Rolling Stones HTML version
This the twelfth and final volume of O. Henry's work gets its title from an early
newspaper venture of which he was the head and front. On April 28, 1894, there appeared
in Austin, Texas, volume 1, number 3, of The Rolling Stone, with a circulation greatly in
excess of that of the only two numbers that had gone before. Apparently the business
office was encouraged. The first two issues of one thousand copies each had been bought
up. Of the third an edition of six thousand was published and distributed free, so that the
business men of Austin, Texas, might know what a good medium was at hand for their
advertising. The editor and proprietor and illustrator of The Rolling Stone was Will
Porter, incidentally Paying and Receiving Teller in Major Brackenridge's bank.
Perhaps the most characteristic feature of the paper was "The Plunkville Patriot," a page
each week—or at least with the regularity of the somewhat uncertain paper itself—
purporting to be reprinted from a contemporary journal. The editor of the Plunkville
Patriot was Colonel Aristotle Jordan, unrelenting enemy of his enemies. When the
Colonel's application for the postmastership in Plunkville is ignored, his columns carry a
bitter attack on the administration at Washington. With the public weal at heart, the
Patriot announces that "there is a dangerous hole in the front steps of the Elite saloon."
Here, too, appears the delightful literary item that Mark Twain and Charles Egbert
Craddock are spending the summer together in their Adirondacks camp. "Free," runs its
advertising column, "a clergyman who cured himself of fits will send one book
containing 100 popular songs, one repeating rifle, two decks easywinner cards and 1 liver
pad free of charge for $8. Address Sucker & Chump, Augusta, Me." The office moves
nearly every week, probably in accordance with the time-honored principle involving the
comparative ease of moving and paying rent. When the Colonel publishes his own
candidacy for mayor, he further declares that the Patriot will accept no announcements
for municipal offices until after "our" (the editor's) canvass. Adams & Co., grocers, order
their $2.25 ad. discontinued and find later in the Patriot this estimate of their product:
"No less than three children have been poisoned by eating their canned vegetables, and J.
O. Adams, the senior member of the firm, was run out of Kansas City for adulterating
codfish balls. It pays to advertise." Here is the editorial in which the editor first
announces his campaign: "Our worthy mayor, Colonel Henry Stutty, died this morning
after an illness of about five minutes, brought on by carrying a bouquet to Mrs. Eli Watts
just as Eli got in from a fishing trip. Ten minutes later we had dodgers out announcing
our candidacy for the office. We have lived in Plunkville going on five years and have
never been elected anything yet. We understand the mayor business thoroughly and if
elected some people will wish wolves had stolen them from their cradles…"
The page from the Patriot is presented with an array of perfectly confused type, of artistic
errors in setting up, and when an occasional line gets shifted (intentionally, of course) the
effect is alarming. Anybody who knows the advertising of a small country weekly can, as
he reads, pick out, in the following, the advertisement from the "personal."