Meet us on:
Welcome to Read Print! Sign in with
or
to get started!
 
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "To use fear as the friend it is, we must retrain and reprogram ourselves...We must persistently and convincingly tell ourselves that the fear is here--with its gift of energy and heightened awareness--so we can do our best and learn the most in the new situation."
     

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Chapter 16

    • Rate it:
    • 1 Favorite on Read Print
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 17
    Previous Chapter
    There is a Moral sense, and there is an Immoral Sense. History shows us
    that the Moral Sense enables us to perceive morality and how to avoid it,
    and that the Immoral Sense enables us to perceive immorality and how to
    enjoy it.
    -Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.

    Melbourne spreads around over an immense area of ground. It is a stately
    city architecturally as well as in magnitude. It has an elaborate system
    of cable-car service; it has museums, and colleges, and schools, and
    public gardens, and electricity, and gas, and libraries, and theaters,
    and mining centers, and wool centers, and centers of the arts and
    sciences, and boards of trade, and ships, and railroads, and a harbor,
    and social clubs, and journalistic clubs, and racing clubs, and a
    squatter club sumptuously housed and appointed, and as many churches and
    banks as can make a living. In a word, it is equipped with everything
    that goes to make the modern great city. It is the largest city of
    Australasia, and fills the post with honor and credit. It has one
    specialty; this must not be jumbled in with those other things. It is
    the mitred Metropolitan of the Horse-Racing Cult. Its race-ground is the
    Mecca of Australasia. On the great annual day of sacrifice--the 5th of
    November, Guy Fawkes's Day--business is suspended over a stretch of land
    and sea as wide as from New York to San Francisco, and deeper than from
    the northern lakes to the Gulf of Mexico; and every man and woman, of
    high degree or low, who can afford the expense, put away their other
    duties and come. They begin to swarm in by ship and rail a fortnight
    before the day, and they swarm thicker and thicker day after day, until
    all the vehicles of transportation are taxed to their uttermost to meet
    the demands of the occasion, and all hotels and lodgings are bulging
    outward because of the pressure from within. They come a hundred
    thousand strong, as all the best authorities say, and they pack the
    spacious grounds and grandstands and make a spectacle such as is never to
    be seen in Australasia elsewhere.

    It is the "Melbourne Cup" that brings this multitude together. Their
    clothes have been ordered long ago, at unlimited cost, and without bounds
    as to beauty and magnificence, and have been kept in concealment until
    now, for unto this day are they consecrate. I am speaking of the ladies'
    clothes; but one might know that.

    And so the grand-stands make a brilliant and wonderful spectacle, a
    delirium of color, a vision of beauty. The champagne flows, everybody is
    vivacious, excited, happy; everybody bets, and gloves and fortunes change
    hands right along, all the time. Day after day the races go on, and the
    fun and the excitement are kept at white heat; and when each day is done,
    the people dance all night so as to be fresh for the race in the morning.
    And at the end of the great week the swarms secure lodgings and
    transportation for next year, then flock away to their remote homes and
    count their gains and losses, and order next year's Cup-clothes, and then
    lie down and sleep two weeks, and get up sorry to reflect that a whole
    year must be put in somehow or other before they can be wholly happy
    again.

    The Melbourne Cup is the Australasian National Day. It would be
    difficult to overstate its importance. It overshadows all other holidays
    and specialized days of whatever sort in that congeries of colonies.
    Overshadows them? I might almost say it blots them out. Each of them
    gets attention, but not everybody's; each of them evokes interest, but
    not everybody's; each of them rouses enthusiasm, but not everybody's; in
    each case a part of the attention, interest, and enthusiasm is a matter
    of habit and custom, and another part of it is official and perfunctory.
    Cup Day, and Cup Day only, commands an attention, an interest, and an
    enthusiasm which are universal--and spontaneous, not perfunctory. Cup
    Day is supreme it has no rival. I can call to mind no specialized annual
    day, in any country, which can be named by that large name--Supreme. I
    can call to mind no specialized annual day, in any country, whose
    approach fires the whole land with a conflagration of conversation and
    preparation and anticipation and jubilation. No day save this one; but
    this one does it.

    In America we have no annual supreme day; no day whose approach makes the
    whole nation glad. We have the Fourth of July, and Christmas, and
    Thanksgiving. Neither of them can claim the primacy; neither of them can
    arouse an enthusiasm which comes near to being universal. Eight grown
    Americans out of ten dread the coming of the Fourth, with its pandemonium
    and its perils, and they rejoice when it is gone--if still alive. The
    approach of Christmas brings harassment and dread to many excellent
    people. They have to buy a cart-load of presents, and they never know
    what to buy to hit the various tastes; they put in three weeks of hard
    and anxious work, and when Christmas morning comes they are so
    dissatisfied with the result, and so disappointed that they want to sit
    down and cry. Then they give thanks that Christmas comes but once a
    year. The observance of Thanksgiving Day--as a function--has become
    general of late years. The Thankfulness is not so general. This is
    natural. Two-thirds of the nation have always had hard luck and a hard
    time during the year, and this has a calming effect upon their
    enthusiasm.

    We have a supreme day--a sweeping and tremendous and tumultuous day, a
    day which commands an absolute universality of interest and excitement;
    but it is not annual. It comes but once in four years; therefore it
    cannot count as a rival of the Melbourne Cup.

    In Great Britain and Ireland they have two great days--Christmas and the
    Queen's birthday. But they are equally popular; there is no supremacy.

    I think it must be conceded that the position of the Australasian Day is
    unique, solitary, unfellowed; and likely to hold that high place a long
    time.

    The next things which interest us when we travel are, first, the people;
    next, the novelties; and finally the history of the places and countries
    visited. Novelties are rare in cities which represent the most advanced
    civilization of the modern day. When one is familiar with such cities in
    the other parts of the world he is in effect familiar with the cities of
    Australasia. The outside aspects will furnish little that is new. There
    will be new names, but the things which they represent will sometimes be
    found to be less new than their names. There may be shades of
    difference, but these can easily be too fine for detection by the
    incompetent eye of the passing stranger. In the larrikin he will not be
    able to discover a new species, but only an old one met elsewhere, and
    variously called loafer, rough, tough, bummer, or blatherskite, according
    to his geographical distribution. The larrikin differs by a shade from
    those others, in that he is more sociable toward the stranger than they,
    more kindly disposed, more hospitable, more hearty, more friendly. At
    least it seemed so to me, and I had opportunity to observe. In Sydney,
    at least. In Melbourne I had to drive to and from the lecture-theater,
    but in Sydney I was able to walk both ways, and did it. Every night, on
    my way home at ten, or a quarter past, I found the larrikin grouped in
    considerable force at several of the street corners, and he always gave
    me this pleasant salutation:

    "Hello, Mark!"

    "Here's to you, old chap!

    "Say--Mark!--is he dead?"--a reference to a passage in some book of mine,
    though I did not detect, at that time, that that was its source. And I
    didn't detect it afterward in Melbourne, when I came on the stage for the
    first time, and the same question was dropped down upon me from the dizzy
    height of the gallery. It is always difficult to answer a sudden inquiry
    like that, when you have come unprepared and don't know what it means.
    I will remark here--if it is not an indecorum--that the welcome which an
    American lecturer gets from a British colonial audience is a thing which
    will move him to his deepest deeps, and veil his sight and break his
    voice. And from Winnipeg to Africa, experience will teach him nothing;
    he will never learn to expect it, it will catch him as a surprise each
    time. The war-cloud hanging black over England and America made no
    trouble for me. I was a prospective prisoner of war, but at dinners,
    suppers, on the platform, and elsewhere, there was never anything to
    remind me of it. This was hospitality of the right metal, and would have
    been prominently lacking in some countries, in the circumstances.

    And speaking of the war-flurry, it seemed to me to bring to light the
    unexpected, in a detail or two. It seemed to relegate the war-talk to
    the politicians on both sides of the water; whereas whenever a
    prospective war between two nations had been in the air theretofore, the
    public had done most of the talking and the bitterest. The attitude of
    the newspapers was new also. I speak of those of Australasia and India,
    for I had access to those only. They treated the subject argumentatively
    and with dignity, not with spite and anger. That was a new spirit, too,
    and not learned of the French and German press, either before Sedan or
    since. I heard many public speeches, and they reflected the moderation
    of the journals. The outlook is that the English-speaking race will
    dominate the earth a hundred years from now, if its sections do not get
    to fighting each other. It would be a pity to spoil that prospect by
    baffling and retarding wars when arbitration would settle their
    differences so much better and also so much more definitely.

    No, as I have suggested, novelties are rare in the great capitals of
    modern times. Even the wool exchange in Melbourne could not be told from
    the familiar stock exchange of other countries. Wool brokers are just
    like stockbrokers; they all bounce from their seats and put up their
    hands and yell in unison--no stranger can tell what--and the president
    calmly says "Sold to Smith & Co., threpence farthing--next!"--when
    probably nothing of the kind happened; for how should he know?

    In the museums you will find acres of the most strange and fascinating
    things; but all museums are fascinating, and they do so tire your eyes,
    and break your back, and burn out your vitalities with their consuming
    interest. You always say you will never go again, but you do go. The
    palaces of the rich, in Melbourne, are much like the palaces of the rich
    in America, and the life in them is the same; but there the resemblance
    ends. The grounds surrounding the American palace are not often large,
    and not often beautiful, but in the Melbourne case the grounds are often
    ducally spacious, and the climate and the gardeners together make them as
    beautiful as a dream. It is said that some of the country seats have
    grounds--domains--about them which rival in charm and magnitude those
    which surround the country mansion of an English lord; but I was not out
    in the country; I had my hands full in town.

    And what was the origin of this majestic city and its efflorescence of
    palatial town houses and country seats? Its first brick was laid and
    its first house built by a passing convict. Australian history is almost
    always picturesque; indeed, it is so curious and strange, that it is
    itself the chiefest novelty the country has to offer, and so it pushes
    the other novelties into second and third place. It does not read like
    history, but like the most beautiful lies. And all of a fresh new sort,
    no mouldy old stale ones. It is full of surprises, and adventures, and
    incongruities, and contradictions, and incredibilities; but they are all
    true, they all happened.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 17
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Mark Twain essay and need some advice, post your Mark Twain essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Finished
    Want to read
    Abandoned

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?