Mark Twain’s Letter

Mark Twain

San Francisco Daily Call/July 30, 1863

Virginia City, Nevada Territory, July 26, 1863

The Judicial War Ended

THE WAR between Judges Jones and Mott, about the Judgeship of this District, has come to an end, it grieves me to say, without bloodshed. Not that I cared a straw, either way, but then the people expected blood, and the sovereign people should never be baulked in their desires. Yes, Judge Mott returned from the East, and marched up and reinstalled D. M. Hanson in the District Clerk’s office, without a show of resistance from anybody. This manner of ending a war which promised so much destruction and desolation, is what the late William Shakespeare would have called a “lame and impotent conclusion,” and I concur.

Tribute to California

I have every reason to believe that at this moment California contains the most moral, honest, virtuous, upright, high-toned, Christian population that exists upon the earth. God be praised for his mercy! O, happy, happy Commonwealth, within whose boundaries thieves and assassins abide not! Because all those fellows, are over here, you know. Numerous? Why, about two-thirds of us are professional thieves, according to my estimate. Nothing that can be stolen is neglected. Watches that never would go in California, generally go fast enough before they have been in the Territory twenty-four hours; horses that – [but this house being on fire at the present moment, and it being no time to be choice in the matter of language, I expect I had better “get up and dust,” as it were.]

Apology for a Letter

I just send this to show that I had commenced my regular letter, though I was never permitted to finish it, because of that fire at the White House, yesterday. I discovered that the room under mine was on fire, gave the alarm, and went down to see how extensive it was likely to be. I thought I had plenty of time, then, and went back and changed my boots. The correctness of my judgment is apparent in this instance; for, so far from having a week to fool around in, I came near not escaping from the house at all. I started to the door with my trunk, but I couldn’t stand the smoke, wherefore I abandoned that valuable piece of furniture in the hall, and returned and jumped out at the window. But I gathered up my San Francisco letter and shoved it into my pocket. Now do you know that trunk was utterly consumed, together with its contents, consisting of a pair of socks, a package of love-letters, and $300,000 worth of “wildcat” stocks? Yes, Sir, it was; and I am a bankrupt community. Plug hat, numerous sets of complete harness – all broadcloth – lost – eternally lost.

However, the articles were borrowed, as a general thing. I don’t mind losing them. But I had notes burned up there, from which I meant to elaborate a letter which all San Francisco would have read and been the better for it – been redeemed by it – so to speak. I had gossip in abundance, concerning San Francisco people sojourning among us. What I lost by the fire don’t amount to a great deal, but what they have lost in the non-completion of that letter, it is impossible to estimate. I started out with an apology – if I have done so, well; if I have not, I’m d__d if I read this note again to find it out.

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