Part 2 out of 9
I look upon life insurance as a great comfort, not only to the
beneficiary, but to the insured, who very rarely lives to realize anything
pecuniarily from his venture. Twice I have almost raised my wife to
affluence and cast a gloom over the community in which I lived, but
something happened to the physician for a few days so that he could not
attend to me, and I recovered. For nearly two years I was under the
doctor's care. He had his finger on my pulse or in my pocket all the time.
He was a young western physician, who attended me on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The rest of the week he devoted his medical skill to horses that were
mentally broken down. He said he attended me largely for my society. I
felt flattered to know that he enjoyed my society after he had been thrown
among horses all the week that had much greater advantages than I.
My wife at first objected seriously to an insurance on my life, and said
she would never, never touch a dollar of the money if I were to die, but
after I had been sick nearly two years, and my disposition had suffered a
good deal, she said that I need not delay the obsequies on that account.
But the life insurance slipped through my fingers somehow, and I
In these days of dynamite and roller rinks, and the gory meat-ax of a new
administration, we ought to make some provision for the future.
The Opium Habit.
I have always had a horror of opiates of all kinds. They are so seductive
and so still in their operations. They steal through the blood like a wolf
on the trail, and they seize upon the heart at last with their white fangs
till it is still forever.
Up the Laramie there is a cluster of ranches at the base of the Medicine
Bow, near the north end of Sheep Mountain, and in sight of the glittering,
eternal frost of the snowy range. These ranches are the homes of the young
men from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Ohio, and now there are several
"younger sons" of Old England, with herds of horses, steers and sheep,
worth millions of dollars. These young men are not of the kind of whom the
metropolitan ass writes as saying "youbetcherlife," and calling everybody
"pardner." They are many of them college graduates, who can brand a wild
Maverick or furnish the easy gestures for a Strauss waltz.
They wear human clothes, talk in the United States language, and have a
bank account. This spring they may be wearing chaparajos and swinging a
quirt through the thin air, and in July they may be at Long Branch, or
coloring a meerschaum pipe among the Alps.
Well, a young man whom we will call Curtis lived at one of these ranches
years ago, and, though a quiet, mind-your-own-business fellow, who had
absolutely no enemies among his companions, he had the misfortune to incur
the wrath of a tramp sheep-herder, who waylaid Curtis one afternoon and
shot him dead as he sat in his buggy. Curtis wasn't armed. He didn't dream
of trouble till he drove home from town, and, as he passed through the
gates of a corral, saw the hairy face of the herder, and at the same
moment the flash of a Winchester rifle. That was all.
A rancher came into town and telegraphed to Curtis' father, and then a
half dozen citizens went out to help capture the herder, who had fled to
the sage brush of the foot-hills.
They didn't get back till toward daybreak, but they brought the herder
with them, I saw him in the gray of the morning, lying in a coarse gray
blanket, on the floor of the engine house. He was dead.
I asked, as a reporter, how he came to his death, and they told me--opium!
I said, did I understand you to say "ropium?" They said no, it was opium.
The murderer had taken poison when he found that escape was impossible.
I was present at the inquest, so that I could report the case. There was
very little testimony, but all the evidence seemed to point to the fact
that life was extinct, and a verdict of death by his own hand was
It was the first opium work I had ever seen, and it aroused my curiosity.
Death by opium, it seems, leaves a dark purple ring around the neck. I did
not know this before. People who die by opium also tie their hands
together before they die. This is one of the eccentricities of opium
poisoning that I have never seen laid down in the books. I bequeath it to
medical science. Whenever I run up against a new scientific discovery, I
just hand it right over to the public without cost.
Ever since the above incident, I have been very apprehensive about people
who seem to be likely to form the opium habit. It is one of the most
deadly of narcotics, especially in a new country. High up in the pure
mountain atmosphere, this man could not secure enough air to prolong life,
and he expired. In a land where clear, crisp air and delightful scenery
are abundant, he turned his back upon them both and passed away. Is it not
sad to contemplate?
More Paternal Correspondence.
My dear son.--I tried to write to you last week, but didn't get around to
it, owing to circumstances. I went away on a little business tower for a
few days on the cars, and then when I got home the sociable broke loose in
our once happy home.
While on my commercial tower down the Omehaw railroad buying a new
well-diggin' machine of which I had heard a good deal pro and con, I had
the pleasure of riding on one of them sleeping-cars that we read so much
I am going on 50 years old, and that's the first time I ever slumbered at
the rate of forty-five miles per hour, including stops.
I got acquainted with the porter, and he blacked my boots in the night
unbeknownst to me, while I was engaged in slumber. He must have thought
that I was your father, and that we rolled in luxury at home all the time,
and that it was a common thing for us to have our boots blacked by
menials. When I left the car this porter brushed my clothes till the hot
flashes ran up my spinal column, and I told him that he had treated me
square, and I rung his hand when he held it out toards me, and I told him
that at any time he wanted a good, cool drink of buttermilk, to just
holler through our telephone. We had the sociable at our house last week,
and when I got home your mother set me right to work borryin' chairs and
dishes. She had solicited some cakes and other things. I don't know
whether you are on the skedjule by which these sociables are run or not.
The idea is a novel one to me.
The sisters in our set, onct in so often, turn their houses wrong side out
for the purpose of raising four dollars to apply on the church debt. When
I was a boy we worshiped with less frills than they do now. Now it seems
that the debt is a part of the worship.
Well, we had a good time and used up 150 cookies in a short time. Part of
these cookies was devoured and the balance was trod into our all-wool
carpet. Several of the young people got to playing Copenhagen in the
setting-room and stepped on the old cat in such a way as to disfigure him
for life. They also had a disturbance in the front room and knocked off
some of the plastering.
So your mother is feeling slim and I am not very chipper myself. I hope
that you are working hard at your books so that you will be an ornament to
society. Society is needing some ornaments very much. I sincerely hope
that you will not begin to monkey with rum. I should hate to have you with
a felon's doom or fill a drunkard's grave. If anybody has got to fill a
drunkard's grave, let him do it himself. What has the drunkard ever done
for you, that you should fill his grave for him?
[Illustration: ROUGH ON THE OLD CAT.]
I expect you to do right, as near as possible. You will not do exactly
right all the time, but try to strike a good average. I do not expect you
to let your studies encroach, too much on your polo, but try to unite the
two so that you will not break down under the strain. I should feel sad
and mortified to have you come home a physical wreck. I think one physical
wreck in a family is enough, and I am rapidly getting where I can do the
entire physical wreck business for our neighborhood.
I see by your picture that you have got one of them pleated coats with a
belt around it, and short pants. They make you look as you did when I used
to spank you in years gone by, and I feel the same old desire to do it now
that I did then. Old and feeble as I am, it seems to me as though I could
spank a boy that wears knickerbocker pants buttoned onto a Garabaldy waist
and a pleated jacket. If it wasn't for them cute little camel's hair
whiskers of yours I would not believe that you had grown to be a large,
expensive boy, grown up with thoughts. Some of the thoughts you express in
your letters are far beyond your years. Do you think them yourself, or is
there some boy in the school that thinks all the thoughts for the rest?
Some of your letters are so deep that your mother and I can hardly grapple
with them. One of them, especially, was so full of foreign stuff that you
had got out of a bill of fare, that we will have to wait till you come
home before we can take it in. I can talk a little Chippewa, but that is
all the foreign language I am familiar with. When I was young we had to
get our foreign languages the best we could, so I studied Chippewa without
a master. A Chippewa chief took me into his camp and kept me there for
some time while I acquired his language. He became so much attached to me
that I had great difficulty in coming away. I wish you would write in the
United States dialect as much as possible, and not try to paralize your
parents with imported expressions that come too high for poor people.
Remember that you are the only boy we've got, and we are only going
through the motions of living here for your sake. For us the day is
wearing out, and it is now way long into the shank of the evening. All we
ask of you is to improve on the old people. You can see where I fooled
myself, and you can do better. Read and write, and sifer, and polo, and
get nolledge, and try not to be ashamed of your uncultivated parents.
When you get that checkered little sawed-off coat on, and that pair of
knee panties, and that poker-dot necktie, and the sassy little boys holler
"rats" when you pass by, and your heart is bowed down, remember that, no
matter how foolish you may look, your parents will never sour on you.
My name is Twombley, G.O.P. Twombley is my full name and I have had a
checkered career. I thought it would be best to have my career checked
right through, so I did so.
My home is in the Wasatch Mountains. Far up, where I can see the long,
green, winding valley of the Jordan, like a glorious panorama below me, I
dwell. I keep a large herd of Angora goats. That is my business. The
Angora goat is a beautiful animal--in a picture. But out of a picture he
has a style of perspiration that invites adverse criticism.
Still, it is an independent life, and one that has its advantages, too.
When I first came to Utah, I saw one day, in Salt Lake City, a young girl
arrive. She was in the heyday of life, but she couldn't talk our language.
Her face was oval; rather longer than it was wide, I noticed, and, though
she was still young, there were traces of care and other foreign
substances plainly written there.
She was an emigrant, about seventeen years of age, and, though she had
been in Salt Lake City an hour and a half, she was still unmarried.
She was about the medium height, with blue eyes, that somehow, as you
examined them carefully in the full, ruddy light of a glorious September
afternoon, seemed to resemble each other. Both of them were that way,
I know not what gave me the courage, but I stepped to her side, and in a
low voice told her of my love and asked her to be mine.
She looked askance at me. Nobody ever did that to me before and lived to
tell the tale. But her sex made me overlook it. Had she been any other sex
that I can think of, I would have resented it. But I would not strike a
woman, especially when I had not been married to her and had no right to
I turned on my heel and I went away. I most always turn on my heel when I
go away. If I did not turn on my own heel when I went away, whose heel
would a lonely man like me turn upon?
Years rolled by. I did nothing to prevent it. Still that face came to me
in my lonely hut far up in the mountains. That look still rankled in my
memory. Before that my memory had been all right. Nothing had ever rankled
in it very much. Let the careless reader who never had his memory rankle
in hot weather, pass this by. This story is not for him.
After our first conversation we did not meet again for three years, and
then by the merest accident. I had been out for a whole afternoon, hunting
an elderly goat that had grown childish and irresponsible. He had wandered
away, and for several days I had been unable to find him. So I sought for
him till darkness found me several miles from my cabin. I realized at once
that I must hurry back, or lose my way and spend the night in the
mountains. The darkness became more rapidly obvious. My way became more
and more uncertain.
Finally I fell down an old prospect shaft. I then resolved to remain where
I was until I could decide what was best to be done. If I had known that
the prospect shaft was there, I would have gone another way. There was
another way that I could have gone, but it did not occur to me until too
I hated to spend the next few weeks in the shaft, for I had not locked up
my cabin when I left it, and I feared that someone might get in while I
was absent and play on the piano. I had also set a batch of bread and two
hens that morning, and all of these would be in sad knead of me before I
could get my business into such shape that I could return.
I could not tell accurately how long I had been in the shaft, for I had no
matches by which to see my watch. I also had no watch.
All at once, someone fell down the shaft. I knew that it was a woman,
because she did not swear when she landed at the bottom. Still, this could
be accounted for in another way. She was unconscious when I picked her up.
I did not know what to do, I was perfectly beside myself, and so was she.
I had read in novels that when a woman became unconscious people generally
chafed her hands, but I did not know whether I ought to chafe the hands of
a person to whom I had never been introduced.
I could have administered alcoholic stimulants to her but I had neglected
to provide myself with them when I fell down the shaft. This should be a
warning to people who habitually go around the country without alcoholic
Finally she breathed a long sigh and murmured, "where am I?" I told her
that I did not know, but wherever it might be, we were safe, and that
whatever she might say to me, I would promise her, should go no farther.
Then there was a long pause.
To encourage further conversation I asked her if she did not think we had
been having a rather backward spring. She said we had, but she prophesied
a long, open fall.
Then there was another pause, after which I offered her a seat on an old
red empty powder can. Still, she seemed shy and reserved. I would make a
remark to which she would reply briefly, and then there would be a pause
of a little over an hour. Still it seemed longer.
Suddenly the idea of marriage presented itself to my mind. If we never got
out of the shaft, of course an engagement need not be announced. No one
had ever plighted his or her troth at the bottom of a prospect shaft
before. It was certainly unique, to say the least. I suggested it to her.
She demurred to this on the ground that our acquaintance had been so
brief, and that we had never been thrown together before. I told her that
this would be no objection, and that my parents were so far away that I
did not think they would make any trouble about it.
She said that she did not mind her parents so much as she did the violent
temper of her husband.
I asked her if her husband had ever indulged in polygamy. She replied that
he had, frequently. He had several previous wives. I convinced her that in
the eyes of the law, and under the Edmunds bill, she was not bound to him.
Still she feared the consequences of his wrath.
Then I suggested a desperate plan. We would elope!
I was now thirty-seven years old, and yet had never eloped. Neither had
she. So, when the first streaks of rosy dawn crept across the soft,
autumnal sky and touched the rich and royal coloring on the rugged sides
of the grim old mountains, we got out of the shaft and eloped.
I desire to state that my position as United States Cyclonist for this
Judicial District is now vacant. I resigned on the 9th day of September,
I have not the necessary personal magnetism to look a cyclone in the eye
and make it quail. I am stern and even haughty in my intercourse with men,
but when a Manitoba simoon takes me by the brow of my pantaloons and
throws me across Township 28, Range 18, West of the 5th Principal
Meridian, I lose my mental reserve and become anxious and even taciturn.
For thirty years I had yearned to see a grown up cyclone, of the
ring-tail-puller variety, mop up the green earth with huge forest trees
and make the landscape look tired. On the 9th day of September, A.D. 1884,
my morbid curiosity was gratified.
As the people came out into the forest with lanterns and pulled me out of
the crotch of a basswood tree with a "tackle and fall," I remember I told
them I didn't yearn for any more atmospheric phenomena. The old desire for
a hurricane that would blow a cow through a penitentiary was satiated. I
remember when the doctor pried the bones of my leg together, in order to
kind of draw my attention away from the limb, he asked me how I liked the
fall style of Zephyr in that locality.
I said it was all right, what there was of it. I said this in a tone of
Cyclones are of two kinds, viz: the dark maroon cyclone; and the iron gray
cyclone with pale green mane and tail. It was the latter kind I frolicked
with on the above-named date.
My brother and I were riding along in the grand old forest, and I had just
been singing a few bars from the opera of "Whoop 'em Up, Lizzie Jane,"
when I noticed that the wind was beginning to sough through the trees.
Soon after that, I noticed that I was soughing through the trees also, and
I am really no slouch of a sougher, either, when I get started.
The horse was hanging by the breeching from the bough of a large butternut
tree, waiting for some one to come and pick him.
[Illustration: WAITING TO BE PICKED.]
I did not see my brother at first, but after a while he disengaged himself
from a rail fence and came where I was hanging, wrong end up, with my
personal effects spilling out of my pockets. I told him that as soon as
the wind kind of softened down, I wished he would go and pick the horse.
He did so, and at midnight a party of friends carried me into town on a
stretcher. It was quite an ovation. To think of a torchlight procession
coming way out there into the woods at midnight, and carrying me into town
on their shoulders in triumph! And yet I was once only a poor boy!
It shows what may be accomplished by anyone if he will persevere and
insist on living a different life.
The cyclone is a natural phenomenon, enjoying the most robust health. It
may be a pleasure for a man with great will power and an iron constitution
to study more carefully into the habits of the cyclone, but as far as I am
concerned, individually, I could worry along some way if we didn't have a
phenomenon in the house from one year's end to another.
As I sit here, with my leg in a silicate of soda corset, and watch the
merry throng promenading down the street, or mingling in the giddy
torchlight procession, I cannot repress a feeling toward a cyclone that
almost amounts to disgust.
The Arabian Language.
The Arabian language belongs to what is called the Semitic or Shemitic
family of languages, and, when written, presents the appearance of a
general riot among the tadpoles and wrigglers of the United States.
The Arabian letter "jeem" or "jim," which corresponds with our J,
resembles some of the spectacular wonders seen by the delirium tremons
expert. I do not know whether that is the reason the letter is called jeem
or jim, or not.
The letter "sheen" or "shin," which is some like our "sh" in its effect,
is a very pretty letter, and enough of them would make very attractive
trimming for pantalets or other clothing. The entire Arabic alphabet, I
think, would work up first-rate into trimming for aprons, skirts, and so
Still it is not so rich in variety as the Chinese language. A Chinaman who
desires to publish a paper in order to fill a long felt want, must have a
small fortune in order to buy himself an alphabet. In this country we get
a press, and then, if we have any money left, we lay it out in type; but
in China the editor buys himself an alphabet and then regards the press as
a mere annex. If you go to a Chinese type maker and ask him to show you
his goods, he will ask you whether you want a two or a three story
The Chinese compositor spends most of his time riding up and down the
elevator, seeking for letters and dusting them off with a feather duster.
In large and wealthy offices the compositor sits at his case with the copy
before him, and has five or six boys running from one floor to another,
bringing him the letters of this wild and peculiar alphabet.
Sometimes they have to stop in the middle of a long editorial and send
down to Hong Kong and have a letter cast specially for that editorial.
Chinese compositors soon die from heart disease, because they have to run
up stairs and down so much in order to get the different letters needed.
One large publisher tried to have his case arranged in a high building
without floors, so that the compositor could reach each type by means of a
long pole, but one day there was a slight earthquake shock that spilled
the entire alphabet out of the case, all over the floor, and although that
was ninety-seven years ago last April, there are still two bushels of pi
on the floor of that office. The paper employs rat printers, and as they
have been engaged in assorting and distributing this mass of pi, it is
called rat pi in China, and the term is quite popular.
When the editor underscores a word, the Chinese compositor charges $9
extra for italicizing it. This is nothing more than fair, for he may have
to go all over the empire, and climb twenty-seven flights of stairs to
find the necessary italics. So it is much more economical in China to use
body type mostly in setting up a paper, and the old journalist will avoid
caps and italics, unless he is very wealthy.
Arabian literature is very rich, and more especially so in verse. How the
Arabian poets succeeded so well in writing their verse in their own
language, I can hardly understand. I find it very difficult to write
poetry which will be greedily snapped up and paid for, even when written
in the English language, but if I had to paw around for an hour to get a
button-hook for the end of the fourth line, so that it would rhyme with
the button-hook in the second line of the same verse, I believe it would
drive me mad.
The Arabian writer is very successful in a tale of fiction. He loves to
take a tale and re-write it for the press by carefully expunging the
facts. It is in lyric and romantic writing that he seems to excel.
The Arabian Nights is the most popular work that has survived the harsh
touch of time. Its age is not fully known, and as the author has been dead
several hundred years, I feel safe in saying that a number of the
incidents contained in this book are grossly inaccurate.
It has been translated several times with more or less success by various
writers, and some of the statements contained in the book are well worthy
of the advanced civilization, and wild word painting incident to a heated
We arrived in Verona day before yesterday. Most every one has heard of the
Two Gentlemen of Verona. This is the place they came from. They have never
returned. Verona is not noted for its gentlemen now. Perhaps that is the
reason I was regarded as such a curiosity when I came here.
[Illustration: THE ODORS OF VERONA.]
Verona is a good deal older town than Chicago, but the two cities have
points of resemblance after all. When the southern simoon from the stock
yards is wafted across the vinegar orchards of Chicago, and a load of
Mormon emigrants get out at the Rock Island depot and begin to move around
and squirm and emit the fragrance of crushed Limburger cheese, it reminds
one of Verona.
The sky is similar, too. At night, when it is raining hard, the sky of
Chicago and Verona is not dissimilar. Chicago is the largest place,
however, and my sympathies are with her. Verona has about 68,000 people
now, aside from myself. This census includes foreigners and Indians not
Verona has an ancient skating rink, known in history as the amphitheatre,
It is 404-1/2 feet by 516 in size, and the wall is still 100 feet high in
places. The people of Verona wanted me to lecture there, but I refrained.
I was afraid that some late comers might elbow their way in and leave one
end of the amphitheatre open and then there would be a draft. I will speak
more fully on the subject of amphitheatres in another letter. There isn't
room in this one.
Verona is noted for the Capitular library, as it is called. This is said
to be the largest collection of rejected manuscripts in the world. I stood
in with the librarian and he gave me an opportunity to examine this
wonderful store of literary work. I found a Virgil that was certainly over
1,600 years old. I also found a well preserved copy of "Beautiful Snow." I
read it. It was very touching indeed. Experts said it was 1,700 years old,
which is no doubt correct. I am no judge of the age of MSS. Some can look
at the teeth of a literary production and tell within two weeks how old it
is, but I can't. You can also fool me on the age of wine. My rule used to
be to observe how old I felt the next day and to fix that as the age of
the wine, but this rule I find is not infallible. One time I found myself
feeling the next day as though I might be 138 years old, but on
investigation we found that the wine was extremely new, having been made
at a drug store in Cheyenne that same day.
[Illustration: THE NEXT MORNING.]
Looking these venerable MSS. over, I noticed that the custom of writing
with a violet pencil on both sides of the large foolscap sheet, and then
folding it in sixteen directions and carrying it around in the pocket for
two or three centuries, is not a late American invention, as I had been
led to suppose. They did it in Italy fifteen centuries ago. I was
permitted also to examine the celebrated institutes of Gaius. Gaius was a
poor penman, and I am convinced from a close examination of his work that
he was in the habit of carrying his manuscript around in his pocket with
his smoking tobacco. The guide said that was impossible, for smoking
tobacco was not introduced into Italy until a comparatively late day.
That's all right, however. You can't fool me much on the odor of smoking
The churches of Verona are numerous, and although they seem to me a little
different from our own in many ways, they resemble ours in others. One
thing that pleased me about the churches of Verona was the total absence
of the church fair and festival as conducted in America. Salvation seems
to be handed out in Verona without ice cream and cake, and the odor of
sancity and stewed oysters do not go inevitably hand in hand. I have
already been in the place more than two days and I have not yet been
invited to help lift the old church debt on the cathedral. Perhaps they
think I am not wealthy, however. In fact there is nothing about my dress
or manner that would betray my wealth. I have been in Europe now six weeks
and have kept my secret well. Even my most intimate traveling companions
do not know that I am the Laramie City postmaster in disguise.
The cathedral is a most imposing and massive pile. I quote this from the
guide book. This beautiful structure contains a baptismal font cut out of
one solid block of stone and made for immersion, with an inside diameter
of ten feet. A man nine feet high could be baptized there without injury.
The Venetians have a great respect for water. They believe it ought not to
be used for anything else but to wash away sins, and even then they are
very economical about it.
There is a nice picture here by Titian. It looks as though it had been
left in the smoke house 900 years and overlooked. Titian painted a great
deal. You find his works here ever and anon. He must have had all he could
do in Italy in an early day, when the country was new. I like his pictures
first rate, but I haven't found one yet that I could secure at anything
like a bed rock price.
A Great Upheaval.
I have just received the following letter, which I take the liberty of
publishing, in order that good may come out of it, and that the public
generally may be on the watch:
William Nye, Esq.--
_Dear Sir:_ There has been a great religious upheaval here, and great
anxiety on the part of our entire congregation, and I write to you, hoping
that you may have some suggestions to offer that we could use at this time
All the bitter and irreverent remarks of Bob Ingersoll have fallen
harmlessly upon the minds of our people. The flippant sneers and wicked
sarcasms of the modern infidel, wise in his own conceit, have alike passed
over our heads without damage or disaster. These times that have tried
men's souls have only rooted us more firmly in the faith, and united us
more closely as brothers and sisters.
We do not care whether the earth was made in two billion years or two
minutes, so long as it was made and we are satisfied with it. We do not
care whether Jonah swallowed the whale or the whale swallowed Jonah. None
of these things worry us in the least. We do not pin our faith on such
little matters as those, but we try to so live that when we pass on beyond
the flood we may have a record to which we may point with pride.
But last Sabbath our entire congregation was visibly moved. People who had
grown gray in this church got right up during the service and went out,
and did not come in again. Brothers who had heard all kinds of infidelity
and scorned to be moved by it, got up, and kicked the pews, and slammed
the doors, and created a young riot.
For many years we have sailed along in the most peaceful faith, and
through joy or sorrow we came to the church together to worship. We have
laughed and wept as one family for a quarter of a century, and an humble
dignity and Christian style of etiquette have pervaded our incomings and
That is the reason why a clear case of disorderly conduct in our church
has attracted attention and newspaper comment. That is the reason why we
want in some public way to have the church set right before we suffer from
unjust criticism and worldly scorn.
It has been reported that one of the brothers, who is sixty years of age,
and a model Christian, and a good provider, rose during the first prayer,
and, waving his plug hat in the air, gave a wild and blood-curdling whoop,
jumped over the back of his pew, and lit out. While this is in a measure
true, it is not accurate. He did do some wild and startling jumping, but
he did not jump over the pew. He tried to, but failed. He was too old.
It has also been stated that another brother, who has done more to build
up the church and society here than any other one man of his size, threw
his hymn book across the church, and, with a loud wail that sounded like
the word "Gosh!" hissed through clenched teeth, got out through the window
and went away. This is overdrawn, though there is an element of truth in
it, and I do not try to deny it.
There were other similar strong evidences of feeling throughout the
congregation, none of which had ever been noticed before in this place.
Our clergyman was amazed and horrified. He tried to ignore the action of
the brethren, but when a sister who has grown old in our church, and been
such a model and example of rectitude that all the girls in the county
were perfectly discouraged about trying to be anywhere near equal to her;
when she rose with a wild snort, got up on the pew with her feet, and
swung her parasol in a way that indicated that she would not go home till
morning, he paused and briefly wound up the services.
Of course there were other little eccentricities on the part of the
congregation, but these were the ones that people have talked about the
most, and have done us the most damage abroad.
Now, my desire is that through the medium of the press you will state that
this great trouble which has come upon us, by reason of which the ungodly
have spoken lightly of us, was not the result of a general tendency to
dissent from the statements made by our pastor, and therefore an
exhibition of our disapproval of his doctrines, but that the janitor had
started a light fire in the furnace, and that had revived a large nest of
common, streaked, hot-nosed wasps in the warm air pipe, and when they came
up through the register and united in the services, there was more or less
of an ovation.
Sometimes Christianity gets sluggish and comatose, but not under the above
circumstances. A man may slumber on softly with his bosom gently rising
and falling, and his breath coming and going through one corner of his
mouth like the death rattle of a bath-tub, while the pastor opens out a
new box of theological thunders and fills the air full of the sullen roar
of sulphurous waves, licking the shores of eternity and swallowing up the
great multitudes of the eternally lost; but when one little wasp, with a
red-hot revelation, goes gently up the leg of that same man's pantaloons,
leaving large, hot tracks whenever he stopped and sat down to think it
over, you will see a sudden awakening and a revival that will attract
I wish that you would take this letter, Mr. Nye, and write something from
it in your own way, for publication, showing how we happened to have more
zeal than usual in the church last Sabbath, and that it was not directly
the result of the sermon which was preached on that day.
Yours, with great respect,
The Weeping Woman.
I have not written much for publication lately, because I did not feel
well, I was fatigued. I took a ride on the cars last week and it shook me
up a good deal.
The train was crowded somewhat, and so I sat in a seat with a woman who
got aboard at Minkin's Siding. I noticed as we pulled out of Minkin's
Siding, that this woman raised the window so that she could bid adieu to a
man in a dyed moustache. I do not know whether he was her dolce far
niente, or her grandson by her second husband. I know that if he had been
a relative of mine, however, I would have cheerfully concealed the fact.
[Illustration: SHE SOBBED SEVERAL MORE TIMES.]
She waved a little 2x6 handkerchief out of the window, said "good-bye,"
allowed a fresh zephyr from Cape Sabine to come in and play a xylophone
interlude on my spinal column, and then burst into a paroxysm of damp, hot
I had to go into another car for a moment, and when I returned a pugilist
from Chicago had my seat. When I travel I am uniformly courteous,
especially to pugilists. A pugilist who has started out as an obscure boy
with no money, no friends, and no one to practice on, except his wife or
his mother, with no capital aside from his bare hands; a man who has had
to fight his way through life, as it were, and yet who has come out of
obscurity and attracted the attention of the authorities, and won the good
will of those with whom he came in contact, will always find me cordial
and pacific. So I allowed this self-made man with the broad, high,
intellectual shoulder blades, to sit in my seat with his feet on my new
and expensive traveling bag, while I sat with the tear-bedewed memento
from Minkin's Siding.
She sobbed several more times, then hove a sigh that rattled the windows
in the car, and sat up. I asked her if I might sit by her side for a few
miles and share her great sorrow. She looked at me askance. I did not
resent it. She allowed me to take the seat, and I looked at a paper for a
few moments so that she could look me over through the corners of her
eyes. I also scrutinized her lineaments some.
She was dressed up considerably, and, when a woman dresses up to ride in a
railway train, she advertises the fact that her intellect is beginning to
totter on its throne. People who have more than one suit of clothes should
not pick out the fine raiment for traveling purposes. This person was not
handsomely dressed, but she had the kind of clothes that look as though
they had tried to present the appearance of affluence and had failed to do
This leads me to say, in all seriousness, that there is nothing so sad as
the sight of a man or woman who would scorn to tell a wrong story, but who
will persist in wearing bogus clothes and bogus jewelry that wouldn't fool
My seat-mate wore a cloak that had started out to bamboozle the American
people with the idea that it was worth $100, but it wouldn't mislead
anyone who might be nearer than half a mile. I also discovered, that it
had an air about it that would indicate that she wore it while she cooked
the pancakes and fried the doughnuts. It hardly seems possible that she
would do this, but the garment, I say, had that air about it.
She seemed to want to converse after awhile, and she began on the subject
of literature, picking up a volume that had been left in her seat by the
train boy, entitled: "Shadowed to Skowhegan and Back; or, The Child Fiend;
price $2," we drifted on pleasantly into the broad domain of letters.
Incidentally I asked her what authors she read mostly.
"O, I don't remember the authors so much as I do the books," said she; "I
am a great reader. If I should tell you how much I have read, you wouldn't
I said I certainly would. I had frequently been called upon to believe
things that would make the ordinary rooster quail.
If she discovered the true inwardness of this Anglo-American "Jewdesprit,"
she refrained from saying anything about it.
"I read a good deal," she continued, "and it keeps me all strung up. I
weep, O so easily." Just then she lightly laid her hand on my arm, and I
could see that the tears were rising to her eyes. I felt like asking her
if she had ever tried running herself through a clothes wringer every
morning? I did feel that someone ought to chirk her up, so I asked her if
she remembered the advice of the editor who received a letter from a young
lady troubled the same way. She stated that she couldn't explain it, but
every little while, without any apparent cause, she would shed tears, and
the editor asked her why she didn't lock up the shed.
We conversed for a long time about literature, but every little while she
would get me into deep water by quoting some author or work that I had
never read. I never realized what a hopeless ignoramus I was till I heard
about the scores of books that had made her shed the scalding, and yet
that I had never, never read. When she looked at me with that far-away
expression in her eyes, and with her hand resting lightly on my arm in
such a way as to give the gorgeous two karat Rhinestone from Pittsburg
full play, and told me how such works as "The New Made Grave; or The Twin
Murderers" had cost her many and many a copious tear, I told her I was
glad of it. If it be a blessed boon for the student of such books to weep
at home and work up their honest perspiration into scalding tears, far be
it from me to grudge that poor boon.
I hope that all who may read these lines, and who may feel that the pores
of their skin are getting torpid and sluggish, owing to an inherited
antipathy toward physical exertion, and who feel that they would rather
work up their perspiration into woe and shed it in the shape of common
red-eyed weep, will keep themselves to this poor boon. People have
different ways of enjoying themselves, and I hope no one will hesitate
about accepting this or any other poor boon that I do not happen to be
using at the time.
I have just been through Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, on a tour of
inspection. I rode for over ten days in these States in a sleeping-car,
examining crops, so that I could write an intelligent report.
Grain in Northern Wisconsin suffered severely in the latter part of the
season from rust, chintz bug, Hessian fly and trichina. In the St. Croix
valley wheat will not average a half crop. I do not know why farmers
should insist upon leaving their grain out nights in July, when they know
from the experience of former years that it will surely rust.
In Southern Wisconsin too much rain has almost destroyed many crops, and
cattle have been unable to get enough to eat, unless they were fed, for
several weeks. This is a sad outlook for the farmer at this season.
In the northern part of the State many fields of grain were not worth
cutting, while others barely yielded the seed, and even that of a very
The ruta-baga is looking unusually well this fall, but we cannot subsist
entirely upon the ruta-baga. It is juicy and rich if eaten in large
quantities, but it is too bulky to be popular with the aristocracy.
Cabbages in most places are looking well, though in some quarters I notice
an epidemic of worms. To successfully raise the cabbage, it will be
necessary at all times to be well supplied with vermifuge that can be
readily administered at any hour of the day or night.
The crook-neck squash in the Northwest is a great success this season. And
what can be more beautiful, as it calmly lies in its bower of green vines
in the crisp and golden haze of autumn, than the cute little crook-neck
squash, with yellow, warty skin, all cuddled up together in the cool
morning, like the discarded wife of an old Mormon elder--his first attempt
in the matrimonial line, so to speak, ere he had gained wisdom by
The full-dress, low-neck-and-short-sleeve summer squash will be worn as
usual this fall, with trimmings of salt and pepper in front and revers of
butter down the back.
N.B.--It will not be used much as an outside wrap, but will be worn mostly
Hop-poles in some parts of Wisconsin are entirely killed. I suppose that
continued dry weather in the early summer did it.
Hop-lice, however, are looking well. Many of our best hop-breeders thought
that when the hop-pole began to wither and die, the hop-louse could not
survive the intense dry heat; but hop-lice have never looked better in
this State than they do this fall.
I can remember very well when Wisconsin had to send to Ohio for hop-lice.
Now she could almost supply Ohio and still have enough to fill her own
[Illustration: ENJOYING HIMSELF AT THE DANCE.]
I do not know that hop-lice are kept in coffers, and I may be wrong in
speaking thus freely of these two subjects, never having seen either a
hop-louse or a coffer, but I feel that the public must certainly and
naturally expect me to say something on these subjects. Fruit in the
Northwest this season is not a great success. Aside from the cranberry and
choke-cherry, the fruit yield in the northern district is light. The early
dwarf crab, with or without, worms, as desired--but mostly with--is
unusually poor this fall. They make good cider. This cider when put into a
brandy flask that has not been drained too dry, and allowed to stand until
Christmas, puts a great deal of expression into a country dance. I have
tried it once myself, so that I could write it up for your valuable paper.
People who were present at that dance, and who saw me frolic around there
like a thing of life, say that it was well worth the price of admission.
Stone fence always flies right to the weakest spot. So it goes right to my
head and makes me eccentric.
The violin virtuoso who "fiddled," "called off" and acted as justice of
the peace that evening, said that I threw aside all reserve and entered
with great zest into the dance, and seemed to enjoy it much better than
those who danced in the same set with me. Since that, the very sight of a
common crab apple makes my head reel. I learned afterward that this cider
had frozen, so that the alleged cider which we drank that night was the
clear, old-fashioned brandy, which of course would not freeze.
We should strive, however, to lead such lives that we will never be
ashamed to look a cider barrel square in the bung.
People who write for a livelihood get some queer propositions from those
who have crude ideas about the operation of the literary machine. There is
a prevailing idea among those who have never dabbled in literature very
much, that the divine afflatus works a good deal like a corn sheller. This
To put a bushel of words into the hopper and have them come out a poem or
a sermon, is a more complicated process than it would seem to the casual
I can hardly be called literary, though I admit that my tastes lie in that
direction, and yet I have had some singular experiences in that line. For
instance, last year I received flattering overtures from three young men
who wanted me to write speeches for them to deliver on the Fourth of July.
They could do it themselves, but hadn't the time. If I would write the
speeches they would be willing to revise them. They seemed to think it
would be a good idea to write the speeches a little longer than necessary
and then the poorer parts of the effort could be cut out. Various prices
were set on these efforts, from a dollar to "the kindest regards." People
who have squeezed through one of our adult winters in this latitude,
subsisting on kind regards, will please communicate with the writer,
stating how they like it.
One gentleman, who was in the confectionery business, wanted a lot of
"humorous notices wrote for to put into conversation candy." It was a big
temptation to write something that would be in every lady's mouth, but I
refrained. Writing gum drop epitaphs may properly belong to the domain of
literature, but I doubt it. Surely I do not want to be haughty and above
my business, but it seems to me that this is irrelevant.
Another man wanted me to write a "piece for his boy to speak," and if I
would do so, I could come to his house some Saturday night and stay over
Sunday. He said that the boy was "a perfect little case to carry on and
folks didn't know whether he would develop into a condemb fool or a
youmerist." So he wanted a piece of one of them tomfoolery kind for the
little cuss to speak the last day of school.
[Illustration: HIS MOTTO.]
A coal dealer who had risen to affluence by selling coal to the poor by
apothecaries' weight, wrote to ask me for a design to be used as a family
crest and a motto to emblazon on his arms. I told him I had run out of
crests, but that "weight for the wagon, we'll all take a ride," would be a
good motto; or he might use the following: "The fuel and his money are
soon parted." He might emblazon this on his arms, or tattoo it on any
other part of his system where he thought it would be becoming to his
complexion. I never heard from him again, and I do not know whether he was
offended or not.
Two young men in Massachusetts wrote me a letter in which they said they
"had a good thing on mother." They wanted it written up in a facetious
vein. They said that their father had been on the coast a few weeks
before, engaged in the eeling industry. Being a good man, but partially
full, he had mingled himself in the flowing tide and got drowned. Finally,
after several days' search, the neighbors came in sadly and told the old
lady thai they had found all that was mortal of James, and there were two
eels in the remains. They asked for further instructions as to deceased.
The old lady swabbed out her weeping eyes, braced herself against the sink
and told the men to "bring in the eels and set him again."
The boys thought that if this could be properly written up, "it would be a
mighty good joke on mother." I was greatly shocked when I received this
letter. It seemed to me heartless for young men to speak lightly of their
widowed mother's great woe. I wrote them how I felt about it, and rebuked
them severely for treating their mother's grief so lightly. Also for
trying to impose upon me with an old chestnut.
A Father's Advice to His Son.
My dear Henry.--Your pensive favor of the 20th inst., asking for more
means with which to persecute your studies, and also a young man from
Ohio, is at hand and carefully noted.
I would not be ashamed to have you show the foregoing sentence to your
teacher, if it could be worked, in a quiet way, so as not to look
egotistic on my part. I think myself that it is pretty fair for a man that
never had any advantages.
But, Henry, why will you insist on fighting the young man from Ohio? It is
not only rude and wrong, but you invariably get licked. There's where the
enormity of the thing comes in.
It was this young man from Ohio, named Williams, that you hazed last year,
or at least that's what I gether from a letter sent me by your warden. He
maintains that you started in to mix Mr. Williams up with the campus in
some way, and that in some way Mr. Williams resented it and got his fangs
tangled up in the bridge of your nose.
You never wrote this to me or to your mother, but I know how busy you are
with your studies, and I hope you won't ever neglect your books just to
write to us.
Your warden, or whoever he is, said that Mr. Williams also hung a
hand-painted marine view over your eye and put an extra eyelid on one of
I wish that, if you get time, you would write us about it, because, if
there's anything I can do for you in the arnica line, I would be pleased
to do so.
The president also says that in the scuffle you and Mr. Williams swapped
belts as follows, to-wit: That Williams snatched off the belt of your
little Norfolk jacket, and then gave you one in the eye.
From this I gether that the old prez, as you faseshusly call him, is an
youmorist. He is not a very good penman, however; though, so far, his
words have all been spelled correct.
I would hate to see you permanently injured, Henry, but I hope that when
you try to tramp on the toes of a good boy simply because you are a
seanyour and he is a fresh, as you frequently state, that he will arise
and rip your little pleated jacket up the back and make your spinal colyum
look like a corderoy bridge in the spring tra la. (This is from a Japan
show I was to last week.)
Why should a seanyour in a colledge tromp onto the young chaps that come
in there to learn? Have you forgot how I fatted up the old cow and beefed
her so that you could go and monkey with youclid and algebray? Have you
forgot how the other boys pulled you through a mill pond and made you
tobogin down hill in a salt barrel with brads in it? Do you remember how
your mother went down there to nuss you for two weeks and I stayed to
home, and done my own work and the housework too and cooked my own vittles
for the whole two weeks?
And now, Henry, you call yourself a seanyour, and therefore, because you
are simply older in crime, you want to muss up Mr. Williams's features so
that his mother will have to come over and nuss him. I am glad that your
little pleated coat is ripped up the back, Henry, under the circumstances,
and I am also glad that you are wearing the belt--over your off eye. If
there's anything I can do to add to the hilarity of the occasion, please
let me know and I will tend to it.
The lop-horned heifer is a parent once more, and I am trying in my poor,
weak way to learn her wayward offspring how to drink out of a patent pail
without pushing your old father over into the hay-mow. He is a cute little
quadruped, with a wild desire to have fun at my expense. He loves to
swaller a part of my coat-tail Sunday morning, when I am dressed up, and
then return it to me in a moist condition. He seems to know that when I
address the sabbath school the children will see the joke and enjoy it.
Your mother is about the same, trying in her meek way to adjust herself to
a new set of teeth that are a size too large for her. She has one large
bunion in the roof of her mouth already, but is still resolved to hold out
faithful, and hopes these few lines will find you enjoying the same great
You will find inclosed a dark-blue money-order for four eighty-five. It is
money that I had set aside to pay my taxes, but there is no novelty about
paying taxes. I've done that before, so it don't thrill me as it used to.
Give my congratulations to Mr. Williams. He has got the elements of
greatness to a wonderful degree. If I happened to be participating in that
colledge of yours, I would gently but firmly decline to be tromped onto.
So good-bye for this time.
Eccentricity in Lunch.
Over at Kasota Junction, the other day, I found a living curiosity. He was
a man of about medium height, perhaps 45 years of age, of a quiet
disposition, and not noticeable or peculiar in his general manner. He runs
the railroad eating-house at that point, and the one odd characteristic
which he has, makes him well known all through three or four States. I
could not illustrate his eccentricity any better than by relating a
circumstance that occurred to me at the Junction last week. I had just
eaten breakfast there and paid for it. I stepped up to the cigar case and
asked this man if he had "a rattling good cigar."
[Illustration: THE ANTIQUE LUNCH.]
Without knowing it I had struck the very point upon which this man seems
to be a crank, if you will allow me that expression, though it doesn't fit
very well in this place. He looked at me in a sad and subdued manner and
said, "No, sir; I haven't a rattling good cigar in the house. I have some
cigars there that I bought for Havana fillers, but they are mostly filled
with pieces of Colorado Maduro overalls. There's a box over yonder that I
bought for good, straight ten cent cigars, but they are only a chaos of
hay and Flora, Fino and Damfino, all socked into a Wisconsin wrapper. Over
in the other end of the case is a brand of cigars that were to knock the
tar out of all other kinds of weeds, according to the urbane rustler who
sold them to me, and then drew on me before I could light one of them.
Well, instead of being a fine Colorado Claro with a high-priced wrapper,
they are common Mexicano stinkaros in a Mother Hubbard wrapper. The
commercial tourist who sold me those cigars and then drew on me at sight
was a good deal better on the draw than his cigars are. If you will
notice, you will see that each cigar has a spinal column to it, and this
outer debris is wrapped around it. One man bought a cigar out of that box
last week. I told him, though, just as I am telling you, that they were no
good, and if he bought one he would regret it. But he took one and went
out on the veranda to smoke it. Then he stepped on a melon rind and fell
with great force on his side. When we picked him up he gasped once or
twice and expired. We opened his vest hurriedly and found that, in
falling, this bouquet de Gluefactoro cigar, with the spinal column, had
been driven through his breast bone and had penetrated his heart. The
wrapper of the cigar never so much as cracked."
"But doesn't it impair your trade to run on in this wild, reckless way
about your cigars?"
"It may at first, but not after awhile. I always tell people what my
cigars are made of, and then they can't blame me; so, after awhile they
get to believe what I say about them. I often wonder that no cigar man
ever tried this way before. I do just the same way about my lunch counter.
If a man steps up and wants a fresh ham sandwich I give it to him if I've
got it, and if I haven't it I tell him so. If you turn my sandwiches over,
you will find the date of its publication on every one. If they are not
fresh, and I have no fresh ones, I tell the customer that they are not so
blamed fresh as the young man with the gauze moustache, but that I can
remember very well when they were fresh, and if his artificial teeth fit
him pretty well he can try one.
"It's just the same with boiled eggs. I have a rubber dating stamp, and as
soon as the eggs are turned over to me by the hen for inspection, I date
them. Then they are boiled and another date in red is stamped on them. If
one of my clerks should date an egg ahead, I would fire him too quick.
"On this account, people who know me will skip a meal at Missouri
Junction, in order to come here and eat things that are not clouded with
mystery. I do not keep any poor stuff when I can help it, but if I do, I
don't conceal the horrible fact.
"Of course a new cook will sometimes smuggle a late date onto a mediaeval
egg and sell it, but he has to change his name and flee.
"I suppose that if every eating-house should date everything, and be
square with the public, it would be an old story and wouldn't pay; but as
it is, no one trying to compete with me, I do well out of it, and people
come here out of curiosity a good deal.
"The reason I try to do right and win the public esteem is that the
general public never did me any harm and the majority of people who travel
are a kind that I may meet in a future state. I should hate to have a
thousand traveling men holding nuggets of rancid ham sandwiches under my
nose through all eternity, and know that I had lied about it. It's an
honest fact, if I knew I'd got to stand up and apologize for my hand-made,
all-around, seamless pies, and quarantine cigars, Heaven would be no
Insomnia in Domestic Animals.
If there be one thing above another that I revel in, it is science. I have
devoted much of my life to scientific research, and though it hasn't made
much stir in the scientific world so far, I am positive that when I am
gone the scientists of our day will miss me, and the red-nosed theorist
will come and shed the scalding tear over my humble tomb.
My attention was first attracted to insomnia as the foe of the domestic
animal, by the strange appearance of a favorite dog named Lucretia Borgia.
I did not name this animal Lucretia Borgia. He was named when I purchased
him. In his eccentric and abnormal thirst for blood he favored Lucretia,
but in sex he did not. I got him partly because he loved children. The
owner said Lucretia Borgia was an ardent lover of children, and I found
that he was. He seemed to love them best in the spring of the year, when
they were tender. He would have eaten up a favorite child of mine, if the
youngster hadn't left a rubber ball in his pocket which clogged the
glottis of Lucretia till I could get there and disengage what was left of
Lucretia soon after this began to be restless. He would come to my
casement and lift up his voice, and howl into the bosom of the silent
night. At first I thought that he had found some one in distress, or
wanted to get me out of doors and save my life. I went out several nights
in a weird costume that I had made up of garments belonging to different
members of my family. I dressed carefully in the dark and stole out to
kill the assassin referred to by Lucretia, but he was not there. Then the
faithful animal would run up to me and with almost human, pleading eyes,
bark and run away toward a distant alley. I immediately decided that some
one was suffering there. I had read in books about dogs that led their
masters away to the suffering and saved people's lives; so, when Lucretia
came to me with his great, honest eyes and took little mementoes out of
the calf of my leg, and then galloped off seven or eight blocks, I
followed him in the chill air of night and my Mosaic clothes. I wandered
away to where the dog stopped behind a livery stable, and there, lying in
a shuddering heap on the frosty ground, lay the still, white features of a
soup bone that had outlived its usefulness.
On the way back, I met a physician who had been up town to swear in an
American citizen who would vote twenty-one years later, if he lived. The
physician stopped me and was going to take me to the home of the
friendless, when he discovered who I was.
[Illustration: EXCITING PUBLIC CURIOSITY.]
You wrap a tall man, with a William H. Seward nose, in a flannel robe, cut
plain, and then put a plug hat and a sealskin sacque and Arctic overshoes
on him, and put him out in the street, under the gaslight, with his trim,
purple ankles just revealing themselves as he madly gallops after a
hydrophobia infested dog, and it is not, after all, surprising that
people's curiosity should be a little bit excited.
After I had introduced myself to the physician and asked him for a cigar,
explaining that I could not find any in the clothes I had on, I asked him
about Lucretia Borgia. I told the doctor how Lucretia seemed restless
nights and nervous and irritable days, and how he seemed to be almost a
mental wreck, and asked him what the trouble was.
He said it was undoubtedly "insomnia." He said that it was a bad case of
it, too. I told him I thought so myself. I said I didn't mind the insomnia
that Lucretia had so much as I did my own. I was getting more insomnia on
my hands than I could use.
He gave me something to administer to Lucretia. He said I must put it in a
link of sausage and leave the sausage where it would appear that I didn't
want the dog to get it, and then Lucretia would eat it greedily.
I did so. It worked well so far as the administration of the remedy was
concerned, but it was fatal to my little, high strung, yearnful dog. It
must have contained something of a deleterious character, for the next
morning a coarse man took Lucretia Borgia by the tail and laid him where
the violets blow. Malignant insomnia is fast becoming the great foe to the
modern American dog.
Along Lake Superior.
I have just returned from a brief visit to Duluth. After strolling along
the Bay of Naples and watching old Vesuvius vomit red-hot mud, vapor and
other campaign documents, Duluth is quite a change. The ice in the bay at
Duluth was thirty-eight inches in depth when I left there the last week in
March, and we rode across it with the utmost impunity. By the time these
lines fall beneath the eye of the genial, courteous and urbane reader, the
new railroad bridge across the bay, over a mile and a half long, will have
been completed, so that you may ride from Chicago to Duluth over the
Northwestern and Omaha railroads with great comfort. I would be glad to
digress here and tell about the beauty of the summer scenery along the
Omaha road, and the shy and beautiful troutlet, and the dark and silent
Chippewa squawlet and her little bleached out pappooselet, were it not for
the unkind and cruel thrusts that I would invoke from the scenery cynic
who believes that a newspaper man's opinions may be largely warped with a
Duluth has been joked a good deal, but she stands it first-rate and takes
it good naturedly. She claims 16,000 people, some of whom I met at the
opera house there. If the rest of the 16,000 are as pleasant as those I
conversed with that evening, Duluth must be a pleasant place to live in.
Duluth has a very pleasant and beautiful opera house that seats 1,000
people. A few more could have elbowed their way into the opera house the
evening that I spoke there, but they preferred to suffer on at home.
Lake Superior is one of the largest aggregations of fresh wetness in the
world, if not the largest. When I stop to think that some day all this
cold, cold water will have to be absorbed by mankind, it gives me a cramp
in the geographical center.
Around the west end of Lake Superior there is a string of towns which
stretches along the shore for miles under one name or another, all waiting
for the boom to strike and make the northern Chicago. You cannot visit
Duluth or Superior without feeling that at any moment the tide of trade
will rise and designate the point where the future metropolis of the
northern lakes is to be. I firmly believe that this summer will decide it,
and my guess is that what is now known as West Superior is to get the
benefit. For many years destiny has been hovering over the west end of
this mighty lake, and now the favored point is going to be designated.
Duluth has past prosperity and expensive improvements in her favor, and in
fact the whole locality is going to be benefited, but if I had a block in
West Superior with a roller rink on it, I would wear my best clothes every
day and claim to be a millionaire in disguise. Ex-President R. B. Hayes
has a large brick block in Duluth, but he does not occupy it. Those who go
to Duluth hoping to meet Mr. Hayes will be bitterly disappointed.
The streams that run into Lake Superior are alive with trout, and next
summer I propose to go up there and roast until I have so thoroughly
saturated my system with trout that the trout bones will stick out through
my clothes in every direction and people will regard me as a beautiful
Still there will be a few left for those who think of going up there. All
I will need will be barely enough to feed Albert Victor and myself from
day to day. People who have never seen a crowned head with a peeled nose
on it are cordially invited to come over and see us during office hours.
Albert is not at all haughty, and I intend to throw aside my usual reserve
this summer also--for the time. P. Wales' son and I will be far from the
cares that crowd so thick and fast on greatness. People who come to our
cedar bark wigwam to show us their mosquito bites, will be received as
cordially as though no great social chasm yawned between us.
Many will meet us in the depths of the forest and go away thinking that we
are just common plugs of whom the world wots not; but there is where they
will fool themselves.
Then, when the season is over, we will come back into the great maelstrom
of life, he to wait for his grandmother's overshoes and I to thrill
waiting millions from the rostrum with my "Tale of the Broncho Cow." And
so it goes with us all. Adown life's rugged pathway some must toil on from
daylight to dark to earn their meagre pittance as kings, while others are
born to wear a swallow-tail coat every evening and wring tears of genuine
anguish from their audiences.
They tell some rather wide stories about people who have gone up there
total physical wrecks and returned strong and well. One man said that he
knew a young college student, who was all run down and weak, go up there
on the Brule and eat trout and fight mosquitoes a few months, and when he
returned to his Boston home he was so stout and well and tanned up that
his parents did not know him. There was a man in our car who weighed 300
pounds. He seemed to be boiling out through his clothes everywhere. He was
the happiest looking man I ever saw. All he seemed to do in this life was
to sit all day and whistle and laugh and trot his stomach, first on one
knee and then on the other.
He said that he went up into the pine forests of the Great Lake region a
broken-down hypochondriac and confirmed consumptive. He had been measured
for a funeral sermon three times, he said, and had never used either of
them. He knew a clergyman named Brayley who went up into that region with
Bright's justly celebrated disease. He was so emaciated that he couldn't
carry a watch. The ticking of the watch rattled his bones so that it made
him nervous, and at night they had to pack him in cotton so that he
wouldn't break a leg when he turned over. He got to sleeping out nights on
a bed of balsam and spruce boughs and eating venison and trout.
When he came down in the spring, he passed through a car of lumbermen and
one of them put a warm, wet quid of tobacco in his plug hat for a joke.
There were a hundred of these lumbermen when the preacher began, and when
the train got into Eau Claire there were only three of them well enough to
go around to the office and draw their pay.
This is just as the story was given to me and I repeat it to show how
bracing the climate near Superior is. Remember, if you please, that I do
not want the story to be repeated as coming from me, for I have nothing
left now but my reputation for veracity, and that has had a very hard
winter of it.
I Tried Milling.
I think I was about 18 years of age when I decided that I would be a
miller, with flour on my clothes and a salary of $200 per month. This was
not the first thing I had decided to be, and afterward changed my mind
I engaged to learn my profession of a man called Sam Newton, I believe; at
least I will call him that for the sake of argument. My business was to
weigh wheat, deduct as much as possible on account of cockle, pigeon grass
and wild buckwheat, and to chisel the honest farmer out of all he would
stand. This was the programme with Mr. Newton; but I am happy to say that
it met with its reward, and the sheriff afterward operated the mill.
On stormy days I did the book-keeping, with a scoop shovel behind my ear,
in a pile of middlings on the fifth floor. Gradually I drifted into doing
a good deal of this kind of brain work. I would chop the ice out of the
turbine wheel at 5 o'clock A.M., and then frolic up six flights of stairs
and shovel shorts till 9 o'clock P.M.
By shoveling bran and other vegetables 16 hours a day, a general knowledge
of the milling business may be readily obtained. I used to scoop middlings
till I could see stars, and then I would look out at the landscape and
I got so that I piled up more ponder, after a while, than I did middlings.
One day the proprietor came up stairs and discovered me in a brown study,
whereupon he cursed me in a subdued Presbyterian way, abbreviated my
salary from $26 per month to $18 and reduced me to the ranks.
Afterward I got together enough desultory information so that I could
superintend the feed stone. The feed stone is used to grind hen feed and
other luxuries. One day I noticed an odor that reminded me of a hot
overshoe trying to smother a glue factory at the close of a tropical day.
I spoke to the chief floor walker of the mill about it, and he said "dod
gammit" or something that sounded like that, in a course and brutal
manner. He then kicked my person in a rude and hurried tone of voice, and
told me that the feed stone was burning up.
He was a very fierce man, with a violent and ungovernable temper, and,
finding that I was only increasing his brutal fury, I afterward resigned
my position. I talked it over with the proprietor, and both agreed that it
would be best. He agreed to it before I did, and rather hurried up my
determination to go.
[Illustration: HE MADE IT AN OBJECT FOR ME TO GO.]
I rather hated to go so soon, but he made it an object for me to go, and I
went. I started in with the idea that I would begin at the bottom of the
ladder, as it were, and gradually climb to the bran bin by my own
exertions, hoping by honesty, industry, and carrying two bushels of wheat
up nine flights of stairs, to become a wealthy man, with corn meal in my
hair and cracked wheat in my coat pocket, but I did not seem to accomplish
Instead of having ink on my fingers and a chastened look of woe on my
clear-cut Grecian features, I might have poured No. 1 hard wheat and
buckwheat flour out of my long taper ears every night, if I had stuck to
the profession. Still, as I say, it was for another man's best good that I
resigned. The head miller had no control over himself and the proprietor
had rather set his heart on my resignation, so it was better that way.
Still I like to roll around in the bran pile, and monkey in the cracked
wheat. I love also to go out in the kitchen and put corn meal down the
back of the cook's neck while my wife is working a purple silk Kensington
dog, with navy blue mane and tail, on a gothic lambrequin.
I can never cease to hanker for the rumble and grumble of the busy mill,
and the solemn murmur of the millstones and the machinery are music to me.
More so than the solemn murmur of the proprietor used to be when he came
in at an inopportune moment, and in that impromptu and extemporaneous
manner of his, and found me admiring the wild and beautiful scenery. He
may have been a good miller, but he had no love for the beautiful. Perhaps
that is why he was always so cold and cruel toward me. My slender, willowy
grace and mellow, bird-like voice never seemed to melt his stony heart.
Seattle, W.T., December 12.--I am up here on the Sound in two senses. I
rode down to-day from Tacoma on the Sound, and to-night I shall lecture at
Frye's Opera House.
Seattle is a good town. The name lacks poetic warmth, but some day the man
who has invested in Seattle real estate will have reason to pat himself on
the back and say "ha ha," or words to that effect. The city is situated on
the side of a large hill and commands a very fine view of that world's
most calm and beautiful collection of water, Puget Sound.
I cannot speak too highly of any sheet of water on which I can ride all
day with no compunction of digestion. He who has tossed for days upon the
briny deep, will understand this and appreciate it; even if he never
tossed upon the angry deep, if it happened to be all he had, he will be
glad to know that the Sound is a good piece of water to ride on. The
gentle reader who has crossed the raging main and borrowed high-priced
meals of the steamship company for days and days, will agree with me that
when we can find a smooth piece of water to ride on we should lose no time
in crossing it.
In Washington Territory the women vote. That is no novelty to me, of
course, for I lived in Wyoming for seven years where women vote, and I
held office all the time. And still they say that female voters are poor
judges of men, and that any pleasing $2 adonis who comes along and asks
for their suffrages will get them.
Woman is a keen and correct judge of mental and moral worth. Without
stopping to give logical reasons for her course, perhaps, she still
chooses with unerring judgment at the polls.
Anyone who doubts this statement, will do well to go to the old poll books
in Wyoming and examine my overwhelming majorities--with a powerful
I have just received from Boston a warm invitation to be present in that
city on Forefathers' day, to take part in the ceremonies and join in the
festivities of that occasion.
Forefathers, I thank you! Though this reply will not reach you for a long
time, perhaps, I desire to express to you my deep appreciation of your
kindness, and, though I can hardly be regarded as a forefather myself, I
assure you that I sympathize with you.
Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to be with you on this day of
your general jubilee and to talk over old times with you.
One who has never experienced the thrill of genuine joy that wakens a man
to a glad realization of the fact that he is a forefather, cannot
understand its full significance. You alone know how it is yourself, you
can speak from experience.
In fancy's dim corridors I see you stand, away back in the early dawn of
our national day, with the tallow candle drooping and dying in its socket,
as you waited for the physician to come and announce to you that you were
Forefathers; you have done well. Others have sought to outdo you and wrest
the laurels from your brow, but they did not succeed. As forefathers you
have never been successfully scooped.
I hope that you will keep up your justly celebrated organization. If a
forefather allows his dues to get in arrears, go to him kindly and ask him
like a brother to put up. If he refuses to do so, fire him. There is no
reason why a man should presume upon his long standing as a forefather to
become insolent to other forefathers who are far his seniors. As a rule, I
notice it is the young amateur forefather who has only been so a few days,
in fact, who is arrogant and disobedient.
I have often wished that we could observe Forefathers' day more generally
in the West. Why we should allow the Eastern cities to outdo us in this
matter while we hold over them in other ways, I cannot understand. Our
church sociables and homicides in the West will compare favorably with
those of the effeter cities of the Atlantic slope. Our educational
institutions and embezzlers are making rapid strides, especially our
embezzlers. We are cultivating a certain air of refinement and haughty
reserve which enables us at times to fool the best judges. Many of our
Western people have been to the Atlantic seaboard and remained all summer
without falling into the hands of the bunko artist. A cow gentleman friend
of mine who bathed his plump limbs in the Atlantic last summer during the
day, and mixed himself up in the mazy dance at night, told me on his
return that he had enjoyed the summer immensely, but that he had returned
"Ah," said I, with an air of superiority which I often assume while
talking to men who know more than I do, "you fell into the hands of the
cultivated confidence man?"
"No, William," he said sadly, "worse than that. I stopped at a seaside
hotel. Had I gone to New York City and hunted up the gentlemanly bunko man
and the Wall street dealer in lamb's pelts, as my better judgment
prompted, I might have returned with funds. Now I am almost insolvent. I
begin life again with great sorrow, and the same old Texas steer with
which I went into the cattle industry five years ago."
But why should we, here in the West, take readily to all other
institutions common to the cultured East and ignore the forefather
industry? I now make this public announcement, and will stick to it, viz:
I will be one of ten full-blooded American citizens to establish a branch
forefather's lodge in the West, with a separate fund set aside for the
benefit of forefathers who are no longer young. Forefathers are just as
apt to become old and helpless as anyone else. Young men who contemplate
becoming forefathers should remember this.
To The Metropolitan Guide Publishing Co., New York.
Gentlemen.--I received the copy of your justly celebrated "Guide to rapid
Affluence, or How to Acquire Wealth Without Mental Exertion," price
twenty-five cents. It is a great boon.
I have now had this book sixteen weeks, and, as I am wealthy enough, I
return it. It is not much worn, and if you will allow me fifteen cents for
it, I would be very grateful. It is not the intrinsic value of the fifteen
cents that I care for so much, but I would like it as a curiosity.
The book is wonderfully graphic and thorough in all its details, and I was
especially pleased with its careful and useful recipe for ointments. One
style of ointment spoken of and recommended by your valuable book, is
worthy of a place in history. I made some of it according to your formula.
I tried it on a friend of mine. He wore it when he went away, and he has
not as yet returned. I heard, incidentally, that it adhered to him. People
who have examined it say that it retains its position on his person
similar to a birthmark.
Your cement does not have the same peculiarity. It does everything but
adhere. Among other specialties it effects a singular odor. It has a
fragrance that ought to be utilized in some way. Men have harnessed the
lightning, and it seems to me that the day is not far distant when a man
will be raised up who can control this latent power. Do you not think that
possibly you have made a mistake and got your ointment and cement formula
mixed? Your cement certainly smells like a corrupt administration in a
Your revelations in the liquor manufacture, and how to make any mixed
drink with one hand tied, is well worth the price of the book. The chapter
on bar etiquette is also excellent. Very few men know how to properly
enter a bar-room and what to do after they arrive. How to get into a
bar-room without attracting attention, and how to get out without police
interference, are points upon which our American drunkards are lamentably
ignorant. How to properly address a bar tender, is also a page that no
student of good breeding could well omit.
I was greatly surprised to read how simple the manufacture of drinks under
your formula is. You construct a cocktail without liquor and then rob
intemperance of its sting. You also make all kinds of liquor without the
use of alcohol, that demon under whose iron heel thousands of our sons and
brothers go down to death and delirium annually. Thus you are doing a good
You also unite aloes, tobacco and Rough on Rats, and, by a happy
combination, construct a style of beer that is non-intoxicating.
No one could, by any possible means, become intoxicated on your justly
celebrated beer. He would not have time. Before he could get inebriated he
would be in the New Jerusalem.
Those who drink your beer will not fill drunkards' graves. They will close
their career and march out of this life with perforated stomachs and a
look of intense anguish.
Your method of making cider without apples is also frugal and
ingenious. Thousands of innocent apple worms annually lose their lives
in the manufacture of cider. They are also, in most instances, wholly
unprepared to die. By your method, a style of wormless cider is
constructed that would not fool anyone. It tastes a good deal like
rain water that was rained about the first time that any raining was
ever done, and was deprived of air ever since.
[Illustration: HOW TO WIN AFFECTION.]
The closing chapter on the subject of "How to win the affections of the
opposite sex at sixty yards," is first-rate. It is wonderful what triumph
science and inventions have wrenched from obdurate conditions! Only a few
years ago, a young man had to work hard for weeks and months in order to
win the love of a noble young woman. Now, with your valuable and scholarly
work, price twenty-five cents, he studies over the closing chapter an hour
or two, then goes out into society and gathers in his victim. And yet I do
not grudge the long, long hours I squandered in those years when people
were in heathenish darkness. I had no book like yours to tell me how to
win the affections of the opposite sex. I could only blunder on, week
after week and yet I do not regret it. It was just the school I needed. It
did me good.
Your book will, no doubt, be a good thing for those who now grope, but I
have groped so long that I have formed the habit and prefer it. Let me go
right on groping. Those who desire to win the affections of the opposite
sex at one sitting, will do well to send two bits for your great work, but
I am in no hurry. My time is not valuable.
Preventing a Scandal.
Boys should never be afraid or ashamed to do little odd jobs by which to
acquire money. Too many boys are afraid, or at least seem to be
embarrassed when asked to do chores, and thus earn small sums of money. In
order to appreciate wealth we must earn it ourselves. That is the reason I
labor. I do not need to labor. My parents are still living, and they
certainly would not see me suffer for the necessities of life. But life in
that way would not have the keen relish that it would if I earned the
Sawing wood used to be a favorite pastime with boys twenty years ago. I
remember the first money I ever earned was by sawing wood. My brother and
myself were to receive $5 for sawing five cords of wood. We allowed the
job to stand, however, until the weather got quite warm, and then we
decided to hire a foreigner who came along that way one glorious summer
day when all nature seemed tickled and we knew that the fish would be apt
to bite. So we hired the foreigner, and while he sawed, we would bet with
him on various "dead sure things" until he got the wood sawed, when he
went away owing us fifty cents.
We had a neighbor who was very wealthy. He noticed that we boys earned our
own spending money, and he yearned to have his son try to ditto. So he
told the boy that he was going away for a few weeks and that he would give
him $2 per cord, or double price, to saw the wood. He wanted to teach the
boy to earn and appreciate his money. So, when the old man went away, the
boy secured a colored man to do the job at $1 per cord, by which process
the youth made $10. This he judiciously invested in clothes, meeting his
father at the train in a new summer suit and a speckled cane. The old man
said he could see by the sparkle in the boy's clear, honest eyes, that
healthful exercise was what boys needed.
When I was a boy I frequently acquired large sums of money by carrying
coal up two flights of stairs for wealthy people who were too fat to do it
themselves. This money I invested from time to time in side shows and
other zoological attractions.
One day I saw a coal cart back up and unload itself on the walk in such a
way as to indicate that the coal would have to be manually elevated inside
the building. I waited till I nearly froze to death, for the owner to come
along and solicit my aid. Finally he came. He smelled strong of carbolic
acid, and I afterward learned that he was a physician and surgeon.
We haggled over the price for some time, as I had to carry the coal up two
flights in an old waste paper basket and it was quite a task. Finally we
agreed. I proceeded with the work. About dusk I went up the last flight of
stairs with the last load. My feet seemed to weigh about nineteen pounds
apiece and my face was very sombre.
In the gloaming I saw my employer. He was writing a prescription by the
dim, uncertain light. He told me to put the last basketful in the little
closet off the hall and then come and get my pay. I took the coal into the
closet, but I do not know what I did with it. As I opened the door and
stepped in, a tall skeleton got down off the nail and embraced me like a
prodigal son. It fell on my neck and draped itself all over me. Its
glittering phalanges entered the bosom of my gingham shirt and rested
lightly on the pit of my stomach. I could feel the pelvis bone in the
small of my back. The room was dark, but I did not light the gas. Whether
it was the skeleton of a lady or gentleman, I never knew; but I thought,
for the sake of my good name, I would not remain. My good name and a
strong yearning for home were all that I had at that time.
So I went home. Afterwards, I learned that this physician got all his coal
carried up stairs for nothing in this way, and he had tried to get rooms
two flights further up in the building, so that the boys would have
further to fall when they made their egress.
Hudson, Wis., August 25, 1885.
Hon. William F. Vilas, Postmaster-General, Washington, D.C.
Dear Sir,--For some time I have been thinking of writing to you and asking
you how you were getting along with your department since I left it. I did
not wish to write you for the purpose of currying favor with an
administration against which I squandered a ballot last fall. Neither do I
desire to convey the impression that I would like to open a correspondence
with you for the purpose of killing time. If you ever feel like sitting
down and answering this letter in an off-hand way it would please me very
much, but do not put yourself out to do so. I wanted to ask you, however,
how you like the pictures of yourself recently published by the patent
insides. That was my principal object in writing. Having seen you before
this great calamity befell you, I wanted to inquire whether you had really
changed so much. As I remember your face, it was rather unusually
intellectual and attractive for a great man. Great men are very rarely
pretty. I guess that, aside from yourself, myself, and Mr. Evarts, there
is hardly an eminent man in the country who would be considered handsome.
But the engraver has done you a great injustice, or else you have sadly
changed since I saw you. It hardly seems possible that your nose has
drifted around to leeward and swelled up at the end, as the engraver would
have us believe. I do not believe that in a few short months the look of
firmness and conscious rectitude that I noticed could have changed to that
of indecision and vacuity which we see in some of your late portraits as
[Illustration: A NOSE ON THE BIAS.]
I saw one yesterday, with your name attached to it, and it made my heart
ache for your family. As a resident in your State I felt humiliated. Two
of Wisconsin's ablest men have been thus slaughtered by the rude broad-axe
of the engraver. Last fall, Senator Spooner, who is also a man with a
first-class head and face, was libeled in this same reckless way. It makes
me mad, and in that way impairs my usefulness. I am not a good citizen,
husband or father when I am mad. I am a perfect simoom of wrath at such
times, and I am not responsible for what I do.
Nothing can arouse the indignation of your friends, regardless of party,
so much as the thought that while you are working so hard in the
postoffice at Washington with your coat off, collecting box rent and
making up the Western mail, the remorseless engraver and electrotyper are
seeking to down you by making pictures of you in which you appear either
as a dude or a tough.
While I have not the pleasure of being a member of your party, having
belonged to what has been sneeringly alluded to as the g.o.p., I cannot
refrain from expressing my sympathy at this time. Though we may have
differed heretofore upon important questions of political economy, I
cannot exult over these portraits. Others may gloat over these efforts to
injure you, but I do not. I am not much of a gloater, anyhow.
I leave those to gloat who are in the gloat business.
Still, it is one of the drawbacks incident to greatness. We struggle hard
through life that we may win the confidence of our fellow-men, only at
last to have pictures of ourselves printed and distributed where they will
[Illustration: ASSORTED PHYSIOGNOMY.]
I desire to add before closing this letter, Mr. Vilas, that with those who
are acquainted with you and know your sterling worth, these portraits will
make no difference. We will not allow them to influence us socially or
politically. What the effect may be upon offensive partisans who are total
strangers to you, I do not know.
My theory in relation to these cuts is, that they are combined and
interchangeable, so that, with slight modifications, they are used for all
great men. The cut, with the extras that go with it, consists of one head
with hair (front view), one bald head (front view), one head with hair
(side view), one bald head (side view), one pair eyes (with glasses), one
pair eyes (plain), one Roman nose, one Grecian nose, one turn-up nose, one
set whiskers (full), one moustache, one pair side-whiskers, one chin, one
set large ears, one set medium ears, one set small ears, one set
shoulders, with collar and necktie for above, one monkey-wrench, one set
quoins, one galley, one oil can, one screwdriver. These different features
are then arranged so that a great variety of clergymen, murderers,
senators, embezzlers, artists, dynamiters, humorists, arsonists,
larcenists, poets, statesmen, base ball players, rinkists, pianists,
capitalists, bigamists and sluggists are easily represented. No newspaper
office should be without them. They are very simple, and any child can
easily learn to operate it. They are invaluable in all cases, for no one
knows at what moment a revolting crime may be committed by a comparatively
unknown man, whose portrait you wish to give, and in this age of rapid
political transformations, presentations and combinations, no enterprising
paper should delay the acquisition of a combined portrait for the use of
Hoping that you are well, and that you will at once proceed to let no
guilty man escape, I remain, yours truly,
The Old South.
The Old South Meeting House, in Boston, is the most remarkable structure
in many respects to be found in that remarkable city. Always eager
wherever I go to search out at once the gospel privileges, it is not to be
wondered at, that I should have gone to the Old South the first day after
I landed in Boston.
It is hardly necessary to go over the history of the Old South, except,
perhaps, to refresh the memory of those who live outside of Boston. The
Old South Society was organized in 1669, and the ground on which the old
meetinghouse now stands was given by Mrs. Norton, the widow of Rev. John
Norton, since deceased. The first structure was of wood, and in 1729 the
present brick building succeeded it. King's Handbook of Boston says: "It
is one of the few historic buildings that have been allowed to remain in
this iconoclastic age."
So it seems that they are troubled with iconoclasts in Boston, too. I
thought I saw one hanging around the Old South on the day I was there, and
had a good notion to point him out to the authorities, but thought it was
none of my business.
I went into the building and registered, and then from force of habit or
absent-mindedness handed my umbrella over the counter and asked how soon
supper would be ready. Everybody registers, but very few, I am told, ask
how soon supper will be ready. The Old South is now run on the European
The old meeting-house is chiefly remarkable for the associations that
cluster around it. Two centuries hover about the ancient weather-vane and
look down upon the visitor when the weather is favorable.
Benjamin Franklin was baptized and attended worship here, prior to his
wonderful invention of lightning. Here on each succeeding Sabbath sat the
man who afterwards snared the forked lightning with a string and put it
in a jug for future generations. Here Whitefield preached and the rebels
discussed the tyranny of the British king. Warren delivered his famous
speech here upon the anniversary of the Boston massacre and the "tea
party" organized in this same building. Two hundred years ago exactly,
the British used the Old South as a military riding school, although a
majority of the people of Boston were not in favor of it.
It would be well to pause here and consider the trying situation in which
our ancestors were placed at that time. Coming to Massachusetts as they
did, at a time when the country was new and prices extremely high, they
had hoped to escape from oppression and establish themselves so far away
from the tyrant that he could not come over here and disturb them without
suffering from the extreme nausea incident to a long sea voyage. Alas,
however, when they landed at Plymouth rock there was not a decent hotel in
the place. The same stern and rock-bound coast which may be discovered
along the Atlantic sea-board to-day was there, and a cruel, relentless sky
frowned upon their endeavors.
Where prosperous cities now flaunt to the sky their proud domes and
floating debts, the rank jimson weed nodded in the wind and the pumpkin
pie of to-day still slumbered in the bosom of the future. What glorious
facts have, under the benign influence of fostering centuries, been born
of apparent impossibility. What giant certainties have grown through these
years from the seeds of doubt and discouragement and uncertainty! (Big
firecrackers and applause.)
[Illustration: MR. FRANKLIN EXPERIMENTS.]
At that time our ancestors had but timidly embarked in the forefather
business. They did not know that future generations in four-button
cutaways would rise up and call them blessed and pass resolutions of
respect on their untimely death. If they stayed at home the king taxed
them all out of shape, and if they went out of Boston a few rods to get
enough huckleberries for breakfast, they would frequently come home so
full of Indian arrows that they could not get through a common door
without great pain.
Such was the early history of the country where now cultivation and
education and refinement run rampant and people sit up all night to print
newspapers so that we can have them in the morning.
The land on which the Old South stands is very valuable for business
purposes, and $400,000 will have to be raised in order to preserve the old
landmark to future generations. I earnestly hope that it will be secured,
and that the old meeting-house--dear not alone to the people of Boston,
but to the millions of Americans scattered from sea to sea, who cannot
forget where first universal freedom plumed its wings--will be spared to
entertain within its hospitable walls, enthusiastic and reverential
visitors for ages without end.
Knights of the Pen.
When you come to think of it, it is surprising that so many newspaper men
write so that any one but an expert can read it. The rapid and voluminous
work, especially of daily journalism, knocks the beautiful business
college penman, as a rule, higher than a kite. I still have specimens of
my own handwriting that a total stranger could read.
I do not remember a newspaper acquaintance whose penmanship is so
characteristic of the exacting neatness and sharp, clear cut style of the
man, as is that of Eugene Field, of the Chicago _News_. As the "Nonpareil
Writer" of the Denver _Tribune_, it was a mystery to me when he did the
work which the paper showed each day as his own. You would sometimes find
him at his desk, writing on large sheets of "print paper" with a pen and
violet ink, in a hand that was as delicate as the steel plate of a bank
note and the kind of work that printers would skirmish for. He would ask
you to sit down in the chair opposite his desk, which had two or three old
exchanges thrown on it. He would probably say, "Never mind those papers.
I've read them. Just sit down on them if you want to." Encouraged by his
hearty manner, you would sit down, and you would continue to sit down till
you had protruded about three-fourths of your system through that hollow
mockery of a chair. Then he would run to help you out and curse the chair,
and feel pained because he had erroneously given you the ruin with no seat
to it. He always felt pained over such things. He always suffered keenly
and felt shocked over the accident until you had gone away, and then he
would sigh heavily and "set" the chair again.
[Illustration: THE RUIN.]
Frank Pixley, the editor of the San Francisco _Argonaut_, is not
beautiful, though the _Argonaut_ is. He is grim and rather on the Moses
Montefiore style of countenance, but his hand-writing does not convey the
idea of the man personally, or his style of dealing with the Chinese
question. It is rather young looking, and has the uncertain manner of an
Robert J. Burdette writes a small but plain hand, though he sometimes
suffers from the savage typographical error that steals forth at such a
moment as ye think not, and disfigures and tears and mangles the bright
eyed children of the brain.
Very often we read a man's work and imagine we shall find him like it,
cheery, bright and entertaining; but we know him and find that personally
he is a refrigerator, or an egotist, or a man with a torpid liver and a
nose like a rose geranium. You will not be disappointed in Bob Burdette,
however, You think you will like him, and you always do. He will never be
too famous to be a gentleman.
George W. Peck's hand is of the free and independent order of chirography.
It is easy and natural, but not handsome. He writes very voluminously,
doing his editorial writing in two days of the week, generally Friday and
Saturday. Then he takes a rapid horse, a zealous bird dog and an improved
double barrel duck destroyer and communes with nature.
Sam Davis, an old time Californian, and now in Nevada, writes the freest
of any penman I know. When he is deliberate, he may be betrayed into
making a deformed letter and a crooked mark attached to it, which he
characterizes as a word. He puts a lot of these together and actually pays
postage on the collection under the delusion that it is a letter, that it
will reach its destination, and that it will accomplish its object.
He makes up for his bad writing, however, by being an unpublished volume
of old time anecdotes and funny experiences.
Goodwin, of the old _Territorial Enterprise_, and Mark Twain's old
employer, writes with a pencil in a methodical manner and very plainly.
The way he sharpens a "hard medium" lead pencil and skins the apostle of
the so-called Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, makes my heart
glad. Hardly a day passes that his life is not threatened by the low
browed thumpers of Mormondom, and yet the old war horse raises the
standard of monogamy and under the motto, "One country, one flag and one
wife at a time," he smokes his old meerschaum pipe and writes a column of
razor blades every day. He is the buzz saw upon which polygamy has tried
to sit. Fighting these rotten institutions hand to hand and fighting a
religious eccentricity through an annual message, or a feeble act of
congress, are two separate and distinct things.
If I had a little more confidence in my longevity than I now have, I would
go down there to the Valley of the Jordan, and I would gird up my loins,
and I would write with that lonely warrior at Salt Lake, and with the aid
and encouragement of our brethren of the press who do not favor the right
of one man to marry an old woman's home, we would rotten egg the bogus
Temple of Zion till the civilized world, with a patent clothes pin on its
nose, would come and see what was the matter.
I see that my zeal has led me away from my original subject, but I haven't
time to regret it now.
The Wild Cow.
When I was young and used to roam around over the country, gathering
water-melons in the light of the moon, I used to think I could milk
anybody's cow, but I do not think so now. I do not milk a cow now unless
the sign is right, and it hasn't been right for a good many years. The
last cow I tried to milk was a common cow, born in obscurity; kind of a
self-made cow. I remember her brow was low, but she wore her tail high and
she was haughty, oh, so haughty.
I made a common-place remark to her, one that is used in the very best of
society, one that need not have given offence anywhere. I said "So"--and
she "soed." Then I told her to "hist" and she histed. But I thought she
overdid it. She put too much expression in it.
Just then I heard something crash through the window of the barn and fall
with a dull, sickening thud on the outside. The neighbors came to see what
it was that caused the noise. They found that I had done it in getting
through the window.
I asked the neighbors if the barn was still standing. They said it was.
Then I asked if the cow was injured much. They said she seemed to be quite
robust. Then I requested them to go in and calm the cow a little, and see
if they could get my plug hat off her horns.
I am buying all my milk now of a milkman. I select a gentle milkman who
will not kick, and feel as though I could trust him. Then, if he feels as
though he could trust me, it is all right.
[Illustration: THE WILD COW.]
So many people have shown a pardonable curiosity about the above named
disease, and so few have a very clear idea of the thrill of pleasure it
affords the patient, unless they have enjoyed it themselves, that I have
decided to briefly say something in answer to the innumerable inquiries I
Up to the moment I had a notion of getting some meningitis, I had never
employed a physician. Since then I have been thrown in their society a
great deal. Most of them were very pleasant and scholarly gentlemen, who
will not soon be forgotten; but one of them doctored me first for
pneumonia, then for inflammatory rheumatism, and finally, when death was
contiguous, advised me that I must have change of scene and rest.
I told him that if he kept on prescribing for me, I thought I might depend
on both. Change of physicians, however, saved my life. This horse doctor,
a few weeks afterward, administered a subcutaneous morphine squirt in the
arm of a healthy servant girl because she had the headache, and she is now
with the rest of this veterinarian's patients in a land that is fairer
She lived six hours after she was prescribed for. He gave her change of
scene and rest. He has quite a thriving little cemetery filled with people
who have succeeded in cording up enough of his change of scene and rest to
last them through all eternity. He was called once to prescribe for a man
whose head had been caved in by a stone match-box, and, after treating the