[EDITOR'S NOTE: These items have not been previously republished elsewhere. They are included in this collection because of their potential to be the work of Clemens and are deserving of further research and consideration. The first item "What's the Matter?" hints at the time Clemens was thrown into jail in San Francisco and is unlikely to have been written by Clemens himself. However, it does contain part of his text of a letter written to the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise which mentions prominent San Francisco resident Samuel Brannan. The San Francisco Bulletin reported on November 19 that Brannan had been arrested for drunkenness. Brannan later accused the arresting officers of stealing his watch, chain and money. On December 19 the Bulletin reported that the two police officers had filed suit against Brannan for $20,000 for malicious prosecution of them for theft. The item "The Dark Side" begins with a quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet and also includes a quote by William Cullen Bryant.]
WHAT'S THE MATTER?
We wonder what on earth the Police Department have ever done to "Mark Twain." What is "Mark's" grievance? That he has some grievance is manifest, for he never loses an opportunity to sail into the Police after the tomahawk and scalping knife style of Joe Goodman when running a muck against Bret Harte poets. Has "Mark" ever been in the Station House? Was he ever in the dark cell? Have the police been unfortunate enough to run across "Mark's" hawser when he was out with his literary friends on a little nocturnal jollification? One thing is certain, "Mark" has made up his mind to dethrone Chief Burke and demolish the Police Department. In his last letter to the Enterprise he says it is ridiculous "for two members of a department which is never used as a synonym for immaculate purity and sweetness to estimate the damage they have suffered in the eyes of an admiring people at $20,000." This dig is appropos of the suit recently brought by two policemen against "My Lord Brannan," (as "Mark," with facetious intent, designates the Friend of Mexico,) for false imprisonment, each laying his damages at $10,000. Will some one institute an examination of the records of the Police Court, in order to ascertain what the officers have done to "Mark?" But, then, possibly he did not give in his right name, in which case the labor would be lost.
There is no mistake about it; Fitz Smythe of the Alta is decidedly brightening up. Fitz is growing brilliant -- positively brilliant. Here is his last:
DARING ATTACK ON A BANK TELLER. -- About five o'clock last evening, while John G. Clark, the courteous and gentlemanly Teller of the Bank of California, was engaged in locking up his money vaults for the day, he was unexpectedly surrounded by some twenty of his fellow clerks, who presented -- not a pistol at his head, nor a dagger at his heart -- but a magnificent silver pitcher and goblet, valued at $200 for his acceptance. The presentation speech was made by Mr. J. H. Morrison, in that gentleman's usual happy style; which was responded to in a "telling" manner by the recipient, after which all parties were ungallant enough to "pitch in" to a certain popular widow named Cliquot.
Really, we shall have to engage Fitz on the CHRONICLE -- as soon as we enlarge.
THE DARK SIDE
"What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculties!" etc. One side of his nature, like that of an angel; another side, like that of a demon or a brute. The last gradation of matter, standing at the verge of mortal being where "the next step is spirit-Diety;" "he can command the lightning -- and is dust;" "a monarch and a slave, a worm, a god!" He is the greatest riddle and puzzle in all this mysterious universe. Every page of authentic history is darkened by his wickedness. Alas! it is mainly in poetry and fiction that we see how unselfish and disinterested he can be in his motives, and how grand in his aspirations. How strange and wonderful the battle that he wages day after day, and year after year, from the hour when the child has first learned to lisp "good boy" and "naughty boy," with some dawning notion of moral distinctions, until the hour when, at the entrance of the dark valley, he mutters his last conscious supplication. O, how unutterably sad at times is that battle between the higher and the lower nature, when we see the heavenward aspirations grow fainter and feebler in the struggle with earthly instincts; and how humiliating, the reflection that while in the noblest of our race the "better self" never attains such an undisputed ascendancy as to be free from the necessity of constant vigilance, in the majority of men the "bad self" has so decidedly the upper hand before middle life as almost to silence the voice of its opposing duality. All philosophizings as to the "origin of evil," etc., have proved futile (though not useless), and they must ever prove so. But we can see clearly enough the dark and bitter waters, though we know not whence they flow; we see abundance of what we know to be "wrong" in others, and those whose moral sense remains unperverted feel it in themselves. We have of course grown altogether too wise to believe in a Devil; and the stupidest grand juror that listens as District Attorney Porter reads an indictment declaring that the candidate for San Quentin robbed a store or cut a throat "at the instigation of the Devil," wonders at the ignorance and superstition of our ancestors. Wisdom is an excellent thing, and the consciousness of it is an agreeable thing; and possibly no great harm will result from the expulsion of Satan from the creed -- provided we do not cease to remember that Devil or no Devil, temptation or no temptation, we have to battle to fight with ourselves, a law to impose upon ourselves, and that no man can live as he ought, or anywhere near as he ought, and at the same time go carelessly and indifferently along and have an easy time of it.
[transcribed from microfilm]
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