To the Person Sitting in Darkness, by Mark Twain

For those absolutely devoid of scruples, charity fraud is the field par excellance, in which you can simultaneously harvest kudos for your humanitarianism and make off with vast bundles of untaxed cash. Convictions for charity fraud are so rare as to be nonexistent, so any criminals operating in other fields of endeavor are incurring unnecessary risks.

To the Person Sitting in Darkness, by Mark Twain

Postby admin » Fri Jun 29, 2018 6:53 am

To the Person Sitting in Darkness
by Mark Twain
North American Review, No. CLXXXI.
February, 1901
© 1901, by The North American Review Publishing Company



"Christmas will dawn in the United States over a people full of hope and aspiration and good cheer. Such a condition means contentment and happiness. The carping grumbler who may here and there go forth will find few to listen to him. The majority will wonder what is the matter with him and pass on." -- New York Tribune, on Christmas Eve.

From The Sun, of New York:

"The purpose of this article is not to describe the terrible offences against humanity committed in the name of Politics in some of the most notorious East Side districts. They could not be described, even verbally. But it is the intention to let the great mass of more or less careless citizens of this beautiful metropolis of the New World get some conception of the havoc and ruin wrought to man, woman and child in the most densely populated and least known section of the city. Name, date and place can be supplied to those of little faith or to any man who feels himself aggrieved. It is a plain statement of record and observation, written without license and without garnish.

"Imagine, if you can, a section of the city territory completely dominated by one man, without whose permission neither legitimate nor illegitimate business can be conducted; where illegitimate business is encouraged and legitimate business discouraged; where the respectable residents have to fasten their doors and windows summer nights and sit in their rooms with asphyxiating air and 100-degree temperature, rather than try to catch the faint whiff of breeze in their natural breathing places, the stoops of their homes; where naked women dance by night in the streets, and unsexed men prowl like vultures through the darkness on 'business' not only permitted but encouraged by the police; where the education of infants begins with the knowledge of prostitution and the training of little girls is training in the arts of Phryne; where American girls brought up with the refinements of American homes are imported from small towns up-State, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey, and kept as virtually prisoners as if they were locked up behind jail bars until they have lost all semblance of womanhood; where small boys are taught to solicit for the women of disorderly houses; where there is an organized society of young men whose sole business in life is to corrupt young girls and turn them over to bawdy houses; where men walking with their wives along the street are openly insulted; where children that have adult diseases are the chief patrons of the hospitals and dispensaries; where it is the rule, rather than the exception, that murder, rape, robbery and theft go unpunished -- in short where the Premium of the most awful forms of Vice is the Profit of the politicians."

The following news from China appeared in The Sun, of New York, on Christmas Eve. The italics are mine:

"The Rev. Mr. Ament, of the American Board of Foreign Missions, has returned from a trip which he made for the purpose of collecting indemnities for damages done by Boxers. Everywhere he went he compelled the Chinese to pay. He says that all his native Christians are now provided for. He had 700 of them under his charge, and 300 were killed. He has collected 300 taels for each of these murders, and has compelled full payment for all the property belonging to Christians that was destroyed. He also assessed fines amounting to THIRTEEN TIMES the amount of the indemnity. This money will be used for the propagation of the Gospel.

"Mr. Ament declares that the compensation he has collected is moderate, when compared with the amount secured by the Catholics, who demand, in addition to money, head for head. They collect 500 taels for each murder of a Catholic. In the Wenchiu country, 680 Catholics were killed, and for this the European Catholics here demand 750,000 strings of cash and 680 heads.

"In the course of a conversation, Mr. Ament referred to the attitude of the missionaries toward the Chinese. He said:

"'I deny emphatically that the missionaries are vindictive, that they generally looted, or that they have done anything since the siege that the circumstances did not demand. I criticise the Americans. The soft hand of the Americans is not as good as the mailed fist of the Germans. If you deal with the Chinese with a soft hand they will take advantage of it.'

"The statement that the French Government will return the loot taken by the French soldiers, is the source of the greatest amusement here. The French soldiers were more systematic looters than the Germans, and it is a fact that to-day Catholic Christians, carrying French flags and armed with modern guns*, are looting villages in the Province of Chili."

By happy luck, we get all these glad tidings on Christmas Eve -- just in time to enable us to celebrate the day with proper gaiety and enthusiasm. Our spirits soar, and we find we can even make jokes: Taels I win, Heads you lose.

Our Reverend Ament is the right man in the right place. What we want of our missionaries out there is, not that they shall merely represent in their acts and persons the grace and gentleness and charity and loving kindness of our religion, but that they shall also represent the American spirit. The oldest Americans are the Pawnees. Macallum's History says:

"When a white Boxer kills a Pawnee and destroys his property, the other Pawnees do not trouble to seek him out, they kill any white person that comes along; also, they make some white village pay deceased's heirs the full cash value of deceased, together with full cash value of the property destroyed; they also make the village pay, in addition, thirteen times the value of that property into a fund for the dissemination of the Pawnee religion, which they regard as the best of all religions for the softening and humanizing of the heart of man. It is their idea that it is only fair and right that the innocent should be made to suffer for the guilty, and that it is better that ninety and nine innocent should suffer than that one guilty person should escape."

Our Reverend Ament is justifiably jealous of those enterprising Catholics, who not only get big money for each lost convert, but get "head for head" besides. But he should soothe himself with the reflection that the entirety of their exactions are for their own pockets, whereas he, less selfishly, devotes only 300 taels per head to that service, and gives the whole vast thirteen repetitions of the property-indemnity to the service of propagating the Gospel. His magnanimity has won him the approval of his nation, and will get him a monument. Let him be content with these rewards. We all hold him dear for manfully defending his fellow missionaries from exaggerated charges which were beginning to distress us, but which his testimony has so considerably modified that we can now contemplate them without noticeable pain. For now we know that, even before the siege, the missionaries were not "generally" out looting, and that, "since the siege," they have acted quite handsomely, except when "circumstances" crowded them. I am arranging for the monument. Subscriptions for it can be sent to the American Board; designs for it can be sent to me. Designs must allegorically set forth the Thirteen Reduplications of the Indemnity, and the Object for which they were exacted; as Ornaments, the designs must exhibit 680 Heads, so disposed as to give a pleasing and pretty effect; for the Catholics have done nicely, and are entitled to notice in the monument. Mottoes may be suggested, if any shall be discovered that will satisfactorily cover the ground.

Mr. Ament's financial feat of squeezing a thirteen-fold indemnity out of the pauper peasants to square other people's offenses, thus condemning them and their women and innocent little children to inevitable starvation and lingering death, in order that the blood-money so acquired might be "used for the propagation of the Gospel" does not flutter my serenity; although the act and the words, taken together, concrete a blasphemy so hideous and so colossal that, without doubt, its mate is not findable in the history of this or of any other age. Yet, if a layman had done that thing and justified it with those words, I should have shuddered, I know. Or, if I had done the thing and said the words myself -- however, the thought is unthinkable, irreverent as some imperfectly informed people think me. Sometimes an ordained minister sets out to be blasphemous. When this happens, the layman is out of the running; he stands no chance.

We have Mr. Ament's impassioned assurance that the missionaries are not "vindictive." Let us hope and pray that they will never become so, but will remain in the almost morbidly fair and just and gentle temper which is affording so much satisfaction to their brother and champion to-day.

The following is from the New York Tribune, of Christmas Eve. It comes from that journal's Tokio correspondent. It has a strange and impudent sound, but the Japanese are but partially civilized as yet. When they become wholly civilized they will not talk so:

"The missionary question, of course, occupies a foremost place in the discussion. It is now felt as essential that the Western Powers take cognizance of the sentiment here, that religious invasions of Oriental countries by powerful Western organizations are tantamount to filibustering expeditions, and should not only be discountenanced, but that stern measures should be adopted for their suppression. The feeling here is that the missionary organizations constitute a constant menace to peaceful international relations."

Shall we? That is, shall we go on conferring our Civilization upon the peoples that sit in darkness, or shall we give those poor things a rest? Shall we bang right ahead in our old-time, loud, pious way, and commit the new century to the game; or shall we sober up and sit down and think it over first? Would it not be prudent to get our Civilization-tools together, and see how much stock is left on hand in the way of Glass Beads and Theology, and Maxim Guns and Hymn Books, and Trade-Gin and Torches of Progress and Enlightenment (patent adjustable ones, good to fire villages with, upon occasion), and balance the books, and arrive at the profit and loss, so that we may intelligently decide whether to continue the business or sell out the property and start a new Civilization Scheme on the proceeds?

Extending the Blessings of Civilization to our Brother who Sits in Darkness has been a good trade and has paid well, on the whole; and there is money in it yet, if carefully worked but not enough, in my judgment, to make any considerable risk advisable. The People that Sit in Darkness are getting to be too scarce -- too scarce and too shy. And such darkness as is now left is really of but an indifferent quality, and not dark enough for the game. The most of those People that Sit in Darkness have been furnished with more light than was good for them or profitable for us. We have been injudicious.

The Blessings-of-Civilization Trust, wisely and cautiously administered, is a Daisy. There is more money in it, more territory, more sovereignty, and other kinds of emolument, than there is in any other game that is played. But Christendom has been playing it badly of late years, and must certainly suffer by it, in my opinion. She has been so eager to get every stake that appeared on the green cloth, that the People who Sit in Darkness have noticed it -- they have noticed it, and have begun to show alarm. They have become suspicious of the Blessings of Civilization. More -- they have begun to examine them. This is not well. The Blessings of Civilization are all right, and a good commercial property; there could not be a better, in a dim light. In the right kind of a light, and at a proper distance, with the goods a little out of focus, they furnish this desirable exhibit to the Gentlemen who Sit in Darkness:


-- and so on.

There. Is it good? Sir, it is pie. It will bring into camp any idiot that sits in darkness anywhere. But not if we adulterate it. It is proper to be emphatic upon that point. This brand is strictly for Export -- apparently. Apparently. Privately and confidentially, it is nothing of the kind. Privately and confidentially, it is merely an outside cover, gay and pretty and attractive, displaying the special patterns of our Civilization which we reserve for Home Consumption, while inside the bale is the Actual Thing that the Customer Sitting in Darkness buys with his blood and tears and land and liberty.
That Actual Thing is, indeed, Civilization, but it is only for Export. Is there a difference between the two brands? In some of the details, yes.

We all know that the Business is being ruined. The reason is not far to seek. It is because our Mr. McKinley, and Mr. Chamberlain, and the Kaiser, and the Czar and the French have been exporting the Actual Thing with the outside cover left off. This is bad for the Game. It shows that these new players of it are not sufficiently acquainted with it.

It is a distress to look on and note the mismoves, they are so strange and so awkward. Mr. Chamberlain manufactures a war out of materials so inadequate and so fanciful that they make the boxes grieve and the gallery laugh, and he tries hard to persuade himself that it isn't purely a private raid for cash, but has a sort of dim, vague respectability about it somewhere, if he could only find the spot; and that, by and by, he can scour the flag clean again after he has finished dragging it through the mud, and make it shine and flash in the vault of heaven once more as it had shone and flashed there a thousand years in the world's respect until he laid his unfaithful hand upon it. It is bad play -- bad. For it exposes the Actual Thing to Them that Sit in Darkness, and they say: "What! Christian against Christian? And only for money? Is this a case of magnanimity, forbearance, love, gentleness, mercy, protection of the weak -- this strange and over-showy onslaught of an elephant upon a nest of field-mice, on the pretext that the mice had squeaked an insolence at him -- conduct which 'no self-respecting government could allow to pass unavenged?' as Mr. Chamberlain said. Was that a good pretext in a small case, when it had not been a good pretext in a large one? -- for only recently Russia had affronted the elephant three times and survived alive and unsmitten. Is this Civilization and Progress? Is it something better than we already possess? These harryings and burnings and desert-makings in the Transvaal -- is this an improvement on our darkness? Is it, perhaps, possible that there are two kinds of Civilization -- one for home consumption and one for the heathen market?"

Then They that Sit in Darkness are troubled, and shake their heads; and they read this extract from a letter of a British private, recounting his exploits in one of Methuen's victories, some days before the affair of Magersfontein, and they are troubled again:

"We tore up the hill and into the intrenchments, and the Boers saw we had them; so they dropped their guns and went down on their knees and put up their hands clasped, and begged for mercy. And we gave it them -- with the long spoon."

The long spoon is the bayonet. See Lloyd's Weekly, London, of those days. The same number -- and the same column -- contained some quite unconscious satire in the form of shocked and bitter upbraidings of the Boers for their brutalities and inhumanities!

Next, to our heavy damage, the Kaiser went to playing the game without first mastering it. He lost a couple of missionaries in a riot in Shantung, and in his account he made an overcharge for them. China had to pay a hundred thousand dollars apiece for them, in money; twelve miles of territory, containing several millions of inhabitants and worth twenty million dollars; and to build a monument, and also a Christian church; whereas the people of China could have been depended upon to remember the missionaries without the help of these expensive memorials. This was all bad play. Bad, because it would not, and could not, and will not now or ever, deceive the Person Sitting in Darkness. He knows that it was an overcharge. He knows that a missionary is like any other man: he is worth merely what you can supply his place for, and no more. He is useful, but so is a doctor, so is a sheriff, so is an editor; but a just Emperor does not charge war-prices for such. A diligent, intelligent, but obscure missionary, and a diligent, intelligent country editor are worth much, and we know it; but they are not worth the earth. We esteem such an editor, and we are sorry to see him go; but, when he goes, we should consider twelve miles of territory, and a church, and a fortune, over-compensation for his loss. I mean, if he was a Chinese editor, and we had to settle for him. It is no proper figure for an editor or a missionary; one can get shop-worn kings for less. It was bad play on the Kaiser's part. It got this property, true; but it produced the Chinese revolt, the indignant uprising of China's traduced patriots, the Boxers. The results have been expensive to Germany, and to the other Disseminators of Progress and the Blessings of Civilization.

The Kaiser's claim was paid, yet it was bad play, for it could not fail to have an evil effect upon Persons Sitting in Darkness in China. They would muse upon the event, and be likely to say: "Civilization is gracious and beautiful, for such is its reputation; but can we afford it? There are rich Chinamen, perhaps they could afford it; but this tax is not laid upon them, it is laid upon the peasants of Shantung; it is they that must pay this mighty sum, and their wages are but four cents a day. Is this a better civilization than ours, and holier and higher and nobler? Is not this rapacity? Is not this extortion? Would Germany charge America two hundred thousand dollars for two missionaries, and shake the mailed fist in her face, and send warships, and send soldiers, and say: 'Seize twelve miles of territory, worth twenty millions of dollars, as additional pay for the missionaries; and make those peasants build a monument to the missionaries, and a costly Christian church to remember them by?' And later would Germany say to her soldiers: 'March through America and slay, giving no quarter; make the German face there, as has been our Hun-face here, a terror for a thousand years; march through the Great Republic and slay, slay, slay, carving a road for our offended religion through its heart and bowels?' Would Germany do like this to America, to England, to France, to Russia? Or only to China the helpless -- imitating the elephant's assault upon the field-mice?
Had we better invest in this Civilization -- this Civilization which called Napoleon a buccaneer for carrying off Venice's bronze horses, but which steals our ancient astronomical instruments from our walls, and goes looting like common bandits -- that is, all the alien soldiers except America's; and (Americans again excepted) storms frightened villages and cables the result to glad journals at home every day: 'Chinese losses, 450 killed; ours, one officer and two men wounded. Shall proceed against neighboring village to-morrow, where a massacre is reported.' Can we afford Civilization?"

And, next, Russia must go and play the game injudiciously. She affronts England once or twice -- with the Person Sitting in Darkness observing and noting; by moral assistance of France and Germany, she robs Japan of her hard-earned spoil, all swimming in Chinese blood -- Port Arthur -- with the Person again observing and noting; then she seizes Manchuria, raids its villages, and chokes its great river with the swollen corpses of countless massacred peasants -- that astonished Person still observing and noting. And perhaps he is saying to himself: "It is yet another Civilized Power, with its banner of the Prince of Peace in one hand and its loot-basket and its butcher-knife in the other. Is there no salvation for us but to adopt Civilization and lift our selves down to its level?"

And by and by comes America, and our Master of the Game plays it badly -- plays it as Mr. Chamberlain was playing it in South Africa. It was a mistake to do that; also, it was one which was quite unlooked for in a Master who was playing it so well in Cuba. In Cuba, he was playing the usual and regular American game, and it was winning, for there is no way to beat it. The Master, contemplating Cuba, said: "Here is an oppressed and friendless little nation which is willing to fight to be free; we go partners, and put up the strength of seventy million sympathizers and the resources of the United States: play!" Nothing but Europe combined could call that hand: and Europe cannot combine on anything. There, in Cuba, he was following our great traditions in a way which made us very proud of him, and proud of the deep dissatisfaction which his play was provoking in Continental Europe. Moved by a high inspiration, he threw out those stirring words which proclaimed that forcible annexation would be "criminal aggression;" and in that utterance fired another "shot heard round the world." The memory of that fine saying will be outlived by the remembrance of no act of his but one -- that he forgot it within the twelvemonth, and its honorable gospel along with it.

For, presently, came the Philippine temptation. It was strong; it was too strong, and he made that bad mistake: he played the European game, the Chamberlain game. It was a pity; it was a great pity, that error; that one grievous error, that irrevocable error. For it was the very place and time to play the American game again. And at no cost. Rich winnings to be gathered in, too; rich and permanent; indestructible; a fortune transmissible forever to the children of the flag. Not land, not money, not dominion -- no, something worth many times more than that dross: our share, the spectacle of a nation of long harassed and persecuted slaves set free through our influence; our posterity's share, the golden memory of that fair deed. The game was in our hands. If it had been played according to the American rules, Dewey would have sailed away from Manila as soon as he had destroyed the Spanish fleet -- after putting up a sign on shore guaranteeing foreign property and life against damage by the Filipinos, and warning the Powers that interference with the emancipated patriots would be regarded as an act unfriendly to the United States. The Powers cannot combine, in even a bad cause, and the sign would not have been molested.

Dewey could have gone about his affairs elsewhere, and left the competent Filipino army to starve out the little Spanish garrison and send it home, and the Filipino citizens to set up the form of government they might prefer, and deal with the friars and their doubtful acquisitions according to Filipino ideas of fairness and justice -- ideas which have since been tested and found to be of as high an order as any that prevail in Europe or America.

But we played the Chamberlain game, and lost the chance to add another Cuba and another honorable deed to our good record.

The more we examine the mistake, the more clearly we perceive that it is going to be bad for the Business. The Person Sitting in Darkness is almost sure to say: "There is something curious about this -- curious and unaccountable. There must be two Americas: one that sets the captive free, and one that takes a once-captive's new freedom away from him, and picks a quarrel with him with nothing to found it on; then kills him to get his land."

The truth is, the Person Sitting in Darkness is saying things like that; and for the sake of the Business we must persuade him to look at the Philippine matter in another and healthier way. We must arrange his opinions for him. I believe it can be done; for Mr. Chamberlain has arranged England's opinion of the South African matter, and done it most cleverly and successfully. He presented the facts -- some of the facts -- and showed those confiding people what the facts meant. He did it statistically, which is a good way. Pie used the formula: "Twice 2 are 14, and 2 from 9 leaves 35." Figures are effective; figures will convince the elect.

Now, my plan is a still bolder one than Mr. Chamberlain's, though apparently a copy of it. Let us be franker than Mr. Chamberlain; let us audaciously present the whole of the facts, shirking none, then explain them according to Mr. Chamberlain's formula. This daring truthfulness will astonish and dazzle the Person Sitting in Darkness, and he will take the Explanation down before his mental vision has had time to get back into focus. Let us say to him:

"'Our case is simple. On the 1st of May, Dewey destroyed the Spanish fleet. This left the Archipelago in the hands of its proper and rightful owners, the Filipino nation. Their army numbered 30,000 men, and they were competent to whip out or starve out the little Spanish garrison; then the people could set up a government of their own devising. Our traditions required that Dewey should now set up his warning sign, and go away. But the Master of the Game happened to think of another plan -- the European plan. He acted upon it. This was, to send out an army -- ostensibly to help the native patriots put the finishing touch upon their long and plucky struggle for independence, but really to take their land away from them and keep it. That is, in the interest of Progress and Civilization. The plan developed, stage by stage, and quite satisfactorily. We entered into a military alliance with the trusting Filipinos, and they hemmed in Manila on the land side, and by their valuable help the place, with its garrison of 8,000 or 10,000 Spaniards, was captured -- a thing which we could not have accomplished unaided at that time. We got their help by -- by ingenuity. We knew they were fighting for their independence, and that they had been at it for two years. We knew they supposed that we also were fighting in their worthy cause -- just as we had helped the Cubans fight for Cuban independence -- and we allowed them to go on thinking so. Until Manila was ours and we could get along without them. Then we showed our hand. Of course, they were surprised -- that was natural; surprised and disappointed; disappointed and grieved. To them it looked un-American; uncharacteristic; foreign to our established traditions. And this was natural, too; for we were only playing the American Game in public -- in private it was the European. It was neatly done, very neatly, and it bewildered them. They could not understand it; for we had been so friendly -- so affectionate, even -- with those simple-minded patriots! We, our own selves, had brought back out of exile their leader, their hero, their hope, their Washington -- Aguinaldo; brought him in a warship, in high honor, under the sacred shelter and hospitality of the flag; brought him back and restored him to his people, and got their moving and eloquent gratitude for it. Yes, we had been so friendly to them, and had heartened them up in so many ways! We had lent them guns and ammunition; advised with them; exchanged pleasant courtesies with them; placed our sick and wounded in their kindly care; entrusted our Spanish prisoners to their humane and honest hands; fought shoulder to shoulder with them against "the common enemy" (our own phrase); praised their courage, praised their gallantry, praised their mercifulness, praised their fine and honorable conduct; borrowed their trenches, borrowed strong positions which they had previously captured from the Spaniard; petted them, lied to them -- officially proclaiming that our land and naval forces came to give them their freedom and displace the bad Spanish Government -- fooled them, used them until we needed them no longer; then derided the sucked orange and threw it away. We kept the positions which we had beguiled them of; by and by, we moved a force forward and overlapped patriot ground -- a clever thought, for we needed trouble, and this would produce it. A Filipino soldier, crossing the ground, where no one had a right to forbid him, was shot by our sentry. The badgered patriots resented this with arms, without waiting to know whether Aguinaldo, who was absent, would approve or not. Aguinaldo did not approve; but that availed nothing. What we wanted, in the interest of Progress and Civilization, was the Archipelago, unencumbered by patriots struggling for independence; and War was what we needed. We clinched our opportunity. It is Mr. Chamberlain's case over again -- at least in its motive and intention; and we played the game as adroitly as he played it himself."

At this point in our frank statement of fact to the Person Sitting in Darkness, we should throw in a little trade-taffy about the Blessings of Civilization -- for a change, and for the refreshment of his spirit -- then go on with our tale:

"We and the patriots having captured Manila, Spain's ownership of the Archipelago and her sovereignty over it were at an end -- obliterated -- annihilated -- not a rag or shred of either remaining behind. It was then that we conceived the divinely humorous idea of buying both of these spectres from Spain! [It is quite safe to confess this to the Person Sitting in Darkness, since neither he nor any other sane person will believe it.] In buying those ghosts for twenty millions, we also contracted to take care of the friars and their accumulations. I think we also agreed to propagate leprosy and smallpox, but as to this there is doubt. But it is not important; persons afflicted with the friars do not mind other diseases.

"With our Treaty ratified, Manila subdued, and our Ghosts secured, we had no further use for Aguinaldo and the owners of the Archipelago. We forced a war, and we have been hunting America's guest and ally through the woods and swamps ever since."

At this point in the tale, it will be well to boast a little of our war-work and our heroisms in the field, so as to make our performance look as fine as England's in South Africa; but I believe it will not be best to emphasize this too much. We must be cautious. Of course, we must read the war-telegrams to the Person, in order to keep up our frankness; but we can throw an air of humorousness over them, and that will modify their grim eloquence a little, and their rather indiscreet exhibitions of gory exultation. Before reading to him the following display heads of the dispatches of November 18, 1900, it will be well to practice on them in private first, so as to get the right tang of lightness and gaiety into them:





Kitchener knows how to handle disagreeable people who are fighting for their homes and their liberties, and we must let on that we are merely imitating Kitchener, and have no national interest in the matter, further than to get ourselves admired by the Great Family of Nations, in which august company our Master of the Game has bought a place for us in the back row.

Of course, we must not venture to ignore our General MacArthur's reports -- oh, why do they keep on printing those embarrassing things? -- we must drop them trippingly from the tongue and take the chances:

"During the last ten months our losses have been 268 killed and 750 wounded; Filipino loss, three thousand two hundred and twenty-seven killed, and 694 wounded."

We must stand ready to grab the Person Sitting in Darkness, for he will swoon away at this confession, saying: "Good God, those 'niggers' spare their wounded, and the Americans massacre theirs!"

We must bring him to, and coax him and coddle him, and assure him that the ways of Providence are best; and that it would not become us to find fault with them; and then, to show him that we are only imitators, not originators, we must read the following passage from the letter of an American soldier-lad in the Philippines to his mother, published in Public Opinion, of Decorah, Iowa, describing the finish of a victorious battle:


Having now laid all the historical facts before the Person Sitting in Darkness, we should bring him to again, and explain them to him. We should say to him:

"They look doubtful, but in reality they are not. There have been lies; yes, but they were told in a good cause. We have been treacherous; but that was only in order that real good might come out of apparent evil. True, we have crushed a deceived and confiding people; we have turned against the weak and the friendless who trusted us; we have stamped out a just and intelligent and well-ordered republic; we have stabbed an ally in the back and slapped the face of a guest; we have bought a Shadow from an enemy that hadn't it to sell; we have robbed a trusting friend of his land and his liberty; we have invited our clean young men to shoulder a discredited musket and do bandit's work under a flag which bandits have been accustomed to fear, not to follow; we have debauched America's honor and blackened her face before the world; but each detail was for the best. We know this. The Head of every State and Sovereignty in Christendom and ninety percent, of every legislative body in Christendom, including our Congress and our fifty State Legislatures, are members not only of the church, but also of the Blessings-of-Civilization Trust. This world-girdling accumulation of trained morals, high principles, and justice, cannot do an unright thing, an unfair thing, an ungenerous thing, an unclean thing. It knows what it is about. Give yourself no uneasiness; it is all right."

Now then, that will convince the Person. You will see. It will restore the Business. Also, it will elect the Master of the Game to the vacant place in the Trinity of our national gods; and there on their high thrones the Three will sit, age after age, in the people's sight, each bearing the Emblem of his service: Washington, the Sword of the Liberator; Lincoln, the Slave's Broken Chains; the Master, the Chains Repaired.

It will give the Business a splendid new start. You will see.

Everything is prosperous, now; everything is just as we should wish it. We have got the Archipelago, and we shall never give it up. Also, we have every reason to hope that we shall have an opportunity before very long to slip out of our Congressional contract with Cuba and give her something better in the place of it. It is a rich country, and many of us are already beginning to see that the contract was a sentimental mistake. But now -- right now -- is the best time to do some profitable rehabilitating work -- work that will set us up and make us comfortable, and discourage gossip. We cannot conceal from ourselves that, privately, we are a little troubled about our uniform. It is one of our prides; it is acquainted with honor; it is familiar with great deeds and noble; we love it, we revere it; and so this errand it is on makes us uneasy. And our flag -- another pride, of ours, our chiefest! We have worshipped it so; and when we have seen it in far lands -- glimpsing it unexpectedly in that strange sky, waving its welcome and benediction to us -- we have caught our breath, and uncovered our heads, and couldn't speak, for a moment, for the thought of what it was to us and the great ideals it stood for. Indeed, we must do something about these things; we must not have the flag out there, and the uniform. They are not needed there; we can manage in some other way. England manages, as regards the uniform, and so can we. We have to send soldiers -- we can't get out of that -- but we can disguise them. It is the way England does in South Africa.
Even Mr. Chamberlain himself takes pride in England's honorable uniform, and makes the army down there wear an ugly and odious and appropriate disguise, of yellow stuff such as quarantine flags are made of, and which are hoisted to warn the healthy away from unclean disease and repulsive death. This cloth is called khaki. We could adopt it. It is light, comfortable, grotesque, and deceives the enemy, for he cannot conceive of a soldier being concealed in it.

On the morning of Monday, September 7, 1857, a group of Mormon riflemen accompanied by a small screening force of Indians opened fire on the Arkansans as they prepared breakfast. The Pioneers circled their wagons, threw up earthworks, and returned fire with their Kentucky rifles. Some of the Indian screening force were killed. The Mormons realized that if they attempted a frontal assault, they could eventually overwhelm the Arkansans, but only at the cost of heavy losses to the Saints. Instead, from the Mormon point of view, a stratagem of deception was in order to convince the Arkansas people to give up their guns and deliver themselves into the hands of the Mormons, who would then slaughter them. (The Mormon Rebellion, Bigler & Bagley, p. 173)....

The Mormons were able to convince the Arkansans to give up their weapons and accept a Mormon escort out of the territory. Each Arkansan male was flanked by an armed Mormon....

The Arkansas Travelers and their armed Mormon guards walked along a path which was surrounded by brush on both sides. At the signal from one of the Mormon leaders, each of the armed Saints turned and shot the disarmed Arkansas man walking next to him. Mormon men with their faces painted, accompanied by a few Indian allies, emerged from their hiding places in the bushes to kill the women and children at close range. The majority of the killers were Mormons, and not Paiute Indians. Older children begged for their lives, but they were killed if the Mormons estimated that they were old enough to give a credible account of what had occurred, and would thus be able to testify against the murdering Mormon Saints. (See Bigler & Bagley, p. 175; Blood of the Prophets, p. 130-133)

"A Remarkable Resemblance."

“Every time a woman wants to do well by her darling, she puzzles her brain to cipher out some scheme for getting it into my hands. Why, sir, a woman came here once with a child of a curious lifeless sort of complexion (and so had the woman), and swore that the child was mine and she my wife—that I had married her at such-and-such a time in such-and- such a place, but she had forgotten her number, and of course I could not remember her name. Well, sir, she called my attention to the fact that the child looked like me, and really it did seem to resemble me—a common thing in the Territory—and, to cut the story short, I put it in my nursery, and she left. And by the ghost of Orson Hyde, when they came to wash the paint off that child it was an Injun!

-- Roughing It, by Mark Twain

The Mormons were anxious to hide their monstrous guilt from the world, so they took care to kill every adult and even the older children, leaving alive only the infants and toddlers who would not be able, they thought, to tell the story of how the Saints had committed this monumental atrocity. The last to die was a girl aged between ten and twelve, whom the Danites judged to be old enough to tell the story. A total of seventeen children survived. Later, with characteristic Mormon aplomb, the Southern Utah Saints -- some of whom had taken part in the killing -- who had taken these children in, presented the United States government with a bill for $7,000 for child care services rendered. In the event, they got $3,500." (The Mormon Rebellion, Bigler & Bagley, p. 343).

After the killing, a consensus among the perpetrators was quickly reached regarding a plausible cover story for the atrocity. The killers swore each other to secrecy, and pledged to maintain the fiction that the slayings had been the work of the Indians. To provide a plausible motive for such Indian violence, they also concocted the accusation that the Arkansas Pioneers had antagonized the tribes by deliberately poisoning some of the wells along the way. These interlocking components have furnished a cover story which has provided the matrix for Mormon apologetics about the Mountain Meadows Massacre for more than a century and a half. (The Mormon Rebellion, Bigler & Bagley, p. 177) Mark Twain was one of the first who accused Brigham Young of ordering the killings. Official Mormon historiography continues a massive cover-up on this point.

-- Just Too Weird: Bishop Romney and the Mormon Takeover of America: Polygamy, Theocracy, and Subversion, by Webster Griffin Tarpley, Ph.D.

And as for a flag for the Philippine Province, it is easily managed. We can have a special one -- our States do it: we can have just our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones.


And we do not need that Civil Commission out there. Having no powers, it has to invent them, and that kind of work cannot be effectively done by just anybody; an expert is required. Mr. Croker can be spared. We do not want the United States represented there, but only the Game.

By help of these suggested amendments, Progress and Civilization in that country can have a boom, and it will take in the Persons who are Sitting in Darkness, and we can resume Business at the old stand.




* "Rebels!" Mumble that funny word don't let the Person catch it distinctly.
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Re: To the Person Sitting in Darkness, by Mark Twain

Postby admin » Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:49 am

To My Missionary Critics
by Mark Twain
North American Review, No. CLXXXI.
February, 1901
© 1901, by The North American Review Publishing Company



I HAVE received many newspaper cuttings; also letters from several clergymen; also a note from the Rev. Dr. Judson Smith, Corresponding Secretary of the American Board of Foreign Missions -- all of a like tenor; all saying, substantially, what is said in the cutting here copied:


"The evidence of the past day or two should induce Mark Twain to make for the amen corner and formulate a prompt apology for his scathing attack on the Rev. Dr. Ament, the veteran Chinese missionary. The assault was based on a Pekin dispatch to the New York Sun, which said that Dr. Ament had collected from the Chinese in various places damages thirteen times in excess of actual losses. So Mark Twain charged Mr. Ament with bullyragging, extortion and things. A Pekin dispatch to the Sun yesterday, however, explains that the amount collected was not thirteen times the damage sustained, but one-third in excess of the indemnities, and that the blunder was due to a cable error in transmission. The l-3d got converted into 13. Yesterday the Rev. Judson Smith, Secretary of the American Board, received a dispatch from Dr. Ament, calling attention to the cable blunder, and declaring that all the collections which he made were approved by the Chinese officials. The fractional amount that was collected in excess of actual losses, he explains, is being used for the support of widows and orphans.

"So collapses completely -- and convulsively -- Mark Twain's sensational and ugly bombardment of a missionary whose character and services should have exempted him from such an assault.

"From the charge the underpinning has been knocked out. To Dr. Ament Mr. Clemens has done an injustice which is gross but unintentional. If Mark Twain is the man we take him to be he won't be long in filing a retraction, plus an apology."

I have no prejudice against apologies. I trust I shall never withhold one when it is due; I trust I shall never even have a disposition to do so. These letters and newspaper paragraphs are entitled to my best attention; respect for their writers and for the humane feeling which has prompted their utterances requires this of me. It may be barely possible that, if these requests for an apology had reached me before the 20th of February, I might have had a sort of qualified chance to apologize; but on that day appeared the two little cablegrams referred to in the newspaper cutting copied above -- one from the Rev. Dr. Smith to the Rev. Dr. Ament, the other from Dr. Ament to Dr. Smith -- and my small chance died then. In my opinion, these cablegrams ought to have been suppressed, for it seems clear that they give Dr. Ament's case entirely away. Still, that is only an opinion, and may be a mistake. It will be best to examine the case from the beginning, by the light of the documents connected with it.


This is a dispatch from Mr. Chamberlain, chief of the Sun's correspondence staff in Pekin. It appeared in the Sun last Christmas Eve, and in referring to it hereafter I will call it the "C. E. dispatch" for short:

"The Rev. Mr. Ament, of the American Board of Foreign Missions, has returned from a trip which he made for the purpose of collecting indemnities for damages done by Boxers. Everywhere he went he compelled the Chinese to pay. He says that all his native Christians are now provided for. He had seven hundred of them under his charge, and three hundred were killed. He has collected 300 taels for each of these murders, and has compelled full payment for all the property belonging to Christians that was destroyed. He also assessed fines amounting to thirteen times [ii] the amount of the indemnity. This money will be used for the propagation of the Gospel.

"Mr. Ament declares that the compensation he has collected is moderate when compared with the amount secured by the Catholics, who demand, in addition to money, head for head. They collect 500 taels for each murder of a Catholic. In the Wen-Chiu country 680 Catholics were killed, and for this the European Catholics here demand 750,000 strings of cash and 680 heads.

"In the course of a conversation Mr. Ament referred to the attitude of the missionaries toward the Chinese. He said:

"'I deny emphatically that the missionaries are vindictive, that they generally looted, or that they have done anything since the siege that the circumstances did not demand. I criticise the Americans. The soft hand of the Americans is not as good as the mailed fist of the Germans. If you deal with the Chinese with a soft hand they will take advantage of it.'"

In an article addressed "To the Person Sitting in Darkness," published in the NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW for February, I made some comments upon this C. E. dispatch.

In an Open Letter to me, from the Rev. Dr. Smith, published in the Tribune of February 15th, doubt is cast upon the authenticity of the dispatch.

Up to the 20th of February, this doubt was an important factor in the case: Dr. Ament's brief cablegram, published on that date, took the importance all out of it.

In the Open Letter, Dr. Smith quotes this passage from a letter from Dr. Ament, dated November 13th. The italics are mine:

"This time I proposed to settle affairs without the aid of soldiers or legations."

This cannot mean two things, but only one: that, previously, he had collected by armed force.

Also, in the Open Letter, Dr. Smith quotes some praises of Dr. Ament and the Rev. Mr. Tewksbury, furnished by the Rev. Dr. Sheffield, and says:

"Dr. Sheffield is not accustomed to speak thus of thieves, or extortioners, or braggarts."

What can he mean by those vigorous expressions? Can he mean that the first two would be applicable to a missionary who should collect from B, with the "aid of soldiers," indemnities possibly due by A, and upon occasion go out looting?


Testimony of George Lynch (endorsed as entirely trustworthy by the Tribune and the Herald), war correspondent in the Cuban and South African wars, and in the march upon Pekin for the rescue of the legations. The italics are mine:

"When the soldiers were prohibited from looting, no such prohibitions seemed to operate with the missionaries. For instance, the Rev. Mr. Tewksbury held a great sale of looted goods, which lasted several days.

"A day or two after the relief, when looking for a place to sleep in, I met the Rev. Mr. Ament, of the American Board of Foreign Missions. He told me he was going to take possession of the house of a wealthy Chinaman who was an old enemy of his, as he had interfered much in the past with his missionary labors in Pekin. A couple of days afterward he did so, and held a great sale of his enemy's effects. I bought a sable cloak at it for $125, and a couple of statues of Buddha. As the stock became depleted it was replenished by the efforts of his converts, who were ransacking the houses in the neighborhood." -- N. J. Herald, Feb. 18.

It is Dr. Smith, not I, who has suggested that persons who act in this way are "thieves and extortioners."


Sir Robert Hart, in the Fortnightly Review for January, 1901. This witness has been for many years the most prominent and important Englishman in China, and bears an irreproachable reputation for moderation, fairness and truth-speaking. In closing a description of the revolting scenes which followed the occupation of Pekin, when the Christian armies (with the proud exception of the American soldiery, let us be thankful for that,) gave themselves up to a ruthless orgy of robbery and spoliation, he says (the italics are mine):

"And even some missionaries took such a leading part in 'spoiling the Egyptians' for the greater glory of God that a bystander was heard to say: 'For a century to come Chinese converts will consider looting and vengeance Christian virtues!'"

It is Dr. Smith, not I, who has suggested that persons who act in this way are "thieves and extortioners." According to Mr. Lynch and Mr. Martin (another war correspondent), Dr. Ament helped to spoil several of those Egyptians. Mr. Martin took a photograph of the scene. It was reproduced in the Herald. I have it.


In a brief reply to Dr. Smith's Open Letter to me, I said this in the Tribune. I am italicizing several words -- for a purpose:

"Whenever he (Dr. Smith) can produce from the Rev. Mr. Ament an assertion that the Sun's character-blasting dispatch was not authorized by him, and whenever Dr. Smith can buttress Mr. Ament's disclaimer with a confession from Mr. Chamberlain, the head of the Laffan News Service in China, that that dispatch was a false invention and unauthorized, the case against Mr. Ament will fall at once to the ground."


Brief cablegrams, referred to above, which passed between Dr. Smith and Dr. Ament, and were published on February 20th:

"Ament, Peking: Reported December 24 your collecting thirteen times actual losses; using for propagating the Gospel. Are these statements true? Cable specific answer. SMITH."

"Statement untrue. Collected 1-3 for church expenses, additional actual damages; now supporting widows and orphans. Publication thirteen times blunder cable. All collections received approval Chinese officials, who are urging further settlements same line. AMENT."

Only two questions are asked; "specific" answers required; no perilous wanderings among the other details of the unhappy dispatch desired.


Letter from Dr. Smith to me, dated March 8th. The italics are mine; they tag inaccuracies of statement:

"Permit me to call your attention to the marked paragraphs in the inclosed papers, and to ask you to note their relation to the two conditions named in your letter to the New York Tribune of February 15th.

"The first is Dr. Ament's denial of the truth of the dispatch in the New York 'Sun' of December 24th, on which your criticisms of him in the NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW of February were founded. The second is a correction by the 'Sun's' special correspondent in Peking of the dispatch printed in the Sun of December 24th.

"Since, as you state in your letter to the Tribune, 'the case against Mr. Ament would fall to the ground' if Mr. Ament denied the truth of the Sun's first dispatch, and if the 'Sun's' news agency in Peking also declared that dispatch false, and these two conditions have thus been fulfilled, I am sure that upon having these facts brought to your attention you will gladly withdraw the criticisms that were founded on a 'cable blunder.'"

I think Dr. Smith ought to read me more carefully; then he would not make so many mistakes. Within the narrow space of two paragraphs, totaling eleven lines, he has scored nine departures from fact out of a possible 9-1/2. Now, is that parliamentary? I do not treat him like that. Whenever I quote him, I am particular not to do him the least wrong, or make him say anything he did not say.

(1.) Mr. Ament doesn't "deny the truth of the C. E. dispatch;" he merely changes one of its phrases, without materially changing the meaning, and (immaterially) corrects a cable blunder (which correction I accept). He was asked no question about the other four-fifths of the C. E. dispatch. (2.) I said nothing about "special" correspondents; I named the right and responsible man -- Mr. Chamberlain. The "correction" referred to is a repetition of the one I have just accepted, which (immaterially) changes "thirteen times" to "one-third" extra-tax. (3.) I did not say anything about "the Sun's news agency;" I said "Chamberlain." I have every confidence in Mr. Chamberlain, but I am not personally acquainted with the others. (4.) Once more Mr. Ament didn't "deny the truth" of the C. E. dispatch, but merely made unimportant emendations of a couple of its many details. (5.) I did not say "if Mr. Ament denied the truth" of the C. E. dispatch: I said, if he would assert that the dispatch was not "authorized" by him. For example, I did not suppose that the charge that the Catholic missionaries wanted 680 Chinamen beheaded was true; but I did want to know if Dr. Ament personally authorized that statement and the others, as coming from his lips. Another detail: one of my conditions was that Mr. Chamberlain must not stop with confessing that the C. E. was a "false invention," he must also confess that it was "unauthorized" Dr. Smith has left out that large detail. (6.) The Sun's news agency did not "declare the C. E. dispatch false," but confined itself to correcting one unimportant detail of its long list the change of "13 times" to "one-third" extra. (7.) The "two conditions" have not "been fulfilled" -- far from it. (8.) Those details labeled "facts" are only fancies. (9.) Finally, my criticisms were by no means confined to that detail of the C. E. dispatch which we now accept as having been a "cable blunder."

Setting to one side these nine departures from fact, I find that what is left of the eleven lines is straight and true. I am not blaming Dr. Smith for these discrepancies -- it would not be right, it would not be fair. I make the proper allowances. He has not been a journalist, as I have been -- a trade wherein a person is brought to book by the rest of the press so often for divergencies that, by and by, he gets to be almost morbidly afraid to indulge in them. It is so with me. I always have the disposition to tell what is not so; I was born with it; we all have it. But I try not to do it now, because I have found out that it is unsafe. But with the Doctor of course it is different.


I wanted to get at the whole of the facts as regards the C. E. dispatch, and so I wrote to China for them, when I found that the Board was not going to do it. But I am not allowed to wait. It seemed quite within the possibilities that a full detail of the facts might furnish me a chance to make an apology to Mr. Ament -- a chance which, I give you my word, I would have honestly used, and not abused. But it is no matter. If the Board is not troubled about the bulk of that lurid dispatch, why should I be? I answered the apology urging letters of several clergymen with the information that I had written to China for the details, and said I thought it was the only sure way of getting into a position to do fair and full justice to all concerned; but a couple of them replied that it was not a matter that could wait. That is to say, groping your way out of a jungle in the dark with guesses and conjectures is better than a straight march out in the sun light of fact. It seems a curious idea.

However, those two clergymen were in a large measure right -- from their point of view and the Board's; which is, putting it in the form of a couple of questions:

1. Did Dr. Ament collect the assessed damages and thirteen times over? The answer is: He did not. He collected only a third over.

2. Did he apply the third to the "propagation of the Gospel?" The answer is this correction: He applied it to "church expenses." Part or all of the outlay, it appears, goes to "supporting widows and orphans." It may be that church expenses and supporting widows and orphans are not part of the machinery for propagating the Gospel. I supposed they were, but it isn't any matter; I prefer this phrasing; it is not so blunt as the other.

In the opinion of the two clergymen and of the Board, these two points are the only important ones in the whole C. E. dispatch.

I accept that. Therefore let us throw out the rest of the dispatch as being no longer a part of Dr. Ament's case.


The two clergymen and the Board are quite content with Dr. Ament's answers upon the two points.

Upon the first point of the two, my own viewpoint may be indicated by a question:

Did Dr. Ament collect from B, (whether by compulsion or simple demand), even so much as a penny in payment for murders or depredations, without knowing, beyond question, that B, and not another, committed the murders or the depredations?

Or, in other words:

Did Dr. Ament ever, by chance or through ignorance, make the innocent pay the debts of the guilty?

In the article entitled "To the Person Sitting in Darkness," I put forward that point in a paragraph taken from Macallum's (imaginary) "History":


"When a white Boxer kills a Pawnee and destroys his property the other Pawnees do not trouble to seek him out; they kill any white person that comes along; also, they make some white village pay deceased's heirs the full cash value of deceased, together with full cash value of the property destroyed; they also make the village pay, in addition, thirteen times [iii] the value of that property into a fund for the dissemination of the Pawnee religion, which they regard as the best of all religions for the softening and humanizing of the heart of man. It is their idea that it is only fair and right that the innocent should be made to suffer for the guilty, and that it is better that ninety and nine innocent should suffer than that one guilty person should escape."

We all know that Dr. Ament did not bring suspected persons into a duly organized court and try them by just and fair Christian and civilized methods, but proclaimed his "conditions," and collected damages from the innocent and the guilty alike, without any court proceedings at all. [iv] That he himself, and not the villagers, made the "conditions," we learn from his letter of November 13th, already quoted from -- the one in which he remarked that, upon that occasion, he brought no soldiers with him. The italics are mine:

"After our conditions were known many villagers came of their own accord and brought their money with them."

Not all, but "many." The Board really believes that those hunted and harried paupers out there were not only willing to strip themselves to pay Boxer damages, whether they owed them or not, but were sentimentally eager to do it. Mr. Ament says, in his letter: "The villagers were extremely grateful because I brought no foreign soldiers, and were glad to settle on the terms proposed." Some of those people know more about theology than they do about human nature. I do not remember encountering even a Christian who was "glad" to pay money he did not owe; and as for a Chinaman doing it, why, dear me, the thing is unthinkable. We have all seen Chinamen, many Chinamen, but not that kind. It is a new kind: an invention of the Board -- and "soldiers."


What was the "one-third extra"? Money due? No. Was it a theft, then? Putting aside the "one-third extra," what was the remainder of the exacted indemnity, if collected from persons not known to owe it, and without Christian and civilized forms of procedure? Was it theft, was it robbery? In America it would be that; in Christian Europe it would be that. I have great confidence in Dr. Smith's judgment concerning this detail, and he calls it "theft and extortion" -- even in China; for he was talking about the "thirteen times" at the time that he gave it that strong name. [v] It is his idea that, when you make guilty and innocent villagers pay the appraised damages, and then make them pay thirteen times that, besides, the thirteen stand for "theft and extortion."

Then what does one-third extra stand for? Will he give that one-third a name? Is it Modified Theft and Extortion? Is that it? The girl who was rebuked for having borne an illegitimate child, excused herself by saying, "But it is such a little one."

When the "thirteen-times-extra" was alleged, it stood for theft and extortion, in Dr. Smith's eyes, and he was shocked. But when Dr. Ament showed that he had taken only a third extra, instead of thirteen-fold, Dr. Smith was relieved, content, happy. I declare I cannot imagine why. That editor -- quoted at the head of this article -- was happy about it, too. I cannot think why. He thought I ought to "make for the amen corner and formulate a prompt apology." To whom, and for what? It is too deep for me.

To Dr. Smith, the "thirteen-fold-extra" clearly stood for "theft and extortion," and he was right, distinctly right, indisputably right. He manifestly thinks that when it got scaled away down to a mere "one-third," a little thing like that was something other than "theft and extortion." Why? Only the Board knows! I will try to explain this difficult problem, so that the Board can get an idea of it. If a pauper owes me a dollar, and I catch him unprotected and make him pay me fourteen dollars, thirteen of it is "theft and extortion"; if I make him pay only a dollar and thirty-three and a third cents, the thirty-three and a third cents are "theft and extortion" just the same. I will put it in another way, still simpler. If a man owes me one dog -- any kind of a dog, the breed is of no consequence -- and I -- But let it go; the Board would never understand it. It can't understand these involved and difficult things.

But if the Board could understand, then I could furnish some more instruction -- which is this. The one-third, obtained by "theft and extortion," is tainted money, and cannot be purified even by defraying "church expenses" and "supporting widows and orphans" with it. It has to be restored to the people it was taken from.

Also, there is another view of these things. By our Christian code of morals and law, the whole $1.33 1-3, if taken from a man not formally proven to have committed the damage the dollar represents, is "theft and extortion." It cannot be honestly used for any purpose at all. It must be handed back to the man it was taken from.

Is there no way, then, to justify these thefts and extortions and make them clean and fair and honorable? Yes, there is. It can be done; it has been done; it continues to be done -- by revising the Ten Commandments and bringing them down to date: for use in pagan lands.
For example:

Thou shall not steal -- except when it is the custom of the country.

This way out is recognized and approved by all the best authorities, including the Board. I will cite witnesses.

The newspaper cutting, above: "Dr. Ament declares that all the collections which he made were approved by the Chinese officials." The editor is satisfied.

Dr. Ament's cable to Dr. Smith: "All collections received approval Chinese officials." Dr. Ament is satisfied.

Letters from eight clergymen -- all to the same effect: Dr. Ament merely did as the Chinese do. So they are satisfied.

Mr. Ward, of the Independent.

The Rev. Dr. Washington Gladden.

I have mislaid the letters of these gentlemen and cannot quote their words, but they are of the satisfied.

The Rev. Dr. Smith, in His Open Letter, published in the Tribune: "The whole procedure (Dr. Ament's), is in accordance with a custom among the Chinese, of holding a village responsible for wrongs suffered in that village, and especially making the head man of the village accountable for wrongs committed there." Dr. Smith is satisfied. Which, means that the Board is satisfied.

The "head man"! Why, then, this poor rascal, innocent or guilty, must pay the whole bill, if he cannot squeeze it out of his poor-devil neighbors. But, indeed, he can be depended upon to try, even to the skinning them of their last brass farthing, their last rag of clothing, their last ounce of food. He can be depended upon to get the indemnity out of them, though it cost stripes and blows, blood, tears and flesh.


How strange and remote and romantic and Oriental and Arabian-Nighty it all seems -- and is. It brings back the old forgotten tales, and we hear the King say to his Treasurer:

"Bring me 30,000 gold tomauns."

"Allah preserve us, Sire! the treasury is empty."

"Do you hear? Bring the money -- in ten days. Else, send me your head in a basket."

"I hear and obey."

The Treasurer summons the head men of a hundred villages, and says to one:

"Bring me a hundred gold tomauns." To another, "Bring me five hundred;" to another, "Bring a thousand. In ten days. Your head is the forfeit."

"Your slaves kiss your feet! Ah, high and mighty lord, be merciful to our hard pressed villagers: they are poor, they are naked, they starve; oh, these impossible sums! even the half -- "

"Go! Grind it out of them, crush it out of them,, turn the blood of the fathers, the tears of the mothers, the milk of the babes to money -- or take the consequences. Have you heard?"

"His will be done, Who is the Fount of love and mercy and compassion, Who layeth this heavy burden upon us by the hand of His anointed servants -- blessed be His holy Name! The father shall bleed, the mother shall faint for hunger, the babe shall perish at the dry breast. The chosen of God have commanded: it shall be as they say."

I am not meaning to object to the substitution of pagan customs for Christian, here and there and now and then, when the Christian ones are inconvenient. No; I like it and admire it. I do it myself. And I admire the alertness of the Board in watching out for chances to trade Board morals for Chinese morals, and get the best of the swap; for I cannot endure those people, they are yellow, and I have never considered yellow becoming. I have always been like the Board -- perfectly well-meaning, but destitute of the Moral Sense.
Now, one of the main reasons why it is so hard to make the Board understand that there is no moral difference between a big filch and a little filch, but only a legal one, is that vacancy in its make-up. Morally, there are no degrees in stealing. The Commandment merely says, "Thou shalt not steal" and stops there. It doesn't recognize any difference between stealing a third and stealing thirteen-fold. If I could think of a way to put it before the Board in such a plain and --


I have it, now. Many years ago, when I was studying for the gallows, I had a dear comrade, a youth who was not in my line, but still a thoroughly good fellow, though devious. He was preparing to qualify for a place on the Board, for there was going to be a vacancy by superannuation in about five years. This was down South, in the slavery days. It was the nature of the negro then, as now, to steal watermelons. They stole three of the melons of an adoptive brother of mine, the only good ones he had. I suspected three of a neighbor's negroes, but there was no proof: and, besides, the watermelons in those negroes' private patches were all green and small, and not up to indemnity standard. But in the private patches of three other negroes there was a number of competent melons. I consulted with my comrade, the understudy of the Board. He said that if I would approve his arrangements, he would arrange. I said, "Consider me the Board; I approve: arrange." So he took a gun, and went and collected three large melons for my brother-on-the-half-shell, and one over. I was greatly pleased, and asked:

"Who gets the extra one?"

"Widows and orphans."

"A good idea, too. Why didn't you take thirteen?"

"It would have been wrong; a crime, in fact -- Theft and Extortion."

"What is the one-third extra -- the odd melon -- the same?"

It caused him to reflect. But there was no result.

The justice of the peace was a stern man. On the trial, he found fault with the scheme, and required us to explain upon what we based our strange conduct -- as he called it. The understudy said:

"On the custom of the niggers. They all do it."

The justice forgot his dignity, and descended to sarcasm:

"Custom of the niggers! Are our morals so inadequate that we have to borrow of niggers?" Then he said to the jury: "Three melons were owing; they were collected from persons not proven to owe them; this is theft. They were collected by compulsion; this is extortion. A melon was added -- for the widows and orphans. It was owed by no one. It is another theft, an other extortion. Return it whence it came, with the others. It is not permissible, here, to apply to any object goods dishonestly obtained -- not even to the feeding of widows and orphans, for that would be to put a shame upon charity and dishonor it.

He said it in open court, before everybody, and to me it did not seem very kind.

A clergyman, in a letter to me, reminds me, with a touch of reproach, that "many of the missionaries are good men, kindhearted, earnest, devoted to their work." Certainly they are. No one is disputing it. Instead of "many," he could have said "almost all," and still said the truth, no doubt. I know many missionaries; I have met them all about the globe, and have known only one or two who could not fill that bill and answer to that description. "Almost all" comes near to being a proportion and a description applicable also to lawyers, authors, editors, merchants, manufacturers -- in fact to most guilds and vocations. Without a doubt, Dr. Ament did what he believed to be right, and I concede that when a man is doing what he believes to be right, there is argument on his side. I differ with Dr. Ament, but that is only because he got his training from the Board and I got mine outside. Neither of us is responsible, altogether.


But there is no need to sum up. Mr. Ament has acknowledged the "one-third extra" -- no other witness is necessary. The Rev. Dr. Smith has carefully considered the act and labeled it with a stern name, and his verdict seems to have no flaw in it. The morals of the act are Chinese, but are approved by the Board, and by some of the clergy and some of the newspapers, as being a valuable improvement upon Christian ones -- which leaves me with a closed mouth, though with a pain in my heart.


Do I think that Dr. Ament and certain of his fellow missionaries are as bad as their conduct? No, I do not. They are the product of their training; and now that I understand the whole case, and where they got their ideals, and that they are merely subordinates and subject to authority, I comprehend that they are rather accessories than principals, and that their acts only show faulty heads curiously trained, not bad hearts. Mainly, as it seems to me, it is the American Board that is on trial. And again, it is a case of the head, not of the heart. That it has a heart which has never harbored an evil intention, no one will deny, no one will question; the Board's history can silence any challenge on that score. The Board's heart is not in court: it is its head that is on trial.

It is a sufficiently strange head. Its ways baffle comprehension; its ideas are like no one else's; its methods are novelties to the practical world; its judgments are surprises. When, one thinks it is going to speak and must speak, it is silent; when one thinks it ought to be silent and must be silent, it speaks. Put your finger where you think it ought to be, it is not there; put it where you think it ought not to be, there you find it.

When its servant in China seemed to be charging himself with amazing things, in a reputable journal, -- in a dispatch which was copied into many other papers -- the Board was as silent about it as any dead man could have been who was informed that his house was burning over his head. An exchange of cablegrams could have enabled it, within two days, to prove to the world -- possibly -- that the damaging dispatch had not proceeded from the mouth of its servant; yet it sat silent and asked no questions about the matter.

It was silent during thirty-eight days. Then the dispatch came into prominence again. It chanced that I was the occasion of it. A break in the stillness followed. In what form? An exchange of cablegrams, resulting in proof that the damaging dispatch had not been authorized? No, in the form of an Open Letter by the Corresponding Secretary of the American Board, the Rev. Dr. Smith, in which it was argued that Dr. Ament could not have said and done the things set forth in the dispatch.

Surely, this was bad politics. A repudiating telegram would have been worth more than a library of argument.

An extension of the silence would have been better than the Open Letter, I think. I thought so at the time. It seemed to me that mistakes enough had been made and harm enough done. I thought it questionable policy to publish the Letter, for I "did not think it likely that Dr. Ament would disown the dispatch," and I telegraphed that to the Rev. Dr. Smith. Personally, I had nothing against Dr. Ament, and that is my attitude yet.

Once more it was a good time for an extension of the silence. But no; the Board has its own ways, and one of them is to do the unwise thing, when occasion offers. After having waited fifty-six days, it cabled to Dr. Ament. No one can divine why it did so then, instead of fifty-six days earlier. [vi] It got a fatal reply -- and was not aware of it. That was that curious confession about the "one-third extra"; its application, not to the "propagation of the Gospel," but only to "church expenses," support of widows and orphans; and, on top of this confession, that other strange one revealing the dizzying fact that our missionaries, who went to China to teach Christian morals and justice, had adopted pagan morals and justice in their place. That cablegram was dynamite.

It seems odd that the Board did not see that that revelation made the case far worse than it was before; for there was a saving doubt, before -- a doubt which was a Gibraltar for strength, and should have been carefully left undisturbed. Why did the Board allow that revelation to get into print? Why did the Board not suppress it and keep still? But no; in the Board's opinion, this was once more the time for speech. Hence Dr. Smith's latest letter to me, suggesting that I speak also -- a letter which is a good enough letter, barring its nine defects, but is another evidence that the Board's head is not as good as its heart.

A missionary is a man who is pretty nearly all heart, else he would not be in a calling which requires of him such large sacrifices of one kind and another. He is made up of faith, zeal, courage, sentiment, emotion, enthusiasm; and so he is a mixture of poet, devotee and knight-errant. He exiles himself from home and friends and the scenes and associations that are dearest to him; patiently endures discomforts, privations, discouragements; goes with good pluck into dangers which he knows may cost him his life; and when he must suffer death, willingly makes that supreme sacrifice for his cause.

Sometimes the head-piece of that kind of a man can be of an inferior sort, and errors of judgment can result -- as we have seen. Then, for his protection, as it seems to me, he ought to have at his back a Board able to know a blunder when it sees one, and prompt to bring him back upon his right course when he strays from it. That is to say, I think the captain of a ship ought to understand navigation. Whether he does or not, he will have to take a captain's share of the blame, if the crew bring the vessel to grief.




i. Testimony of the manager of the Sun.

ii. Cable error. For "thirteen times" read "one-third." This correction was made by Dr. Ament in his brief cablegram published Feb. 20, above referred to.

iii. For "thirteen times" read "one-third." M. T.

iv. In civilized countries, if a mob destroy property in a town, the damage is paid out of the town treasury, and no tax-payer suffers a disproportionate share of the burden; the mayor is not privileged to distribute the burden according to his private notions, sparing himself and his friends, and fleecing persons he holds a spite against -- as in the Orient -- and the citizen who is too poor to be a taxpayer pays no part of the fine at all.

v. In his Open Letter, Dr. Smith cites Dr. Ament's letter of November 13th, which contains an account of Dr. Ament's collecting-tour; then Dr. Smith makes this comment: "Nothing is said of securing 'thirteen times' the amount of the losses." Further down, Dr. Smith quotes praises of Dr. Ament and his work (from a letter of the Rev. Dr. Sheffield), and adds this comment: "Dr. Sheffield is not accustomed to speak thus in praise of thieves, or extortioners, or braggarts." The reference is to the "thirteen-times" extra-tax.

vi. The cablegram went on the day (Feb. 18) that Mr. George Lynch' s account of the looting was published. See "Exhibit B," It seems a pity it did not inquire about the looting and get it denied.
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