Moments with Mark Twain by Twain, Mark
MOMENTS WITH MARK TWAIN ❖
[Illustration: Copyright, 1907, by Underwood & Underwood]
Moments With MARK TWAIN
_Selected by_ ❦ ❦ ❦ ALBERT BIGELOW PAINE
Harper & Brothers Publishers New York and London
MOMENTS WITH MARK TWAIN
Copyright, 1920, by The Mark Twain Company Printed in the United States of America Published March, 1920
CHAP. PAGE I. _From_ “SKETCHES NEW AND OLD” 1
II. _From_ “THE INNOCENTS ABROAD” 7
III. _From_ “ROUGHING IT” 58
IV. _From_ “THE GILDED AGE” 101
V. _From_ “ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER” 113
VI. _From_ “THE STOLEN WHITE ELEPHANT” 129
VII. _From_ “A TRAMP ABROAD” 131
VIII. _From_ “LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI” 155
IX. _From_ “THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER” 182
X. _From_ “THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN” 199
XI. _From_ “A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT” 223
XII. _From_ “RAMBLING NOTES OF AN IDLE EXCURSION” 244
XIII. _From_ “PUDD’NHEAD WILSON’S CALENDAR” 247
XIV. _From_ “THE PRIVATE HISTORY OF A CAMPAIGN THAT FAILED” 254
XV. _From_ “THE PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF JOAN OF ARC” 261
XVI. _From_ “SAINT JOAN OF ARC” 272
XVII. _From_ “FOLLOWING THE EQUATOR” 273
XVIII. _From_ “CONCERNING THE JEWS” 283
XIX. _From_ “CHRISTIAN SCIENCE” 285
XX. _From_ “ITALIAN WITHOUT A MASTER” 288
XXI. _From_ “EVE’S DIARY” 290
XXII. MISCELLANEOUS 291
XXIII. _From_ “THE DEATH OF JEAN” 298
XXIV. _From_ ONE OF HIS LATEST MEMORANDA 299
Beginning his preface to the “Uniform Edition” of his works, Mark Twain wrote:
“So far as I remember, I have never seen an Author’s Preface which had any purpose but one—to furnish reasons for the publication of the book. Prefaces wear many disguises, call themselves by various names, and pretend to come on various businesses, but I think that upon examination we are quite sure to find that their errand is always the same: they are there to apologize for the book; in other words, furnish reasons for its publication. This often insures brevity.”
Accepting the above as gospel (as necessarily we must, in this book,) one is only required here to furnish a few more or less plausible excuses for its existence. Very well, then, we can think of two:
First: To prove to those who have read Mark Twain sparingly, or know him mainly from hearsay, that he was something more than a mere fun-maker.
Second: To provide for those who have read largely of his work something of its essence, as it were—put up in a form which may be found convenient when one has not time, or inclination, to search the volumes.
These are the excuses—now, an added word as to method: The examples have been arranged chronologically, so that the reader, following them in order, may note the author’s evolution—the development of his humor, his observation, his philosophy and his literary style. They have been selected with some care, in the hope that those who know the author best may consider him fairly represented.
Feeling now that this little volume is sufficiently explained, the compiler begs to offer it, without further extenuation, to all who do honor to the memory of our foremost laughing philosopher.
MOMENTS WITH MARK TWAIN ❖
_FROM_ “SKETCHES NEW AND OLD” (1865–67)
ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS
“Moral Statistician.”—I don’t want any of your statistics; I took your whole batch and lit my pipe with it. I hate your kind of people. You are always ciphering out how much a man’s health is injured, and how much his intellect is impaired, and how many pitiful dollars and cents he wastes in the course of ninety-two years’ indulgence in the fatal practice of smoking; and in the equally fatal practice of drinking coffee; and in playing billiards occasionally; and in taking a glass of wine at dinner, etc., etc., etc. And you are always figuring out how many women have been burned to death because of the dangerous fashion of wearing expansive hoops, etc., etc., etc. You never see more than one side of the question. You are blind to the fact that most old men in America smoke, and drink coffee, although, according to your theory, they ought to have died young; and that hearty old Englishmen drink wine and survive it, and portly old Dutchmen both drink and smoke freely, and yet grow older and fatter all the time. And you never try to find out how much solid comfort, relaxation, and enjoyment a man derives from smoking in the course of a lifetime (which is worth ten times the money he would save by letting it alone), nor the appalling aggregate of happiness lost in a lifetime by your kind of people from _not_ smoking. Of course you can save money by denying yourself all those little vicious enjoyments for fifty years; but then what can you do with it? What use can you put it to? Money can’t save your infinitesimal soul. All the use that money can be put to is to purchase comfort and enjoyment in this life; therefore, as you are an enemy to comfort and enjoyment, where is the use of accumulating cash? It won’t do for you to say that you can use it to better purpose in furnishing a good table, and in charities, and in supporting tract societies, because you know yourself that you people who have no petty vices are never known to give away a cent, and that you stint yourselves so in the matter of food that you are always feeble and hungry. And you never dare to laugh in the daytime for fear some poor wretch, seeing you in a good humor, will try to borrow a dollar of you; and in church you are always down on your knees, with your eyes buried in the cushion, when the contribution box comes around; and you never give the revenue officers a full statement of your income. Now you know all these things yourself, don’t you? Very well, then, what is the use of your stringing out your miserable lives to a lean and withered old age? What is the use of your saving money that is so utterly worthless to you? In a word, why don’t you go off somewhere and die, and not be always trying to seduce people into becoming as “ornery” and unloveable as you are yourselves, by your villainous “moral statistics”? Now I don’t approve of dissipation, and I don’t indulge in it, either; but I haven’t a particle of confidence in a man who has no redeeming petty vices, and so I don’t want to hear from you any more. I think you are the very same man who read me a long lecture last week about the degrading vice of smoking cigars, and then came back, in my absence, with your reprehensible fireproof gloves on, and carried off my beautiful parlor stove.
“Young Author.”—Yes, Agassiz _does_ recommend authors to eat fish, because the phosphorus in it makes brain. So far you are correct. But I cannot help you to a decision about the amount you need to eat—at least, not with certainty. If the specimen composition you send is about your fair usual average, I should judge that perhaps a couple of whales would be all you would want for the present. Not the largest kind, but simply good, middling-sized whales.
HOW I EDITED AN AGRICULTURAL PAPER
In about half an hour an old gentleman, with a flowing beard and a fine but rather austere face, entered, and sat down at my invitation. He seemed to have something on his mind. He took off his hat and set it on the floor, and got out of it a red silk handkerchief and a copy of our paper.
He put the paper on his lap, and while he polished his spectacles with his handkerchief, he said, “Are you the new editor?”
I said I was.
“Have you ever edited an agricultural paper before?”
“No,” I said; “this is my first attempt.”
“Very likely. Have you had any experience in agriculture, practically?”
“No; I believe I have not.”
“Some instinct told me,” said the old gentleman, putting on his spectacles and looking over them at me with asperity, while he folded his paper into a convenient shape. “I wish to read you what must have made me have that instinct. It was this editorial. Listen, and see if it was you that wrote it:
“Turnips should never be pulled, it injures them. It is much better to send a boy up and let him shake the tree.”
“Now, what do you think of that?—for I really suppose you wrote it?”
“Think of it? Why, I think it is good. I think it is sense. I have no doubt that every year millions and millions of bushels of turnips are spoiled in this township alone by being pulled in a half-ripe condition, when, if they had sent a boy up to shake the tree——”
“Shake your grandmother! Turnips don’t grow on trees!”
“Oh, they don’t don’t they? Well, who said they did? The language was intended to be figurative, wholly figurative. Anybody that knows anything will know that I meant that the boy should shake the vine.”
Then this old person got up and tore his paper all into small shreds, and stamped on them, and broke several things with his cane, and said I did not know as much as a cow; and then went out and banged the door after him, and, in short, acted in such a way that I fancied he was displeased about something. But not knowing what the trouble was, I could not be any help to him.
_FROM_ “THE INNOCENTS ABROAD” (1867–68)
ON KEEPING A JOURNAL
At certain periods it becomes the dearest ambition of a man to keep a faithful record of his performances, in a book; and he dashes at his work with an enthusiasm that imposes on him the notion that keeping a journal is the veriest pastime in the world, and the pleasantest. But if he only lives twenty-one days, he will find out that only those rare natures that are made up of pluck, endurance, devotion to duty for duty’s sake, and invincible determination, may hope to venture upon so tremendous an enterprise as the keeping of a journal and not sustain a shameful defeat.... If you wish to inflict a heartless and malignant punishment upon a young person, pledge him to keep a journal a year.
THE “QUAKER CITY” IN A STORM
And the last night of the seven was the stormiest of all. There was no thunder, no noise but the pounding bows of the ship, the keen whistling of the gale through the cordage, and the rush of the seething waters. But the vessel climbed aloft as if she would climb to heaven—then paused an instant that seemed a century, and plunged headlong down again, as from a precipice. The sheeted sprays drenched the decks like rain. The blackness of darkness was everywhere. At long intervals a flash of lightning clove it with a quivering line of fire, that revealed a heaving world of water where was nothing before, kindled the dusky cordage to glittering silver, and lit up the faces of the men with a ghastly lustre!
Fear drove many on deck that were used to avoiding the night winds and the spray. Some thought the vessel could not live through the night, and it seemed less dreadful to stand out in the midst of the wild tempest and _see_ the peril that threatened than to be shut up in the sepulchral cabins, under the dim lamps, and imagine the horrors that were abroad on the ocean. And once out—once where they could see the ship struggling in the strong grasp of the storm—once where they could hear the shriek of the winds, and face the driving spray and look out upon the majestic picture the lightnings disclosed, they were prisoners to a fierce fascination they could not resist, and so remained. It was a wild night—and a very, very long one.
THE BEAUTIFUL STRANGER
While we stood admiring the cloud-capped peaks and the lowlands robed in misty gloom, a finer picture burst upon us and chained every eye like a magnet—a stately ship, with canvas piled on canvas till she was one towering mass of bellying sail. She came speeding over the sea like a great bird. Africa and Spain were forgotten. All homage was for the beautiful stranger. While everybody gazed, she swept superbly by and flung the Stars and Stripes to the breeze! Quicker than thought hats and handkerchiefs flashed in the air, and a cheer went up! She was beautiful before—she was radiant now. Many a one on her decks knew then for the first time how tame a sight his country’s flag is at home compared with what it is in a foreign land. To see it is to see a vision of home itself and all its idols, and feel a thrill that would stir a very river of sluggish blood!
What a funny old town it is! It seems like profanation to laugh and jest and bandy the frivolous chat of our day amid its hoary relics. Only the stately phraseology and the measured speech of the sons of the Prophet are suited to a venerable antiquity like this. Here is a crumbling wall that was old when Columbus discovered America; was old when Peter the Hermit roused the knightly men of the Middle Ages to arm for the first Crusade; was old when Charlemagne and his paladins beleaguered enchanted castles and battled with giants and genii in the fabled days of the olden time; was old when Christ and his disciples walked the earth; stood where it stands to-day when the lips of Memnon were vocal, and men bought and sold in the streets of ancient Thebes!
I will conclude this chapter with a remark that I am sincerely proud to be able to make—and glad, as well, that my comrades cordially indorse it, to wit: by far the handsomest women we have seen in France were born and reared in America.
I feel, now, like a man who has redeemed a failing reputation and shed luster upon a dimmed escutcheon, by a single just deed done at the eleventh hour.
Let the curtain fall, to slow music.
AN EARLY MEMORY
It is hard to forget repulsive things. I remember yet how I ran off from school once when I was a boy, and then, pretty late at night, concluded to climb into the window of my father’s office and sleep on a lounge, because I had a delicacy about going home and getting thrashed. As I lay on the lounge and my eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, I fancied I could see a long, dusky, shapeless thing stretched upon the floor. A cold shiver went through me. I turned my face to the wall. That did not answer. I was afraid that the thing would creep over and seize me in the dark. I turned back and stared at it for minutes and minutes—they seemed hours. It appeared to me that the lagging moonlight never, never would get to it. I turned to the wall and counted twenty, to pass the feverish time away. I looked—the pale square was nearer. I turned again and counted fifty—it was almost touching it. With desperate will I turned again and counted one hundred, and faced about, all in a tremble. A white human hand lay in the moonlight! Such an awful sinking at the heart—such a sudden gasp for breath. I felt—I cannot tell _what_ I felt. When I recovered strength enough, I faced the wall again. But no boy could have remained so, with that mysterious hand behind him. I counted again, and looked—the most of a naked arm was exposed. I put my hands over my eyes and counted until I could stand it no longer, and then—the pallid face of a man was there, with the corners of the mouth drawn down, and the eyes fixed and glassy in death! I raised to a sitting posture and glowered on the corpse till the light crept down the bare breast,—line by line—inch by inch—past the nipple,—and then it disclosed a ghastly stab!
I went away from there. I do not say that I went away in any sort of a hurry, but I simply went——that is sufficient. I went out at the window, and I carried the sash along with me. I did not need the sash, but it was handier to take it than it was to leave it, and so I took it. I was not scared, but I was considerably agitated.
When I reached home, they whipped me, but I enjoyed it. It seemed perfectly delightful. That man had been stabbed near the office that afternoon, and they carried him in there to doctor him, but he only lived an hour. I have slept in the same room with him often, since then—in my dreams.
AT THE AMBROSIAN LIBRARY
We saw a manuscript of Virgil, with annotations in the handwriting of Petrarch, the gentleman who loved another man’s Laura, and lavished upon her all through life a love which was a clear waste of the raw material. It was sound sentiment, but bad judgment. It brought both parties fame, and created a fountain of commiseration for them in sentimental breasts that is running yet. But who says a word in behalf of poor Mr. Laura? (I do not know his other name.) Who glorifies him? Who bedews him with tears? Who writes poetry about him? Nobody. How do you suppose _he_ liked the state of things that has given the world so much pleasure?... Let the world go on fretting about Laura and Petrarch if it will; but as for me, my tears and my lamentations shall be lavished upon the unsung defendant.
We saw also an autograph letter of Lucrezia Borgia, a lady for whom I have always entertained the highest respect, on account of her rare histrionic capabilities, her opulence in solid gold goblets made of gilded wood, her high distinction as an operatic screamer, and the facility with which she could order a sextuple funeral and get the corpses ready for it. We saw one single coarse yellow hair from Lucrezia’s head, likewise. It awoke emotions, but we still live. In this same library we saw some drawings by Michael Angelo (these Italians call him Mickel Angelo), and Leonardo da Vinci. (They spell it Vinci and pronounce it Vinchy; foreigners always spell better than they pronounce.) We reserve our opinion of these sketches.
OUR NEED OF REPOSE
Just in this one matter lies the main charm of life in Europe—comfort. In America, we hurry—which is well; but when the day’s work is done, we go on thinking of losses and gains, we plan for the morrow, we even carry our business cares to bed with us, and toss and worry over them when we ought to be restoring our racked bodies and brains with sleep. We burn up our energies with these excitements, and either die early or drop into a lean and mean old age at a time of life which they call a man’s prime in Europe. When an acre of ground has produced long and well, we let it lie fallow and rest for a season; we take no man clear across the continent in the same coach he started in—the coach is stabled somewhere on the plains and its heated machinery allowed to cool for a few days; when a razor has seen long service and refuses to hold an edge, the barber lays it away for a few weeks, and the edge comes back of its own accord. We bestow thoughtful care upon inanimate objects, but none upon ourselves. What a robust people, what a nation of thinkers we might be, if we would only lay ourselves on the shelf occasionally, and renew our edges!
I do envy these Europeans the comfort they take. When the work of the day is done, they forget it.
It was a long, long ride. But toward evening, as we sat silent and hardly conscious of where we were—subdued into that meditative calm that comes so surely after a conversational storm—some one shouted:
And sure enough, afloat on the placid sea a league away, lay a great city with its towers and domes and steeples drowsing in a golden midst of sunset.
The venerable Mother of the Republics is scarce a fit subject for flippant speech or the idle gossiping of tourists. It seems a sort of sacrilege to disturb the glamour of old romance that pictures her to us softly from afar off as through a tinted mist, and curtains her ruin and her desolation from our view. One ought, indeed, to turn away from her rags, her poverty, and her humiliation, and think of her only as she was when she sunk the fleets of Charlemagne; when she humbled Frederick Barbarossa or waved her victorious banners above the battlements of Constantinople.
There was music everywhere—choruses, string bands, brass bands, flutes, everything. I was so surrounded, walled in with music, magnificence, and loveliness, that I became inspired with the spirit of the scene, and sang one tune myself. However, when I observed that the other gondolas had sailed away, and my gondolier was preparing to go overboard, I stopped.
In the glare of the day, there is little poetry about Venice, but under the charitable moon her stained palaces are white again, their battered sculptures are hidden in shadows, and the old city seems crowned once more with the grandeur that was hers five hundred years ago. It is easy, then, in fancy, to people these silent canals with plumed gallants and fair ladies—with Shylocks in gaberdine and sandals, venturing loans upon the rich argosies of Venetian commerce—with Othellos and Desdemonas, with Iagos and Roderigos—with noble fleets and victorious legions returning from the wars. In the treacherous sunlight we see Venice decayed, forlorn, poverty-stricken, and commerceless—forgotten and utterly insignificant. But in the moonlight, her fourteen centuries of greatness fling their glories about her, and once more is she the princeliest among the nations of the earth.
Yes, I think we have seen all Venice. We have seen in these old churches a profusion of costly and elaborate sepulchre ornamentation such as we never dreamt of before. We have stood in the dim religious light of these hoary sanctuaries, in the midst of long ranks of dusty monuments and effigies of the great dead of Venice, until we seemed drifting back, back, back, into the solemn past, and looking upon the scenes and mingling with the people of a remote antiquity. We have been in a half-waking sort of a dream all the time. I do not know how else to describe the feeling. A part of our being has remained still in the nineteenth century, while another part of it has seemed in some unaccountable way walking among the phantoms of the tenth.
We have seen famous pictures until our eyes are weary with looking at them and refuse to find interest in them any longer.... We have striven hard to learn. We have had some success. We have mastered some things, possibly of trifling import in the eyes of the learned, but to us they give pleasure, and we take as much pride in our little acquirements as do others who have learned far more, and we love to display them full as well. When we see a monk going about with a lion and looking tranquilly up to heaven, we know that that is St. Mark. When we see a monk with a book and a pen, looking tranquilly up to heaven, trying to think of a word, we know that that is St. Matthew. When we see a monk sitting on a rock, looking tranquilly up to heaven, with a human skull beside him, and without other baggage, we know that that is St. Jerome. Because we know that he always went flying light in the matter of baggage. When we see a party looking tranquilly up to heaven, unconscious that his body is shot through and through with arrows, we know that that is St. Sebastian. When we see other monks looking tranquilly up to heaven, but having no trademark, we always ask who those parties are. We do this because we humbly wish to learn....
And so, having satisfied ourselves, we depart to-morrow, and leave the venerable Queen of the Republics to summon her vanished ships, and marshal her shadowy armies, and know again in dreams the pride of her old renown.
The Baptistery, which is a few years older than the Leaning Tower, is a stately rotunda of huge dimensions, and was a costly structure. In it hangs the lamp whose measured swing suggested to Galileo the pendulum. It looked an insignificant thing to have conferred upon the world of science and mechanics such a mighty extension of their dominions as it has. Pondering, in its suggestive presence, I seemed to see a crazy universe of swinging disks, the toiling children of this sedate parent. He appeared to have an intelligent expression about him of knowing that he was not a lamp at all; that he was a Pendulum; a pendulum disguised, for prodigious and inscrutable purposes of his own deep devising, and not a common pendulum either, but the old original patriarchal Pendulum—the Abraham Pendulum of the world.
How times have changed, between the older ages and the new! Some seventeen or eighteen centuries ago, the ignorant men of Rome were wont to put Christians in the arena of the Coliseum yonder, and turn the wild beasts in upon them, for show. It was for a lesson as well. It was to teach the people to abhor and fear the new doctrine the followers of Christ were teaching. The beasts tore the victims limb from limb and made poor mangled corpses of them in the twinkling of an eye. But when the Christians came into power, when the holy Mother Church became mistress of the barbarians, she taught them the error of their ways by no such means. No, she put them in this pleasant Inquisition and pointed to the Blessed Redeemer, who was so gentle and so merciful toward all men, and they urged the barbarians to love him; and they did all they could to persuade them to love and honor him—first by twisting their thumbs out of joint with a screw; then by nipping their flesh with pincers—red-hot ones, because they are the most comfortable in cold weather; then by skinning them alive a little, and finally by roasting them in public. They always convinced those barbarians. The true religion, properly administered, as the good Mother Church used to administer it, is very, very soothing. It is wonderfully persuasive also. There is a great difference between feeding parties to wild beasts and stirring up their finer feelings in an Inquisition. One is the system of degraded barbarians, the other of enlightened civilized people. It is a great pity the playful Inquisition is no more.
TAKING IT OUT OF THE GUIDES
I never felt so fervently thankful, so soothed, so tranquil, so filled with a blessed peace, as I did yesterday when I learned that Michael Angelo was dead.
But we have taken it out of this guide. He has marched us through miles of pictures and sculpture in the vast corridors of the Vatican; and through miles of pictures and sculpture in twenty other palaces; he has shown us the great picture in the Sistine Chapel, and frescoes enough to fresco the heavens—pretty much all done by Michael Angelo. So with him we have played that game which has vanquished so many guides for us—imbecility and idiotic questions. These creatures never suspect—they have no idea of a sarcasm.
He shows us a figure and says: “Statoo brunzo.” (Bronze statue).
We look at it indifferently and the doctor asks: “By Michael Angelo?”
“No—not know who.”
Then he shows us the ancient Roman Forum. The doctor asks: “Michael Angelo?”
A stare from the guide. “No—a thousan’ year before he is born.”
Then an Egyptian obelisk. Again: “Michael Angelo?”
“Oh, mon dieu, genteelman! Zis is TWO thousan’ year before he is born.”
He grows so tired of that unceasing question sometimes, that he dreads to show us anything at all. The wretch has tried all the ways he can think of to make us comprehend that Michael Angelo is only responsible for the creation of a _part_ of the world, but somehow he has not succeeded yet. Relief for overtasked eyes and brain from study and sightseeing is necessary, or we shall become idiotic, sure enough. Therefore this guide must continue to suffer. If he does not enjoy it, so much the worse for him. We do.
In this place I might as well jot down a chapter concerning those necessary nuisances, European guides. Many a man has wished in his heart he could do without his guide; but knowing he could not, has wished he could get some amusement out of him as a remuneration for the affliction of his society. We accomplished this latter matter, and if our experience can be made useful to others they are welcome to it.
Guides know about enough English to tangle everything up so that a man can make neither head nor tail of it. They know their story by heart—the history of every statue, painting, cathedral, or other wonder they show you. They know it and tell it as a parrot would—and if you interrupt, and throw them off the track, they have to go back and begin over again. All their lives long, they are employed in showing strange things to foreigners and listening to their bursts of admiration. It is human nature to take delight in exciting admiration. It is what prompts children to say “smart” things, and to do absurd ones, and in other ways “show off” when company is present. It is what makes gossips turn out in rain and storm to go and be the first to tell a startling bit of news. Think, then, what a passion it becomes with a guide, whose privilege it is, every day, to show to strangers wonders that throw them into perfect ecstasies of admiration! He gets so that he could not by any possibility live in a soberer atmosphere. After we discovered this, we _never_ went into ecstasies any more—we never admired anything—we never showed any but impassible faces and stupid indifference in the presence of the sublimest wonders a guide had to display. We had found their weak point. We have made good use of it ever since. We have made some of those people savage, at times, but we have never lost our own serenity.
The doctor asks the questions, generally, because he can keep his countenance, and look more like an inspired idiot, and throw more imbecility into the tone of his voice than any man that lives. It comes natural to him.
The guides in Genoa are delighted to secure an American party, because Americans have so much wonder, and deal so much in sentiment and emotion before any relic of Columbus. Our guide there fidgeted about as if he had swallowed a spring mattress. He was full of animation—full of impatience. He said:
“Come wis me, genteelmen!—come! I show you ze letter writing by Christopher Colombo! write it himself!—write it wis his own hand!—come!”
He took us to the municipal palace. After much impressive fumbling of keys and opening of locks, the stained and aged document was spread before us. The guide’s eyes sparkled. He danced about us and tapped the parchment with his finger:
“What I tell you, genteelmen! Is it not so? See! handwriting Christopher Colombo!—write it himself!”
We looked indifferent—unconcerned. The doctor examined the document very deliberately, during a painful pause. Then he said, without any show of interest:
“Ah—Ferguson—what—what did you say was the name of the party who wrote this?”
“Christopher Colombo! ze great Christopher Colombo.”
Another deliberate examination.
“Ah—did he write it himself, or—or how?”
“He write it himself!—Christopher Colombo! he’s own handwriting, write by himself!”
Then the doctor laid the document down and said:
“Why, I have seen boys in America only fourteen years old that could write better than that.”
“But zis is ze great Christo——”
“I don’t care who it is! It’s the worst writing I ever saw. Now you mustn’t think you can impose on us because we are strangers. We are not fools, by a good deal. If you have got any specimens of penmanship of real merit, trot them out!—and if you haven’t, drive on!”
We drove on. The guide was considerably shaken up, but he made one more venture. He had something which he thought would overcome us. He said:
“Ah, genteelmen, you come wis me! I show you beautiful, oh, magnificent bust Christopher Colombo!—splendid, grand, magnificent!”
He brought us before the beautiful bust—for it _was_ beautiful—and sprang back and struck an attitude:
“Ah, look, genteelmen!—beautiful, grand,—bust Christopher Colombo!—Beautiful bust, beautiful pedestal!”
The doctor put up his eyeglass—procured for such occasions:
“Ah—what did you say this gentleman’s name was?”
“Christopher Colombo! ze great Christopher Colombo!”
“Christopher Colombo—the great Christopher Colombo. Well what did _he_ do?”
“Discover America!—discover America, oh, ze devil!”
“Discover America. No—that statement will hardly wash. We are just from America ourselves. We heard nothing about it. Christopher Colombo—pleasant name—is—is he dead?”
“Oh, corpo di Baccho!—three hundred year!”
“What did he die of?”
“I do not know!—I cannot tell.”
“I do not know, genteelmen!—I do not know _what_ he die of!”
“Maybe—maybe—I do not know—I think he die of somethings.”
“Ah—which is the bust and which is the pedestal?”
“Santa Maria!—_zis_ ze bust!—_zis_ ze pedestal!”
“Ah, I see, I see—happy combination—very happy combination, indeed. Is—is this the first time this gentleman was ever on a bust?”
That joke was lost on the foreigner—guides cannot master subtleties of the American joke.
We have made it interesting for this Roman guide. Yesterday we spent three or four hours in the Vatican again, that wonderful world of curiosities. We came very near expressing interest, sometimes—even admiration—it was very hard to keep from it. We succeeded though. Nobody else ever did, in the Vatican museums. The guide was bewildered—nonplussed. He walked his legs off, nearly, hunting up extraordinary things, and exhausted all his ingenuity on us, but it was a failure; we never showed any interest in anything. He had reserved what he considered to be his greatest wonder till the last—a royal Egyptian mummy; the best-preserved in the world, perhaps. He took us there. He felt so sure, this time, that some of his old enthusiasm came back to him:
“See, genteelmen!—Mummy! Mummy!”
The eyeglass came up as calmly, as deliberately as ever.
“Ah,—Ferguson—what did I understand you to say the gentleman’s name was?”
“Name?—he got no name! Mummy!—’Gyptian mummy!”
“Yes, yes. Born here?”
“No! _’Gyptian_ mummy!”
“Ah, just so. Frenchman, I presume?”
“No!—_Not_ Frenchman, not Roman!—born in Egypta!”
“Born in Egypta. Never heard of Egypta before. Foreign locality, likely. Mummy—mummy. How calm he is—how self-possessed. Is, ah—is he dead?”
“Oh, SACRE BLEU, been dead three thousan’ year!”
The doctor turned on him savagely:
“Here, now, what do you mean by such conduct as this! Playing us for Chinamen because we are strangers and trying to learn. Trying to impose your vile second-hand carcasses on _us_!—thunder and lightning, I’ve a notion to—to—if you’ve got a nice _fresh_ corpse, fetch him out!—or, by George, we’ll brain you!”
We make it exceedingly interesting for this Frenchman. However, he has paid us back, partly, without knowing it. He came to the hotel this morning to ask if we were up, and he endeavored as well as he could to describe us, so that the landlord would know which persons he meant. He finished with the casual remark that we were lunatics. The observation was so innocent and so honest that it amounted to a very good thing for a guide to say.
There is one remark (already mentioned) which never yet has failed to disgust these guides. We use it always, when we can think of nothing else to say. After they have exhausted their enthusiasm pointing out to us and praising the beauties of some ancient bronze image or broken-legged statue, we look at it stupidly and in silence for five, ten, fifteen minutes—as long as we can hold out, in fact—and then ask:
“Is—is he dead?”
A SURFEIT OF ART
When I was a schoolboy and was to have a new knife, I could not make up my mind as to which was the prettiest in the showcase, and I did not think any of them were particularly pretty; and so I chose with a heavy heart. But when I looked at my purchase, at home, where no glittering blades came into composition with it, I was astonished to see how handsome it was. To this day my new hats look better out of the shop than they did in it, with other new hats. It begins to dawn upon me now, that possibly, what I have been taking for uniform ugliness in the galleries may be uniform beauty, after all. I honestly hope it is, to others, but certainly it is not to me. Perhaps the reason I used to enjoy going to the Academy of Fine Arts in New York was because there were but a few hundred paintings in it, and it did not surfeit me to go through the list. I suppose the Academy was bacon and beans in the Forty-Mile Desert, and a European gallery is a state dinner of thirteen courses. One leaves no sign after him of the one dish, but the thirteen frighten away his appetite and give him no satisfaction.
There is one thing I am certain of, though. With all the Michael Angelos, the Raphaels, the Guidos, and the other old masters, the sublime history of Rome remains unpainted! They painted Virgins enough, and Popes enough, and saintly scarecrows enough, to people Paradise, almost, and these things are all they did paint. “Nero fiddling o’er burning Rome,” the assassination of Caesar, the stirring spectacle of a hundred thousand people bending forward with rapt interest, in the coliseum, to see two skilful gladiators hacking away each other’s lives, a tiger springing upon a kneeling martyr—these and a thousand other matters which we read of with a living interest, must be sought for only in books—not among the rubbish left by the old masters—who are no more, I have the satisfaction of informing the public.
Everywhere, you see things that make you wonder how old these old houses were before the night of destruction came—things, too, which bring back those long-dead inhabitants and place them living before your eyes. For instance: The steps (two feet thick—lava blocks) that lead up out of the school, and the same kind of steps that lead up into the dress circle of the principal theater, are almost worn through! For ages the boys hurried out of that school, and for ages their parents hurried into that theater, and the nervous feet that have been dust and ashes for eighteen centuries have left their record for us to read to-day. I imagined I could see crowds of gentlemen and ladies thronging into the theater, with tickets for secured seats in their hands, and on the wall I read the imaginary placard, in infamous grammar, “POSITIVELY NO FREE LIST, EXCEPT MEMBERS OF THE PRESS!” Hanging about the doorway (I fancied) were slouchy Pompeiian street boys uttering slang and profanity, and keeping a wary eye out for checks. I entered the theater, and sat down in one of the long rows of stone benches in the dress circle, and looked at the place for the orchestra, and the ruined stage, and around at the wide sweep of empty boxes, and thought to myself, “This house won’t pay.” I tried to imagine the music in full blast, the leader of the orchestra beating time, and the “versatile” So-and-So (who had “just returned from a most successful tour in the provinces to play his last and farewell engagement of positively six nights only, in Pompeii, previous to his departure for Herculaneum”) charging around the stage and piling the agony mountains high—but I could not do it with such a “house” as that; those empty benches tied my fancy down to dull reality. I said, these people that ought to be here have been dead, and still, and moldering to dust for ages and ages, and will never care for the trifles and follies of life any more forever—“Owing to circumstances, etc., etc., there will not be any performance to-night.” Close down the curtains. Put out the lights.
After browsing among the stately ruins of Rome, of Baiae, of Pompeii, and after glancing down the long marble ranks of battered and nameless imperial heads that stretch down the corridors of the Vatican, one thing strikes me with a force it never had before: the unsubstantial, unlasting character of fame. Men lived long lives, in the olden time, and struggled feverishly through them, toiling like slaves, in oratory, in generalship, or in literature, and then laid them down and died, happy in the possession of an enduring history and a deathless name. Well, twenty little centuries flutter away, and what is left of these things? A crazy inscription on a block of stone, which snuffy antiquaries bother over and tangle up and make nothing out of but a bare name (which they spell wrong)—no history, no tradition, no poetry—nothing that can give it even a passing interest. What may be left of General Grant’s great name forty centuries hence? This—in the Encyclopedia for A.D. 5868, possibly.
“Uriah S. (or Z.) Grant—popular poet of ancient times in the Aztec provinces of the United States of British America. Some authors say flourished about A.D. 742; but the learned Ah-ah Foo-foo states that he was a contemporary of Scharkspyre, the English poet, and flourished about A.D. 1328, some three centuries _after_ the Trojan war instead of before it. He wrote ‘Rock me to Sleep, Mother,’”
These thoughts sadden me. I will to bed.
ATHENS FROM THE ACROPOLIS
The full moon was riding high in the cloudless heavens now. We sauntered carelessly and unthinkingly to the edge of the lofty battlements of the citadel, and looked down—a vision! And such a vision! Athens by moonlight! The prophet that thought the splendors of the New Jerusalem were revealed to him, surely saw this instead! It lay in the level plain right under our feet—all spread abroad like a picture—and we looked down upon it as we might have looked from a balloon. We saw no semblance of a street, but every house, every window, every clinging vine, every projection, was as distinct and sharply marked as if the time were noonday; and yet there was no glare, no glitter, nothing harsh or repulsive—the noiseless city was flooded with the mellowest light that ever streamed from the moon, and seemed like some living creature wrapped in peaceful slumber. On its further side was a little temple, whose delicate pillars and ornate front glowed with a rich luster that chained the eye like the spell; and nearer by, the palace of the king reared its creamy walls out of the midst of a great garden of shrubbery that was flecked all over with a random shower of amber lights—a spray of golden sparks that lost their brightness in the glory of the moon, and glinted softly upon the sea of dark foliage like the pallid stars of the milky way. Overhead the stately columns, majestic still in their ruin—under foot the dreaming city—in the distance the silver sea—not on the broad earth is there another picture half so beautiful!
As we turned and moved again through the temple, I wished that the illustrious men who had sat in it in the remote ages could visit it again and reveal themselves to our curious eyes—Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Socrates, Phocion, Pythagoras, Euclid, Pindar, Xenophon, Herodotus, Praxiteles and Phidias, Zeuxis the painter. What a constellation of celebrated names! But more than all, I wished that old Diogenes, groping so patiently with his lantern, searching so zealously for one solitary honest man in all the world, might meander along and stumble on our party. I ought not to say it, maybe, but still I suppose he would have put out his light.
Commercial morals, especially, are bad. There is no gainsaying that. Greek, Turkish, and Armenian morals consist only in attending church regularly on the appointed Sabbaths, and in breaking the ten commandments all the balance of the week. It comes natural to them to lie and cheat in the first place, and then they go on and improve on nature until they arrive at perfection. In recommending his son to a merchant as a valuable salesman, a father does not say he is a nice, moral, upright boy, and goes to Sunday-school and is honest, but he says, “This boy is worth his weight in broad pieces of a hundred—for behold, he will cheat whomsoever hath dealings with him, and from the Euxine to the waters of Marmora there abideth not so gifted a liar!” How is that for a recommendation? The missionaries tell me that they hear encomiums like that passed upon people every day. They say of a person they admire, “Ah, he is a charming swindler, and a most exquisite liar!”
The newspaper business has its inconveniences in Constantinople. Two Greek papers and one French one were suppressed here within a few days of each other. No victories of the Cretans are allowed to be printed. From time to time the Grand Vizier sends a notice to the various editors that the Cretan insurrection is entirely suppressed, and although that editor knows better, he still has to print the notice. The Levant Herald is too fond of speaking praisefully of Americans to be popular with the Sultan, who does not relish our sympathy with the Cretans, and therefore that paper has to be particularly circumspect in order to keep out of trouble. Once the editor, forgetting the official notice in his paper that the Cretans were crushed out, printed a letter of a very different tenor, from the American Consul in Crete, and was fined two hundred and fifty dollars for it. Shortly he printed another from the same source and was imprisoned three months for his pains. I think I could get the assistant editorship of the Levant Herald, but I am going to try to worry along without it.
By half-past six we were under way, and all the Syrian world seemed to be under way also. The road was filled with mule trains and long processions of camels. This reminds me that we have been trying for some time to think what a camel looks like, and now we have made it out. When he is down on all his knees, flat on his breast to receive his load, he looks something like a goose, swimming; and when he is upright he looks like an ostrich with an extra set of legs. Camels are not beautiful, and their long under lip gives them an exceedingly “gallus” expression. They have immense flat, forked cushions of feet, that make a track in the dust like a pie with a slice cut out of it. They are not particular about their diet. They would eat a tombstone if they could bite it. A thistle grows about here which has needles on it that would pierce through leather, I think; if one touches you, you can find relief in nothing but profanity. The camels eat these. They show by their actions that they enjoy them. I suppose it would be a real treat to a camel to have a keg of nails for supper.
AT NOAH’S TOMB
Noah’s tomb is built of stone, and is covered with a long stone building. Bucksheesh let us in. The building had to be long, because the grave of the honored old navigator is two hundred and ten feet long itself! It is only about four feet high, though. He must have cast a shadow like a lightning-rod. The proof that this is the genuine spot where Noah was buried can only be doubted by uncommonly incredulous people. The evidence is pretty straight. Shem, the son of Noah, was present at the burial, and showed the place to his descendants, who transmitted the knowledge to their descendants, and the lineal descendants of these introduced themselves to us to-day. It was pleasant to make the acquaintance of members of so respectable a family. It was a thing to be proud of. It was the next thing to being acquainted with Noah himself.
Damascus dates back anterior to the days of Abraham, and is the oldest city in the world. It was founded by Uz, the grandson of Noah. “The early history of Damascus is shrouded in the mists of a hoary antiquity.” Leave the matters written of in the first eleven chapters of the Old Testament out, and no recorded event has occurred in the world but Damascus was in existence to receive the news of it. Go back as far as you will into the vague past, there was always a Damascus. In the writings of every century for more than four thousand years, its name has been mentioned, and its praises sung. To Damascus, years are only moments, decades are only flitting trifles of time. She measures time, not by days and months and years, but by the empires she has seen rise and prosper and crumble to ruin. She is a type of immortality. She saw the foundations of Baalbec, and Thebes, and Ephesus laid; she saw these villages grow into mighty cities, and amaze the world with their grandeur—and she has lived to see them desolate, deserted, and given over to the owls and the bats. She saw the Israelitish empire exalted, and she saw it annihilated. She saw Greece rise, and flourish two thousand years, and die. In her old age she saw Rome built; she saw it overshadow the world with its power; she saw it perish. The few hundreds of years of Genoese and Venetian might and splendor were, to grave old Damascus, only a trifling scintillation hardly worth remembering. Damascus has seen all that has ever occurred on earth, and still she lives. She has looked upon the dry bones of a thousand empires and will see the tombs of a thousand more before she dies. Though another claims the name, old Damascus is by right the Eternal City.
It seems curious enough to us to be standing on ground that was once actually pressed by the feet of the Saviour. The situation is suggestive of a reality and a tangibility that seem at variance with the vagueness and mystery and ghostliness that one naturally attaches to the character of a god. I cannot comprehend yet that I am sitting where a god has stood, and looking upon the brook and the mountains which that god looked upon, and am surrounded by dusky men and women whose ancestors saw him, and even talked with him, face to face, and carelessly, just as they would have done with any other stranger. I cannot comprehend this; the gods of my understanding have been always hidden in clouds, and very far away.
A HEALER IN PALESTINE
As soon as the tribe found out that we had a doctor in our party, they began to flock in from all quarters. Dr. B., in the charity of his nature, had taken a child from a wagon who sat near by, and put some sort of a wash upon its diseased eyes. That woman went off and started the whole nation, and it was a sight to see them swarm! The lame, the halt, the blind, the leprous—all the distempers that are bred of indolence, dirt, and iniquity—were represented in the congress in ten minutes, and still they came! Every woman that had a sick baby brought it along, and every woman that hadn’t, borrowed one. What reverent and what worshiping looks they bent upon that dread, mysterious power, the Doctor! They watched him take his phials out; they watched him measure the particles of white powder; they watched him add drops of one precious liquid, and drops of another; they lost not the slightest movement; their eyes were riveted upon him with a fascination that nothing could distract. I believe they thought he was gifted like a god. When each individual got his portion of medicine, his eyes were radiant with joy—notwithstanding by nature they are a thankless and impassive race—and upon his face was written the unquestioning faith that nothing on earth could prevent the patient from getting well, now.
Christ knew how to preach to these simple, superstitious, disease-tortured creatures: He healed the sick. They flocked to our poor human doctor this morning when the fame of what he had done to the sick child went abroad in the land, and they worshiped him with their eyes while they did not know as yet whether there was virtue in his simples or not. The ancestors of these—people precisely like them in color, dress, manners, costumes, simplicity—flocked in vast multitudes after Christ, and when they saw Him make the afflicted whole with a word, it is no wonder they worshiped Him. No wonder His deeds were the talk of the nation. No wonder the multitude that followed Him was so great that at one time—thirty miles from here—they had to let a sick man down through the roof because no approach could be made to the door; no wonder His audiences were so great at Galilee that He had to preach from a ship removed a little distance from the shore; no wonder that even in the desert places about Bethsaida, five thousand invaded His solitude, and He had to feed them by a miracle or else see them suffer for their confiding faith and devotion; no wonder when there was a great commotion in a city in those days, one neighbor explained it to another in words to this effect: “They say that Jesus of Nazareth is come!”
It is hard to make a choice of the most beautiful passage in a book which is so gemmed with beautiful passages, as the Bible; but it is certain that not many things within its lids may take rank above the exquisite story of Joseph. Who taught those ancient writers their simplicity of language, their felicity of expression, their pathos, and, above all, their faculty of sinking themselves entirely out of sight of the reader and making the narrative stand out alone and seem to tell itself? Shakespeare is always present when one reads his book; Macaulay is present when we follow the march of his stately sentences; but the Old Testament writers are hidden from view.
GALILEE AT NIGHT
In the starlight, Galilee has no boundaries but the broad compass of the heavens, and is a theater meet for great events; meet for the birth of a religion able to save a world; and meet for the stately figure appointed to stand upon its stage and proclaim its high decrees. But in the sunlight, one says: Is it for the deeds which were done and the words which were spoken in this little acre of rocks and sand eighteen centuries gone, that the bells are ringing to-day in the remote islands of the sea and far and wide over continents that clasp the circumference of the huge globe?
DISTANCE IN THE EAST
In Constantinople you ask, “How far is it to the Consulate?” and they answer, “About ten minutes.” “How far is it to the Lloyds’ Agency?” “Quarter of an hour.” “How far is it to the lower bridge?” “Four minutes.” I cannot be positive about it, but I think that there, when a man orders a pair of pantaloons, he says he wants them a quarter of a minute in the legs and nine seconds around the waist.
A PLEASANT INCIDENT
I cannot think of anything now more certain to make one shudder, than to have a soft-footed camel sneak up behind him and touch him on the ear with its cold, flabby under lip. A camel did this for one of the boys, who was drooping over his saddle in a brown study. He glanced up and saw the majestic apparition hovering above him, and made frantic efforts to get out of the way, but the camel reached out and bit him on the shoulder before he accomplished it. This was the only pleasant incident of the journey.
Imagination labors best in distant fields. I doubt if any man can stand in the Grotto of the Annunciation and people with the phantom images of his mind its too tangible walls of stone.
They showed us a broken granite pillar, depending from the roof, which they said was hacked in two by the Moslem conquerors of Nazareth, in the vain hope of pulling down the sanctuary. But the pillar remained miraculously suspended in the air, and, unsupported itself, supported then and still supports the roof. By dividing this statement up among eight, it was found not difficult to believe it.
These gifted Latin monks never do anything by halves. If they were to show you the Brazen Serpent that was elevated in the wilderness, you could depend upon it that they had on hand the pole it was elevated on also, and even the hole it stood in. They have got the “Grotto” of the Annunciation here; and just as convenient to it as one’s throat is to his mouth, they have also the Virgin’s Kitchen, and even her sitting-room, where she and Joseph watched the infant Saviour play with Hebrew toys, eighteen hundred years ago. All under one roof, and all clean, spacious, comfortable “grottoes.” It seems curious that personages intimately connected with the Holy Family always lived in grottoes—in Nazareth, in Bethlehem, in imperial Ephesus—and yet nobody else in their day and generation thought of doing anything of the kind. If they ever did, their grottoes are all gone, and I suppose we ought to wonder at the peculiar marvel of the preservation of these I speak of. When the Virgin fled from Herod’s wrath, she hid in a grotto in Bethlehem, and the same is there to this day. The slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem was done in a grotto; the Saviour was born in a grotto—both are shown to pilgrims yet. It is exceedingly strange that these tremendous events all happened in grottoes—and exceedingly fortunate, likewise, because the strongest houses must crumble to ruin in time, but a grotto in the living rock will last forever.
AT ADAM’S GRAVE
The tomb of Adam! How touching it was, here in a land of strangers, far away from home, and friends, and all who cared for me, thus to discover the grave of a blood relation. True, a distant one, but still a relation. The unerring instinct of nature thrilled its recognition. The fountain of my filial affection was stirred to its profoundest depths, and I gave way to tumultuous emotion. I leaned upon a pillar and burst into tears. I deem it no shame to have wept over the grave of my poor dead relative. Let him who would sneer at my emotion close this volume here, for he will find little to his taste in my journeyings through the Holy Land. Noble old man—he did not live to see me—he did not live to see his child. And I—I—alas, I did not live to see _him_. Weighed down by sorrow and disappointment, he died before I was born—six thousand brief summers before I was born. But let us try to bear it with fortitude. Let us trust that he is better off where he is. Let us take comfort in the thought that his loss is our eternal gain.
THE WANDERING JEW
And so we came at last to another wonder, of deep and abiding interest—the veritable house where the unhappy wretch once lived who has been celebrated in song and story for more than eighteen hundred years as the Wandering Jew. On the memorable day of the Crucifixion he stood in this old doorway with his arms akimbo, looking out upon the struggling mob that was approaching, and when the weary Saviour would have sat down and rested him a moment, pushed him rudely away and said, “Move on!” The Lord said, “Move on, thou, likewise,” and the command has never been revoked from that day to this. All men know now that the miscreant upon whose head that just curse fell has roamed up and down the wide world, for ages and ages, seeking rest and never finding it—courting death but always in vain—longing to stop, in city, in wilderness, in desert solitudes, yet hearing always that relentless warning to march—march on! They say—do these hoary traditions—that when Titus sacked Jerusalem and slaughtered eleven hundred thousand Jews in her streets and byways, the Wandering Jew was seen always in the thickest of the fight, and that when battle-axes gleamed in the air, he bowed his head beneath them; when swords flashed their deadly lightnings, he sprang in their way; he bared his breast to whizzing javelins, to hissing arrows, to any and to every weapon that promised death and forgetfulness, and rest. But it was useless—he walked forth out of the carnage without a wound. And it is said that five hundred years afterwards he followed Mahomet when he carried destruction to the cities of Arabia, and then turned against him, hoping in this way to win the death of a traitor. His calculations were wrong again. No quarter was given to any living creature but one, and that was the only one of all the host that did not want it. He sought death five hundred years later, in the wars of the Crusades, and offered himself to famine and pestilence at Ascalon. He escaped again—he could not die. These repeated annoyances could have at last but one effect—they shook his confidence. Since then the Wandering Jew has carried on a kind of desultory toying with the most promising of the aids and implements of destruction, but with small hope, as a general thing. He has speculated some in cholera and railroads and has taken almost a lively interest in infernal machines and patent medicines. He is old, now, and grave, as becomes an age like his; he indulges in no light amusements save that he goes sometimes to executions, and is fond of funerals.
We had had a glimpse, from a mountain top, of the Dead Sea, lying like a blue shield in the plain of the Jordan, and now we were marching down a close, flaming, rugged, desolate defile, where no living creature could enjoy life, except, perhaps, a salamander. It was such a dreary, repulsive, horrible solitude! It was the “wilderness” where John preached, with camel’s hair about his loins—raiment enough—but he never could have got his locusts and wild honey here. We were moping along down through this dreadful place, every man in the rear. Our guards—two gorgeous young Arab sheiks, with cargoes of swords, guns, pistols, and daggers on board—were loafing ahead.
Every man shrunk up and disappeared in his clothes like a mud-turtle. My first impulse was to dash forward and destroy the Bedouins. My second was to dash to the rear to see if there were any coming in that direction. I acted on the latter impulse. So did all the others. If any Bedouins had approached us, then, from that point of compass, they would have paid dearly for their rashness. We all remarked that, afterwards. There would have been scenes of riot and bloodshed there that no pen could describe. I know that, because each man told what he would have done, individually; and such a medley of strange and unheard-of inventions of cruelty you could not conceive of. One man said he had calmly made up his mind to perish where he stood, if need be, but never yield an inch; he was going to wait, with deadly patience, till he could count the stripes on the first Bedouin’s jacket, and then count them and let him have it. Another was going to sit still till the first lance reached within an inch of his breast, and then dodge it and seize it. I forbear to tell what he was going to do to that Bedouin that owned it. It makes my blood run cold to think of it.
A SMITTEN LAND
Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies. Where Sodom and Gomorrah reared their domes and towers, that solemn sea now floods the plain, in whose bitter waters no living thing exists—over whose waveless surface the blistering air hangs motionless and dead—about whose borders nothing grows but weeds, and scattering tufts of cane, and that treacherous fruit that promises refreshment to parching lips, but turns to ashes at the touch. Nazareth is forlorn; about that ford of Jordan where the hosts of Israel entered the Promised Land with songs of rejoicing, one finds only a squalid camp of fantastic Bedouins of the desert; Jericho the accursed lies a moldering ruin to-day, even as Joshua’s miracle left it more than three thousand years ago; Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and their humiliation, have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the high honor of the Saviour’s presence; the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and where the angels sang “Peace on earth, good will to men,” is untenanted by any living creature, and unblessed by any feature that is pleasant to the eye. Renowned Jerusalem itself, the stateliest name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a pauper village; the riches of Solomon are no longer there to compel the admiration of visiting Oriental queens; the wonderful temple, which was the pride and glory of Israel, is gone, and the Ottoman crescent is lifted above the spot where, on that most memorable day in the annals of the world, they reared the Holy Cross. The noted Sea of Galilee, where Roman fleets once rode at anchor and the disciples of the Saviour sailed in their ships, was long ago deserted by the devotees of war and commerce, and its borders are a silent wilderness; Capernaum is a shapeless ruin; Magdala is the home of beggared Arabs; Bethsaida and Chorazin have vanished from the earth, and the “desert places” round about them, where thousands of men once listened to the Saviour’s voice and ate the miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes.
Palestine is desolate and unlovely. And why should it be otherwise? Can the _curse_ of the Deity beautify a land?
After years of waiting, it was before me at last. The great face was so sad, so earnest, so longing, so patient. There was a dignity not of earth in its mien, and in its countenance a benignity such as never anything human wore. It was stone, but seemed sentient. If ever image of stone thought, it was thinking. It was looking toward the verge of the landscape, yet looking _at_ nothing—nothing but distance and vacancy. It was looking over and beyond everything of the present, and far into the past. It was gazing out over the ocean of Time—over lines of century-waves which, further and further receding, closed nearer and nearer together, and blended at last into one unbroken tide, away toward the horizon of remote antiquity. It was thinking of the wars of departed ages; of the empires it had seen created and destroyed; of the nations whose birth it had witnessed, whose progress it had watched, whose annihilation it had noted; of the joy and sorrow, the life and death, the grandeur and decay, of five thousand slow revolving years. It was the type of an attribute of man—of a faculty of his heart and brain. It was MEMORY—RETROSPECTION—wrought into visible, tangible form. All who know what pathos there is in memories of days that are accomplished and faces that have vanished—albeit only a trifling score of years gone by—will have some appreciation of the pathos that dwells in these grave eyes that look so steadfastly back upon the things they knew before History was born—before tradition had being—things that were, and forms that moved, in a vague era which even Poetry and Romance scarce know of—and passed one by one away and left the stony dreamer solitary in the midst of a strange new age, and uncomprehended scenes.
The Sphinx is grand in its loneliness; it is imposing in its magnitude; it is impressive in the mystery that hangs over its story. And there is that in the overshadowing majesty of this eternal figure of stone, with its accusing memory of the deeds of all ages, which reveals to one something of what he shall feel when he shall stand at last in the awful presence of God.
MEMORIES OF THE PILGRIMAGE
We shall remember something of pleasant France; and something also of Paris, though it flashed upon us a splendid meteor, and was gone again, we hardly knew how or where. We shall remember, always, how we saw majestic Gibraltar glorified with the rich coloring of a Spanish sunset and swimming in a sea of rainbows. In fancy we shall see Milan again, and her stately cathedral with its marble wilderness of graceful spires. And Padua—Verona—Como, jeweled with stars; and patrician Venice, afloat on her stagnant flood—silent, desolate, haughty—scornful of her humbled state—wrapping herself in memories of her lost fleets, of battle and triumph, and all the pageantry of a glory that is departed.
We cannot forget Florence—Naples—nor the foretaste of heaven that is in the delicious atmosphere of Greece—and surely not Athens and the broken temples of the Acropolis. Surely not venerable Rome—nor the green plain that compasses her round about, contrasting its brightness with her gray decay—nor the ruined arches that stand apart in the plain and clothe their looped and windowed raggedness with vines. We shall remember St. Peter’s; not as one sees it when he walks the streets of Rome and fancies all her domes are just alike, but as he sees it leagues away, when every meaner edifice has faded out of sight and that one dome looms superbly up in the flush of sunset, full of dignity and grace, strongly outlined as a mountain.
We shall remember Constantinople and the Bosporus—the colossal magnificence of Baalbec—the Pyramids of Egypt—the prodigious form, the benignant countenance of the Sphinx—Oriental Smyrna—sacred Jerusalem—Damascus, the “Pearl of the East,” the pride of Syria, the fabled Garden of Eden, the home of princes and genii of the Arabian Nights, the oldest metropolis on the earth, the one city in all the world that has kept its name and held its place and looked serenely on while the Kingdoms and Empires of four thousand years have risen to life, enjoyed their little season of pride and pomp and then vanished and been forgotten!
_FROM_ “ROUGHING IT”
STARTING WEST (1870–71)
We were six days going from St. Louis to “St. Joe”—a trip that was so dull, and sleepy, and eventless that it has left no more impression on my memory than if its duration had been six minutes instead of that many days. No record is left in my mind, now, concerning it, but a confused jumble of savage looking snags, which we deliberately walked over with one wheel or the other; and of reefs which we butted and butted, and then retired from and climbed over in some softer place; and of sand-bars which we roosted on occasionally, and rested, and then got out our crutches and sparred over. In fact, the boat might almost as well have gone to St. Joe by land, for she was walking most of the time, anyhow—climbing over reefs and clambering over snags patiently and laboriously all day long. The captain said she was a “bully” boat, and all she wanted was more “shear” and a bigger wheel. I thought she wanted a pair of stilts, but I had the deep sagacity not to say so.
GEORGE BEMIS AND “THE ALLEN”
Mr. George Bemis was dismally formidable. George Bemis was our fellow traveler. We had never seen him before. He wore in his belt an old original “Allen” revolver, such as irreverent people called a “pepper-box.” Simply drawing the trigger back, cocked and fired the pistol. As the trigger came back, the hammer would begin to rise and the barrel to turn over, and presently down would drop the hammer, and away would speed the ball. To aim along the turning barrel and hit the thing aimed at was a feat which was probably never done with an “Allen” in the world. But George’s was a reliable weapon, nevertheless, because, as one of the stage-drivers afterwards said, “If she didn’t get what she went after, she would fetch something else.”
And so she did. She went after a deuce of spades nailed against a tree, once, and fetched a mule standing about thirty yards to the left of it. Bemis did not want the mule; but the owner came out with a double-barreled shot-gun and persuaded him to buy it, anyhow.
THE OVERLAND STAGE
Our coach was a great swinging and swaying stage, of the most sumptuous description—an imposing cradle on wheels. It was drawn by six handsome horses, and by the side of the driver sat the “conductor,” the legitimate captain of the craft; for it was his business to take charge and care of the mails, baggage, express matter, and passengers. We three were the only passengers, this trip. We sat on the back seat, inside. About all the rest of the coach was full of mail bags—for we had three days’ delayed mails with us. Almost touching our knees, a perpendicular wall of mail matter rose up to the roof. There was a great pile of it strapped on top of the stage, and both the fore and hind boots were full. We had twenty-seven hundred pounds of it aboard, the driver said—“a little for Brigham, and Carson, and ’Frisco, but the heft of it for the Injuns, which is powerful troublesome ’thout they get plenty of truck to read.” But as he just then got up a fearful convulsion of his countenance which was suggestive of a wink being swallowed by an earthquake, we guessed that his remark was intended to be facetious, and to mean that we would unload the most of our mail matter somewhere on the plains and leave it to the Indians, or whosoever wanted it.
We changed horses every ten miles, all day long, and fairly flew over the hard level road. We jumped out and stretched our legs every time the coach stopped, and so the night found us still vivacious and unfatigued.
MORNING ON THE PLAINS
Another night of alternate tranquillity and turmoil. But morning came, by and by. It was another glad awakening to fresh breezes, vast expanses of level greensward, bright sunlight, an impressive solitude, utterly without visible human beings or human habitations, and an atmosphere of such amazing magnifying properties that trees that seemed close at hand were more than three miles away. We resumed undress uniform, climbed a-top of the flying coach, dangled our legs over the side, shouted occasionally at our frantic mules, merely to see them lay their ears back and scamper faster, tied our hats on to keep our hair from blowing away, and leveled an outlook over the world-wide carpet about us for things new and strange to gaze at. Even at this day it thrills me through and through to think of the life, the gladness and the wild sense of freedom that used to make the blood dance in my veins on those fine overland mornings.
The cayote is a long, slim, sick and sorry-looking skeleton, with a gray wolf-skin stretched over it, a tolerably bushy tail that forever sags down with a despairing expression of forsakenness and misery, a furtive and evil eye, and a long, sharp face, with slightly lifted lip and exposed teeth. He has a general slinking expression all over. The cayote is a living, breathing allegory of Want. He is _always_ hungry. He is always poor, out of luck and friendless. The meanest creatures despise him, and even the fleas would desert him for a velocipede. He is so spiritless and cowardly that even while his exposed teeth are pretending a threat, the rest of his face is apologizing for it. And he is _so_ homely!—so scrawny, and ribby, and coarse-haired, and pitiful. When he sees you he lifts his lip and lets a flash of his teeth out, and then turns a little out of the course he was pursuing, depresses his head a bit, and strikes a long, soft-footed trot through the sagebrush, glancing over his shoulder at you, from time to time, till he is about out of easy pistol range, and then he stops and takes a deliberate survey of you; he will trot fifty yards and stop again—another fifty and stop again; and finally the gray of his gliding body blends with the gray of the sagebrush, and he disappears. All this is when you make no demonstration against him; but if you do, he develops a livelier interest in his journey, and instantly electrifies his heels and puts such a deal of real estate between himself and your weapon, that by the time you have raised the hammer you see that you need a minie rifle, and by the time you have got him in line you need a rifled cannon, and by the time you have “drawn a bead” on him you see well enough that nothing but an unusually long-winded streak of lightning could reach him where he is now. But if you start a swift-footed dog after him, you will enjoy it ever so much—especially if it is a dog that has a good opinion of himself, and has been brought up to think he knows something about speed. The cayote will go swinging gently off on that deceitful trot of his, and every little while he will smile a fraudful smile over his shoulder that will fill that dog entirely full of encouragement and worldly ambition, and make him lay his head still lower to the ground, and stretch his neck further to the front, and pant more fiercely, and stick his tail out straighter behind, and move his furious legs with a yet wilder frenzy, and leave a broader and broader, and higher and denser cloud of desert sand smoking behind, and marking his long wake across the level plain! And all this time the dog is only a short twenty feet behind the cayote, and to save the soul of him he cannot understand why it is that he cannot get perceptibly closer; and he begins to get aggravated, and it makes him madder and madder to see how gently the cayote glides along and never pants or sweats or ceases to smile; and he grows still more and more incensed to see how shamefully he has been taken in by an entire stranger, and what an ignoble swindle that long, calm, soft-footed trot is; and next he notices that he is getting fagged, and that the cayote actually has to slacken speed a little to keep from running away from him—and _then_ that town-dog is mad in earnest, and he begins to strain and weep and swear, and paw the sand higher than ever, and reach for the cayote with concentrated and desperate energy. This “spurt” finds him six feet behind the gliding enemy, and two miles from his friends. And then, in the instant that a wild new hope is lighting up his face, the cayote turns and smiles blandly upon him once more, and with a something about it which seems to say, “Well, I shall have to tear myself away from you, bud—business is business, and it will not do for me to be fooling along this way all day”—and forthwith there is a rushing sound, and the sudden splitting of a long crack through the atmosphere, and behold that dog is solitary and alone in the midst of a vast solitude!
THE PONY RIDER
In a little while all interest was taken up in stretching our necks and watching for the “pony-rider”—the fleet messenger who sped across the continent from St. Joe to Sacramento, carrying letters nineteen hundred miles in eight days! Think of that for perishable horse and human flesh and blood to do! The pony-rider was usually a little bit of a man, brimful of spirit and endurance. No matter what time of the day or night his watch came on, and no matter whether it was winter or summer, raining, snowing, hailing, or sleeting, or whether his “beat” was a level straight road or a crazy trail over mountain crags and precipices, or whether it led through peaceful regions that swarmed with hostile Indians, he must be always ready to leap into the saddle and be off like the wind! There was no idling-time for a pony-rider on duty. He rode fifty miles without stopping by daylight, moonlight, starlight, or through the blackness of darkness—just as it happened. He rode a splendid horse that was born for a racer and fed and lodged like a gentleman; kept him at his utmost speed for ten miles, and then, as he came crashing up to the station where stood two men holding fast a fresh, impatient steed, the transfer of rider and mail-bag was made in the twinkling of an eye, and away flew the eager pair and were out of sight before the spectator could get hardly the ghost of a look. Both rider and horse went “flying light.” The rider’s dress was thin, and fitted close; he wore a “roundabout,” and a skull-cap, and tucked his pantaloons into his boot tops like a race-rider. He carried no arms—he carried nothing that was not absolutely necessary, for even the postage on his literary freight was worth _five dollars a letter_. He got but little frivolous correspondence to carry—his bag had business letters in it, mostly. His horse was stripped of all unnecessary weight, too. He wore a little wafer of a racing-saddle, and no visible blanket. He wore light shoes, or none at all. The little flat mail-pockets strapped under the rider’s thighs would each hold about the bulk of a child’s primer. They held many and many an important business chapter and newspaper letter, but these were written on paper as airy and thin as gold-leaf, nearly, and thus bulk and weight were economized. The stage-coach traveled about a hundred to a hundred and twenty-five miles a day (twenty-four hours), the pony-rider about two hundred and fifty. There were about eighty pony-riders in the saddle all the time, night and day, stretching in a long, scattering procession from Missouri to California, forty flying eastward, and forty toward the west, and among them making four hundred gallant horses earn a stirring livelihood and see a deal of scenery every single day in the year.
We had had a consuming desire, from the beginning, to see a pony-rider, but somehow or other all that passed us and all that met us managed to streak by in the night, and so we heard only a whiz and a hail, and the swift phantom of the desert was gone before we could get our heads out of the windows. But now we were expecting one along every moment, and would see him in broad daylight. Presently the driver exclaims:
“HERE HE COMES.”
Every neck is stretched further, and every eye strained wider. Away across the endless dead level of the prairie a black speck appears against the sky, and it is plain that it moves. Well, I should think so! In a second or two it becomes a horse and rider, rising and falling, rising and falling,—sweeping toward us nearer and nearer—growing more and more distinct, more and more sharply defined—nearer and still nearer, and the flutter of the hoofs comes faintly to the ear—another instant a whoop and a hurrah from our upper deck, a wave of the rider’s hand, but no reply, and a man and horse burst past our excited faces, and go winging away like a belated fragment of a storm!
So sudden is it all, and so like a flash of unreal fancy, that but for the flake of white foam left quivering and perishing on a mail-sack after the vision had flashed by and disappeared, we might have doubted whether we had seen any actual horse and man at all, maybe.
We had now reached a hostile Indian country, and during the afternoon we passed Laparelle Station, and enjoyed great discomfort all the time we were in the neighborhood, being aware that many of the trees we dashed by at arm’s length concealed a lurking Indian or two. During the preceding night an ambushed savage had sent a bullet through the pony-rider’s jacket, but he had ridden on, just the same, because pony-riders were not allowed to stop and inquire into such things except when killed. As long as they had life enough in them they had to stick to the horse and ride, even if the Indians had been waiting for them a week, and were entirely out of patience. About two hours and a half before we arrived at Laparelle Station, the keeper in charge of it had fired four times at an Indian, but he said with an injured air that the Indian had “skipped around so’s to spile everything—and ammunition’s blamed skurse, too.” The most natural inference conveyed by his manner of speaking was, that in “skipping around,” the Indian had taken an unfair advantage.... We shut the blinds down very tightly that first night in the hostile Indian country, and lay on our arms. We slept on them some, but most of the time we only lay on them. We did not talk much, but kept quiet and listened. It was an inky-black night, and occasionally rainy. We were among woods and rocks, hills and gorges—so shut in, in fact, that when we peeped through a chink in a curtain, we could discern nothing. The driver and conductor on top were still, too, or only spoke at long intervals, in low tones, as is the way of men in the midst of invisible dangers. We listened to raindrops pattering on the roof; and the grinding of the wheels through the muddy gravel; and the low wailing of the wind; and all the time we had that absurd sense upon us, inseparable from travel at night in a close-curtained vehicle, the sense of remaining perfectly still in one place, notwithstanding the jolting and swaying of the vehicle, the trampling of the horses, and the grinding of the wheels. We listened a long time, with intent faculties and bated breath; every time one of us would relax, and draw a long sigh of relief and start to say something, a comrade would be sure to utter a sudden “Hark!” and instantly the experimenter was rigid and listening again.
AT THE SUMMIT OF THE ROCKIES
And now, at last, we were fairly in the renowned SOUTH PASS, and whirling gaily along, high above the common world. We were perched upon the extreme summit of the great range of the Rocky Mountains, toward which we had been climbing, patiently climbing, ceaselessly climbing, for days and nights together—and about us was gathered a convention of Nature’s kings that stood ten, twelve, and even thirteen thousand feet high—grand old fellows who would have to stoop to see Mount Washington, in the twilight. We were in such an airy elevation above the creeping populations of the earth, that now and then when the obstructing crags stood out of the way it seemed that we could look around and abroad and contemplate the whole great globe, with its dissolving views of mountains, seas, and continents stretching away through the mystery of the summer haze.
INCIDENTS BY THE WAY
At the Green River station we had breakfast—hot biscuits, fresh antelope steaks, and coffee—the only decent meal we tasted between the United States and Great Salt Lake City and the only one we were ever really thankful for. Think of the monotonous execrableness of the thirty that went before it, to leave this one simple breakfast looming up in my memory like a shot-tower after all these years have gone by!
At five p. m. we reached Fort Bridger, one hundred and seventeen miles from the South Pass, and one thousand and twenty-five miles from St. Joseph. Fifty-two miles further on, near the head of Echo Canyon, we met sixty United States soldiers from Camp Floyd. The day before, they had fired upon three hundred or four hundred Indians, whom they supposed gathered together for no good purpose. In the fight that had ensued, four Indians were captured, and the main body chased four miles, but nobody killed. This looked like business. We had a notion to get out and join the sixty soldiers, but upon reflecting that there were four hundred of the Indians, we concluded to go on and join the Indians.
Our stay in Salt Lake City amounted to only two days, and therefore we had no time to make the customary inquisition into the workings of polygamy and get up the usual statistics and deductions preparatory to calling the attention of the nation at large once more to the matter. I had the will to do it. With the gushing self-sufficiency of youth I was feverish to plunge in headlong and achieve a great reform here—until I saw the Mormon women. Then I was touched. My heart was wiser than my head. It warmed toward these poor, ungainly, and pathetically “homely” creatures, and as I turned to hide the generous moisture in my eyes, I said, “No—the man that marries one of them has done an act of Christian charity which entitles him to the kindly applause of mankind, not harsh censure—and the man that marries sixty of them has done a deed of open-handed generosity so sublime that the nations should stand uncovered in his presence and worship in silence.”
THE ALKALI DESERT
The poetry was all in the anticipation—there is none in the reality. Imagine a vast, waveless ocean stricken dead and turned to ashes; imagine this solemn waste tufted with ash-dusted sage-bushes; imagine the lifeless silence and solitude that belong to such a place; imagine a coach, creeping like a bug through the midst of this shoreless level, and sending up tumbled volumes of dust as if it were a bug that went by steam; imagine this aching monotony of toiling and plowing kept up hour after hour, and the shore still as far away as ever, apparently; imagine team, driver, coach and passengers so deeply coated with ashes that they are all one colorless color; imagine ash-drifts roosting above mustaches and eyebrows like snow accumulations on boughs and bushes. This is the reality of it.
The sun beats down with dead, blistering, relentless malignity; the perspiration is welling from every pore in man and beast, but scarcely a sign of it finds its way to the surface—it is absorbed before it gets there; there is not the faintest breath of air stirring; there is not a merciful shred of cloud in all the brilliant firmament; there is not a living creature visible in any direction whither one searches the blank level that stretches its monotonous miles on every hand; there is not a sound—not a sigh—not a whisper—not a buzz, or a whir of wings, or distant pipe of bird—not even a sob from the lost souls that doubtless people that dead air.
ARRIVAL IN CARSON CITY
By and by Carson City was pointed out to us. It nestled in the edge of a great plain and was a sufficient number of miles away to look like an assemblage of mere white spots in the shadow of a grim range of mountains overlooking it, whose summits seemed lifted clear out of companionship and consciousness of earthly things.
We arrived, disembarked, and the stage went on. It was a “wooden” town; its population two thousand souls. The main street consisted of four or five blocks of little frame stores which were too high to sit down on, but not too high for various other purposes; in fact hardly high enough. They were packed close together, side by side, as if room were scarce in that mighty plain. The sidewalk was of boards that were more or less loose and inclined to rattle when walked upon. In the middle of the town, opposite the stores, was the “plaza,” which is native to all towns beyond the Rocky Mountains—a large, unfenced, level vacancy, with a liberty pole in it, and very useful as a place for public auctions, horse trades, and mass meetings, and likewise for teamsters to camp in. Two other sides of the plaza were faced by stores, offices and stables. The rest of Carson City was pretty scattering.
We were introduced to several citizens, at the stage-office and on the way up to the Governor’s from the hotel—among others, to a Mr. Harris, who was on horseback; he began to say something, but interrupted himself with the remark:
“I’ll have to get you to excuse me a minute; yonder is the witness that swore I helped to rob the California coach—a piece of impertinent intermeddling, sir, for I am not even acquainted with the man.”
Then he rode over and began to rebuke the stranger with a six-shooter, and the stranger began to explain with another. When the pistols were emptied, the stranger resumed his work (mending a whip-lash), and Mr. Harris rode by with a polite nod, homeward bound, with a bullet through one of his lungs, and several through his hips; and from them issued little rivulets of blood that coursed down the horse’s sides and made the animal look quite picturesque. I never saw Harris shoot a man after that but it recalled to mind that first day in Carson.
Three months of camp life on Lake Tahoe would restore an Egyptian mummy to his pristine vigor, and give him an appetite like an alligator. I do not mean the oldest and driest mummies, of course, but the fresher ones. The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious. And why shouldn’t it be?—it is the same the angels breathe. I think that hardly any amount of fatigue can be gathered together that a man cannot sleep off in one night on the sand by its side. Not under a roof, but under the sky; it seldom or never rains there in the summer time. I know a man who went there to die. But he made a failure of it. He was a skeleton when he came, and could barely stand. He had no appetite, and did nothing but read tracts and reflect on the future. Three months later he was sleeping out-of-doors regularly, eating all he could hold, three times a day, and chasing game over mountains three thousand feet high for recreation. And he was a skeleton no longer, but weighed part of a ton. This is no fancy sketch, but the truth. His disease was consumption. I confidently commend his experience to other skeletons.
... As soon as we had eaten breakfast we got in the boat and skirted along the lake shore about three miles and disembarked. We liked the appearance of the place, and so we claimed some three hundred acres of it and stuck our “notice” on a tree. It was yellow pine timber land—a dense forest of trees a hundred feet high and from one to five feet through at the butt. It was necessary to fence our property or we could not hold it. That is to say, it was necessary to cut down trees here and there and make them fall in such a way as to form a sort of enclosure (with pretty wide gaps in it). We cut down three trees apiece, and found it such heart-breaking work that we decided to “rest our case” on those; if they held the property, well and good; if they didn’t, let the property spill out through the gaps and go; it was no use to work ourselves to death merely to save a few acres of land. Next day we came back to build a house—for a house was also necessary, in order to hold the property. We decided to build a substantial log-house and excite the envy of the Brigade boys; but by the time we had cut and trimmed the first log it seemed unnecessary to be so elaborate, and so we concluded to build it of saplings. However, two saplings duly cut and trimmed, compelled recognition of the fact that a still modester architecture would satisfy the law, and so we concluded to build a “brush” house. We devoted the next day to this work, but we did so much “sitting around” and discussing that by the middle of the afternoon we had achieved only a half way sort of affair which one of us had to watch while the other cut brush, lest if both turned our backs we might not be able to find it again, it had such a strong family resemblance to the surrounding vegetation. But we were satisfied with it.... We slept in the sand close to the water’s edge, between two protecting boulders, which took care of the stormy night winds for us. We never took any paregoric to make us sleep. At the first break of dawn we were always up and running footraces to tone down excess of physical vigor and exuberance of spirits. That is, Johnny was—but I held his hat. While smoking the pipe of peace after breakfast we watched the sentinel peaks put on the glory of the sun, and followed the conquering light as it swept among the shadows, and set the captive crags and forests free. We watched the tinted pictures grow and brighten upon the water till every little detail of forest, precipice, and pinnacle was wrought in and finished, and the miracle of the enchanter complete. Then to “business.”
That is, drifting around in the boat. We were on the north shore. There, the rocks on the bottom are sometimes gray, sometimes white. This gives the marvelous transparency of the water a fuller advantage than it has elsewhere on the lake. We usually pushed out a hundred yards or so from the shore and then lay down on the thwarts in the sun, and let the boat drift by the hour whither it would. We seldom talked. It interrupted the Sabbath stillness, and marred the dreams, the luxurious rest and indolence brought.... So singularly clear was the water, that where it was only twenty or thirty feet deep the bottom was so perfectly distinct that the boat seemed floating in air! Yes, where it was even _eighty_ feet deep. Every little pebble was distinct, every speckled trout, every hand’s-breadth of sand. Often, as we lay on our faces, a granite boulder, as large as a village church, would start out of the bottom apparently, and seem climbing up rapidly to the surface, till presently it threatened to touch our faces, and we could not resist the impulse to seize the oar and avert the danger. But the boat would float on, and the boulder descend again, and then we could see that when we had been exactly above it, it must still have been twenty or thirty feet below the surface. Down through the transparency of these great depths, the water was not _merely_ transparent, but dazzlingly, brilliantly so. All objects seen through it had a bright, strong vividness, not only of outline, but of every minute detail, which they would not have had when seen simply through the same depth of atmosphere. So empty and airy did all spaces seem below us, and so strong was the sense of floating high aloft in mid-nothingness, that we called these boat-excursions “balloon-voyages.” ... Sometimes, on lazy afternoons, we lolled on the sand in camp, and smoked pipes and read some old well-worn novels. At night, by the camp-fire, we played euchre and seven-up to strengthen the mind—and played them with cards so greasy and defaced that only a whole summer’s acquaintance with them could enable the student to tell the ace of clubs from the jack of diamonds.
We never slept in our “house.” It never occurred to us, for one thing; and besides, it was built to hold the ground, and that was enough. We did not wish to strain it.
SELLING OUT A MINE
The Gould & Curry claim comprised twelve hundred feet, and it all belonged originally to the two men whose name it bears. Mr. Curry owned two-thirds of it—and he said that he sold it out for twenty-five hundred dollars in cash, and an old plug horse that ate up his market value in hay and barley in seventeen days by the watch. And he said that Gould sold out for a pair of second-hand government blankets and a bottle of whisky that killed nine men in three hours, and that an unoffending stranger that smelt the cork was disabled for life. Four years afterward the mine thus disposed of was worth in the San Francisco market seven million six hundred thousand dollars in gold coin.
BUCK FANSHAW’S FUNERAL
There was a grand time over Buck Fanshaw when he died. He was a representative citizen. He had “killed his man”—not in his own quarrel, it is true, but in defence of a stranger unfairly beset by numbers. He had kept a sumptuous saloon. He had been the proprietor of a dashing helpmeet whom he could have discarded without the formality of a divorce. He had a high position in the fire department and had been a very Warwick in politics. When he died there was great lamentation throughout the town, but especially in the vast bottom stratum of society.
On the inquest it was shown that Buck Fanshaw, in the delirium of a wasting typhoid fever, had taken arsenic, shot himself through the body, cut his throat, and jumped out of a four-story window and broken his neck—and after due deliberation, the jury, sad and tearful, but with intelligence unblinded by its sorrow, brought in a verdict of death “by the visitation of God.” What could the world do without juries?
Prodigious preparations were made for the funeral. All the vehicles in town were hired, all the saloons put in mourning, all the municipal and fire-company flags hung at half-mast, and all the firemen ordered to muster in uniform and bring their machines duly draped in black. Now—let it be remarked in parenthesis—as all the people of the earth had representative adventures in the Silverland, and as each adventurer had brought the slang of his nation or of his locality with him, the combination made the slang of Nevada the richest and the most infinitely varied and copious that had ever existed anywhere in the world, perhaps, except in the mines of California in the “early days.” Slang was the language of Nevada. It was hard to preach a sermon without it, and be understood. Such phrases as “You bet!” “Oh, no, I reckon not.” “No Irish need apply,” and a hundred others, became so common as to fall from the lips of a speaker unconsciously—and very often when they did not touch the subject under discussion and consequently failed to mean anything.
After Buck Fanshaw’s inquest, a meeting of the short-haired brotherhood was held, for nothing could be done on the Pacific coast without a public meeting and an expression of sentiment. Regretful resolutions were passed and various committees appointed; among others, a committee of one was deputed to call on the minister, a fragile, gentle, spiritual new fledgling from an Eastern theological seminary, and as yet unacquainted with the ways of the mines. The committeeman, “Scotty” Briggs, made his visit; and in after days it was worth something to hear the minister tell about it. Scotty was a stalwart rough, whose customary suit, when on weighty official business, like committee work, was a fire helmet, flaming red flannel shirt, patent leather belt with spanner and revolver attached, coat hung over arm, and pants stuffed into boot tops. He formed something of a contrast to the pale theological student. It is fair to say of Scotty, however, in passing, that he had a warm heart, and a strong love for his friends, and never entered into a quarrel when he could reasonably keep out of it. Indeed, it was commonly said that when ever one of Scotty’s fights was investigated, it always turned out that it had originally been no affair of his, but out of native good-heartedness he had dropped in of his own accord to help the man who was getting the worst of it. He and Buck Fanshaw were bosom friends, for years, and had often taken adventurous “potluck” together. On one occasion, they had thrown off their coats and taken the weaker side in a fight among strangers, and after gaining a hard earned victory, turned and found that the men they were helping had deserted early and not only that, but had stolen their coats and made off with them! But to return to Scotty’s visit to the minister. He was on a sorrowful mission, now, and his face was the picture of woe. Being admitted to the presence he sat down before the clergyman, placed his fire hat on an unfinished manuscript sermon under the minister’s nose, took from it a red silk handkerchief, wiped his brow and heaved a sigh of dismal impressiveness, explanatory of his business. He choked, and even shed tears; but with an effort he mastered his voice and said in lugubrious tones:
“Are you the duck that runs the gospel-mill next door?”
“Am I the—pardon me, I believe I do not understand?”
With another sigh and a half-sob, Scotty rejoined:
“Why, you see, we are in a bit of trouble, and the boys thought maybe you would give us a lift, if we’d tackle you—that is, if I’ve got the rights of it and you are the head clerk of the doxology-works next door.”
“I am the shepherd in charge of the flock whose fold is next door.”
“The spiritual adviser of the little company of believers whose sanctuary adjoins these premises.”
Scotty scratched his head, reflected a moment, and then said:
“You rather hold over me, pard. I reckon I can’t call that hand. Ante and pass the buck.”
“How? I beg pardon. What did I understand you to say?”
“Well, you’ve ruther got the bulge on me. Or may’be we’ve both got the bulge, somehow. You don’t smoke me and I don’t smoke you. You see, one of the boys has passed in his checks, and we want to give him a good send-off, and so the thing I’m on now is to roust out somebody to jerk a little chin-music for us and waltz him through handsome.”
“My friend, I seem to grow more and more bewildered. Your observations are wholly incomprehensible to me. Cannot you simplify them in some way? At first I thought perhaps I understood you, but I grope now. Would it not expedite matters if you restricted yourself to categorical statements of facts, unencumbered with obstructive accumulations of metaphor and allegory?”
Another pause, and more reflection. Then, said Scotty:
“I’ll have to pass, I judge.”
“You’ve raised me out, pard.”
“I still fail to catch your meaning.”
“Why, that last lead of yourn is too many for me—that’s the idea. I can’t neither trump nor follow suit.”
The clergyman sank back in his chair perplexed. Scotty leaned his head on his hand and gave himself up to thought. Presently his face came up, sorrowful, but confident.
“I’ve got it now, so’s you can savvy,” he said. “What we want is a gospel-sharp. See?”
“Oh! Why did you not say so before? I am a clergyman—a parson.”
“Now you talk! You see my blind and straddle it like a man. Put it there!”—extending a brawny paw, which closed over the minister’s small hand and gave it a shake indicative of fraternal sympathy and fervent gratification.
“Now we’re all right, pard. Let’s start fresh. Don’t you mind my shuffling a little—becuz we’re in a power of trouble. You see, one of the boys has gone up the flume——”
“Up the flume—throwed up the sponge, you understand.”
“Thrown up the sponge?”
“Yes—kicked the bucket——”
“Ah—has departed to that mysterious country from whose bourne no traveler returns.”
“Return! I reckon not. Why, pard, he’s _dead!_”
“Yes, I understand.”
“Oh, you do? Well I thought maybe you might be getting tangled some more. Yes, you see he’s dead again——”
“_Again!_ Why, has he ever been dead before?”
“Dead before? No! Do you reckon a man has got as many lives as a cat? But you bet you, he’s awful dead now, poor old boy, and I wish I’d never seen this day. I don’t want no better friend than Buck Fanshaw. I knowed him by the back; and when I know a man and like him, I freeze to him—you hear _me_. Take him all round, pard, there never was a bullier man in the mines. No man ever knowed Buck Fanshaw to go back on a friend. But it’s all up, you know, it’s all up. It _ain’t_ no use. They’ve scooped him.”
“Yes—death has. Well, well, well, we’ve got to give him up. Yes, indeed. It’s a kind of a hard world, after all, _ain’t_ it? But pard, he was a rustler! You ought to see him get started once. He was a bully boy with a glass eye! Just spit in his face and give him room according to his strength, and it was just beautiful to see him peel and go in. He was the worst son of a thief that ever drawed breath. Pard, he was _on_ it! He was on it bigger than an Injun!”
“On it? On what?”
“On the shoot. On the shoulder. On the fight, you understand. _He_ didn’t give a continental for _any_ body. _Beg_ your pardon, friend, for coming so near saying a cuss-word—but you see I’m on an awful strain, in this palaver, on account of having to cramp down and draw everything so mild. But we’ve got to give him up. There ain’t any getting around that, I don’t reckon. Now if we can get you to help plant him——”
“Preach the funeral discourse? Assist at the obsequies?”
“Obs’quies is good. Yes. That’s it—that’s our little game. We are going to get the thing up regardless, you know. He was always nifty himself, and so you bet you his funeral ain’t going to be no slouch—solid silver door-plate on his coffin, six plumes on the hearse, and one nigger on the box in a biled shirt and a plug hat—how’s that for high? And we’ll take care of _you_ pard. We’ll fix you all right. There’ll be a kerridge for you; and whatever you want, you just ’scape out and we’ll ’tend to it. We’ve got a shebang fixed up for you to stand behind, in No. 1’s house, and don’t you be afraid. Just go in and toot your horn, if you don’t sell a clam. Put Buck through as bully as you can, pard, for anybody that knowed him will tell you that he was one of the whitest men that was ever in the mines. You can’t draw it too strong. He never could stand it to see things going wrong. He’s done more to make this town quiet and peaceable than any man in it. I’ve seen him lick four Greasers in eleven minutes, myself. If a thing wanted regulating, _he_ warn’t a man to go browsing around for somebody to do it, but he would prance in and regulate it himself. He warn’t a Catholic. Scasely. He was down on ’em. His word was ‘No Irish need apply!’ But it didn’t make no difference about that when it came down to what a man’s rights was—and so, when some roughs jumped the Catholic boneyard and started in to stake out town lots in it he _went_ for ’em! And he _cleaned_ ’em, too! I was there, pard, and I seen it myself.”
“That was very well, indeed—at least the impulse was—whether the act was strictly defensible or not. Had deceased any religious convictions? That is to say, did he feel a dependence upon, or acknowledge allegiance to a higher power?”
“I reckon you’ve stumped me again, pard. Could you say it over once more, and say it slow?”
“Well, to simplify it somewhat, was he, or rather had he ever been connected with any organization sequestered for secular concerns and devoted to self-sacrifice in the interests of morality?”
“All down but nine—set ’em up on the other alley, pard.”
“What did I understand you to say?”
“Why, you’re most too many for me, you know. When you get in with your left I hunt grass every time. Every time you draw, you fill; but I don’t seem to have any luck. Let’s have a new deal.”
“How? Begin again?”
“Very well. Was he a good man, and——”
“There—I see that; don’t put up another chip till I look at my hand. A good man, says you? Pard, it ain’t no name for it. He was the best man that ever—pard, you would have doted on that man. He could lam any galoot of his inches in America. It was him that put down the riot last election before it got a start; and everybody said he was the only man that could have done it. He waltzed in with a spanner in one hand and a trumpet in the other, and sent fourteen men home on a shutter in less than three minutes. He had that riot all broke up and prevented nice before anybody ever got a chance to strike a blow. He was always for peace, and he would _have_ peace—he could not stand disturbances. Pard, he was a great loss to this town. It would please the boys if you would chip in something like that and do him justice. Here once when the Micks got to throwing stones through the Methodis’ Sunday-school windows, Buck Fanshaw, all of his own notion, shut up his saloon and took a couple of six-shooters and mounted guard over the Sunday-school. Says he, ‘No Irish need Apply!’ And they didn’t. He was the bulliest man in the mountains, pard! He could run faster, jump higher, hit harder, and hold more tanglefoot whisky without spilling than any man in seventeen counties. Put that in, pard—it’ll please the boys more than anything you could say. And you can say, pard, that he never shook his mother.”
“Never shook his mother?”
“That’s it—any of the boys will tell you so.”
“Well, but why _should_ he shake her?”
“That’s what _I_ say—but some people does.”
“Not people of any repute.”
“Well, some that averages pretty so-so.”
“In my opinion the man that would offer personal violence to his own mother ought to——”
“Cheese it, pard; you’ve banked your ball clean outside the string. What I was drivin’ at, was, that he never _throwed_ off on his mother—don’t you see? No indeedy. He give her a house to live in, and town lots, and plenty of money; and he looked after her and took care of her all the time; and when she was down with the smallpox I’m d—d if he didn’t set up nights and nuss her himself! _Beg_ your pardon for saying it, but it hopped out too quick for yours truly. You’ve treated me like a gentleman, pard, and I ain’t the man to hurt your feelings intentional. I think you’re white. I think you’re a square man, pard. I like you, and I’ll lick any man that don’t. I’ll lick him till he can’t tell himself from a last year’s corpse! Put it _there_!” (Another fraternal hand-shake—and exit).
The obsequies were all that “the boys” could desire. Such a marvel of funeral pomp had never been seen in Virginia. The plumed hearse, the dirge-breathing brass bands, the closed marts of business, the flags drooping at half-mast, the long, plodding procession of uniformed secret societies, military battalions and fire companies, draped engines, carriages of officials, and citizens in vehicles and on foot, attracted multitudes of spectators to the sidewalks, roofs, and windows; and for years afterward, the degree of grandeur attained by any civic display in Virginia was determined by comparison with Buck Fanshaw’s funeral.
Scotty Briggs, as a pall-bearer and a mourner, occupied a prominent place at the funeral, and when the sermon was finished and the last sentence of the prayer for the dead man’s soul ascended, he responded in a low voice, but with feeling:
“AMEN. No Irish need apply.”
AN ABANDONED TOWN
We lived in a small cabin on a verdant hillside, and there were not five other cabins in view over the wide expanse of hill and forest. Yet a flourishing city of two or three thousand population had occupied this grassy dead solitude during the flush times of twelve or fifteen years before, and where our cabin stood had once been the heart of the teaming hive, the center of the city. When the mines gave out the town fell into decay, and in a few years wholly disappeared—streets, dwellings, shops, everything—and left no sign. The grassy slopes were as green and smooth and desolate of life as if they had never been disturbed. The mere handful of miners still remaining had seen the town spring up, spread, grow, and flourish in its pride; and they had seen it sicken and die, and pass away like a dream. With it their hopes had died, and their zest of life. They had long ago resigned themselves to their exile, and ceased to correspond with their distant friends or turn longing eyes toward their distant homes. They had accepted banishment, forgotten the world and been forgotten of the world. They were far from telegraphs and railroads, and they stood, as it were, in a living grave, dead to the events that stirred the globe’s great populations, dead to the common interests of men, isolated and outcast from brotherhood with their kind. It was the most singular, and almost the most touching and melancholy exile that fancy can imagine.
A HAWAIIAN TEMPLE
Near by is an interesting ruin—the meager remains of an ancient temple—a place where human sacrifices were offered up in those old by-gone days when the simple child of nature, yielding momentarily to sin when sorely tempted, acknowledged his error when calm reflection had shown it to him, and came forward with noble frankness and offered up his grandmother as an atoning sacrifice—in those old days when the luckless sinner could keep on cleansing his conscience and achieving periodical happiness as long as his relations held out; long, long before the missionaries braved a thousand privations to come and make them permanently miserable by telling them how beautiful and how blissful a place heaven is, and how nearly impossible it is to get there; and showed the poor native how dreary a place perdition is and what unnecessarily liberal facilities there are for going to it; showed him how, in his ignorance, he had gone and fooled away all his kinsfolk to no purpose; showed him what rapture it is to work all day long for fifty cents to buy food for next day with, as compared with fishing for a pastime and lolling in the shade through eternal summer, and eating of the bounty that nobody labored to provide but Nature. How sad it is to think of the multitudes who have gone to their graves in this beautiful island and never knew there was a hell.
A HAWAIIAN STATESMAN
The President is the King’s father. He is an erect, strongly built, massive-featured, white-haired, tawny old gentleman of eighty years of age, or thereabouts. He was simply but well dressed, in a blue cloth coat and white vest, and white pantaloons, without spot, dust, or blemish upon them. He bears himself with a calm, stately dignity, and is a man of noble presence. He was a young man and a distinguished warrior under that terrific fighter, Kamehameha I., more than half a century ago. A knowledge of his career suggested some such thought as this: “This man, naked as the day he was born, and war-club and spear in hand, has charged at the head of a horde of savages against other hordes of savages more than a generation and a half ago, and reveled in slaughter and carnage; has worshiped wooden images on his devout knees; has seen hundreds of his race offered up in heathen temples as sacrifices to wooden idols, at a time when no missionary’s foot had ever pressed this soil, and he had never heard of the white man’s God; has believed his enemy could secretly pray him to death; has seen the day, in his childhood, when it was a crime punishable by death for a man to eat with his wife, or for a plebeian to let his shadow fall upon the king—and now look at him an educated Christian; neatly and handsomely dressed; a high-minded, elegant gentleman; a traveler, in some degree, and one who has been the honored guest of royalty in Europe; a man practiced in holding the reins of an enlightened government, and well versed in the politics of his country and in general, practical information. Look at him, sitting there presiding over the deliberations of a legislative body, among whom are white men—a grave, dignified, statesmanlike personage, and as seemingly natural and fitted to the place as if he had been born in it and had never been out of it in his lifetime. How the experiences of this old man’s eventful life shame the cheap inventions of romance!”
Quite a broad tract of land near the temple, extending from the sea to the mountain, was sacred to the god Lono in olden times—so sacred that if a common native set his sacrilegious foot upon it, it was judicious for him to make his will, because his time had come. He might go around it by water, but he could not cross it. It was well sprinkled with pagan temples and stocked with awkward, homely idols carved out of logs of wood. There was a temple devoted to prayers for rain—and with fine sagacity it was placed at a point so well up on the mountain side that if you prayed there twenty-four times a day for rain you would be likely to get it every time. You would seldom get to your Amen before you would have to hoist your umbrella.
THE CRATER OF HALEAKALA
Presently, vagrant white clouds came drifting along, high over the sea and the valley; then they came in couples and groups; then in imposing squadrons; gradually joining their forces, they banked themselves solidly together, a thousand feet under us, and _totally shut out land and ocean_—not a vestige of _anything_ was left in view, but just a little of the rim of the crater, circling away from the pinnacle whereon we sat (for a ghostly procession of wanderers from the filmy hosts without had drifted through a chasm in the crater wall and filed round and round, and gathered and sunk and blended together till the abyss was stored to the brim with a fleecy fog). Thus banked, motion ceased, and silence reigned. Clear to the horizon, league on league, the snowy floor stretched without a break—not level, but in rounded folds, with shallow creases between, and here and there stately piles of vapory architecture lifting themselves aloft out of the common plain—some near at hand, some in the middle distances, and others relieving the monotony of the remote solitudes. There was little conversation, for the impressive scene overawed speech. I felt like the Last Man, neglected of the judgment, and left pinnacled in mid-heaven, a forgotten relic of a vanished world.
_FROM_ “THE GILDED AGE” (1873)
COLONEL SELLER’S GREAT IDEA
Washington was not able to ignore the cold entirely. He was nearly as close to the stove as he could get, and yet he could not persuade himself that he felt the slightest heat, notwithstanding the isinglass door was still gently and serenely glowing. He tried to get a trifle closer to the stove, and the consequence was he tripped the supporting poker and the stove-door tumbled to the floor. And then there was a revelation—there was nothing in the stove but a lighted tallow candle!
The poor youth blushed and felt as if he must die with shame. But the Colonel was only disconcerted for a moment—he straightaway found his voice again:
“A little idea of my own, Washington—one of the greatest things in the world! You must write and tell your father about it—don’t forget that, now. I have been reading up some European scientific reports—friend of mine, Count Fugier sent them to me—sends me all sorts of things from Paris—he thinks the world of me, Fugier does. Well, I saw that the Academy of France had been testing the properties of heat, and they came to the conclusion that it was a non-conductor or something like that, and of course its influence must necessarily be deadly in nervous organizations with excitable temperaments, especially where there is any tendency toward rheumatic affections. Bless you, I saw in a moment what was the matter with us, and says I, out goes your fires!—no more slow torture and certain death for me, sir. What you want is the _appearance_ of heat, not the heat itself—that’s the idea. Well, how to do it was the next thing. I just put my head to work, pegged away a couple of days, and here you are! Rheumatism? Why a man can’t any more start a case of rheumatism in this house than he can shake an opinion out of a mummy! Stove with a candle in it and transparent door—that’s it—it has been the salvation of this family. Don’t you fail to write your father about it, Washington. And tell him the idea is mine—I’m no more conceited than most people, I reckon, but you know it is human nature for a man to want credit for a thing like that.”
COLONEL SELLERS LETS HIMSELF OUT
The supper at Colonel Sellers’s was not sumptuous, in the beginning, but it improved on acquaintance. That is to say, that what Washington regarded at first sight as mere lowly potatoes, presently became awe-inspiring agricultural productions that had been reared in some ducal garden beyond the sea, under the sacred eye of the duke himself, who had sent them to Sellers; the bread was from corn which could be grown in only one favored locality in the earth and only a favored few could get it; the Rio coffee, which at first seemed execrable to the taste, took to itself an improved flavor when Washington was told to drink it slowly and not hurry what should be a lingering luxury in order to be fully appreciated—it was from the private stores of a Brazilian nobleman with an unrememberable name. The Colonel’s tongue was a magician’s wand that turned dried apples into figs and water into wine as easily as it could change a hovel into a palace and present poverty into imminent future riches.
Washington slept in a cold bed in a carpetless room and woke up in a palace in the morning; at least the palace lingered during the moment that he was rubbing his eyes and getting his bearings—and then it disappeared and he recognized that the Colonel’s inspiring talk had been influencing his dreams. Fatigue had made him sleep late; when he entered the sitting-room he noticed that the old haircloth sofa was absent; when he sat down to breakfast the Colonel tossed six or seven dollars in bills on the table, counted them over, said he was a little short and must call upon his banker; then returned the bills to his wallet with the indifferent air of a man who is used to money. The breakfast was not an improvement upon the supper, but the Colonel talked it up and transformed it into an oriental feast. By and by, he said:
“I intend to look out for you, Washington, my boy. I hunted up a place for you yesterday, but I am not referring to that, now—that is a mere livelihood—mere bread and butter; but when I say I mean to look out for you I mean something very different. I mean to put things in your way that will make a mere livelihood a trifling thing. I’ll put you in a way to make more money than you’ll ever know what to do with. You’ll be right here where I can put my hand on you when anything turns up. I’ve got some prodigious operations on foot; but I’m keeping quiet; mum’s the word; your old hand don’t go around pow-wowing and letting everybody see his k’yards and find out his little game. But all in good time, Washington, all in good time. You’ll see. Now, there’s an operation in corn that looks well. Some New York men are trying to get me to go into it—buy up all the growing crops and just boss the market when they mature—ah, I tell you, it’s a great thing. And it only costs a trifle; two millions or two and a half will do it. I haven’t exactly promised yet—there’s no hurry—the more indifferent I seem, you know, the more anxious those fellows will get. And then there is the hog speculation—that’s bigger still. We’ve got quiet men at work” (he was very impressive here), “mousing around, to get propositions out of all the farmers in the whole West and Northwest for the hog crop, and other agents quietly getting propositions and terms out of all the manufactories—and don’t you see, if we can get all the hogs and all the slaughter-houses into our hands on the dead quiet—whew! it would take three ships to carry the money. I’ve looked into the thing—calculated all the chances for and all the chances against, and though I shake my head and hesitate and keep on thinking, apparently, I’ve got my mind made up that if the thing can be done on a capital of six millions, that’s the horse to put up money on! Why, Washington—but what’s the use of talking about it—any man can see that there’s whole Atlantic oceans of cash in it, gulfs and bays thrown in. But there’s a bigger thing than that, yet—a bigger——”
“Why, Colonel, you can’t want anything bigger!” said Washington, his eyes blazing. “Oh, I wish I could go into either of those speculations—I only wish I had money—I wish I wasn’t cramped and kept down and fettered with poverty, and such prodigious chances lying right here in sight! Oh, it is a fearful thing to be poor. But don’t throw away those things—they are so splendid that I can see how sure they are. Don’t throw them away for something still better and maybe fail in it! I wouldn’t, Colonel. I would stick to these. I wish father were here and were his old self again. Oh, he never in his life had such chances as these are. Colonel, you _can’t_ improve on these—no man can improve on them!”
A sweet, compassionate smile played about the Colonel’s features, and he leaned over the table with the air of a man who is “going to show you” and do it without the least trouble:
“Why Washington, my boy, these things are nothing. They _look_ large—of course they look large to a novice—but to a man who has been all his life accustomed to large operations—pshaw! They’re well enough to while away an idle hour with, or furnish a bit of employment that will give a trifle of idle capital a chance to earn its bread while it is waiting for something to _do_, but—now just listen a moment—just let me give you an idea of what we old veterans of commerce call ‘business.’ Here’s the Rothschilds’ proposition—this is between you and me, you understand——”
Washington nodded three or four times impatiently, and his glowing eyes said, “Yes, yes—hurry—I understand——”
“——for I wouldn’t have it get out for a fortune. They want me to go in with them on the sly—agent was here two weeks ago about it—go in on the sly” (voice down to an impressive whisper, now) “and buy up a hundred and thirteen wildcat banks in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri—notes of these banks are at all sorts of discount now—average discount of the hundred and thirteen is forty-four per cent.—buy them all up, you see, and then all of a sudden let the cat out of the bag! Whiz! the stock of every one of those wildcats would spin up to a tremendous premium before you could turn a handspring—profit on the speculation not a dollar less than forty millions!” (An eloquent pause while the marvelous vision settled into W.’s focus.) “Where’s your hogs now! Why, my dear innocent boy, we would just sit down on the front doorsteps and peddle banks like lucifer matches!”
Washington finally got his breath and said:
“Oh, it is perfectly wonderful! Why couldn’t these things have happened in father’s day. And I—it’s of no use—they simply lie before my face and mock me. There is nothing for me to do but to stand helpless and see other people reap the astonishing harvest.”
“Never mind, Washington, don’t you worry. I’ll fix you. There’s plenty of chances. How much money have you got?”
In the presence of so many millions, Washington could not keep from blushing when he had to confess that he had but eighteen dollars in the world.
“Well, all right—don’t despair. Other people had been obliged to begin with less. I have a small idea that may develop into something for us both, all in good time. Keep your money close and add to it. I’ll make it breed. I’ve been experimenting (to pass away the time) on a little preparation for curing sore eyes—a kind of decoction nine-tenths water and the other tenth drugs that don’t cost more than a dollar a barrel; I’m still experimenting; there’s one ingredient wanted yet to perfect the thing, and somehow I can’t just manage to hit upon the thing that’s necessary, and I don’t dare talk with a chemist, of course. But I’m progressing, and before many weeks I wager the country will ring with the fame of Beriah Sellers’ Infallible Imperial Oriental Optic Liniment and Salvation for Sore Eyes—the Medical Wonder of the Age! Small bottles fifty cents, large ones a dollar. Average cost, five and seven cents for the two sizes. The first year sell, say, ten thousand bottles in Missouri, seven thousand in Iowa, three thousand in Arkansas, four thousand in Kentucky, six thousand in Illinois, and say twenty-five thousand in the rest of the country. Total, fifty-five thousand bottles; profit clear of all expenses, twenty thousand dollars at the very lowest calculation. All the capital needed is to manufacture the first two thousand bottles—say a hundred and fifty dollars—then the money would begin to flow in. The second year, sales would reach 200,000 bottles—clear profit, say, $75,000—and in the meantime the great factory would be building in St. Louis, to cost, say, $100,000. The third year we could easily sell 1,000,000 bottles in the United States and——”
“Oh, splendid!” said Washington. “Let’s commence right away—let’s——”
“——1,000,000 bottles in the United States—profit at least $350,000—and _then_ it would begin to be time to turn our attention toward the _real_ idea of the business.”
“The _real_ idea of it! Ain’t $350,000 a year pretty real——”
“Stuff! Why, what an infant you are, Washington—what a guileless, shortsighted, easily-contented innocent you are, my poor little country-bred know-nothing! Would I go to all that trouble and bother for the poor crumbs a body might pick up in _this_ country? Now do I look like a man who—does my history suggest that I am a man who deals in trifles, contents himself with the narrow horizon that hems in the common herd, sees no further than the end of his nose? Now, _you_ know that that is not me. Couldn’t be me. _You_ ought to know that if I throw my time and abilities into a patent medicine, it’s a patent medicine whose field of operations is the solid earth! its clients the swarming nations that inhabit it! Why what is the republic of America for an eye-water country? Lord bless you, it is nothing but a barren highway that you’ve got to cross to get _to_ the true eye-water market! Why, Washington, in the Oriental countries people swarm like the sands of the desert; every square mile of land upholds its thousands upon thousands of struggling human creatures—and every separate and individual devil of them’s got the ophthalmia! It’s as natural to them as noses are, and sin. It’s born with them, it stays with them, that’s all that some of them have left when they die. Three years of introductory trade in the Orient and what will be the result? Why, our headquarters would be in Constantinople and our hindquarters in Further India! Factories and warehouses in Cairo, Ispahan, Bagdad, Damascus, Jerusalem, Yedo, Peking, Bangkok, Delhi, Bombay, and Calcutta! Annual income—well, God only knows how many millions and millions apiece!”
Washington was so dazed, so bewildered—his heart and his eyes had wandered so far away among the strange lands beyond the seas, and such avalanches of coin and currency had fluttered and jingled confusedly down before him, that he was now as one who had been whirling round and round for a time, and stopping all at once, finds his surroundings still whirling and all objects a dancing chaos. However, little by little the Sellers family cooled down and crystallized into shape, and the poor room lost its glitter and resumed its poverty. Then the youth found his voice and begged Sellers to drop everything and hurry up the eye-water; and he got out his eighteen dollars and tried to force it upon the Colonel—pleaded with him to take it—implored him to do it. But the Colonel would not; said he would not need the capital (in his native magnificent way he called that eighteen dollars capital) till the eye-water was an accomplished fact. He made Washington easy in his mind, though, by promising that he would call for it just as soon as the invention was finished, and he added the glad tidings that nobody but just they two should be admitted to a share in the speculation.
When Washington left the breakfast table he worshiped that man.
_FROM_ “ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER” (1874–5)
A SPECULATION IN WHITEWASH
Saturday morning was come, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. There was a song in every heart; and if the heart was young the music issued at the lips. There was cheer in every face and a spring in every step. The locust trees were in bloom and the fragrance of the blossoms filled the air. Cardiff Hill, beyond the village and above it, was green with vegetation, and it lay just far enough away to seem a Delectable Land, dreamy, reposeful, and inviting.
Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden. Sighing he dipped his brush and passed it along the topmost plank; repeated the operation; did it again; compared the insignificant whitewashed streak with the far-reaching continent of unwhitewashed fence, and sat down on a tree box discouraged. Jim came skipping out at the gate with a tin pail, and singing “Buffalo Gals.” Bringing water from the town pump had always been hateful work in Tom’s eyes, before, but now it did not strike him so. He remembered that there was company at the pump. White, mulatto, and negro boys and girls were always there waiting their turns, resting, trading playthings, quarreling, fighting, skylarking. And he remembered that although the pump was only a hundred and fifty yards off, Jim never got back with a bucket of water under an hour—and even then somebody generally had to go after him. Tom said:
“Say, Jim, I’ll fetch the water if you’ll whitewash some.”
Jim shook his head and said:
“Can’t, Mars Tom. Ole missis, she tole me I got to go an’ git dis water an’ not stop foolin’ ’roun’ wid anybody. She say she spec Mars Tom gwine to ax me to whitewash, an’ so she tole me go ’long an’ ’tend to my own business—she ’lowed _she’d_ ’tend to de whitewashin’.”
“Oh, never you mind what she said, Jim. That’s the way she always talks. Gimme the bucket—I won’t be gone only a minute. _She_ won’t ever know.”
“Oh, I dasn’t Mars Tom. Ole missis she’d take an’ tar de head off’n me. ’Deed she would.”
“_She!_ She never licks anybody—whacks ’em over the head with her thimble—and who cares for that, I’d like to know. She talks awful, but talk don’t hurt—anyway it don’t if she don’t cry. Jim, I’ll give you a marvel. I’ll give you a white alley!”
Jim began to waver.
“White alley, Jim! And it’s a bully taw.”
“My! Dat’s a mighty gay marvel, _I_ tell you! But Mars Tom I’s powerful afraid ole missis——”
“And besides, if you will I’ll show you my sore toe.”
Jim was only human—this attraction was too much for him. He put down his pail, took the white alley, and bent over the toe with absorbing interest while the bandage was being unwound. In another moment he was flying down the street with his pail and a tingling rear, Tom was whitewashing with vigor, and Aunt Polly was retiring from the field with a slipper in her hand and triumph in her eye.
But Tom’s energy did not last. He began to think of the fun he had planned for this day, and his sorrows multiplied. Soon the free boys would come tripping along on all sorts of delicious expeditions, and they would make a world of fun of him for having to work—the very thought of it burnt him like fire. He got out his worldly wealth and examined it—bits of toys, marbles, and trash; enough to buy an exchange of _work_, maybe, but not half enough to buy so much as half an hour of pure freedom. So he returned his straitened means to his pocket, and gave up the idea of trying to buy the boys. At this dark and hopeless moment an inspiration burst upon him! Nothing less than a great, magnificent inspiration.
He took up his brush and went tranquilly to work. Ben Rogers hove in sight presently—the very boy, of all boys, whose ridicule he had been dreading. Ben’s gait was the hop-skip-and-jump—proof enough that his heart was light and his anticipations high. He was eating an apple, and giving a long, melodious whoop, at intervals, followed by a deep-toned ding-dong-dong, ding-dong-dong, for he was personating a steamboat. As he drew near, he slackened speed, took the middle of the street, leaned far over to starboard and rounded to, ponderously and with laborious pomp and circumstance—for he was personating the “Big Missouri,” and considered himself to be drawing nine feet of water. He was the boat and captain and engine-bells combined, so he had to imagine himself standing on his own hurricane deck; giving the orders and executing them: “Stop her, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling!” The headway ran almost out and he drew up slowly toward the sidewalk.
“Ship up to back! Ting-a-ling-ling!” His arms straightened and stiffened down his sides.
“Set her back on the starboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow! ch-chow-wow! Chow!” His right hand, meantime, describing stately circles—for it was representing a forty-foot wheel.
“Let her go back on the labboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow-ch-chow chow!” The left hand began to describe circles.
“Stop the stabboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Stop the labboard! Come ahead on the stabboard! Stop her! Let your outside turn over slow! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow-ow-ow! Get out that head-line! _Lively_ now! Come—out with your spring-line—what’re you about there! Take a turn round that stump with the bight of it! Stand by that stage, now—let her go! Done with the engines, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling! _Sh’t! sh’t! sh’t!”_ (trying the gauge-cocks).
Tom went on whitewashing—paid no attention to the steamboat. Ben stared a moment and then said:
“Hi-_yi. You’re_ up a stump, ain’t you!”
No answer. Tom surveyed his last touch with the eye of an artist, then he gave his brush another gentle sweep and surveyed the result, as before. Ben ranged up alongside of him. Tom’s mouth watered for the apple, but he stuck to his work. Ben said—
“Hello, old chap, you got to work, hey?”
Tom wheeled suddenly and said:
“Why, it’s you Ben! I warn’t noticing.”
“Say—_I’m_ going in a swimming, _I_ am. Don’t you wish you could? But of course you’d ruther _work_—wouldn’t you? Course you would!”
Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said:
“What do you call work?”
“Why, ain’t _that_ work?”
Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly:
“Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t. All I know, is, it suits Tom Sawyer.”
“Oh, come, now, you don’t mean to let on that you _like_ it?”
The brush continued to move.
“Like it? Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?”
That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily—added a touch here and there—criticised the effect again—Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:
“Say, Tom, let _me_ whitewash a little.”
Tom considered, was about to consent; but he altered his mind:
“No—no—I reckon it wouldn’t hardly do, Ben. You see, Aunt Polly’s awful particular about this fence—right here on the street, you know—but if it was the back fence I wouldn’t mind and _she_ wouldn’t. Yes, she’s awful particular about this fence; it’s got to be done very careful; I reckon there ain’t one boy in a thousand, maybe two thousand, that can do the way it’s got to be done.”
“No—is that so? Oh come, now—lemme just try. Only just a little—I’d let _you_, if you was me, Tom.”
“Ben, I’d like to, honest injun; but Aunt Polly—well, Jim wanted to do it, but she wouldn’t let him. Sid wanted to do it, and she wouldn’t let Sid. Now don’t you see how I’m fixed? If you was to tackle this fence and anything was to happen to it——”
“Oh, shucks, I’ll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say—I’ll give you the core of my apple.”
“Well, here—— No, Ben, now don’t. I’m afeard——”
“I’ll give you _all_ of it!”
Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart. And while the late steamer “Big Missouri” worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash. By the time Ben was fagged out, Tom had traded the next chance to Billy Fisher for a kite, in good repair; and when _he_ played out, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to swing it with—and so on, and so on, hour after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth. He had beside the things before mentioned, twelve marbles, part of a jew’s-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn’t unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar—but no dog—the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated old window-sash.
He had had a nice, good, idle time all the while—plenty of company—and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If he hadn’t run out of whitewash, he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.
TOM FALLS IN LOVE
As he was passing by the house where Jeff Thatcher lived, he saw a new girl in the garden—a lovely little blue-eyed creature with yellow hair plaited into two long tails, white summer frock and embroidered pantalettes. The fresh-crowned hero fell without firing a shot. A certain Amy Lawrence vanished out of his heart and left not even a memory of herself behind. He had thought he loved her to distraction; he had regarded his passion as adoration; and behold it was only a poor little evanescent partiality. He had been months winning her; she had confessed hardly a week ago; he had been the happiest and the proudest boy in the world only seven short days, and here in one instant of time she had gone out of his heart like a casual stranger whose visit is done.
He worshiped this new angel with furtive eye, till he saw that she had discovered him; then he pretended he did not know she was present, and began to “show off” in all sorts of absurd boyish ways, in order to win her admiration. He kept up this grotesque foolishness for some time; but by and by, while he was in the midst of some dangerous gymnastic performances, he glanced aside and saw that the little girl was wending her way toward the house. Tom came up to the fence and leaned on it, grieving, and hoping she would tarry yet a while longer. She halted a moment on the steps and then moved toward the door. Tom heaved a great sigh as she put her foot on the threshold. But his face lit up, right away, for she tossed a pansy over the fence a moment before she disappeared.
Huckleberry came and went, at his own free will. He slept on doorsteps in fine weather and in empty hogsheads in wet; he did not have to go to school or to church, or call any being master or obey anybody; he could go fishing or swimming when and where he chose, and stay as long as it suited him; nobody forbade him to fight; he could sit up as late as he pleased; he was always the first that went barefoot in the spring and the last to resume leather in the fall; he never had to wash, nor put on clean clothes; he could swear wonderfully. In a word, everything that goes to make life precious, that boy had. So thought every harassed, hampered, respectable boy in St. Petersburg.
THE PIRATES’ ISLAND
They built a fire against the side of a great log, twenty or thirty steps within the somber depths of the forest, and then cooked some bacon in the frying-pan for supper, and used up half of the corn “pone” stock they had brought. It seemed glorious sport to be feasting in that wild free way in the virgin forest of an unexplored and uninhabited island, far from the haunts of men, and they said they never would return to civilization. The climbing fire lit up their faces and threw its ruddy glare upon the pillared tree-trunks of their forest temple, and upon the varnished foliage and festooning vines.
Gradually their talk died out and drowsiness began to steal upon the eyelids of the little waifs. The pipe dropped from the fingers of the Red-Handed, and he slept the sleep of the conscience-free and the weary. The Terror of the Seas and the Black Avenger of the Spanish Main had more difficulty in getting to sleep. They said their prayers inwardly, and lying down, since there was nobody there with authority to make them kneel and recite aloud; in truth, they had a mind not to say them at all, but they were afraid to proceed to such lengths as that, lest they might call down a sudden and special thunderbolt from Heaven....
When Tom awoke in the morning, he wondered where he was. He sat up and rubbed his eyes and looked around. Then he comprehended. It was the cool gray dawn, and there was a delicious sense of repose and peace in the deep pervading calm and silence of the woods. Not a leaf stirred; not a sound obtruded upon great Nature’s meditation. Beaded dewdrops stood upon the leaves and grasses. A white layer of ashes covered the fire, and a thin blue breath of smoke rose straight into the air. Joe and Huck still slept.
TOM LEARNS TO SMOKE
After a dainty egg and fish dinner, Tom said he wanted to learn to smoke, now. Joe caught at the idea and said he would like to try, too. So Huck made pipes and filled them. These novices had never smoked anything before but cigars made of grapevine, and they “bit” the tongue, and were not considered manly anyway.
Now they stretched themselves out on their elbows and began to puff, charily, and with slender confidence. The smoke had an unpleasant taste, and they gagged a little, but Tom said:
“Why, it’s just as easy! If I’d a knowed _this_ was all, I’d a learnt long ago.”
“So would I,” said Joe. “It’s just nothing.”
“Why, many a time I’ve looked at people smoking, and thought ‘well, I wish I could do that’; but I never thought I could,” said Tom.
“That’s just the way with me, hain’t it, Huck? You’ve heard me talk just that way—haven’t you Huck? I’ll leave it to Huck if I haven’t.”
“Yes—heaps of times,” said Huck.
“Well, I have too,” said Tom; “oh, hundreds of times. Once down by the slaughter-house. Don’t you remember, Huck? Bob Tanner was there, and Johnny Miller, and Jeff Thatcher, when I said it. Don’t you remember, Huck, ’bout me saying that?”
“Yes, that’s so,” said Huck. “That was the day after I lost a white alley. No, ’twas the day before.”
“There—I told you so,” said Tom. “Huck recollects it.”
“I bleeve I could smoke this pipe all day,” said Joe. “_I_ don’t feel sick.”
“Neither do I,” said Tom. “_I_ could smoke it all day. But I bet you Jeff Thatcher couldn’t.”
“Jeff Thatcher! Why, he’d keel over just with two draws. Just let him try it once. _He’d_ see!”
“I bet he would. And Johnny Miller—I wish I could see Johnny Miller tackle it once.”
“Oh, don’t _I_!” said Joe, “Why, I bet you Johnny Miller couldn’t any more do this than nothing. Just one little snifter would fetch _him_.”
“’Deed it would, Joe. Say—I wish the boys could see us now.”
“So do I.”
“Say—boys, don’t say anything about it, and sometime when they’re around, I’ll come up to you and say ‘Joe, got a pipe? I want a smoke.’ And you’ll say, kind of careless like, as if it warn’t anything, you’ll say, ‘Yes, I got my _old_ pipe, and another one, but my tobacker ain’t very good.’ And I’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s all right, if it’s _strong_ enough.’ And then you’ll out with the pipes, and we’ll light up just as ca’m, and then just see ’em look!”
“By jings, that’ll be gay, Tom! I wish it was _now_!”
“So do I! And when we tell ’em we learned when we was off pirating, won’t they wish they’d been along?”
“Oh, I reckon not! I’ll just _bet_ they will!”
So the talk ran on. But presently it began to flag a trifle, and grow disjointed. The silences widened; the expectoration marvelously increased. Every pore inside the boys’ cheeks became a spouting fountain; they could scarcely bail out the cellars under their tongues fast enough to prevent an inundation; little overflowings down their throats occurred in spite of all they could do, and sudden retchings followed every time. Both boys were looking very pale and miserable, now. Joe’s pipe dropped from his nerveless fingers. Tom’s followed. Both fountains were going furiously and both pumps bailing with might and main. Joe said feebly:
“I’ve lost my knife. I reckon I better go and find it.”
Tom said, with quivering lips and halting utterance:
“I’ll help you. You go over that way and I’ll hunt around by the spring. No, you needn’t come, Huck—we can find it.”
So Huck sat down again, and waited an hour. Then he found it lonesome, and went to find his comrades. They were wide apart in the woods, both very pale, both fast asleep. But something informed him that if they had had any trouble they had got rid of it.
They were not talkative at supper that night. They had a humble look, and when Huck prepared his pipe after the meal and was going to prepare theirs, they said no, they were not feeling very well—something they ate at dinner had disagreed with them.
_FROM_ “THE STOLEN WHITE ELEPHANT” (1878)
DESCRIBING AN ELEPHANT
“There are cases in detective history to show that criminals have been detected through peculiarities in their appetites. Now, what does this elephant eat? and how much?”
“Well, as to _what_ he eats—he will eat _anything_. He will eat a man, he will eat a Bible—he will eat anything _between_ a man and a Bible.”
“Good—very good, indeed, but too general. Details are necessary—details are the only valuable thing in our trade. Very well—as to men: At one meal—or, if you prefer, during one day—how many men will he eat, if fresh?”
“He would not care whether they were fresh or not; at a single meal he would eat five ordinary men.”
“Very good; five men; we will put that down. What nationalities would he prefer?”
“He is indifferent about nationalities. He prefers acquaintances, but is not prejudiced against strangers.”
“Very good. Now, as to Bibles. How many Bibles would he eat at a meal?”
“He would eat an entire edition.”
“Now that is more exact. I will put that down. Very well; he likes men and Bibles; so far, so good. What else will he eat? I want particulars.”
“He will leave Bibles to eat bricks, he will leave bricks to eat bottles, he will leave bottles to eat clothing, he will leave clothing to eat cats, he will leave cats to eat oysters, he will leave oysters to eat ham, he will leave ham to eat sugar, he will leave sugar to eat pie, he will leave pie to eat potatoes, he will leave potatoes to eat bran, he will leave bran to eat hay, he will leave hay to eat oats, he will leave oats to eat rice, for he was mainly raised on it. There is nothing whatever that he will not eat but European butter, and he would eat that if he could taste it.”
“Very good. General quantity at a meal—say about——”
“Well, anywhere from a quarter to a half a ton.”
“And he drinks——”
“Everything that is fluid. Milk, water, whisky, molasses, castor oil, camphene, carbolic acid—it is no use to go into particulars; whatever fluid occurs to you set it down. He will drink anything that is fluid, except European coffee.”
_FROM_ “A TRAMP ABROAD” (1878–9)
One day we took the train and went down to Mannheim to see King Lear played in German. It was a mistake. We sat in our seats three whole hours and never understood anything but the thunder and lightning; and even that was reversed to suit German ideas, for the thunder came first and the lightning followed after.... Another time we went to Mannheim and attended a shivaree—otherwise an opera—the one called Lohengrin. The banging and slamming and booming and crashing were something beyond belief. The racking and pitiless pain of it remains stored up in my memory alongside the memory of the time that I had my teeth fixed. There were circumstances which made it necessary for me to stay through the four hours to the end, and I stayed; but the recollection of that long, dragging, relentless season of suffering is indestructible. To have to endure it in silence, and sitting still, made it all the harder. I was in a railed compartment with eight or ten strangers, of the two sexes, and this compelled repression; yet at times the pain was so exquisite that I could hardly keep the tears back. At those times, as the howlings and wailings and shriekings of the singers, and the ragings and roarings and explosions of the vast orchestra rose higher and higher, and wilder and wilder, and fiercer and fiercer, I could have cried if I had been alone. Those strangers would not have been surprised to see a man do such things who was being gradually skinned, but they would have marveled at it here, and made remarks about it, no doubt, whereas there was nothing in the present case which was an advantage over being skinned. There was a wait of half an hour at the end of the first act, and I could have gone out and rested during that time, but I could not trust myself to do it, for I felt that I should desert and stay out. There was another wait of half an hour toward nine o’clock, but I had gone through so much by that time that I had no spirit left, and so had no desire but to be let alone.
I do not wish to suggest that the rest of the people there were like me, for, indeed, they were not. Whether it was that they naturally liked that noise, or whether it was that they had learned to like it by getting used to it, I did not at that time know; but they did like it—this was plain enough. While it was going on they sat and looked rapt and grateful as cats do when one strokes their backs; and whenever the curtain fell they rose to their feet, in one solid mighty multitude, and the air was snowed thick with waving handkerchiefs, and hurricanes of applause swept the place. This was not comprehensible to me. Of course, there were many people there who were not under compulsion to stay; yet the tiers were as full at the close as they had been at the beginning. This showed that the people liked it....
I suppose there are two kinds of music—one kind which one feels, just as an oyster might, and another sort which requires a higher faculty, a faculty which must be assisted and developed by teaching. Yet if base music gives certain of us wings, why should we want any other? But we do. We want it because the higher and better like it. But we want it without giving it the necessary time and trouble; so we climb into that upper tier, that dress circle, by a lie; we _pretend_ we like it. I know several of that sort of people—and I propose to be one of them myself when I get home with my fine European education.
At last all sleepiness forsook me. I recognized the fact that I was hopelessly and permanently wide-awake. Wide-awake, and feverish and thirsty. When I had lain tossing there as long as I could endure it, it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to dress and go out in the great square and take a refreshing wash in the fountain, and smoke and reflect there until the remnant of the night was gone.
I believed I could dress in the dark without waking Harris. I had banished my shoes after the mouse, but my slippers would do for a summer night. So I rose softly, and gradually got on everything—down to one sock. I couldn’t seem to get on the track of that sock, any way I could fix it. But I had to have it; so I went down on my hands and knees, with one slipper on and the other in my hand, and began to paw gently around and rake the floor, but with no success. I enlarged my circle, and went on pawing and raking. With every pressure of my knee, how the floor creaked! and every time I chanced to rake against any article, it seemed to give out thirty-five or thirty-six times more noise than it would have in the daytime. In those cases I always stopped and held my breath till I was sure Harris had not awakened—then I crept along again. I moved on and on, but I could not find the sock; I could not seem to find anything but furniture. I could not remember that there was much furniture in the room when I went to bed, but the place was alive with it now—especially chairs—chairs everywhere—had a couple of families moved in, in the meantime? And I never could seem to glance on one of those chairs, but always struck it full and square with my head. My temper rose, by steady and sure degrees, and as I pawed on and on, I fell to making vicious comments under my breath.
Finally, with a venomous access of irritation, I said I would leave without the sock; so I rose up and made straight for the door—as I supposed—and suddenly confronted my dim spectral image in the mirror. It startled the breath out of me, for an instant; it was also showed me that I was lost, and had no sort of idea where I was. When I realized this, I was so angry that I had to sit down on the floor and take hold of something to keep from lifting the roof off with an explosion of opinion. If there had been only one mirror, it might possibly have helped to locate me; but there were two, and two were as bad as a thousand; besides, these were on opposite sides of the room. I could see the dim blur of the windows, but in my turned-around condition they were exactly where they ought not to be, and so they only confused me instead of helping me.
I started to get up, and knocked down an umbrella; it made a noise like a pistol-shot when it struck that hard, slick, carpetless floor; I grated my teeth and held my breath—Harris did not stir. I set the umbrella slowly and carefully against the wall, but as soon as I took my hand away, its heel slipped from under it and down it came again with another bang. I shrunk together and listened a moment in silent fury—no harm done, everything quiet. With the most painstaking care and nicety I stood the umbrella up once more, took my hand away, and down it came again.
I have been strictly reared, but if it had not been so dark and solemn and awful there in that lonely, vast room, I do believe I should have said something then which could not have been put in a Sunday-school book without injuring the sale of it. If my reasoning powers had not been already sapped dry by my harassments, I would have known better than to try to set an umbrella on end on one of those glassy German floors in the dark; it can’t be done in the daytime without four failures to one success. I had one comfort, though—Harris was yet still and silent—he had not stirred.
The umbrella could not locate me—there were four standing around the room, and all alike. I thought I would feel along the wall and find the door in that way. I rose up and began this operation, but raked down a picture. It was not a large one, but it made noise enough for a panorama. Harris gave out no sound, but I felt that if I experimented any further with the pictures I should be sure to wake him. Better give up trying to get out. Yes, I would find King Arthur’s Round Table once more—I had already found it several times—and used it for a base of departure on an exploring tour for my bed; if I could find my bed I could find my water-pitcher. I would quench my raging thirst and turn in. So I started on my hands and knees, because I could go faster that way, and with more confidence, too, and not knock things down. By and by I found the table—with my head—rubbed the bruise a little, then rose up and started, with hands abroad and fingers spread, to balance myself. I found a chair; then the wall; then another chair; then a sofa; then an alpenstock, then another sofa; this confounded me, for I had thought there was only one sofa. I hunted up the table again and took a fresh start; found some more chairs.
It occurred to me, now, as it ought to have done before, that as the table was round, it was therefore no value as a place to aim from; so I moved off once more and at random among the wilderness of chairs and sofas—wandered off into unfamiliar regions, and presently knocked a candlestick off a mantelpiece and knocked off a lamp, grabbed at the lamp and knocked off a water-pitcher with a rattling crash, and thought to myself, “I’ve found you at last—I judged I was close upon you.” Harris shouted “murder,” and “thieves,” and finished with “I’m absolutely drowned.”
The crash had roused the house. Mr. X. pranced in, in his long night-garment, with a candle, young Z. after him with another candle; a procession swept in at another door, with candles and lanterns—landlord and two German guests in their nightgowns, and a chambermaid in hers.
I looked around; I was at Harris’s bed, a sabbath day’s journey from my own. There was only one sofa; it was against the wall; there was only one chair where a body could get at it—I had been revolving around it like a planet, and colliding with it like a comet half the night.
I explained how I had been employing myself, and why. Then the landlord’s party left, and the rest of us set about our preparations for breakfast, for the dawn was ready to break. I glanced furtively at my pedometer, and found I had made 47 miles. But I did not care, for I had come out for a pedestrian tour anyway.
I have a prejudice against people who print things in a foreign language and add no translation. When I am the reader, and the author considers me able to do the translating myself, he pays me quite a nice compliment—but if he would do the translating for me I would try to get along without the compliment.
REFLECTIONS ON THE ANT
Now and then, while we rested, we watched the laborious ant at his work. I found nothing new in him—certainly nothing to change my opinion of him. It seems to me that in the matter of intellect the ant must be a strangely overrated bird. During many summers, now, I have watched him, when I ought to have been in better business, and I have not yet come across a living ant that seemed to have any more sense than a dead one. I refer to the ordinary ant, of course; I have had no experience of those wonderful Swiss and African ones which vote, keep drilled armies, hold slaves, and dispute about religion. Those particular ants may be all that the naturalist paints them, but I am persuaded that the average ant is a sham. I admit his industry, of course; he is the hardest working creature in the world—when anybody is looking—but his leather-headedness is the point I make against him. He goes out foraging, he makes a capture, and then what does he do? Go home? No—he goes anywhere but home. He doesn’t know where home is. His home may be only three feet away,—no matter, he can’t find it. He makes his capture, as I have said; it is generally something which can be of no sort of use to himself or anybody else; it is usually seven times bigger than it ought to be; he lifts it bodily up in the air by main force and starts; not toward home, but in the opposite direction; not calmly and wisely, but with a frantic haste which is wasteful of his strength; he fetches up against a pebble, and instead of going around it, he climbs over it backwards dragging his booty after him, tumbles down on the other side, jumps up in a passion, kicks the dust off his clothes, moistens his hands, grabs his property viciously, yanks it this way, then that, shoves it ahead of him a moment, turns tail and lugs it after him another moment, gets madder and madder, then presently hoists it into the air and goes tearing away in an entirely new direction; comes to a weed; it never occurs to him to go around it; no, he must climb it; and he does climb it, dragging his worthless property to the top—which is as bright a thing to do as it would be for me to carry a sack of flour from Heidelberg to Paris by way of Strasburg steeple; when he gets up there he finds that that is not the place; takes a cursory glance at the scenery and either climbs down again or tumbles down, and starts off once more—as usual in a new direction. At the end of half an hour, he fetches up within six inches of the place he started from and lays his burden down; meantime he has been over all the ground for two yards around, and climbed all the weeds and pebbles he came across. Now he wipes the sweat from his brow, strokes his limbs, and then marches aimlessly off, in as violent a hurry as ever. He traverses a good deal of zig-zag country, and by and by stumbles on his same booty again. He does not remember ever having seen it before; he looks around to see which is not the way home, grabs his bundle and starts; he goes through the same adventures he had before; finally stops to rest, and a friend comes along. Evidently the friend remarks that a last year’s grasshopper leg is a very noble acquisition, and inquires where he got it. Evidently the proprietor does not remember exactly where he did get it, but thinks he got it “around here somewhere.” Evidently the friend contracts to help him freight it home. Then, with a judgment peculiarly antic (pun not intentional), they take hold of opposite ends of that grasshopper leg and begin to tug with all their might in opposite directions. Presently they take a rest and confer together. They decide that something is wrong, they can’t make out what. Then they go at it again, just as before. Same result. Mutual recriminations follow. Evidently each accuses the other of being an obstructionist. They warm up, and the dispute ends in a fight. They lock themselves together and chew each other’s jaws for a while; then they roll and tumble on the ground till one loses a horn or a leg and has to haul off for repairs. They make up and go to work again in the same old insane way, but the crippled ant is at a disadvantage; tug as he may, the other one drags off the booty and him at the end of it. Instead of giving up, he hangs on, and gets his shins bruised against every obstruction that comes in the way. By and by, when that grasshopper leg has been dragged all over the same old ground once more, it is finally dumped at about the spot where it originally lay, the two perspiring ants inspect it thoughtfully and decide that dried grasshopper legs are a poor sort of property after all, and then each starts off in a different direction to see if he can’t find an old nail or something else that is heavy enough to afford entertainment and at the same time valueless enough to make an ant want to own it.
FOREIGN QUOTATIONS AGAIN
When really learned men write books for other learned men to read, they are justified in using as many learned words as they please—their audience will understand them; but a man that writes a book for the general public to read is not justified in disfiguring his pages with untranslated foreign expressions. It is an insolence toward the majority of the purchasers, for it is a very frank and impudent way of saying, “Get the translations made yourself, if you want them; this book is not written for the ignorant classes.” There are men who know a foreign language so well and have used it so long in their daily life that they seem to discharge whole volleys of it into their English writings unconsciously, and so they omit to translate, as much as half the time. That is a great cruelty to nine out of ten of the man’s readers. What is the excuse for this? The writer would say he only uses the foreign language where the delicacy of his point cannot be conveyed in English. Very well, then he writes his best things for the tenth man, and he ought to warn the other nine not to buy his book. However, the excuse he offers is at least an excuse; but there is another set of men who ... know a _word_ here and there, of a foreign language, or a few beggarly little three-word phrases, filched from the back of the dictionary, and these they are continually peppering into their literature, with a pretense of knowing that language—what excuse can they offer? The foreign words and phrases which they use have their exact equivalents in a nobler language—English; yet they think they “adorn their page” when they say _Strasse_ for street, and _Bahnhof_ for railway station, and so on—flaunting these fluttering rags of poverty in the reader’s face, and imagining he will be ass enough to take them for the sign of untold riches held in reserve.
There was something subduing in the influence of that silent and solemn and awful presence; one seemed to meet the immutable, the indestructible, the eternal, face to face, and to feel the trivial and fleeting nature of his own existence the more sharply by the contrast. One had the sense of being under the brooding contemplation of a spirit, not an inert mass of rocks and ice—a spirit which had looked down, through the slow drift of the ages, upon a million vanished races of men, and judged them; and would judge a million more—and still be there, watching, unchanged and unchangeable, after all life should be gone and the earth have become a vacant desolation.
While I was feeling these things, I was groping, without knowing it, toward an understanding of what the spell is which people find in the Alps, and in no other mountains—that strange, deep, nameless influence, which once felt, cannot be forgotten—once felt, leaves always behind it a restless longing to feel it again—a longing which is like homesickness; a grieving, haunting yearning, which will plead, implore, and persecute till it has its will. I met dozens of people, imaginative and unimaginative, cultivated and uncultivated, who had come from far countries and roamed through the Swiss Alps year after year—they could not explain why. They had come first, they said, out of idle curiosity, because everybody talked about it; they had come since because they could not help it, and they should keep on coming, while they lived, for the same reason; they had tried to break their chains and stay away, but it was futile; now, they had no desire to break them. Others came nearer formulating what they felt: they said they could find perfect rest and peace nowhere else when they were troubled; all frets and worries and chafings sank to sleep in the presence of the benignant serenity of the Alps: the Great Spirit of the Mountain breathed his own peace upon their hurt minds and sore hearts, and healed them; they could not think base thoughts or do mean and sordid things here, before the visible throne of God.
CLIMBING THE GEMMI PASS
When we began that ascent, we could see a microscopic chalet perched away up against heaven on what seemed to be the highest mountain near us. It was on our right, across the narrow head of the valley. But when we got up abreast it on its own level, mountains were towering high above on every hand, and we saw that its altitude was just about that of the little Gasternthal which we had visited the evening before. Still it seemed a long way up in the air, in that waste and lonely wilderness of rocks. It had an unfenced grass-plot in front of it which seemed about as big as a billiard table, and this grass plot slanted so sharply downwards, and was so brief, and ended so exceedingly soon at the verge of the absolute precipice, that it was a shuddery thing to think of a person’s venturing to trust his foot on an incline so situated at all. Suppose a man stepped on an orange peel in that yard; there would be nothing for him to seize; nothing could keep him from rolling; five revolutions would bring him to the edge, and over he would go. What a frightful distance he would fall!—for there are very few birds that fly as high as his starting-point. He would strike and bounce, two or three times, on his way down, but this would be no advantage to him. I would as soon take an airing on the slant of a rainbow as in such a front yard. I would rather, in fact, for the distance down would be about the same, and it is pleasanter to slide than to bounce.
DESCENT OF GEMMI PASS
We began our descent, now, by the most remarkable road I have ever seen. It wound in corkscrew curves down the face of the colossal precipice—a narrow way, with always the solid rock wall at one elbow, and perpendicular nothingness at the other. We met an everlasting procession of guides, porters, mules, litters, and tourists climbing up this steep and muddy path, and there was no room to spare when you had to pass a tolerably fat mule. I always took the inside, when I heard or saw the mule coming, and flattened myself against the wall. I preferred the inside, of course, but I should have had to take it anyhow, because the mule prefers the outside. A mule’s preference—on a precipice—is a thing to be respected. Well, his choice is always the outside. His life is mostly devoted to carrying bulky panniers and packages which rest against his body—therefore he is habituated to taking the outside edge of mountain paths, to keep his bundles from rubbing against rocks or banks on the other. When he goes into the passenger business he absurdly clings to his old habit, and keeps one leg of his passenger always dangling over the great deeps of the lower world while that passenger’s heart is in the highlands, so to speak. More than once I saw a mule’s hind foot cave out over the outer edge and send earth and rubbish into the bottomless abyss; and I noticed that upon these occasions the rider, whether male or female, looked tolerably unwell.
There was one place where an 18–inch breadth of light masonry had been added to the verge of the path, and as there was a very sharp turn, here, a panel of fencing had been set up there at some ancient time, as a protection. This panel was old and gray and feeble, and the light masonry had been loosened by recent rains. A young American girl came along on a mule, and in making the turn the mule’s hind foot caved all the loose masonry and one of the fence posts overboard; the mule gave a violent lurch inboard to save himself, and succeeded in the effort, but the girl turned as white as the snow of Mont Blanc for a moment.
The path here was simply a groove cut in the face of the precipice; there was a four-foot breadth of solid rock under the traveler, and a four-foot breadth of solid rock just above his head, like the roof of a narrow porch; he could look out from this gallery and see a sheer summitless and bottomless wall of rock before him, across a gorge or crack a biscuit’s toss in width—but he could not see the bottom of his own precipice unless he lay down and projected his nose over the edge. I did not do this, because I did not wish to soil my clothes.
There is probably no pleasure equal to the pleasure of climbing a dangerous Alp; but it is a pleasure which is confined strictly to people who can find pleasure in it. I have not jumped to this conclusion; I have traveled to it per gravel train, so to speak. I have thought the whole thing out, and am quite sure I am right. A born climber’s appetite for climbing is hard to satisfy; when it comes upon him he is like a starving man with a feast before him; he may have other business on hand, but it must wait. Mr. Girdlestone had had his usual summer holiday in the Alps, and had spent it in the usual way, hunting for unique chances to break his neck; his vacation was over, and his luggage packed for England, but all of a sudden a hunger had come upon him to climb the tremendous Weisshorn once more, for he had heard of a new and utterly impossible route up it. His baggage was unpacked at once, and now he and a friend, laden with knapsacks, ice-axes, coils of rope, and canteens of milk, were just setting out. They would spend the night high up among the snows, somewhere, and get up at two in the morning and finish the enterprise. I had a strong desire to go with them, but forced it down—a feat which Mr. Girdlestone, with all his fortitude, could not do.
THE OLD MASTERS
We visited the picture galleries and the other regulation “sights” of Milan—not because I wanted to write about them again, but to see if I had learned anything in twelve years. I afterwards visited the great galleries of Rome and Florence for the same purpose. I found I had learned one thing. When I wrote about the Old Masters before, I said the copies were better than the originals. That was a mistake of large dimensions. The Old Masters were still unpleasing to me, but they were truly divine contrasted with the copies. The copy is to the original as the pallid, smart, inane new waxwork group is to the vigorous, earnest, dignified group of living men and women whom it professes to duplicate. There is a mellow richness, a subdued color, in the old pictures, which is to the eye what muffled and mellowed sound is to the ear. That is the merit which is most loudly praised in the old picture, and is the one which the copy most conspicuously lacks, and which the copyist must not hope to compass. It was generally conceded by the artists with whom I talked, that that subdued splendor, that mellow richness, is imparted to the picture by _age_. Then why should we worship the Old Master for it, who didn’t impart it, instead of worshiping Old Time, who did? Perhaps the picture was a clanging bell, until time muffled it and sweetened it.
In conversation with an artist in Venice, I asked,
“What is it that people see in Old Masters? I have been in the Doge’s palace and I saw several acres of very bad drawing, very bad perspective, and very incorrect proportions. Paul Veronese’s dogs do not resemble dogs; all the horses look like bladders on legs; one man had a _right_ leg on the left side of his body; in the large picture where the Emperor (Barbarossa?) is prostrate before the Pope, there are three men in the foreground who are over thirty feet high, if one may judge by the size of a kneeling little boy in the center of the foreground; and according to the same scale, the Pope is 7 feet high and the Doge is a shriveled dwarf of 4 feet.”
The artist said:
“Yes, the Old Masters often drew badly; they did not care much for truth and exactness in minor details; but after all, in spite of bad drawing, bad perspective, bad proportions, and a choice of subjects which no longer appeal to people as strongly as they did three hundred years ago, there is a _something_ about their pictures which is divine—a something which is above and beyond the art of any epoch since—a something which would be the despair of artists but that they never hope or expect to attain it, and therefore do not worry about it.”
That is what he said—and he said what he believed; and not only believed, but felt.
Reasoning—especially reasoning without technical knowledge—must be put aside, in cases of this kind. It cannot assist the inquirer. It will lead him, in the most logical progression, to what, in the eyes of the artists, would be a most illogical conclusion. Thus: bad drawing, bad proportions, bad perspective, indifference to truthful detail, color which gets its merit from time, and not from the artist—these things constitute the Old Master; conclusion, the Old Master was a bad painter, the Old Master was not an Old Master at all, but an Old Apprentice. Your friend the artist will grant your premises, but deny your conclusion; he will maintain that notwithstanding this formidable list of confessed defects, there is still a something that is divine and unapproachable about the Old Master, and that there is no arguing the fact away by any system of reasoning whatever.
I can believe that. There are women who have an indefinable charm in their faces which makes them beautiful to their intimates; but a cold stranger who tried to reason the matter out and find this beauty would fail. He would say of one of these women: This chin is too short, this nose is too long, this forehead is too high, this hair is too red, this complexion is too pallid, the perspective of the entire composition is incorrect; conclusion, the woman is not beautiful. But her nearest friend might say, and say truly, “Your premises are right, your logic is faultless, but your conclusion is wrong, nevertheless; she is an Old Master—she is beautiful, but only to such as know her; it is a beauty which cannot be formulated, but it is there just the same.”
I found more pleasure in contemplating the Old Masters this time than I did when I was in Europe in former years, but still it was a calm pleasure; there was nothing overheated about it.
_FROM_ “LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI” (1874–5)
THE PERMANENT AMBITION
When I was a boy, there was but one permanent ambition among my comrades in our village on the west bank of the Mississippi River. That was to be a steamboatman. We had transient ambitions of other sorts, but they were only transient. When a circus came and went, it left us all burning to become clowns; the first negro minstrel show that ever came to our section left us all suffering to try that kind of life; now and then we had a hope that, if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates. These ambitions faded out, each in its turn; but the ambition to be a steamboatman always remained.
My father was a justice of the peace, and I supposed he possessed the power of life and death over all men, and could hang anybody that offended him. This was distinction enough for me as a general thing; but the desire to be a steamboatman kept intruding, nevertheless. I first wanted to be a cabin-boy, so that I could come out with a white apron on and shake a tablecloth over the side, where all my old comrades could see me; later I thought I would rather be the deckhand who stood on the end of the stage-plank with the coil of rope in his hand, because he was particularly conspicuous. But these were only day-dreams—they were too heavenly to be contemplated as real possibilities. By and by one of our boys went away. He was not heard of for a long time. At last he turned up as apprentice engineer or “striker” on a steamboat. This thing shook the bottom out of all my Sunday-school teachings. That boy had been notoriously worldly, and I just the reverse; yet he was exalted to this eminence, and I left in obscurity and misery.
This creature’s career could produce but one result, and it speedily followed. Boy after boy managed to get on the river. The minister’s son became an engineer. The doctor’s and the postmaster’s sons became “mud clerks”; the wholesale liquor dealer’s son became a barkeeper on a boat; four sons of the chief merchant, and two sons of the county judge, became pilots. Pilot was the grandest position of all. The pilot, even in those days of trivial wages, had a princely salary—from a hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty dollars a month, and no board to pay. Two months of his wages would pay a preacher’s salary for a year. Now some of us were left disconsolate. We could not get on the river—at least our parents would not let us.
So, by and by, I ran away. I said I would never come home again till I was a pilot and could come in glory.
FIRST LESSONS IN PILOTING
The boat backed out from New Orleans at four in the afternoon, and it was “our watch” until eight. Mr. Bixby, my chief, “straightened her up,” ploughed her along past the sterns of the other boats that lay at the Levee, and then said, “Here, take her; shave those steamships as close as you’d peel an apple.” I took the wheel, and my heart-beat fluttered up into the hundreds; for it seemed to me that we were about to scrape the side of every ship in the line, we were so close. I held my breath and began to claw the boat away from the danger; and I had my own opinion of the pilot who had known no better than to get us into such peril, but I was too wise to express it. In half a minute I had a wide margin of safety intervening between the _Paul Jones_ and the ships; and within ten seconds more I was set aside in disgrace, and Mr. Bixby was going into danger again and flaying me alive with abuse of my cowardice. I was stung, but I was obliged to admire the easy confidence with which my chief loafed from side to side of his wheel, and trimmed the ships so closely that disaster seemed ceaselessly imminent. When he had cooled a little he told me that the easy water was close ashore and the current outside, and therefore we must hug the bank, up-stream, to get the benefit of the former, and stay well out, down-stream, to take advantage of the latter. In my own mind I resolved to be a down-stream pilot and leave the up-streaming to people dead to prudence.
Now and then Mr. Bixby called my attention to certain things. Said he, “This is Six-Mile Point.” I assented. It was pleasant enough information, but I could not see the bearing of it. I was not conscious that it was a matter of any interest to me. Another time he said, “This is Nine-Mile Point.” Later he said, “This is Twelve-Mile Point.” They were all about level with the water’s edge; they all looked about alike to me; they were monotonously unpicturesque. I hoped Mr. Bixby would change the subject. But no; he would crowd up around a point, hugging the shore with affection, and then say: “The slack water ends here, abreast this bunch of China-trees; now we cross over.” So he crossed over. He gave me the wheel once or twice, but I had no luck. I either came near chipping off the edge of a sugar plantation, or I yawed too far from shore, and so dropped back into disgrace again and got abused.
The watch was ended at last, and we took supper and went to bed. At midnight the glare of a lantern shone in my eyes, and the night watchman said:
“Come, turn out!”
And then he left. I could not understand this extraordinary procedure; so I presently gave up trying to, and dozed off to sleep. Pretty soon the watchman was back again, and this time he was gruff. I was annoyed. I said:
“What do you want to come bothering around here in the middle of the night for? Now, as like as not, I’ll not get to sleep again to-night.”
The watchman said:
“Well, if this ain’t good, I’m blessed.”
The “off-watch” was just turning in, and I heard some brutal laughter from them, and such remarks as, “Hello, watchman! ain’t the new cub turned out yet? He’s delicate likely. Give him some sugar in a rag, and send for the chambermaid to sing ‘Rock-a-bye Baby,’ to him.”
About this time Mr. Bixby appeared on the scene. Something like a minute later I was climbing the pilot-house steps with some of my clothes on and the rest in my arms. Mr. Bixby was close behind, commenting. Here was something fresh—this thing of getting up in the middle of the night to go to work. It was a detail in piloting that had never occurred to me at all. I knew that boats ran all night, but somehow I had never happened to reflect that somebody had to get up out of a warm bed to run them. I began to fear that piloting was not quite so romantic as I had imagined it was; there was something very real and worklike about this new phase of it.
It was rather a dingy night, although a fair number of stars were out. The big mate was at the wheel, and he had the old tub pointed at a star and was holding her straight up the middle of the river. The shores on either hand were not much more than half a mile apart, but they seemed wonderfully far away and ever so vague and indistinct. The mate said:
“We’ve got to land at Jones’s plantation, sir.”
The vengeful spirit in me exulted. I said to myself, “I wish you joy of your job, Mr. Bixby; you’ll have a good time finding Mr. Jones’s plantation such a night as this; and I hope you never _will_ find it as long as you live.”
Mr. Bixby said to the mate:
“Upper end of the plantation, or the lower?”
“I can’t do it. The stumps there are out of the water at this stage. It’s no great distance to the lower, and you’ll have to get along with that.”
“All right, sir. If Jones don’t like it, he’ll have to lump it, I reckon.”
And then the mate left. My exultation began to cool and my wonder to come up. Here was a man who not only proposed to find this plantation on such a night, but to find either end of it you preferred. I dreadfully wanted to ask a question, but I was carrying about as many short answers as my cargo-room would admit of, so I held my peace. All I desired to ask Mr. Bixby was the simple question whether he was ass enough to really imagine he was going to find that plantation on a night when all plantations were exactly alike, and all the same color. But I held in. I used to have fine inspirations of prudence in those days.
Mr. Bixby made for the shore and soon was scraping it, just the same as if it had been daylight. And not only that but singing:
“Father in heaven, the day is declining,” etc.
It seemed to me that I had put my life into the keeping of a peculiarly reckless outcast. Presently he turned on me and said:
“What’s the name of the first point above New Orleans?”
I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn’t know.
This manner jolted me. I was down at the foot again, in a moment. But I had to say just what I had said before.
“Well, you’re a smart one!” said Mr. Bixby. “What’s the name of the _next_ point?”
Once more I didn’t know.
“Well, this beats anything. Tell me the name of any point or place I told you.”
I studied a while and decided that I couldn’t.
“Look here! What do you start out from, above Twelve-Mile Point, to cross over?”
“You—you—don’t know?” mimicking my drawling manner of speech. “What _do_ you know?”
“I—I—nothing, for certain.”
“By the great Cæsar’s ghost, I believe you! You’re the stupidest dunderhead I ever saw or ever heard of, so help me Moses! The idea of _you_ being a pilot—_you_! Why you don’t know enough to pilot a cow down a lane.”
Oh, but his wrath was up! He was a nervous man, and he shuffled from one side of his wheel to the other as if the floor was hot. He would boil a while to himself, and then overflow and scald me again.
“Look here! What do you suppose I told you the names of those points for?”
I tremblingly considered a moment, and the devil of temptation provoked me to say:
“Well—to—to—be entertaining, I thought.”
This was a red flag to the bull. He raged and stormed so (he was crossing the river at the time) that I judge it made him blind, because he ran over the steering-gear of a trading-scow. Of course the traders sent up a volley of red-hot profanity. Never was a man so grateful as Mr. Bixby was; because he was brimful, and here were subjects who could _talk back_. He threw open a window, thrust his head out and such an eruption followed as I never had heard before. The fainter and farther away the scowmen’s curses drifted, the higher Mr. Bixby lifted his voice and the weightier his adjectives grew. When he closed the window he was empty. You could have drawn a seine through his system and not caught curses enough to disturb your mother with. Presently he said to me in the gentlest way:
“My boy, you must get a little memorandum book; and every time I tell you a thing, put it down right away. There’s only one way to be a pilot, and that is to get this entire river by heart. You have to know it just like A B C.”
That was a dismal revelation to me; for my memory was never loaded with anything but blank cartridges. However, I did not feel discouraged long. I judged that it was best to make allowances, for doubtless Mr. Bixby was “stretching.” Presently he pulled a rope and struck a few strokes on the big bell. The stars were all gone now, and the night was as black as ink. I could hear the wheels churn along the bank, but I was not entirely certain that I could see the shore. The voice of the invisible watchman called up from the hurricane deck:
“What’s this, sir?”
I said to myself, “I wish that I might venture to offer a small bet that it isn’t,” But I did not chirp. I only waited to see. Mr. Bixby handled the engine bells, and in due time the boat’s nose came to the land, a torch glowed from the forecastle, a man skipped ashore, a darkey’s voice on the bank said, “Gimme de k’yarpet bag, Mass’ Jones,” and the next moment we were standing up the river again, all serene. I reflected deeply a while, and then said—but not aloud—“Well, the finding of that plantation was the luckiest accident that ever happened; but it couldn’t happen again in a hundred years.”
At the end of what seemed a tedious while, I had managed to pack my head full of islands, towns, bars, “points,” and bends, and a curiously inanimate mass of lumber it was, too. However, inasmuch as I could shut my eyes and reel off a good long string of these names without leaving out more than ten miles of river in every fifty, I began to feel that I could take a boat down to New Orleans if I could make her skip those little gaps. But of course my complacency could hardly get start enough to lift my nose a trifle into the air, before Mr. Bixby would think of something to fetch it down again. One day he turned on me suddenly with this settler:
“What is the shape of Walnut Bend?”
He might as well have asked me my grandmother’s opinion of protoplasm. I reflected respectfully, and then said I didn’t know it had any particular shape. My gunpowdery chief went off with a bang, of course, and then went on loading and firing until he was out of adjectives.
I had learned long ago that he only carried just so many rounds of ammunition and was sure to subside into a very placable and even remorseful old smoothbore as soon as they were all gone. That word “old” is merely affectionate; he was not more than thirty-four. I waited. By and by he said:
“My boy, you’ve got to know the _shape_ of the river perfectly. It is all there is left to steer by on a very dark night. Everything else is blotted out and gone. But mind you, it hasn’t the same shape in the night that it has in the daytime.”
“How on earth am I ever going to learn it then?”
“How do you follow a hall at home in the dark? Because you know the shape of it. You can’t see it.”
“Do you mean to say that I’ve got to know all the million trifling variations of shape in the banks of this interminable river as well as I know the shape of the front hall at home?”
“On my honor, you’ve got to know them _better_ than any man ever did know the shapes of the halls in his own house.”
“I wish I was dead!”
“Now, I don’t want to discourage you, but——”
“Well, pile it on me; I might as well have it now as another time.”
“You see, this has got to be learned; there isn’t any getting around it. A clear starlight night throws such heavy shadows that, if you didn’t know the shape of a shore perfectly, you would claw away from every bunch of timber, because you would take the black shadow of it for a solid cape; and you see you would be getting scared to death every fifteen minutes by the watch. You would be fifty yards from shore all the time when you ought to be within fifty feet of it. You can’t see a snag in one of those shadows, but you know exactly where it is, and the shape of the river tells you when you are coming to it. Then there’s your pitch-dark night; the river is a very different shape on a pitch-dark night from what it is on a starlight night. All shores seem to be straight lines, then, and mighty dim ones, too; and you’d _run_ them for straight lines, only you know better. You boldly drive your boat right into what seems to be a solid, straight wall (you knowing very well that in reality there is a curve there), and that wall falls back and makes way for you. Then there’s your gray mist. You take a night when there’s one of these grisly drizzly, gray mists, and then there isn’t _any_ particular shape to a shore. A gray mist would tangle the head of the oldest man that ever lived. Well, then, different kinds of _moonlight_ change the shape of the river in different ways. You see——”
“Oh, don’t say any more, please! Have I got to learn the shape of the river according to all these five hundred thousand different ways? If I tried to carry all that cargo in my head it would make me stoop-shouldered.”
“_No!_ you only learn the shape of _the_ river; and you learn it with such absolute certainty that you can always steer by the shape that’s _in your head_, and never the one that’s before your eyes.”
“Very well, I’ll try it; but, after I have learned it, can I depend on it? Will it keep the same form and not go fooling around?”
Before Mr. Bixby could answer, Mr. W. came in to take the watch and he said:
“Bixby, you’ll have to look out for President’s Island, and all that country clear away up above the Old Hen and Chickens. The banks are caving and the shape of the shore changing like everything. Why you wouldn’t know the point above 40. You can go up inside the old sycamore snag, now.”
So that question was answered. Here were leagues of shore changing shape. My spirits were down in the mud again. Two things seemed pretty apparent to me. One was, that in order to be a pilot a man has got to learn more than any one man ought to be allowed to know; and the other was, that he must learn it all over again in a different way every twenty-four hours.
That night we had the watch until twelve. Now it was an ancient river custom for the two pilots to chat a bit when the watch changed. While the relieving pilot put on his gloves and lit his cigar, his partner, the retiring pilot, would say something like this:
“I judge the upper bar is making down a little at Hale’s Point; had quarter twain with the lower lead and mark twain with the other.”
“Yes, I thought it was making down a little, last trip. Meet any boats?”
“Met one abreast the head of 21, but she was away over hugging the bar, and I couldn’t make her out entirely. I took her for the _Sunny South_—hadn’t any skylight forward of the chimneys.”
And so on. And as the relieving pilot took the wheel his partner would mention that we were in such-and-such a bend, and say we were abreast of such a man’s woodyard or plantation. This was courtesy; I supposed it was _necessity_. But Mr. W. came on watch full twelve minutes late on this particular night—a tremendous breach of etiquette; in fact, it is the unpardonable sin among pilots. So Mr. Bixby gave him no greeting whatever, but simply surrendered the wheel and marched out of the pilot-house without a word. I was appalled; it was a villainous night for blackness, we were in a particularly wide and blind part of the river, where there was no shape or substance to anything, and it seemed incredible that Mr. Bixby should have left that poor fellow to kill the boat trying to find out where he was. But I resolved that I would stand by him anyway. He should find that he was not wholly friendless. So I stood around, and waited to be asked where we were. But Mr. W. plunged on serenely through the solid firmament of black cats that stood for an atmosphere and never opened his mouth. “He is a proud devil!” thought I; “here is a limb of Satan that would rather send us all to destruction than put himself under obligations to me, because I am not yet one of the salt of the earth and privileged to snub captains and lord it over everything dead and alive in a steamboat.” I presently climbed up on the bench; I did not think it was safe to go to sleep while this lunatic was on watch.
However, I must have gone to sleep in the course of time, because the next thing I was aware of was the fact that day was breaking, Mr. W. gone, and Mr. Bixby at the wheel again. So it was four o’clock and all well—but me; I felt like a skinful of dry bones, and all of them trying to ache at once.
Mr. Bixby asked me what I had stayed up there for. I confessed that it was to do Mr. W. a benevolence—tell him where he was. It took five minutes for the entire preposterousness of the thing to filter into Mr. Bixby’s system, and then I judged it filled him nearly up to the chin; because he paid me a compliment—and not much of a one either. He said:
“Well, taking you by and large, you seem to be more different kinds of an ass than any creature I ever saw before. What did you suppose he wanted to know for?”
I said I thought it might be a convenience to him.
“Convenience! D——nation! Didn’t I tell you that a man’s got to know the river in the night the same as he’d know his front hall?”
“Well, I can follow the front hall in the dark if I know it _is_ the front hall; but suppose you set me down in the middle of it in the dark and did not tell me which hall it is; how am I to know?”
“Well, you’ve _got_ to, on the river!”
“All right. Then I’m glad I never said anything to Mr. W.”
“I should say so! Why, he’d have slammed you through the window and utterly ruined a hundred dollars’ worth of window-sash and stuff.”
I was glad this damage had been saved, for it would have made me unpopular with the owners. They always hated anybody who had the name of being careless and injuring things.
I went to work now to learn the shape of the river; and of all the eluding and ungraspable objects that ever I tried to get mind or hands on, that was the chief. I would fasten my eyes upon a sharp, wooded point that projected far into the river some miles ahead of me, and go laboriously photographing its shape into my brain; and just as I was beginning to succeed to my satisfaction, we would draw up toward it and the exasperating thing would begin to melt away and fold back into the bank! If there had been a conspicuous dead tree standing up in the very point of the cape, I would find that tree inconspicuously merged into the general forest, and occupying the middle of a straight shore, when I got abreast of it! No prominent hill would stick to its shape long enough for me to make up my mind what its form really was, but it was as dissolving and changeful as if it had been a mountain of butter in the hottest corner of the tropics. Nothing ever had the same shape when I was coming down-stream that it had borne when I went up. I mentioned these little difficulties to Mr. Bixby. He said:
“That’s the very main virtue of the thing. If the shapes didn’t change every three seconds they wouldn’t be of any use. Take this place where we are now, for instance. As long as that hill over yonder is only one hill, I can boom right along the way I’m going; but the moment it splits at the top and forms a V, I know I’ve got to scratch to starboard in a hurry, or I’ll bang this boat’s brains out against a rock; and then the moment one of the prongs of the V swings behind the other, I’ve got to waltz to larboard again, or I’ll have a misunderstanding with a snag that would snatch the keelson out of this steamboat as neatly as if it were a sliver in your hand. If that hill didn’t change its shape on bad nights there would be an awful steamboat graveyard around here inside of a year.”
It was plain that I had got to learn the shape of the river in all the different ways that could be thought of,—upside down, wrong end first, inside out, fore-and-aft, and “thortships,”—and then know what to do on gray nights when it hadn’t any shape at all. So I set about it. In the course of time I began to get the best of this knotty lesson, and my self-complacency moved to the front once more. Mr. Bixby was all fixed, and ready to start it to the rear again. He opened on me in this fashion:
“How much water did we have in the middle crossing at Hole-in-the-Wall, trip before last?”
I considered this an outrage. I said:
“Every trip, down and up, the leadsmen are singing through that tangled place for three-quarters of an hour on a stretch. How do you reckon I can remember such a mess as that?”
“My boy, you’ve got to remember it. You’ve got to remember the exact spot and the exact marks the boat lay in when we had the shoalest water, in every one of the five hundred shoal places between St. Louis and New Orleans; and you mustn’t get the shoal soundings and marks of one trip mixed up with the shoal soundings and marks of another, either, for they’re not often twice alike. You must keep them separate.”
When I came to myself again, I said:
“When I get so that I can do that, I’ll be able to raise the dead, and then I won’t have to pilot a steamboat to make a living. I want to retire from this business. I want a slush-bucket and a brush; I’m only fit for a roustabout. I haven’t got brains enough to be a pilot; and if I had I wouldn’t have strength enough to carry them around unless I went on crutches.”
“Now, drop that! When I say I’ll learn a man the river, I mean it. And you can depend on it, I’ll learn him or kill him.”
A TEST OF COURAGE
The growth of courage in the pilot-house is steady all the time, but it does not reach a high and satisfactory condition until sometime after the young pilot has been “standing his own watch” alone and under the staggering weight of all the responsibilities connected with the position. When an apprentice has become pretty thoroughly acquainted with the river, he goes clattering along so fearlessly with his steamboat, night or day, that he presently begins to imagine that it is _his_ courage that animates him; but the first time the pilot steps out and leaves him to his own devices he finds out it was the other man’s. He discovers that the article has been left out of his own cargo altogether. The whole river is bristling with exigencies in a moment; he is not prepared for them; he does not know how to meet them; all his knowledge forsakes him; and within fifteen minutes he is as white as a sheet and scared almost to death. Therefore, pilots wisely train these cubs by various strategic tricks to look danger in the face a little more calmly. A favorite way of theirs is to play a friendly swindle upon the candidate.
Mr. Bixby served me in this fashion once, and for years afterward I used to blush, even in my sleep, when I thought of it. I had become a good steersman; so good, indeed, that I had all the work to do on our watch, night and day. Mr. Bixby seldom made a suggestion to me; all he ever did was to take the wheel on particularly bad nights or in particularly bad crossings, land the boat when she needed to be landed, play gentleman of leisure nine-tenths of the watch, and collect the wages. The lower river was about bank-full, and if anybody had questioned my ability to run any crossing between Cairo and New Orleans without help or instruction, I should have felt irreparably hurt. The idea of being afraid of any crossing in the lot, in the _daytime_, was a thing too preposterous for contemplation. Well, one matchless summer’s day I was bowling down the bend above Island 66, brim full of self-conceit and carrying my nose as high as a giraffe’s, when Mr. Bixby said:
“I am going below a while. I suppose you know the next crossing?”
This was almost an affront. It was about the plainest and simplest crossing in the whole river. One couldn’t come to any harm, whether he ran it right or not; and as for depth, there never had been any bottom there. I knew all this perfectly well.
“Know how to _run_ it? Why, I can run it with my eyes shut.”
“How much water is there in it?”
“Well, that is an odd question. I couldn’t get bottom there with a church steeple.”
“You think so, do you?”
The very tone of the question shook my confidence. That was what Mr. Bixby was expecting. He left, without saying anything more. I began to imagine all sorts of things. Mr. Bixby, unknown to me, of course, sent somebody down to the forecastle with some mysterious instructions to the leadsmen, another messenger was sent to whisper among the officers, and then Mr. Bixby went into hiding behind a smoke-stack where he could observe results. Presently the captain stepped out on the hurricane deck; next the chief mate appeared; then a clerk. Every moment or two a straggler was added to my audience; and before I got to the head of the island I had fifteen or twenty people assembled down there under my nose. I began to wonder what the trouble was. As I started across, the captain glanced aloft at me and said, with a sham uneasiness in his voice:
“Where is Mr. Bixby?”
“Gone below, sir.”
But that did the business for me. My imagination began to construct dangers out of nothing, and they multiplied faster than I could keep the run of them. All at once I imagined I saw shoal water ahead! The wave of coward agony that surged through me then came near dislocating every joint in me. All my confidence in that crossing vanished. I seized the bell-rope; dropped it, ashamed; seized it again; dropped it once more; clutched it tremblingly once again, and pulled it so feebly that I could hardly hear the stroke myself. Captain and mate sang out instantly, and both together:
“Starboard lead there! and quick about it!” This was another shock. I began to climb the wheel like a squirrel; but I would hardly get the boat started to port before I would see new dangers on that side, and away I would spin to the other; only to find perils accumulating to starboard, and be crazy to get to port again. Then came the leadsman’s sepulchral cry:
Deep four in a bottomless crossing! The terror of it took my breath away.
“M-a-r-k three! M-a-r-k three! Quarter-less-three! Half twain!”
This was frightful! I seized the bell-rope and stopped the engines.
“Quarter twain! Quarter twain! _Mark_ twain!”
I was helpless. I did not know what in the world to do. I was quaking from head to foot, and I could have hung my hat on my eyes, they stuck out so far.
We were _drawing_ nine! My hands were in a nerveless flutter. I could not ring a bell intelligibly with them. I flew to the speaking-tube and shouted to the engineer:
“Oh, Ben, if you love me, _back_ her! Quick, Ben! Oh, back the immortal _soul_ out of her!”
I heard the door close gently. I looked around, and there stood Mr. Bixby, smiling, a bland, sweet smile. Then the audience on the hurricane deck sent up a thundergust of humiliating laughter. I saw it all, now, and I felt meaner than the meanest man in human history. I laid in the lead, set the boat in her marks, came ahead on the engines, and said:
“It was a fine trick to play on an orphan, _wasn’t_ it? I suppose I’ll never hear the last of how I was ass enough to heave the lead at the head of 66.”
“Well, no, you won’t, maybe. In fact I hope you won’t; for I want you to learn something by that experience. Didn’t you know there was no bottom in that crossing?”
“Yes, sir, I did.”
“Very well, then. You shouldn’t have allowed me or anybody else to shake your confidence in that knowledge. Try to remember that. And another thing: when you get into a dangerous place, don’t turn coward. That isn’t going to help matters any.”
It was a good enough lesson, but pretty hardly learned. Yet about the hardest part of it was that for months I so often had to hear a phrase which I had conceived a particular distaste for. It was, “Oh, Ben, if you love me, back her!”
_FROM_ “THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER” (1877–80)
BIRTHS OF HIGH AND LOW DEGREE
In the ancient city of London, on a certain autumn day, in the second quarter of the sixteenth century, a boy was born to a poor family of the name of Canty, who did not want him. On the same day another English child was born to a rich family of the name of Tudor, who did want him. All England wanted him, too. England had so longed for him, and hoped for him, and prayed God for him, that, now that he was really come, the people went nearly mad for joy. Mere acquaintances hugged and kissed each other and cried. Everybody took a holiday, and high and low, rich and poor, feasted and danced and sang, and got very mellow; and they kept this up for days and nights together. By day, London was a sight to see, with gay banners waving from every balcony and housetop, and splendid pageants marching along. By night it was again a sight to see, with its great bonfires at every corner, and its troops of revelers making merry around them. There was no talk in all England but of the new baby, Edward Tudor, Prince of Wales, who lay lapped in silks and satins, unconscious of all this fuss, and not knowing that great lords and ladies were tending him and watching over him—and not caring, either. But there was no talk about the other baby, Tom Canty, lapped in his poor rags, except among the family of paupers whom he had just come to trouble with his presence.
THE CANTY HOME
The house which Tom’s father lived in was up a foul little pocket called Offal Court, out of Pudding Lane. It was small, decayed, and rickety, but it was packed full of wretchedly poor families. Canty’s tribe occupied a room on the third floor. The mother and father had a sort of bedstead in the corner; but Tom, his grandmother, and his two sisters, Bet and Nan, were not restricted—they had all the floor to themselves, and might sleep where they chose. There were the remains of a blanket or two, and some bundles of ancient and dirty straw, but these could not rightly be called beds, for they were not organized; they were kicked into a general pile mornings, and selections made from the mass at night, for service.
This structure, which had stood for six hundred years, and had been a noisy and populous thoroughfare all that time, was a curious affair, for a closely packed rank of stores and shops, with family quarters overhead, stretched along both sides of it, from one bank of the river to the other. The Bridge was a sort of a town to itself; it had its inn, its beer houses, its bakeries, its haberdasheries, its food markets, its manufacturing industries and even its church. It looked upon the two neighbors which it linked together—London and Southwark—as being well enough, as suburbs, but not otherwise particularly important. It was a close corporation, so to speak; it was a narrow town, of a single street a fifth of a mile long, its population was but a village population, and everybody in it knew all his fellow townsmen intimately, and had known their fathers and mothers before them—and all their little family affairs into the bargain. It had its aristocracy, of course—its fine old families of butchers, and bakers, and what-not, who had occupied the same old premises for five or six hundred years, and knew the great history of the Bridge from beginning to end, and all its strange legends; and who always talked bridgy talk, and thought bridgy thoughts, and lied in a long, level, direct, substantial bridgy way.
TOM CANTY, KING
He opened his eyes—the richly clad First Lord of the Bedchamber was kneeling by his couch. The gladness of the lying dream faded away—the poor boy recognized that he was still a captive and a king. The room was filled with courtiers clothed in purple mantles—the mourning color—and with noble servants of the monarch. Tom sat up in bed and gazed out from the heavy silken curtains upon this fine company.
The weighty business of dressing began, and one courtier after another knelt and paid his court and offered to the little king his condolences upon his heavy loss, while the dressing proceeded. In the beginning, a shirt was taken up by the Chief Equerry in Waiting, who passed it to the First Lord of the Buckhounds, who passed it to the Second Gentleman of the Bedchamber, who passed it to the Head Ranger of Windsor Forest, who passed it to the Third Groom of the Stole, who passed it to the Chancellor Royal of the Duchy of Lancaster, who passed it to the Master of the Wardrobe, who passed it to Norroy King-at-Arms, who passed it to the Constable of the Tower, who passed it to the Chief Steward of the Household, who passed it to the Hereditary Grand Diaperer, who passed it to the Lord High Admiral of England, who passed it to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who passed it to the First Lord of the Bedchamber, who took what was left of it and put it on Tom. Poor little wondering chap, it reminded him of passing buckets at a fire....
A secretary of state presented an order of the Council appointing the morrow at eleven for the reception of the foreign ambassadors, and desired the king’s assent.
Tom turned an inquiring look toward Hertford, who whispered:
“Your majesty will signify consent. They come to testify their royal masters’ sense of the heavy calamity which hath visited your grace and the realm of England.”
Tom did as he was bidden. Another secretary began to read a preamble concerning the expenses of the late king’s household, which had amounted to £28,000 during the preceding six months—a sum so vast that it made Tom Canty gasp; he gasped again when the fact appeared that £20,000 of this money were still owing and unpaid; and once more when it appeared that the king’s coffers were about empty, and his twelve hundred servants much embarrassed for lack of the wages due them. Tom spoke out, with lively apprehension.
“We be going to the dogs, ’tis plain. ’Tis meet and necessary that we take a smaller house and set the servants at large, sith they be of no value but to make delay, and trouble one with offices that harass the spirit and shame the soul, they misbecoming any but a doll, that hath nor brains nor hands to help itself withal. I remember me of a small house that standeth over against the fish-market, by Billingsgate——”
A sharp pressure upon Tom’s arm stopped his foolish tongue and sent a blush to his face; but no countenance there betrayed any sign that this strange speech had been remarked or given concern.
THE LITTLE KING IN PRISON
Hendon’s arts all failed with the king—he could not be comforted, but a couple of women who were chained near him, succeeded better. Under their gentle ministrations he found peace and learned a degree of patience. He was very grateful, and came to love them dearly and to delight in the sweet and soothing influence of their presence. He asked them why they were in prison, and when they said they were Baptists, he smiled and inquired:
“Is that a crime to be shut up for in a prison? Now I grieve, for I shall lose ye—they will not keep ye long for such a little thing.”
They did not answer; and something in their faces made him uneasy. He said, eagerly:
“You do not speak—be good to me, and tell me—there will be no other punishment? Prithee, tell me there is no fear of that.”
They tried to change the topic, but his fears were aroused, and he pursued it:
“Will they scourge thee? No, no, they would not be so cruel! Say they would not. Come, they _will_ not, will they?”
The women betrayed confusion and distress, but there was no avoiding an answer, so one of them said, in a voice choked with emotion:
“Oh, thou’lt break our hearts, thou gentle spirit! God will help us to bear our——”
“It is a confession!” the king broke in. “Then they _will_ scourge thee, the stony-hearted wretches. But oh, thou must not weep, I cannot bear it. Keep up thy courage—I shall come to my own in time to save thee from this bitter thing and I will do it!”
When the king awoke in the morning, the women were gone.
“They are saved!” he said, joyfully; then added, despondently, “but woe is me!—for they were my comforters.”
Each of them had left a shred of ribbon pinned to his clothing, in token of remembrance. He said he would keep these things always; and that soon he would seek out these dear good friends of his and take them under his protection.
Just then the jailer came in with some subordinates and commanded that the prisoners be conducted to the jail-yard. The king was overjoyed—it would be a blessed thing to see the blue sky and breathe the fresh air once more. He fretted and chafed at the slowness of the officers, but his turn came at last and he was released from his staple and ordered to follow the other prisoners, with Hendon.
The court, or quadrangle, was stone-paved, and open to the sky. The prisoners entered it through a massive archway of masonry, and were placed in file, standing, with their backs against the wall. A rope was stretched in front of them, and they were also guarded by their officers. It was a chill and lowering morning, and a light snow which had fallen during the night whitened the great empty space and added to the general dismalness of its aspect. Now and then a wintry wind shivered through the place and sent the snow eddying hither and thither.
In the center of the court stood two women, chained to posts. A glance showed the king that these were his good friends. He shuddered, and said to himself, “Alack, they are not gone free, as I had thought. To think that such as these should know the lash!—in England! Ay, there’s the shame of it—not in Heathenesse, but Christian England! They will be scourged; and I, whom they have comforted and kindly entreated, must look on and see the great wrong done; it is strange, so strange! that I, the very source of power in this broad realm, am helpless to protect them. But let these miscreants look well to themselves, for there is a day coming when I will require of them a heavy reckoning for this work. For every blow they strike now they shall feel a hundred then.”
A great gate swung open and a crowd of citizens poured in. They flocked around the two women, and hid them from the king’s view. A clergyman entered and passed through the crowd, and he also was hidden. The king now heard talking, back and forth, as if questions were being asked and answered, but he could not make out what was said. Next there was a deal of bustle and preparation, and much passing and repassing of officials through that part of the crowd that stood on the further side of the women; and while this proceeded a deep hush gradually fell upon the people.
Now, by command, the masses parted and fell aside, and the king saw a spectacle that froze the marrow in his bones. Fagots had been piled about the two women, and a kneeling man was lighting them!
The women bowed their heads, and covered their faces with their hands; the yellow flames began to climb upward among the snapping and crackling fagots, and wreaths of blue smoke to stream away on the wind; the clergyman lifted his hands and began a prayer—just then two young girls came flying through the great gate, uttering piercing screams, and threw themselves upon the women at the stake. Instantly they were torn away by the officers, and one of them was kept in a tight grip, but the other broke loose, saying she would die with her mother; and before she could be stopped she had flung her arms about her mother’s neck again. She was torn away once more, and with her gown on fire. Two or three men held her, and the burning portion of her gown was snatched off and thrown flaming aside, she struggling all the while to free herself, and saying she would be alone in the world now, and begging to be allowed to die with her mother. Both the girls screamed continually, and fought for freedom; but suddenly this tumult was drowned under a volley of heart-piercing shrieks of mortal agony. The king glanced from the frantic girls to the stake, then turned away and leaned his ashen face against the wall, and looked no more. He said, “That which I have seen, in that one little moment, will never go out from my memory, but will abide there; and I shall see it all the days, and dream of it all the nights, till I die. Would God I had been blind!”
Hendon was watching the king. He said to himself, with satisfaction, “His disorder mendeth; he hath changed, and groweth gentler. If he had followed his wont, he would have stormed at these varlets, and said he was king, and commanded that the women be turned loose unscathed. Soon his delusion will pass away and be forgotten, and his poor mind will be whole again. God speed the day!”
That same day several prisoners were brought in to remain over night, who were being conveyed, under guard, to various places in the kingdom, to undergo punishment for crimes committed. The king conversed with these,—he had made it a point, from the beginning, to instruct himself for the kingly office by questioning prisoners whenever the opportunity offered—and the tale of their woes wrung his heart. One of them was a poor half-witted woman who had stolen a yard or two of cloth from a weaver—she was to be hanged for it. Another was a man who had been accused of stealing a horse; he said the proof had failed, and he had imagined that he was safe from the halter; but no—he was hardly free before he was arraigned for killing a deer in the king’s park; this was proved against him, and now he was on his way to the gallows. There was a tradesman’s apprentice whose case particularly distressed the king; this youth said he found a hawk one evening that had escaped from its owner, and he took it home with him, imagining himself entitled to it; but the court convicted him of stealing it, and sentenced him to death.
The king was furious over these inhumanities, and wanted Hendon to break jail and fly with him to Westminster, so that he could mount his throne and hold out his scepter in mercy over these unfortunate people and save their lives. “Poor child,” sighed Hendon, “these woeful tales have brought his malady upon him again—alack, but for this evil hap, he would have been well in a little time.”
Among these prisoners was an old lawyer—a man with a strong face and a dauntless mien. Three years past, he had written a pamphlet against the Lord Chancellor, accusing him of injustice, and had been punished for it by the loss of his ears in the pillory and degradation from the bar, and in addition had been fined £3,000 and sentenced to imprisonment for life. Lately he had repeated his offense; and in consequence was now under sentence to lose _what remained of his ears_, pay a fine of £5,000, be branded on both cheeks, and remain in prison for life.
“These be honorable scars,” he said, and turned back his gray hair and showed the mutilated stubs of what had once been his ears.
The king’s eyes burned with passion. He said: “None believe in me—neither wilt thou. But no matter—within the compass of a month thou shalt be free; and more, the laws that have dishonored thee, and shamed the English name, shall be swept from the statute books. The world is made wrong, kings should go to school to their own laws at times, and so learn mercy.”
TOM CANTY THE FIRST
Whilst the true king wandered about the land, poorly clad, poorly fed, cuffed and derided by tramps one while, herding with thieves and murderers in a jail another, and called idiot and impostor by all impartially, the mock King Tom Canty enjoyed a quite different experience.
When we saw him last, royalty was just beginning to have a bright side for him. This bright side went on brightening more and more every day; in a very little while it was become almost all sunshine and delightfulness. He lost his fears! his misgivings faded out and died; his embarrassments departed, and gave place to an easy and confident bearing.
He ordered my Lady Elizabeth and my Lady Jane Gray into his presence when he wanted to play or talk, and dismissed them when he was done with them, with the air of one familiarly accustomed to such performances. It no longer confused him to have these lofty personages kiss his hand at parting.
He came to enjoy being conducted to bed in state at night, and dressed with intricate and solemn ceremony in the morning. It came to be a proud pleasure to march to dinner attended by a glittering procession of officers of state and gentlemen-at-arms; insomuch, indeed, that he doubled his guard of gentlemen-at-arms, and made them a hundred. He liked to hear the bugles sounding down the long corridors, and the distant voices responding, “Way for the king!”
He even learned to enjoy sitting in throned state in council, and seeming to be something more than the Lord Protector’s mouthpiece. He liked to receive great ambassadors and their gorgeous trains, and listen to the affectionate messages they brought from illustrious monarchs who called him “brother.”
Oh, happy Tom Canty, late of Offal Court!
TOM IS RECOGNIZED
The great pageant moved on, and still on, under one triumphal arch after another, and past a bewildering succession of spectacular and symbolical tableaux, each of which typified and exalted some virtue, or talent, or merit, of the little king’s. Throughout the whole of Cheapside, from every penthouse and window, hung banners and streamers; and the richest carpets, stuffs, and cloth-of-gold tapestried the streets,—specimens of the great wealth of the stores within; and the splendor of this throughfare was equaled in the other streets, and in some even surpassed.
“And all these wonders and these marvels are to welcome me—me!” murmured Tom Canty.
The mock king’s cheeks were flushed with excitement, his eyes were flashing, his senses swam in a delirium of pleasure. At this point, just as he was raising his hand to fling another rich largess, he caught sight of a pale, astounded face which was strained forward out of the second rank of the crowd, its intense eyes riveted upon him. A sickening consternation struck through him; he recognized his mother! and up flew his hand, palm outward, before his eyes,—that old involuntary gesture, born of a forgotten episode, and perpetuated by habit. In an instant more she had torn her way out of the press, and past the guards, and was at his side. She embraced his leg, she covered it with kisses, she cried, “O, my child, my darling!” lifting toward him a face that was transfigured with joy and love. The same instant an officer of the King’s Guard snatched her away with a curse, and sent her reeling back whence she came, with a vigorous impulse from his strong arm. The words, “I do not know you, woman!” were falling from Tom Canty’s lips when this piteous thing occurred; but it smote him to the heart to see her treated so; and as she turned for a last glimpse of him, whilst the crowd was swallowing her from his sight, she seemed so wounded, so broken-hearted, that a shame fell upon him which consumed his pride to ashes, and withered his stolen royalty. His grandeurs were stricken valueless; they seemed to fall away from him like rotten rags.
The procession moved on, and still on, through ever augmenting splendors and ever augmenting tempests of welcome; but to Tom Canty they were as if they had not been. He neither saw nor heard. Royalty had lost its grace and sweetness; its pomps were become a reproach. Remorse was eating his heart out. He said, “Would God I were free of my captivity!”
_FROM_ “THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN” (1876–83)
HUCK AND NIGGER JIM START ON THEIR LONG DRIFT
When it was beginning to come on dark we poked our heads out of the cottonwood thicket, and looked up and down and across; nothing in sight; so Jim took up some of the top planks of the raft and built a snug wigwam to get under in blazing weather and rainy, and to keep the things dry. Jim made a floor for the wigwam, and raised it a foot or more above the level of the raft, so now the blankets and all the traps were out of reach of steamboat waves. Right in the middle of the wigwam we made a layer of dirt about five or six inches deep with a frame around it for to hold it to its place; this was to build a fire on in sloppy weather or chilly; the wigwam would keep it from being seen. We made an extra steering-oar, too, because one of the others might get broke on a snag or something. We fixed up a short forked stick to hang the old lantern on, because we must always light the lantern whenever we see a steamboat coming down-stream, to keep from getting run over; but we wouldn’t have to light it for the up-stream boats unless we see we was in what they call a “crossing”; for the river was pretty high yet, very low banks being still a little under water; so up-bound boats didn’t always run the channel, but hunted easy water.
This second night we run between seven and eight hours, with a current that was making over four mile an hour. We catched fish and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness. It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big, still river, laying on our backs looking up at the stars, and we didn’t ever feel like talking loud, and it warn’t often that we laughed—only a little kind of a low chuckle. We had mighty good weather as a general thing, and nothing ever happened to us at all—that night, nor the next, nor the next.
Every night we passed towns, some of them away up on black hillsides, nothing but just a shiny bed of lights; not a house could you see. The fifth night we passed St. Louis, and it was like the whole world lit up. In St. Petersburg they used to say there was twenty or thirty thousand people in St. Louis, but I never believed it till I see that wonderful spread of lights at two o’clock that still night. There warn’t a sound there; everybody was asleep.
Every night now I used to slip ashore toward ten o’clock at some little village, and buy ten or fifteen cents’ worth of meal or bacon or other stuff to eat; and sometimes I lifted a chicken that warn’t roosting comfortable, and took him along. Pap always said, take a chicken when you get a chance, because if you don’t want him yourself you can easy find somebody that does, and a good deed aint ever forgot. I never see pap when he didn’t want the chicken himself, but that is what he used to say, anyway.
THE GRANGERFORD-SHEPHERDSON FEUD
Col. Grangerford was a gentleman, you see. He was a gentleman all over; and so was his family. He was well born, as the saying is, and that’s worth as much in a man as it is in a horse, so the Widow Douglas said, and nobody ever denied that she was of the first aristocracy in our town; and pap he always said it, too, though he warn’t no more quality than a mudcat himself. Col. Grangerford was very tall and very slim, and had a darkish-paly complexion, not a sign of red in it anywheres; he was clean-shaved every morning all over his thin face, and he had the thinnest kind of lips, and the thinnest kind of nostrils, and a high nose, and heavy eyebrows, and the blackest kind of eyes, sunk so deep back that they seemed like they was looking out of caverns at you, as you may say. His forehead was high, and his hair was gray and straight and hung to his shoulders. His hands was long and thin, and every day of his life he put on a clean shirt and a full suit from head to foot made out of linen so white it hurt your eyes to look at it; and on Sundays he wore a blue tail-coat with brass buttons on it. He carried a mahogany cane with a silver head to it. There warn’t no frivolishness about him, not a bit, and he warn’t ever loud. He was as kind as he could be—you could feel that, you know, and so you had confidence. Sometimes he smiled, and it was good to see; but when he straightened himself up like a liberty-pole, and the lightning begun to flicker out from under his eyebrows, you wanted to climb a tree first, and find out what the matter was afterwards. He didn’t ever have to tell anybody to mind their manners—everybody was always good-mannered where he was. Everybody loved to have him around, too; he was sunshine most always—I mean he made it seem like good weather. When he turned into a cloudbank it was awful dark for half a minute, and that was enough; there wouldn’t nothing go wrong for a week.
When him and the old lady came down in the morning all the family got up out of their chairs and give them good day, and didn’t set down again till _they_ had set down. Then Tom and Bob went to the sideboard where the decanter was, and mixed a glass of bitters and handed it to him, and he held it in his hand and waited till Tom’s and Bob’s was mixed, and then they bowed and said, “Our duty to you, sir, and madam”; and _they_ bowed the least bit in the world and said thank you, and so they drank, all three, and Bob and Tom poured a spoonful of water on the sugar and the mite of whisky or apple brandy in the bottom of their tumblers, and give it to me and Buck, and we drank to the old people too.
Bob was the oldest and Tom next—tall, beautiful men with very broad shoulders and brown faces, and long black hair and black eyes. They dressed in white linen from head to foot, like the old gentleman, and wore broad Panama hats.
Then there was Miss Charlotte; she was twenty-five, and tall and proud and grand, but as good as she could be when she warn’t stirred up; but when she was she had a look that would make you wilt in your tracks, like her father. She was beautiful.
So was her sister, Miss Sophia, but it was a different kind. She was gentle and sweet like a dove, and she was only twenty.
Each person had their own nigger to wait on them—Buck too. My nigger had a monstrous easy time, because I warn’t used to having anybody do anything for me, but Buck’s was on the jump most of the time.
This was all there was of the family now, but there used to be more—three sons; they got killed; and Emmeline that died.
The old gentleman owned a lot of farms and over a hundred niggers. Sometimes a stack of people would come there, horseback, from ten or fifteen miles around, and stay five or six days, and have such junketings round about and on the river, and dances and picnics in the woods daytimes, and balls at the house nights. These people was mostly kinfolks of the family. The men brought their guns with them. It was a handsome lot of quality, I tell you.
There was another clan of aristocracy around there—five or six families—mostly of the name of Shepherdson. They was as high-toned and well born and rich and grand as the tribe of Grangerfords. The Shepherdsons and Grangerfords used the same steamboat-landing, which was about two miles above our house; so sometimes when I went up there with a lot of our folks I used to see a lot of the Shepherdsons there on their fine horses.
One day Buck and me was away out in the woods hunting, and heard a horse coming. We was crossing the road. Buck says:
“Quick! Jump for the woods!”
We done it, and then peeped down the woods through the leaves. Pretty soon a splendid young man came galloping down the road, setting his horse easy and looking like a soldier. He had his gun across his pommel. I had seen him before. It was young Harney Shepherdson. I heard Buck’s gun go off at my ear, and Harney’s hat tumbled off from his head. He grabbed his gun and rode straight to the place where we was hid. But we didn’t wait. We started through the woods on a run. The woods warn’t thick, so I looked over my shoulder to dodge the bullet, and twice I seen Harney cover Buck with his gun; and then he rode away the way he came—to get his hat, I reckon, but I couldn’t see. We never stopped running till we got home. The old gentleman’s eyes blazed a minute—’twas pleasure, mainly, I judged—then his face sort of smoothed down, and he says, kind of gentle:
“I don’t like that shooting from behind a bush. Why didn’t you step into the road, my boy?”
“The Shepherdsons don’t, father. They always take advantage.”
Miss Charlotte she held her head up like a queen while Buck was telling his tale, and her nostrils spread and her eyes snapped. The two young men looked dark, but never said nothing. Miss Sophia she turned pale, but the color come back when she found the man warn’t hurt.
Soon as I could get Buck down by the corn-cribs under the trees by ourselves, I says:
“Did you want to kill him, Buck?”
“Well, I bet I did.”
“What did he do to you?”
“Him? He never done nothing to me.”
“Well, then, what did you want to kill him for?”
“Why, nothing—only it’s on account of the feud.”
“What’s a feud?”
“Why, where was you raised? Don’t you know what a feud is?”
“Never heard of it before—tell me about it.”
“Well,” says Buck, “a feud is this way: A man has a quarrel with another man, and kills him; then that other man’s brother kills _him_; then the other brothers, on both sides, goes for one another; then the _cousins_ chip in—and by and by everybody’s killed off, and there ain’t no more feud. But it’s kind of slow, and takes a long time.”
“Has this one been going on long, Buck?”
“Well, I should _reckon_! It started thirty year ago, or som’ers along there. There was trouble ’bout something, and then a lawsuit to settle it; and the suit went agin one of the men, and so he up and shot the man that won the suit—which he would naturally do, of course. Anybody would.”
“What was the trouble about, Buck?—land?”
“I reckon maybe—I don’t know.”
“Well, who done the shooting? Was it a Grangerford or a Shepherdson?”
“Laws, how do _I_ know? It was so long ago.”
“Don’t anybody know?”
“Oh, yes, pa knows, I reckon, and some of the other old people; but they don’t know now what the row was about in the first place.”
“Has there been many killed, Buck?”
“Yes; right smart chance of funerals. But they don’t always kill. Pa’s got a few buckshot in him; but he don’t mind it ’cuz he don’t weigh much, anyway. Bob’s been carved up some with a bowie, and Tom’s been hurt once or twice.”
“Has anybody been killed this year, Buck?”
“Yes, we got one and they got one. ’Bout three months ago my cousin Bud, fourteen years old, was riding through the woods on t’other side of the river, and didn’t have no weapon with him, which was blame’ foolishness, and in a lonesome place he hears a horse a-coming behind him, and sees old Baldy Shepherdson a-linkin’ after him with his gun in his hand and his white hair a-flying in the wind; and ’stead of jumping off and taking to the brush, Bud ’lowed he could outrun him; so they had it, nip and tuck, for five mile or more, the old man a-gaining all the time; so at last Bud seen it warn’t any use, so he stopped and faced around so as to have the bullet-holes in front, you know, and the old man he rode up and shot him down. But he didn’t get much chance to enjoy his luck, for inside of a week our folks laid _him_ out.”
“I reckon that old man a coward, Buck.”
“I reckon he _warn’t_ a coward. Not by a blame’ sight. There ain’t a coward amongst them Shepherdsons—not a one. And there ain’t no cowards amongst the Grangerfords either. Why, that old man kep’ up his end in a fight one day for half an hour against three Grangerfords, and come out winner. They was all a-horseback; he lit off of his horse and got behind a little woodpile, and kep’ his horse before him to stop the bullets; but the Grangerfords stayed on their horses and capered around the old man, and peppered away at him, and he peppered away at them. Him and his horse both went home pretty leaky and crippled, but the Grangerfords had to be _fetched_ home—and one of ’em was dead, and another died the next day. No, sir; if a body’s out hunting for cowards he don’t want to fool away any time amongst them Shepherdsons becuz they don’t breed any of that _kind_.”
Next Sunday we all went to church, about three mile, everybody a-horseback. The men took their guns along, so did Buck, and kept them between their knees or stood them handy against the wall. The Shepherdsons done the same. It was pretty ornery preaching—all about brotherly love, and such-like tiresomeness; but everybody said it was a good sermon, and they all talked it over going home, and had such a powerful lot to say about faith and good works and free grace and preforeordestination, and I don’t know what all, that it did seem to me to be one of the roughest Sundays I had run across yet.
About an hour after dinner everybody was dozing around, some in their chairs and some in their rooms, and it got to be pretty dull. Buck and a dog was stretched out on the grass in the sun sound asleep. I went up to our room, and judged I would take a nap myself. I found that sweet Miss Sophia standing in her door, which was next to ours, and she took me in her room and shut the door very soft, and asked me if I liked her, and I said I did; and she asked me if I would do something for her and not tell anybody, and I said I would. Then she said she’d forgot her Testament, and left it in the seat at church between two other books, and would I slip out quiet and go there and fetch it to her, and not say nothing to nobody. I said I would. So I slid out and slipped off up the road, and there warn’t anybody at the church, except maybe a hog or two, for there warn’t any lock on the door, and hogs likes a puncheon floor in summertime because it’s cool. If you notice, most folks don’t go to church only when they’ve got to; but a hog is different.
Says I to myself, something’s up; it ain’t natural for a girl to be in such a sweat about a Testament. So I give it a shake, and out drops a little piece of paper with “_Half-past two_” wrote on it with a pencil. I ransacked it, but couldn’t find anything else. I couldn’t make anything out of that, so I put the paper in the book again, and when I got home and upstairs there was Miss Sophia in her door waiting for me. She pulled me in and shut the door; then she looked in the Testament till she found the paper, and as soon as she read it she looked glad; and before a body could think she grabbed me and gave me a squeeze, and said I was the best boy in the world, and not to tell anybody. She was mighty red in the face for a minute, and her eyes lighted up, and it made her powerful pretty. I was a good deal astonished, but when I got my breath I asked her what the paper was about, and she asked me if I had read it, and I said no, and she asked me if I could read writing, and I told her “no, only coarse-hand,” and then she said the paper warn’t anything but a book-mark to keep her place, and I might go and play now.
I went off down to the river, studying over this thing, and pretty soon I noticed that my nigger was following along behind. When we was out of sight of the house he looked back and around a second, and then comes a-running and says:
“Mars Jawge, if you’ll come down into de swamp I’ll show you a whole stack o’ water-moccasins.”
Thinks I, that’s mighty curious; he said that yesterday. He oughter to know a body don’t love water-moccasins enough to go around hunting for them. What is he up to, anyway? So I says:
“All right; trot ahead.”
I followed a half a mile; then he struck out over the swamp, and waded ankle-deep as much as another half-mile. We come to a little flat piece of land which was dry and very thick with trees and bushes and vines, and he says:
“You shove right in dah jist a few steps, Mars Jawge; Dah’s whah dey is. I’s seed ’m befo’; I don’t k’yer to see ’em no mo’.”
Then he slopped right along and went away, and pretty soon the trees hid him. I poked into the place a ways and come to a little open patch as big as a bedroom all hung around with vines, and found a man lying there asleep—and, by jings, it was my old Jim!
I waked him up, and I reckoned it was going to be a grand surprise to him to see me again, but it warn’t. He nearly cried he was so glad, but he warn’t surprised. Said he swum along behind me that night, and heard me yell every time, but dasn’t answer, because he didn’t want nobody to pick _him_ up and take him into slavery again. Says he:
“I got hurt a little, en couldn’t swim fas’, so I wuz a considerable ways behine you towards de las’; when you landed I reck’ned I could ketch up wid you on de lan’ ’dout havin’ to shout at you, but when I see dat house I begin to go slow. I ’uz off too far to hear what dey say to you—I wuz ’fraid o’ de dogs; but when it ’uz all quiet ag’in I knowed you’s in de house, so I struck out for de woods to wait for day. Early in de mawnin’ some er de niggers come along, gwyne to de fields, en dey tuk me en showed me dis place, whah de dogs can’t track me on accounts o’ de water, end dey brings me truck to eat every night, en tells me how you’s a-gittin’ along.”
“Why didn’t you tell my Jack to fetch me here sooner, Jim?”
“Well, ’twarn’t no use to ’sturb you, Huck, tell we could do sumfn—but we’s all right, now. I ben a buyin’ pots en pans en vittles, as I got a chanst, en a-patchin’ up de raf’, nights, when——”
“_What_ raft, Jim?”
“Our ole raf’.”
“You mean to say our old raft warn’t smashed all to flinders?”
“No, she warn’t. She was tore up a good deal—one en’ of her was; but dey warn’t no great harm done, on’y our traps was mos’ all los’. Ef we hadn’ dive’ so deep en swum so fur under water, en de night hadn’t ben so dark, en we warn’t so sk’yerd, en ben sich punkin-heads, as de sayin’ is, we’d a seed de raf’. But it’s jis’ as well we didn’t, ’kase now she’s all fixed up ag’in mos’ as good as new, en we’s got a new lot o’ stuff, in the place o’ what ’uz los’.”
“Why, how did you get hold of the raft again, Jim—did you catch her?”
“How I gwyne to ketch her en I out in de woods? No; some er de niggers foun’ her ketched on a snag along heah in de ben’, en dey hid her in a crick ’mongst de willows, en dey wuz so much jawin’ ’bout which un ’um she b’long to de mos’ dat I come to heah ’bout it pooty soon, so I ups en settles de trouble by tellin’ ’um she don’t b’long to none uv ’um, but to you en me; en I ast ’m if dey gwyne to grab a young white genlman’s propaty, en git a hid’n for it? Den I gin ’m ten cents apiece, en dey ’uz mighty well satisfied, en wisht some mo’ raf’s ’ud come along en make ’m rich ag’in. Dey’s mighty good to me, dese niggers is, en whatever I wants ’m to do fur me I doan’ have to ast ’m twice, honey. Dat Jack’s a good nigger, en pooty smart.”
“Yes, he is. He ain’t ever told me you was here; told me to come, and he’d show me a lot of water-moccasins. If anything happens _he_ ain’t mixed up in it. He can say he never seen us together, and it’ll be the truth.”
I don’t want to talk much about the next day. I reckon I’ll cut it pretty short. I waked up about dawn, and was a-going to turn over and go to sleep again when I noticed how still it was—didn’t seem to be anybody stirring. That warn’t usual. Next I noticed that Buck was up and gone. Well, I gets up, a-wondering, and goes down-stairs—nobody around; everything as still as a mouse. Just the same outside. Thinks I, what does it mean? Down by the woodpile I comes across my Jack and says:
“What’s it all about?”
“Don’t you know, Mars Jawge?”
“No,” says I, “I don’t.”
“Well, den, Miss Sophia’s run off! ’deed she has. She run off in de night some time—nobody don’t know jis when; run off to get married to dat young Harney Shepherdson, you know—leastways, so dey ’spec. De fambly foun’ it out ’bout half an hour ago—maybe a little mo’—en’ I _tell_ you dey warn’t no time los’. Sich another hurryin’ up guns en hosses _you_ never see! De women folks has gone for to stir up de relations, en ole Mars Saul en de boys tuck dey guns en rode up de river road for to try to ketch dat young man en kill him ’fo’ he kin git acrost de river wid Miss Sophia. I reck’n dey’s gwyne to be mighty rough times.”
“Buck went off ’thout waking me up.”
“Well, I reck’n he _did_! Dey warn’t gwyne to mix you up in it. Mars Buck loaded up his gun en ’lowed he’s gwyne to fetch home a Shepherdson or bust. Well, dey’ll be plenty un ’m dah, I reck’n, en you bet you he’ll fetch one ef he gits a chanst.”
I took up the river road as hard as I could put. By and by I begin to hear guns a good ways off. When I came into sight of the log store and the woodpile where the steamboats lands I worked along under the trees and brush till I got to a good place, and then I clumb up into the forks of a cottonwood that was out of reach, and watched. There was a wood-rank four foot high a little ways in front of the tree, and first I was going to hide behind that; but maybe it was luckier I didn’t.
There was four or five men cavorting around on their horses in the open place before the log store, cussing and yelling, and trying to get at a couple of young chaps that was behind the wood-rank alongside of the steamboat-landing—but they couldn’t come it. Every time one of them showed himself on the river side of the woodpile he got shot at. The two boys was squatting back to back behind the pile, so they could watch both ways.
By and by the men stopped cavorting around and yelling. They started riding towards the store; then up gets one of the boys, draws a steady bead over the wood-rank, and drops one of them out of his saddle. All the men jumped off of their horses and grabbed the hurt one and started to carry him to the store; and that minute the two boys started on the run. They got half-way to the tree I was in before the men noticed. Then the men see them, and jumped on their horses and took out after them. They gained on the boys, but it didn’t do no good, the boys had too good a start; they got to the woodpile that was in front of my tree, and slipped in behind it, and so they had the bulge on the men again. One of the boys was Buck, and the other was a slim young chap about nineteen years old.
The men ripped around awhile, and then rode away. As soon as they was out of sight I sung out to Buck and told him. He didn’t know what to make of my voice coming out of the tree at first. He was awful surprised. He told me to watch out sharp and let him know when the men come in sight again; said they was up to some devilment or other—wouldn’t be gone long. I wished I was out of that tree, but I dasn’t come down. Buck begun to cry and rip, and ’lowed that him and his cousin Joe (that was the other young chap) would make up for this day yet. He said his father and his two brothers was killed, and two or three of the enemy. Said the Shepherdsons laid for them in ambush. Buck said his father and brothers ought to waited for their relations—the Shepherdsons was too strong for them. I asked him what was become of young Harney and Miss Sophia. He said they’d got across the river and was safe. I was glad of that; but the way Buck did take on because he didn’t manage to kill Harney that day he shot at him—I hain’t never heard anything like it.
All of a sudden, bang! bang! bang! goes three or four guns—the men had slipped around through the woods and come in from behind without their horses! The boys jumped for the river—both of them hurt—and as they swum down the current the men run along the bank shooting at them and singing out, “Kill them, kill them!” It made me so sick I most fell out of the tree. I ain’t a-going to tell _all_ that happened—it would make me sick again if I was to do that. I wished I hadn’t ever come ashore that night to see such things. I ain’t ever going to get shut of them—lots of times I dream about them.
I stayed in the tree till it begun to get dark, afraid to come down. Sometimes I heard guns away off in the woods; and twice I seen little gangs of men gallop past the log store with guns; so I reckoned the trouble was still a-going on. I was mighty downhearted; so I made up my mind I wouldn’t ever go anear that house again, because I reckoned I was to blame, somehow. I judged that that piece of paper meant that Miss Sophia was to meet Harney some-wheres at half-past two, and run off; and I judged I ought to told her father about that paper and the curious way she acted, and then maybe he would ’a’ locked her up, and this awful mess wouldn’t ever happened.
When I got down out of the tree I crept along down the river bank a piece, and found the two bodies laying in the edge of the water, and tugged at them till I got them ashore; then I covered up their faces, and got away as quick as I could. I cried a little when I was covering up Buck’s face, for he was mighty good to me.
It was just dark now. I never went near the house, but struck through the woods and made for the swamp. Jim warn’t on his island, so I tramped off in a hurry for the crick, and crowded through the willows, red-hot to jump aboard and get out of that awful country. The raft was gone! My souls, but I was scared! I couldn’t get my breath for most a minute. Then I raised a yell. A voice not twenty-five foot from me, says:
“Good lan’! is dat you, honey? Doan’ make no noise.”
It was Jim’s voice—nothing ever sounded so good before. I run along the bank a piece and got aboard, and Jim he grabbed me and hugged me, he was so glad to see me. He says:
“Laws bless you, chile, I ’uz right down sho’ you’s dead ag’in. Jack’s been heah; he say he reck’n you’s been shot, kase you didn’t come home no mo’; so I’s jes’ dis minute a-startin’ er raf’ down towards de mouf er de crick, so’s to be all ready for to shove out en leave soon as Jack comes ag’in en tells me for certain you _is_ dead. Lawdy, I’s mighty glad to git you back ag’in, honey.”
“All right—that’s mighty good; they won’t find me, and they’ll think I’ve been killed, and floated down the river—there’s something up there that’ll help them think so—so don’t you lose no time, Jim, but just shove off for the big water as fast as ever you can.”
I never felt easy till the raft was two mile below there and out in the middle of the Mississippi. Then we hung up our signal lantern, and judged that we was free and safe once more. I hadn’t had a bite to eat since yesterday, so Jim he got out some corn-dodgers and buttermilk, and pork and cabbage and greens—there ain’t nothing in the world so good when it’s cooked right—and whilst I eat my supper we talked and had a good time. I was powerful glad to get away from the feuds, and so was Jim to get away from the swamp. We said there warn’t no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don’t. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.
_FROM_ “A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT” (1886–7)
MEETING THE YANKEE
It was in Warwick Castle that I came across the curious stranger whom I am going to talk about. He attracted me by three things: his candid simplicity, his marvelous familiarity with ancient armor, and the restfulness of his company—for he did all the talking. We fell together, as modest people will, in the tail of the herd that was being shown through, and he at once began to say things which interested me. As he talked along, softly, pleasantly, flowingly, he seemed to drift away imperceptibly out of this world and time, and into some remote era and old forgotten country; and so he gradually wove such a spell about me that I seemed to move among the specters and shadows and dust and mold of a gray antiquity, holding speech with a relic of it! Exactly as I would speak of my nearest personal friends or enemies, or my most familiar neighbors, he spoke of Sir Bedivere, Sir Bors de Ganis, Sir Launcelot of the Lake, Sir Galahad, and all the other great names of the Table Round—and how old, old, unspeakably old and faded and dry and musty and ancient he came to look as he went on! Presently he turned to me and said, just as one might speak of the weather, or any other common matter—
“You know about transmigration of souls; do you know about transposition of epochs—and bodies?”
I said I had not heard of it. He was so little interested—just as when people speak of the weather—that he did not notice whether I made him any answer or not. There was half a moment of silence, immediately interrupted by the droning voice of the salaried cicerone:
“Ancient hauberk, date of the sixth century, time of King Arthur and the Round Table; said to have belonged to the knight Sir Sagramor le Desirous; observe the round hole through the chain-mail in the left breast; can’t be accounted for; supposed to have been done with a bullet since invention of firearms—perhaps maliciously by Cromwell’s soldiers.”
My acquaintance smiled—not a modern smile, but one that must have gone out of general use many, many centuries ago—and muttered, apparently to himself:
“Wit ye well, _I saw it done_.” Then, after a pause, added: “I did it myself.”
By the time I had recovered from the electric surprise of this remark, he was gone.
All that evening I sat by my fire at the Warwick Arms, steeped in a dream of the olden time, while the rain beat upon the windows, and the wind roared about the eaves and corners. From time to time I dipped into old Sir Thomas Malory’s enchanting book, and fed at its rich feast of prodigies and adventures, breathed in the fragrance of its obsolete names, and dreamed again.
As I laid the book down there was a knock at the door, and my stranger came in. I gave him a pipe and a chair, and made him welcome. I also comforted him with a hot Scotch whisky; gave him another one; then still another—hoping always for his story. After a fourth persuader, he drifted into it himself, in a quite simple and natural way:
THE STRANGER’S HISTORY
I am an American. I was born and reared in Hartford, in the State of Connecticut—anyway, just over the river, in the country. So I am a Yankee of the Yankees—and practical, yes, and nearly barren of sentiment, I suppose—or poetry, in other words. My father was a blacksmith, my uncle was a horse doctor, and I was both, along at first. Then I went over to the great arms factory and learned my real trade; learned all there was to it; learned to make everything: guns, revolvers, cannon, boilers, engines, all sorts of labor-saving machinery. Why, I could make anything a body wanted—anything in the world, it didn’t make any difference what; and if there wasn’t any quick new-fangled way to make a thing, I could invent one—and do it as easy as rolling off a log. I became head superintendent; had a couple of thousand men under me.
Well, a man like that is a man that is full of fight—that goes without saying. With a couple of thousand men under one, one has plenty of that sort of amusement. I had, anyway. At last I met my match, and I got my dose. It was during a misunderstanding conducted with crowbars with a fellow we used to call Hercules. He laid me out with a crusher alongside the head that made everything crack, and seemed to spring every joint in my skull and make it overlap its neighbor. Then the world went out in darkness, and I didn’t feel anything more, and didn’t know anything at all—at least for a while.
When I came to again, I was sitting under an oak tree, on the grass, with a whole beautiful and broad country landscape all to myself—nearly. Not entirely; for there was a fellow on a horse, looking down at me—a fellow fresh out of a picture-book. He was in old-time iron armor from head to heel, with a helmet on his head the shape of a nail-keg with slits in it; and he had a shield, and a sword, and a prodigious spear; and his horse had armor on, too, and a steel horn projecting from his forehead, and gorgeous red and green silk trappings that hung down all around him like a bedquilt, nearly to the ground.
“Fair sir, will ye just?” said this fellow.
“Will I which?”
“Will ye try a passage of arms for land or lady or for——”
“What are you giving me?” I said. “Get along back to your circus, or I’ll report you.”
Now what does this man do but fall back a couple of hundred yards and then come rushing at me as hard as he could tear, with his nail-keg bent down nearly to his horse’s neck and his long spear pointed straight ahead. I saw he meant business, so I was up the tree when he arrived.
He allowed that I was his property, the captive of his spear. There was argument on his side—and the bulk of the advantage—so I judged it best to humor him. We fixed up an agreement whereby I was to go with him and he was not to hurt me. I came down, and we started away, I walking by the side of his horse. We marched comfortably along, through glades and over brooks which I could not remember to have seen before—which puzzled me and made me wonder—and yet we did not come to any circus or sign of a circus. So I gave up the idea of a circus, and concluded he was from an asylum. But we never came to an asylum—so I was up a stump, as you may say. I asked him how far we were from Hartford. He said he had never heard of the place; which I took to be a lie, but allowed it to go at that. At the end of an hour we saw a far-away town sleeping in a valley by a winding river; and beyond it on a hill, a vast gray fortress, with towers and turrets, the first I had ever seen out of a picture.
“Bridgeport,” said I, pointing.
“Camelot,” said he.
My stranger had been showing signs of sleepiness. He caught himself nodding, now, and smiled one of those pathetic, obsolete smiles of his, and said:
“I find I can’t go on; but come with me, I’ve got it all written out, and you can read it, if you like.”
In his chamber, he said: “First, I kept a journal; then by and by, after years, I took the journal and turned it into a book. How long ago that was!”
He handed me his manuscript, and pointed out the place where I should begin:
“Begin here—I’ve already told you what goes before.” He was steeped in drowsiness by this time. As I went out at his door I heard him murmur sleepily: “Give you good den, fair sir.”
I sat down by my fire and examined my treasure. The first part of it—the great bulk of it—was parchment, and yellow with age. I scanned a leaf particularly and saw that it was a palimpsest. Under the old dim writing of the Yankee historian appeared traces of a penmanship which was older and dimmer still—Latin words and sentences: fragments from old monkish legends, evidently. I turned to the place indicated by my stranger and began to read.
THE ROUND TABLE
In the middle of this groined and vaulted public square was an oaken table which was called the Table Round. It was as large as a circus ring; and around it sat a great company of men dressed in such various and splendid colors that it hurt one’s eyes to look at them. They wore their plumed hats, right along, except that whenever one addressed himself directly to the king, he lifted his hat a trifle just as he was beginning his remark.
Mainly they were drinking—from entire ox horns; but a few were still munching bread or gnawing beef bones. There was about an average of two dogs to one man; and these sat in expectant attitudes till a spent bone was flung to them, and then they went for it by brigades and divisions, with a rush, and there ensued a fight which filled the prospect with a tumultuous chaos of plunging heads and bodies and flashing tails, and the storm of howlings and barkings deafened all speech for the time; but that was no matter, for the dog-fight was always a bigger interest anyway; the men rose, sometimes, to observe it the better and bet on it, and the ladies and the musicians stretched themselves out over their balusters with the same object; and all broke into delighted ejaculation, from time to time. In the end, the winning dog stretched himself out comfortably with his bone between his paws, and proceeded to growl over it, and gnaw it, and grease the floor with it, just as fifty others were already doing; and the rest of the court resumed their previous industries and entertainments.
As a rule, the speech and behavior of these people were gracious and courtly; and I noticed that they were good and serious listeners when anybody was telling anything—I mean in a dog-fightless interval. And plainly, too, they were a childlike and innocent lot; telling lies of the stateliest pattern with a most gentle and winning naiveté, and ready and willing to listen to anybody else’s lie, and believe it, too. It was hard to associate them with anything cruel or dreadful; and yet they dealt in tales of blood and suffering with a guileless relish that made me almost forget to shudder.
Mainly the Round Table talk was monologues—narrative accounts of the adventures in which these prisoners were captured and their friends and backers killed and stripped of their steeds and armor. As a general thing—as far as I could make out—these murderous adventures were not forays undertaken to avenge injuries, nor to settle old disputes or sudden fallings out; no, as a rule they were simple duels between strangers—duels between people who had never even been introduced to each other, and between whom existed no cause of offense whatever. Many a time I had seen a couple of boys, strangers, meet by chance, and say simultaneously, “I can lick you,” and go at it on the spot; but I had always imagined until now that that sort of thing belonged to children only, and was a sign and mark of childhood; but here were these big boobies sticking to it and taking pride in it clear up into full age, and beyond. Yet there was something very engaging about these great simple-hearted creatures, something attractive and lovable. There did not seem to be brains enough in the entire nursery, so to speak, to bait a fish-hook with; but you didn’t seem to mind that; after a little, you soon saw that brains were not needed in a society like that, and indeed would have marred it, spoiled its symmetry—perhaps rendered its existence impossible.
THE YANKEE REFLECTS
Why, dear me, _any_ kind of royalty, howsoever modified, _any_ kind of aristocracy, howsoever pruned, is rightly an insult; but if you are born and brought up under that sort of arrangement you probably never find it out for yourself, and don’t believe it when somebody else tells you. It is enough to make a body ashamed of his race to think of the sort of froth that has always occupied its thrones without shadow of right or reason, and the seventh-rate people that have always figured as its aristocracies—a company of monarchs and nobles who, as a rule, would have achieved only poverty and obscurity if left, like their betters, to their own exertions.
The despotism of heaven is the one absolutely perfect government. An earthly despotism would be the absolutely perfect earthly government, if the conditions were the same, namely, the despot the perfectest individual of the human race, and his lease of life perpetual. But as a perishable perfect man must die, and leave his despotism in the hands of an imperfect successor, an earthly despotism is not merely a bad form of government, it is the worst form that is possible.
MAIDS IN DISTRESS
There never was such a country for wandering liars; and they were of both sexes. Hardly a month went by without one of these tramps arriving; and generally loaded with a tale about some princess or other wanting help to get her out of some far-away castle where she was held in captivity by a lawless scoundrel, usually a giant. Now you would think that the first thing the king would do after listening to such a novelette from an entire stranger, would be to ask for credentials—yes, and a pointer or two as to locality of castle, best route to it, and so on. But nobody ever thought of so simple and common-sense a thing as that. No, everybody swallowed these people’s lies whole, and never asked a question of any sort or about anything. Well, one day when I was not around, one of these people came along—it was a she one, this time—and told a tale of the usual pattern. Her mistress was a captive in a vast and gloomy castle, along with forty-four other young and beautiful girls, pretty much all of them princesses; they had been languishing in that cruel captivity for twenty-six years; the masters of the castle were three stupendous brothers, each with four arms and one eye—the eye in the center of the forehead, and as big as a fruit. Sort of fruit not mentioned; their usual slovenliness in statistics.
Would you believe it? The king and the whole Round Table were in raptures over this preposterous opportunity for adventure. Every knight of the Table jumped for the chance, and begged for it; but to their vexation and chagrin the king conferred it upon me, who had not asked for it at all.
A KNIGHT’S AVERAGE
If knights errant were to be believed, not all castles were desirable places to seek hospitality in. As a matter of fact, knights errant were _not_ persons to be believed—that is, measured by modern standards of veracity; yet, measured by the standards of their own time, and scaled accordingly, you got the truth. It was very simple: you discounted a statement ninety-seven per cent.; the rest was fact.
SIXTH CENTURY KINGDOMS
“Kings” and “Kingdoms” were as thick in Britain as they had been in little Palestine in Joshua’s time, when people had to sleep with their knees pulled up because they couldn’t stretch out without a passport.
Training—training is everything; training is all there is _to_ a person. We speak of nature; what we call by that misleading name is heredity and training. We have no thoughts of our own, no opinions of our own; they are transmitted to us, trained into us. All that is original in us, and therefore fairly creditable or discreditable to us, can be covered up and hidden by the point of a cambric needle, all the rest being atoms contributed by, and inherited from, a procession of ancestors that stretches back a billion years to the Adam-clam or grasshopper or monkey from whom our race has been so tediously and ostentatiously and unprofitably developed.
If I had the remaking of man, he wouldn’t have any conscience. It is one of the most disagreeable things connected with a person; and although it certainly does a great deal of good, it cannot be said to pay, in the long run; it would be much better to have less good and more comfort. Still, this is only my opinion, and I am only one man; others, with less experience, may think differently. They have a right to their views. I only stand to this; I have noticed my conscience for many years, and I know it is more trouble and bother to me than anything else I started with. I suppose that in the beginning I prized it, because we prize anything that is ours; and yet how foolish it was to think so. If we look at it in another way we see how absurd it is: if I had an anvil in me would I prize it? Of course not. And yet when you come to think, there is no real difference between a conscience and an anvil—I mean for comfort. I have noticed it a thousand times. And you could dissolve an anvil with acids, when you couldn’t stand it any longer; but there isn’t any way that you can work off a conscience—at least, so it will stay worked off; not that I know of, anyway.
THE GERMAN TONGUE
I was gradually coming to have a mysterious and shuddery reverence for this girl; nowadays whenever she pulled out from the station and got her train fairly started on one of those horizonless transcontinental sentences of hers, it was borne in upon me that I was standing in the awful presence of the Mother of the German Language. I was so impressed with this, that sometimes when she began to empty one of these sentences on me I unconsciously took the very attitude of reverence, and stood uncovered; and if words had been water, I had been drowned, sure. She had exactly the German way; whatever was in her mind to be delivered, whether a mere remark, or a sermon, or a cyclopædia, or the history of a war, she would get it into a single sentence or die. Whenever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are going to see of him till he emerges on the other side of his Atlantic with his verb in his mouth.
GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE
There is a phrase which has grown so common in the world’s mouth that it has come to seem to have sense and meaning—the sense and meaning implied when it is used; that is the phrase which refers to this or that or the other nation as possibly being “capable of self-government”; and the implied sense of it is, that there has been a nation somewhere, some time or other which _wasn’t_ capable of it—wasn’t as able to govern itself as some self-appointed specialists were, or would be, to govern it. The master minds of all nations, in all ages, have sprung in affluent multitude from the mass of the nation, and from the mass of the nation only—not from its privileged classes; and so, no matter what the nation’s intellectual grade was, whether high or low, the bulk of its ability was in the long ranks of its nameless and its poor, and so it never saw the day that it had not the material in abundance whereby to govern itself. Which is to assert an always self-proven fact; that even the best governed and most free and most enlightened monarchy is still behind the best condition attainable by its people; and that the same is true of kindred governments of lower grades, all the way down to the lowest.
A prophet doesn’t have to have any brains. They are good to have, of course, for the ordinary exigencies of life, but they are of no use in professional work. It is the restfullest vocation there is. When the spirit of prophecy comes upon you, you merely take your intellect and lay it off in a cool place for a rest, and unship your jaw and leave it alone; it will work itself: the result is prophecy.
Words realize nothing, vivify nothing to you, unless you have suffered in your own person the thing which the words try to describe. There are wise people who talk ever so knowingly and complacently about “the working classes,” and satisfy themselves that a day’s hard intellectual work is very much harder than a day’s hard manual toil, and is righteously entitled to much bigger pay. Why, they really think that, you know, because they know all about the one, but haven’t tried the other. But I know all about both; and so far as I am concerned, there isn’t money enough in the universe to hire me to swing a pick-axe thirty days, but I will do the hardest kind of intellectual work for just as near nothing as you can cipher it down—and I will be satisfied, too.
Yes, there is plenty good enough material for a republic in the most degraded people that ever existed—even the Russians; plenty of manhood in them—even in the Germans—if one could but force it out of its timid and suspicious privacy, to overthrow and trample in the mud any throne that ever was set up and any nobility that ever supported it.
THE HUMAN RACE
Toward the shaven monk who trudged along with his cowl tilted back and the sweat washing down his fat jowls, the coal-burner was deeply reverent; to the gentleman he was abject; with the small farmer and the free mechanic he was cordial and gossipy; and when a slave passed by with a countenance respectfully lowered, this chap’s nose was in the air—he couldn’t even see him. Well, there are times when one would like to hang the whole human race and finish the farce.
THE KING IN SLAVERY
We had a rough time for a month, tramping to and fro in the earth, and suffering. And what Englishman was the most interested in the slavery question by that time? His grace, the king! Yes; from being the most indifferent, he was become the most interested. He was become the bitterest hater of the institution I had ever heard talk....
Now and then we had an adventure. One night we were overtaken by a snow-storm while still a mile from the village we were making for. Almost instantly we were shut up as in a fog, the driving snow was so thick. You couldn’t see a thing, and we were soon lost. The slave-driver lashed us desperately, for he saw ruin before him, but his lashings only made matters worse, for they drove us further from the road and from likelihood of succor. So we had to stop at last and slump down in the snow where we were. The storm continued until toward midnight, then ceased. By this time two of our feebler men and three of our women were dead, and others past moving and threatened with death. Our master was nearly beside himself. He stirred up the living and made us stand, jump, slap ourselves, to restore our circulation, and he helped as well as he could with his whip.
Now came a diversion. We heard shrieks and yells, and soon a woman came running and crying; and seeing our group, she flung herself into our midst and begged for protection. A mob of people came tearing after her, some with torches, and they said she was a witch who had caused several cows to die by a strange disease, and practiced her arts by help of a devil in the form of a black cat. This poor woman had been stoned until she hardly looked human, she was so battered and bloody. The mob wanted to burn her.
Well, now, what do you suppose our master did? When we closed around this poor creature to shelter her, he saw his chance. He said, burn her here, or they shouldn’t have her at all. Imagine that! They were willing. They fastened her to a post; they brought wood and piled it about her; they applied the torch, while she shrieked and pleaded and strained her two young daughters to her breast; and our brute, with a heart solely for business, lashed us into position about the stake and warmed us into life and commercial value by the same fire which took away the innocent life of that poor harmless mother. That was the sort of master we had. I took _his_ number. That snow-storm cost him nine of his flock; and he was more brutal to us than ever, after that, for many days together, he was so enraged over his loss.
_FROM_ “RAMBLING NOTES OF AN IDLE EXCURSION” (1877)
WHAT WE SAW IN BERMUDA
We saw no bugs or reptiles to speak of, and so I was thinking of saying in print in a general way, that there were none at all; but one night after I had gone to bed, the Reverend came into my room carrying something, and asked, “Is this your boot?” I said it was, and he said he had met a spider going off with it. Next morning he stated that just at dawn the same spider raised his window and was coming in to get his shirt, but saw him and fled.
I inquired, “Did he get the shirt?”
“How did you know it was a shirt he was after?”
“I could see it in his eyes.”
We inquired around, but could hear of no Bermudian spider capable of doing these things. Citizens said that their largest spiders could not more than spread their legs over an ordinary saucer, and that they had always been considered honest. Here was testimony of a clergyman against the testimony of mere worldlings—interested ones, too. On the whole, I judged it best to lock up my things.
Here and there on the country roads we found lemon, papaw, orange, lime, and fig-trees; also several sorts of palms, among them the cocoa, the date, and the palmetto. We saw some bamboos forty feet high, with stems as thick as a man’s arm. Jungles of the mangrove-tree stood up out of swamps, propped on their interlacing roots, as upon a tangle of stilts. In dryer places the noble tamarind sent down its grateful cloud of shade. Here and there the blossomy tamarisk adorned the roadside. There was a curious gnarled and twisted black tree, without a single leaf on it. It might have passed itself off for a dead apple tree but for the fact that it had a star-like, red-hot flower sprinkled sparsely over its person. It had the scattery red glow that a constellation might have when glimpsed through smoked glass....
We saw a tree that bears grapes, and just as calmly and unostentatiously as a vine would do it. We saw an india-rubber-tree, but out of season, possibly, so there were no shoes on it, nor suspenders, nor anything that a person would properly expect to find there. This gave it an impressively fraudulent look. There was exactly one mahogany tree on the island. I know this to be reliable, because I saw a man who said he had counted it many a time and could not be mistaken. He was a man with a harelip and a pure heart, and everybody said he was as true as steel. Such men are all too few.
_FROM_ “PUDD’NHEAD WILSON’S CALENDAR” (1892–3)
Tell the truth or trump—but get the trick.
Adam was but human—this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent. Then he would have eaten the serpent.
Whosoever has lived long enough to find out what life is, knows how deep a debt of gratitude we owe to Adam, the first great benefactor of our race. He brought death into the world.
Adam and Eve had many advantages, but the principal one was, that they escaped teething.
There is this trouble about special providences—namely, there is so often a doubt as to which party was intended to be the beneficiary. In the case of the children, the bears, and the prophet, the bears got more real satisfaction out of the episode than the prophet did, because they got the children.
Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.
Remarks of Dr. Baldwin’s, concerning upstarts: We don’t care to eat toadstools that think they are truffles.
Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.
Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed down-stairs a step at a time.
One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.
The holy passion of Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money.
Consider well the proportions of things. It is better to be a young junebug than an old bird of paradise.
Why is it that we rejoice at birth and grieve at a funeral? It is because we are not the person involved.
It is easy to find fault, if one has that disposition. There was once a man who, not being able to find any other fault with his coal, complained that there were too many prehistoric toads in it.
All say, “How hard it is that we have to die”—a strange complaint to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
When angry, count four; when very angry, swear.
There are three infallible ways of pleasing an author, and the three form a rising scale of compliment: 1, to tell him you have read one of his books; 2, to tell him you have read all of his books; 3, to ask him to let you read the manuscript of his forthcoming book. No. 1 admits you to his respect; No. 2 admits you to his admiration; No. 3 carries you clear into his heart.
As to the Adjective: when in doubt, strike it out.
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear. Except a creature be part coward it is not a compliment to say it is brave; it is merely a loose misapplication of the word. Consider the flea!—incomparably the bravest of all the creatures of God, if ignorance of fear were courage. Whether you are asleep or awake he will attack you, caring nothing for the fact that in bulk and strength you are to him as are the massed armies of the earth to a sucking child; he lives both day and night and all days and nights in the very lap of peril and the immediate presence of death, and yet is no more afraid than is the man who walks the streets of a city that was threatened by an earthquake ten centuries before. When we speak of Clive, Nelson and Putman as men who “didn’t know what fear was,” we ought always to add the flea—and put him at the head of the procession.
When I reflect upon the number of disagreeable people who I know have gone to a better world, I am moved to lead a different life.
October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks in. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February.
The true Southern watermelon is a boon apart, and not to be mentioned with commoner things. It is chief of this world’s luxuries, king by the grace of God over all the fruits of the earth. When one has tasted it, he knows what the angels eat. It was not a southern watermelon that Eve took: we know it because she repented.
Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.
Behold, the fool saith, “Put not all thine eggs in the one basket”—which is but a manner of saying, “Scatter your money and your attention”; but the wise man saith, “Put all your eggs in the one basket and—_watch that basket_.”
If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
We know all about the habits of the ant, we know all about the habits of the bee, but we know nothing at all about the habits of the oyster. It seems almost certain that we have been choosing the wrong time for studying the oyster.
Even popularity can be overdone. In Rome, along at first, you are full of regrets that Michelangelo died; but by and by you only regret that you didn’t see him do it.
_July 4._ Statistics show that we lose more fools on this day than on all the other days of the year put together. This proves, by the number left in stock, that one Fourth of July per year is now inadequate, the country has grown so.
Thanksgiving Day. Let all give humble, hearty, and sincere thanks, now, but the turkeys. In the island of Fiji they do not use turkeys; they use plumbers. It does not become you and me to sneer at Fiji.
Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
It were not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion that makes horse races.
Even the clearest and most perfect circumstantial evidence is likely to be at fault, after all, and therefore ought to be received with great caution. Take the case of any pencil, sharpened by any woman: if you have witnesses, you will find she did it with a knife; but if you take simply the aspect of the pencil, you will say she did it with her teeth.
_April 1._ This the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four.
It is often the case that the man who can’t tell a lie thinks he is the best judge of one.
October 12, the _Discovery_. It was wonderful to find America, but it would have been more wonderful to miss it.
_FROM_ “THE PRIVATE HISTORY OF A CAMPAIGN THAT FAILED” (1885)
THE MARION RANGERS
You have heard from a great many people who did something in the war; is it not fair and right that you listen a little moment to one who started out to do something in it, but didn’t? Thousands entered the war, got just a taste of it, and then stepped out again permanently....
In that summer—of 1861—the first wash of the wave of war broke upon the shores of Missouri. Our state was invaded by the Union forces. They took possession of St. Louis, Jefferson Barracks, and some other points. The Governor, Calib Jackson, issued his proclamation calling out fifty thousand militia to repel the invader.
I was visiting in the small town where my boyhood had been spent—Hannibal, Marion County. Several of us got together in a secret place by night and formed ourselves into a military company. One Tom Lyman, a young fellow of a good deal of spirit but of no military experience, was made captain; I was made second lieutenant. We had no first lieutenant; I do not know why; it was long ago. There were fifteen of us. By the advice of an innocent connected with the organization we called ourselves the Marion Rangers. I do not remember that any one found fault with the name. I did not; I thought it sounded quite well. The young fellow who proposed this title was perhaps a fair sample of the kind of stuff we were made of. He was young, ignorant, good-natured, well-meaning, trivial, full of romance, and given to reading chivalric novels and singing forlorn love ditties. He had some pathetic little nickel-plated aristocratic instincts, and detested his name, which was Dunlap; detested it partly because it was nearly as common in that region as Smith, but mainly because it had a plebeian sound to his ear. So he tried to ennoble it by writing it in this way: _d’Unlap_. That contented his eye, but left his ear unsatisfied, for people gave the new name the same old pronunciation—emphasis on the front end of it. He then did the bravest thing that can be imagined—a thing to make one shiver when one remembers how the world is given to resenting shams and affectations; he began to write his name so: _d’Un Lap_. And he waited patiently through the long storm of mud that was flung at this work of art, and he had his reward at last; for he lived to see that name accepted, and the emphasis put where he wanted it by people who had known him all his life, and to whom the tribe of Dunlaps had been as familiar as the rain and sunshine for forty years. So sure of victory at last is the courage that can wait. He said he had found, by consulting some ancient French chronicles, that the name was rightly and originally written d’Un Lap; and said that if it were translated into English it would mean Peterson: _Lap_, Latin or Greek, he said, for stone or rock, same as the French _pierre_, that is to say Peter; _d’_ of or from; _un_, a or one; hence, d’Un Lap, of or from a stone or a Peter; that is to say, one who is the son of a stone, the son of a Peter—Peterson. Our militia company were not learned, and the explanation confused them; so they called him Peterson Dunlap. He proved useful to us in his way; he named our camps for us, and he generally struck a name that was “no slouch,” as the boys said.
That is one sample of us. Another was Ed Stevens, son of the town jeweler—trim built, handsome, graceful, neat as a cat; bright, educated, but given over entirely to fun. There was nothing serious in life to him. As far as he was concerned, this military expedition of ours was simply a holiday. I should say that about half of us looked upon it in the same way; not consciously perhaps, but unconsciously. We did not think; we were not capable of it. As for myself, I was full of unreasoning joy to be done with turning out of bed at midnight and four in the morning for a while; grateful to have a change, new scenes, new occupations, a new interest. In my thoughts that was as far as I went; I did not go into the details; as a rule, one doesn’t at twenty-four.
Another sample was Smith, the blacksmith’s apprentice. This vast donkey had some pluck, of a slow and sluggish nature, but a soft heart; at one time he would knock a horse down for some impropriety, and at another he would get homesick and cry. However, he had one ultimate credit to his account which some of us hadn’t; he stuck to the war, and was killed in battle at last.
Jo Bowers, another sample, was a huge, good-natured, flax-headed lubber; lazy, sentimental, full of harmless brag, a grumbler by nature; an experienced, industrious, ambitious, and often quite picturesque liar, and yet not a successful one, for he had had no intelligent training, but was allowed to come up just anyway. This life was serious enough to him, and seldom satisfactory. But he was a good fellow, anyway, and the boys all liked him. He was made orderly sergeant; Stevens was made corporal.
These samples will answer—and they are quite fair ones. Well, this herd of cattle started for the war. What could you expect of them? They did as well as they knew how; but really what was justly to be expected of them? Nothing, I should say. That is what they did....
For a time life was idly delicious, it was perfect; there was nothing to mar it. Then came some farmers with an alarm one day. They said it was rumored that the enemy were advancing in our direction from over Hyde’s Prairie. The result was a sharp stir among us and general consternation. It was a rude awakening from our pleasant trance. The rumor was but a rumor—nothing definite about it; so, in the confusion, we did not know which way to retreat. Lyman was for not retreating at all, in these uncertain circumstances; but he found that if he tried to maintain that attitude he would fare badly, for the command were in no humor to put up with insubordination. So he yielded the point and called a council of war—to consist of himself and the three other officers; but the privates made such a fuss about being left out that we had to allow them to remain, for they were already present, and doing the most of the talking, too. The question was, which way to retreat; but all were so flurried that nobody seemed to have even a guess to offer. Except Lyman. He explained in a few calm words that, inasmuch as the enemy was approaching from over Hyde’s Prairie, our course was simple; all we had to do was not to retreat _towards_ him; any other direction would answer our needs perfectly. Everybody saw in a moment how true this was, and how wise; so Lyman got a great many compliments. It was now decided that we should fall back on Mason’s farm.
It was after dark by this time, and as we could not know how soon the enemy might arrive, it did not seem best to try to take the horses and things with us; so we only took the guns and ammunition, and started at once.
We heard a sound, and held our breath and listened, and it seemed to be the enemy coming, though it could have been a cow, for it had a cough like a cow; but we did not wait, but left a couple of guns behind and struck out for Mason’s again, as briskly as we could scramble along in the dark. But we got lost presently among the rugged little ravines, and wasted a deal of time finding the way again, so it was after nine o’clock when we reached Mason’s stile at last; and then before we could open our mouths to give the countersign several dogs came bounding over the fence, with great riot and noise, and each of them took a soldier by the slack of his trousers and began to back away with him. We could not shoot the dogs without endangering the persons they were attached to; so we had to look on helplessly, at what was perhaps the most mortifying spectacle of the Civil War. There was light enough, and to spare, for the Masons had now run out on the porch with candles in their hands. The old man and his son came and undid the dogs without difficulty, all but Bowers’s; but they couldn’t undo his dog, they didn’t know his combination; he was of the bull kind, and seemed to be set with a Yale time-lock; but they got him loose at last with some scalding water, of which Bowers got his share and returned thanks.
_FROM_ “THE PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF JOAN OF ARC”
To arrive at a just estimate of a renowned man’s character one must judge it by the standards of his time, not ours. Judged by the standards of one century, the noblest characters of an earlier one lose much of their luster; judged by the standards of to-day, there is probably no illustrious man of four or five centuries ago whose character could meet the test at all points. But the character of Joan of Arc is unique. It can be measured by the standards of all times without misgiving or apprehension as to the result. Judged by any of them, judged by all of them, it is still flawless, it is still ideally perfect; it still occupies the loftiest place possible to human attainment, a loftier one than has been reached by any other mere mortal.
When we reflect that her century was the brutalest, the wickedest, the rottenest in history since the darkest ages, we are lost in wonder at the miracle of such a product from such a soil. The contrast between her and her century is the contrast between day and night. She was truthful when lying was the common speech of men; she was honest when honesty was become a lost virtue; she was a keeper of promises when the keeping of a promise was expected of no one; she gave her great mind to great thoughts and great purposes when other great minds wasted themselves upon pretty fancies or upon poor ambitions; she was modest, and fine, and delicate, when to be loud and coarse might be said to be universal; she was full of pity when a merciless cruelty was the rule; she was steadfast when stability was unknown, and honorable in an age which had forgotten what honor was; she was a rock of convictions in a time when men believed in nothing and scoffed at all things; she was unfailingly true in an age that was false to the core; she maintained her personal dignity unimpaired in an age of fawnings and servilities; she was of a dauntless courage when hope and courage had perished in the hearts of her nation; she was spotlessly pure in mind and body when society in the highest places was foul in both—she was all these things in an age when crime was the common business of lords and princes, and when the highest personages in Christendom were able to astonish even that infamous era and make it stand aghast at the spectacle of their atrocious lives black with unimaginable treacheries, butcheries, and bestialities.
She was perhaps the only entirely unselfish person whose name has a place in profane history. No vestige or suggestion of self-seeking can be found in any word or deed of hers. When she had rescued her king from his vagabondage, and set his crown upon his head she was offered rewards and honors, but she refused them all, and would take nothing. All she would take for herself—if the king would grant it—was leave to go back to her village home, and tend her sheep again, and feel her mother’s arms about her, and be her housemaid and helper. The selfishness of this unspoiled general of victorious army, companion of princes, an idol of an applauding and grateful nation, reached but that far and no farther.
THE FAIRY TREE
In a noble open space carpeted with grass on the high ground toward Vaucouleur stood a most majestic beech tree with wide-reaching arms and a grand spread of shade, and by it a limpid spring of cold water; and on summer days the children went there—oh, every summer for more than five hundred years—went there and sang and danced around the tree for hours together, refreshing themselves at the spring from time to time, and it was most lovely and enjoyable. Also they made wreaths of flowers and hung them upon the tree and about the spring to please the fairies that lived there; for they liked that, being idle innocent little creatures, as all fairies are and fond of anything delicate and pretty like wild flowers put together in that way. And in return for this attention the fairies did any friendly thing they could for the children, such as keeping the spring always full and clear and cold, and driving away serpents and insects that sting; and so there was never any unkindness between the fairies and the children during more than five hundred years—tradition said a thousand—but only the warmest affection and the most perfect trust and confidence; and whenever a child died the fairies mourned just as that child’s playmates did, and the sign of it was there to see; for before the dawn on the day of the funeral they hung a little immortelle over the place where the child was used to sit under the tree. I know this to be true by my own eyes; it is not hearsay. And the reason it was known that the fairies did it was this—that it was made all of black flowers of a sort not known in France anywhere.
Now from time immemorial all children reared in Domremy were called the Children of the Tree; and they loved that name, for it carried with it a mystic privilege not granted to any other of the children of this world. Which was this: whenever one of these came to die, then beyond the vague and formless images drifting through his darkening mind rose soft and rich and fair a vision of the tree—if all was well with his soul. That was what some said. Others said the vision came in two ways: once as a warning, one or two years in advance of death, when the soul was the captive of sin, and then the tree appeared in its desolate winter aspect—then that soul was smitten with an awful fear. If repentance came, and purity of life the vision came again, this time summer-clad and beautiful; but if it were otherwise with that soul the vision was withheld, and it passed from life knowing its doom. Still others said that the vision came but once and then only to the sinless dying forlorn in distant lands and pitifully longing for some last dear reminder of their home. And what reminder of it could go to their hearts like the picture of the tree that was the darling of their love and the comrade of their joys and comforter of their small griefs all through the divine days of their vanished youth?
Now the several traditions were as I have said, some believing one and some another. One of them I know to be the truth, and that was the last one. I do not say anything against the others; I think they were true, but I only _know_ that the last one was; and it is my thought that if one keep to the things he knows, and not trouble about the things which he cannot be sure about, he will have the steadier mind for it—and there is profit in that. I know that when the children of the tree die in a far land, then—if they be at peace with God—they turn their longing eyes toward home, and there, far-shining, as through a rift in a cloud that curtains heaven, they see the soft picture of the fairy tree, clothed in a dream of golden light; and they see the blooming meads sloping away to the river, and to their perishing nostrils is blown faint and sweet the fragrance of the flowers of home. And then the vision fades and passes—but _they_ know, _they_ know! and by their transfigured faces you know also, you stand looking on; yes, you know the message that has come, and that it has come from heaven.
Joan and I believed alike about this matter. But Pierre Morel, and Jacques d’Arc and many others believed that the vision appeared twice—to a sinner. In fact, they and many others said they _knew_ it. Probably because their fathers had known it and had told them; for one gets most things at second hand in this world....
Always, from the remotest times, when the children joined hands and danced around the fairy tree they sang the song which was the tree’s song, the song of _L’Arbre Fée de Bourlemont_. They sang it to a quaint sweet air—a solacing sweet air which has gone murmuring through my dreaming spirit all my life when I was weary and troubled, resting me and carrying me through night and distance home again. No stranger can know or feel what that song has been through the drifting centuries to exiled Children of the Tree, homeless and heavy of heart in countries foreign to their speech and ways. You will think it a simple thing, that song, and poor, perchance; but if you will remember what it was to us, and what it brought before our eyes when it floated through our memories, then you will respect it. And you will understand how the water wells up in our eyes and makes all things dim, and our voices break and we cannot sing the last lines:
“And when, in exile wand’ring, we Shall fainting yearn for glimpse of thee, Oh, rise upon our sight!”
and you will remember that Joan of Arc sang this song with us around the tree when she was a little child, and always loved it. And _that_ hallows it, yes, you will grant that:
_L’Arbre Fée de Bourlemont._
Song of the children Now what has kept your leaves so green, Arbre Fée de Bourlemont? The children’s tears! they brought each grief, And you did comfort them and cheer Their bruised hearts, and steal a tear That, healèd, rose, a leaf.
And what has built you up so strong, Arbre Fée de Bourlemont? The children’s love! they’ve loved you long: Ten hundred years, in sooth, They’ve nourished you with praise and song, And warmed your heart and kept it young— A thousand years of youth!
Bide always green in our young hearts, Arbre Fée de Bourlemont! And we shall always youthful be, Not heeding Time his flight; And when, in exile wand’ring, we Shall fainting yearn for glimpse of thee, Oh, rise upon our sight!
JOAN BEFORE RHEIMS
We marched, marched, kept on marching; and at last, on the 16th of July, we came in sight of our goal and saw the great cathedral towers of Rheims rise out of the distance! Huzza after huzza swept the army from van to rear; and as for Joan of Arc, there where she sat her horse, gazing, clothed all in white armor, dreamy, beautiful, and in her face a deep, deep joy, a joy not of earth, oh, she was not flesh, she was a spirit! Her sublime mission was closing—closing in flawless triumph. To-morrow she could say, “It is finished—let me go free.”
The fantastic dream, the incredible dream, the impossible dream of the peasant child stood fulfilled; the English power was broken, the heir of France was crowned.
She was like one transfigured, so divine was the joy that shone in her face as she sank to her knees at the king’s feet and looked up at him through her tears. Her lips were quivering, and her words came soft and low and broken:
“Now, O gentle king, is the pleasure of God accomplished according to his command that you should come to Rheims and receive the crown that belongeth of right to you, and unto none other. My work which was given me to do is finished; give me your peace, and let me go back to my mother, who is poor and old, and has need of me.”
The king raised her up, and there before all that host he praised her great deeds in most noble terms; and there he confirmed her nobility and titles, making her the equal of a count in rank, and also appointed a household and officers for her according to her dignity; and then he said:
“You have saved the crown. Speak—require—demand; and whatsoever grace you ask it shall be granted, though it make the kingdom poor to meet it.”
Now that was fine, that was loyal. Joan was on her knees again straightway, and said:
“Then, O gentle king, if out of your compassion you will speak the word, I pray you give commandment that my village, poor and hard-pressed by reason of the war, may have its taxes remitted.”
“It is so commanded. Say on.”
“That is all.”
“All? Nothing but that?”
“It is all. I have no other desire.”
“But that is nothing—less than nothing. Ask—do not be afraid.”
“Indeed, I cannot, gentle king. Do not press me. I will not have aught else, but only this alone.”
The king seemed nonplussed, and stood still a moment, as if trying to comprehend and realize the full stature of this strange unselfishness. Then he raised his head and said:
“She has won a kingdom and crowned its king; and all she asks and all she will take is this poor grace—and even this is for others, not for herself. And it is well; her act being proportioned to the dignity of one who carries in her head and heart riches which outvalue any that any king could add, though he gave his all. She shall have her way. Now, therefore, it is decreed that from this day forth Domremy, natal village of Joan of Arc, Deliverer of France, called the Maid of Orleans, is freed from all taxation _forever_.”
_FROM_ “SAINT JOAN OF ARC” (1899)
There is no one to compare her with, none to measure her by; for all others among the illustrious _grew_ towards their high place in an atmosphere and surroundings which discovered their gift to them and nourished it and promoted it, intentionally or unconsciously. There have been other young generals, but they were not girls; young generals, but they have been soldiers before they were generals: she _began_ as a general. She commanded the first army she ever saw; she led it from victory to victory, and never lost a battle with it; there have been young commanders-in-chief, but none so young as she: she is the only soldier in history who has held the supreme command of a nation’s armies at the age of seventeen.
_FROM_ “FOLLOWING THE EQUATOR” PUDD’NHEAD WILSON’S NEW CALENDAR (1896–7)
A man may have no bad habits and have worse.
When in doubt, tell the truth.
It is more trouble to make a maxim than it is to do right.
A dozen direct censures are easier to bear than one morganatic compliment.
Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she had laid an asteroid.
He was as shy as a newspaper is when referring to its own merits.
Truth is the most valuable thing we have. Let us economize it.
It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.
It is your human environment that makes climate.
Everything human is pathetic. The secret source of Humor itself is not joy but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven.
We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it—and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again—and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one any more.
There are those who scoff at the schoolboy, calling him frivolous and shallow. Yet it was the schoolboy who said, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.”
We can secure other people’s approval, if we do right and try hard; but our own is worth a hundred of it, and no way has been found out of securing that.
Truth is stranger than fiction—to some people, but I am measurably familiar with it. Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.
There is a Moral Sense, and there is an Immoral Sense. History shows us that the Moral Sense enables us to perceive morality and how to avoid it, and that the Immoral Sense enables us to perceive immorality and how to enjoy it.
The English are mentioned in the Bible: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
It is easier to stay out than to get out.
Pity is for the living, envy is for the dead.
It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: Freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.
Man will do many things to get himself loved, he will do all things to get himself envied.
Nothing is so ignorant as a man’s left hand, except a lady’s watch.
Be careless in your dress if you must, but keep a tidy soul.
There is no such thing as “the Queen’s English.” The property has gone into the hands of a joint stock company and we own the bulk of the shares.
“_Classic._” A book which people praise and don’t read.
There are people who can do all fine and heroic things but one: keep from telling their happiness to the unhappy.
Man is the Only Animal that Blushes. Or needs to.
The universal brotherhood of man is our most precious possession, what there is of it.
Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed.
When people do not respect us we are sharply offended; yet deep down in his private heart no man much respects himself.
Nature makes the locust with an appetite for crops: man would have made him with an appetite for sand.
The spirit of wrath—not the words—is the sin; and the spirit of wrath is cursing. We begin to swear before we can talk.
The man with a new idea is a Crank till the idea succeeds.
Let us be grateful to Adam our benefactor. He cut us out of the “blessing” of idleness and won for us the “curse” of labor.
Let us not be too particular. It is better to have old second-hand diamonds than none at all.
The Autocrat of Russia possesses more power than any other man in the earth; but he cannot stop a sneeze.
There are several good protections against temptations, but the surest is cowardice.
Names are not always what they seem. The common Welsh name Bzjxxllwcp is pronounced Jackson.
To succeed in the other trades, capacity must be shown; in the law, concealment of it will do.
Prosperity is the best protector of principle.
By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity. Another man’s, I mean.
Few of us can stand prosperity. Another man’s, I mean.
There is an old time toast which is golden for its beauty. “When you ascend the hill of prosperity may you not meet a friend.”
Each person is born to one possession which outvalues all his others—his last breath.
Hunger is the handmaid of genius.
The old saw says, “Let a sleeping dog lie.” Right. Still, when there is much at stake it is better to get a newspaper to do it.
It takes your enemy and your friend, working together, to hurt you to the heart; the one to slander you and the other to get the news to you.
If the desire to kill and the opportunity to kill came always together, who would escape hanging?
Simple rules for saving money: To save half, when you are fired by an eager impulse to contribute to a charity, wait, and count forty. To save three-quarters, count sixty. To save it all, count sixty-five.
Grief can take care of itself; but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.
He had had much experience of physicians, and said “the only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d druther not.”
The man who is ostentatious of his modesty is twin to the statue that wears a fig-leaf.
Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.
Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.
Do not undervalue the headache. While it is at its sharpest it seems a bad investment; but when relief begins the unexpired remainder is worth $4.00 a minute.
True irreverence is disrespect to another man’s god.
There are two times in a man’s life when he should not speculate: when he can’t afford it, and when he can.
She was not quite what you would call refined. She was not quite what you would call unrefined. She was the kind of person that keeps a parrot.
Make it a point to do something every day that you don’t want to do. This is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain.
Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist but you have ceased to live.
Often, the surest way to convey misinformation is to tell the truth.
Satan (impatiently) to Newcomer: The trouble with you Chicago people is, that you think you are the best people down here; whereas you are merely the most numerous.
In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made School Boards.
There are no people who are quite so vulgar as the over-refined ones.
In statesmanship get the formalities right, never mind about the moralities.
Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.
The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice.
There isn’t a Parallel of Latitude but thinks it would have been the Equator if it had had its rights.
I have traveled more than any one else, and I have noticed that even the angels speak English with an accent.
Whenever I enjoy anything in Art it means that it is mighty poor. The private knowledge of this fact has saved me from going to pieces with enthusiasm in front of many and many a chromo.
In Italy, as in France, the Government is the only cigar-peddler. Italy has three or four domestic brands: the Minghetti, the Trabuco, the Virginia, and a very coarse one which is a modification of the Virginia. The Minghettis are large and comely, and cost three dollars and sixty cents a hundred; I can smoke a hundred in seven days and enjoy every one of them. The Trabucos suit me, too; I don’t remember the price. But one has to learn to like the Virginia, nobody is born friendly to it. It looks like a rat-tail file, but smokes better, some think. It has a straw through it; you pull this out, and it leaves a flue, otherwise there would be no draught, not even as much as there is to a nail. Some prefer a nail at first.
_FROM_ “CONCERNING THE JEWS” (1898)
THE HUMAN BEING
I’m quite sure that (bar one) I have no race prejudices, and I think I have no color prejudices nor caste prejudices nor creed prejudices. Indeed, I know it. I can stand any society. All that I care to know is that a man is a human being—that is enough for me; he can’t be any worse.
THE IMMORTAL RACE
If the statistics are right the Jews constitute but _one per cent._ of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are always away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and were gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?
_FROM_ “CHRISTIAN SCIENCE” (1898)
THE C. S. HEALER
She was middle-aged, and large and bony, and erect, and had an austere face and a resolute jaw and a Roman beak and was a widow in the third degree, and her name was Fuller. I was eager to get to business and find relief, but she was distressingly deliberate. She unpinned and unhooked and uncoupled her upholsteries one by one, abolished the wrinkles with a flirt of her hand, and hung the articles up; peeled off her gloves and disposed of them, got a book out of her hand-bag, then drew a chair to the bedside, descended into it without hurry and I hung out my tongue. She said, with pity but without passion:
“Return it to its receptacle. We deal with the mind only, not with its dumb servants.”
I could not offer my pulse, because the connection was broken; but she detected the apology before I could word it, and indicated by a negative tilt of her head that the pulse was another dumb servant that she had no use for. Then I thought I would tell her my symptoms and how I felt, so that she would understand the case; but that was another inconsequence, she did not need to know those things; moreover, my remark about how I felt was an abuse of language, a misapplication of terms.
“One does not _feel_” she explained; “there is no such thing as feeling: therefore, to speak of a non-existent thing as existent is a contradiction. Matter has no existence; nothing exists but mind; the mind cannot feel pain, it can only imagine it.”
“But if it hurts, just the same——”
“It doesn’t. A thing which is unreal cannot exercise the functions of reality. Pain is unreal; hence, pain cannot hurt.”
In making a sweeping gesture to indicate the act of shooing the illusion of pain out of the mind, she raked her hand on a pin in her dress, said “Ouch!” and went tranquilly on with her talk. “You should never allow yourself to speak of how you feel, nor permit others to ask you how you are feeling; you should never concede that you are ill, nor permit others to talk about disease or pain or death or similar non-existences in your presence. Such talk only encourages the mind to continue its empty imaginings.”
Just at that point the _Stubenmädchen_ trod on the cat’s tail, and the cat let fly a frenzy of cat profanity. I asked, with caution:
“Is a cat’s opinion about pain valuable?”
“A cat has no opinion; opinions proceed from mind only; the lower animals being eternally perishable, have not been granted mind; without mind, opinion is impossible.”
“She merely _imagined_ she felt a pain—the cat?”
“She cannot imagine a pain, for imagining is an effect of mind; without mind there is no imagination. A cat has no imagination.”
“Then she had a _real_ pain?”
“I have already told you there is no such _thing_ as real pain.”
“It is strange and interesting. I do wonder what was the matter with the cat.”
_FROM_ “ITALIAN WITHOUT A MASTER” (1903)
THE HOME PRODUCT
Necessarily we are all fond of murders, scandals, swindles, robberies, explosions, collisions, and all such things, when we know the people, and when they are neighbors and friends, but when they are strangers we do not get any great pleasure out of them, as a rule. Now the trouble with an American paper is that it has no discrimination; it rakes the whole earth for blood and garbage and the result is that you are daily overfed and suffer a surfeit. By habit you stow this muck every day, but you come by and by to take no vital interest in it—indeed, you almost get tired of it. As a rule, forty-nine-fiftieths of it concerns strangers only—people away off yonder, a thousand miles, two thousand miles, ten thousand miles from where you are. Why, when you come to think of it, who cares what becomes of those people? I would not give the assassination of one personal friend for a whole massacre of those others. And, to my mind, one relative or neighbor mixed up in a scandal is more interesting than a whole Sodom and Gomorrah of outlanders gone rotten. Give me the home product every time.
THE CHARM OF UNCERTAINTY
There is a great, a peculiar charm about reading news scraps in a language which you are not acquainted with—the charm that always goes with the mysterious and the uncertain. You can never be absolutely sure of the meaning of anything you read in such circumstances; you are chasing an alert and gamy riddle all the time, and the baffling turns and dodges of the prey make the life of the hunt. A dictionary would soil it. Sometimes a single word of doubtful purport will cast a vale of dreamy and golden uncertainty over a whole paragraph of cold and practical certainties, and leave steeped in a haunting and adorable mystery an incident which had been vulgar and commonplace but for the benefaction. Would you be wise to draw a dictionary on that gracious word? Would you be properly grateful?
_FROM_ “EVE’S DIARY” (1905)
HER CHIEF DESIRE
It is my prayer, it is my longing, that we may pass from this life together—a longing which shall never perish from the earth, but shall have place in the heart of every wife that loves, until the end of time; and it shall be called by my name.
But if one of us must go first, it is my prayer that it shall be I; for he is strong, I am weak, I am not so necessary to him as he is to me—life without him would not be life; how could I endure it? This prayer is also immortal, and will not cease from being offered while my race continues. I am the first wife; and in the last wife I shall be repeated.
AT EVE’S GRAVE
Adam: Wheresoever she was, _there_ was Eden.
WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS (1905)
For forty years his English has been to me a continual delight and astonishment. In the sustained exhibition of certain great qualities—clearness, compression, verbal exactness, and enforced and seemingly unconscious felicity of phrasing—he is, in my belief, without his peer in the English-writing world. _Sustained._ I intrench myself behind that protecting word. There are others who exhibit those great qualities as greatly as he does, but only by intervaled distributions of rich moonlight, with stretches of veiled and dimmer landscape between; whereas Howell’s moon sails cloudless skies all night and all the nights.
MAKING THE OYSTER
You can’t make an oyster out of nothing, nor you can’t do it in a day. You’ve got to start with a vast variety of invertebrates, the belemnites, trilobites, jubusites, amalekites, and that sort of fry, and put them in to soak in a primary sea and observe and wait what will happen. Some of them will turn out a disappointment; the belemnites and the amalekites and such will be failures, and they will die out and become extinct in the course of the nineteen million years covered by the experiment; but all is not lost, for the jubusites will develop gradually into encrinites and stalactites and blatherskites, and one thing and another, as the mighty ages creep on and the periods pile their lofty crags in the primordial seas, and at last the first grand stages in the preparation of the world for man stands completed, the oyster is done. Now an oyster has hardly any more reasoning power than a man has, so it is probable that this one jumped to the conclusion that the nineteen million years was a preparation for _him_. That would be just like an oyster, and, anyway, this one could not know at that early date that he was only an incident in the scheme, and that there was some more to the scheme yet. (Mark Twain—A Biography).
THE FATALITY OF SEQUENCE
When the first living atom found itself afloat on the great Laurentian sea the first act of that first atom led to the _second_ act of that first atom, and so on down through the succeeding ages of all life, until, if the steps could be traced, it would be shown that the first act of that first atom has led inevitably to the act of my standing in my dressing gown at this instant, talking to you. (Mark Twain—A Biography).
LIFE’S TURNING POINT
Necessarily the scene of the real turning-point of my life (and of yours) was the Garden of Eden. It was there that the first link was forged of the chain that was ultimately to lead to the emptying of me into the literary guild. Adam’s _temperament_ was the first command the Deity ever issued to a human being on this planet. And it was the only command Adam would _never_ be able to disobey. It said, “Be weak, be water, be characterless, be cheaply persuadable.” The later command, to let the fruit alone was certain to be disobeyed. Not by Adam himself, but by his _temperament_—which he did not create and had no authority over. For the _temperament_ is the man; the thing tricked out with clothes and named Man is merely its shadow, nothing more. The law of the tiger’s temperament is, Thou shalt kill; the law of the sheep’s temperament is, Thou shalt not kill. To issue later commands requiring the tiger to let the fat stranger alone, and requiring the sheep to imbue its hands in the blood of the lion is not worth while, for those commands _can’t_ be obeyed. They would invite to violations of the law of _temperament_, which is supreme, and takes precedence of all other authorities. I cannot help feeling disappointed in Adam and Eve. That is, in their temperaments. Not in _them_, poor helpless young creatures—afflicted with temperaments made out of butter; which butter was commanded to get into contact with fire and _be melted_. What I cannot help wishing is, that Adam and Eve had been postponed, and Martin Luther and Joan of Arc put in their place. That splendid pair equipped with temperaments not made of butter, but of asbestos. By neither sugary persuasions nor by hell fire could Satan have beguiled _them_ to eat the apple.
CLOSE OF SEVENTIETH BIRTHDAY SPEECH
Threescore years and ten!
It is the scriptural statute of limitations. After that you owe no active duties; for you the strenuous life is over. You are a time-expired man, to use Kipling’s military phrase; you have served your term, well or less well, and you are mustered out. You are become an honorary member of the republic, you are emancipated, compulsions are not for you, nor any bugle call but “lights out.” You pay the time-worn duty bills if you choose, or decline if you prefer—and without prejudice—for they are not legally collectible.
The previous-engagement plea, which in forty years has cost you so many twinges, you can lay aside forever; on this side of the grave you will never need it again. If you shrink at thought of night, and winter, and the late homecomings from the banquet and the lights and laughter through the deserted street—a desolation which would not remind you now, as for a generation it did, that your friends are sleeping and you must creep in a-tiptoe and not disturb them, but would only remind you that you need not tiptoe, you can never disturb them more—if you shrink at the thought of these things you need only reply, “Your invitation honors me and pleases me because you still keep me in your remembrance, but I am seventy; seventy, and would nestle in the chimney corner and smoke my pipe, and read my book, and take my rest, wishing you well in all affection, and that when you in your turn shall arrive at Pier 70 you may step aboard your waiting ship with a reconciled spirit, and lay your course toward the sinking sun with a contented heart.”
THE FUTURE LIFE
(Mark Twain often allowed his fancy to play with the idea of the orthodox heaven, its curiosities of architecture and its employments of continuous prayer, psalm-singing, and harpistry).
“What a childish notion it was,” he said, “and how curious that only a little while ago human beings were so willing to accept such fragile evidences about a place of so much importance. If we should find somewhere to-day an ancient book containing an account of a beautiful and blooming tropical paradise secreted in the center of eternal icebergs—an account written by men who did not even claim to have seen it themselves—no geographical society on earth would take any stock in that book, yet that account would be quite as authentic as any we have of heaven. If God has such a place prepared for us, and really wanted us to know it, He could have found some better way than a book, so liable to alterations and misinterpretations. God has had no trouble to prove to man the laws of the constellations and the construction of the world, and such things as that, none of which agree with His so-called book. As to a hereafter, we have not the slightest evidence that there is any—_no_ evidence that appeals to logic and reason. I have never seen what to me seemed an atom of proof that there is a future life.”
Then, after a long pause, he added:
“And yet—I am strongly inclined to expect one.” (Mark Twain—A Biography).
I would not interfere with any one’s religion, either to strengthen it or to weaken it. I am not able to believe one’s religion can affect his hereafter one way or the other, no matter what that religion may be. But it may easily be a great comfort to him in this life—hence it is a valuable possession to him.
_FROM_ “THE DEATH OF JEAN” (1909)
It is the time appointed. The funeral has begun. Four hundred miles away, but I can see it all, just as if I were there. The scene is the library in the Langdon homestead. Jean’s coffin stands where her mother and I stood, forty years ago, and were married; and where Susy’s coffin stood thirteen years ago; where her mother’s stood five years and a half ago; and where mine will stand, after a little time.
_FROM_ “ONE OF HIS LATEST MEMORANDA” (1909)
THE IMPARTIAL FRIEND
Death—the only immortal who treats us all alike, whose pity and whose peace and whose refuge are for all—the soiled and the pure—the rich and the poor—the loved and the unloved.
Through an exchange of clothing with the little prince Tom Canty suddenly found himself royalty, and upon the death of Henry VIII is now king.
Miles Hendon, who has taken the real prince—now a wanderer—under his protection. In the course of their adventures the two have landed in prison.
Nigger Jim is a runaway slave to whom Huck affords protection.
Huck and Nigger Jim, drifting down the Mississippi on their raft have been struck by a steamboat. Jim has disappeared but Huck, making his way to shore, has been taken in by Col. Grangerford, whose family is in bitter feud with the Shepherdsons.
Edmund Clarence Stedman declared this chapter of Huck Finn’s adventures to be “as dramatic and powerful an episode as I know in modern literature.”
Buck Grangerford, a boy of about Huck’s age.
On his arrival at the Grangerford home Huck had given his name as George Jackson.
The Yankee and his captor have arrived at Camelot and are in King Arthur’s castle.
The Yankee with the maid, Alisande, a great talker, is on the way to rescue the imprisoned princesses.
The King and the Yankee travelling in disguise have fallen into the clutches of a slave-dealer.
1. P. 44, changed "even the" to "even in the". 2. P. 49, changed "never revoked" to "never been revoked". 3. P. 126, changed "“Oh, don’t _I_!”" to "“Oh, don’t _I_!” said Joe,". 4. Silently corrected typographical errors and variations in spelling. 5. Anachronistic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings retained as printed. 6. Footnotes have been re-indexed using numbers and collected together at the end of the last chapter. 7. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.