Edgar Wilson Nye AKA Bill Nye.

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people come here out of curiosity a good deal.

"The reason I try to do right and win the public esteem is that the
general public never did me any harm and the majority of people who
travel are a kind that I may meet in a future state. I should hate to
have a thousand traveling men holding nuggets of rancid ham sandwiches
under my nose through all eternity, and know that I had lied about it.
It's an honest fact, if I knew I'd got to stand up and apologize for
my hand-made, all-around, seamless pies, and quarantine cigars, Heaven
would be no object."


If there be one thing above another that I revel in, it is science.
I have devoted much of my life to scientific research, and though it
hasn't made much stir in the scientific world so far, I am positive that
when I am gone the scientists of our day will miss me, and the rednosed
theorist will come and shed the scalding tear over my humble tomb.

[Illustration: 0191]

My attention was first attracted to insomnia as the foe of the domestic
animal, by the strange appearance of a favorite dog named Lucretia
Borgia. I did not name this animal Lucretia Borgia. He was named when I
purchased him. In his eccentric and abnormal thirst for blood he favored
Lucretia, but in sex he did not. I got him partly because he loved
children. The owner said Lucretia Borgia was an ardent lover of
children, and I found that he was. He seemed to love them best in the
spring of the year, when they were tender. He would have eaten up a
favorite child of mine, if the youngster hadn't left a rubber ball in
his pocket which clogged the glottis of Lucretia till I could get there
and disengage what was left of the child.

Lucretia soon after this began to be restless. He would come to my
casement and lift up his voice, and howl into the bosom of the silent
night. At first I thought that he had found some one in distress, or
wanted to get me out of doors and save my life. I went out several
nights in a weird costume that I had made up of garments belonging to
different members of my family. I dressed carefully in the dark and
stole out to kill the assassin referred to by Lucretia, but he was
not there. Then the faithful animal would run up to me and with almost
human, pleading eyes, hark and run away toward a distant alley. I
immediately decided that some one was suffering there. I had read in
books about dogs that led their masters away to the suffering and saved
people's lives, so when Lucretia came to me with his great, honest eyes
and took little mementoes out of the calf of my leg, and then galloped
off seven or eight blocks, I followed him in the chill air of night and
my Mosaic clothes. I wandered away to where the dog stopped behind
a livery stable, and there lying in a shuddering heap on the frosty
ground, lay the still, white feature of a soup bone that had outlived
its usefulness.

On the way back, I met a physician who had been up town to swear in an
American citizen who would vote twenty-one years later, if he lived.
The physician stopped me and was going to take me to the home of the
overshoes when he discovered who I was.

You wrap a tall man, with a William H. Seward nose, in a flannel robe,
cut plain, and then put a plug hat and a sealskin sacque and Arctic
friendless on him, and put him out in the street, under the gaslight,
with his trim, purple ankles just revealing themselves as he madly
gallops after a hydrophobia infested dog, and it is not, after all,
surprising that people's curiosity should be a little bit excited.

I told the doctor how Lucretia seemed restless nights and nervous and
irritable days, and how he seemed to be almost a mental wreck, and asked
him what the trouble was.

He said it was undoubtedly "insomnia." He said that it was a bad case
of it, too. I told him I thought so myself. I said I didn't mind the
insomnia that Lucretia had so much as I did my own. I was getting more
insomnia on my hands than I could use.

He gave me something to administer to Lucretia. He said I must put it
in a link of sausage where it would appear that I didn't want the dog to
get it, and then Lucretia would eat it greedily.

I did so. It worked well so far as the administration of the remedy was
concerned, but it was fatal to my little, high strung, yearnful dog. It
must have contained something of a deleterious character, for the next
morning a coarse man took Lucretia Borgia by the tail and laid him where
the violets blow. Malignant insomnia is fast becoming the great foe to
the modern American dog.


I have just returned from a brief visit to Duluth. After strolling
along the Bay of Naples and watching old Vesuvius vomit red-hot mud,
vapor and other campaign documents, Duluth is quite a change. The ice in
the bay at Duluth was thirty-eight inches in depth when I left there the
last week in March, and we rode across it with the utmost impunity. By
the time these lines fall beneath the eye of the genial, courteous and
urbane reader, the new railroad bridge across the bay, over a mile and
a half long, will have been completed, so that you may ride from Chicago
to Duluth over the Northwestern and Omaha railroads with great comfort.
I would be glad to digress here and tell about the beauty of the summer
scenery along the Omaha road, and the shy and beautiful troutlet,
and the dark and silent Chippewa squawlet and her little bleached out
pappooselet, were it not for the unkind and cruel thrusts that I would
invoke from the scenery cynic who believes that a newspaper man's
opinions may be largely warped with a pass.

Duluth has been joked a good deal, but she stands it first-rate and
takes it good naturedly. She claims 16,000 people, some of whom I met
at the opera house there. If the rest of the 16,000 are as pleasant as
those I conversed with that evening, Duluth must be a pleasant place to
live in. Duluth has a very pleasant and beautiful opera house that seats
1,000 people. A few more could have elbowed their way into the opera
house the evening that I spoke there, but they preferred to suffer on at

Lake Superior is one of the largest aggregations of fresh wetness in the
world, if not the largest. When I stop to think that some day all this
cold, cold water will have to be absorbed by mankind, it gives me a
cramp in the geographical center.

Around the west end of Lake Superior there is a string of towns which
stretches along the shore for miles under one name or another, all
waiting for the boom to strike and make the Northern Chicago. You cannot
visit Duluth or Superior without feeling that at any moment the tide of
trade will rise and designate the point where the future metropolis
of the Northern lakes is to be. I firmly believe that this summer will
decide it, and my guess is that what is now known as West Superior is to
get the benefit. For many years destiny has been hovering over the
west end of this mighty lake, and now the favored point is going to be
designated. Duluth has past prosperity and expensive improvements in her
favor, and in fact the whole locality is going to be benefited, but if I
had a block in West Superior with a roller rink on it, I would wear
Iny best clothes every day and claim to be a millionaire in disguise.
Ex-President R. B. Hayes has a large brick block in Duluth, but he does
not occupy it. Those who go to Duluth hoping to meet Mr. Hayes will be
bitterly disappointed.

The streams that run into Lake Superior are alive with trout, and next
summer I propose to go up there and roast until I have so thoroughly
saturated my system with trout that the trout bones will stick out
through my clothes in every direction and people will regard me as a
beautiful toothpick holder.

Still there will be a few left for those who think of going up there.
All I will need will be barely enough to feed Albert Victor and myself
from day to day. People who have never seen a crowned head with a peeled
nose on it are cordially invited to come over and see us during office
hours. Albert is not at all haughty, and I intend to throw aside my
usual reserve this summer also - for the time. P. Wales' son and I will
be far from the cares that crowd so thick and fast on greatness. People
who come to our cedar bark wigwam to show us their mosquito bites, will
be received as cordially as though no great social chasm yawned between

Many will meet us in the depths of the forest and go away thinking that
we are just common plugs of whom the world wots not; but there is where
they will fool themselves.

Then, when the season is over, we will come back into the great
maelstrom of life, he to wait for his grandmother's overshoes and I to
thrill waiting millions from the rostrum with my "Tale of the Broncho
Cow." And so it goes with us all. Adown life's rugged pathway some must
toil on from daylight to dark to earn their meagre pittance as kings,
while, others are born to wear a swallow-tail coat every evening and
wring tears of genuine anguish from their audiences.

They tell some rather wide stories about people who have gone up there
total physical wrecks and returned strong and well. One man said that he
knew a young college student, who was all run down and weak, go up there
on the Brule and eat trout and fight mosquitoes a few months, and when
he returned to his Boston home he was so stout and well and tanned
up that his parents did not know him. There was a man in our car who
weighed 300 pounds. He seemed to be boiling out through his clothes
everywhere. He was the happiest looking man I ever saw. All he seemed
to do in this life was to sit all day and whistle and laugh and trot his
stomach, first on one knee and then on the other.

He said that he went up into the pine forests of the Great Lake region
a broken-down hypochondriac and confirmed consumptive. He had been
measured for a funeral sermon three times, he said, and had never used
either of them. He knew a clergyman named Bray-ley who went up into that
region with Bright's justly celebrated disease. He was so emaciated that
he couldn't carry a watch. The ticking of the watch rattled his bones so
that it made him nervous, and at night they had to pack him in cotton so
that he wouldn't break a leg when he turned over. He got to sleeping
out nights on a bed of balsam and spruce boughs and eating venison and

When he came down in the spring, he passed through a car of lumbermen
and one of them put a warm, wet quid of tobacco in his plug hat for a
joke. There were a hundred of these lumbermen when the preacher began,
and when the train got into Eau Claire there were only three of them
well enough to go around to the office and draw their pay.

This is just as the story was given to me and I repeat it to show how
bracing the climate near Superior is. Remember, if you please, that I do
not want the story to be repeated as coming from me, for I have nothing
left now but my reputation for veracity, and that has had a very hard
winter of it.


I think I was about 18 years of age when I decided that I would be a
miller, with flour on my clothes and a salary of $200 per month. This
was not the first thing I had decided to be, and afterward changed my
mind about.

I engaged to learn my profession of a man called Sam Newton, I believe;
at least I will call him that for the sake of argument. My business was
to weigh wheat, deduct as much as possible on account of cockle, pigeon
grass and wild buckwheat, and to chisel the honest farmer out of all he
would stand. This was the programme with Mr. Newton; but I am happy to
say that it met with its reward, and the sheriff afterward operated the

On stormy days I did the book-keeping, with a scoop shovel behind my
ear, in a pile of middlings on the fifth floor. Gradually I drifted into
doing a good deal of this kind of brain work. I would chop the ice out
of the turbine wheel at 5 o'clock a. m., and then frolic up six flights
of stairs and shovel shorts till 9 o'clock p. m.

By shoveling bran and other vegetables 16 hours a day, a general
knowledge of the milling business may be readily obtained. I used to
scoop middlings till I could see stars, and then I would look out at the
landscape and ponder.

I got so that I piled up more ponder, after a while, than I did

One day the proprietor came up stairs and discovered me in a brown
study, whereupon he cursed me in a subdued Presbyterian way, abbreviated
my salary from $26 per month to $18 and reduced me to the ranks.

Afterward I got together enough desultory information so that I could
superintend the feed stone. The feed stone is used to grind hen feed
and other luxuries. One day I noticed an odor that reminded me of a hot
overshoe trying to smother a glue factory at the close of a tropical
day. I spoke to the chief floor walker of the mill about it, and he
said "dod gammit," or something that sounded like that, in a coarse and
brutal manner. He then kicked my person in a rude and hurried tone of
voice, and told me that the feed stone was burning up.

[Illustration: 0203]

He was a very fierce man, with a violent and ungovernable temper, and,
finding that I was only increasing his brutal fury, I afterward resigned
my position. I talked it over with the proprietor, and both agreed that
it would be best. He agreed to it before I did, and rather hurried up my
determination to go.

I rather hated to go so soon, but he made it an object for me to go, and
I went. I started in with the idea that I would begin at the bottom of
the ladder, as it were, and gradually climb to the bran bin by my own
exertions, hoping by honesty, industry, and carrying two bushels of
wheat up nine flights of stairs, to become a wealthy man, with corn meal
in my hair and cracked wheat in my coat pocket, but I did not seem to
accomplish it.

Instead of having ink on my fingers and a chastened look of woe on my
clear-cut Grecian features, I might have poured No. 1 hard wheat and
buckwheat flour out of my long taper ears every night, if I had stuck to
the profession. Still, as I say, it was for another man's best good
that I resigned. The head miller had no control over himself and the
proprietor had rather set his heart on my resignation, so it was better
that way.

Still I like to roll around in the bran pile, and monkey in the cracked
wheat. I love also to go out in the kitchen and put corn meal down
the back of the cook's neck while my wife is working a purple silk
Kensington dog, with navy blue mane and tail, on a gothic lambrequin.

I can never cease to hanker for the rumble and grumble of the busy mill,
and the solemn murmur of the millstones and the machinery are music to
me. More so than the solemn murmur of the proprietor used to be when
he came in at an inopportune moment, and in that impromptu and
extemporaneous manner of his, and found me admiring the wild and
beautiful scenery. He may have been a good miller, but he had no love
for the beautiful. Perhaps that is why he was always so cold and cruel
toward me. My slender, willowy grace and mellow, bird-like voice never
seemed to melt his stony heart.


Seattle, W. T., December 12. - I am up here on the Sound in two senses.
I rode down today from Tacoma on the Sound, and to-night I shall lecture
at Frye's Opera House.

Seattle is a good town. The name lacks poetic warmth, but some day the
man who has invested in Seattle real estate will have reason to pat
himself on the back and say "ha ha," or words to that effect. The city
is situated on the side of a large hill and commands a very fine view of
that world's most calm and beautiful collection of water, Puget Sound.

I cannot speak too highly of any sheet of water on which I can ride all
day with no compunction of digestion. He who has tossed for days upon
the briny deep, will understand this and appreciate it; even if he never
tossed upon the angry deep, if it happened to be all he had, he will
be glad to know that the Sound is a good piece of water to ride on. The
gentle reader who has crossed the raging main and borrowed high-priced
meals of the steamship company for days and days, will agree with me
that when we can find a smooth piece of water to ride on we should lose
no time in crossing it.

In Washington Territory the women vote. That is no novelty to me, of
course, for I lived in Wyoming for seven years where women vote, and I
held office all the time. And still they say that female voters are poor
judges of men, and that any pleasing $2 Adonis who comes along and asks
for their suffrages will get them.

Not much!!!

Woman is a keen and correct judge of mental and moral worth. Without
stopping to give logical reasons for her course, perhaps, she still
chooses with unerring judgment at the polls.

Anyone who doubts this statement, will do well to go to the old poll
books in Wyoming and examine my overwhelming majorities - with a powerful

I have just received from Boston a warm invitation to be present in that
city on Forefathers' day, to take part in the ceremonies and join in the
festivities of that occasion.

Forefathers, I thank you! Though this reply will not reach you for a
long time, perhaps, I desire to express to you my deep appreciation
of your kindness, and, though I can hardly be regarded as a forefather
myself, I assure you that I sympathize with you.

Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to be with you on this day
of your general jubilee and to talk over old times with you.

One who has never experienced the thrill of genuine joy that wakens a
man to a glad realization of the fact that he is a forefather, cannot
understand its full significance. You alone know how it is yourself; you
can speak from experience.

In fancy's dim corridors I see you stand, away back in the early dawn
of our national day, with the tallow candle drooping and dying in its
socket, as you waited for the physician to come and announce to you that
you were a forefather.

Forefathers, you have done well. Others have sought to outdo you
and wrest the laurels from your brow, but they did not succeed. As
forefathers you have never been successfully scooped.

T hope that you will keep up your justly celebrated organization. If a
forefather allows his dues to get in arrears, go to him kindly and ask
him like a brother to put up. If he refuses to do so, fire him. There
is no reason why a man should presume upon his long standing as a
forefather to become insolent to other forefathers who are far his
seniors. As a rule, I notice it is the young amateur forefather, who has
only been so a few days, in fact, who is arrogant and disobedient.

I have often wished that we could observe Forefathers' day more
generally in the West. Why we should allow the Eastern cities to outdo
us in this matter, while we hold over them in other ways, I cannot
understand. Our church sociables and homicides in the West will compare
favorably with those of the effeter cities of the Atlantic slope.
Our educational institutions and embezzlers are making rapid strides,
especially our embezzlers. We are cultivating a certain air of
refinement and haughty reserve which enables us at times to fool the
best judges. Many of our Western people have been to the Atlantic
seaboard and remained all summer without falling into the hands of the
bunko artist. A cow gentleman friend of mine who bathed his plumb limbs
in the Atlantic last summer during the day, and mixed himself up in
the mazy dance at night, told me on his return that he had enjoyed the
summer immensely, but that he had returned financially depressed..

"Ah," said I, with an air of superiority which I often assume while
talking to men who know more than I do, "you fell into the hands of the
cultivated confidence man?"

"No, William," he said sadly, "worse than that. I stopped at a seaside
hotel. Had I gone to New York City and hunted up the gentlemanly bunko
man and the Wall street dealer in lambs' pelts, as my better judgment
prompted, I might have returned with funds. Now I am almost insolvent.
I begin life again with great sorrow, and the same old Texas steer with
which I went into the cattle industry five years ago."

But why should we, here in the West, take readily to all other
institutions common to the cultured East and ignore the forefather
industry? I now make this public announcement, and will stick to it,
viz.; I will be one of ten full-blooded American citizens to establish
a branch forefather's lodge in the West, with a separate fund set aside
for the benefit of forefathers who are no longer young. Forefathers are
just as apt to become old and helpless as anyone else. Young men who
contemplate becoming forefathers should remember this.


To the Metropolitan Guide Publishing Co.,

New York.

Gentlemen. - I received the copy of your justly celebrated "Guide to
Rapid Affluence, or How to Acquire Wealth Without Mental Exertion,"
price twenty-five cents. It is a great boon.

I have now had this book sixteen weeks, and, as I am wealthy enough, I
return it. It is not much worn, and if you will allow me fifteen cents
for it, I would be very grateful. It is not the intrinsic value of
the fifteen cents that I care for so much, but I would like it as a

The book is wonderfully graphic and thorough in its details, and I was
especially pleased with its careful and useful recipe for ointments. One
style of ointment spoken of and recommended by your valuable book,
is worthy of a place in history. I made some of it according to your
formula. I tried it on a friend of mine. He wore it when he went away,
and he has not as yet returned. I heard, incidentally, that it adhered
to him. People who have examined it say that it retains its position on
his person similar to a birthmark.

Your cement does not have the same peculiarity. It does everything but
adhere. Among other specialties it affects a singular odor. It has a
fragrance that ought to be utilized in some way. Men have harnessed the
lightning, and it seems to me that the day is not far distant when a man
will be raised up who can control this latent power. Do you not think
that possibly you have made a mistake and got your ointment and
cement formula mixed? Your cement certainly smells like a corrupt
administration in a warm room.

Your revelations in the liquor manufacture, and how to make any mixed
drink with one hand tied, is well worth the price of the book. The
chapter on bar etiquette is also excellent.

Very few men know how to properly enter a bar-room and what to do after
they arrive. How to get into a bar-room without attracting attention,
and how to get out without police interference are points upon which our
American drunkards are lamentably ignorant.

How to properly address a bar tender, is also a page that no student of
good breeding could well omit.

I was greatly surprised to read how simple the manufacture of drinks
under your formula is. You construct a cocktail without liquor and then
rob intemperance of its sting. You also make all kinds of liquor without
the use of alcohol, that demon under whose iron heel thousands of our
sons and brothers go down to death and delirium annually. Thus you are
doing a good work.

You also unite aloes, tobacco and Rough on Rats, and, by a happy
combination, construct a style of beer that is non-intoxicating.

No one could, by any possible means, become intoxicated on your justly
celebrated beer. He would not have time. Before he could get inebriated
he would be in the New Jerusalem.

Those who drink your beer will not fill drunkards' graves. They will
close their career and march out of this life with perforated stomachs
and a look of intense anguish.

Your method of making cider without apples is also frugal and ingenious.
Thousands of innocent apple worms annually lose their lives in
the manufacture of cider. They are also, in most instances, wholly
unprepared to die. By your method, a style of wormless cider is
constructed that would not fool anyone. It tastes a good deal like rain
water that was rained about the first time that any raining was ever
done, and was deprived of air ever since.

[Illustration: 0213]

The closing chapter on the subject of "How to win the affections of
the opposite sex at sixty yards," is first-rate. It is wonderful what
triumph science and inventions have wrenched from obdurate conditions!
Only a few years ago, a young man had to work hard for weeks and months
in order to win the love of a noble young woman. Now, with your valuable

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Online LibraryEdgar Wilson Nye AKA Bill NyeBill Nye's Red Book → online text (page 7 of 14)