LETTER FROM MARK TWAIN
January 10, 1864
EDITORS ENTERPRISE: Well, how are you and the News and the Bulletin making out for the Constitution in Storey?
I suppose it will be voted down here. I said so to a Virginia man yesterday. "Well," says he, "that reminds me of a circumstance. A good old practical Dutchman once contributed liberally toward the building of a church. By and by they wanted a lightning rod for it, and they came to the Dutchman again. ' Not a dam cent,' says he, 'not a dam cent! I helps to puild a house for te Lord, und if he joose to dunder on it and knock it down, he must do it at his own risk!' Now in the Constitution, we have placed the Capital here for several years; Carson has always fared well at our hands in the legislature, and finally, we have tacitly consented to say nothing more about the Mint being built in this inconvenient locality. This is the house that has been built for Carson - and now if she chooses to go and dunder on it and knock it down, by the Lord she'll have to take the consequences! The fact is all our bullion is silver, and we don't want the country flooded with silver coin; therefore, we can save the Government a heavy expense, and do the Territory a real kindness, by showing the authorities that we don't need a mint, and don't want one. And as to that Capital, we'll move it up to Storey, where it belongs."
So spake the Virginian. I listened as one having no taxable property and never likely to have; as one being out of office and willing to stay out; as one having no tangible right to take an interest in the Constitution, and consequently not caring a straw whether it carried or not. The man spoke words of wisdom, though. I am aware that the capital could have been removed last session, and from the complexion of the new Territorial Assembly, I suppose it can be done this year. Notwithstanding these things though, and notwithstanding I am a free white male citizen of Storey county, I conjecture that I have a right to my private opinion that Carson is the proper place for the seat of Government and it ought to remain here so long as I don't try to make capital out of that opinion. Nobody has a right to arrest me for being disorderly on such ground as that.
Dan, will you send my baggage down here, or have I got to go on borrowing clothes from Pete Hopkins through all eternity?
Young Gillespie is down here in my employ. On a small salary. I have got him figuring with the Legislators for extra compensation for the reporters.
The Territorial Legislature will meet here next Tuesday at noon. The rooms used last year in the county buildings, have been let by the County Commissioners for the use of the two Houses, at $500 for the session of forty days, payable in greenbacks. The halls are now being fitted up, and will be ready at the proper time.
All Carson went out to warm Theodore Winters' new house, in Washoe Valley, on Friday evening, and had a pleasant time of it. The house and its furniture together, cost $50,000.
WARREN ENGINE COMPANY
The Warren boys brought out their superb machine for practice yesterday. She threw a heavy stream entirely over the tall flag-staff in the Plaza.
Religious matters are booming along in Carson. Mrs. Wiley, who is an unusually talented vocalist, has been requested to give a concert for the benefit of my old regular chronic brick church, and will probably do so shortly.
THE SQUAIRES TRIAL
A jury has finally been empaneled in this murder case, or man slaughter case, or justifiable homicide, or whatever it is, and the trial set for to-morrow.
Concerning the Marsh troupe, R. G. Marsh sends the following note to Major Dallam, of the Independent: " - Please insert enclosed corrected advertisement, and make such flourish and announcement as your local feeling will admit of, consistent with a kleer konshuns. Yours till we meat and drink."
The Company will appear at the Carson Theatre on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings of the present week. Billy O'Neil comes along, too.
I received a letter from Artemus Ward, to-day, dated "Austin, January 1.'' It has been sloshing around between Virginia and Carson for awhile. I hope there is no impropriety in publishing extracts from a private letter - if there be, I ought not to copy the following paragraph of his:
"I arrived here yesterday morning at 2 o'clock. It is a wild, untamable place, but full of lion-hearted boys. I speak tonight. See small bills. *** I hope, some time, to see you and Kettle-belly Brown in New York. My grandmother - my sweet grandmother - she, thank God, is too far advanced in life to be affected by your hellish wiles. My aunt - she might fall. But didn't Warren fall, at Bunker Hill? [The old woman's safe. And so is the old girl, for that matter.-MARK.] DO not sir, do not, sir, do not flatter yourself that you are the only chastely-humorous writer onto the Pacific slopes. *** I shall always remember Virginia as a bright spot in my existence, and all others must or rather cannot be, 'as it were.' "
I am glad that old basket-covered jug holds out. I don't know that it does, but I have an impression that way. At least I can't make anything out of that last sentence. But I wish him well, and a safe journey, drunk or sober.
Mark Twain of the Enterprise, edited by Henry Nash Smith, (Univ. of California
Press, 1957), pp. 127-30.]
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