Letters from a Hkdhoite–No. 1

San Francisco News Letter/April 4, 1868

EDITOR NEWS LETTER:–Having now been some time in your country, and being the only person who for many centuries has left my own I esteem it a duty to let your people know how they and their manners and customers impress the inhabitants of other lands. I believe there have several foreigners visited your shores, and some of them have penetrated some distance into the interior; but as none of them have ever written anything about you, I hope my letters may prove novel as well as interesting. As I have never heard the name of my country mentioned since leaving it, and upon alluding to it myself have invariably been regarded as insane, I am forced to the conclusion that the Americans are ignorant even of its existence. I will begin, therefore, with some account of my native and land its claims to consideration. Its manners customs, and internal policy will best be shown by comparing and contrasting them with yours as occasion shall offer in the course of my remarks.

The Kingdom of Hdkho is situated in the exact geographical centre of the universe, which is in Asia, beyond what you call the Himalaya Mountains. The precise spot I cannot point out to you, because your maps are totally wrong and upon my departure I left mine behind, thinking that I could purchase one anywhere. Suffice it that Hdkho is the birthplace of the human race, the fountainhead of mankind. The Garden of Hadeen, of which I find you possess some imperfect traditions, is located in the very heart of this great country. From long disuse, however, the garden has degenerated into a crab-orchard, much overgrown with brambles and nettles. The angel who, after the ejection of the delinquent tenant, Mr. Adamaneve, guarded this delightful spot with a blazing sword, was long ago removed from his sinecure and succeeded in this office by a Scotch gardener at a reduced salary. His—the gardener’s—habits of dissipation have done much to hasten the decay of the place. The government of Hdkho is what call an absolute monarchy; which I understand to mean, a state in which the king may do as he thinks fit, so long as his ministers and army think fit also. The reigning king is a great and good ruler. All reigning kings are; though after they have been some time dead, some of them seem little enough. His name is Khobal Khodam Pitot Youhym Ge Se Wham, which means “effulgent.” His titles are too numerous to be given here. They fill four large volumes of royal octavo, and bear strong testimony to the king’s virtues and power. Your wretched language is incapable of expressing a millionth part of their grandeur and magnificence. We have no Congress, Parliament or anything of that kind. Nor does the king usually trouble himself to make or execute the laws. He has quite enough to do hunting, gaming and listening to the petitions of his nobles. Those of the common people are carefully packed away, to be acted upon by the next monarch.

The laws are made by the press. There are persons called Wampoos, whose business it is to carefully read all the newspapers, and, cutting out every suggestion, paste them into large blank books. These books, after an interval of one hundred years, become the code of the kingdom. As it is said to be proof of the diving nature of your Scriptures that such vast amounts of intellect have been in expended in explaining, reconciling, upholding and refuting them, so in like manner the wisdom of our code is more clearly evident from the fact that one million of the wisest Hdkhoites are employed to explain them, than from any other circumstance, even the working of the laws themselves I would warmly recommend the adoption of this plan in your country. It seems wonderful that the obvious benefits of it can so long have escaped the notice of your rulers. I am sure it must have suggested itself to some of them, but they prefer to oppress you with arbitrary laws of their own. See what a reform it would work in your country press and city weeklies. As for your city dailies, I cannot see that any reform is possible; they seem admirably adapted to the purpose for which they were designed, whatever that may be. Under the system proposed, the editors, being deprived of any influence whatever upon contemporary legislation, could be actuated only by a desire to benefit posterity; and as only good and wise men take any interest in measures which do not immediately concern either themselves or their party, it is clear that legislation would be placed in the hands of such men.

Consider for a moment what vast amounts of editorial dullness in relation to the proposed Tide-Land grant to the Pacific Railroad would never have been perpetrated by the Bulletin under my policy. What long breaths of relief would be drawn by its readers at the total disappearance from its columns of all allusion to a Public Park. The very paper upon which the Alta is printed would rattle for joy at being relieved from the incubus of the Montgomery Street extension and the impeachment of the president. The little Call’s daily editorial paragraph would incontinently die out, and we should have only those delightful Letters from the People, which, as they usually contain no intelligible allusion to any interest of the present day, may fairly be set down as affecting posterity only. The Times would make no suggestions at all, for it is indisputable that not one man a hundred years hence could understand a word of what it says. It requires some study even now.

These are but a few illustrations of the benefits of the system. I shall probably recur to this part of my subject again. I have occupied too much space in explaining what relates to my own country, but this seemed absolutely unavoidable for a correct understanding. In my next I shall more particularly notice some customs of your country as seen from the standpoint of a Hdkhoite.


(Source: California State Library Microfilm Collection)