Attention, Fitz Smythe!

Mark Twain

San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle/October 26, 1865

The Mathematical Fitz Smythe, of the Alta, says in his paper that “the Colorado arrived from Panama after the quick passage of twelve days and twenty-four hours.” That mode of expressing oneself in a solemn, religious paper like the Alta is extremely reprehensible. It is dreadfully well calculated to deceive — for who notices the odd hours? and who don’t notice the round numbers and give the steamer credit for a twelve-day trip? Fitz Smythe, you won’t do! Fitz Smythe, the atmosphere of the Police Court is destroying your religious principles! Fitz Smythe, beware! You will be a moral Augean Stable the first thing you know, Fitz Smythe! And in that case, there will be no Hercules found in these days equal to the job of shoveling you out! First class in mathematics, stand up: Armand Leonidas Fitz Smythe, how many days do twelve days and twenty-four hours make?


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