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June 3, 1865

Answers to Correspondents

DISCARDED LOVER. - "I loved and still love, the beautiful Edwitha Howard, and intended to marry her. Yet during my temporary absence at Benicia, last week, alas! she married Jones. Is my happiness to be thus blasted for life? Have I no redress?"

Of course you have. All the law, written and unwritten, is on your side. The intention and not the act constitutes crime-in other words, constitutes the deed. If you call your bosom friend a fool, and intend it for an insult, it is an insult; but if you do it playfully, and meaning no insult, it is not an insult. If you discharge a pistol accidentally, and kill a man, you can go free, for you have done no murder - but if you try to kill a man, and manifestly intend to kill him, but fail utterly to do it, the law still holds that the intention constituted the crime, and you are guilty of murder. Ergo, if you had married Edwitha accidentally, and without really intending to do it, you would not actually be married to her at all, because the act of marriage could not be complete without the intention. And, ergo, in the strict spirit of the law, since you deliberately intended to marry Edwitha, and didn't do it, you are married to her all the same - because, as I said before, the intention constitutes the crime. It is as clear as day that Edwitha is your wife, and your redress lies in taking a club and mutilating Jones with it as much as you can. Any man has a right to protect his own wife from the advances of other men. But you have another alternative - you were married to Edwitha first, because of your deliberate intention, and now you can prosecute her for bigamy, in subsequently marrying Jones. But there is another phase in this complicated case: You intended to marry Edwitha, and consequently, according to law, she is your wife - there is no getting around that - but she didn't marry you, and if she never intended to marry you you are not her husband, of course. Ergo, in marrying Jones, she was guilty of bigamy, because she was the wife of another man at the time - which is all very well as far as it goes - but then, don't you see, she had no other husband when she married Jones, and consequently she was not guilty of bigamy. Now according to this view of the case, Jones married a spinster, who was a widow at the same time and another man's wife at the same time, and yet who had no husband and never had one, and never had any intention of getting married, and therefore, of course, never had been married; and by the same reasoning you are a bachelor, because you have never been any one's husband, and a married man because you have a wife living, and to all intents and purposes a widower, because you have been deprived of that wife, and a consummate ass for going off to Benicia in the first place, while things were so mixed. And by this time I have got myself so tangled up in the intricacies of this extraordinary case that I shall have to give up any further attempt to advise you - I might get confused and fail to make myself understood. I think I could take up the argument where I left off, and by following it closely awhile, perhaps I could prove to your satisfaction, either that you never existed at all, or that you are dead, now, and consequently don't need the faithless Edwitha - I think I could do that, if it would afford you any comfort.

MR. MARK TWAIN - Sir: I wish to call your attention to a matter which has come to my notice frequently, but before doing so, I may remark, en passant, that I don't see why your parents should have called you Mark Twain; had they known your ardent nature, they would doubtless have named you Water-less Twain. However, Mark what I am about to call your attention to, and I do so knowing you to be "capable and honest" in your inquiries after truth, and that you can fathom the mysteries of Love. Now I want to know why, (and this is the object of my enquiry,) a man should proclaim his love in large gilt letters over his door and in his windows. Why does he do so? You may have noticed in the Russ House Block, one door south of the hotel entrance an inscription thus: "I Love Land." Now if this refers to real estate he should not say "love;" he should say "like." Very true, in speaking of one's native soil, we say, "Yes, my native land I love thee," but I am satisfied that even if you could suppose this inscription had any remote reference to a birthplace, it does not mean a ranch or eligibly-situated town site. Why does he do it? why does he?
Yours, without prejudice,

Now, did it never strike this sprightly Frenchman that he could have gone in there and asked the man himself "why he does it," as easily as he could write to me on the subject? But no matter - this is just about the weight of the important questions usually asked of editors and answered in the "Correspondents' Column;" sometimes a man asks how to spell a difficult word - when he might as well have looked in the dictionary; or he asks who discovered America - when he might have consulted history; or he asks who in the mischief Cain's wife was - when a moment's reflection would have satisfied him that nobody knows and nobody cares - at least, except himself. The Frenchman's little joke is good, though, for doubtless "Quarter-less twain," would sound like "Water-less twain," if uttered between two powerful brandy punches. But as to why the man in question loves land - I cannot imagine, unless his constitution resembles mine, and he don't love water.

ARABELLA. - No, neither Mr. Dan Setchell nor Mr. Gottschalk are married. Perhaps it will interest you to know that they are both uncommonly anxious to marry, however. And perhaps it will interest you still more to know that in case they do marry, they will doubtless wed females; I hazard this, because, in discussing the question of marrying, they have uniformly expressed a preference for your sex. I answer your inquiries concerning Miss Adelaide Phillips in the order in which they occur, by number, as follows: I. No. II. Yes. III. Perhaps. IV "Scasely."

PERSECUTED UNFORTUNATE. - You say you owe six months' board, and you have no money to pay it with, and your landlord keeps harassing you about it, and you have made all the excuses and explanations possible, and now you are at a loss what to say to him in future. Well, it is a delicate matter to offer advice in a case like this, but your distress impels me to make a suggestion, at least, since I cannot venture to do more. When he next importunes you, how would it do to take him impressively by the hand and ask, with simulated emotion, "Monsieur Jean, Vote chien, comme se porte-il?" Doubtless that is very bad French, but you'll find that it will answer just as well as the unadulterated article.

ARTHUR AUGUSTUS. - No, you are wrong; that is the proper way to throw a brickbat or a tomahawk, but it doesn't answer so well for a boquet - you will hurt somebody if you keep it up. Turn your nosegay upside down, take it by the stems, and toss it with an upward sweep - did you ever pitch quoits? - that is the idea. The practice of recklessly heaving immense solid boquets, of the general size and weight of prize cabbages, from the dizzy altitude of the galleries, is dangerous and very reprehensible. Now, night before last, at the Academy of Music, just after Signorina Sconcia had finished that exquisite melody, "The Last Rose of Summer," one of these floral pile-drivers came cleaving down through the atmosphere of applause, and if she hadn't deployed suddenly to the right, it would have driven her into the floor like a shingle-nail. Of course that boquet was well-meant, but how would you have liked to have been the target? A sincere compliment is always grateful to a lady, so long as you don't try to knock her down with it.

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