YE SENTIMENTAL LAW STUDENT
EDS. ENTERPRISE - [unrecovered words] Gould & Curry [unrecovered words] prompted me to [unrecovered words] Sugar-Loaf. I found the following letter, or Valentine, or whatever it is, lying on the summit, where it had been dropped unintentionally, I think. It was written on a sheet of legal cap, and each line was duly commenced within the red mark which traversed the sheet from top to bottom. Solon appeared to have had some trouble getting his effusion started to suit him. He had begun it, "Know all men by these presents," and scratched it out again; he had substituted, "Now at this day comes the plaintiff, by his attorney," and scratched that out also; he had tried other sentences of like character, and gone on obliterating them, until, through much sorrow and tribulation, he achieved the dedication which stands at the head of his letter, and to his entire satisfaction, I do cheerfully hope. But what a villain a man must be to blend together the beautiful language of love and the infernal phraseology of the law in one and the same sentence! I know but one of God's creatures who would be guilty of such depravity as this: I refer to the Unreliable. I believe the Unreliable to be the very lawyer's-cub who sat upon the solitary peak, all soaked with beer and sentiment, and concocted the insipid literary hash which I am talking about. The handwriting closely resembles his semi-Chinese tarantula tracks.
SUGAR LOAF PEAK, February 14, 1863.
To the loveliness to whom these presents shall come, greeting: - This is a lovely day, my own Mary; its unencumbered sunshine reminds me of your happy face, and in imagination the same doth now appear before me. Such sights and scenes as this ever remind me, the party of the second part, of you, my Mary, the peerless party of the first part. The view from this lonely and segregated mountain peak, of this portion of what is called and known as the Creation, with all and singular the hereditaments and appurtenances thereunto appertaining and belonging, is inexpressively grand and imposing; and I gaze, and gaze, while my soul is filled with a holy delight, and my heart expands to receive thy spirit-presence, as aforesaid. Above me is the glory of the sun; around him float the messenger-clouds, ready alike to bless the earth with gentle rain, or visit it with lightning, and thunder, and destruction; far below the said sun and the messenger clouds aforesaid, lying prone upon the earth in the verge of the distant horizon, like the burnished shield of a giant, mine eyes behold a lake, which is described and set forth in maps as the Sink of Carson; nearer, in the great plain, I see the Desert, spread abroad like the mantle of a Colossus, glowing by turns, with the warm light of the sun, hereinbefore mentioned, or darkly shaded by the messenger-clouds aforesaid; flowing at right angles with said Desert, and adjacent thereto, I see the silver and sinuous thread of the river, commonly called Carson, which winds its tortuous course through the softly tinted valley, and disappears amid the gorges of the bleak and snowy mountains - a simile of man! - leaving the pleasant valley of Peace and Virtue to wander among the dark defiles of Sin, beyond the jurisdiction of the kindly beaming sun aforesaid! And about said sun, and the said clouds, and around the said mountains, and over the plain and the river aforesaid, there floats a purple glory - a yellow mist - as airy and beautiful as the bridal veil of a princess, about to be wedded according to the rites and ceremonies pertaining to, and established by, the laws or edicts of the kingdom or principality wherein she doth reside, and whereof she hath been and doth continue to be, a lawful sovereign or subject. Ah! my Mary, it is sublime! it is lovely! I have declared and made known, and by these presents do declare and make known unto you, that the view from Sugar Loaf Peak, as hereinbefore described and set forth, is the loveliest picture with which the hand of the Creator hath adorned the earth, according to the best of my knowledge and belief, so help me God.
Given under my hand, and in the spirit-presence of the bright being whose love has restored the light of hope to a soul once groping in the darkness of despair, on the day and year first above written.
(Signed) SOLON LYCURGUS.
Law Student, and Notary Public in and for the said County of Storey, and Territory of Nevada.
To MISS MARY LINKS, Virginia [and may the laws have her in their holy keeping.]
[The above text is from a facsimile of the original newspaper clipping published in Virginia City Nevada Revisited by Ruth Hermann, (Falcon Hill Press, 1981), p. 59. The text based on Kate Milner Rabb's 1907 The Wit and Humor of America which was reprinted in The Works of Mark Twain; Early Tales & Sketches, Vol. 1 1851-1864, (Univ. of California Press, 1979), pp. 217-19 varies slightly.] Available from amazon.com
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