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Title: Mark Twain
Author: Henderson, Archibald, 1877-1963
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mark Twain" ***

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                               MARK TWAIN

                         By Archibald Henderson

                With Photographs by Alvin Langdon Coburn

                    "Haply--who knows?--somewhere
                    In Avalon, Isle of Dreams,
                    In vast contentment at last,
                    With every grief done away,
                    While Chaucer and Shakespeare wait,
                    And Moliere hangs on his words,
                    And Cervantes not far off
                    Listens and smiles apart,
                    With that incomparable drawl
                    He is jesting with Dagonet now."

                                        BLISS CARMAN.


There are to-day, all over the world, men and women and children who owe
a debt of almost personal gratitude to Mark Twain for the joy of his
humour and the charm of his personality.  In the future they will, I
doubt not, seek and welcome opportunities to acknowledge that debt.  My
own experience with the works of Mark Twain is in no sense exceptional.
From the days of early childhood, my feeling for Mark Twain, derived
first solely from acquaintance with his works, was a feeling of warm
and, as it were, personal affection.  With limitless interest and
curiosity, I used to hear the Uncle Remus stories from the lips of one
of our old family servants, a negro to whom I was devotedly attached.
These stories were narrated to me in the negro dialect with such perfect
naturalness and racial gusto that I often secretly wondered if the
narrator were not Uncle Remus himself in disguise.  I was thus cunningly
prepared, "coached" shall I say, for the maturer charms of Tom Sawyer
and Huckleberry Finn.  With Uncle Remus and Mark Twain as my preceptors,
I spent the days of my youth--excitedly alternating, spell-bound,
between the inexhaustible attractions of Tom, Huck, Jim, Indian Joe, the
Duke and the Dauphin, and their compeers on the one hand; and Brer
Rabbit, Sis Cow, and a thousand other fantastic, but very real creatures
of the animal kingdom on the other.

I felt a strange sort of camaraderie, of personal attachment, for Mark
Twain during all the years before I came into personal contact with him.
It was the dictum of a distinguished English critic, to the effect that
Huckleberry Finn was a literary masterpiece, which first awoke in me,
then a mere boy, a genuine respect for literary criticism; for here was
expressed an opinion which I had long secretly cherished, but somehow
never dared to utter!

My personal association with Mr. Clemens, comparatively brief though it
was--an ocean voyage, meetings here and there, a brief stay as a guest
in his home--gave me at last the justification for paying the debt
which, with the years, had grown greater and more insistently
obligatory.  I felt both relief and pleasure when he authorized me to
pay that debt by writing an interpretation of his life and work.

It is an appreciation originating in the heart of one who loved Mark
Twain's works for a generation before he ever met Samuel L. Clemens.  It
is an interpretation springing from the conviction that Mark Twain was a
great American who comprehensively incorporated and realized his own
country and his own age as no American has so completely done before
him; a supreme humorist who ever wore the panache of youth, gaiety, and
bonhomie; a brilliant wit who never dipped his darts in the poison of
cynicism, misanthropy, or despair; constitutionally a reformer who,
heedless of self, boldly struck for the right as he saw it; a
philosopher and sociologist who intuitively understood the secret
springs of human motive and impulse, and empirically demonstrated that
intuition in works which crossed frontiers, survived translation, and
went straight to the human, beneath the disguise of the racial; a genius
who lived to know and enjoy the happy rewards of his own fame; a great
man who saw life steadily and saw it whole.

                                        ARCHIBALD HENDERSON.

August 5, 1910.

NOTE.--The author esteems himself in the highest degree fortunate in
having the co-operation of Mr. Alvin Langdon Coburn.  All the
illustrations, both autochrome and monochrome, are the work of Mr.




     "I've a theory that every author, while living, has a projection of
     himself, a sort of eidolon, that goes about in near and distant
     places, and makes friends and enemies for him out of folk who never
     knew him in the flesh.  When the author dies, this phantom fades
     away, not caring to continue business at the old stand.  Then the
     dead writer lives only in the impression made by his literature;
     this impression may grow sharper or fainter according to the
     fashions and new conditions of the time."

     of date December 23, 1901.


In the past, the attitude of the average American toward Mark Twain has
been most characteristically expressed in a sort of complacent and
chuckling satisfaction.  There was pride in the thought that America,
the colossal, had produced a superman of humour.  The national vanity
was touched when the nations of the world rocked and roared with
laughter over the comically primitive barbarisms of the funny man from
the "Wild and Woolly West."  Mark Twain was lightly accepted as an
international comedian magically evoking the laughter of a world.  It
would be a mis-statement to affirm that the works of Mark Twain were
reckoned as falling within the charmed circle of "Literature."  They
were not reckoned in connexion with literature at all.

The fingers of one hand number those who realized in Mark Twain one of
the supreme geniuses of our age.  Even in the event of his death, when
the flood-gates of critical chatter have been thrown emptily wide, there
is room for grave doubt whether a realization of the unique and
incomparable position of Mark Twain in the republic of letters has fully
dawned upon the American consciousness.  The literatures of England and
Europe do not posit an aesthetic, embracing work of such primitive
crudity and apparently unstudied frankness as the work of Mark Twain.
It is for American criticism to posit this more comprehensive aesthetic,
and to demonstrate that the work of Mark Twain is the work of a great
artist.  It would be absurd to maintain that Mark Twain's appeal to
posterity depends upon the dicta of literary criticism.  It would be
absurd to deny that upon America rests the task of demonstrating, to a
world willing enough to be convinced, that Mark Twain is one of the
supreme and imperishable glories of American literature.

At any given moment in history, the number of living writers to whom can
be attributed what a Frenchman would call _mondial eclat_ is
surprisingly few.  It was not so many years ago that Rudyard Kipling,
with vigorous, imperialistic note, won for himself the unquestioned
title of militant spokesman for the Anglo-Saxon race.  That fame has
suffered eclipse in the passage of time.  To-day, Bernard Shaw has a
fame more world-wide than that of any other literary figure in the
British Isles.  His dramas are played from Madrid to Helsingfors, from
Buda-Pesth to Stockholm, from Vienna to St Petersburg, from Berlin to
Buenos Ayres.  Recently Zola, Ibsen and, Tolstoy constituted the
literary hierarchy of the world--according to popular verdict.  Since
Zola and Ibsen have passed from the scene, Tolstoy experts unchallenged
the profoundest influence upon the thought and consciousness of the
world.  This is an influence streaming less from his works than from his
life, less from his intellect than from his conscience.  The _literati_
bemoan the artist of an epoch prior to 'What is Art?'  The whole world
pays tribute to the passionate integrity of Tolstoy's moral aspiration.

     [While this book was going through the press, news has come of the
     death of Tolstoy.]

Until yesterday, Mark Twain vied with Tolstoy for the place of most
widely read and most genuinely popular author in the world.  In a sense
not easily misunderstood, Mark Twain has a place in the minds and hearts
of the great mass of humanity throughout the civilized world, which, if
measured in terms of affection, sympathy, and spontaneous enjoyment, is
without a parallel.  The robust nationalism of Kipling challenges the
defiant opposition of foreigners; whilst his reportorial realism offends
many an inviolable canon of European taste.  With all his incandescent
wit and comic irony, Bernard Shaw makes his most vivid impression upon
the upper strata of society; his legendary character, moreover, is
perpetually standing in the light of the serious reformer.  Tolstoy's
works are Russia's greatest literary contribution to posterity; and yet
his literary fame has suffered through his extravagant ideals, the
magnificent futility of his inconsistency, and the almost maniacal
mysticism of his unrealizable hopes.

If Mark Twain makes a more deeply, more comprehensively popular appeal,
it is doubtless because he makes use of the universal solvent of humour.
That eidolon of which Aldrich speaks--a compact of good humour, robust
sanity, and large-minded humanity--has diligently "gone about in near
and distant places," everywhere making warm and lifelong friends of folk
of all nationalities who have never known Mark Twain in the flesh.  The
French have a way of speaking of an author's public as if it were a
select and limited segment of the conglomerate of readers; and in a
country like France, with its innumerable literary cliques and sects,
there is some reason for the phraseology.  In reality, the author
appeals to many different "publics" or classes of readers--in proportion
to the many-sidedness of the reader's human interests and the
catholicity of his tastes.  Mark Twain first opens the eyes of many a
boy to the power of the great human book, warm with the actuality of
experience and the life-blood of the heart. By humorous inversion, he
points the sound moral and vivifies the right principle for the youth to
whom the dawning consciousness of morality is the first real
psychological discovery of life.  With hearty laughter at the stupid
irritations of self-conscious  virtue, with ironic scorn for the frigid
Puritanism of mechanical morality, Mark Twain enraptures that
innumerable company of the sophisticated who have chafed under the
omnipresent influence of a "good example" and stilled the painless pangs
of an unruly conscience.  With splendid satire for the base, with shrill
condemnation for tyranny and oppression, with the scorpion-lash for the
equivocal, the fraudulent, and the insincere, Mark Twain inspires the
growing body of reformers in all countries who would remedy the ills of
democratic government with the knife of publicity.  The wisdom of human
experience and of sagacious tolerance informing his books for the young,
provokes the question whether these books are not more apposite to the
tastes of experienced age than to the fancies of callow youth.  The
navvy may rejoice in 'Life on the Mississippi'.  Youth and age may share
without jealousy the abounding fun and primitive naturalness of
'Huckleberry Finn'.  True lovers of adventure may revel in the masterly
narrative of 'Tom Sawyer'.  The artist may bestow his critical meed of
approval upon the beauty of 'Joan of Arc'.  The moralist may heartily
validate the ethical lesson of 'The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg'.
Anyone may pay the tribute of irresistible explosions of laughter to the
horse-play of 'Roughing It', the colossal extravagance of 'The Innocents
Abroad', the irreverence and iconoclasm of that Yankee intruder into the
hallowed confines of Camelot.  All may rejoice in the spontaneity and
refreshment of truth; spiritually co-operate in forthright condemnation
of fraud, peculation, and sham; and breathe gladly the fresh and bracing
air of sincerity, sanity, and wisdom.  The stevedore on the dock, the
motor-man on the street car, the newsboy on the street, the riverman on
the Mississippi--all speak with exuberant affection in memory of that
quaint figure in his white suit, his ruddy face shining through wreaths
of tobacco smoke and surmounted by a great halo of silvery hair.  In one
day, as Mark Twain was fond of relating, an emperor and a _portier_ vied
with each other in tributes of admiration and esteem for this man and
his works.  It is Mark Twain's imperishable glory, not simply that his
name is the most familiar of that of any author who has lived in our own
times, but that it is remembered with infinite irrepressible zest.

"We think of Mark Twain not as other celebrities, but as the man whom we
knew and loved," said Dr. Van Dyke in his Memorial Address.  "We
remember the realities which made his life worth while, the strong and
natural manhood that was in him, the depth and tenderness of his
affections, his laughing enmity to all shams and pretences, his long and
faithful witness to honesty and fair-dealing.

"Those who know the story of Mark Twain's career know how bravely he
faced hardships and misfortune, how loyally he toiled for years to meet
a debt of conscience, following the injunction of the New Testament, to
provide not only things honest, but things 'honourable in the sight of
all men.'

"Those who know the story of his friendships and his family life know
that he was one who loved much and faithfully, even unto the end.  Those
who know his work as a whole know that under the lambent and
irrepressible humour which was his gift, there was a foundation of
serious thoughts and noble affections and desires.

"Nothing could be more false than to suppose that the presence of humour
means the absence of depth and earnestness.  There are elements of the
unreal, the absurd, the ridiculous in this strange, incongruous world
which must seem humorous even to the highest mind.  Of these the Bible
says: 'He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Almighty shall
hold them in derision.'  But the mark of this higher humour is that it
does not laugh at the weak, the helpless, the true, the innocent; only
at the false, the pretentious, the vain, the hypocritical.

"Mark Twain himself would be the first to smile at the claim that his
humour was infallible; but we say without doubt that he used his gift,
not for evil, but for good.  The atmosphere of his work is clean and
wholesome.  He made fun without hatred.  He laughed many of the world's
false claimants out of court, and entangled many of the world's false
witnesses in the net of ridicule.  In his best books and stories,
coloured with his own experiences, he touched the absurdities of life
with penetrating, but not unkindly, mockery, and made us feel somehow
the infinite pathos of life's realities.  No one can say that he ever
failed to reverence the purity, the frank, joyful, genuine nature of the
little children, of whom Christ said, 'Of such is the kingdom of

"Now he is gone, and our thoughts of him are tender, grateful, proud.
We are glad of his friendship; glad that he expressed so richly one of
the great elements in the temperament of America; glad that he has left
such an honourable record as a man of letters; and glad also for his own
sake that after many and deep sorrows he is at peace and, we trust,
happy in the fuller light.

             "'Rest after toil, port after stormy seas,
               Death after life doth greatly please."'

     "'We cannot live always on the cold heights of the sublime--the
     thin air stifles'--I have forgotten who said it.  We cannot flush
     always with the high ardour of the signers of the Declaration, nor
     remain at the level of the address at Gettysburg, nor cry
     continually, 'O Beautiful!  My country!'  Yet, in the long dull
     interspans between these sacred moments we need some one to remind
     us that we are a nation.  For in the dead vast and middle of the
     years insidious foes are lurking--anaemic refinements, cosmopolitan
     decadencies, the egotistic and usurping pride of great cities, the
     cold sickening of the heart at the reiterated exposures of giant
     fraud and corruption.  When our countrymen migrate because we have
     no kings or castles, we are thankful to any one who will tell us
     what we can count on.  When they complain that our soil lacks the
     humanity essential to great literature, we are grateful even for
     the firing of a national joke heard round the world.  And when Mark
     Twain, robust, big-hearted, gifted with the divine power to use
     words, makes us all laugh together, builds true romances with
     prairie fire and Western clay, and shows us that we are at one on
     all the main points, we feel that he has been appointed by
     Providence to see to it that the precious ordinary self of the
     Republic shall suffer no harm."

                                   STUART P. SHERMAN: "MARK TWAIN."
                                        The Nation, May 12, 1910.

                                 THE MAN

American literature, indeed I might say American life, can exhibit no
example of supreme success from the humblest beginnings, so signal as
the example of Mark Twain.  Lincoln became President of the United
States, as did Grant and Johnson.  But assassination began for Lincoln
an apotheosis which has gone to deplorable lengths of hero-worship and
adulation.  Grant was one of the great failures in American public life;
and Johnson, brilliant but unstable, narrowly escaped impeachment.  Mark
Twain enjoys the unique distinction of exhibiting a progressive
development, a deepening and broadening of forces, a ripening of
intellectual and spiritual powers from the beginning to the end of his
career.  From the standpoint of the man of letters, the evolution of
Mark Twain from a journeyman printer to a great author, from a
merry-andrew to a world-humorist, from a river-pilot to a trustworthy
navigator on the vast and uncharted seas of human experience, may be
taken as symbolic of the romance of American life.

With a sort of mock--pride, Clemens referred at times to the ancestral
glories of his house--the judge who condemned Charles I., and all those
other notables, of Dutch and English breeds, who shed lustre upon the
name of Clemens.  Yet he claimed that he had not examined into these
traditions, chiefly because "I was so busy polishing up this end of the
line and trying to make it showy."  His mother, a "Lambton with a p," of
Kentucky, married John Marshall Clemens, of Virginia, a man of
determination and force, in Lexington, in 1823; but neither was endowed
with means, and their life was of the simplest.  From Jamestown, in the
mountain solitudes of East Tennessee, they removed in 1829, much as
Judge Hawkins is said to have done in 'The Gilded Age', settling at
Florida, Missouri.  Here was born, on November 30, 1835, a few months
after their arrival, Samuel Langhorne Clemens.  Long afterwards he
stated that he had increased by one per cent. the population of this
village of one hundred inhabitants, thereby doing more than the best man
in history had ever done for any other town.

Although weak and sickly, the child did not suffer from the hard life,
and survived two other children, Margaret and Benjamin.  At different
times his life was in danger, the local doctor always coming to the
rescue.  He once asked his mother, after she had reached old age, if she
hadn't been uneasy about him.  She admitted she had been uneasy about
him the whole time.  But when he inquired further if she was afraid he
would not live, she answered after a reflective pause--as if thinking
out the facts--that she had been afraid he would!

His sister Pamela afterwards became the mother of Samuel E. Moffett, the
writer; and his brother Orion, ten years his senior, afterwards was
intimately associated with him in life and found a place in his

In 1839, John Marshall Clemens tired of the unpromising life of Florida
and removed to Hannibal, Missouri.  He was a stern, unbending man, a
lawyer by profession, a merchant by vocation; after his removal to
Hannibal he became a Justice of the Peace, an office he filled with all
the dignity of a local autocrat.  His forum was a "dingy" office,
furnished with "a dry-goods box, three or four rude stools, and a
puncheon bench."  The solemnity of his manner in administering the law
won for him, among his neighbours, the title of Judge.

One need but recall the scenes in which Tom Sawyer was born and bred to
realize in its actuality the model from which these scenes were drawn.
"Sam was always a good-hearted boy," his mother once remarked, "but he
was a very wild and mischievous one, and, do what we would, we could
never make him go to school.  This used to trouble his father and me
dreadfully, and we were convinced that he would never amount to as much
in the world as his brothers, because he was not near so steady and
sober-minded as they were."  At school, he "excelled only in spelling";
outside of school he was the prototype of his own Huckleberry Finn,
mischievous and prankish, playing truant whenever the opportunity
afforded.  "Often his father would start him off to school," his mother
once said, "and in a little while would follow him to ascertain his
whereabouts.  There was a large stump on the way to the schoolhouse, and
Sam would take his position behind that, and as his father went past
would gradually circle around it in such a way as to keep out of sight.
Finally, his father and the teacher both said it was of no use to try to
teach Sam anything, because he was determined not to learn.  But I never
gave up.  He was always a great boy for history, and could never get
tired of that kind of reading; but he hadn't any use for schoolhouses
and text books."

Mr. Howells has aptly described Hannibal as a "loafing, out-at-elbows,
down-at-the-heels, slaveholding Mississippi river town."  Young Clemens
accepted the institution of slavery as a matter of course, for his
father was a slave-owner; and his mother's wedding dowry consisted in
part of two or three slaves.  Judge Clemens was a very austere man; like
so many other slave-holders, he silently abhorred slavery.  To his
children, especially to Sam, as well as to his slaves, he was, however,
a stern taskmaster.  Mark Twain has described the terms on which he and
his father lived as a sort of armed neutrality.  If at times this
neutrality was broken and suffering ensued, the breaking and the
suffering were always divided up with strict impartiality between them
--his father doing the breaking and he the suffering!  Sam claimed to
be a very backward, cautious, unadventurous boy.  But this modest
estimate is subject to modification when we learn that once he jumped off
a two-story stable; another time he gave an elephant a plug of tobacco,
and retired without waiting for an answer; and still another time he
pretended to be talking in his sleep, and got off a portion of every
original conundrum in hearing of his father.  He begs the curious not to
pry into the result--as it was of no consequence to any one but himself!

The cave, so graphically described in Tom Sawyer, was one of Sam's
favourite haunts; and his first sweetheart was Laura Hawkins, the Becky
Thatcher of Tom's admiration.  "Sam was always up to some mischief,"
this lady once remarked in later life, when in reminiscential mood.
"We attended Sunday-school together, and they had a system of rewards
for saying verses after committing them to memory.  A blue ticket was
given for ten verses, a red ticket for ten blue, a yellow for ten red,
and a Bible for ten yellow tickets.  If you will count up, you will see
it makes a Bible for ten thousand verses.  Sam came up one day with his
ten yellow tickets, and everybody knew he had not said a verse, but had
just got them by trading with the boys.  But he received his Bible with
all the serious air of a diligent student!"

Mark Twain, save when in humorous vein, has never pretended that his
success was due to any marvellous qualities of mind, any indefatigable
industry, any innate energy and perseverance.  I have good reason to
recall his favourite theory, which he was fond of expounding, to the
effect that circumstance is man's master.  He likened circumstance to
the attraction of gravity; and declared that while it is man's privilege
to argue with circumstance, as it is the honourable privilege of the
falling body to argue with the attraction of gravity, it does no good:
man has to obey.  Circumstance has as its working partner man's
temperament, his natural disposition.  Temperament is not the creation
of man, but an innate quality; over it he has no authority; for its acts
he cannot be held responsible.  It cannot be permanently changed or even
modified.  No power can keep it modified.  For it is inherent and
enduring, as unchanging as the lines upon the thumb or the conformation
of the skull.  Throughout his life, circumstance seemed like a watchful
spirit, switching his temperament into those channels of experience and
development leading unerringly to the career of the author.

The death of Judge Clemens was the first link in the long chain of
circumstance--for his son was at once taken from school and apprenticed
to the editor and proprietor of the Hannibal Courier.  He was allowed
the usual emolument of the office apprentice, "board and clothes, but no
money"; and even at that, though the board was paid, the clothes rarely
materialized.  Several weeks later his brother Orion returned to
Hannibal, and in 1850 brought out a little paper called the 'Hannibal
Journal.'  He took Sam out of the Courier office and engaged him for the
Journal at $3.50 a week--though he was never able to pay a cent of the
wages.  One of Mark's fellow-townsmen once confessed: "Yes, I knew him
when he was a boy.  He was a printer's devil--I think that's what they
called him--and they didn't miss it."  At a banquet some years ago, Mark
Twain aptly described at length his experiences as a printer's
apprentice.  There were a thousand and one menial services he was called
upon to perform.  If the subscribers paid at all, it was only sometimes
--and then the town subscribers paid in groceries, the country
subscribers in cabbages and cordwood.  If they paid, they were puffed in
the paper; and if the editor forgot to insert the puff, the subscriber
stopped the paper!  Every subscriber regarded himself as assistant
editor, ex officio; gave orders as to how the paper was to be edited,
supplied it with opinions, and directed its policy.  Of course, every
time the editor failed to follow his suggestions, he revenged himself by
stopping the paper!

After some financial stress, the paper was moved into the Clemens home,
a "two-story brick"; and here for several years it managed to worry
along, spasmodically hovering between life and death.  Life was easy
with the editors of that paper; for if they pied a form, they suspended
until the next week.  They always suspended anyhow, every now and then,
when the fishing was good; and always fell back upon the illness of the
editor as a convenient excuse, Mark admitted that this was a paltry
excuse, for the all-sufficing reason that a paper of that sort was just
as well off with a sick editor as a well one, and better off with a dead
one than with either of them.  At the age of fifteen he considered
himself a skilled journeyman printer; and his faculty for comedic
portrayal had already betrayed itself in occasional clumsy efforts.  In
'My First Literary Venture', he narrates his experiences, amongst others
how greatly he increased the circulation of the paper, and incensed the
"inveterate woman-killer," whose poetry for that week's paper read, "To
Mary in H--l" (Hannibal).  Mark added a "snappy foot--note" at the
bottom, in which he agreed to let the thing pass, for just that once;
but distinctly warning Mr. J. Gordon Runnels that the paper had a
character to sustain, and that in future, when Mr. Runnels wanted to
commune with his friends in h--l, he must select some other medium for
that communication!  Many were the humorous skits, crudely illustrated
with cuts made from wooden blocks hacked out with his jack-knife, which
the mischievous young "devil" inserted in his brother's paper.  Here we
may discern the first spontaneous outcroppings of the genuine humorist.
"It was on this paper, the 'Hannibal Journal'," says his biographer, Mr.
Albert B. Paine, "that young Sam Clemens began his writings--burlesques,
as a rule, of local characters and conditions--usually published in his
brother's absence, generally resulting in trouble on his return.  Yet
they made the paper sell, and if Orion had but realized his possession
he might have turned his brother's talent into capital even then."

One evening in 1858, the boy, consumed with wanderlust, asked his mother
for five dollars--to start on his travels.  He failed to receive the
money, but he defiantly announced that he would go "anyhow."  He had
managed to save a tiny sum, and that night he disappeared and fled to St
Louis.  There he worked in the composing-room of the Evening News for a
time, and then started out "to see the world"--New York, where a little
World's Fair was in progress.  He was somewhat better off than was
Benjamin Franklin when he entered Philadelphia--for he had two or three
dollars in pocket-change, and a ten-dollar bank-bill concealed in the
lining of his coat.  For a time he sweltered in a villainous mechanics'
boarding-house in Duane Street, and worked at starvation wages in the
printing-office of Gray & Green.  Being recognized one day by a man from
Hannibal, he fled to Philadelphia where he worked for some months as a
"sub" on the 'Inquirer' and the 'Public Ledger'.  Next came a flying
trip to Washington "to see the sights there," and then back he went to
the Mississippi Valley.  This journey to the "vague and fabled East"
really opened his eyes to the great possibilities that the world has in
store for the traveller.

Meantime, Orion had gone to Muscatine, Ohio, and acquired a small
interest there; and, after his marriage, he and his wife went to Keokuk
and started a little job printing-office.  Here Sam worked with his
brother until the winter of 1856-7, when circumstance once again played
the part of good fairy.  As he was walking along the street one snowy
evening, his attention was attracted by a piece of paper which the wind
had blown against the wall.  It proved to be a fifty-dollar bill; and
after advertising for the owner for four days, he stealthily moved to
Cincinnati in order "to take that money out of danger."  Now comes the
second crucial event in his life!

For long the ambition for river life had remained with him--and now
there seemed some possibility of realizing these ambitions.  He first
wanted to be a cabin boy; then his ideal was to be a deck hand, because
of his splendid conspicuousness as he stood on the end of the stage
plank with a coil of rope in his hand.  But these were only day-dreams
--he didn't admit, even to himself, that they were anything more than
heavenly impossibilities.  But as he worked during the winter in the
printing-office of Wrightson & Company of Cincinnati, he whiled away his
leisure hours reading Lieutenant Herndon's account of his explorations
of the Amazon, and became greatly interested in his description of the
cocoa industry.  Now he set to work to map out a new and thrilling
career.  The expedition sent out by the government to explore the Amazon
had encountered difficulties and left unfinished the exploration of the
country about the head-waters, thousands of miles from the mouth of the
river.  It mattered not to him that New Orleans was fifteen hundred
miles away from Cincinnati, and that he had only thirty dollars left.
His mind was made up he would go on and complete the work of
exploration.  So in April, 1857, he set sail for New Orleans on an
ancient tub, called the Paul Jones.  For the paltry sum of sixteen
dollars, he was enabled to revel in the unimagined glories of the main
saloon.  At last he was under way--realizing his boyhood dream, unable
to contain himself for joy.  At last he saw himself as that hero of his
boyish fancy--a traveller.

When he reached New Orleans, after the prolonged ecstasy of two weeks on
a tiny Mississippi steamer, he discovered that no ship was leaving for
Para, that there never had been one leaving for Para and that there
probably would not be one leaving for Para that century.  A policeman
made him, move, on, threatening to run him in if he ever caught him
reflecting in the public street again.  Just as his money failed him,
his old friend circumstance arrived, with another turning-point in his
life--a new link.  On his way down the river he had met Horace Bixby; he
turned to him in this hour of need.  It has been charged against Mark
Twain that he was deplorably lazy--apocryphal anecdotes are still
narrated with much gusto to prove it.  Think of a lazy boy undertaking
the stupendous task of learning to know the intricate and treacherous
secrets of the great river, to know every foot of the route in the dark
as well as he knew his own face in the glass!  And yet he confesses that
he was unaware of the immensity of the undertaking upon which he had

"In 1852," says Bixby, "I was chief pilot on the 'Paul Jones', a boat
that made occasional trips from Pittsburg to New Orleans.  One day a
tall, angular, hoosier-like young fellow, whose limbs appeared to be
fastened with leather hinges, entered the pilot-house, and in a
peculiar, drawling voice, said--

"'Good mawnin, sir.  Don't you want to take er piert young fellow and
teach 'im how to be er pilot?'

"'No sir; there is more bother about it than it's worth.'

"'I wish you would, mister.  I'm er printer by trade, but it don't 'pear
to 'gree with me, and I'm on my way to Central America for my health.  I
believe I'll make a tolerable good pilot, 'cause I like the river.'

"'What makes you pull your words that way?'

"'I don't know, mister; you'll have to ask my Ma.  She pulls hern too.
Ain't there some way that we can fix it, so that you'll teach me how to
be er pilot?'

"'The only way is for money.'

"'How much are you going to charge?

"'Well, I'll teach you the river for $500.'

"'Gee whillikens! he! he!  I ain't got $500, but I've got five lots in
Keokuk, Iowa, and 2000 acres of land in Tennessee that is worth two bits
an acre any time.  You can have that if you want it.'

"I told him I did not care for his land, and after a while he agreed to
pay $100 in cash (borrowed from his brother-in-law, William A. Moffett,
of Virginia), $150 in twelve months, and the balance when he became a
pilot.  He was with me for a long time, but sometimes took occasional
trips with other pilots."  And he significantly adds "He was always
drawling out dry jokes, but then we did not pay any attention to him."

It cannot be thought accidental that Sam Clemens became a pilot.  Bixby
became his mentor, the pilot-house his recitation-room, the steamboat
his university, the great river the field of knowledge.

In that stupendous course in nature's own college, he "learned the
river" as schoolboy seldom masters his Greek or his mathematics.  With
the naive assurance of youth, he gaily enters upon the task of
"learning" some twelve or thirteen hundred miles of the great
Mississippi.  Long afterwards, he confessed that had he really known
what he was about to require of his faculties, he would never have had
the courage to begin.

His comic sketches, published in the 'Hannibal Weekly Courier' in his
brother's absence, furnish the first link, his apprenticeship to Bixby
the second link in the chain of circumstance.  For two years and a half
he sailed the river as a master pilot; his trustworthiness secured for
him the command of some of the best boats on the river, and he was so
skilful that he never met disaster on any of his trips.  He narrowly
escaped it in 1861, for when Louisiana seceded, his boat was drafted
into the Confederate service.  As he reached St. Louis, having taken
passage for home, a shell came whizzing by and carried off part of the
pilot-house.  It was the end of an era: the Civil War had begun.  The
occupation of the pilot was gone; but the river had given up to him all
of its secrets.  He was to show them to a world, in 'Life on the
Mississippi' and 'Huckleberry Finn'.

The story of the derivation of the famous _nom de guerre_ has often been
narrated-and as often erroneously.  As the steamboat approaches a
sandbank, snag, or other obstruction, the man at the bow heaves the lead
and sings out, "By the mark, three," "Mark twain," etc.-meaning three
fathoms deep, two fathoms, and so on.  The thought of adopting Mark
Twain as a _nom de guerre_ was not original with Clemens; but the world
owes him a debt of gratitude for making forever famous a name that, but
for him, would have been forever lost.  "There was a man, Captain Isaiah
Sellers, who furnished river news for the New Orleans Picayune, still
one of the best papers in the South," Mr. Clemens once confessed to
Professor Wm. L. Phelps.  "He used to sign his articles Mark Twain.  He
died in 1863.  I liked the name, and stole it.  I think I have done him
no wrong, for I seem to have made this name somewhat generally known."

The inglorious escapade of his military career, at which he himself has
poked unspeakable fun, and for which not even his most enthusiastic
biographers have any excuse, was soon ended.  Had his heart really been
enlisted on the side of the South, he would doubtless have stayed at his
post.  In reality, he was at that time lacking in conviction; and in
after life he became a thorough Unionist and Abolitionist.  In the
summer of 1861, Governor Jackson of Missouri called for fifty thousand
volunteers to drive out the Union forces.  While visiting in the small
town where his boyhood had been spent, Hannibal, Marion County, young
Clemens and some of his friends met together in a secret place one
night, and formed themselves into a military company.  The spirited but
untrained Tom Lyman was made captain; and in lieu of a first lieutenant
--strange omission!--young Clemens was made second lieutenant.  These
fifteen hardy souls proudly dubbed themselves the Marion Rangers.  No
one thought of finding fault with such a name--it sounded too well.  All
were full of notions as high-flown as the name of their company.  One of
their number, named Dunlap, was ashamed of his name, because it had a
plebeian sound to his ear.  So he solved the difficulty and gratified
his aristocratic ambitions by writing it d'Unlap.  This may serve as a
sample of the stuff of which the company was made.  Dunlap was by no
means useless; for he invented hifalutin names for the camps, and
generally succeeded in proposing a name that was, as his companions
agreed, "no slouch."

There was no real organization, nobody obeyed orders, there was never a
battle.  They retreated, according to the tale of the humorist, at every
sign of the enemy.  In truth, this little band had plenty of stomach for
fighting, despite its loose organization; and quite a number fought all
through the war.  Mark Twain is doubtless correct in the main, in his
assertion that he has not given an unfair picture of the conditions
prevailing in many of the militia camps in the first months of the war
between the states.  The men were raw and unseasoned, and even the
leaders were lacking in the rudiments of military training and
discipline.  The situation was strange and unprecedented, the terrors
were none the less real that they were imaginary.  As Mark says, it took
an actual collision with the enemy on the field of battle to change them
from rabbits into soldiers.  Young Clemens, according to his nephew's
account, was first detailed to special duty on the river because of his
knowledge acquired as a pilot; it was not long before he was captured
and paroled.  Again he was captured, this time sent to St. Louis, and
imprisoned there in a tobacco warehouse.  Fearing recognition and tragic
consequences, perhaps courtmartial and death, should he, during the
formalities of exchange, be recognized by the command in Grant's army
which first captured him, he made his escape, abandoned the cause which
he afterwards spoke of as "the rebellion," and went west as secretary to
his brother Orion, lately appointed Territorial Secretary of Nevada by
the President.

A very credible and interesting biography of Mark Twain might be
compiled from his own works; and Roughing it is full of autobiography of
a coloured sort, though in the main correct.  His joy in the prospect of
that trip, the exciting details of the long journey, are all narrated
with gusto and fine effect.  In the "unique sinecure" of the office of
private secretary, he found he had nothing to do and no salary; so after
a short time--the fear of being recognized by Union soldiers and shot
for breaking his parole still haunting him--he, and a companion, went
off together on a fishing jaunt to Lake Tahoe.  Everywhere he saw
fortunes made in a moment.  He fell a prey to the prevailing excitement
and went mad like all the rest.  Little wonder over the wild talk, when
cartloads of solid silver bricks as large as pigs of lead were passing
by every day before their very eyes.  The wild talk grew more frenzied
from day to day.  And young Clemens yielded to no one in enthusiasm and
excitement.  For vividness or picturesqueness of expression none could
vie with him.  With three companions, he began "prospecting," with the
most indifferent success; and soon tiring of their situation, they moved
on down to Esmeralda (now Aurora), on the other side of Carson City.
Here new life seemed to inspire the party.  What mattered it if they
were in debt to the butcher--for did they not own thirty thousand feet
apiece in the "richest mines on earth"!  Who cared if their credit was
not good with the grocer, so long as they revelled in mountains of
fictitious wealth and raved in the frenzied cant of the hour over their
immediate prospect of fabulous riches!  But at last the practical
necessities of living put a sudden damper on their enthusiasm.  Clemens
was forced at last to abandon mining, and go to work as a common
labourer in a quartz mill, at ten dollars a week and board--after flour
had soared to a dollar a pound and the rate on borrowed money had gone
to eight per cent. a month.  This work was very exhausting, and after a
week Clemens asked his employer for an advance of wages.  The employer
replied that he was paying Clemens ten dollars a week, and thought that
all he was worth.  How much did he want?  When Clemens replied that four
hundred thousand dollars a month, and board, was all he could reasonably
ask, considering the hard times, he was ordered off the premises!  In
after days, Mark only regretted that, in view of the arduous labours he
had performed in that mill, he had not asked seven hundred thousand for
his services!

After a time, Mark and his friend Higbie established their claim to a
mine, became mad with excitement, and indulged in the wildest dreams for
the future.  Under the laws of the district, work of a certain character
must be done upon the claim within ten days after location in order to
establish the right of possession.  Mark was called away to the bedside
of a sick friend, Higbie failed to receive Mark's note, and the work was
never done--each thinking it was being properly attended to by the
other.  On their return, they discovered that their claim was
"re-located," and that millions had slipped from their grasp!  The very
stars in their courses seemed to fight to force young Clemens into
literature.  Had Samuel Clemens become a millionaire at this time, it is
virtually certain that there would have been no Mark Twain.

After one day more of heartless prospecting, Clemens "dropped in" at the
wayside post-office.  It was the hour of fate!  A letter awaited him
there.  We cannot call it accident--it was the result of forces and
events which had long been converging toward this end.  Samuel Clemens
began his career as an itinerant, tramping "jour" printer.  He wrote for
the papers on which he served as printer; and he actually read the
matter he set up in type.  By observation on his travels, by study of
the writing of others, Clemens acquired information, knowledge of life,
and ingenuity of expression.  He hadn't served his ten--years'
apprenticeship as a printer for nothing.  In the process of setting up
tons of good and bad literature, he had learned--half unconsciously--to
appraise and to discriminate.  In the same half-unconscious way, he was
actually gaining some inkling of the niceties of style.  After he began
"learning the river," Clemens once wrote a funny sketch about Captain
Sellers which made a genuine "hit" with the officers on the boat.  The
sketch fell into the hands of the "river-editor" of the 'St. Louis
Republican', found a place in that journal, and was widely copied
throughout the West.  On the strength of it, Clemens became a sort of
river reporter, and from time to time published memoranda and comic
squibs in the 'Republican'.  That passion which a French critic has
characterized as distinctively American, the passion for "seeing
yourself in print," still burned in Clemens, even during all the
hardships of prospecting and milling.  At intervals he sent from the
mining regions of "Washoe," as all that part of Nevada was then called,
humorous letters signed "Josh" to the 'Daily Territorial Enterprise' of
Virginia City, at that time one of the most progressive and wide--awake
newspapers in the West.

The fateful letter which I have mentioned, contained an offer to Clemens
from the proprietor of the 'Enterprise', of the position of city editor,
at a salary of twenty-five dollars a week.  To Clemens at this time,
this offer came as a perfect godsend.  Twenty-five dollars a week was
nothing short of wealth, luxury.  His enthusiasm oozed away when he
reflected over his ignorance and incompetence; and he gloomily recalled
his repeated failures.  But necessity faced him; and opportunity knocks
but once at every door.  His doubts were speedily resolved; and he
afterwards confessed that, had he been offered at that time a salary to
translate the Talmud from the original Hebrew, he would unhesitatingly
have accepted, despite some natural misgivings, and have tried to throw
as much variety into it as he could for the money.  It was to fill a
vacancy, caused by the absence of Dan De Quille, the regular reporter,
on a visit to "the States," that Clemens was offered this position; but
he retained it after De Quille returned.  "Mark and I had our hands
full," relates De Quille, "and no grass grew under our feet.  There was
a constant rush of startling events; they came tumbling over one another
as though playing at leap-frog.  While a stage robbery was being written
up, a shooting affray started; and perhaps before the pistol shots had
ceased to echo among the surrounding hills, the firebells were banging
out an alarm."  A record of the variegated duties of these two, found in
an old copy of the Territorial Enterprise of 1863, bears the
unmistakable hallmarks of Mark Twain.  "Our duty is to keep the universe
thoroughly posted concerning murders and street fights, and balls and
theatres, and pack-trains, and churches, and lectures, and
school-houses, and city military affairs, and highway robberies, and
Bible societies, and hay wagons, and the thousand other things which it
is within the province of local reporters to keep track of and magnify
into undue importance for the instruction of the readers of a great daily
newspaper.  Beyond this revelation everything connected with these two
experiments of Providence must for ever remain an impenetrable mystery."
An admirable picture of Mark Twain on his native heath, in the latter
part of 1863, is given by Edward Peron Hingston, author of "The Genial
Showman," in the introduction to the English edition of "The Innocents

The fame of the Western humorist had already reached the ears of
Hingston; and as soon as he reached Virginia City, he went to the office
of the 'Territorial Enterprise' and asked to be presented to Mark Twain.

When he heard his name called by some one, Clemens called out:

"Pass the gentleman into my den.  The noble animal is here."

The noble animal proved to be "a young man, strongly built, ruddy in
complexion, his hair of a sunny hue, his eyes light and twinkling, in
manner hearty, and nothing of the student about him--one who looked as
if he could take his own part in a quarrel, strike a smart blow as
readily as he could say a telling thing, bluffly jolly, brusquely
cordial, off-handedly good-natured."  The picture is detailed and vivid:

     "Let it be borne in mind that from the windows of the newspaper
     office the American desert was visible; that within a radius of ten
     miles Indians were encamping amongst the sage--brush; that the
     whole city was populated with miners, adventurers, Jew traders,
     gamblers, and all the rough-and-tumble class which a mining town in
     a new territory collects together, and it will be readily
     understood that a reporter for a daily paper in such a place must
     neither go about his duties wearing light kid gloves, nor be
     fastidious about having gilt edges to his note-books.  In Mark
     Twain I found the very man I had expected to see--a flower of the
     wilderness, tinged with the colour of the soil, the man of thought
     and the man of action rolled into one, humorist and hard-worker,
     Momus in a felt hat and jack-boots.  In the reporter of the
     'Territorial Enterprise' I became introduced to a Californian
     celebrity, rich in eccentricities of thought, lively in fancy,
     quaint in remark, whose residence upon the fringe of civilization
     had allowed his humour to develop without restraint, and his speech
     to be rarely idiomatic."

Under the influence of the example of the proprietors of the
'Enterprise', strict stylistic disciplinarians of the Dana school of
journalism, Clemens learned the advantages of the crisp, direct style
which characterizes his writing.  As a reporter, he was really
industrious in matters that met his fancy; but "cast-iron items"--for he
hated facts and figures requiring absolute accuracy--got from him only
"a lick and a promise."  He was much interested in Tom Fitch's effort to
establish a literary journal, 'The Weekly Occidental'.  Daggett's
opening chapters of a wonderful story, of which Fitch, Mrs Fitch, J. T.
Goodman, Dan De Quille, and Clemens were to write successive
instalments, gave that paper the _coup de grace_ in its very first
issue.  Of this wonderful novel, at the close of each instalment of
which the "hero was left in a position of such peril that it seemed
impossible he could be rescued, except through means and wisdom more
than human"; of the Bohemian days of the "Visigoths,"--Clemens, De
Quille, Frank May, Louis Aldrich, and their confreres; of the practical
jokes played on each other, particularly the incident of the imitation
meerschaum ("mere sham") pipe, solemnly presented to Clemens by Steve
Gillis, C. A. V. Putnam, D. E. M'Carthy, De Quille and others--all these
belong to the fascinating domain of the biographer.  When Clemens was
sent down to Carson City to report the meetings of the first Nevada
Legislature, he began for the first time to sign his letters "Mark
Twain."  In his Autobiography he has explained that his function as a
legislative correspondent was to dispense compliment and censure with
impartial justice.  As his disquisitions covered about half a page each
morning in the Enterprise, it is easy to understand that he was an
"influence."  Questioned by Carlyle Smith in regard to his choice of
"Mark Twain," Mr. Clemens replied: "I chose my pseudonym because to nine
hundred and ninety-nine persons out of a thousand it had no meaning, and
also because it was short.  I was a reporter in the Legislature at the
time, and I wished to save the Legislature time.  It was much shorter to
say in their debates--for I was certain to be the occasion of some
questions of privilege--'Mark Twain' than 'the unprincipled and lying
Parliamentary Reporter of the 'Territorial Enterprise'.'"

Already his name was known the whole length of the Pacific Coast; the
Enterprise published many things from his pen which gave him local, and
afterwards national, fame; such sketches as 'The Undertaker's Chat',
'The Petrified Man' and 'The Marvellous 'Bloody Massacre'' had attracted
favourable and wide notice east of the Rocky Mountains.  But his career
in Carson City came to a sudden close when he challenged the editor of
the Virginia Union to a duel, the bloodless conclusion of which is
narrated in the Autobiography.  But even a challenge to a duel was
against the new law of Nevada; and obeying the warning of Governor
North, the duellists crossed the border without ceremony, and stood not
upon the order of their going.

While Mark Twain was still with the Enterprise, he was in the habit of
reserving all his "sketches" for the San Francisco newspapers, the
'Golden Era' and the 'Morning Call'.  He now turns his steps to that
storied city of "Frisco," and was not long in extending his fame on that
coast.  He was incorrigibly lazy, as George Barnes, the editor of the
Call, soon discovered; and Kipling was told when he was in San Francisco
that Mark was in the habit of coiling himself into a heap and meditating
until the last minute, when he would produce copy having no relationship
to the subject of his assignment--"which made the editor swear horribly,
and the readers of 'The Call' ask for more."  His love for practical
joking during the California days brought him unpopularity; and one
reads in a San Francisco paper of the early days: "There have been
moments in the lives of various kind-hearted and respectable citizens of
California and Nevada, when, if Mark Twain were before them as members
of a vigilance committee for any mild crime, such as mule-stealing or
arson, it is to be feared his shrift would have been short.  What a
dramatic picture the idea conjures up, to be sure!  Mark, before these
honest men, infuriated by his practical jokes, trying to show them what
an innocent creature he was when it came to mules, or how the only
policy of fire insurance he held had lapsed, how void of guile he was in
any direction, and all with that inimitable drawl, that perplexed
countenance and peculiar scraping of the left foot, like a boy speaking
his first piece at school."  If he just escaped disaster, he likewise
just escaped millions; on one occasion, for the space of a few moments,
he owned the famous Comstock Lode, which was, though he never suspected
it, worth millions.  His trunkful of securities, which were eminently
saleable at one time, proved to be of fictitious value when "the bottom
dropped out" of the Nevada boom; and that silver mine, which he was
commissioned to sell in New York, was finally sold for three million
dollars!  It was, as Mark says, the blind lead over again.  Mark Twain
had the true Midas touch; but the mine of riches he was destined to
discover was a mine, not of gold or silver, but the mine of intellect
and rich human experience.

To The 'Golden Era', Mark Twain, like Prentice Mulford and Joaquin
Miller, contributed freely; and after a time he became associated with
Bret Harte on 'The Californian', Harte as editor at twenty dollars a
week, and Mark receiving twelve dollars for an article.  Here
forgathered that group of brilliant writers of the Pacific Slope,
numbering Bret Harte, Mark Twain, Charles Warren Stoddard, Charles Henry
Webb, and Prentice Mulford among its celebrities; two of that remarkable
coterie were soon destined to achieve world-wide fame.  "These ingenuous
young men, with the fatuity of gifted people," says Mr. Howells, "had
established a literary newspaper in San Francisco, and they brilliantly
co-operated in its early extinction."  Of his first meeting with Mark
Twain, Bret Harte has left a memorable picture:

     "His head was striking.  He had the curly hair, the aquiline nose,
     and even the aquiline eye--an eye so eagle-like that a second lid
     would not have surprised me--of an unusual and dominant nature.
     His eyebrows were very thick and bushy.  His dress was careless,
     and his general manner was one of supreme indifference to
     surroundings and circumstances.  Barnes introduced him as Mr. Sam
     Clemens, and remarked that he had shown a very unusual talent in a
     number of newspaper articles contributed over the signature of
     'Mark Twain.'"

Mark tired of the life of literary drudgery in San Francisco--on one
occasion he was reduced to a solitary ten--cent piece; and General John
McComb wooed him back to journalism just as he was on the point of
returning to his old work on the Mississippi River, this time as a
Government pilot.  During the earlier years in San Francisco, he was in
the habit of writing weekly letters to the 'Territorial Enterprise'
--personals, market-chat, and the like.  But when he criticized the police
department of San Francisco in the most scathing terms, the officials
"found means for bringing charges that made the author's presence there
difficult and comfortless."  So he welcomed the opportunity to join
Steve Gillis in a pilgrimage to the mountain home of Jim Gillis, his
brother--a "sort of Bohemian infirmary."  Mark Twain revelled in the
delightful company of the original of Bret Harte's "Truthful James," and
he enjoyed the mining methods of Jackass Hill, like the true Bohemian
that he was.  Soon after his arrival, Mark and Jim Gillis started out in
search of golden pockets.  As De Quille says:

     "They soon found and spent some days in working up the undisturbed
     trail of an undiscovered deposit, They were on the 'golden
     bee-line' and stuck to it faithfully, though it was necessary to carry
     each sample of dirt a considerable distance to a small stream in
     the bed of a canon in order to wash it.  However, Mark hungered and
     thirsted to find a big rich pocket, and he pitched in after the
     manner of Joe Bowers of old--just like a thousand of brick.

     "Each step made sure by the finding of golden grains, they at last
     came upon the pocket whence these grains had trailed out down the
     slope of the mountain.  It was a cold, dreary drizzling day when
     the 'home deposit' was found.  The first sample of dirt carried to
     the stream and washed out yielded only a few cents.  Although the
     right vein had been discovered, they had as yet found only the tail
     end of the pocket.

     "Returning to the vein, they dug a sample of the decomposed ore
     from a new place, and were about to carry it down to the ravine and
     test it, when the rain increased to a lively downpour."

Mark was chilled to the bone, and refused to carry another pail of
water.  In slow, drawling tones he protested decisively:

"Jim, I won't carry any more water.  This work is too disagreeable.
Let's go to the house and wait till it clears up."

Gillis was eager to test the sample he had just taken out.

"Bring just one more pail, Sam," he urged.

"I won't do it, Jim!" replied the now thoroughly disgusted Clemens.
"Not a drop!  Not if I knew there were a million dollars in that pan!"

Moved by Sam's dejected appearance--blue nose and humped back--and
realizing doubtless that it was futile to reason with him further, Jim
yielded and emptied the sacks of dirt just dug upon the ground.  They
now started out for the nearest shelter, the hotel in Angel's Camp, kept
by Coon Drayton, formerly a Mississippi River pilot.  Imagine the jests
and shouts that went around as Mark and Coon vied with each other in
narrating interesting experiences.  For three days the rain and the
stories held out; and among those told by Drayton was a story of a frog.
He narrated this story with the utmost solemnity as a thing that had
happened in Angel's Camp in the spring of '49--the story of a frog
trained by its owner to become a wonderful jumper, but which failed to
"make good" in a contest because the owner of a rival frog, in order to
secure the winning of the wager, filled the trained frog full of shot
during its owner's absence.  This story appealed irresistibly to Mark as
a first-rate story told in a first-rate way; he divined in it the magic
quality unsuspected by the narrator--universal humour.  He made notes in
order to remember the story, and on his return to the Gillis' cabin,
"wrote it up."  He wrote a number of other things besides, all of which
he valued above the frog story; but Gillis thought it the best thing he
had ever written.

Meantime the rain had washed off the surface soil from their last pan,
which they had left in their hurry.  Some passing miners were astonished
to behold the ground glittering with gold; they appropriated it, but
dared not molest the deposit until the expiration of the thirty-day
claim-notice posted by Jim Gillis.  They sat down to wait, hoping that
the claimants would not return.  At the expiration of the thirty days,
the claim-jumpers took possession, and soon cleared out the pocket,
which yielded twenty thousand dollars.  It was one of the most fortunate
accidents in Mark Twain's career.  He came within one pail of water of
comparative wealth; but had he discovered that pocket, he would probably
have settled down as a pocketminer, and might have pounded quartz for
the rest of his life.  Had his nerve held out a moment longer, he would
never have gone to Angel's Camp, would never have heard The Story of the
Jumping Frog, and would have escaped that sudden fame which this little
story soon brought him.

On his return to San Francisco, he dropped in one morning to see Bret
Harte, and told him this story.  As Harte records:

     "He spoke in a slow, rather satirical drawl, which was in itself
     irresistible.  He went on to tell one of those extravagant stories,
     and half-unconsciously dropped into the lazy tone and manner of the
     original narrator.  I asked him to tell it again to a friend who
     came in, and they asked him to write it for 'The Californian'.  He
     did so, and when published it was an emphatic success.  It was the
     first work of his that had attracted general attention, and it
     crossed the Sierras for an Eastern reading.  The story was 'The
     Jumping Frog of Calaveras.'  It is now known and laughed over, I
     suppose, wherever the English language is spoken; but it will never
     be as funny to anyone in print as it was to me, told for the first
     time, by the unknown Twain himself, on that morning in the San
     Francisco Mint."

When Artemus Ward passed through California on a literary tour in 1864,
Mark Twain regaled him--as he regaled all worthy acquaintances--with his
favourite story, 'The Jumping Frog'.  Ward was delighted with it.

"Write it out," he said, "give it all the necessary touches, and let me
use it in a volume of sketches I am preparing for the press.  Just send
it to Carleton, my publisher, in New York."

It arrived too late for Ward's book, and Carleton presented it to Henry
Clapp, who published it in his paper, The Saturday Press of November 18,
1864.  In his Autobiography, Mr. Clemens has narrated how 'The Jumping
Frog' put a quietus on 'The Saturday Press', and was immediately copied
in numerous newspapers in England and America.  He was always proud of
the celebrity that story achieved; but he never sought to claim the
credit for himself.  He freely admits that it was not Mark Twain, but
the frog, that became celebrated.  The author, alas, remained in

Carleton afterwards confessed that he had lost the chance of a life
--time by giving The Jumping Frog away; but Mark Twain's old friend,
Charles Henry Webb, came to the rescue and published it.  About four
thousand copies were sold in three years; but the real fame of the story
was in its newspaper and magazine notoriety.  In 1872 it was translated
into the 'Revue des Deux Mondes'; and it was almost as widely read in
England, India, and Australia as it was in America.

Meantime Mark Twain was still awaiting the rewards of journalism, and
doing literary hack work of one sort or another.  In 1866 the
proprietors of the 'Sacramento Union' employed him to write a series of
letters from the Sandwich Islands.  The purpose of these letters was to
give an account of the sugar industry.  Mark told the story of sugar,
but, as was his wont, threw in a lot of extraneous matter that had
nothing to do with sugar.  It was the extraneous matter, and not the
sugar, that won him a wide audience on the Pacific Coast.  During these
months of "luxurious vagrancy" he described in the most vivid way many
of the most notable features of the Sandwich Islands.  Nowadays such
letters would at once have been embodied in a volume.  In his 'My Debut
as a Literary Person', Mark Twain has described in admirably graphic
style his great "scoop" of the news of the Hornet disaster; how Anson
Burlingame had him, ill though he was, carried on a cot to the hospital,
so that he could interview the half-dead sailors.  His bill--twenty
dollars a week for general correspondence, and one hundred dollars a
column for the Hornet story--was paid with all good will.  On the
strength of this story, he hoped to become a "Literary Person," and sent
his account of the Hornet disaster to Harper's Magazine, where it
appeared in December, 1866.  But alas! he could not give the banquet he
was going to give to celebrate his debut as a "Literary Person."  He had
not written the "Mark Twain" distinctly, and when it appeared it had
been transformed into "Mike Swain"!

When Mark returned to San Francisco, he resolved to follow the example
of Stoddard and Mulford, and "enter the lecture field."  The "extraneous
matter" in his letters to the Sacramento Union had made him "notorious";
and, as he put it, "San Francisco invited me to lecture."  The historic
account of that lecture, in 'Roughing It', is found elsewhere in this
book.  Noah Brooks, editor of the Alta California, who was present at
this lecture, has written the following graphic piece of description
"Mark Twain's method as a lecturer was distinctly unique and novel.  His
slow, deliberate drawl, the anxious and perturbed expression of his
visage, the apparently painful effort with which he framed his
sentences, and, above all, the surprise that spread over his face when
the audience roared with delight or rapturously applauded the finer
passages of his word-painting, were unlike anything of the kind they had
ever known.  All this was original; it was Mark Twain."  Employing D. E.
McCarthy as his agent, Mark gave a number of lectures at various places
on the Pacific Coast.  From this time forward we recognize in Mark Twain
one of the supreme masters of the art of lecturing in our time.

In December, 1866, he set out for New York, preparatory to the grand
tour around the world.  His own account of the circular describing the
projected trip is famous.  He had proposed, for twelve hundred dollars
in gold,--at the rate of twenty dollars apiece, to write a series of
letters for the 'Alta California'.  Brooks, the editor, fortified the
grave misgivings of the proprietors over this proposition; but Colonel
John McComb (then on the editorial staff) argued vehemently for Mark,
and turned the scale in his favour.  While Mark was in New York, he was
urged by Frank Fuller, whom he had known as Territorial Governor of
Utah, to deliver a lecture--in order to establish his reputation on the
Atlantic coast.  Fuller, an enthusiastic admirer of Mark Twain, overcame
all objections, and engaged Cooper Union for the occasion.  Though few
tickets were sold, Fuller cleverly succeeded in packing the hall by
sending out a multitude of complimentary tickets to the school-teachers
of New York City and the adjacent territory.  That lecture proved to be
a supreme success--Mark's reputation as a lecturer on the Atlantic coast
was assured.

On June 10, 1867, the Quaker City set sail for its Oriental tour.  It
bore on board a comparatively unknown person of the name of Clemens,
who, in applying for passage, represented himself to be a Baptist
minister in ill-health from San Francisco!

It brought back a celebrity, destined to become famous throughout the
world.  Prior to sailing he arranged to contribute letters to the 'New
York Tribune' and the 'New York Herald', as well as to the 'Alta

"His letters to the 'Alta California'," says Noah Brooks, "made him
famous.  It was my business to prepare one of these letters for the
Sunday morning paper, taking the topmost letter from a goodly pile that
was stacked in a pigeon-hole of my desk.  Clemens was an indefatigable
correspondent, and his last letter was slipped in at the bottom of a
tall stack.

"It would not be quite accurate to say that Mark Twain's letters were
the talk of the town; but it was very rarely that readers of the paper
did not come into the office on Mondays to confide to the editors their
admiration of the writer, and their enjoyment of his weekly
contributions.  The California newspapers copied these letters, with
unanimous approval and disregard of the copyrights of author and

It was the Western humour, and the quaintly untrammelled American
intelligence, focussed upon diverse and age-encrusted civilizations,
which caught the instantaneous fancy of a vast public.  It was a virgin
field for the humorous observer; Europe had not yet become the
playground of America.  It was rather a _terra incognita_, regarded with
a sort of reverential ignorance by the average American tourist.  By the
range of his humour, the pertinency of his observation, and the vigour
of his expression he awoke immediate attention.  And he aroused a deeply
sympathetic response in the hearts of Americans by his manly and
outspoken expression--his respect for the worthy, the admirable, the
praiseworthy, his scorn and detestation for the spurious, the specious
and the fraudulent.  In this book, for the first time, he strikes the
key-note of his life and thought, which sounds so clearly throughout all
his later works.  It is the true beginning of his career.

On his return to the United States in November, he resumed his newspaper
work, this time at the National Capital.  On his arrival there he found
a letter from Elisha Bliss, of the 'American Publishing Company',
proposing a volume recounting the adventures of the "Excursion," to be
elaborately illustrated, and sold by subscription on a five per cent.
royalty.  He eagerly accepted the offer and set to work on his notes.

"I knew Mark Twain in Washington," says Senator William M. Stewart of
Nevada, in his reminiscences 'A Senator of the Sixties', "at a time when
he was without money.  He told me his condition, and said he was very
anxious to get out his book.  He showed me his notes, and I saw that
they would make a great book, and probably bring him in a fortune.  I
promised that I would 'stake' him until he had the book written.  I made
him a clerk to my committee in the senate, which paid him six dollars
per day; then I hired a man for one hundred dollars per month to do the
work!"  His mischievously extravagant description of Mark Twain at this
time is eminently worthy of record "He was arrayed in a seedy suit which
hung upon his lean frame in bunches, with no style worth mentioning.  A
sheaf of scraggly, black hair leaked out of a battered, old, slouch hat,
like stuffing from an ancient Colonial sofa, and an evil-smelling cigar
butt, very much frazzled, protruded from the corner of his mouth.  He
had a very sinister appearance.  He was a man I had known around the
Nevada mining camps several years before, and his name was Samuel L.

It was during this winter that Mark wrote a number of humorous articles
and sketches--'The Facts in the Case of the Great Beef Contract', the
account of his resignation as clerk of the Senate Committee on
Conchology, and 'Riley--Newspaper Correspondent'.  His time was chiefly
devoted to preparing the material for his book; but finding Washington
too distracting, he returned to San Francisco and completed the
manuscript therein July, 1868.  For a year the publication of the book
was delayed, as recorded in the Autobiography; but it finally appeared
in print following Mark's indignant telegram to Bliss that, if the book
was not on sale in twenty-four hours, he would bring suit for damages.
Mark Twain records that in nine months the book had taken the publishing
house out of debt, advanced its stock from twenty-five to two hundred,
and left seventy thousand dollars clear profit.  Eighty-five thousand
copies were sold within sixteen months, the largest sale of a four
dollar book ever achieved in America in so short a time up to that date.
It is, miraculous to relate, still the leader in its own special field
--a "bestseller" for forty years!

The proprietors of the 'Alta California' were exceeding wroth when they
heard that Clemens was preparing for publication the very letters which
they had commissioned him to write and had printed in their own paper.
They prepared to publish a cheap paper-covered edition of the letters,
and sent the American Publishing Co. a challenge in the shape of an
advance notice of their publication.  Clemens hurried back to San
Francisco from the East, and soon convinced the proprietors of the 'Alta
California' of the authenticity of his copyright.  The paper-covered
edition was then and there abandoned forever.

Before leaving the West to settle permanently in the East, Mark Twain
was associated for a short time with the 'Overland Monthly', edited by
Bret Harte.  In his review of 'The Innocents Abroad', Harte asserted
that Clemens deserved "to rank foremost among Western humorists"; but he
was grievously disappointed in the first few contributions from Clemens
to the Overland Monthly--notably 'By Rail through France' (later
incorporated in The Innocents Abroad)--because of their perfect gravity.
At last, 'A Mediaeval Romance'--a story which has been said to contain
the germ of 'A Connecticut Yankee', because of its burlesque of
mediaevalism--won the enthusiastic approval of Bret Harte.

From this time forward, Samuel L. Clemens is seen in a new environment,
in association with new ideas and a new civilization.  The history of
this second period does not fall within the scope of the present work.
It has just been narrated with brilliancy and charm by his close
associate and most intimate friend, Mr. William Dean Howells, in his
admirable book 'My Mark Twain'.  In the subsequent portion of the
present work attention will be directed solely to those features of Mark
Twain's life which have a direct bearing upon his career as a man of
letters, and which throw into relief the progressive development of his

The South and the West contributed to Mark Twain's development, and
added to his store of vital experience, in greater measure than all the
other influences of his life combined.  From the inexhaustible well of
those experiences he drew ever fresh contributions for the satisfaction
of the world.  His mind was stocked with the rich, crude ore of early
experience--the romance and the reality of a life full of prismatic
variations of colour.  The civilization of the East, its culture and
refinement, tempered the genius of Mark Twain in conformity with the
indispensable criteria of classic art.  Under the broadening influence
of its persistent nationalism, he became more deeply, more profoundly,
imbued with the comprehensive ideals of American democracy.  He never
lost the first fine virginal spontaneity of his native style, never
weakened in the vigour of his thought or in the primitiveness of his
expression.  His contact with the East compassed the liberation of that
vast fund of stored--up early experiences, acquired through grappling
with life in many a rude encounter.

Out of its own life, the East never contributed to Mark Twain's works,
in any appreciably momentous way, either volume or immensity of fertile,
suggestive human experience.  If we eliminate from the list of Mark
Twain's works those books which have their roots deep set in the soil of
South and West, we eliminate the most priceless assets of his art.
Indeed, it may be doubted whether, were those works struck from the
catalogue of his contributions, Mark Twain could justly rank as a great
genius.  To his association with the South and the Southwest are due
'Tom Sawyer', 'Huckleberry Finn', 'Pudd'nhead Wilson', and 'Life on the
Mississippi'.  'The Jumping Frog' and 'Roughing It' belong peculiarly to
the West, and even 'The Innocents Abroad' falls wholly within the period
of Mark Twain's influence by the West, its standards, outlook, and
localized viewpoint.

Colonel Mulberry Sellers is a veritably human type, the embodiment,
laughably lovable, of a temperamental phase of American character in the
course of the national development.  But 'The Gilded Age' has long since
disappeared from that small but tremendously significant group of works
which are tentatively destined to rank as classics.  Much as I enjoy the
satiric comedy of 'A Yankee in King Arthur's Court', I have always felt
that it set before Europe an American type which is neither elevating
nor inspiring--nor national.  It tends to the gratification of England
and Europe, even in the face of its democratic demolition of feudalistic
survival, by sealing a certain cheap type of vulgarity with the national
stamp.  One must, nevertheless, confess with regret that this type is
the embodiment of an "ideal" still only too commonly cherished in
America.  The national type, I take it, is found in such characters as
Lincoln and Phillips Brooks, in Lee and Henry W. Grady, in Charles W.
Eliot and Edwin A. Alderman, and not in a provincial 'Connecticut
Yankee', jovial and whole--hearted though he be.  I say this without
forgetting or minimizing for a moment the art displayed in effecting the
devastating and illimitably humorous contrast of a present with a
remotely past civilization.  'Joan of Arc' has no local association,
being a pure work of the heart, the chivalric impulse of a noble spirit.
'The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg', viewed from any standpoint, is a
masterpiece; but its significance lies, not in the locality of its
setting, but in the universality of its moral.

In a word, it was the East which broadened and universalized the spirit
of Mark Twain.  We shall see, later on, that it steadily fostered in him
a spirit of true nationalism and hardy democracy.  But it was the South
and the West which lavishly gave him of their most priceless riches, and
thereby created in Mark Twain an unique and incomparable genius, the
veritable type and embodiment of their inalienably individual life and
civilization.  This first phase of the life of Mark Twain has been so
strongly stressed here, because the first half of his life has always
seemed to me to have been a period of--shall I say?--God-appointed
preparation for the most significant and lastingly permanent work of the
latter half, namely, the narration of the incidents of early experience,
and the imaginative reminting of the gold of that experience.

One has only to read Mark Twain's works to learn the real history of his
life.  There were momentous episodes in the latter half of his career;
but they were concerned with his life rather than with his art.  We
cannot, indeed, say what or how profound is the effect of life and
experience on art.  There was the happy marriage, the tragic losses of
wife and children.  There were the associations with the culture and
art--circles of America and Europe--New England, New York, Berlin,
Vienna, London, Glasgow; the academic degrees--Missouri, Yale; finally
ancient Oxford for the first time conferring the coveted honour of its
degree upon a humorist; the honours his own country delighted to bestow
upon him.  And there too was that gallant struggle to pay off a
tremendous debt, begun at sixty--and accomplished one year sooner than
he expected--after the most spectacular and remarkable lecture tour in
history.  The beautiful chivalric spirit of this great soul shone
brightest in disaster.  He insisted that it was his wife who refused to
compromise his debts for forty cents on the dollar--that it was she who
declared it must be dollar for dollar; and when a fund was raised by his
admirers to assist in lightening his burden, that it was his wife who
refused to accept it, though he was willing enough to accept it as a
welcome relief.

As an American, I can say nothing more significantly characteristic of
the man than that he was a good citizen.  He possessed in rich measure
the consciousness of personal responsibility for the standards,
government, and ideals of his town, his city, and his country.  Civic
conscientiousness burned strong within him; and he fought to develop and
to maintain breadth of public view and sanity of popular ideals.  Blind
patriotism was impossible for this great American: he exposed the
shallowness of popular enthusiasms and the narrowness of rampant
spread-eagleism, without regard for consequence to himself or his
popularity. What a tribute to his personality that, instead of suffering,
he gained in popularity by his honest and downright outspokenness!  He
wielded the lash of his bitter scorn and fearful irony upon the
wrong-doer, the hypocrite, the fraud; and aroused public opinion to
impatience with public abuse, open offence, and official discourtesy.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens impressed me as the most complete and human
individual I have ever known.  He was not a great thinker; his views
were not "advanced".

The glory of his temperament was its splendid sanity, balance, and
normality.  The homeliest virtues of life were his the republican virtue
of simplicity; the domestic virtue of, personal purity and passionately
simple regard for the sanctity of the marriage bond; the civic virtue of
public honesty; the business virtue of stainless private honour.  Mark
Twain was one of the supreme literary geniuses of his time.  But he was
something even more than this.  He was not simply a great genius: he was
a great man.

          "Exhilaration can be infinite, like sorrow; a joke
          can be so big that it breaks the roof of the stars.
          By simply going on being absurd, a thing can become
          godlike; there is but one step from the ridiculous
          to the sublime."
                      GILBERT K.  CHESTERTON: Charles Dickens.

                               THE HUMORIST

Not without wide significance in its bearing upon the general outlines
of contemporary literature is the circumstance that Mark Twain served
his apprenticeship to letters in the high school of journalism.  Like
his contemporaries, Artemus Ward and Bret Harte, he first found free
play for his comic intransigeance in the broad freedom of the journal
for the masses.  Brilliant as he was, Artemus Ward seemed most effective
only when he spoke in weird vernacular through the grotesque mouthpiece
of his own invention.  Bret Harte sacrificed more and more of the native
flavour of his genius in his progressive preoccupation with the more
sophisticated refinements of the purely literary.  Mark Twain never lost
the ruddy glow of his first inspiration, and his style, to the very end,
remained as it began--journalistic, untamed, primitive.

Both Rudyard Kipling and Bernard Shaw, who like Mark Twain have achieved
comprehensive international reputations, have succeeded in preserving
the early vigour and telling directness acquired in journalistic
apprenticeship.  It was by the crude, almost barbaric, cry of his
journalese that Rudyard Kipling awoke the world with a start.  That
trenchant and forthright style which imparts such an air of heightened
verisimilitude to his plays, Bernard Shaw acquired in the ranks of the
new journalism.  "The writer who aims at producing the platitudes which
are 'not for an age, but for all time,'" says Bernard Shaw, "has his
reward in being unreadable in all ages; whilst Plato and Aristophanes
trying to knock some sense into the Athens of their day, Shakespeare
peopling that same Athens with Elizabethan mechanics and Warwickshire
hunts, Ibsen photographing the local doctors and vestrymen of a
Norwegian parish, Carpaccio painting the life of St. Ursula exactly as
if she were a lady living in the next street to him, are still alive and
at home everywhere among the dust and ashes of many thousands of
academic, punctilious, most archaeologically correct men of letters and
art who spent their lives haughtily avoiding the journalists' vulgar
obsession with the ephemeral."  Mark Twain began his career by studying
the people and period he knew in relation to his own life.  Jamestown,
Hannibal, and Virginia City, the stately Mississippi, and the orgiastic,
uproarious life of Western prairie, mountain, and gulch start to life
and live again in the pages of his books.  Colonel Sellers, in the main
correct but "stretched a little" here and there; Tom Sawyer, the
"magerful" hero of boyhood; the shrewd and kindly Aunt Polly, drawn from
his own mother; Huck Finn, with the tender conscience and the gentle
heart--these and many another were drawn from the very life.  In writing
of his time _a propos_ of himself, Mark Twain succeeded in telling the
truth about humanity in general and for any time.

In the main--though there are noteworthy exceptions--Mark Twain's works
originated fundamentally in the facts of his own life.  He is a master
humorist--which is only another way of saying that he is a master
psychologist with the added gift of humour--because he looked upon
himself always as a complete and well-rounded repository of universally
human characteristics. _Humanus sum; et nil humanum mihi alienum est_
--this might well have served for his motto.  It was his conviction that
the American possessed no unique and peculiar human characteristics
differentiating him from the rest of the world.  In the same way, he
regarded himself as possessing no unique or peculiar human
characteristics differentiating him from the rest of the human race.
Like Omar he might have said "I myself am Heaven and Hell"----for within
himself he recognized, in some form, at higher or lower power, every
feature, trait, instinct, characteristic of which a human being is
capable.  The last half century of his life, as he himself said in his
Autobiography, had been constantly and faithfully devoted to the study
of the human race.  His knowledge came from minute self-examination--for
he regarded himself as the entire human race compacted together.  It was
by concentrating his attention upon himself, by recognizing in himself
the quintessential type of the race, that he succeeded in producing
works of such pure naturalness and utter verity.  A humour which is at
bottom good humour is always contagious; but there is a deeper and more
universal appeal which springs from genial and unaffected representation
of the human species, of the universal 'Genus Homo'.

It has been said, by foreign critics, that the intellectual life of
America in general takes its cue from the day, whilst the intellectual
life of Europe derives from history.  If American literature be really
"Journalism under exceptionally favourable conditions," as defined by
the Danish critic, Johannes V. Jensen, then must Mark Twain be a typical
product of American literature.  A certain modicum of truth may rest in
this startling and seemingly uncomplimentary definition.  Interpreted
liberally, it may be taken to mean that America finds her key to the
future in the immediate vital present, rather than in a remote and hazy
past.  Mark Twain was a great creative genius because he saw himself,
and so saw human nature, in the strong, searching light of the living
present.  He is the greatest genius evolved by natural selection out of
the ranks of American journalism.  Crude, rudimentary and boisterous as
his early writing was, at times provincial and coarse, it bore upon its
face the fresh stamp of contemporary actuality.

To the American of to-day, it is not a little exasperating to be
placidly assured by our British critics that America is sublimely
unconscious that her childhood is gone.  And this gay paradox is less
arresting than the asseveration that America is lacking in humour
because she is lacking in self-knowledge.  There is a certain grimly
comic irony in this commiseration with us, on the part of our British
critics, for our failure joyously to realize our old age, which they
would have us believe is a sort of premature senescence and decay.  The
New World is pitied for her failure to know without illusion the
futility of the hurried pursuit of wealth, of the passion for
extravagant opulence and inordinate display, of all the hostages youth
in America eternally gives to old age.  "America has produced great
artists," admits Mr. Gilbert Chesterton.  Yet he maintains that "that
fact most certainly proves that she is full of a fine futility and the
end of all things.  Whatever the American men of genius are, they are
not young gods making a young world.  Is the art of Whistler a brave,
barbaric art, happy and headlong?  Does Mr. Henry James infect us with
the spirit of a schoolboy?  .  .  .  Out of America has come a sweet and
startling cry, as unmistakable as the cry of a dying man."  This sweet
and startling cry is less startling than the obvious reflection that Mr.
Chesterton has chosen to illustrate his ludicrous paradox, the two
American geniuses who have lived outside their own country, absorbed the
art ideals of the older, more sophisticated civilizations, and lost
touch with the youthful spirit, the still almost barbaric violence, the
ongoing rush and progress of America.  It is worthy of remark that Mr.
James has always maintained that Mark Twain was capable of amusing only
very primitive persons; and Whistler, with his acid _diablerie_, was
wholly alien in spirit to the boisterous humour of Mark Twain.  That
other brilliant but incoherent interpreter of American life, Mr. Charles
Whibley, bound to the presupposed paradox of America's pathetic
senescence and total deficiency in humour, blithely gives away his case
in the vehement assertion that America's greatest national interpreter
is--Mark Twain!

To the general, Mark Twain is, first and foremost and exclusively, the
humorist--with his shrieking Philistinism, his dominant sense for the
colossally incongruous, his spontaneous faculty for staggering,
ludicrous contrast.  To the reflective, Mark Twain subsumed within
himself a "certain surcharge and overplus of power, a buoyancy, and a
sense of conquest" which typified the youth of America.  It is memorable
that he breathed in his youth the bracing air of the prairie, shared the
collective ardour of the Argonauts, felt the rising thrill of Western
adventure, and expressed the crude and manly energy of navigation,
exploration, and the daring hazard for new fortune.  To those who knew
him in personal intimacy, the quality that was outstanding, omnipresent
and eternally ineradicable from his nature was--paradoxical as it may
sound--not humour, not wit, not irony, not a thousand other terms that
might be associated with his name, but--the spirit of eternal youth.  It
is comprehensively significant and conclusive that, to the day of her
death, Mrs. Clemens never called her husband anything but the bright
nickname--"Youth."  Mark Twain is great as humorist, admirable as teller
of tales, pungent as stylist.  But he has achieved another sort of
eminence that is peculiarly gratifying to Americans.  "They distinguish
in his writings," says an acute French critic, "exalted and sublimated
by his genius, their national qualities of youth and of gaiety, of force
and of faith; they love his philosophy, at once practical and high
--minded.  They are fond of his simple style, animated with verve and
spice, thanks to which his work is accessible to every class of readers.
They think he describes his contemporaries with such an art of
distinguishing their essential traits, that he manages to evoke, to
create even, characters and types of eternal verity.  They profess for
Mark Twain the same sort of vehement admiration that we have in France
for Balzac."

Whilst Mark Twain has solemnly averred that humour is a subject which
has never had much interest for him, it is nothing more than a
commonplace to say that it is as a humorist, and as a humorist only,
that the world seems to persist in regarding him.  The philosophy of his
early life was what George Meredith has aptly termed the "philosophy of
the Broad Grin."  Mr. Gilbert Chesterton once said that "American
humour, neither unfathomably absurd like the French, nor sharp and
sensible and full of the realities of life like the Scotch, is simply
the humour of imagination.  It consists in piling towers on towers and
mountains on mountains; of heaping a joke up to the stars and extending
it to the end of the world."  This partial and somewhat conventional
foreign conception of American humour is admirably descriptive of the
cumulative and "sky-breaking" humour of the early Mark Twain.  Then no
exaggeration was too absurd for him, no phantasm too unreal, no climax
too extreme.

The humour of that day was the humour bred of a barbaric freedom and a
lawless, untrammelled life.  Mark Twain grew up with a civilization but
one remove from barbarism; supremacy in marksmanship was the arbiter of
argument; the greatest joke was the discomfiture of a fellow-creature.
In the laughter of these wild Westerners was something at once rustic
and sanguinary.  The refinements of art and civilization seemed
effeminate, artificial, to these rude spirits, who laughed uproariously
at one another, plotted dementedly in circumvention of each other's
plans, and gloried in their defiance of both man and God.  Deep in their
hearts they cherished tenderness for woman, sympathy for the weak and
the afflicted, and generosity indescribable.  And yet they prided
themselves upon their barbaric rusticity, glorying in a native cunning
bred of their wild life and sharpened in the struggle for existence.
What, after all, is 'The Jumping Frog' but the elaborate narrative, in
native vernacular, of a shrewd practical joke?  As Mark Twain first
heard it, this story was a solemn recital of an interesting incident in
the life of Angel's Camp.  It was Mark Twain who "created" the story: he
endowed with the comic note of whimsicality that imaginative realization
of _une chose vue_, which went round the world.  The humour of rustic
shrewdness in criticism of art, so elaborately exploited in 'The
Innocents Abroad', was displayed, perhaps invented, by Mark Twain in the
early journalistic days in San Francisco.  In 'The Golden Era' an
excellent example is found in the following observations upon a
celebrated painting of Samson and Delilah, then on exhibition in San

"Now what is the first thing you see in looking at this picture down at
the Bank Exchange?  Is it the gleaming eye and fine face of Samson? or
the muscular Philistine gazing furtively at the lovely Delilah? or is it
the rich drapery? or is it the truth to nature in that pretty foot?  No,
sir.  The first thing that catches the eye is the scissors at her feet.
Them scissors is too modern; thar warn't no scissors like them in them
days--by a d---d sight."

That was a brilliant and audacious conception, having the just
proportion of sanguinary humour, embodied in Mark Twain's offer, during
his lecture on the Sandwich Islands, to show his audience how the
cannibals consume their food--if only some lady would lend him a live
baby.  There is the same wildly humorous tactlessness in the delicious
anecdote of Higgins.

Higgins was a simple creature, who used to haul rock; and on the day
Judge Bagley fell down the court-house steps and broke his neck, Higgins
was commissioned to carry the body in his wagon to the house of Mrs.
Bagley and break the news to her as gently as possible.  When he
arrived, he shouted until Mrs. Bagley came to the door, and then
tactfully inquired if the Widder Bagley lived there!  When she
indignantly replied in the negative, he gently humoured her whim; and
inquired next if Judge Bagley lived there.  When she replied that he
did, Higgins offered to bet that he didn't; and delicately inquired if
the Judge were in.  On being assured that he was not in at present,
Higgins triumphantly exclaimed that he expected as much.  Because he had
the old Judge curled up out there in the wagon; and when Mrs. Bagley saw
him, she would doubtless admit that about all that could comfort the
Judge now would be an inquest!

Mark Twain was so fond of this bloody and ghastly humour that, on one
occasion, he utterly overreached himself and suffered serious
consequences.  In the words of his fellow-journalist, Dan De Quille:

     Mark Twain was fond of manufacturing items of the horrible style,
     but on one occasion he overdid this business, and the disease
     worked its own cure.  He wrote an account of a terrible murder,
     supposed to have occurred at "Dutch Nick's," a station on the
     Carson River, where Empire City now stands.  He made a man cut his
     wife's throat and those of his nine children, after which
     diabolical deed the murderer mounted his horse, cut his own throat
     from ear to ear, rode to Carson City (a distance of three and a
     half miles) and fell dead in front of Peter Hopkins' saloon.

     All the California papers copied the item, and several made
     editorial comment upon it as being the most shocking occurrence of
     the kind ever known on the Pacific Coast.  Of course rival Virginia
     City papers at once denounced the item as a "cruel and idiotic
     hoax."  They showed how the publication of such "shocking and
     reckless falsehoods" disgraced and injured the State, and they made
     it as "sultry" as possible for the 'Enterprise' and its "fool

     When the California papers saw all this and found they had been
     sold, there was a howl from Siskiyou to San Diego.  Some papers
     demanded the immediate discharge of the author of the item by the
     'Enterprise' proprietors.  They said they would never quote another
     line from that paper while the reporter who wrote the shocking item
     remained on its force.  All this worried Mark as I had never before
     seen him worried.  Said he: "I am being burned alive on both sides
     of the mountains."  We roomed together, and one night, when the
     persecution was hottest, he was so distressed that he could not
     sleep.  He tossed, tumbled, and groaned aloud.  So I set to work to
     comfort him.  "Mark," said I, "never mind this bit of a gale, it
     will soon blow itself out.  This item of yours will be remembered
     and talked about when all your other work is forgotten.  The murder
     at Dutch Nick's will be quoted years from now as the big sell of
     these times."

     Said Mark: "I believe you are right; I remember I once did a thing
     at home in Missouri, was caught at it, and worried almost to death.
     I was a mere lad, and was going to school in a little town where I
     had an uncle living.  I at once left the town and did not return to
     it for three years.  When I finally came back I found I was only
     remembered as 'the boy that played the trick on the schoolmaster.'"

     Mark then told me the story, began to laugh over it, and from that
     moment "ceased to groan."  He was not discharged, and in less than
     a month people everywhere were laughing and joking about the
     "murder at Dutch Nick's."

Out of that full, free Western life, with its tremendous hazards of
fortune, its extravagant alternations from fabulous wealth to wretched
poverty, its tremendous exaggerations and incredible contrasts, was
evolved a humour as rugged, as mountainous, and as altitudinous as the
conditions which gave it birth.  Mark Twain may be said to have created,
and made himself master of, this new and fantastic humour which, in its
exaggeration and elaboration, was without a parallel in the history of
humorous narration.  At times it seemed little more than a sort of
infectious and hilarious nonsense; but in reality it had behind it all
the calculation of detail and elaboration.  There was something in it
of the volcanic, as if at the bursting forth of some pentup force of
primitive nature.  It consisted in piling Pelion on Ossa, until the
structure toppled over of its own weight and fell with a stentorian
crash of laughter which echoed among the stars.  Whenever Mark Twain
conceived a humorous idea, he seemed capable of extracting from it
infinite complications of successive and cumulative comedy.  This humour
seemed like the mental functionings of some mad, yet inevitably logical
jester; it grew from more to more, from extravagance to extravagance,
until reason itself tired and gave over.  Such explosive stories as 'How
I Edited an Agricultural Paper', 'A Genuine Mexican Plug', the
deciphering of the Horace Greeley correspondence, 'The Facts in the Case
of the Great Beef Contract, and many another, as Mr. Chesterton has
pointed out, have one tremendous essential of great art.  "The
excitement mounts up perpetually; they grow more and more comic, as a
tragedy should grow more and more tragic.  The rack, tragic or comic,
goes round until something breaks inside a man.  In tragedy it is his
heart, or perhaps his stiff neck.  In farce I do not quite know what it
is--perhaps his funny-bone is dislocated; perhaps his skull is slightly
cracked."  Mark Twain's mountainous humour, of this early type, never
contains the element of final surprise, of the sudden, the unexpected,
the _imprevu_.  We know what is coming, we surrender ourselves more and
more to the mood of the narrator, holding ourselves in reserve until
laughter, no longer to be restrained, bursts forth in a torrent of
undignified and explosive mirth.  Perhaps no better example can be given
than the description of the sad fate of the camel in 'A Tramp Abroad'.

In Syria, at the head-waters of the Jordan, this camel had got hold of
his overcoat; and after he finished contemplating it as an article of
apparel, he began to inspect it as an article of diet.  In his
inimitable manner, Mark describes the almost religious ecstasy of that
camel as it devoured his overcoat piecemeal--first one sleeve, then the
other, velvet collar, and finally the tails.  All went well until the
camel struck a batch of manuscript--containing some of Mark's humorous
letters for the home papers.  Their solid wisdom soon began to lie heavy
on the camel's stomach: the jokes shook him until he began to gag and
gasp, and finally he struck statements that not even a camel could
swallow with impunity.  He died in horrible agony; and Mark found on
examination that the camel had choked to death on one of the mildest
statements of fact that he had ever offered to a trusting public!  Here
Mark gradually works up to an anticipated climax by piling on effect
after effect.  Our risibility is excited almost as much by the
anticipation of the climax as by the recital.

Admirable instances of the ludicrous incident, of the nonsensical
recital, are found in the scene in 'Huckleberry Finn' dealing with the
performance of the King's Cameleopard or Royal Nonesuch, the address on
the occasion of the dinner in honour of the seventieth anniversary of
John Greenleaf Whittier (an historic failure), and the Turkish bath in
'The Innocents Abroad'.

In this prison filled with hot air, an attendant sat him down by a tank
of hot water and began to polish him all over with a coarse mitten.
Soon Mark noticed a disagreeable smell, and realized that the more he
was polished the worse he smelt.  He urged the attendant to bury him
without unnecessary delay, as it was obvious that he couldn't possibly
"keep" long in such warm weather.  But the phlegmatic attendant paid no
attention to Mark's commands and continued to scrub with renewed vigour.
Mark's consternation changed to alarm when he discovered that little
cylinders, like macaroni, began to roll from under the mitten.  They
were too white to be dirt.  He felt that he was gradually being pared
down to a convenient size.  Realizing that it would take hours for the
attendant to trim him down to the proper size, Mark indignantly ordered
him to bring a jackplane at once and get the matter over.  To all his
protests the attendant paid no attention at all.

In one of the earliest critical articles about Mark Twain, which
appeared in 'Appleton's Journal of Literature, Science and Art' for July
4,1874, Mr. G. T. Ferris gives an excellent appreciation of his humour.
"Of humour in its highest phase," he says, "perhaps Bret Harte may be
accounted the most puissant master among our contemporary American
writers.  Of wit, we see next to none.  Mark Twain, while lacking the
subtilty and pathos of the other, has more breadth, variety, and ease.
His sketches of life are arabesque in their strange combinations.  Bits
of bright, serious description, both of landscape and society, carry us
along till suddenly we stumble on some master-stroke of grotesque and
irresistible fun.  He understands the value of repose in art.  One tires
of a page where every sentence sparkles with points, and the author is
constantly attitudinizing for our amusement.  We like to be betrayed
into laughter as much in books as in real life.  It is the unconscious,
easy, careless gait of Mark Twain that makes his most potent charm.  He
seems always to be catering as much to his own enjoyment as to that of
the public.  He strolls along like a great rollicking schoolboy, bent on
having a good time, and determined that his readers shall have it with

Mark Twain is the most daring of humorists.  He takes his courage in his
hands for the wildest flights of fancy.  His humour is the caricature of
situations, rather than of individuals; and he is not afraid to risk his
characters in colossally ludicrous situations.  His art reveals itself
in choosing ludicrous situations which contain such a strong colouring
of naturalness that one's sense of reality is not outraged, but
titillated.  Hence it is that his humour, in its earlier form, does not
lend itself readily to quotation.  His early humour is not epigrammatic,
but cumulative and extensive.  Each scene is a unit and must appear as
such.  Andrew Lang not inaptly catches the note of Mark Twain's earlier
manner, when he speaks of his "almost Mephistophelean coolness, an
unwearying search after the comic sides of serious subjects, after the
mean possibilities of the sublime--these with a native sense of
incongruities and a glorious vein of exaggeration."

Mark Twain began his career as a wag; he rejoiced in being a fun-maker.
He discarded the weird spellings and crude punning of his American
forerunners; his object was not play upon words, but play upon ideas.
He offered his public, as Frank R. Stockton pointed out, the pure ore of
fun.  "If he puts his private mark on it, it will pass current; it does
not require the mint stamp of the schools of humour.  He is never
afraid of being laughed at."  Indeed, that is a large part of his
stock-in-trade; for throughout his entire career, nothing seemed to give
him so much pleasure--though it is one of the lowest forms of humour--as
making fun of himself.  In describing two monkeys that got into his room
at Delhi, he said that when he awoke, one of them was before the glass
brushing his hair, and the other one had his notebook, and was reading a
page of humorous notes and crying.  He didn't mind the one with the
hair-brush; but the conduct of the other one cut him to the heart.  He
never forgave that monkey.  His apostrophe, with tears, over the tomb of
Adam--only to be fully appreciated in connexion with his satiric
indignation over the drivel of the maudlin Mr. Grimes, who "never bored,
but he struck water"--is an admirable example of the mechanical fooling
of self-ridicule.

In his penetrating study, 'Mark Twain a Century Hence', published at the
time of Mr. Clemens' death, Professor H. T. Peck makes this observation:
"We must judge Mark Twain as a humorist by the very best of all he wrote
rather than by the more dubious productions, in which we fail to see at
every moment the winning qualities and the characteristic form of this
very interesting American.  As one would not judge of Tennyson by his
dramas, nor Thackeray by his journalistic chit-chat, nor Sir Walter
Scott by those romances which he wrote after his fecundity had been
exhausted, so we must not judge Mark Twain by the dozen or more
specimens which belong to the later period, when he was ill at ease and
growing old.  Let us rather go back with a sort of joy to what he wrote
when he did so with spontaneity, when his fun was as natural to him as
breathing, and when his humour was all American humour--not like that of
Juvenal or Hierocles--acrid, or devoid of anything individual--but
brimming over with exactly the same rich irresponsibility which belonged
to Steele and Lamb and Irving.  It may seem odd to group a son of the
New World and of the great West with those earlier classic figures who
have been mentioned here; yet upon analysis it will be discovered that
the humour of Mark Twain is at least first cousin to that which produced
Sir Roger de Coverley and Rip Van Winkle and The Stout Gentleman."

The details of the Gambetta-Fourtou duel, in which Mark played a
somewhat frightened second, have furnished untold amusement to
thousands.  And his description of the inadvertent _faux pas_ he
committed at his first public lecture is humorous for any age and
society.  The sign announcing the lecture read--"Doors open at 7.  The
Trouble will begin at 8."  For three days, Mark had been in a state of
frightful suspense.  Once his lecture had seemed humorous; but as the
day approached, it seemed to him to be but the dreariest of fooling,
without a vestige of real fun.  He was so panic-stricken that he
persuaded three of his friends, who were giants in stature, genial and
stormy voiced, to act as claquers and pound loudly at the faintest
suspicion of a joke.  He bribed Sawyer, a half-drunk man, who had a
laugh hung on a hair-trigger, to get off, naturally and easily during
the course of the evening, as many laughs as he could.  He begged a
popular citizen and his wife to take a conspicuous seat in a box, so
that everybody could see them.  He explained that when he needed help,
he would turn toward her and smile, as a signal, that he had given birth
to an obscure joke.  Then, if ever, was her time--not to investigate,
but to respond!

The fateful night found him in the depths of dejection.  But heartened
up by a crowded house, full even to the aisles, he bravely set in and
proceeded to capture the house.  His claquers hammered madly whenever
the very feeblest joke showed its head.  Sawyer supported their
herculean efforts with bursts of stentorian laughter.  As Mark
explained, not without a touch of pride, inferior jokes never fared so
royally before.  But his hour of humiliation was at hand.  On delivering
a bit of serious matter with impressive unction, to which the audience
listened with rapt interest, he glanced involuntarily, as if for her
approval, at his friend in the box.  He remembered the compact, but it
was too late--he smiled in spite of himself.  Forth came her ringing
laugh, peal after peal, which touched off the whole audience: the
explosion was immense!  Sawyer choked with laughter, and the bludgeons
performed like pile-drivers.  The little morsel of pathos was ruined;
but what matter, so long as the audience took it as an intentional joke,
and applauded it with unparalleled enthusiasm.  Mark wisely let it go at

Reading through 'The Innocents Abroad' after many years, I find that it
has not lost its power to provoke the most side-splitting laughter; and
the same may be said of 'A Tramp Abroad' and 'Following the Equator',
which, whilst not so boisterously comical, exhibit greater mastery and
restraint.  His own luck, as Mark Twain observed on one occasion, had
been curious all his literary life.  He never could tell a lie that
anybody would doubt, nor a truth that anybody would believe.  Could
there be a more accurate or more concise definition of the effect of his
writings, in especial of his travel notes?  Like his mother, he too
never used large words, but he had a natural gift for making small ones
do effective work.  How delightfully human is his comment on the
vagaries of woman's shopping!  Human nature he found very much the same
all over the world; and he felt that it was so much like his dear native
home to see a Venetian lady go into a store, buy ten cents' worth of
blue ribbon, and then have it sent home in a scow.  It was such little
touches of nature as this which, as he said, moved him to tears in those
far-off lands.  In speaking of Palestine, he says that its holy places
are not as deliriously beautiful as the books paint them.  Indeed, he
asserts that if one be calm and resolute, he can look on their beauty
and live!  He bequeathed his rheumatism to Baden-Baden.  It was little,
but it was all he had to give.  His only regret was that he could not
leave something more catching.

There is nothing better in all of 'The Innocents Abroad' than his
analysis of the theological hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.
Disclaiming all intention to be frivolous, irreverent or blasphemous, he
solemnly declared that his observations had taught him the real way the
Holy Personages were ranked in Rome.  "The Mother of God," otherwise the
Virgin Mary, comes first, followed in order by the Deity, Peter, and
some twelve or fifteen canonized Popes and Martyrs.  Last of all came
Jesus Christ the Saviour--but even then, always as an infant in arms!

Who can ever forget the Mark Twain who kissed the Hawaiian stranger for
his mother's sake, the while robbing him of his small change; who was so
struck by the fine points of his Honolulan horse that he hung his hat on
one of them; who rode glaciers as gaily as he rode Mexican plugs, and
found diverting programmes of the Roman Coliseum, in the dust and
rubbish of two thousand years ago!

Samuel L. Clemens achieved instantaneous and world-wide popularity at a
single bound by the creation of a fantastic and delightfully naive
character known as "Mark Twain."  At a somewhat later day, Bernard Shaw
achieved world-wide fame by the creation of a legendary and fantastic
wit known as "G. B. S."  To the composition of "Mark Twain" went all the
wild humour of ignorance--the boisterously comic admixture of the
sanguinary and the stoical.  The humour of 'The Jumping Frog' and 'The
Innocents Abroad' is the savage and naive humour of the mining camp, not
the sophisticated humour of civilization.  It is significant that Mme.
Blanc, a polished and refined intelligence, found the _nil admirari_
attitude of "Mark Twain" no more enlightening nor suggestive than the
stoicism of the North American Indian.  This mirthful and mock-innocent
naivete, so alien to the delicate and subtle spirit of the French, found
instant response in the heart of the Anglo-Saxon and Germanic peoples.
The English and the Germans, no less than the Americans, rejoiced in
this gay fellow with his combination of appealing ignorance and but
half-concealed shrewdness.  They laughed at this unsophisticated _naif_,
gazing in wide-eyed wonderment at all he saw; and they delighted in the
consciousness that, behind this thin mask, lay an acute and searching
intelligence revelling in the humorous havoc wrought by his keen
perception of the contrasts and incongruities of life.  The note of this
early humour is perfectly caught in the incident of the Egyptian mummy.
Deliberately assumed ignorance of the grossest sort, by Mark Twain and
his companions, had the most devastating effect upon the foreign guide
--one of that countless tribe to all of whom Mark applied the generic name
of Ferguson.  After driving Ferguson nearly mad with pretended
ignorance, they finally asked him if the mummy was dead.  When Ferguson
glibly replied that he had been dead three thousand years, he was
dumbfounded at the fury of the "doctor" for being imposed upon with vile
second-hand carcases.  The poor Frenchman was warned that if he didn't
bring out a nice, fresh corpse at once, they would brain him!  No wonder
that, later, when he was asked for a description of the party, Ferguson
laconically remarked that they were lunatics!

In speaking of contemporary society, Ibsen once remarked: "We have made
a fiasco both in the heroic and the lover roles.  The only parts in
which we have shown a little talent, are the naively comic; but with our
more highly developed self-consciousness we shall no longer be fitted
even for that."  With time and "our more highly developed self
--consciousness" have largely passed the novelty and the charm of this
early naively comic humour of Mark Twain.  But it is as valid still, as
it was in 1867, to record honestly the impressions directly communicated
to one by the novelties, peculiarities, individual standards and ideals
of other peoples and races.  Mark Twain spoke his mind with utter
disregard for other people's opinions, the dicta of criticism or the
authoritative judgment of the schools.  'The Innocents Abroad' is
eminently readable, not alone for its humour, its clever journalism, its
remarkably accurate and detailed information, and its fine descriptions.
The rare quality, which made it "sell right along--like the Bible," is
that it is the vital record of a keen and searching intelligence.  Mark
Twain found so many of the "masterpieces of the world" utterly
unimpressive and meaningless to him, that he actually began to distrust
the validity of his own impressions.  Every time he gloried to think
that for once he had discovered an ancient painting that was beautiful
and worthy of all praise, the pleasure it gave him was an infallible
proof that it was not a beautiful picture, nor in any sense worthy of
commendation!  He pours out the torrents of his ridicule, not
indiscriminately upon the works of the old masters themselves--though he
regarded Nature as the grandest of all the old masters--but upon those
half-baked sycophants who bend the knee to an art they do not
understand, an art of which they feign comprehension by mouthings full
of cheap and meaningless tags.  As potent and effective as ever, in its
fine comic irony, is that passage in which he expresses his "envy" of
those people who pay lavish lip-service to scenes and works of art which
their expressionless language shows they neither realize nor understand.
He reserves his most biting condemnation for those second-hand critics
who accept other people's opinions for their criteria, and rave over
"beauty," "soul," "character," "expression" and "tone" in wretched,
dingy, moth-eaten pictures.  He hated with the heartiest detestation
such people--whose sole ambition seemed to be to make a fine show of
knowledge of art by means of an easily acquired vocabulary of
inexpressive technical terms of art criticism.

There is much, I fear, of misguided honesty in Mark Twain's records of
foreign travel.  To the things which he personally reverenced, he was
always reverential; and his expression of likes and dislikes, of
prejudices and predilections, was honest and fearless.  Grant as we may
the humorist's right to exaggerate and even to distort, for the purposes
of his fun-making, it does not therefore follow that his judgments,
however forthright or sincere, are valid, reputable criticisms.  One's
enjoyment of his fresh and hilarious humour, his persistent fun-making
is no whit impaired by the recognition that he was lacking in the
faculty of historic imagination and in the finer artistic sense.  It is,
in a measure, because of his lack of culture and, more broadly, lack of
real knowledge, that he was enabled to evoke the laughter of the
multitude.  "The Mississippi pilot, homely, naive, arrogantly candid,"
says Mr. S. P. Sherman, "refuses to sink his identity in the object
contemplated--that, as Corporal Nym would have said, is the humour of
it.  He is the kind of travelling companion that makes you wonder why
you went abroad.  He turns the Old World into a laughing stock by
shearing it of its storied humanity--simply because there is nothing in
him to respond to the glory that was Greece, to the grandeur that was
Rome--simpler because nothing is holier to him than a joke.  He does not
throw the comic light upon counterfeit enthusiasm; he laughs at art,
history, and antiquity from the point of view of one who is ignorant of
them and mightily well satisfied with his ignorance."  This picture
reminds us of the foreign critics of 'The Innocents Abroad' and 'A
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court': it is too partial and
restricted.  The whole point of Mark Twain's humour, as exhibited in
these travel notes, is missed in the statement that "he does not throw
the comic light upon counterfeit enthusiasm"--for this might almost be
taken as the "philosophy" of his books of foreign travel.  And yet Mr.
Sherman's dictum, in its entirety, quite clearly provokes the question
whether, as he intimates, the "overwhelming majority" of his
fellow-citizens also were not mightily pleased with Mark Twain's point of
view, and whether they did not enjoy themselves hugely in laughing, not
at him, but with him.

In commenting on the reasons for the broadening and deepening of his
humour with the passage of time, Mr. Clemens once remarked to me: "I
succeeded in the long run, where Shillaber, Doesticks, and Billings
failed, because they never had an ideal higher than that of merely being
funny.  The first great lesson of my life was the discovery that I had
to live down my past.  When I first began to lecture, and in my earlier
writings, my sole idea was to make comic capital out of everything I saw
and heard.  My object was not to tell the truth, but to make people
laugh.  I treated my readers as unfairly as I treated everybody else
--eager to betray them at the end with some monstrous absurdity or some
extravagant anti-climax.  One night, after a lecture in the early days,
Tom Fitch, the 'silver-tongued orator of Nevada,' said to me: 'Clemens,
your lecture was magnificent.  It was eloquent, moving, sincere.  Never
in my entire life have I listened to such a magnificent piece of
descriptive narration.  But you committed one unpardonable sin--the
unpardonable sin.  It is a sin you must never commit again.  You closed
a most eloquent description, by which you had keyed your audience up to
a pitch of the intensest interest, with a piece of atrocious anti-climax
which nullified all the really fine effect you had produced.  My dear
Clemens, whatever you do, never sell your audience.'  And that,"
continued Mr. Clemens, "was my first really profitable lesson."

It was the toning down of his youthful extravagance--Fitch's precept not
to "sell" his audience, Mrs. Fairbanks' warning not to try their
endurance of the irreverent too far--that had a markedly salutary effect
upon Mark Twain's humorous writings.  There can be no doubt that the
deep and lifelong friendship of Mr. Howells, expressing itself as
occasion demanded in the friendliest criticism, had a subduing influence
upon Mark Twain's tendency, as a humorist, to extravagance and headlong
exaggeration.  In time he left the field of carpet-bag observation--the
humorous depicting of things seen from the rear of an observation car,
so to speak--and turned to fiction.  Now at last the long pent-up flood
of observation upon human character and human characteristics found full
vent.  'Tom Sawyer' and 'Huckleberry Finn' are the romances of eternal
youth, the same yesterday, to-day, and forever.  They are freighted,
however, with a wealth of pungent and humorous characterization that
have made of them contemporary classics.  From ethical sophistication
and moral truantry Mark Twain evolves an inexhaustible supply of humour.
The revolt of mischievous and Bohemian boyhood against the stern
limitations of formal Puritanism is, in a sense, a principle that he
carried with him to the grave.  "There are no more vital passages in his
fiction," says Mr. Howells, "than those which embody character as it is
affected for good as well as for evil by the severity of the local
Sunday-schooling and church-going."  Out of the pangs of conscience, the
ingenious sedatives of sophistry, the numerous variations of the lie, he
won a wholesome humour that left you thinking, by inversion, upon the
moral involved.  Knowledge of human nature finds expression in forms
made permanently effective through the arresting permeation of humour.
The incident of Tom Sawyer and the whitewashing of the fence is the sort
of thing over which boy and man alike can chuckle with satisfaction--for
Tom Sawyer had discovered a great law of human action without knowing
it, namely, that in order to make a man or boy covet a thing, it is only
necessary to make the thing difficult to attain.  Huck's reasoning about
chicken stealing--the exquisitely comic shifting of ground from morality
to expediency--is a striking example of the best type of Mark Twain's
humour.  Following his father's example, Huck would occasionally "lift"
a chicken that wasn't roosting comfortable; for had his father not told
him that even if he didn't want the chicken himself, he could always
find somebody that did want it, and a good deed ain't never forgot?
Huck confesses that he had never seen his Pap when he didn't want the
chicken himself!

The germ of Mark Twain's humour, wherever it is found, from 'The
Innocents Abroad' to 'The Connecticut Yankee' and 'Captain Stormfield's
Visit to Heaven', is found in the mental reactions resulting from
stupendous and glaring contrasts.  First it is the Wild Western
humorist, primitive and untamed, running amuck through the petrified
formulas and encrusted traditions of Europe.  Then comes the fantastic
juxtaposition of the shrewd Connecticut Yankee, with his comic
irreverence and raucous sense of humour, his bourgeois limitations and
provincial prejudices, to the Court of King Arthur, with its
mediaevalism, its primitive rudeness and social narrowness.  How many
have delighted in the Yankee's inimitable description of his feelings
toward that classic damsel of the sixth century?  At first he got along
easily with the girl; but after a while he began to feel for her a sort
of mysterious and shuddery reverence.  Whenever she began to unwind one
of those long sentences of hers, and got it well under way, he could
never suppress the feeling that he was standing in the awful presence of
the Mother of the German Language!

Mark Twain ransacked the whole world of his own day, all countries,
savage and civilized, for the display of effective and ludicrous
contrast; and he opened up an illimitable field for humanizing satire,
as Mr. Howells has said, in his juxtaposition of sociologic types
thirteen centuries apart.  Not even heaven was safe from the
comprehensive survey of his satire; and 'Captain Stormfield's Visit to
Heaven' is a remarkable document,--a forthright lay sermon,--the
conventional idea of heaven, the theologic conception of eternity, as
heedlessly taught from the pulpit, thrown into comic, yet profoundly
significant, relief against the background of the common-sense of a
deeply human, thoroughly modern intelligence.

Humour, as Thackeray has defined it, is a combination of wit and love.
Certain it is that, in the case of Mark Twain, wit was a later
development of his humour; the love was there all the time.  Mark Twain
has not been recognized as a wit; for he was primarily a humorist, and
only secondarily a wit.  But the passion for brief and pungent
formulation of an idea grew upon him; and Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar
is a mine of homely and memorable aphorism, epigram, injunction.

According to Mark Twain's classification, the comic story is English,
the witty story French, the humorous story American.  While the other
two depend upon matter, the humorous story depends for its effect upon
the manner of telling.  The witty story and the comic story must be
concise and end with a "point"; but the humorous story may be as
leisurely as you please and have no particular destination.  Mark Twain
always maintained that, while anyone could tell effectively a comic or a
witty story, it required a person skilled in an art of a rare and
distinctive character to tell a humorous story successfully.  Mark Twain
was himself the supreme exemplar of the art of telling a humorous story.
Take this little passage, for example, which convulsed one of his London
audiences.  He was speaking of a high mountain that he had come across
in his travels.  "It is so cold that people who have been there find it
impossible to speak the truth; I know that's a fact (here a pause, a
blank stare, a shake of the head, a little stroll across the platform, a
sigh, a puff, a smothered groan), because--I've--(another pause)--been
--(a longer pause)--there myself."  Who could equal Mark Twain as a
humorous narrator, in his recital of the alarums and excursions,
criminations and recriminations, over the story of somebody else's dog
he sold to General Miles for three dollars?  He delighted numerous
audiences with his story of inveighing Mrs. Grover Cleveland at a White
House reception into writing blindly on the back of a card "He didn't."
When she turned it over she discovered that it bore on the other side,
in Mrs. Clemens' handwriting, the startling words: "Don't wear your
arctics in the White House."  I shall never forget his recital of the
story of how his enthusiasm oozed away at a meeting in behalf of foreign
missions.  So moving was the fervid eloquence of the exhorter that,
after fifteen minutes, if Mark Twain had had a blank cheque with him, he
would gladly have turned it over, signed, to the minister, to fill out
for any amount.  But it was a very warm evening, the eloquence of the
minister was inexhaustible--and Mark Twain's enthusiasm for foreign
missions slowly oozed away--one hundred dollars, fifty dollars, and even
lower still--so that when the plate was actually passed around, Mark put
in ten cents and took out a quarter!

I was a witness in London, and at Oxford, in 1907, of the vast,
spontaneous, national reception which Mark Twain received from the
English people.  One incident of that memorable visit is a perfect
example of that masterly power over an audience, that deep humanity,
with which Mark Twain was endowed.  At the banquet presided over by the
Lord Mayor of Liverpool, which was the signal of Mark Twain's farewell
to the English people, his peroration was as follows:

"Many and many a year ago I read an anecdote in Dana's Two Years Before
the Mast.  A frivolous little self-important captain of a coasting-sloop
in the dried-apple and kitchen-furniture trade was always hailing every
vessel that came in sight, just to hear himself talk and air his small
grandeurs.  One day a majestic Indiaman came ploughing by, with course
on course of canvas towering into the sky, her decks and yards swarming
with sailors, with macaws and monkeys and all manner of strange and
romantic creatures populating her rigging, and thereto her freightage of
precious spices lading the breeze with gracious and mysterious odours of
the Orient.  Of course, the little coaster-captain hopped into the
shrouds and squeaked a hail: 'Ship ahoy!  What ship is that, and whence
and whither?' In a deep and thunderous bass came the answer back,
through a speaking trumpet: The Begum of Bengal, a hundred and
twenty-three days out from Canton homeward bound!  What ship is that?'
The little captain's vanity was all crushed out of him, and most humbly
he squeaked back: 'Only the Mary Ann--fourteen hours from Boston, bound
for Kittery Point with--with nothing to speak of!'  That eloquent word
'only' expressed the deeps of his stricken humbleness.

"And what is my case?  During perhaps one hour in the twenty-four
--not more than that--I stop and reflect.  Then I am humble, then I am
properly meek, and for that little time I am 'only the Mary Ann'
--fourteen hours out, and cargoed with vegetables and tin-ware; but all
the other twenty-three my self-satisfaction rides high, and I am the
stately Indiaman, ploughing the great seas under a cloud of sail, and
laden with a rich freightage of the kindest words that were ever spoken
to a wandering alien, I think; my twenty-six crowded and fortunate days
multiplied by five; and I am the Begum of Bengal, a hundred and
twenty-three days out from Canton--homeward bound!"

Says "Charles Vale," in describing the scene "The audience sat
spellbound in almost painful silence, till it could restrain itself no
longer; and when in rich, resonant, uplifted voice Mark Twain sang out
the words: 'I am the Begum of Bengal, a hundred and twenty-three days
out from Canton,' there burst forth a great cheer from one end of the
room to the other.  It seemed an inopportune cheer, and for a moment it
upset the orator: yet it was felicitous in opportuneness.  Slowly, after
a long pause, came the last two words--like that curious, detached and
high note in which a great piece of music suddenly ends--'Homeward
bound.'  Again there was a cheer: but this time it was lower; it was
subdued; it was the fitting echo to the beautiful words--with their
double significance--the parting from a hospitable land, the return to
the native land.  .  .  .  Only a great litterateur could have conceived
such a passage: only a great orator could have so delivered it."

Mark Twain was the greatest master of the anecdote this generation has
known.  He claimed the humorous story as an American invention, and one
that has remained at home.  His public speeches were little mosaics in
the finesse of their art; and the intricacies of inflection,
insinuation, jovial innuendo which Mark Twain threw into his gestures,
his implicative pauses, his suggestive shrugs and deprecative nods--all
these are hopelessly volatilized and disappear entirely from the printed
copy of his speeches.  He gave the most minute and elaborate study to
the preparation of his speeches--polishing them dexterously and
rehearsing every word, every gesture, with infinite care.  Yet his
readiness and fertility of resource in taking advantage, and making
telling use, of things in the speeches of those immediately preceding
him, were striking evidences of the rapidity of his thought-processes.
In Boston, when asked what he thought about the existence of a heaven or
a hell, he looked grave for a moment, and then replied: "I don't want to
express an opinion.  It's policy for me to keep silent.  You see, I have
friends in both places."  His speech introducing General Hawley of
Connecticut to a Republican meeting at Elmira, New York, is an admirable
example of his laconic art: "General Hawley is a member of my church at
Hartford, and the author of 'Beautiful Snow.'  Maybe he will deny that.
But I am only here to give him a character from his last place.  As a
pure citizen, I respect him; as a personal friend of years, I have the
warmest regard for him; as a neighbour, whose vegetable garden adjoins
mine, why--why, I watch him.  As the author of 'Beautiful Snow,' he has
added a new pang to winter.  He is a square, true man in honest
politics, and I must say he occupies a mighty lonesome position.
So broad, so bountiful is his character that he never turned a tramp
empty-handed from his door, but always gave him a letter of introduction
to me.  Pure, honest, incorruptible, that is Joe Hawley.  Such a man in
politics is like a bottle of perfumery in a glue factory--it may modify
the stench, but it doesn't destroy it.  I haven't said any more of him
than I would say of myself.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is General

Mr. Chesterton maintains that Mark Twain was a wit rather than a
humorist--perhaps something more than a humorist.  "Wit," he explains,
"requires an intellectual athleticism, because it is akin to logic.  A
wit must have something of the same running, working, and staying power
as a mathematician or a metaphysician.  Moreover, wit is a fighting
thing and a working thing.  A man may enjoy humour all by himself; he
may see a joke when no one else sees it; he may see the point and avoid
it.  But wit is a sword; it is meant to make people feel the point as
well as see it.  All honest people saw the point of Mark Twain's wit.
Not a few dishonest people felt it."  The epigram, "Be virtuous, and you
will be eccentric," has become a catchword; and everyone has heard Mark
Twain's reply to the reporter asking for advice as to what to cable his
paper, which had printed the statement that Mark Twain was dead "Say
that the statement is greatly exaggerated."  He has admirably taken off
humanity's enduring self-conceit in the statement that there isn't a
Parallel of Latitude but thinks it would have been the Equator if it had
had its rights.  There is something peculiarly American in his warning
to young girls not to marry--that is, not to excess!  His remarks on
compliments have a delightful and naive freshness.  He points out how
embarrassing compliments always are.  It is so difficult to take them
naturally.  You never know what to say.  He had received many
compliments in his lifetime, and they had always embarrassed him--he
always felt that they hadn't said enough!

The incident of Mark Twain's first meeting with Whistler is quaintly
illustrative of one phase of his broader humour.  Mark Twain was taken
by a friend to Whistler's studio, just as he was putting the finishing
touches to one of his fantastic studies.  Confident of the usual
commendation, Whistler inquired his guest's opinion of the picture.
Mark Twain assumed the air of a connoisseur, and approaching the picture
remarked that it did very well, but "he didn't care much for that
cloud--"; and suiting the action to the word, appeared to be on the
point of rubbing the cloud with his gloved finger.  In genuine horror,
Whistler exclaimed: "Don't touch it, the paint's wet!"  "Oh, that's all
right," replied Mark with his characteristic drawl: "these aren't my
best gloves, anyhow!"  Whereat Whistler recognized a congenial spirit,
and their first hearty laugh together was the beginning of a friendly
and congenial relationship.

I recall an incident in connection with the writing of his
Autobiography.  On more than one occasion, he declared that the
Autobiography was going to be something awful--as caustic, fiendish, and
devilish as he could make it.  Actually, he was in the habit of jotting
on the margin of the page, opposite to some startling characterization
or diabolic joke: "Not to be published until ten (or twenty, or thirty)
years after my death."  One day I heard him vent his pent-up rage, in
bitter and caustic words, upon a certain strenuous, limelight American
politician.  I could not resist the temptation to ask him if this, too,
were going into the Autobiography.  "Oh yes," he replied, decisively.
"Everything goes in.  I make no exceptions.  But," he added
reflectively, with the suspicion of a twinkle in his eye, "I shall make
a note beside this passage: 'Not to be published until one hundred and
fifty years after my death'!"

Mark Twain had numerous "doubles" scattered about the world.  The number
continually increased; once a month on an average, he would receive a
letter from a new "double," enclosing a photograph in proof of the
resemblance.  Mark once wrote to one of these doubles as follows:


Many thanks for your letter, with enclosed photograph.  Your resemblance
to me is remarkable.  In fact, to be perfectly honest, you look more
like me than I look like myself.  I was so much impressed by the
resemblance that I have had your picture framed, and am now using it
regularly, in place of a mirror, to shave by.

                         Yours gratefully,
                                        S. L. CLEMENS.

Although not generally recognized, it is undoubtedly true that Mark
Twain was a wit as well as a humorist.  He was the author of many
epigrams and curt aphorisms which have become stock phrases in
conversation, quoted in all classes of society wherever the English
language is spoken.  His phrasing is unpretentious, even homely, wearing
none of the polished brilliancy of La Rochefoucauld or Bernard Shaw; but
Mark Twain's sayings "stick" because they are rooted in shrewdness and
hard commonsense.

Mark Twain's warning to the two burglars who stole his silverware from
"Stormfield" and were afterwards caught and sent to the penitentiary, is
very amusing, though not highly complimentary to American political

"Now you two young men have been up to my house, stealing my tinware,
and got pulled in by these Yankees up here.  You had much better have
stayed in New York, where you have the pull.  Don't you see where you're
drifting.  They'll send you from here down to Bridgeport jail, and the
next thing you know you'll be in the United States Senate.  There's no
other future left open to you."

The sign he posted after the visitation of these same burglars was a
prominent ornament of the billiard room at "Stormfield ":


                           To the next Burglar

          There is nothing but plated-ware in this house, now
          and henceforth.  You will find it in that brass thing
          in the dining-room over in the corner by the basket of
          kittens.  If you want the basket, put the kittens in
          the brass thing.

          Do not make a noise, it disturbs the family.

          You will find rubbers in the front hall, by that thing
          which has the umbrellas in it, chiffonnier, I think
          they call it, or pergola, or something like that.

          Please close the door when you go away!

                                        Very truly yours,

                                                  S. L. CLEMENS.

Now these are examples of Mark Twain's humour, American humour, such as
we are accustomed to expect from Mark Twain--humour not unmixed with a
strong spice of wit.  But Mark Twain was capable of wit, pure and
unadulterated, curt and concise.  I once saw him write in a young girl's
birthday book an aphorism which he said was one of his favourites "Truth
is our most valuable possession.  Let us economize it."  The advice he
once gave me as to the proper frame of mind for undergoing a surgical
operation has always remained in my memory: "Console yourself with the
reflection that you are giving the doctor pleasure, and that he is
getting paid for it."  Peculiarly memorable is his forthright dictum
that the statue which advertises its modesty with a fig-leaf brings its
modesty under suspicion.  His business motto--unfortunately, a motto
that he never followed--has often been attributed, because of its canny
shrewdness, to Mr. Andrew Carnegie.  The idea was to put all your eggs
in one basket--and then--watch that basket!  His anti-Puritanical
convictions find concrete expression in his assertion that few things
are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.  Truly
classic, in usage if not in form, is his happy saying that faith is
believing what you know ain't so.  His definition of a classic as a book
which people praise but don't read, is as frequently heard as are
Biblical and Shakespearian tags.

Mr. Clemens once told me that he had composed between two and three
hundred maxims during his life.  Many of them, especially those from the
old and new calendars of Pudd'nhead Wilson, bear the individual and
peculiar stamp of Mark Twain's phraseology and outlook upon life
--quaint, genial, and shrewd.  In pursuance of his deep-rooted belief in
the omnipotent power of training, he remarked that the peach was once a
bitter almond, the cauliflower nothing but cabbage with a college
education.  He himself was not guiltless of that irreverence which he
defined as disrespect for another man's god.  Women took an almost
unholy delight in describing some of their undesirable acquaintances, in
Mark Twain's phrase, as neither quite refined, nor quite unrefined, but
just the kind of person that keeps a parrot!

At times, Mark Twain realized the sanctifying power of illusions in a
world of harsh realities; for he asserted that when illusions are gone
you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.  A depressing sense of
world-weariness sometimes overbore the native joyousness of his
temperament; and he expressed his sense of deep gratitude to Adam, the
first great benefactor of the race--because he had brought death into
the world.  A funeral always gave Mark Twain a sense of spiritual
uplift, a sense of thankfulness because the dead friend had been set
free.  He thought it was far harder to live than to die.

In one of his early sketches, there was admirable wit in the suggestion
to the organist for a hymn appropriate to a sermon on the Prodigal Son:

                   "Oh!  we'll all get blind drunk
                    When Johnny comes marching home!"

And in The Innocents Abroad there is the same sort of brilliant wit in
the mad logic of his innocent query, on learning that St. Philip Neri's
heart was so inflamed with divine love that it burst his ribs: "I was
curious to know what Philip had for dinner."  Mark Twain was capable of
epigrams worthy, in their dark levity, of Swift himself.  In speaking of
Pudd'nhead Wilson, Anna E. Keeling has said "Humour there is in almost
every scene and every page; but it is such humour as sheds a wild gleam
on the greatest Shakespearian tragedies--on the deep melancholy of
Hamlet, the heartbreak of Lear."  The greatest ironic achievements of
Mark Twain, in brief compass, are the two stories: 'The Man that
Corrupted Hadleyburg' and 'Was it Heaven or Hell'?  They reveal the
power and subtlety of his art as an ironic humorist--or shall we rather
say, ironic wit?  For they range all the way from the most mordant to
the most pathetic irony--from Mephistophelean laughter to warm, human

                         "_Sunt lachrymae rerum._"

"Make a reputation first by your more solid achievements," counselled
Oliver Wendell Holmes.  "You can't expect to do anything great with
Macbeth, if you first come on flourishing Paul Pry's umbrella."  Mark
Twain has had to pay in full the penalty of comic greatness.  The world
is loth to accept a popular character at any rating other than its own.
Whosoever sets himself the task of amusing the world must realize the
almost insuperable difficulty of inducing the world to regard him as a
serious thinker.  Says Moliere--

              "_C'est une etrange entreprise que celle
               de faire rire les honnetes gens._"

The strangeness of the undertaking is no less pronounced than the rigour
of its obligations.  Mark Twain began his career as a professional
humorist and fun-maker; he frankly donned the motley, the cap and bells.
The man-in-the-street is not easily persuaded that the basis of the
comic is, not uncommon nonsense, but glorified common-sense.  The French
have a fine-flavoured distinction in _ce qui remue_ from _ce qui emeut_;
and if _remuage_ is the defining characteristic of 'A Tramp Abroad',
'Roughing It', and 'The Innocents Abroad', there is much of deep
seriousness and genuine emotion in 'Life on the Mississippi', 'Tom
Sawyer', 'Huckleberry Finn', and 'Pudd'nhead Wilson'.  In the course of
his lifetime, Mark Twain evolved from a fun-maker into a masterly
humorist, from a sensational journalist into a literary artist.  In
explanation of this, let us recall the steps in that evolution.  In his
youth, this boy had no schooling worth speaking of; he lived in an
environment that promised only stagnation and decay.  As the young boy,
barefooted and dirty, watched the steamboats pass and repass upon the
surface of that great inland deep, the Mississippi, he conceived the
ambition and the ideal of learning to know and to master that mysterious
water.  His dream, in time, was realized; he not only became a pilot,
but--which is infinitely more significant--he changed from a callow,
indolent, unobservant lad, with undeveloped faculties, to a man, a
master of the river, with a knowledge which, in its accuracy and
minuteness, was, for its purpose, all-sufficient and complete.

I have always felt that, had it not been for this training in the great
university of the Mississippi, Mark Twain might never have acquired that
trained faculty for minute detail and descriptive elaboration without
which his works, full of flaws as they are, might never have revealed
the very real art which they betray.  For the art of Mark Twain is the
art of taking infinite pains--the art of exactitude, precision and
detail.  Humour per se is as ephemeral as the laugh--dying in the very
moment of its birth.  Art alone can give it enduring vitality.  Mark
Twain's native temperament, rich with humour and racy of the soil, drank
in the wonder of the river and unfolded through communication with all
its rude human devotees; the quick mind, the eager susceptibility,
developed and matured through rigorous education in particularity and
detail; and before his spirit the very beauties of Nature herself
disappeared in face of a consuming sense of the work of the world that
must be done.

Mark Twain never wholly escaped the penalty that his reputation as a
humorist compelled him to pay.  He became more than popular novelist,
more than a jovial entertainer: he became a public institution, as
unmistakable and as national as the Library of Congress or the
Democratic Party.  Even in the latest years of his life, though long
since dissociated in fact from the category of Artemus Ward, John
Phoenix, Josh Billings, and Petroleum V. Nasby, Mark Twain could never
be sure that his most solemn utterance might not be drowned in roars of
thoughtless laughter.

"It has been a very serious and a very difficult matter," Mr. Clemens
once said to me, "to doff the mask of humour with which the public is
accustomed, in thought, to see me adorned.  It is the incorrigible
practice of the public, in this or in any country, to see only humour in
the humorist, however serious his vein.  Not long ago I wrote a poem,
which I never dreamed of giving to the public, on account of its
seriousness; but on being invited to address the women students of a
certain great university, I was persuaded by a near friend to read this
poem.  At the close of my lecture I said 'Now, ladies, I am going to
read you a poem of mine'--which was greeted with bursts of uproarious
laughter.  'But this is a truly serious poem,' I asseverated--only to be
greeted with renewed and, this time, more uproarious laughter.  Nettled
by this misunderstanding, I put the poem in my pocket, saying, 'Well,
young ladies, since you do not believe me to be serious, I shall not
read the poem'--at which the audience almost went into convulsions of

Humour is a function of nationality.  The same joke, as related by an
American, a Scotchman, an Irishman, a Frenchman, carries with it a
distinctive racial flavour and individuality of approach.  Indeed, it is
open to question whether most humour is not essentially local in its
nature, requiring some specialized knowledge of some particular
locality.  It would be quite impossible for an Italian on his native
heath to understand that great political satirist, "Mr. Dooley," on the
Negro Problem, for example.  After reading George Ade's Fables in Slang,
Mr. Andrew Lang was driven to the desperate conclusion that humour
varies with the parallels of latitude, a joke in Chicago being a riddle
in London.

If one would lay his finger upon the secret of Mark Twain's world-wide
popularity as a humorist, he would find that secret, primarily, in the
universality and humanity of his humour.  Mark Twain is a master in the
art of broad contrast; incongruity lurks on the surface of his humour;
and there is about it a staggering and cyclopean surprise.  But these
are mere surface qualities, more or less common, though at lower power,
to all forms of humour.  Nor is his international vogue as a humorist to
be attributed to any tricks of style, to any breadth of knowledge, or
even to any depth of intellectuality.  His hold upon the world is due to
qualities, not of the head, but of the heart.  I once heard Mr. Clemens
say that humour is the key to the hearts of men, for it springs from the
heart; and worthy of record is his dictum that there is far more of
feeling than of thought in genuine humour.

Mark Twain succeeded in "tickling the midriff of the English-speaking
races" with a single story; and in time he showed himself to be, not
only a man of letters, but also a man of action.  His humour has been
defined as the sunny break of his serious purpose.  Horace Walpole has
said that the world is a comedy to the man of thought, a tragedy to the
man of feeling.  To the great humorist--to Mark Twain--the world was a
tragi-comedy.  Like Smile Faguet, he seemed at times to feel that grief
is the most real and important thing in the world--because it separates
us from happiness.  He was an exemplar of the highest, truest, sincerest
humour, perfectly fulfilling George Meredith's definition: "If you laugh
all round him, tumble him, roll him about, deal him a smack, and drop a
tear on him, own his likeness to you and yours to your neighbour, spare
him as little as you shun, pity him as much as you expose, it is the
spirit of Humour that is moving you."  Mark Twain's fun was
light-hearted and insouciant, his pathos genuine and profound.  "He is,
above all," said that oldest of English journals, 'The Spectator', "the
fearless upholder of all that is clean, noble, straightforward, innocent,
and manly.  .  .  .  If he is a jester, he jests with the mirth of the
happiest of the Puritans; he has read much of English knighthood, and
translated the best of it into his living pages; and he has assuredly
already won a high degree in letters in having added more than any writer
since Dickens to the gaiety of the Empire of the English language."

Mark Twain's humour flowed warm from the heart.  He enjoyed to the
utmost those two inalienable blessings: "laughter and the love of
friends."  He woke the laughter of an epoch and numbered a world for his
friends.  "He is the true consolidator of nations," said Mr. Augustine
Birrell.  "His delightful humour is of the kind which dissipates and
destroys national prejudices.  His truth and his honour, his love of
truth and his love of honour, overflow all boundaries.  He has made the
world better by his presence."

                       IV.  THE WORLD-FAMED GENIUS

          "Art transmitting the simplest feelings of common life,
          but such, always, as are accessible to all men in the
          whole world the art of common life--the art of a people
          --universal art."
                                   TOLSTOY: What is Art?

Some years ago a group of Mark Twain's friends, in a spirit of fun,
addressed a letter to:

                               MARK TWAIN
                            GOD KNOWS WHERE.

Though taking a somewhat circuitous route, the letter went unerringly to
its goal; and it was not long before the senders of that letter received
the laconic, but triumphant reply: "He did."  They now turned the tables
on the jubilant author, who equally as quickly received a letter

                               MARK TWAIN
                         THE DEVIL KNOWS WHERE.

It seemed that "he" did, too!

In his lifetime Mark Twain won a fame that was literally world-wide
--a fame, indeed, which seemed to extend to realms peopled by noted
theological characters.  From very humble beginnings--he used
facetiously to speak of coming up from the "very dregs of society"!
--Mark Twain achieved international eminence and repute.  This
accomplishment was due to the power of brain and personality alone.  In
this sense, his career is unprecedented and unparalleled in the history
of American literature.

It is a mark of the democratic independence of America that she has
betrayed a singular indifference to the appraisal of her literature at
the hands of foreign criticism.  Upon her writers who have exhibited
derivative genius--Irving, Hawthorne, Emerson, Longfellow--American
criticism has lavished the most extravagant eulogiums.  The three
geniuses who have made permanent contributions to world-literature, who
have either embodied in the completest degree the spirit of American
democracy, or who have had the widest following of imitators and
admirers in foreign countries, still await their final and just deserts
at the hands of critical opinion in their own land.  The genius of Edgar
Allan Poe gave rise to schools of literature on the continent of Europe;
yet in America his name must remain for years debarred from inclusion in
a so-called Hall of Fame!  Walt Whitman and Mark Twain, the two great
interpreters and embodiments of America, represent the supreme
contribution of democracy to universal literature.  In so far as it is
legitimate for anyone to be denominated a "self-made man" in literature,
these men are justly entitled to such characterization.  They owe
nothing to European literature--their genius is supremely original,
native, democratic.  The case of Mark Twain, which is our present
concern, is a literary phenomenon which imposes upon criticism,
peculiarly upon American criticism, the distinct obligation of tracing
the steps in his unhalting climb to an eminence that was international
in its character, and of defining those signal qualities, traits,
characteristics--individual, literary, social, racial, national--which
compassed his world-wide fame.  For if it be true that the judgment of
foreign nations is virtually the judgment of posterity, then is Mark
Twain already a classic.

Upon the continent of Europe, Mark Twain first received notable
recognition in France at the hands of that brilliant woman, Mme. Blanc
(Th. Bentzon), who devoted so much of her energies to the popularization
of American literature in Europe.  That one of her series of essays upon
the American humorists which dealt with Mark Twain appeared in the
'Revue des Deux Mondes' in 1872; in it appeared her admirable
translation of 'The Jumping Frog'.  There is no cause for surprise that
a scholarly Frenchwoman, reared on classic models and confined by rigid
canons of art, should stand aghast at this boisterous, barbaric,
irreverent jester from the wilds of America.  When it is remembered that
Mark Twain began his career as one of the sage-brush writers and gave
free play to his passion for horseplay, his desire to "lay a mine" for
the other fellow, and his defiance of the traditional and the classic,
it is not to be wondered at that Mme. Blanc, while honouring him with
recognition in the most authoritative literary journal in the world,
could not conceal an expression of amazement over his enthusiastic
acceptance in English-speaking countries.

     "Mark Twain's 'Jumping Frog' should be mentioned in the first place
     as one of his most popular little stories--almost a type of the
     rest.  It is, nevertheless, rather difficult for us to understand,
     while reading this story, the 'roars of laughter' that it excited
     in Australia and in India, in New York and in London; the numerous
     editions of it which appeared; the epithet of 'inimitable' that the
     critics of the English press have unanimously awarded to it.

     "We may remark that a Persian of Montesquieu, a Huron of Voltaire,
     even a simple Peruvian woman of Madame de Graffigny, reasons much
     more wisely about European civilization than an American of San
     Francisco.  The fact is, that it is not sufficient to have wit, or
     even natural taste, in order to appreciate works of art.

     "It is the right of humorists to be extravagant; but still common
     sense, although carefully hidden, ought sometimes to make itself
     apparent.  .  .  .  In Mark Twain the Protestant is enraged against
     the pagan worship of broken marble statues--the democrat denies
     that there was any poetic feeling in the middle ages.  The sublime
     ruins of the Coliseum only impressed him with the superiority of
     America, which punishes its criminals by forcing them to work for
     the benefit of the State, over ancient Rome, which could only draw
     from the punishments which it inflicted the passing pleasure of a

     "In the course of this voyage in company with Mark Twain, we at
     length discover, under his good-fellowship and apparent
     ingenuousness, faults which we should never have expected.  He has
     in the highest degree that fault of appearing astonished at
     nothing--common, we may say, to all savages.  He confesses himself
     that one of his great pleasures is to horrify the guides by his
     indifference and stupidity.  He is, too, decidedly envious. . . .
     We could willingly pardon him his patriotic self-love, often
     wounded by the ignorance of Europeans, above all in what concerns
     the New World, if only that national pride were without mixture of
     personal vanity; but how comes it that Mark Twain, so severe upon
     those poor Turks, finds scarcely anything to criticize in Russia,
     where absolutism has nevertheless not ceased to flourish?  We need
     not seek far for the cause of this indulgence: the Czar received
     our ferocious republicans; the Empress, and the Grand Duchess Mary,
     spoke to them in English.

     "Taking the Pleasure Trip on the Continent altogether, does it
     merit the success it enjoys?  In spite of the indulgence that we
     cannot but show to the judgments of a foreigner; while recollecting
     that those amongst us who have visited America have fallen,
     doubtless, under the influence of prejudices almost as dangerous as
     ignorance, into errors quite as bad--in spite of the wit with which
     certain pages sparkle--we must say that this voyage is very far
     below the less celebrated excursions of the same author in his own

Three years later, Mme. Blanc returns to the discussion of Mark Twain,
in an essay in the 'Revue des Deux Mondes', entitled 'L'age Dore en
Amerique'--an elaborate review and analysis of The Gilded Age.  The
savage charm and real simplicity of Mark Twain are not lacking in
appeal, even to her sophisticated intelligence; and she is inclined to
infer that jovial irony and animal spirits are qualities sufficient to
amuse a young nation of people like the Americans who do not, like the
French, pique themselves upon being blase.  According to her judgment,
Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner are lacking in the requisite mental
grasp for the "stupendous task of interpreting the great tableau of the
American scene."  Nor does she regard their effort at collaboration as a
success from the standpoint of art.  The charm of Colonel Sellers wholly
escapes her; she cannot understand the almost loving appreciation with
which this cheaply gross forerunner of the later American industrial
brigand was greeted by the American public.  The book repels her by
"that mixture of good sense with mad folly--disorder"; but she praises
Mark Twain's accuracy as a reporter.  The things which offend her
sensibilities are the wilful exaggeration of the characters, and the
jests which are so elaborately constructed that "the very theme itself
disappears under the mass of embroidery which overlays it."  "The
audacities of a Bret Harte, the grosser temerities of a Mark Twain,
still astonish us," she concludes; "but soon we shall become accustomed
to an American language whose savoury freshness is not to be disdained,
awaiting still more delicate and refined qualities that time will
doubtless bring."

In translating 'The Jumping Frog' into faultless French (giving Mark
Twain the opportunity for that delightful retranslation into English
which furnished delight for thousands), in reviewing with elaboration
and long citations 'The Innocents Abroad' and 'The Gilded Age', Mme.
Blanc introduced Mark Twain to the literary public of France; and Emile
Blemont, in his 'Esquisses Americaines de Mark Twain' (1881), still
further enhanced the fame of Mark Twain in France by translating a
number of his slighter sketches.  In 1886, Eugene Forgues published in
the 'Revue des Deux Mondes' an exhaustive review (with long citations)
of 'Life on the Mississippi', under the title 'Les Caravans d'un
humoriste'; and his prefatory remarks in regard to Mark Twain's fame in
France at that time may be accepted as authoritative.  He pointed out
the praiseworthy efforts that had been made to popularize these
"transatlantic gaieties," to import into France a new mode of comic
entertainment.  Yet he felt that the peculiar twist of national
character, the type of wit peculiar to a people and a country, the
specialized conception of the _vis comica_ revealed in Mark Twain's
works, confined them to a restricted milieu.  The result of all the
efforts to popularize Mark Twain in France, he makes plain, was an
almost complete check; for to the French taste Mark Twain's pleasantry
appeared macabre, his wit brutal, his temperament dry to excess.  By
some, indeed, his exaggerations were regarded as symptoms of mental
alienation; and the originality of his verve did not succeed in giving a
passport to the incoherence of his conceptions.  "It has been said,"
remarked M. Forgues, with keen perception, "that an academician slumbers
in the depths of every Frenchman; and it was this which prevented the
success of Mark Twain in France.  Humour, in France, has its laws and
its restrictions.  So the French public saw in Mark Twain a gross
jester, incessantly beating upon a tom-tom to attract the attention of
the crowd.  They were tenacious in resisting all such blandishments
.  .  .  .  As a humorist, Mark Twain was never appreciated in France.
The appreciation he ultimately secured--an appreciation by no means
inconsiderable, though in no sense comparable to that won in Anglo-Saxon
and Germanic countries--was due to his sagacity and penetration as an
observer, and to his marvellous faculty for calling up scenes and
situations by the clever use of the novel and the _imprevu_.  There was,
even to the Frenchman, a certain lively appeal in an intelligence
absolutely free of convention, sophistication, or reverence for
traditionary views _qua_ traditionary."  Though at first the salt of
Mark Twain's humour seemed to the French to be lacking in the Attic
flavour, this new mode of comic entertainment, the leisurely exposition
of the genially naive American, in time won its way with the _blase_
Parisians.  Travellers who could find no copy of the Bible in the street
bookstalls of Paris, were confronted everywhere with copies of 'Roughing
It'.  When the authoritative edition of Mark Twain's works appeared in
English, that authoritative French journal, the 'Mercure de France',
paid him this distinguished tribute: "His public is as varied as
possible, because of the versatility and suppleness of his talent which
addresses itself successively to all classes of readers.  He has been
called the greatest humorist in the world, and that is probably the
truth; but he is also a charming and attractive story-teller, an alert
romancer, a clever and penetrating observer, a philosopher without
pretensions, and therefore all the more profound, and finally, a
brilliant essayist."

Nevertheless, the observation of M. Forgues is just and authentic--the
Attic flavour of _l'esprit Gaulois_ is alien to the loosely articulated
structure of American humour.  The noteworthy criticism which Mark Twain
directed at Paul Bourget's 'Outre Mer', and the subsequent controversy
incident thereto, forced into light the racial and temperamental
dissimilarities between the Gallic and the American _Ausschauung_.  Mr.
Clemens once remarked to me that, of all continental peoples, the French
were most alien to the spirit of his humour.  In 'Le Figaro', at the
time of Mark Twain's death, this fundamental difference in taste once
more comes to light: "It is as difficult for a Frenchman to understand
Mark Twain as for a North American to admire La Fontaine.  At first
sight, there is nothing in common between that highly specialized
faculty which the Anglo-Saxons of the old and the new world designate
under the name of humour, and that quality with us which we call wit
(esprit).  And yet, at bottom, these two manifestations of the human
genius, so different in appearance, have a common origin and reach the
same result: they are, both of them, the glorification of good sense
presented in pleasing and unexpected form.  Only, this form must
necessarily vary with peoples who do not speak the same language and
whose skulls are not fashioned in the same way."

In Italy, as in France, the peculiar _timbre_ of Mark Twain's humour
found an audience not wholly sympathetic, not thoroughly _au courant_
with his spirit.  "Translation, however accurate and conscientious," as
the Italian critic, Raffaele Simboli, has pointed out, "fails to render
the special flavour of his work.  And then in Italy, where humorous
writing generally either rests on a political basis or depends on risky
phrases, Mark Twain's sketches are not appreciated because the spirit
which breathes in them is not always understood.  The story of 'The
Jumping Frog', for instance, famous as it is in America and England, has
made little impression in France or Italy."

It was rather among the Germanic peoples and those most closely allied
to them, the Scandinavians, that Mark Twain found most complete and
ready response.  At first blush, it seems almost incredible that the
writings of Mark Twain, with their occasional slang, their
colloquialisms and their local peculiarities of dialect, should have
borne translation so well into other languages, especially into German.
It must, however, be borne in mind that, despite these peculiar features
of his writings, they are couched in a style of most marked directness,
simplicity and native English purity.  The ease with which his works
were translated into foreign, especially the Germanic and allied
tongues, and the eager delight with which they were read and
comprehended by all classes, high and low, constitute perhaps the most
signal conceivable tribute, not only to the humanity of his spirit, but
to the genuine art of his marvellously forthright and natural style.
It need be no cause for surprise that as early as 1872 he had secured
Tauchnitz, of Leipzig, for his Continental agent.  German translations
soon appeared of 'The Jumping Frog and Other Stories' (1874), 'The
Gilded Age' (1874), 'The Innocents Abroad and The New Pilgrim's
Progress' (1875), 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer' (1876).  A few years
later his sketches, many of them, were translated into virtually all
printed languages, notably into Russian and modern Greek; and his more
extended works gradually came to be translated into German, French,
Italian, and the languages of Denmark and the Scandinavian peninsula.

The elements of the colossally grotesque, the wildly primitive, in Mark
Twain's works, the underlying note of melancholy not less than the
lawless Bohemianism, found sympathetic appreciation among the Germanic
races.  George Meredith has likened the functionings of Germanic humour
to the heavy-footed antics of a dancing bear.  Mark Twain's stories of
the Argonauts, the miners and desperadoes, with their primitive,
orgiastic existence; his narratives of the wild freedom of the life on
the Mississippi, the lawless feuds and barbaric encounters--all appealed
to the passion for the fantastic and the grotesque innate in the
Germanic consciousness.  To the Europeans, this wild genius of the
Pacific Slope seemed to function in a sort of unexplored fourth
dimension of humour--vast and novel--of which they had never dreamed.
It is noteworthy that Schleich, in his 'Psychopathik des Humors',
reserved for American humour, with Mark Twain as its leading exponent,
a distinct and unique category which he denominated _phantastischen,

To the biographer belongs the task of describing, in detail, the lavish
entertainment and open-hearted homage which were bestowed upon Mark
Twain in German Europe.  In writing of Mark Twain and his popularity in
Germanic countries, Carl von Thaler unhesitatingly asserts that Mark
Twain was feted, wined and dined in Vienna, the Austrian metropolis, in
an unprecedented manner, and awarded unique honours hitherto paid to no
German writer.  In Berlin, the young Kaiser bestowed upon him the most
distinguished marks of his esteem; and praised his works, in especial
'Life on the Mississippi', with the intensest enthusiasm.  When Mark
Twain received a command from the Kaiser to dine with him, his young
daughter exclaimed that if it kept on like this, there soon wouldn't be
anybody left for him to become acquainted with but God!  Mark said that
it seemed uncomplimentary to regard him as unacquainted in that quarter;
but of course his daughter was young, and the young always jump to
conclusions without reflection.  After hearing the Kaiser's eulogy on
'Life on the Mississippi', he was astounded and touched to receive a
similar tribute, the same evening, from the portier of his
lodging-house.  He loved to dwell upon this, in later years--declaring it
the most extraordinary coincidence of his life that a crowned head and a
portier, the very top of an empire and the very bottom of it, should have
expressed the very same criticism, and delivered the very same verdict,
upon one of his books, almost in the same hour and the same breath.

The German edition of his works, in six volumes, published by Lutz of
Stuttgart, in 1898, I believe, contained an introduction in which he was
hailed as the greatest humorist in the world.  Among German critics he
was regarded as second only to Dickens in drastic comic situation and
depth of feeling.  Robinson Crusoe was held to exhibit a limited power
of imagination in comparison with the ingenuity and inventiveness of Tom
Sawyer.  At times the German critics confessed their inability to
discover the dividing line between astounding actuality and fantastic
exaggeration.  The descriptions of the barbaric state of Western America
possessed an indescribable fascination for the sedate Europeans.  At
times Mark Twain's bloody jests froze the laughter on their lips; and
his "revolver-humour" made their hair stand on end.  Though realizing
that the scenes and events described in 'Tom Sawyer', 'Huckleberry
Finn', 'Roughing It', and 'Life on the Mississippi' could not have been
duplicated in Europe, the German critics revelled in them none the less
that "such adventures were possible only in America--perhaps only in the
fancy of an American!"  "Mark Twain's greatest strength," says Von
Thaler, "lies in the little sketches, the literary snap-shots.  The
shorter his work, the more striking it is.  He draws directly from life.
No other writer has learned to know so many different varieties of men
and of circumstances, so many strange examples of the Genus Homo, as he;
no other has taken so strange a course of development."  The deeper
elements of Mark Twain's humour did not escape the attention of the
Germans, nor fail of appreciation at their hands.  In his aphorisms,
embodying at once genuine wit and experience of life, they discovered
not merely the American author, but the universal human being; these
aphorisms they found worthy of profound and lasting admiration.
Sintenis found in Mark Twain a "living symptom of the youthful joy in
existence"--a genius capable at will, despite his "boyish extravagance,"
of the virile formulation of fertile and suggestive ideas.  His latest
critic in Germany wrote at the time of his death, with a genuine insight
into the significance of his work: "Although Mark Twain's humour moves
us to irresistible laughter, this is not the main point in his books;
like all true humorists, _ist der Witz mit dem Weltschmerz verbunden_,
he is a witness to higher thoughts and higher emotions, and his purpose
is to expose bad morals and evil circumstances, in order to improve and
ennoble mankind."  The critic of the 'Berliner Zeitung' asserted that
Mark Twain is loved in Germany more than all other humorists, English or
French, because his humour "turns fundamentally upon serious and earnest
conceptions of life."  It is a tremendously significant fact that the
works of American literature most widely read in Germany are the works
of--striking conjunction!--Ralph Waldo Emerson and Mark Twain.

The 'Jumping Frog of Calaveras County' fired the laugh heard round the
world.  Like Byron, Mark Twain woke one morning to find himself famous.
A classic fable, which had once evoked inextinguishable laughter in
Athens, was unconsciously re-told in the language of Angel's Camp,
Calaveras County, where history repeated itself with a precision of
detail startling in its miraculous coincidence.  Despite the
international fame thus suddenly won by this little fable, Mark Twain
had yet to overcome the ingrained opposition of insular prejudice before
his position in England and the colonies was established upon a sure and
enduring footing.  In a review of 'The Innocents Abroad' in 'The
Saturday Review' (1870), the comparison is made between the Americans
who "do Europe in six weeks" and the most nearly analogous class of
British travellers, with the following interesting conclusions: "The
American is generally the noisier and more actively disagreeable, but,
on the other hand, he often partially redeems his absurdity by a certain
naivete and half-conscious humour.  He is often laughing in his sleeve
at his own preposterous brags, and does not take himself quite so
seriously as his British rival.  He is vulgar, and even ostentatiously
and atrociously vulgar; but the vulgarity is mixed with a real
shrewdness which rescues it from simple insipidity.  We laugh at him,
and we would rather not have too much of his company; but we do not feel
altogether safe in despising him."  The lordly condescension and gross
self-satisfaction here betrayed are but preliminaries to the ludicrous
density of the subsequent reflections upon Mark Twain himself: "He
parades his utter ignorance of Continental languages and manners, and
expresses his very original judgments on various wonders of art and
nature with a praiseworthy frankness.  We are sometimes left in doubt
whether he is speaking in all sincerity or whether he is having a sly
laugh at himself and his readers"!  It is quite evident that the large
mass of English readers, represented by The Saturday Review, had not
caught Mark Twain's tone; but even the reviewer is more than half won
over by the infectiousness of this new American humour.  "Perhaps we
have persuaded our readers by this time that Mr. Twain (sic) is a very
offensive specimen of the vulgarest kind of Yankee.  And yet, to say the
truth, we have a kind of liking for him.  There is a frankness and
originality about his remarks which is (sic) pleasanter than the mere
repetition of stale raptures; and his fun, if not very refined, is often
tolerable in its way.  In short, his pages may be turned over with
amusement, as exhibiting more or less consciously a very lively portrait
of the uncultivated American tourist, who may be more obtrusive and
misjudging, but is not quite so stupidly unobservant as our native
product.  We should not choose either of them for our companions on a
visit to a church or a picture--gallery, but we should expect most
amusement from the Yankee as long as we could stand him."  It was this
review which gave Mark Twain the opening for his celebrated parody--a
parody which, I have always thought, went far to opening the eyes of the
British public to the true spirit of his humour.  Such irresistible fun
could not fail of appreciation at the hands of a nation which regarded
Dickens as their representative national author.

Two years later, Mark Twain received in England an appreciative
reception of well-nigh national character.  Whilst the literary and
academic circles of America withheld their unstinted recognition of an
author so primitive and unlettered, Great Britain received him with open
arms.  He was a welcome guest at the houses of the exclusive; the
highest dignitaries of public life, the authoritative journals, the
leaders of fashion, of thought, and of opinion openly rejoiced in the
breezy unconventionality, the fascinating daring, and the genial
personality of this new variety of American genius.  His English
publisher, John Camden Hotten, wrote in 1873: "How he dined with the
Sheriff of London and Middlesex; how he spent glorious evenings with the
wits and literati who gather around the festive boards of the
Whitefriars and the Savage Clubs; how he moved in the gay throng at the
Guildhall conversazione; how he feasted with the Lord Mayor of London;
and was the guest of that ancient and most honourable body--the City of
London Artillery--all these matters we should like to dwell upon."  His
public lectures, though not so popular as those of Artemus Ward, won him
recognition as a master in all the arts of the platform.  Mr. H.  R.
Haweis, who heard him once at the old Hanover Square Rooms, thus
describes the occasion: "The audience was not large nor very
enthusiastic.  I believe he would have been an increasing success had he
stayed longer.  We had not time to get accustomed to his peculiar way,
and there was nothing to take us by storm, as in Artemus Ward. . . . .
He came on and stood quite alone.  A little table, with the traditional
water-bottle and tumbler, was by his side.  His appearance was not
impressive, not very unlike the representation of him in the various
pictures in his 'Tramp Abroad'.  He spoke more slowly than any other man
I ever heard, and did not look at his audience quite enough.  I do not
think that he felt altogether at home with us, nor we with him.  We
never laughed loud or long; no one went into those irrepressible
convulsions which used to make Artemus pause and look so hurt and
surprised.  We sat throughout expectant and on the _qui vive_, very well
interested, and gently simmering with amusement.  With the exception of
one exquisite description of the old Magdalen ivy--covered collegiate
buildings at Oxford University, I do not think there was one thing worth
setting down in print.  I got no information out of the lecture, and
hardly a joke that would wear, or a story that would bear repeating.
There was a deal about the dismal, lone silver--land, the story of the
Mexican plug that bucked, and a duel which never came off, and another
duel in which no one was injured; and we sat patiently enough through
it, fancying that by and by the introduction would be over, and the
lecture would begin, when Twain suddenly made his bow and went off!  It
was over.  I looked at my watch; I was never more taken aback.  I had
been sitting there exactly an hour and twenty minutes.  It seemed ten
minutes at the outside.  If you have ever tried to address a public
meeting, you will know what this means.  It means that Mark Twain is a
consummate public speaker.  If ever he chose to say anything, he would
say it marvellously well; but in the art of saying nothing in an hour,
he surpasses our most accomplished parliamentary speakers."

The nation which had been reared upon the wit of Sidney Smith, the irony
of Swift, the _gros sel_ of Fielding, the extravagance of Dickens, was
ripe for the colossal incongruities and daring contrasts of Mark Twain.
They recognized in him not only "the most successful and original wag of
his day," but also a rare genius who shared with Walt Whitman "the
honour of being the most strictly American writer of what is called
American literature."  We read in a review of 'A Tramp Abroad',
published in The Athenaeum in 1880: "Mark Twain is American pure and
simple.  To the eastern motherland he owes but the rudiments, the
groundwork, already archaic and obsolete to him, of the speech he has to
write; in his turn of art, his literary method and aims, his
intellectual habit and temper, he is as distinctly national as the
Fourth of July."  Mark Twain was admired because he was "a literary
artist of exceptional skill"; and it was ungrudgingly acknowledged that
"he has a keen sense of character and uncommon skill in presenting it
dramatically; and he is also an admirable story-teller, with the
anecdotic instinct and habit in perfection, and with a power of episodic
narrative that is scarcely equalled, if at all, by Mr. Charles Reade
himself."  Indeed, from the early days of 'The Innocents Abroad', the
"first transatlantic democratic utterance which found its way into the
hearing of the mass of English people"; during the period of 'Tom
Sawyer', "the completest boy in fiction," the immortal 'Huckleberry
Finn', "the standard picaresque novel of America--the least trammelled
piece of literature in the language," and 'Life on the Mississippi',
vastly appreciated in England as in Germany for its _cultur-historisch_
value; down to the day when Oxford University bestowed the coveted
honour of its degree upon Mark Twain, and all England took him to their
hearts with fervour and abandon--during this long period of almost four
decades, Mark Twain progressively strengthened his hold upon the
imagination of the English people and, like Charles Dickens before him,
may be said to have become the representative author of the Anglo-Saxon
race.  "The vast majority of readers here regard him," said Mr. Sydney
Brooks in 1907, "to a degree in which they regard no other living
writer, as their personal friend, and love him for his tenderness, his
masculinity, his unfailing wholesomeness even more than for his humour."
To all who love and admire Mark Twain, these words in which he was
welcomed to England in 1907 should stand as a symbol of that racial
bond, that _entente cordiale_ of blood and heart, which he did so much
to strengthen and secure.  "A compliment paid to Mark Twain is something
more than a compliment to a great man, a great writer, and a great
citizen.  It is a compliment to the American people, and one that will
come home to them with peculiar gratification.  .  .  .  The feeling for
Mark Twain among his own people is like that of the Scotch for Sir
Walter eighty odd years ago, or like that of our fathers for Charles
Dickens.  There is admiration in it, gratitude, pride, and, above all,
an immense and intimate tenderness of affection.  To writers alone it is
given to win a sentiment of this quality--to writers and occasionally,
by the oddness of the human mind, to generals.  Perhaps one would best
take the measure of the American devotion to Mark Twain by describing it
as a compound of what Dickens enjoyed in England forty years ago, and of
what Lord Roberts enjoys to-day, and by adding something thereto for the
intensity of all transatlantic emotions.  The 'popularity' of statesmen,
even of such a statesman as President Roosevelt, is a poor and
flickering light by the side of this full flame of personal affection.
It has gone out to Mark Twain not only for what he has written, for the
clean, irresistible extravagance of his humour and his unfailing command
of the primal feelings, for his tenderness, his jollity and his power to
read the heart of boy and man and woman; not only for the tragedies and
afflictions of his life so unconquerably borne; not only for his brave
and fiery dashes against tyranny, humbug, and corruption at home and
abroad; but also because his countrymen feel him to be, beyond all other
men, the incarnation of the American spirit."

Mark Twain achieved a position of supreme eminence as a representative
national author which is without a parallel in the history of American
literature.  This position he achieved directly by his appeal to the
great mass of the people, despite the _dicta_ of the _literati_.  At a
time when England and Europe were throwing wide the doors to Mark Twain,
the culture of his own land was regarding him with slighting
condescension, or with mildly quizzical unconcern.  Boston regarded him
with fastidious and frigid disapproval, Longfellow and Lowell found
little in him to admire or approve.  There were notable exceptions, as
Mr. Howells has recently pointed out--Charles Eliot Norton, Professor
Francis J. Child, and most notable of all, Mr. Howells himself; but in
general it is true that "in proportion as people thought themselves
refined they questioned that quality which all recognize in him now, but
which was then the inspired knowledge of the simple-hearted multitude."
The professors of literature regarded Mark Twain as an author whose
works were essentially ephemeral; and stood in the breach for Culture
against the barbaric invasion of primitive Western Barbarism.  Professor
W. P. Trent was, I believe, the first to cite Professor Richardson's
American Literature (published in 1886) as a typical instance of the
position of literary culture in regard to Mark Twain.  "But there is a
class of writers," we read in that work, "authors ranking below Irving
or Lowell, and lacking the higher artistic or moral purpose of the
greater humorists, who amuse a generation and then pass from sight.
Every period demands a new manner of jest, after the current fashion
.  .  .  .  The reigning favourites of the day are Frank R. Stockton,
Joel Chandler Harris, the various newspaper jokers, and 'Mark Twain.'
[Note the damning position!]  But the creators of `Pomona' and 'Rudder
Grange,' of `Uncle Remus and his Folk-lore Stories,' and `Innocents
Abroad,' clever as they are, must make hay while the sun shines.  Twenty
years hence, unless they chance to enshrine their wit in some higher
literary achievement, their unknown successors will be the privileged
comedians of the republic.  Humour alone never gives its masters a place
in literature; it must coexist with literary qualities, and must usually
be joined with such pathos as one finds in Lamb, Hood, Irving, or
Holmes."  This passage stands in the 1892 edition of that work, though
'Tom Sawyer' had appeared in 1876, 'The Prince and the Pauper' in 1882,
'Life on the Mississippi' in 1883, 'Huckleberry Finn' in 1884, and 'A
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court' in 1889.  Opinions analogous
to those expressed in the passage just cited have found frequent
expression among leaders of critical opinion in America; and only
yesterday 'The Jumping Frog' and 'The Innocents Abroad' were seriously
put forward, by a clever and popular American critic, as Mark Twain's
most enduring claims upon posterity!  A bare half-dozen men in the ranks
of American literary criticism have recognized and eloquently spoken
forth in vindication of Mark Twain's title as a classic author, not
simply of American literature, but of the literature of the world.

It is, even now, perhaps not too early to attempt some sort of inquiry
into the causes contributory to Mark Twain's recognition as the prime
representative of contemporary American literature.  One of the cheap
catchwords of Mark Twain criticism is the statement that he is "American
to the core," and that his popular appreciation in his own country was
due to the fact that he most completely embodied the national genius.
How many of those who confidently advance this vastly significant
statement, one curiously wonders, have seriously endeavoured to make
plain to others--or even to themselves--the reasons therefor?  Perhaps
in seeking the causes for Mark Twain's renown in his own country one may
discover the causes for his world-wide fame.

A map of the United States, upon which were marked the localities and
regions made famous by the writings of Mark Twain, would show that,
geographically, he has known and studied this vast country in all the
grand divisions of its composition.  Bred from old Southern stock, born
in the Southwest, he passed his youth upon the bosom of that great
natural division between East and West, the Mississippi River, which
cleaves in twain the very body of the nation.  In the twenties he lost
the feeling of local attachment in the vast democracy of the West, and
looked life--a strangely barbaric and primitive life--straight in the
face.  This is the first great transformation in his life--behold the
Westerner!  After enriching his mind through contact with civilizations
so diverse as Europe and the Sandwich Islands, he settled down in
Connecticut, boldly foreswore the creeds and principles of his native
section, and underwent a new transformation--behold the Yankee!  Once
again, travel in foreign lands, association with the most intellectual
and cultured circles of the world, broadened his vision; yet this
cosmopolitan experience, far from diminishing his racial consciousness,
tended still further to accentuate the national characteristics.  In
this new transformation, we behold the typical American!  The later
years, of cosmopolitan renown, of world-wide fame, throw into high
relief the last transformation--behold the universally human spirit!
Under this crude catalogue, the main lines of Mark Twain's development
stand out in sharp definition.  The catalogue, however, is only too
crude--it is impossible to say with precision just when such and such
a transformation actually took place.  It is only intended to be
suggestive; for we must bear in mind that Mark Twain never changed
character.  His spirit underwent an evolutionary process--broadening,
deepening, enlarging its vision with the passage of the years.

The part which the South played in the formation of the character and
genius of Mark Twain has been little noted heretofore.  It was in the
South and Southwest that the creator of the humour of local eccentrics
first appeared in full flower; and "Ned Brace," "Major Jones," and "Sut
Lovengood" have in them the germs of that later Western humour that was
to come to full fruition in the works of Bret Harte and Mark Twain.  The
stage coach and the river steamboat furnished the means for
disseminating far and wide the gross, the ghastly, the extravagant
stories, the oddities of speech, the fantastic jests which emerged from
the clash of diverse and oddly-assorted types.  The jarring contrasts,
the incongruities and surprises daily furnished by the picturesque river
life unquestionably stimulated and fertilized the latent germs of humour
in the young cub-pilot, Sam Clemens.  Through Mark Twain's greatest
works flows the stately Mississippi, magically imparting to them some
indefinable share of its beauty, its variety, its majesty, its
immensity; and there is no exaggeration in the conclusion that it is the
greatest natural influence which his works betray.  Reared in a
slave-holding community of narrow-visioned, arrogantly provincial people
of the lower middle class; seeing his own father so degrade himself as to
cuff his negro house-boy; consorting with ragamuffins, the rag-tag and
bob-tail of the town, in his passion for bohemianism and truantry--young
Clemens never learned to know the beauty and the dignity, the purity and
the humanity, of that aristocratic patriarchal South which produced such
beautiful figures as Lee and Lanier.  Not even his most enthusiastic
biographers have attempted to palliate, save with half-hearted
facetiousness, his inglorious desertion of the cause which he had
espoused.  Mark Twain is the most speedily "reconstructed rebel" on
record.  Is it broad-minded--or even accurate!--for Mr. Howells to say of
Mark Twain: "No one has ever poured such scorn upon the second-hand,
Walter-Scotticised, pseudo-chivalry of the Southern ideal?"  Mark Twain
never, I firmly believe, held up to ridicule the Southern "ideal."  But
in a well-known and excellent passage in Life on the Mississippi, he
properly pokes fun at the "wordy, windy, flowery 'eloquence,'
romanticism, sentimentality--all imitated from Sir Walter Scott," of the
Southern literary journal of the thirties and forties.  In later years
Mark Twain, in his 'Joan of Arc', voiced a spirit of noble chivalry which
bespoke the "Southern ideal" of his Virginia forbears; and that delicacy
of instinct in matters of right and wrong which is so conspicuous a trait
of Mark Twain's is a symptom of that "moral elegance" which Mr. Owen
Wister has pronounced to be one of the defining characteristics of the
Southern American.  "No American of Northern birth or breeding," Mr.
Howells pertinently observes, "could have imagined the spiritual struggle
of Huck Finn in deciding to help the negro Jim to his freedom, even
though he should be for ever despised as a negro thief in his native
town, and perhaps eternally lost through the blackness of his sin.  No
Northerner could have come so close to the heart of a Kentucky feud, and
revealed it so perfectly, with the whimsicality playing through its
carnage, or could have so brought us into the presence of the sardonic
comi-tragedy of the squalid little river town where the store-keeping
magnate shoots down his drunken tormentor in the arms of the drunkard's
daughter, and then cows with bitter mockery the mob that comes to lynch

The influence of the West upon the character and genius of Mark Twain is
momentous and unmistakable.  Mark Twain found room for development and
expansion in the primitive freedom of the West.  It was here, I think,
that there were bred in him that breezy democracy of sentiment and that
hatred of sham and pretence which fill his writings from beginning to
end.  In the West, virgin yet recalcitrant, every man stood--or fell--by
force of his own exertions; every man, without fear or favour, struggled
for fortune, for competence--or for existence.  It was a case of the
survival of the fittest.  In face of bleak Nature--the burning alkali
desert, the obdurate soil, the rock-ribbed mountains,--all men were free
and equal, in a camaraderie of personal effort.  In this primitive
democracy, every man demanded for himself what he saw others getting.
The pretender, the hypocrite, the sham, the humbug soon went to the
wall, exposed in the nakedness of his own impotency.  Humour is a
salutary aid in the struggle of the individual with the contrasts of
life; indeed it may be said to be born of the perception of those
contrasts.  In a degree no whit inferior to the variegated river life,
the life of the West furnished contrasts and incongruities innumerable
--vaster perhaps, and more significant.  There was the incessant contrast
of civilization with barbarism, of the East with the West; and there was
infinite play for the comic _expose_ of the credulous "tenderfoot" at
the hands of the pitiless cowboy.  Roars of Gargantuan laughter shook
the skies as each new initiate unwittingly succumbed to the demoniac
wiles of his tormentors.  The West was one vast theatre for the practice
of the "practical joke."  Behind everything, menacing, foreboding,
tragic, lay the stupendous contrast between Man and Nature; and though
the miner, the granger, the cowboy laughed defiantly at civilization and
at Nature, there crept into the consciousness of each the conviction
that, in the long run, civilization must triumph, and that, in order to
win success, Nature must be conquered and subdued.  In such an
environment, with its spirit of primitive democracy, its atmosphere of
wild and ribald jest, its contempt for the impostor, its perpetually
recurring incongruities, and behind all the solemn, perhaps tragic,
presence of inexorable Nature--in such an environment were sharpened and
whetted in Mark Twain the sense of humour, the spirit of real democracy
bred of competitive effort, and the hatred for pretence, sham, and

It was not, I think, until Mark Twain went to live in Connecticut and,
as he expressed it, became a scribbler of books, and an immovable
fixture among the other rocks of New England, that he developed complete
confidence in himself and his powers.  That passion for successful
self-expression, which Mr. Nicholas Murray Butler has defined as the main
ambition of the American, became the dominant motive of Mark Twain's
life.  Of his experience as a steamboat pilot, Mark Twain has said that
in that brief, sharp schooling he got personally and familiarly
acquainted with about all the different types of human nature that are
to be found in fiction, biography or history.  In the West he had still
further enriched his mind with an inexhaustible store of first-hand
knowledge of human nature.  In rotation he had been tramping jour
printer, river pilot, private secretary, miner, reporter, lecturer.
He now turns to literature in real earnest, and begins to display that
vast store of knowledge derived from actual contact with the infinitely
diversified realities of American life.  Mark Twain takes on more and
more of the characteristics of the Yankee--those characteristics which
constitute the basis of his success: inventiveness and ingenuity, the
practical efficiency, the shrewdness and the hard common--sense.  It is
the last phase in the formation of the national type.

It was, I venture to say, in some such way as this that Mark Twain came
to assume in the eyes of his countrymen an embodiment of the national
spirit.  He was the self--made man in the self--made democracy.  He was
at once his own creation and the creation of a democracy.  There were
humorists in America before Mark Twain; there are humorists in America
still.  But Mark Twain succeeded not merely in captivating the great
mass of the people; he achieved the far more difficult and unique
distinction of convincing his countrymen of his essential fellowship,
his temperamental affinity, with them.  This miracle he wrought by the
frankest and most straightforward revelation of the actual experiences
in his own life and the lives of those he had known with perfect
intimacy.  It is true that he wrote a few books dealing with other
times, other scenes, than our own in the present and in America.  But I
daresay that his popularity with the mass of his countrymen would not
have been in any degree lessened had he never written these few books.
Indeed, it is hardly to be doubted that his books were successful in the
ratio of their autobiographic nature.  For the character he revealed in
those books of his which are essentially autobiographic, is the
character dear to the American heart; and the experiences, vicissitudes,
and hardships, shot through and irradiated with a high boisterousness of
humour, found a joyous sympathy in the minds and hearts of men who had
all "been there" themselves.  In Mark Twain the American people
recognized at last the sturdy democrat, independent of foreign
criticism; confident in the validity and value of his own ideas and
judgments; believing loyally in his country's institutions, and
upholding them fearlessly before the world; fundamentally serious and
self-reliant, yet with a practicality tempered by humane kindliness,
warmth of heart, and a strain of persistent idealism; rude, boisterous,
even uncouth, yet withal softened by sympathy for the under-dog, a
boundless love for the weak, the friendless, the oppressed; lacking in
profound intellectuality, yet supreme in the possession of the simple
and homely virtues--an upright and honourable character, a good citizen,
a man tenacious of the sanctity of the domestic virtues.  America has
produced finer and more exalted types--giants in intellectuality,
princes in refinement and delicacy of spirit, savants in culture,
classics in authorship.  An American type combining culture
with picturesqueness, refinement with patriotism, suavity with
self-reliance, desire it as we may, still awaits the imprimatur
of international recognition.  America has sufficient cause for
gratification in the memory of that quaint and sturdy figure so
conspicuously bearing the national stamp and superscription.  Perhaps no
American has equalled Mark Twain in the quality of subsuming and
embodying in his own character so many elements of the national spirit
and genius.  In letters, in life, Mark Twain is the American _par

Underneath those qualities which combined to produce in Mark Twain a
composite American type, lay something deeper still--that indefinable
_je ne sais quoi_ which procured him international fame.  Humour alone
is utterly inadequate for achieving so momentous a result--though humour
ostensibly constituted the burden of the appeal.  As a matter of fact,
vehemently as the professors may deny it, Mark Twain was an artist of
remarkable force and power.  From the days when he came under the
tutelage of Mr. Howells, and humbly learned to prune away his stylistic
superfluities of the grosser sort, Mark Twain indubitably began to
subject himself to the discipline of stern self-criticism.  While it is
true that he never learned to realize in full measure, to use Pater's
phrase, "the responsibility of the artist to his materials," he
assuredly disciplined himself to make the most, in his own way, of the
rude and volcanic power which he possessed.  It is fortunate that Mark
Twain never subjected himself to the refinements of academic culture; a
Harvard might well have spoiled a great author.  For Mark Twain had a
memorable tale to tell of rude, primitive men and barbaric, remote
scenes and circumstances; of truant and resourceful boyhood exercising
all its cunning in circumventing circumstance and mastering a calling.
And he had that tale to tell in the unlettered, yet vastly expressive,
phraseology of the actors in those wild events.  The secret of his style
is directness of thought, a sort of shattering clarity of utterance, and
a mastery of vital, vigorous, audacious individual expression.  He had a
remarkable feeling for words and their uses; and his language is the
unspoiled, expressive language of the people.  At times he is primitive
and coarse; but it is a Falstaffian note, the mark of universality
rather than of limitation.  His art was, in Tolstoy's phrase, "the art
of a people--universal art"; and his style was rich in the locutions of
the common people, rich and racy of the soil.  A signal merit of his
style is its admirable adaptation to the theme.  The personages of his
novels always speak "in character"--with perfect reproduction, not only
of their natural speech, but also of their natural thoughts.  Though Mr.
Henry James may have said that one must be a very rudimentary person to
enjoy Mark Twain, there is unimpeachable virtue in a rudimentary style
in treatment of rudimentary or,--as I should prefer to phrase it,
--fundamental things.  Mr. James, I feel sure, could never have put into
the mouth of a "rudimentary" person like Huck, so vivid and graphic a
description of a storm with its perfect reproduction of the impression
caught by the "rudimentary" mind.  "Writers of fiction," says Sir Walter
Besant in speaking of this book, "will understand the difficulty of
getting inside the brain of that boy, seeing things as he saw them,
writing as he would have written, and acting as he would have acted; and
presenting to the world true, faithful, and living effigies of that boy.
The feat has been accomplished; there is no character in fiction more
fully, more faithfully, presented than the character of Huckleberry
Finn.  .  .  .  It may be objected that the characters are extravagant.
Not so.  They are all exactly and literally true; they are quite
possible in a country so remote and so primitive.  Every figure in the
book is a type; Huckleberry Finn has exaggerated none.  We see the life
--the dull and vacuous life--of a small township upon the Mississippi
River forty years ago.  So far as I know, it is the only place where we
can find that phase of life portrayed."

Mark Twain impressed one always as writing with utter individuality
--untrammelled by the limitations of any particular sect of art.  In his
books of travel, he reveals not only the instinct of the trained
journalist for the novel and the effective, but also the feeling of the
artist for the beautiful, the impressive, and the sublime.  His
descriptions, of striking natural objects, such as the volcano of Mount
Kilauea in the Sandwich Islands, of memorable architecture, such as the
cathedral at Milan, show that he possessed the "stereoscopic
imagination" in rare degree.  The picture he evokes of Athens by
moonlight, in the language of simplicity and restraint, ineffaceably
fixes itself in the fancy.

Mark Twain was regarded in France as a remarkable "impressionist" and
praised by the critics for the realistic accuracy and minuteness of his
delineation.  Kipling frankly acknowledged the great debt that he owed
him.  Tennyson spoke in high praise of his finesse in the choice of
words, his feeling for the just word to catch and, as it were, visualize
the precise shade of meaning desired.  In truth, Mark Twain was an
impressionist, rather than an imaginative artist.  That passage in
'A Yankee in King Arthur's Court' in which he describes an early morning
ride through the forest, pictorially evocative as it is, stands
self-revealed--a confusedly imaginative effort to create an image he has
never experienced.

If we set over beside this the remarkable descriptions of things seen,
as minutely evocative as instantaneous photographs--such, for example,
as the picture of a summer storm, or preferably, the picture of dawn on
the Mississippi, both from Huckleberry Finn--pictures Mark Twain had
seen and lived hundreds of times, we see at once the striking
superiority of the realistic impressionist over the imaginative artist.

I have always felt that the most lasting influence of his life--the
influence which has left the most pervasive impression upon his art and
thought--is portrayed in that classic and memorable passage in which he
portrays the marvellous spell laid upon him by that mistress of his
youth, the great river.

To the young pilot, the face of the water in time became a wonderful
book.  For the uninitiated traveller it was a dead language, but to the
young pilot it gave up its most cherished secrets.  He came to feel that
there had never been so wonderful a book written by man.  To its
haunting beauty, its enfolding mystery, he yielded himself unreservedly
--drinking it in like one bewitched.  But a day came when he began to
cease from noting its marvels.  Another day came when he ceased
altogether to note them.

In time, he came to realize that, for him, the romance and the beauty
were gone forever from the river.  If the early rapture was gone, in its
place was the deeper sense of knowledge and intimacy.  He had learned
the ultimate secrets of the river--learned them with a knowledge, so
searching and so profound, that he was enabled to give them the enduring
investiture of art.

Mark Twain possessed the gift of innate eloquence.  He was a master of
the art of moving, touching, swaying an audience.  At times, his insight
into the mysterious springs of humour, of passion, and of pathos seemed
almost like divination.  All these qualities appeared in full flower in
the written expression of his art.  It would be doing a disservice to
his memory to deny that his style did not possess literary distinction
or elegance.  At times his judgment was at fault; his constitutional
humour came near playing havoc with his artistic sense.  Not seldom he
was long--winded and laborious in his striving after comic effect.  To
offset these manifest lapses and defects there are the many fine
qualities--descriptive passages aglow with serene and cloud less beauty,
dramatic scenes depicted with virile and rugged eloquence, pathetic
incidents touched with gentle and caressing tenderness.

Style bears translation ill; in fact, translation is not infrequently
impossible.  But Mr. Clemens once pointed out to me that humour has
nothing to do with style.  Mark Twain's humour--for humour is his
prevalent mood--has international range since, constructed out of a
deep comprehension of human nature and a profound sympathy for human
relationship and human failing, it successfully surmounts the
difficulties of translation into alien tongues.

Mark Twain became a great international figure, not because he was an
American, paradoxical and unpatriotic as that may sound, but because he
was America's greatest cosmopolitan.  He was a true cosmopolitan in the
Higginsonian sense, in that, unlike Mr. Henry James, he was "at home
even in his own country."  He was a true cosmopolitan in the Tolstoyan
sense; for his was "art transmitting the simplest feelings of common
life, but such, always, as are accessible to all men in the whole world
--the art of common life--the art of a people--universal art."  His
spirit grasped the true ideal of our time and reflected it.

Mr. Clemens attributed his international success not to qualities of
style, not to allegiance to any distinctive school, not to any
overtopping eminence of intellect.  "Many so-called American humorists,"
he once remarked to me, "have been betrayed by their preoccupation with
the local.  Their work never crossed frontiers because they failed to
impart to their humour that universal element which appeals to all races
of men.  Realism is nothing more than close observation.  But
observation will never give you the inside of the thing.  The life,
the genius, the soul of a people are realized only through years of
absorption."  Mr. Clemens asseverated that the only way to be a great
American humorist was to be a great human humorist--to discover in
Americans those permanent and universal traits common to all
nationalities.  In his commentary upon Bourget's 'Outre Mer', he
declared that there wasn't a single human characteristic that could
safely be labelled "American"--not a single human detail, inside or
outside.  Through years of automatic observation, Mark Twain learned to
discover for America, to adapt his own phrase, those few human
peculiarities that can be generalized and located here and there
in the world and named by the name of the nation where they are found.

Above all, I think, Mark Twain sympathized with and found something to
admire in the citizens of every nation, seeking beneath the surface
veneer the universal traits of that nation's humanity.  He expressly
disclaimed in my presence any "attitude" toward the world, for the very
simple reason that his relation toward all peoples had been one of
effort at comprehension of their ideals, and identification with them in
feeling.  He disavowed any colour prejudices, caste prejudices, or creed
prejudices--maintaining that he could stand any society.  All that he
cared to know was that a man was a human being--that was bad enough for
him!  It is a matter not of argument, but of fact, that Mark Twain has
made more damaging admissions concerning America than concerning any
other nation.  Lafcadio Hearn best succeeded in interpreting poetry to
his Japanese students by freeing it from all artificial and local
restraints, and using as examples the simplest lyrics which go straight
to the heart and soul of man.  His remarkable lecture on 'Naked Poetry'
is the most signal illustration of his profoundly suggestive mode of
interpretation.  In the same way, Mark Twain as humorist has sought the
highest common factor of all nations.  "My secret--if there is any
secret--," Mr. Clemens once said to me, "is to create humour independent
of local conditions.  In studying humanity as exhibited in the people
and localities I best knew and understood, I have sought to winnow out
the encumbrance of the local."  And he significantly added--musingly--"
Humour, like morality, has its eternal verities."

To the literature of the world, I venture to say, Mark Twain has
contributed: his masterpiece, that provincial Odyssey of the
Mississippi, 'Huckleberry Finn', a picaresque romance worthy to rank
with the very best examples of picaresque fiction;

'Tom Sawyer', only little inferior to its pendent story, which might
well be regarded as the supreme American morality--play of youth,
'Everyboy'; 'The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg', an ironic fable of
such originality and dexterous creation that it has no satisfactory
parallel in literature; the first half of 'Life on the Mississippi' and
all of 'Roughing It', for their reflections of the sociological phases
of a civilization now vanished forever.  It is gratifying to Americans
to recognize in Mark Twain the incarnation of democratic America.  It is
gratifying to citizens of all nationalities to recall and recapture the
pleasure and delight his works have given them for decades.  It is more
gratifying still to rest confident in the belief that, in Mark Twain,
America has contributed to the world a genius sealed of the tribe of
Moliere, a congener of Le Sage, of Fielding, of Defoe--a man who will be
remembered, as Mr. Howells has said, "with the great humorists of all
time, with Cervantes, with Swift, or with any others worthy his company;
none of them was his equal in humanity."


          "Diligently train your ideals upward and still upward
          towards a summit where you will find your chiefest
          pleasure in conduct which, while contenting you, will
          be sure to confer benefits upon your neighbour and the
                                   MARK TWAIN: 'What is Man?'

"The humorous writer," says Thackeray, "professes to awaken and direct
your love, your pity, your kindness, your scorn for untruth, pretension,
and imposture, your tenderness for the weak, the poor, the oppressed,
the unhappy.  To the best of his means and ability he comments on all
the ordinary actions and passions of life almost.  He takes upon himself
to be the week-day preacher, so to speak.  Accordingly, as he finds, and
speaks, and feels the truth best, we regard him, esteem him.--sometimes
love him."  This definition is apt enough to have been made with Mark
Twain in mind.  In an earlier chapter, is displayed the comic phase of
Mark Twain's humour.  Beneath that humour, underlying it and informing
it, is a fund of human concern, a wealth of seriousness and pathos, and
a universality of interests which argue real power and greatness.  These
qualities, now to be discussed, reveal Mark Twain as serious enough to
be regarded as a real moralist and philosopher, humane enough to be
regarded as, in spirit, a true sociologist and reformer.

It must be recognised that the history of literature furnishes forth no
great international figure, whose fame rests solely upon the basis of
humour, however human, however sympathetic, however universal that
humour may be.  Behind that humour must lurk some deeper and more
serious implication which gives breadth and solidity to the art-product.
Genuine humour, as Landor has pointed out, requires a "sound and
capacious mind, which is always a grave one."  There is always a breadth
of philosophy, a depth of sadness, or a profundity of pathos in the very
greatest humorists.  Both Rabelais and La Fontaine were reflective
dreamers; Cervantes fought for the progressive and the real in pricking
the bubble of Spanish chivalry; and Moliere declared that, for a man in
his position, he could do no better than attack the vices of his time
with ridiculous likenesses.  Though exhibiting little of the melancholy
of Lincoln, Mark Twain revelled in the same directness of thought and
expression, showed the same zest for broad humour reeking with the
strong but pungent flavour of the soil.  Though expressing distaste for
Franklin's somewhat cold and almost mercenary injunctions, Mark Twain
nevertheless has much of his Yankee thrift, shrewdness, and bed-rock
common sense.  Beneath and commingled with all his boyish and exuberant
fun is a note of pathos subdued but unmistakable, which rings true
beside the forced and extravagant pathos of Dickens.  His Southern
hereditament of chivalry, his compassion for the oppressed and his
defence of the down-trodden, were never in abeyance from the beginning
of his career to the very end.  Like Joel Chandler Harris, that genial
master of African folk-lore, Mark Twain found no theme of such absorbing
interest as human nature.  Like Fielding, he wrote immortal narratives
in which the prime concern is not the "story," but the almost scientific
revelation of the natural history of the characters.  The corrosive and
mordant irony of many a passage in Mark Twain, wherein he holds up to
scorn the fraudulent and the artificial, the humbug, the hypocrite, the
sensualist, are not unworthy of the colossal Swift.  That "disposition
for hard hitting with a moral purpose to sanction it," which George
Meredith pronounces the national disposition of British humour, is Mark
Twain's unmistakable hereditament.  It is, perhaps, because he relates
us to our origins, as Mr. Brander Matthews has suggested, that Mark
Twain is the foremost of American humorists.

In the preface to the Jumping Frog, published as far back as 1867, Mark
Twain was dubbed, not only "the wild humorist of the Pacific slope," but
also "the moralist of the Main."  The first book which brought him great
popularity, 'The Innocents Abroad', exhibited qualities of serious
ethical import which, while escaping the attention of the readers of
that day, emerge for the moderns from the welter of hilarious humour.
How unforgettable is his righteous indignation over that "benefit"
performance he witnessed in Italy!

The ingrained quality in Mark Twain, which perhaps more than any other
won the enthusiastic admiration of his fellow Americans, was this: he
always had the courage of his convictions.  He writes of things, classic
and hallowed by centuries, with a freshness of viewpoint, a total
indifference to crystallized opinion, that inspire tremendous respect
for his courage, even when one's own convictions are not engaged.  The
"beautiful love story of Abelard and Heloise" will never, I venture to
say, recover its pristine glory--now that Mark Twain has poured over
Abelard the vials of his wrath.

Those who know only the Mark Twain of the latter years, with his deep,
underlying seriousness, his grim irony, and his passion for justice and
truth, find difficulty in realizing that, in his earlier days, the joker
and the buffoon were almost solely in evidence.  In answer to a query of
mine as to the reason for the serious spirit that crept into and gave
carrying power to his humour, Mr. Clemens frankly replied: "I never
wrote a serious word until after I married Mrs. Clemens.  She is solely
responsible--to her should go the credit--for any deeply serious or
moral influence my subsequent work may exert.  After my marriage, she
edited everything I wrote.  And what is more--she not only edited my
works, she edited ME!  After I had written some side-splitting story,
something beginning seriously and ending in preposterous anti-climax,
she would say to me: 'You have a true lesson, a serious meaning to
impart here.  Don't give way to your invincible temptation to destroy
the good effect of your story by some extravagantly comic absurdity.
Be yourself!  Speak out your real thoughts as humorously as you please,
but--without farcical commentary.  Don't destroy your purpose with an
ill-timed joke.'  I learned from her that the only right thing was to
get in my serious meaning always, to treat my audience fairly, to let
them really feel the underlying moral that gave body and essence to my

The quality with which Mark Twain invests his disquisitions upon morals,
upon conscience, upon human foibles and failings, is the charm of the
humorist always--never the grimness of the moralist or the coldness of
the philosopher.  He observes all human traits, whether of moral
sophistry or ethical casuistry, with the genial sympathy of a lover of
his kind irradiated with the riant comprehension of the humorist.  And
yet at times there creeps into his tone a note of sincere and manly
pathos, unmistakable, irresistible.  One has only to read the beautiful,
tender tale of the blue jay in 'A Tramp Abroad' to know the beauty and
the depth of his feeling for nature and her creatures, his sense of
kinship with his brothers of the animal kingdom.

In our first joyous and headlong interest in the narrative of
'Huckleberry Finn', its rapid succession of continuously arresting
incidents, its omnipresent yet never intrusive humour, the deeper
significance of many a passage in that contemporary classic is likely to
escape notice.  Sir Walter Besant, who revelled in it as one of the most
completely satisfying and delightful of books, speaks of it deliberately
as a book without a moral.  Perhaps he was deceived by the foreword:
"Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be
prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished;
persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot."  There never was
a more easy-going, care-free, unpuritanical lot than Huck and Jim, the
two farcical "hoboes," Tom Sawyer, and the rest.  And yet in the light
of Mark Twain's later writings one cannot but see in that picaresque
romance, with its pleasingly loose moral atmosphere, an underlying
seriousness and conviction.  Jim is a simple, harmless negro, childlike
and primitive; yet, so marvellous, so restrained is the art of the
narrator, that imperceptibly, unconsciously, one comes to feel not only
a deep interest in, but a genuine respect for, this innocent fugitive
from slavery.  Mr. Booker Washington, a distinguished representative of
his race, said he could not help feeling that, in the character of Jim,
Mark Twain had, perhaps unconsciously, exhibited his sympathy for and
interest in the masses of the negro people.

Indeed, to the reflective mind--and it is to be presumed that by that
standard Mark Twain's works will ultimately be judged--there is no more
significant passage in Huckleberry Finn than that in which Huck
struggles with his conscience over the knotty problem of his moral
responsibility for compassing Jim's emancipation.  Nothing else is
needed to show at once Mark Twain's preoccupation with the workings of
human conscience in the unsophisticated mind and his conviction that,
with the "lights that he had," Huck was justified in his courageous

Huck felt deeply repentant for allowing Jim to escape from the innocent,
inoffending Miss Watson.  He became consumed with horror and remorse to
hear Jim making plans for stealing his wife and children, if their
masters wouldn't sell them.  His conscience kept stirring him up hotter
than ever when he heard Jim talking to himself about the joys of
freedom.  After awhile, Huck decided to write a letter to Miss Watson,
informing her of the whereabouts of her "runaway nigger."  After writing
that letter, he felt washed clean of sin, uplifted, exalted.  But he
could not forget all the goodness and tenderness of poor Jim, who had
shown himself so profoundly grateful.  Though he faced the torments of
Puritanical damnation as a consequence, he resolved to let Jim go free.
Humanity triumphed over conscience--and with an "All right, then, I'll
go to hell," he tore up the letter.

One of Mark Twain's favourite themes for the display of his humour was
the subject of prevarication.  He seemed never to tire of ringing the
changes upon the theme of the lie, its utility, its convenience, and its
consequences.  Doubtless he chose to dabble in falsehood because it is
generally winked at as the most venial of all moral obliquities--a fault
which is the most thoroughly universal of all that flesh is heir to.
The incident of George Washington and the cherry tree furnished the
basis for countless of his anecdotes; he wrung from it variations
innumerable, from the epigram to the anecdote.  His distinction between
George Washington and himself, redounding immeasurably to his own glory,
and demonstrating his complete superiority to Washington as a moral
character, is classic: "George Washington couldn't tell a lie.  I can;
but I won't."  Perhaps his most humorous anecdote, based upon the same
story, is in connection with the exceedingly old "darky" he once met in
the South, who claimed to have crossed the Delaware with Washington.
"Were you with Washington," asked Mark Twain mischievously, "when he
took that hack at the cherry tree?"  This was a poser for the old
darkey; his pride was appealed to, his very character was at stake.
After an awkward hesitation, the old darkey spoke up, a gleam of
simulated recollection (and real gratification for his convenient
memory) overspreading his countenance: "Lord, boss, I was dar.  In
cose I was.  I was with Marse George at dat very time.  In fac--I done
druv dat hack myself"!

Mark Twain's most delightful trick as a popular humorist was to strike
out some comic epigram, that passed currency with the masses whose fancy
it tickled, and also had upon it the minted stamp of the classic
aphorism.  These epigrams were frequently pseudo-moral in their nature;
and their humour usually lay in the assumption that everybody is
habitually addicted to prevarication--which is just precisely true
enough and reprehensible enough to validate the epigram.  His method was
humorous inversion; and he told a story whose morals are so ludicrously
twisted that the right moral, by contrast, spontaneously springs to
light.  "Never tell a lie--except for practice," is less successful than
the more popularly known "When in doubt, tell the truth."  Out of the
latter maxim he succeeded in extracting a further essence of humour.  He
admitted inventing the maxim, but never expected it to be applied to
himself.  His advice, he said, was intended for other people; when he
was in doubt himself, he used more sagacity!  Mark Twain has made no
more delightful epigram than that one in which he recognizes that a lie,
morally reprehensible as it may be, is undoubtedly an ever present help
in time of need: "Never waste a lie.  You never know when you may need

Sometimes in a humorous, sometimes in a grimly serious way, Mark Twain
was fond of drawing the distinction between theoretical and practical
morals.  Theoretical morals, he would point out, are the sort you get on
your mother's knee, in good books, and from the pulpit.  You get them
into your head, not into your heart.  Only by the commission of crime
can anyone acquire real morals.  Commit all the crimes in the decalogue,
take them in rotation, persevere in this stern determination--and after
awhile you will thereby attain to moral perfection!  It is not enough to
commit just one crime or two--though every little bit helps.  Only by
committing them all can you achieve real morality!  It is interesting to
note this distinction between Mark Twain, the humorous moralist, and
Bernard Shaw, the ethical thinker.  Each teaches precisely the same
thing--the one not even half seriously, the other with all the sharp
sincerity of conviction.  Shaw unhesitatingly declares that trying to be
wicked is precisely the same experiment as trying to be good, viz., the
discovery of character.

The range of Mark Twain's humour, from the ludicrous anecdote with
comically mixed morals to the profound parable with grimly ironic
conclusion, takes the measure of the ethical nature of the man.  It can
best be illustrated, I think, by a comparison of his anecdote of the
theft of the green water-melon and the classic fable of 'The Man that
Corrupted Hadleyburg'.  Mark stole a water-melon out of a farmer's
wagon, while he wasn't looking.  Of course stole was too harsh a term
--he withdrew, he retired that water-melon.  After getting safely away to
a secluded spot, he broke the water-melon open--only to find that it was
green, the greenest water-melon of the year.

The moment he saw that the water-melon was green, he felt sorry.  He
began to reflect--for reflection is the beginning of reform.  It is only
by reflecting on some crime you have committed, that you are
"vaccinated" against committing it again.

So Mark began to reflect.  And his reflections were of this nature: What
ought a boy to do who has stolen a green water-melon?  What would George
Washington, who never told a lie, have done?  He decided that the only
real, right thing for any boy to do, who has stolen a water-melon of
that class, is to make restitution.  It is his duty to restore it to its
rightful owner.  So rising up, spiritually strengthened and refreshed by
his noble resolution, Mark restored the water--melon--what there was
left of it--to the farmer and--made the farmer give him a ripe one in
its place!  Thus he clinched the "moral" of this story, so quaint and so
ingenious; and concluded that only in some such way as this could one be
fortified against further commission of crime.  Only thus could one
become morally perfect!

Here, as in countless other places, Mark Twain throws over his ethical
suggestion--a suggestion, by contrast, of the very converse of his
literal words--the veil of paradox and exaggeration, of incongruity,
fantasy, light irony.  Yet beneath this outer covering of art there is
a serious meaning that, like murder, will out.  If demonstration were
needed that Mark Twain is sealed of the tribe of moralists, that is
amply supplied by that masterpiece, that triumph of invention,
construction, and originality, 'The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg'.
Here is a pure morality, daring in the extreme and incredibly original
in a world perpetually reiterating a saying already thousands of years
old, to the effect that there is nothing new under the sun.  It is a
deliberate emendation of that invocation in the Lord's Prayer "Lead us
(not) into temptation."  The shrieking irony of this trenchant parable,
its cynicism and heartlessness, would make of it an unendurable
criticism of human life--were it accepted literally as a representation
of society.  In essence it is a morality pure and simple, animated not
only by its brilliantly original ethical suggestion, but also by its
illuminating reflection of human nature and its graciously relieving
humour.  In that exultant letter which the _Diabolus ex machina_ wrote
to the betrayed villagers, he sneers at their old and lofty reputation
for honesty--that reputation of which they were so inordinately proud
and vain.  The weak point in their armour was disclosed so soon as he
discovered how carefully and vigilantly they kept themselves and their
children out of temptation.  For he well knew that the weakest of all
weak things is a virtue that has not been tested in the fire.  The
familiar distinction between innocence and virtue springs to mind.  And
it is worthy of consideration that Nietzsche, and Shaw after him, both
point out that virtue consists, not in resisting evil, but in not
desiring it!  'The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg' is a masterpiece,
eminently worthy of the genius of a Swift.  It proclaims Mark Twain not
only as a supreme artist, but also as eminently and distinctively a

It is impossible to think of Mark Twain in his maturer development as
other than a moralist.  My personal acquaintance with Mr. Clemens
convinced me--had I needed to be convinced--that in his later years he
had striven to grapple nobly with many of the deeper issues of life,
character and morality, public, religious and social, as well as
personal and private.  I never knew anyone who thought so "straight,"
or who expressed himself with such simple directness upon questions
affecting religion and conduct.  He was absolutely fearless in his
condemnation of those subsidized "ministers" of the Gospel in
cosmopolitan centres, who, through self-interest, cut their moral
disquisitions to fit the predilections of their wealthy parishioners,
many of whom were under national condemnation as "malefactors of great
wealth."  Animated by love for all creatures, the defenceless wild
animal as well as the domestic pet, he was unsparing in his indictment
of those big-game hunters who shamelessly described their feelings of
savage exultation when some poor animal served as the target for their
skill, and staggered off wounded unto death.  His sympathy for the
natives of the Congo was profound and intense; and his philippic against
King Leopold for the atrocities he sanctioned called the attention of
the whole world to conditions that constituted a disgrace to modern
civilization.  His diatribe against the Czar of Russia for his
inhumanity to the serfs was an equally convincing proof of his noble
determination to throw the whole weight of his influence in behalf of
suffering and oppressed humanity.  Some years before his death, he told
me that he never intended to speak in public again save in behalf of
movements, humanitarian and uplifting, which gave promise of effecting
civic betterment and social improvement.

I have always felt a peculiar and personal debt of gratitude to Mark
Twain for three events--for the publication of such works can be
dignified with no less eminent characterization.  When Mr. Edward Dowden
tried to make out the best case for Shelley that he could, it was at the
sacrifice of the reputation of the defenceless Harriet Westbrook.  That
ingrained chivalry which is the defining characteristic of the
Southerner, the sympathy for the oppressed, the compassion for the weak
and the defenceless, animated Mark Twain to one of the noblest actions
of his career.  For his defence of Harriet Westbrook is something more
than a work, it is an act--an act of high courage and nobility.  With
words icily cold in their logic, Mark Twain tabulated the six pitifully
insignificant charges against Harriet, such as her love for dress and
her waning interest in Latin lessons, and set over against them the six
times repeated name of Cornelia Turner, that fascinating young married
woman who read Petrarch with Shelley and sat up all hours of the night
with him--because he saw visions when he was alone!  Again, in his 'Joan
of Arc', Mark Twain erected a monument of enduring beauty to that simple
maid of Orleans, to whom the Roman Catholic Church has just now paid the
merited yet tardy tribute of canonization.  It is a sad commentary upon
the popular attitude of frivolity towards the professional humorist that
Mark Twain felt compelled to publish this book anonymously, in order
that the truth and beauty of that magic story might receive its just
meed of respectful and sympathetic attention.

The third act for which I have always felt deeply grateful to Mark Twain
is the apparently little known, yet beautiful and significant story
entitled 'Was it Heaven or Hell?'  It contains, I believe, the moral
that had most meaning for Mark Twain throughout his entire life--the
bankruptcy of rigidly formal Puritanism in the face of erring human
nature, the tragic result of heedlessly holding to the letter, instead
of wisely conforming to the spirit, of moral law.  No one doubts that
Mark Twain--as who would not?--believed, aye, knew, that this sweet,
human child went to a heaven of forgiveness and mercy, not to a hell of
fire and brimstone, for her innocently trivial transgression.  The essay
on Harriet Shelley, the novel of 'Joan of Arc', and the story 'Was it
Heaven or Hell?' are all, as decisively as the philippic against King
Leopold, the diatribe against the Czar of Russia, essential vindications
of the moral principle.  'Was it Heaven or Hell?'  in its simple pathos,
'The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg' in its morally salutary irony,
present vital evidence of that same transvaluation of current moral
values which marks the age of Nietzsche and Ibsen, of Tolstoy and Shaw.
In that amusing, naive biography of her father, little Susy admits that
he could make exceedingly bright jokes and could be extremely amusing;
but she maintains that he was more interested in earnest books and
earnest conversation than in humorous ones.  She pronounced him to be as
much of a Pholosopher (sic) as anything.  And she hazards the opinion
that he might have done a great deal in this direction if only he had
studied when he was a boy!

Years ago, Mark Twain wrote a book which he called 'An Extract from
Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven'.  For long he desisted from
publishing it because of his fear that its outspoken frankness would
appear irreverent and shock the sensibilities of the public.  While his
villa of "Stormfield" was in course of erection several years ago, he
discovered that half of it was going to cost what he had expected to
pay for the whole house.  His heart was set on having a loggia or
sun-parlour; and when it seemed that he would have to sacrifice this
apple of his eye through lack of funds, he threw discretion to the winds,
hauled out Captain Stormfield and made the old tar pay the piper.  His
fears as to its reception were wholly unwarranted; for it was generously
enjoyed for its shrewd and vastly suggestive ideas on religion and heaven
as popularly taught nowadays from the pulpits.  This book is full of a
keen and bluff common sense, cannily expressed in the words of an old
sea-captain whom Mark Twain had known intimately.  It is only another
link in the chain of evidence which goes to prove that Mark Twain had
thought long and deeply upon the problematical nature of a future life.
It is, in essence, a _reductio ad absurdum_ of those professors of
religion who still preach a heaven of golden streets and pearly gates, of
idleness and everlasting psalm-singing, of restful and innocuous bliss.
Mark Twain wanted to point out the absurdity of taking the allegories and
the figurative language of the Bible literally.  Of course everybody
called for a harp and a halo as soon as they reached heaven.  They were
given the harps and halos--indeed nothing harmless and reasonable was
refused them.  But they found these things the merest accessories.  Mark
Twain's heaven was just the busiest place imaginable. There weren't any
idle people there after the first day.  The old sea captain pointed out
that singing hymns and waving palm branches through all eternity was all
very pretty when you heard about it from the pulpit, but that it was a
mighty poor way to put in valuable time. He took no stock in a heaven of
warbling ignoramuses.  He found that Eternal Rest, reduced to hard pan,
was not as comforting as it sounds in the pulpit.  Heaven is the merited
reward of service; and the opportunities for service were infinite.  As
he said, you've got to earn a thing square and honest before you can
enjoy it.  To Mark, this was "about the sensiblest heaven" he had ever
heard of.  He mourned a little over the discovery that what a man mostly
missed in heaven was company. But he rejoiced in the information
vouchsafed by his friend the Captain--a valuable piece of information
that leaves him, and all who are so fortunate as to hear it, the better
for the knowledge--that happiness isn't a thing in itself, but only a
contrast with something that isn't pleasant!  This view of heaven, seen
through the temperament of a humorist and a philosopher, is provocative
and thought-compelling more than it is amusing or ludicrous.  I think it
inspired Bernard Shaw's Aerial Foot-ball which won Collier's thousand
dollar prize--a prize which Mr Shaw hurled back with indignation and

Mark Twain was a great humorist--more genial than grim, more
good-humoured than ironic, more given to imaginative exaggeration than to
intellectual sophistication, more inclined to pathos than to melancholy.
He was a great story-teller and fabulist; and he has enriched the
literature of the world with a gallery of portraits so human in their
likenesses as to rank them with the great figures of classic comedy and
picaresque romance.  He was a remarkable observer and faithful reporter,
never allowing himself, in Ibsen's phrase, to be "frightened by the
venerableness of the institution"; and his sublimated journalism reveals
a mastery of the naively comic thoroughly human and democratic.  He is
the most eminent product of our American democracy, and, in profoundly
shocking Great Britain by preferring Connecticut to Camelot, he exhibited
that robustness of outlook, that buoyancy of spirit, and that faith in
the contemporary which stamps America in perennial and inexhaustible
youth.  Throughout his long life, he has been a factor of high ethical
influence in our civilization, and the philosopher and the humanitarian
look out through the twinkling eyes of the humorist.

And yet, after all, Mark Twain's supreme title to distinction as a great
writer inheres in his natural, if not wholly conscious, mastery in that
highest sphere of thought, embracing religion, philosophy, morality and
even humour, which we call sociology.  When I first advanced this view,
it was taken up on all sides.  Here, we were told, was Mark Twain "from
a new angle"; the essay was reviewed at length on the continent of
Europe; and the author of the essay was invited "to explain Mark Twain
to the German public"!  There are still many people, however, who resent
any demonstration that Mark Twain was anything more than a mirthful and
humorous entertainer.  Mr. Bernard Shaw once remarked to me, in support
of the view here outlined, that he regarded Poe and Mark Twain as
America's greatest achievements in literature, and that he thought of
Mark Twain primarily, not as humorist, but as sociologist.  "Of course,"
he added, "Mark Twain is in much the same position as myself: he has to
put matters in such a way as to make people who would otherwise hang
him, believe he is joking."

Mark Twain once said that whenever he had diverged from custom and
principle to utter a truth, the rule had been that the hearer hadn't
strength of mind enough to believe it.  "Custom is a petrifaction," he
asserted; "nothing but dynamite can dislodge it for a century."  Mr. W.
D. Howells has advanced the somewhat fanciful theory that "the ludicrous
incongruity of a slave-holding democracy nurtured upon the Declaration
of Independence, and the comical spectacle of white labour owning black
labour, had something to do in quickening (in Mark Twain) the sense of
contrast which is the mountain of humour or is said to be so."  However
that may be, Mark Twain was irresistibly driven to the conclusion,
Southern born though he was, that slavery was unjust, inhuman, and
indefensible.  The advanced thinkers in the South had reached this
conclusion long before the beginning of the Civil War, and many Southern
men had actually devised freedom to their slaves in their wills.  The
slaves were treated humanely, their material wants were cared for by
their owners with a care that can only be called loving, and their
spiritual welfare was the frequent concern in particular of the mistress
of the house.

In his schoolboy days, Mark Twain had no aversion to slavery.  He wasn't
even aware that there was anything wrong about it.  He never heard it
condemned by acquaintances or in the local papers.  And as for the
preachers, they taught that God approved slavery, and cited Biblical
passages in support of that view.  If the slaves themselves were averse
to it, at least they kept discreetly silent on the subject.  He seldom
saw a slave misused--on the farm, never.  But when he was brought face
to face with Sandy, the little slave forcibly separated from his family,
it made a deep impression upon his consciousness.  It was this
deplorable evil of the system, this unnatural and inhuman forcible
separation of the members of the same family, the one from the other,
that convinced him of the injustice of slavery; though this vision, as
has been pointed out by Mr. Howells, did not come to him "till after his
liberation from neighbourhood in the vaster far West."  Yet it found its
way into his books--into Huckleberry Finn, with its recital of Jim's
pathetic longing to buy back his wife and children; and in Pudd'nhead
Wilson with its moving picture of the poor slave's agony when she
suddenly realizes in the way the water is flowing around the snag that
she is being "sold down the river."  In Uncle Tom's Cabin, as Professor
Phelps has pointed out, "the red--hot indignation of the author largely
nullified her evident desire to tell the truth. . . .  Mrs. Stowe's
astonishing work is not really the history of slavery; it is the history
of abolition sentiment.  .  .  .  Mark Twain shows us the beautiful side
of slavery--for it had a wonderfully beautiful, patriarchal side--and he
also shows us the horror of it."  Mark Twain has declared that the only
way to write a great novel is to learn the scenes and people with which
the story is concerned, through years of "unconscious absorption" of the
facts of the life to be portrayed.  When his stories were written,
slavery was a thing of the past--he was competent to judge of the
situation impartially, through direct personal contact throughout his
boyhood with the realities of slavery.  His object was not the object of
the reformer, warped with prejudice and fired by animosity.  He saw
clearly; for his aim was not polemic, but artistic.  Hence it is, I
believe, that Mark Twain stands out as, in essence and in fundamentals,
a remarkable sociologist.  Certain passages in his books on the subject
of slavery, as the historian Lecky has declared, are the truest things
that have ever been expressed on the subject which vexed a continent and
plunged a nation in bloody, fratricidal strife.

Huckleberry Finn and Life on the Mississippi always call up to my mind
the most vivid pictures--pictures that are eternally unforgettable.  The
memorable scene in which Colonel Sherburne quells the mob and his
scathing remarks upon lynching; the reality and the pathos of the feuds
of those Kentucky families, the Shepherdsons and the Grangerfords,
shooting each other down at sight in vindication of honour and pride of
race; the lordly life of the pilot on the Mississippi, his violent and
unchallenged sway over his subordinates, his mastery of the river; the
variegated colours of that lawless, picturesque, semi-barbarous life of
the river--all these sweep by us in a series of panoramic pictures as
Huck's raft swings lazily down the tawny river, and Horace Bixby guides
his boat through the dangers of the channel.  Mark Twain is primarily a
great artist, only unconsciously a true sociologist.  But his power as a
sociologist is no less real that it is unconscious, indeed infinitely
more real and human and verisimilar that it is not polemical.  There is
a "sort of contemporaneous posterity" which has registered its verdict
that Mark Twain was the greatest humorist of the present era.  But there
is yet to come that greater posterity of the future which will, I dare
say, class Mark Twain as America's greatest, most human sociologist in
letters.  He is the historian, the historian in art, of a varied and
unique phase of civilization on the American continent that has passed
forever.  And it is inconceivable that any future investigator into the
sociological phases of that civilization can fail to find priceless and
unparalleled documents in the wild yet genial, rudimentary yet sane,
boisterous yet universally human writings of Mark Twain.

Mark Twain's genius of social comprehension and sociologic
interpretation went even deeper than this.  His mastery lay not alone in
penetrative reflection of a bit of sectional life and a vanished phase
of our civilization, not alone in astute criticism of an "institution"
blotted from the American escutcheon and a collective racial passion
that periodically breaks forth from time to time in mad "carnivals of
crime."  The defining quality of the true sociologist, that quality
which gives his profession its power and validity as an effective
instrumentality in the advancement of civilization, is the faculty of
penetrating national and racial disguises, and going directly to the
heart of the human problem.  Mark Twain possessed this faculty in
supreme degree.  As a literary critic he was banal and futile; but as
a social and racial critic he was remarkable and profound. His essay
'Concerning the Jews' is a masterpiece of impartial interpretation; his
comprehension of French and German racial traits, as revealed in his
works, is keen and pervasively pertinent; and his magnificent analysis
of the situation in South Africa, in the concluding chapters of
'Following the Equator', rings clear with the accents of truth and
mounts almost to the dignity of public prophecy.  Deeper far, more
comprehensive, and voiced with splendid courage, are Mark Twain's
interpretations of American democracy and his mirroring of the national
ideals.  His "defence" of General Funston is a scorching and devastating
blast, red with the fires of patriotism.  Whatever be one's convictions,
one cannot but respect the profound sincerity of Mark Twain's
berserker-like rage over the attitude of Europe in China, the barbarities
of Russian autocracy, and the horrors of America's methods in the
Philippines, copied after Weyler's _reconcentrado_ policy in Cuba. His
study of Christian Science, despite its hyperbole, its gross
exaggerations and unfulfilled prophecies, is the expression of glorified
common-sense, a sociological study of religious fanaticism comprehensive
in psychological analysis of national and racial traits.

In his own works, Mark Twain brought to realization the dim and inchoate
fancies of Whitman; in his own person he realized that "divine average"
of common life which is the dream of American democracy.  'The Prince
and the Pauper' is a beautiful child's tale, vivid in narrative and rich
in human interest.  It is something deeper far than this; for the very
crucial motive of the story, the successful substitution of the commoner
for the king, transforms it into a symbolic legend of democracy and the
equality of man.  Mark Twain vehemently approved the French revolution,
and frankly expressed his regret over Napoleon's failure to invade
England and thus destroy the last vestiges of the semi-feudal
paraphernalia of the British monarchy.  Despite its note of Yankee
blatancy, 'A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur' is a remarkable brief
for democracy and the brotherhood of man.  So eminent a publicist as Mr.
William T. Stead pronounced it, at the time of its first appearance, one
of the most significant books of our time; and classed it (with Henry
George's 'Progress and Poverty' and Edward Bellamy's 'Looking Backward')
as the third great book from America to give tremendous impetus to the
social democratic movement of the age.  Mark Twain abandoned all hope of
a future life; found more of sorrow than of joy in life's balances; and
even, in his latter years, lost faith in humanity itself.  But amid the
wreck of faiths and creeds, he achieved the strange paradox of American
optimism: he never lost faith in democracy, and fought valiantly to the
end in behalf of equality and the welfare of the average man.

Several years ago, when we were crossing the Atlantic on the same ship,
Mr. Clemens told me that while he was living in Hartford in the early
eighties, I think, he wrote a paper to be read at the fortnightly club
to which he belonged.  This club was composed chiefly of men whose
deepest interests were concerned with the theological and the
religiously orthodox.  One of his friends, to whom he read this paper
in advance, solemnly warned him not to read it before the club.  For he
felt confident that a philosophical essay, expressing candid doubt as to
the existence of free will, and declaring without hesitation that every
man was under the immitigable compulsion of his temperament, his
training, and his environment, would appear unspeakably shocking,
heretical and blasphemous to the orthodox members of that club.  "I did
not read that paper," Mr. Clemens said to me, "but I put it away,
resolved to let it stand the corrosive test of time.  Every now and
then, when it occurred to me, I used to take that paper out and read it,
to compare its views with my own later views.  From time to time I added
something to it.  But I never found, during that quarter of a century,
that my views had altered in the slightest degree.  I had a few copies
published not long ago; but there is not the slightest evidence in the
book to indicate its authorship."  A few days later he gave me a copy,
and when I read that book, I found these words, among others, in the
prefatory note:

"Every thought in them (these papers) has been thought (and accepted as
unassailable truth) by millions upon millions of men--and concealed,
kept private.  Why did they not speak out?  Because they dreaded (and
could not bear) the disapproval of the people around them.  Why have I
not published?  The same reason has restrained me, I think.  I can find
no other."

'What is Man?'  propounds at length, through the medium of a dialogue
between a Young Man and an Old Man, the doctrine that "Beliefs are
acquirements; temperaments are born.  Beliefs are subject to change;
nothing whatever can change temperament."  He enunciates the theory,
which seems to me both brilliant and original, that there can be no such
person as a permanent seeker after truth.

"When he found the truth he sought no farther; but from that day forth,
with his soldering iron in one hand and his bludgeon in the other, he
tinkered its leaks and reasoned with objectors."  "All training," he
avers, "is one form or another of outside influences, and association is
the largest part of it.  A man is never anything but what his outside
influences have made him.  They train him downward or they train him
upward--but they train him; they are at work upon him all the time."
Once asked by Rudyard Kipling whether he was ever going to write another
story about Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain replied that he had a notion of
writing the sequel to Tom Sawyer in two parts, in one bringing him to
high honour, and in the other bringing him to the gallows.  When Kipling
protested vigorously against any theory of the sort, because Tom Sawyer
was real, Mark Twain replied with the fatalistic doctrine of 'What is
Man?': "Oh, he is real.  He's all the boy that I have known or
recollect; but that would be a good way of ending the book--because,
when you come to think of it, neither religion, training, nor education
avails anything against the force of circumstances that drive a man.
Suppose we took the next four and twenty years of Tom Sawyer's life, and
gave a little joggle to the circumstances that controlled him.  He
would, logically and according to the joggle, turn out a rip or an
angel."  It was what he called Kismet.

It is one of the tragedies of his life, so sad in many ways, that in the
days when the blows of fate fell heaviest upon his head, he had lost all
faith in the Christian ideals, all belief in immortality or a personal
God.  And yet he avowed that, no matter what form of religion or
theology, atheism or agnosticism, the individual or the nation embraced,
the human race remained "indestructibly content, happy, thankful,
proud."  He never had a tinge of pessimism in his make-up, his beliefs
never tended to warp his nature, he accepted his fatalism gladly because
he saw in it supreme truth.  His ultimate philosophy of life, which he
sums up in 'What is Man?', is healthy and right-minded.  It is best
embodied in the lofty injunction: "Diligently train your ideals upward
and still upward towards a summit where you will find your chiefest
pleasure in conduct which, while contenting you, will be sure to confer
benefits upon your neighbour and the community."  Lassalle once said:
"History forgives mistakes and failures, but not want of conviction."
In Mark Twain, posterity will never be called upon to forgive any want
of conviction.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mark Twain" ***

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