He has none of my diffidence. He knows all about these nominees, and if he don't he will let on to in such a natural way as to deceive the most critical. He knows everything--he knows more than Webster's Unabridged and the American Encyclopedia--but whether he knows anything about a subject or not he is perfectly willing to discuss it. When he gets back he will tell you all about these candidates as serenely as if he had been acquainted with them a hundred years, though, speaking confidentially, I doubt if he ever heard of any of them till to-day. I am right well satisfied it is a good, sound, sensible ticket, and a ticket to win; but wait till he comes.
In the mean time I go for George William Curtis and take the chances. MARK TWAIN.
He had become what Mr. Howells calls entirely "desouthernized" by this time. From having been of slaveholding stock, and a Confederate soldier, he had become a most positive Republican, a rampant abolitionist--had there been anything left to abolish. His sympathy had been always with the oppressed, and he had now become their defender. His work on the paper revealed this more and more. He wrote fewer sketches and more editorials, and the editorials were likely to be either savage assaults upon some human abuse, or fierce espousals of the weak. They were fearless, scathing, terrific. Of some farmers of Cohocton, who had taken the law into their own hands to punish a couple whom they believed to be a detriment to the community, he wrote:
"The men who did that deed are capable of doing any low, sneaking, cowardly villainy that could be invented in perdition. They are the very bastards of the devil."
He appended a full list of their names, and added:
"If the farmers of Cohocton are of this complexion, what on earth must a Cohocton rough be like?"
But all this happened a long time ago, and we need not detail those various old interests and labors here. It is enough to say that Mark Twain on the Express was what he had been from the beginning, and would be to the end--the zealous champion of justice and liberty; violent and sometimes wrong in his viewpoint, but never less than fearless and sincere. Invariably he was for the oppressed. He had a natural instinct for the right, but, right or wrong, he was for the under dog.
Among the best of his editorial contributions is a tribute to Anson Burlingame, who died February 23, 1870, at St. Petersburg, on his trip around the world as special ambassador for the Chinese Empire. In this editorial Clemens endeavored to pay something of his debt to the noble statesman. He reviewed Burlingame's astonishing career--the career which had closed at forty-seven, and read like a fairy-tale-and he dwelt lovingly on his hero's nobility of character. At the close he said:
"He was a good man, and a very, very great man. America, lost a son, and all the world a servant, when he died."
Among those early contributions to the Express is a series called "Around the World," an attempt at collaboration with Prof. D. R. Ford, who did the actual traveling, while Mark Twain, writing in the first person, gave the letters his literary stamp. At least some of the contributions were written in this way, such as "Adventures in Hayti," "The Pacific," and "Japan." These letters exist to-day only in the old files of the Express, and indeed this is the case with most of Clemens's work for that paper. It was mainly ephemeral or timely work, and its larger value has disappeared. Here and there is a sentence worth remembering. Of two practical jokers who sent in a marriage notice of persons not even contemplating matrimony, he said: "This deceit has been practised maliciously by a couple of men whose small souls will escape through their pores some day if they do not varnish their hides."
Some of the sketches have been preserved. "Journalism in Tennessee," one of the best of his wilder burlesques, is as enjoyable to-day as when written.