Mr. Christian Patriot and Mr. Mark Twain
A reader of The Times who signs himself "A Christian Patriot" says in a letter which we printed yesterday that our note of warning against the total untrustworthiness of Mr. Mark Twain's burlesque history of the Philippine transaction has prompted him to read Mr. Twain's article, and he likes it. "It speaks truth," he tells us, "and dispels the sophisms of Chamberlain, McKinley, and the rest." We remark with surprise and grief that Mr. Christian Patriot has disobeyed our injunction "to read with care the original authorities, the official sources, from which he [Mr. Twain] would have it appear that he drew the information so amusingly perverted in his article." That was the cure we recommended for those who have been taken in by Mr. Twain. We assumed that every Christian Patriot who was really seeking the truth would let neither business nor pleasure stop him from applying this test of the truthfulness of Twain. How dare any Christian Patriot declare that Twain "speaks truth" when by so simple a procedure as consulting the sources of the truth he would have been apprised of the indisputable fact that Twain speaks falsehood?
The handy compilations published in pamphlet form by the Philippine Information Society (to be obtained of L. K. Fuller, 13 Otis Place, Boston, Mass.) will furnish anybody facts enough to confound Twain. But it is better to consult the official War and Navy Department reports contained in the four volumes, Message and Documents, Abridgment, for 1898. Take this statement from Twain's North American Review article:
On the 1st of May Dewey destroyed the Spanish fleet. This left the archipelago in the hands of its proper and rightful owners, the Filipino nation. Their army numbered 30,000 men, and they were competent to whip out or starve out the little Spanish garrison.
In his statement prepared for the Philippine Commission, (Report of the Philippine Commission, Vol. I., Page 171; quoted on Page 36 of the fourth pamphlet of the Philippine Information Society) Admiral Dewey said: "Upon the arrival of the squadron at Manila it was found that there was no insurrection to speak of, and it was accordingly decided to allow Aguinaldo to come to Cavite on board of the McCulloch. He arrived with thirteen of his staff. * * * He was allowed to land at Cavite and organize an army. This was done with the purpose of strengthening the United States forces and weakening those of the enemy. No alliance of any kind was entered into with Aguinaldo, nor was any promise of independence made then or at any other time." Gen. Wesley Merritt, who arrived at Manila on July 25, after Aguinaldo had been recruiting his army nearly three months, says (Message and Documents, Vol. III., p. 40) that the insurgent strength was "variously estimated and never accurately ascertained, but probably not far from 12,000 men." Twain says 30,000, eagerly accepting the guess of Mr. John Foreman. He says Dewey should have sailed away, leaving "the Filipino citizens to set up the form of Government they might prefer." Dewey says that at that time "there was no insurrection to speak of." Even on June 27, nearly two months after the destruction of the Spanish fleet, the Admiral cabled to the Navy Department: "I believe he [Aguinaldo] expects to capture Manila without my assistance, but doubt ability, they not yet having many guns." Gen. F. V. Greene, in his memoranda concerning the situation in the Philippines, of date Aug. 30, printed in Senate Doc. 62, and quoted in Pamphlet No. 3 of the Information Society, says: "Upon one point all are agreed, except possibly Aguinaldo and his immediate adherents, and that is that no native Government can maintain itself without the active support and protection of a strong foreign Government."
How can any Christian Patriot believe that Twain "speaks truth and dispels sophistries" when the testimony of responsible officers on the ground shows that his statements bear no resemblance to the truth?
But Mr. Twain confutes himself. The insurgents, he says, "were competent to whip out or starve out the little Spanish garrison." A dozen lines further on he says: "We entered into a military alliance with the trusting Filipinos, and they hemmed in Manila on the land side, and by their valuable help the place, with its garrison of 8,000 or 10,000 Spaniards, was captured -- a thing which we could not have accomplished unaided at that time." That is, the Filipino Army, with few guns and without the co-operation of our fleet, could have captured the place; but the Americans, with their batteries and their fleet, could not have captured it without the help of the Filipinos! Gen. Merritt, who was in command of the land forces, says: (Message and Documents, Vol. III., p. 40) "For those reasons the preparations for the attack on the city were pressed and military operations conducted without reference to the situation of the insurgent forces. The wisdom of this course was subsequently fully demonstrated by the fact that when the troops of my command carried the Spanish intrenchments, extending from the sea to the Pasay Road on the extreme Spanish right, we were under no obligations, by prearranged plans of mutual attack, to turn to the right and clear the front still held against the insurgents, but were able to move forward at once and occupy the city and suburbs." Gen. Anderson (Documents, Vol. III., p. 54) says: "Believing that however successful the insurgents may have been in guerrilla warfare against the Spaniards, they could not carry their lines by assault or reduce the city by siege, and suspecting further that a hearty and effective co-operation could not be expected," he had an independent reconnaissance made. In his memoranda, quoted on Page 29 of the Information Society's Pamphlet No. 3, Gen. Greene says: "The services which Aguinaldo and his adherents rendered in preparing the way for attack on Manila are certainly entitled to consideration, but, after all, they were small in comparison with what was done by our own fleet and army." In fact, a careful reading of the orders in the field and the reports of the military operations before Manila makes it clear that the chief anxiety of the American commanders as to the insurgents was first to get them out of the way so that their own advance toward the Spanish lines should not be obstructed, and, second, to keep them out of the city after its capitulation to prevent looting and killing.
Mr. Mark Twain entitles his article, "To a Person Sitting in Darkness." To paraphrase Mr. Ruskin's remark about Swinburne, he is, indeed, sitting in darkness and adding to it. It is impossible to exclude the suspicion that Mr. Twain was indifferent to the truth or falsity of his recital. To a person of his literary habit and temperament that aspect of the matter might not seem to be important. A man who makes it his vocation to be funny is not called upon late in life to develop a historical conscience. If the article was deemed "smart," that was doubtless quite enough to satisfy Mr. Mark Twain.
We have determined that our Christian Patriot should be delivered, out of the meshes of Mark Twain, the more particularly because he makes a dangerous admission. "It gave me great pleasure and satisfaction," says he of Twain's article, "to find expressed in such a clear, cogent, and interesting manner the exact views which I and many other loyal American citizens have entertained from the beginning." Mr. Twain's statements are untrue and his views perverted, but because the views are also his own Mr. Christian Patriot finds pleasure in reading them. He would not take our advice to seek the truth. He spurns our warnings, and he clings to Twain because he agrees with him. All these things are indicative of a closed mind. Although Mr. Christian Patriot says that the last election was "an emphatic protest against the charlatan Bryan," we are afraid he cannot lay his hand on his heart and aver that he had read Mr. Bryan's speeches and the whole of the Kansas City platform. The ranks of anti-imperialism are crowded with men who hear but one side, invariably the side that expresses the views they have held from the beginning.
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