President Castro Embarrassed - In debt to Ragnar Redbeard
The deliberations of the Venezuelan arbitrators will probably be considerably embarrassed (says a London paper) by the presence of another creditor—a Chicago bookseller, who has issued an ultimatum to President Castro in connection with a debt of 6s. This document reads as follows:—
Dear Sir, —Herewith I have the honour to again render my claim against you for the sum of one dollar and 50 cents. Twice before I have sent in this bill, and as yet I have received no satisfactory response. This is very provoking to me. Now, I hereby demand an immediate settlement of this long outstanding account, failing which I shall be compelled to take effective measures for enforcing its collection. My claim against you is for a book forwarded to your home as per order of your secretary in the year 1900. The name of the book is"Might is Right, or the Survival of the Fittest," written by Dr. Ragnar Redbeard, of the Chicago University. Having read the book, you must be well aware that from its pages President Roosevelt derive his now famous philosophy of strenuousness. It teaches the good old Anglo Teutonic evangel-"They can take who have the power, and they can keep who can." Now, it is very evident to me and also to Dr. Redbeard that you have of late been making good use of the teachings of this book, and both of us therefore think you should pay up. I therefore declare most emphatically that if you do not straightway forward the above amount in sterling gold, I will proceed to collect it by more direct and drastic measures. As your own experience must have taught you, a just man armed is a somewhat potent personage as a debt collector.
In the latter half of this curious document its true nature as a rather amusing satire on the whole affair appears more clearly:—
Now, I do not at present intended to do you any personal injury, except you resist, but your property I must and shall have to the value of 1 dollar and 50 cents., together with costs of collecting the same, calculated hereafter by myself. I will have my money peacefully if possible-forcibly if I must. I warn you, therefore, for the last time to pay this lawful debt; otherwise I will go down in my steam launch and blockade your ports—and seize your islands—and cut off your commerce—and sink your ships—and blow up your fortifications—and confiscate your revenues—and annex your salary. I will also take away your boots and coats and cloaks—your watch and chain—your ranches—your flocks and herds —your swords and pistols—your shirt from off your back—and indeed, all that is yours. I do assure you, however, upon my Bismarckian word of honour, that I have no intention of acquiring any of your territory. The idea of such a thing is of course absurd. Finally, this communication (which must be taken as in the nature of an ultimatum) is forwarded to you in care of Mr. Bowen, the United States Consul at Caracas, in Venezuela—the realm or territory over which you now reign by right divine—that is to say, by sword right. From the hour of the receipt of this, I give you 24 hours to reply.—I remain, dear sir, most cordially your creditor,
108 Clark-street, Chicago, Illinois, printer and publisher.
Examiner, Thursday 2 April 1903.