Edgar Wilson Nye AKA Bill Nye.

Bill Nye's Red Book online

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and the two autographs were turned over to me.

Now, how would it do to make a collection of the signatures of the
presidents and cashiers of national banks of the United States in the
above manner? An album containing the autographs of these bank officials
would not only be a handsome heirloom to fork over to posterity, but it
would possess intrinsic value. In pursuance of this idea, I have been
considering the advisability of issuing the following-letter:

To the Presidents and Cashiers of the National Banks of the United

Gentlemen - I am now engaged in making a collection of the autographs of
the presidents and cashiers of national banks throughout the Union, and
to make the collection uniform, I have decided to ask for autographs
written at the foot of the national currency bank note of the
denomination of $5. I am not sectarian in my religious views, and I
only suggest this denomination for the sake of uniformity throughout the

Card collections, cat albums and so forth, may please others, but I
prefer to make a collection that shall show future ages who it was that
built up our finances, and furnished the sinews of war. Some may look
upon this move as a mercenary one, but with me it is a passion. It is
not simply a freak, it is a desire of my heart.

In return I would be glad to give my own autograph, either by itself or
attached to some little gem of thought which might occur to my mind at
the time.

I have always taken a great interest in the currency of the country. So
far as possible I have made it a study. I have watched its growth, and
noted with some regret its natural reserve. I may say that, considering
meagre opportunities and isolated advantages afforded me, no one is more
familiar with the habits of our national currency than I am. Yet, at
times my laboratory has not been so abundantly supplied with specimens
as I could have wished. This has been my chief drawback.

I began a collection of railroad passes some time ago, intending to file
them away and pass the collection down through the dim vista of coming
years, but in a rash moment I took a trip of several thousand miles, and
those passes were taken up.

I desire, in conclusion, gentlemen, to call your attention to the fact
that I have always been your friend and champion. I have never robbed
the bank of a personal friend, and if I held your autographs I should
deem you my personal friends, and feel in honor bound to discourage any
movement looking toward an unjust appropriation of the funds of your
bank. The autographs of yourselves in my possession, and my own in your
hands, would be regarded as a tacit agreement on my part never to rob
your bank. I would even be willing to enter into a contract with you
not to break into your vaults, if you insist upon it. I would thus be
compelled to confine myself to the stage coaches and railroad trains in
a great measure, but I am getting now so I like to spend my evenings
at home, anyhow, and if I do well this year, I shall sell my burglars'
tools and give myself up to the authorities.

You will understand, gentlemen, the delicate nature of this request,
I trust, and not misconstrue my motives. My intentions are perfectly
honorable, and my idea in doing this is, I may say, to supply a long
felt want.

Hoping that what I have said will meet with your approval and hearty
co-operation, and that our very friendly business relations, as they
have existed in the past, may continue through the years to come, and
that your bank may wallow in success till the cows come home, or words
to that effect, I beg leave to subscribe myself, yours in favor of one

one flag and one bank account.


Postoffice Divan, Laramie City, W. T.,

Oct. 1, 1883.

To the President of the United States:

Sir - I beg leave at this time to officially tender my resignation as
postmaster at this place, and in due form to deliver the great seal and
the key to the front door of the office. The safe combination is set on
the numbers 33, 66 and 99, though I do not remember at this moment which
comes first, or how many times you revolve the knob, or which direction
you should turn it at first in order to make it operate.

There is some mining stock in my private drawer in the safe, which I
have not yet removed. This stock you may have, if you desire it. It is
a luxury, but you may have it. I have decided to keep a horse instead of
this mining stock. The horse may not be so pretty, but it will cost less
to keep him.

You will find the postal cards that have not been used under the
distributing table, and the coal down in the cellar. If the stove draws
too hard, close the damper in the pipe and shut the general delivery

Looking over my stormy and eventful administration as postmaster here,
I find abundant cause for thanksgiving. At the time I entered upon the
duties of my office the department was not yet on a paying basis. It was
not even self-sustaining. Since that time, with the active co-operation
of the chief executive and the heads of the department, I have been able
to make our postal system a paying one, and on top of that I am now able
to reduce the tariff on average-sized letters from three cents to two. I
might add that this is rather too too, but I will not say anything that
might seem undignified in an official resignation which is to become a
matter of history.

[Illustration: 0361]

Through all the vicissitudes of a tempestuous term of office I have
safely passed. I am able to turn over the office to-day in a highly
improved condition, and to present a purified and renovated institution
to my successor.

Acting under the advice of Gen. Hatton, a year ago, I removed the
feather bed with which my predecessor, Deacon Hayford, had bolstered
up his administration by stuffing the window, and substituted glass.
Finding nothing in the book of instructions to postmasters which made
the feather bed a part of my official duties, I filed it away in an
obscure place and burned it in effigy, also in the gloaming. This act
maddened my predecessor to such a degree, that he then and there became
a candidate for justice of the peace on the Democratic ticket. The
Democratic party was able, however, with what aid it secured from the
Republicans, to plow the old man under to a great degree.

It was not long after I had taken my official oath before an era of
unexampled prosperity opened for the American people. The price of beef
rose to a remarkable altitude, and other vegetables commanded a good
figure and a ready market. We then began to make active preparations
for the introduction of the strawberry-roan two-cent stamps and the
black-and-tan postal note. One reform has crowded upon the heels of
another, until the country is to-day upon the foam-crested wave of
permanent prosperity.

Mr. President, I cannot close this letter without thanking yourself
and the heads of departments at Washington for your active, cheery and
prompt co-operation in these matters. You can do as you see fit,
of course, about incorporating this idea into your Thanksgiving
proclamation, but rest assured it would not be ill-timed or inopportune.
It is not alone a credit to myself. It reflects credit upon the
administration also.

I need not say that I herewith transmit my resignation with great sorrow
and genuine regret. We have toiled on together month after month, asking
for no reward except the innate consciousness of rectitude and the
salary as fixed by law. Now we are to separate. Here the roads seem to
fork, as it were, and you and I, and the cabinet, must leave each other
at this point.

You will find the key under the door-mat, and you had better turn the
cat out at night when you close the office. If she does not go readily,
you can make it clearer to her mind by throwing the cancelling stamp at

If Deacon Hayford does not pay up his box-rent, you might as well put
his mail in the general delivery, and when Bob Head gets drunk and
insists on a letter from one of his wives every day in the week, you
can salute him through the box delivery with an old Queen Anne tomahawk,
which you will find near the Etruscan water pail. This will not in any
manner surprise either of these parties.

Tears are unavailing. I once more become a private citizen, clothed
only with the right to read such postal cards as may be addressed to me
personally, and to curse the inefficiency of the postoffice department.
I believe the voting class to be divided into two parties, viz.: Those
who are in the postal service and those who are mad because they cannot
receive a registered letter every fifteen minutes of each day, including

Mr. President, as an official of this Government I now retire. My term
of office would not expire until 1886. I must, therefore, beg pardon
for my eccentricity in resigning. It will be best, perhaps, to keep the
heart-breaking news from the ears of European powers until the dangers
of a financial panic are fully past. Then hurl it broadcast with a
sickening thud.


I have decided to sacrifice another valuable piece of mining property
this spring. It would not be sold if I had the necessary capital to
develop it. It is a good mine, for I located it myself. I remember well
the day I climbed up on the ridge-pole of the universe and nailed my
location notice to the eaves of the sky.

It was in August that I discovered the Vanderbilt claim in a snow-storm.
It cropped out apparently a little southeast of a point where the arc
of the orbit of Venus bisects the milky way, and ran due east eighty
chains, three links and a swivel, thence south fifteen paces and a half
to a blue spot in the sky, thence proceeding west eighty chains, three
links of sausage and a half to a fixed star, thence north across the
lead to place of beginning.

The Vanderbilt set out to be a carbonate deposit, but changed its mind.
I sent a piece of the cropping to a man over in Salt Lake, who is a good
assayer and quite a scientist, if he would brace up and avoid humor. His
assay read as follows, to wit:

Salt Lake City, U. T., August 25, 1877.

Mr. Bill Nye - Your specimen of ore No. 35,832, current series, has been
submitted to assay and shows the following result:

Metal. Ounces. Value per ton.



Railroad iron..................... 1 . .

Pyrites of poverty................ 9 . .

Parasites of disappointment....... 90 . .

McVicker, Assayer.

[Illustration: 0366]

Note. - I also find that the formation is igneous, prehistoric and
erroneous. If I were you I would sink a prospect shaft below the
vertical slide where the old red brimstone and preadamite slag cross-cut
the malachite and intersect the schist. I think that would be schist
about as good as anything you could do. Then send me specimens with $2
for assay and we shall see what we shall see.

Well, I didn't know he was "an humorist," you see, so I went to work
on the Vanderbilt to try and do what Mac. said. I sank a shaft and
everything else I could get hold of on that claim. It was so high that
we had to carry water up there to drink when we began and before fall we
had struck a vein of the richest water you ever saw. We had more water
in that mine than the regular army could use.

When we got down sixty feet I sent some pieces of the pay streak to the
assayer again. This time he wrote me quite a letter, and at the same
time inclosed the certificate of assay.

Salt Lake City, U. T., October 3, 1877. Mr. Bill Nye - Your specimen of
ore No. 36,132, current series, has been submitted to assay and shows
the following result:

[Illustration: 0367]

In the letter he said there was, no doubt, something in the claim if I
could get the true contact with calcimine walls denoting a true fissure.
He thought I ought to run a drift. I told him I had already run adrift.

Then he said to stope out my stove polish ore and sell it for enough to
go on with the development. I tried that, but capital seemed coy. Others
had been there before me and capital bade me soak my head and said other
things which grated harshly on my sensitive nature.

The Vanderbilt mine, with all its dips, spurs, angles, variations,
veins, sinuosities, rights, titles, franchises, prerogatives and
assessments is now for sale. I sell it in order to raise the necessary
funds for the development of the Governor of North Carolina. I had so
much trouble with water in the Vanderbilt, that I named the new claim
the Governor of North Carolina, because he was always dry.


Lately I have been giving a good deal of attention to hygiene - in other
people. The gentle reader will notice that, as a rule, the man who gives
the most time and thought to this subject is an invalid himself; just
as the young theological student devotes his first sermon to the care of
children, and the ward politician talks the smoothest on the subject of
how and when to plant rutabagas or wean a calf from the parent stem.

Having been thrown into the society of physicians a great deal the past
two years, mostly in the role of patient, I have given some study to the
human form; its structure and idiosyncrasies, as it were. Perhaps few
men in the same length of time have successfully acquired a larger or
more select repertoire of choice diseases than I have. I do not say this
boastfully. I simply desire to call the attention of our growing youth
to the glorious possibilities that await the ambitious and enterprising
in this line.

Starting out as a poor boy, with few advantages in the way of disease,
I have resolutely carved my way up to the dizzy heights of fame as a
chronic invalid and drug-soaked relic of other days. I inherited no
disease whatever. My ancestors were poor and healthy. They bequeathed me
no snug little nucleus of fashionable malaria such as other boys had. I
was obliged to acquire it myself. Yet I was not discouraged. The results
have shown that disease is not alone the heritage of the wealthy and the
great. The poorest of us may become eminent invalids if we will only
go at it in the right way. But I started out to say something on the
subject of health, for there are still many common people who would
rather be healthy and unknown than obtain distinction with some dazzling
new disease.

Noticing many years ago that imperfect mastication and dyspepsia walked
hand in hand, so to speak, Mr. Gladstone adopted in his family a regular
mastication scale; for instance, thirty-two bites for steak, twenty-two
for fish, and so forth. Now I take this idea and improve upon it. Two
statesmen can always act better in concert if they will do so.

With Mr. Gladstone's knowledge of the laws of health and my own musical
genius, I have hit on a way to make eating not only a duty, but a
pleasure. Eating is too frequently irksome. There is nothing about it to
make it attractive.

What we need is a union of mush and melody, if I may be allowed that
expression. Mr. Gladstone has given us the graduated scale, so that we
know just what metre a bill of fare goes in as quick as we look at it.
In this way the day is not far distant when music and mastication will
march down through the dim vista of years together.

The Baked Bean Chant, the Vermicelli Waltz, the Mush and Milk March, the
sad and touchful Pumpkin Pie Refrain, the gay and rollicking Oxtail Soup
Gallop, and the melting Ice Cream Serenade will yet be common musical

Taking different classes of food, I have set them to music in such a
way that the meal, for instance, may open with a Soup Overture, to be
followed by a Roast Beef March in C, and so on, closing with a kind of
Mince Pie La Somnambula pianissimo in G. Space, of course, forbids an
extended description of this idea as I propose to carry it out, but the
conception is certainly grand. Let us picture the jaws of a whole family
moving in exact time to a Strauss waltz on the silent remains of the
late lamented hen, and we see at once how much real pleasure may be
added to the process of mastication.

[Illustration: 0372]


I have just formed the acquaintance of a blase young man. I have been
on an extended trip with him. He is about twenty-two years old, but he
is already weary of life. He was very careful all the time never to
be exuberant. No matter how beautiful the landscape, he never allowed
himself to exube.

Several times I succeeded in startling him enough to say "Ah!" but that
was all. He had the air all the time of a man who had been reared in
luxury and fondled so much in the lap of wealth that he was weary of
life, and yearned for a bright immortality. I have often wished that the
pruning-hook of time would use a little more discretion. The blase young
man seemed to be tired all the time. He was weary of life because life
was hollow.

He seemed to hanker for the cool and quiet grave. I wished at times that
the hankering-might have been more mutual. But what does a cool, quiet
grave want of a young man who never did anything but breathe the nice
pure air into his froggy lungs and spoil it for everybody else?

This young man had a large grip-sack with him which he frequently
consulted. I glanced into it once while he left it open. It was not
right, but I did it. I saw the following articles in it:

31 Assorted Neckties.

1 pair Socks (whole).

1 pair do. (not so whole).

17 Collars.

1 Shirt.

1 Quart Cuff-Buttons.

1 suit discouraged Gauze Underwear.

1 box Speckled Handkerchiefs.

1 box Condition Powders.

1 Toothbrush (prematurely bald).

1 copy Martin F. Tupper's Works.

1 box Prepared Chalk.

1 Pair Tweezers for encouraging Moustache to come out to breakfast.

1 Powder Rag.

1 Gob ecru-colored Taffy.

1 Hair-brush, with Ginger Hair in it.

1 Pencil to pencil Moustache at night.

1 Bread and Milk Poultice to put on Moustache on retiring, so that
it will not forget to come out again the next day.

1 Box Trix for the breath,

1 Box Chloride of Lime to use in case breath becomes

1 Ear-spoon (large size),

1 Plain Mourning Head for Cane,

1 Vulcanized Rubber Head for Cane (to bite on).

1 Shoe-horn to use in working Ears into Ear-Muffs.

1 Pair Corsets.

1 Dark-brown Wash for Mouth, to be used in the morning.

1 Large Box Ennui, to be used in Society,

1 Box Spruce Gum, made in Chicago and warranted pure.

1 Gallon Assorted Shirt Studs,

1 Polka-dot Handkerchief to pin in side-pocket, but not for nose.

1 Plain Handkerchief for nose,

1 Fancy Head for Cane (morning),

1 Fancy Head for Cane (evening),

1 Picnic Head for Cane,

1 Bottle Peppermint,

1 Catnip,

1 Waterbury Watch.

7 Chains for same,

1 Box Letter Paper,

1 Stick Sealing Wax (baby blue),

1 do " " (Bismarck brindle).

1 do " " (mashed gooseberry),

1 Seal for same.

1 Family Crest (wash-tub rampant on a field calico).

There were other little articles of virtu and bric-a-brac till you
couldn't rest, but these were all that I could see thoroughly before he
returned from the wash-room.

I do not like the blase young man as a traveling companion. He is nix
bonuin. He is too E pluribus for me. He is not de trop or sciatica
enough to suit my style.

[Illustration: 0376]

If he belonged to me I would picket him out somewhere in a hostile
Indian country, and then try to nerve myself up for the result.

It is better to go through life reading the signs on the ten-story
buildings and acquiring knowledge, than to dawdle and "Ah!" adown our
pathway to the tomb and leave no record for posterity except that we
had a good neck to pin a necktie upon. It is not pleasant to be
called green, but I would rather be green and aspiring than blase and
hide-bound at nineteen.

Let us so live that when at last we pass away our friends will not be
immediately and uproariously reconciled to our death.


The history of Babylon is fraught with sadness. It illustrates, only
too painfully, that the people of a town make or mar its success rather
than the natural resources and advantages it may possess on the start.

Thus Babylon, with 3,000 years the start of Minneapolis, is to-day a
hole in the ground, while Minneapolis socks her XXXX flour into every
corner of the globe, and the price of real estate would make a common
dynasty totter on its throne.

Babylon is a good illustration of the decay of a town that does not
keep up with the procession. Compare her to-day with Kansas City. While
Babylon was the capital of Chaldea, 1,270 years before the birth of
Christ, and Kansas City was organized so many years after that event
that many of the people there have forgotten all about it, Kansas City
has doubled her population in ten years, while Babylon is simply a
gothic hole in the ground.

Why did trade and emigration turn their backs upon Babylon and seek out
Minneapolis, St. Paul, Kansas City and Omaha? Was it because they were
blest with a bluer sky or a more genial sun? Not by any means. While
Babylon lived upon what she had been and neglected to advertise, other
towns with no history extending back into the mouldy past, whooped with
an exceeding great whoop and tore up the ground and shed printers' ink
and showed marked signs of vitality. That is the reason that Babylon is
no more.

This life of ours is one of intense activity. We cannot rest long in
idleness without inviting forgetfulness, death and oblivion. "Babylon
was probably the largest and most magnificent city of the ancient
world." Isaiah, who lived about 300 years before Herodotus, and whose
remarks are unusually free from local or political prejudice, refers
to Babylon as "the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldic's
excellency," and, yet, while Cheyenne has the electric light and two
daily papers, Babylon hasn't got so much as a skating rink. .

A city fourteen miles square with a brick wall around it 355 feet
high, she has quietly forgotten to advertise, and in turn she, also, is

Babylon was remarkable for the two beautiful palaces, one on each side
of the river, and the great temple of Relus. Connected with one of these
palaces was the hanging garden, regarded by the Greeks as one of the
seven wonders of the world, but that was prior to the erection of the
Washington monument and civil service reform.

This was a square of 400 Greek feet on each side. The Greek foot was
not so long as the modern foot introduced by Miss Mills, of Ohio. This
garden was supported on several tiers of open arches, built one over
the other, like the walls of a classic theatre, and sustaining at each
stage, or story, a solid platform from which the arches of the next
story sprung. This structure was also supported by the common council of
Babylon, who came forward with the city funds, and helped to sustain the
immense weight.

It is presumed that Nebuchadnezzar erected this garden before his mind
became affected. The tower of Belus, supposed by historians with a good
memory to have been 600 feet high, as there is still a red chalk mark
in the sky where the top came, was a great thing in its way. I am glad I
was not contiguous to it when it fell, and also that I had omitted being
born prior to that time.

"When we turn from this picture of the past," says the historian,
Rawlinson, referring to the beauties of Babylon, "to contemplate the
present condition of these localities, we are at first struck with
astonishment at the small traces which remain of so vast and wonderful a
metropolis. The broad walls of Babylon are utterly broken down. God has
swept it with the besom of destruction."

One cannot help wondering why the use of the besom should have been
abandoned. As we gaze upon the former site of Babylon we are forced
to admit that the new besom sweeps clean. On its old site no crumbling
arches or broken columns are found to indicate her former beauty. Here
and there huge heaps of debris alone indicate that here Godless wealth
and wicked, selfish, indolent, enervating, ephemeral pomp, rose and
defied the supreme laws to which the bloated, selfish millionaire
and the hard-handed, hungry laborer alike must bow, and they are dust

Babylon has fallen. I do not say this in a sensational way or to
depreciate the value of real estate there, but from actual observation,
and after a full investigation, I assert without fear of successful
contradiction, that Babylon has seen her best days. Her boomlet is
busted, and, to use a political phrase, her oriental hide is on the

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