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The Retort Courteous
by [?]

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 ever paid an American sovereign by a British subject. When I next visit San Antonio I’ll testify my gratitude by giving Lewis 50 cents instead of the usual two-bits for toting my grip from the “Sap” depot to the Menger hotel. I once said, “There are some very decent and brainy Englishmen;” but as all Englishmen in this country repudiate the soft impeachment, I hasten to acknowledge my error. As the editor of the Age is quite anxious to ascertain my nationality he probably suspects that I may be his father.

. . .

The Independent, which I infer from the date-line of a letter calling attention to its existence, is published at Pomeroy, Wash., proposes, bumbye, to “give a history of the robberies committed by Brann during the war.” H—-;! I can do that myself. Attired in a triangular strip of birds-eye linen and emitting savage yells, I repeatedly stormed and captured the most magnificent breast-works ever built in Kentucky and ravenously appropriated whatsoever I found therein without so much as a thankee mum. Yes sirree, I was a robber dead-right in those old days; but the Independent editor is safe: he’s got nothing but a shirt-tail full o’ pied type and a card of membership in the A.P.A.–Aggregation of Pusillanimous Asses. I have no use for his “plant,” and God knows I would not be caught dead in a Chinese opium den with his certificate of infamy concealed in my clothes.

. . .

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch of August 20, contains a half-page puff of one John Morrissey, who seems to be a peripatetic iconoclast who has started out with a Bible in one hand, and a free lunch in the other to abolish preachers. According to Morrissey he was a Roman Catholic until he learned better, a drunkard until “the Spirit of God entered his heart” and caused his reformation, and used to write sermons for St. Louis preachers who palmed them off as their own. I don’t know about that; but I know that of the interview he gave the Pee-Dee a column was cribbed without credit from the article on “Charity” in “Brann’s Scrap-Book.” “The Spirit of God” may have done much for Morrissey, but it hasn’t cured him of the thieving habit, and I would advise people to keep a sharp eyes on their portable property until this religious reformer succeeds in breaking into the penitentiary.

. . .

The Texas Republican, which appears semi-occasionally at Greenville, Tex., denounces in what Dorenus was wont to term “livid language,” my statement to the effect that a nation pays for its imports with its exports. He says it is all “iconoclastic foolishness,” declares that a nation does nothing of the kind, and proceeds to animadvert in an unchristian spirit on the density of my economic ignorance. My contemporary’s criticism is clearly unconstitutional in that it is cruel and unusual punishment. Now that its editor has annihilated my poor little theory, it is his duty as a great public educator and charter member of the Markhanna Illuminati, to inform me what the hades a nation DOES pay for its imports with, instead of permitting me, as he seems inclined, to “burst in ignorance.” You have the floor, my sweet little man, and the shades of all the standard economists from Smith to Walker are waiting to see you raise one of their favorite dogmas over the ropes. Call Prof. Jevons a jackass, give Ricardo a tremendous rap, have no mercy on John Stuart Mill, make old Adam Smith’s bones to rattle, take a terrible fall out of Turgot–then flap your ears and bray until the welkin rings again. That’s the way to settle a political adversary who goes galivanting off after false economic gods. In the meantime it might be a good idea to take your brains out, brush the cobwebs off its cogs and apply a little kerosene with a corncob.