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Title: The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Volume 1
Author: Bierce, Ambrose, 1842-1914?
Language: English
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Of the many causes that conspired to bring about the lamentable failure of
"self-government" in ancient America the most general and comprehensive
was, of course, the impracticable nature of the system itself. In the
light of modern culture, and instructed by history, we readily discern the
folly of those crude ideas upon which the ancient Americans based what
they knew as "republican institutions," and maintained, as long as
maintenance was possible, with something of a religious fervor, even when
the results were visibly disastrous. To us of to-day it is clear that the
word "self-government" involves a contradiction, for government means
control by something other than the thing to be controlled. When the thing
governed is the same as the thing governing there is no government, though
for a time there may be, as in the case under consideration there was, a
considerable degree of forbearance, giving a misleading appearance of
public order. This, however, soon must, as in fact it soon did, pass away
with the delusion that gave it birth. The habit of obedience to written
law, inculcated by generations of respect for actual government able to
enforce its authority, will persist for a long time, with an ever
lessening power upon the imagination of the people; but there comes a time
when the tradition is forgotten and the delusion exhausted. When men
perceive that nothing is restraining them but their consent to be
restrained, then at last there is nothing to obstruct the free play of
that selfishness which is the dominant characteristic and fundamental
motive of human nature and human action respectively. Politics, which may
have had something of the character of a contest of principles, becomes a
struggle of interests, and its methods are frankly serviceable to personal
and class advantage. Patriotism and respect for law pass like a tale that
is told. Anarchy, no longer disguised as "government by consent," reveals
his hidden hand, and in the words of our greatest living poet,

            lets the curtain fall,
  And universal darkness buries all!

The ancient Americans were a composite people; their blood was a blend of
all the strains known in their time. Their government, while they had one,
being merely a loose and mutable expression of the desires and caprices of
the majority--that is to say, of the ignorant, restless and reckless--gave
the freest rein and play to all the primal instincts and elemental
passions of the race. In so far and for so long as it had any restraining
force, it was only the restraint of the present over the power of the
past--that of a new habit over an old and insistent tendency ever seeking
expression in large liberties and indulgences impatient of control. In the
history of that unhappy people, therefore, we see unveiled the workings of
the human will in its most lawless state, without fear of authority or
care of consequence. Nothing could be more instructive.

Of the American form of government, although itself the greatest of evils
afflicting the victims of those that it entailed, but little needs to be
said here; it has perished from the earth, a system discredited by an
unbroken record of failure in all parts of the world, from the earliest
historic times to its final extinction. Of living students of political
history not one professes to see in it anything but a mischievous creation
of theorists and visionaries--persons whom our gracious sovereign has
deigned to brand for the world's contempt as "dupes of hope purveying to
sons of greed." The political philosopher of to-day is spared the trouble
of pointing out the fallacies of republican government, as the
mathematician is spared that of demonstrating the absurdity of the
convergence of parallel lines; yet the ancient Americans not only clung to
their error with a blind, unquestioning faith, even when groaning under
its most insupportable burdens, but seem to have believed it of divine
origin. It was thought by them to have been established by the god
Washington, whose worship, with that of such _dii minores_ as Gufferson,
Jaxon and Lincon (identical probably with the Hebru Abrem) runs like a
shining thread through all the warp and woof of the stuff that garmented
their moral nakedness. Some stones, very curiously inscribed in many
tongues, were found by the explorer Droyhors in the wilderness bordering
the river Bhitt (supposed by him to be the ancient Potomac) as lately as
the reign of Barukam IV. These stones appear to be fragments of a monument
or temple erected to the glory of Washington in his divine character of
Founder and Preserver of republican institutions. If this tutelary deity
of the ancient Americans really invented representative government they
were not the first by many to whom he imparted the malign secret of its
inauguration and denied that of its maintenance.

Although many of the causes which finally, in combination, brought about
the downfall of the great American republic were in operation from the
beginning--being, as has been said, inherent in the system--it was not
until the year 1995 (as the ancients for some reason not now known
reckoned time) that the collapse of the vast, formless fabric was
complete. In that year the defeat and massacre of the last army of law and
order in the lava beds of California extinguished the final fires of
enlightened patriotism and quenched in blood the monarchical revival.
Thenceforth armed opposition to anarchy was confined to desultory and
insignificant warfare waged by small gangs of mercenaries in the service
of wealthy individuals and equally feeble bands of prescripts fighting for
their lives. In that year, too, "the Three Presidents" were driven from
their capitals, Cincinnati, New Orleans and Duluth, their armies
dissolving by desertion and themselves meeting death at the hands of the

The turbulent period between 1920 and 1995, with its incalculable waste of
blood and treasure, its dreadful conflicts of armies and more dreadful
massacres by passionate mobs, its kaleidoscopic changes of government and
incessant effacement and redrawing of boundaries of states, its
interminable tale of political assassinations and proscriptions--all the
horrors incident to intestinal wars of a naturally lawless race--had so
exhausted and dispirited the surviving protagonists of legitimate
government that they could make no further head against the inevitable,
and were glad indeed and most fortunate to accept life on any terms that
they could obtain.

But the purpose of this sketch is not bald narration of historic fact, but
examination of antecedent germinal conditions; not to recount calamitous
events familiar to students of that faulty civilization, but to trace, as
well as the meager record will permit, the genesis and development of the
causes that brought them about. Historians in our time have left little
undone in the matter of narration of political and military phenomena. In
Golpek's "Decline and Fall of the American Republics," in Soseby's
"History of Political Fallacies," in Holobom's "Monarchical Renasence,"
and notably in Gunkux's immortal work, "The Rise, Progress, Failure and
Extinction of The Connected States of America" the fruits of research have
been garnered, a considerable harvest. The events are set forth with such
conscientiousness and particularity as to have exhausted the possibilities
of narration. It remains only to expound causes and point the awful moral.

To a delinquent observation it may seem needless to point out the inherent
defects of a system of government which the logic of events has swept like
political rubbish from the face of the earth, but we must not forget that
ages before the inception of the American republics and that of France and
Ireland this form of government had been discredited by emphatic failures
among the most enlightened and powerful nations of antiquity: the Greeks,
the Romans, and long before them (as we now know) the Egyptians and the
Chinese. To the lesson of these failures the founders of the eighteenth
and nineteenth century republics were blind and deaf. Have we then reason
to believe that our posterity will be wiser because instructed by a
greater number of examples? And is the number of examples which they will
have in memory really greater? Already the instances of China, Egypt,
Greece and Rome are almost lost in the mists of antiquity; they are known,
except by infrequent report, to the archæologist only, and but dimly and
uncertainly to him. The brief and imperfect record of yesterdays which we
call History is like that traveling vine of India which, taking new root
as it advances, decays at one end while it grows at the other, and so is
constantly perishing and finally lost in all the spaces which it has

From the few and precious writings that have descended to us from the
early period of the American republic we get a clear if fragmentary view
of the disorders and lawlessness affecting that strange and unhappy
nation. Leaving the historically famous "labor troubles" for more extended
consideration, we may summarize here a few of the results of hardly more
than a century and a quarter of "self-government" as it existed on this
continent just previously to the awful end. At the beginning of the
"twentieth century" a careful study by trustworthy contemporary
statisticians of the public records and those apparently private ones
known as "newspapers" showed that in a population of about 80,000,000 the
annual number of homicides was not less than 10,000; and this continued
year after year to increase, not only absolutely, but proportionately,
until, in the words of Dumbleshaw, who is thought to have written his
famous "Memoirs of a Survivor" in the year 1908 of their era, "it would
seem that the practice of suicide is a needless custom, for if a man but
have patience his neighbor is sure to put him out of his misery." Of the
10,000 assassins less than three per cent. were punished, further than by
incidental imprisonment if unable to give bail while awaiting trial. If
the chief end of government is the citizen's security of life and his
protection from aggression, what kind of government do these appalling
figures disclose? Yet so infatuated with their imaginary "liberty" were
these singular people that the contemplation of all this crime abated
nothing of the volume and persistence of their patriotic ululations, and
affected not their faith in the perfection of their system. They were like
a man standing on a rock already submerged by the rising tide, and calling
to his neighbors on adjacent cliffs to observe his superior security.

When three men engage in an undertaking in which they have an equal
interest, and in the direction of which they have equal power, it
necessarily results that any action approved by two of them, with or
without the assent of the third, will be taken. This is called--or was
called when it was an accepted principle in political and other
affairs--"the rule of the majority." Evidently, under the malign
conditions supposed, it is the only practicable plan of getting anything
done. A and B rule and overrule C, not because they ought, but because
they can; not because they are wiser, but because they are stronger. In
order to avoid a conflict in which he is sure to be worsted, C submits as
soon as the vote is taken. C is as likely to be right as A and B; nay,
that eminent ancient philosopher, Professor Richard A. Proctor (or
Proroctor, as the learned now spell the name), has clearly shown by the
law of probabilities that any one of the three, all being of the same
intelligence, is far likelier to be right than the other two.

It is thus that the "rule of the majority" as a political system is
established. It is in essence nothing but the discredited and
discreditable principle that "might makes right"; but early in the life of
a republic this essential character of government by majority is not seen.
The habit of submitting all questions of policy to the arbitrament of
counting noses and assenting without question to the result invests the
ordeal with a seeming sanctity, and what was at first obeyed as the
command of power comes to be revered as the oracle of wisdom. The
innumerable instances--such as the famous ones of Galileo and Keeley--in
which one man has been right and all the rest of the race wrong, are
overlooked, or their significance missed, and "public opinion" is followed
as a divine and infallible guide through every bog into which it blindly
stumbles and over every precipice in its fortuitous path. Clearly, sooner
or later will be encountered a bog that will smother or a precipice that
will crush. Thoroughly to apprehend the absurdity of the ancient faith in
the wisdom of majorities let the loyal reader try to fancy our gracious
Sovereign by any possibility wrong, or his unanimous Ministry by any
possibility right!

During the latter half of the "nineteenth century" there arose in the
Connected States a political element opposed to all government, which
frankly declared its object to be anarchy. This astonishing heresy was not
of indigenous growth: its seeds were imported from Europe by the
emigration or banishment thence of criminals congenitally incapable of
understanding and valuing the blessings of monarchical institutions, and
whose method of protest was murder. The governments against which they
conspired in their native lands were too strong in authority and too
enlightened in policy for them to overthrow. Hundreds of them were put to
death, thousands imprisoned and sent into exile. But in America, whither
those who escaped fled for safety, they found conditions entirely
favorable to the prosecution of their designs.

A revered fetish of the Americans was "freedom of speech": it was believed
that if bad men were permitted to proclaim their evil wishes they would go
no further in the direction of executing them--that if they might say what
they would like to do they would not care to do it. The close relation
between speech and action was not understood. Because the Americans
themselves had long been accustomed, in their own political debates and
discussions, to the use of unmeaning declamations and threats which they
had no intention of executing, they reasoned that others were like them,
and attributed to the menaces of these desperate and earnest outcasts no
greater importance than to their own. They thought also that the foreign
anarchists, having exchanged the tyranny of kings for that of majorities,
would be content with their new and better lot and become in time good and
law-abiding citizens.

The anarchist of that far day (thanks to the firm hands of our gracious
sovereigns the species is now extinct) was a very different person from
what our infatuated ancestors imagined him. He struck at government, not
because it was bad, but because it was government. He hated authority, not
for its tyranny, but for its power. And in order to make this plain to
observation he frequently chose his victim from amongst those whose rule
was most conspicuously benign.

Of the seven early Presidents of the American republic who perished by
assassination no fewer than four were slain by anarchists with no personal
wrongs to impel them to the deed--nothing but an implacable hostility to
law and authority. The fifth victim, indeed, was a notorious demagogue who
had pardoned the assassin of the fourth.

The field of the anarchist's greatest activity was always a republic, not
only to emphasize his impartial hatred of all government, but because of
the inherent feebleness of that form of government, its inability to
protect itself against any kind of aggression by any considerable number
of its people having a common malevolent purpose. In a republic the crust
that confined the fires of violence and sedition was thinnest.

No improvement in the fortunes of the original anarchists through
immigration to what was then called the New World would have made them
good citizens. From centuries of secret war against particular forms of
authority in their own countries they had inherited a bitter antagonism to
all authority, even the most beneficent. In their new home they were worse
than in their old. In the sunshine of opportunity the rank and sickly
growth of their perverted natures became hardy, vigorous, bore fruit. They
surrounded themselves with proselytes from the ranks of the idle, the
vicious, the unsuccessful. They stimulated and organized discontent. Every
one of them became a center of moral and political contagion. To those as
yet unprepared to accept anarchy was offered the milder dogma of
Socialism, and to those even weaker in the faith something vaguely called
Reform. Each was initiated into that degree to which the induration of his
conscience and the character of his discontent made him eligible, and in
which he could be most serviceable, the body of the people still cheating
themselves with the false sense of security begotten of the belief that
they were somehow exempt from the operation of all agencies inimical to
their national welfare and integrity. Human nature, they thought, was
different in the West from what it was in the East: in the New World the
old causes would not have the old effects: a republic had some inherent
vitality of its own, entirely independent of any action intended to keep
it alive. They felt that words and phrases had some talismanic power, and
charmed themselves asleep by repeating "liberty," "all men equal before
the law," "dictates of conscience," "free speech" and all manner of such
incantation to exorcise the spirits of the night. And when they could no
longer close their eyes to the dangers environing them; when they saw at
last that what they had mistaken for the magic power of their form of
government and its assured security was really its radical weakness and
subjective peril--they found their laws inadequate to repression of the
enemy, the enemy too strong to permit the enactment of adequate laws. The
belief that a malcontent armed with freedom of speech, a newspaper, a vote
and a rifle is less dangerous than a malcontent with a still tongue in his
head, empty hands and under police surveillance was abandoned, but all too
late. From its fatuous dream the nation was awakened by the noise of arms,
the shrieks of women and the red glare of burning cities.

Beginning with the slaughter at St. Louis on a night in the year 1920,
when no fewer than twenty-two thousand citizens were slain in the streets
and half the city destroyed, massacre followed massacre with frightful
rapidity. New York fell in the month following, many thousands of its
inhabitants escaping fire and sword only to be driven into the bay and
drowned, "the roaring of the water in their ears," says Bardeal,
"augmented by the hoarse clamor of their red-handed pursuers, whose
blood-thirst was unsated by the sea." A week later Washington was
destroyed, with all its public buildings and archives; the President and
his Ministry were slain, Congress was dispersed, and an unknown number of
officials and private citizens perished. Of all the principal cities only
Chicago and San Francisco escaped. The people of the former were all
anarchists and the latter was valorously and successfully defended by the

The urban anarchists were eventually subdued and some semblance of order
was restored, but greater woes and sharper shames awaited this unhappy
nation, as we shall see.

In turning from this branch of our subject to consider the causes of the
failure and bloody disruption of the great American republic other than
those inherent in the form of government, it may not be altogether
unprofitable to glance briefly at what seems to a superficial view the
inconsistent phenomenon of great material prosperity. It is not to be
denied that this unfortunate people was at one time singularly prosperous,
in so far as national wealth is a measure and proof of prosperity. Among
nations it was the richest nation. But at how great a sacrifice of better
things was its wealth obtained! By the neglect of all education except
that crude, elementary sort which fits men for the coarse delights of
business and affairs but confers no capacity of rational enjoyment; by
exalting the worth of wealth and making it the test and touchstone of
merit; by ignoring art, scorning literature and despising science, except
as these might contribute to the glutting of the purse; by setting up and
maintaining an artificial standard of morals which condoned all offenses
against the property and peace of every one but the condoner; by
pitilessly crushing out of their natures every sentiment and aspiration
unconnected with accumulation of property, these civilized savages and
commercial barbarians attained their sordid end. Before they had rounded
the first half-century of their existence as a nation they had sunk so low
in the scale of morality that it was considered nothing discreditable to
take the hand and even visit the house of a man who had grown rich by
means notoriously corrupt and dishonorable; and Harley declares that even
the editors and writers of newspapers, after fiercely assailing such men
in their journals, would be seen "hobnobbing" with them in public places.
(The nature of the social ceremony named the "hobnob" is not now
understood, but it is known that it was a sign of amity and favor.) When
men or nations devote all the powers of their minds and bodies to the
heaping up of wealth, wealth is heaped up. But what avails it? It may not
be amiss to quote here the words of one of the greatest of the ancients
whose works--fragmentary, alas--have come down to us.

"Wealth has accumulated itself into masses; and poverty, also in
accumulation enough, lies impassably separated from it; opposed,
uncommunicating, like forces in positive and negative poles. The gods of
this lower world sit aloft on glittering thrones, less happy than
Epicurus's gods, but as indolent, as impotent; while the boundless living
chaos of ignorance and hunger welters, terrific in its dark fury, under
their feet. How much among us might be likened to a whited sepulcher:
outwardly all pomp and strength, but inwardly full of horror and despair
and dead men's bones! Iron highways, with their wains fire-winged, are
uniting all the ends of the land; quays and moles, with their innumerable
stately fleets, tame the ocean into one pliant bearer of burdens; labor's
thousand arms, of sinew and of metal, all-conquering everywhere, from the
tops of the mount down to the depths of the mine and the caverns of the
sea, ply unweariedly for the service of man; yet man remains unserved. He
has subdued this planet, his habitation and inheritance, yet reaps no
profit from the victory. Sad to look upon: in the highest stage of
civilization nine-tenths of mankind have to struggle in the lowest battle
of savage or even animal man--the battle against famine. Countries are
rich, prosperous in all manner of increase, beyond example; but the men of
these countries are poor, needier than ever of all sustenance, outward and
inward; of belief, of knowledge, of money, of food."

To this somber picture of American "prosperity" in the nineteenth century
nothing of worth can be added by the most inspired artist. Let us simply
inscribe upon the gloomy canvas the memorable words of an illustrious poet
of the period:

  That country speeds to an untoward fate,
  Where men are trivial and gold is great.

One of the most "sacred" rights of the ancient American was the trial of
an accused person by "a jury of his peers." This, in America, was a right
secured to him by a written constitution. It was almost universally
believed to have had its origin in Magna Carta, a famous document which
certain rebellious noblemen of another country had compelled their
sovereign to sign under a threat of death. That celebrated "bill of
rights" has not all come down to us, but researches of the learned have
made it certain that it contained no mention of trial by jury, which,
indeed, was unknown to its authors. The words _judicium parium_ meant to
them something entirely different--the judgment of the entire community of
freemen. The words and the practice they represented antedated Magna Carta
by many centuries and were common to the Franks and other Germanic
nations, amongst whom a trial "jury" consisted of persons having a
knowledge of the matter to be determined--persons who in later times were
called "witnesses" and rigorously excluded from the seats of judgment.

It is difficult to conceive a more clumsy and ineffective machinery for
ascertaining truth and doing justice than a jury of twelve men of the
average intelligence, even among ourselves. What, then, must this device
have been among the half-civilized tribes of the Connected States of
America! Nay, the case is worse than that, for it was the practice to
prevent men of even the average intelligence from serving as jurors.
Jurors had to be residents of the locality of the crime charged, and every
crime was made a matter of public notoriety long before the accused was
brought to trial; yet, as a rule, he who had read or talked about the
trial was held disqualified to serve. This in a country where, when a man
who could read was not reading about local crimes he was talking about
them, or if doing neither was doing something worse!

To the twelve men so chosen the opposing lawyers addressed their
disingenuous pleas and for their consideration the witnesses presented
their carefully rehearsed testimony, most of it false. So unintelligent
were these juries that a great part of the time in every trial was
consumed in keeping from them certain kinds of evidence with which they
could not be trusted; yet the lawyers were permitted to submit to them any
kind of misleading argument that they pleased and fortify it with
innuendoes without relevancy and logic without sense. Appeals to their
passions, their sympathies, their prejudices, were regarded as legitimate
influences and tolerated by the judges on the theory that each side's
offenses would about offset those of the other. In a criminal case it was
expected that the prosecutor would declare repeatedly and in the most
solemn manner his belief in the guilt of the person accused, and that the
attorney for the defense would affirm with equal gravity his conviction of
his client's innocence. How could they impress the jury with a belief
which they did not themselves venture to affirm? It is not recorded that
any lawyer ever rebelled against the iron authority of these conditions
and stood for truth and conscience. They were, indeed, the conditions of
his existence as a lawyer, a fact which they easily persuaded themselves
mitigated the baseness of their obedience to them, or justified it

The judges, as a rule, were no better, for before they could become judges
they must have been advocates, with an advocate's fatal disabilities of
judgment. Most of them depended for their office upon the favor of the
people, which, also, was fatal to the independence, the dignity and the
impartiality to which they laid so solemn claim. In their decisions they
favored, so far as they dared, every interest, class or person powerful
enough to help or hurt them in an election. Holding their high office by
so precarious a tenure, they were under strong temptation to enrich
themselves from the serviceable purses of wealthy litigants, and in
disregard of justice to cultivate the favor of the attorneys practicing
before them, and before whom they might soon be compelled themselves to

In the higher courts of the land, where juries were unknown and appointed
judges held their seats for life, these awful conditions did not obtain,
and there Justice might have been content to dwell, and there she actually
did sometimes set her foot. Unfortunately, the great judges had the
consciences of their education. They had crept to place through the slime
of the lower courts and their robes of office bore the damnatory evidence.
Unfortunately, too, the attorneys, the jury habit strong upon them,
brought into the superior tribunals the moral characteristics and
professional methods acquired in the lower. Instead of assisting the
judges to ascertain the truth and the law, they cheated in argument and
took liberties with fact, deceiving the court whenever they deemed it to
the interest of their cause to do so, and as willingly won by a
technicality or a trick as by the justice of their contention and their
ability in supporting it. Altogether, the entire judicial system of the
Connected States of America was inefficient, disreputable, corrupt.

The result might easily have been foreseen and doubtless was predicted by
patriots whose admonitions have not come down to us. Denied protection of
the law, neither property nor life was safe. Greed filled his coffers from
the meager hoards of Thrift, private vengeance took the place of legal
redress, mad multitudes rioted and slew with virtual immunity from
punishment or blame, and the land was red with crime.

A singular phenomenon of the time was the immunity of criminal women.
Among the Americans woman held a place unique in the history of nations.
If not actually worshiped as a deity, as some historians, among them the
great Sagab-Joffoy, have affirmed, she was at least regarded with feelings
of veneration which the modern mind has a difficulty in comprehending.
Some degree of compassion for her mental inferiority, some degree of
forbearance toward her infirmities of temper, some degree of immunity for
the offenses which these peculiarities entail--these are common to all
peoples above the grade of barbarians. In ancient America these chivalrous
sentiments found open and lawful expression only in relieving woman of the
burden of participation in political and military service; the laws gave
her no express exemption from responsibility for crime. When she murdered,
she was arrested; when arrested, brought to trial--though the origin and
meaning of those observances are not now known. Gunkux, whose researches
into the jurisprudence of antiquity enable him to speak with commanding
authority of many things, gives us here nothing better than the conjecture
that the trial of women for murder, in the nineteenth century and a part
of the twentieth, was the survival of an earlier custom of actually
convicting and punishing them, but it seems extremely improbable that a
people that once put its female assassins to death would ever have
relinquished the obvious advantages of the practice while retaining with
purposeless tenacity some of its costly preliminary forms. Whatever may
have been the reason, the custom was observed with all the gravity of a
serious intention. Gunkux professes knowledge of one or two instances (he
does not name his authorities) where matters went so far as conviction and
sentence, and adds that the mischievous sentimentalists who had always
lent themselves to the solemn jest by protestations of great
_vraisemblance_ against "the judicial killing of women," became really
alarmed and filled the land with their lamentations. Among the phenomena
of brazen effrontery he classes the fact that some of these loud
protagonists of the right of women to assassinate unpunished were
themselves women! Howbeit, the sentences, if ever pronounced, were never
executed, and during the first quarter of the twentieth century the
meaningless custom of bringing female assassins to trial was abandoned.
What the effect was of their exemption from this considerable
inconvenience we have not the data to conjecture, unless we understand as
an allusion to it some otherwise obscure words of the famous Edward Bok,
the only writer of the period whose work has survived. In his monumental
essay on barbarous penology, entitled "Slapping the Wrist," he couples
"woman's emancipation from the trammels of law" and "man's better prospect
of death" in a way that some have construed as meaning that he regarded
them as cause and effect. It must be said, however, that this
interpretation finds no support in the general character of his writing,
which is exceedingly humane, refined and womanly.

It has been said that the writings of this great man are the only
surviving work of his period, but of that we are not altogether sure.
There exists a fragment of an anonymous essay on woman's legal
responsibility which many Americologists think belongs to the beginning of
the twentieth century. Certainly it could not have been written later than
the middle of it, for at that time woman had been definitely released from
any responsibility to any law but that of her own will. The essay is an
argument against even such imperfect exemption as she had in its author's

"It has been urged," the writer says, "that women, being less rational and
more emotional than men, should not be held accountable in the same
degree. To this it may be answered that punishment for crime is not
intended to be retaliatory, but admonitory and deterrent. It is,
therefore, peculiarly necessary to those not easily reached by other forms
of warning and dissuasion. Control of the wayward is not to be sought in
reduction of restraints, but in their multiplication. One who cannot be
curbed by reason may be curbed by fear, a familiar truth which lies at the
foundation of all penological systems. The argument for exemption of women
is equally cogent for exemption of habitual criminals, for they too are
abnormally inaccessible to reason, abnormally disposed to obedience to the
suasion of their unregulated impulses and passions. To free them from the
restraints of the fear of punishment would be a bold innovation which has
as yet found no respectable proponent outside their own class.

"Very recently this dangerous enlargement of the meaning of the phrase
'emancipation of woman' has been fortified with a strange advocacy by the
female 'champions of their sex.' Their argument runs this way: 'We are
denied a voice in the making of the laws relating to infliction of the
death penalty; it is unjust to hold us to an accountability to which we
have not assented.' Of course this argument is as broad as the entire body
of law; it amounts to nothing less than a demand for general immunity from
all laws, for to none of them has woman's assent been asked or given. But
let us consider this amazing claim with reference only to the proposal in
the service and promotion of which it is now urged: exemption of women
from the death penalty for murder. In the last analysis it is seen to be a
simple demand for compensation. It says: 'You owe us a _solatium_. Since
you deny us the right to vote, you should give us the right to
assassinate. We do not appraise it at so high a valuation as the other
franchise, but we do value it.'

"Apparently they do: without legal, but with virtual, immunity from
punishment, the women of this country take an average of one thousand
lives annually, nine in ten being the lives of men. Juries of men, incited
and sustained by public opinion, have actually deprived every adult male
American of the right to live. If the death of any man is desired by any
woman for any reason he is without protection. She has only to kill him
and say that he wronged or insulted her. Certain almost incredible recent
instances prove that no woman is too base for immunity, no crime against
life sufficiently rich in all the elements of depravity to compel a
conviction of the assassin, or, if she is convicted and sentenced, her
punishment by the public executioner."

In this interesting fragment, quoted by Bogul in his "History of an
Extinct Civilization," we learn something of the shame and peril of
American citizenship under institutions which, not having run their
foreordained course to the unhappy end, were still in some degree
supportable. What these institutions became afterward is a familiar story.
It is true that the law of trial by jury was repealed. It had broken down,
but not until it had sapped the whole nation's respect for all law, for
all forms of authority, for order and private virtues. The people whose
rude forefathers in another land it had served roughly to protect against
their tyrants, it had lamentably failed to protect against themselves, and
when in madness they swept it away, it was not as one renouncing an error,
but as one impatient of the truth which the error is still believed to
contain. They flung it away, not as an ineffectual restraint, but as a
restraint; not because it was no longer an instrument of justice for the
determination of truth, but because they feared that it might again become
such. In brief, trial by jury was abolished only when it had provoked

Before turning to another phase of this ancient civilization I cannot
forbear to relate, after the learned and ingenious Gunkux, the only known
instance of a public irony expressing itself in the sculptor's noble art.
In the ancient city of Hohokus once stood a monument of colossal size and
impressive dignity. It was erected by public subscription to the memory of
a man whose only distinction consisted in a single term of service as a
juror in a famous murder trial, the details of which have not come down to
us. This occupied the court and held public attention for many weeks,
being bitterly contested by both prosecution and defense. When at last it
was given to the jury by the judge in the most celebrated charge that had
ever been delivered from the bench, a ballot was taken at once. The jury
stood eleven for acquittal to one for conviction. And so it stood at every
ballot of the more than fifty that were taken during the fortnight that
the jury was locked up for deliberation. Moreover, the dissenting juror
would not argue the matter; he would listen with patient attention while
his eleven indignant opponents thundered their opinions into his ears,
even when they supported them with threats of personal violence; but not a
word would he say. At last a disagreement was formally entered, the jury
discharged and the obstinate juror chased from the city by the maddened
populace. Despairing of success in another trial and privately admitting
his belief in the prisoner's innocence, the public prosecutor moved for
his release, which the judge ordered with remarks plainly implying his own
belief that the wrong man had been tried.

Years afterward the accused person died confessing his guilt, and a little
later one of the jurors who had been sworn to try the case admitted that
he had attended the trial on the first day only, having been personated
during the rest of the proceedings by a twin brother, the obstinate
member, who was a deaf-mute.

The monument to this eminent public servant was overthrown and destroyed
by an earthquake in the year 2342.

One of the causes of that popular discontent which brought about the
stupendous events resulting in the disruption of the great republic,
historians and archæologists are agreed in reckoning "insurance." Of the
exact nature of that factor in the problem of the national life of that
distant day we are imperfectly informed; many of its details have perished
from the record, yet its outlines loom large through the mist of ages and
can be traced with greater precision than is possible in many more
important matters.

In the monumental work of Professor Golunk-Dorsto ("Some Account of the
Insurance Delusion in Ancient America") we have its most considerable
modern exposition; and Gakler's well-known volume, "The Follies of
Antiquity," contains much interesting matter relating to it. From these
and other sources the student of human unreason can reconstruct that
astounding fallacy of insurance as, from three joints of its tail, the
great naturalist Bogramus restored the ancient elephant, from hoof to

The game of insurance, as practiced by the ancient Americans (and, as
Gakler conjectures, by some of the tribesmen of Europe), was gambling,
pure and simple, despite the sentimental character that its proponents
sought to impress upon some forms of it for the greater prosperity of
their dealings with its dupes. Essentially, it was a bet between the
insurer and the insured. The number of ways in which the wager was
made--all devised by the insurer--was almost infinite, but in none of them
was there a departure from the intrinsic nature of the transaction as seen
in its simplest, frankest form, which we shall here expound.

To those unlearned in the economical institutions of antiquity it is
necessary to explain that in ancient America, long prior to the disastrous
Japanese war, individual ownership of property was unrestricted; every
person was permitted to get as much as he was able, and to hold it as his
own without regard to his needs, or whether he made any good use of it or
not. By some plan of distribution not now understood even the habitable
surface of the earth, with the minerals beneath, was parceled out among
the favored few, and there was really no place except at sea where
children of the others could lawfully be born. Upon a part of the dry land
that he had been able to acquire, or had leased from another for the
purpose, a man would build a house worth, say, ten thousand _drusoes_.
(The ancient unit of value was the "dollar," but nothing is now known as
to its actual worth.) Long before the building was complete the owner was
beset by "touts" and "cappers" of the insurance game, who poured into his
ears the most ingenious expositions of the advantages of betting that it
would burn down--for with incredible fatuity the people of that time
continued, generation after generation, to build inflammable habitations.
The persons whom the capper represented--they called themselves an
"insurance company"--stood ready to accept the bet, a fact which seems to
have generated no suspicion in the mind of the house-owner. Theoretically,
of course, if the house did burn payment of the wager would partly or
wholly recoup the winner of the bet for the loss of his house, but in fact
the result of the transaction was commonly very different. For the
privilege of betting that his property would be destroyed by fire the
owner had to pay to the gentleman betting that it would not be, a certain
percentage of its value every year, called a "premium." The amount of this
was determined by the company, which employed statisticians and actuaries
to fix it at such a sum that, according to the law of probabilities, long
before the house was "due to burn," the company would have received more
than the value of it in premiums. In other words, the owner of the house
would himself supply the money to pay his bet, and a good deal more.

But how, it may be asked, could the company's actuary know that the man's
house would last until he had paid in more than its insured value in
premiums--more, that is to say, than the company would have to pay back?
He could not, but from his statistics he could know how many houses in ten
thousand of that kind burned in their first year, how many in their
second, their third, and so on. That was all that he needed to know, the
house-owners knowing nothing about it. He fixed his rates according to the
facts, and the occasional loss of a bet in an individual instance did not
affect the certainty of a general winning. Like other professional
gamblers, the company expected to lose sometimes, yet knew that in the
long run it _must_ win; which meant that in any special case it would
_probably_ win. With a thousand gambling games open to him in which the
chances were equal, the infatuated dupe chose to "sit into" one where they
were against him! Deceived by the cappers' fairy tales, dazed by the
complex and incomprehensible "calculations" put forth for his undoing, and
having ever in the ear of his imagination the crackle and roar of the
impoverishing flames, he grasped at the hope of beating--in an unwelcome
way, it is true--"the man that kept the table." He must have known for a
certainty that if the company could afford to insure him he could not
afford to let it. He must have known that the whole body of the insured
paid to the insurers more than the insurers paid to them; otherwise the
business could not have been conducted. This they cheerfully admitted;
indeed, they proudly affirmed it. In fact, insurance companies were the
only professional gamblers that had the incredible hardihood to parade
their enormous winnings as an inducement to play against their game. These
winnings ("assets," they called them) proved their ability, they said, to
pay when they lost; and that was indubitably true. What they did not
prove, unfortunately, was the _will_ to pay, which from the imperfect
court records of the period that have come down to us, appears frequently
to have been lacking. Gakler relates that in the instance of the city of
San Francisco (somewhat doubtfully identified by Macronus as the modern
fishing-village of Gharoo) the disinclination of the insurance companies
to pay their bets had the most momentous consequences.

In the year 1906 San Francisco was totally destroyed by fire. The
conflagration was caused by the friction of a pig scratching itself
against an angle of a wooden building. More than one hundred thousand
persons perished, and the loss of property is estimated by Kobo-Dogarque
at one and a half million _drusoes_. On more than two-thirds of this
enormous sum the insurance companies had laid bets, and the greater part
of it they refused to pay. In justification they pointed out that the deed
performed by the pig was "an act of God," who in the analogous instance of
the express companies had been specifically forbidden to take any action
affecting the interests of parties to a contract, or the result of an
agreed undertaking.

In the ensuing litigation their attorneys cited two notable precedents. A
few years before the San Francisco disaster, another American city had
experienced a similar one through the upsetting of a lamp by the kick of a
cow. In that case, also, the insurance companies had successfully denied
their liability on the ground that the cow, manifestly incited by some
supernatural power, had unlawfully influenced the result of a wager to
which she was not a party. The companies defendant had contended that the
recourse of the property-owners was against, not them, but the owner of
the cow. In his decision sustaining that view and dismissing the case, a
learned judge (afterward president of one of the defendant companies) had
in the legal phraseology of the period pronounced the action of the cow an
obvious and flagrant instance of unwarrantable intervention. Kobo-Dogarque
believes that this decision was afterward reversed by an appellate court
of contrary political complexion and the companies were compelled to
compromise, but of this there is no record. It is certain that in the San
Francisco case the precedent was urged.

Another precedent which the companies cited with particular emphasis
related to an unfortunate occurrence at a famous millionaires' club in
London, the capital of the renowned king, John Bui. A gentleman passing in
the street fell in a fit and was carried into the club in convulsions. Two
members promptly made a bet upon his life. A physician who chanced to be
present set to work upon the patient, when one of the members who had laid
the wager came forward and restrained him, saying: "Sir, I beg that you
will attend to your own business. I have my money on that fit."

Doubtless these two notable precedents did not constitute the entire case
of the defendants in the San Francisco insurance litigation, but the
additional pleas are lost to us.

Of the many forms of gambling known as insurance that called life
insurance appears to have been the most vicious. In essence it was the
same as fire insurance, marine insurance, accident insurance and so forth,
with an added offensiveness in that it was a betting on human
lives--commonly by the policy-holder on lives that should have been held
most sacred and altogether immune from the taint of traffic. In point of
practical operation this ghastly business was characterized by a more
fierce and flagrant dishonesty than any of its kindred pursuits. To such
lengths of robbery did the managers go that at last the patience of the
public was exhausted and a comparatively trivial occurrence fired the
combustible elements of popular indignation to a white heat in which the
entire insurance business of the country was burned out of existence,
together with all the gamblers who had invented and conducted it. The
president of one of the companies was walking one morning in a street of
New York, when he had the bad luck to step on the tail of a dog and was
bitten in retaliation. Frenzied by the pain of the wound, he gave the
creature a savage kick and it ran howling toward a group of idlers in
front of a grocery store. In ancient America the dog was a sacred animal,
worshiped by all sorts and conditions of tribesmen. The idlers at once
raised a great cry, and setting upon the offender beat him so that he

Their act was infectious: men, women and children trooped out of their
dwellings by thousands to join them, brandishing whatever weapons they
could snatch, and uttering wild cries of vengeance. This formidable mob
overpowered the police, and marching from one insurance office to another,
successively demolished them all, slew such officers as they could lay
hands on, and chased the fugitive survivors into the sea, "where," says a
quaint chronicle of the time, "they were eaten by their kindred, the
sharks." This carnival of violence continued all the day, and at set of
sun not one person connected with any form of insurance remained alive.

Ferocious and bloody as was the massacre, it was only the beginning. As
the news of it went blazing and coruscating along the wires by which
intelligence was then conveyed across the country, city after city caught
the contagion. Everywhere, even in the small hamlets and the agricultural
districts, the dupes rose against their dupers. The smoldering resentment
of years burst into flame, and within a week all that was left of
insurance in America was the record of a monstrous and cruel delusion
written in the blood of its promoters.

A remarkable feature of the crude and primitive civilization of the
Americans was their religion. This was polytheistic, as is that of all
backward peoples, and among their minor deities were their own women. This
has been disputed by respectable authorities, among them Gunkux and the
younger Kekler, but the weight of archæological testimony is against them,
for, as Sagab-Joffy ingeniously points out, none of less than divine rank
would by even the lowest tribes be given unrestricted license to kill.
Among the Americans woman, as already pointed out, indubitably had that
freedom, and exercised it with terrible effect, a fact which makes the
matter of their religion pertinent to the purpose of this monograph. If
ever an American woman was punished by law for murder of a man no record
of the fact is found; whereas, such American literature as we possess is
full of the most enthusiastic adulation of the impossible virtues and
imaginary graces of the human female. One writer even goes to the length
of affirming that respect for the sex is the foundation of political
stability, the cornerstone of civil and religious liberty! After the
break-up of the republic and the savage intertribal wars that followed,
Gyneolatry was an exhausted cult and woman was relegated to her old state
of benign subjection.

Unfortunately, we know little of the means of travel in ancient America,
other than the names. It seems to have been done mainly by what were
called "railroads," upon which wealthy associations of men transported
their fellow-citizens in some kind of vehicle at a low speed, seldom
exceeding fifty or sixty miles an hour, as distance and time were then
reckoned--about equal to seven _kaltabs_ a _grillog_. Notwithstanding this
slow movement of the vehicles, the number and fatality of accidents were
incredible. In the Zopetroq Museum of Archæology is preserved an official
report (found in the excavations made by Droyhors on the supposed site of
Washington) of a Government Commission of the Connected States. From that
document we learn that in the year 1907 of their era the railroads of the
country killed 5,000 persons and wounded 72,286--a mortality which is said
by the commissioners to be twice that of the battle of Gettysburg,
concerning which we know nothing but the name. This was about the annual
average of railroad casualties of the period, and if it provoked comment
it at least led to no reform, for at a later period we find the mortality
even greater. That it was preventable is shown by the fact that in the
same year the railroads of Great Britain, where the speed was greater and
the intervals between vehicles less, killed only one passenger. It was a
difference of government: Great Britain had a government that governed;
America had not. Happily for humanity, the kind of government that does
not govern, self-government, "government of the people, by the people and
for the people" (to use a meaningless paradox of that time) has perished
from the face of the earth.

An inherent weakness in republican government was that it assumed the
honesty and intelligence of the majority, "the masses," who were neither
honest nor intelligent. It would doubtless have been an excellent
government for a people so good and wise as to need none. In a country
having such a system the leaders, the politicians, must necessarily all be
demagogues, for they can attain to place and power by no other method than
flattery of the people and subserviency to the will of the majority. In
all the ancient American political literature we look in vain for a single
utterance of truth and reason regarding these matters. In none of it is a
hint that the multitude was ignorant and vicious, as we know it to have
been, and as it must necessarily be in any country, to whatever high
average of intelligence and morality the people attain; for "intelligence"
and "morality" are comparative terms, the standard of comparison being the
intelligence and morality of the wisest and best, who must always be the
few. Whatever general advance is made, those not at the head are
behind--are ignorant and immoral according to the new standard, and unfit
to control in the higher and broader policies demanded by the progress
made. Where there is true and general progress the philosopher of
yesterday would be the ignoramus of to-day, the honorable of one
generation the vicious of another. The peasant of our time is incomparably
superior to the statesman of ancient America, yet he is unfit to govern,
for there are others more fit.

That a body of men can be wiser than its wisest member seems to the modern
understanding so obvious and puerile an error that it is inconceivable
that any people, even the most primitive, could ever have entertained it;
yet we know that in America it was a fixed and steadfast political faith.
The people of that day did not, apparently, attempt to explain how the
additional wisdom was acquired by merely assembling in council, as in
their "legislatures"; they seem to have assumed that it was so, and to
have based their entire governmental system upon that assumption, with
never a suspicion of its fallacy. It is like assuming that a mountain
range is higher than its highest peak. In the words of Golpek, "The early
Americans believed that units of intelligence were addable quantities," or
as Soseby more wittily puts it, "They thought that in a combination of
idiocies they had the secret of sanity."

The Americans, as has been said, never learned that even among themselves
majorities ruled, not because they ought, but because they could--not
because they were wise, but because they were strong. The count of noses
determined, not the better policy, but the more powerful party. The weaker
submitted, as a rule, for it had to or risk a war in which it would be at
a disadvantage. Yet in all the early years of the republic they seem
honestly to have dignified their submission as "respect for the popular
verdict." They even quoted from the Latin language the sentiment that "the
voice of the people is the voice of God." And this hideous blasphemy was
as glib upon the lips of those who, without change of mind, were defeated
at the polls year after year as upon those of the victors.

Of course, their government was powerless to restrain any aggression or
encroachment upon the general welfare as soon as a considerable body of
voters had banded together to undertake it. A notable instance has been
recorded by Bamscot in his great work, "Some Evil Civilizations." After
the first of America's great intestinal wars the surviving victors formed
themselves into an organization which seems at first to have been purely
social and benevolent, but afterward fell into the hands of rapacious
politicians who in order to preserve their power corrupted their followers
by distributing among them enormous sums of money exacted from the
government by threats of overturning it. In less than a half century after
the war in which they had served, so great was the fear which they
inspired in whatever party controlled the national treasury that the total
sum of their exactions was no less annually than seventeen million
_prastams_! As Dumbleshaw naïvely puts it, "having saved their country,
these gallant gentlemen naturally took it for themselves." The eventual
massacre of the remnant of this hardy and impenitent organization by the
labor unions more accustomed to the use of arms is beyond the province of
this monograph to relate. The matter is mentioned at all only because it
is a typical example of the open robbery that marked that period of the
republic's brief and inglorious existence; the Grand Army, as it called
itself, was no worse and no better than scores of other organizations
having no purpose but plunder and no method but menace. A little later
nearly all classes and callings became organized conspiracies, each
seeking an unfair advantage through laws which the party in power had not
the firmness to withhold, nor the party hoping for power the courage to
oppose. The climax of absurdity in this direction was reached in 1918,
when an association of barbers, known as Noblemen of the Razor, procured
from the parliament of the country a law giving it a representative in the
President's Cabinet, and making it a misdemeanor to wear a beard.

In Soseby's "History of Popular Government" he mentions "a monstrous
political practice known as 'Protection to American Industries.'" Modern
research has not ascertained precisely what it was; it is known rather
from its effects than in its true character, but from what we can learn of
it to-day I am disposed to number it among those malefic agencies
concerned in the destruction of the American republics, particularly the
Connected States, although it appears not to have been peculiar to
"popular government." Some of the contemporary monarchies of Europe were
afflicted with it, but by the divine favor which ever guards a throne its
disastrous effects were averted. "Protection" consisted in a number of
extraordinary expedients, the purposes of which and their relations to one
another cannot with certainty be determined in the present state of our
knowledge. Debrethin and others agree that one feature of it was the
support, by general taxation, of a few favored citizens in public palaces,
where they passed their time in song and dance and all kinds of revelry.
They were not, however, altogether idle, being required out of the sums
bestowed upon them, to employ a certain number of men each in erecting
great piles of stone and pulling them down again, digging holes in the
ground and then filling them with earth, pouring water into casks and then
drawing it off, and so forth. The unhappy laborers were subject to the
most cruel oppressions, but the knowledge that their wages came from the
pockets of those whom their work nowise benefited was so gratifying to
them that nothing could induce them to leave the service of their
heartless employers to engage in lighter and more useful labor.

Another characteristic of "Protection" was the maintenance at the
principal seaports of "customs-houses," which were strong fortifications
armed with heavy guns for the purpose of destroying or driving away the
trading ships of foreign nations. It was this that caused the Connected
States to be known abroad as the "Hermit Republic," a name of which its
infatuated citizens were strangely proud, although they had themselves
sent armed ships to open the ports of Japan and other Oriental countries
to their own commerce. In their own case, if a foreign ship came empty and
succeeded in evading the fire of the "customs-house," as sometimes
occurred, she was permitted to take away a cargo.

It is obvious that such a system was distinctly evil, but it must be
confessed our uncertainty regarding the whole matter of "Protection" does
not justify us in assigning it a definite place among the causes of
national decay. That in some way it produced an enormous revenue is
certain, and that the method was dishonest is no less so; for this
revenue--known as a "surplus"--was so abhorred while it lay in the
treasury that all were agreed upon the expediency of getting rid of it,
two great political parties existing for apparently no other purpose than
the patriotic one of taking it out.

But how, it may be asked, could people so misgoverned get on, even as well
as they did?

From the records that have come down to us it does not appear that they
got on very well. They were preyed upon by all sorts of political
adventurers, whose power in most instances was limited only by the
contemporaneous power of other political adventurers equally unscrupulous.
A full half of the taxes wrung from them was stolen. Their public lands,
millions of square miles, were parceled out among banded conspirators.
Their roads and the streets of their cities were nearly impassable. Their
public buildings, conceived in abominable taste and representing enormous
sums of money, which never were used in their construction, began to
tumble about the ears of the workmen before they were completed. The most
delicate and important functions of government were intrusted to men with
neither knowledge, heart nor experience, who by their corruption imperiled
the public interest and by their blundering disgraced the national name.
In short, all the train of evils inseparable from government of any kind
beset this unhappy people with tenfold power, together with hundreds of
worse ones peculiar to their own faulty and unnatural system. It was
thought that their institutions would give them peace, yet in the first
three-quarters of a century of their existence they fought three important
wars: one of revenge, one of aggression and one--the bloodiest and most
wasteful known up to that time--among themselves. And before a century and
a half had passed they had the humiliation to see many of their seaport
cities destroyed by the Emperor of Japan in a quarrel which they had
themselves provoked by their greed of Oriental dominion.

By far the most important factor concerned in bringing about the
dissolution of the republic and the incredible horrors that followed it
was what was known as "the contest between capital and labor." This
momentous struggle began in a rather singular way through an agitation set
afoot by certain ambitious women who preached at first to inattentive and
inhospitable ears, but with ever increasing acceptance, the doctrine of
equality of the sexes, and demanded the "emancipation" of woman. True,
woman was already an object of worship and had, as noted before, the right
to kill. She was treated with profound and sincere deference, because of
certain humble virtues, the product of her secluded life. Men of that time
appear to have felt for women, in addition to religious reverence, a
certain sentiment known as "love." The nature of this feeling is not
clearly known to us, and has been for ages a matter of controversy
evolving more heat than light. This much is plain: it was largely composed
of good will, and had its root in woman's dependence. Perhaps it had
something of the character of the benevolence with which we regard our
slaves, our children and our domestic animals--everything, in fact, that
is weak, helpless and inoffensive.

Woman was not satisfied; her superserviceable advocates taught her to
demand the right to vote, to hold office, to own property, to enter into
employment in competition with man. Whatever she demanded she eventually
got. With the effect upon her we are not here concerned; the predicted
gain to political purity did not ensue, nor did commercial integrity
receive any stimulus from her participation in commercial pursuits. What
indubitably did ensue was a more sharp and bitter competition in the
industrial world through this increase of more than thirty per cent, in
its wage-earning population. In no age nor country has there ever been
sufficient employment for those requiring it. The effect of so enormously
increasing the already disproportionate number of workers in a single
generation could be no other than disastrous. Every woman employed
displaced or excluded some man, who, compelled to seek a lower employment,
displaced another, and so on, until the least capable or most unlucky of
the series became a tramp--a nomadic mendicant criminal! The number of
these dangerous vagrants in the beginning of the twentieth century of
their era has been estimated by Holobom at no less than seven and a half
_blukuks_! Of course, they were as tow to the fires of sedition, anarchy
and insurrection. It does not very nearly relate to our present purpose,
but it is impossible not to note in passing that this unhappy result,
directly flowing from woman's invasion of the industrial field, was
unaccompanied by any material advantage to herself. Individual women, here
and there one, may themselves have earned the support that they would
otherwise not have received, but the sex as a whole was not benefited.
They provided for themselves no better than they had previously been
provided for, and would still have been provided for, by the men whom they
displaced. The whole somber incident is unrelieved by a single gleam of

Previously to this invasion of the industrial field by woman there had
arisen conditions that were in themselves peculiarly menacing to the
social fabric. Some of the philosophers of the period, rummaging amongst
the dubious and misunderstood facts of commercial and industrial history,
had discovered what they were pleased to term "the law of supply and
demand"; and this they expounded with so ingenious a sophistry, and so
copious a wealth of illustration and example that what is at best but a
faulty and imperfectly applicable principle, limited and cut into by all
manner of other considerations, came to be accepted as the sole
explanation and basis of material prosperity and an infallible rule for
the proper conduct of industrial affairs. In obedience to this "law"--for,
interpreting it in its straitest sense they understood it to be
mandatory--employers and employees alike regulated by its iron authority
all their dealings with one another, throwing off the immemorial relations
of mutual dependence and mutual esteem as tending to interfere with
beneficent operation. The employer came to believe conscientiously that it
was not only profitable and expedient, but under all circumstances his
duty, to obtain his labor for as little money as possible, even as he sold
its product for as much. Considerations of humanity were not banished from
his heart, but most sternly excluded from his business. Many of these
misguided men would give large sums to various charities; would found
universities, hospitals, libraries; would even stop on their way to
relieve beggars in the street; but for their own work-people they had no
care. Straman relates in his "Memoirs" that a wealthy manufacturer once
said to one of his mill-hands who had asked for an increase of his wages
because unable to support his family on the pay that he was getting: "Your
family is nothing to me. I cannot afford to mix benevolence with my
business." Yet this man, the author adds, had just given a thousand
_drusoes_ to a "sea-man's home." He could afford to care for other men's
employees, but not for his own. He could not see that the act which he
performed as truly, and to the same degree, cut down his margin of profit
in his business as the act which he refused to perform would have done,
and had not the advantage of securing him better service from a grateful

On their part the laborers were no better. Their relations to their
employers being "purely commercial," as it was called, they put no heart
into their work, seeking ever to do as little as possible for their money,
precisely as their employers sought to pay as little as possible for the
work they got. The interests of the two classes being thus antagonized,
they grew to distrust and hate each other, and each accession of ill
feeling produced acts which tended to broaden the breach more and more.
There was neither cheerful service on the one side nor ungrudging payment
on the other.

The harder industrial conditions generated by woman's irruption into a new
domain of activity produced among laboring men a feeling of blind
discontent and concern. Like all men in apprehension, they drew together
for mutual protection, they knew not clearly against what. They formed
"labor unions," and believed them to be something new and effective in the
betterment of their condition; whereas, from the earliest historical
times, in Rome, in Greece, in Egypt, in Assyria, labor unions with their
accepted methods of "striking" and rioting had been discredited by an
almost unbroken record of failure. One of the oldest manuscripts then in
existence, preserved in a museum at Turin, but now lost, related how the
workmen employed in the necropolis at Thebes, dissatisfied with their
allowance of corn and oil, had refused to work, broken out of their
quarters and, after much rioting, been subdued by the arrows of the
military. And such, despite the sympathies and assistance of brutal mobs
of the populace, was sometimes the end of the American "strike."
Originally organized for self-protection, and for a time partly
successful, these leagues became great tyrannies, so reasonless in their
demands and so unscrupulous in their methods of enforcing them that the
laws were unable to deal with them, and frequently the military forces of
the several States were ordered out for the protection of life and
property; but in most cases the soldiers fraternized with the leagues, ran
away, or were easily defeated. The cruel and mindless mobs had always the
hypocritical sympathy and encouragement of the newspapers and the
politicians, for both feared their power and courted their favor. The
judges, dependent for their offices not only on "the labor vote," but, to
obtain it, on the approval of the press and the politicians, boldly set
aside the laws against conspiracy and strained to the utmost tension those
relating to riot, arson and murder. To such a pass did all this come that
in the year 1931 an inn-keeper's denial of a half-holiday to an under-cook
resulted in the peremptory closing of half the factories in the country,
the stoppage of all railroad travel and movement of freight by land and
water and a general paralysis of the industries of the land. Many
thousands of families, including those of the "strikers" and their
friends, suffered from famine; armed conflicts occurred in every State;
hundreds were slain and incalculable amounts of property wrecked and

Failure, however, was inherent in the method, for success depended upon
unanimity, and the greater the membership of the unions and the more
serious their menace to the industries of the country, the higher was the
premium for defection; and at last strike-breaking became a regular
employment, organized, officered and equipped for the service required by
the wealth and intelligence that directed it. From that moment the doom of
labor unionism was decreed and inevitable. But labor unionism did not live
long enough to die that way.

Naturally combinations of labor entailed combinations of capital. These
were at first purely protective. They were brought into being by the
necessity of resisting the aggressions of the others. But the trick of
combination once learned, it was seen to have possibilities of profit in
directions not dreamed of by its early promoters; its activities were not
long confined to fighting the labor unions with their own weapons and with
superior cunning and address. The shrewd and energetic men whose capacity
and commercial experience had made them rich while the laborers remained
poor were not slow to discern the advantages of coöperation over their own
former method of competition among themselves. They continued to fight the
labor unions, but ceased to fight one another. The result was that in the
brief period of two generations almost the entire business of the country
fell into the hands of a few gigantic corporations controlled by bold and
unscrupulous men, who, by daring and ingenious methods, made the body of
the people pay tribute to their greed.

In a country where money was all-powerful the power of money was used
without stint and without scruple. Judges were bribed to do their duty,
juries to convict, newspapers to support and legislators to betray their
constituents and pass the most oppressive laws. By these corrupt means,
and with the natural advantage of greater skill in affairs and larger
experience in concerted action, the capitalists soon restored their
ancient reign and the state of the laborer was worse than it had ever been
before. Straman says that in his time two millions of unoffending workmen
in the various industries were once discharged without warning and
promptly arrested as vagrants and deprived of their ears because a sulking
canal-boatman had kicked his captain's dog into the water. And the dog was
a retriever.

Had the people been honest and intelligent, as the politicians affirmed
them to be, the combination of capital could have worked no public
injury--would, in truth, have been a great public benefit. It enormously
reduced the expense of production and distribution, assured greater
permanency of employment, opened better opportunities to general and
special aptitude, gave an improved product, and at first supplied it at a
reduced price. Its crowning merit was that the industries of the country,
being controlled by a few men from a central source, could themselves be
easily controlled by law if law had been honestly administered. Under the
old order of scattered jurisdictions, requiring a multitude of actions at
law, little could be done, and little was done, to put a check on
commercial greed; under the new, much was possible, and at times something
was accomplished. But not for long; the essential dishonesty of the
American character enabled these capable and conscienceless
managers--"captains of industry" and "kings of finance"--to buy with money
advantages and immunities superior to those that the labor unions could
obtain by menaces and the promise of votes. The legislatures, the courts,
the executive officers, all the sources of authority and springs of
control, were defiled and impested until right and justice fled affrighted
from the land, and the name of the country became a stench in the nostrils
of the world.

Let us pause in our narrative to say here that much of the abuse of the
so-called "trusts" by their victims took no account of the folly,
stupidity and greed of the victims themselves. A favorite method by which
the great corporations crushed out the competition of the smaller ones and
of the "individual dealers" was by underselling them--a method made
possible by nothing but the selfishness of the purchasing consumers who
loudly complained of it. These could have stood by their neighbor, the
"small dealer," if they had wanted to, and no underselling could, have
been done. When the trust lowered the price of its product they eagerly
took the advantage offered, then cursed the trust for ruining the small
dealer. When it raised the price they cursed it for ruining themselves. It
is not easy to see what the trust could have done that would have been
acceptable, nor is it surprising that it soon learned to ignore their
clamor altogether and impenitently plunder those whom it could not hope to

Another of the many sins justly charged against the "kings of finance" was
this: They would buy properties worth, say, ten millions of "dollars" (the
value of the dollar is now unknown) and issue stock upon it to the face
value of, say, fifty millions. This their clamorous critics called
"creating" for themselves forty millions of dollars. They created nothing;
the stock had no dishonest value unless sold, and even at the most corrupt
period of the government nobody was compelled by law to buy. In nine cases
in ten the person who bought did so in the hope and expectation of getting
much for little and something for nothing. The buyer was no better than
the seller. He was a gambler. He "played against the game of the man who
kept the table" (as the phrase went), and naturally he lost. Naturally,
too, he cried out, but his lamentations, though echoed shrilly by the
demagogues, seem to have been unavailing. Even the rudimentary
intelligence of that primitive people discerned the impracticability of
laws forbidding the seller to set his own price on the thing he would sell
and declare it worth that price. Then, as now, nobody had to believe him.
Of the few who bought these "watered" stocks in good faith as an
investment in the honest hope of dividends it seems sufficient to say, in
the words of an ancient Roman, "Against stupidity the gods themselves are
powerless." Laws that would adequately protect the foolish from the
consequence of their folly would put an end to all commerce. The sin of
"over-capitalization" differed in magnitude only, not in kind, from the
daily practice of every salesman in every shop. Nevertheless, the popular
fury that it aroused must be reckoned among the main causes contributory
to the savage insurrections that accomplished the downfall of the

With the formation of powerful and unscrupulous trusts of both labor and
capital to subdue each other the possibilities of combination were not
exhausted; there remained the daring plan of combining the two
belligerents! And this was actually effected. The laborer's demand for an
increased wage was always based upon an increased cost of living, which
was itself chiefly due to increased cost of production from reluctant
concessions of his former demands. But in the first years of the twentieth
century observers noticed on the part of capital a lessening reluctance.
More frequent and more extortionate and reasonless demands encountered a
less bitter and stubborn resistance; capital was apparently weakening just
at the time when, with its strong organizations of trained and willing
strike-breakers, it was most secure. Not so; an ingenious malefactor,
whose name has perished from history, had thought out a plan for bringing
the belligerent forces together to plunder the rest of the population. In
the accounts that have come down to us details are wanting, but we know
that, little by little, this amazing project was accomplished. Wages rose
to incredible rates. The cost of living rose with them, for
employers--their new allies wielding in their service the weapons
previously used against them, intimidation, the boycott, and so
forth--more than recouped themselves from the general public. Their
employees got rebates on the prices of products, but for consumers who
were neither laborers nor capitalists there was no mercy. Strikes were a
thing of the past; strike-breakers threw themselves gratefully into the
arms of the unions; "industrial discontent" vanished, in the words of a
contemporary poet, "as by the stroke of an enchanter's wand." All was
peace, tranquillity and order! Then the storm broke.

A man in St. Louis purchased a sheep's kidney for seven-and-a-half
dollars. In his rage at the price he exclaimed: "As a public man I have
given twenty of the best years of my life to bringing about a friendly
understanding between capital and labor. I have succeeded, and may God
have mercy on my meddlesome soul!"

The remark was resented, a riot ensued, and when the sun went down that
evening his last beams fell upon a city reeking with the blood of a
hundred millionaires and twenty thousand citizens and sons of toil!

Students of the history of those troublous times need not to be told what
other and more awful events followed that bloody reprisal. Within
forty-eight hours the country was ablaze with insurrection, followed by
intestinal wars which lasted three hundred and seventy years and were
marked by such hideous barbarities as the modern historian can hardly
bring himself to relate. The entire stupendous edifice of popular
government, temple and citadel of fallacies and abuses, had crashed to
ruin. For centuries its fallen columns and scattered stones sheltered an
ever diminishing number of skulking anarchists, succeeded by hordes of
skin-clad savages subsisting on offal and raw flesh--the race-remnant of
an extinct civilization. All finally vanished from history into a darkness
impenetrable to conjecture.

       *       *       *       *       *

In concluding this hasty and imperfect sketch I cannot forbear to relate
an episode of the destructive and unnatural contest between labor and
capital, which I find recorded in the almost forgotten work of Antrolius,
who was an eye-witness to the incident.

At a time when the passions of both parties were most inflamed and scenes
of violence most frequent it was somehow noised about that at a certain
hour of a certain day some one--none could say who--would stand upon the
steps of the Capitol and speak to the people, expounding a plan for
reconciliation of all conflicting interests and pacification of the
quarrel. At the appointed hour thousands had assembled to hear--glowering
capitalists attended by hireling body-guards with firearms, sullen
laborers with dynamite bombs concealed in their clothing. All eyes were
directed to the specified spot, where suddenly appeared (none saw
whence--it seemed as if he had been there all the time, such his
tranquillity) a tall, pale man clad in a long robe, bare-headed, his hair
falling lightly upon his shoulders, his eyes full of compassion, and with
such majesty of face and mien that all were awed to silence ere he spoke.
Stepping slowly forward toward the throng and raising his right hand from
the elbow, the index finger extended upward, he said, in a voice ineffably
sweet and serious: "Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even
so do ye also unto them."

These strange words he repeated in the same solemn tones three times;
then, as the expectant multitude waited breathless for his discourse,
stepped quietly down into the midst of them, every one afterward declaring
that he passed within a pace of where himself had stood. For a moment the
crowd was speechless with surprise and disappointment, then broke into
wild, fierce cries: "Lynch him, lynch him!" and some have testified that
they heard the word "crucify." Struggling into looser order, the
infuriated mob started in mad pursuit; but each man ran a different way
and the stranger was seen again by none of them.


(After the method of Swift, who followed Lucian, and was himself followed
by Voltaire and many others.)


A crowd of men were assisting at a dog-fight. The scene was one of
indescribable confusion. In the center of the tumult the dogs, obscure in
a cloud of dust, rolled over and over, howling, yarring, tearing each
other with sickening ferocity. About them the hardly less ferocious men
shouted, cursed and struck, encouraged the animals with sibilant
utterances and threatened with awful forms of death and perdition all who
tried to put an end to the combat. Caught in the thick of this pitiless
mob I endeavored to make my way to a place of peace, when a burly
blackguard, needlessly obstructing me, said derisively:

"I guess you are working pockets."

"You are a liar!" I retorted hotly.

That is all the provocation that I remember to have given.


When consciousness returned the sun was high in the heavens, yet the light
was dim, and had that indefinable ghastly quality that is observed during
a partial eclipse. The sun itself appeared singularly small, as if it were
at an immensely greater distance than usual. Rising with some difficulty
to my feet, I looked about me. I was in an open space among some trees
growing on the slope of a mountain range whose summit on the one hand was
obscured by a mist of a strange pinkish hue, and on the other rose into
peaks glittering with snow. Skirting the base at a distance of two or
three miles flowed a wide river, and beyond it a nearly level plain
stretched away to the horizon, dotted with villages and farmhouses and
apparently in a high state of cultivation. All was unfamiliar in its every
aspect. The trees were unlike any that I had ever seen or even imagined,
the trunks being mostly square and the foliage consisting of slender
filaments resembling hair, in many instances long enough to reach the
earth. It was of many colors, and I could not perceive that there was any
prevailing one, as green is in the vegetation to which I was accustomed.
As far as I could see there were no grass, no weeds, no flowers; the earth
was covered with a kind of lichen, uniformly blue. Instead of rocks, great
masses of metals protruded here and there, and above me on the mountain
were high cliffs of what seemed to be bronze veined with brass. No animals
were visible, but a few birds as uncommon in appearance as their
surroundings glided through the air or perched upon the rocks. I say
glided, for their motion was not true flight, their wings being mere
membranes extended parallel to their sides, and having no movement
independent of the body. The bird was, so to say, suspended between them
and moved forward by quick strokes of a pair of enormously large webbed
feet, precisely as a duck propels itself in water. All these things
excited in me no surprise, nor even curiosity; they were merely
unfamiliar. That which most interested me was what appeared to be a bridge
several miles away, up the river, and to this I directed my steps,
crossing over from the barren and desolate hills to the populous plain.

For a full history of my life and adventures in Mogon-Zwair, and a
detailed description of the country, its people, their manners and
customs, I must ask the reader to await the publication of a book, now in
the press, entitled _A Blackened Eye_; in this brief account I can give
only a few of such particulars as seem instructive by contrast with our
own civilization.

The inhabitants of Mogon-Zwair call themselves Golampis, a word signifying
Sons of the Fair Star. Physically they closely resemble ourselves, being
in all respects the equals of the highest Caucasian type. Their hair,
however, has a broader scheme of color, hair of every hue known to us, and
even of some imperceptible to my eyes but brilliant to theirs, being too
common to excite remark. A Golampian assemblage with uncovered heads
resembles, indeed, a garden of flowers, vivid and deep in color, no two
alike. They wear no clothing of any kind, excepting for adornment and
protection from the weather, resembling in this the ancient Greeks and the
Japanese of yesterday; nor was I ever able to make them comprehend that
clothing could be worn for those reasons for which it is chiefly worn
among ourselves. They are destitute of those feelings of delicacy and
refinement which distinguish us from the lower animals, and which, in the
opinion of our acutest and most pious thinkers, are evidences of our close
relation to the Power that made us.

Among this people certain ideas which are current among ourselves as mere
barren faiths expressed in disregarded platitudes receive a practical
application to the affairs of life. For example, they hold, with the best,
wisest and most experienced of our own race, and one other hereafter to be
described, that wealth does not bring happiness and is a misfortune and an
evil. None but the most ignorant and depraved, therefore, take the trouble
to acquire or preserve it. A rich Golampi is naturally regarded with
contempt and suspicion, is shunned by the good and respectable and
subjected to police surveillance. Accustomed to a world where the rich man
is profoundly and justly respected for his goodness and wisdom (manifested
in part by his own deprecatory protests against the wealth of which,
nevertheless, he is apparently unable to rid himself) I was at first
greatly pained to observe the contumelious manner of the Golampis toward
this class of men, carried in some instances to the length of personal
violence; a popular amusement being the pelting them with coins. These the
victims would carefully gather from the ground and carry away with them,
thus increasing their hoard and making themselves all the more liable to
popular indignities.

When the cultivated and intelligent Golampi finds himself growing too
wealthy he proceeds to get rid of his surplus riches by some one of many
easy expedients. One of these I have just described; another is to give
his excess to those of his own class who have not sufficient to buy
employment and so escape leisure, which is considered the greatest evil of
all. "Idleness," says one of their famous authors, "is the child of
poverty and the parent of discontent"; and another great writer says: "No
one is without employment; the indolent man works for his enemies."

In conformity to these ideas the Golampis--all but the ignorant and
vicious rich--look upon labor as the highest good, and the man who is so
unfortunate as not to have enough money to purchase employment in some
useful industry will rather engage in a useless one than not labor at all.
It is not unusual to see hundreds of men carrying water from a river and
pouring it into a natural ravine or artificial channel, through which it
runs back into the stream. Frequently a man is seen conveying stones--or
the masses of metal which there correspond to stones--from one pile to
another. When all have been heaped in a single place he will convey them
back again, or to a new place, and so proceed until darkness puts an end
to the work. This kind of labor, however, does not confer the satisfaction
derived from the consciousness of being useful, and is never performed by
any person having the means to hire another to employ him in some
beneficial industry. The wages usually paid to employers are from three to
six _balukan_ a day. This statement may seem incredible, but I solemnly
assure the reader that I have known a bad workman or a feeble woman to pay
as high as eight; and there have been instances of men whose incomes had
outgrown their desires paying even more.

Labor being a luxury which only those in easy circumstances can afford,
the poor are the more eager for it, not only because it is denied them,
but because it is a sign of respectability. Many of them, therefore,
indulge in it on credit and soon find themselves deprived of what little
property they had to satisfy their hardfisted employers. A poor woman once
complained to me that her husband spent every _rylat_ that he could get in
the purchase of the most expensive kinds of employment, while she and the
children were compelled to content themselves with such cheap and coarse
activity as dragging an old wagon round and round in a small field which a
kind-hearted neighbor permitted them to use for the purpose. I afterward
saw this improvident husband and unnatural father. He had just squandered
all the money he had been able to beg or borrow in buying six tickets,
which entitled the holder to that many days' employment in pitching hay
into a barn. A week later I met him again. He was broken in health, his
limbs trembled, his walk was an uncertain shuffle. Clearly he was
suffering from overwork. As I paused by the wayside to speak to him a
wagon loaded with hay was passing. He fixed his eyes upon it with a
hungry, wolfish glare, clutched a pitchfork and leaned eagerly forward,
watching the vanishing wagon with breathless attention and heedless of my
salutation. That night he was arrested, streaming with perspiration, in
the unlawful act of unloading that hay and putting it into its owner's
barn. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to six months' detention in
the House of Indolence.

The whole country is infested by a class of criminal vagrants known as
_strambaltis_, or, as we should say, "tramps." These persons prowl about
among the farms and villages begging for work in the name of charity.
Sometimes they travel in groups, as many as a dozen together, and then the
farmer dares not refuse them; and before he can notify the constabulary
they will have performed a great deal of the most useful labor that they
can find to do and escaped without paying a _rylat_. One trustworthy
agriculturist assured me that his losses in one year from these
depredations amounted to no less a sum than seven hundred _balukan_! On
nearly all the larger and more isolated farms a strong force of guards is
maintained during the greater part of the year to prevent these outrages,
but they are frequently overpowered, and sometimes prove unfaithful to
their trust by themselves working secretly by night.

The Golampi priesthood has always denounced overwork as a deadly sin, and
declared useless and apparently harmless work, such as carrying water from
the river and letting it flow in again, a distinct violation of the divine
law, in which, however, I could never find any reference to the matter;
but there has recently risen a sect which holds that all labor being
pleasurable, each kind in its degree is immoral and wicked. This sect,
which embraces many of the most holy and learned men, is rapidly spreading
and becoming a power in the state. It has, of course, no churches, for
these cannot be built without labor, and its members commonly dwell in
caves and live upon such roots and berries as can be easily gathered, of
which the country produces a great abundance though all are exceedingly
unpalatable. These _Gropoppsu_ (as the members of this sect call
themselves) pass most of their waking hours sitting in the sunshine with
folded hands, contemplating their navels; by the practice of which
austerity they hope to obtain as reward an eternity of hard labor after

The Golampis are an essentially pious and religious race. There are few,
indeed, who do not profess at least one religion. They are nearly all, in
a certain sense, polytheists: they worship a supreme and beneficent deity
by one name or another, but all believe in the existence of a subordinate
and malevolent one, whom also, while solemnly execrating him in public
rites, they hold at heart in such reverence that needlessly to mention his
name or that of his dwelling is considered sin of a rank hardly inferior
to blasphemy. I am persuaded that this singular tenderness toward a being
whom their theology represents as an abominable monster, the origin of all
evil and the foe to souls, is a survival of an ancient propitiatory
adoration. Doubtless this wicked deity was once so feared that his
conciliation was one of the serious concerns of life. He is probably as
greatly feared now as at any former time, but is apparently less hated,
and is by some honestly admired.

It is interesting to observe the important place held in Golampian affairs
by religious persecution. The Government is a pure theocracy, all the
Ministers of State and the principal functionaries in every department of
control belonging to the priesthood of the dominant church. It is
popularly believed in Mogon-Zwair that persecution, even to the extent of
taking life, is in the long run beneficial to the cause enduring it. This
belief has, indeed, been crystallized into a popular proverb, not capable
of accurate translation into our tongue, but to the effect that martyrs
fertilize religion by pouring out their blood about its roots. Acting upon
this belief with their characteristically logical and conscientious
directness, the sacerdotal rulers of the country mercilessly afflict the
sect to which themselves belong. They arrest its leading members on false
charges, throw them into loathsome and unwholesome dungeons, subject them
to the crudest tortures and sometimes put them to death. The provinces in
which the state religion is especially strong are occasionally raided and
pillaged by government soldiery, recruited for the purpose by conscription
among the dissenting sects, and are sometimes actually devastated with
fire and sword. The result is not altogether confirmatory of the popular
belief and does not fulfil the pious hope of the governing powers who are
cruel to be kind. The vitalizing efficacy of persecution is not to be
doubted, but the persecuted of too feeble faith frequently thwart its
beneficent intent and happy operation by apostasy.

Having in mind the horrible torments which a Golampian general had
inflicted upon the population of a certain town I once ventured to protest
to him that so dreadful a sum of suffering, seeing that it did not
accomplish its purpose, was needless and unwise.

"Needless and unwise it may be," said he, "and I am disposed to admit that
the result which I expected from it has not followed; but why do you speak
of the _sum_ of suffering? I tortured those people in but a single, simple
way--by skinning their legs."

"Ah, that is very true," said I, "but you skinned the legs of one

"And what of that?" he asked. "Can one thousand, or ten thousand, or any
number of persons suffer more agony than one? A man may have his leg
broken, then his nails pulled out, then be seared with a hot iron. Here is
suffering added to suffering, and the effect is really cumulative. In the
true mathematical sense it is a _sum_ of suffering. A single person can
experience it. But consider, my dear sir. How can you add one man's agony
to another's? They are not addable quantities. Each is an individual pain,
unaffected by the other. The limit of anguish which ingenuity can inflict
is that utmost pang which one man has the vitality to endure."

I was convinced but not silenced.

The Golampians all believe, singularly enough, that truth possesses some
inherent vitality and power that give it an assured prevalence over
falsehood; that a good name cannot be permanently defiled and irreparably
ruined by detraction, but, like a star, shines all the brighter for the
shadow through which it is seen; that justice cannot be stayed by
injustice; that vice is powerless against virtue. I could quote from their
great writers hundreds of utterances affirmative of these propositions.
One of their poets, for example, has some striking and original lines, of
which the following is a literal but unmetrical translation:

  A man who is in the right has three arms,
  But he whose conscience is rotten with wrong
  Is stripped and confined in a metal cell.

Imbued with these beliefs, the Golampis think it hardly worth while to be
truthful, to abstain from slander, to do justice and to avoid vicious
actions. "The practice," they say, "of deceit, calumniation, oppression
and immorality cannot have any sensible and lasting injurious effect, and
it is most agreeable to the mind and heart. Why should there be personal
self-denial without commensurate general advantage?"

In consequence of these false views, affirmed by those whom they regard as
great and wise, the people of Mogon-Zwair are, as far as I have observed
them, the most conscienceless liars, cheats, thieves, rakes and all-round,
many-sided sinners that ever were created to be damned. It was, therefore,
with inexpressible joy that I received one day legal notification that I
had been tried in the High Court of Conviction and sentenced to banishment
to Lalugnan. My offense was that I had said that I regarded consistency as
the most detestable of all vices.


Mogon-Zwair and Lalugnan, having the misfortune to lie on opposite sides
of a line, naturally hate each other; so each country sends its dangerous
political criminals into the other, where they usually enjoy high honors
and are sometimes elevated to important office under the crown. I was
therefore received in Lalugnan with hospitality and given every
encouragement in prosecuting my researches into the history and
intellectual life of the people. They are so extraordinary a people,
inhabiting so marvelous a country, that everything which the traveler
sees, hears or experiences makes a lively and lasting impression upon his
mind, and the labor of a lifetime would be required to relate the
observation of a single year. I shall notice here only one or two points
of national character--those which differ most conspicuously from ours,
and in which, consequently, they are least worthy.

With a fatuity hardly more credible than creditable, the Lalugwumps, as
they call themselves, deny the immortality of the soul. In all my stay in
their country I found only one person who believed in a life "beyond the
grave," as we should say, though as the Lalugwumps are cannibals they
would say "beyond the stomach." In testimony to the consolatory value of
the doctrine of another life, I may say that this one true believer had in
this life a comparatively unsatisfactory lot, for in early youth he had
been struck by a flying stone from a volcano and had lost a considerable
part of his brain.

I cannot better set forth the nature and extent of the Lalugwumpian error
regarding this matter than by relating a conversation that occurred
between me and one of the high officers of the King's household--a man
whose proficiency in all the vices of antiquity, together with his service
to the realm in determining the normal radius of curvature in cats' claws,
had elevated him to the highest plane of political preferment. His name
was Gnarmag-Zote.

"You tell me," said he, "that the soul is immaterial. Now, matter is that
of which we can have knowledge through one or more of our senses. Of what
is immaterial--not matter--we can gain no knowledge in that way. How,
then, can we know anything about it?"

Perceiving that he did not rightly apprehend my position I abandoned it
and shifted the argument to another ground. "Consider," I said, "the
analogous case of a thought. You will hardly call thought material, yet we
know there are thoughts."

"I beg your pardon, but we do not know that. Thought is not a thing,
therefore cannot _be_ in any such sense, for example, as the hand _is_. We
use the word 'thought' to designate the result of an action of the brain,
precisely as we use the word 'speed' to designate the result of an action
of a horse's legs. But can it be said that speed _exists_ in the same way
as the legs which produce it exist, or in any way? Is it a thing?"

I was about to disdain to reply, when I saw an old man approaching, with
bowed head, apparently in deep distress. As he drew near he saluted my
distinguished interlocutor in the manner of the country, by putting out
his tongue to its full extent and moving it slowly from side to side.
Gnarmag-Zote acknowledged the civility by courteously spitting, and the
old man, advancing, seated himself at the great officer's feet, saying:
"Exalted Sir, I have just lost my wife by death, and am in a most
melancholy frame of mind. He who has mastered all the vices of the
ancients and wrested from nature the secret of the normal curvature of
cats' claws can surely spare from his wisdom a few rays of philosophy to
cheer an old man's gloom. Pray tell me what I shall do to assuage my

The reader can, perhaps, faintly conceive my astonishment when
Gnarmag-Zote gravely replied: "Kill yourself."

"Surely," I cried, "you would not have this honest fellow procure oblivion
(since you think that death is nothing else) by so rash an act!"

"An act that Gnarmag-Zote advises," he said, coldly, "is not rash."

"But death," I said, "death, whatever else it may be, is an end of life.
This old man is now in sorrow almost insupportable. But a few days and it
will be supportable; a few months and it will have become no more than a
tender melancholy. At last it will disappear, and in the society of his
friends, in the skill of his cook, the profits of avarice, the study of
how to be querulous and in the pursuit of loquacity, he will again
experience the joys of age. Why for a present grief should he deprive
himself of all future happiness?"

Gnarmag-Zote looked upon me with something like compassion. "My friend,"
said he, "guest of my sovereign and my country, know that in any
circumstances, even those upon which true happiness is based and
conditioned, death is preferable to life. The sum of miseries in any life
(here in Lalugnan at least) exceeds the sum of pleasures; but suppose that
it did not. Imagine an existence in which happiness, of whatever
intensity, is the rule, and discomfort, of whatever moderation, the
exception. Still there is some discomfort. There is none in death, for (as
it is given to us to know) that is oblivion, annihilation. True, by dying
one loses his happiness as well as his sorrows, but he is not conscious of
the loss. Surely, a loss of which one will never know, and which, if it
operate to make him less happy, at the same time takes from him the desire
and capacity and need of happiness, cannot be an evil. That is so
intelligently understood among us here in Lalugnan that suicide is common,
and our word for sufferer is the same as that for fool. If this good man
had not been an idiot he would have taken his life as soon as he was

"If what you say of the blessing of death is true," I said, smilingly, for
I greatly prided myself on the ingenuity of my thought, "it is unnecessary
to commit suicide through grief for the dead; for the more you love the
more glad you should be that the object of your affection has passed into
so desirable a state as death."

"So we are--those of us who have cultivated philosophy, history and logic;
but this poor fellow is still under the domination of feelings inherited
from a million ignorant and superstitious ancestors--for Lalugnan was once
as barbarous a country as your own. The most grotesque and frightful
conceptions of death, and life after death, were current; and now many of
even those whose understandings are emancipated wear upon their feelings
the heavy chain of heredity."

"But," said I, "granting for the sake of the argument which I am about to
build upon the concession" (I could not bring myself to use the idiotic
and meaningless phrase, "for the sake of argument") "that death,
especially the death of a Lalugwump, is desirable, yet the act of dying,
the transition state between living and being dead, may be accompanied by
the most painful physical, and most terrifying mental phenomena. The
moment of dissolution may seem to the exalted sensibilities of the
moribund a century of horrors."

The great man smiled again, with a more intolerable benignity than before.
"There is no such thing as dying," he said; "the 'transition state' is a
creation of your fancy and an evidence of imperfect reason. One is at any
time either alive or dead. The one condition cannot shade off into the
other. There is no gradation like that between waking and sleeping. By the
way, do you recognize a certain resemblance between death and a dreamless

"Yes--death as you conceive it to be."

"Well, does any one fear sleep? Do we not seek it, court it, wish that it
may be sound--that is to say, dreamless? We desire occasional
annihilation--wish to be dead for eight and ten hours at a time. True, we
expect to awake, but that expectation, while it may account for our
alacrity in embracing sleep, cannot alter the character of the state that
we cheerfully go into. Suppose we did _not_ wake in the morning, never did
wake! Would our mental and spiritual condition be in any respect different
through all eternity from what it was during the first few hours? After how
many hours does oblivion begin to be an evil? The man who loves to sleep
yet hates to die might justly be granted everlasting life with everlasting

Gnarmag-Zote paused and appeared to be lost in the profundity of his
thoughts, but I could easily enough see that he was only taking breath.
The old man whose grief had given this turn to the conversation had fallen
asleep and was roaring in the nose like a beast. The rush of a river near
by, as it poured up a hill from the ocean, and the shrill singing of
several kinds of brilliant quadrupeds were the only other sounds audible.
I waited deferentially for the great antiquarian, scientist and courtier
to resume, amusing myself meantime by turning over the leaves of an
official report by the Minister of War on a new and improved process of
making thunder from snail slime. Presently the oracle spoke.

"You have been born," he said, which was true. "There was, it follows, a
time when you had not been born. As we reckon time, it was probably some
millions of ages. Of this considerable period you are unable to remember
one unhappy moment, and in point of fact there was none. To a Lalugwump
that is entirely conclusive as to the relative values of consciousness and
oblivion, existence and nonexistence, life and death. This old man lying
here at my feet is now, if not dreaming, as if he had never been born.
Would not it be cruel and inhuman to wake him back to grief? Is it, then,
kind to permit him to wake by the natural action of his own physical
energies? I have given him the advice for which he asked. Believing it
good advice, and seeing him too irresolute to act, it seems my clear duty
to assist him."

Before I could interfere, even had I dared take the liberty to do so,
Gnarmag-Zote struck the old man a terrible blow upon the head with his
mace of office. The victim turned upon his back, spread his fingers,
shivered convulsively and was dead.

"You need not be shocked," said the distinguished assassin, coolly: "I
have but performed a sacred duty and religious rite. The religion
(established first in this realm by King Skanghutch, the sixty-second of
that name) consists in the worship of Death. We have sacred books, some
three thousand thick volumes, said to be written by inspiration of Death
himself, whom no mortal has ever seen, but who is described by our priests
as having the figure of a fat young man with a red face and wearing an
affable smile. In art he is commonly represented in the costume of a
husbandman sowing seeds.

"The priests and sacred books teach that death is the supreme and only
good--that the chief duties of man are, therefore, assassination and
suicide. Conviction of these cardinal truths is universal among us, but I
am sorry to say that many do not honestly live up to the faith. Most of us
are commendably zealous in assassination, but slack and lukewarm in
suicide. Some justify themselves in this half-hearted observance of the
Law and imperfect submission to the Spirit by arguing that if they destroy
themselves their usefulness in destroying others will be greatly abridged.
'I find,' says one of our most illustrious writers, not without a certain
force, it must be confessed, 'that I can slay many more of others than I
can of myself.'

"There are still others, more distinguished for faith than works, who
reason that if A kill B, B cannot kill C. So it happens that although many
Lalugwumps die, mostly by the hands of others, though some by their own,
the country is never wholly depopulated."

"In my own country," said I, "is a sect holding somewhat Lalugwumpian
views of the evil of life; and among the members it is considered a sin to
bestow it. The philosopher Schopenhauer taught the same doctrine, and many
of our rulers have shown strong sympathetic leanings toward it by
procuring the destruction of many of their own people and those of other
nations in what is called war."

"They are greatly to be commended," said Gnarmag-Zote, rising to intimate
that the conversation was at an end. I respectfully protruded my tongue
while he withdrew into his palace, spitting politely and with unusual
copiousness in acknowledgment. A few minutes later, but before I had left
the spot, two lackeys in livery emerged from the door by which he had
entered, and while one shouldered the body of the old man and carried it
into the palace kitchen the other informed me that his Highness was
graciously pleased to desire my company at dinner that evening. With many
expressions of regret I declined the invitation, unaware that to do so was
treason. With the circumstances of my escape to the island of Tamtonia the
newspapers have made the world already familiar.


In all my intercourse with the Tamtonians I was treated with the most
distinguished consideration and no obstacles to a perfect understanding of
their social and political life were thrown in my way. My enforced
residence on the island was, however, too brief to enable me to master the
whole subject as I should have liked to do.

The government of Tamtonia is what is known in the language of the island
as a _gilbuper_. It differs radically from any form known in other parts
of the world and is supposed to have been invented by an ancient chief of
the race, named Natas, who was for many centuries after his death
worshiped as a god, and whose memory is still held in veneration. The
government is of infinite complexity, its various functions distributed
among as many officers as possible, multiplication of places being
regarded as of the greatest importance, and not so much a means as an end.
The Tamtonians seem to think that the highest good to which a human being
can attain is the possession of an office; and in order that as many as
possible may enjoy that advantage they have as many offices as the country
will support, and make the tenure brief and in no way dependent on good
conduct and intelligent administration of official duty. In truth, it
occurs usually that a man is turned out of his office (in favor of an
incompetent successor) before he has acquired sufficient experience to
perform his duties with credit to himself or profit to the country. Owing
to this incredible folly, the affairs of the island are badly mismanaged.
Complaints are the rule, even from those who have had their way in the
choice of officers. Of course there can be no such thing as a knowledge of
the science of government among such a people, for it is to nobody's
interest to acquire it by study of political history. There is, indeed, a
prevalent belief that nothing worth knowing is to be learned from the
history of other nations--not even from the history of their errors--such
is this extraordinary people's national vanity! One of the most notable
consequences of this universal and voluntary ignorance is that Tamtonia is
the home of all the discreditable political and fiscal heresies from which
many other nations, and especially our own, emancipated themselves
centuries ago. They are there in vigorous growth and full flower, and
believed to be of purely Tamtonian origin.

It needs hardly to be stated that in their personal affairs these people
pursue an entirely different course, for if they did not there could be no
profitable industries and professions among them, and no property to tax
for the support of their government. In his private business a Tamtonian
has as high appreciation of fitness and experience as anybody, and having
secured a good man keeps him in service as long as possible.

The ruler of the nation, whom they call a _Tnediserp_, is chosen every
five years but may be rechosen for five more. He is supposed to be
selected by the people themselves, but in reality they have nothing to do
with his selection. The method of choosing a man for _Tnediserp_ is so
strange that I doubt my ability to make it clear.

The adult male population of the island divides itself into two or more
_seitrap_[1] Commonly there are three or four, but only two ever have any
considerable numerical strength, and none is ever strong morally or
intellectually. All the members of each _ytrap_ profess the same political
opinions, which are provided for them by their leaders every five years
and written down on pieces of paper so that they will not be forgotten.
The moment that any Tamtonian has read his piece of paper, or _mroftalp_,
he unhesitatingly adopts all the opinions that he finds written on it,
sometimes as many as forty or fifty, although these may be altogether
different from, or even antagonistic to, those with which he was supplied
five years before and has been advocating ever since. It will be seen from
this that the Tamtonian mind is a thing whose processes no American can
hope to respect, or even understand. It is instantaneously convinced
without either fact or argument, and when these are afterward presented
they only confirm it in its miraculous conviction; those which make
against that conviction having an even stronger confirmatory power than
the others. I have said any Tamtonian, but that is an overstatement. A few
usually persist in thinking as they did before; or in altering their
convictions in obedience to reason instead of authority, as our own people
do; but they are at once assailed with the most opprobrious names, accused
of treason and all manner of crimes, pelted with mud and stones and in
some instances deprived of their noses and ears by the public executioner.
Yet in no country is independence of thought so vaunted as a virtue, and
in none is freedom of speech considered so obvious a natural right or so
necessary to good government.

    [1] The Tamtonian language forms its plurals most irregularly, but
        usually by an initial inflection. It has a certain crude and
        primitive grammar, but in point of orthoepy is extremely
        difficult. With our letters I can hardly hope to give an
        accurate conception of its pronunciation. As nearly as possible
        I write its words as they sounded to my ear when carefully
        spoken for my instruction by intelligent natives. It is a harsh

At the same time that each _ytrap_ is supplied with its political opinions
for the next five years, its leaders--who, I am told, all pursue the
vocation of sharpening axes--name a man whom they wish chosen for the
office of _Tnediserp_. He is usually an idiot from birth, the Tamtonians
having a great veneration for such, believing them to be divinely
inspired. Although few members of the _ytrap_ have ever heard of him
before, they at once believe him to have been long the very greatest idiot
in the country; and for the next few months they do little else than quote
his words and point to his actions to prove that his idiocy is of entirely
superior quality to that of his opponent--a view that he himself,
instructed by his discoverers, does and says all that he can to confirm.
His inarticulate mumblings are everywhere repeated as utterances of
profound wisdom, and the slaver that drools from his chin is carefully
collected and shown to the people, evoking the wildest enthusiasm of his
supporters. His opponents all this time are trying to blacken his
character by the foulest conceivable falsehoods, some even going so far as
to assert that he is not an idiot at all! It is generally agreed among
them that if he were chosen to office the most dreadful disasters would
ensue, and that, _therefore_, he will not be chosen.

To this last mentioned conviction, namely that the opposing candidate
(_rehtot lacsar_) cannot possibly be chosen, I wish to devote a few words
here, for it seems to me one of the most extraordinary phenomena of the
human mind. It implies, of course, a profound belief in the wisdom of
majorities and the error of minorities. This belief can and does in some
mysterious way co-exist, in the Tamtonian understanding, with the deepest
disgust and most earnest disapproval of a decision which a majority has
made. It is of record, indeed, that one political _ytrap_ sustained no
fewer than six successive defeats without at all impairing its conviction
that the right side must win. In each recurring contest this ytrap was as
sure that it would succeed as it had been in all the preceding ones--and
sure _because_ it believed itself in the right! It has been held by some
native observers that this conviction is not actually entertained, but
only professed for the purpose of influencing the action of others; but
this is disproved by the fact that even after the contest is decided,
though the result is unknown--when nobody's action can have effect--the
leaders (ax-sharpeners) continue earnestly to "claim" this province and
that, up to the very last moment of uncertainty, and the common people
murder one another in the streets for the crime of doubting that the man
is chosen whom the assassin was pleased to prefer. When the majority of a
province has chosen one candidate and a majority of the nation another,
the mental situation of the worthy Tamtonian is not over-easy of
conception, but there can be no doubt that his faith in the wisdom of
majorities remains unshaken.

One of the two antagonistic idiots having been chosen as ruler, it is
customary to speak of him as "the choice of the people," whereas it is
obvious that he is one of the few men, seldom exceeding two or three, whom
it is certainly known that nearly one-half the people regard as unfit for
the position. He is less certainly "the people's choice" than any other
man in the country excepting his unsuccessful opponents; for while it is
known that a large body of his countrymen did not want him, it cannot be
known how many of his supporters really preferred some other person, but
had no opportunity to make their preference effective.

The Tamtonians are very proud of their form of government, which gives
them so much power in selecting their rulers. This power consists in the
privilege of choosing between two men whom but a few had a voice in
selecting from among many millions, any one of whom the rest might have
preferred to either. Yet every Tamtonian is as vain of possessing this
incalculably small influence as if he were a Warwick in making kings and a
Bismarck in using them. He gives himself as many airs and graces as would
be appropriate to the display of an honest pin-feather upon the
pope's-nose of a mooley peacock.

Each congenital idiot whom the ax-grinders name for the office of
_Tnediserp_ has upon the "ticket" with him a dead man, who stands or falls
with his leader. There is no way of voting for the idiot without voting
for the corpse also, and _vice versa_. When one of these precious couples
has been chosen the idiot in due time enters upon the duties of his office
and the corpse is put into an ice-chest and carefully preserved from
decay. If the idiot should himself become a corpse he is buried at once
and the other body is then haled out of its ice to take his place. It is
propped up in the seat of authority and duly instated in power. This is
the signal for a general attack upon it. It is subjected to every kind of
sacrilegious indignity, vituperated as a usurper and an "accident," struck
with rotten eggs and dead cats, and undergoes the meanest
misrepresentation. Its attitude in the chair, its fallen jaw, glazed eyes
and degree of decomposition are caricatured and exaggerated out of all
reason. Yet such as it is it must be endured for the unexpired term for
which its predecessor was chosen. To guard against a possible interregnum,
however, a law has recently been passed providing that if it should tumble
out of the chair and be too rotten to set up again its clerks
(_seiraterces_) are eligible to its place in a stated order of succession.
Here we have the amazing anomaly of the rulers of a "free" people actually
appointing their potential successors!--a thing inexpressibly repugnant to
all our ideas of popular government, but apparently regarded in Tamtonia
as a matter of course.

During the few months intervening between the ax-men's selection of
candidates and the people's choice between those selected (a period known
as the _laitnediserp ngiapmac_) the Tamtonian character is seen at its
worst. There is no infamy too great or too little for the partisans of the
various candidates to commit and accuse their opponents of committing.
While every one of them declares, and in his heart believes, that honest
arguments have greater weight than dishonest; that falsehood reacts on the
falsifier's cause; that appeals to passion and prejudice are as
ineffectual as dishonorable, few have the strength and sense to deny
themselves the luxury of all these methods and worse ones. The laws
against bribery, made by themselves, are set at naught and those of
civility and good breeding are forgotten. The best of friends quarrel and
openly insult one another. The women, who know almost as little of the
matters at issue as the men, take part in the abominable discussions; some
even encouraging the general demoralization by showing themselves at the
public meetings, sometimes actually putting themselves into uniform and
marching in procession with banners, music and torchlights.

I feel that this last statement will be hardly understood without
explanation. Among the agencies employed by the Tamtonians to prove that
one set of candidates is better than another, or to show that one
political policy is more likely than another to promote the general
prosperity, a high place is accorded to colored rags, flames of fire,
noises made upon brass instruments, inarticulate shouts, explosions of
gunpowder and lines of men walking and riding through the streets in cheap
and tawdry costumes more or less alike. Vast sums of money are expended to
procure these strange evidences of the personal worth of candidates and
the political sanity of ideas. It is very much as if a man should paint
his nose pea-green and stand on his head to convince his neighbors that
his pigs are fed on acorns. Of course the money subscribed for these
various controversial devices is not all wasted; the greater part of it is
pocketed by the ax-grinders by whom it is solicited, and who have invented
the system. That they have invented it for their own benefit seems not to
have occurred to the dupes who pay for it. In the universal madness
everybody believes whatever monstrous and obvious falsehood is told by the
leaders of his own _ytrap_, and nobody listens for a moment to the
exposures of their rascality. Reason has flown shrieking from the scene;
Caution slumbers by the wayside with unbuttoned pocket. It is the
opportunity of thieves!

With a view to abating somewhat the horrors of this recurring season of
depravity, it has been proposed by several wise and decent Tamtonians to
extend the term of office of the _Tnediserp_ to six years instead of five,
but the sharpeners of axes are too powerful to be overthrown. They have
made the people believe that if the man whom the country chooses to rule
it because it thinks him wise and good were permitted to rule it too long
it would be impossible to displace him in punishment for his folly and
wickedness. It is, indeed, far more likely that the term of office will be
reduced to four years than extended to six. The effect can be no less than

In Tamtonia there is a current popular saying dating from many centuries
back and running this way: "_Eht eciffo dluohs kees eht nam, ton eht nam
eht eciffo_"--which may be translated thus: "No citizen ought to try to
secure power for himself, but should be selected by others for his fitness
to exercise it." The sentiment which this wise and decent phrase expresses
has long ceased to have a place in the hearts of those who are
everlastingly repeating it, but with regard to the office of _Tnediserp_
it has still a remnant of the vitality of habit. This, however, is fast
dying out, and a few years ago one of the congenital idiots who was a
candidate for the highest dignity boldly broke the inhibition and made
speeches to the people in advocacy of himself, all over the country. Even
more recently another has uttered his preferences in much the same way,
but with this difference: he did his speechmaking at his own home, the
ax-grinders in his interest rounding up audiences for him and herding them
before his door. One of the two corpses, too, was galvanized into a kind
of ghastly activity and became a talking automaton; but the other had been
too long dead. In a few years more the decent tradition that a man should
not blow his own horn will be obsolete in its application to the high
office, as it is to all the others, but the popular saying will lose none
of its currency for that.

To the American mind nothing can be more shocking than the Tamtonian
practice of openly soliciting political preferment and even paying money
to assist in securing it. With us such immodesty would be taken as proof
of the offender's unfitness to exercise the power which he asks for, or
bear the dignity which, in soliciting it, he belittles. Yet no Tamtonian
ever refused to take the hand of a man guilty of such conduct, and there
have been instances of fathers giving these greedy vulgarians the hands of
their daughters in marriage and thereby assisting to perpetuate the
species. The kind of government given by men who go about begging for the
right to govern can be more easily imagined than endured. In short, I
cannot help thinking that when, unable longer to bear with patience the
evils entailed by the vices and follies of its inhabitants, I sailed away
from the accursed island of Tamtonia, I left behind me the most pestilent
race of rascals and ignoramuses to be found anywhere in the universe; and
I never can sufficiently thank the divine Power who spared me the
disadvantage and shame of being one of them, and cast my lot in this
favored land of goodness and right reason, the blessed abode of public
morality and private worth--of liberty, conscience and common sense.

I was not, however, to reach it without further detention in barbarous
countries. After being at sea four days I was seized by my mutinous crew,
set ashore upon an island, and having been made insensible by a blow upon
the head was basely abandoned.


When I regained my senses I found myself lying on the strand a short
remove from the margin of the sea. It was high noon and an insupportable
itching pervaded my entire frame, that being the effect of sunshine in
that country, as heat is in ours. Having observed that the discomfort was
abated by the passing of a light cloud between me and the sun, I dragged
myself with some difficulty to a clump of trees near by and found
permanent relief in their shade. As soon as I was comfortable enough to
examine my surroundings I saw that the trees were of metal, apparently
copper, with leaves of what resembled pure silver, but may have contained
alloy. Some of the trees bore burnished flowers shaped like bells, and in
a breeze the tinkling as they clashed together was exceedingly sweet. The
grass with which the open country was covered as far as I could see
amongst the patches of forest was of a bright scarlet hue, excepting along
the water-courses, where it was white. Lazily cropping it at some little
distance away, or lying in it, indolently chewing the cud and attended by
a man half-clad in skins and bearing a crook, was a flock of tigers. My
travels in New Jersey having made me proof against surprise, I
contemplated these several visible phenomena without emotion, and with a
merely expectant interest in what might be revealed by further

The tigerherd having perceived me, now came striding forward, brandishing
his crook and shaking his fists with great vehemence, gestures which I
soon learned were, in that country, signs of amity and good-will. But
before knowing that fact I had risen to my feet and thrown myself into a
posture of defense, and as he approached I led for his head with my left,
following with a stiff right upon his solar plexus, which sent him rolling
on the grass in great pain. After learning something of the social customs
of the country I felt extreme mortification in recollecting this breach of
etiquette, and even to this day I cannot think upon it without a blush.

Such was my first meeting with Jogogle-Zadester, Pastor-King of Ug, the
wisest and best of men. Later in our acquaintance, when I had for a long
time been an honored guest at his court, where a thousand fists were
ceremoniously shaken under my nose daily, he explained that my luke-warm
reception of his hospitable advances gave him, for the moment, an
unfavorable impression of my breeding and culture.

The island of Ug, upon which I had been marooned, lies in the Southern
Hemisphere, but has neither latitude nor longitude. It has an area of
nearly seven hundred square _samtains_ and is peculiar in shape, its width
being considerably greater than its length. Politically it is a limited
monarchy, the right of succession to the throne being vested in the
sovereign's father, if he have one; if not in his grandfather, and so on
upward in the line of ascent. (As a matter of fact there has not within
historic times been a legitimate succession, even the great and good
Jogogle-Zadester being a usurper chosen by popular vote.) To assist him in
governing, the King is given a parliament, the Uggard word for which is
_gabagab_, but its usefulness is greatly circumscribed by the _Blubosh_,
or Constitution, which requires that every measure, in order to become a
law, shall have an affirmative majority of the actual members, yet forbids
any member to vote who has not a distinct pecuniary interest in the
result. I was once greatly amused by a spirited contest over a matter of
harbor improvement, each of two proposed harbors having its advocates. One
of these gentlemen, a most eloquent patriot, held the floor for hours in
advocacy of the port where he had an interest in a projected mill for
making dead kittens into cauliflower pickles; while other members were
being vigorously persuaded by one who at the other place had a clam ranch.
In a debate in the Uggard _gabagab_ no one can have a "standing" except a
party in interest; and as a consequence of this enlightened policy every
bill that is passed is found to be most intelligently adapted to its

The original intent of this requirement was that members having no
pecuniary interest in a proposed law at the time of its inception should
not embarrass the proceedings and pervert the result; but the inhibition
is now thought to be sufficiently observed by formal public acceptance of
a nominal bribe to vote one way or the other. It is of course understood
that behind the nominal bribe is commonly a more substantial one of which
there is no record. To an American accustomed to the incorrupt methods of
legislation in his own country the spectacle of every member of the Uggard
_gabagab_ qualifying himself to vote by marching up, each in his turn as
his name is called, to the proponent of the bill, or to its leading
antagonist, and solemnly receiving a _tonusi_ (the smallest coin of the
realm) is exceedingly novel. When I ventured to mention to the King my
lack of faith in the principle upon which this custom is founded, he

"Heart of my soul, if you and your compatriots distrust the honesty and
intelligence of an interested motive why is it that in your own courts of
law, as you describe them, no private citizen can institute a civil action
to right the wrongs of anybody but himself?"

I had nothing to say and the King proceeded: "And why is it that your
judges will listen to no argument from any one who has not acquired a
selfish concern in the matter?"

"O, your Majesty," I answered with animation, "they listen to
attorneys-general, district attorneys and salaried officers of the law
generally, whose prosperity depends in no degree upon their success; who
prosecute none but those whom they believe to be guilty; who are careful
to present no false nor misleading testimony and argument; who are
solicitous that even the humblest accused person shall be accorded every
legal right and every advantage to which he is entitled; who, in brief,
are animated by the most humane sentiments and actuated by the purest and
most unselfish motives."

The King's discomfiture was pitiful: he retired at once from the capital
and passed a whole year pasturing his flock of tigers in the solitudes
beyond the River of Wine. Seeing that I would henceforth be _persona non
grata_ at the palace, I sought obscurity in the writing and publication of
books. In this vocation I was greatly assisted by a few standard works
that had been put ashore with me in my sea-chest.

The literature of Ug is copious and of high merit, but consists altogether
of fiction--mainly history, biography, theology and novels. Authors of
exceptional excellence receive from the state marks of signal esteem,
being appointed to the positions of laborers in the Department of Highways
and Cemeteries. Having been so fortunate as to win public favor and
attract official attention by my locally famous works, "The Decline and
Fall of the Roman Empire," "David Copperfield," "Pilgrim's Progress," and
"Ben Hur," I was myself that way distinguished and my future assured.
Unhappily, through ignorance of the duties and dignities of the position I
had the mischance to accept a gratuity for sweeping a street crossing and
was compelled to flee for my life.

Disguising myself as a sailor I took service on a ship that sailed due
south into the unknown Sea.

It is now many years since my marooning on Ug, but my recollection of the
country, its inhabitants and their wonderful manners and customs is
exceedingly vivid. Some small part of what most interested me I shall here
set down.

The Uggards are, or fancy themselves, a warlike race: nowhere in those
distant seas are there any islanders so vain of their military power, the
consciousness of which they acquired chiefly by fighting one another. Many
years ago, however, they had a war with the people of another island
kingdom, called Wug. The Wuggards held dominion over a third island,
Scamadumclitchclitch, whose people had tried to throw off the yoke. In
order to subdue them--at least to tears--it was decided to deprive them of
garlic, the sole article of diet known to them and the Wuggards, and in
that country dug out of the ground like coal. So the Wuggards in the
rebellious island stopped up all the garlic mines, supplying their own
needs by purchase from foreign trading proas. Having few cowrie shells,
with which to purchase, the poor Scamadumclitchclitchians suffered a great
distress, which so touched the hearts of the compassionate Uggards--a most
humane and conscientious people--that they declared war against the
Wuggards and sent a fleet of proas to the relief of the sufferers. The
fleet established a strict blockade of every port in Scamadumclitchclitch,
and not a clove of garlic could enter the island. That compelled the
Wuggard army of occupation to reopen the mines for its own subsistence.

All this was told to me by the great and good and wise Jogogle-Zadester,
King of Ug.

"But, your Majesty," I said, "what became of the poor

"They all died," he answered with royal simplicity.

"Then your Majesty's humane intervention," I said, "was not
entirely--well, fattening?"

"The fortune of war," said the King, gravely, looking over my head to
signify that the interview was at an end; and I retired from the Presence
on hands and feet, as is the etiquette in that country.

As soon as I was out of hearing I threw a stone in the direction of the
palace and said: "I never in my life heard of such a cold-blooded

In conversation with the King's Prime Minister, the famous Grumsquutzy, I
asked him how it was that Ug, being a great military power, was apparently
without soldiers.

"Sir," he replied, courteously shaking his fist under my nose in sign of
amity, "know that when Ug needs soldiers she enlists them. At the end of
the war they are put to death."

"Visible embodiment of a great nation's wisdom," I said, "far be it from
me to doubt the expediency of that military method; but merely as a matter
of economy would it not be better to keep an army in time of peace than to
be compelled to create one in time of war?"

"Ug is rich," he replied; "we do not have to consider matters of economy.
There is among our people a strong and instinctive distrust of a standing

"What are they afraid of," I asked--what do they fear that it will do?"

"It is not what the army may do," answered the great man, "but what it may
prevent others from doing. You must know that we have in this land a thing
known as Industrial Discontent."

"Ah, I see," I exclaimed, interrupting--"the industrial classes fear that
the army may destroy, or at least subdue, their discontent."

The Prime Minister reflected profoundly, standing the while, in order that
he might assist his faculties by scratching himself, even as we, when
thinking, scratch our heads.

"No," he said presently; "I don't think that is quite what they
apprehend--they and the writers and statesmen who speak for them. As I
said before, what is feared in a case of industrial discontent is the
army's preventive power. But I am myself uncertain what it is that these
good souls dislike to have the army prevent. I shall take the customary
means to learn."

Having occasion on the next day to enter the great audience hall of the
palace I observed in gigantic letters running across the entire side
opposite the entrance this surprising inscription:

"In a strike, what do you fear that the army will prevent which ought to
be done?"

Facing the entrance sat Grumsquutzy, in his robes of office and surrounded
by an armed guard. At a little distance stood two great black slaves, each
bearing a scourge of thongs. All about them the floor was slippery with
blood. While I wondered at all this two policemen entered, having between
them one whom I recognized as a professional Friend of the People, a great
orator, keenly concerned for the interests of Labor. Shown the inscription
and unable or unwilling to answer, he was given over to the two blacks
and, being stripped to the skin, was beaten with the whips until he bled
copiously and his cries resounded through the palace. His ears were then
shorn away and he was thrown into the street. Another Friend of the People
was brought in, and treated in the same way; and the inquiry was
continued, day after day, until all had been interrogated. But Grumsquutzy
got no answer.

A most extraordinary and interesting custom of the Uggards is called the
_Naganag_ and has existed, I was told, for centuries. Immediately after
every war, and before the returned army is put to death, the chieftains
who have held high command and their official head, the Minister of
National Displeasure, are conducted with much pomp to the public square of
Nabootka, the capital. Here all are stripped naked, deprived of their
sight with a hot iron and armed with a club each. They are then locked in
the square, which has an inclosing wall thirty _clowgebs_ high. A signal
is given and they begin to fight. At the end of three days the place is
entered and searched. If any of the dead bodies has an unbroken bone in it
the survivors are boiled in wine; if not they are smothered in butter.

Upon the advantages of this custom--which surely has not its like in the
whole world--I could get little light. One public official told me its
purpose was "peace among the victorious"; another said it was "for
gratification of the military instinct in high places," though if that is
so one is disposed to ask "What was the war for?" The Prime Minister,
profoundly learned in all things else, could not enlighten me, and the
commander-in-chief in the Wuggard war could only tell me, while on his way
to the public square, that it was "to vindicate the truth of history."

In all the wars in which Ug has engaged in historic times that with Wug
was the most destructive of life. Excepting among the comparatively few
troops that had the hygienic and preservative advantage of personal
collision with the enemy, the mortality was appalling. Regiments exposed
to the fatal conditions of camp life in their own country died like flies
in a frost. So pathetic were the pleas of the sufferers to be led against
the enemy and have a chance to live that none hearing them could forbear
to weep. Finally a considerable number of them went to the seat of war,
where they began an immediate attack upon a fortified city, for their
health; but the enemy's resistance was too brief materially to reduce the
death rate and the men were again in the hands of their officers. On their
return to Ug they were so few that the public executioners charged with
the duty of reducing the army to a peace footing were themselves made ill
by inactivity.

As to the navy, the war with Wug having shown the Uggard sailors to be
immortal, their government knows not how to get rid of them, and remains a
great sea power in spite of itself. I ventured to suggest mustering out,
but neither the King nor any Minister of State was able to form a
conception of any method of reduction and retrenchment but that of the
public headsman.

It is said--I do not know with how much truth--that the defeat of Wug was
made easy by a certain malicious prevision of the Wuggards themselves:
something of the nature of heroic self-sacrifice, the surrender of a
present advantage for a terrible revenge in the future. As an instance,
the commander of the fortified city already mentioned is reported to have
ordered his garrison to kill as few of their assailants as possible.

"It is true," he explained to his subordinates, who favored a defense to
the death--"it is true this will lose us the place, but there are other
places; you have not thought of that."

They had not thought of that.

"It is true, too, that we shall be taken prisoners, but"--and he smiled
grimly--"we have fairly good appetites, and we must be fed. That will cost
something, I take it. But that is not the best of it. Look at that vast
host of our enemies--each one of them a future pensioner on a fool people.
If there is among us one man who would willingly deprive the Uggard
treasury of a single dependent--who would spare the Uggard pigs one
_gukwam_ of expense, let the traitor stand forth."

No traitor stood forth, and in the ensuing battles the garrison, it is
said, fired only blank cartridges, and such of the assailants as were
killed incurred that mischance by falling over their own feet.

It is estimated by Wuggard statisticians that in twenty years from the
close of the war the annual appropriation for pensions in Ug will amount
to no less than one hundred and sixty _gumdums_ to every enlisted man in
the kingdom. But they know not the Uggard customs of exterminating the


A about the end of the thirty-seventh month of our voyage due south from
Ug we sighted land, and although the coast appeared wild and inhospitable,
the captain decided to send a boat ashore in search of fresh water and
provisions, of which we were in sore need. I was of the boat's crew and
thought myself fortunate in being able to set foot again upon the earth.
There were seven others in the landing party, including the mate, who

Selecting a sheltered cove, which appeared to be at the mouth of a small
creek, we beached the boat, and leaving two men to guard it started inland
toward a grove of trees. Before we reached it an animal came out of it and
advanced confidently toward us, showing no signs of either fear or
hostility. It was a hideous creature, not altogether like anything that we
had ever seen, but on its close approach we recognized it as a dog, of an
unimaginably loathsome breed. As we were nearly famished one of the
sailors shot it for food. Instantly a great crowd of persons, who had
doubtless been watching us from among the trees, rushed upon us with
fierce exclamations and surrounded us, making the most threatening
gestures and brandishing unfamiliar weapons. Unable to resist such odds we
were seized, bound with cords and dragged into the forest almost before we
knew what had happened to us. Observing the nature of our reception the
ship's crew hastily weighed anchor and sailed away. We never again saw

Beyond the trees concealing it from the sea was a great city, and thither
we were taken. It was Gumammam, the capital of Ganegwag, whose people are
dog-worshipers. The fate of my companions I never learned, for although I
remained in the country for seven years, much of the time as a prisoner,
and learned to speak its language, no answer was ever given to my many
inquiries about my unfortunate friends.

The Ganegwagians are an ancient race with a history covering a period of
ten thousand _supintroes_. In stature they are large, in color blue, with
crimson hair and yellow eyes. They live to a great age, sometimes as much
as twenty _supintroes_, their climate being so wholesome that even the
aged have to sail to a distant island in order to die. Whenever a
sufficient number of them reach what they call "the age of going away"
they embark on a government ship and in the midst of impressive public
rites and ceremonies set sail for "the Isle of the Happy Change." Of their
strange civilization, their laws, manners and customs, their copper
clothing and liquid houses I have written--at perhaps too great length--in
my famous book, "Ganegwag the Incredible." Here I shall confine myself to
their religion, certainly the most amazing form of superstition in the

Nowhere, it is believed, but in Ganegwag has so vile a creature as the dog
obtained general recognition as a deity. There this filthy beast is
considered so divine that it is freely admitted to the domestic circle and
cherished as an honored guest. Scarcely a family that is able to support a
dog is without one, and some have as many as a half-dozen. Indeed, the dog
is the special deity of the poor, those families having most that are
least able to maintain them. In some sections of the country, particularly
the southern and southwestern provinces, the number of dogs is estimated
to be greater than that of the children, as is the cost of their
maintenance. In families of the rich they are fewer in number, but more
sacredly cherished, especially by the female members, who lavish upon them
a wealth of affection not always granted to the husband and children, and
distinguish them with indescribable attentions and endearments.

Nowhere is the dog compelled to make any other return for all this honor
and benefaction than a fawning and sycophantic demeanor toward those who
bestow them and an insulting and injurious attitude toward strangers who
have dogs of their own, and toward other dogs. In any considerable town of
the realm not a day passes but the public newsman relates in the most
matter-of-fact and unsympathetic way to his circle of listless auditors
painful instances of human beings, mostly women and children, bitten and
mangled by these ferocious animals without provocation.

In addition to these ravages of the dog in his normal state are a vastly
greater number of outrages committed by the sacred animal in the fury of
insanity, for he has an hereditary tendency to madness, and in that state
his bite is incurable, the victim awaiting in the most horrible agony the
sailing of the next ship to the Isle of the Happy Change, his suffering
imperfectly medicined by expressions of public sympathy for the dog.

A cynical citizen of Gumammam said to the writer of this narrative: "My
countrymen have three hundred kinds of dogs, and only one way to hang a
thief." Yet all the dogs are alike in this, that none is respectable.

Withal, it must be said of this extraordinary people that their horrible
religion is free from the hollow forms and meaningless ceremonies in which
so many superstitions of the lower races find expression. It is a religion
of love, practical, undemonstrative, knowing nothing of pageantry and
spectacle. It is hidden in the lives and hearts of the people; a stranger
would hardly know of its existence as a distinct faith. Indeed, other
faiths and better ones (one of them having some resemblance to a debased
form of Christianity) co-exist with it, sometimes in the same mind.
Cynolatry is tolerant so long as the dog is not denied an equal divinity
with the deities of other faiths. Nevertheless, I could not think of the
people of Ganegwag without contempt and loathing; so it was with no small
joy that I sailed for the contiguous island of Ghargaroo to consult,
according to my custom, the renowned statesman and philosopher,
Juptka-Getch, who was accounted the wisest man in all the world, and held
in so high esteem that no one dared speak to him without the sovereign's
permission, countersigned by the Minister of Morals and Manners.


Through the happy accident of having a mole on the left side of my nose,
as had also a cousin of the Prime Minister, I obtained a royal rescript
permitting me to speak to the great Juptka-Getch, and went humbly to his
dwelling, which, to my astonishment, I found to be an unfurnished cave in
the side of a mountain. Inexpressibly surprised to observe that a favorite
of the sovereign and the people was so meanly housed, I ventured, after my
salutation, to ask how this could be so. Regarding me with an indulgent
smile, the venerable man, who was about two hundred and fifty years old
and entirely bald, explained.

"In one of our Sacred Books, of which we have three thousand," said he,
"it is written, '_Golooloo ek wakwah betenka_,' and in another, '_Jebeb uq
seedroy im aboltraqu ocrux ti smelkit_.'"

Translated, these mean, respectively, "The poor are blessed," and, "Heaven
is not easily entered by those who are rich."

I asked Juptka-Getch if his countrymen really gave to these texts a
practical application in the affairs of life.

"Why, surely," he replied, "you cannot think us such fools as to disregard
the teachings of our gods! That would be madness. I cannot imagine a
people so mentally and morally depraved as that! Can you?"

Observing me blushing and stammering, he inquired the cause of my
embarrassment. "The thought of so incredible a thing confuses me," I
managed to reply. "But tell me if in your piety and wisdom you really
stripped yourself of all your property in order to obey the gods and get
the benefit of indigence."

"I did not have to do so," he replied with a smile; "my King attended to
that. When he wishes to distinguish one of his subjects by a mark of his
favor, he impoverishes him to such a degree as will attest the exact
measure of the royal approbation. I am proud to say that he took from me
all that I had."

"But, pardon me," I said; "how does it occur that among a people which
regards poverty as the greatest earthly good all are not poor? I observe
here as much wealth and 'prosperity' as in my own country."

Juptka-Getch smiled and after a few moments answered: "The only person in
this country that owns anything is the King; in the service of his people
he afflicts himself with that burden. All property, of whatsoever kind, is
his, to do with as he will. He divides it among his subjects in the ratio
of their demerit, as determined by the _waguks_--local officers--whose
duty it is to know personally every one in their jurisdiction. To the most
desperate and irreclaimable criminals is allotted the greatest wealth,
which is taken from them, little by little, as they show signs of

"But what," said I, "is to prevent the wicked from becoming poor at any
time? How can the King and his officers keep the unworthy, suffering the
punishment and peril of wealth, from giving it away?"

"To whom, for example?" replied the illustrious man, taking the forefinger
of his right hand into his mouth, as is the fashion in Ghargaroo when
awaiting an important communication. The respectful formality of the
posture imperfectly concealed the irony of the question, but I was not of
the kind to be easily silenced.

"One might convert one's property into money," I persisted, "and throw the
money into the sea."

Juptka-Getch released the finger and gravely answered: "Every person in
Ghargaroo is compelled by law to keep minute accounts of his income and
expenditures, and must swear to them. There is an annual appraisement by
the _waguk_, and any needless decrease in the value of an estate is
punished by breaking the offender's legs. Expenditures for luxuries and
high living are, of course, approved, for it is universally known among
us, and attested by many popular proverbs, that the pleasures of the rich
are vain and disappointing. So they are considered a part of the
punishment, and not only allowed but required. A man sentenced to wealth
who lives frugally, indulging in only rational and inexpensive delights,
has his ears cut off for the first offense, and for the second is
compelled to pass six months at court, participating in all the gaieties,
extravagances and pleasures of the capital, and----"

"Most illustrious of mortals," I said, turning a somersault--the
Ghargarese manner of interrupting a discourse without offense--"I am as
the dust upon your beard, but in my own country I am esteemed no fool, and
right humbly do I perceive that you are _ecxroptug nemk puttog peleemy_."

This expression translates, literally, "giving me a fill," a phrase
without meaning in our tongue, but in Ghargarese it appears to imply

"The gaieties of the King's court," I continued, "must be expensive. The
courtiers of the sovereign's entourage, the great officers of the
realm--surely they are not condemned to wealth, like common criminals!"

"My son," said Juptka-Getch, tearing out a handful of his beard to signify
his tranquillity under accusation, "your doubt of my veracity is noted
with satisfaction, but it is not permitted to you to impeach my
sovereign's infallible knowledge of character. His courtiers, the great
officers of the realm, as you truly name them, are the richest men in the
country because he knows them to be the greatest rascals. After each
annual reapportionment of the national wealth he settles upon them the
unallotted surplus."

Prostrating myself before the eminent philosopher, I craved his pardon for
my doubt of his sovereign's wisdom and consistency, and begged him to cut
off my head.

"Nay," he said, "you have committed the unpardonable sin and I cannot
consent to bestow upon you the advantages of death. You shall continue to
live the thing that you are."

"What!" I cried, remembering the Lalugwumps and Gnarmag-Zote, "is it
thought in Ghargaroo that death is an advantage, a blessing?"

"Our Sacred Books," he said, "are full of texts affirming the vanity of

"Then," I said, "I infer that the death penalty is unknown to your laws!"

"We have the life penalty instead. Convicted criminals are not only
enriched, as already explained, but by medical attendance kept alive as
long as possible. On the contrary, the very righteous, who have been
rewarded with poverty, are permitted to die whenever it pleases them.

"Do not the Sacred Books of your country teach the vanity of life, the
blessedness of poverty and the wickedness of wealth?"

"They do, O Most Illustrious, they do."

"And your countrymen believe?"

"Surely--none but the foolish and depraved entertain a doubt."

"Then I waste my breath in expounding laws and customs already known to
you. You have, of course, the same."

At this I averted my face and blushed so furiously that the walls of the
cave were illuminated with a wavering crimson like the light of a great
conflagration! Thinking that the capital city was ablaze, Juptka-Getch ran
from the cave's mouth, crying, "Fire, fire!" and I saw him no more.


My next voyage was not so prosperous. By violent storms lasting seven
weeks, during which we saw neither the sun nor the stars, our ship was
driven so far out of its course that the captain had no knowledge of where
we were. At the end of that period we were blown ashore and wrecked on a
coast so wild and desolate that I had never seen anything so terrifying.
Through a manifest interposition of Divine Providence I was spared, though
all my companions perished miserably in the waves that had crushed the
ship among the rocks.

As soon as I was sufficiently recovered from my fatigue and bruises, and
had rendered thanks to merciful Heaven for my deliverance, I set out for
the interior of the country, taking with me a cutlas for protection
against wild beasts and a bag of sea-biscuit for sustenance. I walked
vigorously, for the weather was then cool and pleasant, and after I had
gone a few miles from the inhospitable coast I found the country open and
level. The earth was covered with a thick growth of crimson grass, and at
wide intervals were groups of trees. These were very tall, their tops in
many instances invisible in a kind of golden mist, or haze, which proved
to be, not a transient phenomenon, but a permanent one, for never in that
country has the sun been seen, nor is there any night. The haze seems to
be self-luminous, giving a soft, yellow light, so diffused that shadows
are unknown. The land is abundantly supplied with pools and rivulets,
whose water is of a beautiful orange color and has a pleasing perfume
somewhat like attar of rose. I observed all this without surprise and with
little apprehension, and went forward, feeling that anything, however
novel and mysterious, was better than the familiar terrors of the sea and
the coast.

After traveling a long time, though how long I had not the means to
determine, I arrived at the city of Momgamwo, the capital of the kingdom
of Batrugia, on the mainland of the Hidden Continent, where it is always
twelve o'clock.

The Batrugians are of gigantic stature, but mild and friendly disposition.
They offered me no violence, seeming rather amused by my small stature.
One of them, who appeared to be a person of note and consequence, took me
to his house (their houses are but a single story in height and built of
brass blocks), set food before me, and by signs manifested the utmost good
will. A long time afterward, when I had learned the language of the
country, he explained that he had recognized me as an American pigmy, a
race of which he had some little knowledge through a letter from a
brother, who had been in my country. He showed me the letter, of which the
chief part is here presented in translation:

"You ask me, my dear Tgnagogu, to relate my adventures among the
Americans, as they call themselves. My adventures were very brief, lasting
altogether not more than three _gumkas_, and most of the time was passed
in taking measures for my own safety.

"My skyship, which had been driven for six moons before an irresistible
gale, passed over a great city just at daylight one morning, and rather
than continue the voyage with a lost reckoning I demanded that I be
permitted to disembark. My wish was respected, and my companions soared
away without me. Before night I had escaped from the city, by what means
you know, and with my remarkable experiences in returning to civilization
all Batrugia is familiar. The description of the strange city I have
reserved for you, by whom only could I hope to be believed. Nyork, as its
inhabitants call it, is a city of inconceivable extent--not less, I should
judge, than seven square _glepkeps_! Of the number of its inhabitants I
can only say that they are as the sands of the desert. They wear
clothing--of a hideous kind, 'tis true--speak an apparently copious though
harsh language, and seem to have a certain limited intelligence. They are
puny in stature, the tallest of them being hardly higher than my breast.

"Nevertheless, Nyork is a city of giants. The magnitude of all things
artificial there is astounding! My dear Tgnagogu, words can give you no
conception of it. Many of the buildings, I assure you, are as many as
fifty _sprugas_ in height, and shelter five thousand persons each. And
these stupendous structures are so crowded together that to the spectator
in the narrow streets below they seem utterly devoid of design and
symmetry--mere monstrous aggregations of brick, stone and metal--mountains
of masonry, cliffs and crags of architecture hanging in the sky!

"A city of giants inhabited by pigmies! For you must know, oh friend of my
liver, that the rearing of these mighty structures could not be the work
of the puny folk that swarm in ceaseless activity about their bases. These
fierce little savages invaded the island in numbers so overwhelming that
the giant builders had to flee before them. Some escaped across great
bridges which, with the help of their gods, they had suspended in the air
from bank to bank of a wide river parting the island from the mainland,
but many could do no better than mount some of the buildings that they had
reared, and there, in these inaccessible altitudes, they dwell to-day,
still piling stone upon stone. Whether they do this in obedience to their
instinct as builders, or in hope to escape by way of the heavens, I had
not the means to learn, being ignorant of the pigmy tongue and in
continual fear of the crowds that followed me.

"You can see the giants toiling away up there in the sky, laying in place
the enormous beams and stones which none but they could handle. They look
no bigger than beetles, but you know that they are many _sprugas_ in
stature, and you shudder to think what would ensue if one should lose his
footing. Fancy that great bulk whirling down to earth from so dizzy an

"May birds ever sing above your grave.


By my new friend, Tgnagogu, I was presented to the King, a most
enlightened monarch, who not only reigned over, but ruled absolutely, the
most highly civilized people in the world. He received me with gracious
hospitality, quartered me in the palace of his Prime Minister, gave me for
wives the three daughters of his Lord Chamberlain, and provided me with an
ample income from the public revenues. Within a year I had made a fair
acquaintance with the Batrugian language, and was appointed royal
interpreter, with a princely salary, although no one speaking any other
tongue, myself and two native professors of rhetoric excepted, had ever
been seen in the kingdom.

One day I heard a great tumult in the street, and going to a window saw,
in a public square opposite, a crowd of persons surrounding some high
officials who were engaged in cutting off a man's head. Just before the
executioner delivered the fatal stroke, the victim was asked if he had
anything to say. He explained with earnestness that the deed for which he
was about to suffer had been inspired and commanded by a brass-headed cow
and four bushels of nightingales' eggs!

"Hold! hold!" I shouted in Batrugian, leaping from the window and forcing
a way through the throng; "the man is obviously insane!"

"Friend," said a man in a long blue robe, gently restraining me, "it is
not proper for you to interrupt these high proceedings with irrelevant
remarks. The luckless gentleman who, in accordance with my will as Lord
Chief Justice, has just had the happiness to part with his head was so
inconsiderate as to take the life of a fellow-subject."

"But he was insane," I persisted, "clearly and indisputably _ptig nupy
uggydug_!"--a phrase imperfectly translatable, meaning, as near as may be,
having flitter-mice in his campanile.

"Am I to infer," said the Lord Chief Justice, "that in your own honorable
country a person accused of murder is permitted to plead insanity as a
reason why he should not be put to death?"

"Yes, illustrious one," I replied, respectfully, "we regard that as a good

"Well," said he slowly, but with extreme emphasis, "I'll be _Gook

("_Gook_," I may explain, is the name of the Batrugian chief deity; but
for the verb "to swottle" the English tongue has no equivalent. It seems
to signify the deepest disapproval, and by a promise to be "_swottled_" a
Batrugian denotes acute astonishment.)

"Surely," I said, "so wise and learned a person as you cannot think it
just to punish with death one who does not know right from wrong. The
gentleman who has just now renounced his future believed himself to have
been commanded to do what he did by a brass-headed cow and four bushels of
nightingales' eggs--powers to which he acknowledged a spiritual
allegiance. To have disobeyed would have been, from his point of view, an
infraction of a law higher than that of man."

"Honorable but erring stranger," replied the famous jurist, "if we
permitted the prisoner in a murder trial to urge such a consideration as
that--if our laws recognized any other justification than that he believed
himself in peril of immediate death or great bodily injury--nearly all
assassins would make some such defense. They would plead insanity of some
kind and degree, and it would be almost impossible to establish their
guilt. Murder trials would be expensive and almost interminable, defiled
with perjury and sentiment. Juries would be deluded and confused, justice
baffled, and red-handed man-killers turned loose to repeat their crimes
and laugh at the law. Even as the law is, in a population of only one
hundred million we have had no fewer than three homicides in less than
twenty years! With such statutes and customs as yours we should have had
at least twice as many. Believe me, I know my people; they have not the
American respect for human life."

As blushing is deemed in Batrugia a sign of pride, I turned my back upon
the speaker--an act which, fortunately, signifies a desire to hear more.

"Law," he continued, "is for the good of the greatest number. Execution of
an actual lunatic now and then is not an evil to the community, nor, when
rightly considered, to the lunatic himself. He is better off when dead,
and society is profited by his removal. We are spared the cost of exposing
imposture, the humiliation of acquitting the guilty, the peril of their
freedom, the contagion of their evil example."

"In my country," I said, "we have a saying to the effect that it is better
that ninety-nine guilty escape than that one innocent be punished."

"It is better," said he, "for the ninety-nine guilty, but distinctly worse
for everybody else. Sir," he concluded with chilling austerity, "I infer
from their proverb that your countrymen are the most offensive blockheads
in existence."

By way of refutation I mentioned the English, indignantly withdrew from
the country and set sail for Gokeetle-guk, or, as we should translate the
name, Trustland.


Arriving at the capital of the country after many incredible adventures, I
was promptly arrested by the police and taken before the Jumjum. He was an
exceedingly affable person, and held office by appointment, "for life or
fitness," as their laws express it. With one necessary exception all
offices are appointive and the tenure of all except that is the same. The
Panjandrum, or, as we should call him, King, is elected for a term of ten
years, at the expiration of which he is shot. It is held that any man who
has been so long in high authority will have committed enough sins and
blunders to deserve death, even if none can be specifically proved.

Brought into the presence of the Jumjum, who graciously saluted me, I was
seated on a beautiful rug and told in broken English by an interpreter who
had escaped from Kansas that I was at liberty to ask any questions that I

"Your Highness," I said, addressing the Jumjum through the interpreting
Populist, "I fear that I do not understand; I expected, not to ask
questions, but to have to answer them. I am ready to give such an account
of myself as will satisfy you that I am an honest man--neither a criminal
nor a spy."

"The gentleman seems to regard himself with a considerable interest," said
the Jumjum, aside to an officer of his suite--a remark which the
interpreter, with characteristic intelligence, duly repeated to me. Then
addressing me the Jumjum said:

"Doubtless your personal character is an alluring topic, but it is
relevant to nothing in any proceedings that can be taken here. When a
foreigner arrives in our capital he is brought before me to be instructed
in whatever he may think it expedient for him to know of the manners,
customs, laws, and so forth, of the country that he honors with his
presence. It matters nothing to us what he is, but much to him what we
are. You are at liberty to inquire."

I was for a moment overcome with emotion by so noble an example of
official civility and thoughtfulness, then, after a little reflection, I
said: "May it please your Highness, I should greatly like to be informed
of the origin of the name of your esteemed country."

"Our country," said the Jumjum, acknowledging the compliment by a movement
of his ears, "is called Trustland because all its industries, trades and
professions are conducted by great aggregations of capital known as
'trusts.' They do the entire business of the country."

"Good God!" I exclaimed; "what a terrible state of affairs that is! I know
about trusts. Why do your people not rise and throw off the yoke?"

"You are pleased to be unintelligible," said the great man, with a smile.
"Would you mind explaining what you mean by 'the yoke'?"

"I mean," said I, surprised by his ignorance of metaphor, but reflecting
that possibly the figures of rhetoric were not used in that country--"I
mean the oppression, the slavery under which your people groan, their
bond-age to the tyrannical trusts, entailing poverty, unrequited toil and
loss of self-respect."

"Why, as to that," he replied, "our people are prosperous and happy. There
is very little poverty and what there is is obviously the result of vice
or improvidence. Our labor is light and all the necessaries of life, many
of the comforts and some of the luxuries are abundant and cheap. I hardly
know what you mean by the tyranny of the trusts; they do not seem to care
to be tyrannous, for each having the entire market for what it produces,
its prosperity is assured and there is none of the strife and competition
which, as I can imagine, might breed hardness and cruelty. Moreover, we
should not let them be tyrannous. Why should we?"

"But, your Highness, suppose, for example, the trust that manufactures
safety pins should decide to double the price of its product. What is to
prevent great injury to the consumer?"

"The courts. Having but one man--the responsible manager--to deal with,
protective legislation and its enforcement would be a very simple matter.
If there were a thousand manufacturers of safety pins, scattered all over
the country in as many jurisdictions, there would be no controlling them
at all. They would cheat, not only one another but the consumers, with
virtual immunity. But there is no disposition among our trusts to do any
such thing. Each has the whole market, as I said, and each has learned by
experience what the manager of a large business soon must learn, and what
the manager of a small one probably would not learn and could not afford
to apply if he knew it--namely, that low prices bring disproportionately
large sales and therefore profits. Prices in this country are never put up
except when some kind of scarcity increases the cost of production.
Besides, nearly all the consumers are a part of the trusts, the stock of
which is about the best kind of property for investment."

"What!" I cried,--"do not the managers so manipulate the stock by
'watering' it and otherwise as to fool and cheat the small investors?"

"We should not permit them. That would be dishonest."

"So it is in my country," I replied, rather tartly, for I believed his
apparent _naïveté_ assumed for my confusion, "but we are unable to prevent

He looked at me somewhat compassionately, I thought. "Perhaps," he said,
"not enough of you really wish to prevent it. Perhaps your people
are--well, different from mine--not worse, you understand--just

I felt the blood go into my cheeks and hot words were upon my tongue's
end, but I restrained them; the conditions for a quarrel were not
favorable to my side of it. When I had mastered my chagrin and resentment
I said:

"In my country when trusts are formed a great number of persons suffer,
whether the general consumer does or not--many small dealers, middle men,
drummers and general employees. The small dealer is driven out of the
business by underselling. The middle man is frequently ignored, the trust
dealing directly, or nearly so, with the consumer. The drummer is
discharged because, competition having disappeared, custom must come
without solicitation. Consolidation lets out swarms of employees of the
individual concerns consolidated, for it is nearly as easy to conduct one
large concern as a dozen smaller ones. These people get great sympathy
from the public and the newspapers and their case is obviously pitiable.
Was it not so in this country during the transition stage, and did not
these poor gentlemen have to"--the right words would not come; I hardly
knew how to finish. "Were they not compelled to go to work?" I finally
asked, rather humbly.

The great official was silent for several minutes. Then he spoke.

"I am not sure that I understand you about our transition state. So far as
our history goes matters with us have always been as they are to-day. To
suppose them to have been otherwise would be to impugn the common sense of
our ancestors. Nor do I quite know what you mean by 'small dealers,'
'middle men,' 'drummers,' and so forth."

He paused and fell into meditation, when suddenly his face was suffused
with the light of a happy thought. It so elated him that he sprang to his
feet and with his staff of office broke the heads of his Chief Admonisher
of the Inimical and his Second Assistant Audible Sycophant. Then he said:

"I think I comprehend. Some eighty-five years ago, soon after my induction
into office, there came to the court of the Panjandrum a man of this city
who had been cast upon the island of Chicago (which I believe belongs to
the American archipelago) and had passed many years there in business with
the natives. Having learned all their customs and business methods he
returned to his own country and laid before the Panjandrum a comprehensive
scheme of commercial reform. He and his scheme were referred to me, the
Panjandrum being graciously pleased to be unable to make head or tail of
it. I may best explain it in its application to a single industry--the
manufacture and sale of gootles."

"What is a gootle?" I asked.

"A metal weight for attachment to the tail of a donkey to keep him from
braying," was the answer. "It is known in this country that a donkey
cannot utter a note unless he can lift his tail. Then, as now, gootles
were made by a single concern having a great capital invested and an
immense plant, and employing an army of workmen. It dealt, as it does
to-day, directly with consumers. Afflicted with a sonant donkey a man
would write to the trust and receive his gootle by return mail, or go
personally to the factory and carry his purchase home on his
shoulder--according to where he lived. The reformer said this was
primitive, crude and injurious to the interests of the public and
especially the poor. He proposed that the members of the gootle trust
divide their capital and each member go into the business of making
gootles for himself--I do not mean for his personal use--in different
parts of the country. But none of them was to sell to consumers, but to
other men, who would sell in quantity to still other men, who would sell
single gootles for domestic use. Each manufacturer would of course require
a full complement of officers, clerks and so forth, as would the other
men--everybody but the consumer--and each would have to support them and
make a profit himself. Competition would be so sharp that solicitors would
have to be employed to make sales; and they too must have a living out of
the business. Honored stranger, am I right in my inference that the
proposed system has something in common with the one which obtains in your
own happy, enlightened and prosperous country, and which you would

I did not care to reply.

"Of course," the Jumjum continued, "all this would greatly have enhanced
the cost of gootles, thereby lessening the sales, thereby reducing the
output, thereby throwing a number of workmen out of employment. You see
this, do you not, O guest of my country?"

"Pray tell me," I said, "what became of the reformer who proposed all this

"All this change? Why, sir, the one-thousandth part is not told: he
proposed that his system should be general: not only in the gootle trust,
but every trust in the country was to be broken up in the same way! When I
had him before me, and had stated my objections to the plan, I asked him
what were its advantages.

"'Sir,' he replied, 'I speak for millions of gentlemen in uncongenial
employments, mostly manual and fatiguing. This would give them the kind of
activity that they would like--such as their class enjoys in other
countries where my system is in full flower, and where it is deemed so
sacred that any proposal for its abolition or simplification by trusts is
regarded with horror, especially by the working men.'

"Having reported to the Panjandrum (whose vermiform appendix may good
angels have in charge) and received his orders, I called the reformer
before me and addressed him thus:

"'Illustrious economist, I have the honor to inform you that in the royal
judgment your proposal is the most absurd, impudent and audacious ever
made; that the system which you propose to set up is revolutionary and
mischievous beyond the dreams of treason; that only in a nation of rogues
and idiots could it have a moment's toleration.'

"He was about to reply, but cutting his throat to intimate that the
hearing was at an end, I withdrew from the Hall of Audience, as under
similar circumstances I am about to do now."

I withdrew first by way of a window, and after a terrible journey of six
years in the Dolorous Mountains and on the Desert of Despair came to the
western coast. Here I built a ship and after a long voyage landed on one
of the islands constituting the Kingdom of Tortirra.


Of this unknown country and its inhabitants I have written a large volume
which nothing but the obstinacy of publishers has kept from the world, and
which I trust will yet see the light. Naturally, I do not wish to publish
at this time anything that will sate public curiosity, and this brief
sketch will consist of such parts only of the work as I think can best be
presented in advance without abating interest in what is to follow when
Heaven shall have put it into the hearts of publishers to square their
conduct with their interests. I must, however, frankly confess that my
choice has been partly determined by other considerations. I offer here
those parts of my narrative which I conceive to be the least
credible--those which deal with the most monstrous and astounding follies
of a strange people. Their ceremony of marriage by decapitation; their
custom of facing to the rear when riding on horseback; their practice of
walking on their hands in all ceremonial processions; their selection of
the blind for military command; their pig-worship--these and many other
comparatively natural particulars of their religious, political,
intellectual and social life I reserve for treatment in the great work for
which I shall soon ask public favor and acceptance.

In Tortirran politics, as in Tamtonian, the population is always divided
into two, and sometimes three or four "parties," each having a "policy"
and each conscientiously believing the policy of the other, or others,
erroneous and destructive. In so far as these various and varying policies
can be seen to have any relation whatever to practical affairs they can be
seen also to be the result of purely selfish considerations. The
self-deluded people flatter themselves that their elections are contests
of principles, whereas they are only struggles of interests. They are very
fond of the word _slagthrit_, "principle"; and when they believe
themselves acting from some high moral motive they are capable of almost
any monstrous injustice or stupid folly. This insane devotion to principle
is craftily fostered by their political leaders who invent captivating
phrases intended to confirm them in it; and these deluding aphorisms are
diligently repeated until all the people have them in memory, with no
knowledge of the fallacies which they conceal. One of these phrases is
"Principles, not men." In the last analysis this is seen to mean that it
is better to be governed by scoundrels professing one set of principles
than by good men holding another. That a scoundrel will govern badly,
regardless of the principles which he is supposed somehow to "represent,"
is a truth which, however obvious to our own enlightened intelligence, has
never penetrated the dark understandings of the Tortirrans. It is chiefly
through the dominance of the heresy fostered by this popular phrase that
the political leaders are able to put base men into office to serve their
own nefarious ends.

I have called the political contests of Tortirra struggles of interests.
In nothing is this more clear (to the looker-on at the game) than in the
endless disputes concerning restrictions on commerce. It must be
understood that lying many leagues to the southeast of Tortirra are other
groups of islands, also wholly unknown to people of our race. They are
known by the general name of _Gropilla-Stron_ (a term signifying "the Land
of the Day-dawn"), though it is impossible to ascertain why, and are
inhabited by a powerful and hardy race, many of whom I have met in the
capital of Tanga. The Stronagu, as they are called, are bold navigators
and traders, their proas making long and hazardous voyages in all the
adjacent seas to exchange commodities with other tribes. For many years
they were welcomed in Tortirra with great hospitality and their goods
eagerly purchased. They took back with them all manner of Tortirran
products and nobody thought of questioning the mutual advantages of the
exchange. But early in the present century a powerful Tortirran demagogue
named Pragam began to persuade the people that commerce was piracy--that
true prosperity consisted in consumption of domestic products and
abstention from foreign. This extraordinary heresy soon gathered such head
that Pragam was appointed Regent and invested with almost dictatorial
powers. He at once distributed nearly the whole army among the seaport
cities, and whenever a Stronagu trading proa attempted to land, the
soldiery, assisted by the populace, rushed down to the beach, and with a
terrible din of gongs and an insupportable discharge of stink-pots--the
only offensive weapon known to Tortirran warfare--drove the laden vessels
to sea, or if they persisted in anchoring destroyed them and smothered
their crews in mud. The Tortirrans themselves not being a sea-going
people, all communication between them and the rest of their little world
soon ceased. But with it ceased the prosperity of Tortirra. Deprived of a
market for their surplus products and compelled to forego the comforts and
luxuries which they had obtained from abroad, the people began to murmur
at the effect of their own folly. A reaction set in, a powerful opposition
to Pragam and his policy was organized, and he was driven from power.

But the noxious tree that Pragam had planted in the fair garden of his
country's prosperity had struck root too deeply to be altogether
eradicated. It threw up shoots everywhere, and no sooner was one cut down
than from roots underrunning the whole domain of political thought others
sprang up with a vigorous and baleful growth. While the dictum that trade
is piracy no longer commands universal acceptance, a majority of the
populace still hold a modified form of it, and that "importation is theft"
is to-day a cardinal political "principle" of a vast body of Tortirra's
people. The chief expounders and protagonists of this doctrine are all
directly or indirectly engaged in making or growing such articles as were
formerly got by exchange with the Stronagu traders. The articles are
generally inferior in quality, but consumers, not having the benefit of
foreign competition, are compelled to pay extortionate prices for them,
thus maintaining the unscrupulous producers in needless industries and a
pernicious existence. But these active and intelligent rogues are too
powerful to be driven out. They persuade their followers, among whom are
many ignorant consumers, that this vestigial remnant of the old Pragam
policy is all that keeps the nation from being desolated by small-pox and
an epidemic of broken legs. It is impossible within these limits to give a
full history of the strange delusion whose origin I have related. It has
undergone many modifications and changes, as it is the nature of error to
do, but the present situation is about this. The trading proas of the
Stronagu are permitted to enter certain ports, but when one arrives she
must anchor at a little distance from shore. Here she is boarded by an
officer of the government, who ascertains the thickness of her keel, the
number of souls on board and the amount and character of the merchandise
she brings. From these data--the last being the main factor in the
problem--the officer computes her unworthiness and adjudges a suitable
penalty. The next day a scow manned by a certain number of soldiers pushes
out and anchors within easy throw of her, and there is a frightful beating
of gongs. When this has reached its lawful limit as to time it is hushed
and the soldiers throw a stated number of stink-pots on board the
offending craft. These, exploding as they strike, stifle the captain and
crew with an intolerable odor. In the case of a large proa having a cargo
of such commodities as the Tortirrans particularly need, this bombardment
is continued for hours. At its conclusion the vessel is permitted to land
and discharge her cargo without further molestation. Under these hard
conditions importers find it impossible to do much business, the
exorbitant wages demanded by seamen consuming most of the profit. No
restrictions are now placed on the export trade, and vessels arriving
empty are subjected to no penalties; but the Stronagu having other
markets, in which they can sell as well as buy, cannot afford to go empty
handed to Tortirra.

It will be obvious to the reader that in all this no question of
"principle" is involved. A well-informed Tortirran's mental attitude with
regard to the matter may be calculated with unfailing accuracy from a
knowledge of his interests. If he produces anything which his countrymen
want, and which in the absence of all restriction they could get more
cheaply from the Stronagu than they can from him, he is in politics a
_Gakphew_, or "Stinkpotter"; if not he is what that party derisively calls
a _Shokerbom_, which signifies "Righteous Man"--for there is nothing which
the Gakphews hold in so holy detestation as righteousness.

Nominally, Tortirra is an hereditary monarchy; virtually it is a
democracy, for under a peculiar law of succession there is seldom an
occupant of the throne, and all public affairs are conducted by a Supreme
Legislature sitting at Felduchia, the capital of Tanga, to which body each
island of the archipelago, twenty-nine in number, elects representatives
in proportion to its population, the total membership being nineteen
hundred and seventeen. Each island has a Subordinate Council for the
management of local affairs and a Head Chief charged with execution of the
laws. There is also a Great Court at Felduchia, whose function it is to
interpret the general laws of the Kingdom, passed by the Supreme Council,
and a Minor Great Court at the capital of each island, with corresponding
duties and powers. These powers are very loosely and vaguely defined, and
are the subject of endless controversy everywhere, and nowhere more than
in the courts themselves--such is the multiplicity of laws and so many are
the contradictory decisions upon them, every decision constituting what is
called a _lantrag_, or, as we might say, "precedent." The peculiarity of a
_lantrag_, or previous decision, is that it is, or is not, binding, at the
will of the honorable judge making a later one on a similar point. If he
wishes to decide in the same way he quotes the previous decision with all
the gravity that he would give to an exposition of the law itself; if not,
he either ignores it altogether, shows that it is not applicable to the
case under consideration (which, as the circumstances are never exactly
the same, he can always do), or substitutes a contradictory _lantrag_ and
fortifies himself with that. There is a precedent for any decision that a
judge may wish to make, but sometimes he is too indolent to search it out
and cite it. Frequently, when the letter and intent of the law under which
an action is brought are plainly hostile to the decision which it pleases
him to render, the judge finds it easier to look up an older law, with
which it is compatible, and which the later one, he says, does not repeal,
and to base his decision on that; and there is a law for everything, just
as there is a precedent. Failing to find, or not caring to look for,
either precedent or statute to sustain him, he can readily show that any
other decision than the one he has in will would be _tokoli impelly_; that
is to say, contrary to public morals, and this, too, is considered a
legitimate consideration, though on another occasion he may say, with
public assent and approval, that it is his duty, not to make the law
conform to justice, but to expound and enforce it as he finds it. In
short, such is the confusion of the law and the public conscience that the
courts of Tortirra do whatever they please, subject only to overruling by
higher courts in the exercise of _their_ pleasure; for great as is the
number of minor and major tribunals, a case originating in the lowest is
never really settled until it has gone through all the intermediate ones
and been passed upon by the highest, to which it might just as well have
been submitted at first. The evils of this astonishing system could not be
even baldly catalogued in a lifetime. They are infinite in number and
prodigious in magnitude. To the trained intelligence of the American
observer it is incomprehensible how any, even the most barbarous, nation
can endure them.

An important function of the Great Court and the Minor Great Court is
passing upon the validity of all laws enacted by the Supreme Council and
the Subordinate Councils, respectively. The nation as a whole, as well as
each separate island, has a fundamental law called the _Trogodal_, or, as
we should say, the Constitution; and no law whatever that may be passed by
the Council is final and determinate until the appropriate court has
declared that it conforms to the Trogodal. Nevertheless every law is put
in force the moment it is perfected and before it is submitted to the
court. Indeed, not one in a thousand ever is submitted at all, that
depending upon the possibility of some individual objecting to its action
upon his personal interests, which few, indeed, can afford to do. It not
infrequently occurs that some law which has for years been rigorously
enforced, even by fines and imprisonment, and to which the whole
commercial and social life of the nation has adjusted itself with all its
vast property interests, is brought before the tribunal having final
jurisdiction in the matter and coolly declared no law at all. The
pernicious effect may be more easily imagined than related, but those who
by loyal obedience to the statute all those years have been injured in
property, those who are ruined by its erasure and those who may have
suffered the severest penalties for its violation are alike without
redress. It seems not to have occurred to the Tortirrans to require the
court to inspect the law and determine its validity before it is put in
force. It is, indeed, the traditional practice of these strange tribunals,
when a case is forced upon them, to decide, not as many points of law as
they can, but as few as they may; and this dishonest inaction is not only
tolerated but commended as the highest wisdom. The consequence is that
only those who make a profession of the law and live by it and find their
account in having it as little understood by others as is possible can
know which acts and parts of acts are in force and which are not. The
higher courts, too, have arrogated to themselves the power of declaring
unconstitutional even parts of the Constitution, frequently annulling most
important provisions of the very instrument creating them!

A popular folly in Tortirra is the selection of representatives in the
Councils from among that class of men who live by the law, whose sole
income is derived from its uncertainties and perplexities. Obviously, it
is to the interest of these men to make laws which shall be uncertain and
perplexing--to confuse and darken legislation as much as they can. Yet in
nearly all the Councils these men are the most influential and active
element, and it is not uncommon to find them in a numerical majority. It
is evident that the only check upon their ill-doing lies in the certainty
of their disagreement as to the particular kind of confusion which they
may think it expedient to create. Some will wish to accomplish their
common object by one kind of verbal ambiguity, some by another; some by
laws clearly enough (to them) unconstitutional, others by contradictory
statutes, or statutes secretly repealing wholesome ones already existing.
A clear, simple and just code would deprive them of their means of
livelihood and compel them to seek some honest employment.

So great are the uncertainties of the law in Tortirra that an eminent
judge once confessed to me that it was his conscientious belief that if
all cases were decided by the impartial arbitrament of the _do-tusis_ (a
process similar to our "throw of the dice") substantial justice would be
done far more frequently than under the present system; and there is
reason to believe that in many instances cases at law are so decided--but
only at the close of tedious and costly trials which have impoverished the
litigants and correspondingly enriched the lawyers.

Of the interminable train of shames and brutalities entailed by this
pernicious system, I shall mention here only a single one--the sentencing
and punishment of an accused person in the midst of the proceedings
against him, and while his guilt is not finally and definitively
established. It frequently occurs that a man convicted of crime in one of
the lower courts is at once hurried off to prison while he has still the
right of appeal to a higher tribunal, and while that appeal is pending.
After months and sometimes years of punishment his case is reached in the
appellate court, his appeal found valid and a new trial granted, resulting
in his acquittal. He has been imprisoned for a crime of which he is
eventually declared not to have been properly convicted. But he has no
redress; he is simply set free to bear through all his after life the
stain of dishonor and nourish an ineffectual resentment. Imagine the storm
of popular indignation that would be evoked in America by an instance of
so foul injustice!

       *       *       *       *       *

In the great public square of Itsami, the capital of Tortirra, stands a
golden statue of Estari-Kumpro, a famous judge of the Civil Court.[2] This
great man was celebrated throughout the kingdom for the wisdom and justice
of his decisions and the virtues of his private life. So profound were the
veneration in which he was held and the awe that his presence inspired,
that none of the advocates in his court ever ventured to address him
except in formal pleas: all motions, objections, and so forth, were
addressed to the clerk and by him disposed of without dissent: the silence
of the judge, who never was heard to utter a word, was understood as
sanctioning the acts of his subordinate. For thirty years, promptly at
sunrise, the great hall of justice was thrown open, disclosing the judge
seated on a loftly dais beneath a black canopy, partly in shadow, and
quite inaccessible. At sunset all proceedings for the day terminated,
everyone left the hall and the portal closed. The decisions of this august
and learned jurist were always read aloud by the clerk, and a copy
supplied to the counsel on each side. They were brief, clear and
remarkable, not only for their unimpeachable justice, but for their
conformity to the fundamental principles of law. Not one of them was ever
set aside, and during the last fifteen years of the great judge's service
no litigant ever took an appeal, although none ever ventured before that
infallible tribunal unless conscientiously persuaded that his cause was

    [2] Klikat um Delu Ovwi.

One day it happened during the progress of an important trial that a sharp
shock of earthquake occurred, throwing the whole assembly into confusion.
When order had been restored a cry of horror and dismay burst from the
multitude--the judge's head lay flattened upon the floor, a dozen feet
below the bench, and from the neck of the rapidly collapsing body, which
had pitched forward upon his desk, poured a thick stream of sawdust! For
thirty years that great and good man had been represented by a stuffed
manikin. For thirty years he had not entered his own court, nor heard a
word of evidence or argument. At the moment of the accident to his
simulacrum he was in his library at his home, writing his decision of the
case on trial, and was killed by a falling chandelier. It was afterward
learned that his clerk, twenty-five years dead, had all the time been
personated by a twin brother, who was an idiot from birth and knew no law.


Listening to the history of the golden statue in the great square, as
related by a Tortirran storyteller, I fell asleep. On waking I found
myself lying in a cot-bed amidst unfamiliar surroundings. A bandage was
fastened obliquely about my head, covering my left eye, in which was a
dull throbbing pain. Seeing an attendant near by I beckoned him to my
bedside and asked: "Where am I?"

"Hospital," he replied, tersely but not unkindly. He added: "You have a
bad eye." "Yes," I said, "I always had; but I could name more than one
Tortirran who has a bad heart."

"What is a Tortirran?" he asked.



In the year 4591 I accepted from his gracious Majesty the Ahkoond of
Citrusia a commission to explore the unknown region lying to the eastward
of the Ultimate Hills, the range which that learned archæologist, Simeon
Tucker, affirms to be identical with the "Rocky Mountains" of the
ancients. For this proof of his Majesty's favor I was indebted, doubtless,
to a certain distinction that I had been fortunate enough to acquire by
explorations in the heart of Darkest Europe. His Majesty kindly offered to
raise and equip a large expeditionary force to accompany me, and I was
given the widest discretion in the matter of outfit; I could draw upon the
royal treasury for any sum that I might require, and upon the royal
university for all the scientific apparatus and assistance necessary to my
purpose. Declining these encumbrances, I took my electric rifle and a
portable waterproof case containing a few simple instruments and writing
materials and set out. Among the instruments was, of course, an aerial
isochronophone which I set by the one in the Ahkoond's private dining-room
at the palace. His Majesty invariably dined alone at 18 o'clock, and sat
at table six hours: it was my intention to send him all my reports at the
hour of 23, just as dessert would be served, and he would be in a proper
frame of mind to appreciate my discoveries and my services to the crown.

At 9 o'clock on the 13th of Meijh I left Sanf Rachisco and after a tedious
journey of nearly fifty minutes arrived at Bolosson, the eastern terminus
of the magnetic tube, on the summit of the Ultimate Hills. According to
Tucker this was anciently a station on the Central Peaceful Railway, and
was called "German," in honor of an illustrious dancing master. Prof.
Nupper, however, says it was the ancient Nevraska, the capital of Kikago,
and geographers generally have accepted that view.

Finding nothing at Bolosson to interest me except a fine view of the
volcano Carlema, then in active eruption, I shouldered my electric rifle
and with my case of instruments strapped upon my back plunged at once into
the wilderness, down the eastern slope. As I descended the character of
the vegetation altered. The pines of the higher altitudes gave place to
oaks, these to ash, beech and maple. To these succeeded the tamarack and
such trees as affect a moist and marshy habitat; and finally, when for
four months I had been steadily descending, I found myself in a primeval
flora consisting mainly of giant ferns, some of them as much as twenty
_surindas_ in diameter. They grew upon the margins of vast stagnant lakes
which I was compelled to navigate by means of rude rafts made from their
trunks lashed together with vines.

In the fauna of the region that I had traversed I had noted changes
corresponding to those in the flora. On the upper slope there was nothing
but the mountain sheep, but I passed successively through the habitats of
the bear, the deer and the horse. This last mentioned creature, which our
naturalists have believed long extinct, and which Dorbley declares our
ancestors domesticated, I found in vast numbers on high table lands
covered with grass upon which it feeds. The animal answers the current
description of the horse very nearly, but all that I saw were destitute of
the horns, and none had the characteristic forked tail. This member, on
the contrary, is a tassel of straight wiry hair, reaching nearly to the
ground--a surprising sight. Lower still I came upon the mastodon, the
lion, the tiger, hippopotamus and alligator, all differing very little
from those infesting Central Europe, as described in my "Travels in the
Forgotten Continent."

In the lake region where I now found myself, the waters abounded with
ichthyosauri, and along the margins the iguanodon dragged his obscene bulk
in indolent immunity. Great flocks of pterodactyls, their bodies as large
as those of oxen and their necks enormously long, clamored and fought in
the air, the broad membranes of their wings making a singular musical
humming, unlike anything that I had ever heard. Between them and the
ichthyosauri there was incessant battle, and I was constantly reminded of
the ancient poet's splendid and original comparison of man to

      dragons of the prime
  That tare each other in their slime.

When brought down with my electric rifle and properly roasted, the
pterodactyl proved very good eating, particularly the pads of the toes.

In urging my raft along the shore line of one of the stagnant lagoons one
day I was surprised to find a broad rock jutting out from the shore, its
upper surface some ten _coprets_ above the water. Disembarking, I ascended
it, and on examination recognized it as the remnant of an immense mountain
which at one time must have been 5,000 _coprets_ in height and doubtless
the dominating peak of a long range. From the striations all over it I
discovered that it had been worn away to its present trivial size by
glacial action. Opening my case of instruments, I took out my
petrochronologue and applied it to the worn and scratched surface of the
rock. The indicator at once pointed to K 59 xpc ½! At this astonishing
result I was nearly overcome by excitement: the last erosions of the
ice-masses upon this vestige of a stupendous mountain range which they had
worn away, had been made as recently as the year 1945! Hastily applying my
nymograph, I found that the name of this particular mountain at the time
when it began to be enveloped in the mass of ice moving down upon it from
the north, was "Pike's Peak." Other observations with other instruments
showed that at that time the country circumjacent to it had been inhabited
by a partly civilized race of people known as Galoots, the name of their
capital city being Denver.

That evening at the hour of 23 I set up my aerial isochronophone[3] and
reported to his gracious Majesty the Ahkoond as follows:

    [3] This satire was published in the San Francisco _Examiner_ many
        years before the invention of wireless telegraphy; so I retain
        my own name for the instrument.--A.B.

"_Sire:_ I have the honor to report that I have made a startling
discovery. The primeval region into which I have penetrated, as I informed
you yesterday--the ichthyosaurus belt--was peopled by tribes considerably
advanced in some of the arts almost within historic times: in 1920. They
were exterminated by a glacial period not exceeding one hundred and
twenty-five years in duration. Your Majesty can conceive the magnitude and
violence of the natural forces which overwhelmed their country with moving
sheets of ice not less that 5,000 _coprets_ in thickness, grinding down
every eminence, destroying (of course) all animal and vegetable life and
leaving the region a fathomless bog of detritus. Out of this vast sea of
mud Nature has had to evolve another creation, beginning _de novo_, with
her lowest forms. It has long been known, your Majesty, that the region
east of the Ultimate Hills, betwen them and the Wintry Sea, was once the
seat of an ancient civilization, some scraps and shreds of whose history,
arts and literature have been wafted to us across the gulf of time; but it
was reserved for your gracious Majesty, through me, your humble and
unworthy instrument, to ascertain the astonishing fact that these were a
pre-glacial people--that between them and us stands, as it were, a wall of
impenetrable ice. That all local records of this unfortunate race have
perished your Majesty needs not to be told: we can supplement our present
imperfect knowledge of them by instrumental observation only."

To this message I received the following extraordinary reply:

"All right--another bottle of--ice goes: push on--this cheese is
too--spare no effort to--hand me those nuts--learn all you can--damn you!"

His most gracious Majesty was being served with dessert, and served badly.

I now resolved to go directly north toward the source of the ice-flow and
investigate its cause, but examining my barometer found that I was more
than 8,000 _coprets_ below the sea-level; the moving ice had not only
ground down the face of the country, planing off the eminences and filling
the depressions, but its enormous weight had caused the earth's crust to
sag, and with the lessening of the weight from evaporation it had not

I had no desire to continue in this depression, as I should in going
north, for I should find nothing but lakes, marshes and ferneries,
infested with the same primitive and monstrous forms of life. So I
continued my course eastward and soon had the satisfaction to find myself
meeting the sluggish current of such streams as I encountered in my way.
By vigorous use of the new double-distance telepode, which enables the
wearer to step eighty _surindas_ instead of forty, as with the instrument
in popular use, I was soon again at a considerable elevation above the
sea-level and nearly 200 _prastams_ from "Pike's Peak." A little farther
along the water courses began to flow to the eastward. The flora and fauna
had again altered in character, and now began to grow sparse; the soil was
thin and arid, and in a week I found myself in a region absolutely
destitute of organic life and without a vestige of soil. All was barren
rock. The surface for hundreds of _prastams_, as I continued my advance,
was nearly level, with a slight dip to the eastward. The rock was
singularly striated, the scratches arranged concentrically and in
helicoidal curves. This circumstance puzzled me and I resolved to take
some more instrumental observations, bitterly regretting my improvidence
in not availing myself of the Ahkoond's permission to bring with me such
apparatus and assistants as would have given me knowledge vastly more
copious and accurate than I could acquire with my simple pocket

I need not here go into the details of my observations with such
instruments as I had, nor into the calculations of which these
observations were the basic data. Suffice it that after two months' labor
I reported the results to his Majesty in Sanf Rachisco in the words

"_Sire:_ It is my high privilege to apprise you of my arrival on the
western slope of a mighty depression running through the center of the
continent north and south, formerly known as the Mississippi Valley. It
was once the seat of a thriving and prosperous population known as the
Pukes, but is now a vast expanse of bare rock, from which every particle
of soil and everything movable, including people, animals and vegetation,
have been lifted by terrific cyclones and scattered afar, falling in other
lands and at sea in the form of what was called meteoric dust! I find that
these terrible phenomena began to occur about the year 1860, and lasted,
with increasing frequency and power, through a century, culminating about
the middle of that glacial period which saw the extinction of the Galoots
and their neighboring tribes. There was, of course, a close connection
between the two malefic phenomena, both, doubtless, being due to the same
cause, which I have been unable to trace. A cyclone, I venture to remind
your gracious Majesty, is a mighty whirlwind, accompanied by the most
startling meteorological phenomena, such as electrical disturbances,
floods of falling water, darkness and so forth. It moves with great speed,
sucking up everything and reducing it to powder. In many days' journey I
have not found a square _copret_ of the country that did not suffer a
visitation. If any human being escaped he must speedily have perished from
starvation. For some twenty centuries the Pukes have been an extinct race,
and their country a desolation in which no living thing can dwell, unless,
like me, it is supplied with Dr. Blobob's Condensed Life-pills."

The Ahkoond replied that he was pleased to feel the most poignant grief
for the fate of the unfortunate Pukes, and if I should by chance find the
ancient king of the country I was to do my best to revive him with the
patent resuscitator and present him the assurances of his Majesty's
distinguished consideration; but as the politoscope showed that the nation
had been a republic I gave myself no trouble in the matter.

My next report was made six months later and was in substance this:

"_Sire:_ I address your Majesty from a point 430 _coprets_ vertically above
the site of the famous ancient city of Buffalo, once the capital of a
powerful nation called the Smugwumps. I can approach no nearer because of
the hardness of the snow, which is very firmly packed. For hundreds of
_prastams_ in every direction, and for thousands to the north and west, the
land is covered with this substance, which, as your Majesty is doubtless
aware, is extremely cold to the touch, but by application of sufficient
heat can be turned into water. It falls from the heavens, and is believed
by the learned among your Majesty's subjects to have a sidereal origin.

"The Smugwumps were a hardy and intelligent race, but they entertained the
vain delusion that they could subdue Nature. Their year was divided into
two seasons--summer and winter, the former warm, the latter cold. About
the beginning of the nineteenth century according to my archæthermograph,
the summers began to grow shorter and hotter, the winters longer and
colder. At every point in their country, and every day in the year, when
they had not the hottest weather ever known in that place, they had the
coldest. When they were not dying by hundreds from sunstroke they were
dying by thousands from frost. But these heroic and devoted people
struggled on, believing that they were becoming acclimated faster than the
climate was becoming insupportable. Those called away on business were
even afflicted with nostalgia, and with a fatal infatuation returned to
grill or freeze, according to the season of their arrival. Finally there
was no summer at all, though the last flash of heat slew several millions
and set most of their cities afire, and winter reigned eternal.

"The Smugwumps were now keenly sensible of the perils environing them,
and, abandoning their homes, endeavored to reach their kindred, the
Californians, on the western side of the continent in what is now your
Majesty's ever-blessed realm. But it was too late: the snow growing deeper
and deeper day by day, besieged them in their towns and dwellings, and
they were unable to escape. The last one of them perished about the year
1943, and may God have mercy on his fool soul!"

To this dispatch the Ahkoond replied that it was the royal opinion that
the Smugwumps were served very well right.

Some weeks later I reported thus:

"_Sire:_ The country which your Majesty's munificence is enabling your
devoted servant to explore extends southward and southwestward from
Smugwumpia many hundreds of _prastams_, its eastern and southern borders
being the Wintry Sea and the Fiery Gulf, respectively. The population in
ancient times was composed of Whites and Blacks in about equal numbers and
of about equal moral worth--at least that is the record on the dial of my
ethnograph when set for the twentieth century and given a southern
exposure. The Whites were called Crackers and the Blacks known as Coons.

"I find here none of the barrenness and desolation characterizing the land
of the ancient Pukes, and the climate is not so rigorous and thrilling as
that of the country of the late Smugwumps. It is, indeed, rather agreeable
in point of temperature, and the soil being fertile exceedingly, the whole
land is covered with a dense and rank vegetation. I have yet to find a
square _smig_ of it that is open ground, or one that is not the lair of
some savage beast, the haunt of some venomous reptile, or the roost of
some offensive bird. Crackers and Coons alike are long extinct, and these
are their successors.

"Nothing could be more forbidding and unwholesome than these interminable
jungles, with their horrible wealth of organic life in its most
objectionable forms. By repeated observations with the necrohistoriograph
I find that the inhabitants of this country, who had always been more or
less dead, were wholly extirpated contemporaneously with the disastrous
events which swept away the Galoots, the Pukes and the Smugwumps. The
agency of their effacement was an endemic disorder known as yellow fever.
The ravages of this frightful disease were of frequent recurrence, every
point of the country being a center of infection; but in some seasons it
was worse than in others. Once in every half century at first, and
afterward every year[4] it broke out somewhere and swept over wide areas
with such fatal effect that there were not enough of the living to plunder
the dead; but at the first frost it would subside. During the ensuing two
or three months of immunity the stupid survivors returned to the infected
homes from which they had fled and were ready for the next outbreak.
Emigration would have saved them all, but although the Californians (over
whose happy and prosperous descendants your Majesty has the goodness to
reign) invited them again and again to their beautiful land, where
sickness and death were hardly known, they would not go, and by the year
1946 the last one of them, may it please your gracious Majesty, was dead
and damned."

    [4] At one time it was foolishly believed that the disease had been
        eradicated by slapping the mosquitoes which were thought to
        produce it; but a few years later it broke out with greater
        violence than ever before, although the mosquitoes had left the

Having spoken this into the transmitter of the aerial isochronophone at
the usual hour of 23 o'clock I applied the receiver to my ear, confidently
expecting the customary commendation. Imagine my astonishment and dismay
when my master's well-remembered voice was heard in utterance of the most
awful imprecations on me and my work, followed by appalling threats
against my life!

The Ahkoond had changed his dinner-time to five hours later and I had been
speaking into the ears of an empty stomach!




At the quiet little village of Smithcester, which certain archæologists
have professed to "identify" as the ancient London, will be celebrated
to-day the thirtieth centennial anniversary of the birth of this
remarkable man, the foremost figure of antiquity. The recurrence of what
no more than six centuries ago was a popular _fête_ day and even now is
seldom permitted to pass without recognition by those to whom liberty
means something more precious than opportunity for gain, excites a
peculiar emotion. It matters little whether or no tradition has correctly
fixed the time and place of Smith's birth. That he was born; that being
born he wrought nobly at the work that his hand found to do; that by the
mere force of his powerful intellect he established and perfected our
present benign form of government, under which civilization has attained
its highest and ripest development--these are facts beside which mere
questions of chronology and geography are trivial and without

That this extraordinary man originated the Smithocratic form of government
is, perhaps, open to intelligent doubt; possibly it had a _de facto_
existence in crude and uncertain shapes as early as the time of Edward
XVII,--an existence local, unorganized and intermittent. But that he
cleared it of its overlying errors and superstitions, gave it definite
form and shaped it into a coherent and practical scheme there is
unquestionable evidence in fragments of ancestral literature that have
come down to us, disfigured though they are with amazingly contradictory
statements regarding his birth, parentage and manner of life before he
strode out upon the political stage as the Liberator of Mankind. It is
said that Shakspar, a poet whose works had in their day a considerable
vogue, though it is difficult to say why, alludes to him as "the noblest
Roman of them all," our forefathers of the period being known as Romans or
Englishmen, indifferently. In the only authentic fragment of Shakspar
extant, however, this passage is not included.

Smith's military power is amply attested in an ancient manuscript of
undoubted authenticity which has recently been translated from the
Siamese. It is an account of the water battle of Loo, by an eye-witness
whose name, unfortunately, has not reached us. It is stated that in this
famous engagement Smith overthrew the great Neapolitan general, whom he
captured and conveyed in chains to the island of Chickenhurst.

In his "Political History of Europe" the late Professor Mimble has this
luminous sentence: "With the single exception of Ecuador there was no
European government that the Liberator did not transform into a pure
Smithocracy, and although some of them relapsed transiently into the
primitive forms, and others grew into extravagant and fanciful systems
begotten of the intellectual activity to which he had stirred the whole
world, yet so firmly did he establish the principle that in the
thirty-second century the civilized world had become, and has remained,
virtually Smithocratic."

It may be noted here as a singular coincidence that the year which is
believed to have seen the birth of him who founded rational government
witnessed the death of him who perfected literature: Martin Farquhar
Tupper (after Smith the most noted name in history) starved to death in
the streets of London. Like that of Smith his origin is wrapped in
obscurity. No fewer than seven British cities claim the honor of his
nativity. Meager indeed is our knowledge of this only British bard whose
works have endured through thirty centuries. All that is certain is that
he was once arrested for deer-stealing; that, although blind, he fought a
duel with a person named Salmasius, for which he was thrown into Bedford
gaol, whence he escaped to the Tower of London; that the manuscript of his
"Proverbial Philosophy" was for many years hidden in a hollow oak tree,
where it was found by his grandmother, Ella Wheeler Tupper, who fled with
it to America and published many brilliant passages from it over her own
name. Had Smith and Tupper been contemporaries the iron deeds of the
former would doubtless have been recorded in the golden pages of the
latter, to the incalculable enrichment of Roman history.

Strangely unimpressible indeed must be the mind which, looking backward
through the mists of the centuries upon the primitive race from which we
are believed to have sprung, can repress a feeling of sympathetic
interest. The names of John Smith and Martin Farquhar Tupper, blazoned
upon the page of that dim past and surrounded by the lesser names of
Shakspar, the first Neapolitan, Oliver Cornwell, that Mynheer Baloon who
was known as the Flying Dutchman, Julia Cæsar, commonly known as the
Serpent of the Nile--all these are richly suggestive. They call to mind
the odd custom of wearing "clothes"; the incredible error of Copernicus
and other wide and wild guesses of ancient "science"; the lost arts of
telegramy, steam locomotion, printing, and the tempering of iron. They set
us thinking of the zealous idolatry that led men on pious pilgrimages to
the accessible regions about the north pole and into the then savage
interior of Africa in search of the fountain of youth. They conjure up
visions of bloodthirsty "Emperors," tyrannical "Kings," vampire
"Presidents," and robber "Parliaments"--grotesque and horrible shapes in
terrible contrast with the serene and benign figures and features of our
modern Smithocracy.

Let us to-day rejoice and give thanks to Bungoot that the old order of
things has passed forever away. Let us praise Him that our lot has been
cast in more wholesome days than those in which Smith wrought and Tupper
sang. And yet let us not forget whatever there was of good, if any, in the
pre-Smithian period, when men cherished quaint superstitions and rode on
the backs of beasts--when they settled questions of right and expediency
by counting noses--when cows were enslaved and women free--when science
had not dawned to chase away the shadows of imagination and the fear of
immortality--and when the cabalistic letters "A.D.," which from habit we
still affix to numerals designating the date, had perhaps a known
signification. It is indeed well to live in this golden age, under the
benign sway of that supreme and culminating product of Smithocracy, our
gracious sovereign, his Majesty John CLXXVIII.



They say that the lumberman has looked upon the Cheat Mountain country and
seen that it is good, and I hear that some wealthy gentlemen have been
there and made a game preserve. There must be lumber and, I suppose,
sport, but some things one could wish were ordered otherwise. Looking back
upon it through the haze of near half a century, I see that region as a
veritable realm of enchantment; the Alleghanies as the Delectable
Mountains. I note again their dim, blue billows, ridge after ridge
interminable, beyond purple valleys full of sleep, "in which it seemed
always afternoon." Miles and miles away, where the lift of earth meets the
stoop of sky, I discern an imperfection in the tint, a faint graying of
the blue above the main range--the smoke of an enemy's camp.

It was in the autumn of that "most immemorial year," the 1861st of our
Lord, and of our Heroic Age the first, that a small brigade of raw
troops--troops were all raw in those days--had been pushed in across the
Ohio border and after various vicissitudes of fortune and mismanagement
found itself, greatly to its own surprise, at Cheat Mountain Pass, holding
a road that ran from Nowhere to the southeast. Some of us had served
through the summer in the "three-months' regiments," which responded to
the President's first call for troops. We were regarded by the others with
profound respect as "old soldiers." (Our ages, if equalized, would, I
fancy, have given about twenty years to each man.) We gave ourselves, this
aristocracy of service, no end of military airs; some of us even going to
the extreme of keeping our jackets buttoned and our hair combed. We had
been in action, too; had shot off a Confederate leg at Philippi, "the
first battle of the war," and had lost as many as a dozen men at Laurel
Hill and Carrick's Ford, whither the enemy had fled in trying, Heaven
knows why, to get away from us. We now "brought to the task" of subduing
the Rebellion a patriotism which never for a moment doubted that a rebel
was a fiend accursed of God and the angels--one for whose extirpation by
force and arms each youth of us considered himself specially "raised up."

It was a strange country. Nine in ten of us had never seen a mountain, nor
a hill as high as a church spire, until we had crossed the Ohio River. In
power upon the emotions nothing, I think, is comparable to a first sight
of mountains. To a member of a plains-tribe, born and reared on the flats
of Ohio or Indiana, a mountain region was a perpetual miracle. Space
seemed to have taken on a new dimension; areas to have not only length and
breadth, but thickness.

Modern literature is full of evidence that our great grandfathers looked
upon mountains with aversion and horror. The poets of even the seventeenth
century never tire of damning them in good, set terms. If they had had the
unhappiness to read the opening lines of "The Pleasures of Hope," they
would assuredly have thought Master Campbell had gone funny and should be
shut up lest he do himself an injury.

The flatlanders who invaded the Cheat Mountain country had been suckled in
another creed, and to them western Virginia--there was, as yet, no West
Virginia--was an enchanted land. How we reveled in its savage beauties!
With what pure delight we inhaled its fragrances of spruce and pine! How
we stared with something like awe at its clumps of laurel!--real laurel,
as we understood the matter, whose foliage had been once accounted
excellent for the heads of illustrious Romans and such--mayhap to reduce
the swelling. We carved its roots into fingerrings and pipes. We gathered
spruce-gum and sent it to our sweethearts in letters. We ascended every
hill within our picket-lines and called it a "peak."

And, by the way, during those halcyon days (the halcyon was there, too,
chattering above every creek, as he is all over the world) we fought
another battle. It has not got into history, but it had a real objective
existence although by a felicitous afterthought called by us who were
defeated a "reconnaissance in force." Its short and simple annals are hat
we marched a long way and lay down before a fortified camp of the enemy at
the farther edge of a valley. Our commander had the forethought to see
that we lay well out of range of the small-arms of the period. A
disadvantage of this arrangement was that the enemy was out of reach of us
as well, for our rifles were no better than his. Unfortunately--one might
almost say unfairly--he had a few pieces of artillery very well protected,
and with those he mauled us to the eminent satisfaction of his mind and
heart. So we parted from him in anger and returned to our own place,
leaving our dead--not many.

Among them was a chap belonging to my company, named Abbott; it is not odd
that I recollect it, for there was something unusual in the manner of
Abbott's taking off. He was lying flat upon his stomach and was killed by
being struck in the side by a nearly spent cannon-shot that came rolling
in among us. The shot remained in him until removed. It was a solid
round-shot, evidently cast in some private foundry, whose proprietor,
setting the laws of thrift above those of ballistics, had put his
"imprint" upon it: it bore, in slightly sunken letters, the name "Abbott."
That is what I was told--I was not present.

It was after this, when the nights had acquired a trick of biting and the
morning sun appeared to shiver with cold, that we moved up to the summit
of Cheat Mountain to guard the pass through which nobody wanted to go.
Here we slew the forest and builded us giant habitations (astride the road
from Nowhere to the southeast) commodious to lodge an army and fitly
loopholed for discomfiture of the adversary. The long logs that it was our
pride to cut and carry! The accuracy with which we laid them one upon
another, hewn to the line and bullet-proof! The Cyclopean doors that we
hung, with sliding bolts fit to be "the mast of some great admiral"! And
when we had "made the pile complete" some marplot of the Regular Army came
that way and chatted a few moments with our commander, and we made an
earthwork away off on one side of the road (leaving the other side to take
care of itself) and camped outside it in tents! But the Regular Army
fellow had not the heart to suggest the demolition of our Towers of Babel,
and the foundations remain to this day to attest the genius of the
American volunteer soldiery.

We were the original game-preservers of the Cheat Mountain region, for
although we hunted in season and out of season over as wide an area as we
dared to cover we took less game, probably, than would have been taken by
a certain single hunter of disloyal views whom we scared away. There were
bear galore and deer in quantity, and many a winter day, in snow up to his
knees, did the writer of this pass in tracking bruin to his den, where, I
am bound to say, I commonly left him. I agreed with my lamented friend,
the late Robert Weeks, poet:

  Pursuit may be, it seems to me,
  Perfect without possession.

There can be no doubt that the wealthy sportsmen who have made a preserve
of the Cheat Mountain region will find plenty of game if it has not died
since 1861. We left it there.

Yet hunting and idling were not the whole of life's programme up there on
that wild ridge with its shaggy pelt of spruce and firs, and in the
riparian lowlands that it parted. We had a bit of war now and again. There
was an occasional "affair of outposts"; sometimes a hazardous scout into
the enemy's country, ordered, I fear, more to keep up the appearance of
doing something than with a hope of accomplishing a military result. But
one day it was bruited about that a movement in force was to be made on
the enemy's position miles away, at the summit of the main ridge of the
Alleghanies--the camp whose faint blue smoke we had watched for weary
days. The movement was made, as was the fashion in those 'prentice days of
warfare, in two columns, which were to pounce upon the foeman from
opposite sides at the same moment. Led over unknown roads by untrusty
guides, encountering obstacles not foreseen--miles apart and without
communication, the two columns invariably failed to execute the movement
with requisite secrecy and precision. The enemy, in enjoyment of that
inestimable military advantage known in civilian speech as being
"surrounded," always beat the attacking columns one at a time or, turning
red-handed from the wreck of the first, frightened the other away.

All one bright wintry day we marched down from our eyrie; all one bright
wintry night we climbed the great wooded ridge opposite. How romantic it
all was; the sunset valleys full of visible sleep; the glades suffused and
interpenetrated with moonlight; the long valley of the Greenbrier
stretching away to we knew not what silent cities; the river itself unseen
under its "astral body" of mist! Then there was the "spice of danger."

Once we heard shots in front; then there was a long wait. As we trudged on
we passed something--some things--lying by the wayside. During another
wait we examined them, curiously lifting the blankets from their
yellow-clay faces. How repulsive they looked with their blood-smears,
their blank, staring eyes, their teeth uncovered by contraction of the
lips! The frost had begun already to whiten their deranged clothing. We
were as patriotic as ever, but we did not wish to be that way. For an hour
afterward the injunction of silence in the ranks was needless.

       *       *       *       *       *

Repassing the spot the next day, a beaten, dispirited and exhausted force,
feeble from fatigue and savage from defeat, some of us had life enough
left, such as it was, to observe that these bodies had altered their
position. They appeared also to have thrown off some of their clothing,
which lay near by, in disorder. Their expression, too, had an added
blankness--they had no faces.

As soon as the head of our straggling column had reached the spot a
desultory firing had begun. One might have thought the living paid honors
to the dead. No; the firing was a military execution; the condemned, a
herd of galloping swine. They had eaten our fallen, but--touching
magnanimity!--we did not eat theirs.

The shooting of several kinds was very good in the Cheat Mountain country,
even in 1861.



This is a simple story of a battle; such a tale as may be told by a
soldier who is no writer to a reader who is no soldier.

The morning of Sunday, the sixth day of April, 1862, was bright and warm.
Reveille had been sounded rather late, for the troops, wearied with long
marching, were to have a day of rest. The men were idling about the embers
of their bivouac fires; some preparing breakfast, others looking
carelessly to the condition of their arms and accoutrements, against the
inevitable inspection; still others were chatting with indolent dogmatism
on that never-failing theme, the end and object of the campaign. Sentinels
paced up and down the confused front with a lounging freedom of mien and
stride that would not have been tolerated at another time. A few of them
limped unsoldierly in deference to blistered feet. At a little distance in
rear of the stacked arms were a few tents out of which frowsy-headed
officers occasionally peered, languidly calling to their servants to fetch
a basin of water, dust a coat or polish a scabbard. Trim young mounted
orderlies, bearing dispatches obviously unimportant, urged their lazy nags
by devious ways amongst the men, enduring with unconcern their
good-humored raillery, the penalty of superior station. Little negroes of
not very clearly defined status and function lolled on their stomachs,
kicking their long, bare heels in the sunshine, or slumbered peacefully,
unaware of the practical waggery prepared by white hands for their

Presently the flag hanging limp and lifeless at headquarters was seen to
lift itself spiritedly from the staff. At the same instant was heard a
dull, distant sound like the heavy breathing of some great animal below
the horizon. The flag had lifted its head to listen. There was a momentary
lull in the hum of the human swarm; then, as the flag drooped the hush
passed away. But there were some hundreds more men on their feet than
before; some thousands of hearts beating with a quicker pulse.

Again the flag made a warning sign, and again the breeze bore to our ears
the long, deep sighing of iron lungs. The division, as if it had received
the sharp word of command, sprang to its feet, and stood in groups at
"attention." Even the little blacks got up. I have since seen similar
effects produced by earthquakes; I am not sure but the ground was
trembling then. The mess-cooks, wise in their generation, lifted the
steaming camp-kettles off the fire and stood by to cast out. The mounted
orderlies had somehow disappeared. Officers came ducking from beneath
their tents and gathered in groups. Headquarters had become a swarming

The sound of the great guns now came in regular throbbings--the strong,
full pulse of the fever of battle. The flag flapped excitedly, shaking out
its blazonry of stars and stripes with a sort of fierce delight. Toward
the knot of officers in its shadow dashed from somewhere--he seemed to
have burst out of the ground in a cloud of dust--a mounted aide-de-camp,
and on the instant rose the sharp, clear notes of a bugle, caught up and
repeated, and passed on by other bugles, until the level reaches of brown
fields, the line of woods trending away to far hills, and the unseen
valleys beyond were "telling of the sound," the farther, fainter strains
half drowned in ringing cheers as the men ran to range themselves behind
the stacks of arms. For this call was not the wearisome "general" before
which the tents go down; it was the exhilarating "assembly," which goes to
the heart as wine and stirs the blood like the kisses of a beautiful
woman. Who that has heard it calling to him above the grumble of great
guns can forget the wild intoxication of its music?


The Confederate forces in Kentucky and Tennessee had suffered a series of
reverses, culminating in the loss of Nashville. The blow was severe:
immense quantities of war material had fallen to the victor, together with
all the important strategic points. General Johnston withdrew Beauregard's
army to Corinth, in northern Mississippi, where he hoped so to recruit and
equip it as to enable it to assume the offensive and retake the lost

The town of Corinth was a wretched place--the capital of a swamp. It is a
two days' march west of the Tennessee River, which here and for a hundred
and fifty miles farther, to where it falls into the Ohio at Paducah, runs
nearly north. It is navigable to this point--that is to say, to Pittsburg
Landing, where Corinth got to it by a road worn through a thickly wooded
country seamed with ravines and bayous, rising nobody knows where and
running into the river under sylvan arches heavily draped with Spanish
moss. In some places they were obstructed by fallen trees. The Corinth
road was at certain seasons a branch of the Tennessee River. Its mouth was
Pittsburg Landing. Here in 1862 were some fields and a house or two; now
there are a national cemetery and other improvements.

It was at Pittsburg Landing that Grant established his army, with a river
in his rear and two toy steamboats as a means of communication with the
east side, whither General Buell with thirty thousand men was moving from
Nashville to join him. The question has been asked, Why did General Grant
occupy the enemy's side of the river in the face of a superior force
before the arrival of Buell? Buell had a long way to come; perhaps Grant
was weary of waiting. Certainly Johnston was, for in the gray of the
morning of April 6th, when Buell's leading division was _en bivouac_ near
the little town of Savannah, eight or ten miles below, the Confederate
forces, having moved out of Corinth two days before, fell upon Grant's
advance brigades and destroyed them. Grant was at Savannah, but hastened
to the Landing in time to find his camps in the hands of the enemy and the
remnants of his beaten army cooped up with an impassable river at their
backs for moral support. I have related how the news of this affair came
to us at Savannah. It came on the wind--a messenger that does not bear
copious details.


On the side of the Tennessee River, over against Pittsburg Landing, are
some low bare hills, partly inclosed by a forest. In the dusk of the
evening of April 6 this open space, as seen from the other side of the
stream--whence, indeed, it was anxiously watched by thousands of eyes, to
many of which it grew dark long before the sun went down--would have
appeared to have been ruled in long, dark lines, with new lines being
constantly drawn across. These lines were the regiments of Buell's leading
division, which having moved up from Savannah through a country presenting
nothing but interminable swamps and pathless "bottom lands," with rank
overgrowths of jungle, was arriving at the scene of action breathless,
footsore and faint with hunger. It had been a terrible race; some
regiments had lost a third of their number from fatigue, the men dropping
from the ranks as if shot, and left to recover or die at their leisure.
Nor was the scene to which they had been invited likely to inspire the
moral confidence that medicines physical fatigue. True, the air was full
of thunder and the earth was trembling beneath their feet; and if there is
truth in the theory of the conversion of force, these men were storing up
energy from every shock that burst its waves upon their bodies. Perhaps
this theory may better than another explain the tremendous endurance of
men in battle. But the eyes reported only matter for despair.

Before us ran the turbulent river, vexed with plunging shells and obscured
in spots by blue sheets of low-lying smoke. The two little steamers were
doing their duty well. They came over to us empty and went back crowded,
sitting very low in the water, apparently on the point of capsizing. The
farther edge of the water could not be seen; the boats came out of the
obscurity, took on their passengers and vanished in the darkness. But on
the heights above, the battle was burning brightly enough; a thousand
lights kindled and expired in every second of time. There were broad
flushings in the sky, against which the branches of the trees showed
black. Sudden flames burst out here and there, singly and in dozens.
Fleeting streaks of fire crossed over to us by way of welcome. These
expired in blinding flashes and fierce little rolls of smoke, attended
with the peculiar metallic ring of bursting shells, and followed by the
musical humming of the fragments as they struck into the ground on every
side, making us wince, but doing little harm. The air was full of noises.
To the right and the left the musketry rattled smartly and petulantly;
directly in front it sighed and growled. To the experienced ear this meant
that the death-line was an arc of which the river was the chord. There
were deep, shaking explosions and smart shocks; the whisper of stray
bullets and the hurtle of conical shells; the rush of round shot. There
were faint, desultory cheers, such as announce a momentary or partial
triumph. Occasionally, against the glare behind the trees, could be seen
moving black figures, singularly distinct but apparently no longer than a
thumb. They seemed to me ludicrously like the figures of demons in old
allegorical prints of hell. To destroy these and all their belongings the
enemy needed but another hour of daylight; the steamers in that case would
have been doing him fine service by bringing more fish to his net. Those
of us who had the good fortune to arrive late could then have eaten our
teeth in impotent rage. Nay, to make his victory sure it did not need that
the sun should pause in the heavens; one of the many random shots falling
into the river would have done the business had chance directed it into
the engine-room of a steamer. You can perhaps fancy the anxiety with which
we watched them leaping down.

But we had two other allies besides the night. Just where the enemy had
pushed his right flank to the river was the mouth of a wide bayou, and
here two gunboats had taken station. They too were of the toy sort, plated
perhaps with railway metals, perhaps with boiler-iron. They staggered
under a heavy gun or two each. The bayou made an opening in the high bank
of the river. The bank was a parapet, behind which the gunboats crouched,
firing up the bayou as through an embrasure. The enemy was at this
disadvantage: he could not get at the gunboats, and he could advance only
by exposing his flank to their ponderous missiles, one of which would have
broken a half-mile of his bones and made nothing of it. Very annoying this
must have been--these twenty gunners beating back an army because a
sluggish creek had been pleased to fall into a river at one point rather
than another. Such is the part that accident may play in the game of war.

As a spectacle this was rather fine. We could just discern the black
bodies of these boats, looking very much like turtles. But when they let
off their big guns there was a conflagration. The river shuddered in its
banks, and hurried on, bloody, wounded, terrified! Objects a mile away
sprang toward our eyes as a snake strikes at the face of its victim. The
report stung us to the brain, but we blessed it audibly. Then we could
hear the great shell tearing away through the air until the sound died out
in the distance; then, a surprisingly long time afterward, a dull, distant
explosion and a sudden silence of small-arms told their own tale.


There was, I remember, no elephant on the boat that passed us across that
evening, nor, I think, any hippopotamus. These would have been out of
place. We had, however, a woman. Whether the baby was somewhere on board I
did not learn. She was a fine creature, this woman; somebody's wife. Her
mission, as she understood it, was to inspire the failing heart with
courage; and when she selected mine I felt less flattered by her
preference than astonished by her penetration. How did she learn? She
stood on the upper deck with the red blaze of battle bathing her beautiful
face, the twinkle of a thousand rifles mirrored in her eyes; and
displaying a small ivory-handled pistol, she told me in a sentence
punctuated by the thunder of great guns that if it came to the worst she
would do her duty like a man! I am proud to remember that I took off my
hat to this little fool.


Along the sheltered strip of beach between the river bank and the water
was a confused mass of humanity--several thousands of men. They were
mostly unarmed; many were wounded; some dead. All the camp-following
tribes were there; all the cowards; a few officers. Not one of them knew
where his regiment was, nor if he had a regiment. Many had not. These men
were defeated, beaten, cowed. They were deaf to duty and dead to shame. A
more demented crew never drifted to the rear of broken battalions. They
would have stood in their tracks and been shot down to a man by a
provost-marshal's guard, but they could not have been urged up that bank.
An army's bravest men are its cowards. The death which they would not meet
at the hands of the enemy they will meet at the hands of their officers,
with never a flinching.

Whenever a steamboat would land, this abominable mob had to be kept off
her with bayonets; when she pulled away, they sprang on her and were
pushed by scores into the water, where they were suffered to drown one
another in their own way. The men disembarking insulted them, shoved them,
struck them. In return they expressed their unholy delight in the
certainty of our destruction by the enemy.

By the time my regiment had reached the plateau night had put an end to
the struggle. A sputter of rifles would break out now and then, followed
perhaps by a spiritless hurrah. Occasionally a shell from a far-away
battery would come pitching down somewhere near, with a whir crescendo, or
flit above our heads with a whisper like that made by the wings of a night
bird, to smother itself in the river. But there was no more fighting. The
gunboats, however, blazed away at set intervals all night long, just to
make the enemy uncomfortable and break him of his rest.

For us there was no rest. Foot by foot we moved through the dusky fields,
we knew not whither. There were men all about us, but no camp-fires; to
have made a blaze would have been madness. The men were of strange
regiments; they mentioned the names of unknown generals. They gathered in
groups by the wayside, asking eagerly our numbers. They recounted the
depressing incidents of the day. A thoughtful officer shut their mouths
with a sharp word as he passed; a wise one coming after encouraged them to
repeat their doleful tale all along the line.

Hidden in hollows and behind clumps of rank brambles were large tents,
dimly lighted with candles, but looking comfortable. The kind of comfort
they supplied was indicated by pairs of men entering and reappearing,
bearing litters; by low moans from within and by long rows of dead with
covered faces outside. These tents were constantly receiving the wounded,
yet were never full; they were continually ejecting the dead, yet were
never empty. It was as if the helpless had been carried in and murdered,
that they might not hamper those whose business it was to fall to-morrow.

The night was now black-dark; as is usual after a battle, it had begun to
rain. Still we moved; we were being put into position by somebody. Inch by
inch we crept along, treading on one another's heels by way of keeping
together. Commands were passed along the line in whispers; more commonly
none were given. When the men had pressed so closely together that they
could advance no farther they stood stock-still, sheltering the locks of
their rifles with their ponchos. In this position many fell asleep. When
those in front suddenly stepped away those in the rear, roused by the
tramping, hastened after with such zeal that the line was soon choked
again. Evidently the head of the division was being piloted at a snail's
pace by some one who did not feel sure of his ground. Very often we struck
our feet against the dead; more frequently against those who still had
spirit enough to resent it with a moan. These were lifted carefully to one
side and abandoned. Some had sense enough to ask in their weak way for
water. Absurd! Their clothes were soaken, their hair dank; their white
faces, dimly discernible, were clammy and cold. Besides, none of us had
any water. There was plenty coming, though, for before midnight a
thunderstorm broke upon us with great violence. The rain, which had for
hours been a dull drizzle, fell with a copiousness that stifled us; we
moved in running water up to our ankles. Happily, we were in a forest of
great trees heavily "decorated" with Spanish moss, or with an enemy
standing to his guns the disclosures of the lightning might have been
inconvenient. As it was, the incessant blaze enabled us to consult our
watches and encouraged us by displaying our numbers; our black, sinuous
line, creeping like a giant serpent beneath the trees, was apparently
interminable. I am almost ashamed to say how sweet I found the
companionship of those coarse men.

So the long night wore away, and as the glimmer of morning crept in
through the forest we found ourselves in a more open country. But where?
Not a sign of battle was here. The trees were neither splintered nor
scarred, the underbrush was unmown, the ground had no footprints but our
own. It was as if we had broken into glades sacred to eternal silence. I
should not have been surprised to see sleek leopards come fawning about
our feet, and milk-white deer confront us with human eyes.

A few inaudible commands from an invisible leader had placed us in order
of battle. But where was the enemy? Where, too, were the riddled regiments
that we had come to save? Had our other divisions arrived during the night
and passed the river to assist us? or were we to oppose our paltry five
thousand breasts to an army flushed with victory? What protected our
right? Who lay upon our left? Was there really anything in our front?

There came, borne to us on the raw morning air, the long, weird note of a
bugle. It was directly before us. It rose with a low, clear, deliberate
warble, and seemed to float in the gray sky like the note of a lark. The
bugle calls of the Federal and the Confederate armies were the same: it
was the "assembly"! As it died away I observed that the atmosphere had
suffered a change; despite the equilibrium established by the storm, it
was electric. Wings were growing on blistered feet. Bruised muscles and
jolted bones, shoulders pounded by the cruel knapsack, eyelids leaden from
lack of sleep--all were pervaded by the subtle fluid, all were unconscious
of their clay. The men thrust forward their heads, expanded their eyes and
clenched their teeth. They breathed hard, as if throttled by tugging at
the leash. If you had laid your hand in the beard or hair of one of these
men it would have crackled and shot sparks.


I suppose the country lying between Corinth and Pittsburg Landing could
boast a few inhabitants other than alligators. What manner of people they
were it is impossible to say, inasmuch as the fighting dispersed, or
possibly exterminated them; perhaps in merely classing them as non-saurian
I shall describe them with sufficient particularity and at the same time
avert from myself the natural suspicion attaching to a writer who points
out to persons who do not know him the peculiarities of persons whom he
does not know. One thing, however, I hope I may without offense affirm of
these swamp-dwellers--they were pious. To what deity their veneration was
given--whether, like the Egyptians, they worshiped the crocodile, or, like
other Americans, adored themselves, I do not presume to guess. But
whoever, or whatever, may have been the divinity whose ends they shaped,
unto Him, or It, they had builded a temple. This humble edifice, centrally
situated in the heart of a solitude, and conveniently accessible to the
supersylvan crow, had been christened Shiloh Chapel, whence the name of
the battle. The fact of a Christian church--assuming it to have been a
Christian church--giving name to a wholesale cutting of Christian throats
by Christian hands need not be dwelt on here; the frequency of its
recurrence in the history of our species has somewhat abated the moral
interest that would otherwise attach to it.


Owing to the darkness, the storm and the absence of a road, it had been
impossible to move the artillery from the open ground about the Landing.
The privation was much greater in a moral than in a material sense. The
infantry soldier feels a confidence in this cumbrous arm quite unwarranted
by its actual achievements in thinning out the opposition. There is
something that inspires confidence in the way a gun dashes up to the
front, shoving fifty or a hundred men to one side as if it said, "_Permit
me!_" Then it squares its shoulders, calmly dislocates a joint in its
back, sends away its twenty-four legs and settles down with a quiet
rattle which says as plainly as possible, "I've come to stay." There is a
superb scorn in its grimly defiant attitude, with its nose in the air; it
appears not so much to threaten the enemy as deride him.

Our batteries were probably toiling after us somewhere; we could only hope
the enemy might delay his attack until they should arrive. "He may delay
his defense if he like," said a sententious young officer to whom I had
imparted this natural wish. He had read the signs aright; the words were
hardly spoken when a group of staff officers about the brigade commander
shot away in divergent lines as if scattered by a whirlwind, and galloping
each to the commander of a regiment gave the word. There was a momentary
confusion of tongues, a thin line of skirmishers detached itself from the
compact front and pushed forward, followed by its diminutive reserves of
half a company each--one of which platoons it was my fortune to command.
When the straggling line of skirmishers had swept four or five hundred
yards ahead, "See," said one of my comrades, "she moves!" She did indeed,
and in fine style, her front as straight as a string, her reserve
regiments in columns doubled on the center, following in true
subordination; no braying of brass to apprise the enemy, no fifing and
drumming to amuse him; no ostentation of gaudy flags; no nonsense. This
was a matter of business.

In a few moments we had passed out of the singular oasis that had so
marvelously escaped the desolation of battle, and now the evidences of the
previous day's struggle were present in profusion. The ground was
tolerably level here, the forest less dense, mostly clear of undergrowth,
and occasionally opening out into small natural meadows. Here and there
were small pools--mere discs of rainwater with a tinge of blood. Riven and
torn with cannon-shot, the trunks of the trees protruded bunches of
splinters like hands, the fingers above the wound interlacing with those
below. Large branches had been lopped, and hung their green heads to the
ground, or swung critically in their netting of vines, as in a hammock.
Many had been cut clean off and their masses of foliage seriously impeded
the progress of the troops. The bark of these trees, from the root upward
to a height of ten or twenty feet, was so thickly pierced with bullets and
grape that one could not have laid a hand on it without covering several
punctures. None had escaped. How the human body survives a storm like this
must be explained by the fact that it is exposed to it but a few moments
at a time, whereas these grand old trees had had no one to take their
places, from the rising to the going down of the sun. Angular bits of
iron, concavo-convex, sticking in the sides of muddy depressions, showed
where shells had exploded in their furrows. Knapsacks, canteens,
haversacks distended with soaken and swollen biscuits, gaping to disgorge,
blankets beaten into the soil by the rain, rifles with bent barrels or
splintered stocks, waist-belts, hats and the omnipresent sardine-box--all
the wretched debris of the battle still littered the spongy earth as far
as one could see, in every direction. Dead horses were everywhere; a few
disabled caissons, or limbers, reclining on one elbow, as it were;
ammunition wagons standing disconsolate behind four or six sprawling
mules. Men? There were men enough; all dead, apparently, except one, who
lay near where I had halted my platoon to await the slower movement of the
line--a Federal sergeant, variously hurt, who had been a fine giant in his
time. He lay face upward, taking in his breath in convulsive, rattling
snorts, and blowing it out in sputters of froth which crawled creamily
down his cheeks, piling itself alongside his neck and ears. A bullet had
clipped a groove in his skull, above the temple; from this the brain
protruded in bosses, dropping off in flakes and strings. I had not
previously known one could get on, even in this unsatisfactory fashion,
with so little brain. One of my men, whom I knew for a womanish fellow,
asked if he should put his bayonet through him. Inexpressibly shocked by
the cold-blooded proposal, I told him I thought not; it was unusual, and
too many were looking.


It was plain that the enemy had retreated to Corinth. The arrival of our
fresh troops and their successful passage of the river had disheartened
him. Three or four of his gray cavalry videttes moving amongst the trees
on the crest of a hill in our front, and galloping out of sight at the
crack of our skirmishers' rifles, confirmed us in the belief; an army face
to face with its enemy does not employ cavalry to watch its front. True,
they might be a general and his staff. Crowning this rise we found a level
field, a quarter of a mile in width; beyond it a gentle acclivity, covered
with an undergrowth of young oaks, impervious to sight. We pushed on into
the open, but the division halted at the edge. Having orders to conform to
its movements, we halted too; but that did not suit; we received an
intimation to proceed. I had performed this sort of service before, and in
the exercise of my discretion deployed my platoon, pushing it forward at a
run, with trailed arms, to strengthen the skirmish line, which I overtook
some thirty or forty yards from the wood. Then--I can't describe it--the
forest seemed all at once to flame up and disappear with a crash like that
of a great wave upon the beach--a crash that expired in hot hissings, and
the sickening "spat" of lead against flesh. A dozen of my brave fellows
tumbled over like ten-pins. Some struggled to their feet, only to go down
again, and yet again. Those who stood fired into the smoking brush and
doggedly retired. We had expected to find, at most, a line of skirmishers
similar to our own; it was with a view to overcoming them by a sudden
_coup_ at the moment of collision that I had thrown forward my little
reserve. What we had found was a line of battle, coolly holding its fire
till it could count our teeth. There was no more to be done but get back
across the open ground, every superficial yard of which was throwing up
its little jet of mud provoked by an impinging bullet. We got back, most
of us, and I shall never forget the ludicrous incident of a young officer
who had taken part in the affair walking up to his colonel, who had been a
calm and apparently impartial spectator, and gravely reporting: "The enemy
is in force just beyond this field, sir."


In subordination to the design of this narrative, as defined by its title,
the incidents related necessarily group themselves about my own
personality as a center; and, as this center, during the few terrible
hours of the engagement, maintained a variably constant relation to the
open field already mentioned, it is important that the reader should bear
in mind the topographical and tactical features of the local situation.
The hither side of the field was occupied by the front of my brigade--a
length of two regiments in line, with proper intervals for field
batteries. During the entire fight the enemy held the slight wooded
acclivity beyond. The debatable ground to the right and left of the open
was broken and thickly wooded for miles, in some places quite inaccessible
to artillery and at very few points offering opportunities for its
successful employment. As a consequence of this the two sides of the field
were soon studded thickly with confronting guns, which flamed away at one
another with amazing zeal and rather startling effect. Of course, an
infantry attack delivered from either side was not to be thought of when
the covered flanks offered inducements so unquestionably superior; and I
believe the riddled bodies of my poor skirmishers were the only ones left
on this "neutral ground" that day. But there was a very pretty line of
dead continually growing in our rear, and doubtless the enemy had at his
back a similar encouragement.

The configuration of the ground offered us no protection. By lying flat on
our faces between the guns we were screened from view by a straggling row
of brambles, which marked the course of an obsolete fence; but the enemy's
grape was sharper than his eyes, and it was poor consolation to know that
his gunners could not see what they were doing, so long as they did it.
The shock of our own pieces nearly deafened us, but in the brief intervals
we could hear the battle roaring and stammering in the dark reaches of the
forest to the right and left, where our other divisions were dashing
themselves again and again into the smoking jungle. What would we not have
given to join them in their brave, hopeless task! But to lie inglorious
beneath showers of shrapnel darting divergent from the unassailable
sky--meekly to be blown out of life by level gusts of grape--to clench our
teeth and shrink helpless before big shot pushing noisily through the
consenting air--this was horrible! "Lie down, there!" a captain would
shout, and then get up himself to see that his order was obeyed. "Captain,
take cover, sir!" the lieutenant-colonel would shriek, pacing up and down
in the most exposed position that he could find.

O those cursed guns!--not the enemy's, but our own. Had it not been for
them, we might have died like men. They must be supported, forsooth, the
feeble, boasting bullies! It was impossible to conceive that these pieces
were doing the enemy as excellent a mischief as his were doing us; they
seemed to raise their "cloud by day" solely to direct aright the streaming
procession of Confederate missiles. They no longer inspired confidence,
but begot apprehension; and it was with grim satisfaction that I saw the
carriage of one and another smashed into matchwood by a whooping shot and
bundled out of the line.


The dense forests wholly or partly in which were fought so many battles of
the Civil War, lay upon the earth in each autumn a thick deposit of dead
leaves and stems, the decay of which forms a soil of surprising depth and
richness. In dry weather the upper stratum is as inflammable as tinder. A
fire once kindled in it will spread with a slow, persistent advance as far
as local conditions permit, leaving a bed of light ashes beneath which the
less combustible accretions of previous years will smolder until
extinguished by rains. In many of the engagements of the war the fallen
leaves took fire and roasted the fallen men. At Shiloh, during the first
day's fighting, wide tracts of woodland were burned over in this way and
scores of wounded who might have recovered perished in slow torture. I
remember a deep ravine a little to the left and rear of the field I have
described, in which, by some mad freak of heroic incompetence, a part of
an Illinois regiment had been surrounded, and refusing to surrender was
destroyed, as it very well deserved. My regiment having at last been
relieved at the guns and moved over to the heights above this ravine for
no obvious purpose, I obtained leave to go down into the valley of death
and gratify a reprehensible curiosity.

Forbidding enough it was in every way. The fire had swept every
superficial foot of it, and at every step I sank into ashes to the ankle.
It had contained a thick undergrowth of young saplings, every one of which
had been severed by a bullet, the foliage of the prostrate tops being
afterward burnt and the stumps charred. Death had put his sickle into this
thicket and fire had gleaned the field. Along a line which was not that of
extreme depression, but was at every point significantly equidistant from
the heights on either hand, lay the bodies, half buried in ashes; some in
the unlovely looseness of attitude denoting sudden death by the bullet,
but by far the greater number in postures of agony that told of the
tormenting flame. Their clothing was half burnt away--their hair and beard
entirely; the rain had come too late to save their nails. Some were
swollen to double girth; others shriveled to manikins. According to degree
of exposure, their faces were bloated and black or yellow and shrunken.
The contraction of muscles which had given them claws for hands had cursed
each countenance with a hideous grin. Faugh! I cannot catalogue the charms
of these gallant gentlemen who had got what they enlisted for.


It was now three o'clock in the afternoon, and raining. For fifteen hours
we had been wet to the skin. Chilled, sleepy, hungry and
disappointed--profoundly disgusted with the inglorious part to which they
had been condemned--the men of my regiment did everything doggedly. The
spirit had gone quite out of them. Blue sheets of powder smoke, drifting
amongst the trees, settling against the hillsides and beaten into
nothingness by the falling rain, filled the air with their peculiar
pungent odor, but it no longer stimulated. For miles on either hand could
be heard the hoarse murmur of the battle, breaking out near by with
frightful distinctness, or sinking to a murmur in the distance; and the
one sound aroused no more attention than the other.

We had been placed again in rear of those guns, but even they and their
iron antagonists seemed to have tired of their feud, pounding away at one
another with amiable infrequency. The right of the regiment extended a
little beyond the field. On the prolongation of the line in that direction
were some regiments of another division, with one in reserve. A third of a
mile back lay the remnant of somebody's brigade looking to its wounds. The
line of forest bounding this end of the field stretched as straight as a
wall from the right of my regiment to Heaven knows what regiment of the
enemy. There suddenly appeared, marching down along this wall, not more
than two hundred yards in our front, a dozen files of gray-clad men with
rifles on the right shoulder. At an interval of fifty yards they were
followed by perhaps half as many more; and in fair supporting distance of
these stalked with confident mien a single man! There seemed to me
something indescribably ludicrous in the advance of this handful of men
upon an army, albeit with their left flank protected by a forest. It does
not so impress me now. They were the exposed flanks of three lines of
infantry, each half a mile in length. In a moment our gunners had grappled
with the nearest pieces, swung them half round, and were pouring streams
of canister into the invaded wood. The infantry rose in masses, springing
into line. Our threatened regiments stood like a wall, their loaded rifles
at "ready," their bayonets hanging quietly in the scabbards. The right
wing of my own regiment was thrown slightly backward to threaten the flank
of the assault. The battered brigade away to the rear pulled itself

Then the storm burst. A great gray cloud seemed to spring out of the
forest into the faces of the waiting battalions. It was received with a
crash that made the very trees turn up their leaves. For one instant the
assailants paused above their dead, then struggled forward, their bayonets
glittering in the eyes that shone behind the smoke. One moment, and those
unmoved men in blue would be impaled. What were they about? Why did they
not fix bayonets? Were they stunned by their own volley? Their inaction
was maddening! Another tremendous crash!--the rear rank had fired!
Humanity, thank Heaven! is not made for this, and the shattered gray mass
drew back a score of paces, opening a feeble fire. Lead had scored its
old-time victory over steel; the heroic had broken its great heart against
the commonplace. There are those who say that it is sometimes otherwise.

All this had taken but a minute of time, and now the second Confederate
line swept down and poured in its fire. The line of blue staggered and
gave way; in those two terrific volleys it seemed to have quite poured out
its spirit. To this deadly work our reserve regiment now came up with a
run. It was surprising to see it spitting fire with never a sound, for
such was the infernal din that the ear could take in no more. This fearful
scene was enacted within fifty paces of our toes, but we were rooted to
the ground as if we had grown there. But now our commanding officer rode
from behind us to the front, waved his hand with the courteous gesture
that says _apres vous_, and with a barely audible cheer we sprang into the
fight. Again the smoking front of gray receded, and again, as the enemy's
third line emerged from its leafy covert, it pushed forward across the
piles of dead and wounded to threaten with protruded steel. Never was seen
so striking a proof of the paramount importance of numbers. Within an area
of three hundred yards by fifty there struggled for front places no fewer
than six regiments; and the accession of each, after the first collision,
had it not been immediately counterpoised, would have turned the scale.

As matters stood, we were now very evenly matched, and how long we might
have held out God only knows. But all at once something appeared to have
gone wrong with the enemy's left; our men had somewhere pierced his line.
A moment later his whole front gave way, and springing forward with fixed
bayonets we pushed him in utter confusion back to his original line. Here,
among the tents from which Grant's people had been expelled the day
before, our broken and disordered regiments inextricably intermingled, and
drunken with the wine of triumph, dashed confidently against a pair of
trim battalions, provoking a tempest of hissing lead that made us stagger
under its very weight. The sharp onset of another against our flank sent
us whirling back with fire at our heels and fresh foes in merciless
pursuit--who in their turn were broken upon the front of the invalided
brigade previously mentioned, which had moved up from the rear to assist
in this lively work.

As we rallied to reform behind our beloved guns and noted the ridiculous
brevity of our line--as we sank from sheer fatigue, and tried to moderate
the terrific thumping of our hearts--as we caught our breath to ask who
had seen such-and-such a comrade, and laughed hysterically at the
reply--there swept past us and over us into the open field a long regiment
with fixed bayonets and rifles on the right shoulder. Another followed,
and another; two--three--four! Heavens! where do all these men come from,
and why did they not come before? How grandly and confidently they go
sweeping on like long blue waves of ocean chasing one another to the cruel
rocks! Involuntarily we draw in our weary feet beneath us as we sit, ready
to spring up and interpose our breasts when these gallant lines shall come
back to us across the terrible field, and sift brokenly through among the
trees with spouting fires at their backs. We still our breathing to catch
the full grandeur of the volleys that are to tear them to shreds. Minute
after minute passes and the sound does not come. Then for the first time
we note that the silence of the whole region is not comparative, but
absolute. Have we become stone deaf? See; here comes a stretcher-bearer,
and there a surgeon! Good heavens! a chaplain!

The battle was indeed at an end.


And this was, O so long ago! How they come back to me--dimly and brokenly,
but with what a magic spell--those years of youth when I was soldiering!
Again I hear the far warble of blown bugles. Again I see the tall, blue
smoke of camp-fires ascending from the dim valleys of Wonderland. There
steals upon my sense the ghost of an odor from pines that canopy the
ambuscade. I feel upon my cheek the morning mist that shrouds the hostile
camp unaware of its doom, and my blood stirs at the ringing rifle-shot of
the solitary sentinel. Unfamiliar landscapes, glittering with sunshine or
sullen with rain, come to me demanding recognition, pass, vanish and give
place to others. Here in the night stretches a wide and blasted field
studded with half-extinct fires burning redly with I know not what presage
of evil. Again I shudder as I note its desolation and its awful silence.
Where was it? To what monstrous inharmony of death was it the visible

O days when all the world was beautiful and strange; when unfamiliar
constellations burned in the Southern midnights, and the mocking-bird
poured out his heart in the moon-gilded magnolia; when there was something
new under a new sun; will your fine, far memories ever cease to lay
contrasting pictures athwart the harsher features of this later world,
accentuating the ugliness of the longer and tamer life? Is it not strange
that the phantoms of a blood-stained period have so airy a grace and look
with so tender eyes?--that I recall with difficulty the danger and death
and horrors of the time, and without effort all that was gracious and
picturesque? Ah, Youth, there is no such wizard as thou! Give me but one
touch of thine artist hand upon the dull canvas of the Present; gild for
but one moment the drear and somber scenes of to-day, and I will willingly
surrender an other life than the one that I should have thrown away at


The history of that awful struggle is well known--I have not the intention
to record it here, but only to relate some part of what I saw of it; my
purpose not instruction, but entertainment.

I was an officer of the staff of a Federal brigade. Chickamauga was not my
first battle by many, for although hardly more than a boy in years, I had
served at the front from the beginning of the trouble, and had seen enough
of war to give me a fair understanding of it. We knew well enough that
there was to be a fight: the fact that we did not want one would have told
us that, for Bragg always retired when we wanted to fight and fought when
we most desired peace. We had manoeuvred him out of Chattanooga, but had
not manoeuvred our entire army into it, and he fell back so sullenly that
those of us who followed, keeping him actually in sight, were a good deal
more concerned about effecting a junction with the rest of our army than
to push the pursuit. By the time that Rosecrans had got his three
scattered corps together we were a long way from Chattanooga, with our
line of communication with it so exposed that Bragg turned to seize it.
Chickamauga was a fight for possession of a road.

Back along this road raced Crittenden's corps, with those of Thomas and
McCook, which had not before traversed it. The whole army was moving by
its left.

There was sharp fighting all along and all day, for the forest was so
dense that the hostile lines came almost into contact before fighting was
possible. One instance was particularly horrible. After some hours of
close engagement my brigade, with foul pieces and exhausted cartridge
boxes, was relieved and withdrawn to the road to protect several batteries
of artillery--probably two dozen pieces--which commanded an open field in
the rear of our line. Before our weary and virtually disarmed men had
actually reached the guns the line in front gave way, fell back behind the
guns and went on, the Lord knows whither. A moment later the field was
gray with Confederates in pursuit. Then the guns opened fire with grape
and canister and for perhaps five minutes--it seemed an hour--nothing
could be heard but the infernal din of their discharge and nothing seen
through the smoke but a great ascension of dust from the smitten soil.
When all was over, and the dust cloud had lifted, the spectacle was too
dreadful to describe. The Confederates were still there--all of them, it
seemed--some almost under the muzzles of the guns. But not a man of all
these brave fellows was on his feet, and so thickly were all covered with
dust that they looked as if they had been reclothed in yellow.

"We bury our dead," said a gunner, grimly, though doubtless all were
afterward dug out, for some were partly alive.

To a "day of danger" succeeded a "night of waking." The enemy, everywhere
held back from the road, continued to stretch his line northward in the
hope to overlap us and put himself between us and Chattanooga. We neither
saw nor heard his movement, but any man with half a head would have known
that he was making it, and we met it by a parallel movement to our left.
By morning we had edged along a good way and thrown up rude intrenchments
at a little distance from the road, on the threatened side. The day was
not very far advanced when we were attacked furiously all along the line,
beginning at the left. When repulsed, the enemy came again and again--his
persistence was dispiriting. He seemed to be using against us the law of
probabilities: of so many efforts one would eventually succeed.

One did, and it was my luck to see it win. I had been sent by my chief,
General Hazen, to order up some artillery ammunition and rode away to the
right and rear in search of it. Finding an ordnance train I obtained from
the officer in charge a few wagons loaded with what I wanted, but he
seemed in doubt as to our occupancy of the region across which I proposed
to guide them. Although assured that I had just traversed it, and that it
lay immediately behind Wood's division, he insisted on riding to the top
of the ridge behind which his train lay and overlooking the ground. We did
so, when to my astonishment I saw the entire country in front swarming
with Confederates; the very earth seemed to be moving toward us! They came
on in thousands, and so rapidly that we had barely time to turn tail and
gallop down the hill and away, leaving them in possession of the train,
many of the wagons being upset by frantic efforts to put them about. By
what miracle that officer had sensed the situation I did not learn, for we
parted company then and there and I never again saw him.

By a misunderstanding Wood's division had been withdrawn from our line of
battle just as the enemy was making an assault. Through the gap of half a
mile the Confederates charged without opposition, cutting our army clean
in two. The right divisions were broken up and with General Rosecrans in
their midst fled how they could across the country, eventually bringing up
in Chattanooga, whence Rosecrans telegraphed to Washington the destruction
of the rest of his army. The rest of his army was standing its ground.

A good deal of nonsense used to be talked about the heroism of General
Garfield, who, caught in the rout of the right, nevertheless went back and
joined the undefeated left under General Thomas. There was no great
heroism in it; that is what every man should have done, including the
commander of the army. We could hear Thomas's guns going--those of us who
had ears for them--and all that was needful was to make a sufficiently
wide detour and then move toward the sound. I did so myself, and have
never felt that it ought to make me President. Moreover, on my way I met
General Negley, and my duties as topographical engineer having given me
some knowledge of the lay of the land offered to pilot him back to glory
or the grave. I am sorry to say my good offices were rejected a little
uncivilly, which I charitably attributed to the general's obvious absence
of mind. His mind, I think, was in Nashville, behind a breastwork.

Unable to find my brigade, I reported to General Thomas, who directed me
to remain with him. He had assumed command of all the forces still intact
and was pretty closely beset. The battle was fierce and continuous, the
enemy extending his lines farther and farther around our right, toward our
line of retreat. We could not meet the extension otherwise than by
"refusing" our right flank and letting him inclose us; which but for
gallant Gordon Granger he would inevitably have done.

This was the way of it. Looking across the fields in our rear (rather
longingly) I had the happy distinction of a discoverer. What I saw was the
shimmer of sunlight on metal: lines of troops were coming in behind us!
The distance was too great, the atmosphere too hazy to distinguish the
color of their uniform, even with a glass. Reporting my momentous "find" I
was directed by the general to go and see who they were. Galloping toward
them until near enough to see that they were of our kidney I hastened back
with the glad tidings and was sent again, to guide them to the general's

It was General Granger with two strong brigades of the reserve, moving
soldier-like toward the sound of heavy firing. Meeting him and his staff I
directed him to Thomas, and unable to think of anything better to do
decided to go visiting. I knew I had a brother in that gang--an officer of
an Ohio battery. I soon found him near the head of a column, and as we
moved forward we had a comfortable chat amongst such of the enemy's
bullets as had inconsiderately been fired too high. The incident was a
trifle marred by one of them unhorsing another officer of the battery,
whom we propped against a tree and left. A few moments later Granger's
force was put in on the right and the fighting was terrific!

By accident I now found Hazen's brigade--or what remained of it--which had
made a half-mile march to add itself to the unrouted at the memorable
Snodgrass Hill. Hazen's first remark to me was an inquiry about that
artillery ammunition that he had sent me for.

It was needed badly enough, as were other kinds: for the last hour or two
of that interminable day Granger's were the only men that had enough
ammunition to make a five minutes' fight. Had the Confederates made one
more general attack we should have had to meet them with the bayonet
alone. I don't know why they did not; probably they were short of
ammunition. I know, though, that while the sun was taking its own time to
set we lived through the agony of at least one death each, waiting for
them to come on.

At last it grew too dark to fight. Then away to our left and rear some of
Bragg's people set up "the rebel yell." It was taken up successively and
passed round to our front, along our right and in behind us again, until
it seemed almost to have got to the point whence it started. It was the
ugliest sound that any mortal ever heard--even a mortal exhausted and
unnerved by two days of hard fighting, without sleep, without rest,
without food and without hope. There was, however, a space somewhere at
the back of us across which that horrible yell did not prolong itself; and
through that we finally retired in profound silence and dejection,

To those of us who have survived the attacks of both Bragg and Time, and
who keep in memory the dear dead comrades whom we left upon that fateful
field, the place means much. May it mean something less to the younger men
whose tents are now pitched where, with bended heads and clasped hands,
God's great angels stood invisible among the heroes in blue and the heroes
in gray, sleeping their last sleep in the woods of Chickamauga.



There is a class of events which by their very nature, and despite any
intrinsic interest that they may possess, are foredoomed to oblivion. They
are merged in the general story of those greater events of which they were
a part, as the thunder of a billow breaking on a distant beach is unnoted
in the continuous roar. To how many having knowledge of the battles of our
Civil War does the name Pickett's Mill suggest acts of heroism and
devotion performed in scenes of awful carnage to accomplish the
impossible? Buried in the official reports of the victors there are indeed
imperfect accounts of the engagement: the vanquished have not thought it
expedient to relate it. It is ignored by General Sherman in his memoirs,
yet Sherman ordered it. General Howard wrote an account of the campaign of
which it was an incident, and dismissed it in a single sentence; yet
General Howard planned it, and it was fought as an isolated and
independent action under his eye. Whether it was so trifling an affair as
to justify this inattention let the reader judge.

The fight occurred on the 27th of May, 1864, while the armies of Generals
Sherman and Johnston confronted each other near Dallas, Georgia, during
the memorable "Atlanta campaign." For three weeks we had been pushing the
Confederates southward, partly by manoeuvring, partly by fighting, out of
Dalton, out of Resaca, through Adairsville, Kingston and Cassville. Each
army offered battle everywhere, but would accept it only on its own terms.
At Dallas Johnston made another stand and Sherman, facing the hostile
line, began his customary manoeuvring for an advantage. General Wood's
division of Howard's corps occupied a position opposite the Confederate
right. Johnston finding himself on the 26th overlapped by Schofield, still
farther to Wood's left, retired his right (Polk) across a creek, whither
we followed him into the woods with a deal of desultory bickering, and at
nightfall had established the new lines at nearly a right angle with the
old--Schofield reaching well around and threatening the Confederate rear.

The civilian reader must not suppose when he reads accounts of military
operations in which relative positions of the forces are defined, as in
the foregoing passages, that these were matters of general knowledge to
those engaged. Such statements are commonly made, even by those high in
command, in the light of later disclosures, such as the enemy's official
reports. It is seldom, indeed, that a subordinate officer knows anything
about the disposition of the enemy's forces--except that it is
unaimable--or precisely whom he is fighting. As to the rank and file, they
can know nothing more of the matter than the arms they carry. They hardly
know what troops are upon their own right or left the length of a regiment
away. If it is a cloudy day they are ignorant even of the points of the
compass. It may be said, generally, that a soldier's knowledge of what is
going on about him is coterminous with his official relation to it and his
personal connection with it; what is going on in front of him he does not
know at all until he learns it afterward.

At nine o'clock on the morning of the 27th Wood's division was withdrawn
and replaced by Stanley's. Supported by Johnson's division, it moved at
ten o'clock to the left, in the rear of Schofield, a distance of four
miles through a forest, and at two o'clock in the afternoon had reached a
position where General Howard believed himself free to move in behind the
enemy's forces and attack them in the rear, or at least, striking them in
the flank, crush his way along their line in the direction of its length,
throw them into confusion and prepare an easy victory for a supporting
attack in front. In selecting General Howard for this bold adventure
General Sherman was doubtless not unmindful of Chancellorsville, where
Stonewall Jackson had executed a similar manoeuvre for Howard's
instruction. Experience is a normal school: it teaches how to teach.

There are some differences to be noted. At Chancellorsville it was Jackson
who attacked; at Pickett's Mill, Howard. At Chancellorsville it was Howard
who was assailed; at Pickett's Mill, Hood. The significance of the first
distinction is doubled by that of the second.

The attack, it was understood, was to be made in column of brigades,
Hazen's brigade of Wood's division leading. That such was at least Hazen's
understanding I learned from his own lips during the movement, as I was an
officer of his staff. But after a march of less than a mile an hour and a
further delay of three hours at the end of it to acquaint the enemy of our
intention to surprise him, our single shrunken brigade of fifteen hundred
men was sent forward without support to double up the army of General
Johnston. "We will put in Hazen and see what success he has." In these
words of General Wood to General Howard we were first apprised of the true
nature of the distinction about to be conferred upon us.

General W.B. Hazen, a born fighter, an educated soldier, after the war
Chief Signal Officer of the Army and now long dead, was the best hated man
that I ever knew, and his very memory is a terror to every unworthy soul
in the service. His was a stormy life: he was in trouble all round. Grant,
Sherman, Sheridan and a countless multitude of the less eminent luckless
had the misfortune, at one time and another, to incur his disfavor, and he
tried to punish them all. He was always--after the war--the central figure
of a court-martial or a Congressional inquiry, was accused of everything,
from stealing to cowardice, was banished to obscure posts, "jumped on" by
the press, traduced in public and in private, and always emerged
triumphant. While Signal Officer, he went up against the Secretary of War
and put him to the controversial sword. He convicted Sheridan of
falsehood, Sherman of barbarism, Grant of inefficiency. He was aggressive,
arrogant, tyrannical, honorable, truthful, courageous--skillful soldier, a
faithful friend and one of the most exasperating of men Duty was his
religion, and like the Moslem he proselyted with the sword. His missionary
efforts were directed chiefly against the spiritual darkness of his
superiors in rank, though he would turn aside from pursuit of his erring
commander to set a chicken-thieving orderly astride a wooden horse, with a
heavy stone attached to each foot. "Hazen," said a brother brigadier, "is
a synonym of insubordination." For my commander and my friend, my master
in the art of war, now unable to answer for himself, let this fact answer:
when he heard Wood say they would put him in and see what success he would
have in defeating an army--when he saw Howard assent--he uttered never a
word, rode to the head of his feeble brigade and patiently awaited the
command to go. Only by a look which I knew how to read did he betray his
sense of the criminal blunder.

The enemy had now had seven hours in which to learn of the movement and
prepare to meet it. General Johnston says:

"The Federal troops extended their intrenched line [we did not intrench]
so rapidly to their left that it was found necessary to transfer
Cleburne's division to Hardee's corps to our right, where it was formed on
the prolongation of Polk's line."

General Hood, commanding the enemy's right corps, says:

"On the morning of the 27th the enemy were known to be rapidly extending
their left, attempting to turn my right as they extended. Cleburne was
deployed to meet them, and at half-past five P.M. a very stubborn attack
was made on this division, extending to the right, where Major-General
Wheeler with his cavalry division was engaging them. The assault was
continued with great determination upon both Cleburne and Wheeler."

That, then, was the situation: a weak brigade of fifteen hundred men, with
masses of idle troops behind in the character of audience, waiting for the
word to march a quarter-mile up hill through almost impassable tangles of
underwood, along and across precipitous ravines, and attack breastworks
constructed at leisure and manned with two divisions of troops as good as
themselves. True, we did not know all this, but if any man on that ground
besides Wood and Howard expected a "walkover" his must have been a
singularly hopeful disposition. As topographical engineer it had been my
duty to make a hasty examination of the ground in front. In doing so I had
pushed far enough forward through the forest to hear distinctly the murmur
of the enemy awaiting us, and this had been duly reported; but from our
lines nothing could be heard but the wind among the trees and the songs of
birds. Some one said it was a pity to frighten them, but there would
necessarily be more or less noise. We laughed at that: men awaiting death
on the battlefield laugh easily, though not infectiously.

The brigade was formed in four battalions, two in front and two in rear.
This gave us a front of about two hundred yards. The right front battalion
was commanded by Colonel R.L. Kimberly of the 41st Ohio, the left by
Colonel O.H. Payne of the 124th Ohio, the rear battalions by Colonel J.C.
Foy, 23d Kentucky, and Colonel W.W. Berry, 5th Kentucky--all brave and
skillful officers, tested by experience on many fields. The whole command
(known as the Second Brigade, Third Division, Fourth Corps) consisted of
no fewer than nine regiments, reduced by long service to an average of
less than two hundred men each. With full ranks and only the necessary
details for special duty we should have had some eight thousand rifles in

We moved forward. In less than one minute the trim battalions had become
simply a swarm of men struggling through the undergrowth of the forest,
pushing and crowding. The front was irregularly serrated, the strongest
and bravest in advance, the others following in fan-like formations,
variable and inconstant, ever defining themselves anew. For the first two
hundred yards our course lay along the left bank of a small creek in a
deep ravine, our left battalions sweeping along its steep slope. Then we
came to the fork of the ravine. A part of us crossed below, the rest
above, passing over both branches, the regiments inextricably
intermingled, rendering all military formation impossible. The
color-bearers kept well to the front with their flags, closely furled,
aslant backward over their shoulders. Displayed, they would have been torn
to rags by the boughs of the trees. Horses were all sent to the rear; the
general and staff and all the field officers toiled along on foot as best
they could. "We shall halt and form when we get out of this," said an

Suddenly there were a ringing rattle of musketry, the familiar hissing of
bullets, and before us the interspaces of the forest were all blue with
smoke. Hoarse, fierce yells broke out of a thousand throats. The forward
fringe of brave and hardy assailants was arrested in its mutable
extensions; the edge of our swarm grew dense and clearly defined as the
foremost halted, and the rest pressed forward to align themselves beside
them, all firing. The uproar was deafening; the air was sibilant with
streams and sheets of missiles. In the steady, unvarying roar of
small-arms the frequent shock of the cannon was rather felt than heard,
but the gusts of grape which they blew into that populous wood were
audible enough, screaming among the trees and cracking against their stems
and branches. We had, of course, no artillery to reply.

Our brave color-bearers were now all in the forefront of battle in the
open, for the enemy had cleared a space in front of his breastworks. They
held the colors erect, shook out their glories, waved them forward and
back to keep them spread, for there was no wind. From where I stood, at
the right of the line--we had "halted and formed," indeed--I could see six
of our flags at one time. Occasionally one would go down, only to be
instantly lifted by other hands.

I must here quote again from General Johnston's account of this
engagement, for nothing could more truly indicate the resolute nature of
the attack than the Confederate belief that it was made by the whole
Fourth Corps, instead of one weak brigade:

"The Fourth Corps came on in deep order and assailed the Texans with great
vigor, receiving their close and accurate fire with the fortitude always
exhibited by General Sherman's troops in the actions of this campaign....
The Federal troops approached within a few yards of the Confederates, but
at last were forced to give way by their storm of well-directed bullets,
and fell back to the shelter of a hollow near and behind them. They left
hundreds of corpses within twenty paces of the Confederate line. When the
United States troops paused in their advance within fifteen paces of the
Texan front rank one of their color-bearers planted his colors eight or
ten feet in front of his regiment, and was instantly shot dead. A soldier
sprang forward to his place and fell also as he grasped the color-staff. A
second and third followed successively, and each received death as
speedily as his predecessors. A fourth, however, seized and bore back the
object of soldierly devotion."

Such incidents have occurred in battle from time to time since men began
to venerate the symbols of their cause, but they are not commonly related
by the enemy. If General Johnston had known that his veteran divisions
were throwing their successive lines against fewer than fifteen hundred
men his glowing tribute to his enemy's valor could hardly have been more
generously expressed. I can attest the truth of his soldierly praise: I
saw the occurrence that he relates and regret that I am unable to recall
even the name of the regiment whose colors were so gallantly saved.

Early in my military experience I used to ask myself how it was that brave
troops could retreat while still their courage was high. As long as a man
is not disabled he can go forward; can it be anything but fear that makes
him stop and finally retire? Are there signs by which he can infallibly
know the struggle to be hopeless? In this engagement, as in others, my
doubts were answered as to the fact; the explanation is still obscure. In
many instances which have come under my observation, when hostile lines of
infantry engage at close range and the assailants afterward retire, there
was a "dead-line" beyond which no man advanced but to fall. Not a soul of
them ever reached the enemy's front to be bayoneted or captured. It was a
matter of the difference of three or four paces--too small a distance to
affect the accuracy of aim. In these affairs no aim is taken at individual
antagonists; the soldier delivers his fire at the thickest mass in his
front. The fire is, of course, as deadly at twenty paces as at fifteen; at
fifteen as at ten. Nevertheless, there is the "dead-line," with its
well-defined edge of corpses--those of the bravest. Where both lines are
fighting without cover--as in a charge met by a counter-charge--each has
its "dead-line," and between the two is a clear space--neutral ground,
devoid of dead, for the living cannot reach it to fall there.

I observed this phenomenon at Pickett's Mill. Standing at the right of the
line I had an unobstructed view of the narrow, open space across which the
two lines fought. It was dim with smoke, but not greatly obscured: the
smoke rose and spread in sheets among the branches of the trees. Most of
our men fought kneeling as they fired, many of them behind trees, stones
and whatever cover they could get, but there were considerable groups that
stood. Occasionally one of these groups, which had endured the storm of
missiles for moments without perceptible reduction, would push forward,
moved by a common despair, and wholly detach itself from the line. In a
second every man of the group would be down. There had been no visible
movement of the enemy, no audible change in the awful, even roar of the
firing--yet all were down. Frequently the dim figure of an individual
soldier would be seen to spring away from his comrades, advancing alone
toward that fateful interspace, with leveled bayonet. He got no farther
than the farthest of his predecessors. Of the "hundreds of corpses within
twenty paces of the Confederate line," I venture to say that a third were
within fifteen paces, and not one within ten.

It is the perception--perhaps unconscious--of this inexplicable phenomenon
that causes the still unharmed, still vigorous and still courageous
soldier to retire without having come into actual contact with his foe. He
sees, or feels, that he _cannot_. His bayonet is a useless weapon for
slaughter; its purpose is a moral one. Its mandate exhausted, he sheathes
it and trusts to the bullet. That failing, he retreats. He has done all
that he could do with such appliances as he has.

No command to fall back was given, none could have been heard. Man by man,
the survivors withdrew at will, sifting through the trees into the cover
of the ravines, among the wounded who could drag themselves back; among
the skulkers whom nothing could have dragged forward. The left of our
short line had fought at the corner of a cornfield, the fence along the
right side of which was parallel to the direction of our retreat. As the
disorganized groups fell back along this fence on the wooded side, they
were attacked by a flanking force of the enemy moving through the field in
a direction nearly parallel with what had been our front. This force, I
infer from General Johnston's account, consisted of the brigade of General
Lowry, or two Arkansas regiments under Colonel Baucum. I had been sent by
General Hazen to that point and arrived in time to witness this formidable
movement. But already our retreating men, in obedience to their officers,
their courage and their instinct of self-preservation, had formed along
the fence and opened fire. The apparently slight advantage of the
imperfect cover and the open range worked its customary miracle: the
assault, a singularly spiritless one, considering the advantages it
promised and that it was made by an organized and victorious force against
a broken and retreating one, was checked. The assailants actually retired,
and if they afterward renewed the movement they encountered none but our
dead and wounded.

The battle, as a battle, was at an end, but there was still some
slaughtering that it was possible to incur before nightfall; and as the
wreck of our brigade drifted back through the forest we met the brigade
(Gibson's) which, had the attack been made in column, as it should have
been, would have been but five minutes behind our heels, with another five
minutes behind its own. As it was, just forty-five minutes had elapsed,
during which the enemy had destroyed us and was now ready to perform the
same kindly office for our successors. Neither Gibson nor the brigade
which was sent to his "relief" as tardily as he to ours accomplished, or
could have hoped to accomplish, anything whatever. I did not note their
movements, having other duties, but Hazen in his "Narrative of Military
Service" says:

"I witnessed the attack of the two brigades following my own, and none of
these (troops) advanced nearer than one hundred yards of the enemy's
works. They went in at a run, and as organizations were broken in less
than a minute."

Nevertheless their losses were considerable, including several hundred
prisoners taken from a sheltered place whence they did not care to rise
and run. The entire loss was about fourteen hundred men, of whom nearly
one-half fell killed and wounded in Hazen's brigade in less than thirty
minutes of actual fighting.

General Johnston says:

"The Federal dead lying near our line were counted by many persons,
officers and soldiers. According to these counts there were seven hundred
of them."

This is obviously erroneous, though I have not the means at hand to
ascertain the true number. I remember that we were all astonished at the
uncommonly large proportion of dead to wounded--a consequence of the
uncommonly close range at which most of the fighting was done.

The action took its name from a water-power mill near by. This was on a
branch of a stream having, I am sorry to say, the prosaic name of Pumpkin
Vine Creek. I have my own reasons for suggesting that the name of that
water-course be altered to Sunday-School Run.


During a part of the month of October, 1864, the Federal and Confederate
armies of Sherman and Hood respectively, having performed a surprising and
resultless series of marches and countermarches since the fall of Atlanta,
confronted each other along the separating line of the Coosa River in the
vicinity of Gaylesville, Alabama. Here for several days they remained at
rest--at least most of the infantry and artillery did; what the cavalry
was doing nobody but itself ever knew or greatly cared. It was an
interregnum of expectancy between two régimes of activity.

I was on the staff of Colonel McConnell, who commanded an infantry brigade
in the absence of its regular commander. McConnell was a good man, but he
did not keep a very tight rein upon the half dozen restless and reckless
young fellows who (for his sins) constituted his "military family." In
most matters we followed the trend of our desires, which commonly ran in
the direction of adventure--it did not greatly matter what kind. In
pursuance of this policy of escapades, one bright Sunday morning
Lieutenant Cobb, an aide-de-camp, and I mounted and set out to "seek our
fortunes," as the story books have it. Striking into a road of which we
knew nothing except that it led toward the river, we followed it for a
mile or such a matter, when we found our advance interrupted by a
considerable creek, which we must ford or go back. We consulted a moment
and then rode at it as hard as we could, possibly in the belief that a
high momentum would act as it does in the instance of a skater passing
over thin ice. Cobb was fortunate enough to get across comparatively dry,
but his hapless companion was utterly submerged. The disaster was all the
greater from my having on a resplendent new uniform, of which I had been
pardonably vain. Ah, what a gorgeous new uniform it never was again!

A half-hour devoted to wringing my clothing and dry-charging my revolver,
and we were away. A brisk canter of a half-hour under the arches of the
trees brought us to the river, where it was our ill luck to find a boat
and three soldiers of our brigade. These men had been for several hours
concealed in the brush patiently watching the opposite bank in the amiable
hope of getting a shot at some unwary Confederate, but had seen none. For
a great distance up and down the stream on the other side, and for at
least a mile back from it, extended cornfields. Beyond the cornfields, on
slightly higher ground, was a thin forest, with breaks here and there in
its continuity, denoting plantations, probably. No houses were in sight,
and no camps. We knew that it was the enemy's ground, but whether his
forces were disposed along the slightly higher country bordering the
bottom lands, or at strategic points miles back, as ours were, we knew no
more than the least curious private in our army. In any case the river
line would naturally be picketed or patrolled. But the charm of the
unknown was upon us: the mysterious exerted its old-time fascination,
beckoning to us from that silent shore so peaceful and dreamy in the
beauty of the quiet Sunday morning. The temptation was strong and we fell.
The soldiers were as eager for the hazard as we, and readily volunteered
for the madmen's enterprise. Concealing our horses in a cane-brake, we
unmoored the boat and rowed across unmolested.

Arrived at a kind of "landing" on the other side, our first care was so to
secure the boat under the bank as to favor a hasty re-embarking in case we
should be so unfortunate as to incur the natural consequence of our act;
then, following an old road through the ranks of standing corn, we moved
in force upon the Confederate position, five strong, with an armament of
three Springfield rifles and two Colt's revolvers. We had not the further
advantage of music and banners. One thing favored the expedition, giving
it an apparent assurance of success: it was well officered--an officer to
each man and a half.

After marching about a mile we came into a neck of woods and crossed an
intersecting road which showed no wheel-tracks, but was rich in
hoof-prints. We observed them and kept right on about our business,
whatever that may have been. A few hundred yards farther brought us to a
plantation bordering our road upon the right. The fields, as was the
Southern fashion at that period of the war, were uncultivated and
overgrown with brambles. A large white house stood at some little distance
from the road; we saw women and children and a few negroes there. On our
left ran the thin forest, pervious to cavalry. Directly ahead an ascent in
the road formed a crest beyond which we could see nothing.

On this crest suddenly appeared two horsemen in gray, sharply outlined
against the sky--men and animals looking gigantic. At the same instant a
jingling and tramping were audible behind us, and turning in that
direction I saw a score of mounted men moving forward at a trot. In the
meantime the giants on the crest had multiplied surprisingly. Our invasion
of the Gulf States had apparently failed.

There was lively work in the next few seconds. The shots were thick and
fast--and uncommonly loud; none, I think, from our side. Cobb was on the
extreme left of our advance, I on the right--about two paces apart. He
instantly dived into the wood. The three men and I climbed across the
fence somehow and struck out across the field--actuated, doubtless, by an
intelligent forethought: men on horseback could not immediately follow.
Passing near the house, now swarming like a hive of bees, we made for a
swamp two or three hundred yards away, where I concealed myself in a
jungle, the others continuing--as a defeated commander would put it--to
fall back. In my cover, where I lay panting like a hare, I could hear a
deal of shouting and hard riding and an occasional shot. I heard some one
calling dogs, and the thought of bloodhounds added its fine suggestiveness
to the other fancies appropriate to the occasion.

Finding myself unpursued after the lapse of what seemed an hour, but was
probably a few minutes, I cautiously sought a place where, still
concealed, I could obtain a view of the field of glory. The only enemy in
sight was a group of horsemen on a hill a quarter of a mile away. Toward
this group a woman was running, followed by the eyes of everybody about
the house. I thought she had discovered my hiding-place and was going to
"give me away." Taking to my hands and knees I crept as rapidly as
possible among the clumps of brambles directly back toward the point in
the road where we had met the enemy and failed to make him ours. There I
dragged myself into a patch of briars within ten feet of the road, where I
lay undiscovered during the remainder of the day, listening to a variety
of disparaging remarks upon Yankee valor and to dispiriting declarations
of intention conditional on my capture, as members of the Opposition
passed and repassed and paused in the road to discuss the morning's
events. In this way I learned that the three privates had been headed off
and caught within ten minutes. Their destination would naturally be
Andersonville; what further became of them God knows. Their captors passed
the day making a careful canvass of the swamp for me.

When night had fallen I cautiously left my place of concealment, dodged
across the road into the woods and made for the river through the mile of
corn. Such corn! It towered above me like a forest, shutting out all the
starlight except what came from directly overhead. Many of the ears were a
yard out of reach. One who has never seen an Alabama river-bottom
cornfield has not exhausted nature's surprises; nor will he know what
solitude is until he explores one in a moonless night.

I came at last to the river bank with its fringe of trees and willows and
canes. My intention was to swim across, but the current was swift, the
water forbiddingly dark and cold. A mist obscured the other bank. I could
not, indeed, see the water more than a few yards out. It was a hazardous
and horrible undertaking, and I gave it up, following cautiously along the
bank in search of the spot where we had moored the boat. True, it was
hardly likely that the landing was now unguarded, or, if so, that the boat
was still there. Cobb had undoubtedly made for it, having an even more
urgent need than I; but hope springs eternal in the human breast, and
there was a chance that he had been killed before reaching it. I came at
last into the road that we had taken and consumed half the night in
cautiously approaching the landing, pistol in hand and heart in mouth. The
boat was gone! I continued my journey along the stream--in search of

My clothing was still damp from my morning bath, my teeth rattled with
cold, but I kept on along the stream until I reached the limit of the
cornfields and entered a dense wood. Through this I groped my way, inch by
inch, when, suddenly emerging from a thicket into a space slightly more
open, I came upon a smoldering camp-fire surrounded by prostrate figures
of men, upon one of whom I had almost trodden. A sentinel, who ought to
have been shot, sat by the embers, his carbine across his lap, his chin
upon his breast. Just beyond was a group of unsaddled horses. The men were
asleep; the sentinel was asleep; the horses were asleep. There was
something indescribably uncanny about it all. For a moment I believed them
all lifeless, and O'Hara's familiar line, "The bivouac of the dead,"
quoted itself in my consciousness. The emotion that I felt was that
inspired by a sense of the supernatural; of the actual and imminent peril
of my position I had no thought. When at last it occurred to me I felt it
as a welcome relief, and stepping silently back into the shadow retraced
my course without having awakened a soul. The vividness with which I can
now recall that scene is to me one of the marvels of memory.

Getting my bearings again with some difficulty, I now made a wide detour
to the left, in the hope of passing around this outpost and striking the
river beyond. In this mad attempt I ran upon a more vigilant sentinel,
posted in the heart of a thicket, who fired at me without challenge. To a
soldier an unexpected shot ringing out at dead of night is fraught with an
awful significance. In my circumstances--cut off from my comrades, groping
about an unknown country, surrounded by invisible perils which such a
signal would call into eager activity--the flash and shock of that firearm
were unspeakably dreadful! In any case I should and ought to have fled,
and did so; but how much or little of conscious prudence there was in the
prompting I do not care to discover by analysis of memory. I went back
into the corn, found the river, followed it back a long way and mounted
into the fork of a low tree. There I perched until the dawn, a most
uncomfortable bird.

In the gray light of the morning I discovered that I was opposite an
island of considerable length, separated from the mainland by a narrow and
shallow channel, which I promptly waded. The island was low and flat,
covered with an almost impenetrable cane-brake interlaced with vines.
Working my way through these to the other side, I obtained another look at
God's country--Shermany, so to speak. There were no visible inhabitants.
The forest and the water met. This did not deter me. For the chill of the
water I had no further care, and laying off my boots and outer clothing I
prepared to swim. A strange thing now occurred--more accurately, a
familiar thing occurred at a strange moment. A black cloud seemed to pass
before my eyes--the water, the trees, the sky, all vanished in a profound
darkness. I heard the roaring of a great cataract, felt the earth sinking
from beneath my feet. Then I heard and felt no more.

At the battle of Kennesaw Mountain in the previous June I had been badly
wounded in the head, and for three months was incapacitated for service.
In truth, I had done no actual duty since, being then, as for many years
afterward, subject to fits of fainting, sometimes without assignable
immediate cause, but mostly when suffering from exposure, excitement or
excessive fatigue. This combination of them all had broken me down--most
opportunely, it would seem.

When I regained my consciousness the sun was high. I was still giddy and
half blind. To have taken to the water would have been madness; I must
have a raft. Exploring my island, I found a pen of slender logs: an old
structure without roof or rafters, built for what purpose I do not know.
Several of these logs I managed with patient toil to detach and convey to
the water, where I floated them, lashing them together with vines. Just
before sunset my raft was complete and freighted with my outer clothing,
boots and pistol. Having shipped the last article, I returned into the
brake, seeking something from which to improvise a paddle. While peering
about I heard a sharp metallic click--the cocking of a rifle! I was a

The history of this great disaster to the Union arms is brief and simple.
A Confederate "home guard," hearing something going on upon the island,
rode across, concealed his horse and still-hunted me. And, reader, when
you are "held up" in the same way may it be by as fine a fellow. He not
only spared my life, but even overlooked a feeble and ungrateful
after-attempt upon his own (the particulars of which I shall not relate),
merely exacting my word of honor that I would not again try to escape
while in his custody. Escape! I could not have escaped a new-born babe.

At my captor's house that evening there was a reception, attended by the
élite of the whole vicinity. A Yankee officer in full fig--minus only the
boots, which could not be got on to his swollen feet--was something worth
seeing, and those who came to scoff remained to stare. What most
interested them, I think, was my eating--an entertainment that was
prolonged to a late hour. They were a trifle disappointed by the absence
of horns, hoof and tail, but bore their chagrin with good-natured
fortitude. Among my visitors was a charming young woman from the
plantation where we had met the foe the day before--the same lady whom I
had suspected of an intention to reveal my hiding-place. She had had no
such design; she had run over to the group of horsemen to learn if her
father had been hurt--by whom, I should like to know. No restraint was put
upon me; my captor even left me with the women and children and went off
for instructions as to what disposition he should make of me. Altogether
the reception was "a pronounced success," though it is to be regretted
that the guest of the evening had the incivility to fall dead asleep in
the midst of the festivities, and was put to bed by sympathetic and, he
has reason to believe, fair hands.

The next morning I was started off to the rear in custody of two mounted
men, heavily armed. They had another prisoner, picked up in some raid
beyond the river. He was a most offensive brute--a foreigner of some
mongrel sort, with just sufficient command of our tongue to show that he
could not control his own. We traveled all day, meeting occasional small
bodies of cavalrymen, by whom, with one exception--a Texan officer--was
civilly treated. My guards said, however, that if we should chance to meet
Jeff Gatewood he would probably take me from them and hang me to the
nearest tree; and once or twice, hearing horsemen approach, they directed
me to stand aside, concealed in the brush, one of them remaining near by
to keep an eye on me, the other going forward with my fellow-prisoner, for
whose neck they seemed to have less tenderness, and whom I heartily wished
well hanged.

Jeff Gatewood was a "guerrilla" chief of local notoriety, who was a
greater terror to his friends than to his other foes. My guards related
almost incredible tales of his cruelties and infamies. By their account it
was into his camp that I had blundered on Sunday night.

We put up for the night at a farmhouse, having gone not more than fifteen
miles, owing to the condition of my feet. Here we got a bite of supper and
were permitted to lie before the fire. My fellow-prisoner took off his
boots and was soon sound asleep. I took off nothing and, despite
exhaustion, remained equally sound awake. One of the guards also removed
his footgear and outer clothing, placed his weapons under his neck and
slept the sleep of innocence; the other sat in the chimney corner on
watch. The house was a double log cabin, with an open space between the
two parts, roofed over--a common type of habitation in that region. The
room we were in had its entrance in this open space, the fireplace
opposite, at the end. Beside the door was a bed, occupied by the old man
of the house and his wife. It was partly curtained off from the room.

In an hour or two the chap on watch began to yawn, then to nod. Pretty
soon he stretched himself on the floor, facing us, pistol in hand. For a
while he supported himself on his elbow, then laid his head on his arm,
blinking like an owl. I performed an occasional snore, watching him
narrowly between my eyelashes from the shadow of my arm. The inevitable
occurred--he slept audibly.

A half-hour later I rose quietly to my feet, particularly careful not to
disturb the blackguard at my side, and moved as silently as possible to
the door. Despite my care the latch clicked. The old lady sat bolt upright
in bed and stared at me. She was too late. I sprang through the door and
struck out for the nearest point of woods, in a direction previously
selected, vaulting fences like an accomplished gymnast and followed by a
multitude of dogs. It is said that the State of Alabama has more dogs than
school-children, and that they cost more for their keep. The estimate of
cost is probably too high.

Looking backward as I ran, I saw and heard the place in a turmoil and
uproar; and to my joy the old man, evidently oblivious to the facts of the
situation, was lifting up his voice and calling his dogs. They were good
dogs: they went back; otherwise the malicious old rascal would have had my
skeleton. Again the traditional bloodhound did not materialize. Other
pursuit there was no reason to fear; my foreign gentleman would occupy the
attention of one of the soldiers, and in the darkness of the forest I
could easily elude the other, or, if need be, get him at a disadvantage.
In point of fact there was no pursuit.

I now took my course by the north star (which I can never sufficiently
bless), avoiding all roads and open places about houses, laboriously
boring my way through forests, driving myself like a wedge into brush and
bramble, swimming every stream I came to (some of them more than once,
probably), and pulling myself out of the water by boughs and
briars--whatever could be grasped. Let any one try to go a little way
across even the most familiar country on a moonless night, and he will
have an experience to remember. By dawn I had probably not made three
miles. My clothing and skin were alike in rags.

During the day I was compelled to make wide detours to avoid even the
fields, unless they were of corn; but in other respects the going was
distinctly better. A light breakfast of raw sweet potatoes and persimmons
cheered the inner man; a good part of the outer was decorating the several
thorns, boughs and sharp rocks along my sylvan wake.

Late in the afternoon I found the river, at what point it was impossible
to say. After a half-hour's rest, concluding with a fervent prayer that I
might go to the bottom, I swam across. Creeping up the bank and holding my
course still northward through a dense undergrowth, I suddenly reeled into
a dusty highway and saw a more heavenly vision than ever the eyes of a
dying saint were blessed withal--two patriots in blue carrying a stolen
pig slung upon a pole!

Late that evening Colonel McConnell and his staff were chatting by a
camp-fire in front of his headquarters. They were in a pleasant humor:
some one had just finished a funny story about a man cut in two by a
cannon-shot. Suddenly something staggered in among them from the outer
darkness and fell into the fire. Somebody dragged it out by what seemed to
be a leg. They turned the animal on its back and examined it--they were no

"What is it, Cobb?" said the chief, who had not taken the trouble to rise.

"I don't know, Colonel, but thank God it is dead!"

It was not.


For several days, in snow and rain, General Schofield's little army had
crouched in its hastily constructed defenses at Columbia, Tennessee. It
had retreated in hot haste from Pulaski, thirty miles to the south,
arriving just in time to foil Hood, who, marching from Florence, Alabama,
by another road, with a force of more than double our strength, had hoped
to intercept us. Had he succeeded, he would indubitably have bagged the
whole bunch of us. As it was, he simply took position in front of us and
gave us plenty of employment, but did not attack; he knew a trick worth
two of that.

Duck River was directly in our rear; I suppose both our flanks rested on
it. The town was between them. One night--that of November 27, 1864--we
pulled up stakes and crossed to the north bank to continue our retreat to
Nashville, where Thomas and safety lay--such safety as is known in war. It
was high time too, for before noon of the next day Forrest's cavalry
forded the river a few miles above us and began pushing back our own horse
toward Spring Hill, ten miles in our rear, on our only road. Why our
infantry was not immediately put in motion toward the threatened point, so
vital to our safety, General Schofield could have told better than I.
Howbeit, we lay there inactive all day.

The next morning--a bright and beautiful one--the brigade of Colonel P.
Sidney Post was thrown out, up the river four or five miles, to see what
it could see. What it saw was Hood's head-of-column coming over on a
pontoon bridge, and a right pretty spectacle it would have been to one
whom it did not concern. It concerned us rather keenly.

As a member of Colonel Post's staff, I was naturally favored with a good
view of the performance. We formed in line of battle at a distance of
perhaps a half-mile from the bridge-head, but that unending column of gray
and steel gave us no more attention than if we had been a crowd of
farmer-folk. Why should it? It had only to face to the left to be itself a
line of battle. Meantime it had more urgent business on hand than brushing
away a small brigade whose only offense was curiosity; it was making for
Spring Hill with all its legs and wheels. Hour after hour we watched that
unceasing flow of infantry and artillery toward the rear of our army. It
was an unnerving spectacle, yet we never for a moment doubted that, acting
on the intelligence supplied by our succession of couriers, our entire
force was moving rapidly to the point of contact. The battle of Spring
Hill was obviously decreed. Obviously, too, our brigade of observation
would be among the last to have a hand in it. The thought annoyed us, made
us restless and resentful. Our mounted men rode forward and back behind
the line, nervous and distressed; the men in the ranks sought relief in
frequent changes of posture, in shifting their weight from one leg to the
other, in needless inspection of their weapons and in that unfailing
resource of the discontented soldier, audible damning of those in the
saddles of authority. But never for more than a moment at a time did any
one remove his eyes from that fascinating and portentous pageant.

Toward evening we were recalled, to learn that of our five divisions of
infantry, with their batteries, numbering twenty-three thousand men, only
one--Stanley's, four thousand weak--had been sent to Spring Hill to meet
that formidable movement of Hood's three veteran corps! Why Stanley was
not immediately effaced is still a matter of controversy. Hood, who was
early on the ground, declared that he gave the needful orders and tried
vainly to enforce them; Cheatham, in command of his leading corps, that he
did not. Doubtless the dispute is still being carried on between these
chieftains from their beds of asphodel and moly in Elysium. So much is
certain: Stanley drove away Forrest and successfully held the junction of
the roads against Cleburne's division, the only infantry that attacked

That night the entire Confederate army lay within a half mile of our road,
while we all sneaked by, infantry, artillery, and trains. The enemy's
camp-fires shone redly--miles of them--seemingly only a stone's throw from
our hurrying column. His men were plainly visible about them, cooking
their suppers--a sight so incredible that many of our own, thinking them
friends, strayed over to them and did not return. At intervals of a few
hundred yards we passed dim figures on horseback by the roadside,
enjoining silence. Needless precaution; we could not have spoken if we had
tried, for our hearts were in our throats. But fools are God's peculiar
care, arid one of his protective methods is the stupidity of other fools.
By daybreak our last man and last wagon had passed the fateful spot
unchallenged, and our first were entering Franklin, ten miles away.
Despite spirited cavalry attacks on trains and rear-guard, all were in
Franklin by noon and such of the men as could be kept awake were throwing
up a slight line of defense, inclosing the town.

Franklin lies--or at that time did lie; I know not what exploration might
now disclose--on the south bank of a small river, the Harpeth by name. For
two miles southward was a nearly flat, open plain, extending to a range of
low hills through which passed the turnpike by which we had come. From
some bluffs on the precipitous north bank of the river was a commanding
overlook of all this open ground, which, although more than a mile away,
seemed almost at one's feet. On this elevated ground the wagon-train had
been parked and General Schofield had stationed himself--the former for
security, the latter for outlook. Both were guarded by General Wood's
infantry division, of which my brigade was a part. "We are in beautiful
luck," said a member of the division staff. With some prevision of what
was to come and a lively recollection of the nervous strain of helpless
observation, I did not think it luck. In the activity of battle one does
not feel one's hair going gray with vicissitudes of emotion.

For some reason to the writer unknown General Schofield had brought along
with him General D.S. Stanley, who commanded two of his divisions--ours
and another, which was not "in luck." In the ensuing battle, when this
excellent officer could stand the strain no longer, he bolted across the
bridge like a shot and found relief in the hell below, where he was
promptly tumbled out of the saddle by a bullet.

Our line, with its reserve brigades, was about a mile and a half long,
both flanks on the river, above and below the town--a mere bridge-head. It
did not look a very formidable obstacle to the march of an army of more
than forty thousand men. In a more tranquil temper than his failure at
Spring Hill had put him into Hood would probably have passed around our
left and turned us out with ease--which would justly have entitled him to
the Humane Society's great gold medal. Apparently that was not his day for
saving life.

About the middle of the afternoon our field-glasses picked up the
Confederate head-of-column emerging from the range of hills previously
mentioned, where it is cut by the Columbia road. But--ominous
circumstance!--it did not come on. It turned to its left, at a right
angle, moving along the base of the hills, parallel to our line. Other
heads-of-column came through other gaps and over the crests farther along,
impudently deploying on the level ground with a spectacular display of
flags and glitter of arms. I do not remember that they were molested, even
by the guns of General Wagner, who had been foolishly posted with two
small brigades across the turnpike, a half-mile in our front, where he was
needless for apprisal and powerless for resistance. My recollection is
that our fellows down there in their shallow trenches noted these
portentous dispositions without the least manifestation of incivility. As
a matter of fact, many of them were permitted by their compassionate
officers to sleep. And truly it was good weather for that: sleep was in
the very atmosphere. The sun burned crimson in a gray-blue sky through a
delicate Indian-summer haze, as beautiful as a day-dream in paradise. If
one had been given to moralizing one might have found material a-plenty
for homilies in the contrast between that peaceful autumn afternoon and
the bloody business that it had in hand. If any good chaplain failed to
"improve the occasion" let us hope that he lived to lament in
sack-cloth-of-gold and ashes-of-roses his intellectual unthrift.

The putting of that army into battle shape--its change from columns into
lines--could not have occupied more than an hour or two, yet it seemed an
eternity. Its leisurely evolutions were irritating, but at last it moved
forward with atoning rapidity and the fight was on. First, the storm
struck Wagner's isolated brigades, which, vanishing in fire and smoke,
instantly reappeared as a confused mass of fugitives inextricably
intermingled with their pursuers. They had not stayed the advance a
moment, and as might have been foreseen were now a peril to the main line,
which could protect itself only by the slaughter of its friends. To the
right and left, however, our guns got into play, and simultaneously a
furious infantry fire broke out along the entire front, the paralyzed
center excepted. But nothing could stay those gallant rebels from a
hand-to-hand encounter with bayonet and butt, and it was accorded to them
with hearty good-will.

Meantime Wagner's conquerors were pouring across the breastwork like water
over a dam. The guns that had spared the fugitives had now no time to
fire; their infantry supports gave way and for a space of more than two
hundred yards in the very center of our line the assailants, mad with
exultation, had everything their own way. From the right and the left
their gray masses converged into the gap, pushed through, and then,
spreading, turned our men out of the works so hardly held against the
attack in their front. From our viewpoint on the bluff we could mark the
constant widening of the gap, the steady encroachment of that blazing and
smoking mass against its disordered opposition.

"It is all up with us," said Captain Dawson, of Wood's staff; "I am going
to have a quiet smoke."

I do not doubt that he supposed himself to have borne the heat and burden
of the strife. In the midst of his preparations for a smoke he paused and
looked again--a new tumult of musketry had broken loose. Colonel Emerson
Opdycke had rushed his reserve brigade into the _mêlée_ and was bitterly
disputing the Confederate advantage. Other fresh regiments joined in the
countercharge, commanderless groups of retreating men returned to their
work, and there ensued a hand-to-hand contest of incredible fury. Two
long, irregular, mutable, and tumultuous blurs of color were consuming
each other's edge along the line of contact. Such devil's work does not
last long, and we had the great joy to see it ending, not as it began, but
"more nearly to the heart's desire." Slowly the mobile blur moved away
from the town, and presently the gray half of it dissolved into its
elemental units, all in slow recession. The retaken guns in the embrasures
pushed up towering clouds of white smoke; to east and to west along the
reoccupied parapet ran a line of misty red till the spitfire crest was
without a break from flank to flank. Probably there was some Yankee
cheering, as doubtless there had been the "rebel yell," but my memory
recalls neither. There are many battles in a war, and many incidents in a
battle: one does not recollect everything. Possibly I have not a retentive

While this lively work had been doing in the center, there had been no
lack of diligence elsewhere, and now all were as busy as bees. I have read
of many "successive attacks"--"charge after charge"--but I think the only
assaults after the first were those of the second Confederate lines and
possibly some of the reserves; certainly there were no visible abatement
and renewal of effort anywhere except where the men who had been pushed
out of the works backward tried to reenter. And all the time there was

After resetting their line the victors could not clear their front, for
the baffled assailants would not desist. All over the open country in
their rear, clear back to the base of the hills, drifted the wreck of
battle, the wounded that were able to walk; and through the receding
throng pushed forward, here and there, horsemen with orders and footmen
whom we knew to be bearing ammunition. There were no wagons, no caissons:
the enemy was not using, and could not use, his artillery. Along the line
of fire we could see, dimly in the smoke, mounted officers, singly and in
small groups, attempting to force their horses across the slight parapet,
but all went down. Of this devoted band was the gallant General Adams,
whose body was found upon the slope, and whose animal's forefeet were
actually inside the crest. General Cleburne lay a few paces farther out,
and five or six other general officers sprawled elsewhere. It was a great
day for Confederates in the line of promotion.

For many minutes at a time broad spaces of battle were veiled in smoke. Of
what might be occurring there conjecture gave a terrifying report. In a
visible peril observation is a kind of defense; against the unseen we lift
a trembling hand. Always from these regions of obscurity we expected the
worst, but always the lifted cloud revealed an unaltered situation.

The assailants began to give way. There was no general retreat; at many
points the fight continued, with lessening ferocity and lengthening range,
well into the night. It became an affair of twinkling musketry and broad
flares of artillery; then it sank to silence in the dark.

Under orders to continue his retreat, Schofield could now do so
unmolested: Hood had suffered so terrible a loss in life and _morale_ that
he was in no condition for effective pursuit. As at Spring Hill, daybreak
found us on the road with all our impedimenta except some of our wounded,
and that night we encamped under the protecting guns of Thomas, at
Nashville. Our gallant enemy audaciously followed, and fortified himself
within rifle-reach, where he remained for two weeks without firing a gun
and was then destroyed.


At the break-up of the great Rebellion I found myself at Selma, Alabama,
still in the service of the United States, and although my duties were now
purely civil my treatment was not uniformly so, and I am not surprised
that it was not. I was a minor official in the Treasury Department,
engaged in performance of duties exceedingly disagreeable not only to the
people of the vicinity, but to myself as well. They consisted in the
collection and custody of "captured and abandoned property." The Treasury
had covered pretty nearly the entire area of "the States lately in
rebellion" with a hierarchy of officials, consisting, as nearly as memory
serves, of one supervising agent and a multitude of special agents. Each
special agent held dominion over a collection district and was allowed an
"agency aide" to assist him in his purposeful activity, besides such
clerks, laborers and so forth as he could persuade himself to need. My
humble position was that of agency aide. When the special agent was
present for duty I was his chief executive officer; in his absence I
represented him (with greater or less fidelity to the original and to my
conscience) and was invested with his powers. In the Selma agency the
property that we were expected to seize and defend as best we might was
mostly plantations (whose owners had disappeared; some were dead, others
in hiding) and cotton. The country was full of cotton which had been sold
to the Confederate Government, but not removed from the plantations to
take its chance of export through the blockade. It had been decided that
it now belonged to the United States. It was worth about five hundred
dollars a bale--say one dollar a pound. The world agreed that that was a
pretty good price for cotton.

Naturally the original owners, having received nothing for their product
but Confederate money which the result of the war had made worthless,
manifested an unamiable reluctance to give it up, for if they could market
it for themselves it would more than recoup them for all their losses in
the war. They had therefore exercised a considerable ingenuity in effacing
all record of its transfer to the Confederate Government, obliterating the
marks on the bales, and hiding these away in swamps and other
inconspicuous places, fortifying their claims to private ownership with
appalling affidavits and "covering their tracks" in an infinite variety of
ways generally.

In effecting their purpose they encountered many difficulties. Cotton in
bales is not very portable property; it requires for movement and
concealment a good deal of coöperation by persons having no interest in
keeping the secret and easily accessible to the blandishments of those
interested in tracing it. The negroes, by whom the work was necessarily
done, were zealous to pay for emancipation by fidelity to the new
_régime_, and many poor devils among them forfeited their lives by
services performed with more loyalty than discretion. Railways--even those
having a more than nominal equipment of rails and rolling stock--were
unavailable for secret conveyance of the cotton. Navigating the Alabama
and Tombigbee rivers were a few small steamboats, the half-dozen pilots
familiar with these streams exacting one hundred dollars a day for their
services; but our agents, backed by military authority, were at all the
principal shipping points and no boat could leave without their consent.
The port of Mobile was in our hands and the lower waters were patrolled by
gunboats. Cotton might, indeed, be dumped down a "slide" by night at some
private landing and fall upon the deck of a steamer idling innocently
below. It might even arrive at Mobile, but secretly to transfer it to a
deep-water vessel and get it out of the country--that was a dream.

On the movement of private cotton we put no restrictions; and such were
the freight rates that it was possible to purchase a steamboat at Mobile,
go up the river in ballast, bring down a cargo of cotton and make a
handsome profit, after deducting the cost of the boat and all expenses of
the venture, including the wage of the pilot. With no great knowledge of
"business" I venture to think that in Alabama in the latter part of the
year of grace 1865 commercial conditions were hardly normal.

Nor were social conditions what I trust they have now become. There was no
law in the country except of the unsatisfactory sort known as "martial,"
and that was effective only within areas covered by the guns of isolated
forts and the physical activities of their small garrisons. True, there
were the immemorial laws of self-preservation and retaliation, both of
which were liberally interpreted. The latter was faithfully administered,
mostly against straggling Federal soldiers and too zealous government
officials. When my chief had been ordered to Selma he had arrived just in
time to act as sole mourner at the funeral of his predecessor--who had had
the bad luck to interpret his instructions in a sense that was
disagreeable to a gentleman whose interests were affected by the
interpretation. Early one pleasant morning shortly afterward two United
States marshals were observed by the roadside in a suburb of the town.
They looked comfortable enough there in the sunshine, but each

      had that across his throat
  Which you had hardly cared to see.

When dispatched on business of a delicate nature men in the service of the
agency had a significant trick of disappearing--they were of "the
unreturning brave." Really the mortality among the unacclimated in the
Selma district at that time was excessive. When my chief and I parted at
dinner time (our palates were not in harmony) we commonly shook hands and
tried to say something memorable that was worthy to serve as "last words."
We had been in the army together and had many a time gone into battle
without having taken that precaution in the interest of history.

Of course the better class of the people were not accountable for this
state of affairs, and I do not remember that I greatly blamed the others.
The country was full of the "elements of combustion." The people were
impoverished and smarting with a sense of defeat. Organized resistance was
no longer possible, but many men trained to the use of arms did not
consider themselves included in the surrender and conscientiously believed
it both right and expedient to prolong the struggle by private enterprise.
Many, no doubt, made the easy and natural transition from soldiering to
assassination by insensible degrees, unconscious of the moral difference,
such as it is. Selma was little better than a ruin; in the concluding
period of the war General Wilson's cavalry had raided it and nearly
destroyed it, and the work begun by the battery had been completed by the
torch. The conflagration was generally attributed to the negroes, who
certainly augmented it, for a number of those suspected of the crime were
flung into the flames by the maddened populace. None the less were the
Yankee invaders held responsible.

Every Northern man represented some form or phase of an authority which
these luckless people horribly hated, and to which they submitted only
because, and in so far as, they had to. Fancy such a community, utterly
without the restraints of law and with no means of ascertaining public
opinion--for newspapers were not--denied even the moral advantage of the
pulpit! Considering what human nature has the misfortune to be, it is
wonderful that there was so little of violence and crime.

As the carcass invites the vulture, this prostrate land drew adventurers
from all points of the compass. Many, I am sorry to say, were in the
service of the United States Government. Truth to tell, the special agents
of the Treasury were themselves, as a body, not altogether spotless. I
could name some of them, and some of their assistants, who made large
fortunes by their opportunities. The special agents were allowed
one-fourth of the value of the confiscated cotton for expenses of
collection--none too much, considering the arduous and perilous character
of the service; but the plan opened up such possibilities of fraud as have
seldom been accorded by any system of conducting the public business, and
never without disastrous results to official morality. Against bribery no
provision could have provided an adequate safeguard; the magnitude of the
interests involved was too great, the administration of the trust too
loose and irresponsible. The system as it was, hastily devised in the
storm and stress of a closing war, broke down in the end, and it is
doubtful if the Government might not more profitably have let the
"captured and abandoned property" alone.

As an instance of the temptations to which we were exposed, and of our
tactical dispositions in resistance, I venture to relate a single
experience of my own. During an absence of my chief I got upon the trail
of a lot of cotton--seven hundred bales, as nearly as I now
recollect--which had been hidden with so exceptional ingenuity that I was
unable to trace it. One day there came to my office two well-dressed and
mannerly fellows who suffered me to infer that they knew all about this
cotton and controlled it. When our conference on the subject ended it was
past dinner time and they civilly invited me to dine with them, which, in
hope of eliciting information over the wine, I did. I knew well enough
that they indulged a similar selfish hope, so I had no scruples about
using their hospitality to their disadvantage if I could. The subject,
however, was not mentioned at table, and we were all singularly abstemious
in the matter of champagne--so much so that as we rose from a rather long
session at the board we disclosed our sense of the ludicrousness of the
situation by laughing outright. Nevertheless, neither party would accept
defeat, and for the next few weeks the war of hospitality was fast and
furious. We dined together nearly every day, sometimes at my expense,
sometimes at theirs. We drove, rode, walked, played at billiards and made
many a night of it; but youth and temperance (in drink) pulled me through
without serious inroads on my health. We had early come to an
understanding and a deadlock. Failing to get the slenderest clew to the
location of the cotton I offered them one-fourth if they would surrender
it or disclose its hiding-place; they offered me one-fourth if I would
sign a permit for its shipment as private property.

All things have an end, and this amusing contest finally closed. Over the
remains of a farewell dinner, unusually luxurious, as befitted the
occasion, we parted with expressions of mutual esteem--not, I hope,
altogether insincere, and the ultimate fate of the cotton is to me
unknown. Up to the date of my departure from the agency not a bale of it
had either come into possession of the Government or found an outlet. I am
sometimes disloyal enough to indulge myself in the hope that they baffled
my successors as skilfully as they did me. One cannot help feeling a
certain tenderness for men who know and value a good dinner.

Another corrupt proposal that I had the good fortune to be afraid to
entertain came, as it were, from within. There was a dare-devil fellow
whom, as I know him to be dead, I feel justified in naming Jack Harris. He
was engaged in all manner of speculative ventures on his own account, but
the special agent had so frequently employed him in "enterprises of great
pith and moment" that he was in a certain sense and to a certain extent
one of us. He seemed to me at the time unique, but shortly afterward I had
learned to classify him as a type of the Californian adventurer with whose
peculiarities of manner, speech and disposition most of us are to-day
familiar enough. He never spoke of his past, having doubtless good reasons
for reticence, but any one learned in Western slang--a knowledge then
denied me--would have catalogued him with infallible accuracy. He was a
rather large, strong fellow, swarthy, black-bearded, black-eyed,
black-hearted and entertaining, no end; ignorant with an ignorance whose
frankness redeemed it from offensiveness, vulgar with a vulgarity that
expressed itself in such metaphors and similes as would have made its
peace with the most implacable refinement. He drank hard, gambled high,
swore like a parrot, scoffed at everything, was openly and proudly a
rascal, did not know the meaning of fear, borrowed money abundantly, and
squandered it with royal disregard. Desiring one day to go to Mobile, but
reluctant to leave Montgomery and its pleasures--unwilling to quit
certainty for hope--he persuaded the captain of a loaded steamboat to wait
four days for him at an expense of $400 a day; and lest time should hang
too heavy on the obliging skipper's hands, Jack permitted him to share the
orgies gratis. But that is not my story.

One day Jack came to me with a rather more sinful proposal than he had
heretofore done me the honor to submit. He knew of about a thousand bales
of cotton, some of it private property, some of it confiscable, stored at
various points on the banks of the Alabama. He had a steamboat in
readiness, "with a gallant, gallant crew," and he proposed to drop quietly
down to the various landings by night, seize the cotton, load it on his
boat and make off down the river. What he wanted from me, and was willing
to pay for, was only my official signature to some blank shipping permits;
or if I would accompany the expedition and share its fortunes no papers
would be necessary. In declining this truly generous offer I felt that I
owed it to Jack to give him a reason that he was capable of understanding,
so I explained to him the arrangements at Mobile, which would prevent him
from transferring his cargo to a ship and getting the necessary papers
permitting her to sail. He was astonished and, I think, pained by my
simplicity. Did I think him a fool? He did not purpose--not he--to
tranship at all: the perfected plan was to dispense with all hampering
formality by slipping through Mobile Bay in the black of the night and
navigating his laden river craft across the Gulf to Havana! The rascal was
in dead earnest, and that natural timidity of disposition which compelled
me to withhold my coöperation greatly lowered me in his esteem, I fear.

It was in Cuba, by the way, that Jack came to grief some years later. He
was one of the crew of the filibustering vessel _Virginius_, and was
captured and shot along with the others. Something in his demeanor as he
knelt in the line to receive the fatal fusillade prompted a priest to
inquire his religion. "I am an atheist, by God!" said Jack, and with this
quiet profession of faith that gentle spirit winged its way to other

Having expounded with some particularity the precarious tenure by which I
held my office and my life in those "thrilling regions" where my duties
lay, I ought to explain by what unhappy chance I am still able to afflict
the reader. There lived in Selma a certain once wealthy and still
influential citizen, whose two sons, of about my own age, had served as
officers in the Confederate Army. I will designate them simply as Charles
and Frank. They were types of a class now, I fear, almost extinct. Born
and bred in luxury and knowing nothing of the seamy side of life--except,
indeed, what they had learned in the war--well educated, brave, generous,
sensitive to points of honor, and of engaging manners, these brothers were
by all respected, by many loved and by some feared. For they had quick
fingers upon the pistol-trigger withal, and would rather fight a duel than
eat--nay, drink. Nor were they over-particular about the combat taking the
form of a duel--almost any form was good enough. I made their acquaintance
by chance and cultivated it for the pleasure it gave me. It was long
afterward that I gave a thought to its advantages; but from the time that
I became generally known as their friend my safety was assured through all
that region; an army with banners could not have given me the same
immunity from danger, obstruction or even insult in the performance of my
disagreeable duties. What glorious fellows they were, to be sure--these my
late antagonists of the dark days when, God forgive us, we were trying to
cut one another's throat. To this day I feel a sense of regret when I
think of my instrumentality, however small, in depriving the world of many
such men in the criminal insanity that we call battle.

Life in Selma became worth living even as the chance of living it
augmented. With my new friends and a friend of theirs, whose name--the
more shame to me--I cannot now recall, but should not write here if I
could, I passed most of my leisure hours. At the houses of themselves and
their friends I did most of my dining; and, heaven be praised! there was
no necessity for moderation in wine. In their society I committed my sins,
and together beneath that noble orb unknown to colder skies, the Southern
moon, we atoned for them by acts of devotion performed with song and lute
beneath the shrine window of many a local divinity.

One night we had an adventure. We were out late--so late that it was night
only astronomically. The streets were "deserted and drear," and, of
course, unlighted--the late Confederacy had no gas and no oil.
Nevertheless, we saw that we were followed. A man keeping at a fixed
distance behind turned as we turned, paused as we paused, and pursued as
we moved on. We stopped, went back and remonstrated; asked his intentions
in, I dare say, no gentle words. He gave us no reply, but as we left him
he followed. Again we stopped, and I felt my pistol plucked out of my
pocket. Frank had unceremoniously possessed himself of it and was
advancing on the enemy. I do not remember if I had any wish to interpose a
protest--anyhow there was no time. Frank fired and the man fell. In a
moment all the chamber-windows in the street were thrown open with a head
visible (and audible) in each. We told Frank to go home, which to our
surprise he did; the rest of us, assisted by somebody's private
policeman--who afterward apprised us that we were in arrest--carried the
man to a hotel. It was found that his leg was broken above the knee, and
the next day it was amputated. We paid his surgeon and his hotel bill, and
when he had sufficiently recovered sent him to an address which he gave us
in Mobile; but not a word could anybody get out of him as to who he had
the misfortune to be, or why he had persisted, against the light, in
following a quartet of stray revelers.

On the morning of the shooting, when everything possible had been done for
the comfort of the victim, we three accomplices were released on our own
recognizance by an old gentleman of severe aspect, who had resumed his
function of justice of the peace where he had laid it down during the war.
I did not then know that he had no more legal authority than I had myself,
and I was somewhat disturbed in mind as I reflected on the possibilities
of the situation. The opportunity to get rid of an offensive Federal
official must of course be very tempting, and after all the shooting was a
trifle hasty and not altogether justifiable.

On the day appointed for our preliminary examination, all of us except
Frank were released and put on the witness-stand. We gave a true and
congruent history of the affair. The holdover justice listened to it all
very patiently and then, with commendable brevity and directness of
action, fined Frank five dollars and costs for disorderly conduct. There
was no appeal.

There were queer characters in Alabama in those days, as you shall see.
Once upon a time the special agent and I started down the Tombigbee River
with a steamboat load of government cotton--some six hundred bales. At one
of the military stations we took on a guard of a dozen or fifteen soldiers
under command of a non-commissioned officer. One evening, just before
dusk, as we were rounding a bend where the current set strongly against
the left bank of the stream and the channel lay close to that shore, we
were suddenly saluted with a volley of bullets and buckshot from that
direction. The din of the firing, the rattle and crash of the missiles
splintering the woodwork and the jingle of broken glass made a very rude
arousing from the tranquil indolence of a warm afternoon on the sluggish
Tombigbee. The left bank, which at this point was a trifle higher than the
hurricane deck of a steamer, was now swarming with men who, almost near
enough to jump aboard, looked unreasonably large and active as they sprang
about from cover to cover, pouring in their fire. At the first volley the
pilot had deserted his wheel, as well he might, and the boat, drifting in
to the bank under the boughs of a tree, was helpless. Her jackstaff and
yawl were carried away, her guards broken in, and her deck-load of cotton
was tumbling into the stream a dozen bales at once. The captain was
nowhere to be seen, the engineer had evidently abandoned his post and the
special agent had gone to hunt up the soldiers. I happened to be on the
hurricane deck, armed with a revolver, which I fired as rapidly as I
could, listening all the time for the fire of the soldiers--and listening
in vain. It transpired later that they had not a cartridge among them; and
of all helpless mortals a soldier without a cartridge is the most
imbecile. But all this time the continuous rattle of the enemy's guns and
the petulant pop of my own pocket firearm were punctuated, as it were, by
pretty regularly recurring loud explosions, as of a small cannon. They
came from somewhere forward--I supposed from the opposition, as I knew we
had no artillery on board.

The failure of our military guard made the situation somewhat grave. For
two of us, at least, capture meant hanging out of hand. I had never been
hanged in all my life and was not enamored of the prospect. Fortunately
for us the bandits had selected their point of attack without military
foresight. Immediately below them a bayou, impassable to them, let into
the river. The moment we had drifted below it we were safe from boarding
and capture. The captain was found in hiding and an empty pistol at his
ear persuaded him to resume command of his vessel; the engineer and pilot
were encouraged to go back to their posts and after some remarkably long
minutes, during which we were under an increasingly long-range fire, we
got under way. A few cotton bales piled about the pilot-house made us
tolerably safe from that sort of thing in the future and then we took
account of our damages. Nobody had been killed and only a few were
wounded. This gratifying result was attributable to the fact that, being
unarmed, nearly everybody had dived below at the first fire and taken
cover among the cotton bales. While issuing a multitude of needless
commands from the front of the hurricane-deck I looked below, and there,
stretched out at full length on his stomach, lay a long, ungainly person,
clad in faded butternut, bare-headed, his long, lank hair falling down
each side of his neck, his coat-tails similarly parted, and his enormous
feet spreading their soles to the blue sky. He had an old-fashioned
horse-pistol, some two feet long, which he was in the act of sighting
across his left palm for a parting shot at the now distant assailants. A
more ludicrous figure I never saw; I laughed outright; but when his weapon
went off it was matter for gratitude to be above it instead of before it.
It was the "cannon" whose note I had marked all through the unequal fray.

The fellow was a returned Confederate whom we had taken on at one of the
upper landings as our only passenger; we were dead-heading him to Mobile.
He was undoubtedly in hearty sympathy with the enemy, and I at first
suspected him of collusion, but circumstances not necessary to detail here
rendered this impossible. Moreover, I had distinctly seen one of the
"guerrillas" fall and remain down after my own weapon was empty, and no
man else on board except the passenger had fired a shot or had a shot to
fire. When everything had been made snug again, and we were gliding along
under the stars, without apprehension; when I had counted fifty-odd bullet
holes through the pilot-house (which had not received the attention that
by its prominence and importance it was justly entitled to) and everybody
was variously boasting his prowess, I approached my butternut
comrade-in-arms and thanked him for his kindly aid. "But," said I, "how
the devil does it happen that _you_ fight _that_ crowd?"

"Wal, Cap," he drawled, as he rubbed the powder grime from his antique
artillery, "I allowed it was mouty clever in you-all to take me on, seein'
I hadn't ary cent, so I thought I'd jist kinder work my passage."


In the spring of 1874 I was living in the pretty English town of
Leamington, a place that will be remembered by most Americans who have
visited the grave of Shakespeare at Stratford-on-Avon, or by personal
inspection of the ruins of Kenilworth Castle have verified their knowledge
of English history derived from Scott's incomparable romance. I was at
that time connected with several London newspapers, among them the
_Figaro_, a small weekly publication, semi-humorous, semi-theatrical, with
a remarkable aptitude for managing the political affairs of France in the
interest of the Imperialists. This last peculiarity it owed to the
personal sympathies of its editor and proprietor, Mr. James Mortimer, a
gentleman who for some twenty years before the overthrow of the Empire had
lived in Paris. Mr. Mortimer had been a personal friend of the Emperor and
Empress, and on the flight of the latter to England had rendered her
important service; and after the release of the Emperor from captivity
among the Germans Mr. Mortimer was a frequent visitor to the imperial
exiles at Chiselhurst.

One day at Leamington my London mail brought a letter from Mr. Mortimer,
informing me that he intended to publish a new satirical journal, which he
wished me to write. I was to do all the writing, he the editing; and it
would not be necessary for me to come up to London; I could send
manuscript by mail. The new journal was not to appear at stated periods,
but "occasionally." Would I submit to him a list of suitable titles for
it, from which he could make a selection?

With some surprise at what seemed to me the singularly whimsical and
unbusiness-like features of the enterprise I wrote him earnestly advising
him either to abandon it or materially to modify his plan. I represented
to him that such a journal, so conducted, could not in my judgment
succeed; but he was obdurate and after a good deal of correspondence I
consented to do all the writing if he was willing to do all the losing
money. I submitted a number of names which I thought suitable for the
paper, but all were rejected, and he finally wrote that he had decided to
call the new journal _The Lantern_. This decision elicited from me another
energetic protest. The title was not original, but obviously borrowed from
M. Rochefort's famous journal, _La Lanterne_. True, that publication was
dead, and its audacious editor deported to New Caledonia with his
Communistic following; but the name could hardly be agreeable to Mr.
Mortimer's Imperialist friends, particularly the Empress--the Emperor was
then dead. To my surprise Mr. Mortimer not only adhered to his resolution
but suggested the propriety of my taking M. Rochefort's late lamented
journal as a model for our own. This I flatly declined to do and carried
my point; I was delighted to promise, however, that the new paper should
resemble the old in one particular: it should be irritatingly
disrespectful of existing institutions and exalted personages.

On the 18th of May, 1874, there was published at the corner of St. Bride
Street and Shoe Lane, E.C., London, the first number of "_The
Lantern_--Appearing Occasionally. Illuminated by Faustin. Price,
sixpence." It was a twelve-page paper with four pages of superb
illustrations in six colors. I winced when I contemplated its artistic and
mechanical excellence, for I knew at what a price that quality had been
obtained. A gold mine would be required to maintain that journal, and that
journal could by no means ever be itself a gold mine. A copy lies before
me as I write and noting it critically I cannot help thinking that the
illuminated title-page of this pioneer in the field of chromatic
journalism is the finest thing of the kind that ever came from a press.

Of the literary contents I am less qualified for judgment, inasmuch as I
wrote every line in the paper. It may perhaps be said without immodesty
that the new "candidate for popular favor" was not distinguished by
servile flattery of the British character and meek subservience to the
British Government, as might perhaps be inferred from the following
extract from an article on General Sir Garnet Wolseley, who had just
received the thanks of his Sovereign and a munificent reward from
Parliament for his successful plundering expedition through Ashantee:

"We feel a comfortable sense of satisfaction in the thought that _The
Lantern_ will never fail to shed the light of its loyal approval upon any
unworthy act by which our country shall secure an adequate and permanent
advantage. When the great heart of England is stirred by quick cupidity to
profitable crime, far be it from us to lift our palms in deprecation. In
the wrangle for existence nations, equally with individuals, work by
diverse means to a common end--the spoiling of the weak; and when by
whatever of outrage we have pushed a feeble competitor to the wall, in
Heaven's name let us pin him fast and relieve his pockets of the material
good to which, in bestowing it upon him, the bountiful Lord has invited
our thieving hand. But these Ashantee women were not worth garroting.
Their fal-lals, precious to them, are worthless to us; the entire loot
fetched only £11,000--of which sum the man who brought home the trinkets
took a little more than four halves. We submit that with practiced agents
in every corner of the world and a watchful government at home this great
commercial nation might dispose of its honor to better advantage."

With the candor of repentance it may now be confessed that, however
unscrupulous it may be abroad, a government which tolerates this kind of
criticism cannot rightly be charged with tyranny at home.

By way (as I supposed) of gratitude to M. Rochefort for the use of the
title of his defunct journal it had been suggested by Mr. Mortimer that he
be given a little wholesome admonition here and there in the paper and I
had cheerfully complied. M. Rochefort had escaped from New Caledonia some
months before. A disagreeable cartoon was devised for his discomfort and
he received a number of such delicate attentions as that following, which
in the issue of July 15th greeted him on his arrival in England along with
his distinguished compatriot, M. Pascal Grousset:

"M. Rochefort is a gentleman who has lost his standing. There have been
greater falls than his. Kings before now have become servitors, honest men
bandits, thieves communists. Insignificant in his fortunes as in his
abilities, M. Rochefort, who was never very high, is not now very low--he
has avoided the falsehood of extremes: never quite a count, he is now but
half a convict. Having missed the eminence that would have given him
calumniation, he is also denied the obscurity that would bring
misconstruction. He is not even a _miserable_; he is a person. It is
curious to note how persistently this man has perverted his gifts. With
talents that might have corrupted panegyric, he preferred to refine
detraction; fitted to disgrace the _salon_, he has elected to adorn the
cell; the qualities that would have endeared him to a blackguard he has
wasted upon Pascal Grousset.

"As we write, it is reported that this person is in England. It is further
affirmed that it is his intention to proceed to Belgium or Switzerland to
fight certain journalists who have not had the courtesy to suppress the
truth about him, though he never told it of them. We presume, however,
this rumor is false; M. Rochefort must retain enough of the knowledge he
acquired when he was esteemed a gentleman to be aware that a meeting
between him and a journalist is now impossible. This is the more to be
regretted, because M. Paul de Cassagnac would have much pleasure in taking
M. Rochefort's life and we in lamenting his fall.

"M. Rochefort, we believe, is already suffering from an unhealed wound. It
is his mouth."

There was a good deal of such "scurril jesting" in the paper, especially
in a department called "Prattle." There were verses on all manner of
subjects--mostly the nobility and their works and ways, from the viewpoint
of disapproval--and epigrams, generally ill-humorous, like the following,
headed "_Novum Organum_":

  "In Bacon see the culminating prime
   Of British intellect and British crime.
   He died, and Nature, settling his affairs,
   Parted his powers among us, his heirs:
   To each a pinch of common-sense, for seed,
   And, to develop it, a pinch of greed.
   Each frugal heir, to make the gift suffice,
   Buries the talent to manure the vice."

When the first issue of _The Lantern_ appeared I wrote to Mr. Mortimer,
again urging him to modify his plans and alter the character of the
journal. He replied that it suited him as it was and he would let me know
when to prepare "copy" for the second number. That eventually appeared on
July 15th. I never was instructed to prepare any more copy, and there has
been, I believe, no further issue of that interesting sheet as yet.

Taking a retrospective view of this singular venture in journalism, one
day, the explanation of the whole matter came to my understanding in the
light of a revelation, and was confirmed later by Mr. Mortimer.

In the days when Napoleon III was at the zenith of his glory and power
there was a thorn in his side. It was the pen of M. Henri Rochefort, le
Comte de Luçay, journalist and communard. Despite fines, "suppressions,"
and imprisonments, this gifted writer and unscrupulous blackguard had, as
every one knows, made incessant war upon the Empire and all its
_personnel_. The bitter and unfair attacks of his paper, _La Lanterne_,
made life at the Tuilleries exceedingly uncomfortable. His rancor against
the Empress was something horrible, and went to the length of denying the
legitimacy of the Prince Imperial. His existence was a menace and a terror
to the illustrious lady, even when she was in exile at Chiselhurst and he
in confinement on the distant island of New Caledonia. When the news of
his escape from that penal colony arrived at Chiselhurst the widowed
Empress was in despair; and when, on his way to England, he announced his
intention of reviving _La Lanterne_ in London (of course he dared not
cross the borders of France) she was utterly prostrated by the fear of his
pitiless animosity. But what could she do? Not prevent the revival of his
dreadful newspaper, certainly, but--well, she could send for Mr. Mortimer.
That ingenious gentleman was not long at a loss for an expedient that
would accomplish what was possible. He shut Rochefort out of London by
forestalling him. At the very time when Mortimer was asking me to suggest
a suitable name for the new satirical journal he had already registered at
Stationers' Hall--that is to say, copyrighted--the title of _The Lantern_,
a precaution which M. Rochefort's French friends had neglected to take,
although they had expended thousands of pounds in a plant for their
venture. Mr. Mortimer cruelly permitted them to go on with their costly
preparations, and the first intimation they had that the field was
occupied came from the newsdealers selling _The Lantern_. After some
futile attempts at relief and redress, M. Rochefort took himself off and
set up his paper in Belgium.

The expenses of _The Lantern_--including a generous _douceur_ to
myself--were all defrayed by the Empress. She was the sole owner of it
and, I was gratified to learn, took so lively an interest in her venture
that a special French edition was printed for her private reading. I was
told that she especially enjoyed the articles on M. le Comte de Luçay,
though I dare say some of the delicate subtleties of their literary style
were lost in translation.

Being in London later in the year, I received through Mortimer an
invitation to visit the poor lady, _en famille_, at Chiselhurst; but as
the iron rules of imperial etiquette, even in exile, required that the
hospitable request be made in the form of a "command," my republican
independence took alarm and I had the incivility to disobey; and I still
think it a sufficient distinction to be probably the only American
journalist who was ever employed by an Empress in so congenial a pursuit
as the pursuit of another journalist.


That noted pioneer, General John Bidwell, of California, once made a
longish step up the western slope of our American Parnassus by an account
of his journey "across the plains" seven years before the lamented Mr.
Marshall had found the least and worst of all possible reasons for making
the "trek." General Bidwell had not the distinction to be a great writer,
but in order to command admiration and respect in that province of the
Republic of Letters which lies in the Sacramento Valley above the mouth of
the Yuba the gift of writing greatly is a needless endowment. Nevertheless
I read his narrative with an interest which on analysis turns out to be a
by-product of personal experience: among my youthful indiscretions was a
journey over much of the same ground, which I took in much the same
way--as did many thousands before and after.

It was a far cry from 1841 to 1866, yet the country between the Missouri
River and the Sierra Nevada had not greatly improved: civilization had
halted at the river, awaiting transportation. A railroad had set out from
Omaha westward, and another at Sacramento was solemnly considering the
impossible suggestion of going eastward to meet it. There were lunatics in
those days, as there are in these. I left the one road a few miles out of
the Nebraskan village and met the other at Dutch Flat, in California.

Waste no compassion on the loneliness of my journey: a thriving colony of
Mormons had planted itself in the valley of Salt Lake and there were
"forts" at a few points along the way, where ambitious young army officers
passed the best years of their lives guarding live stock and teaching the
mysteries of Hardee's tactics to that alien patriot, the American regular.
There was a dusty wagon road, bordered with bones--not always those of
animals--with an occasional mound, sometimes dignified with a warped and
rotting head-board bearing an illegible inscription. (One inscription not
entirely illegible is said to have concluded with this touching tribute to
the worth of the departed: "He was a good egg." Another was: "He done his
damnedest") In other particulars the "Great American Desert" of our
fathers was very like what it was when General Bidwell's party traversed
it with that hereditary instinct, that delicacy of spiritual nose which
served the Western man of that day in place of a map and guide-book.
Westward the course of empire had taken its way, but excepting these poor
vestiges it had for some fifteen hundred miles left no trace of its march.
The Indian of the plains had as yet seen little to unsettle his assurance
of everlasting dominion. Of the slender lines of metal creeping slowly
toward him from East and West he knew little; and had he known more, how
could he have foreseen their momentous effect upon his "ancient solitary

I remember very well, as so many must, some of the marked features of the
route that General Bidwell mentions. One of the most imposing of these is
Court House Rock, near the North Platte. Surely no object of such dignity
ever had a more belittling name--given it in good faith no doubt by some
untraveled wight whose county court-house was the most "reverend pile" of
which he had any conception. It should have been called the Titan's
Castle. What a gracious memory I have of the pomp and splendor of its
aspect, with the crimson glories of the setting sun fringing its outlines,
illuminating its western walls like the glow of Mammon's fires for the
witches' revel in the Hartz, and flung like banners from its crest!

I suppose Court House Rock is familiar enough and commonplace enough to
the dwellers in that land (riparian tribes once infesting the low lands of
Ohio and Indiana and the flats of Iowa), but to me, tipsy with youth,
full-fed on Mayne Reid's romances, and now first entering the enchanted
region that he so charmingly lied about, it was a revelation and a dream.
I wish that anything in the heavens, on the earth, or in the waters under
the earth would give me now such an emotion as I experienced in the shadow
of that "great rock in a weary land."

I was not a pilgrim, but an engineer _attaché_ to an expedition through
Dakota and Montana, to inspect some new military posts. The expedition
consisted, where the Indians preserved the peace, of the late General W.B.
Hazen, myself, a cook and a teamster; elsewhere we had an escort of
cavalry. My duty, as I was given to understand it, was to amuse the
general and other large game, make myself as comfortable as possible
without too much discomfort to others, and when in an unknown country
survey and map our route for the benefit of those who might come after.
The posts which the general was to inspect had recently been established
along a military road, one end of which was at the North Platte and the
other--there was no other end; up about Fort C.F. Smith at the foot of the
Big-Horn Mountains the road became a buffalo trail and was lost in the
weeds. But it was a useful road, for by leaving it before going too far
one could reach a place near the headwaters of the Yellowstone, where the
National Park is now.

By a master stroke of military humor we were ordered to return (to
Washington) via Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Panama. I obeyed until I
got as far as San Francisco, where, finding myself appointed to a second
lieutenancy in the Regular Army, ingratitude, more strong than traitors'
arms, quite vanquished me: I resigned, parted from Hazen more in sorrow
than in anger and remained in California.

I have thought since that this may have been a youthful error: the
Government probably meant no harm, and if I had served long enough I might
have become a captain. In time, if I lived, I should naturally have become
the senior captain of the Army; and then if there were another war and any
of the field officers did me the favor to paunch a bullet I should become
the junior major, certain of another step upward as soon as a number of my
superiors equal to the whole number of majors should be killed, resign or
die of old age--enchanting prospect! But I am getting a long way off the

It was near Fort C.F. Smith that we found our first buffaloes, and
abundant they were. We had to guard our camp at night with fire and sword
to keep them from biting us as they grazed. Actually one of them
half-scalped a teamster as he lay dreaming of home with his long fair hair
commingled with the toothsome grass. His utterances as the well-meaning
beast lifted him from the ground and tried to shake the earth from his
roots were neither wise nor sweet, but they made a profound impression on
the herd, which, arching its multitude of tails, absented itself to
pastures new like an army with banners.

At Fort C.F. Smith we parted with our _impedimenta_, and with an escort of
about two dozen cavalrymen and a few pack animals struck out on horseback
through an unexplored country northwest for old Fort Benton, on the upper
Missouri. The journey was not without its perils. Our only guide was my
compass; we knew nothing of the natural obstacles that we must encounter;
the Indians were on the warpath, and our course led us through the very
heart of their country. Luckily for us they were gathering their clans
into one great army for a descent upon the posts that we had left behind;
a little later some three thousand of them moved upon Fort Phil Kearney,
lured a force of ninety men and officers outside and slaughtered them to
the last man. This was one of the posts that we had inspected, and the
officers killed had hospitably entertained us.

In that lively and interesting book, "Indian Fights and Fighters," Dr.
Cyrus Townsend Brady says of this "outpost of civilization":

"The most careful watchfulness was necessary at all hours of the day and
night. The wood trains to fetch logs to the sawmills were heavily guarded.
There was fighting all the time. Casualties among the men were by no means
rare. At first it was difficult to keep men within the limits of the camp;
but stragglers who failed to return, and some who had been cut off,
scalped and left for dead, but who had crawled back to die, convinced
every one of the wisdom of the commanding officer's repeated orders and
cautions. To chronicle the constant succession of petty skirmishes would
be wearisome; yet they often resulted in torture and loss of life on the
part of the soldiers, although the Indians in most instances suffered the
more severely."

In a footnote the author relates this characteristic instance of the
Government's inability to understand: "Just when the alarms were most
frequent a messenger came to the headquarters, announcing that a train _en
route_ from Fort Laramie, with special messengers from that post, was
corraled by Indians, and demanded immediate help. An entire company of
infantry in wagons, with a mountain howitzer and several rounds of
grapeshot, was hastened to their relief. It proved to be a train with mail
from the Laramie Commission, announcing the confirmation of a
'satisfactory treaty of peace with all the Indians of the Northwest,' and
assuring the district commander of the fact. The messenger was brought in
in safety, and _peace_ lasted until his message was delivered. So much was
gained--that the messenger did not lose his scalp."

Through this interesting environment our expeditionary force of four men
had moved to the relief of the beleaguered post, but finding it impossible
to "raise the siege" had--with a score of troopers--pushed on to Fort C.F.
Smith, and thence into the Unknown.

The first part of this new journey was well enough; there were game and
water. Where we swam the Yellowstone we had an abundance of both, for the
entire river valley, two or three miles wide, was dotted with elk. There
were hundreds. As we advanced they became scarce; buffalo became scarce;
bear, deer, rabbits, sage-hens, even prairie dogs gave out, and we were
near starving. Water gave out too, and starvation was a welcome state: our
hunger was so much less disagreeable than our thirst that it was a real

However, we got to Benton, Heaven knows how and why, but we were a
sorry-looking lot, though our scalps were intact. If in all that region
there is a mountain that I have not climbed, a river that I have not swum,
an alkali pool that I have not thrust my muzzle into, or an Indian that I
have not shuddered to think about, I am ready to go back in a Pullman
sleeper and do my duty.

From Fort Benton we came down through Helena and Virginia City,
Montana--then new mining camps--to Salt Lake, thence westward to
California. Our last bivouac was on the old camp of the Donner party,
where, in the flickering lights and dancing shadows made by our camp-fire,
I first heard the story of that awful winter, and in the fragrance of the
meat upon the coals fancied I could detect something significantly
uncanny. The meat which the Donner party had cooked at that spot was not
quite like ours. Pardon: I mean it was not like that which we cooked.


Since the overland railways have long been carrying many thousands of
persons across the elevated plateaus of the continent the mirage in many
of its customary aspects has become pretty well known to great numbers of
persons all over the Union, and the tales of early observers who came "der
blains agross" are received with a less frigid inhospitality than they
formerly were by incredulous pioneers who had come "der Horn aroundt," as
the illustrious Hans Breitmann phrases it; but in its rarer and more
marvelous manifestations, the mirage is still a rock upon which many a
reputation for veracity is wrecked remediless. With an ambition intrepidly
to brave this disaster, and possibly share it with the hundreds of devoted
souls whose disregard of the injunction never to tell an incredible truth
has branded them as hardy and impenitent liars, I purpose to note here a
few of the more remarkable illusions by which my own sense of sight has
been befooled by the freaks of the enchanter.

It is apart from my purpose to explain the mirage scientifically, and not
altogether in my power. Every schoolboy can do so, I suppose, to the
satisfaction of his teacher if the teacher has not himself seen the
phenomenon, or has seen it only in the broken, feeble and evanescent
phases familiar to the overland passenger; but for my part I am unable to
understand how the simple causes affirmed in the text-books sufficiently
account for the infinite variety and complexity of some of the effects
said to be produced by them. But of this the reader shall judge for

One summer morning in the upper North Platte country I rose from my
blankets, performed the pious acts of sun-worship by yawning toward the
east, kicked together the parted embers of my camp-fire, and bethought me
of water for my ablutions. We had gone into bivouac late in the night on
the open plain, and without any clear notion of where we were. There were
a half-dozen of us, our chief on a tour of inspection of the new military
posts in Wyoming. I accompanied the expedition as surveyor. Having an
aspiration for water I naturally looked about to see what might be the
prospect of obtaining it, and to my surprise and delight saw a long line
of willows, apparently some three hundred yards away. Willows implied
water, and snatching up a camp-kettle I started forward without taking the
trouble to put on my coat and hat. For the first mile or two I preserved a
certain cheerful hopefulness; but when the sun had risen farther toward
the meridian and began to affect my bare head most uncomfortably, and the
picketed horses at the camp were hull down on the horizon in the rear, and
the willows in front increased their pace out of all proportion to mine, I
began to grow discouraged and sat down on a stone to wish myself back.
Perceiving that the willows also had halted for breath I determined to
make a dash at them, leaving the camp-kettle behind to make its way back
to camp as best it could. I was now traveling "flying light," and had no
doubt of my ability to overtake the enemy, which had, however, disappeared
over the crest of a low sandhill. Ascending this I was treated to a
surprise. Right ahead of me lay a barren waste of sand extending to the
right and left as far as I could see. Its width in the direction that I
was going I judged to be about twenty miles. On its farther border the
cactus plain began again, sloping gradually upward to the horizon, along
which was a fringe of cedar trees--the willows of my vision! In that
country a cedar will not grow within thirty miles of water if it knows it.

On my return journey I coldly ignored the appeals of the camp-kettle, and
when I met the rescuing party which had been for some hours trailing me
made no allusion to the real purpose of my excursion. When the chief asked
if I purposed to enter a plea of temporary insanity I replied that I would
reserve my defense for the present; and in fact I never did disclose it
until now.

I had afterward the satisfaction of seeing the chief, an experienced
plainsman, consume a full hour, rifle in hand, working round to the
leeward of a dead coyote in the sure and certain hope of bagging a
sleeping buffalo. Mirage or no mirage, you must not too implicitly trust
your eyes in the fantastic atmosphere of the high plains.

I remember that one forenoon I looked forward to the base of the Big Horn
Mountains and selected a most engaging nook for the night's camp. My good
opinion of it was confirmed when we reached it three days later. The
deception in this instance was due to nothing but the marvelous lucidity
of the atmosphere and the absence of objects of known dimensions, and
these sources of error are sometimes sufficient of themselves to produce
the most incredible illusions. When they are in alliance with the mirage
the combination's pranks are bewildering.

One of the most grotesque and least comfortable of my experiences with the
magicians of the air occurred near the forks of the Platte. There had been
a tremendous thunder-storm, lasting all night. In the morning my party set
forward over the soaken prairie under a cloudless sky intensely blue. I
was riding in advance, absorbed in thought, when I was suddenly roused to
a sense of material things by exclamations of astonishment and
apprehension from the men behind. Looking forward, I beheld a truly
terrifying spectacle. Immediately in front, at a distance, apparently, of
not more than a quarter-mile, was a long line of the most formidable
looking monsters that the imagination ever conceived. They were taller
than trees. In them the elements of nature seemed so fantastically and
discordantly confused and blended, compounded, too, with architectural and
mechanical details, that they partook of the triple character of animals,
houses and machines. Legs they had, that an army of elephants could have
marched among; bodies that ships might have sailed beneath; heads about
which eagles might have delighted to soar, and ears--they were singularly
well gifted with ears. But wheels also they were endowed with, and vast
sides of blank wall; the wheels as large as the ring of a circus, the
walls white and high as cliffs of chalk along an English coast. Among
them, on them, beneath, in and a part of them, were figures and fragments
of figures of gigantic men. All were inextricably interblended and
superposed--a man's head and shoulders blazoned on the side of an animal;
a wheel with legs for spokes rolling along the creature's back; a vast
section of wall, having no contact with the earth, but (with a tail
hanging from its rear, like a note of admiration) moving along the line,
obscuring here an anatomical horror and disclosing there a mechanical
nightmare. In short, this appalling procession, which was crossing our
road with astonishing rapidity, seemed made up of unassigned and
unassorted units, out of which some imaginative god might be about to
create a world of giants, ready supplied with some of the appliances of a
high civilization. Yet the whole apparition had so shadowy and spectral a
look that the terror it inspired was itself vague and indefinite, like the
terror of a dream. It affected our horses as well as ourselves; they
extended their necks and threw forward their ears. For some moments we sat
in our saddles surveying the hideous and extravagant spectacle without a
word, and our tongues were loosened only when it began rapidly to diminish
and recede, and at last was resolved into a train of mules and wagons,
barely visible on the horizon. They were miles away and outlined against
the blue sky.

I then remembered what my astonishment had not permitted me closely to
note--that this pageant had appeared to move along parallel to the foot of
a slope extending upward and backward to an immense height, intersected
with rivers and presenting all the features of a prairie landscape. The
mirage had in effect contracted the entire space between us and the train
to a pistol-shot in breadth, and had made a background for its horrible
picture by lifting into view Heaven knows how great an extent of country
below our horizon. Does refraction account for all this? To this day I
cannot without vexation remember the childish astonishment that prevented
me from observing the really interesting features of the spectacle and
kept my eyes fixed with a foolish distension on a lot of distorted mules,
teamsters and wagons.

One of the commonest and best known tricks of the mirage is that of
overlaying a dry landscape with ponds and lakes, and by a truly
interesting and appropriate coincidence one or more travelers perishing of
thirst seem always to be present, properly to appreciate the humor of the
deception; but when a gentleman whose narrative suggested this article
averred that he had seen these illusory lakes navigated by phantom boats
filled with visionary persons he was, I daresay, thought to be drawing the
long bow, even by many miragists in good standing. For aught I know he may
have been. I can only attest the entirely credible character of the

Away up at the headwaters of the Missouri, near the British possessions, I
found myself one afternoon rather unexpectedly on the shore of an ocean.
At less than a gunshot from where I stood was as plainly defined a
seabeach as one could wish to see. The eye could follow it in either
direction, with all its bays, inlets and promontories, to the horizon. The
sea was studded with islands, and these with tall trees of many kinds,
both islands and trees being reflected in the water with absolute
fidelity. On many of the islands were houses, showing white beneath the
trees, and on one which lay farthest out seaward was a considerable city,
with towers, domes and clusters of steeples. There were ships in the
offing whose sails glistened in the sunlight and, closer in, several boats
of novel but graceful design, crowded with human figures, moved smoothly
among the lesser islands, impelled by some power invisible from my point
of view, each boat attended by its inverted reflection "crowding up
beneath the keel." It must be admitted that the voyagers were habited
after a somewhat uncommon fashion--almost unearthly, I may say--and were
so grouped that at my distance I could not clearly distinguish their
individual limbs and attitudes. Their features were, of course, entirely
invisible. None the less, they were plainly human beings--what other
creatures would be boating? Of the other features of the scene--the coast,
islands, trees, houses, city and ships hull-down in the offing--I
distinctly affirm an absolute identity of visible aspect with those to
which we are accustomed in the realm of reality; imagination had simply
nothing to do with the matter. True, I had not recently had the advantage
of seeing any such objects, except trees, and these had been mighty poor
specimens, but, like Macduff, I "could not but remember such things were,"
nor had I forgotten how they looked.

Of course I was not for an instant deceived by all this: I knew that under
it all lay a particularly forbidding and inhospitable expanse of sagebrush
and cactus, peopled with nothing more nearly akin to me than prairie dogs,
ground owls and jackass rabbits--that with these exceptions the desert was
as desolate as the environment of Ozymandias' "vast and trunkless legs of
stone." But as a show it was surely the most enchanting that human eyes
had ever looked on, and after more years than I care to count it remains
one of memory's most precious possessions. The one thing which always
somewhat impairs the illusion in such instances--the absence of the
horizon water-line--did not greatly abate the _vraisemblance_ in this, for
the large island in the distance nearly closed the view seaward, and the
ships occupied most of the remaining space. I had but to fancy a slight
haze on the farther water, and all was right and regular. For more than a
half-hour this charming picture remained intact; then ugly patches of
plain began to show through, the islands with their palms and temples
slowly dissolved, the boats foundered with every soul on board, the sea
drifted over the headlands in a most unwaterlike way, and inside the hour

  like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
    He stared at the Pacific, and all his men
  Looked at each other with a wild surmise,
    Silent upon a peak in Darien,

I had discovered this unknown sea all this insubstantial pageant had faded
like the baseless fabric of the vision that it was and left not a rack

In some of its minor manifestations the mirage is sometimes seen on the
western coast of our continent, in the bay of San Francisco, for example,
causing no small surprise to the untraveled and unread observer, and no
small pain to the spirits of purer fire who are fated to be caught within
earshot and hear him pronounce it a "mirridge." I have seen Goat Island
without visible means of support and Red Rock suspended in mid-air like
the coffin of the Prophet. Looking up toward Mare Island one most
ungracious morning when a barbarous norther had purged the air of every
stain and the human soul of every virtue, I saw San Pablo Bay margined
with cliffs whose altitude must have exceeded considerably that from whose
dizzy verge old eyeless Gloster, falling in a heap at his own feet,
supposed himself to have sailed like a stone.

One more instance and "I've done, i' faith." Gliding along down the Hudson
River one hot summer afternoon in a steamboat, I went out on the
afterguard for a breath of fresh air, but there was none to be had. The
surface of the river was like oil and the steamer's hull slipped through
it with surprisingly little disturbance. Her tremor was for once hardly
perceptible; the beating of her paddles was subdued to an almost inaudible
rhythm. The air seemed what we call "hollow" and had apparently hardly
enough tenuity to convey sounds. Everywhere on the surface of the glassy
stream were visible undulations of heat, and the light steam of
evaporation lay along the sluggish water and hung like a veil between the
eye and the bank. Seated in an armchair and overcome by the heat and the
droning of some prosy passengers near by, I fell asleep. When I awoke the
guards were crowded with passengers in a high state of excitement,
pointing and craning shoreward. Looking in the same direction I saw,
through the haze, the sharp outlines of a city in gray silhouette. Roofs,
spires, pinnacles, chimneys, angles of wall--all were there, cleanly cut
out against the air.

"What is it?" I cried, springing to my feet.

"That, sir," replied a passenger stolidly, "is Poughkeepsie."

It was.


Among the arts and sciences, the art of Sole Surviving is one of the most
interesting, as (to the artist) it is by far the most important. It is not
altogether an art, perhaps, for success in it is largely due to accident.
One may study how solely to survive, yet, having an imperfect natural
aptitude, may fail of proficiency and be early cut off. To the contrary,
one little skilled in its methods, and not even well grounded in its
fundamental principles, may, by taking the trouble to have been born with
a suitable constitution, attain to a considerable eminence in the art.
Without undue immodesty, I think I may fairly claim some distinction in it
myself, although I have not regularly acquired it as one acquires
knowledge and skill in writing, painting and playing the flute. O yes, I
am a notable Sole Survivor, and some of my work in that way attracts great
attention, mostly my own.

You would naturally expect, then, to find in me one who has experienced
all manner of disaster at sea and the several kinds of calamity incident
to a life on dry land. It would seem a just inference from my Sole
Survivorship that I am familiar with railroad wrecks, inundations (though
these are hardly dry-land phenomena), pestilences, earthquakes,
conflagrations and other forms of what the reporters delight to call "a
holocaust." This is not entirely true; I have never been shipwrecked,
never assisted as "unfortunate sufferer" at a fire or railway collision,
and know of the ravages of epidemics only by hearsay. The most destructive
_temblor_ of which I have had a personal experience decreased the
population of San Francisco by fewer, probably, than ten thousand persons,
of whom not more than a dozen were killed; the others moved out of town.
It is true that I once followed the perilous trade of a soldier, but my
eminence in Sole Surviving is of a later growth and not specially the
product of the sword.

Opening the portfolio of memory, I draw out picture after
picture--"figure-pieces"--groups of forms and faces whereof mine only now
remains, somewhat the worse for wear.

Here are three young men lolling at ease on a grassy bank. One, a
handsome, dark-eyed chap, with a forehead like that of a Grecian god,
raises his body on his elbow, looks straight away to the horizon, where
some black trees hold captive certain vestiges of sunset as if they had
torn away the plumage of a flight of flamingoes, and says: "Fellows, I
mean to be rich. I shall see every country worth seeing. I shall taste
every pleasure worth having. When old, I shall become a hermit."

Said another slender youth, fair-haired: "I shall become President and
execute a _coup d'etat_ making myself an absolute monarch. I shall then
issue a decree requiring that all hermits be put to death."

The third said nothing. Was he restrained by some prescient sense of the
perishable nature of the material upon which he was expected to inscribe
the record of his hopes? However it may have been, he flicked his shoe
with a hazel switch and kept his own counsel. For twenty years he has been
the Sole Survivor of the group.

       *       *       *       *       *

The scene changes. Six men are on horseback on a hill--a general and his
staff. Below, in the gray fog of a winter morning, an army, which has left
its intrenchments, is moving upon those of the enemy--creeping silently
into position. In an hour the whole wide valley for miles to left and
right will be all aroar with musketry stricken to seeming silence now and
again by thunder claps of big guns. In the meantime the risen sun has
burned a way through the fog, splendoring a part of the beleaguered city.

"Look at that, General," says an aide; "it is like enchantment."

"Go and enchant Colonel Post," said the general, without taking his
field-glass from his eyes, "and tell him to pitch in as soon as he hears
Smith's guns."

All laughed. But to-day I laugh alone. I am the Sole Survivor.

       *       *       *       *       *

It would be easy to fill many pages with instances of Sole Survival, from
my own experience. I could mention extinct groups composed wholly (myself
excepted) of the opposing sex, all of whom, with the same exception, have
long ceased their opposition, their warfare accomplished, their pretty
noses blue and chill under the daisies. They were good girls, too, mostly,
Heaven rest them! There were Maud and Lizzie and Nanette (ah, Nanette,
indeed; she is the deadest of the whole bright band) and Emeline and--but
really this is not discreet; one should not survive and tell.

The flame of a camp-fire stands up tall and straight toward the black sky.
We feed it constantly with sage brush. A circling wall of darkness closes
us in; but turn your back to the fire and walk a little away and you shall
see the serrated summit-line of snow-capped mountains, ghastly cold in the
moonlight. They are in all directions; everywhere they efface the great
gold stars near the horizon, leaving the little green ones of the
mid-heaven trembling viciously, as bleak as steel. At irregular intervals
we hear the distant howling of a wolf--now on this side and again on that.
We check our talk to listen; we cast quick glances toward our weapons, our
saddles, our picketed horses: the wolves may be of the variety known as
Sioux, and there are but four of us.

"What would you do, Jim," said Hazen, "if we were surrounded by Indians?"

Jim Beckwourth was our guide--a life-long frontiersman, an old man "beated
and chopped with tanned antiquity." He had at one time been a chief of the

"I'd spit on that fire," said Jim Beckwourth.

The old man has gone, I hope, where there is no fire to be quenched. And
Hazen, and the chap with whom I shared my blanket that winter night on the
plains--both gone. One might suppose that I would feel something of the
natural exultation of a Sole Survivor; but as Byron found that

    our thoughts take wildest flight
  Even at the moment when they should array
  Themselves in pensive order,

so I find that they sometimes array themselves in pensive order, even at
the moment when they ought to be most hilarious.

       *       *       *       *       *

Of reminiscences there is no end. I have a vast store of them laid up,
wherewith to wile away the tedious years of my anecdotage--whenever it
shall please Heaven to make me old. Some years that I passed in London as
a working journalist are particularly rich in them. Ah! "we were a gallant
company" in those days.

I am told that the English are heavy thinkers and dull talkers. My
recollection is different; speaking from that, I should say they are no
end clever with their tongues. Certainly I have not elsewhere heard such
brilliant talk as among the artists and writers of London. Of course they
were a picked lot; some of them had attained to some eminence in the world
of intellect; others have achieved it since. But they were not all English
by many. London draws the best brains of Ireland and Scotland, and there
is always a small American contingent, mostly correspondents of the big
New York journals.

The typical London journalist is a gentleman. He is usually a graduate of
one or the other of the great universities. He is well paid and holds his
position, whatever it may be, by a less precarious tenure than his
American congener. He rather moves than "dabbles" in literature, and not
uncommonly takes a hand at some of the many forms of art. On the whole, he
is a good fellow, too, with a skeptical mind, a cynical tongue, and a warm
heart. I found these men agreeable, hospitable, intelligent, amusing. We
worked too hard, dined too well, frequented too many clubs, and went to
bed too late in the forenoon. We were overmuch addicted to shedding the
blood of the grape. In short, we diligently, conscientiously, and with a
perverse satisfaction burned the candle of life at both ends and in the

This was many a year ago. To-day a list of these men's names with a cross
against that of each one whom I know to be dead would look like a Roman
Catholic cemetery. I could dine all the survivors at the table on which I
write, and I should like to do so. But the dead ones, I must say, were the
best diners.

But about Sole Surviving. There was a London publisher named John Camden
Hotten. Among American writers he had a pretty dark reputation as a
"pirate." They accused him of republishing their books without their
assent, which, in absence of international copyright, he had a legal, and
it seems to me (a "sufferer") a moral right to do. Through sympathy with
their foreign confrères British writers also held him in high disesteem.

I knew Hotten very well, and one day I stood by what purported to be his
body, which afterward I assisted to bury in the cemetery at Highgate. I am
sure that it was his body, for I was uncommonly careful in the matter of
identification, for a very good reason, which you shall know.

Aside from his "piracy," Hotten had a wide renown as "a hard man to deal
with." For several months before his death he had owed me one hundred
pounds sterling, and he could not possibly have been more reluctant to
part with anything but a larger sum. Even to this day in reviewing the
intelligent methods--ranging from delicate finesse to frank effrontery--by
which that good man kept me out of mine own I am prostrated with
admiration and consumed with envy. Finally by a lucky chance I got him at
a disadvantage and seeing my power he sent his manager--a fellow named
Chatto, who as a member of the firm of Chatto & Windus afterward succeeded
to his business and methods--to negotiate. I was the most implacable
creditor in the United Kingdom, and after two mortal hours of me in my
most acidulated mood Chatto pulled out a check for the full amount, ready
signed by Hotten in anticipation of defeat. Before handing it to me Chatto
said: "This check is dated next Saturday. Of course you will not present
it until then."

To this I cheerfully consented.

"And now," said Chatto, rising to go, "as everything is satisfactory I
hope you will go out to Hotten's house and have a friendly talk. It is his

On Saturday morning I went. In pursuance, doubtless, of his design when he
antedated that check he had died of a pork pie promptly on the stroke of
twelve o'clock the night before--which invalidated the check! I have met
American publishers who thought they knew something about the business of
drinking champagne out of writers' skulls. If this narrative--which, upon
my soul, is every word true--teaches them humility by showing that genuine
commercial sagacity is not bounded by geographical lines it will have
served its purpose.

Having assured myself that Mr. Hotten was really no more, I drove
furiously bank-ward, hoping that the sad tidings had not preceded me--and
they had not.

Alas! on the route was a certain tap-room greatly frequented by authors,
artists, newspaper men and "gentlemen of wit and pleasure about town."

Sitting about the customary table were a half-dozen or more choice
spirits--George Augustus Sala, Henry Sampson, Tom Hood the younger,
Captain Mayne Reid, and others less known to fame. I am sorry to say my
somber news affected these sinners in a way that was shocking. Their
levity was a thing to shudder at. As Sir Boyle Roche might have said, it
grated harshly upon an ear that had a dubious check in its pocket. Having
uttered their hilarious minds by word of mouth all they knew how, these
hardy and impenitent offenders set about writing "appropriate epitaphs."
Thank Heaven, all but one of these have escaped my memory, one that I
wrote myself. At the close of the rites, several hours later, I resumed my
movement against the bank. Too late--the old, old story of the hare and
the tortoise was told again. The "heavy news" had overtaken and passed me
as I loitered by the wayside.

All attended the funeral--Sala, Sampson, Hood, Reid, and the
undistinguished others, including this present Sole Survivor of the group.
As each cast his handful of earth upon the coffin I am very sure that,
like Lord Brougham on a somewhat similar occasion, we all felt more than
we cared to express. On the death of a political antagonist whom he had
not treated with much consideration his lordship was asked, rather rudely,
"Have you no regrets now that he is gone?"

After a moment of thoughtful silence he replied, with gravity, "Yes; I
favor his return."

       *       *       *       *       *

One night in the summer of 1880 I was driving in a light wagon through the
wildest part of the Black Hills in South Dakota. I had left Deadwood and
was well on my way to Rockerville with thirty thousand dollars on my
person, belonging to a mining company of which I was the general manager.
Naturally, I had taken the precaution to telegraph my secretary at
Rockerville to meet me at Rapid City, then a small town, on another route;
the telegram was intended to mislead the "gentlemen of the road" whom I
knew to be watching my movements, and who might possibly have a
confederate in the telegraph office. Beside me on the seat of the wagon
sat Boone May.

Permit me to explain the situation. Several months before, it had been the
custom to send a "treasure-coach" twice a week from Deadwood to Sidney,
Nebraska. Also, it had been the custom to have this coach captured and
plundered by "road agents." So intolerable had this practice become--even
iron-clad coaches loopholed for rifles proving a vain device--that the
mine owners had adopted the more practicable plan of importing from
California a half-dozen of the most famous "shotgun messengers" of Wells,
Fargo & Co.--fearless and trusty fellows with an instinct for killing, a
readiness of resource that was an intuition, and a sense of direction that
put a shot where it would do the most good more accurately than the most
careful aim. Their feats of marksmanship were so incredible that seeing
was scarcely believing.

In a few weeks these chaps had put the road agents out of business and out
of life, for they attacked them wherever found. One sunny Sunday morning
two of them strolling down a street of Deadwood recognized five or six of
the rascals, ran back to their hotel for their rifles, and returning
killed them all!

Boone May was one of these avengers. When I employed him, as a messenger,
he was under indictment for murder. He had trailed a "road agent" across,
the Bad Lands for hundreds of miles, brought him back to within a few
miles of Deadwood and picketed him out for the night. The desperate man,
tied as he was, had attempted to escape, and May found it expedient to
shoot and bury him. The grave by the roadside is perhaps still pointed out
to the curious. May gave himself up, was formally charged with murder,
released on his own recognizance, and I had to give him leave of absence
to go to court and be acquitted. Some of the New York directors of my
company having been good enough to signify their disapproval of my action
in employing "such a man," I could do no less than make some recognition
of their dissent, and thenceforth he was borne upon the pay-rolls as
"Boone May, Murderer." Now let me get back to my story.

I knew the road fairly well, for I had previously traveled it by night, on
horseback, my pockets bulging with currency and my free hand holding a
cocked revolver the entire distance of fifty miles. To make the journey by
wagon with a companion was luxury. Still, the drizzle of rain was
uncomfortable. May sat hunched up beside me, a rubber poncho over his
shoulders and a Winchester rifle in its leathern case between his knees. I
thought him a trifle off his guard, but said nothing. The road, barely
visible, was rocky, the wagon rattled, and alongside ran a roaring stream.
Suddenly we heard through it all the clinking of a horse's shoes directly
behind, and simultaneously the short, sharp words of authority: "Throw up
your hands!"

With an involuntary jerk at the reins I brought my team to its haunches
and reached for my revolver. Quite needless: with the quickest movement
that I had ever seen in anything but a cat--almost before the words were
out of the horseman's mouth--May had thrown himself backward across the
back of the seat, face upward, and the muzzle of his rifle was within a
yard of the fellow's breast! What further occurred among the three of us
there in the gloom of the forest has, I fancy, never been accurately

Boone May is long dead of yellow fever in Brazil, and I am the Sole

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a famous _prima donna_ with whom it was my good fortune to cross
the Atlantic to New York. In truth I was charged by a friend of both with
the agreeable duty of caring for her safety and comfort. Madame was
gracious, clever, altogether charming, and before the voyage was two days
old a half-dozen of the men aboard, whom she had permitted me to present,
were heels over head in love with her, as I was myself.

Our competition for her favor did not make us enemies; on the contrary we
were drawn together into something like an offensive and defensive
alliance by a common sorrow--the successful rivalry of a singularly
handsome Italian who sat next her at table. So assiduous was he in his
attentions that my office as the lady's guide, philosopher and friend was
nearly a sinecure, and as to the others, they had hardly one chance a day
to prove their devotion: that enterprising son of Italy dominated the
entire situation. By some diabolical prevision he anticipated Madame's
every need and wish--placed her reclining-chair in the most sheltered
spots on deck, smothered her in layer upon layer of wraps, and conducted
himself, generally, in the most inconsiderate way. Worse still, Madame
accepted his good offices with a shameless grace "which said as plain as
whisper in the ear" that there was a perfect understanding between them.
What made it harder to bear was the fellow's faulty civility to the rest
of us; he seemed hardly aware of our existence.

Our indignation was not loud, but deep. Every day in the smoking-room we
contrived the most ingenious and monstrous, plans for his undoing in this
world and the next; the least cruel being a project to lure him to the
upper deck on a dark night and send him unshriven to his account by way of
the lee rail; but as none of us knew enough Italian to tell him the
needful falsehood that scheme of justice came to nothing, as did all the
others. At the wharf in New York we parted from Madame more in sorrow than
in anger, and from her conquering cavalier with polite manifestations of
the contempt we did not feel.

That evening I called on her at her hotel, facing Union Square. Soon after
my arrival there was an audible commotion out in front: the populace,
headed by a brass band and incited, doubtless, by pure love of art, had
arrived to do honor to the great singer. There was music--a
serenade--followed by shoutings of the lady's name. She seemed a trifle
nervous, but I led her to the balcony, where she made a very pretty little
speech, piquant with her most charming accent. When the tumult and
shouting had died we re-entered her apartment to resume our conversation.
Would it please monsieur to have a glass, of wine? It would. She left the
room for a moment; then came the wine and glasses on a tray, borne by that
impossible Italian! He had a napkin across his arm--he was a servant.

Barring some of the band and the populace, I am doubtless the Sole
Survivor, for Madame has for a number of years had a permanent engagement
Above, and my faith in Divine Justice does not permit me to think that the
servile wretch who cast down the mighty from their seat among the Sons of
Hope was suffered to live out the other half of his days.

       *       *       *       *       *

A dinner of seven in an old London tavern--a good dinner, the memory
whereof is not yet effaced from the tablets of the palate. A soup, a plate
of white-bait be-lemoned and red-peppered with exactness, a huge joint of
roast beef, from which we sliced at will, flanked by various bottles of
old dry Sherry and crusty Port--such Port! (And we are expected to be
patriots in a country where it cannot be procured! And the Portuguese are
expected to love the country which, having it, sends it away!) That was
the dinner--there was Stilton cheese; it were shameful not to mention the
Stilton. Good, wholesome, and toothsome it was, rich and nutty. The
Stilton that we get here, clouted in tin-foil, is monstrous poor stuff,
hardly better than our American sort. After dinner there were walnuts and
coffee and cigars. I cannot say much for the cigars; they are not
over-good in England: too long at sea, I suppose.

On the whole, it was a memorable dinner. Even its non-essential features
were satisfactory. The waiter was fascinatingly solemn, the floor snowily
sanded, the company sufficiently distinguished in literature and art for
me to keep track of them through the newspapers. They are dead--as dead as
Queen Anne, every mother's son of them! I am in my favorite rôle of Sole
Survivor. It has become habitual to me; I rather like it.

Of the company were two eminent gastronomes--call them Messrs. Guttle and
Swig--who so acridly hated each other that nothing but a good dinner could
bring them under the same roof. (They had had a quarrel, I think, about
the merit of a certain Amontillado--which, by the way, one insisted,
despite Edgar Allan Poe, who certainly knew too much of whiskey to know
much of wine, _is_ a Sherry.) After the cloth had been removed and the
coffee, walnuts and cigars brought in, the company stood, and to an air
extemporaneously composed by Guttle, sang the following shocking and
reprehensible song, which had been written during the proceedings by this
present Sole Survivor. It will serve as fitly to conclude this feast of
unreason as it did that:


  Jack Satan's the greatest of gods,
    And Hell is the best of abodes.
  'Tis reached through the Valley of Clods
    By seventy beautiful roads.
  Hurrah for the Seventy Roads!
    Hurrah for the clods that resound
    With a hollow, thundering sound!
  Hurrah for the Best of Abodes!

  We'll serve him as long as we've breath--
    Jack Satan, the greatest of gods.
  To all of his enemies, death!--
    A home in the Valley of Clods.
  Hurrah for the thunder of clods
    That smother the souls of his foes!
    Hurrah for the spirit that goes
  To dwell with the Greatest of Gods!

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