I take the following paragraph from an article in the Boston advertiser:
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.)
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.