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new and automatic maladies and choice diseases
that belong to the Caucasian, gather in the
festive red man, take him to the reservation, rob
him while his little life lasts, rob him till he
turns his toes up, rob him till he kicks the bucket.

And the Shinnecock is fading, he who greeted
Chris. Columbus when he landed, tired and sea
sick, with a breath of peace and onions ; he who
welcomed other strangers, with their notions of
refinement and their knowledge of the Scriptures
and their fondness for Gambrinus they have
compassed his damnation and the Shinnecock la

Hi$ (jn?at

nOAH Webster probably had the best com
mand of language of any author ot our time.
Those who have read his great work entitled
Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, or How One
Word Led to Another, will agree with me that
he was smart. Noah never lacked for a word
by which to express himself. He was a brainy
man and a good speller.

We were speaking of Mr. Webster on the way
up here this afternoon, and a gentleman from
Ashland told me of his death. Those of you
who have read Mr. Webster's works will be
pained to learn of this. One by one our eminent
men are passing away. Mr. Webster has passed
away, Napoleon Bonaparte is no more, and
Dr. Mary Walker is fading away. This has
been a severe winter on Sitting Bull, and I have
to guard against the night air a good deal my-


It would ill become me at this late date to
criticise Mr. Webster's work, a work that is now


I may say in nearly every office, horne, school
room and counting-room in the land. It is a
great book. I only hope that had Mr. Webster
lived he would have been equally fair In his
criticism of my books.

I hate to compare my books with Mr. "Web
ster's, because it looks egotistical in me ; but
although Noah's book is larger than mine and
has more literary attractions as a book to set a
child on at the table, it does not hold the inter
est of the reader all the way through.

He has tried to introduce too many characters
into his book at the expense of the plot. It is a
good book to pick up and while away a leisure
hour, perhaps, but it is not a work that could
rivet your interest till midnight, while the fire
went out and the thermometer went down to 47
below zero. You do not hurry through the
pages to see whether Reginald married the girl
or not. Mr. Webster didn't seem to care wheth
er he married the girl or not.

Therein consists the great difference between
[Noah and myself. He don't keep up the Inter
est. A friend of mine at Sing Sing who secured
one of my books, said he never left his room
till he had devoured it. He said he seemed
chained to the spot, and if you can't believe a


convict who is entirely out of politics, who in
the name of George Washington can you
believe ?

Mr. Webster was certainly a most brilliant
writer, but a little inclined, perhaps, to be
wrong. I have discovered in some of his later
books 118,000 words no two of which are alike.
This shows great fluency and versatility, it is
true, but we need something else. The reader
waits in vain to be thrilled by the author's won
derful word-painting. There is not a thrill in
the whole tome. Noah wasn't much of a
thriller. I am free to confess that when I read
this book, of which I had heard so much, I was
bitterly disappointed. It is a larger book than
mine and costs more, and has more pictures in
it than mine, but is it a work that will make a
man lead a different life ? What does he say of
the tariff ? What does he say of the roller skat
ing rink ? He is silent. He is full of cold, hard
words and dry definitions, but what does he say
of the Mormons and female suffrage, and how
to cure the pip ? Nothing. He evades every
thing, just as a man does when he writes a let
ter accepting the nomination for President.

As I said before, however, it is a good book to
pickup for a few moments or to read on the


train. I could never think of taking a long r. r.
journey without Mr. Webster's tale in my pock
et. I would just as quick think of traveling
without my bottle of cough medicine as to start
out without Mr. "Webster's book.

Mr. Webster's Speller was a work of less pre
tensions, perhaps, but it had an immense sale.
Eight years ago 40,000,000 of these books had
been sold, afad yet it had the same grave defect.
It was disconnected, cold, prosy and dull. I
read it for years, and at last became a very close
student of Mr. Webster's style. Still I never found
but one thing in the book for which there was
such a stampede, which was even ordinarily in
teresting, and that was a perfect gem. It was
so thrilling In detail and so different from Mr.
Webster's general style that I have often won
dered who he got to write it for him. Perhaps
it was the author of the BREAD WINKERS.
It related to the discovery of a boy in the crotch
of an old apple tree by an elderly gentleman,
and the feeling of bitterness and animosity that
sprang up between the two, and how the old
man told the boy at first that he had better
come down out of that tree, because he was
afraid the limb would break with him and let
him fall. Then, as the boy still remained, he


told him that those were not eating-apples, that
they were Just common cooking-apples, and that
there were worms in them. But the boy said
he didn't mind a little thing like that. So then
the old gentleman got irritated and called the
dog and threw turf at the boy, and at last
saluted him with pieces of turf and decayed
cabbages ; and after he had gone away the old
man pried the bulldog's jaws open and found a
mouthful of pantaloons and a freckle. I do not
tell this, of course, in Mr. Webster's language
but I give the main points as they recur now to
my mind.

Though I have been a close student of Mr.
Webster for years and examined his style
closely, I am free to say that his ideas about
writing a book are not the same as mine. Of
course it is a great temptation for a young au
thor to write a book that will have a large sale,
but that should not be all. We should hare a
higher object than that, and strive to interesl
those who read our books. It should not be
jerky and scattering in its statements.

I do not wish to do an injustice to a great
man who I learn is now no more, a man who
has done so much for the world and who could
spell the longest word without hesitation, but I


speak of these things just as I would expect
others to criticise my work. If one aspire to
monkey with the literati of our day we must
expect to be criticised. I have been criticised
myself. When I was in public life as a justice
of the peace in the Kocky Mountains a man
came in one day and criticised me so that I did
not get over it for two weeks.

I might add, though I dislike to speak of it
now, that Mr. Webster was at one time a mem
ber of the Legislature of Massachusetts. I be
lieve that was the only time he ever stepped
aside from the straight and narrow way. A
good many people do not know this, but it is
true. It only shows how a good man may at one
time in his life go wrong.


Los Angeles
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Online LibraryBill NyeBill Nye's sparks → online text (page 9 of 9)