A Daring Attempt at a Solution of It

Mark Twain

The Galaxy/July, 1870

The Fenian invasion failed because George Francis Train was absent. There was no lack of men, arms, or ammunition, but there was sad need of Mr. Train’s organizing power, his coolness and caution, his tranquility, his strong good sense, his modesty and reserve, his secrecy, his taciturnity and above all his frantic and bloodthirsty courage. Mr. Train and his retiring and diffident private secretary were obliged to be absent, though the former must certainly have been lying at the point of death, else nothing could have kept him from hurrying to the front, and offering his heart’s best blood for the Downtrodden People he so loves, so worships, so delights to champion. He must have been in a disabled condition, else nothing could have kept him from invading Canada at the head of his “children.”

And indeed, this modern Samson, solitary and alone, with his formidable jaw would have been a more troublesome enemy than five times the Fenians that did invade Canada, because they could be made to retire, but G.F. would never leave the field while there was an audience before him, either armed or helpless. The invading Fenians were wisely cautious, knowing that such of them as were caught would be likely to hang; but the Champion would have stood in no such danger. There is no law, military or civil, for hanging persons afflicted in his peculiar way.

He was not present, alas!—save in spirit. He could not and would not waste so fine an opportunity, though, to send some ecstatic lunacy over the wires, and so he wound up a ferocious telegram with this:



And keep your powder dry.




CHICAGO, NOON, Thursday, May 26.


P.S.—Just arrived and addressed grand Fenian meeting in Fenian Armory, donating $50.


This person could be made really useful by roosting him on some Hatteras lighthouse or other prominence where storms prevail, because it takes so much wind to keep him going that he probably moves in the midst of a dead calm wherever he travels.


(Source: Project Gutenberg Australia, http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks09/0900821h.html)

The works of Mark Twain and other American journalists are now freely available at The Archive of American Journalism. Visit our bookstore for single-volume collections–-ideal for research, reference use or casual reading.