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- The Complete Works of Artemus Ward, Part 3 - 5/8 -




Nestling among the grand hills of New Hampshire, in the United States of America, is a village called Waterbury.

Perhaps you were never there.

I do not censure you if you never were.

One can get on very well without going to Waterbury.

Indeed, there are millions of meritorious persons who were never there, and yet they are happy.

In this peaceful hamlet lived a young man named Pettingill.

Reuben Pettingill.

He was an agriculturist.

A broad-shouldered, deep-chested agriculturist.

He was contented to live in this peaceful hamlet.

He said it was better than a noisy Othello.

Thus do these simple children of nature joke in a first class manner.


I write this romance in the French style.

Yes: something that way.

The French style consists of making just as many paragraphs as possible.

Thus one may fill up a column in a very short time.

I am paid by the column, and the quicker I can fill up a column-- but this is a matter to which we will not refer.

We will let this matter pass.


Reuben Pettingill was extremely industrious.

He worked hard all the year round on his father's little farm.

Right he was!

Industry is a very fine thing.

It is one of the finest things of which we have any knowledge.

Yet do not frown, "do not weep for me," when I state that I don't like it.

It doesn't agree with me.

I prefer indolence.

I am happiest when I am idle.

I could live for months without performing any kind of labour, and at the expiration of that time I should feel fresh and vigorous enough to go right on in the same way for numerous more months.

This should not surprise you.

Nothing that a modern novelist does should excite astonishment in any well-regulated mind.


The 4th of July is always celebrated in America with guns, and processions, and banners, and all those things.

You know why we celebrate this day.

The American Revolution, in 1775, was perhaps one of the finest revolutions that was ever seen. But I have not time to give you a full history of the American Revolution. It would consume years to do it, and I might weary you.

One 4th of July Reuben Pettingill went to Boston.

He saw great sights.

He saw the dense throng of people, the gay volunteers, the banners, and, above all, he saw the fireworks.

I despise myself for using so low a word, but the fireworks "licked" him.

A new world was opened to this young man.

He returned to his parents and the little farm among the hills, with his heart full of fireworks.

He said, "I will make some myself."

He said this while eating a lobster on top of the coach.

He was an extraordinary skilful young man in the use of a common clasp-knife.

With that simple weapon he could make, from soft wood, horses, dogs, cats, etc. He carved excellent soldiers also.

I remember his masterpiece.

It was "Napoleon crossing the Alps."

Looking at it critically, I should say it was rather short of Alps.

An Alp or two more would have improved it; but, as a whole, it was a wonderful piece of work; and what a wonderful piece of work is a wooden man, when his legs and arms are all right.


He said, "I can make just as good fireworks as them in Boston."

"Them" was not grammatical, but why care for grammar as long as we are good?


Pettingill neglected the farm.

He said that it might till itself--he should manufacture some gorgeous fireworks, and exhibit them on the village green on the next 4th of July.

He said the Eagle of Fame would flap his wings over their humble roof ere many months should pass away.

"If he does," said old Mr. Pettingill, "we must shoot him and bile him, and eat him, because we shall be rather short of meat, my son, if you go on in this lazy way."

And the old man wept.

He shed over 120 gallons of tears.

That is to say, a puncheon. But by all means let us avoid turning this romance into a farce.


But the headstrong young man went to work, making fireworks.

He bought and carefully studied a work on pyrotechny.

The villagers knew that he was a remarkably skilful young man, and they all said, "We shall have a great treat next 4th of July."

Meanwhile Pettingill worked away.


The great day came at last.

Thousands poured into the little village from far and near.

There was an oration, of course.


Yes; there was an oration.

We have a passion for oratory in America--political oratory chiefly.

Our political orators never lose a chance to "express their views."

They will do it. You cannot stop them.

There was an execution in Ohio one day, and the Sheriff, before placing the rope round the murderer's neck, asked him if he had any remarks to make?

"If he hasn't," said a well-known local orator, pushing his way rapidly through the dense crowd to the gallows--"if our ill-starred feller-citizen don't feel inclined to make a speech and is in no hurry, I should like to avail myself of the present occasion to make some remarks on the necessity of a new protective tariff!"

The Complete Works of Artemus Ward, Part 3 - 5/8

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