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THE UNPARALLELED INVASION

EXCERPT FROM W A L T . N E R V I N ' S "CERTAIN


E S S A Y S IN H I S T O R Y "

BY

JACK LONDON
AUTHOR OF " T H E HOUSE OF M A P U H I , " " T H E GOD OF H I S F A T H E R S , " E T C .

ILLUSTRATIONS BY ANDRE" CASTAIGNE

I
T was in the year 1976 that the trouble be- the tie-ribs of consciousness, in the mind of the
tween the world and China reached its English-speaking race, was a capacity to thrill to
culmination. It was because of this that short Saxon words; back and deep down on the
the celebration of the Bi-Centennial of tie-ribs of consciousness of the Chinese mind was
American Liberty was deferred. Many a capacity to thrill to its own hieroglyphics.
other plans of the nations of the earth were, for The Chinese mind could not thrill to short Saxon
the same reason, twisted and tangled and post- words, nor could the English-speaking mind
poned. The world awoke rather abruptly to its thrill to hieroglyphics. The fabrics of their
danger; but for over seventy years, unperceived, minds were woven from totally different stuffs.
affairs had been shaping toward this very end. They were mental aliens. And so it was that
The year 1904 logically marks the beginning Western material achievement and progress
of the development that, seventy years later, made no dent on the rounded sleep of China.
was to bring consternation to the whole world. Came Japan and her victory over Russia in
The Japanese-Russian War took place in 1904, 1904. Now, the Japanese race was the freak
and the historians of the time gravely noted and paradox among Eastern peoples. In some
down that that event marked the entrance of strange way, Japan was receptive to all that the
Japan into the comity of nations. What it West had to offer. Japan swiftly assimilated
really did mark was the awakening of China. Western ideas, and digested them and so capa-
This awakening, long expected, had finally been bly applied them that she suddenly burst forth,
despaired of. The Western nations had tried to full-panoplied, a world-power. There is no ex-
arouse China, and they had failed. Out of their plaining this peculiar openness of Japan to the
native optimism and race egotism, they had alien culture of the West. As well might be
therefore concluded that the task was impos- explained any biological sport in the animal
sible that China would never awaken. kingdom.
What they failed to take into account was this: Having decisively thrashed the great Russian
that between them and China was no common psy- Empire, Japan promptly set about dreaming a
chological speech. Their thought processes were colossal dream of empire for herself. Korea she
radically dissimilar. The Western mind pene- had made into a granary and a colony; treaty
trated the Chinese mind but a short distance privileges and vulpine diplomacy gave her the
when it found itself in a fathomless maze. The monopoly of Manchuria. But Japan was not
Chinese mind penetrated the Western mind an satisfied. She turned her eyes upon China.
equally short distance when it fetched up There lay a vast territory, and in that territory
against a blank, incomprehensible wall. were the hugest deposits of iron and coal in the
It was all a matter of language. There was world the backbone of industrial civilization.
no way to communicate Western ideas to the Given natural resources, the other great factor
Chinese mind. China remained asleep. The ma- in industry is labor. In that territory was a
terial achievement and progress of the West was population of 400,000,000 souls one quarter
a closed book to her. Back and deep down on of the total population of the earth. Further-
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JACK LONDON 309

more, the Chinese were excellent workers, while road-building. It was these same protagonists
their fatalistic philosophy (or religion) and their of machine civilization who discovered the great
stolid nervous organization constituted them oil-deposits of Chunsan, the iron-mountains of
splendid soldiers if they were properly man- Whang-Sing, the copper-ranges of Chinchi; and
aged. Needless to say, Japan was prepared to they sank the gas-wells of Wow-Wee, that most
furnish that management. marvelous reservoir of natural gas in all the
But, best of all, from the standpoint of Japan, worid.
the Chinese was a kindred race. The baffling Japanese emissaries were in China's councils of
enigma of the Chinese character to the West was empire. Japanese statesmen whispered in the
no baffling enigma to the Japanese. The Jap- ears of Chinese statesmen. The political recon-
anese understood the Chinese character as we struction of the Empire was due to them. They
could never school ourselves nor hope to ousted the scholar class, which was violently
understand. The Japanese thought with the reactionary, and put into office progressive
same thought-symbols as did the Chinese, and officials. And in every town and city of the
they thought in the same peculiar grooves. Plmpire newspapers were started. Of course,
Into the Chinese mind the Japanese went on, Japanese editors dictated the policy of these
where we were balked by the obstacle of in- papers, v/hich policy they got direct from Tokio.
comprehension. They took the turning that we It was the newspapers that educated and made
could not perceive, twisted around the obstacle, progressive the great mass of the population.
and were out of sight in the ramifications of China was awake at last. Where the West
the Chinese mind, where we could not follow. had failed, Japan had succeeded. She had
They were brothers. Long ago, one had bor- transmuted Western culture and achievement
rowed the other's written language, and, untold into terms that were intelligible to the Chinese
generations before that, they had diverged from understanding. Japan herself, when she awak-
the common Mongol stock. There had been ened so suddenly, had astounded the world.
changes, differentiations brought about by di- But at the time she was only forty millions
verse conditions and infusions of other blood; strong. China's awakening, what with her four
but, down at the bottom of their beings, twisted hundred millions and the scientific advance of
into the fibers of them, was a heritage in com- the world, was frightfully astounding. She was
mon, a sameness in kind, that time had not the Colossus of the nations, and soon her voice
obliterated. was heard in no uncertain tones in the affairs
And so Japan took upon herself the manage- and councils of the nations. Japan egged her
ment of China. In the years immediately fol- on, and the proud Western peoples listened with,
lowing the war with Russia, her agents swarmed respectful ears.
over the Chinese Empire. A thousand miles be- China's swift and remarkable rise was due
yond the last mission station toiled her engi- to the superlative quality of her labor perhaps
neers and spies, clad as coolies, or under the more than to anything else. The Chinese was
guise of itinerant merchants or proselyting the perfect type of industry. For sheer ability
Buddhist priests, noting down the horse- to work, no worker in the world could compare
power of every waterfall, the likely sites for with him. Work was the breath of his nostrils.
factories, the heights of mountains and passes, Liberty, to him, epitomized itself in access to the
the strategic advantages and weaknesses, the means of toil. To till the soil and labor inter-
wealth of the farming valleys, the number of minably was all he asked of life and the powers
bullocks in a district or the number of laborers that be. And the awakening of China had given
that could be collected by forced levies. Never its vast population not merely free and unlimited
was there such a census, and it could have been access to the means of toil, but access to the
taken by no other people than the dogged, highest and most scientific machine-means of
patient, patriotic Japanese. toil.
But in a short time secrecy was thrown to the China rejuvenescent! It was but a step to
winds. Japan's officers reorganized the Chinese China rampant. She discovered a new pride in
army. Her drill-sergeants made over the medi- herself, and a will of her own. She began to
eval warriors into twentieth-century soldiers, chafe under the guidance of Japan. But she did
accustomed to all the modern machinery of war not chafe long. In the beginning, on Japan's
and with a higher average of marksmanship advice, she had expelled from the Empire all
than the soldiers of any Western nation. The Western missionaries, engineers, drill-sergeants,
engineers of Japan deepened and widened the merchants, and teachers. She now began to
intricate system of canals, built factories and expel the similar representatives of Japan. The
foundries, netted the Empire with telegraphs latter's advisory statesmen were showered with
and telephones, and inaugurated the era of rail- honors and decorations, and sent home. The

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West had awakened Japan, and, as Japan had of subsistence, the excess population had been
requited the West, so Japan was now requited swept away by famine. But now, thanks to the
by China. Japan was thanked for her kindly machine civilization, China's means of subsist-
aid, and flung out, bag and baggage, by her ence had been enormously extended, and there
gigantic protege. were no famines; her population followed on the
The-Western nations chuckled. Japan's rain- heels of the increase in the means of subsistence.
bow dream had gone glimmering. She grew During this time of transition and develop-
angry. China laughed at her. The blood and ment of power China had entertained no dreams
the swords of the samurai would cut, and Japan of conquest. The Chinese was not an imperial
rashly went to war. This occurred in 1922, and race. It was industrious, thrifty, and peace-
in seven bloody months Manchuria, Korea, and loving. War was looked upon as an unpleasant
Formosa were taken away from her, and she but necessary task that must be performed at
was hurled back, bankrupt, to stifle in her tiny times. And so, while the Western races had
crowded islands. Exit Japan from the world- squabbled and fought and world-adventured
drama. Thereafter she devoted herself to art, against one another, China had calmly gone on
and it became her task to please the world greatly working at her machines and growing. Now
with her creations of wonder and beauty. she was spilling over the boundaries of her Em-
Contrary to expectation, China did not prove pire that was all, just spilling over into the
warlike. She had no Napoleonic dream, and adjacent territories, with all the certitude and
was content to devote herself to the arts of terrifyingly slow momentum of a glacier.
peace. After a period of disquiet, the idea was Following upon the alarm raised by Burch-
accepted that China was to be feared, not in aldter's figures, in 1970 France took a long-
war, but in commerce. It will be seen that the threatened stand. French Indo-China had
real danger was not apprehended. China went been overrun, filled up, by Chinese immigrants.
on consummating her machine civilization. France called a halt. The Chinese wave flowed
Instead of a large standing army, she developed on. France assembled a force of a hundred
an immensely larger and splendidly efficient thousand on the boundary between her unfor-
militia. Her navy was so small that it was the tunate colony and China, and China sent down
laughing-stock of the world; nor did she attempt an army of militia soldiers a million strong.
to strengthen it. The treaty ports of the world Behind came the wives and sons and daughters
were never entered by her visiting battleships. and relatives, with their personal household
The real danger lay in the fecundity of her luggage, in a second army. The French force
loins, and it was in 1970 that the first cry of was brushed aside like a fly. The Chinese militia
alarm was raised. For some time all the terri- soldiers, along with their families, over five
tories adjacent to China had been grumbling at millions all told, coolly took possession of
Chinese immigration; but now it suddenly came French Indo-China, and settled down to stay
home to the world that China's population was for a few thousand years.
500,000,000. Since her awakening, she had Outraged France was up in arms. She hurled
increased by a hundred million. Burchaldter fleet after fleet against the coast of China, and
called attention to the fact that there were nearly bankrupted herself by the effort. China
in existence more Chinese than white-skinned had no navy. She withdrew into her shell like
people. He added together the population of a turtle. For a year the French fleets blackened
the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Aus- the coast and bombarded exposed towns and
tralia, South Africa, England, France, Germany, villages. China did not mind. She did not
Italy, Austria, European Russia, and all Scan- depend upon the rest of the world for anything.
dinavia. The result was 495,000,000. And the She calmly kept out of range of the French guns,
population of China overtopped this tremendous and went on working. France wept and wailed,
total by 5,000,000. Burchaldter's figures went wrung her impotent hands, and appealed to the
around the world, and the world shivered. dumfounded nations. Then she landed a puni-
For many centuries China's population had tive expedition to march to Peking. It was two
been constant. Her territory had been satur- hundred and fifty thousand strong, and it was
the flower of France. It landed without op-
ated with population; that is to say, her terri-
position, and marched into the interior. And
tory, with its primitive method of production,
that was the last ever seen of it. The line of
had supported the maximum limit of popula-
communication was snapped on the second day.
tion. But when-she awoke and inaugurated
Not a survivor came back to tell what had hap-
the machine civilization, her productive power
pened. It had been swallowed up in China's
enormously increased. At once the birth- cavernous maw, that was all.
rate began to rise and the death-rate to fall. Be-
fore, when population pressed against the means In the five years that followed, China's ex-

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JACK LONDON 311
pansion, in all land directions, went on apace. navies. Don't shout. We know our navy is
Siam v/as made a part of the Empire, and, in small. You see, we use it for police purposes.
spite of all that England could do, Burma and We do not care for the sea. Our strength is in
the Malay Peninsula were overrun; while, all ourpopulation,which will soon be 1,000,000,000.
along the long south boundary of Siberia, Russia Thanks to you, we are equipped with all modern
was severely pressed by China's advancing war machinery. Send your navies. We will
hordes. The process was simple. First came not notice them. Send your punitive expedi-
the Chinese immigration (or, rather, it was tions but first remember France. To land
already there, having come there slowly and half a million soldiers on our shores would strain
insidiously during the preceding years). Next the resources of any of you. And our thousand
came the clash at arms and the brushing away millions would swallow them down in a mouth-
of all opposition by a monster army of militia ful. Send a million, send five million, and we
soldiers, followed by their families and house- will swallow them down just as readily. Pouf!
hold baggage. And finally came their settling A mere nothing, a meager morsel. Destroy as
down as colonists in the conquered territory. you have threatened, you United States, the ten
Never was there so strange and effective a million coolies we have forced upon your shores
method of world-conquest. why, the amount scarcely equals iialf of our
It was at this time that Burchaldter revised excess birth-rate for a year."
his figures. He had been mistaken. China's So spoke Li Tang Fwung. The world was non-
population must be 700,000,000, 800,000,000 plussed, helpless, terrified. He had spoken truly.
nobody knew how many millions; but, at any There was no combating China's amazing birth-
rate, it would soon be 1,000,000,000. Burch- rate. If her population was 1,000,000,000,
aldter announced that there were two Chinese and was increasing 20,000,000 a year, in
for every white-skinned human in the world, twenty-five years it would be 1.500,000,000
and the v/orld trembled. China's increase must equal to the total population of the world in
have begun in 1904. It was remembered that 1904. And nothing could be done. There was
since that date there had not been a single no way to dam up the monstrous overspilling
famine. At 5,000,000 a year increase, her total flood of life. War was futile. China laughed
increase in the intervening seventy years must at a blockade of her coasts. She welcomed in-
be 350,000,000. But who was to know? It vasion. In her capacious maw was room for
might be more. Who was to know anything all the hosts of earth that could be hurled at her.
of this strange new menace of the twentieth But there was one scholar that China failed
century China, old China, rejuvenescent, to reckon with Jacobus Laningdale. Not
fruitful, and militant! that he was a scholar, except in the widest sense.
The Convention of 1975 was called at Phila- Primarily, Jacobus Laningdale was a scientist,
delphia. All the Western nations, and some and, up to that time, a very obscure scientist
few of the Eastern, were represented. Nothing a professor employed in the laboratories of the
was accomplished. There was talk of all coun- Health Office of New York City. Jacobus Lan-
tries putting bounties on children to increase ingdale's head was very like any other head, but
the birth-rate; but it was laughed to scorn by in that head he evolved an idea. Also, in that
the arithmeticians, who pointed out that China head was the wisdom to keep that idea secret.
was too far in the lead in that direction. No He did not write an article for the magazines.
feasible way of coping with China was suggested. Instead, he asked for a vacation.
China was appealed to and threatened by the On September 19, 1975, he arrived in Wash-
United Powers, and that was all the Conven- ington. It was evening, but he proceeded
tion at Philadelphia came to; and the Con- straight to the White House, for he had already
vention and the. Powers were laughed at by arranged for an audience with the President.
China. Li Tang F'wung, the power behind He was closeted with President .Moyer for three
the Dragon Throne, deigned to reply. hours. What passed between them was not
"What does China care for the comity of learned by the rest of the world until long after.
nations?" said Li Tang Fwung. "We are the Next day the President called in his Cabinet.
most ancient, honorable, and royal of races. We Jacobus Laningdale was present. The proceed-
have our own destiny to accomplish. It is un- ings were kept secret. But that very afternoon
pleasant that our destiny does not gibe with the Rufus Cowdery, Secretary of State, left Wash-.
destiny of the rest of the world, but what would ington, and early the following morning sailed
you? You have talked windily about the royal for England. The secret that he carried began
races and the heritage of the earth, and we can to spread, but it spread only among the heads
only reply that that remains to be seen. You of governments. Possibly half a dozen men in
cannot invade us. Never mind about your a nation were intrusted with the idea that had

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formed in Jacobus Laningdale's head. Follow- sands of fragments on the streets and housetops.
ing the spread of the secret sprang up great But there was nothing deadly about these tubes
activity in all the dockyards, arsenals, and navy- oLglass. Nothing happened. There were no explo-
yards. The people of France and Austria sions. 11 is true that several Chinese were killed
became suspicious, but so sincere were their by the tubes dropping on their heads from so enor-
governments' calls for confidence that they ac- mous a height; but what were three Chinese
quiesced in the iinknown project that was afoot. against an excess birth-rate of twenty millions?
This was the time of the Great Truce. All One tube struck perpendicularly in a fish-
countries solemnly pledged themselves not to go pond in a garden, and was not broken. It was
to war with any other country. The first defi- dragged ashore by the master of the house. He
nite action was the gradual mobilization of the did not dare to open it, but, accompanied by his
armies of Russia, Germany, Austria, Italy, friends and surrounded by an ever-increasing
Greece, and Turkey. Then began the eastward crowd, he carried the mysterious tube to the
movement.' All railroads into Asia were glut- magistrate of the district. The latter was a
ted with troop trains. China was the objective; brave man. With all eyes upon him, he shat-
that was all that was known. A little later tered the tube with a blow from his brass-bowled
began the great sea movement. Expeditions pipe. Nothing happened. Of those who were
of warships were launched from all countries. very near, one or two thought they saw some
Fleet followed fleet, and all proceeded to mosquitos fly out. That was afl. The crowd
the coast of China. The nations cleaned out set up a great laugh, and dispersed.
their navy-yards. They sent their revenue As Peking was bombarded by glass tubes, so
cutters and despatch boats and lighthouse tend- was all China. The tiny aeroplanes, despatched
ers, and they sent their most antiquated cruisers from the warships, contained only two men
and battleships. Not content with this, they each, and over all cities, towns, and villages they
impressed the merchant marine. The statistics wheeled and curved, one man directing the
show that 58,640 merchant steamers, equipped ship, the other throwing the glass tubes.
with searchlights and rapid-fire guns, were de- Had the reader been in Peking again six
spatched by the various nations to China, . weeks later, he would have looked in vain for
And China smiled, and waited. On her land the 11,000,000 inhabitants. Some few of them
side, along her boundaries, were millions of the he would have found, a few hundred thousand,
warriors of Europe. She mobilized her militia perhaps, their carcasses festering in the houses
to the number of five times as many millions, and in the deserted streets, and piled high on
and waited for the invasion. On her sea-coasts the abandoned death-wagons. But for the rest
she did the same. But China was puzzled. he would have had to seek along the highways
After all this enormous preparation, there was and byways of the Empire. And not all would
no invasion. She did not understand. Along he have found fleeing from plague-stricken
the great Siberian frontier all was quiet. Along Peking, for behind them, by hundreds of thou-
her coasts, the towns and villages were not even sands of unburied corpses by the wayside, he
shelled. Never in the history of the world had could have marked their flight.
there been so mighty a gathering of war-fleets. As it was with Peking so it was with all the
The fleets of all the world were there, and day cities, towns, and villages of the Empire. The
and night millions of tons of battleships plowed plague smote them all. Nor was it one plague,
the brine of hercoasts. And nothing happened. nor two plagues: it was a score of plagues.
Nothing was attempted. Did they think to Every virulent form of infectious death stalked
make her emerge from her shell? China smiled. through the land. Too late the Chinese Gov-
Did they think to tire her out, or starve her ernment apprehended the meaning of the colos-
out? Again China smiled. sal preparations, the marshaling of the world
But on May i, 1976, had the reader been in hosts, the flights of the tiny aeroplanes, and the
the imperial city of Peking, with its population rain of the tubes of glass. The proclamations
of 11,000,000, he would have witnessed a curious of the Government were in vain. They could
sight. He would have seen the streets filled with not stop the 11,000,000 plague-stricken wretches
the chattering yellow populace, every queued fleeing from the one city of Peking to spread
head tilted back, every slant eye turned skyward. disease through all the land. Physicians and
health officers died at their posts; and death,
And high up in the blue he would have beheld a
the all-conqueror, rode over thai decrees of the
tiny dot of black, which he would have identified
Emperor and Li Tang Fwung. It rode over
as an aeroplane.^ From this aeroplane, as it
them as well, for Li Tang Fwung died in the
curved its flight back and forth over the city,
second week, and the Emperor, hidden away in
fell missilesstrange, harmless-looking missiles,
the Summer Palace, died in the fourth week.
tubes of fragile glass that shattered into thou-

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THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA AFTER THE UNPARALLELED INVASION OF 1976

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314 THE UNPARALLELED INVASION
Had there been but one plague, China might guarding sea-hounds. Modern war machinery
have coped with it. But from a score of plagues held back the disorganized mass of China, while
no creature was immune. The man who es- the plague did the work.
caped smallpox went down before scarlet fever; But old war was made a thing of laughter.
the man who was immune to yellow fever was Naught remained to him but patrol duty.
carried away by cholera; and if he were immune China had laughed at war, and war she was
to that too, the Black Death, which was the getting; but it was ultra-modern war, twentieth-
bubonic plague, swept him away. For it was century war, the war of the scientist and the
these bacteria, and germs, and microbes, and ba- laboratory, the war of Jacobus Laningdale.
cilli, cultured in thelaboratoriesof the West, that Hundred-ton guns were toys compared with the
had come down upon China in the rain of glass. microorganic projectiles hurled from the lab-
All organization vanished. The Government oratories, the messengers of death, the destroy-
crumbled away. Decrees and proclamations ing angels that stalked through the empire of a
were useless when the men who made them and billion souls.
signed them one moment were dead the next. During all the summer and fall of 1976 China
Nor could the maddened millions, spurred on to was an inferno. There was no eluding the
flight by death, pause to heed anything. They microscopic projectiles that sought out the re-
fled from the cities to infect the country, and, motest hiding-places. The hundreds of mil-
wherever they fled, they carried the plague with lions of dead remained unburied, and the germs
them. The hot summer was on,^ Jacobus multiplied; and, toward the last, millions died
Laningdale had selected the time shrewdly, daily of starvation. Besides, starvation weak-
and the plague festered everywhere. ened the victims and destroyed their natural de-
Much is conjectured of what occurred, and fenses against the plague. Cannibalism, murder,
much has been learned from the stories of the and madness reigned. And so China perished.
few survivors. The wretched creatures streamed Not until the following February, in the cold-
across the Empire in many-millioned flight. est weather, were the first expeditions made.
The vast armies that China had collected on her These expeditions were small, composed of
frontiers melted away. The farms were rav- scientists and bodies of troops; but they entered
aged for food, and no more crops were planted, China from every side. In spite of the most
while the crops already in were left unattended elaborate precautions against infection, num-
and never came to harvest. The most remark- bers of soldiers and a few of the physicians were
able thing, perhaps, was the flights. Many stricken. But the exploration went bravely on.
millions engaged in them, charging to the They found China devastated, a howling wilder-
bounds of the Empire, to be met and turned ness through which wandered bands of wild
back by the gigantic armies of the West. The dogs and desperate bandits who had survived.
slaughter of the mad hosts on the boundaries All survivors were put to death, wherever found.
was stupendous. Time and again the guarding And then began the great task, the sanitation
line was drawn back twenty or thirty miles to of China. Five years and hundreds of millions
escape the contagion of the multitudinous dead. of treasure were consumed, and then the world
Once the plague broke through and seized the moved in not in zones, as was the idea of
German and Austrian soldiers who were guard- Baron Albrecht, but heterogeneously, according
ing the borders of Turkestan. Preparations to the democratic American program. It was
had been made for such a happening, and, a vast and happy intermingling of nationalities
though sixty thousand soldiers of Europe were that settled down in China in 1982 and the years
carried off, the international corps of physicians that followed a tremendous and successful
isolated the contagion and dammed it back. experiment in cross-fertilization. We know
Such was the unparalleled invasion of China. to-day the splendid mechanical, intellectual,
P'or that billion of people there was no hope. and artistic output that followed.
Pent in their vast and festering charnel-house, It was in 1987, the Great Truce having been
all organization and cohesion lost, they could do dissolved, that the ancient quarrel between
naught but die. They could not escape. As France and Germany over Alsace and Lorraine
they were flung back from their land frontiers, recrudesced. The war-cloud grew dark and
so they were flung back from the sea. Seventy- threatening in April, and on April 17 the Con-
five thousand vessels patrolled the coasts. By vention of Copenhagen was called. The repre-
day their smoking funnels dimmed the sea-rim, sentatives of the nations of the world being
and by night their flashing searchlights plowed present, all nations solemnly pledged themselves
the dark and harrowed it for the tiniest escaping never to use against one another the laboratory
junk. The attempts of the immense fleets of methods of warfare they had employed in the
junks were pitiful. Not one ever got by the invasion of China.

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A GRAMOPHONE LECTURE ON CHINA'S DEATH AT THE DULUTH INSTITUTE
OF MICROCOSMOLOGY IN THE YEAR 1977

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*-

From the issue of "Puck " for May 25, 1881

A HARMLESS EXPLOSION
ONE OF THE MANY " M E TOO P L A T T " CARTOONS PUBLISHED AT THE TIME OF T H E
GARFIELD-CONKLING DISPUTE

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SENATOR PLATT'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY
PART II

THE GARFIELD-CQNKLING FEUD


A NEW VERSION OF T H I S FAMOUS EPISODE, IN WHICH
PLATT SAYS HE TOOK THE INITIATIVE IN RESIGNING
FROM THE S E N A T E , AND DID NOT ECHO
CONKLING, AS HIS CRITICS A S S E R T -
THE ASSASSINATION OF GARFIELD

I
FORMED a tender friendship for General with a luster that challenged the admiration of
Ulysses S. Grant from the day 1 first met him the worid.
personally, in the early seventies, when I No wonder that Grant is immortalized.
was serving in Congress. General Grant was
just below medium height. He was My Services to Grant
stockily built, and broad-shouldered. Iron jaws
and rigid lips exemplified indomitable pluck, My friend General James S. Clarkson thus
grim courage, and determination. A beard bears testimony to my services to General Grant
usually cropped close, hair sprinkled with when, in 1884, the former President was suffer-
silvery strands, steady, piercing eyes, and a ing mental agony:
Roman nose, the nostrils dilating when the man "Piatt was taken deeply into the confidence
was aroused, characterized his personal ap- and friendship of President Grant a friend-
pearance. ship that lasted until General Grant's death.
Grant cared little for dress. As, in the army, And it showed itself as having been safely re-
he preferred to forget gold lace and epaulets, posed when, in the troublous days of the great
and to go about in a careless uniform and di- soldier and his sons, in their financial fiasco in
lapidated slouch hat, so, even as President, he New York, Mr. Piatt came to their help and
wore the plainest clothing. I have known him saved them all from humiliation and injury that
frequently to jam the omnipresent big black time itself could never have cured, nor the offi-
cigar between his teeth, slip out of the White cial power of the nation averted. This version
House by a back exit, and pace alone for miles came to the writer direct from GeneralGrant
up and down sequestered Washington streets, himself during close party association in the
endeavoring to solve the great problems of State campaign for Blaine in 1884, one of the darkest
that confronted him. Though I always found and saddest years in the General's history; when
Grant approachable and courteous, he talked povertywasathisdoor, and himself and his deeds
little except in monosyllables, listened intently, apparently forgotten by the American people.
carefully analyzed every suggestion, and, having " In conversation, then, the great hero, who
once made up his mind, all the king's horses had eariy seen the worth of Mr. Piatt and taken
and-all the king's men could not swerve him. him to his heart as a friend, said he had received
He was the most modest, unassuming man in such help from Mr. Piatt as he had never re-
high station 1 recall. He was as grateful as a ceived from any one in his whole life. This
child, trustful of and devoted to friends, hurt to faithfulness to friendship, in loyal response to
the quick if they proved unworthy, and perhaps
friendship eariy shown to him, continued in its
of too forgiving a spirit in the treatment of his
help to the sons, after the General's death, in
traducers. He was great and magnanimous
such measure as they only know."
as commander of the Union armies, greater as
President, and as a citizen of the Republic shone So unpopular had the Hayes administration
become with the Republicans in New York in
3'7

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