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A few months ago I was nominated for Governor of the great state of New York, to run against Mr. John T. Smith and Mr. Blank J. Blank on an independent ticket. I somehow felt that I had one prominent advantage over these gentlemen, and that was--good character. It was easy to see by the newspapers that if ever they had known what it was to bear a good name, that time had gone by. It was plain that in these latter years they had become familiar with all manner of shameful crimes. But at the very moment that I was exalting my advantage and joying in it in secret, there was a muddy undercurrent of discomfort "riling" the deeps of my happiness, and that was--the having to hear my name bandied about in familiar connection with those of such people. I grew more and more disturbed. Finally I wrote my grandmother about it. Her answer came quick and sharp. She said:

You have never done one single thing in all your life to be ashamed of--not one. Look at the newspapers--look at them and comprehend what sort of characters Messrs. Smith and Blank are, and then see if you are willing to lower yourself to their level and enter a public canvass with them.

It was my very thought! I did not sleep a single moment that night. But, after all, I could not recede.

I was fully committed, and must go on with the fight. As I was looking listlessly over the papers at breakfast I came across this paragraph, and I may truly say I never was so confounded before.

PERJURY.--Perhaps, now that Mr. Mark Twain is before the people as a candidate for Governor, he will condescend to explain how he came to be convicted of perjury by thirty-four witnesses in Wakawak, Cochin China, in 1863, the intent of which perjury being to rob a poor native widow and her helpless family of a meager plantain-patch, their only stay and support in their bereavement and desolation. Mr. Twain owes it to himself, as well as to the great people whose suffrages he asks, to clear this matter up. Will he do it?

I thought I should burst with amazement! Such a cruel, heartless charge! I never had seen Cochin China! I never had heard of Wakawak! I didn't know a plantain-patch from a kangaroo! I did not know what to do. I was crazed and helpless. I let the day slip away without doing anything at all. The next morning the same paper had this--nothing more:

SIGNIFICANT.--Mr. Twain, it will be observed, is suggestively silent about the Cochin China perjury.

[Mem.--During the rest of the campaign this paper never referred to me in any other way than as "the infamous perjurer Twain."]

Next came the Gazette, with this:

WANTED TO KNOW.--Will the new candidate for Governor deign to explain to certain of his fellow-citizens (who are suffering to vote for him!) the little circumstance of his cabin-mates in Montana losing small valuables from time to time, until at last, these things having been invariably found on Mr. Twain's person or in his "trunk" (newspaper he rolled his traps in), they felt compelled to give him a friendly admonition for his own good, and so tarred and feathered him, and rode him on a rail; and then advised him to leave a permanent vacuum in the place he usually occupied in the camp. Will he do this?

Could anything be more deliberately malicious than that? For I never was in Montana in my life.

[After this, this journal customarily spoke of me as, "Twain, the Montana Thief."]

I got to picking up papers apprehensively--much as one would lift a desired blanket which he had some idea might have a rattlesnake under it. One day this met my eye:

THE LIE NAILED.--By the sworn affidavits of Michael O'Flanagan, Esq., of the Five Points, and Mr. Snub Rafferty and Mr. Catty Mulligan, of Water Street, it is established that Mr. Mark Twain's vile statement that the lamented grandfather of our noble standard- bearer, Blank J. Blank, was hanged for highway robbery, is a brutal and gratuitous LIE, without a shadow of foundation in fact. It is disheartening to virtuous men to see such shameful means resorted to to achieve political success as the attacking of the dead in their graves, and defiling their honored names with slander. When we think of the anguish this miserable falsehood must cause the innocent relatives and friends of the deceased, we are almost driven to incite an outraged and insulted public to summary and unlawful vengeance upon the traducer. But no! let us leave him to the agony of a lacerated conscience (though if passion should get the better of the public, and in its blind fury they should do the traducer bodily injury, it is but too obvious that no jury could convict and no court punish the perpetrators of the deed).

The ingenious closing sentence had the effect of moving me out of bed with despatch that night, and out at the back door also, while the "outraged and insulted public" surged in the front way, breaking furniture and windows in their righteous indignation as they came, and taking off such property as they could carry when they went. And yet I can lay my hand upon the Book and say that I never slandered Mr. Blank's grandfather. More: I had never even heard of him or mentioned him up to that day and date.

[I will state, in passing, that the journal above quoted from always referred to me afterward as "Twain, the Body-Snatcher."]

The next newspaper article that attracted my attention was the following:

A SWEET CANDIDATE.--Mr. Mark Twain, who was to make such a blighting speech at the mass-meeting of the Independents last night, didn't come to time! A telegram from his physician stated that he had been knocked down by a runaway team, and his leg broken in two places--sufferer lying in great agony, and so forth, and so forth, and a lot more bosh of the same sort. And the Independents tried hard to swallow the wretched subterfuge, and pretend that they did not know what was the real reason of the absence of the abandoned creature whom they denominate their standard-bearer. A certain man was seen to reel into Mr. Twain's hotel last night in a state of beastly intoxication. It is the imperative duty of the Independents to prove that this besotted brute was not Mark Twain himself. We have them at last! This is a case that admits of no shirking. The voice of the people demands in thunder tones, "WHO WAS THAT MAN?"

It was incredible, absolutely incredible, for a moment, that it was really my name that was coupled with this disgraceful suspicion. Three long years had passed over my head since I had tasted ale, beer, wine or liquor or any kind.

[It shows what effect the times were having on me when I say that I saw myself, confidently dubbed "Mr. Delirium Tremens Twain" in the next issue of that journal without a pang--notwithstanding I knew that with monotonous fidelity the paper would go on calling me so to the very end.]

By this time anonymous letters were getting to be an important part of my mail matter. This form was common

How about that old woman you kiked of your premises which
was beging. POL. PRY.

And this:

There is things which you Have done which is unbeknowens to anybody
but me. You better trot out a few dots, to yours truly, or you'll
hear through the papers from
HANDY ANDY.

This is about the idea. I could continue them till the reader was surfeited, if desirable.

Shortly the principal Republican journal "convicted" me of wholesale bribery, and the leading Democratic paper "nailed" an aggravated case of blackmailing to me.

[In this way I acquired two additional names: "Twain the Filthy Corruptionist" and "Twain the Loathsome Embracer."]

By this time there had grown to be such a clamor for an "answer" to all the dreadful charges that were laid to me that the editors and leaders of my party said it would be political ruin for me to remain silent any longer. As if to make their appeal the more imperative, the following appeared in one of the papers the very next day:

BEHOLD THE MAN!--The independent candidate still maintains silence. Because he dare not speak. Every accusation against him has been amply proved, and they have been indorsed and reindorsed by his own eloquent silence, till at this day he stands forever convicted. Look upon your candidate, Independents! Look upon the Infamous Perjurer! the Montana Thief! the Body-Snatcher! Contemplate your incarnate Delirium Tremens! your Filthy Corruptionist! your Loathsome Embracer! Gaze upon him--ponder him well--and then say if you can give your honest votes to a creature who has earned this dismal array of titles by his hideous crimes, and dares not open his mouth in denial of any one of them!

There was no possible way of getting out of it, and so, in deep humiliation, I set about preparing to "answer" a mass of baseless charges and mean and wicked falsehoods. But I never finished the task, for the very next morning a paper came out with a new horror, a fresh malignity, and seriously charged me with burning a lunatic asylum with all its inmates, because it obstructed the view from my house. This threw me into a sort of panic. Then came the charge of poisoning my uncle to get his property, with an imperative demand that the grave should be opened. This drove me to the verge of distraction. On top of this I was accused of employing toothless and incompetent old relatives to prepare the food for the foundling' hospital when I warden. I was wavering--wavering. And at last, as a due and fitting climax to the shameless persecution that party rancor had inflicted upon me, nine little toddling children, of all shades of color and degrees of raggedness, were taught to rush onto the platform at a public meeting, and clasp me around the legs and call me PA!

I gave it up. I hauled down my colors and surrendered. I was not equal to the requirements of a Gubernatorial campaign in the state of New York, and so I sent in my withdrawal from the candidacy, and in bitterness of spirit signed it, "Truly yours, once a decent man, but now

"MARK TWAIN, LP., M.T., B.S., D.T., F.C., and L.E."

-THE END-

几个月之前,我被提名为纽约州州长候选人,代表独立党与斯坦华脱·勒·伍福特先生和约翰·特·霍夫曼先生竞选。我总觉得自己有超过这两位先生的显著的优点,那就是我的名声好。从报上容易看出:如果说这两位先生也曾知道爱护名声的好处,那是以往的事。近几年来,他们显然已将各种无耻罪行视为家常便饭。当时,我虽然对自己的长处暗自庆幸,但是一想到我自己的名字得和这些人的名字混在一起到处传播,总有一股不安的混浊潜流在我愉快心情的深处“翻搅”。我心里越来越不安,最后我给祖母写了封信,把这件事告诉她。她很快给我回了信,而且信写得很严峻,她说:“你生平没有做过一件对不起人的事——一件也没有做过。你看看报纸吧——一看就会明白伍福特和霍夫曼先生是一种什么样子的人,然后再看你愿不愿意把自己降低到他们那样的水平,跟他们一起竞选。”

这也正是我的想法!那晚我一夜没合眼。但我毕竟不能打退堂鼓。我已经完全卷进去了,只好战斗下去。

当我一边吃早饭,一边无精打采地翻阅报纸时,看到这样一段消息,说实在话,我以前还从来没有这样惊慌失措过:

“伪证罪——那就是1863年,在交趾支那的瓦卡瓦克,有34名证人证明马克·吐温先生犯有伪证罪,企图侵占一小块香蕉种植地,那是当地一位穷寡妇和她那群孤儿靠着活命的唯一资源。现在马克·吐温先生既然在众人面前出来竞选州长,那么他或许可以屈尊解释一下如下事情的经过。吐温先生不管是对自己或是对要求投票选举他的伟大人民,都有责任澄清此事的真相。他愿意这样做吗?”

我当时惊愕不已!竟有这样一种残酷无情的指控。我从来就没有到过交趾支那!我从来没听说过什么瓦卡瓦克!我也不知道什么香蕉种植地,正如我不知道什么是袋鼠一样!我不知道要怎么办才好,我简直要发疯了,却又毫无办法。那一天我什么事情也没做,就让日子白白溜过去了。第二天早晨,这家报纸再没说别的什么,只有这么一句话:

“意味深长——大家都会注意到:吐温先生对交趾支那伪证案一事一直发人深省地保持缄默。”

〔备忘——在这场竞选运动中,这家报纸以后但凡提到我时,必称“臭名昭著的伪证犯吐温”。〕

接着是《新闻报》,登了这样一段话:

“需要查清——是否请新州长候选人向急于等着要投他票的同胞们解释一下以下一件小事?那就是吐温先生在蒙大那州野营时,与他住在同一帐篷的伙伴经常丢失小东西,后来这些东西一件不少地都从吐温先生身上或“箱子”(即他卷藏杂物的报纸)里发现了。大家为他着想,不得不对他进行友好的告诫,在他身上涂满柏油,粘上羽毛,叫他坐木杠①,把他撵出去,并劝告他让出铺位,从此别再回来。他愿意解释这件事吗?”

难道还有比这种控告用心更加险恶的吗?我这辈子根本就没有到过蒙大那州呀。

〔此后,这家报纸照例叫我做“蒙大那的小偷吐温”。〕

于是,我开始变得一拿起报纸就有些提心吊胆起来,正如同你想睡觉时拿起一床毯子,可总是不放心,生怕那里面有条蛇似的。有一天,我看到这么一段消息:

“谎言已被揭穿!——根据五方位区的密凯尔·奥弗拉纳根先生、华脱街的吉特·彭斯先生和约翰·艾伦先生三位的宣誓证书,现已证实:马克·吐温先生曾恶毒声称我们尊贵的领袖约翰·特·霍夫曼的祖父曾因拦路抢劫而被处绞刑一说,纯属粗暴无理之谎言,毫无事实根据。他毁谤亡人,以谰言玷污其美名,用这种下流手段来达到政治上的成功,使有道德之人甚为沮丧。当我们想到这一卑劣谎言必然会使死者无辜的亲友蒙受极大悲痛时,几乎要被迫煽动起被伤害和被侮辱的公众,立即对诽谤者施以非法的报复。但是我们不这样!还是让他去因受良心谴责而感到痛苦吧。(不过,如果公众义愤填膺,盲目胡来,对诽谤者进行人身伤害,很明显,陪审员不可能对此事件的凶手们定罪,法庭也不可能对他们加以惩罚。)”

最后这句巧妙的话很起作用,当天晚上当“被伤害和被侮辱的公众”从前进来时,吓得我赶紧从床上爬起来,从后门溜走。他们义愤填膺,来时捣毁家具和门窗,走时把能拿动的财物统统带走。然而,我可以手按《圣经》起誓:我从没诽谤过霍夫曼州长的祖父。而且直到那天为止,我从没听人说起过他,我自己也没提到过他。

〔顺便说一句,刊登上述新闻的那家报纸此后总是称我为“拐尸犯吐温”。〕

引起我注意的下一篇报上的文章是下面这段:

“好个候选人——马克·吐温先生原定于昨晚独立党民众大会上作一次损伤对方的演说,却未履行其义务。他的医生打电报来称他被几匹狂奔的拉车的马撞倒,腿部两处负伤——卧床不起,痛苦难言等等,以及许多诸如此类的废话。独立党的党员们只好竭力听信这一拙劣的托词,假装不知道他们提名为候选人的这个放荡不羁的家伙未曾出席大会的真正原因。

有人见到,昨晚有一个人喝得酩酊大醉,摇摇晃晃地走进吐温先生下榻的旅馆。独立党人责无旁贷须证明那个醉鬼并非马克·吐温本人。这一下我们终于把他们抓住了。此事不容避而不答。人民以雷鸣般的呼声询问:‘那人是谁?’”

我的名字真的与这个丢脸的嫌疑联在一起,这是不可思议的,绝对地不可思议。我已经有整整三年没有喝过啤酒、葡萄酒或任何一种酒了。

〔这家报纸在下一期上大胆地称我为“酒疯子吐温先生”,而且我知道,它会一直这样称呼下去,但我当时看了竟毫无痛苦,足见这种局势对我有多大的影响。〕

那时我所收到的邮件中,匿名信占了重要的部分。那些信一般是这样写的:

“被你从你寓所门口一脚踢开的那个要饭的老婆婆,现在怎么样了?”

好管闲事者

也有这样写的:

“你干的一些事,除我之外没人知道,你最好拿出几块钱来孝敬鄙人,不然,报上有你好看的。”

惹不起

大致就是这类内容。如果还想听,我可以继续引用下去,直到使读者恶心。

不久,共和党的主要报纸“宣判”我犯了大规模的贿赂罪,而民主党最主要的报纸则把一桩大肆渲染敲诈案件硬“栽”在我头上。

〔这样,我又得到了两个头衔:“肮脏的贿赂犯吐温”和“令人恶心的讹诈犯吐温”。〕

这时候舆论哗然,纷纷要我“答复”所有对我提出的那些可怕的指控。这就使得我们党的报刊主编和领袖们都说,我如果再沉默不语,我的政治生命就要给毁了。好像要使他们的控诉更为迫切似的,就在第二天,一家报纸登了这样一段话:

“明察此人!独立党这位候选人至今默不吭声。因为他不敢说话。对他的每条控告都有证据,并且那种足以说明问题的沉默一再承认了他的罪状,现在他永远翻不了案了。独立党的党员们,看看你们这位候选人吧!看看这位声名狼藉的伪证犯!这位蒙大那的小偷!这位拐尸犯!好好看一看你们这个具体化的酒疯子!你们这位肮脏的贿赂犯!你们这位令人恶心的讹诈犯!你们盯住他好好看一看,好好想一想——这个家伙犯下了这么可怕的罪行,得了这么一连串倒霉的称号,而且一条也不敢予以否认,看你们是否还愿意把自己公正的选票投给他!”

我无法摆脱这种困境,只得深怀耻辱,准备着手“答复”那一大堆毫无根据的指控和卑鄙下流的谎言。但是我始终没有完成这个任务,因为就在第二天,有一家报纸登出一个新的恐怖案件,再次对我进行恶意中伤,说因一家疯人院妨碍我家的人看风景,我就将这座疯人院烧掉,把院里的病人统统烧死了,这使我万分惊慌。接着又是一个控告,说我为了吞占我叔父的财产而将他毒死,并且要求立即挖开坟墓验尸。这使我几乎陷入了精神错乱的境地。在这些控告之上,还有人竟控告我在负责育婴堂事务时雇用老掉了牙的、昏庸的亲戚给育婴堂做饭。我拿不定主意了——真的拿不定主意了。最后,党派斗争的积怨对我的无耻迫害达到了自然而然的高潮:有人教唆9个刚刚在学走路的包括各种不同肤色、穿着各种各样的破烂衣服的小孩,冲到一次民众大会的讲台上来,紧紧抱住我的双腿,叫我做爸爸!

我放弃了竞选。我降下旗帜投降。我不够竞选纽约州州长运动所要求的条件,所以,我呈递上退出候选人的声明,并怀着痛苦的心情签上我的名字:

“你忠实的朋友,过去是正派人,现在却成了伪证犯、小偷、拐尸犯、酒疯子、贿赂犯和讹诈犯的马克·吐温。”

(1870年)

①坐木杠;这是当时美国的一种私刑。把认为犯有罪行的人绑住,身上涂上柏油,粘上羽毛,让他跨坐在一根木棍上,抬着他游街示众。——译注