The Town Crier

San Francisco News Letter/July 17, 1869

“Hear the Crier!” “What the devil art thou?”

“One that will play the devil, sir, with you.”


We have received from a prominent clergyman a long letter of earnest remonstrance against what he is pleased to term our “unprovoked attacks upon God’s elect.” We emphatically deny that we have ever made any unprovoked attacks upon them. “God’s elect” are always irritating us. They are eternally lying in wait with some monstrous absurdity, to spring it upon us at the very moment when we are least prepared. They take a fiendish delight in torturing us with tantrums, galling us with gammon, and pelting us with platitudes. Whenever we disguise ourselves in the seemly toggery of the godly, and enter meekly into the tabernacle, hoping to pass unobserved, the parson is sure to detect us and explode a bombful of bosh upon our devoted head. No sooner do we pick up a religious weekly than we stumble and sprawl through a bewildering succession of inanities, manufactured expressly to ensnare our simple feet. If we pick up a tract we are laid out cold by an apostolic knock straight from the shoulder. We cannot walk out on a pleasant Sunday without seeing a stroke of pious lightning flashed from the tempestuous eye of an irate man at our secular attire. Should we cast our thoughtless glance upon the demure Methodist Rachel we are paralyzed by a scowl of disapprobation, which prostrates like the shock of a gymnotus; and any of our mild pleasantry at the expense of young Squaretoes is cut short by a Bible rebuke, shot out of his mouth like a rock from a catapult. Is it any wonder that we wax gently facetious in conversing of “the elect?”—that in our weak way we seek to get even on them? Now, good clergyman, go thou to the devil, and leave us to our own devices; or the Town Crier shall skewer thee upon his spit, and roast thee in a blaze of righteous indignation.

A man met with an accident, and his wounds were not attended to by Dr. Murphy. Consequently the man recovered. Dr. M. is said to be greatly enraged at the policeman who was paid to summon him and didn’t. For the doctor’s benefit we append a list of casualties which will occur next week, so that he may be promptly on hand: On Monday a Chinaman will have his head broken by an Irishman. This will take place at the corner of Market and every other street. Tuesday will be devoted to mangling feeble old women along the line of the several street railroads. Wednesday will be particularly lively. Seventeen sailors will be stabbed along the wharves, but their pockets will be rifled; the Doctor need not attend. Thursday a score of countrymen will be garroted along the Barbary Coast. Friday will be signalized by a lot of drunken men pushed off the Tarpeian rock on Telegraph Hill. Saturday the police will shoot some nagurs, and cave in the heads of at least a dozen gentlemen. Sunday—grand matinee. Sunday School children will imbrue their little hands in the celestial ichor of some more Chinamen. The nights throughout the week will be set aside for rolling drunks and rocking Chinamen. The intervals of business will be filled up by beating Chinamen in front of the Call office. In return for this valuable information the only favor we ask of Dr. Murphy is that when we get our neck broken he will set it for nothing; and that he will conscientiously abstain from treating any minor injuries we may incur.

Hughes has had a baby. Perhaps the reader has not the advantage of Mr. Hughes’ acquaintance. Well, Hughes is L’Homme Qui Rit—on account of the baby. We never had a baby; came very near it once, but the calamity was skillfully averted. Since then we have resorted to vaccination and feel secure, but still can sympathize with Hughes. It must be terrible to be unexpectedly thrown into a state of baby. The particular burbling in question does not differ materially from any other baby, except as to the trifling matter of paternity. It requires, we believe, the same revenue stamp that is a affixed to all healthy children born on this meridian since the war. Don’t know how many times per day it has to be washed, but presume not oftener than other babies of its sex—it is a boy, or as with rare humor the scriptures term it—a man-child. Boys have to be washed oftener and more elaborately than girls. Why this is we don’t know; we only know that it was so in the case of ourself and little sister. We were washed four or five times in the most merciless and heart-rending manner, to her not any. This is about all we have to say of Hughes’ baby, save that it is, we suppose, eligible to the Presidency, which don’t its papa wish it may get. We defer a more extended notice until the innocent shall have acquired more age. It is difficult to write intelligently upon a subject so extremely new.

It would appear that this entire peninsula has at some period been used as a cemetery. One can scarcely kick over a chip without coming upon a skeleton, and in pulling an onion you usually have to detach a grinning skull from the bulb. Nobody can dig a cellar without being put to considerable expense in carting away the bones, and in boring a well you may safely calculate upon going through at least a dozen unsuspicious strangers. Now this is getting to be serious annoyance, and if these pre-Adamites continue to poke up their ridiculous pates whenever we stick a spade into the ground there is no telling to what we may be driven. We have stood this osseous nonsense about long enough, and our temper is giving out. So far, we have treated these obtrusive squatters with the most gentle forbearance. Every center-table and what-not in the city bears evidence of our tender consideration in the shape of a set of teeth, a tibia or a short rib. Our book-shelves are hideous with the sacred relics of an exhumed civilization; our cabinets teem with ossification; our sideboards groan with a Golgotha of occipital and parietal souvenirs. We are pretty nearly supplied with these ornaments, and if they continue to turn up at the present rate we shall soon begin to throw them away or grind them into bone dust. The dead-head system is become an active nuisance.

Dogs are rational beings. They have souls—if we have. It would be a good thing to be a dog. Dogs don’t lie to one another, nor slander, though it must be confessed they are somewhat given to back-biting. To say that the dog is Man’s best friend is to exhibit a proneness to invert that would do credit to a philosopher, and a tendency to misstate that might honor a logician. The man is Dog’s most worthless companion. We know a dog who is as much better than the average man as is the horse, the sheep, or the pig. He is a bull pup, and blind as a Mammoth Cave bat. Also he is mangy and toothless, and boasts a tail of such phenomenal brevity that a moralist would find it difficult to base a revery upon it. And yet, gentle reader, this dog displays an honesty quite equal to ours, and an intelligence incomparably superior to your own. As for the natural affections, there is not a wife in town who loves her accomplished husband as this poor creature dotes upon a humble piece of raw beef.

  1. J. Booth & Co. publish a card in reply to one from the Iron Moulders’ Union, in which the following terse assertion appears: “They demanded his [an apprentice’s] discharge under penalty of a strike. They did strike; are now on a strike. So far as we are concerned they may remain on a strike forever. We do not intend to discharge the boy.” There is a vim and vigor about this that we like. Clearly there is a Man about that concern. We don’t know who he is, nor does it matter, but if he will take the trouble to come to this office he shall have the advantage of taking the Town Crier by the hand that itches to cuff every mother’s son who would shut the doors of useful employment upon American youth.

Sitting in a street car last Sunday evening, waiting for it to move, we observed four young people of the middle class, two males and two females, enter the car and sit down—a male and a female on each side. Presently they became restive and impatient, and the females made petulant remarks to the effect that unless the car started pretty soon the sermon would be half concluded before they should arrive. Finally, one of the males arose and said: “Come girls, let’s not go to hear Dr. Scudder at all. Let’s go down to North Beach and see the monkeys.” And they left the car. “Surely,” soliloquized the Town Crier, “procrastination is the parent of wisdom.”

A friend of ours, an officer in the army, was at the play of Hamlet a short time since. At the point where the melancholy Prince exclaims, “His offense is rank! It smells to heaven!” he remarked, “It couldn’t have been Brevet; there isn’t a cent in that.”—S. F. Times. [Our facetious contemporary calls this anecdote “really good.” It is good; it is excellent. Pity the “melancholy Prince” doesn’t say anything of that kind in the play. Has our friend Fitz-Smythe gone on the Times, and may we soon expect a critique of “Cotter’s beautiful poem of ‘Saturday Night?’” Lord, what dunces these army officers be!

A correspondent of the Alta, writing from Italy, says: “Herculaneum, you remember, was destroyed by the mud which Vesuvius threw out during its eruption.” Certainly; we remember it as if it were but yesterday. Lord, how we laughed as those torrents of mud engulfed all the business part of town and rolled cheerfully into the temples dedicated to the orgies of the Sons of Temperance, the parsons and the Young Men’s Christian Association! We wish Bernal Heights could throw dirt like Vesuvius and the Alta.

Dr. Cole stated in the Board of Supervisors that there were two hundred and eight churches in this city, and that during the prevalence of the epidemic not a single member of one of them ever darkened the door of the pest house. Furthermore, we believe it. Moreover, we think if anyone had done so, he should have been promptly ejected. The long-faced knave who comes about a sick bed imploring the patient to think of his latter end should be induced by a boot to think of his own.

On next Sunday evening Dr. Scudder will preach on the question “Should we drink wine?” Clearly we think we should not—unless some godless publican in our congregation should send it to us upon the sly. The Doctor will continue this course of sermons, preaching from the following texts in the order given. Should we read magazines? Should we ride velocipedes? Should we play the fool? Should we be a Scudder?

A celebrated German physician has written a book upon the Brains of Idiots. A careful research among the Alta’s Editorial Notes has failed to supply us with any evidence that such things exist in this longitude. The Professor is welcome to make any use he may choose of this information which we authenticate with our signature; not necessarily for publication but as an evidence of good faith.—Towne Cryer.

A city paper, alluding to the fact that a dead Protestant has been admitted to burial in a Catholic cemetery at Madrid, trusts that his quiet repose may atone for the fiery end of the last victim of the Inquisition. If the hero of the fiery end were in a condition to express his views he would doubtless declare himself delighted with this kind of atonement.

Annie Dickinson says that modern society teaches woman to keep her hands clean though her heart be black. We fancy this is right. If the darlings will have sable hearts, that is no excuse for sporting smutty paws. We can stand the peculiar hue of their hearts if we let them judiciously alone, but the digits go into our victuals.

It appears that Judge Provines, some time since, sentenced a child five years of age to the Industrial School for “idle and dissolute habits.” The parents of that child have a moral responsibility upon them that we should not care to incur. Had it been put out to some useful trade it might now be an ornament to society.

An elderly lady up at Shasta went to a creek to wash her face, and while stooping over to do so was struck by paralysis. We note this circumstance not so much for the sake of the warning to dirty-faced old ladies as to condemn the cowardice of the paralysis in striking a woman when she is down.

One of the sharp whalebone points of an umbrella was accidentally thrust up the nose of a clergyman, recently, and he came near bleeding to death from the hemorrhage that followed.—Exchange. [People who do not know enough to go in when it rains cannot be expected to know how to manage an umbrella.]

During the progress of the Industrial School investigation a witness testified that he had heard General Cobb address the starved and beaten pupils as rascals and scallawags. We have seldom heard of an instance in which the venerable retort, “you’re another,” would have been more in point.

The Rev. J. P. Moore, Superintendent of the City Missionary Society, reports having established a child’s prayer meeting, and poetically describes its operation as follows: “We sing, we pray; we talk of Jesus and his love. It is good to be in such a meeting.” It is likewise very exciting.

The Times confesses its inability to decide upon the merits of a prohibitory liquor law until it has been fully enforced. Happily, however with regard to the merits of a law which can never be enforced, a decision may be indefinitely postponed without endangering the common weal.

Messrs. Cavallier, Nunan and Humphreys have been appointed a committee to determine the expense of opening Second Street into Montgomery. The public may confidently rely upon an estimate which will be ample for all purposes, including a margin. Of course we mean a sidewalk.

A religious weekly is of the opinion that the resurrection at the Day of Judgment will be accomplished by an earthquake. Perhaps so; but in that case the dead in Christ will not rise first. We imagine we shall all get up and dust at pretty nearly the same moment.

A German astronomer has written a book to prove that we are soon to have a second moon, much nearer to the earth than the present one. This will of course effect an enormous increase in the number of lunatics, and German astronomy will become popular.

A church society is to be established for the support of the Magdalen Asylum. An association will be established for the support of the society. By the way, why should the church be taxed to support Magdalens? It doesn’t make ’em.

The Call says those who encourage cheap labor are traitors. Traitor or not, the Town Crier will undertake to devote his leisure moments to editing the Call more sensibly than it is done at present, for half the money now paid.

At the last meeting of the Board of Supervisors, Mr. Canavan and Mr. Cole had a little war of words, in which the latter got the worst of it. In repartee Cole always gets the worst of it; in contract or an appropriation he does not.

Old things are passing away everywhere.—Alta. [Granny, it is an unkind thing to say, but we do wish you could make it convenient to pass away along with the rest.]

The Municipal Government of Montgomery, Alabama, has decided to rifle a cannon belonging to the city. Ours will continue to rifle our pockets.

Mr. Burnell lectured before the Young Christians, Subject—“To every one his own work.” To Burnell, that of teaching nonsense to idiots.

A correspondent would like to know what is meant by “the plea of necessity.” It is a thief’s excuse for accumulating luxuries.

A very common newspaper caption is this: Recovery of a Stolen Horse. Do thieves steal only sick horses?

(Source: California State Library, microfilm collection)