Mr Bloke's Item

Our esteemed friend, Mr. John William Bloke, of Virginia City, walked

into the office where we are sub-editor at a late hour last night, with

an expression of profound and heartfelt suffering upon his countenance,

and, sighing heavily, laid the following item reverently upon the desk,

and walked slowly out again. He paused a moment at the door, and seemed

struggling to command his feelings sufficiently to enable him to speak,

and then, nodding his head toward his manuscript, ejaculated in a

broken voice, "Friend of mine--oh! how sad!" and burst into tears. We

were so moved at his distress that we did not think to call him back

and endeavour to comfort him until he was gone, and it was too late.

The paper had already gone to press, but knowing that our friend would

consider the publication of this item important, and cherishing the

hope that to print it would afford a melancholy satisfaction to his

sorrowing heart, we stopped the press at once and inserted it in our


DISTRESSING ACCIDENT.--Last evening, about six o'clock, as Mr.

William Schuyler, an old and respectable citizen of South Park, was

leaving his residence to go downtown, as has been his usual custom

for many years with the exception only of a short interval in the

spring of 1850, during which he was confined to his bed by injuries

received in attempting to stop a runaway horse by thoughtlessly

placing himself directly in its wake and throwing up his hands and

shouting, which if he had done so even a single moment sooner, must

inevitably have frightened the animal still more instead of

checking its speed, although disastrous enough to himself as it

was, and rendered more melancholy and distressing by reason of the

presence of his wife's mother, who was there and saw the sad

occurrence notwithstanding it is at least likely, though not

necessarily so, that she should be reconnoitering in another

direction when incidents occur, not being vivacious and on the

lookout, as a general thing, but even the reverse, as her own

mother is said to have stated, who is no more, but died in the full

hope of a glorious resurrection, upwards of three years ago, aged

eighty-six, being a Christian woman and without guile, as it were,

or property, in consequence of the fire of 1849, which destroyed

every single thing she had in the world. But such is life. Let us

all take warning by this solemn occurrence, and let us endeavour so

to conduct ourselves that when we come to die we can do it. Let us

place our hands upon our heart, and say with earnestness and

sincerity that from this day forth, we will beware of the

intoxicating bowl.--First Edition of the Californian.

The head editor has been in here raising the mischief, and tearing his

hair and kicking the furniture about, and abusing me like a pickpocket.

He says that every time he leaves me in charge of the paper for half an

hour I get imposed upon by the first infant or the first idiot that

comes along. And he says that that distressing item of Mr. Bloke's is

nothing but a lot of distressing bosh, and has no point to it, and no

sense in it, and no information in it, and that there was no sort of

necessity for stopping the press to publish it.

Now all this comes of being good-hearted. If I had been as

unaccommodating and unsympathetic as some people, I would have told Mr.

Bloke that I wouldn't receive his communication at such a late hour;

but no, his snuffling distress touched my heart, and I jumped at the

chance of doing something to modify his misery. I never read his item

to see whether there was anything wrong about it, but hastily wrote the

few lines which preceded it, and sent it to the printers. And what has

my kindness done for me? It has done nothing but bring down upon me a

storm of abuse and ornamental blasphemy.

Now I will read that item myself, and see if there is any foundation

for all this fuss. And if there is, the author of it shall hear from


* * * * *

I have read it, and I am bound to admit that it seems a little mixed at

a first glance. However, I will peruse it once more.

I have read it again, and it does really seem a good deal more mixed

than ever.

I have read it over five times, but if I can get at the meaning of it I

wish I may get my just deserts. It won't bear analysis. There are

things about it which I cannot understand at all. It don't say whatever

became of William Schuyler. It just says enough about him to get one

interested in his career, and then drops him. Who is William Schuyler,

anyhow, and what part of South Park did he live in, and if he started

down-town at six o'clock, did he ever get there, and if he did, did

anything happen to him? Is he the individual that met with the

"distressing accident?" Considering the elaborate circumstantiality of

detail observable in the item, it seems to me that it ought to contain

more information than it does. On the contrary, it is obscure--and not

only obscure, but utterly incomprehensible. Was the breaking of Mr.

Schuyler's leg, fifteen years ago, the "distressing accident" that

plunged Mr. Bloke into unspeakable grief, and caused him to come up

here at dead of night and stop our press to acquaint the world with the

circumstance? Or did the "distressing accident" consist in the

destruction of Schuyler's mother-in-law's property in early times? Or

did it consist in the death of that person herself three years ago

(albeit it does not appear that she died by accident)? In a word, what

did that "distressing accident" consist in? What did that driveling

ass of a Schuyler stand in the wake of a runaway horse for, with his

shouting and gesticulating, if he wanted to stop him? And how the

mischief could he get run over by a horse that had already passed

beyond him? And what are we to take "warning" by? And how is this

extraordinary chapter of incomprehensibilities going to be a "lesson"

to us? And, above all, what has the intoxicating "bowl" got to do with

it, anyhow? It is not stated that Schuyler drank, or that his wife

drank, or that his mother-in-law drank, or that the horse drank--wherefore,

then, the reference to the intoxing bowl? It does seem to me that if

Mr. Bloke had let the intoxicating bowl alone himself, he never would

get into so much trouble about this exasperating imaginary accident. I

have read this absurd item over and over again, with all its

insinuating plausibility, until my head swims; but I can make neither

head nor tail of it. There certainly seems to have been an accident of

some kind or other, but it is impossible to determine what the nature

of it was, or who was the sufferer by it. I do not like to do it, but I

feel compelled to request that the next time anything happens to one of

Mr. Bloke's friends, he will append such explanatory notes to his

account of it as will enable me to find out what sort of an accident it

was and to whom it happened. I had rather all his friends should die

than that I should be driven to the verge of lunacy again in trying to

cipher out the meaning of another such production as the above.