The sailing date was conveniently arranged and there followed a happy cruise among those balmy islands. Mark Twain was particularly fond of “Tom” Reed, who had been known as “Czar” Reed in Congress, but was delightfully human in his personal life. They argued politics a good deal, and Reed, with all his training and intimate practical knowledge of the subject, confessed that he “couldn’t argue with a man like that.”
“Do you believe the things you say?” he asked once, in his thin, falsetto voice.
“Yes,” said Clemens. “Some of them.”
“Well, you want to look out. If you go on this way, by and by you’ll get to believing nearly everything you say.”
Draw poker appears to have been their favorite diversion. Clemens in his notes reports that off the coast of Florida Reed won twenty-three pots in succession. It was said afterward that they made no stops at any harbor; that when the chief officer approached the poker-table and told them they were about to enter some important port he received peremptory orders to “sail on and not interrupt the game.” This, however, may be regarded as more or less founded on fiction.
MARK TWAIN AND THE PHILIPPINES
Among the completed manuscripts of the early part of 1902 was a North American Review article (published in April)—“Does the Race of Man Love a Lord?”—a most interesting treatise on snobbery as a universal weakness. There were also some papers on the Philippine situation. In one of these Clemens wrote:
We have bought some islands from a party who did not own them; with real smartness and a good counterfeit of disinterested friendliness we coaxed a confiding weak nation into a trap and closed it upon them; we went back on an honored guest of the Stars and Stripes when we had no further use for him and chased him to the mountains; we are as indisputably in possession of a wide-spreading archipelago as if it were our property; we have pacified some thousands of the islanders and buried them; destroyed their fields; burned their villages, and turned their widows and orphans out-of-doors; furnished heartbreak by exile to some dozens of disagreeable patriots; subjugated the remaining ten millions by Benevolent Assimilation, which is the pious new name of the musket; we have acquired property in the three hundred concubines and other slaves of our business partner, the Sultan of Sulu, and hoisted our protecting flag over that swag.
And so, by these Providences of God—the phrase is the government’s, not mine—we are a World Power; and are glad and proud, and have a back seat in the family. With tacks in it. At least we are letting on to be glad and proud; it is the best way. Indeed, it is the only way. We must maintain our dignity, for people are looking. We are a World Power; we cannot get out of it now, and we must make the best of it.
And again he wrote: