[The following letter, signed by Satan and purporting to come from him,
we have reason to believe was not written by him, but by Mark Twain.--
TO THE EDITOR OF HARPER'S WEEKLY:
Dear Sir and Kinsman,--Let us have done with this frivolous talk.
The American Board accepts contributions from me every year:
then why shouldn't it from Mr. Rockefeller? In all the ages,
three-fourths of the support of the great charities has been
conscience-money, as my books will show: then what becomes of
the sting when that term is applied to Mr. Rockefeller's gift?
The American Board's trade is financed mainly from the graveyards.
Bequests, you understand. Conscience-money. Confession of an old
crime and deliberate perpetration of a new one; for deceased's
contribution is a robbery of his heirs. Shall the Board decline
bequests because they stand for one of these offenses every time and
generally for both?
Allow me to continue. The charge must persistently and resentfully
and remorselessly dwelt upon is that Mr. Rockefeller's contribution is
incurably tainted by perjury--perjury proved against him in the courts.
IT MAKES US SMILE--down in my place! Because there isn't a rich
man in your vast city who doesn't perjure himself every year before
the tax board. They are all caked with perjury, many layers thick.
Iron-clad, so to speak. If there is one that isn't, I desire
to acquire him for my museum, and will pay Dinosaur rates.
Will you say it isn't infraction of the law, but only annual evasion
of it? Comfort yourselves with that nice distinction if you like--
FOR THE PRESENT. But by and by, when you arrive, I will show you
something interesting: a whole hell-full of evaders! Sometimes a
frank law-breaker turns up elsewhere, but I get those others every time.
To return to my muttons. I wish you to remember that my rich
perjurers are contributing to the American Board with frequency:
it is money filched from the sworn-off personal tax; therefore it
is the wages of sin; therefore it is my money; therefore it is _I_
that contribute it; and, finally, it is therefore as I have said:
since the Board daily accepts contributions from me, why should it
decline them from Mr. Rockefeller, who is as good as I am, let the
courts say what they may?