The Marine Phonograph.-Mark Twain

“I don’t believe I could ever imagine.”

    "Of course you couldn't. It's my grand adaptation of the  phonograph to the marine service. You store up profanity in it for use  at sea. You know that sailors don't fly around worth a cent unless you  swear at them--so the mate that can do the best job of swearing is the  most valuable man. In great emergencies his talent saves the ship. But a  ship is a large thing, and he can't be everywhere at once; so there have  been times when one mate has lost a ship which could have been saved if  they had had a hundred. Prodigious storms, you know. Well, a ship can't  afford a hundred mates; but she can afford a hundred Cursing  Phonographs, and distribute them all over the vessel--and there, you  see, she's armed at every point. Imagine a big storm, and a hundred of  my machines all cursing away at once--splendid spectacle, splendid!--you  couldn't hear yourself think. Ship goes through that storm perfectly  serene--she's just as safe as she'd be on shore." 

    "It's a wonderful idea. How do you prepare the thing?" 

    "Load it--simply load it." 


    "Why you just stand over it and swear into it." 

    "That loads it, does it?" 

    "Yes--because every word it collars, it keeps--keeps it  forever. Never wears out. Any time you turn the crank, out it'll come.  In times of great peril, you can reverse it, and it'll swear backwards.  That makes a sailor hump himself!" 

    "O, I see. Who loads them?--the mate?" 

    "Yes, if he chooses. Or I'll furnish them already loaded. I can  hire an expert for $75 a month who will load a hundred and fifty  phonographs in 150 hours, and do it easy. And an expert can furnish a  stronger article, of course, than the mere average uncultivated mate  could. Then you see, all the ships of the world will buy them ready  loaded--for I shall have them loaded in any language a customer wants.  Hawkins, it will work the grandest moral reform of the 19th century.  Five years from now, all the swearing will be done by machinery--you  won't ever hear a profane word come from human lips on a ship. Millions  of dollars have been spent by the churches, in the effort to abolish  profanity in the commercial marine. Think of it--my name will live  forever in the affections of good men as the man, who, solitary and  alone, accomplished this noble and elevating reform."