Part 8 out of 9
Narrow-Gauge, or Orphan Road, and with nothing else but the clothes I
wore, I told the plaintiff how to jerk the old Washington press and went
away. The dear old Washington press that had more than once squatted my
burning words into the pure white page. The dear old towel on which I had
wiped my soiled hands for years, until it had almost become a part of
myself, the dark blue Gordon press with its large fly wheel and
intermittent chattel mortgage, a press, to which I had contributed the
first joint of my front finger; the editor's chair; the samples of large
business cards printed in green with an inflamed red border, which showed
that we could do colored work at Larrabie's Slough just as well as they
could in the large cities; the files of our paper; the large wilted potato
that Mr. Alonzo G. Pinkham of Erin Corners kindly laid on our table-all,
all had to go.
"I fled out into the great, hollow, mocking world of people who had
requested me to aggress. They were people who had called my attention to
various things which I ought to attack. I had attacked those things. I had
also attacked the Larrabie Slough Narrow-Gauge Railroad, but the manager
did not see the attack, and so my pass was good.
"What could I do?
"I had attacked everything, and more especially the silver dollar, and now
I was homeless. For fourteen weeks I rode up the narrow-gauge road one day
and back the next, subsisting solely on the sample of nice pecan meat that
the newsboy puts in each passenger's lap.
"You look incredulous, I see, but it is true.
"I feel differently toward the currency now, and I wish I could undo what
I have done. Were I called up again to jerk the Archimedean lever, I would
not be so aggressive, especially as regards the currency. Whether it is
inflated or not, silver dollars, paper certificates of deposit or silver
bullion, it does not matter to me.
"I yearn for two or three adult doughnuts and one of those thick, dappled
slabs of gingerbread, or slat of pie with gooseberries in it. I presume
that I could write a scathing editorial on the abuses of our currency yet,
but I am not so much in the scathe business as I used to be.
"I wish you would state, if you will, through some great metropolitan
journal, that my views in relation to the silver coinage and the currency
question have undergone a radical change, and that any plan whatever, by
which to make the American dollar less skittish, will meet with my hearty
"If I have done anything at all through my paper to injure or repress the
flow of our currency, and I fear I have, I now take this occasion to
cheerfully regret it."
He then wrung my hand and passed from my sight.
Polygamy as a Religious Duty.
During the past few years in the history of our republic, we have had
leprosy, yellow fever and the dude, and it seemed as though each one would
wreck the whole national fabric at one time. National and international
troubles of one kind and another have gradually risen, been met and
mastered, but the great national abscess known as the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints still obstinately refuses to come to a head.
I may be a radical monogamist and a rash enthusiast upon this matter, but
I still adhere to my original motto, one country, one flag and one wife at
a time. Matrimony is a good thing, but it can be overdone. We can excuse
the man who becomes a collection of rare coins, stamps, or autographs, but
he who wears out his young life making a collection of wives, should be
looked upon with suspicion.
After all, however, this matter has always been, and still is, treated
with too much levity. It seems funny to us, at a distance of 1,600 miles,
that a thick-necked patriarch in the valley of the Jordan should be sealed
to thirteen or fourteen low-browed, half human females, and that the whole
mass of humanity should live and multiply under one roof.
Those who see the wealthy polygamists of Salt Lake City, do not know much
of the horrors of trying to make polygamy and poverty harmonize in the
rural districts. In the former case, each wife has a separate residence or
suite of rooms, perhaps; but in the latter is the aggregation of vice and
depravity, doubly horrible because, instead of the secluded character
which wickedness generally assumes, here it is the common heritage of the
young and at once fails to shock or horrify.
Under the All-seeing eye, and the Bee Hive, and the motto, "Holiness to
the Lord," with a bogus Bible and a red-nosed prophet, who couldn't earn
$13. per month pounding sand, this so called church hanging on to the
horns of the altar, as it were, defies the statutes, and while in open
rebellion against the laws of God and man, refers to the constitution of
the United States as protecting it in its "religious belief."
In a poem, the patient Mormon in the picturesque valley of the Great Salt
Lake, where he has "made the desert blossom as the rose," looks well. With
the wonderful music of the great organ at the tabernacle sounding in your
ears, and the lofty temple near by towering to the sky, you say to
yourself, there is, after all, something solemn and impressive in all
this; but when a greasy apostle in an alapaca duster, takes his place
behind the elevated desk, and with bad grammar and slangy sentences, asks
God in a businesslike way to bless this buzzing mass of unclean,
low-browed, barbarous scum of all foreign countries, and the white trash
and criminals of our own, you find no reverence, and no religious awe.
The same mercenary, heartless lunacy that runs through the sickly
plagiarism of the Book of Mormon, pervades all this, and instead of the
odor of sanctity you notice the flavor of bilge water, and the emigrant's
own hailing sign, the all-pervading fragrance of the steerage.
Education is the foe of polygamy, and many of the young who have had the
means by which to complete their education in the East, are apostate, at
least so far as polygamy is concerned. Still, to the great mass of the
poor and illiterate of Mormondom this is no benefit. The rich of the
Mormon Church are rich because their influence with this great fraud has
made them so; and it would, as a matter of business, injure their
prospects to come out and bolt the nomination.
[Illustration: THE FAMILY WASH.]
Utah, even with the Edmunds bill, is hopelessly Mormon; all adjoining
States and Territories are already invaded by them, and the delegate in
Congress from Wyoming is elected by the Mormon vote.
I believe that I am moderately liberal and free upon all religious
matters, but when a man's confession of faith involves from three to
twenty-seven old corsets in the back yard every spring, and a clothes line
every Monday morning that looks like a bridal trousseau emporium struck by
a cyclone, I must admit that I am a little bit inclined to be sectarian in
It's bad enough to be slapped across the features by one pair of long wet
hose on your way to the barn, but to have a whole bankrupt stock of cold,
wet garments every week fold their damp arms around your neck, as you
dodge under the clothes line to drive the cow out of the yard, is wrong.
It is not good for man to be alone, of course, but why should he yearn to
fold a young ladies' seminary to his bosom? Why should this morbid
sentiment prompt him to marry a Female Suffrage Mass Meeting? I do not
wish to be considered an extremist in religious matters, but the doctrine
that requires me to be sealed to a whole emigrant train, seems unnatural
An Address Delivered Before the Wisconsin State Press Association, at
White-Water, Wis., August 11, 1886.
Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Press of Wisconsin:
I am sure that when you so kindly invited me to address you to-day, you
did not anticipate a lavish display of genius and gestures. I accepted the
invitation because it afforded me an opportunity to meet you and to get
acquainted with you, and tell you personally that for years I have been a
constant reader of your valuable paper and I like it. You are running it
just as I like to see a newspaper run.
I need not elaborate upon the wonderful growth of the press in our
country, or refer to the great power which journalism wields in the
development of the new world. I need not ladle out statistics to show you
how the newspaper has encroached upon the field of oratory and how the
pale and silent man, while others sleep, compiles the universal history of
a day and tells his mighty audience what he thinks about it before he goes
Of course, this is but the opinion of one man, but who has a better
opportunity to judge than he who sits with his finger on the electric
pulse of the world, judging the actions of humanity at so much per judge,
invariably in advance?
I need not tell you all this, for you certainly know it if you read your
paper, and I hope you do. A man ought to read his own paper, even if he
cannot endorse all its sentiments.
So necessary has the profession of journalism become to the progress and
education of our country, that the matter of establishing schools where
young men may be fitted for an active newspaper life, has attracted much
attention and discussion. It has been demonstrated that our colleges do
not fit a young man to walk at once into the active management of a paper.
He should at least know the difference between a vile contemporary and a
It is difficult to map out a proper course for the student in a school of
journalism, there are so many things connected with the profession which
the editor and his staff should know and know hard. The newspaper of
to-day is a library. It is an encyclopaedia, a poem, a biography, a
history, a prophecy, a directory, a time-table, a romance, a cook book, a
guide, a horoscope, an art critic, a political resume, a _multum in
parvo_. It is a sermon, a song, a circus, an obituary, a picnic, a
shipwreck, a symphony in solid brevier, a medley of life and death, a
grand aggregation of man's glory and his shame. It is, in short, a
bird's-eye-view of all the magnanimity and meanness, the joys and griefs,
the births and deaths, the pride and poverty of the world, and all for two
I could tell you some more things that the newspaper of to-day is, if you
had time to stay here and your business would not suffer in your absence.
Among others it is a long felt want, a nine-column paper in a five-column
town, a lying sheet, a feeble effort, a financial problem, a tottering
wreck, a political tool and a sheriff's sale.
If I were to suggest a curriculum for the young man who wished to take a
regular course in a school of journalism, preferring that to the actual
experience, I would say to him, devote the first two years to meditation
and prayer. This will prepare the young editor for the surprise and
consequent temptation to profanity which in a few years he may experience
when he finds that the name of the Deity in his double-leaded editorial is
spelled with a little "g," and the peroration of the article is locked up
between a death notice and the advertisement of a patent moustache coaxer,
which is to follow pure reading matter every day in the week and occupy
the top of column on Sunday tf.
The ensuing five years should be devoted to the peculiar orthography of
the English language.
Then put in three years with the dumb bells, sand bags, slung shots and
tomahawk. In my own journalistic experience I have found more cause for
regret over my neglect of this branch than anything else. I usually keep
on my desk during a heated campaign, a large paper weight, weighing three
or four pounds, and in several instances I have found that I could feed
that to a constant reader of my valuable paper instead of a retraction.
Fewer people lick the editor though, now, than did so in years gone by.
Many people--in the last two years--have gone across the street to lick
the editor and never returned. They intended to come right back in a few
moments, but they are now in a land where a change of heart and a palm
leaf fan is all they need.
Fewer people are robbing the editor now-a-days, too, I notice with much
pleasure. Only a short time ago I noticed that a burglar succeeded in
breaking into the residence of a Dakota journalist, and after a long, hard
struggle the editor succeeded in robbing him.
After the primary course, mapped out already, an intermediate course of
ten years should be given to learning the typographical art, so that when
visitors come in and ask the editor all about the office, he can tell them
of the mysteries of making a paper, and how delinquent subscribers have
frequently been killed by a well-directed blow with a printer's towel.
Five years should be devoted to a study of the art of proof-reading. In
that length of time the young journalist can perfect himself to such a
degree that it will take another five years for the printer to understand
his corrections and marginal notes.
Fifteen years should then be devoted to the study of American politics,
especially civil service reform, looking at it from a non-partisan
standpoint. If possible, the last five years should be spent abroad.
London is the place to go if you wish to get a clear, concise view of
American politics, and Chicago or Milwaukee would be a good place for the
young English journalist to go and study the political outlook of England.
The student should then take a medical and surgical course, so that he
may be able to attend to contusions, fractures and so forth, which may
occur to himself or to the party who may come to his office for a
retraction and by mistake get his spinal column double-leaded.
Ten years should then be given to the study of law. No thorough,
metropolitan editor wants to enter upon the duties of his profession
without knowing the difference between a writ of _mandamus_ and other
styles of profanity. He should thoroughly understand the entire system of
American jurisprudence, so that in case a _certiorari_ should break out in
his neighborhood he would know just what to do for it.
The student will, by this time, begin to see what is required of him and
enter with great zeal upon the further study of his profession.
He will now enter upon a theological course of ten years and fit himself
thoroughly to speak intelligently of the various creeds and religions of
the world. Ignorance or the part of an editor is almost a crime, and when
he closes a powerful editorial with the familiar quotation, "It is the
early bird that catches the worm," and attributes it to St. Paul instead
of Deuteronomy, it makes me blush for the profession.
The last ten years may be profitably devoted to the acquisition of a
practical knowledge of cutting cordwood, baking beans, making shirts,
lecturing, turning double handsprings, being shot out of a catapult at a
circus, learning how to make a good adhesive paste that will not sour in
hot weather, grinding scissors, punctuating, capitalization, condemnation,
syntax, plain sewing, music and dancing, sculpting, etiquette, prosody, how
to win the affections of the opposite sex and evade a malignant case of
breach of promise, the ten commandments, every man his own tooter on the
flute, croquet, rules of the prize ring, rhetoric, parlor magic,
calisthenics, penmanship, how to run a jack from the bottom of the pack
without getting shot, civil engineering, decorative art, kalsomining,
bicycling, base ball, hydraulics, botany, poker, international law,
high-low-jack, drawing and painting, faro, vocal music, driving, breaking
team, fifteen ball pool, how to remove grease spots from last year's
pantaloons, horsemanship, coupling freight cars, riding on a rail, riding
on a pass, feeding threshing machines, how to wean a calf from the parent
stem, teaching school, bull-whacking, plastering, waltzing, vaccination,
autopsy, how to win the affections of your wife's mother, every man his
own washerwoman, or how to wash underclothes so they will not shrink,
But time forbids anything like a thorough list of what a young man should
study in order to fully understand all that he may be called upon to
express an opinion about in his actual experience as a journalist. There
are a thousand little matters which every editor should know; such, for
instance, as the construction of roller composition. Many newspaper men
can write a good editorial on Asiatic cholera, but their roller
composition is not fit to eat.
With the course of study that I have mapped out, the young student would
emerge from the college of journalism at the age of 95 or 96, ready to
take off his coat and write an article on almost any subject. He would be
a little giddy at first, and the office boy would have to see that he went
to bed at a proper time each night, but aside from that, he would be a
good man to feed a waste paper basket.
Actual experience is the best teacher in this peculiarly trying
profession. I hope some day to attend a press convention where the order
of exercise will consist of five-minute experiences from each one present
It would be worth listening to.
My own experience was a little peculiar. It was my intention at first to
practice law, when I went to the Rocky Mountains, although I had been
warned by the authorities not to do so. Still, I did practice in a
surreptitious kind of a way, and might have been practicing yet if my
client hadn't died. When you have become attached to a client and respect
and like him, and then when, without warning, like a bolt of electricity
from a clear sky, he suddenly dies and takes the bread right out of your
mouth, it is rough.
Then I tried the practice of criminal law, but my client got into the
penitentiary, where he was no use to me financially or politically.
Finally, when the judge was in a hurry, he would appoint me to defend the
pauper criminals. They all went to the penitentiary, until people got to
criticising the judge, and finally they told him that it was a shame to
appoint me to defend an innocent man.
My first experience in journalism was in a Western town, in which I was a
total stranger. I went there with thirty-five cents, but I had it
concealed in the lining of my clothes so that no one would have suspected
it if they had met me. I had no friends, and I noticed that when I got off
the train the band was not there to meet me. I entered the town just as
any other American citizen would. I had not fully decided whether to
become a stage robber or a lecturer on phrenology. At that time I got a
chance to work on a morning paper. It used to go to press before dark, so
I always had my evenings to myself and I liked that part of it first-rate.
I worked on that paper a year and might have continued if the proprietors
had not changed it to an evening paper.
Then a company incorporated itself and started a paper, of which I took
charge. The paper was published in the loft of a livery stable. That is
the reason they called it a stock company. You could come up the stairs
into the office or you could twist the tail of the iron-gray mule and take
It wasn't much of a paper, but it cost $16,000 a year to run it, and it
came out six days in the week, no matter what the weather was. We took the
Associated Press news by telegraph part of the time and part of the time
we relied on the Cheyenne morning papers, which we got of the conductor on
the early morning freight. We got a great many special telegrams from
Washington in that way, and when the freight train got in late, I had to
guess at what congress was doing and fix up a column of telegraph the best
I could. There was a rival evening paper there, and sometimes it would
send a smart boy down to the train and get hold of our special telegrams,
and sometimes the conductor would go away on a picnic and take our
Cheyenne paper with him.
All these things are annoying to a man who is trying to supply a long felt
want. There was one conductor, in particular, who used to go away into the
foot-hills shooting sage hens and take our cablegrams with him. This threw
too much strain on me. I could guess at what congress was doing and make
up a pretty readable report, but foreign powers and reichstags and crowned
heads and dynasties always mixed me up. You can look over what congress
did last year and give a pretty good guess at what it will do this year,
but you can't rely on a dynasty or an effete monarchy in a bad state of
preservation. It may go into executive session or it may go into
Still, at one time we used to have considerable local news to fill up
with. The north and middle parks for a while used to help us out when the
mining camps were new. Those were the days when it was considered
perfectly proper to kill off the board of supervisors if their action was
distasteful. At that time a new camp generally located a cemetery and
wrote an obituary; then the boys would start out to find a man whose name
would rhyme with the rest of the verse. Those were the days when the
cemeteries of Colorado were still in their infancy and the song of the
six-shooter was heard in the land.
Sometimes the Indians would send us in an item. It was generally in the
obituary line. With the Sioux on the north and the peaceful Utes on the
south, we were pretty sure of some kind of news during the summer. The
parks used to be occupied by white men winters and Indians summers. Summer
was really the pleasantest time to go into the parks, but the Indians had
been in the habit of going there at that season, and they were so clannish
that the white men couldn't have much fun with them, so they decided they
would not go there in the summer. Several of our best subscribers were
killed by the peaceful Utes.
There were two daily and three weekly papers published in Laramie City av
that time. There were between two and three thousand people and our local
circulation ran from 150 to 250, counting dead-heads. In our prospectus we
stated that we would spare no expense whatever in ransacking the universe
for fresh news, but there were times when it was all we could do to get
our paper out on time. Out of the express office, I mean.
One of the rival editors used to write his editorials for the paper in the
evening, jerk the Washington hand-press to work them off, go home and
wrestle with juvenile colic in his family until daylight and then deliver
his papers on the street. It is not surprising that the great mental
strain incident to this life made an old man of him, and gave a tinge of
extreme sadness to the funny column of his paper.
In an unguarded moment, this man wrote an editorial once that got all his
subscribers mad at him, and the same afternoon he came around and wanted
to sell his paper to us for $10,000. I told him that the whole outfit
wasn't worth ten thousand cents.
"I know that," said he, "but it is not the material that I am talking
about. It is the good will of the paper."
We had a rising young horsethief in Wyoming in those days, who got into
jail by some freak of justice, and it was so odd for a horsethief to get
into jail that I alluded to it editorially. This horsethief had
distinguished himself from the common, vulgar horsethieves of his time, by
wearing a large mouth--a kind of full-dress, eight-day mouth. He rarely
smiled, but when he did, he had to hold the top of his head on with both
hands. I remember that I spoke of this in the paper, forgetting that he
might criticise me when he got out of jail. When he did get out again, he
stated that he would shoot me on sight, but friends advised me not to have
his blood on my hands, and I took their advice, so I haven't got a
particle of his blood on either of my hands.
For two or three months I didn't know but he would drop into the office
any minute and criticise me, but one day a friend told me that he had been
hung in Montana. Then I began to mingle in society again, and didn't have
to get in my coal with a double barrel shot gun any more.
After that I was always conservative in relation to horsethieves until we
got the report of the vigilance committee.
Wrestling with the Mazy.
Very soon now I shall be strong enough on my cyclone leg to resume my
lessons in waltzing. It is needless to say that I look forward with great
pleasure to that moment. Nature intended that I should glide in the mazy.
Tall, lithe, bald-headed, genial, limber in the extreme, suave, soulful,
frolicsome at times, yet dignified and reserved toward strangers, light on
the foot--on my own foot, I mean--gentle as a woman at times, yet
irresistible as a tornado when insulted by a smaller, I am peculiarly
fitted to shine in society. Those who have observed my polished brow, when
under a strong electric light, say they never saw a man shine so in
society as I do.
My wife taught me how to waltz. She would teach me on Saturdays and repair
her skirts during the following week. I told her once that I thought I was
too brainy to dance. She said she hadn't noticed that, but she thought I
seemed to run too much to legs. My wife is not timid about telling me
anything that she thinks will be for my good. When I make a mistake she is
perfectly frank with me, and comes right to me and tells me about it, so
that I won't do so again.
I had just learned how to reel around a ballroom to a little waltz music,
when I was blown across the State of Mississippi in September last by a
high wind, and broke one of my legs which I use in waltzing. When this
accident occurred I had just got where I felt at liberty to choose a
glorious being with starry eyes and fluffy hair, and magnificently modeled
form, to steer me around the rink to the dreamy music of Strauss. One
young lady, with whom I had waltzed a good deal, when she heard that my
leg was broken, began to attend every dancing party she could hear of,
although she had declined a great many previous to that. I asked her how
she could be so giddy and so gay when I was suffering. She said she was
doing it to drown her sorrow, but her little brother told me on the quiet
that she was dancing while I was sick because she felt perfectly safe. A
friend of mine says I have a pronounced and distinctly original manner of
waltzing, and that he never saw anybody, with one exception, who waltzed
as I did, and that was Jumbo. He claimed that either one of us would be a
good dancer if he could have the whole ring to himself. He said that he
would like to see Jumbo and me waltz together if he were not afraid that I
would step on Jumbo and hurt him. You can see what a feeling of jealous
hatred it arouses in some small minds when a man gets so that he can
mingle in good society and enjoy himself.
[Illustration: WALTZING WITH JUMBO.]
I could waltz more easily if the rules did not require such a constant
change of position. I am sedentary in my nature, slow to move about, so
that it takes a lady of great strength of purpose to pull me around on
Anecdotes of the Stage.
Years ago, before Laramie City got a handsome opera house, everything in
the theatrical and musical line of a high order was put on the stage of
Blackburn's Hall. Other light dramas on the stage, and thrilling murders
in the audience, used to occur at Alexander's Theater, on Front street.
Here you could get a glass of Laramie beer, made of glucose, alkali water,
plug tobacco, and Paris green, by paying two bits at the bar, and, as a
prize, you drew a ticket to the olio, specialties, and low gags of the
stage. The idea of inebriating a man at the box office, so that he will
endure such a sham, is certainly worthy of serious consideration. I have
seen shows at Alexander's, and also at McDaniel's, in Cheyenne, however,
where the bar should have provided an ounce of chloroform with each ticket
in order to allay the suffering.
Here you could sit down in the orchestra and take the chances of getting
hit when the audience began to shoot at the pianist, or you could go up
into the boxes and have a quiet little conversation with the timid
beer-jerkers. The beer-jerker was never too proud to speak to the most
humble, and if she could sell a grub-staker for $5 a bottle of real Piper
Heidsick, made in Cheyenne and warranted to remove the gastric coat, pants
and vest from a man's stomach in two minutes, she felt pleased and proud.
A room-mate of mine, whose name I will not give, simply because he was and
still is the best fellow in the United States, came home from the
"theater" one night with his hair parted in the middle. He didn't wear it
that way generally, so it occasioned talk in social circles. He still has
a natural parting of the hair about five inches long, that he acquired
that night. He said it was accidental so far as he was concerned, but
unless the management could keep people from shooting the holders of
reserved seats between the acts or any other vital spot, he would withdraw
his patronage. And he was right about it. I think that any court in the
land would protect a man who had purchased a seat in good faith, and with
his hat on and both feet on the back of the seat in front of him, sits
quietly in said seat, smoking a Colorado Maduro cigar and watching the
Several such accidents occurred at the said theater. Among them was a
little tableau in which Joe Walker and Centennial Bob took the leading
parts. Bob went to the penitentiary, and Joe went to his reward with one
of his lungs in his coat pocket. There was a little difference between
them as to the regularity of a "draw" and "show down," so Bob went home
from the theater and loaded a double-barrel shot-gun with a lot of
scrap-iron, and, after he had introduced the collection into Joe's front
breadth, the latter's system was so lacerated that it wouldn't retain
There were other little incidents like that which occurred in and around
the old theater, some growing out of the lost love of a beer-jerker, some
from an injudicious investment in a bob-tail flush that never got ripe
enough to pick, and some from the rarified mountain air, united with an
epidemic known as _mania rotguti_.
A funny incident of the stage occurred not long ago to a friend of mine,
who is traveling with a play in which a stage cow appears. He is using
what is called a profile cow now, which works by machinery. Last winter
this cow ran down while in the middle of the stage, and forgot her lines.
The prompter gave the string a jerk in order to assist her. This broke the
cow in two, and the fore-quarters walked off to the left into one
dressing-room, while the behind-quarters and porter-house steak retired to
the outer dressing-room. The audience called for an _encore_; but the cow
felt as though she had made a kind of a bull of the part, and would not
appear. Those who may be tempted to harshly criticise this last remark,
are gently reminded that the intense heat of the past month is liable to
effect anyone's mind. Remember, gentle reader, that your own brain may
some day soften also, and then you will remember how harsh you were toward
Prior to the profile cow, the company ran a wicker-work cow, that was
hollow and admitted of two hired-men, who operated the beast at a moderate
salary. These men drilled a long time on what they called a heifer
dance--a beautiful spectacular, and highly moral and instructive quadruped
clog, sirloin shuffle, and cow gallop, to the music of a piano-forte. The
rehearsals had been crowned with success, and when the cow came on the
stage she got a bouquet, and made a bran mash on one of the ushers.
She danced up and down the stage, perfectly self-possessed, and with that
perfect grace and abandon which is so noticeable in the self-made cow.
Finally she got through, the piano sounded a wild Wagnerian bang, and the
cow danseuse ambled off. She was improperly steered, however, and ran her
head against a wing, where she stopped in full view of the audience. The
talent inside of the cow thought they had reached the dressing-room and
ran against the wall, so they felt perfectly free to converse with each
other. The cow stood with her nose jammed up against the wing, wrapped in
thought, Finally, from her thorax the audience heard a voice say:
"Jim, you blamed galoot, that ain't the step we took at rehearsal no
more'n nuthin'. If you're going to improvise a new cow duet, I wish you
wouldn't take the fore-quarters by surprise next time."
It is not now known what the reply was, for just then the prompter came on
the stage, rudely twisted the tail of the cow, rousing her from her
lethargy, and harshly kicking her in the pit of the stomach, he drove her
off the stage, The audience loudly called for a repetition, but the cow
refused to come in.
George the Third.
George III was born in England June 4, 1738, and ran for king in 1760. He
was a son of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and held the office of king for
sixty years. He was a natural born king and succeeded his grandfather,
George II. Look as you will a-down the long page of English history, and
you will not fail to notice the scarcity of self-made kings. How few of
them were poor boys and had to skin along for years with no money, no
influential friends and no fun.
Ah, little does the English king know of hard times and carrying two or
three barrels of water to a tired elephant in order that he may get into
the afternoon performance without money. When he gets tired of being
prince, all he has to do is just to be king all day at good wages, and
then at night take off his high-priced crown, hang it up on the hat-rack,
put on a soft hat and take in the town.
George III quit being prince at the age of 22 years, and began to hold
down the English throne. He would reign along for a few years, taking it
kind of quiet, and then all at once he would declare war and pick out some
people to go abroad and leave their skeletons on some foreign shore. That
was George's favorite amusement. He got up the Spanish war in two years
after he clome the throne; then he had an American revolution, a French
revolution, an Irish rebellion and a Napoleonic war. He dearly loved
carnage, if it could be prepared on a foreign strand. George always wanted
imported carnage, even if it came higher. It was in 1765, and early in
George's reign, that the American stamp act passed the Legislature and the
Goddess of Liberty began to kick over the dashboard.
George was different from most English kings, morally. When he spit on his
hand and grasped the sceptre, he took his scruples with him right onto the
throne. He was not talked about half so much as other kings before or
since his time. Nine o'clock most always found George in bed, with his
sceptre under the window-sash, so that he could get plenty of fresh air.
As it got along toward 9 o'clock, he would call the hired girl, tell her
to spread a linen lap-robe on the throne till morning, issue a royal ukase
directing her to turn out the cat, and instructing the cook to set the
pancake batter behind the royal stove in the council chamber, then he
would wind the clock and retire. Early in the morning George would be up
and dressed, have all his chores done and the throne dusted off ready for
another hard day's reign.
[Illustration: WRAPPED IN SLUMBER.]
George III is the party referred to in the Declaration of Independence the
present king of Great Britain, and of whom many bitter personal remarks
were made by American patriots. On this side of the water George was not
highly esteemed. If he had come over here to spend the summer with friends
in Boston, during the days of the stamp act excitement, he could have gone
home packed in ice, no doubt, and with a Swiss sunset under each eye.
George's mind was always a little on the bias, and in 1810 he went crazy
for the fifth time. Always before that he had gone right ahead with his
reign, whether he was crazy or not, but with the fifth attack of insanity,
coupled with suggestion of the brain and blind staggers, it was decided to
tie him up in the barn and let someone else reign awhile. The historian
says that blindness succeeded this attack, and in 1811 the Prince of Wales
George III died at Windsor in 1820, with the consent of a joint committee
of both houses of congress, at the age of 82 years. He made the longest
run as king, without stopping for feed or water, of any monarch in English
history. Sixty years is a long time to be a monarch and look under the bed
every night for a Nihilist loaded with a cut-glass bomb and Paris green.
Sixty years is a long while to jerk a sceptre over a nation and keep on
the right side, politically, all the time.
George was of an inventive turn of mind, and used to be monkeying with
some kind of a patent, evenings, after he had peeled his royal robes. Most
of his patents related to land, however, and some of the most successful
soil in Massachusetts was patented by George.
He was always trying some scheme to make a pile of money easy, so that he
wouldn't have to work; but he died poor and crazy at last, in England. He
was not very smart, but he attended to business all the time, and did not
get up much of a reputation as a moral leper. He said that as king of
Great Britain and general superintendent of Cork he did not aim to make
much noise, but he desired to attract universal attention by being so
moral that he would be regarded as eccentric by other crowned heads.
The Cell Nest.
To the Members of the Academy of Science, at Wrin Prairie, Wisconsin:
_Gentlemen:_--I beg leave to submit herewith my microscopic report on
the several sealed specimens of proud flesh and other mementoes taken
from the roof of Mr. Flannery's mouth. As Mr. Flannery is the mayor of
Erin Prairie, and therefore has a world-wide reputation, I deemed it
sufficiently important to the world at large, and pleasing to Mr.
Flannery's family, to publish this report in the medical journals of the
country, and have it telegraphed to the leading newspapers at their
expense. Knowing that the world at large is hungry to learn how the
laudable pus of an eminent man appears under the microscope, and what a
pleasure it must be to his family to read the description after his
death, I have just opened a new box of difficult words and herewith
transmit a report which will be an ornament not only to the scrap-book
of Mr. Flannery's immediate family after his death, but a priceless boon
to the reading public at large.
Removing the seals from the jars as soon as I had returned from the
express office, I poured off the alcohol and recklessly threw it away.
A true scientist does not care for expense.
The first specimen was in a good state of preservation on its arrival. I
never saw a more beautiful or robust proliferation epitherial cell nest in
my life. It must have been secured immediately after the old epitherial
had left the nest, and it was in good order on its arrival. The whole
lobule was looking first-rate. You might ride for a week and not run
across a prettier lobule or a more artistic aggregation of cell nests
outside a penitentiary.
Only one cell nest had been allowed to dry up on the way, and this looked
a good deal fatigued. In one specimen I noticed a carneous degeneration,
but this is really no reflection on Mr. Flannery personally. While he has
been ill it is not surprising that he should allow his cell nests to
carneously degenerate. Such a thing might happen to almost any of us.
One of the scrapings from the sore on the right posterior fauces, I found
on its arrival, had been seriously injured, and therefore not available. I
return it herewith.
From an examination, which has been conducted with great care, I am led to
believe that the right posterior rafter of Mr. Flannery's mouth is
slightly indurated, and it is barely possible that the northeast duplex
and parotid gable end of the roof of his mouth may become involved.
I wish you would ask Mr. Flannery's immediate relatives, if you can do so
without arousing alarm in the breast of the patient, if there has ever
been a marked predisposition on the part of his ancestors to tubercular
gumboil. I do not wish to be understood as giving this diagnosis as final
at all, but from what I have already stated, taken together with other
clinical and pathological data within my reach, and the fact that minute,
tabulated gumboil bactinae were found floating through some of the cell
nests, I have every reason to fear the worst. I would be glad to receive
from you for microscopic examination a fragment of Mr. Flannery's
malpighian layer, showing evidences of cell proliferation. I only suggest
this, of course, as practicable in case there should be a malpighian layer
which Mr. Flannery is not using. Do not ask him to take a malpighian layer
off her cell nest just to please me.
From one microscopic examination I hardly feel justified in giving a
diagnosis, nor care to venture any suggestion as to treatment, but it
might be well to kalsomine the roof of Mr. Flannery's mouth with
gum-arabic, white lime and glue in equal parts.
There has already been some extravatations and a marked multiformity. I
also noticed an inflamed and angry color to the stroma with trimmings of
the same. This might only indicate that Mr. Flannery had kept his mouth
open too much during the summer, and sunburned the roof of his mouth, were
it not that I also discovered traces of gumboil microbes of the squamous
variety. This leads me to fear the worst for Mr. Flannery. However, if the
gentlemanly, courteous and urbane members of the Academy of Science, of
Erin Prairie, to whom I am already largely indebted for past favors, will
kindly forward to me, prepaid, another scraping from the mansard roof of
Mr. Flannery's mouth next week, I will open another keg of hard words and
trace this gumboil theory to a successful termination, if I have to use up
the whole ceiling of the patient's mouth.
Yours, with great sincerity, profundity and verbosity,
Microscopist, Lobulist and Microbist.
Hudson, Wis., May 3.
The past fifty years have done much for the newspaper and periodical
readers of the United States. That period has been fruitful of great
advancement and a great reduction in price, but these are not all. Fifty
years and less have classified information so that science and sense are
conveniently found, and humor and nonsense have their proper sphere. All
branches are pretty full of lively and thoroughly competent writers, who
take hold of their own special work even as the thorough, quick-eyed
mechanic takes hold of his line of labor and acquits himself in a
creditable manner. The various lines of journalism may appear to be
crowded, but they are not. There may be too much vagabond journalism, but
the road that is traveled by the legitimate laborer is not crowded. The
clean, Caucasian journalist, as he climbs the hill, is not crowded very
much. He can make out to elbow his way toward the front, if he tries very
hard. There may be too much James Crow science, and too much editorial
vandalism and gush, and too much of the journalism for revenue only. There
may be too much ringworm humor also, but there is still a demand for the
scientific work of the true student. There is still a good market for
honest editorial opinion, reliable news and fearless and funny paragraph
work and character sketches, as the song and dance men would say.
All this, however, points in one direction. It all has one hoarse voice,
and in the tones of the culverin, whatever that is, it says that to the
young man who is starting out with the intention of filling the tomb of a
millionaire, "Learn to do something well."
Lots of people rather disliked the famous British hangman, and thought he
hadn't made a great record for himself, but he performed a duty that had
to be done by someone, and no one ever complained much about Marwood's
work. He warranted every job and told everyone that if they were
dissatisfied he would refund their money at the door. No man ever came
back to Marwood and said, "Sir, you broke my neck in an unworkmanlike
It is better to be a successful hangman than to be the banished, abused
and heart-broken, cast-off husband of a great actress. Learn to take hold
of some business and jerk it bald-headed. Learn to dress yourself first.
This will give you self-assurance, so that you can go away from home and
not be dependent on your mother. Teach yourself to be accurate and careful
in all things. It is better to turn the handle of a sausage grinder and
make a style of sausage that is free from hydrophobia, than to be the
extremely hence cashier of a stranded bank, fighting horseflies in the
solemn hush of a Canadian forest.
People have wrong ideas of the respective merits of different avocations.
It is better to be the successful driver of a dray than to be the
unsuccessful inventor of a still-born motor. I would rather discover how
to successfully wean a calf from the parent stem without being boosted
over a nine rail fence, than to discover a new star that had never been
used, and the next evening find that it had made an assignment.
Boys, oh, boys! How I wish I could take each of you by the ear and lead
you away by yourselves, and show you how many ruins strew the road to
success, and how life is like a mining boom. We only hear of those who
strike it rich. The hopeful, industrious prospector who failed to find the
contact and finally filled a nameless grave, is soon forgotten when he is
gone, but a million tongues tell to forty million listening ears of the
man who struck it rich and went to Europe.
Therefore make haste to advance slowly and surely. I am aware that your
ears ache with the abundance wherewith ye are advised, but if ye seek not
to brace up while yet it is called to-day, and file away information for
future reference and cease to look upon the fifteen-ball pool game when it
moveth itself aright, at such time as ye think not ye shall be in
pecuniary circumstances and there shall be none to indorse for you--nay,
Early Day Justice.
[Footnote 2: _From the Chicago Rambler_.]
Those were troublesome times, indeed. All wool justice in the courts was
impossible. The vigilance committee, or Salvation Army as it called
itself, didn't make much fuss about it, but we all knew that the best
citizens belonged to it and were in good standing.
It was in those days when young Stewart was short-handed for a sheep
herder, and had to take up with a sullen, hairy vagrant, called by the
other boys "Esau." Esau hadn't been on the ranch a week before he made
trouble with the proprietor and got the red-hot blessing from Stewart he
Then Esau got madder and sulked away down the valley among the little sage
brush hummocks and white alkali waste land to nurse his wrath. When
Stewart drove into the corral at night, from town, Esau raised up from
behind an old sheep dip tank, and without a word except what may have
growled around in his black heart, he raised a leveled Spencer and shot
his young employer dead.
That was the tragedy of the week only. Others had occurred before and
others would probably occur again. It was getting too prevalent for
comfort. So, as soon as a quick cayuse and a boy could get down into
town, the news spread and the authorities began in the routine manner to
set the old legal mill to running. Someone had to go down to "The Tivoli"
and find the prosecuting attorney, then a messenger had to go to "The
Alhambra" for the justice of the peace. The prosecuting attorney was
"full" and the judge had just drawn one card to complete a straight flush,
and had succeeded.
In the meantime the Salvation Army was fully half way to Clugston's ranch.
They had started out, as they said, "to see that Esau didn't get away."
They were going out there to see that Esau was brought into town.
[Illustration: THE SALVATION ARMY.]
What happened after they got there I only know from hearsay, for I was not
a member of the Salvation Army at that time. But I got it from one of
those present, that they found Esau down in the sage brush on the bottoms
that lie between the abrupt corner of Sheep Mountain and the Little
Laramie River. They captured him, but he died soon after, as it was told
me, from the effects of opium taken with suicidal intent. I remember
seeing Esau the next morning and I thought there were signs of ropium, as
there was a purple streak around the neck of deceased, together with other
external phenomena not peculiar to opium.
But the great difficulty with the Salvation Army was that it didn't want
to bring Esau into town. A long, cold night ride with a person in Esau's
condition was disagreeable. Twenty miles of lonely road with a deceased
murderer in the bottom of the wagon is depressing. Those of my readers who
have tried it will agree with me that it is not calculated to promote
hilarity. So the Salvation Army stopped at Whatley's ranch to get warm,
hoping that someone would steal the remains and elope with them. They
stayed some time and managed to "give away" the fact that there was a
reward of $5,000 out for Esau, dead or alive. The Salvation Army even went
so far as to betray a great deal of hilarity over the easy way it had
nailed the reward, or would as soon as said remains were delivered up and
Mr. Whatley thought that the Salvation Army was having a kind of walkaway,
so he slipped out at the back door of the ranch, put Esau into his own
wagon and drove away to town. Remember, this is the way it was told to me.
Mr. Whatley hadn't gone more than half a mile when he heard the wild and
disappointed yells of the Salvation Army. He put the buckskin on the backs
of his horses without mercy, driven on by the enraged shouts and yells of
his infuriated pursuers. He reached town about midnight, and his pursuers
disappeared. But what was he to do with Esau?
He drove around all over town, trying to find the official who signed for
the deceased. Mr. Whatley went from house to house like a vegetable man,
seeking sadly for the party who would give him a $5,000 check for Esau.
Nothing could be more depressing than to wake up one man after another out
of a sound sleep and invite him to come out to the buggy and identify the
remains. One man went out and looked at him. He said he didn't know how
others felt about it, but he allowed that anybody who would pay $5,000 for
such a remains as Esau's could not have very good taste.
Gradually it crept through Mr. Whatley's wool that the Salvation Army had
been working him, so he left Esau at the engine house and went home. On
his ranch he nailed up a large board on which had been painted in antique
characters with a paddle and tar the following stanzas:
Vigilance Committees, Salvation Armies, Morgues, or young physicians who
may have deceased people on their hands, are requested to refrain from
conferring them on to the undersigned.
People who contemplate shuffling off their own or other people's mortal
coils, will please not do so on these grounds.
The Salvation Army of the Rocky Mountains is especially hereby warned to
keep off the grass!
The Indian Orator.
I like to read of the Indian orator in the old school books. Most everyone
does. It is generally remarkable that the American Demosthenes, so far,
has dwelt in the tepee, and lived on the debris of the deer and the
buffalo. I mean to say that the school readers have impressed us with the
great magnetism of the crude warrior who dwelt in the wilderness and ate
his game, feathers and all, while he studied the art of swaying the
audience by his oratorical powers.
I am inclined to think that Black Hawk and Logan must have been fortunate
in securing mighty able private secretaries, or that they stood in with
the stenographers of their day. At least, the Blue Juniata warriors of our
time, from Little Crow, Red Iron, Standing Buffalo, Hole-in-the-Day and
Sitting Bull, to Victoria, Colorow, Douglas, Persume, Captain Jack and
Shavano, seem to do better as lobbyists than they do as orators. They may
be keen, logical and shrewd, but they are not eloquent. In some minds,
Black Hawk will ever appear as the Patrick Henry of his people; but I
prefer to honor his unknown, unhonored and unsung amanuensis. Think what a
godsend such a man would have been to Senator Tabor.
The Indian orator of to-day is not scholarly and grand. He is soiled,
ignorant and sedentary in his habits. An orator ought to take care of his
health. He cannot overload his stomach and make a bronze Daniel Webster of
himself. He cannot eat a raw buffalo for breakfast and at once attack the
question of tariff for revenue only. His brain is not clear enough. He
cannot digest the mammalia of North America and seek out the delicate
intricacies of the financial problem at the same time. All scientists and
physiologists will readily see why this is true.
It is quite popular to say that the modern Indian has seen too much of
civilization. This may be true. Anyhow, civilization has seen too much of
him. I hope the day will never come when the pale face and the White
Father will have to stay on their reservation, whether the red man does or
Indian eloquence, toned down by the mellow haze of a hundred years, sounds
very well, but the clarion voice of the red orator has died away. The
stony figure, the eagle eye, the matchless presence, have all ceased to
He does not say: "I am an aged hemlock. I am dead at the top. The forest
is filled with the ghosts of my people. I hear their moans on the night
winds and in the sighing pines." He does not talk in the blank verse of a
century ago. He uses a good many blanks, but it is not blank verse. Even
the Indian's friend would admit that it was not blank verse. Perhaps it
might be called blankety verse.
Once he pleaded for the land of his fathers. Now he howls for grub, guns
and fixed ammunition.
I tried to interview a big Crow chief once. I had heard some Sioux, and
learned a few irrelevant and disconnected Ute phrases. I connected these
with some Spanish terms and hoped to get a reply, and keep up a kind of
running conversation that might mislead a friend who was with me, into the
belief that I was as familiar with the Indian tongue as with my own. I
began conversing with him in my polyglot manner. I did not get a reply. I
conversed with him some more in a desultory way, for I had heard that he
was a great orator in his tribe, and I wanted to get his views on national
affairs. Still he was silent. He would not even answer me. I got hostile
and used some badly damaged Spanish on him. Then I used some sprained and
dislocated German on him, but he didn't seem to wot whereof I spoke.
Then my friend, with all the assurance of a fresh young manhood, began to
talk with the great warrior in the English language, and incidentally
asked him about a new Indian agent, who had the name of being a bogus
Christian with an eye to the main chance.
My friend talked very loud, with the idea that the chieftain could
understand any language if spoken so that you could hear it in the next
Territory. At the mention of the Indian agent's name, the Crow statesman
brightened up and made a remark. He simply said: "Ugh! too much God and no
You Heah Me, Sah!
Col. Visscher, of Denver, who is delivering his lecture, "Sixty Minutes in
the War," tells a good story on himself of an episode, or something of
that nature, that occurred to him in the days when he was the amanuensis
of George D. Prentice.
Visscher, in those days, was a fair-haired young man, with pale blue eyes,
and destitute of that wealth of brow and superficial area of polished dome
which he now exhibits on the rostrum. He was learning the lesson of life
then, and every now and then he would bump up against an octagonal mass of
cold-pressed truth of the never-dying variety that seemed to kind of stun
and concuss him.
One day Mr. Visscher wandered into a prominent hotel in Louisville, and,
observing with surprise and pleasure that "boiled lobster" was one of the
delicacies on the bill of fare, he ordered one.
He never had seen lobster, and a rare treat seemed to be in store for him.
He breathed in what atmosphere there was in the dining-room, and waited
for his bird. At last it was brought in. Mr. Visscher took one hasty look
at the great scarlet mass of voluptuous limbs and oceanic nippers, and
sighed. The lobster was as large as a door mat, and had a very angry and
inflamed appearance. Visscher ordered in a powerful cocktail to give him
courage, and then he tried to carve off some of the breast.
The lobster is honery even in death. He is eccentric and trifling. Those
who know him best are the first to evade him and shun him. Visscher had
failed to straddle the wish bone with his fork properly, and the talented
bird of the deep rolling sea slipped out of the platter, waved itself
across the horizon twice, and buried itself in the bosom of the eminent
and talented young man. The eminent and talented young man took it in his
napkin, put it carefully on the table, and went away.
As he passed out, the head waiter said:
"Mr. Visscher, was there anything the matter with your lobster?"
Visscher is a full-blooded Kentuckian, and answered in the courteous
dialect of the blue-grass country.
"Anything the matter with my lobster, sah? No, sah. The lobster is very
vigorous, sah. If you had asked me how I was, sah, I should have answered
you very differently, sah. I am not well at all, sah. If I were as well,
and as ruddy, and as active as that lobster, sah, I would live forever,
sah. You heah me, sah?
"Why, of course, I am not familiar with the habits of the lobster, sah,
and do not know how to kearve the bosom of the bloomin' peri of the summer
sea, but that's no reason why the inflamed reptile should get up on his
hind feet and nestle up to me, sah, in that earnest and forthwith manner,
"I love dumb beasts, sah, and they love me, sah; but when they are dead,
sah, and I undertake to kearve them, sah, I desiah, sah, that they should
remain as the undertakah left them, sah. You doubtless heah me, sah!"
Plato was a Greek philosopher who flourished about 426 B.C., and kept on
flourishing for eighty-one years after that, when he suddenly ceased do so.
He early took to poetry, but when he found that his poems were rejected by
the Greek papers, he ceased writing poetry and went into the philosophy
business. At that time Greece had no regular philosopher, and so Plato
soon got all he could do.
Plato was a pupil of Socrates, who was himself no slouch of a
philosopher. Many and many a day did Socrates take his little class of
kindergarten philosophers up the shady banks of the Ilissus, and sit all
day discoursing to his pupils on deep and difficult doctrines, while his
unsandaled feet were bathed in the genial tide. Many happy hours were
thus spent. Socrates would take his dinner or tell some wonderful tale
to his class, whereby he would win their dinner himself. Then in the
deep Athenian shade, with his bare, Gothic feet in the clear, calm
waters of the Ilissus, he would eat the Grecian doughnut of his pupils,
and while he spoke in poetic terms of his belief, he would dig his heel
in the mud and heave a heart-broken sigh.
Such was Socrates, the great teacher. He got a small salary, and went
barefoot till after Thanksgiving. He was a great tutor, and boarded
around, teaching in the open air while the mosquitos bit his bare feet.
No tutor ever tuted with a more unselfish purpose or a smaller salary.
Plato maintained, among other things, that evil is connected with matter,
and aside from matter we do not find evil existing. That is true. At
least, such evil as we might find apart from matter would be outside the
jurisdiction of a police court. I think Plato was correct. Evil and
matter are inseparable. That's what's the matter.
It is quite common for us to say that virtue is its own reward. Plato
held that, while it was better to be virtuous as a matter of economy and
ultimate peace than not to be virtuous at all, he believed in being
virtuous for a higher reason. Probably it was notoriety. He would rather
be right than be president. He believed in being good just for the
excitement of it, and the notice it would attract, and not because it
paid. Plato was a great virtuoso.
Socrates would have been called a crank if he had lived in our day and
age, and if Plato were to go into London or New York and talk of
organizing a society for the encouragement of virtue among adult male
taxpayers he would have a lonesome time of it. Be virtuous and you will
be happy was a favorite motto with Plato. The legend is still quoted by
those who love to ransack the dead past.
[Illustration: NEPTUNE TAKING A RIDE.]
Pluto was quite another party, and some get him mixed up with Plato.
They were not related in any way, Pluto being a son of Saturn and Rhea,
who flourished at about the same time as Plato. Pluto was a brother of
Jupiter and Neptune, and when the estate of Saturn was wound up, Jupiter
wanted the earth, and he got it. Neptune wanted the codfish conservatory
and the mermaid's home, so he took the deep, deep sea, and even yet he
rides around in a gold spangled stone boat on the pale green billows of
the summer sea, jabbing a pickerel ever and anon with a three pronged
fork. He leads a gay life, going to picnics with the mermaids in their
coral caves, or attending their full evening dress parties, clad in a
trident and a fall beard. He loves the sea, the lone, blue sea, and
those who have seen him turning handsprings on a sponge lawn, or riding
in his water-tight chariot with his feet over the dash-board, beside a
slim young mermaid with Paris green hair, and dressed in a
tight-fitting, low-neck dorsal fin, say he is a lively old party.
But Pluto was different. He stood around till the estate was all closed
up, and it looked as though he had got left. Just then the administrator
says: "Why, here's Pluto. He is going to come out of the little end of
the horn. He will have to hustle for himself," Pluto resented this and
clinched with the administrator. They fought till each had a watch pocket
on the brow and an Irish sunset symphony in green under the eye, while
Jupiter and Neptune stood by and encouraged the fight. Jupiter rather
took sides with his brother, and Neptune stood in with the administrator.
In the midst of the confusion Jupiter speaks up and says: "Swat him under
the ear, Pluto." Whereupon Neptune says to the administrator. "Give
him--hail." The administrator paused and said that was a good suggestion.
He would do so. And so he forgave Pluto and gave him--sheol.
The Expensive Word.
Much that is annoying in this life is occasioned by the use of a high
priced word where a cheaper one would do. In these days of failure,
shortage at both ends and financial stringency generally, I often wonder
that some people should go on, day after day, using just as extravagant
language as they did during the flush times. When I get hard up the first
thing I do is to economize in my expressions in every day conversation. If
there is a marked stringency in business, I lay aside first, my French,
then my Latin, and finally my German. Should the times become greatly
depressed and failures and assignments become frequent, I begin to lop off
the large words in my own language, beginning with "incomprehensibility,"
"unconstitutionally," etc., etc.
Julius Caesar's motto used to be, "Avoid an unusual word as you would a
rock at sea," and Jule was right about it, too. Large and unusual words,
especially in the mouths of ignorant people, are worse than "Rough on
Rats" in a boarding-house pie.
Years ago there used to be a pompous cuss in southern Wisconsin, who was a
self-made man. Extremely so. Those who used to hear him assert again and
again that he was a self-made man always felt renewed confidence in the
He rose one evening in a political meeting, and swelling out his bosom, as
his eagle eye rested on the chairman, he said:
"Mr. Cheerman! I move you that the cheer do appoint a committee of three
to attend to the matter under discussion, and that sayed committee be
clothed by the cheer with ominiscient and omnipotent powers."
The motion was duly seconded and the cheerman said he guessed that it
wouldn't be necessary to put it to a vote.
"I guess it will be all right, Mr. Pinkham. I guess there'll be no
declivity to that."
And so the committee was appointed and clothed with omniscient and
omnipotent powers, there being no declivity to it.
We had a self-made lawyer at one time in the northern part of the State
who would rather find a seventy-five cent word and use it in a speech
where it did not belong than to eat a good square meal. He was more fatal
to the King's English than O'Dynamite Rossa. One day he was telling how
methodical one of the county officials was.
"Why," said he, "I never saw a man do so much and do it so easy. But the
secret of it is plain enough. You see, he has a regular rotunda of
business every day."
If he meant anything, I suppose he meant a routine of business, but a man
would have to be a mind reader to follow him some days when he had about
six fingers of cough medicine aboard and began to paw around in the dark
and musty garret of his memory for moth-eaten words that didn't mean
A neighbor of mine went to Washington during the Guiteau trial and has
been telling us about it ever since. He is one of those people who don't
want to be close and stingy about what they know. He likes to go through
life shedding information right and left. He likes to get a crowd around
him and then tell how he was in Washington at the time of the "post
mortise examination." "Boys, you may talk all your a mind to, but the
greatest thing I saw in Washington," said he, "was Dr. Mary Walker on the
street every morning riding one of these philosophers."
[Illustration: HE PAINTED THE FENCE GREEN.]
He painted the top of his fence green, last year, so it would "kind of
combinate with his blinds."
If he would make his big words "combinate" with what he means a little
better, he would not attract so much attention. But he don't care. He
hates to see a big, fat word loafing around with nothing to do, so he
throws one in occasionally for exercise, I guess.
In the Minnesota legislature, in 1867, they had under discussion a bill to
increase the per diem of members from three dollars to five dollars. A
member of the lower house, who voted for the measure, was hauled over the
coals by one of his constituents and charged with corruption in no
unmeasured terms. To all this the legislator calmly answered that when he
got down to the capital and found out the awful price of board, he
concluded that his "per diadem" ought to be increased, and so he supported
the measure. Then the belligerent constituent said:
"I beg your pardon and acquit you of all charges of corruption, for a
legislator who does not know the difference between a crown of glory and
the price of a day's work is too big a blankety blanked fool to be
convicted of an intentional wrong."
Petticoats at the Polls.
There have been many reasons given, first and last, why women should not
vote, but I desire to say, in the full light of a ripe experience, that
some of them are fallacious. I refer more particularly to the argument
that it will degrade women to go to the polls and vote like a little man.
While I am not and have never been a howler for female suffrage, I must
admit that it is much more of a success than prohibition and speculative
My wife voted eight years with my full knowledge and consent, and to-day I
cannot see but that she is as docile and as tractable as when she won my
Now those who know me best will admit that I am not a ladies' man, and,
therefore, what I may say here is not said to secure favor and grateful
smiles. I am not attractive and I am not in politics. I believe that I am
homelier this winter than usual. There are reasons why I believe that what
I may say on this subject will be sincere and not sensational or selfish.
It has been urged that good women do not generally exercise the right of
suffrage, when they have the opportunity, and that only those whose social
record has been tarnished a good deal go to the polls. This is not true.
It is the truth that a good full vote always shows a list of the best
women and the wives of the best men. A bright day makes a better showing
of lady voters than a bad one, and the weather makes a more perceptible
difference in the female vote than the male, but when things are exciting
and the battle is red-hot, and the tocsin of war sounds anon, the wife and
mother puts on her armor and her sealskin sacque and knocks things
It is generally supposed that the female voter is a pantaloonatic, a half
horse, half alligator kind of woman, who looks like Dr. Mary Walker and
has the appearance of one who has risen hastily in the night at the alarm
of fire and dressed herself partially in her own garments and partially in
her husband's. This is a popular error. In Wyoming, where female suffrage
has raged for years, you meet quiet, courteous and gallant gentlemen, and
fair, quiet, sensible women at the polls, where there isn't a loud or
profane word, and where it is an infinitely more proper place to send a
young lady unescorted than to the postoffice in any city in the Union. You
can readily see why this is so. The men about the polls are always
candidates and their friends. That is the reason that neither party can
afford to show the slightest rudeness toward a voter. The man who on
Wednesday would tell her to go and soak her head, perhaps, would stand
bareheaded to let her pass on Tuesday. While she holds a smashed ballot
shoved under the palm of her gray kid glove she may walk over the
candidate's prostrate form with impunity and her overshoes if she chooses
Weeks and months before election in Wyoming, the party with the longest
purse subsidizes the most livery stables and carriages. Then, on the
eventful day, every conveyance available is decorated with a political
placard and driven by a polite young man who is instructed to improve the
time. Thus every woman in Wyoming has a chance to ride once a year, at
least. Lately, however, many prefer to walk to the polls, and they go in
pairs, trios and quartettes, voting their little sentiments and calmly
returning to their cookies and crazy quilts as though politics didn't jar
their mental poise a minute.
It is possible, and even probable, that a man and his wife may disagree on
politics as they might on religion. The husband may believe in Andrew
Jackson and a relentless hell, while his wife may be a stalwart and rather
liberal on the question of eternal punishment. If the husband manages his
wife as he would a clothes-wringer, and turns her through life by a crank,
he will, no doubt, work her politically; but if she has her own ideas
about things, she will naturally act upon them, while the man who is
henpecked in other matters till he can't see out of his eyes, will be
henpecked, no doubt, in the matter of national and local politics.
These are a few facts about the actual workings of female suffrage, and I
do not tackle the great question of the ultimate results upon the
political machinery if woman suffrage were to become general. I do not
pretend to say as to that. I know a great deal, but I do not know that.
There are millions of women, no doubt who are better qualified to vote,
and yet cannot, than millions of alleged men who do vote; but no one can
tell now what the ultimate effect of a change might be.
So far as Wyoming is concerned, the Territory is prosperous and happy. I
see, also, that a murderer was hung by process of law there the other day.
That looks like the onward march of reform, whether female suffrage had
anything to do with it or not. And they're going to hang another in March
if the weather is favorable and executive clemency remains dormant, as I
think it will.
All these things look hopeful. We can't tell what the Territory would have
been without female suffrage, but when they begin to hang men by law
instead of by moonlight, the future begins to brighten up. When you have
to get up in the night to hang a man every little while and don't get any
per diem for it, you feel as though you were a good way from home.
The Sedentary Hen.
Though generally cheerful and content with her lot, the hen at times
becomes moody, sullen and taciturn. We are often called upon to notice and
profit by the genial and sunny disposition of the hen, and yet there are
times in her life when she is morose, cynical, and the prey of consuming
melancholy. At such times not only her own companions, but man himself
shuns the hen.
At first she seems to be preoccupied only. She starts and turns pale when
suddenly spoken to. Then she leaves her companions and seems to be the
victim of hypochondria. Then her mind wanders. At last you come upon her
suddenly some day, seated under the currant bushes. You sympathize with
her and you seek to fondle her. She then picks a small memento out of the
back of your hand. You then gently but firmly coax her out of there with a
hoe, and you find that she has been seated for some time on an old croquet
ball, trying to hatch out a whole set of croquet balls. This shows that
her mind is affected. You pick up the croquet ball, and find it hot and
feverish, so you throw it into the shade of the woodshed. Anon, you find
your demented hen in the loft of the barn hovering over a door knob and
trying by patience and industry to hatch out a hotel.
When a hen imagines that she is inspired to incubate, she at once ceases
to be an ornament to society and becomes a crank. She violates all the
laws and customs of nature and society in trying to hatch a conservatory
by setting through the long days and nights of summer on a small flower
Man may win the affections of the tiger, the lion, or the huge elephant,
and make them subservient to his wishes, but the setting hen is not
susceptible to affection. You might as well love the Manitoba blizzard or
try to quell the cyclone by looking calmly in its eye. The setting hen is
filled with hatred for every living thing. She loves to brood over her
wrongs or anything else she can find to squat on.
I once owned a hen that made a specialty of setting. She never ceased to
be the proud anonymous author of a new, warm egg, but she yearned to be a
parent. She therefore seated herself on a nest where other hens were in
the habit of leaving their handiwork for inspection. She remained there
during the summer hatching steadily on while the others laid, until she
filled my barnyard with little orphaned henlets of different ages. She
remained there night and day, patiently turning out poultry for me to be a
father to. I brought up on the bottle about one hundred that summer that
had been turned out by this morbidly maternal hen. All she seemed to ask
in return was my kind regards and esteem. I fed her upon the nest and
humored her in every way. Every day she became a parent, and every day
added to my responsibility.
[Illustration: SUCCESS WITH CHICKENS.]
One day I noticed that she seemed weak and there was a far away look in
her eye. For the first time the horrible truth burst upon my mind. I
buried my face in the haymow and I am not ashamed to say that I wept.
Strong man as I am, I am not too proud to say that I soaked that haymow
through with unavailing tears.
My hen was dying even then. Her breath came hot and quick like the swift
rush of a hot ball that caves in the short-stop and speeds away to
The next morning one hundred chickens of various sizes were motherless,
and if anything had happened to me they would have been fatherless.
For many years I have made a close study of the setting hen, but I am
still unsettled as to what is best to do with her. She is a freak of
nature, a disagreeable anomaly, a fussy phenomenon. Logic, rhetoric and
metaphor are all alike to the setting hen. You might as well go down into
the bosom of Vesuvius and ask it to postpone the next eruption.
A Bright Future for Pugilism.
The recent prominence of Mr. John E. Dempsey, better known as Jack
Dempsey, of New York, brings to mind a four days' trip taken in his
company from Portland, Oregon, to St. Paul, over the Northern Pacific.
There were three pugilists in the party besides myself, viz. Dempsey, Dave
Campbell and Tom Cleary. We made a grand, triumphant tour across the
country together, and I may truthfully state that I never felt so free to
say anything I wanted to--to other passengers--as I did at that time. I
wish I could afford to take at least one pugilist with me all the time. In
traveling about the country lecturing, a good pugilist would be of great
assistance. I would like to set him on the man who always asks: "Where do
you go to from here, Mr. Nye?" He does not ask because he wants to know,
for the next moment he asks right over again. I do not know why he asks,
but surely it is not for the purpose of finding out.
Well, throughout our long journey across the State of Oregon and the
Territories of Idaho, Montana and Dakota, and the State of Minnesota, it
was one continual ovation. Dempsey had a world-wide reputation, I found,
co-extensive with the horizon, as I may say, and bounded only by the
In my great forthcoming work, entitled "Half-Hours with Great Men, or
Eminent People Which I Have Saw," I shall give a fuller description of
this journey. The book will be a great boon.
Mr. Dempsey is not a man who would be picked out as a great man. You might
pass by him two or three times without recognizing his eminence, and yet,
at a scrapping matinee or swatting recital, he seems to hold his audiences
at his own sweet will--also his antagonist.
Mr. Dempsey does not crave notoriety. He seems rather to court seclusion.
This is characteristic of the man. See how he walked around all over the
State of New York last week--in the night, too--in order to evade the
His logic, however, is wonderful. Though quiet and unassuming in his
manner, his arguments are powerful and generally make a large protuberance
wherever they alight.
Nothing is more pleasing than the sight of a man who has risen by his own
unaided effort, fought his way up, as it were, and yet who is not vain.
Mr. Dempsey conversed with me frequently during our journey, and did not
seem to feel above me.
I opened the conversation by telling him that I had seen a number of his
works. Nothing pleases a young author so much as a little friendly remark
in relation to his work. I had seen a study of his one day in New York
last spring. It was an italic nose with quotation marks on each side.
It was a very happy little bon mot on Mr. Dempsey's part, and attracted a
good deal of notice at the time.
Mr. Dempsey is not a college graduate, as many suppose. He is a self-made
man. This should be a great encouragement to our boys who are now unknown,
and whose portraits have not as yet appeared in the sporting papers.
But Mr. Dempsey's great force as a debater is less, perhaps, in the matter
than in the manner. His delivery is good and his gestures cannot fail to
convince the most skeptical. Striking in appearance, aggressive in his
nature, and happy in his gestures, he is certain to attract the attention
of the police, and he cannot fail to rivet the eye of his adversary. I saw
one of his adversaries, not long ago, whose eye had been successfully
riveted in that way.
And yet, John E. Dempsey was once a poor boy. He had none of the
advantages which wealth and position bring. But, confident of his latent
ability as a middle-weight convincer, he toiled on, ever on, sitting up
until long after other people had gone to bed, patiently knocking out
those who might be brought to him for that purpose. He never hung back
because the way looked long and lonely. And what is the result? To-day, in
the full vigor of manhood, he is sought out and petted by everyone who
takes an interest in the onward march of pugilism.
It is a wonderful record, though brief. It shows what patient industry
will accomplish unaided. Had John E. Dempsey hesitated to enter the ring
and said that he would rather go to school, where he would be safe, he
might to-day be an educated man; but what does that amount to here in
America, where everybody can have an education? He would have lost his
talent as a slugger, and drifted steadily downward, perhaps, till he
became a school-teacher or a narrow-chested editor, writing things day
after day just to gratify the morbid curiosity of a sin-cursed world.
In closing, I would like to say that I hope I have not expressed an
opinion in the above that may hereafter be used against me. Do not
understand me to be the foe of education. Education and refinement are
good enough in their places, but how shall we attract attention by trying
to become refined and educated in a land where, as I say, education and
refinement seem almost to run rampant.
Heretofore, in America, pugilism has been made subservient to the common
schools. Pugilism and polygamy have both been crowded to the wall. Now
pugilism is about to assert itself. The tin ear and the gory nose will
soon come to the front, and the day is not far distant when progressive
pugilism and the prize-ring will take the place of the poorly ventilated
common school and the enervating prayer meeting.
The Snake Indian.
There are about 5,000 Snake or Shoshone Indians now extant, the greater
part being in Utah and Nevada, though there is a reservation in Idaho and
another in Wyoming.
The Shoshone Indian is reluctant to accept of civilization on the European
plan. He prefers the ruder customs which have been handed down from father
to son along with other hairlooms. I use the word hairlooms in its
There are the Shoshones proper and the Utes or Utahs, to which have been
added by some authorities the Comanches, and Moquis of New Mexico and
Arizona, the Netelas and other tribes of California. The Shoshone,
wherever found, is clothed in buckskin and blanket in winter, but dressed
more lightly in summer, wearing nothing but an air of intense gloom in
August. To this he adds on holidays a necklace made from the store teeth
of the hardy pioneer.
[Illustration: HOLIDAY COSTUME.]
The Snake or Shoshone Indian is passionately fond of the game known as
poker among us, and which, I learn, is played with cards. It is a game of
chance, though skill and a thorough knowledge of firearms are of great
use. The Indians enter into this game with great zeal, and lend to it the
wonderful energy which they have preserved from year to year by abstaining
from the debilitating effects of manual labor. All day long the red
warrior sits in his skin boudoir, nursing the sickly and reluctant
"flush," patient, silent and hopeful. Through the cold of winter in the
desolate mountains, he continues to
"Hope on, hope ever,"
that he will "draw to fill." Far away up the canyon he hears the sturdy
blows of his wife's tomahawk as she slaughters the grease wood and the
sage brush for the fire in his gilded hell where he sits and woos the lazy
Goddess of Fortune.
With the Shoshone, poker is not alone a relaxation, the game wherewith to
wear out a long and listless evening, but it is a passion, a duty and a
devotion. He has a face designed especially for poker. It never shows a
sign of good or evil fortune. You might as well try to win a smile from a
railroad right of way. The full hand, the fours, threes, pairs and
bob-tail flushes are all the same to him, if you judge by his face.
When he gets hungry he cinches himself a little tighter and continues to
"rastle" with fate. You look at his smoky, old copper cent of a face, and
you see no change. You watch him as he coins the last buckshot of his
tribe and later on when he goes forth a pauper, and the corners of his
famine-breeding mouth have never moved, His little black, smoke-inflamed
eyes have never lighted with triumph or joy. He is the great aboriginal
stoic and sylvan dude. He does not smile. He does not weep. It certainly
must be intensely pleasant to be a wild, free, lawless, irresponsible,
natural born fool.
[Illustration: GOING AWAY BROKE.]
The Shoshones proper include the Bannocks, which are again subdivided into
the Koolsitakara or Buffalo Eaters, on Wind River, the Tookarika or
Mountain Sheep Eaters, on Salmon or Suabe Eivers, the Shoshocas or White
Knives, sometimes called Diggers, of the Humbolt Eiver and the Great Salt
Lake basin. Probably the Hokandikahs, Yahooskins and the Wahlpapes are
subdivisions of the Digger tribe. I am 'not sure of this, but I shall not
suspend my business till I can find out about it. If I cannot get at a
great truth right off I wait patiently and go right on drawing my salary.
The Shoshones live on the government and other small game. They will eat
anything when hungry, from a buffalo down to a woodtick. The Shoshone does
not despise small things. He loves insects in any form. He loves to make
pets of them and to study their habits in his home life.
[Illustration: THE HOME CIRCLE.]
Formerly, when a great Shoshone warrior died, they killed his favorite
wife over his grave, so that she could go to the happy hunting grounds
with him, but it is not so customary now. I tried to impress on an old
Shoshone brave once that they ought not to do that. I tried to show him
that it would encourage celibacy and destroy domestic ties in his tribe.
Since then there has been quite a stride toward reform among them. Instead
of killing the widow on the death of the husband, the husband takes such
good care of his health and avoids all kinds of intellectual strain or
physical fatigue, that late years there are no widows, but widowers just
seem to swarm in the Shoshone tribe. The woods are full of them.
Now, if they would only kill the widower over the grave of the wife, the
Indian's future would assume a more definite shape.
I have once more tried to ride a pair of roller skates. That is the reason
I got down on the rink and down on roller skates. That is the reason
several people got down on me. That is also the reason why I now state in
a public manner, to a lost and undone race, that unless the roller-rink is
at once abolished, the whole civilized race will at once be plunged into
I had tried it once before, but had not carried my experiments to a
successful termination. I made a trip around the rink last August, but was
ruled out by the judges for incompetency, and advised to skate among the
people who were hostile to the government of the United States, while the
proprietors repaired the rink.
On the 9th of June I nestled in the bosom of a cyclone to excess, and it
has required the bulk of the succeeding months for nature to glue the bone
of my leg together in proper shape. That is the reason I have not given
the attention to roller-skating that I should.
A few weeks ago I read what Mr. Talmage said about the great national
vice. It was his opinion that, if we skated in a proper spirit, we could
leave the rink each evening with our immortal souls in good shape.
Somehow it got out that on Thursday evening I would undertake the feat of
skating three rounds in three hours with no protection to my scruples, for
one-half the gate money, Talmage rules. So there was quite a large
audience present with opera glasses. Some had umbrellas, especially on the
front rows. These were worn spread, in order to ward off fragments of the
rink which might become disengaged and set in motion by atmospheric
In obedience to a wild, Wagnerian snort from the orchestra, I came into
the arena with my skates in hand. I feel perfectly at home before an
audience when I have my skates in hand. It is a morbid desire to wear the
skates on my feet that has always been my _bete noire_. Will the office
boy please give me a brass check for that word so that I can get it when I
My first thought, after getting myself secured to the skates, was this:
"Am I in the proper frame of mind? Am I doing this in the right spirit? Am
I about to skate in such a way as to lift the fog of unbelief which now
envelopes a sinful world, or shall I deepen the opaque night in which my
race is wrapped?"
Just then that end of the rink erupted in a manner so forthwith and so
_tout ensemble_ that I had to push it back in place with my person. I
never saw anything done with less delay or less languor.
The audience went wild with enthusiasm, and I responded to the encore by
writing my name in the air with my skates.
This closed the first seance, and my trainer took me in the dressing-room
to attend a consultation of physicians. After the rink carpenter had
jacked up the floor a little I went out again. I had no fears about my
ability to perform the mechanical part assigned me, but I was still
worried over the question of whether it would or would not be of lasting
benefit to mankind.
Those who have closely scrutinized my frame in repose have admitted that I
am fearfully and wonderfully made. Students of the human frame say that
they never saw such a wealth of looseness and limberness lavished upon one
person. They claim that nature bestowed upon me the hinges and joints
intended for a whole family, and therefore when I skate the air seems to
be perfectly lurid with limbs. I presume that this is true; though I have
so little leisure while skating in which to observe the method itself, the
plot or animus of the thing, as it were, that my opinion would be of
little value to the scientist.
I am led to believe that the roller skate is certainly a great civilizer
and a wonderful leveler of mankind. If we so skate that when the summons
comes to seek our ward in the general hospital, where each shall heal his
busted cuticle within the walls where rinkists squirm, we go not like the
moral wreck, morally paralyzed, but like a hired man taking his medicine,
and so forth--we may skate with perfect impunity, or anyone else to whom
we may be properly introduced by our cook.
No More Frontier.
The system of building railroads into the wilderness, and then allowing
the wilderness to develop afterward, has knocked the essential joy out of
the life of the pioneer. At one time the hardy hewer of wood and drawer of
water gave his lifetime willingly that his son might ride in the
"varnished cars." Now the Pullman palace car takes the New Yorker to the
threshold of the sea, or to the boundary line between the United States
and the British possessions.
It has driven out the long handled frying pan and the flapjack of twenty
years ago, and introduced the condensed milk and canned fruit of commerce.
Along the highways, where once the hopeful hundreds marched with long
handled shovel and pick and pan, cooking by the way thin salt pork and
flapjacks and slumgullion, now the road is lined with empty beer bottles
and peach cans that have outlived their usefulness. No landscape can be
picturesque with an empty peach can in the foreground any more than a lion
would look grand in a red monogram horse blanket and false teeth.
The modern camp is not the camp of the wilderness. It wears the
half-civilized and shabby genteel garments of a sawed-off town. You know
that if you ride a day you will be where you can get the daily papers and
read them under the electric light. That robs the old canyons of their
solemn isolation and peoples each gulch with the odor of codfish balls and
civilization. Civilization is not to blame for all this, and yet it seems
Civilization could not have done all this alone. It had to call to its aid
the infernal fruit can that now desolates the most obscure trail in the
heart of the mountains. You walk over chaos where the "hydraulic" has
plowed up the valley like a convulsion, or you tread the yielding path
across the deserted dump, and on all sides the rusty, neglected and
humiliated empty tin can stares at you with its monotonous, dude-like
An old timer said to me once: "I've about decided, Bill, that the West is
a matter of history. When we cooked our grub over a sage brush fire we
could get fat and fight Indians, but now we fill our digesters with the
cold pizen and pewter of the canned peach; we go to a big tavern and stick
a towel under our chins and eat pie with a fork and heat up our carkisses
with antichrist coal, and what do we amount to? Nuthin! I used to chase
Injuns all day and eat raw salt pork at night, bekuz I dassent build a
fire, and still I felt better than I do now with a wad of tin-can solder
in my stummick and a homesick feeling in my weather-beaten breast.
"No, we don't have the fun we used to. We have more swarrees and sciatica
and one bloomin' thing and another of that kind, but we don't get one
snort of pure air and appetite in a year. They're bringin' in their blamed
telephones now and malaria and aigue and old sledge, and fun might as well
skip out. There ain't no frontier any more. All we've got left is the
old-fashioned trantler joos and rhumatiz of '49."
Behind the red squaw's cayuse plug,
The hand-car roars and raves,
And pie-plant pies are now produced
Above the Indian graves.
I hear the oaths of pioneers,
The caucus yet to be,
The first low hum where soon will
The fuzzy bumble bee.
A Letter of Regrets.
My dear Princess Beatrice--I received your kind invitation to come up to
Whippingham on the 23d inst. and see you married, but I have not been able
to get there. The weather has been so hot this month, that, to tell you
the truth, Beatrice, I haven't been going anywhere to speak of. At first I
thought I would go anyhow, and even went so far as to pick out a nice
corner bracket to take along for a wedding present. Not so much for its
intrinsic value, of course, but so you would have something with my name
to it on a card that you could show to those English dudes, and let them
know that you had influential friends, even in America. But when I thought
what a long, hard trip it would be, and how I would probably mash that
bracket on the cars before I got half way there, I gave it up.
I am not personally acquainted with your inamorato, if that's all right,
never having met him in our set; but I understand you have done well, and
that your husband is a rising young man of good family, and that he will
never allow you to put your hands into dishwater. I hope this is true and
that he does not drink. Rum has certainly paralyzed more dukes and such
things than war has. I attribute this to the fact that princes and dukes
are generally more reckless about exposing themselves to the demon rum
than to the rude alarums and one thing another of war.
If you keep a girl I hope you will get a good one who knows her business.
A green girl in the house of a newly-married princess is a great source of
annoyance. A friend of mine who got married last winter got a girl whose
mind had been eaten by cut-worms and she had not discovered it. All the
faculty that had been spared her was that power of the mind which enabled
her to charge $3 a week. She lubricated the buckwheat pancake griddle for
a week with soap grease and a dash of castor oil, and when she was
discharged she wept bitterly because capital with the iron heel ground the
poor servant girl into the dust.
Probably you will take a little tour after the wedding is over. They are
doing that way a good deal in Boston this season. I thought you would like
a pointer in the very lum-tumest thing to do, and so I write this. So long
as you have the means to do this thing right, I think you ought to do so.
You may never be married again, princess, and now is the time to paint the
British Isles red.
You can also get more concessions from your husband now, while he is a
little rattled, and temporarily knocked silly by the pomp and pageant of
marrying into your family, and if you work it right you can maintain this
supremacy for years. Treat him with a gentle firmness, and do not weep on
his bosom if you detect the aroma of beer and bologna sausage on his young
breath. Bologna and royalty do not seem to harmonize first-rate, but
remember you can harass your husband if you choose, so that he will fall
to even lower depths than bologna and Milwaukee beer. Do not aggravate him
when he comes home tired, but help him do the chores and greet him with a
I'd just as soon tell you, Beatrice, that this smile racket is not
original with me. I read it in a paper. This paper went on to say that a
young wife should always greet her husband with a smile on his return. I
showed the article to my wife and suggested that it was a good scheme, and
hoped she would try it on me sometime. She said if I would like to change
off awhile, and take my smile when I got home instead of taking it down
town, we would make the experiment. The trouble with the average woman of
the age in which we live, Beatrice, is that she is above her business. She
tries to be superior to her husband, and in many instances she succeeds.
That is the bane of wedded life. Do not strive to be superior to your
husband, Beatrice. If you do, it is good-bye, John.
Treat him well at all times, whether he treats you well or not; then when
your mother gets tired of reigning and wants to come down and spend the
hot weather with you, she will be kindly greeted by her son-in-law.
Do not allow the fact that you belong to the royal family to interfere
with your fun, Beatrice. If you want to wear a Mother Hubbard dress on the
throne during hot weather, or mash a mosquito with your mother's sceptre,
do so. Conventionality is a humbug and a nuisance, and I'd just as soon
tell you right here that if I could have gone to your wedding and worn a
linen coat and a perspiration, I would have gone; but to stand around
there all day in a tight black suit of clothes, in a mixed crowd of dukes,
and counts, and princes of high degree, most of whom are total strangers
to me, is more than I can stand.
I wish you would give my love to your mother and tell her just how it was.
Make it as smooth as you can and break it to her gently. Tell her that the
royal family is spreading out so that I can't leave my work every time one
of its members gets married. Remember me to the Waleses, the Darmstadts,
Princess Irene and Victoria, Mr. and Mrs. Prince Alexander of Bulgaria,
also Prince Francis of Battenberg and the Countess Erbach Schomberg. They
will all be there probably, and so will Lord Latham and Lord Edgcumbe. I
know just how Edgcumbe will snort around there when he finds that I can't
be there. Give my kind regards to any other lords, dukes, duchesses,
dowagers or marchionesses who may inquire for me, and tell them all that I
will be in London next year if the Prince of Wales will drop me a line
stating that the moral tone of the city is such that it would be safe for
me to come.
We arrived in Venice last evening, latitude 45 deg. 25 min, N., longitude
12 deg. 19 min. E.
Venice is the home of the Venetian, and also where the gondola has its
nest and rears its young. It is also the headquarters for the paint known
as Venetian red. They use it in painting the town on festive occasions.
This is the town where the Merchant of Venice used to do business, and the
home of Shylock, a broker, who sheared the Venetian lamb at the corner of
the Rialto and the Grand Canal. He is now no more. I couldn't even find an
old neighbor near the Rialto who remembered Shylock. From what I can learn
of him, however, I am led to believe that he was pretty close in his
deals, and liked to catch a man in a tight place and then make him squirm.
Shylock, during the great panic in Venice, many years ago, it is said, had
a chattel mortgage on more lives than you could shake a stick at. He would
loan a small amount to a merchant at three per cent, a month, and secure
it on a pound of the merchant's liver, or by a cut-throat mortgage on his
respiratory apparatus. Then, when the paper matured, he would go up to the
house with a pair of scales and a pie knife and demand a foreclosure.
Venice is one of the best watered towns in Europe. You can hardly walk a
block without getting your feet wet, unless you ride in a gondola.
The gondola is a long, slim hack without wheels and is worked around
through the damp streets by a brunette man whose breath should be a sad
framing to us all. He is called the gondolier. Sometimes he sings in a low
tone of voice and in a foreign tongue. I do not know where I have met so
many foreigners as I have here in Europe, unless it was in New York, at
the polls. Wherever I go, I hear a foreign tongue. I do not know whether
these people talk in the Italian language just to show off or not. Perhaps
they prefer it. London is the only place I have visited where the Boston
dialect is used. London was originally settled by adventurers from Boston.
The blood of some of the royal families of Massachusetts may be found in
the veins of London people.
Wealthy young ladies in Venice do not run away with the coachman. There
are no coaches, no coachmen and no horses in Venice. There are only four
horses in Venice and they are made of copper and exhibited at St Mark's as
The Accademia delle Belle Arti of Venice is a large picture store where I
went yesterday to buy a few pictures for Christmas presents. A painting by
Titian, the Italian Prang, pleased me very much, but I couldn't beat down
the price to where it would be any object for me to buy it. Besides, it
would be a nuisance to carry such a picture around with me all over the
Alps, up the Rhine and through St. Lawrence county. I finally decided to
leave it and secure something less awkward to carry and pay for.
The Italians are quite proud of their smoky old paintings. I have often
thought that if Venice would run less to art and more to soap, she would
be more apt to win my respect. Art is all right to a certain extent, but
it can be run in the ground. It breaks my heart to know how lavish nature
has been with water here, and yet how the Venetians scorn to investigate
its benefits. When a gondolier gets a drop of water on him, he swoons.
Then he lies in a kind of coma till another gondolier comes along to
breathe in his face and revive him.
She Kind of Coaxed Him.
I never practiced law very much, but during the brief period that my
sheet-iron sign was kissed by the Washoe zephyr, I had several odd
experiences. I'm sure that lawyers who practice for forty years,
especially on the frontier or in a new country, could write a large book
that would make mighty interesting reading.
One day I was figuring up how much a man could save in ten years, paying
forty dollars a month rent, and taking in two dollars and fifty cents per
month, when a large man with a sad eye and an early purple tumor on the
side of his head, came in and asked me if my name was Nye. I told him it
was and asked him to take a chair and spit on the stove a few times, and
make himself entirely at home.
He did so.
After answering in a loud, tremulous tone of voice that we were having
rather a backward spring, he produced a red cotton handkerchief and took
out of it a deed which he submitted to my ripe and logical legal mind.
I asked him if that was his name that appeared in the body of the deed as
grantor. He said it was. I then asked him why his wife had not signed it,
as it seemed to be the homestead, and her name appeared in the instrument
with that of her husband, but her signature wasn't at the foot, though his
name was duly signed, witnessed and acknowledged.
"Well," said he, "there's where the gazelle comes in." He then took a bite
off the corner of a plug of tobacco about as big as a railroad land grant,
and laid two twenty dollar gold pieces on the desk near my arm. I took
them and tapped them together like the cashier of the Bank of England,
and, disguising my annoyance over the little episode, told him to go on.
"Well," said the large man, fondling the wen which nestled lovingly in his
faded Titian hair, "my wife has conscientious scruples against signing
that deed. We have been married about a year now, but not actively for the
past eleven months. I'm kind of _ex-officio_ husband, as you might say.
After we'd been married about a month a little incident occurred which
made a riffle, as you might say, in our domestic tide. I was division
master on the U.P., and one night I got an order to go down towards
Sidney and look at a bridge. Of course I couldn't get back till the next
evening. So I sighed and switched off to the superintendent's office,
expecting to go over on No. 4 and look at the bridge. At the office they
told me that I needn't go till Tuesday, so I strolled up town and got home
about nine o'clock, went in with a latch key, just as a mutual friend went
out through the bed-room window, taking a sash that I paid two dollars
for. I didn't care for the sash, because he left a pair of pantaloons
worth twelve dollars and some silver in the pockets, but I thought it was
such odd taste for a man to wear a sash without his uniform.
"Well, as I had documentary evidence against my wife, I told her she could
take a vacation. She cried a good deal, but it didn't count I suffered a
good deal, but tears did not avail. It takes a good deal of damp weather
to float me out of my regular channel. She spent the night packing her
trousseau, and in the morning she went away. Now, I could get a divorce and
save all this trouble of getting her signature, but I'd rather not tell
this whole business in court, for the little woman seems to be trying to
do better, and if it wasn't for her blamed old hyena of a mother, would
get along tip-top. She's living with her mother now and if a lawyer would
go to the girl and tell her how it is, and that I want to sell the
property and want her signature, in place of getting a divorce, I believe
she'd sign. Would you mind trying it?"
I said if I could get time I would go over and talk with her and see what
she said. So I did. I got along pretty well, too. I found the young woman
at home, and told her the legal aspects of the case. She wouldn't admit
any of the charges, but after a long parley agreed to execute the deed and
save trouble. She came to my office an hour later, and signed the
instrument I got two witnesses to the signature and had just put the
notarial seal on it when the girl's mother came in. She asked her daughter
if she had signed the deed and was told that she had. She said nothing,
but smiled in a way that made my blood run cold. If a woman were to smile
on me that way every day, I should certainly commit some great crime.
I was just congratulating myself on the success of the business, and was
looking at the two $20 gold pieces and trying to get acquainted with them,
as it were, after the two women had gone away; when they returned with the
husband and son-in-law at the head of the procession. He looked pale and
careworn to me. He asked me in a low voice if I had a deed there, executed
by his wife. I said yes. He then asked me if I would kindly destroy it. I
said I would. I would make deeds and tear them up all day at $40 apiece. I
said I liked the conveyancing business very much, and if a client felt
like having a grand, warranty deed debauch, I was there to furnish the raw
I then tore up the deed and the two women went quietly away. After they
had gone, my client, in an absent-minded way, took out a large quid that
had outlived its usefulness, laid it tenderly on the open page of Estey's
Pleadings, and said:
"You doubtless think I am a singular organization, and that my ways are
past finding out. I wish to ask you if I did right a moment ago?" Here he
took out another $20 and put it under the paper weight. "When I went down
stairs I met my mother-in-law. She always looked to me like a firm woman,
but I did not think she was so unswerving as she really was. She asked me
in a low, musical voice to please destroy the deed, and then she took one
of them Smith & Wesson automatic advance agents of death out from under
her apron and kind of wheedled me into saying I would. Now, did I do