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My Late Senatorial Secretaryship
by [?]

“‘Very truly, etc.,
“‘For James W. N—–, U. S. Senator.’

“That luminous epistle finishes me with the religious element among my constituents. But that my political murder might be made sure, some evil instinct prompted me to hand you this memorial from the grave company of elders composing the board of aldermen of the city of San Francisco, to try your hand upon a, memorial praying that the city’s right to the water-lots upon the city front might be established by law of Congress. I told you this was a dangerous matter to move in. I told you to write a non-committal letter to the aldermen–an ambiguous letter–a letter that should avoid, as far as possible, all real consideration and discussion of the water-lot question. If there is any feeling left in you–any shame–surely this letter you wrote, in obedience to that order, ought to evoke it, when its words fall upon your ears:


‘The Honorable Board of Aldermen, etc.

‘GENTLEMEN: George Washington, the revered Father of his Country, is dead. His long and brilliant career is closed, alas! forever. He was greatly respected in this section of the country, and his untimely decease cast a gloom over the whole community. He died on the 14th day of December, 1799. He passed peacefully away from the scene of his honors and his great achievements, the most lamented hero and the best beloved that ever earth hath yielded unto Death. At such a time as this, you speak of water-lots! what a lot was his!

‘What is fame! Fame is an accident. Sir Isaac Newton discovered an apple falling to the ground–a trivial discovery, truly, and one which a million men had made before him–but his parents were influential, and so they tortured that small circumstance into something wonderful, and, lo! the simple world took up the shout and, in almost the twinkling of an eye, that man was famous. Treasure these thoughts.

‘Poesy, sweet poesy, who shall estimate what the world owes to thee!

“Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow– And everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.”

“Jack and Gill went up the hill
To draw a pail of water;
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Gill came tumbling after.”

‘For simplicity, elegance of diction, and freedom from immoral tendencies, I regard those two poems in the light of gems. They are suited to all grades of intelligence, to every sphere of life –to the field, to the nursery, to the guild. Especially should no Board of Aldermen be without them.

‘Venerable fossils! write again. Nothing improves one so much as friendly correspondence. Write again–and if there is anything in this memorial of yours that refers to anything in particular, do not be backward about explaining it. We shall always be happy to hear you chirp.

‘Very truly, etc.,
‘For James W. N—–, U. S. Senator.’

“That is an atrocious, a ruinous epistle! Distraction!”

“Well, sir, I am really sorry if there is anything wrong about it–but –but it appears to me to dodge the water-lot question.”

“Dodge the mischief! Oh!–but never mind. As long as destruction must come now, let it be complete. Let it be complete–let this last of your performances, which I am about to read, make a finality of it. I am a ruined man. I had my misgivings when I gave you the letter from Humboldt, asking that the post route from Indian Gulch to Shakespeare Gap and intermediate points be changed partly to the old Mormon trail. But I told you it was a delicate question, and warned you to deal with it deftly–to answer it dubiously, and leave them a little in the dark. And your fatal imbecility impelled you to make this disastrous reply. I should think you would stop your ears, if you are not dead to all shame: