From constable up to President [runs his final clause] there is no office for which the two great parties cannot furnish able, clean, and acceptable men. Whenever the balance of power shall be lodged in a permanent third party, with no candidate of its own and no function but to cast its whole vote for the best man put forward by the Republicans and Democrats, these two parties will select the best man they have in their ranks. Good and clean government will follow, let its party complexion be what it may, and the country will be quite content.
It was a Utopian idea, very likely, as human nature is made; full of that native optimism which was always overflowing and drowning his gloomier logic. Clearly he forgot his despair of humanity when he formulated that document, and there is a world of unselfish hope in these closing lines:
If in the hands of men who regard their citizenship as a high trust this scheme shall fail upon trial a better must be sought, a better must be invented; for it cannot be well or safe to let the present political conditions continue indefinitely. They can be improved, and American citizenship should arouse up from its disheartenment and see that it is done.
Had this document been put into type and circulated it might have founded a true Mark Twain party.
Clemens made not many more speeches that autumn, closing the year at last with the “Founder’s Night” speech at The Players, the short address which, ending on the stroke of midnight, dedicates each passing year to the memory of Edwin Booth, and pledges each new year in a loving-cup passed in his honor.
NEW INTERESTS AND INVESTMENTS
The spirit which a year earlier had prompted Mark Twain to prepare his “Salutation from the Nineteenth to the Twentieth Century” inspired him now to conceive the “Stupendous International Procession,” a gruesome pageant described in a document (unpublished) of twenty-two typewritten pages which begin:
The stupendous procession
At the appointed hour it moved across the world in following order:
The Twentieth Century
A fair young creature, drunk and
disorderly, borne in the arms of
Satan. Banner with motto, “Get What You Can, Keep What You Get.”
Guard of Honor—Monarchs,
Presidents, Tammany Bosses, Burglars, Land
Thieves, Convicts, etc., appropriately clothed and bearing the
symbols of their several trades.