In the beginning—as a detail of the project when it was yet a joke —I had framed a humble and beseeching and perfervid petition to Congress begging the government to built the monument, as a testimony of the Great Republic’s gratitude to the Father of the Human Race and as a token of her loyalty to him in this dark day of humiliation when his older children were doubting and deserting him. It seemed to me that this petition ought to be presented, now—it would be widely and feelingly abused and ridiculed and cursed, and would advertise our scheme and make our ground-floor stock go off briskly. So I sent it to General Joseph R. Hawley, who was then in the House, and he said he would present it. But he did not do it. I think he explained that when he came to read it he was afraid of it: it was too serious, to gushy, too sentimental—the House might take it for earnest.
We ought to have carried out our monument scheme; we could have managed it without any great difficulty, and Elmira would now be the most celebrated town in the universe.
Very recently I began to build a book in which one of the minor characters touches incidentally upon a project for a monument to Adam, and now the Tribune has come upon a trace of the forgotten jest of thirty years ago. Apparently mental telegraphy is still in business. It is odd; but the freaks of mental telegraphy are usually odd.
[The following letter, signed by Satan and purporting to come from him, we have reason to believe was not written by him, but by Mark Twain. —Editor.]
To the editor of HARPER’S Weekly:
Dear Sir and Kinsman,—Let us have done with this frivolous talk. The American Board accepts contributions from me every year: then why shouldn’t it from Mr. Rockefeller? In all the ages, three-fourths of the support of the great charities has been conscience-money, as my books will show: then what becomes of the sting when that term is applied to Mr. Rockefeller’s gift? The American Board’s trade is financed mainly from the graveyards. Bequests, you understand. Conscience-money. Confession of an old crime and deliberate perpetration of a new one; for deceased’s contribution is a robbery of his heirs. Shall the Board decline bequests because they stand for one of these offenses every time and generally for both?
Allow me to continue. The charge must persistently and resentfully and remorselessly dwelt upon is that Mr. Rockefeller’s contribution is incurably tainted by perjury—perjury proved against him in the courts. It makes us smile—down in my place! Because there isn’t a rich man in your vast city who doesn’t perjure himself every year before the tax board. They are all caked with perjury, many layers thick. Iron-clad, so to speak. If there is one that isn’t, I desire to acquire