Our Forefathers by Bill Nye

Story type: Essay

Seattle, W.T., December 12.–I am up here on the Sound in two senses. I rode down to-day from Tacoma on the Sound, and to-night I shall lecture at Frye’s Opera House.

Seattle is a good town. The name lacks poetic warmth, but some day the man who has invested in Seattle real estate will have reason to pat himself on the back and say “ha ha,” or words to that effect. The city is situated on the side of a large hill and commands a very fine view of that world’s most calm and beautiful collection of water, Puget Sound.

I cannot speak too highly of any sheet of water on which I can ride all day with no compunction of digestion. He who has tossed for days upon the briny deep, will understand this and appreciate it; even if he never tossed upon the angry deep, if it happened to be all he had, he will be glad to know that the Sound is a good piece of water to ride on. The gentle reader who has crossed the raging main and borrowed high-priced meals of the steamship company for days and days, will agree with me that when we can find a smooth piece of water to ride on we should lose no time in crossing it.

In Washington Territory the women vote. That is no novelty to me, of course, for I lived in Wyoming for seven years where women vote, and I held office all the time. And still they say that female voters are poor judges of men, and that any pleasing $2 adonis who comes along and asks for their suffrages will get them.

Not much!!!

Woman is a keen and correct judge of mental and moral worth. Without stopping to give logical reasons for her course, perhaps, she still chooses with unerring judgment at the polls.

Anyone who doubts this statement, will do well to go to the old poll books in Wyoming and examine my overwhelming majorities–with a powerful magnifier.

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I have just received from Boston a warm invitation to be present in that city on Forefathers’ day, to take part in the ceremonies and join in the festivities of that occasion.

Forefathers, I thank you! Though this reply will not reach you for a long time, perhaps, I desire to express to you my deep appreciation of your kindness, and, though I can hardly be regarded as a forefather myself, I assure you that I sympathize with you.

Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to be with you on this day of your general jubilee and to talk over old times with you.

One who has never experienced the thrill of genuine joy that wakens a man to a glad realization of the fact that he is a forefather, cannot understand its full significance. You alone know how it is yourself, you can speak from experience.

In fancy’s dim corridors I see you stand, away back in the early dawn of our national day, with the tallow candle drooping and dying in its socket, as you waited for the physician to come and announce to you that you were a forefather.

Forefathers; you have done well. Others have sought to outdo you and wrest the laurels from your brow, but they did not succeed. As forefathers you have never been successfully scooped.

I hope that you will keep up your justly celebrated organization. If a forefather allows his dues to get in arrears, go to him kindly and ask him like a brother to put up. If he refuses to do so, fire him. There is no reason why a man should presume upon his long standing as a forefather to become insolent to other forefathers who are far his seniors. As a rule, I notice it is the young amateur forefather who has only been so a few days, in fact, who is arrogant and disobedient.

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I have often wished that we could observe Forefathers’ day more generally in the West. Why we should allow the Eastern cities to outdo us in this matter while we hold over them in other ways, I cannot understand. Our church sociables and homicides in the West will compare favorably with those of the effeter cities of the Atlantic slope. Our educational institutions and embezzlers are making rapid strides, especially our embezzlers. We are cultivating a certain air of refinement and haughty reserve which enables us at times to fool the best judges. Many of our Western people have been to the Atlantic seaboard and remained all summer without falling into the hands of the bunko artist. A cow gentleman friend of mine who bathed his plump limbs in the Atlantic last summer during the day, and mixed himself up in the mazy dance at night, told me on his return that he had enjoyed the summer immensely, but that he had returned financially depressed.

“Ah,” said I, with an air of superiority which I often assume while talking to men who know more than I do, “you fell into the hands of the cultivated confidence man?”

“No, William,” he said sadly, “worse than that. I stopped at a seaside hotel. Had I gone to New York City and hunted up the gentlemanly bunko man and the Wall street dealer in lamb’s pelts, as my better judgment prompted, I might have returned with funds. Now I am almost insolvent. I begin life again with great sorrow, and the same old Texas steer with which I went into the cattle industry five years ago.”

But why should we, here in the West, take readily to all other institutions common to the cultured East and ignore the forefather industry? I now make this public announcement, and will stick to it, viz: I will be one of ten full-blooded American citizens to establish a branch forefather’s lodge in the West, with a separate fund set aside for the benefit of forefathers who are no longer young. Forefathers are just as apt to become old and helpless as anyone else. Young men who contemplate becoming forefathers should remember this.

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In Acknowledgement.

To The Metropolitan Guide Publishing Co., New York.

Gentlemen.–I received the copy of your justly celebrated “Guide to rapid Affluence, or How to Acquire Wealth Without Mental Exertion,” price twenty-five cents. It is a great boon.

I have now had this book sixteen weeks, and, as I am wealthy enough, I return it. It is not much worn, and if you will allow me fifteen cents for it, I would be very grateful. It is not the intrinsic value of the fifteen cents that I care for so much, but I would like it as a curiosity.

The book is wonderfully graphic and thorough in all its details, and I was especially pleased with its careful and useful recipe for ointments. One style of ointment spoken of and recommended by your valuable book, is worthy of a place in history. I made some of it according to your formula. I tried it on a friend of mine. He wore it when he went away, and he has not as yet returned. I heard, incidentally, that it adhered to him. People who have examined it say that it retains its position on his person similar to a birthmark.

Your cement does not have the same peculiarity. It does everything but adhere. Among other specialties it effects a singular odor. It has a fragrance that ought to be utilized in some way. Men have harnessed the lightning, and it seems to me that the day is not far distant when a man will be raised up who can control this latent power. Do you not think that possibly you have made a mistake and got your ointment and cement formula mixed? Your cement certainly smells like a corrupt administration in a warm room.

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Your revelations in the liquor manufacture, and how to make any mixed drink with one hand tied, is well worth the price of the book. The chapter on bar etiquette is also excellent. Very few men know how to properly enter a bar-room and what to do after they arrive. How to get into a bar-room without attracting attention, and how to get out without police interference, are points upon which our American drunkards are lamentably ignorant. How to properly address a bar tender, is also a page that no student of good breeding could well omit.

I was greatly surprised to read how simple the manufacture of drinks under your formula is. You construct a cocktail without liquor and then rob intemperance of its sting. You also make all kinds of liquor without the use of alcohol, that demon under whose iron heel thousands of our sons and brothers go down to death and delirium annually. Thus you are doing a good work.

You also unite aloes, tobacco and Rough on Rats, and, by a happy combination, construct a style of beer that is non-intoxicating.

No one could, by any possible means, become intoxicated on your justly celebrated beer. He would not have time. Before he could get inebriated he would be in the New Jerusalem.

Those who drink your beer will not fill drunkards’ graves. They will close their career and march out of this life with perforated stomachs and a look of intense anguish.

Your method of making cider without apples is also frugal and ingenious. Thousands of innocent apple worms annually lose their lives in the manufacture of cider. They are also, in most instances, wholly unprepared to die. By your method, a style of wormless cider is constructed that would not fool anyone. It tastes a good deal like rain water that was rained about the first time that any raining was ever done, and was deprived of air ever since.

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The closing chapter on the subject of “How to win the affections of the opposite sex at sixty yards,” is first-rate. It is wonderful what triumph science and inventions have wrenched from obdurate conditions! Only a few years ago, a young man had to work hard for weeks and months in order to win the love of a noble young woman. Now, with your valuable and scholarly work, price twenty-five cents, he studies over the closing chapter an hour or two, then goes out into society and gathers in his victim. And yet I do not grudge the long, long hours I squandered in those years when people were in heathenish darkness. I had no book like yours to tell me how to win the affections of the opposite sex. I could only blunder on, week after week and yet I do not regret it. It was just the school I needed. It did me good.

Your book will, no doubt, be a good thing for those who now grope, but I have groped so long that I have formed the habit and prefer it. Let me go right on groping. Those who desire to win the affections of the opposite sex at one sitting, will do well to send two bits for your great work, but I am in no hurry. My time is not valuable.

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