Part 5 out of 9
"O, he said the lottery man knew him and wouldn't let him throw."
"Of course. Same old story. He saw you were a greeney and got you to throw
for him. He stood in with the game so that you drew a big prize for the
capper, created a big excitement, and you and the crowd sailed in and lost
all the money you had. I'll bet he was a man with a velvet coat, and a
moustache dyed a dead black and waxed as sharp as a cambric needle."
"Yes; that's his description to a dot. I wonder if he really did do that
"Well, tell us about it. It does me good to hear a blamed fool tell how he
lost his money. Don't you see that your awkward ways and general greenness
struck the capper the first thing, and you not only threw away your own
money, but two or three hundred other wappy-jawed pelicans saw you draw a
big prize and thought it was yours, then they deposited what little they
had and everything was lovely."
"Well, I'll tell you how it was, if it'll do any good and save other young
men in the future. You see this capper, as you call him, gave me a $1 bill
to throw for him, and I put it into my vest pocket so, along with the
dollar bill father gave me. I always carry my money in my right hand vest
pocket. Well, I sailed up to the game, big as old Jumbo himself, and put a
dollar into the game. As you say, I drawed a big prize, $20 and a silver
cup. The man offered me $5 for the cup and I took it."
"Then it flashed over my mind that I might have got my dollar and the
other feller's mixed, so I says to the proprietor, 'I will now invest a
dollar for a gent who asked me to draw for him.'
"Thereupon I took out the other dollar, and I'll be eternally chastised if
I didn't draw a brass locket worth about two bits a bushel."
I didn't say anything for a long time. Then I asked him how the capper
acted when he got his brass locket.
"Well, he seemed pained and grieved about something, and he asked me if I
hadn't time to go away into a quiet place where we could talk it over by
ourselves; but he had a kind of a cruel, insincere look in his eye, and I
said no, I believed I didn't care to, and that I was a poor
conversationalist, anyhow; and so I came away, and left him looking at his
brass locket and kicking holes in the ground and using profane language.
"Afterward I saw him talking to the proprietor of the lottery, and I feel,
somehow, that they had lost confidence in me. I heard them speak of me in
a jeering tone of voice, and one said as I passed by: 'There goes the
meek-eyed rural convict now,' and he used a horrid oath at the same time.
"If it hadn't been for that one little quincidence, there would have been
nothing to mar the enjoyment of the occasion."
Camping out in summer for several weeks is a good thing generally. Freedom
from social restraint and suspenders is a great luxury for a time, and
nothing purifies the blood quicker, or makes a side of bacon taste more
like snipe on toast, than the crisp ozone that floats through the hills
and forests where man can monkey o'er the green grass without violating a
The picnic is an aggravation. It has just enough of civilization to be a
nuisance, and not enough barbarism to make life seem a luxury. If our aim
be to lean up against a tree all day in a short seersucker coat and ditto
pantaloons that segregated while we were festooning the hammock, the
picnic is the thing. If we desire to go home at night with a jelly
symphony on each knee and a thousand-legged worm in each ear, we may look
upon the picnic as a success.
But to those who wish to forget the past and live only in the booming
present, to get careless of gain and breathe brand-new air that has never
been used, to appease an irritated liver, or straighten out a torpid lung,
let me say, pick out a high, dry clime, where there are trout enough to
give you an excuse for going there, take what is absolutely necessary and
no more, and then stay there long enough to have some fun.
If we picnic, we wear ourselves out trying to have a good time, so that we
can tell about it when we get back, but we do not actually get acquainted
with each other before we have to quit and return.
To camp, is to change the whole programme of life, and to stop long enough
in the never-ending conflict for dollars and distinction, to get a full
breath and look over the field. Still, it is not always smooth sailing. To
camp, is sometimes to show the material of which we are made. The dude at
home is the dude in camp, and wherever he goes he demonstrates that he was
made for naught. I do not know what a camping party would do with a dude
unless they used him to bait a bear trap with, and even then it would be
taking a mean advantage of the bear. The bear certainly has some rights
which we are bound in all decency to respect.
James Milton Sherrod said he had a peculiar experience once while he was
in camp on the Poudre in Colorado.
"We went over from Larmy," said he, "in July, eight years ago--four of us.
There was me and Charcoal Brown, and old Joe and young Joe Connoy. We had
just got comfortably down on the Lower Fork, out of the reach of everybody
and sixty miles from a doctor, when Charcoal Brown got sick. Wa'al we had
a big time of it. You can imagine yourself somethin' about it. Long in the
night Brown began to groan and whoop and holler, and I made a diagnosis of
him. He didn't have much sand anyhow. He was tryin' to git a pension from
the government on the grounds of desertion and failure to provide, and
some such a blame thing or another, so I didn't feel much sympathy fur
him. But when I lit the gas and examined him, I found that he had a large
fever on hand, and there we was without a doggon thing in the house but a
jug of emigrant whiskey and a paper of condition powders fur the mule. I
was a good deal rattled at first to know what the dickens to do fur him.
The whiskey wouldn't do him any good, and, besides, if he was goin' to
have a long spell of sickness we needed it for the watchers.
[Illustration: MAKING USE OF A DUDE.]
"Wa'al, it was rough. I'd think of a thousand things that was good fur
fevers, and then I'd remember that we hadn't got 'em. Finally old Joe says
to me, 'James, why don't ye soak his feet?' says he. 'Soak nuthin',' says
I; 'what would ye soak 'em in?' We had a long-handle frying-pan, and we
could heat water in it, of course, but it was too shaller to do any good,
anyhow; so we abandoned that synopsis right off. First I thought I'd try
the condition powders in him, but I hated to go into a case and prescribe
so recklessly. Finally I thought of a case of rheumatiz that I had up in
Bitter Creek years ago, and how the boys filled their socks full of hot
ashes and put 'em all over me till it started the persbyterian all over me
and I got over it. So we begun to skirmish around the tent for socks, and
I hope I may be tee-totally skun if there was a blame sock in the whole
syndicate. Ez fur me, I never wore 'em, but I did think young Joe would be
fixed. He wasn't though. Said he didn't want to be considered proud and
high strung, so he left his socks at home.
[Illustration: CHARCOAL BROWN'S REPROACHES.]
"Then we begun to look around and finally decided that Brown would die
pretty soon if we didn't break up the fever, so we concluded to take all
the ashes under the camp-fire, fill up his cloze, which was loose, tie his
sleeves at the wrists, and his pants at the ankles, give him a dash of
condition powders and a little whiskey to take the taste out of his mouth,
and then see what ejosted nature would do.
"So we stood Brown up agin a tree and poured hot ashes down his back till
he begun to fit his cloze pretty quick, and then we laid him down in the
tent and covered him up with everything we had in our humble cot.
Everything worked well till he begun to perspirate, and then there was
music, and don't you forget it. That kind of soaked the ashes, don't you
see, and made a lye that would take the peelin' off a telegraph pole.
"Charcoal Brown jest simply riz up and uttered a shrill whoop that jarred
the geology of Colorado, and made my blood run cold. The goose flesh riz
on old Joe Connoy till you could hang your hat on him anywhere. It was
"Brown stood up on his feet, and threw things, and cussed us till we felt
ashamed of ourselves. I've seen sickness a good deal in my time, but--I
give it to you straight--I never seen an invalid stand up in the
loneliness of the night, far from home and friends, with the concentrated
lye oozin' out of the cracks of his boots, and reproach people the way
Charcoal Brown did us.
"He got over it, of course, before Christmas, but he was a different man
after that. I've been out campin' with him a good many times sence, but he
never complained of feelin' indisposed. He seemed to be timid about
tellin' us even if he was under the weather, and old Joe Connoy said mebbe
Brown was afraid we would prescribe fur him or sumthin'."
Nero, who was a Roman Emperor from 54 to 68 A.D., was said to have been
one of the most disagreeable monarchs to meet that Rome ever had. He was a
nephew of Culigula, the Emperor, on his mother's side, and a son of
Dominitius Ahenobarbust, of St. Lawrence county. The above was really
Nero's name, but in the year 50, A.D., his mother married Claudius and
her son adopted the name of Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus. This
name he was in the habit of wearing during the cold weather, buttoned up
in front. During the hot weather, Nero was all the name he wore. In 53,
Nero married Octavia, daughter of Claudius, and went right to
housekeeping. Nero and Octavia did not get along first-rate. Nero soon
wearied of his young wife and finally transferred her to the New
In 54, Nero's mother, by concealing the rightful heir to the throne for
several weeks and doctoring the returns, succeeded in getting the steady
job of Emperor for Nero at a good salary.
His reign was quite stormy and several long, bloody wars were carried on
during that period. He was a good vicarious fighter and could successfully
hold a man's coat all day, while the man went to the front to get killed.
He loved to go out riding over the battle fields, as soon as it was safe,
in his gorgeously bedizened band chariot and he didn't care if the wheels
rolled in gore up to the hub, providing it was some other man's gore. It
gave him great pleasure to drive about over the field of carnage and gloat
over the dead. Nero was not a great success as an Emperor, but as a
gloater he has no rival in history.
Nero's reign was characterized, also, by the great conflagration and Roman
fireworks of July, 64, by which two-thirds of the city of Rome was
destroyed. The emperor was charged with starting this fire in order to get
the insurance on a stock of dry goods on Main street.
Instead of taking off his crown, hanging it up in the hall and helping to
put out the fire, as other Emperors have done time and again, Nero took
his violin up stairs and played, "I'll Meet You When the Sun Goes Down."
This occasioned a great deal of adverse criticism on the part of those who
opposed the administration. Several persons openly criticised Nero's
policy and then died.
A man in those days, would put on his overcoat in the morning and tell his
wife not to keep dinner waiting. "I am going down town to criticise the
Emperor a few moments," he would say. "If I do not get home in time for
dinner, meet me on the 'evergreen shore.'"
Nero, after the death of Octavia, married Poppaea Sabina. She died
afterward at her husband's earnest solicitation. Nero did not care so much
about being a bridegroom, but the excitement of being a widower always
gratified and pleased him.
He was a very zealous monarch and kept Rome pretty well stirred up during
his reign. If a man failed to show up anywhere on time, his friends would
look sadly at each other and say, "Alas, he has criticised Nero."
A man could wrestle with the yellow fever, or the small-pox, or the
Asiatic cholera and stand a chance for recovery, but when he spoke
sarcastically of Nero, it was good-bye John.
When Nero decided that a man was an offensive partisan, that man would
generally put up the following notice on his office door:
"Gone to see the Emperor in relation to charge of offensive partisanship.
Meet me at the cemetery at 2 o'clock."
Finally, Nero overdid this thing and ran it into the ground. He did not
want to be disliked and so, those who disliked him were killed. This made
people timid and muzzled the press a good deal.
The Roman papers in those days were all on one side. They did not dare to
be fearless and outspoken, for fear that Nero would take out his ad. So
they would confine themselves to the statement that: "The genial and
urbane Afranius Burrhus had painted his new and _recherche_ picket fence
last week," or "Our enterprising fellow townsman, Caesar Kersikes, will
remove the tail of his favorite bulldog next week, if the weather should
be auspicious," or "Miss Agrippina Bangoline, eldest daughter of Romulus
Bangoline, the great Roman rinkist, will teach the school at Eupatorium,
Trifoliatum Holler, this summer. She is a highly accomplished young lady,
and a good speller."
Nero got more and more fatal as he grew older, and finally the Romans
began to wonder whether he would not wipe out the Empire before he died.
His back yard was full all the time of people who had dropped in to be
killed, so that they could have it off their minds.
Finally, Nero himself yielded to the great strain that had been placed
upon him and, in the midst of an insurrection in Gaul, Spain and Rome
itself, he fled and killed himself.
The Romans were very grateful for Nero's great crowning act in the killing
line, but they were dissatisfied because he delayed it so long, and
therefore they refused to erect a tall monument over his remains. While
they admired the royal suicide and regarded it as a success, they censured
Nero's negligence and poor judgment in suiciding at the wrong end of his
I have often wondered what Nero would have done if he had been Emperor of
the United States for a few weeks and felt as sensitive to newspaper
criticism as he seems to have been. Wouldn't it be a picnic to see Nero
cross the Jersey ferry to kill off a few journalists who had adversely
criticised his course? The great violin virtuoso and light weight Roman
tyrant would probably go home by return mail, wrapped in tinfoil,
accompanied by a note of regret from each journalist in New York, closing
with the remark, that "in the midst of life we are in death, therefore now
is the time to subscribe."
"Jim, you long-haired, backslidden Caucasian nomad, why don't you say
something? Brace up and tell us your experience. Were you kidnapped when
you were a kid and run off into the wild wickyup of the forest, or how was
it that you came to leave the Yankee reservation and eat the raw dog of
We were all sitting around the roaring fat-pine fire at the foot of the
canon, and above us the full moon was filling the bottom of the black
notch in the mountains, where God began to engrave the gulch that grew
wider and deeper till it reached the valley where we were.
Squaw Jim was tall, silent and grave. He was as dignified as the king of
clubs, and as reticent as the private cemetery of a deaf and dumb asylum.
He didn't move when Dutch Joe spoke to him, but he noticed the remark, and
after awhile got up in the firelight, and later on the silent savage made
the longest speech of his life.
[Illustration: "BOYS, YOU CALL ME SQUAW JIM."]
"Boys, you call me Squaw Jim, and you call my girl a half breed. I have no
other name than Squaw Jim with the pale faced dude and the dyspeptic sky
pilot who tells me of his God. You call me Squaw Jim because I've married
a squaw and insist on living with her. If I had married
Mist-of-the-Waterfall, and had lived in my tepee with her summers, and
wintered at St. Louis with a wife who belonged to a tall peaked church,
and who wore her war paint, and her false scalp-lock, and her false heart
into God's wigwam, I'd be all right, probably. They would have laughed
about it a little among the boys, but it would have been "wayno" in the
big stone lodges at the white man's city.
"I loved a pale faced girl in Connecticut forty years ago. She said she
did me, but she met with a change of heart and married a bare-back rider
in a circus. Then she ran away with the sword swallower of the side show,
and finally broke her neck trying to walk the tight rope. The jury said if
the rope had been as tight as she was it might have saved her life.
"Since then I've been where the sun and the air and the soil were free. It
kind of soothed me to wear moccasins and throw my biled shirt into the
Missouri. It took the fever of jealousy and disappointment out of my soul
to sleep in the great bosom of the unhoused night. Soon I learned how to
parley-vous in the Indian language, and to wear the clothes of the red
man. I married the squaw girl who saved me from the mountain fever and my
foes. She did not yearn for the equestrian of the white man's circus. She
didn't know how to raise XxYxZ to the nth power, but she was a wife worthy
of the President of the United States. She was way off the trail in
matters of etiquette, but she didn't know what it was to envy and hate the
pale faced squaw with the sealskin sacque and the torpid liver, and the
high-priced throne of grace. She never sighed to go where they are filling
up Connecticut's celestial exhibit with girls who get mysteriously
murdered and the young men who did it go out lecturing. You see I keep
"Boys, you kind of pity me, I reckon, and say Squaw Jim might have been in
Congress if he'd stayed with his people and wore night shirts and pared
his claws, but you needn't.
"My wife can't knock the tar out of a symphony on the piano, but she can
mop the dew off the grass with a burglar, and knock out a dude's eyes at
sixty yards rise.
"My wife is a little foggy on the winter style of salvation, and probably
you'd stall her on how to drape a silk velvet overskirt so it wouldn't
hang one-sided, but she has a crude idea of an every day, all wool General
Superintendent of the Universe and Father of all-Humanity, whether they
live under a horse blanket tepee or a Gothic mortgage. She might look out
of place before the cross, with her chilblains and her childlike
confidence, among the Tom cat sealskin sacques of your camel's hair
Christianity, but if the world was supplied with Christians like my wife,
purgatory would make an assignment, and the Salvation Army would go home
and hoe corn. Sabe?"
Squaw Jim's Religion.
Referring to religious matters, the other day, Squaw Jim said: "I was up
at the Post yesterday to kind of rub up against royalty, and refresh my
memory with a few papers. I ain't a regular subscriber to any paper, for I
can't always get my mail on time. We're liable to be here, there and
everywhere, mebbe at some celebrated Sioux watering place and mebbe on the
warpath, so I can't rely on the mails much, but I manage, generally, to
get hold of a few old papers and magazines now and then. I don't always
know who's president before breakfast the day after election, but I manage
to skirmish around and find out before his term expires.
"Now, speaking about the religion of the day, or, rather, the place where
it used to be, it seems to me as if there's a mistake somewhere. It looks
as if religion meant greenness, and infidelity meant science and
smartness, according to the papers. I'm no scientist myself. I don't know
evolution from the side of a house. As an evolver I couldn't earn my
board, probably, and I wouldn't know a protoplasm from a side of sole
leather; but I know when I get to the end of my picket rope, and I know
just as sure where the knowable quits and the unknowable begins as
anybody. I mean I can crawl into a prairie dog hole, and pull the hole in
and put it in my pocket, in my poor, weak way, just as well as a scientist
can. If a man offered to trade me a spavined megatherium for a foundered
hypothesis, I couldn't know enough about either of the blamed brutes to
trade and make a profit. I never run around after delightful worms and
eccentric caterpillers. I have so far controlled myself and escaped the
habit, but I am able to arrive at certain conclusions. You think that
because I am the brother-in-law to an Indian outbreak, I don't care
whether Zion languishes or not; but you are erroneous. You make a very
"Mind you, I don't pretend to be up on the plan of salvation, and so far
as vicarious atonement goes, I don't even know who is the author of it,
but I've got a kind of hand-made religion that suits me. It's cheap, and
portable, and durable, and stands our severe northern climate first rate.
It ain't the protuberant kind. It don't protrude into other people's way
like a sore thumb. All-wool religion don't go around with a chip on it's
shoulder looking for a personal deal.
"If I had time and could move my library around with me during our summer
tour, I might monkey with speculative science and expose the plan of
creation, but as it is now, I really haven't time.
[Illustration: MOVING HIS LIBRARY.]
"I say this, however, friends, Romans and backsliders: I think sometimes
when my little half-breed girl comes to me in the evening in her night
dress, and kneels by me with her little brown face in between my knees,
and with my hard hands in her unbraided hair, that she's got something
better than speculative science when she says:
'Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take:
This I ask for Jesus' sake;'
"and I know that a million more little angels are saying that same thing,
at that same hour, to the same imaginary God, I say to myself, if that is
a vain, empty infatuation, blessed be that holy infatuation.
"If that's a wild and crazy delusion, let me be always deluded. If forty
millions of chubby little angels bow their dimpled knees every evening to
a false and foolish tradition, let me do so, too. If I die, then I will be
in good company, even if I go no farther than the clouds of the valley."
One Kind of Fool.
A young man, with a plated watch-chain that would do to tie up a sacred
elephant, came into Denver the other day from the East, on the Julesburg
Short line, and told the hotel clerk that he had just returned from
Europe, and was on his way across the continent with the intention of
publishing a book of international information. He handed an oilcloth grip
across the counter, registered in a bold, bad way and with a flourish that
scattered the ink all over the clerk's white shirt front.
He was assigned to a quiet room on the fifth floor, that had been damaged
by water a few weeks before by the fire department. After an hour or two
spent in riding up and down the elevator and ringing for things that
didn't cost anything, he oiled his hair and strolled into the dining-room
with a severe air and sat down opposite a big cattle man, who never oiled
his hair or stuck his nose into other people's business.
The European traveler entered into conversation with the cattle man. He
told him all about Paris and the continent, meanwhile polishing his hands
on the tablecloth and eating everything within reach. While he ate another
man's dessert, he chatted on gaily about Cologne and pitied the cattle man
who had to stay out on the bleak plains and watch the cows, while others
paddled around Venice and acquired information in a foreign land.
At first the cattle man showed some interest in Europe, but after awhile
he grew quiet and didn't seem to enjoy it. Later on the European tourist,
with soiled cuffs and auburn mane, ordered the waiters around in a
majestic way, to impress people with his greatness, tipped over the
vinegar cruet into the salt and ate a slice of boiled egg out of another
Casually a tall Kansas man strolled in and asked the European tourist what
he was doing in Denver. The cattle man, who, by the way, has been abroad
five or six times and is as much at home in Paris as he is in Omaha,
investigated the matter, and learned that the fresh French tourist had
been herding hens on a chicken ranch in Kansas for six years, and had
never seen blue water. He then took a few personal friends to the
dining-room door, and they watched the alleged traveler. He had just taken
a long, refreshing drink from the finger bowl of his neighbor on the left
and was at that moment, trying to scoop up a lump of sugar with the wrong
end of the tongs.
There are a good many fools who drift around through the world and dodge
the authorities, but the most disastrous ass that I know is the man who
goes West with two dollars and forty cents in his pocket, without brains
enough to soil the most delicate cambric handkerchief, and tries to play
himself for a savant with so much knowledge that he has to shed
information all the time to keep his abnormal knowledge from hurting him.
John Adams' Diary.
December 3, 1764.--I am determined to keep a diary, if possible, the rest
of my life. I fully realize how difficult it will be to do so. Many others
of my acquaintance have endeavored to maintain a diary, but have only
advanced so far as the second week in January. It is my purpose to write
down each evening the events of the day as they occur to my mind, in order
that in a few years they may be read and enjoyed by my family. I shall try
to deal truthfully with all matters that I may refer to in these pages,
whether they be of national or personal interest, and I shall seek to
avoid anything bitter or vituperative, trying rather to cool my temper
before I shall submit my thoughts to paper.
[Illustration: "WHERE'S THE PIE?"]
December 4.--This morning we have had trouble with the hired girl. It
occurred in this wise: We had fully two-thirds of a pumpkin pie that had
been baked in a square tin. This major portion of the pie was left over
from our dinner yesterday, and last night, before retiring to rest, I
desired my wife to suggest something in the cold pie line, which she did.
I lit a candle and explored the pantry in vain. The pie was no longer
visible. I told Mrs. Adams that I had not been successful, whereupon we
sought out the hired girl, whose name is Tootie Tooterson, a foreign
damsel, who landed in this country Nov. 7, this present year. She does not
understand our language, apparently, especially when we refer to pie. The
only thing she does without a strong foreign accent is to eat pumpkin pie
and draw her salary. She landed on our coast six weeks ago, after a
tedious voyage across the heaving billows. It was a close fight between
Tootie and the ocean, but when they quit, the heaving billows were one
heave ahead by the log.
Miss Tooterson landed in Massachusetts in a woolen dress and hollow clear
down into the ground. A strong desire to acquire knowledge and cold,
hand-made American pie seems to pervade her entire being.
She has only allowed Mrs. Adams and myself to eat what she did not want
Miss Tooterson has also introduced into my household various European
eccentricities and strokes of economy which deserve a brief notice here.
Among other things she has made pie crust with castor oil in it, and
lubricated the pancake griddle with a pork rind that I had used on my lame
neck. She is thrifty and saving in this way, but rashly extravagant in the
use of doughnuts, pie and Medford rum, which we keep in the house for
visitors who are so unfortunate as to be addicted to the doughnut, pie or
It is discouraging, indeed, for two young people like Mrs. Adams and
myself, who have just begun to keep house, to inherit a famine, and such a
robust famine, too. It is true that I should not have set my heart upon
such a transitory and evanescent terrestrial object like a pumpkin pie so
near to T. Tooterson, imported pie soloist, doughnut mastro and feminine
virtuoso, but I did, and so I returned from the pantry desolate.
[Illustration: A PIE SOLOIST.]
I told Abigail that unless we poisoned a few pies for Tootie the Adams
family would be a short-lived race. I could see with my prophetic eye that
unless the Tootersons yielded the Adamses would be wiped out. Abigail
would not consent to this, but decided to relieve Miss Tooterson from duty
in this department, so this morning she went away. Not being at all
familiar with the English language, she took four of Abigail's sheets and
quite a number of towels, handkerchiefs and collars. She also erroneously
took a pair of my night-shirts in her poor, broken way. Being entirely
ignorant of American customs, I presume that she will put a belt around
them and wear them externally to church. I trust that she will not do
this, however, without mature deliberation.
[Illustration: IGNORANT OF AMERICAN CUSTOMS.]
I also had a bottle of lung medicine of a very powerful nature which the
doctor had prepared for me. By some oversight, Miss Tooterson drank this
the first day that she was in our service. This was entirely wrong, as I
did not intend to use it for the foreign trade, but mostly for home
This is a little piece of drollery that I thought of myself. I do not
think that a joke impairs the usefulness of a diary, as some do. A diary
with a joke in it is just as good to fork over to posterity as one that is
not thus disfigured. In fact, what has posterity ever done for me that I
should hesitate about socking a little humor into a diary? When has
posterity ever gone out of its way to do me a favor? Never! I defy the
historian to show a single instance where posterity has ever been the
first to recognize and remunerate ability.
John Adams' Diary.
December 6.--It is with great difficulty that I write this entry in my
diary, for this morning Abigail thought best for me to carry the oleander
down into the cellar, as the nights have been growing colder of late.
I do not know which I dislike most, foreign usurpation or the oleander. I
have carried that plant up and down stairs every time the weather has
changed, and the fickle elements of New England have kept me rising and
falling with the thermometer, and whenever I raised or fell I most always
had that scrawny oleander in my arms.
Richly has it repaid us, however, with its long, green, limber branches
and its little yellow nubs on the end. How full of promises to the eye
that are broken to the heart. The oleander is always just about to meet
its engagements, but later on it peters out and fails to materialize.
I do not know what we would do if it were not for our house plants. Every
fall I shall carry them cheerfully down cellar, and in the spring I will
bring up the pots for Mrs. Adams to weep softly into. Many a night at the
special instance and request of my wife I have risen, clothed in one
simple, clinging garment, to go and see if the speckled, double and
twisted Rise-up-William-Riley geranium was feeling all right.
Last summer Abigail brought home a slip of English ivy. I do not like
things that are English very much, but I tolerated this little sickly
thing because it seemed to please Abigail. I asked her what were the
salient features of the English ivy. What did the English ivy do? What
might be its specialty? Mrs. Adams said that it made a specialty of
climbing. It was a climber from away back. "All right," I then to her did
straightway say, "let her climb." It was a good early climber. It climbed
higher than Jack's beanstalk. It climbed the golden stair. Most of our
plants are actively engaged in descending the cellar stairs or in
ascending the golden stair most all the time.
I descended the stairs with the oleander this morning, though the oleander
got there a little more previously than I did. Parties desiring a good,
secondhand oleander tub, with castors on it, will do well to give us a
call before going elsewhere. Purchasers desiring a good set of second-hand
ear muffs for tulips will find something to their advantage by addressing
We also have two very highly ornamental green dogoods for ivy vines to
ramble over. We could be induced to sell these dogoods at a sacrifice, in
order to make room for our large stock of new and attractive dogoods.
These articles are as good as ever. We bought them during the panic last
fall for our vines to climb over, but, as our vines died of membranous
croup in November, these dogoods still remain unclum. Second-hand dirt
always on hand. Ornamental geranium stumps at bed-rock prices. Highest
cash prices paid for slips of black-and-tan foliage plants. We are
headquarters for the century plant that draws a salary for ninety-nine
years and then dies.
I do not feel much like writing in my diary to-day, but the physician says
that my arm will be better in a day or two, so that it will be more of a
pleasure to do business.
We are still without a servant girl, so I do some of the cooking. I make a
fire each day and boil the teakettle. People who have tried my boiled
teakettle say it is very fine.
Some of my friends have asked me to run for the Legislature here next
election. Somehow I feel that I might, in public life, rise to distinction
some day, and perhaps at some future time figure prominently in the
affairs of a one-horse republic at a good salary.
I have never done anything in the statesman line, but it does not look
difficult to me. It occurs to me that success in public life is the result
of a union of several great primary elements, to-wit:
Firstly--Ability to whoop in a felicitous manner.
Secondly--Promptness in improving the proper moment in which to whoop.
Thirdly--Ready and correct decision in the matter of which side to whoop
Fourthly--Ability to cork up the whoop at the proper moment and keep it in
a cool place till needed.
And this last is one of the most important of all. It is the amateur
statesman who talks the most. Fearing that he will conceal his identity as
a fool, he babbles in conversation and slashes around in his shallow banks
As soon as I get the house plants down cellar and get their overshoes on
for the winter, I will more seriously consider the question of our
political affairs here in this new land where we have to tie our scalps on
at night and where every summer is an Indian summer.
John Adams' Diary
December 10.--I have put in a long and exhausting day in the court to-day
in the case of Merkins vs. Merkins, a suit for divorce in which I am the
counsel for the plaintiff, Eliza J. Merkins.
The case itself is a peculiarly trying one, and the plaintiff adds to its
horrors by consulting me when I want to do something else. I took her case
at an agreed price, and so Mrs. Merkins is trying to get her money's worth
by consulting me in a way I abhor. She has consulted me in every mood and
tense that I know of; at my office, on the street, in church, at the
festive board and at different funerals to which we both happened to be
called. Mrs. Merkins has hung like a pall over several Massachusetts
funerals which otherwise had every symptom of success.
I am a great admirer of woman as a woman, but as a client in a suit for
divorce she has her peculiarities. I have seen Eliza in every phase of the
case. She has been calm and tearful, stormy and snorting, low-spirited and
red-nosed, violent and menacing, resigned but sobby, trustful and
confidential, high strung and haughty, crushed and weepy.
She makes a specialty of shedding the red-hot scalding tear wherever she
can obtain permission to do so. She has wept in my wood-box, in my new
spittoon, on my desk and on my birthday. I told her that I wished she
would please weep on something else. There were enough objects in nature
upon which a poor woman who wept constantly and had no other visible means
of support could shed the wild torrents of her grief, without weeping on
my anniversary. A man wants to keep his birthday as dry as possible. He
hates to have it wept on by a client who has jewed him down to half price,
and then insisted on coming in to sob with him in the morning before he
has swept the office floor.
One time she came and sobbed on my shoulder. Her tears are of the warm,
damp kind, and feel disagreeable as they roll down the neck of a
comparative stranger, who never can be aught but a friend. She rested her
bonnet on my bosom while she wept, and I then discovered that she has been
in the habit of wearing this bonnet while cooking her buckwheat pancakes.
I presume she keeps her bonnet on all the time, so that she may be ready
to dash out and consult me at all times without delay. Still, she ought
not to do it, for when she leans her head on the bosom of her counsel in
order to consult him, he detects the odor of the early sausage and the
You may bust such a bonnet and crush it if you will,
But the scent of the pancake will cling round it still.
As soon as I saw that her object was to lean up against me and not only
convulse herself with sobs, but that she intended to jar me also with her
great woe, I told her that I would have to request her to avaunt. I then,
as she did not act upon my suggestion, avaunted her myself. I avaunted her
into a chair with a sickening thud.
[Illustration: A TENDER CASE.]
She then burst forth in a torrent of vituperation. When the abnormal
sobber is suddenly corked up, these sobs rankle in the system and burst
forth in the shape of vituperation. In the course of her remarks, she
stated in a violent manner that she would denounce me throughout the
country and retain other counsel. I told her I wished she would, as my
sympathies were with Mr. Merkins. I told her that she must either pay me a
larger fee or I should insist on her weeping in the alley before she came
She then took her departure with a rising inflection. On the following
day, however, I found her at the office door, and she stood near and
consulted me again, while I took up the ashes and started a fire in the
Her case is quite peculiar.
She wants a divorce from her husband on the grounds of cruelty to animals,
or something of that kind, and when she first told me about it I thought
she had a case, but when we came to trial I found that she had had every
reason to believe that if she could be segregated from Mr. Merkins she
could at once become the bride of a gentleman who ploughed the raging
Just as we went to the jury to-day with the case, she heard casually that
the gentleman who had been in the main-ploughing business had just married
without her knowledge or consent.
Much trouble has been done by a long haired phrenologist in the West who
has, during his life, felt of over a hundred thousand heads. A comparison
of a large number of charts given in these cases shows that so far no head
examined would indicate anything less than a member of the lower house of
congress. Artists, orators, prima-donnas and statesmen are plenty, but
there are no charts showing the natural-born farmer, carpenter, shoemaker
That is the reason butter is so high west of the Missouri river to-day,
while genius actually runs riot.
What this day and age of the world needs, is a phrenologist who will paw
around among the intellectual domes of free-born American citizens, and
search out a few men who can milk a cow in a cool and unimpassioned tone
It is true that every man in America is a sovereign, but he had better not
overdo it. The man who sits up nights to be a sovereign and allows the
calves to eat his brown-eyed beans, is not leading his fellow men up to a
higher and nobler life. The sovereign business can be run in the ground if
we are not careful.
[Illustration: A FUTURE PRESIDENT.]
Very likely the white-eyed boy with the hickory dado along the base of his
overalls is the boy who in future years is to be the president of the
United States. But do not, oh, do not trow, fair young reader, that every
Albino youth in our broad land who wears an isosceles triangle in navy
blue flannel athwart his system, is going to be the chief magistrate of
this mighty republic.
We need statesmen and orators and artists very much; but the world at this
moment also needs several athletic parties with the horse-sense adequate
to produce flour and other vegetables necessary to feed the aforesaid
statesmen, orators, etc., etc.
Let me say a word to the bright-eyed youth of America, Let me murmur in
your ear this never dying truth: When a long-haired crank asks you a
dollar to tell you, you are a young Demosthenes, stand up and look
yourself over at a distance before you swallow it all.
There is no use talking, we have got to procure provisions in some manner,
and in order to do so the natural-born bone and muscle of the country must
go at and promote the growth of such things, or else we artists, poets and
statesmen, will have to take off our standing collars and do it ourselves.
Phrenology is a good thing, no doubt, if we can purify it. So long as it
does not become the slave of capital, there is nothing about phrenology
that is going to do harm; but when it becomes the creature of the trade
dollar, it looks as though the country would be filled up with wild-eyed
genius that hasn't had a square meal for two weeks. The time will surely
come when America will demand less statesmanship and more flour; when less
statistics and a purer, nobler and more progressive style of beefsteak
will demand our attention.
I had hoped that phrenology would step in and start this reform; but so
far it has not, within the range of my observation. It may be, however,
that the mental giant bump translator with whom I came in contact was not
a fair representative. Still, he has been in the business for over thirty
years, and some of our most polished criminals have passed under his
An erroneous phrenologist once told me that I would shine as a revivalist,
and said that I ought to marry a tall blonde with a nervous, sanguinary
temperament. Then he said, "One dollar, please," and I said, "All right,
gentle scientist with the tawny mane, I will give you the dollar and marry
the tall blonde with the bank account and bilious temperament, when you
give me a chart showing me how to dispose of a brown-eyed brunette with a
thoughtful cast of countenance, who married me in an unguarded moment two
He looked at me in a reproachful kind of way, struck at me with a chair in
an absent-minded manner and stole away.
The Approaching Humorist.
The following letter has been received, and, as it encloses no unsmirched
postage stamp to insure a private reply, I take great pleasure in
answering it in these pages:
Christiana, Kas., Sept. 22nd, 1884
Dear Sir.--I am studying for a Humorist. Could you help me to some of the
Joliest Books that are written? With some of the best Jokes of the Day &c
Also what it would be best for me to do for to become an Humorist.
I am said to be a Natural Born Humorist by my friends and all I need is
Cultivation to make my mark.
Please reply by return mail.
For some time I have been grieving over the dearth of humor in America,
and wondering who the great coming humorist was to be. Several papers have
already deplored the lack of humor in our land, but they have not been
able to put their finger on the approaching humorist of the age. Just as
we had begun to despair, however, here he comes, quietly and
unostentatiously, modestly and ungrammatically. Unheralded and silently,
like Maud S. or any other eminent man, he slowly rises above the Kansas
horizon, and tells us that it will be impossible to conceal his identity
any longer. He is the approaching humorist of the nineteenth century.
It is a serious matter, Herman, to prescribe a course of study that will
be exactly what you need to bring you out. Perhaps you might do well to
take a Kindergarten course in spelling and the rudiments of grammar;
still, that is not absolutely necessary. A friend of mine named Billings
has done well as a humorist, though his knowledge of spelling seems to be
pitiably deficient. Grammar is convenient where a humorist desires to put
on style or show off before crowned heads, but it is not absolutely
Regarding the "Joliest Books" necessary for your perusal, in order to
chisel your name on the eternal tablets of fame, tastes will certainly
differ. I am almost sorry that you wrote to me, because we might not
agree. You write like one of these "Joly" humorists such as people employ
to go along with a picnic and be the life of the party, and whose presence
throughout the country has been so depressing. If one may be allowed to
judge of your genius by the few autograph lines forwarded, you belong to
that class of brain-workers upon whom devolves the solemn duty of pounding
sand. If you are really a brain-worker, will you kindly inform the writer
whose brain you are working now, and how you like it as far as you have
American humor has burst forth from all kinds of places, nearly. The
various professions have done their share. One has risen from a tramp
until he is wealthy and dyspeptic, and another was blown up on a steamboat
before he knew that he was a humorist.
Suppose you try that, Herman. M. Quad, one of the very successful
humorists of the day, both in a literary and financial way, was blown up
by a steamboat before he bloomed forth into the full flush and power of
success. Try that, Herman. It is a severe test, but it is bound to be a
success. Even if it should be disastrous to you, it will be rich in its
beneficial results to those who escape.
What We Eat.
On 3d street, St. Paul, there stands a restaurant that has outside as a
sign, under a glass case, a rib roast, a slice of ham and a roast duck
that I remembered distinctly having seen there in 1860 and before the war.
I asked an epicure the other day if he thought it right to keep those
things there year after year when so many were starving throughout the
length and breadth of the land. He then straightway did take me up close
so that I could see that the food was made of plaster and painted, as
hereinbefore set forth and by me translated, as Walt Whitman would say.
A day or two afterward, at a rural hotel, I struck some of that same roast
beef and ham. I thought that the sign had been put on the table by
mistake, and I made bold to tell the proprietor about it, on the ground
that "any neglect or impertinence on the part of servants should be
reported at the office." He received the information with great rudeness
and a most disagreeable air.
There are two kinds of guests who live at the average hotel. One is the
party who gets up and walks over the whole _corps de hote_, from the
bald-headed proprietor to the bootblack, while the other is the meek and
mild-eyed man, doomed to sit at the table and bewail the flight of time
and the horrors of starvation while waiting for the relief party to come
with his food.
I belong to the latter class. Born, as I was, in a private family, and
early acquiring the habit of eating food that was intended to assuage
hunger mostly, it takes me a good while to accustom myself to the style of
dyspeptic microbe used simply to ornament a bill of fare. Of course it is
maintained by some hotel men that food solely for eating purposes is
becoming obsolete and _outre_, and that the stuff they put on their bills
of fare is just as good to pour down the back of a guest as diet that is
cooked for the common, low, perverted taste of people who have no higher
aspiration than to eat their food.
Of course the genial, urbane and talented reader will see at once the
style of hotel I am referring to. It is the hotel that apes the good hotel
and prints a bill of fare solely as a literary effort. That is the hotel
where you find the moth-eaten towel and the bed-ridden coffee. There is
where you get butter that runs the elevator day times and sleeps on the
flannel cakes at night.
It is there that you meet the weary and way-worn steak that bears the
toothprints of other guests who are now in a land where the early-rising
chambermaid cannot enter.
I also refer to the hotel where the bellboy is simply an animated polisher
of banisters, and otherwise extremely useless. It is likewise the house
where the syrup tastes like tincture of rhubarb, and the pancakes taste
like a hektograph.
The traveling man will call to mind the hotel to which I refer, and he
will instantly name it and tell you that he has never spent the Sabbath
I honestly believe that some hotel men lose money and custom by trying to
issue a large blanket-sheet bill of fare every day, when a more modest
list containing two or three things that a human being could eat with
impunity would be far more acceptable, healthy and remunerative.
Some people can live on cracked wheat, bran and skimmed milk, no matter
where they go, and so they always seem to be perfectly happy; but, while
simplicity is my watchword, and while I am Old Simplicity himself, as it
were, I haven't been constructed with stomachs enough to successfully
wrestle with these things. I like a few plain dishes with victuals on
them, cooked by a person who has had some experience in that line before.
I am not so especially tied to high prices and finger-bowls, for I have
risen from the common people, and during the first eighteen years of my
life I had to dress myself. I was not always the pampered child of
enervating luxury that I now am, by any means. So I can subsist for weeks
on good, plain food, and never murmur or repine; but where the mistake at
some hotels seems to have been made, is in trying to issue a bill of fare
every day that will attract the attention of literary minds and excite the
curiosity of linguists instead of people who desire to assuage an internal
craving for grub.
I use the term grub in its broadest and most comprehensive sense.
So, if I may take the liberty to do so, let me exhort the landlord who is
gradually accumulating indebtedness and remorse, to use a plainer, less
elaborate, but more edible list of refreshments. Otherwise his guests will
all die young.
Let him discard the seamless waffle and the kiln-dried hen. Let him
abstain from the debris known as cottage pudding, that being its alias,
while the doctors recognize it as old Gastric Disturbance. Too much of our
hotel food tastes like the second day of January or the fifth day of July.
That's the whole thing in a few words, and unless the good hotels are
nearer together we shall have to multiply our cemetery facilities.
Poor hotels are responsible for lots of drunkards every year. The only
time I am tempted to soak my sorrows in rum is after I have read a
delusive bill of fare and eaten a broiled barn-hinge with gravy on it that
tasted like the broth of perdition. It is then that the demon of
intemperance and colic comes to me and, in siren tones, says: "Try our
bourbon, with 'Polly Narius' on the side."
Care of House Plants.
Stern winter is the season in which to keep the eye peeled for the fragile
little house plant. It is at that time that the coarse and brutal husband
carries the Scandinavian flower known as the Ole Ander, part way down the
cellar, and allows it to fall the rest of the way. I carried a large Ole
Andor up and down stairs for nine years, until the spring of 1880. That
was rather a backward spring, and a pale red cow, with one horn done up in
a French twist, ate the most of it as it stood on the porch.
[Illustration: CARRYING OUT THE OLE ANDER.]
This cow was a total stranger to me. I had never done anything for her by
which to win her esteem. It shows how Providence works through the
humblest means sometimes to accomplish a great good.
I have tried many times to find the postoffice address of that lonely cow,
so I might comfort her declining years, but she seemed to have melted away
into the bosom of space, for I cannot find her. Anyone knowing the
whereabouts of a pale red cow, with one horn done up in a French twist,
and wearing a look of settled melancholy, will please communicate the same
to me, as we have another Ole Ander that will just about fit her, I think,
[Illustration: WREAKING VENGEANCE.]
Bulbs may be wrapped in cotton and put in a cool place in the fall, and
fed to the domestic animals in the spring. Geraniums should put on their
buffalo overcoats about the middle of November in our rigid northern
clime, and in the spring they will have the same luxuriant foliage as the
tropical hat-rack. Vines may be left in the room during the winter until
the furnace slips a cog and then you can pull them down and feed them to
the family horses. In changing your plants from the living rooms or
elsewhere to the cellar in the fall, take great care to avoid injury to
the pot. I have experienced some very severe winters in my life, but I
have never seen the mercury so low that a flowerpot couldn't struggle
through and look fresh and robust in the spring. The longevity of the pot
is surprising when we consider how much death there is all about it. I had
a large brown flower-pot once that originally held the germ of a calla
lily. This lily emerged from the soil with the light of immortality in its
eye. It got up to where we began to be attached to it, and then it died.
Then we put a plant in its place which was given us by a friend. I do not
remember now what this plant was called, but I know it was sent to us
wrapped up in a piece of moist brown paper, and half an hour later a dray
drove up to the house with the name of the plant itself. In the summer it
required very little care, and in the winter I would cover the little
thing up with its name, and it would be safe till spring. One evening we
had a free-for-all _musicale_ at my house, and a corpulent friend of mine
tried to climb it, and it died. (Tried to climb the plant, not the
_musicale_.) The plant yielded to the severe climb it. This joke now makes
its _debut_ for the first time before the world. Anyone who feels offended
with this joke may wreak his vengeance on a friend of mine named Sullivan,
who is passionately fond of having people wreak their vengeance on him.
People having a large amount of unwreaked vengeance on hand will do well
to give him a call before purchasing elsewhere.
A Peaceable Man.
Will L. Visscher always made a specialty of being a peaceable man. He
would make most any sacrifice in order to secure general amnesty. I've
known him to go around six blocks out of his way, to avoid a stormy
interview with a belligerant dog. He was always very tender-hearted about
dogs, especially the open-faced bulldog.
But he had a queer experience years ago, in St. Jo, Missouri. He had been
city editor of the Kansas City _Journal_ for some time, but one evening,
while in the composing-room, the foreman told him that the place for the
city editor was down stairs, in his office. He therefore ordered Visscher
to go down there. Visscher said he would do so later on, after he got
fatigued with the composing-room and wanted change of scene.
The foreman thereupon jumped on Mr. Visscher with a small pica wrought
iron side stick. Visscher allowed that he was a peaceable man, but entered
into the general chaos of double-leaded editorial, and hair and brass
dashes, and dashes for liberty and heterogeneous "pi," and foot-sticks and
teeth, with great zeal. He succeeded in putting a large doric head on the
foreman, and although he was a peaceable man, he went down to the office
and got his discharge for disturbing the discipline of the office.
He went to St. Jo the same day, and celebrated his _debut_ into the town
by a little game of what is known as "draw." He was fortunate in "filling
his hand," and while he was taking in the stakes, a young man from
Arkansas, who was in the game, nipped a two-dollar note in a quiet kind of
way, which, however, was detected by Mr. V., who mentioned the matter at
the time. This maddened the Arkansas man, and later on he put one of his
long arms around Mr. Visscher so as to pinion him, and then smote him
across the brow with an instrument, known to science as "the brass
knucks." This irritated Mr. Visscher, and as soon as he had returned to
consciousness he remarked that, although it was rather an up-hill job in
Missouri, he was trying to be a peaceable man. He then broke the leg of a
card-table over the head of the Arkansas man, and went to the doctor to
get his own brow sewed on again.
While he was sitting in the doctor's office a friend of the Arkansas man
came in and asked him to please stand up while he knocked him down.
Visscher opened a little dialogue with the man, and drew him into
conversation till he could open a case of surgical instruments near by,
then he took out one of those knives that the surgeons use in removing the
viscera from the leading gentleman at a post mortem.
"Now," said he, sharpening the knife on the stove-pipe and handing down a
jar containing alcohol with a tumor in it, "I am a peaceful man and don't
want any fuss; but if you insist on a personal encounter, I will slice off
fragments of your physiognomy at my leisure, and for twenty minutes I will
fill this office with your favorite features. I make a specialty of being
a peaceable man, remember; but if you'll just say the word, I'll put
overcoat button-holes and eyelet-holes and crazy-quilts all over your
system. If I've got to kill off the poker-players of St. Jo before I can
have any fun, I guess I might as well begin on you as on any one I know."
[Illustration: HE WAS A PEACEABLE MAN.]
He then made a stab at the man and pinned his coat-tail to the door-frame.
Fear loaned the bad man strength, and, splitting the coat-tail, he fled,
taking little mementoes of the tumor-jar and shedding them in his flight.
When Mr. Visscher went up to the _Herald_ office soon after to get a job,
he was introduced casually to the foreman, who said:
"Ah, this is the young man who licks the foreman of the paper he works on,
is it? I am glad to meet you, Mr. Visscher. I am looking for a white-eyed
son of a sea-cook who goes around over Missouri thumping the foremen of
our leading journals. Come out into the ante-room, Mr. Visscher, till I
jar your back teeth loose and send you to the morgue in a gunny-sack." Mr.
Visscher repeated that he was trying to live in Missouri and be a
peaceable man, but that if there was anything that he could do to make it
pleasant for the foreman, he would cheerfully do it.
Mr. Visscher was a small man, but when he felt aggrieved about anything he
was very harassing to his adversary. They "clinched" and threw each other
back and forth across the hall with great vigor. When they stopped for
breath, the foreman's coat was pulled over his head and the bosom of Mr.
Visscher's shirt was hanging on the gas-jet. There were also two front
teeth on the floor unaccounted for.
Visscher pinned on his shirt-bosom and said he was a peaceable man, but if
the custom seemed to demand four fights in one day, he would try to
conform to any local usage of the city. Wherever he went, he wanted to
fall right into line and be one of the party.
When he got well he was employed on the _Herald_, and for four years
edited the amnesty column of the paper successfully.
Biography of Spartacus.
Spartacus, whose given name seems to have been torn off in its passage
down through the corridors of time, was born in Thrace and educated as a
shepherd. While smearing the noses of the young lambs with tar one spring,
in order to prevent the snuffies among them, he thought that he would
become a robber. It occurred to him that this calling was the only one he
knew of that seemed to be open to the young man without means.
He had hardly got started, however, in the "hold up" industry, when he was
captured by the Romans, sold at cost and trained as a gladiator, in a
school at Capua. Here he succeeded in stirring up a conspiracy and uniting
two hundred or more of the grammar department of the school in a general
ruction, as it was then termed.
The scheme was discovered and only seventy of the number escaped, headed
by Spartacus. These snatched cleavers from the butcher shops, pickets from
the Roman fences and various other weapons, and with them fought their way
to the foot hill where they met a wagon train loaded with arms and
supplies. They secured the necessary weapons whereby to go into a general
war business and established themselves in the crater of Mount Vesuvius.
Spartacus was a man of wonderful carriage and great physical strength. It
had always been his theory that a man might as well die of old age as to
feed himself to a Roman menagerie. He maintained that he would rather die
in a general free fight, where he had a chance, than to be hauled around
over the arena by one leg behind a Numidian lion.
So he took his little band and fought his way to Vesuvius. There they had
a pleasant time camping out nights and robbing the Roman's daytimes. The
excitement of sleeping in a crater, added a wonderful charm to their
lives. While others slept cold in Capua, Spartacus cuddled up to the
crater and kept comfortable.
For a long time the little party had it all their own way. They sniffed
the air of freedom and lived on Roman spring chicken on the half shell,
and it beat the arena business all hollow.
At last, however, an army of 3,000 men was sent against them, and
Spartacus awoke one morning to find himself blocked up in his crater. For
a time the outlook was not cheering. Spartacus thought of telegraphing the
war department for reinforcements, but finally decided not to do so.
Finally, with ladders made of wild vines, the little garrison slipped out
through what had seemed an impassable fissure in the crater, got in the
rear of the army and demolished it completely. That's the kind of man that
Spartacus was. Fighting was his forte.
Spartacus was also a good public speaker. One of his addresses to the
gladiators has been handed down to posterity through the medium of the
Fifth Reader, a work that should be in every household. In his speech he
states that he was not always thus. But since he is thus, he believes that
he has not yet been successfully outthussed by any body.
He speaks of his early life in the citron groves of Syrsilla, and how
quiet and reserved he had been, never daring to say "gosh" within a mile
of the house; but finally how the Romans landed on his coast and killed
off his family. Then he desired to be a fighter. He had killed more lions
than any other man in Italy. He kept a big crew of Romans busy, winter and
summer, catching fresh lions for him to stick. He had killed a large
number of men also. At one matinee for ladies and children he had killed a
prominent man from the north, and had done it so fluently that he was
encored three times. The stage manager then came forward and asked that
the audience would please refrain from another encore as he had run out of
men, but if the ladies and children would kindly attend on the following
Saturday he hoped to be prepared with a good programme. In fact, he had
just heard from his agent who wrote him that they had purchased two big
lions and also had a robust gladiator up a tree. He hoped that he could
get into town in a day or two with both attractions.
Spartacus finally stood at the head of an army of 100,000 men, all
starting out from the little band of 70 that cut loose from Capua with
borrowed cleavers and axhandles. This war lasted but two years, during
which time Spartacus made Rome howl. Spartacus had too much sense to
attack Rome. But at last his army was betrayed and disorganized. With
nothing but death or capture for him, he rode out between the two
contending armies, shot his war horse in order to save expenses, and on
foot rushed into the thickest of the fight. This was positively his last
appearance. He killed a large number of people, but at last he yielded to
the great pressure that was brought to bear upon him and died.
Probably no man not actually engaged in the practice of medicine ever
killed so many people as Spartacus. He did not kill them because he
disliked them personally, but because he thought it advisable to do so.
Had he lived till the present time he would have done well as a lecturer.
"Ten Years in the Arena, with Illustrations," would draw first-rate at
this time among a certain class of people. The large number of people
still living in this country, who will lay aside their work and go twenty
miles to attend a funeral, no matter whose funeral it is, would, no doubt,
enjoy a bull fight or the cairn and refining joy that hovered over the
arena. Those who have paid $175,000 to see Colonel John L. Sullivan
disfigure a friend, would, no doubt, have made it $350,000 if the victim
could have been killed and dragged around over the ring by the leg.
Two thousand years have not refined us so much that we need be puffed up
with false pride about it.
Concerning Book Publishing.
"Amateur" writes me that he is about to publish a book, and asks me if I
will be kind enough to suggest some good, reliable publisher for him.
This would suggest that "Amateur" wishes to confer his book on some
deserving publisher with a view to building him up and pouring a golden
stream of wealth into his coffers. "Amateur" already, in his mind's eye,
sees the eager millions of readers knocking each other down and trampling
upon one another in the mad rush for his book. In my mind, I see his eye,
lighted up with hope, and, though he lives in New Jersey, I fancy I can
hear his quickened breath as his bosom heaves.
[Illustration: WISHES TO CONFER HIS BOOK ON SOME DESERVING PUBLISHER.]
Evidently he has never published a book. There is a good deal of fun ahead
of him that he does not wot of. I used to think that when I got the last
page of my book ready for press, the front yard would be full of
publishers tramping down the velvet lawn and the meek-eyed pansies in
their crazy efforts to get hold of the manuscript, but when I had written
the last word of my first volume of soul-throb, and had opened the
casement to look out on the howling, hungry mob of publishers, with
checkbooks in one hand and a pillow-case full of scads in the other, I was
a little puzzled to notice the abrupt and pronounced manner in which they
were not there.
All of us have to struggle before we can catch the eye of the speaker.
Milton didn't get one-fiftieth as much for "Paradise Lost" as I got for my
first book, and yet you will find people to-day who claim that if Milton
had lived he could have knocked the socks off of me with one hand tied
behind him. Recollect, however, that I am not here to open a discussion on
this matter. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion in relation to
authors. People cannot agree on the relative merits of literature. Now,
for instance, last summer I met a man over in South Park, Col., who could
repeat page after page of Shakespeare, and yet, when I asked him if he was
familiar with the poems of the "Sweet Singer of Michigan," he turned upon
me a look of stolid vacancy, and admitted that he had never heard of her
in his life.
The old Greeley Colony in Colorado, a genuine oasis in the desert, with
its huge irrigating canals of mountain water running through the mighty
wheat fields, glistening each autumn at the base of the range, affords a
good deal that is curious, not only to the mind of the gentleman from the
States, but even to the man who lives at Cheyenne, W.T., only a few hours'
journey to the north.
You could hardly pick out two cities so near each other and yet so unlike
as Cheyenne and Greeley. The latter is quiet, and even accused of being
dull, and yet everybody is steadily getting rich. It is a town of readers,
thinkers and mental independents. It is composed of the elements of New
England shrewdness and Western push, yet Greeley as compared with Cheyenne
would be called a typical New England town in the midst of the active,
fluctuating, booming West.
Cheyenne is not so tame. With few natural advantages the reputation of
Cheyenne is that, in commercial parlance, she is "A 1" for promptness in
paying her debts and absence of failures. There is more wealth there in
proportion to the number of inhabitants than elsewhere in the civilized
world, no doubt. The people take special pleasure in surprising Eastern
people who visit them by a reception very often that they will long
remember for cordiality, hospitality, and even magnificence.
Still I didn't start out to write up either Cheyenne or Greeley. I
intended to mention casually Dr. Law, of the latter place, who acted as my
physician for a few months and coaxed me back from the great hereafter. I
had been under the hands of a physician just before, who was also coroner,
and who, I found afterward, was trying to treat me professionally as long
as the lamp held out to burn, intending afterward to sit upon me
officially. He had treated me professionally until he was about ready to
summon his favorite coroner's jury. Then I got irritated and left the
county of his jurisdiction.
Learning that Dr. Law was relying solely on the practice of medicine for a
livelihood, I summoned him, and after explaining the great danger that
stood in the way of harmonizing the practice of medicine and the official
work of the inquest business, I asked him if he had any business
connection with any undertaking establishment or _hic jacet_ business, and
learning from him that he had none, I engaged him to solder up my
vertebrae and reorganize my spinal duplex.
Sometimes it isn't entirely the medicine you swallow that paralyzes pain
so much as it is the quiet magnetism of a good story and the snap of a
pleasant eye. I had one physician who tried to look joyous when he came
into the room, but he generally asked me to run my tongue out till he
could see where it was tied on, then he would feel my pulse with his cold
finger and time it with a $6 watch, and after that he would write a new
prescription for horse medicine and heave a sigh, look at me as he might
if it had been the last time he ever expected to see me on earth, and then
he would sigh and go away. When he came back he generally looked shocked
and grieved to find me alive. This was the _pro tem_ physician and
_ex-officio_ coroner. I always felt as though I ought to apologize to him
for clinging to life so, when no doubt he had the jury in the hall waiting
to "view" me.
Dr. Law used to tell me of the early history of the Greeley Colony, and
how the original cranks of the community used to be in session most of the
time, and how they sometimes neglected to do their planting to do
legislating, and how they overdid the council work and neglected to "bug"
their potatoes. I remember, also, of his description of how the crew,
working on the original big irrigating canal, struck when it was about
half done, and swore that from the Poudre the ditch was going to run up
hill, and would, therefore, be a failure. The engineer didn't know at
first what was best to do with the belligerent laborers, but finally he
took the leader away from the rest of the crew and said, "Now, I tell you
this in confidence, because of course I know perfectly well that the
stockholders may kick on it if they hear it, but I'm building the blamed
thing as level as I can and putting one end of it in the Poudre and one
end in the Platte. Now, if I'm building it up hill the water'll run down
from the Platte into the Poudre, and if not it'll run from the Poudre into
the Platte. Sabe?"
The ditch was built, and now a deep, still river runs from the Poudre to
the Platte, according to advertisement.
Greeley is also noted for its watchmakers. I sent my watch to the first
one I heard of, and he said it needed cleaning. He cleaned it. I paid him
$2 and took it home, when it ran two hours and then suspended. Then I took
it to another watchmaker who said that the first man had used machine oil
on its works, and had heated the wheels so as to gum the oil on the cogs.
He would have to eradicate the cooked oil from the watch, and it would
cost me $3. I paid it, and joyfully took the watch home. The next day I
found that it had gained time enough to pay for itself. By noon, it had
fatigued itself so that it was losing terribly, and by the day following
had folded its still hands across its pale face in the sleep that knows no
waking. I took it to the third and last jeweler in the town. Everyone said
he was a good workman, but a trifle slow. In the afternoon I went in to
see how he was getting along with it. He was sitting at his bench with a
dice cup in his eye, apparently looking into the digestive economy of the
I looked at him some time, not wishing to disturb him and interfere with
his diagnosis. He did not move or say anything. Several people came in to
trade and get the correct time, but he paid no attention to them.
I got tired and changed from one foot to the other several times. Then I
asked him how he got along, or something of that kind, but he never opened
his head. He was the most preoccupied watch savant I ever saw. No outside
influence could break up his chain of thought when he got after a diseased
I finally got around on the outside of the shop and looked in the window,
where I could get a good view of his face.
He was asleep.
The Story of a Struggler.
My name is Kaulbach. William J. Kaulbach is my name, and I am spending the
summer in Canada. I may remain here during the winter, also. My parents
are very poor. They had never been wealthy, and at the time of my birth
they were even less wealthy than they had been before. As soon as I was
born the poverty of my parents attracted my attention. I decided at once
to relieve their distress. I intended to aid them from my own pocket, but
found upon examination that I had no funds in my pocket; also, no pocket;
also, no place to put a pocket if I had brought one with me. So my parents
continued to be poor, and to put by a little poverty for a rainy day. I
was sole heir to the poverty they had acquired in all these years.
Nature did not do much for me in the way of beauty, either. I was quite
plain when born and may still be identified by that peculiarity. Plainess
with me is not only a characteristic, but it is a passion. My whole being
is wrapped up in it. My hair is a sort of neutral brindle, such as grows
upon the top of a retired hair trunk, and my freckles are olive green,
fading into a delicate, crushed-bran color. They are very large, and
actually pain me at times.
My teacher tried to encourage me by telling me of other poor boys who had
grown up to be president of the United States, and he tried to get me to
consent to having my name used as a candidate; but I refrained from doing
so. I knew that, although I was deserving of the place, I could not endure
the bitterness of a campaign, and that the illustrated papers would
enlarge upon my personal appearance and bring out my freckles till you
could hang your hat on them.
So I grew up to be a stage robber.
When I have my mask on my freckles do not show. I lectured on phrenology
at first to get means to prosecute my studies as a stage robber, and when
I had perfected myself as a burglar I went abroad to study the methods of
the Italian banditti. I was two years under the teaching of the old
masters, and acquired great fluency as a robber while there. I studied
from nature all the time, and some of my best work was taken from life. I
had an opportunity to observe all the methods of the most celebrated
garroting maestro and stilletto virtuoso. He was an enthusiast and
thoroughly devoted to his art. He had a large price on his head, also.
Aside from that he went bareheaded winter and summer.
[Illustration: MAKING HIS DEBUT.]
Finally I returned to my own native land, poor, but fired with a mighty
ambition. I went west and proceeded at once to _debut_. I went west to
hold up the country. I was very successful, indeed, and have had my hands
in the pockets of our most eminent men.
We were isolated from society a good deal, but we met the better class of
people now and then in the course of our business. I did not like so much
night work, and sometimes we had to eat raw pork because we did not wish
to build a fire that would attract mosquitoes and sheriffs. So we were
liable more or less to trichina and insomnia, but still we were free from
sewer gas and poll tax. We did not get our mail with much regularity, but
we got a lick at some mighty fine scenery.
But all this is only incidental. What I desired to say was this: Fame and
distinction come high, and when we have them in our grasp at last we find
that they bring their resultant sorrows. I worked long and hard for fame,
and sat up nights and rode through alkali dust for thousands of miles,
that I might be known as the leading robber of the age in which I lived,
only to find at last that my great fame was the source of my chief
annoyance. It made me so widely known that I felt, as Christine Nilsson
says, "as though I lived in a glass case." Everyone wanted to see me.
Everyone wanted my autograph. Everyone wanted my skeleton to hang up in
I could have traveled with a show and drawn a large salary, but I hated to
wear a boiler iron overcoat all through the hot weather, after having
lived so wild and free. But all this attention worried me so that I could
not sleep, and many a night I would arise from the lava bed on which I had
reclined, and putting on my dressing-gown and slippers, I would wander
about under the stars and wish that I could be an unknown boy again in my
far away home. But I could not. I often wished that I could die a natural
death, but that was out of the question.
Finally, it got so that I did not dare to take a chew of tobacco, unless I
did so under an assumed name. I hardly dared to let go of my six-shooter
long enough to wipe my nose, for fear that someone might get the drop on
That is the reason why I came to Canada. Here among so many criminals, I
do not attract attention, but I use a _nom de plume_ all the time, even
here, and all these hot nights, while others take off their clothing, I
lie and swelter in my heavy winter _nom de plume_.
The Old Subscriber.
At this season of the year, we are forcibly struck with the earnest and
honest effort that is being made by the publisher of the American
newspaper. It is a healthy sign and a hopeful one for the future of our
country. It occurs to me that with the great advancement of the newspaper,
and the family paper, and the magazine, we do not expect leaders and
statesmen to think for us so much as we did fifty years ago. We do not
allow the newspaper to mold us so much as we did. We enjoy reading the
opinion of a bright, brave, and cogent editor because we know that he sits
where he can acquire his facts in a few hours from all quarters of the
globe, and speak truly to his great audience in relation to those facts,
but we have ceased to allow even that man to think for us.
What then is to be the final outcome of all this? Is it not that the
average American is going to use, and is using, his thinker more than he
ever did before? Will not that thinker then, like the muscle of the
blacksmith's arm, or the mule's hind foot, grow to a wondrous size as a
result? Most assuredly.
The day certainly is not far distant, when the American can not only
out-fight, out-row, out-bat, out-run, out-lie, and out-sail all other
nationalities; but he will also be able to out-think them. We already
point with pride to some of the wonderful thoughts that our leading
thinkists, with their thinkers, have thunk. There are native born
Americans now living, who have thought of things that would make the head
of the amateur thinker ache for a week.
All this is largely due to the free use of the newspaper as a home
educator. The newspaper is growing more and more ubiquitous, if I may be
allowed the expression. Many poor people, who, a few years ago, could not
afford the newspaper, now have it scolloped and put it on their pantry
shelves every year.
But I did not start out to enlarge upon the newspaper. I would like to say
a word or two more, however, on that general subject. Very often we hear
some wise man with the responsibility of the universe on his shoulders, the
man who thinks he is the censor of the human race now, and that he will be
foreman of the grand jury on the Judgment Day--we hear this kind of man
say every little while:
"We've got too many papers. We are loaded down with reading matter. Can't
read all my paper every day. Lots of days I throw my paper aside before I
get it all read through, and never have a chance to finish it. All that is
It is, of course, a dead loss to that kind of a man. He is the kind of man
that expects his family to begin at one side of the cellar and eat right
straight across, it--cabbages, potatoes, turnips, pickles, apples,
pumpkins, etc., etc.,--without stopping to discriminate. There are none
too many papers, so far as the subscriber is concerned. Looking at it from
the publisher's standpoint sometimes, there are too many.
To the man who has inherited too large, wide, sinewy hands, and a brain
that under the microscope looks like a hepatized lung, it seems some days
as though the field had been over-crowded when he entered it. To the young
man who was designed to maul rails or sock the fence-post into the bosom
of the earth, and who has evaded that sphere of action and disregarded the
mandate to maul rails, or to take a coal-pick and toy with the bowels of
the earth, hoping to win an easier livelihood by feeding sour paste to
village cockroaches, and still poorer pabulum to his subscribers, the
newspaper field seems to be indeed jam full.
But not so the man who is tall enough to see into the future about nine
feet. He still remembers that he must live in the hearts of his
subscribers, and he makes their wants his own. He is not to proud to
listen to suggestions from the man who works. He recognizes that it is not
the man with the diamond-mounted stomach who has contributed most to his
success, but the man who never dips into society much with the exception
of his family, perhaps, and that ought to be good society. A man ought not
to feel too good to associate with his wife and children. Generally my
sympathies are with his wife and children, if they have to associate with
him very much.
But if I could ever get down to it, I would like to say a word on behalf
of the old subscriber. Being an old subscriber myself, I feel an interest
in his cause; and as he rarely rushes into print except to ask why the
police contrive to keep aloof from anything that might look like a fight,
or to inquire why the fire department will continue year after year to run
through the streets killing little children who never injured the
department in any way, just so that they will be in time to chop a hole in
the roof of a house that is not on fire, and pour some water down into the
library, then whoop through an old tin dipper a few times and go away--as
the old subscriber does not generally say much in print except on the
above subjects, I make bold to say on his behalf that as a rule, he is not
treated half as well as the prodigal son, who has been spending his
substance on a rival paper, or stealing his news outright from the old
Why should we pat the new subscriber on the back, and give him a new album
that will fall to pieces whenever you laugh in the same room? Why should
you forget the old love for the new? Do we not often impose on the old
subscriber by giving up the space he has paid for to flaming
advertisements to catch the coy and skittish gudgeon who still lurks
outside the fold? Do we not ofttimes offer a family Bible for a new
subscriber when an old subscriber may be in a lost and undone state?
Do we not again and again offer to the wife of our new subscriber a
beautiful, plain gold ring, or a lace pin for a year's subscription and
$1, while the wife of our old subscriber is just in the shank of a long,
hard, cold winter, without a ring or a pin to her back?
We ought to remember that the old subscriber came to us with his money
when we most needed it. He bore with us when we were new in the business,
and used such provincialisms as "We have saw" and "If we had knew." He
bore with us when the new column rules were so sharp that they chawed the
paper all up, and the office was so cold, waiting for wood to come in on
subscription, that the "color" was greasy and reluctant. He took our paper
and paid for it, while the new subscriber was in the penitentiary for all
we know. He made a mild kick sometimes when he "didn't git his paper
reggler;" but he paid on the first day of January every year in advance,
out of an old calfskin wallet that opened out like a concertina, and had a
strap that went around it four times, and looked as shiny, and sweaty, and
good-natured as the razor-strop that might have been used by Noah.
The old subscriber never asked any rebate, or requested a prize volume of
poetry with a red cover, because he had paid for another year; but he
simply warmed his numb fingers, so that he could loosen his overalls and
lower one side enough to let his hand into the pocket of his best
pantaloons underneath, and there he always found the smooth wallet, and
inside of it there was always a $2 bill, that had been put there to pay
for the paper. Then the old subscriber would warm his hands some more, ask
"How's tricks?" but never begin to run down the paper, and then he would
go away to work for another year.
[Illustration: THE RIGHT SORT OF SUBSCRIBER.]
I want to say that this country rests upon a great, solid foundation of
old, paid-up subscribers. They are the invisible, rock-ribbed
resting-place for the dazzling superstructure and the slim and peaked
spire. Whether we procure a new press or a new dress, a new contributor or
a new printers' towel, we must bank on the old subscriber; for the new one
is fickle, and when some other paper gives him a larger or a redder
covered book, he may desert our standard. He yearns for the flesh-pots and
the new scroll saws of other papers. He soon wearies of a uniformly good
paper, with no chance to draw a town lot or a tin mine--in Montana.
Let us, therefore, brethren of the press, cling to the old subscriber as
he has clung to us. Let us say to him, on this approaching Christmas Eve,
"Son, thou art always with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet
that we should make merry, that this, thy brother, who had been a
subscriber for our vile contemporary many years, but is alive again, and
during a lucid interval has subscribed for our paper; but, after all, we
would not go to him if we wanted to borrow a dollar. Remember that you
still have our confidence, and when we want a good man to indorse our note
at the bank, you will find that your name in our memory is ever fresh and
Looking this over, I am struck with the amount of stuff I have
successfully said, and yet there is a paucity of ideas. Some writers would
not use the word paucity in this place without first knowing the meaning
of it, but I am not that way. There are thousands of words that I now use
freely, but could not if I postponed it until I could learn their meaning.
Timidity keeps many of our authors back, I think. Many are more timid
about using big words than they are about using other people's ideas.
A friend of mine wanted to write a book, but hadn't the time to do it. So
he asked me if I wouldn't do it for him. He was very literary, he said,
but his business took up all his time, so I asked him what kind of a book
he wanted. He said he wanted a funny book, with pictures in it and a blue
cover. I saw at once that he had fine literary taste and delicate
discrimination, but probably did not have time to give it full swing. I
asked him what he thought it would be worth to write such a book. "Well,"
he said, he had always supposed that I enjoyed it myself, but if I thought
I ought to have pay besides, he would be willing to pay the same as he did
for his other writing--ten cents a folio.
He is worth $50,000, because he has documentary evidence to show that a
man who made that amount out of deceased hogs, had the misfortune to be
his father and then die.
It was a great triumph to be born under such circumstances, and yet the
young man lacks the mental stamina necessary to know how to successfully
eat common mush and milk in such a low key that will not alarm the police.
I use this incident more as an illustration than anything else. It
illustrates how anything may be successfully introduced into an article of
this kind without having any bearing whatever upon it.
I like to close a serious essay, or treatise, with some humorous incident,
like the clown in the circus out West last summer, who joked along through
the performance all the afternoon till two or three children went into
convulsions, and hypochondria seemed to reign rampant through the tent.
All at once a bright idea struck him. He climbed up on the flying trapeze,
fell off, and broke his neck. He was determined to make that audience
laugh, and he did it at last. Every one felt repaid for the trouble of
going to the circus.
I have owned quite a number of dogs in my life, but they are all dead now.
Last evening I visited my dog cemetery--just between the gloaming and the
shank of the evening. On the biscuit-box cover that stands at the head of
a little mound fringed with golden rod and pickle bottles, the idler may
still read these lines, etched in red chalk by a trembling hand:
BUT JERKED HENCE
(See you Later.)
I do not know why he was called Kosciusko. I do not care. I only know that
his little grave stands out there while the gloaming gloams and the
soughing winds are soughing.
Do you ask why I am alone here and dogless in this weary world?
I will tell you, anyhow. It will not take long, and it may do me good:
Kosciusko came to me one night in winter, with no baggage and
unidentified. When I opened the door he came in as though he had left
something in there by mistake and had returned for it.
He stayed with us two years as a watch-dog. In a desultory way, he was a
good watch-dog. If he had watched other people with the same unrelenting
scrutiny with which he watched me, I might have felt his death more keenly
than I do now.
The second year that little Kosciusko was with us, I shaved off a full
beard one day while down town, put on a clean collar and otherwise
disguised myself, intending to surprise my wife.
Kosciusko sat on the front porch when I returned. He looked at me as the
cashier of a bank does when a newspaper man goes in to get a suspiciously
large check cashed. He did not know me. I said, "Kosciusko, have you
forgotten your master's voice?"
He smiled sarcastically, showing his glorious wealth of mouth, but still
sat there as though he had stuck his tail into the door-steps and couldn't
get it out.
So I waived the formality of going in at the front door, and went around
to the portcullis, on the off side of the house, but Kosciusko was there
when I arrived. The cook, seeing a stranger lurking around the manor
house, encouraged Kosciusko to come and gorge himself with a part of my
leg, which he did. Acting on this hint I went to the barn. I do not know
why I went to the barn, but somehow there was nothing in the house that I
wanted. When a man wants to be by himself, there is no place like a good,
quiet barn for thought. So I went into the barn, about three feet prior to
[Illustration: THE COMBAT.]
Noticing the stairway, I ascended it in an aimless kind of way, about four
steps at a time. What happened when we got into the haymow I do not now
recall, only that Kosciusko and I frolicked around there in the hay for
some time. Occasionally I would be on top, and then he would have all the
delegates, until finally I got hold of a pitchfork, and freedom shrieked
when Kosciusko fell. I wrapped myself up in an old horse-net and went into
the house. Some of my clothes were afterward found in the hay, and the
doctor pried a part of my person out of Kosciusko's jaws, but not enough
to do me any good.
I have owned, in all, eleven dogs, and they all died violent deaths, and
went out of the world totally unprepared to die.
A Picturesque Picnic.
Railroads have made the Rocky Mountain country familiar and contiguous, I
may say, to the whole world; but the somber canon, the bald and blackened
cliff, the velvety park and the snowy, silent peak that forever rests
against the soft, blue sky, are ever new. The foamy green of the torrent
has whirled past the giant walls of nature's mighty fortress myriads of
years, perhaps, and the stars have looked down into the great heart of
earth for centuries, where the silver thread of streams, thousands of feet
below, has been patiently carving out the dark canon where the eagle and
the solemn echo have their home.
I said this to a gentleman from Leadville a short time ago as we toiled up
Kenoska Hill, between Platte canon and the South Park, on the South Park
and Pacific Railway. He said that might be true in some cases and even
more so, perhaps, depending entirely on whether it would or not.
I do not believe at this moment that he thoroughly understood me. He was
only a millionaire and his soul, very likely, had never throbbed and
thrilled with the mysterious music nature yields to her poet child.
He could talk on and on of porphyry walls and contact veins, gray copper
and ruby silver, and sulphurets and pyrites of iron, but when my eye
kindled with the majestic beauty of these eternal battlements and my voice
trembled a little with awe and wonder; while my heart throbbed and
thrilled in the midst of nature's eloquent, golden silence, this man sat
there like an Etruscan ham and refused to throb or thrill. He was about as
unsatisfactory a throbber and thriller as I have met for years.
At an elevation of over 10,000 feet above high water mark, Fahrenheit, the
South Park, a hundred miles long, surrounded by precipitous mountains or
green and sloping foot-hills, burst upon us, In the clear, still air, a
hundred miles away, at Pueblo, I could hear a promissory note and
cut-throat mortgage drawing three per cent a month. So calm and unruffled
was the rarified air that I fancied I could hear the thirteenth assessment
on a share of stock at Leadville toiling away at the bottom of a two
hundred and fifty foot shaft.
Colorado air is so pure that men in New York have, in several instances,
heard the dull rumble of an assessment working as far away as the San Juan
At Como, in the park, I met Col. Wellington Wade, the Duke of Dirty
Woman's Ranch, and barber extraordinary to old Stand-up-and-Yowl, chief of
Colonel Wade is a reformed temperance lecturer. I went to his shop to get
shaved, but he was absent. I could smell hair oil through the keyhole, but
the Colonel was not in his slab-inlaid emporium. He had been preparing
another lecture on temperance, and was at that moment studying the habits
of his adversary at a neighboring gin palace. I sat down on the steps and
devoured the beautiful landscape till he came. Then I sat down in the
chair, and he hovered over me while he talked about an essay he had
written on the flowing bowl. His arguments were not so strong as his
breath seemed to be. I asked him if he wouldn't breathe the other way
awhile and let me sober up. I learned afterward that although his nose was
red, his essay was not.
He would shave me for a few moments, and then he would hone the razor on
his breath and begin over again. I think he must have been pickling his
lungs in alcohol. I never met a more pronounced gin cocktail symphony and
bologna sausage study in my life.
I think Sir Walter Scott must have referred to Colonel Wade when he said,
"Breathes there a man with soul so dead?" Colonel Wade's soul might not
have been dead, but it certainly did not enjoy perfect health.
I went over the mountains to Breckenridge the next day, climbed two miles
perpendicularly into the sky, rode on a special train one day, a push car
the next and a narrow-gauge engine the next. Saw all the beauty of the
country, in charge of Superintendent Smith, went over to Buena Vista and
had a congestion of the spine and a good time generally. You can leave
Denver on a morning train and see enough wild, grand, picturesque
loveliness before supper, to store away in your heart and hang upon the
walls of memory, to last all through your busy, humdrum life, and it is a
good investment, too.
This name is from two Greek words which signify "arrangement" and "skin,"
so that the ancient Greeks, no doubt, regarded taxidermy as the original
skin-game of that period. Taxidermy did not flourish in America prior to
the year 1828. At that time an Englishman named Scudder established a
museum and general repository for upholstered beasts.
Since then the art has advanced quite rapidly. To properly taxiderm,
requires a fine taste and a close study of the subject itself in life,
akin to the requirements necessary in order to succeed as a sculptor. I
have seen taxidermed animals that would not fool anybody. I recall, at
this time especially, a mountain lion, stuffed after death by a party who
had not made this matter a subject of close study. The lion was
represented in a crouching attitude, with open jaws and red gums. As time
passed on and year succeeded year, this lion continued to crouch. His tail
became less rampant and drooped like a hired man on a hot day. His gums
became less fiery red and his reddish skin hung over his bones in a loose
and distraught manner, like an old buffalo robe thrown over the knees of a
vinegary old maid. Spiders spun their webs across his dull, white fangs.
Mice made their nests in his abdominal cavity. His glass eye became
hopelessly strabismussed, and the moths left him bald-headed on the
stomach. He was a sad commentary on the extremely transitory nature of all
things terrestrial and the hollowness of the stuffed beast.
I had a stuffed bird for a long time, which showed the cunning of the
stuffer to a great degree. It afforded me a great deal of unalloyed
pleasure, because I liked to get old hunters to look at it and tell me
what kind of a bird it was. They did not generally agree. A bitter and
acrimonious fight grew out of a discussion in relation to this bird. A man
from Vinegar Hill named Lyons and a party called Soiled Murphy (since
deceased), were in my office one morning--Mr. Lyons as a witness, and Mr.
Murphy in his great specialty as a drunk and disorderly. We had just
disposed of the case, and had just stepped down from the bench, intending
to take off the judicial ermine and put some more coal in the stove, when
the attention of Soiled Murphy was attracted to the bird. He allowed that
it was a common "hell-diver with an abnormal head," while Lyons claimed
that it was a kingfisher.
The bird had a duck's body, the head of a common eagle and the feet of a
sage hen. These parts had been adjusted with great care and the tail
loaded with lead somehow, so that the powerful head would not tip the bird
up behind. With this _rara avis_, to use a foreign term, I loved to amuse
and instruct old hunters, who had been hunting all their lives for a free
drink, and hear them tell how they had killed hundred of these birds over
on the Poudre in an early day, or over near Elk Mountain when the country
So Lyons claimed that he had killed millions of these fowls, and Soiled
Murphy, who was known as the tomato can and beer-remnant savant of that
country, said that before the Union Pacific Railroad got into that
section, these birds swarmed around Hutton's lakes and lived on horned
The feeling got more and more partisan till Mr. Lyons made a pass at
Soiled Murphy with a large red cuspidor that had been presented to me by
Valentine Baker, a dealer in abandoned furniture and mines. Mr. Murphy
then welted Lyons over the head with the judicial scales. He then adroitly
caught a lump of bituminous coal with his countenance and fell to the
floor with a low cry of pain.
I called in an outside party as a witness, and in the afternoon both men
were convicted of assault and battery. Soiled Murphy asked for a change of
venue on the ground that I was prejudiced. I told him that I did not allow
anything whatever to prejudice me, and went on with the case.
This great taxidermic masterpiece led to other assaults afterward, all of
which proved remunerative in a small way. My successor claimed that the
bird was a part of the perquisites of the office, and so I had to turn it
over with the docket.
I also had a stuffed weasel from Cummins City that attracted a great deal
of attention, both in this country and in Europe. It looked some like a
weasel and some like an equestrian sausage with hair on it.
The Ways of Doctors.
"There's a big difference in doctors, I tell you," said an old-timer to me
the other day. "You think you know something about 'em, but you are still
in the fluff and bloom, and kindergarten of life, Wait till you've been
through what I have."
"Where, for instance?" I asked him.
"Well, say nothing about anything else, just look at the doctors we had in
the war. We had a doctor in our regiment that looked as if he knew so much
that it made him unhappy. I found out afterward that he ran a kind of cow
foundling asylum, in Utah before the war, and when he had to prescribe for
a human being, it seemed to kind of rattle him.
"I fell off'n my horse early in the campaign and broke my leg, I
rickolect, and he sot the bone. He thought that a bone should be sot
similar to a hen. He made what he called a good splice, but the break was
above the knee, and he got the cow idea into his head in a way that set
the knee behind. That was bad.
[Illustration: HE GAVE ME A CIGAR.]
"I told him one day that he was a blamed fool. He gave me a cigar and told
me I must be a mind reader.
"For several weeks our colonel couldn't eat anything, and seemed to feel
kind of billious. He didn't know what the trouble was till he went to the
doctor. He looked at the colonel a few moments, examined his tongue, and
told him right off that he had lost his cud.
"He bragged a good deal on his diagnosis. He said he'd like to see the
disease he couldn't diagnose with one hand tied behind him.
"He was always telling me how he had resuscitated a man they hung over at
T---- City in the early day. He was hung by mistake, it seemed. It was a
dark night and the Vigilance committee was in something of a hurry, having
another party to hang over at Dirty Woman's ranch that night, and so they
erroneously hung a quiet young feller from Illinois, who had been sent
west to cure a case of bronchitis. He was right in the middle of an
explanation when the head vigilanter kicked the board from under him and
broke his neck.
[Illustration: BURIED WITH MILITARY HONORS.]
"All at once, some one said: 'My God, we have made a ridiculous blunder.
Boys, we can't be too careful about hanging total strangers. A few more
such breaks as these, and people from the States will hesitate about
coming here to make their homes. We have always claimed that this was a
good country for bronchitis, but if we write to Illinois and tell this
young feller's parents the facts, we needn't look for a very large hegira
from Illinois next season. Doc., can't you do anything for the young man?'
"Then this young physician stepped forward, he says, and put his knee on
the back of the boy's neck, give it a little push, at the same time pulled
the head back with a snap that straightened the neck, and the young
feller, who was in the middle of a large word, something like 'contumely,'
when the barrel tipped over, finished out the word and went right on with
the explanation. The doctor said he lived a good many years, and was loved
and esteemed by all who knew him.
"The doctor was always telling of his triumphs in surgery. He did save a
good many lives, too, toward the close of the war. He did it in an odd
"He had about one year more to serve, and, with his doctoring on one side
and the hostility of the enemy on the other, our regiment was wore down to
about five hundred men. Everybody said we couldn't stand it more than
another year. One day, however, the doctor had just measured a man for a
porus plaster, and had laid the stub of his cigar carefully down on the
top of a red powder-keg, when there was a slight atmospheric disturbance,
the smell of burnt clothes, and our regiment had to apply for a new
"The wife of our late surgeon wrote to have her husband's remains
forwarded to her, but I told her that it would be very difficult to do so,
owing to the nature of the accident. I said, however, that we had found an
upper set of store teeth imbedded in a palmetto tree near by, and had
buried them with military honors, erecting over the grave a large board,
on which was inscribed the name and age of the deceased and this
"_Not dead, but spontaneously distributed. Gone to meet his glorified
throng of patients. Ta, ta, vain world_."
I remember an attorney, who practiced law out West years ago, who used to
fill his pipe with brass paper fasteners, and try to light it with a
ruling pen about twice a day. That was his usual average.
He would talk in unknown tongues, and was considered a thorough and
revised encyclopedia on everything from the tariff on a meerschaum pipe to
the latitude of Crazy Woman's Fork west of Greenwich, and yet if he went