Mark Twain’s Letter

Mark Twain

San Francisco Daily Morning Call/September 3, 1863

August 30, 1863 We shipped ten thousand dollars in silver bars to the Sanitary Fund yesterday. But I cannot write today; I have no more animation than a sick puppy. However, I suppose I ought to inform the public about a circumstance which happened in the Court House this morning, and which was a most

Unfortunate Blunder

The Union League holds its meetings in the District Court Room on certain nights during the week; on Sundays the services of the First Presbyterian Church are held in the same apartment. This morning an Irish member of the League, who had been drinking a good deal, came reeling down the street, and as he passed the Court House, he chanced to look in; he saw the Rev. Mr. White (who had just sat down after the first prayer,) occupying the pulpit – the place of the President of his society; he also saw familiar faces among the congregation, and he concluded at once that the Union League was in session.

With drunken promptness, he marched in at once, as soon as his mind was made up. He reached the centre of the room in safety, and supported himself in an unstable manner by resting one hand upon the railing; with the other he removed from his mouth a cigar, one-half of which was chewed to mush; he spat, – partly on the floor, and principally on his chin – then hiccoughed, with such startling emphasis as to jerk his hat to the back part of his head; after which he gave the sign of salutation, and said: “Misrer Pres’zent: They been imposing on me at the mine, but d__n my thiev’n soul but I’ll get even wid ’em, you know! [Sensation.] The fo’man o’ Th’ Pride o’ the West has dis-dis-ch-(hic!)-airged me, bekase I’m a bloody d__d Blaick Republikin! ” Seeing a familiar face in the congregation, he addressed his remarks to the owner of it, pointing there with his dilapidated cigar: “D’ye know me, Kuhrnel, an’ ” – [Voice: “But my good friend” — ] “Be d__d to yer good friend! an’ can’t ye see it’s meself that has the flewr? Ah! now, there’s ould John A. Collins, an’ h-(hic!) -e’s wan o’ the principal brethetin. I’ll tell ye the whole of the dhirty thievin’ saircumstance, ye see.”

By this time, men, women, children and parson were smothering with suppressed laughter, as the dancing eyes that looked out over white handkerchiefs plainly testified. Col. Collins rose to his feet, blushing like a lobster, and succeeded in making the persecuted Irishman understand that he was not telling his troubles to the Union League, but to the First Presbyterian Church. The information stunned him. He stood a moment gathering again the ideas which had been scattered by this bombshell, and then backed himself out of the house, bowing repeatedly, and ejaculating: “Ladies and gentlemen, I beg yer pairdon. I thought ’twas the Union Laig. I did, 1 upon my sowl; but I beg yer pairdon, ladies and gintlemen – I beg yer pairdon!” They used to go to Goldsmith’s church to laugh, and remain to pray; but the Presbyterians here reversed the thing this morning.