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- The Complete Works of Artemus Ward, Part 6 - 6/9 -
Wocky-bocky again rubbed his tomahawk across my face, and said--"Wink-ho--loo-boo!"
Says I--"Mr. Wocky-bocky"--says I--"Wocky--I have thought so for years--and so's all our family."
He told me I must go to the tent of the Strong-Heart and eat raw dog. (While sojourning for a day in a camp of Sioux Indians we were informed that the warriors of the tribe were accustomed to eat raw dog to give them courage previous to going to battle. Artemus was greatly amused with the information. When, in after years, he became weak and languid, and was called upon to go to lecture, it was a favorite joke with him to inquire, "Hingston, have you got any raw dog?") It don't agree with me. I prefer simple food. I prefer pork-pie--because then I know what I'm eating. But as raw dog was all they proposed to give to me --I had to eat it or starve. So at the expiration of two days I seized a tin plate and went to the chief's daughter--and I said to her in a silvery voice--in a kind of German-silvery voice--I said--
"Sweet child of the forest, the pale-face wants his dog."
There was nothing but his paws! I had paused too long! Which reminds me that time passes. A way which time has.
I was told in my youth to seize opportunity. I once tried to seize one. He was rich. He had diamonds on. As I seized him--he knocked me down. Since then I have learned that he who seizes opportunity sees the penitentiary.
(Picture of) The Rocky Mountains.
I take it for granted you have heard of these popular mountains. In America they are regarded as a great success, and we all love dearly to talk about them. It is a kind of weakness with us. I never knew but one American who hadn't something--some time--to say about the Rocky Mountains--and he was a deaf and dumb man, who couldn't say anything about nothing.
But these mountains--whose summits are snow-covered and icy all the year round--are too grand to make fun of. I crossed them in the winter of '64--in a rough sleigh drawn by four mules.
This sparkling waterfall is the Laughing-Water alluded to by Mr. Longfellow in his Indian poem--"Higher-Water." The water is higher up there.
(Picture of) The plains of Colorado.
These are the dreary plains over which we rode for so many weary days. An affecting incident occurred on these plains some time since, which I am sure you will pardon me for introducing here.
On a beautiful June morning--some sixteen years ago--
(Music, very loud till the scene is off.)
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
--and she fainted on Reginald's breast! (At this part of the lecture Artemus pretended to tell a story--the piano playing loudly all the time. He continued his narration in excited dumb-show--his lips moving as though he were speaking. For some minutes the audience indulged in unrestrained laughter.)
(Picture of) The Prairie on Fire.
A prairie on fire is one of the wildest and grandest sights that can be possibly imagined.
These fires occur--of course--in the summer--when the grass is dry as tinder--and the flames rush and roar over the prairie in a manner frightful to behold. They usually burn better than mine is burning to-night. I try to make my prairie burn regularly--and not disappoint the public--but it is not as high-principled as I am. (The scene was a transparent one--the light from behind so managed as to give the effect of the prairie on fire. Artemus enjoyed the joke of letting the fire go out occasionally, and then allowing it to relight itself.)
(Picture of) Brigham Young at home.
The last picture I have to show you represents Mr. Brigham Young in the bosom of his family. His family is large--and the olive branches around his table are in a very tangled condition. He is more a father than any man I know. When at home--as you here see him--he ought to be very happy with sixty wives to minister to his comforts--and twice sixty children to soothe his distracted mind. Ah! my friends-- what is home without a family?
What will become of Mormonism? We all know and admit it to be a hideous wrong--a great immoral strain upon the 'scutcheon of the United States. My belief is that its existence is dependent upon the life of Brigham Young. His administrative ability holds the system together--his power of will maintains it as the faith of a community. When he dies--Mormonism will die too. The men who are around him have neither his talent nor his energy. By means of his strength it is held together. When he falls--Mormonism will also fall to pieces.
That lion--you perceive--has a tail. It is a long one already. Like mine--it is to be continued in our next.
(Reprise of first picture of curtain and footlights.
The curtain fell for the last time on Wednesday, the 23d of January 1867. Artemus Ward had to break off the lecture abruptly. He never lectured again.)
6.3. "THE TIMES" NOTICE.
"EGYPTIAN HALL.--Before a large audience, comprising an extraordinary number of literary celebrities, Mr. Artemus Ward, the noted American humorist, made his first appearance as a public lecturer on Tuesday evening, the place selected for the display of his quaint oratory being the room long tenanted by Mr. Arthur Sketchley. His first entrance on the platform was the signal for loud and continuous laughter and applause, denoting a degree of expectation which a nervous man might have feared to encounter. However, his first sentences, and the way in which they were received, amply sufficed to prove that his success was certain. The dialect of Artemus bears a less evident mark of the Western World than that of many American actors, who would fain merge their own peculiarities in the delineation of English character; but his jokes are of that true Transatlantic type, to which no nation beyond the limits of the States can offer any parallel. These jokes he lets fall with an air of profound unconsciousness--we may almost say melancholy-- which is irresistibly droll, aided as it is by the effect of a figure singularly gaunt and lean and a face to match. And he has found an audience by whom his caustic humor is thoroughly appreciated. Not one of the odd pleasantries slipped out with such imperturbable gravity misses its mark, and scarcely a minute elapses at the end of which the sedate Artemus is not forced to pause till the roar of mirth has subsided. There is certainly this foundation for an entente cordiale between the two countries calling themselves Anglo- Saxon, that the Englishman, puzzled by Yankee politics, thoroughly relishes Yankee jokes, though they are not in the least like his own. When two persons laugh together, they cannot hate each other much so long as the laugh continues.
"The subject of Artemus Ward's lecture is a visit to the Mormons, copiously illustrated by a series of moving pictures, not much to be commended as works of art, but for the most part well enough executed to give (fidelity granted) a notion of life as it is among the remarkable inhabitants of Utah. Nor let the connoisseur, who detects the shortcomings of some of these pictures, fancy that he has discovered a flaw in the armor of the doughty Artemus. That astute gentleman knows their worth as well as anybody else, and while he ostensibly extols them, as a showman is bound to do, he every now and then holds them up to ridicule in a vein of the deepest irony. In one case a palpable error of perspective, by which a man is made equal in size to a mountain, has been purposely committed, and the shouts of laughter that arise as soon as the ridiculous picture appears is tremendous. But there is no mirth in the face of Artemus; he seems even deaf to the roar; and when he proceeds to the explanation of the landscape, he touches on the ridiculous point in a slurring way that provokes a new explosion.
"The particulars of the lecture we need not describe. Many accounts of the Mormons, more or less credible, and all authenticated, have been given by serious historians, and Mr. W.H. Dixon, who has just returned from Utah to London, is said to have brought with him new stores of solid information. But to most of us Mormonism is still a mystery, and under those circumstances a lecturer who has professedly visited a country for the sake more of picking up fun than of sifting facts, and whose chief object it must be to make his narrative amusing, can scarcely be accepted as an authority. We will, therefore, content ourselves with stating that the lecture is entertaining to such a degree that to those who seek amusement its brevity is its only fault; that it is utterly free from offence, though the opportunities for offence given by the subject of Mormonism are obviously numerous; that it is interspersed, not only with irresistible jokes, but with shrewd remarks, proving that Artemus Ward is a man of reflection, as well as a consummate humorist."
6.4. PROGRAMME OF THE EGYPTIAN HALL LECTURE.
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