A Backward Glance at Eighty eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 234 pages of information about A Backward Glance at Eighty.

  “Crushed with fearful blow
    Her well-poised head.”

It was highly audacious, and but for a youthful pride of authorship and some curiosity as to how he would take it I should have omitted it.

Friends in the audience told me that the way in which I watched him from the corner of my eye was the most humorous thing in the paper.  At the beginning his head was bowed, and for some time he showed no emotion of any sort, but as I went on and it grew worse and worse, he gave way to a burst of merriment and I saw that I was saved.

I was gratified then, and his kindliness brings a little glow of good-will—­that softens my farewell.


Of Mark Twain my memory is confined to two brief views, both before he had achieved his fame.  One was hearing him tell a story with his inimitable drawl, as he stood smoking in front of a Montgomery Street cigar-store, and the other when on his return from a voyage to the Hawaiian Islands he delivered his famous lecture at the Academy of Music.  It was a marvelous address, in which with apparently no effort he led his audience to heights of appreciative enthusiasm in the most felicitous description of the beautiful and wonderful things he had seen, and then dropped them from the sublime to the ridiculous by some absurd reference or surprisingly humorous reflection.

The sharp contrast between his incomparably beautiful word paintings and his ludicrous humor was characteristic of two sides of the waggish newspaper reporter who developed into a good deal of a philosopher and the first humorist of his time.


Among my nearest friends I am proud to count Sheldon G. Kellogg, associated through both the Unitarian church, the Sunday-school, and the Chit-Chat Club.  He was a lawyer with a large and serviceable conscience as well as a well-trained mind.  He grew to manhood in the Middle West, graduated in a small Methodist college, and studied deeply in Germany.  He came to San Francisco, establishing himself in practice without acquaintance, and by sheer ability and character compelled success.  His integrity and thoroughness were beyond any question.  He went to the root of any matter that arose.  He was remarkably well read and a passionate lover of books.  He was exact and accurate in his large store of information.  Dr. Stebbins, in his delightful extravagance, once said to Mrs. Kellogg, “Your husband is the only man I’m afraid of—­he knows so much.”  At the Chit-Chat no one dared to hazard a doubtful statement of fact.  If it was not so, Kellogg would know it.  He was the most modest of men and would almost hesitate to quote the last census report to set us right, but such was our respect for him that his statements were never questioned; he inspired complete confidence.  I remember an occasion when the Supreme Court of the state, or a department of it, had rendered an opinion setting aside a certain sum as the share of certain trustees.  Kellogg was our attorney.  He studied the facts and the decision until he was perfectly sure the court had erred and that he could convince them of it.  We applied for a hearing in bank and he was completely sustained.

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A Backward Glance at Eighty from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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