Twain, Mark. "Speech on the Babies".
"At the Banquet, in Chicago, Given by the Army of the Tennessee to Their First Commander, General U.S. Grant, November 1879."
The fifteenth regular toast is: "The Babies—as they comfort us in our sorrows, let us not forget them in our festivities."
The speaker contemplates the situation of one's first baby in military terms. The baby takes an entire command and makes the father hand in his resignation. The baby's orders must be fulfilled, whether it is possible or not. The baby takes no allowances to whatsoever. The baby shows insolence and disrespect to which the father does not dare to oppose. Fathers are not overwhelmed by the dangers of the war, but they do not dare to say a word when the baby is twisting their ears and pulling their whiskers. Fathers practise an undignified baby-talk, go as far as to try to sing, etc.
It is an utter mistake to think that a baby does not amount to anything. Praying for twins is not recommended as long as one is in one's right mind because twins amount to a permanent riot.
The speaker reminds the audience that the babies now in the cradles will in fifty years substitute them in their offices. There is a future President in one cradle, there are great historians, astronomers, etc. There is also a cradle with the future commander-in-chief of the American armies, trying now to put his toe into his mouth. This is the achievement which the present commander-in-chief was trying some fifty years ago and should one believe that the child is a prophecy of the man, then it is no doubt that he succeeded.
AuthorTwain, Mark. (1835 - 1910).
Full Title"Speech on the Babies".
Twain, Mark. "Speech on the Babies". (1879). In: Alonzo Fitz and Other Stories. NY: First World Library, 2004.