Story type: Essay
Dear Sir.–Your courteous letter of the 1st instant, in which you cordially consent to share my wealth and dwell together with me in fraternal sunshine, is duly received. While I dislike to appear cold and distant to one who seems so yearnful and so clinging, and while I do not wish to be regarded as purse-proud or arrogant, I must decline your kind offer to whack up. You had not heard, very likely, that I am not now a Communist. I used to be, I admit, and the society no doubt neglected to strike my name off the roll of active members. For a number of years I was quite active as a Communist. I would have been more active, but I had conscientious scruples against being active in anything then.
While you may be perfectly sincere in your belief that the great capitalists like Mr. Gould and Mr. Vanderbilt should divide with you, you will have great difficulty in making it perfectly clear to them. They will probably demur and delay, and hem and haw, and procrastinate, till finally they will get out of it in some way. Still, I do not wish to throw cold water on your enterprise. If the other capitalists look favorably on the plan, I will cheerfully co-operate with them. You go and see what you can do with Mr. Vanderbilt, and then come to me.
You go on at some length to tell me how the most of the wealth is in the hands of a few men, and then you attack those men and refer to them in a way that makes my blood run cold. You tell the millionaires of America to beware, for the hot breath of a bloody-handed Nemesis is already in the air.
You may say to Nemesis, if you please, that I have a double-barreled shotgun standing at the head of my bed every night, and that I am in the Nemesis business. You also refer to the fact that the sleuth-hounds of eternal justice are camped on the trail of the pampered millionaire, and you ask us to avaunt. If you see the other sleuth-hounds of your society within a week or two, I wish you would say to them that at a regular meeting of the millionaires of this country, after the minutes of the previous meeting had been read and approved, we voted almost unanimously to discourage any sleuth-hound that we found camped on our trail after ten o’clock, P.M. Sleuth-hounds who want to ramble over our trails during office hours may do so with the utmost impunity, but after ten o’clock we want to use our trails for other purposes. No man wants to go to the great expense of maintaining a trail winter and summer, and then leave it out nights for other people to use and return it when they get ready.
I do not censure you, however. If you could convince every one of the utility of Communism, it would certainly be a great boon–to you. To those who are now engaged in feeding themselves with flat beer out of a tomato can, such a change as you suggest would fall like a ray of sunshine in a rat-hole, but alas! it may never be. I tried it awhile, but my efforts were futile. The effect of my great struggle seemed to be that men’s hearts grew more and more stony, and my pantaloons got thinner and thinner on the seat, ’till it seemed to me that the world never was so cold. Then I made some experiments in manual labor. As I began to work harder and sit down less, I found that the world was not so cold. It was only when I sat down a long time that I felt how cold and rough the world really was.
Perhaps it is so with you. Sedentary habits and stale beer are apt to make us morbid. Sitting on the stone door sills of hallways and public buildings during cold weather is apt to give you an erroneous impression of life.
Of course I am willing to put my money into a common fund if I can be convinced that it is best. I was an inside passenger on a Leadville coach some years ago, when a few of your friends suggested that we all put our money into a common fund, and I was almost the first one to see that they were right. They went away into the mountains to apportion the money they got from our party, but I never got any dividend. Probably they lost my post-office address.