[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.]
If there is any man on this coast who can hold his own against Joe Goodman of the Territorial Enterprise, so far as the finer graces of English composition are concerned, that man is our neighbor, Fitz Smythe of the Alta. Joe is a stalwart fellow, and he flourishes a tolerably free broadax; but then Fitz Smythe slings a decidedly odorous dung-fork. If Joe is sometimes rather rough, Fitz is often unmistakably "nasty." In short, if nature qualified Joe for great usefulness as a butcher of bull-calves, she evidently reserved an appropriate sphere for Fitz so long as a vacancy is to be found among the scavengers. How either of them ever came to occupy a tripod is one of those bewildering mysteries which will never be fully explained in this probationary state. Joe's "last" consists of five columns of delirium-tremens vituperation of all that portion of the scribbling fraternity who have the misfortune to reside in San Francisco. Fitz's "last" is a romantic "item" in which he describes a man who had $200 in greenbacks about him as being "perfectly lousy with money." Upon the whole, we think Fitz is slightly ahead.
THUNDER AND EARTHQUAKES
That influential and high toned literary oracle, the Oakland News, has been following in the wake of the Gold Hill News, the Territorial Enterprise, and other sage brush journals, in sailing into Bret Harte's unfortunate squad of Outcroppers. The cow county paper devotes a column and a half of "purp-stuff" to the task of demolishing poor Harte and his protegees. The bucolic critic (who very appropriately signs himself "Freshman") thinks it very mean on the part of "Bret" to insist upon poets writing good grammar. This feeling is quite natural in a "literary person" who ventilates such English as "The defects of the grouping in these two verses is made manifest by their lack of sense," etc. What intelligible notion "Freshman" attaches to such queer phrases as "Poetasters ignorant of the divine harmonies peculiar to the afflatus," and "Quasimodos in symmetry," we are quite unable to guess. These are beauties of the sage brush and cow county style that will never be fully appreciated by metropolitan criticism. We understand that "Bret" has taken to his bed since the fulmination of the irate and ungrammatical "Freshman," and that his recovery is doubtful.
RETURN, O RETURN!
We are afraid that "Manzanita," the San Francisco correspondent of the Marysville Appeal, is an ex-Alta editorialist. He is suspiciously incoherent. He beats the brains out of the heads of his sentences with the tails thereof. We have no objection to his saying "Krismus has kum," provided he thinks that it is funny, but it won't do for him to double on himself in this reckless manner: "With the softening influences of this Christian holiday comes forgiveness, charity for all, and an unlocking of all harsh asperities and enmities." You got your key in the wrong lock that time, "Manzanita;" but return to the Alta and all shall be forgiven.
MAKE US LAUGH
That funny old twaddler, granny Alta, in its "criticism" of the performance at the Opera House on Friday night last, says: "Miss Crampton achieved a success as 'Marguerite' which stamps her as no uncommon actress." That is the same thing, you know, as though it had said, "stamps her as a common actress." Ho, ho, ho! he, he he! ha, ha, ha! You sly, droll, insinuating old dolt, you. You will have to be "concussed" by a pair of stoggy boots presently. You will, really.
[transcribed from microfilm]
Return to Chronicle index