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P "«*'o, Nu . 9A 

By H. W. Barnett. London 




(Samuel L. Clemens) 


Copyright 1897, by Harper & Brothers 

Copyright 1898, by Harper & Brothers 

Copyright 1899, by Harper & Brothers 

Copyright 1892, by C. L. Webster & Co. 

Copyright 1898, by The Century Co. 

Copyright 1898, by The Cosmopolitan 

Copyright 1899, by Samuel E. Moffett 

Copyright 1900, by The American Publishing Company 



PORTRAIT, 1899 Permission of H. IV. Barrett, I^nd&n Frontispiece 

HE EATS A BUTTERFLY . t . Peter JVeieeH . , 306 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 
Brigham Young University-Idaho 



















Acknowledgment is hereby made to Harper & Brothers, The Century 
Company, The Cosmopolitan, and S. S. McCiure & Co., for courtesy 
shown in allowing the reprint in this volume of a number of tbeir 





The Humorous Story an American Development. — Its 
Difference from Comic and Witty Stories. 

I DO not claim that I can tell a story as it ought tm 
be told. I only claim to know how a story 
ought to be told, for I have been almost daily in the 
company .of the most expert story-tellers for many 

There are several kinds of stories, but only one 
difficult kind — the humorous. I will talk mainly 
about that one. The humorous story is American, 
the comic story is English, the witty story is French. 
The humorous story depends for its effect upon the 
manner of the telling; the comic story and the witty 
story upon the matter. 

The humorous story may be spun out to great 
length, and may wander around as much as it 
pleases, and arrive nowhere in particular; but the 
comic and witty stories must be brief and end with 
a point. The humorous story bubbles gently along, 
the others burst. 

The humorous story is strictly a work of art — 
high and delicate art — and only an artist can tell it, 


8 How to Tell a Story 

but no art is necessary in telling the comic and the 
witty story ; anybody can do it. The art of telling 
a humorous story — understand, I mean by word of 
mouth, not print — was created in America, and 
has remained at home. 

The humorous story is told gravely; the teller 
does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly 
suspects that there is anything funny about it; but 
the teller of the comic story tells you beforehand 
that it is one of the funniest things he has ever 
heard, then tells it with eager delight, and is the 
first person to laugh when he gets through. And 
sometimes, if he has had good success, he is so glad 
and happy that he will repeat the M nub " of it and 
glance around from face to face, collecting applause, 
and then repeat it again. It is a pathetic thing to 

Very often, of course, the rambling and disjointed 
humorous story finishes with a nub, point, snapper, 
Dr whatever you like to call it. Then the listener 
/nust be alert, for in many cases the teller will divert 
attention from that nub by dropping it in a carefully 
casual and indifferent way, with the pretence that he 
does not know it is a nub. 

Artemus Ward used that trick a good deal; then 
when the belated audience presently caught the joke 
he would look up with innocent surprise, as if 
wondering what they had found to laugh at. Dan 
Setchell used it before him, Nye and Riley and 
others use it to-day. 

How to Tell a Story 9 

But the teller of the comic story does not slur 
the nub ; he shouts it at you — every time. And 
when he prints it, in England, France, Germany, 
and Italy, he italicizes it, puts some whooping 
exclamation-points after it, and sometimes explains 
it in a parenthesis. All of which is very depressing, 
and makes one want to renounce joking and lead a 
better life. 

Let me set down an instance of the comic method, 
using an anecdote which has been popular all over 
the world for twelve or fifteen hundred years. The 
teller tells it in this way: 


In the course of a certain battle a soldier whose 
leg had been shot off appealed to another soldier 
who was hurrying by to carry him to the rear, in- 
forming him at the same time of the loss which he 
had sustained ; whereupon the generous son of 
Mars, shouldering the unfortunate, proceeded to 
carry out his desire. The bullets and cannon-balls 
were flying in all directions, and presently one of 
the latter took the wounded man's head off — with- 
out, however, his deliverer being aware of it. In 
no long time he was hailed by an officer, who said : 
11 Where are you going with that carcass?" 
44 To the rear, sir — he's lost his leg!" 
" His leg, forsooth?" responded the astonished 
officer; " you mean his head, you booby." 

Whereupon the soldier dispossessed himself of his 

10 How to Tell a Story 

burden, and stood looking down upon it in great 
perplexity. At length he said : 

" It is true, sir, just as you have said." Then 
after a pause he added, '* But he TOLD me IT WAS 
HIS LEG! ! ! ! !" 

Here the narrator bursts into explosion after ex- 
plosion of thunderous horse-laughter, repeating that 
nub from time to time through his gaspings and 
shriekings and suffocatings. 

It takes only a minute and a half to tell that in its 
comic-story form ; and isn't worth the telling, after 
all. Put into the humorous-story form it takes ten 
minutes, and is about the funniest thing I have ever 
listened to — as James Whitcomb Riley tells it. 

He tells it in the character of a dull-witted old 
farmer who has just heard it for the first time, thinks 
it is unspeakably funny, and is trying to repeat it to 
a neighbor. But he can't remember it; so he gets 
all mixed up and wanders helplessly round and 
round, putting in tedious details that don't belong 
in the tale and only retard it; taking them out con- 
scientiously and putting in others that are just as 
useless ; making minor mistakes now and then and 
stopping to correct them and explain how he came 
to make them ; remembering things which he forgot 
to put in in their proper place and going back to 
put them in there; stopping his narrative a good 
while in order to try to recall the name of the soldier 
that was hurt, and finally remembering that the 
soldier's name was not mentioned, and remarking 

How to Tell a Story if 

placidly that the name is of no real importance, 
anyway — better, of course, if one knew it, but not 
essential, after all — and so on, and so on, and so 

The teller is innocent and happy and pleased wich 
himself, and has to stop every little while to hold 
himself in and keep from laughing outright; and 
does hold in, but his body quakes in a jelly-like 
way with interior chuckles ; and at the end of the 
ten minutes the audience have laughed until they 
are exhausted, and the tears are running down their 

The simplicity and innocence and sincerity and 
unconsciousness of the old . farmer are perfectly 
simulated, and the result is a performance which is 
thoroughly charming and delicious. This is art — 
and fine and beautiful, and only a master can com- 
pass it; but a machine could tell the other story. 

To string incongruities and absurdities together in 
a wandering and sometimes purposeless way, and 
seem innocently unaware that they are absurdities, is 
the basis of the American art, if my position is 
correct. Another feature is the slurring of the 
point. A third is the dropping of a studied remark 
apparently without knowing it, as if one were think- 
ing aloud. The fourth and last is the pause. 

Artemus Ward dealt in numbers three and four a 
good deal. He would begin to tell with great ani- 
mation something which he seemed to think was 
wonderful ; then lose confidence, and after an 

\2 Bow to Tell a Story 

apparently absent-minded pause add an incongru- 
ohs remark in a soliloquizing way; and that was 
the remark intended to explode the mine — and 
it did. 

For instance, he would say eagerly, excitedly, " I 
&nce knew a man in New Zealand who hadn't a 
tooth in his head" — here his animation would die 
out ; a silent, reflective pause would follow, then he 
would say dreamily, and as if to himself, " and yet 
that man could beat a drum better than any man I 
ever saw." 

The pause is an exceedingly important feature in 
any kind of story, and a frequently recurring feature, 
too. It is a dainty thing, and delicate, and also un- 
certain and treacherous; for it must be exactly the 
right length — no more and no less — or it fails of 
its purpose and makes trouble. If the pause is too 
short the impressive point is passed, and the audi- 
ence have had time to divine that a surprise is 
intended — and then you can't surprise them, of 

On the platform I used to tell a negro ghost story 
that had a pause in front of the snapper on the end, 
and that pause was the most important thing in the 
whole story. If I got it the right length precisely, 
I could spring the finishing ejaculation with effect 
enough to make some impressible girl deliver a 
startled little yelp and jump out of her seat — and 
that was what 1 was after. This story was called 
" The Golden Arm," and was told in this fashion 

How to Tell a Story 

You can practise with it yourself — and mind yo« 
look out for the pause and get it right. 


Once j5on a time dey vvu^z_a_mojisjis_jneaa_.iaaa, 
en he live 'way out in de praiViV^llHone^ hy hisse lf, 
'cep'n heTiad a wife. En bimeby she died, en he 
tuck en toted her way out dah in de prairie e« 
buried her. Well, she had a golden arm — all solid 
gold, fum de shoulder down. He wuz pow'ful 
mean — pow'ful; en dat night he couldn't sleep, 
caze he want dat golden arm so bad. 

When it come midnight he couldn't stan' it no 
mo' ; so he git up, he did, en tuck his lantern en 
shoved out thoo de storm en dug her up en got de 
golden arm; en he bent his head down 'gin de win', 
en plowed en plowed en plowed thoo de snow. 
Den all on a sudden he stop (make a considerable 
pause here, and look startled, and take a listening 
attitude) en say: " My Ian y what's dat!" 

En he listen — en listen — en de win' say (set 
your teeth together and imitate the wailing and 
wheezing singsong of the wind), " Bzzz-z-zzz " — 
en den, way back yonder whah de grave is, he hear 
a voice ! — he hear a voice all mix' up in de win' — 
can't hardly tell 'em 'part — " Bzzz-zzz — W-h-o 
— g-o-t — m-y — g-o-l-d-e-n arm? — zzz — zzz — 
W-h-o g-o-t m-y g-o-l-d-e-n arm?" (You must 
begin to shiver violently now.) 

En he begin to shiver en shake, en say, ' ( Oh, 


14 How to Tell a Story 

way I Oh, my Ian' ! " en de win* blow de lantern 
eut, en de snow en sleet blow in his face en mos' 
choke him, en he start a-plowin' knee-deep towards 
home mos' dead, he so sk'yerd — en pooty soon 
he hear de voice agin, en (pause) it 'us comin' 
after him ! ' ' Bzzz — zzz — zzz — W-h-o — g-o-t — 
myy — g-o-l-d-e-n — arm? " 

When he git to de pasture he hear it agin — 
closter now, en Zrcomin' ! — a-comin' back dah in 
de dark en de storm — (repeat the wind and the 
voice). When he git to de house he rush up-stairs 
en jump in de bed en kiver up, head and years, en 
lay dah shiverin' en shakin' — en den way out dah 
he hear it agin! — en Zrcomin* ! En bimeby he 
hear (pause — awed, listening attitude) — pat — pat 
— pat — hifs a-comin' tip-stairs! Den he hear de 
latch, en he know it's in de room ! 

Den pooty soon he know it's a-stannin' by 
de bed! (Pause.) Den — he know it's 2,-bc7idiii 
down over him — en he cain't skasely git his 
breath! Den — den — he seem to feel someth'n 
c-e-l-d, right down 'most agin his head ! 

Den de voice say, right at his year — ' ' W-h-o — 
g-o-t — m-y — g-o-l-d-e-n arm?" (You must wail 
it out very plaintively and accusingly; then you 
stare steadily and impressively into the face of the 
farthest-gone auditor — a girl, preferably — and let 
that awe-inspiring pause begin to build itself in the 
deep hush. When it has reached exactly the right 

How to Tell a Story 15 

length, jump suddenly at that girl and yell, " You've 
got it!" 

If you've got the pause right, she'll fetch a dear 
little yelp and spring right out of her shoes. But 
you must get the pause right; and you will find it 
the most troublesome and aggravating and uncertain 
thing you ever undertook.) 



I HAVE committed sins, of course; but I have 
not committed enough of them to entitle me to 
the punishment of reduction to the bread and water 
of ordinary literature during six years when I might 
have been living on the fat diet spread for the 
righteous in Professor Dowden's Life of Shelley, if 
I had been justly dealt with. 

During these six years I have been living a life of 
peaceful ignorance. I was not aware that Shelley's 
first wife was unfaithful to him, and that that was 
why he deserted her and wiped the stain from his 
sensitive honor by entering into soiled relations with 
Godwin's young daughter. This was all new to me 
when I heard it lately, and was told that the proofs 
of it were in this book, and that this book's verdict 
is accepted in the girls' colleges of America and its 
view taught in their literary classes. 

In each of these six years multitudes of young 
people in our country have arrived at the Shelley- 
reading age. Are these six multitudes unacquainted 

with this life of Shelley? Perhaps they are; indeed, 


In Defence of Harriet Shelley 17 

one may feel pretty sure that the great bulk of them 
are. To these, then, I address myself, in the hope 
that some account of this romantic historical fable 
and the fabulist's manner of constructing and adorn- 
ing it may interest therh. 

First, as to its literary style. Our negroes in 
America have several ways of entertaining them- 
selves which are not found among the whites any- 
where. Among these inventions of theirs is one 
which is particularly popular with them. It is a 
competition in elegant deportment. They hire a 
hall and bank the spectators' seats in rising tiers 
along the two sides, leaving all the middle stretch of 
the floor free. A cake is provided as a prize for 
the winner in the competition, and a bench of ex- 
perts in deportment is appointed to award it. Some- 
times there are as many as fifty contestants, male 
and female, and five hundred spectators. One at a 
time the contestants enter, clothed regardless of ex- 
pense in what each considers the perfection of style 
and taste, and walk down the vacant central space 
and back again with that multitude of critical eyes 
on them. All that the competitor knows of fine airs 
and graces he throws into bis carriage, all that he 
knows of seductive expression he throws into his 
countenance. He may use all the helps he can 
devise: watch-chain to twirl with his fingers, cane 
to do graceful things with, snowy handkerchief to 
flourish and get artful effects out of, shiny new 
stovepipe hat to assist in his courtly bows ; and the 

18 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

colored lady may have a fan to work up her effects 
with, and smile over and blush behind, and she 
may add other helps, according to her judgment. 
When the review by individual detail is over, a grand 
review of all the contestants in procession follows, 
with all the airs and graces and all the bowings and 
smirkings on exhibition at once, and this enables 
the bench of experts to make the necessary com- 
parisons and arrive at a verdict. The successful 
competitor gets the prize which I have before men- 
tioned, and an abundance of applause and envy 
along with it. The negroes have a name for this 
grave deportment-tournament; a name taken from 
the prize contended for. They call it a Cake- 

This Shelley biography is a literary cake-walk. 
The ordinary forms of speech are absent from it. 
All the pages, all the paragraphs, walk by sedately, 
elegantly, not to say mincingly, in their Sunday- 
best, shiny and sleek, perfumed, and with bouton- 
nieres in their button-holes; it is rare to find even a 
chance sentence that has forgotten to dress. If the 
book wishes to tell us that Mary Godwin, child of 
sixteen, had known afflictions, the fact saunters 
forth in this nobby outfit: " Mary was herself not 
unlearned in the lore of pain " — meaning by that 
that she had not always traveled on asphalt; or, as 
some authorities would frame it, that she had " been 
there herself," a form which, while preferable to the 
book's form, is still not to be recommended. If the 


m Defence of Harriet Shelley 19 

book wishes to tell us that Harriet Shelley hired a 
wet-nurse, that commonplace fact gets turned into a 
dancing-master, who does his professional bow be- 
fore us in pumps and knee-breeches, with his fiddle 
under one arm and his crush-hat under the other, 
thus: "The beauty of Harriet's motherly relation 
to her babe was marred in Shelley's eyes by the 
introduction into his house of a hireling nurse 
to whom was delegated the mother's tenderest 

This is perhaps the strangest book that has seen 
the light since Frankenstein. Indeed, it is a Frank- 
enstein itself; a Frankenstein with the original in- 
firmity supplemented by a new one ; a Frankenstein 
with the reasoning faculty wanting. Yet it believes 
it can reason, and is always trying. It is not con- 
tent to leave a mountain of fact standing in the clear 
sunshine, where the simplest reader can perceive its 
form, its details, and its relation to the rest of the 
landscape, but thinks it must help him examine it 
and understand it; so its drifting mind settles upon 
it with that intent, but always with one and the same 
result: there is a charge of temperature and the 
mountain is hid in a fog. Every time it sets up a 
premise and starts to reason from it, there is a sur- 
prise in store for the reader. It is strangely near- 
sighted, cross-eyed, and purblind. Sometimes when 
a mastodon walks across the field of its vision it 
takes it for a rat ; at other times it does not sec it 
at all. 

20 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

The materials of this biographical fable are facts, 
rumors, and poetry. They are connected together 
and harmonized by the help of suggestion, conjec- 
ture, innuendo, perversion, and semi-suppression. 

The fable has a distinct object in view, but this 
object is not acknowledged in set words. Percy 
Bysshe Shelley has done something which in the 
case of other men is called a grave crime; it must 
be shown that in his case it is not that, because he 
does not think as other men do about these things. 

Ought not that to be enough, if the fabulist is 
serious? Having proved that a crime is not a crime, 
was it worth while to go on and fasten the respon- 
sibility of a crime which was not a crime upon some- 
body else? What is the use of hunting down and 
holding to bitter account people who are responsible 
for other people's innocent acts? 

Still, the fabulist thinks it a good idea to do that. 
In his view Shelley's first wife, Harriet, free of all 
•offense as far as we have historical facts for guidance, 
must be held unforgivably responsible for her hus- 
band's innocent act in deserting her and taking up 
with another woman. 

Any one will suspect that this task has its difficul- 
ties. Any one will divine that nice work is necessary 
here, cautious \Tork, wily work, and that there is 
entertainment to be had in watching the magician do 
it. There is indeed entertainment in watching him. 
He arranges his facts, his rumors, and his poems on 
his table in full view of the house, and shows you 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 21 

that everything is there — no deception, everything 
fair and above board. And this is apparently true, 
yet there is a defect, for some of his best stock is 
hid in an appendix-basket behind the door, and you 
do not come upon it until the exhibition is over and 
the enchantment of your mind accomplished — as 
the magician thinks. 

There is an insistent atmosphere of candor and 
fairness about this book which is engaging at first, 
then a little burdensome, then a trifle fatiguing, then 
progressively suspicious, annoying, irritating, and 
oppressive. It takes one some little time to find out 
that phrases which seem intended to guide the reader 
aright are there to mislead him ; that phrases which 
seem intended to throw light are there to throw 
darkness; that phrases which seem intended ta 
interpret a fact are there to misinterpret it; that 
phrases which seem intended to forestall prejudice 
are there to create it; that phrases which seem anti- 
dotes are poisons in disguise. The naked facts 
arrayed in the book establish Shelley's guilt in that 
one episode which disfigures his otherwise super- 
latively lofty and beautiful life; but the historian's 
careful and methodical misinterpretation of them 
transfers the responsibility to the wife's shoulders — 
as he persuades himself. . The few meagre facts of 
Harriet Shelley's life, as furnished by the book, 
acquit her of offense; but by calling in the for- 
bidden helps of rumor, gossip, conjecture, insinua- 
tion, and innuendo he destroys her character and 

22 in Defence of Harriet Shelley 

rehabilitates Shelley's — as he believes. And in 
truth his unheroic work has not been barren of the 
results he aimed at ; as witness the assertion made 
to me that girls in the colleges of America are 
taught that Harriet Shelley put a stain upon her 
husband's honor, and that that was what stung him 
into repurifying himself by deserting her and his 
child and entering into scandalous relations with a 
school-girl acquaintance of his. 

If that assertion is true, they probably use a re- 
duction of this work in those colleges, maybe only 
a sketch outlined from it. Such a thing as that 
could be harmful and misleading. They ought to 
cast it out and put the whole book in its place. It 
would not deceive. It would not deceive the janitor. 

All of this book is interesting on account of the 
sorcerer's methods and the attractiveness of some of 
his characters and the repulsiveness of the rest, but 
no part of it is so much so as are the chapters 
wherein he tries to think he thinks he sets forth the 
causes which led to Shelley's desertion of his wife in 

Harriet Westbrook was a school-girl sixteen years 
old. Shelley was teeming with advanced thought. 
He believed that Christianity was a degrading and 
selfish superstition, and he had a deep and sincere 
desire to rescue one of his sisters from it. Harriet 
was impressed by his various philosophies and 
looked upon him as an intellectual wonder — which 
indeed he was. He had an idea that she could give 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 23 

him valuable help in his scheme regarding his sister ; 
therefore he asked her to correspond with him. She 
was quite willing. Shelley was not thinking of love, 
for he was just getting over a passion for his cousin, 
Harriet Grove, and just getting well steeped in one 
for Miss Hitchener, a school-teacher. What might 
happen to Harriet Westbrook before the letter- 
writing was ended did not enter his mind. Yet an 
older person could have made a good guess at it, 
for in person Shelley was as beautiful as an angel, 
he was frank, sweet, winning, unassuming, and so 
rich in unselfishness, generosities, and magnanimities 
that he made his whole generation seem poor in 
these great qualities by comparison. Besides, he was 
in distress. His college had expelled him for writing 
an atheistical pamphlet and afflicting the reverend 
heads of the university with it, his rich father and 
grandfather had closed their purses against him, his 
friends were cold. Necessarily, Harriet fell in love 
with him; and so deeply, indeed, that there was no 
way for Shelley to save her from suicide but to 
marry her. He believed himself to blame for this 
state of things, so the marriage took place. He was 
pretty fairly in love with Harriet, although he loved 
Miss Hitchener better. He wrote and explained the 
case to Miss Hitchener after the wedding, and he 
could not have been franker or more naive and less 
stirred up about the circumstance if the matter in 

ssue had been a commercial transaction involving 

Jhirty-five dollars. 

24 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

Shelley was nineteen. He was not a youth, but 
a man. He had never had any youth. He was an 
erratic and fantastic child during eighteen years, 
then he stepped into manhood, as one steps over a 
door-sill. He was curiously mature at nineteen in 
his ability to do independent thinking on the deep 
questions of life and to arrive at sharply definite 
decisions regarding them, and stick to them — stick 
to them and stand by them at cost of bread, friend- 
ships, esteem, respect, and approbation. 

For the sake of his opinions he was willing to 
sacrifice all these valuable things, and did sacrifice 
them; and went on doing it, too, when he could at 
any moment have made himself rich and supplied 
himself with friends and esteem by compromising 
with his father, at the moderate expense of throwing 
overboard one or two indifferent details of his cargo 
of principles. 

He and Harriet eloped to Scotland and got mar- 
ried. They took lodgings in Edinburgh of a sort 
answerable to their purse, which was about empty, 
and there their life was a happy one and grew daily 
more so. They had only themselves for company, 
but they needed no additions to it. They were as 
cozy and contented as birds in a nest. Harriet sang 
evenings or read aloud ; also she studied and tried 
to improve her mind, her husband instructing her in 
Latin. She was very beautiful, she was modest, 
quiet, genuine, and, according to her husband's 
testimony, she had no tine lady airs or aspirations 

in Defence of Harriet Shelley 2$ 

about her. In Matthew Arnold's judgment, she 
was " a pleasing figure." 

The pair remained five weeks in Edinburgh, and 
then took lodgings in York, where Shelley's college 
mate, Hogg, lived. Shelley presently ran down to 
London, and Hogg took this opportunity to make 
love to the young wife. She repulsed him, and re- 
ported the fact to her husband when he got back. 
It seems a pity that Shelley did not copy this credit- 
able conduct of hers some time or other when under 
temptation, so that we might have seen the author 
of his biography hang the miracle in the skies and 
squirt rainbows at it. 

At the end of the first year of marriage — the 
most trying year for any young couple, for then the 
mutual failings are coming one by one to light, and 
the necessary adjustments are being made in pain 
and tribulation — Shelley was able to recognize that 
his marriage venture had been a safe one. As we 
have seen, his love for his wife had begun in a 
rather shallow way and with not much force, but 
now it was become deep and strong, which entitles 
his wife to a broad credit mark, one may admit. 
He addresses a long and loving poem to her, in 
which both passion and worship appear: 

Exhibit A 

"O thou 
Whose dear love gleamed upon the gloomy path 
Which this lone spirit travelled, 

• ••••••• 

. . . wilt thou not turn 

26 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

Those spirit-beaming eyes and look on me. 
Until I be assured that Earth is Heaven 
And Heaven is Earth ? 

Harriet ! let death all mortal ties dissolve, 
But ours shall not be mortal." 

Shelley also wrote a sonnet to her in August of 
this same year in celebration of her birthday : 

Exhibit B 

" Ever as now with Love and Virtue's glow 

May thy un withering soul not cease to burn, 
Still may thine heart with those pure thoughts o'erflow 
Which force from mine such quick and warm return.*' 

Was the girl of seventeen glad and proud and 
happy? We may conjecture that she was. 

That was the year 1 8 1 2 . Another year passed — 
still happily, still successfully — a child was born in 
June, 1 8 1 3 , and in September, three months later, 
Shelley addresses a poem to this child, Ianthe, in 
which he points out just when the little creature is 
most particularly dear to him : 

Exhibit C 

" Dearest when most thy tender traits express 
The image of thy mother's loveliness." 

Up to this point the fabulist counsel for Shelley 
and prosecutor of his young wife has had easy sailing, 
but now his trouble begins, for Shelley is getting 
ready to make some unpleasant history for himself, 
and it will be necessary to put the blame of it on the 

Shelley had made the acquaintance of a charming 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 2 7 

gray-haired, young-hearted Mrs. Boinville, whose 
face "retained a certain youthful beauty"; she 
lived at Bracknell, and had a young daughter named 
Cornelia Turner, who was equipped with many fasci- 
nations. Apparently these people were sufficiently 
sentimental. Hogg says of Mrs. Boinville: 

"The greater part of her associates were odious. I generally found 
there two or three sentimental young butchers, an eminently philo- 
sophical linker, and several very unsophisticated medical practitioners or 
medical students, all of low origin and vulgar and offensive manners. 
They sighed, turned up their eyes, retailed philosophy, such as it was," 

Shelley moved to Bracknell, July 27th (this is 
still 181 3) purposely to be near this unwholesome 
prairie-dogs' nest. The fabulist says: 4t It was the 
entrance into a world more amiable and exquisite 
than he had yet known." 

11 In this acquaintance the attraction was mutual " 
— and presently it grew to be very mutual indeed, 
between Shelley and Cornelia Turner, when they 
got to studying the Italian poets together. Shelley, 
" responding like a tremulous instrument to every 
breath of passion or of sentiment," had his chance 
here. It took only four days for Cornelia's attrac- 
tions to begin to dim Harriet's. Shelley arrived on 
the 27th of July; on the 31st he wrote a sonnet to 
Harriet in which " one detects already the little rift 
in the lover's lute which had seemed to be healed or 
never to have gaped at all when the later and hap- 
pier sonnet to Ianthe was written" — in September, 
we remember: 

28 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

Exhibit D 


** O thou bright Sun ! Beneath the dark blue line 
Of western distance that sublime descendesi, 
And, gleaming lovelier as thy beams decline, 
Thy million hues to every vapor lendest, 
And over cobweb, lawn, and grove, and stream 
Sheddest the liquid magic of thy light, 
Till calm Earth, with the parting splendor bright, 
Shows like the vision of a beauteous dream; 
What gazer now with astronomic eye 
Could coldly count the spots within thy sphere ? 
Such were thy lover, Harriet, could he fly 
The thoughts of all that makes his passion dear, 
And turning senseless from thy warm caress 
Pick flaws in our close- woven happiness." 

I cannot find the " rift " ; still it may be there. 
What the poem seems to say is, that a person would 
be coldly ungrateful who could consent to count and 
consider little spots and flaws in such a warm, great, 
satisfying sun as Harriet is. It is a " little rift 
which had seemed to be healed, or never to have 
gaped at all." That is, ** one detects " a little rift 
which perhaps had never existed. How does one 
do that ? How does one see the invisible? It is the 
fabulist's secret; he knows how to detect what does 
not exist, he knows how to see what is not seeable ; 
it is his gift, and he works it many a time to poor 
dead Harriet Shelley's deep damage. 

'* As yet, however, if there was a speck upon 
Shelley's happiness it was no more than a speck " 
— meaning the one which one detects where ' it 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 29 

may never have gaped at all " — ** nor had Harriet 
cause for discontent." 

Shelley's Latin instructions to his wife had ceased. 
44 From a teacher he had now become a pupil." 
Mrs. Boinville and her young married daughter 
Cornelia were teaching him Italian poetry; a fact 
which warns one to receive with some caution that 
other statement that Harriet had no ** cause for dis- 

Shelley had stopped instructing Harriet in Latin, 
as before mentioned. The biographer thinks that 
the busy life in London some time back, and the 
intrusion of the baby, account for this. These were 
hindrances, but were there no others? He Is always 
overlooking a detail here and there that might be 
valuable in helping us understand a situation. For 
instance, when a man has been hard at work at the 
Italian poets with a pretty woman, hour after hour, 
and responding like a tremulous instrument to every 
breath of passion or of sentiment in the meantime, 
that man is dog-tired when he gets home, and he 
can't teach his wife Latin ; it would be unreasonable 
to expect it. 

Up to this time we have submitted to having Mrs. 
Boinville pushed upon us as ostensibly concerned in 
these Italian lessons, but the biographer drops her 
now, of his own accord. Cornelia ** perhaps " is 
sole teacher. Hogg says she was a prey to a kind 
of sweet melancholy, arising from causes purely 
imaginary; she required consolation, and found it 

30 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

in Petrarch. He also says, " Bysshe entered at once 
fully into her views and caught the soft infection, 
breathing the tenderest and sweetest melancholy, 
as every true poet ought." 

Then the author of the book interlards a most 
stately and fine compliment to Cornelia, furnished 
by a man of approved judgment who knew her well 
44 in later years." It is a very good compliment 
indeed, and she no doubt deserved it in her M later 
years," when she had for generations ceased to be 
sentimental and lackadaisical, and was no longer en- 
gaged in enchanting young husbands and sowing 
sorrow for young wives. But why is that compli- 
ment to that old gentlewoman intruded there? Is it 
to make the reader believe she was well-chosen and 
safe society for a young, sentimental husband? The 
biographer's device was not well planned. That old 
person was not present — it was her other self that 
was there, her young, sentimental, melancholy, 
warm-blooded self, in those early sweet times before 
antiquity had cooled her off and mossed her back. 

44 In choosing for friends such women as Mrs. 
Newton, Mrs. Boinville, and Cornelia Turner, Shel- 
ley gave good proof of his insight and discrimi- 
nation." That is the fabulist's opinion — Harriet 
Shelley's is not reported. 

Early in August, Shelley was in London trying 
to raise money. In September he wrote the poem 
to the baby, already quoted from. In the first week 
of October Shelley and family went to Warwick, 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 51 

then to Edinburgh, arriving there about the middle 
of the month. 

11 Harriet was happy." Why? The author fur- 
nishes a reason, but hides from us whether it is 
history or conjecture; it is because "the babe had 
borne the journey well." It has all the aspect of one 
of his artful devices — flung in in his favorite casual 
way — the way he has when he wants to draw one's 
attention away from an obvious thing and amuse it 
with some trifle that is less obvious but more useful 
— in a history like this. The obvious thing is, that 
Harriet was happy because there was much territory 
between her husband and Cornelia Turner now; and 
because the perilous Italian lessons were taking a 
rest; and because, if there chanced to be any re- 
spondings like a tremulous instrument to every 
breath of passion or of sentiment in stock in these 
days, she might hope to get a share of them herself; 
and because, with her husband liberated, now, from 
the fetid fascinations of that sentimental retreat so 
pitilessly described by Hogg, who also dubbed it 
" Shelley's paradise " later, she might hope to per- 
suade him to stay away from it permanently; and 
because she might also hope that his brain would 
cool, now, and his heart become healthy, and both 
brain and heart consider the situation and resolve 
that it would be a right and manly thing to stand by 
this girl-wife and her child and see that they were 
honorably dealt with, and cherished and protected 
and loved by the man that had promised these 

32 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

things, and so be made happy and kept so. And 
because, also — may we conjecture this? — we may 
hope for the privilege of taking up our cozy Latin 
lessons again, that used to be so pleasant, and 
brought us so near together — so near, indeed, that 
often our heads touched, just as heads do over 
Italian lessons ; and our hands met in casual and 
unintentional, but still most delicious and thrilling 
little contacts and momentary clasps, just as they 
inevitably do over Italian lessons. Suppose one 
should say to any young wife: " I find that your 
husband is poring over the Italian poets and being 
instructed in the beautiful Italian language by the 
lovely Cornelia Robinson " — would that cozy pic- 
ture fail to rise before her mind? would its possi- 
bilities fail to suggest themselves to her? would 
there be a pang in her heart and a blush on her 
face? or, on the contrary, would the remark give 
her pleasure, make her joyous and gay? Why, one 
needs only to make the experiment — the result will 
not be uncertain. 

However, we learn — by authority of deeply rea- 
soned and searching conjecture — that the baby bore 
the journey well, and that that was why the young 
wife was happy. That accounts for two per cent. 
of the happiness, but it was not right to imply that 
it accounted for the other ninety-eight also. 

Peacock, a scholar, poet, and friend of the Shel- 
leys, was of their party when they went away. He 
used to laugh at the Boinville menagerie, and " was 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 33 

not a favorite." One of the Boinville group, writing 
to Hogg, said, " The Shelleys have made an addi- 
tion to their party in the person of a cold scholar, 
who, I think, has neither taste nor feeling. This, 
Shelley will perceive sooner or later, for his warm 
nature craves sympathy." True, and Shelley will 
fight his way back there to get it — there will be no 
way to head him off. 

Towards the end of November it was necessar) 
for Shelley to pay a business visit to London, and 
he conceived the project of leaving Harriet and the 
baby in Edinburgh with Harriet's sister, Eliza West- 
brook, a sensible, practical maiden lady about thirty 
Vears old, who had spent a great part of her time 
jrith the family since the marriage. She was aa 
estimable woman, and Shelley had had reason to 
like her, and did like her ; but along about this time 
his feeling towards her changed. Part of Shelley's 
plan, as he wrote Hogg, was to spend his London 
evenings with the Newtons — members of the Boin- 
ville Hysterical Society. But, alas, when he arrived 
early in December, that pleasant game was partially 
blocked, for Eliza and the family arrived with him. 
We are left destitute of conjectures at this point by 
the biographer, and it is my duty to supply one. I 
chance the conjecture that it was Eliza who inter- 
fered with that game. I think she tried to do what 
she could towards modifying the Boinville connec- 
tion, in the interest of her young sister's peace and 

34 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

If it was she who blocked that game, she was not 
strong enough to block the next one. Before the 
month and year were out — no date given, let us 
call it Christmas — Shelley and family were nested 
in a furnished house in Windsor, "at no great dis- 
tance from the Boinvilles " — these decoys still re- 
siding at Bracknell. 

What we need, now, is a misleading conjecture. 
We get it with characteristic promptness and de- 
pravity : 

" But Prince Athanase found not the aged Zonoras, the friend of his 
boyhood, in any wanderings to Windsor. Dr. Lind had died a year 
since, and with his death Windsor must have lost, for Shelley, its chief 

Still, not to mention Shelley's wife, there was 
Bracknell, at any rate. While Bracknell remains, 
all solace is not lost. Shelley is represented by this 
biographer as doing a great many careless things, 
but to my mind this hiring a furnished house for 
three months in order to be with a man who has 
been dead a year, is the carelessest of them all. 
One feels for him — that is but natural, and does 
os honor besides — yet one is vexed, for all that. 
He could have written and asked about the aged 
Zonoras before taking the house. He may not have 
had the address, but that is nothing — any postman 
would know the aged Zonoras ; a dead postman 
would remember a name like that. 

And yet, why throw a rag like this to us ravening 
wolves? Is it seriously supposable that we will stop 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 35 

to chew it and let our prey escape? No, we are 
getting to expect this kind of device, and to give it 
merely a sniff for certainty's sake and then walk 
around it and leave it lying. Shelley was not after 
the aged Zonoras ; he was pointed for Cornelia and 
the Italian lessons, for his warm nature was craving 


The year 1813 is just ended now, and we step 
into 1 8 14. 

To recapitulate, how much of Cornelia's society 
has Shelley had, thus far? Portions of August and 
September, and four days of July. That is to say, 
he has had opportunity to enjoy it, more or less, 
during that brief period. Did ho want some more 
of it? We must fall back upon history, and then 
go to conjecturing. 

" In the early part of the year 1814, Shelley was a frequent visitor at 

** Frequent "is a cautious word, in this author's 
mouth ; the very cautiousness of it, the vagueness of 
it, provokes suspicion ; it makes one suspect that 
this frequency was more frequent than the mere 
common everyday kinds of frequency which one is 
in the habit of averaging up with the unassuming 
term " frequent." I think so because they fixed 
up a bedroom for him in the Boinville house. One 

36 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

doesn't need a bedroom if one is only going to run 
over now and then in a disconnected way to respond 
like a tremulous instrument to every breath of pas- 
sion or of sentiment and rub up one's Italian poetry 
a little. 

The young wife was not invited, perhaps. If she 
was, she most certainly did not come, or she would 
have straightened the room up ; the most ignorant 
of us knows that a wife would not endure a room in 
the condition in which Hogg found this one when 
he occupied it one night. Shelley was away — why, 
nobody can divine. Clothes were scattered about, 
there were books on every side: " Wherever a 
book could be laid was an open book turned down 
on its face to keep its place." It seems plain that 
the wife was not invited. No, not that; I think she 
was invited, but said to herself that she could not 
bear to go there and see another young woman 
touching heads with her husband over an Italian 
book and making thrilling hand-contacts with him 

As remarked, he was a frequent visitor there, 
11 where he found an easeful resting-place in the 
house of Mrs. Boinville — the white-haired Maimuna 
— and of her daughter, Mrs. Turner." The aged 
Zonoras was deceased, but the white-haired Maimuna 
was still on deck, as we see. M Three charming 
ladies entertained the mocker (Hogg) with cups of 
tea, late hours, Wieland's Agathon, sighs and smiles, 
and the celestial manna of refined sentiment." 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 37 

" Such," says Hogg, " were the delights of Shel- 
ley's paradise in Bracknell." 

The white-haired Maimuna presently writes to 

H I will not have you despise home-spun pleasures. Shelley is 
making a trial of them with us — " 

A trial of them. It may be called that. It was 
March 11, and he had been in the house a month. 
She continues : 

Shelley "likes them so well that he is resolved to leave off ram- 

But he has already left it off. He has been there 
a month. 

" And begin a course of them himself." 

But he has already begun it. He has been at it a 
month. He likes it so well that he has forgotten all 
about his wife, as a letter of his reveals. 

M Seriously, I think his mind and body want rest." 

Yet he has been resting both for a month, with 
Italian, and tea, and manna of sentiment, and late 
hours, and every restful thing a young husband 
could need for the refreshment of weary limbs and a 
sore conscience, and a nagging sense of shabbiness 
and treachery. 

" His journeys after what he has never found have racked his purse 
and his tranquillity. He is resolved to take a little care of the former, 
in pity to the latter, which I applaud, and shall second with all my 

But she does not say whether the young wife, .1 

38 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

stranger and lonely yonder, wants another woman 
and her daughter Cornelia to be lavishing so much 
inflamed interest on her husband or not. That 
young wife is always silent — we are never allowed 
to hear from her. She must have opinions about 
such things, she cannot be indifferent, she must be. 
approving or disapproving, surely she would speak 
if she were allowed — even to-day and from her 
grave she would, if she could, I think — but we 
get only the other side, they keep her silent always. 

"He has deeply interested us. In the course of your intimacy he 
must have made you feel what we now feel for him. He is seeking a 
house close to us — " 

Ah ! he is not close enough yet, it seems — 

" and if he succeeds we shall have an additional motive to induce you 
to come among us m the summer." 

The reader would puzzle a long time and not 
guess the biographer's comment upon the above 
letter. It is this: 

" These sound like words of a considerate and judicious friend." 

That is what he thinks. That is, it is what he 
thinks he thinks. No, that is not quite it: it is what 
he thinks he can stupefy a particularly and unspeak- 
ably dull reader into thinking it is what he thinks. 
He makes that comment with the knowledge that 
Shelley is in love with this woman's daughter, and 
that it is because of the fascinations of these two 
that Shelley has deserted his wife — for this month, 
considering all the circumstances, and his new pas- 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 39 

sion, and his employment of the time, amounted to 
desertion; that is its rightful name. We cannot 
know how the wife regarded it and felt about it; 
but if she could have read the letter which Shelley 
was writing to Hogg four or five days later, we 
could guess her thought and how she felt. Hear 
him : 

• ••••••• 

" I have been staying with Mrs. Boinville for the last month; I have 
escaped, in the society of all that philosophy and friendship combine, 
from the dismaying solitude of myself." 

It is fair to conjecture that he was feeling ashamed. 

"They have revived in my heart the expiring flame of life. I have 
felt myself translated to a paradise which has nothing of mortality but 
its transitoriness; my heart sickens at the view of that necessity which 
will quickly divide me from the delightful tranquillity of this happy 
home — for it has become my home. 

• ••••••• 

" Eliza is still with us — not here! — but will be with me when the 
infinite malice of destiny forces me to depart." 

Eliza is she who blocked that game — the game 
in London — the one where we were purposing to 
dine every night with one of the M three charming 
ladies " who fed tea and manna and late hours to 
Hogg at Bracknell. 

Shelley could send Eliza away, of course ; could 
have cleared her out long ago if so minded, just 
as he had previously done with a predecessor of 
hers whom he had first worshiped and then turned 
against; but perhaps she was useful there as a thin 
excuse for staying away himself. 

40 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

" I am now but little inclined to contest this point. I certainly hate 
her with all my heart and soul. . . . 

"It is a sight which awakens an inexpressible sensation of disgust 
and horror, to see her caress my poor little Ianthe, in whom I may 
hereafter find the consolation of sympathy. I sometimes feel faint 
with the fatigue of checking the overflowings of my unbounded ab- 
horrence for this miserable wretch. But she is no more than a blind 
and loathsome worm, that cannot see to sting. 

" I have begun to learn Italian again. . . . Cornelia assists me in 
this language. Did I not once tell you that I thought her cold and re- 
served? She is the reverse of this, as she is the reverse of everything 
bad. She inherits all the divinity of her mother. ... I have some- 
times forgotten that I am not an inmate of this delightful home — that a 
time will come which will cast me again into the boundless ocean of 
abhorred society. 

" I have written nothing but one stanza, which has no meaning, and 
that I have only written in thought : 

11 Thy dewy looks sink in my breast; 

Thy gentle words stir poison there; 
Thou hast disturbed the only rest 

That was the portion of despair. 
Subdued to duty's hard control, 

I could have borne my wayward lot : 
The chains that bind this ruined soul 

Had cankered then, but crushed it not. 

"This is the vision of a delirious and distempered dream, which 
passes away at the cold clear light of morning. Its surpassing excel- 
lence and exquisite perfections have no more reality than the color of an 
autumnal sunset." 

Then it did not refer to his wife. That is plain; 
otherwise he would have said so. It is well that he 
explained that it has no meaning, for if he had not 
done that, the previous soft references to Cornelia 
and the way he has come to feel about her now 
would make us think she was the person who had 

In Defence of Harriet snelley 41 

inspired it while teaching him how to read the warm 
and ruddy Italian poets during a month. 

The biography observes that portions of this letter 
11 read like the tired moaning of a wounded crea- 
ture." Guesses at the nature of the wound are 
permissible ; we will hazard one. 

Read by the light of Shelley's previous history, 
his letter seems to be the cry of a tortured con- 
science. Until this time it was a conscience that 
had never felt a pang or known a smirch. It was 
the conscience of one who, until this time, had never 
done a dishonorable thing, or an ungenerous, or 
cruel, or treacherous thing, but was now doing all 
of these, and was keenly aware of it. Up to this 
time Shelley had been master of his nature, and it 
was a nature which was as beautiful and as nearly 
perfect as any merely human nature may be. But 
he was drunk now, with a debasing passion, and 
was not himself. There is nothing in his previous 
history that is in character with the Shelley of this 
letter. He had done boyish things, foolish things, 
even crazy things, but never a thing to be ashamed 
of. He had done things which one might laugh at, 
but the privilege of laughing was limited always to 
the thing itself; you could not laugh at the motive 
back of it — that was high, that was noble. His 
most fantastic and quixotic acts had a purpose back 
of them which made them fine, often great, and 
made the rising laugh seem profanation and quenched 
it; quenched it, and changed the impulse to homage. 

42 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

Up to this time he had been loyalty itself, where his 
obligations lay — treachery was new to him ; he had 
never done an ignoble thing — baseness was new to 
him; he had never done an unkind thing — that 
also was new to him. 

This was the author of that letter, this was the 
man who had deserted his young wife and was 
lamenting, bcause he must leave another woman's 
house which had become a " home " to him, and go 
away. Is he lamenting mainly because he must go 
back to his wife and child? No, the lament is 
mainly for what he is to leave behind him. The 
physical comforts of the house? No, in his life he 
had never attached importance to such things. 
Then the thing which he grieves to leave is narrowed 
down to a person — to the person whose ' ' dewy 
looks " had sunk into his breast, and whose seducing 
words had " stirred poison there." 

He was ashamed of himself, his conscience was 
upbraiding him. He was the slave of a degrading 
love; he was drunk with his passion, the real Shel- 
ley was in temporary eclipse. This is the verdict 
which his previous history must certainly deliver 
upon this episode, I think. 

One must be allowed to assist himself with conject- 
ures like these when trying to find his way through 
a literary swamp which has so many misleading 
finger-boards up as this book is furnished with. 

We have now arrived at a part of the swamp 
where the difficulties and perplexities are going to 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 43 

be greater than any we have yet met with — where, 
indeed, the finger-boards are multitudinous, and the 
most of them pointing diligently in the wrong direc- 
tion. We are to be told by the biography wh> 
Shelley deserted his wife and child and took up with 
Cornelia Turner and Italian. It was not on account 
of Cornelia's sighs and sentimentalities and tea and 
manna and late hours and soft and sweet and indus- 
trious enticements; no, it was because "his happi- 
ness in his home had been wounded and bruised 
almost to death." 

It had been wounded and bruised almost to death 
in this way: 

1st. Harriet persuaded him to set up a carriage. 

2d. After the intrusion of the baby, Harriet 
stopped reading aloud and studying. 

3d. Harriet's walks with Hogg " commonly con- 
ducted us to some fashionable bonnet-shop." 

4th. Harriet hired a wet-nurse. 

5th. When an operation was being performed 
upon the baby, " Harriet stood by, narrowly ob- 
serving all that was done, but, to the astonishment 
of the operator, betraying not the smallest sign of 

6th. Eliza Westbrook, sister-in-law, was still of 
the household. 

The evidence against Harriet Shelley is all in ; 
there is no more. Upon these six counts she stands 
indicted of the crime of driving her husband into 
that sty at Bracknell; and this crime, by these helps, 

44 ki Defence of Harriet Shelley 

the biographical prosecuting attorney has set himself 
the task of proving upon her. 

Does the biographer call himself the attorney for 
the prosecution? No, only to himself, privately; 
publicly he is the passionless, disinterested, impartial 
judge on the bench. He holds up his judicial scales 
before the world, that all may see; and it all tries 
to look so fair that a blind person would sometimes 
fail to see him slip the false weights in. 

ShelLey's happiness in his home had been wounded 
and bruised almost to death, first, because Harriet 
had persuaded him to set up a carriage. I cannot 
discover that any evidence is offered that she asked 
him to set up a carriage. Still, if she did, was it a 
heavy offence? Was it unique? Other young wives 
had committed it before, others have committed it 
since. Shelley had dearly loved her in those Lon- 
don days; possibly he set up the carriage gladly to 
please her; affectionate young husbands do such 
things. When Shelley ran away with another girl, 
by-and-by, this girl persuaded him to pour the price 
of many carriages and many horses down the 
bottomless well of her father's debts, but this im- 
partial judge finds no fault with that. Once she 
appeals to Shelley to raise money — necessarily by 
borrowing, there was no other way — to pay her 
father's debts with at a time when Shelley was in 
danger of being arrested and imprisoned for his own 
debts; yet the good judge finds no fault with her 
even for this. 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 45 

First and last, Shelley emptied into that rapacious 
mendicant's lap a sum which cost him — for he 
borrowed it at ruinous rates — from eighty to one 
hundred thousand dollars. But it was Mary God- 
win's papa, the supplications were often sent through 
Mary, the good judge is Mary's strenuous friend, so 
Mary gets no censures. On the Continent Mary 
rode in her private carriage ', built, as Shelley boasts, 
44 by one of the best makers in Bond Street," yet 
the good judge makes not even a passing comment 
on this iniquity. Let us throw out Count No. 1 
against Harriet Shelley as being far-fetched and 

Shelley's happiness in his home had been wounded 
and bruised almost to death, secondly, because Har- 
riet's studies " had dwindled away to nothing, 
Bysshe had ceased to express any interest in them." 
At what time was this? It was when Harriet " had 
fully recovered from the fatigue of her first effort of 
maternity,. . . and was now in full force, vigor, 
and effect." Very well, the baby was born two 
days before the close of June. It took the mother 
a month to get back her full force, vigor, and effect; 
this brings us to July 27th and the deadly Cornelia. 
If a wife of eighteen is studying with her husband 
and he gets smitten with another woman, isn't he 
likely to lose interest in his wife's studies for that 
reason, and is not his wife's interest in her studies 
likely to languish for the same reason? Would not 
the mere sight of those books of hers sharpen the 


46 in Defence of Harriet Shelley 

pain that is in her heart? This sudden breaking 
down of a mutual intellectual interest of two years' 
standing is coincident with Shelley's re-encounter 
with Cornelia; and we are allowed to gather from 
that time forth for nearly two months he did all his 
studying in that person's society. We feel at 
liberty to rule out Count No. 2 from the indictment 
against Harriet. 

Shelley's happiness in his home had been wounded 
and bruised almost to death, thirdly, because Har- 
riet's walks with Hogg commonly led to some 
fashionable bonnet-shop. I offer no palliation; I 
only ask why the dispassionate, impartial judge did 
not offer one himself — merely, I mean, to offset his 
leniency in a similar case or two where the girl who 
ran away with Harriet's husband was the shopper. 
There are several occasions where she interested 
herself with shopping — among them being walks 
which ended at the bonnet-shop — yet in none of 
these cases does she get a word of blame from the 
good judge, while in one of them he covers the deed 
with a justifying remark, she doing the shopping 
that time to find easement for her mind, her child 
having died. 

Shelley's happiness in his home had been wounded 
and bruised almost to death, fourthly, by the intro- 
duction there of a wet-nurse. The wet-nurse was 
introduced at the time of the Edinburgh sojourn, 
immediately after Shelley had been enjoying the two 
months of study with Cornelia which broke up his 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 47 

wife's studies and destroyed his personal interest in 
them. Why, by this time, nothing that Shelley's 
wife could do would have been satisfactory to him, 
for he was in love with another woman, and was 
never going to be contented again until he got back 
to her. If he had been still in love with his wife it 
is not easily conceivable that he would care much 
who nursed the baby, provided the baby was well 
nursed. Harriet's jealousy was assuredly voicing 
itself now, Shelley's conscience was assuredly nag- 
ging him, pestering him, persecuting him. Shelley 
needed excuses for his altered attitude towards his 
wife; Providence pitied him and sent the wet-nurse. 
If Providence had sent him a cotton doughnut it 
would have answered just as well; all he wanted 
was something to find fault with. 

Shelley's happiness in his home had been wounded 
and bruised almost to death, fifthly, because Harriet 
narrowly watched a surgical operation which was 
being performed upon her child, and, " to the 
astonishment of the operator," who was watching 
Harriet instead of attending to his operation, she 
betrayed " not the smallest sign of emotion." The 
author of this biography was not ashamed to set 
down that exultant slander. He was apparently not 
aware that it was a small business to bring into his 
court a witness whose name he does not know, and 
whose character and veracity there is none to 
vouch for, and allow him to strike this blow at the 
mother-heart of this friendless girl. The biographer 

48 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

says, 4< We may not infer from this that Harriet did 
not feel " — why put it in, then? — " but we learn 
that those about her could believe her to be hard 
and insensible." Who were those who were about 
her? Her husband? He hated her now, because he 
was in love elsewhere. Her sister? Of course that 
is not charged. Peacock? Peacock does not testify. 
The wet-nurse? She does not testify. If any others 
were there we have no mention of them. M Those 
about her" are reduced to one person — her hus- 
band. Who reports the circumstance? It is Hogg. 
Perhaps he was there — we do not know. But if he 
was, he still got his information at second-hand, as 
it was the operator who noticed Harriet's lack of 
emotion, not himself. Hogg is not given to saying 
kind things when Harriet is his subject. He may 
have said them the time that he tried to tempt her 
to soil her honor, but after that he mentions her 
usually with a sneer. " Among those who were 
about her" was one witness well equipped to 
silence all tongues, abolish all doubts, set our minds at 
rest; one witness, not called, and not callable, whose 
evidence, if we could but get it, would outweigh 
the oaths of whole battalions of hostile Hoggs and 
nameless surgeons — the baby. I wish we had the 
baby's testimony; and yet if we had it it would not 
-do us any good — a furtive conjecture, a sly insinua- 
tion, a pious " if " or two, would be smuggled in, 
here and there, with a solemn air of judicial investi- 
gation, and its positiveness would wilt into dubiety. 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 49 

The biographer says of Harriet, * 4 If words of 
tender affection and motherly pride proved the 
reality of love, then undoubtedly she loved her first- 
born child." That is, if mere empty words can 
prove it, it stands proved — and in this way, with- 
out committing himself, he gives the reader a chance 
to infer that there isn't any extant evidence but 
words, and that he doesn't take much stock in them. 
How seldom he shows his hand ! He is always lurk- 
ing behind a non-committal t4 if " or something of 
that kind; always gliding and dodging around, dis- 
tributing colorless poison here and there and every- 
where, but always leaving himself in a position to 
say that his language will be found innocuous if 
taken to pieces and examined. He clearly exhibits 
a steady and never-relaxing purpose to make Harriet 
the scapegoat for her husband's first great sin — but 
it is in the general view that this is revealed, not in 
the details. His insidious literature is like blue 
water; you know what it is that makes it blue, but 
you cannot produce and verify any detail of the 
cloud of microscopic dust in it that does it. Your 
adversary can dip up a glassful and show you that 
it is pure white and you cannot deny it ; and he can 
dip the lake dry, glass by glass, and show that 
every glassful is white, and prove it to any one's 
eye — and yet that lake zvas blue and you can swear 
it. This book is blue — with slander in solution. 

Let the reader examine, for example, the para- 
graph of comment which immediately follows the 

50 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

letter containing Shelley's self-exposure which we 
have been considering. This is it. One should in- 
spect the individual sentences as they go by, then 
pass them in procession and review the cake-walk as 
a whole : 

" Shelley's happiness in his home, as is evident from this pathetic 
letter, had been fatally stricken; it is evident, also, that he knew where 
duty lay; he felt that his part was to take up his burden, silently and 
sorrowfully, and to bear it henceforth with the quietness of despair. 
But we can perceive that he scarcely possessed the strength and fortitude 
needful for success in such an attempt. And clearly Shelley himself was 
aware how perilous it was to accept that respite of blissful ease which 
he enjoyed in the Boinville household; for gentle voices and dewy looks 
and words of sympathy could not fail to remind him of an ideal of 
tranquillity or of joy which could never be his, and which he must 
henceforth sternly exclude from his imagination." 

That paragraph commits the author in no way. 
Taken sentence by sentence it asserts nothing against 
anybody or in favor of anybody, pleads for nobody, 
accuses nobody. Taken detail by detail, it is as 
innocent as moonshine. And yet, taken as a whole, 
it is a design against the reader; its intent is to re- 
move the feeling which the letter must leave with 
him if let alone, and put a different one in its place 
— to remove a feeling justified by the letter and 
substitute one not justified by it. The letter itself 
gives you no uncertain picture — no lecturer is 
needed to stand by with a stick and point out its 
details and let on to explain what they mean. The 
picture is the very clear and remorsefully faithful 
picture of a fallen and fettered angel who is ashamed 
of himself; an angel who beats his soiled wings and 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 51 

cries, who complains to the woman who enticed him 
that he could have borne his wayward lot, he could 
have stood by his duty if it had not been for her 
beguilements ; an angel who rails at the " boundless 
ocean of abhorred society,' ' and rages at his poor 
judicious sister-in-law. If there is any dignity about 
this spectacle it will escape most people. 

Yet when the paragraph of comment is taken as a 
whole, the picture is full of dignity and pathos; we 
have before us a blameless and noble spirit stricken 
to the earth by malign powers, but not conquered ; 
tempted, but grandly putting the temptation away; 
enmeshed by subtle coils, but sternly resolved to 
rend them and march forth victorious, at any peril 
of life or limb. Curtain — slow music. 

Was it the purpose of the paragraph to take the 
bad taste of Shelley's letter out of the reader's 
mouth? If that was not it, good ink was wasted; 
without that, it has no relevancy — the multiplica- 
tion table would have padded the space as rationally. 

We have inspected the six reasons which we are 
asked to believe drove a man of conspicuous 
patience, honor, justice, fairness, kindliness, and 
iron firmness, resolution, and steadfastness, from 
the wife whom he loved and who loved him, to a 
refuge in the mephitic paradise of Bracknell. These 
are six infinitely little reasons; but there were six 
colossal ones, and these the counsel for the destruc- 
tion of Harriet Shelley persists in not considering 
very important. 

52 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

Moreover, the colossal six preceded the little six 
and had done the mischief before they were born 
Let us double-column the twelve; then we shall see 
at a glance that each little reason is in turn answered 
by a retorting reason of a size to overshadow it and 
make it insignificant: 

1. Harriet sets up carriage. I. CORNELIA TURNER. 

2. Harriet slops studying, 2. CORNELIA TURNER. 

3. Harriet goes to bonnet-shop. 3- CORNELIA TURNER. 

4. Harriet takes a wet-nurse. 4- CORNELIA TURNER. 
5 Harriet has too much nerve. 5- CORNELIA TURNER. 
6. Detested sistei -in-law. 6. CORNELIA TURNER. 

As soon as we comprehend that Cornelia Turne\ 
and the Italian lessons happened before the little six 
had been discovered to be grievances, we understand 
why Shelley's happiness in his home had been 
wounded and bruised almost to death, and no one 
can persuade us into laying it on Harriet. Shelley 
and Cornelia are the responsible persons, and we 
cannot in honor and decency allow the cruelties 
which they practised upon the unoffending wife to 
be pushed aside in order to give us a chance to waste 
time and tears over six sentimental justifications of 
an offence which the six can't justify, nor even re- 
spectably assist in justifying. 

Six ? There were seven ; but in charity to the 
biographer the seventh ought not to be exposed. 
Still, he hung it out himself, and not only hung it 
out, but thought it was a good point in Shelley's 
favor. For two years Shelley found sympathy and 
intellectual food and all that at home; there was 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 55 

enough for spiritual and mental support, but not 
enough for luxury; and so, at the end of the con- 
tented two years, this latter detail justifies him in 
going bag and baggage over to Cornelia Turner and 
supplying the rest of his need in the way of surplus 
sympathy and intellectual pie unlawfully. By the 
same reasoning a man in merely comfortable circum- 
stances may rob a bank without sin. 


It is 1 8 14, it is the 16th of March, Shelley has 
written his letter, he has been in the Boinvilie 
paradise a month, his deserted wife is in her hus- 
bandless home. Mischief had been wrought. It is 
the biographer who concedes this. We greatly need 
some light on Harriet's side of the case now; wt 
need to know how she enjoyed the month, but there 
is no way to inform ourselves; there seems to be a 
strange absence of documents and letters and diaries 
on that side. Shelley kept a diary, the approaching 
Mary Godwin kept a diary, her father kept one, her 
half-sister by marriage, adoption, and the dispensa- 
tion of God kept one, and the entire tribe and all its 
friends wrote and received letters, and the letters 
were kept and are producible when this biography 
needs them; but there are only three or four scraps 
of Harriet's writing, and no diary. Harriet wrote 
plenty of letters to her husband — nobody knows 

54 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

where they are, I suppose; she wrote plenty of 
letters to other people — apparently they have dis- 
appeared, too. Peacock says she wrote good letters, 
but apparently interested people had sagacity enough 
to mislay them in time. After all her industry she 
went down into her grave and lies silent there — 
silent, when she has so much need to speak. We 
can only wonder at this mystery, not account for it. 
No, there is no way of finding out what Harriet's 
state of feeling was during the month that Shelley 
was disporting himself in the Bracknell paradise. 
We have to fall back upon conjecture, as our fabu- 
list does when he has nothing more substantial to 
work with. Then we easily conjecture that as the 
days dragged by Harriet's heart grew heavier and 
heavier under its two burdens — shame and resent- 
ment: the shame of being pointed at and gossiped 
about as a deserted wife, and resentment against the 
woman who had beguiled her husband from her and 
bow kept him in a disreputable captivity. Deserted 
wives — deserted whether for cause or without cause 
— find small charity among the virtuous and the dis- 
creet. We conjecture that one after another the 
neighbors ceased to call; that one after another 
they got to being M engaged " when Harriet called; 
that finally they one after the other cut her dead on 
the street; that after that she stayed in the house 
daytimes, and brooded over her sorrows, and night- 
times did the same, there being nothing else to do 
with the heavy hours and the silence and solitude 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 55 

and the dreary intervals which sleep should have 
charitably bridged, but didn't. 

Yes, mischief had been wrought. The biographer 
arrives at this conclusion, and it is a most just one. 
Then, just as you begin to half hope he is going to 
discover the cause of it and launch hot bolts of 
wrath at the guilty manufacturers of it, you have to 
turn away disappointed. You are disappointed, and 
you sigh. This is what he says — the italics are 

" However the mischief may have been wrought — and at this day 
no one (an wish to heap blame on any buried head — " 

So it is poor Harriet, after all. Stern justice must 
take its course — justice tempered with delicacy, 
justice tempered with compassion, justice that pities 
a forlorn dead girl and refuses to strike her. Ex- 
cept in the back. Will not be ignoble and say the 
harsh thing, but only insinuate it. Stern justice 
knows about the carriage and the wet-nurse and the 
bonnet-shop and the other dark things that caused 
this sad mischief, and may not, must not blink them; 
so it delivers judgment where judgment belongs, but 
softens the blow by not seeming to deliver judgment 
at all. To resume — the italics are mine: 

" However the mischief may have been wrought — and at this day 
no one can wish to heap blame on any buried head — it is certain that 
some cause or causes of deep division between Shelley and his wife were 
in operation during the early part of the year 1S14." 

This shows penetration. No deduction could be 
more accurate than this. There were indeed some 

56 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

causes of deep division. But next comes another 
disappointing sentence : 

"To guess at the precise nature of these causes, in the absence oS 
definite statement, were useless." 

Why, he has already been guessing at them for 
several pages, and we have been trying to outguess 
him, and now all of a sudden he is tired of it and 
won't play any more. It is not quite fair to us. 
However, he will get over this by-and-by, when 
Shelley commits his next indiscretion and has to be 
guessed out of it at Harriet's expense. 

ft We may rest content with Shelley's own 
words" — in a Chancery paper drawn up by him 
three years later. They were these: " Delicacy 
forbids me to say more than that we were disunited 
by incurable dissensions." 

As for me, I do not quite see why we should rest 
content with anything of the sort. It is not a very 
definite statement. It does not necessarily mean 
anything more than that he did not wish to go into 
the tedious details of those family quarrels. Deli- 
cacy could quite properly excuse him from saying, 
'* I was in love with Cornelia all that time; my wife 
kept crying and worrying about it and upbraiding 
me and begging me to cut myself free from a con- 
nection which was wronging her and disgracing us 
both ; and I being stung by these reproaches re- 
torted with fierce and bitter speeches — for it is my 
nature to do that when I am stirred, especially if 
the target of them is a person whom I had greatly 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 57 

loved and respected before, as witness my various 
attitudes towards Miss Mitchener, the Gisborncs, 
Harriet's sister, and others — and finally I did not 
improve this state of things when I deserted my wife 
and spent a whole month with the woman who had 
infatuated me." 

No, he could not go into those details, and we 
excuse him; but, nevertheless, we do not rest con- 
tent with this bland proposition to puff away that 
whole long disreputable episode with a single mean- 
ingless remark of Shelley's. 

We do admit that * * it is certain that some cause 
or causes of deep division were in operation." We 
would admit it just the same if the grammar of the 
statement were as straight as a string, for we drift 
into pretty indifferent grammar ourselves when we 
are absorbed in historical work ; but we have to de- 
cline to admit that we cannot guess those cause or 

But guessing is not really necessary. There is 
evidence attainable — evidence from the batch dis- 
credited by the biographer and set out at the back 
door in his appendix-basket; and yet a court of law 
would think twice before throwing it out, whereas it 
would be a hardy person who would venture to offer 
in such a place a good part of the material which is 
placed before the readers of this book as " evi- 
dence," and so treated by this daring biographer. 
Among some letters (in the appendix-basket) from 
Mrs. Godwin, detailing the Godwinian share in the 

58 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

Shelleyan events of 1 8 14, she tells how Harriet 
Shelley came to her and her husband, agitated and 
weeping, to implore them to forbid Shelley the 
house, and prevent his seeing Mary Godwin. 

" She related that last November he had fallen in love with Mrs. 
Turner and paid her such marked attentions Mr. Turner, the husband, 
had carried off his wife to Devonshire.'* 

The biographer finds a technical fault in this; 
** the Shelleys were in Edinburgh in November." 
What of that? The woman is recalling a conversa- 
tion which is more than two months old ; besides, 
she was probably more intent upon the central and 
important fact of it than upon its unimportant date. 
Harriet's quoted statement has some sense in it; for 
that reason, if for no other, it ought to have been 
put in the body of the book. Still, that would not 
have answered ; even the biographer's enemy could 
not be cruel enough to ask him to let this real 
grievance, this compact and substantial and pictur- 
esque figure, this rawhead-and-bloody-bones, come 
striding in there among those pale shams, those 
rickety spectres labeled WET-NURSE, BONNET-SHOP, 
and so on — no, the father of all malice could not 
ask the biographer to expose his pathetic goblins to 
a competition like that. 

The fabulist finds fault with the statement because 
it has a technical error in it; and he does this at the 
moment that he is furnishing us an error himself, 
and of a graver sort. He says : 

" If Turner carried off his wife to Devonshire he brought her back, 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 59 

and Shelley was staying with her and her mother on terms of cordial 
intimacy in March, 1814." 

We accept the " cordial intimacy" — it was the 
very thing Harriet was complaining of — but there 
is nothing to show that it was Turner who brought 
his wife back. The statement is thrown in as if it 
were not only true, but was proof that Turner was 
not uneasy. Turner's movements are proof of noth- 
ing. Nothing but a statement from Turner's mouth 
would have any value here, and he made none. 

Six days after writing his letter Shelley and his 
wife were together again for a moment — to get 
remarried according to the rites of the English 

Within three weeks the new husband and wife 
were apart again, and the former was back in his 
odorous paradise. This time it is the wife who does 
the deserting. She finds Cornelia too strong for 
her, probably. At any rate, she goes away with 
her baby and sister, and we have a playful fling at 
her from good Mrs. Boinville, the ,c mysterious 
spinner Maimuna " ; she whose "face was as a 
damsel's face, and yet her hair was gray " ; she of 
whom the biographer has said, " Shelley was indeed 
caught in an almost invisible thread spun around 
him, but unconsciously, by this subtle and benignant 
enchantress.' ' The subtle and benignant enchant- 
ress writes to Hogg, April 18 : " Shelley is again a 
widower; his beauteous half went to town on 

60 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

Then Shelley writes a poem — a chant of grief 
over the hard fate which obliges him now to leave 
his paradise and take up with his wife again. It 
seems to intimate that the paradise is cooling towards 
him ; that he is warned off by acclamation ; that he 
must not even venture to tempt with one last tear 
his friend Cornelia's ungentle mood, for her eye h 
glazed and cold and dares not entreat her lover to 

Exhibit E 

• ••••••» 

" Pause not ! the time is past ! Every voice cries { Away !' 
Tempt not with one last tear thy friend's ungentle mood; 
Thy lover's eye, so glazed and cold, dares not entreat thy stay: 
Duty and dereliction guide thee back to solitude." 

Back to the solitude of his now empty home, thai 

" Away ! away ! to thy sad and silent home; 
Pour bitter tears on its desolated hearth." 

But he will have rest in the grave by-and-by. 
Until that time comes, the charms of Bracknell will 
remain in his memory, along with Mrs. Boinville's 
voice and Cornelia Turner's smile: 

" Thou in the grave shalt rest — yet, till the phantoms flee 

Which that house and hearth and garden made dear to thee ere* 
Thy remembrance and repentance and deep musings are not free 
From the music of two voices and the light of one sweet smiJe." 

We cannot wonder that Harriet could not stand it. 
Any of us would have left. We would not even stay 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 61 

with a cat that was in this condition. Even the 
Boinvilles could not endure it; and so, as we have 
seen, they gave this one notice. 

f* Early in May, Shelley was in London. He did not yet despair of 
reconciliation with Harriet, nor had he ceased to love her." 

Shelley's poems are a good deal of trouble to his 
biographer. They are constantly inserted as 4< evi- 
dence," and they make much confusion. As soon 
as one of them has proved one thing, another one 
follows and proves quite a different thing. The 
poem just quoted shows that he was in love with 
Cornelia, but a month later he is in love with Harriet 
again, and there is a poem to prove it, 

" In this piteous appeal Shelley declares that he has now no grief but 
one — the grief of having known and lost his wife's love." 

Exhibit F 

" Thy look of love has power to calm 
The stormiest passion of my soul." 

But without doubt she had been reserving her 
looks of love a good part of the time for ten months, 
now — ever since he began to lavish his own on 
Cornelia Turner at the end of the previous July. 
He does really seem to have already forgotten Cor- 
nelia's merits in one brief month, for he eulogizes 
Harriet in a way which rules all competition out: 

" Thou only virtuous, gentle, kind, 
Amid a world of hate." 

He complains of her hardness, and begs her to 
make the concession of a " slight endurance " — of 

his waywardness, perhaps — for the sake of "a 

5 F - " 

62 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

fellow-being's lasting weal." But the main force ol 
his appeal is in his closing stanza, and is strongly 
wooded : 

" O trust for once no erring guide ! 

Bid the remorseless feeling flee; 
*Tis malice, 'tis revenge, 'tis pride, 

'Tis anything but thee; 
J deign a nobler pride to prove, 
And pity if thou canst not love.'* 

This is in May — apparently towards the end of 
it. Harriet and Shelley were corresponding all the 
time. Harriet got the poem — a copy exists in her 
own handwriting; she being the only gentle and 
kind person amid a world of hate, according to 
Shelley's own testimony in the poem, we are per- 
mitted to think that the daily letters would presently 
have melted that kind and gentle heart and brought 
about the reconciliation, if there had been time — 
but there wasn't; for in a very few days — in fact, 
before the 8th of June — Shelley was in love with 
another woman. 

And so — perhaps while Harriet was walking the 
floor nights, trying to get her poem by heart — her 
husband was doing a fresh one — for the other girl 
— Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin — with sentiments 
like these in it: 

Exhibit G 

4% To spend years thus and be rewarded, 
As thou, sweet love, requited me 
When none were near. 
. . . thy lips did meet 
Mine tremblingly; . . . 

tn Defence of Harriet Shelley 6* 

M Gentle and good and mild thou art, 
Nor can I live if thou appear 
Aught but thyself," . . . 

And so on. M Before the close of June it was known 
and felt by Mary and Shelley that each was inex- 
pressibly dear to the other." Yes, Shelley had 
found this child of sixteen to his liking, and had 
wooed and won her in the graveyard. But that is 
nothing; it was better than wooing her in her 
nursery, at any rate, where it might have disturbed 
the other children. 

However, she was a child in years only. From 
the day that she set her masculine grip on Shelley 
he was to frisk no more. If she had occupied the 
only kind and gentle Harriet's place in March it 
would have been a thrilling spectacle to see her in- 
vade the Boinville rookery and read the riot act. 
That holiday of Shelley's would have been of short 
duration, and Cornelia's hair would have been as 
gray as her mother's when the services were over. 

Hogg went to the Godwin residence in Skinner 
Street with Shelley on that 8th of June. They 
passed through Godwin's little debt-factory of a 
book-shop and went up-stairs hunting for the pro- 
prietor. Nobody there. Shelley strode about the 
room impatiently, making its crazy floor quake under 
him. Then a door " was partially and softly opened. 
A thrilling voice called * Shelley!' A thrilling voice 
answered, ' Mary! ' And he darted out of the room 
like an arrow from the bow of the far-shooting King 

64 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

A very young female, fair and fair-haired, pale, 
indeed, and with a piercing look, wearing a frock of 
tartan, an unusual dress in London at that time, had 
called him out of the room." 

This is Mary Godwin, as described by Hogg. 
The thrill of the voices shows that the love of 
Shelley and Mary was already upward of a fortnight 
-old ; therefore it had been born within the month 
of May — born while Harriet was still trying to get 
her poem by heart, we think. I must not be asked 
how I know so much about that thrill; it is my 
secret. The biographer and I have private ways of 
finding out things when it is necessary to find them 
out and the customary methods fail. 

Shelley left London that day, and was gone ten 
days. The biographer conjectures that he spent this 
interval with Harriet in Bath. It w r ould be just like 
him. To the end of his days lie liked to be in love 
with two women at once. He was more in love 
with Miss Hitchener when he married Harriet than 
he was with Harriet, and told the lady so with 
simple and unostentatious candor. He was more in 
love with Cornelia than he was with Harriet in the 
end of 1 8 1 3 and the beginning cf 1814, yet he sup- 
plied both of them with love poems of an equal 
temperature meantime ; he loved Mary and Harriet 
in June, and while getting ready to run off with the 
one, it is conjectured that he put in his odd time 
trying to get reconciled to the other; by-and-by, 
while still in love with Mary, he will make love to 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 65 

her half-sister by marriage, adoption, and the visita- 
tion of God, through the medium of clandestine 
letters, and she will answer with letters that are for 
no eye but his own. 

When Shelley encountered Mary Godwin he was 
looking around for another paradise. He had tastes 
of his own, and there were features about the God- 
win establishment that strongly recommended it. 
Godwin was an advanced thinker and an able writer. 
One of his romances is still read, but his philo- 
sophical works, once so esteemed, are out of vogue 
now; their authority was already declining when 
Shelley made his acquaintance — that is, it was de- 
clining with the public, but not with Shelley. They 
had been his moral and political Bible, and they 
were that yet. Shelley the infidel would himself 
have claimed to be less a work of God than a work 
of Godwin. Godwin's philosophies had formed his 
mind and interwoven themselves into it and become 
a part of its texture ; he regarded himself as God- 
win's spiritual son. Godwin was not without self- 
appreciation ; indeed, it may be conjectured that 
from his point of view the last syllable of his name 
was surplusage. He lived serene in his lofty world 
of philosophy, far above the mean interests that 
absorbed smaller men, and only came down to the 
ground at intervals to pass the hat for alms to pay 
his debts with, and insult the man that relieved him. 
Several of his principles were out of the ordinary. 
For example, he was opposed to marriage. He was 

66 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

not aware that his preachings from this text were 
but theory and wind ; he supposed he was in earnest 
in imploring people to live together without marry- 
ing, until Shelley furnished him a working model of 
his scheme and a practical example to analyze, by 
applying the principle in his own family; the matter 
took a different and surprising aspect then. The 
late Matthew Arnold said that the main defect in 
Shelley's make-up was that he was destitute of the 
sense of humor. This episode must have escaped 
Mr. Arnold's attention. 

But we have said enough about the head of the 
new paradise. Mrs. Godwin is described as being 
in several ways a terror; and even when her soul 
was in repose she wore green spectacles. But I 
suspect that her main unattractiveness was born of 
the fact that she wrote the letters that are out in the 
appendix-basket in the back yard — letters which 
are an outrage and wholly untrustworthy, for they 
say some kind things about poor Harriet and tell 
some disagreeable truths about her husband ; and 
these things make the fabulist grit his teeth a good 

Next we have Fanny Godwin — a Godwin by 
courtesy only; she was Mrs. Godwin's natural 
daughter by a former friend. She was a sweet and 
winning girl, but she presently wearied of the God- 
win paradise, and poisoned herself. 

Last in the list is Jane (or Claire, as she preferred 
to call herself) Clairmont, daughter of Mrs. Godwin 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 67 

by a former marriage. She was very young and 
pretty and accommodating, and always ready to do 
what she could to make things pleasant. After 
Shelley ran off with her part-sister Mary, she be- 
came the guest of the pair, and contributed a natural 
child to their nursery — Allegra. Lord Byron was 
the father. 

We have named the several members and advan- 
tages of the new paradise in Skinner Street, with its 
crazy book-shop underneath. Shelley was all right 
now, this was a better place than the other; more 
variety anyway, and more different kinds of fra- 
grance. One could turn out poetry here without 
any trouble at all. 

The way the new love-match came about was this : 
Shelley told Mary all his aggravations and sorrows 
and griefs, and about the wet-nurse and the bonnet- 
shop and the surgeon and the carriage, and the 
sister-in-law that blocked the London game, and 
about Cornelia and her mamma, and how they had 
turned him out of the house after making so much 
of him ; and how he had deserted Harriet and then 
Harriet had deserted him, and how the reconciliation 
was working along and Harriet getting her poem by 
heart; and still he was not happy, and Mary pitied 
him, for she had had trouble herself. But I am not 
satisfied with this. It reads too much like statistics. 
It lacks smoothness and grace, and is too earthy and 
business-like. It has the sordid look of a trades- 
union procession out on strike. That is not the 

68 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

right form for it. The book does it better; we will 
fall back on the book and have a cake-walk: 

" It was easy to divine that some restless grief possessed him; Mary 
herself was not unlearned in the lore of pain. His generous zeal in her 
father's behalf, his spiritual sonship to Godwin, his reverence for her 
mother's memory, were guarantees with Mary of his excellence.* The 
new friends could not lack subjects of discourse, and underneath their 
words about Mary's mother, and ' Political Justice,' and ' Rights of 
Woman,' were two young hearts, each feeling towards the other, each 
perhaps unaware, trembling in the direction of the other. The desire 
to assuage the suffering of one whose happiness has grown precious to 
us may become a hunger of the spirit as keen as any other, and this 
hunger now possessed Mary's heart; when her eyes rested unseen on 
Shelley, it was with a look full of the ardor of a ' soothing pity. ' " 

Yes, that is better and has more composure. 
That is just the way it happened. He told her 
about the wet-nurse, she told him about political 
justice; he told her about the deadly sister-in-law, 
she told him about her mother; he told her about 
the bonnet-shop, she murmured back about the 
rights of woman ; then he assuaged her, then she 
assuaged him; then he assuaged her some more, 
next she assuaged him some more ; then they both 
assuaged one another simultaneously; and so they 
went on by the hour assuaging and assuaging and 
assuaging, until at last what was the result? They 
were in love. It will happen so every time. 

" He had married a woman who, as he now persuaded himself, had 
never truly loved him, who ioved only his fortune and his rank, and 
who proved her selfishness by deserting him in his misery." 

* What she was after was guarantees of his excellence. That he 
stood ready to desert his wife and child was one of them, apparenUy. 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 69 

I think that that is not quite fair to Harriet. We 
have no certainty that she knew Cornelia had turned 
him out of the house. He went back to Cornelia, 
and Harriet may have supposed that he was as 
happy with her as ever. Still, it was judicious to 
begin to lay on the whitewash, for Shelley is going 
to need many a coat of it now, and the sooner the 
reader becomes used to the intrusion of the brush 
the sooner he will get reconciled to it and stop 
fretting about it. 

After Shelley's (conjectured) visit to Harriet at 
Bath — 8th of June to 18th — M it seems to have 
been arranged that Shelley should henceforth join 
the Skinner Street household each day at dinner." 

Nothing could be handier than this; things will 
swim along now. 

" Although now Shelley was coming to believe that his wedded union 
with Harriet was a thing of the past, he had not ceased to regard her 
with affectionate consideration ; he wrote to her frequently, and kept 
her informed of his whereabouts." 

We must not get impatient over these curious 
inharmoniousnesses and irreconcilabilities in Shel- 
ley's character. You can see by the biographer's 
attitude towards them that there is nothing objec- 
tionable about them. Shelley was doing his best to 
make two adoring young creatures happy : he was 
regarding the one with affectionate consideration by 
mail, and he was assuaging the other one at home. 

"Unhappy Harriet, residing at Bath, had perhaps never desired that 

70 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

the breach between herself and her husband should be irreparable and 

I find no fault with that sentence except that the 
11 perhaps " is not strictly warranted. It should 
have been left out. In support — or shall we say 
extenuation? — of this opinion I submit that there 
is not sufficient evidence to warrant the uncertainty 
which it implies. The only " evidence " offered 
that Harriet was hard and proud and standing out 
against a reconciliation is a poem — the poem in 
which Shelley beseeches her to "bid the remorse- 
less feeling flee " and M pity " if she " cannot love." 
We have just that as " evidence," and out of its 
meagre materials the biographer builds a cobhouse 
of conjectures as big as the Coliseum ; conjectures 
which convince him, the prosecuting attorney, but 
ought to fall far short of convincing any fair-minded 

Shelley's love-poems may be very good evidence, 
but we know well that they are " good for this day 
and train only." We are able to believe that they 
spoke the truth for that one day, but we know by 
experience that they could not be depended on to 
speak it the next. The very supplication for a re- 
warming of Harriet's chilled love was followed so 
suddenly by the poet's plunge into an adoring pas- 
sion for Mary Godwin that if it had been a check it 
would have lost its value before a lazy person could 
have gotten to the bank with it. 

Hardness, stubbornness, pride, vindictiveness — 

In Defence of Harriet Shelley 71 

these may sometimes reside in a young wife and 
mother of nineteen, but they are not charged against 
Harriet Shelley outside of that poem, and one has 
no right to insert them into her character on such 
shadowy M evidence " as that. Peacock knew Har- 
riet well, and she has a flexible and persuadable 
look, as painted by him : 

" Her manners were good, and her whole aspect and demeanor such 
manifest emanations of pure and truthful nature that to be once in her 
company was to know her thoroughly. She was fond of her husband, 
and accommodated herself in every' way to his tastes. If they mixed 
in society, she adorned it ; if they lived in retirement, she was satisfied ; 
if they travelled, she enjoyed the change of scene." 

" Perhaps " she had never desired that the breach 
should be irreparable and complete. The truth is, 
we do not even know that there was any breach at 
all at this time. We know that the husband and 
wife went before the altar and took a new oath on 
the 24th of March to love and cherish each other 
until death — and this may be regarded as a sort of 
reconciliation itself, and a wiping out of the old 
grudges. Then Harriet went away, and the sister- 
in-law removed herself from her society. That was 
in April. Shelley wrote his " appeal " in May, 
but the corresponding went right along afterwards. 
We have a right to doubt that the subject of it was 
a ri reconciliation," or that Harriet had any suspi- 
cion that she needed to be reconciled and that her 
husband was trying to persuade her to it — as the 
biographer has sought to make us believe, with his 

72 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

Coliseum of conjectures built out of a waste-basket 
of poetry. For we have "evidence" now- — not 
poetry and conjecture. When Shelley had been 
dining daily in the Skinner Street paradise fifteen 
days and continuing the love-match which was 
already a fortnight old twenty-five days earlier, he 
forgot to write Harriet; forgot it the next day and 
the next. During four days Harriet got no letter 
from him. Then her fright and anxiety rose to 
expression-heat, and she wrote a letter to Shelley's 
publisher which seems to reveal to us that Shelley's 
letters to her had been the customary affectionate 
letters of husband to wife, and had carried no ap- 
peals for reconciliation and had not needed to: 

" Eath (postmark July 7, 1814). 
" My dear Sir, — You will greatly oblige me by giving the enclosed 
to Mr. Shelley. I would not trouble you, but it is now four days since 
I have heard from him, which to me is an age. Will you write by re- 
turn of post and tell me what has become of him ? as I always fancy 
something dreadfal has happened if I do not hear from him. If you 
tell me that he is well I shall not come to London, but if I do not hear 
from you or him I shaJl certainly come, as I cannot endure this dreadful 
state of suspense. You are his friend and you can feel for me. 

" I remain yours truly, 

"H. S." 

Even without Peacock's testimony that 4 * her whole 
aspect and demeanor were manifest emanations of a 
pure and truthful nature," we should hold tin's to 
be a truthful letter, a sincere letter, a loving letter; 
it bears those marks; I think it is also the letter of 
a person accustomed to receiving letters from her 

in Defence of Harriet Shelley 7} 

husband frequently, and that they have been of a 
welcome and satisfactory sort, too, this long time 
back — ever since the solemn remarriage and recon- 
ciliation at the altar most likely. 

The biographer follows Harriet's letter with a 
conjecture. He conjectures that she " would now 
gladly have retraced her steps." Which means that 
it is proven that she had steps to retrace — proven 
by the poem. Well, if the poem is better evidence 
than the letter, we must let it stand at that. 

Then the biographer attacks Harriet Shelley's- 
honor — by authority of random and unverified gos- 
sip scavengered from a group of people whose very 
names make a person shudder: Mary Godwin, mis- 
tress to Shelley; her part-sister, discarded mistress 
of Lord Byron; Godwin, the philosophical tramp, 
who gathers his share of it from a shadow — that is 
to say, from a person whom he shirks out of 
naming. Yet the biographer dignifies this sorry 
rubbish with the name of 41 evidence." 

Nothing remotely resembling a distinct charge 
from a named person professing to know is offered 
among this precious " evidence." 

1. " Shelley believed " so and so. 

2. Byron's discarded mistress says that Shelley 
told Mary Godwin so and so, and Mary told her, 

3. " Shelley said " so and so — and later " ad- 
mitted over and over again that he had been in 

4. The unspeakable Godwin " wrote to Mr. Bax- 

74 in Defence of Harriet Shelley 

ter " that he knew so and so " from unquestionable 
authority " — name not furnished. 

How any man in his right mind could bring him- 
self to defile the grave of a shamefully abused and 
defenceless girl with these baseless fabrications, this 
manufactured filth, is inconceivable. How any man, 
in his right mind or out of it, could sit down and 
coldly try to persuade anybody to believe it, or 
listen patiently to it, or, indeed, do anything but 
scoff at it and deride it, is astonishing. 

The charge insinuated by these odious slanders is 
one of the most difficult of all offences to prove ; it 
is also one which no man has a right to mention 
«ven in a whisper about any woman, living or dead, 
unless he knows it to be true, and not even then 
unless he can ?\$>o prove it to be true. There is no 
justification for the abomination of putting this stuff 
in the book. 

Against Harriet Shelley's good name there is not 
one scrap of tarnishing evidence, and not even a 
scrap of evil gossip, that comes from a source that 
entitles it to a hearing. 

On the credit side of the account we have strong 
opinions from the people who knew her best. 
Peacock says : 

" I feel it due to the memory of Harriet to state my most decided 
conviction that her conduct as a wife was as pure, as true, as abso- 
lutel) faultless, as that of any who for such conduct are held most in 

Thornton Hunt, who had picked and published 

In Defence of Harnet Shdley 75 

slight flaws in Harriet's character, says, as regards 
this alleged large one : 

** There is not a trace of evidence or a whisper of scandal against 
her before her voluntary departure from Shelley." 

Trelawney says : 

"I was assured by the evidence of the few friends who knew both 
Shelley and his wife — Hookham, Hogg, Peacock, and one of the 
Godwins — that Harriet was perfectly innocent of all offence." 

What excuse was there for raking up a parcel of 
foul rumors from malicious and discredited sources 
and flinging them at this dead girl's head? Her 
very defencelessness should have been her protec- 
tion. The fact that all letters to her or about her, 
with almost every scrap of her own writing, had 
been diligently mislaid, leaving her case destitute of 
a voice, while every pen-stroke which could help 
her husband's side had been as diligently preserved, 
should have excused her from being brought to 
trial. Her witnesses have all disappeared, yet we 
see her summoned in her grave-clothes to plead for 
the life of her character, without the help of an ad- 
vocate, before a disqualified judge and a packed 

Harriet Shelley wrote her distressed letter on the 
7th of July. On the 28th her husband ran away 
with Mary Godwin and her part-sister Claire to the 
Continent. He deserted his wife when her confine- 
ment was approaching. She bore him a child at the 
end of November, his mistress bore him another one 

76 In Defence of Harriet Shelley 

something over two months later. The truants were 
back in London before either of these events 

On one occasion, presently, Shelley was so pressed 
for money to support his mistress with that he went 
to his wife and got some money of his that was in 
her hands — twenty pounds. Yet the mistress was 
not moved to gratitude ; for later, when the wife 
was troubled to meet her engagements, the mistress 
makes this entry in her diary : 

•'Harriet sends her creditors here; nasty woman. Now we sliall 
have to cnange our lodgings." 

The deserted wife bore the bitterness and obloquy 
of her situation two years and a quarter; then she 
gave up, and drowned herself. A month afterwards 
the body was found in the water. Three weeks 
later Shelley married his mistress. 

I must here be allowed to italicize a remark of the 
biographer's concerning Harriet Shelley: 

" TJiat no act of Shelley 's during the two years which immediately 
preceded her death tended to cause the rash act which brought her life 
to its close seems certain." 

Yet her husband had deserted her and her chil- 
dren, and was living with a concubine all that time! 
Why should a person attempt to write biography 
when the simplest facts have no meaning to him? 
This book is littered w r ith as crass stupidities as that 
one — deductions by the page which bear no dis- 
coverable kinship to their premises. 

!n Defence of Harriet Shelley 77 

The biographer throws off that extraordinary re- 
mark without any perceptible disturbance to his 
serenity; for he follows it with a sentimental justifi- 
cation of Shelley's conduct which has not a pang of 
conscience in it, but is silky and smooth and undu- 
lating and pious — a cake-walk with all the colored 
brethren at their best. There may be people who 
can read that page and keep their temper, but it is 

Shelley's life has the one indelible blot upon it, 
but is otherwise worshipfully noble and beautiful. 
It even stands out indestructibly gracious and lovely 
from the ruck of these disastrous pages, in spite of 
the fact that they expose and establish his re- 
sponsibility for his forsaken wife's pitiful fate — a 
responsibility which he himself tacitly admits in a 
letter to Eliza Westbrook, wherein he refers to his 
taking up with Mary Godwin as an act which Eliza 
" might excusably regard as the cause of her sister's 



The Pathfinder and The Deerslayer stand at the head of Cooper's 
novels as artistic creations. There are others of his works which con- 
tain parts as perfect as are to be found in these, and scenes even more 
thrilling. Not one can be compared with either of them as a finished 

The defects in both of these tales are comparatively slight. They were 
pure works of art. — Prof. Lounsbury. 

The five tales reveal an extraordinary fulness of invention. 

. . . One of the very greatest characters in fiction, Natty Bumppo. . . . 

The craft of the woodsman, the tricks of the trapper, all the delicate 
art of the forest, were familiar to Cooper from his youth up. — Prof. 
Brander Matthews. 

Cooper is the greatest artist in the domain of romantic fiction yet 
produced by America. — V/ilkie Collins. 

IT seems to me that it was far from right for the 
Professor of English Literature in Yale, the Pro- 
fessor of English Literature in Columbia, and Wilkie 
Collins to deliver opinions on Cooper's literature 
without having read some of it. It would have 
been much more decorous to keep silent and let 
persons talk who have read Cooper. 

Cooper's art has some defects. In one place in 
Deerslayer, and in the restricted space of two-thirds 
of a page, Cooper has scored 114 offences against 


Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences 79 

literary art out of a possible 115. It breaks the 

There are nineteen rules governing literary art in 
the domain of romantic fiction — some say twenty- 
two. In Deerslaycr Cooper violated eighteen of 
them. These eighteen require. 

1 . That a tale shall accomplish something and 
arrive somewhere. But the Deer slayer tale accom- 
plishes nothing and arrives in the air. 

2. They require that the episodes of a tale shall 
be necessary parts of the tale, and shall help to de- 
velop it. But as the Deerslayer tale is not a tale, 
and accomplishes nothing and arrives nowhere, the 
episodes have no rightful place in the work, since 
there was nothing for them to develop. 

3 . They require that the personages in a tale shall 
be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that 
always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses 
from the others. But this detail has often been 
overlooked in the Deerslayer tale. 

4. They require that the personages in a tale, 
both dead and alive, shall exhibit a sufficient excuse 
for being there. But this detail also has been over- 
looked in the Deerslayer tale. 

5. They require that when the personages of a 
tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like 
human talk, and be talk such as human beings would 
be likely to talk in the given circumstances, and 
have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable 
purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in 

80 Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences 

the neighborhood of the subject in hand, and be 
interesting to the reader, and help out the tale, and 
stop when the people cannot think of anything more 
to say. But this requirement has been ignored from 
the beginning of the Deerslayer tale to the end of it. 

6. They require that when the author describes 
the character of a personage in his tale, the conduct 
and conversation of that personage shall justify said 
description. But this law gets little or no attention 
in the Deerslayer tale, as Natty Bumppo's case will 
amply prove. 

7. They require that when a personage talks like 
an illustrated, gilt-edged, tree-calf, hand-tooled, 
seven-dollar Friendship's Offering in the beginning 
of a paragraph, he shall not talk like a negro min- 
strel in the end of it. But this rule is flung down 
and danced upon in the Deerslayer tale. 

8. They require that crass stupidities shall not be 
played upon the reader as " the craft of the woods- 
man, the delicate art of the forest," by either the 
author or the people in the tale. But this rule is 
persistently violated in the Deerslayer tale. 

9. They require that the personages of a tale shall 
confine themselves to possibilities and let miracles 
alone; or, if they venture a miracle, the author 
must so plausibly set it forth as to make it look 
possible and reasonable. But these rules are not 
respected in the Deerslayer tale. 

10. They require that the author shall make the 
leader feel a deep interest in the personages of his 

Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences 81 

tale and in their fate ; and that he shall make the 
reader love the good people in the tale and hate the 
bad ones. But the reader of the Deerslayer tale dis- 
likes the good people in it, is indifferent to the 
others, and wishes they would all get drowned 

11. They require that the characters in a tale 
shall be so clearly defined that the reader can tell 
beforehand what each will do in a given emergency. 
But in the Deerslayer tale this rule is vacated. 

In addition to these large rules there are some 
little ones. These require that the author shall 

12. Say what he is proposing to say, not merely 
come near it. 

13. Use the right word, not its second cousin. 

14. Eschew surplusage. 

15. Not omit necessary details. 

16. Avoid slovenliness of form. 

17. Use good grammar. 

18. Employ a simple and straightforward style. 
Even these seven are coldly and persistently vio- 
lated in the Deerslayer taie. 

Cooper's gift in the way of invention was not a 
rich endowment; but such as it was he liked to 
wovk it, he was pleased with the effects, and indeed 
he did some quite sweet things with it. In his little 
box of stage properties he kept six or eight cunning 
devices, tricks, artifices for his savages and woods- 
men to deceive and circumvent each other with, and 

he was never so happy as when he was working 

6* » 
* * 

82 Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences 

these innocent things and seeing them go. A 
favorite one was to make a moccasined person 
tread in the tracks of the moccasined enemy, and 
thus hide his own trail. Cooper wore out barrels 
and barrels of moccasins in working that trick. 
Another stage-property that he pulled out of his 
box pretty frequently was his broken twig. He 
prized his broken twig above all the rest of his 
effects, and worked it the hardest. It is a restful 
chapter in any book of his when somebody doesn't 
step on a dry twig and alarm all the reds and whites 
for two hundred yards around. Every time a 
Cooper person is in peril, and absolute silence is 
worth four dollars a minute, he is sure to step on a 
dry twig. There may be a hundred handier things 
to step on, but that wouldn't satisfy Cooper. 
Cooper requires him to turn out and find a dry 
twig; and if he can't do it, go and borrow one. 
In fact, the Leather Stocking Series ought to have 
been called the Broken Twig Series. 

I am sorry there is not room to put in a few 
dozen instances of the delicate art of the forest, as 
practised by Natty Bumppo and some of the other 
Cooperian experts. Perhaps we may venture two 
or three samples. Cooper was a sailor — a naval 
officer; yet he gravely tells us how a vessel, driving 
towards a lee shore in a gale, is steered for a par- 
ticular spot by her skipper because he knows of an 
undertow there which will hold her back against the 
gale and save her. For just pure woodcraft, or 

Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences 83 

sailorcraft, or whatever it is, isn't that neat? For 
several years Cooper was daily in the society of 
artillery, and he ought to have noticed that when a 
cannon-ball strikes the ground it either buries itself 
or skips a hundred feet or so ; skips again a hundred 
feet or so — and so on, till finally it gets tired and 
rolls. Now in one place he loses some M females " 
— as he always calls women — in the edge of a 
wood near a plain at night in a fog, on purpose to 
give Bumppo a chance to show off the delicate art 
of the forest before the reader. These mislaid 
people are hunting for a fort. They hear a cannon- 
blast, and a cannon-ball presently comes rolling into 
the wood and stops at their feet. To the females 
this suggests nothing. The case is very different 
with the admirable Bumppo. I wish I may never 
know peace again if he doesn't strike out promptly 
and follow the track of that cannon-ball across the 
plain through the dense fog and find the fort. Isn't 
it a daisy? If Cooper had any real knowledge of 
Nature's ways of doing things, he had a most deli- 
cate art in concealing the fact. For instance : one 
of his acute Indian experts, Chingachgook (pro- 
nounced Chicago, I think), has lost the trail of a 
person he is tracking through the forest. Appar- 
ently that trail is hopelessly lost. Neither you nor 
I could ever have guessed out the way to find it. It 
was very different with Chicago. Chicago was not 
stumped for long. He turned a running stream out 
of its course, and there, in the slush in its old 

£4 Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences 

bed, were that person's moccasin-tracks. The cur- 
rent did not wash them away, as it would have done 
in all other like cases — no, even the eternal laws of 
Nature have to vacate when Cooper wants to put up 
a delicate job of woodcraft on the reader. 

We must be a little wary when Brander Matthews 
tells us that Cooper's books <4 reveal an extraordi- 
nary fulness of invention. " As a rule, I am quite 
willing to accept Brander Matthews's literary judg- 
ments and applaud his lucid and graceful phrasing 
of them ; but that particular statement needs to be 
taken with a few tons of salt. Bless your heart, 
Cooper hadn't any more invention than a horse; 
and I don't mean a high-class horse, either; I mean 
a clothes-horse. It would be very difficult to find a 
really clever " situation " in Cooper's books, and 
still more difficult to find one of any kind which he 
has failed to render absurd by his handling of it. 
Look at the episodes of " the caves " ; and at the 
celebrated scuffle between Maqua and those others 
on the table-land a few days later; and at Hurry 
Harry's queer water-transit from the castle to the 
ark; and at Deerslayer's half-hour with his first 
corpse, and at the quarrel between Hurry Harry 
and Deerslayer later ; and at — but choose for your- 
self ; you can't go amiss. 

If Cooper had been an observer his inventive 
faculty would have worked better; not more interest- 
ingly, but more rationally, more plausibly. Cooper's 
proudest creations in the way of " situations " suffer 

henimore Cooper's Literary Offences 85 

noticeably from the absence of the observer's pro- 
tecting gift. Cooper's eye was splendidly inaccurate. 
Cooper seldom saw anything correctly. He saw 
nearly all things as through a glass eye, darkly. Of 
course a man who cannot see the commonest little 
every-day matters accurately is working at a disad- 
vantage when he is constructing a " situation." In 
the Deerslayer tale Cooper has a stream which is 
fifty feet wide where it flows out of a lake ; it 
presently narrows to twenty as it meanders along 
for no given reason, and yet when a stream acts like 
that it ought to be required to explain itself. Four- 
teen pages later the width of the brook's outlet from 
the lake has suddenly shrunk thirty feet, and be- 
come " the narrowest part of the stream." This 
shrinkage is not accounted for. The stream has 
bends in it, a sure indication that it has alluvial 
banks and cuts them ; yet these bends are only 
thirty and fifty feet long. If Cooper had been a 
nice and punctilious observer he would have noticed 
that the bends were oftener nine hundred feet long 
than short of it. 

Cooper made the exit of that stream fifty feet 
wide, in the first place, for no particular reason; in 
the second place, he narrowed it to less than twenty 
to accommodate some Indians. He bends a 4< sap- 
ling " to the form of an arch over this narrow 
passage, and conceals six Indians in its foliage. 
They are 'Maying" for a settler's scow or ark 
which is coming up the stream on its way to the 

86 Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences 

lake; it is being hauled against the stiff current by a 
rope whose stationary end is anchored in the lake ; 
its rate of progress cannot be more than a mile an 
hour. Cooper describes the ark, but pretty ob- 
scurely. In the matter of dimensions M it was little 
more than a modern canal-boat." Let us guess, 
then, that it was about one hundred and forty feet 
long. It was of '* greater breadth than common." 
Let us guess, then, that it was about sixteen feet 
wide. This leviathan had been prowling down bends 
which were but a third as long as itself, and scraping 
between banks where it had only two feet of space 
to spare on each side. We cannot too much admire 
this miracle. A low-roofed log dwelling occupies 
"two-thirds of the ark's length" — a dwelling 
ninety feet long and sixteen feet wide, let us say — 
a kind of vestibule train. The dwelling has two 
rooms — each forty-five feet long and sixteen feet 
wide, let us guess. One of them is the bedroom of 
the Hutter girls, Judith and Hetty; the other is the 
parlor in the daytime, at night it is papa's bed- 
chamber. The ark is arriving at the stream's exit 
now, whose width has been reduced to less than 
twenty feet to accommodate the Indians — say to 
eighteen. There is a foot to spare on each side of 
the boat. Did the Indians notice that there was 
going to be a tight squeeze there? Did they notice 
that they could make money by climbing down out 
of that arched sapling and just stepping aboard 
when the ark scraped by? No, other Indians 

Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences 87 

would have noticed these things, but Cooper's 
Indians never notice anything. Cooper thinks they 
are marvelous creatures for noticing, but he was 
almost always in error about his Indians. There 
was seldom a sane one among them. y 

The ark is one hundred and forty feet long; the 
dwelling is ninety feet long. The idea of the Indians 
is to drop softly and secretly from the arched sap- 
ling to the dwelling as the ark creeps along under it 
at the rate of a mile an hour, and butcher the 
family. It will take the ark a minute and a half to 
pass under. It will take the ninety foot dwelling a 
minute to pass under. Now, then, what did the six 
Indians do? It would take you thirty years to guess, 
and even then you would have to give it up, I be- 
lieve. Therefore, I will tell you what the Indians 
did. Their chief, a person of quite extraordinary 
intellect for a Cooper Indian, warily watched the 
canal-boat as it squeezed along under him, and when 
he had got his calculations fined down to exactly 
the right shade, as he judged, he let go and dropped. 
And missed the house! That is actually what he did. 
He missed the house, and landed in the stern of the 
scow. It was not much of a fall, yet it knocked 
him silly. He lay there unconscious. If the house 
had been ninety-seven feet long he would have made 
the trip. The fault was Cooper's, not his. The 
error lay in the construction of the house. Cooper 
was no architect. 

There still remained in the roost five Indians. 

88 Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences 

The boat has passed under and is now out of therf 
reach. Let me explain what the five did — you 
would not be able to reason it out for yourself. 
No. I jumped for the boat, but fell in the water 
astern of it. Then No. 2 jumped for the boat, but 
fell in the water still farther astern of it. Then No 
3 jumped for the boat, and fell a good way astern 
of it. Then No. 4 jumped for the boat, and fell in 
the water away astern. Then even No. 5 made a 
jump for the boat — for he was a Cooper Indian. 
In the matter of intellect, the difference between a 
Cooper Indian and the Indian that stands in front of 
the cigar-shop is not spacious. The scow episode 
is really a sublime burst of invention ; but it does 
not thrill, because the inaccuracy of the details 
throws a sort of air of fictitiousness and general 
improbability over it. This comes of Cooper's in- 
adequacy as an observer. 

The reader will find some examples of Cooper's 
high talent for inaccurate observation in the account 
of the shooting-match in The Pathfinder, 

" A common wrought nail was driven lightly into the target, its head 
having been first touched with paint." 

The color of the paint is not stated — an im- 
portant omission, but Cooper deals freely in import- 
ant omissions. No, after all, it was not an important 
omission; for this nail-head is a hundred yards from 
the marksmen, and could not be seen by them at 
that distance, no matter what its color might be. 

Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences 89 

How far can the best eyes see a common house-fly? 
A hundred yards? It is quite impossible. Very 
well ; eyes that cannot see a house-fly that is a hun- 
dred yards away cannot see an ordinary nail-head at 
that distance, for the size of the two objects is the 
same. It takes a keen eye to see a fly or a nail- 
head at fifty yards — one hundred and fifty feet. 
Can the reader do it? 

The nail was lightly driven, its head painted, and 
game called. Then the Cooper miracles began. The 
bullet of the first marksman chipped an edge of the 
nail-head; the next man's bullet drove the nail a 
little way into the target — and ' removed all the 
paint. Haven't the miracles gone far enough now? 
Not to suit Cooper; for the purpose of this whole 
scheme is to show off his prodigy, Deerslayer- 
Hawkeye - Long- Rifle-Leather-Stocking- Pathfinder- 
Bumppo before the ladies. 

" * Be all ready to clench it, boys ! ' cried out Pathfinder, stepping 
into his friend's tracks the instant they were vacant. * Never mind a 
new nail ; I can see that, though the paint is gone, and what I can see 
I can hit at a hundred yards, though it were only a mosquito's eye. Be 
ready to clench ! ' 

"The rifle cracked, the bullet sped its way, and the head of the nail 
was buned in the wood, covered by the piece of flattened lead." 

There, you see, is a man who could hunt flies 
with a rifle, and command a ducal salary in a Wild 
West show to-day if we had him back with us. 

The recorded feat is certainly surprising just as it 
stands; but it is not surprising enough for Cooper. 

90 Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences 

Cooper adds a touch. He has made Pathfinder do 
this miracle with another man's rifle; and not only 
that, but Pathfinder did not have even the advantage 
of loading it himself. He had everything against 
him, and yet he made that impossible shot; and not 
only made it, but did it with absolute confidence, 
saying, " Be ready to clench." Now a person like 
that would have undertaken that same feat with a 
brickbat, and with Cooper to help he would have 
achieved it, too. 

Pathfinder showed off handsomely that day before 
the ladies. His very first feat was a thing which no 
Wild West show can touch. He was standing with 
the group of marksmen, observing — a hundred 
yards from the target, mind ; one Jasper raised his 
rifle and drove the centre of the bull's-eye. Then 
the Quartermaster fired. The target exhibited no 
result this time. There was a laugh. " It's a dead 
miss," said Major Lundie. Pathfinder waited an 
impressive moment or two ; then said, in that calm, 
indifferent, know-it-all way of his, " No, Major, he 
has covered Jasper's bullet, as will be seen if any 
one will take the trouble to examine the target." 

Wasn't it remarkable ! How coald he see that 
little pellet fly through the air and enter that distant 
bullet-hole? Yet that is what he did; for nothing 
is impossible to a Cooper person. Did any of those 
people have any deep-seated doubts about this thing? 
No ; for that would imply sanity, and these were all 
Cooper people. 

Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences 91 

" The respect for Pathfinder's skill and for his quickness and accuracy 
of sight" (the italics are mine) " was so profound and general, that the 
instant he made this declaration the spectators began to distrust their own 
opinions, and a dozen rushed to the target in order to ascertain the fact. 
There, sure enough, it was found that the Quartermaster's bullet had 
gone through the hole made by Jasper's, i nd that, too, so accurately 
as to require a minute examination to be certain of the circumstance, 
which, however, was soon clearly' established by discovering one bullet 
over the other in the stump against which the target was placed." 

They made a " minute " examination; but never 
mind, how could they know that there were two 
bullets in that hole without digging the latest one 
out? for neither probe nor eyesight could prove 
the presence of any more than one bullet. Did 
they dig? No; as we shall see. It is the Path- 
finder's turn now; he steps out before the ladies, 
takes aim, and fires. 

But, alas! here is a disappointment; an in- 
credible, an unimaginable disappointment — for the 
target's aspect is unchanged ; there is nothing there 
but that same old bullet-hole ! 

" 'If one dared to hint at such a thing,' cried Major Duncan, 'I 
should say that the Pathfinder has also missed the target ! ' " 

As nobody had missed it yet, the " also " was 
not necessary; but never mind about that, fo*" the 
Pathfinder is going to speak. 

" ' No, no, Major, 1 said he, confidently, ' that would be a risky 
declaration. I didn't load the piece, and can't say what was in it ; but 
if it was lead, you will find the bullet driving down those of the Quarter* 
master and Jasper, else is not my name Pathfinder.' 

"A shout from the target announced the truth of this assertion." 

92 Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences 

Is the miracle sufficient as it stands? Not for 
Cooper. The Pathfinder speaks again, as he ** now 
slowly advances towards the stage occupied by the 
females ' ' : 

" ' That's not all, boys, that's not all; if you find the target touched 
at all, I'll own to a miss. The Quartermaster cut the wood, but you'll 
find no wood cut by that last messenger." 

The miracle is at last complete. He knew — 
doubtless saw — at the distance of a hundred yards 
— that his bullet had passed into the hole without 
fraying the edges. There were now three bullets in 
that one hole — three bullets embedded procession- 
ally in the body of the stump back of the target. 
Everybody knew this — somehow or other — and 
yet nobody had dug any of them out to make sure. 
Cooper is not a close observer, but he is interesting. 
He is certainly always that, no matter what happens. 
And he is more interesting when he is not noticing 
what he is about than when he is. This is a con- 
siderable merit. 

The conversations in the Cooper books have a 
curious sound in our modern ears. To believe that 
such talk really ever came out of people's mouths 
would be to believe that there was a time when time 
was of no value to a person who thought he had 
something to say; when it was the custom to spread 
a two-minute remark out to ten ; when a man's 
mouth was a rolling-mill, and busied itself all day 
long in turning four-foot pigs of thought into thirty- 
foot bars of conversational railroad iron by attenua- 

Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences 93 

tion ; when subjects were seldom faithfully stuck to, 
but the talk wandered all around and arrived no- 
where; when conversations consisted mainly of 
irrelevancies, with here and there a relevancy, a 
relevancy with an embarrassed look, as not being 
able to explain how it got there. 

Cooper was certainly not a master in the construc- 
tion of dialogue. Inaccurate observation defeated 
him here as it defeated him in so many other enter- 
prises of his. He even failed to notice that the 
man who talks corrupt English six days in the week 
must and will talk it on the seventh, and can't help 
himself. In the Deer slayer story he lets Deerslayer 
talk the showiest kind of book-talk sometimes, and 
at other times the basest of base dialects. For 
instance, when some one asks him if he has a sweet- 
heart, and if so, where she abides, this is his 
majestic answer: 

" ' She's in the forest — hanging from the boughs of the trees, in a 
soft rain — in the dew on the open grass — the clouds that float about 
in the blue heavens — the birds that sing in the woods — the sweet 
springs where I slake my thirst — and in all the other glorious gifts that 
come from God's Providence I ' " 

And he preceded that, a little before, with this: 

" * It consarns me as all things that touches a fri'nd consams a 
fri'nd.» " 

And this is another of his remarks: 

" ' If I was Injin born, now, I might tell of this, or carry in the scalp 

and boast of the expl'ite afore the whole tribe; or if my inimy had only 

been a bear ' " — and so on. 

94 Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences 

We cannot imagine such a thing as a veteran 
Scotch Commander-in-Chief comporting himself in 
the field like a windy melodramatic actor, but 
Cooper could. On one occasion Alice and Cora 
were being chased by the French through a fog in 
the neighborhood of their father's fort: 

11 l Point de quarlier aux coquins!' cried an eager pursuer, who 
seemed to direct the operations of the enemy. 

" ' Stand firm and be ready, my gallant 6oths ! ' suddenly exclaimed 
a voice above them ; * wait to see the enemy ; fire low, and sweep the 

" * Father! father! ' exclaimed a piercing cry from out the mist; ' it 
is I ! Alice ! thy own Elsie ! spare, O ! save your daughters ! * 

" * Hold ! ' shouted the former speaker, in the awful tones of parental 
agony, the sound reaching even to the woods, and rolling back in solemn 
echo. * 'Tis she ! God has restored me my children ! Throw open 
the sally-port ; to the field, 6oths, to the field ! pull not a trigger, lest ye 
kill my lambs! Drive off these dogs of France with your steel I ' " 

Cooper's word-sense was singularly dull. When 
a person has a poor ear for music he will flat and 
sharp right along without knowing it. He keeps 
near the tune, but it is not the tune. When a person 
has a poor ear for words, the result is a literary flat- 
ting and sharping; you perceive what he is intend- 
ing to say, but you also perceive that he doesn't 
say it. This is Cooper. He was not a word- 
musician. His ear was satisfied with the approxi- 
mate word. I will furnish some circumstantial 
evidence in support of this charge. My instances 
are gathered from half a dozen pages of the tale 
called Deerslayer. He uses 4t verbal," for ** oral " ; 
44 precision," for * 4 facility " ; 44 phenomena," for 


penimore Cooper's Literary Offences 9$ 

44 marvels " ; " necessary," for M predetermined " ; 
44 unsophisticated,' ' for " primitive "; ** prepara- 
tion/' for " expectancy '*; *' rebuked," for 44 sub- 
dued " ; " dependent on," for " resulting from " ; 
44 fact," for "condition"; "fact," for 44 conjec- 
ture " ; " precaution," for 44 caution " ; 44 explain," 
for 4i determine " ; 44 mortified," for " disap- 
pointed" ; 44 meretricious," for 4 4 factitious " ; "ma- 
terially," for 44 considerably " ; 4I decreasing," for 
44 deepening " ; 44 increasing," for 44 disappearing " ; 
4 embedded," for "enclosed"; " treacherous," 
for 44 hostile " ; 4< stood," for " stooped " ; 4t soft- 
ened," for * 4 replaced " ; " rejoined," for * 4 re- 
marked " ; " situation," for 44 condition " ; 44 dif- 
ferent," for " differing " ; " insensible," for 
44 unsentient"; " brevity," for " celerity " ; " dis- 
trusted," for " suspicious " ; ** mental imbecility," 
for " imbecility " ; " eyes," for 44 sight " ; " coun- 
teracting," for " opposing " ; " funeral obsequies," 
for " obsequies." 

There have been daring people in the world who 
claimed that Cooper could write English, but they 
are all dead now — all dead but Lounsbury. I don't 
remember that Lounsbury makes the claim in so 
many words, still he makes it, for he says that Deer- 
slayer is a " pure work of art." Pure, in that con- 
nection, means faultless — faultless in all details — 
and language is a detail. If Mr. Lounsbury had 
only compared Cooper's English with the English 
which he writes himself — but it is plain that he 

96 Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences 

didn't; and so it is likely that he imagines until this 
day that Cooper's is as clean and compact as his 
own. Now I feel sure, deep down in my heart, that 
Cooper wrote about the poorest English that exists 
in our language, and that the English of Deerslayer 
is the very worst that even Cooper ever wrote. 

I may be mistaken, but it does seem to me that 
Deerslayer is not a work of art in any sense ; it does 
seem to me that it is destitute of every detail that 
goes to the making of a work of art; in truth, it 
seems to me that Deerslayer is just simply a literary 
delirium tremens. 

A work of art? It has no invention; it has no 
order, system, sequence, or result; it has no life- 
likeness, no thrill, no stir, no seeming of reality; its 
characters are confusedly drawn, and by their acts 
and words they prove that they are not the sort of 
people the author claims that they are; its humor is 
pathetic; its pathos is funny; its conversations are 
— oh ! indescribable ; its love-scenes odious ; its 
English a crime against the language. 

Counting these out, what is left is Art. I think 
we must all admit that. 


LAST spring I went out to Chicago to see the 
Fair, and although I did not see it my trip was 
not wholly lost — there were compensations. In 
New York I was introduced to a major in the regular 
army who said he was going to the Fair, and we 
agreed to go together. I had to go to Boston first, 
but that did not interfere; he said he would go 
along, and put in the time. He was a handsome 
man, and built like a gladiator. But his ways were 
gentle, and his speech was soft and persuasive. He 
was companionable, but exceedingly reposeful. Yes, 
and wholly destitute of the sense of humor. He 
was full of interest in everything that went on around 
him, but his serenity was indestructible; nothing 
disturbed him, nothing excited him. 

But before the day was done I found that deep 
down in him somewhere he had a passion, quiet as 
he was — a passion for reforming petty public 
abuses. He stood for citizenship — it was his 
hobby. His idea was that every citizen of the re- 
public ought to consider himself an unofficial police- 
man, and keep unsalaried watch and ward over the 
laws and their execution. He thought that the onlv 

98 Traveling with a Reformer 

effective way of preserving and protecting public 
rights was for each citizen to do his share in pre- 
venting or punishing such infringements of them as 
came under his personal notice. 

It was a good scheme, but I thought it would 
keep a body in trouble all the time ; it seemed to 
me that one would be always trying to get offend- 
ing little officials discharged, and perhaps getting 
laughed at for all reward. But he said no, I had 
the wrong idea ; that there was no occasion to get 
anybody discharged ; that in fact you mustn't get 
anybody discharged ; that that would itself be a 
failure; no, one must reform the man — reform him 
and make him useful where he was. 

" Must one report the offender and then beg his 
superior not to discharge him, but reprimand him 
and keep him?" 

" No, that is not the idea; you don't report him 
at all, for then you risk his bread and butter. You 
can act as if you are going to report him — when 
nothing else will answer. But that's an extreme 
case. That is a sort of force y and force is bad. 
Diplomacy is the effective thing. Now if a man has 
tact — if a man will exercise diplomacy — " 

For two minutes we had been standing at a tele- 
graph wicket, and during all this time the Major had 
been trying to get the attention of one of the young 
operators, but they were all busy skylarking. The 
Major spoke now, and asked one of them to take 
his telegram. He got for reply: 

Traveling with a Reformer 99 

" I reckon you can wait a minute, can't you?" 
and the skylarking went on. 

The Major said yes, he was not in a hurry. Then 
he wrote another telegram : 

" President Western Union Tel. Co.: 

" Come and dine with me this evening. I can tell you how business 
is conducted in one of your branches." 

Presently the young fellow who had spoken so 
pertly a little before reached out and took the tele- 
gram, and when he read it he lost color and began 
to apologize and explain. He said he would lose 
his place if this deadly telegram was sent, and he 
might never get another. If he could be let off this 
time he would give no cause of complaint again. 
The compromise was accepted. 

As we walked away, the Major said : 

" Now, you see, that was diplomacy — and you 
see how it worked. It wouldn't do any good to 
bluster, the way people are always doing — that 
boy can always give you as good as you send, and 
you'll come out defeated and ashamed of yourself 
pretty nearly always. But you see he stands no 
chance against diplomacy. Gentle words and diplo- 
macy — those are the tools to work with." 

"Yes, I see; but everybody wouldn't have had 
your opportunity. It isn't everybody that is on 
those familiar terms with the president of the West- 
ern Union." 

" Oh, you misunderstand. I don't know the 
president — I only use him diplomatically. It is for 

100 Traveling with a Reformer 

his good and for the public good. There's no harm 
in it." 

I said, with hesitation and diffidence: 
" But is it ever right or noble to tell a lie?" 
He took no note of the delicate self-righteousness 
of the question, but answered, with undisturbed 
gravity and simplicity: 

M Yes, sometimes. Lies told to injure a person, 
and lies told to profit yourself are not justifiable, but 
lies told to help another person, and lies told in the 
public interest — oh, well, that is quite another 
matter. Anybody knows that. But never mind 
about the methods : you see the result. That youth 
is going to be useful now, and well-behaved. He 
had a good face, He was worth saving. Why, he 
was worth saving on his mother's account ; f not his 
own. Of course, he has a mother — sisters, too. 
Damn these people who are always forgetting that ! 
Do you know, I've never fought a duel in my life — 
never once — and yet have been challenged, like 
other people. I could always see the other man's 
unoffending women folks or his little children stand- 
ing between him and me. They hadn't done any- 
thing — I couldn't break their hearts, you know." 

He corrected a good many little abuses in the 
course of the day, and always without friction — 
always with a fine and dainty " diplomacy " which 
left no sting behind; and he got such happiness and 
such contentment out of these performances that I 
was obliged to envy him his trade — and perhaps 

Traveling with a Reformer 101 

would have adopted it if I could have managed the 
necessary deflections from fact as confidently with 
my mouth as I believe I could with a pen, behind 
the shelter of print, after a little practice. 

Away late that night we were coming up-town in 
a horse-car when three boisterous roughs got aboard, 
and began to fling hilarious obscenities and pro- 
fanities right and left among the timid passengers, 
some of whom were women and children. Nobody 
resisted or retorted; the conductor tried soothing 
words and moral suasion, but the roughs only called 
him names and laughed at him. Very soon I saw 
that the Major realized that this was a matter which 
was in his line; evidently he was turning over his 
stock of diplomacy in his mind and getting ready. 
I felt that the first diplomatic remark he made in 
this place would bring down a land-slide of ridicule 
upon him and maybe something worse; but before 
I could whisper to him and check him he had begun, 
and it was too late. He said, in a level and dispas- 
sionate tone: 

" Conductor, you must put these swine out. I 
will help you." 

I was not looking for that. In a flash the three 
roughs plunged at him. But none of them arrived. 
He delivered three such blows as one could not ex- 
pect to encounter outside the prize-ring, and neither 
of the men had life enough left in him to get up from 
where he fell. The Major dragged them out and 
threw them off the car, and we got under way again. 

102 Traveling with a Reformer 

I was astonished ; astonished to see a lamb act 
so; astonished at the strength displayed, and the 
clean and comprehensive result; astonished at the 
brisk and business-like style of the whole thing. 
The situation had a humorous side to it ; considering 
how much I had been hearing about mild persuasion 
and gentle diplomacy all day from this pile-driver, 
and I would have liked to call his attention to that 
feature and do some sarcasms about it ; but when I 
looked at him I saw that it would be of no use — his 
placid and contented face had no ray of humor in 
it; he would not have understood. When we left 
the car, I said : 

44 That was a good stroke of diplomacy — three 
good strokes of diplomacy, in fact." 

44 That? That wasn't diplomacy. You are quite 
in the wrong. Diplomacy is a wholly different thing. 
One cannot apply it to that sort, they would not 
understand it. No, that was not diplomacy; it was 
force.' ' 

44 Now that you mention it, I — yes, I think per- 
haps you are right." 

44 Right? Of course I am right. It was just 

44 I think, myself, it had the outside aspect of it. 
Do you often have to reform people in that way? " 

44 Far from it. It hardly ever happens. Not 
oftener than once in half a year, at the outside." 

44 Those men will get well?" 

44 Get well? Why, certainly they will. They are 

Traveling with a Reformer 103 

not in any danger. I know how to hit and where to 
hit. You noticed that I did not hit them under the 
jaw. That would have killed them." 

I believed that. I remarked — rather wittily, as I 
thought — that he had been a lamb all day, but now 
had all of a sudden developed into a ram — batter- 
ing ram; but with dulcet frankness and simplicity 
he said no, a battering-ram was quite a different 
thing and not in use now. This was maddening, 
and I came near bursting out and saying he had no 
more appreciation of wit than a jackass — in fact, I 
had it right on my tongue, but did not say it, know- 
ing there was no hurry and I could say it just as 
well some other time over the telephone. 

We started to Boston the next afternoon. The 
smoking-compartment in the parlor-car was full, and 
we went into the regular smoker. Across the aisle 
in the front seat sat a meek, farmer-looking old man 
with a sickly pallor in his face, and he was holding 
the door open with his foot to get the air. Presently 
a big brakeman came rushing through, and when 
he got to the door he stopped, gave the farmer an 
ugly scowl, then wrenched the door to with such 
energy as to almost snatch the old man's boot off. 
Then on he plunged about his business. Several 
passengers laughed, and the old gentleman looked 
pathetically shamed and grieved. 

After a little the conductor passed along, and the 
Major stopped him and asked him a question in his 
habitually courteous way: 

104 Traveling with a Reformer 

44 Conductor, where does one report the mis- 
conduct of a brakeman? Does one report to you?** 

44 You can report him at New Haven if you want 
to. What has he been doing?" 

The Major told the story. The conductor seemed 
amused. He said, with just a touch of sarcasm in 
his bland tones: 

14 As I understand you, the brakeman didn't say 

" No, he didn't say anything." 

44 But he scowled, you say." 

44 Yes." 

44 And snatched the door loose in a rough way." 

44 Yes." 

44 That's the whole business, is it ?" 

44 Yes, that is the whole of it." 

The conductor smiled pleasantly, and said : 

44 Well, if you want to report him, all right, but I 
don't quite make out what it's going to amount to. 
You'll say — as I understand you — that the brake- 
man insulted this old gentleman. They'll ask you 
what he said. You'll say he didn't say anything at 
all. I reckon they'll say, how are you going to 
make out an insult when you acknowledge yourself 
that he didn't say a word." 

There was a murmur of applause at the con- 
ductor's compact reasoning, and it gave him pleas- 
ure — you could see it in his face But the Major 
was not disturbed. He said: 

44 There — now you have touched upon a crying 

Traveling with a Reformer 105 

defect in the complaint-system. The railway offi- 
cials — as the public think and as you also seem to 
think — are not aware that there are any kind of 
insults except spoken ones. So nobody goes to 
headquarters and reports insults of manner, insults 
of gesture, look, and so forth; and yet these are 
sometimes harder to bear than any words. They 
are bitter hard to bear because there is nothing 
tangible to take hold of; and the insulter can always 
say, if called before the railway officials, that he 
never dreamed of intending any offence. It seems 
to me that the officials ought to specially and 
urgently request the public to report unworded 
affronts and incivilities." 

The conductor laughed, and said: 

" Well, that would be trimming it pretty fine, 

" But not too fine, I think. I will report this 
matter at New Haven, and I have an idea that I'll 
be thanked for it." 

The conductor's face lost something of its com- 
placency ; in fact, it settled to a quite sober cast as 
the owner of it moved away. I said : 

11 You are not really going to bother with that 
trifle, are you?" 

" It isn't a trifle. Such things ought always to 
be reported. It is a public duty, and no citizen has 
a right to shirk it. But I sha'n't have to report this 



106 Traveling with a Reformer 

M It won't be necessary. Diplomacy will do the 
business. You'll see." 

Presently the conductor came on his rounds again, 
and when he reached the Major he leaned over and 
said : 

14 That's all right. You needn't report him. He's 
responsible to me, and if he does it again I'll give 
him a talking to." 

The Major's response was cordial: 

44 Now that is what I like! You mustn't think 
that I was moved by any vengeful spirit, for that 
wasn't the case. It was duty — just a sense of 
duty, that was all. My brother-in-law is one of 
the directors of the road, and when he learns that 
you are going to reason with your brakeman the 
very next time he brutally insults an unoffending 
old man it will please him, you may be sure of 

The conductor did not look as joyous as one might 
have thought he would, but on the contrary looked 
sickly and uncomfortable. He stood around a little; 
then said : 

11 I think something ought to be done to him 
now. I'll discharge him." 

44 Discharge him? What good would that do? 
Don't you think it would be better wisdom to teach 
him better ways and keep him?" 

44 Well, there's something in that. What would 
you suggest?" 

44 He insulted the old gentleman in presence of all 

Traveling with a Reformer 107 

these people. How would it do to have him come 
and apologize in their presence?" 

44 1*11 have him here right off. And I want to say 
this: If people would do as you've done, and re- 
port such things to me instead of keeping mum and 
going off and blackguarding the road, you'd see a 
different state of things pretty soon. I'm much 
obliged to you." 

The brakeman came and apologized. After he 
was gone the Major said : 

41 Now, you see how simple and easy that was. 
The ordinary citizen would have accomplished noth- 
ing — the brother-in-law of a director can accomplish 
anything he wants to." 

44 But are you really the brother-in-law of a 

44 Always. Always when the public interests re- 
quire it. I have a brother-in-law on all the boards 
— everywhere. It saves me a world of trouble," 

* 4 It is a good wide relationship." 

44 Yes. I have over three hundred of them." 

44 Is the relationship never doubted by a con- 

44 I have never met with a case. It is the honest 
truth — I never have." 

" Why didn't you let him go ahead and discharge 
the brakeman, in spite of your favorite policy? You 
know he deserved it." 

The Major answered with something which really 
had a sort of distant resemblance to impatience: 

108 Traveling with a Reformer 

" If you would stop and think a moment you 
wouldn't ask such a question as that. Is a brake- 
man a dog, that nothing but dog's methods will do 
for him? He is a man, and has a man's fight for 
life. And he always has a sister, or a mother, or 
wife and children to support. Always — there are 
no exceptions. When you take his living away from 
him you take theirs away too — and what have they 
done to you? Nothing. And where is the profit in 
discharging an uncourteous brakeman and hiring 
another just like him? It's unwisdom. Don't you 
see that the rational thing to do is to reform the 
brakeman and keep him? Of course it is." 

Then he quoted with admiration the conduct of a 
certain division superintendent of the Consolidated 
road, in a case where a switchman of two years' 
experience was negligent once and threw a train off 
the track and killed several people. Citizens came 
in a passion to urge the man's dismissal, but the 
superintendent said : 

" No, you are wrong. He has learned his lesson, 
he will throw no more trains off the track. He is 
twice as valuable as he was before. I shall keep 

We had only one more adventure on the trip. Be- 
tween Hartford and Springfield the train-boy came 
shouting in with an armful of literature and dropped 
a sample into a slumbering gentleman's lap, and the 
man woke up with a start. He was very angry, and 
he and a couple of friends discussed the outrage 

Traveling with a Reformer 109 

with much heat. They sent for the parlor-car con- 
ductor and described the matter, and were deter- 
mined to have the boy expelled from his situation. 
The three complainants were wealthy Holyoke mer- 
chants, and it was evident that the conductor stood 
in some awe of them. He tried to pacify them, 
and explained that the boy was not under his 
authority, but under that of one of the news com- 
panies; but he accomplished nothing. 

Then the Major volunteered some testimony for 
the defence. He said : 

** I saw it all. You gentlemen have not meant to 
exaggerate the circumstances, but still that is what 
you have done. The boy has done nothing more 
than all train-boys do. If you want to get his ways 
softened down and his manners reformed, I am with 
you and ready to help, but it isn't fair to get him 
discharged without giving him a chance." 

But they were angry, and would hear of no com- 
promise. They were well acquainted with the presi- 
dent of the Boston & Albany, they said, and would 
put everything aside next day and go up to Boston 
and fix that boy. 

The Major said he would be on hand too, and 
would do what he could to save the boy. One of 
the gentlemen looked him over, and said : 

44 Apparently it is going to be a matter of who 
can wield the most influence with the president. Do 
you know Mr. Bliss personally?" 

The Major said, with composure: 


HO Traveling with a Reformet 

M Yes; he is my uncle- , ' 

The effect was satisfactory. There was an awk- 
ward silence for a minute or more; then the 
hedging and the half-confessions of over-haste and 
exaggerated resentment began, and soon everything 
was smooth and friendly and sociable, and it was 
resolved to drop the matter and leave the boy's 
bread-and-butter unmolested. 

It turned out as I had expected : the president of 
the road was not the Major's uncle at all — except 
by adoption, and for this day and train only. 

We got into no episodes on the return journey. 
Probably it was because we took a night train and 
slept all the way. 

We left New York Saturday night by the Pennsyl- 
vania road. After breakfast the next morning we 
went into the parlor-car, but found it a dull place 
and dreary. There were but few people in it and 
nothing going on. Then we went into the little 
smoking-compartment of the same car and found 
three gentlemen in there. Two of them were grum- 
bling over one of the rules of the road — a rule 
which forbade card-playing on the trains on Sunday. 
They had started an innocent game of high-low-jack 
and been stopped. The Major was interested. He 
said to the third gentleman : 

M Did you object to the game?" 

** Not at all. I am a Yale professor and a relig- 
ious man, but my prejudices are not extensive." 

Then the Major said to the others : 

Traveling with a Reformer 111 

44 You are at perfect liberty to resume your game, 
gentlemen; no one here objects." 

One of them declined the risk, but the other one 
said he would like to begin again if the Major would 
join him. So they spread an overcoat over their 
knees and the game proceeded. Pretty soon the 
parlor-car conductor arrived, and said brusquely: 

" There, there, gentlemen, that won't do. Put 
up the cards — it's not allowed." 

The Major was shuffling. He continued to shuffle, 
and said : 

44 By whose order is it forbidden?" 

44 It's my order. I forbid it." 

The dealing began. The Major asked: 

44 Did you invent the idea?" 

44 What idea?" 

44 The idea of forbidding card-playing on Sun- 

44 No — of course not." 

44 Who did?" 

44 The company " 

44 Then it isn't your order, after all, but the com- 
pany's. Is that it?" 

44 Yes. But you don't stop playing; I have to 
require you to stop playing immediately." 

4 ' Nothing is gained by hurry, and often much is 
lost. Who authorized the company to issue such an 

44 My dear sir, that is a matter of no consequence 
to me, and — " 

112 Traveling with a Reformer 

44 But you forget that you are not the only person 
concerned. It may be a matter of consequence to 
me. It is indeed a matter of very great importance 
to me. I cannot violate a legal requirement of my 
country without dishonoring myself; I cannot allow 
any man or corporation to hamper my liberties with 
illegal rules — a thing which railway companies are 
always trying to do — without dishonoring my 
citizenship. So I come back to that question: By 
whose authority has the company issued this order?" 

" I don't know. That's their affair." 

11 Mine, too. I doubt if the company has any 
right to issue such a rule. This road runs through 
several States. Do you know what State we are in 
now, and what its laws are in matters of this 

" Its laws do not concern me, but the company's 
orders do. It is my duty to stop this game, gentle- 
men, and it must be stopped." 

44 Possibly; but still there is no hurry. In hotels 
they post certain rules in the rooms, but they always 
quote passages from the State laws as authority for 
these requirements. I see nothing posted here of 
this sort. Please produce your authority and let us 
arrive at a decision, for you see yourself that you 
are marring the game." 

" I have nothing of the kind, but I have my 
orders, and that is sufficient. They must be 

44 Let us not jump to conclusions. It will be 

Traveling with a Reformer 11) 

better all around to examine into the matter without 
heat or haste, and see just where we stand before 
either of us makes a mistake — for the curtailing of 
the liberties of a citizen of the United States is a 
much more serious matter than you and the railroads 
seem to think, and it cannot be done in my person 
until the curtailer proves his right to do so. 

44 My dear sir, will you put down those cards?" 

44 All in good time, perhaps. It depends. You 
say this order must be obeyed. Must. It is a 
strong word. You see yourself how strong it is. 
A wise company would not arm you with so drastic 
an order as this, of course, without appointing a 
penalty for its infringement. Otherwise it runs the 
risk of being a dead letter and a thing to laugh at. 
What is the appointed penalty for an infringement 
of this law?" 

44 Penalty? I never heard of any." 

44 Unquestionably you must be mistaken. Your 
company orders you to come here and rudely break 
up an innocent amusement, and furnishes you no 
way to enforce the order? Don't you see that iNat 
is nonsense? What do you do when people refuse 
to obey this order? Do you take the cards away 
from them?" 

44 No." 

44 Do you put the offender off at the next station?" 

44 Well, no — of course we couldn't if he had a 

114 Traveling with a Reformer 

" Do you have him up before a court?" 

The conductor was silent and apparently troubled. 
The Major started a new deal, and said : 

" You see that you are helpless, and that the 
company has placed you in a foolish position. You 
are furnished with an arrogant order, and you de- 
liver it in a blustering way, and when you come to 
look into the matter you find you haven't any way 
of enforcing obedience." 

The conductor said, with chill dignity: 

14 Gentlemen, you have heard the order, and my 
duty is ended. As to obeying it or not, you will do 
as you think fit." And he turned to leave. 

11 But wait. The matter is not yet finished. I 
think you are mistaken about your duty being 
ended ; but if it really is, I myself have a duty to 
perform yet." 

44 How do you mean?" 

44 Are you going to report my disobedience at 
headquarters in Pittsburg?" 

41 No. What good would that do?" 

44 You must report me, or I will report you." 

41 Report me for what?" 

44 For disobeying the company's orders in not 
stopping this game. As a citizen it is my duty to 
help the railway companies keep their servants to 
their work." 

44 Are you in earnest?" 

44 Yes, I am in earnest. I have nothing against 
you as a man, but I have this against you as an 

Traveling with a Reformer 115 


officer — that you have not carried out that order, 
and if you do not report me I must report you. 
And I will." 

The conductor looked puzzled, and was thought- 
ful a moment; then he burst out with: 

11 I seem to be getting myself into a scrape ! It's 
all a muddle; I can't make head or tail of it; it's 
never happened before ; they always knocked under 
and never said a word, and so / never saw how 
ridiculous that stupid order with no penalty is. 1 
don't want to report anybody, and I don't want to 
be reported — why, it might do me no end of harm ! 
Now do go on with the game — play the whole day 
if you want to — and don't let's have any more 
trouble about it!" 

" No, I only sat down here to establish this 
gentleman's rights — he can have his place now. 
But before you go won't you tell me what you think 
the company made this rule for? Can you imagine 
an excuse for it? I mean a rational one — an ex- 
cuse that is not on its face silly, and the invention 
of an idiot?" 

11 Why, surely I can. The reason it was made is 
plain enough. It is to save the feelings of the other 
passengers — the religious ones among them, I 
mean. They would not like it, to have the Sabbath 
desecrated by card-playing on the train." 

11 I just thought as much. They are willing to 
desecrate it themselves by traveling on Sunday, but 
they are not willing that other people — " 
* # 

116 Traveling with a Reformer 

" By gracious, you've hit it! I never thought of 
that before. The fact is, it is a silly rule when you 
come to look into it." 

At this point the train-conductor arrived, and was 
going to shut down the game in a very high-handed 
fashion, but the parlor-car conductor stopped him 
and took him aside to explain. Nothing more was 
heard of the matter. 

I was ill in bed eleven days in Chicago and got no 
glimpse of the Fair, for I was obliged to return east 
as soon as I was able to travel. The Major secured 
and paid for a state-room in a sleeper the day before 
we left, so that I could have plenty of room and be 
comfortable ; but when we arrived at the station a 
mistake had been made and our car had not been 
put on. The conductor had reserved a section for 
us — it was the best he could do, he said. But the 
Major said we were not in a hurry, and would wait 
for the car to be put on. The conductor responded, 
with pleasant irony: 

" It may be that you are not in a hurry, just as 
you say, but we are. Come, get aboard, gentle- 
men, get aboard — don't keep us waiting." 

But the Major would not get aboard himself nor 
allow me to do it. He wanted his car, and said he 
must have it. This made the hurried and perspiring 
conductor impatient, and he said : 

4< It's the best we can do — we can't do impossi- 
bilities. You will take the section or go without. 
A mistake has been made and can't be rectified at 

Traveling with a Reformer U7 

this late hour. It's a thing that happens now and 
then, and there is nothing for it but to put up with 
it and make the best of it. Other people do." 

" Ah, that is just it, you see. If they had stuck 
to their rights and enforced them you wouldn't be 
trying to trample mine under foot in this bland way 
now. I haven't any disposition to give you un- 
necessary trouble, but it is my duty to protect the 
next man from this kind of imposition. So I must 
have my car. Otherwise I will wait in Chicago and 
sue the company for violating its contract." 

41 Sue the company? — for a thing like that!" 

" Certainly." 

M Do you really mean that?" 

M Indeed, I do." 

The conductor looked the Major over wonder- 
ingly, and then said: 

'* It beats me — it's bran-new — I've never struck 
the mate to it before. But I swear I think you'd 
do it. Look here, I'll send for the station-master." 

When the station-master came he was a good deal 
annoyed — at the Major, not at the person who had 
made the mistake. He was rather brusque, and 
took the same position which the conductor had 
taken in the beginning; but he failed to move the 
soft-spoken artilleryman, who still insisted that he 
must have his car. However, it was plain that there 
was only one strong side in this case, and that that 
s!de was the Major's. The station-master banished 
h»s annoyed manner, and became pleasant and even 

118 Traveling with a Reformer 

half-apologetic. This made a good opening for a 
compromise, and the Major made a concession. He 
said he would give up the engaged state-room, but 
he must have a state-room. After a deal of 
ransacking, one was found whose owner was per- 
suadable; he exchanged it for our section, and we 
got away at last. The conductor called on us in the 
evening, and was kind and courteous and obliging, 
and we had a long talk and got to be good friends. 
He said he wished the public would make trouble 
oftener — it would have a good effect. He said 
that the railroads could not be expected to do their 
whole duty by the traveler unless the traveler would 
take some interest in the matter himself. 

I hoped that we were done reforming for the trip 
now, but it was not so. In the hotel-car, in the 
morning, the Major called for broiled chicken. The 
waiter said : 

4< It's not in the bill of fare, sir; we do not serve 
anything but what is in the bill." 

44 That gentleman yonder is eating a broiled 

44 Yes, but that is different. He is one of the 
superintendents of the road." 

44 Then all the more must I have broiled chicken. 
I do not like these discriminations. Please hurry — 
bring me a broiled chicken." 

The waiter brought the steward, who explained 
«n a low and polite voice that the thing was impos- 
sible — it was against the rule, and the rule was rigid. 

Traveling with a Reformer 119 

*' Very well, then, you must either apply it im- 
partially or break it impartially. You must take 
that gentleman's chicken away from him or bring 
me one." 

The steward was puzzled, and did not quite know 
what to do. He began an incoherent argument, 
but the conductor came along just then, and asked 
what the difficulty was. The steward explained that 
here was a gentleman who was insisting on having a 
chicken when it was dead against the rule and not in 
the bill. The conductor said : 

" Stick by your rules — you haven't any option. 
Wait a moment — is this the gentleman?'* Then he 
laughed and said: ** Never mind your rules — it's 
my advice, and sound ; give him anything he wants 
— don't get him started on his rights. Give him 
whatever he asks for; and if you haven't got it, 
stop the train and get it." 

The Major ate the chicken, but said he did it from 
a sense of duty and to establish a principle, for he 
did not like chicken. 

I missed the Fair, it is true, but I picked up 
some diplomatic tricks which I and the reader may 
find handy and useful as we go along. 


rIVE or six years ago a lady from Finland asked 
me to tell her a story in our negro dialect, so 
that she could get an idea of what that variety of 
speech was like. I told her one of Hopkinson 
Smith's negro stories, and gave her a copy of 
Harper* s Monthly containing it. She translated it 
for a Swedish newspaper, but by an oversight 
named me as the author of it instead of Smith. I 
was very sorry for that, because I got a good lashing 
in the Swedish press, which would have fallen to his 
share but for that mistake ; for it was shown that 
Boccaccio had told that very story, in his curt and 
meagre fashion, five hundred years before Smith 
took hold of it and made a good and tellable thing 
out of it. 

I have always been sorry for Smith. But my own 
turn has come now. A few weeks ago Professor 
Van Dyke, of Princeton, asked this question: 

*' Do you know how old your Jumping Frog story 


And I answered: 


Private History of the " Jumping Frog" Story 121 

4 * Yes — forty-five years. The thing happened in 
Calaveras County in the spring of 1849." 

" No ; it happened earlier — a couple of thousand 
years earlier; it is a Greek story." 

I was astonished — and hurt. I said : 

" I am willing to be a literary thief if it has been 
so ordained ; I am even willing to be caught robbing 
the ancient dead alongside of Hopkinson Smith, for 
he is my friend and a good fellow, and I think would 
be as honest as any one if he could do it without 
occasioning remark; but I am not willing to ante- 
date his crimes by fifteen hundred years. I must 
ask you to knock off part of that." 

But the professor was not chaffing; he was in 
earnest, and could not abate a century. He named 
the Greek author, and offered to get the book and 
send it to me and the college text-book containing 
the English translation also. I thought I would like 
the translation best, because Greek makes me tired. 
January 30th he sent me the English version, and I 
will presently insert it in this article. It is my 
Jumping Frog tale in every essential. It is not 
strung out as I have strung it out, but it is all 

To me this is very curious and interesting. 
Curious for several reasons. For instance : 

I heard the story told by a man who was not tell- 
ing it to his hearers as a thing new to them, but as 
a thing which they had witnessed and would re- 
member. He was a dull person, and ignorant; he 

122 Private History of the tk Jumping Frog" Story 

had no gift as a story-teller, and no invention ; in 
his mouth this episode was merely history — history 
and statistics ; and the gravest sort of history, too ; 
he was entirely serious, for he was dealing with what 
to him were austere facts, and they interested him 
solely because they were facts ; he was drawing on 
his memory, not his mind; he saw no humor in his 
tale, neither did his listeners; neither he nor they 
ever smiled or laughed ; in my time I have not 
attended a more solemn conference. To him and 
to his fellow gold-miners there were just two things 
in the story that were worth considering. One was 
the smartness of the stranger in taking in its hero, 
Jim Smiley, with a loaded frog; and the other was the 
stranger's deep knowledge of a frog's nature — for 
he knew (as the narrator asserted and the listeners 
conceded) that a frog likes shot and is always ready 
to eat it. Those men discussed those two points, 
and those only. They were hearty in their admira- 
tion of them, and none of the party was aware that 
•a first-rate story had been told in a first-rate way, 
•and that it was brimful of a quality whose presence 
; they never suspected — humor. 

Now, then, the interesting question is, did the 
frog episode happen in Angel's Camp in the spring 
of '49, as told in my hearing that day in the fall of 
1865? I am perfectly sure that it did. I am also 
sure that its duplicate happened in Bceotia a couple 
of thousand years ago. I think it must be a case of 
history actually repeating itself, and not a case of a 

Private History of the " Jumping Frog " Story 

good story floating down the ages and surviving be- 
cause too good to be allowed to perish. 

I would now like to have the reader examine the 
Greek story and the story told by the dull and 
solemn Californian, and observe how exactly alike 
they are in essentials. 

[ Translation.] 


An Athenian once fell in with a Boeotian who was sitting by the road- 
side looking at a frog. Seeing the other approach, the Boeotian said his 
was a remarkable frog, and asked if he would agree to start a contest of 
frogs, on condition that he whose frog jumped farthest should receive a 
large sum of money. The Athenian replied that he would if the other 
would fetch him a frog, for the lake was near. To this he agreed, and 
when he was gone the Athenian took the frog, and, opening its mouth, 
poured some stones into its stomach, so that it did not indeed seem 
larger than before, but could not jump. The Boeotian soon returned 
with the other frog, and the contest began. The second frog first was 
pinched, and jumped moderately; then they pinched the Boeotian frog. 
And he gathered himself for a leap, and used the utmost effort, but 
he could not move his body the least. So the Athenian departed with 
the money. When he was gone the Boeotian, wondering what was the 
matter with the frog, lifted him up and examined him. And being 
turned upside down, he opened his mouth and vomited out the stones. 

*7 And here is the way it happened in California : 





Well, thish-yer Smiley had rat-tarriers, and chicken cocks, and torn- 

S \ cats, and all them kind of things, till you couldn't rest, and you couldn't 

*"7^ Vetch nothing for him to bet on but he'd match you. He ketched a 

frog one day, and took him home, and said he cal'lated to educate him; 

v , and so he never done nothing for three months but set in his back yard 


* Sidgwick, Greek Prose Composition, page 1 1 6. 

124 Private History of the "Jumping Frog" Story 

and learn that frog to jump. And you bet you he did learn him, too. 
He'd give him a little punch behind, and the next minute you'd see 
that frog whirling in the air like a doughnut — see him turn one summer- 
set, or maybe a couple if he got a good start, and come down flat-footed 
and all right, like a cat. He got him up so in the matter of ketching 
flies, and kep' him in practice so constant, that he'd nail a fly every time 
as fur as he could see him. Smiley said all a frog wanted was educa- 
tion, and he could do 'most anything — and I believe him. Why, I've 
seen him set Dan'l Webster down here on this floor — Dan'l Webster 
was the name of the frog — and sing out " Flies, Dan'l, flies! " and 
quicker'n you could wink he'd spring straight up and snake a fly off'n 
the counter there, and flop down on the floor ag'in as solid as a gob of 
mud, and fall to scratching the side of his head with his hind foot as 
indifferent as if he hadn't no idea he'd been doin' any more'n any frog 
might do. You never see a frog so modest and straightfor'ard as he 
was, for all he was so gifted* And when it come to fair and square 
jumping on a dead level, he could get over more ground at one straddle 
than any animal of his breed you ever see. Jumping on a dead level 
was his strong suit, you understand; and when it came to that, Smiley 
would ante up money on him as long as he had a red. Smiley was 
monstrous proud of his frog, and well he might be, for fellers that had 
traveled and been everywheres all said he laid over any frog that ever 
they see. 

Well, Smiley kep' the beast in a little lattice box, and he used to 
fetch him down-town sometimes and lay for a bet. One day a feller 
— a stranger in the camp, he was — come acrost him with his box, 
and says: 

" What might it be that you've got in the box? " 

And Smiley says, sorter indifferent-like, " It might be a parrot, or it 
might be a canary, maybe, but it ain't — it's only just a frog." 

And the feller took it, and looked at it careful, and turned it round this 
way and that, and says, " H'm — so 'tis. Well, what's he good for? ; ' 

"Well," Smiley says, easy and careless, " he's good enough for one 
thing, I should judge — he can out jump any frog in Calaveras County.' 5 

The feller took the box again and took another long, particular look, 
and gave it back to Smiley, and says, very deliberate, " Well," he says, 
" I don't see no p'ints about that frog that's any better'n any other 

"Maybe you don't," Smiley says. "Maybe you understand frogs 

Private History of the ''Jumping Frog" Story \12w 

and maybe you don't understand 'em; maybe you've had experience, 
and maybe you ain't only a amature, as it were. Anyways, I've got 
my opinion, and I'll resk forty dollars that he can outjump any frog in 
Calaveras County." 

And the feller studies a minute, and then says, kinder sad-like, 
" Well, I'm only a stranger here, and I ain't got no frog, but if I had 
a frog I'd bet you." 

And then Smiley says: "That's all right — that 'sail right — if you'll 
hold my box a minute, I'll go and get you a frog." And so the feller 
took the box and put up his forty dollars along with Smiley's and set 
down to wait. 

So he set there a good while thinking and thinking to hisself, and 
then he got the frog out and prized his mouth open and took a teaspoon 
and filled him full of quail shot — filled him pretty near up to his chin 

— and set him on the floor. Smiley he went to the swamp and slopped 
around in the mud for a long time, and finally he ketched a frog and 
fetched him in and give him to this feller, and says : 

" Now, if you're ready, set him alongside of Dan'l, with his fore-paws 
just even with Dan'l's, and I'll give the word." Then he says, "One 

— two — three — £?'//" and him and the feller touched up the frogs 
from behind, and the new frog hopped off lively; but Dan'l give a 
heave, and hysted up his shoulders — so — like a Frenchman, but it 
warn't no use — he couldn't budge; he was planted as solid as a church, 
and he couldn't no more stir than if he was anchored out. Smiley was 
a good deal surprised, and he was disgusted, too, but he didn't have no 
idea what the matter was, of course. 

The feller took the money and started away; and when he was going 
out at the door he sorter jerked his thumb over his shoulder — so — at 
Dan'l, and says again, very deliberate: " Well," he says, "/ don't see 
no p'ints about that frog that's any better'n any other frog." 

Smiley he stood scratching his head and looking down at Dan'l a 
long time, and at last he says, " I do wonder what in the nation that 
frog throw'd off for — I wonder if there ain't something the matter with 
him — he 'pears to look mighty baggy, somehow." And he ketched 
Dan'l by the nap of the neck, and hefted him, and says, " Why, blame 
my cats if he don't weigh five pound! " and turned him upside down, 
and he belched out a double handful of shot. And then he see how it 
was, and he was the maddest man — he set the frog down and took out 
after that feller, but he never ketched him. 

126 Private History of the " Jumping Frog " Story 

The resemblances are deliciously exact. There 
you have the wily Boeotian and the wily Jim Smiley 
waiting — two thousand years apart — and waiting, 
each equipped with his frog and '* laying " for the 
stranger. A contest is proposed — for money. The 
Athenian would take a chance " if the other would 
fetch him a frog " ; the Yankee says: " I'm only a 
stranger here, and I ain't got no frog; but if I had 
a frog I'd bet you." The wily Boeotian and the 
wily Calif ornian, with that vast gulf of two thousand 
years between, retire eagerly and go frogging in the 
marsh ; the Athenian and the Yankee remain behind 
and work a base advantage, the one with pebbles, 
the other with shot. Presently the contest began. 
In the one case M they pinched the Boeotian frog " ; 
in the other, ** him and the feller touched up the 
frogs from behind." The Boeotian frog " gathered 
himself for a leap " (you can just see him !), " but 
could not move his body in the least ' ' : the Cali- 
fornian frog " give a heave, but it warn't no use — 
he couldn't budge." In both the ancient and the 
modern cases the strangers departed with the money. 
The Boeotian and the Californian wonder what is the 
matter with their frogs ; they lift them and examine ; 
they turn them upside down and out spills the in- 
forming ballast. 

Yes, the resemblances are curiously exact. I 
used to tell the story of the Jumping Frog in San 
Francisco, and presently Artemus Ward came along 
and wanted it to help fill out a little book which he 

Private History of the " Jumping Frog" Story 127 

was about to publish ; so I wrote it out and sent it 
to his publisher, Carleton; but Carleton thought the 
book had enough matter in it, so he gave the story 
to Henry Clapp as a present, and Clapp put it in 
his Saturday Press y and it killed that paper with a 
suddenness that was beyond praise. At least the 
paper died with that issue, and none but envious 
people have ever tried to rob me of the honor and 
credit of killing it. The M Jumping Frog " was the 
first piece of writing of mine that spread itself 
through the newspapers and brought me into public 
notice. Consequently, the Saturday Press was a 
cocoon and I the worm in it; also, I was the gay- 
colored literary moth which its death set free. This. 
simile has been used before. 

Early in '66 the " Jumping Frog " was issued in 
book form, with other sketches of mine. A year or 
two later Madame Blanc translated it into French 
and published it in the Revue des Deux Mondes, 
but the result was not what should have been ex- 
pected, for the Revue struggled along and pulled 
through, and is alive yet. I think the fault must 
have been in the translation. I ought to have trans- 
lated it myself. I think so because I examined into, 
the matter and finally retranslated the sketch from 
the French back into English, to see what the 
trouble was; that is, to see just what sort of a focus 
the French people got upon it. Then the mystery 
was explained. In French the story is too confused, 
and chaotic, and unreposeful, and. ungrammatical,. 

128 Private History of the "Jumping Frog" Story 

and insane ; consequently it could only cause grief 
and sickness — it could not kill. A glance at my 
re-translation will show the reader that this must be 

[Afy Re-translation.} 

Eh bien ! this Smiley nourished some terriers a rats, and some cocks 
of combat, and some cats, and all sort of things ; and with his rage of 
betting one no had more of repose. He trapped one day a frog and 
him imported with him (et l'emporta chez lui) saying that he pretended 
to make his education. You me believe if you will, but during three 
months he not has nothing done but to him apprehend to jump 
(apprendre a sauter) in a court retired of her mansion (de sa maison). 
And I you respond that he have succeeded. He him gives a small 
blow by behind, and the instant after you shall see the frog turn in the 
air like a grease-biscuit, make one summersault, sometimes two, when 
she was well started, and re-fall upon his feet like a cat. He him had 
accomplished in the art of to gobble the flies (gober des mouches), and 
him there exercised continually — so well that a fly at the most far that she 
appeared was a fly lost. Smiley had custom to say that all which lacked 
to a frog it was the education, but with the education she could do nearly 
all — and I him believe. Tenez, I him have seen pose Daniel Webster 
there upon this plank — Daniel Webster was the name of the frog — and 
to him sing, " Some flies, Daniel, some flies! " — in a flash of the eye 
Daniel had bounded and seized a fly here upon the counter, then jumped 
anew at the earth, where he rested truly to himself scratch the head with 
his behind-foot, as if he no had not the least idea of his superiority. 
Never you not have seen frog as modest, as natural, sweet as she was. 
And when he himself agitated to jump purely and simply upon plain 
earth, she does more ground in one jump than any beast of his species 
than you can know. 

To jump plain — this was his strong. When he himself agitated for 
that Smiley multiplied the bets upon her as long as there to him remained 
a red. It must to know, Smiley was monstrously proud of his frog, and 
he of it was right, for some men who were traveled, who had all seen, 
said that they to him would be injurious to him compare to another frog. 
Smiley guarded Daniel in a little box latticed which he carried bytimes 
to the village for some bet. 

Private History of the "Jumping Frog" Story 129 

One day an individual stranger at the camp him arrested with his box 
and him said: 

" What is this that you have then shut up there within? " 

Smiley said, with an air indifferent: 

"That could be a paroquet, or a syringe (ou un serin), but this no is 
nothing of such, it not is but a frog." 

The individual it took, it regarded with care, it turned from one side 
and from the other, then he said: 

" Tiens ! in effect ! — At what is she good? " 

" My God ! " respond Smiley, always with an air disengaged, "she is 
good for one thing, to my notice (cl mon avis'), she can batter in jump- 
ing (etle pent baiter en sautant) all frogs of the county of Calaveras." 

The individual re-took the box, it examined of new longly, and it 
rendered to Smiley in saying with an air deliberate: 

ii Eh bien ! I no saw not that that frog had nothing of better than each 
frog. " (Je ne vois pas que ceile grenouille ait rien de 7iiieux qii'aucune 
grenouitte.) [If that isn't grammar gone to seed, then I count myself 
no judge. — M. T. ] 

11 Possible that you not it saw not," said Smiley, "possible that you 
— you comprehend frogs; possible that you not you there comprehend 
nothing; possible that you had of the experience, and possible that you 
not be but an amateur. Of all manner {De toute maniere) I bet forty 
dollars that she batter in jumping no matter which frog of the county of 

The individual reflected a secor^ and said like sad: 

" I not am but a stranger hert^I no have not a frog; but if I of it 
had one, I would embrace the bet." 

"Strong, well!" respond Smiley; "nothing of more facility. If 
you will hold my box a minute, I go you to search a frog (firai vous 

Behold, then, the individual, who guards the box, who puts his forty 
dollars upon those of Smiley, and who attends (ei qui attend). He 
attended enough longtimes, reflecting all solely. And figure you that 
he takes Daniel, him opens the mouth by force and with a teaspoon 
him fills with shot of the hunt, even him fills just to the chin, then he 
him puts by the earth. Smiley during these times was at slopping in a 
swamp. Finally he trapped {attrape) a frog, him carried to that indi- 
vidual, and said: 

" Now if you be ready, put him all against Daniel, with their before- 

9# * 
• * 

130 Private History ot the "Jumping Frog" Story 

feet upon the same line, and I give the signal" — then he added: 
4 'One, two, three — advance! " 

Him and the individual touched their frogs by behind, and the frog 
new put to jump smartly, but Daniel himself lifted ponderously, exalted 
the shoulders thus, like a Frenchman — to what good? he could not 
budge, he is planted solid like a church, he not advance no more than if 
one him had put at the anchor. 

Smiley was surprised and disgusted, but he not himself doubted not 
of the turn being intended (mat's il ne se doutait pas du tour bien 
entendu). The individual empocketed the silver, himself with it went, 
and of it himself in going is that he no gives not a jerk of thumb over 
the shoulder — like that — at the poor Daniel, in saying with his air 
deliberate — (Vittdividu empoche V argent s'en va ei en s y en allant est 
ce quil ne donne pas un coup de pouce par-dessus Vipaule, comme, ca, 
au pauvre Daniel, en disant de son air de'libere.) 

"Eh bien! / no see not that that frog has nothing of better than 

Smiley himself scratched longtimes the head, the eyes fixed upon 
Daniel, until that which at last he said: 

" I me demand how the devil it makes itself that this beast has refused. 
Is it that she had something? One would believe that she is stuffed." 

He grasped Daniel by the skin of the neck, him lifted and said: 

"The wolf me bite if he no weigh not five pounds." 

He him reversed and the unhappy belched two handfuls of shot 
(et le malheureux, etc.). — When Smiley recognized how it was, he 
was like mad. He deposited his frog by the earth and ran after that 
individual, but he not him caught never. 

It may be that there are people who can translate 
better than I can, but I am not acquainted with them. 

So ends the private and public history of the 
Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, an incident 
which has this unique feature about it — that it is 
both old and new, a " chestnut " and not a " chest- 
nut " ; for it was original when it happened two 
thousand years ago, and was again original when it 
happened in California in our own time. 


I HAVE three or four curious incidents to tell 
about. They seem to come under the head of 
what I named M Mental Telegraphy " in a paper 
written seventeen years ago, and published long 

Several years ago I made a campaign on the plat- 
form with Mr. George W. Cable. In Montreal we 
were honored with a reception. It began at two in 
the afternoon in a long drawing-room in the Wind- 
sor Hotel. Mr. Cable and I stood at one end of this 
room, and the ladies and gentlemen entered it at the 
other end, crossed it at that end, then came up the 
long left-hand side, shook hands with us, said a 
word or two, and passed on, in the usual way. My 
sight is of the telescopic sort, and I presently recog- 
nized a familiar face among the throng of strangers 
drifting in at the distant door, and I said to myself, 
with surprise and high gratification, * ' That is Mrs. 
R. ; I had forgotten that she was a Canadian." She 
had been a great friend of mine in Carson City, 
Nevada, in the early days. I had not seen her or 

* The paper entitled " Mental Telegraphy," which originally appeared 
in Hat per' s Magazine for December, 1893, is included in the volume 
entitled The American Claimant and Other Stories and Sketches. 
!*#*# (131) 

132 Mental Telegraphy Again 

heard of her for twenty years ; I had not been 
thinking about her; there was nothing to suggest 
her to me, nothing to bring her to my mind ; in 
fact, to me she had long ago ceased to exist, and 
had disappeared from my consciousness. But I 
knew her instantly; and I saw her so clearly that I 
was able to note some of the particulars of her dress, 
and did note them, and they remained in my mind. 
I was impatient for her to come. In the midst of 
the hand-shakings I snatched glimpses of her and 
noted her progress with the slow-moving file across 
the end of the room ; then I saw her start up the 
side, and this gave me a full front view of her face. 
I saw her last when she was within twenty-five feet 
of me. For an hour I kept thinking she must still 
be in the room somewhere and would come at last, 
but I was disappointed. 

When I arrived in the lecture-hall that evening 
some one said: "Come into the waiting-room;, 
there's a friend of yours there who wants to see 
you. You'll not be introduced — you are to do the 
recognizing without help if y^u can." 

I said to myself: " It is Mrs. R. ; I shan't have 
any trouble." 

There were perhaps ten ladies present, all seated. 
In the midst of them was Mrs. R., as I had ex- 
pected. She was dressed exactly as she was when I 
had seen her in the afternoon. I went forward and 
shook hands with her and called her by name, and 
said ■ 

Mental Telegraphy Again 133 

" I knew you the moment you appeared at the 
reception this afternoon." 

She looked surprised, and said: M But I was not 
at the reception. I have just arrived from Quebec, 
and have not been in town an hour." 

It was my turn to be surprised now. I said: " I 
can't help it. I give you my word of honor that it 
is as I say. I saw you at the reception, and you 
were dressed precisely as you are now. When they 
told me a moment ago that I should find a friend in 
this room, your image rose before me, dress and 
all, just as I had seen you at the reception." 

Those are the facts. She was not at the reception 
at all, or anywhere near it; but I saw her there never- 
theless, and most clearly and unmistakably. To that 
I could make oath. How is one to explain this? I 
was not thinking of her at the time ; had not thought 
of her for years. But she had been thinking of me, 
no doubt; did her thoughts flit through leagues of 
air to me, and bring with it that clear and pleasant 
vision of herself? I think so. That was and remains 
my sole experience in the matter of apparitions — 1 
mean apparitions that come when one is (ostensibly) 
awake. I could have been asleep for a moment; 
the apparition could have been the creature of a 
dream. Still, that is nothing to the point; the 
feature of interest is the happening of the thing just 
at that time, instead of at an earlier or later time, 
which is argument that its origin lay in thought- 

134 Mental Telegraphy Again 

My next incident will be set aside by most persons 
as being merely a "coincidence," I suppose. Years 
ago I used to think sometimes of making a lecturing 
trip through the antipodes and the borders of the 
Orient, but always gave up the idea, partly because 
of the great length of the journey and partly because 
my wife could not well manage to go with me. 
Towards the end of last January that idea, after an 
interval of years, came suddenly into my head again 
— forcefully, too, and without any apparent reason. 
Whence came it? What suggested it? I will touch 
upon that presently. 

I was at that time where I am now — in Paris. I 
wrote at once to Henry M. Stanley (London), and 
asked him some questions about his Australian lec- 
ture tour, and inquired who had conducted him and 
what were the terms. After a day or two his answer 
came. It began : 

"The lecture agent for Australia and New Zealand is par excellence 
Mr. R. S. Smythe, of Melbourne." 

He added his itinerary, terms, sea expenses, and 
some other matters, and advised me to write Mr. 
Smythe, which I did — February 3d. I began my 
letter by saying in substance that while he did not 
know me personally we had a mutual friend in 
Stanley, and that would answer for an introduction. 
Then I proposed my trip, and asked if he would give 
me the same terms which he had given Stanley. 

I mailed my letter to Mr. Smythe February 6th, 
and three days later I got a letter from the selfsame 

Mental Telegraphy Again 135 

Smythe, dated Melbourne, December 17th. I would 
as soon have expected to get a letter from the late 
George Washington. The letter began somewhat 
as mine to him had begun — with a self-introduction : 

"Dear Mr. Clemens, — It is so long since Archibald Forbes and 
I spent that pleasant afternoon in your comfortable house at Hartford 
that you have probably quite forgotten the occasion." 

In the course of his letter this occurs : 

" I am willing to give you " [here he named the terms which he had 
given Stanley] " for an antipodean tour to last, say, three months." 

Here was the single essential detail of my letter 
answered three days after I had mailed my inquiry. 
I might have saved myself the trouble and the postage 

— and a few years ago I would have done that very 
thing, for I would have argued that my sudden and 
strong impulse to write and ask some questions of a 
stranger on the under side of the globe meant that 
the impulse came from that stranger, and that he 
would answer my questions of his own motion if I 
would let him alone. 

Mr. Smythe's letter probably passed under my 
nose on its way to lose three weeks traveling to 
America and back, and gave me a whiff of its con- 
tents as it went along. Letters often act like that. 
Instead of the thought coming to you in an instant 
from Australia, the (apparently) unsentient letter 
imparts it to you as it glides invisibly past your 
elbow in the mail-bag. 

Next incident. In the following month — March 

— I was in America. I spent a Sunday at Irvington- 

136 Mental Telegraphy Again 

on-the-Hudson with Mr. John Brisben Walker, of 
the Cosmopolitan magazine. We came into New 
York next morning, and went to the Century Club 
for luncheon. He said some praiseful things about 
the character of the club and the orderly serenity and 
pleasantness of its quarters, and asked if I had never 
tried to acquire membership in it. I said I had not, 
and that New York clubs were a continuous expense 
to the country members without being of frequent 
use or benefit to them. 

" And now I've got an idea!" said I. " There's 
the Lotos — the first New York club I was ever a 
member of - — my very earliest love in that line. I 
have been a member of it for considerably more 
than twenty years, yet have seldom had a chance to 
look in and see the boys. They turn gray and grow 
old while I am not watching. And my dues go on. 
I am going to Hartford this afternoon for a day or 
two, but as soon as I get back I will go to John 
Elderkin very privately and say: ' Remember the 
veteran and confer distinction upon him, for the 
sake of old times. Make me an honorary member 
and abolish the tax. If you haven't any such thing 
as honorary membership, all the better — create it 
for my honor and glory.' That would be a great 
thing; I will go to John Elderkin as soon as I get 
back from Hartford." 

I took the last express that afternoon, first tele- 
graphing Mr. F. G. Whitmore to come and see me 
next day. When he came he asked : 

Mental Telegraphy Again \yi 

" Did you get a letter from Mr. John Elderkin, 
secretary of the Lotos Club, before you left New 

" No." 

M Then it just missed you. If I had known you 
were coming I would have kept it. It is beautiful, 
and will make you proud. The Board of Directors, 
by unanimous vote, have made you a life member, 
and squelched those dues ; and, you are to be on 
hand and receive your distinction on the night of 
the 30th, which is the twenty- fifth anniversary of 
the founding of the club, and it will not surprise me 
if they have some great times there." 

What put the honorary membership in my head 
that day in the Century Club? for I had never 
thought of it before. I don't know what brought 
the thought to me at that particular time instead of 
earlier, but I am well satisfied that it originated with 
the Board of Directors, and had been on its way to 
my brain through the air ever since the moment that 
saw their vote recorded. 

Another incident. I was in Hartford two or three 
days as a guest of the Rev. Joseph H. Twichell. I 
have held the rank of Honorary Uncle to his chil- 
dren for a quarter of a century, and I went out with 
him in the trolley-car to visit one of my nieces, who 
is at Miss Porter's famous school in Farmington. 
The distance is eight or nine miles. On the way, 
talking, I illustrated something with an anecdote. 
This is the anecdote : 

138 Mental Telegraphy Again 

Two years and a half ago I and the family arrived 
at Milan on our way to Rome, and stopped at the 
Continental. After dinner I went below and took a 
seat in the stone-paved court, where the customary 
lemon-trees stand in the customary tubs, and said to 
myself, " Now this is comfort, comfort and repose, 
and nobody to disturb it; I do not know anybody 
in Milan." 

Then a young gentleman stepped up and shook 
hands, which damaged my theory. He said, in 
substance : 

11 You won't remember me, Mr. Clemens, but I 
remember you very well. I was a cadet at West 
Point when you and Rev. Joseph H. Twichell came 
there some years ago and talked to us on a Hun- 
dredth Night. I am a lieutenant in the regular army 
now, and my name is H. I am in Europe, all 
■alone, for a modest little tour; my regiment is in 

We became friendly and sociable, and in the 
course of the talk he told me of an adventure which 
had befallen him — about to this effect : 

11 I was at Bellagio, stopping at the big hotel 
there, and ten days ago I lost my letter of credit. I 
did not know what in the world to do. I was a 
stranger; I knew no one in Europe; I hadn't a 
penny in my pocket; I couldn't even send a tele- 
gram to London to get my lost letter replaced ; my 
hotel bill was a week old, and the presentation of it 
imminent — so imminent that it could happen at 

Mental Telegraphy Again 139 

an/ moment now. I was so frightened that my wits 
seemed to leave me. I tramped and tramped, back 
and forth, like a crazy person. If anybody ap- 
proached me I hurried away, for no matter what a 
person looked like, I took him for the head waiter 
with the bill. 

M I was at last in such a desperate state that I was 
ready to do any wild thing that promised even the 
shadow of help, and so this is the insane thing that 
I did. I saw a family lunching at a small table on 
the veranda, and recognized their nationality — 
Americans — father, mother, and several young 
daughters — young, tastefully dressed, and pretty 
— the rule with our people. I went straight there 
in my civilian costume, named my name, said I was 
a lieutenant in the army, and told my story and 
asked for help. 

" What do you suppose the gentleman did? But 
you would not guess in twenty years. He took 
out a handful of gold coin and told me to help 
myself — freely. That is what he did." 

The next morning the lieutenant told me his 
new letter of credit had arrived in the night, so we 
strolled to Cook's to draw money to pay back the 
benefactor with. We got it, and then went strolling 
through the great arcade. Presently he said, ** Yon- 
der they are; come and be introduced." I was 
introduced to the parents and the young ladies ; 
then we separated, and I never saw him or them any 
m — 

140 Mental Telegraphy Again 

" Here we are at Farmington," said Twichell, 

We left the trolley-car and tramped through the 
mud a hundred yards or so to the school, talking 
about the time we and Warner walked out there 
years ago, and the pleasant time we had. 

We had a visit with my niece in the parlor, then 
started for the trolley again. Outside the house we 
encountered a double rank of twenty or thirty of 
Miss Porter's young ladies arriving from a walk, and 
we stood aside, ostensibly to let them have room to 
file past, but really to look at them. Presently one 
of them stepped out of the rank and said : 

" You don't know me, Mr. Twichell, but I know 
your daughter, and that gives me the privilege of 
shaking hands with you." 

Then she put out her hand to me, and said : 

" And I wish to shake hands with you too, Mr. 
Clemens. You don't remember me, but you were 
introduced to me in the arcade in Milan two years 
and a half ago by Lieutenant H." 

What had put that story into my head after all 
that stretch of time? Was it just the proximity of 
that young girl, or was it merely an odd accident? 


HE reports the American joke correctly. In 
Boston they ask, How much does he know? 
in New York, How much is he worth? in Philadel- 
phia, Who were his parents? And when an alien 
observer turns his telescope upon us — advertisedly 
in our own special interest — a natural apprehension 
moves us to ask, What is the diameter of his 

I take a great interest in M. Bourget's chapters, 
for I know by the newspapers that there are several 
Americans who are expecting to get a whole educa- 
tion out of them ; several who foresaw, and also 
foretold, that our long night was over, and a light 
almost divine about to break upon the land. 

"His utterances concerning us are bound to be weighty and well 
timed. n 

**He gives us an object-lesson which should be thoughtfully and 
profitably studied." 

These well-considered and important verdicts were 
of a nature to restore public confidence, which had 
been disquieted by questionings as to whether so 
young a teacher would be qualified to take so large 
a class as 70,000,000, distributed over so extensive 
IOE (141) 

142 What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 

a schoolhouse as America, and pull it through with- 
out assistance. 

I was even disquieted myself, although I am of a 
cold, calm temperament, and not easily disturbed. 
I feared for my country. And I was not wholly 
tranquilized by the verdicts rendered as above. It 
seemed to me that there was still room for doubt. 
In fact, in looking the ground over I became more 
disturbed than I was before. Many worrying ques- 
tions came up in my mind. Two were prominent. 
Where had the teacher gotten his equipment? What 
was his method? 

He had gotten his equipment in France. 

Then as to his method ! I saw by his own intima- 
tions that he was an Observer, and had a System — 
that used by naturalists and other scientists. The 
naturalist collects many bugs and reptiles and butter- 
flies and studies their ways a long time patiently. 
By this means he is presently able to group these 
creatures into families and subdivisions of families 
by nice shadings of differences observable in their 
characters. Then he labels all those shaded bugs 
and things with nicely descriptive group names, and 
is now happy, for his great work is completed, and 
as a result he intimately knows every bug and shade 
of a bug there, inside and out. It may be true, but 
a person who was not a naturalist would feel safer 
about it if he had the opinion of the bug. I think 
it is a pleasant System, but subject to error. 

The Observer of Peoples has to be a Classifier, a 

What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 14> 

Grouper, a Deducer, a Generalizes a Psychologizer ; 
and, first and last, a Thinker. He has to be all 
these, and when he is at home, observing his own 
folk, he is often able to prove competency. But his- 
tory has shown that when he is abroad observing 
unfamiliar peoples the chances are heavily against 
him. He is then a naturalist observing a bug, with 
no more than a naturalist's chance of being able 
to tell the bug anything new about itself, and 
no more than a naturalist's chance of being able 
to teach it any new ways which it will prefer to its 

To return to that first question. M. Bourget, as 
teacher, would simply be France teaching America. 
It seemed to me that the outlook was dark — almost 
Egyptian, in fact. What would the new teacher, 
representing France, teach us? Railroading? No. 
France knows nothing valuable about railroading. 
Steamshipping? No. France has no superiorities 
over us in that matter. Steamboating? No. French 
steamboating is still of Fulton's date — 1809. Postal 
service? No. France is a back number there. 
Telegraphy? No, we taught her that ourselves. 
Journalism? No. Magazining? No, that is our 
own specialty. Government? No; Liberty, Equal- 
ity, Fraternity, Nobility, Democracy, Adultery — 
the system is too variegated for our climate. 
Religion? No, not variegated enough for our 
climate. Morals? No, we cannot rob the poor to 
enrich ourselves. Novel-writing? No. M. Bour- 

144 What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 

get and the others know only one plan, and when 
that is expurgated there is nothing left of the book. 

I wish I could think what he is going to teach us. 
Can it be Deportment? But he experimented in that 
at Newport and failed to give satisfaction, except to 
a few. Those few are pleased. They are enjoying 
their joy as well as they can. They confess their 
happiness to the interviewer. They feel pretty 
striped, but they remember with reverent recog- 
nition that they had sugar between the cuts. True, 
sugar with sand in it, but sugar. And true, they 
had some trouble to tell which was sugar and which 
was sand, because the sugar itself looked just like the 
sand, and also had a gravelly taste; still, they knew 
that the sugar was there, and would have been very 
good sugar indeed if it had been screened. Yes, 
they are pleased; not noisily so, but pleased; in- 
vaded, or streaked, as one may say, with little re- 
current shivers of joy — subdued joy, so to speak, 
not the overdone kind. And they commune to- 
gether, these, and massage each other with comfort- 
ing sayings, in a sweet spirit of resignation and 
thankfulness, mixing these elements in the same 
proportions as the sugar and the sand, as a memo- 
rial, and saying, the one to the other, and to the 
interviewer: " It was severe — yes, it was bitterly 
severe; but oh, how true it was; and it will do us 
so much good !" 

If it isn't Deportment, what is left? It was at 
this point that I seemed to get on the right track at 

What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 145 

last. M. Bourget would teach us to know ourselves; 
that was it: he would reveal us to ourselves. That 
would be an education. He would explain us to 
ourselves. Then we should understand ourselves; 
and after that be able to go on more intelligently. 

It seemed a doubtful scheme. He could explain 
us to Ziimsetf — that would be easy. That would 
be the same as the naturalist explaining the bug to 
himself. But to explain the bug to the bug — that 
is quite a different matter. The bug may not know 
himself perfectly, but he knows himself better than 
the naturalist can know him, at any rate. 

A foreigner can photograph the exteriors of a 
nation, but I think that that is as far as he can get. 
I think that no foreigner can report its interior — its 
soul, its life, its speech, its thought. I think that a 
knowledge of these things is acquirable in only one 
way ; not two or four or six — absorption ; years and 
years of unconscious absorption ; years and years 
of intercourse with the life concerned ; of living it, 
indeed; shari-or person-^ly in its shames and prides, 
its joys and ^ iefs, its loves and hates, its pros- 
perities and reverses, its shows and shabbinesses, 
its deep patriotisms, its whirlwinds of political pas- 
sion, its adoratiorr — of flag, and heroic dead, and 
the glory of the nat ; ^nil name. Observation? Of 
what real value is it? One learns peoples through 
the heart, not the eyes or the intellect. 

There is only one expert who is qualified to ex- 
amine the souls and the life of a people and make a 

146 What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 

valuable report — the native novelist. This expert is 
so rare that the most populous country can never 
have fifteen conspicuously and confessedly competent 
ones in stock at one time. This native specialist is 
not qualified to begin work until he has been absorb- 
ing during twenty-five years. How much of his 
competency is derived from conscious " observa- 
tion" ? The amount is so slight that it counts for 
next to nothing in the equipment. Almost the 
whole capital of the novelist is the slow accumula- 
tion of ^///conscious observation — absorption. The 
native expert's intentional observation of manners, 
speech, character, and ways of life can have value, 
for the native knows what they mean without having 
to cipher out the meaning. But I should be aston- 
ished to see a foreigner get at the right meanings, 
catch the elusive shades of these subtle things. 
Even the native novelist becomes a foreigner, with a 
foreigner's limitations, when he steps from the State 
whose life is iamiliar to him into a State whose life 
he has not lived. Bret Harte got b's California and 
his Californians by unconscious abs<" ption, and put 
both of them into his tales alive. But when he 
came from the Pacific to the Atlantic and tried to 
do Newport life from study — conscious observa- 
tion — his failure was sb°^lutely monumental. 
Newport is a disastrous place for the unacclimated 
observer, evidently. 

To return to novel-building. Does the native 
novelist try to generalize the nation? No, he lays 

What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 147 

plainly before you the ways and speech and life of a 
few people grouped in a certain place — his own 
place — and that is one book. In time he and his 
brethren will report to you the life and the people 
of the whole nation — the life of a group in a New 
England village ; in a New York village ; in a Texan 
village; in an Oregon village; in villages in fifty 
States and Territories ; then the farm-life in fifty 
States and Territories; a hundred patches of life 
and groups of people in a dozen widely separated 
cities. And the Indians will be attended to; and 
the cowboys; and the gold and silver miners; and 
the negroes; and the Idiots and Congressmen; and 
the Irish, the Germans, the Italians, the Swedes, 
the French, the Chinamen, the Greasers; and the 
Catholics, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the 
Congregationalists, the Baptists, the Spiritualists, 
the Mormons, the Shakers, the Quakers, the Jews, 
the Campbellites, the infidels, the Christian Scien- 
tists, the Mind-Curists, the Faith-Curists, the train- 
robbers, the White Caps, the Moonshiners. And 
when a thousand able novels have been written, 
there you have the soul of the people, the life of 
the people, the speech of the people; and not any- 
where else can these be had. And the shadings of 
character, manners, feelings, ambitions, will be 

" The nature of a people is always of a similar shade in its vices and 
its virtues, in its frivolities and in its labor. // is this physiognomy 
which it is necessary to discover , and every document is good, from the 

148 What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 

hall of a casino to the church, from the foibles of a fashionable woman 
to the suggestions of a revolutionary leader. I am therefore quite sure 
that this American sou/, the principal interest and the great object of 
my voyage, appears behind the records of Newport for those who choose 
to see it." — M. Paul Bour^et. 

[The italics are mine.] It is a large contract 
which he has undertaken. ** Records " is a pretty 
poor word there, but I think the use of it is due to 
hasty translation. In the original the word is fasies. 
I think M. Bourget meant to suggest that he ex- 
pected to find the great " American soul " secreted 
behind the ostentations of Newport; and that he 
was going to get it out and examine it, and general- 
ize it, and psychologize it, and make it reveal to 
him its hidden vast mystery: " the nature of the 
people " of the United States of America. We 
have been accused of being a nation addicted to 
inventing wild schemes. I trust that we shall be 
allowed to retire to second place now. 

There isn't a single human characteristic that can 
be safely labeled M American.'' There isn't a single 
human ambition, or religious trend, or drift of 
thought, or peculiarity of education, or code of 
principles, or breed of folly, or style of conversa- 
tion, or preference for a particular subject for dis- 
cussion, or form of legs or trunk or head or face or 
expression or complexion, or gait, or dress, or 
manners, or disposition, or any other human detail, 
inside or outside, that can rationally be generalized 
as '* American." 

Whenever you have found what seems to be an 

What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 149 

11 American " peculiarity, you have only to cross a 
frontier or two, or go down or up in the social scale, 
and you perceive that it has disappeared. And you 
can cross the Atlantic and find it again. There 
may be a Newport religious drift, or sporting drift, 
or conversational style or complexion, or cut of 
face, but there are entire empires in America, north, 
south, east, and west, where you could not find 
your duplicates. It is the same with everything 
else which one might propose to call M American." 
M. Bourget thinks he has found the American 
Coquette. If he had really found her he would also 
have found, I am sure, that she was not new, that 
she exists in other lands in the same forms, and 
with the same frivolous heart and the same ways 
and impulses. I think this because I have seen our 
coquette; I have seen her in life; better still, I have 
seen her in our novels, and seen her twin in foreign 
novels. I wish M. Bourget had seen ours. He 
thought he saw her. And so he applied his System 
to her. She was a Species. So he gathered a 
number of samples of what seemed to be her, and 
put them under his glass, and divided them into 
groups which he calls * 4 types," and labeled them in 
his usual scientific way with " formulas" — brief 
sharp descriptive flashes that make a person blink, 
sometimes, they are so sudden and vivid. As a 
rule they are pretty far-fetched, but that is not an 
important matter; they surprise, they compel ad- 
miration, and I notice by some of the comments 

150 What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 

which his efforts have called forth that they deceive 
the unwary. Here are a few of the coquette variants 
which he has grouped and labeled: 

The Collector. 

The Equilibree. 

The Professional Beauty. 

The Bluffer. 

The Girl-Boy. 

If he had stopped with describing these characters 
we should have been obliged to believe that they 
exist; that they exist, and that he has seen them and 
spoken with them. But he did not stop there; he 
went further and furnished to us light-throwing 
samples of their behavior, and also light-throwing 
samples of their speeches. He entered those things 
in his note-book without suspicion, he takes them 
out and delivers them to the world with a candor 
and simplicity which show that he believed them 
genuine. They throw altogether too much light. 
They reveal to the native the origin of his find. I 
suppose he knows how he came to make that novel 
and captivating discovery, by this time. If he 
does not, any American can tell him — any Ameri- 
can to whom he will show his anecdotes. It was 
** put up" on him, as we say. It was a jest — to 
be plain, it was a series of frauds. To my mind it 
was a poor sort of jest, witless and contemptible. 
The players of it have their reward, such as it is; 
they have exhibited the fact that whatever they may 
be they are not ladies. M. Bourget did not discover 

What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 151 

a type of coquette; he merely discovered a type of 
practical joker. One may say the type of practical 
joker, for these people are exactly alike all over the 
world. Their equipment is always the same: a 
vulgar mind, a puerile wit, a cruel disposition as a 
rule, and always the spirit of treachery. 

In his Chapter IV. M. Bourget has two or three 
columns gravely devoted to the collating and ex- 
amining and psychologizing of these sorry little 
frauds. One is not moved to laugh. There is 
nothing funny in the situation; it is only pathetic. 
The stranger gave those people his confidence, and 
they dishonorably treated him in return. 

But one must be allowed to suspect that M. 
Bourget was a little to blame himself. Even a 
practical joker has some little judgment. He has 
to exercise some degree of sagacity in selecting his 
prey if he would save himself from getting into 
trouble. In my time I have seldom seen such daring 
things marketed at any price as these conscienceless 
folk have worked off at par on this confiding ob- 
server. It compels the conviction that there was 
something about him that bred in those speculators 
a quite unusual sense of safety, and encouraged 
them to strain their powers in his behalf. They 
seem to have satisfied themselves that all he wanted 
was " significant" facts, and that he was not accus- 
tomed to examine the source whence they pro- 
ceeded. It is plain that there was a sort of con- 
spiracy against him almost from the start — - a 

152 What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 

conspiracy to freight him up with all the strange 
extravagances those people's decayed brains could 

The lengths to which they went are next to 
incredible. They told him things which surely 
would have excited any one else's suspicion, but 
they did not excite his. Consider this: 

" There is not in all tJie United States an entirely nude statue" 

If an angel should come down and say such a 
thing about heaven, a reasonably cautious observer 
would take that angel's number and inquire a little 
further before he added it to his catch. What does 
the present observer do? Adds it. Adds it at once. 
Adds it, and labels it with this innocent comment: 

11 This small fact is strangely significant" 

It does seem to me that this kind of observing is 

Here is another curiosity which some liberal 
person made him a present of. I should think it 
ought to have disturbed the deep slumber of his 
suspicion a little, but it didn't. It was a note from 
a fog-horn for strenuousness, it seems to me, but 
the doomed voyager did not catch it. If he had but 
caught it, it would have saved him from several 
disasters : 

" If the American knows that you are traveling to take notes, he is 
interested in it, and at the same time rejoices in it, as in a tribute. " 

Again, this is defective observation. It is human 
to like to be praised ; one can even notice it in the 

What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 153 

French. But it is not human to like to be ridiculed, 
even when it comes in the form of a " tribute." I 
think a little psychologizing ought to have come in 
there. Something like this : A dog does not like to 
be ridiculed, a redskin does not like to be ridiculed, 
a negro does not like to be ridiculed, a Chinaman 
does not like to be ridiculed ; let us deduce from 
these significant facts this formula: the American's 
grade being higher than these, and the chain of 
argument stretching unbroken all the way up to him, 
there is room for suspicion that the person who said 
the American likes to be ridiculed, and regards it as 
a tribute, is not a capable observer. 

I feel persuaded that in the matter of psycholo- 
gizing, a professional is too apt to yield to the fasci- 
nations of the loftier regions of that great art, to the 
neglect of its lowlier walks. Every now and then, 
at half-hour intervals, M. Bourget collects a hatful 
of airy inaccuracies and dissolves them in a panful 
of assorted abstractions, and runs the charge into 
a mould and turns you out a compact principle 
which will explain an American girl, or an Amer- 
ican woman, or why new people yearn for old 
things, or any other impossible riddle which a per- 
son wants answered. 

It seems to be conceded that there are a few 
human peculiarities that can be generalized and 
located here and there in the world and named by 
the name of the nation where they are found. I 
wonder what they are. Perhaps one of them is 

154 What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 

temperament. One speaks of French vivacity and 
German gravity and English stubbornness. There 
is no American temperament. The nearest that one 
can come at it is to say there are two — the com- 
posed Northern and the impetuous Southern ; and 
both are found in other countries. Morals? Purity 
of women may fairly be called universal with us, 
but that is the case in some other countries. We 
have no monopoly of it; it cannot be named Ameri- 
can. I think that there is but a single specialty with 
us, only one thing that can be called by the wide 
name " American." That is the national devotion 
to ice-water. All Germans drink beer, but the 
British nation drinks beer, too ; so neither of those 
peoples is the beer-drinking nation. I suppose we 
do stand alone in having a drink that nobody likes 
but ourselves. When we have been a month in 
Europe we lose our craving for it, and we finally 
tell the hotel folk that they needn't provide it any 
more. Yet we hardly touch our native shore again, 
winter or summer, before we are eager for it. The 
reasons for this state of things have not been 
psychologized yet. I drop the hint and say no 

It is my belief that there are some 4< national " 
traits and things scattered about the world that are 
mere superstitions, frauds that have lived so long 
that they have the solid look of facts. One of them 
is the dogma that the French are the only chaste 
people in the world. Ever since I arrived in France 

What Paul Bourget Thinks (/ :Js 155 

this last time I have been accumulating doubts about 
that; and before I leave this sunny land again I will 
gather in a few random statistics and psychologize 
the plausibilities out of it. If people are to come 
over to America and find fault with our girls and 
our women, and psychologize every little thing they 
do, and try to teach them how to behave, and how 
to cultivate themselves up to where one cannot tell 
them from the French model, I intend to find out 
whether those missionaries are qualified or not. A 
nation ought always to examine into this detail 
before engaging the teacher for good. This last one 
has let fall a remark which renewed those doubts of 
mine when I read it: 

" In our high Parisian existence, for instance, we find applied to arts 
and luxury, and to debauchery, all the powers and all the weaknesses of 
the French soul." 

You see, it amounts to a trade with the French 
soul; a profession ; a science; the serious business 
of life, so to speak, in our high Parisian existence. 
I do not quite like the look of it. I question if 
it can be taught with profit in our country, ex- 
cept, of course, to those pathetic, neglected minds 
that are waiting there so yearningly for the educa- 
tion which M. Bourget is going to furnish them 
from the serene summits of our high Parisian life. 

I spoke a moment ago of the existence of some 
superstitions that have been parading the world as 
facts this long time. For instance, consider the 
Dollar. The world seems to think that the love of 

156 What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 

money is " American " ; and that the mad desire to 
get suddenly rich is 4 * American." I believe that 
both of these things are merely and broadly human, 
not American monopolies at all. The love of money 
is natural to all nations, for money is a good and 
strong friend. I think that this love has existed 
everywhere, ever since the Bible called it the root of 
all evil. 

I think that the reason why we Americans seem 
to be so addicted to trying to get rich suddenly is 
merely because the opportunity to make promising 
efforts in that direction has offered itself to us with 
a frequency out of all proportion to the European 
experience. For eighty years this opportunity has 
been offering itself in one new town or region after 
another straight westward, step by step, all the way 
from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific, When a 
mechanic could buy ten town lots on tolerably long 
credit for ten months' savings out of his wages, and 
reasonably expect to sell them in a couple of years 
for ten times what he gave for them, it was human 
for him to try the venture, and he did it no matter 
what his nationality was. He would have done it in 
Europe or China if he had had the same chance. 

In the flush times in the silver regions a cook or 
any other humble worker stood a very good chance 
to get rich out of a trifle of money risked in a stock 
deal ; and that person promptly took that risk, no 
matter what his or her nationality might be. I wa9 
there, and saw it. 

What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 157 

But these opportunities have not been plenty in 
our Southern States; so there you have a prodigious 
region where the rush for sudden wealth is almost an 
unknown thing — and has been, from the beginning. 

Europe has offered few opportunities for poor 
Tom, Dick, and Harry; but when she has offered 
one, there has been no noticeable difference between 
European eagerness and American. England saw 
this in the wild days of the Railroad King; France 
saw it in 1720 — time of Law and the Mississippi 
Bubble. I am sure I have never seen in the gold 
and silver mines any madness, fury, frenzy to get 
suddenly rich which was even remotely comparable 
to that which raged in France in the Bubble day. 
If I had a cyclopaedia here I could turn to that 
memorable case, and satisfy nearly anybody that the 
hunger for the sudden dollar is no more M Ameri- 
can M than it is French. And if I could furnish an 
American opportunity to staid Germany, I think I 
could wake her up like a house afire. 

But I must return to the Generalizations, Psychol- 
ogizings, Deductions. When M. Bourget is ex- 
ploiting these arts, it is then that he is peculiarly and 
particularly himself. His ways are wholly original 
when he encounters a trait or a custom which is new 
to him. Another person would merely examine the 
find, verify it, estimate its value, and let it go; but 
that is not sufficient for M. Bourget: he always 
wants to know why that thing exists, he wants to 
know how it came to happen ; and he will not let go 


158 What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 

of it until he has found out. And in every instance 
he will find that reason where no one but himself 
would have thought of looking for it. He does not 
seem to care for a reason that is not picturesquely 
located ; one might almost say picturesquely and 
impossibly located. 

He found out that in America men do not try to 
hunt down young married women. At once, as 
usual, he wanted to know why. Any one could 
have told him. He could have divined it by the 
lights thrown by the novels of the country. But 
no, he preferred to find out for himself. He has a 
trustfulness as regards men and facts which is fine 
and unusual; he is not particular about the source 
of a fact, he is not particular about the character 
and standing of the fact itself; but when it comes to 
pounding out the reason for the existence of the 
fact, he will trust no one but himself. 

In the present instance here was his fact: Ameri- 
can young married women are not pursued by the 
corruptor; and here was the question: What is it 
that protects her? 

It seems quite unlikely that that problem could 
have offered difficulties to any but a trained philoso- 
pher. Nearly any person would have said to M. 
Bourget: " Oh, that is very simple. It is very 
seldom in America that a marriage is made on a 
commercial basis; our marriages, from the begin- 
ning, have been made for love; and where love is 
there is no room for the corruptor.' 1 

What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 159 

Now, it is interesting to see the formidable way 
in which M. Bourget went at that poor, humble 
little thing. He moved upon it ic column — three 
columns — and with artillery. 

'* Two reasons of a very different kind explain " 
— that fact. 

And now that I have got so far, I am almost afraid 
to say what his two reasons are, lest I be charged 
with inventing them. But I will not retreat now; I 
will condense them and print them, giving my word 
that I am honest and not trying to deceive any one. 

1. Young married women are protected from the 
approaches of the seducer in New England and 
vicinity by the diluted remains of a prudence created 
by a Puritan law of two hundred years ago, which 
for a while punished adultery with death. 

2. And young married women of the other forty 
or fifty States are protected by laws which afford 
extraordinary facilities for divorce. 

If I have not lost my mind I have accurately con- 
veyed those two Vesuvian irruptions of philosophy. 
But the reader can consult Chapter IV. of Outre- 
Mer, and decide for himself. Let us examine this 
paralyzing Deduction or Explanation by the light 
of a few sane facts. 

I. This universality of " protection " has existed 
in our country from the beginning ; before the 
death penalty existed in New England, and during 
all the generations that have dragged by since it 
was annulled. 

160 What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 

2. Extraordinary facilities for divorce are of such 
recent creation that any middle-aged American can 
remember a time when such things had not yet been 
thought of. 

Let us suppose that the first easy divorce law 
went into effect forty years ago, and got noised 
around and fairly started in business thirty-five years 
ago, when we had, say, 25,000,000 of white popu- 
lation. Let us suppose that among 5,000,000 of 
them the young married women were " protected " 
by the surviving shudder of that ancient Puritan 
scare — what is M. Bourget going to do about those 
who lived among the 20,000,000? They were clean 
in their morals, they were pure, yet there was no 
easy divorce law to protect them. 

Awhile ago I said that M. Bourget's method of 
truth-seeking — hunting for it in out-of-the-way 
places — was new; but that was an error. I re- 
member that when Leverrier discovered the Milky 
Way, he and the other astronomers began to theorize 
about it in substantially the same fashion which M. 
Bourget employs in his reasonings about American 
social facts and their origin. Leverrier advanced 
the hypothesis that the Milky Way was caused by 
gaseous protoplasmic emanations from the field of 
Waterloo, which, ascending to an altitude determin- 
able by their own specific gravity, became luminous 
through the development and exposure — by the 
natural processes of animal decay — of the phos- 
phorus contained in them. 

What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 161 

This theory was warmly complimented by Ptolemy, 
who, however, after much thought and research, 
decided that he could not accept it as final. His 
own theory was that the Milky Way was an emigra- 
tion of lightning bugs ; and he supported and rein- 
forced this theorem by the well-known fact that the 
locusts do like that in Egypt. 

Giordano Bruno also was outspoken in his praises 
of Leverrier's important contribution to astronomical 
science, and was at first inclined to regard it as con- 
clusive; but later, concei/ing it to be erroneous, he 
pronounced against it, and advanced the hypothesis 
that the Milky Way was a detachment or corps of 
stars which became arrested and held in suspenso 
saspensorum by refraction of gravitation while on 
the march to join their several constellations ; a 
proposition for which he was afterwards burned at 
the stake in Jacksonville, Illinois. 

These were all brilliant and picturesque theories, 
and each was received with enthusiasm by the scien- 
tific world ; but when a New England farmer, who 
was not a thinker, but only a plain sort of person 
who tried to account for large facts in simple ways, 
came out with the opinion that the Milky Way was 
just common, ordinary stars, and was put where it 
was because God *' wanted to hev it so," the ad- 
mirable idea fell perfectly flat. 

As a literary artist, M. Bourget is as fresh and 
striking as he is as a scientific one. He says, 
" Above all, I do not believe much in anecdotes." 

162 What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 

Why? IC In history they are all false" — a suffi- 
ciently broad statement — "in literature all libel- 
ous" — also a sufficiently sweeping statement, 
coming from a critic who notes that we are a 
people who are peculiarly extravagant in our lan- 
guage — "and when it is a matter of social life, 
almost all biased." It seems to amount to stultifi- 
cation, almost. He has built two or three breeds 
of American coquettes out of anecdotes — mainly 
"biased" ones, I suppose; and, as they occur 
" in literature," furnished by his pen, they must be 
" all libelous." Or did he mean not in literature 
or anecdotes about literature or literary people? I 
am not able to answer that. Perhaps the original 
would be clearer, but I have only the translation of 
this installment by me. I think the remark had an 
intention ; also that this intention was booked for 
the trip ; but that either in the hurry of the remark's 
departure it got left, or in the confusion of changing 
cars at the translator's frontier it got side-tracked. 

" But on the other hand I believe in statistics; 
and those on divorces appear to me to be most con^ 
elusive." And he sets himself the task of explain- 
ing — in a couple of columns — the process by 
which Easy-Divorce conceived, invented, originated, 
developed, and perfected an empire-embracing con- 
dition of sexual purity in the States. In 40 years. 
No, he doesn't state the interval. With all his 
passion for statistics he forgot to ask how long it 
took to produce this gigantic miracle. 

What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 163 

I have followed his pleasant but devious trail 
through those columns, but I was not able to get 
hold of his argument and find out what it was. I 
was not even able to find out where it left off. It 
seemed to gradually dissolve and flow off into other 
matters. I followed it with interest, for I was 
anxious to learn how easy-divorce eradicated adul- 
tery in America, but I was disappointed ; I have no 
idea yet how it did it. I only know it didn't. But 
that is not valuable ; I knew it before. 

Well, humor is the great thing, the saving thing, 
after all. The minute it crops up, all our hardnesses 
yield, all our irritations and resentments flit away, 
and a sunny spirit takes their place. And so, when 
M. Bourget said that bright thing about our grand- 
fathers, I broke all up. I remember exploding 
its American countermine once, under that grand 
hero, Napoleon. He was only First Consul then, 
and I was Consul-General — for the United States, 
of course; but we were very intimate, notwithstand- 
ing the difference in rank, for I waived that. One 
day something offered the opening, and he said : 

M Well, General, I suppose life can never get 
entirely dull to an American, because whenever he 
can't strike up any other way to put in his time he 
can always get away with a few years trying to find 
out who his grandfather was !" 

I fairly shouted, for I had never heard it sound 
better; and then I was back at him as quick as a 

164 What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us 

"Right, your Excellency! But I reckon a 
Frenchman's got his little stand-by for a dull time, 
too; because when all other interests fail he can 
turn in and see if he can't find out who his father 

Well, you should have heard him just whoop, and 
cackle, and carry on ! He reached up and hit me 
one on the shoulder, and says : 

"Land, but it's good! It's im-mensely good! 
I' George, I never heard it said so good in my life 
before ! Say it again." 

So I said it again, and he said his again, and I 
said mine again, and then he did, and then I did, 
and then he did, and we kept on doing it, and doing 
it, and I never had such a good time, and he said 
the same. In my opinion there isn't anything that 
is as killing as one of those dear old ripe pensioners 
if you know how to snatch it out in a kind of a 
fresh sort of original way. 

But I wish M. Bourget had read more of our 
novels before he came. It is the only way to 
thoroughly understand a people. When I found I 
was coming to Paris, 1 read La Terre. 


[The preceding squib was assailed in the North American Review in 
an article entitled "Mark Twain and Paul Bourget," by MaxO'Rell. 
The following little note is a Rejoinder to that article. It is possible 
that the position assumed here — that M. Bourget dictated the O'Rell 
article himself — is untenable.] 

YOU have every right, my dear M. Bourget, to 
retort upon me by dictation, if you prefer that 
method to writing at me with your pen ; but if I 
may say it without hurt — and certainly I mean no 
offence — I believe you would have acquitted your- 
self better with the pen. With the pen you are at 
home ; it is your natural weapon ; you use it with 
grace, eloquence, charm, persuasiveness, when men 
are to be convinced, and with formidable effect when 
they have earned a castigation. But I am sure I see 
signs in the above article that you are either unac- 
customed to dictating or are out of practice. If you 
will re-read it you will notice, yourself, that it lacks 
definiteness ; that it lacks purpose ; that it lacks 
coherence; that it lacks a subject to talk about; 
that it is loose and wabbly ; that it wanders around ; 
that it loses itself early and does not find itself any 

more. There are some other defects, as you will 


166 A Little Note to M. Paul Bourget 

notice, but I think I have named the main ones. I 
feel sure that they are all due to your lack of prac- 
tice in dictating. 

Inasmuch as you had not signed it I had the im- 
pression at first that you had not dictated it. But 
only for a moment. Certain quite simple and 
definite facts reminded me that the article had to 
come from you, for the reason that it could not 
come from any one else without a specific invitation 
from you or from me. I mean, it could not except 
as an intrusion, a transgression of the law which 
forbids strangers to mix into a private dispute be- 
tween friends, unasked. 

Those simple and definite facts were these : I had 
published an article in this magazine, with you for 
my subject; just you yourself; I stuck strictly to 
that one subject, and did not interlard any other. 
No one, of course, could call me to account but you 
alone, or your authorized representative. I asked 
some questions — asked them of myself. I an- 
swered them myself. My article was thirteen pages 
long, and all devoted to you; devoted to you, and 
divided up in this way: one page of guesses as to 
what subjects you would instruct us in, as teacher; 
one page of doubts as to the effectiveness of your 
method of examining us and our ways ; two or three 
pages of criticism of your method, and of certain 
results which it furnished you ; two or three pages 
of attempts to show the justness of these same 
criticisms ; half a dozen pages made up of slight 

A Little Note to M. Paul Bourget 167 

fault-findings with certain minor details of your 
literary workmanship, of extracts from your Outre- 
Mer and comments upon them ; then I closed with 
an anecdote. I repeat — for certain reasons — that 
/ closed with an anecdote. 

When I was asked by this magazine if I wished to 
1 answer " a " reply " to that article of mine, I 
said " yes," and waited in Paris for the proof-sheets 
of the " reply " to come. I already knew, by the 
cablegram, that the " reply " would not be signed 
by you, but upon reflection I knew it would be dic- 
tated by you, because no volunteer would feel him- 
self at liberty to assume your championship in a 
private dispute, unasked, in view of the fact that 
you are quite well able to take care of your matters 
of that sort yourself and are not in need of any 
one's help. No, a volunteer could not make such a 
venture. It would be too immodest. Also too 
gratuitously generous. And a shade too self- 
sufficient. No, he could not venture it. It would 
look too much like anxiety to get in at a feast 
where no plate had been provided for him. In fact 
he could not get in at all, except by the back way, 
and with a false key; that is to say, a pretext — a 
pretext invented for the occasion by putting into 
my mouth words which I did not use, and by 
wresting sayings of mine from their plain and true 
meaning. Would he resort to methods like those to 
get in? No; there are no people of that kind. So 
then I knew for a certainty that you dictated the 

168 A Little Note to M. Paul Bourget 

Reply yourself. I knew you did it to save yourself 
manual labor. 

And you had the right, as I have already said ; 
and I am content — perfectly content. Yet it would 
have been little trouble to you, and a great kindness 
to me, if you had written your Reply all out with 
your own capable hand. 

Because then it would have replied — and that is 
really what a Reply is for. Broadly speaking, its 
function is to refute — as you will easily concede. 
That leaves something for the other person to take 
hold of : he has a chance to reply to the Reply, he 
has a chance to refute the refutation. This would 
have happened if you had written it out instead of 
dictating. Dictating is nearly sure to unconcentrate 
the dictator's mind, when he is out of practice, con- 
fuse him, and betray him into using one set of 
literary rules when he ought to use a quite different 
set. Often it betrays him into employing the RULES 
for Conversation between a Shouter and a 
Deaf Person — as in the present case — when he 
ought to employ the RULES FOR CONDUCTING DIS- 
CUSSION with A Fault-finder. The great founda- 
tion-rule and basic principle of discussion with a 
fault-finder is relevancy and concentration upon the 
subject; whereas the great foundation-rule and basic 
principle governing conversation between a shouter 
and a deaf person is irrelevancy and persistent 
desertion of the topic in hand. If I may be allowed 
to illustrate by quoting example IV., section 7, 

A Little Note to M. Paul Bourget 169 

from chapter ix. of " Revised Rules for Conducting 
Conversation between a Shouter and a Deaf Per- 
son," it will assist us in getting a clear idea of the 
difference between the two sets of rules : 

Shouter. Did you say his name is WETHERBY? 

Deaf Person. Change? Yes, I think it will. 
Though if it should clear off I — 

Shouter, It's his NAME I want — his NAME. 

Deaf Person. Maybe so, maybe so; but it will 
only be a shower, I think. 

Shouter. No, no, no! — you have quite mis- 
underSTOOD me. If — 

Deaf Person. Ah! GOOD morning; I am sorry 
you must go. But call again, and let me continue 
to be of assistance to you in every way I can. 

You see it is a perfect kodak of the article you 
have dictated. It is really curious and interesting 
when you come to compare it with yours; in detail, 
with my former article to which it is a Reply in 
your hand. I talk twelve pages about your Ameri- 
can instruction projects, and your doubtful scientific 
system, and your painstaking classification of non- 
existent things, and your diligence and zeal and 
sincerity, and your disloyal attitude towards anec- 
dotes, and your undue reverence for unsafe statistics 
and for facts that lack a pedigree ; and you turn 
around and come back at me with eight pages of 

I do not see how a person can act so. It is good 
of you to repeat, with change of language, in the 

170 A Little Note to M. Paul Bourget 

bulk of your rejoinder, so much of my own article, 
and adopt my sentiments, and make them over, 
and put new buttons on ; and I like the compliment, 
and am frank to say so ; but agreeiiig with a person 
cripples controversy and ought not to be allowed. 
It is weather; and of almost the worst sort. It 
pleases me greatly to hear you discourse with such 
approval and expansiveness upon my text: 

44 A foreigner can photograph the exteriors of a 
nation, but I think that is as far as he can get. I 
think that no foreigner can report its interior;"* 
which is a quite clear way of saying that a foreigner's 
report is only valuable when it restricts itself to 
impressions. It pleases me to have you follow my 
lead in that glowing way, but it leaves me nothing 
to combat. You should give me something to deny 
and refute; I would do as much for you. 

It pleases me to have you playfully warn the 
public against taking one of your books seriously, f 
Because I used to do that cunning thing myself in 
earlier days. I did it in a prefatory note to a book 
of mine called Tom Sawyer. 

* And you say: "A man of average intelligence, who has passed six 
months among a people, cannot express opinions that are worth jotting 
down, but he can form impressions that are worth repeating. For my 
part, I think that foreigners' impressions are more interesting than native 
opinions. After all, such impressions merely mean ' how the country 
struck the foreigner.' " 

t When I published yonathan and his Continent, I wrote in a preface 
addressed to Jonathan: " If ever you should insist in seeing in this little 
volume a serious study of your country and of your countrymen, I warp 
you that your world-wide fame for humor will be exploded" 

A Little Note to M. Paul Bourget 171 


Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be pros- 
ecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; pei- 
6ons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. 

By Order of the Author 

Per G. G., Chief of Ordnance. 

The kernel is the same in both prefaces, you 
see — the public must not take us too seriously. If 
we remove that kernel we remove the life-principle, 
and the preface is a corpse. Yes, it pleases me to 
have you use that idea, for it is a high compliment. 
But is leaves me nothing to combat; and that is 
damage to me. 

Am I seeming to say that your Reply is not a 
reply at all, M. Bourget? If so, I must modify 
that; it is too sweeping. For you have furnished a 
general answer to my inquiry as to what France — 
through you — can teach us.* It is a good answer. 

♦"What could France teach America?" exclaims Mark Twain. 
France can teach America all the higher pursuits of life, and there is 
more artistic feeling and refinement in a street of French workingmen 
than in many avenues inhabited by American millionaires. She can 
teach her, not perhaps how to work, but how to rest, how to live, how to 
be happy. She can teach her that the aim of life is not money-making, 
but that money-making is only a means to obtain an end. She can 
teach her that wives are not expensive toys, but useful partners, friends, 
and confidants, who should always keep men under their wholesome in- 
fluence by their diplomacy, their tact, their common-sense, without 
bumptiousness. These qualities, added to the highest standard of 
morality (not angular and morose, but cheerful morality), are conceded 
to Frenchwomen by whoever knows something of French life outside of 
the Paris boulevards, and Mark Twain's ill-natured sneer cannot even so 
much as stain them. 

I might tell Mark Twain that in France a man who was seen tipsy in 

172 A Little Note to M. Paul Bourget 

It relates to manners, customs, and morals — three 
things concerning which we can never have ex- 
haustive and determinate statistics, and so the 
verdicts delivered upon them must always lack con- 
clusiveness and be subject to revision ; but you have 
stated the truth, possibly, as nearly as any one 
could do it, in the circumstances. But why did you 
choose a detail of my question which could be 
answered only with vague hearsay evidence, and 
go right by one which could have been answered 
with deadly facts? — facts in everybody's reach, 
facts which none can dispute. I asked what France 
could teach us about government. I laid myself 
pretty wide open, there ; and I thought I was hand- 
somely generous, too, when I did it. France can 
teach us how to levy village and city taxes which 
distribute the burden with a nearer approach to per- 
fect fairness than is the case in any other land ; and 
she can teach us the wisest and surest system of col- 
lecting them that exists. She can teach us how to 
elect a President in a sane way ; and also how to do 
it without throwing the country into earthquakes 
and convulsions that cripple and embarrass business, 
stir up party hatred in the hearts of men, and make 

his club would immediately see his name canceled from membership. A 
man who had settled his fortune on his wife to avoid meeting his cred- 
itors would be refused admission into any decent society. Many a 
Frenchman has blown his brains out rather than declare himself a bank- 
rupt. Now would Mark Twain remark to this: "An American is not 
such a fool : when a creditor stands in his way he closes his doors, and 
reopens them the following day. When he has been a bankrupt three 
times he can retire from business?" 

A Little Note to M. Paul Bourget 173 

peaceful people wish the term extended to thirty 
years. France can teach us — but enough of that 
part of the question. And what else can France 
teach us? She can teach us all the fine arts — and 
does. She throws open her hospitable art acade- 
mies, and says to us, "Come" — and we come, 
troops and troops of our young and gifted; and she 
sets over us the ablest masters in the world and 
bearing the greatest names ; and she teaches us all 
that we are capable of learning, and persuades us 
and encourages us with prizes and honors, much 
as if we were somehow children of her own ; and 
when this noble education is finished and we are 
ready to carry it home and spread its gracious 
ministries abroad over our nation, and we come 
with homage and gratitude and ask France for the 
bill — there is nothing to pay . And in return for this 
imperial generosity, what does America do? She 
charges a duty on French works of art ! 

I wish I had your end of this dispute; I should 
have something worth talking about. If you would 
only furnish me something to argue, something to 
refute — but you persistently won't. You leave 
good chances unutilized and spend your strength 
in proving and establishing unimportant things. 
For instance, you have proven and established these 
eight facts here following — a good score as to 
number, but not worth while: 

Mark Twain is — 

I. " Insulting." 


174 A Little Note to M. Paul Bourget 

2. (Sarcastically speaking) " This refined humor- 

3. Prefers the manure-pile to the violets. 

4. Has uttered " an ill-natured sneer." 

5. Is lt nasty." 

6. Needs a " lesson in politeness and good man- 

7. Has published a " nasty article." 

8. Has made remarks *' unworthy of a gentle- 
man."* These are all true, but really they are not 
valuable; no one cares much for such finds. In 
our American magazines we recognize this and sup- 
press them. We avoid naming them. American 
writers never allow themselves to name them. It 
would look as if they were in a temper, and we hold 
that exhibitions of temper in public are not good 
form — except in the very young and inexperienced. 
And even if we had the disposition to name them, 

* " It is more funny than his" (Mark Twain's) "anecdote, and 
would have been less insulting." 

A quoted remark of mine " is a gross insult to a nation friendly to 

"He has read La Terre, this refined humorist." 

11 When Mark Twain visits a garden ... he goes in the far-away 
comer where the soil is prepared." 

"Mark Twain's ill-natured sneer cannot so much as stain them" 
(the Frenchwomen). 

"When he" (Mark Twain) "takes his revenge he is unkind, un- 
fair, bitter, nasty." 

" But not even your nasty article on my country, Mark," etc. 

" Mark might certainly have derived from it " (M. Bourget's book) 
" a lesson in politeness and good manners." 

A quoted remark of mine is " unworthy of a gentleman." 

A Little Note to M. Paul Bourget 175 

Id order to fill up a gap when we were short of ideas 
and arguments, our magazines would not allow us to 
do it, because they think that such words sully their 
pages. This present magazine is particularly stren- 
uous about it. Its note to me announcing the 
forwarding of your proof-sheets to France closed 
thus — for your protection : 

4 4 It is needless to ask you to avoid anything that 
he might consider as personal." 

It was well enough, as a measure of precaution, 
but really it was not needed. You can trust me im- 
plicitly, M. Bourget; I shall never call you any 
names in print which I should be ashamed to call 
you with your unoffending and dearest ones present. 

Indeed, we are reserved, and particular in America 
to a degree which you would consider exaggerated. 
For instance, we should not write notes like that one 
of yours to a lady for a small fault — or a large 
one.* We should not think it kind. No matter 

* When M. Paul Bourget indulges in a little chaffing at the expense 
of the Americans, " who can always get away with a few years' trying 
to find out who their grandfathers were," he merely makes an allusion 
to an American foible; but, forsooth, what a kind man, what a humor- 
ist Mark Twain is when he retorts by calling France a nation of 
bastards ! How the Americans of culture and refinement will admire 
him for thus speaking in their name ! 

Snobbery. ... I could give Mark Twain an example of the Ameri- 
can specimen. It is a piquant story. I never published it because I 
feared my readers might think that I was giving them a typical illustra- 
tion of American character instead of a rare exception. 

I was once booked by my manager to give a causerie in the drawing- 
room of a New York millionaire. I accepted with reluctance. I do 

1/6 A Little Note to M. Paul Bourget 

how much we might have associated with kings and 
nobilities, we should not think it right to crush her 
with it and make her ashamed of her lowlier walk in 
life; for we have a saying, " Who humiliates my 
mother includes his own." 

Do I seriously imagine you to be the author of 
that strange letter, M. Bourget? Indeed I do not. 
I believe it to have been surreptitiously inserted by 
your amanuensis when your back was turned. I 
think he did it with a good motive, expecting it to 

not like private engagements. At five o'clock on the day the causerie 
was to be given, the lady sent to my manager to say that she would 
expect me to arrive at nine o'clock and to speak for about an hour. 
Then she wrote a postscript. Many women are unfortunate there. 
Their minds are full of after-thoughts, and the most important part of 
their letters is generally to be found after their signature. This lady's 
P. S. ran thus: " I suppose he will not expect to be entertained after 
the lecture." 

I fairly shouted, as Mark Twain would say, and then, indulging 
myself in a bit of snobbishness, I was back at her as quick as a flash — 

" Dear Madam: As a literary man of some reputation, I have many 
times had the pleasure of being entertained by the members of the old 
aristocracy of France. I have also many times had the pleasure of 
being entertained by the members of the old aristocracy of England. 
If it may interest you, I can even tell you that I have several times had 
the honor of being entertained by royalty; but my ambition has never 
been so wild as to expect that one day I might be entertained by the 
aristocracy of New York. No, I do not expect to be entertained by 
you, nor do I want you to expect me to entertain you and your friends 
to-night, for I decline to keep the engagement." 

Now, I could fill a book on America with reminiscences of this sort, 
adding a few chapters on bosses and boodlers, on New York chronique 
scandaleuse, on the tenement houses of the large cities, on the gambling- 
hells of Denver, and the dens of San Francisco, and what not ! But 
not even your nasty article on my country, Mark, will make me do it. 

A Little Note to M. Paul Bourget 177 

add force and piquancy to your article, but it does 
not reflect your nature, and I know it will grieve 
you when you see it. I also think he interlarded 
many other things which you will disapprove of 
when you see them. I am certain that all the harsh 
names discharged at me come from him, not you. 
No doubt you could have proved me entitled to 
them with as little trouble as it has cost him to do it, 
but it would have been your disposition to hunt 
game of a higher quality. 

Why, I even doubt if it is you who furnish me all 
that excellent information about Balzac and those 
others.* All this in simple justice to you — and to 
me ; for, to gravely accept those interlardings as 
yours would be to wrong your head and heart, and 
at the same time convict myself of being equipped 

* " Now the style of M. Bourget and many other French writers is 
apparently a closed letter to Mark Twain ; but let us leave that alone. 
Has he read Erckmann-Chatrian, Victor Hugo, Lamartine, Edmond 
About, Cherbuliez, Renan? Has he read Gustave Droz's Monsieur, 
Madame, et Bebe, and those books which leave for a long time a per- 
fume about you? Has he read the novels of Alexandre Dumas, Eugene 
Sue, George Sand, and Balzac? Has he read Victor Hugo's Les Mise- 
rables and Notre Dame de Pans? Has he read or heard the plays of 
Sandeau, Augier, Dumas, and Sardou, the works of those Titans of 
modern literature, whose names will be household words all over the 
world for hundreds of years to come? He has read La L"erre — this 
kind-hearted, refined humorist ! When Mark Twain visits a garden 
does he smell the violets, the roses, the jasmine, or the honeysuckle? 
No, he goes in the far-away corner where the soil is prepared. Hear 
what he says: u I wish M. Paul Bourget had read more of our novels 
before he came. It is the only way to thoroughly understand a people. 
When I found I was coming to Paris I read La Terre." 

i7S A Little Note to M. Paul Bourget 

with a vacancy where my penetration ought to be 

And now finally I must uncover the secret pain, 
the wee sore from which the Reply grew — the 
anecdote which closed my recent article — and con- 
sider how it is that this pimple has spread to these 
cancerous dimensions. If any but you had dictated 
the Reply, M. Bourget, I would know that that 
anecdote was twisted around and its intention mag- 
nified some hundreds of times, in order that it might 
be used as a pretext to creep in the back way. But 
I accuse you of nothing — nothing but error. When 
you say that I 44 retort by calling France a nation of 
bastards," it is an error. And not a small one, but 
a large one. I made no such remark, nor anything 
resembling it. Moreover, the magazine would not 
have allowed me to use so gross a word as that. 

You told an anecdote. A funny one — I admit 
that. It hit a foible of our American aristoc- 
racy, and it stung me — I admit that; it stung me 
sharply. It was like this: You found some ancient 
portraits of French kings in the gallery of one of our 
aristocracy, and you said : 

44 He has the Grand Monarch, but where is the 
portrait of his grandfatJier?" That is, the Ameri- 
can aristocrat's grandfather. 

Now that hits only a few of us, I grant — just the 
upper crust only — but it hits exceedingly hard. 

I wondered if there was any way of getting back 
at you. In one of your chapters I found this chance : 

A Little Note to M. Paul Bourget 179 

44 In our high Parisian existence, for instance, we 
find applied to arts and luxury, and to debauchery, 
all the powers and all the weaknesses of the French 

You see? Your 44 higher Parisian " class— not 
everybody, not the nation, but only the top crust of 
the nation — applies to debauchery all the powers 0/ 
its soul. 

I argued to myself that that energy must produce 
results. So I built an anecdote out of your remark. 
In it I make Napoleon Bonaparte say to me — but 
see for yourself the anecdote (ingeniously clipped 
and curtailed) in paragraph eleven of your Reply.* 

* So, I repeat, Mark Twain does not like M. Paul Bourget's book. 
So long as he makes light fun of the great French writer he is at home, 
he is pleasant, he is the American humorist we know. When he takes 
his revenge (and where is the reason for taking a revenge?) he is unkind, 
unfair, bitter, nasty. 

For example: 

See his answer to a Frenchman who jokingly remarks to him : 

" I suppose life can never get entirely dull to an American, because 
whenever he can't strike up any other way to put in his time, he can 
always get away with a few years trying to find out who his grandfather 

Hear the answer: 

" I reckon a Frenchman's got his little standby for a dull time, too; 
because when all other interests fail, he can turn in and see if he can't 
find out who his father was." 

The first remark is a good-humored bit of charring on American snob- 
>ery. I may be utterly destitute of humor, but I call the second remark 
1 gratuitous charge of immorality hurled at the French women — a 
remark unworthy of a man who has the ear of the public, unworthy of 
a gentleman, a gross insult to a nation friendly to America, a nation that 
helped Mark Twain's ancestors in their struggle for liberty, a nation 

180 A Little Note to M. Paul Bourget 

Now, then, your anecdote about the grandfathers 
hurt me. Why? Because it had a pouit. It wouldn't 
have hurt me if it hadn't had point. You wouldn't 
have wasted space on it if it hadn't had point. 

My anecdote has hurt you. Why? Because it had 
point, I suppose. It wouldn't have hurt you if it 
hadn't had point. I judged from your remark about 
the diligence and industry of the high Parisian upper 
crust that it would have some point, but really I had 
no idea what a gold-mine I had struck. I never 
suspected that the point was going to stick into the 
entire nation ; but of course you know your nation 
better than I do, and if you think it punctures them 
all, I have to yield to your judgment. But you are 
to blame, your own self. Your remark misled me. 
I supposed the industry was confined to that little 
unnumerous upper layer. 

Well, now that the unfortunate thing has been 
done, let us do what we can to undo it. There 
must be a way, M. Bourget, and I am willing to do 
anything that will help ; for I am as sorry as you 
can be yourself. 

I will tell you what I think will be the very thing. 

where to-day it is enough to say that you are American to see every 
door open wide to you. 

If Mark Twain was hard up in search of a French "chestnut," I 
might have told him the following little anecdote. It is more funny 
than his, and would have been less insulting : Two little street boys are 
abusing each other. "Ah, hold your tongue," says one, "you ain't 
got no father." 

"Ain't got no father!" replies the other; "I've got more fathers 
than you." 

A Little Note to M. Paul Bourget 18 1 

We will swap anecdotes. I will take your anecdote 
and you take mine. I will say to the dukes and 
counts and princes of the ancient nobility of France: 
11 Ha, ha ! You must have a pretty hard time trying 
to find out who your grandfathers were?" 

They will merely smile indifferently and not feel 
hurt, because they can trace their lineage back 
through centuries. 

And you will hurl mine at every individual in the 
American nation, saying: 

11 And you must have a pretty hard time trying to 
find out who your fathers were." They will merely 
smile indifferently, and not feel hurt, because they 
haven't any difficulty in finding their fathers. 

Do you get the idea? The whole harm in the 
anecdotes is in the point, you see; and when we 
swap them around that way, they haven' t any. 

That settles it perfectly and beautifully, and I am 
glad I thought of it. I am very glad indeed, M. 
Bourget; for it was just that little wee thing that 
caused the whole difficulty and made you dictate the 
Reply, and your amanuensis call me all those hard 
names which the magazines dislike so. And I did it 
all in fun, too, trying to cap your funny anecdote 
with another one — on the give-and-take principle, 
you know — which is American. / didn't know 
that with the French it was all give and no take, and 
ycu didn't tell me. But now that I have made 
everything comfortable again, and fixed both anec- 
dotes so they can never have any point any more, I 
know you will forgive me. 


I SEEM sixty and married, but these effects are due 
to my condition and sufferings, for I am a 
bachelor, and only forty-one. It will be hard for 
you to believe that I, who am now but a shadow, 
was a hale, hearty man two short years ago, — 
a man of iron, a very athlete! — yet such is tne 
simple truth. But stranger still than this fact 
is the way in which I lost my health. I lost it 
through helping to take care of a box of guns 
on a two-hundred-mile railway journey one winter's 
night. It is the actual truth, and I will tell you 
about it, 

I belong in Cleveland, Ohio. One winter's night, 
two years ago, I reached home just after dark, in a 
driving snow-storm, and the first thing I heard when I 
entered the house was that my dearest boyhood friend 
and schoolmate, John B. Hackett, had died the day 
before, and that his last utterance had been a desire 
that I would take his remains home to his poor old 
father and mother in Wisconsin. I was greatly 
shocked and grieved, but there was no time to waste 

in emotions; I must start at once. I took the 


The Invalid's Story ^183 

card, marked " Deacon Levi Hackett, Bethlehem, 
Wisconsin," and hurried off through the whistling 
storm to the railway station. Arrived there I 
found the long white-pine box which had been 
described to me ; I fastened the card to it with 
some tacks, saw it put safely aboard the express 
car, and then ran into the eating-room to provide 
myself with a sandwich and some cigars. When I 
returned, presently, there was my coffin-box back 
again, apparently, and a young fellow examining 
around it, with a card in his hands, and some tacks 
and a hammer! I was astonished and puzzled. He 
began to nail on his card, and I rushed out to the 
express car, in a good deal of a state of mind, to ask 
for an explanation. But no — there was my box, 
all right, in the express car ; it hadn't been disturbed. 
[The fact is that without my suspecting it a pro- 
digious mistake had been made. I was carrying off 
a box of guns which that young fellow had come to 
the station to ship to a rifle company in Peoria, 
Illinois, and he had got my corpse!] Just then the 
conductor sung out " All aboard," and 1 jumped 
into the express car and got a comfortable seat on 
a bale of buckets. The expressman was there, hard 
at work, — a plain man of fifty, with a simple, honest, 
good-natured face, and a breezy, practical heartiness 
in his general style. As the train moved off a stranger 
skipped into the car and set a package of peculiarly 
mature and capable Limburger cheese on one end of 
my coffin-box — I mean my box of guns. That is 

184 The Invalid's Story 

to say, I know now that it was Limburger cheese, 
but at that time I never had heard of the article in 
my life, and of course was wholly ignorant of its 
character. Well, we sped through the wild night, 
the bitter storm raged on, a cheerless misery stole 
over me, my heart went down, down, down ! The 
old expressman made a brisk remark or two about 
the tempest and the arctic weather, slammed his 
sliding doors to, and bolted them, closed his window 
down tight, and then went bustling around, here and 
there and yonder, setting things to rights, and all the 
time contentedly humming " Sweet By and By," in 
a low tone, and flatting a good deal. Presently I 
began to detect a most evil and searching odor steal- 
ing about on the frozen air. This depressed my 
spirits still more, because of course I attributed it to 
my poor departed friend. There was something in- 
finitely saddening about his calling himself to my re- 
membrance in this dumb pathetic way, so it was 
hard to keep the tears back. Moreover, it distressed 
me on account of the old expressman, who, I was 
afraid, might notice it. However, he went humming 
tranquilly on, and gave no sign; and for this I was 
grateful. Grateful, yes, but still uneasy; and soon 
I began to feel more and more uneasy every minute, 
for every minute that went by that odor thickened 
up the more, and got to be more and more gamey 
and hard to stand. Presently, having got things 
arranged to his satisfaction, the expressman got some 
wood and made up a tremendous fire in his stove. 

The Invalid's Story 185 

This distressed me more than I can tell, for I could 
not but feel that it was a mistake. I was sure that 
the effect would be deleterious upon my poor de- 
parted friend. Thompson — the expressman's name 
was Thompson, as I found out in the course of the 
night — now went poking around his car, stopping 
up whatever stray cracks he could find, remarking 
that it didn't make any difference what kind of a 
night it was outside, he calculated to make us com- 
fortable, anyway. I said nothing, but I believed he 
was not choosing the right way. Meantime he was 
humming to himself just as before; and meantime, 
too, the stove was getting hotter and hotter, and the 
place closer and closer. I felt myself growing pale 
and qualmish, but grieved in silence and said nothing. 
Soon I noticed that the " Sweet By and By " was 
gradually fading out; next it ceased altogether, and 
there was an ominous stillness. After a few moments 
Thompson said, — 

44 Pfew ! I reckon it ain't no cinnamon 't I've 
loaded up thish-yer stove with!" 

He gasped once or twice, then moved toward the 
cof — gun-box, stood over that Limburger cheese 
part of a moment, then came back and sat down 
near me, looking a good deal impressed. After a 
contemplative pause, he said, indicating the box with 
a gesture, — 

44 Friend of yourn ?" 

44 Yes," I said with a sigh. 

44 He's pretty ripe, ain't he!" 

186 The Invalid's Story 

Nothing farther was said for perhaps a couple of 
minutes, each being busy with his own thoughts; 
then Thompson said, in a low, awed voice, — 

" Sometimes it's uncertain whether they're really 
gone or not, — seem gone, you know — body warm, 
joints limber — and so, although you think they're 
gone, you don't really know. I've had cases in my 
car. It's perfectly awful, becuz you don't know 
what minute they'll rise up and look at you!" 
Then, after a pause, and slightly lifting his elbow 
toward the box, — "But he ain't in no trance! 
No, sir, I go bail for him!" 

We sat some time, in meditative silence, listen- 
ing to the wind and the roar of the train; then 
Thompson said, with a good deal of feeling, — 

" Well-a-well, we've all got to go, they ain't no 
getting around it. Man that is born of woman is of 
few days and far between, as Scriptur' says. Yes, 
you look at it any way you want to, it's awful solemn 
and cur'us: they ain't nobody can get around it; 
all's got to go — just everybody, as you may say. 
One day you're hearty and strong" — here he 
scrambled to his feet and broke a pane and stretched 
his nose out at it a moment or two, then sat down 
again while I struggled up and thrust my nose out at 
the same place, and this we kept on doing every now 
and then — "and next day he's cut down like the 
grass, and the places which knowed him then knows 
him no more forever, as Scriptur' says. Yes'ndeedy, 
it's awful solemn and cur'us; but we've all got to 

The Invalid's Story 187 

go, one time or another; they ain't no getting 
around it." 

There was another long pause; then, — 

••What did he die of?" 

I said I didn't know. 

'* How long has he ben dead?" 

It seemed judicious to enlarge the facts to fit the 
probabilities; so I said, — 

44 Two or three days." 

But it did no good ; for Thompson received it 
with an injured look which plainly said, " Two or 
three years y you mean." Then he went right along, 
placidly ignoring my statement, and gave his views 
at considerable length upon the unwisdom of putting 
off burials too long. Then he lounged off toward 
the box, stood a moment, then came back on a sharp 
trot and visited the broken pane, observing, — 

** 'Twould 'a' ben a dum sight better, all around, 
if they'd started him along last summer." 

Thompson sat down and buried his face in his red 
silk handkerchief, and began to slowly sway and 
rock his body like one who is doing his best to 
endure the almost unendurable. By this time the 
fragrance — if you may call it fragrance — was just 
about suffocating, as near as you can come at it. 
Thompson's face was turning gray; I knew mine 
hadn't any color left in it. By and by Thompson 
rested his forehead in his left hand, with his elbow 
on his knee, and sort of waved his red handkerchief 
towards the box with his other hand, and said, — 

188 The Invalid's Story 

11 I've carried a many a one of 'em, — some of 
'em considerable overdue, too, — but, lordy, he just- 
lays over 'em all! — and does it easy. Cap., they 
was heliotrope to him! " 

This recognition of my poor friend gratified me, 
in spite of the sad circumstances, because it had so 
much the sound of a compliment. 

Pretty soon it was plain that something had got 
to be done. I suggested cigars. Thompson thought 
it was a good idea. He said, — 

" Likely it'll modify him some." 

We puffed gingerly along for a while, and tried 
hard to imagine that things were improved. But 
it wasn't any use. Before very long, and without 
any consultation, both cigars were quietly dropped 
from our nerveless fingers at the same moment. 
Thompson said, with a sigh, — 

11 No, Cap., it don't modify him worth a cent. 
Fact is, it makes him worse, becuz it appears to- 
stir up his ambition. What do you reckon we better 
do, now?" 

I was not able to suggest anything; indeed, I had 
to be swallowing and swallowing, all the time, and 
did not like to trust myself to speak. Thompson 
fell to maundering, in a desultory and low-spirited 
way, about the miserable experiences of this night; 
and he got to referring to my poor friend by various 
titles, — sometimes military ones, sometimes civil 
ones; and I noticed that as fast as my poor friend's 
effectiveness grew, Thompson promoted him ac- 

The Invalid's Story 189 

cordingly, — gave him a bigger title. Finally he 
said, — 

44 I've got an idea. Suppos'n we buckle down to 
it and give the Colonel a bit of a shove towards 
t'other end of the car? — about ten foot, say. He 
wouldn't have so much influence, then, don't you 

I said it was a good scheme. So we took in 
a good fresh breath at the broken pane, calculat- 
ing to hold it till we got through ; then we went 
there and bent over that deadly cheese and took a 
grip on the box. Thompson nodded 44 All ready," 
and then we threw ourselves forward with all our 
might; but Thompson slipped, and slumped down 
with his nose on the cheese, and his breath got 
loose. He gagged and gasped, and floundered up 
and made a break for the door, pawing the air 
and saying hoarsely, 4i Don't hender me! — gimme 
the road! I'm a-dying; gimme the road!" Out 
on the cold platform I sat down and held his head 
a while, and he revived. Presently he said, — 

44 Do you reckon we started the Gen'rul any?" 

I said no; we hadn't budged him. 

44 Well, then, that idea's up the flume. We got 

to think up something else. He's suited wher' he 

is, I reckon; and if that's the way he feels about it, 

and has made up his mind that he don't wish to be 

disturbed, you bet he's a-going to have his own way 

in the business. Yes, better leave him right wher' 

he is, long as he wants it so; becuz he holds all the 

190 The Invalid's Story 

trumps, don't you know, and so it stands to reason 
that the man that lays out to alter his plans for him 
is going to get left." 

But we couldn't stay out there in that mad storm; 
we should have frozen to death. So we went in 
again and shut the door, and began to suffer once 
more and take turns at the break in the window. By 
and by, as we were starting away from a station where 
we had stopped a moment Thompson pranced in 
cheerily, and exclaimed, — 

"We're all right, now! I reckon we've got the 
Commodore this time. I judge I've got the stuff 
here that'll take the tuck out of him." 

It was carbolic acid. He had a carboy of it. He 
sprinkled it all around everywhere; in fact he 
drenched everything with it, rifle-box, cheese and all. 
Then we sat down, feeling pretty hopeful. But it 
wasn't for long. You see the two perfumes began 
to mix, and then — well, pretty soon we made a 
break for the door ; and out there Thompson swabbed 
his face with his bandanna and said in a kind of dis- 
heartened way, — - 

4< It ain't no use. We can't buck agin him. He 
just utilizes everything we put up to modify him with, 
and gives it his own flavor and plays it back on us. 
Why, Cap., don't you know, it's as much as a 
hundred times worse in there now than it was when 
he first got a-going. I never did see one of 'em 
warm up to his work so, and take such a dumnation 
interest in it. No, sir, I never did, as long as I've 

The Invalid's Story 191 

ben on the road ; and I've carried a many a one of 
'em, as I was telling you." 

We went in again after we were frozen pretty 
stiff; but my, we couldn't stay in, now. So 
we just waltzed back and forth, freezing, and 
thawing, and stifling, by turns. In about an hour 
we stopped at another station ; and as we left it 
Thompson came in with a bag, and said, — 

M Cap., I'm a-going to chance him once more, — 
just this once; and if we don't fetch him this time, 
the thing for us to do, is to just throw up the sponge 
and withdraw from the canvass. That's the way 1 
put it up." 

He had brought a lot of chicken feathers, and 
dried apples, and leaf tobacco, and rags, and old 
shoes, and sulphur, and asafcetida, and one thing or 
another; and he piled them on a breadth of sheet 
iron in the middle of the floor, and set fire to them. 

When they got well started, I couldn't see, myself, 
how even the corpse could stand it. All that went 
before was just simply poetry to that smell, — but 
mind you, the original smell stood up out of it just 
as sublime as ever, — fact is, these other smells just 
seemed to give it a better hold ; and my, how rich it 
was! I didn't make these reflections there — there 
wasn't time — made them on the platform. And 
breaking for the platform, Thompson got suffocated 
and fell; and before I got him dragged out, which I 
did by the collar, I was mighty near gone myself, 
When we revived, Thompson said dejectedly, — 

192 The Invalid's Story 

*' We got to stay out here, Cap. We got to do it. 
They ain't no other way. The Governor wants to 
travel alone, and he's fixed so he can outvote us." 

And presently he added, — 

*' And don't you know, we're pisoned. It's our 
last trip, you can make up your mind to it. Typhoid 
fever is what's going to come of this. I feel it a- 
coming right now. Yes, sir, we're elected, just as 
sure as you're born." 

We were taken from the platform an hour later, 
frozen and insensible, at the next station, and I went 
straight off into a virulent fever, and never knew any- 
thing again for three weeks. I found out, then, that 
I had spent that awful night with a harmless box of 
rifles and a lot of innocent cheese ; but the news was 
too late to save me; imagination had done its work, 
and my health was permanently shattered ; neither 
Bermuda nor any other land can ever bring it back 
to me. This is my last trip ; I am on my way home 
to die 



THERE was a good deal of pleasant gossip about 
old Captain 4< Hurricane " Jones, of the Pacific 
Ocean, — peace to his ashes! Two or three of us 
present had known him; I, particularly well, for I 
had made four sea-voyages with him. He was a 
very remarkable man. He was born on a ship ; 
he picked up what little education he had among 
his shipmates ; he began life in the forecastle, and 
climbed grade by grade to the captaincy. More 
than fifty years of his sixty-five were spent at sea. 
He had sailed all oceans, seen all lands, and bor- 
rowed a tint from all climates. When a man has 
been fifty years at sea, he necessarily knows noth- 
ing of men, nothing of the world but its surface, 
nothing of the world's thought, nothing of the 
world's learning but its ABC, and that blurred 
and distorted by the unfocused lenses of an un- 
trained mind. Such a man is only a gray and 
bearded child. That is what old Hurricane Jones 
was, — simply an innocent, lovable old infant. When 
his spirit was in repose he was as sweet and gentle 
as a girl ; when his wrath was up he was a hurricane 
13»»% (193) 

194 The Captain's Story 

that made his nickname seem tamely descriptive. 
He was formidable in a fight, for he was of powerful 
build and dauntless courage. He was frescoed from 
head to heel with pictures and mottoes tattooed in 
red and blue India ink. I was with him one voyage 
when he got his last vacant space tattooed ; this 
vacant space was around his left ankle. During 
three days he stumped about the ship with his ankle 
bare and swollen, and this legend gleaming red and 
angry out from a clouding of India ink: " Virtue is 
its own R'd." (There was a lack of room.) He 
was deeply and sincerely pious, and swore like a 
fish-woman. He considered swearing blameless, 
because sailors would not understand an order un- 
illumined by it. He was a profound Biblical scholar, 
— that is, he thought he was. He believed every- 
thing in the Bible, but he had his own methods of 
arriving at his beliefs. He was of the *' advanced ' 
school of thinkers, and applied natural laws to the 
interpretation of all miracles, somewhat on the plan 
of the people who make the six days of creation six 
geological epochs, and so forth. Without being 
aware of it, he was a rather severe satire on modern 
scientific religionists. Such a man as I have been 
describing is rabidly fond of disquisition and argu- 
ment; one knows that without being told it. 

One trip the captain had a clergyman on board, 
but did not know he was a clergyman, since the 
passenger list did not betray the fact. He took 
a great liking to this Rev. Mr. Peters, and talked 

The Captain's Story • 195 

with him a great deal : told him yarns, gave him 
toothsome scraps of personal history, and wove a 
glittering streak of profanity through his garru- 
lous fabric that was refreshing to a spirit weary 
of the dull neutralities of undecorated speech. One 
day the captain said, " Peters, do you ever read 
the Bible?" 

44 Well — yes." 

** I j u ^ge it ain't often, by the way you say it. 
Now, you tackle it in dead earnest once, and you'll 
find it'll pay. Don't you get discouraged, but hang 
right on. First, you won't understand it; but by 
and by things will begin to clear up, and then you 
wouldn't lay it down to eat." 

11 Yes, I have heard that said." 

*' And it's so, too. There ain't a book that begins 
with it. It lays over 'em all, Peters. There's some 
pretty tough things in it, — there ain't any getting 
around that, — but you stick to them and think them 
out, and when once you get on the inside every- 
thing's plain as day." 

" The miracles, too, captain?" 

44 Yes, sir! the miracles, too. Everyone of them. 
Now, there's that business with the prophets of 
Baal; like enough that stumped you?" 

44 Well, I don't know but—" 

44 Own up, now; it stumped you. Well, I don't 
wonder. You hadn't had any experience in raveling 
such things out, and naturally it was too many for 
you. Would you like to have me explain that thing 

196 The Captain's Story 

to you, and show you how to get at the meat of 
these matters?" 

t% Indeed, I would, captain, if you don't mind." 
Then the captain proceeded as follows: " I'll do 
it with pleasure. First, you see, I read and read, 
and thought and thought, till I got to understand 
what sort of people they were in the old Bible times, 
and then after that it was clear and easy. Now, this 
was the way I put it up, concerning Isaac* and the 
prophets of Baal. There was some mighty sharp 
men amongst the public characters of that old 
ancient day, and Isaac was one of them. Isaac had 
his failings, — plenty of them, too ; it ain't for me to 
apologize for Isaac ; he played on the prophets of 
Baal, and like enough he was justifiable, considering 
the odds that was against him. No, all I say is, 
't wa'n't any miracle, and that I'll show you so's't 
you can see it yourself. 

14 Well, times had been getting rougher and 
rougher for prophets, — that is, prophets of Isaac's 
denomination. There were four hundred and fifty 
prophets of Baal in the community, and only one 
Presbyterian; that is, if Isaac was a Presbyterian, 
which I reckon he was, but it don't say. Naturally, 
the prophets of Baal took all the trade. Isaac was 
pretty low-spirited, I reckon, but he was a good deal 
of a man, and no doubt he went a-prophesying 
around, letting on to be doing a land-office busi- 

This is the captain's own mistake. 

The Captain's Story 197 

ness, but 'twa'n't any use; he couldn't run any 
opposition to amount to anything. By and by 
things got desperate with him ; he sets his head 
to work and thinks it all out, and then what does 
he do? Why, he begins to throw out hints that 
the other parties are this and that and t'other, — 
nothing very definite, may be, but just kind of 
undermining their reputation in a quiet way. This 
made talk, of course, and finally got to the king. 
The king asked Isaac what he meant by his talk. 
Says Isaac, * Oh, nothing particular; only, can 
they pray down fire from heaven on an altar? It 
ain't much, maybe, your majesty, only can they 
do it? That's the idea.' So the king was a good 
deal disturbed, and he went to the prophets of 
Baal, and they said, pretty airy, that if he had 
an altar ready, they were ready; and they inti- 
mated he better get it insured, too. 

11 So next morning all the children of Israel and 
their parents and the other people gathered them- 
selves together. Well, here was that great crowd of 
prophets of Baal packed together on one side, and 
Isaac walking up and down all alone on the other, 
putting up his job. When time was called, Isaac let 
on to be comfortable and indifferent; told the other 
team to take the first innings. So they went at it, 
the whole four hundred and fifty, praying around the 
altar, very hopeful, and doing their level best. They 
prayed an hour, — two hours, — three hours, — and 
so on, plumb till noon. It wa'n't any use; they 

198 The Captain's Story 

hadn't took a trick. Of course they felt kind 
of ashamed before all those people, and well they 
might. Now, what would a magnanimous man 
do? Keep still, wouldn't he? Of course. What 
did Isaac do? He graveled the prophets of Baal 
every way he could think of. Says he, * You 
don't speak up loud enough; your god's asleep, 
like enough, or maybe he's taking a walk; you 
want to holler, you know,' — or words to that ef- 
fect; I don't recollect the exact language. Mind, 
I don't apologize for Isaac; he had his faults. 

44 Well, the prophets of Baal prayed along the best 
they knew how all the afternoon, and never raised a 
spark. At last, about sundown, they were all 
tuckered out, and they owned up and quit. 

*' What does Isaac do, now? He steps up and 
says to some friends of his, there, * Pour four barrels 
of water on the altar ! ' Everybody was astonished ; 
for the other side had prayed at it dry, you know, 
and got whitewashed. They poured it on. Says he, 
' Heave on four more barrels.' Then he says, 
' Heave on four more.' Twelve barrels, you see, 
altogether. The water ran all over the altar, and all 
down the sides, and filled up a trench around it that 
would hold a couple of hogsheads, — * measures,' it 
says; I reckon it means about a hogshead. Some 
of the people were going to put on their things and 
go, for they allowed he was crazy. They didn't 
know Isaac. Isaac knelt down and began to pray: 
he strung along, and strung along, about the heathen 

The Captain's Story 199 

in distant lands, and about the sister churches, and 
about the state and the country at large, and about 
those that's in authority in the government, and all 
the usual programme, you know, till everybody had 
got tired and gone to thinking about something 
else, and then, all of a sudden, when nobody was 
noticing, he outs with a match and rakes it on 
the under side of his leg, and pff ! up the whole 
thing blazes like a house afire ! Twelve barrels of 
water? Petroleum, sir, petroleum! that's what 
it was! " 

"Petroleum, captain?" 

"Yes, sir; the country was full of it. Isaac 
knew all about that. You read the Bible. Don't 
you worry about the tough places. They ain't tough 
when you come to think them out and throw light 
on them. There ain't a thing in the Bible but what 
is true ; all you want is to go prayerfully to work and 
cipher out how 't was done." 



HERE in Vienna in these closing days of 1897 
one's blood gets no chance to stagnate. The 
atmosphere is brimful of political electricity. All 
conversation is political; every man is a battery, 
with brushes overworn, and gives out blue sparks 
when you set him going on the common topic. 
Everybody has an opinion, and lets you have it 
frank and hot, and out of this multitude of coun- 
sel you get merely confusion and despair. For 
no one really understands this political situation, 
or can tell you what is going to be the outcome 
of it. 

Things have happened here recently which 
would set any country but Austria on fire from 
end to end, and upset the government to a 
certainty; but no one feels confident that such 
results will follow here. Here, apparently, one 
must wait and see what will happen, then 
he will know, and not before ; guessing is 
idle , guessing cannot help the matter. This is 

( 200 ) 

Stirring Times in Austria 201 

what the wise tell you ; they all say it ; they say it 
every day, and it is the sole detail upon which they 
all agree. 

There is some approach to agreement upon an- 
other point: that there will be no revolution. Men 
say: "Look at our history — revolutions have not 
been in our line; and look at our political map 
— its construction is unfavorable to an organized 
uprising, and without unity what could a revolt 
accomplish? It is bunion which has held our 
empire together for centuries, and what it has 
done in the past it may continue to do now and 
in the future." 

The most intelligible sketch I have encountered 
of this unintelligible arrangement of things was con- 
tributed to the Travelers Record by Mr. Forrest 
Morgan, of Hartford, three years ago. He says: 

The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy is the patchwork quilt, the Mid- 
way Plaisance, the national chain-gang of Europe; a state that is not a 
nation but a collection of nations, some with national memories and 
aspirations and others without, some occupying distinct provinces almost 
purely their own, and others mixed with alien races, but each with a 
different language, and each mostly holding the others foreigners as 
much as if the link of a common government did not exist. Only one of 
its races even now comprises so much as one- fourth of the whole, and 
not another so much as one-sixth ; and each has remained for ages as 
unchanged in isolation, however mingled together in locality, as glob- 
ules of oil in water. There is nothing else in the modern world that is 
nearly like it, though there have been plenty in past ages; it seems un- 
real and impossible even though we know it is true; it violates all our 
feeling as to what a country should be in order to have a right to exist; 
and it seems as though it was too ramshackle to go on holding together 
any length of time. Yet it has survived, much in its present shape, two 

202 Stirring Times in Austria 

centuries of storms that have swept perfectly unified countries from 
existence and others that have brought it to the verge of ruin, has sur- 
vived formidable European coalitions to dismember it, and has steadily 
gained force after each; forever changing in its exact make-up, losing 
in the West but gaining in the East, the changes leave the structure as firm 
as ever, like the dropping off and adding on of logs in a raft, its mechan- 
ical union of pieces showing all the vitality of genuine national life. 

That seems to confirm and justify the prevalent 
Austrian faith that in this confusion of unrelated and 
irreconcilable elements, this condition of incurable 
disunion, there is strength — for the government. 
Nearly every day some one explains to me that a 
revolution would not succeed here. " It couldn't, 
you know. Broadly speaking, all the nations in the 
empire hate the government — but they all hate each 
other, too, and with devoted and enthusiastic bitter- 
ness; no two of them can combine; the nation that 
rises must rise alone ; then the others would joyfully 
join the government against her, and she would have 
just a fly's chance against a combination of spiders. 
This government is entirely independent. It can go 
its own road, and dp as it pleases; it has nothing to 
fear. In countries like England and America, where 
there is one tongue and the public interests are 
common, the government must take account of public 
opinion; but in Austria-Hungary there are nineteen 
public opinions — - one for each state. No — two or 
three for each state, since there are two or three 
nationalities in each. A government cannot satisfy 
all these public opinions ; it can only go through the 
motions of trying. This government does that. It 

Stirring Times in Austria 203 

goes through the motions, and they do not succeed; 
but that does not worry the government much." 

The next man will give you some further informa- 
tion. " The government has a policy — a wise one 
— and sticks steadily to it. This policy is — tran- 
quillity: keep this hive of excitable nations as quiet 
as possible ; encourage them to amuse themselves 
with things less inflammatory than politics. To this 
end it furnishes them an abundance of Catholic priests 
to teach them to be docile and obedient, and to be 
diligent in acquiring ignorance about things here 
below, and knowledge about the kingdom of heaven, 
to whose historic delights they are going to add the 
charm of their society by-and-by; and further — to 
this same end — it cools off the newspapers every 
morning at five o'clock, whenever warm events are 
happening." There is a censor of the press, and 
apparently he is always on duty and hard at work. 
A copy of each morning paper is brought to him at 
five o'clock. His official wagons wait at the doors 
of the newspaper offices and scud to him with the 
first copies that come from the press. His company 
of assistants read every line in these papers, and mark 
everything which seems to have a dangerous look; 
then he passes final judgment upon these markings. 
Two things conspire to give to the results a capricious 
and unbalanced look: his assistants have diversified 
notions as to what is dangerous and what isn't; he 
can't get time to examine their criticisms in much 
detail ; and so sometimes the very same matter which 

204 Stirring Times in Austria 

is suppressed in one paper fails to be damned in 
another one, and gets published in full feather and 
unmodified. Then the paper in which it was sup- 
pressed blandly copies the forbidden matter into its 
evening edition — provokingly giving credit and 
detailing all the circumstances in courteous and in- 
offensive language — and of course the censor cannot 
say a word. 

Sometimes the censor sucks all the blood out of a 
newspaper and leaves it colorless and inane ; some- 
times he leaves it undisturbed, and lets it talk out 
its opinions with a frankness and vigor hardly to be 
surpassed, I think, in the journals of any country. 
Apparently the censor sometimes revises his verdicts 
upon second thought, for several times lately he has 
suppressed journals after their issue and partial 
distribution. The distributed copies are then sent 
for by the censor and destroyed. I have two of 
these, but at the time they were sent for I could not 
remember what I had done with them. 

If the censor did his work before the morning 
edition was printed, he would be less of an incon- 
venience than he is; but of course the papers can- 
not wait many minutes after five o'clock to get his 
verdict; they might as well go out of business as do 
that; so they print, and take the chances. Then, 
if they get caught by a suppression, they must strike 
out the condemned matter and print the edition over 
again. That delays the issue several hours, and is 
expensive besides. The government gets the sup- 

Stirring Times in Austria 205 

pressed edition for nothing. If it bought it, that 
would be joyful, and would give great satisfaction. 
Also, the edition would be larger. Some of the 
papers do not replace the condemned paragraphs 
with other matter ; they merely snatch them out and 
leave blanks behind — mourning blanks, marked 
11 Confiscated '." 

The government discourages the dissemination of 
newspaper information in other ways. For instance, 
it does not allow newspapers to be sold on the streets ; 
therefore the newsboy is unknown in Vienna. And 
there is a stamp duty of nearly a cent upon each 
copy of a newspaper's issue. Every American paper 
that reaches me has a stamp upon it, which has been 
pasted there in the post-office or downstairs in the 
hotel office; but no matter who put it there, I have 
to pay for it, and that is the main thing. Sometimes 
friends send me so many papers that it takes all I 
can earn that week to keep this government going. 

I must take passing notice of another point in the 
government's measures for maintaining tranquillity. 
Everybody says it does not like to see any individual 
attain to commanding influence in the country, since 
such a man can become a disturber and an incon- 
venience. " We have as much talent as the othei 
nations," says the citizen, resignedly, and without 
bitterness, " but for the sake of the general good of 
the country we are discouraged from making it over- 
conspicuous; and not only discouraged, but tactfully 

and skillfully prevented from doing it, if we show 

206 Stirring limes m Ausu a 

too much persistence. Consequently we have no 
renowned men ; in centuries we have seldom pro- 
duced one — that is, seldom allowed one to produce 
himself. We can say to-day what no other nation 
of first importance in the family of Christian civil- 
izations can say: that there exists no Austrian who 
has made an enduring name for himself which is fa- 
miliar all around the globe." 

Another helper toward tranquillity is the army. It 
is as pervasive as the atmosphere. It is everywhere. 
All the mentioned creators, promoters, and pre- 
servers of the public tranquillity do their several 
shares in the quieting work. They make a restful 
and comfortable serenity and reposefulness. This is 
disturbed sometimes for a little while: a mob as- 
sembles to protest against something; it gets noisy 
— noisier — still noisier — finally too noisy; then 
the persuasive soldiery come charging down upon it, 
and in a few minutes all is quiet again, and there is 
no mob. 

There is a Constitution and there is a Parliament. 
The House draws its membership of 425 deputies 
from the nineteen or twenty states heretofore men- 
tioned. These men represent peoples who speak 
eleven languages. That means eleven distinct varie- 
ties of jealousies, hostilities, and warring interests. 
This could be expected to furnish forth a parlia- 
ment of a pretty inharmonious sort, and make legis- 
lation difficult at times — and it does that. The 
parliament is split up into many parties — the Cler- 

Stirring Times in Austria 207 

icals, the Progressists, the German Nationalists, the 
Young Czechs, the Social Democrats, the Christian 
Socialists, and some others — and it is difficult to 
get up working combinations among them. They 
prefer to fight apart sometimes. 

The recent troubles have grown out of Count 
Badeni's necessities. He could not carry on his 
government without a majority vote in the House 
at his back, and in order to secure it he had to make 
a trade of some sort. He made it with the Czechs 
— the Bohemians. The terms were not easy for 
him: he must pass a bill making the Czech tongue 
the official language in Bohemia in place of the 
German. This created a storm. All the Germans 
in Austria were incensed. In numbers they form 
but a fourth part of the empire's population, but 
they urge that the country's public business should 
be conducted in one common tongue, and that 
tongue a world language — which German is. 

However, Badeni secured his majority. The 
German element in parliament was apparently 
become helpless. The Czech deputies were ex- 

Then the music began. Badeni' s voyage, instead 
of being smooth, was disappointingly rough from 
the start. The government must get the Ansgleich 
through. It must not fail. Badeni's majority was 
ready to carry it through; but the minority was 
determined to obstruct it and delay it until the ob- 
noxious Czech-language measure should be shelved. 

208 Stirring Times in Austria 

The Ausgleich is an Adjustment, Arrangement, 
Settlement, which holds Austria and Hungary to- 
gether. It dates from 1867, and has to be re- 
newed every ten years. It establishes the share 
which Hungary must pay toward the expenses of 
the imperial government. Hungary is a kingdom 
(the Emperor of Austria is its King), and has its 
own parliament and governmental machinery. But 
*t has no foreign office, and it has no army — at 
least its army is a part of the imperial army, is 
paid out of the imperial treasury, and is under 
the control of the imperial war office. 

The ten-year rearrangement was due a year ago, 
but failed to connect. At least completely. A 
year's compromise was arranged. A new arrange- 
ment must be effected before the last day of this 
year. Otherwise the two countries become separate 
entities. The Emperor would still be King of 
Hungary — that is, King of an independent foreign 
country. There would be Hungarian custom-houses 
on the Austrian frontier, and there would be a Hun- 
garian army and a Hungarian foreign office. Both 
countries would be weakened by this, both would 
suffer damage. 

The Opposition in the House, although in the 
minority, had a good weapon to fight with in the 
pending Ausgleich. If it could delay the Ausgleich 
a few weeks, the government would doubtless have 
to withdraw the hated language bill or lose Hun- 

Stirring Times in Austria 209 

The Opposition began its fight. Its arms were 
the Rules of the House. It was soon manifest that 
by applying these Rules ingeniously it could make 
the majority helpless, and keep it so as long as it 
pleased. It could shut off business every now and 
then with a motion to adjourn. It could require the 
ayes and noes on the motion, and use up thirty 
minutes on that detail. It could call for the reading 
and verification of the minutes of the preceding 
meeting, and use up half a day in that way. It could 
require that several of its members be entered upon 
the list of permitted speakers previously to the open- 
ing of a sitting; and as there is no time limit, fur- 
ther delays could thus be accomplished. 

These were all lawful weapons, and the men of 
the Opposition (technically called the Left) were 
within their rights in using them. They used them 
to such dire purpose that all parliamentary business 
was paralyzed. The Right (the government side) 
could accomplish nothing. Then it had a saving 
idea. This idea was a curious one. It was to 
have the President and the Vice-Presidents of the 
parliament trample the Rules under foot upon oc- 
casion ! 

This, for a profoundly embittered minority con- 
structed out of fire and gun-cotton ! It was time 
for idle strangers to go and ask leave to look 
down out of a gallery and see what would be the 
result of it. 

14* * 

210 Stirring Times in Austria 


And now took place that memorable sitting of the 
House which broke two records. It lasted the best 
part of two days and a night, surpassing by half an 
hour the longest sitting known to the world's previous 
parliamentary history, and breaking the long-speech 
record with Dr. Lecher's twelve-hour effort, the 
longest flow of unbroken talk that ever came out of 
one mouth since the world began. 

At 8:45, on the evening of the 28th of October, 
when the House had been sitting a few minutes short 
of ten hours, Dr. Lecher was granted the floor. It 
was a good place for theatrical effects. I think that 
no other Senate House is so shapely as this one, 
or so richly and showily decorated. Its plan is that 
of an opera-house. Up toward the straight side of 
it — the stage side — rise a couple of terraces of 
desks for the ministry, and the official clerks or 
secretaries — terraces thirty feet long, and each sup- 
porting about half a dozen desks with spaces between 
them. Above these is the President's terrace, against 
the wall. Along it are distributed the proper accom- 
modations for the presiding officer and his assistants. 
The wall is of richly colored marble highly polished, 
its paneled sweep relieved by fluted columns and 
pilasters of distinguished grace and dignity, which 
glow softly and frostily in the electric light. Around 
the spacious half-circle of the floor bends the great 
two-storied curve of the boxes, its frontage elaborately 
ornamented and sumptuously gilded. On the floor 

Stirring Times in Austria 211 

of the House the 425 desks radiate fanwise from the 
President's tribune. 

The galleries are crowded on this particular evening, 
for word has gone about that the Ausgleich is before 
the House ; that the President, Ritter von Abraham- 
owicz, has been throttling the Rules; that the 
Opposition are in an inflammable state in con- 
sequence, and that the night session is likely to be 
of an exciting sort. 

The gallery guests are fashionably dressed, and 
the finery of the women makes a bright and pretty 
show under the strong electric light. But down on 
the floor there is no costumery. 

The deputies are dressed in day clothes ; some of 
the clothes neat and trim, others not; there may be 
three members in evening dress, but not more. 
There are several Catholic priests in their long black 
gowns, and with crucifixes hanging from their necks. 
No member wears his hat. One may see by these 
details that the aspects are not those of an evening 
sitting of an English House of Commons, but rather 
those of a sitting of our House of Representatives. 

In his high place sits the President, Abrahamowicz, 
object of the Opposition's limitless hatred. He is 
sunk back in the depths of his arm-chair, and has his 
chin down. He brings the ends of his spread fingers 
together in front of his breast, and reflectively taps 
them together, with the air of one who would like to 
begin business, but must wait, and be as patient as 
he can. It makes- you think of Richelieu. Now 

* » 

212 Stirring Times in Austria 

and then he swings his head up to the left or to the 
right and answers something which some one has 
bent down to say to him. Then he taps his fingers 
again. He looks tired, and maybe a trifle harassed. 
He is a gray-haired, long, slender man, with a color- 
less long face, which, in repose, suggests a death- 
mask; but when not in repose is tossed and rippled 
by a turbulent smile which washes this way and that, 
and is not easy to keep up with — a pious smile, a 
holy smile, a saintly smile, a deprecating smile, a 
beseeching and supplicating smile; and when it is at 
work the large mouth opens and the flexible lips 
crumple, and unfold, and crumple again, and move 
around in a genial and persuasive and angelic way, 
and expose large glimpses of the teeth ; and that 
interrupts the sacredness of the smile and gives it 
momentarily a mixed worldly and political and satanic 
cast. It is a most interesting face to watch. And 
then the long hands and the body — they furnish 
great and frequent help to the face in the business 
of adding to the force of the statesman's words. 

To change the tense. At the time of which I 
have just been speaking the crowds in the galleries 
were gazing at the stage and the pit with rapt interest 
and expectancy. One half of the great fan of desks 
was in effect empty, vacant; in the other half several 
hundred members were bunched and jammed together 
as solidly as the bristles in a brush; and they also 
were waiting and expecting. Presently the Chair 
delivered this utterance : 

Stirring Times in Austria 21} 

44 Dr. Lecher has the floor." 

Then burst out such another wild and frantic and 
deafening clamor as has not been heard on this planet 
since the last time the Comanches surprised a white 
settlement at midnight. Yells from the Left, counter- 
yells from the Right, explosions of yells from all 
sides at once, and all the air sawed and pawed and 
clawed and cloven by a writhing confusion of gesturing 
arms and hands. Out of the midst of this thunder 
and turmoil and tempest rose Dr. Lecher, serene and 
collected, and the providential length of him enabled 
his head to show cut above it. He began his twelve- 
hour speech. At any rate, his lips could be seen to 
move, and that was evidence. On high sat the Presi- 
dent imploring order, with his long hands put together 
as in prayer, and his lips visibly but not hearably 
speaking. At intervals he grasped his bell and swung 
it up and down with vigor, adding its keen clamor to 
the storm weltering there below. 

Dr. Lecher went on with his pantomime speech, 
contented, untroubled. Here and there and now and 
then powerful voices burst above the din, and de- 
livered an ejaculation that was heard. Then the din 
ceased for a moment or two, and gave opportunity 
to hear what the Chair might answer ; then the noise 
broke out again. Apparently the President was being 
charged with all sorts of illegal exercises of power in 
the interest of the Right (the government side): 
among these, with arbitrarily closing an Order of 
Business before it was finished; with an unfair dis* 

214 Stirring Times in Austria 

tribution of the right to the floor; with refusal of 
the floor, upon quibble and protest, to members en- 
titled to it; with stopping a speaker's speech upon 
quibble and protest; and with other transgressions 
of the Rules of the House. One of the interrupters 
who made himself heard was a young fellow of slight 
build and neat dress, who stood a little apart from 
the solid crowd and leaned negligently, with folded 
arms and feet crossed, against a desk. Trim and 
handsome; strong face and thin features; black hair 
roughed up; parsimonious mustache ; resonant great 
voice, of good tone and pitch. It is Wolf, capable 
and hospitable with sword and pistol ; fighter of the 
recent duel with Count Badeni, the head of the 
government. He shot Badeni through the arm, and 
then walked over in the politest way and inspected 
his game, shook hands, expressed regret, and all 
that. Out of him came early this thundering peal, 
audible above the storm: 

11 I demand the floor. I wish to offer a mo- 

In the sudden lull which followed, the President 
answered, ' 4 Dr. Lecher has the floor." 

Wolf. " I move the close of the sitting! " 

P. '" Representative Lecher has the floor." 
[Stormy outburst from the Left — that is, the 

Wolf. M I demand the floor for the introduction 
of a formal motion. [Pause.] Mr. President, are 
you going to grant it, or not ? [Crash of approval 

Stirring Times in Austria 215 

from the Left.] I will keep on demanding the floor 
till I get it." 

P. ** I call Representative Wolf to order. Dr. 
Lecher has the floor." 

Wolf. M Mr. President, are you going to observe 
the Rules of this House?" [Tempest of applause 
and confused ejaculations from the Left — a boom 
and roar which long endured, and stopped all busi- 
ness for the time being.] 

Dr. von Pessler. " By the Rules motions are in 
order, and the Chair must put them to vote." 

For answer the President (who is a Pole — I make 
this remark in passing) began to jangle his bell with 
energy at the moment that that wild pandemonium 
of voices burst out again. 

Wolf (hearable above the storm). "Mr. Presi- 
dent, I demand the floor. We intend to find out, 
here and now, which is the hardest, a Pole' s shell or 
a German' s I " 

This brought out a perfect cyclone of satisfaction 
from the Left. In the midst of it some one again 
moved an adjournment. The President blandly 
answered that Dr. Lecher had the floor. Which was 
true; and he was speaking, too, calmly, earnestly, 
and argumentatively ; and the official stenographers 
had left their places and were at his elbows taking 
down his words, he leaning and orating into their ears 
— a most curious and interesting scene. 

Dr. von Pessler (to the Chair). " Do not drive 
us to extremities!" 

216 Stirring Times in Austria 

The tempest burst out again; yells of approval 
from the Left, catcalls, an ironical laughter from 
the Right. At this point a new and most effective 
noisemaker was pressed into service. Each desk has 
an extension, consisting of a removable board 
eighteen inches long, six wide, and a half-inch thick. 
A member pulled one of these out and began to 
belabor the top of his desk with it. Instantly other 
members followed suit, and perhaps you can imagine 
the result. Of all conceivable rackets it is the most 
ear-splitting, intolerable, and altogether fiendish. 

The persecuted President leaned back in his chair, 
closed his eyes, clasped his hands in his lap, and a 
look of pathetic resignation crept over his long face. 
It is the way a country schoolmaster used to look in 
days long past when he had refused his school a 
holiday and it had risen against him in ill-mannered 
riot and violence and insurrection. Twice a motion 
to adjourn had been offered — a motion always in 
order in other Houses, and doubtless so in this one 
also. The President had refused to put these motions. 
By consequence, he was not in a pleasant place now, 
and was having a right hard time. Votes upon 
motions, whether carried or defeated, could make 
endless delay, and postpone the Aasgleich to next 

In the midst of these sorrowful circumstances and 
this hurricane of yells and screams and satanic clatter 
of desk-boards, Representative Dr. Kronawetter un- 
feelingly reminds the Chair that a motion has been 

Stirring Times in Austria 217 

offered, and adds: " Say yes, or no! What do 
you sit there for, and give no answer? " 

P. M After I have given a speaker the floor, I 
cannot give it to another. After Dr. Lecher is 
through, I will put your motion." [Storm of in- 
dignation from the Left.] 

Wolf (to the Chair). "Thunder and lightning! 
look at the Rule governing the case ! ' ' 

Kronawetter. ** I move the close of the sitting! 
And I demand the ayes and noes! " 

Dr. Lecher. *' Mr. President, have I the floor? " 

P. " You have the floor." 

Wolf (to the Chair, in a stentorian voice which 
cleaves its way through the storm). "It is by such 
brutalities as these that you drive us to extremities ! 
Are you waiting till some one shall throw into your 
face the word that shall describe what you are bringing 
about ?* [Tempest of insulted fury from the Right. J 
Is that what you are waitijig for, old Gray head?" 
[Long-continued clatter of desk-boards from the Left, 
with shouts of " The vote ! the vote ! " An ironical 
shout from the Right, " Wolf is boss ! "] 

Wolt keeps on demanding the floor for his motion. 
At length — 

P. "I call Representative Wolf to order! Your 
conduct is unheard-of, sir! You forget that you are 
in a parliament; you must remember where you are, 
sir." [Applause from the Right. Dr. Lecher is still 

•That is, revolution. 

218 Stirring Times in Austria 

peacefully speaking, the stenographers listening at 
his lips.] 

Wolf (banging on his desk with his desk-board). 
44 I demand the floor for my motion ! I won't stand 
this trampling of the Rules under foot — no, not if 
I die for it ! I will never yield ! You have got to stop 
me by force. Have I the floor?" 

P. " Representative Wolf, what kind of behavior 
is this? I call you to order again. You should have 
some regard for your dignity." 

Dr. Lecher speaks on. Wolf turns upon him with 
an offensive innuendo. 

Dr. Lecher, '* Mr. Wolf, I beg you to refrain 
from that sort of suggestions." [Storm of hand- 
clapping from the Right.] 

This was applause from the enemy, for Lecher 
himself, like Wolf, was an Obstructionist. 

Wolf growls to Lecher: " You can scribble that 
applause in your album !" 

P. ' Once more I call Representative Wolf to 
order! Do not forget that you are a Representative, 

Wolf (slam-banging with his desk-board). *' I 
will force this matter ! Are you going to grant me 
the floor, or not?" 

And still the sergeant-at-arms did not appear. It 
was because there wasn't any. It is a curious thing, 
but the Chair has no effectual means of compelling 

After some more interruptions : 

Stirring Times in Austria 219 

Wolf (banging with his board). M I demand the 
floor. I will not yield !" 

P. "I have no recourse against Representative 
Wolf. In the presence of behavior like this it is to 
be regretted that such is the case." [A shout from 
the Right, M Throw him out!"] 

It is true, he had no effective recourse. He had 
an official called an M Ordner," whose help he could 
invoke in desperate cases, but apparently the Ordner 
is only a persuader, not a compeller. Apparently 
he is a sergeant-at-arms who is not loaded ; a good 
enough gun to look at, but not valuable for business. 

For another twenty or thirty minutes Wolf went 
on banging with his board and demanding his rights; 
then at last the weary President threatened to sum- 
mon the dread order-maker. But both his manner 
and his words were reluctant. Evidently it grieved 
him to have to resort to this dire extremity. He 
said to Wolf, M If this goes on, I shall feel obliged 
to summon the Ordner, and beg him to restore 
order in the House." 

Wolf. "I'd like to see you do it! Suppose you 
fetch in a few policemen, too ! [Great tumult.] 
Are you going to put my motion to adjourn, or 

Dr. Lecher continues his speech. Wolf accom- 
panies him with his board-clatter. 

The President despatches the Ordner, Dr. Lang 
(himself a deputy), on his order-restoring mission. 
Wolf, with his board uplifted for defence, confronts 

220 Stirring Times in Austria 

the Ordner with a remark which Boss Tweed might 
have translated into " Now let's see what you are 
going to do about it!" [Noise and tumult all over 
the House.] 

Wolf stands upon his rights, and says he will main- 
tain them till he is killed in his tracks. Then he re- 
sumes his banging, the President jangles his bell 
and begs for order, and the rest of the House aug- 
ments the racket the best it can. 

Wolf. " I require an adjournment, because I find 
myself personally threatened. [Laughter from the 
Right.] Not that I fear for myself; I am only 
anxious about what will happen to the man who 
touches me." 

The Ordner. '* I am not going to fight with you/' 

Nothing came of the efforts of the angel of peace, 
and he presently melted out of the scene and dis- 
appeared. Wolf went on with his noise and with his 
demands that he be granted the floor, resting his 
board at intervals to discharge criticisms and epithets 
at the Chair. Once he reminded the Chairman of 
his violated promise to grant him (Wolf) the floor, 
and said, " Whence I came, we call promise-breakers 
rascals!" And he advised the Chairman to take his 
conscience to bed with him and use it as a pillow. 
Another time he said that the Chair was making itself 
ridiculous before all Europe. In fact, some of Wolf 's 
language was almost unparliamentary. By-and-by he 
struck the idea of beating out a tune with his board. 
Later he decided to stop asking for the floor, and 

Stirring Times in Austria 221 

to confer it upon himself. And so he and Dr. 
Lecher now spoke at the same time, and mingled 
their speeches with the other noises, and nobody 
heard either of them. Wolf rested himself now and 
then from speech-making by reading, in his clarion 
voice, from a pamphlet. 

I will explain that Dr. Lecher was not making 
a twelve-hour speech for pastime, but for an im- 
portant purpose. It was the government's intention 
to push the Aitsgleich through its preliminary stages 
in this one sitting (for which it was the Order of the 
Day), and then by vote refer it to a select committee. 
It was the Majority's scheme — as charged by the 
Opposition — to drown debate upon the bill by pure 
noise — drown it out and stop it. The debate being 
thus ended, the vote upon the reference would follow 
— with victory for the government. But into the 
government's calculations had not entered the 
possibility of a single-barreled speech which should 
occupy the entire time-limit of the sitting, and also 
get itself delivered in spite of all the noise. Goliah 
was not expecting David. But David was there; 
and during twelve hours he tranquilly pulled statis- 
tical, historical, and argumentative pebbles out of his 
scrip and slung them at the giant; and when he was 
done he was victor, and the day was saved. 

In the English House an obstructionist has held 
the floor with Bible-readings and other outside 
matters ; but Dr. Lecher could not have that restful 
and recuperative privilege — he must confine himself 

222 Stirring Times in Austria 

strictly to the subject before the House. More than 
once, when the President could not hear him because 
of the general tumult, he sent persons to listen and 
report as to whether the orator was speaking to the 
subject or not. 

The subject was a peculiarly difficult one, and it 
would have troubled any other deputy to stick to it 
three hours without exhausting his ammunition, 
because it required a vast and intimate knowledge — 
detailed and particularized knowledge — of the com- 
mercial, railroading, financial, and international bank- 
ing relations existing between two great sovereignties, 
Hungary and the Empire. But Dr. Lecher is Presi- 
dent of the Board of Trade of his city of Brunn, and 
was master of the situation. His speech was not 
formally prepared. He had a few notes jotted down 
for his guidance; he had his facts in his head ; his 
heart was in his work; and for twelve hours he stood 
there, undisturbed by the clamor around him, and 
with grace and ease and confidence poured out the 
riches of his mind, in closely reasoned arguments, 
clothed in eloquent and faultless phrasing. 

He is a young man of thirty-seven. He is tall 
and well-proportioned, and has cultivated and forti- 
fied his muscle by mountain-climbing. If he were a 
little handsomer he would sufficiently reproduce for 
me the Chauncey Depew of the great New England 
dinner nights of some years ago; he has Depew's 
charm of manner and graces of language and 

Stirring Times in Austria 22j 

There was but one way for Dr. Lecher to hold the 
floor — he must stay on his legs. If he should sit 
down to rest a moment, the floor would be taken 
from him by the enemy in the Chair. When he had 
been talking three or four hours he himself proposed 
an adjournment, in order that he might get some rest 
from his wearing labors; but he limited his motion 
with the condition that if it was lost he should be 
allowed to continue his speech, and if it carried he 
should have the floor at the next sitting. Wolf was 
now appeased, and withdrew his own thousand-times 
offered motion, and Dr. Lecher's was voted upon — 
and lost. So he went on speaking. 

By one o'clock in the morning, excitement and 
noise-making had tired out nearly everybody but the 
orator. Gradually the seats of the Right underwent 
depopulation ; the occupants had slipped out to the 
refreshment-rooms to eat and drink, or to the cor- 
ridors to chat. Some one remarked that there was 
no longer a quorum present, and moved a call of the 
House. The Chair (Vice-President Dr. Kramarz) 
refused to put it to vote. There was a small dispute 
over the legality of this ruling, but the Chair held its 

The Left remained on the battle-field to support 
their champion. He went steadily on with his speech ; 
and always it was strong, virile, felicitous, and to 
the point. He was earning applause, and this enabled 
his party to turn that fact to account. Now and then 
they applauded him a couple of minutes on a stretch 

224 Stirring Times in Austria 

ar.d during that time he could stop speaking and rest 
his voice without having the floor taken from him. 

At a quarter to two a member of the Left de- 
manded that Dr. Lecher be allowed a recess for rest, 
and said that the Chairman was M heartless." Dr. 
Lecher himself asked for ten minutes. The Chair 
allowed him Ave. Before the time had run out Dr. 
Lecher was on his feet again. 

Wolf burst out again with a motion to adjourn. 
Refused by the Chair. Wolf said the whole par- 
liament wasn't worth a pinch of powder. The 
Chair retorted that that was true in a case where 
a single member was able to make all parliamentary 
business impossible. Dr. Lecher continued his 

The members of the Majority went out by detach- 
ments from time to time and took naps upon sofas 
in the reception-rooms ; and also refreshed them- 
selves with food and drink — in quantities nearly 
unbelievable — but the Minority staid loyally by 
their champion. Some distinguished deputies of the 
Majority staid by him, too, compelled thereto by 
admiration of his great performance. When a man 
has been speaking eight hours, is it conceivable that 
he can still be interesting, still fascinating? When 
Dr. Lecher had been speaking eight hours he was 
still compactly surrounded by friends who would not 
leave him and by foes (of all parties) who could not; 
and all hung enchanted and wondering upon his 
words, and all testified their admiration with constant 

Stirring Times in Austria 225 

and cordial outbursts of applause. Surely this was 
a triumph without precedent in history. 

During the twelve-hour effort friends brought to 
the orator three glasses of wine, four cups of coffee, 
and one glass of beer — a most stingy re-enforce- 
ment of his wasting tissues, but the hostile Chaif 
would permit no addition to it. But no matter, the 
Chair could not beat that man. He was a garrison 
holding a fort, and was not to be starved out. 

When he had been speaking eight hours his pulse 
was 72 ; when he had spoken twelve, it was 100. 

He finished his long speech in these terms, as 
nearly as a permissibly free translation can convey 

11 1 will now hasten to close my examination of 
the subject. I conceive that we of the Left have 
made it clear to the honorable gentlemen of the other 
side of the House that we are stirred by no in- 
temperate enthusiasm for this measure in its present 
shape. . . . 

41 What we require, and shall fight for with all 
lawful weapons, is a formal, comprehensive, and 
definitive solution and settlement of these vexed 
matters. We desire the restoration of the earlier 
condition of things; the cancellation of all this in- 
capable government's pernicious trades with Hun- 
gary; and then — release from the sorry burden of 
the Badeni ministry ! 

M I voice the hope — I know not if it will be ful- 
filled — I voice the deep and sincere and patriotic 

226 Stirring Times in Austria 

hope that the committee into whose hands this bill 
will eventually be committed will take its stand upon 
high ground, and will return the Ausgleich-Pro- 
visorium to this House in a form which shall make 
it the protector and promoter alike of the great 
interests involved and of the honor of our father- 
land/' After a pause, turning toward the govern- 
ment benches: " But in any case, gentlemen of the 
Majority, make sure of this: henceforth, as before, 
you will find us at our post. The Germans of Austria 
will neither surrender nor die !" 

Then burst a storm of applause which rose and 
fell, rose and fell, burst out again and again and 
again, explosion after explosion, hurricane after 
hurricane, with no apparent promise of ever coming 
to an end ; and meantime the whole Left was surging 
and weltering about the champion, all bent upon 
wringing his hand and congratulating him and glori- 
fying him. 

Finally he got away, and went home and ate five 
loaves and twelve baskets of fishes, read the morning 
papers, slept three hours, took a short drive, then 
returned to the House and sat out the rest of the 
thirty-three-hour session. 

To merely stand up in one spot twelve hours on 
a stretch is a feat which very few men could achieve ; 
to add to the task the utterance of a hundred thousand 
words would be beyond the possibilities of the most 
of those few; to superimpose the requirement that 
the words should be put into the form of a compact, 

Stirring Times in Austria 227 

coherent, and symmetrical oration would probably 
rule out the rest of the few, bar Dr. Lecher. 


In consequence of Dr. Lecher's twelve-hour speech 
and the other obstructions furnished by the Minority, 
the famous thirty-three-hour sitting of the House 
accomplished nothing. The government side had 
made a supreme effort, assisting itself with all the 
helps at hand, both lawful and unlawful, yet had 
failed to get the Ausgleich into the hands of a com- 
mittee. This was a severe defeat. The Right was 
mortified, the Left jubilant. 

Parliament was adjourned for a week — to let the 
members cool off, perhaps — a sacrifice of precious 
time, for but two months remained in which to carry 
the all-important Ausgleich to a consummation. 

If I have reported the behavior of the House in- 
telligibly, the reader has been surprised at it, and has 
wondered whence these law-makers come and what 
they are made of; and he has probably supposed 
that the conduct exhibited at the Long Sitting was 
far out of the common, and due to special excite- 
ment and irritation. As to the make-up of the 
House, it is this : the deputies come from all the 
walks of life and from all the grades of society. 
There are princes, counts, barons, priests, peasants, 
mechanics, laborers, lawyers, judges, physicians, 
professors, merchants, bankers, shopkeepers. They 
are religious men, they are earnest, sincere, de- 
u # • 

228 Stirring Times in Austria 

voted, and they hate the Jews. The title of 
Doctor is so common in the House that one may 
almost say that the deputy who does not bear it is 
by that reason conspicuous. I am assured that it is 
not a self-granted title, and not an honorary one, but 
an earned one ; that in Austria it is very seldom con- 
ferred as a mere compliment; that in Austria the 
degrees of Doctor of Music, Doctor of Philosophy, 
and so on, are not conferred by the seats of learning; 
and so, when an Austrian is called Doctor it means 
that he is either a lawyer or a physician, and that 
he is not a self-educated man, but is college-bred, 
and has been diplomaed for merit. 

That answers the question of the constitution of 
the House. Now as to the House's curious manners. 
The manners exhibited by this convention of Doctors 
were not at that time being tried as a wholly new ex- 
periment. I will go back to a previous sitting in 
order to show that the deputies had already had some 

There had been an incident. The dignity of the 
House had been wounded by improprieties indulged 
in in its presence by a couple of the members. This 
matter was placed in the hands of a committee to 
determine where the guilt lay, and the degree of it, 
and also to suggest the punishment. The chairman 
of the committee brought in his report. By this it 
appeared that, in the course of a speech, Deputy 
Schrammel said that religion had no proper place 
in the public schools — it was a private matter. 

Stirring Times in Austria 229 

Whereupon Deputy Gregorig shouted, M How about 
free love !" 

To this, Deputy Iro flung out this retort: " Soda- 
water at the Wimberger ! ' ' 

This appeared to deeply offend Deputy Gregorig, 
who shouted back at Iro, " You cowardly blather- 
skite, say that again !" 

The committee had sat three hours. Gregorig 
had apologized ; Iro had explained. Iro explained 
that he didn't say anything about soda-water at the 
Wimberger. He explained in writing, and was very 
explicit: " I declare upon my word of honor that I 
did not say the words attributed to me." 

Unhappily for his word of honor it was proved by 
the official stenographers and by the testimony of 
several deputies that he did say them. 

The committee did not officially know why the 
apparently inconsequential reference to soda-water 
at the Wimberger should move Deputy Gregorig to 
call the utterer of it a cowardly blatherskite ; still, 
after proper deliberation, it was of the opinion that 
the House ought to formally censure the whole busi- 
ness. This verdict seems to have been regarded as 
sharply severe. I think so because Deputy Dr. 
Lueger, Burgermeister of Vienna, felt it a duty to 
soften the blow to his friend Gregorig by showing 
that the soda-water remark was not so innocuous as 
it might look; that indeed Gregorig's tough retort 
was justifiable — and he proceeded to explain why. 
He read a number of scandalous post-cards which 

230 Stirring Times in Austria 

he intimated had proceeded from Iro, as indicated 
by the handwriting, though they were anonymous. 
Some of them were posted to Gregorig at his place 
of business, and could have been read by all his 
subordinates; the others were posted to Gregorig' s 
wife. Lueger did not say — but everybody knew 
— that the cards referred to a matter of town gossip 
which made Mr. Gregorig a chief actor in a tavern 
scene where siphon squirting played a prominent and 
humorous part, and wherein women had a share. 

There were several of the cards ; more than several, 
in fact; no fewer than five were sent in one day. 
Dr. Lueger read some of them, and described others. 
Some of them had pictures on them ; one a picture 
of a hog with a monstrous snout, and beside it 
a squirting soda-siphon ; below it some sarcastic 

Gregorig deals in shirts, cravats, etc. One of the 
cards bore these words: '* Much respected Deputy 
and collar-sewer — or stealer" 

Another: " Hurrah for the Christian-Social work 
among the women-assemblages ! Hurrah for the 
soda-squirter !" Comment by Dr. Lueger: "I 
cannot venture to read the rest of that one, nor 
the signature, either." 

Another: " Would you mind telling me if . . ." 

Comment by Dr. Lueger: "The rest of it is 
not properly readable." 

To Deputy Gregorig' s wife: "Much respected 
Madam Gregorig, — The undersigned desires an 

Stirring Times in Austria 23 1 

invitation to the next soda-squirt." Comment by 
Dr. Lueger: '* Neither the rest of the card nor the 
signature can I venture to read to the House, so 
vulgar are they." 

The purpose of this card — to expose Gregorig 
to his family — was repeated in others of these 
anonymous missives. 

The House, by vote, censured the two improper 

This may have had a modifying effect upon the 
phraseology of the membership for awhile, and upon 
its general exuberance also, but it was not for long. 
As has been seen, it had become lively once more 
on the night of the Long Sitting. At the next 
sitting after the long one there was certainly no lack 
of liveliness. The President was persistently ignor- 
ing the Rules of the House in the interest of the 
government side, and the Minority were in an 
unappeasable fury about it. The ceaseless din 
and uproar, the shouting and stamping and desk- 
banging, were deafening, but through it all burst 
voices now and then that made themselves heard. 
Some of the remarks were of a very candid sort, 
and I believe that if they had been uttered in 
our House of Representatives they would have at- 
tracted attention. I will insert some samples here. 
Not in their order, but selected on their merits: 

Dr. Mayreder (to the President). *' You have 
lied ! You conceded the floor to me ; make it good, 
or you have lied ! ' ' 

232 Stirring Times in Austria 

Mr. Gldckner (to the President). "Leave! Get 

Wolf (indicating the President). " There sits a 
man to whom a certain title belongs !" 

Unto Wolf, who is continuously reading, in a 
powerful voice, from a newspaper, arrive these per- 
sonal remarks from the Majority: "Oh, shut your 
mouth!" "Put him out!" "Out with him!" 
Wolf stops reading a moment to shout at Dr. Lueger, 
who has the floor, but cannot get a hearing, " Please, 
Betrayer of the People, begin !" 

Dr. Lueger. "Meine Herren — " ["Oho!" and 

Wolf. "Tliats the holy light of the Christian 
Socialists !" 

Mr. Kletzenbauer (Christian Socialist). " Dam 
— nation ! are you ever going to quiet down?" 

Wolf discharges a galling remark at Mr. Wohl- 

Wohlmeyer (responding). " You Jew, you !" 

There is a moment's lull, and Dr. Lueger begins 
his speech. Graceful, handsome man, with winning 
manners and attractive bearing, a bright and easy 
speaker, and is said to know how to trim his political 
sails to catch any favoring wind that blows. He 
manages to say a few words, then the tempest over- 
whelms him again. 

Wolf stops reading his paper a moment to say a 
drastic thing about Lueger and his Christian-Social 
pieties, which sets the C. S.'s in a sort of frenzy. 

Stirring Times in Austria 233 

Mr. Vielohlawek. " You leave the Christian 
Socialists alone, you word-of-honor-breaker ! Ob- 
struct all you want to, but you leave them alone! 
You've no business in this House; you belong in a 
gin-mill !" 

Mr. Prochazka. "In a lunatic-asylum, you 
mean I" 

Vielohlawek. " It's a pity that such a man should 
be leader of the Germans ; he disgraces the German 
name !" 

Dr. Scheicher. " It's a shame that the like of him 
should insult us." 

Strohbach (to Wolf). "Contemptible cub — we 
will bounce thee out of this!" [It is inferable that 
the " thee " is not intended to indicate affection this 
time, but to re-enforce and emphasize Mr. Stroh- 
bach's scorn.] 

Dr. Scheicher. M His insults are of no consequence. 
He wants his ears boxed." 

Dr. Lueger (to Wolf). "You'd better worry a 
trifle over your Iro's word of honor. You are 
behaving like a street arab." 

Dr. Scheicher. " It's infamous!" 

Dr. Lueger. "And these shameless creatures are 
the leaders of the German People's Party!" 

Meantime Wolf goes whooping along with his 
newspaper-readings in great contentment. 

Dr. Pattai. " Shut up ! Shut up ! Shut up! You 
haven't the floor !" 

Strohbach. " The miserable cub !" 

234 Stirring Times in Austria 

Dr. Lueger (to Wolf, raising his voice strenuously 
above the storm). *'You are a wholly honorless 
street brat!" [A voice, "Fire the rapscallion out!" 
But Wolf's soul goes marching noisily on, just the 

ScJionerer (vast and muscular, and endowed with 
the most powerful voice in the Reichsrath ; comes 
ploughing down through the standing crowds, red, 
and choking with anger ; halts before Deputy Wohl- 
meyer, grabs a rule and smashes it with a blow upon 
a desk, threatens Wohlmeyer's face with his fist, 
and bellows out some personalities, and a promise). 
*' Only you wait — we'll teach you!" [A whirl- 
wind of offensive retorts assails him from the band 
of meek and humble Christian Socialists compacted 
around their leader, that distinguished religious ex- 
pert, Dr. Lueger, Biirgermeister of Vienna. Our 
breath comes in excited gasps now, and we are 
full of hope. We imagine that we are back fifty 
years ago in the Arkansas Legislature, and we 
think we know what is going to happen, and are 
glad we came, and glad we are up in the gallery, 
out of the way, where we can see the whole 
thing and yet not have to supply any of the 
material for the inquest. However, as it turns 
out, our confidence is abused, our hopes are mis- 

Dr. Pattai (wildly excited). "You quiet down, or 
we shall turn ourselves loose ! There will be a cuffing 
of ears I ' ' 

Stirring Times in Austria 235 

Prochazka (in a fury). "No — not ear-boxing, 
but genuine blotvs ! " 

Vielohlazvek. * 4 1 would rather take my hat off to 
a Jew than to Wolf ! ' ' 

Strohbach (to Wolf). " Jew- flunky ! Here we 
have been fighting the Jews for ten years, and now 
you are helping them to power again. How much 
do you get for it?" 

Holansky. " What he wants is a strait-jacket \" 

Wolf continues his readings. It is a market re- 
port now. 

Remark flung across the House to Schonerer: 

Die Grossmntter auf dent Mistkaufen erzeugt 
worden ! ' ' 

It will be judicious not to translate that. Its flavor 
is pretty high, in any case, but it becomes particularly 
gamey when you remember that the first gallery was 
well stocked with ladies. 

Apparently it was a great hit. It fetched thunders 
of joyous enthusiasm out of the Christian Socialists, 
and in their rapture they flung biting epithets with 
wasteful liberality at specially detested members of 
the Opposition ; among others, this one at Schonerer : 
" Bordellin der Krugerstrasse ! ' Then they added 
these words, which they whooped, howled, and also 
even sang, in a deep-voiced chorus: " Schmul Leeb 
Koh?t ! Schmul Leeb KoJin ! Schmul Leeb Kohn ! ' 
and made it splendidly audible above the banging of 
desk-boards and the rest of the roaring cyclone of 
fiendish noises. [A gallery witticism comes flitting 

236 Stirring Times in Austria 

by from mouth to mouth around the great curve: 
11 The swan-song of Austrian representative gov- 
ernment!" You can note its progress by the 
applausive smiles and nods it gets as it skims 

Kletze7ibaner. " Holofernes, where is Judith?" 
[Storm of laughter.] 

Gregorig (the shirt-merchant). "This Wolf- 
Theater is costing 6,000 florins !" 

Wo /f (with sweetness). " Notice him, gentlemen; 
it is Mr. Gregorig." [Laughter.] 

Vielohlawek (to Wolf). " You Judas!" 

Schneider. ' * Brothel-Knight ! ' ' 

Chorus of Voices. " East-German offal-tub !" 

And so the war of epithets crashes along, with 
never-diminishing energy, for a couple of hours. 

The ladies in the gallery were learning. That was 
well ; for by-and-by ladies will form a part of the 
membership of all the legislatures in the world ; as 
soon as they can prove competency they will be 
admitted. At present, men only are competent to 
legislate; therefore they look down upon women, 
and would feel degraded if they had to have them 
for colleagues in their high calling. 

Wolf is yelling another market report now. 

Gessman. "Shut up, infamous louse-brat!" 

During a momentary lull Dr. Lueger gets a hearing 
for three sentences of his speech. They demand 
and require that the President shall suppress the four 
noisiest members of the Opposition. 

Stirring Times in Austria 237 

Wolf (with a that-settles-it toss of the head). 
M The shifty trickster of Vienna has spoken !" 

Iro belonged to Schonerer's party. The word-of- 
honor incident has given it a new name. Gregorig 
is a Christian Socialist, and hero of the post-cards 
and the Wimberger soda-squirting incident. He 
stands vast and conspicuous, and conceited and self- 
satisfied, and roosterish and inconsequential, af 
Lueger's elbow, and is proud and cocky to be in 
such great company. He looks very well indeed ; 
really majestic, and aware of it. He crows out his 
little empty remark, now and then, and looks as 
pleased as if he had been delivered of the Ausgleick. 
Indeed, he does look notably fine. He wears almost 
the only dress vest on the floor ; it exposes a con- 
tinental spread of white shirt-front; his hands are 
posed at ease in the lips of his trousers pockets; his 
head is tilted back complacently ; he is attitudinizing ; 
he is playing to the gallery. However, they are all 
doing that. It is curious to see. Men who only 
vote, and can't make speeches, and don't know how 
to invent witty ejaculations, wander about the vacated 
parts of the floor, and stop in a good place and strike 
attitudes — attitudes suggestive of weighty thought, 
mostly — and glance furtively up at the galleries to 
see how it works; or a couple will come together 
and shake hands in an artificial way, and laugh a gay 
manufactured laugh, and do some constrained and 
self-conscious attitudinizing; and they steal glances 

at the galleries to see if they are getting notice. 

238 Stirring Times in Austria 

It is like a scene on the stage — by-play by minor 
actors at the back while the stars do the great work 
at the front. Even Count Badeni attitudinizes for 
a moment; strikes a reflective Napoleonic attitude 
of fine picturesqueness — but soon thinks better of 
it and desists. There are two who do not attitudin- 
ize — poor harried and insulted President Abraham- 
owicz, who seems wholly miserable, and can find no 
way to put in the dreary time but by swinging hi^ 
bell and by discharging occasional remarks which 
nobody can hear; and a resigned and patient priest, 
who sits lonely in a great vacancy on Majority 
territory and munches an apple. 

Schonerer uplifts his fog-horn of a voice and 
shakes the roof with an insult discharged at the 

Dr. Lueger. " The Honorless Party would better 
keep still here ! ' ' 

Gregorig (the echo, swelling out his shirt-front). 
" Yes, keep quiet, pimp !" 

Schonerer (to Lueger). ' ' Political mountebank ! ' ! 

Prochazka (to Schonerer). M Drunken clown !" 

During the final hour of the sitting many happy 
phrases were distributed through the proceedings. 
Among them were these — and they are strikingly 
good ones : 

Blatherskite ! 

Blackguard ! 

Scoundrel ! 

Brothel-daddy ! 

Stirring Times in Austria 239 

This last was the contribution of Dr. Gessman, 
and gave great satisfaction. And deservedly. It 
seems to me that it was one of the most sparkling 
things that was said during the whole evening. 

At half-past two in the morning the House ad- 
journed. The victory was with the Opposition. 
No; not quite that. The effective part of it was 
snatched away from them by an unlawful exercise 
of Presidential force — another contribution toward 
driving the mistreated Minority out of their minds. 

At other sittings of the parliament, gentlemen of 
the Opposition, shaking their fists toward the Presi- 
dent, addressed him as '* Polish Dog." At one 
sitting an angry deputy turned upon a colleague 

and shouted, 

•« { f » 

You must try to imagine what it was. If I should 
offer it even in the original it would probably not get 
by the Magazine editor's blue pencil; to offer a 
translation would be to waste my ink, of course. 
This remark was frankly printed in its entirety by 
one of the Vienna dailies, but the others disguised 
the toughest half of it with stars. 

If the reader will go back over this chapter and 
gather its array of extraordinary epithets into a bunch 
and examine them, he will marvel at two things: 
how this convention of gentlemen could consent to 
use such gross terms ; and why the users were 
allowed to get out of the place alive. There is no 
way to understand this strange situation. If every 

240 Stirring runes in Austria 

man in the House were a professional blackguard, 
and had his home in a sailor boarding-house, one 
could still not understand it; for although that sort 
do use such terms, they never take them. These men 
are not professional blackguards; they are mainly 
gentlemen, and educated; yet they use the terms, 
and take them, too. They really seem to attach no 
consequence to them. One cannot say that they act 
like schoolboys; for that is only almost true, not 
entirely. Schoolboys blackguard each other fiercely, 
and by the hour, and one would think that nothing 
would ever come of it but noise; but that would 
be a mistake. Up to a certain limit the result would 
be noise only, but that limit overstepped, trouble 
would follow right away. There are certain phrases 
— phrases of a peculiar character — phrases of the 
nature of that reference to Schonerer's grandmother, 
for instance, which not even the most spiritless school- 
boy in the English-speaking world would allow to 
pass unavenged. One difference between school- 
boys and the law-makers of the Reichsrath seems to 
be that the law-makers have no limit, no danger-line. 
Apparently they may call each other what they please, 
and go home unmutilated. 

Now, in fact, they did have a scuffle on two 
occasions, but it was not on account of names 
called. There has been no scuffle where that was 
the cause. 

It is not to be inferred that the House lacks a sense 
of honor because it lacks delicacy. That would be 

stirring Times in Austria 241 

an error. Iro was caught in a lie, and it profoundly 
disgraced him. The House cut him, turned its back 
upon him. He resigned his seat ; otherwise he would 
have been expelled. But it was lenient with Gregorig, 
who had called Iro a cowardly blatherskite in debate. 
It merely went through the form of mildly censuring 
him. That did not trouble Gregorig. 

The Viennese say of themselves that they are an 
easy-going, pleasure-loving community, making the 
best of life, and not taking it very seriously. Never- 
theless, they are grieved about the ways of their parlia- 
ment, and say quite frankly that they are ashamed. 
They claim that the low condition of the parliament's 
manners is new, not old. A gentleman who was at 
the head of the government twenty years ago con- 
firms this, and says that in his time the parliament 
was orderly and well-behaved. An English gentle- 
man of long residence here endorses this, and says 
that a low order of politicians originated the present 
forms of questionable speech on the stump some 
years ago, and imported them into the parliament.* 
However, some day there will be a Minister of 
Etiquette and a sergeant-at-arms, and then things 
will go better. I mean if parliament and the Con- 
stitution survive the present storm. 

* In that gracious bygone time when a mild and good-tempered 
spirit was the atmosphere of our House, when the manner of our speak- 
ers was studiously formal and academic, and the storms and explosions 
of to-day were wholly unknown," etc. — l^ranslation of the opening 
remark of an editorial in this morning' s Neue Freie Presse, December 


242 Stirring Times in Austria 


During the whole of November things went from 
bad to worse. The all-important A usgleich remained 
hard aground, and could not be sparred off. Badeni's 
government could not withdraw the Language Ordi- 
nance and keep its majority, and the Opposition 
could not be placated on easier terms. One night, 
while the customary pandemonium was crashing 
and thundering along at its best, a fight broke out. 
It was a surging, struggling, shoulder-to-shoulder 
scramble. A great many blows were struck. Twice 
Schonerer lifted one of the heavy ministerial fauteuils 
— some say with one hand — and threatened members 
of the Majority with it, but it was wrenched away 
from him ; a member hammered Wolf over the head 
with the President's bell, and another member choked 
him ; a professor was flung down and belabored with 
fists and choked ; he held up an open penknife as a 
defence against the blows; it was snatched from him 
and flung to a distance; it hit a peaceful Christian 
Socialist who wasn't doing anything, and brought 
blood from his hand. This was the only blood 
drawn. The men who got hammered and choked 
looked sound and well next day. The fists and the 
bell were not properly handled, or better results would 
have been apparent. I am quite sure that the fighters 
were not in earnest. 

On Thanksgiving day the sitting was a history- 
making one. On that day the harried, bedeviled, 
and despairing government went insane. In order 

Stirring Times in Austria 243 

to free itself from the thraldom of the Opposition it 
committed this curiously juvenile crime : it moved an 
important change of the Rules of the House, forbade 
debate upon the motion, put it to a stand-up vote 
instead of ayes and noes, and then gravely claimed 
that it had been adopted ; whereas, to even the dullest 
witness — if I without immodesty may pretend to- 
that place — it was plain that nothing legitimately 
to be called a vote had been taken at all. 

I think that Saltpeter never uttered a truer thing 
than when he said, " Whom the gods would destroy 
they first make mad." 

Evidently the government's mind was tottering 
when this bald insult to the House was the best way 
it could contrive for getting out of the frying-pan. 

The episode would have been funny if the matter 
at stake had been a trifle ; but in the circumstances 
it was pathetic. The usual storm was raging in the 
House. As usual, many of the Majority and the 
most of the Minority were standing up — to have a 
better chance to exchange epithets and make other 
noises. Into this storm Count Falkenhayn entered, 
with his paper in his hand; and at once there was a 
rush to get near him and hear him read his motion. 
In a moment he was walled in by listeners. The 
several clauses of his motion were loudly applauded 
by these allies, and as loudly disapplauded — if I 
may invent a word — by such of the Opposition as 
could hear his voice. When he took his seat the 
President promptly put the motion — persons desiring 

244 Stirring Times in Austria 

to vote in the affirmative, stand up! The House 
was already standing up ; had been standing for an 
hour; and before a third of it had found out what 
the President had been saying, he had proclaimed 
the adoption of the motion ! And only a few heard 
that In fact, when that House is legislating you 
can't tell it from artillery-practice. 

You will realize what a happy idea it was to 
side-track the lawful ayes and noes and substitute 
a stand-up vote by this fact: that a little later, 
when a deputation of deputies waited upon the 
President and asked him if he was actually will- 
ing to claim that that measure had been passed, 
he answered, "Yes — and unanimously." It shows 
that in effect the whole house was on its feet 
when that trick was sprung. 

The ** Lex Falkenhayn," thus strangely born, 
gave the President power to suspend for three days 
any deputy who should continue to be disorderly 
after being called to order twice, and it also placed 
at his disposal such force as might be necessary to 
make the suspension effective. So the House had a 
sergeant-at-arms at last, and a more formidable one, 
as to power, than any other legislature in Christen- 
dom had ever possessed. The Lex Falkenhayn also 
gave the House itself authority to suspend members 
for tJiirty days. 

On these terms the Ausgleich could be put through 
in an hour — apparently. The Opposition would 
have to sit meek and quiet, and stop obstructing, or 

Stirring Times in Austria 241 

be turned into the street, deputy after deputy, leaving 
the Majority an unvexed field for its work. 

Certainly the thing looked well. The government 
was out of the frying-pan at last. It congratulated 
itself, and was almost girlishly happy. Its stock rose 
suddenly from less than nothing to a premium. It 
confessed to itself, with pride, that its Lex Falkenhayn 
was a master-stroke — a work of genius. 

However, there were doubters; men who were 
troubled, and believed that a grave mistake had been 
made. It might be that the Opposition was crushed, 
and profitably for the country, too; but the manner 
of it — the manner of it ! That was the serious part. 
It could have far-reaching results; results whose 
gravity might transcend all guessing. It might be 
the initial step toward a return to government by 
force, a restoration of the irresponsible methods of 
obsolete times. 

There were no vacant seats in the galleries next 
day. In fact, standing-room outside the building 
was at a premium. There were crowds there, and a 
glittering array of helmeted and brass-buttoned 
police, on foot and on horseback, to keep them from 
getting too much excited. No one could guess what 
was going to happen, but every one felt that some- 
thing was going to happen, and hoped he might have 
a chance to see it, or at least get the news of it while 
it was fresh. 

At noon the House was empty — for I do not 
count myself. Half an hour later the two galleries 

246 Stirring Times in Austria 


were solidly packed, the floor still empty. Another 
half -hour later Wolf entered and passed to his place; 
then other deputies began to stream in, among them 
many forms and faces grown familiar of late. By 
one o'clock the membership was present in full force. 
A band of Socialists stood grouped against the 
ministerial desks, in the shadow of the Presidential 
tribune. It was observable that these official strong- 
holds were now protected against rushes by bolted 
gates, and that these were in ward of servants 
wearing the House's livery. Also the removable 
desk-boards had been taken away, and nothing left 
for disorderly members to slat with. 

There was a pervading, anxious hush — at least 
what stood very well for a hush in that house. It 
was believed by many that the Opposition was cowed, 
and that there would be no more obstruction, no 
more noise. That was an error. 

Presently the President entered by the distant door 
to the right, followed by Vice-President Fuchs, and 
the two took their way down past the Polish benches 
toward the tribune. Instantly the customary storm 
of noises burst out, and rose higher and higher, and 
wilder and wilder, and really seemed to surpass any- 
thing that had gone before it in that place. The 
President took his seat, and begged for order, but no 
one could hear him. His lips moved — one could 
see that; he bowed his body forward appealingly, 
and spread his great hand eloquently over his breast 
— one could see that; but as concerned his uttered 

Stirring Times in Austria 247 

words, he probably could not hear them himself. 
Below him was that crowd of two dozen Socialists 
glaring up at him, shaking their fists at him, roaring 
imprecations and insulting epithets at him. This 
went on for some time. Suddenly the Socialists 
burst through the gates and stormed up through the 
ministerial benches, and a man in a red cravat reached 
up and snatched the documents that lay on the Presi- 
dent's desk and flung them abroad. The next 
moment he and his allies were struggling and fighting 
with the half-dozen uniformed servants who were 
there to protect the new gates. Meantime a detail 
of Socialists had swarmed up the side steps and over- 
flowed the President and the Vice, and were crowd- 
ing and shouldering and shoving them out of the 
place. They crowded them out, and down the steps 
and across the House, past the Polish benches ; and 
all about them swarmed hostile Poles and Czechs, 
who resisted them. One could see fists go up and 
come down, with other signs and shows of a heady 
fight ; then the President and the Vice disappeared 
through the door of entrance, and the victorious 
Socialists turned and marched back, mounted the 
tribune, flung the President's bell and his remaining 
papers abroad, and then stood there in a compact 
little crowd, eleven strong, and held the place as if it 
were a fortress. Their friends on the floor were in 
a frenzy of triumph, and manifested it in their 
deafening way. The whole House was on its feet, 
amazed and wondering. 

248 Stirring Times in Austria 

It was an astonishing situation, and imposingly 
dramatic. Nobody had looked for this. The un- 
expected had happened. What next? But there 
can be no next; the play is over; the grand climax 
is reached ; the possibilities are exhausted : ring 
down the curtain. 

Not yet. That distant door opens again. And 
now we see what history will be talking of five 
centuries hence : a uniformed and helmeted battalion 
of bronzed and stalwart men marching in double file 
down the floor of the House — a free parliament 
profaned by an invasion of brute force 

It was an odious spectacle — odious and awful. 
For one moment it was an unbelievable thing — a 
thing beyond all credibility; it must be a delusion, a 
dream, a nightmare. But no, it was real — pitifully 
real, shamefully real, hideously real. These sixty 
policemen had been soldiers, and they went at their 
work with the cold unsentimentality of their trade. 
They ascended the steps of the tribune, laid their 
hands upon the inviolable persons of the represent- 
atives of a nation, and dragged and tugged and 
hauled them down the steps and out at the door ; then 
ranged themselves in stately military array in front 
of the ministerial estrade, and so stood. 

It was a tremendous episode. The memory of it 
will outlast all the thrones that exist to-day. In the 
whole history of free parliaments the like of it had 
been seen but three times before. It takes its im- 
posing place among the world's unforgettable things. 

Stirring Times in Austria 249 

I think that in my lifetime I have not twice seen 
abiding history made before my eyes, but I know 
that I have seen it once. 

Some of the results of this wild freak followed 
instantly. The Badeni government came down with 
a crash; there was a popular outbreak or two in 
Vienna; there were three or four days of furious 
rioting in Prague, followed by the establishing there 
of martial law; the Jews and Germans were harried 
and plundered, and their houses destroyed; in other 
Bohemian towns there was rioting — in some cases 
the Germans being the rioters, in others the Czechs 
— and in all cases the Jew had to roast, no matter 
which side he was on. We are well along in 
December now;* the new Minister- President has not 
been able to patch up a peace among the warring 
factions of the parliament, therefore there is no use 
in calling it together again for the present; public 
opinion believes that parliamentary government and 
the Constitution are actually threatened with ex- 
tinction, and that the permanency of the monarchy 
itself is a not absolutely certain thing ! 

Yes, the Lex Falkenhayn was a great invention, 
and did what was claimed for it — it got the govern- 
ment out of the frying-pan. 

• It is the 9th.— M. T. 


COME months ago I published a magazine article 
**s descriptive of a remarkable scene in the 
Imperial Parliament in Vienna. Since then I have 
received from Jews in America several letters of in- 
quiry. They were difficult letters to answer, for 
they were not very definite. But at last I received a 
definite one. It is from a lawyer, and he really asks 
the questions which the other writers probably be- 
lieved they were asking. By help of this text I will 
do the best I can to publicly answer this cor- 
respondent, and also the others — at the same time 
apologizing for having failed to reply privately. 
The lawyer's letter reads as follows: 

I have read " Stirring Times in Austria." One point in particular 
is of vital import to not a few thousand people, including myself, being 
a point about which I have often wanted to address a question to some 
disinterested person. The show of military force in the Austrian Parlia- 
ment, which precipitated the riots, was not introduced by any Jew. No 
Jew was a member of that body. No Jewish question was involved in 
the Ausgleich or in the language proposition. No Jew was insulting 
anybody. In short, no Jew was doing any mischief toward anybody 
whatsoever. In fact, the Jews were the only ones of the nineteen dif- 
ferent races in Austria which did not have a party — they are absolutely 
non-participants. Yet in your article you say that in the rioting which 
followed, all classes of people were unanimous only on one thing, viz., 


Concerning the Jews 25 J 

/n being against the Jews. Now will you kindly tell me why, in your 
judgment, the Jews have thus ever been, and are even now, in these 
days of supposed intelligence, the butt of baseless, vicious animosities? 
I dare say that for centuries there has been no more quiet, undisturbing, 
and well-behaving citizens, as a class, than that same Jew. It seems to 
me that ignorance and fanaticism cannot alone account for these horri- 
ble and unjust persecutions. 

Tell me, therefore, from your vantage-point of cold view, what in 
your mind is the cause. Can American Jews do anything to correct it 
either in America or abroad? Will it ever come to an end? Will a 
Jew be permitted to live honestly, decently, and peaceably like the rest 
of mankind? What has become of the golden rule? 

I will begin by saying that if I thought mysel f 
prej'udi ced a gainst the Jew, I should hold it fairest 
taicave this subject to a person not crippled in that 
way. But I think I have no such prejudice. A few 
years ago a Jew observed to me that there was no 
uncourteous reference to his people in my books, 
and asked how it happened. It happened because 
the disposition was lacking. I am 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. _J[_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. Ih aye no special regard for Satan; 
but I can at least claim that I have no prejudice 
against him. It may even be that I lean a little his 
way, on account of his not having a fair show. All 
religions issue bibles against him, and say the most 
injurious things about him, but we never hear his 
side. We have none but the evidence for the prose- 

252 Concerning the Jews 

cution, and yet we have rendered the verdict. To 
my mind, this is irregular. It is un-English; it is 
un-American ; it is French. Without this pre- 
cedent Drevfus could not have been condemned. 
Of course Satan has some kind of a case, it goes 
without saying. It may be a poor one, but that is 
nothing; that can be said about any of us. As soon 
as I can get at the facts I will undertake his re- 
habilitation myself, if I can find an unpolitic pub- 
lisher. It is a thing which we ought to be willing to 
do for any one who is under a cloud. We may not 
pay him reverence, for that would be indiscreet, but 
we can at least respect his talents. A person who 
has for untold centuries maintained the imposing 
position of spiritual head of four-fifths of the human 
race, and political head of the whole of it, must be 
granted the possession of executive abilities of the 
loftiest order. In his large presence the other popes 
and politicians shrink to midges for the microscope. 
I would like to see him. I would rather see him 
and shake him by the tail than any other member of 
the European Concert. In the present paper I shall 
allow myself to use the word Jew as if it stood for 
both religion and race. It is handy; and besides, 
that is what the term means to the general world. 
In the above letter one notes these points: 

1. The Jew is a well-behaved citizen. 

2. Can ignorance and fanaticism alone account 
for his unjust treatment ? 

3 . Can Jews do anything to improve the situation ? 

Concerning the Jews 253 

4. The Jews have no party; they are non- 

5. Will the persecution ever come to an end? 

6. What has become of the golden rule? 

Point No. 1. — We must grant proposition No. I, 
for several sufficient reasons. The Jew is not a dis- 
turber of the peace of any country. Even his 
enemies will concede that. He is not a loafer, he is 
not a sot, he is not noisy, he is not a brawler nor a 
rioter, he is not quarrelsome. In the statistics of 
crime his presence is conspicuously rare — in all 
countries. With murder and other crimes of 
violence he has but little to do : he is a stranger to 
the hangman. In the police court's daily long roll 
of ** assaults " and '* drunk and disorderlies " his 
name seldom appears. That the Jewish home is a 
home in the truest sense is a fact which no one will 
dispute. The family is knitted together by the 
strongest affections ; its members show each other 
every due respect; and reverence for the elders is 
an inviolate law of the house. The Jew is not a 
burden on the charities of the state nor of the city; 
these could cease from their functions without 
affecting him. When he is well enough, he works; 
when he is incapacitated, his own people take care 
of him. And not in a poor and stingy way, but 
with a fine and large benevolence. His race is en- 
titled to be called the most benevolent of all the 
races of men. A Jewish beggar is not impossible, 

perhaps; such a thing may exist, but there are few 

254 Concerning the Jews 

men that can say they have seen that spectacle. The 
Jew has been staged in many uncomplimentary 
forms, but, so far as I know, no dramatist has done 
him the injustice to stage him as a beggar. When- 
ever a jew has real need to beg, his people save him 
from the necessity of doing it. The charitable in- 
stitutions of the Jews are supported by Jewish 
money, and amply. The Jews make no noise about 
it; it is done quietly; they do not nag and pester 
and harass us for contributions ; they give us peace, 
and set us an example — an example which we have 
not found ourselves able to follow; for by nature we 
are not free givers, and have to be patiently and 
persistently hunted down in the interest of the un- 

These facts are all on the credit side of the prop- 
osition that the Jew is a good and orderly citizen. 
Summed up, they certify that he is quiet, peaceable, 
industrious, unaddicted to high crimes and brutal 
dispositions; that his family life is commendable; 
that he is not a burden upon public charities; that 
he is not a beggar; that in benevolence he is above 
the reach of competition. These are the very 
quintessential of good citizenship. If you can add 
that he is as honest as the average of his neighbors 
— But I think that question is affirmatively 
answered by the fact that he is a successful business 
man. The basis of successful business is honesty; 
a business cannot thrive where the parties to it 
cannot trust each other. In the matter of numbers 

Concerning the Jews 255 

the Jew counts for little in the overwhelming 
population of New York; but that his honesty 
counts for much is guaranteed by the fact that the 
immense wholesale business of Broadway, from the 
Battery to Union Square, is substantially in his 

I suppose that the most picturesque example in 
history of a trader's trust in his fellow-trader was 
one where it was not Christian trusting Christian, but 
Christian trusting Jew. That Hessian Duke who 
used to sell his subjects to George III. to fight 
George Washington with got rich at it ; and by-and- 
by, when the wars engendered by the French 
Revolution made his throne too warm for him, he 
was obliged to fly the country. He was in a hurry, 
and had to leave his earnings behind — $9,000,000. 
He had to risk the money with some one without 
security. He did not select a Christian, but a Jew 
— a Jew of only modest means, but of high 
character; a character so high that it left him lone- 
some — Rothschild of Frankfort. Thirty years later, 
when Europe had become quiet and safe again, the 
Duke came back from overseas, and the Jew re- 
turned the loan, with interest added.* 

* Here is another piece of picturesque history; and it reminds us 
that shabbiness and dishonesty are not the monopoly of any race or 
creed, but are merely human: 

" Congress passed a bill to pay $379.56 to Moses Pendergrass, of Lib- 
ertyville, Missouri. The story of the reason of this liberality is patheti* 
cally interesting, and shows the sort of pickle that an honest man may 
get into who undertakes to do an honest job of work for Uncle Sam. 

256 Concerning the Jews 

The Jew has his other side. He has some dis- 
creditable ways, though he has not a monopoly of 
them, because he cannot get entirely rid of vexatious 
Christian competition. We have seen that he seldom 
transgresses the laws against crimes of violence. 

In 1886 Moses Pendergrass put in a bid for the contract to carry the 
mail on the route from Knob Lick to Libertyville and Coffman, thirty 
miles a day, from July 1, 1887, for one year. He got the postmaster at 
Knob Lick to write the letter for him, and while Moses intended that 
his bid should be $400, his scribe carelessly made it $4. Moses got the 
contract, and did not find out about the mistake until the end of the 
first quarter, when he got his first pay. When he found at what rate he 
was working he was sorely cast down, and opened communication with 
the Post Office Department. The department informed him that he 
must either carry out his contract or throw it up, and that if he threw it up 
his bondsmen would have to pay the government $1,459.85 damages. 
So Moses carried out his contract, walked thirty miles every week-day 
for a year, and carried the mail, and received for his labor $4 — or, to 
be accurate, $6.84; for, the route being extended after his bid was 
accepted, the pay was proportionately increased. Now, after ten years, 
a bill was finally passed to pay to Moses the difference between what he 
earned in that unlucky year and what he received." 

The Sun, which tells the above story, says that bills were introduced 
in three or four Congresses ior Moses's relief, and that committees re- 
peatedly investigated his claim. 

It took six Congresses, containing in their persons the compressed 
virtues of 70,000,000 of people, and cautiously and carefully giving ex- 
pression to those virtues in the fear of God and the next election, eleven 
years to find out some way to cheat a fellow-Christian out of about $13 
on his honestly executed contract, and out of nearly $300 due him on 
its enlarged terms. And they succeeded. During the same time they 
paid out $1,000,000,000 in pensions — a third of it unearned and unde- 
served. This indicates a splendid all-around competency in theft, for it 
starts with farthings, and works its industries all the way up to ship- 
loads. It may be possible that the Jews can beat this, but the man that 
bets on it is taking chances. 

Concerning the Jews 257 

Indeed, his dealings with courts are almost restricted 
to matters connected with commerce. He has a 
reputation for various small forms of cheating, and 
for practicing oppressive usury, and for burning 
himself out to get the insurance, and arranging for 
cunning contracts which leave him an exit but lock 
the other man in, and for smart evasions which find 
him safe and comfortable just within the strict letter 
of the law, when court and jury know very well that 
he has violated the spirit of it. He is a frequent and 
faithful and capable officer in the civil service, but he 
is charged with an unpatriotic disinclination to stand 
by the flag as a soldier — like the Christian Quaker. 

Now if you offset these discreditable features by 
the creditable ones summarized in a preceding para- 
graph beginning with the words, * 'These facts are all 
on the credit side," and strike a balance, what must 
the verdict be? This, I think: that, the merits and 
demerits being fairly weighed and measured on both 
sides, the Christian can claim no superiority over the 
Jew in the matter of good citizenship. 

Yet, in all countries, from the dawn of history, 
the Jew has been persistently and implacably hated, 
and with frequency persecuted. 

Point No. 2. — "Can fanaticism alone account for 

Years ago I used to think that it was responsible 
for nearly all of it, but latterly I have come to think 
that this was an error. Indeed, it is now my con- 
viction that it is responsible for hardly any of it. 

258 Concerning the Jews 

In this connection I call to mind Genesis, chapter 

We have all thoughtfully — or unthoughtfully — 
read the pathetic story of the years of plenty and 
the years of famine in Egypt, and how Joseph, with 
that opportunity, made a corner in broken hearts, 
and the crusts of the poor, and human liberty — a 
corner whereby he took a nation's money all away, 
to the last penny; took a nation's live-stock all 
away, to the last hoof; took a nation's land away, 
to the last acre ; then took the nation itself, buying 
it for bread, man by man, woman by woman, child 
by child, till all were slaves; a corner which took 
everything, left nothing; a corner so stupendous 
that, by comparison with it, the most gigantic 
corners in subsequent history are but baby things, 
for it dealt in hundreds of millions of bushels, and 
its profits were reckonable by hundreds of millions 
of dollars, and it was a disaster so crushing that its 
effects have not wholly disappeared from Egypt to- 
day, more than three thousand years after the event. 

Is it presumable that the eye of Egypt was upon 
Joseph, the foreign Jew, all this time? I think it 
likely. Was it friendly? We must doubt it. Was 
Joseph establishing a character for his race which 
would survive long in Egypt ? And in time would 
his name come to be familiarly used to express that 
character — like Shylock's ? It is hardly to be 
doubted. Let us remember that this was centuries 
before the crucifixion. 

Concerning the Jews 259 

I wish to come down eighteen hundred years later 
and refer to a remark made by one of the Latin 
historians. I read it in a translation many years 
ago, and it comes back to me now with force. It 
was alluding to a time when people were still living 
who could have seen the Saviour in the flesh. 
Christianity was so new that the people of Rome 
had hardly heard of it, and had but confused notions 
of what it was. The substance of the remark was 
this : Some Christians were persecuted in Rome 
through error, they being " mistaken for Jews ." 

The meaning seems plain. These pagans had 
nothing against Christians, but they were quite ready 
to persecute Jews. For some reason or other they 
hated a Jew before they even knew what a Christian 
was. May I not assume, then, that the persecution 
of Jews is a thing which antedates Christianity and 
was not born of Christianity? I think so. What 
was the origin of the feeling? 

When I was a boy, in the back settlements of the 
Mississippi Valley, where a gracious and beautiful 
Sunday-school simplicity and unpracticality pre- 
vailed, the " Yankee " (citizen of the New England 
States) was hated with a splendid energy. But re- 
ligion had nothing to do with it. In a trade, the 
Yankee was held to be about five times the match 
of the Westerner. His shrewdness, his insight, 
his judgment, his knowledge, his enterprise, and his 
formidable cleverness in applying these forces were 
frankly confessed, and most competently cursed. 

o* * 

260 Concerning the Jews 


In the cotton States, after the war, the simple and 
ignorant negroes made the crops for the white 
planter on shares. The Jew came down in force, set 
up shop on the plantation, supplied all the negro's 
wants on credit, and at the end of the season was 
proprietor of the negro's share of the present crop 
and of part of his share of the next one. Before 
long, the whites detested the Jew, and it is doubtful 
if the negro loved him. 

The Jew is being legislated out of Russia. The 
reason is not concealed. The movement was in- 
stituted because the Christian peasant and villager 
stood no chance against his commercial abilities. 
He was always ready to lend money on a crop, and 
sell vodka and other necessaries of life on credit 
while the crop was growing. When settlement day 
came he owned the crop ; and next year or year 
after he owned the farm, like Joseph. 

In the dull and ignorant England of John's time 
everybody got into debt to the Jew, He gathered 
all lucrative enterprises into his hands; he was the 
king of commerce; he was ready to be helpful in all 
profitable ways ; he even financed crusades for the 
rescue of the Sepulchre. To wipe out his account 
with the nation and restore business to its natural 
and incompetent channels he had to be banished the 

For the like reasons Spain had to banish him 
four hundred years ago, and Austria about a couple 
of centuries later. 

Concerning the Jews 261 

In all the ages Christian Europe has been obliged 
to curtail his activities. If he entered upon a 
mechanical trade, the Christian had to retire from it. 
If he set up as a doctor, he was the best one, and 
he took the business. If he exploited agriculture, 
the other farmers had to get at something else. 
Since there was no way to successfully compete 
with him in any vocation, the law had to step in 
and save the Christian from the poorhouse. Trade 
after trade was taken away from the Jew by statute 
till practically none was left. He was forbidden to 
engage in agriculture ; he was forbidden to practice 
law; he was forbidden to practice medicine, except 
among Jews; he was forbidden the handicrafts. 
Even the seats of learning and the schools of science 
had to be closed against this tremendous antagonist. 
Still, almost bereft of employments, he found ways 
to make money, even ways to get rich. Also ways 
to invest his takings well, for usury was not denied 
him. In the hard conditions suggested, the Jew 
without brains could not survive, and the Jew with 
brains had to keep them in good training and well 
sharpened up, or starve. Ages of restriction to the 
one tool which the law was not able to take from 
him — his brain — have made that tool singularly 
competent; ages of compulsory disuse of his hands 
have atrophied them, and he never uses them now. 
This history has a very, very commercial look, a 
most sordid and practical commercial look, the busi- 
ness aspect of a Chinese cheap-labor crusade. 

262 Concerning the Jews 

Religious prejudices may account for one part of it, 
but not for the other nine. 

Protestants have persecuted Catholics, but they 
did not take their livelihoods away from them. The 
Catholics have persecuted the Protestants with 
bloody and awful bitterness, but they never closed 
agriculture and the handicrafts against them. Why 
was that ? That has the candid look of genuine 
religious persecution, not a trade-union boycott in a 
religious disguise. 

The Jews are harried and obstructed in Austria 
and Germany, and lately in France ; but England 
and America give them an open field and yet 
survive. Scotland offers them an unembarrassed 
field too, but there are not many takers. There are 
a few Jews in Glasgow, and one in Aberdeen ; but 
that is because they can't earn enough to get away. 
The Scotch pay themselves that compliment, but it 
is authentic. 

I feel convinced that the Crucifixion has not much 
to do with the world's attitude toward the Jew; that 
the reasons for it are older than that event, as sug- 
gested by Egypt's experience and by Rome's regret 
for having persecuted an unknown quantity called a 
Christian, under the mistaken impression that she 
was merely persecuting a Jew. Merely a Jew — a 
skinned eel who was used to it, presumably. I am 
persuaded that in Russia, Austria, and Germany 
nine-tenths of the hostility to the Jew comes from 
the average Christian's inability to compete success- 

Concerning the Jews 263 

fully with the average Jew in business — in either 
straight business or the questionable sort. 

In Berlin, a few years ago, I read a speech which 
frankly urged the expulsion of the Jews from 
Germany; and the agitator's reason was as frank as 
his proposition. It was this : that eighty -five per 
cent, of the successful lawyers of Berlin were Jews, 
and that about the same percentage of the great and 
lucrative businesses of all sorts in Germany were in 
the hands of the Jewish race ! Isn't it an amazing 
confession? It was but another way of saying that 
in a population of 48,000,000, of whom only 500,- 
000 were registered as Jews, eighty-five per cent, of 
the brains and honesty of the whole was lodged in 
the Jews. I must insist upon the honesty — it is an 
essential of successful business, taken by and large. 
Of course it does not rule out rascals entirely, even 
among Christians, but it is a good working rule, 
nevertheless. The speaker's figures may have been 
inexact, but the motive of persecution stands out as 
clear as day. 

The man claimed that in Berlin the banks, the 
newspapers, the theaters, the great mercantile, 
shipping, mining, and manufacturing interests, the 
big army and city contracts, the tramways, and 
pretty much all other properties of high value, and 
also the small businesses — were in the hands of 
the Jews. He said the Jew was pushing the Christian 
to the wall all along the line ; that it was all a 
Christian could do to scrape together a living; and 

264 Concerning the Jews 

that the Jew must be banished, and soon — there was 
no other way of saving the Christian. Here in 
Vienna, last autumn, an agitator said that all these 
disastrous details were true of Austria-Hungary 
also ; and in fierce language he demanded the ex- 
pulsion of the Jews. When politicians come out 
without a blush and read the baby act in this frank 
way, unrebukcd, it is a very good indication that 
they have a market back of them, and know where 
to fish for votes. 

You note the crucial point of the mentioned 
agitation ; the argument is that the Christian cannot 
compete with the Jew, and that hence his very bread 
is in peril. To human beings this is a much more 
hate-inspiring thing than is any detail connected 
with religion. With most people, of a necessity, 
bread and meat take first rank, religion second. I 
am convinced that the persecution of the Jew is not 
due in any large degree to religious prejudice. 

No, the Jew is a money-getter; and in getting his 
money he is a very serious obstruction to less 
capable neighbors who are on the same quest. I 
think that that is the trouble. In estimating worldly 
values the Jew is not shallow, but deep. With 
precocious wisdom he found out in the morning of 
time that some men worship rank, some worship 
heroes, some worship power, some worship God, 
and that over these ideals they dispute and cannot 
unite — but that they all worship money; so he 
made it the end and aim of his life to get it. He 

Concerning the Jews 26$ 

was at it in Egypt thirty-six centuries ago ; he v. 
at it in Rome when that Christian got persecuted by 
mistake for him; he has been at it ever since. The 
cost to him has been heavy; his success has made 
the whole human race his enemy — but it has paid, 
for it has brought him envy, and that is the only 
thing which men will sell both soul and body to get. 
He long ago observed that a millionaire commands 
respect, a two-millionaire homage, a multi-millionaire 
the deepest deeps of adoration. We all know that 
feeling; we have seen it express itself. We have 
noticed that when the average man mentions the 
name of a multi-millionaire he does it with that 
mixture in his voice of awe and reverence and lust 
which burns in a Frenchman's eye when it falls on 
another man's centime. 

Point No. 4.. — " The Jews have no party; they 
are non-participants." 

Perhaps you have let the secret out and given 
yourself away. It seems hardly a credit to the race 
that it is able to say that; or to you, sir, that you 
can say it without remorse ; more, that you should 
offer it as a plea against maltreatment, injustice, and 
oppression. Who gives the Jew the right, who 
gives any race the right, to sit still, in a free 
country, and let somebody else look after its safety? 
The oppressed Jew was entitled to all pity in the 
former times under brutal autocracies, for he was 
weak and friendless, and had no way to help his 
case. But he has ways now, and he has had them 

266 Concerning the Jews 

for a century, but I do not see that he has tried to 
make serious use of them. When the Revolution 
set him free in France it was an act of grace — the 
grace of other people ; he does not appear in it as 
a helper. I do not know that he helped when Eng- 
land set him free. Among the Twelve Sane Men of 
France who have stepped forward with great Zola at 
their head to fight (and win, I hope and believe*) 
the battle for the most infamously misused Jew of 
modern times, do you find a great or rich or 
illustrious Jew helping? In the United States he 
was created free in the beginning — he did not need 
to help, of course. In Austria, and Germany, and 
France he has a vote, but of what considerable use 
is it to him? He doesn't seem to know how to 
apply it to the best effect. With all his splendid 
capacities and all his fat wealth he is to-day not 
politically important in any country. In America, 
as early as 1854, the ignorant Irish hod-carrier, who 
had a spirit of his own and a way of exposing it to 
the weather, made it apparent to all that he must be 
politically reckoned with ; yet fifteen years before 
that we hardly knew what an Irishman looked like. 
As an intelligent force, and numerically, he has 
always been away down, but he has governed the 
country just the same. It was because he was 
orga?tized. It made his vote valuable — in fact, 

You will say the Jew is everywhere numerically 

*Tbe article was written in the summer of 1S9S. — F.i>. 

Concerning the Jews 267 


feeble. That is nothing to the point — with the 
Irishman's history for an object-lesson. But I am 
coming to your numerical feebleness presently. In 
all parliamentary countries you could no doubt elect 
Jews to the legislatures — and even one member in 
such a body is sometimes a force which counts. 
How deeply have you concerned yourselves about 
this in Austria, France, and Germany? Or even in 
America for that matter? You remark that the Jews 
were not to blame for the riots in this Reichsrath 
here, and you add with satisfaction that there wasn't 
one in that body. That is not strictly correct; if it 
were, would it not be in order for you to explain it 
and apologize for it, not try to make a merit of it? 
But I think that the Jew was by no means in as large 
force there as he ought to have been, with his 
chances. Austria opens the suffrage to him on fairly 
liberal terms, and it must surely be his own fault 
that he is so much in the background politically. 

As to your numerical weakness. I mentioned 
some figures awhile ago — 500,000 — as the Jewish 
population of Germany. I will add some more — 
6,000,000 in Russia, 5,000,000 in Austria, 250,000 
in the United States. I take them from memory; I 
read them in the Encyclopaedia Britannica about ten 
years ago. Still, I am entirely sure of them. If 
those statistics are correct, my argument is not as 
strong as it ought to be as concerns America, but it 
still has strength. It is plenty strong enough as 
concerns Austria, for ten years ago 5,000,000 was 

268 Concerning the Jews 

nine per cent, of the empire's population. The 
Irish would govern the Kingdom of Heaven if they 
had a strength there like that. 

I have some suspicions; I got them at second 
hand, but they have remained with me these ten or 
twelve years. When I read in the E. B. that the 
Jewish population of the United States was 250,000, 
I wrote the editor, and explained to him that I was 
personally acquainted with more Jews than that in 
my country, and that his figures were without doubt 
a misprint for 25,000,000. I also added that I was 
personally acquainted with that many there ; but 
that was only to raise his confidence in me, for it 
was not true. His answer miscarried, and I never 
got it; but I went around talking about the matter, 
and people told me they had reason to suspect that 
for business reasons many Jews whose dealings were 
mainly with the Christians did not report themselves 
as Jews in the census. It looked plausible; it looks 
plausible yet. Look at the city of New York ; and 
look at Boston, and Philadelphia, and New Orleans, 
and Chicago, and Cincinnati, and San Francisco — 
how your race swarms in those places ! — and 
everywhere else in America, down to the least little 
village. Read the signs on the marts of commerce 
and on the shops: Goldstein (gold stone), Edelstein 
(precious stone), Blumenthal (flower-vale), Rosen- 
thal (rose-vale), Veilchenduft (violet odor), Sing- 
vogel (song-bird), Rosenzweig (rose branch), and 
all the amazing list of beautiful and enviable names 

Concerning the Jews 269 

which Prussia and Austria glorified you with so long 
ago. It is another instance of Europe's coarse and 
cruel persecution of your race; not that it was 
coarse and cruel to outfit it with pretty and poetical 
names like those, but that it was coarse and cruel to 
make it pay for them or else take such hideous and 
often indecent names that to-day their owners never 
use them; or, if they do, only on official papers. 
And it was the many, not the few, who got the 
odious names, they being too poor to bribe the 
officials to grant them better ones. 

Now why was the race renamed ? I have been told 
that in Prussia it was given to using fictitious names, 
and often changing them, so as to beat the tax- 
gatherer, escape military service, and so on ; and 
that finally the idea was hit upon of furnishing all 
the inmates of a house with one and the same stir- 
name, and then holding the house responsible right 
along for those inmates, and accountable for any 
disappearances that might occur; it made the Jews 
keep track of each other, for self-interest's sake, and 
saved the government the trouble.* 

* In Austria the renaming was merely done because the Jews in 
some newly acquired regions had no surnames, but were mostly named 
Abraham and Moses, and therefore the tax-gatherer could not tell 
t'other from which, and was likely to lose his reason over the matter. 
The renaming was put inlo the hands of the War Department, and a 
charming mess the graceless young lieutenants made of it. To them a 
Jew was of no sort of consequence, and they labeled the race in a way 
to make the angels weep. As an example take these two ! Abraluim 
Bellyache and Schmul Godbcdamned. — Culled from ** Nam ens Slu- 
tHen" by Karl Etnil Franzoi, 

270 Concerning the Jews 

If that explanation of how the Jews of Prussia 
came to be renamed is correct, if it is true that they 
fictitiously registered themselves to gain certain ad- 
vantages, it may possibly be true that in America 
they refrain from registering themselves as Jews to 
fend off the damaging prejudices of the Christian 
customer. I have no way of knowing whether this 
notion is well founded or not. There may be other 
and better ways of explaining why only that poor 
little 250,000 of our Jews got into the Encyclopaedia. 
I may, of course, be mistaken, but I am strongly 
of the opinion that we have an immense Jewish 
population in America. 

Point No. j. — " Can Jews do anything to im- 
prove the situation?" 

I think so. If I may make a suggestion without 
seeming to be trying to teach my grandmother how 
to suck eggs, I will offer it. In our days we have 
learned the value of combination. We apply it 
everywhere — in railway systems, in trusts, in trade 
unions, in Salvation Armies, in minor politics, in 
major politics, in European Concerts. Whatever 
our strength may be, big or little, we organize it. 
We have found out that that is the only way to get 
the most out of it that is in it. We know the weak- 
ness of individual sticks, and the strength of the 
concentrated fagot. Suppose you try a scheme like 
this, for instance. In England and America put 
every Jew on the census-book as a Jew (in case you 
have not been doing that). Get up volunteer 

Concerning the Jews 271 

regiments composed of Jews solely, and, when the 
drum beats, fall in and go to the front, so as to re- 
move the reproach that you have few Massenas 
among you, and that you feed on a country but 
don't like to fight for it. Next, in politics, organize 
your strength, band together, and deliver the casting 
vote where you can, and where you can't, compel as 
good terms as possible. You huddle to yourselves 
already in all countries, but you huddle to no 
sufficient purpose, politically speaking. You do not 
seem to be organized, except for your charities. 
There you are omnipotent; there you compel your 
due of recognition — you do not have to beg for it. 
It shows what you can do when you band together 
for a definite purpose. 

And then from America and England you can 
encourage your race in Austria, France, and Ger- 
many, and materially help it. It was a pathetic tale 
that was told by a poor Jew in Galicia a fortnight 
ago during the riots, after he had been raided by 
the Christian peasantry and despoiled of everything 
he had. He said his vote was of no value to him, 
and he wished he could be excused from casting it, 
for indeed casting it was a sure damage to him, since 
no matter which party he voted for, the other party 
w r ould come straight and take its revenge out of him. 
Nine per cent, of the population of the empire, 
these Jews, and apparently they cannot put a 
plank into any candidate's platform ! If you will 
send our Irish lads over here I think they will 

272 Concerning the Jews 

organize your race and change the aspect of the 

You seem to think that the Jews take no hand in 
politics here, that they are " absolutely non- 
participants.'"' I am assured by men competent to 
speak that this is a very large error, that the Jews 
are exceedingly active in politics all over the em- 
pire, but that they scatter their work and their votes 
among the numerous parties, and thus lose the ad- 
vantages to be had by concentration. I think that 
in America they scatter too, but you know more 
about that than I do. 

Speaking of concentration, Dr. Herzl has a clear 
insight into the value of that. Have you heard of 
his plan? He wishes to gather the Jews of the world 
together in Palestine, with a government of their 
own — under the suzerainty of the Sultan, I sup- 
pose. At the convention of Berne, last year, there 
were delegates from everywhere, and the proposal 
was received with decided favor. I am not the 
Sultan, and I am not objecting; but if that con- 
centration of the cunningest brains in the world was 
going to be made in a free country (bar Scotland), 
I think it would be politic to stop it. It will not be 
well to let that race find out its strength. If the 
horses knew theirs, we should not ride any more. 

Point No. j. — " Will the persecution of the Jews 
ever come to an end?" 

On the score of religion, I think it has already 
come to an end. On the score of race prejudice 

Concerning the Jews 273 

and trade, I have the idea that it will continue. 
That is, here and there in spots about the world, 
where a barbarous ignorance and a sort of mere 
animal civilization prevail ; but I do not think that 
elsewhere the Jew need now stand in any fear of 
being robbed and raided. Among the high civil- 
izations he seems to be very comfortably situated 
indeed, and to have more than his proportionate 
share of the prosperities going. It has that look in 
Vienna. I suppose the race prejudice cannot be 
removed ; but he can stand that ; it is no particular 
matter. By his make and ways he is substantially 
a foreigner wherever he may be, and even the angels 
dislike a foreigner. I am using this word foreigner 
in the German sense — stranger. Nearly all of us 
have an antipathy to a stranger, even of our own 
nationality. We pile gripsacks in a vacant seat to 
keep him from getting it ; and a dog goes further, 
and does as a savage w r ould — challenges him on the 
spot. The German dictionary seems to make no 
distinction between a stranger and a foreigner ; in its 
view a stranger is a foreigner — a sound position, I 
think. You will always be by ways and habits and 
predilections substantially strangers — foreigners — • 
wherever you are, and that will probably keep the 
race prejudice against you alive. 

But you were the favorites of Heaven originally, 

and your manifold and unfair prosperities convince 

me that you have crowded back into that snug place 

again. Here is an incident that is significant. Last 


274 Concerning the Jews 

week in Vienna a hail-storm struck the prodigious 
Central Cemetery and made wasteful destruction 
there. In the Christian part of it, according to the 
official figures, 62 1 window panes were broken ; more 
than 900 singing-birds were killed ; five great trees 
and many small ones were torn to shreds and the 
shreds scattered far and wide by the wind ; the orna- 
mental plants and other decorations of the graves 
were ruined, and more than a hundred tomb-lanterns 
shattered; and it took the cemetery's whole force 
of 300 laborers more than three days to clear away 
the storm's wreckage. In the report occurs this 
remark — and in its italics you can hear it grit its 
Christian teeth: **. . . . lediglich die israelitische 
Abtheilung des Friedhofes vom Hagelwetter ganz- 
lich versdiont worden war." Not a hailstone hit the 
Jewish reservation ! Such nepotism makes me tired. 

Point No. 6. — " What has become of the golden 

It exists, it continues to sparkle, and is well taken 
care of. It is Exhibit A in the Church's assets, and 
we pull it out every Sunday and give it an airing. 
But you are not permitted to try to smuggle it into 
this discussion, where it is irrelevant and would not 
feel at home. It is strictly religious furniture, like 
an acolyte, or a contribution-plate, or any of those 
things. It has never been intruded into business; 
and Jewish persecution is not a religious passion, it 
is a business passion. 

To conclude. — If the statistics are right, the Jews 

Concerning the Jews 275 

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 
also 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 him- 
self, 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 they are gone; 
other peoples 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 thir 
are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he 
remains. What is the secret of his immortality ? 


Correspondence of the "London Times " 

Chicago, April i, 1904. 
RESUME by cable-telephone where I left off 
■ yesterday. For many hours, now, this vast city 

— along with the rest of the globe, of course — has 
talked of nothing but the extraordinary episode 
mentioned in my last report. In accordance with 
your instructions, I will now trace the romance from 
its beginnings down to the culmination of yesterday 

— or to-day; call it which you like. By an odd 
chance, I was a personal actor in a part of this 
drama myself. The opening scene plays in Vienna. 
Date, one o'clock in the morning, March 31, 1898. 
I had spent the evening at a social entertainment. 
About midnight I went away, in company with 
the military attaches of the British, Italian, and 
American embassies, to finish with a late smoke. 
This function had been appointed to take place in 
the house of Lieutenant Hillyer, the third attache 
mentioned in the above list. When we arrived there 
we found several visitors in the room : young 
Szczepanik;* Mr. K., his financial backer; Mr. \V., 

* Pronounced (approximately) Zefiannik. 


From the " London Times " of 1904 277 

the latter' s secretary; and Lieutenant Clayton of the 
United States army. War was at that time threat- 
ening between Spain and our country, and Lieutenant 
Clayton had been sent to Europe on military busi- 
ness. I was well acquainted with young Szczepanik 
and his two friends, and I knew Mr. Clayton slightly. 
I had met him at West Point years before, when he 
was a cadet. It was when General Merritt was 
superintendent. He had the reputation of being an 
able officer, and also of being quick-tempered and 

This smoking-party had been gathered together 
partly for business. This business was to consider 
the availability of the telelectroscope for military 
service. It sounds oddly enough now, but it is 
nevertheless true that at that time the invention was 
not taken seriously by any one except its inventor. 
Even his financial supporter regarded it merely as 
a curious and interesting toy. Indeed, he was so 
convinced of this that he had actually postponed its 
use by the general world to the end of the dying 
century by granting a two years' exclusive lease of 
it to a syndicate, whose intent was to exploit it at 
the Paris World's Fair. 

When we entered the smoking-room we found 
Lieutenant Clayton and Szczepanik engaged in a 
warm talk over the telelectroscope in the German 
tongue. Clayton was saying: 

" Well, you know ;?zj/ opinion of it, anyway !" and he 
brought his fist down with emphasis upon the table. 

278 From the "London Times" of 1904 

44 And I do not value it," retorted the young in- 
ventor, with provoking calmness of tone and manner. 

Clayton turned to Mr. K., and said: 

" / cannot see why you are wasting money on 
this toy. In my opinion, the day will never come 
when it will do a farthing's worth of real service for 
any human being." 

44 That may be; yes, that may be; still, I have 
put the money in it, and am content. I think, 
myself, that it is only a toy; but Szczepanik claims 
more for it, and I know him well enough to believe 
that he can see farther than I can — either with his 
telelectroscope or without it." 

The soft answer did not cool Clayton down; it 
seemed only to irritate him the more ; and he re- 
peated and emphasized his conviction that the in- 
vention would never do any man a farthing's worth 
of real service. He even made it a " brass ' ' farthing, 
this time. Then he laid an English farthing on the 
table, and added : 

" Take that, Mr. K,, and put it away; and if ever 
the telelectroscope does any man an actual service, 
— mind, a real service, — please mail it to me as a 
reminder, and I will take back what I have been 
saying. Will you?" 

44 I will ;" and Mr. K. put the coin in his pocket. 

Mr. Clayton now turned toward Szczepanik, and 
began with a taunt — a taunt which did not reach a 
finish ; Szczepanik interrupted it with a hardy retort, 
and followed this with a blow. There was a brisk 

From the " London Times" of 1904 279 

fight for a moment or two; then the attaches 
separated the men. 

The scene now changes to Chicago. Time, the 
autumn of 1901. As soon as the Paris contract 
released the telelectroscope, it was delivered to 
public use, and was soon connected with the tele- 
phonic systems of the whole world. The improved 
" limitless-distance " telephone was presently in- 
troduced, and the daily doings .of the globe made 
visible to everybody, and audibly discussable, too, 
by witnesses separated by any number of leagues. 

By and by Szczepanik arrived in Chicago. Clay- 
ton (now captain) was serving in that military de- 
partment at the time. The two men resumed the 
Viennese quarrel of 1 898. On three different 
occasions they quarreled, and were separated by 
witnesses. Then came an interval of two months, 
during which time Szczepanik was not seen by any 
of his friends, and it was at first supposed that he 
had gone off on a sight-seeing tour and would soon 
be heard from. But no; no word came from him. 
Then it was supposed that he had returned to 
Europe. Still, time drifted on, and he was not 
heard from. Nobody was troubled, for he was like 
most inventors and other kinds of poets, and went 
and came in a capricious way, and often without 

Now comes the tragedy. On the 29th of 
December, in a dark and unused compartment of 
the cellar under Captain Clayton's house, a corpse 

280 From the "London Times" of 1904 

was discovered by one of Clayton's maid-servants. 
It was easily identified as Szczepanik's. The man 
had died by violence. Clayton was arrested, in- 
dicted, and brought to trial, charged with this 
murder. The evidence against him was perfect in 
every detail, and absolutely unassailable. Clayton 
admitted this himself. He said that a reasonable 
man could not examine this testimony with a dis- 
passionate mind and not be convinced by it; yet 
the man would be in error, nevertheless. Clayton 
swore that he did not commit the murder, and that 
he had had nothing to do with it. 

As your readers will remember, he was con- 
demned to death. He had numerous and powerful 
friends, and they worked hard to save him, for none 
of them doubted the truth of his assertion. I did 
what little I could to help, for I had long since 
become a close friend of his, and thought I knew 
that it was not in his character to inveigle an enemy 
into a corner and assassinate him. During 1902 
and 1903 he was several times reprieved by the 
governor; he was reprieved once more in the be- 
ginning of the present year, and the execution-day 
postponed to March 31st. 

The governor's situation has been embarrassing, 
from the day of the condemnation, because of the 
fact that Clayton's wife is the governor's niece. 
The marriage took place in 1899, when Clayton was 
thirty-four and the girl twenty-three, and has been a 
happy one. There is one child, a little girl three 

From the "London Times" of 1904 28 i 

years old. Pity for the poor mother and child 
kept the mouths of grumblers closed at first; but 
this could not last forever, — for in America politics 
has a hand in everything, — and by and by the 
governor's political opponents began to call at- 
tention to his delay in allowing the law to take its 
course. These hints have grown more and more 
frequent of late, and more and more pronounced. 
As a natural result, his own party grew nervous. 
Its leaders began to visit Springfield and hold long 
private conferences with him. He was now between 
two fires. On the one hand, his niece was imploring 
him to pardon her husband ; on the other were the 
leaders, insisting that he stand to his plain duty as 
chief magistrate of the State, and place no further 
bar to Clayton's execution. Duty won in the 
struggle, and the governor gave his word that he 
would not again respite the condemned man. This 
was two weeks ago. Mrs. Clayton now said: 

" Now that you have given your word, my last 
hope is gone, for I know you will never go back 
from it. But you have done the best you could for 
John, and I have no reproaches for you. You love 
him, and you love me, and we both know that if you 
could honorably save him, you would do it. I will 
go to him now, and be what help I can to him, and 
get what comfort I may out of the few days that are 
left to us before the night comes which will have no 
end for me in life. You will be with me that day? 
You will not let me bear it alone?" 

282 From the " London Times" of 1904 

*' I will take you to him myself, poor child, and 
I will be near you to the last." 

By the governor's command, Clayton was now 
allowed every indulgence he might ask for which 
could interest his mind and soften the hardships of 
his imprisonment. His wife and child spent the 
days with him ; I was his companion by night. He 
was removed from the narrow cell which he had 
occupied during such a dreary stretch of time, and 
given the chief warden's roomy and comfortable 
quarters. His mind was always busy with the 
catastrophe of his life, and with the slaughtered 
inventor, and he now took the fancy that he would 
like to have the telelectroscope and divert his mind 
with it. He had his wish. The connection was 
made with the international telephone-station, and 
day by day, and night by night, he called up one 
corner of the globe after another, and looked upon 
its life, and studied its strange sights, and spoke 
with its people, and realized that by grace of this 
marvelous instrument he was almost as free as the 
birds of the air, although a prisoner under locks 
and bars. He seldom spoke, and I never inter- 
rupted him when he was absorbed in this amuse- 
ment. I sat in his parlor and read and smoked, and 
the nights were very quiet and reposefully sociable, 
and I found them pleasant. Now and then I would 
hear him say, " Give me Yedo " ; next, M Give me 
Hong-Kong"; next, " Give me Melbourne." And 
I smoked on, and read in comfort, while he wandered 

From the "London Times" of 1904 283 

about the remote under-world, where the sun was 
shining in the sky, and the people were at their daily 
work. Sometimes the talk that came from those far 
regions through the microphone attachment in- 
terested me, and I listened. 

Yesterday — I keep calling it yesterday, which is 
quite natural, for certain reasons — the instrument 
remained unused, and that, also, was natural, for it 
was the eve of the execution-day. It was spent in 
tears and lamentations and farewells. The governor 
and the wife and child remained until a quarter past 
eleven at night, and the scenes I witnessed were 
pitiful to see. The execution was to take place at 
four in the morning. A little after eleven a sound 
of hammering broke out upon the still night, and 
there was a glare of light, and the child cried out, 
44 What is that, papa?" and ran to the window be- 
fore she could be stopped, and clapped her small 
hands, and said: M Oh, come and see, mama — such 
a pretty thing they are making!" The mother 
knew — and fainted. It was the gallows ! 

She was carried away to her lodging, poor 
woman, and Clayton and I were alone — alone, and 
thinking, brooding, dreaming. We might have been 
statues, we sat so motionless and still. It was a 
wild night, for winter was come again for a moment, 
after the habit of this region in the early spring. 
The sky was starless and black, and a strong wind 
was blowing from the lake. The silence in the room 
was so deep that all outside sounds seemed exaf- 

284 From the " London Times " of 1904 

gerated by contrast with it. These sounds were 
fitting ones ' K they harmonized with the situation and 
the conditions: the boom and thunder of sudden 
storm-gusts among the roofs and chimneys, then the 
dying down into moanings and wailings about the 
eaves and angles; now and then a gnashing and 
lashing rush of sleet along the window-panes ; and 
always the muffled and uncanny hammering of the 
gallows-builders in the courtyard. After an age of 
this, another sound — far off, and coming smothered 
and faint through the riot of the tempest — a bell 
tolling twelve! Another age, and it tolled again. 
By and by, again. A dreary, long interval after 
this, then the spectral sound floated to us once more 
— one, two, three; and this time we caught our 
breath : sixty minutes of life left ! 

Clayton rose, and stood by the window, and 
looked up into the black sky, and listened to the 
thrashing sleet and the piping wind ; then he said : 
" That a dying man's last of earth should be — this !" 
After a little he said : "I must see the sun again — 
the sun !" and the next moment he was feverishly 
calling: ** China! Give me China — Peking!" 

I was strangely stirred, and said to myself: ** To 
think that it is a mere human being who does this 
unimaginable miracle — turns winter into summer, 
night into day, storm into calm, gives the freedom 
of the great globe to a prisoner in his cell, and the 
sun in his naked splendor to a man dying in 
Egyptian darkness ! ' ' 

From the "London Times" of 1904 285 

I was listening. 

* ' What light ! what brilliancy ! what radiance ! . . . 
This is Peking ?" 
"The time?" 
" Mid-afternoon." 

II What is the great crowd for, and in such 
gorgeous costumes? What masses and masses of 
rich color and barbaric magnificence ! And how 
they flash and glow and burn in the flooding sun- 
light! What is the occasion of it all?" 

"The coronation of our new emperor — the 

'* But I thought that that was to take place 

" This is yesterday — to you." 

** Certainly it is. But my mind is confused, these 
days ; there are reasons for it. . . Is this the be- 
ginning of the procession?" 

" Oh, no; it began to move an hour ago." 

" Is there much more of it still to come?" 

41 Two hours of it. Why do you sigh?" 

'* Because I should like to see it all." 

" And why can't you?" 

11 I have to go — presently." 

11 You have an engagement?" 

After a pause, softly: ** Yes." After another 
pause: " Who are these in the splendid pavilion?" 

" The imperial family, and visiting royalties from 
here and there and yonder in the earth." 

286 From the "London Times" of 1904 

M And who are those in the adjoining pavilions to 
the right and left?" 

** Ambassadors and their families and suites to the 
right; unofficial foreigners to the left." 

M If you will be so good, I — " 

Boom! That distant bell again, tolling the half- 
hour faintly through the tempest of wind and sleet. 
The door opened, and the governor and the mother 
and child entered — the woman in widow's weeds! 
She fell upon her husband's breast in a passion of 
sobs, and I — I could not stay; I could not bear it. 
I went into the bedchamber, and closed the door. 
I sat there waiting — waiting — waiting, and listen- 
ing to the rattling sashes and the Llustering of the 
storm. After what seemed a long, long time, I 
heard a rustle and movement in the parlor, and 
knew that the clergyman and the sheriff and the 
guard were come. There was some low-voiced 
talking; then a hush; then a prayer, with a sound 
of sobbing; presently, footfalls — the departure for 
the gallows; then the child's happy voice : " Don't 
cry now, mama, when we've got papa again, and 
taking him home." 

The door closed ; they were gone. I was ashamed : 
I was the only friend of the dying man that had no 
spirit, no courage. I stepped into the room, and 
said I would be a man and would follow. But we 
are made as we are made, and we cannot help it. I 
did not go. 

I fidgeted about the room nervously, and presently 

From the "London Times " of 1904 287 

went to the window, and softly raised it, — drawn 
by that dread fascination which the terrible and the 
awful exert, — and looked down upon the courtyard. 
By the garish light of the electric lamps I saw the 
little group of privileged witnesses, the wife crying 
on her uncle's breast, the condemned man standing 
on the scaffold with the halter around his neck, his 
arms strapped to his body, the black cap on his 
head, the sheriff at his side with his hand on the 
drop, the clergyman in front of him with bare head 
and his book in his hand. 

** I am the resurrection and the life — " 

I turned away. I could not listen; I could not 
look. I did not know whither to go or what to do. 
Mechanically, and without knowing it, I put my eye 
to that strange instrument, and there was Peking 
and the Czar's procession ! The next moment I was 
leaning out of the window, gasping, suffocating, 
trying to speak, but dumb from the very imminence 
of the necessity of speaking. The preacher could 
speak, but I, who had such need of words — 

li A?id may God have mercy upon your soul. 
Amen. " 

The sheriff drew down the black cap, and laid his 
hand upon the lever. I got my voice. 

" Stop, for God's sake! The man is innocent,, 
Come here and see Szczepanik face to face !" 

Hardly three minutes later the governor had my 
place at the window, and was saying: 

'* Strike off his bonds and set him free!" 

288 From the "London Times" of 1904 

Three minutes later all were in the parlor again. 
The reader will imagine the scene; I have no need 
to describe it. It was a sort of mad orgy of joy. 

A messenger carried word to Szczepanik in the 
pavilion, and one could see the distressed amaze- 
ment dawn in his face as he listened to the tale. 
Then he came to his end of the line, and talked with 
Clayton and the governor and the others; and the 
wife poured out her gratitude upon him for saving 
her husband's life, and in her deep thankfulness she 
kissed him at twelve thousand miles' range. 

The telelectrophonoscopes of the globe were put 
to service now, and for many hours the kings and 
queens of many realms (with here and there a re- 
porter) talked with Szczepanik, and praised him ; 
and the few scientific societies which had not already 
made him an honorary member conferred that grace 
upon him. 

How had he come to disappear from among us? 
It was easily explained. He had not grown used to 
being a world-famous person, and had been forced 
to break away from the lionizing that was robbing 
him of all privacy and repose. So he grew a beard, 
put on colored glasses, disguised himself a little in 
other ways, then took a fictitious name, and went 
off to wander about the earth in peace. 

Such is the tale of the drama which began with 
an inconsequential quarrel in Vienna in the spring 
of 1898, and came near ending as a tragedy in the 
spring of 1 904. MARK TWAIN. 

From the "London Times" of 1904 289 


Correspondence of the M London Times." 

Chicago, April 5, 1904. 

TO-DAY, by a clipper of the Electric Line, and 
the latter's Electric Railway connections, ar- 
rived an envelope from Vienna, for Captain Clay- 
ton, containing an English farthing. The receiver 
of it was a good deal moved. He called up Vienna, 
and stood face to face with Mr. K., and said: 

11 I do not need to say anything; you can see it 
all in my face. My wife has the farthing. Do not 
be afraid — she will not throw it away." M. T. 


Correspondence of the ** London Times." 

Chicago, April 23, 1904. 

NOW that the after developments of the Clayton 
case have run their course and reached a 
finish, I will sum them up. Clayton's romantic 
escape from a shameful death steeped all this region 
in an enchantment of wonder and joy — during the 
proverbial nine days. Then the sobering process 
followed, and men began to take thought, and to 
say: ** But a man was killed, and Clayton killed 
him." Others replied: "That is true: we have 
been overlooking that important detail; we have 
been led away by excitement." 

The feeling soon became general that Clayton 
ought to be tried again. Measures were taken 

290 From the "London Times'' of 1904 

accordingly, and the proper representations con- 
veyed to Washington; for in America, under the 
new paragraph added to the Constitution in 1S99, 
second trials are not State affairs, but national, and 
must be tried by the most august body in the land 
— the Supreme Court of the United States. The 
justices were, therefore, summoned to sit in Chicago. 
The session was held day before yesterday, and 
was opened with the usual impressive formalities, 
the nine judges appearing in their black robes, and 
the new chief justice (Lemaitre) presiding. In 
opening the case, the chief justice said : 

' * It is my opinion that this matter is quite simple. 
The prisoner at the bar was charged with murdering 
the man Szczepanik; he was tried for murdering the 
man Szczepanik; he was fairly tried, and justly con- 
demned and sentenced to death for murdering the 
man Szczepanik. It turns out that the man Szcze- 
panik was not murdered at all. By the decision of 
the French courts in the Dreyfus matter, it is 
established beyond cavil or question that the de- 
cisions of courts are permanent and cannot be re- 
vised. We are obliged to respect and adopt this 
precedent. It is upon precedents that the enduring 
edifice of jurisprudence is reared. The prisoner at 
the bar has been fairly and righteously condemned to 
death for the murder of the man Szczepanik, and, in 
my opinion, there is but one course to pursue in the 
matter: he must be hanged." 

Mr. Justice Crawford said : 

From the " London Times " of 1904 291 

" But, your Excellency, he was pardoned on the 
scaffold for that." 

" The pardon is not valid, and cannot stand, 
because he was pardoned for killing a man whom he 
had not killed. A man cannot be pardoned for a 
crime which he has not committed ; it would be an 

'* But, your Excellency, he did kill a man." 

" That is an extraneous detail; we have nothing 
to do with it. The court cannot take up this crime 
until the prisoner has expiated the other one." 

Mr. Justice Halleck said : 

" If we order his execution, your Excellency, we 
shall bring about a miscarriage of justice; for the 
governor will pardon him again." 

" He will not have the power. He cannot pardon 
a man for a crime which he has not committed. As 
I observed before, it would be an absurdity." 

After a consultation, Mr. Justice Wadsworth said: 
Several of us have arrived at the conclusion , 
your Excellency, that it would be an error to hang 
the prisoner for killing Szczepanik, but only for 
killing the other man, since it is proven that he did 
not kill Szczepanik." 

"On the contrary, it is proven that he did kill 
Szczepanik. By the French precedent, it is plain 
that we must abide by the finding of the court." 

'* But Szczepanik is still alive." 

* 4 So is Dreyfus." 

In the end it was found impossible to ignore or 

85 * * 

292 From the " London Times " of 1904 

get around the French precedent. There could be 
but one result: Clayton was delivered over to the 
executioner. It made an immense excitement; the 
State rose as one man and clamored for Clayton's 
pardon and re-trial. The governor issued the 
pardon, but the Supreme Court was in duty bound 
to annul it, and did so, and poor Clayton was 
hanged yesterday. The city is draped in black, and, 
indeed, the like may be said of the State. All 
America is vocal with scorn of " French justice," 
and of the malignant little soldiers who invented it 
and inflicted it upon the other Christian lands. 


THIS establishment's name is Hochberghaus. It 
is in Bohemia, a short day's journey from 
Vienna, and being in the Austrian empire is, of 
course, a health resort. The empire is made up of 
health resorts; it distributes health to the whole 
world. Its waters are all medicinal. They are 
bottled and sent throughout the earth; the natives 
themselves drink beer. This is self-sacrifice, appar- 
ently — but outlanders who have drunk Vienna beer 
have another idea about it. Particularly the Pilse- 
ner which one gets in a small cellar up an obscure 
back lane in the First Bezirk — the name has escaped 
me, but the place is easily found : You inquire for 
the Greek church; and when you get to it, go right 
along by — the next house is that little beer-mill. 
It is remote from all traffic and all noise ; it is always 
Sunday there. There are two small rooms, with low 
ceilings supported by massive arches; the arches and 
ceilings are whitewashed, otherwise the rooms would 
pass for cells in the dungeons of a bastile. The 
furniture is plain and cheap, there is no ornamen- 
tation anywhere ; yet it is a heaven for the self- 
sacrificers, for the beer there is incomparable; there 


294 At the Appetite Cure 

is nothing like it elsewhere in the world. In the first 
room you will find twelve or fifteen ladies and gentle- 
men of civilian quality; in the other one a dozen 
generals and ambassadors. One may live in Vienna 
many months and not hear of this place ; but having 
once heard of it and sampled it the sampler will 
afterward infest it, 

However, this is all incidental — a mere passing 
note of gratitude for blessings received — it has 
nothing to do with my subject. My subject is health 
resorts. All unhealthy people ought to domicile 
themselves in Vienna, and use that as a base, 
making flights from time to time to the outlying 
resorts, according to need. A flight to Marien- 
bad to get rid of fat; a flight to Carlsbad to get 
rid of rheumatism ; a flight to Kaltenleutgeben to 
take the water cure and get rid of the rest of the 
diseases. It is all so handy. You can stand in 
Vienna and toss a biscuit into Kaltenleutgeben, 
with a twelve-inch gun. You can run out thither 
at any time of the day; you go by the phenom- 
enally slow trains, and yet inside of an hour you 
have exchanged the glare and swelter of the city 
for wooded hills, and shady forest paths, and soft 
cool airs, and the music of birds, and the repose 
and peace of paradise. 

And there are plenty of other health resorts at 
your service and convenient to get at from Vienna; 
charming places, all of them ; Vienna sits in the 
center of a beautiful world of mountains with now 

At the Appetite Cure 295 

and then a lake and forests ; in fact, no other city 
is so fortunately situated. 

There are abundance of health resorts, as I have 
said. Among them this place — Hochberghaus. It 
stands solitary on the top of a densely wooded 
mountain, and is a building of great size. It is 
called the Appetite Anstallt, and people who have 
lost their appetites come here to get them restored. 
When I arrived I was taken by Professor Haimberger 
to his consulting-room and questioned : 

41 It is six o'clock. When did you eat last? " 

"At noon." 

44 What did you eat?" 

44 Next to nothing." 

44 What was on the table?" 

41 The usual things." 

44 Chops, chickens, vegetables, and so on?" 

44 Yes; but don't mention them — I can't bear 

44 Are you tired of them?" 

44 Oh, utterly. I wish I might neve; hear of them 

44 The mere sight of food offends you, does it? " 

44 More, it revolts me." 

The doctor considered awhile, then got out a long 
menu and ran his eye slowly down it. 

44 I think," said he, 44 that what you need to eat 
is — but here, choose for yourself." 

I glanced at the list, and my stomach threw a 
handspring. Of all the barbarous layouts that were 

296 At the Appetite Cure 

ever contrived, this was the most atrocious. At the 
top stood " tough, underdone, overdue tripe, 
garnished with garlic " ; half-way down the bill stood 
" young cat; old cat; scrambled cat"; at the 
bottom stood M sailor-boots, softened with tallow — 
served raw." The wide intervals of the bill were 
packed with dishes calculated to insult a cannibal. 
I said : 

44 Doctor, it is not fair to joke over so serious a 
case as mine. I came here to get an appetite, not to 
throw away the remnant that's left." 

He said gravely: " I am not joking, why should 
I joke?" 

44 But I can't eat these horrors." 

44 Why not?" 

He said it with a naivete that was admirable, 
whether it was real or assumed. 

44 Why not? Because — why, doctor, for months 
I have seldom been able to endure anything more 
substantial than omelettes and custards. These un- 
speakable dishes of yours — " 

44 Oh, you will come to like them. They are very 
good. And you must eat them. It is the rule of 
the place, and is strict. I cannot permit any de- 
parture from it." 

I said smiling: 44 Well, then, doctor, you will have 
to permit the departure of the patient. I am 

He looked hurt, and said in a way which changed 
the aspect of things : 

At the Appetite Cure 297 

• i 

I am sure you would not do me that injustice. 
I accepted you in good faith — you will not shame 
that confidence. This appetite-cure is my whole 
living. If you should go forth from it with the sorf 
of appetite which you now have, it could become 
known, and you can see, yourself, that people would 
say my cure failed in your case and hence can fail 
in other cases. You will not go; you will not do 
me this hurt." 

I apologized and said I would stay. 

"That is right. I was sure you would not go; 
it would take the food from my family's mouths." 

II Would they mind that? Do they eat these fiend- 
ish things?" 

"They? My family?" His eyes were full of 
gentle wonder. "Of course not." 

" Oh, they don't! Do you?" 

" Certainly not." 

" I see. It's another case of a physician who 
doesn't take his own medicine." 

" I don't need it. It is six hours since you 
lunched. Will you have supper now — or later?" 

11 I am not hungry, but now is as good a time as 
any, and I would like to be done with it and have it 
off my mind. It is about my usual time, and regularity 
is commanded by all the authorities. Yes, I will try 
to nibble a little now — I wish a light horsewhipping 
would answer instead." 

The professor handed me that odious menu. 

" Choose — or will you have it later?" 

298 At the Appetite Cure 

M Oh, dear me, show me to my room; I forgot 
your hard rule." 

" Wait just a moment before you finally decide. 
There is another rule. If you choose now, the order 
will be filled at once ; but if you wait, you will have 
to await my pleasure. You cannot get a dish from 
that entire bill until I consent.' ' 

" All right. Show me to my room, and send the 
cook to bed; there is not going to be any hurry.' ' 

The professor took me up one flight of stairs and 
showed me into a most inviting and comfortable apart- 
ment consisting of parlor, bedchamber, and bath- 

The front windows looked out over a far-reaching 
spread of green glades and valleys, and tumbled hills 
clothed with forests — a noble solitude unvexed by 
the fussy world. In the parlor were many shelves 
filled with books. The professor said he would now 
leave me to myself; and added : 

" Smoke and read as much as you please, drink 
all the water you like. When you get hungry, ring 
and give your order, and I will decide whether it shall 
be filled or not. Yours is a stubborn, bad case, and 
I think the first fourteen dishes in the bill are each 
and all too delicate for its needs. I ask you as a 
favor to restrain yourself and not call for them." 

** Restrain myself, is it? Give yourself no uneasi- 
ness. You are going to save money by me. The 
idea of coaxing a sick man's appetite back with this 
buzzard-fare is clear insanity." 

At the Appetite Cure 299 

I said it with bitterness, for I felt outraged by this 
calm, cold talk over these heartless new engines of 
assassination. The doctor looked grieved, but not 
offended. He laid the bill of fare on the commode 
at my bed's head, " so that it would be handy," 
and said : 

M Yours is not the worst case I have encountered, 
by any means; still it is a bad one and requires 
robust treatment ; therefore I shall be gratified if you 
will restrain yourself and skip down to No. 15 and 
begin with that." 

Then he left me and I began to undress, for I was 
dog-tired and very sleepy. I slept fifteen hours and 
woke up finely refreshed at ten the next morning, 
Vienna coffee ! It was the first thing I thought of — 
that unapproachable luxury — that sumptuous coffee- 
house coffee, compared with which all other European 
coffee and all American hotel coffee is mere fluid 
poverty. I rang, and ordered it; also Vienna bread, 
that delicious invention. The servant spoke through 
the wicket in the door and said — but you know what 
he said. He referred me to the bill of fare. I 
allowed him to go — I had no further use for him. 

After the bath I dressed and started for a walk, 
and got as far as the door. It was locked on the 
outside. I rang and the servant came and explained 
that it was another rule. The seclusion of the patient 
was required until after the first meal. I had not 
been particularly anxious to get out before; but it 
was different now. Being locked in makes a person 

300 At the Appetite Cure 

wishful to get out. I soon began to find it difficult 
to put in the time. At two o'clock I had been 
twenty-six hours without food. I had been growing 
hungry for some time; I recognized that I was 
not only hungry now, but hungry with a strong 
adjective in front of it. Yet I was not hungry 
enough to face the bill of fare. 

I must put in the time somehow. I would read 
and smoke. I did it; hour by hour. The books 
were all of one breed — shipwrecks ; people lost in 
deserts; people shut up in caved-in mines ; people 
starving in besieged cities. I read about all the 
revolting dishes that ever famishing men had stayed 
their hunger with. During the first hours these things 
nauseated me ; hours followed in which they did not 
so affect me ; still other hours followed in which I 
found myself smacking my lips over some tolerably 
infernal messes. When I had been without food 
forty-five hours I ran eagerly to the bell and ordered 
the second dish in the bill, which was a sort of 
dumplings containing a compost made of caviar and 

It was refused me. During the next fifteen hours 
I visited the bell every now and then and ordered a 
dish that was further down the list. Always a re- 
fusal. But I was conquering prejudice after prej- 
udice, right along; I was making sure progress; I 
was creeping up on No. 15 with deadly certainty, 
and my heart beat faster and faster, my hopes rose 
higher and higher. 

At the Appetite Cure 301 

At last when food had not passed my lips for 
sixty hours, victory was mine, and I ordered No. 

44 Soft-boiled spring chicken — in the egg; six 
dozen, hot and fragrant!" 

In fifteen minutes it was there ; and the doctor 
along with it, rubbing his hands with joy. He said 
with great excitement : 

44 It's a cure, it's a cure! I knew I could do it. 
Dear sir, my grand system never fails — never. 
You've got your appetite back — you know you 
have; say it and make me happy." 

44 Bring on your carrion — I can eat anything in 
the bill!" 

44 Oh, this is noble, this is splendid — but I knew 
I could do it, the system never fails. How are the 

44 Never was anything so delicious in the world; 
and yet as a rule I don't care for game. But don't 
interrupt me, don't — I can't spare my mouth, I 
really can't." 

Then the doctor said : 

44 The cure is perfect. There is no more doubt 
nor danger. Let the poultry alone ; I can trust you 
with a beefsteak, now." 

The beefsteak came — as much as a basketful of 
it — with potatoes, and Vienna bread and coffee; 
and I ate a meal then that was worth all the costly 
preparation I had made for it. And dripped tears 
of gratitude into the gravy all the time — gratitude 


302 At the Appetite Cure 

to the doctor for putting a little plain common sense 
into me when I had been empty of it so many, many 


Thirty years ago Haimberger went off on a long 
voyage in a sailing-ship. There were fifteen pas- 
sengers on board. The table-fare was of the regula- 
tion pattern of the day: At 7 in the morning, a cup 
of bad coffee in bed; at 9, breakfast: bad coffee, 
with condensed milk ; soggy rolls, crackers, salt fish ; 
at 1 P. M., luncheon: cold tongue, cold ham, cold 
corned beef , soggy cold rolls, crackers; 5 P. M., 
dinner: thick pea soup, salt fish, hot corned beef 
and sauerkraut, boiled pork and beans, pudding; 
9 till 11 P. M., supper: tea, with condensed 
milk, cold tongue, cold ham, pickles, sea biscuit, 
pickled oysters, pickled pig's feet, grilled bones, 
golden buck. 

At the end of the first week eating had ceased, 
nibbling had taken its place. The passengers came 
to the table, but it was partly to put in the time, and 
partly because the wisdom of the ages commanded 
them to be regular in their meals. They were tired 
of the coarse and monotonous fare, and took no 
interest in it, had no appetite for it. All day 
and every day they roamed the ship half hungry, 
plagued by their gnawing stomachs, moody, untalk- 
ative, miserable. Among them were three confirmed 
dyspeptics. These became shadows in the course 
of three weeks. There was also a bedridden invalid; 

At the Appetite Cure }0} 

he lived on boiled rice; he could not look at the 
regular dishes. 

Now came shipwreck and life in open boats, 
with the usual paucity of food. Provisions ran lower 
and lower. The appetites improved, then. When 
nothing was left but raw ham and the ration of that 
was down to two ounces a day per person, the 
appetites were perfect. At the end of fifteen days 
the dyspeptics, the invalid and the most delicate 
ladies in the party were chewing sailor-boots in 
ecstasy, and only complaining because the supply of 
them was limited. Yet these were the same people 
who couldn't endure the ship's tedious corned beef 
and sauerkraut and other crudities. They were 
rescued by an English vessel. Within ten days the 
whole fifteen were in as good condition as they had 
been when the shipwreck occurred. 

"They had suffered no damage by their adven- 
ture," said the professor. "Do you note that?" 


" Do you note it well?" 

-Yes — I think I do." 

*' But you don't. You hesitate. You don't 
rise to the importance of it. I will say it again 
— with emphasis — not one of them suffered any 

11 Now I begin to see. Yes, it was indeed re- 

11 Nothing of the kind. It was perfectly natural. 
There was no reason why they should suffer damage. 

304 At the Appetite Cure 

They were undergoing Nature's Appetite Cure, the 
best and wisest in the world." 

" Is that where you got your idea?" 

'* That is where I got it." 

" It taught those people a valuable lesson." 

M What makes you think that?" 

" Why shouldn't I? You seem to think it taught 
you one." 

" That is nothing to the point. I am not a 

11 I see. Were they fools?" 

" They were human beings." 

! * Is it the same thing?" 

" Why do you ask? You know it yourself. As 
regards his health — and the rest of the things — 
the average man is what his environment and his 
superstitions have made him ; and their function is 
to make him an ass. He can't add up three or four 
new circumstances together and perceive what they 
mean; it is beyond him. He is not capable of 
observing for himself. He has to get everything 
at second-hand. If what are miscalled the lower 
animals were as silly as man is, they would all perish 
from the earth in a year." 

" Those passengers learned no lesson, then?" 

"Not a sign of it. They went to their regular 
meals in the English ship, and pretty soon they were 
nibbling again — nibbling, appetiteless, disgusted 
with the food, moody, miserable, half hungry, their 
outraged stomachs cursing and swearing and whining 

At the Appetite Cure 305 

and supplicating all daylong. And in vain, for they 
were the stomachs of fools/' 

44 Then as I understand it, your scheme is — " 
*' Quite simple. Don't eat till you are hungry. 
If the food fails to taste good, fails to satisfy you, 
rejoice you, comfort you, don't eat again until 
you are very hungry. Then it will rejoice you — 
and do you good, too." 

11 And I observe no regularity, as to hours?" 
44 When you are conquering a bad appetite — no. 
After it is conquered, regularity is no harm, so long 
as the appetite remains good. As soon as the 
appetite wavers, apply the corrective again — - which 
is starvation, long or short according to the needs of 
the case." 

44 The best diet, I suppose — I mean the whole- 
somest " 

1 < 

All diets are wholesome. Some are wholesomer 
than others, but all the ordinary diets are wholesome 
enough for the people who use them. Whether the 
food be fine or coarse, it will taste good and it will 
nourish if a watch be kept upon the appetite and a 
little starvation introduced every time it weakens. 
Nansen was used to fine fare, but when his meals 
were restricted to bear-meat months at a time he 
suffered no damage and no discomfort, because his 
appetite was kept at par through the difficulty of 
getting his bear-meat regularly." 

44 But doctors arrange carefully considered and 

delicate diets for invalids." 
20%» # 

306 At the Appetite Cure 

" They can't help it. The invalid is full of in- 
herited superstitions and won't starve himself. He 
believes it would certainly kill him." 

44 It would weaken him, wouldn't it?" 

" Nothing to hurt. Look at the invalids in our 
shipwreck. They lived fifteen days on pinches of 
raw ham, a suck at sailor-boots, and general 
starvation. It weakened them, but it didn't hurt 
them. It put them in fine shape to eat heartily of 
hearty food and build themselves up to a condition 
of robust health. But they did not perceive that; 
they lost their opportunity; they remained invalids; 
it served them right. Do you know the tricks that 
the health-resort doctors play?" 

44 What is it?" 

14 My system disguised — covert starvation. 
Grape-cure, bath-cure, mud-cure — it is all the same. 
The grape and the bath and the mud make a show 
and do a trifle of the work — the real work is done 
by the surreptitious starvation. The patient ac- 
customed to four meals and late hours — at both 
ends of the day — now consider what he has to do 
at a health resort. He gets up at 6 in the morning. 
Eats one egg. Tramps up and down a promenade 
two hours with the other fools. Eats a butterfly. 
Slowly drinks a glass of filtered sewage that smells 
like a buzzard's breath. Promenades another two 
hours, but alone; if you speak to him he says 
anxiously, 4 My water ! — I am walking off my 
water! — please don't interrupt,' and goes stumping 



At the Appetite Cure 307 

along again. Eats a candied rose-leaf. Lies at rest 
in the silence and solitude of his room for hours; 
mustn't speak, mustn't read, mustn't smoke. The 
doctor comes and feels of his heart, now, and his 
pulse, and thumps his breast and his back and his 
stomach, and listens for results through a penny 
flageolet ; then orders the man's bath — half a degree, 
Reaumur, cooler than yesterday. After the bath, 
another egg. A glass of sewage at 3 or 4 in the 
afternoon, and promenade solemnly with the other 
freaks. Dinner at 6 — half a doughnut and a cup 
of tea. Walk again. Half-past 8, supper — more 
butterfly; at 9, to bed. Six weeks of this regime 
— think of it. It starves a man out and puts him in 
splendid condition. It would have the same effect 
in London, New York, Jericho — anywhere." 

*• How long does it take to put a person in con- 
dition here?" 

" It ought to take but a day or two; but in fact 
it takes from one to six weeks, according to the 
character and mentality of the patient." 
" How is that?" 

" Do you see that crowd of women playing foot- 
ball, and boxing, and jumping fences yonder? They 
have been here six or seven weeks. They were 
spectral poor weaklings when they came. They 
were accustomed to nibbling at dainties and delicacies 
at set hours four times a day, and they had no 
appetite for anything. I questioned them, and then 
locked them into their rooms, the frailest ones to 

T'Jfr ♦ 

308 At the Appetite Cure 

starve nine or ten hours, the others twelve or fifteen. 
Before long they began to beg; and indeed they 
suffered a good deal. They complained of nausea, 
headache, and so on. It was good to see them eat 
when the time was up. They could not remember 
when the devouring of a meal had afforded them 
such rapture — that was their word. Now, then, 
that ought to have ended their cure, but it didn't. 
They were free to go to any meals in the house, and 
they chose their accustomed four. Within a day or 
two I had to interfere. Their appetites were 
weakening. I made them knock out a meal. That 
set them up again. Then they resumed the four. I 
begged them to learn to knock out a meal themselves, 
without waiting for me. Up to a fortnight ago they 
couldn't; they really hadn't manhood enough; but 
they were gaining it, and now I think they are safe. 
They drop out a meal every now and then of their 
own accord. They are in fine condition now, and 
they might safely go home, I think, but their con- 
fidence is not quite perfect yet, so they are waiting 

M Other cases are different?" 

11 Oh, yes. Sometimes a man learns the whole 
trick in a week. Learns to regulate his appetite and 
keep it in perfect order. Yearns to drop out a meal 
with frequency and not mind it." 

" But why drop the entire meal out? Why not a 
pait of it?" 

" It's a poor device, and inadequate. If the 

At the Appetite Cure 309 

stomach doesn't call vigorously — with a shout, as 
you may say — it is better not to pester it but just 
give it a real rest. Some people can eat more meals 
than others, and still thrive. There are all sorts of 
people, and all sorts of appetites. I will show you 
a man presently who was accustomed to nibble at 
eight meals a day. It was beyond the proper gait 
of his appetite by two. I have got him down to 
six a day, now, and he is all right, and enjoys life. 
How many meals do you effect per day?" 

44 Formerly — for twenty-two years — a meal and 
a half; during the past two years, two and a half: 
coffee and a roll at 9, luncheon at 1, dinner at 7:30 
or 8." 

"Formerly a meal and a half — that is, coffee 
and a roll at 9, dinner in the evening, nothing 
between — is that it?" 

44 Yes." 

44 Why did you add a meal?" 

44 It was the family's idea. They were uneasy. 
They thought I was killing myself." 

44 You found a meal and a half per day enough, 
all through the twenty- two years?" 

44 Plenty." 

44 Your present poor condition is due to the extra 
meal. Drop it out. You are trying to eat oftener 
than your stomach demands. You don't gain, you 
lose. You eat less food now, in a day, on two and 
a half meals, than you formerly ate on one and a 

3 10 At the Appetite Cure 

" True — a good deal less; for in those old days 
ray dinner was a very sizable thing." 

" Put yourself on a single meal a day, now — 
dinner — for a few days, till you secure a good, 
sound, regular, trustworthy appetite, then take to 
your one and a half permanently, and don't listen to 
the family any more. When you have any ordinary 
ailment, particularly of a feverish sort, eat nothing 
at all during twenty-four hours. That will cure it. 
It will cure the stubbornest cold in the head, too. 
No cold in the head can survive twenty-four hours 
on modified starvation.' ' 

" I know it. I have proved it many a time." 


Died August 18, 1896; Aged 24 

IN a fair valley — oh, how long ago, how long ago ! 
Where all the broad expanse was clothed in vines 
And fruitful fields and meadows starred with flowers, 
And clear streams wandered at their idle will, 
And still lakes slept, their burnished surfaces 
A dream of painted clouds, and soft airs 
Went whispering with odorous breath, 
And all was peace — in that fair vale, 
Shut from the troubled world, a nameless hamlet 

Hard by, apart, a temple stood ; 

And strangers from the outer world 

Passing, noted it with tired eyes, 

And seeing, saw it not: 

A glimpse of its fair form — an answering momen- 
tary thrill — 

And they passed on, careless and unaware. 

They could not know the cunning of its make; 
They could not know the secret shut up in its heart; 
Only the dwellers of the hamlet knew: 


312 In Memoriam 

They knew that what seemed brass was gold ; 

What marble seemed, was ivory; 

The glories that enriched the milky surfaces — 

The trailing vines, and interwoven flowers, 

And tropic birds awing, clothed all in tinted fire — 

They knew for what they were, not what they 

seemed : 
Encrustings all of gems, not perishable splendors of 

the brush. 
They knew the secret spot where one must stand — 
They knew the surest hour, the proper slant of 

sun — 
To gather in, unmarred, undimmed, 
The vision of the fane in all its fairy grace, 
A fainting dream against the opal sky. 

And more than this. They knew 
That in the temple's inmost place a spirit dwelt, 
Made all of light ! 

For glimpses of it they had caught 
Beyond the curtains when the priests 
That served the altar came and went. 

All loved that light and held it dear 
That had this partial grace ; 
But the adoring priests alone who lived 
By day and night submerged in its immortal glow 
Knew all its power and depth, and could appraise 

the loss 
If it should fade and fail and come no more. 

All this was long ago — so long ago ! 

In Memoriam 313 

The light burned on ; and they that worship'd it, 
And they that caught its flash at intervals and held 

it dear, 
Contented lived in its secure possession. Ah, 
How long ago it was ! 

And then when they 
Were nothing fearing, and God's peace was in the 

And none was prophesying harm — 
The vast disaster fell : 

Where stood the temple when the sun went down, 
Was vacant desert when it rose again ! 

Ah, yes ! 'Tis ages since it chanced ! 

So long ago it was, 
That from the memory of the hamlet-folk the Light 

has passed — 
They scarce believing, now, that once it was, 
Or, if believing, yet not missing it, 
And reconciled to have it gone. 

Not so the priests ! Oh, not so 
The stricken ones that served it day and night, 
Adoring it, abiding in the healing of its peace: 
They stand, yet, where erst they stood 
Speechless in that dim morning long ago; 
And still they gaze, as then they gazed, 
And murmur, " It will come again; 
It knows our pain — it knows — it knows — 
Ah, surely it will come again." 

Lake Lucerne, August 18, 1897. 




IN 1835 the creation of the Western empire of 
America had just begun. In the whole region 
west of the Mississippi, which now contains 21,- 
000,000 people — nearly twice the entire popula- 
tion of the United States at that time — there were 
less than half a million white inhabitants. There 
were only two states beyond the great river, Loui- 
siana and Missouri. There were only two con- 
siderable groups of population, one about New 
Orleans, the other about St. Louis. If we omit 
New Orleans, which is east of the river, there was 
only one place in all that vast domain with any 
pretension to be called a city. That was St. 
Louis, and that metropolis, the wonder and pride 
of all the Western country, had no more than 
10,000 inhabitants. 

It was in this frontier region, on the extreme fringe 
of settlement *' that just divides the desert from the 
sown," that Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born, 
November 30, 1835, in the hamlet of Florida, Mis- 
souri. His parents had come there to be in the 


A Biographical Sketch 315 

thick of the Western boom, and by a fate for 
which no lack of foresight on their part was to 
blame, they found themselves in a place which 
succeeded in accumulating 125 inhabitants in the 
next sixty years. When we read of the west- 
ward sweep of population and wealth in the United 
States, it seems as if those who were in the van 
of that movement must have been inevitably car- 
ried on to fortune. But that was a tide full of 
eddies and back currents, and Mark Twain's parents 
possessed a faculty for finding them that appears 
nothing less than miraculous. The whole Western 
empire was before them where to choose. They 
could have bought the entire site of Chicago for a 
pair of boots. They could have taken up a farm 
within the present city limits of St. Louis. What 
they actually did was to live for a time in Columbia, 
Kentucky, with a small property in land, and six 
inherited slaves, then to move to Jamestown, on the 
Cumberland plateau of Tennessee, a place that was 
then no farther removed from the currents of the 
world's life than Uganda, but which no resident of 
that or any other part of Central Africa would now 
regard as a serious competitor, and next to migrate 
to Missouri, passing St. Louis and settling first in 
Florida, and afterward in Hannibal. But when the 
whole map was blank the promise of fortune glowed 
as rosily in these regions as anywhere else. Florida 
had great expectations when Jackson was President. 
When John Marshall Clemens took up 80,000 acres 

316 Mark Twain 

of land in Tennessee, he thought he had established 
his children as territorial magnates. That phantom 
vision of wealth furnished later one of the motives 
of " The Gilded Age." It conferred no other 

If Samuel Clemens missed a fortune he inherited 
good blood. On both sides his family had been 
settled in the South since early colonial times. His 
father, John Marshall Clemens, of Virginia, was a 
descendant of Gregory Clemens, who became one of 
the judges that condemned Charles I. to death, was 
excepted from the amnesty after the Restoration in 
consequence, and lost his head. A cousin of John 
M. Clemens, Jeremiah Clemens, represented Alabama 
in the United States Senate from 1849 to 1853. 

Through his mother, Jane Lampton (Lambton), 
the boy was descended from the Lambtons of Dur- 
ham, whose modern English representatives still 
possess the lands held by their ancestors of the same 
name since the twelfth century. Some of her for- 
bears on the maternal side, the Montgomerys, went 
with Daniel Boone to Kentucky, and were in the thick 
of the romantic and tragic events that accompanied 
the settlement of the " Dark and Bloody Ground," 
and she herself was born there twenty-nine years after 
the first log cabin was built within the limits of the 
present commonwealth. She was one of the earliest, 
prettiest, and brightest of the many belles that have 
given Kentucky such an enviable reputation as a 
nursery of fair women, and her vivacity and wit left 

A Biographical Sketch 317 

no doubt in the minds of her friends concerning the 
source of her son's genius. 

John Marshall Clemens, who had been trained for 
the bar in Virginia, served for some years as a mag- 
istrate at Hannibal, holding for a time the position 
of county judge. With his death, in March, 1847, 
Mark Twain's formal education came to an end, and 
his education in real life began. He had always been 
a delicate boy, and his father, in consequence, had 
been lenient in the matter of enforcing attendance at 
school, although he had been profoundly anxious 
that his children should be well educated. His wish 
was fulfilled, although not in the way he had expected. 
It is a fortunate thing for literature that Mark Twain 
was never ground into smooth uniformity under the 
scholastic emery wheel. He has made the world his 
university, and in men, and books, and strange places, 
and all the phases of an infinitely varied life, has 
built an education broad and deep, on the foundations 
of an undisturbed individuality. 

His high school was a village printing-office, where 
his elder brother Orion was conducting a newspaper. 
The thirteen-year-old boy served in all capacities, 
and in the occasional absences of his chief he reveled 
in personal journalism, with original illustrations 
hacked on wooden blocks with a jackknife, to an 
extent that riveted the town's attention, M but not its 
admiration," as his brother plaintively confessed. 
The editor spoke with feeling, for he had to take the 
consequences of these exploits on his return. 

21 E 

3 18 Mark Twain 

From his earliest childhood young Clemens had 
been of an adventurous disposition. Before he was 
thirteen, he had been extracted three times from the 
Mississippi, and six times from Bear Creek, in a sub- 
stantially drowned condition, but his mother, with 
the high confidence in his future that never deserted 
her, merely remarked: " People who are born to be 
hanged are safe in the water." By 1853 the Han- 
nibal tether had become too short for him. He 
disappeared from home and wandered from one 
Eastern printing-office to another. He saw the 
World's Fair at New York, and other marvels, 
and supported himself by setting type. At the 
end of this Wandcrjahr financial stress drove him 
back to his family. He lived at St. Louis, Mus- 
catine, and Keokuk until 1857, when he induced 
the great Horace Bixby to teach him the mystery 
of steamboat piloting. The charm of all this 
warm, indolent existence in the sleepy river towns 
has colored his whole subsequent life. In "Tom 
Sawyer," "Huckleberry Finn," "Life on the 
Mississippi," and " Pudd'nhead Wilson," every 
phase of that vanished estate is lovingly dwelt upon. 

Native character will always make itself felt, but 
one may wonder whether Mark Twain's humor would 
have developed in quite so sympathetic and buoyant 
a vein if he had been brought up in Ecclefechan 
instead of in Hannibal, and whether Carlyle might 
not have been a little more human if he had spent his 
boyhood in Hannibal instead of in Ecclefechan. 

A Biographical Sketch 3 19 

A Mississippi pilot in the later fifties was a 
personage of imposing grandeur. He was a miracle 
of attainments ; he was the absolute master of his 
boat while it was under way, and just before his 
fall he commanded a salary precisely equal to that 
earned at that time by the Vice-President of the 
United States or a Justice of the Supreme Court. 
The best proof of the superlative majesty and desira- 
bility of his position is the fact that Samuel Clemens 
deliberately subjected himself to the incredible labor 
necessary to attain it — a labor compared with which 
the efforts needed to acquire the degree of Doctor of 
Philosophy at a University are as light as a sum- 
mer course of modern novels. To appreciate the 
full meaning of a pilot's marvelous education, one 
must read the whole of "Life on the Mississippi," 
but this extract may give a partial idea of a 
single feature of that training — the cultivation of 
the memory: 

11 First of all, there is one faculty which a pilot 
must incessantly cultivate until he has brought it to 
absolute perfection. Nothing short of perfection 
will do. That faculty is memory. He cannot stop 
with merely thinking a thing is so and so; he must 
know it; for this is eminently one of the exact sci- 
ences. With what scorn a pilot was looked upon, in 
the old times, if he ever ventured to deal in that 
feeble phrase ' I think,' instead of the vigorous one 
'I know!' One cannot easily realize what a tre- 
mendous thing it is to know every trivial detail of 

320 Mark Twain 

twelve hundred miles of river, and know it with 
absolute exactness. If you will take the longest 
street in New York, and travel up and down it, 
conning its features patiently until you know every 
house, and window, and door, and lamp-post, and 
big and little sign by heart, and know them so 
accurately that you can instantly name the one 
you are abreast of when you are set down at 
random in that street in the middle of an inky 
black night, you will then have a tolerable notion 
of the amount and the exactness of a pilot's knowl- 
edge who carries the Mississippi River in his head. 
And then, if you will go on until you know every 
street crossing, the character, size, and position of 
the crossing-stones, and the varying depth of mud 
in each of those numberless places, you will have 
some idea of what the pilot must know in order to 
keep a Mississippi steamer out of trouble. Next, if 
you will take half of the signs in that long street and 
cliange their places once a month, and still manage to 
know their new positions accurately on dark nights, 
and keep up with these repeated changes without 
making any mistakes, you will understand what is 
required of a pilot's peerless memory by the fickle 

"I think a pilot's memory is about the most 
wonderful thing in the world. To know the Old 
and New Testaments by heart, and be able to recite 
them glibly, forward or backward, or begin at random 
anywhere in the book and recite both ways, and 

A Biographical Sketch 32 1 

never trip or make a mistake, is no extravagant mass 
of knowledge, and no marvelous facility, compared 
to a pilot's massed knowledge of the Mississippi, and 
his marvelous facility in handling it. . . 

44 And how easily and comfortably the pilot's mem- 
ory does its work ; how placidly effortless is its way ; 
how unconsciously it lays up its vast stores, hour by 
hour, day by day, and never loses or mislays a single 
valuable package of them all ! Take an instance. 
Let a leadsman say: * Half tw r ain ! half twain! half 
twain! half twain! half twain!' until it becomes as 
monotonous as the ticking of a clock; let con- 
versation be going on all the time, and the pilot be 
doing his share of the talking, and no longer con- 
sciously listening to the leadsman ; and in the midst 
of this endless string of half twains let a single 
'quarter twain!' be interjected, without emphasis, 
and then the half twain cry go on again, just as 
before: two or three weeks later that pilot can 
describe with precision the boat's position in the river 
when that quarter twain was uttered, and give you 
such a lot of head marks, stern marks, and side marks 
to guide you that you ought to be able to take the 
boat there and put her in that same spot again your- 
self ! The cry of * Quarter twain ' did not really 
take his mind from his talk, but his trained faculties 
instantly photographed the bearings, noted the change 
of depth, and laid up the important details for future 
reference without requiring any assistance from him 

in the matter." 


322 Mark Twain 

Young Clemens went through all that appalling 
training, stored away in his head the bewildering mass 
of knowledge a pilot's duties required, received the 
license that was the diploma of the river university, 
entered into regular employment, and regarded him- 
self as established for life, when the outbreak of the 
Civil War wiped out his occupation at a stroke, and 
made his weary apprenticeship a useless labor. The 
commercial navigation of the lower Mississippi was 
stopped by a line of fire, and black, squat gunboats, 
their sloping sides plated with railroad iron, took the 
place of the gorgeous white side-wheelers, whose 
pilots had been the envied aristocrats of the river 
towns. Clemens was in New Orleans when Louisiana 
seceded, and started North the next day. The boat 
ran a blockade every day of her trip, and on the last 
night of the voyage the batteries at the Jefferson 
barracks, just below St. Louis, fired two shots through 
her chimneys. 

Brought up in a slaveholding atmosphere, Mark 
Twain naturally sympathized at first with the South. 
In June he joined the Confederates in Ralls County, 
Missouri, as a Second Lieutenant under General Tom 
Harris. His military career lasted for two weeks. 
Narrowly missing the distinction of being captured 
by Colonel Ulysses S. Grant, he resigned, explaining 
that he had become " incapacitated by fatigue ' 
through persistent retreating. In his subsequent 
writings he has always treated his brief experience of 
warfare as a burlesque episode, although the official 

A Biographical Sketch 323 

reports and correspondence of the Confederate com- 
manders speak very respectfully of the work of the 
raw countrymen of the Harris Brigade. The elder 
Clemens brother, Orion, was persona grata to the 
Administration of President Lincoln, and received in 
consequence an appointment as the first Secretary of 
the new Territory of Nevada. He offered his speedily 
reconstructed junior the position of private secretary 
to himself, ** with nothing to do and no salary." 
The two crossed the plains in the overland coach in 
eighteen days — almost precisely the time it will take 
to go from New York to Vladivostok when the 
Trans-Siberian Railway is finished. 

A year of variegated fortune hunting among the 
silver mines of the Humboldt and Esmeralda regions 
followed. Occasional letters written during this time 
to the leading newspaper of the Territory, the Virginia 
City Territorial Enterprise, attracted the attention 
of the proprietor, Mr. J. T. Goodman, a man of 
keen and unerring literary instinct, and he offered 
the writer the position of local editor on his staff. 
With the duties of this place were combined those 
of legislative correspondent at Carson City, the 
capital. The work of young Clemens created a sen- 
sation among the lawmakers. He wrote a weekly 
letter, spined with barbed personalities. It ap- 
peared every Sunday, and on Mondays the legis- 
lative business was obstructed with the complaints of 
members who rose to questions of privilege, and ex- 
pressed their opinion of the correspondent with 

324 Mark Twain 

acerbity. This encouraged him to give his letters 
more individuality by signing them. For this pur- 
pose he adopted the old Mississippi leadsman's call 
for two fathoms (twelve feet) — "Mark Twain." 

At that particular period dueling was a passing 
fashion on the Comstock. The refinements of 
Parisian civilization had not penetrated there, and a 
Washoe duel seldom left more than one survivor. 
The weapons were always Colt's navy revolvers — 
distance, fifteen paces; fire and advance; six shots 
allowed. Mark Twain became involved in a quarrel 
with Mr. Laird, the editor of the Virginia Union t and 
the situation seemed to call for a duel. Neither 
combatant was an expert with the pistol, but Mark 
Twain was fortunate enough to have a second who 
was. The men were practicing in adjacent gorges, 
Mr. Laird doing fairly well, and his opponent hitting 
everything but the mark. A small bird lit on a sage 
bush thirty yards away, and Mark Twain's second 
fired and knocired off its head. At that moment the 
enemy came over the ridge, saw the dead bird, 
observed the distance, and learned from Gillis, the 
humorist's second, that the feat had been performed 
by Mark Twain, for whom such an exploit was 
nothing remarkable. They withdrew for consulta- 
tion, and then offered a formal apology, after which 
peace was restored, leaving Mark Twain with the 
honors of war. 

However, this incident was the means of effecting 
another change in his life . There was a new law 

A Biographical Sketch 32$ 

which prescribed two years' imprisonment for any- 
one who should send, carry, or accept a challenge. 
The fame of the proposed duel had reached the 
capital, eighteen miles away, and the governor 
wrathfully gave orders for the arrest of all concerned, 
announcing his intention of making an example that 
would be remembered. A friend of the duelists 
heard of their danger, outrode the officers of the 
law, and hurried the parties over the border into 

Mark Twain found a berth as city editor of the San 
Francisco Morning Call, but he was not adapted to 
routine newspaper work, and in a couple of years he 
made another bid for fortune in the mines. He tried 
the 4< pocket mines " of California, this time, at 
Jackass Gulch, in Calaveras County, but was fortunate 
enough to find no pockets. Thus he escaped the 
hypnotic fascination that has kept some intermittently 
successful pocket miners willing prisoners in Sierra 
cabins for life, and in three months he was back in 
San Francisco, penniless, but in the line of literary 
promotion. He wrote letters for the Virginia Enter- 
prise for a time, but tiring of that, welcomed an 
assignment to visit Hawaii for the Sacramento Union, 
and write about the sugar interests. It was in 
Honolulu that he accomplished one of his greatest 
feats of " straight newspaper work." The clipper 
Hornet had been burned on "the line," and when 
the skeleton survivors arrived, after a passage of 
forty-three days in an open boat on ten days' pro- 

526 Mark Twain 

visions, Mark Twain gathered their stories, worked 
all day and all night, and threw a complete account 
of the horror aboard a schooner that had already 
cast off. It was the only full account that reached 
California, and it was not only a clean " scoop " of 
unusual magnitude, but an admirable piece of literary 
art. The Union testified its appreciation by paying 
the correspondent ten times the current rates for it. 

After six months in the Islands, Mark Twain re- 
turned to California, and made his first venture upon 
the lecture platform. He was warmly received, and 
delivered several lectures with profit. In 1867 he 
went East by way of the Isthmus, and joined the 
Quaker City excursion to Europe and the Hoi)'' Land, 
as correspondent of the Alta California, of San 
Francisco. During this tour of five or six months 
the party visited the principal ports of the Mediter- 
ranean and the Black Sea. From this trip grew 
" The Innocents Abroad," the creator of Mark 
Twain's reputation as a literary force of the first 
order. " The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras 
County" had preceded it, but "The Innocents" 
gave the author his first introduction to international 
literature. A hundred thousand copies were sold 
the first year, and as many more later. 

Four years of lecturing followed — distasteful, but 
profitable. Mark Twain always shrank from the 
public exhibition of himself on the platform, but he 
was a popular favorite there from the first. He was 
one of a little group, including Henry Ward Beecher 

A Biographical Sketch 327 

and two or three others, for whom every lyceum com- 
mittee in the country was bidding, and whose capture 
at any price insured the success of a lecture course. 

The Quaker City excursion had a more important 
result than the production of " The Innocents 
Abroad." Through her brother, who was one of 
the party, Mr. Clemens became acquainted with 
Miss Olivia L. Langdon, the daughter of Jervis 
Langdon, of Elmira, New York, and this acquaint- 
ance led, in February, 1870, to one of the most ideal 
marriages in literary history. 

Four children came of this union. The eldest, 
Langdon, a son, was born in November, 1870, and 
died in 1872. The second, Susan Olivia, a daughter, 
was born in the latter year, and lived only twenty- 
four years, but long enough to develop extraordinary 
mental gifts and every grace of character. Two 
other daughters, Clara Langdon and Jean, were born 
in 1874 and 1880, respectively, and still live (1899). 

Mark Twain's first home as a man of family was 
in Buffalo, in a house given to the bride by her father 
as a wedding present. He bought a third interest 
in a daily newspaper, the Buffalo Express, and 
joined its staff. But his time for jogging in harness 
was past. It was his last attempt at regular news- 
paper work, and a year of it was enough. He had 
become assured of a market for anything he might 
produce, and he could choose his own place and 
time for writing. 

There was a tempting literary colony at Hartford ; 

J28 Mark Twain 

the place was steeped in an atmosphere of antique 
peace and beauty, and the Clemens family were 
captivated by its charm. They moved there in 
October, 1871, and soon built a house which was 
one of the earliest fruits of the artistic revolt against 
the mid-century Philistinism of domestic architecture 
in America. For years it was an object of wonder 
to the simple-minded tourist. The facts that its 
rooms were arranged for the convenience of those 
who were to occupy them, and that its windows, 
gables, and porches were distributed with an eye to 
the beauty, comfort, and picturesqueness of that 
particular house, instead of following the traditional 
lines laid down by the carpenters and contractors 
who designed most of the dwellings of the period, 
distracted the critics, and gave rise to grave dis- 
cussions in the newspapers throughout the country 
of " Mark Twain's practical joke." 

The years that followed brought a steady literary 
development. " Roughing It," which was written 
in 1872, and scored a success hardly second to that 
of " The Innocents," was, like that, simply a 
humorous narrative of personal experiences, varie- 
gated by brilliant splashes of description; but with 
** The Gilded Age," which was produced in the same 
year, in collaboration with Mr. Charles Dudley 
Warner, the humorist began to evolve into the 
philosopher. " Tom Sawyer," appearing in 1876, 
was a veritable manual of boy nature, and its sequel, 
*' Huckleberry Finn,' ' which was published nine years 

A Biographical Sketch 329 

later, was not only an advanced treatise in the same 
science, but a most moving study of the workings 
of the untutored human soul, in boy and man. 
" The Prince and the Pauper," 1882, " A Connecti- 
cut Yankee at King Arthur's Court" (1890), and 
11 Pudd'nhead Wilson " (first published serially in 
1893-94), were all alive with a comprehensive and 
passionate sympathy to which their humor was quite 
subordinate, although Mark Twain never wrote, and 
probably never will write, a book that could be read 
without laughter. His humor is as irrepressible as 
Lincoln's, and like that, it bubbles out on the most 
solemn occasions; but still, again like Lincoln's, it 
has a way of seeming, in spite of the surface in- 
congruity, to belong there. But it was in the 
" Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc," whose 
anonymous serial publication in 1894-95 betrayed 
some critics of reputation into the absurdity of 
attributing it to other authors, notwithstanding the 
characteristic evidences of its paternity that obtruded 
themselves on every page, that Mark Twain became 
most distinctly a prophet of humanity. Here, at 
last, was a book with nothing ephemeral about it — 
one that will reach the elemental human heart as well 
among the flying machines of the next century, as it 
does among the automobiles of to-day, or as it would 
have done among the stage coaches of a hundred 
years ago. 

And side by side with this spiritual growth had 
come a growth in knowledge and in culture. The 

530 Mark Twain 

Mark Twain of " The Innocents," keen-eyed, quick 
of understanding, and full of fresh, eager interest in 
all Europe had to show, but frankly avowing that he 
11 did not know what in the mischief the Renaissance 
was," had developed into an accomplished scholar 
and a man of the world for whom the globe had few 
surprises left. The Mark Twain of 1895 might con- 
ceivably have written " The Innocents Abroad," 
although it would have required an effort to put him- 
self in the necessary frame of mind, but the Mark 
Twain of 1869 could no more have written " Joan 
of Arc " than he could have deciphered the Maya 

In 1873 the family spent some months in England 
and Scotland, and Mr. Clemens lectured for a few 
weeks in London. Another European journey 
followed in 1878. 

" A Tramp Abroad " was the result of this 
tour, which lasted eighteen months. "The Prince 
and the Pauper," "Life on the Mississippi," and 
"Huckleberry Finn" appeared in quick succes- 
sion in 1882, 1883, and 1885. Considerably more 
amusing than anything the humorist ever wrote was 
the fact that the trustees of some village libraries in 
New England solemnly voted that " Huckleberry 
Finn," whose power of moral uplift has hardly been 
surpassed by any book of our time, was too demoral- 
izing to be allowed on their shelves. 

All this time fortune had been steadily favorable, 
and Mark Twain had been spoken of by the press, 

A Biographical Sketch 33 1 

sometimes with admiration, as an example of the 
financial success possible in literature, and sometimes 
with uncharitable envy, as a haughty millionaire, 
forgetful of his humble friends. But now began the 
series of unfortunate investments that swept away 
the accumulations of half a lifetime of hard work, 
and left him loaded with debts incurred by other 
men. In 1885 he financed the publishing house of 
Charles L Webster & Company in New York. The 
firm began business with the prestige of a brilliant 
coup. It secured the publication of the Memoirs 
of General Grant, which achieved a sale of more 
than 600,000 volumes. The first check received 
by the Grant heirs was for $200,000, and this was 
followed a few months later by one for $150,000. 
These are the largest checks ever paid for an author's 
work on either side of the Atlantic. Meanwhile, 
Mr. Clemens was spending great sums on a type- 
setting machine of such seductive ingenuity as to 
captivate the imagination of everybody who saw it. 
It worked to perfection, but it was too complicated 
and expensive for commercial use, and after sinking 
a fortune in it between 1886 and 1889, Mark Twain 
had to write off the whole investment as a dead loss. 
On top of this the publishing house, which had 
been supposed to be doing a profitable business, 
turned out to have been incapably conducted, and 
all the money that came into its hands was lost. 
Mark Twain contributed $65,000 in efforts to save 
its life, but to no purpose, and when it finally failed, 

532 Mark Twain 

he found that it had not only absorbed everything 
he had put in, but had incurred liabilities of $96,000, 
of which less than one-third was covered by assets. 

He could easily have avoided any legal liability for 
the debts, but as the credit of the company had been 
based largely upon his name, he felt bound in honor 
to pay them. In 1895-96 he took his wife and 
second daughter on a lecturing tour around the 
world, wrote " Following the Equator," and cleared 
off the obligations of the house in full. 

The years 1897, 1898, and 1899 were spent in 
England, Switzerland, and Austria. Vienna took 
the family to its heart, and Mark Twain achieved 
such a popularity among all classes there as is rarely 
won by a foreigner anywhere. He saw the manu- 
facture of a good deal of history in that time. It 
was his fortune, for instance, to be present in the 
Austrian Reichsrath on the memorable occasion when 
it was invaded by sixty policemen, and sixteen 
refractory members were dragged roughly out of 
the hall. That momentous event in the progress 
of parliamentary government profoundly impressed 

Mark Twain, although so characteristically Amer- 
ican in every fiber, does not appeal to Americans 
alone, nor even to the English-speaking race. His 
work has stood the test of translation into French, 
German, Russian, Italian, Swedish, Norwegian, and 
Magyar. That is pretty good evidence that it 
possesses the universal quality that marks the master. 

A Biographical Sketch 333 

Another evidence of its fidelity to human nature is 
the readiness with which it lends itself to dramatiza- 
tion. M The Gilded Age," " Tom Sawyer," " The 
Prince and the Pauper," and "Pudd'nhead Wilson " 
have all been successful on the stage. 

In the thirty-eight years of his literary activity 
Mark Twain has seen generation after generation of 
"American humorists" rise, expand into sudden 
popularity, and disappear, leaving hardly a memory 
behind. If he has not written himself out like them., 
if his place in literature has become every year more 
assured, it is because his " humor " has been some- 
thing radically different from theirs. It has been 
irresistibly laughter-provoking, but its sole end has 
never been to make people laugh. Its more im- 
portant purpose has been to make them think and 
feel. And with the progress of the years Mark 
Twain's own thoughts have become finer, his own 
feelings deeper and more responsive. Sympathy 
with the suffering, hatred of injustice and oppression, 
and enthusiasm for all that tends to make the world 
a more tolerable place for mankind to live in, have 
grown with his accumulating knowledge of life as it 
is. That is why Mark Twain has become a classic, 
not only at home, but in all lands whose people read 
and think about the common joys and sorrows of