Editorial wild oats, p.1
Editorial Wild Oats, p.1Mark Twain
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Editorial Wild Oats
NEW YORK AND LONDONHARPER & BROTHERSPUBLISHERS--MCMV
Copyright, 1875, 1899, 1903, by SAMUEL L. CLEMENS.
Copyright, 1879, 1899, by SAMUEL L. CLEMENS.
Copyright, 1905, by HARPER & BROTHERS.
_All rights reserved._
Published September, 1905.
See p. 57
"I FANCIED HE WAS DISPLEASED"]
PAGEMY FIRST LITERARY VENTURE 3
JOURNALISM IN TENNESSEE 11
NICODEMUS DODGE--PRINTER 30
MR. BLOKE'S ITEM 41
HOW I EDITED AN AGRICULTURALPAPER 52
THE KILLING OF JULIUS CAESAR "LOCALIZED" 70
"I FANCIED HE WAS DISPLEASED" _Frontispiece_
"HE HAD CONCLUDED HEWOULDN'T" _Facing p._ 4
"GILLESPIE HAD CALLED" " 24
"WHEEZING THE MUSIC OF 'CAMPTOWNRACES'" " 38
"I HAVE READ THIS ABSURD ITEMOVER" " 50
"A LONG CADAVEROUS CREATURE" " 58
"THERE WAS NOTHING IN THEPOCKETS" " 82
+----------------------------------------------------------------------+|Transcriber's Note: The dialect in this book is transcribed exactly as||in the original. |+----------------------------------------------------------------------+
Editorial Wild Oats
My First Literary Venture
I was a very smart child at the age of thirteen--an unusuallysmart child, I thought at the time. It was then that I did my firstnewspaper scribbling, and most unexpectedly to me it stirred up afine sensation in the community. It did, indeed, and I was veryproud of it, too. I was a printer's "devil," and a progressive andaspiring one. My uncle had me on his paper (the _Weekly HannibalJournal_, two dollars a year, in advance--five hundred subscribers,and they paid in cord-wood, cabbages, and unmarketable turnips),and on a lucky summer's day he left town to be gone a week, andasked me if I thought I could edit one issue of the paperjudiciously. Ah! didn't I want to try! Higgins was the editor onthe rival paper. He had lately been jilted, and one night a friendfound an open note on the poor fellow's bed, in which he statedthat he could no longer endure life and had drowned himself in BearCreek. The friend ran down there and discovered Higgins wading backto shore. He had concluded he wouldn't. The village was full of itfor several days, but Higgins did not suspect it. I thought thiswas a fine opportunity. I wrote an elaborately wretched account ofthe whole matter, and then illustrated it with villanous cutsengraved on the bottoms of wooden type with a jack-knife--one ofthem a picture of Higgins wading out into the creek in his shirt,with a lantern, sounding the depth of the water with a walking-stick.I thought it was desperately funny, and was densely unconscious thatthere was any moral obliquity about such a publication. Beingsatisfied with this effort, I looked around for other worlds toconquer, and it struck me that it would make good, interesting matterto charge the editor of a neighboring country paper with a piece ofgratuitous rascality and "see him squirm."
"HE HAD CONCLUDED HE WOULDN'T"]
I did it, putting the article into the form of a parody on the"Burial of Sir John Moore"--and a pretty crude parody it was, too.
Then I lampooned two prominent citizens outrageously--not becausethey had done anything to deserve it, but merely because I thoughtit was my duty to make the paper lively.
Next I gently touched up the newest stranger--the lion of the day,the gorgeous journeyman tailor from Quincy. He was a simperingcoxcomb of the first water, and the "loudest" dressed man in theState. He was an inveterate woman-killer. Every week he wrote lushy"poetry" for the _Journal_, about his newest conquest. His rhymesfor my week were headed, "TO MARY IN H--L," meaning to Mary inHannibal, of course. But while setting up the piece I was suddenlyriven from head to heel by what I regarded as a perfect thunderboltof humor, and I compressed it into a snappy footnote at thebottom--thus:
"We will let this thing pass, just this once; but we wish Mr. J. Gordon Runnels to understand distinctly that we have a character to sustain, and from this time forth when he wants to commune with his friends in h--l, he must select some other medium than the columns of this journal!"
The paper came out, and I never knew any little thing attract somuch attention as those playful trifles of mine.
For once the _Hannibal Journal_ was in demand--a novelty it hadnot experienced before. The whole town was stirred. Higgins droppedin with a double-barrelled shot-gun early in the forenoon. When hefound that it was an infant (as he called me) that had done him thedamage, he simply pulled my ears and went away; but he threw up hissituation that night and left town for good. The tailor came withhis goose and a pair of shears; but he despised me, too, anddeparted for the South that night. The two lampooned citizens camewith threats of libel, and went away incensed at my insignificance.The country editor pranced in with a warwhoop next day, sufferingfor blood to drink; but he ended by forgiving me cordially andinviting me down to the drug-store to wash away all animosity in afriendly bumper of "Fahnestock's Vermifuge." It was his littlejoke. My uncle was very angry when he got back--unreasonably so, Ithought, considering what an impetus I had given the paper, andconsidering also that gratitude for his preservation ought to havebeen uppermost in his mind, inasmuch as by his delay he had sowonderfully escaped dissection, tomahawking, libel, and getting hishead shot off. But he softened when he looked at the accounts andsaw that I had actually booked the unparalleled number ofthirty-three new subscribers, and had the vegetables to show forit--cord-wood, cabbage, beans, and unsalable turnips enough to runthe family for two years!
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