by Bill Nye

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<h2>Asking for a Pass</h2><p style=

The general passenger agent of a prominent road leading out of Chicago toward the south, tells me that he is getting a good many letters lately asking for passes, and he complains bitterly over the awkward and unsatisfactory style of the correspondence. Acting on this suggestion and though a little late in the day, perhaps, I have erected the following as a guide to those who contemplate writing under similar circumstances:

Office of The Evening Squeal, January 14, 1886.

General Passenger Agent, Great North American Gitthere R.R., Chicago, Ill.

Dear Sir.–I desire to know by return mail whether or no you would be pleased to swap transportation for kind words. I am the editor of “The Squeal,” published at this place. It is a paper pure in tone, world wide in its scope and irresistible in the broad sweep of its mighty arm.

I desire to visit the great exposition at New Orleans this winter, and would be willing to yield you a few words of editorial opinion, set in long primer type next to pure reading matter, and without advertising marks.

My object in thus addressing you is two-fold. I have always wanted to do your road a kind act that would put it on its feet, but I have never before had the opportunity. This winter I feel just like it, and am not willing, but anxious. Another object, though trivial, perhaps, to you, is vital to me. If I do not get the pass, I am afraid I shall not reach there till the exposition is over. You can see for yourself how important it is that I should have transportation. Day after day the president on to the grounds and ask if I am there. Some official will salute him and answer sadly, “No, your highness, he has not yet arrived, but we look for him soon. He is said to be stuck in a mud hole somewhere in Egypt.” Then the exposition will drag on again.

You may make the pass read, “For self, Chicago to New Orleans and return," and I will write the editorial, or you may make it read, “Self and wife" and I will let you write it yourself. Nothing is too good for my friends. When a man does me a kind act or shows signs of affection, I just allow him to walk all over me and make himself perfectly free with the policy of my paper.

The “Evening Squeal” has been heard everywhere. We send it to the four winds of Heaven, and its influence is felt wherever the English language is respected. And yet, if you want to belong to my coterie of friends, you can make yourself just as free with its editorial columns as you would if you owned it.

And yet “The Squeal” is a bad one to stir up. I shudder to think what the result would be if you should incur the hatred of “The Squeal.” Let us avoid such a subject or the possibility of such a calamity.

“The Squeal” once opposed the candidacy of a certain man for the office of school district clerk, and in less than four years he was a corpse! Struck down in all his wanton pride by one of the popular diseases of the day.

My paper at one time became the foe of a certain road which tapped the great cranberry vineyards of northern Minnesota, and that very fall the berries soured on the vines!

I might go on for pages to show how the pathway of “The Squeal” has been strewn with the ruins of railroads, all prosperous and happy till they antagonized us and sought to injure us.

I believe that the great journals and trunk lines of the land should stand in with one another. If you have the support and moral encouragement of the press you will feel perfectly free to run over any one who gets on your track. Besides, if I held a pass over your road I should feel very much reserved about printing the details of any accident, delay or washout along your line. I aim to mould public opinion, but a man can subsidize and corrupt me if he goes at it right. I write this to kind of give you a pointer as to how you can go to work to do so if you see fit.

Should you wish to pervert my high moral notions in relation to railways, please make it good for thirty days, as it may take me a week or so to mortgage my property and get ready to go in good style. I will let you know on what day I will be in New Orleans, so that you can come and see me at that time. Should you have difficulty in obtaining an audience with me, owing to the throng of crowned heads, just show this autograph letter to the doorkeeper, and he will show you right in. Wipe your boots before entering.

Yours truly,

Daniel Webster Briggs, Editor of “The Squeal.”

It is my opinion that no railroad official, however disobliging, would hesitate a moment about which way he would swing after reading an epistle after this pattern. Few, indeed, are the men who would be impolitic enough to incur the displeasure of such a paper as I have artfully represented “The Squeal” to be.


Preface  •  Directions  •  My School Days  •  Recollections of Noah Webster  •  To Her Majesty  •  Habits of a Literary Man  •  A Father’s Letter  •  Archimedes  •  Anatomy  •  Mr. Sweeney’s Cat  •  The Heyday of Life  •  They Fell  •  Second Letter to the President  •  Milling in Pompeii  •  Broncho Sam  •  How Evolution Evolves  •  Hours With Great Men  •  Concerning Coroners  •  Down East Rum  •  Railway Etiquette  •  B. Franklin, Deceased  •  Life Insurance as a Health Restorer  •  The Opium Habit  •  More Paternal Correspondence  •  Twombley’s Tale  •  On Cyclones  •  The Arabian Language  •  Verona  •  A Great Upheaval  •  The Weeping Woman  •  The Crops  •  Literary Freaks  •  A Father’s Advice to His Son  •  Eccentricity in Lunch  •  Insomnia in Domestic Animals  •  Along Lake Superior  •  I Tried Milling  •  Our Forefathers  •  Preventing a Scandal  •  About Portraits  •  The Old South  •  Knights of the Pen  •  The Wild Cow  •  Spinal Meningitis  •  Skimming the Milky Way  •  A Thrilling Experience  •  Catching a Buffalo  •  John Adams  •  Bunker Hill  •  A Lumber Camp  •  My Lecture Abroad  •  The Miner at Home  •  An Operatic Entertainment  •  Dogs and Dog Days  •  Christopher Columbus  •  Accepting the Laramie Postoffice  •  A Journalistic Tenderfoot  •  The Amateur Carpenter  •  The Average Hen  •  Woodtick William’s Story  •  In Washington  •  My Experience as an Agriculturist  •  A New Autograph Album  •  A Resign  •  My Mine  •  Mush and Melody  •  The Blase Young Man  •  History of Babylon  •  Lovely Horrors  •  The Bite of a Mad Dog  •  Arnold Winkelreid  •  Murray and the Mormons  •  About Geology  •  A Wallula Night  •  Flying Machines  •  Asking for a Pass  •  Words About Washington  •  The Board of Trade  •  Stirring Incidents at a Fire  •  The Little Barefoot Boy  •  Favored a Higher Fine  •  Man Overbored  •  Picnic Incidents  •  Nero  •  Squaw Jim  •  Squaw Jim’s Religion  •  One Kind of Fool  •  John Adams’ Diary  •  The Approaching Humorist  •  What We Eat  •  Care of House Plants  •  A Peaceable Man

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