"That would only make me more conspicuous."
"How about a disguise?"
"Yes," he said, "I might put on a red wig and false whiskers and change my name, but I couldn't disguise my drawling speech and they'd find me out."
It was amusing, but it was rather sad, too. His fame had deprived him of valued privileges.
He talked of many things during these little excursions. Once he told how he had successively advised his nephew, Moffett, in the matter of obtaining a desirable position. Moffett had wanted to become a reporter. Clemens devised a characteristic scheme. He said:
"I will get you a place on any newspaper you may select if you promise faithfully to follow out my instructions."
The applicant agreed, eagerly enough. Clemens said:
"Go to the newspaper of your choice. Say that you are idle and want work, that you are pining for work--longing for it, and that you ask no wages, and will support yourself. All that you ask is work. That you will do anything, sweep, fill the inkstands, mucilage-bottles, run errands, and be generally useful. You must never ask for wages. You must wait until the offer of wages comes to you. You must work just as faithfully and just as eagerly as if you were being paid for it. Then see what happens."
The scheme had worked perfectly. Young Moffett had followed his instructions to the letter. By and by he attracted attention. He was employed in a variety of ways that earned him the gratitude and the confidence of the office. In obedience to further instructions, he began to make short, brief, unadorned notices of small news matters that came under his eye and laid them on the city editor's desk. No pay was asked; none was expected. Occasionally one of the items was used. Then, of course, it happened, as it must sooner or later at a busy time, that he was given a small news assignment. There was no trouble about his progress after that. He had won the confidence of the management and shown that he was not afraid to work.
The plan had been variously tried since, Clemens said, and he could not remember any case in which it had failed. The idea may have grown out of his own pilot apprenticeship on the river, when cub pilots not only received no salary, but paid for the privilege of learning.
Clemens discussed public matters less often than formerly, but they were not altogether out of his mind. He thought our republic was in a fair way to become a monarchy--that the signs were already evident. He referred to the letter which he had written so long ago in Boston, with its amusing fancy of the Archbishop of Dublin and his Grace of Ponkapog, and declared that, after all, it contained something of prophecy.--[See chap. xcvii; also Appendix M.]--He would not live to see the actual monarchy, he said, but it was coming.
"I'm not expecting it in my time nor in my children's time, though it may be sooner than we think. There are two special reasons for it and one condition. The first reason is, that it is in the nature of man to want a definite something to love, honor, reverently look up to and obey; a God and King, for example. The second reason is, that while little republics have lasted long, protected by their poverty and insignificance, great ones have not. And the condition is, vast power and wealth, which breed commercial and political corruptions, and incite public favorites to dangerous ambitions."
He repeated what I had heard him say before, that in one sense we already had a monarchy; that is to say, a ruling public and political aristocracy which could create a Presidential succession. He did not say these things bitterly now, but reflectively and rather indifferently.
He was inclined to speak unhopefully of the international plans for universal peace, which were being agitated rather persistently.
"The gospel of peace," he said, "is always making a deal of noise, always rejoicing in its progress but always neglecting to furnish statistics. There are no peaceful nations now. All Christendom is a soldier-camp. The poor have been taxed in some nations to the starvation point to support the giant armaments which Christian governments have built up, each to protect itself from the rest of the Christian brotherhood, and incidentally to snatch any scrap of real estate left exposed by a weaker owner.