By Guest Contributor Fanny Fern.
I think I should like to be an editor, if somebody would do all the disagreeable, hard work for me, and leave me only the fancy touches. I don’t know how profound my political articles would be, but they would be mine. I think my book reviews would be pleasant reading, at least to everybody but some of the authors. I should have a high railing round my editorial desk, and “through the lattice” microscopically and leisurely regard the row of expectant men waiting outside for a hearing. I should not need a spittoon in my office. Nobody should contribute to my paper who smoked, or chewed, or snuffed tobacco; that would diminish my contributors’ list about right. I should discard Webster and Walker, and inaugurate a dictionary of my own. I should allow anybody who felt inclined to send me samples of big strawberries and peaches, and bunches of flowers; and I should get a fine library, free gratis, out of the books sent me to review. As to grinding the axes of the givers in return, why that, of course, should always be left to the option of the editor. Before I commenced an editor’s life, I should secure money enough in some way to be able to snap my fingers in the face of that grim ogre, “Stop my Paper!” I tell you I wouldn’t stop it. It is a free country. I’d keep on sending it to him. I’d always have something in every number about him, so that he couldn’t do without having it, how much soever he might want to.
Then you should see my desk. It should be dusted once a year, to show editors what a desk might be. My editorial chair shouldn’t pivot; there should be no shadow of turning about that. Gibraltar should be a circumstance to it. The windows of my editorial den should be scraped with a sharp knife occasionally, to take off sufficient dirt to enable me to write legibly. I should keep my best bonnet in a bandbox under my desk, for any sudden dress emergency, as do editors their go-to-meetin’ hat. Like them, too, I should have a small looking-glass for—visitors! also a bottle of—“medicine” for—visitors! I don’t think I should need a safe, as the principles upon which my paper would be conducted would render it unnecessary. My object would be to amuse myself, and say just what came uppermost, not by any means to please or edify my species. Now, I have examined all the papers that cross my threshold, and I am very sure that I have hit on quite an original idea.
If it stormed badly on publication day, I wouldn’t send the poor devils in my employ out with my paper, just because my subscribers fancied they wanted it. Let ’em wait. The first fair day they’d have it, of course. In the meantime, the printer’s devil, and the compositors, and the rest of ’em, could play chequers till the sky cleared up.
If anybody sued me for libel, I’d—I’d whine out, “Aint you ashamed to annoy a female? Why don’t you strike one of your own size?” I should insist on being treated with the deference due to a woman, though in all respects I should demand the untrammeled-seven-leagued-boots-freedom of a man. My object would be to hit everybody smack between the eyes, when I felt like it; and when I saw brutal retribution coming, to throw my silk apron over my head and whimper.
I have not yet decided upon the title of my paper. Children are not generally baptized until after they are born. Nor do I know who will stand sponsor. All that is in the misty future. As to the price, I should nail up a cash-box at the foot of the stairs, and people could drop in whatever they liked. I should, by that means, not only show my unshaken confidence in human nature, but also learn in what estimation the general public held my services. There’s nothing so dear to my heart as spontaneity.
This essay and hundreds of pages of other amusements may be found in Dr. Boli’s Anthology of American Humor, now available in splendid paperback or as a free PDF download. Look at the PDF, and if you think this book is exactly what your Uncle Vratislaus needs for Christmas, buy the paperback book.