Produced by Charles Franks, Beth Trapaga and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
By BILL NYE.
(EDGAR W. NYE.)
Ah Sin was his name;
And I shall not deny,
In regard to the same,
What the name might imply:
But his smile it was pensive and childlike, As I frequent remarked to Bill Nye.
With over one hundred and fifty illustrations, by J.H. SMITH.
[Illustration: Bill Nye]
This book is not designed specially for any one class of people. It is for all. It is a universal repository of thought. Some of my best thoughts are contained in this book. Whenever I would think a thought that I thought had better remain unthought, I would omit it from this book. For that reason the book is not so large as I had intended. When a man coldly and dispassionately goes at it to eradicate from his work all that may not come up to his standard of merit, he can make a large volume shrink till it is no thicker than the bank book of an outspoken clergyman.
This is the fourth book that I have published in response to the clamorous appeals of the public. Whenever the public got to clamoring too loudly for a new book from me and it got so noisy that I could not ignore it any more, I would issue another volume. The first was a red book, succeeded by a dark blue volume, after which I published a green book, all of which were kindly received by the American people, and, under the present yielding system of international copyright, greedily snapped up by some of the tottering dynasties.
But I had long hoped to publish a larger, better and, if possible, a redder book than the first; one that would contain my better thoughts, thoughts that I had thought when I was feeling well; thoughts that I had emitted while my thinker was rearing up on its hind feet, if I may be allowed that term; thoughts that sprang forth with a wild whoop and demanded recognition.
This book is the result of that hope and that wish. It is my greatest and best book. It is the one that will live for weeks after other books have passed away. Even to those who cannot read, it will come like a benison when there is no benison in the house. To the ignorant, the pictures will be pleasing. The wise will revel in its wisdom, and the housekeeper will find that with it she may easily emphasize a statement or kill a cockroach.
The range of subjects treated in this book is wonderful, even to me. It is a library of universal knowledge, and the facts contained in it are different from any other facts now in use. I have carefully guarded, all the way through, against using hackneyed and moth-eaten facts. As a result, I am able to come before the people with a set of new and attractive statements, so fresh and so crisp that an unkind word would wither them in a moment.
I believe there is nothing more to add, except that I most heartily endorse the book. It has been carefully read over by the proof-reader and myself, so we do not ask the public to do anything that we were not willing to do ourselves.
I cannot be responsible for the board of orphans whose parents read this book and leave their children in destitute circumstances.
A Bright Future for Pugilism
Accepting the Laramie Postoffice
A Collection of Keys
A Father’s Advice to his Son
A Father’s Letter
A Goat in a Frame
A Great Spiritualist
A Great Upheaval
A Journalistic Tenderfoot
A Letter of Regrets
All About Menials
All About Oratory
Along Lake Superior
A Lumber Camp
A Mountain Snowstorm
Anecdotes of Justice
Anecdotes of the Stage
A New Autograph Album
A New Play
An Operatic Entertainment
Answering an Invitation
Answers to Correspondents
A Peaceable Man
A Picturesque Picnic
A Powerful Speech
Asking for a Pass
A Spencerian Ass
A Thrilling Experience
A Wallula Night
B. Franklin, Deceased
Biography of Spartacus
Boston Common and Environs
Care of House Plants
Catching a Buffalo
Causes for Thanksgiving
Concerning Book Publishing
Crowns and Crowned Heads
Dogs and Dog Days
“Done It A-Purpose”
Down East Rum
Dr. Dizart’s Dog
Drunk in a Plug Hat
Early Day Justice
Eccentricities of Genius
Eccentricity in Lunch
Etiquette at Hotels
Every Man His Own Paper-Hanger
Extracts from a Queen’s Diary
Farming in Maine
Favored a Higher Fine
Fifteen Years Apart
General Sheridan’s Horse
George the Third
Great Sacrifice of Bric-a-Brac
Habits of a Literary Man
History of Babylon
Hours With Great Men
How Evolution Evolves
Insomnia in Domestic Animals
I Tried Milling
John Adams’ Diary
John Adams’ Diary, (No. 2.)
John Adams’ Diary, (No. 3.)
Knights of the Pen
Letter from New York
Letter to a Communist
Life Insurance as a Health Restorer Literary Freaks
Milling in Pompeii
More Paternal Correspondence
Mr. Sweeney’s Cat
Murray and the Mormons
Mush and Melody
My Experience as an Agriculturist
My Lecture Abroad
My School Days
No More Frontier
One Kind of Fool
Petticoats at the Polls
Polygamy as a Religious Duty
Preventing a Scandal
Recollections of Noah Webster
Rev. Mr. Hallelujah’s Hoss
Second Letter to the President
She Kind of Coaxed Him
Sixty Minutes in America
Skimming the Milky Way
Somnambulism and Crime
Squaw Jim’s Religion
Stirring Incidents at a Fire
Strabismus and Justice
Street Cars and Curiosities
The Amateur Carpenter
The Approaching Humorist
The Arabian Language
The Average Hen
The Bite of a Mad Dog
The Blase Young Man
The Board of Trade
The Cell Nest
The Chinese God
The Church Debt
The Cow Boy
The Duke of Rawhide
The Expensive Word
The Heyday of Life
The Holy Terror
The Indian Orator
The Little Barefoot Boy
The Miner at Home
The Old South
The Old Subscriber
The Opium Habit
The Photograph Habit
The Poor Blind Pig
The Sedentary Hen
The Silver Dollar
The Snake Indian
The Story of a Struggler
The Wail of a Wife
The Warrior’s Oration
The Ways of Doctors
The Weeping Woman
The Wild Cow
To a Married Man
To an Embryo Poet
To Her Majesty
To The President-Elect
Two Ways of Telling It
What We Eat
Woman’s Wonderful Influence
Woodtick William’s Story
Words About Washington
Wrestling With the Mazy
“You Heah Me, Sah!”
[Illustration: WE WERE NOT ON TERMS OF INTIMACY.]
My School Days.
Looking over my own school days, there are so many things that I would rather not tell, that it will take very little time and space for me to use in telling what I am willing that the carping public should know about my early history.
I began my educational career in a log school house. Finding that other great men had done that way, I began early to look around me for a log school house where I could begin in a small way to soak my system full of hard words and information.
For a time I learned very rapidly. Learning came to me with very little effort at first. I would read my lesson over once or twice and then take my place in the class. It never bothered me to recite my lesson and so I stood at the head of the class. I could stick my big toe through a knot-hole in the floor and work out the most difficult problem. This became at last a habit with me. With my knot-hole I was safe, without it I would hesitate.
A large red-headed boy, with feet like a summer squash and eyes like those of a dead codfish, was my rival. He soon discovered that I was very dependent on that knot-hole, and so one night he stole into the school house and plugged up the knot-hole, so that I could not work my toe into it and thus refresh my memory.
Then the large red-headed boy, who had not formed the knot-hole habit went to the head of the class and remained there.
After I grew larger, my parents sent me to a military school. That is where I got the fine military learning and stately carriage that I still wear.
My room was on the second floor, and it was very difficult for me to leave it at night, because the turnkey locked us up at 9 o’clock every evening. Still, I used to get out once in a while and wander around in the starlight. I did not know yet why I did it, but I presume it was a kind of somnambulism. I would go to bed thinking so intently of my lessons that I would get up and wander away, sometimes for miles, in the solemn night.
One night I awoke and found myself in a watermelon patch. I was never so ashamed in my life. It is a very serious thing to be awakened so rudely out of a sound sleep, by a bull dog, to find yourself in the watermelon vineyard of a man with whom you are not acquainted. I was not on terms of social intimacy with this man or his dog. They did not belong to our set. We had never been thrown together before.
After that I was called the great somnambulist and men who had watermelon conservatories shunned me. But it cured me of my somnambulism. I have never tried to somnambule any more since that time.
There are other little incidents of my schooldays that come trooping up in my memory at this moment, but they were not startling in their nature. Mine is but the history of one who struggled on year after year, trying to do better, but most always failing to connect. The boys of Boston would do well to study carefully my record and then–do differently.
Recollections of Noah Webster.
Mr. Webster, no doubt, had the best command of language of any American author prior to our day. Those who have read his ponderous but rather disconnected romance known as “Websters Unabridged Dictionary, or How One Word Led on to Another.” will agree with me that he was smart. Noah never lacked for a word by which to express himself. He was a brainy man and a good speller.
It would ill become me at this late day to criticise Mr. Webster’s great work–a work that is now in almost every library, school-room and counting house in the land. It is a great book. I do believe that had Mr. Webster lived he would have been equally fair in his criticism of my books.
I hate to compare my own works with those of Mr. Webster, because it may seem egotistical in me to point out the good points in my literary labors; but I have often heard it said, and so do not state it solely upon my own responsibility, that Mr. Webster’s book does not retain the interest of the reader all the way through.
He has tried to introduce too many characters, and so we cannot follow them all the way through. It is a good book to pick up and while away an idle hour with, perhaps, but no one would cling to it at night till the fire went out, chained to the thrilling plot and the glowing career of its hero.
Therein consists the great difference between Mr. Webster and myself. A friend of mine at Sing Sing once wrote me that from the moment he got hold of my book, he never left his room till he finished it. He seemed chained to the spot, he said, and if you can’t believe a convict, who is entirely out of politics, who in the name of George Washington can you believe?
Mr. Webster was most assuredly a brilliant writer, and I have discovered in his later editions 118,000 words, no two of which are alike. This shows great fluency and versatility, it is true, but we need something else. The reader waits in vain to be thrilled by the author’s wonderful word painting. There is not a thrill in the whole tome. I had heard so much of Mr. Webster that when I read his book I confess I was disappointed. It is cold, methodical and dispassionate in the extreme.
As I said, however, it is a good book to pick up for the purpose of whiling away an idle moment, and no one should start out on a long journey without Mr. Webster’s tale in his pocket. It has broken the monotony of many a tedious trip for me.
Mr. Webster’s “Speller” was a work of less pretentions, perhaps, and yet it had an immense sale. Eight years ago this book had reached a sale of 40,000,000, and yet it had the same grave defect. It was disconnected, cold, prosy and dull. I read it for years, and at last became a close student of Mr. Webster’s style, yet I never found but one thing in this book, for which there seems to have been such a perfect stampede, that was even ordinarily interesting, and that was a little gem. It was so thrilling in its details, and so diametrically different from Mr. Webster’s style, that I have often wondered who he got to write it for him. It related to the discovery of a boy by an elderly gentleman, in the crotch of an ancestral apple tree, and the feeling of bitterness and animosity that sprung up at the time between the boy and the elderly gentleman.
Though I have been a close student of Mr. Webster for years, I am free to say, and I do not wish to do an injustice to a great man in doing so, that his ideas of literature and my own are entirely dissimilar. Possibly his book has had a little larger sale than mine, but that makes no difference. When I write a book it must engage the interest of the reader, and show some plot to it. It must not be jerky in its style and scattering in its statements.
I know it is a great temptation to write a book that will sell, but we should have a higher object than that.
I do not wish to do an injustice to a man who has done so much for the world, and one who could spell the longest word without hesitation, but I speak of these things just as I would expect people to criticise my work. If we aspire to monkey with the literati of our day we must expect to be criticised. That’s the way I look at it.
P.S.–I might also state that Noah Webster was a member of the Legislature of Massachusetts at one time, and though I ought not to throw it up to him at this date, I think it is nothing more than right that the public should know the truth.
To Her Majesty.
To Queen Victoria, Regina Dei Gracia and acting mother-in-law on the side:
Dear Madame.–Your most gracious majesty will no doubt be surprised to hear from me after my long silence. One reason that I have not written for some time is that I had hoped to see you ere this, and not because I had grown cold. I desire to congratulate you at this time upon your great success as a mother-in-law, and your very exemplary career socially. As a queen you have given universal satisfaction, and your family have married well.
[Illustration: ADVERTISING THE ENTERPRISE.]
But I desired more especially to write you in relation to another matter. We are struggling here in America to establish an authors’ international copyright arrangement, whereby the authors of all civilized nations may be protected in their rights to the profits of their literary labor, and the movement so far has met with generous encouragement. As an author we desire your aid and endorsement. Could you assist us? We are giving this season a series of authors’ readings in New York to aid in prosecuting the work, and we would like to know whether we could not depend upon you to take a part in these readings, rendering selections from your late work.
I assure your most gracious majesty that you would meet some of our best literary people while here, and no pains would be spared to make your visit a pleasant one, aside from the reading itself. We would advertise your appearance extensively and get out a first-class audience on the occasion of your debut here.
[Illustration: QUEEN VIC. READING.]
An effort would be made to provide passes for yourself, and reduced rates, I think, could be secured for yourself and suite at the hotels. Of course you could do as you thought best about bringing suite, however. Some of us travel with our suites and some do not. I generally leave my suite at home, myself.
You would not need to make any special change as to costume for the occasion. We try to make it informal, so far as possible, and though some of us wear full dress we do not make that obligatory on those who take a part in the exercises. If you decide to wear your every-day reigning clothes it will not excite comment on the part of our literati. We do not judge an author or authoress by his or her clothes.
You will readily see that this will afford you an opportunity to appear before some of the best people of New York, and at the same time you will aid in a deserving enterprise.
It will also promote the sale of your book.
Perhaps you have all the royalty you want aside from what you may receive from the sale of your works, but every author feels a pardonable pride in getting his books into every household.
I would assure your most gracious majesty that your reception here as an authoress will in no way suffer because you are an unnaturalized foreigner. Any alien who feels a fraternal interest in the international advancement of thought and the universal encouragement of the good, the true and the beautiful in literature, will be welcome on these shores.
This is a broad land, and we aim to be a broad and cosmopolitan people. Literature and free, willing genius are not hemmed in by State or national linos. They sprout up and blossom under tropical skies no less than beneath the frigid aurora borealis of the frozen North. We hail true merit just as heartily and uproariously on a throne as we would anywhere else. In fact, it is more deserving, if possible, for one who has never tried it little knows how difficult it is to sit on a hard throne all day and write well. We are to recognize struggling genius wherever it may crop out. It is no small matter for an almost unknown monarch to reign all day and then write an article for the press or a chapter for a serial story, only, perhaps, to have it returned by the publishers. All these things are drawbacks to a literary life, that we here in America know little of.
I hope your most gracious majesty will decide to come, and that you will pardon this long letter. It will do you good to get out this way for a few weeks, and I earnestly hope that you will decide to lock up the house and come prepared to make quite a visit. We have some real good authors here now in America, and we are not ashamed to show them to any one. They are not only smart, but they are well behaved and know how to appear in company. We generally read selections from our own works, and can have a brass band to play between the selections, if thought best. For myself, I prefer to have a full brass band accompany me while I read. The audience also approves of this plan.
[Illustration: THE ACCOMPANIMENT.]
We have been having some very hot weather here for the past week, but it is now cooler. Farmers are getting in their crops in good shape, but wheat is still low in price, and cranberries are souring on the vines. All of our canned red raspberries worked last week, and we had to can them over again. Mr. Riel, who went into the rebellion business in Canada last winter, will be hanged in September if it don’t rain. It will be his first appearance on the gallows, and quite a number of our leading American criminals are going over to see his debut.
Hoping to hear from you by return mail or prepaid cablegram, I beg leave to remain your most gracious and indulgent majesty’s humble and obedient servant.
Habits of a Literary Man.
The editor of an Eastern health magazine, having asked for information relative to the habits, hours of work, and style and frequency of feed adopted by literary men, and several parties having responded who were no more essentially saturated with literature than I am, I now take my pen in hand to reveal the true inwardness of my literary life, so that boys, who may yearn to follow in my footsteps and wear a laurel wreath the year round in place of a hat, may know what the personal habits of a literary party are.
I rise from bed the first thing in the morning, leaving my couch not because I am dissatisfied with it, but because I cannot carry it with me during the day.
I then seat myself on the edge of the bed and devote a few moments to thought. Literary men who have never set aside a few moments on rising for thought will do well to try it.
I then insert myself into a pair of middle-aged pantaloons. It is needless to say that girls who may have a literary tendency will find little to interest them here.
Other clothing is added to the above from time to time. I then bathe myself. Still this is not absolutely essential to a literary life. Others who do not do so have been equally successful.
Some literary people bathe before dressing.
I then go down stairs and out to the barn, where I feed the horse. Some literary men feel above taking care of a horse, because there is really nothing in common between the care of a horse and literature, but simplicity is my watchword. T. Jefferson would have to rise early in the day to eclipse me in simplicity. I wish I had as many dollars as I have got simplicity.
I then go in to breakfast. This meal consists almost wholly of food. I am passionately fond of food, and I may truly say, with my hand on my heart, that I owe much of my great success in life to this inward craving, this constant yearning for something better.
During this meal I frequently converse with my family. I do not feel above my family, at least, if I do, I try to conceal it as much as possible. Buckwheat pancakes in a heated state, with maple syrup on the upper side, are extremely conducive to literature. Nothing jerks the mental faculties around with greater rapidity than buckwheat pancakes.
After breakfast the time is put in to good advantage looking forward to the time when dinner will be ready. From 8 to 10 A. M., however, I frequently retire to my private library hot-bed in the hay mow, and write 1,200 words in my forthcoming book, the price of which will be $2.50 in cloth and $4 with Russia back.
I then play Copenhagen with some little girls 21 years of age, who live near by, and of whom I am passionately fond.
After that I dig some worms, with a view to angling. I then angle. After this I return home, waiting until dusk, however, as I do not like to attract attention. Nothing is more distasteful to a truly good man of wonderful literary acquirements, and yet with singular modesty, than the coarse and rude scrutiny of the vulgar herd.
In winter I do not angle. I read the “Pirate Prince” or the “Missourian’s Mash,” or some other work, not so much for the plot as the style, that I may get my mind into correct channels of thought I then play “old sledge” in a rambling sort of manner. I sometimes spend an evening at home, in order to excite remark and draw attention to my wonderful eccentricity.
I do not use alcohol in any form, if I know it, though sometimes I am basely deceived by those who know of my peculiar prejudice, and who do it, too, because they enjoy watching my odd and amusing antics at the time.
Alcohol should be avoided entirely by literary workers, especially young women. There can be no more pitiable sight to the tender hearted, than a young woman of marked ability writing an obituary poem while under the influence of liquor.
I knew a young man who was a good writer. His penmanship was very good, indeed. He once wrote an article for the press while under the influence of liquor. He sent it to the editor, who returned it at once with a cold and cruel letter, every line of which was a stab. The letter came at a time when he was full of remorse.
He tossed up a cent to see whether he should blow out his brains or go into the ready-made clothing business. The coin decided that he should die by his own hand, but his head ached so that he didn’t feel like shooting into it. So he went into the ready-made clothing business, and now he pays taxes on $75,000, so he is probably worth $150,000. This, of course, salves over his wounded heart, but he often says to me that he might have been in the literary business to-day if he had let liquor alone.
A Father’s Letter.
My dear son.–Your letter of last week reached us yesterday, and I enclose $13, which is all I have by me at the present time. I may sell the other shote next week and make up the balance of what you wanted. I will probably have to wear the old buffalo overcoat to meetings again this winter, but that don’t matter so long as you are getting an education.
I hope you will get your education as cheap as you can, for it cramps your mother and me like Sam Hill to put up the money. Mind you, I don’t complain. I knew education come high, but I didn’t know the clothes cost so like sixty.
I want you to be so that you can go anywhere and spell the hardest word. I want you to be able to go among the Romans or the Medes and Persians and talk to any of them in their own native tongue.
I never had any advantages when I was a boy, but your mother and I decided that we would sock you full of knowledge, if your liver held out, regardless of expense. We calculate to do it, only we want you to go as slow on swallowtail coats as possible till we can sell our hay.
Now, regarding that boat-paddling suit, and that baseball suit, and that bathing suit, and that roller-rinktum suit, and that lawn-tennis suit, mind, I don’t care about the expense, because you say a young man can’t really educate himself thoroughly without them, but I wish you’d send home what you get through with this fall, and I’ll wear them through the winter under my other clothes. We have a good deal severer winters here than we used to, or else I’m failing in bodily health. Last winter I tried to go through without underclothes, the way I did when I was a boy, but a Manitoba wave came down our way and picked me out of a crowd with its eyes shet.
In your last letter you alluded to getting injured in a little “hazing scuffle with a pelican from the rural districts.” I don’t want any harm to come to you, my son, but if I went from the rural districts and another young gosling from the rural districts undertook to haze me, I would meet him when the sun goes down, and I would swat him across the back of the neck with a fence board, and then I would meander across the pit of his stomach and put a blue forget-me-not under his eye.
Your father aint much on Grecian mythology and how to get the square root of a barrel of pork, but he wouldn’t allow any educational institutions to haze him with impunity. Perhaps you remember once when you tried to haze your father a little, just to kill time, and how long it took you to recover. Anybody that goes at it right can have a good deal of fun with your father, but those who have sought to monkey with him, just to break up the monotony of life, have most always succeeded in finding what they sought.
[Illustration: RETRIBUTIVE JUSTICE.]
I ain’t much of a pensman, so you will have to excuse this letter. We are all quite well, except old Fan, who has a galded shoulder, and hope this will find you enjoying the same great blessing.
Archimedes, whose given name has been accidentally torn off and swallowed up in oblivion, was born in Syracuse, 2,171 years ago last spring. He was a philosopher and mathematical expert. During his life he was never successfully stumped in figures. It ill befits me now, standing by his new-made grave, to say aught of him that is not of praise. We can only mourn his untimely death, and wonder which of our little band of great men will be the next to go.
Archimedes was the first to originate and use the word “Eureka.” It has been successfully used very much lately, and as a result we have the Eureka baking powder, the Eureka suspender, the Eureka bed-bug buster, the Eureka shirt, and the Eureka stomach bitters. Little did Archimedes wot, when he invented this term, that it would come into such general use.
Its origin has been explained before, but it would not be out of place here for me to tell it as I call it to mind now, looking back over Archie’s eventful life.
King Hiero had ordered an eighteen karat crown, size 7-1/8, and, after receiving it from the hands of the jeweler, suspected that it had been adulterated. He therefore applied to Archimedes to ascertain, if possible, whether such was the case or not. Archimedes had just got in on No. 3, two hours late, and covered with dust. He at once started for a hot and cold bath emporium on Sixteenth street, meantime wondering how the dickens he would settle that crown business.
He filled the bath-tub level full, and, piling up his raiment on the floor, jumped in. Displacing a large quantity of water, equal to his own bulk, he thereupon solved the question of specific gravity, and, forgetting his bill, forgetting his clothes, he sailed up Sixteenth street and all over Syracuse, clothed in shimmering sunlight and a plain gold ring, shouting “Eureka!” He ran head-first into a Syracuse policeman and howled “Eureka!” The policeman said: “You’ll have to excuse me; I don’t know him.” He scattered the Syracuse Normal school on its way home, and tried to board a Fifteenth street bob-tail car, yelling “Eureka!” The car-driver told him that Eureka wasn’t on the car, and referred Archimedes to a clothing store.
Everywhere he was greeted with surprise. He tried to pay his car-fare, but found that he had left his money in his other clothes.
Some thought it was the revised statute of Hercules; that he had become weary of standing on his pedestal during the hot weather, and had started out for fresh air. I give this as I remember it. The story is foundered on fact.
Archimedes once said: “Give me where I may stand, and I will move the world.” I could write it in the original Greek, but, fearing that the nonpareil delirium tremens type might get short, I give it in the English language.
It may be tardy justice to a great mathematician and scientist, but I have a few resolutions of respect which I would be very glad to get printed on this solemn occasion, and mail copies of the paper to his relatives and friends:
“WHEREAS, It has pleased an All-wise Providence to remove from our midst Archimedes, who was ever at the front in all deserving labors and enterprises; and
“WHEREAS, We can but feebly express our great sorrow in the loss of Archimedes, whose front name has escaped our memory; therefore
“_Resolved_, That in his death we have lost a leading citizen of Syracuse, and one who never shook his friends–never weakened or gigged back on those he loved.
“_Resolved_, That copies of these resolutions will be spread on the moments of the meeting of the Common Council of Syracuse, and that they be published in the Syracuse papers eodtfpdq&cod, and that marked copies of said papers be mailed to the relatives of the deceased.”
To the President-Elect.
Dear Sir.–The painful duty of turning over to you the administration of these United States and the key to the front door of the White House has been assigned to me. You will find the key hanging inside the storm-door, and the cistern-pole up stairs in the haymow of the barn. I have made a great many suggestions to the outgoing administration relative to the transfer of the Indian bureau from the department of the Interior to that of the sweet by-and-by. The Indian, I may say, has been a great source of annoyance to me, several of their number having jumped one of my most valuable mining claims on White river. Still, I do not complain of that. This mine, however, I am convinced would be a good paying property if properly worked, and should you at any time wish to take the regular army and such other help as you may need and re-capture it from our red brothers, I would be glad to give you a controlling interest in it.
[Illustration: A DEARTH OF SOAP IN THE LAUNDRY AND BATH-ROOM.]
You will find all papers in their appropriate pigeon-holes, and a small jar of cucumber pickles down cellar, which were left over and to which you will be perfectly welcome. The asperities and heart burnings that were the immediate result of a hot and unusually bitter campaign are now all buried. Take these pickles and use them as though they were your own. They are none too good for you. You deserve them. We may differ politically, but that need not interfere with our warm personal friendship.
You will observe on taking possession of the administration, that the navy is a little bit weather-beaten and wormy. I would suggest that it be newly painted in the spring. If it had been my good fortune to receive a majority of the suffrages of the people for the office which you now hold, I should have painted the navy red. Still, that need not influence you in the course which you may see fit to adopt.
There are many affairs of great moment which I have not enumerated in this brief letter, because I felt some little delicacy and timidity about appearing to be at all dictatorial or officious about a matter wherein the public might charge me with interference.
I hope you will receive the foregoing in a friendly spirit, and whatever your convictions may be upon great questions of national interest, either foreign or domestic, that you will not undertake to blow out the gas on retiring, and that you will in other ways realize the fond anticipations which are now cherished in your behalf by a mighty people whose aggregated eye is now on to you.
P.S.–You will be a little surprised, no doubt, to find no soap in the laundry or bath-rooms. It probably got into the campaign in some way and was absorbed.
The word anatomy is derived from two Greek spatters and three polywogs, which, when translated, signify “up through” and “to cut,” so that anatomy actually, when translated from the original wappy-jawed Greek, means to cut up through. That is no doubt the reason why the medical student proceeds to cut up through the entire course.
[Illustration: STUDYING ANATOMY.]
Anatomy is so called because its best results are obtained from the cutting or dissecting of organism. For that reason there is a growing demand in the neighborhood of the medical college for good second-hand organisms. Parties having well preserved organisms that they are not actually using, will do well to call at the side door of the medical college after 10 P.M.
The branch of the comparative anatomy which seeks to trace the unities of plan which are exhibited in diverse organisms, and which discovers, as far as may be, the principles which govern the growth and development of organized bodies, and which finds functional analogies and structural homologies, is denominated philosophical or transcendental anatomy. (This statement, though strictly true, is not original with me.)
Careful study of the human organism after death, shows traces of functional analogies and structural homologies in people who were supposed to have been in perfect health all their lives Probably many of those we meet in the daily walks of life, many, too, who wear a smile and outwardly seem happy, have either one or both of these things. A man may live a false life and deceive his most intimate friends in the matter of anatomical analogies or homologies, but he cannot conceal it from the eagle eye of the medical student. The ambitious medical student makes a specialty of true inwardness.
The study of the structure of animals is called zootomy. The attempt to study the anatomical structure of the grizzly bear from the inside has not been crowned with success. When the anatomizer and the bear have been thrown together casually, it has generally been a struggle between the two organisms to see which would make a study of the structure of the other. Zootomy and moral suasion are not homogeneous, analogous, nor indigenous.
Vegetable anatomy is called phytonomy, sometimes. But it would not be safe to address a vigorous man by that epithet. We may call a vegetable that, however, and be safe.
Human anatomy is that branch of anatomy which enters into the description of the structure and geographical distribution of the elements of a human being. It also applies to the structure of the microbe that crawls out of jail every four years just long enough to whip his wife, vote and go back again.
Human anatomy is either general, specific, topographical or surgical. Those terms do not imply the dissection and anatomy of generals, specialists, topographers and surgeons, as they might seem to imply, but really mean something else. I would explain here what they actually do mean if I had more room and knew enough to do it.
Anatomists divide their science, as well as their subjects, into fragments. Osteology treats of the skeleton, myology of the muscles, angiology of the blood vessels, splanchology the digestive organs or department of the interior, and so on.
People tell pretty tough stories of the young carvists who study anatomy on subjects taken from life. I would repeat a few of them here, but they are productive of insomnia, so I will not give them.
I visited a matinee of this kind once for a short time, but I have not been there since. When I have a holiday now, the idea of spending it in the dissecting-room of a large and flourishing medical college does not occur to me.
I never could be a successful surgeon, I fear. While I have no hesitation about mutilating the English, I have scruples about cutting up other nationalities. I should always fear, while pursuing my studies, that I might be called upon to dissect a friend, and I could not do that. I should like to do anything that would advance the cause of science, but I should not want to form the habit of dissecting people, lest some day I might be called upon to dissect a friend for whom I had a great attachment, or some creditor who had an attachment for me.
Mr. Sweeney’s Cat.
Robert Ormsby Sweeney is a druggist of St. Paul, and though a recent chronological record reveals the fact that he is a direct descendant of a sure-enough king, and though there is mighty good purple, royal blood in his veins that dates back where kings used to have something to do to earn their salary, he goes right on with his regular business, selling drugs at the great sacrifice which druggists will make sometimes in order to place their goods within the reach of all.
As soon as I learned that Mr. Sweeney had barely escaped being a crowned head, I got acquainted with him and tried to cheer him up, and I told him that people wouldn’t hold him in any way responsible, and that as it hadn’t shown itself in his family for years he might perhaps finally wear it out.
He is a mighty pleasant man to meet, anyhow, and you can have just as much fun with him as you could with a man who didn’t have any royal blood in his veins. You could be with him for days on a fishing trip and never notice it at all.
But I was going to speak more in particular about Mr. Sweeney’s cat. Mr. Sweeney had a large cat, named Dr. Mary Walker, of which he was very fond. Dr. Mary Walker remained at the drug store all the time, and was known all over St. Paul as a quiet and reserved cat. If Dr. Mary Walker took in the town after office hours, nobody seemed to know anything about it. She would be around bright and cheerful the next morning and attend to her duties at the store just as though nothing whatever had happened.
One day last summer Mr. Sweeney left a large plate of fly-paper with water on it in the window, hoping to gather in a few quarts of flies in a deceased state. Dr. Mary Walker used to go to this window during the afternoon and look out on the busy street while she called up pleasant memories of her past life. That afternoon she thought she would call up some more memories, so she went over on the counter and from there jumped down on the window-sill, landing with all four feet in the plate of fly-paper.
At first she regarded it as a joke, and treated the matter very lightly, but later on she observed that the fly-paper stuck to her feet with great tenacity of purpose. Those who have never seen the look of surprise and deep sorrow that a cat wears when she finds herself glued to a whole sheet of fly-paper, cannot fully appreciate the way Dr. Mary Walker felt. She did not dash wildly through a $150 plate-glass window, as some cats would have done. She controlled herself and acted in the coolest manner, though you could have seen that mentally she suffered intensely. She sat down a moment to more fully outline a plan for the future. In doing so, she made a great mistake. The gesture resulted in glueing the fly-paper to her person in such a way that the edge turned up behind in the most abrupt manner, and caused her great inconvenience.
[Illustration: AT FIRST SHE REGARDED IT AS A JOKE.]
Some one at that time laughed in a coarse and heartless way, and I wish you could have seen the look of pain that Dr. Mary Walker gave him.
Then she went away. She did not go around the prescription case as the rest of us did, but strolled through the middle of it, and so on out through the glass door at the rear of the store. We did not see her go through the glass door, but we found pieces of fly-paper and fur on the ragged edges of a large aperture in the glass, and we kind of jumped at the conclusion that Dr. Mary Walker had taken that direction in retiring from the room.
Dr. Mary Walker never returned to St. Paul, and her exact whereabouts are not known, though every effort was made to find her. Fragments of flypaper and brindle hair were found as far west as the Yellowstone National Park, and as far north as the British line, but the doctor herself was not found. My own theory is, that if she turned her bow to the west so as to catch the strong easterly gale on her quarter, with the sail she had set and her tail pointing directly toward the zenith, the chances for Dr. Mary Walker’s immediate return are extremely slim.
The Heyday of Life.
There will always be a slight difference in the opinions of the young and the mature, relative to the general plan on which the solar system should be operated, no doubt. There are also points of disagreement in other matters, and it looks as though there always would be.
To the young the future has a more roseate hue. The roseate hue comes high, but we have to use it in this place. To the young there spreads out across the horizon a glorious range of possibilities. After the youth has endorsed for an intimate friend a few times, and purchased the paper at the bank himself later on, the horizon won’t seem to horizon so tumultuously as it did aforetime. I remember at one time of purchasing such a piece of accommodation paper at a bank, and I still have it. I didn’t need it any more than a cat needs eleven tails at one and the same time. Still the bank made it an object for me, and I secured it. Such things as these harshly knock the flush and bloom off the cheek of youth, and prompt us to turn the strawberry box bottom side up before we purchase it.
Youth is gay and hopeful, age is covered with experience and scars where the skin has been knocked off and had to grow on again. To the young a dollar looks large and strong, but to the middle-aged and the old it is weak and inefficient.
When we are in the heyday and fizz of existence, we believe everything; but after awhile we murmur: “What’s that you are givin’ us,” or words of like character. Age brings caution and a lot of shop-worn experience, purchased at the highest market price. Time brings vain regrets and wisdom teeth that can be left in a glass of water over night.
Still we should not repine. If people would repine less and try harder to get up an appetite by persweating in someone’s vineyard at so much per diem, it would be better. The American people of late years seem to have a deeper and deadlier repugnance for mannish industry, and there seems to be a growing opinion that our crops are more abundant when saturated with foreign perspiration. European sweat, if I may be allowed to use such a low term, is very good in its place, but the native-born Duke of Dakota, or the Earl of York State should remember that the matter of perspiration and posterity should not be left solely to the foreigner.
There are too many Americans who toil not, neither do they spin. They would be willing to have an office foisted upon them, but they would rather blow their so-called brains out than to steer a pair of large steel-gray mules from day to day. They are too proud to hoe corn, for fear some great man will ride by and see the termination of their shirts extending out through the seats of their pantaloons, but they are not too proud to assign their shattered finances to a friend and their shattered remains to the morgue.
Pride is all right if it is the right kind, but the pride that prompts a man to kill his mother, because she at last refuses to black his boots any more, is an erroneous pride. The pride that induces a man to muss up the carpet with his brains because there is nothing left for him to do but to labor, is the kind that Lucifer had when he bolted the action of the convention and went over to the red-hot minority.
Youth is the spring-time of life. It is the time to acquire information, so that we may show it off in after years and paralyze people with what we know. The wise youth will “lay low” till he gets a whole lot of knowledge, and then in later days turn it loose in an abrupt manner. He will guard against telling what he knows, a little at a time. That is unwise. I once knew a youth who wore himself out telling people all he knew from day to day, so that when he became a bald-headed man he was utterly exhausted and didn’t have anything left to tell anyone. Some of the things that we know should be saved for our own use. The man who sheds all his knowledge, and don’t leave enough to keep house with, fools himself.
Two delegates to the General Convocation of the Sons of Ice Water were sitting in the lobby of the Windsor, in the city of Denver, not long ago, strangers to each other and to everybody else. One came from Huerferno county, and the other was a delegate from the Ice Water Encampment of Correjos county.
From the beautiful billiard hall came the sharp rattle of ivory balls, and in the bar-room there was a glitter of electric light, cut glass, and French plate mirrors. Out of the door came the merry laughter of the giddy throng, flavored with fragrant Havana smoke and the delicate odor of lemon and mirth and pine apple and cognac.
The delegate from Correjos felt lonely, and he turned to the Ice Water representative from Huerferno:
“That was a bold and fearless speech you made this afternoon on the demon rum at the convocation.”
“Think so?” said the sad Huerferno man.
“Yes, you entered into the description of rum’s maniac till I could almost see the red-eyed centipedes and tropical hornets in the air. How could you describe the jimjams so graphically?”
“Well, you see, I’m a reformed drunkard. Only a little while ago I was in the gutter.”
“So was I.”
“How long ago?”
“Week ago day after to-morrow.”
“Next Tuesday it’ll be a week since I quit.”
“Well, I swan!”
“Ain’t it funny?”
“It’s going to be a long, cold winter; don’t you think so?”
“Yes, I dread it a good deal.”
“It’s a comfort, though, to know that you never will touch rum again.”
“Yes, I am glad in my heart to-night that I am free from it. I shall never touch rum again.”
When he said this he looked up at the other delegate, and they looked into each other’s eyes earnestly, as though each would read the other’s soul. Then the Huerferno man said:
“In fact, I never did care much for rum.”
Then there was a long pause.
Finally the Correjos man ventured: “Do you have to use an antidote to cure the thirst?”
“Yes, I’ve had to rely on that a good deal at first. Probably this vain yearning that I now feel in the pit of the bosom will disappear after awhile.”
“Have you got any antidote with you?”
“Yes, I’ve got some up in 232-1/2. If you’ll come up I’ll give you a dose.”
“There’s no rum in it, is there?”
Then they went up the elevator. They did not get down to breakfast, but at dinner they stole in. Tho man from Huerferno dodged nervously through the archway leading to the dining-room as though he had doubts about getting through so small a space with his augmented head, and the man from Correjos looked like one who had wept his eyes almost blind over the woe that rum has wrought in our fair land.
When the waiter asked the delegate from Correjos for his dessert order, the red-nosed Son of Ice Water said: “Bring me a cup of tea, some pudding without wine sauce, and a piece of mince pie. You may also bring me a corkscrew, if you please, to pull the brandy out of the mince pie with.”
Then the two reformed drunkards looked at each other, and laughed a hoarse, bitter and joyous laugh.
At the afternoon session of the Sons of Ice Water, the Huerferno delegate couldn’t get his regalia over his head.
Second Letter to the President.
To the President.–I write this letter not on my own account, but on behalf of a personal friend of mine who is known as a mugwump. He is a great worker for political reform, but he cannot spell very well, so he has asked me to write this letter. He knew that I had been thrown among great men all my life, and that, owing to my high social position and fine education, I would be peculiarly fitted to write you in a way that would not call forth disagreeable remarks, and so he has given me the points and I have arranged them for you.
In the first place, my friend desires me to convey to you, Mr. President, in a delicate manner, and in such language as to avoid giving offense, that he is somewhat disappointed in your Cabinet. I hate to talk this way to a bran-new President, but my friend feels hurt and he desires that I should say to you that he regrets your short-sighted policy. He says that it seems to him there is very little in the course of the administration so far to encourage a man to shake off old party ties and try to make men better. He desires to say that after conversing with a large number of the purest men, men who have been in both political parties off and on for years and yet have never been corrupted by office, men who have left convention after convention in years past because those conventions were corrupt and endorsed other men than themselves for office, he finds that your appointment of Cabinet officers will only please two classes, viz: Democrats and Republicans.
[Illustration: WORKING FOR REFORM.]
Now, what do you care for an administration which will only gratify those two old parties? Are you going to snap your fingers in disdain at men who admit that they are superior to anybody else? Do you want history to chronicle the fact that President Cleveland accepted the aid of the pure and highly cultivated gentlemen who never did anything naughty or unpretty, and then appointed his Cabinet from men who had been known for years as rude, naughty Democrats?
My friend says that he feels sure you would not have done so if you had fully realized how he felt about it. He claims that in the first week of your administration you have basely truckled to the corrupt majority. You have shown yourself to be the friend of men who never claimed to be truly good.
If you persist in this course you will lose the respect and esteem of my friend and another man who is politically pure, and who has never smirched his escutcheon with an office. He has one of the cleanest and most vigorous escutcheons in that county. He never leaves it out over night during the summer, and in the winter he buries it in sawdust. Both of these men will go back to the Republican party in 1888 if you persist in the course you have thus far adopted. They would go back now if the Republican party insisted on it.
Mr. President, I hate to write to you in this tone of voice, because I know the pain it will give you. I once held an office myself, Mr. President, and it hurt my feelings very much to have a warm personal friend criticise my official acts.
The worst feature of the whole thing, Mr. President, is that it will encourage crime. If men who never committed any crime are allowed to earn their living by the precarious methods peculiar to manual labor, and if those who have abstained from office for years, by request of many citizens, are to be denied the endorsement of the administration, they will lose courage to go on and do right in the future. My friend desires to state vicariously, in the strongest terms, that both he and his wife feel the same way about it, and they will not promise to keep it quiet any longer. They feel like crippling the administration in every way they can if the present policy is to be pursued.
He says he dislikes to begin thus early to threaten a President who has barely taken off his overshoes and drawn his mileage, but he thinks it may prevent a recurrence of these unfortunate mistakes. He claims that you have totally misunderstood the principles of the mugwumps all the way through. You seem to regard the reform movement as one introduced for the purpose of universal benefit. This was not the case. While fully endorsing and supporting reform, he says that they did not go into it merely to kill time or simply for fun. He also says that when he became a reformer and supported you, he did not think there were so many prominent Democrats who would have claims upon you. He can only now deplore the great national poverty of offices and the boundless wealth of raw material in the Democratic party from which to supply even that meagre demand.
He wishes me to add, also, that you must have over-estimated the zeal of his party for civil service reform. He says that they did not yearn for civil service reform so much as many people seem to think.
I must now draw this letter to a close. We are all well with the exception of colds in the head, but nothing that need give you any uneasiness. Our large seal-brown hen last week, stimulated by a rising egg market, over-exerted herself, and on Saturday evening, as the twilight gathered, she yielded to a complication of pip and softening of the brain and expired in my arms. She certainly led a most exemplary life and the forked tongue of slander could find naught to utter against her.
Hoping that you are enjoying the same great blessing and that you will write as often as possible without waiting for me, I remain,
Very respectfully yours,
Milling in Pompeii.
While visiting Naples, last fall, I took a great interest in the wonderful museum there, of objects that have been exhumed from the ruins of Pompeii. It is a remarkable collection, including, among other things, the cumbersome machinery of a large woolen factory, the receipts, contracts, statements of sales, etc., etc., of bankers, brokers, and usurers. I was told that the exhumist also ran into an Etruscan bucket-shop in one part of the city, but, owing to the long, dry spell, the buckets had fallen to pieces.
The object which engrossed my attention the most, however, was what seems to have been a circular issued prior to the great volcanic vomit of 79 A.D., and no doubt prior even to the Christian era. As the date is torn off however, we are left to conjecture the time at which it was issued. I was permitted to make a copy of it, and with the aid of my hired man, I have translated it with great care.
Office of Lucretius & Procalus,
Flour, Bran, Shorts, Middlings, Screenings, Etruscan Hen Feed, and Other Choice Bric-A-Brac.
_Highest Cash Price Paid for Neapolitan Winter Wheat and Roman Corn
Why haul your Wheat through the sand to Herculaneum when we pay the same price here?_
Office and Mill, Via VIII, Near the Stabian Gate, Only Thirteen Blocks From the P.O., Pompeii.
Dear Sir: This circular has been called out by another one issued last month by Messrs. Toecorneous & Chilblainicus, alleged millers and wheat buyers of Herculaneum, in which they claim to pay a quarter to a half-cent more per bushel than we do for wheat, and charge us with docking the farmers around Pompeii a pound per bushel more than necessary for cockle, wild buck-wheat, and pigeon-grass seed. They make the broad statement that we have made all our money in that way, and claim that Mr. Lucretius, of our mill, has erected a fine house, which the farmers allude to as the “wild buckwheat villa.”
[Illustration: TWO OLD ROMANS.]
We do not, as a general rule, pay any attention to this kind of stuff; but when two snide romans, who went to Herculaneum without a dollar and drank stale beer out of an old Etruscan tomato-can the first year they were there, assail our integrity, we feel justified in making a prompt and final reply. We desire to state to the Roman farmers that we do not test their wheat with the crooked brass tester that has made more money for Messrs. Toecorneous & Chilblainicus than their old mill has. We do not do that kind of business. Neither do we buy a man’s wheat at a cash price and then work off four or five hundred pounds of XXXX Imperial hog feed on him in part payment. When we buy a man’s wheat we pay him in money. We do not seek to fill him up with sour Carthagenian cracked wheat and orders on the store.
We would also call attention to the improvements that we have just made in our mill. Last week we put a handle in the upper burr, and we have also engaged one of the best head millers in Pompeii to turn the crank day-times. Our old head miller will oversee the business at night, so that the mill will be in full blast night and day, except when the head miller has gone to his meals or stopped to spit on his hands.
The mill of our vile contemporaries at Herculaneum is an old one that was used around Naples one hundred years ago to smash rock for the Neapolitan road, and is entirely out of repair. It was also used in a brick-yard here near Pompeii; then an old junk man sold it to a tenderfoot from Jerusalem as an ice-cream freezer. He found that it would not work, and so used it to grind up potato bugs for blisters. Now it is grinding ostensible flour at Herculaneum.
We desire to state to the farmers about Pompeii and Herculaneum that we aim to please. We desire to make a grade of flour this summer that will not have to be run through the coffee mill before it can be used. We will also pay you the highest price for good wheat, and give you good weight. Our capacity is now greatly enlarged, both as to storage and grinding. We now turn out a sack of flour, complete and ready for use, every little while. We have an extra handle for the mill, so that in case of accident to the one now in use, we need not shut down but a few moments. We call attention to our XXXX Git-there brand of flour. It is the best flour in the market for making angels’ food and other celestial groceries. We fully warrant it, and will agree that for every sack containing whole kernels of corn, corncobs, or other foreign substances, not thoroughly pulverized, we will refund the money already paid, and show the person through our mill.
[Illustration: ANCIENT ROMAN MILLER.]
We would also like to call the attention of farmers and housewives around Pompeii to our celebrated Dough Squatter. It is purely automatic in its operation, requiring only two men to work it. With this machine two men will knead all the bread they can eat and do it easily, feeling thoroughly refreshed at night. They also avoid that dark maroon taste in the mouth so common in Pompeii on arising in the morning.
To those who do not feel able to buy one of these machines, we would say that we have made arrangements for the approaching season, so that those who wish may bring their dough to our mammoth squatter and get it treated at our place at the nominal price of two bits per squat. Strangers calling for their squat or unsquat dough, will have to be identified.
Do not forget the place, Via VIII, near Stabian gate.
Lucretius & Peocalus,
Dealers in choice family flour, cut feed and oatmeal with or without clinkers in it. Try our lumpless bran for indigestion.
Speaking about cowboys, Sam Stewart, known from Montana to Old Mexico as Broncho Sam, was the chief. He was not a white man, an Indian, a greaser or a negro, but he had the nose of an Indian warrior, the curly hair of an African, and the courtesy and equestrian grace of a Spaniard. A wide reputation as a “broncho breaker” gave him his name.
To master an untamed broncho and teach him to lead, to drive and to be safely-ridden was Sam’s mission during the warm weather when he was not riding the range. His special delight was to break the war-like heart of the vicious wild pony of the plains and make him the servant of man.
I’ve seen him mount a hostile “bucker,” and, clinching his italic legs around the body of his adversary, ride him till the blood would burst from Sam’s nostrils and spatter horse and rider like rain. Most everyone knows what the bucking of the barbarous Western horse means. The wild horse probably learned it from the antelope, for the latter does it the same way, i.e., he jumps straight up into the air, at the same instant curving his back and coming down stiff-legged, with all four of his feet in a bunch. The concussion is considerable.
I tried it once myself. I partially rode a roan broncho one spring day, which will always be green in my memory. The day, I mean, not the broncho.
It occupied my entire attention to safely ride the cunning little beast, and when he began to ride me I put in a minority report against it.
I have passed through an earthquake and an Indian outbreak, but I would rather ride an earthquake without saddle or bridle than to bestride a successful broncho eruption. I remember that I wore a large pair of Mexican spurs, but I forgot them until the saddle turned. Then I remembered them. Sitting down on them in an impulsive way brought them to my mind. Then the broncho steed sat down on me, and that gave the spurs an opportunity to make a more lasting impression on my mind.
To those who observed the charger with the double “cinch” across his back and the saddle in front of him like a big leather corset, sitting at the same time on my person, there must have been a tinge of amusement; but to me it was not so frolicsome.
There may be joy in a wild gallop across the boundless plains, in the crisp morning, on the back of a fleet broncho; but when you return with your ribs sticking through your vest, and find that your nimble steed has returned to town two hours ahead of you, there is a tinge of sadness about it all.
Broncho Sam, however, made a specialty of doing all the riding himself. He wouldn’t enter into any compromise and allow the horse to ride him.
In a reckless moment he offered to bet ten dollars that he could mount and ride a wild Texas steer. The money was put up. That settled it. Sam never took water. This was true in a double sense. Well, he climbed the cross-bar of the corral-gate, and asked the other boys to turn out their best steer, Marquis of Queensbury rules.
As the steer passed out, Sam slid down and wrapped those parenthetical legs of his around that high-headed, broad-horned brute, and he rode him till the fleet-footed animal fell down on the buffalo grass, ran his hot red tongue out across the blue horizon, shook his tail convulsively, swelled up sadly and died.
It took Sam four days to walk back.
A ten-dollar bill looks as large to me as the star spangled banner, some times; but that is an avenue of wealth that had not occurred to me.
I’d rather ride a buzz-saw at two dollars a day and found.
[Illustration: A BRONCO ERUPTION.]
How Evolution Evolves.
The following paper was read by me in a clear, resonant tone of voice, before the Academy of Science and Pugilism at Erin Prairie, last month, and as I have been so continually and so earnestly importuned to print it that life was no longer desirable, I submit it to you for that purpose, hoping that you will print my name in large caps, with astonishers at the head of the article, and also in good display type at the close:
Some Features Of Evolution.
No one could possibly, in a brief paper, do the subject of evolution full justice. It is a matter of great importance to our lost and undone race. It lies near to every human heart, and exercises a wonderful influence over our impulses and our ultimate success or failure. When we pause to consider the opaque and fathomless ignorance of the great masses of our fellow men on the subject of evolution, it is not surprising that crime is rather on the increase, and that thousands of our race are annually filling drunkards’ graves, with no other visible means of support, while multitudes of enlightened human beings are at the same time obtaining a livelihood by meeting with felons’ dooms.
These I would ask in all seriousness and in a tone of voice that would melt the stoniest heart: “Why in creation do you do it?” The time is rapidly approaching when there will be two or three felons for each doom. I am sure that within the next fifty years, and perhaps sooner even than that, instead of handing out these dooms to Tom, Dick and Harry as formerly, every applicant for a felon’s doom will have to pass through a competitive examination, as he should do.
It will be the same with those who desire to fill drunkards’ graves. The time is almost here when all positions of profit and trust will be carefully and judiciously handed out, and those who do not fit themselves for those positions will be left in the lurch, whatever that may be.
It is with this fact glaring me in the face that I have consented to appear before you to-day and lay bare the whole hypothesis, history, rise and fall, modifications, anatomy, physiology and geology of evolution. It is for this that I have poured over such works as Huxley, Herbert Spencer, Moses in the bulrushes, Anaxagoras, Lucretius and Hoyle. It is for the purpose of advancing the cause of common humanity and to jerk the rising generation out of barbarism into the dazzling effulgence of clashing intellects and fermenting brains that I have sought the works of Pythagoras, Democritus and Epluribus. Whenever I could find any book that bore upon the subject of evolution, and could borrow it, I have done so while others slept.
That is a matter which rarely enters into the minds of those who go easily and carelessly through life. Even the general superintendent of the Academy of Science and Pugilism here in Erin Prairie, the hotbed of a free and untrammeled, robust democracy, does not stop to think of the midnight and other kinds of oil that I have consumed in order to fill myself full of information and to soak my porous mind with thought. Even the O’Reilly College of this place, with its strong mental faculty, has not informed itself fully relative to the great effort necessary before a lecturer may speak clearly, accurately and exhaustingly of evolution.
And yet, here in this place, where education is rampant, and the idea is patted on the back, as I may say; here in Erin Prairie, where progress and some other sentiments are written on everything; here where I am addressing you to-night for $2 and feed for my horse, I met a little child with a bright and cheerful smile, who did not know that evolution consisted in a progress from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous.
So you see that you never know where ignorance lurks. The hydra-headed upas tree and bete noir of self-acting progress, is such ignorance as that, lurking in the very shadow of magnificent educational institutions and hard words of great cast. Nothing can be more disagreeable to the scientist than a bete noir. Nothing gives him greater satisfaction than to chase it up a tree or mash it between two shingles.
For this reason, as I said, it gives me great pleasure to address you on the subject of evolution, and to go into details in speaking of it. I could go on for hours as I have been doing, delighting you with the intricacies and peculiarities of evolution, but I must desist. It would please me to do so, and you would no doubt remain patiently and listen, but your business might suffer while you were away, and so I will close, but I hope that anyone now within the sound of my voice, and in whose breast a sudden hunger for more light on this great subject may have sprung up, will feel perfectly free to call on me and ask me about it or immerse himself in the numerous tomes that I have collected from friends, and which relate to this matter.
In closing I wish to say that I have made no statements in this paper relative to evolution which I am not prepared to prove; and, if anything, I have been over-conservative. For that reason I say now, that the person who doubts a single fact as I have given it to-night, bearing upon the great subject of evolution, will have to do so over my dumb remains.
And a man who will do that is no gentleman. I presume that many of these statements will be snapped up and sharply criticised by other theologians and many of our foremost thinkers, but they will do well to pause before they draw me into a controversy, for I have other facts in relation to evolution, and some personal reminiscences and family history, which I am prepared to introduce, if necessary, together with ideas that I have thought up myself. So I say to those who may hope to attract notice and obtain notoriety by drawing me into a controversy, beware. It will be to your interest to beware!
Hours With Great Men.
I presume that I could write an entire library of personal reminiscences relative to the eminent people with whom I have been thrown during a busy life, but I hate to do it, because I always regarded such things as sacred from the vulgar eye, and I felt bound to respect the confidence of a prominent man just as much as I would that of one who was less before the people. I remember very well my first meeting with General W.T. Sherman. I would not mention it here if it were not for the fact that the people seem so be yearning for personal reminiscences of great men, and that is perfectly right, too.
It was since the war that I met General Sherman, and it was on the line of the Union Pacific Railway, at one of those justly celebrated eating-houses, which I understand are now abandoned. The colored waiter had cut off a strip of the omelette with a pair of shears, the scorched oatmeal had been passed around, the little rubber door mats fried in butter and called pancakes had been dealt around the table, and the cashier at the end of the hall had just gone through the clothes of a party from Vermont, who claimed a rebate on the ground that the waiter had refused to bring him anything but his bill. There was no sound in the dining-room except the weak request of the coffee for more air and stimulants, or perhaps the cry of pain when the butter, while practicing with the dumb-bells, would hit a child on the head; then all would be still again.
General Sherman sat at one end of the table, throwing a life-preserver to a fly in the milk pitcher.
We had never met before, though for years we had been plodding along life’s rugged way–he in the war department, I in the postoffice department. Unknown to each other, we had been holding up opposite corners of the great national fabric, if you will allow me that expression.
I remember, as well as though it were but yesterday, how the conversation began. General Sherman looked sternly at me and said:
“I wish you would overpower that butter and send it up this way.”
“All right,” said I, “if you will please pass those molasses.”
That was all that was said, but I shall never forget it, and probably he never will. The conversation was brief, but yet how full of food for thought! How true, how earnest, how natural! Nothing stilted or false about it. It was the natural expression of two minds that were too great to be verbose or to monkey with social, conversational flapdoodle.
[Illustration: AN ENCOUNTER WITH THE BUTTER.]
I remember, once, a great while ago, I was asked by a friend to go with him in the evening to the house of an acquaintance, where they were going to have a kind of musicale, at which there was to be some noted pianist, who had kindly consented to play a few strains, I did not get the name of the professional, but I went, and when the first piece was announced I saw that the light was very uncertain, so I kindly volunteered to get a lamp from another room. I held that big lamp, weighing about twenty-nine pounds, for half an hour, while the pianist would tinky tinky up on the right hand, or bang, boomy to bang down on the bass, while he snorted and slugged that old concert grand piano and almost knocked its teeth down its throat, or gently dawdled with the keys like a pale moonbeam shimmering through the bleached rafters of a deceased horse, until at last there was a wild jangle, such as the accomplished musician gives to an instrument to show the audience that he has disabled the piano, and will take a slight intermission while it is sent to the junk shop.
With a sigh of relief I carefully put down the twenty-nine pound lamp, and my friend told me that I had been standing there like liberty enlightening the world, and holding that heavy lamp for Blind Tom.
I had never seen him before, and I slipped out of the room before he had a chance to see me.
I am glad to notice that in the East there is a growing disfavor in the public mind for selecting a practicing physician for the office of coroner. This matter should have attracted attention years ago. Now it gratifies me to notice a finer feeling on the part of the people, and an awakening of those sensibilities which go to make life more highly prized and far more enjoyable.
I had the misfortune at one time to be under the medical charge of a coroner who had graduated from a Chicago morgue and practiced medicine along with his inquest business with the most fiendish delight. I do not know which he enjoyed best, holding the inquest or practicing on his patient and getting the victim ready for the quest.
One day he wrote out a prescription and left it for me to have filled. I was surprised to find that he had made a mistake and left a rough draft of the verdict in my own case and a list of jurors which he had made in memorandum, so as to be ready for the worst. I was alarmed, for I did not know that I was in so dangerous a condition. He had the advantage of me, for he knew just what he was giving me, and how long human life could be sustained under his treatment. I did not.
That is why I say that the profession of medicine should not be allowed to conflict with the solemn duties of the coroner. They are constantly clashing and infringing upon each other’s territory. This coroner had a kind of tread-softly-bow-the-head way of getting around the room that made my flesh creep. He had a way, too, when I was asleep, of glancing hurriedly through the pockets of my pantaloons as they hung over a chair, probably to see what evidence he could find that might aid the jury in arriving at a verdict. Once I woke up and found him examining a draft that he had found in my pocket. I asked him what he was doing with my funds, and he said that he thought he detected a draft in the room and he had just found out where it came from.
After that I hoped that death would come to my relief as speedily as possible. I felt that death would be a happy release from the cold touch of the amateur coroner and pro tem physician. I could look forward with pleasure, and even joy, to the moment when my physician would come for the last time in his professional capacity and go to work on me officially. Then the county would be obliged to pay him, and the undertaker could take charge of the fragments left by the inquest.
The duties of the physician are with the living, those of the coroner with the dead. No effort, therefore, should be made to unite them. It is in violation of all the finer feelings of humanity. When the physician decides that his tendencies point mostly toward immortality and the names of his patients are nearly all found on the moss-covered stones of the cemetery, he may abandon the profession with safety and take hold of politics. Then, should his tastes lead him to the inquest, let him gravitate toward the office of coroner; but the two should not be united.
No man ought to follow his fellow down the mysterious river that defines the boundary between the known and the unknown, and charge him professionally till his soul has fled, and then charge a per diem to the county for prying into his internal economy and holding an inquest over the debris of mortality. I therefore hail this movement with joy and wish to encourage it in every way. It points toward a degree of enlightenment which will be in strong contrast with the darker and more ignorant epochs of time, when the practice of medicine was united with the profession of the barber, the well-digger, the farrier, the veterinarian or the coroner.
Why, this physician plenipotentiary and coroner extraordinary that I have referred to, didn’t know when he got a call whether to take his morphine syringe or his venire for a jury. He very frequently went to see a patient with a lung tester under one arm and the revised statutes under the other. People never knew when they saw him going to a neighbor’s house, whether the case had yielded to the coroner’s treatment or not. No one ever knew just when over-taxed nature would yield to the statutes in such case made and provided.
When the jury was impanelled, however, we always knew that the medical treatment had been successfully fatal.
Once he charged the county with an inquest he felt sure of, but in the night the patient got delirious, eluded his nurse, the physician and coroner, and fled to the foot-hills, where he was taken care of and finally recovered.
The experiences of some of the patients who escaped from this man read more like fiction than fact. One man revived during the inquest, knocked the foreman of the jury through the window, kicked the coroner in the stomach, fed him a bottle of violet ink, and, with a shriek of laughter, fled. He is now traveling under an assumed name with a mammoth circus, feeding his bald head to the African lion twice a day at $9 a week and found.
Down East Rum.
Rum has always been a curse to the State of Maine. The steady fight that Maine has made, for a century past, against decent rum, has been worthy of a better cause.
Who hath woe? who hath sorrow and some more things of that kind? He that monkeyeth with Maine rum; he that goeth to seek emigrant rum.
In passing through Maine the tourist is struck with the ever-varying styles of mystery connected with the consumption of rum.
In Denver your friend says: “Will you come with me and shed a tear?” or “Come and eat a clove with me.”
In Salt Lake City a man once said to me: “William, which would you rather do, take a dose of Gentile damnation down here on the corner, or go over across the street and pizen yourself with some real old Mormon Valley tan, made last week from ground feed and prussic acid?” I told him that I had just been to dinner, and the doctor had forbidden my drinking any more, and that I had promised several people on their death beds never to touch liquor, and besides, I had just taken a large drink, so he would have to excuse me.
But in Maine none of these common styles of invitation prevail. It is all shrouded in mystery. You give the sign of distress to any member in good standing, pound three times on the outer gate, give two hard kicks and one soft one on the inner door, give the password, “Rutherford B. Hayes,” turn to the left, through a dark passage, turn the thumbscrew of a mysterious gas fixture 90 deg. to the right, holding the goblet of the encampment under the gas fixture, then reverse the thumbscrew, shut your eyes, insult your digester, leave twenty-five cents near the gas fixture, and hunt up the nearest cemetery, so that you will not have to be carried very far.
If a man really wants to drink himself into a drunkard’s grave, he can certainly save time by going to Maine. Those desiring the most prompt and vigorous style of jim-jams at cut rates will do well to examine Maine goods before going elsewhere. Let a man spend a week in Boston, where the Maine liquor law, I understand, is not in force, and then, with no warning whatever, be taken into the heart of Maine; let him land there a stranger and a partial orphan, with no knowledge of the underground methods of securing a drink, and to him the world seems very gloomy, very sad, and extremely arid.
At the Bangor depot a woman came up to me and addressed me. She was rather past middle age, a perfect lady in her manners, but a little full.
I said: “Madam, I guess you will have to excuse me. You have the advantage. I can’t just speak your name at this moment. It has been now thirty years since I left Maine, a child two years old. So people have changed. You’ve no idea how people have grown out of my knowledge. I don’t see but you look just as young as you did when I went away, but I’m a poor hand to remember names, so I can’t just call you to mind.”
She was perfectly ladylike in her manner, but a little bit drunk. It is singular how drunken people will come hundreds of miles to converse with me. I have often been alluded to as the “drunkard’s friend.” Men have been known to get intoxicated and come a long distance to talk with me on some subject, and then they would lean up against me and converse by the hour. A drunken man never seems to get tired of talking with me. As long as I am willing to hold such a man up and listen to him, he will stand and tell me about himself with the utmost confidence, and, no matter who goes by, he does not seem to be ashamed to have people see him talking with me.
[Illustration: THAT BUTTONHOLE.]
I once had a friend who was very much liked by every one, so he drifted into politics. For seven years he tried to live on free whiskey and popular approval, but it wrecked him at last. Finally he formed the habit of meeting me every day and explaining it to me, and giving me free exhibitions of a breath that he had acquired at great expense. After he got so feeble that he could not walk any more, this breath of his used to pull him out of bed and drag him all over town. It don’t seem hardly possible, but it is so. I can show you the town yet.
He used to take me by the buttonhole when he conversed with me. This is a diagram of the buttonhole.
If I had a son I would warn him against trying to subsist solely on popular approval and free whiskey. It may do for a man engaged solely in sedentary pursuits, but it is not sufficient in cases of great muscular exhaustion. Free whiskey and popular approval on an empty stomach are highly injurious.
Many people have traveled all their lives and yet do not know how to behave themselves when on the road. For the benefit and guidance of such, these few crisp, plain, horse-sense rules of etiquette have been framed.
In traveling by rail on foot, turn to the right on discovering an approaching train. If you wish the train to turn out, give two loud toots and get in between the rails, so that you will not muss up the right of way. Many a nice, new right of way has been ruined by getting a pedestrian tourist spattered all over its first mortgage.
On retiring at night on board the train, do not leave your teeth in the ice-water tank. If every one should do so, it would occasion great confusion in case of wreck. It would also cause much annoyance and delay during the resurrection. Experienced tourists tie a string to their teeth and retain them during the night.
If you have been reared in extreme poverty, and your mother supported you until you grew up and married, so that your wife could support you, you will probably sit in four seats at the same time, with your feet extended into the aisles so that you can wipe them off on other people, while you snore with your mouth open clear to your shoulder blades.
If you are prone to drop to sleep and breathe with a low death rattle, like the exhaust of a bath tub, it would be a good plan to tie up your head in a feather bed and then insert the whole thing in the linen closet; or, if you cannot secure that, you might stick it out of the window and get it knocked off against a tunnel. The stockholders of the road might get mad about it, but you could do it in such a way that they wouldn’t know whose head it was.
Ladies and gentlemen should guard against traveling by rail while in a beastly state of intoxication.
In the dining car, while eating, do not comb your moustache with your fork. By all means do not comb your moustache with the fork of another. It is better to refrain altogether from combing the moustache with a fork while traveling, for the motion of the train might jab the fork into your eye and irritate it.
If your desert is very hot and you do not discover it until you have burned the rafters out of the roof of your mouth, do not utter a wild yell of agony and spill your coffee all over a total stranger, but control yourself, hoping to know more next time.
In the morning is a good time to find out how many people have succeeded in getting on the passenger train, who ought to be in the stock car.
Generally, you will find one male and one female. The male goes into the wash room, bathes his worthless carcass from daylight until breakfast time, walking on the feet of any man who tries to wash his face during that time. He wipes himself on nine different towels, because when he gets home, he knows he will have to wipe his face on an old door mat. People who have been reared on hay all their lives, generally want to fill themselves full of pie and colic when they travel.
The female of this same mammal, goes into the ladies’ department and remains there until starvation drives her out. Then the real ladies have about thirteen seconds apiece in which to dress.
If you never rode in a varnished car before, and never expect to again, you will probably roam up and down the car, meandering over the feet of the porter while he is making up the berths. This is a good way to let people see just how little sense you had left after your brain began to soften.
In traveling, do not take along a lot of old clothes that you know you will never wear.
B. Franklin, Deceased.
Benjamin Franklin, formerly of Boston, came very near being an only child. If seventeen children had not come to bless the home of Benjamin’s parents, they would have been childless. Think of getting up in the morning and picking out your shoes and stockings from among seventeen pairs of them. Imagine yourself a child, gentle reader, in a family where you would be called upon, every morning, to select your own cud of spruce gum from a collection of seventeen similar cuds stuck on a window sill. And yet B. Franklin never murmured or repined. He desired to go to sea, and to avoid this he was apprenticed to his brother James, who was a printer. It is said that Franklin at once took hold of the great Archimedean lever, and jerked it early and late in the interests of freedom. It is claimed that Franklin at this time invented the deadly weapon known as the printer’s towel. He found that a common crash towel could be saturated with glue, molasses, antimony, concentrated lye, and roller composition, and that after a few years of time and perspiration it would harden so that the “Constant Reader” or “Veritas” could be stabbed with it and die soon.
[Illustration: A DEADLY ONSLAUGHT.]
Many believe that Franklin’s other scientific experiments were productive of more lasting benefit to mankind than this, but I do not agree with them.
This paper was called the _New England Courant_. It was edited jointly by James and Benjamin Franklin, and was started to supply a long-felt want. Benjamin edited a part of the time and James a part of the time. The idea of having two editors was not for the purpose of giving volume to the editorial page, but it was necessary for one to run the paper while the other was in jail. In those days you couldn’t sass the king, and then, when the king came in the office the next day and stopped his paper, and took out his ad., you couldn’t put it off on “our informant” and go right along with the paper. You had to go to jail, while your subscribers wondered why their paper did not come, and the paste soured in the tin dippers in the sanctum, and the circus passed by on the other side.
[Illustration: STOPPING HIS PAPER.]
How many of us to-day, fellow journalists, would be willing to stay in jail while the lawn festival and the kangaroo came and went? Who, of all our company, would go to a prison cell for the cause of freedom while a double-column ad. of sixteen aggregated circuses, and eleven congresses of ferocious beasts, fierce and fragrant from their native lair, went by us?
At the age of 17, Ben got disgusted with his brother, and went to Philadelphia and New York, where he got a chance to “sub” for a few weeks, and then got a regular “sit.” Franklin was a good printer, and finally got to be a foreman. He made an excellent foreman, sitting by the hour in the composing room and spitting on the stone, while he cussed the make-up and press work of the other papers. Then he would go into the editorial rooms and scare the editors to death with a wild shriek for more copy. He knew just how to conduct himself as a foreman, so that strangers would think he owned the paper.
In 1730, at the age of 24, Franklin married and established the _Pennsylvania Gazette_. He was then regarded as a great man, and most everyone took his paper. Franklin grew to be a great journalist, and spelled hard words with great fluency. He never tried to be a humorist in any of his newspaper work, and everybody respected him.
Along about 1746 he began to study the construction and habits of lightning, and inserted a local in his paper, in which he said that he would be obliged to any of his readers who might notice any new or odd specimens of lightning, if they would send them into the _Gazette_ office by express for examination. Every time there was a thunder storm, Franklin would tell the foreman to edit the paper, and, armed with a string and an old fruit jar, he would go out on the hills and get enough lightning for a mess.
[Illustration: “HOW’S TRADE?”]
In 1753 Franklin was made postmaster-general of the colonies. He made a good postmaster-general, and people say there were less mistakes in distributing their mail than there has ever been since. If a man mailed a letter in those days, old Ben Franklin saw that it went where it was addressed.
Franklin frequently went over to England in those days, partly on business, and partly to shock the king. He used to delight in going to the castle with his breeches tucked in his boots, figuratively speaking, and attract a good deal of attention. It looked odd to the English, of course, to see him come into the royal presence, and, leaving his wet umbrella up against the throne, ask the king: “How’s trade?” Franklin never put on any frills, but he was not afraid of a crowned head. He used to say, frequently, that to him a king was no more than a seven spot.
He did his best to prevent the Revolutionary war, but he couldn’t do it, Patrick Henry had said that the war was inevitable, and given it permission to come, and it came. He also went to Paris and got acquainted with a few crowned heads there. They thought a good deal of him in Paris, and offered him a corner lot if he would build there and start a paper. They also promised him the county printing, but he said no, he would have to go back to America, or his wife might get uneasy about him.
Franklin wrote “Poor Richard’s Almanac” in 1732-57, and it was republished in England. Benjamin Franklin had but one son, and his name was William. William was an illegitimate son, and, though he lived to be quite an old man, he never got over it entirely, but continued to be but an illegitimate son all his life. Everybody urged him to do differently, but he steadily refused to do so.
Life Insurance as a Health Restorer.
Life insurance is a great thing. I would not be without it. My health is greatly improved since I got my new policy. Formerly I used to have a seal-brown taste in my mouth when I arose in the morning, but that has entirely disappeared. I am more hopeful and happy, and my hair is getting thicker on top. I would not try to keep house without life insurance. Last September I was caught in one of the most destructive cyclones that ever visited a republican form of government. A great deal of property was destroyed and many lives were lost, but I was spared. People who had no insurance were mowed down on every hand, but aside from a broken leg I was entirely unharmed.
[Illustration: PROTECTED BY LIFE INSURANCE.]