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Title: The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Volume 8 - Epigrams, On With the Dance, Negligible Tales
Author: Bierce, Ambrose, 1842-1914?
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Volume 8 - Epigrams, On With the Dance, Negligible Tales" ***

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[Illustration: Title Page]

       *       *       *       *       *

                THE COLLECTED

                  WORKS OF

               AMBROSE BIERCE

                 VOLUME VIII

              NEGLIGIBLE TALES

              ON WITH THE DANCE


                  NEW YORK

             GORDIAN PRESS, INC.


       *       *       *       *       *

               Reprinted 1966

                Published by

             GORDIAN PRESS, INC.

Library of Congress Card Catalog No 66-14638

          Printed in the U.S.A. by


             Ann Arbor, Michigan

       *       *       *       *       *


  A BOTTOMLESS GRAVE                         9
  THE WIDOWER TURMORE                       41
  THE CITY OF THE GONE AWAY                 52
  THE MAJOR'S TALE                          63
  CURRIED COW                               76
  A REVOLT OF THE GODS                      89
  THE BAPTISM OF DOBSHO                     95
  THE RACE AT LEFT BOWER                   104
  THE FAILURE OF HOPE & WANDEL             110
  PERRY CHUMLY'S ECLIPSE                   115
  A PROVIDENTIAL INTIMATION                122
  MR. SWIDDLER'S FLIP-FLAP                 131
  THE LITTLE STORY                         138

  MY FAVORITE MURDER                       147
  OIL OF DOG                               163
  THE HYPNOTIST                            177

  MR. MASTHEAD, JOURNALIST                 187
  CORRUPTING THE PRESS                     204
  "THE BUBBLE REPUTATION"                  211

  A SHIPWRECKOLLECTION                     219
  THE CAPTAIN OF "THE CAMEL"               226
  THE MAN OVERBOARD                        239
  A CARGO OF CAT                           258

  THE BEATING OF THE BLOOD                 270
  THERE ARE CORNS IN EGYPT                 276
  A REEF IN THE GABARDINE                  282
  CAIRO REVISITED                          296
  JAPAN WEAR AND BOMBAY DUCKS              299
  COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENSE                  316
  THEY ALL DANCE                           321
  LUST, QUOTH'A                            330
  OUR GRANDMOTHERS' LEGS                   332

EPIGRAMS                                   343



My name is John Brenwalter. My father, a drunkard, had a patent for an
invention, for making coffee-berries out of clay; but he was an honest
man and would not himself engage in the manufacture. He was, therefore,
only moderately wealthy, his royalties from his really valuable
invention bringing him hardly enough to pay his expenses of litigation
with rogues guilty of infringement. So I lacked many advantages enjoyed
by the children of unscrupulous and dishonorable parents, and had it not
been for a noble and devoted mother, who neglected all my brothers and
sisters and personally supervised my education, should have grown up in
ignorance and been compelled to teach school. To be the favorite child
of a good woman is better than gold.

When I was nineteen years of age my father had the misfortune to die. He
had always had perfect health, and his death, which occurred at the
dinner table without a moment's warning, surprised no one more than
himself. He had that very morning been notified that a patent had been
granted him for a device to burst open safes by hydraulic pressure,
without noise. The Commissioner of Patents had pronounced it the most
ingenious, effective and generally meritorious invention that had ever
been submitted to him, and my father had naturally looked forward to an
old age of prosperity and honor. His sudden death was, therefore, a deep
disappointment to him; but my mother, whose piety and resignation to the
will of Heaven were conspicuous virtues of her character, was apparently
less affected. At the close of the meal, when my poor father's body had
been removed from the floor, she called us all into an adjoining room
and addressed us as follows:

"My children, the uncommon occurrence that you have just witnessed is
one of the most disagreeable incidents in a good man's life, and one in
which I take little pleasure, I assure you. I beg you to believe that I
had no hand in bringing it about. Of course," she added, after a pause,
during which her eyes were cast down in deep thought, "of course it is
better that he is dead."

She uttered this with so evident a sense of its obviousness as a
self-evident truth that none of us had the courage to brave her surprise
by asking an explanation. My mother's air of surprise when any of us
went wrong in any way was very terrible to us. One day, when in a fit of
peevish temper, I had taken the liberty to cut off the baby's ear, her
simple words, "John, you surprise me!" appeared to me so sharp a reproof
that after a sleepless night I went to her in tears, and throwing myself
at her feet, exclaimed: "Mother, forgive me for surprising you." So now
we all--including the one-eared baby--felt that it would keep matters
smoother to accept without question the statement that it was better,
somehow, for our dear father to be dead. My mother continued:

"I must tell you, my children, that in a case of sudden and mysterious
death the law requires the Coroner to come and cut the body into pieces
and submit them to a number of men who, having inspected them, pronounce
the person dead. For this the Coroner gets a large sum of money. I wish
to avoid that painful formality in this instance; it is one which never
had the approval of--of the remains. John"--here my mother turned her
angel face to me-"you are an educated lad, and very discreet. You have
now an opportunity to show your gratitude for all the sacrifices that
your education has entailed upon the rest of us. John, go and remove the

Inexpressibly delighted by this proof of my mother's confidence, and by
the chance to distinguish myself by an act that squared with my natural
disposition, I knelt before her, carried her hand to my lips and bathed
it with tears of sensibility. Before five o'clock that afternoon I had
removed the Coroner.

I was immediately arrested and thrown into jail, where I passed a most
uncomfortable night, being unable to sleep because of the profanity of
my fellow-prisoners, two clergymen, whose theological training had given
them a fertility of impious ideas and a command of blasphemous language
altogether unparalleled. But along toward morning the jailer, who,
sleeping in an adjoining room, had been equally disturbed, entered the
cell and with a fearful oath warned the reverend gentlemen that if he
heard any more swearing their sacred calling would not prevent him from
turning them into the street. After that they moderated their
objectionable conversation, substituting an accordion, and I slept the
peaceful and refreshing sleep of youth and innocence.

The next morning I was taken before the Superior Judge, sitting as a
committing magistrate, and put upon my preliminary examination. I
pleaded not guilty, adding that the man whom I had murdered was a
notorious Democrat. (My good mother was a Republican, and from early
childhood I had been carefully instructed by her in the principles of
honest government and the necessity of suppressing factional
opposition.) The Judge, elected by a Republican ballot-box with a
sliding bottom, was visibly impressed by the cogency of my plea and
offered me a cigarette.

"May it please your Honor," began the District Attorney, "I do not deem
it necessary to submit any evidence in this case. Under the law of the
land you sit here as a committing magistrate. It is therefore your duty
to commit. Testimony and argument alike would imply a doubt that your
Honor means to perform your sworn duty. That is my case."

My counsel, a brother of the deceased Coroner, rose and said: "May it
please the Court, my learned friend on the other side has so well and
eloquently stated the law governing in this case that it only remains
for me to inquire to what extent it has been already complied with. It
is true, your Honor is a committing magistrate, and as such it is your
duty to commit--what? That is a matter which the law has wisely and
justly left to your own discretion, and wisely you have discharged
already every obligation that the law imposes. Since I have known your
Honor you have done nothing but commit. You have committed embracery,
theft, arson, perjury, adultery, murder--every crime in the calendar and
every excess known to the sensual and depraved, including my learned
friend, the District Attorney. You have done your whole duty as a
committing magistrate, and as there is no evidence against this worthy
young man, my client, I move that he be discharged."

An impressive silence ensued. The Judge arose, put on the black cap and
in a voice trembling with emotion sentenced me to life and liberty. Then
turning to my counsel he said, coldly but significantly:

"I will see you later."

The next morning the lawyer who had so conscientiously defended me
against a charge of murdering his own brother--with whom he had a
quarrel about some land--had disappeared and his fate is to this day

In the meantime my poor father's body had been secretly buried at
midnight in the back yard of his late residence, with his late boots on
and the contents of his late stomach unanalyzed. "He was opposed to
display," said my dear mother, as she finished tamping down the earth
above him and assisted the children to litter the place with straw; "his
instincts were all domestic and he loved a quiet life."

My mother's application for letters of administration stated that she
had good reason to believe that the deceased was dead, for he had not
come home to his meals for several days; but the Judge of the Crowbait
Court--as she ever afterward contemptuously called it--decided that the
proof of death was insufficient, and put the estate into the hands of
the Public Administrator, who was his son-in-law. It was found that the
liabilities were exactly balanced by the assets; there was left only the
patent for the device for bursting open safes without noise, by
hydraulic pressure and this had passed into the ownership of the Probate
Judge and the Public Administrator--as my dear mother preferred to
spell it. Thus, within a few brief months a worthy and respectable
family was reduced from prosperity to crime; necessity compelled us to
go to work.

In the selection of occupations we were governed by a variety of
considerations, such as personal fitness, inclination, and so forth. My
mother opened a select private school for instruction in the art of
changing the spots upon leopard-skin rugs; my eldest brother, George
Henry, who had a turn for music, became a bugler in a neighboring asylum
for deaf mutes; my sister, Mary Maria, took orders for Professor
Pumpernickel's Essence of Latchkeys for flavoring mineral springs, and I
set up as an adjuster and gilder of crossbeams for gibbets. The other
children, too young for labor, continued to steal small articles exposed
in front of shops, as they had been taught.

In our intervals of leisure we decoyed travelers into our house and
buried the bodies in a cellar.

In one part of this cellar we kept wines, liquors and provisions. From
the rapidity of their disappearance we acquired the superstitious belief
that the spirits of the persons buried there came at dead of night and
held a festival. It was at least certain that frequently of a morning we
would discover fragments of pickled meats, canned goods and such débris,
littering the place, although it had been securely locked and barred
against human intrusion. It was proposed to remove the provisions and
store them elsewhere, but our dear mother, always generous and
hospitable, said it was better to endure the loss than risk exposure: if
the ghosts were denied this trifling gratification they might set on
foot an investigation, which would overthrow our scheme of the division
of labor, by diverting the energies of the whole family into the single
industry pursued by me--we might all decorate the cross-beams of
gibbets. We accepted her decision with filial submission, due to our
reverence for her wordly wisdom and the purity of her character.

One night while we were all in the cellar--none dared to enter it
alone--engaged in bestowing upon the Mayor of an adjoining town the
solemn offices of Christian burial, my mother and the younger children,
holding a candle each, while George Henry and I labored with a spade and
pick, my sister Mary Maria uttered a shriek and covered her eyes with
her hands. We were all dreadfully startled and the Mayor's obsequies
were instantly suspended, while with pale faces and in trembling tones
we begged her to say what had alarmed her. The younger children were so
agitated that they held their candles unsteadily, and the waving shadows
of our figures danced with uncouth and grotesque movements on the walls
and flung themselves into the most uncanny attitudes. The face of the
dead man, now gleaming ghastly in the light, and now extinguished by
some floating shadow, appeared at each emergence to have taken on a new
and more forbidding expression, a maligner menace. Frightened even more
than ourselves by the girl's scream, rats raced in multitudes about the
place, squeaking shrilly, or starred the black opacity of some distant
corner with steadfast eyes, mere points of green light, matching the
faint phosphorescence of decay that filled the half-dug grave and seemed
the visible manifestation of that faint odor of mortality which tainted
the unwholesome air. The children now sobbed and clung about the limbs
of their elders, dropping their candles, and we were near being left in
total darkness, except for that sinister light, which slowly welled
upward from the disturbed earth and overflowed the edges of the grave
like a fountain.

Meanwhile my sister, crouching in the earth that had been thrown out of
the excavation, had removed her hands from her face and was staring with
expanded eyes into an obscure space between two wine casks.

"There it is!--there it is!" she shrieked, pointing; "God in heaven!
can't you see it?"

And there indeed it was!--a human figure, dimly discernible in the
gloom--a figure that wavered from side to side as if about to fall,
clutching at the wine-casks for support, had stepped unsteadily forward
and for one moment stood revealed in the light of our remaining candles;
then it surged heavily and fell prone upon the earth. In that moment we
had all recognized the figure, the face and bearing of our father--dead
these ten months and buried by our own hands!--our father indubitably
risen and ghastly drunk!

On the incidents of our precipitate flight from that horrible place--on
the extinction of all human sentiment in that tumultuous, mad scramble
up the damp and mouldy stairs--slipping, falling, pulling one another
down and clambering over one another's back--the lights extinguished,
babes trampled beneath the feet of their strong brothers and hurled
backward to death by a mother's arm!--on all this I do not dare to
dwell. My mother, my eldest brother and sister and I escaped; the others
remained below, to perish of their wounds, or of their terror--some,
perhaps, by flame. For within an hour we four, hastily gathering
together what money and jewels we had and what clothing we could carry,
fired the dwelling and fled by its light into the hills. We did not even
pause to collect the insurance, and my dear mother said on her
death-bed, years afterward in a distant land, that this was the only sin
of omission that lay upon her conscience. Her confessor, a holy man,
assured her that under the circumstances Heaven would pardon the

About ten years after our removal from the scenes of my childhood I,
then a prosperous forger, returned in disguise to the spot with a view
to obtaining, if possible, some treasure belonging to us, which had been
buried in the cellar. I may say that I was unsuccessful: the discovery
of many human bones in the ruins had set the authorities digging for
more. They had found the treasure and had kept it for their honesty. The
house had not been rebuilt; the whole suburb was, in fact, a desolation.
So many unearthly sights and sounds had been reported thereabout that
nobody would live there. As there was none to question nor molest, I
resolved to gratify my filial piety by gazing once more upon the face of
my beloved father, if indeed our eyes had deceived us and he was still
in his grave. I remembered, too, that he had always worn an enormous
diamond ring, and never having seen it nor heard of it since his death,
I had reason to think he might have been buried in it. Procuring a
spade, I soon located the grave in what had been the backyard and began
digging. When I had got down about four feet the whole bottom fell out
of the grave and I was precipitated into a large drain, falling through
a long hole in its crumbling arch. There was no body, nor any vestige of

Unable to get out of the excavation, I crept through the drain, and
having with some difficulty removed a mass of charred rubbish and
blackened masonry that choked it, emerged into what had been that
fateful cellar.

All was clear. My father, whatever had caused him to be "taken bad" at
his meal (and I think my sainted mother could have thrown some light
upon that matter) had indubitably been buried alive. The grave having
been accidentally dug above the forgotten drain, and down almost to the
crown of its arch, and no coffin having been used, his struggles on
reviving had broken the rotten masonry and he had fallen through,
escaping finally into the cellar. Feeling that he was not welcome in his
own house, yet having no other, he had lived in subterranean seclusion,
a witness to our thrift and a pensioner on our providence. It was he who
had eaten our food; it was he who had drunk our wine--he was no better
than a thief! In a moment of intoxication, and feeling, no doubt, that
need of companionship which is the one sympathetic link between a
drunken man and his race, he had left his place of concealment at a
strangely inopportune time, entailing the most deplorable consequences
upon those nearest and dearest to him--a blunder that had almost the
dignity of crime.


_From the Secretary of War to the Hon. Jupiter Doke, Hardpan Crossroads,
Posey County, Illinois._

WASHINGTON, November 3, 1861.

Having faith in your patriotism and ability, the President has been
pleased to appoint you a brigadier-general of volunteers. Do you accept?

_From the Hon. Jupiter Doke to the Secretary of War._

HARDPAN, ILLINOIS, November 9, 1861.

It is the proudest moment of my life. The office is one which should be
neither sought nor declined. In times that try men's souls the patriot
knows no North, no South, no East, no West. His motto should be: "My
country, my whole country and nothing but my country." I accept the
great trust confided in me by a free and intelligent people, and with a
firm reliance on the principles of constitutional liberty, and invoking
the guidance of an all-wise Providence, Ruler of Nations, shall labor so
to discharge it as to leave no blot upon my political escutcheon. Say to
his Excellency, the successor of the immortal Washington in the Seat of
Power, that the patronage of my office will be bestowed with an eye
single to securing the greatest good to the greatest number, the
stability of republican institutions and the triumph of the party in all
elections; and to this I pledge my life, my fortune and my sacred honor.
I shall at once prepare an appropriate response to the speech of the
chairman of the committee deputed to inform me of my appointment, and I
trust the sentiments therein expressed will strike a sympathetic chord
in the public heart, as well as command the Executive approval.

_From the Secretary of War to Major-General Blount Wardorg, Commanding
the Military Department of Eastern Kentucky._

WASHINGTON, November 14, 1861.

I have assigned to your department Brigadier-General Jupiter Doke, who
will soon proceed to Distilleryville, on the Little Buttermilk River,
and take command of the Illinois Brigade at that point, reporting to you
by letter for orders. Is the route from Covington by way of Bluegrass,
Opossum Corners and Horsecave still infested with bushwhackers, as
reported in your last dispatch? I have a plan for cleaning them out.

_From Major-General Blount Wardorg to the Secretary of War._

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY, November 20, 1861.

The name and services of Brigadier-General Doke are unfamiliar to me,
but I shall be pleased to have the advantage of his skill. The route
from Covington to Distilleryville _via_ Opossum Corners and Horsecave I
have been compelled to abandon to the enemy, whose guerilla warfare made
it possible to keep it open without detaching too many troops from the
front. The brigade at Distilleryville is supplied by steamboats up the
Little Buttermilk.

_From the Secretary of War to Brigadier-General Jupiter Doke, Hardpan,

WASHINGTON, November 26, 1861.

I deeply regret that your commission had been forwarded by mail before
the receipt of your letter of acceptance; so we must dispense with the
formality of official notification to you by a committee. The President
is highly gratified by the noble and patriotic sentiments of your
letter, and directs that you proceed at once to your command at
Distilleryville, Kentucky, and there report by letter to Major-General
Wardorg at Louisville, for orders. It is important that the strictest
secrecy be observed regarding your movements until you have passed
Covington, as it is desired to hold the enemy in front of
Distilleryville until you are within three days of him. Then if your
approach is known it will operate as a demonstration against his right
and cause him to strengthen it with his left now at Memphis, Tennessee,
which it is desirable to capture first. Go by way of Bluegrass, Opossum
Corners and Horsecave. All officers are expected to be in full uniform
when _en route_ to the front.

_From Brigadier-General Jupiter Doke to the Secretary of War._

COVINGTON, KENTUCKY, December 7, 1861.

I arrived yesterday at this point, and have given my proxy to Joel
Briller, Esq., my wife's cousin, and a staunch Republican, who will
worthily represent Posey County in field and forum. He points with pride
to a stainless record in the halls of legislation, which have often
echoed to his soul-stirring eloquence on questions which lie at the very
foundation of popular government. He has been called the Patrick Henry
of Hardpan, where he has done yeoman's service in the cause of civil and
religious liberty. Mr. Briller left for Distilleryville last evening,
and the standard bearer of the Democratic host confronting that
stronghold of freedom will find him a lion in his path. I have been
asked to remain here and deliver some addresses to the people in a local
contest involving issues of paramount importance. That duty being
performed, I shall in person enter the arena of armed debate and move in
the direction of the heaviest firing, burning my ships behind me. I
forward by this mail to his Excellency the President a request for the
appointment of my son, Jabez Leonidas Doke, as postmaster at Hardpan. I
would take it, sir, as a great favor if you would give the application a
strong oral indorsement, as the appointment is in the line of reform. Be
kind enough to inform me what are the emoluments of the office I hold in
the military arm, and if they are by salary or fees. Are there any
perquisites? My mileage account will be transmitted monthly.

_From Brigadier-General Jupiter Doke to Major General Blount Wardorg._


I arrived on the tented field yesterday by steamboat, the recent storms
having inundated the landscape, covering, I understand, the greater part
of a congressional district. I am pained to find that Joel Briller,
Esq., a prominent citizen of Posey County, Illinois, and a far-seeing
statesman who held my proxy, and who a month ago should have been
thundering at the gates of Disunion, has not been heard from, and has
doubtless been sacrificed upon the altar of his country. In him the
American people lose a bulwark of freedom. I would respectfully move
that you designate a committee to draw up resolutions of respect to his
memory, and that the office holders and men under your command wear the
usual badge of mourning for thirty days. I shall at once place myself at
the head of affairs here, and am now ready to entertain any suggestions
which you may make, looking to the better enforcement of the laws in
this commonwealth. The militant Democrats on the other side of the river
appear to be contemplating extreme measures. They have two large cannons
facing this way, and yesterday morning, I am told, some of them came
down to the water's edge and remained in session for some time, making
infamous allegations.

_From the Diary of Brigadier-General Jupiter Doke, at Distilleryville,

January 12, 1862.--On my arrival yesterday at the Henry Clay Hotel
(named in honor of the late far-seeing statesman) I was waited on by a
delegation consisting of the three colonels intrusted with the command
of the regiments of my brigade. It was an occasion that will be
memorable in the political annals of America. Forwarded copies of the
speeches to the Posey _Maverick_, to be spread upon the record of the
ages. The gentlemen composing the delegation unanimously reaffirmed
their devotion to the principles of national unity and the Republican
party. Was gratified to recognize in them men of political prominence
and untarnished escutcheons. At the subsequent banquet, sentiments of
lofty patriotism were expressed. Wrote to Mr. Wardorg at Louisville for

January 13, 1862.--Leased a prominent residence (the former incumbent
being absent in arms against his country) for the term of one year, and
wrote at once for Mrs. Brigadier-General Doke and the vital
issues--excepting Jabez Leonidas. In the camp of treason opposite here
there are supposed to be three thousand misguided men laying the ax at
the root of the tree of liberty. They have a clear majority, many of our
men having returned without leave to their constituents. We could
probably not poll more than two thousand votes. Have advised my heads of
regiments to make a canvass of those remaining, all bolters to be read
out of the phalanx.

January 14, 1862.--Wrote to the President, asking for the contract to
supply this command with firearms and regalia through my brother-in-law,
prominently identified with the manufacturing interests of the country.
Club of cannon soldiers arrived at Jayhawk, three miles back from here,
on their way to join us in battle array. Marched my whole brigade to
Jayhawk to escort them into town, but their chairman, mistaking us for
the opposing party, opened fire on the head of the procession and by the
extraordinary noise of the cannon balls (I had no conception of it!) so
frightened my horse that I was unseated without a contest. The meeting
adjourned in disorder and returning to camp I found that a deputation of
the enemy had crossed the river in our absence and made a division of
the loaves and fishes. Wrote to the President, applying for the
Gubernatorial Chair of the Territory of Idaho.

_From Editorial Article in the Posey, Illinois, "Maverick," January 20,

Brigadier-General Doke's thrilling account, in another column, of the
Battle of Distilleryville will make the heart of every loyal Illinoisian
leap with exultation. The brilliant exploit marks an era in military
history, and as General Doke says, "lays broad and deep the foundations
of American prowess in arms." As none of the troops engaged, except the
gallant author-chieftain (a host in himself) hails from Posey County, he
justly considered that a list of the fallen would only occupy our
valuable space to the exclusion of more important matter, but his
account of the strategic ruse by which he apparently abandoned his camp
and so inveigled a perfidious enemy into it for the purpose of murdering
the sick, the unfortunate _countertempus_ at Jayhawk, the subsequent
dash upon a trapped enemy flushed with a supposed success, driving their
terrified legions across an impassable river which precluded
pursuit--all these "moving accidents by flood and field" are related
with a pen of fire and have all the terrible interest of romance.

Verily, truth is stranger than fiction and the pen is mightier than the
sword. When by the graphic power of the art preservative of all arts we
are brought face to face with such glorious events as these, the
_Maverick's_ enterprise in securing for its thousands of readers the
services of so distinguished a contributor as the Great Captain who made
the history as well as wrote it seems a matter of almost secondary
importance. For President in 1864 (subject to the decision of the
Republican National Convention) Brigadier-General Jupiter Doke, of

_From Major-General Blount Wardorg to Brigadier-General Jupiter Doke._

LOUISVILLE, January 22, 1862.

Your letter apprising me of your arrival at Distilleryville was delayed
in transmission, having only just been received (open) through the
courtesy of the Confederate department commander under a flag of truce.
He begs me to assure you that he would consider it an act of cruelty to
trouble you, and I think it would be. Maintain, however, a threatening
attitude, but at the least pressure retire. Your position is simply an
outpost which it is not intended to hold.

_From Major-General Blount Wardorg to the Secretary of War._

LOUISVILLE, January 23, 1862.

I have certain information that the enemy has concentrated twenty
thousand troops of all arms on the Little Buttermilk. According to your
assignment, General Doke is in command of the small brigade of raw
troops opposing them. It is no part of my plan to contest the enemy's
advance at that point, but I cannot hold myself responsible for any
reverses to the brigade mentioned, under its present commander. I think
him a fool.

_From the Secretary of War to Major-General Blount Wardorg._

WASHINGTON, February 1, 1862.

The President has great faith in General Doke. If your estimate of him
is correct, however, he would seem to be singularly well placed where he
now is, as your plans appear to contemplate a considerable sacrifice for
whatever advantages you expect to gain.

_From Brigadier-General Jupiter Doke to Major-General Blount Wardorg._

DISTILLERYVILLE, February 1, 1862.

To-morrow I shall remove my headquarters to Jayhawk in order to point
the way whenever my brigade retires from Distilleryville, as
foreshadowed by your letter of the 22d ult. I have appointed a Committee
on Retreat, the minutes of whose first meeting I transmit to you. You
will perceive that the committee having been duly organized by the
election of a chairman and secretary, a resolution (prepared by myself)
was adopted, to the effect that in case treason again raises her hideous
head on this side of the river every man of the brigade is to mount a
mule, the procession to move promptly in the direction of Louisville and
the loyal North. In preparation for such an emergency I have for some
time been collecting mules from the resident Democracy, and have on hand
2300 in a field at Jayhawk. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty!

_From Major-General Gibeon J. Buxter, C.S.A., to the Confederate
Secretary of War._

BUNG STATION, KENTUCKY, February 4, 1862.

On the night of the 2d inst., our entire force, consisting of 25,000 men
and thirty-two field pieces, under command of Major-General Simmons B.
Flood, crossed by a ford to the north side of Little Buttermilk River at
a point three miles above Distilleryville and moved obliquely down and
away from the stream, to strike the Covington turnpike at Jayhawk; the
object being, as you know, to capture Covington, destroy Cincinnati and
occupy the Ohio Valley. For some months there had been in our front only
a small brigade of undisciplined troops, apparently without a commander,
who were useful to us, for by not disturbing them we could create an
impression of our weakness. But the movement on Jayhawk having isolated
them, I was about to detach an Alabama regiment to bring them in, my
division being the leading one, when an earth-shaking rumble was felt
and heard, and suddenly the head-of-column was struck by one of the
terrible tornadoes for which this region is famous, and utterly
annihilated. The tornado, I believe, passed along the entire length of
the road back to the ford, dispersing or destroying our entire army; but
of this I cannot be sure, for I was lifted from the earth insensible and
blown back to the south side of the river. Continuous firing all night
on the north side and the reports of such of our men as have recrossed
at the ford convince me that the Yankee brigade has exterminated the
disabled survivors. Our loss has been uncommonly heavy. Of my own
division of 15,000 infantry, the casualties--killed, wounded, captured,
and missing--are 14,994. Of General Dolliver Billow's division, 11,200
strong, I can find but two officers and a nigger cook. Of the artillery,
800 men, none has reported on this side of the river. General Flood is
dead. I have assumed command of the expeditionary force, but owing to
the heavy losses have deemed it advisable to contract my line of
supplies as rapidly as possible. I shall push southward to-morrow
morning early. The purposes of the campaign have been as yet but partly

_From Major-General Dolliver Billows, C.S.A., to the Confederate
Secretary of War._

BUHAC, KENTUCKY, February 5, 1862.

... But during the 2d they had, unknown to us, been reinforced by fifty
thousand cavalry, and being apprised of our movement by a spy, this vast
body was drawn up in the darkness at Jayhawk, and as the head of our
column reached that point at about 11 P.M., fell upon it with
astonishing fury, destroying the division of General Buxter in an
instant. General Baumschank's brigade of artillery, which was in the
rear, may have escaped--I did not wait to see, but withdrew my division
to the river at a point several miles above the ford, and at daylight
ferried it across on two fence rails lashed together with a suspender.
Its losses, from an effective strength of 11,200, are 11,199. General
Buxter is dead. I am changing my base to Mobile, Alabama.

_From Brigadier-General Schneddeker Baumschank, C.S.A., to the
Confederate Secretary of War._

IODINE, KENTUCKY, February 6, 1862.

... Yoost den somdings occur, I know nod vot it vos--somdings
mackneefcent, but it vas nod vor--und I finds meinselluf, afder leedle
viles, in dis blace, midout a hors und mit no men und goons. Sheneral
Peelows is deadt, You will blease be so goot as to resign me--I vights
no more in a dam gontry vere I gets vipped und knows nod how it vos

_Resolutions of Congress_, February 15, 1862.

_Resolved_, That the thanks of Congress are due, and hereby tendered, to
Brigadier-General Jupiter Doke and the gallant men under his command for
their unparalleled feat of attacking--themselves only 2000 strong--an
army of 25,000 men and utterly overthrowing it, killing 5327, making
prisoners of 19,003, of whom more than half were wounded, taking 32
guns, 20,000 stand of small arms and, in short, the enemy's entire

_Resolved_, That for this unexampled victory the President be requested
to designate a day of thanksgiving and public celebration of religious
rites in the various churches.

_Resolved_, That he be requested, in further commemoration of the great
event, and in reward of the gallant spirits whose deeds have added such
imperishable lustre to the American arms, to appoint, with the advice
and consent of the Senate, the following officer:

One major-general.

_Statement of Mr. Hannibal Alcazar Peyton, of Jayhawk, Kentucky._

Dat wus a almighty dark night, sho', and dese yere ole eyes aint wuf
shuks, but I's got a year like a sque'l, an' w'en I cotch de mummer o'
v'ices I knowed dat gang b'long on de far side o' de ribber. So I jes'
runs in de house an' wakes Marse Doke an' tells him: "Skin outer dis fo'
yo' life!" An' de Lo'd bress my soul! ef dat man didn' go right fru de
winder in his shir' tail an' break for to cross de mule patch! An' dem
twenty-free hunerd mules dey jes' t'nk it is de debble hese'f wid de
brandin' iron, an' dey bu'st outen dat patch like a yarthquake, an' pile
inter de upper ford road, an' flash down it five deep, an' it full o'
Con-fed'rates from en' to en'!...


The circumstances under which Joram Turmore became a widower have never
been popularly understood. I know them, naturally, for I am Joram
Turmore; and my wife, the late Elizabeth Mary Turmore, is by no means
ignorant of them; but although she doubtless relates them, yet they
remain a secret, for not a soul has ever believed her.

When I married Elizabeth Mary Johnin she was very wealthy, otherwise I
could hardly have afforded to marry, for I had not a cent, and Heaven
had not put into my heart any intention to earn one. I held the
Professorship of Cats in the University of Graymaulkin, and scholastic
pursuits had unfitted me for the heat and burden of business or labor.
Moreover, I could not forget that I was a Turmore--a member of a family
whose motto from the time of William of Normandy has been _Laborare est
errare_. The only known infraction of the sacred family tradition
occurred when Sir Aldebaran Turmore de Peters-Turmore, an illustrious
master burglar of the seventeenth century, personally assisted at a
difficult operation undertaken by some of his workmen. That blot upon
our escutcheon cannot be contemplated without the most poignant

My incumbency of the Chair of Cats in the Graymaulkin University had
not, of course, been marked by any instance of mean industry. There had
never, at any one time, been more than two students of the Noble
Science, and by merely repeating the manuscript lectures of my
predecessor, which I had found among his effects (he died at sea on his
way to Malta) I could sufficiently sate their famine for knowledge
without really earning even the distinction which served in place of

Naturally, under the straitened circumstances, I regarded Elizabeth Mary
as a kind of special Providence. She unwisely refused to share her
fortune with me, but for that I cared nothing; for, although by the laws
of that country (as is well known) a wife has control of her separate
property during her life, it passes to the husband at her death; nor can
she dispose of it otherwise by will. The mortality among wives is
considerable, but not excessive.

Having married Elizabeth Mary and, as it were, ennobled her by making
her a Turmore, I felt that the manner of her death ought, in some sense,
to match her social distinction. If I should remove her by any of the
ordinary marital methods I should incur a just reproach, as one
destitute of a proper family pride. Yet I could not hit upon a suitable

In this emergency I decided to consult the Turmore archives, a priceless
collection of documents, comprising the records of the family from the
time of its founder in the seventh century of our era. I knew that among
these sacred muniments I should find detailed accounts of all the
principal murders committed by my sainted ancestors for forty
generations. From that mass of papers I could hardly fail to derive the
most valuable suggestions.

The collection contained also most interesting relics. There were
patents of nobility granted to my forefathers for daring and ingenious
removals of pretenders to thrones, or occupants of them; stars, crosses
and other decorations attesting services of the most secret and
unmentionable character; miscellaneous gifts from the world's greatest
conspirators, representing an intrinsic money value beyond computation.
There were robes, jewels, swords of honor, and every kind of
"testimonials of esteem"; a king's skull fashioned into a wine cup; the
title deeds to vast estates, long alienated by confiscation, sale, or
abandonment; an illuminated breviary that had belonged to Sir Aldebaran
Turmore de Peters-Turmore of accursed memory; embalmed ears of several
of the family's most renowned enemies; the small intestine of a certain
unworthy Italian statesman inimical to Turmores, which, twisted into a
jumping rope, had served the youth of six kindred generations--mementoes
and souvenirs precious beyond the appraisals of imagination, but by the
sacred mandates of tradition and sentiment forever inalienable by sale
or gift.

As the head of the family, I was custodian of all these priceless
heirlooms, and for their safe keeping had constructed in the basement of
my dwelling a strong-room of massive masonry, whose solid stone walls
and single iron door could defy alike the earthquake's shock, the
tireless assaults of Time, and Cupidity's unholy hand.

To this thesaurus of the soul, redolent of sentiment and tenderness, and
rich in suggestions of crime, I now repaired for hints upon
assassination. To my unspeakable astonishment and grief I found it
empty! Every shelf, every chest, every coffer had been rifled. Of that
unique and incomparable collection not a vestige remained! Yet I proved
that until I had myself unlocked the massive metal door, not a bolt nor
bar had been disturbed; the seals upon the lock had been intact.

I passed the night in alternate lamentation and research, equally
fruitless, the mystery was impenetrable to conjecture, the pain
invincible to balm. But never once throughout that dreadful night did my
firm spirit relinquish its high design against Elizabeth Mary, and
daybreak found me more resolute than before to harvest the fruits of my
marriage. My great loss seemed but to bring me into nearer spiritual
relations with my dead ancestors, and to lay upon me a new and more
inevitable obedience to the suasion that spoke in every globule of my

My plan of action was soon formed, and procuring a stout cord I entered
my wife's bedroom finding her, as I expected, in a sound sleep. Before
she was awake, I had her bound fast, hand and foot. She was greatly
surprised and pained, but heedless of her remonstrances, delivered in a
high key, I carried her into the now rifled strong-room, which I had
never suffered her to enter, and of whose treasures I had not apprised
her. Seating her, still bound, in an angle of the wall, I passed the
next two days and nights in conveying bricks and mortar to the spot, and
on the morning of the third day had her securely walled in, from floor
to ceiling. All this time I gave no further heed to her pleas for mercy
than (on her assurance of non-resistance, which I am bound to say she
honorably observed) to grant her the freedom of her limbs. The space
allowed her was about four feet by six. As I inserted the last bricks of
the top course, in contact with the ceiling of the strong-room, she bade
me farewell with what I deemed the composure of despair, and I rested
from my work, feeling that I had faithfully observed the traditions of
an ancient and illustrious family. My only bitter reflection, so far as
my own conduct was concerned, came of the consciousness that in the
performance of my design I had labored; but this no living soul would
ever know.

After a night's rest I went to the Judge of the Court of Successions and
Inheritances and made a true and sworn relation of all that I had
done--except that I ascribed to a servant the manual labor of building
the wall. His honor appointed a court commissioner, who made a careful
examination of the work, and upon his report Elizabeth Mary Turmore
was, at the end of a week, formally pronounced dead. By due process of
law I was put into possession of her estate, and although this was not
by hundreds of thousands of dollars as valuable as my lost treasures, it
raised me from poverty to affluence and brought me the respect of the
great and good.

Some six months after these events strange rumors reached me that the
ghost of my deceased wife had been seen in several places about the
country, but always at a considerable distance from Graymaulkin. These
rumors, which I was unable to trace to any authentic source, differed
widely in many particulars, but were alike in ascribing to the
apparition a certain high degree of apparent worldly prosperity combined
with an audacity most uncommon in ghosts. Not only was the spirit
attired in most costly raiment, but it walked at noonday, and even
drove! I was inexpressibly annoyed by these reports, and thinking there
might be something more than superstition in the popular belief that
only the spirits of the unburied dead still walk the earth, I took some
workmen equipped with picks and crowbars into the now long unentered
strong-room, and ordered them to demolish the brick wall that I had
built about the partner of my joys. I was resolved to give the body of
Elizabeth Mary such burial as I thought her immortal part might be
willing to accept as an equivalent to the privilege of ranging at will
among the haunts of the living.

In a few minutes we had broken down the wall and, thrusting a lamp
through the breach, I looked in. Nothing! Not a bone, not a lock of
hair, not a shred of clothing--the narrow space which, upon my
affidavit, had been legally declared to hold all that was mortal of the
late Mrs. Turmore was absolutely empty! This amazing disclosure, coming
upon a mind already overwrought with too much of mystery and excitement,
was more than I could bear. I shrieked aloud and fell in a fit. For
months afterward I lay between life and death, fevered and delirious;
nor did I recover until my physician had had the providence to take a
case of valuable jewels from my safe and leave the country.

The next summer I had occasion to visit my wine cellar, in one corner of
which I had built the now long disused strong-room. In moving a cask of
Madeira I struck it with considerable force against the partition wall,
and was surprised to observe that it displaced two large square stones
forming a part of the wall.

Applying my hands to these, I easily pushed them out entirely, and
looking through saw that they had fallen into the niche in which I had
immured my lamented wife; facing the opening which their fall left, and
at a distance of four feet, was the brickwork which my own hands had
made for that unfortunate gentlewoman's restraint. At this significant
revelation I began a search of the wine cellar. Behind a row of casks I
found four historically interesting but intrinsically valueless objects:

First, the mildewed remains of a ducal robe of state (Florentine) of the
eleventh century; second, an illuminated vellum breviary with the name
of Sir Aldebaran Turmore de Peters-Turmore inscribed in colors on the
title page; third, a human skull fashioned into a drinking cup and
deeply stained with wine; fourth, the iron cross of a Knight Commander
of the Imperial Austrian Order of Assassins by Poison.

That was all--not an object having commercial value, no papers--nothing.
But this was enough to clear up the mystery of the strong-room. My wife
had early divined the existence and purpose of that apartment, and with
the skill amounting to genius had effected an entrance by loosening the
two stones in the wall.

Through that opening she had at several times abstracted the entire
collection, which doubtless she had succeeded in converting into coin of
the realm. When with an unconscious justice which deprives me of all
satisfaction in the memory I decided to build her into the wall, by some
malign fatality I selected that part of it in which were these movable
stones, and doubtless before I had fairly finished my bricklaying she
had removed them and, slipping through into the wine cellar, replaced
them as they were originally laid. From the cellar she had easily
escaped unobserved, to enjoy her infamous gains in distant parts. I have
endeavored to procure a warrant, but the Lord High Baron of the Court of
Indictment and Conviction reminds me that she is legally dead, and says
my only course is to go before the Master in Cadavery and move for a
writ of disinterment and constructive revival. So it looks as if I must
suffer without redress this great wrong at the hands of a woman devoid
alike of principle and shame.


I was born of poor because honest parents, and until I was twenty-three
years old never knew the possibilities of happiness latent in another
person's coin. At that time Providence threw me into a deep sleep and
revealed to me in a dream the folly of labor. "Behold," said a vision of
a holy hermit, "the poverty and squalor of your lot and listen to the
teachings of nature. You rise in the morning from your pallet of straw
and go forth to your daily labor in the fields. The flowers nod their
heads in friendly salutation as you pass. The lark greets you with a
burst of song. The early sun sheds his temperate beams upon you, and
from the dewy grass you inhale an atmosphere cool and grateful to your
lungs. All nature seems to salute you with the joy of a generous servant
welcoming a faithful master. You are in harmony with her gentlest mood
and your soul sings within you. You begin your daily task at the plow,
hopeful that the noonday will fulfill the promise of the morn, maturing
the charms of the landscape and confirming its benediction upon your
spirit. You follow the plow until fatigue invokes repose, and seating
yourself upon the earth at the end of your furrow you expect to enjoy in
fulness the delights of which you did but taste.

"Alas! the sun has climbed into a brazen sky and his beams are become a
torrent. The flowers have closed their petals, confining their perfume
and denying their colors to the eye. Coolness no longer exhales from the
grass: the dew has vanished and the dry surface of the fields repeats
the fierce heat of the sky. No longer the birds of heaven salute you
with melody, but the jay harshly upbraids you from the edge of the
copse. Unhappy man! all the gentle and healing ministrations of nature
are denied you in punishment of your sin. You have broken the First
Commandment of the Natural Decalogue: you have labored!"

Awakening from my dream, I collected my few belongings, bade adieu to my
erring parents and departed out of that land, pausing at the grave of my
grandfather, who had been a priest, to take an oath that never again,
Heaven helping me, would I earn an honest penny.

How long I traveled I know not, but I came at last to a great city by
the sea, where I set up as a physician. The name of that place I do not
now remember, for such were my activity and renown in my new profession
that the Aldermen, moved by pressure of public opinion, altered it, and
thenceforth the place was known as the City of the Gone Away. It is
needless to say that I had no knowledge of medicine, but by securing the
service of an eminent forger I obtained a diploma purporting to have
been granted by the Royal Quackery of Charlatanic Empiricism at Hoodos,
which, framed in immortelles and suspended by a bit of _crêpe_ to a
willow in front of my office, attracted the ailing in great numbers. In
connection with my dispensary I conducted one of the largest undertaking
establishments ever known, and as soon as my means permitted, purchased
a wide tract of land and made it into a cemetery. I owned also some very
profitable marble works on one side of the gateway to the cemetery, and
on the other an extensive flower garden. My Mourner's Emporium was
patronized by the beauty, fashion and sorrow of the city. In short, I
was in a very prosperous way of business, and within a year was able to
send for my parents and establish my old father very comfortably as a
receiver of stolen goods--an act which I confess was saved from the
reproach of filial gratitude only by my exaction of all the profits.

But the vicissitudes of fortune are avoidable only by practice of the
sternest indigence: human foresight cannot provide against the envy of
the gods and the tireless machinations of Fate. The widening circle of
prosperity grows weaker as it spreads until the antagonistic forces
which it has pushed back are made powerful by compression to resist and
finally overwhelm. So great grew the renown of my skill in medicine that
patients were brought to me from all the four quarters of the globe.
Burdensome invalids whose tardiness in dying was a perpetual grief to
their friends; wealthy testators whose legatees were desirous to come by
their own; superfluous children of penitent parents and dependent
parents of frugal children; wives of husbands ambitious to remarry and
husbands of wives without standing in the courts of divorce--these and
all conceivable classes of the surplus population were conducted to my
dispensary in the City of the Gone Away. They came in incalculable

Government agents brought me caravans of orphans, paupers, lunatics and
all who had become a public charge. My skill in curing orphanism and
pauperism was particularly acknowledged by a grateful parliament.

Naturally, all this promoted the public prosperity, for although I got
the greater part of the money that strangers expended in the city, the
rest went into the channels of trade, and I was myself a liberal
investor, purchaser and employer, and a patron of the arts and sciences.
The City of the Gone Away grew so rapidly that in a few years it had
inclosed my cemetery, despite its own constant growth. In that fact lay
the lion that rent me.

The Aldermen declared my cemetery a public evil and decided to take it
from me, remove the bodies to another place and make a park of it. I was
to be paid for it and could easily bribe the appraisers to fix a high
price, but for a reason which will appear the decision gave me little
joy. It was in vain that I protested against the sacrilege of disturbing
the holy dead, although this was a powerful appeal, for in that land the
dead are held in religious veneration. Temples are built in their honor
and a separate priesthood maintained at the public expense, whose only
duty is performance of memorial services of the most solemn and touching
kind. On four days in the year there is a Festival of the Good, as it is
called, when all the people lay by their work or business and, headed by
the priests, march in procession through the cemeteries, adorning the
graves and praying in the temples. However bad a man's life may be, it
is believed that when dead he enters into a state of eternal and
inexpressible happiness. To signify a doubt of this is an offense
punishable by death. To deny burial to the dead, or to exhume a buried
body, except under sanction of law by special dispensation and with
solemn ceremony, is a crime having no stated penalty because no one has
ever had the hardihood to commit it.

All these considerations were in my favor, yet so well assured were the
people and their civic officers that my cemetery was injurious to the
public health that it was condemned and appraised, and with terror in my
heart I received three times its value and began to settle up my affairs
with all speed.

A week later was the day appointed for the formal inauguration of the
ceremony of removing the bodies. The day was fine and the entire
population of the city and surrounding country was present at the
imposing religious rites. These were directed by the mortuary priesthood
in full canonicals. There was propitiatory sacrifice in the Temples of
the Once, followed by a processional pageant of great splendor, ending
at the cemetery. The Great Mayor in his robe of state led the
procession. He was armed with a golden spade and followed by one hundred
male and female singers, clad all in white and chanting the Hymn to the
Gone Away. Behind these came the minor priesthood of the temples, all
the civic authorities, habited in their official apparel, each carrying
a living pig as an offering to the gods of the dead. Of the many
divisions of the line, the last was formed by the populace, with
uncovered heads, sifting dust into their hair in token of humility. In
front of the mortuary chapel in the midst of the necropolis, the Supreme
Priest stood in gorgeous vestments, supported on each hand by a line of
bishops and other high dignitaries of his prelacy, all frowning with the
utmost austerity. As the Great Mayor paused in the Presence, the minor
clergy, the civic authorities, the choir and populace closed in and
encompassed the spot. The Great Mayor, laying his golden spade at the
feet of the Supreme Priest, knelt in silence.

"Why comest thou here, presumptuous mortal?" said the Supreme Priest in
clear, deliberate tones. "Is it thy unhallowed purpose with this
implement to uncover the mysteries of death and break the repose of the

The Great Mayor, still kneeling, drew from his robe a document with
portentous seals: "Behold, O ineffable, thy servant, having warrant of
his people, entreateth at thy holy hands the custody of the Good, to the
end and purpose that they lie in fitter earth, by consecration duly
prepared against their coming."

With that he placed in the sacerdotal hands the order of the Council of
Aldermen decreeing the removal. Merely touching the parchment, the
Supreme Priest passed it to the Head Necropolitan at his side, and
raising his hands relaxed the severity of his countenance and exclaimed:
"The gods comply."

Down the line of prelates on either side, his gesture, look and words
were successively repeated. The Great Mayor rose to his feet, the choir
began a solemn chant and, opportunely, a funeral car drawn by ten white
horses with black plumes rolled in at the gate and made its way through
the parting crowd to the grave selected for the occasion--that of a high
official whom I had treated for chronic incumbency. The Great Mayor
touched the grave with his golden spade (which he then presented to the
Supreme Priest) and two stalwart diggers with iron ones set vigorously
to work.

At that moment I was observed to leave the cemetery and the country; for
a report of the rest of the proceedings I am indebted to my sainted
father, who related it in a letter to me, written in jail the night
before he had the irreparable misfortune to take the kink out of a rope.

As the workmen proceeded with their excavation, four bishops stationed
themselves at the corners of the grave and in the profound silence of
the multitude, broken otherwise only by the harsh grinding sound of
spades, repeated continuously, one after another, the solemn invocations
and responses from the Ritual of the Disturbed, imploring the blessed
brother to forgive. But the blessed brother was not there. Full fathom
two they mined for him in vain, then gave it up. The priests were
visibly disconcerted, the populace was aghast, for that grave was
indubitably vacant.

After a brief consultation with the Supreme Priest, the Great Mayor
ordered the workmen to open another grave. The ritual was omitted this
time until the coffin should be uncovered. There was no coffin, no body.

The cemetery was now a scene of the wildest confusion and dismay. The
people shouted and ran hither and thither, gesticulating, clamoring, all
talking at once, none listening. Some ran for spades, fire-shovels,
hoes, sticks, anything. Some brought carpenters' adzes, even chisels
from the marble works, and with these inadequate aids set to work upon
the first graves they came to. Others fell upon the mounds with their
bare hands, scraping away the earth as eagerly as dogs digging for
marmots. Before nightfall the surface of the greater part of the
cemetery had been upturned; every grave had been explored to the bottom
and thousands of men were tearing away at the interspaces with as
furious a frenzy as exhaustion would permit. As night came on torches
were lighted, and in the sinister glare these frantic mortals, looking
like a legion of fiends performing some unholy rite, pursued their
disappointing work until they had devastated the entire area. But not a
body did they find--not even a coffin.

The explanation is exceedingly simple. An important part of my income
had been derived from the sale of _cadavres_ to medical colleges, which
never before had been so well supplied, and which, in added recognition
of my services to science, had all bestowed upon me diplomas, degrees
and fellowships without number. But their demand for _cadavres_ was
unequal to my supply: by even the most prodigal extravagances they could
not consume the one-half of the products of my skill as a physician. As
to the rest, I had owned and operated the most extensive and thoroughly
appointed soapworks in all the country. The excellence of my "Toilet
Homoline" was attested by certificates from scores of the saintliest
theologians, and I had one in autograph from Badelina Fatti the most
famous living soaprano.


In the days of the Civil War practical joking had not, I think, fallen
into that disrepute which characterizes it now. That, doubtless, was
owing to our extreme youth--men were much younger than now, and evermore
your very young man has a boisterous spirit, running easily to
horse-play. You cannot think how young the men were in the early
sixties! Why, the average age of the entire Federal Army was not more
than twenty-five; I doubt if it was more than twenty-three, but not
having the statistics on that point (if there are any) I want to be
moderate: we will say twenty-five. It is true a man of twenty-five was
in that heroic time a good deal more of a man than one of that age is
now; you could see that by looking at him. His face had nothing of that
unripeness so conspicuous in his successor. I never see a young fellow
now without observing how disagreeably young he really is; but during the
war we did not think of a man's age at all unless he happened to be
pretty well along in life. In that case one could not help it, for the
unloveliness of age assailed the human countenance then much earlier
than now; the result, I suppose, of hard service--perhaps, to some
extent, of hard drink, for, bless my soul! we did shed the blood of the
grape and the grain abundantly during the war. I remember thinking
General Grant, who could not have been more than forty, a pretty well
preserved old chap, considering his habits. As to men of middle age--say
from fifty to sixty--why, they all looked fit to personate the Last of
the Hittites, or the Madagascarene Methuselah, in a museum. Depend upon
it, my friends, men of that time were greatly younger than men are
to-day, but looked much older. The change is quite remarkable.

I said that practical joking had not then gone out of fashion. It had
not, at least, in the army; though possibly in the more serious life of
the civilian it had no place except in the form of tarring and
feathering an occasional "copperhead." You all know, I suppose, what a
"copperhead" was, so I will go directly at my story without introductory
remark, as is my way.

It was a few days before the battle of Nashville. The enemy had driven
us up out of northern Georgia and Alabama. At Nashville we had turned at
bay and fortified, while old Pap Thomas, our commander, hurried down
reinforcements and supplies from Louisville. Meantime Hood, the
Confederate commander, had partly invested us and lay close enough to
have tossed shells into the heart of the town. As a rule he
abstained--he was afraid of killing the families of his own soldiers, I
suppose, a great many of whom had lived there. I sometimes wondered what
were the feelings of those fellows, gazing over our heads at their own
dwellings, where their wives and children or their aged parents were
perhaps suffering for the necessaries of life, and certainly (so their
reasoning would run) cowering under the tyranny and power of the
barbarous Yankees.

To begin, then, at the beginning, I was serving at that time on the
staff of a division commander whose name I shall not disclose, for I am
relating facts, and the person upon whom they bear hardest may have
surviving relatives who would not care to have him traced. Our
headquarters were in a large dwelling which stood just behind our line
of works. This had been hastily abandoned by the civilian occupants, who
had left everything pretty much as it was--had no place to store it,
probably, and trusted that Heaven would preserve it from Federal
cupidity and Confederate artillery. With regard to the latter we were as
solicitous as they.

Rummaging about in some of the chambers and closets one evening, some of
us found an abundant supply of lady-gear--gowns, shawls, bonnets, hats,
petticoats and the Lord knows what; I could not at that time have named
the half of it. The sight of all this pretty plunder inspired one of us
with what he was pleased to call an "idea," which, when submitted to the
other scamps and scapegraces of the staff, met with instant and
enthusiastic approval. We proceeded at once to act upon it for the
undoing of one of our comrades.

Our selected victim was an aide, Lieutenant Haberton, so to call him. He
was a good soldier--as gallant a chap as ever wore spurs; but he had an
intolerable weakness: he was a lady-killer, and like most of his class,
even in those days, eager that all should know it. He never tired of
relating his amatory exploits, and I need not say how dismal that kind
of narrative is to all but the narrator. It would be dismal even if
sprightly and vivacious, for all men are rivals in woman's favor, and to
relate your successes to another man is to rouse in him a dumb
resentment, tempered by disbelief. You will not convince him that you
tell the tale for his entertainment; he will hear nothing in it but an
expression of your own vanity. Moreover, as most men, whether rakes or
not, are willing to be thought rakes, he is very likely to resent a
stupid and unjust inference which he suspects you to have drawn from his
reticence in the matter of his own adventures--namely, that he has had
none. If, on the other hand, he has had no scruple in the matter and his
reticence is due to lack of opportunity to talk, or of nimbleness in
taking advantage of it, why, then he will be surly because you "have the
floor" when he wants it himself. There are, in short, no circumstances
under which a man, even from the best of motives, or no motive at all,
can relate his feats of love without distinctly lowering himself in the
esteem of his male auditor; and herein lies a just punishment for such
as kiss and tell. In my younger days I was myself not entirely out of
favor with the ladies, and have a memory stored with much concerning
them which doubtless I might put into acceptable narrative had I not
undertaken another tale, and if it were not my practice to relate one
thing at a time, going straight away to the end, without digression.

Lieutenant Haberton was, it must be confessed, a singularly handsome man
with engaging manners. He was, I suppose, judging from the imperfect
view-point of my sex, what women call "fascinating." Now, the qualities
which make a man attractive to ladies entail a double disadvantage.
First, they are of a sort readily discerned by other men, and by none
more readily than by those who lack them. Their possessor, being feared
by all these, is habitually slandered by them in self-defense. To all
the ladies in whose welfare they deem themselves entitled to a voice and
interest they hint at the vices and general unworth of the "ladies' man"
in no uncertain terms, and to their wives relate without shame the most
monstrous falsehoods about him. Nor are they restrained by the
consideration that he is their friend; the qualities which have engaged
their own admiration make it necessary to warn away those to whom the
allurement would be a peril. So the man of charming personality, while
loved by all the ladies who know him well, yet not too well, must endure
with such fortitude as he may the consciousness that those others who
know him only "by reputation" consider him a shameless reprobate, a
vicious and unworthy man--a type and example of moral depravity. To name
the second disadvantage entailed by his charms: he commonly is.

In order to get forward with our busy story (and in my judgment a story
once begun should not suffer impedition) it is necessary to explain that
a young fellow attached to our headquarters as an orderly was notably
effeminate in face and figure. He was not more than seventeen and had a
perfectly smooth face and large lustrous eyes, which must have been the
envy of many a beautiful woman in those days. And how beautiful the
women of those days were! and how gracious! Those of the South showed in
their demeanor toward us Yankees something of _hauteur_, but, for my
part, I found it less insupportable than the studious indifference with
which one's attentions are received by the ladies of this new
generation, whom I certainly think destitute of sentiment and

This young orderly, whose name was Arman, we persuaded--by what
arguments I am not bound to say--to clothe himself in female attire and
personate a lady. When we had him arrayed to our satisfaction--and a
charming girl he looked--he was conducted to a sofa in the office of the
adjutant-general. That officer was in the secret, as indeed were all
excepting Haberton and the general; within the awful dignity hedging the
latter lay possibilities of disapproval which we were unwilling to

When all was ready I went to Haberton and said: "Lieutenant, there is a
young woman in the adjutant-general's office. She is the daughter of the
insurgent gentleman who owns this house, and has, I think, called to see
about its present occupancy. We none of us know just how to talk to her,
but we think perhaps you would say about the right thing--at least you
will say things in the right way. Would you mind coming down?"

The lieutenant would not mind; he made a hasty toilet and joined me. As
we were going along a passage toward the Presence we encountered a
formidable obstacle--the general.

"I say, Broadwood," he said, addressing me in the familiar manner which
meant that he was in excellent humor, "there's a lady in Lawson's
office. Looks like a devilish fine girl--came on some errand of mercy or
justice, no doubt. Have the goodness to conduct her to my quarters. I
won't saddle you youngsters with _all_ the business of this division,"
he added facetiously.

This was awkward; something had to be done.

"General," I said, "I did not think the lady's business of sufficient
importance to bother you with it. She is one of the Sanitary
Commission's nurses, and merely wants to see about some supplies for the
smallpox hospital where she is on duty. I'll send her in at once."

"You need not mind," said the general, moving on; "I dare say Lawson
will attend to the matter."

Ah, the gallant general! how little I thought, as I looked after his
retreating figure and laughed at the success of my ruse, that within the
week he would be "dead on the field of honor!" Nor was he the only one
of our little military household above whom gloomed the shadow of the
death angel, and who might almost have heard "the beating of his wings."
On that bleak December morning a few days later, when from an hour
before dawn until ten o'clock we sat on horseback on those icy hills,
waiting for General Smith to open the battle miles away to the right,
there were eight of us. At the close of the fighting there were three.
There is now one. Bear with him yet a little while, oh, thrifty
generation; he is but one of the horrors of war strayed from his era
into yours. He is only the harmless skeleton at your feast and
peace-dance, responding to your laughter and your footing it featly,
with rattling fingers and bobbing skull--albeit upon suitable occasion,
with a partner of his choosing, he might do his little dance with the
best of you.

As we entered the adjutant-general's office we observed that the entire
staff was there. The adjutant-general himself was exceedingly busy at
his desk. The commissary of subsistence played cards with the surgeon in
a bay window. The rest were in several parts of the room, reading or
conversing in low tones. On a sofa in a half lighted nook of the room,
at some distance from any of the groups, sat the "lady," closely veiled,
her eyes modestly fixed upon her toes.

"Madam," I said, advancing with Haberton, "this officer will be pleased
to serve you if it is in his power. I trust that it is."

With a bow I retired to the farther corner of the room and took part in
a conversation going on there, though I had not the faintest notion what
it was about, and my remarks had no relevancy to anything under the
heavens. A close observer would have noticed that we were all intently
watching Haberton and only "making believe" to do anything else.

He was worth watching, too; the fellow was simply an _édition de luxe_
of "Turveydrop on Deportment." As the "lady" slowly unfolded her tale of
grievances against our lawless soldiery and mentioned certain instances
of wanton disregard of property rights--among them, as to the imminent
peril of bursting our sides we partly overheard, the looting of her own
wardrobe--the look of sympathetic agony in Haberton's handsome face was
the very flower and fruit of histrionic art. His deferential and
assenting nods at her several statements were so exquisitely performed
that one could not help regretting their unsubstantial nature and the
impossibility of preserving them under glass for instruction and delight
of posterity. And all the time the wretch was drawing his chair nearer
and nearer. Once or twice he looked about to see if we were observing,
but we were in appearance blankly oblivious to all but one another and
our several diversions. The low hum of our conversation, the gentle
tap-tap of the cards as they fell in play and the furious scratching of
the adjutant-general's pen as he turned off countless pages of words
without sense were the only sounds heard. No--there was another: at long
intervals the distant boom of a heavy gun, followed by the approaching
rush of the shot. The enemy was amusing himself.

On these occasions the lady was perhaps not the only member of that
company who was startled, but she was startled more than the others,
sometimes rising from the sofa and standing with clasped hands, the
authentic portrait of terror and irresolution. It was no more than
natural that Haberton should at these times reseat her with infinite
tenderness, assuring her of her safety and regretting her peril in the
same breath. It was perhaps right that he should finally possess himself
of her gloved hand and a seat beside her on the sofa; but it certainly
was highly improper for him to be in the very act of possessing himself
of _both_ hands when--boom, _whiz_, BANG!

We all sprang to our feet. A shell had crashed into the house and
exploded in the room above us. Bushels of plaster fell among us. That
modest and murmurous young lady sprang erect.

"Jumping Jee-rusalem!" she cried.

Haberton, who had also risen, stood as one petrified--as a statue of
himself erected on the site of his assassination. He neither spoke, nor
moved, nor once took his eyes off the face of Orderly Arman, who was now
flinging his girl-gear right and left, exposing his charms in the most
shameless way; while out upon the night and away over the lighted camps
into the black spaces between the hostile lines rolled the billows of
our inexhaustible laughter! Ah, what a merry life it was in the old
heroic days when men had not forgotten how to laugh!

Haberton slowly came to himself. He looked about the room less blankly;
then by degrees fashioned his visage into the sickliest grin that ever
libeled all smiling. He shook his head and looked knowing.

"You can't fool _me_!" he said.


My Aunt Patience, who tilled a small farm in the state of Michigan, had
a favorite cow. This creature was not a good cow, nor a profitable one,
for instead of devoting a part of her leisure to secretion of milk and
production of veal she concentrated all her faculties on the study of
kicking. She would kick all day and get up in the middle of the night to
kick. She would kick at anything--hens, pigs, posts, loose stones, birds
in the air and fish leaping out of the water; to this impartial and
catholic-minded beef, all were equal--all similarly undeserving. Like
old Timotheus, who "raised a mortal to the skies," was my Aunt
Patience's cow; though, in the words of a later poet than Dryden, she
did it "more harder and more frequently." It was pleasing to see her
open a passage for herself through a populous barnyard. She would flash
out, right and left, first with one hind-leg and then with the other,
and would sometimes, under favoring conditions, have a considerable
number of domestic animals in the air at once.

Her kicks, too, were as admirable in quality as inexhaustible in
quantity. They were incomparably superior to those of the untutored kine
that had not made the art a life study--mere amateurs that kicked "by
ear," as they say in music. I saw her once standing in the road,
professedly fast asleep, and mechanically munching her cud with a sort
of Sunday morning lassitude, as one munches one's cud in a dream.
Snouting about at her side, blissfully unconscious of impending danger
and wrapped up in thoughts of his sweetheart, was a gigantic black
hog--a hog of about the size and general appearance of a yearling
rhinoceros. Suddenly, while I looked--without a visible movement on the
part of the cow--with never a perceptible tremor of her frame, nor a
lapse in the placid regularity of her chewing--that hog had gone away
from there--had utterly taken his leave. But away toward the pale
horizon a minute black speck was traversing the empyrean with the speed
of a meteor, and in a moment had disappeared, without audible report,
beyond the distant hills. It may have been that hog.

Currying cows is not, I think, a common practice, even in Michigan; but
as this one had never needed milking, of course she had to be subjected
to some equivalent form of persecution; and irritating her skin with a
currycomb was thought as disagreeable an attention as a thoughtful
affection could devise. At least she thought it so; though I suspect her
mistress really meant it for the good creature's temporal advantage.
Anyhow my aunt always made it a condition to the employment of a
farm-servant that he should curry the cow every morning; but after just
enough trials to convince himself that it was not a sudden spasm, nor a
mere local disturbance, the man would always give notice of an intention
to quit, by pounding the beast half-dead with some foreign body and then
limping home to his couch. I don't know how many men the creature
removed from my aunt's employ in this way, but judging from the number
of lame persons in that part of the country, I should say a good many;
though some of the lameness may have been taken at second-hand from the
original sufferers by their descendants, and some may have come by

I think my aunt's was a faulty system of agriculture. It is true her
farm labor cost her nothing, for the laborers all left her service
before any salary had accrued; but as the cow's fame spread abroad
through the several States and Territories, it became increasingly
difficult to obtain hands; and, after all, the favorite was imperfectly
curried. It was currently remarked that the cow had kicked the farm to
pieces--a rude metaphor, implying that the land was not properly
cultivated, nor the buildings and fences kept in adequate repair.

It was useless to remonstrate with my aunt: she would concede
everything, amending nothing. Her late husband had attempted to reform
the abuse in this manner, and had had the argument all his own way until
he had remonstrated himself into an early grave; and the funeral was
delayed all day, until a fresh undertaker could be procured, the one
originally engaged having confidingly undertaken to curry the cow at the
request of the widow.

Since that time my Aunt Patience had not been in the matrimonial market;
the love of that cow had usurped in her heart the place of a more
natural and profitable affection. But when she saw her seeds unsown, her
harvests ungarnered, her fences overtopped with rank brambles and her
meadows gorgeous with the towering Canada thistle she thought it best to
take a partner.

When it transpired that my Aunt Patience intended wedlock there was
intense popular excitement. Every adult single male became at once a
marrying man. The criminal statistics of Badger county show that in that
single year more marriages occurred than in any decade before or since.
But none of them was my aunt's. Men married their cooks, their
laundresses, their deceased wives' mothers, their enemies'
sisters--married whomsoever would wed; and any man who, by fair means or
courtship, could not obtain a wife went before a justice of the peace
and made an affidavit that he had some wives in Indiana. Such was the
fear of being married alive by my Aunt Patience.

Now, where my aunt's affection was concerned she was, as the reader will
have already surmised, a rather determined woman; and the extraordinary
marrying epidemic having left but one eligible male in all that county,
she had set her heart upon that one eligible male; then she went and
carted him to her home. He turned out to be a long Methodist parson,
named Huggins.

Aside from his unconscionable length, the Rev. Berosus Huggins was not
so bad a fellow, and was nobody's fool. He was, I suppose, the most
ill-favored mortal, however, in the whole northern half of
America--thin, angular, cadaverous of visage and solemn out of all
reason. He commonly wore a low-crowned black hat, set so far down upon
his head as partly to eclipse his eyes and wholly obscure the ample
glory of his ears. The only other visible article of his attire (except
a brace of wrinkled cowskin boots, by which the word "polish" would have
been considered the meaningless fragment of a lost language) was a
tight-fitting black frock-coat, preternaturally long in the waist, the
skirts of which fell about his heels, sopping up the dew. This he always
wore snugly buttoned from the throat downward. In this attire he cut a
tolerably spectral figure. His aspect was so conspicuously unnatural and
inhuman that whenever he went into a cornfield, the predatory crows
would temporarily forsake their business to settle upon him in swarms,
fighting for the best seats upon his person, by way of testifying their
contempt for the weak inventions of the husbandman.

The day after the wedding my Aunt Patience summoned the Rev. Berosus to
the council chamber, and uttered her mind to the following intent:

"Now, Huggy, dear, I'll tell you what there is to do about the place.
First, you must repair all the fences, clearing out the weeds and
repressing the brambles with a strong hand. Then you will have to
exterminate the Canadian thistles, mend the wagon, rig up a plow or two,
and get things into ship-shape generally. This will keep you out of
mischief for the better part of two years; of course you will have to
give up preaching, for the present. As soon as you have--O! I forgot
poor Phoebe. She"----

"Mrs. Huggins," interrupted her solemn spouse, "I shall hope to be the
means, under Providence, of effecting all needful reforms in the
husbandry of this farm. But the sister you mention (I trust she is not
of the world's people)--have I the pleasure of knowing her? The name,
indeed, sounds familiar, but"----

"Not know Phoebe!" cried my aunt, with unfeigned astonishment; "I
thought everybody in Badger knew Phoebe. Why, you will have to scratch
her legs, every blessed morning of your natural life!"

"I assure you, madam," rejoined the Rev. Berosus, with dignity, "it
would yield me a hallowed pleasure to minister to the spiritual needs of
sister Phoebe, to the extent of my feeble and unworthy ability; but,
really, I fear the merely secular ministration of which you speak must
be entrusted to abler and, I would respectfully suggest, female hands."

"Whyyy, youuu ooold, foooool!" replied my aunt, spreading her eyes with
unbounded amazement, "Phoebe is a _cow_!"

"In that case," said the husband, with unruffled composure, "it will, of
course, devolve upon me to see that her carnal welfare is properly
attended to; and I shall be happy to bestow upon her legs such time as I
may, without sin, snatch from my strife with Satan and the Canadian

With that the Rev. Mr. Huggins crowded his hat upon his shoulders,
pronounced a brief benediction upon his bride, and betook himself to the

Now, it is necessary to explain that he had known from the first who
Phoebe was, and was familiar, from hearsay, with all her sinful traits.
Moreover, he had already done himself the honor of making her a visit,
remaining in the vicinity of her person, just out of range, for more
than an hour and permitting her to survey him at her leisure from every
point of the compass. In short, he and Phoebe had mutually reconnoitered
and prepared for action.

Amongst the articles of comfort and luxury which went to make up the
good parson's _dot_, and which his wife had already caused to be
conveyed to his new home, was a patent cast-iron pump, about seven feet
high. This had been deposited near the barn-yard, preparatory to being
set up on the planks above the barn-yard well. Mr. Huggins now sought
out this invention and conveying it to its destination put it into
position, screwing it firmly to the planks. He next divested himself of
his long gaberdine and his hat, buttoning the former loosely about the
pump, which it almost concealed, and hanging the latter upon the summit
of the structure. The handle of the pump, when depressed, curved
outwardly between the coat-skirts, singularly like a tail, but with this
inconspicuous exception, any unprejudiced observer would have pronounced
the thing Mr. Huggins, looking uncommonly well.

The preliminaries completed, the good man carefully closed the gate of
the barnyard, knowing that as soon as Phoebe, who was campaigning in the
kitchen garden, should note the precaution she would come and jump in to
frustrate it, which eventually she did. Her master, meanwhile, had laid
himself, coatless and hatless, along the outside of the close board
fence, where he put in the time pleasantly, catching his death of cold
and peering through a knot-hole.

At first, and for some time, the animal pretended not to see the figure
on the platform. Indeed she had turned her back upon it directly she
arrived, affecting a light sleep. Finding that this stratagem did not
achieve the success that she had expected, she abandoned it and stood
for several minutes irresolute, munching her cud in a half-hearted way,
but obviously thinking very hard. Then she began nosing along the ground
as if wholly absorbed in a search for something that she had lost,
tacking about hither and thither, but all the time drawing nearer to the
object of her wicked intention. Arrived within speaking distance, she
stood for a little while confronting the fraudful figure, then put out
her nose toward it, as if to be caressed, trying to create the
impression that fondling and dalliance were more to her than wealth,
power and the plaudits of the populace--that she had been accustomed to
them all her sweet young life and could not get on without them. Then
she approached a little nearer, as if to shake hands, all the while
maintaining the most amiable expression of countenance and executing all
manner of seductive nods and winks and smiles. Suddenly she wheeled
about and with the rapidity of lightning dealt out a terrible kick--a
kick of inconceivable force and fury, comparable to nothing in nature
but a stroke of paralysis out of a clear sky!

The effect was magical! Cows kick, not backward but sidewise. The impact
which was intended to project the counterfeit theologian into the middle
of the succeeding conference week reacted upon the animal herself, and
it and the pain together set her spinning like a top. Such was the
velocity of her revolution that she looked like a dim, circular cow,
surrounded by a continuous ring like that of the planet Saturn--the
white tuft at the extremity of her sweeping tail! Presently, as the
sustaining centrifugal force lessened and failed, she began to sway and
wabble from side to side, and finally, toppling over on her side, rolled
convulsively on her back and lay motionless with all her feet in the
air, honestly believing that the world had somehow got atop of her and
she was supporting it at a great sacrifice of personal comfort. Then she

How long she lay unconscious she knew not, but at last she unclosed her
eyes, and catching sight of the open door of her stall, "more sweet than
all the landscape smiling near," she struggled up, stood wavering upon
three legs, rubbed her eyes, and was visibly bewildered as to the points
of the compass. Observing the iron clergyman standing fast by its faith,
she threw it a look of grieved reproach and hobbled heart-broken into
her humble habitation, a subjugated cow.

For several weeks Phoebe's right hind leg was swollen to a monstrous
growth, but by a season of judicious nursing she was "brought round all
right," as her sympathetic and puzzled mistress phrased it, or "made
whole," as the reticent man of God preferred to say. She was now as
tractable and inoffensive "in her daily walk and conversation" (Huggins)
as a little child. Her new master used to take her ailing leg trustfully
into his lap, and for that matter, might have taken it into his mouth if
he had so desired. Her entire character appeared to be radically
changed--so altered that one day my Aunt Patience, who, fondly as she
loved her, had never before so much as ventured to touch the hem of her
garment, as it were, went confidently up to her to soothe her with a pan
of turnips. Gad! how thinly she spread out that good old lady upon the
face of an adjacent stone wall! You could not have done it so evenly
with a trowel.


My father was a deodorizer of dead dogs, my mother kept the only shop
for the sale of cats'-meat in my native city. They did not live happily;
the difference in social rank was a chasm which could not be bridged by
the vows of marriage. It was indeed an ill-assorted and most unlucky
alliance; and as might have been foreseen it ended in disaster. One
morning after the customary squabbles at breakfast, my father rose from
the table, quivering and pale with wrath, and proceeding to the
parsonage thrashed the clergyman who had performed the marriage
ceremony. The act was generally condemned and public feeling ran so high
against the offender that people would permit dead dogs to lie on their
property until the fragrance was deafening rather than employ him; and
the municipal authorities suffered one bloated old mastiff to utter
itself from a public square in so clamorous an exhalation that passing
strangers supposed themselves to be in the vicinity of a saw-mill. My
father was indeed unpopular. During these dark days the family's sole
dependence was on my mother's emporium for cats'-meat.

The business was profitable. In that city, which was the oldest in the
world, the cat was an object of veneration. Its worship was the religion
of the country. The multiplication and addition of cats were a perpetual
instruction in arithmetic. Naturally, any inattention to the wants of a
cat was punished with great severity in this world and the next; so my
good mother numbered her patrons by the hundred. Still, with an
unproductive husband and seventeen children she had some difficulty in
making both ends cats'-meat; and at last the necessity of increasing the
discrepancy between the cost price and the selling price of her carnal
wares drove her to an expedient which proved eminently disastrous: she
conceived the unlucky notion of retaliating by refusing to sell
cats'-meat until the boycott was taken off her husband.

On the day when she put this resolution into practice the shop was
thronged with excited customers, and others extended in turbulent and
restless masses up four streets, out of sight. Inside there was nothing
but cursing, crowding, shouting and menace. Intimidation was freely
resorted to--several of my younger brothers and sisters being threatened
with cutting up for the cats--but my mother was as firm as a rock, and
the day was a black one for Sardasa, the ancient and sacred city that
was the scene of these events. The lock-out was vigorously maintained,
and seven hundred and fifty thousand cats went to bed hungry!

The next morning the city was found to have been placarded during the
night with a proclamation of the Federated Union of Old Maids. This
ancient and powerful order averred through its Supreme Executive Head
that the boycotting of my father and the retaliatory lock-out of my
mother were seriously imperiling the interests of religion. The
proclamation went on to state that if arbitration were not adopted by
noon that day all the old maids of the federation would strike--and
strike they did.

The next act of this unhappy drama was an insurrection of cats. These
sacred animals, seeing themselves doomed to starvation, held a
mass-meeting and marched in procession through the streets, swearing and
spitting like fiends. This revolt of the gods produced such
consternation that many pious persons died of fright and all business
was suspended to bury them and pass terrifying resolutions.

Matters were now about as bad as it seemed possible for them to be.
Meetings among representatives of the hostile interests were held, but
no understanding was arrived at that would hold. Every agreement was
broken as soon as made, and each element of the discord was frantically
appealing to the people. A new horror was in store.

It will be remembered that my father was a deodorizer of dead dogs, but
was unable to practice his useful and humble profession because no one
would employ him. The dead dogs in consequence reeked rascally. Then
they struck! From every vacant lot and public dumping ground, from every
hedge and ditch and gutter and cistern, every crystal rill and the
clabbered waters of all the canals and estuaries--from all the places,
in short, which from time immemorial have been preëmpted by dead dogs
and consecrated to the uses of them and their heirs and successors
forever--they trooped innumerous, a ghastly crew! Their procession was a
mile in length. Midway of the town it met the procession of cats in full
song. The cats instantly exalted their backs and magnified their tails;
the dead dogs uncovered their teeth as in life, and erected such of
their bristles as still adhered to the skin.

The carnage that ensued was too awful for relation! The light of the sun
was obscured by flying fur, and the battle was waged in the darkness,
blindly and regardless. The swearing of the cats was audible miles away,
while the fragrance of the dead dogs desolated seven provinces.

How the battle might have resulted it is impossible to say, but when it
was at its fiercest the Federated Union of Old Maids came running down a
side street and sprang into the thickest of the fray. A moment later my
mother herself bore down upon the warring hosts, brandishing a cleaver,
and laid about her with great freedom and impartiality. My father joined
the fight, the municipal authorities engaged, and the general public,
converging on the battle-field from all points of the compass, consumed
itself in the center as it pressed in from the circumference. Last of
all, the dead held a meeting in the cemetery and resolving on a general
strike, began to destroy vaults, tombs, monuments, headstones, willows,
angels and young sheep in marble--everything they could lay their hands
on. By nightfall the living and the dead were alike exterminated, and
where the ancient and sacred city of Sardasa had stood nothing remained
but an excavation filled with dead bodies and building materials, shreds
of cat and blue patches of decayed dog. The place is now a vast pool of
stagnant water in the center of a desert.

The stirring events of those few days constituted my industrial
education, and so well have I improved my advantages that I am now Chief
of Misrule to the Dukes of Disorder, an organization numbering thirteen
million American workingmen.


It was a wicked thing to do, certainly. I have often regretted it since,
and if the opportunity of doing so again were presented I should
hesitate a long time before embracing it. But I was young then, and
cherished a species of humor which I have since abjured. Still, when I
remember the character of the people who were burlesquing and bringing
into disrepute the letter and spirit of our holy religion I feel a
certain satisfaction in having contributed one feeble effort toward
making them ridiculous. In consideration of the little good I may have
done in that way, I beg the reader to judge my conceded error as
leniently as possible. This is the story.

Some years ago the town of Harding, in Illinois, experienced "a revival
of religion," as the people called it. It would have been more accurate
and less profane to term it a revival of Rampageanism, for the craze
originated in, and was disseminated by, the sect which I will call the
Rampagean communion; and most of the leaping and howling was done in
that interest. Amongst those who yielded to the influence was my friend
Thomas Dobsho. Tom had been a pretty bad sinner in a small way, but he
went into this new thing heart and soul. At one of the meetings he made
a public confession of more sins than he ever was, or ever could have
been guilty of; stopping just short of statutory crimes, and even
hinting, significantly, that he could tell a good deal more if he were
pressed. He wanted to join the absurd communion the very evening of his
conversion. He wanted to join two or three communions. In fact, he was
so carried away with his zeal that some of the brethren gave me a hint
to take him home; he and I occupied adjoining apartments in the Elephant

Tom's fervor, as it happened, came near defeating its own purpose;
instead of taking him at once into the fold without reference or
"character," which was their usual way, the brethren remembered against
him his awful confessions and put him on probation. But after a few
weeks, during which he conducted himself like a decent lunatic, it was
decided to baptise him along with a dozen other pretty hard cases who
had been converted more recently. This sacrilegious ceremony I persuaded
myself it was my duty to prevent, though I think now I erred as to the
means adopted. It was to take place on a Sunday, and on the preceding
Saturday I called on the head revivalist, the Rev. Mr. Swin, and craved
an interview.

"I come," said I, with simulated reluctance and embarrassment, "in
behalf of my friend, Brother Dobsho, to make a very delicate and unusual
request. You are, I think, going to baptise him to-morrow, and I trust
it will be to him the beginning of a new and better life. But I don't
know if you are aware that his family are all Plungers, and that he is
himself tainted with the wicked heresy of that sect. So it is. He is, as
one might say in secular metaphor, 'on the fence' between their grievous
error and the pure faith of your church. It would be most melancholy if
he should get down on the wrong side. Although I confess with shame I
have not myself embraced the truth, I hope I am not too blind to see
where it lies."

"The calamity that you apprehend," said the reverend lout, after solemn
reflection, "would indeed seriously affect our friend's interest and
endanger his soul. I had not expected Brother Dobsho so soon to give up
the good fight."

"I think sir," I replied reflectively, "there is no fear of that if the
matter is skilfully managed. He is heartily with you--might I venture to
say with _us_--on every point but one. He favors immersion! He has been
so vile a sinner that he foolishly fears the more simple rite of your
church will not make him wet enough. Would you believe it? his
uninstructed scruples on the point are so gross and materialistic that
he actually suggested soaping himself as a preparatory ceremony! I
believe, however, if instead of sprinkling my friend, you would pour a
generous basinful of water on his head--but now that I think of it in
your enlightening presence I see that such a proceeding is quite out of
the question. I fear we must let matters take the usual course, trusting
to our later efforts to prevent the backsliding which may result."

The parson rose and paced the floor a moment, then suggested that he'd
better see Brother Dobsho, and labor to remove his error. I told him I
thought not; I was sure it would not be best. Argument would only
confirm him in his prejudices. So it was settled that the subject should
not be broached in that quarter. It would have been bad for me if it had

When I reflect now upon the guile of that conversation, the falsehood of
my representations and the wickedness of my motive I am almost ashamed
to proceed with my narrative. Had the minister been other than an arrant
humbug, I hope I should never have suffered myself to make him the dupe
of a scheme so sacrilegious in itself, and prosecuted with so sinful a
disregard of honor.

The memorable Sabbath dawned bright and beautiful. About nine o'clock
the cracked old bell, rigged up on struts before the "meeting-house,"
began to clamor its call to service, and nearly the whole population of
Harding took its way to the performance. I had taken the precaution to
set my watch fifteen minutes fast. Tom was nervously preparing himself
for the ordeal. He fidgeted himself into his best suit an hour before
the time, carried his hat about the room in the most aimless and
demented way and consulted his watch a hundred times. I was to accompany
him to church, and I spent the time fussing about the room, doing the
most extraordinary things in the most exasperating manner--in short,
keeping up Tom's feverish excitement by every wicked device I could
think of. Within a half hour of the real time for service I suddenly
yelled out--

"O, I say, Tom; pardon me, but that head of yours is just frightful!
Please _do_ let me brush it up a bit!"

Seizing him by the shoulders I thrust him into a chair with his face to
the wall, laid hold of his comb and brush, got behind him and went to
work. He was trembling like a child, and knew no more what I was doing
than if he had been brained. Now, Tom's head was a curiosity. His hair,
which was remarkably thick, was like wire. Being cut rather short it
stood out all over his scalp like the spines on a porcupine. It had been
a favorite complaint of Tom's that he never could do anything to that
head. I found no difficulty--I did something to it, though I blush to
think what it was. I did something which I feared he might discover if
he looked in the mirror, so I carelessly pulled out my watch, sprung it
open, gave a start and shouted--

"By Jove! Thomas--pardon the oath--but we're late. Your watch is all
wrong; look at mine! Here's your hat, old fellow; come along. There's
not a moment to lose!"

Clapping his hat on his head, I pulled him out of the house, with actual
violence. In five minutes more we were in the meeting-house with ever so
much time to spare.

The services that day, I am told, were specially interesting and
impressive, but I had a good deal else on my mind--was preoccupied,
absent, inattentive. They might have varied from the usual profane
exhibition in any respect and to any extent, and I should not have
observed it. The first thing I clearly perceived was a rank of
"converts" kneeling before the "altar," Tom at the left of the line.
Then the Rev. Mr. Swin approached him, thoughtfully dipping his fingers
into a small earthern bowl of water as if he had just finished dining. I
was much affected: I could see nothing distinctly for my tears. My
handkerchief was at my face--most of it inside. I was observed to sob
spasmodically, and I am abashed to think how many sincere persons
mistakenly followed my example.

With some solemn words, the purport of which I did not quite make out,
except that they sounded like swearing, the minister stood before
Thomas, gave me a glance of intelligence and then with an innocent
expression of face, the recollection of which to this day fills me with
remorse, spilled, as if by accident, the entire contents of the bowl on
the head of my poor friend--that head into the hair of which I had
sifted a prodigal profusion of Seidlitz-powders!

I confess it, the effect was magical--anyone who was present would tell
you that. Tom's pow simmered--it seethed--it foamed yeastily, and
slavered like a mad dog! It steamed and hissed, with angry spurts and
flashes! In a second it had grown bigger than a small snowbank, and
whiter. It surged, and boiled, and walloped, and overflowed, and
sputtered--sent off feathery flakes like down from a shot swan! The
froth poured creaming over his face, and got into his eyes. It was the
most sinful shampooing of the season!

I cannot relate the commotion this produced, nor would I if I could. As
to Tom, he sprang to his feet and staggered out of the house, groping
his way between the pews, sputtering strangled profanity and gasping
like a stranded fish. The other candidates for baptism rose also,
shaking their pates as if to say, "No you don't, my hearty," and left
the house in a body. Amidst unbroken silence the minister reascended the
pulpit with the empty bowl in his hand, and was first to speak:

"Brethren and sisters," said he with calm, deliberate evenness of tone,
"I have held forth in this tabernacle for many more years than I have
got fingers and toes, and during that time I have known not guile, nor
anger, nor any uncharitableness. As to Henry Barber, who put up this job
on me, I judge him not lest I be judged. Let him take _that_ and sin no
more!"--and he flung the earthern bowl with so true an aim that it was
shattered against my skull. The rebuke was not undeserved, I confess,
and I trust I have profited by it.


"It's all very well fer you Britishers to go assin' about the country
tryin' to strike the trail o' the mines you've salted down yer loose
carpital in," said Colonel Jackhigh, setting his empty glass on the
counter and wiping his lips with his coat sleeve; "but w'en it comes to
hoss racin', w'y I've got a cayuse ken lay over all the thurrerbreds yer
little mantel-ornyment of a island ever panned out--bet yer britches I
have! Talk about yer Durby winners--w'y this pisen little beast o'
mine'll take the bit in her teeth and show 'em the way to the horizon
like she was takin' her mornin' stroll and they was tryin' to keep an
eye on her to see she didn't do herself an injury--that's w'at she
would! And she haint never run a race with anything spryer'n an Injun in
all her life; she's a green amatoor, _she_ is!"

"Oh, very well," said the Englishman with a quiet smile; "it is easy
enough to settle the matter. My animal is in tolerably good condition,
and if yours is in town we can have the race to-morrow for any stake you
like, up to a hundred dollars.

"That's jest the figger," said the colonel; "dot it down, barkeep. But
it's like slarterin' the innocents," he added, half-remorsefully, as he
turned to leave; "it's bettin' on a dead sure thing--that's what it is!
If my cayuse knew wa't I was about she'd go and break a laig to make the
race a fair one."

So it was arranged that the race was to come off at three o'clock the
next day, on the _mesa_, some distance from town. As soon as the news
got abroad, the whole population of Left Bower and vicinity knocked off
work and assembled in the various bars to discuss it. The Englishman and
his horse were general favorites, and aside from the unpopularity of the
colonel, nobody had ever seen his "cayuse." Still the element of
patriotism came in, making the betting very nearly even.

A race-course was marked off on the _mesa_ and at the appointed hour
every one was there except the colonel. It was arranged that each man
should ride his own horse, and the Englishman, who had acquired
something of the free-and-easy bearing that distinguishes the "mining
sharp," was already atop of his magnificent animal, with one leg thrown
carelessly across the pommel of his Mexican saddle, as he puffed his
cigar with calm confidence in the result of the race. He was conscious,
too, that he possessed the secret sympathy of all, even of those who had
felt it their duty to bet against him. The judge, watch in hand, was
growing impatient, when the colonel appeared about a half-mile away, and
bore down upon the crowd. Everyone was eager to inspect his mount; and
such a mount as it proved to be was never before seen, even in Left

You have seen "perfect skeletons" of horses often enough, no doubt, but
this animal was not even a perfect skeleton; there were bones missing
here and there which you would not have believed the beast could have
spared. "Little" the colonel had called her! She was not an inch less
than eighteen hands high, and long out of all reasonable proportion. She
was so hollow in the back that she seemed to have been bent in a
machine. She had neither tail nor mane, and her neck, as long as a man,
stuck straight up into the air, supporting a head without ears. Her eyes
had an expression in them of downright insanity, and the muscles of her
face were afflicted with periodical convulsions that drew back the
corners of the mouth and wrinkled the upper lip so as to produce a
ghastly grin every two or three seconds. In color she was "claybank,"
with great blotches of white, as if she had been pelted with small bags
of flour. The crookedness of her legs was beyond all comparison, and as
to her gait it was that of a blind camel walking diagonally across
innumerable deep ditches. Altogether she looked like the crude result of
Nature's first experiment in equifaction.

As this libel on all horses shambled up to the starting post there was a
general shout; the sympathies of the crowd changed in the twinkling of
an eye! Everyone wanted to bet on her, and the Englishman himself was
only restrained from doing so by a sense of honor. It was growing late,
however, and the judge insisted on starting them. They got off very well
together, and seeing the mare was unconscionably slow the Englishman
soon pulled his animal in and permitted the ugly thing to pass him, so
as to enjoy a back view of her. That sealed his fate. The course had
been marked off in a circle of two miles in circumference and some
twenty feet wide, the limits plainly defined by little furrows. Before
the animals had gone a half mile both had been permitted to settle down
into a comfortable walk, in which they continued three-fourths of the
way round the ring. Then the Englishman thought it time to whip up and
canter in.

But he didn't. As he came up alongside the "Lightning Express," as the
crowd had begun to call her, that creature turned her head diagonally
backward and let fall a smile. The encroaching beast stopped as if he
had been shot! His rider plied whip, and forced him again forward upon
the track of the equine hag, but with the same result.

The Englishman was now alarmed; he struggled manfully with rein and whip
and shout, amidst the tremendous cheering and inextinguishable laughter
of the crowd, to force his animal past, now on this side, now on that,
but it would not do. Prompted by the fiend in the concavity of her back,
the unthinkable quadruped dropped her grins right and left with such
seasonable accuracy that again and again the competing beast was struck
"all of a heap" just at the moment of seeming success. And, finally,
when by a tremendous spurt his rider endeavored to thrust him by, within
half a dozen lengths of the winning post, the incarnate nightmare turned
squarely about and fixed upon him a portentous stare--delivering at the
same time a grimace of such prodigious ghastliness that the poor
thoroughbred, with an almost human scream of terror, wheeled about, and
tore away to the rear with the speed of the wind, leaving the colonel an
easy winner in twenty minutes and ten seconds.


_From Mr. Jabez Hope, in Chicago, to Mr. Pike Wandel, of New Orleans,
December 2, 1877._

I will not bore you, my dear fellow, with a narrative of my journey from
New Orleans to this polar region. It is cold in Chicago, believe me, and
the Southron who comes here, as I did, without a relay of noses and ears
will have reason to regret his mistaken economy in arranging his outfit.

To business. Lake Michigan is frozen stiff. Fancy, O child of a torrid
clime, a sheet of anybody's ice, three hundred miles long, forty broad,
and six feet thick! It sounds like a lie, Pikey dear, but your partner
in the firm of Hope & Wandel, Wholesale Boots and Shoes, New Orleans, is
never known to fib. My plan is to collar that ice. Wind up the present
business and send on the money at once. I'll put up a warehouse as big
as the Capitol at Washington, store it full and ship to your orders as
the Southern market may require. I can send it in planks for skating
floors, in statuettes for the mantel, in shavings for juleps, or in
solution for ice cream and general purposes. It is a big thing!

I inclose a thin slip as a sample. Did you ever see such charming ice?

_From Mr. Pike Wandel, of New Orleans, to Mr. Jabez Hope, in Chicago,
December 24, 1877._

Your letter was so abominably defaced by blotting and blurring that it
was entirely illegible. It must have come all the way by water. By the
aid of chemicals and photography, however, I have made it out. But you
forgot to inclose the sample of ice.

I have sold off everything (at an alarming sacrifice, I am sorry to say)
and inclose draft for net amount. Shall begin to spar for orders at
once. I trust everything to you--but, I say, has anybody tried to grow
ice in _this_ vicinity? There is Lake Ponchartrain, you know.

_From Mr. Jabez Hope, in Chicago, to Mr. Pike Wandel, of New Orleans,
February 27, 1878._

Wannie dear, it would do you good to see our new warehouse for the ice.
Though made of boards, and run up rather hastily, it is as pretty as a
picture, and cost a deal of money, though I pay no ground rent. It is
about as big as the Capitol at Washington. Do you think it ought to have
a steeple? I have it nearly filled--fifty men cutting and storing, day
and night--awful cold work! By the way, the ice, which when I wrote you
last was ten feet thick, is now thinner. But don't you worry; there is

Our warehouse is eight or ten miles out of town, so I am not much
bothered by visitors, which is a relief. Such a giggling, sniggering lot
you never saw!

It seems almost too absurdly incredible, Wannie, but do you know I
believe this ice of ours gains in coldness as the warm weather comes on!
I do, indeed, and you may mention the fact in the advertisements.

_From Mr. Pike Wandel, of New Orleans, to Mr. Jabez Hope, in Chicago,
March 7, 1878._

All goes well. I get hundreds of orders. We shall do a roaring trade as
"The New Orleans and Chicago Semperfrigid Ice Company." But you have not
told me whether the ice is fresh or salt. If it is fresh it won't do for
cooking, and if it is salt it will spoil the mint juleps.

Is it as cold in the middle as the outside cuts are?

_From Mr. Jebez Hope, from Chicago, to Mr. Pike Wandel, of New Orleans,
April 3, 1878._

Navigation on the Lakes is now open, and ships are thick as ducks. I'm
afloat, _en route_ for Buffalo, with the assets of the New Orleans and
Chicago Semperfrigid Ice Company in my vest pocket. We are busted out,
my poor Pikey--we are to fortune and to fame unknown. Arrange a meeting
of the creditors and don't attend.

Last night a schooner from Milwaukee was smashed into match-wood on an
enormous mass of floating ice--the first berg ever seen in these waters.
It is described by the survivors as being about as big as the Capital at
Washington. One-half of that iceberg belongs to you, Pikey.

The melancholy fact is, I built our warehouse on an unfavorable site,
about a mile out from the shore (on the ice, you understand), and when
the thaw came--O my God, Wannie, it was the saddest thing you ever saw
in all your life! You will be _so_ glad to know I was not in it at the

What a ridiculous question you ask me. My poor partner, you don't seem
to know very much about the ice business.


The spectroscope is a singularly beautiful and delicate instrument,
consisting, essentially, of a prism of glass, which, decomposing the
light of any heavenly body to which the instrument is directed, presents
a spectrum, or long bar of color. Crossing this are narrow, dark and
bright lines produced by the gases of metals in combustion, whereby the
celestial orb's light is generated. From these dark and bright lines,
therefore, we ascertain all that is worth knowing about the composition
of the sun and stars.

Now Ben had made some striking discoveries in spectroscopic analysis at
his private garden observatory, and had also an instrument of superior
power and capacity, invented, or at least much improved, by himself; and
this instrument it was that he and I were arranging for an examination
of the comet then flaming in the heavens. William sat by apparently
uninterested. Finally we had our arrangements for an observation
completed, and Ben said: "Now turn her on."

"That reminds me," said William, "of a little story about Perry Chumly,

"For the sake of science, William," I interrupted, laying a hand on his
arm, "I must beg you not to relate it. The comet will in a few minutes
be behind the roof of yonder lodging house. We really have no time for
the story."

"No," said Ben, "time presses; and, anyhow, I've heard it before."

"This Perry Chumly," resumed William, "believed himself a born
astronomer, and always kept a bit of smoked glass. He was particularly
great on solar eclipses. I have known him to sit up all night looking
out for one."

Ben had now got the spectroscope trained skyward to suit him, and in
order to exclude all irrelevant light had let down the window-blind on
the tube of it. The spectrum of the comet came out beautifully--a long
bar of color crossed with a lovely ruling of thin dark and bright lines,
the sight of which elicited from us an exclamation of satisfaction.

"One day," continued William from his seat at another window, "some one
told Perry Chumly there would be an eclipse of the sun that afternoon at
three o'clock. Now Perry had recently read a story about some men who in
exploring a deep cañon in the mountains had looked up from the bottom
and seen the stars shining at midday. It occurred to him that this
knowledge might be so utilized as to give him a fine view of the
eclipse, and enable him at the same time to see what the stars would
appear to think about it."

"_This_," said Ben, pointing to one of the dark lines in the cometic
spectrum, "_this_ is produced by the vapor of carbon in the nucleus of
the heavenly visitant. You will observe that it differs but slightly
from the lines that come of volatilized iron. Examined with this
magnifying glass"--adjusting that instrument to his eye--"it will
probably show--by Jove!" he ejaculated, after a nearer view, "it isn't
carbon at all. _It is_ MEAT!"

"Of course," proceeded William, "of course Perry Chumly did not have any
cañon, so what did the fellow do but let himself down with his arms and
legs to the bottom of an old well, about thirty feet deep! And, with the
cold water up to his middle, and the frogs, pollywogs and aquatic
lizards quarreling for the cosy corners of his pockets, there he stood,
waiting for the sun to appear in the field of his 'instrument' and be

"Ben, you are joking," I remarked with some asperity; "you are taking
liberties with science, Benjamin. It _can't_ be meat, you know."

"I tell you it _is_ though," was his excited reply; "it is just _meat_,
I tell you! And this other line, which at first I took for sodium, is
_bone_--bone, sir, or I'm an asteroid! I never saw the like; that comet
must be densely peopled with butchers and horse-knackers!"

"When Perry Chumly had waited a long time," William went on to say,
"looking up and expecting every minute to see the sun, it began to get
into his mind, somehow, that the bright, circular opening above his
head--the mouth of the well--_was_ the sun, and that the black disk of
the moon was all that was needed to complete the expected phenomenon.
The notion soon took complete obsession of his brain, so that he forgot
where he was and imagined himself standing on the surface of the earth."

I was now scrutinizing the cometic spectrum very closely, being
particularly attracted by a thin, faint line, which I thought Ben had

"Oh, that is nothing," he explained; "that's a mere local fault arising
from conditions peculiar to the medium through which the light is
transmitted--the atmosphere of this neighborhood. It is whisky. This
other line, though, shows the faintest imaginable trace of soap; and
these uncertain, wavering ones are caused by some effluvium not in the
comet itself, but in the region beyond it. I am compelled to pronounce
it tobacco smoke. I will now tilt the instrument so as to get the
spectrum of the celestial wanderer's tail. Ah! there we have it.

"Now this old well," said William, "was near a road, along which was
traveling a big and particularly hideous nigger."

"See here, Thomas," exclaimed Ben, removing the magnifying glass from
his eye and looking me earnestly in the face, "if I were to tell you
that the _coma_ of this eccentric heavenly body is really hair, as its
name implies, would you believe it?"

"No, Ben, I certainly should not."

"Well, I won't argue the matter; there are the lines--they speak for
themselves. But now that I look again, you are not entirely wrong: there
is a considerable admixture of jute, moss, and I think tallow. It
certainly is most remarkable! Sir Isaac Newton--"

"That big nigger," drawled William, "felt thirsty, and seeing the mouth
of the well thought there was perhaps a bucket in it. So he ventured to
creep forward on his hands and knees and look in over the edge."

Suddenly our spectrum vanished, and a very singular one of a quite
different appearance presented itself in the same place. It was a dim
spectrum, crossed by a single broad bar of pale yellow.

"Ah!" said Ben, "our waif of the upper deep is obscured by a cloud; let
us see what the misty veil is made of."

He took a look at the spectrum with his magnifying glass, started back,
and muttered: "Brown linen, by thunder!"

"You can imagine the rapture of Perry Chumly," pursued the indefatigable
William, "when he saw, as he supposed, the moon's black disk encroaching
upon the body of the luminary that had so long riveted his gaze. But
when that obscuring satellite had thrust herself so far forward that the
eclipse became almost annular, and he saw her staring down upon a
darkened world with glittering white eyes and a double row of flashing
teeth, it is perhaps not surprising that he vented a scream of terror,
fainted and collapsed among his frogs! As for the big nigger, almost
equally terrified by this shriek from the abyss, he executed a
precipitate movement which only the breaking of his neck prevented from
being a double back-somersault, and lay dead in the weeds with his
tongue out and his face the color of a cometic spectrum. We laid them in
the same grave, poor fellows, and on many a still summer evening
afterward I strayed to the lonely little church-yard to listen to the
smothered requiem chanted by the frogs that we had neglected to remove
from the pockets of the lamented astronomer.

"And, now," added William, taking his heels from the window, "as you can
not immediately resume your spectroscopic observations on that
red-haired chamber-maid in the dormer-window, who pulled down the blind
when I made a mouth at her, I move that we adjourn."


Mr. Algernon Jarvis, of San Francisco, got up cross. The world of Mr.
Jarvis had gone wrong with him overnight, as one's world is likely to do
when one sits up till morning with jovial friends, to watch it, and he
was prone to resentment. No sooner, therefore, had he got himself into a
neat, fashionable suit of clothing than he selected his morning
walking-stick and sallied out upon the town with a vague general
determination to attack something. His first victim would naturally have
been his breakfast; but singularly enough, he fell upon this with so
feeble an energy that he was himself beaten--to the grieved astonishment
of the worthy _rôtisseur_, who had to record his hitherto puissant
patron's maiden defeat. Three or four cups of _café noir_ were the only
captives that graced Mr. Jarvis' gastric chariot-wheels that morning.

He lit a long cigar and sauntered moodily down the street, so occupied
with schemes of universal retaliation that his feet had it all their own
way; in consequence of which, their owner soon found himself in the
billiard-room of the Occidental Hotel. Nobody was there, but Mr. Jarvis
was a privileged person; so, going to the marker's desk, he took out a
little box of ivory balls, spilled them carelessly over a table and
languidly assailed them with a long stick.

Presently, by the merest chance, he executed a marvelous stroke. Waiting
till the astonished balls had resumed their composure, he gathered them
up, replacing them in their former position. He tried the stroke again,
and, naturally, did not make it. Again he placed the balls, and again he
badly failed. With a vexed and humilated air he once more put the
indocile globes into position, leaned over the table and was upon the
point of striking, when there sounded a solemn voice from behind:

"Bet you two bits you don't make it!"

Mr. Jarvis erected himself; he turned about and looked at the speaker,
whom he found to be a stranger--one that most persons would prefer
should remain a stranger. Mr. Jarvis made no reply. In the first place,
he was a man of aristocratic taste, to whom a wager of "two bits" was
simply vulgar. Secondly, the man who had proffered it evidently had not
the money. Still it is annoying to have one's skill questioned by one's
social inferiors, particularly when one has doubts of it oneself, and is
otherwise ill-tempered. So Mr. Jarvis stood his cue against the table,
laid off his fashionable morning-coat, resumed his stick, spread his
fine figure upon the table with his back to the ceiling and took
deliberate aim.

At this point Mr. Jarvis drops out of this history, and is seen no more
forever. Persons of the class to which he adds lustre are sacred from
the pen of the humorist; they are ridiculous but not amusing. So now we
will dismiss this uninteresting young aristocrat, retaining merely his
outer shell, the fashionable morning-coat, which Mr. Stenner, the
gentleman, who had offered the wager, has quietly thrown across his arm
and is conveying away for his own advantage.

An hour later Mr. Stenner sat in his humble lodgings at North Beach,
with the pilfered garment upon his knees. He had already taken the
opinion of an eminent pawnbroker on its value, and it only remained to
search the pockets. Mr. Stenner's notions concerning gentlemen's coats
were not so clear as they might have been. Broadly stated, they were
that these garments abounded in secret pockets crowded with a wealth of
bank notes interspersed with gold coins. He was therefore disappointed
when his careful quest was rewarded with only a delicately perfumed
handkerchief, upon which he could not hope to obtain a loan of more than
ten cents; a pair of gloves too small for use and a bit of paper that
was not a cheque. A second look at this, however, inspired hope. It was
about the size of a flounder, ruled in wide lines, and bore in
conspicuous characters the words, "Western Union Telegraph Company."
Immediately below this interesting legend was much other printed matter,
the purport of which was that the company did not hold itself
responsible for the verbal accuracy of "the following message," and did
not consider itself either morally or legally bound to forward or
deliver it, nor, in short, to render any kind of service for the money
paid by the sender.

Unfamiliar with telegraphy, Mr. Stenner naturally supposed that a
message subject to these hard conditions must be one of not only grave
importance, but questionable character. So he determined to decipher it
at that time and place. In the course of the day he succeeded in so
doing. It ran as follows, omitting the date and the names of persons and
places, which were, of course, quite illegible:

"Buy Sally Meeker!"

Had the full force of this remarkable adjuration burst upon Mr. Stenner
all at once it might have carried him away, which would not have been so
bad a thing for San Francisco; but as the meaning had to percolate
slowly through a dense dyke of ignorance, it produced no other immediate
effect than the exclamation, "Well, I'll be bust!"

In the mouths of some persons this form of expression means a great
deal. On the Stenner tongue it signified the hopeless nature of the
Stenner mental confusion.

It must be confessed--by persons outside a certain limited and sordid
circle--that the message lacks amplification and elaboration; in its
terse, bald diction there is a ghastly suggestion of traffic in human
flesh, for which in California there is no market since the abolition of
slavery and the importation of thoroughbred beeves. If woman suffrage
had been established all would have been clear; Mr. Stenner would at
once have understood the kind of purchase advised; for in political
transactions he had very often changed hands himself. But it was all a
muddle, and resolving to dismiss the matter from his thoughts, he went
to bed thinking of nothing else; for many hours his excited imagination
would do nothing but purchase slightly damaged Sally Meekers by the
bale, and retail them to itself at an enormous profit.

Next day, it flashed upon his memory who Sally Meeker was--a racing
mare! At this entirely obvious solution of the problem he was overcome
with amazement at his own sagacity. Rushing into the street he
purchased, not Sally Meeker, but a sporting paper--and in it found the
notice of a race which was to come off the following week; and, sure
enough, there it was:

"Budd Doble enters g.g. Clipper; Bob Scotty enters b.g. Lightnin';
Staley Tupper enters s.s. Upandust; Sim Salper enters b.m. Sally

It was clear now; the sender of the dispatch was "in the know." Sally
Meeker was to win, and her owner, who did not know it, had offered her
for sale. At that supreme moment Mr. Stenner would willingly have been a
rich man! In fact he resolved to be. He at once betook him to Vallejo,
where he had lived until invited away by some influential citizens of
the place. There he immediately sought out an industrious friend who had
an amiable weakness for draw poker, and in whom Mr. Stenner regularly
encouraged that passion by going up against him every payday and
despoiling him of his hard earnings. He did so this time, to the sum of
one hundred dollars.

No sooner had he raked in his last pool and refused his friend's appeal
for a trifling loan wherewith to pay for breakfast than he bought a
check on the Bank of California, enclosed it in a letter containing
merely the words "Bi Saly Meker," and dispatched it by mail to the only
clergyman in San Francisco whose name he knew. Mr. Stenner had a vague
notion that all kinds of business requiring strict honesty and fidelity
might be profitably intrusted to the clergy; otherwise what was the use
of religion? I hope I shall not be accused of disrespect to the cloth in
thus bluntly setting forth Mr. Stenner's estimate of the parsons,
inasmuch as I do not share it.

This business off his mind, Mr. Stenner unbent in a week's revelry; at
the end of which he worked his passage down to San Francisco to secure
his winnings on the race, and take charge of his peerless mare. It will
be observed that his notions concerning races were somewhat confused;
his experience of them had hitherto been confined to that branch of the
business requiring, not technical knowledge but manual dexterity. In
short, he had done no more than pick the pockets of the spectators.
Arrived at San Francisco he was hastening to the dwelling of his
clerical agent, when he met an acquaintance, to whom he put the
triumphant question, "How about Sally Meeker?"

"Sally Meeker? Sally Meeker?" was the reply. "Oh, you mean the hoss? Why
she's gone up the flume. Broke her neck the first heat. But ole Sim
Salper is never a-goin' to fret hisself to a shadder about it. He struck
it pizen in the mine she was named a'ter and the stock's gone up from
nothin' out o' sight. You couldn't tech that stock with a ten-foot

Which was a blow to Mr. Stenner. He saw his error; the message in the
coat had evidently been sent to a broker, and referred to the stock of
the "Sally Meeker" mine. And he, Stenner, was a ruined man!

Suddenly a great, monstrous, misbegotten and unmentionable oath rolled
from Mr. Stenner's tongue like a cannon shot hurled along an uneven
floor! Might it not be that the Rev. Mr. Boltright had also
misunderstood the message, and had bought, not the mare, but the stock?
The thought was electrical: Mr. Stenner ran--he flew! He tarried not at
walls and the smaller sort of houses, but went through or over them! In
five minutes he stood before the good clergyman--and in one more had
asked, in a hoarse whisper, if he had bought any "Sally Meeker."

"My good friend," was the bland reply--"my fellow traveler to the bar of
God, it would better comport with your spiritual needs to inquire what
you should do to be saved. But since you ask me, I will confess that
having received what I am compelled to regard as a Providential
intimation, accompanied with the secular means of obedience, I did put
up a small margin and purchase largely of the stock you mention. The
venture, I am constrained to state, was not wholly unprofitable."

Unprofitable? The good man had made a square twenty-five thousand
dollars on that small margin! To conclude--he has it yet.


Jerome Bowles (said the gentleman called Swiddler) was to be hanged on
Friday, the ninth of November, at five o'clock in the afternoon. This
was to occur at the town of Flatbroke, where he was then in prison.
Jerome was my friend, and naturally I differed with the jury that had
convicted him as to the degree of guilt implied by the conceded fact
that he had shot an Indian without direct provocation. Ever since his
trial I had been endeavoring to influence the Governor of the State to
grant a pardon; but public sentiment was against me, a fact which I
attributed partly to the innate pigheadness of the people, and partly to
the recent establishment of churches and schools which had corrupted the
primitive notions of a frontier community. But I labored hard and
unremittingly by all manner of direct and indirect means during the
whole period in which Jerome lay under sentence of death; and on the
very morning of the day set for the execution, the Governor sent for me,
and saying "he did not purpose being worried by my importunities all
winter," handed me the document which he had so often refused.

Armed with the precious paper, I flew to the telegraph office to send a
dispatch to the Sheriff at Flatbroke. I found the operator locking the
door of the office and putting up the shutters. I pleaded in vain; he
said he was going to see the hanging, and really had no time to send my
message. I must explain that Flatbroke was fifteen miles away; I was
then at Swan Creek, the State capital.

The operator being inexorable, I ran to the railroad station to see how
soon there would be a train for Flatbroke. The station man, with cool
and polite malice, informed me that all the employees of the road had
been given a holiday to see Jerome Bowles hanged, and had already gone
by an early train; that there would be no other train till the next day.

I was now furious, but the station man quietly turned me out, locking
the gates. Dashing to the nearest livery stable, I ordered a horse. Why
prolong the record of my disappointment? Not a horse could I get in that
town; all had been engaged weeks before to take people to the hanging.
So everybody said, at least, though I now know there was a rascally
conspiracy to defeat the ends of mercy, for the story of the pardon had
got abroad.

It was now ten o'clock. I had only seven hours in which to do my fifteen
miles afoot; but I was an excellent walker and thoroughly angry; there
was no doubt of my ability to make the distance, with an hour to spare.
The railway offered the best chance; it ran straight as a string across
a level, treeless prairie, whereas the highway made a wide detour by way
of another town.

I took to the track like a Modoc on the war path. Before I had gone a
half-mile I was overtaken by "That Jim Peasley," as he was called in
Swan Creek, an incurable practical joker, loved and shunned by all who
knew him. He asked me as he came up if I were "going to the show."
Thinking it was best to dissemble, I told him I was, but said nothing of
my intention to stop the performance; I thought it would be a lesson to
That Jim to let him walk fifteen miles for nothing, for it was clear
that he was going, too. Still, I wished he would go on ahead or drop
behind. But he could not very well do the former, and would not do the
latter; so we trudged on together. It was a cloudy day and very sultry
for that time of the year. The railway stretched away before us, between
its double row of telegraph poles, in rigid sameness, terminating in a
point at the horizon. On either hand the disheartening monotony of the
prairie was unbroken.

I thought little of these things, however, for my mental exaltation was
proof against the depressing influence of the scene. I was about to save
the life of my friend--to restore a crack shot to society. Indeed I
scarcely thought of That Jim, whose heels were grinding the hard gravel
close behind me, except when he saw fit occasionally to propound the
sententious, and I thought derisive, query, "Tired?" Of course I was,
but I would have died rather than confess it.

We had gone in this way, about half the distance, probably, in much less
than half the seven hours, and I was getting my second wind, when That
Jim again broke the silence.

"Used to bounce in a circus, didn't you?"

This was quite true! in a season of pecuniary depression I had once put
my legs into my stomach--had turned my athletic accomplishments to
financial advantage. It was not a pleasant topic, and I said nothing.
That Jim persisted.

"Wouldn't like to do a feller a somersault now, eh?"

The mocking tongue of this jeer was intolerable; the fellow evidently
considered me "done up," so taking a short run I clapped my hands to my
thighs and executed as pretty a flip-flap as ever was made without a
springboard! At the moment I came erect with my head still spinning, I
felt That Jim crowd past me, giving me a twirl that almost sent me off
the track. A moment later he had dashed ahead at a tremendous pace,
laughing derisively over his shoulder as if he had done a remarkably
clever thing to gain the lead.

I was on the heels of him in less than ten minutes, though I must
confess the fellow could walk amazingly. In half an hour I had run past
him, and at the end of the hour, such was my slashing gait, he was a
mere black dot in my rear, and appeared to be sitting on one of the
rails, thoroughly used up.

Relieved of Mr. Peasley, I naturally began thinking of my poor friend in
the Flatbroke jail, and it occurred to me that something might happen to
hasten the execution. I knew the feeling of the country against him, and
that many would be there from a distance who would naturally wish to get
home before nightfall. Nor could I help admitting to myself that five
o'clock was an unreasonably late hour for a hanging. Tortured with these
fears, I unconsciously increased my pace with every step, until it was
almost a run. I stripped off my coat and flung it away, opened my
collar, and unbuttoned my waistcoat. And at last, puffing and steaming
like a locomotive engine, I burst into a thin crowd of idlers on the
outskirts of the town, and flourished the pardon crazily above my head,
yelling, "Cut him down!--cut him down!"

Then, as every one stared in blank amazement and nobody said anything, I
found time to look about me, marveling at the oddly familiar appearance
of the town. As I looked, the houses, streets, and everything seemed to
undergo a sudden and mysterious transposition with reference to the
points of the compass, as if swinging round on a pivot; and like one
awakened from a dream I found myself among accustomed scenes. To be
plain about it, I was back again in Swan Creek, as right as a trivet!

It was all the work of That Jim Peasley. The designing rascal had
provoked me to throw a confusing somersault, then bumped against me,
turning me half round, and started on the back track, thereby inciting
me to hook it in the same direction. The cloudy day, the two lines of
telegraph poles, one on each side of the track, the entire sameness of
the landscape to the right and left--these had all conspired to prevent
my observing that I had put about.

When the excursion train returned from Flatbroke that evening the
passengers were told a little story at my expense. It was just what they
needed to cheer them up a bit after what they had seen; for that
flip-flap of mine had broken the neck of Jerome Bowles seven miles away!


DRAMATIS PERSONÆ--_A Supernumerary Editor. A Probationary Contributor_.

SCENE--"_The Expounder" Office_.



P.C.--The gods favor me. (_Produces roll of manuscript_.) Here is a
little story, which I will read to you.

S.E.--O, O!

P.C.--(_Reads_.) "It was the last night of the year--a naughty, noxious,
offensive night. In the principal street of San Francisco"--

S.E.--Confound San Francisco!

P.C.--It had to be somewhere. (_Reads_.)

"In the principal street of San Francisco stood a small female orphan,
marking time like a volunteer. Her little bare feet imprinted cold
kisses on the paving-stones as she put them down and drew them up
alternately. The chilling rain was having a good time with her scalp,
and toyed soppily with her hair--her own hair. The night-wind shrewdly
searched her tattered garments, as if it had suspected her of smuggling.
She saw crowds of determined-looking persons grimly ruining themselves
in toys and confectionery for the dear ones at home, and she wished she
was in a position to ruin a little--just a little. Then, as the happy
throng sped by her with loads of things to make the children sick, she
leaned against an iron lamp-post in front of a bake-shop and turned on
the wicked envy. She thought, poor thing, she would like to be a
cake--for this little girl was very hungry indeed. Then she tried again,
and thought she would like to be a tart with smashed fruit inside; then
she would be warmed over every day and nobody would eat her. For the
child was cold as well as hungry. Finally, she tried quite hard, and
thought she could be very well content as an oven; for then she would be
kept always hot, and bakers would put all manner of good things into her
with a long shovel."

S.E.--I've read that somewhere.

P.C.--Very likely. This little story has never been rejected by any
paper to which I have offered it. It gets better, too, every time I
write it. When it first appeared in _Veracity_ the editor said it cost
him a hundred subscribers. Just mark the improvement! (_Reads_.)

"The hours glided by--except a few that froze to the pavement--until
midnight. The streets were now deserted, and the almanac having
predicted a new moon about this time, the lamps had been conscientiously
extinguished. Suddenly a great globe of sound fell from an adjacent
church-tower, and exploded on the night with a deep metallic boom. Then
all the clocks and bells began ringing-in the New Year--pounding and
banging and yelling and finishing off all the nervous invalids left over
from the preceding Sunday. The little orphan started from her dream,
leaving a small patch of skin on the frosted lamp-post, clasped her thin
blue hands and looked upward, 'with mad disquietude,'"--

S.E.--In _The Monitor_ it was "with covetous eyes."

P.C.--I know it; hadn't read Byron then. Clever dog, Byron. (_Reads._)

"Presently a cranberry tart dropped at her feet, apparently from the

S.E.--How about those angels?

P.C.--The editor of _Good Will_ cut 'em out. He said San Francisco was
no place for them; and I don't believe----

S.E.--There, there! Never mind. Go on with the little story.

P.C.--(_Reads_.) "As she stooped to take up the tart a veal sandwich
came whizzing down, and cuffed one of her ears. Next a wheaten loaf made
her dodge nimbly, and then a broad ham fell flat-footed at her toes. A
sack of flour burst in the middle of the street; a side of bacon impaled
itself on an iron hitching-post. Pretty soon a chain of sausages fell in
a circle around her, flattening out as if a road-roller had passed over
them. Then there was a lull--nothing came down but dried fish, cold
puddings and flannel under-clothing; but presently her wishes began to
take effect again, and a quarter of beef descended with terrific
momentum upon the top of the little orphan's head."

S.E.--How did the editor of _The Reasonable Virtues_ like that quarter
of beef?

P.C.--Oh, he swallowed it like a little man, and stuck in a few dressed
pigs of his own. I've left them out, because I don't want outsiders
altering the Little Story. (_Reads_.)

"One would have thought that ought to suffice; but not so. Bedding,
shoes, firkins of butter, mighty cheeses, ropes of onions, quantities of
loose jam, kegs of oysters, titanic fowls, crates of crockery and
glassware, assorted house-keeping things, cooking ranges, and tons of
coal poured down in broad cataracts from a bounteous heaven, piling
themselves above that infant to a depth of twenty feet. The weather was
more than two hours in clearing up; and as late as half-past three a
ponderous hogshead of sugar struck at the corner of Clay and Kearney
Streets, with an impact that shook the peninsula like an earthquake and
stopped every clock in town.

"At daybreak the good merchants arrived upon the scene with shovels and
wheelbarrows, and before the sun of the new year was an hour old, they
had provided for all of these provisions--had stowed them away in their
cellars, and nicely arranged them on their shelves, ready for sale to
the deserving poor."

S.E.--And the little girl--what became of _her_?

P.C.--You musn't get ahead of the Little Story. (_Reads_.)

"When they had got down to the wicked little orphan who had not been
content with her lot some one brought a broom, and she was carefully
swept and smoothed out. Then they lifted her tenderly, and carried her
to the coroner. That functionary was standing in the door of his office,
and with a deprecatory wave of his hand, he said to the man who was
bearing her:

"'There, go away, my good fellow; there was a man here three times
yesterday trying to sell me just such a map.'"



Having murdered my mother under circumstances of singular atrocity, I
was arrested and put upon my trial, which lasted seven years. In
charging the jury, the judge of the Court of Acquittal remarked that it
was one of the most ghastly crimes that he had ever been called upon to
explain away.

At this, my attorney rose and said:

"May it please your Honor, crimes are ghastly or agreeable only by
comparison. If you were familiar with the details of my client's
previous murder of his uncle you would discern in his later offense (if
offense it may be called) something in the nature of tender forbearance
and filial consideration for the feelings of the victim. The appalling
ferocity of the former assassination was indeed inconsistent with any
hypothesis but that of guilt; and had it not been for the fact that the
honorable judge before whom he was tried was the president of a life
insurance company that took risks on hanging, and in which my client
held a policy, it is hard to see how he could decently have been
acquitted. If your Honor would like to hear about it for instruction and
guidance of your Honor's mind, this unfortunate man, my client, will
consent to give himself the pain of relating it under oath."

The district attorney said: "Your Honor, I object. Such a statement
would be in the nature of evidence, and the testimony in this case is
closed. The prisoner's statement should have been introduced three years
ago, in the spring of 1881."

"In a statutory sense," said the judge, "you are right, and in the Court
of Objections and Technicalities you would get a ruling in your favor.
But not in a Court of Acquittal. The objection is overruled."

"I except," said the district attorney.

"You cannot do that," the judge said. "I must remind you that in order
to take an exception you must first get this case transferred for a time
to the Court of Exceptions on a formal motion duly supported by
affidavits. A motion to that effect by your predecessor in office was
denied by me during the first year of this trial. Mr. Clerk, swear the

The customary oath having been administered, I made the following
statement, which impressed the judge with so strong a sense of the
comparative triviality of the offense for which I was on trial that he
made no further search for mitigating circumstances, but simply
instructed the jury to acquit, and I left the court, without a stain
upon my reputation:

"I was born in 1856 in Kalamakee, Mich., of honest and reputable
parents, one of whom Heaven has mercifully spared to comfort me in my
later years. In 1867 the family came to California and settled near
Nigger Head, where my father opened a road agency and prospered beyond
the dreams of avarice. He was a reticent, saturnine man then, though his
increasing years have now somewhat relaxed the austerity of his
disposition, and I believe that nothing but his memory of the sad event
for which I am now on trial prevents him from manifesting a genuine

"Four years after we had set up the road agency an itinerant preacher
came along, and having no other way to pay for the night's lodging that
we gave him, favored us with an exhortation of such power that, praise
God, we were all converted to religion. My father at once sent for his
brother, the Hon. William Ridley of Stockton, and on his arrival turned
over the agency to him, charging him nothing for the franchise nor
plant--the latter consisting of a Winchester rifle, a sawed-off shotgun,
and an assortment of masks made out of flour sacks. The family then
moved to Ghost Rock and opened a dance house. It was called 'The Saints'
Rest Hurdy-Gurdy,' and the proceedings each night began with prayer. It
was there that my now sainted mother, by her grace in the dance,
acquired the _sobriquet_ of 'The Bucking Walrus.'

"In the fall of '75 I had occasion to visit Coyote, on the road to
Mahala, and took the stage at Ghost Rock. There were four other
passengers. About three miles beyond Nigger Head, persons whom I
identified as my Uncle William and his two sons held up the stage.
Finding nothing in the express box, they went through the passengers. I
acted a most honorable part in the affair, placing myself in line with
the others, holding up my hands and permitting myself to be deprived of
forty dollars and a gold watch. From my behavior no one could have
suspected that I knew the gentlemen who gave the entertainment. A few
days later, when I went to Nigger Head and asked for the return of my
money and watch my uncle and cousins swore they knew nothing of the
matter, and they affected a belief that my father and I had done the job
ourselves in dishonest violation of commercial good faith. Uncle William
even threatened to retaliate by starting an opposition dance house at
Ghost Rock. As 'The Saints' Rest' had become rather unpopular, I saw
that this would assuredly ruin it and prove a paying enterprise, so I
told my uncle that I was willing to overlook the past if he would take
me into the scheme and keep the partnership a secret from my father.
This fair offer he rejected, and I then perceived that it would be
better and more satisfactory if he were dead.

"My plans to that end were soon perfected, and communicating them to my
dear parents I had the gratification of receiving their approval. My
father said he was proud of me, and my mother promised that although her
religion forbade her to assist in taking human life I should have the
advantage of her prayers for my success. As a preliminary measure
looking to my security in case of detection I made an application for
membership in that powerful order, the Knights of Murder, and in due
course was received as a member of the Ghost Rock commandery. On the day
that my probation ended I was for the first time permitted to inspect
the records of the order and learn who belonged to it--all the rites of
initiation having been conducted in masks. Fancy my delight when, in
looking over the roll of membership; I found the third name to be that
of my uncle, who indeed was junior vice-chancellor of the order! Here
was an opportunity exceeding my wildest dreams--to murder I could add
insubordination and treachery. It was what my good mother would have
called 'a special Providence.'

"At about this time something occurred which caused my cup of joy,
already full, to overflow on all sides, a circular cataract of bliss.
Three men, strangers in that locality, were arrested for the stage
robbery in which I had lost my money and watch. They were brought to
trial and, despite my efforts to clear them and fasten the guilt upon
three of the most respectable and worthy citizens of Ghost Rock,
convicted on the clearest proof. The murder would now be as wanton and
reasonless as I could wish.

"One morning I shouldered my Winchester rifle, and going over to my
uncle's house, near Nigger Head, asked my Aunt Mary, his wife, if he
were at home, adding that I had come to kill him. My aunt replied with
her peculiar smile that so many gentleman called on that errand and were
afterward carried away without having performed it that I must excuse
her for doubting my good faith in the matter. She said I did not look as
if I would kill anybody, so, as a proof of good faith I leveled my rifle
and wounded a Chinaman who happened to be passing the house. She said
she knew whole families that could do a thing of that kind, but Bill
Ridley was a horse of another color. She said, however, that I would
find him over on the other side of the creek in the sheep lot; and she
added that she hoped the best man would win.

"My Aunt Mary was one of the most fair-minded women that I have ever

"I found my uncle down on his knees engaged in skinning a sheep. Seeing
that he had neither gun nor pistol handy I had not the heart to shoot
him, so I approached him, greeted him pleasantly and struck him a
powerful blow on the head with the butt of my rifle. I have a very good
delivery and Uncle William lay down on his side, then rolled over on his
back, spread out his fingers and shivered. Before he could recover the
use of his limbs I seized the knife that he had been using and cut his
hamstrings. You know, doubtless, that when you sever the _tendo
Achillis_ the patient has no further use of his leg; it is just the same
as if he had no leg. Well, I parted them both, and when he revived he
was at my service. As soon as he comprehended the situation, he said:

"'Samuel, you have got the drop on me and can afford to be generous. I
have only one thing to ask of you, and that is that you carry me to the
house and finish me in the bosom of my family.'

"I told him I thought that a pretty reasonable request and I would do so
if he would let me put him into a wheat sack; he would be easier to
carry that way and if we were seen by the neighbors _en route_ it would
cause less remark. He agreed to that, and going to the barn I got a
sack. This, however, did not fit him; it was too short and much wider
than he; so I bent his legs, forced his knees up against his breast and
got him into it that way, tying the sack above his head. He was a heavy
man and I had all that I could do to get him on my back, but I staggered
along for some distance until I came to a swing that some of the
children had suspended to the branch of an oak. Here I laid him down and
sat upon him to rest, and the sight of the rope gave me a happy
inspiration. In twenty minutes my uncle, still in the sack, swung free
to the sport of the wind.

"I had taken down the rope, tied one end tightly about the mouth of the
bag, thrown the other across the limb and hauled him up about five feet
from the ground. Fastening the other end of the rope also about the
mouth of the sack, I had the satisfaction to see my uncle converted into
a large, fine pendulum. I must add that he was not himself entirely
aware of the nature of the change that he had undergone in his relation
to the exterior world, though in justice to a good man's memory I ought
to say that I do not think he would in any case have wasted much of my
time in vain remonstrance.

"Uncle William had a ram that was famous in all that region as a
fighter. It was in a state of chronic constitutional indignation. Some
deep disappointment in early life had soured its disposition and it had
declared war upon the whole world. To say that it would butt anything
accessible is but faintly to express the nature and scope of its
military activity: the universe was its antagonist; its methods that of
a projectile. It fought like the angels and devils, in mid-air, cleaving
the atmosphere like a bird, describing a parabolic curve and descending
upon its victim at just the exact angle of incidence to make the most of
its velocity and weight. Its momentum, calculated in foot-tons, was
something incredible. It had been seen to destroy a four year old bull
by a single impact upon that animal's gnarly forehead. No stone wall had
ever been known to resist its downward swoop; there were no trees tough
enough to stay it; it would splinter them into matchwood and defile
their leafy honors in the dust. This irascible and implacable
brute--this incarnate thunderbolt--this monster of the upper deep, I had
seen reposing in the shade of an adjacent tree, dreaming dreams of
conquest and glory. It was with a view to summoning it forth to the
field of honor that I suspended its master in the manner described.

"Having completed my preparations, I imparted to the avuncular pendulum
a gentle oscillation, and retiring to cover behind a contiguous rock,
lifted up my voice in a long rasping cry whose diminishing final note
was drowned in a noise like that of a swearing cat, which emanated from
the sack. Instantly that formidable sheep was upon its feet and had
taken in the military situation at a glance. In a few moments it had
approached, stamping, to within fifty yards of the swinging foeman, who,
now retreating and anon advancing, seemed to invite the fray. Suddenly I
saw the beast's head drop earthward as if depressed by the weight of its
enormous horns; then a dim, white, wavy streak of sheep prolonged itself
from that spot in a generally horizontal direction to within about four
yards of a point immediately beneath the enemy. There it struck sharply
upward, and before it had faded from my gaze at the place whence it had
set out I heard a horrid thump and a piercing scream, and my poor uncle
shot forward, with a slack rope higher than the limb to which he was
attached. Here the rope tautened with a jerk, arresting his flight, and
back he swung in a breathless curve to the other end of his arc. The ram
had fallen, a heap of indistinguishable legs, wool and horns, but
pulling itself together and dodging as its antagonist swept downward it
retired at random, alternately shaking its head and stamping its
fore-feet. When it had backed about the same distance as that from which
it had delivered the assault it paused again, bowed its head as if in
prayer for victory and again shot forward, dimly visible as before--a
prolonging white streak with monstrous undulations, ending with a sharp
ascension. Its course this time was at a right angle to its former one,
and its impatience so great that it struck the enemy before he had
nearly reached the lowest point of his arc. In consequence he went
flying round and round in a horizontal circle whose radius was about
equal to half the length of the rope, which I forgot to say was nearly
twenty feet long. His shrieks, _crescendo_ in approach and _diminuendo_
in recession, made the rapidity of his revolution more obvious to the
ear than to the eye. He had evidently not yet been struck in a vital
spot. His posture in the sack and the distance from the ground at which
he hung compelled the ram to operate upon his lower extremities and the
end of his back. Like a plant that has struck its root into some
poisonous mineral, my poor uncle was dying slowly upward.

"After delivering its second blow the ram had not again retired. The
fever of battle burned hot in its heart; its brain was intoxicated with
the wine of strife. Like a pugilist who in his rage forgets his skill
and fights ineffectively at half-arm's length, the angry beast
endeavored to reach its fleeting foe by awkward vertical leaps as he
passed overhead, sometimes, indeed, succeeding in striking him feebly,
but more frequently overthrown by its own misguided eagerness. But as
the impetus was exhausted and the man's circles narrowed in scope and
diminished in speed, bringing him nearer to the ground, these tactics
produced better results, eliciting a superior quality of screams, which
I greatly enjoyed.

"Suddenly, as if the bugles had sung truce, the ram suspended
hostilities and walked away, thoughtfully wrinkling and smoothing its
great aquiline nose, and occasionally cropping a bunch of grass and
slowly munching it. It seemed to have tired of war's alarms and resolved
to beat the sword into a plowshare and cultivate the arts of peace.
Steadily it held its course away from the field of fame until it had
gained a distance of nearly a quarter of a mile. There it stopped and
stood with its rear to the foe, chewing its cud and apparently half
asleep. I observed, however, an occasional slight turn of its head, as
if its apathy were more affected than real.

"Meantime Uncle William's shrieks had abated with his motion, and
nothing was heard from him but long, low moans, and at long intervals my
name, uttered in pleading tones exceedingly grateful to my ear.
Evidently the man had not the faintest notion of what was being done to
him, and was inexpressibly terrified. When Death comes cloaked in
mystery he is terrible indeed. Little by little my uncle's oscillations
diminished, and finally he hung motionless. I went to him and was about
to give him the _coup de grâce_, when I heard and felt a succession of
smart shocks which shook the ground like a series of light earthquakes,
and turning in the direction of the ram, saw a long cloud of dust
approaching me with inconceivable rapidity and alarming effect! At a
distance of some thirty yards away it stopped short, and from the near
end of it rose into the air what I at first thought a great white bird.
Its ascent was so smooth and easy and regular that I could not realize
its extraordinary celerity, and was lost in admiration of its grace. To
this day the impression remains that it was a slow, deliberate movement,
the ram--for it was that animal--being upborne by some power other than
its own impetus, and supported through the successive stages of its
flight with infinite tenderness and care. My eyes followed its progress
through the air with unspeakable pleasure, all the greater by contrast
with my former terror of its approach by land. Onward and upward the
noble animal sailed, its head bent down almost between its knees, its
fore-feet thrown back, its hinder legs trailing to rear like the legs of
a soaring heron.

"At a height of forty or fifty feet, as fond recollection presents it to
view, it attained its zenith and appeared to remain an instant
stationary; then, tilting suddenly forward without altering the relative
position of its parts, it shot downward on a steeper and steeper course
with augmenting velocity, passed immediately above me with a noise like
the rush of a cannon shot and struck my poor uncle almost squarely on
the top of the head! So frightful was the impact that not only the man's
neck was broken, but the rope too; and the body of the deceased, forced
against the earth, was crushed to pulp beneath the awful front of that
meteoric sheep! The concussion stopped all the clocks between Lone Hand
and Dutch Dan's, and Professor Davidson, a distinguished authority in
matters seismic, who happened to be in the vicinity, promptly explained
that the vibrations were from north to southwest.

"Altogether, I cannot help thinking that in point of artistic atrocity
my murder of Uncle William has seldom been excelled."


My name is Boffer Bings. I was born of honest parents in one of the
humbler walks of life, my father being a manufacturer of dog-oil and my
mother having a small studio in the shadow of the village church, where
she disposed of unwelcome babes. In my boyhood I was trained to habits
of industry; I not only assisted my father in procuring dogs for his
vats, but was frequently employed by my mother to carry away the debris
of her work in the studio. In performance of this duty I sometimes had
need of all my natural intelligence for all the law officers of the
vicinity were opposed to my mother's business. They were not elected on
an opposition ticket, and the matter had never been made a political
issue; it just happened so. My father's business of making dog-oil was,
naturally, less unpopular, though the owners of missing dogs sometimes
regarded him with suspicion, which was reflected, to some extent, upon
me. My father had, as silent partners, all the physicians of the town,
who seldom wrote a prescription which did not contain what they were
pleased to designate as _Ol. can_. It is really the most valuable
medicine ever discovered. But most persons are unwilling to make
personal sacrifices for the afflicted, and it was evident that many of
the fattest dogs in town had been forbidden to play with me--a fact
which pained my young sensibilities, and at one time came near driving
me to become a pirate.

Looking back upon those days, I cannot but regret, at times, that by
indirectly bringing my beloved parents to their death I was the author
of misfortunes profoundly affecting my future.

One evening while passing my father's oil factory with the body of a
foundling from my mother's studio I saw a constable who seemed to be
closely watching my movements. Young as I was, I had learned that a
constable's acts, of whatever apparent character, are prompted by the
most reprehensible motives, and I avoided him by dodging into the oilery
by a side door which happened to stand ajar. I locked it at once and was
alone with my dead. My father had retired for the night. The only light
in the place came from the furnace, which glowed a deep, rich crimson
under one of the vats, casting ruddy reflections on the walls. Within
the cauldron the oil still rolled in indolent ebullition, occasionally
pushing to the surface a piece of dog. Seating myself to wait for the
constable to go away, I held the naked body of the foundling in my lap
and tenderly stroked its short, silken hair. Ah, how beautiful it was!
Even at that early age I was passionately fond of children, and as I
looked upon this cherub I could almost find it in my heart to wish that
the small, red wound upon its breast--the work of my dear mother--had
not been mortal.

It had been my custom to throw the babes into the river which nature had
thoughtfully provided for the purpose, but that night I did not dare to
leave the oilery for fear of the constable. "After all," I said to
myself, "it cannot greatly matter if I put it into this cauldron. My
father will never know the bones from those of a puppy, and the few
deaths which may result from administering another kind of oil for the
incomparable _ol. can_. are not important in a population which
increases so rapidly." In short, I took the first step in crime and
brought myself untold sorrow by casting the babe into the cauldron.

The next day, somewhat to my surprise, my father, rubbing his hands with
satisfaction, informed me and my mother that he had obtained the finest
quality of oil that was ever seen; that the physicians to whom he had
shown samples had so pronounced it. He added that he had no knowledge as
to how the result was obtained; the dogs had been treated in all
respects as usual, and were of an ordinary breed. I deemed it my duty to
explain--which I did, though palsied would have been my tongue if I
could have foreseen the consequences. Bewailing their previous ignorance
of the advantages of combining their industries, my parents at once took
measures to repair the error. My mother removed her studio to a wing of
the factory building and my duties in connection with the business
ceased; I was no longer required to dispose of the bodies of the small
superfluous, and there was no need of alluring dogs to their doom, for
my father discarded them altogether, though they still had an honorable
place in the name of the oil. So suddenly thrown into idleness, I might
naturally have been expected to become vicious and dissolute, but I did
not. The holy influence of my dear mother was ever about me to protect
me from the temptations which beset youth, and my father was a deacon in
a church. Alas, that through my fault these estimable persons should
have come to so bad an end!

Finding a double profit in her business, my mother now devoted herself
to it with a new assiduity. She removed not only superfluous and
unwelcome babes to order, but went out into the highways and byways,
gathering in children of a larger growth, and even such adults as she
could entice to the oilery. My father, too, enamored of the superior
quality of oil produced, purveyed for his vats with diligence and zeal.
The conversion of their neighbors into dog-oil became, in short, the one
passion of their lives--an absorbing and overwhelming greed took
possession of their souls and served them in place of a hope in
Heaven--by which, also, they were inspired.

So enterprising had they now become that a public meeting was held and
resolutions passed severely censuring them. It was intimated by the
chairman that any further raids upon the population would be met in a
spirit of hostility. My poor parents left the meeting broken-hearted,
desperate and, I believe, not altogether sane. Anyhow, I deemed it
prudent not to enter the oilery with them that night, but slept outside
in a stable.

At about midnight some mysterious impulse caused me to rise and peer
through a window into the furnace-room, where I knew my father now
slept. The fires were burning as brightly as if the following day's
harvest had been expected to be abundant. One of the large cauldrons was
slowly "walloping" with a mysterious appearance of self-restraint, as if
it bided its time to put forth its full energy. My father was not in
bed; he had risen in his nightclothes and was preparing a noose in a
strong cord. From the looks which he cast at the door of my mother's
bedroom I knew too well the purpose that he had in mind. Speechless and
motionless with terror, I could do nothing in prevention or warning.
Suddenly the door of my mother's apartment was opened, noiselessly, and
the two confronted each other, both apparently surprised. The lady,
also, was in her night clothes, and she held in her right hand the tool
of her trade, a long, narrow-bladed dagger.

She, too, had been unable to deny herself the last profit which the
unfriendly action of the citizens and my absence had left her. For one
instant they looked into each other's blazing eyes and then sprang
together with indescribable fury. Round and round the room they
struggled, the man cursing, the woman shrieking, both fighting like
demons--she to strike him with the dagger, he to strangle her with his
great bare hands. I know not how long I had the unhappiness to observe
this disagreeable instance of domestic infelicity, but at last, after a
more than usually vigorous struggle, the combatants suddenly moved

My father's breast and my mother's weapon showed evidences of contact.
For another instant they glared at each other in the most unamiable way;
then my poor, wounded father, feeling the hand of death upon him, leaped
forward, unmindful of resistance, grasped my dear mother in his arms,
dragged her to the side of the boiling cauldron, collected all his
failing energies, and sprang in with her! In a moment, both had
disappeared and were adding their oil to that of the committee of
citizens who had called the day before with an invitation to the public

Convinced that these unhappy events closed to me every avenue to an
honorable career in that town, I removed to the famous city of Otumwee,
where these memoirs are written with a heart full of remorse for a
heedless act entailing so dismal a commercial disaster.


Early one June morning in 1872 I murdered my father--an act which made a
deep impression on me at the time. This was before my marriage, while I
was living with my parents in Wisconsin. My father and I were in the
library of our home, dividing the proceeds of a burglary which we had
committed that night. These consisted of household goods mostly, and the
task of equitable division was difficult. We got on very well with the
napkins, towels and such things, and the silverware was parted pretty
nearly equally, but you can see for yourself that when you try to divide
a single music-box by two without a remainder you will have trouble. It
was that music-box which brought disaster and disgrace upon our family.
If we had left it my poor father might now be alive.

It was a most exquisite and beautiful piece of workmanship--inlaid with
costly woods and carven very curiously. It would not only play a great
variety of tunes, but would whistle like a quail, bark like a dog, crow
every morning at daylight whether it was wound up or not, and break the
Ten Commandments. It was this last mentioned accomplishment that won my
father's heart and caused him to commit the only dishonorable act of his
life, though possibly he would have committed more if he had been
spared: he tried to conceal that music-box from me, and declared upon
his honor that he had not taken it, though I knew very well that, so far
as he was concerned, the burglary had been undertaken chiefly for the
purpose of obtaining it.

My father had the music-box hidden under his cloak; we had worn cloaks
by way of disguise. He had solemnly assured me that he did not take it.
I knew that he did, and knew something of which he was evidently
ignorant; namely, that the box would crow at daylight and betray him if
I could prolong the division of profits till that time. All occurred as
I wished: as the gaslight began to pale in the library and the shape of
the windows was seen dimly behind the curtains, a long cock-a-doodle-doo
came from beneath the old gentleman's cloak, followed by a few bars of
an aria from _Tannhauser_, ending with a loud click. A small hand-axe,
which we had used to break into the unlucky house, lay between us on the
table; I picked it up. The old man seeing that further concealment was
useless took the box from under his cloak and set it on the table. "Cut
it in two if you prefer that plan," said he; "I tried to save it from

He was a passionate lover of music and could himself play the concertina
with expression and feeling.

I said: "I do not question the purity of your motive: it would be
presumptuous in me to sit in judgment on my father. But business is
business, and with this axe I am going to effect a dissolution of our
partnership unless you will consent in all future burglaries to wear a

"No," he said, after some reflection, "no, I could not do that; it would
look like a confession of dishonesty. People would say that you
distrusted me."

I could not help admiring his spirit and sensitiveness; for a moment I
was proud of him and disposed to overlook his fault, but a glance at the
richly jeweled music-box decided me, and, as I said, I removed the old
man from this vale of tears. Having done so, I was a trifle uneasy. Not
only was he my father--the author of my being--but the body would be
certainly discovered. It was now broad daylight and my mother was likely
to enter the library at any moment. Under the circumstances, I thought
it expedient to remove her also, which I did. Then I paid off all the
servants and discharged them.

That afternoon I went to the chief of police, told him what I had done
and asked his advice. It would be very painful to me if the facts became
publicly known. My conduct would be generally condemned; the newspapers
would bring it up against me if ever I should run for office. The chief
saw the force of these considerations; he was himself an assassin of
wide experience. After consulting with the presiding judge of the Court
of Variable Jurisdiction he advised me to conceal the bodies in one of
the bookcases, get a heavy insurance on the house and burn it down. This
I proceeded to do.

In the library was a book-case which my father had recently purchased of
some cranky inventor and had not filled. It was in shape and size
something like the old-fashioned "wardrobes" which one sees in bed-rooms
without closets, but opened all the way down, like a woman's
night-dress. It had glass doors. I had recently laid out my parents and
they were now rigid enough to stand erect; so I stood them in this
book-case, from which I had removed the shelves. I locked them in and
tacked some curtains over the glass doors. The inspector from the
insurance office passed a half-dozen times before the case without

That night, after getting my policy, I set fire to the house and started
through the woods to town, two miles away, where I managed to be found
about the time the excitement was at its height. With cries of
apprehension for the fate of my parents, I joined the rush and arrived
at the fire some two hours after I had kindled it. The whole town was
there as I dashed up. The house was entirely consumed, but in one end of
the level bed of glowing embers, bolt upright and uninjured, was that
book-case! The curtains had burned away, exposing the glass-doors,
through which the fierce, red light illuminated the interior. There
stood my dear father "in his habit as he lived," and at his side the
partner of his joys and sorrows. Not a hair of them was singed, their
clothing was intact. On their heads and throats the injuries which in
the accomplishment of my designs I had been compelled to inflict were
conspicuous. As in the presence of a miracle, the people were silent;
awe and terror had stilled every tongue. I was myself greatly affected.

Some three years later, when the events herein related had nearly faded
from my memory, I went to New York to assist in passing some counterfeit
United States bonds. Carelessly looking into a furniture store one day,
I saw the exact counterpart of that bookcase. "I bought it for a trifle
from a reformed inventor," the dealer explained. "He said it was
fireproof, the pores of the wood being filled with alum under hydraulic
pressure and the glass made of asbestos. I don't suppose it is really
fireproof--you can have it at the price of an ordinary book-case."

"No," I said, "if you cannot warrant it fireproof I won't take it"--and
I bade him good morning.

I would not have had it at any price: it revived memories that were
exceedingly disagreeable.


By those of my friends who happen to know that I sometimes amuse myself
with hypnotism, mind reading and kindred phenomena, I am frequently
asked if I have a clear conception of the nature of whatever principle
underlies them. To this question I always reply that I neither have nor
desire to have. I am no investigator with an ear at the key-hole of
Nature's workshop, trying with vulgar curiosity to steal the secrets of
her trade. The interests of science are as little to me as mine seem to
have been to science.

Doubtless the phenomena in question are simple enough, and in no way
transcend our powers of comprehension if only we could find the clew;
but for my part I prefer not to find it, for I am of a singularly
romantic disposition, deriving more gratification from mystery than from
knowledge. It was commonly remarked of me when I was a child that my big
blue eyes appeared to have been made rather to look into than look out
of--such was their dreamful beauty, and in my frequent periods of
abstraction, their indifference to what was going on. In those
peculiarities they resembled, I venture to think, the soul which lies
behind them, always more intent upon some lovely conception which it has
created in its own image than concerned about the laws of nature and the
material frame of things. All this, irrelevant and egotistic as it may
seem, is related by way of accounting for the meagreness of the light
that I am able to throw upon a subject that has engaged so much of my
attention, and concerning which there is so keen and general a
curiosity. With my powers and opportunities, another person might
doubtless have an explanation for much of what I present simply as

My first knowledge that I possessed unusual powers came to me in my
fourteenth year, when at school. Happening one day to have forgotten to
bring my noon-day luncheon, I gazed longingly at that of a small girl
who was preparing to eat hers. Looking up, her eyes met mine and she
seemed unable to withdraw them. After a moment of hesitancy she came
forward in an absent kind of way and without a word surrendered her
little basket with its tempting contents and walked away. Inexpressibly
pleased, I relieved my hunger and destroyed the basket. After that I had
not the trouble to bring a luncheon for myself: that little girl was my
daily purveyor; and not infrequently in satisfying my simple need from
her frugal store I combined pleasure and profit by constraining her
attendance at the feast and making misleading proffer of the viands,
which eventually I consumed to the last fragment. The girl was always
persuaded that she had eaten all herself; and later in the day her
tearful complaints of hunger surprised the teacher, entertained the
pupils, earned for her the sobriquet of Greedy-Gut and filled me with a
peace past understanding.

A disagreeable feature of this otherwise satisfactory condition of
things was the necessary secrecy: the transfer of the luncheon, for
example, had to be made at some distance from the madding crowd, in a
wood; and I blush to think of the many other unworthy subterfuges
entailed by the situation. As I was (and am) naturally of a frank and
open disposition, these became more and more irksome, and but for the
reluctance of my parents to renounce the obvious advantages of the new
_régime_ I would gladly have reverted to the old. The plan that I
finally adopted to free myself from the consequences of my own powers
excited a wide and keen interest at the time, and that part of it which
consisted in the death of the girl was severely condemned, but it is
hardly pertinent to the scope of this narrative.

For some years afterward I had little opportunity to practice hypnotism;
such small essays as I made at it were commonly barren of other
recognition than solitary confinement on a bread-and-water diet;
sometimes, indeed, they elicited nothing better than the
cat-o'-nine-tails. It was when I was about to leave the scene of these
small disappointments that my one really important feat was performed.

I had been called into the warden's office and given a suit of
civilian's clothing, a trifling sum of money and a great deal of advice,
which I am bound to confess was of a much better quality than the
clothing. As I was passing out of the gate into the light of freedom I
suddenly turned and looking the warden gravely in the eye, soon had him
in control.

"You are an ostrich," I said.

At the post-mortem examination the stomach was found to contain a great
quantity of indigestible articles mostly of wood or metal. Stuck fast in
the oesophagus and constituting, according to the Coroner's jury, the
immediate cause of death, one door-knob.

I was by nature a good and affectionate son, but as I took my way into
the great world from which I had been so long secluded I could not help
remembering that all my misfortunes had flowed like a stream from the
niggard economy of my parents in the matter of school luncheons; and I
knew of no reason to think they had reformed.

On the road between Succotash Hill and South Asphyxia is a little open
field which once contained a shanty known as Pete Gilstrap's Place,
where that gentleman used to murder travelers for a living. The death of
Mr. Gilstrap and the diversion of nearly all the travel to another road
occurred so nearly at the same time that no one has ever been able to
say which was cause and which effect. Anyhow, the field was now a
desolation and the Place had long been burned. It was while going afoot
to South Asphyxia, the home of my childhood, that I found both my
parents on their way to the Hill. They had hitched their team and were
eating luncheon under an oak tree in the center of the field. The sight
of the luncheon called up painful memories of my school days and roused
the sleeping lion in my breast. Approaching the guilty couple, who at
once recognized me, I ventured to suggest that I share their

"Of this cheer, my son," said the author of my being, with
characteristic pomposity, which age had not withered, "there is
sufficient for but two. I am not, I hope, insensible to the hunger-light
in your eyes, but--"

My father has never completed that sentence; what he mistook for
hunger-light was simply the earnest gaze of the hypnotist. In a few
seconds he was at my service. A few more sufficed for the lady, and the
dictates of a just resentment could be carried into effect. "My former
father," I said, "I presume that it is known to you that you and this
lady are no longer what you were?"

"I have observed a certain subtle change," was the rather dubious reply
of the old gentleman; "it is perhaps attributable to age."

"It is more than that," I explained; "it goes to character--to species.
You and the lady here are, in truth, two _broncos_--wild stallions both,
and unfriendly."

"Why, John," exclaimed my dear mother, "you don't mean to say that I

"Madam," I replied, solemnly, fixing my eyes again upon hers, "you are."

Scarcely had the words fallen from my lips when she dropped upon her
hands and knees, and backing up to the old man squealed like a demon and
delivered a vicious kick upon his shin! An instant later he was himself
down on all-fours, headed away from her and flinging his feet at her
simultaneously and successively. With equal earnestness but inferior
agility, because of her hampering body-gear, she plied her own. Their
flying legs crossed and mingled in the most bewildering way; their feet
sometimes meeting squarely in midair, their bodies thrust forward,
falling flat upon the ground and for a moment helpless. On recovering
themselves they would resume the combat, uttering their frenzy in the
nameless sounds of the furious brutes which they believed themselves to
be--the whole region rang with their clamor! Round and round they
wheeled, the blows of their feet falling "like lightnings from the
mountain cloud." They plunged and reared backward upon their knees,
struck savagely at each other with awkward descending blows of both
fists at once, and dropped again upon their hands as if unable to
maintain the upright position of the body. Grass and pebbles were torn
from the soil by hands and feet; clothing, hair, faces inexpressibly
defiled with dust and blood. Wild, inarticulate screams of rage attested
the delivery of the blows; groans, grunts and gasps their receipt.
Nothing more truly military was ever seen at Gettysburg or Waterloo: the
valor of my dear parents in the hour of danger can never cease to be to
me a source of pride and gratification. At the end of it all two
battered, tattered, bloody and fragmentary vestiges of mortality
attested the solemn fact that the author of the strife was an orphan.

Arrested for provoking a breach of the peace, I was, and have ever since
been, tried in the Court of Technicalities and Continuances whence,
after fifteen years of proceedings, my attorney is moving heaven and
earth to get the case taken to the Court of Remandment for New Trials.

Such are a few of my principal experiments in the mysterious force or
agency known as hypnotic suggestion. Whether or not it could be employed
by a bad man for an unworthy purpose I am unable to say.



While I was in Kansas I purchased a weekly newspaper--the _Claybank
Thundergust of Reform_. This paper had never paid its expenses; it had
ruined four consecutive publishers; but my brother-in-law, Mr. Jefferson
Scandril, of Weedhaven, was going to run for the Legislature, and I
naturally desired his defeat; so it became necessary to have an organ in
Claybank to assist in his political extinction. When the establishment
came into my hands, the editor was a fellow who had "opinions," and him
I at once discharged with an admonition. I had some difficulty in
procuring a successor; every man in the county applied for the place. I
could not appoint one without having to fight a majority of the others,
and was eventually compelled to write to a friend at Warm Springs, in
the adjoining State of Missouri, to send me an editor from abroad whose
instalment at the helm of manifest destiny could have no local

The man he sent me was a frowsy, seedy fellow, named Masthead--not
larger, apparently, than a boy of sixteen years, though it was difficult
to say from the outside how much of him was editor and how much cast-off
clothing; for in the matter of apparel he had acted upon his favorite
professional maxim, and "sunk the individual;" his attire--eminently
eclectic, and in a sense international--quite overcame him at all
points. However, as my friend had assured me he was "a graduate of one
of the largest institutions in his native State," I took him in and
bought a pen for him. My instructions to him were brief and simple.

"Mr. Masthead," said I, "it is the policy of the _Thundergust_ first,
last, and all the time, in this world and the next, to resent the
intrusion of Mr. Jefferson Scandril into politics."

The first thing the little rascal did was to write a withering leader
denouncing Mr. Scandril as a "demagogue, the degradation of whose
political opinions was only equaled by the disgustfulness of the family
connections of which those opinions were the spawn!"

I hastened to point out to Mr. Masthead that it had never been the
policy of the _Thundergust_ to attack the family relations of an
offensive candidate, although this was not strictly true.

"I am very sorry," he replied, running his head up out of his clothes
till it towered as much as six inches above the table at which he sat;
"no offense, I hope."

"Oh, none in the world," said I, as carelessly as I could manage it;
"only I don't think it a legitimate--that is, an effective, method of

"Mr. Johnson," said he--I was passing as Johnson at that time, I
remember--"Mr. Johnson, I think it _is_ an effective method. Personally
I might perhaps prefer another line of argument in this particular case,
and personally perhaps you might; but in our profession personal
considerations must be blown to the winds of the horizon; we must sink
the individual. In opposing the election of your relative, sir, you have
set the seal of your heavy displeasure upon the sin of nepotism, and for
this I respect you; nepotism must be got under! But in the display of
Roman virtues, sir, we must go the whole hog. When in the interest of
public morality"--Mr. Masthead was now gesticulating earnestly with the
sleeves of his coat--"Virginius stabbed his daughter, was he influenced
by personal considerations? When Curtius leaped into the yawning gulf,
did he not sink the individual?"

I admitted that he did, but feeling in a contentious mood, prolonged the
discussion by leisurely loading and capping a revolver; but, prescient
of my argument, Mr. Masthead avoided refutation by hastily adjourning
the debate. I sent him a note that evening, filling-in a few of the
details of the policy that I had before sketched in outline. Amongst
other things I submitted that it would be better for us to exalt Mr.
Scandril's opponent than to degrade himself. To this Mr. Masthead
reluctantly assented--"sinking the individual," he reproachfully
explained, "in the dependent employee--the powerless bondsman!" The next
issue of the _Thundergust_ contained, under the heading, "Invigorating
Zephyrs," the following editorial article:

"Last week we declared our unalterable opposition to the candidacy of
Mr. Jefferson Scandril, and gave reasons for the faith that is in us.
For the first time in its history this paper made a clear, thoughtful,
and adequate avowal and exposition of eternal principle! Abandoning for
the present the stand we then took, let us trace the antecedents of Mr.
Scandril's opponent up to their source. It has been urged against Mr.
Broskin that he spent some years of his life in the lunatic asylum at
Warm Springs, in the adjoining commonwealth of Missouri. This cuckoo
cry--raised though it is by dogs of political darkness--we shall not
stoop to controvert, for it is accidentally true; but next week we shall
show, as by the stroke of an enchanter's wand, that this great
statesman's detractors would probably not derive any benefits from a
residence in the same institution, their mental aberration being
rottenly incurable!"

I thought this rather strong and not quite to the point; but Masthead
said it was a fact that our candidate, who was very little known in
Claybank, had "served a term" in the Warm Springs asylum, and the issue
must be boldly met--that evasion and denial were but forms of
prostration beneath the iron wheels of Truth! As he said this he seemed
to inflate and expand so as almost to fill his clothes, and the fire of
his eye somehow burned into me an impression--since effaced--that a just
cause is not imperiled by a trifling concession to fact. So, leaving the
matter quite in my editor's hands I went away to keep some important
engagements, the paragraph having involved me in several duels with the
friends of Mr. Broskin. I thought it rather hard that I should have to
defend my new editor's policy against the supporters of my own
candidate, particularly as I was clearly in the right and they knew
nothing whatever about the matter in dispute, not one of them having
ever before so much as heard of the now famous Warm Springs asylum. But
I would not shirk even the humblest journalistic duty; I fought these
fellows and acquitted myself as became a man of letters and a
politician. The hurts I got were some time healing, and in the interval
every prominent member of my party who came to Claybank to speak to the
people regarded it as a simple duty to call first at my house, make a
tender inquiry as to the progress of my recovery and leave a challenge.
My physician forbade me to read a line of anything; the consequence was
that Masthead had it all his own way with the paper. In looking over the
old files now, I find that he devoted his entire talent and all the
space of the paper, including what had been the advertising columns, to
confessing that our candidate had been an inmate of a lunatic asylum,
and contemptuously asking the opposing party what they were going to do
about it.

All this time Mr. Broskin made no sign; but when the challenges became
intolerable I indignantly instructed Mr. Masthead to whip round to the
other side and support my brother-in-law. Masthead "sank the
individual," and duly announced, with his accustomed frankness, our
change of policy. Then Mr. Broskin came down to Claybank--to thank me!
He was a fine, respectable-looking gentleman, and impressed me very
favorably. But Masthead was in when he called, and the effect upon _him_
was different. He shrank into a mere heap of old clothes, turned white,
and chattered his teeth. Noting this extraordinary behavior, I at once
sought an explanation.

"Mr. Broskin," said I, with a meaning glance at the trembling editor,
"from certain indications I am led to fear that owing to some mistake we
may have been doing you an injustice. May I ask you if you were really
ever in the Lunatic asylum at Warm Springs, Missouri?"

"For three years," he replied, quietly, "I was the physician in charge
of that institution. Your son"--turning to Masthead, who was flying all
sorts of colors--"was, if I mistake not, one of my patients. I learn
that a few weeks ago a friend of yours, named Norton, secured the young
man's release upon your promise to take care of him yourself in future.
I hope that home associations have improved the poor fellow. It's very

It was indeed. Norton was the name of the man to whom I had written for
an editor, and who had sent me one! Norton was ever an obliging fellow.


_J. Munniglut, Proprietor, to Peter Pitchin, Editor._

"STINGER" OFFICE, Monday, 9 A.M.

A man has called to ask "who wrote that article about Mr. Muskler." I
told him to find out, and he says that is what he means to do. He has
consented to amuse himself with the exchanges while I ask you. I don't
approve the article.

_Peter Pitchin, Editor, to J. Munniglut, Proprietor_.

13 LOFER STREET, Monday, 10 A.M.

Do you happen to remember how Dacier translates _Difficile est proprie
communia dicere_? I've made a note of it somewhere, but can't find it.
If you remember please leave a memorandum of it on your table, and I'll
get it when I come down this afternoon.

P.S.--Tell the man to go away; we can't be bothered about that fellow

_J. Munniglut, Proprietor, to Peter Pitchin, Editor._

"STINGER" OFFICE, Monday, 11:30 A.M.

I can't be impolite to a stranger, you know; I must tell him _somebody_
wrote it. He has finished the exchanges, and is drumming on the floor
with the end of his stick; I fear the people in the shop below won't
like it. Besides, the foreman says it disturbs the compositors in the
next room. Suppose you come down.

_Peter Pitchin, Editor, to J. Munniglut, Proprietor._

13 LOFER STREET, Monday, 1 P.M.

I have found the note I made of that translation, but it is in French
and I can't make it out. Try the man with the dictionary and the "Books
of Dates." They ought to last him till it's time to close the office. I
shall be down early to-morrow morning.

P.S.--How big is he? Suggest a civil suit for libel.

_J. Munniglut, Proprietor, to Peter Pitchin, Editor._

"STINGER" OFFICE, Monday, 3 P.M.

He looks larger than he was when he came in. I've offered him the
dictionary; he says he has read it before. He is sitting on my table.
Come at once!

_Peter Pitchin, Editor, to J. Munniglut, Proprietor._

13 LOFER STREET, Monday, 5 P.M.

I don't think I shall. I am doing an article for this week on "The
Present Aspect of the Political Horizon." Expect me _very_ early
to-morrow. You had better turn the man out and shut up the office.

_Henry Inxling, Bookkeeper, to Peter Pitchin, Editor._

"STINGER" OFFICE, Tuesday, 8 A.M.

Mr. Munniglut has not arrived, but his friend, the large gentleman who
was with him all day yesterday, is here again. He seems very desirous of
seeing you, and says he will wait. Perhaps he is your cousin. I thought
I would tell you he was here, so that you might hasten down.

Ought I to allow dogs in the office? The gentleman has a bull-dog.

_Peter Pitchin, Editor, to Henry Inxling, Bookkeeper._

13 LOFER STREET, Tuesday, 9.30 A.M.

Certainly _not;_ dogs have fleas. The man is an impostor. Oblige me by
turning him out. I shall come down this afternoon--_early_.

P.S.--Don't listen to the rascal's entreaties; out with him!

_Henry Inxling, Bookkeeper, to Peter Pitchin, Editor._

"STINGER" OFFICE, Tuesday, 12 M.

The gentleman carries a revolver. Would you mind coming down and
reasoning with him? I have a wife and five children depending on me, and
when I lose my temper I am likely to go too far. I would prefer that
_you_ should turn him out.

_Peter Pitchin, Editor, to Henry Inxling, Bookkeeper._

13 LOFER STREET, Tuesday, 2 P.M.

Do you suppose I can leave my private correspondence to preserve you
from the intrusion and importunities of beggars? Put the scoundrel out
at once--neck and heels! I know him; he's Muskler--don't you remember?
Muskler, the coward, who assaulted an old man; you'll find the whole
circumstances related in last Saturday's issue. Out with him--the
unmanly sneak!

_Henry Inxling, Bookkeeper, to Peter Pitchin, Editor._

"STINGER" OFFICE, Tuesday Evening.

I have told him to go, and he laughed. So did the bull-dog. But he is
going. He is now making a bed for the pup in one corner of your room,
with some rugs and old newspapers, and appears to be about to go to
dinner. I have given him your address. The foreman wants some copy to go
on with. I beg you will come at once if I am to be left alone with that

_Peter Pitchin, Editor, to Henry Inxling, Bookkeeper._

40 DUNTIONER'S ALLEY, Wednesday, 10 A.M.

I should have come down to the office last evening, but you see I have
been moving. My landlady was too filthy dirty for anything! I stood it
as long as I could; then I left. I'm coming directly I get your answer
to this; but I want to know, first, if my blotter has been changed and
my ink-well refilled. This house is a good way out, but the boy can take
the car at the corner of Cobble and Slush streets.

O!--about that _man_? Of course you have not seen him since.

_William Quoin, Foreman, to Peter Pitchin, Editor._

"STINGER" OFFICE, Wednesday, 12 M.

I've got your note to Inxling; he ain't come down this morning. I
haven't a line of copy on the hooks; the boys are all throwing in dead
ads. There's a man and a dog in the proprietor's office; I don't believe
they ought to be there, all alone, but they were here all Monday and
yesterday, and may be connected with the business management of the
paper; so I don't like to order them out. Perhaps you will come down and
speak to them. We shall have to go away if you don't send copy.

_Peter Pitchin, Editor, to William Quoin, Foreman._

40 DUNTIONER'S ALLEY, Wednesday, 3 P.M.

Your note astonishes me. The man you describe is a notorious thief. Get
the compositors all together, and make a rush at him. Don't try to keep
him, but hustle him out of town, and I'll be down as soon as I can get a
button sewn on my collar.

P.S.--Give it him good!--don't mention my address and he can't complain
to me how you treat him. Bust his bugle!

_J. Munniglut, Proprietor, to Peter Pitchin, Editor._

"STINGER" OFFICE, Friday, 2 P.M.

Business has detained me from the office until now, and what do I find?
Not a soul about the place, no copy, not a stickful of live matter on
the galleys! There can be no paper this week. What you have all done
with yourselves I am sure I don't know; one would suppose there had been
smallpox about the place. You will please come down and explain this
Hegira at once--at once, if you please!

P.S.--That troublesome Muskler--you may remember he dropped in on Monday
to inquire about something or other--has taken a sort of shop exactly
opposite here, and seems, at this distance, to be doing something to a
shotgun. I presume he is a gunsmith. So we are precious well rid of

_Peter Pitchin, Editor to J. Munniglut, Proprietor_.

PIER NO. 3, Friday Evening.

Just a line or two to say I am suddenly called away to bury my sick
mother. When that is off my mind I'll write you what I know about the
Hegira, the Flight into Egypt, the Retreat of the Ten Thousand, and
whatever else you would like to learn. There is nothing mean about _me!_
I don't think there has been any wilful desertion. You may engage an
editor for, say, fifty years, with the privilege of keeping him
regularly, if, at the end of that time, I should break my neck hastening

P.S.--I hope that poor fellow Muskier will make a fair profit in the
gunsmithing line. Jump him for an ad!


When Joel Bird was up for Governor of Missouri, Sam Henly was editing
the Berrywood _Bugle_; and no sooner was the nomination made by the
State Convention than he came out hot against the party. He was an able
writer, was Sam, and the lies he invented about our candidate were
shocking! That, however, we endured very well, but presently Sam turned
squarely about and began telling the truth. _This_ was a little too
much; the County Committee held a hasty meeting, and decided that it
must be stopped; so I, Henry Barber, was sent for to make arrangements
to that end. I knew something of Sam: had purchased him several times,
and I estimated his present value at about one thousand dollars. This
seemed to the committee a reasonable figure, and on my mentioning it to
Sam he said "he thought that about the fair thing; it should never be
said that the _Bugle_ was a hard paper to deal with." There was,
however, some delay in raising the money; the candidates for the local
offices had not disposed of their autumn hogs yet, and were in financial
straits. Some of them contributed a pig each, one gave twenty bushels of
corn, another a flock of chickens; and the man who aspired to the
distinction of County Judge paid his assessment with a wagon. These
things had to be converted into cash at a ruinous sacrifice, and in the
meantime Sam kept pouring an incessant stream of hot shot into our
political camp. Nothing I could say would make him stay his hand; he
invariably replied that it was no bargain until he had the money. The
committeemen were furious; it required all my eloquence to prevent their
declaring the contract null and void; but at last a new, clean one
thousand-dollar note was passed over to me, which in hot haste I
transferred to Sam at his residence.

That evening there was a meeting of the committee: all seemed in high
spirits again, except Hooker of Jayhawk. This old wretch sat back and
shook his head during the entire session, and just before adjournment
said, as he took his hat to go, that p'r'aps'twas orl right and on the
squar'; maybe thar war'n't any shenannigan, but _he_ war dubersome--yes,
he war dubersome. The old curmudgeon repeated this until I was
exasperated beyond restraint.

"Mr. Hooker," said I, "I've known Sam Henly ever since he was _so_ high,
and there isn't an honester man in old Missouri. Sam Henly's word is as
good as his note! What's more, if any gentleman thinks he would enjoy a
first-class funeral, and if he will supply the sable accessories, I'll
supply the corpse. And he can take it home with him from this meeting."

At this point Mr. Hooker was troubled with leaving.

Having got this business off my conscience I slept late next day. When I
stepped into the street I saw at once that something was "up." There
were knots of people gathered at the corners, some reading eagerly that
morning's issue of the _Bugle_, some gesticulating, and others stalking
moodily about muttering curses, not loud but deep. Suddenly I heard an
excited clamor--a confused roar of many lungs, and the trampling of
innumerable feet. In this babel of noises I could distinguish the words
"Kill him!" "Wa'm his hide!" and so forth; and, looking up the street, I
saw what seemed to be the whole male population racing down it. I am
very excitable, and, though I did not know whose hide was to be warmed,
nor why anyone was to be killed, I shot off in front of the howling
masses, shouting "Kill him!" and "Warm his hide!" as loudly as the
loudest, all the time looking out for the victim. Down the street we
flew like a storm; then I turned a corner, thinking the scoundrel must
have gone up _that_ street; then bolted through a public square; over a
bridge; under an arch; finally back into the main street; yelling like a
panther, and resolved to slaughter the first human being I should
overtake. The crowd followed my lead, turning as I turned, shrieking as
I shrieked, and--all at once it came to me that _I_ was the man whose
hide was to be warmed!

It is needless to dwell upon the sensation this discovery gave me;
happily I was within a few yards of the committee-rooms, and into these
I dashed, closing and bolting the doors behind me, and mounting the
stairs like a flash. The committee was in solemn session, sitting in a
nice, even row on the front benches, each man with his elbows on his
knees, and his chin resting in the palms of his hands--thinking. At each
man's feet lay a neglected copy of the _Bugle_. Every member fixed his
eyes on me, but no one stirred, none uttered a sound. There was
something awful in this preternatural silence, made more impressive by
the hoarse murmur of the crowd outside, breaking down the door. I could
endure it no longer, but strode forward and snatched up the paper lying
at the feet of the chairman. At the head of the editorial columns, in
letters half an inch long, were the following amazing head-lines:

"Dastardly Outrage! Corruption Rampant in Our Midst! The Vampires
Foiled! Henry Barber at his Old Game! The Rat Gnaws a File! The
Democratic Hordes Attempt to Ride Roughshod Over a Free People! Base
Endeavor to Bribe the Editor of this Paper with _a Twenty-Dollar Note_!
The Money Given to the Orphan Asylum."

I read no farther, but stood stockstill in the center of the floor, and
fell into a reverie. Twenty dollars! Somehow it seemed a mere trifle.
Nine hundred and eighty dollars! I did not know there was so much money
in the world. Twenty--no, eighty--one thousand dollars! There were big,
black figures floating all over the floor. Incessant cataracts of them
poured down the walls, stopped, and shied off as I looked at them, and
began to go it again when I lowered my eyes. Occasionally the figures 20
would take shape somewhere about the floor, and then the figures 980
would slide up and overlay them. Then, like the lean kine of Pharaoh's
dream, they would all march away and devour the fat naughts of the
number 1,000. And dancing like gnats in the air were myriads of little
caduceus-like, phantoms, thus--$$$$$. I could not at all make it out,
but began to comprehend my position directly Old Hooker, without moving
from his seat, began to drown the noise of countless feet on the stairs
by elevating his thin falsetto:

"P'r'aps, Mr. Cheerman, it's orl on the squar'. We know Mr. Henly can't
tell a lie; but I'm powerful dubersome that thar's a balyance dyue this
yer committee from the gent who hez the flo'--if he ain't done gone laid
it yout fo' sable ac--ac--fo' fyirst-class funerals."

I felt at that moment as if I should like to play the leading character
in a first-class funeral myself. I felt that every man in my position
ought to have a nice, comfortable coffin, with a silver door-plate, a
foot-warmer, and bay-windows for his ears. How do you suppose you would
have felt?

My leap from the window of that committee room, my speed in streaking it
for the adjacent forest, my self-denial in ever afterward resisting the
impulse to return to Berrywood and look after my political and material
interests there--these I have always considered things to be justly
proud of, and I hope I am proud of them.



It was a stormy night in the autumn of 1930. The hour was about eleven.
San Francisco lay in darkness, for the laborers at the gas works had
struck and destroyed the company's property because a newspaper to which
a cousin of the manager was a subscriber had censured the course of a
potato merchant related by marriage to a member of the Knights of
Leisure. Electric lights had not at that period been reinvented. The sky
was filled with great masses of black cloud which, driven rapidly across
the star-fields by winds unfelt on the earth and momentarily altering
their fantastic forms, seemed instinct with a life and activity of their
own and endowed with awful powers of evil, to the exercise of which they
might at any time set their malignant will.

An observer standing, at this time, at the corner of Paradise avenue and
Great White Throne walk in Sorrel Hill cemetery would have seen a human
figure moving among the graves toward the Superintendent's residence.
Dimly and fitfully visible in the intervals of thinner gloom, this
figure had a most uncanny and disquieting aspect. A long black cloak
shrouded it from neck to heel. Upon its head was a slouch hat, pulled
down across the forehead and almost concealing the face, which was
further hidden by a half-mask, only the beard being occasionally visible
as the head was lifted partly above the collar of the cloak. The man
wore upon his feet jack-boots whose wide, funnel-shaped legs had settled
down in many a fold and crease about his ankles, as could be seen
whenever accident parted the bottom of the cloak. His arms were
concealed, but sometimes he stretched out the right to steady himself by
a headstone as he crept stealthily but blindly over the uneven ground.
At such times a close scrutiny of the hand would have disclosed in the
palm the hilt of a poniard, the blade of which lay along the wrist,
hidden in the sleeve. In short, the man's garb, his movements, the
hour--everything proclaimed him a reporter.

But what did he there?

On the morning of that day the editor of the _Daily Malefactor_ had
touched the button of a bell numbered 216 and in response to the summons
Mr. Longbo Spittleworth, reporter, had been shot into the room out of an
inclined tube.

"I understand," said the editor, "that you are 216--am I right?"

"That," said the reporter, catching his breath and adjusting his
clothing, both somewhat disordered by the celerity of his flight through
the tube,--"that is my number."

"Information has reached us," continued the editor, "that the
Superintendent of the Sorrel Hill cemetery--one Inhumio, whose very name
suggests inhumanity--is guilty of the grossest outrages in the
administration of the great trust confided to his hands by the sovereign

"The cemetery is private property," faintly suggested 216.

"It is alleged," continued the great man, disdaining to notice the
interruption, "that in violation of popular rights he refuses to permit
his accounts to be inspected by representatives of the press."

"Under the law, you know, he is responsible to the directors of the
cemetery company," the reporter ventured to interject.

"They say," pursued the editor, heedless, "that the inmates are in many
cases badly lodged and insufficiently clad, and that in consequence they
are usually cold. It is asserted that they are never fed--except to the
worms. Statements have been made to the effect that males and females
are permitted to occupy the same quarters, to the incalculable detriment
of public morality. Many clandestine villainies are alleged of this
fiend in human shape, and it is desirable that his underground methods
be unearthed in the _Malefactor_. If he resists we will drag his family
skeleton from the privacy of his domestic closet. There is money in it
for the paper, fame for you--are you ambitious, 216?"

"I am--bitious."

"Go, then," cried the editor, rising and waving his hand
imperiously--"go and 'seek the bubble reputation'."

"The bubble shall be sought," the young man replied, and leaping into a
man-hole in the floor, disappeared. A moment later the editor, who after
dismissing his subordinate, had stood motionless, as if lost in thought,
sprang suddenly to the man-hole and shouted down it: "Hello, 216?"

"Aye, aye, sir," came up a faint and far reply.

"About that 'bubble reputation'--you understand, I suppose, that the
reputation which you are to seek is that of the other man."

In the execution of his duty, in the hope of his employer's approval, in
the costume of his profession, Mr. Longbo Spittleworth, otherwise known
as 216, has already occupied a place in the mind's eye of the
intelligent reader. Alas for poor Mr. Inhumio!

A few days after these events that fearless, independent and
enterprising guardian and guide of the public, the San Francisco _Daily
Malefactor_, contained a whole-page article whose headlines are here
presented with some necessary typographical mitigation:

"Hell Upon Earth! Corruption Rampant in the Management of the Sorrel
Hill Cemetery. The Sacred City of the Dead in the Leprous Clutches of a
Demon in Human Form. Fiendish Atrocities Committed in 'God's Acre.' The
Holy Dead Thrown around Loose. Fragments of Mothers. Segregation of a
Beautiful Young Lady Who in Life Was the Light of a Happy Household. A
Superintendent Who Is an Ex-Convict. How He Murdered His Neighbor to
Start the Cemetery. He Buries His Own Dead Elsewhere. Extraordinary
Insolence to a Representative of the Public Press. Little Eliza's Last
Words: 'Mamma, Feed Me to the Pigs.' A Moonshiner Who Runs an Illicit
Bone-Button Factory in One Corner of the Grounds. Buried Head Downward.
Revolting Mausoleistic Orgies. Dancing on the Dead. Devilish
Mutilation--a Pile of Late Lamented Noses and Sainted Ears. No
Separation of the Sexes; Petitions for Chaperons Unheeded. 'Veal' as
Supplied to the Superintendent's Employees. A Miscreant's Record from
His Birth. Disgusting Subserviency of Our Contemporaries and Strong
Indications of Collusion. Nameless Abnormalities. 'Doubled Up Like a
Nut-Cracker.' 'Wasn't Planted White.' Horribly Significant Reduction in
the Price of Lard. The Question of the Hour: Whom Do You Fry Your
Doughnuts In?"



As I left the house she said I was a cruel old thing, and not a bit
nice, and she hoped I never, never _would_ come back. So I shipped as
mate on the _Mudlark_, bound from London to wherever the captain might
think it expedient to sail. It had not been thought advisable to hamper
Captain Abersouth with orders, for when he could not have his own way,
it had been observed, he would contrive in some ingenious way to make
the voyage unprofitable. The owners of the _Mudlark_ had grown wise in
their generation, and now let him do pretty much as he pleased, carrying
such cargoes as he fancied to ports where the nicest women were. On the
voyage of which I write he had taken no cargo at all; he said it would
only make the _Mudlark_ heavy and slow. To hear this mariner talk one
would have supposed he did not know very much about commerce.

We had a few passengers--not nearly so many as we had laid in basins and
stewards for; for before coming off to the ship most of those who had
bought tickets would inquire whither she was bound, and when not
informed would go back to their hotels and send a bandit on board to
remove their baggage. But there were enough left to be rather
troublesome. They cultivated the rolling gait peculiar to sailors when
drunk, and the upper deck was hardly wide enough for them to go from the
forecastle to the binnacle to set their watches by the ship's compass.
They were always petitioning Captain Abersouth to let the big anchor go,
just to hear it plunge in the water, threatening in case of refusal to
write to the newspapers. A favorite amusement with them was to sit in
the lee of the bulwarks, relating their experiences in former
voyages--voyages distinguished in every instance by two remarkable
features, the frequency of unprecedented hurricanes and the entire
immunity of the narrator from seasickness. It was very interesting to
see them sitting in a row telling these things, each man with a basin
between his legs.

One day there arose a great storm. The sea walked over the ship as if it
had never seen a ship before and meant to enjoy it all it could. The
_Mudlark_ labored very much--far more, indeed, than the crew did; for
these innocents had discovered in possession of one of their number a
pair of leather-seated trousers, and would do nothing but sit and play
cards for them; in a month from leaving port each sailor had owned them
a dozen times. They were so worn by being pushed over to the winner that
there was little but the seat remaining, and that immortal part the
captain finally kicked overboard--not maliciously, nor in an unfriendly
spirit, but because he had a habit of kicking the seats of trousers.

The storm increased in violence until it succeeded in so straining the
_Mudlark_ that she took in water like a teetotaler; then it appeared to
get relief directly. This may be said in justice to a storm at sea: when
it has broken off your masts, pulled out your rudder, carried away your
boats and made a nice hole in some inaccessible part of your hull it
will often go away in search of a fresh ship, leaving you to take such
measures for your comfort as you may think fit. In our case the captain
thought fit to sit on the taffrail reading a three-volume novel.

Seeing he had got about half way through the second volume, at which
point the lovers would naturally be involved in the most hopeless and
heart-rending difficulties, I thought he would be in a particularly
cheerful humor, so I approached him and informed him the ship was going

"Well," said he, closing the book, but keeping his forefinger between
the pages to mark his place, "she never would be good for much after
such a shaking-up as this. But, I say--I wish you would just send the
bo'sn for'd there to break up that prayer-meeting. The _Mudlark_ isn't a
seamen's chapel, I suppose."

"But," I replied, impatiently, "can't something be done to lighten the

"Well," he drawled, reflectively, "seeing she hasn't any masts left to
cut away, nor any cargo to--stay, you might throw over some of the
heaviest of the passengers if you think it would do any good."

It was a happy thought--the intuition of genius. Walking rapidly forward
to the foc'sle, which, being highest out of water, was crowded with
passengers, I seized a stout old gentleman by the nape of the neck,
pushed him up to the rail, and chucked him over. He did not touch the
water: he fell on the apex of a cone of sharks which sprang up from the
sea to meet him, their noses gathered to a point, their tails just
clearing the surface. I think it unlikely that the old gentleman knew
what disposition had been made of him. Next, I hurled over a woman and
flung a fat baby to the wild winds. The former was sharked out of sight,
the same as the old man; the latter divided amongst the gulls.

I am relating these things exactly as they occurred. It would be very
easy to make a fine story out of all this material--to tell how that,
while I was engaged in lightening the ship, I was touched by the
self-sacrificing spirit of a beautiful young woman, who, to save the
life of her lover, pushed her aged mother forward to where I was
operating, imploring me to take the old lady, but spare, O, spare her
dear Henry. I might go on to set forth how that I not only did take the
old lady, as requested, but immediately seized dear Henry, and sent him
flying as far as I could to leeward, having first broken his back across
the rail and pulled a double-fistful of his curly hair out. I might
proceed to state that, feeling appeased, I then stole the long boat and
taking the beautiful maiden pulled away from the ill-fated ship to the
church of St. Massaker, Fiji, where we were united by a knot which I
afterward untied with my teeth by eating her. But, in truth, nothing of
all this occurred, and I can not afford to be the first writer to tell a
lie just to interest the reader. What really did occur is this: as I
stood on the quarter-deck, heaving over the passengers, one after
another, Captain Abersouth, having finished his novel, walked aft and
quietly hove _me_ over.

The sensations of a drowning man have been so often related that I shall
only briefly explain that memory at once displayed her treasures: all
the scenes of my eventful life crowded, though without confusion or
fighting, into my mind. I saw my whole career spread out before me, like
a map of Central Africa since the discovery of the gorilla. There were
the cradle in which I had lain, as a child, stupefied with soothing
syrups; the perambulator, seated in which and propelled from behind, I
overthrew the schoolmaster, and in which my infantile spine received its
curvature; the nursery-maid, surrendering her lips alternately to me and
the gardener; the old home of my youth, with the ivy and the mortgage on
it; my eldest brother, who by will succeeded to the family debts; my
sister, who ran away with the Count von Pretzel, coachman to a most
respectable New York family; my mother, standing in the attitude of a
saint, pressing with both hands her prayer-book against the patent
palpitators from Madame Fahertini's; my venerable father, sitting in his
chimney corner, his silvered head bowed upon his breast, his withered
hands crossed patiently in his lap, waiting with Christian resignation
for death, and drunk as a lord--all this, and much more, came before my
mind's eye, and there was no charge for admission to the show. Then
there was a ringing sound in my ears, my senses swam better than I
could, and as I sank down, down, through fathomless depths, the amber
light falling through the water above my head failed and darkened into
blackness. Suddenly my feet struck something firm--it was the bottom.
Thank heaven, I was saved!


This ship was named the _Camel_. In some ways she was an extraordinary
vessel. She measured six hundred tons; but when she had taken in enough
ballast to keep her from upsetting like a shot duck, and was provisioned
for a three months' voyage, it was necessary to be mighty fastidious in
the choice of freight and passengers. For illustration, as she was about
to leave port a boat came alongside with two passengers, a man and his
wife. They had booked the day before, but had remained ashore to get one
more decent meal before committing themselves to the "briny cheap," as
the man called the ship's fare. The woman came aboard, and the man was
preparing to follow, when the captain leaned over the side and saw him.

"Well," said the captain, "what do _you_ want?"

"What do _I_ want?" said the man, laying hold of the ladder. "I'm
a-going to embark in this here ship--that's what I want."

"Not with all that fat on you," roared the captain. "You don't weigh an
ounce less than eighteen stone, and I've got to have in my anchor yet.
You wouldn't have me leave the anchor, I suppose?"

The man said he did not care about the anchor--he was just as God had
made him (he looked as if his cook had had something to do with it) and,
sink or swim, he purposed embarking in that ship. A good deal of
wrangling ensued, but one of the sailors finally threw the man a cork
life-preserver, and the captain said that would lighten him and he might
come abroad.

This was Captain Abersouth, formerly of the _Mudlark_--as good a seaman
as ever sat on the taffrail reading a three volume novel. Nothing could
equal this man's passion for literature. For every voyage he laid in so
many bales of novels that there was no stowage for the cargo. There were
novels in the hold, and novels between-decks, and novels in the saloon,
and in the passengers' beds.

The _Camel_ had been designed and built by her owner, an architect in
the City, and she looked about as much like a ship as Noah's Ark did.
She had bay windows and a veranda; a cornice and doors at the
water-line. These doors had knockers and servant's bells. There had been
a futile attempt at an area. The passenger saloon was on the upper deck,
and had a tile roof. To this humplike structure the ship owed her name.
Her designer had erected several churches--that of St. Ignotus is still
used as a brewery in Hotbath Meadows--and, possessed of the ecclesiastic
idea, had given the _Camel_ a transept; but, finding this impeded her
passage through the water, he had it removed. This weakened the vessel
amidships. The mainmast was something like a steeple. It had a
weathercock. From this spire the eye commanded one of the finest views
in England.

Such was the _Camel_ when I joined her in 1864 for a voyage of discovery
to the South Pole. The expedition was under the "auspices" of the Royal
Society for the Promotion of Fair Play. At a meeting of this excellent
association, it had been "resolved" that the partiality of science for
the North Pole was an invidious distinction between two objects equally
meritorious; that Nature had marked her disapproval of it in the case of
Sir John Franklin and many of his imitators; that it served them very
well right; that this enterprise should be undertaken as a protest
against the spirit of undue bias; and, finally, that no part of the
responsibility or expense should devolve upon the society in its
corporate character, but any individual member might contribute to the
fund if he were fool enough. It is only common justice to say that none
of them was. The _Camel_ merely parted her cable one day while I
happened to be on board--drifted out of the harbor southward, followed
by the execrations of all who knew her, and could not get back. In two
months she had crossed the equator, and the heat began to grow

Suddenly we were becalmed. There had been a fine breeze up to three
o'clock in the afternoon and the ship had made as much as two knots an
hour when without a word of warning the sails began to belly the wrong
way, owing to the impetus that the ship had acquired; and then, as this
expired, they hung as limp and lifeless as the skirts of a clawhammer
coat. The _Camel_ not only stood stock still but moved a little backward
toward England. Old Ben the boatswain said that he'd never knowed but
one deader calm, and that, he explained, was when Preacher Jack, the
reformed sailor, had got excited in a sermon in a seaman's chapel and
shouted that the Archangel Michael would chuck the Dragon into the brig
and give him a taste of the rope's-end, damn his eyes!

We lay in this woful state for the better part of a year, when, growing
impatient, the crew deputed me to look up the captain and see if
something could not be done about it. I found him in a remote cobwebby
corner between-decks, with a book in his hand. On one side of him, the
cords newly cut, were three bales of "Ouida"; on the other a mountain of
Miss M.E. Braddon towered above his head. He had finished "Ouida" and
was tackling Miss Braddon. He was greatly changed.

"Captain Abersouth," said I, rising on tiptoe so as to overlook the
lower slopes of Mrs. Braddon, "will you be good enough to tell me how
long this thing is going on?"

"Can't say, I'm sure," he replied without pulling his eyes off the page.
"They'll probably make up about the middle of the book. In the meantime
old Pondronummus will foul his top-hamper and take out his papers for
Looney Haven, and young Monshure de Boojower will come in for a million.
Then if the proud and fair Angelica doesn't luff and come into his wake
after pizening that sea lawyer, Thundermuzzle, I don't know nothing
about the deeps and shallers of the human heart."

I could not take so hopeful a view of the situation, and went on deck,
feeling very much discouraged. I had no sooner got my head out than I
observed that the ship was moving at a high rate of speed!

We had on board a bullock and a Dutchman. The bullock was chained by the
neck to the foremast, but the Dutchman was allowed a good deal of
liberty, being shut up at night only. There was bad blood between the
two--a feud of long standing, having its origin in the Dutchman's
appetite for milk and the bullock's sense of personal dignity; the
particular cause of offense it would be tedious to relate. Taking
advantage of his enemy's afternoon _siesta_, the Dutchman had now
managed to sneak by him, and had gone out on the bowsprit to fish. When
the animal waked and saw the other creature enjoying himself he
straddled his chain, leveled his horns, got his hind feet against the
mast and laid a course for the offender. The chain was strong, the mast
firm, and the ship, as Byron says, "walked the water like a thing of

After that we kept the Dutchman right where he was, night and day, the
old _Camel_ making better speed than she had ever done in the most
favorable gale. We held due south.

We had now been a long time without sufficient food, particularly meat.
We could spare neither the bullock nor the Dutchman; and the ship's
carpenter, that traditional first aid to the famished, was a mere bag of
bones. The fish would neither bite nor be bitten. Most of the
running-tackle of the ship had been used for macaroni soup; all the
leather work, our shoes included, had been devoured in omelettes; with
oakum and tar we had made fairly supportable salad. After a brief
experimental career as tripe the sails had departed this life forever.
Only two courses remained from which to choose; we could eat one
another, as is the etiquette of the sea, or partake of Captain
Abersouth's novels. Dreadful alternative!--but a choice. And it is
seldom, I think, that starving sailormen are offered a shipload of the
best popular authors ready-roasted by the critics.

We ate that fiction. The works that the captain had thrown aside lasted
six months, for most of them were by the best-selling authors and were
pretty tough. After they were gone--of course some had to be given to
the bullock and the Dutchman--we stood by the captain, taking the other
books from his hands as he finished them. Sometimes, when we were
apparently at our last gasp, he would skip a whole page of moralizing,
or a bit of description; and always, as soon as he clearly foresaw the
_dénoûement_--which he generally did at about the middle of the second
volume--the work was handed over to us without a word of repining.

The effect of this diet was not unpleasant but remarkable. Physically,
it sustained us; mentally, it exalted us; morally, it made us but a
trifle worse than we were. We talked as no human beings ever talked
before. Our wit was polished but without point. As in a stage broadsword
combat, every cut has its parry, so in our conversation every remark
suggested the reply, and this necessitated a certain rejoinder. The
sequence once interrupted, the whole was bosh; when the thread was
broken the beads were seen to be waxen and hollow.

We made love to one another, and plotted darkly in the deepest obscurity
of the hold. Each set of conspirators had its proper listener at the
hatch. These, leaning too far over would bump their heads together and
fight. Occasionally there was confusion amongst them: two or more would
assert a right to overhear the same plot. I remember at one time the
cook, the carpenter, the second assistant-surgeon, and an able seaman
contended with handspikes for the honor of betraying my confidence. Once
there were three masked murderers of the second watch bending at the
same instant over the sleeping form of a cabin-boy, who had been heard
to mutter, a week previously, that he had "Gold! gold!" the accumulation
of eighty--yes, eighty--years' piracy on the high seas, while sitting as
M.P. for the borough of Zaccheus-cum-Down, and attending church
regularly. I saw the captain of the foretop surrounded by suitors for
his hand, while he was himself fingering the edge of a packing-case, and
singing an amorous ditty to a lady-love shaving at a mirror.

Our diction consisted, in about equal parts, of classical allusion,
quotation from the stable, simper from the scullery, cant from the
clubs, and the technical slang of heraldry. We boasted much of ancestry,
and admired the whiteness of our hands whenever the skin was visible
through a fault in the grease and tar. Next to love, the vegetable
kingdom, murder, arson, adultery and ritual, we talked most of art. The
wooden figure-head of the _Camel_, representing a Guinea nigger
detecting a bad smell, and the monochrome picture of two back-broken
dolphins on the stern, acquired a new importance. The Dutchman had
destroyed the nose of the one by kicking his toes against it, and the
other was nearly obliterated by the slops of the cook; but each had its
daily pilgrimage, and each constantly developed occult beauties of
design and subtle excellences of execution. On the whole we were greatly
altered; and if the supply of contemporary fiction had been equal to the
demand, the _Camel_, I fear, would not have been strong enough to
contain the moral and æsthetic forces fired by the maceration of the
brains of authors in the gastric juices of sailors.

Having now got the ship's literature off his mind into ours, the captain
went on deck for the first time since leaving port. We were still
steering the same course, and, taking his first observation of the sun,
the captain discovered that we were in latitude 83° south. The heat was
insufferable; the air was like the breath of a furnace within a furnace.
The sea steamed like a boiling cauldron, and in the vapor our bodies
were temptingly parboiled--our ultimate meal was preparing. Warped by
the sun, the ship held both ends high out of the water; the deck of the
forecastle was an inclined plane, on which the bullock labored at a
disadvantage; but the bowsprit was now vertical and the Dutchman's
tenure precarious. A thermometer hung against the mainmast, and we
grouped ourselves about it as the captain went up to examine the

"One hundred and ninety degrees Fahrenheit!" he muttered in evident
astonishment. "Impossible!" Turning sharply about, he ran his eyes over
us, and inquired in a peremptory tone, "who's been in command while I
was runnin' my eye over that book?"

"Well, captain," I replied, as respectfully as I knew how, "the fourth
day out I had the unhappiness to be drawn into a dispute about a game of
cards with your first and second officers. In the absence of those
excellent seamen, sir, I thought it my duty to assume control of the

"Killed 'em, hey?"

"Sir, they committed suicide by questioning the efficacy of four kings
and an ace."

"Well, you lubber, what have you to say in defense of this extraordinary

"Sir, it is no fault of mine. We are far--very far south, and it is now
the middle of July. The weather is uncomfortable, I admit; but
considering the latitude and season, it is not, I protest,

"Latitude and season!" he shrieked, livid with rage--"latitude and
season! Why, you junk-rigged, flat-bottomed, meadow lugger, don't you
know any better than that? Didn't yer little baby brother ever tell ye
that southern latitudes is colder than northern, and that July is the
middle o' winter here? Go below, you son of a scullion, or I'll break
your bones!"

"Oh! very well," I replied; "I'm not going to stay on deck and listen to
such low language as that, I warn you. Have it your own way."

The words had no sooner left my lips, than a piercing cold wind caused
me to cast my eye upon the thermometer. In the new régime of science the
mercury was descending rapidly; but in a moment the instrument was
obscured by a blinding fall of snow. Towering icebergs rose from the
water on every side, hanging their jagged masses hundreds of feet above
the masthead, and shutting us completely in. The ship twisted and
writhed; her decks bulged upward, and every timber groaned and cracked
like the report of a pistol. The _Camel_ was frozen fast. The jerk of
her sudden stopping snapped the bullock's chain, and sent both that
animal and the Dutchman over the bows, to accomplish their warfare on
the ice.

Elbowing my way forward to go below, as I had threatened, I saw the crew
tumble to the deck on either hand like ten-pins. They were frozen stiff.
Passing the captain, I asked him sneeringly how he liked the weather
under the new régime. He replied with a vacant stare. The chill had
penetrated to the brain, and affected his mind. He murmured:

"In this delightful spot, happy in the world's esteem, and surrounded by
all that makes existence dear, they passed the remainder of their lives.
The End."

His jaw dropped. The captain of the _Camel_ was dead.



The good ship _Nupple-duck_ was drifting rapidly upon a sunken coral
reef, which seemed to extend a reasonless number of leagues to the right
and left without a break, and I was reading Macaulay's "Naseby Fight" to
the man at the wheel. Everything was, in fact, going on as nicely as
heart could wish, when Captain Abersouth, standing on the
companion-stair, poked his head above deck and asked where we were.
Pausing in my reading, I informed him that we had got as far as the
disastrous repulse of Prince Rupert's cavalry, adding that if he would
have the goodness to hold his jaw we should be making it awkward for the
wounded in about three minutes, and he might bear a hand at the pockets
of the slain. Just then the ship struck heavily, and went down!

Calling another ship, I stepped aboard, and gave directions to be taken
to No. 900 Tottenham Court Road, where I had an aunt; then, walking aft
to the man at the wheel, asked him if he would like to hear me read
"Naseby Fight." He thought he would: he would like to hear that, and
then I might pass on to something else--Kinglake's "Crimean War," the
proceedings at the trial of Warren Hastings, or some such trifle, just
to wile away the time till eight bells.

All this time heavy clouds had been gathering along the horizon directly
in front of the ship, and a deputation of passengers now came to the man
at the wheel to demand that she be put about, or she would run into
them, which the spokesman explained would be unusual. I thought at the
time that it certainly was not the regular thing to do, but, as I was
myself only a passenger, did not deem it expedient to take a part in the
heated discussion that ensued; and, after all, it did not seem likely
that the weather in those clouds would be much worse than that in
Tottenham Court Road, where I had an aunt.

It was finally decided to refer the matter to arbitration, and after
many names had been submitted and rejected by both sides, it was agreed
that the captain of the ship should act as arbitrator if his consent
could be obtained, and I was delegated to conduct the negotiations to
that end. With considerable difficulty, I persuaded him to accept the

He was a feeble-minded sort of fellow named Troutbeck, who was always in
a funk lest he should make enemies; never reflecting that most men would
a little rather be his enemies than not. He had once been the ship's
cook, but had cooked so poisonously ill that he had been forcibly
transferred from galley to quarter-deck by the dyspeptic survivors of
his culinary career.

The little captain went aft with me to listen to arguments of the
dissatisfied passengers and the obstinate steersman, as to whether we
should take our chances in the clouds, or tail off and run for the
opposite horizon; but on approaching the wheel, we found both helmsman
and passengers in a condition of profound astonishment, rolling their
eyes about towards every point of the compass, and shaking their heads
in hopeless perplexity. It was rather remarkable, certainly: the bank of
cloud which had worried the landsmen was now directly astern, and the
ship was cutting along lively in her own wake, toward the point from
which she had come, and straight away from Tottenham Court Road!
Everybody declared it was a miracle; the chaplain was piped up for
prayers, and the man at the wheel was as truly penitent as if he had
been detected robbing an empty poor-box.

The explanation was simple enough, and dawned upon me the moment I saw
how matters stood. During the dispute between the helmsman and the
deputation, the former had renounced his wheel to gesticulate, and I,
thinking no harm, had amused myself, during a rather tedious debate, by
revolving the thing this way and that, and had unconsciously put the
ship about. By a coincidence not unusual in low latitudes, the wind had
effected a corresponding transposition at the same time, and was now
bowling us as merrily back toward the place where I had embarked, as it
had previously wafted us in the direction of Tottenham Court Road, where
I had an aunt. I must here so far anticipate, as to explain that some
years later these various incidents--particularly the reading of "Naseby
Fight"--led to the adoption, in our mercantile marine, of a rule which I
believe is still extant, to the effect that one must not speak to the
man at the wheel unless the man at the wheel speaks first.


It is only by inadvertence that I have omitted the information that the
vessel in which I was now a pervading influence was the _Bonnyclabber_
(Troutbeck, master), of Malvern Heights.

The _Bonnyclabber's_ reactionary course had now brought her to the spot
at which I had taken passage. Passengers and crew, fatigued by their
somewhat awkward attempts to manifest their gratitude for our miraculous
deliverance from the cloud-bank, were snoring peacefully in unconsidered
attitudes about the deck, when the lookout man, perched on the supreme
extremity of the mainmast, consuming a cold sausage, began an apparently
preconcerted series of extraordinary and unimaginable noises. He
coughed, sneezed, and barked simultaneously--bleated in one breath, and
cackled in the next--sputteringly shrieked, and chatteringly squealed,
with a bass of suffocated roars. There were desolutory vocal explosions,
tapering off in long wails, half smothered in unintelligible small-talk.
He whistled, wheezed, and trumpeted; began to sharp, thought better of
it and flatted; neighed like a horse, and then thundered like a drum!
Through it all he continued making incomprehensible signals with one
hand while clutching his throat with the other. Presently he gave it up,
and silently descended to the deck.

By this time we were all attention; and no sooner had he set foot
amongst us, than he was assailed with a tempest of questions which, had
they been visible, would have resembled a flight of pigeons. He made no
reply--not even by a look, but passed through our enclosing mass with a
grim, defiant step, a face deathly white, and a set of the jaw as of one
repressing an ambitious dinner, or ignoring a venomous toothache. For
the poor man was choking!

Passing down the companion-way, the patient sought the surgeon's cabin,
with the ship's company at his heels. The surgeon was fast asleep, the
lark-like performance at the masthead having been inaudible in that
lower region. While some of us were holding a whisky-bottle to the
medical nose, in order to apprise the medical intelligence of the demand
upon it, the patient seated himself in statuesque silence. By this time
his pallor, which was but the mark of a determined mind, had given place
to a fervent crimson, which visibly deepened into a pronounced purple,
and was ultimately superseded by a clouded blue, shot through with
opalescent gleams, and smitten with variable streaks of black. The face
was swollen and shapeless, the neck puffy. The eyes protruded like pegs
of a hat-stand.

Pretty soon the doctor was got awake, and after making a careful
examination of his patient, remarking that it was a lovely case of
_stopupagus oesophagi_, took a tool and set to work, producing with no
difficulty a cold sausage of the size, figure, and general bearing of a
somewhat self-important banana. The operation had been performed amid
breathless silence, but the moment it was concluded the patient, whose
neck and head had visibly collapsed, sprang to his feet and shouted:

"Man overboard!"

That is what he had been trying to say.

There was a confused rush to the upper deck, and everybody flung
something over the ship's side--a life-belt, a chicken-coop, a coil of
rope, a spar, an old sail, a pocket handkerchief, an iron crowbar--any
movable article which it was thought might be useful to a drowning man
who had followed the vessel during the hour that had elapsed since the
initial alarm at the mast-head. In a few moments the ship was pretty
nearly dismantled of everything that could be easily renounced, and some
excitable passenger having cut away the boats there was nothing more
that we could do, though the chaplain explained that if the ill-fated
gentleman in the wet did not turn up after a while it was his intention
to stand at the stern and read the burial service of the Church of

Presently it occurred to some ingenious person to inquire who had gone
overboard, and all hands being mustered and the roll called, to our
great chagrin every man answered to his name, passengers and all!
Captain Troutbeck, however, held that in a matter of so great importance
a simple roll-call was insufficient, and with an assertion of authority
that was encouraging insisted that every person on board be separately
sworn. The result was the same; nobody was missing and the captain,
begging pardon for having doubted our veracity, retired to his cabin to
avoid further responsibility, but expressed a hope that for the purpose
of having everything properly recorded in the log-book we would apprise
him of any further action that we might think it advisable to take. I
smiled as I remembered that in the interest of the unknown gentleman
whose peril we had overestimated I had flung the log-book over the
ship's side.

Soon afterward I felt suddenly inspired with one of those great ideas
that come to most men only once or twice in a lifetime, and to the
ordinary story teller never. Hastily reconvening the ship's company I
mounted the capstan and thus addressed them:

"Shipmates, there has been a mistake. In the fervor of an ill-considered
compassion we have made pretty free with certain movable property of an
eminent firm of shipowners of Malvern Heights. For this we shall
undoubtedly be called to account if we are ever so fortunate as to drop
anchor in Tottenham Court Road, where I have an aunt. It would add
strength to our defence if we could show to the satisfaction of a jury
of our peers that in heeding the sacred promptings of humanity we had
acted with some small degree of common sense. If, for example, we could
make it appear that there really was a man overboard, who might have
been comforted and sustained by the material consolation that we so
lavishly dispensed in the form of buoyant articles belonging to others,
the British heart would find in that fact a mitigating circumstance
pleading eloquently in our favor. Gentlemen and ship's officers, I
venture to propose that we do now throw a man overboard."

The effect was electrical: the motion was carried by acclamation and
there was a unanimous rush for the now wretched mariner whose false
alarm at the masthead was the cause of our embarrassment, but on second
thoughts it was decided to substitute Captain Troutbeck, as less
generally useful and more undeviatingly in error. The sailor had made
one mistake of considerable magnitude, but the captain's entire
existence was a mistake altogether. He was fetched up from his cabin and
chucked over.

At 900 Tottenham Road Court lived an aunt of mine--a good old lady who
had brought me up by hand and taught me many wholesome lessons in
morality, which in my later life have proved of extreme value. Foremost
among these I may mention her solemn and oft-repeated injunction never
to tell a lie without a definite and specific reason for doing so. Many
years' experience in the violation of this principle enables me to speak
with authority as to its general soundness. I have, therefore, much
pleasure in making a slight correction in the preceding chapter of this
tolerably true history. It was there affirmed that I threw the
_Bonnyclabber's_ log-book into the sea. The statement is entirely false,
and I can discover no reason for having made it that will for a moment
weigh against those I now have for the preservation of that log-book.

The progress of the story has developed new necessities, and I now find
it convenient to quote from that book passages which it could not have
contained if cast into the sea at the time stated; for if thrown upon
the resources of my imagination I might find the temptation to
exaggerate too strong to be resisted.

It is needless to worry the reader with those entries in the book
referring to events already related. Our record will begin on the day of
the captain's consignment to the deep, after which era I made the
entries myself.

"June 22nd.--Not much doing in the way of gales, but heavy swells left
over from some previous blow. Latitude and longitude not notably
different from last observation. Ship laboring a trifle, owing to lack
of top-hamper, everything of that kind having been cut away in
consequence of Captain Troutbeck having accidently fallen overboard
while fishing from the bowsprit. Also threw over cargo and everything
that we could spare. Miss our sails rather, but if they save our dear
captain, we shall be content. Weather flagrant.

"23d.--Nothing from Captain Troutbeck. Dead calm--also dead whale. The
passengers having become preposterous in various ways, Mr. Martin, the
chief officer, had three of the ringleaders tied up and rope's-ended. He
thought it advisable also to flog an equal number of the crew, by way of
being impartial. Weather ludicrous.

"24th.--Captain still prefers to stop away, and does not telegraph. The
'captain of the foretop'--there isn't any foretop now--was put in irons
to-day by Mr. Martin for eating cold sausage while on look-out. Mr.
Martin has flogged the steward, who had neglected to holy-stone the
binnacle and paint the dead-lights. The steward is a good fellow all the
same. Weather iniquitous.

"25th.--Can't think whatever has become of Captain Troutbeck. He must be
getting hungry by this time; for although he has his fishing-tackle with
him, he has no bait. Mr. Martin inspected the entries in this book
to-day. He is a most excellent and humane officer. Weather inexcusable.

"26th.--All hope of hearing from the Captain has been abandoned. We have
sacrificed everything to save him; but now, if we could procure the loan
of a mast and some sails, we should proceed on our voyage. Mr. Martin
has knocked the coxswain overboard for sneezing. He is an experienced
seaman, a capable officer, and a Christian gentleman--damn his eyes!
Weather tormenting.

"27th.--Another inspection of this book by Mr. Martin. Farewell, vain
world! Break it gently to my aunt in Tottenham Court Road."

In the concluding sentences of this record, as it now lies before me,
the handwriting is not very legible: they were penned under
circumstances singularly unfavorable. Mr. Martin stood behind me with
his eyes fixed on the page; and in order to secure a better view, had
twisted the machinery of the engine he called his hand into the hair of
my head, depressing that globe to such an extent that my nose was
flattened against the surface of the table, and I had no small
difficulty in discerning the lines through my eyebrows. I was not
accustomed to writing in that position: it had not been taught in the
only school that I ever attended. I therefore felt justified in bringing
the record to a somewhat abrupt close, and immediately went on deck with
Mr. Martin, he preceding me up the companion-stairs on foot, I
following, not on horseback, but on my own, the connection between us
being maintained without important alteration.

Arriving on deck, I thought it advisable, in the interest of peace and
quietness, to pursue him in the same manner to the side of the ship,
where I parted from him forever with many expressions of regret, which
might have been heard at a considerable distance.

Of the subsequent fate of the _Bonnyclabber_, I can only say that the
log-book from which I have quoted was found some years later in the
stomach of a whale, along with some shreds of clothing, a few buttons
and several decayed life-belts. It contained only one new entry, in a
straggling handwriting, as if it had been penned in the dark:

"july2th foundered svivors rescude by wale wether stuffy no nues from
capting trowtbeck Sammle martin cheef Ofcer."

Let us now take a retrospective glance at the situation. The ship
_Nupple-duck_, (Abersouth, master) had, it will be remembered, gone down
with all on board except me. I had escaped on the ship _Bonnyclabber_
(Troutbeck) which I had quitted owing to a misunderstanding with the
chief officer, and was now unattached. That is how matters stood when,
rising on an unusually high wave, and casting my eye in the direction of
Tottenham Court Road--that is, backward along the course pursued by the
_Bonnyclabber_ and toward the spot at which the _Nupple-duck_ had been
swallowed up--I saw a quantity of what appeared to be wreckage. It
turned out to be some of the stuff that we had thrown overboard under a
misapprehension. The several articles had been compiled and, so to
speak, carefully edited. They were, in fact, lashed together, forming a
raft. On a stool in the center of it--not, apparently navigating it, but
rather with the subdued and dignified bearing of a passenger, sat
Captain Abersouth, of the _Nupple-duck_, reading a novel.

Our meeting was not cordial. He remembered me as a man of literary taste
superior to his own and harbored resentment, and although he made no
opposition to my taking passage with him I could see that his
acquiescence was due rather to his muscular inferiority than to the
circumstance that I was damp and taking cold. Merely acknowledging his
presence with a nod as I climbed abroad, I seated myself and inquired if
he would care to hear the concluding stanzas of "Naseby Fight."

"No," he replied, looking up from his novel, "no, Claude Reginald Gump,
writer of sea stories, I've done with you. When you sank the
_Nupple-duck_ some days ago you probably thought that you had made an
end of me. That was clever of you, but I came to the surface and
followed the other ship--the one on which you escaped. It was I that the
sailor saw from the masthead. I saw him see me. It was for me that all
that stuff was hove overboard. Good--I made it into this raft. It was, I
think, the next day that I passed the floating body of a man whom I
recognized as, my old friend Billy Troutbeck--he used to be a cook on a
man-o'-war. It gives me pleasure to be the means of saving your life,
but I eschew you. The moment that we reach port our paths part. You
remember that in the very first sentence of this story you began to
drive my ship, the _Nupple-duck_, on to a reef of coral."

I was compelled to confess that this was true, and he continued his
inhospitable reproaches:

"Before you had written half a column you sent her to the bottom, with
me and the crew. But _you_--you escaped."

"That is true," I replied; "I cannot deny that the facts are correctly

"And in a story before that, you took me and my mates of the ship
_Camel_ into the heart of the South Polar Sea and left us frozen dead in
the ice, like flies in amber. But you did not leave yourself there--you

"Really, Captain," I said, "your memory is singularly accurate,
considering the many hardships that you have had to undergo; many a man
would have gone mad."

"And a long time before that," Captain Abersouth resumed, after a pause,
more, apparently, to con his memory than to enjoy my good opinion of it,
"you lost me at sea--look here; I didn't read anything but George Eliot
at that time, but I'm _told_ that you lost me at sea in the _Mudlark_.
Have I been misinformed?"

I could not say he had been misinformed.

"You yourself escaped on that occasion, I think."

It was true. Being usually the hero of my own stories, I commonly do
manage to live through one, in order to figure to advantage in the next.
It is from artistic necessity: no reader would take much interest in a
hero who was dead before the beginning of the tale. I endeavored to
explain this to Captain Abersouth. He shook his head.

"No," said he, "it's cowardly, that's the way I look at it."

Suddenly an effulgent idea began to dawn upon me, and I let it have its
way until my mind was perfectly luminous. Then I rose from my seat, and
frowning down into the upturned face of my accuser, spoke in severe and
rasping accents thus:

"Captain Abersouth, in the various perils you and I have encountered
together in the classical literature of the period, if I have always
escaped and you have always perished; if I lost you at sea in the
_Mudlark_, froze you into the ice at the South Pole in the _Camel_ and
drowned you in the _Nupple-duck_, pray be good enough to tell me whom I
have the honor to address."

It was a blow to the poor man: no one was ever so disconcerted. Flinging
aside his novel, he put up his hands and began to scratch his head and
think. It was beautiful to see him think, but it seemed to distress him
and pointing significantly over the side of the raft I suggested as
delicately as possible that it was time to act. He rose to his feet and
fixing upon me a look of reproach which I shall remember as long as I
can, cast himself into the deep. As to me--I escaped.


On the 16th day of June, 1874, the ship _Mary Jane_ sailed from Malta,
heavily laden with cat. This cargo gave us a good deal of trouble. It
was not in bales, but had been dumped into the hold loose. Captain
Doble, who had once commanded a ship that carried coals, said he had
found that plan the best. When the hold was full of cat the hatch was
battened down and we felt good. Unfortunately the mate, thinking the
cats would be thirsty, introduced a hose into one of the hatches and
pumped in a considerable quantity of water, and the cats of the lower
levels were all drowned.

You have seen a dead cat in a pond: you remember its circumference at
the waist. Water multiplies the magnitude of a dead cat by ten. On the
first day out, it was observed that the ship was much strained. She was
three feet wider than usual and as much as ten feet shorter. The
convexity of her deck was visibly augmented fore and aft, but she turned
up at both ends. Her rudder was clean out of water and she would answer
the helm only when running directly against a strong breeze: the rudder,
when perverted to one side, would rub against the wind and slew her
around; and then she wouldn't steer any more. Owing to the curvature of
the keel, the masts came together at the top, and a sailor who had gone
up the foremast got bewildered, came down the mizzenmast, looked out
over the stern at the receding shores of Malta and shouted: "Land, ho!"
The ship's fastenings were all giving way; the water on each side was
lashed into foam by the tempest of flying bolts that she shed at every
pulsation of the cargo. She was quietly wrecking herself without
assistance from wind or wave, by the sheer internal energy of feline

I went to the skipper about it. He was in his favorite position, sitting
on the deck, supporting his back against the binnacle, making a V of his
legs, and smoking.

"Captain Doble," I said, respectfully touching my hat, which was really
not worthy of respect, "this floating palace is afflicted with curvature
of the spine and is likewise greatly swollen."

Without raising his eyes he courteously acknowledged my presence by
knocking the ashes from his pipe.

"Permit me, Captain," I said, with simple dignity, "to repeat that this
ship is much swollen."

"If that is true," said the gallant mariner, reaching for his tobacco
pouch, "I think it would be as well to swab her down with liniment.
There's a bottle of it in my cabin. Better suggest it to the mate."

"But, Captain, there is no time for empirical treatment; some of the
planks at the water line have started."

The skipper rose and looked out over the stern, toward the land; he
fixed his eyes on the foaming wake; he gazed into the water to starboard
and to port. Then he said:

"My friend, the whole darned thing has started."

Sadly and silently I turned from that obdurate man and walked forward.
Suddenly "there was a burst of thunder sound!" The hatch that had held
down the cargo was flung whirling into space and sailed in the air like
a blown leaf. Pushing upward through the hatchway was a smooth, square
column of cat. Grandly and impressively it grew--slowly, serenely,
majestically it rose toward the welkin, the relaxing keel parting the
mastheads to give it a fair chance. I have stood at Naples and seen
Vesuvius painting the town red--from Catania have marked afar, upon the
flanks of Ætna, the lava's awful pursuit of the astonished rooster and
the despairing pig. The fiery flow from Kilauea's crater, thrusting
itself into the forests and licking the entire country clean, is as
familiar to me as my mother-tongue. I have seen glaciers, a thousand
years old and quite bald, heading for a valley full of tourists at the
rate of an inch a month. I have seen a saturated solution of mining camp
going down a mountain river, to make a sociable call on the valley
farmers. I have stood behind a tree on the battle-field and seen a
compact square mile of armed men moving with irresistible momentum to
the rear. Whenever anything grand in magnitude or motion is billed to
appear I commonly manage to beat my way into the show, and in reporting
it I am a man of unscrupulous veracity; but I have seldom observed
anything like that solid gray column of Maltese cat!

It is unnecessary to explain, I suppose, that each individual grimalkin
in the outfit, with that readiness of resource which distinguishes the
species, had grappled with tooth and nail as many others as it could
hook on to. This preserved the formation. It made the column so stiff
that when the ship rolled (and the _Mary Jane_ was a devil to roll) it
swayed from side to side like a mast, and the Mate said if it grew much
taller he would have to order it cut away or it would capsize us.

Some of the sailors went to work at the pumps, but these discharged
nothing but fur. Captain Doble raised his eyes from his toes and
shouted: "Let go the anchor!" but being assured that nobody was touching
it, apologized and resumed his revery. The chaplain said if there were
no objections he would like to offer up a prayer, and a gambler from
Chicago, producing a pack of cards, proposed to throw round for the
first jack. The parson's plan was adopted, and as he uttered the final
"amen," the cats struck up a hymn.

All the living ones were now above deck, and every mother's son of them
sang. Each had a pretty fair voice, but no ear. Nearly all their notes
in the upper register were more or less cracked and disobedient. The
remarkable thing about the voices was their range. In that crowd were
cats of seventeen octaves, and the average could not have been less than

  Number of cats, as per invoice..... 127,000
  Estimated number dead swellers.....   6,000
      Total songsters................ 121,000
  Average number octaves per cat.....      12
      Total octaves................ 1,452,000

It was a great concert. It lasted three days and nights, or, counting
each night as seven days, twenty-four days altogether, and we could not
go below for provisions. At the end of that time the cook came for'd
shaking up some beans in a hat, and holding a large knife.

"Shipmates," said he, "we have done all that mortals can do. Let us now
draw lots."

We were blindfolded in turn, and drew, but just as the cook was forcing
the fatal black bean upon the fattest man, the concert closed with a
suddenness that waked the man on the lookout. A moment later every
grimalkin relaxed his hold on his neighbors, the column lost its
cohesion and, with 121,000 dull, sickening thuds that beat as one, the
whole business fell to the deck. Then with a wild farewell wail that
feline host sprang spitting into the sea and struck out southward for
the African shore!

The southern extension of Italy, as every schoolboy knows, resembles in
shape an enormous boot. We had drifted within sight of it. The cats in
the fabric had spied it, and their alert imaginations were instantly
affected with a lively sense of the size, weight and probable momentum
of its flung bootjack.




It is deserving of remark and censure that American literature is become
shockingly moral. There is not a doubt of it; our writers, if accused,
would make explicit confession that morality is their only
fault--morality in the strict and specific sense. Far be it from me to
disparage and belittle this decent tendency to ignore the largest side
of human nature, and liveliest element of literary interest. It has an
eminence of its own; if it is not great art, it is at least great
folly--a superior sort of folly to which none of the masters of letters
has ever attained. Not Shakspeare, nor Cervantes, nor Goethe, nor
Molière, nor--no, not even Rabelais--ever achieved that shining pinnacle
of propriety to which the latter-day American has aspired, by turning
his back upon nature's broad and fruitful levels and his eyes upon the
passionate altitudes where, throned upon congenial ice, Miss Nancy sits
to censure letters, putting the Muses into petticoats and affixing a
fig-leaf upon Truth. Ours are an age and country of expurgated editions,
emasculated art, and social customs that look over the top of a fan.

    Lo! prude-eyed Primdimity, mother of Gush,
    Sex-conscious, invoking the difficult blush;
    At vices that plague us and sins that beset
    Sternly directing her private lorgnette,
    Whose lenses, self-searching instinctive for sin,
    Make image without of the fancies within.
    Itself, if examined, would show us, alas!
    A tiny transparency (French) on each glass.

Now, prudery in letters, if it would but have the goodness not to
coexist with prudery in life, might be suffered with easy fortitude,
inasmuch as one needs not read what one does not like; and between the
license of the dear old bucks above mentioned, and the severities of
Miss Nancy Howells, and Miss Nancy James, Jr., of t'other school, there
is latitude for gratification of individual taste. But it occurs that a
literature rather accurately reflects all the virtues and other vices of
its period and country, and its tendencies are but the matchings of
thought with action. Hence, we may reasonably expect to find--and
indubitably shall find--certain well-marked correspondences between the
literary faults which it pleases our writers to commit and the social
crimes which it pleases the Adversary to see their readers commit.
Within the current lustrum the prudery which had already, for some
seasons, been achieving a vinegar-visaged and corkscrew-curled certain
age in letters, has invaded the ball-room, and is infesting it in
quantity. Supportable, because evitable, in letters, it is here, for the
contrary reason, insufferable; for one must dance and enjoy one's self
whether one like it or not. Pleasure, I take it, is a duty not to be
shirked at the command of disinclination. Youth, following the bent of
inherited instinct, and loyally conforming himself to the centuries,
must shake a leg in the dance, and Age, from emulation and habit, and
for denial of rheumatic incapacity, must occasionally twist his heel
though he twist it off in the performance. Dance we must, and dance we
shall; that is settled; the question of magnitude is, Shall we caper
jocundly with the good grace of an easy conscience, or submit to shuffle
half-heartedly with a sense of shame, wincing under the slow stroke of
our own rebuking eye? To this momentous question let us now
intelligently address our minds, sacredly pledged, as becomes lovers of
truth, to its determination in the manner most agreeable to our desires;
and if, in pursuance of this laudable design, we have the unhappiness to
bother the bunions decorating the all-pervading feet of the good people
whose deprecations are voiced in _The Dance of Death_ and the clamatory
literature of which that blessed volume was the honored parent, upon
their own corns be it; they should not have obtruded these eminences

                   when youth and pleasure meet
    To chase the glowing hours with flying feet.

What, therefore, whence, and likewise why, is dancing? From what flower
of nature, fertilized by what pollen of circumstance or necessity, is it
the fruit? Let us go to the root of the matter.



Nature takes a childish delight in tireless repetition. The days repeat
themselves, the tides ebb and flow, the tree sways forth and back. This
world is intent upon recurrences. Not the pendulum of a clock is more
persistent of iteration than are all existing things; periodicity is the
ultimate law and largest explanation of the universe--to do it over
again the one insatiable ambition of all that is. Everything vibrates;
through vibration alone do the senses discern it. We are not provided
with means of cognizance of what is absolutely at rest; impressions come
in waves. Recurrence, recurrence, and again recurrence--that is the sole
phenomenon. With what fealty we submit us to the law which compels the
rhythm and regularity to our movement--that makes us divide up passing
time into brief equal intervals, marking them off by some method of
physical notation, so that our senses may apprehend them! In all we do
we unconsciously mark time like a clock, the leader of an orchestra with
his _bâton_ only more perfectly than the smith with his hammer, or the
woman with her needle, because his hand is better assisted by his ear,
less embarrassed with _impedimenta_. The pedestrian impelling his legs
and the idler twiddling his thumbs are endeavoring, each in his
unconscious way, to beat time to some inaudible music; and the graceless
lout, sitting cross-legged in a horse-car, manages the affair with his

The more intently we labor, the more intensely do we become absorbed in
labor's dumb song, until with body and mind engaged in the ecstacy of
repetition, we resent an interruption of our work as we do a false note
in music, and are mightily enamored of ourselves afterward for the power
of application which was simply inability to desist. In this rhythm of
toil is to be found the charm of industry. Toil has in itself no spell
to conjure with, but its recurrences of molecular action, cerebral and
muscular, are as delightful as rhyme.

Such of our pleasures as require movements equally rhythmic with those
entailed by labor are almost equally agreeable, with the added advantage
of being useless. Dancing, which is not only rhythmic movement, pure and
simple, undebased with any element of utility, but is capable of
performance under conditions positively baneful, is for these reasons
the most engaging of them all; and if it were but one-half as wicked as
the prudes have endeavored by method of naughty suggestion to make it
would lack of absolute bliss nothing but the other half.

This ever active and unabatable something within us which compels us
always to be marking time we may call, for want of a better name, the
instinct of rhythm. It is the æsthetic principle of our nature.
Translated into words it has given us poetry; into sound, music; into
motion, dancing. Perhaps even painting may be referred to it, space
being the correlative of time, and color the correlative of tone. We are
fond of arranging our minute intervals of time into groups. We find
certain of these groups highly agreeable, while others are no end
unpleasant. In the former there is a singular regularity to be observed,
which led hard-headed old Leibnitz to the theory that our delight in
music arises from an inherent affection for mathematics. Yet musicians
have hitherto obtained but indifferent recognition for feats of
calculation, nor have the singing and playing of renowned mathematicians
been unanimously commended by good judges.

Music so intensifies and excites the instinct of rhythm that a strong
volition is required to repress its physical expression. The
universality of this is well illustrated by the legend, found in some
shape in many countries and languages, of the boy with the fiddle who
compels king, cook, peasant, clown, and all that kind of people, to
follow him through the land; and in the myth of the Pied Piper of
Hamelin we discern abundant reason to think the instinct of rhythm an
attribute of rats. Soldiers march so much livelier with music than
without that it has been found a tolerably good substitute for the hope
of plunder. When the foot-falls are audible, as on the deck of a
steamer, walking has an added pleasure, and even the pirate, with gentle
consideration for the universal instinct, suffers his vanquished foeman
to walk the plank.

Dancing is simply marking time with the body, as an accompaniment to
music, though the same--without the music--is done with only the head
and forefinger in a New England meeting-house at psalm time. (The
peculiar dance named in honor of St. Vitus is executed with or without
music, at the option of the musician.) But the body is a clumsy piece of
machinery, requiring some attention and observation to keep it
accurately in time to the fiddling. The smallest diversion of the
thought, the briefest relaxing of the mind, is fatal to the performance.
'Tis as easy to fix attention on a sonnet of Shakspeare while working at
whist as gloat upon your partner while waltzing. It can not be
intelligently, appreciatively, and adequately accomplished--_crede

On the subject of poetry, Emerson says: "Metre begins with pulse-beat,
and the length of lines in songs and poems is determined by the
inhalation and exhalation of the lungs," and this really goes near to
the root of the matter; albeit we might derive therefrom the unsupported
inference that a poet "fat and scant of breath" would write in lines of
a foot each, while the more able-bodied bard, with the capacious lungs
of a pearl-diver, would deliver himself all across his page, with "the
spacious volubility of a drumming decasyllabon."

While the heart, working with alternate contraction and dilatation,
sends the blood intermittently through the brain, and the outer world
apprises us of its existence only by successive impulses, it must result
that our sense of things will be rhythmic. The brain being alternately
stimulated and relaxed we must think--as we feel--in waves, apprehending
nothing continuously, and incapable of a consciousness that is not
divisible into units of perception of which we make mental record and
physical sign. That is why we dance. That is why we can, may, must,
will, and shall dance, and the gates of Philistia shall not prevail
against us.

    La valse légère, la valse légère,
    The free, the bright, the debonair,
    That stirs the strong, and fires the fair
    With joy like wine of vintage rare--
    That lends the swiftly circling pair
    A short surcease of killing care,
    With music in the dreaming air,
    With elegance and grace to spare.
    Vive! vive la valse, la valse légère!

                            --_George Jessop_.



Our civilization--wise child!--knows its father in the superior
civilization whose colossal vestiges are found along the Nile. To those,
then, who see in the dance a civilizing art, it can not be wholly
unprofitable to glance at this polite accomplishment as it existed among
the ancient Egyptians, and was by them transmitted--with various
modifications, but preserving its essentials of identity--to other
nations and other times. And here we have first to note that, as in all
the nations of antiquity, the dance in Egypt was principally a religious
ceremony; the pious old boys that builded the pyramids executed their
jigs as an act of worship. Diodorus Siculus informs us that Osiris, in
his proselyting travels among the peoples surrounding Egypt--for Osiris
was what we would call a circuit preacher--was accompanied by dancers
male and dancers female. From the sculptures on some of the oldest tombs
of Thebes it is seen that the dances there depicted did not greatly
differ from those in present favor in the same region; although it seems
a fair inference from the higher culture and refinement of the elder
period that they were distinguished by graces correspondingly superior.
That dances having the character of religious rites were not always free
from an element that we would term indelicacy, but which their
performers and witnesses probably considered the commendable exuberance
of zeal and devotion, is manifest from the following passage of
Herodotus, in which reference is made to the festival of Bubastis:

  Men and women come sailing all together, vast numbers in each boat,
  many of the women with castanets, which they strike, while some of
  the men pipe during the whole period of the voyage; the remainder of
  the voyagers, male and female, sing the while, and make a clapping
  with their hands. When they arrive opposite to any town on the banks
  of the stream they approach the shore, and while some of the women
  continue to play and sing, others call aloud to the females of the
  place and load them with abuse, a certain number dancing and others
  standing up, uncovering themselves. Proceeding in this way all along
  the river course they reach Bubastis, where they celebrate the feast
  with abundant sacrifice.

Of the mysteries of Isis and Osiris, in which dancing played an
important part, the character of the ceremonies is matter of dim
conjecture; but from the hints that have come down to us like
significant shrugs and whispers from a discreet past, which could say a
good deal more if it had a mind to, I hasten to infer that they were no
better than they should have been.

Naturally the dances for amusement of others were regulated in movement
and gesture to suit the taste of patrons: for the refined, decency and
moderation; for the wicked, _a soupçon_ of the other kind of excellence.
In the latter case the buffoon, an invariable adjunct, committed a
thousand extravagances, and was a dear, delightful, naughty ancient
Egyptian buffoon. These dances were performed by both men and women;
sometimes together, more frequently in separate parties. The men seem to
have confined themselves mostly to exercises requiring strength of leg
and arm. The figures on the tombs represent men in lively and vigorous
postures, some in attitude preliminary to leaping, others in the air.
This feature of agility would be a novelty in the oriental dances of
to-day; the indolent male spectator being satisfied with a slow,
voluptuous movement congenial to his disposition. When, on the contrary,
the performance of our prehistoric friends was governed and determined
by ideas of grace, there were not infrequently from six to eight musical
instruments, the harp, guitar, double-pipe, lyre, and tambourine of the
period being most popular, and these commonly accompanied by a clapping
of hands to mark the time.

As with the Greeks, dancers were had in at dinner to make merry; for
although the upper-class Egyptian was forbidden to practice the art,
either as an accomplishment or for the satisfaction of his emotional
nature, it was not considered indecorous to hire professionals to
perform before him and his female and young. The she dancer usually
habited herself in a loose, flowing robe, falling to the ankles and
bound at the waist, while about the hips was fastened a narrow, ornate
girdle. This costume--in point of opacity imperfectly superior to a
gentle breeze--is not always discernible in the sculptures; but it is
charitably believed that the pellucid garment, being merely painted over
the figures, has been ravished away by the hand of Time--the wretch!

One of the dances was a succession of pleasing attitudes, the hands and
arms rendering important assistance--the body bending backward and
forward and swaying laterally, the _figurante_ sometimes half-kneeling,
and in that position gracefully posturing, and again balanced on one
foot, the arms and hands waving slowly in time to the music. In another
dance, the _pirouette_ and other figures dear to the bald-headed beaux
of the modern play-house, were practiced in the familiar way. Four
thousand years ago, the senses of the young ancient Egyptian--wild,
heady lad!--were kicked into confusion by the dark-skinned belle of the
ballet, while senility, with dimmed eyes, rubbed its dry hands in
feverish approval at the self-same feat. Dear, dear, but it was a bad
world four thousand years ago!

Sometimes they danced in pairs, men with men and women with women,
indifferently, the latter arrangement seeming to us preferable by reason
of the women's conspicuously superior grace and almost equal agility;
for it is in evidence on the tombs that tumblers and acrobats were
commonly of the softer sex. Some of the attitudes were similar to those
which drew from Socrates the ungallant remark that women were capable of
learning anything which you will that they should know. The figures in
this _pas de deux_ appear frequently to have terminated in what
children, with their customary coarseness of speech, are pleased to call
"wringing the dish-clout"--clasping the hands, throwing the arms above
the head and turning rapidly, each as on a pivot, without loosing the
hands of the other, and resting again in position.

Sometimes, with no other music than the percussion of hands, a man would
execute a _pas seul_, which it is to be presumed he enjoyed. Again, with
a riper and better sense of musical methods, the performer accompanied
himself, or, as in this case it usually was, herself, on the
double-pipes, the guitar or the tambourine, while the familiar
hand-clapping was done by attendants. A step not unlike that of the
abominable clog dance of the "variety" stage and "music hall" of the
present day consisted in striking the heel of first one foot and then
the other, the hands and arms being employed to diminish the monotony of
the movement. For amusement and instruction of the vulgar, buffoons in
herds of ten or more in fested the streets, hopping and posing to the
sound of a drum.

As illustrating the versatility of the dance, its wide capacities of
adaptation to human emotional needs, I may mention here the procession
of women to the tomb of a friend or relative Punishing the tambourine or
_dara booka_ drum, and bearing branches of palm or other symbolic
vegetables, these sprightly mourners passed through the streets with
songs and dances which, under the circumstances, can hardly have failed
eminently to gratify the person so fortunate as to have his memory
honored by so delicate and appropriate observance.



The early Jew danced ritually and socially. Some of his dances and the
customs connected therewith were of his own devising; others he picked
up in Egypt, the latter, no doubt, being more firmly fixed in his memory
by the necessity of practicing them--albeit behind the back of
Moses--while he had them still fresh in his mind; for he would naturally
resort to every human and inhuman device to wile away the dragging
decades consumed in tracing the labyrinthine sinuosities of his course
in the wilderness. When a man has assurance that he will not be
permitted to arrive at the point for which he set out, perceiving that
every step forward is a step wasted, he will pretty certainly use his
feet to a better purpose than walking. Clearly, at a time when all the
chosen people were Wandering Jews they would dance all they knew how. We
know that they danced in worship of the Golden Calf, and that previously
"Miriam the prophetess, sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and
all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances." And
ever so many generations before, Laban complained to Jacob that Jacob
had stolen away instead of letting him send him off with songs and mirth
and music on the tabret and harp, a method of speeding the parting guest
which would naturally include dancing, although the same is not of
explicit record.

The religious ceremonies of the Jews had not at all times the restraint
and delicacy which it is to be wished the Lord had exacted, for we read
of King David himself dancing before the Ark in a condition so nearly
nude as greatly to scandalize the daughter of Saul. By the way, this
incident has been always a stock argument for the extinction and decent
interment of the unhappy anti dancer. Conceding the necessity of his
extinction, I am yet indisposed to attach much weight to the Davidian
precedent, for it does not appear that he was acting under divine
command, directly or indirectly imparted, and whenever he followed the
hest of his own sweet will David had a notable knack at going wrong.
Perhaps the best value of the incident consists in the evidence it
supplies that dancing was not forbidden--save possibly by divine
injunction--to the higher classes of Jews, for unless we are to suppose
the dancing of David to have been the mere clumsy capering of a loutish
mood (a theory which our respect for royalty, even when divested of its
imposing externals, forbids us to entertain) we are bound to assume
previous instruction and practice in the art. We have, moreover, the
Roman example of the daughter of Herodias, whose dancing before Herod
was so admirably performed that she was suitably rewarded with a
testimonial of her step father's esteem. To these examples many more
might be added, showing by cumulative evidence that among the ancient
people whose religion was good enough for us to adopt and improve,
dancing was a polite and proper accomplishment, although not always
decorously executed on seasonable occasion.



The nearly oldest authentic human records now decipherable are the
cuneiform inscriptions from the archives of Assurbanipal, translated by
the late George Smith, of the British Museum, and in them we find
abundant reference to the dance, but must content ourselves with a
single one.

      The kings of Arabia who against my agreement,
    sinned, whom in the midst of battle alive I had captured
    in hand, to make that Bitrichiti  Heavy burdens I
    caused them to carry and I caused them to take
    building its brick work             with dancing and
    music          with joy and shouting from the found
    ation to its roof I built

A Mesopotamian king, who had the genius to conceive the dazzling idea of
communicating with the readers of this distant generation by taking
impressions of carpet tacks on cubes of unbaked clay is surely entitled
to a certain veneration, and when he associates dancing with such
commendable actions as making porters of his royal captives it is not
becoming in us meaner mortals to set up a contrary opinion. Indeed
nothing can be more certain than that the art of dancing was not
regarded by the ancients generally in the light of a frivolous
accomplishment, nor its practice a thing wherewith to shoo away a
tedious hour. In their minds it evidently had a certain dignity and
elevation, so much so that they associated it with their ideas
(tolerably correct ones, on the whole) of art, harmony, beauty, truth
and religion With them, dancing bore a relation to walking and the
ordinary movements of the limbs similar to that which poetry bears to
prose, and as our own Emerson--himself something of an ancient--defines
poetry as the piety of the intellect, so Homer would doubtless have
defined dancing as the devotion of the body if he had had the
unspeakable advantage of a training in the Emerson school of epigram.
Such a view of it is natural to the unsophisticated pagan mind, and to
all minds of clean, wholesome, and simple understanding. It is only the
intellect that has been subjected to the strain of overwrought religious
enthusiasm of the more sombre sort that can discern a lurking devil in
the dance, or anything but an exhilarating and altogether delightful
outward manifestation of an inner sense of harmony, joy and well being.
Under the stress of morbid feeling, or the overstrain of religious
excitement, coarsely organized natures see or create something gross and
prurient in things intrinsically sweet and pure, and it happens that
when the dance has fallen to their shaping and direction, as in
religious rites, then it has received its most objectionable development
and perversion. But the grossness of dances devised by the secular mind
for purposes of æsthetic pleasure is all in the censorious critic, who
deserves the same kind of rebuke administered by Dr. Johnson to Boswell,
who asked the Doctor if he considered a certain nude statue immodest.
"No, sir, but your question is."

It would be an unfortunate thing, indeed, if the "prurient prudes" of
the meeting houses were permitted to make the laws by which society
should be governed. The same unhappy psychological condition which makes
the dance an unclean thing in their jaundiced eyes renders it impossible
for them to enjoy art or literature when the subject is natural, the
treatment free and joyous. The ingenuity that can discover an indelicate
provocative in the waltz will have no difficulty in snouting out all
manner of uncleanliness in Shakspeare, Chaucer, Boccacio--nay, even in
the New Testament. It would detect an unpleasant suggestiveness in the
Medicean Venus, and two in the Dancing Faun. To all such the ordinary
functions of life are impure, the natural man and woman things to blush
at, all the economies of nature full of shocking improprieties.

In the Primitive Church dancing was a religious rite, no less than it
was under the older dispensation among the Jews. On the eve of sacred
festivals, the young people were accustomed to assemble, sometimes
before the church door, sometimes in the choir or nave of the church,
and dance and sing hymns in honor of the saint whose festival it was.
Easter Sunday, especially, was so celebrated; and rituals of a
comparatively modern date contain the order in which it is appointed
that the dances are to be performed, and the words of the hymns to the
music of which the youthful devotees flung up their pious heels But I

In Plato's time the Greeks held that dancing awakened and preserved in
the soul--as I do not doubt that it does--the sentiment of harmony and
proportion; and in accordance with this idea Simonides, with a happy
knack at epigram, defined dances as "poems in dumb show."

In his _Republic_ Plato classifies the Grecian dances as domestic,
designed for relaxation and amusement, military, to promote strength and
activity in battle; and religious, to accompany the sacred songs at
pious festivals. To the last class belongs the dance which Theseus is
said to have instituted on his return from Crete, after having abated
the Minotaur nuisance. At the head of a noble band of youth, this public
spirited reformer of abuses himself executed his dance. Theseus as a
dancing-master does not much fire the imagination, it is true, but the
incident has its value and purpose in this dissertation. Theseus called
his dance _Geranos_, or the "Crane," because its figures resembled those
described by that fowl aflight; and Plutarch fancied he discovered in it
a meaning which one does not so readily discover in Plutarch's

It is certain that, in the time of Anacreon[A], the Greeks loved the
dance. That poet, with frequent repetition, felicitates himself that age
has not deprived him of his skill in it. In Ode LIII, he declares that
in the dance he renews his youth

    When I behold the festive train
    Of dancing youth, I'm young again

    And let me, while the wild and young
    Trip the mazy dance along
    Fling my heap of years away
    And be as wild, as young as they


[Footnote A: It may be noted here that the popular conception of this
poet as a frivolous sensualist is unsustained by evidence and repudiated
by all having knowledge of the matter. Although love and wine were his
constant themes, there is good ground for the belief that he wrote of
them with greater _abandon_ than he indulged in them--a not uncommon
practice of the poet-folk, by the way, and one to which those who sing
of deeds of arms are perhaps especially addicted. The great age which
Anacreon attained points to a temperate life; and he more than once
denounces intoxication with as great zeal as a modern reformer who has
eschewed the flagon for the trencher. According to Anacreon, drunkenness
is "the vice of barbarians;" though, for the matter of that, it is
difficult to say what achievable vice is not. In Ode LXII, he sings:

    Fill me, boy, as deep a draught
    As e'er was filled, as e'er was quaffed;
    But let the water amply flow
    To cool the grape's intemperate glow.
           *       *       *       *       *
    For though the bowl's the grave of sadness
    Ne'er let it be the birth of madness
    No! banish from our board to night
    The revelries of rude delight
    To Scythians leave these wild excesses
    Ours be the joy that soothes and blesses!
    And while the temperate bowl we wreathe
    In concert let our voices breathe
    Beguiling every hour along
    With harmony of soul and song

Maximus of Tyre speaking of Polycrates the Tyrant (tyrant, be it
remembered, meant only usurper, not oppressor) considered the happiness
of that potentate secure because he had a powerful navy and such a
friend as Anacreon--the word navy naturally suggesting cold water, and
cold water, Anacreon.]

And so in Ode LIX, which seems to be a vintage hymn.

    When he whose verging years decline
    As deep into the vale as mine
    When he inhales the vintage cup
    His feet new winged from earth spring up
    And as he dances the fresh air
    Plays whispering through his silvery hair


In Ode XLVII, he boasts that age has not impaired his relish for, nor
his power of indulgence in, the feast and dance.

      Tis true my fading years decline
      Yet I can quaff the brimming wine
      As deep as any stripling fair
      Whose cheeks the flush of morning wear,
      And if amidst the wanton crew
      I'm called to wind the dance's clew
      Then shalt thou see this vigorous hand
      Not faltering on the Bacchant's wand

      For though my fading years decay--
      Though manhood's prime hath passed away,
      Like old Silenus sire divine
      With blushes borrowed from the wine
      I'll wanton mid the dancing tram
      And live my follies o'er again


Cornelius Nepos, I think, mentions among the admirable qualities of the
great Epaminondas that he had an extraordinary talent for music and
dancing. Epaminondas accomplishing his jig must be accepted as a
pleasing and instructive figure in the history of the dance.

Lucian says that a dancer must have some skill as an actor, and some
acquaintance with mythology--the reason being that the dances at the
festivals of the gods partook of the character of pantomime, and
represented the most picturesque events and passages in the popular
religion. Religious knowledge is happily no longer regarded as a
necessary qualification for the dance, and, in point of fact no thing is
commonly more foreign to the minds of those who excel in it.

It is related of Aristides the Just that he danced at an entertainment
given by Dionysius the Tyrant, and Plato, who was also a guest, probably
confronted him in the set.

The "dance of the wine press," described by Longinus, was originally
modest and proper, but seems to have become in the process of time--and
probably by the stealthy participation of disguised prudes--a kind of
_can can_.

In the high noon of human civilization--in the time of Pericles at
Athens--dancing seems to have been regarded as a civilizing and refining
amusement in which the gravest dignitaries and most renowned worthies
joined with indubitable alacrity, if problematic advantage. Socrates
himself--at an advanced age, too--was persuaded by the virtuous Aspasia
to cut his caper with the rest of them.

Horace (Ode IX, Book I,) exhorts the youth not to despise the dance:

              Nec dulcis amores
        Sperne puer, neque tu choreas.

Which may be freely translated thus:

    Boy, in Love's game don't miss a trick,
    Nor be in the dance a walking stick.

In Ode IV, Book I, he says:

    Jam Cytherea choros ducit, inminente Luna
    Junctæque Nymphis Gratiæ decentes
    Alterno terram quatiunt pede, etc.

    At moonrise, Venus and her joyous band
    Of Nymphs and Graces leg it o'er the land

In Ode XXXVI, Book I (supposed to have been written when Numida returned
from the war in Spain, with Augustus, and referring to which an old
commentator says "We may judge with how much tenderness Horace loved his
friends, when he celebrates their return with sacrifices, songs, and
dances") Horace writes

    Cressa ne careat pulchra dies nota
    Neu promtæ modus amphoræ
    Neu morem in Salium sit requies pedum etc.

    Let not the day forego its mark
    Nor lack the wine jug's honest bark
    Like Salian priests we'll toss our toes--
    Choose partners for the dance--here goes!

It has been hastily inferred that, in the time of Cicero, dancing was
not held in good repute among the Romans, but I prefer to consider his
ungracious dictum (in _De Ami citia_, I think,) "_Nemo sobrius
saltat_"--no sober man dances--as merely the spiteful and envious fling
of a man who could not himself dance, and am disposed to congratulate
the golden youth of the Eternal City on the absence of the solemn
consequential and egotistic orator from their festivals and merry
makings whence his shining talents would have been so many several
justifications for his forcible extrusion. No doubt his eminence
procured him many invitations to balls of the period, and some of these
he probably felt constrained to accept, but it is highly unlikely that
he was often solicited to dance, he probably wiled away the tedious
hours of inaction by instructing the fibrous virgins and gouty bucks in
the principles of juris prudence. Cicero as a wall flower is an
interesting object, and, turning to another branch of our subject, in
this picturesque attitude we leave him. Left talking.



Having glanced, briefly, and as through a glass darkly, at the dance as
it existed in the earliest times of which we have knowledge in the
country whence, through devious and partly obliterated channels, we
derived much of our civilization, let us hastily survey some of its
modern methods in the same region--supplying thereby some small means of
comparison to the reader who may care to note the changes undergone and
the features preserved.

We find the most notable, if not the only, purely Egyptian dancer of our
time in the _Alme_ or _Ghowazee_. The former name is derived from the
original calling of this class--that of reciting poetry to the inmates
of the harem, the latter they acquired by dancing at the festivals of
the Ghors, or Memlooks. Reasonably modest at first, the dancing of the
Alme became, in the course of time, so conspicuously indelicate that
great numbers of the softer sex persuaded themselves to its acquirement
and practice, and a certain viceregal Prude once contracted the powers
of the whole Cairo contingent of Awalim into the pent up Utica of the
town of Esuch, some five hundred miles removed from the viceregal
dissenting eye. For a brief season the order was enforced, then the
sprightly sinners danced out of bounds, and their successors can now be
found by the foreign student of Egyptian morals without the fatigue and
expense of a long journey up the Nile.

The professional dress of the Alme consists of a short embroidered
jacket, fitting closely to the arms and back, but frankly unreserved in
front, long loose trousers of silk sufficiently opaque somewhat to
soften the severity of the lower limbs, a Cashmere shawl bound about the
waist and a light turban of muslin embroidered with gold. The long black
hair, starred with small coins, falls abundantly over the shoulders. The
eyelids are sabled with kohl, and such other paints, oils, varnishes and
dyestuffs are used as the fair one--who is a trifle dark, by the
way--may have proved for herself, or accepted on the superior judgment
of her European sisters. Altogether, the girl's outer and visible aspect
is not unattractive to the eye of the traveler, however faulty to the
eye of the traveler's wife. When about to dance, the Alme puts on a
lighter and more diaphanous dress, eschews her slippers, and with a slow
and measured step advances to the centre of the room--her lithe figure
undulating with a grace peculiarly serpentile. The music is that of a
reed pipe or a tambourine--a number of attendants assisting with
castanets. Perhaps the "argument" of her dance will be a love-passage
with an imaginary young Arab. The coyness of a first meeting by chance
her gradual warming into passion their separation, followed by her tears
and dejection the hope of meeting soon again and, finally, the
intoxication of being held once more in his arms--all are delineated
with a fidelity and detail surprising to whatever of judgment the
masculine spectator may have the good fortune to retain.

One of the prime favorites is the "wasp dance," allied to the
Tarantella. Although less pleasing in motive than that described, the
wasp dance gives opportunity for movements of even superior
significance--or, as one may say, suggestures. The girl stands in a
pensive posture, her hands demurely clasped in front, her head poised a
little on one side. Suddenly a wasp is heard to approach, and by her
gestures is seen to have stung her on the breast. She then darts hither
and thither in pursuit of that audacious insect, assuming all manner of
provoking attitudes, until, finally, the wasp having been caught and
miserably exterminated, the girl resumes her innocent smile and modest



Throughout Asia, dancing is marked by certain characteristics which do
not greatly differ, save in degree, among the various peoples who
practice it. With few exceptions, it is confined to the superior sex,
and these ladies, I am sorry to confess, have not derived as great moral
advantage from the monopoly as an advocate of dancing would prefer to

Dancing--the rhythmical movement of the limbs and body to music--is, as
I have endeavored to point out, instinctive, hardly a people, savage or
refined, but has certain forms of it. When, from any cause, the men
abstain from its execution it has commonly not the character of grace
and agility as its dominant feature, but is distinguished by soft,
voluptuous movements, suggestive posturing, and all the wiles by which
the performer knows she can best please the other sex, the most
forthright and effective means to that commendable end being evocation
of man's baser nature. The Japanese men are anti-dancers from necessity
of costume, if nothing else, and the effect is much the same as
elsewhere under the same conditions the women dance, the men gloat and
the gods grieve.

There are two kinds of dances in Japan, the one not only lewd, but--to
speak with accurate adjustment of word to fact--beastly, in the other
grace is the dominating element, and decency as cold as a snow storm. Of
the former class, the "Chon Nookee" is the most popular. It is, however,
less a dance than an exhibition, and its patrons are the wicked, the
dissolute and the European. It is commonly given at some entertainment
to which respectable women have not the condescension to be
invited--such as a dinner party of some wealthy gentleman's gentlemen
friends. The dinner-served on the floor--having been impatiently tucked
away, and the candies, cakes, hot saki and other necessary addenda of a
Japanese dinner brought in, the "Chon Nookee" is demanded, and with a
modest demeanor, worn as becomingly as if it were their every day habit,
the performers glide in, seating themselves coyly on the floor, in two
rows. Each dancing girl is appareled in such captivating bravery as her
purse can buy or her charms exact. The folds of her varicolored gowns
crossing her bosom makes combinations of rich, warm hues, which it were
folly not to admire and peril to admire too much. The faces of these
girls are in many instances exceedingly pretty, but with that
natural--and, be it humbly submitted, not very creditable--tendency of
the sex to revision and correction of nature's handiwork, they plaster
them with pigments dear to the sign painter and temper the red glory of
their lips with a bronze preparation which the flattered brass founder
would no doubt deem kissable utterly. The music is made by beating a
drum and twanging a kind of guitar, the musician chanting the while to
an exceedingly simple air words which, in deference to the possible
prejudices of those readers who may be on terms of familarity with the
Japanese language, I have deemed it proper to omit--with an apology to
the Prudes for the absence of an appendix in which they might be given
without offense. (I had it in mind to insert the music here, but am told
by credible authority that in Japan music is moral or immoral without
reference to the words that may be sung with it. So I omit--with
reluctance--the score, as well as the words.)

The chanting having proceeded for a few minutes the girls take up the
song and enter spiritedly into the dance. One challenges another and at
a certain stage of the lively song with the sharp cry _"Hoi!"_ makes a
motion with her hand. Failure on the part of the other instantaneously
and exactly to copy this gesture entails the forfeiture of a garment,
which is at once frankly removed. Cold and mechanical at the outset, the
music grows spirited as the girls grow nude, and the dancers themselves
become strangely excited as they warm to the work, taking, the while,
generous potations of saki to assist their enthusiasm.

Let it not be supposed that in all this there is anything of passion, it
is with these women nothing more that the mere mental exaltation
produced by music, exercise and drink. With the spectators (I have
heard) it fares somewhat otherwise.

When modesty's last rag has been discarded, the girls as if suddenly
abashed at their own audacity, fly like startled fawns from the room,
leaving their patrons to make a settlement with conscience and arrange
the terms upon which that monitor will consent to the performance of the
rest of the dance. For the dance proper--or improper--is now about to
begin. If the first part seemed somewhat tropical, comparison with what
follows will acquit it of that demerit. The combinations of the dance
are infinitely varied, and so long as willing witnesses remain--which,
in simple justice to manly fortitude it should be added, is a good
while--so long will the "Chon Nookee" present a new and unexpected
phase, but it is thought expedient that no more of them be presented
here, and if the reader has done me the honor to have enough of it, we
will pass to the consideration of another class of dances.

Of this class those most in favor are the Fan and Umbrella dances,
performed, usually, by young girls trained almost from infancy. The
Japanese are passionately fond of these beautiful exhibitions of grace,
and no manner of festivity is satisfactorily celebrated without them.
The musicians, all girls, commonly six or eight in number, play on the
guitar, a small ivory wand being used, instead of the fingers, to strike
the strings. The dancer, a girl of some thirteen years, is elaborately
habited as a page. Confined by the closely folded robe as by fetters,
the feet and legs are not much used, the feet, indeed, never leaving the
floor. Time is marked by undulations of the body, waving the arms, and
deft manipulation of the fan. The supple figure bends and sways like a
reed in the wind, advances and recedes, one movement succeeding another
by transitions singularly graceful, the arms describing innumerable
curves, and the fan so skilfully handled as to seem instinct with a life
and liberty of its own. Nothing more pure, more devoid of evil
suggestion, can be imagined. It is a sad fact that the poor children
trained to the execution of this harmless and pleasing dance are
destined, in their riper years, to give their charms and graces to the
service of the devil in the 'Chon Nookee'. The umbrella dance is similar
to the one just described, the main difference being the use of a small,
gaily colored umbrella in place of the fan.

Crossing from Japan to China, the Prude will find a condition of things
which, for iron severity of morals, is perhaps unparalleled--no dancing
whatever, by either profligate or virtuous women. To whatever original
cause we may attribute this peculiarity, it seems eternal, for the women
of the upper classes have an ineradicable habit of so mutilating their
feet that even the polite and comparatively harmless accomplishment of
walking is beyond their power, those of the lower orders have not sense
enough to dance, and that men should dance alone is a proposition of
such free and forthright idiocy as to be but obscurely conceivable to
any understanding not having the gift of maniacal inspiration, or the
normal advantage of original incapacity. Altogether, we may rightly
consider China the heaven appointed _habitat_ of people who dislike the

In Siam, what little is known of dancing is confined to the people of
Laos. The women are meek eyed, spiritless creatures, crushed under the
heavy domination of the stronger sex. Naturally, their music and dancing
are of a plaintive, almost doleful character, not without a certain
cloying sweetness, however. The dancing is as graceful as the pudgy
little bodies of the women are capable of achieving--a little more
pleasing than the capering of a butcher's block, but not quite so much
so as that of a wash tub. Its greatest merit is the steely rigor of its
decorum. The dancers, however, like ourselves, are a shade less
appallingly proper off the floor than on it.

In no part of the world, probably, is the condition of women more
consummately deplorable than in India, and, in consequence, nowhere than
in the dances of that country is manifested a more simple
unconsciousness or frank disregard of decency. As by nature, and
according to the light that is in him, the Hindu is indolent and
licentious, so, in accurately matching degree, are the dancing girls
innocent of morality, and uninfected with shame. It would be difficult,
more keenly to insult a respectable Hindu woman than to accuse her of
having danced, while the man who should affect the society of the
females justly so charged would incur the lasting detestation of his
race. The dancing girls are of two orders of infamy--those who serve in
the temples, and are hence called Devo Dasi, slaves of the gods, and the
Nautch girls, who dance in a secular sort for hire. Frequently a mother
will make a vow to dedicate her unborn babe, if it have the obedience to
be a girl, to the service of some particular god, in this way, and by
the daughters born to themselves, are the ranks of the Devo Dasi
recruited. The sons of these miserable creatures are taught to play upon
musical instruments for their mothers and sisters to dance by. As the
ordinary Hindu woman is careless about the exposure of her charms, so
these dancers take intelligent and mischievous advantage of the social
situation by immodestly concealing their own. The Devo Dasi actually go
to the length of wearing clothes! Each temple has a band of eight or ten
of these girls, who celebrate their saltatory rites morning and evening.
Advancing at the head of the religious procession, they move themselves
in an easy and graceful manner, with gradual transition to a more
sensuous and voluptuous motion, suiting their action to the religious
frame of mind of the devout until their well-rounded limbs and lithe
figures express a degree of piety consonant with the purpose of the
particular occasion. They attend all public ceremonies and festivals,
executing their audacious dances impartially for gods and men.

The Nautch girls are purchased in infancy, and as carefully trained in
their wordly way as the Devo Dasi for the diviner function, being about
equally depraved. All the large cities contain full sets of these girls,
with attendant musicians, ready for hire at festivals of any kind, and
by leaving orders parties are served at their residences with fidelity
and dispatch. Commonly they dance two at a time, but frequently some
wealthy gentleman will secure the services of a hundred or more to
assist him through the day without resorting to questionable expedients
of time-killing. Their dances require strict attention, from the
circumstance that their feet--like those of the immortal equestrienne of
Banbury Cross--are hung with small bells, which must be made to sound in
concert with the notes of the musicians. In attitude and gesture they
are almost as bad as their pious sisters of the temples. The endeavor is
to express the passions of love, hope, jealousy, despair, etc, and they
eke out this mimicry with chanted songs in every way worthy of the
movements of which they are the explanatory notes. These are the only
women in Hindustan whom it is thought worth while to teach to read and
write. If they would but make as noble use of their intellectual as they
do of their physical education, they might perhaps produce books as
moral as _The Dance of Death_.

In Persia and Asia Minor, the dances and dancers are nearly alike. In
both countries the Georgian and Circassian slaves who have been taught
the art of pleasing, are bought by the wealthy for their amusement and
that of their wives and concubines. Some of the performances are pure in
motive and modest in execution, but most of them are interesting
otherwise. The beautiful young Circassian slave, clad in loose robes of
diaphanous texture, takes position, castanets in hand, on a square rug,
and to the music of a kind of violin goes through the figures of her
dance, her whiteness giving her an added indelicacy which the European
spectator misses in the capering of her berry brown sisters in sin of
other climes.

The dance of the Georgian is more spirited. Her dress is a brief skirt
reaching barely to the knees and a low cut chemise. In her night black
hair is wreathed a bright red scarf or string of pearls. The music, at
first low and slow increases by degrees in rapidity and volume, then
falls away almost to silence, again swells and quickens and so
alternates, the motions of the dancer's willowy and obedient figure
accurately according now seeming to swim languidly, and anon her little
feet having their will of her, and fluttering in midair like a couple of
birds. She is an engaging creature, her ways are ways of pleasantness,
but whether all her paths are peace depends somewhat, it is reasonable
to conjecture, upon the circumspection of her daily walk and
conversation when relegated to the custody of her master's wives.

In some parts of Persia the dancing of boys appareled as women is held
in high favor, but exactly what wholesome human sentiment it addresses I
am not prepared to say.



From the rapid and imperfect review of certain characteristic oriental
dances in the chapters immediately preceding--or rather from the studies
some of whose minor results those chapters embody--I make deduction of a
few significant facts, to which facts of contrary significance seem
exceptional. In the first place, it is to be noted that in countries
where woman is conspicuously degraded the dance is correspondingly
depraved. By "the dance," I mean, of course, those characteristic and
typical performances which have permanent place in the social life of
the people. Amongst all nations the dance exists in certain loose and
unrecognized forms, which are the outgrowth of the moment--creatures of
caprice, posing and pranking their brief and inglorious season, to be
superseded by some newer favorite, born of some newer accident or fancy.
A fair type of these ephemeral dances--the comets of the saltatory
system--in so far as they can have a type, is the now familiar _Can-Can_
of the Jardin Mabille--a dance the captivating naughtiness of which has
given it wide currency in our generation, the successors to whose aged
rakes and broken bawds it will fail to please and would probably make
unhappy. Dances of this character, neither national, universal, nor
enduring, have little value to the student of anything but anatomy and
lingerie. By study of a thousand, the product of as many years, it might
be possible to trace the thread upon which such beads are
strung--indeed, it is pretty obvious without research; but considered
singly they have nothing of profit to the investigator, who will do well
to contemplate without reflection or perform without question, as the
bent of his mind may be observant or experimental.

Dancing, then, is indelicate where the women are depraved, and to this
it must be added that the women are depraved where the men are indolent.
We need not trouble ourselves to consider too curiously as to cause and
effect. Whether in countries where man is too lazy to be manly, woman
practices deferential adjustment of her virtues to the loose exactions
of his tolerance, or whether for ladies of indifferent modesty their
lords will not make exertion--these are questions for the ethnologer. It
concerns our purpose only to note that the male who sits cross-legged on
a rug and permits his female to do the dancing for both gets a quality
distinctly inferior to that enjoyed by his more energetic brother,
willing himself to take a leg at the game. Doubtless the lazy fellow
prefers the loose gamboling of nude girls to the decent grace and
moderation of a better art, but this, I submit, is an error of taste
resulting from imperfect instruction.

And here we are confronted with the ever recurrent question. Is dancing
immoral? The reader who has done me the honor attentively to consider
the brief descriptions of certain dances, hereinbefore presented will,
it is believed, be now prepared to answer that some sorts of dancing
indubitably are--a bright and shining example of the type being the
exploit wherein women alone perform and men alone admire. But one of the
arguments by which it is sought to prove dancing immoral in
itself--namely that it provokes evil passions--we are now able to
analyze with the necessary discrimination, assigning to it its just
weight, and tracing its real bearing on the question. Dances like those
described (with, I hope a certain delicacy and reticence) are
undoubtedly disturbing to the spectator. They have in that circumstance
their _raison d'être_. As to that, then, there can be no two opinions.
But observe the male oriental voluptuary does not himself dance. Why?
Partly no doubt, because of his immortal indolence, but mainly, I
venture to think, because he wishes to enjoy his reprehensible emotion,
and this can not coexist with muscular activity If the reader--through
either immunity from improper emotion or unfamiliarity with muscular
activity--entertains a doubt of this, his family physician will be happy
to remove it. Nothing is more certain than that the dancing girls of
oriental countries themselves feel nothing of what they have the skill
to simulate, and the ballet dancer of our own stage is icily unconcerned
while kicking together the smouldering embers in the heart of the wigged
and corseted old beau below her, and playing the duse's delight with the
disobedient imagination of the he Prude posted in the nooks and shadows
thoughtfully provided for him. Stendahl frankly informs us, "I have had
much experience with the _danseuses_ of the ---- Theatre at Valence. I
am convinced that they are, for the most part, very chaste. It is
because their occupation is too fatiguing."

The same author, by the way, says elsewhere

  I would wish if I were legislator that they should adopt in France
  as in Germany the custom of _soirées dansantes_. Four times a month
  the young girls go with their mothers to a ball beginning at seven
  o'clock, ending at midnight and requiring for all expense, a violin
  and some glasses of water. In an adjacent room, the mothers perhaps
  a little jealous of the happy education of their daughters play at
  cards, in a third the fathers find the newspapers and talk politics.
  Between midnight and one o'clock all the family are reunited and
  have regained the paternal roof. The young girls learn to know the
  young men, the fatuity, and the indiscretion that follows it, become
  quickly odious, in a word they learn how to choose a husband. Some
  young girls have unfortunate love affairs, but the number of
  deceived husbands and unhappy households (_mauvaises ménages_)
  diminishes in immense proportion.

For an iron education in cold virtue there is no school like the
position of sitting master to the wall flowers at a church sociable, but
it is humbly conjectured that even the austere morality of a bald headed
Prude might receive an added iciness if he would but attend one of these
simple dancing bouts disguised as a sweet young girl.



Nearly all the great writers of antiquity and of the medieval period who
have mentioned dancing at all have done so in terms of unmistakable
favor; of modern famous authors, they only have condemned it from whose
work, or from what is known of their personal character, we may justly
infer an equal aversion to pretty much everything in the way of pleasure
that a Christian needs not die in order to enjoy English literature--I
use the word in its noble sense, to exclude all manner of preaching,
whether clerical or lay--is full of the dance; the sound of merry makers
footing it featly to the music runs like an undertone through all the
variations of its theme and fills all its pauses.

In the "Miller's Tale," Chaucer mentions dancing among the
accomplishments of the parish clerk, along with blood letting and the
drawing of legal documents:

    A merry child he was so God me save,
    Wel coud he leten blood and clippe and shave,
    And make a chartre of land, and a quitance,
    In twenty maners could he trip and dance,
    After the scole of Oxenforde tho
    And with his legges casten to and fro[A]

[Footnote A: On this passage Tyrwhit makes the following judicious
comment: The school of Oxford seems to have been in much the same
estimation for its dancing as that of Stratford for its French--alluding
of course to what is, said in the Prologue of the French spoken by the

  And French she spoke full fayre and fetisly
  After the scole of Stratford atte bowe
  For French of Paris was to hire unknowe]

Milton, the greatest of the Puritans--intellectual ancestry of the
modern degenerate Prudes--had a wholesome love of the dance, and nowhere
is his pen so joyous as in its description in the well known passage
from "Comus" which, should it occur to my memory while delivering a
funeral oration, I am sure I could not forbear to quote, albeit this,
our present argument, is but little furthered by its context

    Meanwhile welcome joy and feast
    Midnight shout and revelry
    Tipsy dance and jollity
    Braid your locks with rosy twine
    Dropping odors dropping wine
    Rigor now is gone to bed
    And advice with scrupulous head
    Strict age and sour severity
    With their grave saws in slumber lie
    We that are of purer fire
    Imitate the starry quire
    Who in their nightly watching spheres
    Lead in swift round the months and years
    The sounds and seas with all their finny drove
    And on the tawny sands and shelves
    Trip the pert fairies and the dapper elves

If Milton was not himself a good dancer--and as to that point my memory
is unstored with instance or authority--it will at least be conceded
that he was an admirable reporter, with his heart in the business.
Somewhat to lessen the force of the objection that he puts the foregoing
lines into a not very respectable mouth, on a not altogether reputable
occasion, I append the following passage from the same poem, supposed to
be spoken by the good spirit who had brought a lady and her two brothers
through many perils, restoring them to their parents:

    Noble lord and lady bright
    I have brought ye new delight
    Here behold so goodly grown
    Three fair branches of your own
    Heaven hath timely tried their youth
    Their faith their patience and their truth
    And sent them here through hard assays
    With a crown of deathless praise
    To triumph in victorious dance
    O'er sensual folly and intemperance

The lines on dancing--lines which themselves dance--in "L'Allegro," are
too familiar, I dare not permit myself the enjoyment of quotation.

Lord Herbert of Cherbury, one of the most finished gentlemen of his
time, otherwise laments in his autobiography that he had never learned
to dance because that accomplishment "doth fashion the body, and gives
one a good presence and address in all companies since it disposeth the
limbs to a kind of _souplesse_ (as the French call it) and agility
insomuch as they seem to have the use of their legs, arms, and bodies
more than many others who, standing stiff and stark in their postures,
seem as if they were taken in their joints, or had not the perfect use
of their members." Altogether, a very grave objection to dancing in the
opinion of those who discountenance it, and I take great credit for
candor in presenting his lordship's indictment.

In the following pertinent passage from Lemontey I do not remember the
opinion he quotes from Locke, but his own is sufficiently to the point:

  The dance is for young women what the chase is for young men: a
  protecting school of wisdom--a preservative of the growing passions.
  The celebrated Locke who made virtue the sole end of education,
  expressly recommends teaching children to dance as early as they are
  able to learn. Dancing carries within itself an eminently cooling
  quality and all over the world the tempests of the heart await to
  break forth the repose of the limbs.

In "The Traveller," Goldsmith says:

    Alike all ages dames of ancient days
    Have led their children through the mirthful maze
    And the gay grandsire skilled in gestic lore
    Has frisked beneath the burden of three score.

To the Prudes, in all soberness--Is it likely, considering the stubborn
conservatism of age, that these dames, well seasoned in the habit, will
leave it off directly, or the impenitent old grandsire abate one jot or
tittle of his friskiness in the near future? Is it a reasonable hope? Is
the outlook from the watch towers of Philistia an encouraging one?



    Fountains dance down to the river,
      Rivers to the ocean
    Summer leaflets dance and quiver
      To the breeze's motion
    Nothing in the world is single--
      All things by a simple rule
    Nods and steps and graces mingle
      As at dancing school

    See the shadows on the mountain
      Pirouette with one another
    See the leaf upon the fountain
      Dances with its leaflet brother
    See the moonlight on the earth
      Flecking forest gleam and glance!
    What are all these dancings worth
      If I may not dance?

                          _--After Shelley_

Dance? Why not? The dance is natural, it is innocent, wholesome,
enjoyable. It has the sanction of religion, philosophy, science. It is
approved by the sacred writings of all ages and nations--of Judaism,
Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, of Zoroaster and Confucius. Not an altar,
from Jupiter to Jesus, around which the votaries have not danced with
religious zeal and indubitable profit to mind and body. Fire worshipers
of Persia and Peru danced about the visible sign and manifestation to
their deity. Dervishes dance in frenzy, and the Shakers jump up and come
down hard through excess of the Spirit. All the gods have danced with
all the goddesses--round dances, too. The lively divinities created by
the Greeks in their own image danced divinely, as became them. Old Thor
stormed and thundered down the icy halls of the Scandinavian mythology
to the music of runic rhymes, and the souls of slain heroes in Valhalla
take to their toes in celebration of their valorous deeds done in the
body upon the bodies of their enemies. Angels dance before the Great
White Throne to harps attuned by angel hands, and the Master of the
Revels--who arranges the music of the spheres--looks approvingly on.
Dancing is of divine institution.

The elves and fairies "dance delicate measures" in the light of the moon
and stars. The troll dances his gruesome jig on lonely hills the gnome
executes his little pigeon wing in the obscure subterrene by the glimmer
of a diamond. Nature's untaught children dance in wood and glade,
stimulated of leg by the sunshine with which they are soaken top
full--the same quickening emanation that inspires the growing tree and
upheaves the hill. And, if I err not, there is sound Scripture for the
belief that these self same eminences have capacity to skip for joy. The
peasant dances--a trifle clumsily--at harvest feast when the grain is
garnered. The stars in heaven dance visibly, the firefly dances in
emulation of the stars. The sunshine dances on the waters. The humming
bird and the bee dance about the flowers which dance to the breeze. The
innocent lamb, type of the White Christ, dances on the green, and the
matronly cow perpetrates an occasional stiff enormity when she fancies
herself unobserved. All the sportive rollickings of all the animals,
from the agile fawn to the unwieldly behemoth are dances taught them by

I am not here making an argument for dancing, I only assert its
goodness, confessing its abuse. We do not argue the wholesomeness of
sunshine and cold water, we assert it, admitting that sunstroke is
mischievous and that copious potations of freezing water will founder a
superheated horse, and urge the hot blood to the head of an imprudent
man similarly prepared, killing him, as is right. We do not build
syllogisms to prove that grains and fruits of the earth are of God's
best bounty to man; we allow that bad whisky may--with difficulty--be
distilled from rye to spoil the toper's nose, and that hydrocyanic acid
can be got out of the bloomy peach. It were folly to prove that Science
and Invention are our very good friends, yet the sapper who has had the
misfortune to be blown to rags by the mine he was preparing for his
enemy will not deny that gunpowder has aptitudes of mischief; and from
the point of view of a nigger ordered upon the safety-valve of a racing
steamboat, the vapor of water is a thing accurst. Shall we condemn music
because the lute makes "lascivious pleasing?" Or poetry because some
amorous bard tells in warm rhyme the story of the passions, and
Swinburne has had the goodness to make vice offensive with his hymns in
its praise? Or sculpture because from the guiltless marble may be
wrought a drunken Silenus or a lechering satyr?--painting because the
untamed fancies of a painter sometimes break tether and run riot on his
canvas? Because the orator may provoke the wild passions of the mob,
shall there be no more public speaking?--no further acting because the
actor may be pleased to saw the air, or the actress display her ultimate
inch of leg? Shall we upset the pulpit because poor dear Mr. Tilton had
a prettier wife than poor, dear Mr. Beecher? The bench had its Jeffrey,
yet it is necessary that we have the deliveries of judgment between
ourselves and the litigious. The medical profession has nursed poisoners
enough to have baned all the rats of christendom; but the resolute
patient must still have his prescription--if he die for it. Shall we
disband our armies because in the hand of an ambitious madman a
field-marshal's baton may brain a helpless State?--our navies because in
ships pirates have "sailed the seas over?" Let us not commit the
vulgarity of condemning the dance because of its possibilities of
perversion by the vicious and the profligate. Let us not utter us in hot
bosh and baking nonsense, but cleave to reason and the sweet sense of

Dancing never made a good girl bad, nor turned a wholesome young man to
evil ways. "Opportunity!" simpers the tedious virgin past the
wall-flower of her youth. "Opportunity!" cackles the _blasé_ beau who
has outlasted his legs and gone deaconing in a church.

Opportunity, indeed! There is opportunity in church and school-room, in
social intercourse. There is opportunity in libraries, art-galleries,
picnics, street-cars, Bible-classes and at fairs and matinées.
Opportunity--rare, delicious opportunity, not innocently to be
ignored--in moonlight rambles by still streams. Opportunity, such as it
is, behind the old gentleman's turned back, and beneath the good
mother's spectacled nose. You shall sooner draw out leviathan with a
hook, or bind Arcturus and his sons, than baffle the upthrust of
Opportunity's many heads. Opportunity is a veritable Hydra, Argus and
Briareus rolled into one. He has a hundred heads to plan his poachings,
a hundred eyes to spy the land, a hundred hands to set his snares and
springes. In the country where young girls are habitually unattended in
the street; where the function of chaperon is commonly, and, it should
be added, intelligently performed by some capable young male; where the
young women receive evening calls from young men concerning whose
presence in the parlor mamma in the nursery and papa at the
"office"--poor, overworked papa!--give themselves precious little
trouble,--this prate of ball-room opportunity is singularly and
engagingly idiotic. The worthy people who hold such language may justly
boast themselves superior to reason and impregnable to light. The only
effective reply to these creatures would be a cuffing, the well meant
objections of another class merit the refutation of distinct
characterization. It is the old talk of devotees about sin, of topers
concerning water, temperance men of gin, and albeit it is neither wise
nor witty, it is becoming in us at whom they rail to deal mercifully
with them. In some otherwise estimable souls one of these harmless brain
cracks may be a right lovable trait of character.

Issues of a social import as great as a raid against dancing have been
raised ere now. Will the coming man smoke? Will the coming man drink
wine? These tremendous and imperative problems only recently agitated
some of the "thoughtful minds" in our midst. By degrees they lost their
preeminence, they were seen to be in process of solution without social
cataclysm, they have, in a manner been referred for disposal to the
coming man himself, that is to say, they have been dropped, and are
to-day as dead as Julius Cæsar. The present hour has, in its turn,
produced its own awful problem: Will the coming woman waltz?

As a question of mere fact the answer is patent: She will. Dancing will
be good for her; she will like it; so she is going to waltz. But the
question may rather be put--to borrow phraseology current among her
critics: Had she oughter?--from a moral point of view, now. From a moral
point, then, let us seek from analogy some light on the question of
what, from its actual, practical bearings, may be dignified by the name

Ought a man not to smoke?--from a moral point of view. The economical
view-point, the view-point of convenience, and all the rest of them, are
not now in question; the simple question is: Is it immoral to smoke? And
again--still from the moral point of view: Is it immoral to drink wine?
Is it immoral to play at cards?--to visit theaters? (In Boston you go to

                         harmless "Museum,"
  Where folks who like plays may religiously see 'em.)

Finally, then--and always from the same elevated view-point: Is it
immoral to waltz?

The suggestions here started will not be further pursued in this place.
It is quite pertinent now to note that we do smoke because we like it;
and do drink wine because we like it; and do waltz because we like it,
and have the added consciousness that it is a duty. I am sorry for a
fellow-creature--male--who knows not the comfort of a cigar; sorry and
concerned for him who is innocent of the knowledge of good and evil that
lurk respectively in Chambertin and cheap "claret." Nor is my compassion
altogether free from a sense of superiority to the object of
it--superiority untainted, howbeit, by truculence. I perceive that life
has been bestowed upon him for purposes inscrutable to me, though dimly
hinting its own justification as a warning or awful example. So, too, of
the men and women--"beings erect, and walking upon two [uneducated]
legs"--whose unsophisticated toes have never, inspired by the rosy,
threaded the labyrinth of the mazy ere courting the kindly offices of
the balmy. It is only human to grieve for them, poor things!

But if their throbbing bunions, encased in clumsy high-lows, be obtruded
to trip us in our dance, shall we not stamp on them? Yea, verily, while
we have a heel to crunch with and a leg to grind it home.



You have danced? Ah, good. You have waltzed? Better. You have felt the
hot blood hound through your veins, as your beautiful partner, compliant
to the lightest pressure of your finger-tips, her breath responsive,
matched her every motion with yours? Best of all--for you have served in
the temple--you are of the priesthood of manhood. You cannot
misunderstand, you will not deliver false oracle.

Do you remember your first waltz with the lovely woman whom you had
longed like a man but feared like a boy to touch--even so much as the
hem of her garment? Can you recall the time, place and circumstance? Has
not the very first bar of the music that whirled you away been singing
itself in your memory ever since? Do you recall the face you then looked
into, the eyes that seemed deeper than a mountain tarn, the figure that
you clasped, the beating of the heart, the warm breath that mingled with
your own? Can you faintly, as in a dream--_blasé_ old dancer that you
are--invoke a reminiscence of the delirium that stormed your soul,
expelling the dull demon in possession? Was it lust, as the Prudes
aver--the poor dear Prudes, with the feel of the cold wall familiar to
the leathery backs of them?

It was the gratification--the decent, honorable, legal gratification--of
the passion for rhythm; the unconditional surrender to the supreme law
of periodicity, under conditions of exact observance by all external
things. The notes of the music repeat and supplement each other; the
lights burn with answering flame at sequent distances; the walls, the
windows, doors, mouldings, frescoes, iterate their lines, their levels,
and panels, interminable of combination and similarity; the inlaid floor
matches its angles, multiplies its figures, does over again at this
point what it did at that; the groups of dancers deploy in couples,
aggregate in groups, and again deploy, evoking endless resemblances. And
all this rhythm and recurrence, borne in upon the brain--itself
rhythmic--through intermittent senses, is converted into motion, and the
mind, yielding utterly to its environment, knows the happiness of faith,
the ecstasy of compliance, the rapture of congruity. And this the dull
dunces--the eyeless, earless, brainless and bloodless callosites of
cavil--are pleased to call lust!

    O ye, who teach the ingenuous youth of nations
      The Boston Dip, the German and the Glide,
    I pray you guard them upon all occasions
      From contact of the palpitating side;
    Requiring that their virtuous gyrations
      Shall interpose a space a furlong wide
    Between the partners, lest their thoughts grow lewd--
      So shall we satisfy the exacting Prude.

                                          --_Israfel Brown_.



It is depressing to realize how little most of us know of the dancing of
our ancestors. I would give value to behold the execution of a coranto
and inspect the steps of a cinque-pace, having assurance that the
performances assuming these names were veritably identical with their
memorable originals. We possess the means of verifying somewhat as to
the nature of the minuet; but after what fashion did our revered
grandfather do his rigadoon and his gavot? What manner of thing was that
pirouet in the deft execution of which he felt an honest exultation? And
what were the steps of his contra (or country) and Cossack dances? What
tune was that--"The Devil amongst the Fiddlers"--for which he clamored,
to inspire his feats of leg?

In our fathers' time we read:

  I wore my blue coat and brass buttons, very high in the neck, short
  in the waist and sleeves, nankeen trousers and white silk stockings,
  and a white waistcoat. I performed all the steps accurately and with
  great agility.

Which, it appears, gained the attention of the company. And it well
might, for the year was 1830, and the mode of performing the cotillion
of the period was undergoing the metamorphosis of which the perfect
development has been familiar to ourselves. In its next stage the male
celebrant is represented to us as "hopping about with a face expressive
of intense solemnity, dancing as if a quadrille"--mark the newer
word--"were not a thing to be laughed at, but a severe trial to the
feelings." There is a smack of ancient history about this, too; it lurks
in the word "hopping." In the perfected development of this dance as
known to ourselves, no stress of caricature would describe the movement
as a hopping. But our grandfather not only hopped, he did more. He
sprang from the floor and quivered. In midair he crossed his feet twice
and even three times, before alighting. And our budding grandmother
beheld, and experienced flutterings of the bosom at his manly
achievements. Some memory of these feats survived in the performances of
the male ballet-dancers--a breed now happily extinct. A fine old
lady--she lives, aged eighty-two--showed me once the exercise of
"setting to your partner," performed in her youth; and truly it was
right marvelous. She literally bounced hither and thither, effecting a
twisting in and out of the feet, a patting and a flickering of the toes
incredibly intricate. For the celebration of these rites her partner
would array himself in morocco pumps with cunningly contrived buckles of
silver, silk stockings, salmon-colored silk breeches tied with abundance
of riband, exuberant frills, or "chitterlings," which puffed out at the
neck and bosom not unlike the wattles of a he-turkey; and under his
arms--as the fowl roasted might have carried its gizzard--our
grandfather pressed the flattened simulacrum of a cocked hat. At this
interval of time charity requires us to drop over the lady's own costume
a veil that, tried by our canons of propriety, it sadly needed. She was
young and thoughtless, the good grandmother; she was conscious of the
possession of charms and concealed them not.

To the setting of these costumes, manners and practices, there was
imported from Germany a dance called Waltz, which as I conceive, was the
first of our "round" dances. It was welcomed by most persons who could
dance, and by some superior souls who could not. Among the latter, the
late Lord Byron--whose participation in the dance was barred by an
unhappy physical disability--addressed the new-comer in characteristic
verse. Some of the lines in this ingenious nobleman's apostrophe are not
altogether intelligible, when applied to any dance that we know by the
name of waltz. For example:

  Pleased round the chalky floor, how well they trip,
  One hand[A] reposing on the royal hip,
  The other to the shoulder no less royal
  Ascending with affection truly loyal.

[Footnote A: _I.e._ one of the lady's hands.]

These lines imply an attitude unknown to contemporary waltzers, but the
description involves no poetic license. Our dear grandmothers (giddy,
giddy girls!) did their waltz that way. Let me quote:

  The lady takes the gentleman round the neck with one arm, resting
  against his shoulder. During the motion, the dancers are continually
  changing their relative situations: now the gentleman brings his arm
  about the lady's neck, and the lady takes him round the waist.

At another point, the lady may "lean gently on his shoulder," their arms
(as it appears) "entwining." This description is by an eyewitness, whose
observation is taken, not at the rather debauched court of the Prince
Regent, but at the simple republican assemblies of New York. The
observer is the gentle Irving, writing in 1807. Occasional noteworthy
experiences they must have had--those modest, blooming grandmothers--for,
it is to be borne in mind, tipsiness was rather usual with dancing
gentlemen in the fine old days of Port and Madeira; and the blithe,
white-armed grandmothers themselves did sip their punch, to a man.
However, we may forbear criticism. We, at least, owe nothing but
reverent gratitude to a generation from which we derive life, waltzing
and the memory of Madeira. Even when read, as it needs should be read,
in the light of that prose description of the dance to which it was
addressed, Lord Byron's welcome to the waltz will be recognized as one
more illustration of a set of hoary and moss-grown truths.

    As parlor-soldiers, graced with fancy-scars,
    Rehearse their bravery in imagined wars;
    As paupers, gathered in congenial flocks,
    Babble of banks, insurances, and stocks;
    As each if oft'nest eloquent of what
    He hates or covets, but possesses not;
    As cowards talk of pluck; misers of waste;
    Scoundrels of honor; country clowns of taste;
    Ladies of logic; devotees of sin;
    Topers of water; temperance men of gin--

my lord Byron sang of waltzing. Let us forgive and--remembering his poor
foot--pity him. Yet the opinions of famous persons possess an interest
that is akin, in the minds of many plain folk, to weight. Let us, then,
incline an ear to another: "Laura was fond of waltzing, as every brisk
and innocent young girl should be," wrote he than who none has written
more nobly in our time--he who "could appreciate good women and describe
them; and draw them more truly than any novelist in the language, except
Miss Austen." The same sentiment with reference to dancing appears in
many places in his immortal pages. In his younger days as _attaché_ of
legation in Germany, Mr. Thackeray became a practiced waltzer. As a
censor he thus possesses over Lord Byron whatever advantage may accrue
from knowledge of the subject whereof he wrote.

We are happily not called upon to institute a comparison of character
between the two distinguished moralists, though the same, drawn
masterly, might not be devoid of entertainment and instruction. But two
or three other points of distinction should be kept in mind as having
sensible relation to the question of competency to bear witness. Byron
wrote of the women of a corrupted court; Thackeray of the women of that
society indicated by the phrase "Persons whom one meets"--and meets
_now_. Byron wrote of an obsolete dance, described by Irving in terms of
decided strength; Thackeray wrote of our own waltz. In turning off his
brilliant and witty verses it is unlikely that any care as to their
truthfulness disturbed the glassy copiousness of the Byronic utterance;
this child of nature did never consider too curiously of justice,
moderation and such inventions of the schools. The key-note of all the
other wrote is given by his faithful pen when it avers that it never
"signed the page that registered a lie." Byron was a "gentleman of wit
and pleasure about town"; Thackeray the father of daughters. However,
all this is perhaps little to the purpose. We owe no trifling debt to
Lord Byron for his sparkling and spirited lines, and by no good dancer
would they be "willingly let die." Poetry, music, dancing--they are one
art. The muses are sisters, yet they do not quarrel. Of a truth, even as
was Laura, so every brisk and innocent young girl should be. And it is
safe to predict that she will be. If she would enjoy the advantage of
belonging to Our Set she must be.

As a rule, the ideas of the folk who cherish a prejudice against dancing
are crude rather than unclean--the outcome much more of ignorance than
salacity. Of course there are exceptions. In my great work on The Prude
all will be attended to with due discrimination in apportionment of
censure. At present the spirit of the dance makes merry with my pen, for
from yonder "stately pleasure-dome" (decreed by one Kubla Khan, formerly
of The Big Bonanza Mining Company) the strains of the _Blue Danube_
float out upon the night. Avaunt, miscreants! lest we chase ye with
flying feet and do our little dance upon your unwholesome carcasses.
Already the toes of our partners begin to twiddle beneath their
petticoats. Come, then, Stoopid--can't you move? No!--they change it to
a galop--and eke the good old Sturm. Firm and steady, now, fair partner
mine, whiles we run that _gobemouche_ down and trample him miserably.
There: light and softly again--the servants will remove the remains.

And hark! that witching strain once more:

[Illustration: Music tablature]


If every hypocrite in the United States were to break his leg to-day the
country could be successfully invaded to-morrow by the warlike
hypocrites of Canada.

To Dogmatism the Spirit of Inquiry is the same as the Spirit of Evil,
and to pictures of the latter it appends a tail to represent the note of

"Immoral" is the judgment of the stalled ox on the gamboling lamb.

In forgiving an injury be somewhat ceremonious, lest your magnanimity be
construed as indifference.

       *       *       *       *       *

True, man does not know woman. But neither does woman.

Age is provident because the less future we have the more we fear it.

Reason is fallible and virtue vincible; the winds vary and the needle
forsakes the pole, but stupidity never errs and never intermits. Since
it has been found that the axis of the earth wabbles, stupidity is
indispensable as a standard of constancy.

In order that the list of able women may be memorized for use at
meetings of the oppressed sex, Heaven has considerately made it brief.

Firmness is my persistency; obstinacy is yours.

    A little heap of dust,
    A little streak of rust,
    A stone without a name--
    Lo! hero, sword and fame.

Our vocabulary is defective; we give the same name to woman's lack of
temptation and man's lack of opportunity.

"You scoundrel, you have wronged me," hissed the philosopher. "May you
live forever!"

The man who thinks that a garnet can be made a ruby by setting it in
brass is writing "dialect" for publication.

"Who art thou, stranger, and what dost thou seek?"

"I am Generosity, and I seek a person named Gratitude."

"Then thou dost not deserve to find her."

"True. I will go about my business and think of her no more. But who art
thou, to be so wise?"

"I am Gratitude--farewell forever."

There was never a genius who was not thought a fool until he disclosed
himself; whereas he is a fool then only.

The boundaries that Napoleon drew have been effaced; the kingdoms that
he set up have disappeared. But all the armies and statecraft of Europe
cannot unsay what you have said.

  Strive not for singularity in dress;
  Fools have the more and men of sense the less.
  To look original is not worth while,
  But be in mind a little out of style.

A conqueror arose from the dead. "Yesterday," he said, "I ruled half the
world." "Please show me the half that you ruled," said an angel,
pointing out a wisp of glowing vapor floating in space. "That is the

"Who art thou, shivering in thy furs?"

"My name is Avarice. What is thine?"


"Where is thy clothing, placid one?"

"Thou art wearing it."

To be comic is merely to be playful, but wit is a serious matter. To
laugh at it is to confess that you do not understand.

If you would be accounted great by your contemporaries, be not too much
greater than they.

To have something that he will not desire, nor know that he has--such is
the hope of him who seeks the admiration of posterity. The character of
his work does not matter; he is a humorist.

Women and foxes, being weak, are distinguished by superior tact.

To fatten pigs, confine and feed them; to fatten rogues, cultivate a
generous disposition.

Every heart is the lair of a ferocious animal. The greatest wrong that
you can put upon a man is to provoke him to let out his beast.

When two irreconcilable propositions are presented for assent the safest
way is to thank Heaven that we are not as the unreasoning brutes, and
believe both.

Truth is more deceptive than falsehood, for it is more frequently
presented by those from whom we do not expect it, and so has against it
a numerical presumption.

A bad marriage is like an electrical thrilling machine: it makes you
dance, but you can't let go.

Meeting Merit on a street-crossing, Success stood still. Merit stepped
off into the mud and went round him, bowing his apologies, which Success
had the grace to accept.

  "I think," says the philosopher divine,
  "Therefore I am." Sir, here's a surer sign:
  We know we live, for with our every breath
  We feel the fear and imminence of death.

The first man you meet is a fool. If you do not think so ask him and he
will prove it.

He who would rather inflict injustice than suffer it will always have
his choice, for no injustice can be done to him.

There are as many conceptions of a perfect happiness hereafter as there
are minds that have marred their happiness here.

We yearn to be, not what we are, but what we are not. If we were
immortal we should not crave immortality.

A rabbit's foot may bring good luck to you, but it brought none to the

Before praising the wisdom of the man who knows how to hold his tongue,
ascertain if he knows how to hold his pen.

The most charming view in the world is obtained by introspection.

Love is unlike chess, in that the pieces are moved secretly and the
player sees most of the game. But the looker-on has one incomparable
advantage: he is not the stake.

It is not for nothing that tigers choose to hide in the jungle, for
commerce and trade are carried on, mostly, in the open.

We say that we love, not whom we will, but whom we must. Our judgment
need not, therefore, go to confession.

Of two kinds of temporary insanity, one ends in suicide, the other in

If you give alms from compassion, why require the beneficiary to be "a
deserving object"? No other adversity is so sharp as destitution of

Bereavement is the name that selfishness gives to a particular

  O proud philanthropist, your hope is vain
  To get by giving what you lost by gain.
  With every gift you do but swell the cloud
  Of witnesses against you, swift and loud--
  Accomplices who turn and swear you split
  Your life: half robber and half hypocrite.
  You're least unsafe when most intact you hold
  Your curst allotment of dishonest gold.

The highest and rarest form of contentment is approval of the success of

  If Inclination challenge, stand and fight--
  From Opportunity the wise take flight.

What a woman most admires in a man is distinction among men. What a man
most admires in a woman is devotion to himself.

Those who most loudly invite God's attention to themselves when in peril
of death are those who should most fervently wish to escape his

When you have made a catalogue of your friend's faults it is only fair
to supply him with a duplicate, so that he may know yours.

How fascinating is Antiquity!--in what a golden haze the ancients lived
their lives! We, too, are ancients. Of our enchanting time Posterity's
great poets will sing immortal songs, and its archæologists will
reverently uncover the foundations of our palaces and temples. Meantime
we swap jack-knives.

Observe, my son, with how austere a virtue the man without a cent puts
aside the temptation to manipulate the market or acquire a monopoly.

For study of the good and the bad in woman two women are a needless

  "There's no free will," says the philosopher;
    "To hang is most unjust."
  "There is no free will," assents the officer;
    "We hang because we must."

Hope is an explorer who surveys the country ahead. That is why we know
so much about the Hereafter and so little about the Heretofore.

Remembering that it was a woman who lost the world, we should accept the
act of cackling geese in saving Rome as partial reparation.

There are two classes of women who may do as they please; those who are
rich and those who are poor. The former can count on assent, the latter
on inattention.

When into the house of the heart Curiosity is admitted as the guest of
Love she turns her host out of doors.

Happiness has not to all the same name: to Youth she is known as the
Future; Age knows her as the Dream.

"Who art thou, there in the mire?"

"Intuition. I leaped all the way from where thou standest in fear on the
brink of the bog."

"A great feat, madam; accept the admiration of Reason, sometimes known
as Dry-foot."

In eradicating an evil, it makes a difference whether it is uprooted or
rooted up. The difference is in the reformer.

The Audible Sisterhood rightly affirms the equality of the sexes: no man
is so base but some woman is base enough to love him.

Having no eyes in the back of the head, we see ourselves on the verge of
the outlook. Only he who has accomplished the notable feat of turning
about knows himself the central figure in the universe.

Truth is so good a thing that falsehood can not afford to be without it.

If women did the writing of the world, instead of the talking, men would
be regarded as the superior sex in beauty, grace and goodness.

Love is a delightful day's journey. At the farther end kiss your
companion and say farewell.

Let him who would wish to duplicate his every experience prate of the
value of life.

The game of discontent has its rules, and he who disregards them cheats.
It is not permitted to you to wish to add another's advantages or
possessions to your own; you are permitted only to wish to be another.

The creator and arbiter of beauty is the heart; to the male rattlesnake
the female rattlesnake is the loveliest thing in nature.

Thought and emotion dwell apart. When the heart goes into the head there
is no dissension; only an eviction.

If you want to read a perfect book there is only one way: write it.

"Where goest thou, Ignorance?"

"To fortify the mind of a maiden against a peril."

"I am going thy way. My name is Knowledge."

"Scoundrel! Thou art the peril."

A prude is one who blushes modestly at the indelicacy of her thoughts
and virtuously flies from the temptation of her desires.

The man who is always taking you by the hand is the same who if you were
hungry would take you by the café.

When a certain sovereign wanted war he threw out a diplomatic
intimation; when ready, a diplomat.

If public opinion were determined by a throw of the dice, it would in
the long run be half the time right.

The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the
business known as gambling.

A virtuous widow is the most loyal of mortals; she is faithful to that
which is neither pleased nor profited by her fidelity.

Of one who was "foolish" the creators of our language said that he was
"fond." That we have not definitely reversed the meanings of the words
should be set down to the credit of our courtesy.

Rioting gains its end by the power of numbers. To a believer in the
wisdom and goodness of majorities it is not permitted to denounce a
successful mob.

  Artistically set to grace
  The wall of a dissecting-place,
  A human pericardium
  Was fastened with a bit of gum,
  While, simply underrunning it,
  The one word, "Charity," was writ
  To show the student band that hovered
  About it what it once had covered.

Virtue is not necessary to a good reputation, but a good reputation is
helpful to virtue.

When lost in a forest go always down hill. When lost in a philosophy or
doctrine go upward.

We submit to the majority because we have to. But we are not compelled
to call our attitude of subjection a posture of respect.

Pascal says that an inch added to the length of Cleopatra's nose would
have changed the fortunes of the world. But having said this, he has
said nothing, for all the forces of nature and all the power of
dynasties could not have added an inch to the length of Cleopatra's

Our luxuries are always masquerading as necessaries. Woman is the only
necessary having the boldness and address to compel recognition as a

"I am the seat of the affections," said the heart.

"Thank you," said the judgment, "you save my face."

"Who art thou that weepest?"


"Nay, thou art Egotism. I am the Scheme of the Universe. Study me and
learn that nothing matters."

"Then how does it matter that I weep?"

A slight is less easily forgiven than an injury, because it implies
something of contempt, indifference, an overlooking of our importance;
whereas an injury presupposes some degree of consideration. "The
black-guards!" said a traveler whom Sicilian brigands had released
without ransom; "did they think me a person of no consequence?"

The people's plaudits are unheard in hell.

Generosity to a fallen foe is a virtue that takes no chances.

If there was a world before this we must all have died impenitent.

We are what we laugh at. The stupid person is a poor joke, the clever, a
good one.

If every man who resents being called a rogue resented being one this
would be a world of wrath.

Force and charm are important elements of character, but it counts for
little to be stronger than honey and sweeter than a lion.

  Grief and discomfiture are coals that cool:
  Why keep them glowing with thy sighs, poor fool?

A popular author is one who writes what the people think. Genius invites
them to think something else.

Asked to describe the Deity, a donkey would represent him with long ears
and a tail. Man's conception is higher and truer: he thinks of him as
somewhat resembling a man.

Christians and camels receive their burdens kneeling.

The sky is a concave mirror in which Man sees his own distorted image
and seeks to propitiate it.

Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long in the land,
but do not hope that the life insurance companies will offer thee
special rates.

Persons who are horrified by what they believe to be Darwin's theory of
the descent of Man from the Ape may find comfort in the hope of his

A strong mind is more easily impressed than a weak: you shall not so
readily convince a fool that you are a philosopher as a philosopher that
you are a fool.

A cheap and easy cynicism rails at everything. The master of the art
accomplishes the formidable task of discrimination.

When publicly censured our first instinct is to make everybody a

    O lady fine, fear not to lead
      To Hymen's shrine a clown:
    Love cannot level up, indeed,
      But he can level down.

Men are polygamous by nature and monogamous for opportunity. It is a
faithful man who is willing to be watched by a half-dozen wives.

The virtues chose Modesty to be their queen.

"I did not know that I was a virtue," she said. "Why did you not choose

"Because of her ignorance," they replied. "She knows nothing but that
she is a virtue."

It is a wise "man's man" who knows what it is that he despises in a
"ladies' man."

If the vices of women worshiped their creators men would boast of the
adoration they inspire.

The only distinction that democracies reward is a high degree of

Slang is the speech of him who robs the literary garbage carts on their
way to the dumps.

A woman died who had passed her life in affirming the superiority of her

"At last," she said, "I shall have rest and honors."

"Enter," said Saint Peter; "thou shalt wash the faces of the dear little

To woman a general truth has neither value nor interest unless she can
make a particular application of it. And we say that women are not

The ignorant know not the depth of their ignorance, but the learned know
the shallowness of their learning.

He who relates his success in charming woman's heart may be assured of
his failure to charm man's ear.

  What poignant memories the shadows bring;
  What songs of triumph in the dawning ring!
  By night a coward and by day a king.

When among the graves of thy fellows, walk with circumspection; thine
own is open at thy feet.

As the physiognomist takes his own face as the highest type and
standard, so the critic's theories are imposed by his own limitations.

"Heaven lies about us in our infancy," and our neighbors take up the
tale as we mature.

  "My laws," she said, "are of myself a part:
  I read them by examining my heart."
  "True," he replied; "like those to Moses known,
  Thine also are engraven upon stone."

Love is a distracted attention: from contemplation of one's self one
turns to consider one's dream.

"Halt!--who goes there?"


"Advance, Death, and give the countersign."

"How needless! I care not to enter thy camp to-night. Thou shalt enter

"What! I a deserter?"

"Nay, a great soldier. Thou shalt overcome all the enemies of mankind."

"Who are they?"

"Life and the Fear of Death."

The palmist looks at the wrinkles made by closing the hand and says they
signify character. The philosopher reads character by what the hand most
loves to close upon.

  Ah, woe is his, with length of living cursed,
  Who, nearing second childhood, had no first.
  Behind, no glimmer, and before no ray--
  A night at either end of his dark day.

A noble enthusiasm in praise of Woman is not incompatible with a
spirited zeal in defamation of women.

The money-getter who pleads his love of work has a lame defense, for
love of work at money-getting is a lower taste than love of money.

He who thinks that praise of mediocrity atones for disparagement of
genius is like one who should plead robbery in excuse of theft.

The most disagreeable form of masculine hypocrisy is that which finds
expression in pretended remorse for impossible gallantries.

Any one can say that which is new; any one that which is true. For that
which is both new and true we must go duly accredited to the gods and
await their pleasure.

The test of truth is Reason, not Faith; for to the court of Reason must
be submitted even the claims of Faith.

"Whither goest thou?" said the angel.

"I know not."

"And whence hast thou come?"

"I know not."

"But who art thou?"

"I know not."

"Then thou art Man. See that thou turn not back, but pass on to the
place whence thou hast come."

If Expediency and Righteousness are not father and son they are the most
harmonious brothers that ever were seen.

Train the head, and the heart will take care of itself; a rascal is one
who knows not how to think.

  Do you to others as you would
    That others do to you;
  But see that you no service good
  Would have from others that they could
    Not rightly do.

Taunts are allowable in the case of an obstinate husband: balky horses
may best be made to go by having their ears bitten.

Adam probably regarded Eve as the woman of his choice, and exacted a
certain gratitude for the distinction of his preference.

A man is the sum of his ancestors; to reform him you must begin with a
dead ape and work downward through a million graves. He is like the
lower end of a suspended chain; you can sway him slightly to the right
or the left, but remove your hand and he falls into line with the other

He who thinks with difficulty believes with alacrity. A fool is a
natural proselyte, but he must be caught young, for his convictions,
unlike those of the wise, harden with age.

These are the prerogatives of genius: To know without having learned; to
draw just conclusions from unknown premises; to discern the soul of

Although one love a dozen times, yet will the latest love seem the
first. He who says he has loved twice has not loved once.

Men who expect universal peace through invention of destructive weapons
of war are no wiser than one who, noting the improvement of agricultural
implements, should prophesy an end to the tilling of the soil.

To parents only, death brings an inconsolable sorrow. When the young die
and the old live, nature's machinery is working with the friction that
we name grief.

Empty wine-bottles have a bad opinion of women.

Civilization is the child of human ignorance and conceit. If Man knew
his insignificance in the scheme of things he would not think it worth
while to rise from barbarity to enlightenment. But it is only through
enlightenment that he can know.

Along the road of life are many pleasure resorts, but think not that by
tarrying in them you will take more days to the journey. The day of your
arrival is already recorded.

The most offensive egotist is he that fears to say "I" and "me." "It
will probably rain"--that is dogmatic. "I think it will rain"--that is
natural and modest. Montaigne is the most delightful of essayists
because so great is his humility that he does not think it important
that we see not Montaigne. He so forgets himself that he employs no
artifice to make us forget him.

  On fair foundations Theocrats unwise
  Rear superstructures that offend the skies.
  "Behold," they cry, "this pile so fair and tall!
  Come dwell within it and be happy all."
  But they alone inhabit it, and find,
  Poor fools, 'tis but a prison for the mind.

If thou wilt not laugh at a rich man's wit thou art an anarchist, and if
thou take not his word thou shalt take nothing that he hath. Make haste,
therefore, to be civil to thy betters, and so prosper, for prosperity is
the foundation of the state.

Death is not the end; there remains the litigation over the estate.

When God makes a beautiful woman, the devil opens a new register.

When Eve first saw her reflection in a pool, she sought Adam and accused
him of infidelity.

"Why dost thou weep?"

"For the death of my wife. Alas! I shall
never again see her!"

"Thy wife will never again see thee, yet
she does not weep."

What theology is to religion and jurisprudence to justice, etiquette is
to civility.

"Who art thou that despite the piercing cold and thy robe's raggedness
seemest to enjoy thyself?"

"Naught else is enjoyable--I am Contentment."

"Ha! thine must be a magic shirt. Off with it! I shiver in my fine

"I have no shirt. Pass on, Success."

Ignorance when inevitable is excusable. It may be harmless, even
beneficial; but it is charming only to the unwise. To affect a spurious
ignorance is to disclose a genuine.

Because you will not take by theft what you can have by cheating, think
not yours is the only conscience in the world. Even he who permits you
to cheat his neighbor will shrink from permitting you to cheat himself.

"God keep thee, stranger; what is thy name?"

"Wisdom. And thine?"

"Knowledge. How does it happen that we meet?"

"This is an intersection of our paths."

"Will it ever be decreed that we travel always the same road?"

"We were well named if we knew."

Nothing is more logical than persecution. Religious tolerance is a kind
of infidelity.

Convictions are variable; to be always consistent is to be sometimes

The philosopher's profoundest conviction is that which he is most
reluctant to express, lest he mislead.

When exchange of identities is possible, be careful; you may choose a
person who is willing.

The most intolerant advocate is he who is trying to convince himself.

In the Parliament of Otumwee the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed a
tax on fools.

"The right honorable and generous gentleman," said a member, "forgets
that we already have it in the poll tax."

"Whose dead body is that?"


"By whom was he slain?"


"Ah, suicide."

"No, surfeit. He dined at the table of Science, and swallowed all that
was set before him."

Don't board with the devil if you wish to be fat.

Pray do not despise your delinquent debtor; his default is no proof of

Courage is the acceptance of the gambler's chance: a brave man bets
against the game of the gods.

"Who art thou?"

"A philanthropist. And thou?"

"A pauper."

"Away! you have nothing to relieve my need."

Youth looks forward, for nothing is behind; Age backward, for nothing is

  Think not, O man, the world has any need
  That thou canst truly serve by word or deed.
  Serve thou thy better self, nor care to know
  How God makes righteousness and roses grow.

In spiritual matters material aids are not to be despised: by the use of
an organ and a painted window an artistic emotion can be made to seem a
religious ecstasy.

The poor man's price of admittance to the favor of the rich is his
self-respect. It assures him a seat in the gallery.

One may know oneself ugly, but there is no mirror for the understanding.

If the righteous thought death what they think they think it they would
search less diligently for divine ordinances against suicide.

  Weep not for cruelty to rogues in jail:
  Injustice can the just alone assail.
  Deny compassion to the wretch who swerved,
  Till all who, fainting, walked aright are served.

The artless woman may be known by her costume: her gown is trimmed with
feathers of the white blackbird.

All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusion is called a

Slang is a foul pool at which every dunce fills his bucket, and then
sets up as a fountain.

The present is the frontier between the desert of the past and the
garden of the future. It is redrawn every moment.

The virtue that is not automatic requires more attention than it is

At sunset our shadows reach the stars, yet we are no greater at death
than at the noon of life.

Experience is a revelation in the light of which we renounce the errors
of youth for those of age.

From childhood to youth is eternity; from youth to manhood, a season.
Age comes in a night and is incredible.

Avoid the disputatious. When you greet an acquaintance with "How are
you?" and he replies: "On the contrary, how are _you_?" pass on.

If all thought were audible none would be deemed discreditable. We know,
indeed, that bad thoughts are universal, but that is not the same thing
as catching them at being so.

"All the souls in this place have been happy ever since you blundered
into it," said Satan, ejecting Hope. "You make trouble wherever you go."

Our severest retorts are unanswerable because nobody is present to
answer them.

The angels have good dreams and bad, and we are the dreams. When an
angel wakes one of us dies.

  The man of "honor" pays his bet
  By saving on his lawful debt.
  When he to Nature pays his dust
  (Not for he would, but for he must)
  Men say, "He settled that, 'tis true,
  But, faith, it long was overdue."

Do not permit a woman to ask forgiveness, for that is only the first
step. The second is justification of herself by accusation of you.

If we knew nothing was behind us we should discern our true relation to
the universe.

Youth has the sun and the stars by which to determine his position on
the sea of life; Age must sail by dead reckoning and knows not whither
he is bound.

Happiness is lost by criticising it; sorrow by accepting it.

As Nature can not make us altogether wretched she resorts to the trick
of contrast by making us sometimes almost happy.

When prosperous the fool trembles for the evil that is to come; in
adversity the philosopher smiles for the good that he has had.

When God saw how faulty was man He tried again and made woman. As to why
He then stopped there are two opinions. One of them is woman's.

She hated him because he discovered that her lark was a crow. He hated
her because she unlocked the cage of his beast.

"Who art thou?"


"I am Love; let us travel together."

"Yes--for a day's journey; then thou arrivest at thy grave."

"And thou?"

"I go as far as the grave of Advantage."

Look far enough ahead and always thou shalt see the domes and spires of
the City of Contentment.

You would say of that old man: "He is bald and bent." No; in the
presence of Death he uncovers and bows.

If you saw Love pictured as clad in furs you would smile. Yet every year
has its winter.

You can not disprove the Great Pyramid by showing the impossibility of
putting the stones in place.

Men were singing the praises of Justice.

"Not so loud," said an angel; "if you wake her she will put you all to

Age, with his eyes in the back of his head, thinks it wisdom to see the
bogs through which he has floundered.

Wisdom is known only by contrasting it with folly; by shadow only we
perceive that all visible objects are not flat. Yet Philanthropos would
abolish evil!

One whose falsehoods no longer deceive has forfeited the right to speak

Wisdom is a special knowledge in excess of all that is known.

To live is to believe. The most credulous of mortals is he who is
persuaded of his incredulity.

In him who has never wronged another, revenge is a virtue.

That you can not serve God and Mammon is a poor excuse for not serving

A fool's tongue is not so noisy but the wise can hear his ear commanding
them to silence.

If the Valley of Peace could be reached only by the path of love, it
would be sparsely inhabited.

To the eye of failure success is an accident with a presumption of

Wearing his eyes in his heart, the optimist falls over his own feet, and
calls it Progress.

You can calculate your distance from Hell by the number of wayside
roses. They are thickest at the hither end of the route.

The world was made a sphere in order that men should not push one
another off, but the landowner smiles when he thinks of the sea.

  Let not the night on thy resentment fall:
  Strike when the wrong is fresh, or not at all.
  The lion ceases if his first leap fail--
  'Tis only dogs that nose a cooling trail.

Having given out all the virtues that He had made, God made another.

"Give us that also," said His children.

"Nay," He replied, "if I give you that you will slay one another till
none is left. You shall have only its name, which is Justice."

"That is a good name," they said; "we will give it to a virtue of our
own creation."

So they gave it to Revenge.

  The sea-bird speeding from the realm of night
  Dashes to death against the beacon-light.
  Learn from its evil fate, ambitious soul,
  The ministry of light is guide, not goal.

While you have a future do not live too much in contemplation of your
past: unless you are content to walk backward the mirror is a poor

"O dreadful Death, why veilest thou thy face?"

"To spare me thine impetuous embrace."

He who knows himself great accepts the truth in reverent silence, but he
who only believes himself great has embraced a noisy faith.

Life is a little plot of light. We enter, clasp a hand or two, and go
our several ways back into the darkness. The mystery is infinitely
pathetic and picturesque.

Cheerfulness is the religion of the little. The low hills are a-smirk
with flowers and greenery; the dominating peaks, austere and desolate,
holding a prophecy of doom.

It is not to our credit that women like best the men who are not as
other men, nor to theirs that they are not particular as to the nature
of the difference.

In the journey of life when thy shadow falls to the westward stop until
it falls to the eastward. Thou art then at thy destination.

  Seek not for happiness--'tis known
  To hope and memory alone;
  At dawn--how bright the noon will be!
  At eve--how fair it glowed, ah, me!

Brain was given to test the heart's credibility as a witness, yet the
philosopher's lady is almost as fine as the clown's wench.

"Who art thou, so sorrowful?"

"Ingratitude. It saddens me to look upon the devastations of

"Then veil thine eyes, for I am Benevolence."

"Wretch! thou art my father and my mother."

Death is the only prosperity that we neither desire for ourselves nor
resent in others.

To the small part of ignorance that we can arrange and classify we give
the name Knowledge.

"I wish to enter," said the soul of the voluptuary.

"I am told that all the beautiful women are here."

"Enter," said Satan, and the soul of the voluptuary passed in.

"They make the place what it is," added Satan, as the gates clanged.

Woman would be more charming if one could fall into her arms without
falling into her hands.

Think not to atone for wealth by apology: you must make restitution to
the accuser.

Study good women and ignore the rest,
or he best knows the sex who knows the best.

Before undergoing a surgical operation arrange your temporal affairs.
You may live.

Intolerance is natural and logical, for in every dissenting opinion lies
an assumption of superior wisdom.

"Who art thou?" said Saint Peter at the Gate.

"I am known as Memory."

"What presumption!--go back to Hell. And who, perspiring friend, art

"_My_ name is Satan. I am looking for----"

"Take your penal apparatus and be off."

And Satan, laying hold of Memory, said: "Come along, you scoundrel! you
make happiness wherever you are not."

Women of genius commonly have masculine faces, figures and manners. In
transplanting brains to an alien soil God leaves a little of the
original earth clinging to the roots.

The heels of Detection are sore from the toes of Remorse.

Twice we see Paradise. In youth we name it Life; in age, Youth.

  There are but ten Commandments, true,
  But that's no hardship, friend, to you;
  The sins whereof no line is writ
  You're not commanded to commit.

Fear of the darkness is more than an inherited superstition--it is at
night, mostly, that the king thinks.

"Who art thou?" said Mercy.

"Revenge, the father of Justice."

"Thou wearest thy son's clothing."

"One must be clad."

"Farewell--I go to attend thy son."

"Thou wilt find him hiding in yonder jungle."

Self-denial is indulgence of a propensity to forego.

Men talk of selecting a wife; horses, of selecting an owner.

You are not permitted to kill a woman who has wronged you, but nothing
forbids you to reflect that she is growing older every minute. You are
avenged fourteen hundred and forty times a day.

A sweetheart is a bottle of wine; a wife is a wine-bottle.

He gets on best with women who best knows how to get on without them.

"Who am I?" asked an awakened soul.

"That is the only knowledge that is denied to you here," answered a
smiling angel; "this is Heaven."

Woman's courage is ignorance of danger; man's is hope of escape.

  When God had finished this terrestrial frame
  And all things else, with or without a name,
  The Nothing that remained within His hand
  Said: "Make me into something fine and grand,
  Thine angels to amuse and entertain."
  God heard and made it into human brain.

If you wish to slay your enemy make haste, O make haste, for already
Nature's knife is at his throat and yours.

To most persons a sense of obligation is insupportable; beware upon whom
you inflict it.

    Bear me, good oceans, to some isle
      Where I may never fear
    The snake alurk in woman's smile,
      The tiger in her tear.
    Yet bear not with me her, O deeps,
    Who never smiles and never weeps.

Life and Death threw dice for a child.

"I win!" cried Life.

"True," said Death, "but you need a nimbler tongue to proclaim your
luck. The stake is already dead of age."

  How blind is he who, powerless to discern
  The glories that about his pathway burn,
  Walks unaware the avenues of Dream,
  Nor sees the domes of Paradise agleam!
  O Golden Age, to him more nobly planned
  Thy light lies ever upon sea and land.
  From sordid scenes he lifts his eyes at will,
  And sees a Grecian god on every hill!

In childhood we expect, in youth demand, in manhood hope, and in age

  A violet softly sighed,
    A hollyhock shouted above.
  In the heart of the violet, pride;
    In the heart of the hollyhock, love.

If women knew themselves the fact that men do not know them would
flatter them less and content them more.

The angel with a flaming sword slept at his post, and Eve slipped back
into the Garden. "Thank Heaven! I am again in Paradise," said Adam.

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