I wrote those crazy Junius letters, I moped in a French dungeon for fifteen years, and wore a ridiculous Iron Mask; I poked around your Northern forests, among your vagabond Indians, a solemn French idiot, personating the ghost of a dead Dauphin, that the gaping world might wonder if we had 'a Bourbon among us'; I have played sea-serpent off Nahant, and Woolly-Horse and What-is-it for the museums; I have interviewed politicians for the Sun, worked up all manner of miracles for the Herald, ciphered up election returns for the World, and thundered Political Economy through the Tribune. I have done all the extravagant things that the wildest invention could contrive, and done them well, and this is my reward--playing Wild Man in Kansas without a shirt!"
"Mysterious being, a light dawns vaguely upon me--it grows apace--what --what is your name."
"Hence, horrible shape!"
It spoke again:
"Oh pitiless fate, my destiny hounds me once more. I am called. I go. Alas, is there no rest for me?"
In a moment the Wild Man's features seemed to soften and refine, and his form to assume a more human grace and symmetry. His club changed to a spade, and he shouldered it and started away sighing profoundly and shedding tears.
"Whither, poor shade?"
"TO DIG UP THE BYRON FAMILY!"
Such was the response that floated back upon the wind as the sad spirit shook its ringlets to the breeze, flourished its shovel aloft, and disappeared beyond the brow of the hill.
All of which is in strict accordance with the facts.
LAST WORDS OF GREAT MEN--[From the Buffalo Express, September 11, 1889.]
Marshal Neil's last words were: "L'armee fran-caise!" (The French army.)--Exchange.
What a sad thing it is to see a man close a grand career with a plagiarism in his mouth. Napoleon's last words were: "Tete d'armee." (Head of the army.) Neither of those remarks amounts to anything as "last words," and reflect little credit upon the utterers.
A distinguished man should be as particular about his last words as he is about his last breath. He should write them out on a slip of paper and take the judgment of his friends on them. He should never leave such a thing to the last hour of his life, and trust to an intellectual spirit at the last moment to enable him to say something smart with his latest gasp and launch into eternity with grandeur. No--a man is apt to be too much fagged and exhausted, both in body and mind, at such a time, to be reliable; and maybe the very thing he wants to say, he cannot think of to save him; and besides there are his weeping friends bothering around; and worse than all as likely as not he may have to deliver his last gasp before he is expecting to. A man cannot always expect to think of a natty thing to say under such circumstances, and so it is pure egotistic ostentation to put it off. There is hardly a case on record where a man came to his last moment unprepared and said a good thing hardly a case where a man trusted to that last moment and did not make a solemn botch of it and go out of the world feeling absurd.
Now there was Daniel Webster. Nobody could tell him anything. He was not afraid. He could do something neat when the time came. And how did it turn out? Why, his will had to be fixed over; and then all the relations came; and first one thing and then another interfered, till at last he only had a chance to say, "I still live," and up he went.
Of course he didn't still live, because he died--and so he might as well have kept his last words to himself as to have gone and made such a failure of it as that. A week before that fifteen minutes of calm reflection would have enabled that man to contrive some last words that would have been a credit to himself and a comfort to his family for generations to come.
And there was John Quincy Adams. Relying on his splendid abilities and his coolness in emergencies, he trusted to a happy hit at the last moment to carry him through, and what was the result? Death smote him in the House of Representatives, and he observed, casually, "This is the last of earth." The last of earth! Why "the last of earth" when there was so much more left? If he had said it was the last rose of summer or the last run of shad, it would have had as much point in it.