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Editorial wild oats, p.4
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       Editorial Wild Oats, p.4

           Mark Twain
 
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  Mr. Bloke's Item

  Our esteemed friend, Mr. John William Bloke, of Virginia City,walked into the office where we are sub-editor at a late hour lastnight, with an expression of profound and heartfelt suffering uponhis countenance, and, sighing heavily, laid the following itemreverently upon the desk, and walked slowly out again. He paused amoment at the door, and seemed struggling to command his feelingssufficiently to enable him to speak, and then, nodding his headtowards his manuscript, ejaculated in a broken voice, "Friend ofmine--oh! how sad!" and burst into tears. We were so moved at hisdistress that we did not think to call him back and endeavor tocomfort him until he was gone, and it was too late. The paper hadalready gone to press, but knowing that our friend would considerthe publication of this item important, and cherishing the hopethat to print it would afford a melancholy satisfaction to hissorrowing heart, we stopped the press at once and inserted it inour columns:

  DISTRESSING ACCIDENT.--Last evening, about six o'clock, as Mr. William Schuyler, an old and respectable citizen of South Park, was leaving his residence to go down-town, as has been his usual custom for many years with the exception only of a short interval in the spring of 1850, during which he was confined to his bed by injuries received in attempting to stop a runaway horse by thoughtlessly placing himself directly in its wake and throwing up his hands and shouting, which, if he had done so even a single moment sooner, must inevitably have frightened the animal still more instead of checking its speed, although disastrous enough to himself as it was, and rendered more melancholy and distressing by reason of the presence of his wife's mother, who was there and saw the sad occurrence, notwithstanding it is at least likely, though not necessarily so, that she should be reconnoitring in another direction when incidents occur, not being vivacious and on the lookout, as a general thing, but even the reverse, as her own mother is said to have stated, who is no more, but died in the full hope of a glorious resurrection, upward of three years ago, aged eighty-six, being a Christian woman and without guile, as it were, or property, in consequence of the fire of 1849, which destroyed every single thing she had in the world. But such is life. Let us all take warning by this solemn occurrence, and let us endeavor so to conduct ourselves that when we come to die we can do it. Let us place our hands upon our heart, and say with earnestness and sincerity that from this day forth we will beware of the intoxicating bowl.--_First edition of the Californian._

  The head editor has been in here raising the mischief, and tearinghis hair and kicking the furniture about, and abusing me like apickpocket. He says that every time he leaves me in charge of thepaper for half an hour, I get imposed upon by the first infant orthe first idiot that comes along. And he says that that distressingitem of Mr. Bloke's is nothing but a lot of distressing bosh, andhas no point to it, and no sense in it, and no information in it,and that there was no sort of necessity for stopping the press topublish it.

  Now all this comes of being good-hearted. If I had been asunaccommodating and unsympathetic as some people, I would have toldMr. Bloke that I wouldn't receive his communication at such a latehour; but no, his snuffling distress touched my heart, and I jumpedat the chance of doing something to modify his misery. I never readhis item to see whether there was anything wrong about it, buthastily wrote the few lines which preceded it, and sent it to theprinters. And what has my kindness done for me? It has done nothingbut bring down upon me a storm of abuse and ornamental blasphemy.

  Now I will read that item myself, and see if there is anyfoundation for all this fuss. And if there is, the author of itshall hear from me.

  * * * * *

  I have read it, and I am bound to admit that it seems a littlemixed at a first glance. However, I will peruse it once more.

  * * * * *

  I have read it again, and it does really seem a good deal moremixed than ever.

  * * * * *

  I have read it over five times, but if I can get at the meaning ofit, I wish I may get my just deserts. It won't bear analysis. Thereare things about it which I cannot understand at all. It don't saywhat ever became of William Schuyler. It just says enough about himto get one interested in his career, and then drops him. Who isWilliam Schuyler, anyhow, and what part of South Park did he live in,and if he started down-town at six o'clock, did he ever get there,and if he did, did anything happen to him? Is _he_ the individualthat met with the "distressing accident"? Considering the elaboratecircumstantiality of detail observable in the item, it seems to methat it ought to contain more information than it does. On thecontrary, it is obscure--and not only obscure, but utterlyincomprehensible. Was the breaking of Mr. Schuyler's leg, fifteenyears ago, the "distressing accident" that plunged Mr. Bloke intounspeakable grief, and caused him to come up here at dead of nightand stop our press to acquaint the world with the circumstance? Ordid the "distressing accident" consist in the destruction ofSchuyler's mother-in-law's property in early times? Or did it consistin the death of that person herself three years ago (albeit it doesnot appear that she died by accident)? In a word, what _did_ that"distressing accident" consist in? What did that drivelling ass of aSchuyler stand _in the wake_ of a runaway horse for, with hisshouting and gesticulating, if he wanted to stop him? And how themischief could he get run over by a horse that had already passedbeyond him? And what are we to take "warning" by? And how is thisextraordinary chapter of incomprehensibilities going to be a "lesson"to us? And, above all, what has the intoxicating "bowl" got to dowith it, anyhow? It is not stated that Schuyler drank, or that hiswife drank, or that his mother-in-law drank, or that the horsedrank--wherefore, then, the reference to the intoxicating bowl? Itdoes seem to me that if Mr. Bloke had let the intoxicating bowl alonehimself, he never would have got into so much trouble about thisexasperating imaginary accident. I have read this absurd item overand over again, with all its insinuating plausibility, until my headswims, but I can make neither head nor tail of it. There certainlyseems to have been an accident of some kind or other, but it isimpossible to determine what the nature of it was, or who was thesufferer by it. I do not like to do it, but I feel compelled torequest that the next time anything happens to one of Mr. Bloke'sfriends, he will append such explanatory notes to his account of itas will enable me to find out what sort of an accident it was and whomit happened to. I had rather all his friends should die than that Ishould be driven to the verge of lunacy again in trying to cipher outthe meaning of another such production as the above.

  "I HAVE READ THIS ABSURD ITEM OVER"]

 
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