Story type: Essay
I take occasion at this time to ask the American people as one man, what are we to do to prevent the spread of the most insidious and disagreeable disease known as hydrophobia? When a fellow-being has to be smothered, as was the case the other day right here in our fair land, a land where tyrant foot hath never trod nor bigot forged a chain, we look anxiously into each other’s faces and inquire, what shall we do?
Shall we go to France at a great expense and fill our systems full of dog virus and then return to our glorious land, where we may fork over that virus to posterity and thus mix up French hydrophobia with the navy-blue blood of free-born American citizens?
I wot not.
If I knew that would be my last wot I would not change it. That is just wot it would be.
What shall we do to avoid getting impregnated with the American dog and then saturating our systems with the alien dog of Paris?
It is a serious matter, and if we do not want to play the Desdemona act we must take some timely precautions. What must those precautions be?
Did it ever occur to the average thinking mind that we might squeeze along for weeks without a dog? Whole families have existed for years after being deprived of dogs. Look at the wealthy of our land. They go on comfortably through life and die at last with the unanimous consent of their heirs dogless.
Then why cannot the poor gradually taper off on dogs? They ought not to stop all of a sudden, but they could leave off a dog at a time until at last they overcame the pernicious habit.
I saw a man in St. Paul last week who was once poor, and so owned seven variegated dogs. He was confirmed in that habit. But he summoned all his will-power at last and said he would shake off these dogs and become a man. He did so, and to-day he owns a city lot in St. Paul, and seems to be the picture of health.
The trouble about maintaining a dog is that he may go on for years in a quiet, gentlemanly way, winning the regard of all who know him, and then all of a sudden he may hydrophobe in the most violent manner. Not only that, but he may do so while we have company. He may also bite our twins or the twins of our warmest friends. He may bite us now and we may laugh at it, but in five years from now, while we are delivering a humorous lecture, we may burst forth into the audience and bite a beautiful young lady in the parquet or on the ear.
It is a solemn thing to think of, fellow-citizens, and I appeal to those who may read this, as a man who may not live to see a satisfactory political reform–I appeal to you to refrain from the dog. He is purely ornamental. We may love a good dog, but we ought to love our children more. It would be a very, very noble and expensive dog that I would agree to feed with my only son.
I know that we gradually become attached to a good dog, but some day he may become attached to us, and what can be sadder than the sight of a leading citizen drawing a reluctant mad dog down the street by main strength and the seat of his pantaloons? (I mean his own, not the dog’s pants. This joke will appear in book form in April. The book will be very readable, and there will be another joke in it also. eod tf.)
I have said a good deal about the dog, pro and con, and I am not a rabid dog abolitionist, for no one loves to have his clear-cut features licked by the warm, wet tongue of a noble dog any more than I do, but rather than see hydrophobia become a national characteristic or a leading industry here, I would forego the dog.
Perhaps all men are that way, however. When they get a little forehanded they forget that they were once poor, and owned dogs. If so, I do not wish to be unfair. I want to be just, and I believe I am. Let us yield up our dogs and take the affection that we would otherwise bestow on them on some human being. I have tried it and it works well. There are thousands of people in the world, of both sexes, who are pining and starving for the love and money that we daily shower on the dog.
If the dog would be kind enough to refrain from introducing his justly celebrated virus into the person of those only who kiss him on the cold, moist nose, it would be all right; but when a dog goes mad he is very impulsive, and he may bestow himself on an obscure man. So I feel a little nervous myself.