June 10, 2007

Mark Twain on Murder

Now that we’ve heard the official ideology of murder that drives some of the leading practitioners of US-Cuba policy (see Ileana Speaks), it seems fitting to share this tidbit that I accidentally ran into the other night… from Mr. Samuel Clemens, no less.

In a letter written to Reverend J.H. Twichell on September 10, 1901 (a few days after the fatal shooting of US President McKinley), he writes:

“I bought a revolver once and traveled twelve hundred miles to kill a man. He was away. He was gone a day. With nothing else to do, I had to stop and think—and did. Within an hour—within half of it—I was ashamed of myself—and felt unspeakably ridiculous. I do not know what to call it if I was not insane. During a whole week my head was in turmoil night and day fierce enough and exhausting enough to upset a stronger reason than mine.

“All over the world, every day, there are some millions of men in that condition temporarily. And in that time there is always a moment—perhaps only a single one when they would do murder if their man was at hand. If the opportunity comes a shade too late, the chances are that it has come permanently too late. Opportunity seldom comes exactly at the supreme moment. This saves a million lives a day in the world—for sure.

“It may take this present shooting-case six months to breed another ruler-tragedy, but it will breed it. There is at least one mind somewhere which will brood, and wear, and decay itself to the killing-point and produce that tragedy.”