Part 3 out of 6
Jean's spirit will make it beautiful for me always. Her lonely
and tragic death--but I will not think of that now.
Jean's mother always devoted two or three weeks to Christmas
shopping, and was always physically exhausted when Christmas Eve
came. Jean was her very own child--she wore herself out present-
hunting in New York these latter days. Paine has just found on
her desk a long list of names--fifty, he thinks--people to whom
she sent presents last night. Apparently she forgot no one. And
Katy found there a roll of bank-notes, for the servants.
Her dog has been wandering about the grounds today,
comradeless and forlorn. I have seen him from the windows. She
got him from Germany. He has tall ears and looks exactly like a
wolf. He was educated in Germany, and knows no language but the
German. Jean gave him no orders save in that tongue. And so
when the burglar-alarm made a fierce clamor at midnight a
fortnight ago, the butler, who is French and knows no German,
tried in vain to interest the dog in the supposed burglar. Jean
wrote me, to Bermuda, about the incident. It was the last letter
I was ever to receive from her bright head and her competent hand.
The dog will not be neglected.
There was never a kinder heart than Jean's. From her
childhood up she always spent the most of her allowance on
charities of one kind or another. After she became secretary and
had her income doubled she spent her money upon these things with
a free hand. Mine too, I am glad and grateful to say.
She was a loyal friend to all animals, and she loved them
all, birds, beasts, and everything--even snakes--an inheritance
from me. She knew all the birds; she was high up in that lore.
She became a member of various humane societies when she was
still a little girl--both here and abroad--and she remained an
active member to the last. She founded two or three societies
for the protection of animals, here and in Europe.
She was an embarrassing secretary, for she fished my
correspondence out of the waste-basket and answered the letters.
She thought all letters deserved the courtesy of an answer.
Her mother brought her up in that kindly error.
She could write a good letter, and was swift with her pen.
She had but an indifferent ear music, but her tongue took to
languages with an easy facility. She never allowed her Italian,
French, and German to get rusty through neglect.
The telegrams of sympathy are flowing in, from far and wide,
now, just as they did in Italy five years and a half ago, when
this child's mother laid down her blameless life. They cannot
heal the hurt, but they take away some of the pain. When Jean
and I kissed hands and parted at my door last, how little did we
imagine that in twenty-two hours the telegraph would be bringing
words like these:
"From the bottom of our hearts we send out sympathy,
dearest of friends."
For many and many a day to come, wherever I go in this house,
remembrancers of Jean will mutely speak to me of her. Who can
count the number of them?
She was in exile two years with the hope of healing her
malady--epilepsy. There are no words to express how grateful I
am that she did not meet her fate in the hands of strangers, but
in the loving shelter of her own home.
"MISS JEAN IS DEAD!"
It is true. Jean is dead.
A month ago I was writing bubbling and hilarious articles
for magazines yet to appear, and now I am writing--this.
CHRISTMAS DAY. NOON.--Last night I went to Jean's room at
intervals, and turned back the sheet and looked at the peaceful
face, and kissed the cold brow, and remembered that heartbreaking
night in Florence so long ago, in that cavernous and silent vast
villa, when I crept downstairs so many times, and turned back a
sheet and looked at a face just like this one--Jean's mother's
face--and kissed a brow that was just like this one. And last
night I saw again what I had seen then--that strange and lovely
miracle--the sweet, soft contours of early maidenhood restored by
the gracious hand of death! When Jean's mother lay dead, all
trace of care, and trouble, and suffering, and the corroding
years had vanished out of the face, and I was looking again upon
it as I had known and worshipped it in its young bloom and beauty
a whole generation before.
About three in the morning, while wandering about the house
in the deep silences, as one does in times like these, when there
is a dumb sense that something has been lost that will never be
found again, yet must be sought, if only for the employment the
useless seeking gives, I came upon Jean's dog in the hall
downstairs, and noted that he did not spring to greet me,
according to his hospitable habit, but came slow and sorrowfully;
also I remembered that he had not visited Jean's apartment since
the tragedy. Poor fellow, did he know? I think so. Always when
Jean was abroad in the open he was with her; always when she was
in the house he was with her, in the night as well as in the day.
Her parlor was his bedroom. Whenever I happened upon him on the
ground floor he always followed me about, and when I went
upstairs he went too--in a tumultuous gallop. But now it was
different: after patting him a little I went to the library--he
remained behind; when I went upstairs he did not follow me, save
with his wistful eyes. He has wonderful eyes--big, and kind, and
eloquent. He can talk with them. He is a beautiful creature,
and is of the breed of the New York police-dogs. I do not like
dogs, because they bark when there is no occasion for it; but I
have liked this one from the beginning, because he belonged to
Jean, and because he never barks except when there is occasion--
which is not oftener than twice a week.
In my wanderings I visited Jean's parlor. On a shelf I
found a pile of my books, and I knew what it meant. She was
waiting for me to come home from Bermuda and autograph them, then
she would send them away. If I only knew whom she intended them
for! But I shall never know. I will keep them. Her hand has
touched them--it is an accolade--they are noble, now.
And in a closet she had hidden a surprise for me--a thing I
have often wished I owned: a noble big globe. I couldn't see it
for the tears. She will never know the pride I take in it, and
the pleasure. Today the mails are full of loving remembrances
for her: full of those old, old kind words she loved so well,
"Merry Christmas to Jean!" If she could only have lived one day
At last she ran out of money, and would not use mine. So
she sent to one of those New York homes for poor girls all the
clothes she could spare--and more, most likely.
CHRISTMAS NIGHT.--This afternoon they took her away from her
room. As soon as I might, I went down to the library, and there
she lay, in her coffin, dressed in exactly the same clothes she
wore when she stood at the other end of the same room on the 6th
of October last, as Clara's chief bridesmaid. Her face was
radiant with happy excitement then; it was the same face now,
with the dignity of death and the peace of God upon it.
They told me the first mourner to come was the dog. He came
uninvited, and stood up on his hind legs and rested his fore paws
upon the trestle, and took a last long look at the face that was
so dear to him, then went his way as silently as he had come.
At mid-afternoon it began to snow. The pity of it--that
Jean could not see it! She so loved the snow.
The snow continued to fall. At six o'clock the hearse drew
up to the door to bear away its pathetic burden. As they lifted
the casket, Paine began playing on the orchestrelle Schubert's
"Impromptu," which was Jean's favorite. Then he played the
Intermezzo; that was for Susy; then he played the Largo; that was
for their mother. He did this at my request. Elsewhere in my
Autobiography I have told how the Intermezzo and the Largo came
to be associated in my heart with Susy and Livy in their last
hours in this life.
From my windows I saw the hearse and the carriages wind
along the road and gradually grow vague and spectral in the
falling snow, and presently disappear. Jean was gone out of my
life, and would not come back any more. Jervis, the cousin she
had played with when they were babies together--he and her
beloved old Katy--were conducting her to her distant childhood
home, where she will lie by her mother's side once more, in the
company of Susy and Langdon.
DECEMBER 26TH. The dog came to see me at eight o'clock this
morning. He was very affectionate, poor orphan! My room will be
his quarters hereafter.
The storm raged all night. It has raged all the morning.
The snow drives across the landscape in vast clouds, superb,
sublime--and Jean not here to see.
2:30 P.M.--It is the time appointed. The funeral has begun.
Four hundred miles away, but I can see it all, just as if I were
there. The scene is the library in the Langdon homestead.
Jean's coffin stands where her mother and I stood, forty years
ago, and were married; and where Susy's coffin stood thirteen
years ago; where her mother's stood five years and a half ago;
and where mine will stand after a little time.
FIVE O'CLOCK.--It is all over.
When Clara went away two weeks ago to live in Europe, it was
hard, but I could bear it, for I had Jean left. I said WE would
be a family. We said we would be close comrades and happy--just
we two. That fair dream was in my mind when Jean met me at the
steamer last Monday; it was in my mind when she received me at
the door last Tuesday evening. We were together; WE WERE A
FAMILY! the dream had come true--oh, precisely true, contentedly,
true, satisfyingly true! and remained true two whole days.
And now? Now Jean is in her grave!
In the grave--if I can believe it. God rest her sweet
1. Katy Leary, who had been in the service of the Clemens family
for twenty-nine years.
2. Mr. Gabrilowitsch had been operated on for appendicitis.
THE TURNING-POINT OF MY LIFE
If I understand the idea, the BAZAR invites several of us to
write upon the above text. It means the change in my life's
course which introduced what must be regarded by me as the most
IMPORTANT condition of my career. But it also implies--without
intention, perhaps--that that turning-point ITSELF was the
creator of the new condition. This gives it too much
distinction, too much prominence, too much credit. It is only
the LAST link in a very long chain of turning-points commissioned
to produce the cardinal result; it is not any more important than
the humblest of its ten thousand predecessors. Each of the ten
thousand did its appointed share, on its appointed date, in
forwarding the scheme, and they were all necessary; to have left
out any one of them would have defeated the scheme and brought
about SOME OTHER result. It know we have a fashion of saying
"such and such an event was the turning-point in my life," but we
shouldn't say it. We should merely grant that its place as LAST
link in the chain makes it the most CONSPICUOUS link; in real
importance it has no advantage over any one of its predecessors.
Perhaps the most celebrated turning-point recorded in
history was the crossing of the Rubicon. Suetonius says:
Coming up with his troops on the banks of the Rubicon, he
halted for a while, and, revolving in his mind the importance of
the step he was on the point of taking, he turned to those about
him and said, "We may still retreat; but if we pass this little
bridge, nothing is left for us but to fight it out in arms."
This was a stupendously important moment. And all the
incidents, big and little, of Caesar's previous life had been
leading up to it, stage by stage, link by link. This was the
LAST link--merely the last one, and no bigger than the others;
but as we gaze back at it through the inflating mists of our
imagination, it looks as big as the orbit of Neptune.
You, the reader, have a PERSONAL interest in that link, and
so have I; so has the rest of the human race. It was one of the
links in your life-chain, and it was one of the links in mine.
We may wait, now, with bated breath, while Caesar reflects.
Your fate and mine are involved in his decision.
While he was thus hesitating, the following incident
occurred. A person remarked for his noble mien and graceful
aspect appeared close at hand, sitting and playing upon a pipe.
When not only the shepherds, but a number of soldiers also,
flocked to listen to him, and some trumpeters among them, he
snatched a trumpet from one of them, ran to the river with it,
and, sounding the advance with a piercing blast, crossed to the
other side. Upon this, Caesar exclaimed: "Let us go whither the
omens of the gods and the iniquity of our enemies call us.
THE DIE IS CAST."
So he crossed--and changed the future of the whole human
race, for all time. But that stranger was a link in Caesar's
life-chain, too; and a necessary one. We don't know his name, we
never hear of him again; he was very casual; he acts like an
accident; but he was no accident, he was there by compulsion of
HIS life-chain, to blow the electrifying blast that was to make
up Caesar's mind for him, and thence go piping down the aisles of
If the stranger hadn't been there! But he WAS. And Caesar
crossed. With such results! Such vast events--each a link in
the HUMAN RACE'S life-chain; each event producing the next one,
and that one the next one, and so on: the destruction of the
republic; the founding of the empire; the breaking up of the
empire; the rise of Christianity upon its ruins; the spread of
the religion to other lands--and so on; link by link took its
appointed place at its appointed time, the discovery of America
being one of them; our Revolution another; the inflow of English
and other immigrants another; their drift westward (my ancestors
among them) another; the settlement of certain of them in
Missouri, which resulted in ME. For I was one of the unavoidable
results of the crossing of the Rubicon. If the stranger, with
his trumpet blast, had stayed away (which he COULDN'T, for he was
the appointed link) Caesar would not have crossed. What would
have happened, in that case, we can never guess. We only know
that the things that did happen would not have happened. They
might have been replaced by equally prodigious things, of course,
but their nature and results are beyond our guessing. But the
matter that interests me personally is that I would not be HERE
now, but somewhere else; and probably black--there is no telling.
Very well, I am glad he crossed. And very really and thankfully
glad, too, though I never cared anything about it before.
To me, the most important feature of my life is its literary
feature. I have been professionally literary something more than
forty years. There have been many turning-points in my life, but
the one that was the link in the chain appointed to conduct me to
the literary guild is the most CONSPICUOUS link in that chain.
BECAUSE it was the last one. It was not any more important than
its predecessors. All the other links have an inconspicuous
look, except the crossing of the Rubicon; but as factors in
making me literary they are all of the one size, the crossing of
the Rubicon included.
I know how I came to be literary, and I will tell the steps
that lead up to it and brought it about.
The crossing of the Rubicon was not the first one, it was
hardly even a recent one; I should have to go back ages before
Caesar's day to find the first one. To save space I will go back
only a couple of generations and start with an incident of my
boyhood. When I was twelve and a half years old, my father died.
It was in the spring. The summer came, and brought with it an
epidemic of measles. For a time a child died almost every day.
The village was paralyzed with fright, distress, despair.
Children that were not smitten with the disease were imprisoned
in their homes to save them from the infection. In the homes
there were no cheerful faces, there was no music, there was no
singing but of solemn hymns, no voice but of prayer, no romping
was allowed, no noise, no laughter, the family moved spectrally
about on tiptoe, in a ghostly hush. I was a prisoner. My soul
was steeped in this awful dreariness--and in fear. At some time
or other every day and every night a sudden shiver shook me to
the marrow, and I said to myself, "There, I've got it! and I
shall die." Life on these miserable terms was not worth living,
and at last I made up my mind to get the disease and have it
over, one way or the other. I escaped from the house and went to
the house of a neighbor where a playmate of mine was very ill
with the malady. When the chance offered I crept into his room
and got into bed with him. I was discovered by his mother and
sent back into captivity. But I had the disease; they could not
take that from me. I came near to dying. The whole village was
interested, and anxious, and sent for news of me every day; and
not only once a day, but several times. Everybody believed I
would die; but on the fourteenth day a change came for the worse
and they were disappointed.
This was a turning-point of my life. (Link number one.)
For when I got well my mother closed my school career and
apprenticed me to a printer. She was tired of trying to keep me
out of mischief, and the adventure of the measles decided her to
put me into more masterful hands than hers.
I became a printer, and began to add one link after another
to the chain which was to lead me into the literary profession.
A long road, but I could not know that; and as I did not know
what its goal was, or even that it had one, I was indifferent.
A young printer wanders around a good deal, seeking and
finding work; and seeking again, when necessity commands. N. B.
Necessity is a CIRCUMSTANCE; Circumstance is man's master--and
when Circumstance commands, he must obey; he may argue the
matter--that is his privilege, just as it is the honorable
privilege of a falling body to argue with the attraction of
gravitation--but it won't do any good, he must OBEY. I wandered
for ten years, under the guidance and dictatorship of
Circumstance, and finally arrived in a city of Iowa, where I
worked several months. Among the books that interested me in
those days was one about the Amazon. The traveler told an
alluring tale of his long voyage up the great river from Para to
the sources of the Madeira, through the heart of an enchanted
land, a land wastefully rich in tropical wonders, a romantic land
where all the birds and flowers and animals were of the museum
varieties, and where the alligator and the crocodile and the
monkey seemed as much at home as if they were in the Zoo. Also,
he told an astonishing tale about COCA, a vegetable product of
miraculous powers, asserting that it was so nourishing and so
strength-giving that the native of the mountains of the Madeira
region would tramp up hill and down all day on a pinch of
powdered coca and require no other sustenance.
I was fired with a longing to ascend the Amazon. Also with
a longing to open up a trade in coca with all the world. During
months I dreamed that dream, and tried to contrive ways to get to
Para and spring that splendid enterprise upon an unsuspecting
planet. But all in vain. A person may PLAN as much as he wants
to, but nothing of consequence is likely to come of it until the
magician CIRCUMSTANCE steps in and takes the matter off his
hands. At last Circumstance came to my help. It was in this
way. Circumstance, to help or hurt another man, made him lose a
fifty-dollar bill in the street; and to help or hurt me, made me
find it. I advertised the find, and left for the Amazon the same
day. This was another turning-point, another link.
Could Circumstance have ordered another dweller in that town
to go to the Amazon and open up a world-trade in coca on a fifty-
dollar basis and been obeyed? No, I was the only one. There
were other fools there--shoals and shoals of them--but they were
not of my kind. I was the only one of my kind.
Circumstance is powerful, but it cannot work alone; it has
to have a partner. Its partner is man's TEMPERAMENT--his natural
disposition. His temperament is not his invention, it is BORN in
him, and he has no authority over it, neither is he responsible
for its acts. He cannot change it, nothing can change it,
nothing can modify it--except temporarily. But it won't stay
modified. It is permanent, like the color of the man's eyes and
the shape of his ears. Blue eyes are gray in certain unusual lights;
but they resume their natural color when that stress is removed.
A Circumstance that will coerce one man will have no effect
upon a man of a different temperament. If Circumstance had
thrown the bank-note in Caesar's way, his temperament would not
have made him start for the Amazon. His temperament would have
compelled him to do something with the money, but not that. It
might have made him advertise the note--and WAIT. We can't tell.
Also, it might have made him go to New York and buy into the
Government, with results that would leave Tweed nothing to learn
when it came his turn.
Very well, Circumstance furnished the capital, and my
temperament told me what to do with it. Sometimes a temperament
is an ass. When that is the case of the owner of it is an ass,
too, and is going to remain one. Training, experience,
association, can temporarily so polish him, improve him, exalt
him that people will think he is a mule, but they will be
mistaken. Artificially he IS a mule, for the time being, but at
bottom he is an ass yet, and will remain one.
By temperament I was the kind of person that DOES things.
Does them, and reflects afterward. So I started for the Amazon
without reflecting and without asking any questions. That was
more than fifty years ago. In all that time my temperament has
not changed, by even a shade. I have been punished many and many
a time, and bitterly, for doing things and reflecting afterward,
but these tortures have been of no value to me; I still do the
thing commanded by Circumstance and Temperament, and reflect
afterward. Always violently. When I am reflecting, on these
occasions, even deaf persons can hear me think.
I went by the way of Cincinnati, and down the Ohio and
Mississippi. My idea was to take ship, at New Orleans, for Para.
In New Orleans I inquired, and found there was no ship leaving
for Para. Also, that there never had BEEN one leaving for Para.
I reflected. A policeman came and asked me what I was doing, and
I told him. He made me move on, and said if he caught me
reflecting in the public street again he would run me in.
After a few days I was out of money. Then Circumstance
arrived, with another turning-point of my life--a new link. On
my way down, I had made the acquaintance of a pilot. I begged
him to teach me the river, and he consented. I became a pilot.
By and by Circumstance came again--introducing the Civil
War, this time, in order to push me ahead another stage or two
toward the literary profession. The boats stopped running, my
livelihood was gone.
Circumstance came to the rescue with a new turning-point and
a fresh link. My brother was appointed secretary to the new
Territory of Nevada, and he invited me to go with him and help
him in his office. I accepted.
In Nevada, Circumstance furnished me the silver fever and I
went into the mines to make a fortune, as I supposed; but that
was not the idea. The idea was to advance me another step toward
literature. For amusement I scribbled things for the Virginia
City ENTERPRISE. One isn't a printer ten years without setting
up acres of good and bad literature, and learning--unconsciously
at first, consciously later--to discriminate between the two,
within his mental limitations; and meantime he is unconsciously
acquiring what is called a "style." One of my efforts attracted
attention, and the ENTERPRISE sent for me and put me on its staff.
And so I became a journalist--another link. By and by Circumstance
and the Sacramento UNION sent me to the Sandwich Islands for five
or six months, to write up sugar. I did it; and threw in a good
deal of extraneous matter that hadn't anything to do with sugar.
But it was this extraneous matter that helped me to another link.
It made me notorious, and San Francisco invited me to lecture.
Which I did. And profitably. I had long had a desire to travel
and see the world, and now Circumstance had most kindly and
unexpectedly hurled me upon the platform and furnished me the means.
So I joined the "Quaker City Excursion."
When I returned to America, Circumstance was waiting on the pier--
with the LAST link--the conspicuous, the consummating, the
victorious link: I was asked to WRITE A BOOK, and I did it, and
called it THE INNOCENTS ABROAD. Thus I became at last a member
of the literary guild. That was forty-two years ago, and I have
been a member ever since. Leaving the Rubicon incident away back
where it belongs, I can say with truth that the reason I am in
the literary profession is because I had the measles when I was
twelve years old.
Now what interests me, as regards these details, is not the
details themselves, but the fact that none of them was foreseen
by me, none of them was planned by me, I was the author of none
of them. Circumstance, working in harness with my temperament,
created them all and compelled them all. I often offered help,
and with the best intentions, but it was rejected--as a rule,
uncourteously. I could never plan a thing and get it to come out
the way I planned it. It came out some other way--some way I had
not counted upon.
And so I do not admire the human being--as an intellectual
marvel--as much as I did when I was young, and got him out of
books, and did not know him personally. When I used to read that
such and such a general did a certain brilliant thing, I believed
it. Whereas it was not so. Circumstance did it by help of his
temperament. The circumstances would have failed of effect with
a general of another temperament: he might see the chance, but
lose the advantage by being by nature too slow or too quick or
too doubtful. Once General Grant was asked a question about a
matter which had been much debated by the public and the
newspapers; he answered the question without any hesitancy.
"General, who planned the the march through Georgia?" "The
enemy!" He added that the enemy usually makes your plans for
you. He meant that the enemy by neglect or through force of
circumstances leaves an opening for you, and you see your chance
and take advantage of it.
Circumstances do the planning for us all, no doubt, by help
of our temperaments. I see no great difference between a man and
a watch, except that the man is conscious and the watch isn't,
and the man TRIES to plan things and the watch doesn't. The
watch doesn't wind itself and doesn't regulate itself--these
things are done exteriorly. Outside influences, outside
circumstances, wind the MAN and regulate him. Left to himself,
he wouldn't get regulated at all, and the sort of time he would
keep would not be valuable. Some rare men are wonderful watches,
with gold case, compensation balance, and all those things, and
some men are only simple and sweet and humble Waterburys. I am a
Waterbury. A Waterbury of that kind, some say.
A nation is only an individual multiplied. It makes plans
and Circumstances comes and upsets them--or enlarges them. Some
patriots throw the tea overboard; some other patriots destroy a
Bastille. The PLANS stop there; then Circumstance comes in,
quite unexpectedly, and turns these modest riots into a revolution.
And there was poor Columbus. He elaborated a deep plan to
find a new route to an old country. Circumstance revised his
plan for him, and he found a new WORLD. And HE gets the credit
of it to this day. He hadn't anything to do with it.
Necessarily the scene of the real turning-point of my life
(and of yours) was the Garden of Eden. It was there that the
first link was forged of the chain that was ultimately to lead to
the emptying of me into the literary guild. Adam's TEMPERAMENT
was the first command the Deity ever issued to a human being on
this planet. And it was the only command Adam would NEVER be
able to disobey. It said, "Be weak, be water, be characterless,
be cheaply persuadable." The latter command, to let the fruit
alone, was certain to be disobeyed. Not by Adam himself, but by
his TEMPERAMENT--which he did not create and had no authority
over. For the TEMPERAMENT is the man; the thing tricked out with
clothes and named Man is merely its Shadow, nothing more. The
law of the tiger's temperament is, Thou shalt kill; the law of
the sheep's temperament is Thou shalt not kill. To issue later
commands requiring the tiger to let the fat stranger alone, and
requiring the sheep to imbue its hands in the blood of the lion
is not worth while, for those commands CAN'T be obeyed. They
would invite to violations of the law of TEMPERAMENT, which is
supreme, and take precedence of all other authorities. I cannot
help feeling disappointed in Adam and Eve. That is, in their
temperaments. Not in THEM, poor helpless young creatures--
afflicted with temperaments made out of butter; which butter was
commanded to get into contact with fire and BE MELTED. What I
cannot help wishing is, that Adam had been postponed, and Martin
Luther and Joan of Arc put in their place--that splendid pair
equipped with temperaments not made of butter, but of asbestos.
By neither sugary persuasions nor by hell fire could Satan have
beguiled THEM to eat the apple. There would have been results!
Indeed, yes. The apple would be intact today; there would be no
human race; there would be no YOU; there would be no ME. And the
old, old creation-dawn scheme of ultimately launching me into the
literary guild would have been defeated.
HOW TO MAKE HISTORY DATES STICK
These chapters are for children, and I shall try to make the
words large enough to command respect. In the hope that you are
listening, and that you have confidence in me, I will proceed.
Dates are difficult things to acquire; and after they are
acquired it is difficult to keep them in the head. But they are
very valuable. They are like the cattle-pens of a ranch--they
shut in the several brands of historical cattle, each within its
own fence, and keep them from getting mixed together. Dates are
hard to remember because they consist of figures; figures are
monotonously unstriking in appearance, and they don't take hold,
they form no pictures, and so they give the eye no chance to
help. Pictures are the thing. Pictures can make dates stick.
They can make nearly anything stick--particularly IF YOU MAKE THE
PICTURES YOURSELF. Indeed, that is the great point--make the
pictures YOURSELF. I know about this from experience. Thirty
years ago I was delivering a memorized lecture every night, and
every night I had to help myself with a page of notes to keep
from getting myself mixed. The notes consisted of beginnings of
sentences, and were eleven in number, and they ran something like
"IN THAT REGION THE WEATHER--"
"AT THAT TIME IT WAS A CUSTOM--"
"BUT IN CALIFORNIA ONE NEVER HEARD--"
Eleven of them. They initialed the brief divisions of the
lecture and protected me against skipping. But they all looked
about alike on the page; they formed no picture; I had them by
heart, but I could never with certainty remember the order of
their succession; therefore I always had to keep those notes by
me and look at them every little while. Once I mislaid them; you
will not be able to imagine the terrors of that evening. I now
saw that I must invent some other protection. So I got ten of
the initial letters by heart in their proper order--I, A, B, and
so on--and I went on the platform the next night with these
marked in ink on my ten finger-nails. But it didn't answer. I
kept track of the figures for a while; then I lost it, and after
that I was never quite sure which finger I had used last. I
couldn't lick off a letter after using it, for while that would
have made success certain it also would have provoked too much
curiosity. There was curiosity enough without that. To the
audience I seemed more interested in my fingernails than I was in
my subject; one or two persons asked me afterward what was the
matter with my hands.
It was now that the idea of pictures occurred to me; then my
troubles passed away. In two minutes I made six pictures with a
pen, and they did the work of the eleven catch-sentences, and did
it perfectly. I threw the pictures away as soon as they were
made, for I was sure I could shut my eyes and see them any time.
That was a quarter of a century ago; the lecture vanished out of
my head more than twenty years ago, but I would rewrite it from
the pictures--for they remain. Here are three of them: (Fig. 1).
The first one is a haystack--below it a rattlesnake--and it
told me where to begin to talk ranch-life in Carson Valley. The
second one told me where to begin the talk about a strange and
violent wind that used to burst upon Carson City from the Sierra
Nevadas every afternoon at two o'clock and try to blow the town
away. The third picture, as you easily perceive, is lightning;
its duty was to remind me when it was time to begin to talk about
San Francisco weather, where there IS no lightning--nor thunder,
either--and it never failed me.
I will give you a valuable hint. When a man is making a
speech and you are to follow him don't jot down notes to speak
from, jot down PICTURES. It is awkward and embarrassing to have
to keep referring to notes; and besides it breaks up your speech
and makes it ragged and non-coherent; but you can tear up your
pictures as soon as you have made them--they will stay fresh and
strong in your memory in the order and sequence in which you
scratched them down. And many will admire to see what a good
memory you are furnished with, when perhaps your memory is not
any better than mine.
Sixteen years ago when my children were little creatures the
governess was trying to hammer some primer histories into their
heads. Part of this fun--if you like to call it that--consisted
in the memorizing of the accession dates of the thirty-seven
personages who had ruled England from the Conqueror down. These
little people found it a bitter, hard contract. It was all
dates, and all looked alike, and they wouldn't stick. Day after
day of the summer vacation dribbled by, and still the kings held
the fort; the children couldn't conquer any six of them.
With my lecture experience in mind I was aware that I could
invent some way out of the trouble with pictures, but I hoped a
way could be found which would let them romp in the open air
while they learned the kings. I found it, and they mastered
all the monarchs in a day or two.
The idea was to make them SEE the reigns with their eyes;
that would be a large help. We were at the farm then. From the
house-porch the grounds sloped gradually down to the lower fence
and rose on the right to the high ground where my small work-den
stood. A carriage-road wound through the grounds and up the
hill. I staked it out with the English monarchs, beginning with
the Conqueror, and you could stand on the porch and clearly see
every reign and its length, from the Conquest down to Victoria,
then in the forty-sixth year of her reign--EIGHT HUNDRED AND
SEVENTEEN YEARS OF English history under your eye at once!
English history was an unusually live topic in America just
then. The world had suddenly realized that while it was not
noticing the Queen had passed Henry VIII., passed Henry VI. and
Elizabeth, and gaining in length every day. Her reign had
entered the list of the long ones; everybody was interested now--
it was watching a race. Would she pass the long Edward? There
was a possibility of it. Would she pass the long Henry?
Doubtful, most people said. The long George? Impossible!
Everybody said it. But we have lived to see her leave him two
I measured off 817 feet of the roadway, a foot representing
a year, and at the beginning and end of each reign I drove a
three-foot white-pine stake in the turf by the roadside and wrote
the name and dates on it. Abreast the middle of the porch-front
stood a great granite flower-vase overflowing with a cataract of
bright-yellow flowers--I can't think of their name. The vase of
William the Conqueror. We put his name on it and his accession
date, 1066. We started from that and measured off twenty-one
feet of the road, and drove William Rufus's state; then thirteen
feet and drove the first Henry's stake; then thirty-five feet and
drove Stephen's; then nineteen feet, which brought us just past
the summer-house on the left; then we staked out thirty-five,
ten, and seventeen for the second Henry and Richard and John;
turned the curve and entered upon just what was needed for Henry
III.--a level, straight stretch of fifty-six feet of road without
a crinkle in it. And it lay exactly in front of the house, in
the middle of the grounds. There couldn't have been a better
place for that long reign; you could stand on the porch and see
those two wide-apart stakes almost with your eyes shut. (Fig. 2.)
That isn't the shape of the road--I have bunched it up like
that to save room. The road had some great curves in it, but
their gradual sweep was such that they were no mar to history.
No, in our road one could tell at a glance who was who by the size
of the vacancy between stakes--with LOCALITY to help, of course.
Although I am away off here in a Swedish village  and
those stakes did not stand till the snow came, I can see them
today as plainly as ever; and whenever I think of an English
monarch his stakes rise before me of their own accord and I
notice the large or small space which he takes up on our road.
Are your kings spaced off in your mind? When you think of
Richard III. and of James II. do the durations of their reigns
seem about alike to you? It isn't so to me; I always notice that
there's a foot's difference. When you think of Henry III. do you
see a great long stretch of straight road? I do; and just at the
end where it joins on to Edward I. I always see a small pear-bush
with its green fruit hanging down. When I think of the
Commonwealth I see a shady little group of these small saplings
which we called the oak parlor; when I think of George III. I see
him stretching up the hill, part of him occupied by a flight of
stone steps; and I can locate Stephen to an inch when he comes
into my mind, for he just filled the stretch which went by the
summer-house. Victoria's reign reached almost to my study door
on the first little summit; there's sixteen feet to be added now;
I believe that that would carry it to a big pine-tree that was
shattered by some lightning one summer when it was trying to hit me.
We got a good deal of fun out of the history road; and
exercise, too. We trotted the course from the conqueror to the
study, the children calling out the names, dates, and length of
reigns as we passed the stakes, going a good gait along the long
reigns, but slowing down when we came upon people like Mary and
Edward VI., and the short Stuart and Plantagenet, to give time to
get in the statistics. I offered prizes, too--apples. I threw
one as far as I could send it, and the child that first shouted
the reign it fell in got the apple.
The children were encouraged to stop locating things as
being "over by the arbor," or "in the oak parlor," or "up at the
stone steps," and say instead that the things were in Stephen, or
in the Commonwealth, or in George III. They got the habit
without trouble. To have the long road mapped out with such
exactness was a great boon for me, for I had the habit of leaving
books and other articles lying around everywhere, and had not
previously been able to definitely name the place, and so had
often been obliged to go to fetch them myself, to save time and
failure; but now I could name the reign I left them in, and send
Next I thought I would measure off the French reigns, and
peg them alongside the English ones, so that we could always have
contemporaneous French history under our eyes as we went our
English rounds. We pegged them down to the Hundred Years' War,
then threw the idea aside, I do not now remember why. After that
we made the English pegs fence in European and American history
as well as English, and that answered very well. English and
alien poets, statesmen, artists, heroes, battles, plagues,
cataclysms, revolutions--we shoveled them all into the English
fences according to their dates. Do you understand? We gave
Washington's birth to George II.'s pegs and his death to George
III.'s; George II. got the Lisbon earthquake and George III. the
Declaration of Independence. Goethe, Shakespeare, Napoleon,
Savonarola, Joan of Arc, the French Revolution, the Edict of
Nantes, Clive, Wellington, Waterloo, Plassey, Patay, Cowpens,
Saratoga, the Battle of the Boyne, the invention of the
logarithms, the microscope, the steam-engine, the telegraph--
anything and everything all over the world--we dumped it all
in among the English pegs according to it date and regardless
of its nationality.
If the road-pegging scheme had not succeeded I should have
lodged the kings in the children's heads by means of pictures--
that is, I should have tried. It might have failed, for the
pictures could only be effective WHEN MADE BY THE PUPIL; not the
master, for it is the work put upon the drawing that makes the
drawing stay in the memory, and my children were too little to make
drawings at that time. And, besides, they had no talent for art,
which is strange, for in other ways they are like me.
But I will develop the picture plan now, hoping that you will
be able to use it. It will come good for indoors when the
weather is bad and one cannot go outside and peg a road. Let us
imagine that the kings are a procession, and that they have come
out of the Ark and down Ararat for exercise and are now starting
back again up the zigzag road. This will bring several of them
into view at once, and each zigzag will represent the length of
a king's reign.
And so on. You will have plenty of space, for by my project
you will use the parlor wall. You do not mark on the wall; that
would cause trouble. You only attach bits of paper to it with
pins or thumb-tacks. These will leave no mark.
Take your pen now, and twenty-one pieces of white paper,
each two inches square, and we will do the twenty-one years of
the Conqueror's reign. On each square draw a picture of a whale
and write the dates and term of service. We choose the whale for
several reasons: its name and William's begin with the same
letter; it is the biggest fish that swims, and William is the
most conspicuous figure in English history in the way of a
landmark; finally, a whale is about the easiest thing to draw.
By the time you have drawn twenty-one wales and written "William
I.--1066-1087--twenty-one years" twenty-one times, those details
will be your property; you cannot dislodge them from your memory
with anything but dynamite. I will make a sample for you to copy:
I have got his chin up too high, but that is no matter; he
is looking for Harold. It may be that a whale hasn't that fin up
there on his back, but I do not remember; and so, since there is
a doubt, it is best to err on the safe side. He looks better,
anyway, than he would without it.
Be very careful and ATTENTIVE while you are drawing your
first whale from my sample and writing the word and figures under
it, so that you will not need to copy the sample any more.
Compare your copy with the sample; examine closely; if you find
you have got everything right and can shut your eyes and see the
picture and call the words and figures, then turn the sample and
copy upside down and make the next copy from memory; and also the
next and next, and so on, always drawing and writing from memory
until you have finished the whole twenty-one. This will take you
twenty minutes, or thirty, and by that time you will find that
you can make a whale in less time than an unpracticed person can
make a sardine; also, up to the time you die you will always be
able to furnish William's dates to any ignorant person that
inquires after them.
You will now take thirteen pieces of BLUE paper, each two
inches square, and do William II. (Fig. 4.)
Make him spout his water forward instead of backward; also
make him small, and stick a harpoon in him and give him that sick
look in the eye. Otherwise you might seem to be continuing the
other William, and that would be confusing and a damage. It is
quite right to make him small; he was only about a No. 11 whale,
or along there somewhere; there wasn't room in him for his
father's great spirit. The barb of that harpoon ought not to
show like that, because it is down inside the whale and ought to
be out of sight, but it cannot be helped; if the barb were
removed people would think some one had stuck a whip-stock into
the whale. It is best to leave the barb the way it is, then
every one will know it is a harpoon and attending to business.
Remember--draw from the copy only once; make your other twelve
and the inscription from memory.
Now the truth is that whenever you have copied a picture and
its inscription once from my sample and two or three times from
memory the details will stay with you and be hard to forget.
After that, if you like, you may make merely the whale's HEAD and
WATER-SPOUT for the Conqueror till you end his reign, each time
SAYING the inscription in place of writing it; and in the case of
William II. make the HARPOON alone, and say over the inscription
each time you do it. You see, it will take nearly twice as long
to do the first set as it will to do the second, and that will
give you a marked sense of the difference in length of the two reigns.
Next do Henry I. on thirty-five squares of RED paper.
That is a hen, and suggests Henry by furnishing the first syllable.
When you have repeated the hen and the inscription until you are
perfectly sure of them, draw merely the hen's head the rest of the
thirty-five times, saying over the inscription each time. Thus:
You begin to understand how how this procession is going to
look when it is on the wall. First there will be the Conqueror's
twenty-one whales and water-spouts, the twenty-one white squares
joined to one another and making a white stripe three and one-
half feet long; the thirteen blue squares of William II. will be
joined to that--a blue stripe two feet, two inches long, followed
by Henry's red stripe five feet, ten inches long, and so on. The
colored divisions will smartly show to the eye the difference in
the length of the reigns and impress the proportions on the
memory and the understanding. (Fig. 7.)
Stephen of Blois comes next. He requires nineteen two-inch
squares of YELLOW paper. (Fig. 8.)
That is a steer. The sound suggests the beginning of
Stephen's name. I choose it for that reason. I can make a
better steer than that when I am not excited. But this one will
do. It is a good-enough steer for history. The tail is
defective, but it only wants straightening out.
Next comes Henry II. Give him thirty-five squares of RED paper.
These hens must face west, like the former ones. (Fig. 9.)
This hen differs from the other one. He is on his way to
inquire what has been happening in Canterbury.
How we arrive at Richard I., called Richard of the Lion-
heart because he was a brave fighter and was never so contented
as when he was leading crusades in Palestine and neglecting his
affairs at home. Give him ten squares of WHITE paper. (Fig. 10).
That is a lion. His office is to remind you of the lion-
hearted Richard. There is something the matter with his legs,
but I do not quite know what it is, they do not seem right.
I think the hind ones are the most unsatisfactory; the front
ones are well enough, though it would be better if they were
rights and lefts.
Next comes King John, and he was a poor circumstance.
He was called Lackland. He gave his realm to the Pope.
Let him have seventeen squares of YELLOW paper. (Fig. 11.)
That creature is a jamboree. It looks like a trademark, but
that is only an accident and not intentional. It is prehistoric
and extinct. It used to roam the earth in the Old Silurian
times, and lay eggs and catch fish and climb trees and live on
fossils; for it was of a mixed breed, which was the fashion then.
It was very fierce, and the Old Silurians were afraid of it, but
this is a tame one. Physically it has no representative now, but
its mind has been transmitted. First I drew it sitting down, but
have turned it the other way now because I think it looks more
attractive and spirited when one end of it is galloping. I love
to think that in this attitude it gives us a pleasant idea of
John coming all in a happy excitement to see what the barons have
been arranging for him at Runnymede, while the other one gives us
an idea of him sitting down to wring his hands and grieve over it.
We now come to Henry III.; RED squares again, of course--
fifty-six of them. We must make all the Henrys the same color;
it will make their long reigns show up handsomely on the wall.
Among all the eight Henrys there were but two short ones. A
lucky name, as far as longevity goes. The reigns of six of the
Henrys cover 227 years. It might have been well to name all the
royal princes Henry, but this was overlooked until it was too late.
This is the best one yet. He is on his way (1265) to have a
look at the first House of Commons in English history. It was a
monumental event, the situation in the House, and was the second
great liberty landmark which the century had set up. I have made
Henry looking glad, but this was not intentional.
Edward I. comes next; LIGHT-BROWN paper, thirty-five squares.
That is an editor. He is trying to think of a word. He
props his feet on a chair, which is the editor's way; then he can
think better. I do not care much for this one; his ears are not
alike; still, editor suggests the sound of Edward, and he will
do. I could make him better if I had a model, but I made this
one from memory. But is no particular matter; they all look
alike, anyway. They are conceited and troublesome, and don't pay
enough. Edward was the first really English king that had yet
occupied the throne. The editor in the picture probably looks
just as Edward looked when it was first borne in upon him that
this was so. His whole attitude expressed gratification and
pride mixed with stupefaction and astonishment.
Edward II. now; twenty BLUE squares. (Fig. 14.)
Another editor. That thing behind his ear is his pencil.
Whenever he finds a bright thing in your manuscript he strikes it
out with that. That does him good, and makes him smile and show
his teeth, the way he is doing in the picture. This one has just
been striking out a smart thing, and now he is sitting there with
his thumbs in his vest-holes, gloating. They are full of envy
and malice, editors are. This picture will serve to remind you
that Edward II. was the first English king who was DEPOSED. Upon
demand, he signed his deposition himself. He had found kingship
a most aggravating and disagreeable occupation, and you can see
by the look of him that he is glad he resigned. He has put his
blue pencil up for good now. He had struck out many a good thing
with it in his time.
Edward III. next; fifty RED squares. (Fig. 15.)
This editor is a critic. He has pulled out his carving-
knife and his tomahawk and is starting after a book which he is
going to have for breakfast. This one's arms are put on wrong.
I did not notice it at first, but I see it now. Somehow he has
got his right arm on his left shoulder, and his left arm on his
right shoulder, and this shows us the back of his hands in both
instances. It makes him left-handed all around, which is a thing
which has never happened before, except perhaps in a museum.
That is the way with art, when it is not acquired but born to
you: you start in to make some simple little thing, not
suspecting that your genius is beginning to work and swell and
strain in secret, and all of a sudden there is a convulsion and
you fetch out something astonishing. This is called inspiration.
It is an accident; you never know when it is coming. I might
have tried as much as a year to think of such a strange thing as
an all-around left-handed man and I could not have done it, for
the more you try to think of an unthinkable thing the more it
eludes you; but it can't elude inspiration; you have only to bait
with inspiration and you will get it every time. Look at
Botticelli's "Spring." Those snaky women were unthinkable, but
inspiration secured them for us, thanks to goodness. It is too
late to reorganize this editor-critic now; we will leave him as
he is. He will serve to remind us.
Richard II. next; twenty-two WHITE squares. (Fig. 16.)
We use the lion again because this is another Richard. Like
Edward II., he was DEPOSED. He is taking a last sad look at his
crown before they take it away. There was not room enough and I
have made it too small; but it never fitted him, anyway.
Now we turn the corner of the century with a new line of
monarchs--the Lancastrian kings.
Henry IV.; fourteen squares of YELLOW paper. (Fig. 17.)
This hen has laid the egg of a new dynasty and realizes the
magnitude of the event. She is giving notice in the usual way.
You notice I am improving in the construction of hens. At first
I made them too much like other animals, but this one is
orthodox. I mention this to encourage you. You will find that
the more you practice the more accurate you will become. I could
always draw animals, but before I was educated I could not tell
what kind they were when I got them done, but now I can. Keep up
your courage; it will be the same with you, although you may not
think it. This Henry died the year after Joan of Arc was born.
Henry V.; nine BLUE squares. (Fig. 18)
There you see him lost in meditation over the monument which
records the amazing figures of the battle of Agincourt. French
history says 20,000 Englishmen routed 80,000 Frenchmen there; and
English historians say that the French loss, in killed and
wounded, was 60,000.
Henry VI.; thirty-nine RED squares. (Fig. 19)
This is poor Henry VI., who reigned long and scored many
misfortunes and humiliations. Also two great disasters: he lost
France to Joan of Arc and he lost the throne and ended the
dynasty which Henry IV. had started in business with such good
prospects. In the picture we see him sad and weary and downcast,
with the scepter falling from his nerveless grasp. It is a
pathetic quenching of a sun which had risen in such splendor.
Edward IV.; twenty-two LIGHT-BROWN squares. (Fig. 20.)
That is a society editor, sitting there elegantly dressed,
with his legs crossed in that indolent way, observing the clothes
the ladies wear, so that he can describe them for his paper and
make them out finer than they are and get bribes for it and
become wealthy. That flower which he is wearing in his
buttonhole is a rose--a white rose, a York rose--and will serve
to remind us of the War of the Roses, and that the white one was
the winning color when Edward got the throne and dispossessed the
Edward V.; one-third of a BLACK square. (Fig. 21.)
His uncle Richard had him murdered in the tower. When you
get the reigns displayed upon the wall this one will be
conspicuous and easily remembered. It is the shortest one in
English history except Lady Jane Grey's, which was only nine
days. She is never officially recognized as a monarch of
England, but if you or I should ever occupy a throne we should
like to have proper notice taken of it; and it would be only fair
and right, too, particularly if we gained nothing by it and lost
our lives besides.
Richard III.; two WHITE squares. (Fig. 22.)
That is not a very good lion, but Richard was not a very
good king. You would think that this lion has two heads, but
that is not so; one is only a shadow. There would be shadows for
the rest of him, but there was not light enough to go round, it
being a dull day, with only fleeting sun-glimpses now and then.
Richard had a humped back and a hard heart, and fell at the
battle of Bosworth. I do not know the name of that flower in the
pot, but we will use it as Richard's trade-mark, for it is said
that it grows in only one place in the world--Bosworth Field--and
tradition says it never grew there until Richard's royal blood
warmed its hidden seed to life and made it grow.
Henry VII.; twenty-four BLUE squares. (Fig. 23.)
Henry VII. had no liking for wars and turbulence; he
preferred peace and quiet and the general prosperity which such
conditions create. He liked to sit on that kind of eggs on his
own private account as well as the nation's, and hatch them out
and count up their result. When he died he left his heir
2,000,000 pounds, which was a most unusual fortune for a king to
possess in those days. Columbus's great achievement gave him the
discovery-fever, and he sent Sebastian Cabot to the New World to
search out some foreign territory for England. That is Cabot's
ship up there in the corner. This was the first time that
England went far abroad to enlarge her estate--but not the last.
Henry VIII.; thirty-eight RED squares. (Fig. 24.)
That is Henry VIII. suppressing a monastery in his arrogant fashion.
Edward VI.; six squares of YELLOW paper. (Fig. 25.)
He is the last Edward to date. It is indicated by that
thing over his head, which is a LAST--shoemaker's last.
Mary; five squares of BLACK paper. (Fig. 26.)
The picture represents a burning martyr. He is in back of
the smoke. The first three letters of Mary's name and the first
three of the word martyr are the same. Martyrdom was going out
in her day and martyrs were becoming scarcer, but she made
several. For this reason she is sometimes called Bloody Mary.
This brings us to the reign of Elizabeth, after passing
through a period of nearly five hundred years of England's
history--492 to be exact. I think you may now be trusted to go
the rest of the way without further lessons in art or
inspirations in the matter of ideas. You have the scheme now,
and something in the ruler's name or career will suggest the
pictorial symbol. The effort of inventing such things will not
only help your memory, but will develop originality in art. See
what it has done for me. If you do not find the parlor wall big
enough for all of England's history, continue it into the dining-
room and into other rooms. This will make the walls interesting
and instructive and really worth something instead of being just
flat things to hold the house together.
1. Summer of 1899.
THE MEMORABLE ASSASSINATION
Note.--The assassination of the Empress of Austria at
Geneva, September 10, 1898, occurred during Mark Twain's Austrian
residence. The news came to him at Kaltenleutgeben, a summer
resort a little way out of Vienna. To his friend, the Rev. Jos.
H. Twichell, he wrote:
"That good and unoffending lady, the Empress, is killed by a
madman, and I am living in the midst of world-history again. The
Queen's Jubilee last year, the invasion of the Reichsrath by the
police, and now this murder, which will still be talked of and
described and painted a thousand a thousand years from now. To
have a personal friend of the wearer of two crowns burst in at
the gate in the deep dusk of the evening and say, in a voice
broken with tears, 'My God! the Empress is murdered,' and fly
toward her home before we can utter a question--why, it brings
the giant event home to you, makes you a part of it and
personally interested; it is as if your neighbor, Antony, should
come flying and say, 'Caesar is butchered--the head of the world
"Of course there is no talk but of this. The mourning is
universal and genuine, the consternation is stupefying. The
Austrian Empire is being draped with black. Vienna will be a
spectacle to see by next Saturday, when the funeral cort`ege
He was strongly moved by the tragedy, impelled to write
concerning it. He prepared the article which follows, but did
not offer it for publication, perhaps feeling that his own close
association with the court circles at the moment prohibited this
personal utterance. There appears no such reason for withholding
its publication now.
A. B. P.
The more one thinks of the assassination, the more imposing
and tremendous the event becomes. The destruction of a city is a
large event, but it is one which repeats itself several times in
a thousand years; the destruction of a third part of a nation by
plague and famine is a large event, but it has happened several
times in history; the murder of a king is a large event, but it
has been frequent.
The murder of an empress is the largest of all events. One
must go back about two thousand years to find an instance to put
with this one. The oldest family of unchallenged descent in
Christendom lives in Rome and traces its line back seventeen
hundred years, but no member of it has been present in the earth
when an empress was murdered, until now. Many a time during
these seventeen centuries members of that family have been
startled with the news of extraordinary events--the destruction
of cities, the fall of thrones, the murder of kings, the wreck of
dynasties, the extinction of religions, the birth of new systems
of government; and their descendants have been by to hear of it
and talk about it when all these things were repeated once,
twice, or a dozen times--but to even that family has come news at
last which is not staled by use, has no duplicates in the long
reach of its memory.
It is an event which confers a curious distinction upon
every individual now living in the world: he has stood alive and
breathing in the presence of an event such as has not fallen
within the experience of any traceable or untraceable ancestor of
his for twenty centuries, and it is not likely to fall within the
experience of any descendant of his for twenty more.
Time has made some great changes since the Roman days. The
murder of an empress then--even the assassination of Caesar
himself--could not electrify the world as this murder has
electrified it. For one reason, there was then not much of a
world to electrify; it was a small world, as to known bulk, and
it had rather a thin population, besides; and for another reason,
the news traveled so slowly that its tremendous initial thrill
wasted away, week by week and month by month, on the journey, and
by the time it reached the remoter regions there was but little
of it left. It was no longer a fresh event, it was a thing of
the far past; it was not properly news, it was history. But the
world is enormous now, and prodigiously populated--that is one
change; and another is the lightning swiftness of the flight of
tidings, good and bad. "The Empress is murdered!" When those
amazing words struck upon my ear in this Austrian village last
Saturday, three hours after the disaster, I knew that it was
already old news in London, Paris, Berlin, New York, San
Francisco, Japan, China, Melbourne, Cape Town, Bombay, Madras,
Calcutta, and that the entire globe with a single voice, was
cursing the perpetrator of it. Since the telegraph first began
to stretch itself wider and wider about the earth, larger and
increasingly larger areas of the world have, as time went on,
received simultaneously the shock of a great calamity; but this
is the first time in history that the entire surface of the globe
has been swept in a single instant with the thrill of so gigantic
And who is the miracle-worker who has furnished to the world
this spectacle? All the ironies are compacted in the answer. He
is at the bottom of the human ladder, as the accepted estimates
of degree and value go: a soiled and patched young loafer,
without gifts, without talents, without education, without
morals, without character, without any born charm or any acquired
one that wins or beguiles or attracts; without a single grace of
mind or heart or hand that any tramp or prostitute could envy
him; an unfaithful private in the ranks, an incompetent stone-
cutter, an inefficient lackey; in a word, a mangy, offensive,
empty, unwashed, vulgar, gross, mephitic, timid, sneaking, human
polecat. And it was within the privileges and powers of this
sarcasm upon the human race to reach up--up--up--and strike from
its far summit in the social skies the world's accepted ideal of
Glory and Might and Splendor and Sacredness! It realizes to us
what sorry shows and shadows we are. Without our clothes and our
pedestals we are poor things and much of a size; our dignities
are not real, our pomps are shams. At our best and stateliest we
are not suns, as we pretended, and teach, and believe, but only
candles; and any bummer can blow us out.
And now we get realized to us once more another thing which
we often forget--or try to: that no man has a wholly undiseased
mind; that in one way or another all men are mad. Many are mad
for money. When this madness is in a mild form it is harmless
and the man passes for sane; but when it develops powerfully and
takes possession of the man, it can make him cheat, rob, and
kill; and when he has got his fortune and lost it again it can
land him in the asylum or the suicide's coffin. Love is a
madness; if thwarted it develops fast; it can grow to a frenzy of
despair and make an otherwise sane and highly gifted prince, like
Rudolph, throw away the crown of an empire and snuff out his own
life. All the whole list of desires, predilections, aversions,
ambitions, passions, cares, griefs, regrets, remorses, are
incipient madness, and ready to grow, spread, and consume, when
the occasion comes. There are no healthy minds, and nothing
saves any man but accident--the accident of not having his malady
put to the supreme test.
One of the commonest forms of madness is the desire to be
noticed, the pleasure derived from being noticed. Perhaps it is
not merely common, but universal. In its mildest form it
doubtless is universal. Every child is pleased at being noticed;
many intolerable children put in their whole time in distressing
and idiotic effort to attract the attention of visitors; boys are
always "showing off"; apparently all men and women are glad and
grateful when they find that they have done a thing which has
lifted them for a moment out of obscurity and caused wondering
talk. This common madness can develop, by nurture, into a hunger
for notoriety in one, for fame in another. It is this madness
for being noticed and talked about which has invented kingship
and the thousand other dignities, and tricked them out with
pretty and showy fineries; it has made kings pick one another's
pockets, scramble for one another's crowns and estates, slaughter
one another's subjects; it has raised up prize-fighters, and
poets, and villages mayors, and little and big politicians, and
big and little charity-founders, and bicycle champions, and
banditti chiefs, and frontier desperadoes, and Napoleons.
Anything to get notoriety; anything to set the village, or the
township, or the city, or the State, or the nation, or the planet
shouting, "Look--there he goes--that is the man!" And in five
minutes' time, at no cost of brain, or labor, or genius this
mangy Italian tramp has beaten them all, transcended them all,
outstripped them all, for in time their names will perish; but by
the friendly help of the insane newspapers and courts and kings
and historians, his is safe and live and thunder in the world all
down the ages as long as human speech shall endure! Oh, if it
were not so tragic how ludicrous it would be!
She was so blameless, the Empress; and so beautiful, in mind
and heart, in person and spirit; and whether with a crown upon
her head or without it and nameless, a grace to the human race,
and almost a justification of its creation; WOULD be, indeed, but
that the animal that struck her down re-establishes the doubt.
In her character was every quality that in woman invites and
engages respect, esteem, affection, and homage. Her tastes, her
instincts, and her aspirations were all high and fine and all her
life her heart and brain were busy with activities of a noble
sort. She had had bitter griefs, but they did not sour her
spirit, and she had had the highest honors in the world's gift,
but she went her simple way unspoiled. She knew all ranks, and
won them all, and made them her friends. An English fisherman's
wife said, "When a body was in trouble she didn't send her help,
she brought it herself." Crowns have adorned others, but she
adorned her crowns.
It was a swift celebrity the assassin achieved. And it is
marked by some curious contrasts. At noon last, Saturday there
was no one in the world who would have considered
acquaintanceship with him a thing worth claiming or mentioning;
no one would have been vain of such an acquaintanceship; the
humblest honest boot-black would not have valued the fact that he
had met him or seen him at some time or other; he was sunk in
abysmal obscurity, he was away beneath the notice of the bottom
grades of officialdom. Three hours later he was the one subject
of conversation in the world, the gilded generals and admirals
and governors were discussing him, all the kings and queens and
emperors had put aside their other interests to talk about him.
And wherever there was a man, at the summit of the world or the
bottom of it, who by chance had at some time or other come across
that creature, he remembered it with a secret satisfaction, and
MENTIONED it--for it was a distinction, now! It brings human
dignity pretty low, and for a moment the thing is not quite
realizable--but it is perfectly true. If there is a king who can
remember, now, that he once saw that creature in a time past, he
has let that fact out, in a more or less studiedly casual and
indifferent way, some dozens of times during the past week. For
a king is merely human; the inside of him is exactly like the
inside of any other person; and it is human to find satisfaction
in being in a kind of personal way connected with amazing events.
We are all privately vain of such a thing; we are all alike; a
king is a king by accident; the reason the rest of us are not
kings is merely due to another accident; we are all made out of
the same clay, and it is a sufficient poor quality.
Below the kings, these remarks are in the air these days; I
know it well as if I were hearing them:
THE COMMANDER: "He was in my army."
THE GENERAL: "He was in my corps."
THE COLONEL: "He was in my regiment. A brute. I remember
THE CAPTAIN: "He was in my company. A troublesome
scoundrel. I remember him well."
THE SERGEANT: "Did I know him? As well as I know you.
Why, every morning I used to--" etc., etc.; a glad, long story,
told to devouring ears.
THE LANDLADY: "Many's the time he boarded with me. I can
show you his very room, and the very bed he slept in. And the
charcoal mark there on the wall--he made that. My little Johnny
saw him do it with his own eyes. Didn't you, Johnny?"
It is easy to see, by the papers, that the magistrate and
the constables and the jailer treasure up the assassin's daily
remarks and doings as precious things, and as wallowing this week
in seas of blissful distinction. The interviewer, too; he tried
to let on that he is not vain of his privilege of contact with
this man whom few others are allowed to gaze upon, but he is
human, like the rest, and can no more keep his vanity corked in
than could you or I.
Some think that this murder is a frenzied revolt against the
criminal militarism which is impoverishing Europe and driving the
starving poor mad. That has many crimes to answer for, but not
this one, I think. One may not attribute to this man a generous
indignation against the wrongs done the poor; one may not dignify
him with a generous impulse of any kind. When he saw his
photograph and said, "I shall be celebrated," he laid bare the
impulse that prompted him. It was a mere hunger for notoriety.
There is another confessed case of the kind which is as old as
history--the burning of the temple of Ephesus.
Among the inadequate attempts to account for the
assassination we must concede high rank to the many which have
described it as a "peculiarly brutal crime" and then added that
it was "ordained from above." I think this verdict will not be
popular "above." If the deed was ordained from above, there is
no rational way of making this prisoner even partially
responsible for it, and the Genevan court cannot condemn him
without manifestly committing a crime. Logic is logic, and by
disregarding its laws even the most pious and showy theologian
may be beguiled into preferring charges which should not be
ventured upon except in the shelter of plenty of lightning-rods.
I witnessed the funeral procession, in company with friends,
from the windows of the Krantz, Vienna's sumptuous new hotel. We
came into town in the middle of the forenoon, and I went on foot
from the station. Black flags hung down from all the houses; the
aspects were Sunday-like; the crowds on the sidewalks were quiet
and moved slowly; very few people were smoking; many ladies wore
deep mourning, gentlemen were in black as a rule; carriages were
speeding in all directions, with footmen and coachmen in black
clothes and wearing black cocked hats; the shops were closed; in
many windows were pictures of the Empress: as a beautiful young
bride of seventeen; as a serene and majestic lady with added
years; and finally in deep black and without ornaments--the
costume she always wore after the tragic death of her son nine
years ago, for her heart broke then, and life lost almost all its
value for her. The people stood grouped before these pictures,
and now and then one saw women and girls turn away wiping the
tears from their eyes.
In front of the Krantz is an open square; over the way was
the church where the funeral services would be held. It is small
and old and severely plain, plastered outside and whitewashed or
painted, and with no ornament but a statue of a monk in a niche
over the door, and above that a small black flag. But in its
crypt lie several of the great dead of the House of Habsburg,
among them Maria Theresa and Napoleon's son, the Duke of Reichstadt.
Hereabouts was a Roman camp, once, and in it the Emperor Marcus
Aurelius died a thousand years before the first Habsburg ruled
in Vienna, which was six hundred years ago and more.
The little church is packed in among great modern stores and
houses, and the windows of them were full of people. Behind the
vast plate-glass windows of the upper floors of the house on the
corner one glimpsed terraced masses of fine-clothed men and
women, dim and shimmery, like people under water. Under us the
square was noiseless, but it was full of citizens; officials in
fine uniforms were flitting about on errands, and in a doorstep
sat a figure in the uttermost raggedness of poverty, the feet
bare, the head bent humbly down; a youth of eighteen or twenty,
he was, and through the field-glass one could see that he was
tearing apart and munching riffraff that he had gathered
somewhere. Blazing uniforms flashed by him, making a sparkling
contrast with his drooping ruin of moldy rags, but he took not
notice; he was not there to grieve for a nation's disaster; he
had his own cares, and deeper. From two directions two long
files of infantry came plowing through the pack and press in
silence; there was a low, crisp order and the crowd vanished, the
square save the sidewalks was empty, the private mourner was
gone. Another order, the soldiers fell apart and enclosed the
square in a double-ranked human fence. It was all so swift,
noiseless, exact--like a beautifully ordered machine.
It was noon, now. Two hours of stillness and waiting
followed. Then carriages began to flow past and deliver the two
and three hundred court personages and high nobilities privileged
to enter the church. Then the square filled up; not with
civilians, but with army and navy officers in showy and beautiful
uniforms. They filled it compactly, leaving only a narrow
carriage path in front of the church, but there was no civilian
among them. And it was better so; dull clothes would have marred
the radiant spectacle. In the jam in front of the church, on its
steps, and on the sidewalk was a bunch of uniforms which made a
blazing splotch of color--intense red, gold, and white--which
dimmed the brilliancies around them; and opposite them on the
other side of the path was a bunch of cascaded bright-green
plumes above pale-blue shoulders which made another splotch of
splendor emphatic and conspicuous in its glowing surroundings.
It was a sea of flashing color all about, but these two groups
were the high notes. The green plumes were worn by forty or
fifty Austrian generals, the group opposite them were chiefly
Knights of Malta and knights of a German order. The mass of
heads in the square were covered by gilt helmets and by military
caps roofed with a mirror-like gaze, and the movements of the
wearers caused these things to catch the sun-rays, and the effect
was fine to see--the square was like a garden of richly colored
flowers with a multitude of blinding and flashing little suns
distributed over it.
Think of it--it was by command of that Italian loafer yonder
on his imperial throne in the Geneva prison that this splendid
multitude was assembled there; and the kings and emperors that
were entering the church from a side street were there by his will.
It is so strange, so unrealizable.
At three o'clock the carriages were still streaming by in
single file. At three-five a cardinal arrives with his
attendants; later some bishops; then a number of archdeacons--all
in striking colors that add to the show. At three-ten a
procession of priests passed along, with crucifix. Another one,
presently; after an interval, two more; at three-fifty another
one--very long, with many crosses, gold-embroidered robes, and
much white lace; also great pictured banners, at intervals,
receding into the distance.
A hum of tolling bells makes itself heard, but not sharply.
At three-fifty-eight a waiting interval. Presently a long
procession of gentlemen in evening dress comes in sight and
approaches until it is near to the square, then falls back
against the wall of soldiers at the sidewalk, and the white
shirt-fronts show like snowflakes and are very conspicuous where
so much warm color is all about.
A waiting pause. At four-twelve the head of the funeral
procession comes into view at last. First, a body of cavalry,
four abreast, to widen the path. Next, a great body of lancers,
in blue, with gilt helmets. Next, three six-horse mourning-
coaches; outriders and coachmen in black, with cocked hats and
white wigs. Next, troops in splendid uniforms, red, gold, and
white, exceedingly showy.
Now the multitude uncover. The soldiers present arms; there
is a low rumble of drums; the sumptuous great hearse approaches,
drawn at a walk by eight black horses plumed with black bunches
of nodding ostrich feathers; the coffin is borne into the church,
the doors are closed.
The multitude cover their heads, and the rest of the
procession moves by; first the Hungarian Guard in their
indescribably brilliant and picturesque and beautiful uniform,
inherited from the ages of barbaric splendor, and after them
other mounted forces, a long and showy array.
Then the shining crown in the square crumbled apart, a
wrecked rainbow, and melted away in radiant streams, and in the
turn of a wrist the three dirtiest and raggedest and cheerfulest
little slum-girls in Austria were capering about in the spacious
vacancy. It was a day of contrasts.
Twice the Empress entered Vienna in state. The first time
was in 1854, when she was a bride of seventeen, and then she rode
in measureless pomp and with blare of music through a fluttering
world of gay flags and decorations, down streets walled on both
hands with a press of shouting and welcoming subjects; and the
second time was last Wednesday, when she entered the city in her
coffin and moved down the same streets in the dead of the night
under swaying black flags, between packed human walls again; but
everywhere was a deep stillness, now--a stillness emphasized,
rather than broken, by the muffled hoofbeats of the long
cavalcade over pavements cushioned with sand, and the low sobbing
of gray-headed women who had witnessed the first entry forty-four
years before, when she and they were young--and unaware!
A character in Baron von Berger's recent fairy drama
"Habsburg" tells about the first coming of the girlish Empress-
Queen, and in his history draws a fine picture: I cannot make a
close translation of it, but will try to convey the spirit of the
I saw the stately pageant pass:
In her high place I saw the Empress-Queen:
I could not take my eyes away
From that fair vision, spirit-like and pure,
That rose serene, sublime, and figured to my sense
A noble Alp far lighted in the blue,
That in the flood of morning rends its veil of cloud
And stands a dream of glory to the gaze
Of them that in the Valley toil and plod.
A SCRAP OF CURIOUS HISTORY
Marion City, on the Mississippi River, in the State of
Missouri--a village; time, 1845. La Bourboule-les-Bains, France
--a village; time, the end of June, 1894. I was in the one
village in that early time; I am in the other now. These times
and places are sufficiently wide apart, yet today I have the
strange sense of being thrust back into that Missourian village
and of reliving certain stirring days that I lived there so long
Last Saturday night the life of the President of the French
Republic was taken by an Italian assassin. Last night a mob
surrounded our hotel, shouting, howling, singing the
"Marseillaise," and pelting our windows with sticks and stones;
for we have Italian waiters, and the mob demanded that they be
turned out of the house instantly--to be drubbed, and then driven
out of the village. Everybody in the hotel remained up until far
into the night, and experienced the several kinds of terror which
one reads about in books which tell of nigh attacks by Italians
and by French mobs: the growing roar of the oncoming crowd; the
arrival, with rain of stones and a crash of glass; the withdrawal
to rearrange plans--followed by a silence ominous, threatening,
and harder to bear than even the active siege and the noise. The
landlord and the two village policemen stood their ground, and at
last the mob was persuaded to go away and leave our Italians in
peace. Today four of the ringleaders have been sentenced to
heavy punishment of a public sort--and are become local heroes,
That is the very mistake which was at first made in the
Missourian village half a century ago. The mistake was repeated
and repeated--just as France is doing in these later months.
In our village we had our Ravochals, our Henrys, our
Vaillants; and in a humble way our Cesario--I hope I have spelled
this name wrong. Fifty years ago we passed through, in all
essentials, what France has been passing through during the past
two or three years, in the matter of periodical frights, horrors,
In several details the parallels are quaintly exact. In
that day, for a man to speak out openly and proclaim himself an
enemy of negro slavery was simply to proclaim himself a madman.
For he was blaspheming against the holiest thing known to a
Missourian, and could NOT be in his right mind. For a man to
proclaim himself an anarchist in France, three years ago, was to
proclaim himself a madman--he could not be in his right mind.
Now the original first blasphemer against any institution
profoundly venerated by a community is quite sure to be in
earnest; his followers and imitators may be humbugs and self-
seekers, but he himself is sincere--his heart is in his protest.
Robert Hardy was our first ABOLITIONIST--awful name! He was
a journeyman cooper, and worked in the big cooper-shop belonging
to the great pork-packing establishment which was Marion City's
chief pride and sole source of prosperity. He was a New-
Englander, a stranger. And, being a stranger, he was of course
regarded as an inferior person--for that has been human nature
from Adam down--and of course, also, he was made to feel
unwelcome, for this is the ancient law with man and the other
animals. Hardy was thirty years old, and a bachelor; pale, given
to reverie and reading. He was reserved, and seemed to prefer
the isolation which had fallen to his lot. He was treated to
many side remarks by his fellows, but as he did not resent them
it was decided that he was a coward.
All of a sudden he proclaimed himself an abolitionist--
straight out and publicly! He said that negro slavery was a
crime, an infamy. For a moment the town was paralyzed with
astonishment; then it broke into a fury of rage and swarmed
toward the cooper-shop to lynch Hardy. But the Methodist
minister made a powerful speech to them and stayed their hands.
He proved to them that Hardy was insane and not responsible for
his words; that no man COULD be sane and utter such words.
So Hardy was saved. Being insane, he was allowed to go on
talking. He was found to be good entertainment. Several nights
running he made abolition speeches in the open air, and all the
town flocked to hear and laugh. He implored them to believe him
sane and sincere, and have pity on the poor slaves, and take
measurements for the restoration of their stolen rights, or in no
long time blood would flow--blood, blood, rivers of blood!
It was great fun. But all of a sudden the aspect of things
changed. A slave came flying from Palmyra, the county-seat, a
few miles back, and was about to escape in a canoe to Illinois
and freedom in the dull twilight of the approaching dawn, when
the town constable seized him. Hardy happened along and tried to
rescue the negro; there was a struggle, and the constable did not
come out of it alive. Hardly crossed the river with the negro,
and then came back to give himself up. All this took time, for
the Mississippi is not a French brook, like the Seine, the Loire,
and those other rivulets, but is a real river nearly a mile wide.
The town was on hand in force by now, but the Methodist preacher
and the sheriff had already made arrangements in the interest of
order; so Hardy was surrounded by a strong guard and safely
conveyed to the village calaboose in spite of all the effort of
the mob to get hold of him. The reader will have begun to
perceive that this Methodist minister was a prompt man; a prompt
man, with active hands and a good headpiece. Williams was his
name--Damon Williams; Damon Williams in public, Damnation Williams
in private, because he was so powerful on that theme and so frequent.
The excitement was prodigious. The constable was the first
man who had ever been killed in the town. The event was by long
odds the most imposing in the town's history. It lifted the
humble village into sudden importance; its name was in
everybody's mouth for twenty miles around. And so was the name
of Robert Hardy--Robert Hardy, the stranger, the despised. In a
day he was become the person of most consequence in the region,
the only person talked about. As to those other coopers, they
found their position curiously changed--they were important
people, or unimportant, now, in proportion as to how large or how
small had been their intercourse with the new celebrity. The two
or three who had really been on a sort of familiar footing with
him found themselves objects of admiring interest with the public
and of envy with their shopmates.
The village weekly journal had lately gone into new hands.
The new man was an enterprising fellow, and he made the most of
the tragedy. He issued an extra. Then he put up posters
promising to devote his whole paper to matters connected with the
great event--there would be a full and intensely interesting
biography of the murderer, and even a portrait of him. He was as
good as his word. He carved the portrait himself, on the back of
a wooden type--and a terror it was to look at. It made a great
commotion, for this was the first time the village paper had ever
contained a picture. The village was very proud. The output of
the paper was ten times as great as it had ever been before, yet
every copy was sold.
When the trial came on, people came from all the farms
around, and from Hannibal, and Quincy, and even from Keokuk; and
the court-house could hold only a fraction of the crowd that
applied for admission. The trial was published in the village
paper, with fresh and still more trying pictures of the accused.
Hardy was convicted, and hanged--a mistake. People came
from miles around to see the hanging; they brought cakes and
cider, also the women and children, and made a picnic of the
matter. It was the largest crowd the village had ever seen. The
rope that hanged Hardy was eagerly bought up, in inch samples,
for everybody wanted a memento of the memorable event.
Martyrdom gilded with notoriety has its fascinations.
Within one week afterward four young lightweights in the village
proclaimed themselves abolitionists! In life Hardy had not been
able to make a convert; everybody laughed at him; but nobody
could laugh at his legacy. The four swaggered around with their
slouch-hats pulled down over their faces, and hinted darkly at
awful possibilities. The people were troubled and afraid, and
showed it. And they were stunned, too; they could not understand
it. "Abolitionist" had always been a term of shame and horror;
yet here were four young men who were not only not ashamed to
bear that name, but were grimly proud of it. Respectable young
men they were, too--of good families, and brought up in the
church. Ed Smith, the printer's apprentice, nineteen, had been
the head Sunday-school boy, and had once recited three thousand
Bible verses without making a break. Dick Savage, twenty, the
baker's apprentice; Will Joyce, twenty-two, journeyman
blacksmith; and Henry Taylor, twenty-four, tobacco-stemmer--were
the other three. They were all of a sentimental cast; they were
all romance-readers; they all wrote poetry, such as it was; they
were all vain and foolish; but they had never before been
suspected of having anything bad in them.
They withdrew from society, and grew more and more
mysterious and dreadful. They presently achieved the distinction
of being denounced by names from the pulpit--which made an
immense stir! This was grandeur, this was fame. They were
envied by all the other young fellows now. This was natural.
Their company grew--grew alarmingly. They took a name. It was a
secret name, and was divulged to no outsider; publicly they were
simply the abolitionists. They had pass-words, grips, and signs;
they had secret meetings; their initiations were conducted with
gloomy pomps and ceremonies, at midnight.
They always spoke of Hardy as "the Martyr," and every little
while they moved through the principal street in procession--at
midnight, black-robed, masked, to the measured tap of the solemn
drum--on pilgrimage to the Martyr's grave, where they went
through with some majestic fooleries and swore vengeance upon his
murderers. They gave previous notice of the pilgrimage by small
posters, and warned everybody to keep indoors and darken all
houses along the route, and leave the road empty. These warnings
were obeyed, for there was a skull and crossbones at the top of
When this kind of thing had been going on about eight weeks,
a quite natural thing happened. A few men of character and grit
woke up out of the nightmare of fear which had been stupefying
their faculties, and began to discharge scorn and scoffings at
themselves and the community for enduring this child's-play; and
at the same time they proposed to end it straightway. Everybody
felt an uplift; life was breathed into their dead spirits; their
courage rose and they began to feel like men again. This was on
a Saturday. All day the new feeling grew and strengthened; it
grew with a rush; it brought inspiration and cheer with it.
Midnight saw a united community, full of zeal and pluck, and with
a clearly defined and welcome piece of work in front of it. The
best organizer and strongest and bitterest talker on that great
Saturday was the Presbyterian clergyman who had denounced the
original four from his pulpit--Rev. Hiram Fletcher--and he
promised to use his pulpit in the public interest again now. On
the morrow he had revelations to make, he said--secrets of the
But the revelations were never made. At half past two in
the morning the dead silence of the village was broken by a
crashing explosion, and the town patrol saw the preacher's house
spring in a wreck of whirling fragments into the sky. The
preacher was killed, together with a negro woman, his only slave
The town was paralyzed again, and with reason. To struggle
against a visible enemy is a thing worth while, and there is a
plenty of men who stand always ready to undertake it; but to
struggle against an invisible one--an invisible one who sneaks in
and does his awful work in the dark and leaves no trace--that is
another matter. That is a thing to make the bravest tremble and
The cowed populace were afraid to go to the funeral. The
man who was to have had a packed church to hear him expose and
denounce the common enemy had but a handful to see him buried.
The coroner's jury had brought in a verdict of "death by the
visitation of God," for no witness came forward; if any existed
they prudently kept out of the way. Nobody seemed sorry. Nobody
wanted to see the terrible secret society provoked into the
commission of further outrages. Everybody wanted the tragedy
hushed up, ignored, forgotten, if possible.
And so there was a bitter surprise and an unwelcome one when
Will Joyce, the blacksmith's journeyman, came out and proclaimed
himself the assassin! Plainly he was not minded to be robbed of
his glory. He made his proclamation, and stuck to it. Stuck to
it, and insisted upon a trial. Here was an ominous thing; here
was a new and peculiarly formidable terror, for a motive was
revealed here which society could not hope to deal with
successfully--VANITY, thirst for notoriety. If men were going to
kill for notoriety's sake, and to win the glory of newspaper
renown, a big trial, and a showy execution, what possible
invention of man could discourage or deter them? The town was in
a sort of panic; it did not know what to do.
However, the grand jury had to take hold of the matter--it
had no choice. It brought in a true bill, and presently the case
went to the county court. The trial was a fine sensation. The
prisoner was the principal witness for the prosecution. He gave
a full account of the assassination; he furnished even the
minutest particulars: how he deposited his keg of powder and
laid his train--from the house to such-and-such a spot; how
George Ronalds and Henry Hart came along just then, smoking, and
he borrowed Hart's cigar and fired the train with it, shouting,
"Down with all slave-tyrants!" and how Hart and Ronalds made no
effort to capture him, but ran away, and had never come forward
to testify yet.
But they had to testify now, and they did--and pitiful it
was to see how reluctant they were, and how scared. The crowded
house listened to Joyce's fearful tale with a profound and
breathless interest, and in a deep hush which was not broken till
he broke it himself, in concluding, with a roaring repetition of his
"Death to all slave-tyrants!"--which came so unexpectedly and so
startlingly that it made everyone present catch his breath and gasp.
The trial was put in the paper, with biography and large portrait,
with other slanderous and insane pictures, and the edition sold
The execution of Joyce was a fine and picturesque thing. It
drew a vast crowd. Good places in trees and seats on rail fences
sold for half a dollar apiece; lemonade and gingerbread-stands
had great prosperity. Joyce recited a furious and fantastic and
denunciatory speech on the scaffold which had imposing passages
of school-boy eloquence in it, and gave him a reputation on the
spot as an orator, and his name, later, in the society's records,
of the "Martyr Orator." He went to his death breathing slaughter and
charging his society to "avenge his murder." If he knew anything of
human nature he knew that to plenty of young fellows present in that
great crowd he was a grand hero--and enviably situated.
He was hanged. It was a mistake. Within a month from his
death the society which he had honored had twenty new members,
some of them earnest, determined men. They did not court
distinction in the same way, but they celebrated his martyrdom.
The crime which had been obscure and despised had become lofty
Such things were happening all over the country. Wild-
brained martyrdom was succeeded by uprising and organization.
Then, in natural order, followed riot, insurrection, and the
wrack and restitutions of war. It was bound to come, and it
would naturally come in that way. It has been the manner of
reform since the beginning of the world.
SWITZERLAND, THE CRADLE OF LIBERTY
Interlaken, Switzerland, 1891.
It is a good many years since I was in Switzerland last. In
that remote time there was only one ladder railway in the
country. That state of things is all changed. There isn't a
mountain in Switzerland now that hasn't a ladder railroad or two
up its back like suspenders; indeed, some mountains are latticed
with them, and two years hence all will be. In that day the
peasant of the high altitudes will have to carry a lantern when
he goes visiting in the night to keep from stumbling over
railroads that have been built since his last round. And also in
that day, if there shall remain a high-altitude peasant whose
potato-patch hasn't a railroad through it, it would make him as
conspicuous as William Tell.
However, there are only two best ways to travel through
Switzerland. The first best is afloat. The second best is by
open two-horse carriage. One can come from Lucerne to Interlaken
over the Brunig by ladder railroad in an hour or so now, but you
can glide smoothly in a carriage in ten, and have two hours for
luncheon at noon--for luncheon, not for rest. There is no
fatigue connected with the trip. One arrives fresh in spirit and
in person in the evening--no fret in his heart, no grime on his
face, no grit in his hair, not a cinder in his eye. This is the
right condition of mind and body, the right and due preparation
for the solemn event which closed the day--stepping with
metaphorically uncovered head into the presence of the most
impressive mountain mass that the globe can show--the Jungfrau.
The stranger's first feeling, when suddenly confronted by that
towering and awful apparition wrapped in its shroud of snow, is
breath-taking astonishment. It is as if heaven's gates had swung
open and exposed the throne.
It is peaceful here and pleasant at Interlaken. Nothing
going on--at least nothing but brilliant life-giving sunshine.
There are floods and floods of that. One may properly speak of
it as "going on," for it is full of the suggestion of activity;
the light pours down with energy, with visible enthusiasm. This
is a good atmosphere to be in, morally as well as physically.
After trying the political atmosphere of the neighboring
monarchies, it is healing and refreshing to breathe air that has
known no taint of slavery for six hundred years, and to come
among a people whose political history is great and fine, and
worthy to be taught in all schools and studied by all races and
peoples. For the struggle here throughout the centuries has not
been in the interest of any private family, or any church, but in
the interest of the whole body of the nation, and for shelter and
protection of all forms of belief. This fact is colossal. If
one would realize how colossal it is, and of what dignity and
majesty, let him contrast it with the purposes and objects of the
Crusades, the siege of York, the War of the Roses, and other
historic comedies of that sort and size.
Last week I was beating around the Lake of Four Cantons, and
I saw Rutli and Altorf. Rutli is a remote little patch of
meadow, but I do not know how any piece of ground could be holier
or better worth crossing oceans and continents to see, since it
was there that the great trinity of Switzerland joined hands six
centuries ago and swore the oath which set their enslaved and
insulted country forever free; and Altorf is also honorable
ground and worshipful, since it was there that William, surnamed
Tell (which interpreted means "The foolish talker"--that is to
say, the too-daring talker), refused to bow to Gessler's hat. Of
late years the prying student of history has been delighting
himself beyond measure over a wonderful find which he has made--
to wit, that Tell did not shoot the apple from his son's head.
To hear the students jubilate, one would suppose that the
question of whether Tell shot the apple or didn't was an
important matter; whereas it ranks in importance exactly with the
question of whether Washington chopped down the cherry-tree or
didn't. The deeds of Washington, the patriot, are the essential
thing; the cherry-tree incident is of no consequence. To prove
that Tell did shoot the apple from his son's head would merely
prove that he had better nerve than most men and was skillful
with a bow as a million others who preceded and followed him, but
not one whit more so. But Tell was more and better than a mere
marksman, more and better than a mere cool head; he was a type;
he stands for Swiss patriotism; in his person was represented a
whole people; his spirit was their spirit--the spirit which would
bow to none but God, the spirit which said this in words and
confirmed it with deeds. There have always been Tells in
Switzerland--people who would not bow. There was a sufficiency
of them at Rutli; there were plenty of them at Murten; plenty at
Grandson; there are plenty today. And the first of them all--the
very first, earliest banner-bearer of human freedom in this
world--was not a man, but a woman--Stauffacher's wife. There she
looms dim and great, through the haze of the centuries,
delivering into her husband's ear that gospel of revolt which was
to bear fruit in the conspiracy of Rutli and the birth of the
first free government the world had ever seen.
From this Victoria Hotel one looks straight across a flat of
trifling width to a lofty mountain barrier, which has a gateway
in it shaped like an inverted pyramid. Beyond this gateway
arises the vast bulk of the Jungfrau, a spotless mass of gleaming
snow, into the sky. The gateway, in the dark-colored barrier,
makes a strong frame for the great picture. The somber frame and
the glowing snow-pile are startlingly contrasted. It is this
frame which concentrates and emphasizes the glory of the Jungfrau
and makes it the most engaging and beguiling and fascinating