A Word From Lisle Lester

Mark Twain

San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle/November 7, 1865

It comes to us in the shape of a neat little note of two or three pages, and seems intended to convey some information of some kind or other, but it fails altogether if such be the object — for we can say, in all honesty and candor and without any disposition to be either facetious or severe, that we do not understand a solitary sentence in it. It might as well have been written in Sanscrit, for all that we can make out of it. She says: “The recent compliment paid me in your little sheet is not the cause of this address,” etc. Very well, then, why write the “address” at all — for the article which she has the charity to call a “compliment” is the only one in which we ever recollect of mentioning her in the CHRONICLE. Then she goes on and talks incoherently about some mysterious personage who has been trying to “injure” her — but as we know nothing about this personage, and as we have made no attempt to injure her ourselves, we cannot see how we are interested in the matter. She winds up by saying she “feels injured, not insulted.” In another place she seems to intimate that we are not “gentlemen” (the italics are hers). After that we feel injured, but not insulted, also. So neither party has any advantage; both are injured and neither insulted; this squares the account and makes a perfectly equitable “stand-off.” Therefore, all things being serene and lovely, let the sanguinary hatchet be interred. Is it a “whack?”


This Fitz Smythianism in yesterday’s Alta — “He thought he smelled a magnificent rodent” — is calculated to inflict painful suspense and distress upon the ignorant if left unexplained. It is merely a corruption of a familiar and harmless expression, and means: “He thought he smelt a rat.” But this thing must be stopped. We cannot afford to be constantly fooling away time and space in translating the Alta for its patrons, and saving them from demoralizing panic or suicide every day.


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