Vol 3 Section 0510
“Now I am here, “ said Mr. Clemens, “with the utmost seriousness of manner to tell you what’s to be done, and how to do it. I have exercised the trade of unsalaried statesmanship for years. I am a statesman not
for reward, but for the peace of mind it brings me. I am too old to learn, but I am not too old to teach. “Now, to set this whole thing right is very simple. I know all about it. It has been said by somebody, and
if it hasn’t it will be now, that we must learn wisdom out of the mouths of babes and sucklings or something of that sort. The whole solution of the question rests just there. Fifty-one years ago, when I was fourteen years old, I was a member of a party of a peculiar sort, and it was my belief that if we could have such a party now we would soon clear the political atmosphere. I bring it to you here now for the salvation of this town. The party was called the Cadets of Temperance.
“Its members wore red merino scarfs and walked in church parades and picnics. On entering it a boy had to promise not to smoke,” said Mr. Clemens, removing the cigar from his mouth, “never to drink or gamble, to keep the Sabbath, and not to steal watermelons. In fact, you promised to leave behind all the liberties that were of any value, and pursue a career of virtue that was irksome to yourself and a reproach to all other people.
“There were thirty-four members of the party, and they were divided into two factions, the reds and the blues. Five of the members were purchasable, and they had to be purchased every month, when there was an election. Four could be secured on reasonable terms, but the fifth held out for war prices. The bribes were paid in the shape of doughnuts and chewing gum. There were two boys—the most incapable of the lot, but the most enterprising, who were always to the fore. There was Croker Brown on one side and Platt Higgins on the other, and one or the other managed to get himself elected every time. The good boys stood no show at all. They couldn’t get elected.
THE ANTI-DOUGHNUT PARTY.
“When we had stood this thing a long time, we got an idea. We good boys stepped out when we saw the balance of power with the purchasables, and formed another party. We called ourselves the incorruptibles, but we were not always known by that name. We had obloquy heaped on us, and we got the name of the ‘Anti-Doughnut Party’ because we couldn’t be approached on the usual terms. Well, we started wrong by putting up one of our members for office, and of course he got licked.
“But we stuck together, we twelve, and enunciated new principles. They were that none of us would ever accept office of any kind. We are here, we said, to put some virtue into the gang, and we’re going to do it. We won’t take office, but we warn you—meaning the other two parties—that you’ve got to put up your best men for office or you won’t get our support. We were strong enough to make those terms, and that was the end of the Crokers and the Platts. The good boys were put up, and then we picked the best one and voted for him and he was elected.
There’s the problem, gentlemen, solved. What we want today is an ‘Anti-Doughnut Party’ that won’t take office, but will keep the other parties safe. I am sure that it can be done. In a modified form it has been done by the mugwumps, of which body, I am the only living representative. An ‘Anti-Doughnut Party’ of 60,000 or 80,000 can do the trick. It would spread from the city to the country, and in time it would dictate the nomination of every office holder from constable to President. All it would ask for was the best possible man, and its support would mean the best man’s election.
“Not long ago we had two men running for President. There was Mr. McKinley on the one hand and Mr. Bryan on the other. If we’d had an ‘Anti-Doughnut Party’ neither would have been elected. I didn’t know much about finance, but some friend told me that Bryan was all wrong on the money question, so I didn’t vote for him. I know enough about the Philippines to have a strong aversion to sending our bright boys out there to fight with a disgraced musket under a polluted flag, so I didn’t vote for the other fellow. I’ve got that vote, and it’s clean yet, ready to be used when you form your ‘Anti-Doughnut Party’ that will want only the best men for the offices, no matter what party they belong to, and which will solve all your political problems.”
Others who spoke to the subject of the evening were St. Clair McKelway, Charles Sprague Smith, and Frank Moss. [Note: the “disgraced musket under a polluted flag” remark would rain much abuse upon Twain’s head.]
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.