Read DRAWBACKS OF THE KING BUSINESS of Said the Observer, free online book, by Louis John Stellman, on

“No,” said the Observer, thoughtfully, “I never cherished dreams of inordinate wealth or power; there’s nothing in it. If a man is satisfied to reach a moderate altitude he may enjoy it unmolested, but if he succeeds in scaling some remarkable height, there immediately arises an army of envious cranks ready to take his life or make it so miserable for him that he will be glad to sell out at half price and gratefully descend into the obscurity from which he rose.

“Nor, is it only the self-made man to whom these remarks apply. Take, for example, the Czar of Russia, the Emperor of Germany, or any other potentate, Christian or heathen, civilized or savage, great or small. He has more trouble to the square inch than a weather prophet. Nicholas III is probably the worst off of them all. He gets up early in the morning and shaves himself with a safety razor, while the court chemist is analyzing his breakfast for traces of arsenic or prussic acid; then he dons his bullet-proof coat, descends a private stairway to a bomb-proof drawing-room and receives his meals on a dumb-waiter from the laboratory with the chemist’s certificate that all injurious substances have been removed.

“This is the latest method, an official taster having been formerly employed, but owing to the exorbitant rate of insurance on such officers and the rapid decimation of the royal retinue, that plan was recently abandoned. After finishing his repast the Czar receives the morning papers, previously disinfected, and after reading the news, sentences a few nihilists to death by means of a long-distance telephone.

“In Germany the situation is almost as bad. The Kaiser spends the entire morning endeavoring to suppress an incipient revolution, and after convicting several editors for ‘les majesté,’ drives around the streets of Berlin, wearing a baseball mask and making speeches to his soldiers, upon whom he urges the necessity of constant watchfulness.

“The young potentate of the Celestial empire is not far behind. He keeps one eye on the dowager and the other on Li Hung Chang, while he sends out harikari mandates to troublesome officials, and stands off the Russian ambassador. Last, but not least, is the Sultan of Turkey, who has a large family to provide for and who keeps a man busy issuing promissory notes to Uncle Sam so that his wives may be properly supplied with filigree hair pins and divided skirts. They say he recently bought the entire stock of an insolvent dry goods store for his harem, and it only went half way around.

“The king business is not what it is cracked up to be. I know lots of fellows who would make first-rate kings, and I don’t know but what I would make quite a hit in that line myself. But I wouldn’t take the job if I could get it. I’d sooner be chief of police or a corporation lawyer. There’s more money in it and not half the danger.”