These monsters beat all the extinct species. They are white, spotted and black. They have a sleek hide, a sharp claw and a sting in their tail. They prowl through every street of the city, craunch in the restaurants, sleep in the hall of Congress, and in grandest parlor have one paw under the piano, another under the sofa, one by the mantel and the other on the door-sill.
Now, many people spend half their time in hunting lies. You see a man rushing anxiously about to correct a newspaper paragraph, or a husband, with fist clenched, on the way to pound some one who has told a false thing about his wife. There is a woman on the next street who heard, last Monday, a falsehood about her husband, and has had her hat and shawl on ever since in the effort to correct wrong impressions. Our object in this zoological sketch of a lie is to persuade you of the folly of such a hunting excursion. If these monsters have such long legs, and go a hundred miles at a jump, you might as well give up the chase. If they have such keenness of nostril, they can smell you across the State, and get out of your way. If they have such long ears, they can hear the hunter’s first step in the woods. If they have such great throats, they can swallow you at a gape. If they are gregarious, while you shoot one, forty will run upon you like mad buffaloes, and trample you to death. Arrows bound back from their thick hide; and as for gunpowder, they use it regularly for pinches of snuff. After a shower of bullets has struck their side, they lift their hind foot to scratch the place, supposing a black fly has been biting. Henry the Eighth, in a hawking party, on foot, attempted to leap a ditch in Hertfordshire, and with his immense avoirdupois weight went splashing into the mud and slime, and was hauled out by his footman half dead. And that is the fate of men who spend their time hunting for lies. Better go to your work, and let the lies run. Their bloody muzzles have tough work with a man usefully busy. You cannot so easily overcome them with sharp retort as with adze and yardstick. All the howlings of Californian wolves at night do not stop the sun from kindling victorious morn on the Sierra Nevadas, and all the ravenings of defamation and revenge cannot hinder the resplendent dawn of heaven on a righteous soul.
But they who spend their time in trying to lasso and decapitate a lie will come back worsted, as did the English cockneys from a fox chase described in the poem entitled “Pills to Purge Melancholy:”
“And when they had done their sport,
they came to London, where they dwell,
Their faces all so torn and scratched their wives scarce knew them well;
For ’twas a very great mercy so many ’scaped alive,
For of twenty saddles carried out, they brought again but five.”
A breath of English air.