San Francisco Letter

Mark Twain

Virginia City Territorial Enterprise/December 31, 1865


Some one (I do not know who,) left me a card photograph, yesterday, which I do not know just what to do with. It has the names of Dan De Quille, W. M. Gillespie, Alf. Doten, Robert Lowery and Charles A. Parker on it, and appears to be a pictured group of notorious convicts, or something of that kind. I only judge by the countenances, for I am not acquainted with these people, and do not usually associate with such characters. This is the worst lot of human faces I have ever seen. That of the murderer Doten, (murderer, isn’t he?) is sufficient to chill the strongest heart. The cool self-possession of the burglar Parker marks the man capable of performing deeds of daring confiscation at dead of night, unmoved by surrounding perils. The face of the Thug, De Quille, with its expression of pitiless malignity, is a study. Those of the light fingered gentry, Lowery and Gillespie, show that ineffable repose and self-complacency so deftly assumed by such characters after having nipped an overcoat or a pair of brass candlesticks and are aware that officers have suspected and are watching them. I am very glad to have this picture to keep in my room, as a hermit keeps a skull, to remind me what I may some day become myself. I have permitted the Chief of Police to take a copy of it, for obvious reasons.


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