Submitted by scott on Sun, 10/31/2021 - 21:56

Late 1863–Early 1864 – Sam’s article “Chinatown” was written from San Francisco and ran in the


Accompanied by a fellow-reporter, we made a trip through our Chinese quarter the other night. The
Chinese have built their portion of the city to suit themselves; and as they keep neither carriages nor
wagons, their streets are not wide enough, as a general thing, to admit of the passage of vehicles. At
ten o’clock at night the Chinaman may be seen in all his glory. In every little cooped-up, dingy cavern of a hut, faint with the odor of burning Josh-lights and with nothing to see the gloom by save the
sickly, guttering tallow candle, were two or three yellow, long-tailed vagabonds, coiled up on a sort of
short truckle-bed, smoking opium, motionless and with their lusterless eyes turned inward from excess
of satisfaction — or rather the recent smoker looks thus, immediately after having passed the pipe to
his neighbor — for opium-smoking is a comfortless operation, and requires constant attention. A lamp
sits on the bed, the length of the long pipe-stem from the smoker’s mouth; he puts a pellet of opium on
the end of a wire, sets it on fire, and plasters it into the pipe much as a Christian would fill a hole with
putty; then he applies the bowl to the lamp and proceeds to smoke – and the stewing and frying of the
drug and the gurgling of the juices in the stem would well-nigh turn the stomach of a statue. John likes
it, though; it soothes him; he takes about two dozen whiffs, and then rolls over to dream, Heaven only
knows what, for we could not imagine by looking at the soggy creature. Possibly in his visions he
travels far away from the gross world and his regular washing, and feasts on succulent rats and birds’-
nests in Paradise [Roughing It, Ch. 54].

Day By Day Acknowledgment

Mark Twain Day By Day was originally a print reference, meticulously created by David Fears, who has generously made this work available, via the Center for Mark Twain Studies, as a digital edition.