The $30,000 Bequest, and Other Stories, by Mark Twain

A few delicious tidbits in here, to which we will add as the hours, days, weeks, months and years go by.

Re: The $30,000 Bequest, and Other Stories, by Mark Twain

Postby admin » Wed Apr 04, 2018 6:50 pm

AN ENTERTAINING ARTICLE

I take the following paragraph from an article in the Boston Advertiser:

AN ENGLISH CRITIC ON MARK TWAIN

Perhaps the most successful flights of humor of Mark Twain have been descriptions of the persons who did not appreciate his humor at all. We have become familiar with the Californians who were thrilled with terror by his burlesque of a newspaper reporter's way of telling a story, and we have heard of the Pennsylvania clergyman who sadly returned his Innocents Abroad to the book-agent with the remark that “the man who could shed tears over the tomb of Adam must be an idiot.” But Mark Twain may now add a much more glorious instance to his string of trophies. The Saturday Review, in its number of October 8th, reviews his book of travels, which has been republished in England, and reviews it seriously. We can imagine the delight of the humorist in reading this tribute to his power; and indeed it is so amusing in itself that he can hardly do better than reproduce the article in full in his next monthly Memoranda.


(Publishing the above paragraph thus, gives me a sort of authority for reproducing the Saturday Review's article in full in these pages. I dearly wanted to do it, for I cannot write anything half so delicious myself. If I had a cast-iron dog that could read this English criticism and preserve his austerity, I would drive him off the door-step.)

(From the London “Saturday Review.”)

REVIEWS OF NEW BOOKS

The Innocents Abroad. A Book of Travels. By Mark Twain. London: Hotten, publisher. 1870.

Lord Macaulay died too soon. We never felt this so deeply as when we finished the last chapter of the above-named extravagant work. Macaulay died too soon—for none but he could mete out complete and comprehensive justice to the insolence, the impertinence, the presumption, the mendacity, and, above all, the majestic ignorance of this author.

To say that The Innocents Abroad is a curious book, would be to use the faintest language—would be to speak of the Matterhorn as a neat elevation or of Niagara as being “nice” or “pretty.” “Curious” is too tame a word wherewith to describe the imposing insanity of this work. There is no word that is large enough or long enough. Let us, therefore, photograph a passing glimpse of book and author, and trust the rest to the reader. Let the cultivated English student of human nature picture to himself this Mark Twain as a person capable of doing the following-described things—and not only doing them, but with incredible innocence printing them calmly and tranquilly in a book. For instance:

He states that he entered a hair-dresser's in Paris to get shaved, and the first “_rake_” the barber gave him with his razor it loosened his “_hide_” and lifted him out of the chair.

This is unquestionably exaggerated. In Florence he was so annoyed by beggars that he pretends to have seized and eaten one in a frantic spirit of revenge. There is, of course, no truth in this. He gives at full length a theatrical program seventeen or eighteen hundred years old, which he professes to have found in the ruins of the Coliseum, among the dirt and mold and rubbish. It is a sufficient comment upon this statement to remark that even a cast-iron program would not have lasted so long under such circumstances. In Greece he plainly betrays both fright and flight upon one occasion, but with frozen effrontery puts the latter in this falsely tamed form: “We sidled toward the Piraeus.” “Sidled,” indeed! He does not hesitate to intimate that at Ephesus, when his mule strayed from the proper course, he got down, took him under his arm, carried him to the road again, pointed him right, remounted, and went to sleep contentedly till it was time to restore the beast to the path once more. He states that a growing youth among his ship's passengers was in the constant habit of appeasing his hunger with soap and oakum between meals. In Palestine he tells of ants that came eleven miles to spend the summer in the desert and brought their provisions with them; yet he shows by his description of the country that the feat was an impossibility. He mentions, as if it were the most commonplace of matters, that he cut a Moslem in two in broad daylight in Jerusalem, with Godfrey de Bouillon's sword, and would have shed more blood if he had had a graveyard of his own. These statements are unworthy a moment's attention. Mr. Twain or any other foreigner who did such a thing in Jerusalem would be mobbed, and would infallibly lose his life. But why go on? Why repeat more of his audacious and exasperating falsehoods? Let us close fittingly with this one: he affirms that “in the mosque of St. Sophia at Constantinople I got my feet so stuck up with a complication of gums, slime, and general impurity, that I wore out more than two thousand pair of bootjacks getting my boots off that night, and even then some Christian hide peeled off with them.” It is monstrous. Such statements are simply lies—there is no other name for them. Will the reader longer marvel at the brutal ignorance that pervades the American nation when we tell him that we are informed upon perfectly good authority that this extravagant compilation of falsehoods, this exhaustless mine of stupendous lies, this Innocents Abroad, has actually been adopted by the schools and colleges of several of the states as a text-book!

But if his falsehoods are distressing, his innocence and his ignorance are enough to make one burn the book and despise the author. In one place he was so appalled at the sudden spectacle of a murdered man, unveiled by the moonlight, that he jumped out of the window, going through sash and all, and then remarks with the most childlike simplicity that he “was not scared, but was considerably agitated.” It puts us out of patience to note that the simpleton is densely unconscious that Lucrezia Borgia ever existed off the stage. He is vulgarly ignorant of all foreign languages, but is frank enough to criticize, the Italians' use of their own tongue. He says they spell the name of their great painter “Vinci, but pronounce it Vinchy”—and then adds with a naivete possible only to helpless ignorance, “foreigners always spell better than they pronounce.” In another place he commits the bald absurdity of putting the phrase “tare an ouns” into an Italian's mouth. In Rome he unhesitatingly believes the legend that St. Philip Neri's heart was so inflamed with divine love that it burst his ribs—believes it wholly because an author with a learned list of university degrees strung after his name endorses it—“otherwise,” says this gentle idiot, “I should have felt a curiosity to know what Philip had for dinner.” Our author makes a long, fatiguing journey to the Grotto del Cane on purpose to test its poisoning powers on a dog—got elaborately ready for the experiment, and then discovered that he had no dog. A wiser person would have kept such a thing discreetly to himself, but with this harmless creature everything comes out. He hurts his foot in a rut two thousand years old in exhumed Pompeii, and presently, when staring at one of the cinder-like corpses unearthed in the next square, conceives the idea that maybe it is the remains of the ancient Street Commissioner, and straightway his horror softens down to a sort of chirpy contentment with the condition of things. In Damascus he visits the well of Ananias, three thousand years old, and is as surprised and delighted as a child to find that the water is “as pure and fresh as if the well had been dug yesterday.” In the Holy Land he gags desperately at the hard Arabic and Hebrew Biblical names, and finally concludes to call them Baldwinsville, Williamsburgh, and so on, “for convenience of spelling.”

We have thus spoken freely of this man's stupefying simplicity and innocence, but we cannot deal similarly with his colossal ignorance. We do not know where to begin. And if we knew where to begin, we certainly would not know where to leave off. We will give one specimen, and one only. He did not know, until he got to Rome, that Michael Angelo was dead! And then, instead of crawling away and hiding his shameful ignorance somewhere, he proceeds to express a pious, grateful sort of satisfaction that he is gone and out of his troubles!

No, the reader may seek out the author's exhibition of his uncultivation for himself. The book is absolutely dangerous, considering the magnitude and variety of its misstatements, and the convincing confidence with which they are made. And yet it is a text-book in the schools of America.

The poor blunderer mouses among the sublime creations of the Old Masters, trying to acquire the elegant proficiency in art-knowledge, which he has a groping sort of comprehension is a proper thing for a traveled man to be able to display. But what is the manner of his study? And what is the progress he achieves? To what extent does he familiarize himself with the great pictures of Italy, and what degree of appreciation does he arrive at? Read:

“When we see a monk going about with a lion and looking up into heaven, we know that that is St. Mark. When we see a monk with a book and a pen, looking tranquilly up to heaven, trying to think of a word, we know that that is St. Matthew. When we see a monk sitting on a rock, looking tranquilly up to heaven, with a human skull beside him, and without other baggage, we know that that is St. Jerome. Because we know that he always went flying light in the matter of baggage. When we see other monks looking tranquilly up to heaven, but having no trade-mark, we always ask who those parties are. We do this because we humbly wish to learn.”

He then enumerates the thousands and thousand of copies of these several pictures which he has seen, and adds with accustomed simplicity that he feels encouraged to believe that when he has seen “Some More” of each, and had a larger experience, he will eventually “begin to take an absorbing interest in them”—the vulgar boor.

That we have shown this to be a remarkable book, we think no one will deny. That it is a pernicious book to place in the hands of the confiding and uniformed, we think we have also shown. That the book is a deliberate and wicked creation of a diseased mind, is apparent upon every page. Having placed our judgment thus upon record, let us close with what charity we can, by remarking that even in this volume there is some good to be found; for whenever the author talks of his own country and lets Europe alone, he never fails to make himself interesting, and not only interesting but instructive. No one can read without benefit his occasional chapters and paragraphs, about life in the gold and silver mines of California and Nevada; about the Indians of the plains and deserts of the West, and their cannibalism; about the raising of vegetables in kegs of gunpowder by the aid of two or three teaspoons of guano; about the moving of small arms from place to place at night in wheelbarrows to avoid taxes; and about a sort of cows and mules in the Humboldt mines, that climb down chimneys and disturb the people at night. These matters are not only new, but are well worth knowing. It is a pity the author did not put in more of the same kind. His book is well written and is exceedingly entertaining, and so it just barely escaped being quite valuable also.

(One month later)

Latterly I have received several letters, and see a number of newspaper paragraphs, all upon a certain subject, and all of about the same tenor. I here give honest specimens. One is from a New York paper, one is from a letter from an old friend, and one is from a letter from a New York publisher who is a stranger to me. I humbly endeavor to make these bits toothsome with the remark that the article they are praising (which appeared in the December Galaxy, and pretended to be a criticism from the London Saturday Review on my Innocents Abroad) was written by myself, every line of it:

The Herald says the richest thing out is the “serious critique” in the London Saturday Review, on Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad. We thought before we read it that it must be “serious,” as everybody said so, and were even ready to shed a few tears; but since perusing it, we are bound to confess that next to Mark Twain's “Jumping Frog” it's the finest bit of humor and sarcasm that we've come across in many a day.


(I do not get a compliment like that every day.)

I used to think that your writings were pretty good, but after reading the criticism in The Galaxy from the London Review, have discovered what an ass I must have been. If suggestions are in order, mine is, that you put that article in your next edition of the Innocents, as an extra chapter, if you are not afraid to put your own humor in competition with it. It is as rich a thing as I ever read.


(Which is strong commendation from a book publisher.)

The London Reviewer, my friend, is not the stupid, “serious” creature he pretends to be, I think; but, on the contrary, has a keen appreciation and enjoyment of your book. As I read his article in The Galaxy, I could imagine him giving vent to many a hearty laugh. But he is writing for Catholics and Established Church people, and high-toned, antiquated, conservative gentility, whom it is a delight to him to help you shock, while he pretends to shake his head with owlish density. He is a magnificent humorist himself.


(Now that is graceful and handsome. I take off my hat to my life-long friend and comrade, and with my feet together and my fingers spread over my heart, I say, in the language of Alabama, “You do me proud.”)

I stand guilty of the authorship of the article, but I did not mean any harm. I saw by an item in the Boston Advertiser that a solemn, serious critique on the English edition of my book had appeared in the London Saturday Review, and the idea of such a literary breakfast by a stolid, ponderous British ogre of the quill was too much for a naturally weak virtue, and I went home and burlesqued it—reveled in it, I may say. I never saw a copy of the real Saturday Review criticism until after my burlesque was written and mailed to the printer. But when I did get hold of a copy, I found it to be vulgar, awkwardly written, ill-natured, and entirely serious and in earnest. The gentleman who wrote the newspaper paragraph above quoted had not been misled as to its character.

If any man doubts my word now, I will kill him. No, I will not kill him; I will win his money. I will bet him twenty to one, and let any New York publisher hold the stakes, that the statements I have above made as to the authorship of the article in question are entirely true. Perhaps I may get wealthy at this, for I am willing to take all the bets that offer; and if a man wants larger odds, I will give him all he requires. But he ought to find out whether I am betting on what is termed “a sure thing” or not before he ventures his money, and he can do that by going to a public library and examining the London Saturday Review of October 8th, which contains the real critique.

Bless me, some people thought that I was the “sold” person!

P.S.—I cannot resist the temptation to toss in this most savory thing of all—this easy, graceful, philosophical disquisition, with his happy, chirping confidence. It is from the Cincinnati Enquirer:

Nothing is more uncertain than the value of a fine cigar. Nine smokers out of ten would prefer an ordinary domestic article, three for a quarter, to a fifty-cent Partaga, if kept in ignorance of the cost of the latter. The flavor of the Partaga is too delicate for palates that have been accustomed to Connecticut seed leaf. So it is with humor. The finer it is in quality, the more danger of its not being recognized at all. Even Mark Twain has been taken in by an English review of his Innocents Abroad. Mark Twain is by no means a coarse humorist, but the Englishman's humor is so much finer than his, that he mistakes it for solid earnest, and “larfs most consumedly.”

A man who cannot learn stands in his own light. Hereafter, when I write an article which I know to be good, but which I may have reason to fear will not, in some quarters, be considered to amount to much, coming from an American, I will aver that an Englishman wrote it and that it is copied from a London journal. And then I will occupy a back seat and enjoy the cordial applause.

(Still later)

Mark Twain at last sees that the Saturday Review's criticism of his Innocents Abroad was not serious, and he is intensely mortified at the thought of having been so badly sold. He takes the only course left him, and in the last Galaxy claims that he wrote the criticism himself, and published it in The Galaxy to sell the public. This is ingenious, but unfortunately it is not true. If any of our readers will take the trouble to call at this office we shall show them the original article in the Saturday Review of October 8th, which, on comparison, will be found to be identical with the one published in The Galaxy. The best thing for Mark to do will be to admit that he was sold, and say no more about it.


The above is from the Cincinnati Enquirer, and is a falsehood. Come to the proof. If the Enquirer people, through any agent, will produce at The Galaxy office a London Saturday Review of October 8th, containing an article which, on comparison, will be found to be identical with the one published in The Galaxy, I will pay to that agent five hundred dollars cash. Moreover, if at any specified time I fail to produce at the same place a copy of the London Saturday Review of October 8th, containing a lengthy criticism upon the Innocents Abroad, entirely different, in every paragraph and sentence, from the one I published in The Galaxy, I will pay to the Enquirer agent another five hundred dollars cash. I offer Sheldon & Co., publishers, 500 Broadway, New York, as my “backers.” Any one in New York, authorized by the Enquirer, will receive prompt attention. It is an easy and profitable way for the Enquirer people to prove that they have not uttered a pitiful, deliberate falsehood in the above paragraphs. Will they swallow that falsehood ignominiously, or will they send an agent to The Galaxy office. I think the Cincinnati Enquirer must be edited by children.
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Re: The $30,000 Bequest, and Other Stories, by Mark Twain

Postby admin » Wed Apr 04, 2018 6:51 pm

A LETTER TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY

Riverdale-on-the-Hudson, OCTOBER 15, 1902.

The Hon. The Secretary Of The Treasury,Washington, D. C.:

Sir,—Prices for the customary kinds of winter fuel having reached an altitude which puts them out of the reach of literary persons in straitened circumstances, I desire to place with you the following order:

Forty-five tons best old dry government bonds, suitable for furnace, gold 7 per cents., 1864, preferred.

Twelve tons early greenbacks, range size, suitable for cooking.

Eight barrels seasoned 25 and 50 cent postal currency, vintage of 1866, eligible for kindlings.

Please deliver with all convenient despatch at my house in Riverdale at lowest rates for spot cash, and send bill to

Your obliged servant,

Mark Twain, Who will be very grateful, and will vote right.
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Re: The $30,000 Bequest, and Other Stories, by Mark Twain

Postby admin » Wed Apr 04, 2018 6:54 pm

AMENDED OBITUARIES

TO THE EDITOR:

Sir,—I am approaching seventy; it is in sight; it is only three years away. Necessarily, I must go soon. It is but matter-of-course wisdom, then, that I should begin to set my worldly house in order now, so that it may be done calmly and with thoroughness, in place of waiting until the last day, when, as we have often seen, the attempt to set both houses in order at the same time has been marred by the necessity for haste and by the confusion and waste of time arising from the inability of the notary and the ecclesiastic to work together harmoniously, taking turn about and giving each other friendly assistance—not perhaps in fielding, which could hardly be expected, but at least in the minor offices of keeping game and umpiring; by consequence of which conflict of interests and absence of harmonious action a draw has frequently resulted where this ill-fortune could not have happened if the houses had been set in order one at a time and hurry avoided by beginning in season, and giving to each the amount of time fairly and justly proper to it.

Image

In setting my earthly house in order I find it of moment that I should attend in person to one or two matters which men in my position have long had the habit of leaving wholly to others, with consequences often most regrettable. I wish to speak of only one of these matters at this time: Obituaries. Of necessity, an Obituary is a thing which cannot be so judiciously edited by any hand as by that of the subject of it. In such a work it is not the Facts that are of chief importance, but the light which the obituarist shall throw upon them, the meaning which he shall dress them in, the conclusions which he shall draw from them, and the judgments which he shall deliver upon them. The Verdicts, you understand: that is the danger-line.

In considering this matter, in view of my approaching change, it has seemed to me wise to take such measures as may be feasible, to acquire, by courtesy of the press, access to my standing obituaries, with the privilege—if this is not asking too much—of editing, not their Facts, but their Verdicts. This, not for the present profit, further than as concerns my family, but as a favorable influence usable on the Other Side, where there are some who are not friendly to me.

With this explanation of my motives, I will now ask you of your courtesy to make an appeal for me to the public press. It is my desire that such journals and periodicals as have obituaries of me lying in their pigeonholes, with a view to sudden use some day, will not wait longer, but will publish them now, and kindly send me a marked copy. My address is simply New York City—I have no other that is permanent and not transient.

I will correct them—not the Facts, but the Verdicts—striking out such clauses as could have a deleterious influence on the Other Side, and replacing them with clauses of a more judicious character. I should, of course, expect to pay double rates for both the omissions and the substitutions; and I should also expect to pay quadruple rates for all obituaries which proved to be rightly and wisely worded in the originals, thus requiring no emendations at all.

It is my desire to leave these Amended Obituaries neatly bound behind me as a perennial consolation and entertainment to my family, and as an heirloom which shall have a mournful but definite commercial value for my remote posterity.

I beg, sir, that you will insert this Advertisement (1t-eow, agate, inside), and send the bill to

Yours very respectfully.

Mark Twain.

P.S.—For the best Obituary—one suitable for me to read in public, and calculated to inspire regret—I desire to offer a Prize, consisting of a Portrait of me done entirely by myself in pen and ink without previous instructions. The ink warranted to be the kind used by the very best artists.
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Re: The $30,000 Bequest, and Other Stories, by Mark Twain

Postby admin » Wed Apr 04, 2018 6:54 pm

A MONUMENT TO ADAM

Some one has revealed to the Tribune that I once suggested to Rev. Thomas K. Beecher, of Elmira, New York, that we get up a monument to Adam, and that Mr. Beecher favored the project. There is more to it than that. The matter started as a joke, but it came somewhat near to materializing.

It is long ago—thirty years. Mr. Darwin's Descent of Man has been in print five or six years, and the storm of indignation raised by it was still raging in pulpits and periodicals. In tracing the genesis of the human race back to its sources, Mr. Darwin had left Adam out altogether. We had monkeys, and “missing links,” and plenty of other kinds of ancestors, but no Adam. Jesting with Mr. Beecher and other friends in Elmira, I said there seemed to be a likelihood that the world would discard Adam and accept the monkey, and that in the course of time Adam's very name would be forgotten in the earth; therefore this calamity ought to be averted; a monument would accomplish this, and Elmira ought not to waste this honorable opportunity to do Adam a favor and herself a credit.

Then the unexpected happened. Two bankers came forward and took hold of the matter—not for fun, not for sentiment, but because they saw in the monument certain commercial advantages for the town. The project had seemed gently humorous before—it was more than that now, with this stern business gravity injected into it. The bankers discussed the monument with me. We met several times. They proposed an indestructible memorial, to cost twenty-five thousand dollars. The insane oddity of a monument set up in a village to preserve a name that would outlast the hills and the rocks without any such help, would advertise Elmira to the ends of the earth—and draw custom. It would be the only monument on the planet to Adam, and in the matter of interest and impressiveness could never have a rival until somebody should set up a monument to the Milky Way.

People would come from every corner of the globe and stop off to look at it, no tour of the world would be complete that left out Adam's monument. Elmira would be a Mecca; there would be pilgrim ships at pilgrim rates, pilgrim specials on the continent's railways; libraries would be written about the monument, every tourist would kodak it, models of it would be for sale everywhere in the earth, its form would become as familiar as the figure of Napoleon.

One of the bankers subscribed five thousand dollars, and I think the other one subscribed half as much, but I do not remember with certainty now whether that was the figure or not. We got designs made—some of them came from Paris.

In the beginning—as a detail of the project when it was yet a joke—I had framed a humble and beseeching and perfervid petition to Congress begging the government to build the monument, as a testimony of the Great Republic's gratitude to the Father of the Human Race and as a token of her loyalty to him in this dark day of humiliation when his older children were doubting and deserting him. It seemed to me that this petition ought to be presented, now—it would be widely and feelingly abused and ridiculed and cursed, and would advertise our scheme and make our ground-floor stock go off briskly. So I sent it to General Joseph R. Hawley, who was then in the House, and he said he would present it. But he did not do it. I think he explained that when he came to read it he was afraid of it: it was too serious, to gushy, too sentimental—the House might take it for earnest.

We ought to have carried out our monument scheme; we could have managed it without any great difficulty, and Elmira would now be the most celebrated town in the universe.

Very recently I began to build a book in which one of the minor characters touches incidentally upon a project for a monument to Adam, and now the Tribune has come upon a trace of the forgotten jest of thirty years ago. Apparently mental telegraphy is still in business. It is odd; but the freaks of mental telegraphy are usually odd.
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Re: The $30,000 Bequest, and Other Stories, by Mark Twain

Postby admin » Wed Apr 04, 2018 6:55 pm

A HUMANE WORD FROM SATAN

(The following letter, signed by Satan and purporting to come from him, we have reason to believe was not written by him, but by Mark Twain.—Editor.)

TO THE EDITOR OF HARPER'S WEEKLY:

Dear Sir and Kinsman,—Let us have done with this frivolous talk. The American Board accepts contributions from me every year: then why shouldn't it from Mr. Rockefeller? In all the ages, three-fourths of the support of the great charities has been conscience-money, as my books will show: then what becomes of the sting when that term is applied to Mr. Rockefeller's gift? The American Board's trade is financed mainly from the graveyards. Bequests, you understand. Conscience-money. Confession of an old crime and deliberate perpetration of a new one; for deceased's contribution is a robbery of his heirs. Shall the Board decline bequests because they stand for one of these offenses every time and generally for both?

Allow me to continue. The charge most persistently and resentfully and remorselessly dwelt upon is that Mr. Rockefeller's contribution is incurably tainted by perjury—perjury proved against him in the courts. It makes us smile—down in my place! Because there isn't a rich man in your vast city who doesn't perjure himself every year before the tax board. They are all caked with perjury, many layers thick. Iron-clad, so to speak. If there is one that isn't, I desire to acquire him for my museum, and will pay Dinosaur rates. Will you say it isn't infraction of the law, but only annual evasion of it? Comfort yourselves with that nice distinction if you like—for the present. But by and by, when you arrive, I will show you something interesting: a whole hell-full of evaders! Sometimes a frank law-breaker turns up elsewhere, but I get those others every time.

To return to my muttons. I wish you to remember that my rich perjurers are contributing to the American Board with frequency: it is money filched from the sworn-off personal tax; therefore it is the wages of sin; therefore it is my money; therefore it is I that contribute it; and, finally, it is therefore as I have said: since the Board daily accepts contributions from me, why should it decline them from Mr. Rockefeller, who is as good as I am, let the courts say what they may?

SATAN.
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Re: The $30,000 Bequest, and Other Stories, by Mark Twain

Postby admin » Wed Apr 04, 2018 6:57 pm

INTRODUCTION TO “THE NEW GUIDE OF THE CONVERSATION IN PORTUGUESE AND ENGLISH”
by Pedro Carolino

In this world of uncertainties, there is, at any rate, one thing which may be pretty confidently set down as a certainty: and that is, that this celebrated little phrase-book will never die while the English language lasts. Its delicious unconscious ridiculousness, and its enchanting naivete, are as supreme and unapproachable, in their way, as are Shakespeare's sublimities. Whatsoever is perfect in its kind, in literature, is imperishable: nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect, it must and will stand alone: its immortality is secure.

It is one of the smallest books in the world, but few big books have received such wide attention, and been so much pondered by the grave and learned, and so much discussed and written about by the thoughtful, the thoughtless, the wise, and the foolish. Long notices of it have appeared, from time to time, in the great English reviews, and in erudite and authoritative philological periodicals; and it has been laughed at, danced upon, and tossed in a blanket by nearly every newspaper and magazine in the English-speaking world. Every scribbler, almost, has had his little fling at it, at one time or another; I had mine fifteen years ago. The book gets out of print, every now and then, and one ceases to hear of it for a season; but presently the nations and near and far colonies of our tongue and lineage call for it once more, and once more it issues from some London or Continental or American press, and runs a new course around the globe, wafted on its way by the wind of a world's laughter.

Many persons have believed that this book's miraculous stupidities were studied and disingenuous; but no one can read the volume carefully through and keep that opinion. It was written in serious good faith and deep earnestness, by an honest and upright idiot who believed he knew something of the English language, and could impart his knowledge to others. The amplest proof of this crops out somewhere or other upon each and every page. There are sentences in the book which could have been manufactured by a man in his right mind, and with an intelligent and deliberate purposes to seem innocently ignorant; but there are other sentences, and paragraphs, which no mere pretended ignorance could ever achieve—nor yet even the most genuine and comprehensive ignorance, when unbacked by inspiration.

It is not a fraud who speaks in the following paragraph of the author's Preface, but a good man, an honest man, a man whose conscience is at rest, a man who believes he has done a high and worthy work for his nation and his generation, and is well pleased with his performance:

We expect then, who the little book (for the care what we wrote him, and for her typographical correction) that may be worth the acceptation of the studious persons, and especially of the Youth, at which we dedicate him particularly.

One cannot open this book anywhere and not find richness. To prove that this is true, I will open it at random and copy the page I happen to stumble upon. Here is the result:

DIALOGUE 16

FOR TO SEE THE TOWN


Anothony, go to accompany they gentilsmen, do they see the town.

We won't to see all that is it remarquable here.

Come with me, if you please. I shall not folget nothing what can to merit your attention. Here we are near to cathedral; will you come in there?

We will first to see him in oudside, after we shall go in there for to look the interior.

Admire this master piece gothic architecture's.

The chasing of all they figures is astonishing' indeed.

The cupola and the nave are not less curious to see.

What is this palace how I see yonder?

It is the town hall.

And this tower here at this side?

It is the Observatory.

The bridge is very fine, it have ten arches, and is constructed of free stone.

The streets are very layed out by line and too paved.

What is the circuit of this town?

Two leagues.

There is it also hospitals here?

It not fail them.

What are then the edifices the worthest to have seen?

It is the arsnehal, the spectacle's hall, the Cusiomhouse, and the Purse.

We are going too see the others monuments such that the public pawnbroker's office, the plants garden's, the money office's, the library.

That it shall be for another day; we are tired.

DIALOGUE 17

TO INFORM ONE'SELF OF A PERSON


How is that gentilman who you did speak by and by?

Is a German.

I did think him Englishman.

He is of the Saxony side.

He speak the french very well.

Tough he is German, he speak so much well italyan, french, spanish and english, that among the Italyans, they believe him Italyan, he speak the frenche as the Frenches himselves. The Spanishesmen believe him Spanishing, and the Englishes, Englishman. It is difficult to enjoy well so much several languages.

The last remark contains a general truth; but it ceases to be a truth when one contracts it and applies it to an individual—provided that that individual is the author of this book, Senhor Pedro Carolino. I am sure I should not find it difficult “to enjoy well so much several languages”—or even a thousand of them—if he did the translating for me from the originals into his ostensible English.


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Re: The $30,000 Bequest, and Other Stories, by Mark Twain

Postby admin » Wed Apr 04, 2018 6:57 pm

ADVICE TO LITTLE GIRLS

Good little girls ought not to make mouths at their teachers for every trifling offense. This retaliation should only be resorted to under peculiarly aggravated circumstances.

If you have nothing but a rag-doll stuffed with sawdust, while one of your more fortunate little playmates has a costly China one, you should treat her with a show of kindness nevertheless. And you ought not to attempt to make a forcible swap with her unless your conscience would justify you in it, and you know you are able to do it.

You ought never to take your little brother's “chewing-gum” away from him by main force; it is better to rope him in with the promise of the first two dollars and a half you find floating down the river on a grindstone. In the artless simplicity natural to this time of life, he will regard it as a perfectly fair transaction. In all ages of the world this eminently plausible fiction has lured the obtuse infant to financial ruin and disaster.

If at any time you find it necessary to correct your brother, do not correct him with mud—never, on any account, throw mud at him, because it will spoil his clothes. It is better to scald him a little, for then you obtain desirable results. You secure his immediate attention to the lessons you are inculcating, and at the same time your hot water will have a tendency to move impurities from his person, and possibly the skin, in spots.

If your mother tells you to do a thing, it is wrong to reply that you won't. It is better and more becoming to intimate that you will do as she bids you, and then afterward act quietly in the matter according to the dictates of your best judgment.

You should ever bear in mind that it is to your kind parents that you are indebted for your food, and for the privilege of staying home from school when you let on that you are sick. Therefore you ought to respect their little prejudices, and humor their little whims, and put up with their little foibles until they get to crowding you too much.

Good little girls always show marked deference for the aged. You ought never to “sass” old people unless they “sass” you first.
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Re: The $30,000 Bequest, and Other Stories, by Mark Twain

Postby admin » Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:00 pm

POST-MORTEM POETRY (1)

In Philadelphia they have a custom which it would be pleasant to see adopted throughout the land. It is that of appending to published death-notices a little verse or two of comforting poetry. Any one who is in the habit of reading the daily Philadelphia Ledger must frequently be touched by these plaintive tributes to extinguished worth. In Philadelphia, the departure of a child is a circumstance which is not more surely followed by a burial than by the accustomed solacing poesy in the Public Ledger. In that city death loses half its terror because the knowledge of its presence comes thus disguised in the sweet drapery of verse. For instance, in a late Ledger I find the following (I change the surname):

DIED

Hawks.—On the 17th inst., Clara, the daughter of Ephraim and Laura Hawks, aged 21 months and 2 days.

That merry shout no more I hear,
No laughing child I see,
No little arms are around my neck,
No feet upon my knee;

No kisses drop upon my cheek,
These lips are sealed to me.
Dear Lord, how could I give Clara up
To any but to Thee?


A child thus mourned could not die wholly discontented. From the Ledger of the same date I make the following extract, merely changing the surname, as before:

Becket.—On Sunday morning, 19th inst., John P., infant son of George and Julia Becket, aged 1 year, 6 months, and 15 days.

That merry shout no more I hear,
No laughing child I see,
No little arms are round my neck,
No feet upon my knee;

No kisses drop upon my cheek;
These lips are sealed to me.
Dear Lord, how could I give Johnnie up
To any but to Thee?


The similarity of the emotions as produced in the mourners in these two instances is remarkably evidenced by the singular similarity of thought which they experienced, and the surprising coincidence of language used by them to give it expression.

In the same journal, of the same date, I find the following (surname suppressed, as before):

Wagner.—On the 10th inst., Ferguson G., the son of William L. and Martha Theresa Wagner, aged 4 weeks and 1 day.

That merry shout no more I hear,
No laughing child I see,
No little arms are round my neck,
No feet upon my knee;

No kisses drop upon my cheek,
These lips are sealed to me.
Dear Lord, how could I give Ferguson up
To any but to Thee?


It is strange what power the reiteration of an essentially poetical thought has upon one's feelings. When we take up the Ledger and read the poetry about little Clara, we feel an unaccountable depression of the spirits. When we drift further down the column and read the poetry about little Johnnie, the depression and spirits acquires an added emphasis, and we experience tangible suffering. When we saunter along down the column further still and read the poetry about little Ferguson, the word torture but vaguely suggests the anguish that rends us.

In the Ledger (same copy referred to above) I find the following (I alter surname, as usual):

Welch.—On the 5th inst., Mary C. Welch, wife of William B. Welch, and daughter of Catharine and George W. Markland, in the 29th year of her age.

A mother dear, a mother kind,
Has gone and left us all behind.
Cease to weep, for tears are vain,
Mother dear is out of pain.

Farewell, husband, children dear,
Serve thy God with filial fear,
And meet me in the land above,
Where all is peace, and joy, and love.


What could be sweeter than that? No collection of salient facts (without reduction to tabular form) could be more succinctly stated than is done in the first stanza by the surviving relatives, and no more concise and comprehensive program of farewells, post-mortuary general orders, etc., could be framed in any form than is done in verse by deceased in the last stanza. These things insensibly make us wiser and tenderer, and better. Another extract:

Ball.—On the morning of the 15th inst., Mary E., daughter of John and Sarah F. Ball.

'Tis sweet to rest in lively hope
That when my change shall come
Angels will hover round my bed,
To waft my spirit home.


The following is apparently the customary form for heads of families:

Burns.—On the 20th inst., Michael Burns, aged 40 years.

Dearest father, thou hast left us,
Here thy loss we deeply feel;
But 'tis God that has bereft us,
He can all our sorrows heal.

Funeral at 2 o'clock sharp.


There is something very simple and pleasant about the following, which, in Philadelphia, seems to be the usual form for consumptives of long standing. (It deplores four distinct cases in the single copy of the Ledger which lies on the Memoranda editorial table):

Bromley.—On the 29th inst., of consumption, Philip Bromley, in the 50th year of his age.

Affliction sore long time he bore,
Physicians were in vain—
Till God at last did hear him mourn,
And eased him of his pain.

That friend whom death from us has torn,
We did not think so soon to part;
An anxious care now sinks the thorn
Still deeper in our bleeding heart.


This beautiful creation loses nothing by repetition. On the contrary, the oftener one sees it in the Ledger, the more grand and awe-inspiring it seems.

With one more extract I will close:

Doble.—On the 4th inst., Samuel Pervil Worthington Doble, aged 4 days.

Our little Sammy's gone,
His tiny spirit's fled;
Our little boy we loved so dear
Lies sleeping with the dead.

A tear within a father's eye,
A mother's aching heart,
Can only tell the agony
How hard it is to part.


Could anything be more plaintive than that, without requiring further concessions of grammar? Could anything be likely to do more toward reconciling deceased to circumstances, and making him willing to go? Perhaps not. The power of song can hardly be estimated. There is an element about some poetry which is able to make even physical suffering and death cheerful things to contemplate and consummations to be desired. This element is present in the mortuary poetry of Philadelphia, and in a noticeable degree of development.

The custom I have been treating of is one that should be adopted in all the cities of the land.

It is said that once a man of small consequence died, and the Rev. T. K. Beecher was asked to preach the funeral sermon—a man who abhors the lauding of people, either dead or alive, except in dignified and simple language, and then only for merits which they actually possessed or possess, not merits which they merely ought to have possessed. The friends of the deceased got up a stately funeral. They must have had misgivings that the corpse might not be praised strongly enough, for they prepared some manuscript headings and notes in which nothing was left unsaid on that subject that a fervid imagination and an unabridged dictionary could compile, and these they handed to the minister as he entered the pulpit. They were merely intended as suggestions, and so the friends were filled with consternation when the minister stood in the pulpit and proceeded to read off the curious odds and ends in ghastly detail and in a loud voice! And their consternation solidified to petrification when he paused at the end, contemplated the multitude reflectively, and then said, impressively:

“The man would be a fool who tried to add anything to that. Let us pray!”

And with the same strict adhesion to truth it can be said that the man would be a fool who tried to add anything to the following transcendent obituary poem. There is something so innocent, so guileless, so complacent, so unearthly serene and self-satisfied about this peerless “hog-wash,” that the man must be made of stone who can read it without a dulcet ecstasy creeping along his backbone and quivering in his marrow. There is no need to say that this poem is genuine and in earnest, for its proofs are written all over its face. An ingenious scribbler might imitate it after a fashion, but Shakespeare himself could not counterfeit it. It is noticeable that the country editor who published it did not know that it was a treasure and the most perfect thing of its kind that the storehouses and museums of literature could show. He did not dare to say no to the dread poet—for such a poet must have been something of an apparition—but he just shoveled it into his paper anywhere that came handy, and felt ashamed, and put that disgusted “Published by Request” over it, and hoped that his subscribers would overlook it or not feel an impulse to read it:

(Published by Request)

LINES

Composed on the death of Samuel and Catharine Belknap's children

by M. A. Glaze

Friends and neighbors all draw near,
And listen to what I have to say;
And never leave your children dear
When they are small, and go away.

But always think of that sad fate,
That happened in year of '63;
Four children with a house did burn,
Think of their awful agony.

Their mother she had gone away,
And left them there alone to stay;
The house took fire and down did burn;
Before their mother did return.

Their piteous cry the neighbors heard,
And then the cry of fire was given;
But, ah! before they could them reach,
Their little spirits had flown to heaven.

Their father he to war had gone,
And on the battle-field was slain;
But little did he think when he went away,
But what on earth they would meet again.

The neighbors often told his wife
Not to leave his children there,
Unless she got some one to stay,
And of the little ones take care.

The oldest he was years not six,
And the youngest only eleven months old,
But often she had left them there alone,
As, by the neighbors, I have been told.

How can she bear to see the place.
Where she so oft has left them there,
Without a single one to look to them,
Or of the little ones to take good care.

Oh, can she look upon the spot,
Whereunder their little burnt bones lay,
But what she thinks she hears them say,
''Twas God had pity, and took us on high.'

And there may she kneel down and pray,
And ask God her to forgive;
And she may lead a different life
While she on earth remains to live.

Her husband and her children too,
God has took from pain and woe.
May she reform and mend her ways,
That she may also to them go.

And when it is God's holy will,
O, may she be prepared
To meet her God and friends in peace,
And leave this world of care.


1. Written in 1870.
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Re: The $30,000 Bequest, and Other Stories, by Mark Twain

Postby admin » Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:00 pm

THE DANGER OF LYING IN BED

The man in the ticket-office said:

“Have an accident insurance ticket, also?”

“No,” I said, after studying the matter over a little. “No, I believe not; I am going to be traveling by rail all day today. However, tomorrow I don't travel. Give me one for tomorrow.”

The man looked puzzled. He said:

“But it is for accident insurance, and if you are going to travel by rail—”

“If I am going to travel by rail I sha'n't need it. Lying at home in bed is the thing I am afraid of.”

I had been looking into this matter. Last year I traveled twenty thousand miles, almost entirely by rail; the year before, I traveled over twenty-five thousand miles, half by sea and half by rail; and the year before that I traveled in the neighborhood of ten thousand miles, exclusively by rail. I suppose if I put in all the little odd journeys here and there, I may say I have traveled sixty thousand miles during the three years I have mentioned. And never an accident.

For a good while I said to myself every morning: “Now I have escaped thus far, and so the chances are just that much increased that I shall catch it this time. I will be shrewd, and buy an accident ticket.” And to a dead moral certainty I drew a blank, and went to bed that night without a joint started or a bone splintered. I got tired of that sort of daily bother, and fell to buying accident tickets that were good for a month. I said to myself, “A man can't buy thirty blanks in one bundle.”

But I was mistaken. There was never a prize in the the lot. I could read of railway accidents every day—the newspaper atmosphere was foggy with them; but somehow they never came my way. I found I had spent a good deal of money in the accident business, and had nothing to show for it. My suspicions were aroused, and I began to hunt around for somebody that had won in this lottery. I found plenty of people who had invested, but not an individual that had ever had an accident or made a cent. I stopped buying accident tickets and went to ciphering. The result was astounding. The peril lay not in traveling, but in staying at home.

I hunted up statistics, and was amazed to find that after all the glaring newspaper headlines concerning railroad disasters, less than three hundred people had really lost their lives by those disasters in the preceding twelve months. The Erie road was set down as the most murderous in the list. It had killed forty-six—or twenty-six, I do not exactly remember which, but I know the number was double that of any other road. But the fact straightway suggested itself that the Erie was an immensely long road, and did more business than any other line in the country; so the double number of killed ceased to be matter for surprise.

By further figuring, it appeared that between New York and Rochester the Erie ran eight passenger-trains each way every day—16 altogether; and carried a daily average of 6,000 persons. That is about a million in six months—the population of New York City. Well, the Erie kills from 13 to 23 persons of its million in six months; and in the same time 13,000 of New York's million die in their beds! My flesh crept, my hair stood on end. “This is appalling!” I said. “The danger isn't in traveling by rail, but in trusting to those deadly beds. I will never sleep in a bed again.”

I had figured on considerably less than one-half the length of the Erie road. It was plain that the entire road must transport at least eleven or twelve thousand people every day. There are many short roads running out of Boston that do fully half as much; a great many such roads. There are many roads scattered about the Union that do a prodigious passenger business. Therefore it was fair to presume that an average of 2,500 passengers a day for each road in the country would be almost correct. There are 846 railway lines in our country, and 846 times 2,500 are 2,115,000. So the railways of America move more than two millions of people every day; six hundred and fifty millions of people a year, without counting the Sundays. They do that, too—there is no question about it; though where they get the raw material is clear beyond the jurisdiction of my arithmetic; for I have hunted the census through and through, and I find that there are not that many people in the United States, by a matter of six hundred and ten millions at the very least. They must use some of the same people over again, likely.

San Francisco is one-eighth as populous as New York; there are 60 deaths a week in the former and 500 a week in the latter—if they have luck. That is 3,120 deaths a year in San Francisco, and eight times as many in New York—say about 25,000 or 26,000. The health of the two places is the same. So we will let it stand as a fair presumption that this will hold good all over the country, and that consequently 25,000 out of every million of people we have must die every year. That amounts to one-fortieth of our total population. One million of us, then, die annually. Out of this million ten or twelve thousand are stabbed, shot, drowned, hanged, poisoned, or meet a similarly violent death in some other popular way, such as perishing by kerosene-lamp and hoop-skirt conflagrations, getting buried in coal-mines, falling off house-tops, breaking through church, or lecture-room floors, taking patent medicines, or committing suicide in other forms. The Erie railroad kills 23 to 46; the other 845 railroads kill an average of one-third of a man each; and the rest of that million, amounting in the aggregate to that appalling figure of 987,631 corpses, die naturally in their beds!

You will excuse me from taking any more chances on those beds. The railroads are good enough for me.

And my advice to all people is, Don't stay at home any more than you can help; but when you have got to stay at home a while, buy a package of those insurance tickets and sit up nights. You cannot be too cautious.

(One can see now why I answered that ticket-agent in the manner recorded at the top of this sketch.)

The moral of this composition is, that thoughtless people grumble more than is fair about railroad management in the United States. When we consider that every day and night of the year full fourteen thousand railway-trains of various kinds, freighted with life and armed with death, go thundering over the land, the marvel is, not that they kill three hundred human beings in a twelvemonth, but that they do not kill three hundred times three hundred!
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Re: The $30,000 Bequest, and Other Stories, by Mark Twain

Postby admin » Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:03 pm

PORTRAIT OF KING WILLIAM III

I never can look at those periodical portraits in The Galaxy magazine without feeling a wild, tempestuous ambition to be an artist. I have seen thousands and thousands of pictures in my time—acres of them here and leagues of them in the galleries of Europe—but never any that moved me as these portraits do.

There is a portrait of Monsignore Capel in the November number, now could anything be sweeter than that? And there was Bismarck's, in the October number; who can look at that without being purer and stronger and nobler for it? And Thurlow and Weed's picture in the September number; I would not have died without seeing that, no, not for anything this world can give. But look back still further and recall my own likeness as printed in the August number; if I had been in my grave a thousand years when that appeared, I would have got up and visited the artist.

I sleep with all these portraits under my pillow every night, so that I can go on studying them as soon as the day dawns in the morning. I know them all as thoroughly as if I had made them myself; I know every line and mark about them. Sometimes when company are present I shuffle the portraits all up together, and then pick them out one by one and call their names, without referring to the printing on the bottom. I seldom make a mistake—never, when I am calm.

I have had the portraits framed for a long time, waiting till my aunt gets everything ready for hanging them up in the parlor. But first one thing and then another interferes, and so the thing is delayed. Once she said they would have more of the peculiar kind of light they needed in the attic. The old simpleton! it is as dark as a tomb up there. But she does not know anything about art, and so she has no reverence for it. When I showed her my “Map of the Fortifications of Paris,” she said it was rubbish.

Well, from nursing those portraits so long, I have come at last to have a perfect infatuation for art. I have a teacher now, and my enthusiasm continually and tumultuously grows, as I learn to use with more and more facility the pencil, brush, and graver. I am studying under De Mellville, the house and portrait painter. (His name was Smith when he lived in the West.) He does any kind of artist work a body wants, having a genius that is universal, like Michael Angelo. Resembles that great artist, in fact. The back of his head is like his, and he wears his hat-brim tilted down on his nose to expose it.

I have been studying under De Mellville several months now. The first month I painted fences, and gave general satisfaction. The next month I white-washed a barn. The third, I was doing tin roofs; the forth, common signs; the fifth, statuary to stand before cigar shops. This present month is only the sixth, and I am already in portraits!

The humble offering which accompanies these remarks (see figure)—the portrait of his Majesty William III., King of Prussia—is my fifth attempt in portraits, and my greatest success. It has received unbounded praise from all classes of the community, but that which gratifies me most is the frequent and cordial verdict that it resembles the Galaxy portraits. Those were my first love, my earliest admiration, the original source and incentive of my art-ambition. Whatever I am in Art today, I owe to these portraits. I ask no credit for myself—I deserve none. And I never take any, either. Many a stranger has come to my exhibition (for I have had my portrait of King William on exhibition at one dollar a ticket), and would have gone away blessing me, if I had let him, but I never did. I always stated where I got the idea.

Image

King William wears large bushy side-whiskers, and some critics have thought that this portrait would be more complete if they were added. But it was not possible. There was not room for side-whiskers and epaulets both, and so I let the whiskers go, and put in the epaulets, for the sake of style. That thing on his hat is an eagle. The Prussian eagle—it is a national emblem. When I say hat I mean helmet; but it seems impossible to make a picture of a helmet that a body can have confidence in.

I wish kind friends everywhere would aid me in my endeavor to attract a little attention to the Galaxy portraits. I feel persuaded it can be accomplished, if the course to be pursued be chosen with judgment. I write for that magazine all the time, and so do many abler men, and if I can get these portraits into universal favor, it is all I ask; the reading-matter will take care of itself.

COMMENDATIONS OF THE PORTRAIT

There is nothing like it in the Vatican. <Pius IX.

It has none of that vagueness, that dreamy spirituality about it, which many of the first critics of Arkansas have objected to in the Murillo school of Art. Ruskin.

The expression is very interesting. J.W. Titian.

(Keeps a macaroni store in Venice, at the old family stand.)

It is the neatest thing in still life I have seen for years. Rosa Bonheur.

The smile may be almost called unique. Bismarck.

I never saw such character portrayed in a picture face before. De Mellville.

There is a benignant simplicity about the execution of this work which warms the heart toward it as much, full as much, as it fascinates the eye. Landseer.

One cannot see it without longing to contemplate the artist. Frederick William.

Send me the entire edition—together with the plate and the original portrait—and name your own price. And—would you like to come over and stay awhile with Napoleon at Wilhelmshohe? It shall not cost you a cent. William III.
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