Part 9 out of 9
right? I want a candid, legal opinion, and I'm ready to pay for it."
I said he did perfectly right.
Answering an Invitation.
Hudson, Wis., January 19, 1886.
Dear friend.--I have just received your kind and cordial invitation to
come to Washington and spend several weeks there among the eminent men of
our proud land. I would be glad to go as you suggest, but I cannot do so
at this time. I am passionately fond of mingling with the giddy whirl of
good society. I hope you will not feel that my reason for declining your
kind invitation is that I feel myself above good society. I assure you I
Nothing pleases me better than to dress up and mingle among my fellow-men,
with a sprinkling here and there of the other sex. It is true that the
most profitable study for mankind is man, but we should not overlook
woman. Woman is now seeking to be emancipated. Let us put our great,
strong arms around her and emancipate her. Even if we cannot emancipate
but one, we shall not have lived entirely for naught.
I am told by those upon whom I can rely that there are hundreds of
attractive young women throughout our joyous land who have arrived at
years of discretion and yet who have never been emancipated. I met a woman
on the cars last week who is lecturing on this subject, and she told me
all about it. Now, the question at once presents itself, how shall we
emancipate woman unless we go where she is? We must go right into society
and take her by the hand and never let go of her hand till she is properly
emancipated. Not only must she be emancipated, but she must be emancipated
from her present thralldom. Thralldom of this kind is liable to break out
in any community, and those who are now in perfect health may pine away in
a short time and flicker.
My course, while mingling in society's mad whirl, is to first open the
conversation with a young lady by leading her away to the conservatory,
where I ask her if she has ever been the victim of thralldom and whether
or not she has ever been ground under the heel of the tyrant man. I then
time her pulse for thirty minutes, so as to strike a good average. The
emancipation of woman is destined at some day to become one of our leading
You also ask me to kindly lead the German while there. I would cheerfully
do so, but owing to the wobbly eccentricity of my cyclone leg, it would be
sort of a broken German. But I could sit near by and watch the game with a
furtive glance, and fan the young ladies between the acts, and converse
with them in low, earnest, passionate tones. I like to converse with
people in whom I take an interest. I was conversing with a young lady one
evening at a recherche ball in my far away home in the free and unfettered
West, a very brilliant affair, I remember, under the auspices of Hose
Company No. 2, I was talking in a loud and earnest way to this liquid-eyed
creature, a little louder than usual, because the music was rather forte
just then, and the base viol virtuoso was bearing on rather hard at that
moment. The music ceased with a sudden snort. And so did my wife, who was
just waltzing past us. If I had ceased to converse at the same time that
the music shut off, all might have been well, but I did not.
Your remark that the president and cabinet would be glad to see me this
winter is ill-timed.
There have been times when it would have given me much pleasure to visit
Washington, but I did not vote for Mr. Cleveland, to tell the truth, and I
know that if I were to go to the White House and visit even for a few
days, he would reproach me and throw it up to me. It is true I did not
pledge myself to vote for him, but still I would hate to go to a man's
house and eat his popcorn and use his smoking tobacco after I had voted
against him and talked about him as I have about Cleveland.
No, I can't be a hypocrite. I am right out, open and above board. If I
talk about a man behind his back, I won't go and gorge myself with his
victuals. I was assured by parties in whom I felt perfect confidence that
Mr. Cleveland was a "moral leper," and relying on such assurances from men
in whom I felt that I could trust, and not being at that time where I
could ask Mr. Cleveland in person whether he was or was not a moral leper
as aforesaid, I assisted in spreading the report that he had been exposed
to moral leprosy, and as near as I could learn, he was liable to come down
with it at any time.
So that even if I go to Washington I shall put up at a hotel and pay my
bills just as any other American citizen would. I know how it is with Mr.
Cleveland at this time. When the legislature is in session there, people
come in from around Buffalo with their butter and eggs to sell, and stay
overnight with the president. But they should not ride a free horse to
death. I may not be well educated, but I am high strung till you can't
rest Groceries are just as high in Washington as they are in Philadelphia.
I hope that you will not glean from the foregoing that I have lost my
interest in national affairs. God forbid. Though not in the political
arena myself, my sympathies are with those who are. I am willing to assist
the families of those who are in the political arena trying to obtain a
precarious livelihood thereby. I was once an official under the Federal
government myself, as the curious student of national affairs may learn if
he will go to the Treasury Department at Washington, D.C., and ask to see
my voucher for $9.85, covering salary as United States commissioner for
the Second Judicial District of Wyoming for the year 1882. It was at that
time that a vile contemporary characterized me as "a corrupt and venal
Federal official who had fattened upon the hard-wrung taxes of my fellow
citizens and gorged myself for years at the public crib." This was unjust
I was not corrupt I was not venal. I was only hungry!
Street Cars and Curiosities.
There is an institution in Boston which the Pilgrim Fathers did not
originate. That is the street car. There is a street car parade all day
on Washington street, and a red-light procession most of the night.
People told me that I could get into a car and go anywhere I wanted to. I
tried it. There was a point in Boston, I learned, where there were some
more relics that I hadn't seen. Parties told me where I could find some
more fragments of the Mayflower, and an old chair in which Josiah Quincy
had sat down to think. There were also a few more low price flint-lock
guns and tomahawks that no man who visited Boston could afford to miss.
Besides, there was said to be the lock that used to be on the door of a
room in which General Washington had a good notion to write his farewell
address. All these things were in the collection which I started out to
find, and there were others, also.
For instance, there was a specimen of the lightning that Franklin caught
in his demijohn out of the sky, and still in a good state of preservation;
also some more clothes in which he was baptized, more swords of Bunker
Hill, and a little shirt which John Hancock put on as soon as he was born.
Hancock was a perfect gentleman from his birth, and it is said that the
first thing he did was to excuse himself for a moment and then put on this
shirt. His manners were certainly very agreeable, and he was very much
I heard, too, that there was an acorn from the tree in which Benedict
Arnold had his nest while he was hatching treason. I did not believe it,
but I had an idea I could readily discover the fraud if I could only see
the acorn, for I am a great historian and researcher from away back. I was
told that in this collection there was a suspender button shed by Patrick
Henry during his memorable speech in which he raised up to his full height
on his hind feet and permitted the war to come in _italics_, also in SMALL
CAPS and in LARGE CAPS!!! with three astonishers on the end.
So I wanted to find this place, and as I had plenty of means I decided to
ride in a street car. Therefore, I aimed my panic price cane at the driver
of a cream-colored car with a blue stomach, and remarked, "Hi, there!"
Before I go any further, and in order to avoid ambiguity, let me say that
it was the car that had the blue stomach. He (the driver) twisted the
brake and I went inside, clear to the further end, and sat down by the
side of a young woman who filled the whole car with sunshine. I was so
happy that I gave the conductor half a dollar and told him to keep the
change. If by chance she sees this, I hope she still remembers me. Pretty
soon a very fat woman came into the car and aimed for our quarter. She
evidently intended to squat between this fair girl and myself. But ah,
thought I to myself in a low tone of voice, I will fool thee. So I shoved
my person along in the seat toward the sweet girl of the Bay State. The
corpulent party, whose name I did not learn, had in the meantime backed up
to where she had detected a slight vacancy, and where I had seen fit to
place myself. At that moment she heaved a sigh of relief, and, assisted by
the motion of the car, which just then turned a corner, she sat down in my
lap and nestled in my bosom like a tired baby elephant.
[Illustration: PATRICK HENRY.]
Dear reader, if I were to tell you that the crystal of my watch was picked
out from under my shoulder blades the next day, you would not believe it,
would you? I will not strain your faith in me by making the statement, but
that was the heaviest woman I ever held.
While all this was going on I lost track of my location. The car began to
squirm around all over Boston, and finally the conductor came back and
wanted more money. I said no, I would get off and try a dark red car with
a green stomach for a while. So I did I rode on that till I had seen a
great deal of new scenery, and then I asked the conductor if he passed
Number Clankety Clank, Blank street. He said he did not, but if I would go
down two blocks further and take a maroon car with a plaid stomach it
would take me to the corner of "What-do-you-call-it and What's-his-name
streets," where, if I took a seal brown car with squshed huckleberry
trimmings it would take me to where I wanted to go. So I tried it. I do
not know just where I missed my train, but when I found the seal brown car
with scrunched huckleberry trimmings it was going the other way, and as it
was late I went into a cafe and refreshed myself. When I came out I
discovered that it was too late to see the collection, even if I could
find it, for at 6 o'clock they take the relics in and put them into a
refrigerator till morning.
[Illustration: TAKING A PRIZE.]
I was now weary and somewhat disappointed, so I desired to get back to my
headquarters, wherein I could rest and where I could lock myself up in my
room, so no prize fat woman could enter. I hailed one of those sawed-off
landaus, consisting of two wheels, one door behind, and a bill for two
bits. I told the college graduate on the box where I wanted to go, gave
him a quarter and got in. I sat down and heaved a chaste sigh. The sigh
was only half hove when the herdic backed up to my destination, which was
about 300 feet from where I got in, as the crow flies.
When I go to Boston again, I am going in charge of the police.
The street railway system of Boston is remarkably perfect. Fifty cars pass
a given point on Washington street in an hour, and yet there are no
blockades. You can take one of those cars, if you are a stranger, and you
can get so mixed up that you will never get back, and all for five cents.
I felt a good deal like the man who was full and who stepped on a man who
was not full. The sober man was mad, and yelled out: "See here; condemn
it, can't you look where you're walking?" "Betcher life," says the
inebriate, "but trouble is to walk where I'm lookin'."
The Poor Blind Pig.
I have just been over to the Falls of Minnehaha. In fact I have been quite
a tourist and summer resorter this season, having saturated my system with
nineteen different styles of mineral water in Wisconsin alone, and tried
to win the attention of nineteen different styles of head waiters at these
summer hotels. I may add in passing that the summer hotels of Wisconsin
and Minnesota have been crowded full the past season and more room will
have to be added before another season comes around.
The motto of the summer hotel seems to be, "Unless ye shall have feed the
waiter, behold ye shall in no wise be fed." Many waiters at these places,
by a judicious system of blackmail and starvation, have reduced the guest
to a sad state.
[Illustration: THE MAN WHO FEES THE WAITEE.]
The mineral water of Wisconsin ranks high as a beverage. Many persons are
using it during the entire summer in place of rum.
The water of Waukesha does not appear to taste of any mineral, although an
analysis shows the presence of several kinds of groceries in solution. The
water at Palmyra Springs also tastes like any other pure water, but at
Kankanna, on the Fox River, they have a style of mineral water which is
different. Almost as soon as you taste it you discover that it is
extremely different. Colonel Watrous, of the Milwaukee _Sunday Telegraph_,
took some of it. I saw him afterward. He looked depressed, and told me
that he had been deceived. Several Kankanna people had told him that this
was living water, He had discovered otherwise. He hated to place his
confidence in people and then find it misplaced.
A favorite style of Kankanna revenge is to drink a quart of this water,
and then, on meeting an enemy, to breathe on him and wither him. One
breath produces syncope and blind staggers. Two breaths induce coma and
metallic casket for one.
Minnehaha is not mineral water. It is just plain water, giving itself away
day after day like a fresh young man in society. If you want pure water
you get it at the spring near the foot of the fall, and if you want it
flavored, with something that will leave a blazed road the whole length of
your alimentary canal, you go to the "blind pig," a few rods away from the
The blind pig draws many people toward the falls through sympathy. To be
blind must indeed be a sad plight. Let us pause and reflect on this
By good fortune I have had a chance to watch the rum problem in all its
phases this summer. Beginning in Maine, where the most ingenious methods
of whipping the devil around the stump are adopted, then going through
northern Iowa and tasting her exhilarating pop, and at last paying ten
cents to see the blind pig at Minnehaha, I feel like one who has wrestled
with the temperance problem in a practical way, and I have about decided
that a high license is about the only way to make the sale of whisky
odious. Prohibition is too abrupt in its methods, and one generation can
hardly wipe out the appetite for liquor that has been planted and fostered
by fifty preceding generations.
For fear that a few of my lady readers do not know what the Minnehaha
blind pig looks like, and that they may be curious about it, I will just
say that it is a method of evading the law, and consists of a dumb waiter,
wherein, if you pay ten cents, you get a glass of stimulants without the
annoyance of conversation. Many ladies who visit the falls, and who have
heard incidentally about the blind pig, express a desire to see the poor
little thing, but their husbands generally persuade them to refrain.
Minnehaha is a beautiful waterfall. It is not so frightfully large and
grand as Niagara, but it is very fine, and if the State of Minnesota would
catch the man who nails his signs on the trees around there, and choke him
to death near the falls on a pleasant day, a large audience wold attend
with much pleasure, I believe that the fence-board advertiser is not only,
as a rule, wicked, but he also lacks common sense. Who ever bought a liver
pad or a corset because he read about it on a high board fence? No one.
Who ever purchased a certain kind of pill or poultice because the name of
that pill or poultice was nailed on a tree to disfigure a beautiful
landscape? I do not believe that any sane human being ever did so. If
everyone feels as I do about it, people would rather starve to death for
pills and freeze to death in a perfect wilderness of liver pads than buy
of the man who daubs the fair face of nature with names of his alleged
I saw a squaw who seemed to belong in the picture of the poetic little
waterfall. I did not learn her name. It was one of these long, corduroy
Sioux names, that hang together with hyphens like a lot of sausage. The
salaried humorist of the party said he never sausage a name before.
Translated into our tongue it meant
I presume that Daniel Webster was as good an off-hand speaker as this
country has ever produced. Massachusetts has been well represented in
Congress since that time, but she has had few who could successfully
compete with D. Webster, Esq., attorney and counsellor-at-law, Boston,
I have never met Mr. Webster, but I have seen a cane that he used to wear,
and since that time I have felt a great interest in him. It was a heavy
winter cane, and was presented to him as a token of respect.
This reminds me of the inscription on a grave stone in the 280-year-old
churchyard at LaPointe, on Lake Superior, where I was last week. It shows
what punctuation has done for a lost and undone race. I copy the
inscription exactly as it appears:
LOUIS ROC DE DEAU
AS A MARK OF
ESTEEM BY HIS
Daniel Webster had one of the largest and most robust brains that ever
flourished in our fair land. It was what we frequently call a teeming
brain, one of those four-horse teeming brains, as it were. Mr. Webster
wore the largest hat of any man then in Congress, and other senators and
representatives used to frequently borrow it to wear on the 2nd of
January, the 5th of July, and after other special occasions, when they had
been in executive session most all night and endured great mental strain.
This hat matter reminds me of an incident in the life of Benjamin F.
Butler, a man well known in Massachusetts even at the present time.
One evening, at a kind of reception or some such dissipation as that,
while Jim Nye was in the Senate, the latter left his silk hat on the
lounge with the opening turned up, and while he was talking with someone
else, Mr. Butler sat down in the hat with so much expression that it was a
wreck. Everyone expected to see James W. Nye walk up and smite Benjamin F.
Butler, but he did not do so. He looked at the chaotic hat for a minute,
more in sorrow than in anger, and then he said:
"Benjamin, I could have told you that hat wouldn't fit you before you
tried it on."
Daniel Webster's brain was not only very large, but it was in good order
all the time. Sometimes Nature bestows large brains on men who do not rise
to great prominence. Large brains do not always indicate great
intellectual power. These brains are large but of an inferior quality. A
schoolmate of mine used to wear a hat that I could put my head and both
feet into with perfect ease. I remember that he tied my shirt one day
while I was laying my well-rounded limbs in the mill pond near my
I was mad at the time, but I could not lick him, for he was too large. All
I could do was to patiently untie my shirt while my teeth chattered, then
fling a large, three-cornered taunt in his teeth and run. He kept on
poking fun at me, I remember, till I got dressed, and alluded
incidentally, to my small brain and abnormal feet. This stung my sensitive
nature, and I told him that if I had such a wealth of brain as he had, and
it was of no use to think with, I would take it to a restaurant and have
it breaded. Then I went away.
But we were speaking of Webster. Many lawyers of our day would do well to
read and study the illustrious example of Daniel Webster. He did not sit
in court all day with his feet on the table and howl, "We object," and
then down his client for $50, just because he had made a noise. I employed
a lawyer once to bring suit for me to recover quite a sum of money due me.
After years of assessments and toilsome litigation, we got a judgment. He
said to me that he was anxious to succeed with the case mainly because he
knew I Wanted to vindicate myself. I said yes, that was the idea exactly.
I wanted to be vindicated.
So he gave me the vindication and took the judgment as a slight
testimonial of his own sterling worth. When I want to be vindicated again
I will do it with one of those self-cocking vindicators that you can carry
in a pocket.
Looking over this letter, I am amazed to see the amount of valuable
information relative to the life of Mr. Webster that I have succeeded in
using. There are, of course, some minor details of Mr. Webster's life
which I have omitted, but nothing of real importance. The true history of
Mr. Webster is epitomized here, and told in a pleasing and graceful
manner, a style that is at once accurate and just and still elegant,
chaste and thoroughly refined, while at the same time there are little
gobs of sly humor in it that are real cute.
Two Ways of Telling It.
I remember one sunny day in summer, we were sitting in the Boomerang
office, I and the city editor, and he was speaking enviously of my salary
of $150 per month as compared with his of $80, and I had just given him
the venerable minstrel witticism that of course my salary was much larger
than his, but he ought not to forget that he got his.
Just then there was a revolver shot at the foot of our stairs, and then
another. The printers rushed into the stairway from the composing room,
and to save time I ran out on the balcony that hung over the sidewalk and
which gave me a bird's-eye view of the murder. The next issue of the paper
contained an account about like this:
Cold-Blooded Murder.--Yesterday, between 12 and 1 o'clock, in front of
this office on Second street, James McKeon, in a manner almost wholly
unprovoked, shot James Smith, commonly known as Windy Smith. Smith died at
2 o'clock this morning of his wounds. Windy Smith was not a bad man, but,
as his nickname would imply, he was a kind of noisy, harmless fellow, and
McKeon, who is a gambler and professional bad man, can give no good reason
for the killing. There is a determined effort on foot to lynch the
This account was brief, but it seemed to set forth the facts pretty
clearly, I thought, and I felt considerably chagrined when I saw an
account of the matter latter on, as written up by the prosecuting
attorney. I may be inaccurate as to dates and some other points of detail,
but, as nearly as I can remember, his version of the matter was like this:
THE TERRITORY OF WYOMING, }
COUNTY OF ALBANY. } ss.
In Justice's Court, before E.W. Nye, Esq., Justice of the Peace.
The Territory of Wyoming, plt'ff.}
vs. } Complaint.
James McKeon, def't. }
The above named defendant, James McKeon, is accused of the crime of
murder, for that he, the said defendant, James McKeon, at the town of
Laramie City, in the County of Albany and Territory of Wyoming, and on the
13th day of July, Anno Domini 1880, then and there being, he, the said
defendant, James McKeon, did wilfully, maliciously, feloniously, wickedly,
unlawfully, criminally, illegally, unjustly, premeditatedly, coolly and
murderously, by means of a certain deadly weapon commonly called a Smith &
Wesson revolver, or revolving pistol, so constructed as to revolve upon
itself and to be discharged by means of a spring and hammer, and with six
chambers thereto, and known commonly as a self-cocker, the same loaded
with gun-powder and leaden bullets, and in the hands of him, the said
defendant, James McKeon, level at, to, upon, by, contiguous to and against
the body of one James Smith, commonly called Windy Smith, in the peace of
the commonwealth then and there being, and that by means of said deadly
weapon commonly called a Smith & Wesson revolver, or revolving pistol, so
constructed as to revolve upon itself and to be discharged by means of a
spring or hammer, and with six chambers thereto and known commonly as a
self-cocker, the same loaded with gunpowder and leaden bullets and in the
hands of him the said defendant, James McKeon, held at, to, upon, by,
contiguous to and against the body of him, the said James Smith, commonly
called Windy Smith, he, the said James McKeon, did wilfully, maliciously,
feloniously, wickedly, fraudulently, virulently, unlawfully, criminally,
illegally, brutally, unjustly, premeditatedly, coolly and murderously, of
his malice aforethought with the deadly weapon aforesaid held in the right
hand of him, the said defendant, James McKeon, to, at, against, etc., the
body of him, the said James Smith, commonly called Windy Smith, he, the
said defendant, James McKeon, at the said town of Laramie City, in the
said County of Albany, and in the heretofore enumerated Territory of
Wyoming, and on the hereinbefore mentioned 13th day of July, Anno Domini
1880, did inflict to, at, upon, by, contiguous to, adjacent to, adjoining,
over and against the body of him, the said James Smith, commonly called
Windy Smith, one certain deadly, mortal, dangerous and painful wound,
to-wit: Over, against, to, at, by, upon, contiguous to, near, adjacent to
and bisecting the intestines of him, the said James Smith, commonly called
Windy Smith, by reason of which he, the said James Smith, commonly called
Windy Smith, did in great agony linger, and lingering did die, on the 14th
day of July, Anno Domini 1880, at 2 o'clock in the forenoon of said day,
contrary to the statutes in such case made and provided, and against the
peace and dignity of the Territory of Wyoming.
I am now convinced that although the published account was correct, it was
not as full as it might have been. Perhaps the tendency of modern
journalism is to epitomize too much. In the hurry of daily newspaper work
and the press of matter upon our pages, very likely we are fatally brief,
and sacrifice rhetorical beauty to naked and goose-pimply facts.
All About Menials.
The subject of meals, lunch-counters, dining-cars and buffet-cars came up
the other day, incidentally. I had ordered a little breakfast in the
buffet-car, not so much because I expected to get anything, but because I
liked to eat in a car and have all the other passengers glaring at me. I
do not know which affords me the most pleasure--to sit for a photograph
and be stabbed in the cerebellum with a cast-iron prong, to be fed in the
presence of a mixed company of strangers, or to be called on without any
preparation to make a farewell speech on the gallows.
However, I got my breakfast after awhile. The waiter was certainly the
most worthless, trifling, half-asleep combination of Senegambian stupidity
and poor white trash indolence and awkwardness that I ever saw. He brought
in everything except what I wanted, and then wound up by upsetting the
little cream pitcher in my lap. He did not charge for the cream. He threw
So all the rest of the journey I was trying to eradicate a cream dado from
my pantaloons. It made me mad, because those pantaloons were made for me
by request Besides, I haven't got pantaloons to squander in that way. To
some a pair of pantaloons, more or less, is nothing, but it is much to me.
[Illustration: SHOWING HIS INMOST THOUGHT.]
There was a porter on the same train who was much the same kind of
furniture as the waiter. He slept days and made up berths all night.
Truly, he began making up berths at Jersey City, and when he got through,
about daylight, it was time to begin to unmake them again. All night long
I could hear him opening and shutting the berths like a concertina. He
sang softly to himself all night long:
"You must camp a little in the wilderness
And then we'll all go home."
He played his own accompaniment on the berths.
When in repose he was generally asleep with a whisk broom in one hand and
the other hand extended with the palm up, waiting for a dividend to be
He generally slept with his mouth open, so that you could read his inmost
thoughts, and when I complained to him about the way my bunk felt, he said
he was sorry, and wanted to know which cell I was in.
I rode, years ago, over a new stage line for several days. It was through
an almost trackless wilderness, and the service hadn't been "expedited"
then. It was not a star route, anyhow. The government seemed to think that
the man who managed the thing ought not to expect help so long as he had
been such a fool asterisk it.
(Five minutes intermission for those who wish to be chloroformed.)
The stage consisted of a buckboard. It was one of the first buckboards
ever made, and the horse was among the first turned out, also. The driver
and myself were the passengers.
When it got to be about dinner time, I asked him if we were not pretty
near the dinner station. He grunted. He hadn't said a word since we
started. He was a surly, morose and taciturn man. I was told that he had
been disappointed in love. A half-breed woman named No-Wayno had led him
to believe that she loved him, and that if it had not been for her husband
she would gladly have been the driver's bride. So the driver assassinated
the disagreeable husband of No-Wayno. Then he went to the ranch to claim
his bride, but she was not there. She had changed her mind, and married a
cattle man, who had just moved on to the range with a government mule and
a branding iron, intending to slowly work himself into the stock business.
So this driver was a melancholy man. He only made one remark to me during
that long forty-mile drive through the wilderness. About dinner time he
drove the horse under a quaking asp tree, tied a nose bag of oats over its
head and took a wad of bread and bacon from his greasy pocket. The bacon
and bread had little flakes of smoking tobacco all over it, because he
carried his grub and tobacco in the same pocket. For a moment he
introduced one corner of the bacon and bread in among his whiskers. Then
he made the only remark that he uttered while we were together. He said:
"Pardner, dinner is now ready in the dining-car."
A Powerful Speech.
I once knew a man who was nominated by his fellow citizens for a certain
office and finally elected without having expended a cent for that
purpose. He was very eccentric, but he made a good officer. When he heard
that he was nominated, he went up, as he said, into the mountains to do
some assessment work on a couple of claims. He got lost and didn't get his
bearings until a day or two after election. Then he came into town hungry,
greasy and ragged, but unpledged.
He found that he was elected, and in answer to a telegram started off for
'Frisco to see a dying relative. He did not get back till the first of
January. Then he filed his bond and sailed into the office. He fired
several sedentary deputies who had been in the place twenty years just
because they were good "workers." That is, they were good workers at the
polls. They saved all their energies for the campaign, and so they only
had vitality enough left to draw their salaries during the balance of the
This man raised the county scrip from sixty to ninety-five in less than
two years, and still they busted him in the next convention. He was too
eccentric. One delegate asked what in Sam Hill would become of the country
if every candidate should skin out during the campaign and rusticate in
the mountains while the battle was being fought.
Says he, "I am a delegate from the precinct of Rawhide Buttes, and I
calklate I know what I am talkin' about. Gentlemen of the convention, just
suppose that everybody, from the President of the United States down, was
to git the nomination and then light out like a house afire and never come
back till it was time to file his bond; what's going to become of us
common drunkards to whom election is a noasis in the bad lands, an orange
grove in the alkali flats?
"Mr. Chairman, there's millions of dollars in this broad land waiting for
the high tide of election day to come and float 'em down to where you and
I, Mr. Chairman, as well as other parched and patriotic inebriates, can
git a hold of 'em.
"Gentlemen, we talk about stringency and shrinkage of values, and all such
funny business as that; but that's something I don't know a blamed thing
about. What I can grapple with is this: If our county offices are worth
$30,000, and there are other little after-claps and soft snaps, and
walk-overs, worth, say $10,000, and the boys, say, are willing to do the
fair thing, say, blow in fifteen per cent, to the central committee, and
what they feel like on the outside, then politics, instead of a burden and
a reproach, becomes a pleasing duty, a joyous occasion and a picnic to
those whose lives might otherwise be a dreary monotone.
"Mr. Chairman, the past two years has wrecked four campaign saloons, and a
tinner who socked his wife's fortune into campaign torches is now in a
land where torchlights is no good. Overcome by a dull market, a financial
depression and a reserved central committee, he ate a package of Rough on
Rats, and passed up the flume. He is now at rest over yonder.
"Such instances would be common if we encouraged the eccentric economy of
official cranks. It is an evil that is gnawing at the vitals of the
republic. We must squench it or get left. There are millions of dollars in
this country, Mr. Chairman, that, if we keep it out of the campaign, will
get into the hands of the working classes, and then you and I, Mr.
Chairman, and gentlemen of the convention, can starve to death. Keep the
campaign money away from the soulless hired man, gentlemen, or good-bye
"Mr. Chairman, excuse my emotion! It is almighty seldom that I make a
speech, but when I do, I strive to get there with both feet. We must
either work the campaign funds into their legitimate channels, or every
blamed patriot within the sound of my voice will have to fasten on a tin
bill and rustle for angle-worms amongst the hens. You hear me?"
[Terrific applause, during which the delicate odor of enthusiasm was
noticed on the breath of the entire delegation.]
A Goat in a Frame.
Laramie has a seal brown goat, with iron gray chin whiskers and a breath
like new mown hay.
He has not had as hard a winter as the majority of stock on the Rocky
mountains, because he is of a domestic turn of mind and tries to make man
his friend. Though social in his nature, he never intrudes himself on
people after they have intimated with a shotgun that they are weary of
When the world seems cold and dark to him, and everybody turns coldly away
from him, he does not steal away by himself and die of corroding grief; he
just lies down on the sidewalk in the sun and fills the air with the
seductive fragrance of which he is the sole proprietor.
One day, just as he had eaten his midday meal of boot heels and cold
sliced atmosphere and kerosene barrel staves, he saw a man going along the
street with a large looking glass under his arm.
The goat watched the man, and saw him set the mirror down by a gate and go
inside the house after some more things that he was moving. Then the goat
stammered with his tail a few times and went up to see if he could eat the
When he got pretty close to it, he saw a hungry-looking goat apparently
coming toward him, so he backed off a few yards and went for him. There
was a loud crash, and when the man came out he saw a full length portrait
of a goat with a heavy, black walnut frame around it, going down the
street with a great deal of apparent relish.
Then the man said something derogatory about the goat, and seemed offended
Goats are not timid in their nature and are easily domesticated.
There are two kinds of goat--the cashmere goat and the plain goat. The
former is worked up into cashmere shawls and cashmere bouquet. The latter
The cashmere bouquet of commerce is not made of the common goat. It is a
good thing that it is not.
A goat that has always been treated with uniform kindness and never
betrayed, may be taught to eat out of the hand. Also out of the flour
barrel or the ice-cream freezer.
To a Married Man.
Adelbert G. Grimes writes as follows: "I am a young man not yet twenty-two
years of age. I am said to be rather attractive in appearance and a fluent
conversationalist. Three years ago I very foolishly married and settled on
a tree claim in Dakota, where we have three children, consisting of one
pair of twins and an ordinary child, born by itself. We are a considerable
distance from town, and to remain at home during the winter with no
company besides my wife and children is very irksome, especially as my
wife has never had the advantages that I have in the way of society. Her
conversational powers are very inferior, and I cannot bear to remain at
home very much. So I go to town, where I can meet my equals and enjoy
"I fear that this will lead to an estrangement, for, when I return at
night, my wife's nose is so red from sniveling all day that I can hardly
bear to look at her. If there is anything in this world that I hate, it is
a red-eyed, red-nosed woman who sheds tears on all occasions.
"Of course all this makes me irritable, and I say sharp things to her, as
I have a wonderful command of language at such times. She surely cannot
expect a young man twenty-two years old to stay at home day after day and
listen to squalling children, when he is still in the heyday of life with
joy beaming in his eye.
"Of course I do say things to my wife that I am afterward sorry for, but I
made a great mistake in marrying the woman I did, and although some of my
lady friends told me so at the time, I did not then believe it. Do you
think I ought to bury myself on a tree claim with a woman far my inferior,
while I have talents that would shine in the best of society? I am greatly
distressed, and would willingly seek a legal separation if I knew how to
go about it. Will you kindly advise me? What do you think of my
I hardly know how to advise you, Adelbert. You have got yourself into a
place where you cannot do much but remain and take your medicine.
Unfortunately, there are too many such young men as you are, Adelbert.
You are young, and handsome, and smart. You casually admit this in your
letter, I see. You have a social nature, and would shine in society. You
also reluctantly confess this. That does not help you in my estimation,
Adelbert. If you are a bright and shining light in society, you are
probably a brunette fizzle as a husband. When you resolved to take a tree
claim and make a home in Dakota, why didn't you put your swallow-tail
coat under the bed and retire from the giddy whirl and mad rush of
society, the way your wife had to?
I dislike very much to speak to you in a plain, blunt way, Adelbert,
being a total stranger to you, but when you convey the idea in your
letter that you have made a great mistake in marrying at the age of
nineteen, and marrying far beneath yourself, I am forced to agree with
you. If, instead of marrying a young girl who didn't know any better
than to believe that you were a man, instead of a fractional one, you
had come to me, and borrowed my revolver and blown out the fungus
growth which you refer to as your brains, you would have bit it. Even
now it is not too late. Yon can still come to me, and I will oblige
you. You cannot do your wife a greater favor at this time than to leave
her a widow, and the sooner you do so the less orphans there will be.
[Illustration: "I HAVE A WONDERFUL COMMAND OF LANGUAGE."]
Did it ever occur to you, Adelbert, that your wife made a mistake also?
Did it ever bore itself through your adamantine skull that it is not an
unbroken round of gayety for a young girl to shut herself up in a lonesome
house for three years, gradually acquiring children, and meantime being
"sassed" by her husband because she is not a fluent conversationalist?
Wherein you offend me, Adelbert, is that you persist in breathing the air
which human beings and other domestic animals more worthy than yourself
are entitled to. There are too many such imitation men at large. There
should be a law that would prohibit your getting up and walking on your
hind legs and thus imposing on other mammals. If I could run the
government for a few weeks, Adelbert, I would compel your style of
zoological wonder to climb a tree and stay there.
So you married a woman who was far your inferior, did you? How did you do
it? Where did you go to find a woman who could be your inferior and still
keep out of the menagerie? Adelbert, I fear you do your wife a great
injustice. With just barely enough vitality to hand your name down to
posterity and blast the fair future of Dakota by leaving your trade-mark
on future generations, you snivel and whine over your blasted life! If
your life had been blasted a little harder twenty years ago, the life of
your miserable little wife would have been less blasted.
If you had acquired a little more croup twenty years ago, Dakota would
have been ahead. Why did you go on year after year, permitting people to
believe you were a man, when you could have undeceived them in two minutes
by crawling into a hollow log and remaining there?
Your penmanship is very good. It is better than your chances for a bright
immortality beyond the grave. Write to me again whenever you feel lonesome
or want advice. I was a young married man myself once, and I know what
they have to endure. Up to the time of my marriage, I had never known a
harsher tone than a flute note; my early life ran quiet as the clear brook
by which I sported, and so on. I was a great belle in society, also. I
attended all the swell balls and parties in our county for years. Wherever
you found fair women and brave men tripping the light bombastic toe, you
would also find me. "Sometimes I played second violin, and sometimes I
To an Embryo Poet.
The following correspondence is now given to the press for the first time,
with the consent of the parties:
Wm. Nye, Esq.--_Dear Sir_-I am a young man, 20 years of age, with fair
education and a strong desire to succeed. I have done some writing for the
press, having written up a very nice article on progressive euchre, which
was a great success and published in our home paper, But it was not copied
so much in other papers as I would like to have saw it, and I take my pen
in hand at this time to write and ask you what there is in the article
enclosed that prevents its being copied abroad all over our broad land. I
write just as I hope you would feel perfectly free to write me at any
time. I think that writers ought to aid each other. Yours with kind
Algernon L. Tewey.
P.O. Box 202.
I have carefully read and pondered over the dissertation on progressive
euchre which you send me, Algernon, and I cannot see why it should not be
ravenously seized and copied by the press of the broad, wide land referred
to in your letters. If you have time, perhaps it would be well enough to
go to the leading journalists of our country and ask them what they mean
by it. You might write till your vertebrae fell out of your clothes on the
floor, and it would not do half so much good as a personal conference with
the editors of America. First prepare your article, then go personally to
the editors of the country and call them one by one out into the hall, in
a current of cold air, and explain the article to them. In that way you
will form pleasant acquaintances and get solid with our leading
journalists. You have no idea, Algernon, how lonely and desolate the life
of a practical journalist is. Your fresh young face and your fresh young
ways, and your charming grammatical improvisations, would delight an
editor who has nothing to do from year to year but attend to his business.
Do not try to win the editors of America by writing poems beginning:
Now the merry goatlet jumps,
And the trifling yaller dog,
With the tin can madly humps
Like an acrobatic frog.
At times you will be tempted to write such stuff as this, and mark it with
a large blue pencil and send it to the papers of the country, but that is
not a good way to do.
Seriously, Algernon, I would suggest that you make a bold dash for success
by writing things that other people are not writing, thinking things that
other people are not thinking, and saying things that other people are not
saying. You will say that this advice is easier to give than to take, and
I agree with you. But the tendency of the age is to wear the same style of
collar and coat and hat that every other man wears, and to talk and write
like other men; and to be frank with you, Algernon, I think it is an
infernal shame. If you will look carefully about you, you will see that
the preacher, who is talking mostly to dusty pew cushions, is also the
preacher who is thinking the thoughts of other men. He is "up-ending" his
barrel of sermons annually, and they were made in the first place from the
sermons of a man who also "up-ended" his barrel annually. Go where the
preacher is talking to full houses, and you will discover that his sermons
are full of humanity and originality. They are not written in a library by
a man with interchangeable ideas, an automatic cog-wheel thinker, but they
are prepared by a man who earnestly and honestly studies the great, aching
heart of humanity, and full of sincerity, originality and old-fashioned
Christianity, appeals to your better impulses.
How is it with our poetry? As a fellow-traveler and sea-sick tourist
across life's tempestuous tide, I ask you, Algernon, who is writing the
poetry that will live? Is it the man who is sawing out and sandpapering
stanzas of the same general dimensions as some other poet, in which he
bewails the fact that he loved a tall, well-behaved, accomplished girl,
sixteen hands high, who did not require his love?
Ah, no! He is not the poet whose terra cotta statue will stand in the
cemetery, wearing a laurel wreath and a lumpy brow. Show me the poet who
is intimate with nature and who studies the little joys and sorrows of the
poor; who smells the clover and writes about live, healthy people with
ideas and appetites. He is my poet.
I apologize for speaking so earnestly, Algernon, but I saw by your letter
that you felt kindly toward me, and rather invited an expression of
opinion on my part. So I have written more freely, perhaps, than I
otherwise would. We are both writers. Measurably so, at least. You write
on progressive euchre, and I write on anything that I can get hold of. So
let us agree here and promise each other that, whatever we do, we will not
think through the thinker of another man.
The Great Ruler of the universe has made and placed upon the earth a good
many millions of men, but He never made any two of them exactly alike. We
may differ from every one of the countless millions who have preceded us,
and still be safe. Even you and I, Algernon, may agree in many matters,
and yet be very dissimilar. At least I hope so, and I presume you do also.
Eccentricities of Genius.
Alfonso Quanturnernit Dowdell, Frumenti, Ohio, writes to know something
of the effects of alcohol on the brain of an adult, being evidently
apprehensive that some day he may become an adult himself He says:
"I would be glad to know whether or not you think that liquor stimulates
the brain to do better literary work. I have been studying the personal
history of Edgar A. Poe, and learned through that medium that he was in
the habit of drinking a good deal of liquor at times. I also read that
George D. Prentice, who wrote 'The Closing Year,' and other nice poems,
was a hearty drinker. Will you tell me whether this is all true or not,
and also what the effect of alcohol is on the brain of an adult?"
It is said on good authority that Edgar A. Poe ever and anon imbibed the
popular beverages of his day and age, some of which contained alcohol. We
are led to believe these statements because they remain as yet undenied.
But Poe did a great deal of good in that way, for he set an example that
has been followed ever since, more or less, by quite a number of poets'
apprentices who emulated Poe's great gift as a drinker. These men,
thinking that poesy and delirium tremens went hand in hand, became fluent
drunkards early in their career, so that finally, instead of issuing a
small blue volume of poems they punctuated a drunkard's grave.
So we see that Poe did a great work aside from what he wrote. He opened up
a way for these men which eradicated them, and made life more desirable
for those who remained. He made it easy for those who thought genius and
inebriation were synonymous terms to get to the hospital early in the day,
while the overworked waste-basket might secure a few hours of much needed
George D. Prentice has also done much toward weeding out a class of people
who otherwise might have become disagreeable. It is better that these men
who write under the influence of rum should fall into the hands of the
police as early as possible. The police can handle them better than the
Do not try, Alfonso, to experiment in this way. Because Mr. Poe and Mr.
Prentice could write beautiful and witty things between drinks, do not, oh
do not imagine that you can begin that way and succeed at last.
The effect of alcohol on the brain of an adult is to congest it finally.
Alcohol will sometimes congest the brain of an adult under the most trying
and discouraging circumstances. I have frequently known it to scorch out
and paralyze the brain in cases where other experiments had not been
successful in showing the presence of a brain at all.
[Illustration: THINKING ABOUT THE POEM.]
That is the reason why some people love to fool with this great chemical.
It revives their suspicions regarding the presence of a brain.
The habits of literary men vary a good deal, for no two of them seem to
care to adopt the same plan.
I have taken the liberty of showing here my own laboratory and methods of
thought. This is from a drawing made by myself, and represents the writer
in his study and in the act of thinking about a poem.
Last summer I wrote a large poem entitled, "_Moanings of the Moist,
Malarious Sea._" I have it still. The back of it has a memoranda on it in
blue pencil from the leading editors of our broad land, but otherwise it
is just as I wrote it.
The engraving represents me in the act of thinking about the poem, and
what I will do with the money when I get it.
I am now preparing a poem entitled, "_The Umbrella_." It is a dainty
little bit of verse, and my hired man thinks it is a gem. I called it "The
Umbrella" so that it would not be returned.
By looking at the drawing you will see the rapid change of expression on
the face as the work goes on.
I give the drawing in order also, to show the rich furniture of the room.
All poets do not revel in such gaudy trappings as I do, but I cannot write
well in a bare and ill-furnished room. In these apartments there is also a
window which does not show in the engraving. I have tried over and over
again to write a poem in a room that had no window in it, but I cannot say
that I ever wrote one under such circumstances that I thought would live.
You can do as you think best about furnishing your room as I have mine.
You might, of course, succeed as well by writing in a plainer apartment,
but I could not. All my poetical work that was done in the cramped and
plainly furnished room that I formerly occupied over Knadler's livery
stable, was ephemeral.
It got into a few of the leading autograph albums of the country, but it
never got into the papers.
I would not use alcohol, however. Poe and Prentice could use it, but I
never could. After a long debauch, I could always work well enough on the
street but I could not do literary work.