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87 Works of William Cowper Brann

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THE PREACHED AND THE “APOSTLE.” I am in receipt of a long letter from a Missouri minister, in which, to my surprise, he says: “I regret to note that you are a Pessimist. Permit me to express the hope that so powerful a journal as the ICONOCLAST will yet espouse the sunny philosophy of Optimism, […]

Adam And Eve

Story type: Essay

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After God had expended five days creating this little dog- kennel of a world, and one in manufacturing the remainder of the majestic universe out of a job-lot of political boom material, he “planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there he put the man he had formed.” Adam was at that time a bachelor, […]

Miss Sallie H.–s is one of the very few society women who, aided by nothing but their beauty, wit and talent, lift themselves into national prominence and attain something like fame. Miss H–s has been for several seasons the acknowledged belle of New York, and her position has not been disputed. She is a dark […]

Now the very Old Nick is to pay at the World’s Fair, and an exasperating stringency in the money market. The great “uncultured West” is flocking to Chicago to see the show, and is seeing more than it bargained for. Its modest cheek has been set aflame by the exuberant display of the nude in […]

A SKETCH. None so poor but they may build fairy castles in the air; none so wretched but they may fondly gaze upon the fickle star of Hope, flaming ever in that Heaven we see by Faith. A man, worn with suffering and sorrow and sin, was toiling homeward in the night from a far […]

Poor Old Texas

Story type: Essay

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‘Twas said in days of old that misfortune never comes singly. The fates are turning upon Texas an unkindly eye. She is o’erwhelmed quite, sunk in the Serbonian bogs of dark despair. First our mighty Democratic majority slipped up on the Hoggeian banana peel and drove its vertebrae through the crown of its convention plug, […]

A correspondent wants to know what I think of “the Single Standard of Morals, which assumes that tampering with the Seventh Commandment is as demoralizing to men as to women.” The single standard of morals, like the single standard of money, would be a magnificent thing were there at least double the present amount of […]

On one page of the Houston Post for Sunday, December 12, I find several columns devoted to “Our Boys and Girls,” on the next the following advertisement prominently displayed by a Houston haberdasher: “Our Ladies’ Garter Department: We can give you an All- Silk Garter for 50c. with nice buckles with such reading on them […]

Much has been written of Texas by immigration boomers, “able editors” and others, with an eye single to the almighty dollar. Its healthfulness, delightful climate, undeveloped resources, churches, schools, etc., have been expatiated upon times without number, but little has been said of its transcendent beauty. The average “able editor” is not a very aesthetic […]

CHASTITY GOING OUT OF FASHION. By the “social evil” is commonly understood illicit intercourse of the sexes, a violation of law or custom intended to regulate the procreative passion. The “evil” is probably as old as society, coeval with mankind. History–tradition itself–goes not back to a time when statutes, confessedly human, or professedly divine, were […]

That man who first coined the phrase, “Nothing succeeds like success,” had a great head. Talmage is emphatically a success,–viewed from a worldly point of view. He attracts the largest audiences of any American preacher; his sermons are more extensively printed, more eagerly read than those of any other divine. He is regarded by the […]

I note that a Britisher named Prof. Bridger has been infringing my copyright by proclaiming, as an original discovery, that kissing is an excellent tonic and will cure dyspepsia. When the o’erbusy bacteriologists first announced that osculation was a dangerous pastime, that divers and sundry varieties of bacteria hopped blithely back and forth engendering disease […]

The New South

Story type: Essay

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One of the cardinal faults of the American character is a propensity to brag. Brother Jonathan’s egotism long since passed into a proverb. In no section of this land of the alleged free and home of the ism does the blowhard blow longer and louder than in the South. We are the people, the nonpareil; […]

A WORSHIP FOR THE WORLD. “Church Unification” has long been the dream of many earnest souls, who regret to see the various denominations wasting energy warring upon each other that should be brought to bear on the legions of Lucifer; but even the most sanguine must admit there is little prospect of their dreams becoming […]

Mr. Gladstone and Prof. Huxley have been warmly debating the story of the swine, the devil and the deep sea. What an occupation for two of the master spirits of the age! Is it any wonder that young men, contemplating such polemics, should turn away from revealed religion altogether? Fortunately the religious world is no […]

Are you throwing stones at Christ and the Christian Cause? Pause, reflect before you answer. Not all the stones are thrown by the Atheist, the Agnostic, the Infidel. No, the most cruel stones, the ones that wound most deeply, are thrown from the pulpit itself. The kiss of Judas strikes deeper than the spear of […]

When it comes to “Looking Backward,” Bellamy isn’t in it a little bit with Prof. Herman V. Hilprecht. The retrospective glance of the latter covers a period of at least 11,000 years; and what is of infinitely more importance, it is that of a learned paleologist instead of a sensation-mongering empiric. The Professor has succeeded […]

Perhaps a religious periodical like the ICONOCLAST should avoid a question of such delicacy, should leave it to the medical magazines, which may speak as plainly as they please, even in the presence of the proverbial “young person”–now deep in the study of physiology and even essaying the practice of therapeutics. My quarrel, however, is […]

I have received a letter from Tyler, Texas, propounding the following fateful conundrum: “Can Woman Hypnotize Man?” My correspondent adds that “by answering, the ICONOCLAST will confer a favor on the people of Tyler, decide a bet and settle a vexatious question.” The affirmative scoops the stakes–wins dead easy, and world without end. The man […]

Philadelphia’s school board has barred Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” from the list of books to be used in the high school in the teaching of French, as a book not fit for girls. What would not one give for a diagram of the heads of these educators? It must be a nasty mind which can […]

A charming little lady, the front elevation of whose name is Stella, takes pen in hand and gives the Icon. a red-hot “roast” for having intimated that Platonic Love, so-called, is a pretty good thing for respectable women to let alone. Judged by the amount of caloric she generates, Stella must be a star of […]

The mortal remains of Jefferson Davis, for four eventful years president of the Southern Confederacy, are now en route to their last resting place in Hollywood cemetery in the city of Richmond. New Orleans, the metropolis of the sunny south-land, surrenders, with sighs and tears, the dust of the distinguished dead to the keeping of […]

AMERICAN TOADYISM ON TAP. With more barbaric mummery, flummery and vulgar waste of wealth than characterized even the late Marlborough- Vanderbilt wedding, Nicholas Two-Eyes was crowned Emperor of the rag-tag and bob-tail of creation, officially known as “all the Russias.” Nick has a nice easy job at a salary considerably in excess of ye average […]

THE PLUTOCRAT AND THE PAUPER “For Christ’s sake, Cap, give me the price of a sandwich!” I stopped and surveyed the speaker, not because the request was unusual, but because the applicant for aid had not acquired the beggar’s whine. He was a large, powerful man, evidently a mechanic, for every trade leaves its peculiar […]

Now that the clarion voice of the reformer is heard in the land, demanding for woman all the rights and privileges enjoyed by the sterner sex, perhaps it would be well to ask the fair client to come into court and establish that “natural equality” so vigorously claimed for her, as well as the fact, […]

AND CALLS ON THE ICONOCLAST. The editor was reading a report of the regular meeting of the Dallas Pastors’ Association, at which the Second Coming of Christ was learnedly considered. Dr. Seasholes declared that all good people will rise into the air, like so many larks, to meet the Lord and conduct him to earth–with […]

“APRES MOI LE DELUGE!” Mrs. Bradley-Martin’s sartorial kings and pseudo-queens, her dukes and DuBarrys, princes and Pompadours, have strutted their brief hour upon the mimic stage, disappearing at daybreak like foul night-birds or an unclean dream–have come and gone like the rank eructation of some crapulous Sodom, a malodor from the cloacae of ancient capitals, […]

Sir Edwin Arnold is a profound optimist, and apparently not a little proud of it. He recently said to a reporter: “The course of mankind is constantly towards perfection. I believe in humanity. I believe in the world’s great future. The trend of human events emphasizes the truth of this statement; though we may be […]

COL. R. G. INGERSOLL: My Dear Colonel:–I have not picked up my pen for the express purpose of annihilating you at one fell swoop. Even were such the case, I do not flatter myself that your impending doom would cause you to miss meals or lose sleep, for you have become somewhat used to being […]

HER TEARS ANENT TURKISH ATROCITIES “Christian England” is agonizing over the pitiful condition of the Armenians under Moslem rule, but has nothing to say anent her own awful record in India. It were well for John Bull to get the beam out of his own eye before making frantic swipes at the mote in the […]

Is there a life beyond the grave? Ten thousand thousand times this question hath been answered, yet answer there is none that satisfies the soul. Never yet did man look into the cold face of one he loved and not feel, creeping like a thousand-fanged adder into his desolate heart, the awful fear that death’s […]

MAKING WISE MEN BY MACHINERY. If I might presume to tender a few words of advice to so high and mighty a personage as the president of the University of Texas, I should recommend that he carefully study the Solomonic proverb: “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise; and he that […]

STORY OF JOSEPH REVISITED For more than six-and-thirty centuries the brand of the courtesan has rested on the brow of Potiphar’s wife. The religious world persists in regarding her as an abandoned woman who wickedly strove to lead an immaculate he-virgin astray. The crime of which she stands accused is so unspeakably awful that even […]

A WORLD-WIDE WAR. Unless all signs fail, the world is on the eve of a war such as was never known in all the mighty cycles of human history. Lucky indeed will it be if the twentieth century is not born amid the shock of universal battle. Is our boasted civilization breaking down beneath its […]

There have been mortals, favorites of the gods, to whom it was given to understand the language of the lower animals, and such I have ever envied, for “Beast and bird have seen and heardThat which man knoweth not.” Never could I get beyond an imperfect knowledge of their alphabet, enabling me to spell out […]

This is preeminently the era of the reformer, and there are few things, great or small, upon which he has not tried his Archimedean lever with more or less effect. Progress should ever be the shibboleth of man, but progress and improvement are not always synonyms. When a man becomes possessed of an idea that […]

Unless you accept the testimony of the Bible as conclusive, what evidence have you of God’s existence and man’s immortality?–GLADSTONE. The same evidence that we would have of the existence of the ocean were one drop of water withdrawn, of the life of a forest, were a single leaf to fall. The Bible did not […]

The Women’s Rescue League met recently at Washington and launched a double-shotted anathema at the female bike fiend. The Leaguers attribute to the bicycle craze “the alarming increase” in the number of courtesans, and call upon ministers and respectable women everywhere to denounce cycling by the sex as “vulgar and indecent.” Nor do they stop […]

The “able editor” is perhaps the only quack doctor extant who greedily swallows his own medicine and foolishly imagines that it does him good. Puffery is the “able editor’s” invariable prescription, no matter whether the patient be a moss-grown town, a broken-down political roue–the victim of early indiscretions–or a Cheap-John merchant suffering the first paroxysms […]

The ICONOCLAST receives frequent complaints from laboring people in the lumber districts of Texas and Louisiana, that their employers are robbing them by compelling them to accept orders on mill stores, where they are charged exorbitant prices for all they purchase. I have been unable to visit the lumber districts and make personal investigation of […]

Seymour, Texas, Nov. 4, 1897. MR. BRANN: Will you please answer the following question and thereby settle a dispute in Seymour: Is love intoxicating? CHAS. E. RUPE. My correspondent neglects to state whether Seymour is a Prohibition town. Of course if it is and love is listed as an intoxicant, the blind god will be […]

Balaam’s Ass

Story type: Essay

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AND OTHER BURROS. “Force first made conquest, and that conquest, law;Till Superstition taught the tyrant awe,Then shared the tyranny, then lent it aid,And gods of conquerors, slaves of subjects made.She, from the rending earth and bursting skies,Saw gods descend and fiends infernal rise;Here fixed the dreadful, there the blest abodes;Fear made her devils and weak […]

APOTHEOSIZING THE PROSTITUTE. The Trilby craze has overrun the land like the “grip” bacillus or the seven-year locust. Here in America it has become almost as disgusting as the plague of lice sent upon Egypt to eat the chilled steel veneering off the heart of Pharaoh the fickle. Everything is Trilby. We have Trilby bonnets […]

Bishop Wilyum Doane hath an abiding place at Albany, N. Y., a village on the Hudson where the peons of the political bosses most do congregate to leg for bribes. In his recent annual address to the clergy the Bish. lamented bitterly that the American “jingo” was provoking dear patient Christian England to put on […]

A correspondent calls my attention to the recommendation of a commission appointed by the governor of Massachusetts, to the effect that “all taxes on intangible property be abolished.” He adds that, “as much of the wealth of Massachusetts is in stocks, bonds and mortgages this would relieve the rich at the expense of the poor.” […]

Sometime ago a correspondent sent the ICONOCLAST a newspaper report of the “jubilee sermon” of a Rev. Mr. Reed, rector of a Protestant Episcopal church, and inquired if the statements contained therein were true. The clipping has been mislaid, and I do not now remember where Rector Reed is located; but I do know that […]

BY JOHN A. MORRIS. A few seasons ago when Audrey Beardsleyism was the rage and Oscar Wilde a lion in “sassiety” gay plaid stockings in Persian or Audrey Beardsley designs sold as high as $7.50 a pair, enough I should say to enable a poor devil like me to live a week. But this is […]

Two Of A Kind

Story type: Essay

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BY H. S. C. The McKinley administration has been in power long enough to show that the only material distinction between it and the Cleveland administration lies in the fact that it is slightly more extravagant. That is the characteristic of the Republican party and no one is surprised. In addition to being the party […]

My attention has been called by several disgusted doctors to one Jay Jay Lawrence who tacks A.M., M.D. to his patronymic, evidently as an anchor to hold it to the earth. Jay Jay and his vestibule-train title are conducting a sickly concern at St. Louis, sporting the euphonious cognomen of The Medical Brief, a monthly […]

BY ISEULT KUYK. Col. Robert Ingersoll once said of the city of St. Louis that, as to Missouri, it was “a diamond pin in a dirty shirt.” I will not maintain the immaculateness of the shirt; but the diamond has flaws, and is, in some respects, as a gem not far removed from the “phony.” […]

BY ROBERT LEE WYCHE. Here and there in the big and little towns of America cranks are busily working for the elevation of the stage. Every 2 x 4 newspaper man who thinks he has a mission, every preacher who desires to make a sensation in the pulpit, every maiden novelist whose feminine mind battens […]

"The Christian"

Story type: Essay

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BY JULIA TRUITT BISHOP. If one may judge by the effect it has produced in arousing a storm of criticism, the book of the year is undoubtedly “The Christian,” by Hall Caine. Not only the book of the year, perhaps, but of more years than one cares to count, for of books worth reading or […]


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BY WILLIAM MARION REEDY. One of the best books issued this year is the thin pamphlet, you might call it, which contains Mr. John Morley’s lecture on Machiavelli. It will repay any reader from what standpoint soever he may approach the character. “The veering gusts of public judgment have carried incessantly along, from country to […]

The country appears to be overrun at present with amateur editors. When a man learns by sad experience that he hasn’t sufficient sense to successfully steer a blind mule through a cotton patch, where the rows are a rod apart, he exchanges his double-shovel plot for the editorial tripod and begins “moulding public opinion” and […]

The ICONOCLAST receives thousands of letters to which it is impossible for me personally to reply. Many of them refer to the attempts made to forcibly suppress the ICONOCLAST, and to the terrible tragedy resulting from those attacks. I take this opportunity of thanking my friends for their kindly interest, and to assure them that […]

As I Was Saying

Story type: Essay

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BY M. W. CONNOLLY. How small of all that human hearts endureThat part which laws or kings can cause or cure!Still to ourselves in every place consigned,Our own felicity we make or find.–Dr. Samuel Johnson. There is something admirably rugged and encouragingly practical in the sentiments and philosophies of the older writers that acts on […]

Somebody whom I have never harmed sends me an A. P. A. tract entitled “A Good Catholic,” and issued by Tommy Watson, who once tried to run for vice-president on the Middle-of-the-Muck ticket–for the purpose of turning back the reform tide and electing the humble peon of the gold-buggers, high-tariffites and trusts. Tommie’s Ape tract […]

BY ETHELYN LESLIE HUSTON. Charles Goodwin, editor Salt Lake Tribune, puts into the mouth of a figurative John Bull, who is lecturing his children, the following sentence: “Why, ours is an old family. One of our ancestors was knighted by Henry VII for stealing cattle from the Scotch some time in the fifteenth century. I […]

BY H. S. CANFIELD. For the giant spoils of Greater New York three contestants are in the field. They are the regular Republican organization, Tammany and the “Citizens’ Union.” The regular Republican organization is headed by United States Senator Thomas C. Platt, and its active, or rather its most visible manager, is ex-Representative Lemuel Eli […]

BY JUNIUS. The man whom poor dead Billy Florence used to make the dominant, laughter-breeding memory-haunting figure in “The Almighty Dollar,” is with us still. He infests Washington for many months of each year. He saves the country with persistency. I purpose to tell of him as I have known him. A residence of three […]

BY ETHELYN LESLIE HUSTON. Once upon a time in the city of Detroit there lived a society woman who was very wealthy. Her home was one of the most regal of the Woodward avenue mansions. Her aristocratic limbs were clothed in the softest of silks, her delicate hands were weighed down with costliest jewels, her […]

If it is gold that has appreciated, as the silverites claim, aren’t the farmers now getting two dollars a bushel for their wheat?–Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser. The foregoing is irrefutable evidence that the fool-killer is enacting the role of cunctator. Only a gold-bug editor could insult the people of Alabama with such an exhibition of idiocy. […]

BY THE COLONEL. It is worth a man’s life in Chicago to state his unbiased opinion of Chicago. The city is filled with dirt and vanity. Its population is the most complex in the world. It has more than 300,000 people who do not speak, read or write the English language. In certain of its […]

VERSAILLES, Mo., August 31.–Editor, ICONOCLAST: Will you please inform me who was the father of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry the Eighth, giving citations. JOHN D. BOHLING. Anne Boleyn was the daughter of Henry VIII. of England, and Lady Boleyn. This is so well known to every student of history that “giving citations” seems […]

A Gipsy Genius

Story type: Essay

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BY WILLIAM MARION REEDY. Men are the only things worth while, in this world, and I purpose to write briefly of a man, who, though living in these, our own, so-called, degenerate days, would have found a perfect setting in “the spacious times of great Elizabeth.” He would have been a worthy companion of Raleigh, […]

THE ICONOCLAST MADE HARD TO CATCH. Galveston, Tex., August 12, 1897. MR. W. C. BRANN: In your editorial on the “Henry George Hoodoo,” which appears in the August number of the ICONOCLAST, the following passage occurs: “It seems to me that I have treated the Single Taxers as fairly as they could ask, and if […]

Texas Topics

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I note with unfeigned pleasure that, according to claims of Baylor University, it opens the present season with a larger contingent of students, male and female, than ever before. This proves that Texas Baptists are determined to support it at any sacrifice–that they believe it better that their daughters should be exposed to its historic […]

F. L. Lewis writes from San Antonio to an obscure sheet called the Railway Age, that Brann is not an Englishman as the Age editor in one of his elephantine efforts to be humorous seems to have suggested, and that “all Englishmen in this country repudiate his every utterance.” Thanks, awfully; that’s the highest compliment […]

REVOLVERS, ROPES AND RELIGION. I have just been enjoying the first holiday I have had in fifteen years. Owing to circumstances entirely beyond my control, I devoted the major part of the past month to digesting a couple of installments of Saving Grace presented by my Baptist brethren, and carefully rubbed in with revolvers and […]

A correspondent seizes his typewriter (the machine, not the maid) with both hands, and peremptorily demands to be informed why I “don’t jump on that fake called Spiritualism.” O I don’t know, unless it’s because more corporeal things than spooks continue to jump on me. It seems a waste of energy to criticize disembodied spirits […]

The daily press announces that there is to be another Cleveland baby. It is to make its debut some time this month. “Mrs. Cleveland has been sewing dainty garments all summer.” “Presents of beautiful baby clothes are arriving from friends and relatives.” Same old gush, gush, gush! slop, slop, slop! that has set the nation […]

I sometimes rejoice with an exceeding great joy and take something on myself that the ICONOCLAST is read by a million truth-loving Americans, as I am thereby enabled not only to make it uncomfortable for frauds and fakes, but to hold an occasional bypedal puppy up by the subsequent end that Scorn may sight him […]

Puck is what the erstwhile Artemous Ward would call a “yewmerous” paper, and is published solely for the benefit of bad barbers. When you take your seat in the butcher’s shambles he provides you with a copy of Puck because its jokes are so excruciatingly painful that it pulls your piligerous annex out with a […]

Hon. Chas. P. Johnson has written for the Globe-Democrat an article that will doubtless receive the careful consideration of every sociologist, for he therein assumes that man’s instincts are as brutal and bloody to-day as in those far times when, clad only in his “thick natural fell,” and armed with a stone, he struggled for […]

All the fools are not confined to any one political party or religious cult. As a rule the Catholic clergy, while ultra-dogmatic, are thoroughly decent. While standing up stiffly for all the claims of their creed, they treat their Protestant neighbors with courteous toleration. There are exceptions to most rules, hence it does not infallibly […]

Some months ago the ICONOCLAST paid its respects to the old line insurance companies. It demonstrated beyond the peradventure of a doubt that they are but so many cut-throat gambling concerns. It proved that they are consuming the substance of the people by returning in satisfaction of matured policies about one-third what they collect in […]

There are times when language seems made, as Talleyrand would say, to conceal thought; times when in no known tongue can one body forth his indignation or express a tithe of his contempt–he gropes in vain for invectives that bear upon their sulphurous wings an adumbration of his anger. One must sometimes stand speechless before […]

A correspondent asks “whether the great nations owe most to the sword or the cross.” That were much like asking whether the usefulness of a watch be due most to the case or the works. Religion has ever been the heart of the body social, the dynamics of civilization. A great nation of Atheists is […]

The dispatches state that during the three weeks George Gould was lazing and luxuriating in a foreign land “the business revival added at least $15,000,000 to the value of the Gold securities.” Gadzooks! how sweet idleness must be when sugared with more than $714,000 per day! I’m willing to loaf for half the lucre. How […]

BY WILLIAM MARION REEDY. The art of politics in Missouri is not more depraved than in most other states, I imagine; but it seems that in Missouri the practitioners of that art are somewhat coarser-grained and smaller-minded than men in the like charlatanry elsewhere. I think I may write of them and their methods in […]

Ginx’s Baby

Story type: Essay

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BY WILLIAM MARION REEDY. In an old book store I found the other day, a little book that should not have been forgotten. It was written almost twenty-eight years ago by a man named Jenkins, an Englishman, born in India, and educated in part, in the United States. The name of the book is “Ginx’s […]

BY ETHELYN LESLIE HUSTON. In the December ICONOCLAST there appeared a tirade on “The Stage and Stage Degenerates” that was as sweeping in its assertions as it was narrow in its views. The writer revels in reminiscences of his newspaper associations with the cheap beer-drinking, sand-floor class, swings their vices and vulgarities before the public, […]

This year’s crop of Christmas accidents appears to be up to the average. As an angel-maker Christmas outclasses St. Patrick’s day and is almost equal to the Fourth of July. The North celebrates the birth of our dear Lord by stuffing itself to the bursting point with plum budding, while the South manifests its appreciation […]


Story type: Essay

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St. Paul SAYS: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And tho’ I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and […]

The Cow

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For the enlightenment of city milkmen who never saw a cow, it may be well to state that this more or less useful animal does not resemble a pump in the slightest particular. A cow has four feet, but the subsequent one on the right side is her main reliance. With this foot she can […]

Thomas Carlyle

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Of a recent edition of Carlyle’s “Heroes and Hero Worship,” it is said that 100,000 copies are already sold. The work has been on the market many years, and this continued popularity is indeed encouraging. It argues that the taste for the legitimate, the sane in literature, has not yet been drowned in the septic […]

Life And Death

Story type: Essay

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In a city beyond far seas there dwelt a Youth who claimed not land nor gold, yet wealthier was than sceptered sovereign, richer far than fancy ever feigned. The great round earth, the sun, the moon and all the stars that flame like fireflies in the silken web of night were his, because garnered in […]