness, and
the church debt will encourage a business boom. Naturally the church debt
cannot be paid without what is generally known through the West as the
"festival and hooraw." This festival is an open market where the ladies
trade the groceries of their husbands to other ladies' husbands, and
everybody has a "perfectly lovely time." The church clears $2.30, and
thirteen ladies are sick all the next day.
This makes a boom for the physicians and later on for the undertaker and
general tombist. So it will be seen that the Western town is right in
establishing a church debt as soon as the survey is made and the town
properly named. After the first church debt has been properly started,
others will rapidly follow, so that no anxiety need be felt if the church
will come forward the first year and buy more than it can pay for.
[Illustration: PUGILISM IN RELIGION.]
The church debt is a comparatively modern appliance, and yet it has been
productive of many peculiar features. For instance, we call to mind the
clergyman who makes a specialty of going from place to place as a
successful debt demolisher. He is a part of the general system, just as
much as the ice cream freezer or the buttonhole bouquet.
Then there is a row or social knock-down-and-drag-out which goes along
with the church debt. All these things add to the general interest, and to
acquire interest in one way or another is the mission of the c.d.
I once knew a most exemplary woman who became greatly interested in the
wiping out of a church debt, and who did finally succeed in wiping out the
debt, but in its last expiring death struggle it gave her a wipe from
which she never recovered. She had succeeded in begging the milk and the
cream, and the eggs and the sandwiches, and the use of the dishes and the
sugar, and the loan of an oyster, and the use of a freezer and fifty
button-hole bouquets to be sold to men who were not in the habit of wearing
bouquets, but she could not borrow a circular artist to revolve the crank
of the freezer, so she agitated it herself. Her husband had to go away
prior to the festivities, but he ordered her not to crank the freezer. He
had very little influence with her, however, and so to-day he is a
widower. The church debt was revived in the following year, and now there
isn't a more thriving church debt anywhere in the country. Only last week
that church traded off $75 worth of groceries, in the form of asbestos
cake and celluloid angel food, in such a way that if the original cost of
the groceries and the work were not considered, the clear profit was $13,
after the hall rent was paid. And why should the first cost of the
groceries be reckoned, when we stop to think that they were involuntarily
furnished by the depraved husband and father.
I must add, also, that in the above estimate doctors' bills and funeral
expenses are not reckoned.
A Collection of Keys.
I'm getting to be quite a connoisseur of hotel keys as I get older. For
ten years I have been collecting these mementoes of travel and cording
them away in my key cabinet. Some have square brass tags attached to them,
others have round ones. Still others affect the octagonal, the fluted, the
hexagonal, the scalloped, the plain, the polished, the docorated, the
chaste, the Etruscan, the metropolitan, the rural, the cosmopolitan, the
shirred, the tucked, the biased, the high neck and long sleeve or the
_decolette_ style of brass check.
I have, so far, paid my bills, but I have not returned the keys to my
room. Hotel proprietors will please take notice and govern themselves
accordingly. When my visit to a pleasant city has become a beautiful
memory only, I all at once sit down on something hard and find that it is
the key to my former room at the hotel. Sitting down on a key tag of
corrugated brass, as big as a buckwheat pancake, would remind most anyone
of something or other.
I generally leave my tooth-brush in my room and carry off the key as a
kind of involuntary swap, so far as the hotel proprietor is concerned, but
I do not think it is a mutual benefit, particularly. I cannot use the key
to a hotel 500 miles away, and so far as a tooth-brush is concerned, it
generally has pleasant associations only for the owner. A man is fond of
his own toothbrush, but it takes years for him to love the tooth-brush of
There are a good many associations attached to these keys, like the tags.
They point backward to the rooms to which the keys belong. Here is a fat
one that led to room number 33-1/2 in the Synagogue hotel. It was a
cheerful room, where the bell boy said an old man had asphyxiated himself
with gas the previous week. I had never met the old man before, but that
night, about 1 o'clock A.M., I had the pleasure of his acquaintance. He
came in a sad and reproachful way, and showed me how the post-mortem
people had disfigured him. Of course it was a little tough to be mutilated
by an inquest, but that's no reason why he should come back there and
occupy a room that I was paying for so that I could be alone. He showed me
how he blew out the gas, and told me how a man could successfully blow
down the muzzle of a shot-gun or a gas jet, but both of these weapons had
a way of blowing back.
I have a key that brings back to me the memory of a room that I lived in
two days at one time. I do not mean that I lived the two days at once, but
that at one period I occupied that room, partially, for two days and two
nights, I say I partially occupied it, because I used to occupy it days
and share it nights with others; that is, I tried to occupy it nights. I
tried to get the clerk to throw off something because I didn't have the
exclusive use of the room. He wouldn't throw off anything. He even wanted
to fight me because I said that the room was occupied before I got it and
after I left it. Finally, I told him that if he would throw a bed quilt
over his diamond, so I could see him, I would fight him with buckwheat
cakes at five-hundred miles. I took my position the next morning at the
place appointed, but he did not appear.
Extracts from a Queen's Diary.
January 1.--I awoke late this forenoon with a pain through the head and a
taste of ennui in the mouth, which I can hardly account for. Can it be a
result of the party last evening? I ween it may be so. We had a lovely
card party last evening. It was very enjoyable, indeed. Whist was the
January 3.--Yesterday all day I was unable to leave my room, owing to a
headache and nervous prostration, caused by late hours and too much
company, the doctor said. It is too bad, and yet I do so much enjoy our
card parties and the excitement of the game. To-night I am to take part in
a little quiet game of draw poker, I think they call it. I have not had
any experience heretofore in the game, but trust I shall soon learn it.
There has been some talk about L1 ante and L5 limit. I do not exactly
understand the terms. I hope it does not mean anything wrong.
January 4.--Poker is an odd game, indeed. I think it quite exciting,
though at first the odd terms rather confused me. I had not been
accustomed to such phrases as "show down," "bob-tail flush," and "King
full." I must ask Brown, as soon as his knees are able to be out, to
explain the meaning of these terms a little more fully to me. If poor
Brown's knees are not better soon, I shall be on kneesy about him. [Here
the diary has the appearance of being blurred with tears.] A bob-tail
flush, I learn, is something very disagreeable to have. One gentleman said
last evening that another bob-tail flush would certainly paralyze him. I
gather from that that it is something like a hectic flush. I can
understand the game called "old sledge," and have become quite familiar
with such terms as "beg," "gimmeone," "I've got the thin one," "how high
is that?" "one horse on me," "saw-off," etc., etc., but poker is full of
surprises. It seems so odd to see a gentleman "show out on a pair of
deuces" and gather in upward of two pounds with great merriment, while the
remainder of the party seem quite bored. One gentleman last evening showed
out on a full hand with "treys at the head," putting L3 12s. in his purse
with great glee, while another one of the party who had not shown up, but
I am positive had a better hand, became so angered that he got up and
kicked four front teeth out of the mouth of a favorite dog worth L20. I
took part in a spade flush during the evening and was quite successful, so
that I can easily pay my traveling expenses and have a few shillings to
buy ointment for poor Brown. It was my first winning, and made me quiver
all over with excitement. The game is already very fascinating to me, and
I am becoming passionately fond of it.
January 6.--I have just learned fully what a bob-tail flush is. It cost me
L50. I like information, but I do not like to buy it when it comes so
high. I drew two to fill in a heart flush last evening, and advanced the
money to back up my judgment; but one of the hearts I drew was a club,
which was entirely useless to me. I have sent out a sheriff with a bulldog
to ascertain if he can find the whereabouts of the party who started this
poker game, I do not know when I have felt so bored. After that I was so
timid that I allowed a friend to walk off with L2 on a pair of deuces. I
said to him that I called that a deuced bore, and he laughed heartily.
I find that you should not be too ready to show by your countenance
whether you are bored or pleased in poker. Tour opponent will take
advantage of it and play accordingly. It cost me L8 10s. to acquire a
knowledge of this fact. If all the information I ever got had cost me as
much as this poker wisdom, I would not now have two pennies to jingle
together in my purse. Still, we have had a good time, take it all in all,
and I shall not soon forget the evenings we have spent here together
buying knowledge regardless of cost. I think I shall try to control my
wild thirst for information awhile, however, till I can get some more
[Here the diary breaks off abruptly, and on turning the book over we find
the royal signature at the foot of the last page, "The Queen of Spades."]
A Colorado burro has been shipped across the Atlantic and presented to the
Prince of Wales. It is a matter of profound national sorrow that this was
not the first American jackass presented to his Tallness, the Prince.
At Omaha last week a barrel of sauer kraut rolled out of a wagon and
struck O'Leary H. Oleson, who was trying to unload it, with such force as
to kill him instantly and to flatten him out like a kiln-dried codfish.
Still, after thousands of such instances on record, there are many
scientists who maintain that sauer kraut is conducive to longevity.
As an evidence of the healthfulness of mountain climate, the people of
Denver point to a man who came there in '77 without flesh enough to bait a
trap, and now he puts sleeves in an ordinary feather-bed and pulls it on
over his head for a shirt. People in poor health who wish to communicate
with the writer in relation to the facts above stated, are requested to
enclose two unlicked postage stamps to insure a reply.
At Ubet, M.T., during the cold snap in January, one of the most inhuman
outrages known in the annals of crime was perpetrated upon a young man who
went West in the fall, hoping to make his pile in time to return in May
and marry the New York heiress selected before he went.
While stopping at the hotel, two frolicsome young women hired the porter
to procure the young man's pantaloons at dead of night They then sewed up
the bottoms of the legs, threw the doctored garment back through the
transom and squealed "Fire!"
When he got into the hall he was vainly trying to stab one foot through
the limb of his pantaloons while he danced around on the other and joined
in the general cry of "Fire!" The hall seemed filled with people, who were
running this way and that, ostensibly seeking a mode of egress from the
flames, but in reality trying to dodge the mad efforts of the young man,
who was trying to insert himself in his obstinate pantaloons.
He did not tumble, as it were, until the night watchman got a Babcock fire
extinguisher and played on him. I do not know what he played on him. Very
likely it was, "Sister, what are the wild waves saying?"
Anyway, he staggered into his room, and although he could hear the
audience outside in their wild, tumultuous encore, he refused to come
before the curtain, but locked his door and sobbed himself to sleep,
How often do we forget the finer feelings of others and ignore their
sorrow while we revel in some great joy.
The world is full of literary people to-day, and they are divided into
three classes, viz: Those who have written for the press, those who are
writing for the press, and those who want to write for the press. Of the
first, there are those who tried it and found that they could make more in
half the time at something else, and so quit the field, and those who
failed to touch the great heart and pocketbook of the public, and
therefore subsided. Those who are writing for the press now, whether
putting together copy by the mile within the sound of the rumbling engine
and press, or scattered through the country writing more at their leisure,
find that they have to lay aside every weight and throw off all the
incumbrances of the mossy past.
One thing, however, still clings to the editor like a dab of paste on a
white vest or golden fleck of scrambled egg on a tawny moustache. One
relic of barbarism rears in gaunt form amid the clash and hurry and rush
of civilization, and in the dazzling light of science and smartness.
It is "we."
The budding editor of the rural civilizer for the first time peels his
coat and sharpens his pencil to begin the work of changing the great
current of public opinion. He is strong in his desire to knock error and
wrong galley west. He has buckled on his armor to paralyze monopoly and
purify the ballot He has hitched up his pantaloons with a noble resolve
and covered his table with virgin paper.
He is young, and he is a little egotistical, also. He wants to say, "I
believe" so and so, but he can't. Perspiration breaks out all over him. He
bites his pencil, and looks up with his clenched hand in his hair. The
slimy demon of the editor's life is there, sitting on the cloth bound
volume containing the report of the United States superintendent of swine
Wherever you find a young man unloading a Washington hand press to fill a
long-felt want, there you will find the ghastly and venomous "we," ready
to look over the shoulder of the timid young mental athlete. Wherever you
find a ring of printer's ink around the door knob, and the snowy towel on
which the foreman wipes the pink tips of his alabaster fingers, you will
find the slimy, scaly folds of "we" curled up in some neighboring corner.
From the huge metropolitan journal, whose subscribers could make or bust a
president, or make a blooming king wish he had never been born, down to
the obscure and unknown dodger whose first page is mostly electrotype
head, whose second and third pages are patent, whose news is eloquent of
the dear dead past, whose fourth page ushers in a new baby, or heralds the
coming of the circus, or promulgates the fact that its giant editor has a
felon on his thumb, the trail of the serpent "we" is over them all. It is
all we have to remind us of royalty in America, with the exception,
perhaps, of the case now and then where a king full busts a bob-tail
A Mountain Snowstorm.
September does not always indicate golden sunshine, and ripening corn, and
old gold pumpkin pies on the half-shell. We look upon it as the month of
glorious perfection in the handiwork of the seasons and the time when the
ripened fruits are falling; when the red sun hides behind the bronze and
misty evening, and says good night with reluctance to the beautiful
harvests and the approaching twilight of the year.
It was on a red letter day of this kind, years ago, that Wheeler and
myself started out under the charge of Judge Blair and Sheriff Baswell to
visit the mines at Last Chance, and more especially the Keystone, a gold
mine that the Judge had recently become president of. The soft air of
second summer in the Rocky Mountains blew gently past our ears as we rode
up the valley of the Little Laramie, to camp the first night at the head
of the valley behind Sheep Mountain. The whole party was full of joy. Even
Judge Blair, with the frosts of over sixty winters in his hair, broke
forth into song. That's the only thing I ever had against Judge Blair. He
would forget himself sometimes and burst forth into song.
The following day we crossed the divide and rode down the gulch into the
camp on Douglass Creek, where the musical thunder of the stamp mills
seemed to jar the ground, and the rapid stream below bore away on its
turbid bosom the yellowish tinge of the golden quartz. It was a perfect
day, and Wheeler and I blessed our stars and, instead of breathing the air
of sour paste and hot presses in the newspaper offices, away in the
valley, we were sprawling in the glorious sunshine of the hills, playing
draw poker with the miners in the evening, and forgetful of the daily
newspaper where one man does the work and the other draws the salary. It
was heaven. It was such luxury that we wanted to swing our hats and yell
The next morning we were surprised to find that it had snowed all night
and was snowing still. I never saw such flakes of snow in my life. They
came sauntering through the air like pure, white Turkish towels falling
from celestial clothes-lines. We did not return that day. We played a few
games of chance, but they were brief. We finally made it five cent ante,
and, as I was working then for an alleged newspaper man who paid me $50
per month to edit his paper nights and take care of his children daytimes,
I couldn't keep abreast of the Judge, the Sheriff and the Superintendent
of the Keystone.
The next day we had to go home. The snow lay ankle-deep everywhere and the
air was chilly and raw. Wheeler and I tried to ride, but the mountain road
was so rough that the horses could barely move through the snow, dragging
the buggy after them. So we got out and walked on ahead to keep warm. We
gained very fast on the team, for we were both long-legged and measured
off the miles like a hired man going to dinner. I wore a pair of
glove-fitting low shoes and lisle-thread socks. I can remember that yet. I
would advise anyone going into the mines not to wear lisle-thread socks
and low shoes. You are liable to stick your foot into a snow-bank or a mud
hole and dip up too much water. I remember that after we had walked
through the pine woods down the mountain road a few miles, I noticed that
the bottoms of my pantaloons looked like those of a drowned tramp I saw
many years ago in the morgue. We gave out after a while, waited for the
team, but decided that it had gone the other road. All at once it flashed
over us that we were alone in the woods and the storm, wet, nearly
starved, ignorant of the road and utterly worn out!
[Illustration: IT WAS TOUGH.]
It was tough!
I never felt so blue, so wet, so hungry, or so hopeless in my life. We
moved on a little farther. All at once we came out of the timber. There
was no snow whatever! At that moment the sun burst forth, we struck a
deserted supply wagon, found a two-pound can of Boston baked beans, got an
axe from the load, chopped open the can, and had just finished the
tropical fruit of Massachusetts when our own team drove up, and joy and
hope made their homes once more in our hearts.
We may learn from this a valuable lesson, but at this moment I do not know
exactly what it is.
Most anyone could collect and tell a good many incidents about lost money
that has been found, if he would try, but these cases came under my own
observation and I can vouch for their truth.
A farmer in the Kinnekinnick Valley was paid $1,000 while he was loading
hay. He put it in his vest pocket, and after he had unloaded the hay he
discovered that he had lost it, and no doubt had pitched the whole load
into the mow on top of it. He went to work and pitched it all out, a
handful at a time, upon the barn floor, and when the hired man's fork tine
came up with a $100 bill on it he knew they had struck a lead. He got it
A man gave me two $5 bills once to pay a balance on some store teeth and
asked me to bring the teeth back with me. The dentist was fifteen miles
away and when I got there I found I had lost the money. That was before I
had amassed much of a fortune, so I went to the tooth foundry and told the
foreman that I had started with $10 to get a set of teeth for an intimate
friend, but had lost the funds. He said that my intimate friend would, no
doubt, have to gum it awhile. Owing to the recent shrinkage in values he
was obliged to sell teeth for cash, as the goods were comparatively
useless after they had been used one season. I went back over the same
road the next day and found the money by the side of the road, although a
hundred teams had passed by it.
A young man, one spring, plowed a pocket-book and $30 in greenbacks under,
and by a singular coincidence the next spring it was plowed out, and,
though rotten clear through, was sent to the Treasury, where it was
discovered that the bills were on a Michigan National Bank, whither they
were sent and redeemed.
I lost a roll of a hundred dollars the spring of '82, and hunted my house
and the office through, in search for it, in vain. I went over the road
between the office and the house twenty times, but it was useless. I then
advertised the loss of the money, giving the different denominations of
the bills and stating, as was the case, that there was an elastic band
around the roll when lost. The paper had not been issued more than an hour
before I got my money, every dollar of it. It was in the pocket of my
This should teach us, first, the value of advertising, and, secondly, the
utter folly of two vests at the same time.
Apropos of recent bank failures, I want to tell this one on James S.
Kelley, commonly called "Black Jim." He failed himself along in the
fifties, and by a big struggle had made out to pay everybody but Lo
Bartlett, to whom he was indebted in the sum of $18. He got this money,
finally, and as Lo wasn't in town, Black Jim put it in a bank, the name of
which has long ago sunk into oblivion. In fact, it began the oblivion
business about forty-eight hours after Jim had put his funds in there.
Meeting Lo on the street, Jim said:
"Your money is up in the Wild Oat Bank, Lo. I'll give you a check for it."
"No use, old man, she's gone up."
"Yes, she's a total wreck."
Jim went over to the president's room. He knocked as easy as he could,
considering that his breath was coming so hard.
"It's Jim Kelley, Black Jim, and I'm in something of a hurry."
"Well, I'm very busy, Mr. Kelley. Come again this afternoon."
"That will be too remote. I am very busy myself. Now is the accepted time.
Will you open the door or shall I open it."
The president opened it because it was a good door and he wanted to
Black Jim turned the key in the door and sat down.
"What did you want of me?" says the president
"I wanted to see you about a certificate of deposit I've got here on your
bank for eighteen dollars."
"We can't pay it. Everything is gone."
"Well, I am here to get $18 or to leave you looking like a giblet pie.
Eighteen dollars will relieve you of this mental strain, but if you do not
put up I will paper this wall with your classic features and ruin the
carpet with what remains."
The president hesitated a moment. Then he took a roll out of his boot and
paid Jim eighteen dollars.
"You will not mention this on the street, of course," said the president.
"No," says Jim, "not till I get there."
When the crowd got back, however, the president had fled and he has
remained fled ever since. The longer he remained away and thought it over,
the more he became attached to Canada, and the more of a confirmed and
incurable fugitive he became.
I saw Black Jim last evening and he said he had passed through two bank
failures, but had always realized on his certificates of deposit. One
cashier told Jim that he was the homeliest man that ever looked through
the window of a busted bank. He said Kelley looked like a man who ate bank
cashiers on toast and directors raw with a slice of lemon on top.
Dr. Dizart's Dog.
A man whose mother-in-law had been successfully treated by the doctor, one
day presented him with a beautiful Italian hound named Nemesis.
When I say that the able physician had treated the mother-in-law
successfully, I mean successfully from her son-in-law's standpoint, and
not from her own, for the doctor insisted on treating her for small-pox
when she had nothing but an attack of agnostics. She is now sitting on the
front stoop of the golden whence.
So, after the last sad rites, the broken-hearted son-in-law presented the
physician with a handsome hound with long, slender legs and a wire tail,
as a token of esteem and regard.
The dog was young and playful, as all young dogs are, so he did many
little tricks which amused almost everyone.
One day, while the doctor was away administering a subcutaneous injection
of morphine to a hay-fever patient, he left Nemesis in the office alone
with a piece of rag-carpet and his surging thoughts.
At first Nemesis closed his eyes and breathed hard, then he arose and ate
part of an ottoman, then he got up and scratched the paper off the office
wall and whined in a sad tone of voice.
A young Italian hound has a peculiarly sad and depressing song.
Then Nemesis got up on the desk and poured the ink and mucilage into one
of the drawers on some bandages and condition-powders that the doctor used
in his horse-practice.
Nemesis then looked out of the window and wailed. He filled the room with
robust wail and unavailing regret.
After that he tried to dispel his _ennui_ with one of the doctor's old
felt hats that hung on a chair; but the hair oil with which it was
saturated changed his mind.
The doctor had magenta hair, and to tone it down so that it would not
raise the rate of fire insurance on his office, he used to execute some
studies on it in oil--bear's oil.
This gave his hair a rich mahogany shade, and his hat smelled and looked
like an oil refinery.
That is the reason Nemesis spared the hat, and ate a couple of
porousplasters that his master was going to use on a case of croup.
At that time the doctor came in, and the dog ran to him with a glad cry of
pleasure, rubbing his cold nose against his master's hand. The able
veterinarian spoke roughly to Nemesis, and throwing a cigar-stub at him,
broke two of the animal's delicate legs.
[Illustration: BUSTLE AND CONFUSION.]
After that there was a low discordant murmur and the angry hum of medical
works, lung-testers, glass jars containing tumors and other bric-a-brac,
paper-weights and Italian grayhound bisecting the orbit of a redheaded
horse-physician with dude shoes.
When the police came in, it was found that Nemesis had jumped through a
glass door and escaped on two legs and his ear.
Out through the autumnal haze, across the intervening plateau, over the
low foot-hills, and up the Medicine Bow Range, on and ever onward sped the
timid, grieved and broken-hearted pup, accumulating with wonderful
eagerness the intervening distance between himself and the cruel promoter
of the fly-blister and lingering death.
How often do we thoughtlessly grieve the hearts of those who love us, and
drive forth into the pitiless world those who would gladly lick our hands
with their warm loving tongues, or warm their cold noses in the meshes of
How prone we are to forget the devotion of a dumb brute that thoughtlessly
eats our lace lambrequins, and ere we have stopped to consider our mad
course, we have driven the loving heart and the warm wet tongue and the
cold little black nose out of our home-life, perhaps into the cold, cold
grave or the bleak and relentless pound.
They do things differently in China. Here in America, when a man burgles
your residence, you go and confide in a detective, who keeps your secret
and gets another detective to help him. Generally that is the last of it.
In China, not long ago, the house of a missionary was entered and
valuables taken by the thieves. The missionary went to the authorities
with his tale and told them whom he suspected. That's the last he heard of
that for three weeks. Then he received a covered champagne basket from the
Department of Justice. On opening it he found the heads of the suspected
burglars packed in tinfoil and in a good state of preservation. These
heads were not sent necessarily for publication, but as an evidence of
good faith on the part of the Department of Unimpeded Justice. Mind you,
there was no postponement of the preliminary examination, no dilatory
motions and changes of venue, no pleas to the jurisdiction of the court,
no legal delays and final challenges of jurors until an idiotic jury had
been procured who hadn't read the papers, no ruling out of damaging
testimony, and finally filing of bill of exceptions, no appeal and delay,
or appeal afterward to another court which returned the defendant to the
court of original jurisdiction for review, and years of waiting for the
prosecuting witnesses to die of old age and thus release the defendant.
There is nothing of that kind in China. You just hand in your orders to
the judicial end of the administration, and then you retire. Later on, the
delivery man brings in your package of heads, makes a salaam, and goes
Now, this is swift and speedy justice for you. I don't know how the guilt
of the defendants is arrived at, but there's nothing tedious about it. At
least, there's nothing tedious to the complainant I presume they make it
red-hot for the criminal.
Still this style of justice has its drawbacks. For instance, you are at
dinner. You have a large and select company dining with you. You are about
to carve the roast There is a ring at the door. The servant announces that
a judicial officer is at the drawbridge and desires to speak with you. You
pull your napkin out of your bosom, lay the carving knife down on the
virgin table cloth, and go to the door. There the minister of justice
presents you with a champagne basket and retires. You return to the dining
hall, leaving your basket on the sideboard. After a while you announce to
your guests that you have just received a basket of Mumm's extra dry with
the compliments of the government, and that you will, with the permission
of those present, open a bottle. You arm yourself with a corkscrew, open
the basket, and thoughtlessly tip it over, when two or three human heads,
with a pained and grieved expression on the face, roll out on the table.
When you are looking for a quart bottle of sparkling wine and find instead
the cold, sad features and reproachful stare of the extremely deceased and
_hic jacet_ Chinaman, you naturally betray your chagrin. I like to see
justice moderately swift, and, in fact I've seen it pretty forthwith in
its movements two or three times; but I cannot say that I would be
prepared for this style.
Perhaps I'm getting a little nervous in my old age, and a small matter
jars my equilibrium; but I'm sure a basket of heads handed in as I was
seated at the table would startle me a little at first, and I might forget
A friend of mine, under such circumstances, made what the English would
call "a doosed clevah" remark once in Shanghai. When he opened the basket
he was horrified, but he was cool. He was old sang froid from
Sangfroidville. He first took the basket and started for the back room,
with the remark: "My friends, I guess you will have to ex-queuese me."
Then he pulled down his eyelids and laughed a hoarse English laugh.
Answers to Correspondents.
Caller--Your calling cards should be modest as to size and neatly
engraved, with an extra flourish.
In calling, there are two important things to be considered: First, when
to call, and, second, when to rise and hang on the door handle.
Some make one-third of the call before rising, and then complete the call
while airing the house and holding the door open, while others consider
this low and vulgar, making at least one-fourth of the call in the hall,
and one-half between the front door and the gate. Different authorities
differ as to the proper time for calling. Some think you should not call
before 3 or after 5 P.M., but if you have had any experience and had
ordinary sense to start with, you will know when to call as soon as you
look at your hand.
Amateur Prize Fighter.--The boxing glove is a large upholstered buckskin
mitten, with an abnormal thumb and a string by which it is attached to the
wrist, so that when you feed it to an adversary he cannot swallow it and
choke himself. There are two kinds of gloves, viz., hard gloves and soft
I once fought with soft gloves to a finish with a young man who was far my
inferior intellectually, but he exceeded me in brute force and knowledge
of the use of the gloves. He was not so tall, but he was wider than
myself. Longitudinally he was my inferior, but latitudinally he
outstripped me. We did not fight a regular prize-fight. It was just done
for pleasure. But I do not think we should abandon ourselves entirely to
pleasure. It is enervating, and makes one eye swell up and turn blue.
I still think that a young man ought to have a knowledge of the manly art
of self-defense, and if I could acquire such a knowledge without getting
into a fight about it I would surely learn how to defend myself.
The boxing glove is worn on the hand of one party, and on the gory nose of
the other party as the game progresses. Soft gloves very rarely kill
anyone, unless they work down into the bronchial tubes and shut off the
[Illustration: "HE EXCEEDED ME IN BRUTE FORCE."]
Lecturer, New York City.--You need not worry so much about your costume
until you have written your lecture, and it would be a good idea to test
the public a little, if possible, before you do much expensive printing.
Your idea seems to be that a man should get a fine lithograph of himself
and a $100 suit of clothes, and then write his lecture to fit the
lithograph and the clothes. That is erroneous.
You say that you have written a part of your lecture, but do not feel
satisfied with it. In this you will no doubt find many people will agree
You could wear a full dress suit of black with propriety, or a Prince
Albert coat, with your hand thrust into the bosom of it. I once lectured
on the subject of phrenology in the southern portion of Utah, being at
that time temporarily busted, but still hoping to tide over the dull times
by delivering a lecture on the subject of "Brains, and how to detect their
presence." I was not supplied with a phrenological bust at that time, and
as such a thing is almost indispensable, I borrowed a young man from
Provost and induced him to act as bust for the evening. He did so with
thrilling effect, taking the entire gross receipts of the lecture course
from my coat pocket while I was illustrating the effect of alcoholic
stimulants on the raw brain of an adult in a state of health.
[Illustration: MAKING REPAIRS.]
You can remove spots of egg from your full dress suit with ammonia and
water, applied by means of a common nail brush. You do not ask for this
recipe, but, judging from your style, I hope that it may be of use to you.
Martin F. Tupper, Texas.--The poem to which you allude was written by
Julia A. Moore, better known as the Sweet Singer of Michigan. The last
stanza was something like this:
"My childhood days are past and gone,
And it fills my heart with pain,
To think that youth will nevermore
Return to me again.
And now, kind friends, what I have wrote,
I hope you will pass o'er
And not criticise as some has hitherto here--
Miss Moore also wrote a volume of poems which the farmers of Michigan are
still using on their potato bugs. She wrote a large number of poems, all
more or less saturated with grief and damaged syntax. She is now said to
be a fugitive from justice. We should learn from this that we cannot evade
the responsibility of our acts, and those who write obituary poetry will
one day be overtaken by a bob-tail sleuth hound or a Siberian nemesis with
two rows of teeth.
Alonzo G., Smithville.--Yes, you can learn three card monte without a
master. It is very easy. The book will cost you twenty-five cents and then
you can practice on various people. The book is a very small item, you
will find, after you have been practicing awhile. Three card monte and
justifiable homicide go hand in hand. 2. You can turn a jack from the
bottom of the pack in the old sledge, if you live in some States, but west
of the Missouri the air is so light that men who have tried it have
frequently waked up on the shore of eternity with a half turned jack in
their hand, and a hole in the cerebellum the size of an English walnut.
You can get "Poker and Three Card Monte without a Master" for sixty cents,
with a coroner's verdict thrown in. If you contemplate a career as a monte
man, you should wear a pair of low, loose shoes that you can kick off
easily, unless you want to die with your boots on.
Henry Ubet, Montana.--No, you are mistaken in your assumption that
Socrates was the author of the maxim to which you allude. It is of more
modern origin, and, in fact, the sentence of which you speak, viz: "What a
combination of conflicting and paradoxical assertions is life? Of what use
are logic and argument when we find the true inwardness of the bologna
sausage on the outside?" were written by a philosopher who is still
living. I am willing to give Socrates credit for what he has said and
done, but when I think of a sentiment that is worthy to be graven on a
monolith and passed on down to prosperity, I do not want to have it
attributed to such men as Socrates.
Leonora Vivian Gobb, Oleson's Forks, Ariz.--Yes. You can turn the front
breadths, let out the tucks in the side plaiting and baste on a new dagoon
where you caught the oyster stew in your lap at the party. You could also
get trusted for a new dress, perhaps. But that is a matter of taste. Some
dealers are wearing their open accounts long this winter and some are not.
Do as you think best about cleaning the dress. Benzine will sometimes
eradicate an oyster stew from dress goods. It will also eradicate everyone
in the room at the same time. I have known a pair of rejuvenated kid
gloves to break up a funeral that started out with every prospect of
success. Benzine is an economical thing to use, but socially it is not up
to the standard. Another idea has occurred to me, however. Why not riprap
the skirt, calk the solvages, readjust the box plaits, cat stitch the
crown sheet, file down the gores, sandpaper the gaiters and discharge the
dolman. You could then wear the garment anywhere in the evening, and half
the people wouldn't know anything had happened to it.
James, Owatonna, Minn.--You can easily teach yourself to play on the tuba.
You know what Shakespeare says: "Tuba or not tuba? That's the question."
How true this is? It touches every heart. It is as good a soliliquy as I
ever read. P.S.--Please do not swallow the tuba while practicing and
choke yourself to death. It would be a shame for you to swallow a nice new
tuba and cast a gloom over it so that no one else would ever want to play
on it again.
Florence.--You can stimulate your hair by using castor oil three ounces,
brandy one ounce. Put the oil on the sewing machine, and absorb the brandy
between meals. The brandy will no doubt fly right to your head and either
greatly assist your hair or it will reconcile you to your lot. The great
attraction about brandy as a hair tonic is, that it should not build up
the thing. If you wish, you may drink the brandy and then breathe hard on
the scalp. This will be difficult at first but after awhile it will not
Great Sacrifice of Bric-a-brac.
Parties desiring to buy a job-lot of garden tools, will do well to call
and examine my stock. These implements have been but slightly used, and
are comparatively as good as new. The lot consists in part of the
One three-cornered hoe, Gothic in its architecture and in good running
order. It is the same one I erroneously hoed up the carnation with, and
may be found, I think, behind the barn, where I threw it when I discovered
my error. Original cost of hoe, six bits. Will be closed out now at two
bits to make room for new goods.
Also one garden rake, almost as good as new. One front tooth needs
filling, and then it will be as good as ever. I sell this weapon, not so
much to get rid of it, but because I do not want it any more. I shall not
garden any next spring. I do not need to. I began it to benefit my health,
and my health is now so healthy that I shall not require the open-air
exercise incident to gardening any more. In fact, I am too robust, if
anything. I will, therefore, acting upon the advice of my royal physician,
close this rake out, since the failure of the Northwestern Car Company, at
50 cents on the dollar.
Also one lawn-mower, only used once. At that time I cut down what grass I
had on my lawn, and three varieties of high-priced rose bushes. It is one
of the most hardy open-air lawn-mowers now made. It will outlive any other
lawn-mower, and be firm and unmoved when all the shrubbery has gone to
decay. You can also mow your peony bed with it, if you desire. I tried it.
This is also an easy running lawn-mower, I would recommend it to any man
who would like to soak his lawn with perspiration. I mowed my lawn, and
then pushed a street-car around in the afternoon to relax my over-strained
muscles. I will sacrifice this lawn-mower at three-quarters of its
original cost, owing to depression in the stock of the New Jerusalem gold
mine, of which I am a large owner and cashier-at-large.
Will also sell a bright new spade, only used two hours spading for
angle-worms. This is a good, early-blooming and very hardy angle-worm
spade, built in the Doric style of architecture. Persons desiring a spade
flush, and lacking one spade to "fill," will do well to give me a call. No
trouble to show the goods.
I will also part with a small chest of carpenter's tools, only slightly
used. I had intended to do a good deal of amateur carpenter work this
summer, but, as the presidential convention occurs in June, and I shall
have to attend to that, and as I have already sawed up a Queen Anne chair,
and thoughtlessly sawed into my leg, I shall probably sacrifice the tools.
These tools are all well made, and I do not sell them to make money on
them, but because I have no use for them. I feel as though these tools
would be safer in the hands of a carpenter. I'm no carpenter. My wife
admitted that when I sawed a board across the piano-stool and sawed the
what-do-you-call-it all out of the cushion.
[Illustration: OPEN-AIR EXERCISE.]
Anyone desiring to monkey with the carpenter's trade, will do well to
consult my catalogue and price-list. I will throw in a white holly
corner-bracket, put together with fence nails, and a rustic settee that
looks like the Cincinnati riot. Young men who do not know much, and
invalids whose minds have become affected, are cordially invited to call
and examine goods. For a cash trade I will also throw in arnica,
court-plaster and salve enough to run the tools two weeks, if ordinary
care be taken.
If properly approached, I might also be wheedled into sacrificing an
easy-running domestic wheelbarrow. I have domesticated it myself and
taught it a great many tricks.
The officers and members of the Home for Disabled Butter and Hoary-headed
Hotel Hash met at their mosque last Saturday evening, and, after the roll
call, reading of the moments of the preceding meeting by the Secretary,
singing of the ode and examination of all present to ascertain if they
were in possession of the quarterly password, explanation and signs of
distress, the Most Esteemed Toolymuckahi, having reached the order of
communications and new business and good of the order, stated that the
society was now ready to take action, or, at least, to discuss the
feasibility of holding a series of entertainments at the rink. These
entertainments had been proposed as a means of propping up the tottering
finances of the society, and procuring much-needed funds for the purpose
of purchasing new regalia for the Most Esteemed Duke of the Dishrag and
the Most Esteemed Hired Man, each of whom had been wearing the same red
calico collar and cheese-cloth sash since the organization of the society.
Funds were also necessary to pay for a brother who had walked through a
railroad trestle into the shoreless sea of eternity, and whose widow had a
policy of $135.25 against this society on the life of her husband.
Various suggestions were made; among them was the idea advanced by the
Most Highly Esteemed Inside Door-Slammer that, as the society's object
was, of course, to obtain funds, would it not be well to consider, in the
first place, whether it would not be as well for the Most Esteemed
Toolymuckahi to appoint six brethren in good standing to arm themselves
with great care, gird up their loins and muzzle the pay-car as it started
out on its mission. He simply offered this as a suggestion, and, as it was
a direct method of securing the coin necessary, he would move that such a
committee be appointed by the Chair to wait on the pay-car and draw on it
The Most Esteemed Keeper of the Cork-screw seconded the motion, in order,
as he said, to get it before the house. This brought forward very hot
discussion, pending which the presiding officer could see very plainly
that the motion was unpopular.
A visiting brother from Yellowstone Park Creamery No. 17, stated that in
their society "an entertainment of this kind had been given for the
purpose of pouring a flood of wealth into the coffers of the society, and
it had been fairly successful. Among the attractions there had been
nothing of an immoral or lawless nature whatever. In the first place, a
kind of farewell oyster gorge had been given, with cove oysters as a
basis, and $2 a couple as an after-thought. A can of cove oysters
entertained thirty people and made $30 for the society. Besides, it was
found after the party had broken up that, owing to the adhesive properties
of the oysters, they were not eaten; but the juice, as it were, had been
scooped up and the puckered and corrugated gizzards of the sea had been
preserved. Acting upon this suggestion, the society had an oyster patty
debauch the following evening at $2 a couple. Forty suckers came and put
their means into the common fund. We didn't have enough oysters to quite
go around, so some of us cut a dozen out of an old boot leg, and the
entertainment was a great success. We also had other little devices for
making money, which worked admirably and yielded much profit to the
society. Those present also said that they had never enjoyed themselves so
much before. Many little games were played, which produced great merriment
and considerable coin. I could name a dozen devices for your society, if
desired, by which money could be made for your treasury, without the risk
or odium necessarily resulting from robbing the pay-car or a bank, and yet
the profit will be nearly as great in proportion to the work done."
Here the gavel of the Most Esteemed Toolymuckahi fell with a sickening
thud, and the visiting brother was told that the time assigned to
communications, new business and good of the order had expired, but that
the discussion would be taken up at the next session, in one week, at
which time it was the purpose of the chair to hear and note all
suggestions relative to an entertainment to be given at a future date by
the society for the purpose of obtaining the evanescent scad and for the
successful flash of the reluctant boodle.
Personal.--Will the young woman who used to cook in our family, and who
went away ten pounds of sugar and five and a half pounds of tea ahead of
the game, please come back, and all will be forgiven.
If she cannot return, will she please write, stating her present address,
and also give her reasons for shutting up the cat in the refrigerator when
she went away?
If she will only return, we will try to forget the past, and think only of
the glorious present and the bright, bright future.
Come back, Sarah, and jerk the waffle-iron for us once more.
Your manners are peculiar, but we yearn for your doughnuts, and your style
of streaked cake suits us exactly.
You may keep the handkerchiefs and the collars, and we will not refer to
the dead past.
We have arranged it so that when you snore it will not disturb the night
police, and if you do not like our children we will send them away.
We realize that you do not like children very well, and our children
especially gave you much pain, because they were not so refined as you
We have often wished, for your sake, that we had never had any children;
but so long as they are in our family, the neighbors will rather expect us
to take care of them.
Still, if you insist upon it, we will send them away. We don't want to
seem overbearing with our servants.
We would be willing, also, to give you more time for mental relaxation
than you had before. The intellectual strain incident to the life of one
who makes gravy for a lost and undone world must be very great, and tired
nature must at last succumb. We do not want you to succumb. If anyone has
got to succumb, let us do it.
All we ask is that you will let us know when you are going away, and leave
the crackers and cheese where we can find them.
It was rather rough on us to have you go away when we had guests in the
house, but if you had not taken the key to the cooking department we could
have worried along.
You ought to let us have company at the house sometimes if we will let you
have company when you want to. Still, you know best, perhaps. You are
older than we are, and you have seen more of the world.
We miss your gentle admonitions and your stern reproofs sadly. Come back
and reprove us again. Come back and admonish us once more, at so much per
admonish and groceries.
[Illustration: "WE HOPE YOU WILL DO THE SAME BY US."]
We will agree to let you select the tender part of the steak, and such
fruit as seems to strike you favorably, just as we did before. We did not
like it when you were here, but that is because we were young and did not
know what the custom was.
If a life-time devoted to your welfare can obliterate the injustice we
have done you, we will be glad to yield it to you.
If you could suggest a good place for us to send the children, where they
would be well taken care of, and where they would not interfere with some
other cook who is a friend of yours, we would be glad to have you write
My wife says she hopes you will feel perfectly free to use the piano
whenever you are lonely or sad, and when you or the bread feel depressed
you will be welcome to come into the parlor and lean up against either one
of us and sob.
We all know that when you were with us before we were a little reserved in
our manner toward you, but if you come back it will be different.
We will introduce you to more of our friends this time, and we hope you
will do the same by us. Young people are apt to get above their business,
and we admit that we were wrong.
Come back and oversee our fritter bureau once more.
Take the portfolio of our interior department.
Try to forget our former coldness.
Return, oh, wanderer, return!
A New Play.
The following letter was written, recently, in reply to a dramatist who
proposed the matter of writing a play jointly.
Hudson, Wis., Nov. 13, 1886.
Scott Marble, Esq.--Dear Sir: I have just received your favor of
yesterday, in which you ask me to unite with you in the construction of a
This idea has been suggested to me before, but not in such a way as to
inaugurate the serious thought which your letter has stirred up in my
seething mass of mind.
I would like very much to unite with you in the erection of such a
dramatic structure that people would cheerfully come to this country from
Europe, and board with us for months in order to see this play every
You will surely agree with me that someone ought to write a play. Why it
has not been done long ago, I cannot understand. A well known comedian
told me a year ago that he hadn't been able to look into a paper for
sixteen months. He could not even read over the proof of his own press
notices and criticisms, to ascertain whether the printer had set them up
as he wrote them or not, simply because it took all his spare time off the
stage to examine the manuscripts of plays that had been submitted to him.
But I think we could arrange it so that we might together construct
something in that line which would at least attract the attention of our
Would you mind telling me, for instance, how you write a play? You have
been in the business before, and you could tell me, of course, some of the
salient points about it. Do you write it with a typewriter, or do you
dictate your thoughts to someone who does not resent being dictated to?
Do you write a play and then dramatize it, or do you write the drama and
then play on it? Would it not be a very good idea to secure a plot that
would cost very little, and then put the kibosh on it, or would you put up
the lines first, and then hang the plot or drama, or whatever it is, on
the lines? Is it absolutely necessary to have a prologue? If so, what is a
prologue? Is it like a catalogue?
I have a great many crude ideas, but you see I am not practical. One of my
crude ideas is to introduce into the play an artist's studio. This would
not cost much, for we could borrow the studio evenings and allow the
artist to use it daytimes. Then we would introduce into the studio scene
the artist's living model. Everybody would be horrified, but they would
go. They would walk over each other to attend the drama, and we would do
well. Our living model in the studio act would be made of common wax, and
if it worked well, we would discharge other members of the company and
substitute wax. Gradually we could get it down to where the company would
be wax, with the exception of a janitor with a feather duster. Think that
But seriously, a play, it seems to me, should embody an idea. Am I correct
in that theory or not? It ought to convey some great thought, some maxim
or aphorism, or some such a thing as that. How would it do to arrange a
play with the idea of impressing upon the audience that "the fool and his
money are soon parted?" Are you using a hero and a heroine in your plays
now? If so, would you mind writing their lines for them, while I arrange
the details and remarks for the young man who is discovered asleep on a
divan when the curtain rises, and who sleeps on through the play with his
mouth slightly ajar till the close--the close of the play, not the close
of his mouth--when it is discovered that he is dead. He then plays the
cold remains in the closing tableau, and fills a new-made grave at $9 per
I could also write the lines, I think, for the young man who comes in
wearing a light summer cane and a seersucker coat so tight that you can
count his vertebrae. I could write what he would say without great mental
strain, I think. I must avoid mental strain or my intellect might split
down the back and I would be a mental wreck, good for nothing but to strew
the shores of time with myself.
Various other crude ideas present themselves to my mind, but they need to
be clothed. You will say that this is unnecessary. I know you will at once
reply that, for the stage, the less you clothe an idea the more popular it
will be, but I could not consent to have even a bare thought of mine make
an appearance night after night before a cultivated audience.
What do you think of introducing a genuine case of small-pox on the stage?
You say in your letter that what the American people clamor for is
something "catchy." That would be catchy, and it would also introduce
I wish you would also tell me what kind of diet you confine yourself to
while writing a play, and how you go to work to procure it. Do you live on
a mixed diet, or on your relatives? Would you soak your head while writing
a play, or would you soak your overcoat? I desire to know all these
things, because, Mr. Marble, to tell you the truth, I am as ignorant about
this matter as the babe unborn. In fact, posterity would have to get up
early in the morning to know less about play-writing than I have succeeded
If we are to make a kind of comedy, my idea would be to introduce
something facetious in the middle of the comedy. No one will expect it,
you see, and it will tickle the audience almost to death.
A friend of mine suggests that it would be a great hit to introduce, or
rather to reproduce, the Hell Gate explosion. Many were not able to be
there at the time, and would willingly go a long distance to witness the
I wish that you would reply to this letter at an early date, telling me
what you think of the schemes suggested. Feel perfectly free to express
yourself fully. I am not too proud to receive your suggestions.
The Silver Dollar.
It would seem at this time, while so little is being said on the currency
question, and especially by the men who really control the currency, that
a word from me would not be out of place. Too much talking has been done
by those only who have a theoretical knowledge of money and its eccentric
habits. People with a mere smattering of knowledge regarding national
currency have been loquacious, while those who have made the matter a
study, have been kept in the background.
At this period in the history of our country, there seems to be a general
stringency, and many are in the stringency business who were never that
way before. Everything seems to be demonetized. The demonetization of
groceries is doing as much toward the general wiggly palsy of trade as
anything I know of.
But I may say, in alluding briefly to the silver dollar, that there are
worse calamities than the silver dollar. Other things may occur in our
lives, which, in the way of sadness and three-cornered gloom, make the
large, robust dollar look like an old-fashioned half-dime.
I met a man the other day, who, two years ago, was running a small paper
at Larrabie's Slough. He was then in his meridian as a journalist, and his
paper was frequently quoted by such widely-read publications as the
_Knight of Labor at Work_, a humorous semi-monthly journal. He boldly
assailed the silver dollar, and with his trenchant pen he wrote such
burning words of denunciation that the printer had to set them on ice
before he could use the copy.
Last week I met him on a Milwaukee & St. Paul train. He was very thin in
flesh, and the fire of defiance was no longer in his eye. I asked him how
he came on with the paper at Larrabie's Slough. He said it was no more.
"It started out," said he, "in a fearless way, but it was not sustained."
He then paused in a low tone of voice, gulped, and proceeded:
"Folks told me when I began that I ought to attack almost everything. Make
the paper non-partisan, but aggressive, that was their idea. Sail into
everything, and the paper would soon be a power in the land. So I
"Friends came in very kindly and told me what to attack. They would
neglect their own business in order to tell me of corruption in somebody
else. I went on that way for some time in a defiant mood, attacking
anything that happened to suggest itself.
"Finally I thought I would attack the silver dollar. I did so. I thought
that friends would come to me and praise me for my manly words, and that I
could afford to lose the friendship of the dollar provided I could win
"In six months I took an unexpired annual pass over our Larrabie Slough