Vol 3 Section 0615

1901                                                                            559

Every negro burned at the stake unsettles the excitable brain of another one—I mean the inflaming details of his crime, and the lurid theatricality of his exit do it—and the duplicate crime follows; and that begets a repetition, and that one another one and so on. Every lynching-account unsettles the brains of another set of excitable white men, and lights another pyre—115 lynchings last year, 102 inside of 8 months this year; in ten years this will be habit, on these terms.

Yes, the wild talk you see in the papers! And from men who are sane when not upset by overwhelming excitement. A U. S. Senator Cullom—wants this Buffalo criminal lynched! It would breed other lynchings— of men who are not dreaming of committing murders, now, and will commit none if Cullom will keep quiet and not provide the exciting cause.

And a District Attorney wants a law which shall punish with death attempts upon a President’s life—this, mind you, as a deterrent. It would have no effect—or the opposite one. The lunatic’s mind-space is all occupied—as mine was—with the matter in hand; there is no room in it for reflections upon what may happen to him. That comes after the crime.

It is the noise the attempt would make in the world that would breed the subsequent attempts, by unsettling the rickety minds of men who envy the criminal his vast notoriety—his obscure name tongued by stupendous Kings and Emperors—his picture printed everywhere, the trivialest details of his movements, what he eats, what he drinks; how he sleeps, what he says, cabled abroad over the whole globe at cost of fifty thousand dollars a day—and he only a lowly shoemaker yesterday!—like the assassin of the President of France—in debt three francs to his landlady, and insulted by her—and to-day she is proud to be able to say she knew him “as familiarly as you know your own brother,” and glad to stand till she drops and pour out columns and pages of her grandeur and her happiness upon the eager interviewer.

Nothing will check the lynchings and ruler-murder but absolute silence—the absence of pow-pow about them. How are you going to manage that? By gagging every witness and jamming him into a dungeon for life; by abolishing all newspapers; by exterminating all newspaper men; and by extinguishing God’s most elegant invention, the Human Race. It is quite simple, quite easy, and I hope you will take a day off and attend to it, Joe.

I blow a kiss to you… / Lovingly Yours, / MARK [Paine’s 1917 Mark Twain’s Letters, p. 713-16 ].

Notes: Anarchist Leon Czolgosz (1873-1901) was McKinley’s assassin, “the ass with the unpronounceable name.” Shelby Moore Cullom (1829-1914), Illinois Senator (1883-1913). Umberto I or Humbert I of Italy (1844-1900) was assassinated by anarchist Gaetano Bresci July 29, 1900. Fanning surmises that it was his brother Orion Clemens who Sam traveled 1,200 miles to kill [37-8].

Edwin Wildman wrote from Clifton, Mass. to Sam:

Miss Langdon has kindly assured me that you have not entirely forgotten me…had the pleasure of meeting you at dinner at General [Charles] Langdon’s as well as having had a brief correspondence on the subject of Quarry Farm “cats” [1890] which I published in St Nicholas, I am going to presume upon that brief acquaintance, coupled with a long standing admiration…” [MTP].

Note: Wildman had just published Aguinaldo: A Narrative of Filipino Ambitions (1901), and would have sent it if he’d known before of his interest. Evidently he sent the book with the letter as he asked “a brief opinion” of his effort. See Mar. 31 and Apr. 2 1890 on the Quarry Farm cats letters. Wildman inscribed his book to Sam on Sept. 7 [Gribben 770]. Source lists several of Sam’s marginalia in the book. Sam used the book in his 1902 article “A Defence of General Funston,” and also wrote an unfinished review of the book; some 23 pages survive at the MTP.

September 11 WednesdayIn Saranac Lake, N.Y. Sam wrote a short compliment to his nephew Samuel E. Moffett on his article in the XIX Century : “It is the best piece of work concerning the several large subjects touched upon that I have seen on either side of the water….I think there would always be a market for literature of that high quality” [MTP]. Note: Moffett answered on Sept. 15.

SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.