Look at the workmanship of him in some of its particulars. What are his tonsils for? They perform no useful function; they have no value. They are but a trap for tonsilitis and quinsy. And what is the appendix for? It has no value. Its sole interest is to lie and wait for stray grape-seeds and breed trouble. What is his beard for? It is just a nuisance. All nations persecute it with the razor. Nature, however, always keeps him supplied with it, instead of putting it on his head, where it ought to be. You seldom see a man bald-headed on his chin, but on his head. A man wants to keep his hair. It is a graceful ornament, a comfort, the best of all protections against weather, and he prizes it above emeralds and rubies, and Nature half the time puts it on so it won't stay.
"Man's sight and smell and hearing are all inferior. If he were suited to the conditions he could smell an enemy; he could hear him; he could see him, just as the animals can detect their enemies. The robin hears the earthworm burrowing his course under the ground; the bloodhound follows a scent that is two days old. Man isn't even handsome, as compared with the birds; and as for style, look at the Bengal tiger--that ideal of grace, physical perfection, and majesty. Think of the lion and the tiger and the leopard, and then think of man--that poor thing!--the animal of the wig, the ear-trumpet, the glass eye, the porcelain teeth, the wooden leg, the trepanned skull, the silver wind-pipe--a creature that is mended and patched all over from top to bottom. If he can't get renewals of his bric-a-brac in the next world what will he look like? He has just that one stupendous superiority--his imagination, his intellect. It makes him supreme--the higher animals can't match him there. It's very curious."
A letter which he wrote to J. Howard Moore concerning his book The Universal Kinship was of this period, and seems to belong here.
DEAR MR. MOORE, The book has furnished me several days of deep pleasure & satisfaction; it has compelled my gratitude at the same time, since it saves me the labor of stating my own long-cherished opinions & reflections & resentments by doing it lucidly & fervently & irascibly for me.
There is one thing that always puzzles me: as inheritors of the mentality of our reptile ancestors we have improved the inheritance by a thousand grades; but in the matter of the morals which they left us we have gone backward as many grades. That evolution is strange & to me unaccountable & unnatural. Necessarily we started equipped with their perfect and blemishless morals; now we are wholly destitute; we have no real morals, but only artificial ones-- morals created and preserved by the forced suppression of natural & healthy instincts. Yes, we are a sufficiently comical invention, we humans.
Sincerely yours, S. L. CLEMENS.
AN EVENING WITH HELEN KELLER
I recall two pleasant social events of that winter: one a little party given at the Clemenses' home on New-Year's Eve, with charades and story- telling and music. It was the music feature of this party that was distinctive; it was supplied by wire through an invention known as the telharmonium which, it was believed, would revolutionize musical entertainment in such places as hotels, and to some extent in private houses. The music came over the regular telephone wire, and was delivered through a series of horns or megaphones--similar to those used for phonographs--the playing being done, meanwhile, by skilled performers at the central station. Just why the telharmonium has not made good its promises of popularity I do not know. Clemens was filled with enthusiasm over the idea. He made a speech a little before midnight, in which he told how he had generally been enthusiastic about inventions which had turned out more or less well in about equal proportions.