From The Wit and Humor of America, edited by Marshall P. Wilder, Volume III, New York and London: Funk and Wagnalls and Company, 1911; pp. 528-535.
BY ARTEMUS WARD
MR. PUNCH, My Dear Sir: — I skurcely need inform you that your excellent Tower is very pop’lar with pe’ple from the agricultural districks, and it was chiefly them class which I found waiting at the gates the other mornin.
I saw at once that the Tower was established on a firm basis. In the entire history of firm basisis I don’t find a basis more firmer than this one.
“You have no Tower in America?” said a man in the crowd, who had somehow detected my denomination.
“Alars! no,” I anserd; “we bost of our enterprise and improovements, and yit we are devoid of a Tower. America on my unhappy country! thou hast not got no Tower! It’s a sweet Boon.”
The gates was opened after a while, and we all purchist tickets, and went into a waitin-room.
“My frens,” said a pale-faced little man, in black close, “this is a sad day.”
“Inasmuch as to how?” I said.
“I mean it is sad to think that so many peple have been killed within these gloomy walls. My frens, let us drop a tear!”
“No,” I said, “you must excuse me. Others may drop one of they feel like it; but as for me, I decline. The early managers of this institootion were a bad lot, and their crimes were trooly orful; but I can’t sob for those who died four or five hundred years ago. If they was my own 529 relations I couldn’t. It’s absurd to shed sobs over things which occurd during the rain of Henry the Three. Let us be cheerful,” I continnered. “Look at the festiv Warders, in their red flannil jackets. They are cheerful, and why should it not be thusly with us?”
A Warder now took us in charge, and showed us the Trater’s Gate, the armers, and things. The Trater’s Gate is wide enuff to admit about twenty traters abrest, I should jedge; but beyond this, I couldn’t see that it was superior to gates in gen’ral.
Traters, I will here remark, are a onfornit class of peple. If they wasn’t, they wouldn’t be traters. They conspire to bust up a country — they fail, and they’re traters. They bust her, and they become statesmen and heroes.
Take the case of Gloster, afterward old Dick the Three, who may be seen at the Tower on horseback, in a heavy tin overcoat — take Mr. Gloster’s case. Mr. G. was a conspirator of the basist dye, and if he’d failed, he would have been hung on a sour apple tree. But Mr. G. succeeded, and became great. He was slewed by Col. Richmond, but he lives in history, and his equestrian figger may be seen daily for a sixpence, in conjunction with other em’nent persons, and no extra charge for the Warder’s able and bootiful lectur.
There’s one king in this room who is mounted onto a foaming steed, his right hand graspin a barber’s pole. I didn’t learn his name.
The room where the daggers and pistils and other weppins is kept is interestin. Among this collection of choice cuttlery I notist the bow and arrer which those hot-heded old chaps used to conduct battles with. It is quite like the bow and arrer used at this day by certain tribes of American Injuns, and they shoot ’em off with such a 530 excellent precision that I almost sigh’d to be an Injun when I was in the Rocky Mountain region. They are a pleasant lot them Injuns. Mr. Cooper and Dr. Catlin have told us of the red man’s wonerful eloquence, and I found it so. Our party was stopt on the plains of Utah by a band of Shoshones, whose chief said:
“Brothers! the pale-face is welcome. Brothers! the sun is sinking in the west, and Wa-na-bucky-she will soon cease speakin. Brothers! the poor red man belongs to a race which is fast becoming extink.”
He then whooped in a shrill manner, stole all our blankets and whiskey, and fled to the primeval forest to conceal his emotions.
I will remark here, while on the subjeck of Injuns, that they are in the main a very shaky set, with even less sense than the Fenians, and when I hear philanthropists bewailin the fack that every year “carries the noble red man nearer the settin sun,” I simply have to say I’m glad of it, tho’ it is rough on the settin sun. They call you by the sweet name of Brother one minit, and the next they scalp you with their Thomas-hawks. But I wander. Let us return to the Tower.
At one end of the room where the weppins is kept, is a wax figger of Queen Elizabeth, mounted on a fiery stuffed hoss, whose glass eye flashes with pride, and whose red morocker nostril dilates hawtily, as if conscious of the royal burden he bears. I have associated Elizabeth with the Spanish Armady. She’s mixed up with it at the Surrey Theater, where Troo to the Core is bein acted, and in which a full bally core is introjooced on board the Spanish Admiral’s ship, giving the audiens the idee that he intends openin’ a moosic-hall in Plymouth the moment he conkers that town. But a very interesting drammer is Troo to the Core, notwithstanding the eccentric 531 conduct of the Spanish Admiral; and very nice it is in Queen Elizabeth to make Martin Truegold a baronet.
The Warder shows us some instrooments of tortur, such as thumbscrews, throat-collars, etc., statin that these was conkered from the Spanish Armady, and addin what a crooil peple the Spaniards was in them days — which elissited from a bright-eyed little girl of about twelve summers the remark that she tho’t it was rich to talk about the crooilty of the Spaniards usin thumbscrews, when he was in a Tower where so many poor peple’s heads had been cut off. This made the Warder stammer and turn red.
I was so pleased with the little girl’s brightness that I could have kissed the dear child, and I would if she’d been six years older.
I think my companions intended makin a day of it, for they all had sandwiches, sassiges, etc. The sad-lookin man, who had wanted us to drop a tear afore we started to go round, fling’d such quantities of sassige into his mouth that I expected to see him choke hisself to death; he said to me, in the Beauchamp Tower, where the poor prisoners writ their onhappy names on the cold walls, “This is a sad sight.”
“It is indeed,” I anserd. “You’re black in the face. You shouldn’t eat sassige in public without some rehearsals beforehand. You manage it orkwardly.”
“No,” he said, “I mean this sad room.”
Indeed, he was quite right. Tho’ so long ago all these drefful things happened, I was very glad to git away from this gloomy room, and go where the rich and sparklin Crown Jewils is kept. I was so pleased with the Queen’s Crown, that it occurd to me what a agree’ble surprise it would be to send a sim’lar one home to my wife; and I asked the Warder what was the vally of a good, well-constructed 532 Crown like that. He told me, but on cypherin up with a pencil the amount of funs I have in the Jint Stock Bank, I concluded I’d send her a genteel silver watch instid.
And so I left the Tower. It is a solid and commandin edifis, but I deny that it is cheerful. I bid it adoo without a pang.
I was droven to my hotel by the most melancholly driver of a four-wheeler that I ever saw. He heaved a deep sigh as I gave him two shillings.
“I’ll give you six d.’s more,” I said, “if it hurts you so.”
“It isn’t that,” he said, with a hart-rending groan, “it’s only a way I have. My mind’s upset to-day. I at one time tho’t I’d drive you into the Thames. I’ve been reading all the daily papers to try and understand about Governor Eyre, and my mind is totterin. It’s really wonderful I didn’t drive you into the Thames.”
I asked the onhappy man what his number was, so I could redily find him in case I should want him agin, and bad him good-by. And then I tho’t what a frollicsome day I’d made of it. Respectably, etc.
— Punch, 1866.
SCIENCE AND NATURAL HISTORY
MR. PUNCH, My Dear Sir: — I was a little disapinted at not receiving a invitation to jine in the meetins of the Social Science Congress. . . .
I prepared an Essy on Animals to read before the Social Science meetins. It is a subjeck I may troothfully say I have successfully wrastled with. I tackled it when only nineteen years old. At that tender age I writ a Essy 533 for a lit’ry Institoot entitled, “Is Cats to be trusted?” Of the merits of that Essy it doesn’t becum me to speak, but I may be excoos’d for mentionin that the Institoot parsed a resolution that “Whether we look upon the length of this Essy, or the manner in which it is written, we feel that we will not express any other opinion of it, and we hope it will be read in other towns.”
Of course the Essy I writ for the Social Science Society is a more finisheder production than the one on Cats, which was wroten when my mind was crood, and afore I had masterd a graceful and ellygant stile of composition. I could not even punctooate my sentences proper at that time, and I observe with pane, on lookin over this effort of my youth, that its beauty is in one or two instances mar’d by ingrammaticisms. This was inexcusable, and I’m surprised I did it. A writer who can’t write in a grammerly manner better shut up shop.
You shall hear this Essy on Animals. Some day when you have four hours to spare, I’ll read it to you. I think you’ll enjoy it. Or, what will be much better, if I may suggest — omit all picturs in next week’s Punch, and do not let your contributors write eny thing whatever (let them have a holiday; they can go to the British Mooseum;) and publish my Essy intire. It will fill all your collumes full, and create comment. Does this proposition strike you? Is it a go?
In case I had read the Essy to the Social Sciencers, I had intended it should be the closing attraction. I intended it should finish the proceedins. I think it would have finished them. I understand animals better than any other class of human creatures. I have a very animal mind, and I’ve been identified with ’em doorin my entire perfessional career as a showman, more especial bears, wolves, leopards and serpunts.534
The leopard is as lively a animal as I ever came into contack with. It is troo he cannot change his spots, but you can change ’em for him with a paint-brush, as I once did in the case of a leopard who wasn’t nat’rally spotted in a attractive manner. In exhibitin him I used to stir him up in his cage with a protracted pole, and for the purpuss of makin him yell and kick up in a leopardy manner, I used to casionally whack him over the head. This would make the children inside the booth scream with fright, which would make fathers of families outside the booth very anxious to come in — because there is a large class of parents who have a uncontrollable passion for takin their children to places where they will stand a chance of being frightened to death.
One day I whacked this leopard more than ushil, which elissited a remonstrance from a tall gentleman in spectacles, who said, “My good man, do not beat the poor caged animal. Rather fondle him.”
“I’ll fondle him with a club,” I ansered, hitting him another whack.
“I prithy desist,” said the gentleman; “stand aside and see the effeck of kindness. I understand the idiosyncracies of these creeturs better than you do.”
With that he went up to the cage and thrustin his face in between the iron bars, he said, soothingly, “Come hither, pretty creetur.”
The pretty creetur come-hithered rayther speedy, and seized the gentleman by the whiskers, which he tore off about enuff to stuff a small cushion with.
He said, “You vagabone, I’ll have you indicted for exhibitin dangerous and immoral animals.”
I replied, “Gentle Sir, there isn’t a animal here that hasn’t a beautiful moral, but you mustn’t fondle ’em. You mustn’t meddle with their idiosyncracies.”535
The gentleman was a dramatic cricket, and he wrote a article for paper, in which he said my entertainment wos a decided failure.
As regards Bears, you can teach ’em to do interestin things, but they’re onreliable. I had a very large grizzly bear once, who would dance, and larf, and lay down, and bow his head in grief, and give a mournful wale, etsetry. But he often annoyed me. It will be remembered that on the occasion of the first battle of Bull Run, it suddenly occurd to the Fed’ral soldiers that they had business in Washington which ought not to be neglected, and they all started for that beautiful and romantic city, maintainin a rate of speed durin the entire distance, that would have done credit to the celebrated French steed Gladiateur. Very nat’rally our Gov’ment was deeply grieved at this defeat; and I said to my Bear shortly after, as I was givin a exhibition in Ohio — I said, “Brewin, are you not sorry the National arms has sustained a defeat?” His business was to wale dismal, and bow his head down, the band (a barrel origin and a wiolin) playing slow and melancholy moosic. What did the grizzly old cuss do, however, but commence darncin and larfin in the most joyous manner? I had a narrer escape from being imprisoned for disloyalty.