Excerpts from Mark Twain’s short story Running for Governor
A few months ago I was nominated for Governor of the great State of New York, to run against Stewart L. Woodford and John T. Hoffman, on an independent ticket. I somehow felt that I had one prominent advantage over these gentlemen, and that was, good character.
I wrote my grandmother about it. Her answer came quick and sharp. She said:
You have never done one single thing in all your life to be ashamed of -- not one. Look at the newspapers -- look at them and comprehend what sort of characters Woodford and Hoffman are, and then see if you are willing to lower yourself to their level and enter a public canvass with them.
It was my very thought! I did not sleep a single moment that night. But after all, I could not recede. I was fully committed and must go on with the fight. As I was looking listlessly over the papers at breakfast, I came across this paragraph, and I may truly say I never was so confounded before:
PERJURY. -- Perhaps, now that Mr. Mark Twain is before the people as a candidate for Governor, he will condescend to explain how he came to be convicted of perjury by thirty-four witnesses, in Wakawak, Cochin China in 1863, the intent of which perjury was to rob a poor native widow and her helpless family of a meager plantain patch, their only stay and support in their bereavement and their desolation. Mr. Twain owes it to himself, as well as to the great people whose suffrages he asks, to clear this matter up. Will he do it?
I thought I should burst with amazement! Such a cruel, heartless charge -- I never had seen Cochin China! I never had heard of Wakawak! I didn't know a plantain patch from a kangaroo! I did not know what to do. I was crazed and helpless. I let the day slip away without doing anything at all. The next morning the same paper had this -- nothing more:
SIGNIFICANT. -- Mr. Twain, it will be observed, is suggestively silent about the Cochin China perjury.
[Mem. -- During the rest of the campaign this paper never referred to me in any other way than as "the infamous perjurer Twain."]
I gave up. I hauled down my colors and surrendered. I was not equal to the requirements of a governmental campaign in the State of New York, and so I sent in my withdrawal from the candidacy, and in bitterness of spirit signed it,
"Once a decent man, but now "MARK TWAIN, I. P., M.T., B.S., D.T., F.C., and L.E."
Cochin China—refers to Vietnam
Plantain patch—a little land to plant plantain(芭蕉)
Haul down one’s colors--to admit you are beaten; say you want to quit.
I. P., M. T., B. S., D. T., F. C., and L. E.—acronyms for “Infamous Perjurer”, “Montana Thief”, “Body-Snatcher”, etc.
Comments (from the internet)
Mark Twain's writing style is characterized by humor, strong narrative and evocative descriptions, as well as a brilliant control of vernacular speech. Mark Twain was a humorist, journalist and novelist who became famous internationally for his distinctive style of travel and fictional narratives.